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AUTHORESS WARNING: A REALLY long chapter ahead....I would've just cut it into two parts, but this makes it much easier on me ^_^.

 

Chapter Fourteen ~ Revenge

"Whoa, Alex, that was awesome!" Zell exclaimed, slapping him on the back.

Alex scratched the back of his head in mere embarrassment. He blushed a light pink. "Um...thanks."

He glanced at his sister who was smiling at him. She winked.

You're getting the hang of it, she replied.

Hah, yeah right...

"How're you going to replace your gunblade?" Rinoa asked in concern. "It looks beyond repair."

Alex looked down at the part he was holding. The blade looked only about three inches long.

"...I don't know..." Damn, what kind of sword can I use now?

Having the Flame Saber for so many years without breaking apart, Alex wondered to himself if the gunblade itself wasn't strong enough for his new abilities.

"Hey, Seifer, you all right?" he heard Irvine ask.

Alex looked away from the snow to find Seifer's tall figure walking towards them. He was still rubbing the back of his neck in pain.

"Yeah...you sure pack a whallop, Alex," Seifer replied.

"Huh? Oh...uh...sorry about that," Alex apologized.

"Great fight, you three," a voice said from behind.

The group turned around to find Atamos walking towards them. A few were surprised to see him since he was rarely out in the public so openly.

Wasn't he just up on the third floor with Lily a while ago? Zell wondered.

 

"When did Alex get so good?" Lily asked, still looking down to where everybody was gathering.

Getting no reply, she turned around to find Atamos gone.

"Atamos?"

She turned back to the window to find him greeting the others. Lily looked between where Atamos once stood and to where he now was, a bit baffled. Wait a sec, he was just with me a couple of seconds ago!

 

Seifer and Alex mumbled back their replies while Squall nodded in his usual, silent way. Atamos looked from one person to the other before speaking out again.

"I checked up on Gene's progress with the Ragnarok a while ago," he said, "and he should be finished by now. We can leave at any time."

"We?" Sakura repeated. "You're coming along with us, Atamos?"

Before Atamos could reply, there was a cry from above. "Hey, heads up!!"

Everybody moved out of the way as Lily came down with a loud thud in the snow. She dusted off some of the snow on her pants as she straightened her back from her crouching position.

"Where, I thought I was going to break a leg," she remarked, looking back up from where she jumped. "Didn't realize that it was that high."

"Did you just jump off three stories?" Zell asked incredulously.

"Huh? Oh, it was that high? No wonder..." Lily said to nobody in particular.

"You're crazy," Seifer stated.

"Hah, you were the one who taught me to do that a long time ago," Lily said.

Sakura looked at the two. "She's right. You really did."

"HEY!!! WHAT'S GOING ON?!?" a voice shouted from above.

The other Sakura also came from above riding a black chocobo. As it softly landed back on the snow, it disappeared just as it came into a card in the palm of her hand. Kereberos came a short while afterwards on her own wings.

"Sakura, where have you been?" Quistis asked the girl. She and her guardian hadn't been seen ever since they landed the Ragnarok at Trabia Garden.

"Been up on the roof, watching the stars," the girl replied.

Kereberos bonked the girl on the head. "Actually, we've been on lookout and were trying to decipher a reading that we just got from Sakura's cards."

"What reading did you get?" Sakura Leonhart asked, interested.

The other Sakura fumbled through her backpack she had with her and took out four cards from it. The first one was the sword of Excalibur. The second, an image of a faerie gazing down upon a pool of water. The gird card was an image of the Guardian Force, Phoenix, flying in the sky. The final card appeared to be a pair of bracelets or rings, each holding its own designated design.

"Those are kinda odd," Rinoa mused.

Squall was getting an idea from the cards and couldn't see why Sakura was so confused by them.

As if she read his mind, she said, "I get all of these, but the last one doesn't really make sense."

She fumbled through her backpack again and took out yet another card. This one revealed two angels, each having one wing and holding each other.

"Why do these angels have only one wing? I thought they had two," Lily asked.

"That's what the stories you've heard say," Atamos answered, "but in actuality, naturally born angels have only one wing. They would go find a partner with the other and help each other make their way up to heaven where they would then be given two."

The little girl agreed with him. "Mommy told me that myth all the time when I was little...before she died, anyway."

"It does seem a bit...out of place," Quistis remarked. "I mean, with the other four cards and all."

"Why don't we figure this out later?" Irvine suggested.

"Figure out what?" a voice asked from behind.

Kenji stood in between the doorway with a cup of coffee in one hand. He still looked a bit battle-weary, but his wounds were now bandaged and his clothes changed. It seemed that the life in his eyes were back. Rinoa was the only one who noticed the change.

"The meaning of these cards," Sakura Wolfe said, waving the five cards around in her hand.

"I thought you were sleeping," Atamos said rather sarcastically.

Kenji glanced down at his watch. "I was for about twenty minutes or so."

Twenty minutes? Seifer thought. How could somebody be awake for five days straight and only sleep for twenty minutes?

"I guess we're all set, then," Atamos said. "Gene should have the ship ready to depart."

"But where are we going?" Rinoa asked.

At first, Atamos didn't reply and began walking back inside. Then he halfway turned around.

"We're starting back from the beginning," he answered, "where angels lose their way." (AN: I know, I know, I love to use this phrase in Chrono Cross a lot, but it sound so cool for this moment!)

As the others were retreating back to shelter themselves away from the snow that was gradually getting thicker at each minute, Alex stayed behind. He glanced down at the remains of his gunblade for a moment then followed the others.

 

Sakura Leonhart focused her gaze on the glass cup of water in front of her. Her eyes were between a dark purple and her original brown as she concentrated. Her forehead perspired with sweat.

The cup started to teeter a little, but it regained its balance as the water inside started to rise. It slowly made its way out of the cup and hovered before her. Using her hands as a guide, Sakura shot the floating water around the room before the sliding of the door broke her concentration. Trying to avoid a mess, she flung the water at her visitor. That visitor was soaking wet as he entered.

