Chapter 3: The Separating

 

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   Freya looked both ways before crossing the hall. She had learned her lesson long ago when she had at one time (and only one time) committed the tremendous error of merely walking across, but then a dark blur in the rather suspicious shape of Zidane had swooped across the hall, screaming something in that weird language that only he could pronounce. Seemingly, he had been suspended from the rafters by a rope of some sort, but then, only God really knows just what he was indeed swinging from. He had come alarmingly close to Freya’s person (and the floor, and later, her fist), and since then she had made a point of checking. She crossed the hall, but not casually. Every muscle in her body was tensed, and they stayed that way until she was on the other side.

   Freya had received a letter earlier that morning. After she had read it, she was suddenly struck with immense fatigue. The letter in question had requested her presence at the ‘Court Room’. It had been dubbed quaintly so by none other than the monkey boy himself. That’s what it looked like, and so, that was what it had been hailed as for the past few months. Actually, it had been Auron who had found the place. He had told Freya about it when she had wandered into the kitchen, and he explained his discovery to her as she munched on a cracker. When she had inquired as to how he had discovered it, he seemed to hint at avoiding Trish, for some reason. Freya, for a moment, had thought this odd, but then she remembered that even she wanted to avoid Trish sometimes. And so, Freya had later gone to see just what it looked like. It was a very ominous place. It had a huge ceiling, with wooden floors. It also had tall, stone walls; the slightest noise caused sharp echoes to bounce from them.

   Freya decided she might as well go get a drink. She would have to tolerate that egotistical Dante. And Cid. Ugh, Cid. She hated having put up with him. But now, she was going to have to endure both of them. In the same room. Why? Why her? The two had so many atrocious similarities; they were loud, smelly, and stupid. Yes, a drink sounded good. It would dull the pain.

   Kimahri was also having a beer when she entered the kitchen. He was the only one in the place. Even Cid had vacated the room. Freya glanced at the huge blue cat. She wasn’t afraid of him. ‘Cautious’ might be right, but that was pushing it. It wasn’t that age-old thing about cats and mice. It wasn’t. It was just that he was about three times her size, at least. Where she was slight of build with sinewy muscles on almost every inch of her body, Kimahri Ronso was huge, to say the least. And with enough muscles to rival Barret’s, he was certainly formidable enough. He was too quiet for a man, and he otherwise just didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the Rainbow Soldiers. Katt had rudely managed to point out some similarities, though, at the breakfast table. They both used spears. They were both unusually silent (Katt had ignored the rather cutting remark Freya had thrown at her that silence was not always a bad thing). And they both had white hair. Rinoa had perked up suddenly at Katt’s last comparison. “Hey,” she had remarked innocently. “Dante has white hair too.” This, unfortunately for Freya, had set almost everyone in the room into gales of laughter. Now, this wasn’t necessarily good for Katt. She had rolled out of her chair and onto the floor, guffawing a touch unladylike. She had hit the floor with a thump, and she had remained there until Freya had made a point of stepping on her accidentally when she had headed out the door.

   Freya realized that she was just trying to postpone the inevitable. Forcing herself for the second time that day to keep on track with her life, Freya entered the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator and got a ‘cold one’, as Dante so quaintly put it. She opened it, and started to gulp it down. Kimahri watched her for a moment, and the said quietly, “I see you’re not looking forward to the, ah, events in the near future.”

   Freya slammed the empty can on the counter and crumpled it in her claws. “No, I’m not. I don’t see why Auron wants my opinion on the matter of division. He knows I’ll go wherever I please. So does everyone else, for that matter. Zidane does the same thing. You walk about like the place belonged to you, and Auron himself walks around like he’s in a perpetual bad mood, so of course everyone lets him just walk everywhere. And woe unto anyone who tries to stop him. How ironic that he’s the one hosting this meeting.”

   “You’re babbling,” Kimahri growled, not having much patience with anyone who prattled on about nothing.

   “Yeah, well, get used to it. It’s a free country; I can do what I want. Try and stop me,” Freya said menacingly.

   Kimahri sighed, getting up. “I’m leaving now. I suggest you do the same.” Upon seeing the stubborn look set on Freya’s face, he grunted and started explaining to her as they walked towards the Court Room. “Oh, come on. It won’t be as terrible as you think. You probably won’t even have to say anything. Auron himself said that he wanted everyone present so that everyone would at least be aware of what was going on. Later on, no one could pin him down for not knowing the way of things, and him having to go over it all again. Auron doesn’t strike me as one who likes to repeat himself.” As if someone had suddenly pressed a button, Kimahri stopped talking and walked on in silence.

   Freya considered all of this. Maybe he was right. Maybe things weren’t as bad as they seemed. She would just go there, find a nice secluded corner, and wait out the storm.

