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Kingdom Hearts Luminary Uprise

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A Kingdom Hearts II fan fiction Note: this takes place after the Demyx and Rosalina trilogy, just so you know why one of the Nobodies is now referred to by a different name.

1: Cloaked Scheming

Nine Nobodies, tucked away in the deepest basement of Castle Oblivion, mourned their current situation. “How did you stand being in this dusty, musty room for so long?” Xigbar asked Zexion between sniffles. “And I thought you were the one with the sensitive nose.” Zexion shrugged. “Sacrifices.” “I’m still kind of worried…” Luxord looked around. “It’s just the nine of us. There should be ten of us. What the heck happened to Demyx?” “Who knows?” Lexaeus shrugged. “Does this mean that there’s a way you can die,” Luxord said, trembling, “and go so far that not even evil resurrection can bring you back?” “Who knows?” Lexaeus repeated. Resurrection: the method that the Organization’s leader had used to bring his precious Organization back to life. He thought they would help him take over the worlds again, and come back in greater force than before…but they had other plans. Xigbar, Xaldin, Vexen, Lexaeus, Zexion, Saïx, Luxord, Marluxia, and Larxene had gathered in this secret place in order to discuss how they would break away from their leader. They were sick of being used…tired of not being allowed to live their own lives…and many of them were, at last, through with the cruelty they were forced to enact on the other worlds. However, they were not free to go. Their leader was more powerful than all of them combined…as well as more powerful than before. And so they gathered, hoping to find a way to overthrow him. “This can’t go on,” said Zexion. “It just can’t. So here’s what I think we should do…” “When did you get put in charge?” Saïx challenged. “Shut up,” said Marluxia, and Vexen shot number VII a glare. Zexion in charge just seemed…obvious. “You could be our new Superior, you know,” said Xaldin, who had hardly known anything but following the crowd. “No.” Zexion turned his head away from Xaldin. “There will be no new Superior. As soon as the current Superior is down…we’re free. I don’t care what the rest of you do with your lives. I’m going to find myself someplace quiet and never come out.” The others nodded. They hadn’t the capacity to feel bad for the self-pitying Zexion. In fact, they were used to his gloom. “I think,” Zexion suggested…knowing it was risky…”if we had the right kind of weapon, we could take him down.” “I wish Axel was here,” said Larxene, surprisingly. “Why do you want HIM here, of all people?” Xaldin asked. “If what I heard is correct, he rebelled after Roxas left. Who better to help us than an expert in rebellion?” “I’m an expert in rebellion,” Marluxia shot back. “Roxas!” Xigbar moaned. “Why did you have to bring up the little dude? He was the only one who had a chance of defeating the Superior! Plus, he was cool!” “He DID defeat the Superior,” Zexion pointed out, “in both of his forms. Roxas just did it as Sora. Dare I say it…I wish Sora was on our side, just once.” The others, shockingly, nodded in agreement. “Roxas, wherever you are…” Zexion said to the ceiling. “Come on, Axel,” said Xigbar. “We made it out of the dead. So can you!” “Demyx, you dummy,” Larxene called to no one, “where are you?”

“So it’s settled,” said Zexion. “We have talked for an hour, and…we are no closer to finding the perfect weapon than we were an hour ago. Disappointing, but…I won’t give up.” Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. “The Superior…” Marluxia backed up against the wall, cringing. “I’ll go check this out,” said Saïx. He portalled out of the room. He portalled back in, stunned. “You wouldn’t believe…” “What is it?” the others all said. Saïx opened the door. Axel leaned casually against the frame of the door, grinning at the rest of his former Organization. Behind him, Sora smiled and waved energetically. “Hi, everybody!” he greeted. Luxord’s eyes rolled up into his head, and he hit the floor, unconscious. That was the one event he wouldn’t have bet on in a thousand years. “You called?” Axel asked.

The two were mobbed by the other Nobodies. “Where WERE you?” “Didn’t you die?” “I thought you’d want to DESTROY us!” “Um…aren’t you, like, not on our side?” “Hey, hey, hey!” Axel yelled. “One at a time! Okay, I’m obviously not dead. Naminé saved me after I faded into the darkness. Then I went to live on the Destiny Islands with Rox—er, Sora.” “I felt like someone was calling me in my heart about an hour ago,” Sora explained. “I could tell it was made of darkness, this call…but somehow, I knew the darkness needed help. As soon as Axel and I figured out where the call was coming from, we realized it was YOU. Now, I wasn’t really a fan of your actions, and I’m not gonna let you mess up any more worlds, but I don’t really know that I approve of your suffering. At any hands but mine, anyway.” He winked. “I’m kind of addressing you as Roxas, not as Sora. We did use to be a team, remember?” “Worry not,” Zexion sighed. “We are not going to be ‘messing up’ any more worlds. Our target is just one man…the Superior.” “We’re sick of him!” Xigbar spat. “I don’t know that I want to go about finding my heart this way,” said Vexen. “I’d rather pursue its replacement through experiments in synthesis…not by forcibly ripping the hearts from others.” “He just treats us as his slaves,” said Larxene. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being a slave.” She clenched her fists. “I’d rather be NICE.” “And that’s saying something,” Marluxia muttered. “Taking down Xemnas, without hurting the rest of the worlds?” Sora pondered the situation. “I guess you can count me in.” “Me too,” said Axel. “Anything for a chance to kick that man’s butt from here to Oblivion.” “This IS Oblivion,” Zexion pointed out with a sigh. Luxord jerked up from the floor with a start. “Did Zexion just make a PUN?” Sora laughed. “I guess you guys are starting to change, after all.” “I still can’t believe you trust us,” said Xaldin, shaking his head. “Well, believe it,” said Axel. “You know Sora…too polite for his own good. That’s gonna get you in trouble some day, buddy. And me? Like I said. Takin’ down the Superior is my recurring dream.” “Good,” said Zexion. “Now there are eleven of us.” He sighed. “So close…if only we had our ninth…” Axel and Sora exchanged looks. “About that…” Axel started, but he was interrupted by a knock at the door. “THE SUPERIOR!” Marluxia screamed, heading back for the corner. “We’re dead!” Sora flung open the door without even thinking. Instead of the Superior, in strolled a man with platinum-blond hair and eyes covered by sunglasses, dressed to kill and striding like a male model. He gave a wave of greeting to the Organization before turning to look directly through the fourth wall, and tossing back a lock of his gorgeous hair. “That,” he announced, “was for the fangirls.” “Who are you?” Zexion asked, suspicious. “Forgot me already?” The man peered sheepishly at Zexion over his sunglasses. “Figures. I heard that after the battle for Hollow Bastion, no one even bothered to mention that I was

DEAD. Oh, well. Only to be expected.” Zexion’s mouth dropped open. His eyes—well, the visible one, anyway—widened to the size of golf balls. “DEMYX?” “We’re all present and accounted for,” said Axel. “Actually,” the handsome man corrected, “you can call me Myed.” Luxord passed clean out again.

“…and that’s how I got my heart back,” Myed finished. He had been through a lot since he was last seen by the Organization…a powerful witch of the galaxies had brought him out of the darkness, and an equally powerful witch of the sea (one known in most circles as Ursula) had given him his heart back. She intended to trick him out of his control over water, but he had defeated her instead. “You…lucky…little…” Xigbar growled. “Twerp,” Saïx finished, before Xigbar could insert a more profane name. “No time for jealousy!” Zexion chided. “This is good. Very good. Myed…I take it you’re devoted to the cause?” “Oh yeah,” said Myed. “After what Xemnas did to me? The teasing? The put-downs? The affirmation of my ineptitude? The times he made me CRY?” “Everything made you cry,” Vexen muttered. “Hey!” said Sora. “Show him some respect!” “Oh, I get it…” Vexen joked. “He still cries now, and you’re trying to prevent that from happening.” Axel gave Vexen a not-very-playful slap on the back of the head. “So what ended up happening to you?” Xaldin asked. “I live on the Destiny Islands with Axel and Sora now,” Myed explained. “Hah!” said the now-conscious Luxord. “We all should have known! The three of them were always going to end up in the same place!” “The infamous trio,” murmured Larxene. “Kind of a quintet now,” said Axel, “but we didn’t bring along Riku or Kairi ‘cause this isn’t really their crowd…conflict of interest, you know?” “This is very good,” said Zexion. “It is almost like it used to be…back when we were brothers and sister…before we fell into arguments and cruelty, before our Superior’s sourness spoiled us all. I swear, he ruined all of our lives, all twelve of them…I shall stop at nothing to end his reign.” “I’m behind you,” said Marluxia, standing next to Zexion, “one hundred percent.” With one black-clad hand, he gently stroked Zexion’s cheek. “What the heck?” said Axel, before covering his eyes and yelling, “PDA! PDA!” “Yes,” Zexion growled, “Marluxia and I care for each other. I suppose this comes as a surprise. But…if I may address the audience?” Zexion turned. “I know what you’re all thinking…but this isn’t going to be like one of those smutty stories you all read about us being paired off and doing unmentionable things with each other. This is no casual fling. I care greatly for Marluxia, and I would do anything to ensure he comes to no harm…” “As I would for Zexion,” added Marluxia. “Um, guys?” Myed interrupted. “The fourth wall’s over there.” Zexion and Marluxia did a 180, embarrassed. “Erm, as I was saying,” said Zexion, “this is a REAL relationship. An EQUAL one. NOT the kind you usually see in fan fictions.” “You tell ‘em,” said Marluxia, gripping Zexion’s hand. “Awwww,” said Sora and Myed. “Saps with hearts,” Larxene huffed. “So, Axel,” Xigbar whispered, nudging Axel’s shoulder. “Now that the two of them are official, ready to make a little confession of your feelings for Larx—“ “Shut up.” Axel reached out to snap the band of Xigbar’s eyepatch. “Did I hear my name?” Larxene turned toward Xigbar. “NO,” said Axel. That time he actually succeeded in snapping the patch. “OW!” Xigbar whined. “Zexioooooon, he hurt me!” “He started it!” “Axel! Xigbar! ENOUGH!” Zexion roared, reminding everyone of the true power concealed within the essence of the quiet reader. “Back to the matter at hand!” “Can I say something?” Sora asked. “Well, all Xemnas ever wanted was a heart, right? That’s why he kept destroying worlds! So maybe if we found a way to give him a heart, he’d stop, and set you all free!” Zexion turned toward the wall. “It’s not that simple, Sora. It was never about the hearts. We all thought it was…but all the Superior really wanted was power. All he wants is to rule the worlds as he rules us. And I know this for a reason. It’s because he STILL won’t let us go, not even now.” “What do you mean?” Sora asked. “What’s different now?” Zexion turned back to Sora, fixing one melancholy eye upon him. “Our Superior is not Xemnas,” he announced. “Xemnas has found his heart, and become twice as powerful as you have ever seen him before taking back over us. The man we are against is now known as…Xehanort.” 2: Friends in Need

