The Fourth Universe - 1
[08.07.00] » by Soul-Hunter
saviors of the universe. Guardians of humanity."
A crystal orb shines crimson
luminescence, projecting hazy mystic images of six resolute young men and women defying
tremendous odds in their attempt to vanquish the most despicable evil to have threatened
all of existence.
"Ignoring their weaknesses,
putting aside personal strife, conquering their direst and deepest fears."
Glowing bright yellow after
casting a spell of motivational rage upon himself, a statuesque lad clad with a long coat
and dirt-black hat clenched his teeth, as his impressive silver-coated combat rifle fired
salvo after salvo of devastating neutron pulse energy beams at the majestic and
fear-inspiring entity whose vile designs sought to compress all of space and time. With
each hit, the entity winces in pain, unable to resist the debilitating effect of
concentrated subatomic particles bombarding its chronal energy-infused form.
"Their voyage was a long,
arduous, and even painful one. Overwhelming horrific adversities, they have at last come
face-to-face with this abomination of a sorceress."
Embattled to the core of his
being, the man garbed in black poured all his energy in unleashing his deadliest maneuver:
a flurry of lightning-quick swings, stabs and slashes that pummeled the weakened enemy. It
culminated in a powerful final blow that left an energy trail right through the
abominations battered body.
"And in the end, they
prevailed. They have saved existence from total extinction. And the world now owes them a
debt that not even a million willing lives can sufficiently repay. There is no question
about it. They are heroes. Magnificent warriors and protectors of lifes inviolable
White light fills the void. The
air crackles with unimaginable power as the very life essence of the wicked sorceress
empties back into the physical realm from whence it was stolen. Infernal noise resonates
into all directions as her hellish screams of agony explodes uncontrollably.
Unfazed and unfettered, the
mighty sestet just stood there, gazing with squinted eyes at the spectacular demise of the
repulsive death-bringer. Their black-clad leader maintained his menacing battle stance.
The girl with the golden locks didnt relinquish the tight grip on her flexible whip.
One whose face is painted with an undiscernable pattern stays close-fisted, still prepared
for the unexpected.
"No, not heroes. That is an
understatement. An insult."
Then it began to die down. The
light, the noise, the screams, all subsiding one after the other. Until there was
"Legends. Legends all. To the
very core of their beings."
except for the six
stalwart warriors. Exhausted, panting, and shaking with residual rage. But their faces are
marked with nothing but relief. A job well done. A journey ended. A mission accomplished.
A universe saved.
"And I despise them. I hate
each and every one of them. And I will take pure joy in purging their battle-ridden bodies
of the very life essence that animates them."
The crimson light swirls and
spirals. Then dims into nothingness to reveal a huge silhouette. Gargantuan and ominous,
the mere shadow of the incognito figure speaks pure might. Unadulterated power.
"If you hate them so much, then
why are you even bothering to
glorify their exploits?"
The dark shade began.
"Glorify..? Glorify?!? I can
see that the years have not been good to you, old friend. Wheres your cunning? Your
diabolically astute judgment? Have they been all dulled by those countless centuries of
sleeping inside that pathetic lamp? Have they been stripped of the very basic rule of
battle that demands for warriors to know their enemies?"
" a barely
audible groan echoed.
"Youve been away too
long. As have I. And both our faculties arent as sharp as they used to be."
"No kidding." retorted the
shadow. He then followed it up with an inquiry spawned by distant memories of the past.
"It wouldnt have to be that way if you only listened to me before. Like, I
still cant understand why youd give away your powers just like that."
"I thought it was the call of
the times. Wealth and power can only get a woman so far. And I thought Id be happier
if my name becomes spoken through the ages with a tone befitting that of a legend."
"So whats your problem?
You got what you wanted. Not too many sorceresses become the center icon of religions, you
"Among a pitiful group of
useless old hags who are mostly looked down by the better part of society? You call that
being a legend?" snarled the first figure covered with a blood-red cloak. "And
to make things monumentally worse, THESE upstarts completely surpassed my greatness! And
all it had to take was ONE battle against Ultimecia."
"What can I say?" replied
the shadowy figure. "Some guys have all the luck."
"Do not mock me, creature. We
may go a long way back, but dont ever think Id hesitate to have you regressed
to a pathetic Imp."
The enormous silhouette didnt
answer, visibly shaken by the concealed womans fearsome threat.
"Enough talk. We have a job to
do. Have you accomplished what I set you out to do?"
"Yes I have, my lady. The
remaining three have all been accounted for."
"And..?" the woman asked
as she stared intently at her co-conspirator.
yes, of course.
One is a flower vendor at Winhill. The second is a young mother based in Dollet. And we
both know where the third one can be found."
youre pulsating. Too eager to go after the third target?" the woman inquired
with a wry smile.
"Hrrr, YES!" the creature
I have waited so long for this golden chance at retribution!"
