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Chapter IV: Painful Departure

They’re all back.

They’re here?

“Ahh!” Sora yelled from nowhere. The same nightmare shook him awake for the second time. Sora cringed at the aftershock of the dream, but perceiving that his headache was nearly completely dispelled, made an effort to look out his window. It was nearing sunset and Sora spastically jumped off his bed. He was still fully dressed; the long nap he took rejuvenated him. Just as Sora was about to open his bedroom door, he heard a creak and a skittering sound creeping towards him from the back. He quickly pivoted around and found himself staring at a small, shadowy black figure with deadly, gleaming yellow eyes. Oh no, Sora grimaced. As a reflex, he stuck his hand into the air, as if trying to catch a hold of something. And when a few seconds passed without a desired result, he remembered…

“This is not good,” Sora said to himself. “I forgot I don’t have the Keyblade anymore.”

Not wasting another second, he quickly dealt a powerful, swift kick at the intruder, sending it crashing through the bedroom window. Sora hurried out of his house, only to find himself staring and utterly stupefied by the sight he took in. A sea of black rose from the waters and onto the shorelines, the creatures slowly marching, creeping, and skittering little by little onto the island.

“Sora! Over here!’

Sora heard a familiar voice and looked towards a nearby cliff, where he saw Riku standing.

“Get over here, Sora! You’re not going to last by simply standing there!”

Without hesitation, Sora circumvented through the wave of black and climbed his way to Riku. The two friends then gaped at the ever-increasing numbers of intruders. The dream really was a warning, Sora noted to himself. He glanced at Riku, who stood his ground and observed the surroundings. Riku stuck out his hand the same way Sora did before and waited a few seconds. Riku, receiving the same result as Sora did, nothing, looked at his hand in defeat then looked at Sora.

“I tried, too. But remember? We thought we didn’t need them anymore,” Sora remarked. “We can’t call for them now, we have to actually go and get them…”

“So how else are we gonna take out all these Heartless?” Riku asked. A minute passed with the two looking at the sea of Heartless covering the beach, hearing nothing but the fleeting wind and great waves crashing by the shores. “Any ideas, Sora?”

“Get Kairi, I’ll stall for time?”

“You get Kairi,” Riku broke in. “Let’s agree that I have a bit more endurance than you as of now. I’ll stall and hold them off, you go and find Kairi.”

Sora briefly scowled at the comment, but nodded and ran down the back of the cliff, heading for Kairi’s home. Riku leapt off the front of the cliff and smiled as he greeted the first few Heartless ahead of him. Sora continued his way, but looked over his shoulder numerous times to keep track of Riku’s faring. Riku, true to his word, was doing an excellent job holding back the small Shadow Heartless, dropkicking, beating, and flipping the Heartless in every direction. A little more at ease, knowing that Riku was perfectly capable of handling issues on his own, Sora doubled his pace for Kairi’s home. When he finally arrived at his destination, he speedily scaled the house’s walls and peered into Kairi’s room.

“Kairi, you in there?” Sora called, gently knocking on the window. “Kairi! We’ve got serious trouble, where are you?”

Kairi’s face appeared on the other side of the window, to Sora’s relief. The first time the Heartless invaded Destiny Islands; Kairi vanished and brought about the trio’s first separation. She opened the window, “Sora! What’s… going… on…?” She peered over Sora’s head and caught the glimpse of Riku battling the infinite Shadow Heartless army. “We have to help him!” Kairi wailed.

“I know, but first we have to get you out of there, it’s not safe!” Sora replied.

Kairi nodded. “I’ll meet you at the door.”

Sora slid down the wall and hastily ran around the house to the front door. Suddenly, a Heartless rose from the ground and grabbed Sora’s leg. The Shadow’s light weight barely slowed Sora down, so Sora merely shook his leg and violently punched the Heartless until its grip loosened. Sora then did what Riku did; he tossed the Heartless and dropkicked it into the overgrowth. It would be so much easier if I had my Keyblade. Sora felt his hair rise when a shriek filled the air. “Kairi!” Sora yelled, this time tripling his pace for the door.

Kairi was surrounded by a dozen or more Heartless, each and every one of them inching closer and closer with their claws extended. At the last moment before the Heartless struck, Sora hurdled into the squad and drew the attention away.

“Run, Kairi!” he yelled. Kairi, instead of turning the opposite way, rushed into the Heartless squad the same way Sora did before. “Kairi!”

“I said before that I’d fight. This time, I will fight!” Kairi pulled Sora out from the pile of Shadows and the two of them assumed their fighter stances.

