Hey guys, it's me, The Goon. This is so far one of my favorite chapters, because it reveals the Principal's identity, introduces a new mystery figure, and focuses heavily on the future outlook of this fanfic. Enjoy :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or 8 Bit Theater. (so far, the only characters I technically own are the Light Warrior Replicas and he White Mage and Black Belt Replicas)
Just for the sake of a quick recap, I'm putting some character profiles here for major characters [so far], but feel free to skip this part if you wanna jump right into the story.
Fighter- The most enthusiastic of the Light Warriors, but certainly not the brightest
Black Mage- A magic user with a real evil steak, and spends most of his time trying to get White Mage's attention, he is now allowed to use MORE than one Hadoken per day
Thief- A clever and witty pickpocket who is hiding something from everyone else
Red Mage- A noble magic user who is obsessed with quests and statistics
White Mage- A pure and innocent servant of the holy, she plays a key role in the Light Warriors' destinies
The Light Warrior Replicas- They go by the names of Matt (Fighter's replica), Toby (Black Mage's replica), Marcus (Thief's replica), and Felipe (Red Mage's replica). Since they are creations of Sarda, they believe that they are the real Light Warriors and that our heroes are the replicas
Sarda- The Vice Principal of 8 Bit Academy, and also one of the most powerful sages in all existence...and is often referred to by the Light Warriors as a jackass
The Principal- The mysterious principal who is in charge of 8 Bit Academy, and predicts the destinies of the Light Warriors. Who IS The Principal?
The Dark Warriors - Consists of Garland, Bikke, Drizz'l, and Vilbert von Vampire. They are regular students at the Academy, but spend much time plotting against the Light Warriors.
The White Mage and Black Belt Replicas - They go by Rebecca (White Mage Replica) and Jared (Black Belt Replica), and like the Light Warrior Replicas, Sarda created them for reasons unknown.
Squall Leonhart – Otherwise known as Leon, he is the phys ed instructor at the Academy, and also a semi-high-ranking member of the Order of 8 Bit and Co.
Torte – A small, purple mouse who had once been a real boy, but was still a powerful mage. He is more or less Leon's equal as far as rankings in the Order.
Irvine – A pretty boy who attends the Academy, and seems to be currently dating Selphie. He is one of four students that lead the Light Warriors to the Castle of Ordeals.
Selphie – She is often regarded as one of the Academy's finest ladies, and Irvine happens to be the lucky dog dating her. One of four students leading the Light Warriors to the Castle of Ordeals.
Terra Branford – She was formerly a powerful esper, but while she was able to keep her life, she had lost her magic. One of four students leading the Light Warriors to the Castle of Ordeals.
Zach – Almost like Fighter as far as personality and interests, except a little brighter and more reliable. One of four students leading the Light Warriors to the Castle of Ordeals.
The members of the Order of 8 Bit and Co. had never actually seen their leader in person, let alone at a meeting, but a select few such as Sarda and King Steve had known his identity.
Yep, King Steve was also in the Order.
"Did I ever tell you about how I built this entire cathedral by hand?" asked King Steve, who was sitting in one of the chairs in between his daughter Sara and his right-hand man Gary.
"Dad, this cathedral has been around for nearly a century," replied an agitated Sara.
"Yes, I built it that way, you know!" exclaimed King Steve, completely ignoring the obvious.
"Sir, it appears that one of the Light Warriors is kneeling before the Principal," said Gary.
"What?" shouted King Steve, "How dare he not bow before his absolutely perfect king!"
"Dad, you're not perfect, and there's a better reason to why he's kneeling," replied Sara, "That's his old master."
Before everyone's eyes, Fighter had rushed forward and kneeled down. He could probably hurt his neck by looking up without sitting on the higher chairs, so he was perfectly fine with kneeling before the chair of his old master.
"Master Vargus!" exclaimed Fighter, "It is an honor to be in your presence!"
