Gihren always wins.
That's something Kycilia Zabi has known for a long time. She remembers being five years old, and getting dragged to a debate at her brother's school. Gihren had been sixteen then, already at university, already top of his class and star of the debate club. She can't recall what the debate was about, but she will never, ever forget the shocked look on his opponent's face as Gihren demolished the other boy's argument, point by point. She had looked up at her father, and had said "Gihren's going to win, right?"
And Degwin Sodo Zabi had looked back down at her and said, "Gihren always wins."
When Kycilia is eleven years old, she is her school's chess champion. No one can defeat her. She out plays her father too, and the household staff, and even her big brother, Dozle, whom everyone thinks is a genius. One time, while the two of them are having a match, Gihren, twenty-two years old, and deeply involved in Zeon's politics, wanders by. He looks at them, then down at the board, pushes Dozle aside, and checkmates her in four moves. The next time that he's home, Kycilia demands a rematch. And another one after that. Finally, after her fifth straight defeat, she corners Dozle, and demands to know why she can't beat Gihren.
Dozle is big even then, fifteen years old, and already six and a half feet tall. He looks down at her from that tremendous height, and says simply, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world, "Gihren always wins."
Later that year, Degwin takes all of his children to have their IQs tested. When they get the results back, they have all done incredibly well. Dozle has scored at 160. Cicero has scored 130. Little Garma has scored 145. Kycilia tries not to gloat, because her score is 191. She is one of the smartest people alive. And it doesn't matter, because when Gihren's results come in, they are off the charts. The testers figure his score is somewhere around 240. Her father is ecstatic. Gihren just smirks. And Kycilia seethes, knowing there is nothing she can do about it.
Because Gihren always wins.
Growing up it doesn't matter what any of them do. Because whatever it is, Gihren has already done it. He never rubs it in. He doesn't have to. He's remote, aloof, barely around. When he is home, which isn't often, he ignores them all, argues politics with her father, and watches the household proceedings with barely veiled contempt.
And yet despite all that, her father never stops giving his oldest son anything he wants. Because he's the Zabi heir. Because he's special. And because, of course, Gihren always wins.
It makes life at home all but unbearable. It forces Dozle to turn himself into everything Gihren isn't—loud, boisterous, an athletic star. He marries young, leaves home when he does, and never, ever talks about his big brother.
Kycilia hears Gihren laughing about it one time. She wants to say something, but there isn't anything she can do. Her father will support Gihren over Dozle any day. Because Gihren always wins.
Her other brothers aren't any better off. Cicero becomes a nonentity, doing whatever Gihren, or their father, or even Kycilia or Garma tell him to. He's a drone, running Gihren's errands for him, talking to the public on Gihren's behalf, and never daring to challenge his older brother's authority. Garma, on the other hand, becomes an attention seeker, always desperate for approval, whether from her, or their father, or Gihren. He is their father's favourite, but not his confidante.
That's the position Gihren wants. And Gihren always wins.
Only Kycilia keeps trying to play the game. Keeps trying to show her brother up. Her attempts at doing so are always met with derision from Gihren. Derision, and a mild, cold-blooded amusement.
Gihren isn't threatened by her. Gihren isn't threatened by anything. Because Gihren always wins.
When Kycilia is thirteen, Zeon Zum Deikun is assassinated. The night it happens, Gihren comes by the house. Her father is enraged, yelling at Gihren, telling him that he should not have exposed the family to that kind of danger. At one point, he even slaps Gihren in the face.
Gihren just stands there, and looks at their father with those narrow, dead eyes. The next day, Degwin Zabi declares himself Sovereign of the Principality of Zeon. Gihren waits at his side, a thin smile on his face. He's gotten what he wants. Again. Gihren always wins.
That same year, Cicero dies in a bomb blast meant for Degwin. Degwin is beside himself. While their father cries, Gihren takes over management of the Principality. Kycilia doesn't talk to Gihren at the time, but she knows that on some level, her brother is happy that Cicero is gone. It weakens Degwin. It gives Gihren power.
Moreover, it serves as further proof that no matter what, Gihren always wins.
After she graduates, Kycilia, like Dozle before her and Garma after her, enters the army. She rises quickly through the ranks, becoming deeply involved in Newtype research. She also gains a number of valuable associates, including the aristocratic strategist, M'Quve. By the time that war breaks out with Earth, she is a Rear Admiral. Dozle is a Vice Admiral. Garma is a Captain. Any one of them would make a good commander-in-chief for Zeon's armed forces.
Instead, the position goes to Gihren, who has no military experience. Kycilia is angry, but not surprised. Gihren, she knows, always wins.
She hopes, on some level, that he will crash and burn. That his leadership will be disastrous and she will be asked to take command. It isn't and she isn't. Just the opposite in fact. With Gihren at the helm, Zeon wins major victories over the Earth Federation. They massacre vast portions of the Earth's population. They cripple the Federation government and occupy whole swathes of the planet.
