Chapter Fourteen

By Scarlet Fever

"Well, well, what a surprise!" Rinoa greeted, a big smile on her heart-shaped face. "Squall mentioned that you were in town!" She ushered for Seifer and Zell to come in the house.

Zell smiled brightly. "Yeah, we all got in town yesterday. When did Squall call you?"

Rinoa narrowed her eyes, hearing slight harshness in Zell's voice when he mentioned her former boyfriend. "He just called like an hour or so ago."

Seifer crossed his arms over his chest, smiling at Rinoa, the corners of his aquatic eyes crinkled in a friendly manner. "Well, I guess he just wanted to say hi."

Rinoa fiddled with the hem of her shirt. "Well, actually, he sounded really upset...." She made a motion with her arm for Seifer and Zell to follow her. "He was asking about you guys...."

"Really?" Zell asked, pursing his lips when his voice came out clipped and sharp. He relaxed his features and gave Rinoa an easy smile. "I wonder what's wrong....." Zell smiled sadly. "I mean, I hope Squall would be able to confide in us..."

Rinoa smiled sadly, leading the blondes into the study. She was getting a distinctly chilly air from both of them, particularly Seifer. Seifer Almasy was never the most social of men, but his frostiness seemed downright wrong. And, there was a dark air coming from Zell. Less frosty and more malevolent. "You guys have been getting really close with Squall, haven't you?"

Seifer cocked his head, and Rinoa noticed his nostrils flaring slightly, like he was smelling something in the air that Rinoa herself couldn't sense. She unconsciously smelled the air as well, but couldn't smell anything besides the fresh cut flowers in the hallway.

"Oh, yes... Squall's very close to us..." Zell said quietly, giving Seifer a sidelong glance. "I'm sure we'll get closer...."

Rinoa furrowed her brow. Zell was acting very strangely. So was Seifer. Seifer was like a walking statue, a shell, like he was missing something. Zell's behaviour disturbed Rinoa more. He was very hard, so unlike his usual friendly, bubbly self.

"So..." Rinoa trailed off. "Are things okay with you guys?" She asked as her, Zell and Seifer sat in the library, surrounded by books, and the familiar painting and statue that led to the sewers of Deling City. "You seem a little distant. You're not having problems, are you?"

Zell smiled, baring his small fangs. Rinoa could have sworn that all his teeth had sharpened to points, not just his usual canines. "Why would you ask that? Seifer and I are very happy...." Zell reached his hand out, looping Seifer's fingers with his own.

Seifer smiled at Zell, and Rinoa sighed in relief. It looked familiar, happy, loving. Like Zell and Seifer were the only people in the world. It put Rinoa immediately at ease, as well as disgusting her to the bone. Not because of the homosexual aspect, which she didn't mind in the least, but because of some dark feeling that made her feel very dirty and unsafe.

"That's nice..." Rinoa sighed. "I wish things had turned out better for me and Squall. But, he was so distant during the last part of our relationship..." She stared off into space, then looked at Seifer. "I'm sorry I kissed you at the retirement party..."

Zell narrowed his eyes at her, and she almost purposely kept her gaze away from him. Seifer just smiled, his lips curling away from his teeth, almost like a corpse. Rinoa couldn't keep the shiver out of her body. It reminded her of when Ultimecia had controlled her all those years ago. It felt like Ultimecia was in her again. She felt like a Sorceress again. And, it was horrible. She wondered where it was coming from. A wave of nausea washed over her, and she pressed her fingertips into her forehead.

"What's wrong?" Zell asked quietly. But, Rinoa got the distinct impression that he couldn't care in the least. What was going on? Rinoa felt like she had fallen into a parallel dimension.

"Do you guys feel something... Strange...?" Her voice trailed off as she remembered the vision of Adel and Ultimecia coming to her door. Her coffee eyes travelled to Seifer, to Zell, and back again. She laughed aloud.

"What's so funny?" Seifer asked, confusion lacing his voice.

Rinoa clamped her mouth shut, hearing something ugly in Seifer's voice. Some sort of harsh dialect encroaching into the smooth words that were coming out of his throat. "What's going on? What do you want?"

Zell and Seifer smiled, their gazes sliding to each other. Zell laughed cruelly, sneering at Rinoa, who was now terrified.

"You have something that belongs to me," Seifer mused. "I've kome to take it back."

"Quistis, what's wrong?" Nida asked, coming into the large Headmaster's office. "You sounded very urgent...."

Xu crossed her arms over her chest. "Nida, we would like you to come with us to Galbadia. We need to get there fast...."

Nida cocked his head. Xu was standing beside Quistis's chair, looking very no-nonsense. Quistis was sitting with her fingers steepled under her graceful chin. He was one of the only people that knew about Quistis and Xu's relationship, and the fact that they weren't looking at each other made him very nervous. "What's going on?"

"I phoned Squall this afternoon. He's in Galbadia with Edea Kramer, Seifer Almasy and Zell Dincht. He didn't tell me anything, but I know Squall. There's something very wrong, and I want to go to Deling City. I got reports from as far away as Trabia about a strange shadow in the ocean, and found out from Squall that it was Seifer using his newfound Sorcery powers."

"What?!" Nida exclaimed, his dark eyes widening. His pretty, elfin face became pale. "Seifer Almasy has Sorcery powers...?"

Quistis nodded gravely. "Of course, you realize that this information does not leave the room."

"Understood," Nida said lowly. "So, what was the... shadow in the ocean?"

"Not really sure," Xu butt in. "It looked like a cyclone. Squall didn't go into many details before he hung up on me."

"Well, Galbadia is a big continent... Are you sure he'll be in Deling?"

Quistis looked at Nida over the rims of her glasses. "The only destination I know to be fact is that Zell, Seifer, Squall and Edea went to the Tomb Of The Nameless King. I called President Loire of Esthar, and he said that Squall was staying at the Galbadia Hotel."

"I'm sure Squall can take care of himself, and he's with Zell, Seifer and Edea..." Nida frowned. "They're all skilled fighters. Squall is the best SeeD we have..." He trailed off, stopping his words. If he wanted to, he could go on and on about Squall. He almost worshipped the auburn-haired SeeD, and wished he could be just like Squall in the battlefield.

"True, true," Quistis said. "But, I can't ignore this gut instinct that something terrible is going to happen."

Nida frowned further. Whenever the former Instructor and now Headmaster had a bad gut feeling, it was usually right. "Who else is going?"

"Just us three for now... I don't want to send an army for something that could just be in my imagination..." Quistis trailed off. She stood, a shiver passing through her spine. Something was wrong.

"What is it?" Xu asked, noticing the visible stiffness passing over her lover.

"I... I don't know..."

Nida folded his hands on his flat stomach, alarm rising in him. "Something's wrong....I can feel something in the air... It feels... ugly...."

Xu narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean, you can feel something?"

Nida blinked, his heart shaped lips parted. "I'm slightly empathic. I don't tell anyone, because..."

"It's derived from Sorcery..." Xu finished.

Nida nodded.

"You have Sorcery powers?" Quistis asked lowly.

"Not really," Nida began to explain. "Sort of in the same realm as Ellone's powers had been. But, they aren't very good, and horribly unreliable. But, that's not the point!" Nida exclaimed. "Something's wrong.... Now," He looked at Xu and Quistis. "How did Seifer Almasy get Sorcery powers? Did he get them from Edea?"

Quistis and Xu shook their heads. "We're not really sure. But, no, he did not get them from Edea. We don't know exactly how he got them. But, from what I heard from President Loire, Seifer's mother was a Sorceress. Maybe he already had powers," Quistis explained.

"His mother?" Nida narrowed his eyes. "Well, at the time that Seifer was born, there was Edea, but she was too young, Adel and.... " He narrowed his eyes. "Xerampelinae."

Xu's eyes went as wide as saucers. "How the fuck did you know that?!"

"Mythology is one of my passions. I combed stories of that time. I thought Xerampelinae was just a Myth....." He sighed. "Wow...."

"Now's not the time to be wistful!" Quistis exclaimed. "Now, in Deling City, there is also Rinoa Heartilly. Maybe she'll know something about Squall's behaviour."

"But, I thought they broke up..." Nida smiled softly. He knew about the rather ugly way that Squall and Rinoa had ended their relationship, that Squall had hit her after she did something. Rumour was that she kissed Seifer, whom Nida also knew was in a sexual relationship with Zell Dincht. Nida couldn't really say that he would miss Rinoa. She'd always treated him as more of a servant destined to chauffer Squall around. Or, maybe that was Nida superimposing that moniker on her. As well as idolizing Squall Leonhart, Nida also had a bit of a crush on him.

Xu narrowed her eyes. "What are you smiling at?"

Nida gave her a look. "I'm not smiling." He turned to Quistis. "We can leave whenever you're ready, Headmaster."




The President of Esthar turned his head, looking at Kiros. They were sitting on their bed, watching television. Or, rather, Kiros was watching television, and Laguna was staring off into space.


"You're the one who wanted to watch this stupid movie, and you aren't even paying attention...." Kiros stretched his long, graceful limbs, giving Laguna a look. "What's going on? You haven't been this distant since they closed that Ice Cream place in the shopping center."

Laguna frowned. "It's nothing....." He sighed. "Man, they had good ice cream."

"Fine...." Kiros turned back to the movie. "Can I please turn this off?"


Kiros shook his head, turning to the news. "Oh, I'm breaking up with you. Squall gives better head than you do."

"Uh huh...." Laguna narrowed his sparkling blue eyes. "Wait a second. What did you say?"

"I knew that would get your attention." Kiros gave his long-time lover a roll of his dark eyes.

"You're dumping me for my son?!" Laguna crossed his arms over his chest.

Kiros laughed throatily. "No... Don't be so gullible." Kiros cocked his head. "Please tell me what's wrong..." He used one of his long fingers to brush some of Laguna's long hair out of his eyes.

Laguna sighed deeply. "Some President I am... I can't solve anything without running to my boyfriend...."

"I think it must be serious for you to be this distant.... I mean, what, did they close that Burrito place?"

Laguna frowned. "Stop teasing me! It's about Quistis... And, Squall, Seifer and Zell."

"Why, what's wrong?" Kiros's brown knitted in concern. "Did you hear from Squall?"

Laguna shook his head. "No, but I heard from Quistis again. She seems really freaked out about something. She said that there were reports from as far as Trabia about some sort of anomaly in the ocean around Galbadia. I guess it was Seifer's powers...."

"Well, I guess that's natural..... What else did she say?"

Laguna slumped against Kiros's shoulder. "She said that she called my son, and something's wrong."

"Why, did Squall say something?"

Laguna shook his head, nuzzling his face against Kiros's neck wearily. "No, and that's the problem. He hung up on her."

"Well, why do you think there's something wrong?" Kiros asked, looking deeply into Laguna's eyes.

"Bad feeling.... Haven't you sensed it?"

Kiros thought for a moment. "Maybe there's something. I thought that I was just coming down with something...."

Laguna's lips briefly brushed against his lover's. "It feels familiar.... Like, when we first came to Esthar during Adel's reign."

Kiros snorted. "Adel? Squall killed her."

Laguna narrowed his eyes. "Yeah, I know, I know.... But......" He sighed. "I don't know... I don't like the idea of Seifer and Zell looking into the stories of Ignus."

"Adel was from Ignus," Kiros muttered.

"Yes, I know....." Laguna kissed Kiros again. "But, wherever Adel is involved...."

"What's going to happen? You're letting your imagination get the best of you.... This is going to turn into that time where you thought that the army was conspiring to kill you...."

"They were!" Laguna exclaimed.

"Only in your mind." Kiros thought for a moment. "Hey, maybe Squall is really trying to overthrow you because he's next in line to be President of Esthar...."

"Hey!" Laguna exclaimed, punching Kiros in the arm. "You're so mean to me!"

Kiros laughed, gripping the front of Laguna's shirt, roughly pulling the President towards him. "Well, you don't seem to mind that much...." He smiled wickedly. "I seem to recall a night not so long ago when you begged me to talk dirty to you." Kiros's eyes were now slits. "Right, bitch?"

Laguna snorted. "Talking dirty is different than outright insulting me.... And, I think the servants heard us.... I had a Hell of a time explaining that to them..."

Kiros chuckled, releasing his grip on Laguna's shirt. "Fine."

"I didn't say stop!" Laguna exclaimed, crawling into Kiros's lap. "And, that's a Presidential order."

"Squall, I really think we should contact someone. Like Quistis or your father," Edea said dully as her and Squall flew towards Deling City. She could see the shadowy lines of the buildings through the windows. "I mean, if what we believe is true, we're in deep shit...."

Squall's eyebrows shot up. "You swore, Matron!"

"So? You swear all the time!"

"I guess... But, hearing you say it is like hearing my Dad swear." Squall's jaw twitched. "But, we could be getting worked up over nothing..." He sighed deeply, landing the Ragnarok.

"You're still thinking of them as Seifer and Zell, not as Ultimecia and Adel. They may be Seifer and Zell physically, but if we're right," Edea sighed in the middle of her sentence. "Which I know we are, then they aren't Seifer and Zell at all."

Squall nodded glumly, getting off the large dragon ship. He and Adel ran towards the bus stop that would lead to Caraway's Mansion. Squall sighed, stopping when he saw no bus there. "Dammit!"

"One should be coming any minute..." Edea put a calming hand on the SeeDs shoulder. "You're going to be no help if you don't calm down. You're in a very dangerous situation now..."

"I know, I know..." Squall trailed off.

"Do you?" Edea asked as the bus came. She could feel the relieved sigh of Squall under her palm. "I don't think you do. You are the prime enemy now. You and your father will be in grave danger."

"Why Laguna?" Squall asked, wearing taking a seat as the bus pulled away from the curb.

"Because Adel will want revenge on the man that put her in a sleep for twenty years in space. She'll also want control of Esthar back. And, you killed her during the Neo Sorceress War, as well as killing Ultimecia. You aren't on their favourites list. And, Seifer's or Zell's consciousnesses won't be able to help you...."

Squall grumbled to himself. "I know you're right... I just don't want to admit it." He stared out the window as Deling City went by at a painfully slow speed. "I just hope we aren't too late."

"Rinoa's not totally helpless..." Edea trailed off. "Right?"

Squall shrugged. "Sure, she can fight, but she can't fight alone. Fuck, I don't give us much of a chance against Seifer and Zell, let alone Rinoa..." He trailed off, his whole body tensing when the bus stopped at the spot just in front of the Caraway Mansion. When he and Edea stepped off the bus, Squall felt chills move up his body.

"Oh, God..." Edea trailed off. "I can feel them."

"We're too late," Squall muttered, dejection in his voice.

"Come on!" Edea demanded, almost angrily. "There is always time!"

Squall rushed in behind his former Matron, barging into Rinoa's house. "Rinoa?!" He called.

"Squall!!" She screamed, running through the hallway. "Thank God!"

"Are you alright?" Squall asked as Rinoa flung herself into his arms.

"You got here just in time. Seifer and Zell are acting strangely! He's talking like Ultimecia."

Edea looked up as she heard a dark laugh. Zell came sauntering out from the library into the hallway. "Oh, hello. We just got here....." Zell's icy eyes narrowed dangerously as he gave the trio a thin smile, as sharp as a razor. Seifer had just gotten up out of his seat after Rinoa had asked what was going on, when Squall and Edea had so rudely interrupted them. "You really didn't have to come all this way..." He rolled his eyes, examining his fingernails as he felt Seifer stop beside him.

Squall just stared at both of them. True, they looked exactly as they had the previous day, but they didn't look like themselves at all. Zell's expression was one of wrath and ice cold hatred. He also looked like a viper, ready to strike them down in an instant. Seifer looked much more calm, but nevertheless, just as deadly. Squall also noticed that their eyes were different, too. Not in the fact that they were different colours, which they sort of were, but because they were so alien looking. Squall could also see the underlying colours of Adel's and Ultimecia's eyes. He could see the burning yellow mixing with Seifer's aquatic eyes, making them look like they were laced with gold, and he could see the purplish tinge to Zell's icy irises, and could see the underlying currents of blood that belonged to Adel.

"I'm taking what's mine, Skwall...." Seifer muttered darkly. He pointed a finger at Rinoa. "She has what belongs to me."

"Ultimecia...." Squall whispered. He could feel tears come to his eyes as he looked at Seifer, then to Zell, then back again. It hurt him to see them like this, so unlike themselves. Edea was right. They weren't really Seifer and Zell anymore.

Zell growled low in his throat when he watched Squall look at Seifer. Fucking bastard. He ran his hand up Seifer's arm in a possessive manner, and watched with glee as Seifer closed his eyes. Then, as fast as a flash, both attacked. Seifer went straight for Rinoa, not caring about the other two. He knew he would have to deal with the power still in Edea eventually, but decided that if he could get his power out of Rinoa first, he would be stronger for when he had to fight Edea. He also knew that his lover could handle Squall and Edea for a few moments.

Squall pulled out the Lionheart, his eyes wide as Zell's fist came in contact with Edea's face. It seemed he was trying to get past his former Matron, who was standing between him and Squall. Squall was suddenly very afraid. Zell was after him, wanted to kill him. Edea sent a telepathic wave over Zell, who cringed away, slowing only momentarily. His knee came up, getting her in the bread basket, his eyes still glued to Squall, who charged at his friend, cutting Zell's upper arm.

Zell howled, jumping back from Edea. "You little whore!" The small blonde roared, all the hatred in the world pouring down on Squall Leonhart.

Rinoa screamed as Seifer's hand wrapped around her throat. She could feel the bones in her neck shifting. He was going to snap her neck any second. She clawed at his hands, trying in vain to free herself, but it wasn't working. She could feel the dormant power rising within her, rising towards its true Mistress. "Please..." Rinoa whispered.

Seifer just laughed.

"She's controlling you..." She trailed off, gagging for air. She gasped when she heard Squall cry out, and then Zell laugh.

"Zell, stop!" Edea commanded as Zell roundhoused Squall in the gut. Squall stumbled backwards, dropping his gunblade. He and Zell had combated against each other before, but never to hurt. He'd forgotten how strong Zell was.

"Shut up!" Zell screamed, sending a wave of power to Edea, which flung her against the wall. He turned to Squall, who was wheezing, trying to catch his breath, on his knees in front of Zell. A horrible smile played on the tattooed blonde's mouth. "You're such a whore, Squall. I'm not going to let you win again...."

Squall glared up at Zell, wheezing.

Rinoa looked up at Seifer with pleading eyes. She knew that Ultimecia had complete control over him, and if Seifer got the power out of her, he would be almost too strong to stop. "They...raped you..."

Seifer blinked, his hands still tight around Rinoa's neck, a fingered noose, as strong as iron.

"They raped you..." Rinoa repeated, her voice raspy. "Ultimecia let them all rape you... She made Zell watch, humiliating you in front of the person... you... loved.... most...."

Seifer's fingers trembled around Rinoa's bruised neck. His grip on her lightened at her words.

Zell turned, looking at Rinoa when he heard that. A brief flash of the memory passed over him, and the dark, skeletal smile turned into something sad, his lips trembling slightly. He could remember Seifer screaming in pain.

"She's doing it again...." Rinoa trailed off. She gasped when Seifer's hands released her neck. "She's raping you again...."

Seifer blinked like he was awake for the first time in a long time. He still felt like he was a million miles away from everything, like he was behind glass. He looked down at Rinoa. He could remember the awful pain that the guards had put him through, could remember the horrible, disgusting feeling of the rotting necrophilia he'd been party to.

"You're letting her do it again...." Rinoa sputtered, slumped down in front of Seifer, gasping for air.

Letting me do it?

Seifer heard the question in his head like it was being whispered in his ear. What?

They all think you let it happen. Skwall, Edea, Rinoa... They all think you wanted it, that you liked it.

No....Seifer meekly argued.

"Zell...." Squall whispered, his abdominal muscles still killing him. He stood. "Zell....?" He looked, and it looked like Zell was back to his old self.

Look at Skwall.... Even in front of you, he's trying to steal Zell away. You know, he wants to fuck Zell....

He's just.. confused.

Is he? I think Skwall knows exaktly what he wants. And, you're going to let him win. Do you think Rinoa kared when she kissed you? She wanted to break you and Zell up.

Seifer breathed in and out, trying not to listen to the words that Ultimecia was speaking, for, to him, they sounded very plausible. Seifer could feel something familiar wash over him.

Seifer? Why are you letting them win? You and Zell would be happy if Squall were gone....

Xerampelinae.... Seifer whispered internally, hearing the distant whisper of his mother.

Rinoa blinked back some tears as she watched Seifer wage a mental war with himself. She looked over at Squall and Edea, who both looked wary. Squall was slowly rising.

"Zell..." Squall reached out, touching the smaller blonde's shoulder.

Seifer looked up at that exact moment, seeing Squall touching Zell. Something flashed within him. He closed his eyes, trying to push it away.

"Seifer..." Rinoa reached her hand out. "We can help you. Edea can help you. So can Dr. Odine. We'll get rid of Ultimecia. We'll get rid of Adel. You guys can be free again."

"You're right, Rinoa," Zell mused, his shoulders slumping. "I can't believe what horrible things we've done... We were going to kill you guys!"

"Ze...." Edea began to say, but found that her voice vanished in her throat. She knew that Adel and Ultimecia weren't totally gone. She could feel their power ebbing and flowing like a tide. It was now at a high ebb. Adel was totally in power, and the others were being lulled by Zell's sweet and desperate facade. She tried to get Squall's attention, but found she couldn't move at all. Adel was controlling her.

"You're right, Rinoa...." Zell took small shuffling steps towards the girl on her knees. Then, one swift hand reached out, snapping Rinoa's neck like a twig.

