The game starts in March, the beginning of Spring and a typical time for love to blossom. Rinoa, who has recently turned 17, shows up at an open dance party for SeeD graduates. She's dressed for the occasion but can't find Seifer.
Seifer was a friend of Rinoa's from the summer before. She met him by chance in Timber and instantly pointed out how tough and cool he was, something that got his attention. She admired him and thought she was in love with him but didn't know how he felt.
It was Seifer who introduced Rinoa to Headmaster Cid in order to help the Forest Owls in liberating Timber from Galbadia. Since Seifer failed to become a SeeD, he was not present at the graduation celebration where Rinoa expected to meet him.
Alone on the dance floor, Rinoa looks up through the glass roof to notice a shooting star. Feeling someone's eyes on her, she lowers her head and notices that someone else saw it, too. She points to where star was, smiles, then walks towards him.
There are plenty of students dancing and it's embarrassing to be alone, so she takes the opportunity to get a partner. Rinoa is sure of her impressionable skills in making strangers open up to her, so she determinedly invites the wallflower to dance with her by 'casting a spell'. When he doesn't give in to her charms, she drags him onto the dance floor. Rinoa is very used to getting what she wants and although she won't take "no" for an answer, he hasn't rejected her yet.
Her partner doesn't attempt to dance properly at the start but Rinoa's forgiving smiles eventually convince him to enjoy himself. Their dance is interrupted by fireworks and Rinoa takes the moment to look at him more closely. Just then, she recognizes someone behind him and decides it's time to leave. Rinoa excuses herself and quickly walks to Headmaster Cid.
Rinoa explains to Cid how the Forest Owls need SeeD's help but don't have the funding. In fact, no resistance faction in Timber has such money and if they don't get SeeD's help, nobody will ever be able to free Timber. Impressed by her heartfelt dedication to free Timber, Cid surprisingly gives the go ahead for liberating Timber, immediately. He creates a vague contract for the SeeDs dispatched, one where they will work for Rinoa until Timber is liberated. Rinoa doesn't understand the terminology used and Cid rewrites it so that she can understand. The contract also states that the SeeD members deployed cannot be replaced.
After a long night and travelling back to Timber, Rinoa indulges in one of her worst habits: sleeping in. Everyone is too scared to wake her up, anyway. Her room on the Forest Owls train is well funded, almost lavish for a resistance base. It's only because most of her real bedroom's contents were brought and stored there to make her feel more at home.
The train screeching to a halt wakes her up, and she finds the stranger from the night before in her room. She's overly excited to see that Cid has sent SeeD members already and jumps to hug him. He's uncomfortable by her sudden actions and introduces himself as Squall. Rinoa offers a handshake and Squall returns it, something he has only reluctantly shared with anyone else, even during his graduation.
Rinoa is let down when Squall tells her that Seifer is not a SeeD, nor among the dispatched group, which explains why Seifer was not at the dance party. After the introductions, Rinoa makes a passing remark about Squall's ability to dance but he brushes it off as part of work. Rinoa is overjoyed that Cid decided to dispatch SeeD specialists so quickly but continues to wonder about Seifer.
That COOL SeeD came!
SeeD, SeeD, SeeD!! They REALLY came!
We really needed Balamb Garden's combat specialists. 'We', being 'The Forest Owls', a resistance group. We're a small resistance group but we do what we can, right? I'm so glad I spoke to Headmaster Cid directly, I never expected him to be such a GREAT guy! He promised SeeD would aid our cause and here they are!
Also, the COOL looking guy who I danced with last night at the Garden Party came! Funny coincidence, don't you think? He learnt how to dance fast but says it only had to do with his job, he must be some pro. Nice to meet you, Squall! One more thing... yup, seems he's ok with Angelo, too.
...but, Seifer didn't come. He's not yet a SeeD apparently. I guess that's why he didn't meet me at the party. He really wanted to help me... I wonder if he didn't want to see me.
Seifer introduced me to Mr. Cid a while back. We were supposed to have a formal discussion with Cid so I can request SeeD's help, but HE wasn't there. Things were looking bad, thankfully Cid was so nice to me after I told him everything. We had so little money to offer, but he gave the go ahead right away!
Now, we can work harder for Timber's freedom. Our first plan is to confront the president himself, Vinzer Deling!
–Rinoa at Timber
Squall, Zell and Selphie are unimpressed by the Forest Owls' lack of organization and Rinoa notices it. As though unaffected by their criticisms, Rinoa frigidly lays out the plans for a mission which needed SeeD: kidnapping the president of Galbadia, Vinzer Deling.
