Authors notes:

This fanfic will be LONG. Just warning ya.

Kingdom Hearts references belong to Disney and Square Enix

Final Fantasy references belong to Square Enix

Legend of Dragoon references belong to Sony Computer Entertainment America

Wow, my first fan fiction appearance, what can I say?

Naxthan: Just skip to Twilight Town so I can fight-

-Naxthan bludgeoned with a masasume-

No spoilers. Anyway, that's three chapters and several important plot points away.

Setting: One year from Kingdom Hearts 2.

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World 1 - Destiny Islands

Journey of the Heart

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Fates Irony

-----

The girl stared out at Destiny Island's pure waters, mesmerized by the rolling waves. Her red hair moved softly in the breeze, catching slightly in the black hood connected to her pink dress. Around her waist was a black belt, holding up a small pouch on her left, and a leather scabbard with a wooden sword sheathed inside on the right side.

The sand behind her gave a soft, shifting crunch. She spun around to find a figure racing towards her, a keyblade in his hand. She quickly pulled the wooden sword out of the scabbard and blocked at the same time the keyblade swung downward at her. The two weapons collided with a resounding crash. After trading ferocious blows with each other, the girl manages to see an opening in her assailant's defense and went for it. In the next second, her opponent's weapon careened into the waters nearby. She released a cheer of triumph- just to have a second assailant slipped past her, disarming and sending her flying to the ground in one fell swoop.

"Ow!"

Kairi gave a startled yell as she collapsed onto her back with a soft flump. She got onto her elbows and glared at the teenager who had cut in- literally- to her latest training session. "Riku!" she growled. "If you're going to help me, at least make sure I know you're against me?!?"

Riku smirked without turning around, assisting Sora to his feet. "You wren's paying attention to your surroundings. A true opponent would take advantage of any opening you leave him."

Muted, Kairi picked herself up off the ground and retrieved Sora's old toy sword. Sora looked at the wavy coastline, shrugged, and gestured, calling the keyblade to his hand.

"Showoff," Kairi muttered.

It had been about two weeks since Kairi had asked her two best friends to teach her in the ways of combat. She surprised Sora and Riku by asking, and had surprisedthemeven more by developing in leaps and bounds compared to her friends. Though she still had a few things to learn, she was really hoping on eventually being able to beat both of them at the same time. She was tired of being treated as a 'little sister' compared to the other two. That and a deep desire not to repeat her stay in the dungeon of the Castle that Never Was. The biggest reason, however, was she was tired of being left behind while they scooted all over the worlds Willy nilly.

"You want to give up for the day?" Sora queried.

Kairi was going to answer, but instead, with an impish smile, she swung the toy sword at Sora. He leapt back just in time to avoid the blow. "I'll take that as a no..."

Sora and Riku both got into stance. Kairiresponded by bending her knees slightly and splaying her legs. Holding the sword in both hands, she moved it parallel to her right leg, and waited for the attack. She didn't have to wait long.

Sora charged and did a downward swing, whichKairi blocked by bringing the blade in front if her. The two blades collided, and then separated. Kairi then countered with a spiral swing that drove Riku back. Suddenly, both Sora and Riku charged at the same time. Kairi backpedaled wildly, then, she tripped, but her hand did a complicated gesture.

Several crystal-clear orbs of water pummeled on Sora and Riku, who gave several explanations of surprise. In three strokes, Kairi disarmed her foes and had them sprawling on the beach.

"Checkmate!" They heard her call out.

"How- What did she?!?" Riku sputtered.

Sora couldn't answer. He was laughing too hard.

-----

"You're enjoying them being back, don't ya?" Selphie asked.

"Yeah, but, you know that something's gonna come up to make them go away again." Kairi replied.

"Look, it's been over a year, and nothing's happened yet. Nothing's gonna happen, Kairi." She looked up at the sunset. "It's getting late. I'm headed home."

"Ok, see you tomorrow!" Kairi called as Selphie headed for the boats at the dock. Kairi slid back onto her back and thought to herself.

She knew that something bad was gonna happen. She just knew. Ever since she had awakened that one time in Hollow Bastion, seeing Sora...

Well, anyway, she knew something bad was gonna happen then, and something bad has happened no matter what good thing had happened. All she had to do was wait for it, and weather the storm.

Something tapped against her foot. Moving into a sitting position, she looked at her shoes.

A bottle had bumped into her feet. She picked up the green colored vessel and peered into it. And that's when she saw the seal on the letter. The three circles, shaped like a mouse's head.

I knew it. I just knew it.

She got up onto her feet and then ran to the shack, up the stair, then out the door. And that's when she gave her death call.

"SORA! RIKU!"

------

Sinister Sundown

-----

The next day, as Riku and Sora moved swiftly down the street, they didn't see Kairi follow stealthily behind them, darting from building to building. Luckily, the housing and shops of Star Cove, the main housing area of the islands, was so much a organized mess that she could easily find cover. All during their walk, Sora and Riku talked, but due to her need not to be discovered, she didn't hear a word of their conversation.

