Phoenix: Prologue

The rain was relentless. It had poured for three days straight. It was one of the worst storms Winhill had ever seen. Lightning flashed across the sky, illuminating the man's face for just a moment in the darkness. Even with the rain, the summer heat was oppressive. He looked down at the cart next to him, a malignant smirk passing over his lips. He spoke to the still form lying covered on the wagon. He knew his words went unheard, but he spoke them anyway.

"You deserve this, you know. Whatever they have planned, you deserve it. I want you to know this is your fault. You brought this upon yourself."

Lightning struck somewhere off in the fields, sending a tremor through the ground seconds later.

"If you just would have loved me instead of him, we wouldn't be here tonight. You'd still be alive and I wouldn't be doing what I'm about to do. I wouldn't hate you so much."

The wind gusted and changed the direction of the rainfall for just a moment, making the rain fall horizontally. Off in the fields, lightning struck again.

"This never had to happen; I never wanted it to happen, but you made me. You brought me to this," he spat, venom in his words.

He looked down the road at the approaching headlights in the distance.

"They're coming for you," he said to the form wrapped in blankets. It's not like he expected a response.

He laughed a sinister chuckle into the wind a spoke again.

"Those dumb bastards back in the village, they're so naïve. They think you're six feet under. It's their own damn fault they never bothered to look in the coffin one last time. They thought you were so special, such a saint. But I knew what you really were. You were just a whore. A whore who fell for that filthy Galbadian soldier. A lot of good that did you, huh?" he asked aloud.

The truck was getting closer now. It was having trouble navigating through a divot in the road that had filled with floodwater.

"That idiot soldier is gonna be heartbroken if he ever comes back. I can't wait to see him suffer. I'm sure he'll put on great show. The villagers will surely do their part to make his life miserable. They hate him almost as much as I do. It'll be great," he laughed, an evil flicker passing over his eyes.

The unmarked vehicle stopped directly in front of him. Three figures stepped out and one approached him, holding an umbrella over its head. He couldn't see their faces in the dark. They were dressed in civilian clothes, one wearing a short skirt. They obviously waned to blend in with the local populous and did not want to draw any unwanted attention to themselves. Two of the figures immediately went the cart and started to move the wrapped object.

"Not so fast," the man barked. "Hands off until I get my payment."

The person in the skirt reached inside her light summer jacket and pulled out an envelope. "It's all there, the amount you were promised," the woman said, her voice almost drowned out by the sound of the rain.

The man inspected his bounty and acknowledged his acceptance. The female agent motioned to her two companions to start loading the cargo and then held out her hand, palm up, as if she was expecting something in return.

"Oh yeah," the man replied. "Here."

He tossed an envelope haphazardly at her, catching her off guard. It almost hit her in the face. She fumbled while trying to catch it and not drop her umbrella in the process.

"It's all there, all her information. She died yesterday, around 10pm," he stated, flatly.

The woman looked over the contents of the envelope for a moment, and then nodded in with apparent satisfaction.

"And you're sure there's no next of kin?" she inquired. "Dr. Odine doesn't want anybody trying to claim the body down the line."

"No," he said, emotionless. "No one's going to miss her. She was trash. Trash the village is glad to be rid of." He spat on the ground and wiped his mouth on his sleeve.

Disgusted by his spitting, the female agent wrinkled her nose in repulsion. "And the child?"

"Dead too," he lied.

"Well, everything seems to be in order. Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Barclay. Dr. Odine thanks you for your willingness to help with his project. Your information gathering services have always been appreciated by the lab," she said. She looked up at the sky in annoyance as the rain continued to fall, unabated. "And of course," she continued," you understand the need for you to keep quiet about this transaction, as always. It is of the utmost importance for the security of the project and the teams involved."

"Yeah, my lips are sealed," he said, placing the envelope with his payment securely in his back pants pocket.

The female agent turned and moved around the side of the vehicle, getting in the passenger side. The other agents closed the back of the truck and also got in. The vehicle sped away, spraying mud back at Barclay. He grumbled as he wiped the mud splatters off the front of his pants.

"Enjoy yourself, bitch," he snarled after the truck.

He looked down at his watch. 11:37 pm, August 24th. He turned his head up towards the sky and let the rain pelt his face. He then started back down the side road towards the soft lights on the horizon. The rumbling thunder continued, drowning out the cries of a newborn in the sleeping village ahead.

XxX XxX XxX XxX

Author's notes: This story will span a few different time frames. The first part is seventeen years pre-game, with the last(and longest) part taking place five years post-game. You will always be told when a time change happens! I promise Squall and Laguna will be in it eventually…please be patient and keep reading! (Rinoa, however will not be included, because she just didn't fit into my story. Sorry Squinoa fans! I hope this doesn't deter you from reading!)

I have had this idea for many years, and finally found the time to get it written.

I always appreciate constructive criticism, but please no flames…my fire proof coat is at the cleaners. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the ride.

-Bebedora