   Upon entering the said Court Room, Freya’s ears were immediately greeted by Dante’s suddenly whiny tone: “…you? Huh? Why do you get to call the council to order? Why not me?” Dante’s voice by itself was a very loud thing; perhaps he didn’t realize that and just how much it was magnified by the echoes. Freya could feel her migraine coming back.

   Auron replied calmly. His words were almost unintelligible through the layers of echoes. “Because I am perfectly capable of handing you your head if you dispute me.”

   Dante didn’t even stop to think about what Auron had just said. “Oh yeah?” He demanded impudently.

   Auron didn’t even deign to reply.

   Dante, in his usual thickheaded way, kept prodding. “Uh, Auron, you were supposed to say, ‘Yeah!’”

   Freya, shaking her head, just kept walking to her seat. She had spotted a place in a secluded corner, but Rinoa was bouncing in her chair and waving her arms frantically for her to sit next to her. And so, Freya was marching resolutely to her spot when a fat, juicy spitball slapped her in the back of the head. She whirled around, glaring dangerously for the culprit. Dante and Cid were snickering like schoolchildren until they saw her looking at them brutally, and then they pointed to and innocent Cloud. Who was, at that moment, looking bored but nonetheless directing all of his attention to Auron and Trish. Freya advanced on Dante and Cid while they kept pointing energetically. As she neared, Cloud looked, and, thinking that she was coming for him, waved his hands in front of him defensively and pointed to his accusers. When Freya didn’t slow, he finally ducked under the table. She stomped past his spot and advanced towards her victims. They squeaked and scurried to hide behind the living tower that was Barret. He glanced at them, but otherwise ignored the two. Of course, none of this stopped Freya. She stuck her spear behind Barret and waved it around quickly. This time they really did squeak. When Cid jumped out, she grabbed him by his collar and ground the humongous spitball first in his face and then dropped it down his shirt. After this, she shoved him forcefully towards Dante, causing him to topple over onto the floor. Dusting her hands, she began to stroll to her seat next to Rinoa. She saw that all of the guys had clustered together and were chuckling and laughing amongst themselves. She knew that putting Trish in charge of handling things had been a bad idea. From the start, Trish had wanted to lay down the line just as forcibly as possible, with full knowledge that if she did, the Rainbow Soldiers would dig their heels in and refuse to be budged. Vaguely, Freya recalled a bit of Trish’s speech:

   “…request that you guys hand it all over to us with no more of this foolish nonsense of you having all the same equal rights as us girls do.” While Freya rolled her eyes exasperatedly at Trish, and the demon looked back at her and shrugged as if she didn’t have a clue what was going on. Frankly, Freya thought as she sat down next to Rinoa, she couldn’t blame the childish way the RS were acting. In fact, it was a laughing matter; she would have responded the same way had one of the guys stood up and said the same thing.

   Well, let’s all hope Freya likes to laugh.

   “We,” said Link, who had stepped up to voice the guys’ opinion, “the Rainbow Soldiers, consisting of every man in the castle, have decided you can shove this ‘generous offer’ up your collective asses. It should be a well-known fact to all you girls, that, ahem, All Your Base Are Belong To Us!!!” Link must have liked the way his voiced bounced off the walls. “Thank you. You have the floor, Trish.” As he sat down grinning, the rest of the boys applauded noisily. But there was a momentary silence from the girls. Key word: momentary.

   But the irony of the situation was too much for Freya. She burst out laughing, her chair falling over from the sudden explosion. Just barely managing to support herself, she pounded her fist on the table, completely ignoring her worsening headache. At least she wasn’t the only one laughing. Malon was chuckling, Garnet would’ve been laughing, but Link had caught her when she was sipping her water, which had sprayed over the table. Aeris was leaning on Tifa, both giggling so much they were running out of air, but that was nothing compared to Lulu and Katt. Katt had been returning from a trip to the ladies room, and had missed a step at Link’s proposal. Fortunately, Lulu had been standing at the time to back Trish up, but was reduced to a slouching position from her laughter at the elf’s words. Lulu had just managed to catch Katt from a graceless fall. They were both guffawing so hard that it might just happen that both of them would suffer an unceremonious drop. But they were small potatoes next to Fara. She had been reduced to tears and wheezing, and was about to go into cardiac arrest. Her chair had scooted out from under her, and it was clear that the muscles in her legs had turned to water. They shook dangerously and she collapsed to the floor with a thump.

   Unbelievably, Trish had managed to keep a straight face through the whole scene. Finally, she spoke. “Somehow, I knew that this meeting would boil down to an insulting embarrassment for both sides.” She heaved an agitated sigh. “You being the stubborn, unreasonable, pig-headed, stupid-assed men *cough-children-cough* that you are.” Ah, yes. Trish had such an elegant way of dealing with things.