"It's been quite some time since I saw you last," replied Vargus, sitting atop his high chair, "Have you kept up on whatever training I gave you?"
"I eat it for breakfast!" shouted Fighter in excitement, "And then a little for a snack…but it has a really bad aftertaste. Tastes like varnish. Not too many people know that."
"Forget I asked," said Vargus, making a facepalm, "Let's just proceed with this meeting. You'll know why you were brought here shortly."
There were several members of the Order of 8 Bit and Co., and it would take too much space to go into them all in full detail. The important ones that have direct ties to the Academy, however, are worth discussing:
Obviously, as Principal of the Academy, Vargus was the head of the Order, and in the chairs directly next to both of his sides, sat Sarda, obviously the Vice Principal of the Academy, and also Kuja, who was the Secretary of Financial Affairs. To the surprise of many, he had long since reformed his evil ways before entering the Academy, and eventually becoming an alumnus. Of course the Order needed someone on the Big Three to represent the "Co." part of "Order of 8 Bit and Co.", otherwise it would just be "8 Bit". Despite reforming and being granted amnesty, Kuja still kept many of his personality traits…mainly his narcissism and flamboyant attitude, not to mention attire.
Leon obviously had a high seat, with Torte having a comfortable chair specially made for his small size…right on the armrest of Leon's chair. Not too far from them was the young and charismatic Zidane. His rivalry with Kuja had been known for a long time, although it became friendlier over the years. Still, it doesn't mean Zidane hasn't had issues with Kuja being the 3rd most influential figure in the Order. Although he had once led a party against Kuja prior to his amnesty, he had become more ambitious and somewhat sinister over the years. Only he wasn't Academy Alumni, rather one of the few who oversaw the creation of the plot of land the Academy was established on. And there were more than a few scandals following his tailbone, particularly one about embezzling money, but no one among the living really talked about that anymore.
Cecil, a rather tall soldier with long white hair, and Kain, another soldier wearing dark armor, presided over their area of the order. Having a long and complicated history, the two were recruited by the Order to oversee the safety of the Academy, as well as deal with the importing and exporting resources for the nation, especially the ones coming from the Moon where Cecil's brother Golbez found new resources. Golbez himself was not part of the Order…he just did his job as the guy who brings Moon resources to Earth.
Cid Highwind was the head of the engineering classes at the Academy, and although he was only a representative, he was still highly regarded among the Order due to the fact that he represents The Will of Cid (basically the group that all the Cids in the world are categorized under). Several Moogles also consisted of the Representatives section, as well as several others.
"If we are all present, I would like to call to order our first impending matter," said Vargus.
It was only after that first sentence that someone else stood up to speak. That someone was Kain.
"If it pleases the Order, may I suggest we know what brings you here in person?" asked Kain.
There was slight murmuring amongst the others. No one had ever presented a separate issue right before the seemingly most important one was presented.
"Oh, come on," said Kain, "None of you are curious why the leader of the Order is here himself? As opposed to hiding in the shadows or sending a spokesperson in his place?"
"Perhaps if you learned to think before you act or speak," said Sarda, "You would have deducted that the reason for Vargus to appear in person is because the situation at hand is very critical."
"Critical hardly covers it," added Vargus, "My fellow comrades of the Order, I regret to inform you that we may be facing the end times. As you know, the Light Warriors have been chosen by Fate to combat the evil that threatens our way of life, and to destroy the greatest form of that evil, which you may all know as Lord Chaos."
"How close to the end are you suggesting?" asked Kuja.
"I fear it may be within a number of days," replied Vargus.
"That depends on how Chaos plays his cards," said Cecil, "If he wanted to, he could send all the Legions of Hell to our realm and have it polluted with darkness in a matter of hours."
"Not necessarily," said Vargus, "While Chaos could send servants to do his dirty work, Chaos himself cannot walk in our realm without a host to allow him to do so."
"A host?" several others asked.
