Disclaimer: I do not own FF8.
Prelude to Chaos
Expectedly, the crowd had gathered. The streets were saturated with eager eyes, all waiting to see the execution promised by President Caraway. Guarding the Presidential Residence gate was a multitude of Galbadian soldiers, three of which happened to be the Posse. The idea was a brilliant maneuver on Zone's part. Seifer glanced out among the crowd and recalled all that had transpired within the last few hours.
"Okay, well, do YOU have any ideas?"
Zone flashed a sinister smile. "Actually, I do. There's no way we can get into the residence directly, and as far as we know, there's not a way to get in from the sewer. But, there is a small window of opportunity for us."
"Galbadia Garden is still on its way, and when it gets here, it's not just going to park in the residence's front yard. The gang will have to be escorted in through the front gates. That's when we slip in." Seifer shot him a look of bewilderment. Could the man really possibly be this stupid? Who had he hired?
"You're forgetting something. THEY'RE NOT JUST GOING TO LET US IN! Security is going to be tight." Zone smiled again.
"Which is why…we will be the security. We jump some Galbadian soldiers, take their uniforms, and guard the front gate. When the time comes, we slip in as well. No questions asked."
Damn. Even Seifer was impressed. He inwardly beamed at this duo's expertise. Watts was a professional at gathering information, and Zone was an ace at planning. Even if some of his plans were farfetched as hell, like that damn train mission he had heard about. Hopefully this would turn out better. Hopefully.
"Good plan. Zone and Watts, you guys stay here. No offense, but you're not fighters. You wouldn't be of any assistance this time. You guys," he turned to Raijin and Fujin, "let's go."
Fast forward less than an hour and three soldiers guarding Caraway's mansion found themselves the victim of sleeper holds, and were stripped naked.
"So uh, where are we gonna put these guys, ya know?" Seifer looked around, hoping the answer would find its way to him. He couldn't leave these guys out here. Someone would find out. Luckily, he spotted what he needed.
"There," he pointed to a circle covering the ground. It seemed as though the sewer had been the answer to everything today. Each of the Posse picked up their nude counterpart and carried them over to the covering. Seifer used his free hand to remove to opening, revealing a long drop down. He let his counterpart fall freely down, hearing a splash after a few seconds. Raijin and Fujin followed in suit. Seifer chuckled and thought to himself. 'This must be a bad fucking day for them. First they get knocked out and stripped naked, then when they wake up, they'll be covered in shit. Oh well.'
Now they were waiting. The crowd had grown to at least a couple thousand, many with signs and many chanting at the top of their lungs. In a strange twist of fate, he recalled a very similar scene a couple weeks prior, but the roles were reversed. Last time, he had been the Sorceress' knight. He stood before the masses as one of their leaders, ready to kill on command. Now, his 'glory' days gave way to him needing to steal a Galbadian suit to sneak into the residence and work against the very people he commanded before. Behind his helmet, he smirked at the irony. Strangely, he preferred it this way. There was a sense of justice this time around. He knew he was doing right. This was true glory. Maybe this time, he'd actually be successful in his endeavors.
He glanced out among the people in the crowd once more, and their reaction cemented his beliefs. Not a single person supported what Caraway was doing. There were signs advocating the SeeDs' release. There were chants of "Let them go!". A smile found its way to his face again. It was a rare comfort, indeed, but comforting nonetheless that at least some people in this world had a sense of morality. In that moment, his only wish was that he had acquired that sense sooner.
Something was spotted in the distance, far into the night sky. It was gigantic, red, and it illuminated the landscape for miles.
"Well guys," the former knight mumbled, "looks like it's showtime."
A horde of Galbadian soldiers found their way to the cell containing Zell, Irvine, Quistis, and Selphie. The four were still unaware of their impending fate. They all looked up questioningly as one of the guards removed a set of keys from his belt and began to unlock the cell.
"Get up. Time to go," he ordered.
"Uh, where exactly are we going?" Zell asked. He was hopeful that the answer was "home", but he knew that was too good to be true.
"We're five minutes from Deling City. We will escort you to the Presidential Residence for your execution," he replied coldly. All eyes within the cell widened, and all hearts sank low. Reality quickly sank in. They knew then that there was nothing that could be done. If they tried to escape, they would be responsible for the deaths of everyone in Garden. Squall was Hyne-knows-where, probably in similar condition, so nobody would be coming to save them. They had to go through with it.
A few tears rolled down the face of Selphie.
"Don't we at least get a fair trial?" she requested.
"Sefie…we didn't even do anything wrong," Irvine reminded. She looked down once more.
Zell wasn't as much sad as he was utterly pissed. It took every bit of willpower contained within him not to bash in the heads of every Galbadian alive.
"Tch, fine. Let's go," he spat.
Galbadia Garden landed, and the gang was being escorted through the immense crowd by a group of Galbadian soldiers. Each of the four knew it was the end, and like it is said, their lives started flashing before their eyes.
Selphie's first thought was the concert that they had put on as a group for Squall. A dream she had held firmly throughout her life, and promises made to her past friends, was accomplished with the three she was about to be executed with. This led to memories of Trabia, and a feeling of utter anguish overcame her as streams of salty water poured silently down her face.
True, SeeD ideally were not meant to have emotions, but facing death was not that easy. Everyone except for one person failed at that, and that was probably why he was the Commander. A slight curve formed in her lips as she recalled a man her age that she really looked up to. Squall had been the perfect SeeD; he did or felt nothing unless ordered to, and constantly strived to better himself. Memories of running into him at wee morning hours in the training center were proof of that. Yet in a matter of only a period of a few weeks, he had done nearly a 180. The cold, perfect SeeD had become human; his emotions were apparent to anyone around him. Now, her entire mouth was grinning, while the tears continued. It was an honor to have been a part of that change.
