Last time found our heroes and allies forced into a final confrontation with Phobos. One thing lead to another, resulting in Elyon severing all ties with Phobos, Katarina getting really pissed with Nikolai, which lead to the two of them going back to their world with Katarina threatening to tell on Nikolai, and all in all, Phobos defeated, with the Wamphyri Dmitri destroyed and Pantyhose Taro carried back to New Hollow Bastion like a sack of potatoes. With everything back on the right track on Metamore, our heroes bade The Guardians, Elyon and everyone else farewell. 'Nuff said, on with the show!

Chapter 10: Prelude to the Next Adventure

...Disney Castle...

"This is where you live?" An amazed Tess asked as our heroes emerged from the portal and found themselves in the topiary garden of Disney Castle.

"This is just one world that we can travel to in our universe," said Riku, "this world is the home of some of our friends."

"Our home isn't as cool," said Kairi, "but still home."

"My home is in a completely different universe," said Aiden, "and I can't go home until I've taken care of some pretty important business."

"Oh don't start that again," said Sora. He would have gone on more about how Aiden was being foolish in believing that his mission to find the new Princesses of Heart prevented him from going home, but Pluto bounded out into the gardens and tackled Sora.

"Like clockwork," said Roxas as Pluto showered Sora with his affections.

"You're back!" said King Mickey as he and Queen Minnie came out into the gardens.

"We did it, your majesties," said Kairi, "We rescued The Guardians, saved Elyon from the darkness and tore Phobos off of his high horse."

"And made a new friend in the process," said Naminé.

"King Mickey, Queen Minnie," said Riku, "this is Tess Thatcher. She's one of us, a Keyblade Wielder."

"Just how many of you guys are there?" Daisy asked as she walked out into the garden.

"That's a good question," said Aiden.

"Uh…hi," said Tess as she awkwardly bowed to The King and Queen, "it's…nice to meet you."

"If you're feeling overwhelmed," said Sara Lancaster as she stood at the doorway to the garden, "you're not alone."

"Sara!" said a surprised Kairi as their friend walked out into the garden.

"What are you doing here?" Sora asked.

"Learning about magic," said Sara as she shook Sora's hand, then Kairi's, then Riku's, Aiden's, Donald's and Goofy's, "The Moochick said that I could find what I need to make The Rainbow of Light whole again, and I think I've found out how to do that," she then held up a book that was in her hand, "is it okay that I borrow this, Queen Minnie?"

"Absolutely," said The Queen, "you may have that book for as long as you need."

"Speaking of books," said Sora as he handed the book that was given to him at the start of the adventure back to King Mickey, "this was really helpful, thanks."

"Any time," said The King.

"Oh, Sara," said Sora, "this is Roxas and Naminé, they're friends."

"Nice to meet you," said Naminé as she and Roxas shook Sara's hand, "in the flesh that is."

"Uh, yeah, nice to meet you too, said Sara.

Just then Sora and the others noticed that Ranma was looking at Sara as if she was the most beautiful girl in existence.

:You don't think that…: said Sora to Kairi, :that Ranma and Sara?:

:That they could be a couple?: Kairi asked, :Definitely.:

:If anyone deserves happiness,: said Riku, :It's Ranma.:

:Definitely,: said Aiden, :after all the crap he's been through, he's entitled to more than his share of happiness.:

:It's going to take a while for us to get used to you guys being able to speak your minds,: said Sora to Riku and Aiden.

:Just wait till Tess can use Telepathy,: said Riku, :then we'll really be a team.:

:There goes our privacy,: said Roxas.

:Don't you guys have your own private channels?: Sora asked.

:That's right,: said Naminé, :we do have our own channel.: at that Roxas and Naminé started their own psychic conversation that Sora and the others couldn't hear.

"Go on," said Kairi aloud to Ranma, " if you like her, talk to her."

"What do I say to her?" a nervous Ranma asked, "I'm no good with girls I like, you know that."

"Oh right," said Kairi as she remembered all the horrible times Ranma had with Akane and all his other fiancées. "Wait, I'll start things off," she walked over to Sara, "how are things in Dream Valley, Sara?"

"Quiet," said Sara, "too quiet for my liking. Trouble usually worms its way into Ponyland in one form or another, but after we rescued the Little Ponies from those demons and you guys sealed that Keyhole, there hasn't been any trouble at all, not from Heartless, demons or anything. Even the witches of the Volcano of Doom have been quiet, and they cause a boatload of trouble for my mother back in the day."

"What witches?" Aiden asked, "and what volcano? We didn't see any of that when we were there."

"It's a long story," said Sara, "let's just say that a family of dark magic users caused more mischief that my mother really liked to talk about, not all at once that is.

"But even though things are okay right now, my friends and I are convinced that things won't be okay for much longer. It's like…we can sense that something will happen, something big and terrible, and I'm afraid it's going to take everything my friends and I have to stop it, whatever it will be."

"Well if you need us," said Sora, "we'll help."

"Any time, any place," said Kairi, while Riku, Aiden, Donald and Goofy nodded in agreement.

"I may be new at this," said Tess, "but a friend of Riku and the others is a friend of mine," she held out her hand to Sara, "just say it and I'll be there to help."

"That's great," said Sara as she shook Tess' hand, then held up the book in her other hand, "but I think this is all that's needed right now."

"How are your Stands going?" Riku asked.

As if in response a spectral female warrior wearing white Greek armor appeared next to Sara, "what do you think?" she asked as she smile, while her Stand, Crystal Star, also smiled.

"Is that an actual Stand?" an intrigued Ranma asked, "I…I've heard of them, but only rumors."

"Oh she's real alright," said Sara, while Crystal Star waved at Ranma, "I should know, she's helped me out a few times."

"Cool," said Ranma.

"Very cool," said Sara, "but what about you? What's your specialty?"

At that Ranma smiled in a way that said he didn't care how Sara would react to what he was about to say, only that he got it out in the open, "I'm a really, really talented martial artist with a really, really embarrassing curse on his head."

"What sort of curse?" Sara asked curiously.

"Everywhere I go," said Ranma, "trouble is usually two steps behind me. Sometimes it's already there and I end up running into it."

"So you attract trouble," said Sara.

