7217/KHA: A Path To The End

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KHA: A Path To The End
Date of Scene: 27 May 2020
Location: Winter
Synopsis: The tracking device planted by Seifer draws him and many interested in saving Riku to the deadly deep dive of Hollow Bastion. What secrets does this place hold, and what lies beyond?
Cast of Characters: 6928, 6909, Seifer Almasy, 7201, Guzma, 7002, Staren, Rean Schwarzer, Archer

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Riku is gone. Vanished without a trace, from most might believe. He has been missing from the Watch communications network for some time. Someone in the Concord knew, however. They knew because they were there when Riku vanished. Seifer tried to reach a wounded teenager's heart, and was burned as they slipped into darkness.

    But even if Riku was gone, Seifer slipped something into his coat pocket: A tracking device, intended to trace him through the darkness, through the other worlds, no matter where they might go. Even so, the signal was swallowed by the darkness...

    Until now. Seifer's tracking signal began to ping, the transmitter coming from a remote part of the Underground. Some assistance from a Mysterious Coat-Wearing Female that wears one of those snappy duds that Organization XIII seems to pass out brings them all to the necessary location with a minimum of sanity damage and threat to body and Heart. The group exits the roads of Darkness...

BGM: https://youtu.be/RlkzbcpeHpo
ROZEN + REVEN - The Keyblade War: Hollow Bastion

    And arrives on a large floating rock hanging high above a lake below. All around them, waterfalls cascade around the depression... but they flow upward, rushing high into the sky before arcing back down in sprays of glistening rain that scatters arcs of prismatic light from the sun shining in the distance. Before them is a great castle, a merging of strange technology and fantasy medieval construction, the mighty fortress stands in disrepair, the walls appearing to have yielded to the ravages of time as well as what seems to be some great struggle of some kind of another. Just looking at the edifice might bring a serious case of Deja Vu to certain members of the party, however, and there is a brooding, almost oppressive aura about the place despite the surroundings.

    The gates are open. Getting inside isn't the problem.

    The problem is the massive horde of Heartless that is pouring out of the gates. The air is already darkening with what looks like dozens to scores of them, the mass impelled by something more than the simple desire to feast upon powerful Hearts. Many of them vanish into the Darkness themselves, surely beginning to spread out into the rest of the world through the paths they know.

    But there are more than enough to be distracted by the plethora of potent powers present. Immediately, floating Heartless in hats and color-coordinated robes begin bombarding the group with spells, while bulging spheres of balloon-like hate rush forward to begin the assault.

Xion (6909) has posed:
A Mysterious Female?

Why that'd be the cowl-hooded girl that conveniently torn a hole in space, a winding pathway of purple and red and black throbbing and smearing in impossible ways.

"Trust a SeeD to already have placed a tracker, I guess. Riku's this way!"

It's a short and uneventful trip through the Corridor to the courtyard of the castle.

"Hollow Bastion..." The girl breathes. "This is a really bad place. So watch out!" She calls, a floating red-hatted wizard heartless's fire attack scorching the air where she was standing moments ago.

Tumbling into a crouch, gloved fingers come up. "Ruina!"

A scattering of implosive white-silver blasts leap from her hand and go seeking targets.

"Don't slow down to fight them - they'll keep coming!"

Seifer Almasy has posed:
                                 A BIT AGO                                  


     Seeker of Darkness.

     The moment the tracker pings, Seifer's already suiting up. His white coat swirls around him. Hyperion taps against his shoulder. In the mirror, the grey man in red nods. He does a final check-over of everything - the gunblade's clip, the extra clips, any minute little details that might give Ansem even the slightest advantage. His fingers are shaking slightly.

     He's afraid.

     Yeah, it's gonna work out alright. Yeah, they're gonna beat Ansem. But are they gonna be able to save Riku? How many people are gonna die tonight to pull him back from that guy's grasp? How many people are gonna suffer tonight for Seifer Almasy's failures?

     Kairi, she'd said to turn the dial down. And God knows he'd been trying. But this wasn't really a time for that, was it? Last time, he'd apparently given it everything, and Ansem was still here, still standing. And at that point, he'd had Sora and Molly, too.

     Shaking fingers tighten around the gunblade. In the mirror, a spectral grey hand settles on his shoulder. Seifer presses his thumb against his nose and scoffs. Right. Of course. Give it a hundred and ten percent now, rest afterwards. Figure out how to rest afterwards.

     The Gunblade Knight walks out of the room, tapping at a console in the air. A box settles into his hand.

                                 RIGHT NOW                                  

     He's wearing headphones.

     Hyperion's twirling in his hand. He gives orders - 'Hit that flank and hold 'em off!' 'There's a weak spot - break it!' - in between wide, sweeping arcs. Wide, sweeping slashes to knock aside Heartless like so much chaff. Seifer's walking in step with the Mystery!Girl, close enough to keep up and knock aside what she doesn't catch.

     Hey, she's not *his* sorceress, but she's *a* sorceress. Plus, Sora would be *super* pissed at him for like all of ten minutes. Which is an entire year in Sora-time.

     "I remember a little bit of this place," Seifer says to the cowled girl (and by extension everyone else) as they go, "Just little scraps. Not much. But I remember that this is where we failed."

     "But it ain't gonna go that way this time, is it?!"

Arkae Zellar (7201) has posed:
Arkae has her own reasons to be here.

... No, not really. She literally doesn't have her own reasons, she only sort of knows who Riku is, and that's because she overheard Seifer ranting about him (her?) on the radio one time.

But. Seifer cares, and Seifer is her friend (or so she'd like to hope so), so... she's here, as a Concord comrade.

"Darned right we aren't failing!" she calls as he takes a flank, pushing back against the tides with poisons and fires and swords, doing what she can. "We're gonna push through, and we're gonna win!" The red bird relic dangles on a chain around her wrist, a leftover from her first big multiversal success. She means to keep that streak going.

But more than anything, she's here to propel Seifer onwards. This is -his- quest, his spotlight, his moment when the great Dungeon Master in the sky pokes through the 'backstory' section on his character sheet and makes some notes behind his Divine Screen. And to make Seifer shine like a bright light amongst the darkness...

... she's giving him her full support.

(That, and a shit ton of potions.)

Guzma has posed:
Guzma's here. He doesn't know Riku. He doesn't owe him anything. But he knows Seifer. He respects Seifer. And Seifer cares about this. So, he's going to help him out.

Guzma and the Skull Trio are here. They're not cracking jokes or doing rap dances. This is serious. They can see the mood of the battle. Life or death. They straighten their masks and their caps. They huddle together, getting a plan. And when those dark monsters are out? They're on point.

"Rush ahead! Kick their butts!" Guzma shouts, to his group, sticking with Seifer's plans. Scizor is out. Scizor is a metal /machine/, punching straight through a heartless at superhuman speed. Garbodor burns one caustically with poison. Zubat knocks them off the ledge with wind blasts (a lot of them, it's the little soldier who could). Salandit spits fireballs.

They push through the swarm, moving for the gates. They're already sweating and bleeding as they push forward. They're the foot soldiers.

"We need to get ahead, yo!" Tupp shouts out. "For the boss!" "For the boss!" "For the boss!"

Sumiko (7002) has posed:
Sumiko hears the call in her new El Dorado place.  Hand on her stomach as she was resting on the bed staring up at the ceiling.  There had been a LOT to go over the last few days, including the psychological scars of having a person you'd been sharing your body with for a period of time not there anymore.  

<Tac-Concord> [3] Seifer Almasy says, "Alright. I've got a hit."
<Tac-Concord> [3] Seifer Almasy says, "We're going in."
<Tac-Concord> [4] Sumiko says, "Hit?  Which thing?"
<Tac-Concord> [3] Seifer Almasy, grimly, over the sound of pulling on a coat, says, "Ansem, Seeker of Darkness."
<Tac-Concord> [4] Sumiko says, "Oh right."

Sumiko sits up, rubbing the back of her head.  She remembers that fight with the dude in armor, and then the stuff with Seifer and Ansem.  She also remembered just how /smashed/ Seifer had been when he came back.  Oof, she wasn't sure about dealing with this anymore.  Drumming her fingers on her leg for a moment, she mentally attacks this problem.  

Eventually, she comes to the solution that aiding the Concord would help her in the long run.  Which seemed to appease the big green monster that squeezed at her somedays.  She wanted to do it, though, because the two of them had promised to help with Riku.  Riku was also pretty okay for a guy.  

At Hollow Bastion itself, she didn't have time to think about anything but trying to break through the heartless.  Except for the one or two thoughts about wondering if there were any valuable chests inside the place.  The young woman's hair was long and dark.  Eyes a brilliant green, almost seeming to glow.  A few scars down her face, which look like claw marks.  Her body was covered by what might be considered rags, and a raggy overcoat that seemed more valuable to hide her arms when they weren't out.

Her skin color was far paler than was natural, and her fingers were just slightly longer than they should be, the tips ending pointier then should be physically possible.  She was human, but there was just something off about her.

Her sword, which seemed to be made out of diamonds, tears through heartless after heartless as they push their way through.  "Ugh, seriously no end to them.  How do they all even fit in this place?" she asks the air, or whoever is near her.  Still, she pushes forward.  Eyes on the prize and all of that.

Staren has posed:
    Walking a short distance behind Seifer and the cloaked figure in the tunnel is an armored red figure. With cat ears and tail. No mystery in who Staren is, really.

