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  • Writer's picturePete Lopeno


Chapter 1 - A Premature Celebration


"She was so strong, yet at the same time she seemed so fragile. Docile, yet at the same time she was so headstrong. She was an amalgamation of intricately beautiful contradictions… she was flawed, yet at the same time… she was perfect."

"Ladies and gentlemen… constituates… fellow SeeD members… welcome to Balamb Garden's annual Garden Festival!" Selphie Tilmitt declared elatedly from behind the podium to a seemingly captive audience that let out a resounding ovation before she could even finish her introduction.

Normally, a formal greeting such as this would not warrant that kind of response. But, this was no ordinary celebration.

This year's Garden Festival was much more than just an annual celebration to commemorate the founding of SeeD… the vision of Cid and Edea Kramer. This was about something much, much deeper. This… was a celebration of their own survival… a celebration of their very existence. Everything that exists, everything that has ever existed, and everything that has even yet to be, were only moments away from extinction at the hands of Sorceress Ultimecia. A sorceress fueled by her bitter hatred and her utter distain for this world, who had perhaps become the most powerful sorceress of not only her own time… but, of any time… past, present, or future. Perhaps, she was even more powerful than the great Hyne himself.

Her ultimate goal… Time Compression. A form of time based magic in which all time would be absorbed. The only thing that could possibly exist in this time compressed world would be a sorceress as powerful as Ultimecia herself, and who or whatever else that she would allow to exist. Just when she was on the verge of accomplishing this insidious plot, she was defeated by the six individuals who were now taking center stage.

"Balamb Garden would like to welcome all of you here and thank you for coming out this evening to celebrate this joyous occasion! TE-HEE!" she said, completely losing her composure. Realizing that she needed to remain professional at all times while representing Garden, she quickly collected herself before continuing on with the introductions.

"Ahem… Without further adieu, allow me to introduce to you the man who's made all of this possible. He is the founder of SeeD, and Headmaster of Balamb Garden. Ladies and gentlemen... Mr. Cid Kramer!"

After Selphie's brief introduction, Cid methodically made his way from the backstage area and up to the podium, which was positioned front and center upon the stage itself. With the audience anxiously anticipating his arrival, the moment he appeared from behind the curtain, the already thunderous ovation he was receiving slowly transitioned from an incoherent sea of applause to an even more thunderous, yet unified chorus of "CID... CID... CID... CID! CID! CID! CID! CID!" You could feel the rumble beneath your feet as the crowd stomped in unison with every echo of his name. Cid could not help but smile as he acknowledged the crowd. He stood at the podium in silence for a moment as he took it all in.

As he surveyed the audience, his thoughts began to wander momentarily. He began reflecting on how fragile all of this is. How in less than an instant, all of this could easily have come to an end. How easily we all take our lives for granted. It is so easy for us to take those things in which we do involuntarily for granted… even something that is so encompassing, yet something that is so simple as to merely exist.

Suddenly realizing that he had been standing at the podium in complete silence for a while now, Cid quickly gathered his thoughts while glancing down at his notebook in order to refocus on the task at hand. As he signaled to the audience to quiet down, he slowly began to speak.

"Thank you… thank you… thank you very much… thank you… please…" he said as he once again, although more animatedly, signaled to the audience to quiet down. "Please… we have much to discuss… thank you… thank you very much." Cid stated again as the crowd finally began to calm down and take their seats.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. As Selphie stated earlier, I would like to welcome all of you to our thirteenth annual Garden Festival. And, although I do enjoy a good compliment from time to time, I don't believe that I can, in good conscience, take full credit for making all of this possible. First of all, for the first time I'd like to publically acknowledge my partner in co-founding SeeD. This is something that is, and has been long overdue. I may have been the one who put the plan into action, but she's truly the one who came up with the concept; a brainchild that she conceived thirteen years ago to this day. She's the one who laid the groundwork… forging the fundamental principles in which SeeD was founded upon. While I may have given the concept life… I truly believe that she's the one who gave it purpose. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big round of applause to my partner... my wife… Mrs. Edea Kramer."

The crowd obliged, giving her a resounding ovation as she made her way onto the stage, even though it was evident that there was an underlying sense of uneasiness in the midst of her presence… and who could blame them? After all, it was only a few short months ago when she was the enemy. Under Ultimecia's control, with the entire Galbadian Army at her disposal, Edea launched a massive assault on Garden… killing hundreds of SeeDs and injuring many others in the process.

The entire network of Garden was left devastated in her torturous wake. After SeeD's failed attempt to assassinate the former sorceress in Deling City, Galbadia mounted a counter offensive… quickly confiscating Galbadia Garden for the sole purpose of becoming their mobile base of operations, and then launching twenty-four BA6-0003A Galbadian Cruise Missiles, twelve headed towards Trabia and the other twelve headed towards Balamb, in an attempt to stifle any possible threat that SeeD may have imposed before it could even get off the ground. Though Balamb Garden managed to escape the primary blast zones with only minor damages, Trabia Garden was not nearly as fortunate. Trabia, despite being the smallest complex in the network, was domicile to the majority of SeeD's fully trained personnel. Edea knew of this, and thus, Ultimecia knew of this, and made Trabia Garden the primary target.

The missiles struck without warning and without mercy… taking the lives of four hundred sixty-seven SeeD personnel, one hundred and fourteen students, thirty-nine junior classmen, and sixteen civilian contractors in all, with several more reporting in with severe to completely debilitating injuries.

Trabia Garden itself was left a complete and total loss. It's decrepit, hollow shell had been reduced to nothing more than a memoriam for those who had fallen victim during the attacks. After the war, which most historians are now referring to as the 'Second Sorceress War,' the survivors were eventually absorbed into Balamb and Galbadia Garden; all three hundred and sixty-four of them are currently in attendance this evening.

Many of them have been permanently scarred by those tragic events in Trabia. Some of these scars can easily be seen by others… such as those confined to wheel chairs and amputees. Some scars however, the ones that are not apparent to the naked eye, will perhaps be the hardest to overcome. Their animosity towards her may be misplaced, but it is more than justifiable.

"Secondly, I'd like to extend a personal debt of gratitude to each and every one of you. To every SeeD member… to every undergraduate in attendance here tonight… thank you so much for all of your brave and valiant efforts in the face of so much adversity.

Outnumbered nearly ten to one against the most powerful nation in the world… you never backed down…you never faltered… you never wavered… and you never surrendered. In this institution's storied thirteen year history; it truly was our finest hour. Give yourselves a big round of applause."

