THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Shiva

The young woman walked out of her house. She was seventeen, to be exact. She was quite attractive, in an exotic way. Her skin was light blue, her hair a darker shade, with lines of purple running through it. Her name was Shiva. She was an esper.

Bending down, she scratched her midget chocobo behind its small neck.

"Looks like rain today, Simon." She said, affectionately patting the bird on its head.

As she went inside, she sighed sadly. "Just like last year."

*******

Shiva walked into her small house, to find her cantankerous godfather, Ramuh, sitting on the coffee table, grinning mischievously.

"Grandpa!" She said, (She had always called him that) a scolding note in her voice. "I told you that if you wanted to visit me, use the door!"

"Shiv," He said, using her childhood moniker, "Why donāt you like me suddenly appearing? When you were little, you used to love when I did that."

A jokingly hurt look spread across his face.

"And what if I had had a visitor?!" She said in consternation.

"You have a boyfriend, eh, Shiv?" Said Ramuh, grinning.

"No.." She sighed reflectively. "No I donāt."

"Really? Hard to believe one as good looking as you wouldnāt have one yet. Why, when your mother was your age..." Ramuh playfully replied to her.

Shiva threw up her hand in an involuntary gesture. A fountain of blue light erupted from her smooth palm. The beam hit Ramuh full in the chest, leaving a spot of frozen material on his tan tunic.

"Just leave me alone!" She cried, running into the next room and slamming the door.

Ramuh fell onto his back, the breath knocked out of him. "Shiv!" He shouted after her, "Iām sorry! I didnāt mean to upset you!"

He could hear sobbing from the next room. Trying the door, he found it was locked.

"Bloody Hell!" He exclaimed, and then whispered to himself. "Her parents were killed last year at about this time. I wasnāt thinking at all."

"Iām sorry, Shiv! Please, please forgive me." He said into the door.

The only sound that met his ears were the racking sobs of his goddaughter.

Not hearing her answer, he judged that it would be best to leave her alone for a while. Going into the main room, he sat on the sofa. He rested his head in his hands while watching a fly upon the far wall.

Simon, the small chocobo, set leaned against his masterās door, chirping sadly.

*******

Shiva laid across her bed, weeping bitterly. Her mind rolled back to that day. That horrible, bleak day, when both her parents had been killed.

Her father had been Kintek, also powerful with the forces of ice and water. Her mother was Kearen, skilled at healing. She had loved them both very much.

She recalled how when she was little, and had scraped her knees playing with the other children. Kearen had rushed out to help her daughter. Her mother had dried her tears that day, and then cast heal on her poor knees.

Her parents had been killed in an accident.

For Shivaās sixteenth birthday, they had planned a grand expedition to climb the highest mountain in the surrounding area. Shiva had always been an adventurous girl, and was enthralled with the idea.

She had planned and prepared for it for weeks, so when the day finally came, she could hardly contain her excitement.

Climbing up the steepest side, tragedy struck as the three were suspended above a deep crevasse.

Kearenās rope snapped, sending her plummeting. It was only by a miracle of luck that Kintek was able to grab a hold of the stray end before she fell.

Shiva had been the only one on solid ground when this happened. She could see that the piton that held both her parents was giving. It wouldnāt hold in the rock for much longer. She knew it was up to her to hold on while they climbed up. For Shiva, to think was to act. She grabbed the rope just as the piton slipped out. Knowing she couldnāt hold on for long, she tied the rope end around her waste. She was slipping, she couldnāt hold on.

Kintek knew that there was no way that he and Kearen would live through this. He looked down at his wife, and she understood.

Shouting up at his daughter, who was now struggling to keep away from the edge, he said, "Never forget we both love you very much, Shiva!"

"NO!" She screamed in realization of what he was going to do.

A blade flashed in the sunlight, and it bit through the thin cord that would have proved the doom of them all. Kintek and Kearen had sacrificed their own lives to save that of their daughter.

She looked over the edge, seeing her parents grow tiny against the black that marked the deep chasm. She felt sick. Was sick, in fact. Shiva flew into a rage, using ice on all that was around her.

"No! No!!!" She screamed. "Not like this! NO!!!!"

Finally, she collapsed from stress. Slumped against the rear of the ledge she was atop, she slipped into a dark slumber.