"Are you sure you want to do
this, Tengu? You dont find your task daunting? You do know quite well that
youll be facing nothing less than a Guardian Force."
"ARRRGGGHHHHH!!! I WANT HIS
BLACK AND STINKING BLOOD WASHING DOWN THE ROTTING MEAT CRUMBS CLINGING ON MY THROAT! AND I
WILL SEE HIS REPULSIVE HEAD ADORNING THE VERY EDGE OF MY FEARSOME DEMON ROD! I
HAVE MY REVENGE ON DIABLOS!"
"That you will." The
mysterious woman concurred. "You will have your revenge, and I will regain my
Godhood. This is going to be the sweetest moment in both our eternal lives, Tengu."
Sturdy steel structures and titanium
trusses provide an unsightly contrast to the breath-taking grandeur of the famous Balamb
Garden central edifice. Its not exactly a sight to behold, but at least Quistis
knows that the work of restoring the Garden to its original sight in Balamb country will
be over within a month. The popular instructor of the illustrious military academy lets
out a sigh. For what purpose, shes not so sure.
It has been a year since that
fateful event when they were compelled by incredible circumstances to travel into the
future and face the vile sorceress known only as Ultimecia. Quistis still remembers the
battle quite well. Well, who wouldnt. It almost cost her and her friends their
lives. But more importantly, it was truly a task where failure was not an option. Anything
less that total and complete victory would have meant the end of all that is, was, and
will be. Though it has been that long, she still shudders at the thought of what their
failure could have amounted to.
"Hmph, better stop thinking
about it." the wise teenager dismissed her thoughts.
"Seems like yesterday when we
last visited this place, huh." A voice from behind startled the bemused SeeD. She
turned around to the welcome sight of her comrade and long time friend, the now equally
popular Squall Leonhart.
"What? Oh, yeah. Seems
" Quistis trailed off, half questioning the circumstances that brought him
to approach her like this. For as long as she can remember, not once did Squall take the
initiative to come and talk to her. She was always the first to approach, the first to
break the silence, and the first to be given the cold shoulder.
But what the heck, Quistis thought.
It was all in the past. Though she knows only too well how notorious Squall was for his
chilly attitude towards everybody, her observations of his recent behavioral pattern seems
to suggest that he is indeed a changed man. And frankly, shes not even
half-surprised. Funny how being in love brings out the best in nearly everybody.
"Hey Squall. Fancy meeting you
here." Quistis retorted as Squall occupied a spot right next to her along the wrought
iron railings of the secret place, a secluded location in the Garden just
beyond the monster-infested training center. "Wheres Rinoa?"
"Shes with Zell. And
guess what those two are talking about."
"What?" the pretty
instructor quizzically replied.
"Zell, of all people, is trying
to convince Rinoa to give it a shot at a heart-to-heart talk with her father." Squall
shot back, trying to hide an amused smile. "Dont you find that funny?"
"Zell? No, not at all. You
know, Squall, you should give the guy more credit. Zell
he seems to act brash and
impatient most of the times. But hes a good man. If anything, he just cares too much
"You think so?"
"I know so. And among the six
of us, I think Zell is most qualified to give Rinoa a pointer or two about getting along
with her folks. Remember, hes the only one among us who actually had a pretty good
childhood with a real family." Quistis added, referring to the Dinchts, a kindhearted
family in Balamb who adopted Zell and brought him up as their own.
"Hmm, youre right. I
totally forgot about his Ma Dincht. Damn GFs."
"There you go again." The
instructor exclaimed while tossing a rolling glance toward her erstwhile student.
"You know, you really cant go blaming the GFs whenever you forget
"Yeah, I guess youre
right, as usual
" Squall snapped back as he looked at Quistis. He totally forgot
about the next thing he wants to say when he noticed how his former instructors eyes
sparkled as it fixed its gaze on him. Squall fell silent, totally caught off guard and not
knowing how to react while Quistis stared at him with those mesmerizing blue eyes. Though
theyve been friends for so long, this is perhaps the first and only time when he got
a really good look at her. Struck with a sudden bout of discomfort, Squall tried to avoid
staring back at her, but for some reason he found himself not wanting to tear his eyes off
her lovely face.
are you looking
at me like that, Quistis?"
It took a few moments before the
instructor responded. "H-Huh? Oh, uhh
nothing. Nothing. Im
" Quistis stuttered, as if she just snapped out of a hypnotic spell.
I have to go."
Squall did nothing but watch as the
visibly shaken Quistis hurriedly ran off. Quite a few seconds had already elapsed, but the
stalwart SeeD was still gazing at the door where the instructor made her exit.
Turning his eyes toward the
awe-inspiring sight of Balamb Garden, Squall cant help but shake his head as he
recalled how, at this very spot, he crassly turned his back on her on that night of the
SeeD inauguration more than a year ago. For the first time in his life, Squall felt
repentant for the countless times he turned a deaf ear on almost everyone who asked for
A deafening roar from the training
center ripped through the silence which made Squall jerk in attention.