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Breaking through the skyline barrier of any far-off world requires knowledge and proficiency, which Mickey has. Exiting the void, Mickey’s Gummi ship, which he settled on naming the Celsius, appeared on the cloudy skies around Destiny Islands. With skill and ease, Mickey smoothly landed the Celsius on the sandy beach. Dressed in a hooded black overcoat, Mickey stepped out of the Celsius and was immediately greeted by a weary Riku, who heard and saw the massive Gummi ship land.

“King Mickey… there’s just,” Riku forcefully punched off another Heartless, “so many. And we don’t have our Keyblades…”

“Riku! Your Majesty!”

Sora, with Kairi directly behind him, dodged multiple Heartless attacks and made their way to Riku and Mickey. “Where did all these Heartless come from? I thought we took care of everything already!” Sora exclaimed. “We can’t get rid of them like this, they just keep coming back.”

Mickey pulled away his hood. “As long as there’s a lotta darkness in people’s hearts, Sora, there will be more Heartless.” He put back on his hood and motioned his hand to the Celsius.

Sora, Riku, and Kairi, still punching and kicking the inflowing Heartless, stood their ground. When Sora saw Mickey’s motioning, he retorted, “What? But we can’t just leave, King Mickey! The island will be overrun!”

“If all of you don’t come with me now, your world won’t be the only one that’ll be overrun. Now let’s go! We’ll come back and clean the mess up later! I promise.” He continued to motion his hands towards the Celsius.

Sora looked at Riku, then at Kairi, both of them giving Sora a quick nod in agreement and dashed towards the Gummi ship. Sora, looking one last time at the islands and the swarming, overwhelming Heartless, sighed in defeat and made his way onto the ship.

Before taking off, the trio each gave Destiny Islands a saddened look, none of them enjoying their departure. Mickey, at the pilot seat, tried his best to calm the three teenagers’ nerves.

“Ya know, the little Heartless can’t do much by themselves. They need a leader.”

“What are you saying exactly, King Mickey?” Kairi asked.

“I’m sayin’ that the people you know aren’t in too much trouble if they just stay away from the Heartless,” Mickey sighed. “Let’s just hope your friends down there won’t be too reckless.”

The trio exchanged looks. “Tidus and Wakka might be those reckless ones…” Sora began.

“Don’t say that, Sora. I know they’ll be smart and do what’s best for them and everyone else,” Kairi interjected. “We’ll be back in no time and help them all out.”

Mickey nodded and smiled. “Welcome aboard, Kairi. I’m sure Sora and Riku are both very happy to have you with them right now,” he glanced at Sora and Riku, both grief-stricken. “Cheer up, fellas, it’s not the end yet. Hang on, we’re taking off!”

The Celsius extended its wings and retracted its drawbridge and wheels, knocking away clinging Shadow Heartless. With a torching boost, the Gummi ship shot off into the night sky. Mickey, at the controls, set the destination for Costa Island. Sora slid up the aisle and sat alongside Mickey.

“Costa Island? Where’s that?” he asked.

“That, Sora, is where the Keyblades are. Not to mention Ansem’s Reports and a buncha other stuff.”

Riku, hearing the word ‘Keyblades,’ also slid alongside Mickey. “Good. Then we can come back here and wipe out all those Heartless.”

Sora, a bit curious, asked, “Your Majesty, why are the Keyblades there in the first place? I thought when me and Riku returned home, you took our Keyblades away for safe keeping or something?”

Mickey looked away and sighed, “That was bad judgment on my part, fellas. I thought our troubles won’t be so great anymore so I locked all the Keyblades away in a museum on Costa Island. Well, I knew the Heartless and the Nobodies were still around, but I didn’t think someone was still?” He paused with his mouth slightly opened, his eyes indicating a new realization.

“Someone was still, what, King Mickey?” Kairi asked, sliding up to join with the group.

Mickey pounded his fists once and said angrily, “Maleficent! I forgot she was still out there! Oh, how could I be so careless?” He rubbed his face gently and continued, “She’s definitely the one behind all this. We gotta stop her…”

Sora and Riku glanced at one another again, the same thoughts running through their heads: I guess we’re up for another adventure.

“Hey Kairi, you don’t mind tagging along for another adventure, would you?” Sora asked.

Kairi, who was in a somber mood for the past few hours, finally smiled. “I’d be more than happy to tag along,” she said.

This world has been connected.

Tied to the darkness… soon to be completely eclipsed.

Sora slightly slouched. It happened before, and now it happened again, he noted to himself. The party traveled with no disturbances through the void, effortlessly making their way to Costa Island. He, Riku, and Kairi eventually drifted into sleep due to exhaustion. But in approximately an hour, Mickey alerted the drowsy teens and notified them of their arrival.

“Costa Island. We have to find the Temple Key Museum. That’s where I placed the Keyblades.”

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