The Principality of Zeon stands triumphant, over a world strewn with corpses. Not because of the righteousness of their cause, or the brilliance of their leaders, but because Gihren always wins.
It is about six months into the war, that Kycilia begins contemplating a coup. She sends M'Quve to Earth, to gain her support there. In the meantime, she starts gathering like minded officers around her, officers who believe that Gihren's war aims are too grandiose. Officers who feel that the commander-in-chief is a threat to Zeon's own liberty.
One morning, she wakes up to find a notice sitting at the door to her quarters, informing her that all the officers she has recruited are dead. Informing her, that Gihren always wins.
She thinks of ways she could get her revenge, but none come to mind. If she tries anything, Gihren might hurt M'Quve. Or Garma. Or Kycilia herself. And there is no way that she could hurt him the same way.
There is no one Gihren cares about. Gihren thinks caring is a sign of weakness. A sign of loss. And Gihren always wins.
When Garma dies, Kycilia comes home to Zeon proper for the first time in what feels like years. While she is there, she sees hundreds of posters in the streets, with Gihren's face on them, exhorting Zeon's citizens to fight for their nation. Gihren, not Degwin. Not her father.
When Gihren turns Garma's funeral into a political rally, Kycilia looks at her father. Looks at the Sovereign of Zeon, and implores him to do something. Degwin just sits there, looking old, and weak, and weary, and does nothing. Neither does Dozle. Neither does Kycilia. Because Gihren always wins.
The disaster at Side 6 alerts Kycilia to the fact that Gihren has stolen another march on her. Colonel Killing J. Dannigan, one of her mobile suit commanders, is actually a Gihren loyalist. Kycilia promptly orders a review of every man and woman serving under her. She has to know how many spies Gihren has in her command.
The answer is "far too many." She is able to have some of them quietly arrested, or transferred to the worst duty posts she can think of. Others, like Killing, she has to leave alone. Kycilia is sure that there are still more of his agents that she's never uncovered. After all, they're Gihren's agents. And Gihren always wins.
When Gihren's spy in her Newtype program, Challia Bull is killed in combat, Kycilia wants to cheer. She's stolen a march on Gihren. A day later, Lalah Sune, her best Newtype, is dead too. The scales are balanced.
For Gihren always wins.
Her father's death is the last straw. Losing Garma had been hard. Losing Dozle had been harder. Losing M'Quve, her most loyal subordinate, had been the hardest thing of all. But when word arrives that the Great Degwin has been shot down, and all hands lost, Kycilia knows. She knows that Gihren has finally gone too far. She confronts him in the command centre at A Baoa Qu and demands to know what has happened. Demands to know if her father was on that ship.
Gihren just looks at her, and smirks and tells her that she already knows the answer to that. He's not scared. He's not afraid of being exposed. He's Gihren. And he always wins.
He tells her that their father was weak. That their father wanted peace. And that because of that, he had the Solar Ray wipe out the Great Degwin, their father, and the Federation fleet. She pulls her gun then, and holds it to Gihren's head, and decides that this cannot be allowed to pass. That Gihren has to lose now.
He just sneers at her, his dead eyes not even blinking, and tells her to quit joking. And for the first time, Kycilia stops to ask herself, why is it that Gihren always wins? Why can't she beat him, at anything?
The answer is staring her in the face. She can't win, because she keeps trying to play by Gihren's rules. All her life, she and everyone else, have let Gihren dictate how the game is going to be played. As long as they play his way, Gihren will always win. So, Kycilia tells herself, if you don't want to lose, change the game.
Pulling the trigger is the easiest thing she's ever done in her life. Gihren's body flies loose from his chair, smacks into a window, and just like that, Gihren is gone and Kycilia has won. She gets the rest of the senior under control in seconds, asserting that she has done the right thing, that she did what had to be done if Zeon was going to survive. No one contradicts her. No one even dares to try.
Kycilia Zabi is the Sovereign of Zeon now, and commander-in-chief of the army. She is the sole surviving member of her immediate family and she has never felt more alive. She can make her own rules now. She can defeat the Federation, and take the world for Zeon. For her father. And for herself. Kycilia will be the Queen of the World, and there is nothing that Gihren can do about it.
She is triumphant.
And then it all comes crashing down around her a few hours later. The Zeong is defeated by the Gundam, Federation forces land on A Baoa Qu, and Gihren's loyalists flee, leaving Kycilia in the lurch. She decides that she will have to retreat. She can carry on the fight from the homeland.
That's when Char Aznable appears outside of her window, carrying a bazooka. Char, whom she knew had his own agenda. Char, whom Gihren had warned her not to trust. As he levels the rocket launcher at her, and prepares to fire, Kycilia can almost swear she hears her brother's familiar lifeless chuckle.
She'll be seeing him again in just a few seconds.
Because Gihren. Always. Wins.