Squall unsheathed his gunblade as he
dashed for the monster lair. There he found Quistis, face-to-face with a full grown
T-Rexaur beast. With its gaping jaw and sharp fangs, the gargantuan monster flailed its
massive tail as it prepares to pounce on the combat-ready instructor.
"Thanks for the assist, Squall.
But I think I can handle this overgrown lizard. I still have a hundred Death junctioned to
my status attack." Quistis assured her comrade who had just joined her. But before
she can lash out on the beast with her deadly whip, a booming voice rang out from nowhere.
"NO!" the voice echoed,
which distracted the two SeeDs. And before they could react, a man came running out of the
bushes toward the monster. With lightning quick moves, the stranger managed to mount the
T-Rexaur on the back of its neck. He hurled a metal ball attached to a long line
apparently made up of Ochu tentacles; and as he jerked on the rope, the metal ball made a
curved path around the creatures neck, coiling the rope around it. The T-Rexaur
became even more enraged, bucking and struggling about as it tried to throw the fearless
intruder off its back.
Squall and Quistis just stood there,
mouths agape with wonder while witnessing the stranger riding the fearsome beast like a
proverbial rodeo cowboy. They hardly even noticed the arrival of Selphie, Irvine, Zell and
Rinoa, who joined them when they heard the T-Rexaurs loud howling from the
"Whats the commotion all
whoa!" Irvine blurted out. "Wow! Cool! Ive always wanted to do
that on a T-Rexaur!"
It seemed to take forever. But
finally, the monster got tired of struggling and opted to fold its legs and rest its head
on the ground in an apparent gesture of surrender. Looking equally exhausted, the stranger
cautiously climbed down from the beasts neck. He stood in front of it for a few
moments, then gave it a strong slap just above its nostrils. The T-Rexaur slowly picked
itself up and subsequently strutted back and disappeared into the woods. When they became
certain that it has indeed left, Squall and his crew approached the man, not knowing how
to act in reaction to his unconventional display of courage.
"Just have to show him
whos boss, thats all." The stranger muttered when the SeeDs came within
"Thats what we intended
to do if you hadnt gotten in the way." Squall retorted, seemingly irked by the
"And how did you plan to do it?
By killing that poor creature? As you may have noticed, there are other LESS violent ways
of approaching certain adversities."
Squall was about to give him the rub
down when the strangers appearance stirred some remote memories in his mind,
recalling the time when the out-of-control Garden accidentally careened into the town
called Fishermans Horizon.
"Hey, I know you, dont I?
Are you one of the guys from FH doing the restoration job on the Garden?" he asked,
referring to the crew of FH technicians who offered to lend their expertise in restoring
Balamb Garden back to its original site, which it was forced to abandon in the effort to
save itself from the missiles launched by Galbadia.
But Squall never got an answer to
his question. Quietly coiling the Ochu rope back to its harness on his utility belt, the
man ignored the six and promptly made his way to the exit. Squalls eyebrows drew
closer. He felt the same bad vibes as before when he first met the man along the docks of
"Hmph, for someone living in a
town that hates fighting, that guy could sure give the average SeeD a run for his
money." Zell exclaimed, obviously impressed by what he saw.
"I heard you had a talk with
Zell about General Caraway." Squall started as he lay beside Rinoa in one of the SeeD
single room quarters in the dormitory. "So how was it?"
"I dont know." She
hesitated. "I dont know if I can still talk to him."
Squall let out a long sigh. Though
he still maintains a hands-off attitude towards other peoples problems unless they
explicitly ask for his help, deep inside, he really wants Rinoa to be reconciled with her
father. Because thats what hes been itching to do himself. Its already
been a year, and yet he still cant manage to gather himself for a heart-to-heart
talk with Laguna. Though the evidences he collected for the past few months do suggest a
conclusion that Laguna and Raine are indeed his parents, Squall still doesnt know
how to start a conversation with the current president of technologically advanced Esthar.
Theres just too many things to consider and too much complexities to resolve. How do
I start? How would I react? I used to think of him as a moron
I wonder how hed
take it. So many questions, Squall pondered. Is he ready for the answers?
"I have to go
muttered as he lifted himself off the bed. "Ill just see you tomorrow. Good
Rinoa didnt answer. She just
looked at him lovingly as he made his way towards the door. Just before disappearing from
her sight, Rinoa called out to Squall.
well, you know
weve been going out for more than a year
" Rinoa shyly remarked, which
drew a fascinated smile from the SeeD commander.
"Do you think
well, you know
spend the night with me..?"
Squall grinned even wider while
staring back at the woman he loves with adoring eyes. No audible response came out from
him as he went back inside her room and locked the door behind him.