Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts and this piece of work is not for any sort of commercial gain. If you paid for this, you were ripped off.


Counting Stars


A father and his son lay on their backs on a sandy beach somewhere far from the town looking up at a clear night sky. The star field above them glittered like a cave of diamonds and the full moon illuminated a path on the water. The only sounds that could be heard for miles were the gentle crashing of waves, the harmonious humming of insects and the occasional calls of the night birds.

The little boy gazed at the stars in wonder. He tried to count them all but he always found that time always ran out before he counted the final one. His father watched with paternal pride as his five-year-old boy counted. The child was a genius. He had only just started school and had already worked out how to count well into the thousands. For a child to comprehend something so large was astounding when even a man his age couldn't fathom such enormous figures. What would one person do with such large numbers? What on earth would you count with numbers like one hundred thousand, one million, one billion or even one trillion? There wasn't enough of anything on the Islands to warrant such enormous concepts; not enough people, not enough animals, not enough birds, probably not enough fish, not enough trees, not enough money and nowhere near enough islands. Yet his son embraced numbers and counting with zeal, even working out a complex system of recording his numbers using only his fingers. He smiled while he gazed at his only child, blissfully counting stars. He was up to six hundred and twenty-four when all of a sudden he stopped and stared at the sky in shock. His father turned to the night sky and scanned it. If there was something there he either couldn't see it or he'd missed it.

"Dad, did you see that?" the little boy whispered.

"What is it, son?"

"A star! One of the stars just fell out of the sky!" the boy said in a voice laden with worry. "Should we go and find it and put it back?"

His father chuckled. "No, leave it be. That's called a shooting star. It's rare that you ever get to see one. You're very lucky."

"But what about the star?"

"Nobody knows where they end up. Nobody has ever found a shooting star once it's landed. But they do say that whenever you see one, you can make one wish."

The little boy stared at the sky in awe, forgetting his counting and putting his hands down to rest on his stomach. "If the stars don't land here, where do they go?"

"Perhaps they fall into the deep ocean when nobody is looking."

"But what if it isn't falling? What if it's just flying because it wants to get somewhere else?"

The man pursed his lips. "I never thought about it like that before?"

"Is it possible?"


The little boy pondered that. He reached up as high as his little arms could, spreading his fingers towards the sky. "Dad, how far away is the sky?"

"It's a very long way up," his father answered surely.

"But how far?" the boy pressed.

"I don't know. It's not really important."

"But it is! I wanna know how far away the sky is!" the child whined. "Is it one thousand kilometres? Or ten thousand? Or five hundred thousand? Or twenty million? Or five hundred and fifty-eight squillion?"

His father set his lips in a hard line. Was squillion even a number? The boy liked numbers and finding out the names of newer, bigger numbers so maybe it was. But he couldn't comprehend that anything further away than one thousand kilometres. "I don't know," he answered again but he did so with a smile. An old man like him was content with all that he had but his curious son had such big questions. Wonder was wonderful, he thought, and he was happy to encourage his son to think big. "Perhaps when you're older you can become a scientist and you'll dedicate your life to answering questions like that."

His son smiled broadly and laughed. "Yeah, that would be cool." He dropped his hands, letting his arms fall onto the sand. "One day I wanna fly all the way up to the sky and then I'll say: 'yep, now I know how far away the sky is'. Then I'll go to all the stars and count them."

"I'm sure by then you'll know enough numbers to count every single one," his father said with a good humoured chuckle. The man sat up, checking his watch. "It's quite late now. Your mother will probably want you in bed, young man."

He pressed the child's nose playfully and the boy giggled. "Okay, dad."

They booth stood up and brushed the sand of themselves. The man patted the boy on the head, smiling down at his precious son. "Let's go, Xehanort."

