It was a time of peace and prosperity. I thought we'd live happily ever after, but as with all peaceful times, trouble lurks over the horizon. We were all on board the Garden, Quistis, Zell, Selphie, Irvine, Rinoa, and myself, crossing over the Galbaldian continent. A sudden storm spread throughout the land. We thought it was just some passing storm, when it really was something more. Continuing further into the storm, small shadows started popping up all over the Garden. One after another everyone lost his or her heart to the small shadows. But the one that hurt the most was when Rinoa lost hers. I fought, frantically, to get to her in time, shouting, "Rinoa!"...but I was too late. I fell to my knees and just held Rinoa in my arms, hoping she'd just wake up. Suddenly, I went into a frenzy and I drew up my gunblade and charged at the small shadows, swinging and killing in the process. I fought, valiantly, but to no avail. The shadows just kept coming, so I had no other alternative but to flee the battle. I ran out the front gate, hoping that the shadows were only inside the Garden... but I was wrong as I ducked just in time when a shadow lunged at me. Without even thinking about where I was heading, I just ran. I started running through a desert, with the Desert Prison on the horizon. My foot, suddenly, sank into the sand, then... I was pulled under. Luckily, it wasn't too far of a drop. When I stood up from landing on my stomach, there was this keyhole, large enough for a human to fit through. There were only two alternatives at this point: enter the black keyhole or lose my heart to the shadows. I wasn't about to have to same fate as my friends, so I entered to keyhole. Then, there was darkness.
When I came to, I was in a foreign world. Behind me, the keyhole faded away. I knew then that I would never get back home. Being a member of SeeD, I couldn't just sit there and procrastinate, so I stood up from my sitting position and walked out of the water that I landed in. The place looked like a city of some sort. Instead of just standing around, I started exploring, like a true SeeD member should. I walked up a ramp and crossed the walkway to a huge door, in which I entered. It was then; that I was ambushed by the same shadows that stalked me back home. My gunblade was already at the ready. The shadows started coming towards me and I gripped my gunblade tighter, but it turned out that I didn't need to fight in the first place. A pinwheel flew through all of the shadows, killing every last one. "That takes care of those Heartless." A voice had said.
A young female jumped over a display case. "Hey, are you alright?" she asked me.
"I'm... fine." I replied, returning my gunblade to my side.
"You look new here. What's your name?" she asked.
"I'm S... uh... Leon." I told her.
I just couldn't bear to say the name that held the shame of failing to save my home... my love. "Leon, huh? I'm the great ninja Yuffie. Nice to meet you. I'll take you to see Aerith. She'll fill you in on the details." Yuffie said.
Yuffie led me through the streets, but I just had to stop to ask, "Accessory shop? What's that?"
"Where you buy accessories of course. They enhance your power." Yuffie replied.
We continued walking, through a door that said "Third District." She led me into an abandoned house... well, almost abandoned. Inside, was another young woman, who turned around upon our entry. "Yuffie, who's this?" She asked.
"This is Leon. He's new here." Yuffie replied.
"Could you tell what's going on around here?" I had asked.
So, Aerith told me about everything. About the Heartless, Ansem, the Keyblade, and the Keyblade Bearer. I sat down upon hearing everything. I know I have to worry about the danger at hand, but I just can't stop thinking about my friends... about Rinoa. Will I ever see them again? "You look like something's troubling you. What's wrong?" Yuffie asked me.
"Everything." I responded. "My name's Squall, not Leon, but... just call me Leon. 'Squall' has too big of a shame on him."
"...Maybe you should take a walk around town. That'll get your mind off of things." Aerith had suggested.
So, I took up the offer. I left the shack and decided to take the long way back to the First District. I was still thinking about all that had happened, but I started to feel better already... a little better, maybe. Once I reached the First District, I rounded to corner of the Accessory shop. This boy was just standing there looking at me. Then, I noticed that he had the Keyblade and decided to test his strength with it. We went head to head. He wasn't too great a fighter. The fight only took about five minutes. Yuffie came up behind me and saw the whole thing. We couldn't just leave the Keyblade bearer lying there where the Heartless could get him, so we took him to a safe haven. Once the boy awoke, Yuffie had to tease me by saying, "I think you might of overdone it, Squall."