    A body made of metal with some of the finest achievements of 21st century metallurgy and beyond. Packed with technology that warps its inside to store more armament than space allows, enhanced to channel magical energy, and powered by the very building blocks of the universe packed so tightly together by ancient exploding stars that even now they tear themselves apart. Every inch of armor and circuitry a triumph of science and knowledge.

    But for what? Merely existing, merely being made possible isn't the point.

    It's because friends need them now. Not just Staren's friends in particular, but friends in general. Seifer, Sora, and Riku once stood against impossible odds (and, apparently, failed here -- Staren's trying not to think too much about that bit.) Seifer is going to make things right with Riku and stop this Ansem. Because they are friends.

    Staren can believe in that. And he'll use everything at his disposal to shape the future to make it happen. Because without that hope, the Multiverse would not be filled with wonder. It would just be a collection of particular patterns of atoms trying to survive and self-propogate, upon rocks flying in curves.

    As the heartless swarm in, Staren begins blasting with his arm cannons. Between shots they rotate into the arm and out come new ones. Particle beams, lasers, bolts of magic force or ice or fire, Staren tries them all and takes note of what works best.

Rean Schwarzer has posed:
Rean is here. It feels like ages since he'd tried to get Riku to open up to him, and  since he, Mikoto and Staren tried to give Seifer an opening to talk things out with him. Even though it didn't end the way they all hoped, they still had a chance to fix this. They just had to give it a try.


And then he spots a black haired girl with glowing eyes.

...Of course /she/ was here, too. He doesn't say anything, and turns away from her almost immediately. There's other things to focus on. He'd already committed to trying to help Riku move forward from his issues, now wasn't the time to hesitate because of his own..

No matter how much it hurt to even be near her right now.  

He dashes forward, going from Heartless to Heartless, swinging at each with deft strikes with his sword. Don't slow down, just keep moving.

"Which way should we going, then?" Rean asks...Xion? He only knows one girl with a cultist hoodie, so that's a safe bet. Right?

Xion (6909) has posed:
The Mysterious Hooded Girl is asked a question about where they're supposed to go. A large All Chest Day No Legs Day heartless with a sword chops at her as she acrobatically flips and tumbles out of the way, balancing open-handedly before pointing past the courtyeard into the depths of Hollow Bastion.

"Inside! I think he's at the innermost chamber, or something! Probably wherever the most important room is. We've got to hurry!"

Ducking laser cannon blasts, she makes for the front door.

"Heartless are like the monsters under your bed or in your closet - if it's dark and you can't really see, Heartless are probably lurking there!"

It's the Monster Closet theory of heartless generation, apparently.

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Heartless begin exploding into hissing washes of Darkness as the Mysterious Girl begins the counterattack. The individual Heartless aren't all that powerful. The problem is the number of them, much higher than one might expect from even a place this deep in the UG. The waves just keep coming, the Mysterious Girl's recommendation likely a good one. Who knows how many more there could be?

    Is there an end to the Darkness?

    Seifer lunges into the middle of the battle, becoming the spearhead that drives them forward. Arkae is taking up one side, slashing and hurling flame as needed, the Red Bird Relic constantly providing its inferno for the use of the bird-woman. Guzma is on the other side, his badass Pokemon Team lunging right into the fray, meeting the horde with his own team. His loyal members of Team Skull are right behind, devoting them The incoming wave begins to slow down, allowing the group to leap from treacherous floating island to island.

    At least if they fall, they only have to worry about a lake, right?

    Through fire and pain and blade, they push back the tide, the massed firepower clearing a path for them as they push into the front gates. It's like some kind of strange, reverse siege of a castle populated by horrible monsters with no regard for self-preservation. Sumiko's diamond blade dances, slicing through the Heartless and piercing their way forward. How can they all fit? Perhaps someone could answer that for her. Is there a limit to the Darkness that can reside within a place? But the group presses through, being assaulted quickly on all sides as they push forward. At least the enemies /behind/ them seem to have a limit. Those in front, however...

    The grand hall only increases the sense of deja vu, prickling at what scraps of memory Seifer might have. Something Important happened here, but what? What happened? There was a confrontation, right? Did it happen like he was told? Or was something being left out? The blue tile is polished to a mirror sheen, some scuffs on the floor telling a subtle tale of movement. A few scorch marks, a long cut in the floor. Another big chunk of tile, missing. The twin stairs on either side of the hall arch upwards towards the central door, which also lies open. Something seems subtly wrong about this. Things shouldn't just be... this open. The doors should be locked, probably sealed by some stupid puzzle.

    But they are open. The Heartless, however, are different in this area. More of the Shadows, more tin-hatted Soldiers. The bloated balloonlike Dark Orbs remain present, but joining them are the massive roly-poly Fat Bodies, slamming around to try to bowl their way through the formation to scatter and isolate them so the others can try to pick them off. Staren's plethora of beam weapons prove their use, laying down massive firepower to scythe through the enemies as they push forward. Even his robotic body proves to be attractive to the Heartless. After all, a Heart is more than circuits and data... right? Rean is right beside him, fighting with spirit and passion as he cleaves his way forward, slashing along with the others to cut open a path to a better future. None of them needed to be here, but they chose to, each for their own reasons. The path begins to open, revealing a long hall. To one side is what looks like an ornate chapel, but there is something further on, a larger room with what looks like some kind of technology...

    Technology that might be the source of the scourge in the Bastion...

Archer has posed:
A castle. An army of darkness. The only thing needed now is a priest , and it'd be a perfect trifecta of things he hates. He smirks at that realization, before instantly letting the thought go. Comparing things that happened in the past to things happening now never solves anything. Besides, he's here on someone else's behest. He should at least take it seriously.

          I am the bone of my sword
          Steel is my body and fire is my blood
          I have created over a thousand blades
          Unknown to Death
          Nor known to Life
          Have withstood pain to create many weapons
          Yet, those hands will never hold anything
          So as I pray, UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS.

     The ground and sky around Archer begin to burn away, the former becoming a barren wasteland filled to the littered to the brim with thousands of blades, while the latter becomes a smog ridden mess with various large gears dotting the skies. There's the distinct smell of soot and slag that fills the air, making the area feel more like it's a factory than the castle it was previously.

     Archer takes a step forward, uprooting a keyshaped blade from the ground as he follows behind the rest of the group. Specifically Kairi. There's a mention of not letting the small fry slow them down, only for them to answer by raining down a small line of weapons to help open a path. Specifically, straight down the hall way leading straight into the strange techno-room. Not that he knows anything about any of the stuff here, but he's taking a pretty daring assumption that weird stand out things are probably important.

Arkae Zellar (7201) has posed:
Indeed, is there an end to the darkness? Arkae's starting to wonder...

She asks on the radio. Okay, no, there's literally not.

"Okay, yeah, forget the ground game, then," she says, popping a potion and then running up onto the walls and from there up onto the ceiling, her feet clinging to the underside just as easily as if she was still standing on the floor. She uses her new position to just simply bypass as much of the dark tide as she can, and also to get a better vantage point for sniping away at those remaining in the normal orientation.

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     Something's not right.

     Arkae and Guzma and Sumiko and Staren are behind him. Arkae's flames lick the area at his left to drive back the little monsters. Guzma's bugs and buddies tear through Heartless like tissue paper. Sumiko's blade on the right dancing crystal through shadow. Staren's cannons blasting past him. He's got people at his back. Kairi's in front of him. Rean's somewhere off to the side. It's a siege, a push, a grinding uphill battle like the day on the beach.

     And it's not right.

     His fingers press against his temple as he bats aside another Heartless. There's something off. The puzzle's solved. The cuts are in the floor. The scorch marks, the missing tile. What happened here? What really happened here? What did he lose to stay alive? And what did Ansem actually *do*?

     One of the Fat Bodies hits him in the stomach. It knocks him aside just as he had been doing to the purebloods. He rolls, skidding to a stop with one hand on the ground. As he stands, he snaps. The air around the Fat Body explodes.

     "Something's wrong," he says over the sound of battle.

     The guy made of Darkness, who sought the Darkness, wielding Darkness as a weapon and Darkness as a shield, might have lied?

     No shit.

Staren has posed:
    Mage heartless blast and heartless with swords chop and cut. Just making it through the grand hall leaves Staren's forcefield looking thin, and attacks that got through while he was shooting have covered his armor in scorchmarks, scratches, and a big shiny cut from one of those scimitar heartless with the build of a sumo wrestler.

    For all Staren's hopes, it's only a matter of time. If they don't find what they're looking for before then...

    No, don't think about that.

    Hey, is that a tech room? Maybe he's more than just muscle today.

    Also, part of the battlefield is reshaping like it did during the showdown with his assassin. Maybe it'd be better to NOT be near that. He jumps into the air and Seifer's words reach him just before the roar of thrusters drowns them out of his ears as he barrels towards the mysterious tech room.


Sumiko (7002) has posed:
Sumiko is also doing her best to ignore Rean.  There was enough baggage there to fly around the world and visit every city, twice.  Right now she's focused on her boy, Seifer, who is having his own problems.  The sword dances, as it blocks a dive from one of the knighted Heartless, and she pushes back, swinging overhead as she passes under it and ends with the heartless exploding.

The Fatbody gets bodied by Seifer, which causes her to hold a hand up.  "Let's get some distance so we can breakthrough." She says as a ball of glass shoots out of her hand.  Once it lands or hits a heartless, it explodes into thousands of tiny shards that fly out like buckshot in their line, trying to tear through as many of the creatures as she can.  

