[i]Forgiveness is such an overrated word. It is so common for the common mass to say that forgiveness brings strength, and they could never be more wrong. Never have I seen compassion give ME strength! Not once was I strengthened, my soul refined, my psyche mended by…forgiveness. Nay, I say forgiveness brings weakness! It prevents you from taking what is yours! Forgiveness gives you nothing!
Only vengeance, I say gives you strength. Only vengeance, and vengeance alone, gives you the will to push onward on your path that They have deemed. Only vengeance can aid you in that, and nothing less will settle your lust. Nothing else can please that addiction in your psyche and soul. Nothing can bring it out from you.
Dare I say love as well?
Yes…not even love is safe from vengeance. Nothing is safe from it, for vengeance is friend to no one.
Where was love when everything I cared for was destroyed by betrayers? Where was I love when I needed care and support? Where was love when I alone, and needed someone to aid me, to speak to me?
The answer: love was never there. And I know it never will. Only vengeance was there, and by His will I will settle my vengeance. Those who betrayed Balamb will not be safe from my vengeance! Edea Kramer is not safe from my vengeance! Seifer Almasy is not safe from my blade!
I am their Judge, Jury, and Executioner! And no one, not even the Heroes of Balamb, not even the great Squall Leonhart, nor his love Rinoa will stop my vengeance, and settle my blade.
The ground cries for vengeance! Those killed in the Clash of the Gardens beg for the tribunal to settle the dark deeds that the Betrayers had done to them!
The Children…they call to me. They say “Ferin! We were murdered by our Brothers! We cannot rest! Aid us!”
And I shall answer the call. For I am Ferin the Wolf, the Judge.[/i]
-Ferin “the Wolf” Alengar
The ballroom was in a frenzy. If you were to look down one side, you’d see SeeD graduates laughing and hollering as they drank some alcohol. Go down the other you’d see some of them dancing.
And those in the middle? Well, you’d see some of them kissing lightly on their lover’s lips as they danced slowly to the music. Kind of odd if you would go and think about it.: every year they, at the same ballroom to celebrate the same graduation, they did the same exact thing. Drink, dance, kiss, have fun, go to bed drunk and dizzy.
But, that’s the keyword. ‘Go and think about it’. That’s the big one…you actually have to think about it. Thing is, no one IS going to think about it. They’re not going to think about why every year it’s the same thing year after year…if you’re an instructor, you’ll just be filled with pride that you’re students reached the status of SeeD. And if you’re a student, you’ll be too caught up in the moment to even start to think.
Squall was the same way…well, in his own way. Instead of dancing of wooing other ladies in short dresses like most guys at these graduation ceremonies tended to do, he just stood against the wall, and got himself half drunk, not really caring about the moment. But, there’s always one at these parties that was like him; always one that didn’t like to socialize, who was a gray feather in a pile of golden ones.
Squall just shrugged it of. He really didn’t like to think about what happened three years ago. He didn’t want to remember how deep in a depression he was three years ago. Before the way over-excited Zell, the naïve Selphie, the constantly flirting cowboy Irvine…and her. The person he vowed so long ago to himself that he would spend the rest of his days with, the only person who would feel the way his hand touched her black hair, the only person who would feel the rush of emotions when they kissed.
Rinoa would be the only person to carry the title of Mrs. Leonhart.
Squall chuckled softly, trying not to make Rinoa think she was doing something wrong when she was pouring some drinks into two glasses for her and Squall. He was getting to ahead of himself. It was another six months before they would officially exchange vows, before they’d have the rings slipped onto each others fingers.
But then again, how wasn’t it funny? A year ago, the only thing that mattered to him was, well him. He didn’t form relationships with no one. Oh sure, he had crushes here and there, but that was as close to anything as he was going to get. But it wasn’t because he was some careless low life caught over his head in a deep depression.
Certain…circumstances, or events rather, put him in that position. He was happy as a child, but when someone important to him left, he felt horrible.