As Cid completed that last sentence, he silently mulled over his own choice of words. "'Our finest hour?' Heh! I believe 'your finest hour' may have been more appropriate." he thought guiltily to himself.

Even though that statement was made in the context of "our" meaning SeeD as an organization, in that moment Cid began to analyze and dissect his own words in the context of "our" meaning you and me… and while fending off the Galbadian military was historically one of their greatest moments, he knew in his heart that it most certainly was not one of his.

For nearly thirteen years, he had prepared himself for that moment. For nearly thirteen years, he had practically spent every minute of every single day in preparation for what Edea believed to be their destiny… his destiny… the formation of Garden and SeeD Special Forces to one day oppose the sorceress. Nearly thirteen years worth of his blood, his sweat, and his tears had taken Edea's vision and turned it into a full-blown realization.

SeeD; had become a reality.

Yet, in spite of all his hard work and preparation, there was one thing that Cid had failed to prepare for. The one thing that he never could've anticipated or even possibly imagined… the possibility of Edea herself being the sorceress that they were destined to oppose. The possibility that he, Cid Kramer, would have to give the order to take the life of the one he loves.

A husband betraying his wife… a knight betraying his sorceress.

The mere thought of it was simply more than he could bear. Already emotionally distraught from his earlier confrontation with NORG, the proprietor and self-appointed Master of Garden, Cid uncharacteristically faltered in the heat of the moment. He panicked… and then seemingly without warning or even the utterance of a single word, he disappeared; retreating to the sanctuary of that old stone house in Centra where all of this began almost thirteen years ago. Leaving the fate of not only SeeD, but the fate of existence in the hands of a reluctant and untested seventeen year old rookie SeeD Commander, who at the time was only a few days removed from even passing the SeeD Field Exam. In hindsight, it's a decision he deeply regrets. If he could turn back the hands of time and do it all over again, he'd do it without hesitation. Yet, after some time to reflect on everything that's transpired, Cid has come to the realization that the decisions he's made were merely a part of his destiny fulfilling itself… a chain of events that were beyond his control. But, this epiphany provided him little solace because that is the part that kills him the most. The fact that despite all of his valiant efforts, his destiny was not one of a hero… but that of a coward.

"Last, and most certainly not least, I'd like to thank the six individuals sitting behind me on center stage." He said as he turned and gestured towards the three sitting behind him to his left and then the three sitting behind him to his right.

"Words simply cannot express the debt of gratitude that is owed to them for the sacrifices they've made. Not only for SeeD… but, for the sake of humanity. They willingly laid their lives on the line for the very fate of existence. Take a moment to truly encompass what that means. The fate… of existence!

Every single man, woman, and child… the water we drink… the air we breathe… our homes… our land… our entire civilization. All of the beautiful and majestic creatures and wildlife that inhabit this planet, or any planet for that matter. The sun, the earth, the moon, the stars… everything.

Everything that we've ever known, and all of the things that have yet to be discovered. All of creation… whether it be the results of evolution, or if it's truly the workings of a higher consciousness… came face to face with the threat of total annihilation.

Ultimecia, a sorceress who resides many generations into the future, is the entity which posed that threat. Through the manipulation of Sorceress Edea and Rinoa Heartilly, Ultimecia carefully and calculatingly carried out her radical objective. The Galbadian military's extensive pursuit of Ellone Loire and the unsealing of Sorceress Adel were two seemingly unrelated events. But, they were bound together by a common purpose. That purpose… was Ultimecia's selfish desire to eradicate the very fabric of life itself through Time Compression. Past, present, and future… converged as one… absorbed and manipulated by a single entity.

All existence denied."

Those words immediately resonated with those who have heard them spoken before.

"All existence denied."

So many mixed emotions, vivid memories, and haunting images will forever be associated with those words. Images of time and space literally melting all around them; contorting unto itself as Time Compression slowly began. Their long and grueling battle across multiple continents and generations against sorceresses past, present, and future.

The thousands upon thousands of mangled and rotting husks of all the SeeDs that preceded them as they lay scattered across the barren landscape they once called home. Ascending the dark and ominous stairway that seemingly extended all the way into the heavens… not made up of stairs or steps, but of massive iron links… anchoring Ultimecia's telekinetically suspended, island stronghold to the mainland.

Making their way through her inner-sanctum; defeating the various sentinels and solving all of the various riddles that awaited them along the way. Strong feelings of fear and apprehension, but at the same time having strong feelings of absolute resolve and determination as they crossed the weathered viaduct that connected the two towers. Approaching the antechamber doors, knowing full well that their destiny… as well as the fate of existence… lied beyond those doors. Images of a malevolent, yet strikingly beautiful figure sitting unworriedly, almost tranquilly upon her throne. However, her eerily placid exterior quickly gave way to one of bitterness and rage as she began to speak.

"SeeD," she said as she gazed upon them condescendingly. "SeeD… SeeD…

SeeD, SeeD, SeeD! Curse all SeeDs! Swarming like locusts across generations. You disgust me."

The sound of her voice was crabbed and wicked; distorted, like there were several distinctive voices speaking together in unison; each voice speaking in various different tongues. Most of which were ancient, dead languages that have not been spoken or even heard of in generations.

"The world is on the verge of that ever-elusive Time Compression. You insolent fools! The price for your meddling is death beyond death! I shall send you to a dimension that is beyond your imagining. There I alone will reign, and you will be my slaves for an eternity! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" the voices cackled hysterically in unison as she rose to her feet; her blackened wings extending menacingly behind her.

She closed her eyes while visibly taking in a deep breath of air. As she slowly exhaled, you could feel the resonance of her power emanating throughout the entire antechamber.

"Your vain crusade ends here, SeeDs." she stated matter-of-factly as she reopened her eyes. "So, which of you bastards shall I exterminate first? I believe I will start with YOU!" the sorceress hissed through clenched teeth as she focused her attention on the tall, ponytailed cowboy wearing a tan, weathered trench coat. Ultimecia quickly called upon the power of elemental magic, casting a very powerful Areo spell. The huge gust of wind sent him crashing violently into one of the many columns supporting the atrium, located in the center of her antechamber.

A blow like that would have crushed an ordinary man… Irvine Kinneas however, is no ordinary man.

Endowed with the power and strength of the aeons, more commonly known to mortal men as Guardian Forces, he quickly got back to his feet… determined to rejoin the fight.

