Chapter 3: Riku

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Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Watanabe Daisuke
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Translations: Goldpanner
Copyrighted by Disney Enterprises, Inc and Square Enix. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations. 

<<ЯR>>

In the centre of a dusky room, Zexion stood motionless, arms folded.

Lexaeus appeared. He looked around the room, brows drawn, then drew nearer to Zexion. “What’s happened to Vexen?” he asked.

“He’s finishing the replica based on Riku’s data,” said Zexion, glancing at Lexaeus. If he brings the replica to completion, then we too have a chance.

“And how is Sora?” came the next in Lexaeus’ string of questions.

“They are inserting things into Sora’s memories using Naminé’s arts. If things continue unchecked, he’ll probably become Marluxia’s puppet. Larxene isn’t someone to be trusted, either.” I know that Marluxia and Larxene are plotting something together. Also, there’s one more man in charge of upstairs Castle Oblivion—

“And Axel. No one knows what that one is thinking,” said Lexaeus, sounding displeased.

“Let’s talk to Vexen after we’ve watched the situation for a little while,” said Zexion in a soft tone, finally looking at Lexaeus. Vexen’s number is higher than ours. Our numbers aren’t directly related to our strength or position, but still, he’s simply been our senior ever since we met. And that is from our relationship when we were our real selves—when there were the names Even, Aeleus, and Ienzo.

Perhaps that relationship is broken, or even unreasonable. Because as long as that person is the first Organisation member, we are bound by the world.

“He hates Marluxia. It will get troublesome,” said Lexaeus, looking away from Zexion.

Zexion smiled slightly, and looked down. “And that’s why. Vexen can take care of the trouble instead of us.”

<<ЯR>>

The world on the other side of the door was familiar. Riku walked with slow steps over the slightly rolling deck. Before he knew it, the presence of darkness surrounding his body had lessened, and he’d returned to his original form.

“The power of darkness…,” murmured Riku, and he looked up. The moon drifted overhead. The sound of waves—he was on Captain Hook’s ship.

In that little cabin, he had spent the whole time watching Kairi’s face, which had been unmoving as if in sleep.

The moonlight shone on Riku’s hair, making it glow silver. The hair around his face blew in the ocean breeze. Riku slowly climbed the stairs from the deck to the bridge. From there, he could look out over everything.

“—Sora…,” Riku murmured. The name of a friend who shouldn’t be there.

At the end of his gaze lay no one.

Riku clenched his fists and closed his eyes. Sora’s figure floated before him. He was standing there, shouting up at Riku, who stood on the bridge.

I also—wanted to see you, Riku.

I wonder why I felt so unhappy hearing that, back then.

“Kairi—”

Riku turned and looked at the base of the mast. Kairi’s still sleeping form floated up, like a vision.

Without her heart—she wasn’t Kairi. That’s why I wanted to bring it back to her. But—I wasn’t able to. That’s all I thought about, and then here, I controlled the Heartless and tried to kill Sora. There was no reason for Sora to have wanted to meet me, a person like that…

“Heh heh…,” came a sudden laugh. Riku turned around.

“Who’s there!?”

The shadow at his feet flickered and danced as it rose up to stand before him.

“Hahah—”

The shadow sliced at Riku.

“….urgh!”   That’s right—here, I controlled Sora’s shadow, and made it fight him. His own pitch-black shadow—

What stood there looked just like his old, darkness-manipulating self. The moment he swung the Soul Eater down on the shadow, a dark aura surrounded Riku.

“Ahahahahahaha!” The shadow laughed at Riku, wrapped in darkness, and disappeared.

“So it’s really—no good?”

Riku stared at his own hand, wrapped in darkness. The moon looked down at him.

<<ЯR>>

In the centre of a dusky room, he was watching a large crystal ball. In it, Riku could be seen staring at his own hand.

“What do you think? He’s scared of the dark,” Vexen whispered to him.

It was impossible to gauge his feelings from his facial expression.

“You’re different. You know that, right? You aren’t afraid of the dark.” He nodded quietly at Vexen’s words. “Go. Take in the power of darkness. And then, defeat him!”

He nodded at Vexen’s words once more, and left the room.

<<ЯR>>

Riku continued through the ship as it bobbed on the waves.

The only things that have been showing up are Heartless—And Heartless that I once controlled, at that. The illusions of Sora and Kairi that I saw on the bridge—the people I really want to meet—I can’t. Is there nothing but existences of darkness in the worlds in my memories? –Is that because I’m an existence of darkness?

That’s.

Riku cut down a Heartless with the Soul Eater.

It feels like every time I fight, the smell of darkness wrapped around my body gets stronger.