The SeeDs and Forest Owls carry out the job. However, due to false information meant to lure the Forest Owls out, they are tricked into capturing a decoy that looks like him, GeroGero. The zombie-like decoy taunts Rinoa for being an amateur while she cowers away. The SeeDs quickly defeat GeroGero but the Forest Owls are still shocked by the turn of events.
The real President Deling, now at Timber's TV station, prepares to make the first TV broadcast to the world in 17 years. It was not possible before because of the interference. They ponder what the announcement would be about and Rinoa begins planning to make an announcement to declare Timber's freedom. The Owls crouch down to think of the plan while Rinoa shows her contract to Squall, to remind him that the SeeDs are still working for her.
When they arrive in Timber, Squall and Rinoa have an argument over how unorganized her plans are. He tells her that she can't possibly be serious about liberating Timber. Rinoa storms off saying they will cancel the plan and disperse for now. This leaves Squall feeling a little guilty because her passion for Timber was genuine.
Squall's party then watches as President Deling begins to make a peace proposition to the world. He starts by introducing an ambassador to all countries who will be "the Witch". However, the broadcast is interrupted by Seifer. Seifer attacks everyone and takes Deling hostage. Quistis also appears and tries to calm the situation down, requesting the rest of the SeeDs in the area watching to join her. When the SeeDs arrive at the TV station, Zell accidentally mentions that they are from Garden. Deling takes the opportunity to make a threat against Garden, saying that if anything happens to him, Galbadia's Army will attack Garden.
Seifer then drags Deling to a nearby room where the Witch appears and offers him a way out of the predicament. When the party follows him in, she uses her powers to incapacitate them and mesmerize Seifer. Deling takes the chance to run away, while the Witch and Seifer disappear by magic. Because of what has happened, Deling immediately calls Galbadia's forces to attack Timber and destroy the Forest Owl Base.
Outside, Rinoa is worried about the other Forest Owl members, as she heard their base was found and destroyed by the Galbadian Army. Having seen what happened on the large TV at Timber Square, Rinoa runs into the TV station to find Seifer. Since the Forest Owls are good at escaping and hiding, Rinoa is sure that they're alive and well.
Since the contract with SeeD says that they must help the Forest Owls until Timber's liberation, Squall, Zell, Selphie and now Quistis have no choice but to escape the city and take Rinoa to a place of safety. Rinoa jokes with Squall by saying it's his client's order to protect her, but he replies in a formal manner. Luckily, the Chief of the Forest Fox finds Rinoa and invites everyone to hide at her house until the Galbadian Army begins to leave the city.
Inside, Rinoa explains why Seifer appeared. She believes Seifer was there to help the Forest Owls because she talked about it with him. She hopes that nobody thinks badly of him. Quistis confirms Rinoa's beliefs, explaining his reaction to finding out who was dispatched to Timber.
Everyone wonders whether Seifer is going to be all right but Squall simply states that he may be dead now. Rinoa is shocked by this and reacts by telling Squall that he's a terrible person. Squall then explains why Seifer is most likely dead but Rinoa interrupts, saying she still hopes he's alive. When Squall says that whatever she thinks is none of his business, Rinoa has an outburst and Squall unexpectedly apologizes.
The influx of Galbadian Soldiers dies down and the group makes their way out of Timber. Squall and Quistis decide that their next course of action should be to head for Galbadia Garden as they can't go back to Balamb Garden.
While exploring Timber, they stop by Timber Hotel. The owner, Francesca DiMarco says she can't let Rinoa stay due to the amount of Galbadian Soldiers about but wishes her luck. The lobby houses a diorama of model trains and Squall can tease Rinoa about it being better than her own model. He eventually makes an apology, seemingly worried about hurting her feelings.
Near Timber's gates, Galbadian Soldiers are picking fights with Security Guards who support the resistance. Their argument sounds very much like one of Rinoa and Squall's arguments from earlier. The Soldiers say if Timber's people were loyal to Galbadia, the city would thrive. The Guards say they could never be happy with a life of blindly following orders and doing what they don't believe in. As the Soldiers try to kill the two guards, Rinoa screams and rushes to their aid.
On their way to the train, Rinoa finds Watts and later Zone hiding in disguise. Although Rinoa assures them that she will be fine, both Watts and Zone also remind Squall to take good care of her. Zone also gives them train tickets in order to get to Galbadia Garden. Inside the train, Quistis mentions having to thank Zone somehow and Rinoa points out that he likes naughty magazines.