"Oops, sorry, Alex," Sakura apologized to her little brother, vainly keeping a straight face. "You just kinda waltzed in and...well..."

"Yeah, yeah, you lost your concentration and didn't want to clean anything up," Alex finished brushing back his hair. He didn't actually care about being splashed with water; it was better than being flamed. "It's okay."

His sister smiled, scooting over a bit on the bed so he could sit down in the cramped room and tossed him a small towel. "So, what did you want to ask me?"

Damn, read my mind, Alex thought, drying his face and hair with the towel. He sat down next to her.

"Um...even though there's three more castles left, I can't get a new gunblade in time. I mean, I can handle fighting with my fists and all, but...." he began.

"But how're we going to fight Ultimecia when you don't have a gunblade?" Sakura finished his question, looking very serious. Then she smiled again and took out her Griever ring.

"As them to make one for you," she replied.

"You mean ask Phoenix and Luna?"

Sakura nodded. "Not only them, but all of our ancestors. If you concentrate on the image of the sword you want, they will make it for you."

Alex did as he was told, taking in a deep breath to relax. An image appeared in his mind, one that flickered back into the darkness and the light. When in the light, the blade swirled around in various mixtures of aqua. Amber eyes glowed in the dark although it was vague. Alex heard a lion roaring in the distance. A shock ran though his body, jolting him back to reality. He looked down at his hands, feeling something heavy, and in them was a gunblade. Not necessarily a gunblade like the Lionheart, but it was a true gunblade from the other realm. He let go of his grip on hit and it disappeared, but as he touched it again, the gunblade reappeared.

"Whoa..." Alex murmured in awe.

The blade gazed back at him. A carving of a lion was etched on it with one amber eye staring right back at him. For one to just look at the weapon, it seemed to be an exactly replica of Squall's Revolver, but there was a slight twinge of red and aqua tint in it. The color swirled around in the blade, and there was a twinge of magic inside. Alex tried a few practice swings before he let go of the weapon. As soon as it left his hands, it disappeared again.

"How..."

"How would you know where your weapon is?" Sakura asked for him. She shrugged. "You'll know where it is before anybody else does. It will know where you are as well. Try to get the hang of it for a while and you'll understand what I mean."

Alex looked at his sister for a moment. "How do you know all this stuff, Sis?"

"Remember all those times back then when Phoenix and Luna wanted to talk to me alone?"

He nodded.

"Well, there you go. A teacher must teach its apprentice before that apprentice becomes a master."

"You're supposed to teach me? Teach me what?"

"Teach you to reach your limit and surpass it, " Sakura answered. She sighed heavily before leaning against the wall. "I really don't teach you actually. Just guide you until you find your own answers. That's the tradition of summoners and sorcerers/sorceresses alike. It comes naturally, I guess."

"But Mom didn't..."

"She did without her realizing it. That was why Mom was really frail after you were born. Passing on a sorceress' powers is just another way to do that."

"...." Alex contemplated on the information given to him for a while, absorbing everything that was said. Then he stood, feeling for his gunblade before letting it blend into the surroundings again.

"I think I'm starting to get the hang of this," he said and opened the door. He turned back to his sister. "Do you think you can still use magic?"

"Hopefully. What do you have in mind?"

Alex shook his head. "Nah, it's nothing. Just wondering."

With that, he left the room, leaving Sakura back to practice her magic again.

 

Phaetos watched with unseen eyes as the newly repaired Ragnarok (version II) flew away from its icy prison to Hyne knows where. He smiled to himself as it headed towards the horizon and disappeared from his sight.

Soon, very soon you will face the wrath of our Mistress.

 

"So, where exactly are we going?" Selphie asked.

"Centra continent," Atamos answered. "Where Odin's palace once stood and now where our next challenge is at."

"What do you mean?" Seifer asked. "What is our next challenge?"

"Allundia awaits there," he replied. His eyes glowed lightly in the daylight as if trying to see through something. This was the first time since they had met that everyone felt a slight twinge of magic emanating from him. It was slight, but they got the impression that the man was hiding more power than he was showing.

Is this why he looks younger than what he is? Rinoa asked herself.

"Who's Allundia?" Zell asked.

"One of the Hyne-all-mighty-bitches you'll ever see," Lily said with a malice in her voice. She seemed to forget about the fact that Atamos was Allundia's brother. "She was the person responsible fer killin' my mother and taking out every SeeD within the confines of Galbadia Garden. She's a tad bit different from Ultimecia, but not by much. Just torturing people's minds gives her joy."

"Ultimecia's loyal servants, although only three," Atamos added, "are stationed at the final areas of each castle remaining."

"How do you know that?" Quistis asked.

"Although on different sides, Allundia and I share the same mind," he replied. "That's why I decided to aid you. From what you have seen so far, these three are the most powerful opponents you have ever faced. No matter how hard one trains, they can never defeat even one if they are bound to the limits of their capabilities."

As Atamos was talking, something inside both Squall and Kenji made them realize something.

No matter how hard one trains...Kenji repeated.

They can never defeat even one of Ultimecia's servants if they are bound to the limits of their capabilities? Squall thought along the same lines.

Something rammed into the plane causing everyone to fall off balance.

"The hell?" Seifer asked the ceiling.

Before anybody could stand again that something ran into the ship again. Gene struggled to maintain the plane's stability.

"Shit," he cursed under his breath. Luckily, nobody heard him. "Gilian, what in Hyne's name is out there?"

A small computer lowered itself from above. "My visual sensors are getting something. I'll show it on screen."

The computer showed an image of a dragon on the screen. Its pearl white scales glistened in the sun, sharp emerald eyes stared right at the camera outside as it roared in anger. Behind the dragon were more flying its way towards the plane.

"Shit..." Seifer cursed. What kind of dragons are they?

"Mystic dragons," Gilian informed. "And many more are still making their way towards us.

"Dammit," Gene replied. "Can't we outrun them?"