“Why—why?!”

The more I try to escape from darkness, the stronger the smell of darkness becomes.

Riku stood still in the little hold that faced the Captain’s cabin.

There’s no way Kairi will be happy if you’re hurting people, even if you get her heart back!

The words Sora had yelled in this room seemed to echo in Riku’s ears.

The retribution for those sins—? This is. This is the punishment for gaining the power of darkness to get back Kairi’s heart, is it?

I believe, Riku.

The light won’t abandon you, no way.

Even if you’re in the depths of darkness, the light will reach you!

Those words the King told me—right now, I just can’t believe in them. No one is here by my side—not even the King. What can I do—to make the darkness disappear from my body?

Riku ran down the stairs, going back out onto the deck.

The night wind feels good. It feels good, like not having to think about anything. The breeze that comes from the ocean is a bit like the one at Destiny Island, it feels nice.

But—

“What’s wrong, brat. Where’s your usual pep,” a voice suddenly echoed.

Riku lifted his face at the sound. Standing there was Hook—Maleficent’s crony, and the captain of this ship.

“So you’ve finally showed up. I guess if I defeat you then I can leave this place?” Riku gripped the Soul Eater.

“Ho—You’d point your blade at a former mate?” Hook laughed.

That laugh is horribly dark compared to the Hook I remember.

“If you go on pointing your blade at all your friends, then in the end you’ll be all alone.”

“You’re not my friend!” spat Riku, and he leapt forwards.

Hook stopped the Soul Eater with his hook. “We were once mates though, weren’t we? You belong to the darkness, just like me.”

“You’re wrong!”

“Why would you tell such a lie?” Hook sent Riku flying.

“I’m not lying! I only joined you guys so I could save Kairi.”

“Your goal is of no consequence; you were one of us. Are you to betray your friends like that?”

“Shut up! Silence!” Hook—and Maleficent, they were never supposed to be my friends. My only friends are Sora and the others!

“You should. You’ll strengthen the power of your darkness, doing things like that—Riku.”

“That’s not strengthening!” Riku stood up, and readied the Soul Eater once more.

“Then see your own form!”

At Hooks words, Riku looked around. The smell of darkness is getting stronger again…!

“No matter how far you go, you cannot escape the darkness,” said Hook, pursuing Riku with his sword.

“You’re wrong—!”

Perhaps trying to shake off the aura surrounding himself, Riku swing the Soul Eater about.

“Submit to the power of darkness, Riku!”

“Silence—!!”

Riku dealt a single blow, and Hook’s figure faded away.

“I don’t need the power of darkness…,” muttered Riku, energy drained, letting the Soul Eater drop.

Why… this… Even though I don’t want or need the power of darkness. Even though the darkness isn’t my friend. Bit by bit, I’m losing the ability to believe in myself. The true form I’m searching for… is this it? Without the power of darkness, am I unable to ever beat anyone? Do I have to give up, and let my body submit to the power of darkness?

Riku saw a small door in the corner of the deck.

I even feel like—I don’t want to know the truth.

The truth about myself—

Believe, Riku.

He could hear the King’s voice from somewhere.

“Believe what?” Riku muttered at the King, who he couldn’t see anywhere. I don’t get it.

Even in the deepest darkness, there is definitely light.

Riku shook his head. “I don’t understand…”

I even feel like, the more I fight the darkness inside me, the stronger it becomes…

It’s scary.

I’m scared. I’m scared of myself. I’m scared of the darkness inside myself. I can’t believe in myself.

Believe, Riku.

He heard the King’s voice once more. His voice is powerful, and kind… I still can’t believe in myself right now, but I feel like I can believe if the King says so.

“…I understand, your Majesty,” Riku murmured, and then put one foot forwards.

<<ЯR>>

He was waiting for Riku in the marble hallway.

Certainly…

I was created by a nobody… so who on earth does that make me?

But, there’s no need to harbour such questions. Dark memories occupied his heart. Whether those memories are artificial, or perhaps whether they were originally inside me, I have no idea.

The door opened.

Appearing there was a boy who had the exact same figure as his own.

“Wha—who are you?!”

“Surprised?” he answered, laughing.

Riku stared at the boy in front of him. “You…..”

“Of course you are. We have the same face, after all!” If I were in his shoes, I’d be horribly surprised. “I am a replica of you, created by Vexen,” he—the boy who had exactly the same shape as Riku—the Replica boasted.

“…So you’re a fake me.” Riku readied the Soul Eater.

