Disclaimer: Don't own FFXV
Warning: Drugging of characters, not mind control but control of someones body, the Empire has Ardyn and Besithia so they are mean and creepy.
Ignis calmly left the Citadel as he did every day at the same time. He got in his car and drove to a restaurant, going inside to eat as he often did, enjoying the food. He smiled at the waitress when he signed the bill, giving her a generous tip, accepting his receipt before leaving. He then drove home and went into his apartment. In the bathroom he took out the receipt and shone the special light behind it, reading his instructions. He had been expecting it from the moment he had heard of an imperial envoy approaching the King, but still his heart began to pound in anticipation. Finally, he was being activated after a lifetime of service to the Crown. He destroyed the receipt once he had memorised the information, taking a shower before going to bed.
The next morning he woke at his normal time but dressed more casually since it was his day off, though he suspected he'd be summoned at some point. He left his apartment to go for a walk, meandering through the city until he reached the correct place. He entered the code he'd been given and walked inside, green eyes widening ever so slightly behind his glasses as he took in the imposing figure waiting for him. "General," he greeted.
Glauca was shocked when the Prince's Adviser himself entered the room. He had known there was another highly placed operative within the Citadel but he had never suspected it could be a member of the Prince's Retinue. "Scientia," he returned, the tone making it a question, was that his true name?
"I assume this is to do with the envoy?" the young man asked and Glauca nodded, pointing to a waiting package.
"The offer of a peace treaty has been made, as a symbol of the peace Prince Noctis and Lady Lunafreya are to be wed. The King is sending one of the glaive to find her and take her to Altissia, the mission will fail. He plans to send the Prince to Altissia to meet her and allow the wedding to occur in more neutral territory. The Prince is to make it no further than Galdin Quay. Instructions and what you will need to handle them is in the package."
"And Argentum? He is due to take his Oath in two days, if we are sent from the city, he will be included."
"There is a file and instructions for him as well. Questions?"
"I assume we will be met there?"
"A drop ship will be waiting for your signal. The signing is set for May 16th, that is when you will need to act."
"Very well," Scientia took the package and left.
Glauca waited before dismissing his armour and leaving as well. He did not know why the Emperor wanted the Prince alive or how they had put Scientia in place, especially with his tighter Oaths to the Prince. Was that why he had been given the drug for the brat? Because it would not actually harm him and therefore not break the boys oath?
It was not hard to act surprised by the news of the treaty and wedding, glancing at Noctis to see how he was taking it. He seemed shocked and Ignis wanted to comfort him. Despite his best efforts, he had come to care for the boy over the years, even knowing he had been put in place to betray him if the order ever came, just like his Uncle before him. He didn't know what the Emperor had planned for him in taking him alive. An Imperial war trophy?
It should make no difference to him, he was a loyal son of the Empire, no matter the softness he felt for the Prince. There was always the chance that once done with Noctis, Ignis could request him. If not, he may be able to keep the others alive and safe…it was silly to think of doing so but Prompto's only 'crime' was being Noctis' only friend and choosing to remain at his side. Gladio had always been the closest threat to his work and they did clash at times but he did not wish him dead either.
He went home with Noctis to help begin packing his apartment for the move back to the Citadel with his new bride. The next day, Prompto took his Oath to Noctis, obviously very nervous but smiling shyly even as Noctis tried to remain stoic for the ceremony. With knowledge of the upcoming wedding, everything felt rushed.
He found himself studying the city over the next days, wondering if he would ever return. Would the Empire take the city and leave the inhabitants to continue their lives but under Imperial rule? That seemed the most likely outcome. If so, perhaps he would return one day, he wasn't sure he'd enjoy living in the cold of Gralea. He knew his part in what was to come, had memorised everything written before destroying it. That was why his family were so valuable, once they knew something they never forgot it. That, and their ability to lie without anyone seeing through them.