When Sora and Riku headed for the jungle bordering the port town, Kairi held back a little. Suddenly, Sora turned and ran up another street. She sighed, realizing he wasn't going to scold her for following him. He had obviously forgotten something, like-

"You need to work on your choice of cover, that's for sure."

Kairi jumped. Sora had snuck up behind her- again.

"Not all of us can be the best fighters..." Kairi said sullenly.

"Aw, c'mon, don't put yourself down, your brilliant," Sora contradicted.

"If I was brilliant, you'd be taking me along." The trap had been sprung.

"As far as I know, we're just getting some info at the castle and helping an old friend off the gallows. That's it.

We'll be back as soon as we can." Sora smiled. "Promise."

"Oh, allright," she grumbled in mock resignation. Then, she diminished slightly. "Um, Sora?"

"Yeah?"

"Well, there's been, um, what I mean to say is, uh..." she fumbled verbally, but her mind pretty much said, "Oh, what the heck."

Quickly wrapping her arms around Sora's neck, she kissed him full on the lips. By the time he realized what was going on, she had disengaged and ran back into town.

Sora stood there thunderstrucked, too surprised to move.

-----

The town square of Star Cove was crowned by a large fountain depicting several ships and astrological symbols, with water pouring out of the mouths of several sea nymphs, the misty haze they caused drifting over the benches around the fountain.

It was on one of these benches that Kairi now lay, lost in thought, amazed at her boldness. Admittedly, she had fantasized about being alone with Sora, but she had figured that was adolescence finally catching up with her. But now, she didn't know what to think.

Kairi pulled her good luck charm out of her side pouch, holding it up to the sunlight. She made it out of tassala shells almost two years ago. After Sora had given it back to her, it hasn't left her ever since.

Then her thoughts turned to Sora and Riku, who would probably be off-world by now. Why can't I go on the adventure for once?!? She seethed to her active head.

Her musings were interrupted by a sudden movement to her right. She sat up- just to have herself knocked into the fountain with a large blow.

Sputtering, she parted the curtain of wet hair to find a whitish, humanoid creature standing where she had been laying nanoseconds before.

"A Dusk? Here?!?" Kairi asked in bewilderment. She had seen too many of them not to recognize it.

More Dusks appeared as she drew her wooden sword and got into her attack stance, until there was about six of them surrounding her. The first one suddenly shifted through the air at her. Kairi swung hard at it.

The two bladelike arms of the Dusk sliced horizontally across the front of her waist, cutting fabric and slicing skin. She winced, but remained upright.

That was a sure hit, I saw it! She thought.

A second Dusk started to flank her. She did a swift pirouette that slashed through it.

Literally. Kairi watched as the solid wood passed through solid monster without a scratch-

Except for the two long scratches up her back that now winced in agony.

When the third one charged headfirst, Kairi made a break for it, running towards the street. However, the third Dusk caught up and hit its mark, headbutting her with such force that she crumpled, the sword dropping from her hand.

She was unconscious before she hit the ground.

-----

The Dusks continued circling the unconscious girl, not quite sure what to do next. One swiveled as a lookout, while the other two engaged in chirping and calls.

The first one gave a growl and went to dive at Kairi again, but the second one cuffed it, growling a warning. The first one cuffed it back, and soon, the two Nobodies were squabbling at each other, completely forgetting their prey.

The other three just grumbled incoherently, obviously disapproving their conduct on a strange world, where witnesses could stumble in and try to stop them. However, none of them tried to stop them.

The lookout gave a quick cry, but suddenly it was entombed in a block of ice.

The other five looked for the source, and saw a figure in a black cloak with an iron battlestaff. The figure smirked, then casted wind magic to send them flying. Two were scooped up and contortedly flew over the rooftops, but the others looped back at the person in the cloak. Aiming her battlestaff at the beast, she blasted them with a severe electric shock.

The figure slowly approached Kairi, looked her over, and then started patching her up.

-----

Dive to the Heart

-----

Kairi felt herself float slowly downwards in a dark sea of shadow, utterly emotionless. She had no coherent thought, no desires, just… contentedness.

Slowly, however, she went from a headfirst dive to floating on her back.

Awaken

Kairi's eyes opened slowly as her feet touched something solid, taking her full weight again. She slowly looked at the platform under her in amazement.

The platform was at least 50 meters in diameter, and was made entirely of stained glass, showing an image of Sora standing in shallow water. Around Sora's head were images of Riku, Donald, Goofy, and Roxas' face. She slowly walked over the image, taking it all in.

A sudden grinding sound came from behind her. She spun around to find a pillar shifting out of the glass.

Above the pillar appeared a keyblade. Sora's keyblade, the Kingdom Key, to be exact.

Kairi did a complete turn and found two other pillars had appeared. One had a intricately black keyblade with a chain up its center length, but the secondary pillar seemed to be the real interest in Kairi's mind.

