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Title: Bolvangar [I’m taking suggestions]
Rating: PG
Wordcount: ~1500
Notes: For the first time I’m wandering out of the limits of canon, with an AU I’ve been plotting for a while. I really want to make it a multichaptered story... Here would be the prologue/first chapter.
What kind of beta I’m looking for: As usual, I try hard to make everything understandable even for readers who don’t know the books, so you are all invited to beta my grammar/verb tenses/phrase structures (they probably really need it). However if you happen to be familiar with HDM, I’d be very curious to also know your opinion about the logic of this crossover.

***

It’s been at least two weeks since the snow started to fall, covering ceaselessly Bolvangar’s buildings until it starts to be difficult to distinguish them in the surrounding white fog. Everyday, a member of the Organization is sent on the roofs to clear them a little, and particularly the antennae assuring the communications between the different departments and with the civilized world.

Except that the civilized world doesn’t know about Bolvangar’s existence. If it wasn’t for those bits of communication, they could as well be on the moon. A hostile moon whose habitants are Tartars always ready to sell the surpluses of their hunts – whether they are animal or human preys – for a bit of gold.

Roxas knows he arrived at Bolvangar before the snowfall began, but not exactly when. Actually, he has no idea of what he was doing and who he was before he arrived in this cold cocoon in the North. Maybe there is a memory, so blurred it looks like a dream…

He’s sitting in the dark of a back-alley, in front of a manor closed with a heavy lock; he doesn’t know how he got there, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. He can see passersby walking in the street nearby, hear laughs and conversations, but he doesn’t try to blend in them. He stays prostrate, his gaze empty, and he could keep this posture forever; but a man suddenly stands before him, and his eyes as golden as the fur of the monkey accompanying him seem to know all the answers.
He begins with giving him a name.


The name “Bolvangar” has a very ominous meaning in Tartar, so its inhabitants just call it “the Station”, but Roxas knows better. If the other members of the Organization are satisfied by persuading themselves that they belong to a normal experimental laboratory like any other, great for them. Roxas hears the screams and sees the grave behind Bolvangar filling up everyday, and he knows he should feel outraged; he settles for observation. He’s the youngest member of the Organization, but he doesn’t interact with them. First, they’re all prepubescent, much younger than him. But above all, the scientists don’t want him to distress them. Even children feel deep inside that a human without Dæmon, it’s an empty shell, some kind of ghost, an aberration that shouldn’t exist.

Considering the nature of the experiences undertaken here, as well as the one of the scientists and their helpers, Roxas thinks it’s very ironic.

***

So he watches them from the roofs when it’s his turn to clear the snow and the children are in recreation outside. The girls are calmly discussing in small groups, wrapped up in fur coats; generally their Dæmons take a form small enough to wedge in their clothes. From where he is, Roxas can see mouse whiskers stick up from the hood of a pretty little blonde, and rabbit ears, white and fuzzy as snow, from another one – her name is Alice, Roxas knows because she had minor exams this morning. He will probably have forgotten her tomorrow. Boys are in the middle of a snowball fight; they’re running and shouting and laughing, happy to play. Better than if they realized the danger of their situation and try to escape in the woods of the North. Their Dæmons have taken threatening forms, tigers, lions, bears, wolves as those Tartar warriors have. Roxas spots a red dragon, belonging to a girl a bit tomboy whose face, with its Asian traits, shows that she’s probably a Tartar child sold to the Station by her parents. It happens often around here.

After the break, most of the children go to the classroom with one of the member of the Organization. Today it’s Xaldin. His Dæmon, an eagle, stays perched on his shoulder. It’s not the ceilings that prevent him from take flight, but the children don’t have to know that.

***

The subjects for this afternoon are led by Larxene and Saïx to the infirmary block. Vexen takes delivery of them, and after a few measurements – height, weight, Dust, the routine – he keeps the oldest of the children and sends back the others. His name is Pinocchio, indicating that the Gobblers must have captured him somewhere in Italia, and his Dæmon, as little assured as him, has taken the discreet form of a cricket. They all enter in the room that someone with a particularly dark sense of humor – probably Axel – has called “the Guillotine”.

Vexen doesn’t try to be nice or patient. There’s hardly only Demyx to sham a bit of camaraderie with the children, but Demyx is not there: he went to Greece a few days ago to meet his Gobblers - he calls them his Dancers - to prepare a new harvest of… raw material. His stoat Dæmon watching impassively, Vexen locks up Pinocchio in a cage in the middle of the room, and the child’s Dæmon in another. They’re both screaming and struggling but Larxene and Saïx move with professionalism and well-oiled gestures to help the scientist. Helpless, Pinocchio cries for his Dæmon, Jiminy, who is doing distraught jumps in his cage. Hurried to end the scene, Roxas walks toward the two guinea pigs, and with a precise move of the Knife that never leaves him, slices the air between the two cages.

