Kingdom Hearts: Friendship is Magic

by Mudkipman98

First published

The final battle between Sora and Xehanort was a failure. Sora is on his last legs and his friends have all been captured. When he refuses to help Xehanort, he is sent into darkness. What he finds on the other side surprises him above all else.

The final battle between Sora and Xehanort was a failure. Sora is on his last legs and his friends have all been captured. When he refuses to help Xehanort, he is sent into darkness. What he finds on the other side surprises him above all else.

Keyblade images provided by Xelim on deviantart. Here is the link to his profile page.
The keyblades can be found in his gallery under the 'keyblades' section on the left panel.

Also, feedback is always appreciated, especially if it's constructive criticism. If you leave a downvote, please tell me what I screwed up on so I can fix it. :pinkiesmile:

EDIT: Holy crap! Featured?! Thank you so much guys! (1/14/15)


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Sora slowly pushed himself off of the cold earth that lay in the Realm of Darkness, using his keyblade for support. He was covered with cuts and bruises, and barely moving caused him extreme pain. And yet, he kept pushing until he stood again, using the keyblade as a cane.

As he lifted his head, he looked up into what passed for a sky in the Realm of Darkness; black, thunderous clouds hung in the ‘sky’, producing a small amount of rain in the desolate realm. Among the hanging balls of lightning, Sora could make out the colossal form of a Darkside, darkness spreading from it like a cancer.

Coming from the heart shaped hole in its chest were strands of electricity. These bolts were connected to Lea, Mickey, Riku, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra, each of which was being suspended high in the sky. Above the Darkside floated Xehanort, staring down at Sora with a look of complete victory and satisfaction on his face.

“Now, Sora,” rumbled the old keyblade wielder's voice, “bear witness to the creation of the X-blade!” Next to Xehanort appeared 13 figures in black coats, their hoods pulled over their faces to disguise their identities. As soon as they appeared, they were gone again leaving behind only black hearts that had been tainted by darkness. Xehanort summoned his keyblade and with it, gathered the 13 dark hearts, commanding them to come together at its tip. He then used his free arm to point his palm at Sora’s six trapped friends.

Sora could only watch as the lightning that connected his friends to the Darkside intensified, turning from a bright blue to a deep blackish purple. They began to shake violently, screaming as their hearts were slowly being stolen.

“Sora, come and join your friends. Help me complete the X-Blade!” yelled Xehanort over the screaming and howling of the thunder and wind.

“No!” yelled Sora in defiance. “I won't give up!"

Xehanort shot an annoyed look at Sora. “No matter,” he said. “I know another keyblade wielder who will do just fine as a replacement.” Behind him, a dark portal appeared. Out of it fell Kairi who was immediately captured in another strand of Darkside lightning.

With Kairi trapped, Xehanort began to steal her heart as well. “No!” yelled Sora. Summoning up all the strength he had left, he charged his keyblade full of light and activated his Ragnarok limit, firing a massive salvo of light at Xehanort who easily deflected them, sending the strands of energy spiraling into the deepest recesses of the dark realm.

“I have no use for you anymore,” said Xehanort coldly. “Be gone.” With that, Xehanort summoned a dark hole under Sora which he quickly sank into. He kept his concentration on Ragnarok though, and he managed to pilot the last shot of light from his attack back behind his friends. The light missile struck Riku, launching him out of Xehanort’s control and toward Sora as he sunk even lower in the darkness. Xehanort’s look of victory turned to one of mixed surprise and anger as Riku landed in the darkness with Sora and sunk even deeper with him.

Sora caught Riku and together, they disappeared from the Dark Realm. Xehanort became enraged and summoned one the largest armies of heartless ever witnessed by mortal eyes, their bodies forming from the dark clouds themselves as Neoshadows, Darkballs, and Invisibles. Through the darkness trudged a much larger foe, the Hunter of the Dark. These millions of heartless followed by their powerful Hunter turned towards their master, awaiting his command. “After them!” shouted Xehanort. “We need at least one of them to form the X-Blade!” His heartless followed his orders and scrambled through the portal after Sora and Riku, widening it and allowing more to filter in.

As they entered into the realm between, pushing after the two hearts of light belonging to Sora and Riku, new portals began to open, directing them to different places and spreading them out to different worlds. Only a few followed Sora and Riku through their descent; a few small shadows, and the Hunter of the Dark.


The darkness that surrounded Sora and continued to suck him down choked him, cutting off his air as he fell deeper and deeper into the void. Suddenly, the darkness was gone. He feared to open his eyes, scared that he would wake up in the realms between. Finally, when he worked up the courage to do so, he opened his eyes. What he saw startled him. What he heard scared him.

“Um, excuse me? Are you ok?” spoke a soft voice.


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Fluttershy had been tending to her animals near her cottage when a loud bang startled her, causing her to jump into the nearest bush to hide. As she looked out from her leafy cover, she saw a massive thunderstorm spinning in the sky over the nearby field. Out of the dark grey clouds in the sky fell two objects, both covered in an electric blue aura and leaving a trail of energy in the same color. She watched the two objects plummet for a minute before they impacted in the hill, creating a shockwave that spread throughout the area. Gathering what courage Fluttershy had, she left the protection of her bush and set out to investigate.

When she was about halfway there, she started thinking to herself, Maybe I should call Twilight or Rainbow Dash. What if those things are dangerous? Oh, I knew this was a bad idea.

She arrived in the field within minutes, contemplating the fate of the crashed objects. The field consisted of a few small hills covered in bright green grass. It had a few patches of flowers dotting its landscape, but it was mostly barren of anything unique.

From where she stood on the edge of the field, Fluttershy could see the steam rising from the crash site. She cautiously made her way there, ducking behind bushes and diving into divots, fearful of what could lie in the now much closer pile of smoldering dirt. She considered simply giving up and attempting to escape back to her cottage to get help from Twilight or Rainbow Dash, but she decided to steal herself and push ahead.

When she finally arrived, she slowly peeked her head over the edge of the small crater that the two objects had created. Inside, she saw two, still aliens. As she looked them over, plenty of questions started flashing through her head. What are they? Are they hurt? They don't look okay, but maybe aliens just fall from the sky all the time? No, that doesn't make any sense.

Slowly, Fluttershy crept over the edge of the crater and approached the first one. It had long, spiky brown hair and wore black, damaged clothes. It was badly scraped up, but its breathing was normal.

Carefully, she stuck out her hoof and poked it in the face. It started to stir, causing Fluttershy to take a cautious step back. She forced herself to hold her ground as she poked the alien again, this time in what appeared to be its shoulder. The creature lifted its arm, causing Fluttershy to freeze in fear. It slowly brushed its shoulder and in a male voice said, "Ugh, just five more minutes."

Fluttershy could understand it. At first, she wasn't sure if that was good or bad. The creature stirred once more as it slowly opened its eyes and looked around. "Kairi?" it asked in a slurred voice.

"Um, excuse me. Are you alright?" asked Fluttershy calmly.


Sora looked into the yellow creature's big teal eyes. As soon as he realized that it wasn't human, he rolled to his side, back flipped into the air, summoned his keyblade, then landed in a perfect combat stance. Only half a second passed before Sora fell on one knee, still wounded from his fight with Xehanort.

As he brought his head up, he saw the creature that had woken him. It appeared to be a pegasus(1), and it was cowering on the other side of the crater that he and Riku created.

He dismissed his keyblade and slowly made his way toward the pony. "Hi," he said in a weak tone. "I'm Sora. What's your name?"
"I'm Fluttershy," she stammered.

"Sorry, what?"
"I said my name is Fluttershy," she said quieter.

"Didn't quite catch that." Fluttershy made a small squeak. "Um, ok. Where am I?" asked Sora as he slowly stood up straight.

Fluttershy gathered her courage and finally managed to form an audible sentence. "You're outside of Ponyville," she whispered.

"Ponyville? I've never heard of it." Suddenly, Sora remembered the events of the past few hours. "Where's Riku?" he asked frantically.

"Is that Riku?" responded Fluttershy as she pointed a hoof in the direction of the crater. Sora swept his eyes over the crater he had made until he found the still form of Riku.

He hobbled to his friend's side then got down on one knee next to him. He lifted his head and said, "Don't worry Riku, I'll get you help." He then turned to the yellow pegasus. "Hey, can you help us?" After a second of thought, Fluttershy nodded her head nervously. After all, she took care of wild animals all day. How hard could it be to take care of a couple of aliens?


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Fluttershy was just about to speak again when she saw what appeared to be a shadow come out of the ground behind Sora and Riku. "Look ou-!" Before she could finish speaking, Sora set down Riku, summoned his keyblade, then spun around, slicing through the heartless in one clean move.

Fluttershy was speechless. Even in his condition, the alien had somehow stopped the creature behind him. She gulped as she thought about what else this other thing could do. Maybe he had some kind of magic as well. After all, his weapon had just appeared out of thin air in a flash of light. She decided that she should take Sora and Riku to see Twilight ASAP.

Sora stumbled again and Fluttershy rushed to his side. She supported him with her wing as she set him down. "Oh, please don't move again. You're hurt," she said.

Sora grunted before responding again. "No. I've gotta protect Riku. We're not safe here."

"No, you need to rest," said Fluttershy sternly, trying to imagine that she was speaking to one of her animals. "Don't worry. I can take care of you both. Wait here while I go and get Twilight." Before Sora could ask who Twilight was, Fluttershy hurried away over the edge of the crater, moving as fast as she could to the library across town. It was only when she was halfway across the skies of Ponyville that she regretted not getting the two creatures to her home first. It was too late now, so she tried to increase her speed.


"Spike, can you reshelve 'Myths of Mystical Weapons'?" called Twilight from her room. She had just finished reading the massive volume and no longer needed it.

Spike poked his head through the door before replying. "Sure thing, Twilight." The lavender alicorn levitated the heavy book into Spike's clawed hands. He nearly dropped it and had to regain his balance before hobbling back down the stairs outside of Twilight's room.

Twilight heard a knock on the door down in the main room, followed by the sound of the giant book dropping onto a table. "I'll get it!" called Spike from downstairs.

Twilight heard the door open, followed by the sound of running hooves. When she looked to the top of the staircase, she saw Fluttershy standing in her doorway, heaving as she tried to catch her breath. "Twilight, you have to come to the field quick! TwoalienscrashedintoitandoneishurtreallybadlyandIdon'tknowwhattodobutIthinkyoushouldcomeandtakealook." Fluttershy spoke hurriedly using all one breath, and resumed her rasping afterword.

All Twilight really got out of that burst was aliens, field, hurt, and come. That was all she needed to hear. If somepony was in trouble, then she had to help them. "Spike! I'm going out for a while!" she called downstairs.

"OK! I'll watch the library while you're gone!"

"Great!" she yelled back. Twilight gathered a few things into her saddlebags, put them on, then had Fluttershy lead the way. As her and Fluttershy were leaving the library, Twilight turned back to Spike for a second. "Don't burn the place down," she said jokingly.


It took almost twenty minutes for Fluttershy and Twilight to arrive back in the field due to the distance, where Twilight immediately spotted the crater. The two ponies rushed over to it to find an odd sight. Riku was nowhere in sight, Sora was floating in mid air on his back with stars swirling around his head, and a figure in a black cloak stood by himself in the center of the crater, holding the Oathkeeper and Oblivion keyblades.

The third alien relaxed and the keyblades disappeared. It brought its hands up to its hood and pulled it off before shaking his head. The figure was a boy with blond, spiky hair and blue eyes. He nodded to the ponies, then summoned a new keyblade. This one looked like a cross between the Oblivion and Oathkeeper keyblades, sporting a silver blade and a key bit made of black and white spikes.

The boy crouched for a second before holding standing straight up again and jabbing his keyblade high as he said, "Curaga!" A green light surrounded Sora as the boy disappeared, lifting Sora into the air slightly before touching him down on the ground.

"Oh, you're back," he said to Fluttershy with a wave.

"Oh my gosh!" Twilight squealed in excitement. "What are you? Who was that other one? Fluttershy said you were hurt. Are you okay? Where are you from? What was sword? Oh my GOSH there are so many questions I have for you!"

Sora took a cautionary step back. Noticing this, Twilight reigned herself and calmed down. "I'm sorry," she said. "It's just that you're alien to us and I'm really curious as to who and what you are."

"That's fair," replied Sora. "So, I take it you're Twilight?"

"Yes, actually. How did you know?"

"Your friend there said she was going to find you and bring you to us," said Sora.

Twilight paused for a second. "Us? But, you're the only one here."

"Oh, right. I had to hide my friend so the heartless wouldn't get him."

"Heartless?" asked Twilight. "What's a heartless?"

"I'll tell you in a minute." Sora stepped away and reached into a thick bush, grabbing hold of Riku's hand and tugging him back out of his temporary cover.

"Who's that?" asked Twilight.

"This is my friend, Riku," said Sora as he propped him up and into a sitting position.

"Is he okay?" asked Twilight, taking a few steps toward them.

"Oh, he'll be fine," assured Sora. "We've been through worse."

"Here," said Twilight when she was close. "Let me take a look at him."

Sora backed up a little bit as Twilight lowered her horn to Riku's head, channeling her magic into him to scan for any injuries. That's strange, she thought to herself. It's weak, but I can sense some kind of magic. I wonder what happens if I... She continued to delve deeper until she felt a blinding light. It was so much so that she broke her focus and stumbled away from him, her magic fading away as she shook her head.

"What's wrong?" asked Sora worriedly.

"I don't know," she said, astounded. She turned to Sora as she said, "I was using my magic to check for any major injuries when I found this... light. I'm not sure how else to describe it, but it was strong."

"That would be his heart," said Sora proudly as he relaxed again.

"His heart?" asked Twilight.

"Yeah. His heart is really strong. It's so strong that he fought off the darkness that took him over. It took him a year, but he finally managed to fight it off. Heck, he even became a master before I did."

Twilight and Fluttershy deadpanned before Twilight said, "I have no idea what half of that means."

"Oh, right," said Sora. "That light that you felt was his heart. One time, he gave in to the darkness and nearly lost it. He helped me and a couple of my other friends, but he nearly gave in completely. He worked really hard to get rid of the darkness, and he finally did. When we took a test to see if we could become keyblade masters, he passed and I didn't."

"I still don't understand very well," said Twilight. "Come on. Let's get you both back to Fluttershy's house. You can explain there."

"Okay," said Sora as he picked up Riku and hung him over his back. "How far away is it?"

"It's just over that hill," said Fluttershy as she motioned behind her.

"Great," said Sora. As they started walking, Sora asked, "Is it okay if we stay there for a little while? I'm worried about what happened."

"What do you mean?" asked Fluttershy.

"I'll tell you when we get there," said Sora as they continued off towards the cottage.

Friendship is Magic. LITERALLY

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"So a heartless is a creature made of pure darkness?" asked Twilight as they entered Fluttershy's cottage.

"Basically," said Sora. Noticing Fluttershy's couch, he pointed to it as he asked, "Hey, Fluttershy? Can I set Riku down there?"

"I guess," said Fluttershy. Sora walked over and set Riku down before turning back to the two mares.

"Is there a good place for us to talk?" he asked.

"We could use my room," offered Fluttershy. "I'm sure Riku would like to sleep for a while longer."

"Okay," said Sora as Fluttershy and Twilight led the way up the stairs. When they reached the top, they were immediately in Fluttershy's room due to the door being directly at the top of the stairs. Both Fluttershy and Twilight hopped onto Fluttershy's bed and stared at Sora as he stood at the foot.

