and Kingdom Hearts
I've been having these weird thoughts lately…
Is any of this for real… or not…?
It felt like he was falling away into nothingness, though he could feel something around him. Water, perhaps? It felt like it was suffocating him, yet letting him breathe at the same time. He tried opening his eyes, finding himself in darkness, yet he could see… and across the way from him, he could see a young boy, younger than his landlord, falling much the same as he was. At that moment, the boy opened his eyes as well, staring at him… until the boy disappeared into the darkness.
"This dream is getting weird…" he murmured.
Just when he was about to question where it was heading, his feet hit bottom… and that bottom exploded in a light so bright it forced him to shield his eyes for a moment. When the light became more tolerable for him, he lowered his arm to see that he was standing on a stain glass picture of a man with feathered pale hair holding up a crystal and surrounded by strange creatures. The light illuminated the glass from somewhere on the bottom, but he could not find the source.
"So much to do, so little time… Take your time. Don't be afraid. The door is still shut. Now, step forward. Can you do it?"
The voice spoke directly into his mind, surprising him, as only his landlord could do such a thing. Too numb with confusion and shock, he took a few steps forward; not really thinking about it until three pedestals suddenly grew out of the stain glass ground. A sword, shield, and a staff appeared on each platform; all three were adorned with a strange sort of circular design that he did not recognize.
"Power sleeps within you. If you give it form… it will give you strength. Choose well."
He blinked. "Whaa…?" he said aloud. "What the heck is that supposed to mean? Who are you? Where the HELL am I?!"
His only answer was the echoing of his own voice. He scoffed, kicking at the glass in frustration, before observing each one of the platforms. The sword seemed the most logical choice, in his mind anyway. If he had to fight something, or whatever, he would need something to do that with, would he not? Nodding to himself, he reached up and took the hilt of the strange sword.
Holding it in his hand made the sword look like some kind of child's plaything. Though the edges of the blade were noticeably sharp, it was far too short for his liking, and the hilt consisted of nothing but bright colors. He made a face; if dreams could get any stranger…
"You have chosen the power of the warrior. Invincible courage. A sword of terrible destruction."
Of course, it just had to get weirder, as the sword suddenly disappeared from his hand.
"Your path is set. Now, what will you give up in exchange?"
He looked around, still trying to figure out where that voice was coming from. "Give up?" he asked the air. "What do you mean, 'give up in exchange'?"
Again, nothing but his own echo answered him. He growled in frustration, before looking at his options. Only the shield and that strange staff were left; a shield usually meant protection, and he would probably need that, but a staff…? Staves were usually a symbol of magic, something that was not really his department, outside of summoning monsters that was. Then again… magic also meant more power, and could sometimes be used as a defense as well.
"Aw, what the hell…" he muttered, going over to the shield and picking it up.
"You have given up the power of the guardian. Kindness to aid friends. A shield to repel all."
The shield also disappeared from his hands as he rolled his eyes. Kindness to aid friends, hunh? If that was the case, then he was glad he chose to get rid of that. You needed to have "kindness" and "friends" in order to defend them, both of which he was more than lacking in.
Suddenly, the platforms crumbled, disappearing into the stain glass from whence they came, and starling him enough to make him jump back. Just when he was about to ask what was going on, a tinkling sound met his ears, and he turned in horror to see the glass slowly breaking apart. He tried to back away, but he was too late, and he soon found himself falling through the endless expanse once again.
A new stain glass surface, this one decorated with the image of a blonde young man in a green tunic, was rapidly approaching. Just when he feared he was going to hit the surface head on, something slowed him down and righted him, so that he landed on his feet with a dull clack. Before he could get his bearings, however, the sword appeared in his hand again.
"You've gained the power to fight."
"What, with this thing?" he asked, taking a few stabs at the air. "I couldn't kill a fly with this thing!"
Just for the hell of it, he took a practice swing. Small and toy-like the sword may have been, but at least it had good balance.
"All right! You've got it! Use this power to protect yourself and others."
As soon as the words died away in his head, a black stain appeared on the stain glass in front of him. Curious, he took a few steps forward, only to end up jumping back as a small… thing jumped out of the glass. It had a humanoid appearance with long antennae sprouting out of its head, and it was entirely black except for its glowing yellow eyes. He backed up farther, only to have another and another sprout out of the glass floor.
"There will be times you have to fight. Keep your light burning strong."
"Easy for you to say!" he exclaimed as one of the black creatures jumped toward him. He ducked out of the way, before swinging around, his toy sword lancing out and cleaving the creature in two. It disappeared into the darkness, and its companions burrowed back into the ground.
He looked down at his sword, impressed. "Well… that was easy…"
He turned, only to get a face-full of scratches courtesy of the dark things that had reappeared. He growled under his breath, charging forward to attack. His sword neatly sliced through all of the ones that dared to get in his path, leaving only one behind. Turning toward it, he started to approach the final one, when it melted back into the ground, leaving a dark stain behind that started to expand out toward him.
Taking a step back, he suddenly found himself falling again, as he had accidentally stepped into a dark stain that had appeared behind him. He struggled against it, closing his eyes, fighting against the pull and the pressure… and all of a sudden, it stopped…
He opened his eyes again, only to find himself standing on a brightly colored stain glass floor. This one did not have a woman on it, but instead several strange heart and crown designs. Across the way from him, an ornate white door stood, like one would expect to find at a palace or the like…
…and beside him…
"You!" he and the boy exclaimed at the same time, jumping away from one another slightly. They gave each other a distrustful look, the boy eyeing his black cut offs and vest and bright red shirt, while he eyed the boy's baggy pants and jacket and really big shoes.
"Who are you?" he finally asked.
"Sora," the boy replied. "What are you doing in my dream?"
He raised an eyebrow. "That was my next question, kid," he said, giving him another measured look, before saying, "I'm Bakura."
Sora nodded, easing back a bit. "Any idea what's going on?" he asked. "This just seems too weird to be a dream."
"No kidding," Bakura replied, before pointing to the door. "Though, weird doors usually lead out of dreams. Maybe if we go through that…"
"Good idea," the boy agreed, staring toward it, Bakura right behind him.
He reached out to put a hand on one of the golden handles, when the door opened on its own. On the other side was nothing but a blinding light that they had to shield their eyes from. The light faded shortly, though, and the roar of the ocean met his ears…
Bakura lowered his arm, to see he was once again standing on the beach, the beach house that he had been dragged to by his landlord and his friends in the distance. Sora had disappeared, but he was not alone. Surrounding him, leaning against trees or sitting down in the sand, were Kaiba, his runt brother, and the mutt Jounouchi.
"Hold on. The door won't open just yet. First, tell me more about yourself."
Bakura grumbled, wishing this dream would just end already.
"What's most important to you?" Mokuba Kaiba asked suddenly from where he was sitting on a log. "Being number one, friendship, or your prized possessions?"
Bakura raised an eyebrow. Kinda… personal questions, hunh?
"Being number one of course," he replied.
"Is being number one such a big deal?" Mokuba asked, before vanishing as if he had never been.
Bakura's eyebrows shot up into his hairline, but he did not have time to worry about the disappearing runt, as Jounouchi had a question for him. The mutt yawned from where he was sprawled out on the sand, before he asked:
"What do you want outta life? To see rare sights, to broaden your horizons, or to be strong?"