The main body of the blade was white, with a hilt that looked like angel wings. A heart symbol at the top of the hilt split the main body into two bars, until the bars met to make the key edge. One of the bars was connected to a different heart symbol before it met the other one. A blue and white five-pointed crest completed the blade. Hanging on a chain from the bottom of the hilt was her good luck charm.

Kairi walked closer to the floating weapon, staring at it in awe. Slowly, she reached a hand out and grasped the hilt.

Warmth flooded through her as soon as she grasped the blade. The pillar sank downwards and she heard the others do the same. She turned around and found a pathway of stained glass leading off the platform. She walked down it and found herself on another platform. This platform was more malevolent, because the image showed a girl around the age of sixteen with brown hair and wearing a blue dress and white apron, wielding a knife and a large grinning feline behind her. Kairi had no idea who that was, but she couldn't help feeling she had met the person before…

Her musings was interrupted by several white objects stabbing into the platform. Each white object soon unfolded into a creature Kairi had never seen before.

Each creature was about a meter and a half long, with six limbs, four on the bottom and two on the top, each ending in a large sickle. The head was triangular, with two long tusks. The body swept back into a long tail, which had a spike pattern that mimicked the Nobody symbol. When the body was entirely folded up, it was like a large stalactite, which could penetrate a surface, then unfold and start to fight…

Kairi barely had time to register the new threat when the first of the five bounded forward, its sickle-feet ticking on the glass. Kairi swung at the beast at the same time it leaped, sending it flying over the edge of the platform. The other four suddenly dashed at her, the upper limbs swiping threateningly at her. She hacked into one, and then stabbed into another one. Each disappeared into white mist. The other two leaped, and she slashed both of them in two.

She stared at the weapon in her hand. If she had this earlier…

A door rose out of the platform in front of her. Kairi walked over to it and pushed it open, stepping confidently into the bright light.

-----

Naught but Twilight

-----

As the light faded, Kairi found herself on a new platform- and her jaw dropped.

This new platform was as big as the others, but depicted herself- not as she was now, but in silver clothing and two keyblades were behind her. One was the one she was wielding, while the other was the black one that was on the other pillar on the first platform: black, with a chain in the middle of it's length and a hilt that looked like twin bat wings, whilst the keychain was a black crown shape. She felt an odd connection with the image.

A sudden, strange flapping sound started right behind her. She spun around and found four spiked blue ribbons of fabric were flying out of the platform. As the top part of the beast's head appeared, Kairi took a few steps back, then spun around and ran. Suddenly remembering the ledge, she pinwheeled her arms to stay on terra firma. She turned slowly around.

The creature was several meters tall, and mainly a bluish white shade. A blue scarf was slung around its neck, which ended in four different strips of fabric. The beast was mainly angular, and most of its parts were pointed.

Don't be afraid. Face your destiny.

Kairi wanted to flee, but there was no way to. She took her fighting stance shakily, with none of the confidence Sora and Riku always showed. Suddenly, four orbs formed around each limb, sending her flying up about eye level of the eyeless beast. It moved its head closer, examining her, then drew its arm back.

Kairi suddenly felt the orbs weaken, and she took the advantage, swinging herself from the left arm and smacking the beast with the keyblade right into the face. It flew off the platform as the orbs tightened, immobilizing her again. It then stretched a hand and grabbed her, disengaging the orbs, then threw her into the air, getting ready to strike her again. Kairi managed to dodge this new attempt at her life and sent it over the platform with a blow over the head.

Kairi cheered as it fell out of sight, but she didn't see it twist to the other side.

A sudden rumble caused the platform to list, sending Kairi sliding on her belly. She then gave three jabs with the blade at the platform as she slid. Finally, the blade broke one of the glass panels, stopping her from falling.

She gasped as she saw the creature, without a single form of injury, hefting a giant ball of thorny energy. Suddenly, the blade slipped out and she was now falling into the energy ball. In utter panic, she threw the keyblade into the energy ball.

The explosion sent everything downside-up as she landed face-first onto the platform again. Her blade sank in the nearest metal structure of the platform, and with a giant thud, the Nobody smashed into half the platform. Kairi quickly pulled the weapon out of the platform and was about to pulverize the beast, it contorted back onto its feet much like a Dusk. Several bars of energy bent from the creature. Kairi dodged the first one- but found herself sliding on the second one! As another one flew at her, she jumped from the one she was on onto the other one, her feet grinding on it like a skateboarder. But she was still unable to reach the vulnerable head.

Landing on the platform again, she felt herself stumble. She was starting to tire, her emotions spent and her body weakened. Though the scratches from the Dusk attack weren't there, the pain still resonated into her core. On the other end of the keyblade, the monstrous Nobody had no visible injury, and stared down at her as a superior stares down a underling. "I-I can't do this… What was I thinking for trying…? I'm not Sora or Riku, I'm just me…"

You can only be yourself, and sometimes, that's the greatest strength of all.

