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Disclaimer: Square owns FFIX and all its stuff. Yeup. Sue me and get my report card. ^^;
Notes: A slightly different take on Kuja dropping Zidane on Gaia, and the events that follow. Well, different enough. A few spoilers here and there. Enjoy!

Silver and Gold
By: Sforzie

The original Genomes on Terra weren't blonde angels like Zidane. No. They were silver-tressed freaks like me. Twenty-four in number, we grew up together. We did everything together, a soul-less mass of children born only knowing that they were created to serve.

But even from my earliest memories, I was different.

Something had went wrong in my data processing, leaving me with a duet of feathers hiding in my hair. The ancient Terrans had had feathers too, but for some reason Garland didn't want this in the new strain of Genome.

The Genomes walked in two straight lines. Marching to Garland's orders, marching on into oblivion. I was always straggling behind.

"Come on, feather head," Garland would snap. "Hurry up or you'll be left behind." None of us had names then. I was remembered because I was different. Left behind? No, I was already far ahead of them, and he knew it. But I wasn't supposed to be--we were all supposed to be the same. I was ruining his carefully planned perfection.

The Genomes all went to bed at a certain time, sleeping for as long as they were told to. I would lay awake, my mind never quieting properly.

I wanted to know...everything.

 

But one day the world changed. I was about five. One morning I woke up, and found myself alone in the room that we Genomes had shared. I looked for them all over Bran Bal, but to no avail. My little feet eventually led me to the observatory, where I found Garland.

"Where is everyone?" I called nervously. My tail twitched anxiously as Garland turned to face me.

"They've returned to Terra," he said evenly. "As you should have."

"What do you mean?" I took a few steps closer. Garland seemed to consider answering this, but ended up shaking his head.

"Come here, boy," he said.

"Boy?" the word echoed foreign on my lips. It was a new distinction--all the Genomes had been the same. There had never been any consideration of gender. That would have just made me even more different than them.

Garland sighed. "You need a name." He tilted his head. "Kuja."

"Kuja?"

An irritated smirk passed over my creator's lips. "Yes. Your name is Kuja. If I, or anyone else, says that word, we're talking to you. Or about you."

"Anyone else..."

I would learn a short while later that Garland had injected a biotoxin into all of the Genomes. We had been a failure, and he was already hard at work on a new version.

For some reason, the toxin didn't kill me. It did, however, stunt the growth of a few glands whose malfunction would lead me to a young death. Why I did not die then, I do not know.

Sometimes now I wish I had.

I was six when the first of the new Genomes were created. They were blonde. They had tails too, but theirs were creme-colored. Not the lovely silver-violet hue that mine posessed. Again I was different.

I was Kuja.

A lot of the blonde Genomes returned to Terra before Garland quit killing them off. It took a year, but he finally came up with a version that he deemed 'perfect'. He spent a great deal of time working on a particular Genome, one that he would give a soul.

A Golden Angel to replace his Silver one.

I had learned to revere my own name, but that had taken time. It took only a few days for me to learn to despise the name of the new Genome.

Zidane.

He was...perfect. Garland was right. I remember the first time I looked at him. He stared up at me with wide blue eyes, nearly the same color as mine. Despite only being a few days old, he had the form and figure of a five year old.

I had never hated anything before. Yet, the emotion that overwhelmed me at the sight of Zidane could be nothing but hate. I wanted to kill him. He was so little compared to me. How could he be better? Garland insisted that he was. I didn't want to believe him.

That stupid innocent expression. The cutely wiggling tail. The mindless adoration of Garland. The soul.

Why did Garland make him any better than me?

Why was Gold valued more than Silver...

We were both given souls, so why was his so much better? I clung to my own soul until the bitter end...

I was a hopeless narcissist from the start. I loved my name. I would say it repeatedly, until Garland would strike me into silence. Even then I would keep saying it in my head. I loved myself. I loved my hair, my tail, my neat hands and smooth skin, my eyes... I loved being me. Kuja. The survivor. The one with feathers. The one who was different. The violet plumed Angel of Death.