"Yeah," said Ranma, "I just can't help it. Also, I turn into a girl whenever I get hit with cold water."

"That's rough," said Sara. She then did a double take, "say what?"

"It's true," said Riku, while Roxas used a Blizzard spell to form an ice crystal over Ranma, then used a Fireball to melt it into cold water, soaking him into her.

"Oh real nice," said an irate Ranma-Chan as she wrung out her soaked shirttail. She then saw Sara looking at her like this was the most astounding thing in the universe. "uh… this is kinda normal for me."

At that Sara began laughing, "I'm sorry," she said between giggles, "but…that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen!"

"Oh," said Ranma-Chan in a tone that said that her heart had just been broken.

"I mean in a good way!" Sara said hastily, "I mean, I've seen some weird things, some good, some bad, and some things so completely unbelievable that the only way I believed it was to see it for myself."

"Talking ponies?" Kairi asked in a cheerful manner.

"That," said Sara, "not to mention Flutter Ponies, Bushwollies, Grundles and a whole world of fantastic people and creatures.

"But this," she indicated Ranma-chan, "this is a good weird thing. It's not every day you meet someone who can be two different people."

At that Kairi laughed, "we actually know someone who is two different people."

"Don't tell her about Miley," Riku whispered, "Sara's universe also has Hannah Montana. For all we know, that Hannah is a slightly different Miley. We don't want to spoil things for Sara and her friends."

"Right," whispered Kairi. She then spoke to Sara, "uh…we were talking about a superhero we met. We'd tell you all about it, but we wouldn't want to give away a secret."

"You've met a real superhero?" Sara asked, "Cool," she then looked at Ranma-Chan, "I guess you're kinda like a superhero as well if you can be two different people."

"I did use both of me in different situations," said Ranma-Chan, "some of them really embarrassing."

"You…can change back," said Sara hesitantly, "right?"

"Sure," said Ranma-Chan, "hot water turns me back into a boy." She was then splashed by hot water sent by Roxas, turning her back into a him.

"What is your problem, dude!" exclaimed Ranma as he wrung out his shirt again.

"You said you needed hot water," said Roxas innocently.

"This is really cool," said Sara, "really cool."

"I guess it is kinda cool," said Ranma. At that they both started laughing.

"You once told me about seeing the signs of true love," said Kairi to Queen Minnie, "I think I'm seeing it right now."

"Your sight is improving," said Queen Minnie, "yes, these two hearts are meant to be together. Soul mates separated by time and space, to be finally brought together by destiny."

"They just need time together in order to realize they were meant for each other," said Naminé.

"So this is kinda like another example of Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey," said Aiden.

"Exactly," said Kairi.

Just then The King walked over, a serious look on his face, "there's something you all need to know. I've been keeping this from you because I didn't want you all to worry about it."

"How bad could it be?" Sora asked, "we've faced all sorts of horrible stuff, so we can handle anything."

"You can tell us," said Riku, "what's the problem now?"

"Okay, here's the situation," said King Mickey, "for some time now, demons have been seen across the worlds. No one has been hurt, and the demons haven't stirred up any trouble, but they're here in the universe alright."

"What kind of demons?" Kairi asked.

"What kind of question is that?" Aiden asked, "judging from Tirnac, Zabuchrion and his minions, all demons are one kind; evil, pure and simple."

"True," said King Mickey, "but not all demons, evil that they may be, are all equal. You've seen how different demons are stronger than others, well the ones we've seen in the worlds are strong."

"Powerful ones," said Queen Minnie, "not as powerful as the demons you fought in Dream Valley, but powerful indeed."

"Just hang on a second," said Aiden, "when we were talking with The Moochick, he said that demons could be scaled in power by letters. Zabuchrion was 'A' class, while Tirnac as 'S', and those lesser demons, the one with elemental themes, they were like 'A-' or lower."

"Just how strong are these demons?" Sora asked.

"And how many of them are there?" Riku asked

"We're not exactly sure," sad King Mickey, "on both questions. We think there's only a few, acting as scouts for a larger group, but again, we don't know how big a group. But like I said, they haven't hurt anyone and they haven't cause any trouble. All the demons have done so far is look around for a bit and teleported out."

"Scouting missions," said Riku, "as a precursor for an invasion."

"As if the worlds have had enough trouble as it is," said Kairi.

"That one theory," said The King, "but we can't be sure of anything yet."

"There's one thing that's sure," said Sora, "if we know that there's demons looking around the worlds, then Maleficent knows as well."

"Oh, that's right," said King Mickey, "I forgot to tell you before you left for Metamore; since we can now spy on Maleficent, chances are she can spy on us as well."

"Of course she can," said Aiden in a sarcastic manner, "it wouldn't be fair if she couldn't."

"Balance of power," said Roxas, "we watch the baddies, they watch us as well."

"The only thing that can make this better is if the demons are out to cause trouble for Maleficent as well," said Naminé, "whatever their plan is."

…New Hollow Bastion…

"And the creatures were only observing events on the worlds?" Maleficent asked one of the lesser Hakonians after she read a report prepared by the Hakonian spy masters.

"It appears that the demons were only looking around," said the lesser Hakonian, "there is the offset chance that this could be just the beginning."

"You mean them demons are gonna invade?" Pete asked while still holding the unconscious Pantyhose Taro over his shoulder, "that they're gonna start a war?"

"A distinct possibility," said Maleficent as she stood up from her dark throne, "one that should be exploited if feasible. I'd be a poor mistress of all evil if I didn't attempt to use every resource available to me."

"That is true, great one," said the lesser Hakonian.

"Maintain observations on the creatures," said Maleficent, "inform me immediately if there is any change in their behavior."

"It shall be so, great one," said the lesser Hakonian. He bowed and left the room.

"You really gonna try and use them demons?" Pete asked.

"If they can be controlled then yes," said Maleficent, "if they cannot be controlled then they will be destroyed. I will not share power over the darkness with anyone."

"You're the boss lady," said Pete.

"All too true, my feebleminded friend," said Maleficent.

Just then another lesser Hakonian walked in, "great one, they are here."

"Announce them then, you fool," said Maleficent, "I am about to meet with two leading powers in your race. Show respect where respect is due."

"Yes, great one," said the lesser Hakonian, "announcing Dark Lady Marinka Heartbreaker and Dark Lady Shankina Shadowstalker."

