A/N: Hello readers, I am just going to explain some things to you all before you get started reading. This story evolved from a creative writing teacher daring my class to change something basic about a character in any given story and see how it effects them, their suggestions being things such as gender and interests. While not one who enjoys genderbending, I thought maybe I could expand my horizons by doing it in an interesting setting. After looking a bit, I noticed that a perfect character to delve into would be Char Aznable from Mobile Suit Gundam Universal Century.
As such, this story is about Char if he was a woman instead and it is obviously then AU. I am however keeping to the events and dates that would not be at all effected by this change, and as such a majority of this will be canon with a simple twist on the character of Char Aznable...however, since this is about dealing with how the character might be different in this situation the story is beginning from when he (she) is a child. This first installment is an imagined view of how Char first meets his longtime friend, Garma Zabi, and as such focus is also given to the Zabis.
I hope you all enjoy, and if you have any feedback, thoughts, comments, ideas or questions please leave them in the form of a review (the easiest way for me to look back at them) as they all can help me improve my writing (and thus future stories) not to mention this very story, which I think benefits you readers as well!
Universal Century Date: October 5th, 0069
A boy with indigo hair and well kept, fitted dress clothing finished climbing over his large fence only to then have to finish the job by going down the other side. He took this in stride however, climbing halfway down the giant wall and then falling gracefully to the ground the rest of the way. Years of acrobatics training made this attempt at leaving his own property a cinch, and he felt confident that no-one would even know he was gone. Having grown tired of only his family for company, the well dressed child thought that maybe paying the kids over the fence a visit would be fun. After all, he was always tossing their balls and toy planes back over the wall so they had to be having fun of some kind.
Having never approached strangers outside of his own home before, the boy did not exactly know what to do. He knew he shouldn't talk to adult strangers, but he didn't think talking to kids would be a bad idea. After all, kids are nice to one another.
"Can I play?" he asks politely to the first group he sees, a group of five kids who were tossing around a ball between them. One had a bat and was preparing to swing it when he heard a well spoken voice. He, like the others, all turned to see a kid dressed in a red dress shirt and green slacks waving at them.
If it had been any other group of children on the space colony designated Side Three they would have likely recognized the child who was talking to them, and they might have accepted him over. Instead, these recent immigrants from the privileged planet of Earth were not fans of native Spacenoids because of the stories told to them by their propaganda prone parents. Nothing said Spacenoid like purple-blue hair, and so the well dressed child was rebuffed, "Go away."
The Spacenoid child tilted his head, confused by the statement, when another one of the kids spoke up, "Your not welcome here, so scram!"
Now the one with the bat scowled and yelled at the child born and raised on Side Three, "Yeah, we don't want to play with the likes of you!"
"B-but-" the child stammered nervously before being cut off with a sharp pain in the gut as a small ball, the one being thrown around just before, collides with his gut faster than he could react.
"Take a hike!" The pitcher yelled then before reaching for a can on the ground and preparing to throw that too. Scared and confused, the Spacenoid child runs back to his large wall and began to scale it as fast as he could, objects being thrown at him by the gathering of children nearby colliding with him and the wall.
The young Garma Zabi began to learn why there was a wall.
Walking casually through his own large estate was Degwin Zabi, leader and figurehead of the space colonies, on a relaxed mission of finding his youngest son, Garma. He could have a house hand go and get the boy, but Degwin decided that he needed the exercise.
After all, he now had people tending to his every desire at an almost maddening rate. Should he drink a cup of tea, it would be refilled in an instant. The new leader of the colonies had even gone as far as faking a sip of his tea just so his over-eager waiting staff would overflow it. The old man remembered when he was younger and was able to pull pranks like that all the time on people, but it was rare for him to get such an opportunity these days.
Now everything was work work work, with little respite, and it was making Degwin grow weary. He had never imagined that the position as leader and rank of sovereign would also have shackles attached. He did not mind his power or his position, for he did love the people of his nation, but this was a time of growing upheaval and it would not be easy on any leader in his place. The colonies were growing more and more resistant of the Earth Federation that reigned over them all, that prevented them from expression, that stifled their suffrage, and for what? To control them. To make sure the colonies did as ordered.
Degwin was no history fanatic, but he did recall a time in history when a colony in the North American region was pushed to its limits by its imperialistic rulers from the European continent and later revolted violently for their freedom. It started with minor incidents of losing freedom and ended with the major secession of an entire coast-side of a continent. Every time the head of the Zabi family thought about it he was brought to a state of sorrow. It would mean war in the coming years if the Federation continued to deprive all the colonies of the rights that the privileged on Earth received. It would mean the death of so many innocent men, women and children...
Degwin shook the depressing thoughts from his mind and refocused on his search for his son. His kind, caring and sincere son who embodied all the traits one would look for in any benevolent leader and who was only the age of ten. Degwin chuckled as he thought about where he might the little rascal, Garma having inherited his penchant and love of pranks. Hopefully he would grow out of that, Degwin prayed, for he was running out of excuses to give his oldest son, Gihren, about why his younger brother had dropped a bucket of water on his head. That Gihren may be a young adult, but Degwin could be sure that there was a fully developed adult mind behind him. Gihren was way too serious for his age. When he should be joining Garma on pranking sprees, he was instead studying as well as getting involved with politics. The boy really needed to get out more-
The sight of indigo hair caught Degwin's eye and halted his thoughts, but to his slight displeasure it was not the son he was looking for. Instead, Degwin had come across his second oldest child, Dozle, who now stood in the middle of their garden with his gaze focused on a photograph he held in his hand. Degwin could only assume it was another photo of that girl he kept inviting to dinner, the lovely Zenna, and the thought that despite all the political turmoil in the world around them that Dozle could still find happiness made Degwin happy too. Love was something to be cherished, something Degwin had only learned all too late when his wife passed.
The leader of the colonies cleared his throat to announce his presence and it worked, the only physically imposing and second oldest child of his turning to face him with a bright smile. Degwin smiled back up at his seven foot tall son (the only child not to also inherit their mother's good looks) and spoke, "Dozle, have you by any chance seen your brother anywhere?"
Dozle pocketed his photograph and chuckled, "Which one, father?"
Degwin held an arm and hand out low to signify a height level, "Young Garma. I haven't seen him around today, so I'm hoping he isn't off doing anything too mischievous."