When it came time to pack for the trip, he found himself adding things he knew the others cherished but would never think to take on a short trip. Along with clothing for the wedding that would never happen, he ensured that Noctis would have photos of his family, the carbuncle figurine his Father had given him as a child, a cherished book that had belonged to his Mother and even his baby blanket, which Ignis always pretended to not see when putting clothing away in the drawers. Helping Prompto pack, he made sure the Chocobo plushie was included, as well as his cameras and some of the gifts they had given him over the years. He watched him too but he could see no sign of what he had learnt from the file…except that he always kept his right wrist covered, did he know what it meant? Or was he simply ashamed of the mark? He managed to smuggle a few things for Gladio as well, though it was harder. They may never be in a position where he could give them to them, they may all end up executed even, but at least these things would be away from any possible damage in the city. He would have more than just his memories of them if they were executed. He shouldn't be doing it, shouldn't want such mementoes, and yet he could not help himself, it was good this was happening now, he had been there too long, was becoming far too attached.
Prompto lay on the ground exhausted; just able to see where Noct had slumped to the ground using the car as back support, but the legs of a young woman coming into view as she approached the Regalia had Prompto quickly getting back up.
"Hey there, y'all kept a girl waitin'!" she looked around curiously. "Now, which one's the prince?"
Noctis stood up into view from the other side of the Regalia, a little unsteady and Prompto felt a flash of guilt, they should have let Noct steer when they'd been pushing, his back had to be killing him now.
"Aha! Hello, Your Highness. Congrats on your wedding!"
"Not hitched just yet," his friend answered awkwardly and Gladio shifted closer protectively, they didn't know the girl after all.
"Lady Lunafreya's groom-to-be, here in Hammerhead," she grinned and Ignis stepped in.
"Apologies for taking so long."
"You'd best save your apologies for Paw-paw."
"Well, that makes you…" Gladio asked, letting Noctis step back and Prompto stepped up beside him.
"Cindy—Cid's grease-monkey granddaughter."
"Roll 'er in while I'm still young!" An old accented voice called and then a man walked into sight, he was old, kind of cranky looking too. The man looked at the Regalia and shook his head. "Didn't yer daddy tell ya? She's a custom classic, not some beat-up ol' clunker. Prince Noctis."
"'Prince.' Like they took your old man and kicked the dignity out of him," he snorted and Noctis stared at him in shocked confusion, all of them offended by the man's words.
"You got a long way to go, son. And that slack jaw's gettin' you nowhere fast. She's gonna take a while. Y'all get her in and run along," Cid answered, continuing to look over the car before walking away.
Cindy looked after him and sighed before turning back to them. "Y'all heard him! Let's get movin'. Right this way," she smiled at them, motioning for them to follow her. It took some work but they got the Regalia into the garage.
"And now we play the waiting game," Ignis offered.
"Never liked that game," Prompto groaned.
"Never any good at it, either," Noctis gave a slight smile, before looking seriously at Ignis. "Will our funds cover this?"
"They should but will likely leave us with a very tight budget."
Ignis finished washing the dishes and took his seat before the fire with a can of Ebony. The day had gone relatively well, other than the Regalia breaking down. They had successfully dealt with two hunts, found the missing hunter Dave, and were now camping at a Haven in order to finish Dave's hunt in the morning. It would make meeting the deadline more difficult but there was nothing he could do about it with the car out of commission. He fingered the object in his pocket, watching Prompto and Noctis play a round or ten of Kings Knight. They looked like any two young men as they laughed and played. No one would know just by looking at them who they really were.
Watching them…he felt his oaths constricting him - oaths to the Emperor – oaths to Noctis. For the first time, doubt filled his mind. How hard would it be to simply not be in Galdin on the sixteenth? He had a ready-made excuse, no transport. How could he even consider that? His information had not included much but he was Noctis' Adviser for a reason, a tactician. The only reason to hold the treaty signing in Insomnia was to bring down the Wall and take the city. Even if they 'missed' the rendezvous, sooner or later, without Insomnia to support and shelter them, they would be found. He was an excellent liar, he had to be to have survived so long undercover and could possibly convince the Emperor he had done his best, but he would lose all ability to shelter them in any way.