In came two women in, apparently, their late 30's but were much older. The first was of medium height with long black hair down to her ankles and brilliantly piercing purple eyes that only completed her face that most people would describe as beyond beautiful. She wore a green and black single shoulder gown that accented her sensual figure. She had the overall appearance of someone who knew how to get exactly what she wanted.

The other woman was as different from the first as fire is from water. She was tall and had short brown hair with hazel eyes behind heavy glasses. She wore orange and black sorcery robe and carried a black staff carved with silver runes.

"Maleficent," said the Hakonain sorceress, Shankina Shadowstalker, "first of all, I humbly apologize for the behavior my son exhibited. There is no excuse for his shameful actions he committed on the mission you assigned to him."

"Well he wouldn't have done those things if your brat didn't harass my daughter," said the Hakonian femme fatale, Marinka Heartbreaker, "my Katarina may have her faults, but your Nikolai had no right to take advantage of her."

"You're acting as if my son has actually mistreated your daughter," said Shankina in an irate tone, "Which he didn't! But I wouldn't be surprised if he thought about it, considering how shamelessly your daughter has been flaunting herself."

"Are you accusing my daughter of being easy?" Marinka demanded.

"No," said Shankina, "I'm accusing your daughter of being a complete whore!"

"Say that again!" demanded an angry Marinka, "and I'll rip you in half!"

"And I'll destroy you with a word!" snapped Shankina as she aimed her staff at the Hakonian femme fatal.

"Silence!" snapped Maleficent, "this is about your children abandoning their mission for selfish reasons, not to accuse each other of raising delinquents."

"Of course, great one," said Shankina as she bowed respectfully.

"Of course," Marinka said reluctantly. But the two Hakonian women angrily glared at each other out of the corner of their eyes.

"Now," said Maleficent, "let us hear from the guilty parties directly."

Four lesser Hakonians escorted Nikolai and Katarina into the room, "great one!" Nikolai said immediately in a placating manner, "I have failed you. I was on the verge of destroying The Keyblade Wielders, and The Guardians of the Veil as well. The mission was going according to plan, but several factors interfered in my victory," he glared at Katrarina, "the most recent factor was this idiot getting herself captured by the enemy!"

"It's not my fault they caught me," said Katarina, "they surprised me, that's all. And I told you to stop being mean to me!"

"You deserve it, you moronic trollop!" snapped Nikolai.

"And you are an insensitive, woman-hating jerk!" snapped Katarina, "who probably swings the other way. That would explain a lot."

"I do not swing the other way!" snapped an outraged Nikolai, "to even think that I would be like that, it's preposterous! I am not like that!"

"You could have fooled me," said Katarina in a teasing manner, "for someone who spends so much time in a closet, you really need to work on your wardrobe."

"You stupid, spoiled whore!" spat Nikolai as he aimed his staff at Katarina, "I swear by the darkness, I will see you dead!"

"Not if I kill you first," said Katarina as she cracked her knuckles, "you self-centered, brown-nosing creep!"

"Enough!" spat Maleficent as she used her dark magic to temporarily steal their voices, casting Nikolai and Katarina into silence.

"You both are at fault for this failure," said Maleficent as she glared at the two younger Hankonians, "and you will equally share the punishment." At that both Katarina and Nikolai's faces blanched with horror. They knew what Maleficent did to their comrades when they failed, so they could only imagine in terror what punishment awaited them.

"If I could interject, oh great and terrible Maleficent," said Shankina, "I believe I have a suitable punishment in mind."

"You do?" Marinka asked.

"Indeed," said Shankina as she straightened her glasses, "with the permission of the mistress of all evil, that is."

"You have my attention," said Maleficent as she leaned back onto her dark throne while stroking her pet raven.

"Thank you, great one," said Shankina as she bowed respectfully, "first of all, there are other factors that must be taken into account. Earlier there was an incident where several of my son's comrades were in position to destroy The Keyblade Brats and those wretched Guardians. But due to the scheming that is part of Hakonian nature, those four, Rakel, Reddik, Erika and Konrad, wound up betraying each other. Had they worked together, as intended when they, along with the late Ulrik Darkclaw, all seven of the elite Hakonians who first came to this dark world would still be alive and celebrated as masters of the darkness.

"Alas, now Konrad and Erika are dead, while Reddik and Rakel have betrayed not only their race but their mistress. Great one, I can assure you that the two traitors will be found and dealt with most viciously."

"I've already made arrangements to hunt down the traitors," said Maleficent, "When they are brought back here they will be made examples of for all to see that I do not tolerate intrigue among the ranks."

"This is so, great one," said Shankina.

"Get to the point," said an annoyed Marinka, "what do you intend to do to punish your son and my daughter?"

"The punishment should fit the crime," said Shankina, "since Nikolai and Katarina have such animosity among them, then they need to learn to let that animosity go and cooperate."

"Oh, I get it," said Pete, "you're gonna force em' to work together like Ursula and Hades did."

"Not exactly," said Shankina. She looked at Marinak, "do you remember the arrangement our husbands made when our children were born?"

"The pact that would ensure that a new leader would be born?" Marinka asked, "yes," she smiled wickedly, "yes I do remember that arrangement. Do you think it is time?"

"Now is as good a time as any," said Shankina.

"What are you talking about, mother?" Nikolai asked as the spell restraining his voice and Katarina's wore off.

"What pact?" Katarina asked, "mother, what's going on?"

"Your fathers were the most powerful of their classes among our race," said Marinka, "either one of them could have been leader for our people, but circumstances prevented them from attempting to claim that title, so our people remained without a single leader to fully unite us, as we had been since The Doctor destroyed our empire long ago."

She glared at both Katarina and Nikolai, "both of your fathers had the right to claim leadership and unite our people. For too long our race has been nomads, squabbling among ourselves too much to stay in one place for too long. Your fathers had the chance, but they lost it. You should thank the everlasting darkness that Maleficent was merciful enough to take our people in, if only as a resource.

"But we had hopes of two plans when you two were born. The first was that one of you would rise to the challenge of leading our people.

"You could have lead us to a world of our own, Katarina, or you, Nikolai. But instead, you, my daughter, thought it would be smart to play dumb, to play politics. As for Nikolai, you thought you would earn greatness from the shadows by sucking up to the mistress of all evil, when you could have been the greatest warlock in the universe."

