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We possess no age. We were built this way. In time, we will receive souls. Then our bodies will begin to grow.
According to the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, Garland began creating Genomes roughly 3000 years ago to act as vessels for the Terran souls so that Terra's civilization could one day be revived. Terra was an ancient planet whose civilization attempted to save itself by fusing it with a younger planet.
The Fusion between Terra and Gaia was a failure. The Terran people gave up their physical bodies and laid themselves to rest, placing the burden of salvation on Garland. Garland created the artificial race of Genomes, to inherit the souls of Terra once the Fusion was complete.
Genomes exist in both male and female even if they don't procreate, and are instead produced. The race still has sexual dimorphism to retain genetic variety. Due to the nature of their creation, the majority of the Genome population lack a soul, and have little to no emotional response; Genomes are but empty husks awaiting the attainment of a soul. A Genome does not usually begin their life as a baby, but are created as they are. The Genomes of Terra mention that their existence is incomplete until they receive a soul. As such, the collective Genome existence is dedicated to the preparation of attaining a soul, mentally and physically.
The Genomes seem to know a great deal of the soul cycle and the world in which they live. Although this knowledge is useless to a vessel who will soon forget what they have learned upon receiving a soul, information is circulated among the population to prevent mental decay.
The Genomes of Terra harbor production facilities in which they create more of their race. They aim to create a more suitable vessel for a soul to reside in. This could also be interpreted as somewhat recreational due to their seemingly meaningless existence.
Garland created Kuja and Zidane Tribal with hopes of restoring the whole of Terra's population by sending them as his "Angel of Death" to Gaia to incite war to expedite the rate Gaian souls would attempt to return to their crystal. He deemed Kuja an inferior Genome after observing flaws and weaknesses that Zidane lacked, and placed his hopes into him instead, as he saw Zidane as "The Perfect Genome".
As revealed in Final Fantasy IX Ultimania Zidane started his life as a baby, as through the process of growing up he would develop capacity for complex emotions. Kuja wanted to rid himself of competition, and later deposited the 4-year-old Zidane to Gaia, abandoning him there. Garland banned Kuja from traveling between Terra and Gaia as punishment, but still believed Zidane would return to Terra to serve him one day. Zidane, meanwhile, was raised by Baku to be a thief in the Tantalus Theater Troupe.
Garland later created Mikoto, the third Genome to be instilled with a soul directly by him. She was to assist Garland in creating a superior genus of Genomes and to take Zidane's place were he to fail.
Zidane does not learn of his identity as a Genome until he and the party travels through the Shimmering Island to Terra. Mikoto leads the otherworlders to Bran Bal, the village of Genomes. Zidane and his companions are shocked to discover that the Genomes look exactly like him.
The Genomes, save Mikoto, are unresponsive, and Zidane asks her about their true nature. Mikoto's explanations send Zidane into a brooding state, unsure of his exact nature. Garland appears before Zidane and reveals his plan for Gaia, Terra, Genomes, and his trio of Angels of Death. When Zidane refuses to serve him, Garland attempts to remove Zidane's soul to make him a regular Genome, but fails and Zidane's friends come to his aid.
After escaping Kuja's destruction of Terra on the Invincible, the party leaves the Genome survivors with the black mages, where remain. Despite their naivety, the black mages try their best to teach the genomes the ways of Gaia.
Genomes are similar to the black mages who are made on Gaia, implied to have been produced due to Kuja's knowledge on how Genomes are made. Black mages are also created "as they are" and do not go through childhood, and Kuja treats them as expendable dolls. Vivi Ornitier is a black mage prototype who was raised by a parent, Quan, and other black mages are also shown to gain self-awareness after a time.
At the end of his life Vivi's being is implied to have joined the soul cycle, as he ends his final soliloquy with "farewell, my memories will be part of the sky", even if it is unlikely he was ever attributed a soul the same way Garland gave souls to Kuja and Zidane. As the importance of memories is emphasized in the planet's soul cycle, it may mean that one's soul is made of one's memories, knowledge and experiences. Thus, Garland fails to remove Zidane's soul (who had already lived a full life on Gaia), Vivi's memories can become part of the soul cycle, and even the Genomes left soulless yet have hope for a more meaningful existence. After Kuja passes, Mikoto laments that he has given hope to all Genomes, showing that they can have individual desires and that they need not be but empty vessels.
genome is the genetic material of an organism. It consists of DNA (or RNA in RNA viruses).In modern molecular biology and genetics, the