MATURE: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War (4)

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    Default Kingdom Hearts: Lost War (4)

    Hoo, boy, I've been working on this fic for a few months now. I just haven't been able to motivate myself to get it ready faster since I was afraid of the content it contains, which is probably rare for a Kingdom Hearts fic. But, it's finally ready.

    Note: The setting is an Alternate Universe Earth in the year 2062. It takes place 20 years before the first Kingdom Hearts game, so the Heartless go by a different name.

    WARNING: Contains content that may be found highly offensive, including direct religious themes, blood and gore, foul language, useage of the N word and possibly other racial slurs, along with some sexual content, possible torture, psychological themes, abuse, etc. None of this is meant to insult any ethnic or religious groups.

    Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    It is said that there are many worlds but they all share the same sky. One sky, one destiny. In fact, there is an entire legend surrounding this. Supposedly, each star is a different world, and when it goes out, it means the world has lost its heart, the embodiment of its light, to the darkness.

    These two concepts, light and darkness. According to legend, the worlds were all once united as one, filled with nothing but light. Everyone loved the light. However, as time passed, people began to argue amongst themselves for greater ownership over the light. They began to fight amongst themselves so that they could hoard it all. And thus, darkness was born in their hearts.

    The fighting spread throughout the worlds, engulfing even those that did not initially participate in the conflict. This “Keyblade War” ravaged every setting, every battlefield it found itself on, fought with mysterious key-shaped weapons that to this day confound and intrigue the greatest of minds. Eventually, things came to a head in one final battle. The darkness born from the hearts in the people nearly consumed the worlds, dooming all.

    But fragments of lights survived. Those lights came from the hearts of the children. Together, the children managed to rebuild the worlds. Much of the light returned. But the darkness did not go away. It has remained a part of the worlds that were rebuilt. There is darkness in every heart, after all. Perhaps even the heart of a world holds darkness within it, much like a person’s heart. Because of this, the worlds were reformed with invisible walls that prevented contact with each other. And so ended an age of oneness.

    The true light, however, sleeps deep within the darkness to this day. One day, a wielder of the Keyblade will find the door to that light. And when that day comes, the light of Kingdom Hearts will wash the darkness away, uniting the worlds once more.

    This is not that story.

    The year was 2062. Earth was in the middle of a modern-day crusade and the worst of hell that had been unleashed upon the planet had yet to fully manifest itself…


    Chapter 1: Day Job

    As a shadow in the shape of a person lay down on his apartment’s bed by the window, he stared up at the ceiling. It was a dull, old room. The bed he was on was ripped in some places, with the inner fabric of the mattress sticking out. The walls were a faded gray, with an equally dreary black ceiling. Both of them had empty patches in places thanks to wear and tear over the years. The television set, a rather small tube compared to the flat screens a few of the other tenants had in their residencies, was placed in one corner of the room, in front of the bed’s foot, disconnected by him before he wrecked it in another one of his “tantrums”. Instead, the laptop on top of the wooden desk right next to the bed was his means of keeping up with the news, now that he no longer had his Uncle’s database for scouting out his next target, though the last time he’d bothered to actually watch television, something had gone on during the news about the President of India’s death or something along those lines.

    “These are some of the worst times we live in…” muttered Vikas as he roused himself. The people in his neighborhood might disagree with him, but it was far from a false statement. After all, aside from a few countries that had the big guns to back up their refusal to participate, the world was in a global scale conflict. Worst part of it would probably be the fact that it was a worldwide religious war.

    Of all things, it had to be because of 2012 coming and going. No earthquakes, no famines, no disasters of that sort ended up occurring at all. There was no Anti-Christ declaring his reign, no cosmic explosion ending all creation and beginning a new cycle, and most definitely no divine man with blue skin and six arms descending to slay demons and start the four era cycle once more.

    Of course, everyone held their breath at the time. It was supposed to be the moment of truth for Earth, when the world ended like the Mayans predicted, or when preachers went about in the streets with their signs and microphones to spread the word that the day would come. In the end, that moment of truth turned out to be false, and sent countless communities into uproar. It was the creation of enough non-believers to plausibly fill up half of Europe’s countries with atheists.

    Of course, behind the scenes, he’d witnessed the corruption and the backstabbing that had occurred when the general populace wasn’t looking. It was hard to imagine that people would actually notice, considering they’d developed a couple of tactics to deal with this sort of issue whenever it came up, like lines of succession. Sometimes, it felt more like the political squabbles held more weight than military victories.

    In fact, it was a surprise that Delhi was so peaceful when he first visited it as a child. There were no fanatics attacking people in the streets, no house or amusement park bombings, no hostage takings and no assassinations. Everywhere was completely peaceful, even taking into account the fact that India was not participating in the war.

    Though, as he also constantly reminded himself bitterly, most people in Delhi hardly thought of the metropolis as he did: a farce. After all, they were victims, not participants, of this global war. That made all the difference. Delhi may have been one of the places in India that the other nations would not dare to touch but everywhere else was fair game. Many citizens had been victims in other parts of the country, although by now residencies had become something to compete for.

    This metropolis and its international counterparts, along with many other historic places, served as “cultural preservations” for the religions that became the subject of the conflict. “Cultural preservations” was far from the correct term of description. They were just crown jewels meant to convince people that there was still hope in the world, that the religion they believed in would unite the Earth and bring peace.

    ‘As if!’ he said to himself. The only mystery he really wondered about, though, was how these fanatics rose to power in the first place. It was something that gnawed at the back of his mind whenever he gave it some thought in his free time.

    Getting out of his bed, Vikas left through the door way to check the rest of his apartment. The floor was clean, but only because he’d taken it upon himself to liven up the place he’d gotten to stay for some time. After all, it was his place to stay, and therefore his responsibility to maintain. The ceiling and walls shared the same scheme of his bedroom. A good house worker he might be, but he was in no need of fixing up the patches of the walls that were peeling off. There was a kitchen off to the right side of the front door and a small living room off to the left whenever someone entered. The kitchen itself wasn’t that much different from most, with a sink, a cupboard below it where the pipes were, a stove on the left with an oven below it and a refrigerator on the right with a door to a freezer above it. The living room had two forest green sofas, both one seat deals, and a window to the outside.

    Thankfully, most of the people on his floor left him alone, allowing him to go about his business unnoticed. The only person he visited often was the old lady two doors down, along with her children. One was a seventeen-year-old student in his last year of high school. The other was a twenty three-year-old currently working as a nurse in a hospital in West Delhi. Other than them, though, he rarely got any visitors.

    The superintendent wasn’t a bad person, either. He didn’t ask too many questions. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that Vikas paid his rent off by working for the man and as an unofficial delivery boy. He knew how to get on a person’s good side, an invaluable skill taught to him by his former guardian. In this particularly close-knit community, it was very easy to earn a few rupees without having to go through the paperwork. If you could get a job done, then your boss didn’t need written proof, which was perfect for him, as he no longer had the identification he would otherwise be required to present.

    As Vikas stepped into his bathroom, he took note of the contrast it stood in compared to the rest of his apartment. The design of the floor and walls was the same as that of the rest of his apartment, except that the sink was a white marble, with a wooden bottom. This same bathroom architectural design also carried over to the tub, at least in terms of the white marble, not that he had any complaints about it. Focusing his gaze on the mirror, he had a look at himself.

    He was a young man of a mere twenty six years and five feet, nine inches, though the current sageness reflected in his dark brown eyes spoke otherwise. Running a hand through his messy brown hair, he snickered at its condition. Most of the time it was fairly presentable, save for the three left-slanted, thin bangs that hung close to his forehead and its neck length at the back, but today it had quite a bit more of an unkempt look to it and a few stray tufts about, not that he was going to bother with combing it.

    Turning the faucet on for some cold water, he splashed it over his face to observe the result. His soaked face, with a bit of a wide mouth was a fairly normal one for a person living in India, though it had some ruggedness to it and still looked a bit young for his age. Upon being satisfied with the part of him most people paid attention to, he checked the rest of him. Flexing his arms and hands, he examined them and ensured that they still had their strength, with the same brown skin found on the rest of his body though with a few jagged scars on them.

    “Well, I don’t need to worry about my legs,” said Vikas, taking bit of pride in the strength of his fairly long legs that contributed to the majority of his height, “so let’s deal with the rest.”

    Removing the skin-tight black tank top he often wore, Vikas had another one of his daily examinations of his torso. While it was well-developed, with a tight six-pack and above-average chest muscle size and tone, it wasn’t as impressive as it would have been without the large tarantula tattoo covering it from his sternum to just above his navel. It was a large, plain green design, looking more like the outline of a tarantula instead of the actual beast. The tattoo wasn’t even complete, having been ruined in certain areas by many large, jagged scars, mostly cuts and burns, though there were a few memorable bullet wounds on the left legs of the spider. Aside from one neat horizontal cut on his stomach, just below his navel, all of them were discolored and sickly, making his torso’s skin color a stark contrast to the rest of him.

    Lookin’ good, Vicky!” said a voice from behind Vikas. He could feel a hand on his left shoulder, and it was a perfectly visible hand at that, with its smooth dark skin. The man standing behind him was his friend from years past, but the youth in his face, darker than Vikas', reflected quite a bit of mirth in the mirror with his large black eyes, round nose and large lips that parted in a wide grin. He also happened to be shirtless, wearing nothing except for a pair of bright blue jeans. It still amazed him to see his friend’s body being much less scarred than his, even a bit more muscular.

    “Shut the fuck up, Queen!” said Vikas with a sudden burst of joyful vigor, turning around while slapping the hand off of his shoulder. “I got enough work to do without your bitch ass annoying me this early in the morning.” Of course, Queen was going to disappear once he was touched and Vikas knew it. Still, it was a good thing he continued to receive visits from the spirits of his long dead brothers. Even if they disappeared at his touch, he knew they’d always be back to see him. It was a bond that transcended even death.

    When he’d gotten himself washed up and ready for the day, Vikas checked the clock on his desk. Thankfully, it was still only 7:30AM. He was glad to still be able to wake up early in the morning without his mother or sister to rouse him from his sleep. Picking up his purple hoodie from his desk chair without paying much attention, he zipped it up and put on his faded black sneakers and single-strap backpack before heading out the door.

    Once out of the building, Vikas headed straight for his job at the convenience store. Walking through the streets of Delhi, being pushed along by the constant crowds of people and with the constant dry scent of flat bread being prepared and consumed following him about, he felt right at home. The world around him was busy, yet relaxed. Most of the people here worked hard to maintain their way of life, what with the restrictions on traveling to this metropolis and taking up residence in one of the diminishing numbers of homes available. It didn’t take too long for him to get to the particular convenience story he’d assigned himself to.

    It was quite a friendly-looking place, with brown tiled floor and walls, not to mention the aisles of goods stacked neatly beside each other, starting with chips to cookies to cooking spices and so on. The two boys working the morning shift greeted him and he returned the gesture, though he paid them no real attention. Checking the store clock, he found it was about a minute after eight.

    Walking through the door next to the cashier, Vikas had a look around the back room. He was hoping to start early and get in some extra money. He wouldn’t have long to wait, as his boss was there, stacking a few things when he turned around.

    “Morning, Vikas! You’re early today!” greeted the owner of the store. He was a bit of a portly old man, with wrinkled dark skin indicating his 60’s-looking age and a square jaw. His skin was darker than Vikas’, having lived in Delhi all his life. The clothes he wore, a beige wool sweater that was surprisingly composed of light material with a black diamond pattern and light brown khaki pants, indicated his love of appearing to be the man in charge.

    Being a poor man for his whole life, he took refuge in the authority he held over the boys that worked under him. That included Vikash, and he made his use of him as extensive as possible, given the boy’s talents.

    “Morning, boss,” said Vikas before clasping his hands and bowing to his elder. As Indians, it was customary for one to respect his elders without question, and respect was one of the things he excelled at. Provided, of course, the elder in question really was worth it and was more than simply a business partner. Otherwise, they would be speaking as equals. He wasn’t in one of his homesick moods today, though, so he wasn’t regretting having to speak in Hindi again thanks to the man’s poor English.

    The back room served as a storehouse for everything that they put up for sale in the shop. It was quite spacious, with shelves filled to the brim this week, but the lights were off at the moment, being that they were only there for one particular item. While there was room for the newspapers being sold, a good number of them went into Vikash’s backpack. Once they assured that it had a set of fifteen papers rolled up and tied stuffed in, they took a flight of stairs to the roof.

    The air surrounding the two was warm, given that it was still very early in the morning, compared to what it would become later in the day, making it a perfect time to begin the deliveries. The rooftops of this particular neighborhood were beige flats, though a few of them had domes in the center. Something about air, he recalled.

    “Okay, son,” said the owner, “take off!”

    “You got it, boss!” said Vikas as he walked backward to get a nice running start. Thanks to all his parkour and free running training, he didn’t have to ride a bicycle down below in the streets, where he was at constant risk of crashing into people or vehicles. In fact, his employer was quite happy that his latest grunt was capable of getting newspapers and other packages delivered faster than any other carrier boy he’d ever hired.

    Finally getting to one end of the rooftop, Vikash broke into a sprint. Upon reaching the edge, he took a leap. Even though it was across the street, the building he was headed for was shorter, allowing him to make a safe landing.

    Going into a roll to disperse the impact, he quickly got to his feet with the remaining force of the jump, running off to make the early morning rounds. As he continued on his course, he couldn’t help but think back to the days of his youth, when his friends were still just high school students chasing each other across town…

    ***

    Elsewhere in Delhi, in the quiet peace of Akshardham, a man was busy at work. Though, considering that it was a temple complex he was in, “work” had an entirely different meaning. At the moment, he was more of an invisible man wandering the grounds unbeknownst to the monks managing the place.

    Though he had no need to pay attention to such a religious site, even he, a man who had long abandoned his faith, couldn’t help but take in his surroundings. On all sides, quite a distance away, were temple walls, each with outcroppings around their centers. At the top of each edge was a pointed dome. Moving his invisible head around, he took in the grounds. Since it was still some time before nine o’ clock, the monks were busy cleaning and setting the place up for the morning services. With the remodeling that the grounds were given several decades back, the white stone floor had been given a green lotus pattern over it, adding to the spiritual feeling. In fact, he could even smell the scent of lotus flowers all over.

    ‘Looks like they’re already gotten things underway,’ thought the invisible man. He took a look at the fountain he stood in front of. It was a magnificent piece of art in and of itself. As India’s largest step well, it was amazing enough on its own, but it also served as a fountain. There were eight large circular openings surrounding the main fountain serving the function as pools for the minor fountains to pour their water into during nightly festivities. Were it not for the fact that this was the morning and that there weren’t many people coming in yet, the fountain would be glowing with special lights and echoing with music in worship of their Hindu deities.

    None of that drew him to the fountain, however. While he did appreciate its artistic beauty, he was no religious man. In fact, as someone who was quite against such foolish notions of faith being the most powerful weapon, he would be all too willing to destroy this temple complex and all other religious sites in the world, were it not for the political incorrectness of such an action, not to mention what his loved ones and especially his allies would think of him.

    What did bring him here was the center fountain. As he leaped silently onto it, he took a seat in the center, with his legs folded. No one would ever know of what secret lay beneath this structure.

