Bastion of Light
Kingdom Hearts fanwork: Hollow Bastion / Radiant Garden challenge by WishingDreamer5, written by Raberba girl
Summary: A collection of stories that take place in Radiant Garden (a.k.a. Hollow Bastion).
Introduction: I kinda got the "Bastion of Light" title from my friend Kiryn. ^^; If you don't mind strong language or intense issues, check out her fic Racing Yellow Lights, it's amazing!
This challenge is one of the ones I've had my eye on for a while (though, as usual, I will be breaking rules, since I am incapable of consistently sticking to word count limits :/). Although this is the first fic I've posted for this challenge, I've actually been working on A-Sign-of-Insanity's contest prize for several months now, which is a one-shot built around about half the themes for this challenge. I also have some ideas for themes that are unrelated to Sign's story, most of them in the Beyond the War universe.
This first story here is just a random AkuSai fic.
Mystery (theme 39)
Summary: Young Axel finally discovers the fate of his younger siblings.
A/N: Narrated by Axel, very shortly after becoming a Nobody. Although it starts out and ends in the Castle That Never Was, a significant portion of it takes place in Hollow Bastion.
The last few days have been so...
I mean, I know it's been days, at least two or three of them. I slept a lot. I sat and stared a lot. I don't really know what I was staring at, because this is the first time I've noticed what this place is like, this place where I've been a zombie for however long it's been. White walls, utter silence, almost nothing in the room other than me and this bed - I'm seeing it all for the first time, yet I know I've been here all along.
'Isa?' That's my first thought. My first real, coherent one, anyway. A face, a name, the knowledge that he's important for some reason and I should know what happened to him. "Isa?"
Hearing the sound of my own voice seems to finish waking me up. What am I doing lying around in bed for? I should get up and figure out what's going on.
...I don't particularly want to. And I don't particularly not want to. But I should.
I walk through doors and corridors and up and down stairs and something I think might have been an elevator until I finally come across another person. That guard with the eye patch, wearing the same kind of black coat I am. Braig. He grins at me.
"Well, good morning, sleeping beauty."
The corner of my mouth twitches a little, and I have a feeling I should laugh, but I'm not sure why and I don't really care and I don't feel like laughing, so I don't. "Where's Isa?"
"Seriously, is that the only thing you know how to say?"
Why, have I asked him about Isa already?
"Your boyfriend's in the dining room. You might wanna check on him and make sure he's getting his breakfast into his mouth. Xaldin hates seeing food go to waste."
What is he talking about? "Where's the dining room?"
He gestures, and some weird-looking white creature sort of stretches out of the ground. It stands between us, swaying from side to side like it's drunk.
"A Dusk. It'll show you the way."
I follow the Dusk thing until I get to a room with a big table in it. A couple of big guys are sitting at one end, both wearing black coats. I vaguely recognize them - I think they were palace guards, too. The one with auburn hair is just sitting there eating and ignoring everyone, but the one with black hair is frowning over at the third person in the room. Isa, in a black coat just like everyone else, sitting with a bowl of food in front of him and a spoon in one hand, but he's not moving at all. After a while, I finally notice that he's not blinking, either.
I go over and wave my hand in front of his face. He blinks. "Isa," I say. "I found you."
He stares at me for a long time before he finally says, "Lea."
"Yeah. That's my name."
We keep looking at each other for a long time, until I realize that that's not what we're supposed to be doing.
"You're in here to eat, right?"
Isa looks down at the bowl.
"That eye patch guy said to eat."
Isa puts the spoon in the bowl and scoops up some broth and puts it in his mouth. He swallows. Then he stares at the bowl some more.
Come to think of it, I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing, now that I've found Isa. I finally decide to sit down in the chair next to him. He doesn't move. I stare at him for a long time, waiting for something to happen.
The guy at the other end of the table finally says, "Eat. I didn't spend good munny on that food just to see it start uselessly congealing."
Isa puts another bite in his mouth.