"So, even the aeons conspire against me?" the sorceress questioned as she look upon him disheartedly. "No matter… like the great Tiamat before them, they will share in your fate as my slaves for all eternity! Prepare to depart from this world, young SeeDs."

And without another word, the battle for their very survival had begun.

Immediately, almost instinctively, the young, blond haired, and tattooed martial artist charged forward; eager to be the one who gets to take the first shot at the dark sorceress.

When it comes to self-discipline and controlling your emotions while engaging in battle, Zell Dincht still has much to learn.

The sorceress obliged, descending from on high to meet him half way across the makeshift battlefield. Zell quickly met her advances by feigning a knee then coming over the top with an overhand right, which he seamlessly followed up with a spinning back kick. Both moves were expertly blocked by the sorceress, though the sheer force of the kick pushed her backwards several feet; creating some distance between the two combatants.

Zell wasted no time however in closing the distance between them, leaping through the air while unleashing a vicious flurry of kicks. Once again, each strike was almost effortlessly thwarted by the sorceress. Ultimecia, attempting to mount some offense of her own, retaliated with a reverse roundhouse kick. But, due to defending herself from Zell's previous onslaught, her kick was slow and telegraphed, with the young SeeD easily ducking underneath. In the same motion, he counter attacked with a leg sweep, hoping to take the sorceress off of her feet while she was still on one leg and in a vulnerable position. But, much to his surprise, she too had already anticipated his next move in their physical game of chess, stepping over top of the sweep attempt and countering with a clubbing butterfly kick to the face, catching him across the brow with the back of her right heel and then across the temple with her left foot, turning the martial artist completely inside out as he fell hard to the unforgiving marble floor.


Before the sorceress could capitalize on her fallen opponent, she was quickly interrupted by the distinctive sound of a whip cracking from behind her, accompanied by a sudden, sharp, and wrenching pain in her right forearm. The sorceress instinctively looked down to find the whip wrapped around her forearm in what appeared to be a feeble attempt at stopping her advances towards the now prone martial artist. Following the whip with her eyes to its source, she looked up in annoyance at the tall, blond haired, and blue eyed woman who was pulling at the other end.

"Foolish insect!" Ultimecia said in disgust as she once again called upon the power of Elemental Magic, this time with Quistis Trepe caught dead center in the crosshairs of the Maelstrom she was about to unleash.

Before Quistis could even react, an ominous and dark vortex had completely enveloped her; the unnaturally intense winds literally tearing her apart at the cellular level. The unfathomable pain that she would endure in those brief few moments was unlike anything that she would ever experience; like a million tiny shards of glass were being forced through every pore, on every surface of her body. She desperately wanted to scream, to cry out in unspeakable anguish, but her voice had suddenly failed her; her silent screams of pain and torment going completely unheard as she began to physically disperse into the vortex, like particles of dust scattering aimlessly into the wind.

It may have only lasted a few seconds, but the damage had most certainly been done. When it was over, her inanimate, limp body collapsed to the floor with a sickening and intimidating thud. She was still breathing, but barely. As she lay there completely motionless, blood slowly began to seep from every orifice on her body, with the evil sorceress looking on with a repugnant smirk on her face, seemingly deriving immense pleasure from what she had done to the former SeeD Instructor.

"NO!" shrieked another female combatant as she came running to Quistis's aid. The much shorter, brown haired teenager sporting a yellow, overall style miniskirt kneeled down to check her pulse, momentarily taking her eyes off of her opponent… instinctually ignoring everything that she had ever learned in training; mainly due to the shock and awe of how easily, and how horrifically her friend had just been disposed of. After locating a pulse, the young SeeD quickly stood up and pulled out a pair of elongated Nunchaku from the brown suede holster that she had slung across her back. She began to twist and turn them in several distinct and synchronized patterns, trying to invoke the healing power of white magic to revive her fallen ally. As she did this, several runic style etchings on the Nunchaku slowly began to glow, revealing the words 'Strange Vision' running down the length of each mase.

But, before she could finish, she could feel Ultimecia's telepathic grip take a hold of her, practically squeezing the air from her lungs. In a matter of seconds, her entire body went numb; her extremities feeling as if the blood had been completely cut off from them and she began to feel light headed. Then, almost mercifully, with a single motion of her right hand, the sorceress sent her crashing through the antechamber doors, immediately rendering her unconscious upon impact. Unbeknownst to them, staying conscious was vital in being able to remain in this varying state of "present." Consequently, in only a brief few moments after losing consciousness, the young woman helplessly began to fade away into the fabric of time.

"SELPHIE!" Irvine screamed as he helplessly watched his childhood friend disappear without a trace. Weapon in hand, he frantically began to fire off several Armor Piercing Rounds from the Exeter in the sorceress's general direction. When the dust settled, Ultimecia had completely disappeared; seemingly vanishing from the antechamber without a trace.

"Where the fuck did she go? You fucking COWARD!" Irvine screamed as he frantically surveyed the antechamber down the barrel of his rifle for any possible sign of movement. "Show me your face again! Show me your face again and I swear to God I will –"

Before he could even finish his sentence, Irvine was immediately cut off as Ultimecia reappeared right behind him, digging her talon like fingers deep into his back, sending a current of pure energy coursing through his entire body, killing him instantly in the same gruesome fashion in which she had assassinated President Deling not that long ago.

As the sorceress cast Irvine's now sordid and lifeless body aside, she noticed something, or rather someone, rapidly approaching out of the corner of her eye... and she knew who it was from the moment she spotted him.

In that moment, she was unexpectedly overtaken by sudden rush of adrenaline; a panic brought on by a deeply rooted anxiety because of the fact that she knew. She knew that he was the one... the SeeD of legend who was destined not only to oppose her, but the one who was destined to finally bring an end to this war; a war that she has been personally waging over the course of multiple generations.

She knew of this because it has already been foretold that her life was destined to end by his hand.

Edea's eyes and memories served Ultimecia not only as a window into the past, but they incidentally served as a window into the future as well. Through her possession of the former sorceress, Ultimecia has already intimately witnessed her own final moments; her broken and defeated body purging itself of Hyne's legacy as she was forced to bestow her powers unto Edea before her tortured soul could finally be at peace. Standing by Edea's side was the man who was now quickly closing in for the kill.

In that moment, for the first time in as long as she could remember... she knew what it was to be afraid.

