CHAPTER 42: Chalice At Last
Xemnas was not pleased.
Not in the least damned bit.
These heroes, these insignificant, weak pests were actually winning. If not holding their own rather successfully against his elite Organization. In fact, they hadn't even killed a single one of the damned heroes at full confrontation (and a good number of them were idiotic children)! And since Demyx and Vexen had not arrived yet from above, that meant that they were still being stalled and attacked by the Dinosaucers and Secret Scouts.
There was no question about it. The Keyblade wielders and their allies could not only successfully counter them, but they were actually getting smarter and delivering their retaliation in spades. The Superior himself was starting to dread trying to go fist to fist with Superman who was certainly just as powerful and certainly much swifter. And who was going to hand Xemnas' ass right back at him if he didn't stop. And before he could teleport away by summoning another portal, Superman then grabbed him in another bear hug as he yelled to Phoebe Halliwell who was nearby.
"Now!" and with that, the Wiccan hurled two potion bottles while the Kryptonian concentrated on keeping his hold on the man, crushing him to death as hard as he could, and so overcome with pain, Xemnas roared and had little choice but to be distracted from the agony as the two potion bottles shattered against the Superior's forehead and chest. And as a result, the Superior had no choice but to be subjugated to the strange and formidable powers of Wicca as the magic from the potions ravaged his body with numerous explosions and acidic compounds eating away at his cloak. And Phoebe additionally hit him with her only anti-teleportation potion.
"He can't disappear anywhere! Get him now!" yelled the Halliwell sister as she hefted her broadsword and sprinted, planning to run the Superior through with her blade and gorge him. And with Superman holding him, it was unlikely that the Kryptonian would suffer any injuries as the other nearby heroes took their cues from Phoebe. They all sprang towards the trapped and incapacitated target, and the leader then knew that he had absolutely enough with this troublesome nuisance as he then invoked his desperation attack, an attack he dared not to do until now for being too risky to expend most of his energy on for it to fail and have the heroes annoyingly counter…
The entire foyer, the massive chamber underground that was large enough to house aircrafts and jets and planes, went jet black, all the lights suddenly extinguishing without even any warning, causing a lot of sounds of alarm and surprise from both the associates of the Thirteenth Order and the Keyblade wielders. It was as if the darkest shadows swallowed up the whole room in a blink of en eye, and from the cries of pain and astonishment from Wavedancer, Phoebe, Yoh, Low Light, Cyclops, and Superman, the Superior was taking full advantage of the sudden blindness. Octavia was instantly alarmed.
No. No more deaths. No more.
Though she had no idea why or how she even could even guess that it would even work, something deep inside her, in her heart, told her to raise the Talisman of Water above her head, her hand clenching hard on the slim handle of the mirror, tossing caution to the winds.
Please, she whispered to herself mentally.
Almost instantly, as if hearing her command and her heart, the mirror began to flash suddenly, shining like a star and so brightly that the reflective looking glass on the Talisman instantly melted the shadows all around Octavia as if they were nothing. The holy artifact of Twilight gleamed so brightly that even Allo and the other Dinosaucers outside and above ground could spot the shining and pure radiance of the Priest's weapon as the foyer soon eliminated and erased all traces of the darkness, melting them and illuminating them out of existence. And strangely enough, though every one of the heroes was distracted for a second or two, they managed to continue fighting smoothly enough that the Organization and the Hellfire Club associates barely had any advantage of trying to overtake their opponents from the brief period of total blindness.
Octavia was stunned at the result. This mirror was nothing like she ever felt or dealt with in her lifetime (even as a Priest of Twilight, she knew very little about it)…
But Xemnas actually had a look of pure triumph and eager anticipation in his red eyes and dark face as he now flew as fast he could towards the opposite end of the foyer where the small yet noticeable gleam of white from the statue was still serenely residing, floating on air. And Octavia, as she managed to lower her attention and surprise from the Talisman of Water to glance over to the point of the Superior's origin to see why.
There, lying in puddles of blood and twitching, were the brutally slashed and hacked forms of Wavedancer, Phoebe Halliwell, Low Light, Yoh, Cyclops, and Dumbo, suffering severe injuries from the Superior's dual lightsabers. Apparently, the black-robed leader used the cover of darkness as well as the close proximity of the advancing heroes well enough as an escape tactic. With dire consequences.
Superman himself was hurt, and even being the invulnerable Man of Steel didn't change the fact that there was wafts of black smoke from his body, his uniform horrifically burned and further tattered from the energy swords raking his body. He was choking, breathing heavily, on his hands and knees. Yoh and Cyclops were both teetering on the brink of consciousness, fierce and seared gashes across their backs and chests leaving them weak and dizzy as the blood blossomed their uniforms. Additionally, Cyclops' thigh was severely crushed while Yoh was having difficulty getting up on the account of one of the lightsabers severing his spinal cord. Amidamaru, not being a physical entity, was unharmed and frantically yelling for Tinkerbell to heal his friend again, but the Disney Summon was too far away and preoccupied with healing Justin after healing the group fighting Roxas to come immediately. And little wonder too since she was nearly at the point of dropping from exhaustion. Althea was hissing as she was gingerly on the floor, curdled into a fetal position and her blue and black uniform staining with roses of red, bleeding severely from a ghastly, horrendous laceration on her side that actually broke three of her ribs. Low Light actually seemed all right since he was actually still in his mercury-form when the darkness encompassed the entire battleground, but the lightsabers' magic severely drained his life energy, making him so dizzy that he couldn't concentrate enough to maintain his form, regardless of how hard he tried despite his military training. With a groan, he reverted back to his flesh and blood human body, so fatigued and weak that he felt like he was going to vomit. Dumbo was actually unconscious, lying on his side and not moving, one ear cruelly hacked and cut to ribbons, dripping uselessly with blood, while his entire body with riddled with devastating abrasions and lesions, his body smeared with a thick coating of red. But Phoebe herself was going into death spasms, her gasps getting weaker and weaker as her lungs were filling up with blood from the stab wounds to her torso from the lightsabers, rivers of crimson dripping down her chin. Her eyes were starting to glaze, showing that she was the most critically injured and only seconds from death.
Octavia looked on in horror. At the speed Xemnas was flying, he would reach the white figurine of the holy angel in a matter of seconds. And if he could harness the Chalice, then it would truly be over. And yet…
The octopus-woman looked at the escaping Superior, heading towards the Grail.
Then the fallen heroes who were appallingly harmed and mutilated on the floor.
Then the Superior.
Oh may the Sovereign and Champion forgive her.
"What?" rasped Wavedancer as there was a pleasantly faint but soothing hum, like the melodious plucking of the strings of a harp, before she, Yoh, Cyclops, Low Light, Superman, Phoebe, and Dumbo had a plethora of leaves and yellow-green light bathe them in a shower of Curaga magic. Like a lamp, a bouquet of glowing flowers, phantom and ghostly in halos of light, appeared over their respective heads before the healing mystical forces bathed their bodies and slowly but surely mended their injuries, erasing the pain and brining them back to life. Dumbo awoke and let loose a confused honk from his nose and Superman looked up, his strength slowly climbing back up, to see Octavia gently squatting next to the bloody Phoebe's body. The Charmed One's spasms were lessening, faintly twitching as Octavia held Phoebe's palm with one hand and touched the Wiccan's head with the other.
"W…Wh…?" was all Phoebe could choke out, one bubble of blood at the corner of her mouth.
The female Tigershark shushed urgently, "Don't speak. Please. You nearly died, all of you. The magic will take a while to bring you back to full strength from the Superior's attacks. My spell can't fully counter it as quickly."
It was then that Cooper managed to overcome the pain to see the retreating Xemnas' form, moving away from them.
"Hey, what the hell?! Someone stop him!" Low Light gaped, already too far to possibly catch up with Xemnas (and too injured). As Xemnas flew, many who were so busy attempting to fight for their own lives and to protect their teammates could only take a brief glimpse of the Superior passing by, making a direct and free path to the shining Grail of Kingdom Hearts, still floating serenely in the air.
"Azarath - " began Raven, but a swift swipe of Saïx's sword at her back caused her to scream and forget her attempt, her body nearly cleaved into two as she toppled towards the floor and into Spirit's arms, bleeding and choking with slight spasms, near death. The Joe fought to urge to not panic at the sight of the Teen Titan's body nearly being quartered into two parts, held together by the spinal cord and threads of flesh.
"Tinkerbell!" yelled Spirit, and thankfully, the Disney fairy quickly arrived, touching Raven with her tiny hands and bathing her entire body with healing magic (she saw Octavia got the team with Superman and Wavedancer covered). In furious vengeance, Captain America and Hawkgirl and Hiei set themselves upon the scarred Luna Divider, and Hiei actually showed emotions of pure anger, affront, and outrage, something he rarely exhibited past his usual cold and distant demeanor.
"Wretch! How dare you touch her!" roared Hiei as he let loose a fantastic and massive blast of dragon fire, the flaming serpent streaking towards his opponent.
"What's going on?!" yelled Garrett as he managed to use his staff to neatly trip a copy of Emma Frost in diamond form and send her flying into the far distance, skidding painfully to a stop on the ground.
"He's going for the Chalice thingamabob!" yelled Eduardo as he and Kylie managed to snare Selene again with their proton beams before slamming the External Black Queen the floor several times, using the propulsion of the nuclear guns to act as a makeshift conduit to painfully smack her against various surfaces. This gave Felicia the car-girl to leap on Selene's back and start clawing and shredding every bit of the witch's flesh she could reach, snarling like a wild animal alongside Selene's howls and screams of enraged agony.
"No!" yelled Jean and Starfire as they tried to fly after the Superior to stop him with a combination of telekinesis and star-bolts, but Xigbar them managed to break off from his attacks with Supergirl for one minute before he aimed one of his guns at the duo and fired. Jean shrieked as she invoked a telekinetic shield around herself and the Teen Titan to prevent them from getting shot to death, but the move was still effective since it stopped their interference completely.
"Like, go for it, boss!" he cheered before Piper managed to blast his arm with her molecular combustion.
"You jerk!" Piper snapped before Agent Jay managed to blast and snare the Organization sharpshooter with his proton gun, allowing Yusuke, Quicksilver, and Pete Wisdom to move in with Keyblade and fists.
Flash of the Justice League was about to go run and snare the Chalice himself and out of the Superior's hands when he unluckily caught a hex-bolt in the back by Roulette as she managed to back off a bit from Aqualad and Wood.
"Oh please, anyone could have seen that predictable move coming!" sneered Jennifer as Wally screamed and curled temporarily into a fetal position on the floor, forgetting everything else, as the black hex energy set his nerves and muscles on fire. She unfortunately paid for this dearly when Jinx, enraged at seeing this, hexed Wood's sword to stab her into the shoulder, drawing blood and sinking deep into the bone and cartilage.
"Be thankful I didn't do that to your head, bitch!" snapped the West Coast Misfit, more than satisfied at the screams of rage and pain from Roulette.
Kilala then sensed the danger as she tried to fly forward towards the miniature statue, only to caught by surprise by the unexpected and colossal shaft of lightning that flew out of nowhere and painfully struck her left haunch, electrocuting the demon-cat agonizingly before Kilala was sent crashing against the ceiling from the force of the magical attack. A rather triumphant Larxene, with blood trickling from one corner of her mouth, looked rather proud.
"More than one way to skin a cat!" she cheered, but then she didn't have any more time to gloat as Sango, enraged, flew at her with her steel sword.
"Damn you!" she hissed, livid, as Sango's wakizashi flew and swiped against Larxene's kunai, so fast that sparks were literally flying, as Speedy and Chao-Ahn joined in with fists and arrows.
The Superior was thankfully left unhindered and free with a clear path as he flew past a sea of shadow doppelgangers of his subordinate, Zexion, each one glowing and advancing towards Roadblock and Kennedy, with Willow trying to blast and suppress as many as she could. Thankfully, Batgirl and Dana joined the fray with Batgirl flinging several explosive Batarangs at one throng while Dana flung herself at several, cracking one clone's head back with a mighty uppercut.
He flew by Luxord as Gambit and the Titan Cyborg together combined their respective kinetic attacks and sonic cannon for a gigantic "Cajun Sonic Boom" that literally sent the goateed, white-haired man flying upwards and crashing hard against the ceiling.
The Titan Bumblebee was too busy electrocuting Xaldin right in the back with her stingers to even contemplate trying to turn around and fly after the Superior. Falco however was much more alarmed and alert as he heard Eduardo's yells of warning.
"Aeroga Shadow Phantasm!" he cried out, disappearing in a blue blur before he rushed forward at the near vicinity of the Chalice, hoping to reach for it first and snatch it away before the Superior could. And arguably, it was much more prudent to grab the figurine as opposed to chancing and wasting time on a foolish risk on fighting the leader head-on. But Xemnas was not going to let the avian ruin his chance as his sharp eyes spotting the incoming blur of silver and blue.
"Guard!" he roared, flinging a hand in front of himself. With a crackle and a shimmer in the air, the trajectory of Falco was instantly cut short and veered off backwards, the avian screaming in pain as he collided with the energy barrier that the Superior created in his path. Upon the collision, Falco flew at worrisome speeds before he crashed against the opposite wall with a sickening thud, leaving a trail of red as he slumped to the floor, insensible.
"No!" cried out Octavia as she saw this, and she herself was too far away to do anything but watch with horror as Xemnas' outstretched hands and fingers reached forward the Grail of Kingdom Hearts. Closer and closer, the Superior was unhindered as his face actually lit up with a smile, one of eager anticipation of power and untold might only dreamed of. The statue was almost beckoning to him, bathed in holy light.
