Preparations for the invasion of Doma, and Kefka's take on war and peace. (Newfic, pre-game)
He was more interested in war, in the fires of conquest. Peace wasn't beautiful or wonderful or pure, and he was obviously the only one who understood that. Peace was the ashes of war, the burned-out plains that were left behind after the armies were too worn out to fight. Declaring peace was an act of weakness and exhaustion, not of mercy.
That was why he would never be able to believe the accepted version of the old myth, that the Goddesses had turned themselves to stone and sealed their powers in a moment of clarity. That would make their actions merciful, and he did not believe in mercy. No, there had been some other reason. Perhaps the battle had grown dull to them and they had needed to rest until the novelty had returned. Or maybe they'd just wanted to throw a wrench into everyone's warmongering ways, out of spite and anger. Who could say?
Who could ever say besides him? Because he would find his Goddesses someday, and when he found them they would not hide their secrets from him. He had been searching for them for the whole of his life - why should they hide from their disciple? It was because of them that he had gained such power...
Fire was his gift, the gift to destroy, although poison was also a delightful toy. Destruction and death. What could be better for the man who would resurrect the War of the Magi, and take a seat on the throne of non-existence?
The door opened. He jumped, baring his teeth in a snarl - it tended to scare off the more weak-natured of his guards. Unfortunately, the man who walked in was not weak-natured in the slightest, a fact which made him extremely irritating. He dropped the snarl and flashed his guest a false smile. "Leo," he said in his most sickly-saccharine tone, "what a pleasant surprise. To what do I owe this visit?"
Leo's stern face didn't change a bit; it never did. That was another particularly obnoxious feature about the man. He'd be very happy when the Emperor finally decided the old fool had finally outlived his usefulness. "I assume you've seen the plans for the invasion of Doma Castle."
"Of course, Leo," Kefka said, abandoning any efforts at politeness. "The Emperor requested my help in drafting them." Leo's eyes widened, only a touch, but Kefka saw it and exulted.
But he recovered quickly, too quickly as usual. "Then you know that I am in command of the invasion."
"/What!?/" Kefka jumped up and walked in front of Leo, staring him full in the face. "This is ridiculous!"
"I have Emperor Gestahl's orders here, if you wish to see them-"
Kefka snatched the scroll right out of Leo's hand and scanned over it. He was sure that there was a mistake, there had to be... "What... what is this? That old fool's senile! He can't be-"
"That 'old fool' is the Emperor, and I won't stand and tolerate your slander," Leo said coldly. "The orders are clear."
I could burn him, Kefka thought, still glaring at him. I could burn him to ashes, and Gestahl, and the entire city, and... burn them... burn them all...
But he needed the Empire. He couldn't burn them yet. When he'd found the Goddesses he'd see to it the entire city was reduced to rubble, but until then he had to be patient. Patient.
Damn patience! Damn it to the depths of...
Leo and Kefka both turned to see a rather frightened soldier standing in the doorway, looking more than a little pale. Kefka hadn't even noticed him, he'd been so angry. "What is it?" he said, crossly. "Speak up!"
"Um... well... Emperor Gestahl... he's..." But the young man was quickly reduced to utter incoherency by the fire in his general's eyes, and had to turn away.
It didn't matter. Kefka had gotten the gist of it. "Well, General/, it seems that our senile old /Emperor has summoned me. Do try to stay out of trouble until then, hmm?" And he turned and stalked out of his chambers, ignoring the soldier's stuttering offer to show him the way. He knew very well where the old man would be, the same place as always.
Kefka stormed past a dozen people in the halls of the imperial castle, and not a single one of them were bold enough to interrupt his passing. His green and red robes billowed out behind him as he walked, as quickly as he could manage - he was thin and sickly from poisonous infusions and his own frail health, but the power that they had granted him made him more formidable than most gave him credit for.
It wasn't long before he reached the Emperor's personal training room. He did not knock, as was customary when one spoke with the Emperor; he barged straight into the room, startling Gesthal out of an incantation.
"General Kefka!" the old man shouted, his voice still deep and powerful despite his advanced age. "Have you taken leave of your senses?"
"Taken leave of my senses? My senses?" Kefka glared at the Emperor. Foolish old man... foolish, senile old man... you are no better than those cowards outside, or that cringing Leo, so afraid of power that he even refused an infusion...
"You are lucky," the old man said, "that your life is so important to the Imperial cause. Otherwise I might be tempted to end it."
Kefka laughed long and hard at that. His laugh was deliberately frightening, loud and harsh. Even the Emperor cringed at the sound of it. "Important, you say? So important that you give Leo the command of the invasion of Doma, after our little discussion?"
"Ah," Gestahl said, and sighed deeply. "So he's already told you."
"He came to my chambers to lord your Majesty's decision over me, as if it mattered. I'll carry out my plan if I have to do it over Leo's dead-"
"Silence!" the Emperor snapped, looking around. "Have you forgotten already? If our plan should somehow reach Doma before the attack, we'll lose this opportunity!"
Kefka glared at him. He still wanted to burn him, wanted to kill him so much...
"Kefka, I gave Leo command of the invasion so that no one would realize our plans. You know his reputation as well as I do. No one would ever suspect him of what we intend to do." He stood up, reached into a pocket of his royal robes and pulled out a piece of paper. "I assume you had no chance to read the orders he showed you."
"I read enough," Kefka snarled.
"No, you didn't. I'm disappointed in you, Kefka. Jumping to conclusions is unbecoming of a General of my Empire." He unrolled part of the scroll. "Should Leo be called away for any reason, you are to assume full command of the invasion effort!"
Kefka blinked, then smiled wickedly as the words sunk in. "Really, now."
"Of course. You think I'd sabotage the plans we made? The world needs an example of our power, and you are the best living example we have."
"I see." Kefka laughed again to himself. "I suppose I owe you an apology, then."
"Forget it," Gestahl sighed. "Just get out of here and I'll forgive your rudeness."
"Very well." Kefka made a mocking little bow and turned away, grinning to himself.
Leo met him just outside of his chambers, with more of his stern righteous rage in his eyes. But Kefka spoke before the older man got the chance. "All right, Leo," he said quickly. "You're in command of the invasion. You don't need to lord it over me any more."
"What?" He'd caught Leo well and truly off guard that time.
"You heard me. You're in command. I'm just the backup, that's all." He brushed past the man and walked into his room. "Now get away from here. I have to prepare myself. Doma's a long way from here, you know..."
But Kefka slammed the door. He stood there, back to the door, until he heard Leo's boots stomping down the corridor. Then he took a deep breath and laughed, as long and as loud as he could. "Oh, Leo," he choked out between fits of laughter. "Leo, you stupid little dupe! You stupid, honorable fool...!"
The joke never grew less amusing. He could see the piles of dead bodies now, Imperial soldiers dragging them into massive pyres. The smell of burning flesh was hot and delicious and wonderful in his nostrils, so many bodies being consumed by the fire, so much heat and smoke...
Yes, this was what he wanted. This was just the sort of war he loved so dearly, the endless orgy of death and destruction.
Surely his dear Goddesses would want it this way.
A/N: Originally this was a temps_mort (livejournal) improv. Lots of fun. I kind of like how this one turned out - besides, it's nostalgic to actually have FFVI ideas again.