"To be strong," the tomb robber answered without missing a beat. If you were not strong, then you did not last long in the world; that was what he had always believed ever since he was a child.
"To be strong, hunh?" Jounouchi replied, before he vanished as well. Only Kaiba was left, leaning up against a palm tree, his trench coat billowing in the slight breeze.
"What are you so afraid of?" the businessman asked. "Getting old, being different, or being indecisive?"
Bakura blinked in surprise. This question coming from Kaiba was more than a little… odd.
"Being indecisive," he answered after a moment. After all, he had been a thief in the past – still was, much to his landlord's misfortune – and he had to make quick decisions. It was either that or get caught, and he never got caught.
Kaiba raised an eyebrow. "Being indecisive? Is that really so frightening?" he asked, before he vanished as well, leaving Bakura alone on the beach.
"You want to be number one…
You want to be strong…
You're afraid of being indecisive…"
He nodded as the voice repeated his choices in his mind. Yeah, that sounded just about right.
"Your adventure begins in the dead of night. Your road won't be easy, but a rising sun awaits your journey's end. The day you will open the door is both far off and very near."
Again, there was a flare of light, and he was starting to wonder if all this light and darkness was going to make him go blind. Once the light was gone, he was on another stain glass floor. This one was of a blonde woman in a purple dress surrounding by thorny vines. A dull light was shining near the head of the woman, invoking a sigh out of him.
"Maybe we walk toward the light?" a voice suggested, making him jump and whirl around to see Sora behind him again. "Heh, sorry about that."
"S'all right," Bakura grumbled easing back. "This dream is just getting more annoying by the minute."
Sora nodded in agreement, starting toward the light, Bakura following behind him a moment later. At first, nothing happened, but a strange sound made the two of them spin around. There was another one of those black creatures Bakura had met before. Another strange sound met their ears, and before they knew it, the odd little creatures surrounded them.
Though they did not notice, the two of them seemed to move as one; ducking out of the way, turning about to strike out at the shadowy creatures. Standing back to back, they attacked and defended, destroying the creatures, leaving them both exhausted.
"I hope this dream ends soon," Bakura muttered. "This is tiring."
As if in response to his desire, a staircase of stain glass panels appeared on the far end of the glass, spiraling up into who knew where. Sora and Bakura exchanged looks, hoping it was a way out as they made a break for it, taking the glass steps two at a time, only to arrive on yet another stain glass floor. This one had a sort of brownish-red headed woman on it, dressed in a golden gown and surrounded by various household items. Bakura swore violently under his breath, getting a sweatdrop out of Sora. Did this dream not end?!
"The closer you get to the light, the greater your shadow becomes…"
Bakura crossed his arms. "Congratulations, mysterious voice from no where; you win the no shit award."
Sora put a hand over his mouth to stifle a snigger as the tomb robber turned around, an annoyed look on his face… and stopped cold. Their shadows were coming out of the ground, slowly twisting into something that looked barely human. Bakura took several steps back as the shadow towered over them, yellow eyes glaring, a giant hole in its stomach the shape of a heart. He accidentally fell over as handfuls more of those smaller black creatures appeared around it, jumping about anxiously, as if they knew he was outnumbered.
"But don't be afraid, and don't forget…"
"Oh, fuck this!" Bakura exclaimed, scrambling back to his feet and making a break back for the stairs…
Which were no longer there.
"Shiiiiiiiiiiit…" Bakura moaned.
The tomb robber turned around, seeing that Sora had his sword at the ready, fighting off some of the smaller black creatures. Looking up, he saw the giant black thing rearing back; looking like it was going to pound the young boy flat. Swearing under his breath, he charged forward, knocking Sora out of the way just as the fist came down, making the ground shudder from the force.
"Thanks," Sora replied, eyes wide as darkness swirled out from around the fist.
Bakura pulled the boy up to his feet, trying to back away as the darkness crept toward them. They could not move fast enough though; the darkness surrounded them, wrapping about their legs, pulling them down into the darkness. Bakura held Sora's arm in a death grip, trying to pull him up; but the more they struggled, the more it seemed like they were pulled down…
"But don't be afraid. You hold the mightiest weapon of all. So don't forget: you are the one who will open the door…"
Groaning as he opened his eyes, Bakura found himself staring up at an endless blue sky. He sat up, gazing around blearily. There was the ocean… and the sand… oh, and there was the mutt playing some kind of tag game with unicorn-hair boy. Sighing in relief, he muttered a thankful, "Finally," before flopping back down onto the sand…
Only to find himself staring up at a massive head of spikes…
"DEMON!" he shouted, bolting back upright as a sniggering sound came from behind him. In the next moment, he felt someone rest a hand on his head, and his turned slightly to see the "demon" giving him an amused look, a hand on his hip.
"Have you looked in a mirror lately?" Atemu, former pharaoh and general pain in Bakura's ass, replied, a smirk tugging at his lips. The tomb robber glowered up at him, before swatting his hand away.
"Cut me a break, your worship," he grumbled as Atemu flopped onto the sand beside him. The pharaoh tilted his head to the side, studying him intently.
"You okay?" he asked finally.
"Yeah, peachy," Bakura replied, waving a hand. "Just bad dreams."
He swore mentally as a concerned look came over Atemu's face, wishing he had kept his mouth shut. The pharaoh leaned forward, absently grabbing his arm even as the thief tried to lean back.
"It's not about—"
"No," Bakura replied quickly, before he could ask the obvious question. "Is it about Zork?" As much as he wished that weird dream was only the product of an evil god whispering in his head, it did not feel the same as when the god of the dragon crotch would torment him.
Atemu leaned back after a moment, looking a bit relieved. "As long as nothing like that happens again. I like how I'm living now; I wouldn't want that threatened."
Bakura raised an eyebrow at the solemn look on the pharaoh's face. "Yeah. Me too," he muttered after a long moment, settling back, before he frowned slightly. "Hey, pharaoh… do you know anyone named Sora?"
Atemu blinked. "Who?"
"Hey, what are you two up to?"
The tomb robber turned around, only to get some metal poles thrown at him. He let out a yelp, falling over as a giggling sound came from above him.
"Why is it I'm the only one putting up the tents?" came Ryou's voice. "You all are so lazy."
Bakura growled under his breath, pushing the poles off him as he sat up. "So you have to try and impale me? I'm not a damn vampire."
Ryou put his hands on his hips, leaning over until he was in Bakura's face. "You act like it!"
"All right you two," Atemu said, amused, getting between the two of them before things could get ugly. "Play nice."
"No," Bakura replied as Ryou rolled his eyes, before an amused look crept up onto his face.
"Well… you two seem to play nice enough sometimes."
The tomb robber glared dangerously as Atemu turned bright red.
"H-hey!" he exclaimed, getting to his feet, just as Ryou bolted. Bakura got up in the next instant, chasing after his landlord down along the beach, the pharaoh trailing not that far behind a moment later.
