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Chapter 3 - Vol 1: An Uncertain Alibi

Within the halls of Dissidia Academy, life as a student is an adventure! Follow the Heroes of Final Fantasy as they fulfill the variety of challenges that lie before them, setting the path towards their future! However, underneath the depths of this highly established Academy ... lies a darkness that may throw the entire world into chaos.
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Chapter 3 - Vol 1: An Uncertain Alibi

Chapter 3 - Vol 1: An Uncertain Alibi
"Have I interrupted something?" Garland questioned curiously, stepping into the Headmistress' office in a formal manner.
Warrior of Light continued to glare at Garland as he approached the desk, stricken with horror. The man he had despised for so long had entered the room so casually, as if he was flaunting his innocence on purpose.
It was sickening.
“Not at all, Sir Garland.” Headmistress Cosmos shook her head in response, acting oblivious to Warrior of Light’s growing anguish.
The man known as Garland was shown to be a tall and buffed, easily towering over anyone who stood before him. He wore a dark black suit in a similar form to all the staff members within the Academy, nothing one would consider out of the ordinary. With his formal sense of attire and overall respectful manner, he certainly had the aura of a Dissidia Teacher.
However, there was on aspect to him that stood out amongst the rest: his rather unique helmet.
Wherever he was seen, he always wore a fully-facial, metal-plated helmet consisting of two large horns and an eerily tense expression. No one knew of its origin or its purpose, many tending to speculate that it was a ‘fashion-statement’ of some capacity or a ‘cult’ symbol.
Warrior of Light preferred not to know.
As he stood in front of the Headmistress, Garland handed over what seemed to be a sturdy-looking binder. It was filled to the brim with several paper sheets detailing various information on various subjects of importance.
The binder's cover was titled: 'DISSIDIA ACADEMY: 1st Semester Itinerary'.
"I believe this is what you had called me over for, Headmistress?" Garland curiously wondered, allowing Cosmos to take the binder from his possession.
"Yes, this is perfect." Cosmos cheerfully nodded in answer, placing the folder neatly on top of her desk.
Numerous questions shot across Warrior of Light's mind, sending him in a downward spiral of despair:
Why is Garland here?
Why is he being so well-mannered and casual to Headmistress Cosmos?
Why is Headmistress Cosmos acting so calmly?
Why is he suited up like the staff members of the Academy?
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON!?
The Headmistress then unexpectedly switched to Warrior of Light, causing him to jump out of his skin in retaliation.
"Is there anything else you need, Warrior of Light?" Cosmos asked in her calm tone, "If you don't head off to your first lesson soon, you'll end up being late. The last thing I would want is for the Academy’s Student Council President to lose his reputation … especially at the start of the 1st Semester."
Warrior of Light was left completely speechless.
He tried to speak out and ask so many questions that rushed through his mind, and yet none of them emerged from his mouth. Instead, Warrior of Light's mouth just hung open as if to dry. Faint, stuttering grunts could be heard in an attempt to object. In the end, however, he gave up, lowering his head in frustration.
"No…” He murmured in defeat, shaking his head. “There's nothing else, Headmistress Cosmos."
"Then, if you wouldn’t mind, I have a lot of work that needs my attention." Cosmos peacefully concluded with a nod, switching back towards her desk. "Sir Garland, would you be so kind as to escort Warrior of Light to his lesson?"
"Certainly, Headmistress." Garland accepted without delay.
Without saying another word, Warrior of Light followed Garland out of the room. Out of courtesy, Garland held the door open for him as he passed. However, Warrior of Light refused to thank or even look up at Garland in response.
Instead, Warrior of Light took one last glace towards the Headmistress, his expression filled with concern. He was just able to capture a glance of Cosmos raising her head – a small but somewhat sad smile appearing on her face as she met eyes with him – before the door finally closed between them.
Garland lead him down the staircase towards the 5th Floor of the Academy, the two not speaking a word to one another. Right now, Warrior of Light's mind was in chaos as the numerous questions and uncertainties continued to consume his thoughts. It did not help with the fact that Garland was escorting him to his first lesson.
He was struggling to hold back his fury, knowing that he could burs at any moment.
Eventually, the two reached the 5th Floor – their destination being the main Art Room of the Academy.
As the two passed the row of windows leading into the various classrooms, Warrior of Light briefly observed the students that were sitting in their seats: most eyes focused on the introduction of the subject at hand, whilst others were either whispering to their nearby friends or gradually entering their daydreams.
Outside the classrooms, the halls were as vacant as it could ever be, with only the duo’s echoing footsteps breaking the silence.
"I always find that the Academy has the best atmosphere when it's quiet." Garland suddenly expressed, choosing to break the silence on his own accord. “It’s rather peaceful, wouldn’t you say?”
Warrior of Light abruptly halted, his expression low as it hid behind his long, platinum silver hair. Garland noticed him stop in his tracks, and swivelled round to face him in curiosity.
“Is there a problem?” He asked politely, completely oblivious to the situation.
