PASSWORD: *******
ACCESSING FILE: The Boy in White Armor

So the old coot's plan worked perfectly. Or well, that's what I'd like to say. Truth is I'm not so sure of his mastermind ability anymore. Heh, maybe Alzheimer's finally kicked in.

So, here's the deal: there's this horrible storm outside, right? Everyone in the city saw it, and most of us saw the battle in the square, too. There was Mister Master, standing in his fit new body and fighting Miss "I'm gonna attack you with bubbles." I'm not mad, and I didn't get beat up by a girl. I threw the fight. Me, lose? As if.

Anyway, the next morning I take Ansem the Wise outside, just like the old coot said. I upheld my end of the bargain, but he didn't keep his. Xehanort goes around acting amnesiac, and I'm thinking "No way man, that's too cliché." So I try to confront him about it, but he's totally serious! Something went wrong. Terra and Xehanort are both out of the picture, and this new guy is way too nice around Ansem for anything to work out. Maybe if I push him further in, we can jog the old coot's memory and get back on track…

But that's getting off topic.

Yesterday I stopped by the ol' Keyblade Graveyard; I was supposed to be out on patrol but what Aeleus doesn't know won't hurt him, right? And there I found the weirdest thing. It was some pulsating black orb, and when I got near – get this – Xehanort's sadistic little apprentice pops out! Only wearing white with the black instead of red, but really, come on, who else goes around in a goofy mask like that?

So apparently Vanitas came back from the brink of destruction out of his sheer, complete, and utter hatred for Ventus. Technically, he says, that means he's an Unversed now. The last Unversed in existence, though he thinks with time he regain the power to create them.

And the two of us struck a deal. I'll work on jogging the old coot's memory, or at least putting the plan back on track, and Vanitas is gonna go out searching for Ven's heart. We messed up because Aqua got in the way, but she's off wandering the darkness now.

This time nothing is going to stop the χ-blade.

Two who never should have met
Stand now at the crossroads of destiny…

Braig yawned loudly and stretched his arms above his head. He leaned against the blue walls, grinning at Vanitas. "So, like what you see?"

Vanitas turned his head away from the smug sniper. "What's with the outfit?"

Braig chuckled. "Do you have any idea how much of a pain it is to move around in that coat? Sure the Nobodies get away with it by not needing to work with reality, the lucky jerks, but us normal folks struggle in that thing." He wore grey now, with a purple strap across his chest and a darker purple scarf. A black belt separated the pants and shirt, and he still had the Organization's black boots and gloves. "I think it looks good."

"Whatever." Vanitas looked like he would rather glare at the computer and its numerous screens against the far wall than talk to Braig, but Braig knew he wanted some answers. "So, how did the battle go? What's the deal with Xemnas?"

"Pushy, aren't you?" Braig shrugged. "Yeah, I saw the whole thing. Xemnas is gone. Kaput. Yesterday's drowned goldfish."

"So that just leaves Ansem…"

"Ha, good luck with that one! I don't know about you, but I have absolutely no idea where Riku ran off to."

The road to light provides hidden truths
For those who seek the lost…

Sora and Xion sat on the curved paopu tree, staring out at the sparkling sea. The cool ocean breeze flowed through Xion's hair as she closed her eyes and listened to the sound of the waves. She didn't need a seashell to hear it anymore.

"What a small world," she said.

Beside her, Sora smiled. "But part of one that's much bigger."


Sora looked over to her. "Hey Xion, what are you going to do now? Have you decided where you're going to live?"

Xion frowned. "I've thought about it, but I'm not really sure. Kairi's the safest option I guess, but it all depends on how her parents take it."

"You could always move into my place."

"Thanks, but I don't think Kairi would appreciate you living with another girl," Xion teased with a grin. Blood rushed up to Sora's face and he sputtered, trying to spit out words. Xion just laughed, and eventually Sora ended up joining in.

"So, what are you two laughing about?" asked a familiar voice. Kairi was walking down the bridge to the small island, a smile on her face.

"Nothing!" Sora and Xion said together. Kairi eyed Sora's face, which still had hints of a blush, and gave a short giggle. She leaned against the paopu tree.

"So, has there been any word?" Kairi's voice was much more subdued now. Somber, even.

"No." Xion shook her head sadly. "There's been no sign of Riku since he fought Axel in Twilight Town."

Kairi stared at her with worried eyes. "You don't think…"

"If that happened, Axel would have said something. I hope, anyway…"

"Come on, you guys. Riku wouldn't go down like that!" Sora jumped off the tree and stepped through the sand, his eyes out on the horizon. "He's out there somewhere, waiting for us. I just know it…"

Yet can he truly ever be found?
One who walks the twilit road to nightfall…

He cried out in pain and slammed his forehead against the ruined wall. The torrent of water of the Rising Falls wasn't enough to subdue his thoughts; in fact, all they were good for was reminding him of the sweat creeping down his face.

With golden eyes shut tight and teeth clenched, he slammed a fist into the nearest pillar. The stone shattered and rained down into the water below, sent flying by the forces of darkness empowering the punch. He stared down at the black and purple wisps lifting off of his hand. The masked boy's taunt echoed in his head.

Darkness… He had embraced it, had taken it into himself, in front of the old mansion that day. He remembered clearly as the mocking laughter echoed inside of him, as the blue flames sprouted from his hands and incinerated his opponent's body.