The beast placed its great head onto the platform, its limbs and the spiky energy resonating from it as several Creepers seemed to appear out of the ether around it. Kairi grasped the blade tighter as she suddenly felt a burst of strength burn into her. She charged at the beast, 'grinding' on one bar of energy, ducking a limb, and slashing at the Creepers in her way. When she reached the beast's head, she gave her strongest strike yet.

Twilight Thorn crumpled, tilting its upper body so it landed spread-eagle on the platform with a crash. Shortly after, a loud CRACK echoed in the silence. The two weak points caused in the battle snapped apart and the entire stained-glass floor gave way in a shower of shards.

As Kairi fell backwards into unconsciousness, she heard the voice once again.

Which path will you cross?

Will you fall down the road to darkness?

Will you do nothing in the attempt to disturb nothing, thereby being preyed on by nothingness?

Or, will you take up arms and fight for the light?

The choice is yours…

Keyblade Master.

-----

Calm before the Storm

-----

"Kairi!"

The voice drove her dream out of her mind and made her eyes flash open.

Selphie, Tidus, Wakka, Sohphie, and Lavitz were all staring down at her. Above them the blue sky was barely touched with clouds and a bit of pink, foretelling sunset. Selphie held out her hand, and Kairi took it.

As Selphie helped her to her feet, Kairi wondered what Sohphie and Lavitz were doing with her friends. Usually, the four off worlders hung together, ever since their world, in their own words, was 'taken by several shadowy beings.' Sohphie and Lavitz were the only two who were originally teenagers, and the other two were 'aged down,' explained by Sora and Riku as being the same as them going to the Pridelands and being turned into some form of feline.

Sohphie was about Kairi's height, with a long nest of red hair down to her rear, violet eyes, and olive skin, dressed in cutoffs tied with a yellow scarf, a tank top, a yellow scarf tied like a bandana, and sandals, her form of armament used to be brass knuckles, but she downgraded to gauze wrap. In contrast, Lavitz had a green t-shirt, cameo scarf, cameo shorts, brown shoes, and a necklace with some form of jade stone. He uses a javelin for a weapon, so he traded it in for a piece of wood that made a good staff. He always tried to keep his blonde hair neat, a major feat in the ocean winds, and his fair skin and green eyes made him the talk of the female school population.

"What are you two doing here?" Kairi asked them quizzically.

"Looking for Lenus," Sohphie explained. "We haven't seen her all day, and we all know how she treats the locals."

"Or we were, until Ms. Rescuer found these three moaning and groaning over you being missing," Lavitz teased. Sohphie gave him a dirty look and slugged him in the shoulder, causing his face to grimace in pain and Tidus and Wakka, who had been on the receiving end of that fist, to flinch. Selphie glowered at Lavitz as well, playing with the chain of her new jump rope.

"Ok, CHILDREN…" Kairi growled. She currently wasn't in the mood, what with the dream she had just had. The other five turned towards her, amazed at her attitude.

"Well, well, looks like the little kitten found out she had claws!" a snide voice called behind Kairi.

"Found her…" Sohphie said under her breath.

Standing at the square's entry to the shopping district was a girl in a black bikini, jeans, and sneakers, with pale skin, platinum hair, red eyes turned cruelly, and a red bandana tied onto her head. Two strange weapons that Kairi did not know the names of were hanging at her belt.

"Now is not the time, Lenus…" Kairi growled at her. Of the four of them, Kairi disliked Lenus the most, due to her superior attitude and her habit of starting fights. Kairi thought she would be gladdened, being turned to a teen and all the nice ocean water and the temperate climate…

"Don't raise you voice at me, witch, or I'll wipe the floor with you!" Lenus yelled back.

"She isn't the only one here, Lenus!" Selphie yelled. Wakka and Tidus also stiffened. Lenus only responded by giving a backhanded gesture. Kairi caught a glimpse of an object being sent towards them, but she lost sight of it.

A violent gust of wind sent all six allies spinning around the square, as Lenus just stood there, chuckling.

"Dammit! I was saving that for an emergency!" Lavitz called out in the maelstrom.

Kairi began angling herself in the wind, like she was swimming in air. She suddenly whipped out her arms, holding her weapon out. It hit home, striking Lenus and sending her into the windstorm, which soon dissipated, sending all of them tumbling.

As soon as everyone got to their feet, they armed themselves with their respective weapons. Selphie swung out her jump rope, the handle whirling like a whip. Wakka crouched with his blitzball under his arm. Tidus pulled his new sword out of his belt. Sohphie crouched in a martial arts pose, her fists clenched. Lavitz spun his staff into a polearm pose, pointing the end at Lenus. And Kairi copied the pose she had used against Sora and Riku.

Lenus smirked as she pulled out both weapons, which looked like rounded hand guards with a half-circle of spokes out of three sides. Suddenly, the edges of the spokes spurted out twin blades of violet flame, as two violet- there was no other words for them- wings of the same energy shot out her back. Hovering slightly off the ground, she smirked at the look on the islander's faces.