"Our boosters haven't been fully repaired," the computer replied. "We've used them so often, I'm afraid that if we use them now, the entire ship will fall apart."

"Why don't you let us handle this?" Sakura said from behind.

Both her and the one who shared her namesake were standing in between the doorway. Kereberos popped out behind them.

"Do you think you two can handle it?" Quistis asked.

Sakura Wolfe laughed while bobbing her head up and down at the same time. "These guys should be a cinch!"

Silence filled the cockpit until another dragon rammed into the plane even harder than before.

"Damn," Gene said. He glanced at the two. "Okay, I'll open the gate, but don't you three die on all of us, got it?"

"Gene, are you fuckin' crazy?!?" Lily exclaimed. "There's no WAY we can be able to divert their attention away from an opening in time!"

"Listen, either we crash and burn or we take the risk," Gene pointed out as more and more dragons rammed themselves at the ship. He turned to the two Sakuras and Kereberos. "Hurry up and get going!"

Sakura smiled. "Don't need to say that to me twice."

 

Allundia cackled hysterically as her beloved pets attacked the plane heading towards her castle.

"My beautiful pets are awfully hungry," she said to nobody in particular, smiling in delight. "Be sure you feed them well. I won't let you get in so easily."

 

Sakura Wolfe started to get the jitters as she and the other Sakura were waiting for the gate to open. She took in a deep breath to get rid of it. It wasn't helping.

"What's wrong, Sakura?" Sakura Leonhart asked the young girl. Hyne, it's so weird saying my own name to somebody else out loud.

"Um...I guess I'm kinda scared of heights," the girl replied. She shook her head. "I mean, I've never been up this...HIGH before on one of my cards."

Sakura smiled. "Hey, it's okay. We all get like that sometimes."

"Yeah, I guess so..."

The gates started to open. A burst of cold hair rushed in.

"Hey, what exactly are we going to do once we jump outside?" Kereberos asked the two.

Sakura smiled. "You'll see, K-chan."

Then, they jumped off.

 

Alex cooped himself up in his room again, trying to get the hang of his new weapon. It had a mind of its own, so there was no use in controlling it by force. He set it across the room and called it over. The gunblade came automatically to his hand. Enjoying this new ability, he was knocked out of his bed as the dragons attacked. His eyes shifted to a dark amber for a moment to gaze through the plane's walls.

Well, ain't that just peachy, he thought.

 

As Sakura Wolfe and Kereberos were falling, the young girl quickly threw out a card before her. It followed her and her guardian as she summoned the creature. "Release!"

She and Kereberos landed softly on the back of a Ruby Dragon as it headed towards the crowd of Mystic dragons.

 

Sakura Leonhart concentrated all of her energy into the creature that she was thinking of. Swirls of electrical energy gathered around her as she fell closer and closer to the waters. As she was getting closer, the Guardian Force Bahamut swooped down from the sky and caught her. He roared out his anger before flying up towards the Ragnarok to help out.

 

Allundia's eyes narrowed as she witness Bahamut catch the young summoner. Phaetos was right... Her beloved pets were falling like flies as the two, much stronger, dragons attacked with all their fury. She cursed to herself, her fists clenched so tightly that it drew blood.

I've underestimated that girl...Then she smiled grimly. Well, well. This gets a bit more interesting.

She spread her arms out like wings, calling forth a shield that surrounded her castle in its crystal glory.

 

"Whew," Gene breathed out a sigh of relief. He slumped a bit from his seat. "Damn dragons."

The two Sakuras and Kereberos rode ahead of them. Selphie looked over one of the windows.

"Hey! That's Bahamut that Sakura's riding on, isn't it?" she asked.

Irvine went over to see. "Yep." He tipped his cowboy hat up and whistled. "How could she do that?"

"My sister's a summoner, not a sorceress," Alex explained, appearing in the doorway.

"Where did you get that gunblade from?" Squall asked, regarding the weapon hovering behind the boy.

"What the hell are you talking about, Puberty Boy?" Seifer asked him. To him, there was no gunblade on Alex. "There's no weapon on him."

"Yes there is," Rinoa said, pointing just beyond the boy.

He was the center of attention right now. Alex returned the gazes with one of his own before grinning.

"Heh, I guess it's a family thing," he said, reaching for the gunblade on his back. It immediately appeared at his touch. "Sis showed me how to get it. I was just trying to get the hang of it the past few hours." He tossed it towards Squall.

With the exception of Rinoa and Atamos, the weapon disappeared as if flipped in the air and reappeared once it landed in Squall's hands. He examined the gunblade with careful proficiency. It looks like my old Revolver...

"This is a good blade," he said after a while, tossing it back to Alex.

"Whoa..." Zell murmured after witnessing the disappearing act again.

A roar interrupted the time lapse of silence that the crew was having. Bahamut and Sakura appeared in the front window.

"Sakura, what's up?" Gene asked.

Using the communication device that she attached on her shirt collar, Sakura's face appeared on the screen.

"There's some kind of force field around the castle," she answered. "We can't get in."

"Have you tried?" Atamos asked.

This time it was Bahamut who answered in it's deep rumbling voice.

"We have tried," it said, flapping its wings effortlessly. "There is no way to penetrate the field unless you mortals want to kill yourselves in the process."

"....."

"There is more," Bahamut continued. "A woman would like to speak to you all."

"Put her on," Atamos said, knowing who the greatest GF was talking about.

Allundia appeared on the screen, smiling rather evilly.

"What is it that you want, Allundia?" Atamos asked.

"Oh, my dear brother, must you always be so straightforward?" Allundia teased with a devilish gleam in her eyes.

Atamos didn't notice the looks of surprise by the others. He remained silent.

"No matter," Allundia continued. "There is no possible way for you to get in so easily. I have orders from my Mistress to only allow four people in the castle and no more than four."

Lily slammed her fist on the counter. "Why you sonuva..."

"If you don't follow those orders, then you will never enter," Allundia said.

"Bullshit!" Lily shouted, straining to control her rage. "Like we're gonna..."

