"Sora!" Kairi rushed into his arms as her weary friends came out of Kingdom Hearts. The giant doors then swung shut, and vanished into the evening sky.
It appeared that the world had stabilized; the storm clouds were gone and the seas had grown calm. Donald and Goofy ran to embrace their beloved king, and excited talking and laughter followed. Kalista's half-healed shoulder still throbbed, but her heart was filled with such happiness that she didn't even care. Could it really be all over? Shyly, she let her hand slip into Riku's for just a moment. He looked back at her and gave a small smile. But he seemed distant; like something was bothering him.
"Gosh, you all did great!" praised Mickey. "Now it's finally time to go back home."
Home? thought Kalista. The wonderful feelings inside her faltered. What home? Her home was never in the same place twice. So, is this the part where everyone leaves and goes back to where they were before all of this? Did that mean… this had to be goodbye?
But suddenly Sora ran up to her and punched her good shoulder. "Why the long face? Didn't think you're getting rid of us that easily, did you? You're coming back with us!"
"Wh…huh?" stammered Kalista, rubbing her now-bruised shoulder, "back with you?"
"Of course, to Destiny Islands! You'll totally love it there, and I know everyone will love you. And don't try to argue, because it won't work."
Sora grinned at her so wide that she couldn't help breaking out into a smile herself. A real home? The idea would take some getting used to, but how could she run from something as wonderful as this?
Sora then turned to Riku. "You're coming back with us, right?" he asked with far less certainty than before. Kalista looked at him, too, but he was looking at the floor beneath him.
"I… I don't know. I had given in to the darkness."
"Riku!" Sora threw his hands up in the air in frustration at his friend's gloomy point of view.
"How will I be able to face everyone?" Riku shot back.
"Like this!" Sora squished his face together and stuck out his tough. Kalista hid a smile behind her hand, but Riku laughed out loud.
Suddenly the ground beneath them started to shake.
"We have to get out of here," cautioned King Mickey, "this world was a creation sustained by Ansem, and then held together by Xemnas. With both of them gone, it will soon disappear."
"I'll open a path," said Riku, and stretched out his hand… only nothing happened. Confused, he examined his hands, trying to figure out what was wrong.
But Mickey had the answer, "You're not a part of the dark realm anymore, Riku."
No sooner had the king spoken than a swirling portal formed right near him.
"Who did that?" asked Donald.
"I'm not sure," said Mickey as he gazed at the portal, "but we'd better hurry and get through."
"Well, what are we waitin' for? I'll go first," said Goofy, who then proceeded to walk through the portal. Donald and Mickey followed close behind. Suddenly a girl in a white dress and blonde hair appeared in front of the portal. Kalista had never seen her before, but Kairi apparently had.
"Thank you, Naminé."
The girl smiled, "Sure thing." Then she turned to Sora, "See? We meet again, like we promised."
"Huh?" asked Sora, unsure of what she was talking about. But as Kalista watched in awe, a translucent boy with blonde hair walked right out of Sora's body and up to Naminé.
"You said we'd meet again," he continued, "but when we did, we might not recognize each other.
The girl gave a sparkling laugh "I did, didn't I?"
"But I knew you," the boy said softly.
"I always though Nobodies were doomed to fade back into darkness..."
"Yeah, but you and I didn't. We got to meet our original selves."
Naminé broke into a wide grin, "So, we can be together again!"
The boy returned her smile and nodded. "Right. Now that Sora and Kairi are together, so are we."
And as quickly as they had appeared, the angelic couple flew back into Sora and Kairi.
After a moment of standing there dumbfounded, Sora checked himself.
"Don't worry," assured Riku, "it's all still you."
Kalista just shook her head at the whole ordeal that had just taken place. "You're explaining all this to me later, right?"
Riku gave her a half-smile, "Sure."
"Ok, now let's go home," said Kairi, eagerly grabbing Kalista's hand. The two of them walked into the portal as the boys followed.
But then, Kalista felt the portal magic dissipating rapidly. Something had cut the spell short! Realizing in alarm that Sora and Riku were not in the portal, she spun around.
"Riku! Sora! The portal…!"
But it was too late. Kalista felt herself flung in the other direction as the entranceway of the portal snapped shut, separating the four of them permanently.
"Kairi! Hold on to me and don't let go!" she yelled as the two of them went spiraling towards an unknown location.
Colors swirled around them in vibrant arrays, but they were moving so fast everything became blurred together. This was no normal teleportation; the magic alteration had affected the portal's transportation ability as well.
But finally, the colors disappeared and Kalista felt Kairi and herself thrown out the other end of the portal. A strange surface greeted them as they skidded across the ground. Kalista felt the wind get knocked out of her, and she laid there for several minutes, panting and trying to figure out where they could be.
Everything was dark. Not pitch black, but dark enough that she couldn't recognize anything. Rising out of the ground she saw looming dark objects, like maybe strangely shaped buildings. The ground beneath her was hard but soft at the same time. There was a strange sound coming from her left; a constant, beating sound. Eventually, she was able to push herself up onto her feet, although standing was difficult.
"Kairi, where are we?" Kalista asked, feeling disoriented and hoping her companion might know more than she did.
"I… I'm not sure," came the answer. She could see Kairi's outline and gradually the features of her face.