“Okay…” said Sora, “this puts a new spin on things.” “Indeed,” growled Vexen. “The new Xehanort is a fusion of the Heartless you fought at the End of the World and the Nobody you fought in the World That Never Was.” “No sweat, right?” said Sora. “I’ve beaten them both before…” “SEPARATELY,” said Marluxia. “The two of them together? Near unstoppable,” Luxord added. “Well…okay…” Sora was determined not to give up his confidence. “We have an army of twelve! That should be enough to take him down!” “Xemnas could’ve taken all of us at once but you,” said Zexion. “Besides,” Larxene pointed out, “are you sure that we have TWELVE members capable of fighting?” She eyed Myed suspiciously. “Hey!” Myed whined. “I took down Ursula the sea witch all by myself!” “Wait a minute…” Sora thought about it. “So you mean to say that Xehanort is going after all the worlds?” “Pretty much,” said the nine who had begun the gathering. “And if he ends up defeating us all?” “It’s on to the rest of the multiverse,” Xaldin said somberly. “But that’s terrible!” “No kiddin’,” said Axel. “If the beings of all the other worlds knew about this,” Sora mused, “they’d want to stand up against him too. I could rally a bunch of allies for us! I have friends all over the multiverse!” “Good luck,” Lexaeus scoffed. “We aren’t exactly a popular group to stand by.” “I’m sure they’ll join us,” said Sora, “as soon as they hear what Xehanort is up to!” The others all looked up, down, and to the side, trying not to make Sora feel bad by doubting him. “I’ll start with the Islands!” Sora said excitedly. “Come on. You know at least RIKU will want to be in on this.” Again, eyes shifted everywhere but directly on Sora. “Well,” Sora said, “I’m gonna give it a try. Come on, Axel, Myed. We’re going back to the islands.” “Whee!” Myed rushed for the door. “Not so fast.” Axel grabbed the back of Myed’s shirt. “You got to ride it here. I get to ride it BACK.” “Get to ride…what?” Zexion asked, unsure if he really wanted to know. “Our hang glider,” the trio responded as one. “You…you built a hang glider?” “SORA and RIKU and I built a hang glider,” Axel corrected. “Okay,” Myed gave in. “You get the hang glider. Just so you know, Wavewaker rides like a dream.” “We’re not calling it that!” Sora and Axel yelled. “You’re just jealous because I won the race,” said Myed, “meaning I got to name it.” “You didn’t WORK on it,” Sora chided. “Yeah? Well, I still won the race!” “Hardly fair,” said Axel. “You’ve had too much practice running away from scary stuff.” The three walked out of the room arguing. “You think they’ll ever stop?” Larxene wondered. “Not till they get back to the island,” Vexen answered. There was nothing left for Zexion to do but clear his throat and announce, “Meeting adjourned.”

“Organization XIII,” Riku said in disbelief. “Yeah!” Sora, Axel, and Myed confirmed. “Organization XIII,” Riku repeated. “You want me to come and help them. The guys who ruined my life…with the obvious exceptions of Axel and Myed.” “Don’t think of it so much as helping the Organization,” said Sora. “Think of it as taking down Xehanort! You know, Xehanort? The guy “who REALLY ruined your life to begin with?” Riku answered by saying, “Zexion tried to kill me. Multiple times.” “I’m taking that as a no, Sora,” said Axel. Sora looked pleadingly at his other best friend. “Kairi?” “I don’t know…” was all Kairi said. “All I’m saying,” Riku scoffed, “is it’s gonna take one HECK of an apology to get me to work with them.” Kairi still evoked confusion. Sora sighed. Getting his friends to stand against Xehanort would be harder than he thought…

And it would only increase in difficulty. “You do remember that the Organization stole the Olympus Stone from my father, right?” Hercules said when Sora visited the world of the Olympus Coliseum. “When I catch up with the little thief that did that…” “Meep.” Myed slowly backed away.

“Tarzan…” Tarzan said as Sora talked with him in the Deep Jungle. “Tarzan not strong enough to fight so powerful.” “But you won’t be fighting alone!” Sora argued. “Between the worlds…” Tarzan muttered, “not Tarzan’s place.” That was his final word on the subject.

“I can’t leave the ocean, Sora,” said Ariel. “Donald can use his magic to change you into a human!” Sora explained. “But what about Eric? What if I go into battle and I never come out? What happens to Eric?” “Uhhhh…”

“Xehanort? Back?” Jack Skellington looked scared for a moment, but then burst into laughter. “Impossible! You made sure he was dead! But that gave me a good scare, though! Are you sure you don’t want to work here full time?”

“What are we even doing in the Hundred Acre Wood?” Axel asked. “We’re here to get help from…” Sora suddenly realized what horrible things would come of bringing his fuzzy friends into such a cosmic battle. “Never mind.”

Peter Pan, as usual, was just stubborn and selfish.

“But the man in black with the eye patch nearly destroyed China,” Mulan argued, her brow set. “He’s changed,” Sora tried. “They all have.” “I’m afraid I don’t believe you, Sora.”

“Sure, I’ll join you fellows!” Jack Sparrow said enthusiastically. “Just let me get a few things off my ship…” Sparrow rushed onto the deck of the Black Pearl. “Great!” said Sora. “We’ve finally got someone!” “Um, Sora?” said Myed, pointing at the Black Pearl, which was rapidly sailing out to sea. Sora whipped around. “JACK!” he cried. “Well, now I REALLY know who not to trust around here…”

“I would, Sora,” said Simba. “You know I would. But the rest of your friends are humans. Humans and our pride have never gotten along.” “I could talk to them for you…” Sora tried. “Yeah,” Axel put in, “because the last time you tried to talk to your friends, it worked out SOOOO well.” He reached up with his hind foot to scratch his red and spiky mane.

“Sora? Kind of stuck inside a computer here,” said Tron. “Right,” said Sora. “Never mind.”

“No,” said Leon. “But—“ “No.”

“Not after they let Jafar loose!” Aladdin growled. “Technically, that wasn’t our fault,” said Axel. “That merchant guy didn’t really HAVE to take our advice.” Iago listened in on the whole conversation. No one noticed him flying away.

“Huh…huh…” Iago panted. Flying across light-years was no easy task. He finally arrived at the fortress in the Forbidden Mountains. He entered through a window to find Maleficent. “Maleficent!” he cried. “MALEFICENT!” “There is no need to shout,” the witch calmly assured him. “Maleficent…I heard…from Sora…Xehanort…back…gonna take over the multiverse…” “Hmmm,” said Maleficent. “Such interesting information. One would consider this an adequate reason to gather all of the old allies in villainy and prevent him from taking over the domain that is so rightfully ours. And yet, one must wonder…why would a traitor to our group decide to come back and present such vital information? Perhaps as a trap, to lure us into a state of falsehood?” “NO!” Iago screamed. “I…I…I’m just lookin’ out for your welfare, that’s all! Aren’t we friends?” “Friends? HA!” Maleficent scoffed. “You really have been around the boy too long. He has clouded your senses. And knowing this, it is all the more reason to punish you.” “Punish? WHAT? NO!” The last thing Iago saw was Maleficent raising her staff… And then all went dark.

“Trust me, guys,” said Sora as the gummi ship neared its last stop. “I KNOW these guys will help us out.” “They better,” said Axel. “I’m sick of traipsing all over this stinkin’ multiverse for nothing.” “I have faith,” Myed said boredly, his routine response every time Sora said something of the sort.

“So, will you help us out?” Sora asked, a pleading look in his eye. Myed tried to help out by adding a puppy dog pout. Donald looked at Goofy, who looked at Mickey, who looked back at Goofy. Goofy then looked at Donald. All three said, “Sure!” “WHAT?” Axel cried. “Somebody actually agreed?” “Gawrsh, Sora,” said Goofy, “we’ve been with ya through everything else. If you believe in it, we’ll stick by ya!” “That’s what friends do!” Donald affirmed, looking like he would zap anyone who disagreed with a lightning spell. “I trust ya, Sora,” said Mickey. “Besides, I don’t want to take any chances. Xehanort is a powerful man…” “Great!” Sora beamed. “We’ll even hitch a ride with ya back to the islands!” said Goofy. “We can set up a base there,” Donald added. “You know,” said Mickey, “I’ve known Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, and Ienzo as long as I’ve known Ansem the Wise.” They all were momentarily silent in Ansem’s memory. Mickey continued, “They didn’t seem as bad as they turned out, just a little easily influenced. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xehanort roped them into the whole thing, and now they want to break free.” “Well, then,” said Sora, “what are we waiting for? Let’s get on the gummi!”