"Wait a second, Lily," Kenji interrupted. "Let's just play along with Ultimecia's requests."

"Kenji!"

"Killing three birds in one swoop," Atamos said. "I could work." Then to Lily, "I suppose it would be easier this way or else we'd be wasting our time and you know that we don't have much left."

Lily remained silent in thought for a moment then nodded.

"...Alright..."

Allundia smiled even wider. "Good. The other two are doing the same. It's your choice of whom we should kill." With that, she laughed and disappeared.

"...Creepy..." Rinoa murmured.

"I'm going. Definitely," Lily announced.

"That's one," Alex said.

"I'm coming, too," Quistis said. "I want to know what Allundia's really like."

"Ditto, man," Zell added, punching his fists together.

"Might as well come along, too," Seifer said. "To watch that Pyro and Chickenwuss don't do anything stupid."

"What was that?!?" came the two mentioned.

Gene lowered the Ragnarok down so that they could jump off and for the two Sakuras and Kereberos to reenter.

"We're counting on you," Sakura Leonhart said to the departing group as she came back in. "Good luck."

Lily grinned. "Heh, you too."

 

"Where's the second castle?" Gene asked.

"In the middle of all oceans," Atamos simply answered.

 

Alta smirked arrogantly as a red, humanlike, plane was flying towards his castle.

"Well, well, the little lion and his cubs might get the chance to meet their deaths once again."

 

It had already been decided who was going to be dropped off at the castle floating above Fisherman's Horizon. The inhabitants in the town looked up in fear at the coils that wrapped around some of their homes, withering them to the existence that they truly were. As the others were making their way towards the castle, Alex decided to stay behind.

"Phaetos is probably the strongest out of all the three," he explained to his family. "The rest of them can't take him out easily, but having strong points are going to help."

Actually, that was only half the truth. The real reason why Alex didn't want to take part of his family's affair was because he wanted to test out his true strength on a challenge. Phaetos, being invisible to the human eye and had almost killed Phoenix without Luna's help, seemed to be the right choice. He hoped that his sister and Kenji, along with his parents, would be enough to take down Alta and end the family feud once and for all...

 

"Hey, how come all of a sudden you're carrying that thing around?" Zell asked regarding the Hyperion gunblade that was slung behind Lily's back.

"Atamos told me to," she answered; then she added, "Not like it's going to be much use anyway. Haven't fought with this thing ever since the Chaotic Wars."

"...Guess that...uh...I taught you how to use one, huh?" Seifer asked rather uncomfortably, yet another first from him.

Lily paused in mid-stride.

"...Yeah, you did," she said in a softer tone than what she had intended. She regained her composure before it could totally slip. "Hellfire and damnation it was. The training, I mean. Anyway, let's just get going and skin Allundia's ass."

As they continued on, Quistis carefully regarded Lily. Even though you two act like you despise each other, you care for your father that much, don't you, Lily?

The ground shook for a moment, knocking the small group off balance. Allundia's laughter echoed through the premises. Lily growled, her keen eyes searching. The ground trembled slightly while purple mist drifted in.

"Where the hell are you, Allundia?!?" she shouted.

"Fools, you are. Such fools!" Allundia exclaimed as the mist gathered together to form her figure. She laughed again. "You've fallen into my trap too easily."

"What?" Seifer asked.

Allundia's eyes narrowed at the resistance below her, but it wasn't one of suspicion; it was one of delight. She held up both of her hands, palms spread. "You have exactly ten minutes to defeat me or else you will be not only destroyed by the walls around you, but they the betrayal of one of your own comrades."

"The hell do you mean by that?" Zell asked. Then he realized what she meant when he felt a strange aura behind him.

As if reading his mind, Lily and Seifer turned to the direction of the aura. Quisits' once ocean blue eyes glowed a blood red while the rest of her body was surrounded by a dark shade of violet. There seemed to be nothing of her existence in her eyes.

"Quistis!!"

~~Mommy!!!~~

(AN: Have an idea one who Lily's mother is? *hint hint*)

 

"I have a bad feeling about all of this," Rinoa suddenly said out loud.

"Huh, you got it, too?" Sakura asked as they were walking through the castle. "It's kind of strange, isn't it?"

"What's strange?" Kenji asked His seagreen eyes barely peeked out from under his dark bangs as he glanced at the mother and daughter.

Squall reverted back to his typical antisocial self, only focused on the battle ahead. However, he stayed two steps behind Rinoa and Sakura to make sure nothing happened to them as they traveled through. They had just reached the grand foyer.

"We feel that there's something weird going on, ya know?" Sakura answered. "Like there's a strange deal about all of this."

"Heh, I think we all got that," Kenji said.

That was when Rinoa screamed out in pain with strings suddenly piercing everywhere through her body. Sakura had convulsed, clutching her chest in pain as her body seemed to flicker like an image projected on a screen.

"Rinoa! Sakura!" Kenji shouted.

Squall unshielded his eyes for a mysterious light took his sight away for a second. His eyes widened in shock then in anger as he saw his angel and daughter suffering. Something inside of him snapped entirely, reverting to the man that he was...or will be in the future as Alta's form appeared in sight. Kenji noticed the change.

"Damn you, Alta," Squall growled, eyes flickering between his normal eye color and dark amber.

Alta chuckled to himself, smiling. "It seems you have finally awakened, Squall."

 

Phaetos' castle that he was guarding was located on the Island Closest to Hell. It was kind of ironic, actually, for Phaetos looked like something that Hell would have created. As the small group stepped off the Ragnarok to check everything out, the creatures unusually decided to stay away from them. Sakura and Selphie were forced to stay behind, despite their protests, and look after the unusually ill duo of Raijin and Fujin. So, it was the majority of the guys who stepped off but cautiously.

Matching his physical appearance, the castle hovering above the Island Closest to Hell was invisible to the human eye. It took Alex and Atamos' power to be able to make the invisible castle visible.

"Geez, that's one damn ugly castle," Irvine remarked. "No wonder why it's hidden."