Kairi heard Lavitz curse under his breath. "She promised not to do that…"

Sohphie was the first to attack, trying to do a leaping kick. Lenus dodged her and dropkicked her back. Tidus and Wakka then double-timed at her, Wakka launching Tidus into the air as Tidus smacked the blitzball with his sword. Lenus combined the two weapons at the hand guards, blocking the ball and reflecting it back, sending Tidus collapsing in Wakka in a heap.

Kairi charged and swung at Lenus, who had hovered lower to throw her weapons at Selphie, sending Lavitz hurrying towards the flying blades. Lenus managed to look towards her just as Kairi leaped at her and managed to get a few strikes before Lenus kicked her off.

The weapons continued to assail Lavitz and Selphie, Kairi and Lenus stared daggers at each other. Then, with a flick of her wrist, the weapon swirled back into Lenus' hand. She separated them and charged Kairi. Kairi brought the sword up to defend herself, and the blades struck right through the wood.

Kairi looked at the burnt piece of wood, only one thought in her head:

Sora's gonna kill me!

"Any last words?" Lenus sneered.

"Turn around Lenus, its over."

The platinum haired girl stiffened, feeling the point of Dart's Bastard Sword in her back.

The blonde-haired swordsman wore a red t-shirt and black jeans, a red bandana, boots, a leather glove on his right hand, and his face and green eyes in a frown. Lenus began grumbling under her breath, but lowered her weapons. Staring right at Kairi, she muttered, "This isn't over…" and flew off towards the dock.

Kairi thought the saw a tinge of violet in Lenus' eyes. An unnatural glint.

-----

Kairi found herself standing on Twilight Beach later that night, lost in thought. She had used duct tape on Sora's wooden sword, but she only carried it for sentimental reasons now. Her emotions whirled through her head, her anger at Lenus, her hurt feelings at Sora and Riku, her own feelings for Sora…

"Oh, there you are!"

She whirled around to find Dart standing on the road back towards Star Cove. "Oh, hi!" she called back.

Dart walked over and sat down, the two of them staring at the sunset. Finally, Dart spoke up. "Look, I'm sorry about earlier today. I just don't know what's wrong with her…"

Kairi smiled. "It's ok. Just proof I still have much to learn…"

Dart nodded, and the two lapsed into silence. Dart was the one who spoke first again. "Let me guess, Sora and Riku left again?"

"How'd you guess?" Kairi sat down next to Dart.

Dart smiled. "I have my ways."

Kairi sighed. "They still could have taken me along!"

Dart laughed. "You remind me a lot about someone."

Kairi turned back towards him. "Who?"

"My wife, Shana."

Kairi was about to exclaim surprise, but remembered that in his home world, Dart was hovering around 50 years of age. Instead, she queried, "How come?"

"Well, for one, you don't give up easy. Then, you're totally devoted to the person you love, and throws a fit when said interest runs off elsewhere."

"Wow, you're good."

Dart smiled. "Don't worry, they'll be back soon."

"Don't you see? That's the problem!"

Dart looked back at her, concerned. "What do ya mean?"

Kairi stared back at the ocean. "It's… I just have this bad feeling- that I'll never see them again…"

The two sat in silence, not willing to tred on the threshold.

-----

"Stupid redheaded chauvinistic pig!"

Lenus sat in the cave of Draconic Isle, a small rocky landmass in the shape of a dragon's head, cursing everything to do with Kairi.

"I don't know HOW that girl got me, but I swear, that little human's gonna get it if it's the last thing I do!" She tossed her Spirit Chargers out of the cave entry, which soon returned. She caught them and chucked them at the floor in fury.

You don't have to let the human win.

"Who's there!?!" she called, retrieving her weapons and separating them into two blades.

Let us help you. We will let you get your revenge.

"Show yourself! Before I get MAD!!!"

We will help you with all your desires…

Suddenly, a blast of pure dark energy surged towards her.

She screamed.

-----

The Shadows Lengthen

-----

"You know, Riku has changed."

"What do you mean?"

"Well..."

"You okay?"

"Sora Let's take the raft and go - just the two of us"

"Huh"

Kairi laughed. "Just kidding!"

"What's gotten into you" Sora asked bemusedly."You're the one that's changed, Kairi."

"Maybe..." she said softly."You know, I was a little afraid at first, but now I'm ready. No matter where I go or what I see, I know I'll always come back here. Right?"

"Yeah, of course," Sora reasoned.

"That's good." Kairi's eyes were fixed on the sunset."Sora, don't ever change."

"Huh?"

Kairi stood up on the Paupu tree, gazing out with a look of rapture. "I just can't wait. Once we set sail..."

-----

…It will be great…

Kairi was staring at her bedroom ceiling, lost in thought. Her memory had gone back all the way to when she, Sora, and Riku had built the raft and attempted to leave Destiny Islands. She missed those days sometime…

The radio suddenly squawked a radio report on the weather."Tonight's weather report must be corrected. A sudden freak storm had appeared. We will keep you posted on the current status of the cove and outlying Islands."