Seifer calls out in warning, and she keeps the blade ready, but not exactly diving forward like a madwoman.  "You ok?" she asks Seifer, knowing the answer, but still concerned.  "Memories are a bit out of my league...sadly."

Guzma has posed:
They get through. Guzma's sweating. This is tough. There's more Heartless, and a big hall, and staircases. The heartless are big and fat and strong. Zubat's lagging behind. It nearly gets smacked out of the way, when Garbodor and Salandit slow it down, and Scizor comes for the finishing blow. Everyone nods.

As the tech-room is located, the groups split up. Seifer stays in the hall, and Guzma moves back to back with him, Scizor punching Fat Bodies and not breaking a sweat because it is a cyborg.

The Trio, the Goonzmas, dash into the room past Guzma's distraction, holding the flank for the others. "Yo! This feels /creepy/, homies!"

Xion (6909) has posed:
"Wow!" Mysterious Hooded Girl announces, her running animation practically cutscene erroring into a two-heeled skid to a stop that puffs up rivets of dust as she comes to a cartoonish stop.

"You're bringing really really bad energy into here!" Lecturing fingers point to both Rean and Sumiko. "Like sparks, but... dark! If you're going to go up against the darkness at the heart of darkness, after travelling through the darkness to get to the citadel of deep dark, Hollow Bastion... Well, you're really going to need to minimize your weird chemistry. Trust me: You can't hold on to harmful feelings. They'll scar you, on the inside."

She uselessly waits in the foyer and doesn't go into the Tech Room. She seems adamant on RELATIONSHIP DRAMA SKITS for this round.

Arkae Zellar (7201) has posed:
Arkae thinks *really bubbly* light thoughts.

Like going swimming in a bathtub full of gold coins.


Riku (6928) has posed:
    The world shifts around them as Archer begins imposing his personal world on the environment. The Reality Marble surges forward, beginning to press into the surrounding environment as he deploys his world of blades. Even he holds a key-shaped blade. Is it a Keyblade itself? Perhaps, perhaps not. But who says a fake cannot equal the original? Archer has plenty of his own tricks, and the deployment of the dozens of blades in a rain carve open holes in the line that the others can quickly exploit.

    Like Arkae, who begins to think in three dimensions like a bird ought to. She runs up the walls, Shadows chasing after her and some ranged spells raining around him, but most of the enemies appear landbound. Her unusual vantage allows her to be first down the hall, being able to simply bypass most of the horde and rush into the next area, Staren right behind... Which is filled with person-sized pods of some kind, with a central console connected to all of them. Seven pods, in specific. To one side there is a table that looked like it was supposed to hold something, but it is empty. The console itself is just sitting there blinking with some kind of output:

    Ones born of the heart and darkness, devoid of hearts, ravage all worlds and bring desolation.
    Seize all Hearts and consummate the great heart.
    All hearts to be one, one heart to encompass all.
    Realize the destiny: the realm of Kingdom Hearts.
    The great darkness sealed within the great heart.
    Progeny of darkness, come back to the eternal darkness.
    For the heart of light shall unseal the path.
    Seven hearts, one keyhole, one key to the door.
    The door of darkness, tied by two keys.
    The door to darkness to seal the light.
    None shall pass but shadows, returning to the darkness.
    Ones born of the Heart and darkness, hunger for every heart until the dark door opens.

    Huh, that's a thing. And if that isn't ridiculous enough, there's the room just beyond. A large, ornate room that looks to be at the heart of the Bastion, a massive tangle of twisted pipes and wire conduits running all along the walls. It looks like what might have been a laboratory of some kind. The focus of it seems to be a large dais, a massive frame that looks to be roughly shaped like the insignia of the Heartless... And it is active. The frame is filled with a shifting energy, black limned with purple lightning that crackles across it. Heartless are constantly pouring out of the gate...

    And taped to that frame is a familiar-looking device. Seifer's tracking device, still pinging away. Boy, there's a lot of options right now and not a lot of time to think about them. The press of Heartless just continues to get constantly replenished, more of them surging from that gate. And yet... There's no sign of Riku. Or Ansem. Where could he be...?

    Seifer begins bringing up the rear, laboriously carving his way forward. A Fat Body detonates as Seifer unleashes his Gunpowder Soul, blasting the thing and bypassing the thick defense of that belly. Sumiko cleaved down and through... Then unleashes a wave of crystalline buckshot that begins tearing through Heartless en masse. The air is filled with the sound of shattering glass as the waves are pushed back, buying them valuable time to reform their ranks and advance. Guzma advances the line, his Pokemon beginning to bully the enemies back in a display of superior bullying while the Goonzmas keep the lighter enemies off their back. They're right. The rooms /are/ creepy. Some might find them beautiful, even, but it is not a beauty meant for normal people. They will be joining Arkae and Staren in moments. The question is... What to do now?

Sumiko (7002) has posed:
Sumiko nods once to Seifer, and makes a break after the nerd and the bird.  She moves through heartless if she has to, avoiding most engagements and letting the rest of them take up the rear.  Her destination is to cover both Staren and Arkae.  Once there, she takes overwatch, blasting heartless with crystal, or swording them in the face.

"Giant door, some beeping thing, caskets.  This couldn't be more evil science lair even if you tried."  She looks around, are there any other ways in our out?

Alright, you two, you got a limited amount of time, or else we try jumping into the scary door looking thing, which probably isn't a good thing.  Probably a really terrible idea, which means obviously it's the only way forward.  

Rean Schwarzer has posed:
The group moves on, making it into the central room. There's signs of battle...and a door left wide open.

"...Did someone get here before us?"  Rean asks, trying to pin down what happened.

Rean continues Gale-ing his way though the Soldier Heartless pile, though he's starting to flag from running at full tilt for so long.  

And Xion decides now is the time to point out the tension between him and Sumiko.

Rean grunts. "We don't have time for this-" He starts to say, but then a Large Body rams into him like a rubber wrecking ball. He goes flying, rolling head over heels towards Xion(?).

He sighs, pulling himself back onto his feet. "...I'm trying to NOT think about it, ok?" Rean says to Xion. "Just...give me a bit." He takes a deep breath, and tries to focus on the friends he still had, and all the hope that this mission could go well.  There you go, happy thoughts.   A ring of blue light surrounds him for a moment, as he starts up his ARCUS unit. The spell resolves, forming into a hail of flaming meteors sent spiraling towards the flood of Heartless.

Arkae Zellar (7201) has posed:
Arkae continues thinking good thoughts, just in case. Next up: Eating a bunch of really good food.

Restaurant cheese sticks. Kingdom Hearts isn't light, it's fried bread and cheese, dipped in the red sauce of your choice. There isn't any other answer.

She runs in, doing an odd u-shaped turn around either side of the top of the doorframe, down one wall and up the other to get clear again...

... As she runs, she considers the problem at hand. Seifer's trying to remember something. It's something important, something key to solving this situation probably...

... She tunes her well-honed Adventurer's Intuition to the problem at hand: How do you jog Seifer's memory to get him to remember? Some word, some phrase or action, something that'd bring up a related memory...

She considers, as she runs along the walls. Something...

... Something...

... Nothing?

Her adventurer's intuition and her sense of 'luck', both supernaturally honed through twelve levels of close scrapes and life-or-death adventuring choices, is suggesting... that they can't do it. It's either impossible for Seifer to remember, or at least not something they can do right in the here and the now.

She relays this to Seifer as she fights along the walls of the room. It might not be the most useful bit of info she can pull out, but maybe it'll at least help him focus.

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     Alright, maybe his wife's Dark-aligned, but Seifer adamantly and stubbornly refuses to be. In fact, in what might be the most ridiculous form of spite ever conceived, Seifer turns up the headphones.

     'This is my story.' Shing. Footsteps. 'And this isn't where our story ends.'

     Seifer pistol-whips one of the Heartless as the hopeful music starts to stir. The sound of gunpowder and blades echoes from out of his headphones. Hyperion flicks upwards into the face of one of the bigger Heartless as they surge into the creepy doors.

'Woah. That your girl?' 'Yeah. Her name is Kaya.'

     Seifer whirls around to smash one of the Heartless in the head with Hyperion's butt. Happy thoughts, right? Happy thoughts of him and Sora and Molly. Happy thoughts of him making them sit through the movie. Happy thoughts of him and Molly arguing the finer points of the thing. Molly being a pain just for fun. Sora sitting there the whole time going 'I liked it.' Little moments that Gilgamesh couldn't take away. Little moments that the grey-skinned stranger didn't have the Heart to pull into the darkness.

     'Ayaka. I know. I know you have a responsibility. Or you think you do. But you know what they'll do. If they find out you have Hyne's power-' 'I know. But I have to. The power of Hyne is meant to be used, not hidden. And if I do nothing, Elthane will fall, and Luthiox will rule this continent.'

     Seifer is mouthing it the whole time.

     He is grinning like an idiot.

     His knee swings upwards to nail a Heartless in the face. His fingers go forward to snap at the thing's ear. He's thinking about Caster, about the first time he made *her* sit through the damn thing. He's thinking about Asterios. He's thinking about Tetra. About everybody he's made sit through the thing he cares the most about.

     The second most about.

     'They will take our people. They will burn what they cannot take, and leave our home a broken wreck. I have no choice but to stand. It will be alright. I have faith.'

     Over the radio, Seifer shouts, "Looks like it loops around! Be ready! We might have to open the door to find him! But if we have to jump into Darkness to pull Riku back, then Darkness better watch the heck out! I am bringing some WEAPONS GRADE happy thoughts right now!"