-.oO Destiny Beach Oo.-
After catching Ryou and giving him hell in the form a noogie, they had come to the conclusion that gathering food and other supplies for their little sleep in on the beach that night would be a good idea. Of course, the pharaoh's idea of food was going over to the nearest pizza place – the mutt and the rest of them were a horrid influence on the old man. Of course, Bakura had his own idea of proper camping out, which led him to grab a sack and start mushroom hunting. He would not have minded so much, if that runt were not watching him again. It was bad enough when the pharaoh bothered him, but when his runt outer self bothered him; now that was just worse. Yuugi normally did not say much, but usually he just sat up somewhere and stared at him with the most distrustful look on his face. That was exactly what he was doing right now; sitting up on a ridge, watching him as he picked mushrooms.
The former tomb robber grumbled under his breath. What was wrong with the pharaoh and his runt? Was there some rule out there that said they had to torment him every waking moment?
Discretely, Bakura gradually made his way along the base of the ridge, toward a small cave in the side. He ducked inside, away from Yuugi's gaze; walking all the way in to make sure. Sighing, he slung the sack he was using to carry the mushrooms over his shoulder, before running his fingers through his hair. If this was supposed to be some kind of vacation, he needed to stop letting these happy go lucky morons get on his nerves. The way he was going, he was going to die again from stress.
Sighing again, Bakura walked deeper into the cave. He had heard from unicorn-boy that the better mushrooms were supposed to be located in darker places. While the cave was a bit lighter than he would have expected, it was dark enough to fit the description.
The tomb robber looked around as he reached the end of the cave. It was just a small circular space at the end, mostly overrun by tree roots from the palm trees above. There was a hole in the ceiling above, and Bakura could clearly see the blue sky above. It was just an ordinary cave, except for one thing…
There was a door embedded in the side of the wall…
You are the one who will open the door…
Bakura shook his head, chasing the memory of the dream away. There was no way that dream could be real; maybe this door was just a private storeroom or something. No need to panic.
Spotting a patch of grass off to the side, he went over and bent down, searching through the greenery for some mushrooms. He had managed to sack two of them, when the shuffling of footsteps caught his attention. Whirling around, he faced the door as his hand dropped down to his boot, where he kept a dagger hidden in case of emergencies like this.
"Who's there?" he demanded.
At first, Bakura did not see anyone, but then another shuffle of footsteps revealed a hooded figure standing half concealed behind a massive tree root.
"I've come to see the door to this world," the figure said in a deep voice that made even the tomb robber's skin crawl. Bakura glanced at the wooden door, before turning his attention back to the figure.
"What are you talking about?" he demanded.
"This world has been connected," the figure – it had to be a man; the voice was too deep – replied simply.
"Tied to the Darkness…" the cloaked man said, "soon to be completely eclipsed."
Bakura shuffled back a bit, freaked out. "What? Where did you come from?"
The cloaked man seemed to stare down at him with contempt. "You do not yet know what lies beyond the door. There is so much for you to learn. You understand so little."
The tomb robber froze, his eyes growing wide.
You will be the one who opens the door…
He shook away the memory again, glaring at the cloaked figure. "What do you know?" he demanded. "I understand plenty, and what I don't, I learn."
The man made a disapproving noise. "A meaningless effort. One who knows nothing can understand nothing."
Bakura got to his feet… only to see that the man had vanished. He stepped forward slightly, looking around in surprise. Where had he gone…? He had only looked away a brief moment when he got to his feet; how had the man disappeared in that small amount of time?
"Other me…!" Ryou's voice came from outside the cave. "Where are you…?"
Bakura grabbed his mushroom sack, taking one last glance at the door, before running out of the cave as fast as he could.
Bakura tucked his pajamas under his arm, muttering under his breath. Of course, he had to be the only one that did not think of grabbing the garments that morning when they had set out for the beach, never mind that he already knew they would be camping out that night. He must have left his brain behind on his pillow that morning, like he wanted to get more criticism from those idiots.
Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he made his way through the resort parking lot to get down to the beach. He was not paying much attention to anything… until a sudden wind picked up, knocking his clothes out from under his arm. Swearing violently, he chased after the shirt and pants as they drifted up, up…
Bakura slowly came to a halt, stopping and watching in mute horror as his clothes were carried along by the wind toward where a sinfully black vortex was swirling up in the air over the beach, looking like it was devouring the area. He shook his shock off as quickly as it had come, however. Ryou and the others were still at the beach!
The wind seemed to gain in intensity as he made his way closer to the beach, and he almost lost his footing several times as he stumbled down the hill leading to the sand. He ran as fast as he could toward where the tents they had worked so hard on to put up were nearly flattened. Taking up a handful of cloth, he peeked under one of them to see if anyone was still left there, only to have something slice across the left side of his face. He dropped the fabric, holding the side of his face and turning to see a handful of Duel Monsters cards whipping up toward the vortex above.
"Yadonushi!" he shouted into the wind. "Ryou! Where are you?!"
As if in answer, something black started swirling about on the ground. It was small, and there was only one of them… at first. Then another appeared, and another, and another; and before Bakura even realized it, he was surrounded by the same small dark creatures that had attacked him in his dream. He yelped in surprise, ducking as one of them leapt toward him, wishing he had that sword from the dream world.
Opting to run for it rather than attempting to fight the creatures without a weapon, he barreled through the dark creatures, ducking as they jumped and yelping when they managed to get a hit on him. He tripped trying to dodge one of them, and landed painfully on his back, staring up and over at the small ridge in the distance. There, he could just barely make out the outline of someone standing there… and judging from the height, he was able to narrow that person down to his landlord.
Scrambling up from the sand before one of the creatures could jump him, Bakura made a mad dash for the ridge. Reaching it, he started climbing up it without a second thought, ignoring the creatures that kept trying to swipe at his heels. He vaulted onto the top of the ridge, and paused a moment to catch his breath, before looking up to see that it was indeed Ryou standing there. His landlord's back was to him, and he was looking up at the vortex above.
"Ryou!" Bakura shouted over the roar of the wind. "You all right?"
Suddenly, the wind drastically died down, enabling the tomb robber to hear the boy's softly spoken words:
"The door is open."
Bakura felt his breath freeze in his throat. Now, all this talk about a "door" was just getting to the point of creepy; too creepy for even him.
"Wh-what?!" he demanded.
Ryou spun around, an oddly wild look in his eyes. "The door is open, other me! The door to other worlds!"
Bakura took a step back in spite of himself. That look in his eyes… Ryou was always rather quiet and meek when he was not having his rare mischievous streak. He was never really the type that freaked him out, but right now, he was doing a good job of it just by looking at him.
"What are you talking about?" he replied. "What's wrong with you?"
"Yuugi and the others have already passed through," Ryou replied. "Think about it, other me! There are infinite possibilities in the worlds out there!"
The tomb robber grit his teeth; he just was not making sense! "I think you've been hit one too many times in the skull," he said coldly. "Yadonushi, c'mon! Let's just go find the others."
Ryou did not budge from where he was standing; instead, that wild smile got even more eerie, making Bakura growl in frustration. Before he could say anything, however, he reached out an inviting hand toward him…
"Come, other me," Ryou urged him. "The door won't say open for long…"
Bakura stared at Ryou's hand in surprise. This could not be real, but was it another dream? It all seemed too real to be a dream, yet too unreal to be reality at the same time. Now, like in the dream, it seemed as if he had a choice. One choice was clearly displayed before him, but what was the other choice? Was it to not go beyond the "door", and stay on a world being swallowed by darkness? Or was there even another choice at all?