"There were reasons," said Nikolai in an uncomfortable tone, "mother, you know that I have reasons."

"I don't want to hear them!" said an irate Shankina, "you had your chances to lead, to be great on your own, but now you leave us no choice. The first plan has failed, so the second must proceed. Our people will have a leader that will unite us and rebuild our empire, but he or she hasn't been born yet."

"But he or she will be born," said Marinka, "as soon as you two get to it."

"What?" a shocked and disgusted Katarina asked, "you mean…?"

"We arranged that you two would be wedded," said Marinka, "and your firstborn child, be it a he or a she, would be our new leader."

"You want me to marry this idiot and have her beget my child!" an outraged Nikolai asked, "no! I'll never marry her, let alone sleep with her!"

"I'd rather be skinned alive than have his child!" snapped Katarina, "you're crazy, mother, and you too, Shankina!"

"That's future mother-in-law to you," said Shankina, "that is to be your punishment. I cannot think of any worse thing than to be forced into such a situation," she looked at Marinka, "can you?"

"I've got nothing," said Marinka.

"You can't do this to us!" said Katarina, "you can't force two people who don't like each other to marry!"

"Oh Earth there is a phrase that suits this situation," said Shankina, "I think it's called a 'shotgun wedding.'"

"Your knowledge of human metaphors is impressive, mother," said Nikolai in an irate tone, "but you forget, I serve a higher power," he knelt before Maleficent, "great one, it was your mission that I failed, so it is up to you to decide my punishment."

"And mine," said Katarina as she also knelt before Maleficent, "I was naughty, I shouldn't have let myself get captured by the brats, and I probably shouldn't have pretended to be dumb. I'll do better next time after you punish me."

"But also take into account that up until now our record of success has been exemplary," said Nikolai, "We've plunged dozens of worlds into the darkness and recruited thousands of Heartless. Surely that must count for something."

"Your record of success has been exemplary," said Maleficent, "I look forward to future successes, after you've served your punishments."

"Your wisdom is as great as your power," said Nikolai as he and Katarina sighed with relief, "we will take whatever punishment you deem necessary."

"Brown-nosing jerk," muttered Katarina.

"Dumbass bitch," muttered Nikolai.

"You both shall be punished," said Maleficent, "but on this occasion I will defer to your parents judgment," she looked at Shankina and Marinka, "do with them as you wish."

"I thank you, great one," said Shankina as she and Marinka bowed

"You can't be serious!" exclaimed Katarina.

"Deadly serious, daughter," said Marinka, while Sankina used a teleportation spell on Nikolai and Katarina, sending them somewhere else on The World that Never Was.

"How soon until they are forced to become husband and wife?" Maleficent asked.

"Our people regard marriage of this magnitude as a very serious matter," said Shankina, "we have highly complex rituals for the wedding preparations, and then there is the actual ceremony, another complicated ritual in itself. But, with the right connections and preparations, the ceremony can be performed in little under a months…say…four weeks from now on the inside."

"Four weeks sound right to me," said Marinka.

"Then let it be so," said Maleficent, "Nikolai and Katarina shall be married and will be together, until a proper leader for your people is born. Then they will resume their places as agents of the darkness."

"It shall be as you say, great one," said Shankin as she and Marinka bowed and left the room.

"How long you think the two of them will last?" Pete asked, "if Katarina and Nikolai get married, they'll be tryin' to kill each other before the honeymoon is over."

"That may be," said Maleficent, "but if they do conceive a child, I predict that such a child will have dark powers the likes of which this universe has not seen," she smiled with malicious anticipation, "Perhaps he or she may even surpass my power."

"That ain't gonna happen!" said Pete boldly, "you're the real boss around here, everyone knows it. No little punk who doesn't even exist yet is gonna trump you."

"Nothing is forever," said Maelficet, "not even me. Only the darkness is everlasting. There will come a time when I will tire of rule and will seek an heir. Perhaps this child that has yet to be conceived may just be the heir I will desire. But that is for the future," she pointed at the still unconscious Pantyhose Taro, "that one will be dealt with now."

Pete slumped Pantyhose Taro onto the floor, while a lesser Hakonian warlock revived him.

"You have failed me, Pantyhose Taro," said Maleficent to the dark martial artist as he came around, "and for that you shall be punished."

"It's not my fault!" said Pantyhose Taro as he stood up, "it's all that cross-dressing freak's fault, him and his freaky friends! Just give me another shot at it and I'll bring Saotome to you."

"I will have Ranma Saotome," said Maleficent, "but it seems that I'll have to wait. You have proven yourself to be highly unreliable as a servant of the darkness. As you are now, what with your lack of self control, you're little more than a liability. You allowed your anger to interfere with the mission. You said that you would kill Ranma instead of retrieving him."

"So I lost my temper," said Pantyhose Taro in a nonchalant, "it happens all the time. I'll get Saotome for you, alive."

"I said that you will not," said Maleficent, "not as you are now."

"What, are you going to make me take anger management classes?" Pantyhose Taro asked, "if that'll help me get a new name, then I'll do it."

"Oh you will have a new name," said Maleficent, "but you won't receive it the way you think you will."

"What are you talking about?" Pantyhose Taro asked, "you've got Happosai locked up in the dungeons. He'll have to change my name if he wants to keep receiving the perversions that keep him alive."

"I have my own plans for the old man," said Maleficent. "As for you, boy, you are about to learn that I have no tolerance for failure of any kind." She then set her dark magic onto the martial artist from Earth.

"What are you doing to me?" he asked as the darkness began to saturate his body.

"Soon you shall see," said Maleficent as she teleported herself and Pantyhose Taro out onto the balcony. "Your heart, already deep in the darkness, has been further cast downward. It's only a matter of time before you become a Heartless and a Nobody, for someone such as you would surely have a strong will. You will serve me as both Heartless and Nobody, and you will serve without failure!"

"You bitch!" spat Pantyhose Taro, "I'll kill you for this!" he then screamed in agony as his heart was completely consumed by the darkness. A large mass of dark energy escaped from his body and hovered several yards in the air above, and in the center of that dark energy mass was a dark purple crystal heart

Pantyhose Taro's body then changed. His hair turned completely white, while his face took on a more angular tone and his eyes turned pale orange. His clothes changed to that of a green and purple martial artist outfit.