It would be almost three days before she was found. Another two months passed before she would even speak again.

Ramuh took young Shiva under his wing, and gave her a home, food, and love. He did love Shiva, as dearly as if she were his own. He had known Shiva since she was born, and Kintek even longer. He felt very, very bad that he had upset Shiva today.

It was her seventeenth birthday.

Chapter 2
 

The espers had lived in peace, locked away behind a sealed gate for generations. They were happy and contented in their existence. An existence that was about to be painfully shattered.

*******

Gestahl, the leader of the Empire, had known about the gate in the mountain for some time. He had been slowly building his forces, gathering power. Now, he was ready to set his horrific plan into motion.

The forces of the Empire stood ready by the gate. Gestahl was a very ambitious leader. He not only wanted the southern continent, he wanted it all. Money, power, the whole world. The force called magic was his answer to reaching his goal. Espers meant magic.

Leo, the chief general of the empire, said to Gestahl, "Is it truly wise to start something of this magnitude?"

"Leo." Responded the emperor, sharply, "You know your duties. Follow them or I will find someone who can."

"Yes sir." Leo answered, walking away with an expression of disgust.

"Men!" He ordered, "Force the gate!"

The soldiers jumped at the task, ramming large, steel bars into the hinged openings. The gate groaned under the stress, valiantly trying to hold its place. The wood began to split and buckle. Finally, it collapsed.

Troops poured into the world of the espers, burning and pillaging. The unaware townsfolk had no chance. They used all of their magical powers to try to fight off the soldiers, killing over a hundred, but to no avail.

Arrows pierced the un-armored flesh of the espers. Several never lived to see another day.

Shiva stopped her weeping when she heard the anguished cries of her friends. She ran into the main room, shouting, "Grandpa! What happening?!"

"Shiv! Stay here! Iām going to find out!" Ramuh answered, running out into the street.

Shiva stayed in the house peering through the window. She saw Ramuh confront to soldiers, reducing them to smoking heaps through his powerful lightening magic. Eventually, after he had done a good deal of damage to the Imperial forces, he was surrounded by twenty to thirty soldiers. He was shot in the arm with an arrow, and fell to the street, left for dead.

Shiva flew into a rage. "Not him!!! You canāt take him, too!!!!" She screamed, springing into the midst of the fray.

Throwing sprays of ice back and forth, she decimated at least one tenth of the thousand troops attacking her town.

She knew that she couldnāt win. Her defeat and death were inevitable. She bit her lip, resolute that her death wouldnāt be in vain, as her parents had been.

Irony happens when you least expect it, in fact thatās the definition OF irony. So, as it were, irony kicked in at the exact moment Shiva thought that she would die defending Esperville, and she was shot in the back with an arrow.

As she looked down at her chest, where she felt an excruciating pain, she giggled ludicrously, seeing the point of the arrow protruding through her shirt, slightly below and to the left of her right shoulder. Blue tinged blood flowed freely out of the wound, staining the fabric. She felt a great qualm of nausea sweep over her, dropping her to her knees. With one last final Ice 3 spell, she fell on her face not to rise.

General Leo stepped up, seeing what pain she was in, and knowing what would happen to her if she lived to see Vector. He drew his sword, not for a stroke of hate, but a swift stroke of compassion. He raised it, hesitating above Shivaās head. "God!" He thought, "Sheās so young! She looks so very human... And acts it, too. I canāt bring myself to do it." A single tear rolled down his cheek.

It was a sad time for Shiva. She would either die now, painlessly, or be reduced to a living death in a crystal tube at the Magitek Research Facility. It was a shame Leo hesitated.

"Leo!" A voice shrieked from behind him. "Is that esper alive?!"

"Emperor!" Answered Leo, curtly. "She is."

"Itās not a she, Leo." Gestahl said, a note of annoyance in his voice. "It is an esper. A mere vessel in which magic is kept."

"Anyway," He continued, "tie it to that chocobo and take it directly to Cid."

He was relieved that he was leaving. He didnāt want to be any part of this massacre.

"Yes sir." He said, coldly, while jumping onto his mount.

 

*******

He rode out of the gate quickly, and, when he was out of the mountains, he stopped.

