Final Fantasy: The Darkness Within Chapter 1


By Froborr d'Wiggy

July 22, 2119

Midori slowly woke, rubbing at the back of her head. She stared fuzzily at the dark-haired man squatting above her. “Vicks..? Is that you?”

“You really do look just like her,” he said.

She sat up quickly and backed away from the unfamiliar voice. “Who are you?” she demanded.

The man smiled. “An old acquaintance of your mother’s, Dr. Midori Cid. And of your grandfather.”

“Where are Vicks and Wedge? Where—“ Midori’s hands fluttered to her neck and met the collar of her jumpsuit. “Where’s my helmet?”

“I’ve taken the liberty of removing your suits. We can’t have you leaving, after all.”

Mid stood to face him. “So we’re prisoners?”

“In a word? Yes. Goodbye, doctor.” He smiled again, and was gone as if he had never been.

Mid blinked and shook her head sharply. “Am I going crazy..?” she wondered aloud.

“No ‘going’ about it, Mid,” groaned Wedge, struggling to his feet.

“You heard that..?” she asked.

“What, you talking to a wall? Yeah, I heard.”

Mid stared. “No, the man that…” she trailed off at Wedge’s blank look. “I’m not seeing things, Wedge. There was someone here!”

“Yeah, Mid. Do me a favor, have your guy tell the pink elephants I saw waking up to go away, will you?”

Mid sighed and turned to look around the room. “Where’s Vicks?”

“How should I know? Last I remember, we were headed for Valhalla, and then, wham, no ground under us. Then, poof, here we are.”

“Well, we’re obviously under the Lunar surface, but…”

“Yeah. There’s air here. You think it’s something to do with Valhalla?”

Mid shrugged. “I don’t know how it could be, but I don’t see what else it could be, either. Anyway, you think we should go looking for Vicks?”

“Guess so. He is our CO, after all.”

The two headed off into the network of Lunar caverns.

New Washington, Potomac District, North American Province, Terra


Fleeing the cries and rocks, Voxel dove for the door of his home, scrabbling frantically for the knob. Before he could get it open, though, a hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back. He cowered and curled up, trying to protect himself from the blows he knew were coming, but two of the other kids grabbed him and stood him up, while Cory (always Cory, of course) began raining punches down on him.

“Stop it!” screamed another voice, pushing into the crowd of chanting children. “Cory Brown, you get off my brother this instant!”

“Who’s gonna make me, his little sister?”

“Yes!” answered Moog defiantly, glaring up at Cory from under a cloud of brown tangles. “You get off of him now, or, or—“

“Or what? Gonna fight me, little girl? You’re as big a retard as your brother!”

Moog struggled to keep back angry tears. “Vox is not a retard!” she shouted.

“Yeah? Then why doesn’t he ever say anything, huh? He’s a freak and a retard, that’s why!”

“I heard he’s a Phantom-baby,” one of the kids in the crowd said.

“Phantom-baby! Phantom-baby!” the crowd began chanting, as Cory resumed punching Voxel. Moog jumped in and grabbed his arm trying to pull it back, but he flung her aside and turned on her, almost growling. The other kids backed away as Cory advanced on Moog.

Cory suddenly screamed and fell, clutching his ankle, where Voxel’s teeth had sunk in. “You little freak!” he screamed, writhing away and spattering blood across the ground. “I’m telling!” Staggering to his feet, he ran for home, limping noticeably.

The other children quickly fled, and Voxel and Moog helped each other to their feet. Despite the two-year difference in age, Moog towered a good foot inches over her fourteen-year-old brother, but his shortness was not the only reason the other children called him “freak.” No, Moog had to admit, that probably had more to do with his huge ears, bigger than his head, the large, sharp buckteeth that made him look like a gopher, and the thin yellow fur that covered every inch of his body.

Voxel whimpered, and Moog pulled him into a hug. “It’s okay, Vox,” she whispered. “Thank you for saving me.”

I’m not retarded. They just say that because I cannot speak.

“I know that, Vox. They’re the ones that are stupid. If they bothered to look…”

In her mind’s eye, Moog saw letters form. They were after me because I aced the test today. Only A in the class. Teacher thought I must have cheated.

“Oh, Vox. You know better than to let people know you’re smarter than them! It just makes them angry!”

It’s not fair. I do not get angry that they are stronger and bigger than me. Why should they be angry with me?

“I know, Vox.” Moog hugged her brother tightly. “What can I do to cheer you up?”

I have a new story. Do you want to see it?

Moog smiled. “Of course!” She settled back and closed her eyes, while Vox concentrated. Images formed inside Moog’s mind, like the letters he used to talk to her, but more complicated. Of course, there was no sound, like TV would have, but Vox always made his stories just for her, and that made them special. In all the world, only Moog could see Vox’s writing—even their parents needed her to translate it, although sometimes Vox claimed he could make their mom see colors.

After a while, their mother came out. “Dinnertime, kids!” she yelled across the yard to them, and Voxel and Moog reluctantly entered the house.

Later, after dinner, Voxel headed out the back, into the woods behind the house. Young trees, thirty at the oldest, crowded together, and Voxel smiled at them. The world was healing from the Phantom attacks he’d learned about in school, and the little “forests” scattered around the country were proof of that. Voxel reached out to pat his favorite tree, a little elm, leaving a trail of blue-and-red streamers across the trunk, of the kind only he and Moog could see. Moog needed Voxel’s help for that, of course, and she couldn’t control the lights the way he could, making sentences and little movies from them.

A chirping noise sounded, and Voxel moved towards it, to find a small yellow bird hopping along the ground, pecking at it. He smiled. Hello, he picted.

The bird cheeped as he approached, and turned, running into the forest. Voxel chased after it, gurgling—his version of laughing. You can’t fly, can you, little bird? But you run like wind… you’re like me!

Enjoying his game, Voxel threw a coil of light in front of the bird. To his surprise, it stopped short, and peered curiously at the light. So, he picted to the bird, you can see it too? You really are like me… The bird peered curiously at his writing, and pecked at it, scattering the light. Voxel laughed, and made little blue and red birds to chase his new friend around with. How about I call you Boco? he asked the little bird. It’s a good name for a bird, I think.

As darkness approached, Voxel began to tire—playing with the lights could be draining sometimes. He was about to get up and bid the bird goodbye when a hand shot past him and grabbed it up.

“Watcha got there, freak?” asked Cory, holding up the bird.

Voxel leaped to his feet, turning to glare at Cory, clenching his fists.

“What, freak, you want the bird back? Why don’t you say so?” Cory laughed.

Voxel began to growl, low in the back of his throat, and Cory laughed harder. “What’s that, freak? You want I should kill it?” Voxel’s eyes widened in shock, and Cory laughed again. “Well, sounds like fun, freak!” So saying, he began to squeeze his hands slowly around the bird, crushing it.

Voxel stared at Boco, struggling, as the tiny bird gave its last chirp and died. He watched as a faint little wispy blue bird, like the ones he had made a few minutes ago, rose from Boco’s body and dissolved. The growling in his throat grew deeper, angrier, louder, and Cory looked down at him, still laughing.

“Well, freak? Enjoy that?”

Voxel shrieked, a defiant, sobbing, animal cry, and without thinking formed a deep red tentacle out of “the lights”, lashing out with it deep into Cory’s chest. Cory’s mouth and eyes stretched wide in a soundless scream, as Voxel ripped his soul from his body and tore it apart.

That was how the police found them, at two that morning. Cory, lying dead on the ground, a tiny, deformed yellow bird lying next to his outstretched hand, and Voxel curled into a fetal ball at his feet, sobbing uncontrollably.


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