And he didn’t know if he could take another blow to his soul as when ‘Sis’, or Ellone, or whoever you want to call her, left the orphanage. He thought he would die if that happened. And maybe he was right…if someone close to him did leave him, he may of died in spirit. He may have become a walking corpse…but, then he found Rinoa.
It was three years ago, under the same glass roof they were under now, wearing the same attire they were wearing now, just as tired and exhausted as he is now. They laid eyes on each other by mere chance…Rinoa turned her head behind her, saw a lonely guy up against the wall, and as the curious person she was, she went over to him and despite his dark attitude, she convinced him (if dragging him over onto the dancing floor could be considered ‘convincing’) to dance with her.
And hell, he couldn’t even dance. Well, that’s not entirely true. All SeeDs know how to dance; they learn the formal art of dancing in their third or fourth year. After all, if a SeeD has to go to a formal party as part of a contracted mission, they’re going to need to dance.
But teenagers aren’t actually one to live for the future. They live for the moment. And for Squall’s entire career as a SeeD student, his only priority was becoming a SeeD. Not making friendships or dancing.
That didn’t mean he wasn’t a good dancer once they got on the dancing floor. Sure the first few moments were, err, hazy at best. But once he got used to it, he turned out to be quite the dancer. They danced for only a minute. But it was a good minute, especially for Squall. But for the first time since Ellone, he actually did something with someone that didn’t include nearly killing each other in a duel!
When the minute was over, Rinoa patted Squall’s shoulder lightly, whispered something nice and calm into his ear, and walked off from the ballroom.
At that moment years ago, Squall said something to himself about that black haired beauty that is so different, so foreign of him now that it’s almost funny.
Bitch. Squall, who now is as romantic as a twenty year old can get, called his love a bitch. Of course, they weren’t in love at the time, but it’s still kind of a shock. Then again, she did kind of just walk away right when they were getting in the mood. And I don’t mean the romantic mood…just the enjoying the moment type of mood.
Squall shrugged again. That was then, and this is now. Then, he was a lonely grunt who had no friends to give him support and love. Now, he has six friends who had seen him thought thick and thin, and Squall has been happier than he has ever been in a long, long time.
Especially when he noticed that Rinoa was wearing the same short dress that she wore the first time they met.
Squall chuckled, and quickly ended it when Rinao started to walk towards him again with two glasses full of fruit punch (Squall is somewhat of a drinker, and the pair have had a good many fights over it, and Rinoa’s father, General Caraway of Galbadia, being something of a drinker himself didn’t help Squall in his favor too much).
“What’s so funny”? she asked Squall when she noticed that he had a bigger grin on his face than he usually does. He told her nothing, but she didn’t buy it. Squall never was a good liar. Rinoa put her free hand on her hip, and tapped her foot with a slow, but steady, pace of speed. Squall knew he had less than a second before he’s be put on death row.
“It’s just that, well, this is kinda funny.”
“This. I mean, this is the same place where we met three years ago, remember? I mean, we’re not even that far off from the wall you dragged me from.”
“Dragged you? Squall, if I remember correctly, you asked me if I wanted to dance.”
“Then you’re memory must be as bad as you’re card skills.”
“Whatever.” That brought a grin to both of their faces. “Let’s just enjoy the moment, all right?”
“Sounds good to me.” Squall sipped on some of his glass, and would have let the drink stay in his mouth if he forgot about something. “Hey, where’s Zell?”
“Scrambling for the hot dogs what else?”
Suddenly, they heard the sounds of iron plates smacking against each other acting as an after choir to the symphony of screams and protests along with the beating of shoes along the floor. The odd (and that’s being kind, mind you) musical ended with Zell diving towards them with a hot dog clasped in his hand. “Yes!” cheered with obvious excitement.
“Zell, it’s only a hot dog.” Rinoa noted, trying to scold Zell, but that got her only shocked looks from her two friends.