- The Subtle Knife?
- That’s its name. It is said to be an artifact from another world. The one chosen by the Knife is given an extraordinary power and…
- That doesn’t tell me why it chose me.
- I can tell you what I know in exchange for some… services.
- You will help me to find my Dæmon? My memories?
Xemnas smiles meaningfully, and his assurance and charisma are so overwhelming that Roxas can’t refuse. He does his first intercision the same day, the first one of a long series.


Pinocchio won’t go back to his classmates. The child, who looked so vivid a second ago, is now as empty and void of will as a puppet only standing through wires. Jiminy doesn’t move, either. He heads mechanically towards Saïx’s hand when the henchman reaches for him in the cage, looking for human warmth, but the link existing between him and his human is definitely broken. Vexen is grouching that the experimentations aren’t going fast enough and that it’s not at this rate they will be able to reproduce the effects of the knife, let alone elucidate the mysteries of the relation between a human and his heart. Roxas has already heard this rant countless times and starts experiencing some sort of queasiness. Interesting, when one thinks that those who lost their Dæmon – even if their personality was strong enough to survive the shock of the rupture and keep their free will and memories – are unable to feel any emotion.

***

The evening the same day, snow finally stops falling. So up in the North during winter, nights are long and dark, and it’s difficult to guess the time it is by looking at the sky. As long as it’s dark enough to hide his departure, it suits Roxas.

He sneaks easily past the Tartar guards, but a voice greets him as he’s about to get through the last security perimeter of the Station.
“Your mind’s made up?”
Axel stands behind him, with a nonchalant posture that tries to hide his tension. He’s been visibly waiting here for a while, despite the cold he doesn’t bear very well, like most of the people who’ve grown in much more hospitable climates. The man knows him well, after all the missions they’ve accomplished together through Europe. He taught him the ropes of espionage, assassination, and how to disappear without a trace; that last point will sure be helpful in the near future. Axel being what could be the closest to a friend to him, Roxas feels obligated to defend himself.
“Why did the Knife choose me? I have to know. I will never find anything here; I’m going to look for my answers by myself.”
“You can’t turn your back on the Organization! You get on their bad side and they'll destroy you!”
I’m too useful to them for that, Roxas thinks. Xemnas thinks they need the Knife to recreate the link between them and their Dæmons and be humans again, even if doesn’t say everything.
“They won’t find me.”
Because Roxas knows how to use the Knife to open portals to other worlds, and he strongly hopes that Xemnas isn’t in the know.
“Don’t tell me you stay with them because you’re afraid,” Roxas continues. “You satisfy yourself with this… this pet?
Axel lowers his gaze to his Dæmon with a falsely outraged cry. The red mongoose is busy swelling his fur in an attempt to escape from the cold and doesn’t bother to react. Axel’s eyes are cold and calculating when they turn again to Roxas.
“What I do and why, that’s my business. But I’m worried for you…”
“Wrong! You think you do, but you only worry for yourself. All of you do. You’re only interested in the Knife, and if I die, no one would miss me.”

And before Axel tries again to make him change his mind, Roxas is leaving. He doesn’t hear the answer his former partner whispers bitterly. Only one thought is on his mind, a single name he managed to remember and may change everything. The name of his heart, of his vanished Dæmon. Sora.


-----------------
cross-posted to kh_beta and need_a_beta to maximize feedback.

Comments

wayya
Jan. 15th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
Some of your ideas tally with mines, and you raise interesting questions. I was initially thinking that Sora would be in human shape (and wouldn’t be able to change shape because it’s more logical considering Roxas’ age), but I guess it will really depend on how I will build the plot after all:
Making a parallel for Sora would be interesting, especially if you have the two moving slowly towards each other over the course of the story. I absolutely agree, and I would like to write something like that… I just want to make sure the plot is up to the potential. So I’m going to think about it (and quickly reread the books) XD

I am awfully slow when I write, so don’t expect anything before a while ^^; May I friend you, so we keep in touch? I checked your profile and we share various fandoms, and you really seem a nice person :D

And again, thank you for your advice.
chesauroshin
Jan. 15th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Take however much time you need to plot things out and reread the books. Things turn out much better when they're not rushed, in my opinion. And your story looks really interesting, so I'm really happy to be able to help.

And of course it's okay if you friend me! I'll friend you back!

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