The eldest child tilted his head back and laughed loudly, "Well, the lovable runt is probably off trying to prank Gihren. Poor Garma," Dozle let out an amused sigh before continuing, "I'll go see if I can find him before he gets killed."
His father nodded to him, "Gihren needs to lighten up some, yes, and Garma needs to freshen up, for we have guests coming today. Rimba Ral and his dear family."
"Any special occasion?"
Degwin looked down with a hint of sorrow in his eye, "Well, poor Jimba was as devoted to the late Deikun as could be and I would like to see how he is faring. Even though our nation's founder passed about a year ago, they were old friends and friends don't just forget about one another in a heartbeat. I would have had him over earlier if I hadn't been so focused on keeping our nation together," he sighed heavily, his face displaying the how tired he felt on the inside, "This position of leader, of savior to the colonies, is an enervating one."
Dozle nodded and placed a hand on his father's shoulder caringly, "I understand father. Let me go fetch Garma."
As Dozle left his father let out a light, "Thank you."
Once he was completely alone, the old man let out a long sigh and shook his head before looking up at the pseudo sky of the colony, "Zeon, old friend, how did you handle this responsibility?"
It didn't take long for Dozle to find his youngest sibling. Dozle towered above most of the things that would get in the line of sight of most others, so the distant figure of a young child tumbling over their fence was caught by him. As Garma was a bit obsessive about wiping off any grass or leaves that may have stuck to him he remained where he landed, grooming himself carefully of nature, Dozle figured that he had some time before his brother scampered off to go do something else. As such he walked at a slow pace towards where Garma lay so as to allow himself to enjoy the magnificent garden around him.
Trees, hedges, assorted flowers...they all brought a smile to the giant Zabi's face. They reminded him of his beloved Zenna, a girl he felt blessed to have met. She was related to a nobleman who worked with Degwin, and as such had accompanied him once on business. She had taken to the gardens and had found a surprise there, a giant man kneeling down and feeding a baby bird that had fallen from its nest.
Dozle let out a content sigh at the memory, it warming his heart every time it came to him. He considered himself so lucky to have a beautiful girlfriend like-
The Zabi whose name had been spoken blinked and realized that his long legs had brought him to his younger brother faster than he had thought. He looked down at Garma with a smile though, not at all unhappy about being broken from his stupor, "Hey there sport, looks like you had a nasty fall."
Garma shook his head with a youthful vigor, "Well, I guess so...I'm just happy that I landed it well. I'm not even hurt!"
Dozle knelt down and helped his brother onto his feet, a smile still shining on his face, "Father is looking for you, Garma. I said I would find you, so why don't you go see him?"
The youngest Zabi didn't feel in the mood for doing something official and serious with their father, the reason he was most often called to his father's side, and promptly complained, "But Dozle-"
"NowGarma," Dozle responded firmly, his voice still warm despite that, "We are to have company soon and it is important that you be ready for them."
At the mention of company Garma's eyes lit up, having recently met a guest who was very nice to him, "Is it Zenna again? I like it when she visits."
Dozle shook his head but grinned all the same, glad that his brother approved of his girlfriend, "No, not this time," at the thought of who was coming, his smile faded into a neutral expression as sorrow found its way into his voice, "It is the late Zeon Deikun's aide, Jimba Ral, and his family."
"Okay...", was the unenthusiastic response Garma gave, causing Dozle to raise an eyebrow.
The elder brother placed a hand on the younger's shoulder and looked down at where his nearly half as tall brother's would be if they weren't averted to the ground now, "What's the matter, Garma?"
Garma quickly hid his sad face and resumed eye contact, putting on a happy facade that Dozle could see right through, "I'm okay, big brother. I'll go get ready."
Dozle knelt down so that the two of them were on a more equal level, his eyes meeting up with his younger brother's exactly, "I can see that something's wrong brother. You can trust me, what is bothering you."
Garma averted his eyes again to the ground as he recounted what just happened to him, "I just tried playing with the kids over the fence, but they threw stuff at me and were mean to me."
The youngest Zabi had been feeling lonely for quite some time now. Degwin had him home-schooled his whole life because of the dangerous political atmosphere they all lived in, especially now that the family was basically royalty, so Garma wasn't used to seeing kids his own age. Dozle, currently attending the colony's top military academy but having grown up the same way, could sympathize with his younger sibling. He placed his bulky arms around Garma and gave him a gentle hug, speaking in a reassuring tone to the child, "There there, it's okay," Garma wrapped his own arms around Dozle and lent into the giant man's body. Dozle smiled, for he loved his brother dearly and cherished moments like this where he was able to demonstrate that.
Not wanting Garma to linger on sad thoughts, Dozle pulled back slightly so he could look Garma in the eyes, "Garma, how about we go visit Zenna after this? Just the two of us."
The large and warm smile he received told Dozle all he needed to about what his brother thought of that plan. Lifting Garma up into the air with his strong arms, Dozle held his youngest and dearest sibling in his arms bridal style as he turned back to their home and began to walk towards it, "Well let's go get you washed up and we'll go see Zenna tonight. Okay?"
Garma nestled against his brother and nodded his head. Dozle smiled again and continued on towards their home.
Garma decided that if he was going to have to get dressed in completely clean clothes, he might as well do so before going to see his father. As such he went straight towards his room, running with all the energy of a ten year old. Unfortunately for him, he hadn't mastered the technique of stopping on a dime, for right as he began to turn around a corner towards the hallway his room was on, a tall figure rounded the same corner. As to be expected, they collided and both fell to the ground in their opposite directions.
Garma rubbed his head, feeling dazed by the collision, and looked to see who he had run into. The sight of who it was didn't ease his headache any, for it was none other than his eldest brother Gihren. Around Gihren and flying in the air were pieces of paper, all of which had been knocked ungracefully from the eldest Zabi child's hands when Garma hit him.
"Garma, you little-!"
One piece of paper crashed into Garma's body and the boy glanced at it quickly as his brother yelled at him for his carelessness, the paper saying something about "assassination", "Deikun", and "orphans". Realizing that this must be something related to his brother's politics, Garma dropped it and scrambled to his feet in order to make tracks and escape.
"Get back here you little brat!"