“…Don’t be so presumptuous,” said the Replica in a tightly controlled voice, open displeasure on his face. “Feeling good, knowing you’re the real one? Our shape and power are exactly the same. There is one decisive difference, though. I’m not a coward, like you.”

The Replica pointed his own blade, exactly the same shape as the Soul Eater, at Riku.

“I’m… a coward?”

“You’re scared of the dark. You think the darkness inside you is oh-so-scary, you’re pathetic!”

The Replica understood what was inside Riku’s heart perfectly. Fear—terror—of the power inside him. The Replica, who had inherited his heart and power and everything from Riku, understood. But, the Replica did not know fear. I have no need for fear. I am no one—If only I could become Riku. If I become Riku and use the power of darkness, I should be even better than the real thing.

“I am different. I accept the darkness, and command the power of darkness freely.” I was created to be alongside the power of darkness. That’s the meaning of my existence… “And so—you can’t beat me!”

The Replica leapt. Thwack, and the huge shockwave travelled through the blade and reached the Replica’s body. It was the first touch he had ever felt—and, the proof that he was himself.

The Replica saw the light glimmering in Riku’s eyes. And then, he was thrown back with huge force.

He’s strong— We are supposed to have equal strength, but he is stronger. Does this mean I still don’t have proper command over my power?

The Replica pushed himself to his knees, glaring at Riku.

Riku slowly walked over to the Replica. “Hey, Fake—didn’t you say I couldn’t beat you?” He pushed the tip of the Soul Eater into the Replica’s throat.

“Huh—I was only just born. I’ll get stronger and stronger from here. Even more than you, very soon. The next time we fight will be your last,” said the Replica, standing up. I shouldn’t have lost—because I’m not afraid of the darkness.

“You won’t get another chance. I’ll finish you here—!”

Riku swung his Soul Eater down, and the Replica swung his blade up.

“Wha—!”

Riku’s body was thrown back. A dark aura began to spiral around the Replica.

The Replica laughed as he stood, looking down at Riku. “Hahaha! Feels great! Making darkness dance to my tune like this! How could you be scared of something this fun! You’re so missing out!”

“Silence!”

“Huh—Is the coward playing at being tough, now. Later, Real Thing! Look forward to next time!” The Replica turned his back on Riku and ran away.

“Wait!”

<<ЯR>>

Riku was strong… Far stronger than me. But, I am him, and he is me… I had full confidence that if I commanded the power of darkness, I would be stronger than the Real Thing. Vexen told me so.

The Replica ran.

This is the first time I’ve ran since I was born. It feels nice. Everything does.

There is power in me—which means, I can gain the power of darkness. It’s fun.

“What was your impression, fighting the real Riku?” came a sudden voice from behind, and the Replica stopped.

“…He’s nothing but a coward. I’ll finish him off soon enough,” the Replica said quietly, back still turned on Vexen, mouth twisted into a smile.

“Before that, don’t you want to meet the other hero?”

The other hero—I know his name. I remember it. The hero of light named Sora. “You mean that Sora guy? He’s in this castle right now, isn’t he. Do you want me to take care of him for you?”

“It should come to that soon, but nothing is decided as of yet. You’re going to be very useful to me.”

Vexen’s voice makes me feel unpleasant, but I don’t care right now. My power should be stronger than anyone else’s. I want to test it out. “Leave it to me. The real Riku, Sora, I’ll destroy them all.”

Vexen put a hand on his shoulder. “Then, let’s go—upstairs.”

The Replica closed his eyes, feeling the atmosphere shift around him. I’m strong—I can’t lose.

Whose voice do I hear echoing in my heart, I wonder. Is it my own? …Or is it Riku’s?

“It seems that somehow, they’ve also come into contact with a hero of light,” came Vexen’s voice, and the Replica looked up to see a large door.

Looks like we warped from the basement to upstairs somehow. “What’s behind that…?”

“The place where the underlings of our Organisation gather—You should show them your power, too.”

“…Understood.”

Vexen checked to see that the Replica nodded, then he opened the door.

<<ЯR>>

Riku ran down the hall, trying to chase the Replica.

I can’t lose to that Fake… “Come out, Fake! Where are you!”

Despite the shouting, the Replica did not appear. Instead, a familiar voice echoed around the hall.

“Fake? I wonder if that’s right.” It was Ansem’s voice.

Riku stopped and turned towards the direction of the voice. “What are you trying to say. That guy is just a fake. He said so himself.”

Ansem stood in the centre of the floor. “Except on the other hand he could be called the form you originally should have become. He accepts the darkness. Yes, just as you once accepted the darkness that is me. Now, you’re afraid of the darkness. Maybe you’re the one who is faker.”