A few moments passed before Twilight said, "Well? Aren't you going to explain all of this?"

"Oh! Yeah. Sorry," he said. "I thought you might have a question or two before hand."

"I'd like to hear as much as I can," said Twilight. "On the way over, you told us that the heartless come from the darkness in peoples hearts. What does that mean, exactly?"

"I guess I don't understand that very well either," said Sora. "As near as I can tell, they can come from people who are, by nature, bad. Those people seek out or have strong desires to harm others, so maybe those feelings are strong enough to become living creatures; the heartless."

"So the heartless are really evil?" asked Fluttershy nervously.

"Pretty much," responded Sora. "As far as anyone knows, the only goal of the heartless is to travel between worlds and consume more hearts, turning others into heartless and growing their numbers."

"So they're almost like a parasite..." said Twilight to herself.

"Yeah," said Sora. "When heartless find a world, they start looking for the gateway to the heart of that world. It's called the keyhole, and if the heartless get into it, then they'll devour the world from the inside out."

"So what do the heartless have to do with you and Riku? Why did you both crash in our world?" asked Twilight.

"Well, you see..." Sora proceeded to tell both Twilight and Fluttershy what had happened, giving them a quick background on who they were before telling them of their failed battle against Xehanort.

"I'm so sorry," said Twilight after he was finished. "I know if my friends were in danger, I'd be crushed."

"That's the problem," said Sora. "My friends are in danger, but there's nothing Xehanort can do about it. He can't move on with his plans until he gets Riku or I back. We're both warriors of light, so he'll need us to finish the X-Blade." Sora saw Twilight raise a hoof to question him, so he cut her off. "Before you ask, it's a really powerful weapon. With it, Xehanort could have complete control of everything."

"I wish there was something we could do to help you, but we can't just leave Equestria," said Twilight. "My friends and I all have jobs and families. Not to mention the fact that we don't know how to fight the heartless or even how to recognize one. I guess all we can do now is give you and Riku a place to stay while you're here. Maybe you can even find a way to save your friends."

"I'd like that," said Sora with a smile. "But would you really be willing to do that for us?"

"Of course," said Twilight seriously. "You said that the heartless might come to Equestria to find you and Riku. If that's the case, then we'll need you both to protect us."

"Oh," said Sora, crestfallen. "I'm sorry, Twilight, but we can't stay here. As soon as we find a means of transport, we'll have to leave and find a way to reach our friends."

"But you can't just leave Equestria unprotected!" protested Twilight. "What if the heartless come with an army? Our armies won't be able to stop them!"

"I have a solution," he said. "I'll bet if we find the keyhole to this world, then we can stop Equestria from being taken."

"How?" she asked. "You mentioned before that, while you were traveling to find your friends the first time, you sealed keyholes along the way. But how did you do that?"

"With this," said Sora as he summoned his keyblade.

"With a giant key?" asked Fluttershy.

"Yep," he responded. "With the keyblade, I can use light to lock the keyhole. That stops the heartless from getting to the heart of the world and destroying it."

"Then we need to find it right away," said Twilight. "We have to protect Equestria."

"Yeah," agreed Sora. "Why don't we go and wake up Riku? He needs to know what's going on and what our plans are." After a moment, the ponies hopped off the bed and followed Sora as he descended the stairs the main room.


Riku slowly opened his eyes and tried to look around, working through his grogginess. It took him about a second to check his surroundings and register where he was.

He was in someone's house on a couch. He sat up and started thinking about what happened, despite a pain in the back of his head that he couldn't explain. He was captured by Xehanort, saved by Sora, and then...what? His memory was blank.

He stood up and looked around the room some more. He took in the location of the stairs and door along with what looked like a collection of birdhouses. He also picked up the distinct smell of many wild animals.

Riku turned toward the door and prepared to leave when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. When he turned around, he saw Sora standing at the foot of the stairs next to what looked like a yellow pony with wings. If he didn't know any better, he'd say she had come straight out of a cartoon.

"Riku. You're awake," said Sora gladly.

"Hey, Sora. Who's your friend?" asked Riku. "And where are we?"

"This is Fluttershy. It turns out that this whole world is inhabited by ponies." Riku mentally face palmed. Of course. Ponies. "So where were you going?" asked Sora.

"Actually, I was going to start looking for you," said Riku. "I didn't see you or anything else familiar when I woke up, so I just assumed we got separated."

Sora chuckled to himself. "Well, here I am." Before the friends could continue their conversation, a female voice from upstairs called out. It sounded like it was coming downstairs.

Riku saw a purple pony stop next to Sora and Fluttershy. It took him a second to notice her horn. Really? A Unicorn with wings? Okay, now I've seen everything. "Oh, you're awake," she said. "Good. Now we can get down to business..." That last word was slower than the rest. "Lookout!" yelled the alicorn.

Riku followed Twilight's gaze which seemed to be aimed behind him. He also saw Sora with an expression of surprise. He spun around and summoned his keyblade just in time to guard an attack from a Soldier heartless. The monster pushed off of his keyblade and launched itself through the window, effectively shattering it.

Riku turned back around and said, "Sora?"

"Right." he responded. They both went for the door as Sora summoned his keyblade. Riku left and Sora stopped before adding to the ponies, "Stay inside." The two frightened mares nodded their heads and Sora bolted through the door.

Sora rushed outside, keyblade in hand. He saw the soldier heartless that had attacked Riku, but it was by itself. Riku stood nearby, his keyblade held at the ready.

Both keyblade wielders looked at it with puzzled expressions. Heartless almost never attack alone unless they're one of the more powerful breeds, and even those usually summon allies. So what was going on?

Dismissing the thought, Sora held up his keyblade and shouted, "Thundaga!" Instead of the massive strike that Sora was used to, a much smaller, weaker bolt of lightning struck the soldier. It fell anyway, but the outcome still confused Sora.

Just then, his instincts kicked in and he dodge-rolled to the side, just in time to see and hear the crash of a guard armor heartless land where he stood only moments before. Sora righted himself and went into his combat stance. He was soon joined by Riku who handed him three potions and two ethers. Sora nodded to him and together, they rushed towards the huge metal heartless.

Riku sprinted forward ahead of Sora and slid under the heartless. He then leapt into the air and delivered a powerful blow to the creature's disembodied metal head. The heartless stumbled forward and was met with a barrage of hits from Sora, who dodge-rolled backwards to avoid a swipe from one of the heartless' hands.

Riku noticed the swing and cast Thunder on the offending hand, shocking it out of existence. The remaining hand swept behind the Guard Armor and clawed Riku, knocking him back and dealing considerable damage. The creature turned around and focused its attention on the now injured Riku. It pulled one massive, armored boot back and kicked Riku up into the air. Its remaining hand left its body and followed Riku, striking him over and over again before slamming him back into the ground.

When Riku struck the ground, his eyes snapped open before slowly shutting again. His body went limp as smoke and stars began swirling around his head. "Riku!" yelled Sora. That caught the attention of the guard armor.

The heartless turned back around to Sora and began flailing all of its limbs at him. It was all he could do to block the Guard Armor's attacks. Finally, Sora found an opening. The heartless launched its hand at him which Sora knocked aside, destroying it. With its upper body now exposed, Sora jumped at the Guard Armor and stuck his keyblade into its heartless emblem. He turned his keyblade and in a flash of light, the heartless exploded, releasing a heart into the sky.

Sora rushed to Riku's side, opened up a potion, and threw it on him. The green liquid soaked into Riku's body and he awoke with a start. "Did we beat it?" he asked as he sat up. Sora nodded his head, helped Riku up, and the two went back into Fluttershy's house.


Riku stepped through Fluttershy's door and into the main room. To his surprise, there was no sign of Twilight or Fluttershy. "Where are they?" asked Sora who was now right next to him.

A high pitched scream came from up the stairs, and Sora wasted no time in running up to the top floor, Riku close behind.

When they arrived in Fluttershy's room, they knew why and where the scream had come from. In the center of the room were Fluttershy and Twilight, surrounded by Neoshadows. They were holding each other out of fear as the heartless inched closer and closer.

Normally, Riku and Sora would have dived in to help and could have easily killed the heartless. However, due to the enclosed space, they didn't have enough room to fight without damaging their surroundings or injuring their new friends.

Sora started thinking for a few seconds before coming up with a plan. "I got it!" he exclaimed. He pulled back his arm and threw his keyblade yelling, "Take that!" The heartless that would've been hit sidestepped, leaving Twilight in the keyblade's arcing path. Twilight turned her head toward the sound and was met with the handle of Sora's keyblade striking her face and bouncing off, knocking her out cold. Riku shot a small glare at Sora who shrugged his shoulders saying, "Oops."

Riku shook his head and summoned his own keyblade. He began to concentrate, building spatial energy around his keyblade. He then pointed it at the heartless and fired a teleport spell. Before the ball of spatial magic could make contact, a large body appeared and guarded it with its armored front.

Riku kept thinking of other solutions. As he discarded the different thoughts, a single one hit him. Why not teleport the keyblade instead? Harnessing the remaining spatial energy around his keyblade, he teleported it past the heartless and into Fluttershy's outstretched hoof. It was as if her hoof moved on its own, ready to receive Riku's keyblade.

Fluttershy released an, "Eep!" when the keyblade materialized in her hoof.

"Use the keyblade!" yelled Sora. A neoshadow jumped at Fluttershy and she instinctively held up Riku's keyblade in defence as she cowered. When she opened her eyes, the heartless was gone, replaced by disappearing fragments of darkness.

Sora heard a heartless fall apart and summoned his own keyblade back in response. He reached out his hand to Riku, who took hold of it. In a flash of light, Riku disappeared. Sora was then lifted slightly into the air as a hexagonal barrier formed around him. It exploded away in a flash, destroying the first line of heartless. When Fluttershy looked through the gap, she saw Sora's clothes had changed from black to red and he was holding an extra keyblade. This one had a blue blade with a yellow star in the end.

Now dual-wielding his Kingdom Key and Starseeker keyblades, Sora charged through the gap before another heartless appeared to block his and Fluttershy's exit. As soon as the ring of heartless had reformed, they began splitting apart, shrouding the entire area in a haze of darkness. More heartless began to appear out of the newly formed walls of darkness, slowly snaking their way towards Sora and Fluttershy.

"Fluttershy," began Sora, "as long as Riku and I are linked, you're the only backup I have. I'm asking you to fight by me. I didn't think we'd be trapped like this, but now I'm left with no choice. Can you gather your courage to help me?"

Fluttershy looked like she was on the verge of tears. "I don't know, Sora," she whimpered. "They're so scary..."

"I know," said Sora. "They were terrifying when I first fought them. But right now, Twilight needs our help." Sora glanced back to the unconscious alicorn. "We have to fight to protect her. Can you do that?"

After a moment, her expression hardened. She lifted the keyblade, set it on her shoulders, then crouched. "If I have to." The aforementioned alicorn lay unconscious behind Fluttershy, a large red bump forming on her forehead. Sora could see Fluttershy shaking, but she seemed stable for the moment.

"Okay," responded Sora. "Let's go!"

Dream, Drop

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Sora wasted no time in striking first. He lept at the wall of darkness and cut through a Soldier heartless that was just beginning to stick its head out. He then spun and brought down both his keyblades on top of a Shadow that was sneaking up on him. He heard the sound of armor clanking and spun around to guard an Armored Knight's sword. Sora continued this attack/defend strategy as long as he could, trying to balance the two.

Meanwhile, Fluttershy held her ground as Shadows continuously jumped at her from all sides. She'd never used a weapon before and as such, was slightly awkward with Riku's keyblade. She managed to guard most of the attacks that were directed toward her and of those that landed, they barely hurt her. While she was preparing to guard a claw swipe from a Neoshadow, she slipped and the heartless piled on top of her. "Help!" she screamed.

Sora had just sliced through a Neoshadow himself when he heard the pony scream behind him. He charged toward Fluttershy, cutting down the heartless that dared to get in his way. He stopped, pulled back both his arms, then threw his keyblades yelling, "Take that!"

The heartless that were holding down Fluttershy were sliced clean in half, disappearing and allowing Fluttershy to stand up. She shouldered Riku's keyblade and continued to fight even though her mind was telling her to hide.

Satisfied, Sora summoned his keyblades again and was just about to charge back into battle when he was struck hard from behind by a fireball, courtesy of a newly-spawned Red Nocturne. Sora was sent spiralling across the dark room, straight past Fluttershy. As she watched Sora fly by her, an image entered her head of Riku holding up his keyblade and casting a spell with a green light. Fluttershy imitated what Riku did and said, "Cure," the word seeming to come from her mouth without her approval. She watched as Sora was covered in a green light and a giant flower appeared over him, blooming. The flower and light disappeared almost as soon as they had come as Sora righted himself, landed against the wall of darkness, and pushed off, rocketing past Fluttershy and through another group of heartless.

The battle continued on and on, seemingly without end. Sora and Fluttershy were now back to back, surrounded by a never ending stream of Neoshadows. Fluttershy collapsed, unable to keep standing followed seconds later by Sora. "Get up!" Sora heard Riku yell from inside his head. But he couldn't move. He was worn out.

A Neoshadow noticed this and charged at Sora, its clawed hand glowing purple. Just as it was about to make contact, the neoshadow exploded in a burst of light. Sora managed to lift his head up and noticed a strange sight.

One by one, all of the heartless exploded. The light was so intense that Sora had to close his eyes so that he wouldn't be blinded. When he dared to open them, his jaw dropped at what he saw. As he looked around, he saw that all of the heartless and the barrier of darkness were gone. "Whoa," he said in awe.

"What's going on here?!" thundered a voice at the top of the stairs. Sora suddenly felt rejuvenated as a spell lifted him off of the ground. After a moment, he deactivated valor form, causing Riku to appear next to him. He didn't hear anything from Fluttershy though, so he assumed she had passed out. When he looked toward the stairs, he saw a full-sized white alicorn and two of what looked like guards standing next to her. The alicorn's horn was slowly losing its yellow glow, telling Sora that it had just cast a spell.

"I said, what's going on?!" yelled the alicorn. Sora took an involuntary step back while Riku bowed. Riku motioned to Sora with his hand to get down and he obeyed.

Riku spoke up. "Well, you see, Ma'am-"

"Forget it. Where is Twilight Sparkle?" asked the alicorn. Sora lifted his head and scanned the room. He eventually found Twilight's still form propped up in a corner.

The alicorn charged forward and rushed to Twilight's side. Her horn started glowing a soft yellow and she levitated Fluttershy and Twilight onto Fluttershy's bed. "You two, downstairs, now," she commanded Sora and Riku.

The two followed the white alicorn downstairs and they all gathered around Fluttershy's table. A tiny light bulb suddenly dinged on in Sora's head. "Oh! You're Princess Celestia, right?"

"Yes," responded the princess. "Which leads me to my first question. Who are you and what are you doing here?"

"I'm Sora, and this is Riku."

"Your majesty," added Riku.

"Formalities are hardly necessary in this situation, Riku. Though I appreciate it," responded the princess.

Sora spoke up again. "We were fighting a man named Xehanort when he-"

"Xehanort? Then you two must be warriors of light, am I correct?" Sora and Riku simultaneously nodded. "Then I'm familiar with your goals," she said. "That still doesn't answer why or how you got here."