"Weather to match my attitude..." she muttered, looking out her window. The clouds were an unnatural shade of black, and the shadows seemed darker. She absentmindedly looks at the street below- and sees several Shadow and Neoshadow Heartless.

Kairi dives off her bed and grabs the toy sword. "Oh no, not again!"

-----

Kairi reached the street in front of the Mayor's house when the Heartless finally caught up with her. One of the shadows managed to jump onto her back. She shook it off, but the rest of the small group caught up and pounced.

Several bolts of lighting struck through the group, cutting through them like a hot knife through butter. After the electricity flew, Kairi found the group of Heartless had been eliminated. She turned to find the source and saw a figure in a black cloak, much like Organization XIII. "Who are you?" she asked.

"Go home. It's not safe."

The speaker had a soft, female voice, with a touch of steel in her words.

"Why?"

Suddenly, more Heartless showed up.

"Just go!"

Kairi didn't argue, but she headed back towards the town square instead of home.

The figure glanced back at Kairi as she left; showing a flash of green eyes in a curious look of recognition, then turned her attention to the Heartless.

-----

"You guys saw her too?" Sohphie asked, punching through a Neoshadow with brass claws.

"I had to wake Lavitz up, but yeah, we saw her." Dart answered, slashing three Heartless in one swing.

The three had all met in the town square, and, while dispatching the heartless, were discussing someone they had all seen and followed- the cloaked figure.

"I- don't see- what- she has- to do with- this!" Lavitz asked, using his lance to deal with a group of Shadows

"Coming through!"

The three warriors looked up to find Kairi charging in, casting her Water spell like mad. She makes to the fountain and falls over, panting heavily. Dart got her back to her feet as the other two dealt with the remaining Heartless in the area. "Are you ok?"

"I (pant) need (pant pant) to get to (cough pant) the dock!" Kairi explained past her burning lungs. Sora had warned her that overcastting magic could be harmful, and now she was hurting from it.

"Have you seen the size of the waves? They'll kill you!"

"I need to get to Paupu Island NOW."

Dart looked at the other two, then at Kairi with a determined look. "Ok. I'll escort you."

-----

"What's this all about Kairi?" Dart asked. The two were currently on the dock connecting the lighthouse of Star Cove with the rest of the island, next to Kairi's sailboat.

"Do you remember what happened to your own world?" Kairi asked, undoing the ropes on the small ship.

"Hard to forget, really..."

"Well, if I don't find a way to stop this at the source, Destiny Islands is going to be destroyed like your world was. Do you understand?"

Dart nodded. "Do what you need to do."

Jumping into the boat, she raised the sail and headed for Paupu Island.

-----

Quickly tying the rope, Kairi started for the secret place- and a large, glowing ring struck the sand in front of her. She looked for the source.

"Going somewhere?" came an inhuman, snide voice.

Kairi turned and found Lenus floating in midair, her wings outstretched to a ridiculous size and translucent violet plates of armor over her clothes. Her weapons were also overly huge, as Kairi recognized the magic-induced ring had a metallic handle that held the ring on the top half of it.

"L-Lenus? What are you doing here?"

Lenus gave an evil grin. The violet glint Kairi had noticed earlier had taken her usual red eye color over, and her hair was a darker shade of black and red. She reared her arm back and threw her other weapon. Kairi dodged out of the way just in the nick of time. The weapon wheeled back and returned to Lenus, who swooped down to retrieve her second weapon.

With a cry, Kairi leaped at her, the wooden sword raised. Lenus just gave a lazy backhand with her free hand- which sent her halfway across the beach. Landing with a thump, Kairi regained her footing and charged again. Lenus flew strait at her, the violet eyes glowing. She closed her eyes as she swung.

-----

Oathkeeper

-----

As Kairi swung, she felt the handle in her hands grow suddenly warm, and when it had collided with Lenus' weapons, she didn't feel the blade break and Lenus continue unimpeded. She opened one eye-

And saw her holding the keyblade from her dream earlier.

Keep your Oath, Keybearer...

Knowing she has a fighting chance now, she knocked the twin weapons away, swung again and pointed the weapon at Lenus.

"PEARL!"

A bright orb of magic shot from the keyblade and hit Lenus at point blank range, exploding in a large blast. Lenus went flying back (not on her own power) and slammed into a large tree. When she fell to the ground, the dark armor began fading, and her hair returned to normal.

"Wow. I did that?"

Kairi ran over to check on her, finding her to be unconscious.

The closer you get to the light, the greater your shadow becomes

Kairi turned to see an odd figure standing on the beach. Her body (It was obviously a 'she') was covered with a white cloak with a purple hem. The hood was pulled over, obscuring her face. Violet boots showed out of the bottom of the cloak.

She stared at it as it faded, soon being replaced with a wide expanse of darkness. The darkness dragged itself up and began to reform.