"I hate new recruits," the guy mutters under his breath.
After a minute, it occurs to me that we're the new recruits, Isa and I. "Hey," I say. Both of the men look at me. "Where are we?"
"This is the Castle That Never Was," says the auburn-haired guy.
I frown until I remember their names. Xaldin and Lexaeus. That's what the others had called them when they-
I stand up again. There's something wrong. "You guys attacked us."
Neither of them answer. They're just sitting there eating, looking bored.
"Hey. You hurt us, and dragged us here - isn't that kidnapping? That's wrong. You guys are bad people. Why are we here with you?"
No one says anything, then Xaldin finally mutters, "I hate them so much" again and takes another bite.
Why is no one reacting the way they're supposed to? Why am I not reacting the way I'm supposed to? Something horrible happened to me and my best friend, right? Shouldn't I care about that? "Hey. Isa."
"What," he says dully.
"Isa. Wake up." I snap my fingers in front of his face, but all he does is blink and stare at them. "Isa, let's leave here."
He puts the spoon down and stands up obediently, like he was just waiting for someone to give him different orders.
"Isa... We should escape, right?"
"It's better to be with you than by myself," he says. His voice is completely flat, and his face has no expression.
"Hey. Isa? You're not a robot, are you?"
"I'm not a robot."
"..." I grasp his arm. He doesn't respond in any way. "Hey. Isa. Call me stupid."
"You're stupid," he says, in the exact same monotone as before. The name-calling was supposed to reassure me, but instead, it just seems even more wrong than before.
Nothing happens for a while. Then he finally says, "I can't. I forgot how."
I let go of his arm so I can put my two pointer fingers on each corner of his mouth and pull them upwards. I hold them there for a minute. Then I let go. "That's how."
Nothing happens again, except that his mouth twitches a little.
"I can't," he finally says.
"...Well, whatever. Let's get out of here."
Even though I'm kind of expecting the other two guys to say something, they don't try to stop us at all.
We wander around the castle for a while. I hit Isa a few times and call him names, because he's not acting at all like he used to before we were kidnapped, but it's like he's a doll or a robot. I hug him and tell him he's my best friend forever, but he still just stares blankly at me like a dollbot.
"Isa. Something happened to us. We both changed. That's a bad thing, right?"
"I suppose so."
"...Shouldn't we try to fix it?"
"Should we try to fix it first, or get out of this castle first?"
I guess he's got a point. One step at a time. "Let's get out of the castle."
We finally find some more people, in a gray room with couches and a huge window. It's nighttime outside, and the moon in the sky is shaped like a heart. "Look at the moon, Isa."
He tilts his head and studies it. He finally says, "The moon is either an orb or a crescent."
"But look, it's a heart. That's bad, right?"
"...Yes," he finally says. It's good to hear him confirm it, since I'm not sure about anything anymore. I wish I could feel something, something to tell me if I'm doing the right thing or am totally off, but I can't feel anything. My chest feels empty.
"Stop dawdling," some guy snaps at us. Black coat again. The kid typing on a laptop across the room is in a little black coat, too. "Come here and get your missions. Ienz- That is, Zexion will be teaching you some basics today."
I stare at him. "What?" We're supposed to be escaping, aren't we?
I don't know if it counts as escaping. Isa and I follow the kid through some black tunnel thing, and when we come out, we're in Radiant Garden, and it's daytime. That means we escaped the Castle That's Invisible or whatever, right? Except the kid's still here.
"All right," he says, in a monotone like Isa. "First of all, I want to make sure you can remember your new identification. Who are you?" He points at Isa.
"...I'm Isa," Isa says softly.
"No. That's wrong. Your name is Saïx, you are Number VII in the Organization, and your title is the Luna Diviner." He turns to me. "What about you?"
I can't remember what they told me back in that gray room, but I don't care. "My name is Lea Deucalion Hayes," I say loudly.