It was then that out of the chaos and the fights below, one individual then managed to work himself free from the chaos before acting out in the only instinctive way he knew how…
"No you don't, yo!" yelled Toad as his tongue went flying out, stretching so far that the initial tug from his appendage actually caused a spike of pain in Todd's mouth as he managed to extend his frog-like tongue up towards sky and barely loop around the base of the figurine. Biting back the pain, the Misfit teenager snapped his tongue back, and with a soft whisper, the white angel of cool stone and marble was yanked out of the air the exactly split second where the Superior grasped its empty spot.
"YOU!" roared the Superior to the highest levels any human voice box could possibly muster as Toad, fearing he would break the Chalice, frantically deposited the thing in his shaking hands with his tongue, a bit fearful what would happen. His heart was practically thumping off his chest; he was so scared.
"Mien Gott!" yelped Nightcrawler upon seeing this as he avoided a narrow stream of fire from Axel, already imaging the horrific ways Toad was going to get killed for this one act of imprudence, "Toad are you nuts?! Get back! RUN! HE'LL KILL YOU!"
"Don't blast me, don't blast me, don't blast me…I know I'm not worthy, but hear me out before you smack me!" stammered the nervous Toad as he awkwardly grasped the statue of the angel in his sweaty hands, nearly fumbling it and hurriedly wiping the slime from the smooth marble.
"Insolent frog! DIE!" roared Xemnas as he leapt towards Toad with his weapons of crimson light, and frantic, Toad hopped back as far and fast as he could while making his plea out loud before the imminent rejection by the relic.
"Please, yo!" begged Toad, "I don't care what happens to me, but let everyone live! Help anyone you think is worthy enough to call this Sovereign chick! Please! We made a promise to get everyone's hearts back!"
He truly had no idea what made him say that.
The statue remained stoic, contemplating.
Unresponsive. And Xemnas drew closer and closer by each terrifying moment.
And then…the miracle occurred.
"NO!" roared the Superior as the Holy Chalice began to whine, rumbling and vibrating as it finally reacted…
Toad began to glow, shimmering in a strange radiance (later on, the heroes could only recall that it wasn't exactly light but it wasn't exactly darkness either; oddly enough, it was rather something in between white and black which was the best and only way they could describe it). Each and every part of his body outlined in the same essence of the statue before he actually began to transform right before their very eyes.
Everyone gasped in various ranges at they all witnessed the phenomenon and actually stopped fighting. Everyone, hero or Organization soldier or Hellfire associate alike, was forced to stop from going sightless from the intense white.
"By the Great Beast!" Leomon exclaimed.
"Hera…" Wonder Woman could only murmur, her jaw dropping. Quentin and Batman, usually ever so stoic, were both taken aback, truly stunned and shocked beyond their comprehension with wide eyes and open mouths.
"What's going on?!" Jinx the West Coast Misfit yelled, her eyes strained from staring at the wonder.
"Merde! Gambit don't believe what he's seein'!" exclaimed the Cajun X-Man.
"You don't believe what you're seeing?!" yelped Nightcrawler upon hearing this from Remy, "I don't believe I'm seeing Toad's stupidity actually doing something!"
"But what if it hurts him?!" gasped a wide-eyed Jean, "It might be dangerous, and we need to help Toad if…!"
The red-haired X-Girl then trailed off as the Misfits then all noticed that she was gaping at them with astonishment. In fact, every one of their allies was staring at them, even the stoic members such as Low Light, Batman, Wolverine, and Quentin Blud.
"What?" blinked Daria, but Jean and the others around just stared without answering, wide-eyed and their jaws slightly agape as Gambit exclaimed, pointing at Daria's brow.
"Mon dieu! Your foreheads! They're glowing even brighter now!"
"Forget that! You're bodies are glowing right now!" Boom-Boom gasped. And indeed, the X-Girl was right. All of the Misfits except Toad were illuminating with the respective colors of the Elementa Kingdoms of magic that they were blessed with by Pluto.
"I…feel so weird," admitted Avalanche, before to all of the heroes and villains' collective and unexpected jolt, each of the Misfits' Elementa magic began to flash on the mutants' foreheads before channeling themselves towards the Holy Chalice…
"Whoa! No way!" blurted out the Titan Speedy in shock as then each of the symbols upon the Misfits' foreheads flashed, and from all of the Misfits' heads (bar Toad and Wavedancer) a single beam of light caused the their respective sigils shot out and swirled towards Toad. The symbols of time, wood, earth, fire, wind, ice, gravity, and light formed a trail of multiple streams, like colorful ribbons, each one touching the statue of the white angel (and to some sharp eyes, actually touching the miniature cup that the figure was holding in her hands). There was a dull and faint but distinct hum, like something was building and surging all around them, a high-pitched yet musical whine that sounded like nothing that could have humanly been from this mortal coil.
Something…was coming. The Organization members, all of them in the room, could feel it, something that dwarfed their powers significantly.
"Whoa! Look at the light show!" Amanda Firestarter exclaimed, growing even more amazed at the miraculous sights that this battle kept handing out over and over. Indeed, the Chalice summoned by the Talismans was now radiating even more, cycling through the ten colors of the Elementa Kingdoms and bathing the room psychedelically with azure, orange, pink, brown, green, silver, red, light blue, purple, and yellow before it flickered and faded.
There was a sudden nova of white…
"NO!" roared the Superior of the Thirteenth Order as he managed to recover from the initial surge of glaring white that sent him propelling backwards, only to seethe with livid, uncontrollable fury at the sight that unfolded before his eyes.
"Toddles!" yelled Althea (she and the others in her group now fully recovered and restored to health thanks to Octavia) in alarm.
"Ah! What's going on?!" cried out Kagome, covering her eyes from the harsh intensity that caught her by surprise (she could have nearly gone blind).
"I think it's…!" and Wood's voice died in his throat as he and the others then fully saw what was standing before them.
There, bathed in halos of luminescence and shining like a star, Toad was transforming from his usual black Misfit battle-uniform and gold-headband to something truly exquisite and remarkable. Completely covered with the essence of the Chalice, the statue of the angel faded before to everyone's shock, two gigantic wings sprouting from his back, sending a cascade of sparkling dust to swirl all around him. Though white, quite of few of the spectators were quick to note that instead of bird wings, they were leathery wings similar to that of a dragon, enormous, majestic, and with a gigantic wingspan around the size of a Greyhound bus. In fact, it didn't give Toad the appearance of an angel, but rather a winged demon, a gargoyle really.
But the sight of him was stunning and oddly enough, enchanting in a gothic sort of way.
And of course, Toad's clothes were now fully transformed when the Chalice flashed the initial surge of light. He was now decked in armor, similar to a knight, and donning an entire metallic suit of black and white, like a harmonious symbol of darkness and light. The frog-mutant teenager was decked with white chain mail, covering his upper body and arms like a long-sleeved tunic, each link in the suit shining like pearls. And on top of the chain-mail shirt was an impressive black breast-plate and metal shoulder pads and protective arm and wrist gauntlets with wicked-looking claws covering his hands and fingers. In addition to this, Toad was also decked with white pants, the leggings looking like they were made out of the purest linen fabric and leather, snug and tight-fitting, while worn over the pants were black leg guards and black leather boots, twined with white and silver. And in the center of Toad's breast-plate was a white sigil of the keyhole inside a shining heart, exactly like the same one that was depicted on Althea's scepter.
Everyone was now completely stunned as they were bathed with the essences of light and darkness. They couldn't be sure if this change was a good thing or a bad thing.
Octavia and Falco (who was being healed by the said Tigershark) were especially flabbergasted and overwhelmed beyond all comprehension.
"Could he be…?" the Tigershark asked before trailing off.
"No, it's impossible! The Sovereign is supposed to be female!" the avian could only dumbly murmured back, his jaw dropping.
At that moment, when all of their adversaries and enemies were sent backwards, shoved aside by the sudden and inexplicable burst of essence from Toad, Althea's white scepter began to vibrate before it jerked out of her hand and hovered in the air for all to see.
"What the hell?!" Wavedancer gasped as the rainbow-colored ring of symbols began to flash and cascade into a furious array of azure-blue, orange, green, pink, brown, purple, light-blue, silver, red, and yellow before to her shock, the ten veins of color began to seep into the symbol of the heart with the keyhole in the very center. And with a final display of light, the crystal orb of the head of the staff began to glow even brightly with the same essence of the magic that caused Toad's transformation before it began to distinctly yet softly hum with a high-pitched noise, a quaking vibration of unimaginable, overflowing, and infinite power.
"What is going on?! What's happening?!" Bree cried out, unable to stare for long at the glowing scepter, but Leomon had a good guess.
"Wavedancer, grab your scepter!" yelled Leomon while shielding his eyes from the harsh gleam of white flooding the entire complex, "It's reacting to the Sovereign's power! It may be the only thing to help us survive!"
Deciding to not question it (considering what was at stake), Althea lunged and grabbed the slim rod of her staff fiercely, though with a bit of apprehension, her heart tightening against her ribs. The instant her hand touched it, like before when Pluto blessed her with her first powers when her father was infected with the Heartless pods, a torrent of images flashed into her mind with the intensity of a speeding train…
A grand city with a large and familiar looking giant palace in the center, blinking with lights against the dark, starry sky and a golden symbol of a crown shining in place of the moon high above…
The ten symbols of the Elementa Kingdoms, shining as a ring of various colors of the rainbow, and centered inside the circle was the infamous trio of sigils of the Heartless, Nobody, and the crown…
And finally, a new trinity (surprisingly) consisting of three new symbols of a sword, a shield, and a mirror, forming the points of a golden triangle, and in the center of the triangle, amid a flock of white doves flying in the background, was the symbol of a heart with a keyhole inside…
This was certainly a lot more confounding and quashing than the first time Wavedancer ever had touched her weapon when it first appeared, and overcome from the rush to her brain, the Misfit leader sank to one knee, nearly fainting.
"Al, do it, yo," whispered Toad's voice behind her in her ear, and Althea didn't need to turn around to see that her fiancé was behind her, placing his armored fingers gently on her shoulders and symbolically appearing behind her as support. And now both Wavedancer and the winged Toad were both glowing while Toad whispered in Wavedancer's ear, his voice actually calm and peaceful, not like his normal, hyperactive, eager timbre. Wavedancer couldn't be certain, but it was as if he was…channeling something pure and uplifting, a positive feeling in her heart that could in no way be adequately put into words, into her.
"Al, trust me and the scepter. I can feel it, it's a good thing ta' help us. Angel's light…" and ending that and seeing that she had not much of a choice, the ninja Misfit cocked her arm back, bending at the elbow. As if she was prepared to stab out with a sword during a fencing move. Instantly, the very tip of the head of her staff, in the center of the crown ornament, there was a glowing orb of light and it was steadily and surely growing in size and intensity by the second. The Superior, his entire face marred with livid and wrath-like anger, rushed forward with his light sabers and snarling. Since he couldn't possibly teleport in the midst of the cascading waterfall and flooding of light from the status of the angel, he decided to take the lesser route and kill the weaker Misfit (he was no fool in guessing that it would be best to kill Wavedancer before she could utilize whatever unknown surprise that damned frog was giving her).
Several noticed this immediately, though the Superior was going much too fast for them to do anything.
"Althea!" cried out Shipwreck, Roadblock, Jean, Wanda, Fred, Superman, Robin, and Wood the Watcher. Several such as Quentin, Piper, Supergirl, Pietro, Willow Rosenberg, and the Flash were about to rush forward and stop Xemnas by any means of brute force necessary. But unfortunately, if the allies were protective, so were the members of Organization Thirteen.
With a united roar of energy, each and every one of the ten remaining members along with Selene and the Hellions sent a barrage of various elements and projectiles, the attacks all combining as a varied yet insurmountable tidal wave, and many yelled or yelped in surprise as the mutants and their allies tried to brace themselves but then Wavedancer thrust out her arm forward and jabbed furiously with her staff in one, fluid movement, right before Xemnas was mere feet away from decapitating her head off.
Wavedancer would never have any idea of how she would have been dead has she hesitated for simply one more second as the glowing orb made of the same holy essence from the Chalice of the Talismans reached critical mass, almost engulfing the entire head of her scepter.
"Now, Al!" commanded Toad sharply, still bracing himself with his overgrown wings as his fingers held firmly to Althea's shoulders. Instantly, on the floor underneath them, was a white triangle of luminescence encasing both the transformed Toad and Wavedancer, forming a symbolic new trinity of depictions of a sword, a shield, and a mirror with the two mutant teenagers in the very center.
"Kingdom Twilight Mutant Heart Destruction!" she yelled. And with a roar, Wavedancer pointed her scepter at the Organization and the Hellfire Club and jabbed the instrument forward, like a sword-lunge. And the Superior was going to be taking the brunt of it, full-blast and up-close. Wavedancer caught the fleeting glimpse on the man's face right before the energy of her scepter's new attack rushed past him and towards the other members of the Thirteenth Order and the Hellfire Club.
It was a look of complete and utter astonishment.
It was a complete and utter, destructive nova of energy. Many, many times more powerful than the first attack used on Heartless before in the past. And judging by the howl of aggrieved pain coming from their strongest warrior, Xemnas was learning the hard way that it could hurt him and the other Nobodies as well. Unwilling to let a single mutant girl best him, Xemnas crisscrossed his light sabers across his chest and pushed at the force back with all of his strength, a furious and opposing force of darkness and empty nothingness spewing forth instantly.