After dressing in clean clothes, Garma met with his father and the three guests. There was the spoken of Jimba Ral, his wife and his son Ramba, the latter two who were being entertained by Dozle and the housekeeping staff while the former was taken care of by Degwin Zabi himself. Garma was supposed to join Dozle, but the ten year old did not feel like talking with the entirely adult crowd (as the eighteen year old Dozle counted as one in Garma's mind).
Instead of joining them, the young Spacenoid decided to go back to his luxurious room. Not to be distracted by his numerous toys and building sets, Garma went right onto the room's balcony and lent against the railing of it. He wanted to think about what happened earlier that day with the other children by himself, and he could think of no better place to do so.
The sight of a girl his own size climbing alongside the side of the house caught his attention and stopped his oncoming self pity. Confused as to why someone was sneakily looking into windows and then inching over alongside the mansion to look into another, Garma did the first thing that came to mind.
My spine straightens and my body stiffens as I hear someone's questioning voice nearby, "What are you doing out here?"
Glancing over to where the voice originated, I can see that an indigo haired boy is standing on a balcony nearby. No doubt about it, he is talking to me, for his eyes are right on me. All I can manage is to stammer out, "I-uh-"
He chuckles and I scowl as he speaks again, my eyes glaring daggers at him from behind the masquerade mask I had worn here to conceal my identity, "Why don't you get down from there before we talk? That looks pretty dangerous."
I frown briefly before deciding that if I run, he might call security, and if I heed his wishes I might not get in trouble for he didn't appear mean outwardly. My mind set, I shimmy along the edge of the mansion's second floor towards the balcony, the act easy because of how many times I had done the same at my old home, and after a minute I manage to reach the boy.
Indigo boy helps me onto the balcony itself and smiles, "There you go," I straighten myself out on the balcony and peer inside, traces of a blue room visible, "Now, who are you and what are you doing here?
I shrug nonchalantly, answering only half of his question, "I wanted to see what this place looked like," he just looks at me silently and I groan before going on, "I am a part of the Ral family. I wasn't supposed to come here, but I hid in the car and ended up here."
Totally unconcerned that I was prowling on his estate and spying on his house, the kid accepts my story without question and asks me nervously, "Well if you want to see this place, how about I show you around? If you stay with me you won't have to sneak around."
I bite my lip, unsure about how to go about this. If I am caught I can be punished severely by the guards, not to mention almost definitely being in trouble with Jimba even if I am not caught by the staff here. But then again, this kid...
I was completely only doing this because of a whim mixed with the fact I did not wish to get in trouble. This kid wanted to lead me around his luxurious estate in a friendly manner? Fine. I wanted to look around anyways, so it wasn't as if anything changed besides the amount of company I had.
Our first stop is to go inside from the balcony, which brought us directly into a room that had colors akin to those that this kid was wearing. It had to be his r-
"This is my room," he states in a chipper tone.
'Nice explaining of the obvious you did there, chump,'I think to myself before speaking bluntly, "I can see that."
Within the room there are various toys strewn about the floor, albeit in neat and orderly ways. Looking around more, I actually feel a little impressed. I have never seen such a relatively clean room for someone our age, but this kid has to have a bunch of staff who clean up after him. Be it the neatly made bed, his open closet with orderly hung clothing and absolutely no clutter, this all was a bit odd to me.
"So, how big is your cleaning staff?" I question absentmindedly.
He gives a light shrug, "Well, we have a large cleaning staff here, but they aren't allowed in our rooms. I clean my room in my spare time though, so would that count as one person?"
"You must have a lot of free time then."
He doesn't respond to that, so I continue to look around his room. On the same wall his bed lays against their is a large painting that hangs over the mentioned bed, the image being of five people, three of whom had the same indigo hair. Smallest among them is the boy I am with, the largest being someone who is not very easy on the eyes. An elderly, bald man I recognized as Degwin Zabi was among them, with two more of his kids at his side. One was a young woman with red hair who I assume is the infamous Kycilia Zabi. The other is between the boy I am with in height and the tallest one, so I assume he must be the oldest brother Gihren.
Now he notices where my gaze had landed and he decides to explain the painting to me, as if I didn't know a lot about the 'Royal Family of Zeon' already, "Oh, that's my family. My favorite brother Dozle is the really tall one, my older sister Kycilia is the girl, the one who looks grumpy is Gihren, and my father is the old man. I'm right there next to Dozle, Garma Zabi at your service," he smiles as he looked over the photo, "Except Gihren they're all really nice people."
I don't respond to that, biting my own tongue so that I can't lash out at that statement. This Garma Zabi didn't appear to be unkind right now, but it had to be in his blood as it was the others...that backstabbing, murderous, self serving nature. What killed my father and imprisoned my mother.
"Can we go somewhere else, Garma?" I can't stand to be in this room any longer with that picture of my father's murderer on it, the supposed kind and 'nice' Degwin Zabi. I need to get my mind off of that subject though, so a change in location is what I believe to be best.
"Sure. Want to go see the gardens? I know just the spot to look over them."
It was approaching mid-afternoon and the colony's pseudo sun began to reflect that, everything growing a slight bit darker as the day approached the night cycle of the colony. Without such measures many people, Spacenoids and those from Earth both, would have trouble with telling things such as time and knowing when to sleep. Space itself was disorientating for the uninitiated, so those fresh from Earth would be nigh helpless without at least some of the conditions humans had grown used to.
Walking down one of the many hallways of the Zabi estate were Degwin and Jimba Ral, having been conversing since the latter's arrival. Jimba had been very guarded in what he said and revealed, not feeling at ease talking with the man who was rumored to have killed their mutual friend and companion, Zeon Deikun.
The only reason Jimba had accepted the invitation to visit was because of the severe and harsh reprimands, including life imprisonments and executions, of those who had tried killing the Deikun children by none other than Degwin himself. Cover ups, or a man trying to protect the innocent victim offspring of his poor friend? Jimba intended to find out, Degwin having never been able to mask any kind of emotion.
Luckily for him, a way of getting onto that topic found its way into their conversation without Jimba having to lead it that way. Instead, Degwin was the one to ask a related question, even if though he wouldn't have connected the dots, "So, Jimba, I heard that you have adopted two young orphans. How are they?"