The creature was the same size as the one she had fought in her dream, besides it being a Heartless. The body was immense, with a large cavity shaped like a heart in the middle. The arms were almost as long as the rest of the body, but its waist, legs and the two tiny wings on its back were comically small. Its head was large, with two glowing yellow eyes and hair that was bent all over. A thing like a scarf was over the bottom of its face.

"Oooooooooh, crap." Kairi said weakly.

The gigantic Heartless drew its fist back and slammed it into the ground, causing Kairi to stumble. As she got back up, she saw a dark vortex where is fist had landed, and several Shadows coming out of it. Kairi dealt with the Shadows and looked at the hulking creature. Didn't Sora talk about something like this, where the head was a weak point?

Running at it, she used the right arm as a springboard to its chest cavity, and then flipped through it and upward to its shoulders. "TAKE THIS!" she yelled, striking it with the keyblade. The shadow around its face rippled as the keyblade struck repeatedly. After a few seconds, the beast shook her off. Landing on her feet, she darted back as it fired a dark orb from the chest cavity. She dodged it barely and retaliated with her newfound Pearl spell, which hit right between the eyes and exploded.

Darkside wobbled on its feet, then fell forward and crashed onto the beach. It faded into violet smoke and dissipated. Luckily, before it fell, Kairi had managed to position herself where the chest cavity was, sparing her from getting crushed.

"Kairi? What's going on? What am I doing here? And what in the world is that kind of sword?"

Lenus had come to and had sat up, staring at Kairi in confusion. Kairi smiled and walked over, extending a hand for her to get up with. "Let's just say that you weren't thinking straight."

Kairi pulled Lenus to her feet and, when she almost fell down, supported her and kept her on her feet. "As for the weapon, let me show you..."

-----

A Surprising Ally

-----

Kairi and the wounded Lenus entered the secret place, moving towards the back of it, where next to a drawing of two people sharing a Paupu fruit, was a large, wooden door. "What sort of idiot would put a door here?" Lenus asked in bewilderment. Meanwhile, Kairi looked at the keyblade in confusion. "How's this thing supposed to work, anyway?"

However, with the keyhole and keyblade in close proximity, they took care of it themselves. With a golden glow, the keyhole appeared in the door, and the keyblade suddenly jerked Kairi's arm as it pointed itself at the door. A silvery bean shot from the blade and the two heard a defiant click as the keyhole sealed.

"And that is how you prevent Heartless attacks," Kairi explained to a now thoroughly confused Lenus.

-----

The sail back to Star Cove was less eventful, as the sea was finally calming down.

"Kairi? Thanks."

"Don't mention it. You would have run into someone to set you straight eventually."

"I feel like such an idiot, treating you guys like that..."

"As I said no problem."

The two sat for a minute in silence, and then Kairi spoke up. "Lenus, what was your world like?"

Lenus smiled. "A lot like this one, but with less heat, and it was larger."

Kairi smiled. "Not all worlds need to be large to be important."

-----

"Are you three done acting like fools?" the cloaked figure asked Dart, Sohphie, and Lavitz, who had just been defeated by her.

"What's this all about?"

Kairi and Lenus had just appeared from the docks. When Kairi saw the cloaked figure, she drew the keyblade and pointed it at her. "And who exactly are you?"

The figure placed the battlestaff onto her back via a strap hanging on it. "Is there a place we can talk in private?"

"But-"

"Please?"

Kairi looked at the confused people around her, and then nodded. "Follow me."

-----

The pair soon reached Twilight Beach about the same time the sun reached noon. Kairi looked at the figure in the cloak. "C'mon, spill it, who are you?"

The cloaked figure gave a small musical laugh. "You haven't figured it out yet?"

Kairi shook her head.

The figure laughed again, then pulled her hood back and flipped her long braid out.

"AERITH!?!" Kairi asked, thunderstruck.

The last time she had seen Aerith, it had been two years ago in Traverse Town, and she was using curative magic at the most. Seeing this black-cloaked version, wielding a battlestaff and much more destructive magic was a shock. "But why are YOU here?"

Aerith turned away, looking out towards Paupu Island. "I was trying to find Sora and Riku. I have to talk to them about something."

"Sora and Riku left."

"What?"

"They received a letter and left yesterday."

"Did you see what was in the letter!?!" the sudden change in Aerith's voice shocked Kairi slightly.

She thought back to the events yesterday. "Hmm, it had the King's seal on it, and it was talking about some sort of execution of a guy named Jack, and something about the Book of Darkness..."

"It had the King's seal on it?"

"Yeah. Why ya asking?"

Aerith bowed her head into one hand. "I'm too late..."

"Why? If the King sent it-"

"The King couldn't have sent it, Kairi. He spent the entire time yesterday talking with Leon."

Kairi looked at Aerith in hurt silence. "But, who would- what kind of person would...?"

Aerith sighed sadly. "I don't know. I had originally come here to ask Sora to try and help us with a predicament we have, but..."

"I can help!"

