Luna's Past ~ Part Two
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This chapter is reaaaaaallllllllyyyyyyyy long. You have been warned!
The boom came from the courtyard. Luna and the others came to see what was up and saw a rather large man come out of the debris.
"Give up the girl or else!" he bellowed.
"What the hell is he?" Seifer muttered. The man stood at least nine feet tall.
Rinoa had to look up all the way to see the man's face. She felt very, very small next to him. He's huge...
"Some sort of freak or somethin..." Zell answered Seifer's question.
The man looked oddly familiar to Luna. She could've sworn she met him somewhere before, but tried to toss the thought aside. In response to that, she drew out her sword. The katana blade glowed a strange color of jade. Squall eyed it suspiciously. That's like how Phoenix's weapon is like...
The large man looked down upon the group who looked rather tiny to him. "Oh-ho! These're the people we're trying to capture? This's going to be a cinch..."
Quistis snapped her Save the Queen furiously. "Not while we can still fight back."
Zell ran past her, "Lemme at him!!"
Lily tried to stop him, but it was no use. "Wait a sec, Zell!"
The bushes shook furiously and dozens of shadows jumped out from behind. Lily instinctively moved to the side as one charged towards her and punched it right in the gut. Dammit, it's an ambush!
More and more shadows came out, eventually surrounding the group with no advantage of helping the still-charging Zell. Back to back they stood in defensive positions, weapons ready and eyeing cautiously at the shadows circling them. Seifer and the posse knew very well how fast the shadows were by firsthand experience. They weren't sure about the others, but they could barely beat them the last time.
Squall eyed the shadows carefully. He glanced at Luna. "Can we take them?"
"Yeah, but they're a little hard to handle," Luna replied. "Let me handle this. You go help out Zell. That big guy's able to make fire without the use of magic."
The gem at the hilt of her katana glowed, and Luna raised it high up in the air, twirling it about. "Kamikaze!"
A tornado appeared from it, obliterating all of the shadows around them. But fallen pieces began to grow new ones.
"Shit, they can regenerate now?" Luna cursed to herself.
The shadows attacked again. Lily jumped high over them, knocking a few out on the way down. She noticed something different about them. Instead of glowing crimson eyes, the eyes of these shadows glowed a dark blue.
Zell was having an easy time. He dodged most of the shadows who were more focused on the large group rather than him. The big man smiled arrogantly and stepped back, fist raised. "So, you're by yourself? Try me, little man."
The man swung; Zell evaded the punch easily and quickly went into the offensive. He returned the evaded punch by giving the man a hard one in his stomach. The force of his punch made the large man skid back a couple of inches. Zell smirked.
"C'mon, you can't even catch me and you boast about strength?"
"Zell, don't just stand there talking, attack him!" Quistis shouted out.
He had diverted his attention just enough for the man to grab hold of Zell close and clicking the top and bottom parts of his teeth together. An igniting sound was heard and fire spewed out his ajar mouth. Zell barely managed to cover himself as the flames swirled around him.
His friends looked on helplessly as they saw him get incinerated by the flames. Or, at least, they THOUGHT Zell was incinerated, but it was only his jacket that he managed to take off in time.
That guy just shot fire out of his mouth, Seifer thought. The hell?!?
"Just what the hell was tha ya idiot?" Zell asked.
The smell of burned flesh was clearly distinct in the air.
"Oh? You're pretty good than I thought," the large man said. "But the next time I strike, it's gonna be your last."
Zell cursed to himself.
Meanwhile, Luna somehow got out of the pack of blue-eyed shadows, slicing across their eyes. They instantly disappeared.
"You guys, aim for their eyes!" she shouted as she leaped over yet another pack of shadows and landed just a few feet behind the large man.
A bullet like structure flew towards Luna as she landed. She managed to dodge it by a hair's breath as it sliced through some strands of her hair. What the...
"Guys, watch it. There's something in the trees!" She caught another bullet bare-handed and flung it back in the direction it came from. An hunched like figure jumped out of the trees. Beshimi?!? She then turned towards the big man, her eyes flashing dangerously. "You and Beshimi better explain what's going on, Hyottoko."
The piercing cries of the shadows and the slicing sound of Squall's Lionheart filled the air.
Snap, crash, bang! More cries from the blue-eyed shadows. Slowly, one by one, they began to fade away. But just as slowly, more shadows began to pop out of corners. Gene leaped on top of the roof and began to aim with his gun. The red carvings on it began to glow red and circle as energy filled the hollow area.
"Everybody, get outta the way!" he shouted to the others. A massive ball of energy shot out of his gun as his comrades jumped off target just in time.
Irvine eyed Gene's gun. That gun looks familiar...
"Koneko, just give us the girl; we don't wanna harm you," Hyottoko explained.
"I ain't gonna hand you over Sakura," Luna replied in a dangerous tone. "Just where the hell is Alex and why are you helping Deling?!?"
"If ya aren't gonna cooperate, then I'm gonna flame ya!"
The cold look in her eyes and the arrogant smirk was her reply. "Try me."
Beshimi reappeared behind Gene and flung another one of his bullet-like wepons at him with accuracy. Gene had turned arond and slightly tilted his head to barely avoid the bullet. It made a small scratch on his ear.
"The hell are you?" he demanded.
Beshimi looked like a wasp or an insect with bulging eyes and small nose and mouth. His hair stuck up on all sides and tied up in a messy ponytail. He smiled wickedly.
"You're pretty fast for one who doesn't use much speed," Beshimi chuckled in a high pitched voice. "But I'm not sure how the woman in blue will be able to avoid."
The realization dawned to him and Gene quickly turned around to warn those below him still battling out with the few shadows left.
"Hey, you guys! Rinoa, behind you!"
Instinct took over her and Rinoa aimed at the bullet with her Shooting Star. She released her projectile and sliced the bullet cleanly in half. Beshimi was shocked, sensing something odd about Rinoa. How...how can she still use her sorceress power?!?
"Whew," Rinoa breathed a sigh of relief. "That was close."
Flames ignited from Hyottoko's mouth that flew straight towards Luna. She calmly began to circle her katana like a windmil that circled faster and faster as the fire came in contact with her weapon.
"You think you can just avoid the flames by the power of your weapon?!?" Hyottoko shouted angrily as he let the flames spew out even more from his mouth.