The tomb robber took a hesitant step toward his landlord, and a strange, drum-like sound filled the air. The shadows at Ryou's feet started to swirl, crawling up his body, claiming it as its own. Surprised, Bakura tried to rush forward to pull his landlord out of the darkness, only to find that his feet were stuck. He looked down to see what was wrong, only to see that the shadows were creeping up his body as well.
"No!" he shouted, horrified.
"I'm not afraid of the Darkness, other me," Ryou said quietly, seemingly unperturbed by the shadows. "Are you?"
Bakura wanted to shout at him, to say of course he was afraid of the Darkness. He had just spent three thousand years stuck in the Darkness; he was not about to have a repeat of all that! The words he wanted to yell just would not come out, however. He was too preoccupied with trying to fight the shadows off as they crept up along his face, threatening to close his eyes off forever, that he could not form the right words. His fighting proved futile, and the Darkness cut him off from the outside world…
I… I don't want… to be taken by Darkness… EVER AGAIN!!!
Bakura paused at the voice that filled his ears, eyes widening.
A light… pure and undying, it broke through the Darkness… Like a beacon, it shined where he last remembered his right hand being… chasing away the shadows…
In the blink of an eye, Bakura found himself standing once again on top of the small ridge. Ryou and the shadows that had tried to engulf the both of them were gone. He eased up slightly, disturbed and worried that his landlord was gone, but grateful that he had not joined him.
It was then that the tomb robber noticed that he was clutching something in his right hand. Looking down, he saw that it was some kind of giant key, about the same size as a small sword. Golden guards surrounded the "hilt" that he was clutching, and a chain with the exact same odd circular design as the weapons in his dream dangled from the end. He held it up before him, inspecting it in the dim light the vortex above gave off.
"What… what the hell is this…?"
The answer to his question came in the form of the mysterious voice from his dream, echoing on the path of the wind that was starting to pick up once again. Bakura looked about, trying to find a source for the voice, before turning his gaze back to the Keyblade.
"Keyblade…?" he began. "Is this supposed to be some kind of sword? It can't be; it has a round edge!"
Bakura was about to shake his head in disgust, when a strange sound reached his ears over the roar of the wind. Turning in surprise, he saw that it was one of those dark creatures, and it was leaping toward him! Not even thinking, he let instinct take over and swiped at it was the Keyblade, before ducking out of the creature's way. It landed on the ground, and as he turned to stare at it, its upper half fell off of its lower half before the creature disappeared entirely.
The tomb robber's eyebrows shot up into his hairline, and he held up the Keyblade once more, staring at it in appreciation.
"Yeah… that would be a 'Keyblade'," he said, nodding as if he was the one that named it.
He did not get much of a chance to ponder on it, as more of the strange dark creatures jumped him from out of nowhere. Caught off guard, Bakura could only defend, continually backing up until his foot encountered air. He fell over the edge of the ridge, landing with enough force on the sand below to knock the wind out of him. Groaning, he rolled over onto his side… and his breath froze in his throat…
There, over the entrance to the cave he had entered while looking for mushrooms, was the same ornate white door…
You will be the one who opens the door…
Was that door supposed to be "the" door?
Feeling apprehensive, Bakura climbed back to his feet, still keeping a tight grip on the Keyblade as he made his way toward the mysterious door. Reaching it, he hesitated a moment, before reaching out and flinging the door open. Nothing had changed on the other side; it was still the same dark cave, made darker by the lack of sunlight. Gritting his teeth, he made his way down the long tunnel, ducking to avoid the tree roots.
It was a little lighter at the end of the tunnel, in the circular root-filled room where that other door was, but not much. The door was not the only thing there now, however. Atemu was standing before it, his back to him, swaying slightly back and forth on his feet.
"Pharaoh!" Bakura exclaimed. "Man, I never thought I'd be relieved to see you." He reached a hand out to him, walking forward slightly. "C'mon, pharaoh, let's get the hell out of here before something bad happens."
Atemu slowly turned to face him… and Bakura took a step back in surprise. There was an empty look in the pharaoh's eyes… as if something was missing…
"Bakura…!" he exclaimed, reaching out as if to take his hand…
Suddenly, the door behind Atemu burst open, letting loose a harsh wind from deep within its bottomless depths. It picked the pharaoh up as if he weighed no more than a piece of paper, blowing him toward the tomb robber. Bakura opened his arms, ready to catch him…
…only to have him disappear as soon as they touched.
Bakura shouted in surprise and horror, but he did not get the chance to figure out what had just happened. The wind picked him up as well, sending him flying back out of the cave, banging against the walls as he went. He winced when he landed on the sand outside, pain pulsating in areas he knew would bruise later on, if they had not started already. Grumbling to himself, he crawled back to his feet, looking up… and gasped in horror.
There was not much left to the world he knew now. He was standing on a small circular bit of land, barely large enough to fit a baseball diamond. Behind him, what had once been the ridge threatened to crumble, and Bakura had a sinking suspicion that once that door was destroyed, that would be end of the world. Up above, the dark vortex had swallowed everything, even the night sky as it swirled about forebodingly.
The tomb robber ran to the edge of the land, looking out at the space beyond. He had to find some way to escape from this, but how? Could he just… jump, and hope that did the trick? Making a face, he shook his head; better think of another way first before doing something that drastic.
An inhuman moan filled the air, cutting him off from his thoughts. He spun around to see that darkness had formed on the ground behind him, as was gradually pulling itself upward. It twisted and pulled itself apart, slowly becoming the hideously huge shadow that had appeared in his dream. Bakura grit his teeth, clutching the Keyblade tightly. There was no way he was going to be able to avoid this battle, of that there was no doubt.
Almost immediately, the creature descended a fist upon him, fully intent on crushing him. The tomb robber easily rolled away, only to end up in the middle of a handful of the smaller shadowy creatures. He ended up taking several scratches to the face before he was able to fight back, and he just managed to defeat them before he had to roll away again, least he end up as a pancake. When he came back up, he stared up at the creature, his brain ticking off ways in order to defeat it. Too many of his options and ideas were being shaken off, however. How the heck could he defeat something so big?!
Yelping in surprise, Bakura was just barely able to dodge as the creature punched down again, and had to dodge once more to avoid the smaller creatures. Something clicked while he was moving: the creature, while massive, was also slow and stupid. The only thing it seemed to be able to do was punch at the ground…
As soon as he finished thinking that, the gigantic creature leaned its arms all the way back, fully exposing the heart-shaped hole in its body. A swirling darkness appeared in the center of the hole, and the tomb robber just barely managed to stop staring and start running as a beam of black magic shot out at him. The blast followed him around the remainder of the land until he managed to duck between the monster's seemingly paper-like legs. He breathed a sigh of relief, but even this sanctuary did not last long, as the creature raised one of its "feet" to step on him.