"Youāre not going to hurt anyone like this." He said to the unconscious Shiva.

"I hope thisāll help." He continued, pouring a small amount of water on her wounds.

He was left incredulous as the water froze as soon as it touched her skin.

He only muttered a low guttural, and then picked her up, holding her in his arms for the rest of the trip to Vector.

 
*******

A sentry spotted Leo from afar.

"General Kefka!" He shouted, "Thereās a rider coming in, looks like Leo!"

Kefka muttered an expletive. "Whatās Leo doing back." He whined, emphasizing the word Leo.

"Cid!" Kefka barked downwards to a man in a yellow lab coat. "Get out to the lab pronto. Leoās bringinā ya something to put in one of those fish tanks of yours!"

"Yes sir!" Cid answered, and then muttered, "Arrogant bastard."

Cid walked down the chilly corridor, squinting against the harsh white light that the phosphorescent tubes lining the ceiling mercilessly glared down. The facility had taken almost ten years to complete, and it was a triumph of science and engineering. The entire structure was made of stainless steel on the inside, and other composite alloys as an outer shell. Inside, the laboratories were equally impressive, being lined with functional, although horrific devices intended to drain magical powers from espers. Most of the machines took the form of crystal tubes, with large amounts of electronic connections protruding from around the sides and top. The purpose of the pointed rods protruding into the tanks was grimly obvious.

*******

It was to this grisly place that Leo carried the wounded Shiva.

"Iām sorry to have to do this to you." He thought.

"This is wrong." His mind told him, "Espers have thoughts and emotions, too. The emperor shouldnāt do this to them. No one deserves this."

"Leo!" Called Cid from an adjoining hallway.

Cid and Leo had long been friends. They had grown up together, gone to school together. Now, they worked together. Cid was the head of the Imperial science department, and Leo was the head of the army.

"Hell..." Thought Leo. He was, and always had been, friends with Cid, but now he resented him for being the one to suck the life right out of all the espers in the world.

"Hey, man! Whatcha got there? Wow!" Cid gushed, seeing the esper÷ seeing Shiva.

"Set it right down on this table!" Cid enthused, preparing some instruments.

"Cid..." Leo trailed.

"What it is it?" Cid asked, now earnest.

"Iāve never though about it...." Leo confessed, "but do you think this is right? I mean, I didnāt know it till today, but espers, they, well... I canāt really describe it, but they... feel. I know how strange it sounds, Cid. But I donāt like doing this.

"I mean, look at this girl here. She couldnāt be much older the that granddaughter of yours, Celes. How would you feel if she was abducted, never to be seen again, and taken to a place like this... Where she would be slowly killed. Itās just not fair to anyone. Itās not right."

"Leo..." Said Cid, taken aback. "Iāve never thought about it that way."

A pained expression crossed his face as he thought of Celes, just seventeen two weeks ago.

He said very low: "I wish I could promise that I could make it so I wouldnāt hurt, but I canāt. To tell you the truth, I donāt know what will happen. But Leo, I promise that Iāll treat her with dignity."

"Thank you." Leo simply stated, leaving the room.

"I donāt want to watch, however." He called over his left shoulder.

 
Chapter 3
 

Cid pulled out a large syringe filled with blue liquid.

"This will keep you sleeping for awhile." He told to the unconscious esper on the steel table.

The smooth skin of her shoulder contracted as the sharp steel pierced it. She moaned in pain from her semi-slumber, but then lapsed back in to blissful unawareness.

Cid quickly and deftly patched the arrow wounds, which were really quite nasty. After doing this, he loaded her into one of the crystal tubes that lined the wall.

"Well, my young blue friend." Cid breathed to himself, "I hope I donāt make a liar of myself in front of Leo."

Cid still needed to run some tests, to find the optimal settings for his inventions, but right now, he was dog tired. He went to his home, confident that Shiva would sleep through the night. She would, but it would still be a horrific experience.

*******

Shiva was vaguely aware of her surroundings; she was in a dank, rancid-smelling place. She could here water falling in drops÷drip, drop, drip, drop... The floor on which she lay was cold, freezing against her skin. She wanted to call out, but her vocal cords felt as though they were being ripped from her throat.

Drip, drop, drip, drop, drip... The sound increased in volume and speed.

