Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Watanabe Daisuke
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Copyrighted by Disney Enterprises, Inc and Square Enix. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations.
“First Vexen, now even Lexaeus gone… What is happening to the Organisation…,” Zexion murmured in a small voice.
With perfect timing, the air in the room quivered in answer.
Zexion looked up at the presence, and the one entering his field of vision was someone he’d thought was upstairs, Axel.
“And Naminé’s turned traitor and made Sora destroy Larxene, to boot. I wonder who’s next,” Axel said, grinning as he walked towards Zexion.
Zexion frowned in a displeased manner. “…Maybe you,” he said, without looking at Axel.
“Me? Nah,” Axel replied unexpectedly, folding his arms. “Just now, I faked a hard loss to Sora and ran. He won’t be fighting me for a while.”
For a while, Axel said, and the word caught in Zexion’s mind, but he held his tongue without asking what he meant.
“I’d say it’s Marluxia who’s next to go,” Axel said, a faint smile playing on his lips.
“Sora beat you, so Marluxia mustn’t have a chance. That’s how it is, is it?”
Of course, though Marluxia was the one entrusted with this castle, he’s only Number 11. Not that the numbers represent the order of age or strength, but Axel is both Number 8 and close with ‘him’, and from his point of view, Marluxia must seem beneath him in rank.
“It’s just fitting for Marluxia, who was going to use Sora to rebel against the Organisation, to be destroyed by Sora’s own hand,” Axel said, as if concluding the matter, but Zexion opened his mouth to urge him on.
“So then—we no longer have a reason to get hold of Riku, do we.”
“You mean you want him disposed of. You’d go head to head with someone who defeated Lexeaus?”
Of course, the chance of me fighting and defeating Riku is low. He has beaten Lexaeus, who was famous for competing for first or second strongest amongst the Organisation members when it came to battle strength.
Understandably, Zexion had no intention whatsoever of fighting Riku head-on.
“My way is different,” Zexion answered, a slight smile ghosting across his expressionless face.
I’m sorry… Riku.
Sinking in deep, deep darkness, the Replica clearly heard a voice.
I’m not Riku—but, I’m happy for Naminé to call me that, he thought vaguely inside his own dark consciousness. We definitely made a promise, didn’t we? On the night of the shooting stars, I promised I’d protect you, Naminé.
You are a sin I’m responsible for—and the punishment.
Don’t say a thing like that, the Replica wanted to scream. But he couldn’t. Because he thought it would hurt Naminé.
I hope my prayers reach you, somehow…
Light shone on the Replica’s body. It was the light of Naminé’s prayer.
“This place is…,” the Replica heard himself say, and he forced himself back to consciousness. He was in the huge hall he’d passed out in.
I was so sure Naminé was calling out to me. But, she’s not here.
“What… happened to me?”
All I know is that I’m not Riku. That I’m a fake, created to imitate him. But—that’s okay.
Right now, only one feeling occupied the Replica’s heart.
I want to protect Naminé—That was the Replica’s wish.
The Replica ran—heading for Naminé.
“Then we’ll all just pool together our memories and make new ones!”
He could see Sora yelling at Marluxia and Naminé. If that were possible, how happy I’d be…
“You seem to have forgotten,” Marluxia snorted. “If Naminé uses her powers to erase your memories, you’ll be an empty shell! You’ll lose the heart you think and feel with! Just like that pitiful fake Riku!”
Riku charged at Marluxia’s chest. I haven’t lost the heart I feel things with, the heart I think of people with!
“I don’t know about that,” the Replica said in a calm tone, and swung his blade down. Marluxia was sent flying to his knees by the unexpected blow.
Sora came running over, but the Replica didn’t turn around. “No. I’m just a fake.”
And then, the Replica stabbed his blade at Marluxia.
“An empty shell! You should have lost everything! Why?!” Marluxia spat. But the Replica answered clearly.
“My body and my heart are fake. I never had anything to lose, right from the start. But I have memories I don’t want to lose! Even if they are lies! I don’t care if the promise was an illusion. I protect Naminé!”
It was the only true thing out of all the fake feelings that made up the Replica. Naminé quietly watched the Replica.
Sora stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Replica, facing Marluxia and readying his Keyblade in the same way.
“You…!” Marluxia stood, slowly. “You’d tie down your own heart with chains of memories born from lies? You’d throw away your heart’s freedom!”
No, that’s not right, thought the Replica. I was able to wake up again because my memories—I have memories I don’t want to lose. It doesn’t mean I’m throwing away my heart’s freedom. It just means I’ve chosen the memories that are there in that place. I was able to choose because my heart is free.