Meanwhile, Megan had managed to convince Sakur out of the dojo through the back door. It took a while to calm her down due to the large explosion and the fear of getting tortured and killed gripped her mind. They reached to the side yard when they were stopped by a figure. It was Hannya. Megan instinctively pushed Sakura behind her.
"Who are you?!?" she demanded.
Sakura gripped onto Megan's pantleg tightly and peaked her head out to see.
Hannya's devil mask had no expression, but a muffled chuckling came out from him. He folded his arms across his chest.
"That isn't necessary for you to know," he replied. "I just want the girl behind you."
Megan quickly drew out a dozen throwing knives from her large sleeves. They glowed mysteriously under the moonlight. "You're going to have to past me first." Then to Sakura, "Sakura, go ahead of me back home, got it?"
It took the little girl a moment to comprehend her orders, nodded slowly, and ran off, taking off the keychain around her necklace and pulling out a card at the same time. She threw the card out in front of her, shouting, "Release!!"
The keychain in her hand grew into a staff. She struck the card in front of her, and it started to glow. Quezoctal appeared out of the card and she jumped on it and flew away.
Hannya only chuckled even more. "Oh, do you think she'll get that far?"
"I'll do what I can to prevent you from chasing after her," Megan threatened.
The flames that came out finally halted to a stop. Luna remained unscathed and flicked the remainders of the fire away.
That's impossible! Hyottoko thought. All the oil...
"That's enough playtime," Luna said, lowering her weapon to her side. "Either you surrender or find another way to fight."
"Hold up, Luna," Zell interrupted. "I never gotta chance to finish the fight."
Hyottoko began to refill his mouth with gasoline to reignite the fire. Luna shrugged, unconcerned. "Be my guest."
Zell stood up from one knee and set into a defensive position. He smirked. "Heh, well, thanks fer helpin' me out for a couple. I'll take it from here."
Luna smiled and shrugged again. "Whatever."
Hyottoko dumped the wooden barrel of gasoline to the ground, wiping the remnants that slipped from his mouth. "Too late, punk. I've refilled on supply."
Zell broke out into an all-out grin. "We'll see about that, pyro."
Hyottoko's eyes flared. "That's it, punk! You'll incinerate into ashes with this blow!"
He hacked up enough strength and shot out a massive fireball.
Beshimi kept his focuse on Rinoa as he kept shooting the bullets at her. Rinoa each time sliced them cleanly in half and they would fall to the ground, oozing out a violet vial that stained the ground. Although in an anti-magic field, Rinoa could still use her sorceress abilities such as having a heightened view of the five senses. That was one thing that Beshimi forgot.
Shit! I can't get through. he thought, then noticed a shadow above him. Huh?!?
Squall was up in the air, the Lionheart high above his head. Beshimi stood very, very still with fear gripping onto him...
What the?!? Hyottoko thought as Zell plowed straight through the wall of fire, no fear present in his eyes.
Luna observed, "That's a good idea. Safer to go straight through rather than trying to dodge the flames."
All that Hyottoko could do was stand still because Zell was too fast for him to move. Zell let his fist plow right into Hyottoko's large mouth. After a few moments of struggle, Hyottoko punched Zell hard until he was off of him, pulling a large bag of oil along with him.
Zell landed flat on his butt but was holding the bag by the tube and lifting it up slightly with a mocking grin on his face.
"This is watcha call your trick?" he taunted.
Hyottoko growled in anger. "I ain't done yet!"
He tried for another punch and was knocked down by a swift kick in the face from Zell and fell to the ground that shook the earth. Zell put up a thumbs-up sign.
"A cinch!" he grinned.
Hannya's demon mask appeared behind Beshimi and disappeared, making Squall slice only thin air. Luna felt a familiar aura in the air and turned around, her eyes widening at the sight of a familiar face.
Hannya stood on the roof behind Gene, carrying Hyottoko over his shoulder and Beshimi under his arm. Gene jumped off the roof in surprise as the others gathered by it.
"Koneko, what a surprise that we get to meet," Hannya said through the mask. "It seems that fate is playing its part once again."
"Where's Alex?" she shouted.
"He's located in the Silkehs Mountains in Balamb," he answered bluntly. "If you want to get him, he'll be in there."
With that, he disappeared.
"Wait, Hannya!" Luna shouted, but was too late.
Megan burst in through the door, out of breath. Apparent bruises and cuts were seen through torn areas of her shirt, her knives still in hand. "Where is that guy?"
"Gone," her brother answered and then arched an eyebrow. "Lemme guess, you fought that guy?"
Before Megan could answer, a voice shouted above them, "Heads up!"
A flash of white light and a small figure dropped down. Seifer caught Sakura in his arms. She smiled cutely at him.
"Um..." Seifer struggled to say something nice. Hell, since when was the last time he was around a nine year old who looked so sweet that you couldn't resist to be nice to her? Never. "No problem."
He set her down as she held an unconscious K-chan in her arms. The staff in her hand morphed back into a key again. Quisits looked questionably at the dizzy-eyed Kereberos. "What's wrong with her?"
"She got knocked out by the explosion," Sakura explained. "But that's okay. K-chan'll wake up in an hour or so."
"Luna, what's going on?" Rinoa asked. "Who were those guys?"
"You knew those guys, didn't you," Squall just stated.
Luna was silent for a moment gripping on the hilt of her katana tightly. Lily put a comforting hand on her shoulder to calm her down while the others waited for a response.
"Yeah, I knew them," Luna replied despondently.
"Helloooo!!! I'm baaaccck!!!!" Selphie's honey voice chimed in.
She entered in the hole that Hyottoko made in the wall earlier. As always, Selphie was her happy-go-lucky self, but her expression changed as she saw the grim faces of the others. "Huh? Hey, what's wrong you guys? What did I miss?"
"A frikin' whole mess of crap," Zell muttered.
"Luna's goin to explain, aren't ya?" Raijin tried to answer.
Luna silently nodded.
"Those guys we fought a while ago were people I used to work with five years ago," Luna began to explain to the orphanage gang and company. They were inside the living room around the table again. "Actually, I was hired by them to work as a mercenary."
"So you mean your organization..." Quistis put together.
"It's exactly like SeeD in some ways, but unlike it in others," Lily answered her.
"Really, only Lily knows about this 'cuz she's been with us since we were kids and when we left," Luna continued, "but we went to look for work and left Angel's Orphanage five years ago. That's how Atamos found us. Because our family were the sole heirs of General Caraway, we moved to his home and other estates that he owned in Deling City."
