Grazhir :: Final Fantasy :: Snafu :: 08

08

Seifer answered Squall’s question with, “Hm. Something involving chicken.”

He could do that. While he was preparing the meal he said, “I guess the qualities of an ethics-deficient scientist shift in perception when he’s working for the good guys.”

Seifer shuddered. “Why yes, I did design a sealing system the other day, but only because that Adel person was dictating too much of my research focus and stifling my creative evil. Pfft. Just imagine if he was any worse in the morally corrupt department.”

“Imagine if he went after you for that—whatever it is you call it that isn’t para-magic but looks so much like it thing.”

“Oh, chi. Yeah, let’s not mention that around him. What are you making, anyway?”

“If you can’t tell already by the ingredients you’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you.”

Banter continued through any number of topics which sprung to mind, and, as is so often the case, Squall could not remember most of it aside from a rather heated ten minute debate on whether one-handed or two-handed gunblades were more effective.

They collapsed on the couch after the meal was consumed and Seifer said, “That was amazing. When the hell did you find time to learn how to cook so well?”

He gave Seifer a sidelong look as he nabbed the remote and started flipping through channels. “There’s a reason why the cafeteria ladies had such a soft spot for me and always refused to dish up any gossip along with the food. They were some of the very few people who never gave me grief for being who I was, so I spent a lot of time around them when I wasn’t otherwise occupied. They taught me a lot about cooking in consequence. I think they all saw me as kind of a shared son or something.” He was becoming annoyed with the television; hundreds of channels and none of them showing anything of interest.

They ended up playing Scrabble. Squall finally commented after seeing the last few words Seifer had placed, “Are you trying to hint at something?”

“Hint? I thought I was being downright obvious.”

“Oh. I’ll refrain from giving you credit for subtlety in the future.” Squall leaned across the board and gave Seifer a kiss.

“Sorry,” Seifer said, not looking the least bit sorry. “I’ve been slightly preoccupied ever since that last image Odine showed us.”

“Admittedly, so have I.”

Seifer leered at him again. “Want to try something along those lines? After all, this isn’t the first date, so kinky is allowable.”

Squall pulled back, his brow furrowed in doubt. The idea of not having full control of himself—well, he assumed Seifer would be the one in charge. And while he did believe all it really would be was kinky sex play, he—“Not really. I don’t think I’m ready for that sort of thing.”

Seifer gave a slight shrug and smiled. “Then let’s try something more on the romantic side. Let me give you a massage.”

That he could handle. Squall nodded and got up, beginning to strip his clothing off on the way to the bedroom. There he undressed fully and stretched out on the bed. Seifer joined him and straddled his thighs, then began working the back of his neck and shoulders. And even though he was not all that tense Squall could not help but groan quietly. Certain muscles as they were induced to relax sent frissons of arousal straight to his groin. Seifer slowly worked his way down, occasionally leaning in to kiss his skin, and when he got to Squall’s ass Squall was slightly embarrassed to find that his body reacted with a slight lift of his hips.

Seifer did not comment, but he did apply a bit more pressure than he had been. Eventually Seifer switched targets to one of Squall’s thighs, his hands massaging in downward motions only to sweep back up either side, the fingers along his inner thigh applying pressure each time at the inner apex of his legs in a move which could almost be mistaken for casual. His calf was next, then Seifer moved to his other leg.

By the time Seifer nudged him to turn over Squall was aching for release. Naturally, Seifer ignored the obvious and started to work his shoulders, upper arms, and chest before working his way down again, the entire time kneeling beside him rather than straddling him. Again he bypassed the groin and worked Squall’s thighs, nudging them farther and farther apart in minute increments until Seifer could easily insert himself between Squall’s legs. At that point he crouched over and took Squall’s erection into his mouth, causing him to push his head back against the pillow and bite back a moan.

Seifer released him long enough to huskily entreat, “Let me hear you, Squall. Please don’t hide from me. I want this to be real. Let me take care of you.”

Squall panted harshly and opened his eyes, raising his head to skim his gaze down his body. The sight of Seifer’s mouth wrapped around his cock and those eyes staring back at him saw his head slam back against the pillow again, and this time he let the moan tear free of his throat. Seifer hummed around him and Squall felt the last of his restraint desert him. He mindlessly accepted it when he felt what could only be one of Seifer’s fingers sliding inside him, his body caught between pushing against the intrusion and thrusting his hips upward, and all too soon he was roaring out his orgasm.