Pale pink petals fluttered around Sora and Riku.
“You turn your back on the truth because your heart is weak… In that case, you’re not a worthy adversary for me! Give it up!”
A huge scythe appeared from the petals, and swung down at Sora and the Replica, who planted his foot one step ahead of Sora’s and blocked the attack with a grunt.
“Go, Sora!” he yelled.
Sora took his word and made a great leap, swinging the Keyblade down from above Marluxia’s head. Marluxia thrust the Replica aside to block Sora’s attack with his scythe.
“—Not yet!” he spat.
Sora landed, then jumped again, shouting “Donald, Goofy!”
With perfect timing, Donald shot magic at Marluxia.
“Firaga!” Donald incanted, and at almost the exact same time, Donald charged at Marluxia. That instant, a storm of petals filled the area around Marluxia before finally spreading out.
The Replica scooped Naminé up on instinct, jumping out of the storm.
“…Riku…,” said Naminé, looking up at him from his arms with an expression like she was about to cry.
“I’m not Riku—,” the Replica said in a low voice, putting Naminé down in the shadow of a pillar. In the centre of the huge hall, Sora and his friends were sent flying by Marluxia’s attack.
“…Thank you, Replica,” said Naminé. Her words reached his back as he ran at Marluxia again, bringing his blade down. But, his attack was batted aside by the huge scythe.
“After all this, Replica… Your attacks are worthless!”
Marluxia swung his hand down, and once again the hall was filled with pale pink petals. Straightening back up, the Replica escaped for the shadow of the pillar. He panted hard, waiting for the storm to pass.
“I can’t even land a hit on him—!” Donald yelled.
“Calm down—there has to be a way,” the Replica said to him. Threading his way through a gap in the storm, he ran at Marluxia. “Sora, let’s go,” he yelled.
“Huh—” Sora said, sounding hesitant.
The Replica turned to him. “It’s okay, come on!” he shouted again.
Sora broke into a run, chasing the Replica to Marluxia. Marluxia swung his scythe down at them, just as if he’d been waiting for them—but the Replica blocked it.
“What?!” Marluxia yelled in surprise as he found himself stopped.
Quick as a flash, the Replica shouted, “Jump, Sora—!”
Sora jumped, and swung the Keyblade down from above Marluxia’s head.
It may be impossible alone, but—if it’s the two of us—no, the four of us together, we can definitely defeat him. Because in this moment, short as it may be—we’re friends.
Just as Sora’s attack was about to hit Marluxia, Sora yelled, “Donald—magic, now!”
“Yeah—Firaga!” Donald shot out magic.
“Goofy, over here!” the Replica added.
Following his voice, Goofy charged at Marluxia. Marluxia batted Sora’s attack aside, then swung his scythe to try and avoid Donald’s fireball, and in that unguarded moment, Goofy barged into him with full force.
“Guh—!” Marluxia choked, and he shuddered all over.
“Sora, come on!”
Sora and the Replica both jumped.
Their two blades swung down at Marluxia in-synch. The instant the Replica felt the impact vibrate in his hand, Marluxia’s body became a mass of petals—which fell down all around.
Goofy peered worriedly into Sora’s face. “Did we… get him?”
“…I think so,” Sora replied. He turned to the Replica, holding out his right hand.
Feeling sort of shy, the Replica high-fived that extended palm.
Donald leapt into the air. “We did it!”
“Our memories should come back now, right?” Goofy said, smiling, as he turned to where Naminé had been hidden in the shadow of the pillar.
Naminé appeared before them, shaking her head. “No—not yet.”
“That’s right—what you destroyed was no more than a dummy of me.”
Petals gathered before a huge door deeper into the room—into the shape of a person, and then they became Marluxia.
“So what!” the Replica yelled, running at Marluxia, and swinging his blade down. But, Marluxia’s body turned into petals again, which scattered to the floor.
“That one’s a fake too, huh,” the Replica said, chagrined. A card fluttered to the ground in front of him.
Sora picked up the card. “…So I guess the real one’s back there?” he asked, turning to Naminé.
“…Yes.” Naminé gave a little nod.
“That’d be right. I can feel a really strong power. Like it’s gonna explode any minute,” Sora said.
“Then we’ve gotta do something before it explodes,” said Goofy, no less carefree than usual.
“Let’s go, Sora!” said Donald. He swung his staff about impatiently.
