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Day 322: The Program

Saïx, Xigbar and Xemnas sit in the Round Room

Xigbar: Ryan has a pretty powerful effect on her is all I'm saying.

Xemnas: Yes, it was not supposed to gain a mind of its own---nor become the person we see. But in the end, it only proves that the puppet is the more worthy vessel. The time has come. Saïx, are the devices ready?

Saïx: In a matter of days.

Xemnas: Good.

Saïx: And what of Ranyx?

Xemnas: Both of them have connections to Ryan, but we only need one of them under our thumb. Whether Xgem takes from Ranyx the rest of what he has to give...or, whether he destroys her first and takes back what is his, there is no change to our plans. No matter how, Ranyx's power will belong to us.

Day 323: Fleeting

Ranyx, still in a slump, continued to receive missions from the Organization.

He spent his days executing missions.

Day 352: Sunset

In her room, Xgem sits curled on her bed

Xgem: The way things are...I'm going to wreck everything...

She stares outside her window

Xgem: What should I do, Cody?

Xgem thinks back to when Cody found Xgem in Canterlot High. She wakes up in his arms

Xgem: Are you...

Cody: Cody. Ryan's Brother.

Xgem: Ryan ? You know Ryan.

Cody: Yeah.

He stands and offers a hand to help her up

Xgem: Thank you. You saved me, but I don't know why...you did.

Cody: I guess...I just felt like it.

Xgem: Cody, please... Tell me more---about Ryan and that girl he's always with.

Cody: You mean Meg.

Xgem: Meg... That's right. She's the one who looks so much like me.

Cody: To Ryan, she's someone's very special

Xgem: It's just...I remember things about the two of them. But I'm nothing more than a puppet---something that somebody created. So why would I have...their memories? Do you know where Ryan is now?

Cody: That secret stays with me.

Xgem: Why's that?

Cody: Xgem...your memories...they really belong to Ryan.

Xgem: So you mean...I'm like a part of him?

Cody: When his memories were scattered, some of them...found their way inside you. Now, Ryan has been put to sleep so that we can piece together his memory. Except...

Xgem: You can't, because part of it is inside of me. That means...he can't wake up.

Cody: Yeah. You got it. But, if you go with me to Ryan right now, we could give the memories inside you back to him.

Xgem: So, do you hate me for taking your friend away from you?

Cody: Nah. I guess...I'm just sad.

Xgem: I'm sorry, but...I can't go with you. It's my friends---they need me. And I need them, too.

Cody places a hand on her shoulder

Cody: Maybe...you should take some time and think about it. Figure out who really needs you more. And where you belong.

Xgem: How will I know where I belong, truly? I'm not sure I can promise you I'll come up with the right answer.

Cody: Well, the answer you come up with can't just be right for you. It has to be one that works best for everybody. You and your friends and everyone else.

He leaves

Xgem: I'll try. Thank you, Cody.

In her bed, Xgem holds a seashell and looks outside

Xgem: I have to make the most of the time Cody's given me.

She holds the shell to her chest and leaves the room

Ranyx battled a Heartless during a mission.

His strength spent against a formidable foe, Ranyx swung his Keyblade with all his might in hopes of ending things quickly.

But his strike was interrupted with the sound of clashing metal.

There was Axel, blocking both Ranyx's and Xgem's Keyblades. They had been fighting the entire time, each thinking the other was a Heartless.

Axel informed them of the truth surrounding this mission rigged to get them to fight one another.

Axel, Ranyx, and Xgem eat ice cream on the clock tower

Xgem: Brain freeze... (giggles)

Ranyx: It's been a while since we all hung out like this, hasn't it?

Axel: Well, we've had our share of drama lately. I just remembered---did you guys know you should be checking your ice cream sticks?

Xgem: Really?

Axel: Once you finish your ice cream, see if the stick says WINNER.

Axel takes a bite, but sighs when he doesn't see WINNER written on the stick

Axel: Not that I've ever seen one myself.

Ranyx: Huh. Wait a second...

Ranyx realizes something

Axel: What is it?

Ranyx: Uhh...it's n-nothing. So then, what happens when you win?

Axel: I'll tell ya... That's a good question.

Ranyx: What, you don't know?

Axel: Well, it's gotta be something nifty, if you're a WINNER, right?

Ranyx: Cool...

Xgem: Heh heh heh... Wow. The sun's beautiful. I know we've seen a lot of sunsets, but today's puts them all to shame. If only things could stay like this forever...

Axel sighs

Ranyx: Say... What if we all just took off?

Xgem: What?

Ranyx: If we ran, I bet we could always be together.

Xgem: But we have nowhere to run.

Axel sighs silently

Ranyx: Yeah. I guess you're right.

Axel: What's important isn't that we hang out with each other every day---

Xgem: As long as we keep each other in our thoughts, we'll never be apart, right? We've got it memorized, Axel.