The tomb robber skirted out of the way, putting the Keyblade in his mouth – which was really uncomfortable, as the only part of it the he could fit in his mouth was the "blade" part, and with the strange hilt the weapon was horribly unbalanced. He grabbed one of the legs, starting to slowly climb up the side of the creature. It did not seem to realize what he was doing at first, which gave him ample time to get up past the monster's torso. The creature tried to take a swipe at him, but he just barely managed to climb out of the way.
Bakura took the Keyblade out of his mouth as he reached its shoulder, vaulting up to stand on it…
The monster turned its head toward him…
"Your face is open!"
Throwing his full weight behind the weapon, the tomb robber slashed the Keyblade viciously across the creature's face. It reeled back in surprise, almost sending him flying off of its shoulder. He gritted his teeth, practically digging his nails into the creature to prevent himself from falling. An inhuman moan erupted from the monster, and it reached up with its hands, trying futilely to knock him off. Deciding that this was a little too dangerous, Bakura decided to go back down the way he came… the insane way. He slammed his Keyblade into the creature before swinging his legs over the side. He fell the whole length of the way back down, the sword/key slowing his descent and leaving a gigantic gash in the creature's back.
It thrashed about, obviously in pain; it fell to the ground with enough force to crack what was left of the land. The tomb robber fought to keep his footing, even as the slowly dying creature was lifted up from the remainder of the world. The wind picked up, pulling everything toward the vortex above. Bakura tried to hold on, but the pull was too intense. His feet lifted from the ground, and despite how much he dug his fingers into the ground, he could not hold on…
The only person that occupied the tavern that night was a young woman wearing some kind of military uniform. Her messy blonde hair hung before her red eyes as she stared down at the glass before her. She seemed normal enough, as human as any other human being, but something was a bit… off. Something about the way she carried herself, the occasional glow in her eyes; it was all unnatural.
Then again, the fact that the glass she was staring at was full of blood, was a good indication as to why.
She trembled, worrying her lip with her sharp canines, lifting the glass. Her shaking caused the blood to slosh about, leaving red streaks behind…
Seras Victoria quickly put the glass down on the table, privately thankful for the distraction. Said distraction was in the form of a young man, also blonde, wearing a red coat that flew out behind him as he ran toward her. He skidded to a stop beside her table, out of breath.
"Seras, you gotta come quick," he said, trying to breathe properly.
"What's wrong, Ed?" Seras asked, worried.
Edward Elric stood up straight to a height that was not the least bit impressive, pointing back the way he came.
"Some kid just dived bombed right though the roof and floor of the synthesis shop," he explained. "Nearly gave Cid a heart attack when he landed on his bench."
Seras blinked. "A kid… from another world?"
Ed nodded. "I think so; I just saw a star go out not all that long ago," he said. "Anyway, you should come. Cid's pretty livi—" He cut himself off, finally spotting the glass she had attempted to drink from. "Oh, I'm sorry; were you going to get drunk?"
Seras gave him a blank look, before following his gaze down to the glass. "Oh!" she exclaimed, grabbing the glass and flicking the contents toward a nearby plant. "It's not important."
Edward blinked as she got up, but did not protest as she started toward the Accessory Shop. When they arrived at the shop, it was just in time to see the burly shopkeeper finish sweeping up wood splinters, grumbling in irritation. Cid grunted at them when he saw them, moving aside enough for them to see a boy with white hair resting on the remaining intact bench, an arm draped over his stomach.
"Aww…!" Seras squealed softly, standing over him. "He's so cute!"
Suddenly, an eye cracked open as the boy's face screwed up in an irritated look.
"Who you calling cute, lady?"
"EEK!" Seras exclaimed, jumping back.
Bakura winced, muttering a curse under his breath at her scream, putting a hand to his throbbing head as he attempted to sit up. Ed reached over; offering him a helping hand, though the tomb robber swore it felt more like he was pressing a rock against his back. He dismissed it as his imagination, looking around.
"Where am I?" he asked.
"My shop," Cid growled around a cigar he had crammed into his mouth, pointing up to the hole in his ceiling. Bakura looked up at it, blinking, perplexed.
"Well… that explains the headache."
Ed snorted in amusement as the door to the shop opened. Cid turned to give a greeting, though he stopped midway through.
"Hnh; you don't look like a customer."
Bakura felt his blood run cold when he heard the person respond…
"No, I'm sorry. I'm looking for my friends," came the familiar voice.
Bakura stood up quickly, wobbling slightly (though Seras and Ed grabbed him to help him stay up), eyes widening as he looked upon the spiky haired kid with really big shoes.
"Sora?" he asked.
The boy turned to him, blue eyes widening. "You… you're a real person! I… I thought it was just a dream!"
"Likewise, kiddo," Bakura replied, as Ed looked between the two of them.
"Are you two from the same world?" he asked.
"No," they replied at the same time, drawing strange looks from the others.
"I don't know how I know, but I know we're not from the same world," Sora continued.
"Yeah… ooohhh…" Bakura muttered, falling back, Ed and Seras just barely catching him in time. Sora ran up to him, a worried look on his face. Oddly enough, though, the tomb robber did not feel so… repulsed by his concern, not like he was from any other person. Maybe it was just because his head felt like it was going to crack open.
"Are you okay?" Sora asked. Bakura just pointed up to the hole, and the boy sweatdropped when he saw it. "Ouch…"
"You should take it easy," Seras said, resting him back on the bench.
"Don't tell me what to do," Bakura grumbled, though he did not exactly make an effort to get back up again. Sora stood over him, a bit of an uncertain look on his face.
"I'm going to go look for my friends," he said. "Is there anyone you want me to look for?"
"Yeah, kid. A kid that looks like me, goes by the name of Ryou," the tomb robber answered. Sora nodded… but Bakura found himself continuing. "And… a spiky haired guy. Hair three different colors; really hard to miss. Name is Atemu."
"Got it," Sora replied confidently.
Bakura closed his eyes as Ed said he would help Sora look, though the tomb robber did not really care if they searched or not. He had a feeling in his gut that they were not going to find Atemu and Ryou, nor was Sora going to find any of his friends. Not only that, but as he started to drift off, he wondered why he cared enough about the pharaoh to mention him…
-.oO Traverse Town Oo.-
For a moment, he thought he was having another weird dream… and then Bakura found himself on the beach, staring out on the ocean. Was… everything he had just seen a dream? About the two blondes and the old man, and seeing Sora again; it would have made sense if it were all a dream, considering the boy's presence. An amused noise came from beside him, causing him to turn…
"You only wish things were that simple, tomb robber," Atemu replied idly, playing with a small white crystal, letting it roll about his fingers with practiced ease. Bakura raised an eyebrow.
"So… everything… that giant creature, and the people in that place…?" he began.
Atemu nodded solemnly. "Our world was destroyed. That, sadly, was not a dream."
"You're crazy," Bakura replied. "What the hell could destroy a whole world?"
The pharaoh gave him a rueful look. "You were the one possessed by a god of evil, and you're asking me that?"
Bakura gave him a bland look. "You think I liked being possessed by a god with a dragon dick?" he asked, watching the crystal roll back and forth, eyebrow twitching, before he finally snapped. "Would you pay attention?!" he exclaimed, reaching over to snatch the crystal.