"So...G-General Caraway's your...your father?" Rinoa stammered.
Luna nodded. Squall eyed Rinoa suspiciously to know what she was getting at.
"Atamos assigned us jobs and told us what to do," Luna continued. "Hell and chaos ran throughout all the major cities. Either by a loss of a government or revolution. Phoenix took Deling City and helped the democratic party to take over. Those who oppossed them were the original President Deling's descendants and sent out mercenaries of their own. Lily got Esthar, which was going under turmoil due to plots of assassinating President Loire, and had to lead the Estharian cyborg army. I just...wandered around and took out oncoming air ships that threatened another country, particularly Dollet."
"What about Alex?" Selphie asked. "I mean, if you guys left to work...assassinations, then where did he go?"
"He went with us," Luna confirmed. "We came home and all, but most of the time he was oblivious to all the things going on."
"So...how do these guys come into play?" Seifer asked to get back on the subject.
"They partnered up with me during my missions," Luna answered. "I guess you can say that I was a part of their group once. That is, until the Ultimecia problem surfaced."
"But if they're your friends, then why'd they attack, ya know?" Raijin tried to understand.
"ORDERS," Fujin replied.
"That could be a possibility," Luna considered, "but I don't think it's likely. The leader of those three is a warrior of high caliber named Shiguyou Tojo. He's only a couple of years older than me, but never follows orders. He likes to have everything his way even though he's mostly quiet and antisocial. Rather have as few comrades as possible to keep his identity hidden."
"So then the kid's where that guy told us?" Seifer asked. "The Silkeh Mountains?"
"But we don't know if that's true or not," Quistis pointed out.
"Hannya hates lying," Luna contered. "He'd rather kill himself than spit out something that's not true."
"Then why would they kidnap Alex and attack us?" Rinoa asked, concerned. "I mean, by the way you talk about them, they're like close friends of yours."
The brows creased on her face as Luna tried to figure out why. "I don't know. That's what I don't understand..." Then an idea sprang upon her. "Sakura, do you know those guys who took Alex looked like?"
Sakura frowned, trying to remember. "Mmm....they wore dark suits 'n their sunglasses were black."
"Did they have any insignia on them or something like that?" That question came from Squall who could understand what Luna was getting to.
Sakura pondered the question. Then she snapped her fingers, an image dawning to her mind. "Aha! I 'member that the back of some of those big guys' jackets had some sort of eagle on their back."
Luna arched an eyebrow suspiciously. "Eagle? Was it dark red?"
The little girl nodded jubiantly. "Yah! It was dark red! Looked kinda creepy, too."
Lily slammed her fists on the table out of frustration and anger. "Dammit! So Deling DID know what was going on during our mission. That sonuvabitch is trying to wipe us out using Luna's former comrades!"
"How do you know that?" Selphie asked incredulously.
"Running for president of Galbadia ain't easy," Gene explained. "There could be corruption within a party, assassination attempts, the works. So Deling hired a group of mercenaries called the Crimson Talons to act as his secret police and bodyguards."
"But then why would those guys who attacked us be a part of Deling's gang?" Rinoa pointed out. "I just don't get it..."
"...I think I know why," Luna answered quiety. Everyone turned to her attention. "Deling probably wants to get rid of our gang not only under Ultimecia's orders, but for his benefit as well. He's suspected of being a murderer due to the assassinations of two of his five top political rivals, so he wants us off his back. But half of the entire secret organization of Ultimecia's know our whereabouts. I heard that Shiguyou and the others were looking for jobs after the third Sorceress War between the major countries. So when Deling offered money and jobs, they couldn't refuse. And in return, Deling knows where we're at."
Irvine let out a low whistle. "Wow."
Squall stared at Luna intently. That's something that I would say.
Zell slammed his fists together and stood up. "All right, so why don't we zoom over to Balamb on the Ragnarok, kick some ass, capture Deling, and get Alex back now?"
"Idiot," Seifer remarked.
"What was that, Seifer?!?" Zell yelled out.
Seifer just smirked rather arrogantly. "It's already dark out, we're practically exhausted, and you want us to do all that suff in one night? Not only do ya swat files, but you got a brain of a chicken, too, Chickenwuss."
Before Zell could retaliate, Luna agreed. "He's right for once, Zell. It's too late ot get Alex now. We'll go tomorrow at dawn."
"But Alex might be dead by then!"
She smiled softly at him. "It he did, then I would know."
She said that everybody would go together at dawn, but Luna wanted to find out what Shiguyou was doing. So, during the middle of the night, making sure that everyone was sound asleep, she snuck out and headed toward the Airstation.
I'm sorry guys, she thought. But I need o make sure. I'll go alone if I have to save Alex, even at the risk of my own life.
After showing her pass for entry, she headed towards the Ragnarok's (the one that she recognized, anyway) docking area. She wasn't alone.
"That's a reckless idea to go alone," Squall stated as his body leaned against the side of the ship, arms folded across his chest and eyes staring back to a similiar shad of his own.
"Hmph," Luna set a hand on her hip and stared back at him. "You're one to talk."
Squall arched an eyebrow as she smiled slyly at him. "Auntie Ellone told us all about the heroes who saved the world out of one of many Ultimecias."
"But Squall's right," Rinoa chimed in as she appeared from the darkness. "You shouldn't go alone."
"Hell, I wouldn't mind kicking some ass about now," Zell came in behind her.
"And even with all the burns that you have?" Luna asked in disbelief.
"We healed him!" Sakura and Kereberos popped in. The three shared a look and grinned at one another.
Luna sighed. "I guess you guys won't leave me alone, huh?"
A booming sound disrupted the silence of the night as the Ragnarok left the city of Esthar.
A dim light came to his eyes again. Or rather eye. There was a stinging pain in Alex's left eyes, so he could only see with his right. His body ached and his mind screamed for sleep as he dangled on the chains that clung onto his ankles and wrists. His skin was chafed by rubbing against the metal too much. He could tell that his shirt was stained with his blood because its rustic smell spread throughout his prison. The metal door creaked open again and the dim light grow brighter, blinding Alex's unaccustomed eye. He pretended to still be unconscious as a figure came to him.