“I can’t believe you got people to actually join your stupid mission,” Riku scoffed. Kairi’s mind, however, was made up. “If Mickey agrees with it…I agree with it.” “Kairi!” Riku shouted. “This is the Organization we’re talking about here! You can’t trust them!” “You would have said the same thing about Axel and MyMy,” said Kairi, using her pet name for her newest friend. “Yeah, well, Axel kinda helped save your life, remember?” “After he endangered it in the first place. And I’ve forgiven him.” “And Myed…I wouldn’t have expected a wimp like THAT to have been part of the Organization unless Sora had told me.” Axel fixed Myed with a firm gaze. “Do. Not. Cry. He said ‘wimp’ without thinking.” “I was NOT gonna cry,” Myed growled. “I was gonna get ticked, that’s all.” “Well,” said Sora, “we better come up with sleeping arrangements. My mom said one being can stay at my place…any volunteers?” Mickey, Donald, and Goofy played rock-paper-scissors for it, and Goofy won with a “Hyuck.” “I’ll take the duck,” Axel sighed. “Be prepared to hear the arguing from all the way across the mainland,” Kairi whispered to Myed. “Mickey can stay with me,” said Riku. “Maybe tomorrow we can talk to the others again,” said Mickey. “They might not’ve listened to you, Sora, but they’ll listen to me.” “Good point,” said Sora. “Hey! Wait a minute! Are you saying people don’t listen to me?” “Not exactly…” “YES,” said Riku, Axel, and Donald. “People don’t listen to me either,” said Myed. “I listen to you,” said Kairi, fighting off a blush. “Well, it’s settled,” said Mickey. “Tomorrow morning, it’s back to the mission.”

By midnight, Axel strolled along the beach alone. He and Donald had gotten into an argument not ten seconds after they had reached Axel’s house…apparently, Donald thought that sleeping with candles on all night was a “fire hazard.” Axel didn’t know the meaning of the term, and so a tiff ensued. In order to calm down, Axel left to soothe his nerves in the middle of the night. He had gone out to the island to watch the rising moon. “Good evening, Axel.” Axel whirled around, showing fear for the first time in his life. Behind him stood the last man he wanted to see…Xehanort. “I hear that the Organization is rallying against me,” Xehanort said. “Oddly enough, this occurred around the same time that I learned YOU were alive.” “Whoa, whoa!” Axel countered. “Are you saying I’m behind the mutiny? ‘Cause I’m not.” “Well, if you’re not,” said Xehanort, “who is?” “Ummm…” Axel realized where his loyalties lay. “You caught me. It’s me. The others wouldn’t listen to me anyway, so I tried to…um…take you on myself?” “How amusing,” said Xehanort. “Why do I get the feeling you are lying to protect someone?” “I don’t protect people,” Axel huffed. “Like you didn’t try to protect Roxas,” Xehanort countered. Axel wished Xehanort would just leave. Xehanort, however, had other ideas. “Who is in charge of the conspiracy against me?” Xehanort asked, before holding out his hand and saying, “Veritas.” “The guy in charge is…whoa! Hey! Wait! How did you do that? I almost said the name of the guy! Was that…was that a truth spell?” “Indeed it was.” “Wait. You don’t know how to do truth spells.” “My heartless didn’t. Neither did Xemnas. But I am whole now, Axel. Veritara!” “It’s Z-Z-Z-NO!” Axel shook his head. “You won’t get it out of me! I’ll die first!” “As you wish.” Xehanort flicked his wrist. “Wingardium Leviosara.” Axel rose up into the air, out over the ocean… “What? You’re…you’re really gonna kill me?” Axel gulped. As a fire elemental, immersion in water would mean first the extinguishing of his fire essence, then a slow death… “Would you put it past me?” “I’m not surprised at all, really,” Axel sighed. “Speak now, or die.” “I pick death,” said Axel. “Already happened to me once. How bad can it be the second time?” “As you wish,” said Xehanort. “But first…VERITAGA!” Axel couldn’t control his throat that time. The last word he screamed unintentionally as he plunged toward the depths was “ZEXION!”

                                                                                                                                  • help me************************************************************************************************ “Cease the dance, and return.” ******************

Axel found himself lying on the moonlit beach of the island. He no longer felt the burning of the water on his skin. “What…what happened?” he asked himself. “A real close call,” came the answer. Axel sat up, surprised. He twisted round to see who was standing beside him. “Myed?” “That’s my name. Don’t wear it out.” “Myed…did you just save me?” “Yeah. I dove in the water after you and pulled you to the surface. Then I called the water out of your essence and sent it back to the sea.” Axel thought over the words he had heard while drowning in darkness. “Cease the dance, and return”…they had been said in Myed’s voice! “How did you know I was out here?” Axel asked. “It was just kind of a feeling,” said Myed, “that one of my friends was in trouble.” “And you didn’t want me to die?” “Well, DUH.” Axel stood up. “Come here, you.” “What are you…” Axel pulled Myed into a bear hug. “I underestimated you,” he told his long-underappreciated friend. “Meh. Everyone does.” Axel let Myed out of the hug. “Thanks.” “Anytime, Axel!”

Zexion was also cooling his nerves in the moonlight…however, he chose to do it beneath the glow of the ruined Kingdom Hearts, in the streets of the World That Never Was. “Good evening, Zexion,” a voice greeted. Zexion turned to face Xehanort. “Good evening, Master.” “Master? Are you really fit to call me that?” Xehanort smiled. “The word is that you are out to betray me.” “Lies, Master.” “Lies…the sort of lies that come out of a man put under the truth spell?” “You can’t do a…” “Are you plotting against me, Zexion? VERITAGA!” “Yes.” Zexion’s hands flew to his mouth. “Good to know.” Xehanort vanished. Zexion was confused. “He didn’t want to punish me?” What he didn’t know…was that the punishment was coming. He tried to take a step forward, but his foot was restrained, and his ankle felt a sharp cutting pain. Zexion looked down to see that a black nettle vine had emerged from a crack in the street and wrapped itself about his ankle. A second vine burst up from the asphalt and curled about his other ankle as the first vine crawled up his leg… “What? No! NO!” Before Zexion knew it, he was encased in a ball of thorny vines. All he could see was the dark vegetation…the world around him had disappeared…then the final vine wrapped itself about his neck and prepared to strangle him. Then, a flash of pink cut in front of Zexion’s eyes…the blade of a scythe. Again and again, the scythe carved a hemisphere out of the vine ball until Zexion could see out…and his vision met the bright, beautiful Marluxia. “Zexion!” Marluxia called out in fear of loss. Zexion tried to answer, but the vine around his neck prevented him…black spots were beginning to obscure his sight of Marluxia’s face… Marluxia knew what he had to do. It would be the hardest cut he ever made with his scythe…he could only hope to live up to his title of “Graceful Assassin.” One slip, and he could end up killing his love… Marluxia gently eased the tip of the blade between the strangling vines and Zexion’s neck. When he was sure that he had only vine in the curve of the scythe and no skin, he made the cut… Zexion winced and screamed. Marluxia gasped. He had drawn blood! Or, rather, the dark essence that replaced blood in the veins of every Nobody…he watched it trickle down Zexion’s neck. “Don’t worry,” Zexion coughed. “It’s only a skin wound. I’m fine.” Marluxia repeated the procedure on Zexion’s right wrist, which was also covered in vines. This time, he drew no dark essence. Zexion then used his free hand to rip the vines from his left wrist. “Get out of there!” Marluxia called. “I can’t,” Zexion whimpered. “The vines have got my waist and ankles…” “Hold out your arms,” Marluxia commanded. Once Zexion had done so, he tightly gripped the smaller man around the chest, and heaved him forward. The vines around Zexion’s waist and ankles snapped, and he was ripped free of the ball of vines. Xehanort portalled into the nearby street. “So you have outwitted me,” he said, grinning. “Very spectacular.” Zexion, scared beyond belief, stood as close as he could to Marluxia. Marluxia wrapped his left arm around Zexion protectively as he brandished his scythe with his right. “I hate you,” Marluxia said, swinging the scythe. Xehanort quickly dodged the blade with the grace of a ballerina. “Why do you hate me so?” “Because,” Marluxia seethed, “you can take a strong man…a leader, a fighter, and a thinker…and turn him into a scared mess like THIS!” He nodded toward the shivering Zexion. “This isn’t the way any being was meant to cower, and you know it! Now I will give my all to stand between you and him. You won’t touch him, you monster.” “Monster?” Xehanort chuckled. “The pot calls the kettle black. Do you not remember using your blade against innocents? Plotting behind the backs of your friends to overthrow them? Taking a youth like Naminé, whose whole entity was completely pure of heart, and abusing her? And let us not forget…there was a reason you fell from grace and became nothing in the first place. Half of you…your true half…gave itself over to darkness.” “And YOU show no remorse for YOUR half going into darkness?” “I realize that darkness does not make me evil…and my way is the right. My rule is the rule that should encompass all.” Zexion’s anger built up enough that he could throw off Marluxia’s arm. He stood directly in front of Xehanort, looking up into his red eyes. “No,” he said. “Your rule is the rule of one, and your way is the way of greed! What you have yet to realize is that your path is lonely…and though, even with your heart, you can not feel loneliness, it will come back to haunt you when we rise and overthrow you. For as you have seen tonight, you can attack us and defeat us when we are alone, but together, with each other’s help, we will find a way to outwit you each time!” Xehanort laughed. “Now you sound like the young Key of Destiny!” He turned to face a dark portal. “However…I shall keep that in mind.” He left the area. Zexion turned back to face Marluxia, who couldn’t take his eyes off Zexion’s neck. Zexion wondered what Marluxia was staring at until he put his hand up to his neck, feeling the place where the scythe had cut him. “I’m FINE,” he said sternly. “I…I can’t believe…I never wanted to hurt you,” Marluxia said softly. “It was a good thing you did,” Zexion said with a smile. “It caused us to realize something.” “What?” “If you care that much about hurting me…then you’re not the monster Xehanort called you. Not anymore.” The two ended up in a tender embrace…not like the casual embrace of two friends such as Axel and Myed, but a more delicate affair, where each being attempted to fully live out the short moment he had with the other in his arms… Xigbar portalled in. “Hey, guys!” he called out. “I saw the vines and the portals from all the way…” He stopped in shock. “OH MY GODS!” he screamed, then portalled away. “Was he that disgusted by our relationship?” Marluxia asked, stepping away from Zexion. Zexion planted his face in his palm. “No…” he growled. “It’s not that.”