Jimba hid the nervousness that cropped up in him behind a smile, not knowing exactly who he could trust within these walls but holding hope all the same, "They are well. One is bitter over losing their parents, but the other is adjusting well, lovely Sayla," thinking of the older and more cynical of the girls lessened the smile on his face some, "I'm working on the other one though. She is tough and cold, but she really isn't that bad. She is just feeling lost and angry, but I'm sure she will get better if someone gets through to her."
Degwin nodded understandingly, sad memories returning to the old man, "It's understandable feeling grief at the loss of family. I lost my beloved wife ten years ago when she gave birth to my youngest, Garma, and I miss her every day. My boy Garma never got to meet his own mother, which is the real tragedy in my eyes," Degwin closed his eyes to recall an image of his wife, and then of an image of his most beloved son. After recalling the second image he opened his eyes, feeling a little better, "But that boy is what keeps me going, his cheerfulness and naivete remind me so much of my wife."
Jimba nodded in return, "I remember your wife, and it is a tragedy to all in the colony that she passed away before her time. But I'm sure that if your son is anything like her that he is quite the joy."
The leader of the colony smiled at Jimba, his own mind now drawing upon memories of Garma running around their garden and land...Degwin blinked as an idea came to his mind. He was surprised this hadn't come to him sooner, so he grinned happily as he spoke, "An idea just struck me. How about we have our youngest ones meet each-other? Maybe it could do them all some good. Garma is shy and is having trouble making friends, but maybe he would be more comfortable meeting friends of the family, while maybe having some friends can help your daughter warm up a little."
All Jimba was certain of was that he did not want the children of his deceased friend Zeon Deikun meeting with the family that took their place and may have possibly put their lives in extreme danger. In a not very thought out manner the friend of the late Zeon Deikun replied, "I don't know. In their current condition I don't think it would be a wise idea because of the problematic one I mentioned," he slowed himself down and did his best to regain his composure, "I don't think she is ready for more new people in her life, not just yet, but I have a feeling she will sometime in the near future."
Degwin chuckled lightly, "That's quite alright. Garma will have to put up with Dozle, Kycilia and I for the time being and I don't think he'll mind that," noticing Jimba's nervousness to a small degree, Degwin decided to try and make him feel more comfortable, "Jimba, just so you know, you may come here whenever you please. For you and your family we'll always have our doors open, okay?"
Ral felt some nervousness leave him, finding that Degwin's easy to read nature felt genuine and as such felt that he could trust the man, if not those around him. Jimba let out a breath and grinned, feeling a bit relieved, "Why thank you Degwin, that is quite generous," remembering the subject they had been on, Jimba decided that he might as well bring up the topic he had come here to learn about, "Something just came to mind, friend. Have you been able to locate the two missing Deikun children?"
Degwin shook his head sadly, "No sadly, but I think that is for the best. After all, there are some conspirators in our ranks who wish to still cause them harm despite my orders to the contrary. Those poor children must be going through a lot."
"Yes, I can imagine..." Degwin's voice trailed off, his eyes having caught something on the outside of the room's window. A blonde girl with a cheap masquerade mask climbing up a tree, while a boy with indigo colored hair helped her up it from one of the large branches. The clothes she was wearing though were unmistakable to him though, "Wait a minute, what is she, how-?"
Beside Jimba, Degwin too had noticed the two kids outside and quickly ran to the window to toss it open, "Garma, get down from there! You could hurt yourself!" Degwin knew his son was a talented gymnast, but he would never forgive himself if any harm were to happen to him.
Garma looked down from the branch and noticed where his father's voice came from, readily complying with his wishes, "Okay father!"
Now Jimba was the one to call out, fully realizing who the young girl was, "And you too young lady! Come in here this instant."
Right after sitting on the branch Garma was now hanging off of on his way down, the girl sighed and complied as well, "Yes sir..."
Jimba groaned and shook his head in an exasperated manner, "Excuse me Degwin, I have to speak to this one. She is one of the two orphans, and she was supposed to be at our home right now. I have no idea what she is doing here, but I intend to find out."
Degwin chuckled, "Of course, take your time. I think I'll have a chat with Garma while you have yours. He keeps forgetting he is not part monkey."
On my way inside the building with Garma, I run right into Mr. Ral. I had been hoping to have more time to mentally prepare myself and think about what to say, but it appears I don't have that luxury as here he was at the front doors. Garma wordlessly goes inside, shooting me a sympathetic look as he leaves me behind to go see his father.
Jimba is silent. I can tell he is trying to read my face, but the partial mask I am wearing makes his attempt harder. Inside I felt nervous as well as extremely guilty, for I knew I wasn't supposed to be here and as a result I avert my eyes to the floor. Jimba had explained a half dozen times before he left that under no circumstances should I come here and risk...well...
His sudden hushed but strong voice startles me a little, "What were you thinking in coming here? You could have gotten caught or, worse yet, been shot on sight by a guard who thought you to be an assassin or thief!" He lets out a breath exasperatedly and rubs his temples, continuing in a more calm tone, "And even if you were just taken in by them, the moment they learn of who you are you could be harmed, not to mention Sayla. What could have possessed you to do something this reckless?"
I do my best not to mumble and speak clearly, even if I still can't look him in the eye, "I wanted to see how the Zabis lived. How I would be living..." as I speak my fist is clenched, anger making its way into my tone. Just mentioning the name of them angered me beyond rational thought...that fact would account for this situation, actually.
Something I said or something Mr. Ral could read on my masked face caused him to soften, for he kneels down partially so that he is able to wrap his arms around me. Once he had embraced me he speaks kindly, "I promised your mother before she passed that I would take care of you, so please, just be careful, okay?"
I wrap my own arms around him in return and finally look him in the eye, if only just a bit, "I promise, Jimba."
He smiles at me brightly, "Good. Now, I see you've met the youngest of the Zabi. Were you two having fun?"
Shrugging nonchalantly, I look away again and speak in a bored tone, "Kind of. I just wanted to look around and he wanted to make it more fun by going up that tree and looking around from there," to myself, I think snarkily, 'Hah, like I could have fun with one of the Zabis...that's just ridiculous.'
Completely missing my disliking of Garma because of his family, dear Mr. Ral chuckles and nods towards the direction Garma had gone off in, "Well I don't see why you can't go play more, but behave yourself and don't give away your secret, okay?"