And the radiance of the scepter's attack was encompassing the entire chamber, nearly blinding everyone, hero and enemy alike, as they shielded their gazes and winced away from the harsh intensity. Though unlike for the Hellions and Organization Thirteen (they could hear them yelling in agony from the light of the scepter searing into their bodies and skin), they weren't affected by the radiance in the same manner.
"I can't see! What's happening?!" yelled Brittany as she, Daria, and Quinn decided to forsake scanning the attack and chose to be more worried about their sister and Todd. But to everyone's shock and amazement, the strange and wondrous energy began to hum and growl softly as the compressed air that had been spewing forth in all directions from the release was starting to lessen and die down significantly in a steady manner. And bit by bit, the surge faded until it was absolutely gone, leaving nothing but a heavily damaged room and a very big contrast of dimness that made everyone instinctively rub their eyes in discomfort after staring at a star up-close.
And there, the Misfits and their friends could see an unconscious Althea and Toad on the floor, senseless and unconscious. And Todd had reverted back to his normal, teenage, frog-like form, no longer displaying the strange dragon wings of white or wearing the odd armor. And in his left hand was the Holy Chalice, the angel resting softly in his hand and encased in a bubble of light. And a good distance away, each and every one of the opponents displaying faces of fear, awe, and fury, were the drained and tarnished forms of the Organization, Selene, Emma, and the Hellfire Club, looking much worse for wear with the serious red burns, blisters on the verge of popping, and scuff marks resulting from the intense energy of Wavedancer's staff.
But it was Xemnas the Superior who sustained the fullest extent of the damage considering he foolishly charged head-first into the void, hoping that he could kill Wavedancer and Toad first beforehand. Now, he was left, barely able to stand on his own power, one hand holding a rather sickly wet-looking spot on the left side of his black cloak, quivering with slight spasms of agony. There wasn't a single part of his body that he wasn't painfully aware of now, each fiber sore and throbbing excruciatingly. And from one corner of his scuffed, singed mouth, a trickle of blood was dribbling from his bared teeth and dripping down his grimaced chin.
"Toad!" cried out all the Misfits as one, and though they were all thoroughly exhausted and somewhat sore and aching, they all ran towards their friends. Shipwreck and Roadblock both knelt down to their children and gathered them protectively in their arms, kneeling down on the floor. But then the Misfits heard the distinctive whine of energy as a red lightsaber appeared into Xemnas' free hand.
"You…" hissed Xemnas with the purest tones of malice, anger, and incensed dread
It was clear he was injured badly. But that was nowhere close to the injury to his pride. The Superior, the feared and respected leader of Organization Thirteen, was bested…by mutant teenagers.
They and all their friends would pay dearly. He would see to that…
The Misfits, as one, drew out their Keyblades, still exhausted and quite alarmed, before holding their weapons out in front. Yet to their relief, the X-Men gathered protectively as one side by side the army mutants, and so did the other allies, forming a wall and certainly determined enough to go through round two.
"This ends now, Xemnas…" intoned Storm severely as she hovered above in the air, lightning streaming from her hands and eyes, bathing her aura. Xemnas, being no fool, took a final and longing look at the figurine of the angel in Todd's hand.
Such vigor, such infinite might and power that could only come from the pits of Kingdom Hearts itself!
Was this the Sovereign's power? It was truly nothing like the darkness!
It would have been his to control and harness if it wasn't for those damned heroes! He knew he had the potential to be one of the few who could dare openly utilize the Grail of Kingdom Hearts!
"You're finished," growled Cyclops, one hand ready to blast with his visor as he, the other X-Men and Misfits along with their allies gathered protectively in front
"We are not afraid of the likes of any of you. And we're ready to fight you again," Colossus warned with honed steel, cold and final as his metal fists tightened with faint screeching noises of metal grinding against metal.
But then Xemnas, the Superior and leader of Organization Thirteen, suddenly smiled a rather vulpine and spine-tingling, sick, twisted leer. The red weapon of light in his hand vanished with a faint hissing noise.
What was he doing?
"Farewell…" and with a snap of his gloved fingers, the white-haired man and his associates vanished in portals of swirling thick smoke and dark auras, taking Selene, Emma Frost, and injured Hellions with them. And before any of the heroes could try to stop them, they were gone in a blink of an eye, the darkness engulfing each and every one of their enemies and leaving nothing but empty space (Allo's shield was weakening thanks to Vexen and Demyx's efforts).
The group of freedom fighters was puzzled to say the least at first.
"Huh?" blinked Yusuke of the Ghostbusters. His teammate, Agent Jay, then hit the key point.
"Wait a minute!" the liaison from the Men in Black yelled, "If they're not willing to stay around, even after they showed that they're not afraid of us, then doesn't that mean that they've got some sort of back-up plan?!"
Octavia then had a horrid thought struck her as she then looked into the reflective glass of the mirror Talisman only to see that her suspicions were true. There, displayed in the glowing oval of glass, were small, black, metallic boxes strapped all along the supporting beams throughout all seven levels of the underground chambers and on the Shaw Industries complex above them. This additionally included the numerous water tanks, power lines, and even the company's sewer main. And the mechanisms and wiring attached to the multiple boxes of Semtex explosive were displaying consoles with beeping red lights.
"Falco! BOMBS!" screamed Octavia with shrill urgency, her purple eyes so wide with horror that one could see the whites all around. The other teams and Leomon instantly perked up, alarmed.
"How long do we have?!" yelled Wolverine as Green Lantern was going to attempt to bring everyone under the cover of the biggest protective bubble he could muster. But that was dubious since this group was way too large and scattered for him to even hope to save everyone from seven floors of explosives (and they were on the second basement level).
Falco then put all his hope in his Talisman of Wind as he held the Save the King shield high above his head.
That was the only word Falco could even have time to mentally beg to the Sovereign and any benevolent god that was listening right before all the bombs detonated…
Outside on the circular grounds surrounding the company of Sebastian Shaw, the Dinosaucers and the Secret Scouts were giving Demyx and Vexen as good as they got when it happened…
The entire building and all of the basement levels underneath erupted with a devastating blast of hot-air and deafening sound, changing the once impressive industrial complex of marble, stone, glass, and steel into a pillar of charcoal, flames, ash, and heat in temperatures ranging in the high hundreds.
Several of the Dinosaucers and Ryan of the Secret Scouts were caught off-guard from the resulting explosion behind them, and they were sent flying forward, flames and a pressurized wave of hot air shoving them sprawling to the ground. Even Allo, a normally heavy-set dinosaur, was sent crashing on his back, the only thing that prevented him from certain dismemberment and incineration were the protective spells around his body. Any and all nearby water drones of the musician, Demyx, were instantly incinerated and obliterated. Still, the concussive backlash was enough to send many of them disoriented and scattered, halting the efforts to hold down the fort with the Organization members instantly.
"NO!" cried out Montacera, Stego, Bonehead, Teryx, Sarah, and Paul in unison when they managed to pick themselves up. Allo was still squatting on his hands and knees, his eyes glazed and his whole body quaking with the shock and fear of grief. No, it couldn't…
Both the Chilly Academic and the Melodious Nocturne looked at the raging conflagration before Vexen smiled in satisfaction and nodded to Demyx. Their job was done, and there was no further need to waste time on the Dinosaucers and the Secret Scouts, especially since they would get theirs soon enough.
"You lizards and humans will be exterminated eventually, but until now, I must say it is a rather satisfying conclusion of watching you grieve for your friends' collective demise. The odds that they made it out are astronomically against them. It is a grand shame, however. I could have used their remains for further experimentation," Vexen couldn't help but rub it in with a chuckle.
"SHUT UP!" roared Bronto-Thunder in pure and unadulterated fury as he, Raptor, Itchy, and David charged with fists, claws, and tail ready to attack the two Organization soldiers, but with a snap of Demyx's fingers, all the remaining clones amalgamated together to form a wave of water and instantly sprung up in front of their path as a blockade. While the three aliens and the young adult were sent stumbling backwards, Demyx and Vexen summoned portals of darkness and disappeared back to their headquarters, leaving them high and dry.
"Damn it!" swore Itchy, pounding the soggy and cracked mixture of concrete slabs and mud, tears of frustration and dejection stinging his eyes. Bronto-Thunder roughly pulled Itchy to his feet, forcing himself to stay as emotional as a brick wall.
"Now's not the time! We have to concentrate and see if they survived! Help them first, then break down later!" the brontosaur shouted as he and the drenched others rushed as fast as they could where Allo was once again on his knees and chanting soft words of his mother planet's ancient language, his hands and claws glowing with brown, magical auras. He had to find something, anything!
The Dinosaucer leader whispered through clenched teeth, sweat starting to bead through his brow, "Yulmather Zarathsaurus…Homma Hummina Horasaurus…Elan Haley Durkon Vaarsuvius Belkar Roy Asaur…"
He probed, trying to search for any essence, any sign of life underneath the now molten metal and charred rock and concrete during the collapse, additionally using all additional strength he had in reserve to lessen the flames and heat as much as he could. He was so sick and tired from that fight and from maintaining the magical barrier over the company that he was uncomfortably close to vomiting before passing out. Still, one thought managed to enable him to carry on…
Moore, so help me, Justin better live through this, or you won't once I get my claws on you!
Meanwhile, the other Dinosaucers and Secret Scouts were madly trying to figure out a plan on what to do as the gathered in a small group nearby Allo and as close as the edge of the smoking crater as they could. Dimetro, Plato, and Teryx were all holding out scanners and attempting to look through the rubble and fiery wreckage while a few others looked pensively over their shoulders, almost uncontrollably antsy. A few such as Paul, Raptor, and Tricero were contemplating quietly and trying to rummage through their mental Rolodexes for a rescue operation that was at least somewhat sane and reasonable. And it was to the Secret Scouts and Dinosaucers' testament that none of them, not even Compy, were giving in the urge to panic.
"Anything?" Bonehead asked breathlessly, panting hard and adrenaline still coursing through his veins after trying to hurt Demyx. Teryx shook her head.
"There's too much heat all around us!" the archaeopteryx said, her voice nearly breaking, "And with the temperatures ranging well over two thousand due to whatever explosives and fuel that was inside the building, it's interfering with any energy signatures we could have picked up from their communicators or from their body heart! It's even worse than looking for a needle in a haystack!"
"And I tried contacting them through their communicators, any of them! There's no answer! From any of the teams! And with no signal, I can't even isolate their location so we can get to them!" Dimetro groaned.
"No…" quivered Sarah, holding her elbows, "They would have answered by now…they couldn't be…"
Montacera snapped heatedly, "Sarah, get real! You actually think the Organization can kill off the X-Men, Joes, and Misfits that easily?! And the Titans, Ghostbusters, and Justice League too?! As if! They're probably safe or managed to escape the blast and are hiding underground and working their way up!"
"If that's the case, then they're still in deep trouble," Tricero said at last, a horrifying realization coming to him, "Think about it. With such a big fire, it'll consume oxygen quickly and at an accelerated rate for all of them to last only several minutes if they're lucky. And the high temperatures will weaken the structure all around us, which means if we don't find a way to lessen this quickly, it'll endanger them, us, and a good portion of the city. This whole block could be a major sinkhole because it could collapse!"
"And lemme guess: the entire grounds of Shaw Industries is reinforced underground with lead, steel, and other metals, so that's why your scanners can't go through and pinpoint anything that's underneath us, correct?" Itchy groaned, feeling frustrated at his fiancée's nod. Damn it, the Hellfire Club just loved making things difficult.
"I'm hacking into the city's main power grid and fuel processing plants," Paul Dreggar stated calmly, though his mouth was nothing but a grim line, his fingers dancing on the console of the held-held computer Dimetro and Trinity made for him, "Give me just a little…there! All natural gas pipelines a quarter mile around here and throughout this street have deactivated, rerouted, and been given the command for emergency shut-off via the signal I sent. And the same goes for the sewage mains and all electrical power being funneled here to Shaw Industries. There's little chance that this could lead to further trouble. With any luck, the hazard teams and authorities will be able to handle it from here when we're long gone!"
"I'm containing the fire as best as I can…but I can't sense anything," Allo hissed in fatigue, still maintaining his concentration with his magic. David then spoke out adamantly.
"Allo, I'm going down there. Do you have any magic stuff leftover to temporarily shield me if I go into the fire?"
"You ain't goin' alone! I'm coming too!" Compy piped up automatically.
"Are you two completely insane?! That is not going to accomplish anything!" Plateo protested angrily. Raptor offered his opinion in his typical backhanded manner.
"As much as I would gladly love to see the whiny rodent get burned to a crisp, seeing you go headlong into your doom I would likely take less pleasure in, David. Your help would be a foolish act of bravado that would do yourself or Sarah hardly any good."
Tricero shot Raptor a look to shut up or else (the last thing anyone needed was another round of childish verbal sparring).
"It's at least better than just standing here! We need to find them and the scanners aren't showing anything!" the black-haired Secret Scout argued vehemently.
"But what else can we do?" whined Stego dumbly. But before anyone could answer…
"Dad, it's all right! We're up here!" yelled Justin's voice from overhead, and shocked, startled, and certainly taken by surprise, the Secret Scouts and the Dinosaucers looked up, snapping from the urge to give in to their tempted grief and horror to see a rather wondrous and relieving sight.