     He grabs onto the little moments and doesn't let go. Sea-salt ice cream. The three of them laughing. The Concord at his back. The moment he became a Hand. Forging the necklaces for himself and Caster.

     There's memories he won't let go of.

     'Gotta try better than that!' 'Not bad, Brume. Not good enough yet.' 'I did better this time, right? Huh, Zefar?'

     He didn't fail Riku.

     You don't fail when you're the protagonist. You keep going till the credits roll, till the happy ending pops up, till all the frustration is passed and you get the freeze-frame smile.

     He's gonna give that freeze-frame smile to them. To Riku, to Kairi, to Molly, to Sora.

     And he is grinning like a *fucking idiot* on the way to the Door.

Guzma has posed:
As Seifer pushes forward, Guzma follows behind, heartless piling up behind them. He doesn't talk - Seifer's in his happy place. He's here to support him.

Tupp, Rapp, and Zipp want to help. They put towards that dais, that gate, being the first to get there due to 'being the closest'. They see that horrible, dark thing. They want to destroy it - but they're not strong enough.

So, their three Pokemon start spitting acid at the Heartless spilling out. "Come on! We'll have your back, yo! We're all homies here!"

They might be the first ones to bite it, if this is truly a horror movie.

Archer has posed:
There's a poem. There's a gate. There's still an endless army of darkness. Outside of now knowing the specific point of where the Heartless are coming from, he's still not sure what the end game is here. Well, that's not true. It's pretty clear the guy wants Kingdom Hearts, and darkness, and to flood the world in an eternal metaphorical night (night being a metaphor for darkness). But as to the /why/, that he hasn't quite figured out.

     Thinking these sort of things out and waffling has never done Archer any good, even in his younger years, so at the moment, he just applies pressure to the gate. Raining various mythological weapons down at the entrance as everyone works everything else. He accommodates his fire for anyone who wants to try going inside, but other than that, he's just helping in holding a line.

Xion (6909) has posed:
Sumiko and Rean continue to chain sparks between each other - emotional spatters of hot oil from the pan. "Do I have to give you two an intervention? Look each other in the eyes, and remember that you've made mistakes! If you're both here to help, you don't have to cling to the blade of a knife."

"You'll cut yourselves." The hooded girl pleads lightly, jogging after the pair.

Seifer says some extra dorky stuff, and the mood lightens. "Only that guy could make the Sorceress' Knight a weaponized happy thought..."

A grimace is cast towards the banks of tubes and past - into the further room. "I don't like this at all. Shouldn't he come out? Or even send something after us to slow us down? We still have to have time --"

A bit of desperation. "-- he can't have won already!"

Staren has posed:
    Alright, now to see if for some reason whoever was using this machine left the readouts open to see instead of leaving it on a password-protected lock screen...

    Reality has good news and bad news for Staren. And also weird news. <"Is this some kind of riddle? It's some poem about darkness and light and hearts and unlocking a door to the realm of Kingdom Hearts!">

    He reads over it a few times but in the heat of the moment his mind just can't seem to shuffle the pieces of the poem into any tactically useful information. Perhaps this Ansem is using the heartless to gather heart and open the way to Kingdom Hearts? But that's not really anything they can use to find Riku... and then Seifer recognizes the tracker up ahead. Stuck on a gateway spewing heartless. This was all a trap.

    No. Don't think like that. Friendship is going to win the day. Somehow.

    Someone starts shouting about happy thoughts. He's not sure who said it first, but... in the few seconds he has free of fighting the heartless, he can focus...

    That is untrue, Staren. I am not mad at you. *Giggle* I probably would have said something like that not so long ago.
    You're one of the reasonable ones. That's why I like talking to you.

    ...Back then, when he felt misunderstood, there was still occasional light in the darkness. Even on one of his worst days...

    I'm just glad I could help in some way. From what you have said, and her words on the radio...it sounds like she will forgive you. You might have to work on it a bit, but I don't think she will hold it against you.
    You're so kind and willing to help people. I'm trying to be more like you. Give people chances, even when they're terrible... I... thought of you, when they called me a monster, and tried to reach out to her. It didn't work out then, but maybe now... It's looking like maybe today doesn't have to be so bad after all. Even after the other incident... Death is tragic, but seeing cooler heads prevail despite it, and work towards harmony... gives me hope for a brighter future.
    It doesn't always work, but it is important to keep trying. If we don't work toward a brighter future, then how will it become any brighter?

    ...That's right. Whatever happens today, Only with hope is there a chance. Otherwise, things can only end in darkness. Staren follows Seifer to the door, albeit with a grimmer look as he blasts and beam-sabers heartless and more damage accumulates on his armor. But his face kind of looks that way most of the time.

    If they have to go through that door, he'll stand by Seifer. Against whatever comes next. For friendship. For a brighter future.

    If he can't do that, then what is everything he's done gathering all this power, getting to this point, /for/?

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Relationships are complicated. Riku's life has been all about relationships and the many ways they go bad, haven't they? Rean himself gets confronted with the giant pile of negative emotions between himself and Sumiko. As he pulls his thoughts away from them, did something change? Or do the Heartless still sense the Darkness there in his heart, that unresolved pain and grief... Not just for Sumiko, but so many other things... But he tries to soldier through anyway, the barrage of meteorites blasting through the Heartless and helping to clear the path a bit more for everyone else.

    Arkae, meanwhile, REALLY loves cheese sticks. And who can blame her? She's working to get things straightened out. Seifer is the de facto leader, but does he know what to do here? She tries figuring out what to do to put him on the right track and just comes up empty. Sometimes, amnesia is a pain in the ass. What to do? What to do?

    Sumiko becomes Dangerously Genre Savvy while the others fight through the horde, Sumiko shredding things to buy the others time to poke and prod at things. Seifer, in the mean time, is arming himself with SERIOUS HAPPY THOUGHTS. Does this make a difference with the actual Heartless threat? It's hard to tell. They're ravening after him regardless. Guzma's goons get assembled before the gate, putting themselves on the line to try to hold it with the others. Archer hurls weapons through it, using the natural chokepoint to his advantage.

    Xion stares at the gate, and exclaims that he can't have won already. Staren thinks it can't be a trap. He believes in himself, he believes in his friends...

    Almost as if in response, there is a sudden shift in the flood. Perhaps alerted by the weapons raining through the gate? Perhaps not. Either way, the flood of Heartless suddenly... ceases. That's the good news. The bad news is there is a massive surge of dark energy, rushing outwards to engulf the room, blotting out all the blinky lights and glowing and the reasonably lit environment into a deep shadow... And that shadow suddenly pulls, dragging at the task force and inexorably dragging anyone with sufficient Protagonist Power towards that gate.

    One after another, they are pulled through...

    And land on a beach. A beach seemingly locked in a sunless twilight. The shacks and simple homes have holes in them, the place looking like it has been through a hurricane. And there, standing looking out to sea, is Riku, clad in his Heartbrand armor. "Pathetic." He says, his voice dispassionate. Cold. "You are even later than I expected." He turns towards the group and gestures. "Do you see this place? A dissolute remnant of the boy's home, taken by the Darkness. It will join the others in time."

    He spreads his arms wide, and there is a rush of black and purple flame, Riku's form melting within it as it shifts into... A tall, tanned man with yellow eyes and white hair. The Heartless emblem holds his coat over his body, the undershirt open and revealing his chest, muscular and toned. White gloves are on his hands, with black pants and large, flared black boots. "All the pieces are in place. I have already won. All that remains are the loose ends. Come, embrace the Darkness!" A hand rises, and black flames suddenly erupt around the group, scorching at them with dark power.

Sumiko (7002) has posed:
Xion keeps bringing up the broken social link between her and Rean, which causes her to narrow her eyes just slightly.  She won't admit to anything and becomes increasingly frowny at this continuous assault on this hot button.  She's about to turn at Xion to say something, but then something happens.  

The door...stops?  

"Oh hey maybe I was w-" it starts to reverse.  Oh no. She stabs her blade into the ground, trying to hold on.  Doing anything to try and keep from flying in.  That seemed like a bad idea, a very very bad idea!  This keeps up as long as it is dramatic, being flung inside.  "I hate being riiiiiight!" she shouts and lands face-first on a beach.  

Thankfully, Seifer's good feelings are hard to ignore.  Standing up, it's only a matter of time before Riku...?  Ansem?  Risem?  Anku?  Anku.  Yes, that's it.  Anku.  He says a few things, but the last part...he's already won?  

"My dude, if you wanted to win, you shouldn't have dragged us here.  You've messed with us, and I can account that like...five of us are more than ready to mess you up.  Cuz we're Concord!" The diamond blade comes back into her hand, even as the dark fire explodes where she was.  The scorching energy runs across her back, burning her as she dives forward, but not enough to stop her.

She dives in, swinging in a few times before jumping off the ground and flying into the air.  Above him, her hand creates several buckshot of glass, aiming to try and pound him full of glass.  

Arkae Zellar (7201) has posed:
Arkae really loves cheese sticks. Especially the ones with spider legs inside. Maybe that shouldn't be shared with the group, though.

She gets pulled through a portal, despite how hard she tries to cling to the wall she's on...

"If you've already won, why bother with the loose ends?" she calls. "And why bother telling us?"


Arkae rallies through the blast of dark power, weathering it, and runs along hte beach towards Riku - or Not!Riku? She's kinda lost the plot again. This is the person they're trying to save? Or destroy? Or something?