"You are no longer Pantyhose Taro," said Maleficent as she summoned a large mirror, "you are no longer even a human being, but a Nobody," the white ring on her staff flashed, "and you will obey me."

The Nobody that was Pantyhose Taro saw his reflection, "no, you…you can't do this to me."

"I already have," said Maleficent, "you are already mine, Xorat. That is your name from now on; Xorat."

"Xorat," said the Nobody as the dark magic of the control ring on Maleficent's staff worked its mojo on him, "yes, yes. I am Xorat," he faced Maleficent, "what do you wish of me?"

"As of now, nothing yet," said Maleficent, "I will have need of you soon enough. For now, go to the castle's training rooms. There you are to perfect your abilities, for you shall soon need them."

"I obey," said the Nobody, Xorat. He bowed and went back inside.

Maleficent then looked up and saw that the mass of dark energy around the crystal heart had condensed into the chimera creature that Pantyhose Taro became whenever he touched cold water.

The creature flew down to the balcony and knelt before Maleficent.

"Soon I will have a purpose for you, my magnificent monster," said Maleficent as she touched the creature's head, "my Mark 2 Chimericon." She called for several mid-level Hakonians who had the role of scientists, "take this lovely abomination to the laboratories and…improve it."

"It shall be done, great one," said one of the Hakonian scientists. They lead the creature back inside.

"Now, my pet," said Maleficent to her raven, "if only we could figure out who has been sending those horrible messages. I swear that when I learn the identity of this twisted prankster, he or she will suffer the likes of which that will be legendary, even in hell."

Just then the whole castle shook from an explosion that originated from the lower levels.

"Now what?" Maleficent demanded.

Pete and several goblin guards rushed out onto the balcony, "uh…we got trouble!" shouted Pete, "the old pervert, he just escaped!"

"What!" exclaimed Maleficent. She teleported down to the dungeons and saw a large hole in the wall that lead outside. She then saw the empty cage that held Happosai. Inside the cage was a large sign that had the familiar three words…

L. Lawlett Lives

"Who is responsible for this travesty!" shouted Maleficent as dark lightning crackled from her staff, "heads will roll for this fiasco!"

Pete nervously sweated, fearing for his life. But then one of the lesser Hakonians, one assigned to castle security, ran up to Pete and handed him several photographs. Pete looked at the photos and grinned eagerly.

"You want to know who sprung the old man?" Pete asked in a swaggering manner, "the one who's been sendin' you those messages that's been drivin' you up the wall?"

"Tell me!" snapped Maleficent, "or I'll show you just how many ways you can skin a cat!"

"It was that other old man!" said Pete as he nervously handed the photos to Maleficent, "the guy who messed up that Kingdom Hearts moon that Xemnes made. The guy is that Ansem guy!"

"Ansem the Wise?" Maleficent asked in a confused tone as she looked at the photos. Sure enough, the first one showed Ansem talking to Happosai, who was at the time still in the cage. The next picture showed Happosai and Ansem shaking hands through the bars of the cage.

The third picture showed Ansem opening the cage and the last photo showed Happosai outside of the cage, while Ansem planted the message on the wall.

"That old geezer broke into the closet where they kept his dirty magazines," said Pete, "he got some of his mojo back, then he blew away a lot of Heartless. Then some Hakonians tried to stop him. He then bashed them heads in and molested the girl Hakonians, and that really recharged his mojo. Then the old guy, I don't know where he got that oversized firecracker, but he blew a hole in the wall and he and the other old guy, they got away."

"Well don't just stand there looking like the imbecile you are!" said Maleficent, "send a patrol after them! I want them both brought back alive!"

Pete hastily saluted then faced the large group of lesser Hakonians that had gathered, "you heard the boss lady! Go after them!" the lesser Hakonians saluted then went to work.

"Where you got that oversized cherry bomb, I will never know," said Ansem the Wise as he and Happosai made their way through the streets of the dark city towards the portal that would take them to the simulated Twilight Town, and then from there to the real Twilight Town.

"It's an easy technique," said Happosai, "using ki energy to create subspace pockets that can be used to store anything. Those goons of Maleficent could search me inside and out over and over, but they'll never find all of my stuff."

"I fear to wonder what else you have hidden up your sleeves," said Ansem.

"You'd be surprised," said Happosai. They then reached the portal and were about to go through, but Ansem stopped Happosai

"There's something we need to do first before we finally take our leave of this terrible place," said Ansem, "or rather, someone we need to speak to."

"Who could you possibly want to talk to on this messed up world?" Happosai asked.

"That would be me," said a female voice. From the shadows emerged a girl in her late teens with short light blue hair and blue eyes. She wore a black, form fitting shoulder less top with white, wide sleeves that started below the shoulder and fingerless gloves on her hands. She also wore black stockings and silver-colored shoes. Around her waist was a white cloth belt that had two longer cloths down her sides. On the elbows of her sleeves were metal devices.

"You've got him out," said the girl to Ansem as she gave an annoyed look towards Happosai, who, in his own perverted mind, took that as an invitation to his kind of entertainment.

"Oh sweeto!" exclaimed Happosai as he, with hearts in his yes, instinctively leapt at the girl and tried to latch onto her prominent bosom. But the girl merely raised her hand and projected a shield that blocked the old pervert. He bounced off of the shield and landed hard on his rump.

"What the hell!" exclaimed Happosai angrily as he got back up, "can't an old man have any fun anymore?"

"Not when it comes to molesting women," said the girl in an irate tone. She glared at Ansem, "are you sure that this is the one Ryuzakiwants?"

"I heard the instructions myself," said Ansem, "I'm sorry, my dear friend, but Happosai gets his pass to freedom."

"If he's as big a pain in the ass as I've heard," said the girl, "then the realms are better off without him."

"I didn't ask to come to this messed up universe," said Happosai, "I was kidnapped by Maleficent's goons. And just who the hell are you anyway? And how'd you block me like that? I haven't seen anything like that before, except from that Sora kid."

"For your information?" the girl said, "my name is Aqua, and like Sora and his friends, I have certain powers."