A ten-year-old boy in his first year of high school stood on the edge of an amazing coral atoll. There were several of them just off the northern coast of the main island. The northern coast dropped off dramatically into the sea and the drop went so deep that it was impossible to reach the bottom. Here, these unusual atolls had risen out of the deep with strange, enormous corals reaching high into the sky like branches; twisting into spirals, curving, splaying, arching. It was as though they had been built by magic. They were completely dead, bleached snow white by the hot sun, but their form and tremendous size awed any who gazed upon them.

In the middle of each atoll was a lagoon. Some of them still supported life – healthy coral, fishes, crustaceans; vertebrates and invertebrates of all kinds. And they were all so different from anything else that could be found around the islands, as if a piece of another world had been sampled and placed in the middle of the sea right next door.

The boy photographed a hermit crab as it scuttled across the white sand, shells and bones that covered the exposed ridges of the atolls. He had homework to do and he knew his parents and teachers would be cross at him if he didn't complete it again. He'd given up completing homework for the first time in a few months because he'd learnt all of the coursework already. He sped through the chapter on light and waves in physics, he understood everything that the chemistry textbook had said about metals, he was so good at maths that he could calculate the trigonometric problems at a glance, he'd already read the prescribed novel for the current module in literature studies (he hadn't analysed it though, he didn't like literature studies), he found the module on cells and cell structure in biology too easy and he was the only person in his geography class who wasn't struggling. So, he engaged himself with his own little field projects. His current project was to document all of the creatures on the atolls.

Today, though, he had another plan. There wasn't much to view on the surface of the atolls. He put his camera down somewhere safe in the shade, put on a pair of goggles and stripped off his shirt and shoes. Climbing on top of a stone outcrop he dived into the lagoon, breaking through the cool skin of the salty water like a portal. There wasn't much to look at in this lagoon. It had a soft, sandy bottom with a thick ring of seagrass around the edge. Small silver fish flitted around and little marine crabs crawled across the sandy bottom, occasionally disturbing a strange seaweed-like creature that lived in a small hole and reached up into the water like little hands. It looked like a plant but it was clearly alive because even the slightest disturbance would cause it to curl up its fingers and shoot back under the sand.

The boy floated aimlessly above it, wishing that he had one of those new, expensive cameras that could photograph things underwater. Every atoll was beautiful in its own right and this one was no exception. The creatures in them were so alien, like they really shouldn't belong to this world. The seaweed creatures ducked into their burrows when his shadow passed over them. This lagoon was quite shallow and the sun beat relentlessly through the water's surface to light the floor as brightly as it did the shore.

As he began to float upwards he turned over, letting the air out of his lungs in a stream of bubbles before his face broke the surface and he took a breath. He opened his eyes, staring up at a cloudless expanse of blue. That colour seemed to go on forever and ever. It was just a ruse (as he was learning from his textbooks) that happened during the day. It was only at night that the true sky was shown to the world, deep in the darkness when the people of the island rarely bothered to appreciate it. The toneless black of the night kept its secrets well, never letting on just how far it could really stretch. Floating on the surface of the sea, the boy wanted to reach out and touch the sky above him…

Until something else – thin, cold and slimy – touched him, stroking his back and the back of his legs. He whirled around in surprise but the seaweed creatures weren't quick enough in their retreat. The boy almost lost his air immediately as he stared down at the sandy bottom completely dumbfounded. Those seaweed creatures had grown longer than he'd ever seen them. On days when he decided to swim in the atolls he only ever saw them creep up to thirty centimetres above their burrows and that was enough for them. Now, however, as he lay suspended above them and stayed completely still they crept further. In the darkness of his shadow they grew. Longer and longer, larger branches began to push out of the sand and tiny little stalks with blinking bulbs at the end appeared, twitching this way and that (they must have been eyes). Any branch that strayed into the light shrunk away immediately. Just to experiment, the boy shifted in the water, letting the light fall onto this enlarged seaweed creature. It shrunk back into its burrow as he predicted.