She reaches a hand into her bag of holding, drawing forth a vial of off-white fluid. She probably shouldn't use the really deadly poison for this.

She expertly pours the vial over her blade as she runs, and then jumps at the figure, swinging her sword for a shallow cut. Only a shallow one.

Of course, if that shallow cut connects, the target might end up feeling like he needs a little nap...

Guzma has posed:
The Goonzmas are pulled in. Then Guzma. Then everyone else. They land on an eerie beach. Guzma returns Scizor to his ball, squinting at the area. And then he spots Riku, in armor.

Riku talks. He transforms. Guzma grits his teeth. "Screw off! You already won? Then what are we here for, huh? Seifer says we'll win...so I believe in him!"

Guzma grabs an Ultra Ball off his belt. He clicks the button. The Squad sticks back, letting Guzma handle this. They're going to support him from the sidelines, like wrestling groupies, and only get into the attack when it gets bad.

Then the flames don't let them. The Skull Trio is burned, screaming, and Guzma closes his eyes. He can't let them get hurt. He's shaking. He's not strong enough for this, is he? It doesn't matter. He has to keep trying. Why?

"Now, time for introductions. Here's ya boy, GUZMA!"

The ball is thrown. Golisopod is released. And then, Guzma calls out, as the fire licks into him and Golisopod, burning at the bug (who is Water-Type, so not super effective) and searing into Guzma's coat.

"First Impression!"

Golisopod surges forward, and then, it's gone. Too fast to see. Until the last moment, that is, when Ansem has a claw in his gut, striking him with extreme speed and strength in an attempt to do as much early damage as possible.

Guzma's scared. But he has to believe in himself. If he gave up and ran here, Sylvi would literally kill him.

And he'd deserve it.

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     There's the fire.

     'So I heard they're sending us to Elthane. The Elthanian government declared war on us! Isn't that crazy? But they have the Sorceress, so...'

     Seifer barrels directly into it, ahead of the rest of the group. It's one part protectiveness - he's a Gunblade Knight, he's supposed to be doing that kind of thing. He's there to Protect. To Defend. He's got Real Strong Happy Thoughts to share, a wild, intoxicated white grin bolstered by high-fives and fistbumps and hands in the middle and whatever the hell Trinity Marks are supposed to be. Molly on his shoulders and Sora on hers getting a treasure chest. The three of them jumping down and laughing. There's power in that, real power. That's part of his Dream. Yeah, he had his Sorceress. He had a place to live out that life.

     But what's the point without his Brume, his Yuka, and his Kaya? You gotta have the whole crew. It can't just be Ayaka. And maybe living out the movie...

     Well, maybe it can have an even happier ending!

     He's gonna live forever, right? He promised Caster. And he's gonna be a Big Damn Name. A Big Damn Hero. He's got all these ambitions that go right past the movie's limitations and they're all right there on his arm, right next to Sora and Molly high-fiving in a stupid three-way high-five that nevertheless makes him grin even harder.

     'So what? It's just one woman. She might be strong.'
          But we're stronger. We won't let that kind of evil win.          

     The fire washes over him, just like before. One hand goes up against Hyperion's back. It's a small comfort, not much of a deflection. He's getting burned. But he's still grinning with all his might. He is grinning like an idiot. The dark fire licks at his face around Hyperion. It's a cleft through the flame but it's a cleft nonetheless.

     He surges out of the (dragon of the) darkness flame, Hyperion flashing in the dying of the light. "Hey, buddy!"

     "Remember me?!"

     Left, right. Bang, bang. Stab, bang. Swish, bang. The tip of the gunblade dances like Seifer does as he darts around the ground. "'cause I remembered two real important things!"

     'We're deploying you and your team, effective immediately.'

     "First! I don't need to take you on myself! I didn't then, and I don't now! And even if Sora and Molly aren't here, they might as well be, 'cause I know they'd be backin' me up just like everybody else! I got friends, you tan jerk!"

     'You'll be making a deep strike into Elthanian territory.'

     "And second!"

     Seifer dives in close. His arm sweeps out for Ansem's throat. "I remembered that I really wanted to clothesline your stupid face into the ground!"

Staren has posed:
    The heartless stop. And then the portal starts sucking people through. Concern flickers across Staren's face. Boy, it better not go to a black hole that annihilates everything it-- no! Don't think like that! Help Seifer!

    Staren stands up on the... beach? And looks around. Riku is cold and emotionless. "Oh, come on..." Oh, that's right: Riku's possessed or something. By... this guy. Staren's entire right forearm folds away into another space and is replaced with a cannon that starts sucking in energy.

    Staren puts up his forcefield and groans as the darkness washes over it, cracking it and sandblasting away part of it. "See, this is what I don't get about this kind of thing. If you're right, what's the point of caring about darkness or not? Embracing it? Why bother to do anything but lie down and die?"

    Staren blinks. "Oh. Is 'embrace the darkness' just a colorful way of telling us to do that? Fair enough." The arm cannon is now glowing bright blue-white with gathered energy.

    Staren points it at 'Ansem' and releases the gathered energy in one big ol' plasma blast.

    "YOU FIRST!"

Rean Schwarzer has posed:
It is kind of ironic, isn't it?

His whole thing with Riku started because he thought he knew what that was like with his own issues making him hesitate.  And then life decided to pile more crap on top. But at least Seifer can do the Encouraging Sword Hero Thing in his place for now. "That's the spirit!" Rean says.

Then they;'re sucked into the abyss.

"It's a bit too early to say that." Rean says, dramatically pointing his sword. "We're going to get Riku back, no matter what it takes!" He then dashes in, swinginh his sword with enough speed that one strike blossoms into many.

Xion (6909) has posed:
Being attacked by a tide of darkness is one thing.

Being swallowed by a wellspring of darkness is another. Lost in freefall, the hooded girl tumbles through the dark air, and lands face-down and legs sprawled in the sandy beach.

It's all just a little too much, having to yank her head out of the grit and falling back on her butt to recover for a moment. A moment that Ansem - the Seeker of Darkness - denies, with a crashing wave of black fire, consuming the beach and disappearing the recovering hooded girl.

When she leaps out of the roil, it's with both hands frantically patting out her smouldering hood, yanking it off her head. Revealing blue eyes -- and red-auburn hair.

"Riku! I know you're in there, but I also know --" She lifts a hand, pointing a gloved finger up at Ansem. "-- that I'm going to have to blast that cold smile off that man's face!"

"Dia!" Kairi calls, and a rather pale godray-lance of light strikes from 'the skybox' down into Ansem.

Archer has posed:
     They're dragged into the gate, into the remains of what appears to be an island. Riku- no, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, stands to greet them. Though it's not so much a greeting as it is belittlement. So that's what it's like.

     There's no time for bickering though as not shortly after they're expressed disappointment, they're throwing out dark fire. Of course it's dark fire.

     Between the chaos, Archer's talking. More like chanting, really, though it's drowned out by the chaos, and he only stops to quickly remove his red jacket as it gets caught in the burning hot fires of darkness. There's minor burns, but he's dealt with worse. Like being split open. And the Irish.


The chant is finished once more as the world burns away to be replaced with the same environment as last time, though it burns away at a much quicker pace than last time. Almost like the world doesn't have the ability to fight back.

     "I was planning on stopping at the door, but it seems you were much too lonely to do anything other than force a bunch of stranger's into your house. I thought I told Riku that trashed houses were the end result of that, so hopefully you don't hold my redecorating against me."

     Archer pulls one, two keyshaped blades from the ground this time, jumping into action as he attempts the valiant attempt to meet Seifer's clothesline attack from behind and slam both, large keys into the man of darkness' back. Like a Hero.

Riku (6928) has posed:
    "Yes, the Concord. A group with hearts full of Darkness." Ansem leaps backwards as the crystal buckshot rains down around him, and his shadow... rises. The diamond blade is intercepted by a dark claw, a misshapen humanoid rising out of the blackness. Those who have seen Riku might find it familiar, because the creature looks... exactly the same. Has this been a manifestation of Ansem's power through Riku the entire time? The blade punches into the Guardian's black flesh and runs it through, the creature not even pausing as it strikes back at her with a devastatingly direct fist. But the shower has cut Ansem and made him bleed, rivulets beginning to run down across his face and down his body... And if he can bleed, he can be defeated... right? "I would think that you lot of all people would understand."

    Arkae comes in fast and deadly. Is Ansem lying? Maybe. Maybe not. Hard to tell at this point, isn't it? If she is looking to knock him off balance, he doesn't seem to be capable of his. His expression is incisive. Cold. One might even call it... Heartless. The blade comes in, striking at him... And he catches the blade in one hand, stopping it clean. Unfortunately, for him, however, the blade still nicks him... And the poison begins to seep into his body. There is a little shift in his stance, a deepening of that frown on his face. "The Darkness will take you." He replies, before he brings his free hand back and palm-thrusts forward, the air distorting as a burst of black energy explodes into Arkae like a piledriver, trying to launch her across the battlefield.

    Guzma rolls up next. The Skull Trio are outmatched for this, but Guzma himself? Maybe his Heart is strong enough. The Golisopod isn't worried about questions of Light and Dark and Hearts and Friendship. It seems to like benchpressing small cars instead. The massive bug, however, also has fantastic speed when necessary, and the claw punches right into Ansem's gut. There is a grunt of pain and he is knocked backwards. "Ggggh! You think your bravado means anything against the Darkness?" The Guardian turns, lashing out to retaliate against the Golisopod, driving its arm into the ground... As dozens of black spikes erupt around it, trying to pierce it repeatedly!