"That's simple," said Riku. "Xehanort didn't need Sora anymore, so he used spatial magic to teleport him to a random spot. Sora managed to save me and I fell into the mix along with him. Xehanort is short one warrior of light now, which is why he sent the heartless after us."

"I see," said the princess slowly. She was deep in thought. "What about the other warriors of light? Surely he needed the 7 to create the X-blade."

Sora then explained his adventures across the worlds to Celestia who listened intently, taking in every detail. "So how did you come across Eraquis' students?" asked Celestia.

"It took a lot of guessing actually," said Sora. "We managed to get Aqua out of the dark realm first, and then she showed us where Terra and Ventus were. Ventus was sleeping in Castle Oblivion, and Terra was lost in Radiant Garden. He had some amnesia, but we managed to snap him out of it."

"And why are Twilight and Fluttershy incapacitated?"

Sora blushed a little before saying, "Well, you see... I threw my keyblade at a heartless that was in front of her. When it dodged, my keyblade kept going and the handle struck Twilight." Celestia released a small chuckle despite her initial seriousness, but quickly silenced it. A look of scared realization crossed Celestia's face. She charged back upstairs followed by her guards. Sora and Riku gave each other a questioning look before rushing upstairs themselves.


When Sora reached the top of the stairs, he found an odd sight. The two guards were sitting down next to a sobbing Celestia. Twilight and Fluttershy were both floating above a swirling hole of darkness above Fluttershy's bed. "No!" screamed Celestia through her sobs. "They're not ready yet!" Suddenly, Twilight and Fluttershy stopped floating and fell straight into the darkness, disappearing completely.

Sora didn't give a second thought. His new friends could be in danger, so he rushed forward and dove toward the darkness. It swallowed him as he pursued Twilight and Fluttershy into another dark void. Before long, he soon found himself falling after them.

Down and down they went, deeper and deeper into darkness. After falling for a while, everyone went from a head first fall to an almost standing up position. Twilight and Fluttershy slowly woke up, their eyelids barely opening as they touched down.

Sora immediately recognized the scenario.

Twilight, Sora and Fluttershy all touched down on some sort of solid surface simultaneously. They all took a second to look around, though all they could see was a never ending expanse of black. Everyone slowly took a cautious step forward. Before their eyes, the black surface they were standing on lit up as hundreds of white doves took off from the floor of what looked like a giant, circular stained-glass window depicting the elements of harmony. They all seemed to have their eyes closed and were following each other in a circular loop. In the middle of the pony-made circle were the faces of Celestia, Luna, Spike, Cadence and Shining Armor.

Sora felt a small movement under his shoe and looked down to see a dove trapped under it. He lifted his foot so the dove could escape. It flitted up in front of his face and gave him a glare that would put Fluttershy's stare to shame before it flew off with the rest of the birds.

The slight chuckles from Twilight and Fluttershy were abruptly stopped as three small pillars of stone pushed their way through the surface of the platform without leaving a scratch on the beautiful stained glass. Sora and the ponies watched as three weapons appeared, one on each pillar; a sword, a shield, and a staff.

"So, um, what do we do?" asked Fluttershy.

"Well," began Sora, "each of these weapons represents the power of a certain skill; attacking, defending, and magic. You can pick any one you want, but you'll have to give one up in return. Don't worry. Giving up one skill doesn't mean you won't be able to use it. It just means that you won't get better at it at the same rate as your other skills. It's really no big deal."

"How do you know that?" asked Twilight.

"I don't know," lied Sora. "It's just a feeling I get." He remembered his choices and how they helped him on his first journey. When Roxas merged with him, he got the knowledge of his choices as well which were different. At the time, he wasn't aware they were of his Nobody, but he hadn't thought much on it.

"Okay, Sora. If you say so," said Fluttershy nervously.

Twilight took a deep breath before stepping forward. She approached the pillar with the staff, already sure of her decision. Slowly, she reached her hoof out to the weapon. As soon as she made contact, the weapon began glowing in a strange light. It disappeared off of the pillar, leaving behind a glowing hologram of Twilight's cutie mark. "That's new," said Sora as he studied it from afar.

Twilight then made her way to the shield. She reached her hoof out and poked it, causing another light to bathe the area before winking out, leaving behind a grayscale version of Twilight's cutie mark. Twilight then walked back to Sora. "Your turn, Fluttershy," she said.

Sora thought about what Twilight had chose and how the weapons had disappeared, leaving behind Twilight's cutie mark. Did the same thing happen when I chose?

"Um. okay," said Fluttershy nervously. She had decided while Twilight was choosing hers. Fluttershy approached the newly regenerated shield and tapped it. It disappeared and next to Twilight's grayscale cutie mark appeared Fluttershy's cutie mark in full color.

Fluttershy then moved to the pillar with the sword. She tapped it, it disappeared, and left behind Fluttershy's grayscale cutie mark. She rejoined the group and then asked, "So what now?"

"I'm not sure," admitted Sora. As he finished speaking, the platform began to rumble. A giant, black portal opened up, engulfing the other half of the platform in darkness. Sora summoned his keyblade while a staff appeared to Twilight and a shield appeared to Fluttershy. As the rumbling intensified, the black and tangled 'hair' of a Darkside rose up and out of the dark portal, shutting it as it came through.

"What in the name of Celestia is that?" exclaimed Twilight as she and Fluttershy began backing up.

"That's another heartless," said Sora as readied himself. Instinctively, Twilight and Fluttershy turned and ran for the edge of the platform, desperate to escape. When they reached the edge, their inertia kept them moving and they went over the edge. If it hadn't have been for their wings, they would've fallen further down.

After a moment, they flew back and touched down next to Sora. "So we have to fight that thing?" asked Twilight.

"I don't think we have a choice," said Sora. Fluttershy stayed silent, though Sora swore he could've heard a slight whining coming from her. "Here it comes!" shouted Sora.

Twilight and Sora rushed forward and started attacking the darkside's legs, landing blow after blow. The monster brought its fist down next to Sora and Twilight, the shockwave striking them both. Twilight received a lot of damage while Sora, despite being knocked into the air, seemed unphased and charged straight towards the massive black hand of the darkside.

Pushing off of the platform, Sora jumped onto the darkside's hand and started running up its arm toward the creature's head. The darkside stood back up which also caused its hands to rise up with it. Caught off guard by the sudden motion, Sora began to slip. As he started slipping, he shoved his keyblade into the darkside's arm and held on for dear life as the heartless shook its arm in pain, attempting to throw him off. As soon as the shaking stopped, Sora pulled himself up, ripped out his keyblade and resumed his charge up the head.

Meanwhile, Twilight had been shooting fireballs at the creature's head and neck by harnessing the power of the staff and her inherent magic. As Shadows began rising from the floor, Fluttershy fought them off while using her shield to protect Twilight as she continued her fiery assault. Twilight noticed Sora charging up the heartless's arm and immediately attempted to aid him with various spells. No matter what she tried, the Darkside's radiating darkness stopped her support spells. Twilight thought hard until she got another idea.

As Sora reached the darkside's shoulder, time slowed as he felt another heart connect with his. It was the most wonderful sensation in the world. It was warm and caring, full of love and compassion. Sora felt a surge of energy fill him as he continued on. He even started visibly glowing as he jumped from the Darkside's shoulder and onto its curling mass of 'hair', backflipping off of the head as he spun several times. He uncurled when he was at eye level with the heartless and stopped in mid air, held up by what appeared to be light. Sora pointed his keyblade at the darkside and prepared to fire a single beam of pure light. The end of his keyblade exploded, revealing a glowing white orb while the shards of the keyblade's end rotated around it. All of the light surrounding Sora left him and gathered around the ball of light to form a beautiful twisting and weaving ball of light. With a final burst of energy, Sora fired a massive beam that disintegrated the Darkside's head, leaving behind a giant black humanoid body.

Sora lightly touched down on the platform and was quickly joined by Twilight and Fluttershy as his keyblade rebuilt itself. "We did it!" cheered Twilight.

"Yay!" cheered Fluttershy softly. "But now what do we do?"

"Well," said Sora, "if it's anything like last time, then..." Sora trailed off at the end.

Last time? thought Twilight. Before she could ask Sora, the platform began to shake. Everyone looked to the still-standing, decapitated Darkside to see its body swaying as it began to fall.

"I've got it!" yelled Sora. He jumped towards the Darkside's falling body and sliced straight through it with his keyblade. He expected it to dissolve into darkness, but the two halves fell and crashed into the platform, washing everything is darkness.

Sora fell back down into the darkness which quickly tackled him. He fell to the ground and watched as the darkness crept over his arms and legs and steadily worked its way to his head. As his vision went dark, he heard a muffled scream from Twilight before his eyes shut.


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Author's note: Hey guys! Mudkipman98 here! I wanted to give you fair warning before reading that there are large pictures in this chapter, again because I don't trust myself with accurate descriptions of what is in the pictures. I would recommend using your browser to zoom out a little so that you can see the whole picture at once. All credit goes to Xelim on deviantart for the pics. Thanks man. You're the best! With that, enjoy the chapter. :)

Riku watched as Sora dove into the dark portal after the ponies. No matter what happened, he trusted Sora to make it out alive. He wasn't so sure about the ponies, though. The portal suddenly shut, separating Sora and Riku again. Briefly, Riku doubted that Sora would be okay. He didn't understand what had just happened, but he chose to have faith in Sora rather than worry about it.

Riku turned to the still sobbing Celestia. "Your majesty, please calm down and tell me what's wrong."

Celestia controlled her sobbing and composed herself. "Twilight and her five friends represent the Elements of Harmony, great powers that have protected the land for thousands of years. I knew about the heartless and that they would eventually find this world. So, in three years, I planned to train her and her friends how to use the keyblade in the hopes that they could protect Equestria once again. But it seems that events have accelerated. Do you know what a 'dive to the heart' is?"

"Of course. It's a special dream where keyblade wielders uncover their inner power," said Riku.

"Correct," continued Celestia, "and also incorrect. It feels like a dream, but the outcome is all too real."

"So you're saying that Twilight and Fluttershy have just entered their 'dive to the heart'?" Celestia nodded. "But what does that mean?"

"It means that they've temporarily entered the dark realm. It's a safe zone because their hearts act as worlds. Have you delved into your own heart, Riku?" asked the Princess.

"Yeah," he answered, temporarily avoiding her gaze. "I remember falling asleep and then slipping into the darkness. I don't know how long I fell. But when I was done, I found myself in this strange place. I was standing on some sort of stain glass mural. After some fighting against the heartless, I woke up." What Riku kept from the Princess was that he had experienced it as a child, shortly after meeting Terra on the Destiny Islands.

"That was a rite of passage, Riku," said the Princess. "It was proof that your heart was strong enough for the keyblade."

But that doesn't make any sense, thought Riku. Sora's heart was weaker when we started our journey, yet he still had the same dream and received the keyblade. So what am I missing?

"And now," continued the Princess, "They've each embarked on their own journeys."

"But you seem so distressed about it. What's wrong with them starting this early?" asked Riku.

"It's wrong because they're not ready yet!" snapped Celestia.

She hung her head, sorry for shouting at Riku. Celestia, her guards, and Riku all sat silent for a minute. The door being kicked in downstairs caused everyone to jump. "Wait here," said Riku as he ran down the stairs.

When he arrived at the bottom of the staircase, he was met with a cyan hoof connecting with his face, knocking him to the ground. Dazed, he heard a voice yelling at him. "What?" he managed groggily.

"I said, where are Twilight and Fluttershy?!" yelled a tomboyish voice. As Riku's vision returned, he found he was staring into the face of a cyan pegasus with a rainbow mane. He tried to get up but was pinned down.

"They aren't here now. They should be back soon though. Now get off me!" The cyan pegasus let Riku up and flew up the stairs, quickly followed by three other mares, one of which was a unicorn.

He heard the pegasus call up from the top of the stairs saying, "Princess?". He was immediately met with another hoof to the face, launching him out of the already broken window and onto the field outside. He sat up, pulled a rather large chunk of glass out of his left arm and tossed it onto the grass, losing a small amount of blood with it. He stood up and found the cyan pegasus crouched low like it was about to charge, staring at him from across Fluttershy's yard. Realizing that anything other than a full on fight was impossible, he summoned his keyblade and readied himself for the mare's charge.

"Rainbow Dash, stop it this instant!" said an orange earth pony who had just exited the house. She spoke with a strong southern accent.

"No!" shouted Rainbow Dash back at her friend. "This guy knows something about Twilight and Fluttershy, and for all we know, he could have attacked the Princess!"

The orange pony shook her head and ran to join Riku who eyed her suspiciously for a second. "Don't worry," said the pony. "Sometimes, she gets like this and there ain't no way to calm her down. She jus' won't listen to reason."

"What, now you're siding with him?" asked Rainbow.

"We don't know what he's like yet. Ya can't jus' attack him, and Ah won't let ya."

"Fine. Have it your way then!" yelled Rainbow.

"Here she comes. Ah'm Applejack by the way," said the pony with a tip of her hat.

"I'm Riku."

"Okay, Riku. Get ready!" she said as she too tensed.

Rainbow immediately charged forward, already preparing to ram into Riku. He sidestepped, causing her to barrel into a tree. She pulled her head out of the splintered wood and prepared to charge again.

"We have ta stop her from movin'," said Applejack. "Any bright ideas?"

"Yeah," said Riku. He pointed his keyblade at Rainbow Dash and waited for her to charge again. Rainbow took the invitation and ran again. When she was about 10 yards away, Riku yelled, "Blizzard!" A chunk of solid ice launched from Riku's keyblade, directly impacting Rainbow. On impact, it froze her solid. Her inertia kept the chunk of ice she was now frozen in gliding across the grass which still impacted Riku. It knocked him to the side and he regained his balance in mid-air with Aerial Recovery.

He touched back down and looked on at the frozen Rainbow Dash. He and Applejack approached her together and looked over the massive chunk of ice. Riku swore he heard a sizzling sound coming from the icecube right before it exploded in his face, the chunks sending him and Applejack flying back through the air. Applejack landed alright, but Riku crashed through one of Fluttershy's fences.

Slowly, he got up and muttered "Cure," causing a giant flower to appear over his head which bloomed, releasing its healing energy before disappearing. He saw Applejack picking herself up too and turned his head towards Rainbow Dash, who was now free from the ice. However, she now had five chunks of ice slowly rotating around her. She flew high into the sky up above the cloud layers and hovered there before going into a headfirst dive.

"Riku, look out!" yelled Applejack. "I think she's gonna do a sonic rainboom!"

Riku barely had time to say, "A sonic what-now?" before being met with a massive rainbow explosion coupled with multiple frozen chunks of ice that launched him even farther back, this time sending him into the nearby forest of trees. He crashed through several large trees before coming to a complete stop and falling still.

"Ha! That'll show ya!" said Rainbow Dash, confident she had finished him this time.

"What the hay, Rainbow?!" shouted Applejack. "Ya didn't even try ta talk to him!"

"How was I supposed to know if he was a threat? And who said he didn't really attack the princess?"

"I do!" shouted Pinkie Pie in her constantly cheary tone. She materialized from behind a tree near Rainbow Dash before saying, "I just talked to her while you silly fillies were fighting."

"Did she tell you where Twilight and Fluttershy are?" said Rainbow, her voice lined with concern.