Shiva was finally able to fight back the nausea that assailed her whenever she moved just enough to sit up. Her head swam and she saw the vague outlines of muted shapes. Struggling against the churning of her stomach, she rose to her feet.

Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip... The sound was gaining still more speed and volume.

She could see that she was in a rock building, perhaps a castle. Dim iridescent globes hung in mid air, more accentuating the gloominess of the place than relieving it. She walked slowly down the corridor, stumbling and tripping several times. Blood flowed from the cuts on her palms and knees. She could feel the blood running down her bare legs, but, trying to wipe it away, she only cut herself more.

Dripdripdripdripdripdripdripdrip... The noise thundered in her ears.

She ran blindly along a twisting, never ending series of passageways. Suddenly, the floor dropped away, letting her land in a deep pool of icy water. She tried with all her might to swim upward, but still sank quickly. No matter what she did, she still was drawn towards the bottom of the shaft. Shiva knew her breath was giving out. Her lungs screamed in agony as the pressure of the water above forced them inward, imploding. Finally, to relieve the horrendous pressure squeezing her young form in a deadly embrace, she expelled the air in her lungs. Shiva saw beautiful swirling colors, alternating with a black so dark it was a feeling, not just a color. Ice was forming on her skin, turning it black with frostbite.

"Iām going to die." She thought, somewhat calmed by the idea of her own mortality.

She was numb to all pain now, as her ribs crackled with a sickening sound from the pressure upon them. Her brain demanded that she breath, forcing her lungs to fill with water. She was one the verge of death, now unconscious, when she jumped up into the real world, her head smacking on the side of the crystalline tube in which she was imprisoned.

Shivaās joints were sore, and her head throbbing, but it she was still alive.

 

Chapter 4
 

"Hey! Help! Get me out of here!" Shiva shouted into the inky blackness surrounding her.

She threw her body against the side of the tube, with little effectiveness. Her shoulder was wrenched from itās socket as she repeated this maneuver.

"Please..." She begged, slumping to one knee, "Let me go... I never hurt anyone..."

She began to cry in long racking sobs.

Cid had just re-entered his lab after a long sleep and a nice breakfast.

"What the hell?!" He exclaimed, seeing Shiva was awake.

She looked up at him, and clearing her eyes, she asked, "Who are you? Please, please let me go.... I didnāt do anything!"

She looked up at him from the floor of the chamber, her bright blue eyes still moist from tears. She looked like a lost little girl, sitting there in the container, and Cidās heart went out to her.

"Iām sorry..." Cid said hoarsely, "I canāt do that.... It was just your misfortune to have this happen to you. My name is Cid."

"My misfortune!" Shiva exclaimed, anger radiating from her, "Your men came into my town, and shot me with an arrow! How the hell is that my fault!"

She slammed her fist into the wall in frustration.

"Please, donāt make me sedate you again." Cid said.

Shiva blanched. "No... Please, donāt do that again."

A tear rolled down her cheek, "My name.... Is Shiva...."

Her voice cracked and she trailed off, "Please, donāt hurt me... Cid. Please.... Just let me leave."

"I canāt." He said briskly.

"Now this shouldnāt hurt a bit." Cid continued, grabbing an instrument from a nearby table.

He inserted the pointed end of the instrument into a socket connected to one of the tubes running into the glass cylinder. The sharply pointed tube began an insidious journey toward Shivaās arm.

"Hey!" She cried, pressing against the back wall of her prison to escape the point.

"Iām afraid youāll need to hold very still." Cid said, "Or Iāll be forced to restrain you as I do this test."

ĪSure, and as soon as you open the door Iām outta here youāll be nothing but an icicle, guy.ā Shiva thought to herself as he said this, and renewed her evasions of the probe.

"Iām sure youāll find this quite unpleasant, Shiva." Cid said to himself as he adjusted a few controls on the faceplate to the containment chamber.

Shivaās body grew taught as jolts of electricity leapt up her legs from the floor, making a sickly smell permeate the glass tube. After a few seconds of excruciating pain, her body grew numb and all see could do was see and hear. All her muscles were frozen in a tight contraction that made her want to scream in pain, but she couldnāt do much more then utter a low whine.

