Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 11

Noctis sat beside the bed, refusing to be moved, watching over Prompto. He hadn't woken up yet but the doctors hadn't found any injuries. Prompto had stayed with him as much as possible when he was recovering and he would do the same for him. Besides, Prompto could be in danger in the Citadel, if anyone worked out where he was from…or what he was meant to have been if not rescued. He knew Prompto had metal implants, some of them very visible, so he'd watched very carefully when he was examined, had distracted them when they got close to a spot he remembered, like the base of Prom's skull. Was that why he had grown his hair longer? So far, he didn't think anyone suspected but he still wasn't taking any chances.


Sora stared in horror as the man collapsed, something glowing rising from his body which faded away. Was that…was that his Heart?! He felt sick. and then a strange creature appeared only to vanish into Darkness before Sora could move. Where was everyone else? He could remember seeing Prom fall but he'd been in armour, so he'd be fine, right? But Riku had been swallowed up…and he hadn't been acting right, there been a sick feeling of Darkness clinging to him, somehow that hooded figure had gotten to him despite everything Prompto had done to protect them. That left Kairi, had he really seen her there or had he been hallucinating?

He rushed back to the shop, hoping the grumpy man there could give him more answers. Prompto had told him about the Unversed, but these were different, like the creatures that had overtaken Radiant Garden before Prompto and Kairi came to the Islands.


Riku could feel the Darkness radiating from the woman and that made him very wary. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any other shelter on the World and he had no way to leave. His memory on what had happened was fuzzy and that scared him. Where were the others?

He followed her into the imposing…decaying castle, fighting back a shiver, from the cold or Darkness? They'd find him, they would. Somehow. He just had to hold on.


Cor observed the private medical room where his prince sat on a chair, hopefully doing schoolwork, and not playing games on the tablet he held in his lap. Still unconscious on the bed was the boy, Prompto. For some strange reason, Noctis had been distracting the doctors when it came to certain examinations, but why? What was he trying to hide?

He'd heard the eyewitness accounts, seen what little footage had been recorded by the security booths at the bridge. The boy had literally fallen from the sky, but all reports were negative for ships in the area. It didn't make any sense, then again, nothing to do with Noctis' disappearance back then made any sense.

That night had been so chaotic, by the time Cor had reached the scene Regis had defeated the daemon and had been frantically searching for Noctis. His nurse had been found dead, impaled through the chest but there had been too much blood there for just her. Testing had proven some was Noctis' but there had been no sign of the wounded child. The Guard and Glaive had searched for days without any sign.

Watching Regis fall apart as more and more time passed with nothing had been so painful. It had been almost a year before Bahamut himself had appeared over the Citadel before vanishing again, leaving Noctis' unconscious form lying in the courtyard. His lower back was scarred and just like this boy, he'd remained unconscious for days. Once awake, Noctis had not spoken much of where he had been, just that a man named Merlin and his ward, Prompto, had looked after him. They'd treated his wounds and helped him re-learn how to walk. Noctis had cried about leaving Prompto behind, hearing the other boy screaming for him before he'd been knocked out.

They boy they had gotten back was different to the one who had vanished, but he was still Noctis. Tests had been run to be sure at the Council's insistence. Noctis had been shy and quiet as a child, the boy who had returned was stubborn, outspoken, and his magic had gone haywire. It had settled a lot over the years but he could still have outbursts.

"Any change?"

Cor glanced at his king and shook his head. "Nothing and Noctis still refuses to leave his side."


Regis watched as his son set his tablet aside, leaning over to squeeze a limp hand and then pick up a nearby cloth to gently wipe over dry lips. They'd hooked the boy up to an IV to keep him hydrated and hopefully he would wake before further intervention was necessary.

He nodded to Cor and then slipped into the room, walking over to rest a hand on Noctis' shoulder. His son looked up at him, eyes thankfully the normal dark blue and not changing with magic. Regis smiled and then reached out to ruffle wild black locks.

"Dad!" He grimaced but then their attention went to the bed as a low groan sounded. Noctis reached back to take Prompto's hand. "Prom? It's okay, you're safe. Can you hear me?"


Sora looked up and then moved fast, rolling out of the way as two strange beings landed on the ground. It shook, blocks going up to block off the exits, more of those creatures appearing. Sora summoned the Keyblade even as he wrapped an aero spell around himself for defence, launching himself into the fight.

"The Key!" He heard them cry but ignored them to fight, until a fireball soared passed to take out one, and then the taller figure slammed into another with a shield. Backup, okay, that was nice.

Of course just when he thought they were done, massive pieces of armour fell from the sky, shifting together. He settled back into a defensive stance, holding the Keyblade ready.


"That little squirt took down that Heartless! Who'd have thought it?" Hades shook his head. Then again, he wasn't much younger than the blond kid a while back, he hadn't caused as much trouble for his plans as that boy Terra though.

"Such is the power of the Keyblade. The child's strength is not his own," Jafar scoffed.

"Why don't we turn him into a Heartless?" Ursula cackled as she stared at the image of the boy standing in the large square of Traverse Town. "That'll settle things quick enough."