The castle itself was one of contrasting colors: black and white. But what Irvine was talking about were the huge bulges that made the castle look grotesque. They stuck out like tentacles, sucking the life out of the creatures around it to restore its impurities.

"No wonder why the monsters here are staying away from us," Gene added as they watched a Hexadragon melt away from its skin.

"......" Alex remained silent. He felt a slight twinge inside of him. What's going on? Instinctively, he tried to ignore the mental twinge, but it suddenly wasn't a mental twinge anymore.

Atamos turned around, sensing something odd. "Alex, are you all right?"

Gene and Irvine also turned at Atamos' call. That was when they witness Alex's form flickering like an image on water. Gene started forward, but Alex managed to control the pain welling in his chest. His eyes returned to normal, taking in deep breaths as he tried to maintain his existence.

"What was----" Gene started to say.

"I'm fine," Alex curtly replied, walking past his comrades.

"You sure?" Irvine asked.

The young teen nodded, still walking. "Yeah."

Dammit, Sis, what in Hyne's name is going on over there?

 

Kenji instinctively stepped aside, keeping his eye on both a now possessed Squall and Alta. He felt wise to stay out of the situation for now since Squall suddenly had very familiar eyes. Those eyes...

Rinoa refrained from moving her position to get out of the strings since practically every one had pierced through her body. Even though motionless, the pain was still unbearable to handle.

Don't fall into the pain! Luna's voice instructed. That's exactly what Alta wants!

I'm....trying.... Rinoa mentally replied.

I want to help Squall...her inner voice said.

We know that you do, Mom, Sakura encouraged. So do all of us. But Dad has to resolve this on his own. Each time you, no WE suffer, the more anger that builds up inside of him. So you must resist the pain or else he'll just fight blindly like he did twelve years ago!

That...that's not Squall, though...

Yes, it is, Phoenix assured. He's just using our ancestor's power to help him.

Ancestor?!?

Squall took slow steps forward, his gaze still deathly cold.

"Why the hell do you keep on getting into my family's lives?" he asked in a tone unlike Squall.

Alta just smiled, unleashing out his weapon. "You are Mistress Ultimecia's mortal enemy. And I love fighting a challenge."

"She will never be able to control us," a deep, growling voice came out of Squall's mouth; his amber eyes went into an even darker shade. "What is the use when we know of our future?"

Kenji! Phoenix shouted in her Knight's mind.

That voice snapped him out of his trance. Kajimi?

Please, help my father out! she pleaded.

Kenji looked at the two. Why? He seems to be holding it out fine on his own.

Yes, he does seem like it, Phoenix replied, but look at what Alta is holding.

Kenji's eyes widened suddenly at the shiny object hidden underneath Alta's sleeve. An Odine Bangle...

Exactly. My father doesn't realize that, yet, Phoenix agreed.

But that's not going to have an effect on him...

Yes it will, definitely. But using Griever's power, it has the same effect as being a sorceress or sorcerer, Phoenix explained. If it attaches itself on my father, then you're going to have to intervene.

Kenji's eyes narrowed, flickering in his corner of semidarkness. Understood...

 

"QUISTY!!!"

Seifer and Zell tried to reach to her, but they were knocked back by the violet aura surrounding her body. They landed on each side of Lily's standing ground, getting back up.

Lily's eyes were covered by her blonde locks of bangs, but the two could tell that the young woman was thoroughly pissed. Her fists were clenched so tightly together that blood dripped from them. Allundia laughed hysterically at the vain attempts that the other two were making.

"It's useless to reach her," Allundia informed as she ceased laughing. "I have total control of her."

~~Mommy! Mommy! Ya gotta help Daddy! He's in trouble!!~~

Lily slowly looked up, her emerald eyes clear with tears. Although they were filled with tears, they had a cold yet burning hatred in them.

"You..." she icily uttered out.

Allundia smirked back at her. "There is no time to chitchat, so let us settle this petty feud once and for all."

With that, she gracefully landed on the shaky ground and called Quistis forth.

 

After clearing out some of the monsters nearby, Sakura Wolfe and Selphie stepped back in the Ragnarok.

"Man," Sakura sat down in a chair, sulking, "I wanted to go."

"Me too!" Selphie exclaimed and sat in a similar manner across from her.

A few minutes of silence and then in unison: "Meanies."

They both looked at each other and then burst out laughing.

"Hey, Sakura," Selphie said after their laughter was about to come to an end. "I want to ask you a question."

Sakura blinked a few times before she blew a wisp of reddish brown hair out of her eyes. "Hmm? What is it?"

Selphie leaned back in her chair, staring up at the ceiling. "I'm asking you because if I asked Alex, he'll just look at me funny like Squall does and answer me in as a confusing way as possible...so...do you know why Griever's linked to Squall and Rinny?"

Sakura blinked for a few moments before looking out the window. "I dunno...I asked Alex once a long time ago, but I forgot what he said to me. I think he said something like Griever's the first ancestor of the Leonhart family or somethin' like that."

"First ancestor of the Leonhart family?" Selphie asked incredulously, leaning forward in her seat.

"Uh huh. Every guardian force belongs to some ancestry family one way or the other. It's like----"

An explosion and a slicing shockwave interrupted the young girl's explanation. The explosion turned the sky a reddish-orange like the sunset that seeped through the windows. The two were watching, entranced, before the second shockwave caught Selphie's attention. She reached out for Sakura.

"Get down!"

Glass shattered and covered Selphie's body with its crystal shards.

 

Alex and the others were continuing to make their way through the small island but in silence. There seemed to be no logical explanation of Alex's sudden fadeout, but whatever had made him disappear for the moment, he kept it to himself. Not even the usually social Irvine could strike up a conversation.

Alex, leading the way, suddenly stopped in his tracks as they were only a few yards away from the castle's entrance. There was something in the air that bothered him.

"Something's here," he said.