"Now, letās continue!" Cid said, once again moving the point of the needle towards Shivaās arm.

Out of her peripheral vision, Shiva could see the needle inching its way toward her shoulder muscle. Closer, closer, it came, tell it touched, piercing the tender flesh. Arcs of electricity shot up and down the needle, but still in penetrated her arm. An eighth of an inch, a half, a whole inch the spear stuck into her. The flesh at the entry wound of the device was beginning to char and smoke. If only she could use her magic! Blue liquid that was her blood flowed down through the tube and into Cidās waiting device.

"Almost done..." Cid murmured.

Just as Cid said this, General Leo walked into the room. "Howās the es...." He started, but froze.

"What the HELL is this!?" He shouted at Cid, seeing the smoke rising from Shivaās arm. "Dammit, Cid! Turn the bloody thing off! Canāt you see youāre hurting her!?"

"Leo!" Cid cried, startled. "I had to take some blood and this was the only way to restrain her!"

"I donāt give a damn!" Leo bellowed, "Either you shut if off or I will, and Iāll use my sword!"

"All right, all right..." Cid grumbled, flipping a switch.

Shiva crumpled to the floor in a heap at this action.

"What the hell, Cid?" Leo demanded. "How heartless can you be? Electrical shocks, for godās sake?!"

"Iām sorry, Leo. It had to be done."

"Did you get the blood?" Leo asked, forlornly.

"I got enough." Cid replied quietly.

"When will she regain consciousness?" Leo queried.

"Anytime now."

"When she does. I want to be here. And I want you to give her drugs and medical supplies for her burns.

"God, man, she IS still a living, thinking, person. Not just some mindless animal for you to shock and prod to your hearts content."

Cid shot him a resentful look. "Dammit, Leo! I get me orders from the Emperor himself. I canāt help what I have to do."

"Iām sorry, Cid. Itās just that this is wrong. It shouldnāt be happening. None of it."

"Whatās that?" Said a newcomer.

"Kefka." Leo said, curtly.

"Sir." Responded Cid to the generalās arrival.

"I donāt care." Kefka continued, acting as though he had not heard them, "But, anyway, weāve got a whole load of espers cominā! Must have nine or ten of the things!

"And Cid, that means youāve gotta get movinā down here! Letās go!" Kefka barked, finishing.

Shiva stirred, moaning in pain.

"Eh, whatās this?" Kefka jumped over to the holding tank, "Ah, that little blue bugger of an esper, I see."

"Wha... What happened?" Shiva asked, rubbing her bruised and burned shoulder muscle.

"Who the hell are you two?" She quizzed, indicating Kefka and Leo.

"Iām..." Leo started, but was rudely interrupted by Kefka.

"General Kefka. But sir, to you." Kefka said, his voice icy.

"Screw you, Kef." Shiva spat back vindictively.

Kefka turned red and started punching buttons on the control console of the tube.

"Kefka! No! You donāt know what youāre doing!" Shouted Cid.

"And if you kill her, the Emperor will have your head on a platter, Kefka." Leo added.

It was the latter threat that made Kefka relent, not causing any damage to Shiva.

"Just call me Leo." Said he, after having calmed Kefka. There was a kind note in his voice.

"Screw you, too, Leo." She said, turning her back on them all.

"Cid," Continued Leo, "Give her the things I talked about."

Cid slipped open a drawer mounted in the base of the unit in which Shiva was imprisoned, placed the medical things within, and closed and locked it. A moment later, the drawer emerged from the floor of the chamber, spilling its contents at Shivaās feet before becoming but another invisible floor panel.

Shiva started to look at whatever new means of torture had arrived with contempt, but a wave of thankfulness swept over her as she realized she was seeing a tonic and a piece of gauze.

"Thank you." She whispered to Leo, but he couldnāt hear.

She dressed her arm so as to take some pain away, but it still hurt badly.

"Well, Leo. Itās been a blast as always, but Iām off to capture more espers!" Kefka called, walking out of the lab.

*******

Shiva gingerly dressed the scorched flesh on her arm, pouring the tonic directly onto the blackened skin of her arm.

Cid left, telling Leo that it was his break. Leo turned to follow, but Shiva called out to him.

"Leo!" She said, hesitantly.

He turned.

"I want to say thank you.... For the medicine."