Either side of him, Warrior of Light's hands drew into fists. They were shaking, as though desperately holding back the fury that was about to break through. Until now, he decided to brush away Garland’s involvement with the Academy, believing it was an oversight by the Headmistress. However, his overall presence and attitude continued to dig deep into his consciousness, purposely irritating him to the point of desiring to lash out in protest.
Furthermore, Garland's innocent comment was far too out of character for someone of his background.
Warrior of Light needed answers.
"Why…?" Warrior of Light murmured in a low, menacing tone, his head emerging to face Garland. “Why are you here, Garland?”
At first, Garland was silent, reading Warrior of Light’s repulsed expression before approaching the question.
"Hmm … well, if you must know: the generous Headmistress Cosmos approached me with a job offer." Garland admitted in honesty, his tone of voice formal yet proud. " Her proposal was for me to take up the role of the Academy’s English Teacher. So, long story short, I accepted the offer in a heartbeat and now … here I am."
“Tsk…!”
This constant positive and upbeat tone coming from Garland continued to infuriate Warrior of Light, setting his emotions further on edge as he let out a tut in disgust. He stepped closer to the man before him, examining him carefully as he hoped to find any sign of contradiction.
With Garland’s demonic helmet in the way, this was rather difficult.
"Is there any need for the staring?" Garland calmly pondered, becoming rather conscious of Warrior of Light’s judging gaze.
"You have ruined so many people's lives ... You purposefully caused unemployment, bankruptcy, and even homelessness! You've created so much chaos around the world for your own personal gain, and here you stand acting all innocent and respectful!" Warrior of Light finally lashed out in disgust, pointing the guilty finger without any remorse. “What makes you believe you could start acting all ‘friendly’ after everything you did!?”
He kept the volume of his voice as quiet as possible, bearing in mind about the lessons happening close beside them.
“Listen ... I’m-!”
“I have AMNESIA because of what you did!” Warrior of Light then bellowed, letting his emotions take control over him. “As my home burned to the ground, you laughed ... as I was left stranded in the streets, you laughed ... as I was neglected from the world, you laughed!”
Garland stood in silence.
"Right now, you should be locked up in the Dungeon Cells ... along with the rest of this planet's scum!"
Garland watched in silence as Warrior of Light's eyes continued to burn like a raging inferno. In comparison, Garland's eyes were blank, empty and unreadable.
And then, Warrior of Light noticed the man shaking his head in a subtle manner, lowering his glare for some odd reason.
"The Dungeon Cells ... is a place no living being would want to be locked up in." Garland eventually expressed, confessing in truth. "I was trapped in that horrific place for 5 years, tortured and broken apart. As I wasted away, I gave myself time to reflect on my faults and sins, including that fateful night. I knew that I did wrong, that I was beyond forgiveness. But alas, I chose to accept my punishment.
“My desire now is to become a changed being, to wipe the slate completely clean. I have tried and failed so many times, it was only because Headmistress Cosmos the option I longed for that I’m standing here today. She gave me the chance to enter society once again as a respectable civilian and even offered me a job within this Academy. For that, I am forever grateful to her kindness."
Hearing him out, Warrior of Light took a moment to gather in all this information, uncertainty and scepticism preventing him to take the excuses into consideration. The idea of Garland becoming a changed man – even becoming an English Teacher within Dissidia Academy – just did not sit well with him whatsoever.
This whole situation was completely absurd.
"I can’t trust you." Warrior of Light responded in caution, crossing his arms. “This is just wrong on so many levels.”
"Well, whatever you may think about me, we’ll have to settle these differences overtime. However, right now, we both have places to go and tasks to complete." Garland concluded with the shrug of his shoulders, realising that time was upon them. "I trust that you can reach your first lesson without my assistance?"
Warrior of Light let out a small nod.
"Then, I shall take my leave." He humbly accepted, stepping forward and passing the idle Warrior of Light. "I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again soon, whether that is in lesson … or by other means."
As Garland left, Warrior of Light was left on his own in the middle of the 5th Floor corridor, waiting until the man disappeared completely.
Feeling as though his mind had taken a fatal beating from the event that just transpired, he shook his head vigorously. It was all too much to comprehend at once, causing him to question whether life itself was messing with him for the simple amusement.
And yet, all he could do was brush it aside, as though he had to accept the turn of events regardless of his opinion on the matter.
Letting out a deep, bitter sigh, Warrior of Light thought no more of it and headed towards the Art Room.
 
A Moment Later…
Warrior of Light finally reached the door to his lesson, approaching the plaque that was drilled into the door, reading: Art Studio 1.
He straightened himself up appropriately, checking his uniform and bag so that everything was up-to-standard. In all honesty, he was just delaying the inevitability of facing the scrutiny and subsequent backlash for his late arrival. As Student Council President – along with being Class 13A’s President, it would be deemed hypocritical if he were to escape the consequences as he would endorse the same unto others if they were in his shoes.
Taking in a deep, calmed breath, he knocked on the door and finally headed inside.
As he entered, Warrior of Light noticed his fellow classmates of class 13A sitting in their assigned seats. All eyes were set on him, causing him to grow intimidated by their judging gaze. However, he tried his best to brush off the feeling as he stepped inside.