He lay there in a daze for some time until Seifer started rearranging the bed cover and working it out from under his body along with the top sheet. Before he knew it he was under the sheet with Seifer holding him close, and he drifted away.

*

The airship was packed and ready to launch and they had all been given instruction on how to pilot it the day before after being released from Odine’s clutches. The most recent drone report saw Galbadia Garden still near Deling City, as well, though why it was not on the move was a mystery. Better for their purposes, though.

Selphie launched with a whoop of joy, her face alight and radiating her pleasure. Fujin was acting as co-pilot for the trip even though one wasn’t strictly necessary, and spent most of her time keeping an eye on the OCS. They arrived a good few hours later and hovered over Selphie’s chosen ambush spot after flying a spiral sweep to ensure no one was lurking about. She was just about to land when Seifer suggested, “Let’s gas the prison first.”

Selphie nodded and headed there instead, grumbling a bit when it was apparent the structure was above ground at the time.

“It’s always up unless they have to have bring in or release prisoners or do personnel changes,” Irvine said. “Less chance of anyone escaping that way.”

She brought it to a hover near one of the three towers and requested, “Fujin, please take over the piloting.” Once the controls were Fujin’s Selphie unstrapped and got up, then pointed. “Those vehicles could be useful. If we can get the prison to submerge we can drive them out, set them up along the route. It’ll give the explosion site the plausible fiction of a target of sorts. We could just raise the prison again afterward and have Fujin take whoever does that on board.”

Seifer nodded. “Then we drive them into place, and get on with things.”

“Agreed,” Squall said. “Let’s pass by the entrances of all three and hurl the initial canisters in, then take them one by one. Having seen the configuration of the place I don’t feel comfortable splitting up.”

“The gas is powerful enough to take out the top floor at least,” Selphie said, eyeing the prison closely. “That should buy us time. And from what I can see so far I don’t think they have a connection to Deling, not if that thing can submerge. I don’t see any cables.”

Irvine reached over and hit the hatch release as Raijin and Seifer stepped up with canisters. The moment they had a clear path both hurled theirs straight inside. This was repeated at the other two towers and Fujin brought them back around to the first. Gas masks were pulled on and the five of them piled out, running for the entrance, and short range boosted coms with an encrypted signal kept them in contact with each other.

An hour later all personnel in that tower were gassed into unconsciousness and tossed into cells, and Squall was slightly breathless from the constant running and heaving of bodies. Generators loaded with Selphie’s gas mixture were placed on the top two floors once they were done, set on a timer to go off every fifteen hours. Whether they were needed or not they would be removed once they had the sorceress. Two hours later they had seen to the remaining towers and dragged one body out with them as Selphie submerged the prison. Cars were driven out of their respective garages, leaving just one behind. “Fujin, any sign of life out there?”

“Negative.”

“Okay. Selphie, we’re out. Raise the prison.”

“Roger!”

They drove the cars in convoy fashion and stopped them around the half mile mark, then jogged the rest of the way to the ambush site. Fujin landed so the devices could be unloaded, then picked up Raijin and Irvine long enough to fly them back to the explosion site and drop off them and Selphie along with the necessary equipment, then took to the air again to do sweeps.

“We’re set,” Seifer sent an hour later.

“Us too!” Selphie chirped.

Squall nodded to himself. “Good. Go ahead and blow it. As soon as Fujin sees anything headed our way—hopefully G-Garden—meet back up here at the trap.”

“One humungous explosion coming right up!”

*

“Galbadia Garden approaches,” came Fujin’s voice. It was the most he had ever heard her say in one shot.

“Acknowledged.”

“On our way,” Irvine sent.

Looking back toward the prison Squall could see the smoke and flames stretch quite a distance, obscuring any thought of even trying to see the prison properly. His own position was somewhat obscured as the light breeze which had sprung up kept pushing smoke his way, but he could see well enough to the north. “As soon as they get within a mile I want you to land, Fujin. We can take cover on the prison side of the ship and let the OCS keep us from being spotted.”

“Affirmative.”

