Author's Notes: It's my first time at a serious Epic. FEEDBACK! It's nice. I like it.
Disclaimer: NOT MINE. There? You happy? You should be.
Beta'd by: laughingwolf
"I just don't understand it. We used to have so many Cadets. Now, there's barely any to cover the jobs that are coming in." I blew my bangs out of my eyes and looked up.
Zell raised his eyebrow at me.
"What?" I asked. I knew there was something he wanted to talk to me about, and like usual, I kept putting it off. I closed the latest folder for a request for SeeDs and sighed.
"Okay, you've been waiting. Lay it on me." I sighed and stretched the kinks out.
"I know you won't like it. Hell, I don't like it, but Xu thought I should pass it up to you."
The short martial artist flipped a folder open and placed it in front of me. I knew already that I wasn't going to like it. Usually, with the media, it's bad news for the Garden. The media and Garden don't go well together. And if it was bad news, I didn't want to see it. I looked at him almost pleadingly. I really didn't want to be brought up to speed with the news out there, not right now, but Xu, who is in charge of media relations for the Garden, amongst other things thought it was important enough for me to look at now.
I scanned the papers in front of me. I could feel the colour draining from my face.
"Is this a joke? Please tell me this is a sick joke." I looked up at Zell, pleading now.
The blonde shook his head. "No, it isn't. The death rate of Sorceresses has been going up dramatically. And if you flip that page over, that is a formal request from Dollet's Dukedom, the President of Deling City, and from Mayor Dobe from Fisherman's Horizon that the Gardens do something about it."
I blinked at the formal request, and then cast my eyes up at Zell. "You're kidding me right? What the hell are we suppose to do!? Round up all the Sorceresses out there and get them to fess up to what's happening? I somehow don't think that will work. We don't even know what's happening, how are we supposed to put a stop to it?"
"We could do that if, and it's a big if, we had the man power or the time. However, Xu wanted a meeting later to go over ideas about what to do. There's one name that seems to be popping up more often though, and it's not a known Sorceress."
I glance at Zell, raising an eyebrow, "oh? And what's that name?"
The phone buzzed, cutting Zell off and leaving me flinching.
I picked up the handset and mumbled "Hello."
Zell wandered behind me, and gave my shoulders a rub. He was a blessing on days like this, where the stress was so high it was a few short from literally being physical on my shoulders.
I start to relax under my lover's skilled hands and listen to my secretary tell me "Edea Kramer is here to see you."
I sigh, nod and tell her to send her in. I feel Zell's hands leave my shoulders and it's almost as if I can feel the stress lean on me again.
I close the media file and a couple other confidential folders and make an attempt to straighten my desk as the door opens.
I glance up and see a very stunning woman walk towards me, followed by a tall blonde man.
I stand and hold my hand out to her "Edea Kramer, correct?"
She nods, her long, dark hair falling around her. "Yes Commander and this is Seifer Almasy, my apprentice."
I shake his hand as well and take my seat.
My eyes fall on both of them, first her. Edea Kramer. The name rings a bell, but I can't place it right off the top of my mind. She's stunning to look at, and very youthful looking. She can't be much older than I am, than any of us here; however, something in my mind tells me she is much older.
My glance steals to her companion, Seifer. He has a presence to him. It's subtle, but powerful. He's very calming as well, but there seems to be something lurking underneath that I can't quite pin down, I quickly glance back to Edea.
"What can I do for you?"
Edea shifts slightly in her seat and looks at me. "I'm not sure where to start, so, I'll start at the beginning."
I nod and wait. Zell leans slightly against my desk.
"Well, as you probably know I am a Sorceress, and I teach those who have the skills about their powers and what not."
My mind sank back into its self. That's where her name was familiar. She was The Edea Kramer. The wife of Cid Kramer: one of the proprietors and former headmaster of Balamb Garden. She was the one, according to Cid, who had the idea to create Garden's around the world, for destruction of Sorceresses when they became power hungry and mad. My mind was taking this in, or processing the information, however, she kept talking.
"Well, one of my apprentices had gone missing, only to pop up yesterday and rape Seifer-"
I cut her off. Did she think that just because she helped create the Garden's that we were her personal law enforcement?
I had to ask, to make sure. "So, you want us to go and get your other apprentice because she raped him?" There was a mix of disbelief and annoyance hanging on my voice.
Seifer opened his mouth to say something, thought better and quickly closed it.
"There is more to it than that Commander... "
I was seething. SeeDs were not her personal law enforcement. I couldn't get over the nerve of this woman. My disbelief must have been apparent on my face since Zell spoke up. "Squall, maybe we should hear her out. Lady Kramer did say there was more... "
I sighed deeply and thought of my options, I figured that I would ask her to leave before I got really upset.
"Lady Kramer, I believe that right now, I'm going to ask you to leave. Balamb Garden is not a law enforcement agency; you of all people should know that. And if you had issues, it would have been wise to speak to Esthar Garden, as they are closer to your location anyways, are they not?" I watched as disbelief spread over her face, and she slowly nodded. "Now, I have many other issues at hand that I have to contend with.
Errant apprentices are something that we don't deal with. Rape is something that we don't deal with. That would be for local law to deal with, what Garden deals with is power hungry or mad Sorceresses or Sorcerers, so, until you have a power hungry Sorceress, don't bother us with small and trite things. We, and I believe I can speak for all other Gardens on this, are becoming sick and tired of being treated like local law enforcements. We are not. We are mercenaries. Thank you, you may leave now."
Edea sat there blinking for a few moments, and then regained her composure.
"Fine, I thought that-"
"You thought what? That since you helped create Garden that you could waltz in and demand things? No. You are sadly mistaken. If this sort of action persists, I believe that Balamb Garden will be signing the Anti-Sorceress Act. I am done. Leave. Now."
I swung my chair around and played with my filing cabinet.
I heard the door open, and then Edea's voice filled the room again. "I think, that maybe, you should have heard all of what I had to say. If you wish to speak to me further, you know where to find me."
I spun my chair around to look at Edea, but she had left already. Seifer was getting up and looked at me sadly. "If you won't help us catch Rinoa, we'll do it on our own. I'm sorry to have bothered you."
Zell watched him leave then turned to me. "That was harsh. However, Seifer mentioned Rinoa, and that was in the file I gave you."
"Maybe next time, you should listen to everything huh?"
I sighed heavily and slide my fingers through my messy hair. "Yes. Yes I should have. I shouldn't have meetings with people when I'm this stressed out." I looked up into my lover's eyes and smiled weakly. "Do you think you're fast enough to catch them?"
Zell smiled, showing the ends of his fangs. "I can try!" and with those words, left me to the rest of my work.
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