"Apologies for the lateness, Sir." He began his apology, keeping up his formal manner. "I had to … huh?"
As Warrior of Light examined the Art Studio fully, he noticed that the teacher was nowhere to be found.
The Art Studio itself was large and spacious, allowing students to move around with ease to utilize the variety of materials and apparatus for their projects. Its walls were filled with various images and works from both famous artists and notable students of the Academy, displaying the different types of movements and techniques commonly seen in the world of Art.
An understandable difference with this room from others in the Academy was the desks – or, more appropriately referred to as 'workspace'. They were considerably larger than the usual classroom desks, allowing more room for students to development their projects on.
In addition, at the front of the Art Studio was a large, towering white board. It displayed insightful facts and information on the famous Artists and Artwork known around the world, along with Art as a subject of creativity and its importance in society.
After a brief overview of the room, Warrior of Light switched back to his classmates, many of whom were continuing to stare at him with gawking and generally surprised expressions. It was as though they were watching something extraordinary unfold before their eyes, awaiting the pay-off.
Warrior of Light gazed back in caution, wondering what had possessed them to act so static and robotic. However, he ultimately decided to ignore, instead continuing to question whereabouts of the ‘missing’ teacher.
He chose to ask his classmates, "Do you guys know where the teacher-?"
“Ooh-hoh-hoh-hoh-hoh…!”
Warrior of Light abruptly froze, an eerie shiver slowly crawling up his spine.
"So … the 'Council President' decides to show up after all!" The haunting, over-the-top voice taunted above, "And here I was beginning to believe that the Academy elected a lazy-@$$. Skiving. FAILURE for a President! Hehehehe-hee … It seems I may have to reconsider that though … ever-so slightly."
Warrior of Light gaze rapidly switched from one direction to the other as he attempted to find the owner of the mysterious voice. And yet, it was to no avail, for only his classmates were in his line of sight.
The students just continued to glare towards him speechlessly – or, to be exact, 'above him'.
"Where are you…?" Warrior of Light breathed firmly, refusing to give into the looming taunts. “Reveal yourself!”
"HERE I AM!" The manic voice roared in instant response.
During that very second, an upside-down, clown-like face appeared from above, causing Warrior of Light to literally jump up in fright. The unexpected startle sent him falling back uncontrollably due to loss of balance, showing no chance of recovering before-
BANG!
…smacking his head hard against the door behind him.
Warrior of Light slumped to the floor, his head woozy and consciousness faint. Through the aching head and the blurred visuals, he could just about hear the booming, overexcited laugher directly in front of him.
"WHOA-hohohoho-ho…! That was just PERFECT!" The voice roared out excitedly in his manic tone of voice, his laughing growing louder and more insane by the second. "Ho-ho-hoo … Welp, that’s my highlight of the year out of the way, and we're only on the FIRST DAY! I’m DYING of laughter here!"
Gradually, Warrior of Light began to sit himself up, his head throbbing extensively as he winced in pain. As his sights returned, he immediately caught sight of the culprit of his torment. From what he could gather, the man before him was clutching his abdomen as he tried to breathe through the hysterics, showing no remorse for his trickery on the poor student.
However, even with everything else that had happened to him throughout the day, Warrior of Light was completely caught off-guard by this current occurrence: the man was levitating in mid-air!
Acting as though he was lying on his back, the man continued to Bob up and down in the air like it was nothing to him. He was wearing the usual formal suit as seen worn by the other staff of the Academy – as one would expect at this point. And yet, he easily stood out from the rest with his eccentric body language and his face and skin.
In terms of his overall appearance, the man had purposely fashioned himself in a style that would resemble a harlequin or insane jester: His skin was as white as a ghost; his purple lips was twisted in a constant smile; and his light brown hair was secured back with a bunch of large, sky blue feathers and trinkets.
"Erm … y-you must be Mr Palazzo?" Warrior of Light dazedly guessed with a murmured stutter, struggling to regain his footing.
"Mr Palazzo? Ha! I'm not too fond of being addressed by such a name." The man spat with distaste, even though he continued his hysteric laughter regardless, "A pathetic insect like you may call me MASTER Palazzo, seeing as I RULE in these lessons! Hohoho-hoo…! Or, if you so desire, Kefka will do jus fine.”
“I … I see.” Warrior of Light nodded cautiously, straightening back into his usual formal posture to swiftly hide his embarrassment.
Wishing to escape the deranged lunatic he called a ‘teacher’, Warrior of Light directed his attention to his allocated seat, passing Kefka in the process. Kefka's eyes followed the student like daggers, ready to strike if deemed necessary.
Once Warrior of Light perched himself on his seat, Kefka casually flew over to the front of the classroom as if he was swimming, small chuckles escaping his every breath.
"Now then, let us … begin!" Kefka announced in a grandiose tone.
His tone of voice switched from lightly humorous to horrifying within the same sentence, his very words sending members of the Class on edge.