"Kalista? Kairi? Is that you guys?"
"Donald!?" asked Kalista, identifying the unmistakable voice. She saw his short silhouette waddling towards her, and two more figures behind him.
"Goofy? King Mickey?" whispered Kairi.
"What the heck is going on here?" Kalista dropped to one knee to avoid falling over. Touching the ground, she picked up some of the earth, only to realize it was actually black sand. "Where are we?"
"Your guess is as good as mine," answered Mickey, "where are Sora and Riku?"
"They… they got left behind." Kalista felt the unaccustomed tears fill her eyes again. What had happened to them? Did they make it out of Twilight Town alive? Where was Riku?!
"Kalista! Behind you!"
She turned around just in time to see a pair of yellow eyes charging at her. Out of reflex she knocked it away with her hand, but the heartless latched onto her arm with its razor sharp teeth. Muffling a scream, Kalista drew one of her sais and stuck the creature of darkness, causing it to vanish.
"There's more!" yelled Donald.
He was right. Although their bodies were hard to see, Kalista saw dozens of yellow eyes surrounding them.
"This must mean Xemnas isn't dead!" Mickey concluded, drawing his own keyblade, "he must have been the one who severed the portal and trapped Sora and Riku. I bet they're fighting him right now."
"Alone!" cried Kairi in dismay. Kalista felt a lump form in her throat. How would the two of them be able to beat such a powerful Nobody by themselves?
"It can't be helped," Mickey said, "it's the final battle. And this is our part. Everybody get in a defensive formation!"
But Kalista was not feeling to hopeful about this "final battle". She was completely out of magic from the fight with Ansem, and her wounded shoulder made her a less than formidable opponent. Still, she had no choice. It was fight… or die.
"Now!" Mickey yelled.
Kalista lunged at the nearest cluster of yellow eyes. Donald, thankfully, still had magic on his side, and he shot out a storm of lighting which cut through countless heartless. The lighting also allowed Kalista to see her enemies more clearly, and she slashed through them two by two.
But no sooner were the dozens of heartless gone than countless more appeared. Donald shot a blanket of fire up in the sky, letting everyone see their enemies. He and Donald started using combination attacks, and Kairi and Mickey worked together as well.
Kalista hacked through heartless after heartless, but no matter how many she killed, five more appeared in their place. She knew she was running out of energy, and she struggled to thrust one sai after the other.
Then she felt a heartless jump on her back and knock her to the ground. She felt more of them surrounding her and closing in. The one on her back sank its teeth into her damaged shoulder. Kalista screamed out in agony.
Was this is? After all this: watching Shaymar die, carrying and then beating the curse, befriending Sora, fighting the leaders of darkness alongside him… meeting Riku… was it really all going to end like this? Was it all for nothing?
Everything went white!
Kalista, blinded by the harsh brightness raining down on her, clamped her eyes shut. In her ear she heard the heartless on top of her screeching in pain. Opening her eyes slightly, she saw it dissipate into thin air. Then she heard more screeching, louder this time. Forcing herself to sit up, she realized that a giant beam of light had shot down from the sky onto the tiny band of fighters, and it was destroying the heartless! Every single one withered away under the brilliant radiance. She felt her shoulder tingling and then miraculously heal. Her weariness was gone and her body filled with new energy.
Then, even more incredible, the light began widening. Stretching across the darkness, it ran swifter and swifter until it flew across everything in sight. Kalista realized the ground beneath her was sand, but now it was a sparkling gold. The dark buildings became massive clusters of trees, and the strange sound turned out to be the waves of a vast, beautiful ocean. The sky was a perfect blue, spotted with pearl-colored clouds.
"I can't believe it!"
"What? Where are we?!" Kalista asked in wonder, staring at Kairi.
"It's Destiny Islands. We're home!"
"Look there!" Goofy shouted, pointing at the sky.
It looked like two azure stars were falling from the heavens. Streaking across the sky, they crashed into the sea where the sun was coming up over the horizon. Then the unthinkable happened. Two human heads came back out of the water where the stars had fallen; one brown and the other a silver-blue.
"It can't be!" Kalista breathed, not believing her eyes.
"Sora! Riku!" yelled Kairi at the top of her lungs, waving frantically in unspeakable excitement.
Donald, Goofy, Mickey, and Kairi ran to the shore as the boys swam to meet them. Kalista struggled to her feet on the unsteady sand, and just stood there for a moment. Feeling water on her face, she touched her check to find the infamous tears that had finally succeeded in breaching the gates of her eyes. Only these were not tears of sorrow, but of joy. A joy beyond anything she had ever felt before. Kalista laughed through her tears, and then sprinted across the sand.
Riku had just reached the shore when she got to him. She was running so fast she couldn't even stop herself from colliding into him, knocking them both into the water. Laughing, he sat up and locked his arms around her waist, burying his face in her neck. Then, after a moment, he brought one of his hands to her face and stared into her eyes.
"We're back," he said breathlessly.
"We're home," she corrected, pressing her lips against his. She was home, and it was everything she had every dreamed it could be.
Breaking the kiss, the two of them looked over.
"Ok," began Sora, "I know you two have a bad habit of not telling me stuff, but this is just ridiculous…"