Maybe…maybe he should have gone to the King, thrown himself on his mercy….told him everything he knew or even suspected. Would he have even made it to him alive? Glauca had been in the city and he had the sick feeling that the man was always there. It made sense; the Glaive should have been far more effective than they had been…unless someone had been leaking their plans to the Empire. Glauca was someone high in the Lucian government. He was not the only Agent in the Citadel. He would have likely found an assassins blade between his ribs either before or after he spoke with the King.
His options were gone, he had no choice. Hold to one Oath and betray the other.
"Prompto," he called as the blond went to turn in.
"Here, I meant to give this to you earlier. A welcome to the Crownsguard gift," he held out the package and Prompto's eyes widened but he took it, unwrapping it to find a solid black wrist band finely embossed with the Crownsguard insignia.
"Ignis…" he whispered.
He smiled at the boy and it looked utterly genuine despite his inner hesitance, the last chance to back out of the plan. "Your current one is beginning to look a bit worn and I thought this might help you truly feel like one of us," the lie slipped out so easily. He watched as Prompto grinned, accepting and returning his hug, before the blond vanished into the tent. Forgive me he wanted to say, but he remained silent.
In the morning, Prompto was proudly wearing the new band, covering the barcode on his wrist.
There was no turning back now.
"Hey! I see the sea!" Prompto grinned from beside him as they turned the corner.
"I "sea" it too," Noctis laughed from behind him.
"That's Galdin Quay," Ignis glanced at their destination, seeing the fancy resort and ferry dock, houses nearby, likely for the locals and staff.
"Kinda wanna go for a dip," Gladio suggested.
"That a big mountain behind it?" Noctis asked curiously and Ignis glanced over again to see what he meant.
"No, it's an island."
"Nobody goes to Galdin for an island, though. They go to kick back and get massages!"
"And savour the seafood. It's famously delicious." That was one aspect of his position he truly enjoyed, he had come to love cooking and experimenting with recipes.
"Somethin' to look forward to." Gladio agreed with the Prince.
Ignis drove down and parked in the parking lot, next to the fuel pump as they were running a little low. They all got out and looked around. Ignis spotted a camper and the tell-tale smoke of a Haven nearby but…it wasn't like they'd need the money anymore anyway. They could have one last luxury before their lives as they knew them ended.
Prompto wandered off and then was obviously looking at something. "Guys! Look at this!" he called in excitement, running back with a newspaper.
House Fleuret Goes High Fashion: Lady Lunafreya's Wedding Dress Designed by Vivienne Westwood!
"A feature on the wedding," Ignis murmured, they had really gone all out to ensure people believed the ruse.
"Get a load of Lady Lunafreya's dress!" Prompto shoved the photo at Noctis who stared at it with slightly wider than normal eyes.
"That's some fancy fabric work. Bet the groom can't wait to see it on his bride-to-be," Gladio teased.
"He's not the only one. She's gonna be an absolute knockout!"
"The dress is bespoke, of course, and comes courtesy of one of Altissia's most foremost fashion designers," Ignis paraphrased for them.
"Bet the food's gonna be pretty damn fancy, too."
"Meh, as long as it's something I can eat," Noctis finally got over his shock at seeing the headline and picture.
"As opposed to dissect?" Ignis asked and Noctis shrugged. If the Emperor wished to torture Noctis, he should try to feed him only vegetables.
"Royally embarrassing. I can't wait to taste some Altissian seafood!" Prompto was almost bouncing in excitement.
"Galdin's famous for fish, too."
"Fish sounds good," Noctis agreed with his Shield.
"So does a balanced meal," he chided them both.
"How 'bout we try some local surf?" Prompto suggested to keep the peace.
"How 'bout we catch some ourselves?" Noctis was eyeing the water and the nearby dock.
"We got bigger fish to fry."
"He's right. In case you forgot, we came here to cast off, not cast a line. However, if we have time before the ferry I see no reason you can't try your hand." He would need to find a way to lose track of time and ensure they missed the ferry if it was due later. The knowledge of what was in his bag weighted heavily on his mind but he had made his choice, he was a loyal servant of the Emperor and he would do his duty….no matter the pain it caused his heart.