Xigbar portalled over to the Destiny Islands, where Myed and Axel sat on the beach cracking jokes. “You’ll never believe what I saw!” said Xigbar. “Marluxia was HUGGING Zexion!” “And Zexion LET him?” Axel said in awe. “Wasn’t protesting in the least!” “But Zexion hates hugs!” Myed pointed out. “Probably more than anyone in the whole multiverse!” “I KNOW!” Xigbar screamed in excitement. “That’s why I had to come here and tell you!” “Last time I tried to hug Zexion,” said Myed, “I was just trying to cheer him up…and he punched me in the face.” “See this?” Axel rolled up his sleeve to show the others a ring-shaped scar. “When I found out hugs ticked him off, I tried to give him one just to get his goat. The little twerp BIT me. He has sharp teeth!” “And let’s not forget that he scratches,” added Xigbar. “He has longer nails than you’d expect…which sometimes end up in the wrong place…” Xigbar absentmindedly fingered his eyepatch, remembering the one time he’d tried to lift Zexion’s spirits with a hug. To Zexion’s credit, he had immediately apologized about a hundred times, and insisted it was an accident…but apologies wouldn’t grow Xigbar a new eye, now, would they? “I don’t think I believe you,” said Axel. “You should’ve gotten pictures,” added Myed. “I’m gonna go tell the rest of the Organization now,” said Xigbar. “Oh, and while you’re doing that…” Axel spoke up. “Deliver another message to them. The game is up. Xehanort knows what we’re doing. We’re all kinda fired from the Organization, I’ll wager…I’d advise going into hiding.”

Riku slowly paddled his boat into the mooring station at the island the next morning while the sun was high in the brilliantly azure sky. Suddenly, he was struck by an incredible sight. A large crate stood in the middle of the beach…about double the size of the crates usually found on the island…and the words “To Riku” were scrawled on the side in black paint. Riku approached the crate and gingerly pried off the top to see what was inside. “NO WAY!” he screamed. “Octarine licorice! They stopped making this on the islands years ago! I LOVE this!” He popped a piece of licorice into his mouth. “Read the card,” came a steely voice from behind him. He knew that voice, and held great contempt for it. Riku slowly turned to face Zexion. “I said, read the card,” Zexion insisted. Riku found a piece of paper taped to the side of the crate. He read, scribbled in what could only be called “artist’s handwriting”, “Riku—consider this our apology. –Zexion.” Beneath that, in flowing script, the name “Lexaeus” was also signed. “When I had control of your memories,” Zexion explained, “I saw that you loved this candy as a child.” Riku plucked a strand of licorice from the crate and offered it to Zexion, who put it in his mouth and chewed it thoughtfully. There was silence as the two gnawed on their sweets, Riku with considerably more gusto. “I guess I can forgive you,” said Riku, “and pass my forgiveness on to Lexaeus. I guess this is the heck of an apology I was waiting for.” “Thanks.” “And I’ll help you take down Xehanort.” “Thank you again.” “You know…” Riku seemed hesitant. “You could stay here, you know. Since you’re going to be leaving Xehanort’s rule, and that kinda leaves you homeless. Axel and Myed seem to like it here.” “I’ll consider it,” said Zexion. At that moment, Tidus and Wakka came by, dueling furiously with their swords. “You’re going down, Tidus!” “Wakka! Do you have to hit me so…OW! That’s it! You’re going down!” Selphie skipped across the beach, singing, “La la-la la laaa…” “WAAAAAAAK!” Donald screamed at Mickey for doing something or other that had angered him…it was hard to guess what, as most anything angered Donald. “CANNONBALL CONTEST!” Sora screamed, as he, Kairi, and Goofy leapt off the edge of the dock and produced spectacular splashes. “MYYYYYYEEEEEEED!” Axel screamed. “THAT ISN’T FUNNY! PUT THE SUPER SOAKER DOWN NOW!” “Oooh, fear the water! Scary water!” Myed teased, chasing Axel by with a large and sloshing water gun. Zexion winced from all the noise, remembering his vow to lock himself away somewhere quiet. “On second thought…I’m afraid I must decline.” “Understood,” said Riku. “Sometimes, even I wish I was away from all this chaos…” He looked wistfully out towards the ocean. “But in the end, I realize that my place in the multiverse is here, WHIPPING YOU ALL AT A CANNONBALL CONTEST, YOU LOSERS!” he screamed, jumping into the water after his friends.3: The Neo-Organization

“Maleficent.” Maleficent looked Xehanort up and down, sensing his new magical abilities and sizing them up. “I have a very interesting proposition for you,” Xehanort offered. “You seem to have stolen a fortress from me,” Maleficent growled, “one which I had so rightly claimed after your downfall.” “Take this offer, and you will once more have a place in the Castle That Never Was.” “I don’t want a place. I want ownership.” “Consider the sheer volume of the multiverse, Maleficent. Come with me and my fellows, and a portion of it…a very, very large portion…will in fact be under your ownership.” Maleficent grinned. “Now I am listening.”

“AAAAHHHH! IT BURNS!” Axel responded to Myed’s pained screams by turning his radio up louder. All Axel had wanted to do was lie on the beach and work on his tan while listening to some of his favorite music…but Myed had other ideas. “WHAT IS THIS HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE NOISE?” Myed screeched, clutching his ears. “This is called RAP,” said Axel. “Get used to it.” “Change it. Now.” “No.” “I saved your life…you owe me!” “I’ll pay you back in a different way. Now I came out here to listen to my music, I want to listen to my music, and you are not changing my music.” The two were interrupted by the appearance of a portal, from which came Xaldin. Axel leapt up to face him. “Axel,” said Xaldin, “the rest of the Organization has found a place to hide. We thought we would show you, Myed, and Sora…where is Sora now?” “Out gathering allies,” said Axel. “Fair enough. We shall show him later. Come with me.” The radio suddenly blared “My Sharona,” causing Axel to wince. “What…is…THAT?” “This is called MUSIC,” said Demyx, hand still on the radio dial. “I will get you back for that,” Axel threatened. “Hey! You still owe me your life!” Xaldin rolled his eyes at the juvenility.

“Long story short,” said Mickey, “that’s why we’re out to save the multiverse!” “I see,” said Jack Sparrow. “So…why does this involve the dog and the duck thing monkeying around with my ship?” “Well,” said Sora, “we’re picking up a few more friends on the way back…and they won’t all fit in OUR ship…so we’re fixing up the Black Pearl with some gummis so it can fly between the worlds!” A giant KABOOM sounded from down below, accompanied by Goofy’s trademark “EEEEYAAAAHH-HOO-HOO-HOOEEEEEE!” Sora started forward as if to save them from some unknown danger, but Mickey held up a hand to stop him. “He’s fine,” the mouse assured him. “This happens back at Disney Castle all the time.” “Hey, you!” Sparrow yelled down to the innards of the Pearl. “You be careful with my ship!” “Sorry!” Goofy yelled back. There was then a great CLANG, as though Goofy had dropped a wrench somewhere…most likely on Donald’s foot, as the next sound to come was a “WAAAHAAHAAAHAAAAAKKKKK!” of anger. Sora smiled. “Heh heh…just a few more minutes, and we’ll be able to take off!” “Lord help me…” Sparrow mumbled, retreating to a cabin.