Aerith turned to Kairi in surprise. "What?"

"I can help you," Kairi repeated, a determined glint in her eye.

Aerith looked her over, a concerned look over her face, which melted into a soft acceptance. "Allright. Pack up, we won't be staying long."

"Thank you!" Kairi gave a small bow and ran back home. Her heart was singing. Not only did she manage to repel a Heartless attack on the Islands, she was going off-world on her own steam instead of outside forces. Finally, her own adventure.

But for how long? She wondered to herself.

Suddenly, she remembered the poem she wrote last year. She smiled as she thought of the prophetic lyrics:

-----

Thinking of you, wherever you are.

We pray for our sorrows to end, and hope that our hearts will blend.

Now I will step forward to realize this wish.

And who knows: Starting a new journey may not be so hard, or maybe it has already begun.

There are many worlds, but they share the same sky -- One sky, one destiny.

-----

NOW that Kairi's off world, the story will get interesting. Next up- Radiant Garden and the first glimpse of the newest group of Nobodies!

Naxthan: About damn time…

Chapter Storyline Hint:

"This town had another name once," Aerith said.

"Really? What was it?" Sora asked.

"Radiant Garden."

P.S. After every chapter, Kairi will write a few notes on the people- and the enemies- she meets in her journal. As there is no Jiminy Cricket here, we'll have to call it Kairi's Memoir or something…

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Kairi- Yup, that's me! Let's see, Princess of Heart, in love with Sora, and now keyblade master? Sometimes I wish I had half the adventure that Sora and Riku had, but I have a good feeling I'm gonna enjoy this foray away from home.

Kairi was portrayed as young and defenseless in Kingdom Hearts, but her true spirit shined out in Kingdom Hearts II.

Sora- Honestly, isn't this guy so cute? I just find it odd that I hung out with two boys all my life and I fell in love with only one of them. If Sora was here now, I think he would be proud…

Thus far, Sora has been the main character in the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts Series.

Riku- My other best friend since childhood. He's struggled with the darkness since the first attack on Destiny Island, not helped by Maleficent and Xehanort's Heartless. I'm glad that he finally realized that the darkness doesn't mean he has to be evil.

Riku made his first appearance in Kingdom Hearts as an antihero, but he turned sides shortly into Chain of Memories.

Selphie- My one girlfriend on the islands, she spent most of her time hanging out with Tidus and Wakka, but we talk to each other from time to time.

Selphie originally helped Squall, er, Leon,and company in Final Fantasy VIII

Tidus- He's sort of my friend through Wakka and Selphie. He's a little too cocky in my opinion. He and Wakka usually are at the Blitzball arena, so naturally he suggested I try out. I didn't make it.

Tidus was the protagonist in Final Fantasy X

Wakka- I'm starting to worry about how much Wakka likes that Blitzball of his. Oh well, I guess the fact that he's Star Cove's captain probably explains it. I tried out for the team last summer. He made sure to break it to me gently.

Wakka was a party member in Final Fantasy X

Sohphie- She seems to be the youngest, but most mature of the group behind Dart. I have to agree with Lavitz, though. Those fists hurt!

Sohphie will appear in my Legend of Dragoon fanfic, the Third Rising

Lavitz- For a prince, he's a real goof-off. I imagine him a bit more 'regal' back at his home world, but he's enjoying this summer vacation waaaaaaay to much!

Lavitz will appear in my Legend of Dragoon fanfic, the Third Rising

Lenus- Now here's a good waste of ink. Lenus seemed to have her attitude scrambled when she got here. A tad jealous perhaps? After the Heartless reached the Islands, she was taken over by darkness and then went after me. One keyblade later, she was rescued from the dark and returned to a better mood- if not having her tail between her legs.

Lenus made her first appearance with a bang as a boss in the Legend of Dragoon

Dart- For being a senior citizen, he's looking good, not that I would leave Sora, but I digress. He acts a lot like Sora too, with his words of wisdom and his experience.

Dart was the main protagonist in the Legend of Dragoon

The Cloaked Figure- This figure gave me the creeps. I'm not sure what was worse, the heart attack I got first seeing her, or the shock on finding out who she was.

Aerith Gainsborough- I met Aerith when we were in Traverse Town. I wouldn't say she's strict, but she wasn't the type to let you push her around. She left Traverse Town shortly before my world was returned. I didn't expect to meet her like this, though...

Aerith is a pivotal character when it comes to Final Fantasy VII

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Twilight Thorn- Damn, this thing was huge. It appeared during that dream I had, and if it wasn't for that voice, and some fancy footwork, I don't think I would have woken up again...

Roxas fought this large foe during his Dive to the Heart in Kingdom Hearts 2, even though he had no heart

Darkside- Another big baddie, but this time I remembered him from the last time. Lol, I don't think it really expected me pulling off some of those moves on him. Big question though: who was the cloaked person that appeared before it did?

Sora fought this gargantuan foe as the first boss ever in Kingdom Hearts.