"Nope! But I bet they're in trouble, so I'm gonna go and save 'em." With that, a portal of light opened behind Pinkie and she backed into it, disappearing without a trace.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash just sat there, jaws agape. Pinkie had always been a little bit strange, and she even managed to surprise the others by doing things physically impossible from time to time. But this? She had just stuck out a hoof, opened some kind of portal, and disappeared. As Rainbow continued to stare, Applejack said, "What just happened?"

"I have no idea," said Rainbow, feeling defeated. "First Twilight and Fluttershy disappear, and now Pinkie? What's going on?"

"Maybe the Princess will know," said Applejack. "You go and talk to her. I'm gonna go help out that Riku fella."

"Ugh, fine," grunted Rainbow as she headed for Fluttershy's house. She was annoyed that Applejack had been so willing to help out a potential criminal instead of her, but she pushed it to the back of her mind as she entered Fluttershy's house. Meanwhile, Applejack rushed through the trees to where Riku had crashed landed.

Within five minutes of searching, Applejack found Riku's still body embedded in a solid tree. She moved to the back of the tree before pulling back her legs and bucking it with so much force, it shook the trees around it. Riku was ejected from the twisted wood before landing on the soft forest floor where he began to stir. Applejack rushed to him and loaded him onto her back. "Don't worry," she said. "I'll get ya back to Fluttershy's to rest up." With that, she started making her way back through the destroyed trees to Fluttershy's house.


Sora kept falling deeper and deeper into darkness. He could barely make out the forms of Twilight and Fluttershy falling beside him. They had both fallen unconscious, no doubt passing out from the speed of the fall.

Sora suddenly noticed a small light in the distance. It rapidly grew bigger and bigger until Sora realized that he wasn't falling anymore. In fact, he was standing in what looked like Organization XIII's round room. In the center of the room, he saw a pink pony with its back turned to him. It turned around and immediately started talking in an overwhelmingly cheary voice.

"Oh! You must be Sora! Good to meet you. I'm Pinkie Pie!"

"Wait, what?" asked Sora in confusion. Before Sora could ask the pony anything else, a look of shock crossed her face.

"Wait. You're new to Ponyville. That means you've never been to one of my parties! We've gotta get you home, pronto!" With that, she dove at Sora and opened a portal of light beneath him and the other ponies. Everyone fell in and Sora was immediately blinded.

When Sora opened his eyes, he was lying in a meadow with various types of tall grasses and flowers dotting the landscape. Sora stood up slowly and located Twilight, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie, who was bouncing around. In the distance, Pinkie spotted Fluttershy's cottage and said, "Oops. I guess I missed. Well, let's go! I gotta get you that party!"

Before Sora could ask, he heard rustling behind him as Pinkie was bouncing away and turned to see Twilight picking herself up off of the ground. "It's Pinkie Pie. Don't question it," was all she said.

"Wait, I still don't get it," said Sora. "What just happened?"

"To be honest," said Twilight in a whisper as if she didn't want Pinkie to hear her, "she scares me sometimes. She's done some weird things in the past, but I don't know what that just was." Together, Sora and Twilight woke up Fluttershy and the three followed Pinkie bouncing away in the distance towards Fluttershy's cottage.

When the group arrived, Sora entered first and saw, in Fluttershy's main room, a white unicorn, an orange earth pony, and a cyan pegasus. Celestia sat nearby with her guards and Riku lay unconscious on Fluttershy's couch. "What happened?" asked Sora.

"Well, you see," began the cyan pegasus, "I kinda beat up Riku here."

"What?" said Sora in disbelief. There was no way this pegasus could've beaten Riku. Was there?

"Yeah. Sorry about that," said the pony. "I'm sure he'll be fine." Twilight began introducing the other ponies one by one and Celestia asked them to all meet upstairs.

After regrouping upstairs, Celestia conjured up a desk in Fluttershy's room and sat down at it with Sora and the now awake Riku standing on either side of her. The ponies stood on the other side of the desk. "So, yer highness," began Applejack, "what's goin' on?"

Celestia cleared her throat before speaking, telling everyone that this was going to be a long explanation. "It's convenient that you've all met here by chance to discuss a matter of extreme importance." Everypony was at full attention. "There is a new threat that bears down on Equestria and its neighboring worlds."

"Neighboring worlds?" asked Rarity.

"Yes, Rarity. Our world isn't the only one," replied the Princess. "Now, as you all know, not everypony has warmed up to the idea of friendship and harmony as you know from the Discord event. There is darkness in every heart. The new threat that faces Equestria is a form of living darkness called the Heartless. I've known about them for some time, though I decided not to mention them because there was never a reason to. However, that reason has arrisen."

"That's sounds really bad," said Pinkie, Sora noticing her frown for the first time since he had seen her.

"It is," said Celestia. "It's time I taught you all about the history of a powerful and magical weapon called the keyblade."

"In ancient times, light filled every heart and the people of the worlds loved the light. However, some became greedy and wanted to take the light for themselves. Thus, darkness was born in every heart. These ancient people began to fight over the light and over its source, Kingdom Hearts. The real Kingdom Hearts was lost to darkness, never to be seen again. Many lost their lives in what is now known as the keyblade war, a great clash between thousands of keyblade wielders. When all seemed lost, a new light was found. That light resided in the hearts of children, and thus, the worlds survived and our universe pressed on. Over time, there have been those who have tried to replicate Kingdom Hearts through various forms and have ultimately failed or have been stopped by keyblade warriors who have chosen to protect the light, known as Warriors of Light. Unfortunately, a new evil has risen over the past 15 years. A man by the name of Xehanort has aspired to forge an all powerful weapon known as the X-Blade. In fact, the people who created the keyblades created them in the image of the X-Blade to honor its powers. It was said that the X-Blade was a guardian of sorts for the real Kingdom Hearts and that with its power, Kingdom Hearts can be recovered. However, Kingdom Hearts holds immense power, and as with all power hungry people, its power will no doubt be abused. That's where all of you come in. As I said before, I've known about the heartless and the darkness of peoples' and ponys' hearts alike for a long time. I even planned to teach you all how to wield the keyblade in three years, when I was sure that the forces of darkness would find us. Unfortunately, I must begin your training now." Celestia's horn began to glow bright yellow, and before her appeared the 6 elements of harmony. She levitated them each to their respective owners. "Just a few years ago, you six demonstrated the power of friendship and unlocked the ability to wield the elements of harmony. With that same light, you will learn to wield the keyblade." Celestia's horn glowed once again, this time summoning up six pauldrons, pieces of shoulder armor that hold a massive button in the center to activate a much larger set of armor. Everypony received a pauldron which magically attached to their left foreleg shoulders. The armored shoulder piece covered everypony's forearm and shoulder blade with the button lying on the joint of the shoulder piece. "Now, press the buttons and watch what happens."

In a massive flash of light, everypony pushed the buttons at the same time. When the light cleared, six armored ponies stood in the room.

Twilight's armor had a silver midsection with silver leg plates and gold rimming. Her armor was highlighted with purple on most of its edges. Her helmet was similar to Aqua's, with two thin pieces of metal sticking back from the temples of the helmet. Even her horn was armored with thin pieces of plate armor.

Fluttershy's armor was fairly thin and really wasn't much armor at all. Most of her body was covered in a black material apart from her midsection, which consisted of a bright green chestplate. Her helmet hid her face with a dark green visor and her legs were covered in the black material which was surrounded by woven pieces of green metal to form a sort of chain armor. Her wings had armor along the top of them but her yellow feathers were still easily visible.

The same held true for Rainbow Dash's armored wings, in which the arms of her wings were covered in thin, sky blue plate metal while her wings were exposed. Her midsection was covered in dark blue plate armor while her legs were suited in sky blue armor with golden accents along the sides. Her helmet was similar to Ventus's with two horn-like pieces of metal extending upwards. Her visor was a deep, reflective blue.

Rarity's armor was pure white and it covered her entire body leaving nothing exposed. It also seemed to be bulkier with a bigger midsection, massive shoulder pads, and thicker leg plating. The armor was accented with gray marks along the body and legs while her helmet consisted of a single metal spike sticking out from the back of the helmet which bore a gray visor.

Pinkie Pie's armor was much the same, though it was mostly pink and accented with various yellows, blues, and greens which seemed to resemble confetti. Her helmet was similar to Master Eraqus' helmet(1) with three spikes, one up and one to either side of her face, and a bright blue visor.

Applejack's armor contained heavy leg armor that didn't seem to impair her movement and a bulkier midsection. Her armor was mainly orange, though it was lined with green and brown accents. Her helmet resembled Terra's, though without the spikes. Her visor was a bright green.

Everypony's armor had their element of harmony's crystal in the chestplate.

"Whoa," said Sora, stunned by the ponies appearance. Celestia couldn't help but show a look of pride as she looked down at the six armored ponies.

"Now comes the next step," she said. "Twilight, Fluttershy, when you completed your dive to the heart, you each were cemented as keyblade warriors. Please, summon your keyblades now." Acting on instinct, Twilight closed her eyes which were hidden by her visor and held out her hoof. In a small flash of light, a keyblade appeared. It seemed like a normal blade with a golden hand guard and a black handle. However, the blade itself was wrapped in a pink piece of metal that came together at a pinkish purple star.

Fluttershy, not sure what to do, imitated Twilight and managed to summon her own keyblade. Her keyblade bore a gold handguard and handle with what appeared to be large, interwoven vines forming the blade. Each vine bloomed with a pink flower on the end, forming the key bit.

Celestia stared in wonder at the two keyblades. They were definitely unique, and they seemed to be patterned for her students specifically.. "So you have learned to wield your own keyblades. Though I wish they were gained through other circumstances."

"What do you mean?" asked Twilight.

"You both received your keyblades through a sort of 'keyblade inheritance ceremony' in which a keyblade master or warrior who has attained the level of master can pass their keyblade ability to another person or in this case, pony, if their heart is full of light. Riku and Sora managed that one." Sora and Riku simultaneously blushed.

"So, does that mean that we can use keyblades too?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"As I've already said, you were able to wield the elements of harmony because of a strong light in all of your hearts that helped you come together as friends. Now, you must tap into that same light if you wish to wield a keyblade. But be warned. The destiny of a warrior of light is a harsh one filled with constant battles against the darkness. You must always be on your guard, and there's no guarantee that life will return to normal even if you succeed. The heartless have found this world, which means that they will stop at nothing to corrupt it through its keyhole."

"Whatever is a keyhole?" asked Rarity.

"A keyhole is a door of sorts to the heart of the world. If the heartless find the keyhole, then they will corrupt the world and darkness will destroy it." Everypony shifted uncomfortably at the idea of their beloved Equestria disappearing into darkness. "Which is where you six, Sora, and Riku come in. Sora, Riku, I know you have other tasks to attend to, but this is very important and I ask for your help. I need you eight to find this world's keyhole and lock it with your keyblades. Of course, first you'll have to wield your own," she said as she gazed at the other four ponies. "Deactivate your armor and join Sora, Riku and I outside to begin your training." With that, Celestia got up and walked downstairs, letting the desk she was sitting at disappear.

The ponies deactivated their armor, went downstairs and outside, followed by Sora and Riku.

Once outside, Celestia continued. "Twilight, Fluttershy, you may already be able to wield your keyblades, but that doesn't mean that you are already masters. In fact, just calling wielders 'masters' is a strange confusion. Sora, Riku, if you can help the others, I would appreciate it very much."

"You can count on us," said Sora enthusiastically.

"Right then," began the Princess. "Hold out your hooves and focus hard on your inner light. It may take some searching, but you'll find it." Sora watched as the ponies stuck out their hooves and shut their eyes, all deep in thought.

Minutes passed and nothing happened. Finally, Pinkie's hoof started glowing white and in a flash of light, a keyblade materialized in it. Her keyblade, just like Twilight and Fluttershy's, had a gold handguard, though hers had swirling markings on it. The blade itself was a giant pink lit candle with two pieces of lace, light blue on one side and yellow on the other, near the hilt which contained a bright blue crystal balloon. It had three balloons on the end which formed the key bit. "Ooooo. Pretty," said Pinkie, in awe.

"Excellent, Pinkie," said Celestia. "Now, let the rest of your friends concentrate."

An hour passed before the next keyblade appeared, this time belonging to Applejack. Her keyblade had a gold handguard with a black handle and an orange apple in the hilt. The blade itself seemed to be several cider barrels stacked on top of each other with leaves and apples at the end like an apple tree. The key bit was a simple white fence.

Applejack marveled at the keyblade in her hoof, admiring how much it complimented her love for the farm. She spun it a few times before shouldering it.

Only a minute separated the arrival of Rainbow Dash's keyblade. Hers had a golden handguard which, at the hilt, transformed into two cyan wings with her red cutie mark gem dead center. The handguard also sported rainbow spikes sticking from it near the handle and its blade resembled an ancient greek column. The blade was also wrapped in a trail of yellow, blue, and red metal and ended in a lighting bolt resembling her cutie mark to form the key bit. At the end of the blade was a clean, white cloud. "Awesome!" she yelled as she flew high into the sky, performing a loop in mid air and swinging her keyblade within the loop to display a spinning wheel of color. She then touched down and stuck it into the ground, leaning against it coolly.

Finally, Rarity's keyblade appeared in the next five minutes. She opened her eyes and looked at its glimmering white and purple blade which had been infused with four diamonds. The key bit was purple and shaped like a crown, also containing three huge diamonds. The handle was white and was shielded with a gold hand guard that contained even more bright diamonds in its metal. Her jaw dropped at the size and sheen of the diamonds that practically lined her blade. Her cutie mark crystal was also in the keyblade's hilt.

Celestia smiled at her new pupils, now beginning their journey to save their own piece of the realm of light. "Now, like I said before," she said while beginning to blush, "I planned to train you all in three years and as such, don't have a training plan worked out. Your best option at this point is to travel alongside Sora and Riku and help them seal this world's keyhole." They all nodded their heads. "Sora, Riku, unfortunately, I have no idea where the keyhole is, but I trust that the heartless are already searching for it."

"That is a problem," said Riku slowly as he raised a hand to his chin in thought. He then turned to Sora. "Remember when we took the mark of mastery exam? There was always a powerful heartless or other dark power protecting the keyhole."

Sora nodded. "They just wouldn't give us a break, would they?"

"Yeah. What if we try to find a giant heartless? Maybe that'll lead us to the keyhole," suggested Riku.

"Good idea," said Sora. He turned to Princess Celestia. "Have there been any reports regarding a giant creature in the past few days?"

"Yes, actually. There was a heartless that I witnessed first hand attacking Manehattan. That's why I came here. I wanted to collect Twilight and her friends to try the elements of harmony on it. Of course, its heart would have just found its way into another heartless, but it would have solved the problem. No doubt its picture will be in the newspapers today."

"Alright! Now we have a target!" said Rainbow. "So let's get to Manehattan and save 'em!"

"Right," said everyone else in unison. They all rushed towards Ponyville, eager to get to the train station and get underway.

"Sora, Riku, wait," said Celestia. Both humans stopped and turned around. Celestia walked over to them and gave each of them a pauldron. Sora's was gold and Riku's was silver. "Take these. They'll protect you as you travel through the lanes between."

"Thanks," they both said.

"And also," continued the princess, and she leaned in rather close to them, "if anything happens to my little ponies, I'll personally make sure you both pay a heavy price. You may be warriors of light, but they are my subjects and I will not see them harmed." Riku and Sora visibly stiffened and Celestia backed off. "Now, good luck you two."

"Thank you, ma'am," they said in unison. Together, they turned and bolted to catch up with the other ponies.