All of the heroes, each and every member from the X-Men, Misfits, G.I. Joe, Justice League, Titans, Ghostbusters, and Leomon, Falco, and Octavia as well, were all hovering in midair and protected by a gigantic, swirling orb of soft winds, the entire bubble gleaming with the color of the purest silver. If it wasn't for Allo's spell to cloak the entire grounds of Shaw Industries, the entire city would have awoken from the glaring luminosity that could have rivaled the full moon. The Secret Scouts and the Dinosaucers look in awe as they could now clearly see, as the group floating to a gentle stop to the ground below, that the source of the air drafts that were encapsulating them were originating from Falco's Save the King shield. The Cornerian pilot was holding the Talisman of Wind above his head with one arm, the entire weapon glowing like a star and radiating endless magic to achieve Falco's desire to get himself and the other heroes out of the building before it exploded.
Their friends and Justin were all safe. They made it out.
Allo exhaled the most humongous pent-up sigh of relief as he possibly could while several of the Dinosaucers such as David, Struthio, Stego, Bonehead, and Montacera were actually cheering, and Compy himself was jumping up and down and whooping victorious war-cries and dancing (much to Raptor's annoyance). Ryan was smiling so wide, it was a wonder that his face didn't break; he was just so ecstatic to see everyone was alive and all right. And for once, he completely forgot his wariness to mutants as he and the other Secret Scouts and the Dinosaucers ran over to the sphere as it set down, the shield instantly fading away to soft zephyrs and puffs. Once everyone's feet touched the cracked and trodden earth, Falco let out a groan and pitched forward, nearly fainting. In a touching manner, both Leomon and Octavia caught the blue-feathered pilot before he could crash to the ground, the Save the King still attached to Falco's arm.
"Whoa…that was…awesome!" cheered Casey of the Phantom Investigators. Several of his teammates such as Rapunzel and the Slayer Vi were so overcome with happiness at being alive that they broke down sobbing on the ground on their knees.
"'Awesome', my butt, kid! We nearly got roasted there!" snapped the Titan Speedy while Kurt made the motion of a cross over his torso and offered silent thanks skyward. During this, some of the wiser heroes were looking with some discomfort at Falco, Leomon, and Octavia.
"Amazing," Green Lantern couldn't help but remark as he looked at Falco, "That shield…it's powerful. Really powerful. It protected all of us and brought us up here. I'm not sure if I could manage to get us out of there with my ring through the explosions, especially after being exhausted with that battle with that lunatic with the spears."
"I dunno. Should we even think it's better that Falco has it?" Roland said discreetly.
"Better him than the Organization," Caridad the Slayer pointed out in a dry manner, and Roland had to agree that she had a good point. At the same time, Quicksilver found himself under the obtrusive and unwanted target of several painful hugs from a relieved Montacera.
"I'm so glad you're all right, cutie! I was so worried! I don't know what I'd do if you got hurt, you studmuffin you!" squealed the female Dinosaucer as she enveloped the albino teenager in a rather crushing embrace, one that Pietro couldn't escape out of no matter how much he tried. And this was so humiliating as more than a few spectators were viewing this was various ranges of amusement and interest considering that teenage Dinosaucer was nuzzling against the Misfit.
"Ack! Montacera, leggo! I'm all right, so you can quit it now! Please! Really! I insist!" the Misfit speedster rasped through his compressed lungs from being squeezed. Scarlet Witch turned to a rather amused Flash and Supergirl and Batgirl, all three of them having very big and toothy grins. Wanda then remembered that Pietro paid everyone in the Misfits and the X-Men a rather hefty sum to not blab anything about Montacera's schoolgirl crush on him after the soccer game fiasco at the Dinosaucers' Lavadome to anyone else outside the teams (it set Pietro back a good four months, money-wise). Still…
"You're going to be making fun of my brother over this for a long while, aren't you?" Wanda asked with a smirk.
"Oh yeah…" chimed in the three Justice Leaguers at the same time with varying nods.
"I've got Polaroids and several copies of video footage from other times. Prime embarrassment material…"
"How much?" Supergirl asked, her eyes wickedly lighting up.
"Depends. My idiot brother paid me and the others one hundred each to make sure we didn't blab this to anyone in the Titans, the League, and the Ghostbusters. But if you make it worth my while, I'll throw in a copy of my brother dancing in his underwear with a lampshade on his head to Kenny Loggins tunes and a picture of my brother sucking his thumb while sleeping, free of charge."
"We'll each pay you a thousand for all photos and video cassettes that you have," the Flash said quickly. Oh he was going to love holding this one over that hyperactive hummingbird…
"Justin…" was all Allo could choke out before he knelt down and grabbed his son in the biggest hug he could, and with Whitelighter returning the favor, thoroughly relieved that none of the Dinosaucers and the Secret Scouts were killed.
Blind Master couldn't help but look a little crestfallen at this scene. He truly was glad that Allo and the Dinosaucers were all right, but still…this was a bit wince-worthy. At the same time, a few such as Magma and Yoh were congregated over to where the three Priests of Twilight were. Sarah blinked as she saw in their hands were the infamous mirror, shield, and sword, and she was no fool in guessing they were the Talismans of Twilight.
"Uh…Leomon's questionable, but…aren't Octavia and Falco against us?" the blond-haired Secret Scout asked hesitantly.
"Long story, but in a nutshell: Falco and Octavia and Leomon had the Talismans…" the Titan Mas began.
"They're the Priests of Twilight which are supposed to be really powerful…" his brother Menos continued.
"And they helped us fight against the Organization by giving Toad and Wavedancer a powerful statue of an angel," they both finished in a classic twin-act. Sarah gave the two members of Titans East a very odd look as her brain tried to process those sets of information. Meanwhile, Amara was grateful enough to look at Falco who was slowly recovering enough to calm down, bit by bit.
"Thank you. You helped us. It's really likely that a good number of us wouldn't have gotten out of there in time if it wasn't for you and your shield. Thank you. You saved us from death or from losing our friends," Magma said, flustered and extremely grateful, a hand to her chest to calm her thudding heart.
Falco had no answer to that; he just acted instantly without any thought or memory of resentment at how the heroes were always making things difficult for him and Octavia. He really couldn't say he did it because he liked the heroes…
Octavia the Tigershark looked a bit uncomfortable and worried as she said, "You're…welcome. But, it's not over yet. The Organization will now be even more brutal and vicious than before because we now have gained the Talismans and the Chalice. They won't stop until they kill all of you and us, and…the Sovereign hasn't shown up as of yet. Meaning we could still lose this war and never get back the beings who lost their lives to the Heartless. We barely made it out of this battle, and even that was by pure luck. It's not over yet, and we're all still in grave danger."
"Ah, we always come close to death several times in our line of work, but it never bothers us as long as we help protect our friends and our home and other innocent people. Take victory when you can or else you'll never win the war," Yoh grinned in his ever-carefree demeanor, folding his hands behind his head as his spirit Amidamaru hovered next to him, smiling with hope. Octavia looked at this, puzzled. These heroes were so…calm and unorthodox and truly unlike anything she had ever seen. And yet, they managed to hold their own against most of Organization Thirteen (a rare event since that had only been done once before). Was this planet truly blessed?
Falco managed to woozily prop himself into a sitting position, his headache and weariness fading gradually. Leomon, despite everything, was glad that he and Octavia were all right as he then spoke.
"You did good, Falco. We're proud of you…and so would he."
There was a small pause as Falco felt his shame and guilt return ten-fold.
Falco forced himself to croak through his suddenly cottony mouth and throat.
The Digimon turned to the Cornerian pilot, his gaze a bit less stern and with one eyebrow raised. Apparently, he didn't have any thoughts of retaliation against his avian ally.
"I was a jerk. I'm…I'm sorry for everything that I said and did."
"Took you long enough, pal," Leomon noted dryly, but he was smiling, a rare sight on the otherwise grim and serious swordsman. He then reached out and rubbed Falco's sore shoulder as a gesture of earlier times of ease and friendship, and Falco couldn't help but smile back. Octavia looked happy too, but she couldn't help but ask one nagging question.
"Why didn't you tell us? That you were the real and true Priest of the Elementa Trinity? All this time…and we never knew."
"I couldn't risk anyone finding out. The Organization would have gotten wind of it if I told you. Plus…I promised I would not reveal that I had the Talisman of Earth until all of the other Talismans of Twilight were found. I'm sorry, and I don't blame you for being mad, but I couldn't break this promise. So much was riding on it. Even though I had no idea that you two had the shield and mirror, I couldn't live with sacrificing two lives to gain the Save the King and the Enchanted Mirror."
"A promise? To the King?" Octavia asked, interested. Leomon looked a little lost as he shook his head and placed a huge paw against one temple.
"I don't remember. It's a promise of the heart and yet…I can't recall anything about it."
He noticed the looks he was getting from not only the avian and the octopus-humanoid but from the other heroes as well.
"I'm telling the truth. I don't remember. I only can remember that it is a promise of the heart and that my heart told me to not break it for the sake of the Gathering to come."
Octavia frowned. That was strange, and then she had a sudden thought as she remembered that she could use the Enchanted Mirror…
Roadblock and Shipwreck were both mad with worry and concern, out of their minds with anxiety, as Shipwreck was on his knees, holding his unconscious daughter in his burly arms and Marvin was doing the same thing for his son. A small crowd had congregated around the two Joes as Bree looked over Toad and Wavedancer, taking their pulses, and they could all see that in Althea's hands was her white scepter and in Toad's hand was the statue of the angel, the Chalice still glowing brightly. Bree gave out a loud exhale of relief as she finished her prognosis, finding no signs of trauma, broken bones, or anything that could indicate a lethal ailment.
"They'll be all right, thank God," the Joe nurse said strongly, "They're just unconscious, presumably because that fight took it out of them. I think they must have expended so much strength and energy in that last attack to save all of us."
"Uh…wait, what's that thing in Toad's hands?" blinked Bronto-Thunder as he pointed at the white figurine.
"It's supposed to be a Chalice or something that was formed when we got all three of the Talismans, and it's a powerful and magical artifact. It's what the Organization was after, and we managed to get it first and use it to keep them away from us," explained Multiple. But then the instant Jamie finished saying those words, the Chalice of Kingdom Hearts began to grow even brighter, levitating of its own free will and hovering out of Todd's palm in front of everyone.
"What on Earth?!" gasped Spirit, as to everyone's amazement, they witnessed the angel suddenly turn transparent before it began to fade, slowly moving towards Toad's torso. Roadblock was alarmed.
"No!" the machine-gunner as he tried to jerk his teenage son out of the way, but it was too late, and despite Roadblock's attempts to smack and bat away at the object, the white statue shimmered before it literally went into Toad's chest and heart cavity before vanishing altogether. Toad's unconscious body was outlined with a faint shimmer of light before it subsided, and to the Joes and Misfits were all especially horrified.
"Leomon!" called out the Titan Raven desperately, and at once, the tawny, yellow-furred rushed forward and skidded to a stop in front of the group before he knelt in front of Wavedancer and Toad, alarmed and startled.
"That statue – it went into Toad! Get it out of him, please!" begged Roadblock, truly upset.
Leomon's face then truly dropped as his eyes went wide with puzzled amazement, for the first time being taken completely by surprise in front of the heroes and the mutants.
"No," Leomon said gravely as he looked at the frog-like Misfit in Roadblock's arms, "It's too late now…"
Everyone stared at the Digimon as Kurama the Spirit Detective hesitantly asked, "What do you mean?"
"There's no way to retrieve the Grail of the Sovereign now," the lion clarified with weary disappointment, "The Chalice has now gone into your friend and bonded with his heart, blessing him with its hidden and enormous powers. Though…that should have been impossible. I have no idea why the Chalice chose to go to Toad. Nothing about the legends of the Talismans or the Grail had ever mentioned that possibility. I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do, which may be a bad thing."
"What? Why?!" demanded Marvin angrily.
"Because even if the statue has chosen to bond with his heart, it is a high possibility that he's not ready and won't be able to handle it being in him. The Sovereign's powers is too much to be channeled through a human or a mutant, especially a teenager. It could literally drive him insane if not make him dangerous," Leomon explained wearily.
"Oh no…" groaned Cover Girl and Low Light at the same time. And this was Toad, one of the most hyperactive and unseasoned Misfits in the group. He wouldn't be ready for something like this…
"Is there a way to get it out of him? Before it hurts him? Toad's life could be at stake then!" Storm asked, her face blanching. The furry giant shook his head sadly.
"No. To do so will kill him because it bonded with his heart," Leomon stated sadly. Corey, the guardian spirit of the Shaman named Trey, made a series of sad, cooing noises. She obviously didn't want that sort of fate to fall on Toad. Her partner exhaled with resignation.
"Well, at least on the upside, this is better than anyone from the Organization or the Hellfire Club getting the Grail first," Trey pointed out.
"Did you know this would happen?" growled Wolverine, inflamed, and Leomon, though he was a little bothered by the accusation, shook his head wearily.
"No, I didn't. Very little is known about the Grail of the Sovereign and I can't even figure out why the kid could even harness it. Believe me, I wouldn't have endangered anyone here for the Chalice. Had it gone to one of the stronger heroes, perhaps we'd have less cause for worry, but since he's young, the Holy Chalice inside his heart might be too much for the kid."
Jean frowned to herself. Superman, Green Lantern with his ring, Selene the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, the Titan Starfire, Octavia, Axel, Natalie from the Monster Fighters, Captain America, Roxas, even she herself with her telekinesis. The Grail refused to be graced by any of them. And Leomon apparently said only a select few could have been deemed "worthy" enough to touch the statue of the angel.