“First of all…” Zell said as he got himself to his feet, doing his best not to at all damage the all-mighty-lo-and-behold hot dog, “It’s not just ANY hot dog. THIS hot dog brand was given an award by the Esthar National Food Committee™! It has to be…”
“Fattening” Rinoa spurted out quickly.
“The Esthar National Food Committe™ named it the ‘Most Fattening Beef Food Product of the Year’.
No one said anything for a few moments. Squall wasn’t going to get involved into the debate, Rinoa was waiting for Zell to say something…anything…and Zell was kind of speech less. How could the best thing about being a SeeD at Balamb Garden, besides being paid kick people’s butts, is actually…bad!
In the end, he just gulped the hot dog down, and licked his lips in eager satisfaction.
“Congratulations Zell, you’ve just gained a pound.”
“A pound that’s going to become two! I’ll be right back!” With that Zell dashed off to once again brave the crowd of people surrounding the hot dog table. Yes, the hot dogs are that popular to get a whole table deemed to them. The two lovers just shrugged it off, Rinao admitting to herself that nothing less of divine intervention will separate Zell from his hotdogs, and returned to drinking.
It wasn’t long until Zell returned with not one, but two hotdogs, one of which was already bitten in half. Zell was already chewing when Squall remembered something he was supposed to ask Zell.
“Vivebro salla va?”
“Vivebro salla va?”
“Squall” Rinoa started to point out “After two years of Zell’s lack of manners when it comes to hot dogs, I believe he is trying to say ‘What the hell is it Squall? I’m trying to eat a freaking hot dog here!’”
Zell swallowed the hot dog in a big gulp, and licked his lips to respond. “Actually, it’s ‘“What is it Squall?’” That got a big grin from Squall. He always loved it whenever Rinoa was wrong, since she always seemed be so right all the time. Well, at least when it comes to stuff people could give half of a rat’s ass about.
“Anywaaays” Squall said, trying to get off the topic of Zell’s hot dog language, “Where’s Selphie and Irvine?”
“Oh, err, I think they called when you guys were, well, you know. They said they weren’t goanna make it. Something about ‘a clue to the creation of humanity’ or some crap like that.”
“I really wish they were here” Rinoa complained. “I kind of miss Irvine’s look on everything.”
“You mean him always flirting with you to make Squall madder than a bull that just saw red?”
Rinoa chuckled. “Exactly Zell.”
“Well, that’s the one thing about Irvine I am not going to miss.”
“Yeah” Zell agreed as he brought a hot dog to his mouth and devoured it. But everyone else stayed quiet. Zell even stopped eating his hot dog so loud. Everyone started to miss those two. Well, they missed Quistis as well, but Selphie and Irvine they missed the most right then. It’s just weird. The three of the thought everyone was going to stick together, but everyone just separated. Irvine and Selphie retired from SeeD and became explorers, and Quistis became a wanderer. She never gave a reason why. She told Rinoa she wanted to see the world, but if that was true she would of have gone with Selphie and Irvine.
Squall broke the silence. He noticed a man in a trench coat sitting at table by his lonesome, holding some type of suit case. Squall found it kind of odd that someone was wearing something as unformal as a trench coat to a party like this, but he came to the conclusion that he was probably a SeeD who fell on some rough times, and there were no official rules as to what veteran SeeDs had to wear to gatherings like this.
“He looks familiar.”
“Who?” Zell asked at the question. He turned around to the man Squall was staring at. Zell recognized him at once. “Hey! It’s Ferin!”
“Ferin? Who was Ferin?” Squall asked, giving him a strange look.
“You know. Ferin! He did that…and err this…and that! Oh, and that one time he did, uh…”
“You don’t have a clue who he is, do you Zell?” Rinoa butted in. Zell only looked down in disappointment. “Well Squall go talk to him.”
“Because if Zell goes he’ll probably get his ass kicked. And if I go you’ll think he’s flirting with me.”
“I wouldn’t think he was flirting per say.”