The smell of smoke and leather from the figure Alex recognized as Princeton Deling as his gloved hand lifted Alex's chin roughly. Alex was pretty good at acting even though he wanted to rip the chains off of him and strangle Deling with his bare hands.
"Hmph, still unconscious," he heard Deling mutter and was shoved back to the wall again. He could hear his footsteps fading away and the light as well. "No matter. They're going to fall into our trap soon."
The alarm sounded as Deling closed the door, and Alex was back in total darkness again. It echoed throughout the dungeon, soldiers rushed for defense shouting, "The enemy is here! Red Blade is here!! Prepare for attack! Prepare for attack!"
Alex chuckled to himself, mustering the last of his strength to say, "I knew they'd come. Now that bastard'll face Luna's wrath."
When they landed just aways from the mansion, the security was already alerted. But that was already to be expected. Although the alarms had sounded, the iron gates weren't open yet. They just stared up at it.
"Damn," Zell whistled. "That's one big gate."
"You can say that again," Rinoa agreed. "It's gotta be inches thick."
"So what're we gonna do?" Sakura asked inquisitively. "We can't just stay here and wait, can we?"
"You gotta be kidding me..." Squall muttered. Maybe if I cut the doors open...but I don't know if it'll go through.
"Allow me to do the honors," Luna grinned. She stepped towards the gate, cracking her knuckles.
Squall eyed her curiously along with the others. Don't tell me she's gonna...
The intricate bracelets around her wrists glowed a dark red and spun furiously around them. They changed into colorfully designed gauntlets as she prepared to strike. Boom. One punch made a very large dent in the gate. Jaws dropped as Luna continued. Boom. The gate looked like it was about to collapse. Boom. The gate completely fell over and the others charged forward. The guards there were easy targets. They were knocked out quite easily.
"What the hell are you guys doing?!?" one of the commanders shouted. "Attack them!!"
The soldiers did as they were told and rushed forward at their enemy. Luna quickly disposed most of them. She was only a violet blur in the soldiers' eyes. Some of them watched her in fear.
"She's--she's too fast," one of them said, his nose bleeding.
"That speed, she can't be human," murmured another.
"Hey, hey, hey, hey!" Zell bellowed, running towards them. "If you're gonna keep on starin', " he punched both of their lights out, "then you're gonna get clobbered!"
Squall took out those who were coming towards him in his usual demeanor. Rinoa was backed in a corner, but she seemed to be doing all right even though she couldn't use magic at the moment. One snap of her weapon and heads went flying. Squall eyed Zell who seemed to be enjoying himself a little too much. Is it just me or is he happy to fight?
Princeton Deling looked out the window of his three story mansion. He smirked arrogantly to himself as the four figures below him fought against his soldiers.
"So, they're finally here. I didn't expect them to fall into my trap so easily," he said to no one in particular.
"Don't underestimate Red Blade's ability," Hannya appeared next to him, leaning against the wall. "She has a mind of a fox. But the power hungry like you wouldn't understand."
Deling's eyes narrowed slightly. "What?"
"Artillery squadron, aim!" one commander ordered as his troops lined up to fire their Exeters at the oncoming Luna. With one wave os his hand, he shouted, "Fire!"
Luna still kept charging at them, knocking down a couple by surprise. The commander eyed her fearfully. "Even with weapons aimed at her, she's still going even faster..."
As Luna slid to regain her balance, the firing commander used this small interval to his advantage as his squadron turned around. "Artillery squadron, fire!"
"K-chan!!!" Sakura shouted.
Rinoa aimed with her Shooting Star and released the projectile while Sakura grabbed Kereberos by the small angelic wings and threw her forward, sending her flying.
"Whoaa!!!!!" Kereberos shouted.
She landed just on top of the small projectile as it headed towards the commander's head. They collided into his head, rendering him unconscious, and the others took out the rest of the troops.
"Hey, are you okay, Luna?" Rinoa asked worriedly.
Luna stood up. "Yep! I'm just fine!"
Deling's eyes widened in fear as four below him finished off the last of his soldiers. "I-I don't believe it..."
"I told you to not underestimate her," Hannya pointed himself out rather calmly.
"Shut up!" Deling ordered sharply. He set his gloved hands on the open windowsill. "Who would've thought that she would be this powerful even with only half of a sorceress's ---"
He stopped in mid sentence due to the chilling stare that a pair of sapphire eyes gave him. Luna set a hand on her hip, not even laying her eyes off of Deling. "Now, Princeton Deling, where the hell is my brother? Get your ass down here with him!!"
"Creepy thin man..." Sakura muttered.
Rinoa tried to supress a smile at the comment.
Deling paused for a moment, his mind whirling for an excuse. Hannya was silent next to him, giving him no aid.
"Al-alright, I surrender," he finally replied. "I'll hand over your brother." A pause. "But, I have some arrangements to make before I set him free, Red Blade."
Her eyes twitched slightly. The others looked at Luna for an answer, but they knew that was going to be next to impossible.
"Now, if you'll give me one hour to prepare, I'll give him back to you," Deling continued.
Luna slowly walked back while Zell was muttering, "What the hell are you talking about you asshole?"
Sakura and Kereberos watched Luna walk past them. "...Luna?"
She continued walking until she reached a large stone pillar. Examining it for a moment, she made a swift movement with her blade, cleanly cutting through the stone and sending the top half of the pillar flying into the air. Squall made a small "o" while the other three's jaws dropped. Deling looked on in horror as the right side of his mansion was plowed through by the pillar.
"If you're going to be that way, Deling," Luna said dangerously, "I'm going to get him myself!"
"You made her even angrier by using one of your tricks," Hannya explained calmly. "Now it's going to be rather impossible of stopping her from her goal."
"So you're going to have to face Red Blade...," Deling murmured. His only concern was Luna. He had no clue who the others were except for the girl known as Sakura, the girl that Ultimecia wanted captured. With resolution, he turned to Hannya. "Did you get that, Hannya?" Hannya turned his head; Deling getting his attention. "You're going to have to face Red Blade. I don't want any mistakes, not like those fools Beshimi and Hyottoko did."
Hannya quickly grabbed the front of Deling's shirt, surprising the enterprenuer.
"I think you've got it wrong, Deling," Hannya warned. "I don't follow orders from you."
"W-what?" Deling croaked out.
"The only orders I and the others follow are Commander Shiguyou's. You only hired us as mercenaries, not as your soldiers," Hannya continued, the holes in the Devil mask around his eyes glowed a dark blue.