As Kefka began to make his long – and somewhat psychotic – speech, Warrior of Light eyes averted and searched the room. It did not take long for him to realise Cloud Strife was still missing from the group, meaning he was still in an unconscious state in the Medical Room. This was to be expected, seeing as it was not long ago since both Warrior of Light and Firion had transferred him over.
However, something else caught his sight: Terra Branford. Terra – who was sitting across the room from Warrior of Light – seemed particularly fidgety, showing signs of severe anxiousness as she observed Kefka’s erratic ranting. Warrior of light took intrigue in his behaviour, wondering how she was going to handle the next hour.
"…Now then, with the subject of Art: Artists are able to express their own desires and emotions through their own creativity and styles. The ideas of Impressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism are just a few examples that demonstrates the infinite possibilities of Art as a subject." Kefka continued to lecture, chuckling away feverishly as he expressed his passion to the Class. "But, personally, I don't fancy the 'peaceful' and 'drastically dull' artwork of early generations. No … I enjoy the EXPLOSIONS, the FLARE, and the INSANITY of recent generations! Hya-ha-ha-haa…!!! Ooh, you can just feel the CHAOS burning within the brushstrokes! It just makes you feel … wait for it … ALIVE!!!"
“Eek!”
A small squeak was heard from Terra, taken aback by Kefka's sudden outbursts.
“Stop your squirming!” Kefka immediately barked, disgusted by her ‘uncalled for’ disruption. “A pathetic child such as yourself has no right interrupting my declaration!”
Warrior of Light could read Terra like a book. He began to assume the possibility of some history between her and Kefka, based upon her reaction. She seemed particularly traumatized by the teacher, acting as if she could faint as any moment.
Please don’t faint … surely one passed out classmate is more than enough for today?
On the one hand, he prayed for this lesson to run smoothly without another ‘Cloud Strife’ situation. On the other hand, he began to feel sorry for the girl, empathizing with her on the torment she had to endure. For now, he preferred not to pursue out of general respect for his classmate.
He switched his sights back to the front of the classroom, continuing to listen to the madman for a teacher as he ranted on and on about the love for chaos and destruction.
The next hour was beyond unbearable.
 
Lunch Break, 12:30pm…
Lunch Break finally commenced across the Academy, the bell ringing out in a loud echo throughout the Buildings and Grounds of the Academy in loud, enthusiastic chimes.
A hoard of students rushed from their classrooms towards the direction of the Dining Hall, grasping their food money and tickets ready as they awaited to chow down on the cafeteria's exquisite dishes.
With that said, not all students were rushing towards the same direction, as some were already prepared with their own packed-lunches as a preferred option. Gathering with friends and groupies, they headed outside onto the surrounding Academy Grounds, taking in the strong rays of the Sun and relaxing atmosphere.
During this time, Warrior of Light was seen swerving and dodging the impatient crowds in desperation to reach the Academy Grounds. A brief flashback to the previous year reminded him of the constant hassle that became the dread of the day for many. Due to impatience for food, there was never a time when Warrior of Light was left unscathed as he transitioned through the crowd of students.
Thankfully, this did not last long, as Warrior of Light was eventually able reach the grounds after what felt like a never-ending barrage of accidental shoves and pushes. He took a moment to gain his breath back, wishing there was a more reasonable alternative to the usual route. Once regaining his energy, it did not take long for him to find a free bench – conveniently situated under a faraway cherry-blossom tree. It was vacant and out of the way from the crowds, perfect for anyone who preferred an ounce of peace.
Stepping over to the vacant bench at a swift pace, warrior of Light was constantly checking for anymore rushing students out of fear that his break would be interrupted.
Thankfully, there was none in sight.
He took no time to perch himself down on the bench, retrieving his packed-lunch from his backpack without a second thought. His lunch consisted of the simple-yet-classic BLT sandwich, a fresh apple, a small chocolate bar, and a bottle of natural-spring water.
Admittedly, it was a rather boring lunch. But, to him at least, it was beyond perfect.  
Sipping on his refreshing drink, Warrior of Light felt at peace. He was finally separate from all the inconvenience of both the students and teachers, and it allowed him time to reflect on his day without any interruption. The falling cherry-blossom petals helped clear his mind, giving him the moment of tranquillity he long desired.
Taking a deep breath, he grasped his sandwich and proceeded to take a bite.
"Ah-HAH! Light-o, there you are!" A load, enthusiastic voice called out abruptly.
Chomp!
Due to the abrupt burst of energy emerging before him, Warrior of Light had completely missed his sandwich and instead bit down on his own tongue.
This was then followed by a tremendous scream of agony, loud enough to be heard across the entirety of Dissidia Academy.
“…aaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!”
Every student and teacher halted in their tracks, glancing around in wonder of where the abrupt scream had originated from.
“Ow…! …Ouch…!”
“Pfft…! AH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAAA!!!”
Warrior of Light pressed down on his tongue with his thumb and finger, attempting to prevent the excess blood from seeping out. Sitting beside him, Tidus was seen laughing hysterically for the past 10 minutes, tears flowing from his squinting eyes as he was unable to breathe.
Warrior of Light, on the other hand, wasn't the slightest amused. In his thoughts, he was cursing Tidus non-stop, seeing as it was he who caused the Council President to accidently bite down on his own tongue in the first place.