The Train Ride

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Sora hurried to Ponyville and with some help from ponies that weren't staring at him like he was from another planet, he arrived at the train station along with Riku just as the train was pulling away. The train was increasing its speed and Sora and Riku had to sprint alongside it and jump into an open window. Of course, they paid the train attendant not to expose them and even gave him extra to actually pay for the ride. Their money had no value, but they were able to borrow some money from Twilight.

"Whew. That was close," breathed Sora.

"Yeah. Thanks for opening the window guys," said Riku.

"No problem," said Rainbow. "So when we get to Manehattan, what should we do?"

"Actually," broke in Twilight, "all of the trains to Manehattan have been cancelled due to the attack, so I got us tickets to a nearby station. We'll have to walk there."

"Ok. I just hope we get there soon," said Sora. Just then, the entire train shook for a second as if something had just jumped onto one of the cars. "What was that?"

"I don't know," said Twilight. "Let's check it out. It felt like it landed on one of the back cars." Together, everyone began making their way from one car to the next until they came to the last one. "Let's check the roof. Sora, Riku, you go up first. We'll be right behind you." Sora and Riku nodded and made their way up to the top of the train. Their jaws dropped at what they saw.

Farther down the train, a giant heartless was pounding on the roof of the car that Sora, Riku, and the ponies were meeting in. It had glowing red eyes and chains around its ankles. It appeared to be four legged and it had blue lines running along the length of its body. Its mouth had black, jagged teeth and from its head protruded several red pieces of flesh. Those combined with massive purple claws sent a chill down Sora and Riku's spines. Twilight was the only one to make it up the ladder before a magical barrier blocked off the other ponies and surrounded the top of the train. Everyone summoned their keyblades and prepared for the massive creature to charge.

"What is that thing?" asked Twilight.

"I think it's a heartless," said Riku. "Whatever the case, we have to stop it."

"Do you think that's the thing that attacked Manehattan?" asked Sora.

"No time to talk now. We'll work it out later," said Riku. "Look out! Here it comes!" The massive heartless let out a deafening roar before leaping at the three heroes.

Riku and Twilight both teleported while Sora rolled under the massive creature as it landed where they were just standing. Twilight and Riku appeared next to Sora and together, they charged at the heartless while its back was turned. They jumped and prepared to bring their keyblades down on its back when it spun and clawed them all out of the sky. If it wouldn't have been for the heartless's barrier, Twilight would have been launched off the train. She slammed into the barrier and fell to the roof, motionless.

"Riku!" yelled Sora. Riku charged towards Sora and disappeared as light into him. Sora lifted into the air, a barrier formed around him, and he transformed into master form. Well at least, that was the plan. Instead, as Twilight was picking herself up, she saw some sort of heartless Sora. His clothes had turned a hazy black and he was covered in a dark aura. Even his skin was pitch black. The thing that scared her the most was his pair of glowing yellow eyes.

Sora turned to Twilight and though he couldn't speak, she could tell he was cursing as he shook his head in annoyance. He then turned and leapt straight at the heartless, clawing it over and over and even dealing considerable damage. Again and again, the dark Sora teleported around the heartless, unleashing massive flurries of attacks. While the heartless landed a couple of hits, most of them missed and Sora kept pounding at it, never letting up. However, he seemed to lack any control. He kept attacking and wouldn't let up.

That is, before the heartless clawed him again, this time finishing him.

Twilight watched in horror as Sora and Riku, now separated, went sailing over her head to land on the roof of another car. Both of them bounced several times before coming to a complete halt.

Suddenly, Sora began glowing in a strange light as a figure in a black cloak got up from what seemed like inside of him. The figure summoned the oathkeeper and oblivion keyblades and charged at the monster, cutting at it several times before casting a series of fireballs at it. The heartless roared in pain and disappeared, though the light where it stood kept distorting to give Twilight and the figure an idea of where it was.

It jumped at the figure and clawed him, pushing him back. His hood flew off to reveal the boy with the spiky blond hair. He charged again, this time swinging at what appeared to be thin air until Twilight heard the monster roar again in more pain. Twilight shook her head and rushed in to help, combining her keyblade strikes with the boy's. Together, they cut and slashed at the heartless until it roared one final time and dissolved into darkness.

The boy walked back over to Sora and Riku while the barrier fell and cast Cure on both of them. In a small flash of light, the boy disappeared and Sora and Riku stood up. "Did you two get him?" asked Sora.

"I think so," said Twilight. "But who was that boy?"

"That was Roxas," said Riku. "A while back, a friend of ours that's now stuck in the dark realm would follow Sora through the worlds, helping him whenever he fell in battle. But a while back, it stopped. While we were on our way to fight Xehanort, Sora was knocked out in one of the worlds. However, our friend didn't come to help. I called out for him a few times, but he never came. It was then that Roxas appeared. Before I knew what was happening, Roxas had jumped up from Sora like a ghost and had struck down our enemies. Ever since then, Roxas has been showing up to help Sora when he falls. Unfortunately, we've needed his help much more recently. He's been invaluable and I even fought him once. No heartless I know of can stop him."

"Wow," said Twilight as she tried to take in all of the information.

"Twilight!" shouted Rainbow Dash. She had landed on the roof of the same car wearing her keyblade armor and holding her keyblade. When she saw that all was clear, she deactivated her armor and dismissed her keyblade. "What happened to you guys?"

"There was a heartless," said Sora. "It was massive and unlike anything I've ever seen."

"Um, Sora? What about that thing that Aqua-"

"Sorry, Riku, I can't hear you that well. Musta been smacked hard by that heartless," said Sora nervously. Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow in suspicion.

"Well, let's head back in," she said. "The others are worried about you." Together, Rainbow Dash, Twilight, Sora and Riku climbed back down the still moving train and got back inside the cars.

"Twilight, I need to talk to you," said Sora. "Meet me back at the caboose when you're ready." Twilight nodded and decided to talk now rather than later. Together, Sora and Twilight stepped out into the sunlight of the back of the train and shut the door behind them.

Meanwhile, inside the ponys' car, Rainbow Dash was busy thinking about Sora, Riku, and Twilight while voicing her concerns to her friends. "And when Riku started to mention something about the heartless, Sora cut him off like he didn't want us to hear it. I'm telling you, something's going on," she said.

"Oh, Ah'm sure it was nothin' Rainbow," said Applejack. "Jus' leave it alone." Rainbow turned away and frowned.

Riku stood outside the doorway with the gust of the train's roaring speed pounding him even in the sheltered area between cars. He overheard the conversation and started having doubts of his own. Why would Sora try to keep Aqua's time in the dark realm a secret?


Twilight shut the caboose door with her magic and met Sora at the rail guard. She leaned over it with him and watched as the ground whipped away from them. "Twilight?"

"Yes?" asked Twilight.

"We need to talk about a couple of things," said Sora. He seemed unsure where to begin. "I guess I'll start with events in order." He sounded much more serious and not in his normal positive tone. "When we were fighting that Darkside heartless, the one in our dream, I felt another heart connect with mine. It gave me strength and helped me destroy it. Now don't try to deny it. That heart I felt was yours."

Realization crossed Twilight's face and her fear had become a reality. She had no idea how Sora could've guessed it though. "I recognized it by its light. When I first arrived here and you and Fluttershy found Riku and I in that field, I could feel the light coming from your heart. It was so strong and I recognized it immediately when you connected with me."

"Are you mad?" asked Twilight, worried that she had somehow hurt her new friend.

"Not at all. Because of you, I was able to defeat the heartless. However, that doesn't change the fact that you could have been impossibly hurt and could've lost your heart in mine. Only the most experienced keyblade wielders have ever attempted that and it's almost never turned out well. Promise me you won't do it again."

"I promise," replied Twilight, scared and sorry because she knew she had made a mistake.

"Now, about that heartless. I didn't want to mention it with Rainbow Dash standing right there, which is why I cut off Riku, but I know what it was. It was a Hunter of the Dark. The bad news is it's still alive somewhere. Probably in Manehattan again. Aqua, one of the keyblade wielders that helped us fight Xehanort, fought one when she was stuck in the dark realm. She told us about it and we thought she had beaten it. But I guess it somehow survived. I didn't want to scare anyone because it is much too powerful for any of you to handle. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on top of the train."

"What makes you think I'm not ready to fight it? I've fought the heartless. You've even helped me."

"True, but nothing like that before. Aqua told us everything she could about the battle. It didn't even use one of its stronger attacks. Otherwise, we would all be dead. Not even Roxas can stand up to that." Twilight hung her head. She thought they were all doing well, but she couldn't have been more wrong.

"The last thing I wanted to talk about is what happened during the battle," he said, continuing. "When Riku and I tried to combine again, I was hoping we could unleash an ability called Master Form. Unfortunately, I couldn't handle the transformation without two people and my heart almost collapsed, hence what you saw during the battle. Anti-form." Twilight committed the word to memory. "I'm asking you for something very important. If I fall into that darkness again, will you help me back?"

The question came as a bit of a surprise, but Twilight answered it truthfully. "Of course," she said. "That's what friends are for." She smiled at him and he smiled back.

"Thanks Twilight. Now let's head back in."

"Okay," she said. Together, the two keyblade wielders made their way back through the cars to the ponys' main car where they were able to rest before arriving at their stop.


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Everyone stepped out of the train and onto the platform as engineers began running on and around the train to inspect the damage wrought by the heartless. They had stopped off in a small town near Manehattan and were getting ready to take a small break.

Sora let out a large yawn. "Man am I tired," he said.

"We can't afford to rest," said Riku. "We have to get to Manehattan to stop that heartless."

"Do we have to go now though?" asked Pinkie, bouncing up beside Sora and Riku as they led the crowd.

"Well, we won't be going right away," responded Riku. "We still need to train a little first. That heartless was no pushover and I doubt we can just walk up and stab it a few times."

"So when do we start?" asked Twilight, now joining Riku, Sora, and Pinkie.

"We'll start as soon as everyone's ready. I'd suggest grabbing something to eat while we've got some down time," said Sora.

"Okay. You two find a good spot to practice and I'll take a look around here with the others," said Twilight. She then directed the rest of the group away from Sora and Riku while they continued walking, hoping to find some sort of open field or flat area. They soon found an abandoned lumber yard at the edge of the small town and decided to use that. It had a few pieces of debris, but it was clear for the most part.

"Riku, can you clear off the extra wood while I go find the others?" asked Sora.

"Sure. Just be back soon. We don't know how far the heartless have spread in this world," said Riku. Sora nodded and hurried off, hoping to find Twilight and the rest of the ponies soon and lead them to the yard.

Back in town, Twilight and the others had just sat down to an outdoor restaurant but couldn't quite find their appetites. Within minutes, Applejack fell asleep, while the others began yawning themselves.

Rainbow Dash was just about to nod off when she heard a loud rustling in the bushes nearby. It sounded like it was about the size of a human. She turned around and saw three shadows coming out of the concrete by the bushes. "Guys," she said, "I think we have a problem."

Everyone else lifted their heads while Applejack slowly woke up. When everyone noticed the heartless, they cautiously backed up. The waiters and any other ponies who happened to be walking by started running in panic, yelling "They're back!"

Everyone stopped backing up only a few feet from where they had all started and summoned their keyblades. Rarity immediately started complaining. "Sora never showed us how to fight these things. What should we do?"

"We're just gonna have to do our best," said Rainbow, shouldering her keyblade. She thought about activating her keyblade armor, but decided against it. After all, why equip such powerful armor if you're just going to fight a few small heartless?

The 'few small heartless' quickly became many as more and more of the shadows started showing up. Nevertheless, the group charged forward to meet and fight the heartless.

Everyone seemed to be having an easy time dispatching the creatures, executing a few quick strokes of their keyblades before finishing with a thrust. They had even been able to guard a lot of the shadows' attacks. However, Rarity and Fluttershy weren't doing very well. They stood back to back, only finding the courage to guard and rarely swing.

A heartless jumped at their exposed left side where they had no one to help them defend. Rarity managed to turn and bring her keyblade down on top of the heartless, cushing it into the concrete to let it disappear into darkness.

They weren't without their wounds, either. Of the few attacks that did land, the damage was devastating, taking massive amounts of energy just to keep standing. Fluttershy was quickly wearing out after casting the Cure spell so many times, and Rarity barely had energy to swing her keyblade.

Just when they thought they had lost, Twilight came in, keyblade swinging, to fight off the bulk of the attackers. "Stay focused!" she said before leaping off to fight another group of heartless that was beginning to edge away from the ponies.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash flew high overhead, striking the heartless below with multiple Thunder spells. She had no idea how she was summoning the bolts of lighting and honestly didn't care as long as they were working as offensive weapons against the heartless. Every now and again, she would dive bomb the heartless below with a few keyblade swings and pull up before crashing.

Applejack kept a steady attack and defend pattern. Swing three times and then watch to see if the heartless would attack. If so, she would be ready to guard. If not, she could unleash another combo on the heartless surrounding her.

Pinkie Pie would just laugh at the heartless as they fell before her impossibly fast swings and even faster movements as she danced her way around and behind the heartless to strike them from behind.

Eventually, the group began to tire and was pushed together. Even Rainbow Dash didn't have any strength left to fly. They were all pushed into a tight circle when the back lines of the heartless began exploding in light. Eventually, the light worked its way to the ponies and revealed itself to be Sora in his keyblade armor.

Sora's armor was completely gold and his helmet matched Ventus's. The only difference was the visor which was a deep and reflective Silver.

The armor seemed to be amplifying his attacks as he swung his keyblade, each swing releasing a wave of light that destroyed more nearby heartless. The ponies joined in his attack and with Sora's help, quickly defeated the remaining heartless.

When the coast was clear, Sora deactivated his armor and went to check on everyone else. "That was awesome!" cheered Rainbow. She was clearly impressed not only by Sora's display of attacks, but also by his gold plated armor.

"Thanks," he said in response. "Are you all okay?"

"Yeah, thanks to you," said Twilight in relief. "Did you and Riku find a good training area?"

"Yep. Just follow me. It's on the edge of town, so it may take awhile to get to," said Sora as he turned away from them. The ponies nodded their heads and together, they all began making their way towards the abandoned lumber yard.


Riku watched Sora go and hoped he would take a while. Riku planned on making a few quick dummies to train on. At least, before moving onto real time combat. Looking around, he found several suitable pieces of rotting wood and logs, so he began to stick them into the ground in a straight line.

As he worked on the positioning of the dummies, he had the strangest feeling he was being watched. He waited to see if the sensation would pass, but it didn't. If anything, it got stronger. Riku paused to listen for any movement behind him, but all he heard was the wind whisking through the trees.

He finished setting up the last dummy and stood back to admire his work. All of the extra pieces of wood were in a perfect line, though none of the 'dummies' looked alike or even resembled heartless. Nevertheless, they had targets now.

When Riku turned around, he saw a dark shape in the trees ahead. He squinted, trying to make out a solid shape. His eyes widened in shock and he jumped back just in time to avoid a pillar of darkness erupting where he stood just moments ago. The figure stepped out from trees slowly and stopped, staring with its red eyes at Riku.

The figure was humanoid and wore a black cloak. On its arms, it had woven magenta patterns and the same went for the bottom of the cloak. On its back was the symbol of a nightmare.

"You," said Riku. "I thought I destroyed you." The Nightmare continued to stare at him, unblinking, unmoving. Finally, it held up its hand and from it came a purple and magenta sword with the Nightmare sigil on its handguard. It lowered its hand, now holding its sword and waited, seemingly for Riku to summon his keyblade. He did and held it at the ready.

