Chapter Seventeen: Puppets

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She felt cold and empty, like the pistols she carried in her back pocket. The rain that crashed from the heavens didn't annoy her; she barely noticed it as she continued to make her way through the dense forest. Her feet were almost like robots, they're actions were automatic - put one foot in front of the other and step over obstacles when necessary. She didn't need to think about it, she didn't really think about anything now. Even when a fiend would attack her, she'd raise her gun half-heartedly and pull the trigger. Her accuracy had not been damaged, it remained as deadly as ever, it was probably one of the only reasons she was still alive.

Is this what it was like to be unsent? To simply endure the journey life takes you on like a mindless zombie? Did unsent constantly have flashbacks of loved ones lost and mistakes made? Is this what drove them insane? The replaying of painful memories and the pointless solutions that could've been made? Is this why they became fiends?

She was sure it was, she felt like one of them but she knew she was not. She'd know if she were truly dead, she wouldn't have had a pulse then and she wouldn't have been breathing. She didn't feel alive though, she felt dead just like Rinoa...

Feathers soaked in blood and fading dark eyes came to her mind as she thought of the girl for what seemed to be the millionth time in two days. Every time she saw wild flowers she thought of the makeshift bouquet she had placed within the sorceress' cold limp fingers. During the small breaks she took to give her numb feet a break, she practised the spells Rinoa had taught her and tried to control elements alien to her such as earth and air.

Her aeons had tried to get her to cheer up or to at least help her become fully aware of her surroundings but nothing had worked yet. She wanted to talk to them, to let them make her feel better but she just felt as though she didn't have the energy to do so. The zombie-like mode she was currently in made her unconsciously ignore them. So she simply continued on, lost in her own dark thoughts of the past.

Deep down though, she wanted to break free of this unnatural state of depression she'd locked herself in. She felt tired and worn as though she didn't have the energy to accomplish such a task. Deep down within her, she was still her old self but she just couldn't get that aspect of her personality to surface. She needed help... like a trigger or something... Something that would make her feel some sort of emotion other than the horrible emptiness.

That trigger came in the form of maniacal laughter.

It was unmistakable, that terrible sound. She heard it in the recesses of her mind and in the echoes of her darkest nightmares. She couldn't get it out of her head, along with the images of Rinoa's bloody corpse.

He did it to her, he killed her, she thought over and over to herself as her lips curled into a snarl. She hadn't realised she'd been running until the wind was suddenly pushing her hair out of her face and letting her long braid trail behind her as she picked up speed. The cold metal of her guns pressed firmly into the palms of her hands, index fingers ready on the trigger. It gave her a sense of excitement - primeval excitement. She didn't feel cold anymore and it wasn't because the rain had stopped, she felt a fire grow within her as her anger grew. Part of her sadness still remained but she was determined all the same.

She would make Kefka pay for what he did to Rinoa. She would avenge her fallen friend and teacher and maybe then she would have some small shred of inner peace. Maybe then she'd be able to sleep peacefully at night and she wouldn't see Rinoa's pale, lifeless form every time she blinked or let her mind wander. Maybe then she could be rid of this... this guilt.

The laughter grew closer and louder with every stride she took. Licking her lips in anticipation when the dreaded sound seemed very close to her, she slowed down, reigning in control and deciding to obtain the element of surprise. Ducking behind two large bushes, she peaked in between the leaves to see where exactly her target was.

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