"Well then who do you think is paying your Commander Shiguyou large sums of money?" Deling countered. Then he smirked, an all-knowning one. "HE can't disobey my orders!"
Then he began to laugh hysterically. Hannya gripped the shirt even tighter, closing in the air space on Deling's throat. "You bastard."
"Red blade WILL be defeated," a voice interrupted.
Both men turned their heads in the direction of the voice. "Commander Shiguyou," Hannya replied and released Deling.
Shiguyou stood in the doorway, arms crossed and a sheathed sword, or rather the hilt of it, peeking through his trenchcoat. Deling smiled in triumph. "Is that so?" he said.
"However," Shiguyou continued, "it's not for your sake that we're doing this."
Deling was a bit shocked. "W-what?!?"
"Red Blade was a member of our group once," Shiguyou answered in a calm voice that was beginning to infuriate Deling. "We let her go before because of Ultimecia's appearance. The Leonhart family belong to a long line of descendants with the skill to destroy evil. We had to let Koneko go because of that. You thought that we wanted revenge against Red Blade just because she's stronger than us? Hmph, the power-hungry wouldn't understand."
Deling once again narrowed his eyes. "So what do you mean, then?"
"Scum like you have no right to be able to destroy them," Shiguyou simply answered. "Our goal was to see how strong Red Blade is now. Hannya, get ready."
Hannya simply nodded and disappeared in the shadows. Deling struggled to control his anger as Shiguyou began walking away. "I've put Alex in the third observation tower," he added.
"Then what am I supposed to do?!?" Deling shrieked.
Shiguyou began to close the door behind him and looked back, staring at Deling with cold, mysterious eyes. "Why don't you just count your money to entertain yourself?"
The door shut softly. Deling stared at the place where the silent Commander once stood. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth in anger. "Damn you, Shiguyou Tojo."
The four stared at the long wooden door in front of them.
"This is probably where those guys are waiting for you to come," Kereberos said in a serious tone.
Sakura looked at her stuffed-animal-like-creature friend in shock. "K-chan, I didn't know that you can act serious."
Kereberos began whapping Sakura out of frustration. "That's not what I meant!"
One sideline glance at Squall and both he and Luna pushed the doors open. There was Hannya standing in the middle of the hallway.
"I thought it was you," Luna said.
"Koneko, this'll be probably the last time we'll meet," Hannya replied. He punched his fists together, a metal sound ringing out as they connected.
"That guy's got iron gauntlets underneath those gloves," Zell identified.
"Iron gauntlets? But why would he need gauntles under gloves?" Rinoa wondered.
"Be careful, Luna!" Sakura shouted for moral support.
Luna took one step forward, ready to draw her weapon.
"Wait, Luna," Squall stopped her. He took out Leonhart and walked forward. "Let me take him. You've got enough on your hands already."
She released the grip on the hilt and stepped back. "Thanks."
Squall stepped in front of the group and paused. A staredown between him and Hannya took place for a moment. Then Hannya rushed forward, ready for a punch. Squall remained still, waiting for an opening. But something caught him off guard. Something that was too strange for a normal punch. The others looked in shock.
"A direct hit?!?" Zell exclaimed.
Squall staggered back a bit to regain his balance, but he saw the next strike. He'd fought with Zell enough times to know the martial artists' attacks. A reverse backhand. He tilted slightly to the side to reduce impace, but titled a bit too much and landed on the floor. Hannya jumped up in the air with a quickness that Squall had only seen in the twins as he was about to punch down for the final blow. He managed to avoid it by a fraction of a second and reappeared behind Hannya a few feet away, wiping away a little blood that trickled down his chin and spitting out a loose tooth.
"Shit," Hannya cursed under his breath. He's faster than I thought.
"Squall," Rinoa was about to go to her knight when Luna's voice stopped her.
He's fine, she heard her voice say. Have a bit more faith in your knight, will ya?
Sorceresses can communicate with one another when they're closely related by blood, Luna explained as she still kept her eyes on the fight. With twins, it's even more powerful.
"Wow, he's fast," Sakura observed.
Kereberos struck her on the head. "He's a SeeD, what do you expect?"
"But Daddy's one, too, and he isn't that good."
"That's because your dad hasn't fought in years," Kereberos pointed out.
"Hmph, you're better than what I expected," Hannya commented. "But I guess that runs in the famliy."
Squall arched an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"However," Hannya ignored him and fell back in a stance, "a lion must be defeated sometime or another."
Squall remained calm, eyes narrowing slightly.
"Man," Zell said. "Why is Squall getting beat up so easily? That's not like him."
"Well, he seemed to predict the reverse backhand and managed to avoid the final punch by a fraction of a second," Luna observed. "But...I think it was that first punch that threw him off."
Sakura nodded happily in agreement. "Uh huh, it looked like it got longer."
Zell looked back to the fight. "Well, I see your point. But man, that guy's arms are long, but they can't STRETCH even longer, can they?"
Hannya chuckled to himself lightly. "It's impossible to avoid my technique. You were caught off guard once you laid eyes on my arm."
"If I was caught off guard before," Squall replied, raising the Lionheart to about eye level, "then I'll try this instead."
"Um...just what exactly is Squall doing?" Zell asked, confused.
"It's a defensive stance known as Shinken," Luna answered. "It's an ancient defensive stance used to predict an enemy attack once in reach."
"Hmm, so you think you can avoid my punch?" Hannya said, setting himself in an offensive stance. "Shinken is a stance that limits your offense." No matter how defensive his posture is, he won't be able to avoid my punch!
Squall remained silent. Taking that as an answer, Hannya attacked just above the blunt edge of the Lionheart. After mere moments, Squall stepped to the side, Hannya missing completely, and released the trigger, striking Hannya's left side of the mask. Hannya recoiled back in pain, grabbing his mask.
"Wow..." Sakur murmured in awe.
"How'd you dodge it?" Rinoa asked Squall.
"It's pretty simple once you get the basics of the move," he answered. "The illusion of his arm stretching out is merely the sideways stripes tattooed on his arms."
"I get it," Zell said. "Those stripes trick your eyes and creates an optical illusion."
"Hmph, that's pretty smart," Hannya said in a muffled voice, his hands still covering his mask. "You weren't just being defensive, but measureing the length of my arm as well?"