"And the brat's friends are the king's lackeys. Swoggle me eyes, they're all bilge rats by the look of them," Hook sneered, shaking his head in disgust.

"You're no prize yourself," Oogie Boogie chuckled, causing Hook to brandish his hook at him.

"Shut up!"


They all looked over as Maleficent emerged from the shadows. She gazed through narrow eyes at the image on the table, her green skin shimmering its pale light. Her long fingers curved around the staff in her hand, a small smirk on her lips.

"The Keyblade has chosen him. Will it be he who conquers the Darkness? Or will the Darkness swallow him? Either way, he could be quite useful," her smirk morphed into a dark smile even as another image appeared. This was of a room in the castle where a silver haired boy slept restlessly. "Both of them could."


Sora didn't know what to think, so many strangers telling him what to do. But from Prompto's stories…fighting those creatures…the Heartless, well, it seemed like something a Keyblade wielder should do. Though why did they call him the Keyblade Master? He hadn't taken the exam Prompto had told them about, and there were other wielders. Even...even if Prompto's family was gone, there was at least one other. And Sora was pretty sure it was the king those two were looking for. So why would he up and leave with everything that was going on?

He didn't have armour, didn't know how to summon a glider, so going with them in their ship seemed the best option, for now.


"Prom? It's okay, you're safe. Can you hear me?"

He struggled to open his eyes, blinking up into dark blue eyes, familiar eyes. He groaned, feeling someone squeeze his hand. His eyes focused and he took in messy black hair along with the eyes, his heart starting to race. It couldn't be….could it?

"Prompto?" the other whispered and he knew that voice, older and deeper now, but still the same too.


That got a smile of relief. "Hey, how do you feel?"

"Wha…" he shook his head, and then a cup of ice chips was being held to his lips. He sucked on some of them, soothing his dry mouth and throat. "Wh're?"

"The Citadel, in Insomnia," Noctis told him, and Prompto felt his heart begin to race. What?! "It's okay, you're okay. You kind of crashed into the bridge leading to Leide, did a pretty good meteor impression. I deactivated your armour before anyone got a good look," the last was whispered, and Prompto was grateful.

If…if he was back on Eos somehow then World Order had to be maintained. He wondered how much Noct had told them when he came back home, had the World Order already been broken? He pushed up, and Noctis moved to help him sit up. He glanced towards the door and froze, eyes wide.


Donald was impressed by the boys' magic use, not that he was going to tell him. it was good he wasn't a total beginner or anything, that would slow them down too much. They had to find the King! He wasn't sure why he'd told them to find and follow another Keyblade user but he knew King Mickey knew what he was doing. He just wished he'd left better instructions then follow the key.


Noct saw Prompto's eyes go wide, knew who he could see. "It's just my Dad and Cor checking up on me. You've been unconscious for days since arriving. I never told them much, just your name and Merlin's, that you looked after me."

"They don't know about…" Prom touched his covered wrist, and Noctis was just happy to hear him speaking more clearly.

"No, I never told anyone and I've kept the doctors from getting a good enough look to see any implants," he promised. "But if you're here for long, someone's going to notice something eventually."

"Yeah," Prompto glanced over at them again. "I don't know how to leave," he admitted. "Still haven't managed to summon my Keyblade." And then his eyes widened and he swore.

"Prompto?" Noctis asked in alarm.

"Has there been sign of anyone else?" he asked, and Noctis shook his head, a sinking feeling in his gut.

"Isa and Lea?" Noctis asked, but Prompto shook his head.

"Ra…the Garden fell to Darkness almost ten years ago," he whispered, and Noctis felt sick.

He doubled over and then Cor was there with a trash can. He'd read about that in some of Merlin's books. All those people…Lea…Isa…Merlin…

"Merlin's alive," Prompto murmured. "We got separated but I've felt him searching for me a few times."

But everyone else? He'd been welcomed in the Garden, accepted as just another kid…there'd been so many people.

"Easy Noctis," Cor murmured.

"Noctis?" then his Dad was there.

"Everyone?" Noctis grimaced at the taste in his mouth, taking the water to rinse and spit.

Prompto shrugged slightly. "I don't know. Only Kairi and I ended up together, you never met her, she's fourteen now. I told the people where we ended up that we were cousins to stay together. Her and her two friends were with me, Sora and Riku. And now I don't know where any of them are. Riku's the oldest at fifteen, Sora's only just turned fourteen."

"If you get together with one of my men, we can put together sketches of them and send them out. If anyone finds them, they'll contact the Citadel," Cor offered.

"Thank you Marshal," Prompto answered. "But if they're here, we should have arrived together."


Riku made his way down the hall, dodging the creatures Maleficent called Heartless, vaguely remembering seeing the little shadowy ones back home. The castle was…cold, like he could never quite get warm enough but not so bad he was shivering. Which was good since there weren't exactly any spare clothes lying around for him to borrow.

Maleficent had promised to help him find the others but he didn't trust her, he didn't know enough about her or her group but they all felt so Dark to him. He had to find a way off world, somehow. He felt…cut off, like something was missing and he had the sick feeling he knew what. Had that robed figure taken his Keyblade? Not that he'd worked out how to summon it yet.