The Nightmare rushed forward and brought its sword down on Riku who guarded it and followed up with a swing of his own, catching the Nightmare in what Riku assumed to be its chin. The creature black flipped and landed perfectly, charging forward again to strike at Riku who, again, guarded the attack and countered with ease.

Something was different about the Nightmare this time. Its attack pattern was one tracked to say the least. It was nothing like before. Maybe it didn't have enough energy for its more powerful attacks. But then why would it attack him in the first place? These questions were cycling through Riku's head as he guarded and countered, over and over again.

Finally, the Nightmare changed its attack pattern. It disappeared into the earth and moved around as a swirling pool of darkness. It came back up behind Riku, but he was ready for it. He spun and slashed the nightmare horizontally, sending it spiralling back a ways. It managed to right itself in mid air and come to a safe landing, though that didn't save it from being blasted by a fireball from Riku as a followup to his earlier strike.

Riku ran toward the stunned Nightmare and charged his keyblade with light. In one swing, he slashed the creature in half and watched as it disappeared into shadows.


When Sora showed up with the ponies, he found Riku dismissing his keyblade. He also had a couple minor scuffs and bruises. "What happened?" asked Sora.

"I'll tell you later," said Riku. "For now, let's start training everyone." From here, Riku lined up the six ponies so that they were facing the 'training dummies'. "Now, none of you have been in a real fight except for Twilight and Fluttersh-"

"Actually, Riku," cut in Sora, "when I found them, they were being attacked by heartless."

"Oh. Well then I guess I was wrong. However, none of you have very much applicable skill. Other than Twilight, none of you seem to know any offensive magic."

"Wait, so you're saying we can use magic even though we're not unicorns?" asked Rainbow Dash, bewildered at the idea. Her mind was drawn to the lightning she had summoned earlier.

"Precisely," said Riku. He summoned his keyblade and turned toward one of the dummies. "Fire!" he called. A ball of fire launched from his keyblade and struck the dummy in its 'head', blowing it clean off. The ponies released collective oo's and ah's. "We'll have to teach you all how to use magic. It'll benefit you immensely when it comes to a tough fight."

"So where do we start?" asked Pinkie.

"Well, we've only got a little bit of time. No doubt that heartless is back in Manehattan and is looking for the keyhole. So, I'll give you all a list of magic that Sora and I know, and we'll teach each of you one spell of your choice." Everypony nodded their heads. "Okay. Now form a line in front of me and we'll get started."

Everypony began forming up with Twilight in front. "Okay, Twilight. I'm going to ask you to train with Sora for now."

"Why's that?" asked Twilight.

"You already know some offensive magic and if we divide and conquer, then we can finish up here and move onto Manehattan faster." Twilight nodded her head and walked over to Sora.

"So, Sora, what kind of magic will you be teaching me?" she asked.

"I was thinking about the Cure spell," he said. "I know it's saved me an amazing amount of times, and I've even seen Fluttershy use it before, though I don't know how she learned it."

"Okay. So what do I do first?" Twilight pulled out a notebook from seemingly nowhere and summoned a pencil.

"Let's just stick with practical application," said Sora. Before Twilight could react, Sora had summoned his keyblade and struck her, knocking the wind out of her as she fell to the ground. "Sorry, but I knew you wouldn't agree to me whacking you like that."

Twilight picked herself up and brushed off. She was definitely hurt, but she didn't show it. "What was that for again?"

"I needed to put you in a position where the Cure spell could be effectively learned and practiced. Again, sorry." Twilight groaned in annoyance. "Now, you've been injured during battle and your enemy has stalled its attack. This is a perfect time to heal because your spell won't be interrupted by your enemy's attack. Focus your magic and heal yourself."

Twilight thought of every healing spell she knew, but none of them did the trick. Then, she found something else. Something near her heart that looked promising. She was careful and started fueling her magic into it. Before she knew it, a massive flower bloomed over head and showered her with its healing energy. It disappeared almost immediately and Twilight went to rejoin Sora who congratulated her.

"That was great!" he said.

"Yeah. I just wish you didn't hit me so hard," she said, rubbing her sore foreleg. "That really hurt."

"Sorry, but the heartless won't let up at all. Now, unfortunately, the only way that that Cure spell can be put to use is if you're in danger and you've lost some strength. When you need to recover during a fight, make sure that you're not being attacked and then cast your Cure spell. What do you say to a sparring match to get you acquainted?"

Twilight shivered inwardly. With just a simple swing, Sora had knocked her down before she could react. She hesitated before nodding her head. "Okay then," said Sora. He jumped far back and crouched into his combat stance. "Here we go!"

Sora charged forward, hoping to get the benefit of the first strike. He swung his keyblade at Twilight and it passed right through her as if she wasn't there. He then felt an intense pain in the back of his head as Twilight's keyblade knocked him forward. He was pushed through 'Twilight' to find that it was a hologram of sorts. In fact, she had teleported behind Sora and left a still image of herself.

When Sora turned, he was met with a fireball and couldn't guard it. It impacted but carried little force behind it. Sora didn't even flinch, but the heat still burned. He rushed forward again and started pounding at Twilight's defenses, forcing her to switch from attacking to immediate guarding. She knew that Sora could finish her with one blow and she didn't plan on letting that happen.

Twilight teleported again, this time above Sora and she dove down on top of him, smacking him with her keyblade. He was pushed a few centimeters into the ground but managed to roll away and guard Twilight's next attack. He immediately countered and struck Twilight in the chin, launching her into the air. She came down hard and collapsed as she landed, surrendering with the weak wave of a hoof.

"That was good," said Sora as he cast Cure on Twilight, "but you didn't get a chance to use your Cure spell. Try using it now to fix whatever damage I couldn't." Twilight did as she was told and, instead of the basic cure spell, she unleashed Curaga, the spell's strongest level. Sora stared for a moment in awe. "Great job, Twilight! I don't think I learned that one until near the end of my first journey."

"Thanks," she said wearily. "Could I take a rest now? Maybe over on that log over... there..." Twilight fell to the ground, unconscious.

"Looks like I took it a little too far," said Sora to himself. He picked up Twilight and carried her to a pile of logs, setting her down so she would lean against them.

Meanwhile, Riku had just finished showing Applejack, the next in line, how to use the Magnet spell. "Great job," he said. "Remember, at its current level, it'll only work well on weak heartless. Later, though, it will be effective on all kinds of enemies."

"Thank ya kindly, Riku," she said before leaving the line. Rainbow Dash was the next one up.

"So, Rainbow Dash, what spell would you like to learn?" He showed her the list of spells he knew. Already, she knew what she wanted.

"Blizzard," she said confidently.

Riku smiled. "Okay. It's a simple one to cast. Just start thinking cold. Really cold." Rainbow Dash shut her eyes and started thinking as cold as she could. The sheer cold of an ocean storm touched her consciousness as she recalled memories of her earlier flights as a mare. Her mind quickly wandered, however, to the outcome, where she crashed into the ocean and nearly drowned. As the memory tormented her, she opened her eyes and found that she'd frozen the end of her keyblade a little.

"It's gotta be colder I guess," said Riku jokingly.

"Right," she said in determination. She shut her eyes again and called up the memory, focussing purely on the cold and blocking everything else. She held out her keyblade at one of the dummies and fired a chunk of ice out of it, freezing the dummy on impact.

"Excellent," he said. "Now, go join Applejack and practice with her."

"Gotcha," she said before hurrying off.

"Okay, Fluttershy, you're up next." Fluttershy stepped forward in line.

"Um, Riku? If it's all the same to you, um, could I maybe learn a spell that doesn't hurt anyone?" Riku thought about this for a moment and then agreed.

"Okay. How about these?" He pulled out cards that he had gotten from Castle Oblivion. He had managed to smuggle them out, though he hadn't tried to use them. He shuffled through them until he found the Protect spell. While he had never used it himself, he knew what it did and thought Fluttershy would be the perfect one to use it. He turned it over and, sure enough, there were instructions on how to cast the spell.

"Okay, Fluttershy," he said. "Focus hard on me. Focus on the fact that I'm in danger right now."

"But, there aren't any heartless," she said confused.

"I know, which is why I need you to know it. You have to think of me being in danger as a fact right now. Close your eyes. It might help." Fluttershy did as she was told and waited. "Now, I'm in extreme danger because I don't have much energy left to fight and a heartless is about to finish me. Unless, you can manage to protect m-" Before Riku could finish speaking, he saw a barrier form around him and noticed Fluttershy's keyblade had appeared in her hoof, the tip aglow with a brilliant light.

"Wow," was all Riku could say. He was amazed at how quickly Fluttershy had learned the Protect spell, much less the speed she had cast it with. He made a mental note to study up on the spell himself later. "Great job, Fluttershy. Now, I want you to go over to Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Ask them to spar and cast Protect on both of them. Good luck."

"Thank you, Riku," she said. She turned and began walking toward Applejack and Rainbow Dash as they were practicing their spells.

"Okay Pinkie Pie, you're next," said Riku. The pink party pony bounced up in front of him.

"That's okay Riku. I already know how to use magic," said Pinkie simply.

"How?" he asked. "I thought only unicorns could use magic."

"Oh you know. Cartoon logic," she said.

"Oh, okay," said Riku. He paused for a moment as he realized what he'd just said. "Wait. What?"

"What?" asked Pinkie back as if she hadn't said anything.

"Um... nothing," said Riku, confused. "Why don't you show me something then." He pointed to the dummy Rainbow Dash had frozen and said, "Why don't you unthaw that dummy?"

"Sure," said Pinkie happily. She held up her keyblade and said simply, "Fire." A Fira-sized ball launched from the tip and passed near the dummy, perfectly thawing it without damaging the dummy itself.

"Nice," said Riku. "It looks like you know quite a bit already." He tried not to think about why, as he felt that he may give himself a headache trying to figure out the walking enigma. "I guess you can go over and practice with the others," he said, giving Pinkie the okay to bounce off toward her friends.

"Okay, that just leaves you, Rarity," he said as the white mare approached him. He showed her the list of spells he knew and immediately, she picked the Reflect spell. "Alright. It's the same idea as with Fluttershy's protect shell, though it's more direct in that it stops all damage for about a second."

Copying what Fluttershy did, Rarity successfully cast Reflect on Riku. She even summoned her keyblade and brought it down on him to demonstrate how strong of a barrier she had made, though she hadn't anticipated the 'reflection' of damage and had to jump back to avoid it. "Excellent," said Riku. "Now, go ahead and join the others. I'll be meeting with you all soon." Rarity turned and walked toward the others.

Meanwhile, Riku joined Sora who was still sitting by Twilight. "Take it a bit too far?" he asked.

"Yeah, just a tad," responded Sora. "So how's the magic training going?"

"Great. Everyone learned a new spell," said Riku. "Well, everyone except Pinkie Pie. I honestly don't know how she functions."

Sora chuckled to himself. "Me neither," He paused before adding, "Hey, Riku?"


"When we tried to link before, it went out of control and I switched to Anti-form. The problem this time though is that I had absolutely no control. I'm worried about what might happen if I transform again and the ponies can't defend themselves."

"Relax, Sora. They've all got some kind of natural skill with this. They'll find some way to keep you under control," said Riku, half chuckling while he spoke that last part.

"That's good. Did you set everyone up to spar?"

"Well, not exactly." A loud explosion could be heard from where the ponies were. "Guess we'd better see what happened."

"Yeah," said Sora. He stood up and held his keyblade above Twilight before saying, "Cure." After a moment, a shower of green magic fell over her and she woke up, mumbling groggily to herself.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"I think your friends had some trouble with their magic," said Sora. "We're going to go check on them, okay?"

"Sure," said Twilight as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and followed Sora and Riku. Together, they made their way to where the ponies were sparing. Evidently, Pinkie Pie had made too large of a fireball. When Rarity cast her Reflect spell to guard it, both her shield and Pinkie's fireball exploded. Neither of them were hurt, though they weren't too happy with their results.

Riku called everyone back together to talk to them. "Everyone, we need to get moving to Manehattan. The ponies there are in trouble and we've got to help."

"So soon?" asked Twilight. "I mean, I get that we have to get there soon to stop the heartless, but we've only just learned how to use our keyblades. Do you really think we're already prepared for this?"

"Come on, Twilight," said Rainbow Dash. "We've taken down worse, right? What's some heartless against the Elements of Harmony, huh?"

Twilight paused for a moment before she admitted, "I guess you're right. I just hope we're good enough to stop them."

"If you're ready, then let's get moving," said Riku.

"Twilight, do you know what direction Manehattan is from here?" asked Sora.

"Yes. If we head north from here, we should arrive at the southern gate to the city. They may have it closed off, though."

"Okay. If it is closed, then we'll just have to find another way in," said Sora. He summoned his keyblade and held it straight up. Riku did the same, and soon they were all holding their keyblades to the sky. "No matter what happens, we'll all make it back alive," said Sora confidently.

Everypony shifted uncomfortably. Hearing that there was a possibility that they could die made them all uneasy and hurt their morale. Nevertheless, the group immediately set out for Manehattan, eager to finish their fight sooner rather than later.


The group knew that they couldn't make it to the city before sundown, and they definitely didn't want to fight the Hunter of the Dark at night with such low visibility. The group decided to settle down for the night five miles out of the city. From what they could see, there wasn't very much damage to the city, though Sora and Riku could feel the darkness emanating from the skyscrapers as the city's inhabitants were attacked by the heartless every now and again. The city was quiet and dark, showing just how scared all of the ponies there were.

Everyone had gone to bed and were sleeping soundly. That is, everyone except for Sora. He sat on a nearby hill, staring at the city. The stars lit up the night sky, giving the hill and city a beautiful blueish tint. His mind began to wander and he began to think about Kairi and the others that were trapped by Xehanort. How long would it take to find a portal back to the dark realm? When could he save his friends? Would he be able to save them once he arrived, or would he be too late?

He was torn from his thoughts when he heard a voice behind him. "So you can't sleep either?" Sora turned his head to see Twilight approaching him.

"Nope," he said matter-of-factly as Twilight sat down next to him. "I can't help but think that I've been failing everyone. Ever since I got here, I've been putting people in trouble. I couldn't even protect my own friends." He slammed his fist into the ground and hung his head.

He suddenly felt Twilight embrace him in a hug. Surprise crossed his face for just a moment before he returned to normal. Twilight backed up and stared at him. "What was that for?" he asked.

"I think you needed it more than anything," she said. "I can tell you're hurting right now, and I don't know what I can do to help. I can't stand to see my friends in pain like this."

Truth be told, it did make Sora feel better. "Thanks, Twilight," was all he said.

"No problem. I have to ask you though... when we get to Manehattan tomorrow, could we really not come back? Alive, I mean?"

Sora thought for a second before answering. "As warriors of light, we put our lives on the line to protect others. So, yes. We will be in danger and we might even lose our hearts if we're not strong enough." Twilight gulped in fear loudly. "But we can't focus on that. If we get distracted for a second, it could mean the difference between victory and loss. I was lucky, and Kairi helped me get my heart back when I became a heartless." Twilight released a breath that she didn't realize she was holding. "But she won't be there for me this time, so I've got to do my best. And so do you," he said while turning toward Twilight.

Twilight stared at the ground for a minute. "What was being a heartless like?" she asked.

