Author's Note: After coming back and browsing through some of my reviews, I thought this needed some revamping. So I went over it and tweaked, in a manner of speaking. This is one of my darkest fics. Enjoy.


The screams echoed through the dark air, the shrill cries for mercy in the last breaths of his victim. She struggled, and the blood oozed out of her collarbone wound with each pump of her barely beating heart. Each yell was curdled with the liquid rising in her throat, and he just smiled down at her. Smiled at her tiny form writhing in his arms, straining for any life she could possibly wrench from her dying body.

"Sleep, princess. Sleep." He whispered as she took her last ragged breath.


No Mercy

By xaphanea

Part One

Xu sighed heavily, letting her entire body's weariness overwhelm her. She had been so fatigued lately, for some reason she was tired as hell. She searched the back of her mind for her junctions, and cast an Esuna on herself to ease her drooping eyelids. It didn't help much, but took the edge off enough for her to thumb through the papers on her desk. With Squall as Headmaster, she was appointed as a sort of 'Number Two' to the Garden. There were various bills, nothing unusual, but when she came to the bottom of the pile, something caught her eye. It was a blank piece of paper with a yellow post it stuck to the top.

'Xu,' It read. 'This note was at my door this morning. I'm not sure what it means, maybe there is something hidden there. Please send to analysis and get back to me. It may be a prank, but I don't want to take any chances. Thanks, Squall'

"Hm." Xu made the quaint noise with a minute curiosity wafting her senses. She ran her fingers over the paper, trying to find any sign of raised typing. She carefully removed the post it, crumpling it up and tossing it into her wastepaper basket. She held the document up against the light, but nothing came up. It was thin, but clean of any lettering. She glanced at her clock. 1:37. She fought the urge to laugh. When she was a Junior Classmen, she had to concentrate on sleeping, sometimes even use a sleep spell to help herself along. And now here she was, fighting it in the wee hours of the morning. The irony struck her as humourous, when she needed to stay awake she couldn't. At nineteen, Xu felt as if she were at least a hundred. But she couldn't complain, it was her own choice to admit herself to Garden.

Finally she decided to take the blank note down to analysis in the morning on her way to Timber. There was some business there with the Timber Owls that little Miss Heartilly needed to have attended to. She couldn't go herself because she was off in Deling visiting her father. The two had created a more stable relationship together, based on the memory of beautiful Julia Caraway. The only thing was, whenever Rinoa wanted something done, Squall always sent Xu out to do it. Unfortunate, but necessary to her career.

"(Now for some sleep...)"

"Raijin, Fujin. It's been fun." The words replayed in Fujin's head for the tenth time that night. She clutched her blanket futilely; the freezing room was enough to chill her through the thickest comforter. A shiver ran down her spine as Seifer's face once again flickered through her mind. His delicate looking features that were so strong beneath. Her harsh nature towards him had always resulted in an argument, but in truth, she never wanted to disagree with him. She wanted in all her being to just agree, and have everything be okay. They were a posse, the three of them. Raijin had split to live in Deling City, pursuing a woman he had met and trying to create a stable life for them. Yet Fujin couldn't pry herself away from Balamb Town, it was so beautiful and calm, a good place to keep her nerves down. She kept the air conditioning at such a constant level that she could turn her apartment into a meat locker, in hopes to numb her pain a little. Since Time Compression, she had felt so lost. Especially without Seifer or Raijin to wreak havoc with.

"Raijin, Fujin. It's been fun." That phrase again. It haunted Fujin. How she wished she had stayed with him. After all this time spent away, she realized how much she loved him. And in her anxious attempts to hide it, she had made an enemy of him. And in the end, deserted him. Seifer meant so much to her, and she ignored it, for reasons only Hyne knew why.

"STUPID." She cursed herself, uttering against her so-called meaningless existence once again. It was all she could do to go through life, without friends, without family. She didn't want to do it anymore, it was becoming too much. But Fujin had a feeling that something would happen for her. Something soon. She had no idea what, but it felt good. So she decided to stick around for a little while longer and investigate this feeling deep into the pit of her stomach.

"Hyne, Xu." Quistis' brow furrowed into a line of worry. "You look like shit." She took a hesitant bite of her bagel as she drove, side glancing the tired secretary.

"Really?" Xu sounded disinterested, and weary as hell. "Go figure."

"Something on your mind?" Quistis picked around her words carefully, her best friend had grown rather distant over the past little while.

"Oh the usual. Everything." Xu forced out a laugh, but Quistis didn't even crack a smile.

"Why don't you tell him it's too much for you?" She was referring to Squall, and Xu knew it. "You look so tired, and it's obviously overloading your schedule."

"Ah, it's not that, Quisty." Xu shook her head slowly, and paused as if ridding herself of some unwanted thought. "I just... I've been stressed lately. I can't exactly pinpoint what it is, but I have had a hard time just living, you know?" Quistis nodded, but Xu knew she had absolutely no thread of understanding whatsoever.