I told her to call me Leon. After our dramatic introductions, we filled the young boy in on the details. I just couldn't believe that HE was the Keyblade bearer. A little kid, who will defeat the Heartless. Speaking of the Heartless, we were ambushed by one. I told Yuffie to run away and Sora to join me in the fight. What a slow boy. I don't know how long I was waiting before he got to the First District. I told him to just look for the boss and not bother with the small fries. Ten, maybe fifteen, minutes had passed when Yuffie and I found Sora safe and sound... but he was with two newcomers. They exchanged their reasons for being in this place: Donald and Goofy were looking for their lost king and Sora was looking for his lost friends. So... Sora lost his friends as well. But unlike me, he believes that there is still hope. Donald and Goofy asked Sora to go with them, as an extra party member I suppose. Sora hesitated, but I made the decision for him. He'll be able to look for his friends better if he journeys, so I told Sora to go with them.
We made it back to the First District in one piece. Sora and his buddies were preparing for their big journey. Yuffie, Aerith, and I each gave the group a gift. (Aerith gave mine.) At that moment, my heart started aching again from the loss I had suffered. I turned around and walked away with my head down, just walking aimlessly. Once I rounded the corner of the Accessory shop, I bumped into a man with a white T-shirt on and hair that sort of resembled Zell's. "Hey, ain't you gonna apologize for that?" the man said.
"Sorry... I was distracted." I replied.
Yuffie made her appearance at this point. "Hey, Cid! Don't worry about him. He's new here. His name's Leon." She had said.
"Please excuse me." I pardoned myself.
After some time walking, I came across a closed off channel with a strange red mark under water near the gate. As I stood there gazing at the mark, Aerith stepped up behind me. "That's a trinity mark. If you'd like, I'll show you how it's done." She said.
"...Fine." I responded.
Cid and Yuffie, both came to help Aerith. Apparently, this trinity mark would only react to a party of three. All three of them ran full speed at the gate and the gate just vanished. "That'll do, guys. I think he gets the picture, right, Leon?" Aerith spoke out.
"So you need a party of three and perform a specific task for an opening to appear. Got it." I understood, as I walked into the entrance, followed by Aerith.
Inside, it was a hollow underground cavern, filled with water except for a small rock island with stairs that led upwards. I swam over to the island, climbed up, and sat down with my feet in the water, just staring down. Aerith sat down next to me. "Leon... it really looks like you're in turmoil. Would you tell me what's wrong?" She had said.
"I... I failed my friends. I couldn't protect them from the Heartless. ...I failed." I told her.
"You know... your world isn't the only one that was attacked. Mine was, as well. Almost everyone in Traverse town has lost their world. But, you know... if Sora completes the will of the Keyblade, all will return to normal. All the worlds destroyed by the Heartless will return. It'll be like it never happened. So, we should just hope that Sora doesn't fail." Aerith explained.
"So we have to trust some kid!?" At this point, I was standing up. "He doesn't even have the strength... or the experience for that matter!"
"Weren't we all weak at some point in our lives?" Aerith asked.
I calmed down a little. "...I guess you have a point. This is Sora's story... not mine. But there must something I can do."
"There is. Sora will need guidance. We've been through a lot. Let's make sure Sora does his job." Aerith said.
"Right. Then, let's get to work!" I shouted, as I drew my gunblade.
Aerith stood up. Clearly, she was shocked. "What are you doing?"
"I have to keep my strength up. Let's go."
Aerith drew out her... staff? We had a very good practice battle, but she tired out to quickly for my tastes. I, eventually, told her to sit back and watch. I trained alone from that point. Somehow... it felt strangely lonely. With Irvine twirling his gun or Zell beating his fists in the air or Selphie nagging Irvine for showing off or Quistis cracking her whip or Rinoa telling me to lighten up. I was alone once again. But not for long. Sora will complete what he set out to do. This will all be just a passing daydream, soon enough.