After the explosion group caught up and the canisters of knockout gas had been set off to saturate the air—the generators in this area had been camouflaged by the simple expedient of uprooting scrubby bushes and temporarily replanting them as cover—they waited in tense silence. Selphie was holding Irvine’s hand so tight the poor guy was making hideous faces of pain, but he never said a word or tried to shake her off. Squall just shook his head in amusement and stretched out on the ground so he could spy around the edge of the ship and watch as Garden approached. So far it was sticking to the road.

‘Huh, it actually worked,’ he thought a short time later. ‘Excellent.’

Galbadia Garden had entered the zone and sputtered to a stop, crashing into the ground and listing slightly to one side. The generators kept pumping gas, and when there was absolutely no sign of any life after ten minutes Squall scooted back and got to his knees. “Ready?”

Tranq-guns were pulled out as his team gave the signal for a go. Squall pushed up and signaled to Irvine to lead the way. Any ‘resident’ who even looked like they twitched got shot with a dart as they swept the now mobile platform of war. Irvine led them to the most likely place first: Martine’s office. Martine was not there, but Edea was, slumped over the headmaster’s desk. They fanned out, checking the several people dressed in student uniforms sprawled on the floor, then converged on the sorceress.

She was trussed up with Odine’s work and shot with a dart just to be on the safe side. Raijin slung her over his shoulder and gave a thumb’s up. But in the lift Irvine gave Squall a tap on the shoulder and sent, “I know where the suits are—the flyers. Think we should destroy them before we leave?”

Squall considered quickly, then asked, “How difficult is it to get at them?”

“Not very. Ground floor hanger next to the parking lot. We could be in and out of there in ten minutes if Selphie has some leftover explosives we can use.”

He didn’t bother to ask why this had not come up earlier. Everyone forgot details at one point or another, and he hadn’t remembered them, either. “Sounds good. Any objections?” Just before the door slid open he sent, “Irvine, what about any of your belongings here?”

“Nah. Didn’t leave much, and it’s probably all locked in a storage room by now anyway.”

“All right. Let’s blow those flyers, then.”

Twenty minutes later they were back at the ship—or rather, Raijin was, to drop off Edea to repose under the watchful eye of Fujin. Then he joined the others in disconnecting and gathering up the device components and running them to ship storage. Fujin hopped them farther south so they could pick up the generators at both the road and prison—and drop off the captive—then Selphie reclaimed command of the ship and flew them at top speed back toward Esthar.

Squall pulled off his mask with relief and leaned back against the wall. “The sooner she’s sealed the better. Everyone, you did really well. Excellent teamwork.”

They took turns keeping an eagle eye on Edea. When they did arrive at the memorial a message was sent to the palace, and the response told them Laguna and the others were already en route. Edea, still out cold, was placed in the unit and sealed. It was then that Selphie went a little nuts and grabbed Irvine to dance him around the room, and he was obviously happy enough since he removed his hat and plunked it on her head.

*

She woke up furious. The sorceress dragged herself up off the floor and looked around; those who had been with her were still unconscious, and she knew it was due to her powers that she woke up sooner. She cursed due to her balance being off as she made her way into the private room behind the office, and came to a stop in front of a mirror. ‘This will never do. I look so plebeian now, so . . . human.’ The next space of time was spent twisting the features and figure of the student she had jumped to when it became apparent something was wrong about the situation they had been about to enter.

‘Fools. I give them credit, however, for a clever plan. I shall enjoy their deaths and the chains of history will be broken forevermore.’ Then she noticed her clothing again and scowled. More of her powers were employed to correct the problem and by then she could hear her people stirring in the office. She exited to begin giving orders. And there were some people she needed to find and interrogate—and absorb.

*

Back in Laguna’s office they took seats at the table and gladly partook of the refreshments brought in by an aide. Seifer was having a grand time telling the tale (even though Ellone kept giving him sad looks) when something on the desk started beeping. It wasn’t the same sound from the other day, though, and this time it was Kiros who rose to deal with it.

“Kiros here. Yes. Did it? Bring it here, I want to deal with it personally.” He hung up and returned to his seat, a slightly annoyed expression on his face. “There is an unexpected and unknown group of three sniffing around at the Great Salt Lake. One female, two males. I’ve ordered the drone be brought here so we can examine the data. While I’m not expecting any of you to recognize these people, it is possible that you may.”