So…why could Toad do so when they couldn't? Why did the figurine decide to bond to him of all people?
Something was incredibly fishy about this. And from a few prolonged glances from several in the audience, they were on the same track of suspicion that Jean was on. Roadblock looked incredibly worried and concerned, fearing the worst, as he held Todd tighter to his body like any parent. Upon hearing Leomon's words, Falco and Octavia were stunned and horror-struck, and Falco forgot his exhaustion as he hurriedly stood up.
"Give that back! It's not his!" Falco said, and his eyes were troubled, not so much in an angry manner, but more desperate and crestfallen, almost wildly trying to escape a loss. The other heroes were puzzled, and Cyclops shook his head.
"We can't. As much as it would be better for Toad and Wavedancer, we can't take that statue of the angel out of him. You heard what Leomon said. It'll kill him if we did that because that Chalice bonded with his heart. We won't risk that," the X-Men's teenage leader pointed out.
"And he's not the Sovereign," Octavia whispered to herself, clutching the Enchanted Mirror tightly in her hands and at a complete defeat. Then that meant that having the worlds and the hearts come back, the rumored and supposed appearance was a failure. And they were so close too…
Falco wasn't willing to accept it, and despite the broken look of lost hope on his face, the avian turned to the heroes, hissing desperately, "Please…get the Chalice out of him. Please. It's the only hope we have, to see our friends and family, to see the worlds coming back from the Heartless!"
"Are you deaf or something?!" snapped Kid Gloves of the Monster Fighters Inc., "It'll kill him! And why the hell should we give it to you?"
"Please…" Falco stubbornly. Roadblock then glared at the falcon-humanoid before making it clear.
"No. I won't risk my son's life for you," he said in a low but unyielding tone, and from the looks of the other heroes, although there were lesser bad feelings because Falco helped them escape the explosion, they weren't entirely sympathetic. In fact, they appeared to agree with Marvin's statement. The Cornerian pilot then turned to his newly-reconciled friend.
"Leomon, do the same thing you did with Raven to Toad. Extract his heart and give him a new body so that we can get the Chalice from him! Please, for your oath and duty!"
Leomon, to Falco's further scandalized disbelief, shook his head sadly.
"Falco, I can't do that to the kid. Raven was completely different in that she was born out of the darkness, and even if it was against the rules, there was no other way to free her and banish Trigon to save this planet. The Misfit's situation is something else. Toad's heart having the figure of the Grail may not even work for it's a lot more powerful than my sword, and I can't exorcise it because it isn't dark. You know that, Falco. I can't…and won't do it."
Falco was now shaking with a combination of grief and cheated anger as he then growled, "If you won't do it…"
But before Falco could even carry out his threat, Leomon instantly blocked the avian's path towards the unconscious Toad and Roadblock, his sword drawn out in front in a battle pose, his eyes narrowed.
That defensive position was self-explanatory. And Falco felt the familiar hurt of betrayal at one of his closest friends clench into his gut again.
"Falco, I'm not betraying you or Octavia," Leomon said gruffly, as if reading the bird's mind, "But I can't let you do that."
"You're siding with them? Over us?! Again?! Why?!" squawked an indignant Falco.
"Um…maybe because you're a bit mean?" Whitelighter suggested hesitantly.
"Because you want to kill one of our friends, you big jerk?!" continued Boom-Boom, close to snapping.
"Because you're an ass?" the Titan Cyborg asked rhetorically, deadpanned, joining in.
"Because you tried to shoot Leomon and kill him when the Heartless attacked the X-Men at the mansion?" Batgirl said without much sympathy.
"Because you have a wonderful personality that doesn't make people want to give you a swift kick in the rear? Or the nuts preferably?" the Slayer Shannon drawled, her voice chock full of sarcasm.
"Oh shut up!" barked Falco at the crowd (and Leomon had to admit that they really weren't helping the situation with their remarks) before he whirled on Leomon and half-pleaded, feeling more hurt than angry, "Leomon, I'm sorry if I hurt you, I'm sorry I thought you were a traitor, and I'm sorry that I tried to kill you and every bad thought and curse I thought about you! Look, you can blame me and hate me, I don't care, I'm sorry! I really am! You can even punch me back if you want to even things out - !"
"Okay!" eagerly chimed in several of the heroes from the audience, notably Shipwreck, Low Light, and Cover Girl from the Joes, the Flash from the Justice League, Beast Boy, Speedy, and Mas and Menos of the Titans, and most of the X-Men (bar Storm and Multiple). Falco wasn't remotely amused.
"Not you brain-dead, flat-footed morons!" roared Falco before he turned again to his furry ally and yelled, "Leomon, why are you involving yourself with them?! You swore allegiance with the Sovereign and Champion and the King, and you know that the Keyblades help the Organization anyway!"
That got the heroes immediate attention.
Batman's head perked up suddenly while Superman blurted out in surprise, "What?"
"What did you just say?" Multiple asked at the Cornerian pilot, not sure if he heard right. Roadblock shot Leomon an accusing glare.
"Looks like you're hiding some more things from us, huh, Leomon?" the Joe muttered bitterly. The Digimon had the most puzzled and bewildered look on his face.
"I…I'm not. I have no idea what Falco is talking about," he confessed.
Mushu the dragon gave a derisive snort, saying caustically atop Wanda's head, "Yeah, tell us a new one, mane-head."
"I'm serious, Mushu."
Falco carried on, "Leomon, stop pretending, for the King's sake. You know as well as we do why the Keyblades aren't foolproof and why we swore to find the Talismans, the Chalice, and the Sovereign or the Champion of Twilight!"
The lion Digimon was equally insistent as he repeated, "Falco, Octavia, I'm telling you the truth. I do not know anything about how the Keyblades can weaken the heroes. Or if I did, I don't…remember."
"Boy, that's the biggest crack and most pathetic lie I've heard yet! No one's that stupid to believe it!" Mushu continued to comment, but then Kagome of the Ghostbusters gasped a bit when she realized the fact.
"Which is why it must be true…because if Leomon was lying, he would have said something a lot more believable. And he wouldn't continue to insist on it right in front of us and Falco and Octavia since they can easily testify against his explanations, and he has nothing currently to gain from lying since all the Talismans have been found," the archer highlighted, and many had to admit that the Japanese schoolgirl had a good point.
"Leomon, you have got to be joking!" Falco tried to argue, "You forgot?! How can you not remember?! The King, the last Gathering, the - !"
Octavia then spoke, quietly, but with enough intensity to even bring Falco's ranting to a screeching halt.
"Falco, he's lost his memories."
"What?" Falco asked, looking completely taken aback, as he turned to Octavia who was holding the mirror in front of her and viewing upon the scrying glass, the entire Talisman glowing with the same azure light and essence of the Aquara Elementa Kingdom, the same magic that Althea was blessed with. While Falco and Leomon were arguing, Octavia realized that perhaps she could use the magical object to view if there was any evil deception affecting Leomon via a spell or perhaps if he had ulterior agendas (though she wanted to have much more faith in Leomon than that). What she saw in her mirror was nothing dark, nothing deceptive, and the tawny lion's reflection was clear save for an empty void in his mind. It wasn't black or anything of the same dark aura that was associated with the Heartless or the Organization, but rather…well, the best way to classify it would be to say it was different and neutral.
"If I'm reading this correctly…Leomon truly doesn't remember. He's not lying to you or to the Keybladers. He lost some of his memories so that only selected parts he can recollect. That's why he hasn't told the Misfits and the Joes about the Keyblades' weakness…because he truly doesn't know."
"My memories? Were they altered? And…by whom?" Leomon asked, his arm holding his sword lowering by several inches due to this revelation. This was troubling…
"I don't know. I'm not sure if I am even handling the Talisman's full potential. The mirror isn't showing me anything more…but this does at least show that you truly forgotten. Unfortunately, it makes our job harder," the Tigershark admitted.
"Now imagine how much harder it is for the X-Men, Misfits, G.I. Joe, and their allies then in this war," returned Leomon evenly, showing that his position was still clear.
Falco gave a frustrated sigh, rubbing the bridge of his nose before he muttered, "Boy, whoever tampered with your memories really put your brain through the ringer. Way to get the Misfits to fall in Organization's Thirteen's trap."
"So are you going to actually tell us what's up your butt or just spend all night making arrogant remarks until the police come?" groused Beast Boy hotly. The blue-feathered falcon then decided to oblige, and he had no problem admitting that he was actually going to enjoy delivering this little tidbit (just to wipe off that self-righteous feeling off their high-horses). Octavia looked conflicted, as if she wished it could have been done in a gentler manner.
"The problem is that Xeha-…Xemnas the Superior is doing this as part of his master plan. He and the other people in the Hellfire Club have been using the Keyblade wielders to destroy the Hellfire Heartless."
"Huh?" Blob blinked, "They actually want us to destroy the Heartless? Uh…I thought that they were trying to set the Hellfire Heartless on us to try to wipe us and our friends out?"
Octavia then gracefully tried to clarify, "Misfits, X-Men…every Heartless that is slain with a Keyblade releases a captive heart. And that was why the Organization has been sending Heartless to attack various cities around the world. Because they want the power the hearts contain. And your Keyblades unfortunately have the one weakness to extract those hearts."
Several of the heroes were starting to piece it together.
Simba the lion let out a horrified word in Avalanche's head, whispering, No…
Struthio of the Dinosaucers had his jaw drop and remain open, slack and hanging out.
"Oh…crap…" Aqualad couldn't help but blurt out. Still, many of the others were still puzzled.
"Huh? I still don't follow," confessed Blob.
"Don't you get it?!" Falco snapped heatedly, "Organization Thirteen was sending Heartless for a reason! Each time you Misfits kill a Heartless with a Keyblade, no matter how it comes or how it's created, it releases a heart! Let me repeat that: Killing. Heartless. With. A. Keyblade. Always. Releases. A. Heart. And hearts are what the Hellfire Club and the Organization have been after in the first place to bring about the Gathering! So now even you can piece it together! Each time you Misfits killed a Heartless with a Keyblade, it gives out a heart! And each time a heart is lost, it goes to the Organization and adds to their reserves! The more hearts they get - !"
"The more power the Organization receives," Quentin Blud finished for the avian, catching on, his eyes troubled. That was not good news.
It clicked in many people's minds, and the blow from actually reeling.
"You're…serious?" Colossus asked, blinking. Falco wordlessly gave the Russian X-Man an irritated glare; since when was he ever a comedian? Wolverine narrowed his eyes, and Blind Master could sense that Falco and Octavia's aura, their ki energy engulfing them, was nothing secretive or outright nervous or anything depicting deception or malicious thought.
"He's not lying…otherwise his pheromones would be reeking of it," Logan admitted gruffly.
Gabriel added, "And nothing is deviating from his ki aura. I hate to admit it, I really do, but they're telling the truth."
Shipwreck wildly turned to Genie, begging the Disney summon, "Genie, is this true?! C'mon, pal, you're a genie with semi-phenomenal, cosmic powers! You gotta know something about these Keyblades if whether they let out a heart each time the kids killed a Heartless! You gotta! Tell us something, anything! Tell us this is bull! Falco's just shooting his mouth off!"
But the blue spellcaster helplessly shook his head, saying, "I can't say, Shipwreck! I don't know about this! Remember, all I can do is follow the one who holds the Key, but I can't tell you anything about it! I don't know everything, and being a genie doesn't change that!"
Dragonfly was numb and shaking as she asked to the two Priests of Twilight, "Why didn't you tell us before? It would have helped!"
"Funny, last time I checked, that wasn't an obligation on my part," Falco retorted sarcastically, caustic.
"You are such a dick, it is not even funny!" snapped Sarah of the Secret Scouts, "And why the hell should we believe you?! You don't have any proof, and it could be that the Heartless just releases heart with or without a Keyblade! For all we know, you could be lying! Wolverine and Blind Master's opinions aren't concrete!"
But the Misfits and X-Men then all knew better as the memories of past battles with the Heartless came flooding back. How each and every time Trinity tried scanning all the ogres with their scanners, only to come up mostly empty-handed. How despite being careful, hearts would still be released each time a Heartless was killed. How all the Misfits were extremely vexed and worried each time they killed a Heartless with their Keyblades and wondered if the heart belonged to some trapped soul like Snake Eyes during Blackheart's siege. And how despite the numerous skirmishes and brawls, it always weighed on their minds due to the promise to get everyone's hearts back and to not let anyone else die if they could help it.
"No…he's not lying…" Scarlet Witch murmured in growing realization, the pieces clicking into place.
"It makes sense. It explains why they kept releasing hearts, no matter how many times we tried to scan them and make sure they weren't people infected with the Hellfire spores," Daria gasped, feeling her gut clench painfully in her stomach and turning slowly into ice. Piper the Charmed One then looked at the hulking Leomon above her.
"Leomon…is he telling the truth? About this?"
"I don't remember," protested the Digimon helplessly at the Wiccan, looking quite flustered and worried, and it was that look of panic, that demeanor of rare helplessness that convinced several hard-lines such as Faith, Robin, and Spirit that the lion swordsman wasn't lying. Willow Rosenberg frowned before she looked at Falco with a mixture of concern and annoyance.
"Stop talking and acting so hostile like this, Falco. Just because we don't agree on things doesn't mean we need to be on bad terms, especially since we're not enemies. And you still have only circumstantial evidence. You don't have any proof," the red-haired Scooby pointed out. Falco's mouth then twitched slightly upwards.