No sooner did his fingers touch it, did the crystal suddenly blacken, and tendrils of darkness started to wrap around Bakura's fingers. He dropped it in surprise, and it rested on the sand between them, a dark storm swirling within. Atemu calmly reached down and picked it up after a pause, and the crystal immediately returned to its original color, glowing faintly. The pharaoh turned a sad gaze to him, concern in his eyes.
"Bakura… you need to control the darkness in your heart," he said softly. "Your heart is most precious, but if you continue the way you are now, the Heartless will consume you…"
What sounded like a miniature war going off in the small shop finally woke the tomb robber from his more or less peaceful sleep. He rubbed his eyes, sitting up carefully, grateful that his brain was not trying to swim out of his skull again…
"Take that 'ya damn Shadows!"
The shout and the resulting boom drew a yelp and a startled jump from Bakura, making him fall of the bench and onto a heap on the floor. He swore under his breath, looking up to see Cid standing at the door, a miniature cannon in his hands aimed at the outside. His mouth was open, about to ask what was going on… when a shadow suddenly slipped into the room, roving about the ceiling until it was just over Cid's head, before looming down…
Cid felt a presence behind him, and turned just in time to see a large pair of yellow eyes… that suddenly vanished with the swoosh of a blade that nearly gave his already short hair a trim.
"'EY!" he shouted as Bakura slung to keyblade over his shoulder. "Watch where you're swinging that thing!"
"You're complaining, gramps?" he asked dully, a smirk coming to his face as steam started coming out of the older man's ears.
"That's Cid, you little…!" he growled as Bakura walked past him, out onto the street. "Hey, where you think you're going?"
"Gotta find Sora," Bakura replied, not really sure why he needed to find the kid… "Those shadow things are a nuisance; he'll need help."
Cid grumbled under his breath, rubbing his nose. "Feh… you probably wouldn't last two seconds under a swarm of Heartless."
Bakura stopped cold, whirling about to face him. "What did you call them?"
"Your heart is most precious, but if you continue the way you are now, the Heartless will consume you…"
Bakura blinked, holding his head. The pharaoh in his dream… how had he known the name of those things…? It was just a stupid dream… or was it? He let out a soft moan, stumbling back against the door frame; his head hurt still from falling through the roof, and from trying to process everything that was going on.
"Kid, you sure you're all right?" Cid asked, looking like he was about to drag him back inside.
Was he ever all right? Bakura did not know, but somehow he managed to straighten himself out.
"I'll live," he replied, braver than he felt. "Where did Sora go?"
"Toward the Second District. The entrance is behind the shop," he said, continuing quickly as Bakura went to leave. "Careful kid, there's lots of Heartless swarming around. Take this."
He tossed a small satchel toward the thief, which he caught and opened to reveal some small vials full of greenish liquid.
"What are these?" he asked.
"Potions," Cid replied. "Guzzle one down if you ever get hurt; it'll heal you right up."
Bakura smirked, attaching the sack to his belt. "Thanks, gramps!" he called as he ran off.
Bakura sniggered softly, running around to the back of the shop and up a flight of stairs, only to find himself standing near a set of large doors. The thief took a step near them, when the shadows at the front of the doors started to swirl. He backed up in surprise as the small shadowy creatures that had been in his dream and at his world appeared.
The tomb robber backed up further, gritting his teeth, as the creatures came closer to him, staring at him and the Keyblade almost hungrily. Bakura grit his teeth, clutching the weapon, before giving it a swing, making some of them back off.
"Outta my way!" he shouted, lashing out with the weapon again, oddly finding it easier to defeat these shadowy creatures than it had been on that island resort. Maybe the ones here were just lazy; after all, he had not seen many people who even looked like they could take the things on…
It was like a miniature explosion went off above his head. One minute, he was fighting the creatures, the next minute there was a bang like a shotgun, and the minute after that he was sprawled out on the ground with his hair slightly singed from the blast. Grumbling, he reached a hand around to the back of his head, patting his hair in an effort to keep it from actually catching on fire, while using the other hand to push himself up and see who it was that had nearly killed him in order to disperse the Shadows.
His first thought was that the person had to be related to the pharaoh. Leather and belts predominated the man's outfit; the only part of it that was cotton being the white undershirt he wore under his half-length leather jacket. While his hair was only one color, brown, it was long and worn down, though Bakura assumed one good gust of wind and it would be standing on end. An impressive scar cut across his face, starting from his forehead just above his right eye and coming down in a slant to end near the bottom of his left eye. Those eyes where a frightening storm gray, and made the tomb robber gulp in spite of himself as he scrambled to his feet. Those were eyes that had seen too much, and felt too much.
He knew those kind of eyes well…
"Another Keyblade," the man said suddenly, his voice grave. "This complicates things…"
Bakura blinked. "What do you mean, 'another'?"
The man opened his mouth to answer, but a frantic shouting from the overhang above cut him off.
"Squall! Squall, Squall, Squall, Squuuuaaaaaaaallllll!"
The tomb robber did not know how it happened. One minute, he was turning around to see who was causing so much ruckus, the next minute, he was on the ground, staring up at someone's crotch as they were sitting on his face.
The man's voice sounded exasperated as the sound of pounding feet reached his ears.
"Yuffie, how many times do I have to tell you? It's Leon."
A strangled scream of surprise came as the pounding feet skidded to a stop.
"Yuffie! Why are you sitting on Bakura's face?!" came the voice of the blonde boy from the shop.
The rear end was removed, leaving Bakura staring up at the night air, dazed, with a small trickle of blood escaping from his nose. He was having one hell of a day… first he has a weird dream, then he was attacked by a bunch of weird creatures, then his world was destroyed, which deposited him on another world, and now to top it all off, someone who was barely wearing anything had decided to plop down on his face.
Ra almighty, what had he done to deserve this?!
He glared at the girl that had dropped in on him as the boy helped him up. She was short and very young – she could not be much older than Ryou was – with short dark hair and brown eyes as big as the grin on her face. She wore a green tube top held on by belt straps and very short shorts, with sneakers and leggings and mesh and leather gloves. Bakura gave her a dull look, pointing to her outfit.
"Are you old enough to wear that?"
She pouted. "A great ninja doesn't need to be 'old enough' to wear something like this!"
Bakura sweatdropped. Great ninja… right…
"What do you want, Yuffie?" Leon asked harshly before the tomb robber could get a word in edgewise.
"Um… oh, right," she began, having to had to think about it a moment. "That little Keyblade guy… um… Sora? He's in really big trouble! He's surrounded by a ton of Heartless, and he doesn't have a way out."
Genuine concern flashed across Leon's face, before his stony, uncaring expression returned. He started to head for the large doors before them, only to stop when Yuffie shouted after him.
"No, Leon! He's all the way in the Third District! We'll never be able to make it to him if we go the long way!"
"Then what do you –"
"We'll just have to go the short way!"
Everyone turned to Bakura in surprise as he walked the overhang that Yuffie had fallen from. He paused a moment, looking down at the Keyblade. After a moment, he opened his hand, letting go of the weapon. The key disappeared almost instantly, as if going back into his very soul…
Bakura shook off the chill that thought had caused, before reaching up and grabbing hold of the overhang. With a good heave and a grunt of effort, he vaulted up onto the roof the overhang was attached to, landing easily in a couch. He turned around on his heels, looking down at the others below.