Quickly gathering herself, she turned her full attention now towards her approaching assailant, using her telepathic abilities to stop him dead in his tracks as he leapt through the air, Gunblade held high over his head, giving up the element of surprise in an attempt to land a killing stroke. While he was suspended in mid-air, the sorceress looked the young SeeD up and down for a moment as he valiantly struggled to break free from her grip. As she observed him, she began to realize that he was just a boy. A mere mortal… nothing more than flesh and bone like the thousands of others who have tried and have failed miserably in their attempts to oppose her. As she reached this epiphany, her fears quickly began to dissipate; her expression of wide eyed admiration slowly returning to a more familiar one of anger and rage.

"So... this is the legendary Squall Leonhart." she stated condescendingly as her eyes narrowed "Petulant child! You are not the one to bring me down!"

The sorceress then delivered a crushing front straight kick directly into the center of his ribcage, knocking the wind right out of him and separating him from his weapon as both he and the Gunblade tumbled violently to the hard marble floor. He could feel the cold of the marble against his face and bare skin as he writhed around on the floor clutching his ribs, desperately trying to breathe. As he laid there struggling on his back, he managed to catch a glimpse of the sky through the opening at the top of the atrium and he noticed that the clouds are now drawing to a central point, forming an eye directly above them. As he laid there almost completely helpless to do anything about it, he realized that they were quickly running out of time.

As far as he knew, they may already be too late.

The sorceress, feeling that Squall was no longer a threat, now focused her attention on her two remaining adversaries. But, as she turned around to engage them she suddenly came to the realization that there were three… thanks to a hard fist to the face, courtesy of Zell Dincht, followed by a flurry of punches to the midsection. Backpedaling now and on the defensive, she absorbed several more punches and kicks as she was mercilessly assaulted by the suddenly revitalized martial artist. After a brief exchange of parries and dodges between the two combatants, Zell hit home with a solid hook to the ribs, doubling the sorceress over in visible pain. Zell, feeling like he had Ultimecia reeling and on the ropes, followed it up with a knee to the face and then went for the coup de grâce… attempting a vicious roundhouse kick to the head. But, the momentum of that kick involuntarily came to a screeching halt just inches from making contact against Ultimecia's temple; the sorceress telepathically blocking him at the last possible second.

She looked him directly in the eyes for only a moment… but, in that moment he could see; he could almost feel the indescribable hatred and rage that was practically etched into her features… and it was in that moment that Zell knew his life was coming to an end.

With that said, the sorceress once again called upon the power of elemental magic as she placed a single hand upon his extended leg; instantly freezing the martial artist into position in an unnatural burst of ice and snow. As the sorceress walked away, with a simple snap of her fingers, Zell's body collapsed into thousands of tiny fragments as they scattered aimlessly at her feet. In a matter of seconds, the fragments began to disappear, unavoidably being claimed by the hands of time.

"Zell, no!" a familiar voice screamed from just beyond the sorceress's per feral vision. Slightly turning her head in the direction of that familiar voice, her eyes widened in astonishment as she was once again standing face to face with Quistis Trepe, who was not only back on her feet, but appeared to have completely recovered from the sorceress's previous onslaught. Standing by the instructor's side was undoubtedly the one who had brought her back from the brink... they may have never met each other before in the flesh, but the two were more than intimately familiar. Although to Ultimecia, Rinoa Heartilly, the last of Hyne's descendants, much like Edea before her, was nothing more than a mere vessel in her single-minded campaign to achieve Time Compression.

"You should have listened to your father and stayed out of this unworthy descendant."

Ultimecia avowed to Rinoa in a very condescending and antagonistic tone. "Tell me –" she began to ask when she was interrupted by a sudden burst of electricity, emanating from the former SeeD Instructor who had heard enough of the dark sorceresses' pontificating.

But, much to her surprise, Ultimecia easily shrugged off her assault by simply holding her hand out towards the surge, gathering the current of blue magic as it formed into a large sphere of energy in the palm of her hand, and then casting it right back at her with a single, decisive blast. This time however, Quistis managed to escape the sorceresses' wrath, rolling out of the way as the large bolt of energy passed by and harmlessly and dissipated as it struck the outer wall of the antechamber. When Quistis got back to her feet and turned around to face the sorceress, Ultimecia had once again vanished without a trace.

"Where the hell did she go?" Quistis asked Rinoa in complete disbelief as she scanned the antechamber.

"I... I don't know." Rinoa replied. Her eyes darting back and forth in confusion as she tried to recall what she had just witnessed. "She began to glow for a second and then she just... disappeared."

Quistis thought about what Rinoa said for a split second before realizing what had just transpired... also realizing that the sorceress probably hasn't disappeared at all.

"Haste... MOVE!" she emphatically screamed at Rinoa right before she was completely taken off of her feet by their now almost completely indiscernible foe, who was moving so rapidly that all Quistis or Rinoa could see was a streak of colors as the sorceress passed by and landed another blow.

Ultimecia swiftly moved back and forth between her two opponents, easily handling them both at the same time with a flurry of unseen kicks and punches until neither of them could possibly absorb anymore punishment… or even manage to bring themselves back to their feet to continue the fight. The sorceress, believing that enough damage had been done, rematerialized from out of thin air, grabbed Rinoa and picked her up off of the ground by the throat, and then effortlessly lifted Rinoa up over her head.

"Tell me... how does it feel to be responsible for the end of existence? For the death of your friends? Your loved ones? Everyone you've ever cared for?" Ultimecia asked as she looked Rinoa directly in the eyes as she was frantically trying to escape her grasp."It was you, after all that made all of this possible. You were the one that helped me get to Sorceress Adel. You were the one that helped me get to Ellone so that I could reach into the past."

Struggling desperately now to breathe, Rinoa's white wings involuntarily appeared and unfurled behind her; the universal sign of one of Hyne's descendant's. Unfortunately for Rinoa, she had no idea of how to control her new found abilities since she had only been a sorceress for a matter of days. So, there she remained... completely helpless in Ultimecia's grasp.

"Such a pity. All of those powers with neither the will nor the ability to use them. I -" she stated before stopping mid-sentence. Her eyes rolling into the back of her head; her grip on Rinoa's throat loosening slightly, finally allowing her to breathe, if only for a moment. As thankful as Rinoa was for this brief reprieve, she knew that whatever it was that caused Ultimecia to react like that couldn't possibly be good... and she was right.

Time Compression had begun.

"It's starting." Ultimecia stated with a slight smirk of vindication on her face as she gazed into the sky. The wind began to pick up and violently swirl all around them as loose objects and debris from within the antechamber began to fly upwards into the massive void that was now forming directly above them... like the sky itself was suddenly disappearing right before their very eyes. The castle itself started to crumble and collapse all around them; the remnants of rock and stone began to fill the skies before it too disappeared into the vast nothingness that was consuming the entirety of their existence as they knew it.