"Actually, I do. Just ask Pluto, the dog who's been staying with you."
A few of the warriors blinked; that answer was unexpected to say the least. Hawkgirl asked, "Pluto? Why?"
Octavia's face softened as she replied, "Well, for one thing, Pluto was the one who gave you the Keyblades, so he would be the best one who you know of that would be willing to confirm the story. And second…he's right behind you."
"Like we're that stupid," Jericho the Phantom Investigator scoffed disdainfully at the apparent ruse, but then a pained, saddened whine from behind made his jaw drop in surprise.
All of the X-Men, Misfits, Joes, and the other allies whirled around in surprise, half-expecting this to be a distraction, but to their shock and bewilderment, there, under the faint moonlight, was the unmistakable golden fur pelt of the Disney hound with his green collar. But the dog's current personality was noticeably different. He wasn't smiling and he looked rather…ashamed and hesitant.
Wildstar was truly astonished as he asked with wide eyes, "I thought he was back at the Pit…so how did he - ?"
Jinx shushed her teammate as Pluto became even more uncomfortable from the sea of stares scrutinizing him. Falco cocked his head to the side as if he was expecting the confirmation.
There was a tense and nerve-wracking silence before Roadblock managed to croak out of his dry throat and ask, "Pluto…is what Falco said true? The Keyblades are also helping the Organization?"
Pluto's eyes grew sorrowful, shining with tears, before he made a dog groan and bowed his head in shame.
That response was explanatory enough. And a good portion of the shock melted to outrage and betrayal. Quite a few, such as Beach Head, were especially apoplectic. In fact, the aforementioned ranger's face was turning quite red, nearly purple.
"You miserable, goddamned - !" was all Wayne could spit before he leapt at Pluto, and the golden-furred hound could only cry in surprise and fear, letting loose a high-pitched whine and wail, as the furious army ranger grabbed Pluto by his collar and started to shake the dog furiously.
"Beach Head, stop!" pleaded Bree as she and Cover Girl grabbed Wayne be the arms and tried to prevent him from killing the dog as Pluto kept crying and wailing as Beach Head's finger's tightened around his neck. All the meanwhile, Beach Head was livid, boiling, and murderously furious.
"You double-crossing flea-bag! You gave these lunatic kids something this damned dangerous knowing full well what would happen, you lying, inbred, pound-trash! After how all our friends kept dying or how we've been taking the heat because of this damned war, you knew what you were doing! You knew! I'm going to snap your - !" the Joe roared before he was finally dragged off the bruised dog now that Martian Manhunter joined in the fray and helped Bree and Cover Girl loosen his hold. Pluto panted, his heart beating madly and feeling the sting of the red marks bruising his flesh. But he wasn't relieved for long as there was a blood-curdling snikt above, and the Disney canine looked around to see an equally suspicious and fuming group of Allo of the Dinosaucers and Ryan of the Secret Scouts, Wolverine, Quentin the dhampir, Faith and Kennedy of the Slayers, Hawkgirl and Batman of the Justice League, and Robin of the Teen Titans.
Wolverine made his point as he held his adamantium claws to the dog's face and growled, "So, looks like you haven't been entirely truthful with us, have ya', bub? Care to say what else you've been lyin' to us or do you want me to give Chuck a brand new fur rug for his office? Your hide would make a nice accessory now that I think about it."
"Pluto, why didn't you let us know? And don't give us that 'you can't talk because you're an animal' routine. You could have at least tried to warn us. Why did you keep it from us? If you wanted to help us, why didn't you at least be honest?" Ryan asked, crossing his arms over his chest as he glared accusingly.
Octavia decided to intervene gracefully since she certainly didn't want Pluto to be on the receiving end of a rather brutal and painful (if not bloody) beating. And the King certainly wouldn't have wanted the hound to be dead. The female Tigershark spoke strongly, "In Pluto's defense, what else could he have done? Misfits…I know this was a shock to you, but the fact remains that Pluto gave you the Keyblades as your greatest line of defense, second compared to the Holy Figurine of the Sovereign and our Talismans of Twilight. He wanted you to have a way to fight the Heartless because a Keyblade is one of the few things that can surely kill the ones sent by the Hellfire Club, even more so than the Elementa magic. He's not your enemy, and he merely did what was the best thing to help you. He does care about you all very much."
"He still could have at least warned us," Robin pointed out.
"And would that have changed anything? Would you have decided to not use it simply because of that little tidbit, even though it's been nothing but a gift to defend everyone in your circle?"
The Teen Titan pondered that for several seconds before he had to admit that the female octopus-humanoid had a good point. It wouldn't have changed anything. They couldn't simply not use the Keyblades and risk letting the Heartless gain further ground in their destructive rampages.
Meanwhile, the Misfits were now holding out their Keyblades in their hands, their faces registering various and different spectrums of horror, astonishment, and guilt.
"Don't you get it?" sighed Falco, starting to show some pity, sympathy, and regret, his eyes closed as he took it in, "This was the Organization's main plan all along. They set you Misfits up. You all would have been killing Heartless with your Keyblades and giving more reserves to the Hellfire Club and Xeha-…I mean, Xemnas. Every heart they collect from this world or every Heartless you kill with your Keyblade just brings them closer to their goal to destroy your planet."
"You mean…" said Xi, shivering and his cat-like, yellow eyes wide with horror, "We've…been playing in the Organization's hands? We've been helping them…all along?"
The Rainforest Scale felt so heavy in his hands now. Bambi the deer fawn, who was beside his partner, whined sympathetically as he rubbed his furry head against Xi's thigh, trying to comfort the lizard mutant.
"Oh my God, we've been making things worse all this time! We killed tens, maybe hundreds of Heartless with these Keyblades! And that group down underground in Shaw Industries! We've just been making things worse!" Avalanche croaked with disgust as he looked at his Steel Quartz Keyblade, his reflection of his dismay etched on his face and mirrored on the brown crystal's surface.
"And what's worse is…we're stuck in this," moaned Brittany, "We have to continue to fight against the Heartless if we want any of the Joes back, but if we fight, we'll just continue to have this as a weakness and either way, no matter how hard we fight, the Organization will get something from this!"
"In other words, there's no way around this…" Fred said sadly.
"Nice going," muttered Amara before she could even stop herself, and this naturally didn't suit well with some of the people who heard her.
"Oh shut up!" snapped Daria, "Like any of you could do better!"
Simba the lion growled alongside the Delgado triplet sister in full agreement.
"I guess we'll never know, won't we, gamine, considering that your dumb mutt chose to give those Keyblades to the first group of idiots he met," muttered Remy, clearly in a grouchy manner.
"That is enough," Miroku reprimanded sternly and seriously, "Now is not the time to be gloating and pointing fingers, Gambit and Magma. As X-Men, you should know better."
"Maybe when you stop groping girl's rears, then I'll actually take what you say at face value about thinking that you know what I should know better, perv!" snapped Amara, obviously not in the mood to be lectured by a Japanese priest (and a lecherous one at that). Quicksilver was silent as he stared as his white and silver Zephyr Keyblade before in a disgusted hissy fit, he threw the weapon on the ground before jumping up and down on it in frustration with gritted teeth and some muttered curses, clearly showing he didn't give much thought about how the Keyblade was supposed to be a revered artifact. He was so angry. Several of the heroes had to admit that it was a bit comical. When stomping on his Keyblade didn't satisfy his self-berating, Pietro then kicked the Keyblade away from him as hard as he could, having it clatter and skid across the cracked concrete. With a soft shimmer of silver radiance, the Zephyr Keyblade appeared back in front of Pietro's feet again, and embarrassed, the Misfit speedster just crossed his arms and pouted, not wanting to pick up his weapon.
Nightcrawler looked the most concerned as he tentatively laid a hand on Pietro's shoulder and said softly, "It's all right. You didn't know. It's not your fault. You shouldn't blame yourself."
Considering that normally, Kurt and Pietro would annoy, argue, bicker, and wail on each other to no ends, this was actually a small yet profound moment. And it was even more amazing that Quicksilver didn't say anything in return, just staring ahead at nothing blankly.
"And now that I think about it…it would explain on why the Organization kept sending Heartless here and there throughout the world instead of specifically trying to use them to wipe us all out in one strike. They're not specifically after us, but they're really after hearts!" exclaimed Wildstar, starting to piece it together, rubbing his chin with one thumb and forefinger.
"And it makes sense," Wood the Watcher groaned, feeling very, very tired, "This is the drawback of having a Keyblade. Though it kills Heartless and though they're powerful weapons, they have a side effect that's detrimental to us and the Organization is using this to their advantage. And like all weapons of power, there's always a cost or an Achilles' Heel that prevents it from being completely unstoppable."
"And this must also be why the Hellfire Club was so eager for the Misfits to keep the Keyblades according to Tessa's testimony! Because this was a way to put the Misfits in the position of being their pawns while getting more and more hearts from us to add to their reserves! They've been planning this all along!" groaned Spirit.
"General Hawk's gonna love this, and I know Chuck's not going to have a field day with this one either," mumbled Wolverine sarcastically, deciding he could murder Pluto later as he allowed the dog to back away from him nervously before squatting a safe berth from the crowd.
"But…why is the Organization after hearts? What could they possibly want with them in the first place? We know they want them, but what's so special about a heart particularly?" Danny Phantom asked out loud, trying to make sense of why such objects were raising such a huge fuss. Falco and Octavia remained adamantly silent, but then they were floored when the third Priest answered the ghost boy.
"The Organization needs to collect the hearts and Heartless to gain access to the Heart of all Worlds and to the Door to Light. Or at the very least, that's what I suspect to be the most logical case," Leomon answered delicately, his gruff voice uncharacteristically nervous. Oh, he was on the slippery slope to Hell at this rate…
"Leomon!" protested Octavia and Falco in unison, outraged and scandalized.
"Stop! You swore an oath! That is one of the most heavily guarded secrets! You're breaking your sworn duty as a Priest of Twilight!" the female octopus-woman pleaded, half begging and half in hurt. Leomon looked at her with something akin to sorrow and pain.
"I'm already in enough trouble," the lion said with fatigue, "And they need to know. They have a right to know. They're now more involved in this than ever before."
The other heroes were now even more intrigued.
"The Heart of all Worlds?" Wonder Woman asked.
"The Door to Light?" echoed Phoebe Halliwell, blinking. A door? Then perhaps could it have something to do with the door she saw in her nightmare so many months ago?
"What exactly is this Door to the Light? And how do we get to it? Or if not that, how do we destroy it?" Inuyasha spoke up, hefting his sword on top of his right shoulder.
"It's none of your business!" snapped Falco.
"I wasn't asking you, jerk-face! So shut the hell up before I make you!" snapped back Inuyasha even more in a feral and challenging manner.
Leomon decided to temporarily sidetrack the dog demon's question as he tried to argue to his fellow comrades, "Falco, Octavia, there's no point in attempting to uphold the rules we've sworn by if things continue to decline at this rate. And since I could not find the Sovereign or the Champion on this planet, but the Grail of Twilight still choose to side with these heroes, that could mean that Fate would want us to follow this path! Only a few could even grace the Grail, and the Misfit literally saved all of us from the Organization because of his interference. Without him, the Superior would have gained the Chalice, and it was a risk I wouldn't have wanted to bet on. Please, you two, trust them. The statue of the Sovereign could be a sign why she won't appear…because she sent us to heroes who could be just as good and powerful."
Octavia's voice was hard as she accused, "Or maybe the reason the Sovereign hasn't shown up yet to save all of us and those who've been lost is precisely because of Toad's interference."
"A little gratitude certainly wouldn't kill you. It was either Toad uses the Chalice to save all of us or your Xemnas uses it to kill us all. At the very least, be more civil and try to at least show that you're on our side," Wonder Woman reprimanded sternly.
Leomon then spoke with conviction, "Octavia, Falco…I have faith in them. They're not like other heroes. The Misfits and the X-Men especially are people of strong hearts, and I don't think it was a mistake that the Keyblades and the Holy Chalice chose to entrust them just like how it wasn't an unfortunate mistake that the Gathering of Twilight has to regrettably happen here on this planet. But trust these heroes. This world – no, these worlds are not like anything else I've ever seen, and that could be a good thing. There isn't only one path to truth; there can be many paths."
Octavia looked sad as she asked quietly, "So you would rather abandon your duty to side with the Keyblades? You'd abandon the King and us…again?"
Leomon's voice, though deep and gruff, had a touch of softness to it as he said, "I'm not abandoning you, either of you. I thought you would have seen that by now. But even if the King disagreed with me on this, and I'd doubt he would, it's still helping to fight against the Heartless. My heart is telling me what I must do…and I can't ignore that. And I know the King would want me to follow my heart's decision. And so would the Sovereign and Champion too, if they were here."
A good number of the heroes couldn't help but be little touched at this.
"So you're going to break your vow of silence?" Falco asked, his voice hard, but many in the audience were a bit surprised to see that the avian was furiously wiping his eyes with his dirty jacket sleeve, evidently hurt at this second occurrence of Leomon siding with the X-Men and Misfits over he and Octavia, "You know as well as we do that this is breaking your oath and the rules. This is meddling."
"I thought that too at first, Falco," Leomon said with some hurt and the knowledge that could only be gained from his painful trials in being on Earth, "I really did. I thought that duty and defeating the Heartless no matter what it took was the only way, the only worthwhile way. But…I can't believe that anymore. Not after what I've seen here. I can't just blindly follow orders without taking them into account, not after the incident with Raven and her father. And I won't keep my oath to find the Sovereign and Champion if it hurts someone else. I can't accept collateral damage as necessary anymore. Trust them, all of them and their determination. Join them and help them fight against the Heartless. The Sovereign and Champion can wait a bit, at least just for a little while."