“Yeah—,” said Sora, turning to Naminé and the Replica. “Riku, take care of Naminé,” he said with a smile of complete and utter trust.
Unable to bear it any longer, the Replica averted his eyes from Sora. “…Me?”
I’m no one—no, I’m a fake, memories and existence and all, I’m what’s before you become someone. But Sora talks to me like I’ve been his friend for a long, long time.
This pained the Replica.
“You can’t?” Sora laughed, like he’d been teasing.
The Replica, who’d kept his eyes off Sora, turned around to see Naminé give a small nod and show a smile. He nodded back, as if answering.
“…Don’t forget your promise,” Naminé said to Sora, and the Replica’s chest ached.
Sora nodded sharply. “I know—I’ll keep my promise, no matter what.”
“Sora, let’s go!”
And then, Sora’s little group of three held the card up to the door.
I have no idea what’s going on behind the door. All I can tell is that massive powers are clashing.
The Replica and Naminé watched the door in silence.
“Sora will be okay, won’t he,” Naminé murmured in a small voice.
The Replica turned to her. “Sora’s your hero, isn’t he? If he promised you, then there’s no way he’ll lose,” he said.
“…Riku, you’re so kind,” Naminé said, smiling shyly.
I remember that smile—it’s the same smile she had when she gave me the charm, thought the Replica, sadly. That memory, these feelings, all of it is fake…
Not wanting to see that smile of Naminé’s any more, the Replica turned his back on her.
“Thank you, Riku… no. Thank you, Riku Replica,” she said to his back.
The Replica stared into the empty air without answering.
As he went to progress to the next floor, Riku was hit by a huge impact. The castle shook as if it were roaring.
“What?” Riku heard himself say, but the shaking settled quickly back into its original quiet. Riku checked his surroundings, then realised a certain fact.
“One smell—a strong power—has vanished…?” he muttered, then someone called out to him.
“The master of this castle, Marluxia, has fallen under the hand of the Keyblade hero,” said a man who’d suddenly appeared, as he moved closer to Riku.
“Keyblade… You mean Sora! Sora’s here?!” Riku pressed, and the man blinked in surprise.
“Oh. Do you want to see him? Or should I say… can you see him?”
“What do you mean?” Riku asked back, in a harsh tone.
“Even now, inside your heart darkness—yes, Ansem’s shadow, dwells. Aren’t you ashamed to see Sora in your condition?”
Riku’s eyes dropped. Back then—Riku should have beaten Ansem. But, the stench of darkness still hung around him.
“Sora is a hero who battles the darkness. It’s his destiny to oppose you, with that darkness dwelling in your heart. If you don’t want to believe me—you’ll have to make sure of the truth with your own eyes.”
The man threw Riku a card, which he caught. Depicted on the card was blue ocean, a little island, and a coconut tree.
“This card, it’s our…”
“Yes, your home. So now, go, to make sure of the truth,” said the man—Zexion—and he disappeared right before Riku’s eyes.
“…Destiny Islands…,” Riku muttered, the name of the islands familiar on his lips as he stared at the card.
Sora, who had defeated Marluxia, smiled with Naminé. The Replica watched them, feeling vague and fuzzy.
“Are you okay, Riku?” Sora suddenly called out, and the Replica looked at him, surprised.
The Replica shook his head, and looked down. “I’m not Riku. I’m a fake. I can’t remember when or where or why I was born. The only things left that haven’t faded away are you and Naminé—those memories are lies too, though.”
“Hey, Naminé. Isn’t there some way to put Riku’s memories back the way they were?” Goofy asked Naminé.
But, Naminé looked down too, her face clouding over. “That’s…”
He was a Replica created from nothing, originally. Putting his memories back to normal would mean erasing everything.
“I don’t care. It’s fine.”
The Replica turned his back on Sora and the others, and started walking.
I don’t know what to do. Or what I want to do.
The Replica’s feet stopped moving at the sound of Sora’s voice.
“Fake or not, that doesn’t matter anymore! You’re here now, and you have a heart that belongs to you and no-one else. Your memories belong to you and you only, so treasure them!”
Sora’s words were gentle.
The Replica held back the tears that were threatening to spill over. “Sora, you’re very kind,” he said, back still turned. “Even a fake like me can see how real your feelings are… that’s good enough for me.”
Right now, Sora’s feelings are good enough for me, the Replica thought. The fact that I met Sora is good enough for me.
“Riku!” Sora yelled, but the Replica didn’t answer. He broke into a run, like he was escaping.