"I'm glad you thind dis thunny. (I’m glad you find this funny!)" Warrior of Light sarcastically commented, continuing to down on his bitten tongue.
Tidus' over-the-top laughter was beginning to get on his nerves.
"Hahahaa … b-but that was just … TOO FREAKING FUNNY!" Tidus burst out in admittance as he gasped for air. "How in the world could you bite your tongue s-so … SO EASILY!?"
"It'sth not like I dthid it on purposth! (It’s not like I did it on purpose!)" Warrior of Light then tried to argue, squeezing tightly and painfully on his tongue without even realising due to his rising frustration.
Ever since he bit his tongue, he was unable to eat any of his lunch whatsoever. He could feel his stomach growling in hunger, grumbling loudly as though shouting out in desperation that it desired to be fed. And yet, all he could do was apply a sliver of his mineral water to frequently clean the blood off his tongue.
Carefully, Warrior of Light lifted his finger and thumb off his tongue, feeling that the cut created from the bite had finally stopped gushing out with blood.
During that time, he caught Tidus staring down at his lunch with a strong gaze, acting as though he was thoroughly inspecting its quality.
"Your food seems kinda … dull." Tidus lowly muttered in opinion, his wondrous eyes locked in place. “Wait. You don’t have this every day, do you?”
Just then, Warrior of Light felt something snap in the depths of his mind, feeling his temper brewing from below.
"Argh!!!” Warrior of Light groaned out in anger, hastily moving his lunch out of Tidus' view. “Is there a reason why you're here!? Or, do you just want to bother me?"
"Whoa, whoa … chill out, buddy!" Tidus waved to show his innocence, finding his fellow classmate’s outburst rather unexpected. "I just wanted to hang out, that's all."
"Well, why me?” Warrior of Light bitterly questioned, finding it odd that Tidus preferred to hang out with him rather than his usual gang of friends. “What about Cloud, Cecil, and Firion? I thought they were your go-to guys?”
"See, usually I would, but … Cloud's still out cold in the Medical Room; Firion said to me that he had an ‘errand’ to take care of; and Cecil's having a meeting with Professor Golbez, who conveniently happens to be his older brother and our Astronomy Teacher." Tidus answered in length, numbering off with his fingers as he explained the situation. “So, yeah … I’ve been ditched.”
"…What about you?” Warrior of Light continued to question as he chewed on his sandwich, his hunger finally overcoming pain. “You’re the Blitzball Captain, correct? Do you not have training or something along those lines?"
"Nope. I have training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I’m usually free on the odd-days." Tidus answered ecstatically, showing of a care-free grin. "Besides, I always see you wondering about the Academy on your own. You’re not hanging out with friends or anything. Normally, you’re always working and showing a serious attitude towards everyone you come across.”
Warrior of Light listened silently, his chewing gradually slowing as he too the words in.
“Thinking about it, you're kinda like Squall in some ways … just without the gloominess atmosphere hanging around you, along with the lack of care in the world.” Tidus continued to express, “So, I thought I should help you lighten up a little. Get to know you and stuff … seeing as I have nothing else to do."
"Is that so…?" Warrior of Light glanced towards him oddly, finding this side honesty from him pleasantly surprising.
He couldn't understand how Tidus was always os cheerful and full of energy, let alone the process of his sudden and crazy decision making. However, he also felt somewhat grateful, taking in his classmate’s words to heart.
Maybe it wasn’t what he hoped for, but it was still a moment of fresh air he long desired.
Under the blissful cherry-blossom tree, Warrior of Light found that he was in a peaceful state. He was admittedly enjoying the unexpected company, something he never thought he would appreciate – especially from Tidus, of all people.
"Well, thank you for the concern." Warrior of Light smirked as he nodded with gratitude, finishing off the BLT in the process.
Tidus then leapt to his feet, a sudden – and most likely absurd – idea popping up in his head, "Hey! Maybe we should practice some Blitzball drills, you and me! It would be SO AWESOME! And then, we could-!"
He then abruptly froze.
"Ah, apologies. I was never a Blitzball fan. However, I wouldn’t mind-…" Warrior of Light admitted in honestly, before switching round to notice Tidus’ sudden change of tone. “Is something wrong?”
As he glanced at Tidus, Warrior of Light immediately noticed him staring off to the distance of the Academy Grounds, his face was lit up with a wondrous, yet abnormally cautious expression. Something had clearly caught his attention, albeit Warrior of Light was uncertain as to its significance.
Suddenly, Tidus leapt up onto the bench to gain a better view, his eyes completely focused on the far-off distance. Shocked by his abrupt change of tune, Warrior of Light hastily shuffle back from his initial seating position, covering his remaining food in the process.
"Hey! Feet off the bench!” Warrior of Light barked in repulse, switching to his ‘Council President’ mode in a flash. “Ehat in the world has gotten into you?”
However, he initially received no response.
After a moment of observation, Tidus abruptly leaped back off the bench in haste.