"So he was using the Lionheart as a ruler," Luna realized.
"I underestimated you," Hannya continued. "Even though you are a SeeD, you've got a lot of potential of becoming something else. Commander Shiguyou led us through that higher level during the Sorceress Wars. We became stronger and more dependent of ourselves." He uncovered his mask, bits and pieces cracked and fell out on the left side of his face, revealing the true form underneath which was a dark blue eye and a scorched face. Luna gasped.
"All these scar, I went through hell and back," Hannya explained. "But Commander Shiguyou, he chose the four of us to lead through the chaos of the Sorceress War. Our goal is to prevent Ultimecia from penetrating through the world's barriers." His fist clenched together and metal claws shot out.
"If you're goal is to stop Ultimecia, then why are you stopping us? We're on the same side!" Squall pointed out.
"Shut up!" Hannya shouted and attacked. Squall slid the Lionheart right in between one of the metal claws. Metal clinked against metal. For a second, they stared at one another then jumped off of opposite sides on the walls and charged forward. Metal hit against metal again and they landed on opposite side; silence followed.
Hannya began to chuckle. "You're better than what I expected. However..." Squall gritted his teeth in pain as blood sprayed out from his right shoulder, "you're not match for Commander Shiguyou." Hannya spit out blood and collapsed to the ground, unconscious. The others ran to Squall.
"Squall, are you okay?" Rinoa asked, concerned.
"I'm fine, just a scratch," he replied, strapping Lionheart back into its place. "Let's go."
They ran to the next room which seemed to be the main foyer. A pack of nervous soldiers blocked the way to the upper floor.
"W-we're not going to let you go any further!" one of them stammered out.
"Luna, I'll take care of 'em!" Sakura shouted happily.
They continued to run forward. The soldiers split up, letting the others access. "Alright, Sakura, I'm counting on you!" Luna shouted back as they ran upstairs.
"Leave it to us!" Kereberos shouted triumphantly.
The soldiers surrounded the creature and Sakura. "It's only a girl and her stuff animal!" one said defiantly.
"Who're you calling a girl?!?" Sakura shouted angrily.
"And I'm not a stuffed animal, you idiot!" Kereberos said angrily.
Sakura flipped out a card in front of her while Kereberos's body glowed white. "Combine!!!"
A white light brightened the room and the screams of dying men echoed.
"Are you sure she's gonna be okay?" Rinoa asked LUna. "I mean, with all those guys chasing her..."
Luna giggled as they approached the door. "Don't worry, she'll be just fine. I feel sorry for those guys who have to face those two."
She felt a strong, familiar aura inside. They opened the door, a ballroom. Standing in the middle was Shiguyou, arms crossed as if waiting for them to come. His eyes were still covered by his dark bangs, but Rinoa could see that they were of many different colors and glowed mysteriously even though there was still light in the room.
"So you managed to defeat Hannya. I'm impressed," he said in a monotonous tone.
So that's who Luna was talking about... Zell thought.
The leader of the group she used to be in... Squall added along the same lines.
...Shiguyou Tojo. Rinoa finished.
Luna took one step forward. "Shiguyou, where's Alex?"
Shiguyou closed his eyes for a moment. "That, I cannot tell you."
"Then why are you with Deling?" Luna burst out. "I thought that you and the others hated being used for evil purposes."
"Our mission is completely different from that idiot Deling's," he explained. "We came here for a different course, and this was the only way that we could get Princeton Deling's trust."
"Then why involve my brother in this?" Luna asked in a more softer tone.
"That was because he involved himself in it," Shiguyou plainly answered, drawing out his weapon which was also a katana. "To get him back, you'll have to defeat me first."
"You guys go on ahead and find Alex," Luna quietly said to the others, drawing out her katana as it glowed a dark jade.
"But---" Zell began to protest.
"I'm BAAAACCCCKKKK!!!!" Sakura shouted with Kereberos trailing behind.
"What do you mean YOU'RE back? WE'RE back, Card Captor!" Kereberos corrected.
"That was fast, guys," Rinoa complimented. Especially for a nine year old...
Sakura grinned. "Heh, that was easy!"
"If you're not going to attack, Luna," Shiguyou said, everybody focusing back to the upcoming fight. He started to walk then moved faster, "then I'll kill you first!"
Luna raised up her weapon to block, then saw an upcoming kick when their weapons connected. Oh, shit! Shiguyou's boot connected, sending Luna flying to the side. In midair, she flipped over and landed softly on the ground. She eyed the commander carefully. I forgot that he uses the katana only for defense. Her sapphire eyes narrowed slightly. His offense is kempo, like mine.
"Damn!" Zell growled and was about the intervene when Squall stopped him.
"Wait, Zell," he said. "This is Luna's fight. I don't think she'd like us to intervene. Let her take care of this."
"Do you think we should go and find Alex?" Rinoa asked.
Squall shook his ehad. "No. I've got a feeling that we should stick around and see what happens."
"You're slower than before, Koneko," Shiguyou noticed. "Stand up and fight."
Luna spit out blood that had creeped up to her mouth, still keeping her gaze on her former comrade. She stood up, but didn't bother to get the first attack. That would be too reckless, and she was more experienced that that. There's gotta be a way to get through his defenses, I know there is. Hannya showed it to me before... Her bracelets transformed into gauntlets again. Something snapped within them and they both attacked at the same time. Luna mised a strike, and Shiguyou retaliated against that. She avoided his punch but barely avoided her head from being chopped off. Strands of black floated down to the floor. Luna tried for a punch in the midsection, but her fist connected with the hilt of his katana and got a swift kick to the side of her ribs. She flew again, flipped over and landed on her feet. Shiguyou stood in front of her a sword's length away, eyes showing no emotion.
Zell's eyes narrowed slightly, gritting his teeth. That guy...he's got the advantage, but he's not even smiling one damn bit. Luna stared up at him unemotionally also, but she just wanted to hug and cry on his shoulder after not seeing him for so long. I found it... She smiled softly at him. His mysterious eyes flinched slightly.
"I finally figured out how to get through your defenses," she said. "I remember Hannya showing it to me once." She saw through the ruffled bangs that his eyes softened for a moment, but then changed back to no expression after that split moment.
"Then show me," he said.
Luna sliced downward, Shiguyou striking down at the same time. "You're too slow."