    Seifer barrels forward. That's his job. He takes point. He takes the punishment. He's being almost literally powered by Happy Thoughts, drawing on the buoying strength of the good times in his life in the face of the power being displayed here. He is a Man with a Dream, a man with a strong Heart. Which is probably why he ended up in this mess to begin with. He believes in himself. He believes he can't let evil win. Hyperion dances, striking and piercing, a hornet sting of pain and precision. The Guardian's arm lashes out, efficiently blocking and parrying each strike with preternatural speed, as if he somehow knew this was going to happen ahead of time...

    And then the clothesline strike comes in, sweeping right past the black beast, only for Ansem to catch it in his hand. "Attempting to ape the idiotic behavior of the Keyblade Wielder will not get you any farther than it did for him." He replies. "There is a powerful Darkness in your heart. You should have simply let it free... Maybe then you might have had a chance." There is a sudden kick, and Ansem sends Seifer flying into a hole that opens up in space. He twists through the Darkness, falling... And the hole opens, Seifer falling from one hole into another, then looping back again and again and again.... Before finally, the last hole simply vanishes, letting Seifer plummet into the ground at absurd speed.

Riku (6928) has posed:
    "Why care?" Ansem tilts his head at Staren, then, a brow arching. "You are almost prepared to ask the right questions. An inquisitive mind... But you still understand nothing." The massive blast is fired at him, the tan man getting Mega Bustered in classic fashion. The plasma blast detonates around him... And he emerges, scorched, but still intact. "All worlds begin in Darkness. And all so end. The Heart is no different. Darkness sprouts within it, it grows, consumes it. Such is its nature." He holds out a hand, a massive surge of black energy growing as he gathers his own power. "In the end, every heart returns to the darkness whence it came." At that, there is a dull THUD as he simply releases the blast, the spiralling sphere trailing shadowflame as he fires back to Staren.

    Rean closes in to slash at Ansem. The blade strikes fast and true, leaving several cuts across his body... But the Guardian again interposes, preventing a clean strike on the man as he slashes past. "Early or late, it does not matter. The Darkness awaits you." A hand clenches, and black energy detonates around Rean, crushing in on him before the energy blasts outwards.

    Xion arrives in her own special way, and her hood falls back, revealing her face. Maybe there is a glint there, a moment of recognition. "You." Ansem states with the same cold tone. "You have outlived your usefulness. How are you even here, I wonder? You can't possibly be her." This is then puncuated by the beams of pure light that scorch down on him, causing him to growl and fall backwards. "Accursed Light. Are you truly seeking to pit your fragile frame against the unlimited power of Darkness?" His hands clench together, and a massive surge of gravitational forces begin sucking Kairi towards the center of that horrific event horizon, spinning her about in a torrent of entropic force that rips at her before it, too implodes in a silent, hellish blast.

    Archer then comes in hard, continuing to impose his power on the area. Ansem shakes his head as the Reality Marble begins overwriting the envrionment, like there is little or nothing actually stopping it from happening. "You fool. You think you are going to-" His words are cut off as the dual keyblades slash into his back, leaving a painful-looking pair of cuts on his back. "You are going to live to regret this." He fents forward with his fist, about to strike when the Guardian appears to his right side, rushing across to shoulder-check the man instead with the finesse and power of a freight train.

Arkae Zellar (7201) has posed:
"The Concord... isn't! Full of darkness!"

"We believe in exceptionalism! In individuals shining so brightly that doing anything but moving everything else out of the way for them would be unthinkable!"

Arkae gets back up from the blast of darkness, and runs at him again. Her battle strategy isn't really complicated - get in close, use poisoned sword on person, get out without being hit.

Repeated hits of the sleeping poison should start to stack up... eventually. She just needs to keep making cuts.

And then, afterwards, she turns and grabs a spare sword from her bag, and throws it towards Seifer, since he's doing a thing. The curved blade glistens - a dose of preapplied poison active on it.

The good stuff.

Sumiko (7002) has posed:
Sumiko and the demon clash, thankfully she still remembers how it moves from the short time she had it.  Though she thinks to steal it, she reminds herself it would likely be useless right now.  Considering her options, she decides to continue on how things are going.  Once more, the two collide, as it dashes at her, she moves just slightly, aiming to try and circle around the creature.  

What happens is that she is still caught, and sent back smashing into some terrain.  Unfortunately for Anku, she was not flattened by the attack.  Having had used her momentum to help send it's own a different direction.  However, something is...different.  The arm holding the blade is...larger.  Definitely larger than the rest of her.  

The muscles are unnaturally taut around her structure.  She dives at him this time, swinging the blade with strange precision and accuracy.  Her moves faster and stronger, more precise, and with more energy behind them.  Should they land, she starts to change.  Legs becoming larger and the same taut structure as her arms.  Her eyes becoming nothing but gleaming gems.  

"That just shows you don't know anything about us.  You're blinded by darkness, a means to an end.  You fill yourself with it, but forget to hold onto what makes you human...and even a monster like me can see that!  We might have hearts that aren't exactly good-natured, but we're honest with ourselves, and do not delude ourselves into thinking every end justifies every mean!"

"Not that I care...you are a stepping stone for me!  A step to making myself a place I will rule with my own hands..." she grins, as a shadow passes over her face, only her eyes and mouth visible.  "Just because we're both of darkness, doesn't mean we're allies...my desires outstrip your own." she swings again.

However, any strike would seem to make him weaker.  She was literally stealing his vitality and increasing her own ability with it.  "I will have everything!~  And I will take it by force if I must!~"  She says even as her heart pounds, her feelings rage out of control.  She wants to cry, she wants to scream, she wants to kick Rean in the teeth, she wants to get out of this entire situation...but all she can do is beat down her problems, and fight for the goals she sets for herself.

Archer has posed:
     Seifer slams the dirt, something Archer has been keeping an eye on, even as Ansem's Guardian comes out to deal with him. Archer crosses the two blades in front of him to absorb the impact, but even though they absorb most of the impact, they still eventually shatter and cause Archer to go skidding across the ground for a good bit as he jams the remains of the broken blades into the ground beneath to slow him. He stops roughly next to Gunblade Knight himself. Funny how that works.

     His knees are weak for the briefest of moments, but he eventually pulls himself off the ground, grabbing hold of Seifer's hand, specifically the one still grasping on to Hyperion. There's a small click in the Heroic Spirit's head, before he uses his strength to pull Seifer back up on his feet with minimal effort.

     "You keep grinning like an idiot. But only winners or assholes get to grin. And while we can debate if you're the latter, you're definitely not the former."

     They joke, running a hand through their hair before their voice becomes a bit more serious.

     "So, let's fix that, shall we?"

     The ground shakes as new blades sprout out from the ground like flowers. Or emerging ancient treasures. Whatever your preference for prose is, it doesn't matter because they're all Hyperions. Hyperions with a drastically decreased chamber size, from the looks of things, but Hyperion all the same.

     This seems to be the setup for Seifer more than anything though, as Archer's already making something else. Green lines glow and fizzle down his arms as he goes through the process. The very, painful and intensive process of making a holy sword. The sword of Promised Victory.

     Like everything else he makes, it's just a fraction of something greater, but that doesn't stop him from firmly grasping the hilt with both hands as the gold and blue sword begins teaming with power.

     "This light is the sword of the king who can never be reached. Forever Distant Golden Sword - Excalibur Image!"

     The sword is brought down through the air, releasing a  torrential flood of LIGHT acrossthe battlefield. Towards Ansem's Guardian, and specifically, towards Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.

Guzma has posed:
After the fire attack, the injured Goonzmas pull back. Dark spears plunge into Golisopod after the successful claw attack, tearing into its armor, knocking it backwards, and causing Guzma to grimace. He needs to hold it together. Golispod can keep it going. It's stronger than this. He just has to believe.

He's the Big Bad Guzma. He can do this.

"Golisopod. Razor Shell." Guzma calls out, trying to stay calm and failing miserably, as blue energy surrounds Golisopod's armor. It charges forward, moving to strike into Ansem...

"Now, Pin Missile, up close!"

As soon as the slash hits Ansem with strength and speed, purple missile-like energy needles blast out of Golisopod's back, moving to rip through him point blank.

"Maybe not! But I can't be scared, can I? This boat runs on smiles, y'know! Boss's orders!" And then, Guzma grins. It's not a happy, or authentic grin. But he's listening. He's trying.

Staren has posed:
    Ansem... actually TALKS to him. 'In the end, every heart returns to darkness' makes something flicker across his face again, as he wonders if the last moments of even those who claim contentment are spent in fear as they realize their death is truly at hand.

    Reflexively, he takes a defensive posture and puts up his forcefield again, but the shadow blast breaks away part of the forcefield and sends Staren stumbling back from the impact, crouching to regain his balance.

    He stands. "You're not entirely wrong." He begins trying to circle around, rapidly firing smaller bolts of energy as he tries to make it hard for Ansem to dodge ALL of them.

    "Every heart has darkness in it. If we did not want, if we never take, we would not care enough to survive. But we don't have to let base instincts define us. And even if we did... even animals can work together, and protect their children..."

    Staren blinks and stops, as he kind of stumbles into a possible insight in heartology. "Ah... is that the root of the light that opposes your darkness?" His arm is a whir of moving parts, and then it's holding an oversized, chrome-plated revolver. He takes aim. "Living not for yourself, but for someone else. Having Something To Protect. Perhaps you've never had a pet, or a friend, or a child. Another life depending on you."