"You expect us to do something that stupid, after knowing how many of our friends and family are dead because of the Heartless?!" Falco growled, inflamed but somehow managing to control his fury since Leomon did save their lives, and as such, he had to force himself to remain somewhat civil, "Look, you want to throw away your chance of bringing back your world, then fine! Be an idiot! But don't ask me or Octavia to follow that! We don't believe that this is the only way, the only hope! And frankly, it's a fool's hope!"
As he continued his rant, Falco furiously jabbed a finger at the audience of heroes who were watching this exchange silently (and with glares, angry looks, worry, and extreme temptation to jump in and turn this argument into a full-fledged screaming match or bloody fistfight).
"This planet may have potential, but this is the sorriest bunch of heroes that mutt could have ever chosen to wield the Keyblades!" the avian roared, "You think the Misfits are the prime examples of what a Keyblade wielder should be?! That's the cruelest joke I could ever expect Pluto to do to any of us! Damn it to Andross and back, I'd rather the X-Men had the Keyblades than the Misfits because at least they act less like uncontrollable morons!"
Bar the unconscious Toad and Wavedancer, all the Misfits looked uneasily at themselves, self-doubt and shame bordering their faces and unable to truly retort back. Blob was awkwardly scratching his head, Lance was despondently standing still and looking at the ground, Dragonfly was rubbing her arms, and Scarlet Witch was biting her lip. After all, finding out that they were playing into the Organization's hands with the Keyblades and how they haven't really prevented deaths during the Heartless invasions was enough to make them feel a bit inadequate. And well…compare them to people who were arguably much better and adept and noble such as Buffy the Slayer, Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman, Robin, Starfire, and Raven of the Titans, Captain America, Professor Xavier or Wolverine, even Hellboy…
Jean, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus (surprisingly) looked concerned and sympathetic, as if they didn't blame the Misfits for that tactical blunder and that they knew the Misfits were really trying their best (and not to mention this was a predicament no one could see coming). Cyclops' face was stony, calculating, as if his mind was whirling. Gambit and Magma couldn't help but have a little bit of triumph in their eyes while Storm, Multiple, and Boom-Boom were glaring daggers at Falco. The Star Fox character then jabbed a finger furiously at the Joes, the Teen Titans, the Ghostbusters, the Dinosaucers, Justice Leaguers, and the other allies.
"And them! You're committing blasphemy, you know that, Leomon! You're putting your trust and knowledge into people who in no way represent everything the Sovereign and Champion stood for! Granted, they're pure of heart like the King, but you're turning your back on your faith and promise to protect and guard the Heart of all Worlds for these people who can't defeat the Organization! At best, all we have is a bunch of insane military soldiers who like getting drunk on their asses half the time, a group of wild teenagers where you brought one of them back from the dead, paranormals who are unbalanced and unstable at best, and the Justice League whose big three are a naïve Boy Scout, a pointy-eared dick, and a stuffy Amazon princess!" Falco accused.
Superman looked taken aback, shocked at being so blatantly insulted right in his presence while Batman's glare intensified, and Flash and Green Lantern both clamped a hand on Diana's shoulders before the Amazon could march up to the avian and punch his head off his body (she looked angry enough to do it too). Supergirl was being stopped by Batgirl, with Barbara holding fast to Supergirl's wrist before she could do something violent.
"I'm going to hurt you so badly – Batgirl, let go!" protested Kara, "I'll make a fricassee out of that big-mouthed chicken!"
Barbara responded back hurriedly, "No, Kara! Stop! This isn't going to help us or them, especially since attacking him will just prove Falco and Octavia's point that they can't work with us! You can't expect Falco and Octavia to abandon everything they believed in on a whim!"
"Why not? Leomon did," the Titan Robin shot back at Batgirl. Leomon tried again to reason with his outraged friend.
"I'm not committing blasphemy, Falco. Can't you see that? The fact that the Keyblades have chosen to side with them shows that there may be hope outside the Sovereign and Champion. The rules of light and darkness are not always absolute, so there may be another way to win and kill Organization Thirteen without needing them."
"'Kill'?" Beast Boy repeated, looking a little pale and sick behind his green face. As a young adolescent, fighting or imprisoning criminals for legal prosecution was reasonable, but asking this was…rather daunting for a teenager. Especially since like the Justice League, the Titans rarely ever committed homicide if they could help it. Even Terra's "death" was too uncomfortable for him to accept. Adam Bomb from the Ghostbusters gave the Teen Titan a disbelieving look.
"Yeah. 'Kill', Beast Boy. I'd doubt the Thirteenth Order is going to be interested in negotiations over tea and cookies, and I don't think that there's a place that can imprison them for life, and not even the Senior Partners would want to argue their case considering how many people and innocents they killed," he pointed out sardonically.
Octavia meanwhile retorted, "And the only ones who can truly put this to an end and destroy the Organization in one swoop to harness the Door to the Light would be the Sovereign or the Champion of Twilight. Leomon, even with the Talismans and the Keyblades, though they're a boon, we can't solely depend on them for even they have their limits."
"Oh, and you and Falco are the epitome of perfection and saints, aren't you?!" snapped Storm with acidic sarcasm and disgust. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. The Priests ignored the X-Woman, thankfully.
"And yet since they haven't been found, it's all the more reason to trust Pluto and the heroes he's gathered to fight against the Heartless," Leomon tried again.
Falco then couldn't help but let out a little malicious bile as he spat, "We wouldn't be in this position if you told us that you had the Talisman of Earth in the first place! Or if you actually did your damned job of finding the Sovereign and Champion instead of making things harder against the King! You're spitting on everything he did for you for the Misfits and the X-Men!"
Leomon looked a bit taken aback before his blue eyes clouded, and he looked to the side, crestfallen and his mouth in a grim line. He stated with weary resignation, "I guess we disagree then."
Falco looked regretful he said that as he frowned to himself, but he didn't reply back. He just lost his temper, emphasized with the frustration that he thought that he would finally see Fox and Slippy and Peppy once again. Octavia let out a frustrated breath, her eyes misty, but she then spoke graciously enough.
"More than you think. And if this is how it will be, then though we still will always be friends, we can't fight together then. You can't come with us, and we won't stay with you, simple as that. But then our new mission is to find the Sovereign and Champion of Twilight, despite the fact that the Grail is now in your possession. If you won't allow yourself to not be sidetracked, then we will find the Sovereign and Champion ourselves, with or without you. But…Leomon, if you need help at the final hour, we will come. I – we can promise that at least. If there's one thing we can agree on, we don't want to lose to the Heartless. We just have different ways of doing it."
Leomon nodded bleakly; he knew that this was the best he could expect in this current situation. Falco then added a verbal postscript.
The crowd glared at the avian, thinking he was going to make another insult or a smart-aleck and arrogant remark, but his next words actually surprised them.
"Thank you. For saving us, and for helping me and Octavia. We don't believe in you, but…we're not going to forget this. Granted, helping you fight the Organization and saving you from the explosion balanced out any ideas of paying you back, so don't think we owe you all anything in the future."
"We are grateful. Really, we are," Octavia added, trying to soften the blow.
"If you're indebted to us, then maybe you should actually trying helping fight with us for a change! Can't you see that fighting amongst ourselves is going to make it easier for the Thirteenth Order to win?!" snapped the Slayer Kennedy, obviously annoyed to no ends from their self-righteousness. Falco gave the brunette a sharp glare as he retorted.
"Not when it puts us at risk along with our mission. Nice try, but I'm making this clear right now: we're thankful and we'll fight, but if it comes down to choosing the Sovereign and Champion over you, we'll do it in a heartbeat. And if that means that taking away that chalice from your frog-friend which doesn't rightfully belong to him anyway, then that's how it's gonna go."
"You're such a jerk!" snapped Bumblebee the Titan, stomping one foot on the ground in anger, "After all that crap you went through in being killed because you had the Talismans and how we actually helped you, you're still back to being nothing more than some hood! Is getting your friends and family worth ignoring the fact that we helped you?!"
"Figures," snorted Eduardo with contempt, "You were an asshole before you died, and even after coming back, you're still an asshole!"
"Just because you're priests doesn't mean you're better than us! Or that your decisions are always right! In fact, after all this, this just proves you're almost always wrong, you self-righteous pricks!" Low Light snarled.
"Low Light, enough," chided Captain America strongly before he turned to the avian and the female octopus-humanoid, saying, "Why can't you join us? We'd be stronger that way, and we can help each other! Like Superman said, we can help you and we don't want more deaths because of the Organization. Just because we're not the Sovereign and Champion doesn't mean that we're hopeless and that we're a foolish risk. We may not be as strong, but that doesn't mean we can't win the Gathering of Twilight if we do work together."
"Yes, Falco and Octavia, please be our friends and allies in this. Why must we fight? Surely you can see that we do not wish you harm and we would gladly help you and your friends and this King whom you serve. Please Friend Falco and Friend Octavia, Friend Leomon already believes in us and we believe in fighting the Heartless to protect this world. Why not you?" the Titan Starfire beseeched pleadingly, her green eyes troubled but immensely compassionate.
"We'd rather go with a sure chance as opposed to a lesser hope. And like Leomon said before, you do not have the power to bring back our worlds, and practicality is also an issue here," explained Octavia.
"Well, why can't we help you find the Sovereign and Champion then? We need them as much as you do, and in return, you can help us fight against the Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Heartless," pointed out Aqualad. Falco gave the Atlantean a baleful glare.
"You want to know why? Fine, here's the list, kid: one, you'll slow us down. Time's an issue because if the Organization ever find the identities of the Sovereign or Champion before we do, they'll kill them and then we'll truly be screwed with no hope. Two, joining you would make it harder to hide our efforts to help win against the Heartless and stop the Organization, especially since there are other enemies that have it in for you and now that you're bigger threats than ever before to the Thirteenth Order. Three, we're not willing to wait around. Despite having more people helping us search if we do join you, our priorities aren't the same as yours, and conflicts of interests are definitely going to lead to stonewalling. Four, me and Oct prefer to work alone because that's the way we're used to, that's the way it's always been, and that's the way it's gonna be. Five, you don't need us as much as the Sovereign and Champion of Twilight do, so any help we give would be a waste of valuable resources."
"That's foolish, bird. Fighting us will only make your job harder, not easier. That's incredibly narrow-minded," pointed out Sango of the Ghostbusters. Kilala growled alongside the Japanese monster-assassin in full agreement.
"And so are you," shot back the avian, "You know for a fact that even with the Keyblades, you still could do nothing to stop the Organization from fully destroying any chance you have with that figurine. You have no right to claim you can use and guard the Holy Chalice any better."
"Oh? And you can? Your mission may be perhaps more urgent than ours, but it is far from being the best solution for everyone to survive. As warriors against the Heartless, you should be more concerned about everyone else and not just those you deem as higher importance," spat Black Widow, her green eyes narrowed and scowling as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"You can't deny that even with all of us put together can stop the Organization or even win against the damned Gathering of Twilight. At least if the legends are true, then the Sovereign will bring back everyone who died from the Heartless which helps you and us in the end! And as the Priests, we have an obligation and sworn duty to protect the only ones who matter the most so that all the worlds that were destroyed by the Heartless in the first place can come back," the Cornerian pilot returned evenly.
"Gee, of course, 'cause you two were five-by-fives when you went against White Bread and her Hellion Squad in a situation that practically screamed the word 'trap', huh, Dick of the Year?" the Slayer Faith growled with acidic sarcasm.
"And the Misfits and the X-Men are hardly any better. You've made mistakes as well," Octavia said with some growing impatience.
"Hey, Bird-Brain and Fish-Tramp, you better watch your mouths!" snapped Compy, the compsognathus' face turning nearly as crimson as his skin color from the ire, "Need we remind you that you may be tough and all and oh-so-mighty Priests of I-could-care-less, but we've got that handy Chalice angel, and you know that it's one of the few things that can actually help you fight against the Organization! Or why else would you and those Organization chumps be after it so badly? So if you ask me, you better play nice if you even want us to help you chumps out!"
"You don't get to bargain with it, just like how we don't have a right to say we're not worthier of carrying it. That Holy Chalice is the rightful property of the Sovereign."
Raven coldly and stoically said, "And now it's inside Toad. Deal with it."
"And it's not his to begin with," Octavia tried to reason amiably, "Why can't you see that? That statue may be the only thing that can bring forth the Sovereign of Twilight, and only she can truly stop the Heartless and the Organization once and for all. This could stop the Gathering to come and bring all your friends back! Is that what you wanted, to put a stop to the war?"
"It is, and don't get us wrong, but not if it puts Toad, the Misfits, or any of our other friends at risk. It may not be his to begin with, but is sure as hell isn't yours to decide who it rightfully goes to or how it can be harnessed. That statue obviously chose him for a reason," the Slayer Chao-Ahn shot back with harsh judgment.
"It did?" blinked Nightcrawler, "I thought it was just because Toad interfered and messed things up like he always did! You know, wrong place at the wrong time, die Freundin?"
Jinx the West Coast Misfit gave Nightcrawler a tired and baleful look before she griped, "Nightcrawler, you're really not helping."