And now it was devouring him whole. It was consuming him, his heart, and his very existence. If something wasn't done soon, everything he was would disappear only to be replaced by the man he hated more than anything.

Slowly Riku stood up. He was stronger than this. He wouldn't go out like a fool.

"I have to prove I have it… the strength to protect what matters."

Dozens of roads map out one's destiny…

"Quite a chaotic battle, wasn't it?" Maleficent asked. She and Pete stood atop the ruined Castle That Never Was, staring up at the contorted world above and around them.

Pete clung for dear life on the wall, worried that at a moment's notice the castle could fall apart like the rest of the world had. "Y-Yeah, had 'final showdown' written all over it. Now can we please get out of here, Maleficent?"

"Don't be ridiculous, you imbecile. I made a declaration and I intend to live up to it. This castle belongs to me now!" She extended her hands and cackled loudly, her laughter carried by dead winds around the empty world. Black roots covered in thorns burst out of the white metal making up the castle and snaked their way up its spires, entangling it in a thorny forest. The vines also pulled down on the destroyed Altar of Naught, reattaching it to the castle.

Maleficent grinned up at the shattered remains of Kingdom Hearts far above. "And soon I shall have this as well… All that stands in our way are what remains of those wretched Nobodies." She turned around, walking into the depths of her new fortress. "Pete, rally the Heartless. Our war is not yet over."

"Yes, ma'am!" Pete said with a salute.

Whether they accepted that road for the good of all…

Tron stood silently in the System Sector, his upgraded black armor standing out against the blue cybernetic background. He took great enjoyment out of his new work, protecting Ansem the Wise's precious research data. There was a lot to be said about the strength of one's heart, and most of it went over Tron's head, but reading this he felt that he gained something of an understand of the Users.

And he took joy in something else as well.

Closing the data logs for now and placing his two Identity Discs on his back, Tron left the System Sector. As he stepped into the sunlight the Backdoor shut behind him. Tron sat down on the rooftop, smiling at the children of Twilight Town playing down below him.

Ansem had given him this gift. Now Tron could embrace the people he loved and live in the User world. He knew it wasn't real, but he could pretend it was. At least for a little while.

Or wandered down it for their own ends…

Cid groaned softly in his bed, still unconscious from his near-death experience against Xaldin. The bleeding had stopped a long time ago, but they still weren't sure if he would ever recover. Leon had suggested – though not without a great deal of pain on his part - that maybe Cid's time had simply come and they had best move on.

Aerith wouldn't accept that.

She placed a fresh damp rag on Cid's forehead and moved her hands over his bare chest, channeling a constant stream of Curaga spells into his body. "You can pull through this, Cid. I know you can…"

This was her father figure. The man who had looked after the orphaned children of Radiant Garden for nine years in the dangerous streets of Traverse Town. She would not allow him to die like this. He was family.

Aerith heard a door open behind her but didn't allow it to distract her. She didn't allow the gentle hand on her shoulder to distract her. She didn't allow Cloud's worried eyes staring into her face to distract her.

Cloud gently took Aerith's hands away from Cid and she pulled them away, moving them back to the older man's chest. They repeated this process three more times before Cloud sighed.


"Don't start."

"You haven't eaten, slept, or even left the room in two days, Aerith. Cid isn't going to die in an instant." He pulled her hands away again, and this time she didn't fight. "You should be worried about yourself, too."

"I just… I don't want any more family to die, Cloud…"

"I know." Cloud embraced Aerith and she hugged him back, crying softly into his chest. "I know…"

Salvation comes along the road to dawn
Where she waits for a visitor who will never appear…

"It feels like I've been walking forever…"

She held a hand tightly to her chest as she walked, keeping a blue star-shaped charm close to her heart at all times. The eternal blackness didn't change. It never changed. She couldn't tell if she had gone five miles or five hundred or five thousand, only that she had never stopped walking.

"I know I've been here a long time… Wandering through the endless hours… Unable to escape…" Oh, she knew far too well. Many times had she thought she would go mad from the isolation, but she had promised her friends she'd be there for them, that the three would always be one, and it was that promise that kept her going. Still, saying her thoughts out loud was the only way to break the oppressive silence—when she wasn't fighting those black creatures, at least.

But just how long had it been? She didn't think she would ever know.

An alien sound assaulted her ears. Anyone one else would think it so soft as to be almost unnoticeable, but compared to the silence of the darkness it was deafening. Suddenly on guard, she summoned her weapon—a weapon of light shining brightly in the shadows, with a silver hilt and black blade. She moved slowly to the source of this sound, believing it to be a new variety of the strange black creatures.

What she found instead shocked her. The blade fell into the black sand and she walked forward slowly, completely aware of the disbelief evident on her face. "Ocean…" The water lapped gently at the shore, a gentleness that she hadn't seen in years. She fell to her knees and dipped her hands into the cold water, just to make sure she wasn't imagining it. She wasn't, and her eyes began to grow wet at the happiness growing inside her. It was such a small, insignificant thing, finding water in the darkness… But it still gave her hope.

With tears flowing freely, Aqua smiled at the horizon as she held her Wayfinder tighter to her chest.

There are no coincidences in fate
And so all the pieces lie where they fell…

Remember the Tides II:
The Tides Go Out