• Author: N-finiteFangirl
    Fandom: Kingdom Hearts/Final Fantasy VII crossover
    Title: The Gunner Knight
    Rating: PG-13 for spooky settings, and a little language
    Summary: Set during Sora's first time in Hollow Bastion in KH1, when he had to rely upon Beast for defense from the Heartless: Sora gets seperated from the Beast in the dark corridors beneath the castle, and ends up finding something--or, to be more exact, someone--but the question is: Will his discovery be for good or for ill?
    Notes: This is the first time in a loooong time that I've made any attempts at a horror/suspence scene. Please, leave me any comments on how to make improvements if I screw up on this aspect.

    Sora couldn't ignore the shivers running up and down his spine. He knew that Kairi was with him--at least in spirit--but it didn't change the fact that he was walking through cobweb-covered crypts and tombs full of dead bodies...with bones and bits of decaying flesh scattered over the floor...and rats everywhere. Okay, the rats he knew he could deal with, so long as they didn't form a huge mob to attack him. But still--dead bodies! And coffins and tombs! It was like Halloweentown gone to Darkness down there!

    Of course, having a torch and a sword didn't help much to ease his nerves--even if said sword was wooden, and thus perfect to use against any vampires that might attack.

    But after the first five minutes or so...the dead remained dead. The only signs of life were the rats scurrying around, looking for food. So, Sora began to focus more on navigating through the confusing maze that was the catacombs of Hollow Bastion.

    "I think we're lost..." Kairi stated at one point, when Sora stopped at a four-way intersection. "I'm having trouble figuring out which way is north. I...I don't even know if we really could trace our way back to the entrance."

    "You sure?" Sora asked, his voice trembling a little. "I mean, you got the best sense of direction that I know..."

    "Usually, yes. But...there's so much Darkness here that it's hard to tell. Oooohhhh! I wish there was some moss growing here! That way, I could tell which way is north!"

    "How would that help?" Sora's face twisted in confusion. If only he could see Kairi instead of just listening to her in his head!

    "Moss tends to grow in a northern direction. It could grow on trees or rocks, and since we have rock--well, stone--all around us... I thought it might grow here as well." She sighed. "It just...it's terrible that there's no moss to use, and that the darkness is messing up my sense of direction! It...it's not fair!" Sora could almost imagine her stomping her feet, fists clenched and lips pouting in fustration.

    "...You want me to try the stick thing?" He offered. "That's always worked when everything else failed."

    "...It wouldn't hurt, I guess."

    Sora then carefully balanced his sword with the end of the hilt touching the ground, one finger resting on the tip of the blade. He waited until he felt the sword be as perfectly balanced as possible, and then let go of it.

    The sword clattered to the ground, pointing to the right path. It wasn't as full of rubble as the other two...but that might be due to the fact that it was partially blocked by black, thorny brambles.

    Sora grimaced. "I dunno if the sword could cut through all that..."

    "Well, if we're lucky, it might lead out to the gardens--and that tends to be aboveground," Kairi pointed out encouragely. "Besides, you have the torch, remember?"

    "Oh, yeah!" Sora grinned cheesily, rubbing the back of his neck. "Kinda forgot about that."

    "Oh, Sora..." Kairi sighed.

    "Alright...let's go, then." Sora picked up his sword, and then walked over to the first wave of brambles. He eyed them for a moment, then decided to light one branch with his torch as a test. However, the blue-green flame did nothing to the black branch, even with the flame fully engulfing one point end for five full minutes. "Uhhh, Kairi? I dun think magical flames are gonna burn these."

    "Well, we'll have to hack through them, then."

    Sora winced. "I was afraid you would say that," he muttered. But he diligently raised his sword and swung it down upon the test branch.

    It snapped off in an instand, falling down in brittle pieces.

    "Wow...this is gonna be easier than I thought!" Sora grinned and happily hacked away at the pile of brambles. The nose of snapping branches, wood breaking wood, and clattering brittle pieces echoed loudly throughout the catacombs as the lad finished hacking a hole large enough to slip into the new passage.

    Unlike the rest of the catacombs, there were no lights in this particular area. Instead, the walls, roof, and parts of the floor were lined with black, thorny brambles. There were no branching corridors or niches for coffins; just one long hallway disappearing into darkness beyond the reach of torchlight.

    Sora swallowed a lump in his throat; he didn't need Kairi to tell him that there would most likely be Heartless lurking in that corridor. But the sword pointed that way, so...he walked through the opening and started on down the corridor, torch held high and sword gripped tightly. He regained the feeling of a thousand golden eyes watching him once he passed beyond the limit of the light of the catacombs behind him. However, the lad could also feel Kairi close to him, ready to help him if he needed it, so he didn't worry too much at that time.

    He traveled further down the corridor, occasionally using his wooden blade to break up some brambles blocking his path. Each bunch kept getting thicker and thicker, until Sora felt like he was wading through a thorny, underground forest. Not a pleasant experience, especially since he was wearing short sleeves and shorts. More than once, he let slip a few choice words that he had picked up from Cid, and he now bore a set of small cuts on both arms and legs. It didn't help that he could barely cast the smallest of Cure spells now, and even that was barely enough to stop the bleeding.