"Err … sorry, Light! Got to go!" Tidus called out in a nervous chuckle, before racing off in the distance of the opposite direction. “I’ll see you back in class!”
Within a mere flash, Tidus was nowhere to be seen. Warrior of Light sat staring in bewilderment, unable to grasp what had just happened. Everything had happened so fast that he was left completely oblivious to the situation.
"What was that all about...?" Warrior of Light quietly murmured to himself, unable to justify the event that just occurred. “…Weird.”
He then shook his head, brushing away the odd situation and got ready to eat his apple. However, as he was just about to take a bite, he heard a fellow student roar out from the distance.
“…Run…!”
He immediately switched round to the direction of the voice, not knowing what to expect.
And then … his mouth fell open in an instant, his eyes widening in terror.
Who he saw was none other than Squall Leonhart, fleeing for his life. His jaw clenched tightly and streams of sweat flying off his mug, there was no doubt that he was in jeopardy.
Behind him was an enormous dust cloud, consuming everything in its wake. Students caught in its path had either leapt for cover or was instantly consumed, letting out horrified screams as the cloud engulfed them.
However, it was not the dust cloud itself that terrified both Warrior of Light and Squall … it was the group of students that were causing it to form.
"That's … a lot of females." Warrior of Light ushered out from the back of his throat, his body frozen in place.
A large cluster of female students were chasing Squall with love-struck expressions, showing no signs of stopping until they have their target.
His body snapping into action, Warrior of Light hastily packed up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. He had no choice but to move, preferring not to imagine what would happen if he was caught in the crossfire.
There was a problem. The moment he straightened up … loud, deafening screams echoed across the Academy Grounds.
“““KYAAAAAAAAA…!!!”””
Warrior of Light was now a target.
Squall, who was not slowing down, realised what had just occurred immediately.
"RUN! NOW!" He roared out, panting and wheezing as he continued to be chased.
Before Warrior of Light could react, Squall shot passed him at lightning speed. As he passed, he grabbed Warrior of Light by the collar. Without warning, Warrior of Light jolted from his position and had joined Squall in the escape against his own will. He rapidly gained a speed that matched Squall’s, feeling somewhat as though he had just entered the Track Team.
Close behind then, the hoard of 'fan girls' were relentlessly on their tail.
"What’s going on!?” Warrior of Light called out towards Squall in desperation, demanding answers for this new dilemma. “Why are these girls chasing us!?"
"You've … become their new target!" Squall answered back, trying to find his words through all of the panting and gasping. "They’ll not stop until they've caught a victim!"
"And … what’ll happen if they do!?" Warrior of Light continued to question, he could feel his stomach churning as he ran through the Grounds.
"Honestly … I’d rather not know?!" Squall answered hopelessly, wishing this nightmare would end. "Let's just say: no one has ever ‘lived’ to tell the tale!"
"…Oh." Warrior of Light realised under his breath, horror striking a nerve in his body.
Both Squall and Warrior of Light sped round a nearby corner, trying to catch their pursuers off-guard as much as possible. The two kept an eye out for whatever hidden gaps or spaces as a means of a swift escape, praying that the gods would offer them a miracle.
They continued to run parallel with the Academy's building, not dropping their pace for a second. During that moment, Warrior of Light caught sight of a small, well-hidden side-door leading into the west side of the building.
It was one of the Academy’s Fire Exits … and it was the perfect hiding place.
"Quick! Through here!" Warrior of Light nudged Squall in haste, hoping their pursuers were oblivious to the escape route.
Noticing the door, Squall nodded back with a firm expression.
The two timed themselves, before diving through the small door and out of the sights of their pursuers. Merely seconds later, the hoard of female students passed the door, causing both Warrior of Light and Squall to duck low behind the nearest cover.
There hearts racing, breaths heavy, and sanities on edge: the two knew they would have been caught if they had missed the escape.
Finally, the pursuers had disappeared … and the world around them fell silent.
"T-that … was close." Warrior of Light forced out a sigh of relief, kneeling on the carpet of the small corridor as he tried to regain his breath.
Squall took a moment to do the same, gasping for some much-needed oxygen. And then, after a moment of respite, he struggled to his feet. His whole body was violently shaking, immediately regretting the excessive running they had to endure.
"It was … inevitable. You became their target the moment you were announced as the new Council President." Squall began to explain in a low mutter, taking in many deep recovery breaths in the process. "Ever since this morning’s assembly, they've been tracking you down relentlessly."
"A-are you serious!?” Warrior of Light blurted out in horror, unable to believe this revelation. “What about you? Why were they chasing you?"
Squall briefly fell silent, evidently hesitant to answer.
"I … passed by and said … ‘hi’." He finally admitted, hiding his fce in embarrassment as he answered in an almost inaudible mumble.
"Hold on … THAT'S IT!?" Warrior of Light blurted in horror.
“SHUSH!” Squall quickly hushed him, placing his finger against his own lips.
Warrior of Light hastily covered his mouth in realisation.
“Yeah … when Bartz and Zidane found out about my mistake, they disappeared and left me behind.” Squall murmured bitterly, his teeth grinding hard the moment he mentioned the two names. “… Some friends they are.”