"Hey, stripper girl, short stuff!" he called down, a sadistic grin on his face. "Get up here already!"
"Who are you calling a grain of salt?!" the boy shouted up at him. "It's Ed! Edward Elric!"
Bakura's grinned widened, getting a really good look at Ed as Leon gave him a leg up. His teasing was well founded; Edward was short. He could not have been any taller than Yuugi for that matter, and that particular runt was only five foot. However, where Yuffie was wearing hardly anything, Ed was very modestly dressed. He wore at black shirt (it seemed to be long sleeved) and pants trimmed with white, and the shirt was cut in such a manner that the tomb robber could see another black shirt underneath. Over all that, Ed wore a long red, hooded overcoat, which had an odd circular and dagger-like pattern on the back. He also had white gloves on his hands, and looking at the way his entire body was covered up like that, coupled with the fact that he remembered feeling something like a rock at his back when the boy supported him back in Cid's shop, Bakura could not help but wonder if he had something to hide…
Once they were all up, Ed motioned down for Leon and Yuffie to join them. The scarred man just shook his head, however.
"We're going to go warn the others, and defend the rest of the town from this outbreak" he said, before nodding to Bakura. "You have a Keyblade, and while I don't know how you have it as well, you seem to be more suited to it than Sora. Use it well."
Bakura watched him leave, a frown on his face. "What the hell was that about?"
Ed chuckled softly. "That's just Leon's way. He was a leader on his world before it was destroyed by the Heartless, so… 'ya know…"
Bakura did not know, nor did he want to know either. The two of them set off along the rooftops as fast as they could, Edward leading the way. He was surprisingly fast, considering his slightly awkward walk (he seemed to lean a bit heavily on one leg), though the tomb robber had little difficulty keeping up with him.
"So, these Heartless things," Bakura began, jumping over onto another roof, "why do they appear?"
"No one knows for sure," Ed answered from behind him. "They're attracted to the darkness in people's hearts. The more dark, the better I suppose. The little black ones seem to be the basic units. They're usually all over the place. They get bigger though, and they're not always black."
"Then how can you tell it's a Heartless?" the tomb robber asked.
"Well, when it attacks you…"
He tossed the boy's back a glare.
"All Heartless except the small Shadow Heartless have a symbol somewhere on them," Ed continued, grinning. "It sort of looks like a broken heart. You'll know it when you see it, trust me."
Bakura was about to reply, when the sound of fighting under them reached his ears. He raced ahead to the next rooftop, and looked down to a small courtyard far below. There was Sora, fighting as hard as he could, using a Keyblade that looked nearly identical to his. Along side him was the girl from the shop, as well as a duck dressed in blue, casting rapid fire spells, and a… a… was that supposed to be a dog or something? Whoever or whatever they were, they were surrounded by dozens of what could only be different kinds of Heartless. There were many of the small black ones that the tomb robber had become more than familiar with, as well as taller ones that had helmets protecting their faces, and still more with wings that kept dive-bombing the small group of fighters.
Bakura swore softly. "It's too far to jump."
"I've got it!"
The tomb robber turned in time to see Ed slap his hands together, before leaning down to slam them onto the roof. A bright light and sparkle of energy erupted from where he touched, and before Bakura knew what was happening, a steep flight of steps had formed down the side of the building. He stared in shock as Ed raced forward, taking the steps down two at a time as if they were normal stairs. What on earth…?
He shook his head, deciding now was not the time to be shocked as he started down the stairs after the pint-sized boy. Reaching out a hand, he willed for the Keyblade to return. It appeared immediately, sending comforting warmth through him that seemed to chase away his dark thoughts. The fact that it could do something like that unnerved him a bit, but just as well; he was going to need to keep his head clear if he was going to be fighting this many Heartless.
Bakura reached the ground just after Ed, and the boy moved out of his way immediately, allowing the tomb robber to charge forward to the throng of Heartless. He did so, with Ed falling in step behind him soon after, clutching a spear he seemed to have summoned from the ground. Together, the two of them wadded through the sea of dark creatures, cutting down as many of them as they could in their effort to get to the trapped fighters.
The tomb robber swept his Keyblade up, taking out one of the winged Heartless as they finally broke through the crowd. He raced up to Sora, only to be forced to stand back-to-back with him as the Heartless suddenly surged forward. Bakura fought the Heartless on one side, while the younger boy behind him fought on the other side.
"I'm glad you came when you did!" Sora shouted, knocking down one of the taller creatures.
"No problem, kid," Bakura replied, smacking a small shadow into one of the winged Heartless.
Bakura looked up just in time to see one of the flying Heartless diving straight for him. He raised his Keyblade in defense, only to find that he did not need to. Edward's spear had impaled it, and he brought it down against the ground hard, before swinging the weapon in a wide arc, forcing the other creatures to back away before letting the Heartless go flying off the tip of the spear. Ed leveled his weapon at them, as if daring them to try and attack again. The Heartless creatures backed up, before fading away into the darkness.
The blonde sighed in relief, letting the massive gun she was carrying clatter to the ground first before flopping over herself. "That was close!"
"You all right, Seras?" Ed asked, offering a hand up, but she just waved it off, taking a moment to catch her breath.
Bakura sighed softly, wiping the sweat off his brow. He was out of shape; he was not used to fighting that many things at once. Then again, three thousand years trapped in a Ring will do that to a person…
"We should get out of here before those things return," he offered, motioning toward the impromptu stairs they had used to get off the roof.
"No one's going anywhere!" the duck exclaimed, his speech impeded by the fact he was talking through a beak. He glared at Bakura, and he instantly decided that he did not like this duck. "How can you have a 'Key' too?!"
"Ahyuk! Yeah…" the dog… thing, said. "I thought there were only sur'posta be one Key?"
Bakura growled. "Hey, I didn't ask for it!" he snapped. "It just appeared! Now can we discuss this somewhere else before –"
The tomb robber was cut off as the ground began to tremble. High walls suddenly sprouted from the earth, cutting them off from all of the exits. Seras jumped back to her feet in surprise, as Bakura turned a scathing glare down to the duck.
The duck just grumbled incoherently.
A massive swirl of darkness appeared before them then, and everyone wearily readied their weapons. A metallic boot clanged out of the darkness, followed by another, and then a pair of claw-like hands grabbed a hold of the edge of the darkness, as if grabbing onto the very fabric of reality. A helmet appeared, glaring down at all six of them, before the monster pulled out its armored torso, completing the gargantuan monster.
"Not again," Bakura and Sora muttered at the same time.
The new Heartless creature swung a clawed hand down at the two Keyblade holders, and the dog instantly raced in front of them, holding up a huge shield. The claw slammed against the shield with enough force to make the dog stagger, but he did not fall over. It backed off, fighting to regain its balance after being blocked so unexpectedly like that, and it gave Bakura a chance to observe its movements. Its arms and legs, while not connected to its body, seemed to be the only thing that held up the torso. If they got rid of the legs… then maybe…
Bakura darted past the dog before the creature could recover its balance, swiping his Keyblade at one of the legs. Instead of ripping against metal, however, the blade sunk in deep, as if it were cutting through flesh. Seeing what he was trying to do, the others quickly joined him, and soon all six of them were attacking the legs, three to each leg. The one the tomb robber, Ed, and Seras had taken went first, the three of them backing off as it exploded thanks to one last thrust of the boy's spear. The other leg followed soon after, and Sora, the duck, and the dog raced out of the way as the torso came crashing down to the ground, all three of them looking a little worse for wear.
