Knights of the Old Republic: Squall Leonheart
Child of the Slum
A gentle breeze blew throughout the arid plain, seeming somewhat out of place as it graced the ravaged, death-like land. Refreshing as it was against the skin, the gentle breeze did nothing to lift the spirits of the teenager dressed in the uniform of the local military school.
The heels of the young man’s black steel-capped combat boots clicked softly against the desiccated dirt road as he walked.
He licked his parched lips, not for the first time. The sun beating down from above was getting to him as much as the exhaustion and arid, desert-like atmosphere surrounding the west-road entrance to the village of Winhill.
The young man stretched his arms out behind his head for a moment. The blue sleeves of his open jacket, matching his trousers, rode up as he stretched.
His deep, blue eyes closed tightly as his entire face contorted in a yawn. The fruitless excursion had taken a lot out of him. He was about ready to drop into a long, deep sleep. Luckily, he could see the trashed apartment complex rising up from the ground in the distance. The village entrance was close. He was almost there.
The golden brown dirt beneath his feet seemed to stretch on forever, no matter how close he assured himself he was to his destination.
Slowly, he passed over the drab, dead terrain and made his way through the unguarded gates. Walking between the abandoned, trashed buildings, the young man saw the smashed glass of the broken windows. Nobody had seen fit to fix them.
The village was desolate. It seemed that the brunet was the only person outside in the entire settlement. It wasn’t unusual. The days of children playing in the streets were over. It was simply too dangerous, even in the current hours of late afternoon.
It had been like this for over a year. For over a year, the Regional Council of Southern Galbadia had stood broken, disbanded, dead. For over a year, the higher authorities had neglected the south, preferring to spend their resources bolstering the technology of the other regions, of the borders. For over a year, the immortal spirit of Hyne had forsaken them, and his descendants had done nothing. For over a year, Their Queen had abandoned them, and allowed the south to fall into a disreputable, anarchic state. For over a year, their beloved Queen had allowed the once proud south to descend into the depths of chaos and depravity, allowed its many flourishing villages to become lawless slums.
They were pathetic, weak, and without mercy. All the good people had gone, leaving only scum. As they were now, the slums would be better off as pyres.
At the sound of somebody entering the house, the brunette instantly tensed. Rising to her feet, her arm reached slowly across the countertop, gripping the plastic handle of a small kitchen knife tightly in the palm of her hand. She soundlessly moved toward the door, weapon raised in front of her.
She stood rooted behind the door of the kitchen, waiting. She’d heard something, she was sure. She waited for the intruder to walk into her feeble ambush. She stood ready to strike, all the while hoping she wouldn’t have to.
Who was there? Was it a looter? A neighbour? Something worse? Ellone was scared to breathe, in case the potentially violent interloper heard her. She daren’t call out to him.
Slowly, laboriously, Ellone heard the footsteps creep closer toward her. He was entering the kitchen.
Ellone braced herself to lash at the intruder.
He entered the kitchen. He wore a white t-shirt beneath a blue jacket with matching pants and black combat boots – the uniform of the local school. The young man was slightly taller than her. Brown hair partially obscured his deep blue eyes. His head was hung. He walked with hands in pockets. He hadn’t noticed her.
The young woman barely managed to stop herself in time.
“Squall!” she complained. The teen merely looked at her. “You scared me to death. I almost stabbed you.” Squall shifted his focus to the tiny blade held in his sister’s hand. He raised an eyebrow. “I thought you were an intruder!”
“That knife isn’t much of a threat,” Squall uttered.
Ellone released a sigh and put down the knife.
“So, did you find anything? Don’t bother denying it. I know you went looking for her again Squall!” she added as a countermeasure to the boy’s silent attempt at feigned ignorance. “School ended hours ago. So? Any trace of her?”
Squall looked away, slowly shaking his head.
Ellone’s heart practically cracked all the way through at her younger brother’s dejected expression.
“Look,” she said sympathetically, “It’s alright. She’s gone without a trace. Nobody expects you to bring her back.”
“Just what about this is okay?” Squall snapped. His voice was quiet, but far from calm. It was low, dangerous, and seethed with buried emotion. “She’s out there somewhere, maybe dying.” Ellone was speechless. There were a thousand things she wanted to say, a thousand things she had to say, should have said, but no words of comfort came forth, and it was beyond too late before any would. “I have to find her.” Squall turned away from her. “It has to be me. Nobody else is going to lift a finger to help.”
“She’s been gone for over a year, Squall.”
The boy stared at his sister as though her hair had suddenly fallen out.
Ellone shook her head sadly. “There’s nothing you can do. She’s just… gone. We have to accept it and move on. People disappear every day. It’s just a fact of life. That’s-“
“That’s the way things are, right?” Squall finished her sentence, utterly glaring at her.
“Don’t look at me like that!” Ellone protested. She’d never seen such an expression of pure hatred before. Here was her younger brother, who had idolised her as a child, peering at her with unadulterated malice etched into every fibre of his being.
“You used to be strong,” he uttered, “when did you fall into this trap of complacency? When did you give up, give in?” Those eyes that had once been so full of love and hope now looked at her as though she were the lowest form of vermin imaginable. She couldn’t take it. To see that look on her brother’s face, directed at her of all people, literally tore her apart.
“What can I do?” Squall asked the silence.
“There’s nothing you can do. Move on with your life. It’s what she would have wanted.” Squall shook his head slowly.
“I can’t do that.”
“Squall, listen to me. She was our mother. She loved us more than anything. She wouldn’t want to see you this way. She wouldn’t want you to suffer like this.” Ellone stood behind her brother and slowly guided him over to the table. “You… we have to move on. Come, sit down. I baked a cake.”
Once again, Squall stared at his sister as though a vine had sprouted out of her back. She could have been speaking another language for all the sense she made.
“I don’t want any cake!” he vehemently hissed, spitting the word as though it were venom. Pushing his sister aside, he stormed out of the kitchen and hurriedly mounted the stairs, leaving Ellone to stare silently and the place at which he’d stood only moments ago.
“Oh Squall,” she lamented, her head shaking once more to express her sorrow. “You used to be such a happy child.”
A/N: Now I think about it, this story probably would have been better set in the FFVII universe. It probably fits a little better, considering the slum vibe. Unfortunately, I pictured the FFVIII characters instead. Squall in particular, especially later on. I may do a companion story or a crossover at some point, maybe have Midgar as a neighbouring country to Galbadia and Esthar. If I do, it’ll probably be a prequel.
A/N: I’ve decided to add character Bio’s. This won’t be anything new, for those reading Angel of Decadence. It will be similar, though somewhat different. It’s main purpose will be to summarise each characters alignment and powers/weapon specialisations. Especially later on, when I get further into Star Wars territory.
Name: Squall Leonheart
Eye Colour: Blue-Grey
Alignment: -20 (Neutral-Dark)