But, it was evident by the inherent expressions on her face and her agonizing body language that casting a spell of this magnitude was taking a huge toll on Ultimecia. She appeared to be struggling. Her attention was no longer on her opponents, but was now fully focused on maintaining control of Time Compression. She was distracted; leaving her vulnerable... which was exactly the opening that Squall had been looking for.

The perfect opportunity for him to strike.

Without any wasted movement, Squall got up from one knee as he took a hold of the Gunblade that lay beside him by the hilt. Charging forward towards the sorceress he swung in desperation, landing a single decisive stroke; pulling the trigger on the revolver, sending an explosive vibration down the length of the blade as it slid all the way across the span of her back and down the side of her hip.

The sorceress didn't even make sound as the blade swiftly tore through her flesh, but it was evident that the damage had most certainly been done. Because not only did she let go of Rinoa, but the wind that had been whipping so violently all around them only moments ago had suddenly come to an utter and complete stop. The rock and stone that was being pulled into the void directly above them inexplicably froze into position in mid air, defying the laws of gravity and physics as if all of time and space had just suddenly stood still.

Ultimecia reached down and wiped her hand across her hip, completely covering it in the warm, crimson liquid that was now profusely running down the length of her lower body underneath her long, maroon colored dress. She looked down at her hand in complete bewilderment… in utter disbelief… seemingly fixated by the sight of her own blood.

"I... I can't even remember the last time I've seen my own blood." she said to herself in a humbled and almost muted tone. Still not quite believing what it was that she was seeing; desperately searching herself for a memory that she knows is there, but never seems to fully materialize. Like a word or a name that is just on the tip of your tongue, no matter how hard or how far she reaches within herself for any kind of recollection of her past, it always seems to be just beyond her grasp... like the sands of time unavoidably slipping through her fingers no matter how desperately she tries to hold onto it. She could hardly remember anything about herself anymore, or about anything at all for that matter, that isn't grounded in the present. Most of the thoughts and memories that consumed her mind were not even of her own anymore... just random images and the fleeting memories of the countless number of people that she had inhabited in order to accomplish her goal of Time Compression. In her mind, this was the only absolute that she had left.

A sudden bout of light headedness brought on by the severe loss of blood ended Ultimecia's brief moment of introspection and quickly snapped her back to reality, refocusing her attention on her adversaries. The sorceress crossed her arms in front of her as she began to levitate off of the ground. Her blacken wings began to glow as they once again unfurled behind her; carrying her high into the air and out of the reach of her assailants. Then, almost as quickly as it opened, the typically mortal wound on her back began to close... and after a brief few moments, was completely gone. No scars or marks to even speak of whatsoever; it was almost as if it had never happened, aside from the large slash down the back of her dress and the steams of coagulated blood that stuck to her legs and lower body after it seeped from the once open wound.

"I shall summon... the most powerful guardian force... and you... shall... SUFFER!" Ultimecia hissed as she raised her right hand over her head. A bright orb of light began to emanate from her open palm, and she cast it down upon the open floor between herself and the young SeeDs that stood before her. The orb of energy began to compress and expand, spreading across the entire expanse of the open floor. The ground began to shake violently beneath their feet as the energy began to generate depth, creating what appeared to be a giant portal. You could feel the heat against your face as the flames erupted from the breach, and a lion-like creature began to ascend from the opening. It stood upon its hind legs instead of on all fours; towering over everybody as it let out a piercing, and intimidating roar. It had five jagged, crimson horns protruding from its head, purple fur covering its entire body, and a flowing silver mane. Its giant, matching silver feathered wings glistened as they unfurled behind him, carrying him high into the air... side by side with Ultimecia. She looked at the giant beast for only a moment, then turned to the young SeeDs with a sneer "Grevier... make them BLEED!"

"Yes, my master." Grevier responding to her command telepathically as he swooped down towards their adversaries, immediately taking a swing with one of the giant, red claws that extended from each one of his forearms. All three of them managed to escape the initial onslaught unscathed, scattering in all directions as one of his massive arms swung in between them like a giant, bladed pendulum.

As they brought themselves to their feet, Rinoa decided to even the playing field by summoning a GF of her own. "Bahamaut, we need your... AHH!" she let out as she screamed in intense pain, collapsing to the ground while holding her head in both hands as her mind was inexplicably consumed by a high pitched squeal.

"The aeons are of no help to you here, unworthy descendant," Grevier's voice asserted in Rinoa's head as the intense noise subsided, "and now... you will pay with your life for your meddling." the voice stated as the enormous beast turned around and quickly descended upon his intended victim.

"Quistis! NOW!" Squall screamed as he charged forward, attempting to cut Grevier off before he could close in on Rinoa. He didn't know for sure if the spell would, or even could work in this time compressed world since he didn't know what effect Time Compression would have on time based para-magic. But, he felt like he had to try something… anything… and this seemed to be the only option he had in order to save Rinoa from her fate. Quistis innately understood and obliged, casting a Haste Spell on her SeeD Commander and former childhood friend, the same way she had many times before during their group training sessions back at Balamb Garden. But, this was definitely not Balamb Garden, and they most certainly were no longer in the Training Center.

She just hoped for Rinoa's sake that she was successful… and she was.

Squall knew that Quistis was successful from the moment the spell took a hold of him. The world around him, or at least as he perceived it, came to a jarring, screeching halt. In all actuality, it was him who had sped up to an incredible velocity, in the same way that Ultimecia had done earlier when she had attacked Quistis and Rinoa in an almost un-seeable blur. The scene in front of him was surreal; almost beautiful in a sense. Grevier, although in reality was moving at full speed, was suspended in mid-air amidst all of the free floating rock and debris... poised downward towards Rinoa and ready to strike. Squall leapt into the air, using a free floating piece of the antechamber wall as a spring board to get atop of the mighty aeon. He came at the guardian force with everything he had, landing a flurry of strikes that the trainers back at Balamb Garden referred to as 'Renzokuken.' After landing at least a half a dozen lightning quick strokes, he propelled himself off of Grevier. Landing between the beast and Rinoa, he charged forward, hitting him with a move in which he had personally nicknamed 'The Rough Divide,' performing a 360 degree back flip as he struck his opponent with the revolver. The sheer velocity of the blow, with the combination of his aeon enhanced strength and increased speed, let out a giant, delayed thunder clap a few moments after the blade had already pierced through Grevier's flesh.