"You're another Keyblade Wielder?" Happosai asked.

"I earned my Mark of Mastery," said Aqua, "I am a true Keyblade Master."

"Well now," said an impressed Happosai, "you don't see too many of those nowadays. I happen to be the creator of the Anything Goes style of martial arts. We should totally date."

"Sorry," said Aqua, "I'm not into the whole May-December relationship thing."

"It's your loss, sweet pie," said Happosai, "so, you're leaving this rotten world with us?"

"Aqua isn't coming with us," said Ansem. He then looked at her, "unless you've changed your mind since we last spoke."

"I can't leave yet," said Aqua in a regretful manner, "I want to. You have no idea how much I want to leave this world of darkness and walk in the light again. But there are still some things I have to finish first, one of which is to make sure that Maleficent pays for what she's done."

"We've already undermined her sanity," said Ansem, "it's only a matter of time before she becomes so irrational that anyone can destroy her."

"But that could take years," said Aqua, "from what you've told me, Sora and his friends are nowhere near ready to take on Maleficent. Like you said, her sanity has begun to crumble, but that can make things worse. And then there are those demons that have been seen in the realms; what do they have to do with all that's been going on?

"No, I have to stay here until I have the answers I seek, as well as make sure that Maleficent gets what she deserves. She has to pay for what she put Terra and Ven through."

"I understand your feelings," said Ansem, "the light knows you've earned the right to claim justice, but be careful that your desires do not become obsessions. I nearly destroyed myself with my obsessions with the darkness.

"And then of course, there were my apprentices who became Organization XIII because of their own obsessions with the darkness, especially young Xehanort, whom you knew as someone else."

"Terra," said Aqua in a tone full of heartache, "if only I could have gotten to him sooner, I could have stopped Master Xehanort from possessing him." She sighed with remorse, but then adopted an expression of seriousness, "but what's done is done. If anyone can undo the evil that Master Xehanort did and save Terra from the darkness, it's Sora.

"And Sora can also wake up Ven, who's still sleeping in that chamber I left him in that castle that appeared where our home was, Castle Oblivion, that's what it's called now, right?"

"True," said Ansem, "so much depends on Sora. There will come a time in the near future when Sora will have to make a difficult choice, a choice that could save all that exists in the light, or plunge everything into eternal darkness. He will be forced to choose between what he knows is right in his mind and what he knows is right in his heart. The question is, will he be able to make the right choice, or the easy choice?"

"I don't think anyone of us can know the answer to that," said Aqua, "all we can do is carry on and hope for the best."

"Then I hope that you will soon have the answers that you seek," said Ansem, "and that you will finally be able to leave the darkness and walk in the light again."

"I hope so," said Aqua. She then tensed, as if sensing something, "they know you've escaped by now. They'll search the city, you and the old one need to go, now!"

"But what about you?" Happosai asked, "where will you go?"

"I've stayed alive in this dark realm for over ten years," said Aqua, "apparently, time has no meaning in this world that shouldn't even exist, so I can stay alive and safe for a bit longer. The Organization couldn't find me, and Maleficent's minions haven't found me either, so I'll be right," she looked at Ansem, "take care, Ansem the Wise." With that she vanished into the shadows.

"Take care," said Ansem, "Master Aqua."

"That really was strange," said Happosai, "but, I'm hundreds of years old, so I've seen more than my fair share of strangeness."

"There's always more strangeness to experience," said Ansem, "I hope you're ready to see more."

"I'm always ready," said Happosai, "wait, before we go through this portal thing, I just want to know one thing."

"Why did I help you escape?" Ansem asked for him, "I did it because my benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous for now, believes that you can be a valuable ally in the fight against the darkness. He also believes that your escape will further unhinge Maleficent's already unstable sanity."

"Oh, I'll drive her crazy alright," said Happosai as he grinned eagerly, "give me the chance and I'll show her what a real reign of terror can be like. But that's not the only reasons you busted me out. You've got personal reasons."

"True," said Ansem, "I've heard of your exploits on Earth, some more shocking than others, while some are downright evil. Yet I believe that there is good in you, Happosai of the Anything Goes style. I believe that there is light in that heart of yours."

"I did have light in me," said Happosai in a reminiscing tone, "my nickname happens to be Happy," he sighed, "I'm hundreds of years old, and I've done a lot of naughty things in those years, most of which I wish I could take back.

"But one thing I would do anything to take back was getting involved with Maleficent in the first place. I remember now how it all happened. I was a young man once, very young, and very much in love with a young Amazon."

"The current Amazon Matriarch," said Ansem, "Cologne."

"Well, looks who's done his homework," said Happosai, "yes, I loved Cologne, but she only saw me as a friend. The fact that I was a pervert even as a teenager only drove her heart further away from me.

"But then this weird sorceress shows up and says that she could make Cologne fall in love with me if I would do her a favor. I was desperate enough to say yes. But then I found out that the favor involved spreading darkness across the world, so I said no and ran for it. Maleficent chased after me, but I ran until she grew tired of chasing. I later went back to the Amazon village and tried to explain things to Cologne, but she found out what I nearly did, and so did the village elders. They banished me from the village under pain of death, not to mention that they had other reasons to get rid of me, which I won't talk about right now. To make a long story short, I left and didn't see Cologne again for well over 200 years. By then we were both so old we didn't recognize each other."

He sighed again and looked up at Ansem, "your benefactor thinks I can help defeat the darkness. I'll do it, but I want a few things understood between me and him, whoever he is.

"First of all, don't expect me to change who I am. I've been a pervert for far too long to change any time soon. Second, I fight my own way with my own plans. I'll go after Heartless and those other things, Nobodies, and those Hakonian bastards if I run into them, but I do it when I want to."

"Fair enough," said Ansem, "but you must understand that eventually you will run into those you've had encounters with before on Earth."

"Ranma and his friends," said Happosai, "well," he crossed his arms in a disgruntled manner, "I won't start anything with them. Any trouble gets started, it'll be their doing."

"Again, fair," said Ansem.

Just then the sound of braying canine Heartless could be heard. "They'll catch up with us soon," said Ansem, "we should go."

"Then let's get out of here," said Happosai, "this place makes me sick." With that they jumped through the portal and into the corridor of swirling colors, emerging in the digital computer room with the computer consul that Roxas smashed.