“When was I afraid of the darkness?” Riku shot back, readying the Soul Eater. I’m not afraid of the dark, not at all.

“In the worlds made from the cards, you fought desperately against the darkness. Too desperately. Your desperation stemmed from fear of the darkness, did it not?”

I wasn’t desperate—there’s no way I’m afraid of the darkness, Riku said to himself. He said to Ansem, “Huh, I see what you’re trying to do. You want to say, ‘as long as you fight the darkness you’re being afraid of it, so stop fighting,’ don’t you? I won’t fall for something like that. My fight only continues.”

“Stubborn, aren’t you,” Ansem said in a calm tone, and threw a card at Riku. “Then fight on, as you wish. You’ll come to understand as you do. It is futile to go against the darkness.” Ansem smirked, and disappeared.

“…What’s so wrong… with going against the darkness…,” Riku muttered, and picked up the card that had fluttered to the floor. If I continue to fight the darkness, I think my heart will break. The darkness that is inside myself… I still can’t believe in myself. All I believe in is the King’s words.

I wonder what that Fake believes in, fighting…?

<<ЯR>>

On the other side of the door was two people dressed the same as Vexen, standing in front of the same kind of crystal ball that was in that room in the basement.

“How pitiful, to be driven into such a corner by someone of that level. You’re a disgrace to the Organisation,” spat Vexen, and a golden-haired woman—Larxene—looked down.

“Have you got some kind of business here, Vexen? I thought you were posted at the basement,” said a red-haired man—Axel. The man didn’t even look at Vexen, he just continued to stare at the crystal ball. Inside it, three humanoid shapes were visible. The memories inside the Replica told him that those were Sora and the others.

“I came to bestow you with my help. This hero you’re all so enamoured with—I can’t think he’ll be of much use. To find out whether he’s of true value or not… experimentation is necessary.”

“Huh, that is so like you. After all, you need to experiment before you can ever be satisfied.”

“That is the instinct of a scientist.”

The Replica ignored whatever conversation Vexen and Larxene were having, and walked over to the crystal ball.

Axel’s eyes flickered over at the Replica, and then he smiled slightly. “I don’t really care either way. While testing Sora, you want to test your servant, don’t you?”

The Replica’s head shot up at Axel’s words. Servant—am I Vexen’s servant?

“He’s not my servant. Please refer to him as my research result,” spat Vexen.

“Don’t you mean, your toy?” Larxene interrupted.

I’m—a servant and a research result and a toy—I don’t care what people call me. But, once I’m stronger than the Real Thing, I wouldn’t mind simply destroying these guys.

“Huh, those who haven’t the capability to comprehend should keep their mouths closed.”

“Whatever. You came all the way here to see us. I’ll let you have a little fun. A present for my senior. If you use this, the show will get even more fun.” Axel smirked. “Use this card.” Axel threw a card to Vexen.

“Sharp-witted, aren’t you? Well now—let’s put you to use… come.”

At the sound of Vexen’s voice, the Replica walked over to the centre of the room. “Isn’t it just a card? What use will that be?”

“Memories of Sora and Riku’s homeland are locked within this card.”

The Replica stared at the card gripped in Vexen’s hand. What does that mean…?

“With that card and Naminé’s power, you can get the same memories as the real Riku. While we’re at it, we might even have you forget that you are a fake. In other words, we can remake your heart, make you exactly like the real Riku,” Larxene chatted fluidly, thrusting her face into the Replica’s.

“Wait a second! Remake my heart? Riku is a weakling, afraid of the darkness inside himself. I don’t need that heart of his!” the Replica shouted. Even the few memories that remain weaken my heart. I don’t want or need Riku’s memories at all!

Larxene turned to Vexen, ignoring the Replica’s shout. “How about it, Vexen? You wanted to test Sora’s true power using Riku, didn’t you?”

“It’s unavoidable.”

“What?! You’d betray me, Vexen!” the Replica yelled. I want to stay as myself. I don’t want to share memories with Riku, it disgusts me.

“I thought I told you. ‘You’re going to be very useful to me’.”

“It’s okay, it probably won’t hurt all that much!”

“Don’t mess around!”

The Replica sliced at Larxene, but—he was the one sent flying instead.

“Silly~! There’s noooo way a mere fake could defeat me. But, you can rest easy. Naminé will erase the memory of me knocking you flat, too. She’ll plant the loveliest memories into you, into your heart. Even though they’ll be lies!”

Darkness wrapped around the Replica. “Stop…”

His consciousness began to slip into the embrace of darkness.

“Stop—!”

His scream—was swallowed by the darkness.

<<ЯR>>

Continue to Chapter 4: Replica

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