Irvine took up the tale from there and was just finishing when a knock sounded at the door. A woman entered long enough to relinquish a drone to Kiros, then left. Kiros tapped a spot on the table near him and attached the cable that appeared to the drone, then tapped out some commands on the ‘keyboard’ which had lit up. Pictures started appearing on the table’s surface.

Squall took one look and groaned.

“Well, shit,” Seifer said disgustedly.

Laguna shot them a wide-eyed look. “What?”

Squall was busy trying not to tear his hair out and was glad when Selphie spoke up to say, “They’re our ex-clients, the Timber Forest Owls. Rinoa, Zone, and Watts. Rinoa is the daughter of General Caraway in Deling.”

“Well what the devil are they doing here?” Irvine wanted to know.

“I think we need a little clarification,” Kiros said. “Ex-clients?”

Squall smoothed his hair and said, “When we made SeeD we were sent on a mission to Timber. The Forest Owls hired SeeD to help with their plans to effect Timber’s freedom from Galbadian occupation and rule. Then Vinzer Deling was assassinated and she ordered us to take her to safety. She didn’t seem at all concerned about the two men. We escaped Timber and went to Galbadia Garden, where we got diverted to the Edea issue.”

“I hate to say it,” Irvine said slowly, “but we should probably interrogate them to see why they ended up there, or at least her. I have a hard time believing it could be sheer coincidence.”

“I don’t like it,” Squall said, “but I think you’re right. Opinions?”

After a few minutes of discussion they were agreed. A ship would be sent out to pick them up and take them to the nearest thing resembling a police station.

*

“We haven’t done anything wrong!” Rinoa was protesting as she was hauled into the interrogation room. “You can’t treat me like this!”

“Lady,” the soldier replied, “you were trespassing. Now sit down before I cuff your arms and legs to the chair.” He left as soon as she complied, and locked the door behind him with an ominous click.

Squall smirked and scooted his chair a little closer to the OCS window. Similar to how it worked in the ship they were looking through glass, but all anyone in the interrogation room could see was a bland grey wall. Much better than viewing a video feed or the classic version of a one-way mirrored window in all those movies. They watched for the next half hour as Rinoa became increasingly more upset and whiny about the lack of décor, lack of amenities, the violation of her personal rights, how cold it was, and so on, until Kiros left to go question her.

A minute or so later the lock clicked again, the door opened, and Kiros strode in with a soldier. The soldier stood guard at the door, gun visible, and Kiros sat down across from Rinoa.

“Well it’s about time!” she complained. “I demand to know what’s going on! You people have no right to do this to me! I’m an important person, you know. Things could get ugly if my father finds out.”

Kiros arched a brow at her. “So you did not let this father of yours know where you were trying to infiltrate? How interesting.”

“I wasn’t trying to infiltrate anything! I was looking for someone.”

“We have it on good authority that you are part of an insurgence movement. Then we find you circling our borders. Are we supposed to believe this was all innocent on your part? That you are not here to stir up rebellion?”

Seifer started laughing. “Wow, Kiros has quite a sense of humor.”

“I’m doing nothing of the sort,” she said sulkily. “I came here to find some people, that’s all. I’d hired them to do a job, but they left without word. I got information saying they came this way, so I was trying to follow.”

“I see.”

“And how do you know that, anyway? Spying on people? Or are—that’s it, isn’t it? They’re here. I want to see them!”

Kiros eyed her blandly. “You are in no position to demand anything. Now, explain the circumstances of your departure from Deling City and how that led you to our border.”

“Oh, and if I say no you bring on the torture?”

Kiros simply waited in silence, pulling a bottle of water out of his pocket and taking a sip.

“She’s an awfully pushy one,” Laguna commented.

Squall glanced over and noticed that his father’s brow was furrowed. “I imagine it has to do with her upbringing,” he replied.

“Yeah,” Seifer confirmed. “From what she’s told me she was spoiled growing up, but never expected to be anything more than pretty. She ran away to join the resistance in Timber, mostly to spite her father and prove she could make a difference. Sadly, the people in Timber talk a lot and never seem to get anywhere.”

Laguna got a puzzled look on his face. “Wait, is she Julia’s daughter? I vaguely remember when Kiros came to Winhill that she’d married Caraway.”

“Yep,” Seifer replied. “She uses her mother’s last name to disassociate herself. Her mother died in a car crash when Rinoa was five.”