Grevier suddenly, at least suddenly to everyone but Squall, let out a high pitched moan; a scream of immense pain as he came crashing back down to earth, his momentum carrying him as he slid along what was left of the antechamber floor, stopping only a few feet away from where Squall and Rinoa were now standing.

Squall, completely exhausted from the sheer amount of energy he expended in order to pull off such a maneuver, felt his legs suddenly give out as he dropped to one knee.

"Squall! Are you ok?" Rinoa asked as she instinctively braced him from completely collapsing to the ground. With what little energy he had left, Squall simply nodded to indicate that he was going to be alright. His breathing was heavy and ragged, like he had just got done running an entire marathon in a matter of seconds. But, despite his exhaustion, there was no time for him to recuperate since the aeon had recovered quickly, bringing himself back to his feet.

"Most impressive… for a human." Grevier empathically stated to Squall as his massive, silver wings once again carried him high into the air.

"Allow me to show you this aeon's true power! "Ultimecia emphatically screamed. The aeon obliged, and with a waive of his massive arms, the three remaining combatants were suddenly enveloped into three separate spheres of radiant energy, carrying them high above the clouds and then combining together as it took them into the void.

As they were floating side by side, another energy sphere materialized directly in front of them. It began to spin in place, and as it spun, a white light that emanated from it began to increase in intensity.

"This is not good…" Quistis pointed out emphatically as the sphere of energy began to spin faster and faster... the light obviously building up to a lethal, if not fatal crescendo. "This is not good at all! Any ideas?" she asked as she turned to Squall with an uncharacteristic tone of desperation.

"How the hell should I know? I don't even know what the hell going on!" Squall sharply replied since he too was deeply concerned and focused on what to do about the large sphere. He racked his mind for the solution to a problem he didn't even have to slightest clue about. "If we all focus our energies together, maybe we can protect ourselves from the blast." He guessed with a hint of reservation in his voice.

"Sounds like a plan to me… Rinoa?" Quistis asked as she turned to the younger, raven haired sorceress for an answer. She noticed that Rinoa almost seemed transfixed; distracted by something. Her head slightly tilted downward; it was almost as if she was listening for something… or to something.

After a brief few moments, she snapped out of whatever trance she was seemingly in; bringing her head up as she turned towards Squall and Quistis with her reply. "No. It won't work. The powers granted to us by the guardian forces will not be enough." she stated to them matter-of-factly, much to Squall and Quistis's surprise as they gazed upon her with a certain degree of perplex ion since they had never heard Rinoa speak with this kind of tone or conviction.

With that said, Rinoa's wings once again extended behind her as she raised both of her arms over her head, the pupils of her eyes disappearing behind a light of pure and uninhibited power. Suddenly, a large sphere of energy enveloped them… covering them in a bluish hue of radiant, protective energy.

"Squall… I'm sorry." she stated as she turned to him with tears in her eyes, which were now slowly rolling off of her cheeks and down the sides of her face; although, the look on her face was not one that conveyed a sense of sadness, but one that conveyed a sense of pure grit and determination. That look on her face told Squall everything he needed to know without even saying a word. She was going to attempt to use her powers in order to save them; possibly sacrificing herself in the process.

"Rinoa, NO!" Squall screamed just as the white sphere of energy reached its climax and erupted in a nearly deafening explosion. It cascaded all round them as Rinoa used all of her strength, and what must have been sheer power of will to keep them protected as the shockwave of destructive energy swirled and pulsed all around them; relentlessly trying to break through her defenses. After a brief few moments, moments to Rinoa that almost seemed like an eternity, the surge had passed… and thanks to her, they were all still alive. But, she knew that they most certainly were not out of the woods yet.

Rinoa was getting weaker and lighter headed by the second as she was desperately fighting to maintain control of her powers. At this point, she knew that it was the only thing that was keeping all three of them from crashing back down to the antechamber floor; which undoubtedly would mean certain death if they were to fall from that kind of distance.

Even with the increased strength and durability afforded to them by the guardian forces.

So, Rinoa astutely surveyed the area for a safe place where they could land since she didn't believe that she had enough left in herself to carry them all the way back down to the surface. Almost immediately, she spotted a large piece of the island stronghold hovering idly by just a few hundred feet away; just slightly adjacent to their current position. So, with what last bit of strength she had left, Rinoa carried the three of them onward towards the safe haven below. But then, just as they were about to land, Rinoa could hold on no more, involuntarily letting go of the spell and immediately collapsing in a heap.

Unconscious… before she could even hit the ground.

After falling the remaining distance to the isle surface, Squall immediately got back to his feet; uncharacteristically running to Rinoa's side in an almost manic and barely controlled frenzy. It was a cruel and slightly bitter twist of irony, the fact that Rinoa Heartilly… someone who, not all that long ago, Squall could hardly even stand to be around was now the one person in his life that he needed the most. At first, her often immature and somewhat petulant behavior forced him away; despite the apparent chemistry that existed between them on that fateful night when their eyes first met across the crowded dance floor. On that night, looking into her eyes… wrapped within her embrace… he felt a peace and tranquility that he had never known before. But, by the end of their first mission together in Timber, it was seemingly not to be. As time passed though, he eventually began to look beyond the surface and realized that she was so much more. In all actuality, Rinoa was everything that Squall wished that he could be… but, knew deep within in his heart that he never could. Free spirited… outgoing… idealistic… passionate. She was so strong, yet at the same time she seemed so fragile. Docile, yet at the same time she was so headstrong. She was an amalgamation of intricately beautiful contradictions… she was flawed, yet at the same time… she was perfect.

After they were thrust side by side into battle and together defeated Sorceress Edea, and the ending result was Rinoa slipping into a coma due to her internal struggle for control with Sorceress Ultimecia as she attempted to use Rinoa as her new surrogate, Squall finally had to come face to face with the stark reality that he did not hate Rinoa for everything that she represented… he envied her. He loved her. As she laid there in the Infirmary completely motionless, almost lifeless, if it wasn't for the fact that she was still breathing… even with the fate of existence hanging in the balance, all Squall could even think about was how much he missed her voice… her laughter… her smile; oh, how much he missed her smile. All he wanted was for Rinoa to be able to give him a second chance.