He lifted his head out of the water and took a breath before swimming back to shore. He climbed onto the rock and lay there under the sun to dry. He couldn't help but smile with glee at his discovery: the seaweed creatures that only showed their full form in the darkness. That was incredible. How many of them were really living at the bottom of this atoll? What did this place look like on a moonless night when the creatures could stretch their limbs freely? He wanted to know, he wanted to see.

Maybe, he thought, this world is not as small as it seems.

A fifteen-year-old boy sat on the shore of the tiny uninhabited island to the south of the main island. He actually hated the little island. There was nothing he found particularly interesting about it; the plants weren't exotic, the animals, birds and fish were all common and familiar, there were no reefs hiding new and exciting things. The only aspect of the island that had any appeal to him whatsoever was the fact that it was secluded. Nobody wanted to be on the boring little island with all of its common little creatures and features. Yet it was a place where he could think. The waves washing calmly up the beach set a rhythm that lulled him into a state of meditation.

They'd called him mad and laughed at him – his teachers and lecturers, his classmates, the whole island. Just because he'd said that he wanted to one day build a machine that would take him to the stars and then beyond, to the limit of the sky. They all said it was impossible because of gravity, because of money, because of materials, because of whatever excuse they could deign to think up. It made him sick. He lived in a limited world with limited imagination.

An eerie sound like the wind was blowing through an opening reached his ears and made him scrunch up his face. That was another thing that he didn't like about this island – that noise. He turned around and glared at that little cave just beside the waterfall. He guessed that that was where it was coming from. Usually he tried to ignore it but it had been an awful day and he wanted to put a stop to the sound. If that meant he had to destroy something, then that was even better.

He got up and made his way over to the cave. It was a tight squeeze to get through the opening but the blustery gust coming out of it confirmed his suspicions. It didn't take long to reach a part of the cave where he could stand up fully and then it was only a few steps before the narrow cave opened up into a bright cavern. Light and wind streamed in through a large hole in the ceiling. Brown roots broke through the grey rock in a few places but other than that the cave was completely untouched. The only thing that was slightly out of place was the wooden door on the other side.

Originally Xehanort was plotting to just somehow make the tunnel cave in but the door intrigued him. He crossed the sandy floor of the cave, bathed in the sunlight until he reached the door. He put his hand against it. It was cool and smooth, a beautifully polished but plain piece of woodwork with a pure white stone doorframe. It looked like it was brand new but all of the signs told him that nobody had ever been here. There was no handle that he could find. He pushed on it gently.

The door swung open suddenly and a world of darkness rushed up to meet him. He screamed in fear as they shadows suddenly engulfed him but a bright light pierced the darkness right in front of him. It swelled at a tremendous rate and blinded him with its brilliance. A universe of information flooded his mind at a pace that he couldn't keep up with but he caught glimpses of alien species, ringed spheres floating in a night sky, magic so advanced it was beyond his immediate comprehension; worlds under the sea, worlds covered in sand with no sea, curious worlds where nothing made sense and even a world inside a giant whale.

The door slammed closed in his face. His legs ached and his knees wobbled. He collapsed on the sand. The information had been too much for his brain to recall but he could still remember the feeling of having all of that knowledge. He was sure that he'd just seen the world beyond the islands, up amongst the stars. It was incredible. He scrambled to his feet and wriggled out of the cave.

On the beach he found that he must have been standing there for hours. It was already late evening and in the sky there was a dazzling meteor shower. Unlike the others, this shower seemed so much closer, like it was actually going to rain upon the earth. And this time he could clearly see; see that he was right all along. The stars were so far away and nestled among them were other worlds, other places and other people just waiting for him – waiting for him to step off this wretched, hot, sandy rock and step into their domains. He screamed to them:

"I'm ready! I'm ready to see the stars! I'm ready to wield the power and knowledge this universe can offer!"

There was a bright flash that he caught only a mere glimpse of in the corner of his eye. He lifted his right hand in front of him and grinned maniacally. He didn't yet know what this strange object was but he could feel its power and wisdom pulsing through him. Here in his hands he already had the power to meet the universe head on and conquer its secrets.

The Keyblade had come to him.