"What happened here?" Happosai asked.

"It's a long story," said Ansem, "to summarize, I was forced to ruin a young man's summer vacation."

"That's all?" Happosai asked, "that's nothing to the terrible things I did."

Ansem then pointed at the hovering ball of light in one of the corners, "this will take us to our true destination," he said.

"Then let's get it over with," said Happosai. With that the two of them walked into the portal and emerged in the real computer room. Waiting for them was a man in his mid twenties wearing a black suit and tie with a gray overcoat. He had black hair and a black handlebar moustache.

"Welcome back to the Realms of Light, Ansem the Wise," said the man, "judging from your companion, your final mission in New Hollow Bastion was a success."

"A complete success," said Ansem, "Happosai of the Anything Goes Style, this is my benefactor, whom wishes to be called Young Watari."

"Is there an Old Watari?" Happosai asked.

"There was," said Young Watari, "long ago. He died in the service of justice while working for the one man who meant more than a son to him, L. Lawlett. And like my predecessor, I now work for L. Lawlett, or just L, but his friends can call him Ryuzaki"

"Just who is L?" Happosai asked, "and why is Maleficent so hung up about him?" he smiled wickedly, "he didn't happen to do anything naughty, did he?"

"L is a great man!" said an irate Young Watari, "a brilliant man who exists in multiple universes. On one world he is a scientist dedicated to bettering humanity. In another he is a doctor sworn to save lives. In one world, he was a master detective who gave his life trying to solve the case of a serial murderer who killed criminals via supernatural means.

"This version of L is another detective who swore an oath to bring Maleficent to justice. He, like the other detective L, also known as Ryuzaki to his friends, had a Watari working with him. The L of this universe had to let the universe, and Maleficent, believe he was dead when he battled Maleficent several years ago. Old Watari died saving his life, and now the duty of helping L falls to me."

"I see," said Happosai. He crossed his arms, "but what does L want with me?"

"L wants you to use all your powers and abilities to oppose Maleficent and her minions," said Young Watari, "be they Heartless, Nobody, Hakonian, demon or other."

"Then I'll do it," said Happosai, "but I do it my way."

"Fair enough," said Young Watari as he held out his hand, which Happosai shook.

Young Watari then took out a laptop computer, turned it on and activated a program. A white screen with a large black L appeared.

"It's done, sir," said Young Watari to the computer, "Ansem has returned with the man you requested."

"That's great, Watari," said a digitally altered voice from the computer, "and the last message has been delivered by Ansem?"

"I placed the sign right were Maleficent could see it," said Ansem, "as you asked, I told Aqua that she could come with us, but she refused."

"That can't be helped," said the voice, L, "She has her reasons to stay in the dark, so all we can do for her is give her time, until the right person comes along and shows her way back to the light. But that's for later; now we can move onto the next phase of the plan. Watari…you know what to do."

"Yes, L," said Young Watari. He then went to the computer consul and entered a command that closed the white sphere portal, "I've just saved and closed the simulated Twilight Town program. We can access it any time we wish, but Maleficent and her minions can never use it, ever."

"And any of us can access and enter the simulation," said Ansem, "I owe it to Roxas. He deserves the chance to visit his digital friends again."

"At the same time," said Young Watari as he entered another command at the main computer, "I've activated a force field around the mansion. No dark creature, be it Heartless, Nobody or other, can enter the house and access its secrets."

"That's great and all," said Happosai, "but what's the next phase of the plan? And what is the plan anyway?"

"It all depends on when Sora and his friends head out into the worlds again," said L, "and from there, how soon they reach Radiant Garden in time to meet some new allies that will be of great help to them. Then the real plan can go to action."

Back in New Hollow Bastion, Pete walked down the castle corridors towards the armory. He intended to pick out the biggest club he could find, but someone called out to him from behind a corner.

"Pete!" said a whispering voice, "over here!"

Pete turned around and saw Reddik and Rakel standing there. Both of them had several bags packed.

"What are you two guys doin' here!" Pete asked in a frantic and hushed tone, "dontcha know that Maleficent's gonna slowly rip you to pieces if she finds you!"

"Which is why we had to be careful when we came back for our stuff," said Reddik. He then vanished the luggage, "and to say goodbye."

"We Hakonians are known for our Villainy," said Rakel, "but we also value true friendship. Pete, you've been a true friend to us, and we will never forget you."

"Uh…gee, thanks," said a slightly confused Pete, "I won't forget you crazy kooks either. Now you got to get out of here before security sees you."

"I had a virus spell prepared for the security systems for an occasion such as this," said Reddik.

"And I saturated the corridors for several meters from here with a compulsion spell to go somewhere else," said Rakel, "we won't be disturbed until we're done talking."

"We want to ask you to come with us, Pete," said Reddik, "Rakel and I are heading out on our own, but we decided that if you want to, you're more than welcome."

"We like you, Pete," said Rakel, "for a Villain, you're okay. You helped me when we were chasing after The Keyblade Brats."

"Which you did because I asked you to," said Reddik, "you did me a favor, now we want to do you a favor."

"Wow," said Pete, "that…you guys really like me?"

"That's what we just said," said Reddik."

"And you want me to go with you," said Pete, "I'd like to, but I can't leave! Maleficent will turn me inside out and feed me to the goblins!"

"Which is why you should leave!" said Rakel, "while we were traveling you told me how horrible she treats you. Sure, you've got your faults, but at least you don't try to cover them up like Konrad and Erika did, may they rest in damnation forever.

"And here's another reason to leave. You told me that you have a family; a wife, a son and a little girl. We can come back for them and you all can go somewhere safe. You think your children have a future as slaves to Maleficent?"

"Least they'll have a future," said Pete, "if I leave they'll be ripped apart, burned, dumped in acid, skinned and worn like fur coats, if they're lucky, in that order. I can't abandon the wife and the kids, the wife would kill me first."

"There's no point in arguing with him," said Reddik, "he's decided."

"Then we're decided as well," said Rakel, "alright, Pete, we'll go without you. But if you change your mind, just send a letter through the Moogles, they'll know how to find us. If we can, we'll get your family out as well, but right now it has to be Reddik and me."

"Why you doing this?" Pete asked, "why are you leaving?"