"You need to take some time off." Quistis suggested. "I'll talk to Squall for you, maybe you can head up north for a little while? Trabia might be a nice getaway..." Xu let her mind wander as Quistis rattled off about the Bika region. She blocked out the soft voice easily, as she had done so many times before with various people. She hadn't ever been so distant, especially when she had been in such high authority with Headmaster Cid. She had been such a good employee, always on time, always ahead of the game. What had happened to her?

They reached Balamb Town and Quistis dropped Xu off at the train station, giving a sympathetic farewell. She knew that Quistis was only trying to be a friend, and how frustrating it must be that she received no acknowledgement for her efforts. But Xu couldn't help it. It was just the way she was, and out of her control.

"DELING. ONE." She heard a familiar voice strictly bark at the woman behind the train ticket counter. Fujin wasn't looking much better than she was. Xu was next in line, and Fujin began to leave when she saw the familiar face beside her.

"One for Timber, please." Xu said, and flashed her Garden ID that earned her a free slip of paper for the Balamb Train.

"TOGETHER. SIT." Fujin suggested, and Xu nodded quaintly, not too eager to oblige, but not wanting to seem impolite. She also knew that Fujin didn't talk much, so if she wanted to catch some sleep, it would be possible. They took their seats on the left side of the train and waited patiently for it to start up.

"What brings you to Deling?" Xu questioned nonchalantly.

"RAIJIN." The one word answer almost made Xu laugh. She cracked a smile at least, which was something she hadn't done in a long time. The memories of the Disciplinary Committee were all quite entertaining ones.

"Fujin, do you remember the time you nearly gave me a black eye for punishing Seifer after the Dollet mission?" She inquired, and Fujin looked at her, studying her features with her one operating eye.

"AFFIRMATIVE." She nodded, and Xu saw for the first time, real fatigue in her expression. It wasn't unlike her own.

"What have you been up to lately?" She chanced another question, and the grey haired woman crossed her arms in nervous thought.

"LIVING. BARELY." Fujin spat out, biting her lip for being so open with the Garden uniform sitting beside her. The two of them hadn't spoken in nearly a year, but she sensed some sort of understanding between them. And in fact, their lives weren't that different from each other.

"Same here, unfortunately." Xu gave the reply, but neither of them had much else to say. The train lurched to life and they retreated to their own minds. They were minutely curious to the other's faring, but didn't want to press.

The train ride to Timber was approximately forty five minutes, and Xu slipped past Fujin on her way off of the magnificent piece of machinery.

"Nice talking to you, Fujin." Xu saluted briefly before stepping away, smooth strides that left more than a few people staring after her. The warm Timber air hit her harshly as she walked out of the air conditioned train station, but she adjusted quickly and pulled the blank note from her pocket. Eyes scanning the small shops, she finally found the one she was looking for, a shoe store. The owner, Mr. Oliveri Kaisa, was also an undercover analyst for the Gardens. Xu approached the back desk with an important stride, and placed the paper gently on the hardwood surface.

"How may I help ya?" The man bellowed.

"Sir, Headmaster Squall received this a little while ago." Xu pushed the paper across the table towards him, and he put his glasses on the tip of his nose to examine it closely. "It appears to be blank, but he'd like to know if there's anything hidden there." She waited patiently for a moment before Oliveri gave her a reassuring toothy grin.

"Come back into my office, Miss, and I'll take a look at it." He motioned. "I think I know just what was done to this little chunk of timber." He chuckled at his own pun to the town. Xu followed him back into a dark room with a red light in the corner. She had been there a few times before to decipher codes and such, thus she was used to the atmosphere. It was stiflingly hot, and it didn't seem to faze Oliveri at all. He muttered to himself a little, and dipped the paper into a brown syrupy substance. He then picked it out with a spatula device, and laid it down on a conveyer belt. With the push of a few buttons, the paper was hauled through countless machines, and finally, ended up on a platter to dry. When the mechanism was through, Oliveri picked up the paper and held it up to the reddish light.

"What does it say?" Xu was nearly dying of heat, and her over exhaustion wasn't helping much. Her words came out in barely a gasp, and thankfully, Oliveri made things quick.

"Well Ma'am, I believe it's in Latin." He scratched his head. "Ardente veritate urite mala mundi ardente veritate incendite tenebras mundi." As he spoke the words, Xu received a shiver down her spine. She peered over his shoulder and saw that the words were almost glowing, and seemingly hand written.

"Are you able to translate?" She hoped.

"Uh..." Oliveri stammered for a moment, and then finalized. "Brilliant truth burn the heavens of evil burning truth set ablaze the heavens of darkness." The words in plain English gave Xu an even harsher shiver, and she snatched the paper from him. The message completely disappeared, and he turned to her in expectancy.

"Do you have a portable light like that?" She asked, shaken from an unseen force within her. After little haggling, Oliveri sold her a small red light for about thirty gil, and added on an extra ten for his services. With a husky thank you, Xu walked out, pulling out her Garden cell phone. It was untraceable, the highest in cellular technology. She quickly dialed Squall's office number, and he picked up after three rings.

"Hello?" He formally introduced, sounding alert.

"Squall, that message you received... it's rather peculiar." Xu said as she briskly walked down the street towards the Timber Owl's headquarters.