But then Zidane was created, and ruined everything.

Even amongst the other blonde Genomes that had been created along the same standards as he, Zidane always stood out. He darted among his fellows, tail twitching as he curiously took in the world he had taken from me.

I would stand just like the others, watching him silently. Hating him from any number of distances.

He would bounce up to me, his cute little face peering up at mine. Oh, how a brother could be so easily loathed!

"Hello, Ku-jah!" Zidane would chirrup brightly, invading my personal space with gleeful abandon. "What are you doing?"

"Standing here," I'd say. "Plotting to kill you."

This would always make Zidane laugh. Despite being the new Angel, he had no concept of Death. I could tell him that I was going to kill him until I was blue in the face, but he would see it as nothing more than a game.

"Ku-jah," Zidane would ask, his voice always saying my name in a slightly mocking tone, "Why are you different?"

"Why are you?" I'd return.

"I'm not different, I'm just better," Zidane would laugh, hopping around me. Being around him made me tired. I knew it was just the after-effects of the bio-toxin, but in time I forgot about that. In time Zidane became the new toxin. Zidane sapped my strength and curbed my intellect. Zidane made me weak.

I had to get rid of him.

 

Despite (or perhaps because of) his boundless energy while being awake, Zidane was a hard sleeper. I knew this quite well, because the boy usually slept in my room. In my bed, at that. I spent most of my nights wandering listlessly through the research complex.

My mind would never rest. It dwelled on revenge.

I would stand over Zidane while he slept, watching his even breathing and wondering how hard it would be to smother the life out of him. Would he fight back? He was smaller than me, but Garland had created him to be stronger...

I never tried to get my bed back from him. I just took a blanket from the storage room and shuffled off to some lonely corner.

For four years I put up with Zidane. He continued to be cute and obnoxious, and Garland continued to dote on him. I was jealous, I know. What else was I supposed to be? I had been created for a specific purpose, and now that had been taken away.

I wondered what Garland wanted with me. Zidane was still little, so Garland didn't quite trust him yet with the responsibilities that came with being a mass murderer. I asked to go to Gaia and take up the slack until Zidane was ready, but Garland refused. He didn't trust me. He thought I would mess up the job.

So I just sat by for four years. I took to harassing the other Genomes behind Garland and Zidane's backs. They never fought back. Garland never noticed when one went missing.

They looked so much like Zidane, that it almost made up for not being able to do away with the real article. Their little surprised cries of pain were satisfying enough. They looked so empty when they died. Their blank blue eyes would be fixed on me, but their minds were a million miles away...

Killing them meant nothing. They were just shells. It wouldn't be like killing something with a soul. Me. Garland. Zidane. Or anyone on Gaia...

I was more than ready to be the Angel, but Garland would not allow it.

 

Then one night I was standing over Zidane's sleeping form. The little rat had once again beaten me to my own bunk, and was fast asleep. We were on the Invincible, over Gaia, and he had his own suite on the ship. But no, there he was, persistent in his invasion of my everything.

I frowned, my slender hands curling into fists. "I have lost almost everything already to you, Zidane. I will not lose another night of sleep to you as well." My frown deepened. "I will never lose another night's sleep to you. And I will lose nothing else."

To my surprise, Zidane's right eye slid open and stared at me. He didn't seem to break in his breathing pattern, but I remained motionless over him. My heart pounded as I waited for the eye to close.

I had waited eleven years for something. For eleven years--all of my short existence--I had never been wanted nor needed. I vowed to change that at that moment.

The eye did not close, and after a few minutes I noticed the faint smile on Zidane's lips. He was awake.

"Get out," I growled softly. The golden line of a brow arched on Zidane's face. For a moment I faltered--I had never actually challenged him before. I had known better than to do something that foolish. That night I didn't care.