“Oh. That’s too bad. Julia was a very nice woman.”

Rinoa finally couldn’t stand the silence. “Fine! I thought up a plan in Deling and went to visit the sorceress. It was really hard getting in there, too. I had an Odine bangle with me to give to her as a gift, thinking she wouldn’t know what it was and would wear it, so her powers would be cut off. She somehow knew and put me into some kind of a daze. The next thing I knew I was being attacked by some horrible creatures, but I was rescued by a Garden team there to assassinate her. When they left they took me with them. Once we were in the open again I ran.”

Kiros had another sip of water when she said nothing more for too long.

“I wonder where she got one of those from?” Laguna mused. “I suppose someone might have smuggled one out.”

“So she hatched another asinine plan and botched it, and had to be rescued,” Squall commented.

Rinoa finally spoke up again, looking a bit unnerved by the silent treatment. “I found out after they rescued me that four team members had resigned, two of them from the team I had contracted. I was really upset that they just up and quit on me. And if that wasn’t bad enough the contract said no replacements. So I rented a car and headed to Timber, snuck in, and got on a train to Balamb so I could complain to the guy who wrote the contract.

“When I got there things were completely crazy and I couldn’t find him, so I hung out in the cafeteria waiting for things to calm down. Everyone was too worked up to really notice me so no one said anything. All of a sudden the whole building jolted and people started panicking, so I raced out with the crowd to see what was going on. Garden was moving and we were about to crash into the ocean. Just before we hit some weird barrier sprang up and stopped us all from drowning.

“Anyway, I finally got to talk to Headmaster Cid and he told me that it was unfortunate, but there was nothing he could do. He said it wasn’t like he could force people not to quit or to come back when they didn’t want to. He called someone in and had them assign me a room temporarily. Later on we crashed into Fisherman’s Horizon and I was told I needed to leave, and they escorted me into town and just left me there! I had some money so I got a hotel room and started asking questions about the place.

“Not long after Garden left a strange ship showed up and their people started asking questions around town. They also dropped off Zone and Watts, who had escaped from Timber into the water and got fished out of the ocean by them. So that’s how we met up again. I eventually found out that someone matching the description of the person I was looking for had been there and his group was asking questions about Esthar. That’s when I decided to try to follow. I’m not here to cause any trouble. I just want to give him a piece of my mind. His name is Squall.”

“What little mind you have,” Squall muttered.

Kiros got up and headed for the door.

“Are you going to get him?” she called.

Kiros ignored her and exited, the soldier following, and the door was closed and locked again. A minute later Kiros was back in with them and Rinoa had adopted an impatient expression. “Do you wish to speak with her directly?”

Squall hesitated and looked over at the window. A part of him was actually curious to see what she would say. “Sure, why not.”

Seifer leaned over and asked, “Can I tag along?”

Squall nodded, then looked at Selphie. She shook her head. “We should probably wait a short time so she doesn’t realize we were right here all this time.” That being said they started talking again, keeping an eye on Rinoa through the window.

“You notice she said quit on her,” Irvine pointed out. “They probably didn’t give her any details. I certainly didn’t. I just gave her the room keys and hightailed it out of there.”

“We did shatter any generally accepted social customs when we neglected to tell her that ourselves,” Squall said. “In that respect we are at fault. It would be correct for me to apologize, even if I’m not the least bit sorry we’re no longer working for her.”

“But you don’t want to,” Seifer said knowingly.

“Of course I don’t,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s the right thing to do. I really wonder why Cid sent me, of all people, to a group like that.”

“Maybe he was hoping you could give them a hard dose of reality?” Selphie suggested. “I mean, c’mon. Anyone with half a brain has to know it’s not that simple. Did she really think three mercenaries could overthrow Galbadia? Because that’s what it would amount to. Even now with the sorceress sealed, the military over there is still probably gearing up to take more territory. From what Ellone said it wasn’t all that long ago that Edea left the white SeeD ship. She went there and found a country ripe to exploit because they already wanted world domination, so it was probably that much easier to bend them to her will. So maybe Cid was hoping that your, um, cynical outlook on life would make a dent in the fantasy land she’s been living in. Maybe I could do that, too, but I’m not a real leader like you are, Squall. Nida? Pfft. He was nice enough, but he would have just caved.”