"Of course, "
Now I had to play with the royal brat.
"Did you get in a lot of trouble?"
The bluntness of this boy was very uncomfortable. Had he no social experience? It really put me off, but at the same time...he was just so innocent.
I sigh and submit to the boy's stupid question, "He was just chewing me out about being here. Let's go do something," mentally, I add, 'Of course I got in trouble you moron!'
He takes a bit of his indigo hair in his hand and twists it, his face having nervous written all over it, "Sure, um, but I showed you most of the grounds, what do you want to do now?"
An idea comes to mind now that I have scouted out the Zabi household and grounds, an idea I am sure Mr. Ral wouldn't be all that supportive of, "How about we go explore what's not on the grounds?"
I see his eyes widen for a moment, his hand still playing with and twirling a small portion of his hair as he responds hesitantly, "We-well...I know how to sneak out, b-but I'm not sure that's the best idea..."
"Oh come on, it'll be interesting," I chide him shamelessly.
Needing to please, poor Garma falls right into my desires with a downtrodden, "O-okay."
Elsewhere in the household, Dozle Zabi was conversing with the young soldier Ramba Ral, Jimba Ral's son. The two had met before and found they had kindred spirits, both being people who were suited for military life and who strived to live such a life despite their extremely privileged upbringings. They were apart from the others in the room, Ramba's mother and the waiting staff, for Ramba wanted to catch up with his younger friend, "So Dozle, how goes it at the academy? Hope they aren't taking it easy on you."
Dozle chuckled, "Of course not. They don't care who you are when you come there, they just care what you do while you're there," a fact came to Dozle's mind and he rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "Say, you went to the academy too and graduated a few years ago, didn't you Ramba?"
The shorter and more stout man nodded his head affirmatively, "You would be correct. I graduated second of my class right behind my subordinate Crowley Hamon, who was the valedictorian."
"I think I've heard of her. Smart woman from what people say."
Ramba was the one to chuckle now, "You can definitely say that. If I am the brawns, she definitely is the brains."
Dozle furrowed his brow, "Don't sell yourself short, Ramba. Your record would show that you are quite the intelligent military officer yourself."
Ramba was about to reply to his tall and younger friend when something outside caught his eye on the outside of a nearby window, "Hold on a second," he inspected what he saw more and found that he hadn't seen wrong. On the outside of the window a blonde girl was wearing a masquerade mask, a blonde girl who besides the mask was the spitting image of his adopted sister. Ramba could tell though, the girl washis sister, and her being there stunned him, "What's she doing here?"
Dozle's brow did not unfurrow, "What is it, Ramba?"
The soldier quickly shook his shock off and turned back to his friend, intent on diverting whatever attention he could from his sister who was not supposed to be there, "Nothing, nothing at all. So, how's your family doing?"
Now the eldest Zabi child was able to go from being concerned back to being happy, "They are doing well, for the most part. Father is tired but braving the less savory parts of being leader, Kycilia is focusing strongly on her studies and is helping me keep Garma in line. She is the cold yet loving parental substitute to my warm and loving parental substitute, so hopefully it nets out well. Gihren...well, Gihren is in his own world. He is trying to get into politics and already has managed to get some of father's men under his control it seems," glancing around briefly, Dozle then spoke in a hushed tone, "Between you and I, I think he is the one directing the efforts to defraud Zeon Deikun's supporters and the one behind the attempts on the Deikun children's lives. He wants our family to have complete control of our nation, and I fear he is going as far as he can in that regard."
Now it was Ramba's turn to furrow his brow, "Gihren? But he's just about my age, how could he pull something like that off?"
Dozle sighed deeply, "I wouldn't say it unless it was possible. Gihren's ambition knows no bounds and he has the brain to match it. I suggest staying on his good side if you should ever meet with him."
Ramba frowned at the thought of a person doing such terrible things, but he had seen things just as bad in the past and could not discount that possibility, "I'll keep that in mind," not wishing to linger on such a topic, Ral proposed another one, "Now, onto a lighter subject. How is Garma? I thought for sure that that fun rascal was going to be with you."
Dozle blinked, now noticing that his brother was missing and also noticing that he hadn't noticed earlier, "You know, now that I think about it, I don't know where he is."
Having convinced him to bring me somewhere fun nearby his house, I follow Garma across the garden, passing by a few groundskeepers on the way who all either ignored us or merely rose an eyebrow at their boss's son leading a girl in a mask around. Garma's leading of me brings us to the large wall that sectioned the Zabi household and grounds from the rest of the colony. Or, more specifically, a place on the wall where it had some structural deficiencies that would allow an agile and dedicated enough person to climb over it...he must have spent a lot of time and effort finding this spot. A part of me was curious why, while the rest of me hated that I was curious about him.
Garma looks at the wall instead of me, hand touching his hair again, as he asks sheepishly, "So, want me to go first?"
I nod to him, but say nothing. In my mind, however, I am a little less restrained, 'Of course, spoiled brat. How am I supposed to do this without seeing how it's done?'
He nods back before quickly getting to work. I watch as the boy places his foot in one hole and grabs a slight deformity at a higher point with a hand. Using these small impurities on the wall, Garma manages to climb all ten feet of the wall and reach the top. My eyes watch every movement as he does them and I plan my own ascent.
From the top of the wall, Garma calls down to me, "Be careful, and just do what I did, okay?"
I scoff, insulted by his concern, "Don't worry about me. Be careful not to fall from all the way up there, okay? Think you can handle that?"
He looks at me, completely confused by my condescension, but I ignore him and begin to follow in his footsteps up the wall. Surprisingly it isn't that hard for me and it only takes me a moment to meet him at the top. Now that we were both high up, I take a look down and see that this next part will be easier. This other side of the wall is made of brick with large spaces between each. It was as if it was a direct entrance to the Zabi household...good thing for them they are adored by the public as the leaders of all Spacenoids, those who will bring about a new day for the colonists...
"Hey, you okay?"
I turn to him and give a smug grin, "Of course. Now let's get over this wall before our parents look for us, okay?"
It only takes us a few seconds to climb down this second side, no tutorial needed for me this time around. Once we get down I take a look around and raise an eyebrow. This was a normal looking street, nothing special or great about it, except maybe the wall. I didn't expect a high society person such as Garma to be the kind who would visit this sort of place. Maybe there was more to him than I first thought...