The three men stopped in their tracks. Although Irvine and Gene didn't have the special insight like Atamos and Alex did, they had that feeling that someone was watching them. Suddenly, the three men were thrown back by an explosion.

"ALEX!!" Gene shouted as he saw the boys figure getting farther and farther away from them.

That was when he realized that the island was being split in half.

Alex kept his balance and slowly removed his arms away from his face. Taking a glance behind him, he cursed to himself. Then a figure materialized in front of him, revealing a man clad in black and white. His midnight hair blew against the wind. His white eyes could have almost blended in with his pale skin if it wasn't for the small pupil in the middle of each of them.

"Phaetos..." Alex murmured. So this is his true form.

Phaetos smiled a wolfish smile. "I knew that you wanted to fight me like this."

Alex continued to stare at him, his one eye flickering admist the flames.

 

Kenji bellowed out a battle cry that could be heard for miles before he charged forward. Alex was caught by surprise and blocked the charging attack as quickly as he could. Kenji disappeared just before Alta could make a counterattack and reappeared not far behind him. Squall growled at Kenji and stared dangerously at him with piercing amber eyes, but Kenji was unfazed.

Kenji, what are you doing?!? Griever's voice growled in his mind.

Kenji returned the deathglare with one of his own. Get a hold of yourself! Before you even THINK of going against Alta, save your family first!

Alta examined his right arm. The sleeve of the jacket sliced in half and out fell the Odine Bangle also in two pieces. He looked back at Kenji.

"So you knew," Alta said. "I'm not surprised."

Squall growled once more before turning around to help his wife and daughter. With a careful yet quick version of the Renzokuken, the strings in and around Rinoa's body were snapped. He caught her as she fell.

"Are you..." he was about to say before clearing his throat to get rid of the lionlike voice. "Are you all right?"

"Haven't felt better," Sakura said, standing. The pain was ebbing away.

Unable to speak, Rinoa nodded slightly, snuggling into Squall's chest. Sakura walked over to her parents and knelt down beside Rinoa, holding out her palm.

"Cura," she whispered.

Green sparks circled around Rinoa's body. The pain in her mind was gradually fading away as well as the feeling of the strings inside of her. Sakura put a hand on her shoulder and looked back at Squall.

"I'll take care of Mom," she said to him. "You better help out Kenji."

Squall nodded and looked back at the duel before him.

 

"DIE!!!!" Allundia shouted as she released an Ultima spell.

Behind them, Quistis did the same.

"Oh, shit," Zell cursed.

They all jumped to avoid a double Ultima collision, but the reaction between the spell caused everyone to go temporarily blind for a moment. As soon as her sight returned, Lily went on the offensive. She managed to avoid the whip of Quistis' Save the Queen, which Seifer caught the receiving end by the arm, and attacked with all her fury at Allundia. Yet no matter how many moves she executed, they never made contact on her opponent.

Allundia chuckled in amusement as Lily's futile efforts. "Is this all you can do, Lilian? I expected a better challenge than this."

Lily growled between punches. "Shut up!!"

She threw a fire punch at her, but Allundia blocked it with her bare hand. The fire was extinguished, leaving only the smoke that seeped between their intertwined fingers. Lily was speechless.

"Oh, my, you almost singed my fingers," Allundia commented, smiling cruelly. "Is that what you call a Comet Punch? If not, I'll show you how it's really done."

A glowing light appeared around her hand and then it erupted, sending Lily crashing against the opposite wall.

"Lily!" Zell shouted and started forth, but had to decide between getting Quistis or helping out Lily.

"Chickenwuss, just help the little Pyro out," Seifer shouted as if he read Zell's mind. His left hand was wrapped around the tail of the Save the Queen and trying to drag Quistis in whose aura was getting larger by the minute. "I'll take care of Quisty here!"

Zell cursed Seifer for calling him a "chicken" again but ran in Lily's direction to help her out.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Allundia warned behind him. Zell stopped in his tracks." You'll never know if I might just shoot you in the back."

Zell cursed under his breath again before turning around towards Allundia. He glanced back at Lily's still form as the walls were starting to get closer and closer around them. Damn, I'm not sure about you, Lily, but you have to get up before those walls start to smash you!

"Lily!!"

 

Lily....

What?

Lily!

Who's there?

Lily, get up!

Lily opened her eyes to find herself laying in the middle of the Angel's Orphanage's backyard. She sat up and looked around, a bit shocked at the familiar surroundings. I'm...I'm home?

She heard someone's footsteps running towards the door and a girl laughing. Out came a little girl who looked no more than three or four, carrying a stick as she ran out. Her honey blond hair was tied in two pigtails, catlike green eyes bright with curiosity. She was wearing a half-dress that came up to her knees, but underneath were a pair of corduroys.

"All right, now where did the little Pyro go?" a familiar voice asked very loudly.

The little girl screamed with delight as she ran down the steps and out into the garden. More steps were heard coming towards the doorway except that they were heavier and dragged. A mid-twenty year old man stepped on the porch, light blond hair tied back in a small ponytail and catlike, piercing emerald eyes with a light scar in between: Seifer. He too was carrying a stick although it looked rather puny in his hands. He looked around and noticed some rustling in the bushes. Seifer stalked on his way and peered above them before lifting up the girl who shrieked in surprise but was laughing at the same time.

"Gotcha!" Seifer announced, lifting the girl over his head and setting her on his shoulders.

The girl used her stick to whap him on the head, but he easily parried with his own.

"Hey, Pyro, you have to do better than that!" Seifer said.

The girl stopped and rested her chin on his head. "So I can use yer sword, wight, Daddy??"

Seifer grinned. "You got it, kid."

"Hey, you guys, it's time for lunch!" a feminine voice called out.

A woman stepped on the porch, her face still blurred. However, Lily could now recognize some features that had cleared from her previous memories. Besides the honey blond hair, Lily could see the woman's bright blue eyes and the curves of her face. The eyes reminded Lily of somebody, but she couldn't quite guess just yet.

Seifer set down the girl onto the ground who immediately sped towards the woman.