I grabbed him by the collar and pulled him from the comfort of bed. "Why don't you ever listen?!" My voice was shrill, and I was glad for once that Garland slept several decks up. Zidane cried out in alarm, struggling against my grip. My fears were lessened--he wasn't as strong as me yet. I held fast, throwing his small form at the door to my room. He tripped the sensor as he neared it, and the door slid open just before he collided. The opposite wall of the corridor stopped him.

Zidane got back to his feet, shaken but fine. He looked at me, his expression still clouded by sleep.

"What's wrong, Ku-jah?" he said in a mildly sweet tone. He was trying to be cute. It had always worked for him before. I was tired of the cuteness.

"Get away from me!" I stood in the doorframe, my hands still in fists.

"Do you want to play, Ku-jah?" Zidane's voice was mocking, a hint of challenge present.

"No, I want to kill you, Zidane," I growled. He looked at me blankly. "You remember the other Genomes, don't you?"

"They returned to Terra," Zidane said simply. "Just like you should have."

The echoing of Garland's words angered me further. "And just like you shall!"

I lurched at him, but he darted away and broke into a run down the corridor. I hesitated for a moment, until a voice in my head shrieked 'Do your job!' and spurred me into pursuit. It didn't take me long to figure out where Zidane was headed. The elevator was at the end of the hall, and if he got to it he'd go to Garland.

This little game of pursuit would likely be my last if Garland found out about it.

My brain kicked out in a panic, and a single word found my voice.

"Zidane!"

For once, I seemed to get lucky. Zidane was rounding the corner when I called out his name, and he glanced over his shoulder at me. The boy's bare feet lost their grip with the smooth green floor, and he tripped into the wall. I nearly caught up with him by the time he got back to his feet. I grabbed at him, my fingers curling around the part of him that was closest to me.

Zidane shrieked and lost his footing again as I took hold of his tail. He hit the floor hard, and I was over him quickly, letting go of his tail and grabbing his collar instead. I pulled him up, wrapping an arm around his thin waist and nearly dragging him down the hall. He squirmed as the elevator came into view.

"Kuja!" I had never heard him angry before. I had never heard him pronounce my name properly either. I smirked. "What are you doing?!"

"I won this little game," I said in a sour tone. "So now I'm doing what I should have done four years ago."

Zidane continued to struggle in my arms as I hit the key for the mid-deck. "Kuja, don't! Please! I didn't do anything to you!"

I laughed roughly. "You have no idea, you little brat."

"Please don't send me back!" Zidane wailed, trying to break free of my grip.

"Send you back?" I tilted my head thoughtfully. I knew he meant Terra, but my mind thought of something else. My eyes lit up. "Of course..."

"Wha-?" Zidane looked at me suspiciously as I hit another key. Main deck. A deck above the safety of Garland, and also where the off-ship transporters were.

"You're a lucky little brat, Zidane," I laughed as the elevator stopped and the doors slid open. I dragged him off the lift. "I'm not going to kill you!"

"What do you mean?"

"Hahahaha!" I laughed eagerly. It was perfect! If I got rid of Zidane, Garland would have to let me do his job. My job. And if I dumped Zidane on Gaia, I would get the pleasure of knowing he was down there to die while I played Angel of Death on the planet. He would be all alone and afraid, and then I would come for him. Garland couldn't protect Zidane if he didn't know where he was.

"Kuja!" Zidane wailed again, but I ignored him. My mind was set.

"Good-bye, Zidane," I said in a sing-song voice. "Good-bye, my little brother."

"Why are you doing this?!"

"Because I love you," I spat sarcastically as I threw him into the nearest transporter. He struck the wall and slipped to the floor, unconscious. I watched him for a moment, breathing heavily. His tail twitched. I smirked again, going to the controls.

"Maybe Garland will kill me for this," I said brightly as I played with the controls. "If I'm lucky. Maybe."

With a hit of a final key, Zidane's form shimmered and disappeared. I smirked, tail swishing with satisfaction.

Garland wouldn't be pleased, but I didn't care.

I prayed that I would never see Zidane again...