“How typical of them…” Warrior of Light tutted, knowing Zidane and Bartz well enough from his earlier encounter. “Anyway, how is it looking outside?”
"I … I think they're gone now." Squall cautiously assumed, placing an ear against the Fire Exit door.
He then indicated with the 'all clear' and gradually opened the door. Warrior of Light rose to his feet, returning to a respectable posture before following Squall back out into the open.
Even though they were back out onto the Grounds, the two continuously checked all directions.
"My guess is that they'll be roaming the Front Entrance of the Academy, so be on the lookout." Squall warned in caution, paranoia setting in his mind.
Warrior of Light silently nodded in response, trusting his instincts.
The two headed over to the Front Entrance, passing the bench under the cherry-blossom tree. With his stomach continuing to growl, Warrior of Light had no choice but to save the remainder of his lunch for a later time.
Suddenly, as they closed in on the Entrance, Squall halted his movement.
“Wait!”
He abruptly forced Warrior of Light to the side, the two hiding away against the nearby wall.
"What are you-!?" Warrior of Light barked out, before noticed Squall holding up a finger once again to silence him.
As though by instinct, the two poked their heads out from their cover. They then watched as Cloud Strife emerged from the Academy’s doors, still slightly dazed and holding a coffee cup in his palm.
"Finally, some fresh air." Cloud sighed out in relief, rubbing the small bump on his forehead.
He drew in for another sip of his hot coffee, anticipating the sweet sense of revitalization.
However, as he was about to take his sip, sudden echoes of feminine screams were heard from the distance.
“Hm…?”
Cloud switched around, wondering where the screams were coming from. The screams grew louder and louder, and both Warrior of Light and Squall could only watch in horror as the inevitable events began to unfold.
“What the-!?”
The hoard of female students appeared into view from all directions, ambushing the oblivious Cloud. The surrounded him like an infestation, clutching at his clothes and limbs without remorse.
"Wh-what's going on!? Where are you taking me!? W-wait … WAIT!" Cloud bellowed out, unable to break free from the group’s unbreakable clutches.
With no possible escape route, Cloud was left trapped at their mercy. He was completely immobilized, being dragged away to the unavoidable abyss that awaited him.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooo…!!!”
Warrior of Light and Squall gazed sorrowfully as Cloud disappeared into the darkness, desperately attempting to break free from the cage of the group’s giggly grasps.
"Cloud … was a valiant ally." Squall stated in his usual dark, gloomy tone, saluting his fallen classmate as a sign of respect. "His sacrifice will never be forgotten."
"You sound like he's going to DIE!" Warrior of Light gasped at him in horror, finding this whole situation unbelievably absurd.
 
Dissidia Academy, 3:00pm…
The final bell rang out across the halls, signalling the end of lessons for the day.
Students in their various groups left the classrooms feeling free and alive. They began their usual chatter amongst one another, highlighting their day and what their plans were once they exited the Academy building. Whilst most left the Academy without hesitation, others dwindled behind, completing any outstanding tasks.
During this time, Class 13A concluded their final lesson of the day: Maths. As they heard the bell, they swiftly packed up and headed off in their separate directions:
Squall was the first to leave, taking no time to separate himself from Zidane and Bartz – who were constantly nagging him throughout the lesson.
Tidus rounded up his usual gang of misfits: him seemingly ecstatic as always, Firion and Cecil deep in conversation regarding a recent debate, and Cloud left trailing from behind. It was apparent that Cloud’s encounter with the hoard of female students had left him in a traumatized state. So, to empathize with his close friend, Tidus constantly attempted to perk his spirits up.
Terra and Onion Knight headed off at their own pace, both seemingly relieved to see the day finally end.
And finally, Warrior of Light packed up his equipment and slung his backpack over his shoulder, ready to move.
However, just as he was about to leave, Firion tapped on his shoulder.
"Hey, do you want to walk home with us?" Firion suggested curiously, a calm smile beaming across his face. “We’re thinking of hitting the arcades along the way.”
"Oh. Sorry, Firion. I need to speak with Headmistress regarding the upcoming Council meetings." Warrior of Light answered back, shaking his head apologetically. "Maybe some other time?"
In response, Firion cheerfully shrugged, "Fair enough. Just be sure to let me know about the Council plans tomorrow."
"Yes, I’ll let you know when I have everything in order." Warrior of Light grinned in return, waving Firion and the rest of the group off.
As they left, Warrior of Light briefly heard Tidus making a small comment to the other three:
"Light seems to be visiting the Headmistress a lot today. Sounds to me like they're all buddy-buddy! Ahahaa…!"
…before disappearing from sight.
 
Soon After…
Warrior of Light swiftly reached the Top Floor of the Academy, racing up the vacant staircase without any opposing issues. He reached the Headmistress' Office in no time and patiently knocked on the door.
Knock-Knock!
“Come in.”
He heard the usual call from the Headmistress and entered upon command.
As he stepped into the office, he saw Headmistress Cosmos standing up from her desk. She was overseeing the students from her window, casually watching as they exited the Academy. It was as if she was a Goddess to the Academy, balancing her work as Headmistress whilst also maintaining the well-being of her students.