    "How very sad." But then his eyes widen in realization. He lowers the weapon and holds out his other hand, suddenly sounding desperate. "It's not too late! Join us! Give, give Riku back and we'll help make your dreams come true, too!"

Rean Schwarzer has posed:
'Early or late, it does not matter. The Darkness awaits you. ' Ansem says.

He knew that. Of COURSE he knew that. Darkness or Death were both inevitable, and it hurt so much! What was he supposed to do? Hold on to this forever? Go through this every single time?

No, he...He didn't want to live like this forever.

'...I'm being a child.' Rean thinks.

"So what?!" Rean shouts, igniting his sword. "Just because it's inevitable, doesn't mean we should just give up!"  He feels the air pressing in on him, and he jumps back, avoiding the black hole completely. He swings the blade out to his side, preparing to rush Ansem again. "We keep moving, no matter what happens!"

He turns to Sumiko. He lets out a sigh, trying to tamp down on how much he missed Mikoto. "...I'm sorry, ok? I know you're not her anymore, and you'll never /be/ her. And I'm not mad that you kept it from me. Not anymore. If I'm mad at anyone, it's...me. I shouldn't be taking it out on you."

He then takes his sword in both hands, and charges in at Ansem, slashing at him with brilliant red flames. He didn't want to keep fighting Sumiko for the rest of his life. What about her?

Xion (6909) has posed:
An event horizon. Overwhelming darkness.

But the words that are spoken are rough. They don't have the bite that Riku's words had. They didn't hurt the way that poorly thought out, harmful things hurt.

The darkness pools at her feet, and like standing on the surface of a lake, it eddies and pools around the soles of her boots. Kairi looks down, first at her hand with the empty washed-out motes of light. "I've already been through the darkness. I remember it. Two eternities. A state of nonexistance. But I remember my friend. These people remember my friend!"

She takes a casting stance, fingers steepling together. "So no - I won't try to match my dim light to your darkness. I'll reach out to you - through our bond! The light isn't my power: other people are! All these people here. Your partner, Riku. I'll save you with their power."

Her eyes close. "Trace: On." Her incantation is an audible whisper. She 'draws' a spiral of chrome and brass wreathed in a rainbow from the air with a bright 'shwink!' the blade immediately being brought down into the pool of darkness. "Caladbolg!"

Light of all colors, red through violet, pours outward in a cascade, clashing against the darkness of the black hole - and upward, outward.

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     Yeah, that was a mistake.

     Seifer can't hear the comeback, but he can figure it out pretty quickly as he's flung into the portal. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again, and...

     The hit is *meteoric*. He crashes into the ground as hard as it's physically possible to do. There's a loud *whud* and an explosion of sand, darkness, and dust. He lays there for a second, groaning. He's also definitely, definitely bleeding. In a whole bunch of places. A JRPG Dramatic Cutscene number of places. Yep. Something's broken.

     Turns out it's the media player.
     The sound of The Sorceress's Knight sputters and dies. The headphones are useless.

     Seifer lays there in the darkness, staring up into the void. For a moment, there's the flicker of thought. Maybe he should have-



     He's an idiot.

     A huge grin spreads across his face. It's even goofier than before. He doesn't even need the headphones to recite that movie shot for shot, but that's not the thing that's driving him onwards.

     Archer pulls him to his feet. The hill of swords springs to life. Seifer tilts his head at Archer, a bit of a grin on his face. "Yeah, well. You better forget that blade after this, you hear me?"

     He stares up as the blades sprout forth around him. At the lances of light from Kairi. At Rean's rapid strikes. At Staren's energy blast. Guzma's Golisopod stab. Arkae's poison cuts. Sumiko's flashing strikes.

     His grin just widens.


     Seifer takes a step forward. "You're right. The Darkness did make you strong. It even gave you your own little friend. Your own little friend to protect you. Defend you. Hold your hand. Keep you safe from all the big bad light."

     Another step. "Looks pretty useful. Yeah. Yeah, I can see it. That's the thing in your heart."

     "Another you. To fight on your side."

     Step. Step. His feet drag across the sand. His grin is just widening. "I got friends, you know? Sora. Molly. A lotta the people here. Some of 'em I barely know. Some of 'em I don't know at all. They're all here to support me."

     Hyperion points up. "And they're all here to support you!"

     Seifer thumps his free hand on his chest. "Every single person here is here to save the guy you locked up inside your heart! Or the guy locked up inside your body! You hear that, Riku? They're not just here for me! They're here for you, too!"

     "We're gonna fight till we tear the dark right out of you!"

     Seifer runs his fingers through his short blonde hair. "Yeah....yeah, that's the thing. I got lots of friends. Riku's got lots of friends. Friends he ain't even met. Friends he ain't even said hello to. Friends who don't even know his name. But they're all here for him!"

     "Who've you got here for you?"

     Seifer's blade tips to point at the Shadow. "Yourself? Your own Shadow? Pretty sad."

     "Sure is handy, though." The Gunblade Knight scratches the back of his head. "Can't get past that defense. Lets you do whatever you want on offense. Yeah. Real doozy."

     Seifer shoulders his blade. He taps Hyperion once. "How about I make this fight a little more even in our favor, huh? You get a buddy. It's only fair. It's time we fight like men. And ladies. And ladies who dress like men!"


Seifer Almasy has posed:
     The roar that bursts forth echoes through the darkness. It's not Seifer's. It's the massive grey giant's.


     Three massive arms. Three cardboard arms. A cloak, shrouding grey face in mystery and excitement. No legs; just a trailing spectre over Seifer's shoulder.

     Seifer breaks into a run. The six-armed giant catches Arkae's blade in one huge hand. All around them are flowers of blades. Most of them are his own. Some of them are legendary spears, legendary swords. It doesn't matter. Gilgamesh's arms snap outwards. They scoop up blades and hurl them, deadly, murderous frisbees. Hyperion spears go shooting forward, turning back into their true selves in Gilgamesh's hands. The grey giant rips up a pair of blades as he and Seifer pass and jams them together - one black, one white, all spear.

     Seifer jumps from the beach onto the floating debris, dancing between the Pin Missiles. He ducks and rolls through the attack as Gilgamesh grabs one in his third arm.

     The cape swings backwards. Cardboard arms fall away.

     "Surprise!" Gilgamesh shouts, "I was only PRETENDING to have three arms!"

     One of those three arms plucks a sword out of Sumiko's hands as Seifer bounds off a tree. Seifer is not mobile, but he doesn't have to be, not here in the Darkness - the Darkness is a place beyond physics, a place coming undone. He just needs something to jump off of.

     Rean's a big distraction, a flaming sword, a blaze of distracting fire and passion and Feelings. Sumiko's draining power and forcing Ansem to dance to her tune. That's just what Seifer needs. Seifer bounds off a floating rock past Staren. Gilgamesh just sort of yoinks the beam saber off Staren's belt, igniting it in mid-stroke.

     "I need one more!" Gilgamesh shouts.

     "Take this!"

     Seifer tosses Hyperion up.

     One grey arm snatches it out of the air.

     Seifer grabs another tree. He shoots forward.

     "You've got yourself!"




     Seifer smiling. Molly smiling. Sora smiling.

     "Let's make a promise."

     Sora grabs their hands. "If we ever get separated, no matter what, we'll come find each other, yeah?"

     Molly nods. Seifer nods. Sora nods. And then, as one-

                                     I promise.                                

     Six blades as one. Gilgamesh smashes them against the Shadow. Black-and-white spear, silver gunblade, blazing beam saber, crystalline rapier, pin needle, poisoned blade. They glitter in the dark. They whirl with determination. They stab and slash and cut and blaze against the Shadow with a barrage of light. All to hold it steady. All to hold the Shadow down. All to force Ansem's self-reliance into a corner.

     So that Kairi and Archer can *punch right the fuck through him.*

     Because, in the end, that's always been Seifer's job.

     He's the rock on which everybody else gets to stand.

Riku (6928) has posed:
    "You should give up. What is the point of fighting? Accept the Darkness." Ansem replies to Rean. "What do you think you are going to accomplish with that? Flailing about like a child." The blade slashes at him, and the Guardian is there, the burning blade cleaving into it and taking the brunt of the strike. The slash cuts and scorches lightly into Ansem himself, and he pulls away before Rean can follow up with another blow... But doesn't retaliate. Why? What does he have in mind? He's about to find out...

    Ansem floats backward, gliding along the ground like it barely exists while the Guardian interposes itself between himself and Sumiko. The strikes come fast and furious, the way the woman changes gaining another quizzical arch of the eyebrow. "You are a slave to your Darkness, while I control it. I will hold the source of all Darkness in my hands, and through it gain ultimate mastery of all Hearts. If you were more wise, you would have sought my counsel, not my fist. You do not understand the true power of Darkness!" The blade stabs past the Guardian, cutting into him and robbing him of a portion of his vitality... But even as the strike lands, there is a surge of energy in her chest, as if he is grabbing onto that dark power amidst her emotional rage... And she is launched at high speed towards the target of those emotions: Rean, a snapping tether of black energy drawing them together! Rean's apology might be met with a Sumiko to the face.

    Arkae tries to refute Ansem, and he shakes his head. "The Concord feeds on the darkness. Ambition. Greed. Anger. Desire. Do you think I was blind to everything the foolish boy saw? You dress it up in quaint lights, but in the end that is all it is. Dressing." But the poisoned blade strikes him, another dose of the deadly fluid is introduced to his blood, and he gets visibly weaker. He might not be succumbing as fast as some, but he is succumbing... He isn't immune to poison, it seems.