 

To say that Garland was upset when he found out what I'd done would be a massive understatement.

When I came to a few days later, I was being stared at by one of the blonde Genomes. For a brief moment of panic I thought that Garland had somehow been able to retrieve Zidane from Gaia.

"No!" I gasped softly, my body still aching from Garland's wrath. The Genome cocked its head curiously, and after a moment I recognized the not-quite-there expression.

"Oh... it's just you, Mikoto..."

The Genome was a replacement for Zidane, I knew. She had been created just a little while after him, but I had never thought much about her. Mikoto was even more of a lab rat than Zidane, rarely ever leaving the research ward. Yes, she was to be our replacement, but I don't think Garland intended on actually using her for the job. She was still more like the other Genomes mentally than like Zidane and I had been.

"What you did was wrong, Kuja," Mikoto said evenly, her arms crossed behind her back.

"I don't care," I muttered, rolling onto my side to alleviate the pain in my back. I hissed sharply--the pain in my side was almost as bad.

"Garland should have returned you to Terra," Mikoto said slowly. I scowled.

"I almost wish he had."

"I'm sure it can be arranged."

I caught her eye, looking at her suspiciously. She seemed to be hiding something.

"What do you want, Mikoto?"

"Nothing," she said simply. "Garland wanted me to watch you."

"W-why?"

"He says that you'll have to be punished for what you did to his Angel," Mikoto blinked slowly at me as I tried to sit up.

"You mean the beating wasn't the punishment?"

"Garland says that none of the Silver-typed Genomes are worth anything to anyone," she said. I detected something incidious in her tone.

"I'm different," I whispered, thinking back to long passed conversations with Zidane.

"I know," Mikoto said. I wished that she would smirk or laugh or do something, but her face remained an emotionless mask. "Garland says that the beating wasn't good enough punishment for a reject like you."

Her arms uncrossed, and I was surprised to feel the sharp sting of her hand against my cheek. She was stronger than she looked. Mikoto had spent too much time around Garland. I wondered, as I sprawled back on the floor, if she had ever felt the pain that came from being backhanded. Probably not.

"You're not even good enough to die, Kuja," Mikoto said, staring down at me. The wickedness in her tone must have been placed there by Garland. She started to turn and walk away, but stopped, bringing her foot down hard on my tail. I cried out in pain, drawing my tail between my legs to protect it. Mikoto sniffed in annoyance as she walked away.

 

I remained on the floor for a long time. It was impossible to tell how long. The humm of the Invincible was unending. My pain seemed similarly immortal. I trembled, trying not to cry.

I hated Zidane even more then. I wished that I hadn't been such a coward. I wished that I could have just killed him. I wished that I could have retaliated against Mikoto, or escaped the harsh hand of my master.

My master... Garland... the only father figure I had. The only mother figure as well. He was unfit to be either.

I stared at the ceiling, my mind hovering over a definite point for hours. I couldn't focus on it. The message at the point was important for me, I knew. It would define me, my purpose, my soul, my existence...

I don't remember crying, but my cheeks were wet.

I was just a little boy. I was only eleven.

I was bruised and beaten and battered. My cheek was swollen. My sides were cramped. There was a sharp pain in my back. The fingers of my left hand were numb. My legs felt as distant as waters of Terra.

I thought the pain would go away with Zidane, but it didn't.

The Silver was still less valuable than the Gold.

 

I think a long time passed before Garland finally came to see me. I was still on the floor, too weak to move.

"Get up, and come with me," he ordered. But I couldn't move. I had a hard time even recognizing my limbs. I couldn't even think to remember how to move them. I just wanted to remain there on the floor forever.

I wanted to die.

Garland glared at me in annoyance, leaving me again for another unknown period of time. I just layed there, breathing slowly, trying to focus my thoughts long enough to figure out what it was that I was missing.

He did not return for me. Instead, two of his soulless Genomes were sent to collect me. They weren't strong enough to carry my limp form, and so a third and four hand to be summoned.