They headed for the resort and the ferry wharf that was connected to it, chatting happily. They were greeted by staff and then Ignis saw him, he recognised him immediately, he'd met the man once as a young child before leaving for Insomnia to join his Uncle…Chancellor Izunia. What was he doing in Galdin? Shouldn't he be in Insomnia for the signing? Strange how he looked exactly as Ignis remembered and yet it had been almost fifteen years. The exact same unkempt hair and multiple layers of dark clothing, a strange combination that appeared both fancy and dishevelled, the same hat, everything matched his memory perfectly.
He began to walk towards them and their eyes met, he knew the Chancellor recognised him as well, the slightest of smirks touching his lips before he stopped a few feet from them. "I'm afraid you're out of luck."
"Are we?" Noctis asked warily.
"The boats bring you here."
"What about 'em?" Prompto asked, studying him, and Ignis wondered if Prompto recognised him too. No, there was no indication Prompto had a memory like most in his own family, without that there was no way he could remember things from such a young age, even if he had ever seen him. It was possible, Izunia and Besithia were known to be close, and sometimes young children would remember scents or sounds if not images. And…yes, the Chancellor definitely knew who Prompto was, maybe he'd even provided the file Ignis had memorised.
"Well, they'll not take you forth."
"And what's your story?" Gladio demanded tersely.
"I'm an impatient traveller, ready to turn ship. The ceasefire's getting us nowhere." He turned and tossed a coin at Noctis but Gladio snatched it out of the air before it could get to the Prince.
"What's this? Some sort of souvenir?"
"They make those?"
"Consider it your allowance."
"Yeah, and who's allowing us?"
"A man of no consequence," he smirked, half bowing, before walking away.
"Yeah, right," Noctis shook his head.
Why had the Chancellor been there? They were suspicious of the man and that could make Ignis' mission harder if they remained on edge. Had he come to ensure Ignis would do as ordered?
"You believe what that guy said about the port being closed?"
"I'm sceptical, though I won't discount the possibility," Ignis offered, it would make his day easier though if he didn't need to come up with a way for them to miss the ferry.
"I say we go check it out for ourselves."
Sure enough, the ferries had been halted by the Empire. They spent a few hours hunting for gems for the reporter, Dino, and then returned to allow Noctis to fish. Dino promised to have a ship ready to take them in the morning so Ignis reserved a room with two beds for them for the night. They ate the fish Noctis had caught, using the haven to cook it, and then returned to the resort to relax. Ignis slipped a small bottle from his bag and poured the contents into a bottle before handing it to Gladio, who saluted him with it before drinking, the group laughing and playing games for a while before getting ready for bed.
Ignis subtly observed Gladio, watching the drug begin to take effect. He was soon unconscious in the bed they were to share and Ignis lay beside him, listening to the other two as they whispered for a while before settling down. He silently pulled out his phone and opened the app, hesitating for a split second before swiping the little bar across. He looked up then, seeing Prompto jerk in the bed before going still. He waited, in case the movement had miraculously woken Noctis, but nothing happened.
He got out of bed and went to his bag, removing a hard case. He opened it to see a syringe laying innocently inside, picking it up and walking over to the bed. Noctis lay sprawled on his side, one arm under the pillow, legs tangled with Prompto's who lay on his back. He could not be in a more perfect position. Ignis knelt to get a good look in the low light, his aim needed to be perfect. He reached out and brushed Noctis' hair aside, using his fingers as a guide and then he swiftly inserted the syringe, pressing down on the plunger to inject the contents.
Noctis jerked, tensing. "Wha…" he fell silent, body limp. Ignis waited a few seconds before removing the syringe, wiping the blood away. He used his hand to support the Prince's head and then rolled him onto his back. His eyes were wide open in fear and confusion and then he saw Ignis and the confusion took precedence. The drug had worked exactly as it was meant to, stopping all signals from Noctis' brain to the rest of his body, leaving him completely paralysed and cut off from his magic, obviously unable to even blink. Only automatic functions continued and after a little while he blinked slowly, his body reacting to his eyes becoming dry, his eyes reopening but only half way. He had hoped he would sleep through the injection but obviously that was not the case. The fear in his eyes was becoming terror and…betrayal as Ignis did nothing but watch him.