Squall felt unaccountably like blushing and had to look away for a second. He did blush when she very sincerely said, “It’s a good leader, a real one, who brings out the best qualities in his team.”

“Thanks,” he muttered.

She grinned and said, “So are we taking bets on how she’s gonna react? I got 50 on her blaming Seifer for turning Squall against her.”

“That’s not very nice,” Ellone said, startling Squall—she had been so quiet he had forgotten she was even there. “I bet 50 she gives one of them a lovesick look.”

*

Kiros escorted them down the hall and around a corner to a door with guards on either side. “One of you go in with them,” Kiros said. “I’ll wait here.”

The left guard saluted and unlocked the door, then opened it and gestured. Squall entered with Seifer and stopped a few feet from Rinoa, shifting so his weight was on one leg. Neither he nor Seifer said a word. He rather thought she was giving them the weirdest look he had seen in a long time, pathetic and angry and dopey all rolled into one.

“Why did you leave me?” she asked. “We had a contract! You were supposed to follow my orders, not just stuff me in a hotel room and take off!”

One brow made a slow ascent before Squall said, “You had a contract with Balamb Garden for three SeeDs, Renée. You did not—”

“My name is Rinoa!”

“Whatever. You did not have a contract specifically with me, nor did said contract anywhere state that I would become your indentured servant for life. In fact, I distinctly recall the section which stated you would not be able to request replacements should something happen to one or more of the SeeDs who were sent. That aside, it was not against any law or rule of Garden for me to resign. You knew perfectly well we had been commandeered into another mission of much higher priority, after which the team would return to working with you, and the only reason we were selected for that is because you told us to get you out of town.

You stuffed yourself in a hotel room in a childish snit when we refused to share classified information with you. Next, we did not resign because of you, so don’t imply that we did. However, having resigned for reasons unrelated to you, that did actually mean we were free to follow our own wishes. I find it disturbing in the extreme that you would follow us here rather than return to Timber and take up your cause again, though I suppose I can understand getting a meeting with Cid about the contract. I do hope he gave you a refund.”

She stared at him for a good thirty seconds before rounding on Seifer. “You did this! Things were perfectly fine until you showed up! Then you two are all whispering to each other and ignoring me.”

Seifer chuckled and draped an arm around Squall’s shoulders. “Of course we spent a lot of time together, princess. People in a relationship do that kind of thing.”

“What? But I thought—no, don’t be ridiculous!”

“If you recall,” Squall said, “things were not ‘perfectly fine’ before Seifer arrived. We had words to that effect near the television station and you ran off because I pointed out that your group had poor planning and intelligence gathering skills, and dared to call you on the fact that you insulted all of us. It is obvious that we’ve been learning out of different dictionaries if that is your idea of ‘perfectly fine’.”

“I don’t believe this!” she shrieked. “We had a contract and I expect you to honor it!”

“The key word being ‘had’,” Seifer pointed out.

“Oh, shut up! You weren’t even part of the team!”

“And that somehow makes his observation less relevant?” Squall said.

Seifer slid his arm off Squall’s shoulders and scoffed at her. “Oh, come off it, Reena, you—”

“My—name—is—Rinoa!”

“Whatever. I’m not blind in the least, though you obviously are. Stop living in a god damn fantasy world where you’re a hero for rebelling against daddy and running off to join his enemies, or where you think you have the first clue how to lead anyone except into a wall.”

“You were the one who came running to help me!” she shrieked.

“No. I came to help my fellow SeeDs, knowing just what you were like,” he replied with a sneer. “And the first thing you did prove to them was that your people are incompetent!”

“Stop.” And they did, both looking to him. “This is getting nowhere, and the only thing left to say is this: You have my apology for not personally letting you know that we had resigned as SeeDs and would therefore no longer be able to assist the Forest Owls.” He turned and headed for the exit.

“You can’t just leave! I’m not done talking to you!”

He ignored her and kept going, and moments later he was outside, Seifer was with him, and the guard was locking the door.

“Aw, why’d you have to ruin my fun,” Seifer drawled. “I was just working up to an excellent rant.”

“Honestly?” he said, gazing at Seifer. “I was developing a headache from the sound of her voice.”

They found out later that while she and her comrades were being escorted to the airstation that she had managed to get the drop on the guards with the help of Zone and Watts and had escaped custody.