“Nice space,” said Axel, looking around the room the Organization had chosen. “It would be nicer,” Luxord pointed out, “if there was more than one couch…or if certain people would stop hogging it, at least…” “You’re just jealous,” said Larxene, stretching out her feet as she sat next to Vexen on the sole couch. “Larxene,” said Xaldin, “I believe I was sitting there before I left…” “Was your name on it?” Larxene shot back. The twelve enjoyed small talk and minor arguments for a while before Xigbar suggested a game of “What’s the most awkward moment you’ve ever had while in the Organization?” “Easy,” said Axel. “The day my twin brother showed up. Didn’t even remember I had a brother until he popped up. Him and his cocky attitude…all ‘Mom asked me to check up on you’ and ‘Mom likes me better’ and ‘My job is cooler than yours’….I swear, if Reno ever dares set foot within fifty feet of me again, FIRE WILL FLY.” “Okaaaaay…” Xigbar grimaced. “My most awkward moment…” Myed said quietly. “The day I was walking past that bike rack in the street and my cloak got caught on the bike handle and I tripped and fell on my face.” “And I wasn’t there to see it?” said Axel. “Are you sure it wasn’t the time you had too much caffeine?” said Zexion. “You and Axel were in the library, and Axel told a joke, and you fell on the floor laughing…you wouldn’t get up for fifteen minutes. Fifteen. Whole. Minutes. It was rather disturbing, Myed. Then, after Axel left, you finally noticed he was gone and started crying.” “How do you know that?” snapped Axel. “You weren’t there!” “I was there,” said Zexion. “You just never saw me because I was in the back corner reading silently.” He grinned mischievously. “You are too good at that,” Axel grumbled. “Don’t ever try to sneak up on somebody…you might give ‘em a heart attack. Presuming they have a heart, anyway.” Everyone looked at Myed, who gulped. “Speaking of Axel and Myed,” said Vexen, “my most awkward moment was when I walked in on them slow dancing. What was that, the tango? The waltz?” “I told you there was a good explanation for that!” Axel growled. “Oh really? You never told me what it was.” “Well,” said Myed, “you see…” “Myed,” Axel warned. “He didn’t know how to dance, and he wanted lessons, and since I’m the only one of us who has any skill whatsoever in the art of the dance, I had to teach him various slow dances.” Axel let out a sigh of relief. “And why did Axel want dancing lessons in the first place?” Xaldin asked, shooting Larxene another dirty look because of the couch incident. “In case he ever had the chance to go out dancing with Lar—“ Axel clamped his hand firmly over Myed’s mouth. Larxene’s eyes narrowed to slits. “Was he about to say…” “No,” said Axel sternly. “Right.” Larxene didn’t look convinced. Saïx, who had been quiet thus far, piped up unexpectedly. “I have one.” “Shoot,” said Xigbar, aware that whenever he uttered that phrase it became an instant pun. “Well, one day I walked past the Superior’s room, and I saw him…” Saïx broke off to giggle lightly. “Saw him what? Don’t leave us hangin’!” Marluxia coaxed. “He was kissing…” Saïx seemed unable to finish. “WHO? Kissing WHO?” Larxene leaned forward, excited to hear what came next. “…his mirror.” After a two second pause, the Organization erupted into uncontrollable laughter. “I always knew…he was a narcissist…” Larxene wheezed between laughs, “but…I never knew…it was THAT…BAD…” “Why…” Axel gasped, “am I not…surprised?” This made them all laugh harder. After a while, an awkward silence settled. “I never thought I would say this,” said Xaldin, “but I missed the days when we could actually stand each other.” “XALDIN SAID SOMETHING SENTIMENTAL!” Axel crowed. “IT’S THE FIRST SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE!” Myed added. “Perhaps we truly are changing…” Zexion mused. “Yeah,” Axel added. “Maybe you all weren’t so bad.” “What, for all of your ‘Roxas, you were the only one I ever liked’ talk?” Myed challenged. “Hey! How did you know about that?” “The night Roxas left?” “Yeah. You were supposed to meet us.” “I was a bit late, but when I got there, I overheard you two talking about how much you’d miss each other and the rest of the Organization was just jerks.” Axel suddenly did something very surprising. He adopted a facial expression…of regret and sympathy. “Myed,” said Axel, “if you’re thinking…we didn’t mean you. Er, we didn’t mean Demyx.” “Really?” “Well…okay, we did mean you. But when you didn’t show up, we thought you were ratting Roxas out to the Superior. I…I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Roxas said he would’ve missed you if you hadn’t turned on him…we didn’t know you were just late. I guess you must’ve showed up after he said that. I’m really sorry, Myed.” Myed smiled. “So you really didn’t hate me?” “Hate’s a strong word.” “Thanks.” “Gosh, why has everyone gone SAPPY?” Larxene complained. Vexen shot a glance at Saïx in the corner. “Say, Saïx, you all right?” “Yes. Why?” “It’s just that you haven’t said anything before or since that mirror story…you’ve been quieter than Lexaeus. And he’s supposed to be the Silent Hero.” “It’s nothing.” But Saïx’s mind was churning with the thoughts he had before he was under Xemnas’ control…the things he used to think about before his focus changed to getting his heart back…there was someone from his past who had dealt him a great wrong, and revenge flickered in the remnants of his soul. Who was it? He couldn’t remember. If he ever did get his heart back, he would remember, and the revenge would blaze within him…and revenge he would get…but he had no heart, no memory. It would drive him insane, he thought, unless he had a way to come up with the name… The gate outside opened, and the curtain door opened. “Hey!” said a teenage boy. “What are you doing in our usual spot?” “Wait a second,” said a girl, one of two companions who stood behind the angry boy. “Isn’t that Axel?” Axel stood, followed by Myed. “Olette! Hayner! Pence!” they called in greeting. “So this is your spot?” Zexion asked. “Usually,” said Hayner. “That’s why we call it the usual spot.” “I don’t get it,” said Vexen. “Even the three of them still have to figure out a way to share the couch.” “These people are with us,” said Axel. “They’re just trying to hide for a while because there’s a madman after us…it’s a long story.” “A madman after you?” Olette asked. “Like I said, long story.” “Wait…” Hayner and his friends had visited the Destiny Islands multiple times; thus, they were well acquainted with Axel and Myed. “If there’s somebody after you, what about Sora?” “After him too,” Myed moaned. “WHAT?” Hayner screamed. “Thanks a lot for telling us, Sora!” he yelled to the ceiling. “You’d think he would at least have written us,” Olette growled. “I think this warrants a visit to the islands,” said Pence. “He obviously needs our help.” “He obviously doesn’t WANT our help,” Hayner growled. “Well, let’s at least go see what’s up,” said Olette. The three turned to make their way to the nearest gummi ship they could find. Hayner called over his shoulder on the way out, “You can stay in the hangout, but don’t touch my darts!” “I should get going,” said Myed. “Gotta meet KaiKai so we can work on our project.” “This nickname thing you and Kairi have going on with each other is starting to get sick and wrong,” said Axel. His comment went unnoticed, however, for Myed was already gone.

Belowdecks, in the dining room of the Black Pearl, heroes from many different worlds were experiencing an awkward silence. Sora went down to check on them. “Hey,” he said, “why so quiet? Maybe you all want to mingle or something.” He left to check on Donald, Goofy, and Mickey, who were in charge of piloting the ship. “Okay, then,” Mulan muttered. “I suppose I’ll go first.” She walked over to Hercules. “My name’s Mulan.” “I’m Hercules. So what’s your story?” “I assisted with a war back in my home world, and managed to secure the victory.” “Oh, really? That’s a big thing to do for a…” Hercules realized what he was about to say, then closed his mouth. “Were you about to say a girl?” Mulan asked, frustrated. “I’m sorry, I really am…” Mulan stormed off in a huff. “Well, this is going to go well,” Simba sighed. “What’s this?” Jack Skellington crept up to the lion. “A talking lion! I’ve never seen one before! Except in Santa’s toy shop…perhaps this is a giant toy…” He began rifling through Simba’s mane, looking for a wind-up key. “Hey! HEY!” Simba protested. “You’re messing up my mane!” The Prince formerly known as the Beast stared out the window of the ship, already missing his precious Belle. “So I hear you’ve been transformed from a different shape too,” said Ariel, who had given in to Donald’s magic and let herself become a human. “Please,” said the Prince, “I don’t want to talk about it.” All of his thoughts were focused on his faraway love. “Fine,” said Ariel, “if you’re going to be rude.” Jack Sparrow smirked when he looked at Aladdin. The Arabian prince had come on board his ship wearing a spectacularly wrought gold armband from the palace in Agrabah, and Jack had thought himself so kind as to liberate Aladdin of the extra weight on his arm when he wasn’t looking. Jack thought of all the goods he could buy with that one armband in his pocket… “HEY!” he screamed, having been poked in the back with a wooden dagger. He spun around to face the wily Peter Pan. “What do you think you’re doing?” “Giving you your just desserts, Codfish!” crowed Peter. “I’ve taken on hundreds of pirates before!” “Oh yeah?” Sparrow drew his sword, and the two went off in a duel. Despite his toy weapon, Peter seemed to be winning. Sparrow looked across the room to see Aladdin smirking at him. “Fine,” he called out, “go ahead and laugh at my misfortune!” Aladdin wasn’t smiling because of the duel…he was smiling because unbeknownst to Jack, he had managed to transfer the armband from Jack’s pocket to his own. “ENOUGH!” Leon knocked both swords from the fighters’ hands with the Gunblade. A curious Tarzan loped over to the Gunblade to see what it was. “Is everyone here going to be rude to us because we’re women?” Ariel asked. “We can only hope not…” Mulan sighed. “GET OFF!” Simba yelled for the last time. “Oh, that’s shiny!” Skellington joined Tarzan in the inspection of the Gunblade. “You guys wanna leave that alone?” Leon jerked his weapon away. Abovedecks, Sora thanked Mickey for helping him to convince the others to join the cause. “No problem, Sora!” said Mickey. “I just hope they can get along…” A large KABOOM came from belowdecks. “I didn’t do it this time!” Goofy swore. “Oh, no…” Donald hit his head with his wing.

Kairi waited on the cove. She heard rapidly approaching footsteps, and looked up with glee. “MyMy!” “Hey, KaiKai.” Myed stood at her side. “Ready?” “Yeah…you know, MyMy, I think I want to do it tonight.” “Are you sure?” “I’m sure. I mean, we’ve practically perfected it…” “Then we’ll pull it off tonight.”