    But before he can combo into a finisher, Guzma is right on that, breaking that combo like he breaks beats, the Golisopod hammering into him with that razor-sharp shell and blasting him back. That would be bad enough, but the spikes tear into him on a followup, simply brutalizing his way through the Guardian trying to stop the attack. The strike hammers him down, driving him back as he tries to shake off his wounds... But it's becoming harder harder between the poison and vast amounts of stacking physical traume. "Smiling in the face of your destruction is simply being a fool." Ansem replies. "The Darkness comes for you."

    Staren goes on the defensive. He falls backwards, goes on the defensive. Ansem looks over at the scientist, and tilts his head. "The Darkness is more powerful than the Light. This is the way of things. In the end, all Light will fade and be consumed. Every star is simply a momentary flare against the eternity of the Darkness." The energy bolts are partially blocked by the Guardian as it rotates around, but Staren seems to have figured out the lateral speed just right to slip a few past the rotation, causing him to jerk several times. "Do you wish to understand it? Open your Heart to the Darkness, and embrace it, and perhaps you will learn to understand as I have." At the rest of the offer, he turns away. "If you wish to work together, you will need to find a better time to make your offer." Perhaps notably, he doesn't actually assault Staren...

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Possibly because he's taking a blazing blast of holy light straight to the face. The massive blast catches him as he falls back, a shadow in the burning beam as he raises his hand, an actual cry of pain being wrung from him as he falls backwards. He tries to hurl himself from the melting blaze, but even as he moves, Caladbolg strikes, the spiralling blast of rainbow light crossing with the gold to create a prismatic spray of combined energies, crossing the streams right on top of him.

    "No... I refuse... The power of Darkness... is supreme!" The beams suddenly break, splaying out as the Guardian manifests itself, the blot of Darkness growing larger and larger against that Light. Shadows lengthen, the world begins to darken, falling away as Ansem begins to counteract that overwhelming paired force...

    Until Gilgamesh comes. Seifer strikes, unleashing the immense combined power of his friends, everyone who came together to help Seifer... To save Riku. The combined efforts of all of their power rains down upon Ansem, wielded by that Guardian Force to strike down that defense...

    And the Guardian, seemingly immortal, shatters with an actual scream of pain from the Seeker of Darkness. Unmitigated now, the man falls back, the wash crashing into him and overwhelming him with the final blasts from the twin beams of light...

    And he is left on one knee, knocked out of the air. He shakes his head, smoking, smouldering, his body distorting in strange ways as he struggles to keep himself coherent. "Not enough. I miscalculated. I need time. I need..." There is a cold glance at... Archer. He pulls the glove off his hand, and raises his fist. The very distinctive markings that resemble a Heartless sign...but not. "In the end, the Darkness will have its due." There is a flare of light as he activates one of the Command Seals. "Prevent my enemies from following me." He commands Archer. The Seal begins to unmake itself as he expends one of his Commands...

    And then he leaps backwards into the surf. "I go to the deepest Darkness beyond Dark. Follow if you dare." At that, the air shatters behind him, and he hurls himself into a hole beyond, revealing a vast glittering ocean of shadow and a melting mishmash of detritus, the Seeker of Darkness simply plunging into that vast ocean and vanishing.

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     Ansem goes to run.

     After all that, he's still alive. He's still there. He's running, but he's alive.

     But that's better than the alternative. If they had killed Riku, if they had-

     No. No, he's not gonna think that way.

     And then Ansem reminds him that Ansem has Riku's body. And that's all the proof he needs.


     The grey giant's arm snaps outwards. Blue light drags at Ansem's arm as he disappears. "Riku's still in there, fighting! Your Master's still in there, fighting!"

     The blue light slams into the back of Seifer's hand. The Command Spells on his arm twitch. A fourth one grows, a brief, burning imitation. It's not how Draw's meant to be used, but then, a Command Spell is only supposed to be used by an owner anyway, right? And Ansem's not the owner - just borrowing the body.

     "Archer! Cancel that order! We're all gonna save Riku together - and that means you, too, you red pain in the butt!"

Sumiko (7002) has posed:
Sumiko is matching pace with the Master of the Darkness within darkness and his animal companion.  Each strike empowering her, each strike weakening it in return.  However, physical prowess was still in his favor, she was just able to keep up thanks to her innate advantage.  She laughs at his response to her.  

"Why would I bow to you?  I know what I am about, I don't embrace the greed...I accept what I am.  The good and the bad...the weak part of myself, and its strengths.  There is only one thing I hide from...and that is my burden to bear.  Maybe I'll never overcome it, but I won't know until I live my own life."

Of course, it was that bit of distraction, as Rean says his peace, her face softens for just a moment until the ball drags her right towards his face.  She just narrowly flips, instead of hitting him in the face, she hits the ground and rolls until she crashes into him...far more manageable.  

"Ow," she says, but her stolen sword, thanks Greg, is being put to better use.  She takes a moment to look up towards Rean.  With a sigh, she sits up and looks at the kid.  "No, you have a right to be angry.  It wasn't just you who lost someone that day...when you have someone living in your head for that long, you kind of get attached."

She looks at herself, the monstrous form appearing, "I...she...we hid from you, because...we didn't want to hurt you.  By the time we became serious with you, it was far too late we felt.  Maybe we could find a solution, maybe there was a better time to solve it..?  We didn't know.  It probably was vanity, though.  I don't like to look like this, despite what I said to the old man."

"But...I do accept what I am, or else I am denying that part of me.  I should have accepted it faster, and been more honest," she says, finally standing up.  "I guess I lost a possession because of that...but I can live with this."

Archer has posed:
     Ansem calls upon the power of his Command Spells. Something Riku never entertained, Archer sucks through his teeth. As much as he wanted to be the asshole genie for that command, that's not how it works.

     There's a rumble from below as massive blades begin to sprout from beneath the earth to block the party's path, but Seifer does some quick, probably once in a life time thinking to stop it. Unfortunately, the rest of what he wants is a bit on the vague side. Which causes Archer to shrug.

     With a wave of his hands, the swords he was erecting disappear, though other than that he remains solely in place.

     "He has a least two more Command Spells, Seifer Almasy. My best bet for saving Riku would be staying behind at this point and making sure no reinforcements come while you're dealing with him, we can't pray for you to catch a command again in time in the middle of battle. Though, it's not like that last bit means much, I don't know if Caster told you, but a Command Spell has to be a bit more absolute than that or else it gets extremely muddled."

     Archer rubs his nose smugly, but it's pretty clear that he's made up his mind. And that he's taking that last bit of directions how he wants to take it.

Staren has posed:
    Staren waves the hand at Ansem's suggestion to embrace the darkness. "Nah. I've got this whole THING I'm fighting for. Unless all this talk and metaphor actually has nothing to do with anything, and the darkness is actually free power we can turn to the ends of metaphorical light."

    And then Rean charges in and Seifer actually summons Gilgamesh to help. (Later, Staren will wonder what memories Gilgamesh ate to power that.) They've got Ansem on his back foot. They've got him on the retreat, and they're ALREADY in his twilight darkness world, so he has nowhere to--

    The deepest Darkness beyond Dark? How far down does this go?

    More immediately concerning, he's commanding Archer to fight them (Archer is Riku's servant?!) but then Seifer's countermanding it.

    Staren looks to Seifer just to confirm that walking ahead is the most expedient path here and there's no more metaphysical darkness and light stuff to do. Then he applies some sealant to the worst cracks in his metal skin and starts wading out into the water.

Rean Schwarzer has posed:
Unfortunately, Ansem escapes. Also, he threw Sumiko at him, but she's fast enough to just roll up and bump into his legs.

And so they talk. Rean sits down at her level, and listens. They both lost someone that day, and they both were hurting about it. Both of them screwed up, in the end. That and...

"We're both /really/ bad about that, aren't we?" Rean says, letting out a small laugh. "Being honest with one another."

"Let's start over. As much as we can, I guess."  Rean says, standing back up. He then holds out a hand for Sumiko to shake whether it's in the monster form or not. "It's nice to meet you, Sumiko. The name's Rean Schwarzer."  Rean says, smiling.

Xion (6909) has posed:
Kairi, staggeringly, drops to one knee, born up by Caladbolg held in both hands. "Wow, Seifer. You really went all out! Were you holding back on me? If you weren't: I definitely want whatever you're eating for breakfast. If you were:"

Kairi smiles. "Thanks."

She shoves back up to her feet, leaving Caladbolg stuck in the sand of the sunken 'Dark Destiny Island', Ansem fleeing into the Deeper Dark... Deep... Darkness...

"Wow, that has *lost* all meaning." Kairi observes bluntly, giving a consideration to Archer. "We'll get your partner back, Archer. Here."

Lifting Caladbolg, she underhands the weapons towards the servant. "One on me."

Rean and Sumiko are given space, the auburn-haired girl smiling lightly in their direction. She COULD make it weird. She doesn't.

Staren's choice gets a quiet 'THANK you'. "That's... not how 'that guy' works. You don't... turn darkness towards the power of light. It's the power of darkness. You can do stuff with it. Riku did a lot of stuff with it. 'Dark' isn't bad, just like 'Light' isn't good."

Kairi points at the roiling sea of darkness Ansem escaped into. "But you can pretty much tell how terrible of a person whatever took control of Riku is. Make sense? Because I can't explain the nuances of darkness while my friend is in danger."