A few days had passed, but I wasn't about to stop training. I got another visit from Sora and his buddies. Apparently, they're looking up to me for some reason. They wanted to know about a gummi piece that they had found on their travels. I'm not a gummi expert, but Cid is, so Aerith and I pointed the trio in that direction. Before they left, I had to give Sora a gift. A gift that I had found when I was young. I figured it was time to put my past behind me and move on. Besides, they'd probably find a better use for it than I would. That was the last time I saw the trio. For days past, I had trained endlessly. Eventually, I came to a point where I figured it was time to stop moping around and test out my strength. I left the cavern and back to the First District. I looked around for Cid. (Because he wasn't working in the Accessory shop.) Luckily, Cid was just behind the Accessory shop, owning a new gummi shop. "Cid... are there any spare gummi ships around?" I asked.
"Nah, I ain't got no ships, but I got pieces. You can build your own ship." He replied.
"Sorry, but I'm not a mechanic. I need a ship now."
"Hang on! I was just kidding ya. There's a ship just out the main gate. Here's the starter key." He said as he tossed me the key.
"Thanks." With that, I went out the main gate and looked around for the ship, when I realized Cid didn't tell me what the ship looked like. What a two-timer. After many tries at trying the key in each of the ships, and punches for that matter, I found the ship that I had the key for. But... how do you pilot a gummi ship? If only Selphie were here, then this would be easy. But she's not here, so I'm on my own. I sat down in the pilot's seat and gazed at the controls. There was a switch that said "AUTO-PILOT", so I pressed it. Then, a map appeared on the screen before me that showed three worlds: Traverse town, Wonderland, and Coliseum. The coliseum seemed like a good place to test my strength, so I selected it. Before I knew it, the gummi ship was off the ground and speeding through hyperspace. It came to a sudden stop next to the coliseum. Obviously, autopilot wasn't set to land, so I grabbed the lever and pushed it forward, much like flying a Ragnarok. The controls are really sensitive. The gummi ship fell from the sky like a huge boulder and skidded across an area of sand and crashed into a wall beside the entrance to the coliseum. Thankful for being alive, I climbed out the wreckage only to see a man with a blue cape leering down at me. "The was one heck of a crash. Are you alright?" The man asked.
"Fine. Just dandy." I replied.
"What brings you here?"
"I came to enter one of the tournaments. Is there enough room for an extra person?"
"The more, the merrier. I'll get Phil to sign you up. Which cup do you want to compete for: Phil cup, Pegasus cup, Hercules cup, or Platinum cup?"
"Which is the hardest?"
"Are you sure you can handle it?"
"Don't worry. I'm an experienced fighter."
"Then, you'd want to enter the Platinum cup. Let's go and tell Phil." Both of us walk side by side into the coliseum. There was a short... man? Goat? We walked over to the short goatman. "Phil, we have another contestant." The blue caped man said.
"Name?" Phil asked.
"It's Leon." I answered.
"So, you wanna compete with the best, huh? Think you can handle it?"
Not this again. "I'll be fine." Do I look THAT weak?
"You're all signed up. Just enter the arena when you're ready."
"Thanks." I wasn't about to waste any time, so I entered right away.
I stood in the center of the arena, waiting for my opponent. Nobody came. Is there anybody that made it to the Platinum cup? Just then, a figure flew past me at such an outstanding speed that it knocked me back on my back. I sat up and looked for whatever it was and saw a platinum-haired man standing with his back to me, holding an extremely long sword. I stood up and called out, "Are you my opponent?"
The man, slowly, turned around and stared at me with eyes that strangely glowed green. "SEPHIROTH!!!" was shouted from the stands and a blonde spiky- haired man leaped on to the arena. "If you don't mind, I'll join you in this fight. Name's Cloud." Said the blonde man.
"Leon. Let's do it!" I shouted as I drew up my gunblade.
