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Chapter 18 - Vol 5: Breaking Point

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 18 - Vol 5: Breaking Point

Chapter 18 - Vol 5: Breaking Point
Zidane’s eyes were shut tight, his mind empty and heart beating at a gradual pace. His imagination began to flow through like a fluid stream, following the sounds of his surroundings. Within a mere instant, the blank canvas of his mind evolved into an entire world. In this realm, he was a peace, not a threat of interruption in sight. No faults, no accusations made against him, no chains that held him back from his freedom … this world was the utopia that Zidane desired.
His imagination continued to progress and evolve as the tune continued to flow through his mind, never-ending scenes of various memories and dreams appearing clear as day. His various cunning pranks, both successful and failed, played out like a continuous sequence, his expression in every scene full of laughter and amusement as he continued his play of tricks and banter.
In the aftermath of each prank, his cheerful smirk could be seen next to his partner in crime, Bartz. The two stood tall and proud, taking in the onslaught of words cast upon them by the teachers; their light frustrations understandable yet an odd joy to see, as though expecting them to continue their typical nonsense no matter the cost. It was his life to enjoy, and he refused to let it slip by him.
This was the majesty of music, the sensation of tranquillity welcoming him with open arms. Zidane took this opportunity with a warm embrace, all his problems washing away into the flowing stream and wiping his slate clean.
Nothing could ruin this moment …
“Tell me, Zidane, does the music ‘trance’ your mind? Are you ‘bewitched’ by its omnipotent power?”
… the moment was ruined.
The echoing voice, filled with circling chuckles, broke the immersion in an instant, like a fragile glass bubble shattering in millions of tiny pieces. To add salt to the wound, the pieces dissolved into the abyss, reverting Zidane’s mind back to the initial, boring, blank canvass.
Before he knew it, he had returned to the detestable reality that judged him eternally, never allowing him a moment of peace and joy he longed for.
“It did … until your voice broke the immersion.” Zidane murmured in disappointment, avoiding eye contact with a disgusted pout.
*Gasp…!* You’ve betrayed my fragile heart, Zidane!”
Standing before him, his stance as graceful and flamboyant as one could ever be, was his music tutor: Conductor Kuja. Having heard his student’s blunt remark, he had abruptly staggered back in shock, his mouth gaping as he drew out a repulsive expression. He then turned away with haste, bitterly hiding his sulk from Zidane. He refused to let such disrespect slip by him so easily, thinking of a cunning retort.
Zidane stared at his tutor with an unimpressed gaze, feeling that the overreaction was rather unnecessary. With a sigh, he sat back on his seat as he tried to listen to the tune once again in peace, balancing himself on the back legs of his chair. However, he couldn’t seem to regain the trance that engulfed his mind earlier, the thoughts of the situation he was currently in taking president over everything else.
Conductor Kuja floated away from Zidane’s desk at this point, deciding it was pointless to hold the grudge. Instead he continued to oversee the other students of Class 13A, watching each of them as they enter their ideal inner paradise. It was intriguing for Kuja to imagine what worlds each student had fallen into thanks to the surrounding music entering their ears.
Zidane also casually glanced over towards a few of his fellow classmates, all of whom had their eyes shut. He first caught an eye of Warrior of Light, whose posture was as stoic as ever and expression locked with his constant serious tone. He then shifted to Onion Knight, who seemed to have a more calculative expression, as though he was cracking codes and figuring out various puzzles. He continued to peer over to each classmate, curiously attempting to figure what they were imagining based on appearance. From Firion’s peaceful smile, to Cecil’s more romanticized aura, and then to Terra’s more free-like wonder; Zidane couldn’t help but feel just as fascinated as Kuja.
… And then there was Cloud and Bartz, both of whom had fallen asleep face down on their desks. It seemed that Cloud, being the tired soul that he always was, had once again given into his dream state after a valiant fight. Bartz, on the other hand, had noticed Cloud dozing off and decided it would be fun to copy him by placing his head on the desk as well, only to actually fall asleep immediately after.
Shaking his head in a typical manner, Zidane’s intrigue continued regardless … until his gaze stopped at Squall.
Zidane didn’t know what to think upon seeing his friend, feeling the intimidating aura that engulfed him as he just sat there. His arms crossed and giving a constant scowl, it was as thought something was troubling him more so than ever. Zidane considered the various options causing this: maybe it was just the usual frustrations; it could be relating the recent news relating of his Father’s proposed play; or possibly, and the most likely scenario, it was about the next upcoming trial.
His body gradually slid back on his seat, a sudden yet familiar weight beginning to overbear Zidane. He wanted nothing more than to stand up against the pressure, proving his innocence. And yet, every single time he tried, something was dragging him back, like metaphorical chains binding him and preventing his escape. His body tense and knuckles clenched up, Zidane continued to fight back even though he knew it was useless.