Zell's mental pacing was slightly different. He didn't fear the pain of execution, and at this point, he didn't even feel anger towards his captors. His sole thought was his mother back in Balamb. He knew his execution would be live and televised, meaning she would undoubtedly see it. He knew it had most likely already been announced worldwide, and could not even bear to imagine his mother's pain at the moment. True, recent events confirmed that Ma Dincht was only his adopted mother, but dammit, blood is red for everyone. As far as he was concerned, she was his mother, end of discussion. She raised him, fed him, supported him through every endeavor. Without his mother's strength, he had no uncertainty that he would have never succeeded.
Irvine's reaction to his impending doom was very similar. Unlike Zell, Irvine had no adopted parents. He was sent straight to Garden at a young age. His every moment was spent attempting to divert his loneliness and feeling of inadequacy. This was accomplished by perfecting his sharpshooting skills, and by flirting. Through it all, he had come out of it as he always had been- a loner. But recent events changed that. Through fate, he had been reunited with the only family he could remember. And now, they were about to meet their end. He was as well, but it didn't really register. All he wanted was to somehow save his family. Not friends, dammit, they were his family.
Quistis' mindset was perhaps the most different. Rather than feeling emotions or recalling past events, she quickly brainstormed as many scenarios as she could about how to avert this entire disaster. This had always been her way- think through things logically. So far, however, none of the plans she had come up with were satisfactory. If they tried to escape, they would cause the deaths of every SeeD in Garden. And she knew Caraway wouldn't negotiate. Maybe it was hopeless.
Seifer observed the movement of the group from the time Garden landed. They were now about twenty feet away, and closing in. He nudged Raijin and Fujin. There were about ten other guards protecting the gate: perfect. They could slip in unnoticed. A noise was heard, and the trio registered it to be the gate beginning to open. Looking over their shoulder, they glimpsed Caraway standing at the podium atop the Residence, smirking at his imminent victory. Finally, the time had come. Seifer was within arm's reach of the gang. The trio blended in with the commotion, and appeared as guards escorting the four. The plan had worked; they walked in undetected. Behind them, they heard the gate close. No turning back now.
The group came upon a staircase leading to the top of the Residence. Seifer readied his gunblade on his back, and felt a nervous sweat come across him. This was the second time he was going to threaten the life of a Galbadian president. Hoo-boy.
At long last, the group reached the top of the Residence. They approached the podium slowly. The four to be executed were sending Caraway very unforgiving looks, while the trio stood closely to them, slightly more closer than the other guards. From there, they could see for miles across Deling City. Seifer looked down at the crowd, who had maintained their chanting status. Then, something caught a glimpse out of the corner of his eye. A red light sparkled ever so faintly in the night sky, but he gave it no thought. He had more pressing matters to attend to.
"Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Galbadia," began Caraway proudly, "standing before you are four individuals responsible for the poverty we face, the ineptitude we feel in ourselves as a nation, and the sole reason that we were not the most powerful nation in the world." A cacophonous roar of "boos" rang out in protest of his speech. Caraway grinned in response, not realizing the boos were at him.
'Really?' Zell thought, sarcastically. 'We caused all of that, huh? How about I bust your ass up and solve all these peoples' problems?'
Seifer noted something in Caraway's words: "were". Why had Caraway not said "are"? Did he now consider them to be the most powerful? What secret was he hiding? Caraway continued.
"Weeks ago, these four led the assault against a great ally of ours: Sorceress Edea. Had they not interfered, Galbadia would at this moment hold Esthar in bondage, and the world would be our playground."
'What the hell?' Zell thought. 'He's the one who planned the assassination in the first place! What in the blue hell is this? What is he up to? Pathetic bastard!'
"But, my people, we shall not have to worry about the meddling of SeeD any longer! Captain, my sword," he commanded. He extended his arm outward signaling for a Galbadian soldier to hand him his weapon. As the guard began to do as instructed, the roar of loud engines thundered, and out of the clouds above, a large dragon-ship began to lower itself above the Residence.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?" Caraway bellowed, eyes widened in disbelief. He had the desire to yell at the guard to hand him his sword again, but he couldn't take his eyes off of the machine. The rest of the population couldn't either.
"YEAH!" Zell hollered, without realizing it.
"Zell!" Quistis whispered. "By our reasoning earlier, the Ragnarok must be controlled by Galbadians, right? I mean, they're the ones trying to attack Laguna? But judging by his reaction, I'd say we were wrong."
Zell's evil grin faded upon this realization. "Then…who?"
The Posse was equally curious, and kept their eyes on the ship. Seifer waited for the right moment to threaten Caraway. Now was not it.
"SOLDIERS!" Caraway ordered, "FIRE! DESTROY THAT SHIP!"
At that moment, hell officially broke loose. Around 150 Galbadian soldiers lifted their guns and began firing at the Ragnarok as it continued its slow descent. The citizen population began running and seeking shelter, in fear of the impending disaster. Within seconds, the only people in front of the Residence were soldiers. But their guns were futile; the magnetic shields equipped by Odine deflected everything that was thrown at it. The shields produced a beautiful green light, similar to the shields utilized by Lunatic Pandora. The sight next shocked the hell out of everyone. The Ragnarok reached a low altitude of maybe 20 feet or so from the ground, and the door to the hangar began to open, and what seemed to be an army commenced jumping off of the ship, to the ground. Everyone took a closer look, as it appeared that every soldier in this army was the same man.
The mouths of the Posse and the gang dropped, and Seifer rubbed his eyes.
"Raijin!" He whispered. "Have I been drinking today?"
After a moment of contemplation he replied, "I was about to ask you the same thing, ya know?"