But his eyes widened at the shock of Luna's hand cut and bleeding, drops of her blood dripping to the floor. She turned the blade and struck upwards, the hilt stricking at the base of his trachea. Shiguyou staggered back, grabbing his throat instinctively due to the pain.
Sakura jumped in glee. "A hit!"
"What did you find out?" Squall asked.
"His weapon's a bit shorter than mine, but still a katana nevertheless," Luna explained, looking at Shiguyou directly in the eyes. "So I had to adjust mine to his length."
Shiguyou narrowed one eyes. "So that's why..." he managed to say. A pause, then, "So that's why you're holding the base of the blade." The pain in his throat ebbed, and he slowly let go of it. "You've gotten stronger, Koneko," He raised his weapon diagonally, his fingertips lightly touching the end of the blade. "However, although you have been with us for a whil, you have never seen my final technique."
Mirror images of him began to form, or at least that's what the others saw. He was actually moving in a liquid-like movement, confusing and evading Luna at the same time. Her eyes widened in shock as she missed him again. This technique...it's like...it's like Phoe's! Shiguyou began to circle around her, evading her blows with his water-like movement. The movement of water fluctuates all the time: either taking its opponents away or aiding them. They also confuse an enemy, just like how your twin sister, Phoenix, uses her final technique to confuse hers. After one final missed strike, Shiguyou reappeared behind Luna, preparing the final blow. She turned around one second too late and the seering plain of blade cutting flesh filled her mind.
She tumbled backwards and finally rolled to a stop, face down. She was still for a few moments while the others waited anxiously to see if there was any sign of life present as a small pool of blood began to form. Then slowly, but surely, Luna got up from the floor. She panted slightly due to the loss of blood and covered her wound with one arm but kept a cold stare at Shiguyou.
"You managed to survive," Shiguyou replied emotionlessly. "You're the first person to. That doesn't surprise me, though. You do have sorceress's blood within you. However," He raised his katana again as before, "can you avoid a second attack of the Kaiten Kenbu?" The liquid like movement began again.
"Luna, be careful!" Sakura warned.
"He's doing another one of those again," Zell added.
Squall noticed that she wasn't listening to them. He saw her wrap the strap of her sheath around her arm, sheathing her weapon. Her eyes were covered by long, thick strands of black, so he couldn't see what she was thinking. However, he could see her lips moving, but couldn't make out what she was saying. Shiguyou attacked again, but missed for Luna was high up in the air, almost touching the ceiling. He paused and looked up as she leaned forward and began to fall back down. Her hand was still on the gemmed hilt as if waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
"I've seen that before!" Shiguyou shouted and jumped up to her. The others looked on, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
Once he was close enough, Luna twirled in the air, drawing out her weapon with such velocity that shockwaves were sent back, almost knocking over the observers below. The piercing sound of metal scratching against metal like nails on a chalkboard echoed throughout the room. Thye landed on opposite sides; an eerie silence followed.
Shiguyou smirked slightly after a few minutes. "...You are better than before, Koneko. That's what I expected." He fell over, unconscious.
Luna stood. The others ran to her.
"Hell, I dunno how you did it, bt you did it!" Zell grinned. "Was startin' to get worried."
"Are you okay, Luna?" Rinoa asked worriedly.
Luna laughed lightly. She smiled, her sapphire eyes sparking. "I'm fine," she replied cheefully. "The wound isn't as big as you think. Besides, I didn't lose too much blood, so I'll be okay if I don't move that much."
"But you shouldn't scare us like that!" Kereberos complained. "I though you were going to get impaled or something!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."
"What about Shiguyou?" Squall asked, casting a sideways glance at the man. "Will he be okay?"
"He'll be okay," Luna answered. "He'll be unconscious for a few hours and might have some trouble breathing, but he'll be as good as new once he regains consciousness."
The doors slammed open and the three followers of Commander Shiguyou appeared. Shiguyou slowly stood up. Everybody fell into defensive stances. Shiguyou stuck out his arm to halt his members while still staring at Luna straight in the eye. His bangs only covered his eyes partially now, and the others could see that they were a strange greenish-bluish color that glowed slightly.
"Why didn't you finish me off?" Shiguyou demanded.
"Commander Shiguyou, I'm sorry, but I can't do that," Luna replied softly. "The others need you and so do I."
Shiguyou's eyes widened slightly as Luna continued, "You don't know how much I missed you guys when Ultimecia appeared. Phoenix was the only person who understood why I've been looking for you guys after all this time when I heard that your base was infiltrated and destroyed. Now I find you again and we have to kill each other? ...That's pointless."
You really care about Shiguyou, don't you, Luna? Rinoa thought.
Even though he won't admit it openly, he's my knight in shining armor. Like how Squall is to you, came her reply.
"So then you're like us," Hannya replied, surprising Luna. "After the third sorceress war, we heard that you moved away from Deling City. So we began searching for your whereabouts and found her and everyone in Esthar."
Silence followed. But then gunshots disrupted the silence and blasted through the door. The sounds came from something similar to a machine gun. Deling appeared out the the debris, chuckling to himself. Next to him was a very large gatling gun.
"Well, well, well, ain't this a coincidence?" Deling mocked. "You had fun in your little fight and now it's my turn."
He fired out aimlessly turning the weapon and shooting at particularly nothing. Squall grabbed Rinoa. Zell grabbed Sakura and Kereberos. Everybody else ran to avoid the bullets while Deling laughed maniacally.
"Dammit, he's shooting like this on purpose!" Zell growled.
"Deling, why are you doing this?!?" Hannya shouted.
"You call me Lord Deling, idiot!" Deling shouted back, enraged, and faced the gun towards Hannya.
Bullets rang out and headed right towards Hannya. But in the last second, he was pushed out of the way by Shiguyou. The others watched in horror as bullets pierced through his legs. Deling smirked with satisfaction as the elite commander fell to the ground. Luna ran to him as well as his three comrades. Shiguyou stared coldy at Deling as he gritted his teeth in a mixture of pain and anger.
Luna's eyes narrowed dangerously. "You bastard..."
Deling chuckled again, lighting up a cigarette in the process. "Listen, Red Blade, money is power. I've got to find a way to have that. Hiring troops cost too much money." He patted lightly on the gatling gun. "This is a way to get money when I sell this. Money, that's the TRUE power, unlike you." He began to laugh maniacally again. "Hah! The most poerful one will be me!"
"Otherwise, a merchant of Death," Squall concluded.