“Fine. You’d think he was stalking me.” She put both of her hands on her hips. “Get going Mr. Leonhart.” Zell gave Squall a ghastly look. When Rinoa starts calling people Mr. and Mrs., you’ve had damn best do what she wants. After two years of living in a dorm together, Squall knew that all too well.
Squall put his drink on a nearby table, and walked over to the stranger. Surprisingly enough, he recognized Squall at once. “Mr.Leonhart! I didn’t expect to see you here.”
Squall scratched the back of his neck, somewhat taken off guard that the man remembered him when Squall didn’t at all. If anything, it was more out of embarrassment than anything. “Well, good to see you as well. To be honest man, I just came over to say hello, since all my friends seem to remember you but I don’t remember a damn thing of you.”
“I’m surprised at that, Mr. Leonhart. Well, I really shouldn’t. As the slayer of Ultimecia, I’m sure everyone comes up to you, saying ‘Hey! I know you!’ and ‘Remember me?’
“Well, actually no.”
“Oh, well good think for you then. I wouldn’t want that myself. Anyways, back on track, I was Ferin.” Squall gave a dead stare, telling him that he didn’t remember anything about him. “The Judge? The Wolf?”
“Ferin the wolf? Now I remember you. You were of Seifer’s Disciplinary Committee or something, right? Right?”
Ferin nodded. “Yeah, that’s right Mr. Leonhart.”
“Now, weren’t you the one that suspended all those guys that were caught doing drugs or something.”
“Actually, it was more along the lines of expulsion, but that’s right Mr. Leonhart.”
“It’s nice to meet you again Ferin, but don’t call me Mr. Leonhart. Just Squall.”
“Well, why are you here Ferin? If I remember you kind of disappeared at the Crash.”
“Yeah. I was wounded in the hand. Still got a scar.” Ferin unwrapped some bandages around his left hand, and showed him a scar that looked too much like an X.
“Ouch. That had to suck.”
“Yeah, it hurt a lot. Could barely move my fingers for a month, and when it did, it killed.”
“And I guess you specializing in a buster sword didn’t help.”
“And katana. But yeah, I mainly use the buster sword.”
“Well, what happened to you Ferin?”
“I’ve just been traveling.”
“Everywhere, I guess. Well, nah it’s more of a definite.”
“Where’ve you been?”
Squall chuckled a little bit at Ferin’s refusal to be specific on his journey“A little broad, don’t you think?”
“From one side of the world to the next.”
Squall shrugged it off. Apparently, Ferin never was one to talk much about anything, maybe that’s why he joined the Committee…so people knew something about him, even if it didn’t make him the most popular guy at Balamb Garden.
“So, what brings you back to Balamb Ferin?”
“Matron.” Squall gave him a confused look. ‘How does he know about Edea? He couldn’t of been at the orphanage…the GFs makes you forget memories…so how does he know what we called Edea?’ “Headmistress Edea?”
“Huh?” Squall snorted out, Ferin’s interruption bringing him back to reality. “Oh yeah, yeah, she and Headmaster Cid run Balamb. But what do you need Edea for?”
“I need to talk to her. She contacted me, and wanted me to come back.”
“Contacted you? How did she know where you where? Hell, everyone thought you were dead.” ‘And why didn’t she tell us that she was going to invite someone everybody thought was dead to Balamb? This is just too weird…maybe it’s her way of saying the Gardens have recovered now…by bringing someone dead to life…’
“Anyways Squall, where is Edea?”
“Probably with Headmaster Cid.”
“In his office?”
“Do you know who Head of Defense is now? I want to talk to Edea as soon as I can.”
“Yeah, but I’ll do you one better. I’ll bring you to her myself. Being the savior of the Gardens has its perks.”
“I’m sure” Ferin said with a chuckle as they got up.
Squall led the way, leading the man in the trench coat down the room, right towards the nearest exit which was where Rinoa and Zell had seated themselves. When Squall was about to walk past her, Rinoa grabbed his shoulder.
“Where are you taking him Squall?” she whispered to his lowered ear.