"Wrong again. You are Axel, Number-"
I turn and walk away. After a minute, I realize that I'm alone, so I go back and take Isa's arm and pull him along. He stumbles, then finds his gait and paces behind me like a pet dog.
"Isa, wake up," I tell him.
"I'm already awake."
"No. Wake up. Stop just doing everything I tell you to."
"Because..." I have to think awhile before I come up with the answer. "Because Isa doesn't do anything I tell him - he's the one always bossing me around. You're Isa, so you have to act like Isa, okay?"
"I don't remember what Isa was like."
I stop and look at him. "Really?" It's hard to remember things from before we were kidnapped, but they're still there, memories drifting around like islands in the ocean of my mind.
Isa's face is still so blank as he looks at me. "There's just darkness. A white room. Someone told me to eat. You told me to escape. You're more important than them, so I should be with you."
He lost more than me. My hand tightens on his arm when I finally realize it. I lost a lot, but for some reason, he lost everything.
"...Just stick with me, Isa, okay?"
"Say, 'Obviously, idiot.'"
"Obviously, idiot," he says in a monotone.
We don't get very far. A wiggly shadow with hands and feet and glowing yellow eyes comes out of the ground. Then more of them do. I don't know what to make of them until they start clawing at me, and the shock of pain leaves me breathless for a minute. It's the closest thing to feeling I've had since I got out of bed, and I actually try to kneel down so they can reach me better.
Isa stops me, pulling on my arm and dragging me back a few steps. "Get away."
"No, I want-"
"They're hurting you."
He presses his palm against one of the cuts, as if trying to push the blood back into my skin.
A huge book comes crashing down on the shadows' heads, over and over until they pop into wisps of smoke and disappear.
Zexion stands there, frowning a little. "Those were Heartless. You need to learn how to fight them."
We stare at him for a while. Isa's grip on me tightens. "...Okay," I finally say.
I get the idea that I should enjoy being able to throw around these spiked wheel things and hurling fire wherever I want, but I don't really care about it. It's just one more thing Zexion's nagging me to do. I don't even know what I do want, though. I'm back in the Garden with my best friend, but...the place looks pretty trashed...we've been in the castle the whole time, because not much outside of it has survived. I'm not even sure my house still exists anymore.
"I wanna go look for my family," I say.
Zexion looks back at me. "They're not here."
"You don't even know, because we haven't looked. I'm gonna go look."
"Either they've turned into Heartless, or they're in Traverse Town. There's nothing left for you here, Axel."
"...I used to have a little brother. And a sister. I still have a sister, but I used to have two. You know what happened to them, Zexion?"
"No. And I don't care. Neither should you."
"You're wrong. I don't care, but I should. I'm going to go look for them. Because Zeph and Bel disappeared long before-" I remember now. I remember. "We'd almost found them. We found the others who'd disappeared, I know Zeph and Bel had to be there, too. Isa even found computer files with their names, but we couldn't read them because you guys came barging in and..."
I turn and head for the nearest stairs, with Isa trailing after me. I have to go down. Down and down, until I reach that room with the computers, the computer that had files on my little brother and sister. "I have to find..."
"Lord Xemnas will not be pleased about how off-task you've been during this entire mission," Zexion says, but I ignore him. I wish Isa would talk more, but he doesn't say anything except when I ask him questions.
"Say something, Isa."
"No. Come up with something out of your own head."
"What's your favorite book, Isa?"
"I don't remember."
He's definitely messed up, there's no way the real Isa couldn't have answered a question like that.
"I'm gonna find some stuff for you to read in a minute, okay, Isa?"
"...Do you remember how to smile yet?"
He's silent for so long that I think he didn't understand the question. Then he says "No," and I realize he'd been trying to smile but failed.
"Well...it's okay, buddy. We'll work on that."
We find the room. We find the computer. It's busted, so I hit it a few times, but it doesn't help. Isa's staring at the computer as if he's actually looking at it, instead of just staring into space, so I tell him to work some magic. He fiddles with the wires for a minute, then the screen lights up.