I was taken down to the research center, and placed in a tube similar to the one that we had all been born in. I was too weak to stand, and had to be strapped upright. The straps were tight and dug into my skin, but I didn't care.

"Do not worry, Kuja," one of the Genomes said in its even tone. It held a syringe in its hand, running cold fingers along my arm. The needle was long and stabbed deep into my flesh. "We will take care of you."

I was beyond worry at that point. My lids were heavy as I watched a mass of grey fluid disappear into my arm. I was too weak to tell them that I didn't want to live. That I had no point in living. That I wanted to die.

Garland's words in Mikoto's voice echoed through the fog in my mind.

I wasn't fit to die.

 

I didn't think to ask how long I was in the care of my Golden siblings, but I turned twelve a short while after my release.

My room had remained untouched for the months that I had been gone.

I stood in front of my bed, wearing a long grey robe. The sheets were still in a disarray from the night I had sent Zidane away. I clutched my arms across my chest, hugging myself tightly. Trying to stop the trembling that overtook me as remembered that night.

I was still tired, despite my recovery.

The sheets still smelled of him.

 

I woke during the 'night'. It was pitch black in my room, and for a long moment I remained disorientated. There was no comforting glow of bio-tubes here. I felt, then, that I understood why it was so good to be a mindless Genome. I wished for it, but oblivion would not come.

Oblivion...

I sat up in bed, staring at a glimmer of light on the far wall. It was the chronometer. The pale glow of numbers said that the sun would rise in a few hours over Gaia's Mist continent. I wondered if Zidane would see the sun. I wondered what it would be like to be in his place.

There had been twenty-three others like me, but they were all gone now. They had been for a long time. I was different and alone.

I closed my eyes, looking for the point that had eluded me for so long.

 

My self esteem had been shattered by what had happened with Zidane. I had hardly had any to begin with, but it was now completely lost. For two years I wallowed in self resentment, doing what Garland told me to. I was nervous and shy.

I was always thinking.

My thoughts had lost their focus on revenge. They floated about, still always searching for my point. They tended to shy away from anything relating to Zidane. My mind equated him with pain, with weakness.

On my fourteenth birthday, I found my point in a dream.

 

**I was on Terra again. I stood as I was. Fourteen, nearly as tall as I was going to get. The wind was warm, although the sun was cold. I stared up at the strange buildings surrounding me, watching the way the light glinted off of them.

When I looked back down, they were there. All twenty-three of them. They were as I had last seen them, only five years old. Cute and innocent, their silver-violet hair barely reaching their shoulders.

I dropped to my knees in front of them, unable to stop the tears. I sobbed, knowing I looked pathetic, but that was only because I was pathetic...

I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. Looking up, I found they were all standing around me, gentle smiles on their faces. I stared into the mass of blank blue eyes. It was like looking at myself two dozen times over.

"Don't cry, brother," the one with its hand on my shoulder said. I knew enough now to know the subtle differences between male and female, but with them it didn't matter. They'd died not knowing how different they really were.

"Brother..." the word was heavy on my lips. "How do you know who I am?"

"You're one of us, Kuja," another said.

"But you're all gone," I whispered, shaking as I looked at them. They shook their heads, not quite in unison.

"We're not all gone. You're still alive, Kuja. You've got a soul. You're the only Silver one left..."

Their words echoed my thoughts in a innocent tone. I tilted my face down, closing my eyes.

"But I don't know what to do..."

"You already know." The voice was changed. I looked up in surprise. My Silver siblings had disappeared, replaced by a single form. The form was tall and thin, wrapped in a dark purple robe. Silver-violet hair reached the shoulders and tumbled down the back. The blue eyes were deep and familiar.

At first I thought it was a she, the face was so delicate and beautiful. The fingers holding onto the robe were slender. But then the figure spoke, and I knew the truth.

"Get up, Kuja," he said in a deep, smooth tone.

"Are you an angel?" I whispered questioningly. He smiled, his lips curving into a seductively amused smile.