He figured Prompto was fine, he had his armour, but Riku was really worried about Sora and Kairi. He didn't remember seeing her at all and Sora…it was all such a blur but he thought Sora had been there, reaching for his hand. What had happened to him that night, why couldn't he remember properly?


"You know who I am?" Cor asked, and the boy nodded, hesitating, glancing at Noctis.

"You're Cor Leonis, the Immortal," he answered. He looked down at the bed and took a deep breath before looking up and making eye contact with Cor. "Fifteen years ago you were with a team at the First Magitek Production Facility. You were trying to break into a room but were forced to retreat. Do you know what was in the room?"

Cor had tensed, how could he know that? Noctis had never been told of that mission, he'd only been two at the time…no, that was impossible. "A child."

"Me," he stated. "Someone else was there too, once you were gone he broke in to see what you were trying to get to, he got me out and took me home with him. He then had to find medical help for me, I was dying."

"You're the child Cor tried to save?" Regis asked to be sure, and the boy…Prompto, nodded.

"What were you even doing there?" Cor asked before realising a toddler wouldn't remember.

"I was made there, just like all the others."


He sat forward and turned, lifting his hair from his neck, and Cor hissed in a breath at the sight of metal imbedded in his skin. He then turned again and removed the band from his wrist that Noctis hadn't let anyone touch…a barcode. There was a barcode in his skin! What was the Empire doing?!

"Where do you think MT's come from?" Prompto asked softly, and Cor tensed, shifting slightly to block Regis, getting a tired smile from the blond. "I was lucky, I survived thanks to a very good healer who could get rid of the Scourge, she helped Noctis too because his wounds were infected. I…I don't know if she's still alive or not, her and her daughter vanished years ago. I grew up free, unlike my 'brothers'."

"Where could the Empire find so many children?" Regis demanded.

"I don't look at all familiar? You must have intelligence photos of him."

Cor frowned and then his eyes widened as it clicked. "Besithia."

Prompto nodded. "We're all clones, bred for the MT program. I'd never left the tank before Master Eraqus rescued me. I grew up with three older siblings until there was a battle. I don't know if they survived. Ventus got me away, hid me with Merlin. And it wasn't long after that, that Noctis appeared in the courtyard, almost dead."


"Court is now in session!" the rabbit they had followed announced.

Sora looked around the edge of the hedge, curious. He'd never seen a court trial before…but the defendant was a girl around his age, maybe a little older.

"I'm on trial? But why?" She asked, sounding completely confused.

"Her Majesty, the Queen of Hearts, presiding!"

The queen was sitting at the bench wearing a red and black gown, holding a heart-shaped fan, and with a ferocious frown on her face. "This girl is the culprit. There's no doubt about it. And the reason is...because, I say so, that's why!"

"That is so unfair!"

He agreed with the girl!

The queen tapped her fan like a gavel. "Well, have you anything to say in your defence?"

"Of course! I've done absolutely nothing wrong!" she folder her arms over her chest even as the rabbit gasped. "You may be queen, but I'm afraid that doesn't give you the right to be so...so mean!"

The queen scowled at her and Sora had a sinking feeling it was going to get worse. "Silence!" she yelled. "You dare defy me?" She slammed her fists on the bench.

"Hey, guys, we should help her out," he whispered.

"Yeah, but the…" Donald hissed.

"We're outsiders, so wouldn't that be muddling?" Goofy cut in.

"Meddling!" Donald corrected.

"Oh, yeah. A-hyuck! And that's against the rules."

They were right, Prompto had told them all about it but…this was wrong. There had to be a way to interfere without giving away other Worlds and stuff.

"The court finds the defendant..." she raised her fan. "Guilty as charged! For the crimes of assault and attempted theft of my heart..."

Sora gasped but was also relieved. There was no way the girl had done that, it had to be the Heartless! which meant they could interfere!

"Off with her head!" the queen yelled, pointing at the girl and the Card Soldiers gathered around her.

"No! No! Oh, please!"

Sora ran in without waiting for the others. "Hold it right there!"

"Who are you? How dare you interfere with my court?"

"Excuse me. But we know who the real culprit is!"

"Uh-huh. It's the Heartle-" Goofy covered his mouth, looking to Sora.

"Anyway, she's not the one you're looking for," Sora pointed to Alice as the queen leant on the bench, tapping her finger.

"That's nonsense. Have you any proof?" She smirked at a speechless Sora and Alice was imprisoned in a cage next to the bench. "Bring me evidence of Alice's innocence! Fail, and it's off with all of your heads! Gather as much or little evidence as you please. Report back here once you're ready." She smirked again, obviously not thinking they'd find anything.

Well, they'd show her! He was not letting an innocent girl be executed by that mad woman! Even if he had to use the Keyblade and break her out. Donald might not like it but he was pretty sure Goofy would help at least.

"Come on," he left the stand to head off deeper into the strange World. Where was Riku when he needed him, he was better at this kind of thing than Sora! Then again, Kairi might have been able to talk the queen out of the sentence.


Explaining things without telling them about other Worlds is not easy for Prompto.