    Finally, Sora managed to reach what looked like a circular room, according to the small pieces of reflective materials scattered along the curved walls. The brambles were thickest here, and as Sora cut a path into the first five feet of the room, he could make out a figure in the center of the tall pile of the brittle plants. Thick branches wrapped around the being, holding his arms out and above him and pinning his legs together. The left arm glittered golden from the elbow down to the fingertips, and a tattered red cloak was partially visible through the entwined brambles. As Sora slowly hacked his way closer, he realized that the person was a guy who looked 'bout ten to fifteen years older than him with raven-black hair flowing over his shoulders and framing his face. The man's eyes remained closed--in sleep, as Sora deeply hoped--but his face looked so pale and thin...and he didn't even twitch from the loud sounds of hacking and chopping that Sora made.

    When he got close enough, Sora was surprised to hear Kairi sharply inhale in surprise. "I...I know him! I'm sure I've seen him before--before I came to your world! I think he knew me--knew my family before the Darkness swallowed our world. Oh, Sora! We gotta free him!" She cried out as she materialized beside the brunette, only half-there this time. "We can't just leave him like this! He...he's a nice man! I just know he's a nice man who could help us!" She pleaded, fists clenched next to her chest.

    "You sure you know him?" Sora didn't doubt Kairi's judgement when it came to trusting other people; she was pretty good at seperating the liars from the trustworthy. Still...he did wonder...and worry...

    "I'm very sure! I mean, I know I didn't mention anything until now, but...seeing him is helping me remember my past before I met you and Riku. It...it's starting to come back to me--my life on my ol' homeworld. Sora, I know he's a friend of my family, and that he could really use our help right now. Maybe...maybe he could help us find Beast again--or even Riku!"

    Sora thoughtfully eyed the branches wrapped around the slumbering man. If he really was alive--and he probably was--he must be asleep due to magic. Maybe, if he freed this guy...the latter might wake up. And maybe, just maybe, he could really help them find all their friends in repayment for being freed. The main obstacle, though, was that the guy was a lot taller than Sora, and he was being held two feet above the ground as well. There was only one solution, then...

    "Wait here," he told Kairi as he carefully tucked the handle of the torch in-between two intertwining branches to the side. Then, the lad put the blade of his sword in his mouth--making sure that his tongue didn't get splinters, of course--and began to climble the thorny tumble up to the guy's arms, grunting and wincing with every new cut. Once he finally pulled himself up to eye-level, Sora looked at the guy's face for a moment. He really did look like he was sleeping, but he was still so pale and skinny...

    The boy carefully put two fingers on the man's neck, trying to find a pulse just like the way he saw several times on the TV shows back home. A few moments passed, then Sora almost sighed in relief when he felt the mild warmth on the man's skin, as well as the faint rhythm of blood pumping through the veins. Okay, that guy was alive, and not a vampire; VERY good thing to know.

    But, just as Sora gently pulled the blade out of his mouth with his free hand and began positioning himself to start cutting away the brambles on the guy's arms...the guy's face twitched. Then, a moment later, the man groaned a little as he stirred, and Sora stayed very still as he saw two eyes open first the first time since Heavens know how long.

    Sharp, blood-red eyes fluttered open, immediately focusing on Sora's wide, blue eyes.

    This time, Sora did let out a small gasp. He thought only bad guys had red eyes; but Kairi did say that he could help them... She did say that he could be trusted...

    "Who...who are you?" The man half-whispered, half-asked in a mid-range, slightly gravelly voice. "Where...am I?"

    "Uhhh...I'm Sora, and...we're at the bottom of the castle in Hollow Bastion. And, uh," Sora stammered under the other guy's gaze, "I, uh...was gonna free you...with this!" He held up the wooden sword.

    The man blinked, then took a good look at his surroundings. He even gave a tug on his thorny bonds, and there were some crackling and shifting from the branches.

    "Wh-what's your name?" Sora asked.

    The red-eyed man looked back on the lad for a moment, and Sora swore he could see right into his soul, the way those eyes observed every inch of him. "...Vincent. Vincent Valentine. I...I was not supposed to awaken up until a child with a heart of light came and touched me. Or, so I was told, before she put me to sleep..."


    "The sorceress, Maleficent."


    "Yes...she imprisoned me here, believing that no such person could ever reach me within a hundred years." He then looked rather...sad...for a moment. "I wonder how long I've been asleep..."

    "Umm...I dunno...but I can get you out!" Sora offered, holding up his blade for Vincent to see again. "I can cut you out! I mean, I got a heart of light, after all, so I guess I broke the spell by just touching you!" He chuckled--albeit a little nervously.

    "...You're hardly more than a young squire, though," Vincent pointed out with a confused forwn. "How could you make it this far down without being killed? In fact...how did you even come across this world in the first place?"

    "Ah...it's a looong story..." Sora raised his blade in order to cut the branbles on his right arm.

    "Left one first."


    "Free my left arm first--I can use it to help break myself free."

    Sora took a closer look at the arm, and realized that the golden fingers ended in pointy claws. He also noticed that the brambles were thicker on this arm than the other one.

    "Oh, I see... Guess she really didn't want you to break free, huh?"

    "It would seem..." Vincent then suggest, "Perhaps you can tell me your story while you cut my arm free?"

    "Sure!" Sora grinned as he began aiming at a few choice branches. "Well, I guess it all started when..."