I shake my head lightly, pushing the positive thoughts out so that I can condescend again, "So, is this where you hang out?"
"Not exactly..." he trails off, his eyes averted to the ground.
Now that sparked my interest beyond repression, "Huh?"
In the background I can hear the murmur of people and of cars going by, everyday things that I am sure other people were accustomed to. Instead, me having lived a sheltered life, they nearly overshadowed the voice of my male companion, "Never mind, it's nothing...nothing at all..."
I would question him again, but the a voice from someone nearby cuts me off before I can do so, "Hey, the pretty boy is back!"
I turn to face the person who said that remark, which I can only assume was directed at Garma, and found that the child looked about our age and was among a group of four other kids. Garma noticeably cringes and I can already tell this is not about to be a pleasant encounter. The group of kids approaches us as another one pipes up, "Whatcha doing here, rich kid? Thought we told you to scram."
Garma continues to cringe, even going as far as to take a step back, "I-I just was-"
The group of kids having gotten close to us, one kid jabs a finger at Garma's chest forcefully, "Stop yer stammering and get out of our neighborhood, you hear?"
I bite my lip and clench a fist as I begin to put two and two together, 'So this is why he was nervous. And as nice as it would be to see him reduced to pulp by them, I would rather not have his blood on my hands where there are witnesses,' after a second, I add mentally, 'That is absolutely the only reason I am about to do this.'
I take a step forward and put an arm between the kid and Garma, speaking in a low voice, "I suggest you lay off him, street rat."
The kid does not react kindly, clenching his own fist and holding it up to my face for me to see, "What did you call me, you rich bit-?!"
His insult is not finished. His own fist being grabbed and forced back into his mouth may have something to do with that, followed by a punch to his gut. As he recoiled from this I twist around and send my foot flying into his stomach in the same spot I had punched, knocking him off of his feet and onto the ground.
With one kid down, two more decide to enter the fray, but my reaction time is likely about three times theirs so they won't do any better. I catch one fist and use it, smashing it into the face of the other attacking kid. Still holding the fist, I slam my knee into this kid's gut and follow it up with a punch to the other one's throat. Grabbing them both by the backs of their necks, I smash their heads together brutally and toss them to the ground.
Letting out a breath, I look at the other two kids (who are frozen in what I presume to be fear) through my masquerade mask with utter contempt, "Now, if anyone else wishes to spend the rest of their lives with a disfigured nose, be my guest."
The two remaining ones scamper off wildly, having just seen their friends be taken down by a girl in seconds without even hitting me. The three on the ground are all crying and whining about their injuries, but I ignore them to face Garma who I now realize is gaping. He must be surprised that I stood up for him andkicked these idiots around.
I couldn't help but feel guilty yet again, albeit for a different reason. These kids bullied Garma and I made him come back to where they were, despite knowing on some level he didn't want to do this. And given how he acts, I wouldn't surprised if pretty boy here had similar experiences with other kids...no wonder he latched onto me so quickly. I spoke down to him, but I didn't outright insult him...I gave him the time of day. His florid lifestyle shone through him like a bright star through a window, but he appeared to be spoiled sweet.
I take his hand and pull him towards the wall, "Come on Garma, let's go back. I can see now why you didn't want to come," he silently follows me to it, a myriad of things likely going through his mind at the moment. As we reach the wall again I glance at the kids I beat up and find that two have found it in themselves to stand up now, albeit a very wobbly version of standing. I glare daggers at the two and speak threateningly to them, "I'll break more the next time I see you if you are still being petty bullies."
The two kids nod and run off on their own now, leaving just one last one there (who I believe is unconscious). I look at Garma, unable to hide the concern I felt despite my wishes to the contrary, "If you get bullied here by the other kids, why didn't you just tell me so you wouldn't have to go through that mess?" Due to my attempt of not being sappy, it comes out kind of rough and snippy, but I can tell that is ignored by this naive boy.
Garma shrugs as I had been earlier, "I didn't want to disappoint you."
I punch him lightly on the shoulder, something that catches him off guard, and sigh afterwards, "Well then you're an idiot. Speak up for yourself, be assertive. It'll do you some good in the long run."
The smile I get back is quite possibly the nicest one I have ever seen, possibly on par with my dear sister's.
Later in the afternoon the Ral family departed, their adopted daughter in tow, and left the Zabis to their business. Jimba and Ramba both had gained some insight on the threat hanging over the heads of the two Deikun children and wished to discuss it at their private estate, and coupled with the unexpected stowaway of one of the two orphans they decided it best to leave with haste.
Left behind was a content Garma, who felt that even if she hadn't been necessarily kind, the girl with the mask had surely treated him better than he was used to with other kids. In fact, he hoped to reach out to her in the future and knew just the way.
Degwin Zabi watched the Ral limousine leave alongside his youngest son, smiling as he looked towards the retreating vehicle, "Looks like you've made a friend, Garma. Hopefully they'll bring her along on another visit in the future. It would be great for you two to get along. I got this feeling that the girl is special somehow, and I could think of no better a friend than one from the Ral family. They are good and loyal people."
Garma sheepishly looked towards the ground as he recalled earlier events, "I would like to see her again. When she and I went over the fence to check out the other side, she protected me from a group of bullies, even though she barely knew me."
This incident surprised Degwin a little, but not much. Garma had been having trouble making friends for as long as he could remember, and the only reason other kids seemed to talk with him at was because of his nobility now. Degwin didn't want his son to be surrounded by sycophants and so he didn't let Garma near many kids nowadays, something he felt bad about but felt necessary for his son's development. Better he grow up with fewer and truer friends than many phony ones.
Degwin placed a hand on his son's shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile, "Garma, it does seem like you are on the way to having a great friend. And you should remember that one good friend is worth more than a hundred fake ones," he noticed the nervous look leave Garma's face and saw a familiar smile replace it, a smile that always warmed Degwin's heart, "I'm glad to see you smiling like that. When you are, you remind me so much of our mother."
Garma lent his head onto his father's shoulder, asking with a slight trace of sadness, "What was she like, father?"