“HEY, EVERYBODY!” Sora called. The many heroes gathered on the deck of the Black Pearl. “Look!” Sora cried. He pointed out toward the Destiny Islands. “That’s where our base is! You’ll all love it there. Ariel, Sparrow, it’s kind of like both your worlds…” Suddenly, Sora heard the sound of thirteen malevolent laughs…laughs that chilled him to the bone. Thirteen people, cloaked in black, appeared on the deck of the Pearl. “Hey! Who are you?” Donald quacked. The first figure removed his hood. Even though Sora had never seen this particular man before, he was easy to recognize. “Xehanort,” he hissed. “How very observant,” Xehanort replied. “I see you have gathered many friends in order to face me.” “You’d never take us all down at once,” Sora said, suddenly not so sure of himself as he surveyed the other hooded figures. “Exactly,” said Xehanort, “which is why I have rebuilt my Organization.” “REBUILT THE ORGANIZATION?” Mickey, Donald, and Goofy cried in unison. “Allow me to introduce the Neo-Organization.” As each member removed his or her hood, Xehanort announced their name and title. “Number II: Maleficent: the Mistress of All Evil.” “Number III: Sephiroth: the One Winged Angel.” “Number IV: Darth Vader: the Destructive Father.” “Number V: Christopher Carrion: the Nightmare Cultivator.” “Number VI: Ganondorf: the Divine Beast.” “Number VII: Voldemort: the Flight From Death.” “Number VIII: Saint Dane: the Shifting Traveler.” “Number IX: Aro: the Eternal Telepath.” “Number X: Sauron: the Lord of the Rings.” “Number XI: Redd Heart: the Poisonous Rose.” “Number XII: Light Yagami: the Nameless Killer.” “Number XIII: Count Olaf: the Illiterate Pyromaniac.” The heroes were frightened. These people looked ten times tougher than the original Organization. “I’m afraid your trip ends here,” said Maleficent. All of the members of the Neo-Organization put their hands together, and with a radiant flash, they sent destruction through the ship.

“What was that?” Axel asked Riku. “I don’t know,” said Riku, “but it sounded bad.” The two looked out to sea, where a cloud of smoke was visible in the distance. “Oh, not Sora,” Riku mumbled. “Please, not Sora. Nothing happened to Sora…” A figure was visible paddling toward shore. Riku squinted, then let out a large breath. It was Sora. Sora was soon accompanied by several others, all making a break for the shore. They all hit the beach at about the same time. “Everyone okay?” Sora called out. A roll was taken: Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Hercules, Tarzan, Aladdin, Ariel, Skellington, Peter, the Prince, Mulan, Sparrow, Simba, and Leon were all accounted for. “Good,” said Sora. “Ahem!” came a voice from behind him. Sora turned to see… “Olette?” “Yeah,” said Hayner, “and me and Pence too.” “Sora,” said Pence, “if you were in trouble, why didn’t you come tell us?” “I…I didn’t want you to get involved! This is serious stuff! You could get hurt!” “Yeah, right,” said Hayner. “More like you forgot about us.” “Well, I won’t forget about you again,” said Sora. “Welcome to the team.” “That’s more like it,” said Hayner. “Now we have to work out even MORE sleeping arrangements,” said Riku. He sighed. “I suppose I can take Jack.” “Which one?” Axel asked. “Oh, right. I’ve gotta use last initials. I’ll take Jack S.” “Again: which one?” “The undead one.” “Riku…you really have to come up with some better discernments…” “Okay, then, I’ll take Sparrow!” Riku suddenly looked at the heroes Sora had brought, then at the Twilight Town trio, then at Axel. He thought about Myed and the rest of the Organization. “Sora,” he said, “you are a magnet for weird people.”

Sora lay in his bed, almost asleep. He had several guests sprawled about the house; the bedroom was solely Sora’s for the time being. A rock bounced off his window. “Wha…?” Sora sat up and opened the window. He was nearly hit in the face by the second rock. “Sorry!” Kairi called up from below his window. “Kairi!” Sora yelled, not so much bothered from being jerked out of sleep than he was excited to see his beautiful friend. “What are you doing here?” He smiled widely. “Sora,” she said, “there’s something I want you to hear. I’ve been practicing this for a long time.” She cleared her throat, and began to sing:

“When you walk away, You don’t here me say, Please, oh baby, don’t go!”

From behind a bush, Sora could hear the dulcet tones of a sitar accompanying Kairi’s voice…but oh, that voice…it could outsing the sirens.

“You give me…too many things lately… You’re all I need, you smiled at me and said: Don’t get me wrong, I love you…”

Sora smiled, leaning forward so far that he almost fell out the window.

“When we are older you’ll understand It’s enough When I say so, And maybe, some things are that simple…”

The more Kairi crooned, the more Sora fell in love with her, over and over again. When she finished, he called, “I’ll be right down!” and closed the window. Myed came out from behind his bush. “You think he liked it?” “I know he did,” said Kairi with a smile. Sora ran out to meet Kairi. “Thank you,” he said, “so much. I loved it. In fact…Kairi…I never got the chance to tell you this, but I love you.” Kairi blushed. “I love you too, Sora.” The two stood there awkwardly for a moment, before Kairi decided to take a chance. “You know, Sora…we’ve been through a lot together, and we’re going to be through a lot more. I realized that when this Xehanort business began. Our destinies are going to be long and twisted, and we may not always be together.” “But I want to be together…” “As do I. If you really feel that way…that you want our destinies to be intertwined, always…” She rummaged through the bag she kept at her side and pulled out a paopu fruit. “But only if you’re sure,” she said. Sora placed a hand on the fruit. “I’m sure,” he said. They held the fruit up between them, each leaning forward to take a bite… They both stopped. Two pairs of eyes were fixed on Myed, who was watching the lovers with wide eyes and the goofy grin of an overemotional person viewing a romance film. “Erm…Myed?” Sora asked. “Could you…erm…give us a minute?” “Oh. Sure. Sorry.” Myed turned and walked away. When they were sure he had gone, Sora and Kairi each took a bite of the paopu… And thus their fates were aligned forever.4: Weakness

“Yagami,” Xehanort commanded, “come here a moment.” Xehanort led eighteen-year-old Light into a secluded room and shut the door. “I have a very special assignment for you, Nameless Killer,” Xehanort announced. “And what is that, exactly?” Light produced a notebook and a pen from within his cloak. “Would you like your enemies…gone?” “Not yet,” said Xehanort. “I would rather see them suffer, which will be Carrion and Maleficent’s job.” “I can cause their deaths to be long and involving suffering,” Light argued. “I have a better assignment for you, Yagami,” Xehanort assured the youth. “You say your little notebook has the power to deal out heart attacks?” “Unless I write otherwise.” “Here’s what I am thinking…” Xehanort told Yagami his plan. Yagami was stunned. “But…that could destroy the Death Note! I’ve never tried anything like that before! It’s too powerful to mess with, Xehanort.” “Are you disobeying my orders?” “NO!” Light knew what THAT meant. “Of course not! I was merely stating the…I will get right on it, sir.” “Very good, Yagami.”

“After you, Mademoiselle,” said Lumiere, opening the door for his beloved leader Belle. “Thank you,” Belle giggled. She walked over to the dinner table. “It is a real shame that the Master could not join us tonight,” said Cogsworth, taking his place across from Belle. “I’m sure he’s all right,” said Belle, “wherever he is…and Sora’s probably taking good care of him.” All of a sudden, the table seemed to be swimming and quivering in front of her eyes. She leaned backward and pressed her hand to her face. “Mademoiselle?” Cogsworth cried in concern. “Are you all right?” Lumiere added. “I…I’m just a little dizzy, that’s all…” By then, Belle was having a hard time seeing anything in front of her. “Take her to her chambers,” Cogsworth ordered Lumiere. “She needs to rest.”

“He replaced us?” Xaldin said in disbelief. “He truly replaced us?” “All of you,” Sora informed the Organization. He, Axel, and Myed had gone to the Usual Spot to break the news. Xaldin reacted by punching a large hole in the wall. “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!” “Whoa, whoa.” Sora was confused. “I thought you were against Xehanort.” “I am,” Xaldin growled. Vexen took Sora aside. “You see, Sora,” he told the boy, “Xaldin has always been a follower, and he was a close friend to Xehanort in his days as Dilan. Even when Xehanort came back and threatened our security, I doubt Xaldin ever gave up hope that the kind Xehanort who befriended him and the proud Xemnas who gave him a purpose would some day return to him. However, it seems not to be. Without Xehanort, he knows not who to follow.” “Well…he has you all…” “Until we gain our freedom and go our separate ways.” “That’s sad,” said Sora, looking at the enraged Whirlwind Lancer. Saïx also seemed to be saddened by the news, but after seeing the damage Xaldin was doing to the hideout, he refrained from doing anything similar. “HEY!” Larxene cried. “You’re ruining the wall! You’re gonna be fixing that, you know!” Zexion sighed and rubbed his temples. “She says that now, but of course we all know I’m going to end up fixing the wall in the end.” The Schemer’s eyes then lit up unexpectedly. “I think,” he said, “I have a plan for our first attack.” “All right!” several others cheered. “Right on! You go! Fire away!” Once Zexion had explained the plan, however, attitudes changed. “You’re nuts. Not gonna happen! That’s also known in many worlds as SUICIDE!” “Well, I didn’t say you all had to be involved,” Zexion huffed. “Just a few of you for backup in case something goes wrong. Really, if it goes as planned—“ “Which it won’t,” Axel interjected. “—I’ll be the only one doing any hard work. Who objects to that?” Silence. “Does anyone want to come with me as backup in case it goes wrong?” “Which it will,” said Axel. “I’m with you,” said—of course—Marluxia. “It actually sounds like a good plan to me,” said Myed. “I’ll go.” “Myed thinks it sounds like a good plan?” Axel put in. “Now I’m definitely not going along with it. Nothing could make me.” “I’ll go,” said Larxene. “I’m in!” Axel cried. The others stared. “Erm…I mean…I couldn’t just let a fair lady such as Larxene go into battle unprotected.” “YOU WANNA SAY THAT AGAIN, PIG?” Larxene grabbed Axel’s shirt front and dragged him forward so his face was inches away from her snarl. “I mean…because you can obviously take care of yourself…um…it’s not like I…wait, you thought I meant you? I meant a lady such as MARLUXIA…” “AXEL!” Zexion and Marluxia growled in unison. “I’m thinking I should shut up now,” said Axel as Larxene let him go. “Yeah,” said Larxene. “Smart idea.”

