Chapter 5: Suspicion
“So, let me go through this yet again.” Zell said, for what was probably the tenth time he had brought it up in the past few days since they had left Arcanus’ world. “Along with searching for that creep in black, we’re also going to be looking for these people called Terra, Aqua and Ven…”
“Who, it should be said again; nobody has any idea of where they are.” Lulu added in snidely. Zell tried to ignore Lulu when she was like that, which was almost always when they did something she didn’t like.
“Yeah, and on the way, we might find your new friend’s family?” Zell finished.
“Pretty much.” Omega replied nonchalantly, and the creature called Stitch, who was sitting in the chair right next to Omega, made a noise of approval.
“Well, it’s not a terrible idea, but….”
“It just happens to be impossible.” Lulu said.
“No, it’s just highly unlikely to happen anytime soon.” Omega said. “There is a difference.”
“Barely.” Lulu said, eying Stitch with distaste, which Stitch returned by growling at her. “And why did we have to bring him?”
“Well, I suppose it’s because I don’t know what they look like.” Omega said flatly. “So having someone along who does would do wonders.” Lulu scoffed at that. “And besides, I have a feeling that he would have just snuck on anyway.”
“That’s true, we didn’t know he was aboard since Traverse Town till just a few hours ago.” Zell said. “’sides, it’s not as if he can’t pull his own weight around. He might be useful.”
“Definitely useful!” Stitch said, followed by something in his own language that was probably the same thing. “Stitch very useful!”
Omega held out his hands in a ‘there you go’ kind of gesture. “Well, if there’s nothing else, I’m going to go rest up before we go to this first world.” He got up to leave without even looking at either of them. Stitch looked at both of them or glared at in Lulu’s case before following after him. Lulu watched them leave, then planted herself in the empty seat that Omega had been sitting and rubbed her forehead.
“This is the worst.” she said through her teeth.
“I don’t know, after seeing what he was capable of earlier, I think he’ll at least carry his own weight.” Zell said.
“That’s not what I’m concerned about.” Lulu replied as she crossed her arms.
“Really? ‘cuz it seems like it.” Zell replied in confused sort of voice. This response got him a very nasty looking glare from Lulu. The kind that screamed how much she wished to set him on fire. “Uhhhh, I mean, what is it you are concerned with?”
“This is too convenient.” Lulu said. “It doesn’t make sense that he would show up just when Omega gets that Keyblade. And he happens to know some others who have it? How do we know he’s not some sort of spy?”
“We don’t.” Zell simply said. “But that’s just a bigger reason to keep an eye on him, isn’t it?”
Zell looked at her for a few seconds before he turned back to piloting, leaving Lulu to her own thoughts.
Iris had never thought the day would come, but it finally had!
The day they would leave Traverse Town! Something she had been hoping for quite some time, almost for as long as they had been in this town even. It was a nice and peaceful town, Heartless attacks notwithstanding, but Iris had always wanted to see more of the worlds. It was a big reason for her deciding to join SeeD, after all!
Traverse Town was a strange world in many ways. By its nature as a safe haven, new areas and buildings would just appear whenever large amounts of people did. Districts and alleys would show up one day to accommodate the refugees. And along with them, new caverns and secrets that had yet to be explored. In a way, Iris would miss exploring this world and seeing what new things would appear. But she had always hoped to travel through the stars in search of other worlds more.
And now that it was here… she couldn’t help but feel more anxious than excited.
After the destruction of Trabia, everything had been a large mess. While not the largest of the worlds that SeeD were stationed on, it was still a major location and with hundreds of students and teachers gone, it was a large loss for the already struggling organization.
“I’m sure you weren’t expecting to be sent off like this any time soon, but given the current situation.” Instructor Quistis Trepe said. Despite her professional posture and tone, she looked tired. Iris could sympathize, but knew it wouldn’t be appropriate to point it out.
“We understand, Instructor.” Hope replied. “We’ve got everything together yesterday.”
“Which was very efficient.” Instructor Trepe said. “I will be heading back to Balamb after you leave. I will be taking on a new class there. You will need to operate without instructors for once.”
The three of them said nothing for a moment before Irvine spoke up. “Oh, I don’t think that will be an issue at all as long I’m around.”
“Very humble of you.” Instructor Trepe retorted. “Still, I do expect constant reports. And since you have everything under control, I expect them from you, Irvine.” Iris and Hope only barely managed to hold in their giggles as Irvine looked like he was about to fall on his face. The Instructor looked like she was about to start laughing too, but was trying to remain professional. “Anyway, dismissed.”
Iris, Hope and Irvine saluted and made to leave when Iris stopped. “You guys go on ahead, I’d like to ask the Instructor something.” she said.
“What more do you need to know?” Hope asked her.
“Nothing you need to worry about.” Iris replied as she turned back to follow after their instructor. Though it was only after they had gone that she spoke up.
“Instructor, do you have a moment?”
The older woman looked back at Iris with an amused expression on her face. “There really isn’t a need for formalities, Iris. I’m not a particularly good instructor, I feel.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that.” Iris said.
“That’s nice of you to say, but I’m afraid that they don’t agree.” Trepe replied.