"Good job, Isa!" I tell him.
He stares at his hands like he's not sure how he did what he just did.
I start typing in Zeph's and Bel's names. The computer keeps throwing error messages at me, and I notice that Isa's staring at it again, so I step aside to let him work. He doesn't do anything. I take his hands and put them on the keyboard, and he still doesn't do anything for a minute, but then he slowly starts typing, and eventually he finds the files again. He's still a nerd even when he's a zombie.
"Good job, Isa!"
"...Don't say that."
I look at him. So he finally has an opinion on something? "Why?"
"...The way you say it. It's like when people talk to small children. Or dogs."
My lips twitch again, and I realize that the old Lea would have smiled, so I smile. "Sorry. I meant, thanks for helping me out."
He thinks a minute, then I guess he finally remembers what to say in reply. "...You're welcome."
I start reading.
Subject FDF8-13, male, 7 years old. Unusual resistance to darkness in initial examinations, showed signs of affinity for wind, succumbed in fourth trial after failing to...
Subject FDF8-14, female, 5 years old. Predictable resistance to darkness considering relevant factors. Possible fire affinity, though this was not confirmed before subject succumbed in second trial due to...
After a while, I remember that this is my little brother and sister I'm reading about. Zeph. Bel. Tortured and killed, from the looks of it; turned into monsters like the kind we had to fight on our way down here.
"They're dead." My voice feels as empty as my heart. Isa looks at me. "Zeph and Bel are dead." I turn and look at Zexion. "You guys killed them." He gazes back at me impassively.
I feel my hands curling into fists. Why can't I feel anything? This is important, isn't it? I shouldn't just be standing here doing nothing, right? This is bad, bad. So act like it's bad. "You killed my little brother and sister." I make my voice go higher and higher as I say it until it sounds better, all wobbly like it's about to crack. As if I'm as upset as I should be. "You killed them. They're dead."
I fall on my knees, and I scream. The thing I notice most is that it puts a strain on my vocal cords, which is something I can feel. That's good, so I keep screaming. "You killed them! You killed them!"
"What in the world are you doing?" Zexion says. "There's no need to shout."
"AAAAHHHH!" I pound my fists against the metal in front of me. I can feel that even more, so I hit harder. Isa stoops down and takes my fist in his hand and looks at it, at the red marks on my skin.
"I'LL MAKE YOU ALL PAY!"
"Stop it. We need to RTC."
"RAGH!" I get to my feet, belatedly realizing that I should have jumped up faster, but whatever; I'm standing now. "I'LL KILL YOU!" I summon my weapons again.
Zexion sighs as he gets his book ready. "I do not recommend that you challenge me. I might be younger and smaller than you, but I have the advantage when it comes to skill and experience." More white creatures materialize around him, some of them Dusks but others with different shapes. I don't care.
"I'LL MAKE YOU SUFFER TEN TIMES MORE THAN THEY DID!"
He totally kicks my butt. I could have sworn I hit him at least once, maybe twice, but he doesn't look fazed at all as he freezes me and then electrocutes me and then just sits back and lets his goons beat on me. I manage to take out some of them, but there are too many.
"Isa, help me!"
That big club appears in his hand again. "...You want me to destroy the Nobodies?"
"SMASH THEM TO PIECES!"
He does. At first. Then Zexion gets his book out again and starts beating him up, too. Just when I think Isa's about to join me on the floor, his eyes start glowing and his hair starts floating a little and he lets out a roar that I wouldn't have imagined could ever come from his throat. It sends a shiver down my spine, and I watch as he decimates almost all of Zexion's little army. I even think for a minute that he can beat Zexion; he's got the kid on the run, Zex is defending and hiding and dodging, and I think that surely he can't last much longer.
Turns out he was just waiting. I guess Isa got burned out or something, because he suddenly collapses, and Zexion strolls over and slams that book on him without mercy until Isa's out cold.