Sora thought about it again before answering. "It was darkness; never-ending darkness that I couldn't escape from no matter how hard I tried. I just kept falling deeper and deeper into it until Kairi saved me. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and she brought me back." Sora smiled as he thought about her.

"What's she like?" asked Twilight.

"She's strong, but kind. She has the best personality and I couldn't be happier to know her. She certainly isn't some damsel in distress. When I returned to a world where darkness was overflowing, she wanted to come with me and help me out. I said no because I didn't want to put her danger, but I didn't see her for a long time after that. We've been friends since we were kids, and Riku and I were always fighting over her." He chuckled to himself. "She's a fighter and she won't give up easily. I bet she's still fighting Xehanort right now, even as he's stealing her heart." A single tear rolled down Sora's cheek and a small frown found its way to his face.

"Don't worry, Sora. We'll find her again, and then we'll all stop Xehanort. I'll do whatever I can to help. Count on it." Twilight smiled at Sora.

"Thanks, Twilight," he said. He laid back down and closed his eyes, drifting off into sleep.


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Sora, Riku, and the ponies were charging towards the gate to Manehattan by 6:30 in the morning. They had to hurry and find the hunter of the dark to stop it, and getting up early was worth it if it meant saving lives.

When they arrived at the gate, a guard stopped them commanding, "Halt! The city is under attack by a monster. You must leave immediately." He took notice of Twilight's wings, but instead of letting her through, he held his position even firmer.

Twilight summoned a piece of paper with a seal on it. The seal consisted of the two princesses circling each other around a half sun, half moon. She floated it to the guard and he broke the seal, reading it quickly. After a minute of his eyes darting back and forth across the page, they suddenly widened when he reached the end. "Can you really help us?" he asked desperately.

"Count on it," said Twilight with a smile. "We need help getting everyone else away from the city. Can you move your troops in and finish evacuating everyone else?"

"Yes ma'am," said the guard. "Though, we haven't been very successful as of late. Every time my soldiers enter the city, they're attacked by these strange creatures. As they continue to impead our progress, it becomes more and more difficult to evacuate the rest of the civilians."

Twilight thought on this for a second. "What if we sent one of our warriors with each of your squads. Then, you could have extra help dealing with the heartless from ponies who know how to fight them."

The guard immediately agreed. "Okay. I've got five squads that need help with the evacuation. It's up to you, however, who should go with them."

Twilight turned to her friends and said, "Sora, why don't you pick. You've had the most experience fighting the heartless, so I'm sure you can put together a team that can beat our target." Sora nodded and started thinking about the team he should take to fight the hunter of the dark. Rainbow Dash and Applejack were great physical attackers, Pinkie Pie and Twilight were great offensive magic users, and Rarity and Fluttershy were good supporting warriors, not to mention Riku who could do all of the above. After thinking for a minute, he decided.

"Riku, you join the weakest of the squads. They'll need the most help. As for the two who will join me, Applejack, Rarity, you're up." The two ponies stepped forward. "Rarity, I'll need you to cover me with supporting spells while Applejack, you and I will attack the heartless head on. As soon as the rest of you have finished evacuating everyone, come and find us. It shouldn't be that hard. I'm sure we'll make enough noise."

With their battle plan decided, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Twilight, and Riku were all escorted away by guards to join their respective squads. Sora, Applejack, and Rarity were then let in by the guard as he said, "Celestia help you."

Once inside, Sora and his team started making their way to the tallest building in the city; the Empire State Building. They came across a few heartless in the streets on the way there, though they made it through easily with Sora and Applejack handling the physical attacks and Rarity covering them with reflect spells. Somehow, she had managed to learn the Shell spell and it was proving to be very effective.

When they arrived, they could practically feel the darkness coming from the top of the tower. They rushed inside to the lobby of the building and were met with several armored knight heartless. The heartless rushed forward in a perfect line and attacked all at once. If it hadn't been for Rarity's reflect spell on all of them, then the combined blows would have done massive damage. The reflect spell suddenly kicked in to its main purpose and reflected the damage back at the heartless, destroying them in a flash of energy. With the heartless destroyed, they rushed to the main elevators and made their way inside. Sora pressed the button for the top floor and, with a minor shake in the elevator, they were off.

Sora's original plan had been to used the Empire State Building to search the city with his eyes so that he could find the Hunter of the Dark. It seemed, though, that the heartless or at least one of equal strength was already higher up in the building.

On the way up, the elevator stopped at the fifth floor. It dinged before the door opened, revealing three shadows. Sora fired a wide Blizzard spell, expanding and destroying all three at once. The elevator doors shut and it kept moving up.

They were stopped every five floors or so to fight small groups, but they finally made it to the observation deck. The darkness was incredibly powerful by now and even the ponies could feel it. The stepped out onto the observation deck and looked around for the Hunter of the Dark. There was no sign of it, yet the darkness was overwhelming. Suddenly, a roar rang out above them. When they looked up, they saw the Hunter of the Dark hanging from the top of the building like King Kong.

"Everyone, hop the fence," shouted Sora.

"But that's crazy!" protested Applejack. "We'll fall!"

"No you won't. Trust me, and jump," he said. Rarity and Applejack looked at each other nervously, but did as they were told. When they reached the top of the fence, they climbed over, shut their eyes and jumped. But instead of falling, they were suspended in mid air. When Applejack looked down, she backpedaled and fell on her back, noticing, apart from how high up they were, that a forcefield of what seemed to be wind was holding she and Rarity up. She looked back up to see Sora backflip off of the building, clearing the fence and landing on his own platform of air. "It's a spell," he said with a smirk at Applejack's initial reaction. "I cast Aeroga to create a platform for us to fly with. Now, we just have to bring down that heartless. Rarity, cover Applejack and I with support spells. We'll take it head on." Rarity nodded as she gripped her keyblade with her magic, channeling her energy into to call upon her magic.

"How the hay am I supposed to fly this thing?" she as she shook, still trying to get the hang of walking on air.

"You kind of just have to 'will' it where you want to go. Just think in your head what you want it to do, and it should do it," responded Sora with a nervous smile.

"Okay," she said uncertainly. "I'll trust you." It took a moment, but she slowly started hovering over to Sora as he waited for her.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"Ready as I'll ever be," she said nervously. Sora nodded and together, they flew off toward the Hunter of the Dark.


As Sora and Applejack approached the heartless, Sora said, "Remember to wait for an opening. This thing's attacks are devastating." Just as he finished his sentence, the Hunter of the Dark swung its clawed arm out and smacked Applejack, almost knocking her out of the sky. If it hadn't have been for Sora's Aeroga spell, she would have kept falling.

Sora, meanwhile, kept flying toward the beast and managed to land a few hits to its face before it clawed him, sending him spiraling higher into the air. He suddenly felt the Shell spell encase him in a barrier. That would protect him from the creature's magic, assuming it had any. He silently thanked Rarity.

Applejack regained control and flew up toward the heartless again, this time being very careful to dodge its claw swipes. Her maneuvers were sloppy, but she came in close enough to bring her keyblade down on the hand that held onto the top of the tower. Its grip loosened, but it held on tight. "Aw, pony feathers," cursed Applejack as she retreated. Just as she started flying away, what looked like a tinted red ghost of the heartless leapt off of the tower at her and struck her in the back, disappearing as she dropped 20 feet down.

She regained her balance and used a potion that she had picked up from Sora to heal herself. She then turned around and began flying back up.

Sora noticed Applejack get attacked, but he couldn't focus on it because the same attack came at him. He was guarded by a reflect spell from Rarity who was coming in to help fight the heartless as well. The reflected damage only hurt the Hunter of the Dark's double and didn't do anything to the actual creature.

Now combining their attacks, Sora and the ponies began pounding the heartless, finally getting the hang of controlling their spinning platforms of air. Every now and again, a solid attack landed, but Sora quickly cast Cure on the damaged person/pony and fixed them up again.

The battle continued on like this, with Rarity casting support spells a couple of times and all three of them attacking it head on. When the Hunter of the Dark was done with being beaten, it teleported away off of the building. The battle was far from over, though. A massive ring of red, yellow, blue and green darkness began swirling around the top of the building and the group. Every few seconds, the heartless would come spiraling out of one side of the wall and into the other. The few times when Sora happened to be in the way cost him dearly, though he managed to stay standing with Cure spells.

Eventually, the dark wall faded and the hunter of the dark resumed its position on the top of the Empire State Building. This time though, it started shooting out homing balls of darkness from its mouth and claws. Rarity managed to protect everyone with reflect and even bounce back most of the shots, dealing heavy to damage to the creature.

Suddenly, it leapt from the building and grabbed all three warriors. With nothing to hang on to, it fell towards the ground at an alarming speed, bringing Sora and the ponies with it. Sora turned his head and watched as the street below grew closer and closer while he and the others struggled to get free. They impacted the concrete, splintering the street with cracks and dents.

The air escaped Sora's lungs and left him without breath. He struggled to regain it as the heartless pushed off of him, jumping far away down the street. He slowly got up and watched Rarity and Applejack do the same. "Come on," he said, still trying to breathe. "We can't let it get away!" Rarity and Applejack marveled at the fact that they had not broken any bones and that they were still able to stand as they hurried after Sora.

The Hunter of the Dark was already far down the abandoned street by the time the group was ready to move. Already, they had to start sprinting to catch up with it. When they reached the end of the street, the heartless rounded a corner and left them behind. They followed it and found that it was waiting for them. It roared before hitting them all with a wide claw swipe from the left. Everyone nearly went down, tumbling to the side as they lost the energy to stand. After just one, stronger swing, they were down for the count. Rarity and Applejack couldn't move and Sora was using his keyblade for support as he knelt on one knee.

He suddenly felt a potion wash over him, recovering him and helping him stand. When he looked behind him, he saw Riku and the rest of the ponies running to join him. He watched Rarity and Applejack stand as they were healed by Twilight, getting up and brushing themselves off. "Need any help?" asked Riku.

"Yeah," said Sora. Together, everyone faced the Hunter of the Dark, Sora's team breathing heavily from exhaustion. It roared in defiance and turned into a smoky black cloud of shadows. The only part of it that wasn't black were its glowing, red eyes.

"Lookout! It's going to disappear again. Be ready because it could come at anyone of us from any direction," said Sora. As Sora said this, the heartless disappeared, yet its growling could still be heard coming from everywhere at once. "Rarity, now!"

Just in time, Rarity cast Reflect on everyone. When the heartless emerged, it tried to attack everyone at once, but instead, it was met with a powerful reflection of its own attack. The combined force of everyone reflecting the heartless' attacks at once proved to be too much for the beast. It stopped its disappearing act and, now low on energy, faced the group head on, relentlessly attacking everyone with balls of darkness and massive claw swipes.

For the most part, the group managed to guard the attacks. They even countered with their newly aquired magic. All the while, Pinkie Pie seemed to be the only unstopable one. Whenever the heartless would swing at her, she would somehow teleport without leaving a trace and cast a powerful Thunder spell on it from behind, sometimes alternating between that and the Fire and Ice spells.

Eventually, the heartless gave up and collapsed. Sora, Riku, and the ponies jumped all together and brought their keyblades down on the heartless as Sora called out, "This is it!" The combined strength of the eight warriors eradicated it and split it into small shards of darkness.


The shards covered the street like glass, giving it the look of shimmering, black ice. Suddenly, they wove together under everyone's feet to make a platform of solid glass. It didn't crack under their weight and it was smooth, but not slick.

"Great job, everyone," said Sora with a smile. "Now, to find that keyhole. Let's check back at that tall building. We may have just stopped the heartless from getting it." Everyone nodded in agreement and began rushing back to the tall skyscraper.

When they arrived, the heartless were nowhere in sight. They rushed to the elevator and rode it to the observation deck. "Ok everyone," said Twilight. "Where is it?"

"I don't know," said Sora. "It's always revealed itself when the keyblade is nearby."

Everyone thought on this for a moment before Riku came up with an idea. "Maybe it's not in Manehattan. Maybe we miscalculated."

"Well then, where is it?" asked Sora. Then Twilight spoke up.

"I've got it!" she said. "Earlier yesterday, I was reading a book. It was called 'Myths of Mystical Weapons'. I thought that some of the weapons in them were sort of strange, like the gunblade or the ultima weapon. However, what caught my eye was the keyblade. I forgot about it in the excitement back then, but now that I think about it, the book said that keyholes, which it could lock, where often found in important places to the world such as capitals or major countries. Maybe if we check back in someplace like that, then we'll find it."

"Great idea," said Sora. "But why is there a book with information on the keyblade? Even we barely understand it."

"I ordered plenty of books from the Canterlot archives a few months ago. They were mainly for me, but I made sure to get reprints for the ponies in Ponyville to read as well. They're filled with all kinds of information on plenty of subjects, so it's no surprise that a weapon like the keyblade was in one of them."

"So, what are some capitals or important places of Equestria?" asked Sora, trying to change the subject to avoid another string of information from Twilight.

"Well, there's the crystal empire up north, the Winsome Falls to the southeast, though I'm not sure if that counts, Canterlot, or... the old castle in the Everfree Forest. I bet it's there. That thing's been around since the two princess ruled thousands of years ago. It's gotta be there!"

"So where's the forest?" asked Riku.

Twilight momentarily blushed. "It's back near Ponyville," she said with a sigh, one that was immediately echoed by Sora and Riku.

"Well, then we'd better get moving," said Sora, crestfallen. "We've done our part, but now we've got to go. We can't afford to wait any longer." With that, the group left the city through its nearest exit and started making their way home.


When they arrived back in Ponyville, the group checked back in with Celestia who had found refuge in Twilight's library. Thankfully, she had informed Spike about the threat and he had agreed to let her stay. "So, did you defeat the heartless and seal the keyhole?" asked the Princess.

"Well, you see..." began Sora. He then recounted the events of the past couple of days; the train ride, the training, fighting the heartless in Manehattan, and then eventually working their way back to Ponyville.

"I see," she said. "Do you have any ideas on where the keyhole might be then?"

"Yes," said Twilight. "We think it could be in yours and Luna's old castle. If the keyholes are usually in places that are old and are deeply connected to the world, then that might be our best bet."

"Good. Please, depart immediately. Sora, Riku, once you've sealed the keyhole, take them to see the other worlds. I know you need to find the portal to the dark realm, and maybe you'll find it by traveling the surrounding worlds. Besides, these six must learn to fight the darkness in every world if they are to master the keyblade."

"Yes, ma'am," said Sora and Riku simultaneously, snapping to a quick salute.

"There's a problem though," said Sora, relaxing. "We don't have our gummi ship to get off-planet with. Without that, we can't travel between the worlds."

"So Yen Sid never told you," began Celestia with a chuckle. "Your keyblades can become vehicles to traverse the lanes between. So long as you wear your armor, the darkness in the Lanes Between cannot harm you. Now, go before the heartless catch on to the location of the castle." Without waiting to hear more, everyone dashed out from the library and set out for the Everfree forest. All except for Twilight who hung back for a minute.

"Princess, I-"

"I assume you read about the kinds of challenges that a keyblade warrior faces," said Celestia coldly.

"Yes. Do you really think that I'm ready for something like this? That any of us are really ready?

"I do," said the Princess, her tone softening. "Twilight, the reason I accepted you as my student at the school is because I saw great potential in you. I always knew you would one day do many great things, and I see I've been proven right."

"But Princess, what should I-"

"You should go with the others. Fight the darkness and save the worlds. Finish this one last task for me."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Twilight.