This body—these feelings—it’s fake. And—from the bottom of my heart, I’m jealous of the real Riku. The Riku who’s friends with Sora. The Riku who has the power of true darkness. Even the darkness surrounding me is fake.
The Replica looked up.
“Hey, don’t you wanna be the real thing?” Axel asked, grinning.
Be the real thing—I do want to, if I can.
The Replica gave a quiet nod to Axel’s question.
Standing on a beach, Riku felt the breeze from the sea. I’ve ran here, rolled around with Sora here, so many times. I didn’t think this breeze could feel so nostalgic. But back then, I couldn’t wait to get off this island. Back then I thought the sound of waves was so monotonous, but now it feels terribly gentle.
Riku noticed some human shapes, and ran towards them.
“Hey!”, he called. Standing there was Wakka, Selphie and Tidus. But, they didn’t move at all.
“What’s wrong with you guys. Has to be the first time I’ve seen the three of you this silent,” Riku said, but they simply stared at him. “Is there something on my face?” Riku asked, shrugging, and in that instant—the three of them vanished like phantoms.
The hand that Riku had been reaching out unconsciously clenched into a fist, and Riku hung his head. Maleficent’s words rang in his heart.
Your heart is stained with darkness.
And so, you won’t be able to meet anyone but creatures of the darkness like myself.
Riku ran across the beach, heading for the usual pier.
I just know that Kairi and Sora will be waiting there for me. There’s no way that darkness would be staining that place…
Riku crossed the beach, jumped up onto the roof of the shack, and ran over the usual pier.
At the end of his line of vision, Kairi was standing there, smiling—or so she should have been.
Kairi stood there, staring silently at Riku, just like Wakka and the others had.
“Hey, Kairi. You…,” Riku went to say, and in that instant, Kairi vanished. In her place appeared the man who had given Riku the card earlier—Zexion.
“You really should have known that this was going to happen,” Zexion began, almost admonishingly. “Before arriving here, you travelled through many of the worlds of your memories. However, I’m sure all you met were beings of darkness. See, there’s nothing left in your heart but dark memories. The memories of your home—have vanished.”
“You’re lying! I remember everyone from the islands just fine! Tidus, Selphie, and Wakka too! Kairi! Sora! Everyone—My… my… important friends…”
Riku clenched his fists and looked down.
“And who was it who threw those friends away? Did you forget your own actions? You destroyed your own home!” Zexion shouted, and in that instant, darkness wrapped around them—and rain began to beat down on Riku. Thunder echoed in the sky—and then the world began to crumble away.
“The island where you were born, where you grew up, tore apart, crumbled away, and many hearts vanished into the darkness. It was your fault!”
Yes—if I hadn’t been so easily tempted—if I hadn’t believed his words—
“The one who got sick of the small-island lifestyle, thoughtlessly opened the door to darkness and destroyed the islands was you! You were tempted by the darkness. And now, you are a complete resident of the darkness.”
No, you’re wrong, Riku wanted to yell, but he couldn’t even do that. He sat down where he was.
On the bridge before him he could see a reflection of himself from that night.
What was I thinking while I looked out over the black stained ocean that night—What was I thinking? I can’t remember.
He sneered at himself. The other self turned around and grinned.
“See, your own true form!” Zexion shouted, and in that instant, the other Riku standing right in front of him was wrapped in a dreadful darkness—and changed into a huge, pitch black human-shaped shadow—a darkside.
“This is… this is… my true form…?”
The shadow beat it’s fist down at Riku. Riku didn’t even dodge, and was sent flying.
“This is… my true form…”
I don’t know who I really am.
Clenching his fists, Riku looked up, and just then he saw something glimmer with light in front of him.
It was the light that shot from a Keyblade. And, standing over there was the Keyblade hero, Sora.
“Sora?!” he yelled, standing up.
Sora slashed at him.
“Stop, Sora! Don’t you recognise me?!” Riku shouted desperately, blocking Sora’s Keyblade.
“I’m fighting you because I recognise you! I can see your true form!”
Sora sent Riku flying back with one blow.
But I can’t see that huge shadow anywhere—was it really me, all along?
“Look at you, pained by the power of light—You really have become a creature of the darkness, haven’t you. You’re not Riku any more, you’re a tool of the darkness…,” said Sora, disappointedly, as he readied his Keyblade. “I get it—I’ll make you understand the power of light!”
Light shot from Sora. Riku was blown away by a power with the same terrible impact as the darkness, and it wrapped around his body.
