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Small groans escaped Kairi's lips as she finally found herself regaining consciousness. The last thing she remembered was a giant walking mouse grabbing her hand and holding up some weird stone. Then, a flash of white blinded her and she knew no more. Slowly pushing herself off the ground, Kairi sat up and tried to gather her bearings. The stone walls of the room were a muted green and adorned with several wooden shelves stocked with important-looking books. A large wooden desk sat in the middle of the room with one more enormous book. What really caught Kairi's attention were the windows; there were only two on the other side of the room, one was shaped like a star, the other resembled a crescent moon. Outside the unique windows, Kairi could see a dark blue sky studded with stars. Off in the distance, however, the sky suddenly faded to a bright gold and orange.
Standing up, Kairi scanned the mysterious room again. She was alone. Somehow, this fact made Kairi more nervous than if she'd woken up in a room full of strangers. Right now she wasn't sure if she'd been kidnapped by some other wicked force, or if the mysterious mouse had indeed taken her to a safe place. Or why he'd taken her at all – why had the Organization cornered her?
Out of nowhere, a series of friendly-sounding voices entered Kairi's ears, prompting the girl to tense up, preparing to attack if necessary. Seconds later, the door swung open. There stood the large mouse whom Kairi assumed had brought her to this place. Next to him was a duck wearing blue wizard's clothing and holding a staff, and a tall dog that stood on two legs. He wore blue and gray knight's armor and held a round shield with three black circles in the shape of the mouse's head.
"Kairi, you're awake!" the mouse piped up in a high-pitched voice, overcome with relief. He hurried over to the stunned teen, followed closely by his companions. The redhead recoiled at his cry…how in the name of Kingdom Hearts did he know her name? The large dog noticed her wary expression and decided to try comforting the teen.
"Gawrsh, you don't have to be scared of us," he reassured her, raising a hand, "we're the good guys, a'hyuck!" Kairi relaxed a little at his comforting voice and words, but didn't approach her visitors.
"Who are you?" Kairi asked, still on edge. "And how do you know my name?"
"I'm King Mickey Mouse from Disney Castle," the mouse pressed a hand to his chest. "That's Donald, my court wizard," he gestured to the duck, "and that over there is Goofy, the captain of my knights." Both companions waved when the king introduced them. "As for how we know your name…that's kind of a long story. One probably best left for Master Yen Sid."
"Master Yen Sid?"
"Yup! He's the king's teacher," Goofy explained. "He's a real powerful wizard and a retired Keyblade wielder!"
"Keyblade?" Kairi cocked her head, confused. She had heard of the Keyblade in fairy tales as a child, but had little idea about what it actually was.
"Another story for my master to tell you," Mickey quickly answered. "He should be back soon. Ever since Xehanort took over the worlds, he's kept a very close eye on the tides of light and darkness. He even visits other worlds occasionally to fight off some of the darkness. We brought you here to his tower when we rescued you from your island." Kairi's eyes shot wide open at the mention of her island. What had happened to her family? Her friends? Was Riku all right? What about Sora? She didn't know what she'd do if she lost him.
"Your majesty, is my island all right?" She cried, nearly on her knees. "Did the Organization…"
"No." Mickey smiled happily as Kairi let out a big sigh of relief. "Donald and Goofy were able to fight off the Organization with the help of some of the islands' resistance. Some people were hurt badly, but we don't think any lives were lost."
Kairi nodded, relieved. "Where are we now?"
"You're at Master Yen Sid's Tower in Twilight Town," Donald answered in a voice that made it a little hard to understand what he was saying. "It's one of the only worlds we know of that the Organization hasn't taken over, so it's pretty safe."
"Plus, they don't know where this tower is," Goofy added. "They won't find ya here!"
"Your majesty," Kairi began, "why was the Organization after me?" Mickey opened his mouth to answer, but another voice spoke for him.
"They were after you because of the powerful light you possess."
Jumping up at the deep and authoritative, yet gentle voice, the four turned to face its owner; a tall man dressed in deep blue robes and a pointed wizard's hat decorated with stars and a single crescent moon. He had a long gray beard hanging from his chin.
"A-are you Master Yen Sid?" Kairi asked politely, a little intimidated by the newcomer. The elderly wizard put the red-haired girl at ease when he gave her a nod and a small smile.
"Indeed I am, Kairi. Come closer, I believe you would like some explanations."
"N-no. You can't be her…" Sora stammered, unable to believe what he was seeing. Aqua smiled condescendingly as though Sora's horrified reaction was the cutest thing she'd ever seen.
"But I am, Sora." She smiled sweetly and leaned towards the teen, making him recoil in fear. "Don't you recognize me?"
"You…" Sora breathed in fear before turning on Xemnas in a fiery rage. "What did you do to her, you monster?!" He moved to attack the older man, but the silverette only pushed the boy back with a swift kick to the ribs.
"'Do'? All Xehanort did was open my eyes," Aqua answered innocently, pulling Xemnas closer. "Fighting for the light is a lost cause, Sora. The darkness is all-powerful, and lots of people have realized this. With its power, we have conquered most of the worlds and snuffed out their light. And soon we will plunge every last one into eternal darkness."
Sora groaned as he gathered the strength to sit up, clutching his chest to dull the pain.
"And with the power of the Keyblade now in our grasp, our goals will soon come to fruition."
"What?" Sora asked, confused as Aqua reached down and hauled the teen to his feet by his collar. The brunette struggled and gripped the older woman's hand, trying to pry it off. "W-what is the Keyblade? I don't know what you're talking about!"