Noctis was relieved to get to sleep in an actual bed, he hated camping. He didn't mind sharing the bed with Prompto either, it wasn't like he kicked or snored. They all snickered over Gladio being the first to flop into bed but once he had, Ignis got them moving. He was too nervous to sleep right away, tomorrow he would see Luna again after twelve years…he loved her but he didn't think he was in love with her. Prompto kept him distracted with talk of all the photos he could take in Altissia until Noctis found his eyes closing in sleep. Something pulled him close to waking for a few seconds at some point but when nothing else happened he drifted back into a deep sleep.
He began to stir again as he felt a touch to the back of his head but then there was a swift, sharp pain, the feeling of pressure in his neck and his eyes snapped open. "Wha" he…he couldn't move, he couldn't feel anything. He stared at Prompto's sleeping form in fear, why wasn't he waking up? Iggy…Gladio...had they already been taken out? He tried to reach for his magic, to call an antidote or remedy but he couldn't feel it. He couldn't feel anything! Prompto's body moved out of his site and he was staring at the ceiling…someone had rolled him over and he hadn't felt a thing. He was scared and confused but then he saw Ignis above him, had he taken out the attacker? He'd know how to help him, to fix whatever this was…why was he just looking at him?
All he could hear was the sound of his own breathing, the frantic beat of his heart, he tried to speak, to blink, anything. His vision went black for a second and then returned, he'd blinked? But his field of vision was smaller, his eyes weren't open all the way. Still, Ignis just watched him and the fear morphed into terror. Why wasn't Iggy helping him? No…no….he wouldn't…he would never….Ignis lifted his hand and he saw it glint in the moonlight, a syringe. He felt utter despair as it hit him, he'd been betrayed by one of his own Retainers, by his friend, his brother. He wanted to cry, to scream, to rip the magic from Ignis but all he could do was lay there and stare at him. He saw Ignis reach out and then his world went dark, Ignis had closed his eyes.
He didn't know what was happening, why, he had to…he had to do…something? His thoughts lost coherency, becoming tangled and confused, unable to recognise that he'd been hit with Confusion.
Ignis hated seeing the emotions in Noctis' eyes so he reached down, seeing the sheer terror at his approaching hand, Noctis obviously realising how vulnerable he was, tears slipping from his eye, but all he did was gently press his eyelids down. It gave Noctis the appearance of being asleep, even though he knew he wasn't. He went through everything they had collected, nothing that could put the Prince to sleep but…he summoned Prompto's gun and removed one of the starshells, breaking it over Noctis, seeing the magic shimmer briefly around his head to show the spell had taken effect. At least in a confused state he would be unaware of what had happened to him, unable to think coherently.
He then turned to Prompto who lay still, breathing deep and evenly. Proof that the device had worked as advertised because otherwise Noctis' cut off cry would have woken him. He looked down at the benign seeming wrist band, Imperial technology. Details had not been provided, just instructions that it needed to cover the barcode and when he had examined it he had seen lines on the inside…lines that would likely match up to such a marking. He opened the app again and tapped a button.
Prompto opened his eyes, staring up at the ceiling. "Unit 05953234 awaiting orders," his voice was flat, dead, his eyes empty of everything that Ignis had come to equate with the bubbly blond.
"Prompto wake up," Ignis said but there was no reaction. "Unit 05953234, stand up," he ordered and Prompto got up, standing to attention beside the bed, his movements efficient but nothing else. He continued staring straight ahead, blinking very slowly. Ignis watched him, checking his watch to find he was blinking maybe four times a minute, much less than was considered normal. Ignis waited silently but Prompto continued to stand still, face utterly devoid of expression or personality. He didn't know how something being placed over a mere barcode could do so much, it had to be more than simple technology surely. Something embedded in his brain with a control unit in the code perhaps? Surely it would have been detected when he was brought to Insomnia though.