    As he turned on the comms device attached to his ear, he smiled. “Om Namashiwaya…”

    With that little whisper, the bottom of the main fountain opened up, and he fell through it. Down the proverbial rabbit hole he went, for the umpteenth time. It hadn’t been too long since his last visit to this particular base, so it wasn’t likely that they would’ve changed passwords yet.

    Eventually, the tunnel he slid down revealed its opening, allowing him to land on his feet on the floor. As he no longer felt threatened, he loosened his control over his appearance, becoming visible once more. Upon completing that little order of business, he had a look around at his surroundings as he strolled around.

    Walking down one of the hallways, it was quite easy to mistake this base for an underground hospital. It certainly had the smell of one, or at least the section that held the babies. The walls were made of white tiles with black lotuses. The floor was a simple gray. It usually had the effect of getting the employees to focus on their tasks and pay more attention to the walls and what was ahead of them instead of shyly looking down.

    While taking his walk, he gave some thought as to what he probably looked like after being essentially dropped down that long tunnel. His black cloak probably still held together, with his hood still on top. That hood concealed both his long gray hair and his aged, wrinkled face, casting a shadow over it. The rest of his figure was that of a tall, but lean man whose age was hidden beneath his black cloak. Said cloak was almost form-fitting right up to the sleeves. Many would call him vain, but he liked to imagine his appearance quite a bit at odd times.

    After his little “stroll” down the hallway, he came to the area of the base where things were actually being done. Around here, the general design remained the same, but there were now a few metallic sliding doors open and shut.

    One of these was the communications room, and it was his destination. Walking up to the door triggered the scanner, as it made a text request on the panel next to the door for his hand. Removing the black glove from his right hand, he placed it on the scanner. After a few seconds, he was cleared, and the door slid open.

    Upon walking in, he found a satisfying level of activity going on. Unlike the halls, this room looked very lively, with several large computer screens at the end and large numbers of people sitting at their desks working on their own computers.

    As he walked to the front of the room, past the faceless men and women in their standard black and white uniforms with their fingers clacking away at their keyboards, he heard a voice from behind him.

    “My friend, it is good to see you again!”

    Hafez didn’t need to look behind him to determine who it was that was speaking. Once the man had placed himself right next to him, he turned towards him.

    He was quite a tall man, around his own height, with a graying mustache and beard, and a tidy haircut. His gaze dropped to his friend’s brown trench coat pockets in which his hands were usually placed. His shoes were their usual black as always and properly laced. The poor man’s face was fairly wrinkled and had lost some of its tan from having had to work out of his home country for the past few decades. At the very least he had a small smile on his face.

    “So, how’ve you been, Bashar?” asked Hafez.

    “Quite alright, Hafez. It was nice to see Syria for a bit before returning to work,” answered Bashar. “And yourself?”

    “Oh, I’ve been pretty well off myself. Just that it tends to be a pain in the ass managing all of this,” said Hafez.

    “And I assume that means you’re just referring to how difficult searching for your nephew has been?”

    “Correct. It’s quite irritating, but that’s beside the matter of the moment. I’d like to know how your vacation was.”

    Bashar gave him one of his little smiles. “It was very refreshing. Particularly Damascus. My only complaint is that in spite of the restoration work they’ve done, some of the last cluster bombs did some irreparable damage to our historical sites.”

    “My apologies.” Hafez looked down for a moment before raising his head once more with a bit of an excited smile. “Oh, yeah, did the historical parts of the city still look like they did from the first game with the assassins?”

    That question alone was enough to turn Bashar’s smile into a frown and the rest of his face into a look of deep-seated anger, with the way his eyebrows furrowed and how his teeth parted, revealing how tightly he was clenching them. Were it not for that look on his friend’s face, Hafez would have laughed a little, but he knew what Bashar’s expression was for. He knew what was coming next.

    As soon as Bashar raised his hand, he knew where it would be coming down on in a few seconds. Considering the stinging of his face, he was correct. Not that it would stop there.

    Once Hafez’s face had been turned by the slap, Bashar sunk his fist into his gut, leaving him kneeling on the floor clutching his stomach tightly as he gasped for air. Only Bashar could ever get away with a stunt like that by virtue of being a friend. That, and Hafez respected his dedication to his faith and not having it being lightly joked, though he’d take care of that soon.

    “I’m sorry, very sorry for saying that,” grunted Hafez, “but I just can’t help it. I’ll try not to do it again.”

    “You had better not,” said Bashar. “I still cannot believe it. The fate of our planet lies in the hands of a video gaming nerd.” One of the irritants Hafez had faced when he began his friendship with Bashar was forcefully exposing him to old video games, comics, anime, manga and other petty distractions that made up the majority of the man’s hobbies. Still, his friend knew when to give credit where credit was due, and he had to admit that these so-called “distractions” had in fact given Hafez much of his advanced intellect and his imagination.

    “Well, if you would just stop to take these things more as serious business, you would understand exactly wh-mmph!” began Hafez with a pant, before he was cut off by Bashar’s squeezing of his lips. With a disappointed muffled sigh, he quieted himself and turned back to face the large monitors once more.

    Once he was assured of Hafez’s silence, or so it seemed, Bashar turned around to leave the room. “I will return shortly. In the meantime, just wait here for me.”

    Now by himself again, Hafez fixed his gaze on the information flowing down the screen like a slow waterfall. Often, little things like this would entrance him, leaving him unable to properly concentrate on whatever he was supposed to be directing his attention to. Right now, he was deep in thought, pondering his own situation in life at the moment. It took some time, but he finally managed to take notice of the hand on his shoulder.

    “Well, now, don’t you look troublesome today,” said the man standing behind him. This particular person was a Caucasian source of annoyance to him, with his large, buff physique, ruffled black hair, blue eyes, crooked nose and wide grin. The there was the issue of the fact that Hafez would not have been reminded of said physique were it not for his being shirtless.

    “Morning, Gregory,” said Hafez nonchalantly without turning around, “now what the fuck brings you to light so early?” He knew that he was beginning to get a few stares from the employees. They couldn’t see Gregory, being blind to his hallucinations, but he was certain they knew when to stop themselves from giving their commander odd looks. It was something that could set him off if he was having the wrong kind of hallucination, and Gregory was one of them.

    “Just wanting to bother my favorite little Al Qaeda nerd,” said Gregory with a cheerful grin. Hafez could easily see through it, though. Unfortunately, even he couldn’t avoid his impulses and turned around to face him. That ear-to-ear grin pressed against his face, beneath his down-turned eyebrows was enough of a giveaway.

    “Haven’t you learned anything yet about tolerance?”

    Gregory laughed at this question. “Aww, my girlfriend used to say you looked soooo cute whenever you got pissy at me and got your ass handed to you, little fucker! Like when I pounded you in the back of the head with the school football or when we stole your books and jumped you in the bathroom. All you tried to do was make lame comebacks and try to slap us!”

    Hafez growled. “And so what if I did? I’m still the better man today. Now fuck off.”

    “Oh, no way you’re the better man! I’ve been hearing about how things have gone with you and your nephews. Didn’t you off them? And how about this last one! You couldn’t keep him tied up with a ball and chain if you tried! You suck! You sucked as a tough guy, and now you suck as a foster parent, punk!”

    “Shut up!” He’d had enough of that man’s mockery, of the belittling tone in which he spoke. He was not a failure of a foster parent. He was not an Al Qaeda nerd. Most of all, he was not going to fail to bring his nephew home safely.

    Even these thoughts raging inside of his head weren’t enough. He had to punctuate his response. No amount of shouting would do on its own. But action would be a perfect supplement to a simple “shut up”.

    Raising his right hand, Hafez grimaced beneath his hood. Reeling it back, his hand glowed with a faint white light before he spun around and pushed forward, firing a blast of compressed air at Gregory. He already knew that it was a pointless attempt. Most of all, he knew that Gregory was going to return, or if not, then someone else from his high school years would come back to haunt him.

    But perhaps he had little idea at the moment of how unaware he was of who was behind his tormentor. He was still a human being, after all, and most of them tended to stop caring about anything when they flew into a rage.

    Such was the nature of the situation Hafez found himself in when he heard shouts and screams coming from the employees. When he saw that one of the men was on the floor, bleeding and with singed clothes from a destroyed computer, he cringed.

    “Oh, my God!” he cried out, hurrying to the injured man and dropping to his knees. “I am so sorry! Are you badly hurt?!”

    “Yes, sir,” groaned the man. Hafez hadn’t intended to get carried away when he attacked Gregory, but he couldn’t help himself. Still, right now was not the time for trying to pin the blame onto someone else. What was needed was for him to give medical attention to another one of his recent victims.

    Raising his right hand skyward, he summoned a sword. It was quite different from any other sword out there. Instead of being a normal one with a hilt, guard and the blade, it was a deep black hilt with an equally black guard made of feathers. What constituted the “blade” of this sword was a series of black wings criss-crossing toward a point at the end. By his estimations it was about four feet in length, just like his nephew’s weapon. What constituted the feature he liked to call the “teeth” was some sort of sharp, streamlined silver beak.

    Hafez pointed his “Keyblade” at his charge. Almost immediately, the tip of the weapon emitted a purple light, along with the injured man. As soon as the light faded from both weapon and human, his injuries had healed completely, though there was no accounting for the blood loss.

    Once he seemed to realize that the man was going to remain in the world of the living, Hafez let go of him, pulled him to his feet by his hands and walked him out. Everyone knew to grab a new set of clothes whenever situations involving stained clothes were involved, as covered in the handbook.

    Once everyone had calmed down and resumed work, Hafez left the communications room and leaned against the outside wall next to the door. He had time now to contemplate his actions, and they certainly weren’t the kind of things he liked to do. Remembering the wrong messages he’d sent over the years with his behavior tended to do things to his face, such as make him frown. He wasn’t a bad person, just someone with an ideal and the means to achieve it, with a bit of a temper added in. Or so he liked to believe, if his light was anything to go by. Just like his nephew. If anything, the fact that the two of them were very much alike was a source of some comfort for him.

    After some time of self-reflection, he heard footsteps approaching. Looking up, he saw Bashar approaching him, with one of his frowns. Evidently, he must have seen the injured man on his way back from wherever he’d been, and that only meant one thing.

    “So,” he said, “I heard you caused another incident in the communications room.”

    “Well, hold on,” said Hafez, waving his arms in protest, “I was just in a trance and then Gregory came back to bug me! It’s not my fau-“

    He was stopped once again, only this time by Bashar’s hand being held up. Among people who Hafez tended to speak to very quickly, Bashar was usually the last person left who was capable of calming him down with a simple hand gesture, except whenever he was holding a discussion with a business partner. Though, as he recalled, such occurrences were rare.

    “I would have thought,” said Bashar with narrowing eyes, “that you would have learned to control your temper by now. Did you not tell me during our last meeting that you were dealing with your problems, particularly Gregory? It would appear that you were lying.”

    “Come, now, Bashar,” said Hafez, “you couldn’t possibly be thinking that. Haven’t I already told you that he was the worst of the lot? I’m trying to ignore him, but he keeps hitting my berserk button.”

    “As commander of this organization, you should know better than to act on petty high school memories. I was led to believe that you were going to shape up. Some of the employees are beginning to consider you a sociopath and I trust you have learned from your history with your children.”

    Hafez removed his hood. With his face revealed, he gave Bashar a frown. Of course, it was clear to him that Bashar could see the spite hidden beneath that simple look, even if he didn’t show it. That ended his side of the discussion.

    “Listen, I’m not as dumb as I seem. I just don’t like the idea of acting like a constant professional man all the time. Sure, maybe I have screwed up at times, but do you see the situations all over the world? Have we lost control of them? Have we?”

    Bashar said nothing. He must have already known the answer to that, else he would have protested in an instant.

    Hafez paused for a moment, then put a hand on Bashar’s shoulder. “Look, I know that my idea for a unit of beasts failed, but come on… have my back here, okay?”

    Bashar sighed. “Alright, I’m sorry for joking about that. But there is another issue to deal with; that being whether or not you’ve remembered that you should be asking me what the situation is in the world. Such as the most important subjects at hand?”

    “Bastard!” said Hafez, grinning as he gave his friend a light punch in the shoulder. “Alright, fine, what’s the top priority?”
    “I thought you would never ask.” Bashar led them back into the communications room.

    Not much had changed in the short time they’d been gone, but the occasional look of fear was still there. It was actually a mixed blessing that Hafez still had “tantrums” like these, allowing his employees to remember who they were working for. If they still thought him insane, at least his behavior would keep them from speaking out.

    “Alright,” said Bashar, “for now, there is nothing too important for you to hear of yet, except that the current President of India has been killed.”

    “I know that,” replied Hafez, “and I know that it was quite a convenient time for his Prime Minister. It was on the news about how he’s under suspicion. I hear they weren’t getting along. Is that true?”

    “Yes, and it’s most certainly a cause for concern. He certainly isn’t one of us, and we are now under risk of exposure if he knows about us. If it was him that assassinated the man, then probability dictates that it might be because he discovered the President’s membership in our organization.” Bashar sighed and ran a hand through his hair. It was clear that he was leaning toward the decision that they were both about to agree on.

    “So, we’re taking no chances? Leaving no stone unturned?” Hafez smiled at Bashar, nibbling at the morsel of self-satisfaction he got from making predictions about people’s behavior.

    “Exactly. The only thing to question is who we should send to assassinate him.”

    “Now this is where I wish we still had Vicky. He’d get the job done in just a few hours.”

    “Best not to live in the past, Hafez.” Bashar put an arm around his shoulder and smiled at him. “We should just work with what we have now.”

    “We can decide that over breakfast, though, right?” Hafez clutched his stomach and grinned. It just occurred to him that he hadn’t eaten anything at all this morning and his hunger was finally getting to him.

    “Discussing death while stomaching food? I believe we can digest first and then work out the gory details. Let’s get something.” Bashar walked toward the door motioning for Hafez to follow.

    As he left, he lost himself in thoughts of how much life had changed for him in the past sixty or so years. Compared to the days he spent being bullied in high school, he was having the time of his life. It amazed him even now, what with new surprises popping up around the corner.

    ‘Still, though,' he thought,'I wish he’d understand my position. I saved him from those false friends of his and he repays me with the same treatment my old classmates gave me.’

    ***

    Most people aren’t used to getting their mail and their newspapers delivered to them on their rooftops and through their windows. Often, tossing the goods over the fence as it is done in the suburbs, shoving it under the door in apartments, or walking up flights of stairs to hand them to one’s clients face to face, as is done among friends in a neighborhood will suffice.

    But, as Vikas had proven, they could adjust quite easily when it came to such a mundane occurrence, even if it was quite important to them. This morning was no different as he made his way back to the store. He was running across the rooftops on his usual route. At the moment, the particular rooftop he stood on had two other buildings next to it on either side. Most of the buildings were arranged so that at least two were right next to each other, and Delhi was known for the way its structures could be so close and yet so far away from each other. Such was the case with this series of buildings. He was climbing up from one of the shadowed balconies where he’d left his client’s newspaper, but as he proceeded to continue on his way, he spotted something on the rooftop below him.

    Two little black men looking like they were fooling around on the rooftops, a rare sight in India, being that Vikas was one of the very few who practiced parkour. Though, with their small stature, they shouldn’t have been able to arrive up here, considering that their particular rooftop was devoid of any normal entrance.

    Upon closer inspection however, he cursed himself for not realizing what they were right away.