Degwin let out a sigh as his beloved wife's memories flooded him. He missed her beyond so greatly, but his dear Garma let him continue on after her death. Wrapping his arm all the way around his young son, Degwin spoke to Garma warmly as he reminisced about his wife, "She was kind and gentle, much like yourself my son. She would be proud of you, Garma."
"Do you ever miss her?" Garma asks, always curious about the mother he never got to meet. He was told she died giving birth to him and he was never quite sure how he felt about that. He felt sad, but he didn't know whether to feel guilty or not. Furthermore, he held a worry that his father and siblings resented him for her death.
Garma's father sighed and spoke softly, "Yes, I do every day. I think having her around could have done us all some good."
"I love you, father."
"I love you too, Garma."
Universal Century Date: October 12th, 0069
In the Ral household the two adopted children had decided from day one that they would do their best not to be a burden on the kind and generous family who took them in. The elder sister helped their adoptive mother cook as well as assist their adoptive father in his work in whatever ways she could, while the younger one had taken to cleaning around their house as well as some of the more menial things to do, such as retrieving the mail.
The girl once known as Artecia Deikun and currently known as Sayla Mass was doing just that particular task when she came across an interesting looking envelope. It not only was a different color than usual, having a maroon hue, but it also had the official Zeon seal on it which conveyed an importance of sorts. Upon further inspection, Sayla could see that it was addressed to her sister, and as such decided to run into the house to tell her about it.
My dear sister Artecia is such a nice and caring girl, but she...can be a little loud. Yelling across the otherwise serene household was the spoken of sister, "Hey sister, there letter is for you! It looks really important!"
I can hear her rapid footsteps and given how her voice seemed to get louder as it continued, so I can assume she was bringing the spoken of mail to me. I wait for a moment, letting her get closer to me before responding without yelling, "Huh, I wasn't expecting any mail."
Now having reached my room, Artecia runs in hastily and extends the letter to me, "Here you go," I take it curiously, inspecting the odd looking letter as she watches. Noticing my curious look, Artecia adds, "See? I told you it looks important."
I shrug and open the letter gently, not ripping it as my sister usually does with the ones she opens. I want to show her how it should be done. I withdraw the actual letter from its package and glance at the contents.
The contents are a slight bit surprising to me admittedly. The letter's conspicuous nature fit the actual letter, for it is addressed from Prince Garma Zabi himself. And what it is about?
"Well, looks like I'm being invited to a royal playdate," I state in a bewildered tone. Had I really left that good of an impression on the kid?
Artecia forms a small o with her mouth, her interest having soared through the roof, "Really? Let me see," I lazily hand my easily excited sister the letter and she reads through it, a smile growing on her face as she does, "This Zabi kid really seems to like you!"
I scoff, feeling a little embarrassed and not wanting to admit it, "He doesn't have any friends, of course he likes the one person who isn't a part of his family who is willing to tolerate him," Artecia glances at me with an eyebrow raised, not understanding my cynicism. Despite not wanting to infer that I like this kid whatsoever, I feel that if I don't explain Garma's friendly letter my sister might get the wrong idea, "I might have also beat up some kids who were bullying him. He must be just showing his thanks for that."
Despite my effort to the contrary, I think that my attempt at setting the record straight didn't help my case any for Sayla giggled after I spoke, "Friends in high places are good to have, right?"
I decide that if I don't nip this in the bud now I may never hear the end of it, so I pull out the big guns to end this decisively, "The Zabis were the ones who killed father and had mother sent to prison where she died too, so I would not call this friendship. I can't forgive them."
"But Jimba told us that no-one knows why father died, even if he also said it was possible Sovereign Zabi-" Artecia begins to reason, but I don't let her finish.
"But who replaced father as leader of the colony, as leader of the Spacenoids? By claiming that our father named him the new leader while on his very deathbed, in a way that no-one else could contradict him? Degwin Zabi," I turn away from Artecia and scowl, "Not to mention that we have to live in these false names and identities just to stay alive. Why do you think that is? Who do you think is behind that?"
Artecia's shoulders slump sadly, "The people who took our mother away were prosecuted by Sovereign Zabi though, he punished them for acting on their own."
"To cover his own tracks, maybe. I don't buy it for a minute, and if you knew what was good for you you wouldn't buy it either," I reply coldly, instantly regretting it when I see the tears that appear in my beloved sister's eyes.
"Oh sister..." Artecia wipes her eyes and stands up tall, putting on a tough face, "This Garma didn't do anything bad to us, did he? Even if his father did all those bad things I don't see why you should hate him too. How about you at least send him a nice letter back, even if you don't want to go visit him?"
Feeling extremely guilty about upsetting her I give in, "Fine, but only because you want me to Artecia."
"It's Sayla now, remember?"
"Hmmph, whatever. You'll always be Artecia to me."
Universal Century Date: November 10th, 0079
Walking by his younger brother's open room was Dozle Zabi when he saw his brother sitting quietly at a desk with a fancy pen in hand. Dozle smiled and entered his brother's room, curious what he was up to. Garma was so wrapped up in whatever it was he was writing that he didn't sense Dozle's approach. Upon drawing near Garma, Dozle picked up on a few things: Garma had an eloquently written letter on the side of the desk, Garma was currently writing what appeared to be a letter, and his youngest sibling was blushed a faint pink as he wrote.
With these facts in mind, Dozle could not help but chuckle and reveal his presence, "I didn't know you wrote letters, Garma. Who is the lucky lady?"
Garma quickly scrambled in his seat, both putting down his pen and turning to face his brother in a hasty manner as if he had been caught doing something wrong, "Uh, who says I'm writing t-to a girl?"
His brother's flustered reaction only made Dozle more amused, "The fact that you are blushing as you try to come up with something to write is proof enough to me. Let me guess, it's that girl who dropped by here with the Rals, isn't it?"
Garma turned his head away, looking shyly at the ground, "Maybe."
Dozle rested a hand down on Garma's shoulder tenderly, "Oh come on brother, I have been through this stage as well. Zenna loves it when I write her letters, even though a video conference is more easy. There's something romantic about them, isn't there?" the pink traces on Garma's face turned bright red, and in turn Dozle had to stifle more laughter before speaking in a caring tone, "Oh look, you're getting embarrassed. Don't worry Garma, your secret is safe with me."