He fought so valiantly to get her back… back from Ultimecia's possession… back from the depths of outer space… back from Esthar and the Sorceress Memorial. She has meant so much to him, and he had gone through so much to get her back over the course of the past few months that he couldn't possibly fathom the idea losing her again.

He quickly dropped to both knees and propped Rinoa's head upon his lap as he desperately tried to revive her. "Common Rinoa, wake up! Wake up Rinoa!" he said as he shook her gently in a feeble attempt to bring her back to consciousness. As the panic began to set in, all of the feelings… all of the emotions… all of the inner turmoil that Squall had suppressed so deep within himself over course of the last thirteen years began to rise to the surface.

"Please… please Rinoa don't leave me all alone again. I… I can't… I can't do this alone anymore." He begged as he now began to lightly tap one of her mascara stained cheeks; his voice strained from trying to choke back the tears that were now uncontrollably streaming down the sides of his face as well.

"Rinoa." was the only thing that Quistis could manage to get out since she too was now choking back the tears as she looked upon them helplessly. Helpless to save Rinoa from her fate… helpless to relieve the pain she knew that Squall was going through… and just as Rinoa's name managed to escape her lips, she slowly began to fade from existence. Squall clutched Rinoa tightly in his arms, almost as if he was trying to physically prevent her from disappearing into the hands of time. But in the end, all of his efforts proved to be in vain because in a matter of seconds he was holding onto nothing… and she was gone.

"NO!" Squall bellowed into the heavens as Quistis reached out and embraced him in her arms. The accumulation of a lifetime of pent up emotions and frustration, all coming out at once in a single outburst that seemingly echoed across an eternity; a bellow that caught the attention of their adversaries below, who at this point had all but left them for dead.

"Grevier! They are still alive? FINISH THEM!" Ultimecia screamed aloud as Grevier accented into the void to finish the job that he started.

"Squall! " Quistis stated as she could hear the sound of Grevier's enormous wings flapping just below them. "We've got company!"

As Grevier reappeared in front of them, Squall quickly attempted to gather himself, once again trying desperately to bottle up his emotions as he had trained himself to do so well over the course of the last thirteen years, and got back to his feet. As he looked upon the guardian force with utter distain, his gaze began to narrow… his teeth began to clinch. You could hear the leather of his gloves begin to crease as his grip on the hilt of the gunblade began to tighten… his unsettled grief quickly turning into a barely controlled rage. He charged forward as he let out a primal, almost incoherent scream. He leapt through the air, poised to strike directly into the heart of the colossal beast, only to be sent back by one of Grevier's giant, clawed hands.

"It is apparent that the sorceress sacrificed herself so that the two of you could live… a futile effort. Her death will be in vein because this crusade is now at its end, young SeeDs!" Grevier declared telepathically as he easily thwarted Squall's uncalculated and impulsive effort, sending him tumbling past Quistis on the surface below.

Grevier once again crossed his massive arms together, and Quistis noticed that his wings began to glow in the same fashion as they had before, something that happened so quickly in the heat of the moment that she did not pick up on it the first time. Only this time, she realized that he was attempting to once again envelop them within the same Shockwave Pulsar that had nearly killed them only a few moments ago. Not only did she see it coming, but she could sense it. With her ability to use and control blue magic that emanates from other living beings, she could feel the energy welling up within the mighty aeon. She knew that if she could sense it, she could also harvest it and use it against him. She looked deep within the guardian force for the source of this energy, and once she found it, she drew upon that energy and cast it back upon him. The guardian force, who had no idea of what was happening, abruptly stopped what he was doing when he finally realized that the giant sphere of energy was not encircling Quistis, but was now beginning to surround him instead.

"What? No! That is impossible!" Griever proclaimed as the sphere carried him even further into to void above. Once again, a second sphere of energy formed, the white light that emanated from it increased in intensity as it began to spin in place… and as Griever helplessly gazed upon the resonance when it reached its climax, he knew that it was too late.

"NO!" the aeon silently screamed as the sphere erupted; engulfing him in a wave of destructive energy that, within a matter of seconds, completely decimated his physical being… sending the trillions of microscopic pieces that remained scattering in almost infinite directions. Once the wave had finally passed, there was nothing left of him but a sentient haze, which was now floating there in front of Squall and Quistis in the form of a pupilless, eye-like sphere. As it began to slowly rotate in place, Ultimecia appeared from below the horizon, her blackened wings carrying her just above the little that remained of her former protector.

"Arrogant fools! I shall not be defeated so easily! Watch, as I shall junction myself unto Griever!" the sorceress declared as her physical form began to dissipate, being replaced by what could only be described as an incredibly bright light… one that was so bright that it looked like a tiny star that had been pulled straight out of the heavens. This ethereal manifestation of Ultimecia slowly began to lower itself towards Griever; his essence reacting violently as it drew closer and closer, and then with a brilliant flash the two entities had successfully merged together into one.

This new creature that emerged had the same face as Griever, but now had a much larger, and far more menacing physical appearance. His eyes, which previously had more of a resemblance to human eyes, were now pupilless… soulless… completely lifeless. Instead of his previously more anthropomorphic appearance, Griever now had the physical characteristics of an arthropod; his mid and lower body was now divided into segments, his legs now replaced by several clawed appendages that were extending from his lower abdomen. His massive, clawed hands were now postured in front of him like the pincers of a giant crab. In the middle of his chest was a carapace… a protective shell… and protruding from behind this protective shell was Ultimecia herself, who was now junctioned unto Grevier… merged together in the same fashion that Sorceress Adel had junctioned Rinoa unto herself when they confronted her in the Lunatic Pandora. She was using her own life force, her very essence to practically will Griever back into physical existence.

The two merged beings wasted no time and sprung into action, taking a giant clawed swipe at the two SeeDs who remained. Quistis successfully rolled out of the way, and Squall, who was still reeling from being struck down by Griever earlier in the fight, just barely managed to side step his massive hand, although one his talon like fingers took a large chunk of hide out of one of the arms on his leather bomber jacket as it passed by.

Squall quickly tried to mount a counter attack, taking an overhead swing of the Gunblade directly at Ultimecia, landing a solid strike across the mid-section of the beast. The blow had little to no effect though; the carapace protecting her, as well as Griever, from any real physical damage.

Grevier, in retaliation, took another backhanded swipe at Squall, who anticipated this counter offensive, back flipping over the top of his arm as it made another pass.