Squall let out a strangled scream, the awful sound of her neck bones breaking echoing in his ears. Seifer laughed, throwing his arms out to the sides when he felt Rinoa's power releasing into his body, joining the power that had been taken from Lillith, adding to the ball of energy that was filling Seifer to the core.

Zell clapped his hands as the power fully left Rinoa's body, and she fell to the floor like a rag doll, her nose smashing on the hard wood floor. Zell and Seifer looked at each other, laughing.

"NO!" Squall screamed, reaching for his gunblade, running towards Seifer and Zell. Edea tried to move, but Zell wasn't letting her up.

"Ah, ah...." Zell cooed, quickly moving, faster than Squall's eyes could follow. He felt Zell grab him from behind, and pin his arms to his sides, the Lionheart falling to the ground again. Squall then found himself pinned between Zell and Seifer. He could feel Zell's breath washing against the back of his neck, and could feel the heat of Seifer's body as their chests pressed together. And, it almost disgusted Squall that he was getting aroused from it. His body was totally reacting to the almost gentle waves of breath on the back of his neck, and the way that Seifer was looking in his eyes, and the hard planes of body pressed against his chest and back.

"Poor Squall..." Zell purred, running his fingers up Squall's back. Squall let out a gasp when he felt Zell's lips on his ear. Squall was terrified, and yet, still felt that urge to be maniacally fucked by both blondes rising in him. He remembered the way it felt to be fucked in that gay club, and knew that it would have been a million times better with Seifer and Zell.

"Squall's been very naughty," Seifer whispered, his voice laced with sexual meaning. "Don't you think so, Zell...."

Squall moaned despite himself, Seifer's breath washing over his face. His skin shivered when Zell's fingers moved into the hair on the nape of his neck, and he bit his lip when he felt Zell's hands slowly, deliberately, wind around his neck. He was going to die, just like Rinoa died.

Zell was about to contract his fingers, breaking Squall's pretty little neck when he felt hot pain enter his shoulder. He blinked in surprise, looking. An arrow was piercing the back of his shoulder. Seifer looked over the top of Zell's head, and felt the whizzing pain of something airborne cutting him. Zell cried out when he felt a whip wrap around his wrist, yanking it away from Squall's neck.

"Fuck..." Seifer trailed off. He was staring at Quistis, Xu and Nida. The sharp object that had cut his arm had been Nida's weapons. He'd thrown one of the hand sickles that he used, the curved blade now sticking in the wall behind the tall blonde. Xu shot another arrow, and it got in the back of Zell's ankle. The small blonde howled in pain. Despite the fact that he had his mother's powers, his body could still be hurt, and the arrows from Xu's longbow were definitely hurting him.

Zell looked over at Seifer when he saw his scarred lover stumble back, an arrow in his chest. Nida used the opportunity to drag Squall away from Zell and Seifer.

"What's going on?!" Quistis demanded, looking at Edea, who was frozen on the ground. "Squall?"

Squall opened his mouth, but screamed when he felt some sort of psychic attack enter his mind. His body arched, and he felt himself beginning to seize. He could feel Nida's arms wrapped strongly around him, trying to still his body's shakings.

"What....?" Xu looked at Zell and Seifer. "Who are you?"

Quistis narrowed her eyes. "What the Hell is going on here, Seifer? Zell?" She looked at their feet. "What happened to Rinoa?!" Quistis's sapphire eyes went wide. She blinked when she felt something awful in the air.

"Adel......" Squall said, his voice shaking.

"Shit!" Nida cried. "He's coughing up blood."

Zell laughed. "Serves the little whore right..." He muttered, wincing from the severe pain in his ankle. "I think we should regroup."

Seifer nodded. "We'll be seeing each other again very soon, my dears...." Seifer did a mock bow that was all too insulting, and he and Zell disappeared into thin air.

Xu just shook her head. As soon as Zell and Seifer had vanished, Edea found that she could control her body again, and Squall's seizure stopped.

"What just happened?" Quistis demanded, her hands on her hips, a frightened look on her beautiful face.

"Squall, it's Nida. Are you okay?" Nida looked down at Squall, who seemed to be regaining himself. Nida wiped some blood off Squall's perfect, bisque cheeks. "What did they do?" He looked over to Rinoa's body, which was laying face up, but her face was in the ground, pooled blood around her like a halo. Zell had broken her neck so badly that her head was on completely backwards.

"Adel.... Ultimecia...." Squall whispered.

"What?!" Xu looked at Edea. "Mrs. Kramer.... What's going on?"

Edea sighed sadly. "The most horrible thing that could ever have happened...."

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