"I guess it's because we're freaks among Villains," said Reddik, "Rakel and I are in love, and love among Hakonians highly frowned upon. Lust is okay, so is mating for procreation and pleasure, but not love."

"So we're heading out for the unknown," said Rakel, "the two of us against the universe, well, three actually."

Just then the demon familiar Kichot scurried up the corridors to them, "Mistress Rakel!" the little demon said, "I knew you wouldn't abandon me!"

"I made a pact with you when I took you on as my familiar," said Rakel as she picked up Kichot and placed him on her shoulder, "we're stuck together."

"This is goodbye, Pete," said Reddik, "until our next meeting."

"Yeah, good luck you guys," said Pete.

"We don't believe in luck," said Rakel. With that she, Reddik and Kichot teleported out, leaving a still slightly confused Pete. He scratched his head, then shrugged his shoulders and went back towards the armory as if nothing happened.

…Disney Castle…

"Oh, Naminé," said Sora, "I can't believe I forgot. There's something I've been meaning to ask you."

"What is it, Sora?" Naminé asked.

"When I woke up from being asleep for a year," said Sora, "Jiminys'

Journal was blank except for two words; 'Thank Naminé.' But for what?"

At that Naminé smiled, but her smile was half angry, "for fixing your memories, of course!"

"Organization XIII had her mess with your memories so that you would gather hearts for Xemnes," said Roxas, "I should know, I had your memories in my head for a while."

"Oh," said Sora in a deflated tone, "oh, right," he then looked at Naminé, "than you, Naminé, thank you so much for fixing my brain."

"And our brains as well," said Goofy, "we were sleeping for a year also."

"Wish your brain could be fixed, ya big palooka," said Donald.

"Well I'm just glad you finally remembered," said Naminé, "you lazy bum."

"That's what I call him," said Kairi.

"But we're the same in many ways," said Naminé.

"True," said Kairi.

"I just heard from Cid," said King Mickey, "he'll be here with the new Gummy ship in a few minutes."

"That's great," said Sora, "first stop has to be Neverland. I owe Tink a visit."

"Then we'll go to Atlantica," said Kairi, "I want to give being a mermaid another try."

"Not me," said Riku, "I like being a biped, thank you very much."

"I don't know much about mermaids," said Tess, "but from what I heard about them, I don't want to be one. No thanks."

"I'm starting to think I may want to give having a tail a try," said Aiden.

"Well then you're going to love The Pride Lands," said Sora.

"Sora," said Ranma, "I…I talked with Sara, and she and I both agree that, if it's okay with you guys, I can go with her to her world for a while."

"We figure that maybe The Moochick would know something about how to cure Ranma's curse," said Sara, "and maybe Ranma can help with whatever trouble is coming to Dream Valley. If it's as big a trouble as I hope it isn't, then my friends and I are going to need all the help we can get."

"Absolutely it's okay that Ranma can go with you," said a smiling Kairi, "it'll be good for both of you to work together." At that Sora, Riku and Aiden nodded in agreement.

"You sure it's okay that I leave?" Ranma asked, "that I leave the team?"

"Well, you really weren't a full member of the team anyway," said Riku, "just a friend who wanted to help, and you did, a lot."

"But now you're needed elsewhere," said Sora.

"Think of this as part of your own journey," said Aiden.

"My own journey," said Ranma as he smiled hopefully, "yeah."

"Just so long as you remember to come back," said Riku, "we never did see which of us is the strongest."

"I'll be back in time for the next tournament," said Ranma as he and Riku shook on that promise, "believe it."

"Now you sound like Naruto," said Sora. At that he, Riku and Kairi laughed.

"You know," said a slightly annoyed Aiden, "one of these days you're going to have to take me to all these places and meet all these people you met before you met me."

"Same here," said Ranma.

"We'll get to all of it eventually," said Sora.

Everyone then said goodbye to Ranma and Sara. She then held up the heart-shaped locket and opened it. From the locket emerged a stream of rainbow-colored magic, The Rainbow of Light. It swirled around the room for a few seconds while Sara closed her eyes and focused her own magic.

The Rainbow of Light then began to form a circle in front of Sara. Faster and faster the rainbow circle spun until it flashed and became a large rainbow-colored portal.

"That's the way I came from Dream Valley," said Sara. She then looked at Ranma, "I hope you've got a good memory for names, because there are dozens of Little Ponies I want to introduce you to."

"I'm pretty good at remembering names," said Ranma.

"Good," said a smiling Sara, "'cause I also want you to meet all the Baby Ponies, the Sea Ponies, the Flutter Ponies, and let's not forget The Bushwoolies."

"Bushwoolies?" Ranma asked as he and Sara walked through the portal, which vanished after them.

"What are Bushwoolies?" Aiden asked, "we didn't see them during our visit to Dream Valley."

"I'm sure we'll meet them the next time we visit Dream Valley," said Sora, "but first thing's first. As soon as Cid gets here with the new Gummy Ship, we'll go to Neverland."

"If Cid ever get's here," said Aiden.

Just then the sound of a Gummy ship landing in the Gummy Hanger could be heard.

"That would be my friend Cid," said a grinning Sora, "let's go!" With that he ran for the Gummy Hanger.

"Is this normal?" Tess asked Riku, while Kairi, Donald, Goofy and Aiden ran after Sora.

"Pretty much," said Riku as they hurried after the others, "any regrets?"

"If you're asking if I wished I had stayed in Meridian as a vengeance-driven maniac," said Tess, "that I had never met you crazy people, then no," she smiled, "I have no regrets. Right now I'm the happiest I've ever been in a long time, and I like it."

"I'm glad," said Riku.

The end of Volume 8.

And that's it, boys and girls, my Kingdom Hearts/W.I.T.C.H. crossover! I'll do another W.I.T.C.H. fic someday when I get inspired, and I'll eventually do a My Little Pony/Ranma crossover that'll cover the adventures and eventual romantic relationship between Ranma and Sara.

As for Sora and his friends, little do they know that their next adventure will be so out of this world it'll have to take place in deep space. Next time will cross with one of the best science fiction anime ever, Space Battleship Yamato.

So stay tuned for Beyond the Door to Light Volume 9: The Yamato Encounter.

See you then!