Steps to Rebirth
Ashbear -


Too many times in our lives, we spend attempting to protect those we care about; instead of letting them learn to survive on their own.

"Instructor Trepe watch me," the small child said proudly. "Look what I can do!" The student, all of eight years, ran toward the Grat, unaware of the second predator closing from behind.

His partner quickly tried to move in a defensive pattern, only to be out-matched by the second foe. The little boy tried in vain to protect himself, but the assault was immanent. Quistis quickly jumped from her position of by-stander into a more pro-active role.

"Victor watch out!" the instructor warned pushing the student from the line of attack. The mutant plant spat its gastric juices upon her; she was prepared for such a strike, as any good instructor would be. Quistis felt the sensation of acid reaching her skin, expecting it to repel like raindrops upon glass. Instead, a blanket of darkness covered her; awareness unlike any she had ever known.

She felt her body slump to the training center ground. This was not supposed to happen; it was only a level eight enemy. No one enemy of this echelon should have such a dramatic effect. This could only be the dealing blow of a worthy adversary, an equal. She slowly opened her eyes; darkness surrounded her. She was in a plain between realities, between grasp.

Gradually she attempted to lift her other wise limp body from the ground. It was surreal. She actually could look upon her fallen form, lying motionless. With all the strength she could gather, she stood.

It was dark. All that was known suddenly became the unknown. Her legs walked, but did not touch the ground. The shaded images of the people around her grew fuzzy, then all together vanished in one hypnotic movement.

Now she was alone, a feeling not foreign to her; one she had grown used to in her seventeen years. From the side she witnessed a tiny orb, first a bright minuscule light equivalent to a grain of sand, and then it grew large and crimson in color. The light hovered over her for the briefest of moments before taking a position in front.

The light transformed into a figure, a doppelganger of herself. The form mimicked her every motion, every breath. Finally, after several minutes time, it turned into an image composed only of flames, yet that still in human form. Little by little, her image was replaced by that of another, that still feminine.

"Who are you?" she gasped shading her eyes from the flames surrounding the figure. "What... what's happing to me?"

"You know me Quistis Trepe, you have known of me for years."

She looked closer into the bright translucent eyes, the form of a grand bird danced upon their surface. "You... you are Phoenix, but I didn't use a Phoenix pinion."

"Yes I am, but I can be summoned without a pinion."

"But you weren't needed it was just a simple Grat, it should have brought minimal harm."

"Exactly Instructor Trepe."

"What do you mean exactly? Are you telling me that I'm dead... from a Grat?"

"No, I'm here to help you be reborn, such is my duty. Death can come in many forms, as so can be rebirth. It is possible to experience one without the other."

"One doesn't have to die before being reborn?" she questioned to the womanly form.

"Again you try and understand without listening first... or seeing."

She, Phoenix the great bird, moved her hand in a fluid motion and in blink of an eye; Quistis was transported back to the events of only a few minutes ago. "What did you hope to accomplish," asked a voice from within the flames.

"I... I saw one of my students about to be attacked by the Grat, I tried to protect him."

"That is the answer of a mother, but not of a teacher... although the two can be intertwined. Watch what could have been."

The bird lifted her hand again changing the outcome of the events. This time Quistis remained on the sidelines as Victor was hit with the gastric attack.

The instructor shielded her eyes from the event, to horrified to see one of her students in pain. The boy fell to the ground, dropping his weapon as the others ran to his aid.

"What the hell did that prove!?" Quistis demanded. "That outcome was no better... worse by far."

"Quistis what is your greatest accomplishment? What is your greatest failure?"

"I was a SeeD at a very young age, younger then most at Garden. I was always proud of that fact. I received my instructor certificate a year later, for that, I too felt fulfilled. The greatest failure would be when they suspended me from teaching for those months, until my credentials were re-instated."

"Why did they take that ability away from you?"

"Their reasoning was that I lacked leadership qualities, but as....." Quistis trailed off as she watched Victor get up off the ground; no longer with agony on his face, now with a renewed intense expression. She had to ask the fiery bird, "What is he doing?"

"My child... he is learning."

Quistis watched as the junior cadet once again faced the same Grat that had attacked him, this time he sensed the presence of the second foe and worked in tandem with his partner. Together they preformed textbook maneuvers and quickly, eloquently defeating the enemies.

Tears came to the instructors' eyes as she realized what was happening. "I... I didn't allow him to learn, I tried to protect him."

"We all learn from our mistakes, which is the only way to true knowledge. Teaching is having the ability to allow the ones we care about to make those mistakes... and in turn, learn from them."

"I have always done that, especially with the students who really touched me. I never truly let them learn."

"Some like Squall Leonhart learned on their own, others such as Seifer Almasy never did. Different people react to the same circumstances in their own way."

"Even on the day Squall took his fire cave examine, I was supposed to be there as support, as backup. But I fought beside him as an equal, afraid that danger would come to him."

"Exactly my child. You must know when to step in, or when to stand back and allow damage to happen. It is the only way one can teach."

"Thank you," Quistis softly spoke. "Thank you for pointing this out to me. Somehow, I always knew what I was doing; yet I felt that I wanted no harm to come to my students. My friends."

"Death is not always the act of ending life, sometimes it is the step to rebirth."

The fiery bird reached forward to touch Quistis hand, yet it did not burn. The instructor smiled at the form one last time, before it released fingers from the grasp. Suddenly it took a step back and lifted its arms above the human-like head. Fiery arms altered to grand wings, as the figure grew enormous in size. The dark abyss was lit with the fire radiating off the hovering creature, and then all human features gone.

The bird danced, swirled within the heat of the flames before opening its beak letting out a sound of pure enchantment. Scarlet and ginger hues faded into the darkness and were slowly replaced by familiar shapes found in the training center. Where only dark was, silhouettes of large tropical leaves took shape. The humid atmosphere filled her senses, as reality slowly drifted back into focus.

With a sudden jolt, she awoke, but not lying on the dirt covered grown. Instead she was standing, back leaning against the railing just as she had been before she jumped into the battle.

"Instructor Trepe watch me," the small child said proudly. "Look what I can do!" The student ran toward the Grat, unaware of the second predator closing from behind.

Again, his partner attempted a defensive pattern, only to be surprised by the second Grat. The youngster tried in ineffectively to protect himself, but the assault was immanent. Quistis started to move forward, a natural reaction to shield one she loved from harm. Then she stopped, stood immobilized. A voice in her head told her to let it be... let him learn.

She inhaled waiting for the impeding attack... so she could teach for the first time in her life.

Death comes in all forms, as does the rebirth.