"You'll learn soon enough," Aqua replied menacingly before turning to Xemnas. "Go see to the other boy from the islands. I'll take care of him." The silver-haired man nodded and allowed himself to be swallowed by a massive mound of darkness. Sora had no time to be scared for his friend before another howling mound of darkness sprang to life behind Aqua. It looked like it wanted to draw Sora in and swallow him whole. The boy would have backed away, but Aqua's fist held him in place.
"Now, be a good little boy and come with me."
Sora closed his eyes tightly when Aqua yanked him forward, not bothering to fight back. As the ominous wind drew closer to his ears, Sora felt something grab the hood of his jacket and yank him backwards. The boy stumbled into something – or rather, someone – as he was torn from Aqua's hold. Whipping her head around, Aqua was met with the bright green stare of the other prisoner in the cell. The bluenette stared at the man in surprise, how had she not seen him waking up?
"The kid's not going anywhere with you," the redhead snarled in a calm voice that was laced with hatred. He kept a firm hold on Sora's jacket as the boy's cerulean eyes flickered between the two. Aqua growled in fury.
"How long have you been awake?"
"Long enough." Lea spat back. "Ropes were pain to break out of. And unlike the kid here, I know how to fight. If you want him, it's gonna cost you."
While Sora was grateful for the older man's protection, he couldn't help feeling slightly offended. 'Kid'?! Don't know how to fight?
Aqua snarled in defeat. If it were any other time, she would have put this hostage in his place and made sure he stayed there; but now she had more important matters to deal with.
"Hmph. You're fortunate that I have other matters to attend to. Specifically, one involving your little friend Naomi."
"Naomi?!" Lea shoved Sora to the ground, incurring a yelp of surprise and pain from the teen, and forgetting all about him for a moment. "Where is she? What have you done with her?!"
"Hmm," Aqua sneered, thoroughly enjoying her captive's fury, "let's just say she's carrying a lot of potential." With that, she turned and entered the dark corridor, leaving a livid Lea and a baffled Sora.
"Come back!" Lea shouted, running towards the portal. But it vanished in a few black wisps before he could step foot inside. Panting through clenched teeth, trying to calm himself down, Lea felt his temper cool drastically when Sora spoke up again.
"Um…are you okay?" Sora knew this was a dumb question, but he didn't know what else to say. The redhead heaved a sigh and ran a hand through his messy hair.
"Not really. But it's nothing you need to worry about." Lea turned to the younger boy and helped him up. "You okay, kid?"
"I'm fine," Sora replied with an edge in his voice. "And my name's Sora, not 'kid'."
"Gotcha, Sora. My name's Lea, got it memorized?" He managed a small friendly smirk and pointed to his temple. Sora couldn't hold back a chuckle of amusement before turning serious.
"So, what's your story?"
Lea's face fell again, making Sora wish he hadn't asked. "How much time ya got?"
"I don't think either one of us will be going anywhere anytime soon."
"Fair enough." Lea folded his arms and began. "I come from a city called Radiant Garden. But there's nothing radiant about it. Not anymore; not since he took over. I've been part of Radiant Garden's resistance since the beginning. My best friend was Isa…he was basically my partner." It was hard to miss the bite in Lea's voice when he spoke of Isa. "But Isa betrayed us yesterday. After I was caught by Xehanort's goons, Isa told me that he'd been working for Xehanort ever since Naomi was kidnapped by that little monster, Vanitas. Told me that the Organization was on their way to our headquarters, I'd be surprised if any of them made it out alive." There was a small catch in Lea's throat as he finished his story.
"I'm sorry," Sora replied sympathetically, knowing he was going to regret the question he was about to ask. "So, who's Naomi? Your girlfriend?"
"No, she's a friend. More like a sister, actually. She's around your age. She and I were on our way to the Moogle shop one day when we were ambushed by Vanitas and a horde of his rotten minions. She put up a fight, but Vanitas snuck up on her and pulled her through a corridor. Haven't seen or heard from her since."
"How long ago was she taken?"
"About nine months ago."
A tense moment of silence passed between them before Lea turned to his cell mate. "So, I spilled my guts, now it's your turn, Sora." The brunette shrugged.
"Not much to spill. I grew up on Destiny Islands. I don't remember much of what it was like before Xehanort took over, I was only four. They were a lot sunnier, though." A smile tugged at Sora's lips before he continued. "I've had two best friends growing up on the island. Riku's been my best friend as long as I can remember. I think he might have been brought here, too." Sora looked down to fight back his worry. "And Kairi…she just kinda…showed up outta nowhere. The same day that Xehanort rose to power, now that I think about it. We've gotten very close over the years…"
"Sounds like you two are more than friends," Lea snickered. It was then that Sora realized he was blushing.
"Ugh, we were not!" Sora retorted indignantly, feeling his cheeks heat up even more.
"Uh-huh, sure." Lea chuckled at the younger boy's expense again and scanned the cell. "So, any plans for bustin' outta here?"
"No! Leave Kairi alone!"
Riku fought against the enchanted ropes even harder than before, only for Ansem to clamp his hands on the boy's shoulders, holding him in place.
"Leave now, Vexen," Ansem commanded. "Round up the rest of the Organization and find her."
That was it. Riku thrashed wildly against the man and the ropes holding him hostage. Unprepared for the outburst, Ansem was thrown to the side and the shadowy bonds were torn to shreds. Riku leapt down from the experimentation table and past the stunned Vexen into the dark corridor he'd left open.
"No! Seize him!" Ansem thundered, rushing towards the howling portal. But he was too late; the corridor closed the instant it detected the teen rushing into it.
Riku didn't know where it lead, and frankly, he didn't care. All that mattered was getting away from these monsters and finding Sora and Kairi.
Don't worry, guys. I'm coming.
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