“Oh, dear!” Flora cried, zooming through the hallways of the castle. “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!” “What is it, dear?” Merryweather stopped the fleeing fairy. “It’s Princess Aurora! She’s collapsed!”

The five either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid volunteers for Zexion’s plan stood, squished, in Xehanort’s closet. “When will he just show up?” Axel asked. “I am not comfortable in here. Zexion, if you had mentioned we would be hiding in a very cramped space, I would not have come. I mean, my foot’s been asleep for thirty minutes because Myed has been standing on it.” “And Axel’s face is waaaay too close to mine,” said Larxene. “Have you ever smelled fire elemental breath up close? I can tell you right now, it REEKS.” Axel actually looked rather hurt. Myed tried to think of ways to pass the time. “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall…” “NO,” said the other four. “We could finish the Most Awkward Moments game,” said Marluxia. “Zexion, you never told us yours.” “I did,” said Zexion. “I just never said it was my most awkward moment. It was Demyx on caffeine.” “Mine also involves Demyx, incidentally,” said Marluxia, shooting a glare at Myed. “I remember one morning, I was going about my usual routine, showering, and I just happened to be singing at the same time, when Demyx portals into my BATHROOM and starts gushing about how beautiful my voice is.” “I can’t let good musical talent go unrecognized!” Myed wailed. “Try recognizing it when I have some clothes on,” Marluxia shot back. “What about your awkward moment, Larxene?” said Axel. “I’m going to agree with those two and just say Demyx,” Larxene answered. “Hey,” Myed whimpered. “That would be a person,” said Marluxia, “not a moment.” “Okay, then. My most awkward moment?...Xigbar’s pickup lines.” Larxene wouldn’t elaborate beyond that. Silence. “So,” said Marluxia, “I’m starting to have second thoughts…are you sure we’re strong enough to take him on if your plan fails?” “I don’t know,” said Zexion. “I’m just hoping he’ll be enough off his guard.” “Well, whatever happens, I’m fighting alongside you all the way.” Zexion and Marluxia bumped fists in a gesture of teamwork. “We’re in this together,” Zexion replied. “Soooo…” said Myed, “I always thought that the odds were really small that we’d get a couple in the Organization, but now we’ve got Zex and Marly…and Axel has a thing for Larxene…” “Shut up,” said Axel. Instead of shutting up, Myed sang softly, “Come on Larxene…” “Oh I swear,” Zexion backed him up. “Well he means…” “At this moment.” “You mean everything!” Smoke was beginning to come out of Axel’s ears, and Larxene just pretended she hadn’t heard a word. “Thank you, thank you!” Myed managed the best bow he could in the cramped closet. “We are Zexy’s Midnight Runners, and we’ll be here all week!” “But yeah,” said Axel. “At least it’s not like the fan fiction writers think, where everybody in the Organization HAS to be paired off with somebody else in the Organization…I’m pretty sure the remaining ones in the pool aren’t going to pick each other. They really don’t have much to work with. We’re an odd number, anyway!” “You know what would be weird?” Myed asked. “If all of us but one guy and Larxene were gay, and everyone was in love with someone else who didn’t love them back, and we just had one huge love triskaidekagon?” “Okay, Myed,” said Zexion, “I think that was the weirdest thing you’ve ever said. Ever.” “I think THAT just became my most awkward moment,” said Larxene. “Who taught him the word ‘triskaidekagon’?” Axel wondered. “Well, excuse me for being bored,” said Myed. “We’ve been sitting in this closet for I forget how long, and when I get bored, I tend to think of weird things! Like…what would happen if Riku married Rikku? We’d only have to call ‘Riku!’ and they’d both come running.” “Myed,” Marluxia begged, “please stop being bored.” “And how can the Dusks see anything when their hoods are zipped up?” “MYED,” Marluxia tried again. “STOP.” “I’ve always wondered about the Dusk thing…” Zexion mused. He was suddenly distracted by a sound from outside. “Shh! I think that’s him…”

Xehanort wandered into the room. He snapped his fingers, and his clothing changed to pajamas. (Axel felt a slight rustling sensation as the pajamas on the hanger behind him disappeared and the empty hanger to his right suddenly bore a black cloak.) He ran his hand in front of his mouth…a wash of water and toothpaste rushed between his jaws, then dissipated. The weary villain climbed into his bed, ready to dream of destruction. He fell asleep, but he wouldn’t stay asleep for long. “XEHANORT!” Xehanort sat right up in bed, looking to see who had called his name. His gaze rested on a figure next to his bed, the figure of someone who should have been dead…Ansem the Wise. “For shame.” Ansem shook his head. “I take you in, save your life, raise you like the son I never had…you never knew how much I cared for you, Xehanort. And yet you betrayed me. You stole my identity, you ravaged the worlds, you abused hearts…and all for what? Do you not feel the wrongs you have done in your heart?” “I think,” Xehanort replied with a grin that made his guest nervous, “that you should know better than to think I would be fooled by such a cheap illusion…Zexion.” Xehanort stood on his bed and clutched “Ansem” by the neck. “No, no,” “Ansem” choked, struggling. “Let me go.” He transformed back into the shape-shifting Zexion. “NO!” Marluxia burst forth from the closet, closely followed by Axel, Larxene, and Myed. Xehanort dropped Zexion and prepared to do battle. He had not been ready for an ambush by five people…he had instead been constantly prepared for an ambush by twenty. Larxene tried to send lightning bolts at Xehanort, but he deflected them and sent them at Myed, who ducked just in time. Axel flung his chakrams, but Xehanort turned his fists to ice and grabbed the flaming weapons without harming himself. He then used Axel’s weapons to chop at the flowers Marluxia was sending to tie him up, and danced out of the way of the pink scythe. Zexion tried to open up a portal, but the dark circle shriveled as soon as he got it to appear. He reasoned that it was Xehanort’s doing, and realized they were all trapped… “Zexion!” Myed screamed. “Back us up here!” Zexion looked to Marluxia, and they nodded at each other. Each went flying at Xehanort from a different side—Marluxia from the left, Zexion from the right. They brandished the scythe and the Lexicon, respectively, ready to deal out injuries. Each had to dodge a chakram, and both weapons went flying back to the hands of their fiery master. Suddenly, black thorny vines shot from Xehanort’s sleeves…vines that Zexion found all too familiar… Before he knew it, he was bound by the vines and propped against the wall like a sick trophy. The vines were quickly covering his face. He looked to his right to see another bundle of vines next to him, and a pink scythe lying on the floor… “MARLY!” Zexion cried before vines obscured his face. Larxene started flinging kunai, but Xehanort sidestepped every single one. Before long, Larxene was also bound and propped against the wall. She screamed an expletive before the plants covered her completely. “LARX?” Axel spun to face the three bundles of vines. In that one moment of his distraction, he too was caught by vines. Myed was the last of Xehanort’s opponents to remain. He faced his nemesis, trembling. He knew the only way he or any of his friends were getting out of there alive was if he did something highly unpredictable. He summoned his Sitar. Xehanort got ready to block the water attacks. Myed picked the Sitar up by its neck—something Xehanort was not expecting—and swung it so the base connected with Xehanort’s face. The Sitar exploded into splinters. Xehanort’s eyes rolled back into his head, and he hit the floor, unconscious. Once Xehanort’s mental concentration was gone, the vines dissipated. Zexion flung his hand out to create a dark portal before the villain awoke. “HURRY!” he cried. Zexion, Marluxia, Axel, and Myed rushed through and onto the sands of the Destiny Islands. The door to Xehanort’s bedroom opened. Another member of the Neo-Organization walked in. He first registered the still body of his master. “What…?” When he spied Larxene, however, he grinned. “Hello, Arlene,” he greeted, removing his hood to identify himself as Voldemort. “It is always nice to meet up with a traitor…” Larxene felt a somewhat familiar burning on her arm. “LARX!” she heard Axel’s voice say from beyond the portal. She quickly slid through, and the portal closed.

It was night on the Islands. The moon hung high overhead, illuminating the five shadows that had appeared from practically nowhere. Despite the plan’s failure, the sheer fact that all five had survived the battle was enough to make Larxene, Marluxia, and Axel extremely hyperactive. The three danced around, doing cartwheels, whooping and cheering. “We made it!” Marluxia said, flopping onto the sand and staring into the sky. “Interesting…” Zexion held his chin as he watched the others celebrate. “This shouldn’t be able to happen.” “Huh?” Axel looked at him quizzically. “Well, we don’t have hearts…so it wouldn’t make sense for you to be overjoyed.” “Well,” said Axel, “maybe our hearts aren’t as far away as we think.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” Marluxia asked. “Just something that popped into my head…” Axel said vaguely. “Well,” said Larxene, “as much as I hate to admit it, I think we all know who we have to thank for our survival.” Marluxia leapt up from the sand and rushed toward Myed. “MYED GLOMPAGE!” he cried, throwing his arms about Myed. Larxene joined in, making it a group hug. As soon as the two of them let go, Axel picked Myed up and swung him in a circle. Zexion patted the unexpected hero’s shoulder, saying, “Well played, Myed. Well played.” Myed just stared at them sadly. “Myed?” Axel asked. “Myed, what’s wrong?” Myed burst into tears. “I killed my Sitar!” The others all looked on in understanding. They knew that music was one of Myed’s greatest passions…how would he carry on without a way to play it?