“He says that Matron contacted him. She obviously wants to see him.”
“Yo, Squall” Zell butted in, as he usually did. “I know you hate it when I butt in like this, but don’t you think Matron would have had told us if she was bringing someone?”
“Yeah” Squall muttered, forcing the words. “But maybe this was going to be a secret, ya know? Don’t worry guys, I’ll be fine.” With that Squall quickly kissed Rinoa on the cheek and led Ferin down the hall to the first floor elevator.
“It’s not you I’m worried about Squall” Rinoa muttered to herself when Squall was out of sight.
“This place sure has gotten bigger since I was here. Hey, if I remember we didn’t have any halls. Just one big circle!” Ferin announced while he and Squall were walking down the halls.
“Yeah, it’s changed since Ultimecia.”
“Feels kind of weird being here and all.”
“Yeah, it’s changed a little too much.”
“Not that. I mean, after the battle…I didn’t think I’d be back.”
“Neither did I. But look now, here I am. Come on, the elevator is down the corner.”
When they reached the elevator, the doors slid open when it detected their presence. Once inside, Squall showed his keycard to a scanner and a picture of Cid’s office showed on a screen above the door. The sound of the elevator moving smoothly against the gravity’s weight echoed in their ears.
Once they reached the third floor, Squall noticed that Fenrin looked a bit…colder if that’s the best choice of words. “What’s up?”
“Yes. Lead the way, Squall.” Squall left the elevator, and opened the wide wooden doors that led to Cid and Edea’s office. The two gave the SeeD salute when they entered. Cid raised his head from his work on his desk, and turned his face towards Squall. But when he turned towards Ferin, he had a confused look,
“Squall, who is this?”
Squall gave his headmaster a quick response. “Edea summoned him here Headmaster.” Edea had walked in from the side entrance right when Squall explained himself.
Edea have Squall a confused expression. “Squall, who is this?” Squall turned to Ferin.
“I don’t know” Squall asked, more of a statement than a question. “Ferin, who are you?” Immediately, Ferin dropped his suitcase, and a blinding light covered the room. The sound of a blade being released bounced off the room in rhythm with hard boots pressed against the polished floor.
“Who are you!” Squall commanded, not being able to see anything.
“Don’t you know, Squall? I am Ferin! I am the Judge, Jury and Executioner of the Betrayers of SeeD!”
“What?” Squall asked, but he already knew the answer by the time he asked the question.
“Ferin, wait! It wasn’t Matron! She was possessed by Ultimecia! Please, forgive her!”
“There is no such thing as forgiveness: only vengeance. There is only the sounds of children screaming, only the cries of the Betrayed crying from the stained ground. And there is only the sound of the Executioner’s Blade slicing the head of the Convicted! And Matron Edea Kramer is convicted of treason and murder on her children! And this act of betrayal must be paid in blood!” Then the blade sliced through the crisp air, and sliced through Edea’s chest. Ferin quickly leaped towards Headmaster Cid and sent the katana crashing onto him. Both were dead the instant the blinding light glowed dark.
The scene was an unbearable one for Squall, and it wasn’t because of the massacre that Ferin had just unleashed. It was because of the two closest things that Squall and all of his friends had to a mother and a father…who raised them as both a child and young adult…who taught them so much…was murdered by a confused madman…no, in Squall’s eyes Ferin was no madman.
He was a lunatic.
Strange enough, Squall did nothing as Ferin leaped out the glass window of Balamb Garden that reined three stories over the soft green plains of Balamb. Squall did nothing as Ferin landed on the grass softly and unharmed with his steel-toed boots and his katana in hand. Squall did nothing to stop Ferin as he climbed down a small cliff to a motorcycle he hid under the bushes several hours before, and raced off towards his next victim.
The only thing that Squall did, that anyone could have done, was kneel down beside Edea’s lifeless body, slowly and cautiously bring her lifeless head to his chest, and cry.
For the first time in so many years, he cried like a child who had lost something very dear to him. And indeed he had.