"What do you mean, peculiar?" Squall scratched his head in worry.

"It was in Latin... and well, the message itself isn't the nicest thing one would say." She stopped at the yellow train parked conveniently before her, and crossed her arms. "Something about burning truth and dark heavens."

"Great Hyne." Squall managed to choke out, and then something clicked in his brain. "Can you read it to me?"

"No, I need to get somewhere dark. I bought this red light that you need to read it with." Xu bit her lip at the silence on the other end.

"Well, when you get back, come see me. I want to take a look at it." Squall finally said. "Thanks a lot, I appreciate it, Xu."

"No problem." She clicked off her phone and replaced it to it's rightful spot in her breast pocket. Now for the Timber Owls.

"Raijin, Fujin. It's been fun." Fujin snapped awake when the end of the line bell drilled into her eardrums. She stood shakily, quivering out of sleep and the face that haunted her. She made her way off of the train, stepping out into the dark station within the dark town of Deling. In truth, she hadn't come to the city to see Raijin. She didn't want to interfere with his new beginnings or get in his way. She had simply wanted to look around, find some type of link that may lead her to the one she realized she had to search for.

Seifer kept Fujin's mind on the fritz, he irked her dreams, preoccupied her life. She had to find him, it was more than simply needing him. She was afraid it had turned into a subconscious obsession that had no mercy on her heart and soul.

He had always loved to sit at the Galbadia Hotel in his spare time, and in the beginning when they were back at Balamb, he had visited often. Fujin lightly strode into the lobby, letting her feet carry her down by the stage where young Julia Caraway had once played the piano. Fujin took a seat at a vacant table, and a clean-cut man sat a tall thin glass of champagne in front of her with a pert bow. Without any expression, she sipped it lightly, wondering what type of entertainment would play her senses for the night. Her mind wandered momentarily until a thin black haired woman wearing a long purple dress came meandering out onto the stage. She had light ivory skin, almost as pale as Fujin herself. She took the microphone in a steady hand, and held it to her lips. There was no background music, just her clear voice ringing across the airwaves. The room fell silent as her tone picked up.

"Arise from your sleep, my children, your cradles shall no longer exist, arise from your sleep, children of fate, abandon your cradles." The woman's face had almost a nostalgic look on it, and Fujin was deeply unsettled at the words that came out of her mouth. "Arise, discover the garden of Truth. Brilliant truth, burn the heavens of evil, burning truth, set ablaze the heavens of darkness." Fujin nearly jumped out of her skin, and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled up. Those words, that tune... "Prevail children, fated day." She stood up abruptly, nearly knocking the table over. Her chair clattered to the carpet and everyone in the room seemed to snap out of the trance they had been in listening to the beautiful woman sing. Even the singer herself stared as Fujin bolted up the stairs in an insane frenzy to get away from the scene. She didn't look back, only fled, trying to calm her racing nerves. That song had cried out during the darkest times of Fujin's life, during the parades, during the moments where she had to watch Seifer swoon over that hateful sorceress. Only it was in Latin, a language unbeknownst to her vocabulary. So those were the words... they were terrifying. What did that young woman have to do with that song? Maybe it was just coincidence, because nobody else seemed alarmed by it. But Fujin reasoned with herself.

"(Something isn't right here.)" She finally stopped when she realized that she had traveled far without seeing where she was going. She saw General Caraway's house off to her right, and looked up at its looming figure.

"Whew." Xu breathed out heavily as she unlocked her room at the Timber Inn. After a long discussion following argument with the Timber Owls, Xu realized she'd need some sleep before heading back to Balamb in the morning. After locking the door behind her, she quickly headed to the bathroom to have a long awaited shower. After the engrossing heat of Mr. Oliveri's office she had sweated buckets, thus inclining her for a shower.

The water was heaven and she was reluctant to step out into the chill air again. She found a towel, and wrapped it's white length around her thin body before scooping up her neatly folded SeeD uniform and heading back to the bedroom.

Xu nearly had a heart attack when she saw the silhouette in the balcony window. The moon was bright in the sky, and she could make out the shape of a billowing trench coat and a glint on the top of the man's head. As the wind fluttered through the open sliding door, it blew back his coat and she made out the perfect muscular ripples on his chest, and a gasp stung her throat as he turned to look at her in the darkness.

"It's been a long time, Xu."

Fujin fell to the sidewalk, her throat clenching up and her heart pounding wildly. An icy shiver tore through her spine and she thought that it might rattle right out of her back.

"Get out of me." She hissed, feeling the essence inside of her slip around, leaving trails of hatred and anxiety on her heart. "GET OUT OF ME!" She screamed louder, completely oblivious to the people staring at her on the sidewalk. She couldn't move, but then, she could barely think. She squeezed her eyes shut and it began to rain, pelting ice cold droplets on her exposed skin like angry bullets. Everyone made a mad dash for the nearest shelter, but Fujin stayed on her hands and knees, fighting the tears that threatened her. Something was terribly wrong; something had happened that would alter her life forever. Something was inside of her, something dangerous and beautiful at the same time. She couldn't explain the feelings at all, but it squeezed her heart painfully. "Please... please get out of me..."