Bakura reached into one of the satchel Cid had given him, tossing three of the potions over to them. Before they reached them though, the vials broke… sprinkling the green liquid all over them. It seemed to have the same effect, because the three of them stood up a bit straighter, tossing the tomb robber thankful glances.
"Bakura!" Sora shouted from across the way. "We'll distract the hands! You three take care of the middle!"
Sora kept true to his word. He drew one hand's attention away, while the dog and the duck distracted the other one, leaving the torso and head completely defenseless. Ed charged forward, his spear into the torso as Seras hung back, showering it with a hail of bullets. Bakura leapt up high above them, going toward the head. Throwing all his weight behind the Keyblade, he swung down in a ferocious arc, easily cutting through the helmet as if it were made of butter.
The head exploded instantly, sending him flying through the air, only to land on the ground with a painful thud. Wincing, Bakura pushed himself up in time to see the hands fall to the ground with a clang, with the torso joining them soon after. A heart emerged from the armored torso, floating gently up into the air before disappearing in a flurry of sparkles, the remains of the monster vanishing along with it.
Bakura blew out a relieved sigh, but he knew things were not over yet. Just what had he gotten himself into…?
They had all gathered together at the bar in the First District, though Bakura would have hardly called it a bar; he did not know of any kind of bar that only served juice. He sat with his legs propped up on a table, listening to what everyone had to say about the current situation. Apparently, the duck (Donald) and the dog (Goofy… which fit) worked for some king or other that had gone missing, leaving them only a note that told them to find a person who held a "Key". When they found Sora, they thought they had their man, but then Bakura showed up.
"So, what's the big deal?" the tomb robber asked with a casual wave of his hand. "Take the kid to find your king. All I want to do is find Ryou and the pharaoh and go to a place far away from these Heartless things."
"That is the big deal," Leon said, narrowing his eyes at him. "No matter where you run to, the Heartless will always be after you because of the Keyblade."
Bakura glared. "Hey, I didn't ask for this thing to appear!"
"You didn't have to," Leon replied, his voice cold. "It chose you as its master, just as it chose Sora."
"But why?" Sora asked, leaning forward in his seat. "What's so special about us?"
"I don't know –"
"There's a shock…" Bakura interrupted, rolling his eyes.
"—but I do know that wherever you go, the Heartless will be drawn to you because of the Keyblade," Leon continued, outright glaring at the tomb robber now. "The Keyblade is the only thing that can destroy them. They fear it, but they want its power at the same time."
"We've got ter find th' king," Goofy said, "but we should try 'ta save th' worlds that are in trouble because 'a the Heartless too. We should split up."
Ed jumped up from his seat, excited at the thought. "You guys could go with Sora, and me and Seras could go with Bakura!"
Bakura gave him a critical look. "No way, shrimp."
A vein popped on Ed's forehead, but the tomb robber cut him off before he could start yelling. "I don't travel with anyone, especially children."
"What?!" Ed roared. Donald, Goofy, and Sora had to grab onto him in order to prevent him from pounding Bakura into the ground. The tomb robber just sat there watching him struggle, an amused look on his face.
"You're barely older than the rest of us!" Ed shouted, kicking and struggling. "How can you call us kids!?"
Bakura snorted. "I'm a lot older than I look."
Ed was about to come back at him again, when a soft voice cut him off.
"How does someone like you end up with a Keyblade?"
Everyone turned to Seras, who was sitting in a chair near Bakura. She had been quiet through out the whole meeting, and now she was giving the tomb robber a measuring glance, as if she were trying to determine what exactly he was.
"What do you mean, someone like me?" he demanded.
"You're not… normal," she said, her face suddenly looking determined. "You are human, but you seem so much older than any human has a right to be, you're too proud, you move too fast, and… you smell weird. Like the desert, and… something else. I don't know what."
Everyone's stares turned back to the tomb robber, especially as he started chuckling softly. He stood up, smirking down at her.
"You don't have much room to talk yourself about not being normal," he replied after a long pause, before he shrugged casually. "You're right. I am much older than any of you; about three thousand years older."
He looked from Ed (who's eyes looked like they were going to fall out of his head), to Seras again, Goofy, Donald, Sora, and lastly Leon. He narrowed his eyes, not liking his decision, but what else was he going to do? Ryou nor Atemu were obviously not on this world, so they had to be somewhere else, and – though he may not like it – he was not going to be able to handle things on his own.
"I'll go with you to these other worlds," Bakura said to Ed and Seras. "I'll help you save them. But keep in mind, once I find the people I'm looking for, you're on your own. I'm not a hero by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I make a practice of saving people; and I'll be more than happy to deal with you if you piss me off…
"Never forget that."
Darkness was a haven for those with shadowed hearts, and the conference room they sat at was no exception. "They" were five of the most unlikely humans and creatures to ever be in one room without trying to kill each other. They tolerated one another, however, for they each had one very simple, yet time and patience consuming, purpose.
To take the Hearts of those who would do good in the worlds.
The five of them watched the scene in the bar at Traverse Town, a magical seal projecting the images of the Keyblade holders and their companions. The two groups shook hands with one another in a sickening display, one group of three wishing the other three luck.
"Those little squirts took down the Heartless," said a man with – literally – flaming blue hair. "Who'd have thought it?"
"Such is the power of the Keyblade," commented another man, who was holding a snake-headed staff in his thin, bony hands. "The boys' powers are not their own."
"So why don't we turn them into Heartless?" a woman asked… at least, the top half of her was that of a woman. The bottom half was nothing more than an octopus' tentacles. "That'll settle things quickly enough."
Yet another man groaned at the sight of Goofy and Donald. "And the little brat's friends are the king's lackeys. Swoggle me eyes, they're all bilge rats by the look of them!"
Another creature that seemed to be no more than an oversized pillowcase just laughed at him. "You're no prize yourself."
The man that had spoken before shook the hook that had replaced one of his hands threatening. "Shut up!"
A sixth joined them just as a fight was about to break out between the hooked man and the pillowcase, making all of them stop what they were doing. This sixth person stepped into what little light there was in the room, not that it made much of a difference. She was covered in midnight black robes that seemed to absorb any and all light from the room. A simple, emerald topped staff was clutched in her thin hands, on top of which a raven was preening itself. She looked at each of the other five in turn, her cold yellow eyes powerful enough to give them pause.
"The Keyblade has chosen them," she stated simply. "Will it be they who conquer the darkness? Or will the darkness swallow them? Either way, they could be… quite useful…"
Darkness was a haven for those with shadowed hearts… and there was a shadow in every heart. Perhaps it was the fact that he had other shadows that haunted his heart that made him end up in a place like this. Or maybe it was because he had harbored such horrible shadows for so long. Either way, brown eyes were looking out upon a realm of shadows, where next to no light was shining, and only a few floating circles of land seemed to exist…
"Where…" Ryou began, "am I…?"
-.oO End Part One Oo.-