"No," he said in the same entrancing tone. He let go of the robe and held a hand out to me. "You are."

I took his hand, rising to my feet. I was afraid to let go, but after a while he pulled his fingers free from my grasp, returning his hold to the edge of the robe.

"Kuja..." he looked up for a moment, squinting into the light.

"Yes?" I was hesitant. My name hadn't meant anything good in a long time. He looked at me again, still smiling faintly.

He lifted a hand again, resting it against my cheek. "Why have you let yourself fall apart?"

"I... I don't want to live anymore," I whispered.

"And why not?"

"I don't know... I don't know why I didn't die with the others."

He sighed, shaking his head lightly. The light of Terra danced on his silvery tresses, and I couldn't help but stare.

"You used to love yourself, Kuja. What happened?"

"Zidane."

"Zidane happened," he repeated. "I know. He took everything from you..."

I nodded, my eyes stinging again. His hand squeezed my cheek.

"Kuja... you have to take it back."

"Take it back?"

"You nearly did once, but you failed." He dropped his hand from my face. "Don't worry, you still have time to make up for it."

"I do?"

He smiled and nodded. "You have the power inside you to beat him again."

He pulled me into a hug, holding me tight. I could hear his heart--it was beating in time with mine....**

When I opened my eyes again I was alone in the darkness of my room. But I could still feel him close. His words echoed in my head.

A weak and uncertain laugh passed through my lips. I smiled, looking around in the darkness. I stumbled out of bed, turning on the lights. The floor was cold under my bare feet. I pulled on my robe, cinching the soft dark fabric tightly around my waist. I padded down the hall, my steps made light by the fact that I'd neglected to put on any shoes. I reached the washroom far at the end of the hall, and locked myself inside.

I turned the light on, staring at myself in the mirror.

My hand went to my throat, nearly choking off the surprised gasp that broke free.

It was him, from my dream.

True, the form in my dream had been somewhat taller, and didn't have the sleepless rings under his eyes. And his hair was much better kept... but it was me.

Kuja.

"Kuja," I whispered, touching my reflection in the mirror. "Kuja..."

I remembered, in a brilliant flash, the joy I had felt long ago. The joy of my self.

My hair, my tail, my hands, my skin, my eyes... I had loved myself.

I laughed in delighted surprise at my reflection. I hadn't really looked at myself in a long time. My cheeks were warm beneath my cold fingers.

"Kuja. Kuja. Kuja. Kuja!" I laughed loudly, the sound magnifying in the small room.

The wetness of tears met my fingertips. My eyes shimmered, but I kept smiling.

Pulling my hands from my face, I ran them them through my hair. It had seen better days. I hadn't taken very good care of myself lately. I hadn't seen reason to.

"No more, Kuja, no more." I smiled tapping myself on the nose and giggling. "Kuja. Kuja. Take better care of yourself."

I turned to the shower and ran the water.

"I have to beat them," I said, a smile still straining my face. It hurt to smile, because I'd repressed it for so long. The laughs left my throat dry. It was a better pain than I'd ever felt before.

I stood in the shower for over an hour, nearly scalding myself at first as I tried to rid the dirt of the past few years from my being.

My thoughts returned to the subject of revenge for the first time in ages. I was ready now.

I washed my hair until the wet locks ran smoothly between my fingers. I even gave my neglected tail a scrubbing. I cleaned myself all over, until the water had washed away the pain I'd been carrying.

A hand resting on my hip, the other spread curiously across my stomach. I touched the strange mark there--the books had called it... a belly button? I had never really wondered about it before, but now, all things considered, I wondered why it was there. Was it an artistic flourish? Somehow Garland didn't seem capable of such a thing. I hadn't been born of woman, so it shouldn't have been there. Yet it was...

I laughed, the hand slipping to the other side of my girlish waist. Even my body was defiant of Garland's control.