Leo stopped. "You donāt owe me any gratitude. I should never have brought you here.

"Please believe me, when I say that I think this is wrong. So do a vast majority of the Empireās citizens, but theyāre just afraid to say it."

Leo was becoming visibly agitated as he talked. Finally, he excused himself abruptly leaving the room to find the Emperor.

"I could love that man..... If he werenāt me enemy." Shiva thought, morosely.

"DAMMIT!" She screamed, throwing her body against the wall of her tube.

*******

After a time, Cid came in, followed by a blonde hared, blue eyed, 17 year old general.

"So, thatās the esper, granddad?" She asked, inspecting Shiva.

"Thatās it all right, Celes."

"Why is her arm bleeding like that?" She asked, looking apprehensively at the swath of gauze around Shivaās shoulder and biceps.

"I.. Um... Had to do a test, Celes...." Cid answered slowly.

"You did that? Thatās cruel...." She said, lowering her eyes.

"Celes! Not you, too! First one of my best friends comes in, and tells me that Iām heartless, and now you?" He sat down on a table. "Doesnāt anyone understand what I do is only the Emperorās orders?"

"Iām sorry, Granddad..." Celes said. "I didnāt know.... I just felt sorry for it."

"Would you two quit calling me it?!" Shiva finally said, "My name is Shiva. Iām 17 human years old. My parents were killed one year ago Yesterday afternoon, I saw my grandfather, the one person left in the world who loved me, shot with an arrow. I donāt know if heās alive or dead. Shut up about your petty squabbles, damn you anyway."

She slumped against the floor of the chamber, burying her head in her arms and sobbing softly.

"Shiva?" Celes said. "Shiva? Iām sorry. I didnāt mean to hurt your feelings. Youāre really just like me, arenāt you? You see... Iām an orphan, too. My parents were killed when several monsters attacked them. I was only five years old, Shiva. I canāt imagine my granddad dying, I think if he did, it would break my heart. I know your pain."

"What the hell do you know of pain, you pampered brat!" Shiva spat, "Have you ever been shot and carried off on the back of a chocobo, tortured in a tiny prison that doesnāt even allow space in which to lay down? Plagued by nightmares?! WHO ARE YOU TO SAY YOU KNOW MY PAIN! WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!" She threw herself into the glass, wrenching her hurt shoulder from its socket and re-opening the wound.

Celes leapt back in fright at Shivaās sudden outburst. "Geez! Sorry!" She said to the angered esper.

"Celes, Iām ready." Cid said, indicating a table.

She sighed under her breath. Ever since she was born, she knew this day would come. She had been genetically programmed for it. Her every fiber told her that this was when she would take her place in the Empire, but still, she felt... sorry... for the esper girl who would be sacrificed to give Celes magical powers. She sat down, the cold metal chill beneath her warm body. She could see her grandfather filing a syringe with blue liquid, probably anesthetic.

"I promise this wonāt hurt a bit." Cid comforted, holding her hand.

The sharp point slid easily into her arm muscle, but she clinched her teeth in pain as the liquid was injected into her bloodstream.

"It hurt...." She trailed off as she lost consciousness.

He then flooded the esper chamber with a pink gas that contained a powerful anesthetic.

"Cid...." Shiva said as she lost consciousness, "Never forget that Celes is your granddaughter, and that itās never too late to turn back......."

*******

Leo walked briskly up the hall to the Imperial throne room, only to meet Gestahl and Kefka coming from the opposite direction.

"His majesty wants to see the esper drained." Kefka chuckled in explanation of their hurried descent.

"But I thought that wasnāt until later!" Leo exclaimed.

"I persuaded the Emperor to reconsider and do it today." Said Kefka vindictively to his colleague.

"Letās get moving, you two! I donāt want to miss it!" Gestahl broke into the argument.

*******

Back in the Magitek Research facility, Cid was nearly mad with worry. Celes was the closest thing he had to family, and the procedure was

un-tested. Cid wouldnāt allow her to be in any danger.

"Celes...." He mumbled to himself.

ĪI canāt do this.ā He thought. ĪIf something goes wrong, Celes could be hurt, or even killed....ā

"Cid!" The Emperor called as he walked in, followed by Leo and Kefka.