Sephiroth went into a blur and flew between Cloud and I. The handle of Sephiroth's sword must have hit me because I found myself sitting on the ground. When I stood up, I seen Cloud's sword locked with Sephiroth's. I charged in and brought my gunblade up between the two. The both separated and Sephiroth charged at me. I brought my blade up to meet his, but he disappeared. I saw Cloud shouting something but my ears were ringing. The next thing I knew I was struck in the back and sent flying toward the stands. This is it... a ring out. I've lost. Or have I? I aimed an Aero spell down at the ground to send me airborne. I performed a flip and landed behind Sephiroth. As quickly as I could, I swung my gunblade around, but with Sephiroth's speed, he moved at the speed of light and I ended up slashing Cloud, who was, also, trying to hit Sephiroth. Cloud fell and I was left standing. I stood head to head with Sephiroth, just leering at him and he at me. I knew my speed couldn't match his, so I quickly cast haste on myself. Sephiroth flew towards me at a lightning fast speed, but with haste cast, I could see him. Right when he was right on top of me, I performed a cartwheel and dodged his attack. As I landed on my feet, I raised my gunblade up and slashed Sephiroth in the ribs. He stood still, until I withdrew my gunblade. Sephiroth's limp form dropped like a brick. Cloud started muttering something that I couldn't understand. Suddenly, Sephiroth's body started standing up. I stared in amazement. Sephiroth started changing. Not just his body, but his stats as well. "He's transforming! Be careful, Leon!" Cloud, finally, got out.
I knew it was now or never. I searched through my pockets, rummaging through them until I found an Aura stone. I used to aura stone to enhance my limit breaks. Sephiroth had finished transforming, but I had to power up first. Then, Sephiroth started doing something, like he was summoning. I knew I was done for if I didn't hurry. Sephiroth finished summoning and a huge super nova started heading toward me. I was just about powered up, but I couldn't make it in time. I thought I was finished, but I was shoved out of the way by a wounded Cloud. He took the hit for me. I couldn't let his effort be in vain, so I held up my gunblade and used my power to send it through it to use Lionheart. Luckily, haste was still in place, so I knew this wouldn't miss. Then, I charged at Sephiroth and knocked him into the air. I jumped up after him and unleashed a flurry of attacks on him, 18 times to be exact for a total of 179,982 points of damage. Nobody can survive Lionheart. I landed on my feet with my gunblade stretched out before me. Sephiroth's form dropped to the arena floor once again. I stood at the ready, just in case Sephiroth wasn't quite dead. When I was certain that he was finished I ran over to Cloud.
I dropped to one knee and grabbed Cloud's shoulders and shook him. "Cloud! Wake up, Cloud, wake up!" I shouted.
When there was no response, I stood up and used a Full Life spell on him. Cloud began to stir and, finally, he sat up. "Hey, Cloud. Thanks." I, actually, meant it. I would've been dead if it wasn't for him.
"No problem. But don't make me do that again." Cloud joked.
I smiled. "Okay, Cloud."
All of a sudden, Cloud started to disappear, along with some others that were sitting in the stands. "Cloud!" I shouted, but he had already gone. "What's going on!?"
Then, I started disappearing. "What is this!?"
When I was completely gone, it was like I was traveling through hyperspace. When the 'show' ended, I was back at the garden, at the front gate to be exact. "Sora must have done it." I said.
I saw each of the students standing to their feet, but I was really looking for my friends. I found them in front of the library. Rinoa was looking around, obviously looking for me. I went up behind her and put my arms around her waist. She jumped because she wasn't expecting it. She looked up over her right shoulder and smile at me, happy that I was all right. "Hey, wait a sec. Where are those shadow thingies?" Zell asked.
"Those 'shadow thingies' are called Heartless. You won't have to worry about them anymore." I answered.
"You killed them all by yourself?" Quistis asked.
"No. It was done by a boy named Sora. Unfortunately, you can't meet him. He's gone." I said.
"Where'd he go?" Selphie asked.
"Back to where he belongs." I answered.