The Battle of the Gardens is fought between the flying vessels of Balamb Garden and Galbadia Garden between the SeeD forces under the command of Squall Leonhart and the Galbadian Army under the command of Sorceress Ultimecia (within the body of Sorceress Edea).
As both military academies were built with mobility devices by the Centra civilization, the battle begins after Galbadia Garden intercepts Balamb Garden mid air nearby Edea's Orphanage. Squall, recently appointed commander of the Garden, leads the ensuing battle against his rival, Seifer Almasy, Ultimecia's Knight.
The targeting of SeeD begins when a team of SeeD mercenaries receives orders to assassinate the Galbadian Ambassador, Ultimecia (using Sorceress Edea's name and body), during her inauguration ceremony in Deling City. The assassination is a failure and the SeeD mercenaries are captured and jailed in D-District Prison. Ultimecia holds the SeeD responsible and orders a missile attack on Balamb and Trabia Gardens.
Following the prisoners' escape from D-District Prison and Balamb Garden's survival, Ultimecia utilizes Galbadia Garden's Centra tech to make it mobile and outfits it for use in Galbadia's forces as a means to combat the now-mobile Balamb Garden.
The Battle of the Gardens starts in the south Centra continent, northeast of the Cape of Good Hope, just east of Edea's Orphanage, and continues on over the continent's Lenown Plains near the Almaj Mountains.
On the way to investigating a lead in the Centra continent, Balamb Garden is intercepted by Galbadia Garden. Seeing the battle as inevitable, Commander Squall Leonhart issues orders from the bridge to the soldiers and cadets: 1st and 2nd Class Sabers are to assemble in the Garden's parking lot, personnel with MG Ranks 3 and above are to head for the second floor deck and await instructions.
Anticipating the Galbadians would attempt to come aboard, Squall concentrates his forces at the Front Gate and the Quad, splitting the forces by their Student ID. He ensures the protection of the junior classmen by ordering those with an 8 at the end of their IDs to supervise them. He descends to the headmaster's office to organize his team into two groups, one to oversee each force in the Front Gate and Quad. He orders Zell's group to take care of Rinoa. Taking his group, he heads to the Quad, organizing the students under his command along the way to find that Zell is already there. Nida calls Squall back to the Bridge to inform him of Seifer leading the Galbadian troops.
The battle joinsEdit
Seifer releases the first wave of rocket propelled motorcyclists, launching them from the Garden's front gate and over the bridging gap between the vessels. Squall issues evasive maneuvers and warns the Quad team of the incoming attack. Galbadia Garden rams into Balamb Garden, damaging its structure, which sends Rinoa falling and clinging to the edge of Balamb Garden, as the path underneath her crumbles. Unable to help her, Zell moves back to inform Squall, just as Squall moves to the Front Gate to reinforce the defense; he is called back again as the classrooms come under attack. Forced to make fast decisions, he orders part of his team to go with Xu to reinforce the Front Gates, another to assist him in defending the classrooms, and Zell to help Rinoa.
Ascending to the second floor classrooms, Squall's team intercepts the inbound Paratroopers and wards them away from the junior classmen sheltered there. Once again called to the Bridge, he reports the damage to Dr. Kadowaki, estimating that they would not be able to hold off another wave. The Front Gate team and Zell return to report: Zell informs the only way to get to Rinoa is either by going over the roof or flying to her.
Irvine, Selphie, Quistis and Zell talk Squall into saving Rinoa while they prepare to invade Galbadia Garden. Before leaving for her, he gives a speech over the P.A system encouraging everyone for the final battle, displaying Squall's change from the lone wolf he used to be to the born leader.
Nida rams Balamb Garden into Galbadia Garden and the two vessels are locked up allowing the SeeD to board the rival vessel.
On his way to save Rinoa, Squall comes under attack from a paratrooper in an armored hover-suit in the Garden second floor hallways. Squall opens the emergency exit as the paratrooper rams him, and both tumble out. Squall grabs onto the hover-suit as they fall, prying the paratrooper out as both grab onto the suit's emergency cable and engage in a fistfight. Defeating the assailant, Squall uses the trooper's hover-suit to winch Rinoa to safety, landing aboard Galbadia Garden as the SeeD force the Galbadian army back.
Squall and Rinoa enter Galbadia Garden's classrooms from a rear entrance and rejoin the rest of the team. Squall leads them through the complex, encountering the fatigued Raijin and Fujin who let them pass without incident. They access the headmaster's office where they face off with Seifer. After Seifer's defeat, Ultimecia (as Edea) shifts through the floor down to the Auditorium. Squall and his team follow her and defeat her, ending the Battle of the Gardens, as well as Ultimecia's possession of Edea Kramer.
Rinoa receives Edea's sorceress powers and becomes a sorceress. Sorceress Ultimecia (who had been using Edea's body as her own to further her plans) possesses Rinoa and awakens Seifer, ordering him to salvage the Lunatic Pandora. Rinoa falls into a coma. At her house Edea explains her actions and the nature of Ultimecia, the sorceress from the future. She tells the party about the White SeeD, advises them on how to find Ellone, and stays at her house, accompanied by Headmaster Cid, her husband.
- The Battle of the Gardens is the second time the transformed Galbadia Garden is seen; it was first seen near Balamb Town during its occupation. It is never seen moving; it "disappears" from its original point and "appears" over Balamb. This happens again when the Garden appears over Centra. After the battle, Galbadia Garden is never seen again, neither mobile nor stationary. It is not implied whether or not the Garden was destroyed in the conflict.
- There might have been an error either in translation or in the instructions given regarding the students with IDs ending with 8 taking care of the junior classmen, because a student with the ID number 16, which is a multiple of 8, was taking care of the junior classmen when they were instructed by Squall to leave the classroom for the infirmary.