    The fucking Black Hearts. Their actual name was just “Black Hearts”. “Fucking” was an addition Vikas made to their title, with nothing to do about their non-existent sex lives. As far as Uncle had educated him, these creatures were born of the darkness in people’s hearts, and that a person could become one if they ever succumbed to their own darkness.

    These two in particular looked a step up from the midgets he was used to fighting. Their shapes were vaguely those of children, about three or four feet, give or take. What scared most people to death, though, was the inky blackness of their bodies, and their beady yellow eyes. In the case of these two, their antennae were much longer than their shorter cousins, to the point where they curved backwards behind their bodies.

    “If I remember, these boys are Brother Shadows,” muttered Vikas, observing the pair from the edge. Judging by the way they kept leaning forward, creeping toward the ledge of their rooftop, they were about to pounce on some poor victim in the streets below. And the onlookers, not to mention the police, would be unable to do a thing about it.Not if he had anything to say about it.

    Leaping down from the ledge he stood on, Vikas landed a mere few feet away from them. His sudden arrival certainly startled them enough that they wouldn’t be leaving him anytime soon. In fact, they were doing just the opposite.

    The pair began creeping up on him, taking small, slow steps. Judging by the way they were lowering their hands to the floor, they were about to leap onto him as they loved doing to their prey. This called for the usual method of dealing with the pests.

    In a flash of black and white bits of glowing cobwebs appeared a handle. It was certainly no ordinary handle either, with its obviously web-like appearance along with the guard, one side black and the other white. From this a strand of white webbing emerged, forming a shaft with several blades jutting out in a curved fashion. The tip of the weapon ended in a spearhead, then developed “teeth” on the side in the shape of spider and tiger fangs, before coming down and forming a second shaft. Unlike the other, white shaft, this one’s blades pointed downward and were perfect in condition, as opposed to the fractured state of the white ones.

    He knew what they were thinking. Even as the Brother Shadow on his right leaped into the air to pounce on him, he already understood that their instincts told them to destroy this man holding a Keyblade. Not that it would matter to him, given that he timed a hard horizontal swing in tune with the beast’s movements, sending it flying to his left.

    It was only natural that the creature wouldn’t surrender, though it probably would have preferred taking that option before he pointed his hand at it, firing a blast of compressed air at it that punctured its body.

    As it observed its partner burst into small shreds, the remaining Brother Shadow turned towards Vikash. If it could express emotions instead of staring at him with its empty yellow eyes, it would probably be angry for an instant at the loss of a comrade. But just for an instant.

    Immediately, the creature leaped at him, hands extended, obviously not appearing to have learned that such a maneuver failed when its partner attempted it. If he had a moment, Vikash would have sighed. It was a shame that he had to fight such pitiful little things with whom he held quite a bit in common.

    With a quick, short back flip, Vikas managed to acquire the necessary distance between them. Dismissing his weapon in a flash of light, he got to work casting his magic upon the helpless Heartless. It started as a dark purple, flame like aura emanating from both of their bodies, and the Brother Shadow stopped dead in its tracks.

    If it could display any possible emotions, fear would be the one most likely to be expressed right now. After all, the magic Vikash was casting was named “Fear” and its effects were apparent upon his victim. It went from looking ready to stick its claws through the flesh covering his heart to backing away in cowardice.

    “Let’s go, nigga, c’mon!” said Vikas, beckoning with his hand for the Brother Shadow to come closer. It obeyed, taking nervous, jittery steps toward him, with its claws folded, almost as though praying to some deity for its life. Heartless of that kind tended to do that a lot whenever Vikas cast this spell on them; it often caused him to wonder whether or not they had a religion of their own that they followed.

    “You don’t look so happy, nigga,” said Vikas, pulling the creature into a hug. Though startled, the Brother Shadow made no move to hurt him. As far as its senses could tell, they were both beings of pure darkness at the moment. No need to harm a brother. At least, that was what Uncle had taught him.

    “You good, little man? You seem pretty tired.” It was clear that he wasn’t going to receive any response from the creature, it being a Black Heart, not that he cared for one in the first place. It didn’t matter whether or not the Black Heart understood the social conventions of man, especially when they weren’t even treated as such.

    As he slowly pushed the Brother Shadow away, Vikas raised his hand high, almost as though offering his company a high five, before bringing it down with a slap to its face. It backed away with fast, awkward steps, causing it to trip and fall on its back.

    “Of course you’re not tired. You’re just scared, ain’t that right? Well, my friend, I’m givin’ you one chance to come out of this situation alive. You get your black ass out and never come back or I do it for you and free up them hearts you ate. I’m givin’ you five seconds. Five.”

    Of course, five seconds was far too generous for his companion, given that his magic had been given more than enough time to set in. Almost immediately after hearing the word five, it dashed off, flattening itself into the ground and faded away. Knowing how easily such a spell could have long-term effects even on beings born of darkness, it most likely wouldn’t bother anyone again for some time.

    As his guard eased, Vikas took a seat on the ground. His breath became slightly ragged. It was a side effect of his shifting back and forth between darkness and light so quickly, something he was unable to train out. It had been turning more into a danger recently, given that he no longer had his brothers in physical form to bail him out if he couldn’t even stand. Looking to the fully risen sun looming over the horizon, he sighed.

    Sitting down and crossing his legs, he contemplated the reason for any Black Hearts to be up and about in broad daylight. It wasn’t like them to do such a thing. While there had been other sightings in other parts of Delhi, this was the first time he’d found any in the morning. Something about it just didn’t add up.

    Vikas looked at the sun, which had now properly risen, and the horizon it loomed over. It felt as though he was a regular soldier in the army who had just left the house after collecting his mother’s blessings. It was not a feeling he enjoyed, given the circumstances he was in. Better to keep her and the rest of his family out of danger. Frowning, he looked at his feet and closed his eyes as he felt a few tears emerging.

    “Ma, I promise, someday I’ll put an end to all this…”
    Last edited by The Booty Warrior; 19th January 2012 at 06:57 PM.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

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    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    I don't know a thing about Kingdom Hearts, but I really enjoyed reading this, so take that as a compliment. Vikash is an incredibly deep character even this early on as far as I can tell. I enjoy your writing style and your level of description is awesome.

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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Many thanks, Legs. I really appreciate it. I was actually afraid I was laying the description on too thick.

    BTW, does anyone get the reference from Hafez and Bashar's names?
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Whew, it's taken some time, but at least it's just under a month instead of five this time.

    Chapter 2: Early Schemes

    If he had to think about what he wanted to do, Hafez would be considering the possibility of searching out his nephew and bringing him back into the fold. Though, thanks to the doughnuts he was eating, this conflicted with his body’s desire to simply slump back in his chair next to Bashar, lost in thoughts and wishes of doing this for an eternity.

    “Ugh,” groaned Hafez, “what are we doing again? I forgot after the fifth doughnut.”

    “We’re eating doughnuts, debating on whether or not you are taking your job as commander of this organization seriously, and who to send as our assassin against the Prime Minister, among other things,” said Bashar, poking Hafez in the stomach with his knuckles.

    “‘Ey, s-s-stop that shit, man!” cried Hafez, barely containing the full force of his laughter before tumbling out of his chair and landing on his back. He could already hear Bashar snickering at this turn of events, though it didn’t bother him that much anymore. It wasn’t as though he was being made the butt of a joke every so often, and Bashar was someone who could get away with many things, insulting him being one of them.

    “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” said Bashar. It was true that even Bashar had to have some fun once in a while that was of his own accord, though potentially ruining his friend’s reputation in such a manner was going a bit too far, even by Hafez’s standards. Fortunately, no one else beside them happened to be in the same area.

    After getting to his feet and brushing himself off, he took one last look at his surroundings. They were currently in the cafeteria; it was comparable to those of university cafeterias in order to house the many people who worked here. The floor was a complete black, with light blue walls. The ceiling was a pure white, one of Hafez’s weird tastes. There were rectangular tables, square tables and circular tables spread out and even more tables set aside for the food that people would be taking. The entirety of the cafeteria where the food was and where the employees would eat was all on one end, with the front entrances on the opposite end.

    Almost as if on cue with his rising to his feet, an announcement went up all over the base through the intercom.

    “Will the commander report to his office to collect a package…” droned the mechanical voice over the intercom. When the base was first built, it was Bashar’s idea to have the computer utilize a voice like the one just now to keep things somewhat professional, though things had been difficult with Hafez’s protest. Eventually, they managed to set things up so that even Hafez, with all of his powers and access to the entire network, could not tamper with it into something from one of his favorite video games.

    Hafez sighed. “Oh, man, I hope I didn’t get into trouble again.”

    Bashar gave him a slap on the back as he too rose from his chair. “Knowing you, it’s probably because you left one of your handhelds in the bathroom again. Chance are that it was found stuck in the toilet or misplaced somewhere else.”

    Hafez grabbed Bashar by the shoulders and began pushing him backwards. “That’s not funny, Bashar! I was playing an old game with a completely new save file and I just got to the halfway pooiiiint! You know how hard it is catching every single mon available to me as I travel along?!” His face turned into an exaggerated face of fear as he started hopping up and down, with slightly shrunken pupils, lower lips bent to showcase the flesh on the inside and eyebrows raised high enough they were probably racing with each other into his hair.

    Bashar continued to snicker, evidently enjoying this mockery of Hafez’s videogames. It was these little things that he did that made Hafez occasionally question their friendship. Most of the time Bashar was being harmless, but his jokes could occasionally cut deep under the skin.

    “Well, never mind that. I’ll just have to go and see what this is all about,” said Hafez as he fixed his chair and headed for the front entrance.

    Bashar hurried his pace until he was next to Hafez. “I’ll be going with you.”

    Hafez sighed in exasperation, rearing his head backwards. “You still think I’m going to try and mess with the computer’s voice?”

    The reaction he got was another frown from Bashar. “Absolutely, given the several hundred times you’ve made that attempt before.”

    “That’s an exaggeration. I could count less than two hundred,” said Hafez, folding his arms across his chest.

    “Fine, but I think your bizarre tastes had gone far enough by then,” responded Bashar as they left the cafeteria. “And how does ‘less than two hundred’ sound any better?”

    “Bizarre tastes?” asked Hafez. “I was going to change that creepy monotone to something friendlier! Preferably something along the lines of one of those sweet-hearted voice actors. And I was speaking in relative terms.”

    “If you don’t mind me saying, that decision of mine was to keep the employees focused on work. And the technology you brought back just to replicate as many voice actors as possible has to be some of the most useless things to spend time on that I have ever seen.”

    Hafez couldn’t help but snicker at this. “Now look who’s got bizarre tastes! You know how scared people get whenever that voice goes on? And I liked that technology! Frankly, I think you’re just still acting like you don’t appreciate the things I put time and effort into! Are you a sour supporter? Are you?” He punched Bashar on the arm.

    “Fine, I will concede for now,” said Bashar as he massaged the smashed arm, “but I still refuse to allow you to change that voice. What we have now will suffice.”

    “Jerk. I fail to see any sense in that troll logic. If you’re admitting I’m right, how the hell can continuing to prevent me from doing something about it seem logical…”

    Their bickering had kept them occupied all the way to Hafez’s office. Upon opening the door, they found it in the same condition as always.

    The room was quite spacious, with several TVs set aside on the right side of the entrance for videogame consoles. To the left were two large wardrobes that held both sets of clothes and a large collection of videogames. The floor was tiled white and surprisingly clean. The walls were the same color as the floor, if maybe a few shades darker, and the ceiling was an ink black, probably as a way of contrasting something going on in Hafez’s head that even he didn’t properly understand.

    Right in front of the two was a wooden desk. It was a rather ordinary shade of brown, with a rectangular shape. On the side opposite of theirs would be a few drawers for storing anything that needed to be saved for later. On top of the desk were a few papers, a small container for pens and pencils, and a laptop.

    None of these things were of any interest to Hafez, however. What did get his attention, aside from his handheld gaming device on the laptop, was a small collar. It was an inky black with a bulge on the part that disconnected two ends of the collar.

    “Ah,” said Hafez, “Looks like they might have found someone worth looking into!”

    Picking up the collar, he pulled the fabric covering the bulge to reveal a tiny lens. Even at a close glance it could be hard to tell sometimes, what with how dark the device was, but there were also several small holes around the lens. This was one of his favorite devices to make use of. They fit well onto the Black Hearts he assigned them to and were nearly impossible to see, making the object of the recording unaware that he was saying and showing things to an unknown party. As a form of insurance, these devices were personally enchanted by Hafez himself to disappear along with the Black Heart holding it should the creature be destroyed.

    Pressing both sides of the bulge, he clicked it open and removed a small flash drive from it. He then dropped the device back onto the desk, placed his handheld on a corner, and flipped open his laptop. It was black, with a silver interior. The keys were all black, though they had a “light up” function whenever the laptop was turned on.

    After settling into his chair, with Bashar standing behind him to watch over his shoulder, he pressed the power button on his laptop. While it was booting up, he inserted the flash drive into one of the slots on the side. After it reached the startup screen, he typed his password in.

    “What do you think it will show us?” he heard Bashar ask.

    “Honestly,” said Hafez while setting up the video, “I don’t know, but if it got what I wished for, then we should hopefully be on to something.”

    “If that’s the case, I would have imagined you being more excited at the prospect of finding him.”

    “Well, I’ve learned not to get my hopes up when it comes to expectations with that boy and his confrontational nature.” Hafez frowned a bit. Vikas was more than confrontational. He could be downright ferocious at times, almost like a tiger pouncing on a rhinoceros. Even if what he had planned could feasibly work, it would require his nephew’s cooperation, something not likely to happen since the events that transpired two months ago.

    After being set up and buffered, the video began playing. At first, there was nothing interesting happening, only the Brother Shadow who’d held the collar looking around on one of Delhi’s rooftops with its partner. But with a sudden spin, they were now staring at a man in a purple hoodie and black jeans.

    The man didn’t even have to say anything yet. Hafez already had a pretty good idea of who he was. But in mere moments, he’d summoned a weapon. Once it was in full view, he hit the pause button.

    It was the same shape, about four feet in blade length, divided into white and black halves. This was all the proof he needed. The only person who held a Keyblade like that was Vikas. He’d nailed him down. It was a surprise that the two of them ended up being in the same area. In fact, he might have considered it a blessing, were he still living his days out as a Muslim.

    “So,” asked Bashar, “have you decided on your next course of action?”

    At the moment, that was a plan that could be invented later. What was important right now was getting an honest answer out of Bashar.

    “When we were younger and in our prime,” said Hafez, “was I a bishonen?”

    Turning around, he could see Bashar’s face contorting in an attempt to stifle his laughter. It was to be expected. While some of the things he said could set his friend off, this was more along the lines of something ridiculous and unbelievable; he was worried more about his appearance than what to do about his nephew.

    “E-excuse me?” asked Bashar between short bursts of laughter. “You want me to remember if you were a bishonen? Well, I suppose you were, as long as I was.”

    Hafez gave him a light punch in the stomach. “Alright, alright, thanks. And it’s b-EE-shonen, like a bee, not b-I-shonen the way you say the word bisexual.”

    “What, did I get the pronunciation wrong again?”

    “Yes, you did, Bashar. Now, are you going to forget again?”

    “No, Hafez, it’s b-ee-shonen,” said Bashar, shaking his head slowly.

    “Good,” said Hafez, rising from his chair with a smile. “I think now we can go back to spelling it as bishonen, rather than the dictionary styled pronunciation.”

    “What spelling?” asked Bashar. “We’ve been speaking this whole time. When were we spelling out the pronunciation for the word?”

    “I dunno, someone in my head told me to.”

    Bashar’s eyes narrowed as his mouth opened and widened. “Someone? You meant something. People cannot exist inside one’s mind and command them.”

    Hafez shrugged his shoulders. “Well, who knows what compelled me to say that, you know? Anyways, now that I know that it’s possible to meet Vicky in person, it’s time to make a phone call sometime soon. Probably at night or something, like seven o’ clock?”

    “Try eight thirty,” said Bashar.

    “Will do.” It was easier to contain his excitement over making contact with Vikas than it was over catching those Olympus-level mons. They would put up a fight, but it wouldn’t kill him. His nephew, on the other hand, now that was a very real threat to his safety, not to mention everything he’d spent his life working for.

    ***

    By this time, the sun had set pretty far. It was nearly the end of February and almost into March. For Vikas, it wasn’t much of an issue that it was still winter. He lived in Dehli, after all, and he already had a fairly high tolerance to the cold weather that did come to the metropolis.

    At the moment, Vikas was walking home. He’d done extra delivery work today, taking over an absent employee’s shift. That would be enough money to last him for the rest of the month. Though he’d have to collect it at the end of the week, as it was only Wednesday, he was looking forward to relaxing over the weekend. Once Sunday rolled around, he’d be going to Akshardham to take his turn playing the drums during the morning prayer service.

    Looking around him, he took in the notable decrease in activity as the day headed to a close. Despite the fact that people finished work around five o’ clock, which was the current estimated time since he’d been following the length of the days since the solstice, they wouldn’t be appearing in massive droves. In about an hour or less, that would no longer be the case. Luckily, he’d managed to finish his day’s work soon enough to be allowed to head home a bit earlier than his usual six o’ clock.

    With this rare moment of peace, Vikas gave some more thought to his situation. Here he was living in an apartment building two months after the last of his brothers were slaughtered. Deciding on when he’d make his first move was a difficult process. Even with all the time he’d had to plan and the extensive knowledge he had of Uncle’s operations, he was essentially walking through a minefield with a rudimentary mine detector. He hadn’t been able to update the database stored on his laptop since the incident, so he had no clue as to when he should act. Even daring to enter the base under Akshardham was dangerous, as even if Uncle still cared for him enough that he’d spare his life, if he wasn’t in that particular base when he infiltrated it, it would be a “shoot to kill” situation in the event he were to be discovered.

    ‘Damn, doing this whole thing all by myself turned out to be harder than I thought it would actually be…’ thought Vikas. It was a major source of anger that was being quietly suppressed at the moment for him. Here he was, fighting on his own to seek justice for his dead brothers against Uncle, and he didn’t even know where to start. It almost made his entire predicament laughable. Almost, that is. Were it not for his favorite neighbors, he would have probably ridiculed himself for even thinking of attempting such a feat.

    After all, Uncle’s organization was in league with several nations’ special forces, not to mention the CIA and other international groups in that same vein. They even had a few folks high up that kept an eye on the world economy and laundered whenever it was necessary to prevent others from wondering where some of their money might be running off to. Then there was all of the beyond state-of-the-art technology that Uncle had personally negotiated and stolen from other worlds to advance things. He’d even gone so far as to provide a few mainstream military research corporations around the world with the basic technology of what he’d acquired to raise the bar for modern combat, while keeping the really high-level goods all to himself and his organization.

    ‘Wait a minute, why am I worrying about this?’ thought Vikas. ‘Queen, Loc, Rashid, Hassan and the rest of them should have a solution for me. They just haven’t figured it out yet, that’s all.’ Even if he didn’t have much of an idea on how to proceed, his brothers would figure out some kind of answer to this predicament, being much smarter than he was. Now he felt like a fool for making a big deal out of this problem.

    Speaking of problems, he spotted a rather large one. While lost in thought, he’d managed to walk most of the way home, but just across the street from his apartment, he saw the familiar face of a young woman just outside the entrance. Pulling his hood over his head, he crossed the street as quickly as possible to meet her. From what he saw, she’d just gotten out of a taxicab with a small suitcase.

    ‘ Prisha, did you get a couple of days off?’ wondered Vikas. ‘Or did you get fired? Which one is it, little sister?’ His heart began to race. Ever since he’d “died”, expenses had probably become difficult to pay off for them, what with his mother’s pension becoming their main source of income. It was true that both he and Prisha had been working part-time jobs by the time she’d entered high school, but he had been in his senior year, and they hadn’t been able to save up enough money to prepare for emergencies at the time of his “death”. If she was coming back because she was out of a job, then he’d be faced with another dilemma.

    She’d already walked into the apartment before he did, but she hadn’t gotten too far when he called out to her.

    “Hello!”

    She turned around to see him, and he nearly tripped over in amazement. She was only a few inches shorter than him, with caramel skin, shiny black hair reaching just past her shoulders. Her face looked quite a bit hardened for her age, but nevertheless he could see the softness beneath, not to mention the birth mark just below her left eye. She was wearing a white blouse, black business pants and black shoes.

    She turned around as he approached, her brown eyes and mouth widening a bit in surprise. Not that it shocked Vikas. After all, he’d probably react in the same manner. She had no idea what his face was like under the hood, much less who it was that she was speaking to.

    “Oh, hello, Mr. Shankar,” said Prisha. She wasn’t stuttering, but Vikas could still hear the slight nervousness in his sister’s soft voice. She was still unnerved by his hoodie, with the two points at the top resembling the fangs of a spider, not to mention the fact that he kept his hood on every time she’d seen him, which had only been once since he’d moved in down the hall from their mother.

    “I’m sorry if I startled you,” said Vikas with a small smile, “but I was surprised that you came here.” Looking down at her suitcase, he continued, “You don’t mind if I help you with that, do you?”

    “No, not at all.” Her face relaxed itself as the two headed for the stairs with Vikas carrying her suitcase on his shoulder.

    “So,” said Vikas as they ascended, “why are you here? Did you get a vacation or something?”

    “Yes, as a matter of fact, I did,” said Prisha, not looking at him, probably since she was still disturbed by his appearance. “I asked for a couple of days off so I could come to check in on my mother and little brother.”

    “Ah, I see.” His rapidly beating heart eased itself. That was some much needed relief. Were they to be in actual financial trouble, he would be unable to step in without getting someone killed.

    After arriving at the fifth floor, they headed down the hall. The numbers for the apartments worked the same way they did for the classrooms at his old high school, with the third digit representing what floor said apartment was on. His was the last one, 513, naturally making their mother’s apartment number 511.
    When they found the door, Prisha knocked while Vikas tapped his foot quietly, waiting for someone to open the door. Only their mother and little brother Vivek would be home, company that he was looking forward to.

    “Son! There are people knocking at our door! Could you get it?” called a voice from inside. It was their mother, speaking in Hindi. It was rather odd of her, considering that she could speak English quite fluently. It must’ve had something to do with moving back to India.

    “Yes, mom,” came Vivek’s reply.

    Moments later, the door was opened. Standing in front of them was a teenager just above Prisha’s height looking at both of them with narrowed eyes and a slight scowl. His hair was the same black as hers but looked completely ordinary, though he’d gotten a haircut recently, so it was pretty short. The green sweater he wore and light gray sweatpants reminded Vikas of the outfits he used to wear.

    What made him smile, though, was Vivek’s face. It had a bit of ruggedness in it the same way his own face did, but still had traces of the innocent youth he himself longed for. His light brown eyes could have been sparkling with laughter were it not for the situation they were in. In fact, every part of him looked strengthened from the karate training he’d done before coming to India, but also leaner and, though it might have just been his imagination, a bit edgier.

    “Uh, are you smiling at me, Mr. Shankar?” asked Vivek as his gaze shifted back and forth between Vikas and Prisha at a suspiciously fast rate. Confusion like that occurred often whenever he visited. Thanks to the powers of darkness he commanded, a shadow was always cast over the top half of his face whenever he put his hood on to conceal his identity, so no one could really tell who he was making expressions at.

    “Yes, I’m sorry if I came off the wrong way again,” said Vikas. His little brother must have thought he was making a rape face at him.

    “Well, whatever.” Turning around, he motioned for them to come in and they followed.

    ‘Yeah, that’s right, you little punk,’ thought Vikas, keeping his snickering inside his head. Defiant Vivek might be, but he would never disobey their mother, regardless of how he felt.

    The inside of the apartment may have had the same basic setup that his did, but the condition was different enough that Vikas could almost consider it a stark contrast to his. The walls and ceiling were a light brown, not to mention actually fixed, along with a gray floor even cleaner than his own, a testament to their mother’s legendary housework abilities.

    “Son, is that Mr. Shankar coming in?” called their mother.

    “Yeah, and he’s carrying Prisha’s bags for her,” answered Vivek.

    “What?”

    The sound of footsteps was followed by their mother emerging from the bedroom. She looked quite a bit older than when Vikas last saw her, but she still held an air of beauty about her. Her hair was graying, much like her eyes. Unlike her three children, her skin was a lighter shade of brown, not to mention her face had developed a few more wrinkles in the past eight years. Most of that skin, though, was covered up by her surprisingly bright yellow sari. Just like how most women wore it, her sari was wrapped around her waist and draped across her shoulder, in this case her left shoulder. Underneath, she was wearing a white petticoat like most women also wore along with their saris.

    ‘Ma, your face is starting to look much more like your age,’ thought Vikas, ‘and I don’t think the rest of you is going to take its time to follow.’ It must have been the stress from his “death” and moving out of the States. She was getting on in years, after all, and it wasn’t as though they were safe from the rather bleak nature of this war, the three of them having lost their father and her husband.

    “Oh, Prisha, it is so good to see you again!” said their mother as she walked over to her and embraced her daughter, the golden bangles jingling around her wrists as she wrapped her arms around her.

    “No, it’s not,” said Vivek immediately following their mother’s statement, now lying down on the three seat sofa. As opposed to his two one seat couches, their apartment had a one seat, a two seat and a three seat sofa.

    “Vivek, your sister has probably had a hard time securing a chance to come visit us!” said their mother, her voice raising its sharpness almost to that of a knife and her eyes unleashing a fierce glare upon her youngest child. “You should be happy to see her!”

    “Ha! I’m expected to care for a sister as selfish as her?” said Vivek, now rising from the sofa and heading into the bedroom. His head stayed down, so it was difficult to read the expression on his face.

    “Well,” said Vikas, his tone matching his nervous little grin as his gaze followed Vivek to the bedroom before it was closed shut, “that was rather unexpected. Has this always been going on?”

    “Yes, I’m afraid so,” said Prisha, sighing as she walked over to the same sofa Vivek had been lying down on and took a seat. “I know it was a hard decision, but it was a good opportunity, and it’s not like anyone’s giving him a hard time at the high school. He and I just can’t get along any better than when we were younger and had our older brother to straighten us out.”

    Vikas sighed and sat down on the one seat couch. That last comment of hers had scared him a little and put butterflies in his stomach, considering she was right, not to mention that any time he’d heard something from them about their “dead” brother or “dead” son made him queasy.

    Putting Prisha’s suitcase down before his feet, he recalled the days when the two would constantly fight over something. It was either Vivek getting tired of her picking him up and wanting him to do that job for the week or them attacking the other’s self-esteem or their friends. It really did look like things hadn’t improved much, especially considering what had happened since his “death”. If this little exchange was anything to go by, then things had gotten worse even compared to the last time he’d seen them together.

    “Don’t worry, Prisha, he will learn to accept this situation eventually,” said their mother as she sat down on the two seat. “I’m sure of that, as difficult as he’s made it for us all.”

    “I don’t know,” said Vikas. “If he hasn’t shaped up now, then he probably won’t at all.” Turning his attention to the table that sat in the middle of the living room, he picked up the remote and turned the TV on. Unlike him, they still had a flat-screen TV, brought over from when they lived in the States, along with the set that came pre-packaged with this apartment, the same one sitting in his bedroom unplugged.

    The TV was tuned in to the news. It wasn’t the local news. Right now there was a special broadcast. From what Vikas could tell from scene on the TV, with the crowd of reporters and the makings of what appeared to be a conference hall, someone was about to make some kind of public statement. Aside from giving the setting a quick glance, Vikas focused his attention on the same subject on which his mother, sister, and the rest of the crowd were focusing theirs.

    The subject in question was a man of average height. His skin was rather light for an Indian, but that was of little importance, just like his neatly trimmed black hair. He was wearing a black suit and tie, probably since that color tended to be the most presentable. The same articles of clothing also happened to be upon the backs of the two men on either side of him, most likely the Special Protection Group. He looked to be in his late forties at best, and the small hints of nervousness in his face, with the way his eyebrows and mouth occasionally twitched, confirmed that.

    The sharp glare his mother gave him when he mentioned the hopeless prospect of Vivek improving his behavior had already vanished into one of thoughtfulness as her attention shifted to the TV.

    ‘Ma, you haven’t changed much in these past eight years,’ thought Vikas. ‘You prefer to watch politics on TV than to argue with your son.’

    “It has come to my attention,” began Prime Minister Singh, “that the accusations being held against me have been increasing in their extremity. I have decided to come forward once again with yet another public statement to the contrary. I have no intentions of involving India with this global war, nor have I ever intended for such an action. I understand that many of India’s people are watching with critical eyes, but I ensure-that is I assure you that I was not involved with President Thakur’s death. It was a tragedy, and I give my condolences to all of those devastated by this loss, but there is nothing more that I can do to remedy that pain. Now, onto the more pressing matters at hand…”

    Vikas had seen several of these broadcasts even before the President of India had been killed. As far as he remembered, people had constantly hurled accusations against him of wanting to undermine India’s neutral stance, saying that he’d been trying to get the President to endorse that action ever since he’d taken office. After doing some research into the whole situation, what the man was actually guilty of amounted to a series of “just in case” type of suggestions. A designated villain if there ever was one, at least by all appearances.

    “Poor man,” said Vikas. He couldn’t help but empathize with the situation he must be going through at the moment.

    “I find it hard to believe,” said their mother without a moment’s hesitation, “considering he has been under suspicion before this. Did you know that he was alleged to have been involved with several of those radical terrorist groups? The same ones who have been pushing to get Mother India involved in this war?”

    “Those are still rumors. Even after all this time, investigations haven’t yielded any results. Besides, a lot of people are looking for any reason to sling mud at him. You know how many of them rationalize their beliefs by citing the fact that he worships Lakshmi quite frequently?”

    “Even so, I do not find his arguments convincing anymore, given that he continues to say the same things again and-“

    “Regardless of how shady this looks,” interjected Prisha, “the fact remains that the country is putting a huge amount of pressure on him. The people are paranoid, and it’s not like anyone can blame them for it, what with everything that’s happening worldwide right now, but with all of that civilian mudslinging going on, they’re really becoming unreasonable. As for restating his position, it’s all he can really do at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if everything he says and proposes here gets double and triple-checked.”

    “Still, I have my doubts,” said their mother as she rested her face in her hands. “He had better not do anything to ruin lives that have already suffered. People like us, for instance.”

    ‘Oh, yes, ma, of course,’ thought Vikas. ‘You, Prisha, and Vivek are all refugees in your own way. I can imagine the stress you must be under, what with them fighting, and now all this.’ After losing both her husband and her eldest son, she’d become quite depressed, from what Vivek had told him. Moving to India probably would have had a positive effect on her morale, were it not for the tension between her two remaining children.

    Then there was this recent series of problems. Prisha was right; the paranoia of the people, though much higher than it really should be, was not entirely misplaced. After all, they’d worked hard to maintain peace and neutrality in this war, something much more in character for a country of Hindus than a country like America.

    “Well,” said Vikas, “I need to be getting back to my apartment. I’m burned out for today.”

    “Alright, then,” said his mother, “you may leave now.”

    Getting up from the couch, Vikas got to his knees, placing his hands on his mother’s feet.

    “May Bhagavan bless you, son.” From the way her voice rose a bit from its slight monotone, she must have cheered up at least a little bit, though that referring to him as “son” didn’t have the meaning he’d prayed for it to have again.

    “Thank you,” said Vikas. He turned to his sister. “Bye, Prisha.”

    He walked out the door, shutting it as he left. Recalling the events that had just taken place while slowly walking to his apartment, his cheeks were warmed by a few tears. That addressing of him as “son” was merely traditional, and it had more of a sting in it coming from his jaded mother.

    ‘Ma, I’ll fix things,’ thought Vikas. ‘I’m going to fix things so that we can be together again as a family. We’ll move back to the States together somehow. I’ll try to be there for Vivek and Prisha, so I can help them patch things up.’ When he’d first moved in a month ago, it had felt like he’d speared himself when he introduced himself to his mother as Mr. Shankar rather than something along the lines of “your eldest son”. Still, he took it upon himself to stay close to his family, considering Uncle could decide someone had to die in order to draw him out at any moment.

    When he found himself in front of his door, he wiped away the tears from his eyes, producing a key from his pocket. Inserting it into the door and unlocking the doorknob, he opened it and headed inside.

    Upon flipping the light switch on, the apartment still looked the same as ever. Not that he expected anything different, considering he lacked the importance one needed for their living space to get ransacked. That, and the crime rates in the capital of India were virtually nonexistent.

    “I’ll eat later, matter of fact,” said Vikas as he closed the door behind him, removed his sneakers and left them next to it.

    When he opened the door to his bedroom, he was greeted, much to his great joy, by the sight of another man. Unlike Queen, he was only about an inch or two taller than Vikas, but the two looked quite similar, though this man had flatter and slightly bushier hair compared to him. His nose was a bit round and his lips were a bit large. His eyes, though somewhat smaller than Vikas’, had the same shade of brown.

    “Loc, my nigga! What’s up man?” said Vikas with a wide grin, shuffling over to his friend.

    “’Sup, mah little nigga?” said Loc, ruffling Vikas’ hair. As usual, he was wearing his blue hoodie slightly unzipped at the top, revealing a white t-shirt underneath. That, not to mention the chain and navy blue jeans he wore were also the attire he wore most of the time during his visits. The one problem would be that he was wearing sneakers.

    “Not much happened, but before I tell you what did happen, take your fuckin’ shoes off.” He knew that Loc could tell that he was irritated even if he was smiling if he cursed about a peeve of his.

    “C’mon, Vicky, I won’t be here that long! I just came to check up on you.” Judging by his smile, it was clear that he probably wasn’t telling the truth, but his concern earned him forgiveness.

    The two of them had first met in high school. During one afternoon, an odd urge had overcome him to attempt several martial arts moves he’d seen in an anime in the cafeteria until Loc had caught him. Then, the insults went flying, and a brotherly bond was formed from that day onward.

    “Alright, nigga.” Vikas sat down on his bed, sighing. “Well, I ran into a surprise visitor today. Can you believe who it was?”

    “Who, an old family friend?” asked Loc, taking a seat next to him.

    “Nope, it was Prisha,” said Vikas as his face developed into a frown.

    “Your sister? That’s great, man!” said Loc, patting him on the back. “You must’ve missed her a lot!”

    “Yeah, I did, but it looks like things aren’t going so well between her and Vivek. From the way he was referring to her, I swear he was about to call her a bitch,” said Vikas, gently resting his face in his hands.

    “Damn, that’s a shame.” Loc moved his gaze to the ceiling. “So, how’s Ms. Saxena? How’s your moms been doing?”

    “She’s alive and kickin’, although she’s under a ton of stress. It’s a miracle she hasn’t gone atheist yet.”

    “Haha, now that would be more of Satan’s handiwork, or some of that Maya. Your family’s supposed to be a bunch of devout Hind-“

    “Yeah, I know that, but how about we talk about some other stuff? Just this conversation is already bringing me close to tears again,” said Vikas with a slight sniffle.

    “Alright, alright nigga,” said Loc, petting Vikas’ head. “I can do my bottom bitch a favor like that.”

    “If you weren’t dead,” said Vikas, “I’d jump you right no-“

    “Don’t be an ungrateful bitch, bitch,” said Loc. Even if he was dead, Vikas was still this in relation to him, aside from being brothers.

    “What? I was just makin’ a joke about jumpin’ you.”

    “No offense, Vicky, but sometimes you can make some creepy jokes and come up with some freaky ideas! You remember that one time you wrote that novel about raping cat girls or some bullshit?” The idea must have horrified him incredibly even now, since his eyes were screwed shut and the rest of his face twisted itself into a grimace.

    “Loc, that was a long time ago! I never even got to finish it!” said Vikas, his voice rising in pitch nearly to the point of squealing.

    “Still, you can be downright disgusting at times.” This was hardly false. Even Vikas had to acknowledge his morbid sense of humor at times.

    And so their conversation went on for some time. He and Loc changed locations to the kitchen counter, discussing topics ranging from the “Bottom Bitch Theory” to the various times Loc had cut off his long-winded speeches with a loud “shut the fuck up”.

    But eventually, his friend had to leave, on the grounds that it took too long for him to appear. It was the same excuse he offered whenever Vikas asked him to hang out at his house. Still, a visit was a visit. A touch of the hands and Loc had vanished.

    Returning to his bed, he lied down on his back, hands folded on his chest. Now that he had some time alone, his thoughts returned to his family. They were in no immediate danger of being quietly silenced, at least as far as he could tell. He remembered Uncle’s policy of keeping loved ones in the dark. This was hardly a typical scenario, him living with his family as neighbors, but it still carried the same potential consequences

    Uncle wouldn’t harm them as long as they remained unaware of the organization or the hidden machinations behind the conflict, but once he made contact with them, revealing his survival, they were likely to be used as blackmail material. Even he could have standards. At least, from what Vikas could infer from his behavior.

    Though, his thought processes were interrupted by an old man’s voice. A voice he hadn’t heard in a long time. A voice he thought he would never hear again...

    “WHAT’S GOOD, NIGGA!? WHAT’S REALLY GOOD!?”

    “Is that Blind Nigga Samurai?!” cried out Vikas, nearly falling off his bed. That was beyond the last thing he expected to happen to him today. Of all things, his phone actually went off.

    Right next to his bed, low to the ground, was an outlet. At the moment, a black cube was plugged into it. This cube had a wire that currently went down to the ground, coiling around a black, rectangular phone. Said phone had a touch screen that was currently glowing, displaying an incoming call.

    Unplugging his phone from its charger, Vikas held it over his head. It said “Private Caller”, so it might have been from a payphone, miraculous as it was that they still existed, or someone’s cell phone.

    As his phone continued to call him a nigga and ask him what was really good, Vikas considered not answering the call. His phone was linked to a private network of satellites undetectable by all currently existing technology, after all, so it was rather stupid in hindsight for him to even consider the possibility of a payphone ever reaching him. For all he knew this could be a trap. Still, this could be his last chance to get an easy lead on Uncle. Pressing his phone against his ear, he pressed the receive button.

    “Hello?” said Vikas slowly.

    “Ah, it’s good to hear from you again, Black Spider,” was the response from the other party. But something was certainly off. Whoever it was, they were taking measures to disguise their voice, as they sounded very distorted, as though their voice was being deepened while someone was choking them.

    “Who’s calling? Someone coming to catch me?”

    “No, actually. We’re extending an invitation to you. Next Sunday, please come to Akshardham before dawn, when things will be quieter. Bring your laptop, cell phone and anything else you feel you may need. If not, we will not hesitate to put your family to sleep.”

    Vikas growled. “…Who the hell are you?”

    “You’ll know when you see the agent we send to meet you. If you aren’t there at the designated time or decide to blow us off, then I believe we haven’t made it clear enough what will happen if you make the choice to take a sick day.”

    “Sick day…” muttered Vikas. “Are you Hafez?” The chances were very high that it was Hafez calling. He didn’t speak to many other people in the organization, but the speech patterns were somewhere along the lines of both Hafez and someone in a position of authority. At the very least, it was someone from the organization, so he didn’t have to worry about whether or not he’d given a name to some innocent bystander playing a prank call with a cell phone lying around somewhere.

    “You’ll know when you come to the temple…” said the voice.

    And with a beep, the call ended. Vikas stared at his phone for a few moments. It had to have been either Uncle or Uncle Bashar. Not that it mattered. Regardless of who made the call, Uncle would be the one responsible.

    ‘How did he even find me? I thought I’d already thrown him off my trail,’ thought Vikas. ‘Unless…ugh! I’m such an idiot!’

    Vikas slammed the back of his head down against his pillow. “Why else would there be two Black Hearts wandering around in the middle of the morning? Shit, shit, shit, I can’t even call bullshit on this! Why didn’t I just scare them off? Definitely no coincidence that they call me the one week I decide on a whim to actually turn on my phone! Can’t believe I just put my own family in even more danger. So much for being a family man.”

    Regardless, it no longer mattered. It was his mistake and just another item on the list of things he had to take responsibility for. After all, there wasn’t another person left on this planet with even a remote chance of handling the tasks he’d have to undertake now.

    As he headed for the kitchen to prepare dinner, Vikas put his worries to rest for the time being. Spending energy fretting over the things Uncle would do if he refused the call was a waste of strength that would be better used for the hunt. The last thought he gave to the situation was how a possible solution came out of the blue when he was expecting his brothers to come up with something for him to try.

    ***

    As of right now, all was well with the world. At least as far as Hafez was concerned. He and Bashar were currently standing on top of one of Delhi’s many buildings. It was February, so the night was rather cold, not to mention quiet. Or rather, the temple whose buildings they stood on.

    Thanks to its location, though, there weren’t that many lights outside the complex to reveal them. Even if someone were to look up, spotting them would be rather difficult, as most of the lights in the temple at the moment were below the rooftops.
    Though, it might not have been such a good idea in hindsight to leave the base to make the call at this time, considering they wouldn’t be able to return until the monks stopped making use of the fountain.

    “Well,” said Hafez as he removed the device attached to his face and handed the phone back to Bashar, “that takes care of that. I think we’ve taken the next step to creating world peace.”

    “That is along your train of thought,” said Bashar with his usual frown. “To be honest, I think you’re simply prodding a tiger whose cubs you’ve killed when you could just shoot it with a rifle.”

    “Yeah, yeah, whatever. I am not about to go visit some therapist,” mumbled Hafez as he slowly walked to the rooftop of the current building they stood on.

    The scenery was quite beautiful. The grass seemed to glow, basking in the light of the lamp posts, as did the rest of the ground. Quite a number of monks were busy walking about, closing up for the night. Unlike years ago, resources in the temple, such as the fountain and the lamps, had to be used more conservatively thanks to the threats to India’s safety lying on the left, right and above.

    “You know something?” said Hafez. “I think I’ll just go to sleep now. Watch me, will you?”

    “At least utilize your stealth camouflage,” said Bashar. “You can’t have forgotten that, can you? Remember what is to happen should someone see us? All the questions we’d have to answer?”

    “Alright, alright. I’ll at least do that before I take my nap.” Pressing a hand against the right side of his ribcage, he activated his device and watched his body disappear from view as Bashar followed suit.

    With that, he lied down at his side, resting his head on his hands. Getting to sleep was going to be a bit uncomfortable, since Bashar had decided to pick him up and give him a piggyback ride to somewhere safer.

    “Can we hide in the grass?” mumbled Hafez as his body was constantly jolted by Bashar’s steps to the stairs leading down the building.

    “If you find that it would make a good bed, then very well,” said Bashar as his shoulders continued to move up and down.

    Once his head and the rest of his body were comfortably resting against Bashar’s back, he let his thoughts drift to the faraway paradise he had planned for the entire planet…
    Last edited by The Booty Warrior; 26th September 2011 at 11:38 AM.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    So... Where the fuck are Mickey Mouse and Sephiroth?

    This is an amazingly well-written piece of writing by the way. I can see you've dumped your soul into this one, and I can't wait to see what comes next!

    Noob out.
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    Yeezy taught me The Booty Warrior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Many thanks, Noob. Really appreciate it.

    Out of curiosity, did you figure out where Hafez and Bashar's names come from?
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Either they come from Indian Mythology, the movie Slumdog Millionaire, ore they're specific words translated into Indian.

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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Actually, their names are Middle Eastern. Hafez-al-Assad was President of Syria from 1970 to 2000, when he died. Since then, his son Bashar-al-Assad has taken up the reigns.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

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    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Ok, so I've finally gotten round to making a start on this fic.

    I've only read the first chapter at the moment but I'll make sure to read the second within the next 7 days. You write some hella long chapters, man, you're giving Legacy a run for his money! There's nothing wrong with that, ofc, when I write actual novels my chapters are probably around the same size, I just tend to reduce them for things I post here so they're easier for people to read. However, each to his own and hopefully once I catch up each chapter will be a little easier to digest.

    Also, a quick question - what made you decide to set this in India? Do you have some kind of roots there? Is something to do with Kingdom Hearts set in India? Interesting setting, it's rare to see a fic set in somewhere other than the US, a similar country or a country that isn't similar but is accidentally portrayed as the US or similar =P Good job!

    Right, so here are my comments:

    As always, technical comments first -

    In fact, it was a surprise that Delhi was so peaceful when he first visited it as a child. There were no fanatics attacking people in the streets, no house or amusement park bombings, no hostage takings and no assassinations. Everywhere was completely peaceful, even taking into account the fact that India was not participating in the war.
    That second sentence seems a bit awkward and needs a little bit of rephrasing. "The disruption that was now present in India was so far from the peace they had once had that it could not all possibly be attributed to the arrival of the war." That's not perfect and you can probably come up with something better yourself but I think you should think about that sentence.

    The superintendent wasn’t a bad person, either. He didn’t ask too many questions. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that Vikas paid his rent off by working for the man and as an unofficial delivery boy. He knew how to get on a person’s good side, an invaluable skill taught to him by his former guardian. In this particularly close-knit community, it was very easy to earn a few rupees without having to go through the paperwork. If you could get a job done, then your boss didn’t need written proof, which was perfect for him, as he no longer had the identification he would otherwise be required to present.
    This paragraph was kind of pronoun overload. It was really difficult to keep track of who you're talking about. Obviously, pronouns make it seem a bit nicer but, in my opinion, presentation comes after clarity so you should think about being a bit more repetitive to make things clearer, or, at the very least, restructure the sentences to make it more obvious.

    or at least the section that held the babies.
    I think you mean the maternity ward =P

    One of the irritants Hafez had faced when he began his friendship with Bashar was forcefully exposing him to old video games, comics, anime, manga and other petty distractions that made up the majority of the man’s hobbies.
    Are the names 'Bashar' and 'Hafez' the wrong way round in this sentence? They seem it.Ok, so I've finally gotten round to making a start on this fic.

    I've only read the first chapter at the moment but I'll make sure to read the second within the next 7 days. You write some hella long chapters, man, you're giving Legacy a run for his money! There's nothing wrong with that, ofc, when I write actual novels my chapters are probably around the same size, I just tend to reduce them for things I post here so they're easier for people to read. However, each to his own and hopefully once I catch up each chapter will be a little easier to digest.

    Also, a quick question - what made you decide to set this in India? Do you have some kind of roots there? Is something to do with Kingdom Hearts set in India? Interesting setting, it's rare to see a fic set in somewhere other than the US, a similar country or a country that isn't similar but is accidentally portrayed as the US or similar =P Good job!

    Right, so here are my comments:

    As always, technical comments first -

    In fact, it was a surprise that Delhi was so peaceful when he first visited it as a child. There were no fanatics attacking people in the streets, no house or amusement park bombings, no hostage takings and no assassinations. Everywhere was completely peaceful, even taking into account the fact that India was not participating in the war.
    That second sentence seems a bit awkward and needs a little bit of rephrasing. "The disruption that was now present in India was so far from the peace they had once had that it could not all possibly be attributed to the arrival of the war." That's not perfect and you can probably come up with something better yourself but I think you should think about that sentence.

    The superintendent wasn’t a bad person, either. He didn’t ask too many questions. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that Vikas paid his rent off by working for the man and as an unofficial delivery boy. He knew how to get on a person’s good side, an invaluable skill taught to him by his former guardian. In this particularly close-knit community, it was very easy to earn a few rupees without having to go through the paperwork. If you could get a job done, then your boss didn’t need written proof, which was perfect for him, as he no longer had the identification he would otherwise be required to present.
    This paragraph was kind of pronoun overload. It was really difficult to keep track of who you're talking about. Obviously, pronouns make it seem a bit nicer but, in my opinion, presentation comes after clarity so you should think about being a bit more repetitive to make things clearer, or, at the very least, restructure the sentences to make it more obvious.

    or at least the section that held the babies.
    I think you mean the maternity ward =P

    One of the irritants Hafez had faced when he began his friendship with Bashar was forcefully exposing him to old video games, comics, anime, manga and other petty distractions that made up the majority of the man’s hobbies.
    Are the names 'Bashar' and 'Hafez' the wrong way round in this sentence? They seem it.

    Also, you referred to Vikas as Vikash a couple of times.

    There were also a couple of other mistakes but they were little things that you will easily be able to spot if you re-read.

    Anyway, on to the main comments now:

    On the whole, I liked this chapter but I didn't like the intro. In my opinion, there was a little too much 'tell' and not enough 'show'. You started with a lengthy explanation of the background of the story which, in all honesty, was a little boring. I'm not just talking about the prologue either, I mean the beginning of the first chapter. I know it feels like you need to explain everything for your readers to understand and enjoy your story but you don't - you only need the very basics, the rest can be filtered in as you go along. In the case of this story, for example, you could've left the prologue as it is and then you'd have been fine just saying that it was in India, there was a war going on (possibly mentioning that it was religous) and then just skipped to Vikas checking himself out in the mirror and then have Queen talk to him from behind. From there on, you could've subtly added in mentions of the history as you went along with the story.

    A technique that is more common than you probably realise is including a rookie character (or making a character a rookie when they didn't need to be for any other part of the function of their story) or a character who has very little knowledge of local history compared to the other characters. That way you can have the characters explain everything and the reader doesn't feel like they're being talked to and it sounds a lot more natural.

    The rest of the story, however, was excellent:

    The only mystery he really wondered about, though, was how these fanatics rose to power in the first place. It was something that gnawed at the back of his mind whenever he gave it some thought in his free time.
    Nice foreshadowing here, I look forward to finding out exactly how these fanatics did rise to power. I doubt you would've pointed this out if you weren't planning to show us.

    Of course, Queen was going to disappear once he was touched and Vikas knew it. Still, it was a good thing he continued to receive visits from the spirits of his long dead brothers. Even if they disappeared at his touch, he knew they’d always be back to see him. It was a bond that transcended even death.
    I love this. I'm guessing that this is going to be a recurring theme throughout the story and it was a great way to introduce it. Is this something you have created yourself or is it a part of the Kingdom Hearts canon already?

    The appearance of Gregory raised further questions. It appears it is not just people who you've made a positive bond with that can come to visit you... I wonder if this is their actual presence after death or simply their consciousness from their time of death or even from the time that the subject remembers them.

    Again, I look forward to finding out more about Vikas' balance between light and darkness.

    All in all, good job. I haven't played Kingdom Hearts but this was a totally comprehensible fic and read as if it was totally original. I look forward to reading more, unfortunately I don't think I will have time today.

    Great job! Do you tag people in your new chapters? If so, could you tag me please?
    The Booty Warrior likes this.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    @Gastly's Mama ;

    It's taken a while, but I've finally managed to finish this third chapter. It's shorter than usual, but I hope that's okay.

    On another note, though, I think I'll be slowing down the pace at which I write this fic, since I have summer classes and then only a week left of free time before that wonderful first year of college rolls around. However, I hope that I can still see this one through to the end. I'm already paying the price for barely making it in with my math grades and failing the math section of that damn test and I don't want to give up any more security.

    Anyways, here's chapter three!

    Chapter 3- Make My Life Worth Something More

    Mornings were one of the great blessings Lord Krishna gave to mankind. At least, that was how Vikas saw things. They were always the kind of sight that could strike a chord within any man or woman. They could bring hope back to even the most jaded of hearts when they saw the rising sun, heard the fluttering of the birds and smelled the almost candle-like aroma of the grass. Indeed, mornings were one of Lord Krishna’s blessings.

    But this particular morning was far from the kind he thought of. He was feeling terror in his tightened gut from seeing the sun. He acquired a sense of imprisonment in his feet by listening to the few birds flying around at this time, their lives contrasting with his. The grass merely aggravated his senses, and especially his nostrils, with their scent. This morning could not be a blessing, but a curse. Perhaps he had some bad karma that he was paying for now.

    He was standing in front of the pathway to Akshardham. It was only about four in the morning of the next Sunday. For the most part, the sun hadn’t risen yet, and the monks wouldn’t be up for about another hour or hour and a half. If this wasn’t early enough for that mysterious caller, then he might as well throw in the towel now.

    Staring at the ground for a few moments, he began shuffling onward, his sneakers making very light noises with each step he took on the cold ground. Unlike the sneakers he wore for work, these were designed for multiple purposes. It was of the same color that his other pair was, though on the sides of each sneaker was a slanted rectangular crosshair, the brand’s logo. Also, as opposed to most of the sneakers he’d worn over the years, which were flat so he could practice parkour and free running, these had a plastic concavity in the sole, for other uses besides merely navigating an obstacle course by running and jumping. Aside from that, he had his laptop in his backpack, just as he was instructed.

    He’d decided to wear the combat pants he’d been keeping hidden for this encounter. As expected of such clothing, they carried a military camouflage pattern. This particular one was multicam, with a blend of forest, desert and arctic patterns. Being something designed for blending into any environment, he’d probably be harder to spot from the waist down at a distance. It also had a great number of pockets, though aside from his phone, nothing else was held in them.

    As he walked forward, he heard his foot knock something over. Bending down, he found several small figurines on the ground. Though the sun had barely risen against the dark sky, by virtue of the white stone contrasting with the black of the figurines he was able to see what they were.

    They were small, stylized sculptures of the Black Hearts. He counted about four, two of which were Brother Shadows. For some reason, they were always found in a pair. The one feature all members of the Black Hearts shared was their yellow eyes.

    Another one, a large ball-shaped creature, with blue streaks along its body, lay right next to the Brother Shadows. It had three blue and black tentacles with frayed pink tips protruding from its body, two on the sides of its head that would probably be its ears and one on the bottom would probably be its neck. This one was a Puff Ball.

    The other one was a very humanoid figurine. The creature had a muscular frame, small black bat wings on its back and gold-tipped, feathered wings on its forearms. On both sides of its head were two large spikes that probably served as its ears. On top were two long, sharp horns that were purple and blue in color. The insides of them curled to form a sort of heart outline, much like the heart-shaped hole in its chest. Its feet ended in two pointed talons, and that long tail ended in a sharp, crescent-shaped blade. This one was named the Black Fairy.

    Uncle had taught them that the Black Hearts had always existed, that they had been around since Earth began. It was only now in the modern age, when they began appearing with increasing frequency, that they were acknowledged as real beings.

    One would think that they would be captured and examined for study. That was what should have happened. Instead, perhaps because of this war, every participating country integrated them into their religion, something rather contradictory to their fundamentalist beliefs. Even stranger, no one had made any statements to the contrary. Now, people all over the world, his own included, treated them as demons of their religions. Never mind the fact that they’d never been recorded before in any texts or that they looked nothing like the usual demons that the religions of the world had ever depicted before. Yet another fine example of something that didn’t fit into his general understanding of how the world worked.

    Picking up the figurines, he held them in one black gloved hand. Clenching his hand into a tight fist, he heard a few crackling noises. As he let go, bits and pieces of the sculptures fell to the ground, mostly as dust. With that, he moved on. The last thing he needed this early in the morning was to be confronted with the ignorance of his people, especially when they dedicated so much attention to making these sculptures and handed them out for free in the temples hoping for charity donations.

    Vikas sighed. “Then again, I can’t really blame them for that ignorance, can I? I mean, I was skeptical when I first saw them, but I still believed it…sort of.”

    It was no use talking to the wind. As much as he understood that Lord Krishna didn’t need to come down from the spiritual world to speak with him face-to-face, it would be nice to have some company. He didn’t like undertaking this task without some kind of emotional faucet, as selfish as it might sound.

    “Hold on a second,” said Vikas, slapping himself on the back of the head. “I forgot! My buddies are still around! They’re probably just busy or something, wherever they are.”

    After about ten to fifteen minutes of walking, he arrived at the musical fountain. In reality, it was India’s largest step well. Known as Yagnapurush Kund, it had huge steps to it that provided rest for the visitors. At night, the fountain would be used for a show representing the circle of life. The same steps of the well also led to the eight-petaled, lotus shaped yagna kund in the center, in which a fire would be lit for sacrifices to be offered.

    This fountain was a place whose most attractive feature was, in his eyes, something he’d never experienced before but had heard about from the stories his mother and father told him and his siblings. Stories about how, before the war, so many different people from so many different nations used to gather around the fountain. Nowadays, one would be hard-pressed to find a decent-sized crowd of people outside of India.

    His thoughts, however, were interrupted by a sight among the rooftops of one of the buildings up ahead. Perhaps someone had seen him and decided to give him a signal, because against the slowly brightening sky, he noticed some kind of a black blotch erupting from one of the rooftops. The buildings themselves were fairly tall, so it was a bit difficult to spot that blotch. The ones that weren’t red and domed, not to mention made of wood, like the parikrama he’d passed through on his way to the fountain, that is. These walls were more of a beige color, made of bricks, and gave the appearance of guarding the abode of a deity, one of which there was a golden statue whose identity he didn’t care for very much at the moment.

    Crouching low to the ground, Vikas was about to begin making his way towards the wall, when he stopped. Perhaps it was a sentiment he didn’t understand. He could not understand where it was coming from. It kept whispering to him, something along the lines of him not needing to be afraid. He and Uncle were enemies, yet he had this feeling that Uncle wouldn’t do anything to hurt him. Not yet at least.

    Gritting his teeth as hard as possible, he slowly got to his feet, having lost the battle with this impulse. He continued walking through the step well, as the water had drained out since last night except for the very center, passing by the numerous spots alongside the water spouts where the multicolor lights that gave the fountains such a vibrant display of life. Each little staircase of the well had the same pattern for the most part. One little staircase went down and the next two in front of it would go to the left and right.

    Passing by the golden statue, he arrived at the wall behind it. It had an arch jutting out of it. The bottom of the wall, at least if he was speaking from the wall’s perspective, up to the bottom of the arch stuck out, only more. In fact, the way the bottom looked could be thought of as some kind of staircase. Standing in front of the wall, he took note of the two other walls right next to this one. They had the same kind of structure as this one, but if he stood back and observed them from a distance, such as the other side of the well, they looked more like doors to some grand palace, with the arch seemingly surrounding the deity like some aura.

    ‘I really shouldn’t be spending this much time thinking about a wall, of all things. Perhaps I should concern myself more with who shot that signal flare,’ thought Vikas as he crouched low to the ground once more in front of the aforementioned wall and closed his eyes. Within the span of fifteen seconds between his eyes closing and opening, his sneakers glowed with a white hot aura that had a slight tint of blue.

    As he opened his eyes, he raised his head towards the top of the wall. If he were staring at his reflection in the water, his eyes would be glowing the same color as his sneakers. Pushing his feet against the ground, he fired a blast of compressed air at the ground beneath him, propelling him until the top of the wall was within arm’s reach. His hair was blown downward with his ascent, along with the rest of his clothes ruffling violently.

    It was a bit difficult to grab, but he managed to get a firm grip with both hands on the edge of the roof. With a little more effort, he managed to hoist himself over the wall and swung his body sideways onto the building.

    After landing on both his feet, he stayed low to the ground for a bit. As he slowly stood up, he took notice of another figure not too far away from him. This person looked to be tall, maybe six feet at the very least, with a long black cloak that split at the knees. He recognized the boots, the pants, even in this darkness. Most of all, he recognized the glowing amber orbs beneath the shadow of the beaked hood staring back at him.

    He realized who it was. That was enough to shut everything else out. It didn’t matter anymore what was going on in the world. It didn’t matter anymore that there were people here who would find him. It didn’t matter anymore why that man was there, or whether he was the one who launched the signal or not.

    He had to die.

    ***

    As he watched the blast of black energy he threw into the air dissipate, Hafez began pacing around the rooftop with slightly jittery steps, his backpack rattling with every step. It had been about a month or two since he’d last seen his nephew and his teeth hadn’t chattered this much in anticipation since he’d been given his first assignment as his personal unit’s CO.

    ‘I hope he’s doing well,’ thought Hafez. ‘I need to ask him if he’s been eating well, or if he’s gotten sick, or if he misses me. Something like that. I’m still responsible for him, after all. And he should be missing me, right? I did do him a favor that Christmas.’

    He didn’t have long to wait. In the span of no more than a few minutes at best, his internal monologue was interrupted by the familiar rush of wind from down below. This building, being as high as it was, would warrant Vikas’ use of magic, or sorcery, as his nephew preferred to call it, to reach him.

    As soon as he saw the figure of a man hoisting himself up and onto the roof, he smiled. It could only be Vikas. Raising his hand to wave, Hafez opened his mouth to greet his nephew. Surely, Vikas would be glad to see him.

    He was quite wrong.

    Instead of returning his gesture, Vikas dropped whatever he was carrying on his back, presumably his backpack, eyes glowing white hot with their usual hint of blue and began growling at him like a tiger. A real tiger, as a matter of fact, considering the experiments that had been conducted on him. He began hunching over a bit, as a bluish-white aura blazed around his body. And speaking of tigers, every single time Vikas behaved like this, he could swear he could see a white one hanging off of his back.

    “Uh, morning Vicky?” said Hafez as his hand lowered. It was a vain attempt at preventing what he knew was coming.

    Almost instantaneously, as if Hafez had triggered some sort of spinal reflex, Vikas responded by leaping into the air with a roar, his Keyblade emerging in a flash of black and white cobwebs. As he came down, he swung with both hands, snarling the entire time. Hafez managed to sidestep it easily, but the force of such a two-handed swing seemed to split the air in two.

    As Hafez backed away, Vikas twisted the upper half of his body around, swinging his blade upward at Hafez’s head. He managed to back up just enough so his nephew’s swing missed, albeit barely a few inches from his eyes. In mere moments, he was backed up against the edge of the roof.

    Sidestepping Vikas’ next swing again, Hafez drew his own Keyblade from a cloud of purple feathers and shuffled backwards quickly. When his nephew turned around for another swing, Hafez swung the flat side of his weapon against Vikas’, knocking his slash to his right. What he didn’t see coming, however, was Vikas shifting his body sideways and firing off his right leg into a side kick.

    As he was launched backwards, his boots skidding along the ground, Hafez felt his stomach flatten against his spine. Not only did Vikas have a rank of six as a black belt in Taekwondo, he had titanium reinforcements on his already toughened skeleton. And if the near-imminent need to vomit was any indication, he was also wearing the sneakers with the grind plates on them.

    “I, ah,” said Hafez between mildly loud coughs, “guess you must be pissed off. Did you have trouble catching a bus here or something?” Joking about the situation helped ease the pain, but now was time to become proactive in this little scuffle.

    As Vikas closed in for another attack, Hafez focused his mind. In an instant, his Keyblade was surrounded by dark purple, foggy energy. His nephew must have been able to take notice, even in his raging lunacy, because he stopped attacking, his mouth widening, giving Hafez his opening. He quickly grasped the hilt of his weapon with both hands, his right hand leading, reeled his arms back and swung with the back of the Keyblade, launching a black energy wave at his nephew in the shape of those sonic booms one usually found on sword-wielding video game characters to give them a ranged attack.

    This wouldn’t be enough, however. As Hafez ran forward, he was proven correct. The black wave of energy he’d launched stopped moving, as if being blocked, until it dissipated to the left and right, with some white fire alongside it. In between these flashes of fire was Vikas, his teeth grit with the tip of his blade low to the ground.

    ‘As I thought, your reflexes are as sharp as ever,’ thought Hafez as he reached out with his left hand once he was within reach to grab Vikas’ head. Immediately, purple fire began emerging from his hand, and Vikas’ squirming quickly died down.

    As he gently lowered his now unconscious nephew’s body to the ground and dismissed his Keyblade in the same fashion he had summoned it, Hafez noticed the fading embers on Vikas’ blade. This was enough cause for a chuckle, one that was quickly silenced when he paid closer attention to the current black-to-white ratio of its color scheme.

    “So, let’s see, the white covers about three quarters of it now, including the teeth of the blade, with just one small quarter left that’s black, including the hilt,” mumbled Hafez. “Really, Vicky? You can’t possibly hate me that much.” He found himself laughing some more and shaking his head at this. “I will never understand what I did to you that was so bad that you have to hate me like you hate maya or whatever it is you Hindus consider evil.”

    Dropping his own backpack to the ground, he got down on one knee and zipped it open and produced a few items, a syringe being among them. Ever since last Christmas, he’d been worried sick about where Vikas had been. It was quite a coincidence that he’d found him, and although Bashar had constantly tried to convince him that it was the work of Allah, he was certain that Allah would hate him for what he was planning for the world.

    ***

    He hated Sundays. Sundays happened to be among the days that made him wish he was living back in the States, going to the mandirs set aside for the Hindus back home, and going to the high school his brother had gone to.

    The fact remained that, regardless of how much he wanted to go home, he would never get that chance. After all, they had come here without asking him for consent, and they had also failed to ask him what he thought of the entire situation. Being the youngest of his siblings was a position that came with quite a number of restrictions.

    As Vivek tossed and turned under the white sheets in his current bed, the couch, he was roused from his sleepy state for the most part by the sudden disruption of balance that came with lying down on a piece of furniture whose purpose was for people to sit on. Realizing that he was about to fall right off of the couch, his karate instincts kicked into high gear. He turned the upper half of his body to the side and put out both of his hands to stop his descent before his face met the floor. It wasn’t the best way to wake up in the morning, but it was passable. However, it was made worse by the voice of concern that came from the room where his mother slept.

    “Vivek? Are you alright?” This voice was female, English with an American accent, and belonged to one of his least favorite people in the world. Moments after he’d set himself properly against the couch in a sitting position, his sister came running out of their mom’s room, looking as disheveled as ever.
    She was wearing her white long-sleeved shirt covered in vertical pink stripes and white cotton long-sleeved pants. Both her hair and clothes were wrinkled from the night before, not to mention she wasn’t wearing makeup.

    “C’mon, we have to get ready to go to the mandir,” she said. “It’s almost seven and we have to be there by eight.” As if to emphasize the situation’s importance, she began tugging his arm gently.

    “I know that,” said Vivek, raising his voice slightly as he pulled away from her and got to his feet. Ever since they’d moved here, whenever Prisha came to visit, she always took his place next to their mom on the only bed in the apartment while he was relegated to the couch. They probably assumed his neck would be able to tough it out, since he’d trained in Kyokushin karate since he was a little boy. That was not a full proof idea, considering how reluctant he was to straighten his neck.

    Walking into his mom’s room, he found her changing out of her nightgown. Perhaps she was forgetting in her old age that her only remaining son was almost old enough to vote and that this apartment could get rather cramped. Regardless, this was a common occurrence for him when Prisha came to visit.

    In an instant he turned around and headed back to where he started, plopping himself onto the couch his sister was fixing. She was about a quarter of the way done with it already, despite him leaving it in a rather poor state and a large mess of chips, pizza and soda being on the table.

    “Vivek, I was just fixing it! What did you do that for?” exclaimed Prisha, her eyes widening in mild surprise and shock.

    “Well, clearly mom’s getting changed in the room, which you kindly did not bother to tell me about. You have any idea how creepy it is to watch that old hag change her clothes after seventeen years?!” said Vivek, making sure his mother heard as well.

    “Well, you don’t have to be so rude about it. She’s not a hag, she’s the woman who raised you.” Prisha’s narrowed as she shook her head.

    “That I am,” came their mom’s voice. She was probably still changing, since she didn’t come out of the room yet. “When I come out there, you had best be ready to apologize, either to me or God.”

    Vivek yawned. “Well, I thought you and God were supposed to be the same thing, at least in theory. I’ll just go brush my teeth. You hear that mom?” He’d raised his voice again, just to make sure she got the message loud and clear. “I’m coming in! Hide in a corner or something!”

    As he made his way to the bathroom by feeling his way along the wall with his eyes shut, his ears caught a disapproving sigh from his sister and a groan from his mom. Of course, it was only natural that his behavior would elicit such reactions from them. But he was a teenager, so he was entitled to a free pass on it or something.

    Once in the bathroom, he turned the faucet on, found his toothbrush, and began the usual procedure people followed for personal hygiene. These incidents made him wish that his dad and his big brother hadn’t died. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be here, in an apartment that was too small for two people, much less three, and dealing with a mom who dragged him halfway across the world for his sister’s college education and only went to a temple to pretend she still believed in God.

    As he was brushing his teeth, he overheard his mother and sister talking about the preparations they had to begin making in light of the announcement Prisha had made last night. Of all things, that had to be happening. It was practically a guarantee that he’d be in India for the rest of his life. Worse yet, they were likely to spend the rest of their time discussing it in great detail. And he was hardly looking forward to seeing her boyfriend’s family.

    Vivek splashed some cold water over his face. This was going to be a rough Sunday.

    ***

    Everything was still quite black, but at least his hearing had returned. At least, it seemed to be the case. Why everything was still black was another problem.

    The last thing Vikas remembered was the black glove on Uncle’s hand squeezing his face. After that, he must have lost consciousness. Why he was lying down neatly on his back as though someone had tucked him into bed, however, was a mystery he didn’t want an answer to.

    As his vision slowly returned, he got to his feet at about the same pace as the ground he stood on became clearer. Once he was fully on his feet, he blinked a few times until he was certain of his surroundings. It certainly wasn’t that hard to tell.

    He was still on the same roof where he’d attacked Uncle. The only difference between that time and now was that the sun had risen to a more noticeable degree. The sky had shifted into a pale blue tint, but there was still darkness aplenty.

    “Oh, good, I was wondering when you were going to wake up.” That voice could only belong to the old man. It had come from behind him.

    Whirling around as fast as his body would allow, Vikas summoned his Keyblade with a growl, holding it close to his body in front of him. Whatever had happened to him, Uncle was obviously responsible. His stomach churned at the thoughts of what had been done to him while he was unconscious.

    “Whoa, whoa, easy there!” said Uncle with his hands raised as though he’d just been arrested. “I’m not gonna do anything, man, chill!”

    Vikas lowered his weapon slightly. Even if Uncle was lying, he couldn’t mean total harm, could he? He hadn’t aggressively attacked at all during their fight, save for that one energy attack, so it couldn’t be an assassination attempt.

    “There, you see? Now, then, we need to talk business.” With those words, Uncle removed his backpack from his shoulders and unzipped the largest pocket.

    As Uncle went on with his business, he slowly walked toward Vikas, prompting him to raise his weapon again. Once he was within swinging range, Vikas slowly brought his arm back. The only problem with this situation was that Uncle wasn’t doing anything to warrant a swing.

    Instead, he turned his backpack on its head, dumping three items onto the ground, two of them recognizable by Vikas as his own. One was an arm bracer. It was made of gold, with an intricate design of a banyan tree engraved onto it, though the color of it had faded with time. On the other side of it were three belt-like straps designed as fasteners, with a rectangular-shaped compartment whose long side faced the same direction as the length of the golden plating.

    The other item he recognized was the MP5 sub-machinegun along with several ammo clips. It was in the general shape of a regular MP5, looking like an elongated pistol with same grip as one and a slightly curved magazine. At the moment, the iron sights were flipped down for the mounted optic to be used. There was also a small opening at the top for the sling currently attached to it and a retractable stock at the other end. The most distinguishing feature of this particular gun, though, was the dull white spider engraving on both sides of it, just above the trigger, with two pairs of legs pointing upward and downward, identifying the weapon with his alter ego and its customized nature.

    The last item was a flash drive, one he knew couldn’t belong to him, as he already had his own. It was a simple black flash drive with an equally simple cap on it.

    Vikas raised his head in confusion. These were weapons that could only assist him in his task of killing Uncle, yet they were being dropped at his feet like toys given to a baby.

    “What, are you giving me my stuff back as an early birthday present or something?” he asked.

    “Oh, yes I am,” said Uncle as he slowly turned around and started walking away for a bit. “You see, I kind of need your help with something.”

    “And just what reason would I have to lend you a hand with anything?!” shouted Vikas. He hardly needed to bear witness to Uncle’s audacity in committing murder of loved ones and coming back to ask for a favor.

    “Easy, easy, easy, Vicky, there’s people about to wake up soon!” The desperation in his whisper and the fast manner in which he spoke seemed to confirm as much. “Look, before you do that, just pick up your stuff, will ya?”

    “…Does that include the flash drive?” Vikas had calmed himself a bit, his voice returning to normal.

    “Of course.” Uncle nodded his head.

    As he slowly crouched down to pick up his belongings, Vikas heard Uncle attempting to stifle some laughter. The man was a complete and total nut, spouting random internet jargon or quotes from his favorite video games or comics or whatever caught his fancy at the moment. This kind of behavior was generally how he acted, though in this case there was little provocation.

    Vikas snarled as he fastened his bracer onto his left arm. “And just what the hell do you think you’re laughing at?”

    “It’s just you,” said Uncle. “I’m wondering what you were thinking by hiding from me. You thought you were going to catch me? Kill me? Stop everything I’ve worked for? You can’t do anything unless I give you my say-so. You can’t even piss or shit without my permission!”

    “Says you! I’ve done lots of things without your permission!” His voice had raised itself again.

    “Like what? Just what have you done without me saying you could do so?” asked Uncle, seemingly forgetting that there were monks living here and that Vikas had just shouted at him. Worse yet, he had one of his smirks on what Vikas could see of his face beneath his hood.

    Vikas was about to open his mouth, but the only sound that escaped his lips was of him sucking his gritted teeth. His heart was beginning to beat faster as well. It was rare that he gave something like this any thought, and it was even rarer that someone would ever ask him such a question. Still, there had to be something. Maybe one of his brothers remembered something that was slipping his mind at the moment.

    “Vicky, ignore this stupid ass!”

    Turning to his left, he saw Queen, now wearing a white t-shirt with a gray and black hoodie on top of it, his face looking as if it were turning inward and waving his hand at Uncle wildly in his usual dramatic fashion. This was a sight he needed to see right now. Maybe he couldn’t come up with an answer, but Queen certainly could, and his answer happened to be something Vikas failed to realize.

    “Yeah, you right Queen!” said Vikas. He got to his feet and pointed an accusing finger at Uncle. “Why do I have to listen to an old man who belongs in the asylum? All you ever do is say random nonsense, like asking if they used a location in a video game or if we read the latest chapter in some manga or whatever!”

    As he finished, he expected Uncle to give some sharp-tongued retort, but all he found himself waiting for was silence. Silence that lasted for several moments. It was uncharacteristic of him to just stop in the middle of an argument like this.

    “Are you hallucinating?” He looked like he was about to start laughing again. “Did you seriously just hallucinate Queen? I thought I was the only crazy one, but wow. You really have just reached a new level of pathetic. You’re supposed to be better than this, you-“

    “Shut the fuck up!” He had already come close to the limits of his patience just by being near Uncle. Any more mockeries of his brothers would be enough to shatter what little was left of the invisible wall protecting Uncle from him.

    “Quiet down, Vicky! It’s almost six in the morning, as in time for the monks to wake up. If you aren’t careful, we’re going to get caught. Not that I expect my organization to be taken out by some lunatic.”

    “…Fine, but make it clear about what it is that you want or else I’ll take the liberty of heading straight back home and blocking the number you-“

    “Troll.” As if to add emphasis, Uncle pointed at him with an air of authority about his gesture.

    “…Huh?” said both Vikas and Queen at the same time. Such a sudden response could only get a reaction like that out of them.

    “Plotkai!” said Uncle as he changed his finger gesture into a full fist and lowered his arm. “Yeeeaaaah, I know you were going to say that, so I figure I should take this opportunity to remind you about your mom and your little brother and sister. Y’know, about how I have them hostage now and can send people to kill them if I feel you aren’t cooperating with me?”

    “What?! Let them go! They have nothing to do with this!” Vikas stomped his way over to Uncle and grabbed him by the collar.

    “Well, I can’t, Vicky, because they have a lot to do with this,” said an unfazed Uncle. “I need you to help me with something, but if I let them go, well…there goes my leverage.” He shrugged his shoulders. “And besides, as long as you work with me on this, then there’s no reason why I should off them, right?”

    Vikas sighed and let go of Uncle, his head hung. “You’d better keep your promise, Hafez. Otherwise-“

    “Why’d you call me ‘Hafez’? What happened to Uncle?” His head tilted to the side a bit, perhaps in confusion.

    “You’re not his uncle or my uncle, Hafez,” said Queen, slapping himself on the side of the head and shaking it.