Axel: Good.

Xgem: I'll have these moments memorized for a long time. Forever.

Ranyx: Me too. Forever...

Megaminé stands in the Pod Room

Megaminé: Ryan...

DiZ walks over

DiZ: It appears we've come to a standstill.

Megaminé: Yes.

DiZ: This has gone on long enough. Cody...

He turns around to face Cody

DiZ: I think you know what needs to be done.

Cody: Right.

Day 353: Resolve

Axel walks through Twilight's View and sees Saïx

Saïx: Looks like you've meddled again.

Axel: Sorry, did you say something?

Saïx: The Organization doesn't need both of them. Just one will suffice. Stop pretending.

Axel looks away

Saïx: Think about that.

He walks away

Roxas entered the lobby to see Axel, Xgem, and Xigbar conversing with Saïx. The unusual trio were about to head out on a mission.

Ranyx asked Saïx if he could take Xigbar's spot, but Saïx chided Ranyx, asking if he was powerless without Axel.

Ranyx saw Xgem and Axel off with a sense of unease.

Xigbar, Axel, and Xgem are in the Tea Party Garden in Wonderland

Xigbar (jumping back): Ha ha ha! What a blast from the past.

Xgem is poised and ready to fight, Keyblade out

Axel: Xgem, stop!

Xigbar summons his arrowguns

Xigbar: Of all the faces... Why do I look at her and see yours?

Xgem appeared as Spyro

Xigbar: Why is it that you always have to glare at me like that?

Xion: Shut up!

Axel watches. Xgem charges toward Xigbar and becomes invisible

Xigbar: Huh?

Xigbar looks around furiously but is hit by Xgem's swift appearance. Xigbar falls to the ground, and Xgem pants, dispelling her Keyblade

Xgem: I'm sorry, Axel.

Axel: What are you doing?

Xgem: Please...let me go. I have to do this, or else--- Just look.

She removes her hood and Axel gasps. She then puts the hood back on

Xgem: Please, Axel. You have to take care of Ranyx.

Axel: But...you'd be...

Xgem: Please!

He thinks for a moment and then nods, signaling her to leave

Xgem: Thank you, Axel.

She runs into a corridor of darkness. Later, Ranyx walks into The Grey Area and sees Saïx speaking with Axel and Xigbar

Saïx: Explain yourself, Axel.

Axel: The old man needs to get his eye checked. She just got away.

Xigbar: I'll give him that. Can't toss the blame around.

Ranyx walks in

Saïx: And now we're left with the one we can't use...

Ranyx: Did something happen?

Saïx leaves. Axel turns around and looks away

Ranyx: Where's Xgem?

Xigbar: She flew the coop. Flamesilocks here couldn't trouble himself to clip her wings.

Axel says nothing

Ranyx: Huh? What does he mean, Axel?

Xigbar: Your friend sat there sucking his thumb while Xgem walked right off. ...I'm going back to my room.

Xigbar leaves

Ranyx: What happened out there?

Axel: Nothing, really.

Ranyx: "Nothing"? Xgem's gone! How can that be nothing?

Axel: It's just like Xigbar said. I just sat there sucking my thumb watching Xgem run away.

Ranyx puts himself in front of Axel

Ranyx: I'm asking you WHY you did that, and you know it!

Axel (crossing his arms): Xgem is like a mirror that reflects you.

Ranyx: You're not making any sense.

Axel: Xgem is a puppet, created to duplicate your powers.

Ranyx: Are you nuts? Xgem's a person, not a puppet.

Axel: She's a mirror that reflects you. And when I looked in the mirror... It wasn't you I saw.

Ranyx: Xion is Xion. You can't expect her to be me.

Axel: That's not what I mean. It was only a matter of time before someone broke the mirror.

Ranyx: You mean...they have to destroy her!?

Axel looks down

Ranyx: Answer me!

Axel: Ranyx, if somebody doesn't---then you won't be you anymore.

Ranyx: I'll always be me! I'm still your best friend---just like Xgem is my best friend!

Axel: That's not it. You're missing the whole point, Ranyx.

Ranyx: Forget this.

Ranyx runs away

Axel: Ranyx! I wish you'd understand, Ranyx...

Xgem arrives on the Bridge of Beast's Castle and sees Cody

Xgem: Cody!

Cody: Did you find the answer?

Xgem: Yes, I certainly did. I'm on the verge of losing everything I care about. So please... Please Cody, tell me what I should do now.

Cody: Go to Twilight Town. You'll find a girl there named Megaminé.

Xgem: Megaminé? What's she like?

Cody: You'll find out. I don't think you'll have trouble finding her.

Xgem: All right. Thanks, Cody. Good-bye...

She leaves

Day 354: Truth

Xemnas assembles the remaining Organization members in the Round Room

Xemnas: Xion has disappeared yet again.