I feel like I'm about to pass out, too, but I manage to get my arms braced so I can prop myself up a little. "I hate you," I tell Zexion.
He looks at me. "No, you don't."
The sad thing is, I don't. All this grief and rage has been an act. I feel nothing, and after all these weeks and months of missing my brother and sister and trying desperately to find them, or at least find out what happened to them... At last the mystery is solved, but I have even less than I did before. I have nothing. I really am nothing, nobody, an empty shell.
"Are you finished wasting my time, or is there more?" Zexion asks.
"...Nah, I'm good." I lay my head down on my arms and let myself lose consciousness.
When I wake up, I'm lying in bed in the white room again. There's not a scratch on me, I don't even have the pain left to help me figure out whether I'm still human or even alive. I wonder if it was all a dream.
I lost track of time. I've been lying here for who knows how long, just thinking about nothing. I could keep on doing that, but I know the real Lea wouldn't, so I get out of bed and go look for Isa.
He's sitting on a couch in that gray room, staring at nothing. When I come over to him, he looks up at me, and he frowns. It's the very first expression I've seen on his face since I found him in the dining room.
"Isa? We went to Radiant Garden yesterday, right? It wasn't a dream?"
"...We went to Radiant Garden yesterday."
"Good. Here, pinch me, just for good measure."
He stares at the arm I'm holding out to him, my sleeve pushed up so he can pinch properly.
"Isa. Take some skin between your fingers and squeeze it."
"Because it'll hurt. I can't hurt if I'm dreaming, or dead."
He lays his hand on my arm, but he doesn't pinch me. "You're not dreaming," he says softly, "or dead. I can tell you that."
"...We really got ourselves in a mess, huh, Isa."
"Why were you shouting back then?"
"You mean in the computer room?"
"Because I was upset, Isa. I found out some bad news. People scream and yell and flip out when they get bad news like that." They're supposed to, anyway.
"...You felt something?"
I can't lie to him, not when he's like this and can't tell. "No, Isa. Forget it. I was just pretending."
He frowns again. This time, I remember to grin without my lips having to twitch. "Good job, Isa."
I touch his forehead, where the frown lines are. "It's an improvement, at any rate. Next, let's work on your smile, okay?"
He nods as if I'm not joking, and come to think of it, I guess it never was a joke. These things that used to come so naturally to us are going to take effort and practice. "All right."
"We can do it," I say, and I smile again to show him.
"Yes." His expression changes so that it's not a frown anymore. It's not really a smile, either, but it's literally better than nothing.
Author's Notes: It's been two and a half weeks since I posted anything, so I finally hunted through my challenge theme lists for a quick plunny to draft. I said a few days ago that I'd try to post something before RepliNami Day - December 2nd is the day after tomorrow, but I did manage it in the end~
I'm thinking I might want to someday do an alternate version of this idea that takes place slightly earlier than this, because I've wanted for a long time now to write how Isa & Lea might have become Saïx & Axel.
Btw, they're still emotionless zombies in this story, but they'll regain more memories and figure out how to fake their old personalities eventually.
In my headcanon, Lea's father is dead, and his mother remarried (his stepdad is either a certain canon character or a throwaway OC, depending on which universe I'm writing); Lea's also got a younger sister, and two younger half-siblings who disappeared (turned into Heartless). I haven't figured out their age differences yet, so I might have to fix that in either this fic or others. *sweatdrop*
I've been distracted by a lot of non-writing projects, so I got a much later start on Christmas stuff than I'd intended. I have about 2,400 words written of the story about little Riku and his family, but at the rate I'm going, that might be the only thing I finish in time for Christmas. :/ Pairing Days have also been jumping on my muse again, so I don't know if I'll be able to resist temptation... I've already got a picture almost ready for VanNami Day, and story ideas for RokuKai, VanNami, and VanKai, which are all coming up in the first week of December. *sweatdrop* I've also got three other pictures in the coloring stage, including that one of Riku and his family that I kept talking about.