"It's nice to see the Academy’s First Semester start off on a high, would you not agree?" Cosmos cheerfully spoke out, twisting round to face Warrior of Light with a cool, innocent smile across her face.
"Well, it certainly was an ‘interesting start’ … that's for certain." Warrior of Light answered back in an anxious chuckle, reflecting on his odd experiences throughout the day.
With that, the two began their meeting. Cosmos briefed him on the tasks that were to be investigated before the Council meeting on Friday, such as: upcoming events, any notable issues that may need to be addressed, and so on. In addition, she passed over a sheet of paper, breaking down the tasks she planned for him to pursue.
"I'm sure this will all be simple enough for you, Council President.” She coolly grinned, showing confidence in the boy. “Ah! Before I forget. You’ll be joined by Cid of the Lufaine at some point during Friday’s meeting, so make sure you have a lot to discuss with him."
Warrior of Light gleefully agreed and accepted the sheet of paper, slipping it inside his backpack.
However, just as he zipped up the bag, his expression turned to uncertainty. There was something that stuck in his mind throughout the day … a question that he wished to bring up before it was too late.
He glanced at the Headmistress with a firm gaze.
"Cosmos, if may I ask: Why did you employ Garland into the Academy?" He requested, hoping to settle his mind once and for all. “It’s just not sitting right with me, especially with all the harm he has caused in the past.”
The Headmistress stood silent for a moment, dipping her head in hesitance.
She knew he would ask the question, seeing it in his eyes when he previously entered her office. However, she had hoped the whole situation avoided a possible misunderstanding, aware of the hysteria it could cause throughout the Academy.
"Garland appeared before me, pleading o wipe the slate clean. He continuously acknowledged his previous wrongdoings … and promised not to repeat those same mistakes." Cosmos finally began to explain, taking in a deep breath as she spoke. "At first, I outright refused his wishes. I thought to myself that he ‘wasn’t to be trusted, no matter the excuse’. However, as I further examined him … I realised he was telling the truth.
“And so, I decided to help him. I hired him as an English Teacher for the Academy, and I’ve placed numerous measures to monitor his actions in case he decides to go against his promises.”
"You’ve known of his sins!" Warrior of Light argued back, hoping that there was some sense of justification for the Headmistress' risky decision. “He had ruined so many lives … including mine!”
"I am well aware.” Cosmos responded with an understanding nod. “You have nothing to worry about, Warrior of Light. I have taken both his and your words into consideration and have taken full responsibility for this decision.”
Warrior of Light drew back with hesitance, unable to find the words.
"All I can tell you now is that you'll just have to trust me." Cosmos assured him.
Warrior of Light held his silence, refusing to give an answer. He strapped the backpack over his shoulder once again, deciding to take his leave.
"I will see you tomorrow, Warrior of Light." She called out in farewell, her kind smile illuminating towards him.
Warrior of Light waved back at her in goodbye before exiting the office … but did not say another word.
As the door closed, Cosmos sat back down on her desk, letting out a saddened sigh before commencing to her various reports.
Just then, not long after Warrior of Light left, another knock was heard from the door.
"Come in." Cosmos formally called out, concentrating on her reports.
Click…!
The door opened … and the sound of large, booming footsteps echoed throughout the office.
"That boy certainly likes to involve himself on the businesses of others." A deep, menacing voice expressed.
"Warrior of Light has very valid reasons to know about the changes going on within the Academy." Cosmos stated truthfully, her eyes locked onto her reports. "He is a promising student, and will certainly lead a successful life. However, he is held back by his own setback, and he’ll never be able to move forward if they continue to loom over him."
"If you say so, Cosmos." The deep voice accepted, letting out disgruntled tut.
Cosmos halted her reports, hesitating momentarily. She refused to look up at the being before her, knowing it would only cause more stress on her.
The man that stood before her was to be the new Headmaster of Dissidia Academy. No matter what arguments and excuses Cosmos tried to use against the Academy’s Governing Body, the decision was final.
In her heart, Cosmos despised the fact that she would soon be replaced against her own will by such a man. There was no doubt that everything she had done for the Academy would be abolished by the time she leaves. There was nothing she could do to prevent the inevitable, only appreciate the time she had left.
Cosmos placed down her black-inked pen and bitterly raised her head, meeting eye-to-eye with the man who towered over her.
The man was no ordinary man. Everything other than his suit differed from the norm. He was roughly twice the height of Sir Garland and gave the impression that he could take down the building with a singular punch. He had four brutal-looking arms – all of which could choke out anyone who opposed him with ease – and two large, demonic wings with piercing talons.
To top it off: he had the face of a demon.
His enlarged fangs were razor-sharp, his hauntingly grotesque eyes were filled with red, and the oversized horns on top of his head could skewer his victims without restriction.
Regardless of her thoughts, Cosmos held her usual pleasant aura, grinning sweetly as she decided to ask the man a simple question:
"Is there anything I can help you with … Deputy-Headmaster Chaos?"
 
End of Volume 1.






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