“Oh beauteous queen, the time’s at hand To be the fairest in the land,” the Magic Mirror crooned. “While yet she breathes, my call was right, The fairest here is still Snow White. Yet through disaster, don’t ask how, The fair Princess is dying now.”

Sora walked through the door to the cove to find Myed and Axel on the other side. “Hey, guys!” he greeted. “What’s—“ “Shhh,” said Axel. He pointed out to the beach further down the way. Zexion was sprawled out on the sand, eyes closed, hands clasped behind his head. He seemed oblivious to the world around him. “What’s he doing here?” Sora asked. “The ambush failed spectacularly,” Axel explained, “and he didn’t want to go back and face the others just yet.” “He’s gotta be hot, lying on the sand in that black coat,” Sora pointed out. “Yeah, well, he ain’t takin’ that thing off,” said Myed. “Huh?” Axel asked. “I know the guy has quirks, but I didn’t hear about that particular one. Does he wear it all day? Like, to bed and in the bath too?” “No. Just out in public. You know…it’s nothing.” “Sounds more like something,” Axel bothered. “He made me promise not to tell anybody,” Myed defended. “Well, now we have to know,” said Axel. “Hold on,” Sora interjected. “It’s Zexion’s business…” “Yeah, but you know what else? The three of us are best friends,” Axel teased, “so no secrets. Out with it, man!” “Okay, okay!” Myed gave in. “But you gotta promise not to tell Marly, ‘cause he’ll flip!” “I swear,” said Axel, and Sora nodded in agreement. “Well…before the whole Castle Oblivion incident, back when we were searching out new members, Xemnas sent him and me to Atlantica to look for merNobodies. We didn’t find any, but that’s a different story. Well, when we got there and transformed into mermen, Zexion wouldn’t come out from behind a clump of seaweed. I thought that was pretty weird, so I asked him to stop hiding and come look for new members with me already. He just poked his head out…hey, by the way, his hair looks really funny underwater. It flips all around and stuff.” “Sora’s hair looks the same even when wet,” said Axel. “It kinda creeps me out sometimes. Anyway, continue.” “He stuck his head out to tell me to go on my own, and then ducked back into the seaweed. I got fed up and dragged him out by the wrist. That’s when I noticed what he looked like without a shirt. You know how everybody calls you skinny, Axel? Well, that’s nothin’ compared to Zexion. He’s really thin…actually, thin’s not the word. I think the word is…emaciated? I thought for a minute he was starving to death or something. I mean, you could count the ribs.” Axel and Sora looked taken aback. “I asked him about it, ‘cause I was concerned, you know? He said…well, you know Zexion’s always been the most easily stressed in the Organization? Remember how he always used to lock himself in the library and not come out? Or when he cooped himself up in the basement of Castle Oblivion? It tore him apart when we all started fighting, and when Xemnas went sour. He told me he was wasting away from all the stress.” “Whoa,” Axel sighed. “Yeah,” said Myed, “hard to believe, isn’t it? That guy down there, the one leading us in the revolution, the one who twisted Riku’s beliefs until he didn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality, the one whose illusions confused the best of us…one of the originals of the Organization…he’s being eaten away by his own fears.” “But wait,” said Sora, “how can he be stressed or scared when he doesn’t have a heart?” “Well, some stuff was said last night…” Myed thought out loud. “Axel, what was that stuff you said about our hearts being closer than we think?” “I’ve noticed that we feel things,” said Axel, “and of course, by all logic, we shouldn’t. So what’s that supposed to mean? It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while. If we didn’t have hearts, how come I missed Roxas? How come Roxas cared so much about Hayner, Pence, and Olette—the digital versions, anyway? How come you got so scared of Hades you probably wet your pants twice in the Underworld? I mean, it’s obvious we’re not whole…but what if we have traces of our hearts? Just little traces that refuse to go away?” “Now that’s just more proof right there,” Myed said. “The heartless Axel I know wouldn’t have gone that deep. Not on purpose, anyway.” “I can be deep.” “Anyway, I’m starting to think Zexion believes the same thing…” The trio looked out toward the Nobody in repose. “You think he’s gonna be okay?” Sora asked. “Well, not if things keep going on like this,” said Axel. “I say, first thing, we get rid of Xehanort. That oughta take a lot of stress off his plate.” “Yeah,” said Sora, looking out at the peaceful Schemer.

“No one’s seen Iago around?” Jasmine asked the genie. “Are you sure?” “Searched the whole palace, top to bottom, every nook and cranny,” said the genie. “I wonder where he could have—“ Jasmine never got to finish her statement before she toppled backward. The genie caught her in his arms. “Jasmine! Jasmine! Somebody call 911! Is there a doctor in the house?” On instinct, the genie turned into a rather blue version of Dr. John Dorian. At least she was still breathing, he observed…

Axel and Sora walked across the beach. Myed was off somewhere kicking coconuts in despair. “What’s wrong with him?” Sora asked. “Well,” Axel explained, “there was a tiny little disaster that happened last night during the ambush…say, I’ve got a favor to ask of you. You’re good at building stuff like rafts and all, right?”

Cinderella’s regal spouse knelt by her side as she lay unconscious in the place she had fallen. “What’s wrong with her?” he demanded of her fairy godmother. The wise woman replied, “I don’t know.”

“Okay,” said Mulan, standing in the center of the beach. “Someone try and fight me.” The other heroes all stared at her. “I’m not gonna hit a girl,” Aladdin protested. “Will someone just try and fight me?” Mulan growled. “We can’t let our skills fall short before we have to go into battle.” “Okay,” said Ariel, “I’ll do it.” Ariel was more experienced in the martial arts than she was in swordfighting. As the two clashed with their wooden swords, it became very clear that Mulan was going to win. “Okay,” she said once the duel was over, “who’s next?” “If you want to fight me that badly…” Aladdin stepped forward. Five minutes later, he sat on the ground, dazed. “Whoa…” “Why are you surprised?” Mulan grinned down at him. Again and again, Mulan was challenged, and she won every duel. The only two beings to actually give her a challenge were Hercules and Leon, but eventually she won against them as well, earning new respect amongst the others. “Hey, Riku,” she said, noticing the teen walking by with a large piece of driftwood and his weapon, Soul Eater. “Care for a fight?” “Not right now,” said Riku. “I’m meeting Sora in the secret place under the tree to work on a project.” “Okay, then.” “So you really think this Xehanort guy is going to make that much trouble that we’ll need to fight so well?” Sparrow asked. “Let’s just say that from what I’ve heard,” Mulan replied, “if you can’t even beat me, you’re in trouble. Now, everyone pair off and practice some sparring. Ariel, you’ll be with me…I think you need a bit more work than some of the others.” Peter Pan snickered, but the others shot him glares. They felt rather bad that Ariel was being embarrassed so…hopefully in the minutes that followed, her dueling skill would improve and make up for the humiliation.

Alice’s sister sat on the riverbank, reading as usual. “Must you always read such boring things?” Alice asked. She began to climb a tree. “Don’t do that,” her sister warned. “It’s dangerous.” Alice slipped and fell from the tree. Her sister stood with a lightning reflex and caught the girl. “I told you, she chided.” “I don’t feel well,” Alice told her sister, “not at all…”

“Myed!” Sora called out. Myed had gone back to the mainland and was aimlessly wandering around his yard. He looked up to see Sora, Riku, Kairi, and Axel approaching, dragging behind them a wheeled cart. Sitting in that cart was… “No way,” Myed whispered to himself. He repeated, as a shout, “NO WAY!” and barged toward the cart. He picked up the item within it: a brand new Sitar, painted with the designs of the ocean in sky blue and sea foam green. It didn’t resemble the Nobody symbol in the least. Myed ran his hands across the strings…it played with fantastic pitch. His eyes welled up with tears before he ran around hugging each of his friends. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” he sobbed. “Riku and I carved it,” Axel explained, “and Sora and Kairi handled the tuning and the painting.” “It’s…it’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me…” “Well, we’re friends, MyMy,” said Kairi. “And after all, you did help me with my song.” “Which means you helped Kairi and I…confess our feelings.” Sora blushed and moved his gaze over to his girlfriend. “Yeah, and you saved my life,” said Axel, “after all.” “And…well, you haven’t exactly done anything for me,” said Riku, “but you’ve been a good friend.” Myed gently lifted the Sitar from the cart and began to play the notes to Simple and Clean. Kairi gently hummed along, hypnotizing Sora. All of a sudden, two figures came running over to Sora from a distance. When Sora squinted into the horizon, he realized that they were Aladdin and Belle’s Prince. “Sora!” Aladdin cried. “Something’s wrong!” “I have a horrible feeling,” said the Prince, “like something has happened to my Belle…” “I’m afraid something horrible happened to Jasmine,” Aladdin moaned. “I can feel it in my heart!” “Guys, guys,” said Sora, “calm down…” Then Sora’s greatest horror struck: the humming suddenly stopped mid-phrase, and he heard a thump from behind him. When he turned, his precious Kairi was lying on the ground, eyes closed… “KAIRI!” Sora dove to her side. He picked her head up, settling it on his lap and gently stroking her hair. “Kairi, Kairi! Open your eyes, please!” Kairi’s eyelids fluttered. “I feel so faint…” “Kairi, what’s wrong?” “They said Jasmine…and Belle…” Sora started to put the pieces together. “The ten Princesses of Heart…” “There’s only one thing…that could be causing this,” Kairi croaked. “What’s that? Kairi, tell me!” “Something’s wrong…with Kingdom Hearts…” Yakko, Wakko and Dot were sent from the Warner Bros. Studios, a sister world to Disney Kingdom, to find what's causing a disturbance in the universe

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