Xaldin: Do we know where she has headed?

Xemnas: "It"---not "she"---is a replica, merely a puppet.

Luxord: A puppet? What does that mean exactly?

Saïx: A puppet is a puppet.

Xigbar: Talking about the Replica Program, isn't it obvious?

Demyx: The what-ca?

Xaldin: Perhaps you'd care to enlighten us about this pet project of yours.

Xemnas: Hmm. The purpose was to take a piece of the Keyblade wielder's memory and copy it, thus making his powers our own. This was one of several projects of ours being undertaken at Castle Oblivion. However, our efforts were severely derailed by Vexen's untimely demise. Needless to say, for Vexen not being here was not part of our plans. We were also caught off guard when this particular replica we called Xion formed an identity of its own.

Saïx: No one at Castle Oblivion ever reported any instance where a replica formed its own identity. Do you concur, Axel?

Axel remains silent

Xemnas: Whatever the puppet may decide to do, we can be certain it will no longer have an impact on our plans. Still, it knows our secrets. We need to shorten the leash. Perhaps even tighten it.

Ranyx: What exactly do you---

Xemnas: Axel. The onus is on you to capture and bring back Xion. The escape was on your watch. I will overlook any nicks or scratches. Just ensure she still functions on arrival.

Xaldin: Why would you allow a deserter back? We should simply eradicate her!

Saïx: It is not a "deserter." It is just a flawed specimen that has wandered out.

Xemnas: Are we clear, Axel? Dismissed.

Xemnas vacates his chair

Xaldin: Bring her back alive? It's sheer madness.

Xaldin leaves

Demyx: All this time, I've been talking to a puppet...

Demyx leaves

Xigbar: So now, we just sweep it up, huh? As if.

Xigbar leaves

Luxord: If only the whispers at the top carried to the bottom... Heh.

Luxord leaves

Saïx: Axel.

Axel looks up

Saïx: Those orders were absolute.

Axel snickers and leaves

Saïx: Still here, Ranyx? Proceed with your mission.

Ranyx: Xgem is...she's not a puppet

Saïx: A puppet couldn't be part of the Organization. Just count the seats here. We have and always will be thirteen.

Later, in The Grey Area, Axel opens a corridor

Ranyx: Axel!

Ranyx walks over to him

Ranyx: Maybe it's best if Xgem never comes back to the Organization. Do you really have to do what Xemnas says?

Axel: If I don't, they'll eradicate me next.

Ranyx: (gasps) In that case...can you at least try not to harm her?

Axel: That's up to her. Ranyx... Xgem is dangerous.

Ranyx: Dangerous?

Axel: Have you got all your strength back?

Ranyx: Not yet...

Axel looks away

Ranyx: How long have you known about her? Could it be... that you've known about her for a long time, and not told me anything?

Axel remains silent and enters the corridor. Meanwhile, in The Woods of Twilight Town, a hooded people meets a tall cloaked figure. The figure takes its hood off to reveal a man with long white hair and yellow eyes. Optimus and the others jumps back. They stare at each other for a few minutes, anticipating the other's next move. The man puts a blindfold on his eyes and is covered in a dark aura. His body begins to change form, grow younger. He smiles. Surprise appears on the everyone face as he stands before...

All: Cody...

He walks closer

Cody: Optimus, everyone.

Optimus: Whoa, have we been worried about you! Where've you been all this time?

Cody: I've been...searching for a way to conquer the darkness within me while we wait for Ryan to awaken.

Optimus: The way you looked---

Cody: You don't have to worry about me. I'm getting the hang of keeping the darkness under control.

Sharko: And Ryan... Did something go wrong with fixing all his memories?

Cody: There's a reason the Organization's been quiet since our battle at Castle Oblivion. And now I know it's not because a depletion in members had made them weak. Taking Ryan's memory apart piece by piece was only the first step in what they were trying to do at Castle Oblivion. And I think they needed more time to fix his memory.

Marina: You know, you and me were both looking into what the Organization was up to, but what I saw didn't look like much. Almost like they're trying to buy some time...

Cody: Right. Ryan's memories are what they're after. And they needed all this time until now to absorb every piece of it.

Zig (Zig and Sharko): Huh?

Cody: The process of putting his memory back together has gone nowhere... They have what's most precious to Ryan...his memories of Meg.

Optimus: Well, then you have to let us help! Maybe I could get the memories back!

Cody: I've got that covered, Optimus. Instead, I want to ask you for a favor.

Optimus: What would that be?

Cody: I have to face one of the Organization's members soon. I might not survive the fight. And if I do, it might be because I gave in to the darkness. That means you're the only one who will be there for Ryan and the others--- the only one who can guide them when they awaken.

Optimus: Cody...

Cody: Promise me, Optimus. When our friends wake up, you have to be there to help them out.

Optimus: I promise, Cody.

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