“But you just said-“ Iris started to say, but Trepe quickly interrupted her.
“It’s a complicated issue, Iris.” Trepe said and then as if to change the subject quickly, added, “You had a question?”
Iris hesitated. She wanted to know what Trepe had meant, but she knew that trying to press the issue would probably only land her in some kind of trouble. “I just wanted to know if there was anything else we needed to know before heading out.”
Trepe looked at her carefully. “Everything you need to know you’ve been informed of.”
Iris felt her jaw tighten, nodded and then saluted her. “Yes, Instructor.”
“Just Quistis is fine.” Was the reply Trepe gave, but Iris just smiled and shook her head. She had too much respect for the Instructor to do so… and a lot of misgivings.
“So, what did Trepe have to say?” Hope asked as Iris rejoined them. They had been waiting around the corner, just out of earshot so as to not arouse suspicion from their instructor.
“She definitely is holding back on us.” Iris noted dryly. Then she added in a low tone, “But I think she was trying to let me in on it discreetly.”
“That would make sense.” Hope nodded as he put his hand to his mouth. “To my knowledge, we’re the only SeeD members left on this world, but if she’s being cautious.”
“Hold on.” Irivine chimed in as he looked back. “This isn’t the best place to talk.”
Iris and Hope nodded in agreement.
They had chosen an alley to talk in and after checking that it was abandoned, continued their conversations.
“So Instructor Trepe might be facing some kind of dismissal?” Hope said. “But why?”
“I’m not sure, but I think she might have done something that the higher ups didn’t like.” Iris said.
“This doesn’t exactly mean it has anything to do with Trabia.” Irvine commented. He was leaning against the wall with his arms folded. “It could be something else.”
“It’s a little too convenient that it’s coming not so soon after, though.” Hope said. “It might not be due to the incident, but it’s still connected.”
“No one really knows what happened though.” Irvine retorted. “We just know that Heartless attacked the world.”
“That’s not quite accurate, though.” Hope said and he looked a little darker now.
“What do you mean?” Iris asked him.
“Well, I managed to get into some records.” Hope said. “There were at least seven squads sent there. And six of them have gone missing.”
“What?” Irvine said, standing up straight now. “Trepe never mentioned that.”
“Exactly.” Hope said bitterly. “Because the one squad that didn’t was sent there by Trepe. And as far as we know, they have not made contact with anyone but her.”
“But we know that part already.” Iris said. “That’s why we’re being sent after them, right?”
“Maybe. But there’s something just strange about it.” Hope said. “Omega, Lulu and Zell are supposed to be the top cadets, right?”
“Well, then why are we being sent to find them?” Hope asked. “Why have they fallen off the radar?”
“I’m sure they have good reason.” Iris said. “It’s just something that might happen.”
“Yeah, but it still doesn’t quite make sense.” Hope said as he looked disturbed by something. “Maybe I’m reaching, but there is something going on. I just don’t know what.”
“Well, there’s no use talking about it now.” Irvine said as he looked to the side.
“Because we can just ask them when we find ‘em?” Iris asked.
“That and we have company.” Irvine said as he pulled out his gun. Iris and Hope looked where he was and saw that several Heartless had begun to form.
“I suppose it can’t be helped.” Iris said as she materialized a rapier. “Just gonna have to deal with this as we go along.”
“Try not to hit Iris, Irvine.” Hope said as he pulled out a boomerang.
“Who do you take me for?” Irvine grinned as he opened fire on a Shadow Heartless that had jumped closer to them, vaporizing it instantly.
“A dork?” Iris said as she blinked at him and jumped at a couple of Soldier Heartless that had shown up as well, all while ignoring Irvine’s indignant retort. They were clanking around in a disorganized fashion but attempted to kick and claw at her when she moved closer. But she was too fast for them, stabbing one right in the chest four times in quick succession before doing a wide arch that scattered them. As she recovered her stance, bolts of lightning struck them. Her attack had left them open for Hope’s follow up, which soon left nothing but black mist.
“Watch out.” Irvine said as he aimed overhead. What looked like three blue Soldier Heartless with wings and goggles on their faces lunged forward, though Irvine managed to shoot them quickly out of the sky and crashing to the ground, where several quick slashes from Iris finished them off.
“Nice one.” Irvine said as he walked over and did an offhand hi-five with Iris.
“Not too bad yourself.” Iris said as she looked around for any other attacking Heartless.
Except she couldn’t see any. They had all been taken out.
“Alright, good work everyone.” Irvine said as their weapons disappeared. But Iris felt uneasy.
“Didn’t that seem… odd?” Iris asked.
“Why would it? Heartless attacks are frequent?” Irvine replied. Hope looked at her with uncertainty.
“You okay, Iris?” Hope asked.
Iris didn’t immediately respond. Irvine was right, this wasn’t that uncommon these days. In fact, for a while they had had even more Heartless attacks than usual. But that had been only a small group of them. And there had actually been less and less attacks the past few days. Not since…
Iris shook her head. “It’s nothing.” she said, smiling a bit in an attempt to convince Hope and Irvine and herself that this was true. “Just my overactive imagination.” But she wasn’t totally convinced by this herself. And she couldn’t help but shake this feeling that they were being watched.