"Majesty." Cid bowed slightly, and then proceeded to tell Gestahl about his concerns for Celes.

"Do you think there is any real danger to the girl?" Gestahl said, annoyed.

"Certainly. If even one of my calculations is off, it could... Kill my granddaughter."

"I suggest further time for testing." Leo interjected.

"You shut up, Leo." Kefka finally said, pushing his way past Leo. "If Cid is so worried about his precious Celes, Iāll show you just how safe this process is! Hook me up, Cid!!"

"But, sir! Like I said, this is still in early testing stages. If anything goes wrong, you could be killed or worse!." Cid said, stalling.

"Cid. Itās Kefkaās choice. I assume youāre Iām correct in saying you wonāt do the procedure on your granddaughter?" Gestahl said, not caring who was first, just wanting to see the process in action.

"Fine." Said Cid in a huff, "But I canāt be held responsible for the consequences of my actions!"

Cid then directed Kefka to a nearby table, and gave him a shot of the blue anesthetic.

ĪOkay, you son of a bitch. This is what you wanted. Here you go.ā Cid thought to him self as he wired electrodes to Shivaās tuba as well as Kefkaās body.

"Are you ready yet?!" Gestahl said, a growing amount of annoyance in his voice.

"Right. Now. Sir." Cid responded through clinched teeth.

Cid flipped a switch on Shivaās tank, and a low hum started to grow throughout the building. The lights momentarily dimmed, and Kefka grew rigid. Shiva also grew rigid, and started to scream involuntarily, a fact no one noticed, and had they noticed, no one but Leo would have cared.

Inside Kefkaās mind several things were happening as well. He saw things that had yet to be. Whole villages in ruins, magicite crystals on chains about his neck, and above all, three statues with blue auras. In that instant, Kefkaās mind crossed the thin line between sanity and lunacy. He knew it would be. He would bide his time, gaining power. He would kill them all, he told himself. Leo he would enjoy killing. And the emperor; he would relish and savor Gestahlās eventual demise. ĪYes,ā he told himself, ĪIt will be a grand devastation of all. Every living thing shall die by my hand, I shall be a God.ā

At this time Shivaās mind joined Kefkaās. It was an intangible meeting, they shared thoughts.

"NO!" The Shiva half cried in anguish at learning Kefkaās plans.

"And who will stop me?!" His half gloated back at her.

". . ."

"Just as I thought. You shall not prevail. The world is mine as of now."

"I may not. But there will be some who shall, for as long as life beats within this planet, there shall always be those who will defy destruction."

"Never! There will not be life left within this world. I shall destroy it all, and there will be a void in place of what was once a balanced world!"

"No it cannot be as you foretell. For there to be a void, you, yourself must be destroyed."

"I AM DESTRUCTION ITSELF! I CANNOT DIE!"

It was at this point when Shiva realized just how insane Kefka was. She was trapped in the mind of a madman, eternally and still never. Kefkaās thoughts would haunt her tell the end of her days.

*******

"Thatās it!" Cid exclaimed, flipping the machine off.

"When will he wake up?" Said Gestahl anxiously.

"The drug should wear off any time now."

"Excellent! I was sure the procedure would be a success!"

All the while, Leo watched Shiva. The transfer had wrought a change in her features. Her cheeks were pale and sunken, dark circles had appeared beneath her eyes, and even a small amount of blue blood trickled from the corner of her mouth.

"Uhnn..." She groaned, stirring.

Almost instantly, she was aware of her surroundings again.

"No! That man is dangerous!" She yelled to the three standing around Kefka.

"Cid. Shut that thing up." Gestahl replied harshly.

"Please! Youāve got to believe me!" She pleaded, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"CID! What did I just tell you!?" The emperor nearly screamed.

"Yessir!" He said, once again pumping the pink gas into Shivaās chamber.

"Iām telling you th....." Shiva tried to speak before going down again.

All the while, Leo stood, his heart in turmoil, not doing anything. He would look back on this day in the future, and know he did the wrong thing. He didnāt do anything.

Kefka slowly opened his eyes, and groggily sat up.

"How do you feel?" Cid asked.

"I feel," Started Kefka, "I feel.... Powerful."

 
THE END
This story was by Dave Gibson
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