"Yay!!! Mac 'n' cheese!!" she shouted triumphantly.

"Hey, just hope you don't die from Mommy's cooking, Pyro!" Seifer jokingly warned.

The woman had her hands on her hips now. "Seifer! That's not nice!"

"Yeah, dat's not nice, Daddy!!" the girl repeated. "Mommy's cooking is getting bwetter!!"

"Oh, you too, Lily?" the woman asked in utter defeat.

"And you're saying that I'm not being nice," Seifer said. "Guess it's time for punishment!"

Lily shrieked in delight, running into the house as Seifer pretended to chase after her. When he reached the porch, he wrapped his arm around the woman's waist and they walked inside together.

The memory faded. Lily smiled to herself. "Mom...Dad...."

Those were the times...when we were all happy together....

 

Lily slowly opened her eyes as her senses began to register the rumbling of the ground below her. What the...

She quickly sat up and hissed in pain as she did so. She clutched the side of her ribcage tightly before standing up very slowly, wobbling a bit on the uneven surface. Shit, I think I busted a rib or two.

Taking in a deep breath, she whispered, "Curaga."

The pain immediately subsided and she focused her attention to the blur that was in front of her. She recognized a blue jacket flapping against something and gasped.

"Zell!"

Zell fell to one kneww, spitting out blood that crept to his throat. He barely had any strength left to fight against Allundia nevertheless stand straight.

"Damn," he muttered under his breath.

While Seifer was trying to knock some sense into Quistis and getting whipped in the process, Zell was pitted against Allundia. There wasn't much time left and practically all of his stock was out. Ifrit and Cerberus that he had junctioned with were dead, all he had left were a couple of Demis and Shells (which wasn't going to be any help at all), and none of his moves were connecting.

If she wasn't so fast, I would be able to get at least a couple of hits in, he thought.

"Run out of steam already?" Allundia asked, hovering above him. She smiled evilly when he just glared at her. She raised a finger that emitted a violet light around it. "I would have expected something more than that, but fate always has to follow through its course."

Zell's eyes twitched at the sound of her voice and the double meaning of her words. I better think of something fast or else I'll be sayin' 'hello' to Gramps up in heaven.

I've got to help him, Lily thought, moving forward and totally forgetting that her ribcage hadn't fully healed even with the Curaga spell. She winced and stopped. Dammit...She unconsciously reached behind her back and felt cold steel. What's...She turned her head slightly and saw the hilt of her Hyperion shining back at her.

You'll find some use with your Hyperion...Atamos' words repeated in her head.

She thought about it for the first time and mentally smacked herself in the head. Idiot! Of course! She whipped out the weapon from her back and concentrated on her aim, which was kind of difficult since the ground was still shaking. She prayed to Hyne that Seifer was doing alright because she was starting to feel dizzy for some odd reason.

"Zell, duck!"

Without even thinking, Zell rolled over to the side just as Lily executed her attack.

"Fire Cross!!"

The flame's connected to Allundia's body as she was being distracted by Zell's sudden movement and surrounded her body. She howled and screeched in pain, descending to the ground as her body twitched and twisted in all its charred fury.

 

"You are hiding your strength from everyone else, including your own family," Phaetos said staring coldly at the young boy in front of him. "It's impossible for you to hide it from me, boy."

Alex returned Phaetos' gaze for a moment then smirked. "Since you know, I don't have to hold back, then." He reached out for his gunblade which responded to his own action with a bright glow of blue surrounding it. He set his blade out in front of him in a defensive posture. "But you're going to regret for calling me 'boy'."

Phaetos arched an eyebrow. "Oh? How so?"

It only took a mere second for Alex's eyes to glow a dark amber around his sapphire eye. Phaetos thought he heard a lion roar in the distance, but there were none around; so he ignored it, thinking it was just a figment of his imagination.

"Impressive," he said, reaching out for his weapon which was an intricately designed dragon spear. "You figured out how to contain a weapon from the other realm and release some of your energy into it. However, do you think you can actually defeat me with such limited abilities?"

Alex narrowed his eye, the amber around them getting darker as he did so. "We'll see about that."

The battle had begun. Alex dashed forward, gunblade parallel to his jawline. By just glancing at the positioning of Phaetos' spear, he knew the exact point of weakness but he had to be fast. Ever since he started practicing with a weapon at the age of five, Alex observed. Observation was his ally and nothing could escape from his sight.

Phaetos moved slightly to the side, avoiding Alex's attack, but Alex made a secondary move in between. He made for a wide arc, which was easily parried by the dark knight and accidentally created an opening. Phaetos took this to his advantage and thrust his spear at Alex. Unable to react in time, the spear sliced through his open chest at full speed and flung him against the castle wall. He struggled at first, then slowly became silent, blood staining the wall from his wound. Silence.

Phaetos strode over to Alex's slumped body to make sure that his opponent was surely dead.

"Hmph," he mocked. "And you had released your full power? Such weakness."

As he got closer to touch Alex's body, his thoughts of an easy victory were diminished.

"Weakness? Don't celebrate too soon," Alex said.

Phaetos was startled, slowly taking steps back as his enemy began to revive.

"That...that's not possible..." Phaetos murmured.

Alex yanked the spear out of his chest, the wound healing immediately as the object came out. All that was left was a light scar and bare skin from the torn shirt.

"I've been like this ever since my older twin sisters died," Alex explained, tearing away the piece of loose cloth. "It's not that easy to kill me like the others."

Fire began to surround the edges of what was remaining of the island. As they neared Phaetos' limbs, he quickly moved away from them but he also kept a distance between himself and Alex at the same time.

"You love to surround yourself in water," Alex said as he noticed Phaetos' sudden jerk. "I understand now; you were resurrected out of the waters, weren't you?"

Sweat dripped down Phaetos' face, trying to act calm. This boy is much different than his three sisters...how can he have such strength at such a young age? With that much power, the power alone would be unstable for his body to control.

"You were showing half of your strength," Phaetos answered, realizing the truth.