I dried myself off. While drying my hair, I took special pains to make sure that my naturally unnatural feathers stood up. I was proud of them. Proud of everything that made me different. Everything that made me a threat to Garland.

For the first time I could ever remember, I wasn't afraid to defy Garland.

"You are not the god, Garland," I whispered as I padded back down the hall to my room. "I'm my own god now. I'm the Angel."

It was a happy birthday.

 

That morning I think I scared Garland witless when I breezed onto the bridge of the Invincible.

"Kuja! What the hell are you doing up here?" he snapped. He looked at me in surprise.

"I'm going to help, Garland," I said evenly. Garland eyed me suspiciously. I was out of the usual shade of grey he had forced me into wearing. I wore a pair of white slacks underneath my dark purple robe, and that was all. My tail was hidden, and I hadn't tied my ever-growing hair back like I usually did.

"Someone lit a fire under you," Garland said evenly, sounding disturbed. I held my arms up at my sides, smirking.

"I'm my own fire."

"Foolish boy," Garland said, shaking his head and turning back to the view of Gaia in front of him. The comment would have stung, but I brushed it off and took a few steps closer to Garland.

"Have you forgotten who I am?" I said loudly, watching my master keenly. "I'm all you have left. Your rejected Angel of Death. Kuja."

"Shut up," he snapped, still turned away.

"Why did you bring me along if you didn't plan to include me in your little adventures?" I said, still talking louder than I should have. Garland was silent at this. "I'm here. I'm Kuja. Kuja. Kuja. Ku-jah!"

He whirled to backhand me as he had in the past, but I had already moved away.

"Please let me help," I said in a falsely sweet voice, batting my long dark eyelashes and mimicing an expression that Zidane had used to pull. Garland snorted.

"You're not a child, Kuja," he snapped at me. I smiled broadly.

"You know my name!" I laughed. "How delightful!" I pointed at the expanse of Gaia in front of us. A village was in view. "Now let me help."

"You're not going to leave me alone today, are you?" Garland sighed.

"Nope."

He sighed again, looking at the village. "Fine. This is Madain Sari, a summoner village."

"Summoner village?"

"Don't interrupt," he snapped. I stuck my tongue out at him, but he didn't see it. "They summon Eidolons, very powerful magical creatures. I think that they might try to use the Eidolons against us when we start assimilating Gaia into Terra. So we're going to destroy the village." He stopped, looking over at his shoulder at me with disdain. "Happy now?"

"Paralyzed with happiness," I said mockingly. He looked back at Madain Sari.

"If you are so bent on being my Angel of Death, then it's time you learned how to really kill."

 

Garland spent several hours trying to explain the usage of magic to me, and then trying to demonstrate. Yet I couldn't really understand. I couldn't grasp the knowledge of how he was making the wonderful disturbances appear over the inner eye of the Invincible. Garland eventually got annoyed with my inability to learn, and sent me to bed so that he could continue working on his plans for the summoner village.

I lay awake in bed, fingers toying idly with my feathers. I was frustrated. Garland said that I had been created with the power to use every spell that he had shown me that day. Why couldn't I use them now? Perhaps they had lain too long suppressed, weighed down by nearly a decade of loneliness and misery. I wished that the spectre of myself from my dream would return and tell me what to do...

The bed did not hold me long. I eventually found myself wandering through the decks of the Invincible. I slowed as I neared the massive room that held the ship's eye. A voice, long silent, whispered in my mind.

'You just have to want it.'

The last time I had listened to that voice I had broke into a run, dragging down myself and my accursed little brother.

The last time I had listened... I had challenged my own destiny.

I smiled and nodded, entering the eye's chamber. The walls were bathed in the faint red glow of the eye. I circled around the wall, until I was opposite the control orb.

For several minutes I was silent, uncertain as to what I should do. What the voice had said echoed in my mind.

I just had to want it.

And I did. I did want it, more than anything else at that moment. So I turned to the only place I knew for help.

Throwing my arms up in a flourish similar to what I had seen Garland use in the past, I stared out over the red dome. Closing my eyes, I was surprised at how deep my voice sounded as I cried out to the past.