"A human being in our realm is the ideal host for Chaos to control," said Vargus.
"But how are we supposed to prevent that?" asked Kain.
"That depends on the amount of intelligence we can uncover within what little time we have," said Vargus, "You seen, it would appear that Chaos has already selected beforehand who his host will be."
Stares and gasps of confusion went around the room. The thought of someone being predetermined to be possessed by the Great King of Demons was rather horrifying. Sarda, however, did not seem overly fazed, and began to explain a remedy for that.
"However," said Sarda, "Once we have all four Light Orbs and restore them to their original state of purity, even Chaos will not stand a chance against the Light Warriors."
There wasn't much more to add to that discussion. The matter of dealing with Chaos when he arrives seemed to be dealt with. Sarda then announced the next order of business.
"Moving right along," said Sarda, clearing his throat and giving his long moustache a slight tug, "As you all are no doubt aware, there has been an untimely death among the Order."
All eyes were pointed towards the empty seat somewhere in the middle of the room (middle meaning height, not literally the middle of the chambers, which was where Fighter had been sitting in the center of everyone).
"Black Belt, one of the greatest students of the Wu Xia arts, sacrificed his own life so that the Light Warriors could reclaim the Fire Orb," said Sarda, "Now, while his death is very tragic, we still have business to conduct. First of which is to discuss who will replace him."
Sarda cleared his throat once more before continuing.
"As you are also no doubt aware, Fighter here is one of the Light Warriors," said Sarda, "He is one of the few who could be considered a likely candidate to take Black Belt's place among the order…if he passes the test."
"A test?" asked Fighter, "Aw, nerts. I never liked written assignments."
"Then you're in luck, Fighter," said Vargus, "Because it is merely a few questions that we will ask you right now."
"Oh," said Fighter, "Well, bring it on then!"
Kuja asked the first question, which was "Who was the founding father of the Order of 8 Bit and Co?" It was essentially one of the more important questions as it dealt with the Order's history. Fighter easily answered, "Mouri of the Sky!"
Sarda asked the next question, which was "Prior to Lord Chaos, who was the Order's great nemesis?" Most of that history had been forgotten, if not completely untold, by the younger generation, but Fighter knew just enough to answer "Sin!"
The process continued for a short time. The questions were mainly related to history and some rather common knowledge.
"You're almost done, Fighter," said Vargus, "I myself will ask you the final question."
"I'm ready for it!" exclaimed an eager Fighter.
"How many schools of Kenshido are there?" asked Vargus.
Fighter paused in his thoughts, and the room went utterly silent.
"This one again?" asked Fighter, "That's easy! There are 12!"
"How many?" Vargus asked once more.
"12!" replied Fighter, "One for each Zodiac sign. Given more time and a few hints, I could probably name them all for you."
Vargus did nothing more than a facepalm. A rather disappointed one. Once again, Fighter had failed a simple test just with that one question.
"You're not ready," said Vargus silently, "Even after all this time, you still don't know the answer to that question."
"Did I pass?" asked Fighter.
"If you knew the answer to my last question, you would have," replied Vargus, "But not only are you not ready to be in the Order, you still don't know the true meaning of being a swordsman. Until you answer that question, you will still have one vital flaw."
"Aw, nerts," said a disappointed Fighter, "My life's dreams ruined once again by some weird philosophy question."
"Well now what?" asked Kuja, "If he doesn't qualify, this meeting might as well have been for nothing."
"It seems as though no one is fit to replace Black Belt," said Vargus.
"Yeah, probably," said Fighter in agreement, "Except for that Replica of Black Belt."
"What did you say?" asked Vargus.
"I said Black Belt's Replica!" replied Fighter.
"Oh yes," said Sarda, clearing his throat, "I must confess that it had slipped my mind to use his own Replica to replace the original."
Vargus sat deep in thought as though he was considering. It seemed to be the only option.
"You're not serious?" asked a confused Kuja.
To be continued...