I haven't got that much time left... Alex thought to himself as he whipped out the gunblade again. He felt Sakura's cries for assistance, felt her pain, their family's struggle...there was nothing he could do now. Better get this over with. Once again he positioned the weapon parallel to the jawline without responding to Phaetos' statement.

We will handle this, a deep, growling voice said in his mind.

Alex was startled, wondering where the source of the voice was coming from. Then he realized that the gunblade itself was talking to him, glowing in an impatient rhythm.

The castle witholds most of my energy, Phaetos though as he stared at Alex. He too saw the rapid beat of the gunblade. What in the...

You will need your strength for the challeng ahead, the gunblade said. We will finish this minion.

The weapon shook itself free of its owner's grasp and headed straight towards its prey. Phaetos tried to move foung found that his body wouldn't cooperate.

Why can't I move?!? he thought frustratingly, blank eyes widening. The sword----!

In two quick successions, the being once called Phaetos disappeared in blue flames before he had a chance to return to his grave. Alex could hear no cry; all he saw was the shocked expression on his enemy's face before it had disappeared in the flames.

 

Kenji once again charged forward, using the skill of his speed at the fullest. His katana clashed with Alta's sword and clashed agian as the two disappeared and attacked one another without any gain. Squall took this distraction as an opening and attacked from one side. Alta, knowning this, quickly avoided the attack by jumping out of the way and nearly causing Squall and Kenji to hit each other if it wasn't for their quick reactions.

"Ultima!" Kenji shouted.

Alta sliced the spell in half with his weapon and went head on with Squall whose growl eychoed throughout the room. A power struggle took place until Squall released a hidden strength in him, sending Alta crashing back into the opposite wall.

 

How did he get this power all of a sudden? Rinoa asked incredulously.

"That pain from knowing his future has further enhanced the ability to use Griever as one of his own," Sakura explained, observing the fight. She then took her eyes away to look at her mother, smiling sadly. "How do I know all this? I guess it's kind of like instinct. Griever's our family's first ancestor: a sorcerer who had contradicted himself so many times that its shape is his own confusion."

A stinging noice struck her in her mind. Sakura rubbed her temple slightly to ease it while Rinoa looked at her in concern.

"I'm fine," Sakura assured. "Just a tiny little message."

 

Alta moved away from some of the rocks that had covered his body. He slowly emerged from the rubble, spitting out a loose tooth. He wiped a small trail of blood that was trickling down his cheek, smirking.

They both have gotten stronger, he thought. I guess I must turn my powers to their full extent.

He casted Berserk on himself which changed his entire appearance. His white hair merged with a blood red-orange, his eyes glowing a dark violet. The appearance he had created reminded of Sakura of a certain Guardian Force.

"He's a descendant of the GF Phoenix?!?" she exclaimed.

Alta smiled evilly, his eyes widening in maniacal delight. "This little game ends here."

A fireball shot out from his body, making Squall stagger back and growl in displeasure. Knowing that the man was temporarily blinded, Alta made his way towards Kenji.

"You are probably the first Sorceress Knight to be a descendant of a former sorceress," he said. "You are also probably the first to draw blood from me. Let us see your true ability."

Kenji just icily stared and waited.

 

We have to help them! Rinoa exclaimed.

The two rushed forward only to be knocked back by an unknown force.

"A barrier's surrounding the area," Sakura cursed. "We can't break through it."

 

Alta charged forward with his attack at rapid speed. Kenji immediately jumped over him as he neared, but quickly realized that Alta was behind him.

"Your speed is useless against mine," Alta said and slashed across Kenji's back.

Kenji was sent flying to the wall face first. He grunted a bit as he stood. The bandages wrapped around his ribs and right shoulder were now stained with blood. His new wounds seeped through his trenchcoat. However, he no longer felt pain. After the last battle, he had lost the feeling. Yelling out another battle cry, Kenji charged head on. The two were only mere flashes of light when they connected with their weapons. Once again it seemed to be attack for no gain, but the loss of blood was starting to get to Kenji. Taking this to his full advantage, Alta unleased a massive combination of fireballs at his opponent. Kenji, naturally, deflected them, but his vision was beginning to blur. The final blast brought him down to his knees.

Alta grinned for victory was close at hand. He prepared for the final blow, using his phoenix wings to bring him hovering above his opponent...

 

Squall's sight was beginning to return to him. His, or rather Griever's, growling came to a dull roar as the brightness began to fade.

Squall, you have to help Kenji!! Rinoa pleaded in his mind.

Ugh...still too bright...Squall said to himself as he covered his eyes and stood.

A tingling sensation overcame him, relieving the pain in his mind. He managed to peak out one eye, still amber, and stifled a gasp at who he saw behind Kenji's shoulder. Phoenix?!?

 

"Die," Alta said and launched his aerial final attack.

Kenji, using his sword as a cane, managed to stand on wobbly legs before he looked up. His eyes widened in surprise at the daggers of fire coming towards him, but...they never reached him. Instead, the entire spell disintegrated before his eyes and an entire new spell shot forth from the barrier around him. A burst of pale blue light rammed through Alta's body and began to spread within. He writhed in pain, trying to find a way to get rid of the thing that had entered in his body. The pale blue light shot out of his body in little rays, and Alta's body completely faded away; sparkles of life floated up to the sky.

Kenji stared at the place where Alta once was before he felt a gentle warmth behind him. He slightly turned back with a small smile on his face.

"So...you DID want to give the final blow," he said.

Phoenix's ghost smiled sweetly back at her knight before fading into the darkness.

Revenge was so sweet.

 


AUTHOR'S NOTES: Whoo wee...my hands hurt from typing so much. Hoped you enjoyed this chapter! Sorry for rushing on the action scenes. I just wanted to get this chapter over with and they're so hard to do, too! Anyhoo, R&R!

 

WHAT'S TO COME:

Chapter Fifteen ~ Ultimecia's Plans...Completed?!?

*dun dun dun....* Two more chapters to go until the finale!!