"Do you think that's going to prove anything?!?" Luna shouted angrily, her voice beginning to snarl like a lioness. "Sacraficing lives just to gain power?!?"
"This'll kill anyone who stands in my way," Deling answered arrogantly. Then he swung the gatling gun so that it would aim at Shiguyou and the group surrounding him. "And the first one will be you, Shiguyou Tojo!!"
Shiguyou narrowed his eyes and was about to charge forward on injured legs when Hyottoko ran ahead of him. Deling quickly fired, putting at least twently holes into his large fram. The others looked on in shock.
"Hyottoko!" Shiguyou yelled.
Before Hyottoko died, he smiled. Deling arched an eyebrow and saw that Beshimi used the large man as a spring before he collapsed.
"Take---" Beshimi aimed.
Deling panicked and immediately shot him as well. The first bullet struck right through his chest, but Beshimi continued to aim and released the spiral bullet before ten other bullets from the gun plowed right through his small body. He also crashed to the ground, lifeless.
"Beshimi..." Luna whispered. Her eyes, filled with tears, flickered dangerously as she crouched by Shiguyou's side.
"Koneko, get out of her," Shiguyou whispered in so low of a voice that only she could hear.
She shook her head slightly, tears streaming down her cheeks and sapphire eyes boring into Deling's image. Hannya appeared behind them and laid a hand on her shoulder.
"Koneko," Hannya said, "Alex is located in the third observation tower on the left." His blue eyes said something else to her: Take out Deling while you can.
"I'll be taking your speed as a gift down in hell," he added before running to his right.
Luna realized what Hannya mean and shouted to the others, "Get Alex! I'll take care of this!"
"B-but---" Rinoa hesitated, but Squall took her arm and one look in his eyes convinced her to go.
They left and Luna ran to the opposite side, leaving a bewildered Shiguyou. Deling aimed towards Hannya first.
"Hannya!" Shiguyou shouted to stop him.
"Commander," Hannya said as he ran, "farewell!!"
Shots rang out, one penetrating through his heart and he died on the instant. More shot through his lifeless body as Shiguyou could do nothing but look in horror as his best friend, his brother by oath, died right before his eyes.
Luna drew out her katana just as Deling turned the gun towards her, laughing. "It's no use, Red Blade! It's too late! Those idiots couldn't even lay a finger on me and died. Now, you're next!"
Luna gave him an icy stare that chilled him to the bone. But he shouted, "DIE, RED BLADE!!!!"
She ran towards the gun just as it was about to shoot, ducking under the bullets that came abover her at such an amazing speed, she reached the gun in no time and leaped into the air. Deling wanted to fire as she was in the air, but for some reason, the handle on the gun wouldn't work. Glancing to one side, he gasped in shock. The spiral bullet that Beshimi had thrown was not intended to him at all. It jammed the belt where the bullets were coming from. While still in shock, Luna landed just to the side of the gun, giving him a glare of death. She struck sideways, slicing the gun in half. Deling staggered back, now helpless.
"M-mercy..." he pleaded.
"If you want to be spared, then why don't you ask your precious money for it?!?!?" Luna answered.
Blade met flesh, and so was Deling's last breath. After moments of silence, she flicked off the blood on her blade and walked over to a despaired Shiguyou. Sheathing her sword, she came from behind him and wrapped her arms in a hug, surprising him. He felt warm tears on his trenchcoat.
"It wasn't your fault...." Luna whispered softly in his ear.
They reached to the observation tower that Hannya had told them. Zell and Squall knocked the door down and found Alex lying on the couch, all bruised and bloodied. Dried blood stained his face and shirt. He was a terrible sight.
"Hyne..." Squall murmured.
They ran towards his still form. Zell went to check his pulse whil Rinoa examined his wounds carefully.
"He's still alive," Zell informed when he heard light breathing coming out of Alex. "Just barely, though."
"I wonder what happened to him..." Rinoa murmured.
Squall knelt down next to her, leaving a shocked Sakura. "Probably tortured," he answered after glancing at his wounds and shuddered inwardly at the memory of the D-District Prison only two years before.
A booming sound echoed throughout the mansion as Luna ran into the room, gasping for air.
"Is he...okay?" she managed to say.
Squall silently nodded.
Luna's eyes were filled with relief. "That's good. But now we better get out, fast."
"Huh? Why?" Zell asked.
"This place has a self-detonating device. It got activated," she explained.
"Where's Shiguyou?" Kereberos asked.
Luna's eyes were sad for a moment. "He...he's dead. He lifted up the anti-magic barrier and it exploded on him because of it. I tried to stop him and pull him back, but he pushed me out of the way when the magic device started to detonate." A pause. "But we better get out. This place is going to blow any minute."
"How?" Rinoa asked. "Alex is badly injured. How are we supposed to carry him out and get back to the Ragnarok on time?"
Luna looked at Sakura. The girl snapped out of her trance and nodded, flipping out a card. It floated in the air in front of her and began to glow a light blue.
"TELEPORT!!!" she shouted.
Squall piloted the Ragnarok away from the area of the Silkehs Mountains as the mansion that they just occupied detonated and gave out a fiery red bubble that glowed brightly in the night. Rinoa and Luna looked after Alex while Sakura slept, exhausted from the trip and hugging an equally exhausted Kereberos, and Zell paced around the ship as they headed back toward Balamb Garden. Using Curagas was next to impossible in Alex's current condition and the others were afraid that he might go into aftershock. Luna looked out the pilot window sadly.
I hope Phoenix is having luck with her knight.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Whew! Chapter finished!! Sorry if this took like forever to post up, but well, I had school finals to take care of. Anyhoo, school's over, so I'll be able to write some more. Oh, and I absolutely thank Celestial Senshi for giving me the alias for Luna's name: Red Blade. If there are any questions, please e-mail or review me!! ~Ayame-chan
WHAT'S TO COME:
She entered in the restaurant and couldn't believe her eyes. The man sitting in the corner of the restaurant, reading a newspaper, was HIM. His black hair grew a bit and was tied back into a ponytail; he wore the typical dark clothing of Atamos's organization: black trenchcoat, black pants, and a black shirt. But those eyes....Phoenix could never forget those eyes. Those emerald eyes that promised to protect her with all his heart returned to her. Phoenix slowly walked towards the table, her eyes brimming with tears as she slowly smiled, saying: