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Without Armor

Title: Without Armor
Part: 1/10
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Ansem/Cloud, Sephiroth, Riku
Rating: MA
Summary: Ansem plans to catch a god. But he becomes the one to take the bait.
Notes: Without Armor...

With Sora out of the way, Ansem had all of the pieces in place - except for one. As much as he was unwilling to admit it, he was nowhere near as powerful as he wanted, no, needed to be.

He did have a solution in mind though, one that would supply him with more than enough energy to reach his goals. All he needed to do was catch himself a god.

Maleficent disagreed with him when he insisted he needed to bring another person to Hollow Bastion. But it wasn't as if she ran the show. She was a lackey, whether she believed it or not. She was no match for him anyway. It was just that she did such a good job keeping the others in line or else he would have killed her on the spot. That or sent her off into the black void in which he hoped to have Sora trapped for a few months longer. Until he could get what he needed.

Instead of sending an underling in his place, Ansem went to the land of the gods himself.

There was, of course, a slight flaw in his plan. The more Ansem insisted that he required a one of Hades' contracted minions, the more Hades figured he had prime property that shouldn't be given up so easily.

But, after some stealthy negotiation and a promise of a legion of strong, powerful heartless for the Coliseum, Ansem collected a very unconscious blond warrior and headed back to his domain.

Opening his eyes, Cloud puzzled as to why his vision was a bit blurry and why his head hurt so badly. A moment later he realized he should know the answer by now. He'd been knocked out so many times in his life that coming to in a completely different situation shouldn't have been so shocking.

Still, instead of a dungeon or worse, he was laying rather comfortably on a wide, soft bed.

Cloud sat up, checking out his surroundings. Wherever he was, it wasn't the Coliseum.

"What the...?" he said to himself, raising a hand to his head to check for lumps or blood. Blinking again, he found himself to be without any of his armor. Thankfully he was still dressed. Closing his eyes, Cloud fought off a vivid flashback of another time, another place.

He had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, and it wasn't just the slow burning hunger tugging at the edge of his mind.

He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood. A wave of dizziness passed over him, causing him to stumble at first, but he finally made his way to the door of the elaborate room. Hopefully whatever lay beyond would offer some explanation for his position.

The hallway beyond didn't lend much of a clue as to his whereabouts. Each direction looked the same, dark and deserted.

"Up so soon?"

Cloud spun around, not sure how he was going to defend himself. He wasn't much of a brawler, despite his friend Tifa attempting to teach him more than once. He struck out at where the voice had come from, not expecting his fist to be caught in a ball of black energy.

Mages were tricky, Cloud knew, having spent a reasonable amount of his life around them. But they had weaknesses. And he didn't have to find those weaknesses right away. In fact, he was rather sure he wanted to know just what was going on.

"Where are we?"

"My home," the voice behind the energy said. Cloud pulled his fist back and the energy vanished.

Blinking, Cloud thought for a moment that it was Sephiroth who stood there. But after coming to his senses, he saw more differences than similarities. The man's skin was darker, his hair just a bit lighter. And his eyes were a captivating orange-red.

"You brought me here? Why?"

"Were you really enjoying the Coliseum that much, Mr. Strife?" the man asked, smiling a rather sinister smile.

Cloud didn't answer. He wasn't about to volunteer any information until he knew what was going on. He wasn't even sure if he was a prisoner or not. Most of his captive experiences had involved being, well, more captive.

"In this place, whatever you desire will be yours," the man said a moment later, raising an eyebrow at Cloud's silence.

"I desire to know what's going on," Cloud replied flatly. Surely it wasn't such a difficult request.

"You are now a resident here," the man explained. "I bought out your contract at the Coliseum."

Cloud was confused as to why anyone would do that. Unless he was to become some sort of assassin here, Cloud was unsure of any purpose he could serve.

"Am I to serve you?" he asked finally, bracing himself for what seemed like the obvious answer.

"You are to be a guest in this realm," the man said, smiling after he spoke. The look in his eyes frightened Cloud ever so slightly. It was the look of a man standing at the edge of sanity.

"A guest?" Already, something was screaming foul in Cloud's mind. Yet he also knew that there was little chance his host would be willing to spell out the plan. He didn't seem to be in any danger. Apparently the only way to find out the real story was to wait for it to show itself.

"As I asked before, Mr. Strife, were you really enjoying the Coliseum?"

Cloud narrowed his eyes for a moment before answering. "I thought it could help me."

"I can help you," Ansem replied. "Whatever you desire, I can get it for you."

And that was the moment Cloud realized that yes, he was very much in over his head in something he really didn't want to understand.



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