Ignis checked the time before re-dressing in his clothing, and then went to open the balcony door, letting the cool ocean breeze into the room. He used the flashlight on his phone to signal the pickup and then packed up everything, sending it to the Armiger. A squad of MT's soon appeared and moved into the room, hauling Gladio's drugged body up and outside. Another group appeared and Noctis was lifted, limbs flopping all over the place, head falling back at a bad angel.
"Be careful!" he barked at them. "There is to be no damage to any of the prisoners." The MT's looked at him but obviously had been instructed to follow his orders as Noctis' body was shifted into a better position before he was carried away. "Unit 05953234, follow me," he told Prompto, having to glance back to make sure he had obeyed, his bare feet silent. He walked stiffly, just like the MT's Ignis could see ahead of them, arms rigid at his side, gaze fixed ahead.
He opened his eyes, why was he awake? He went to close them, to go back to sleep, but nothing happened. He couldn't move, he was scared, terrified, his heart should be pounding madly but it kept a slow, steady, beat, his breathing slow and steady. "Unit 05953234 awaiting orders," he felt the vibration in his throat, it was his voice, but he hadn't said those words. He knew that number though, how could he not when it was branded into his skin? Okay, it was a nightmare, he was dreaming, everything was okay.
"Prompto wake up," that was Iggy's voice and any second he'd wake up to find him leaning over him, waking him from the nightmare but nothing happened. "Unit 05953234, stand up," he ordered firmly and Prompto felt sick, how could Ignis know that number? He felt himself move, obeying the order with no input from him. His limbs felt stiff and he could feel himself standing at rigid attention, staring straight at the wall ahead. The only change was when he blinked but he couldn't even control that. The room was silent, no one hearing him screaming to wake up. What was happening to him? Why wasn't Iggy helping him? Where were Noct and Gladio?
He had no way of keeping track of time in the silent room, trying not to turn into a jabbering wreck as he fought to regain control of his body. Something changed, he could feel a cool breeze, the smell of the sea stronger, the balcony doors had bene opened maybe? Then he heard a new sound…one he had never heard. A kind of rhythmic clanking, from outside he thought, but coming closer. Then the cause walked through his line of sight, towards the other bed and he felt sick, he knew what they were, MT's. What was going on? They moved past again and he saw Gladio being carried between them, his body limp. Was he breathing? He heard more, to the side, the bed…Noct!
"Be careful!" he heard Ignis' voice bark. "There is to be no damage to any of the prisoners."
Prisoners? No…no way, Iggy would never…he was Noctis' Adviser, his oldest friend.
"Unit 05953234, follow me," Ignis' voice gave the command and Prompto felt his body turn to face the open balcony doors. As Ignis walked away he followed, still moving stiffly, limbs rigid, staring right at Ignis' back. Even being unable to move his head or eyes, he made out the dropship as they approached it, could see a group of MT's carrying something up the ramp and then they were walking up it. He could see the shoulder height locking equipment, some of which was occupied by inert MT's and he was terrified to find himself walking towards an empty section, stopping dead in position. He heard the clank of armour around him and then he was being held tightly in place by cold metal.
"Unit 05953234 shut down," an unfamiliar voice commanded and he knew no more.
Ignis turned when he sensed he was no longer being followed, watching Prompto march to the MT restraints and then stand there, as empty as those around him. He showed no sign of awareness as the restraints locked into place, keeping him on his feet, unable to move.
"Unit 05953234 shut down," a familiar voice commanded and Ignis saw Prompto's eyes fall shut. "Well done nephew, I am proud of you," Scipio Scientia offered the rare praise. As far as anyone in Insomnia knew, the man had died five years before when in reality he had simply returned to the Empire.
Ignis turned to his Uncle and smiled at the praise. "I am glad that the charade is finally over, the Prince is not easy to deal with."
"That will be changing," the older man smirked. "We will reach Gralea in a few hours, go get some sleep, you've earned it."
"Yes Uncle," he bowed slightly to the Head of House Scientia and retreated to where he knew there would be accommodation for human crew and passengers. At least none of the three were aware of what was happening to them, small comfort. It was only rigid discipline and training that allowed him to fall quickly asleep, even still dressed in his Crownsguard uniform, only removing his shoes and jacket.