Then, out of nowhere, Class 13A heard an erupting Clap! echo the music theatre. The music halted, its entrancing allure dissipating in an instant. Each class member opened their eyes with a fright, reality hitting them like a ton of bricks. Cloud and Bartz woke in a terrified fright, leaping back on their seats …
 “No-no-no-NOOO!!!”
“AAAAHH!!!”
… and falling to the floor with a humongous CRASH!
All eyes were now on Conductor Kuja, his cunning grin shining proud, as he rose up on stage.
“Now then, welcome back to reality, one and all.” Kuja voice chuckling as it engulfed the room, his eyes assessing the class. “I hope the journey in the depths of your minds was enjoyable, I can certainly say mine was. However, each journey must come to an end and in turn, we shall reflect upon our experiences. But first, could anyone suggest to me as to what purpose this activity serves?”
Some of the classmates glanced towards one another with uncertain expressions, wondering how to answer their tutor’s question. Warrior of Light, as expected, was the first to put his hand up, entirely certain about his answer. Kuja gracefully pointed to the Class President, awaiting his answer with anticipation.
“It’s to show us how effective and influential music can be to our psyche and wellbeing.” He answered confidently, a smug grin escaping him.
“Yes, that is a statement I wholeheartedly support.” Kuja accepted passionately, “… However, there is another aspect to it than simply personal influence.”
It was then Onion Knight’s hand shot up, refusing to allow the arising opportunity to escape his grasp. Kuja indicated to him the moment the hand was up, curious to hear the opposing answer. Warrior of Light glared towards his rivalling classmate, finding his immediate contribution rather predictable.
“Music is a crucial form of art.” Onion Knight began to explain, expanding his mind outside the box. “Whilst it can influence one personally, it is a mandatory aspect to our culture as a whole. No one would be able to go anywhere without hearing music; no matter the occasion, music brings the necessary life into any scenario.”
“Hm-hm-hmm … Oh, right you are, Onion Knight!” Kuja then announced with joy, pleased to hear such a committed answer. “Music is literally everywhere! It is pinnacle for music to be implemented in our everyday media: our movies, games, on TV, along with many, many others. Not only that, but we have concerts, gigs, orchestra, and other dedicated forms that continue in revolutionizing the art of music. You could even suggest that the atmospheric sounds of nature or ‘lack of’ sound entirely is still considered Music. Yes, Music is ART! (… Regardless of one certain ‘Art’ teacher’s rather blunt disapproval.) And so, I believe we must embrace it as such.”
Onion Knight sat chilled on his seat, a cocky grinning on him as he bashed in his accomplishment. Warrior of Light’s eyes rolled in frustration, clicking his tongue at Onion Knight’s continuous arrogance in attempting to one-up him no matter the subject. Terra, who was sitting directly behind Onion Knight, couldn’t help but smirk at the rivalry; finding that it was refreshing to see the two compete in a more casual environment in comparison to the constantly serious court trial.
The class began to comment and chatter among each other, seemingly suggesting other particular sights where they felt music was a pinnacle aspect or helped liven up the atmosphere. However, Conductor Kuja held up a finger to his pursed lips, indicating to the class to be silent. The class stopped in an instant, gazing towards their tutor in wonder of what he was about to say next.
“That being said, it is important to recognize the ‘depths’ of music and how it affects us more personally, just as our dear Warrior of Light rightly suggested.” He exclaimed sincerely, acting more solemnly than what was initially perceived. “For you see, music can certainly influence us and allow our imaginations flow, just as what we were experiencing in the earlier activity. However, it is also there to help us in our time of need. There are times in our lives when we may feel down on ourselves …”
Zidane’s expression perked up …
“We may feel frustrated on reaching our goals or objectives …”
Onion Knight and Warrior of Light watched with genuine eyes …
“We may feel pain in watching our close friends or loved ones suffer …”
Bartz’s shoulders slumped, his eyes drooping …
“We may even feel the world around us is sometimes too much to bear.”
 Terra and Squall froze in their seats, listening intently …
“Those are the times were we must break away and escape from reality; allow music to cast us into our imaginative minds, and one we are ready … we can finally return to the world renewed.”
Every single member of Class 13A sat in silence, unable to speak as their thoughts took in Kuja’s words momentously. Time stopped, allowing those to process their feelings and come to their own conclusions. Zidane sat staring towards the blank surface of his desk, realising how refreshed he was when he exited his imagination after listening to the music being played.
The question dawned upon him at that moment: Would music be able to break the stigma that held him back?
 
End of Lesson – 10:00am …
 
Zidane disappeared out of the music theatre, along with Bartz by his side and the majority of Class 13A. Onion Knight and Terra followed the group from behind, mentally preparing themselves for their next lesson: English. Conductor Kuja was casually perched cross-legged from the stage, watching the class leave. However, noticing Onion Knight and Terra about to pass through the door, he decided now was the best opportunity to speak to them.
“Oh! Onion Knight. Terra Branford. A word, if I may?” Kuja hastily called them out, leaping off from his seated position.
 The two halted, switching to their Music tutor with curious glances. Kuja approached them, hovering over like he was on a cloud.
“No need to worry, I only wish to speak to the both of you briefly.” Kuja assured them, getting the impression that the two were oblivious to the reason that they were called for. “It’s to do with Zidane’s current predicament.”
Onion Knight and Terra glanced at one another, wondering to each other on what Kuja wished to say.
“There was a specific reason as to why I conducted this particular lesson today.” Kuja began, his arms crossed as he spoke. “You see, I have been watching your conquest on the Rydia case and it has occurred to me that the pressure is affecting not only yourselves and the rest of your class, but also the academy as a whole. It is a trying time, that’s for certain. Most notably, Zidane’s not acting like his usual self: always spacing out, looking down in the dumps, and ultimately there is just no fun in him like there normally would be. There is no doubt in my mind, based on his expression alone, that he is innocent.”
Terra nodded as he listened to the conductor, agreeing committedly to his comments. Onion Knight dittoed his classmate’s expression, yet wondered if there was a deeper connection than just a ‘teacher’s concern for their favourite pupil’.
“So, with that in mind, the lesson was to assess Zidane’s thought process whilst also giving him a much desired reprieve.” Kuja continued on, “It certainly was fascinating seeing his eyes lit up like it did, proving that there is certainly a way to crack whatever was holding him back. However, music can only do so much for the brain, and whatever Zidane is still hiding will take a lot more willpower than one alone could summon. So, I call upon the both of you, Onion Knight and Terra, to do everything you can and finally bring justice to this case. It would mean the world to me.”
“Yes, sir.” Terra agreed immediately, reassuring that the two of them will finish successfully.
Onion Knight was next to respond, “We shall, Conductor Kuja.” Yet, as he spoke his mind, something else crept up that he was unsure whether to address.
Kuja’s nodded with a small chuckle, yet his eyes sharpened on Onion Knight, reading him like a book.
“What seems to be on your mind?” He questioned curiously.
“Hm…? Oh, it’s nothing important.” Onion Knight shrugged off in reply. “It’s just … what is your relation to Zidane; if you don’t mind me asking, sir?”
Kuja watched him silently, as though analysing him. Onion Knight felt a shiver run up his spine, feeling somewhat conscious of the Music tutor peering over him.
“Such details are classified.” He then answered; deciding now wasn’t the time to reveal. “All I am willing to say is that … well, he is someone close to me.”
Onion Knight nodded in acceptance, followed by both he and Terra taking their leave from the music theatre. Kuja continued to watch them as they exited the room, his expression unreadable.
Onion Knight and Terra passed through the corridor of the Academy’s 2nd floor, following it around towards the staircase. As always, Onion Knight was deep within his thoughts, continuing to attempt piecing together the case revolving the incident. Terra walked in silence, also deep in her thoughts. However, Terra was reciting Conductor Kuja’s words both during his speech in the lesson and what he had told them later on, feeling as though his words had somewhat struck a chord with her.
Then, the moment the two reached the staircase, Terra returned to reality with one core question on her mind.
“So, what’s our next move?” She enquired to Onion Knight, hoping he had a plan of action before their inevitable showdown at the court trial later in the day.
Onion Knight paused, allowing his thoughts to settle, before answering. The two began climbing the steps towards the 3rd floor, where their English lesson with Garland awaits.
“Well, we need to further investigate both the room of the incident on the 4th floor and the lab room on the 5th.” Onion Knight deliberated, considering all aspects of the case so far. “However, I believe that considering the lack of time we have left before the trial, we need to use our resources wisely and efficiently. So, my suggestion is that the moment we reach Lunch Break, the two of us split off and tackle the two rooms individually. I shall visit the 5th floor Lab room, whilst you return to the room of the incident. Hopefully, we can use that to maximise our efforts and return to the Defence stand with enough arsenal.”
“Hold on, we’ve already covered the room where the incident occurred.” Terra pointed out, unsure why Onion Knight wanted that area re-swept. “Plus, surely the room was already cleaned out by now; it would seem rather pointless to check it again now.”
Onion Knight loosely shrugged, “Well, it wouldn’t hurt if you checked for anything we missed. Also, you could have a gander in the other rooms of the 4th floor if you get the chance, especially in the room where Bartz and Zidane prepared for their prank.”
Terra pondered the possibility, knowing all too well that Onion Knight’s intuition was nothing to scoff at. Onion Knight gave off a cool and confident grin, thoroughly trusting in his own plans.
Finally, Terra sighed, “I see your point.”
The two, having climb up the staircase, had eventually reached the door to their English classroom, meeting up with the rest of the class in the process. It was then that the door opened, Garland appearing before Class 13A with his intimidating figure. Warrior of Light glanced away with immediate effect, refusing to make eye contact as he growled in disgust.
“Welcome to English, Class 13A.” He greeted them, his voice booming across the corridor. “Now, be seated and we shall begin the lesson promptly.”
 
Lunch Break – 12:30pm …
 
Onion Knight approached the 5th floor of Dissidia Academy, passing through the gaps of various group of students as they desperately made their way towards the smell of food. It was certainly a struggle to break through the claustrophobic hoard, especially with his lack of height and without Terra – who would have given him the necessary barrier he needed to push through – by his side. The mere thought of it royally ticked him off, his cheeks flustered and eyes engulfed with fury.
Eventually, after a long hard battle through the woodland of taller people, Onion Knight was able to reach the Laboratory Room 1. After a moment to regain his strength and composure, he peered through the door window into the lab itself. To his relief, it was completely empty, having just finished being used. With no one in sight within the lab, he opened the door and slipped through with ease.
As the door closed, everything turned to absolute silence. There were no distracting noises from the students outside, no sounds of irritating contraptions, and no annoyances whatsoever: total bliss.
Onion Knight took a moment to examine the room as a whole, attempting to gain his bearings of the aesthetics within the lab. At the same time, he took out Celes’ photos of the lab from the depths of his blazer pocket in hopes that everything matches up. Upon noticing the position of where the photos were taken, he stepped towards the far corner of the lab room, nearest to the window.
There, to Onion Knight’s expectation, was the scene that matched Celes’ photos, untouched and secluded from the rest of the lab. Taped barriers were erected around the area, presumably to prevent any accidents from occurring. As his eyes switched back and forth from the photos to the area he was standing in, Onion Knight was able to point out the exact locations in an instant. The numerous strands of hair; the tampered open window; and, upon opening the cupboard in front of him, the damaged stuffed up blazer: all were accounted for.
Nodding to himself, Onion Knight began his investigation, slipping on a pair of latex gloves in order to prevent his fingerprints from mixing up with the evidence situated before him. He took up samples of the hairs dotted on the floor, separating the two hair colours and placing them into clear plastic pouches labelled ‘Lab Evidence’ in black marker pen. Following on from that, Onion Knight carefully took the blazer out from the cupboard and displayed it on the nearby lab desk.
Upon splaying out the blazer, Onion Knight was able to gain the optimal vantage point, allowing him to fully examine the blazer in its entirety. The first aspect to the blazer he examined was the tag stitched within the inside, whimsically praying for a name or at least the initials of the owner. He flipped the tag, only to be left disappointed; there was no name, the tag was blank with only the ‘L’ letter displayed to indicate its large size. Moving on, he pulled out each pocket of the blazer, wondering if there was anything that would help him.
The first pocket, situated on the upper right of the blazer’s torso: empty.
Onion Knight breathed out deeply, keeping his composure in check.
The second pocket, upper left of the blazer: empty.
Onion Knight nodded in acceptance, assuming the owner never used the top pockets of the blazer.
The third pocket, lower right of the blazer: scraps of paper.
This was where things began to perk up for Onion Knight, separating the papers and placing them to the side. He gazed upon them curiously, wondering if they were of any significance such as any specific writing or relatable images. However, as he further investigated them, he realised they were blank. Feeling somewhat disappointed, he kept them out of the way for the time being.
And then, he turned to the fourth and final pocket, situated in the lower left of the blazer. Before Onion Knight reached in, he noticed a bulge, giving him an anticipated expression. He reached into the pocket, grasping something metallic, and held it up into the open.
It was a Lion’s head keychain.
Onion Knight staggered back with a horrified gasp, recognising it in an instant. His back collided with the windowed wall The keychain’s shape was recognisable – iconic, in fact – to its owner, having constantly wearing a pendant in a similar form wherever he went.
That student … was Squall Leonhart.
“So, ‘this’ was where you disappeared off to after class.” A suspicious voice suddenly called to him, causing Onion Knight to jump up from his position.
Standing in front of the Lab room door, his arms tightly crossed and eyes locked on to Onion Knight like daggers, was Warrior of Light. Onion Knight, staring back with a challenging gaze, stood his ground, his arms to his side and body turning tense. In that moment, he swiftly placed the keychain within his own blazer pocket, out of sight.
Warrior of Light stepped forward, closing in on his adversary whist examining the around him with his own eyes.
“Why are you here, Warrior of Light?” Onion Knight questioned intensely, his eyes refusing to divert attention from the Council and Class President.
Warrior of Light halted his movement, towering over Onion Knight as the two stood face to face.
“Tsk! Is it not obvious?” Warrior of Light tutted as he answered, finding such a question meaningless. “The moment our recent lesson came to a close, I noticed both you and Terra Branford rushing out of the room. I thought to myself, ‘it must be an urgent matter’. However, I chose to follow the two of you out of pure curiosity. I assumed it was related to our case as I saw Terra split off towards the 4th floor whilst you heading on to the 5th.”
Without initially realising, Onion Knight felt his fists clench up tight and his teeth grinding together in frustration. He was bitter, giving off the impression that Warrior of Light was prying into him.
“I must say, you’ve found yourself some interesting evidence.” Warrior of Light continued with a snarky remark, his gaze wandering along what was displayed on the desk beside the two. “It certainly fits with the case details so far.”
Onion Knight shrugged whilst he continued to watch the Council President warily, “It’s a new lead, at the very least. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a name.”
“I see.” Warrior of Light grinned, expecting such a result. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Zidane stashed that scruffy blazer away in a panic.”
“Huh!? You must be joking!” Onion Knight erupted with a baffled yell, noticing the faults in Warrior of Light’s statement. “The amount of inconsistencies in your statement just now is ridiculous to say the least! How could you assume its Zidane’s from the get-go? First, the blazer is a size Large, it would simple be too big to fit Zidane. Second, you apprehended Zidane immediately after the incident took place. He couldn’t have possibly had the chance to ‘hide’ the blazer, such an action would be impossible to execute in that time period. Third, we have already established that Zidane couldn’t have broken the glass.”
“Hmph! Fine then, if you insist.” Warrior of Light grunted in retaliation, his eyes rolling. “However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It is as you analysed during the conclusion of the previous court trial: ‘someone else HAD to be in that room.’ It is high possibility that the blazer belongs to an accomplice of our ‘culprit’.”
“Then it begs the question: ‘Why break the glass window on the 4th floor in the first place?’ whilst we must include that the window was broken from the outside, whilst the blazer was ripped during an escape from the room.” Onion Knight then deliberated, refusing to let his rival take the high ground.
“It is possible Zidane had more than one accomplice during the incident.” Warrior of Light shrugged lightly, crossing off each likely scenario he could come up with.
“So, you now consider a new possibility that there were multiple culprits involved?” Onion Knight pushed on, finding the cracks in his opponent’s reasoning. “That would completely contradict Bartz’s testimony!”
“Well … Bartz may have lied in his testimony to protect Zidane.” Warrior of Light brushed aside, a subtle smirk forming within him. “Those two are, after all … the closest of friends.”
Onion Knight couldn’t believe what he was hearing, his distraught eyes wide with shock. Warrior of Light refused to budge, each and every question he had tackled with a new probability or assumption.
“Why…?” He then murmured painfully, his head lowered as he attempted to control his pent up anger. “Why are you so insistent in getting Zidane the ‘guilty’ verdict!? He is our classmate! Our friend! You know that just as much as I do!”
“… He is a thief.” Warrior of Light retorted, his voice deepening to an antagonistic tone. “… A heartless, selfish thief who would stop at nothing to harass and humiliate his victims, just as long as it satisfies him. The moment he sees something he likes, he’ll simply give in without any consideration of other. He’s a pest, and a hindrance to the Academy.”
Ba-doom...
Onion Knight abruptly reached up and took hold of Warrior of Light by the collar of his blazer, twisting him around and slamming him against the wall. Warrior of Light was bewildered by this sudden shift in Onion Knight’s emotions, yet kept a commanding posture.
“THAT’S HOW YOU SEE IT!?!!” Onion Knight erupted furiously, his wrath overflowing. “Did you not even CONSIDER his own wellbeing on the matter!? How HE felt about any of this!? He may be the token prankster of the Academy and have a tendency to go overboard on occasions, but he is well aware of the limits. He considers others feelings, and would always give back anything he’d stolen from people immediately.”
“Is that so?” Warrior of Light lightly chuckled out, finding this situation rather amusing. “Is he considerate of other people’s feelings? Does he give back the things he stole? If I can recall, he never had the incentive of returning my Council President Badge when he stole it on the first day of the semester. It wasn’t until Squall intervened when I was able to get it back.”
Ba-doom, ba-doom…!
“…He stole your Council Badge?” Onion Knight echoed out breathlessly, his body in a state of mental shock. “That doesn’t give you the excuse to hunt him down like a rabid dog! Such a reason would be considered as pathetic, let alone selfish and arrogant! In fact, that also reminds me of another person who would usually consider other people feelings before their own … hold on; it’s on the tip of my tongue … OH! That’s right: THAT PERSON WAS YOU!!!”
“Oh, don’t worry, I certainly still consider the feelings of others …” Warrior of Light smirked ruthlessly, finding no basis in Onion Knight’s argument. “However, I simply refuse to tolerate the behaviour Zidane displays.”
Ba-doom, ba-doom, ba-doom…!
“Y-you … I saw you as my rival.” Onion Knight growled, his body shaking and fists continuing to tighten.  “I didn’t tend to agree with you on debates or discussions, yet I always knew your heart was in the right place … But this …”
Warrior of Light’s raised an eyebrow cautiously, realising what Onion Knight was about to do.
Ba-doom – Ba-doom – Ba-doom…!!!
The pace of Onion Knight’s heart continued to rise uncontrollably.
“… This …”
BADOOM-BADOOM-BADOOM…!!!
“THIS, I REFUSE TO ACCEPT!!!” Onion Knight roared at the top of his lungs, his emotions at the breaking point.
Releasing one of his grasps on Warrior of Light’s collar, he hastily drew back and lashed out with an unbound strike. Warrior of Light mentally braced, fearing for what was about to occur.
However, just as Onion Knight’s fist was about to collide with Warrior of Light’s cheek …
“This won’t do at all.” A calm, light-toned voice suddenly spoke from out of nowhere.
Following this, the two felt a powerful flick of the finger catch them via the centre of their foreheads.
“ACK!” Onion Knight reacted.
“GAH!” Warrior of Light blurted out.
The two stumbled back as they gained some distance from one another, turning away with agonizing tears in their eyes as the stinging sensation continued to surge from their foreheads. After some time, the two switched back as they questioned who flicked them.
They then gasped in astonishment.
“I cannot have two of Dissidia Academy’s brightest students fight it out like two uncivilised delinquents.” Headmistress Cosmos continued to comment, shaking her head in disapproval. “Such behaviour would be unethical, in addition to potentially hurting the Academy’s outstanding reputation.”
Onion Knight and Warrior of Light stood in absolute silence, unable to think straight due to the sudden appearance of the Headmistress and the guilt that engulfed them. Cosmos cast a glare on the two of them, switching between one another with the rare expression of severe disappointment.
She then sighed sombrely, “I entrusted the both of you with these roles because I believed in your skills and abilities to find the truth of this unsightly incident. The promise you two hold is indescribable, and the performances you two demonstrated during the previous court trial proved to me that I had made the correct choice. Whilst it is evident that there are flaws in your convictions, it was always counteracted with the unstoppable passion for seeking the truth of the case.”
The two lowered their heads in shame, unable to meet eyes with Headmistress Cosmos.
“This is why it baffles me to see you two deteriorate to such a disgusting display of behaviour, especially with.” Cosmos’ tone darkened as she criticised, her voice rising to an intimidating level. “It sickens me to the core, and I will NOT tolerate it any longer. Do you two understand?”
“… Yes, Headmistress Cosmos …” The two muttered in synchronization with the addition of nods.
“Good.” The Headmistress accepted in relief, sighing away as she returned the persona she ‘loathed’ back to the deepest depths of her sub-consciousness. “Now with that out of the way, I suggest the both of you to shake hands as friends and equal rivals.”
Onion Knight did as Cosmos suggested, stepping towards Warrior of Light and holding out a hand ready for his fellow classmate to shake. Warrior of Light watched him intensely as he approached, hesitating whether he should take the gesture to heart or stand his ground. He gradually held out his own hand, pushing to accept the truce.
All of a sudden, however, he viciously casted Onion Knight’s hand aside, the iris’ of his eyes lighting up like a burning flame.
“I’ll never shake your hand …” He murmured with intimidation , his refusal absolute.
He turned away and stormed towards the lab door, yanking it open without due care. However, just before he stepped through to the corridor, his glanced back at his opponent.
“Mark my words, Onion Knight.” Warrior of Light warned fiercely, “The moment this afternoon’s court trial begins … you are going to regret ever accepting to defend Zidane.”
And with that, he disappeared from sight.
Onion Knight and Cosmos stood in silence as they watched the door of the lab room close up, their bodies frozen in place. Then, with the two alone in the room, Onion Knight stepped over to the nearest stooled seat and sat down. Resting his elbows on the table, he placed his head between his hands and hid the frustration that he struggled to suppress. Cosmos watched him, saddened by the current outcome between the two.
“… I don’t understand him.” Onion Knight remarked in a low murmur, breaking the silence. “He is completely hell-bent of punishing Zidane to the point that he’s ignoring the true purpose of the case. Why is he so stubborn and close-minded?”
Cosmos stepped over beside Onion Knight, taking up a stooled seat and perched next to him. Onion Knight twisted his head slightly, glancing up at the headmistress with bloodshot, moist eyes.
“This is Warrior of Light’s psychological weakness.” Cosmos admitted to him, deciding it was the right time for the reveal. “Over the time that I’ve known him, Warrior of Light grew to become very stubborn and, dare I say it, arrogant on his roles as Class and Council President, and even as a student overall. Granted, he knows when to be sincere and compassionate towards his classmates, and it certainly is one of his strong suites. Yet, he believes in a high level of disciplinary order and justice, striving against any sorts of misbehaviour no matter the consequences. His heart is in the right place … it’s just so happens that he’s stepped too far off the path.”
“Do you know what caused him to act in such a manner?” Onion Knight then questioned, gradually raising his head back up.
Cosmos hesitantly nodded, “Whilst I don’t know the true extent of the situation, I can say that an incident occurred to him 5 years ago, causing him to gain amnesia in the process. He is unaware of his past prior to the events and desires nothing greater than to return his memories and prevent another incident of similar proportions from occurring.”
Onion Knight took in the Headmistress’s word with consideration, grasping more of an understanding into Warrior of Light’s mind-set. Whilst he was sceptical of the Council President and could never see eye-to-eye with him, he accepted the situation he was going through.
With that said …
“… I cannot allow him to win this case.” Onion Knight assured with determination, shaking his head. “If he wins, it’ll go against everything he strives for. In addition to that, I’ve come too far to let it all go to waste; I’m close to solving this, and I’m certain on what I needed to do.”
The Headmistress nodded to him with acceptance, a glowing smile forming deep within her. Onion Knight leapt off of his seat, his stance proud and tall – well … as tall as he could be. He was ready to tackle the definitive court trial head on, no matter the obstacle that stood in his way.
Yet, before he could rush off and rendezvous with Terra, a question rattled his mind.
“Cosmos … You suggested about Warrior of Light’s ‘psychological weakness’.” He began, his curiosity peaking, “What could my ‘weakness’ be?”
Headmistress Cosmos stood from her seat, her appearance shining like a beacon of pride as she rose up. Onion Knight watched as she stepped around him, directing herself towards the door of the lab room.
“You’ll find out in due time, Onion Knight.” She then answered with a tease, chuckling away.
 
Dissidia Academy’s Theatre Hall – 2:00pm …
 
Onion Knight stepped towards his stand, eyes casting an intense glare as he caught a glance of the wooden box that awaited his arrival.
“So, we meet again … Box!” He shook a first in disgust, refusing to be intimidated by such an object.
The surrounding atmosphere was thick with anticipation, the crowds lined up in their seats as they waited for the event to begin. There were high levels of gossip and cheering, supporting their side no matter what. Amongst them, Class 13A sat together with a nervous aura cast around them, oblivious to how the events of this trial would unfold. Opposite of the Defence Stand, Warrior of Light stood within the Prosecution Stand with crossed arms and a stern expression as he watched Onion Knight step forward.
To Onion Knight’s right was Terra Branford, her blonde-haired ponytail swaying as she stepped to the Defence stand. She was calm and determined, keeping her wits about even though she was in clear view of the entirety of Dissidia Academy’s students. She knew her objective, and was ready to support Onion Knight all the way.
To Onion Knight’s left was Zidane Tribal, his blonde-furred tail swishing relatively freely as he continued forward. His eyes and expression was blank, drowning out all sounds around him. In addition to this, he was wearing a pair of large, engulfing black headphones, music entering his mind as it freed him from his doubts and troubles. He had taken Conductor Kuja’s words to heart, allowing his imagination to flow like an expanding river.
The trio were met with a revived Rydia, who stood before them with a determined expression.
“Rydia, how are you feeling?” Onion Knight was the first to question, concerned for her being in the limelight. “Are you sure you should be here watching the trial?”
“I’m fine, thank you, Onion Knight.” Rydia smiled back, acting somewhat upbeat. “Don’t worry about me, I’ve mostly recovered. I’ll be rooting for you guys. So, be sure to win, ok?”
Both Onion Knight and Terra nodded in confirmation. Zidane, on the other hand, diverted his eyes away from Rydia, unsure how to respond. Rydia gazed over towards his with a curious glance, feeling hopeful for him to succeed in proving his innocence.
Whilst Rydia was still unable to recall the incident, she believed that within the depths of her heart, Zidane was innocent.
She then took a seat close by, allowing the three to press forward.
Standing beside the Judge’s Podium, her eyes beaming with anticipation of the trial, was the Elvaan girl Prishe. She could barely keep still, her body bouncing up and down on the spot as she hummed out to distract her short attention span. The High Judge Gabranth was yet to make an appearance, so she knew she had to keep engaged on the task at hand.
Onion Knight rose up on top of the box and stood before the Defence Stand, sighing out as he kept a positive spirit about him whilst paying no mind of what was underneath. Terra stood to his side, seemingly used to the novelty of Onion Knight standing on a box. And Zidane comfortable sat beside the two, keeping to his Zen mode yet deciding to take off his headphones out of respect for his surroundings.
Then, the lights abruptly cut out, spotlight switching over towards the Judge’s Podium. Gabranth, his an expected intimidating aura surrounding him as he stepped forward, appeared before the crowd of students. Prishe, with all of her overexcitement brushed aside, stood tall and formal. She took a deep breath, and announced the High Judge’s presence.
“*Ahem*… All rise for the Honourable High Judge Gabranth!”
Gradually, students rose up from their seats, quietly finishing their conversations as they acted to the bailiff’s request. However, the limitations in her mind washing away, Prishe had a few words to say.
“Oh, for the love of … – GET YOUR DAMN ASSES OFF THOSE SEATS LIKE I ORDERED!!!” Prishe erupted, feeling somewhat identical to the previous court trail. “YOU CALL YOURSELVES DISSIDIA ACADEMY STUDENTS; I SAY YOU’RE ALL FAILURES!!! ‘F’s FOR EVERYONE HERE! IF I WAS THE HEADMISTRESS OF THIS PLACE, I WOULD-!”
DONK!
“Eep!” Prishe then squeaked as a spinning gavel flew towards her and smacked her squarely on the head, realising she had gotten carried away once again.
“Enough, Bailiff!” Gabranth groaned, finding her outburst irritating. “You may be seated.”
The crowd of students sat back in their seats in silence, their hearts racing simultaneously as they tried to recover. Prishe stepped aside and took her seat next to Professor Shantotto, soothing her head in agony whilst also feeling an intimidating glare from her boss.
“The court is now in session for the continuation of the trial of Zidane Tribal.” Gabranth announced loud and clear, his booming voice echoing the hall.
“The Prosecution is ready, Your Honour!” Warrior of Light formally announced in an instant, his mind ready for an all-out battle.
“The Defence is also ready, Your Honour!” Onion Knight followed on from his opponent, reminding himself not to fall behind.
Gabranth nodded to the two, “… Very Good.”
The crowd glanced to one another, noticing that the aura surrounding both the Defence and the Prosecution was intense and almost suffocating. Both Terra and Zidane could also feel this, gulping as they cleared their increasingly dry throats. Terra noticed the sudden atmosphere change the moment she rendezvoused with Onion Knight, knowing something seemed off about him yet preferred not to pry for the time being.
“Now then, let us not stray any longer.” Gabranth huffed patiently, neatening up his notes and papers as he spoke. “Prosecution! Your opening statement, please!”
“With pleasure, Your Honour!” Warrior of Light accepted gracefully with a bow, anticipating this moment. “During the previous Court Trial, we were enlightened that there was a likely ‘accomplice’ involved in the incident of Rydia’s assault and the theft of her Hair Ornament. The questions that had arisen during that time were: ‘Was Zidane Tribal the true culprit of the incident?’ ‘Who was this mysterious accomplice?’ And, ‘What was the purpose of the assault?’ among many, many others. In addition to this, our Detective for this case, Firion, had also been assaulted during the search of the security footage data whilst the trial was still commencing. This confirmed the suspicions of an accomplice, or even an alternate culprit to the case. So, during the span of the weekend, both I and the Defence were able to gather a significant evidence that will further us towards the truth, and so will be revealed over the course of this court trial.”
Onion Knight felt his body tense hesitantly, cautiously aware of his inclusion to Warrior of Light’s statement. There was no doubt in his mind that Warrior of Light was calling him out from his safe zone and throwing the gauntlet to the ground, prepared to clash with him without remorse.
However, the Prosecution had yet to finish.
“I, personally, was also able to gather key witnesses to the case of whom I believe will be able to clear the mystery that envelopes this case. However, before we can call out our first witness … I wish to enlighten the court on a significant discovery.”
Onion Knight and Terra glanced to one another with confused expression, unsure as to what the Prosecution was about to reveal. The crowd collectively began to whisper to one another, excitement growing as they spoke.
“Order.” Gabranth commanded in a casual tone, not feeling the need to raise his voice just yet.
There was silence.
“I have with me an item crucial to this case …” Warrior of Light began as he reached underneath the booth.
Onion Knight watched intensely; sweat beginning to seep over his temple as he stared. Terra also watched with careful eyes, her body shaken up by a feeling of uncertainty. However, what the two hadn’t noticed was Zidane’s reaction the moment Warrior of Light spoke his next line.
“One that I was able to find stashed away in the depths of Zidane Tribal’s locker …”
Onion Knight’s eyes widened upon realising what his rival was indicating towards, dreading the reveal. Terra clasped her hands to her mouth in suspense, fearing what was about to come. Zidane, however, went completely pale.
Warrior of Light held the item out for the court to see, his eyes lit with certain confidence.
The entire Hall gasped in complete shock.
“Behold! … The victim’s stolen Hair Ornament!”

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