"Brothers and sisters! My Silver guardians! It is I, Kuja... I know you remember me. I was the only one who was different. And now I'm the only one who's left. Please, help me..." I paused, hearing the words echo loudly in my ears. "Help me remember what I forgot when I lost you!"

I fell silent, listening to the last of my words as they echoed off into a faint oblivion.

After several minutes of silence, I heard something. A faint tinkling at the back of my mind. The laughter of children that had never known joy well enough to make the sound. I felt the strange sensation of little hands running all over me. Petting my tail, playing with my hair, prodding curious little fingers in a million places. I felt a final tap on my nose, and heard the laughter again.

As I opened my eyes, the room around me was void of life. But something had changed.

I remembered.

I could remember them all--every casting, every effect. Their names came to me in a rush. Thundaga, Blizzaga, Firaga, Curaga, Demi, Reflect... Holy, Meteor, Comet, Flare... Life... Death...

"My thanks!" I cried out to the room. "My love!"

I lowered my arms, shifting my gaze to the red dome in front of me.

I cast every spell I could think of onto the eye. Some I cast a few times, relishing the power that I had reclaimed.

Somewhere far below, a storm began to rage.

 

Garland found me there in the morning, still standing next to the eye of the Invincible.

"I see you've figured things out," he said evenly.

"Yes," I whispered. He called up a projection, showing the summoner village. A storm raged overhead.

"Your doing, I suppose, although not on purpose..." Garland squinted momentarily. "The eye magnifies our power." He raised a hand, which glowed red. The eye glowed in response, and in the projection I saw a massive shadow lower toward the village.

"How far are we?"

"We're just above the village," Garland smiled wickedly. "Time for your first test."

The ship reverberated with a ghostly howl as the massive form of a strange looking wolf materialized over the village.

"That...?"

"That is Fenrir, an Eidolon," Garland said.

"Amazing..." I whispered, watching it with wide eyes. Garland smirked.

"Amazing, yet not powerful enough to stop us."

The shadow struck the giant wolf down, and it disappeared in a brilliant flash of light.

I looked at Garland. Despite the ease with which he had dispensed of the Fenrir, I was surprised to see a glint of fear in his eyes. I glanced back at the projection, then back at my master. The look was still there. Did he fear the Eidolons?

A faint smile crept across my lips as an idea came to mind.

"Kuja, I want you to destroy this village," Garland said in a simple tone.

"Destroy it?" Why would I want to destroy such power?

"Yes."

I hesitated, looking as another ghostly form appeared below.

"Carbunkle."

I saw the shimmer of a reflect spell encase the village, but in my heart I knew it would not be enough to protect them. The Invincible was too powerful.

And with it, so was I.

I cast Firaga onto the eye, then Thundaga and Firaga again.

Garland scoffed at this. "Is that all you have? You'll barely activate the eye with such pathetic attacks."

I knew he was egging me on. He wanted to know what I could do.

I cast Flare onto the eye. Fire rained down onto the village, mostly deflected by the reflect spell.

"Better..." Garland said softly. I stared at the eye for a moment, wondering what it took to get the thing working. Garland did it so easily...

I cast Holy on the control orb, watching with a giddy delight as a group of archaic symbols flashed across the eye. The projection overhead showed a blast of shimmering blue energy hit the village. As the Eidolon's reflect spell failed, I cast Flare onto the eye.

Garland was smirking at my eagerness. I watched with wide eyes as the village exploded into flames.

We continued the attack long into the night.

 

When I went to bed the next morning, Madain Sari was little more than rocks and casualties. I smiled up at the ceiling, unable to make myself go to sleep. My mind whirled.

Such power. I'd dreamed of it for years, and now... it was within my reach.

Garland feared the power of the Eidolons.

Someday, he would fear me too.

---

Silver dancing across the sun
Gold falling to earth
Forever holding Silver back
From reaching higher worth...

---
End...