    “That’s exactly it. Thanks, Queen,” said Vikas before turning around to face Uncle again. “Don’t even bother trying to make me call you anything else.”

    “Well, fine, if your hallucinations of your ‘friends’ are telling you not to call me anything else, then go ahead and call me whatever you want.” He was most likely wrong, but he was certain he saw Uncle’s head hang itself a bit, with the smirk fading somewhat from his face.

    “…So, you plan on telling me what it is you called me up here for or are we going to continue this heated exchange?” As much as he wanted to yell at Uncle about how he wasn’t a lunatic and that the spirits of his brothers were not hallucinations, Vikas had to admit that the old man had a point about the monks. While most of them didn’t sleep around this area, there were enough of them around to call attention to the two hooded men on the roof of one of the buildings of their temple complex.

    “Oh, right,” said Uncle as he slapped himself lightly on the forehead. “Well, since you seem to have calmed down a bit, I guess we can get down to it.”
    He made for the edge of the roof and pointed at the fountain. “Right there. I want you to sneak into the base under the temple and get your laptop up to speed with the system.”

    Vikas stared at Uncle dumbfounded, with his mouth hanging open. Looking around, he found Queen to have disappeared. He’d have to ask him about that later.

    ‘This is some kind of joke, right? He wants me to sneak into the base and update my laptop or else my family is going to be killed?’

    “That has to be the most retarded set of instructions I’ve ever heard from you,” said Vikas as he moved forward until he was on Uncle’s left, shaking his head and frowning. “You’re holding my family hostage just because I disconnected my laptop from the database? You trying to keep an eye on me at all times or something?”

    Uncle snickered. “That’s not exactly the case. But, if you can do that without being caught, then I’ll give you the full explanation.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “It’s a miracle no one’s come out yet and looked up at the rooftops. You know how much shouting you did?”

    “Whatever, Hafez, what time is it, like five o’clock or something?” said Vikas as he pulled back the right sleeve of his hoodie to reveal a black and red wristwatch. Pressing a button on the side to light up the digital display, he raised his eyebrows. “Six-fifty five?” He turned to Uncle. “How long did you knock me out?”

    “ Just over an hour and a half,” replied Uncle nonchalantly. He raised his right hand and waved it forward. “C’mon, pick up your equipment and let’s get down to business. I need to make a phone call.” From beneath his cloak, he produced a cellphone. “And I didn’t do anything dangerous to you while you were out, just so you know.”

    Vikas massaged his sweating forehead and his aching temples with both his hands. Regardless of whether or not Uncle was lying, he had a difficult task ahead of him, one that he would have to complete for the sake of his family.

    This was going to be a rough Sunday.
    Last edited by The Booty Warrior; 25th September 2011 at 03:34 PM.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

  11. #11
    It wasn't much! Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Well this is long overdue now isn't it. I hope that you can keep this fic going or this review is going to lose some of its meaning.

    Well to start things off I want to remind you that I've never played Kingdom Hearts. I, however have admired the games and really liked them and while I had tons of chances to buy 380 I didn't want to because I wanted to play the original first I never had the console though. Anyway I understand that it's a prequel which explains why its setting is the real world rather than the cross between Disney and Final Fantasy in the games.

    The plot in itself is unclear aside from the fact that the world seems to be coming apart slowly by a war of some kind and I assume that this'll be explored later on. I really like Vikas, he's a serious hero with a noble goal and it's really bad about what happened to his family after his faked death. Hafez on the other hand is a really silly and eccentric villain so that's good too and from what we got in the last chapter he seems to be powerful too; oddly enough I actually thought he was a good guy back in the first chapter when he was first introduced.

    Vikas Keyblade's really weird though is it a sword or is it a spider like blade with eight swords or something like that.

    Aside from that everything seems to be fine aside from some spelling mistakes in the first chapter and the fact that your chapters tend to have dull moments though this seems to have decreased by the third chapter so that's good.

    Anyway I'll be waiting for the fourth chapter to come out and to see if Vikas can sneak into the base without being found out.

    Also this review came earlier than expected...surprise!

  12. #12
    Yeezy taught me The Booty Warrior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    Quote Originally Posted by Sky Flame Haze View Post
    Well this is long overdue now isn't it. I hope that you can keep this fic going or this review is going to lose some of its meaning.
    Don't worry, brah. Thanks to you, I've received some renewed conviction to this fic. It's gonna happen, my mans.

    Well to start things off I want to remind you that I've never played Kingdom Hearts. I, however have admired the games and really liked them and while I had tons of chances to buy 380 I didn't want to because I wanted to play the original first I never had the console though. Anyway I understand that it's a prequel which explains why its setting is the real world rather than the cross between Disney and Final Fantasy in the games.
    Ah, well, I'm glad you mentioned that. As far as this entry goes in the trilogy (yes, this is going to be a trilogy), you won't have to know too much in-depth stuff, because I'm going to be making a few twists of my own on canon.

    The plot in itself is unclear aside from the fact that the world seems to be coming apart slowly by a war of some kind and I assume that this'll be explored later on. I really like Vikas, he's a serious hero with a noble goal and it's really bad about what happened to his family after his faked death. Hafez on the other hand is a really silly and eccentric villain so that's good too and from what we got in the last chapter he seems to be powerful too; oddly enough I actually thought he was a good guy back in the first chapter when he was first introduced.
    Ah, yes, within two chapters, the plot is going to become fully clear. That, I can definitely assure you of.

    I'm glade you like Vikas, as he's a sort of avatar of me. However, before people come down on my throats with declarations of the stigma of such a character, I'd advise all readers to ease up. By the end of this story, I'm sure that most if not all readers will be sure that this little aspect of him is not a bad thing. I'm also glad you like him for his seriousness. He is, after all, 26 years old, and he knows the odds he's up against better than anyone else, so taking the situation as a joke would get him killed.

    I'm glad you do feel bad for his family situation. I was afraid I may have been filling it up with melodrama.

    As for his "noble goal"...well, I'm glad you appreciate it. However, when I mentioned "psychological themes" up top, this "noble goal" is involved in one of them. We'll see if he can keep his mind focused on that goal as the story progresses.

    I am curious, though, as to how you didn't make any mention of how he went apeshit the moment he saw Hafez in Chapter Three, or of the apparitions of his dead friends.

    I hope that from your comment, you also like Hafez. I was afraid I was making him too silly or eccentric, so I hope that his curb-stomping of Vikas so soon re-established his villain cred. Or at least if he really "is" a villain. I did find it odd that you thought he was a good guy based on Chapter One.

    I did want to make him seem out of touch with reality, as this will be important to understanding him later on, and whether or not he really will be able to achieve what he wants. "Psychological themes" applies to him as well, not to mention his relationship with Bashar.

    Vikas Keyblade's really weird though is it a sword or is it a spider like blade with eight swords or something like that.
    Think of it as one of those double-shafted Keyblades, except with those serrations you see on certain swords.

    Sort of like this, but more spider-like: http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110113192339/kingdomhearts/images/f/ff/Master_Xehanort%27s_Keyblade_KHBBS.png

    Then, just imagine four blades sticking out of the shaft on the back curving and pointing up and four more on the side with the "teeth" except pointing downward.

    Does that help? ^_^;

    Aside from that everything seems to be fine aside from some spelling mistakes in the first chapter and the fact that your chapters tend to have dull moments though this seems to have decreased by the third chapter so that's good.
    Ah, well, I knew they'd seem dull, since it's taking some time to get into the real action. However, in the next chapter, things will start to pick up well.

    Anyway I'll be waiting for the fourth chapter to come out and to see if Vikas can sneak into the base without being found out.
    Oh, don't you worry about it. I've already gotten far in the chapter, so I'm not gonna stop. And thanks again for reviewing! It means a lot to me. I didn't think anyone would read this when I first posted it.

    Also this review came earlier than expected...surprise!
    I know, man...you got the jump on me, the master of stealth. At least I'll be able to repay the favor somehow.

    Now, to re-respond to Gastly's Mama, since I accidentally deleted my earlier reply a few months back when I tried to post Chapter Three.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama View Post
    Ok, so I've finally gotten round to making a start on this fic.

    I've only read the first chapter at the moment but I'll make sure to read the second within the next 7 days. You write some hella long chapters, man, you're giving Legacy a run for his money! There's nothing wrong with that, ofc, when I write actual novels my chapters are probably around the same size, I just tend to reduce them for things I post here so they're easier for people to read. However, each to his own and hopefully once I catch up each chapter will be a little easier to digest.
    Hee hee, I didn't realize my chapter lengths were starting to rival Legacy's. Hopefully that will end up being a good thing. I also do hope you'll be able to catch up. You are one of the best fanfic authors I've had the honor of meeting, so I really appreciate your advice.

    Also, a quick question - what made you decide to set this in India? Do you have some kind of roots there? Is something to do with Kingdom Hearts set in India? Interesting setting, it's rare to see a fic set in somewhere other than the US, a similar country or a country that isn't similar but is accidentally portrayed as the US or similar =P Good job!
    Well, it's not that there's some aspect of Kingdom Hearts is set in India. This world I've created is simply one original world. I have mentioned before that this is going to be the first part of a trilogy, so there will be more traditional Kingdom Hearts stuff later on, but most likely not in this first part.

    I do have some Indian ancestry, actually. If not, then I am convinced I have the genetic equivalent of Re-Vitiligo.

    Of course, this story won't just be in India. We goin' on a round-da-world trip with this fic, so brace yourselves!

    That second sentence seems a bit awkward and needs a little bit of rephrasing. "The disruption that was now present in India was so far from the peace they had once had that it could not all possibly be attributed to the arrival of the war." That's not perfect and you can probably come up with something better yourself but I think you should think about that sentence.
    I agree, it's not the best-worded. I'll be sure to think of something better.


    This paragraph was kind of pronoun overload. It was really difficult to keep track of who you're talking about. Obviously, pronouns make it seem a bit nicer but, in my opinion, presentation comes after clarity so you should think about being a bit more repetitive to make things clearer, or, at the very least, restructure the sentences to make it more obvious.
    Indeed, it was. Thanks for pointing it out. I forget that good rule sometimes, you know?

    I think you mean the maternity ward =P
    Ah, yes, thank you. I could correct that...or I could simply use it in a simple scheme to add to characterization further down in the chapter I'm writing right now, allowing me to post it and pretend that it was all "just as planned".

    Seriously, though, thanks a lot for mentioning that. It was rather vital.

    Are the names 'Bashar' and 'Hafez' the wrong way round in this sentence? They seem it.
    You're right. I do need to fix that sentence. They aren't misplaced, but I didn't properly write the sentence. Sorry.

    Also, you referred to Vikas as Vikash a couple of times.
    Oh, yeah, that. When I first wrote this fic, I was pretty sure that his name was spelled "Vikash", but when I checked online, it was "Vikas". So, I went over it, fixing as many errors as I could. Guess I must've missed a few.

    There were also a couple of other mistakes but they were little things that you will easily be able to spot if you re-read.
    At least nothing major after that. Whew...


    On the whole, I liked this chapter but I didn't like the intro. In my opinion, there was a little too much 'tell' and not enough 'show'. You started with a lengthy explanation of the background of the story which, in all honesty, was a little boring. I'm not just talking about the prologue either, I mean the beginning of the first chapter. I know it feels like you need to explain everything for your readers to understand and enjoy your story but you don't - you only need the very basics, the rest can be filtered in as you go along. In the case of this story, for example, you could've left the prologue as it is and then you'd have been fine just saying that it was in India, there was a war going on (possibly mentioning that it was religous) and then just skipped to Vikas checking himself out in the mirror and then have Queen talk to him from behind. From there on, you could've subtly added in mentions of the history as you went along with the story.
    I agree. I kept trying to re-read the intro, but I couldn't do it, so I guess you were right, brah. I'll just have to do better next time.

    A technique that is more common than you probably realise is including a rookie character (or making a character a rookie when they didn't need to be for any other part of the function of their story) or a character who has very little knowledge of local history compared to the other characters. That way you can have the characters explain everything and the reader doesn't feel like they're being talked to and it sounds a lot more natural.
    Ah, yes, I remember that. Well, with regards to the story, it would be very, very difficult to pull something like that off, so I guess I tried info-dumping instead. I will, however, make good use of it in the future. That, I can promise you, although I have a feeling that by the time I do, you'll have probably forgotten about it.

    The rest of the story, however, was excellent:
    I'm glad for that, at least.

    Nice foreshadowing here, I look forward to finding out exactly how these fanatics did rise to power. I doubt you would've pointed this out if you weren't planning to show us.
    Indeed, I do plan on showing what happened there. I just hope it works out well.

    I love this. I'm guessing that this is going to be a recurring theme throughout the story and it was a great way to introduce it. Is this something you have created yourself or is it a part of the Kingdom Hearts canon already?
    Well, it's sort of something already in Kingdom Hearts. Whenever certain characters think really hard about someone they really care about, they can receive a sort of apparition of that person. However, whether or not I choose to twist this aspect of Kingdom Hearts canon will take some time.

    The appearance of Gregory raised further questions. It appears it is not just people who you've made a positive bond with that can come to visit you... I wonder if this is their actual presence after death or simply their consciousness from their time of death or even from the time that the subject remembers them.
    Well, we'll just have to see what's going on here, right?

    Again, I look forward to finding out more about Vikas' balance between light and darkness.
    Oh, yes, that is quite important to the aforementioned "psychological themes" thing I'm gonna put in later.

    All in all, good job. I haven't played Kingdom Hearts but this was a totally comprehensible fic and read as if it was totally original. I look forward to reading more, unfortunately I don't think I will have time today.
    Don't worry about it. I'll be glad when that time comes when you can fully catch up. ^_^

    Great job! Do you tag people in your new chapters? If so, could you tag me please?
    Well, naturally, seeing as how I tagged you, of course I will.
    Last edited by The Booty Warrior; 31st October 2011 at 09:31 PM.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

  13. #13
    Registered User Lord Clowncrete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War

    @The Booty Warrior

    I just finished the first chapter. and I really like what I have read so far. I especially find hafeez's character intriguing. And i find the backdrop of the story interesting too. Either way, you have done a good job and your descriptions of place and people are excellent. Keep it up.

    I'll comment on this further once i finish reading the next chapter.
    The Booty Warrior likes this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Takaki View Post
    @Pikmin1211; Pokemon Online has options for all but rotation battles. None of those you listed are competitive metagames though except Cresselia championships... I mean VGC.

  14. #14
    Yeezy taught me The Booty Warrior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War (3)

    I appreciate the compliments very much, man!

    I would also like to mention that Chapter Four is almost ready. I can't believe it's taken six months, but hopefully this next chapter will be good enough to make up for it. ^^;
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

  15. #15
    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kingdom Hearts: Lost War (3)

    Okay, so I've finally caught up and I am enjoying this so far. Again, I have no prior knowledge of Kingdom Hearts, so the fact that you can get me interested in this fic and storyline is a compliment to you and your writing ability.

    My favorite part of your writing is the energy that you clearly write with. It really shows, especially through the characters' dialog, particularly Vicky and Vikas. The dialog itself comes off as genuine and accurate to how I imagine the "real" people would talk, but still is easy to follow and contributes to the story.

    Overall, a few word usage issues but nothing major at all. I think you are a talented writer. It takes a lot for me to get into a non-Pokemon fic, so cheers to you!

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