The youngest Zabi sighed, "Well, we're just pen pals, since she says she can't visit often...she lives on Earth after all, and not here on the colony..." the smug grin that grew on Dozle's face made Garma grow bright red again, "We're really just friends! Honest!"
Dozle squeezed Garma's shoulder, "Well one has to start somewhere, am I right?" as expected, Garma's face continued to shine red, "Oh Garma, you should see the look on your face. It's priceless!" After Dozle finished laughing this time a thought struck him and he rubbed his chin, "Hmmm, I wonder how she managed to capture your affections though. I didn't even realize you were interested in girls yet."
Garma let out an exasperated sigh, "I like her as a friend because she protected me from some bullies...she's rough, but it's fun talking to her through letters. I like having a friend for once."
To this, Dozle simply nodded. He was really happy for Garma to have someone to talk to that was his own age for once. With this in mind, Dozle decided to make an offer, "Well, if you ever need a hand with writing one of these letters feel free to ask me. I would love to help out."
"You're the best, big brother," Garma replied with a smile.
With a snap of his fingers, Dozle chuckled again, "Hey, I just thought of something else. If you finish that letter soon, you can give it to Ramba Ral. He's here to talk with father on some matter or another, but I'm sure he would bring it to your friend."
Garma nodded and picked up his pen again, "Sounds like a plan, Dozle. Now, may I get back to writing?"
"Sure, I'll go make sure he doesn't leave just yet."
"No problem at all, Garma."
Garma had worked hard on finishing his letter as quickly as possible while not sacrificing its quality before running off to where his family's guests were usually entertained. On his way he had a stroke of luck, for none other than Ramba Ral was going down the same hallway as he was. Next to Ral was a blonde woman of about the same age, with whom he was speaking with about some topic that was beyond Garma.
Not wishing to disturb the conversation, Garma slowly approached the two to remain undetected as they all were walking in the same direction. Ramba was currently speaking and laughing, his female companion having just spoken about something he found ridiculous, "Oh, Hamon, you're quite the kidder. There's no way that those mobile-suit-whatevers are ever going to get past their prototypes, and that's if they even ever get to that point. They're just someone's fantasy."
The woman, named Crowley Hamon, replied in a matter-of-fact manner, "But Ramba, from what I've heard they would have increased maneuverability in space combat. And with Minovsky particles affecting normal systems, their way of functioning would allow our colonies to fight back the Federation decisively and control ourselves."
Ramba laughed heartily again, understanding that Hamon knew a lot more on the subject than he and having faith that she was right, "Well, that might be so, but I'd hate to be the poor sap who pilots one of them. It's a task enough to control your own four limbs and head, but something else's? No thanks."
Hamon smiled at him, "Oh I'm sure you would be a fine pilot. You are quite good at piloting other vehicles, even back at the academy."
"Maybe, but only time will tell," Ramba replied, rubbing the back of his head in a nervous manner.
Seeing a chance to interject and deliver his letter, Garma spoke up, "Excuse me? Mister Ral?"
Ramba turned around towards the voice and found that he had to look down at the indigo haired boy. Having met Garma briefly before, Ramba recognized him and smiled at the child, "Why hello there. You must be the Garma I'm hearing so much about from my sister."
Garma nodded and smiled back, holding his letter out towards Ral, "Can you bring her this letter? I thought it would be faster than mailing it."
The military man nodded and took the letter from his prince's hands, "Of course my boy, I'll bring it to her today. I'm glad to see she's beginning to make friends."
"Thank you sir!" Garma thanked before scampering back off to his room, leaving the two military officers behind.
"Seems like a good kid, wouldn't you say Lady Hamon?"
"Indeed, Ramba Ral."
A/N: Okay, this probably requires a bit of explanation. I was challenged by my creative writing teacher to change something basic about a single character in a story and see how that changes the rest of the story. She brought up the challenge of changing the gender of a character, and I mentally accepted it. From there, I thought about where a character's gender changing may affect a story drastically and I came up with Char from Mobile Suit Gundam Universal Century. Char is an interesting case I believe because of three things: one, his sister Artecia Deikun, better known as Sayla Mass, and his relationship with her and how it would change if his gender did. Two, his military career and how it would be different if he was a woman. And finally, three, his relationship with Garma Zabi. I am not a fan of shipping any two male characters who are friends like some other people are, but the way other non-yaoi fans have pointed out there is traces of UST between the two has made me think that them being best friends would be...different if Char was in fact a woman.
My thought process is this on this whole matter: instead of being Sayla's brother, having Char as a girl would mean a different dynamic between the two. Char, being interested in revenge and being willing to join the military academy one day to grow even closer to the Zabis, is the tomboy of the two while Sayla is the more girl-ish (not that she doesn't display tomboy tendencies later in life). Coupled with the way gender is perceived by most, Char's tomboy personality would feel a need to prove its toughness to her male dominated society and as such grow in scale, with her ending up even more tough and cynical. Finally couple this with meeting Garma, who is not the most manly of men, while he is young which establishes a masculine girl and feminine boy bond between the two rather than the regular friendly bond that grew in canon between two guys. There is a lot more than just what I listed here, but that's the jist of it.
And because of the above reasoning, we have this. As this story progresses into the later parts the difference between female Char and male Char are going to be more apparent, for it has little influence when they are young (which is what this part is). I just needed to do this part as a set up of sorts. This is obviously AU, but I intend to keep as canon as I can. Luckily so many things in the Universal Century canon are unknown and left vague. Heck, this story even partially revolves around one such vague topic: How did Zeon Deikun die and why? It is said by some to be by extreme exhaustion, something that would have happened due to the enervating position of leader he had. Other sources claim Degwin Zabi had something to do with it, while others say that it was really Gihren Zabi. The theories of exhaustion and Gihren Zabi having a part to play seem the most well supported, given how Gihren had people hunt down the remaining Deikuns secretly while his father merely took the place of Zeon Deikun coupled with Zeon's own wife stating that her husband likely died of exhaustion. So many questions, so little answers...so, here is the tale of femChar and her life in the tumultuous time known as Universal Century.
I hope you enjoyed this and will enjoy the future installments, and I hope you all know that there is more to come if people are interested enough to leave feedback and comments here. If you could please leave something below to tell your feelings about this story it will definitely help me work on the next part.