"And without that Holy Chalice, we can't find the Sovereign as soon as possible! And not to mention that being in Toad's hands will make it easier for the Organization to get it and screw all of us over so that there's no way we can win against the Heartless!" Falco squawked, starting to lose his temper. Why the hell couldn't those stubborn idiots see that?!
Dimetro the Dinosaucer had to admit that it felt incredibly good to say his next sentence as he returned the avian's earlier words with full ironic mockery as he retorted darkly with a growl, "Funny, last time we checked, that wasn't an obligation on our parts."
Falco swelled up slightly with anger at that.
"Fair's fair. Finders keepers and all that, so you can either accept it, or do something selfless and help us out. You have no claim over an object that has actively selected Toad to be the one to wield it, same as the Keyblades for the Misfits," Paul Dreggar said sternly, and the other Secret Scouts nodded in full agreement. Jean gave a side look to Cyclops when she heard this; Scott did his best not to glance back.
"He won't have it for long," Falco snarled impatiently, and this instantly made many of the Joes defensive and murderously defiant.
"Are you threatening them?" Cover Girl asked with a deep scowl, her voice low but with a hint of danger. Shipwreck was less refined and restrained as he pointed one of his Desert Eagle pistols at the two.
"You so much as even lay one finger on either Al or Toad, I will kill you, Priests or no Priests and I don't give a crap about who or what sent you," the Joe sailor growled.
"That goes double for me," Roadblock said with malicious and protective fury, "And if you try it, my gun aimed between your eyes will be the last thing you'll see."
"And if we don't take it to find the Sovereign, the Organization will…and they'll kill the rest of you to get to him," Falco returned.
"That's still not a good reason! If you're not even our enemies and are one of the good guys, you shouldn't even do something as low as stealing!" Stego the Dinosaucer snapped, angry and indignant, his hands on his hips.
Rapunzel the Monster Fighter was absolutely disgusted as she spat, "So even after death, you're still willing to sacrifice Toad if it means finding the Sovereign and Champion, you ever-so-hypocritical, self-righteous, religious fanatics?!"
"Don't put words in our mouths," Octavia said coldly, "If there's a way to find the Sovereign without endangering Toad, then we will use it. After being sacrificed to give out the mirror and the shield, we know better than to actively pursue that option now. We won't ignore that you helped save us after we both died."
"And if there isn't another way?" Cover Girl asked with each syllable as sharp and frosty as an icicle.
"We don't want Toad or Wavedancer dead, Cover Girl," the female Tigershark said to the Joe after a frustrated sigh. Courtney's eyes narrowed even more as she pointed out her next statement.
"You didn't answer the question."
"That's because we're not sure what to do ourselves if that should be the case," Octavia responded, which definitely did not make any of the heroes (especially the Misfits and the Joes) feel any better. It wasn't a definite "no", meaning that despite everything, Falco and Octavia still would follow the possibility of having Toad and Althea die if it meant saving the world.
"Goddamn it, we should have never helped you! You were better to us dead!" Beach Head snarled, although no one thought it was worth pointing out to the angry Army Ranger that with Falco and Octavia dead, no one would have been able to harness the Enchanted Mirror and the Save the King. The two servants could see that they were getting nowhere and that frustratingly enough, they hit a proverbial brick wall.
"Let's go, Octavia. The Sovereign and the Champion still need to be found," Falco murmured, and with that, both of the Priests of Twilight turned and walked away slowly.
Some looked like they weren't going to just stand by any longer, and the Flash was about to dash off, but seeing the position of his body as a signal that he was about to run, Clark spoke out.
"Flash, no, let them go," Superman said, placing a hand on his teammate's shoulder. Wally was beside himself with shock and anger.
"You've got to be kidding! We're just gonna let 'em go and let them cause more trouble for us later?! That is so bogus it's not even funny! Even I find that stupid, and that's saying something!" the Justice League speedster retorted.
"And he and Octavia did help us. We need to remember that some of us would not have gotten out of there alive if it wasn't for their help. Be gracious enough for that."
He had a point. Still…
"Uh, Earth to whatever's left of your mind, Supes!" snapped the Ghostbuster Kuwabara, "That just means that they'll get us later! You know they're not gonna let this slide!"
"And you should have thought about that earlier, especially since we're not your enemies to begin with. You brought this on yourselves, heroes," Octavia said quietly.
"Oh spare me! As if we'd want this! The last thing we need are more people to fight and watch our backs for! We've already gotten enough trouble from Organization Thirteen and the Hellfire Club! We don't need you two to add on to our crap!" Rona the Slayer growled with ire at the female Tigershark. Falco then decided to offer a choice to the heroes.
"All right, then there's an easy way to settle it. Just give us that statue then, and we'll take it out of your hands. If you want us to stay with you and help fight on your turf, then turn over that statue the first chance you get when Toad and Wavedancer wake up. We'll find the Sovereign and Champion and leave you alone and make sure the war's finished. Everyone'll be much happier that way," Falco commanded without hesitation.
Hiei the Spirit Detective has an answer for this, saying shortly and to the point, "No."
"You must really think we're as stupid as you look, don't you, you blue-feathered chicken?" growled his teammate Yusuke, one hand glowing dangerously and crackling with blue, intense, spirit energy, "There's no way in hell we'd give it to you, especially since you haven't earned it!"
"And if you don't trust us, then we sure as hell aren't going trust either one of you! And if this Sovereign herself wants her dumb grail, then she can come over here and get it from us if it means putting an end of this dumb Heartless war and saving Toad and Wavedancer! If she can do it and if you find her, we'll gladly give it up if we can!" Paige Halliwell snapped.
Agent Pete Wisdom then managed to sum it up eloquently enough as he said with molten steel, "Until then, both of you, piss off. We're not handing something this powerful and dangerous to you and thereby give away one of the few things that can help defend us against the Organization blokes from going full out."
"Of course, you're more than welcome to fight us for the Chalice," Jean said in a distant but veiled warning.
"All of us," added Captain America with force, and on cue, all the members of the Justice League, G.I. Joe, the Teen Titans, the Ghostbusters, the Dinosaucers, and the other allied heroes stood up a bit straighter and grew slightly tense, unconsciously congregating closer to the X-Men and Misfits and wordlessly showing their support as a united front.
Plateo the Dinosaucer made the point as he said in a clipped and cold tone, "Despite having two of the Talismans of Twilight, we greatly outnumber you both. So I highly suggest you think your next move quite carefully."
Falco and Octavia did. After several seconds of staring down at the congregation, the Priest of Water and Wind turned to leave, obviously deciding not to fight for now. Still, Octavia couldn't help but voice her worry as they left.
"Just be prepared. After this, the Organization and the Hellfire Club will be more than intent than ever to eliminate all of you before the Gathering, especially Wavedancer and Toad. They will not accept this and move on. And you may not be able to fully anticipate and stop them, especially if Toad and Wavedancer are unable to handle the powers of the Chalice."
"Thanks for the concern," Green Lantern commented sarcastically, "But considering how we were the ones to save your backsides, we can handle ourselves just fine."
"Like the time when the Heartless invaded your Watchtower and took control of your gun to fire on Washington D.C?"
Though soft and not the least bit hostile, Octavia's rhetorical question didn't suit well with the Justice League members as they instantly took to offense.
"Bitch," hissed Supergirl as Hawkgirl's fingers tightened around the handle of her mace, her knuckles turning white. The two Priests of Twilight didn't answer as then Leomon tried to convince them one more time to stop.
"Falco, Octavia…" Leomon whispered in a jaded tone, the closest he had ever come close to begging, ever since he prayed before he killed and resurrected Raven during her father's brief rule over the Earth, "Please, don't do this. It's a mistake."
Octavia and Falco both stopped and paused, as if in contemplation. The Tigershark form Water-O sighed with exhaustion, biting her lip, but she didn't bother to turn to face her fellow teammate. But it was Falco who turned to look at Leomon, the X-Men, the Misfits, the Joes, and their friends. And all the soldiers were a bit startled to see that the Cornerian pilot has streaks of tears running from his eyes down his face. It was clear he didn't want this either.
"Then let it be our mistake to make, Leomon," the avian croaked hoarsely, "Our hearts are telling us what we should do too…and you don't know what it's like to be haunted by the deaths of the few people who ever gave a damn. And how much it hurts unless you want to do anything it takes to bring them back so that you don't live with the nightmares."
This struck a chord with many of the assembled heroes; many of them had indeed lost people they were close too, and unlike Falco and Octavia, many of them had no chance of getting them back. The Joes, X-Men, and Misfits especially were sympathetic.
"Actually, we can relate a lot more than you think," Quinn said sadly, remembering how they were all banking on so many of their own Joes gaining their hearts back at the Gathering of Twilight if they win it (a big "if"). And some of the X-Men remembered the plights of Kitty, Evan, and their other friends who lost loved ones to the Heartless (and their questionable secret of the Yellow Materia as a contingency plan).
"Then understand why we can't bank on winning the Gathering if we don't have a definite chance with you X-Men and Misfits," Falco said bitterly, frowning at last, "As powerful as the Keyblades are, you can still lose. And your Toad is no Sovereign of Twilight. You're not gods. Which means if you mess up, everyone dies."
There was a pause as they all realized that there was some truth to those words. They could still fail despite everything they've endured and trained and prepared for against the upcoming end of the world.
Octavia and Falco took their silence as general agreement, and without a word, they dashed off, swiftly and with barely a noise as they took to the air, clutching the Enchanted Mirror and the Save the King Talismans, nimbly leaping towards the high-rises before they disappeared completely.
Everyone just remained there, watching as the faint traces of the sun were beginning to pick up from the eastern parts of the sky above before Superman and Felicia of the Ghostbusters then picked up something with their sensitive hearing.
"Sirens," Superman groaned, recognizing the distinctive wailing of police cars approaching (and from the sounds of it, an entire squadron was arriving).
"We'd better scram, then. Especially if we don't want to remain here and explain how we were inadvertently the cause of a whole company going to flames. And I'd doubt they'd be happy to see any of us," Felicia said, and Garrett groaned, face-palming and realizing that this entire fight could very well have repercussions later in the near future.
"Ms. Calendar isn't going to be happy on how she's going to need to radio Louis and the lawyers again," the young adult said wearily.
"All because of that dumb mutt," muttered Mas y Menos crossly in unison as the two Titans glared at Pluto who whined and bowed his head. He wished this didn't happen, but what else could have Pluto done? It was safe to say that most of the assembled heroes were having less than charitable feelings for the Disney hound judging from the looks of discomfort, anger, and blame. The Misfits and the teenage X-Men surprisingly didn't seem angry at all.
"We need a place where we'll be safe while we rest, talk our options, and recuperate," versed Roadblock.
"I'd suggest the Pit of G.I. Joe. It would be the only place where I could fit and where you'll be able to accompany everyone here if you wanted to discuss and plan what to do next," Leomon broke in. This caused a good number of the audience to look at the towering, furry giant with some slight surprise (they already expected him to leave).
"You're coming with us?" Blind Master asked. He was way too exhausted to be suspicious now after everything, and he just wanted to sit and sleep for the next twenty four hours.
"I gave you my word."
The Misfits, X-Men, and Joes then remembered that the lion swordsman did promise them, and it made them feel a bit more relieved and a bit less defensive around their newfound ally. After all, he had no other reasons to stay with them and to turn on Falco and Octavia a second time. Still, Beach Head couldn't help but be a bit snide at the digital lion-humanoid (though he was grateful to be alive).
"Just so we're clear, you've still got a lot to answer for on how you helped so many Joes die because of your screw-ups."
"I know," Leomon conceded with some regret, "And I can't stay silent or keep my distance any longer, especially now that the Chalice of the Sovereign has chosen to appear and side with you and the Keybladers. I'll come with you now, and after you give me a chance to talk…you can do what you like with me, whether I'm your prisoner or your ally. It'll be your choice."
"Huh?" Colossus asked, puzzled, "Why?"
"Because you need to know exactly what you're dealing with. And frankly, no one else around here can do it, and I still need to make amends."
This got everyone's attention as Leomon continued.
"This has gone far enough," the tawny lion swordsman said gravely, "Call as many of the heroes who can be trusted with the secrets and gather them at the G.I. Joe Pit. It's time I told you everything I know, everything about the Heartless, Organization Thirteen, the Keyblades, and Kingdom Hearts."
"Kingdom Hearts?" chorused a good number of heroes, their eyes wide with shock as Raven, Willow, Batgirl, and Phoebe Halliwell all looked especially worried as they recalled their strange dream involving Experiment 666 so many months ago and how the mystery of the Heartless had plagued them and their friends and family ever since.
Leomon could very well blow the proverbial doors wide open on this one.
And it was safe to say that things were going to get very interesting soon…
Author's Notes: To all my faithful readers, I apologize for the delay in posting this, and for skipping a lot of the battle scenes (I had some really good ones between the heroes and each of the members of the Organization). However, real life and some unpleasantness (which I'd rather not get into right now) has kept me down from this fanfic. Thankfully, I wrote this chapter before the battle scenes and I have decided to post it before declaring that for a long while, even though I have planned the entire story and plot on paper, this fiction is currently on hiatus indefinitely. I apologize if this disappoints you, and if you ever wish to find out what happens later, send me a PM and I'll do my best to give a summary. Will I write again? Yes. Will I continue this story? Perhaps, but unfortunately, not anytime soon. And I apologize if this has given people grief. To all the fellow Misfit-verse fans who have truly been there for me, this universe would have never gotten off the ground had I not had your wonderful support. I can never thank you enough for that, and I do hope to have your understanding of why I cannot continue this currently.