“Am I… fading… fading under the power of light…”
If I am darkness—and If I can’t fight the darkness with my own strength—I guess being destroyed by Sora is the only way, Riku thought in the depths of his fading consciousness. If I have to be defeated, I’m happy for it to be Sora.
You won’t fade.
A girl’s voice resounded from somewhere.
You won’t fade.
You won’t lose against any power.
Someone was squeezing Riku’s hand. The light was too strong, and he couldn’t see who it was very well.
“You won’t lose against the light… or the darkness. So don’t be afraid of the light—and don’t be scared of the dark. Both together with be your strength, you see,” said the girl in the light, and she helped Riku stand.
“My strength… Darkness, too?”
“Yeah, a power that’s all your own. The darkness that has grown in your heart is very big and deep, but—if you can gaze straight into it without being afraid of that darkness, nothing will scare you ever again.”
The light began to mellow, and the figure that surfaced looked like Kairi, and also like someone else.
“Even with it dwelling in your heart, have the courage not to lose to the darkness. That will be an irreplaceable power only you can ever have. Even at the bottom of lightless darkness, even in the most dazzling, over-strong light where you can’t see a thing, the darkness will guide you. To where your important friends are.”
Riku nodded sharply, and asked, “…Will I be able to see them?”
My important friends—Sora, Kairi, all the others.
“Don’t you want to?” the girl’s voice asked, sounding as if she were smiling.
“That’s not what I mean, of course I do. Which is why I’ll go! With my own power… the power of darkness!” Riku yelled, holding the Soul Eater up to the heavens. “Darkness!”
That moment, darkness shot from the Soul Eater. The light that surrounded him melted away—and Zexion’s figure appeared.
Riku turned to that shadow, and swung his Soul Eater down.
“W-what?! But how could you tell where I—in all that light…?”
Zexion fell to his knees.
“You stink of the darkness… I could sense it clearly, even in the light. I guess you could say the darkness guided me,” Riku said, and Zexion stood unsteadily.
“Ugh… No matter how you struggle, you truly are a creature of darkness after all.”
“Who cares. I am me,” Riku said, and he thrust the point of the Soul Eater against Zexion’s throat.
Even if the power of darkness is nesting inside my heart, it doesn’t change the fact that I am me. And if I can’t make the stink of darkness fade away, then I should just use that power for myself.
“What’s with the sudden attitude change? Up until now you’ve been afraid of the darkness—”
Riku swung the Soul Eater down from above Zexion once more.
“Gah… You little—!”
Zexion pulled the hood of his robe up over his head, and vanished.
“Ran away, did you…,” Riku muttered, and then light began to patter down from inside the dark clouds above his head.
And then, what poured down was the gentle Destiny Islands sunshine…
Riku ran, to face his own darkness.
Barely making it to the room in which his comrades had once gathered, Zexion fell to his knees, panting harshly.
“What… what is with that guy! Until now, no one has ever taken in that much darkness! It shouldn’t be po…!”
Zexion beat his fists against the floor. This behaviour was unusual for Zexion to show. One person-shaped shadow watched over Zexion.
Zexion shrank back unconsciously, as ‘Riku’ looked down at him expressionlessly. Behind him stood Axel.
“O-oh. That’s the Replica that Vexen made, isn’t it. I see, perhaps he can defeat Riku if they face each other… Axel?” said Zexion, sounding clingy, and the Replica kept looking down at him expressionlessly.
“Hey, Riku—you know all too well how fake you are, don’t you. Do you wanna be the real thing?” Axel asked, and the Replica turned to him slowly.
“Yeah.” The Replica nodded quietly.
Yeah—he wants to be the real thing—he wants to be Riku.
“Well then, it’s simple. You should get yourself some power that the real Riku doesn’t have. If you do that, you can be something real—not Riku, not a fake of anything, but a new existence,” Axel said, grinning.
“Axel! What are you saying!” Zexion shrank back even further along the ground.
“Look, there’s some perfect ‘feed’ right over there,” said Axel, nodding his chin towards Zexion.
“What kind of idiotic thing are you…!” Zexion yelled, not even trying to hide his panic. But Axel ignored Zexion’s cry, putting an arm around the Replica’s shoulder and beaming at him.
“My bad, Zexion. Watching over Sora and Riku looks a lot more fun than helping you.”
“Stay… stay back!” appealed Zexion, moving back even more, and the Replica turned to him, swinging his blade down. “Stop—!”
Zexion’s scream disappeared, swallowed by darkness.
Continue to Chapter 8: Revive