Ultimecia, who was growing more and more impatient with every passing second, began to resort to dark magic, attempting and successfully casting a Pain spell on Squall; the instant sense of vertigo and the sudden loss of hearing and vision brought on by the spell's effects brought Squall to one knee as he tried to regain his bearings. Using the Gunblade as a crutch, he attempted to bring himself back to his feet, but the dizziness and the sudden urge to wretch was too much, so he slumped forward; once again falling to one knee.

Quistis immediately came rushing to his aide, casting a curative spell called Ensuna in an attempt to counter act the crippling status effects of Pain. Upon the completion of the spell casting, they once again had to quickly get out of the way as one of Griever's balled up fists came crashing down between them… causing both of them to lose their balance as the entire isle shook violently from the sheer impact of his massive hand.

As they once again scrambled to get to their feet, Ultimecia waived her hands and a large helix began to take shape… forming directly above Quistis. The helix began to resonate, and in a sudden flash it discharged two pulses of energy directly at her. With a back flip, she managed to escape the initial blast. But, the second one landed flush against the small of her back as she was balanced on her hands; the added momentum causing her to lose her balance and tumble violently to the ground. In the same motion, she gracefully managed to scramble back to her feet and face her opponent just in time to notice that a second helix was beginning to form… this time directly above Squall's current position.

"Move!" Quistis screamed aloud as the second helix fired off two more sharp pulses of energy, this time directly at Squall.

At this point, Squall was growing weary; frustrated by constantly being on the run… constantly on the move… constantly on the defensive.

He decided that enough was enough and he was going to stand his ground… here and now.

Instead of retreating from the energy pulses, Squall charged directly at them. Using the para-magic bestowed upon him by the power of the aeons, he managed to reflect the energy pulses harmlessly away as he continued to charge forward through Griever's defenses.

Squall saw this as his one chance… possibly his one and only opportunity to bring the beast to its knees. Closing in upon the guardian force, he instinctively looked for an opening… somehow, or somewhere rather, that he could strike the aeon that could prove to be fatal to the GF and possibly end this conflict once and for all… and he believed that he had found what he was looking for.

Just below the carapace where Ultimecia safely resided, there was an opening… an exposed and potential soft spot just between the thorax and the lower abdomen. Once he within striking distance, Squall swung the polished steel of his Gunblade as fast and as hard as he possibly could… knowing that if his plan didn't work that this is probably the end of the line… not only for himself, not only for Quistis… but for the entirety of existence as he knew it.

Luckily for the rest of us… he was right.

The sharp metal pierced through the soft cartilage with a loud cracking sound, much like the sound that a lobster shell makes as you break it apart to get to the supple flesh beneath, quickly followed by an almost deafening shriek as Griever recoiled in immense pain. Squall had not only pierced through the skin, but had completely cut through the torso of the great beast… severing the aeon's lower abdomen from the rest of his body; his legs and tail falling away from him and landing thousands of feet below on the antechamber floor with an inaudible thud.

Ultimecia was now being pulled so intensely in different directions… desperately trying to hold Time Compression together, while at the same time desperately trying to hold together what was left of Griever's shattered husk of a body, that she could no longer focus on her adversaries. The two helixes above them suddenly flashed out of existence; the sorceress once again leaving herself vulnerable as Griever despondently writhed around in pain.

Squall again charged forward, gripping the Gunblade upside down in both hands by the hilt, he swung the revolver with a decisively downward, and almost clubbing like thrust, burying the blade between the aeon's soulless eyes, running it through the beast all the way to the chamber just below the hilt, accompanied by the unsettling sounds of ripping flesh and the cracking of bone.

Almost immediately, a beam of light began to seep from the open wound, and shortly thereafter Griever literally began to come apart at the seams… exploding in a brilliant display of sound and light that soon began to emanate in every direction. He let out one final cry as he began to reach a crescendo, and then finally exploded into non-existence with an almost blinding flash of white light that reverberated across the entirety of what little was left of this world. When it was over, there was nothing left of Griever but tiny remnants as they streaked across the sky like a thousand shooting stars. Then, there was nothing but the Gunblade laying there on the ground, and a complete and almost haunting silence.

No sound… no movement… nothing.

"Is it over?" Quistis asked aloud as she surveyed the vast nothingness that surrounded them.

Squall, picking up the Gunblade off of the ground, twirled it in the air and resheathed it in the tanned leather scabbard that slung across his hip. "Dunno." He stated rather nonchalantly as he simply turned to Quistis with a shrug of a single shoulder. He too began to look around and evaluate their surroundings. "Is it truly over? How the hell are we gonna get down from here? Could Rinoa still alive? She has to be… " he began to think to himself; all too familiarly retreating within himself as he has been known to do over the years.

"Squall…" Quistis said as she turned to Squall, recognizing by his all too familiar facial expression and guarded body language that he wasn't paying attention since he didn't reply or even look in her direction. "SQUALL!"

"What?" he asked her somewhat defensively; slightly startled from being prematurely pulled away from his thoughts.

"Do you hear that?" she asked him with a slight look of concern on her face.

He paused for a second to listen for whatever it was that Quistis was hearing, but failed to hear anything out of the ordinary… or anything at all for that matter. "Hear what?"

"That humming noise! Don't you hear that?" she questioned him again, asking him more emphatically this time.

Squall stopped a second time to listen for the noise that Quistis believed she was hearing, and much to his surprise, he could now hear it too. It was slight; barely even noticeable if you weren't looking for it, but there was definitely a very faint and low pitched humming sound that was piercing through the silence of the complete nothingness that surrounded them.

"I hear it too. What the hell is that?" he asked aloud as the noise was slowly beginning to pick up in intensity. Tiny rocks and debris that lay strewn across the surface began to shake violently as the noise was beginning to reverberate so loud that it was creating an almost seismic tremor across the entire expanse of the isle.

"I think we may soon find out… look!" Quistis said as she pointed out towards the edge of the isle surface, where several beams of light were just beginning to stretch across the sky from just below the horizon… and after a few moments… they got their answer.

It was Ultimecia.

The answer slowly revealed itself to them as she appeared from below the horizon; however her physical appearance was now completely different. She now seemed almost ethereal… otherworldly. Yet, at the same time, her exaggerated features were unmistakable… undeniable.

She had become a physical manifestation of all her deepest, darkest emotions… an expression of her most selfish desires. Now almost as large as an aeon, she looked down upon the two SeeDs who remain with a face that was now completely hollow and expressionless… consisting of nothing but a celestial light that was completely devoid of all human characteristics or emotions, as spoke the words that would haunt them until their dying days…

"I am Ultimecia. Time Shall Compress. All existence denied."

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