   As thick as Cid was, it didn’t take long for insults to register. Even if he didn’t know what they meant. “Why you stuck up…” He began, but Auron cut him off smoothly.

   “Now, now children, there’s no need for all this pointless bickering. At least not in my presence. All you shitty-diapered babies can go scream at each other another time. For now, though, there is a boundary line to be decided upon.” Gesturing patiently, he added, “Shall we?”

   Trish was not amused by his tone. “We shall.”

   The laughter had finally died away for both sides, and almost everyone was enthusiastic to get started. Almost everyone. This meant that Freya, Auron, Red XIII, and Kimahri were all unenthusiastic. They found themselves wishing they were anywhere but there at that particular moment. The following hours were painful, to say the least, and seemed like weeks dragging by. Freya actually though she could feel bruises appearing on her rear from sitting so much. Apparently, Auron at least felt the same way.

   “All right, that’s ENOUGH!!” He bellowed, causing everyone in the room to stop talking/yelling at each other and look at Auron. “Good. Now that I have your undivided attention…” He stopped, glaring at Zidane quietly. The monkey boy was amusing himself by seeing just how far he could shove a pencil up his nose. He yelped suddenly, indicating that the pencil had reached its limit. Squall couldn’t help himself; he leaned over and softly asked Zidane if he had managed to touch his brain. “Zidane, if you know what’s good for you, you will look at me when I’m talking to you.” Something between a chirp and a squeak jerked out of the offender in question; his head jerked to look directly at Auron and no one else. “That’s better. Now, don’t let your laughably short attention spans wander just yet,” Auron put a slight emphasis on the word as he saw Cid trying to beat Zidane’s record with the pencil. Cid looked up. “I have another announcement to make…”

   “For God’s sake, just spit it out already!” Dante interrupted rudely.

   “……I’ll deal with you later.” Auron said with deceptive calmness. Then he added a few things that Freya couldn’t agree with more. “Now before anyone else decides they want their limbs shortened by about three feet, I wish to say that I will handle the issues of the placement of the Rainbow Soldiers’ Gym and the exact size of the Femme Fatales’ Health Club at a later date. Preferably after I’ve had a few drinks and about a days rest and recuperation. Until then, all conversations concerning territorial rights are to be handled by my agent, Sir Sword-Up-Yer-Ass, Esquire. Thank you for your cooperation.” It was right about then that Freya stopped listening.

   She wasn’t the only one to drag herself out of the Court Room right then. Every one of the other girls followed, looking like they had been beaten with clubs and bricks. Malon actually had to wake Rinoa up to tell her that it was time to go.

   The Femme Fatales trooped up to their lounge and slumped down in chairs and couches. Some even went on to bed the meeting had been so tiring. Trish seemed to be the only on not exhausted. She sat quietly, with her head propped on her fist, a look of deep contemplation on her face. Coco, who was still working on her World Teleportation Device, came trotting down the brief flight of stairs at the back of the room that led to her ‘laboratory’.

   “What’s wrong with Trish?” Coco had been the only one not to attend the meeting, and so was just as perky as ever. This also meant that none of the guys knew about her yet. She had also made it clear (after seeing just how revolting the men could be) that she wanted it to stay that way for as long as possible.

   Trish shook herself and looked up. “Um, nothing. I’m just trying to figure out how us girls can somehow, mysteriously, wind up with more of this castle is our possession than equally balanced between both sides, or, worse, the boys having more than us.” She returned to her plotting.

   “Uh huh. Yeah, well, you have a nice time. I’ll be back in a minute,” Coco said and turned to leave.

   “Where will you be?” Garnet asked, not really interested.

   “Oh, I’m gonna be in the garage. I’m out of some parts, and I need a few tools. This is turning out to be a really big project,” Coco added eagerly.

   “Wait, you can’t go down there,” said Malon. “The guys will see you. I thought that you wanted to keep your presence here secret.”

   Coco thought a moment. It was true that she wanted to keep hidden, lest the boys find out about her project. That really would be a disaster. They would utterly obliterate the WTD, especially that one Dante. He would be helped by Cid, and possibly Zidane. And who knows who else would step in to help destroy a month’s work of sweat and ingenuity. But she was really hurting for some parts. “Well, I just won’t let them see me. They never look around at their surroundings when they’re down there, anyway.” Coco had had small security cameras set up all around the castle to monitor everything. “I’ll just slip in, nab the stuff, and dash out before they see me. Simple as that.”

   “Suit yourself,” said Lulu, who was leaning back on the couch for a nap.

   Freya watched as Coco hurried out into the hall with a list in her hand. She wondered just how big this project was, and if it would actually work after all the time and effort the precocious bandicoot had put into it. Freya didn’t bother thinking to hard on the matter, though. She was tired, and was going to take a nap if it killed her.

 

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