Before she could get her answer, Pinkie jumped on her from behind saying, "Come on! We have to go!"

Twilight bowed her head to the princess and left with Pinkie. As soon as they were gone, Celestia went up to Twilight's room where she would be staying, sat down, and cried.


When they arrived on the edge of the forest, the ponies began to shift uneasily. "What's wrong?" asked Riku.

"This place just ain't natural," said Applejack uneasily. "Nopony who values their life goes in there."

"Don't worry. If we run into the heartless or the nobodies, we can take 'em," said Sora.

"Remind me what a nobody is again," said Rainbow Dash.

"When a person loses their heart," began Riku, "if they've got a strong heart and will, then their body will carry on. Though it's usually a husk of itself and carries no personality. However, Sora and I once fought a group of them called Organization XIII. They were sentient and commanded the rest of the nobodies. Like most of our old enemies, they wanted Kingdom Hearts, but we stopped them."

"Roxas was from organization XIII," said Sora. "When I became a heartless, Roxas was created in another world and Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII, found him and recruited him."

"He's on our side, right?" asked Fluttershy.

"Would he have helped us earlier if he wasn't?" responded Riku lightly.

"I guess not," she replied.

"Ok, everyone," said Twilight. "Let's find that castle again and the keyhole with it."

"Right," everyone said back. Together, the group charged into the forest, led by Twilight, to find the castle and end their search.

They encountered few heartless on their way to the castle, but other than that, they met no opposition. After crossing the creaky bridge over the gorge, they arrived at the castle's massive double doors to find that they were locked with a massive chain. "That's strange," said Twilight. "That wasn't there before."

"Ah told you it ain't natural," whispered Applejack to Riku.

"Hmm," said Sora, deep in thought. Then, he got an idea. "Twilight, why don't you use your keyblade?"

"What?" she asked in confussion.

"It can open any lock, even magical ones. Go ahead and give it a try," he said with a smile. Twilight summoned her keyblade and did as she was told. She slowly lifted her keyblade in front of her, lining the tip up up the lock's opening. With a small glimmer of light, her keyblade began to glow and, from its tip, it released a thin beam of light that entered the lock. A moment later, a loud click echoed around them. "Great job," said Sora, giving her a quick thumbs up.

"Thanks," she answered.

The team opened the doors and walked to the main throne room. There, their keyblades all appeared and began to glow with a strange, yellowish light. Suddenly, the back of the main throne lit up with a brilliant glow before dimming down again. "There it is," said Riku. "Twilight, why don't you seal it?"

"Why should it be me?" she asked curiously.

"Because you're our leader," answered Applejack.


"Well, any time we've needed ya, you've always lead us right to victory. Remember when we fought Discord, and he drove us apart? You were the one who helped us find the light again. So, I guess it's just fittin' that you outa seal the keyhole," finished Applejack. The realization that she had been their leader for so long hit Twilight, and it made her feel weak in the knees. She knew she should have been happy to have her friends regard her so highly, but it still didn't seem right.

Doing as she was told, she walked behind the massive throne and held out her keyblade to the glowing lock embedded in the wall. She pointed it at the keyhole and fired another thin beam of pure light, causing it to radiate a small amount of light before the keyhole evaporated with another click.

"Great job," said Riku. The floor suddenly lit up with a brilliant light under Sora. A large crown appeared in the light and a whirlwind surrounded him, temporarily drawing him away from the others and into a cloudy, glowing dimmension. He summoned his keyblade and waited for a seperate keyhole to appear. Strangely, his pauldron was what revealed the second keyhole. He jumped back, twirled his keyblade a few times then held it rigid, aiming at the secondary keyhole. He fired his own beam of light from his keyblade and it went straight in, sealing it as well.

When the whirlwind cleared, everyone except for Riku stared in awe. "What was that?!" asked Rainbow Dash. "That was awesome!"

"A new path is open," said Sora. "Now, it's time to go."

"Go where? Should I bring a scarf?" asked Rarity.

Riku chuckled along with the ponies. "No, hopefully not anywhere that cold." Riku then activated his keyblade armor, which was just as awesome as Sora's. His matched Terra's armor, though it was all silver and his helmet visor was black.

He then motioned to Sora to activate his keyblade armor and he did so. Together, the two keyblade wielders threw their keyblades in the air and they transformed into a vehicle of sorts. It was exactly like the vehicle that they had used to fight the nobody Dragon in the World That Never Was. This time, however, the platform that Sora stood on was gold, the place where Riku drove was silver, and instead of the nobody insignia, a crown was emblazoned on Sora's platform.

Together, the two armored keyblade wielders jumped onto the vehicle, both humans summoning their keyblades. They hovered in mid air as Twilight asked, "How do we do that?"

"Activate your armor and then charge your keyblades with light," directed Riku. "From there, you just have to feel it."

"Okay," said Twilight nervously. Feeling as if she was taking a test, she activated her keyblade armor and summoned her keyblade. Charging her keyblade with light, she threw it high in the sky. The pink piece of metal unraveled from the blade and the magenta star with it. Her keyblade glowed for a few seconds and, when the light cleared, a single platform floated above her.

Her vehicle consisted of a platform with her cutie mark on it and what looked like a purple, magical barrier surrounding it. Outside of the barrier, two glowing orbs floated around, orbiting the purple shield.

Twilight teleported inside the barrier and noticed that the gravity was slightly stronger than Equestria's norm, holding her in place. "It worked," she said with a smile, though it was hidden behind her visor. "Go on, everyone. Your turn."

Rainbow Dash went first. After activating her armor, she threw her keyblade into the air. The red, blue, and yellow strand of metal unraveled from her keyblade and another flash of light was displayed. When it cleared, a platform similar to Twilight's, though bearing Rainbow's lightning bolt on it, appeared surrounded by crackling, transparent thunderclouds. A console floated at what appeared to be the front of the vehicle and two high powered laser cannons were mounted to it.

Rainbow Dash simply had to fly straight through the cloud barrier before the console lit up. "Awesome!" she said. "When can we go?"

"Soon," said Sora. "Let's wait for the others first."

Fluttershy was next. She activated her armor and gently tossed her keyblade into the air. The vines that formed the blade unraveled and rewove to form a giant, green blooming flower. Once the inevitable flash of light disappeared, her vehicle was revealed.

It consisted of a platform, this time surrounded by green energy and leaves that seemed to swirl around it. Her vehicle also consisted of a front facing console with two seperate panels to either side. Two green orbs floated around the shield of leaves. Fluttershy flew up to her glider, the barrier of leaves parting to allow her entry. As soon as she touched down, the console lit up with various colors and lights. "All set," she said.

One by one, the vehicles emerged. They all consisted of a similar design; a platform and console surrounded by various things, though Twilight's vehicle had no console. With Rarity, they were various shards of elemental crystals. With Applejack, a shield of apple tree bark surrounded the platform. And of course, with Pinkie Pie, it was a collection of various types of confetti and deflated balloons.

When everyone had donned their keyblade armor and were on their gliders, they all flew out of the castle and upward on Riku's command. A single beam of light fired from Sora and Riku's vehicle and created a portal. "Everyone through!" yelled Sora in excitement.

All at once, they flew through the portal and disappeared from the face of Equestria. However, they weren't prepared for what they would find on the other side. Immediately, a meteor crashed into Sora and Riku's ship. They regained balance and found that they were in an asteroid field.

Everyone continuously used their vehicle's weapons to blast away the rocks, but eventually, they were overcome. Everyone was constantly battered by the impossible amount of debree and eventually, they lost control. Luckily, they were near a world that just so happened to be watching the meteor shower with awe. That is, the citizens who could watch.

Everyone lost control and their ships began to crash together. All at once, they fell to the new world and crashed. Hard. Their armor deactivated in the sand and their keyblade vehicles disappeared.

They could hear waves washing up on a shore and could feel the heat of the sand beneath them. Everyone slowly picked themselves up and took in the surrounding area. They appeared to be on a beach near what looked like a bar of some sort. It had strange writing on it and it wasn't legible to any of them.

Out of nowhere, a bullet grazed Sora's arm and, despite the hit, he turned and summoned his keyblade. Everyone followed suit and found that a group of armored soldiers with rifles had moved toward them and were now pointing their weapons at Sora, Riku, and the ponies.

"By order of PSICOM high command, you are to be purged due to the Pulse Fal'Cie in the city. Stand down and you will not be harmed," ordered the first soldier. After taking a bullet, Sora wasn't in a stand-downish mood. He held firm along with his friends as they summoned their keyblades together. "Then you leave us with no choice," said the now identified PSICOM soldier. "Fire!"


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WARNING. This chapter is horribly written. Like, oh my god, this is quite possibly the second worst thing I have put on this site. I plan on editing it very soon, but for the meantime, please, bear with me and sit through this. It gets much, much better a couple of chapters from now, but for the time being, you've just got to sit through it. Sorry about this. I'll be putting out a blog post letting everyone know when it is done being edited, but until that time, I apologize for what you're about to read.

The PSICOM troops started shooting at Sora and his friends, but their bullets were stopped by Rarity's reflect spell, sending the speeding pieces of metal back at the soldiers and killing them.

"In my defense, oops," said Rarity. Everyone approached the soldiers and checked them over. They were definitely dead, though no one wanted to kill anyone.

"They mentioned something called the purge," said Twilight. "What could that mean?"

"I don't know, but if they're bringing in armed forces, then it must be important," said Riku.

"Why don't we check it out?" suggested Sora. "Who knows. Maybe we'll find the portal to the dark realm in this 'Pulse'."

"It's worth a shot," said Riku. "We'll start by finding out what it is. Everyone, check around the beach, but be careful. No one's outside and the lights to that building we saw are off. Everyone travel in pairs. We'll meet back here in 15 minutes. Okay?" Everyone nodded. "Good."

The people and ponies split into teams of two as decided; Sora and Riku, Twilight and Pinkie, Rainbow and Applejack, and Rarity and Fluttershy. They all split up while Sora and Riku deciding to check the bar-like structure.

When they entered, the chairs and tables were knocked over and bullet holes covered the walls. There were a couple of dead civilians which Sora and Riku avoided. As they made their way through, Sora called out, "Is anyone here? Hello?"

A couple of voices appeared from one of the back store rooms. "Do you think it's them?" asked a male voice.

"I'm not sure," said a female voice. "They don't sound like them, and I can't hear any armor."

"Let's take a look, but don't get spotted," said the male. Sora and Riku looked toward where the voices were coming from to find two people, a man and a woman, exiting a storeroom. They both carried large pistols and were looking around nervously. When they spotted Sora and Riku, they dropped their weapons and cowered in a corner.

"What's going on?" asked Riku.

"Please, don't take us. We're not corrupted!" said the man.

"What do you mean?" asked Sora.

"It's PSICOM," said the woman, realizing that Sora and Riku meant no harm. "They're moving everyone to Pulse because they found a Pulse fal'Cie here in Bodhum."

"Um sorry, but we're not from around here. Could you explain what a fal'Cie is?" asked Sora.

The man sighed in annoyance. "I can't believe this," he said. "The fal'Cie are godlike creatures that provide everything we need for us. They help with government, food supply, just about anything you can imagine. Well, that is, Cocoon fal'Cie. They say Pulse fal'Cie are terrible. They rule Pulse but usually turn humans into l'Cie to do their dirty work. Where have you two been?"

"Oh, away," said Sora nonchalantly. "So what can we do to help?"

"You really think that you stand a chance against the fal'Cie? You two must be crazy," said the women. "*sigh* But if you're bent on ending your lives, you could join the purge voluntarily. Just head to the train station and if PSICOM stops you, let them take you to the station themselves."

"What about you two?" asked Riku.

"We aren't going down to that monster infested rat hole," said the man. "We wanna live our lives without being afraid of monsters chasing us or becoming l'Cie."

"Then there's nothing more we can do," said Riku. "Come on, Sora. Let's regroup." They left the couple to crawl back into the storeroom to hide while they exited through the main entrance. They met up with the ponies who were waiting for them on the beach.

"Sorry guys," said Twilight, "but it looks like no one's here. Did you find anything?"

"Yeah," said Sora. He told them about the world so far and what was going on.

"So if we join this purge thingy, then we can go to Pulse and find this fal'Cie thing?" asked Applejack.

"Yeah. It looks like it's causing everyone trouble. I think we should stop it."

"Guess we'd better find the train station then," said Twilight. Together, the group began their search, checking signs and traveling down a couple of streets. Eventually, they were stopped by PSICOM troops who were cleaning out the area.

"You lot, come 'ere," said one of the troops. "We're takin' you to the train station for the purge."

"Looks like you got us," said Sora. The group moved towards the guards and were led through the paved streets, eventually stopping at a big dome shaped building.

"Go inside there and follow the yellow line on the floor. You'll find a train that you can board to Pulse," said another one of the guards.

"Thanks," said Twilight. "Come on everyone. Let's go." The group did as they were told and followed the yellow line to a train platform. It seemed less crowded, telling that the purge was almost over. The last of the civilians were boarding the train to Pulse.

One person stood out to Sora above the other civilians. She had light pink, straight hair and was wearing some sort of a uniform, though it didn't look at all formal. She had one shoulder plate on her left shoulder and had a sword in a pouch hanging off her lower back.

The woman approached one of the PSICOM guards and, after what looked like a minor argument, she gave her sword to him. Twilight gasped when she saw the sword. "That's a- a- a-"

"Spit it out, Twi," said Rainbow Dash.

"A gunblade," she finished. The woman then passed through a gate and came out of the other side wearing a white robe with blue lines running down its length. The robe also had a hood to hide the wearer's face, though based on her position, Sora knew it was the woman.

A black man with a green coat and afro followed behind her and boarded the same car.

"Why's that important?" asked Sora. "I knew a guy who carried a sword that was also a gun."

"From what I could gather from a book I read, it takes incredible skill to wield one. No one could be that dexterous without extensive training and focus, especially to transform it so quickly."

"So what you're saying is, it's pretty hard?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Yeah," replied Twilight in awe. "Whoever she is, she must be an incredible warrior."

"Well, let's get this over with," said Sora. The group moved as a whole and got into one of the lines. They were inspected by PSICOM troops before being allowed to move onto the gates.

When Sora stepped through, he felt another layer of clothing cover him and found that he was now wearing one of the robes over his normal clothes. He also had handcuffs on that were invisible under the robe's sleeves. "Hey, wait a minute! What's this for?" he said.

"Quiet you!" said one of the guards, aiming his rifle at Sora. He backed off and passed onto the train, soon followed by Riku and the ponies. They took seats altogether on the same side of the train.

When Sora sat down, he realized that he was sitting opposite to the woman with the light pink hair. "I'd move if you value your life," she said in a cold tone. This spooked Sora, but he held his ground.

"And why's that?" he asked back.

"I said be quiet!" said the guard that had threatened him before. It seemed that he had made it onto the train too.

The train soon got moving and departed from the Bodhum station, making its way down a track that was shielded by a glass cover. "You sure about this?" asked the black man who was now sitting next to the pink haired woman.

"Quiet," she said back.

The man hung his head slightly. "Best of luck," he said.

As the train descended into a cavern, what looked like some sort of security checkpoint was rapidly approaching. The barrier that covered the checkpoint turned a deep red, signalling a stop, but the train kept moving and picking up speed.

The train suddenly shook as it impacted the barrier, shattering it and making the guard stumble. The pink haired woman used this moment to jump from her seat, grab the guard by the neck and jump over him, snapping his neck. As she came down, she landed on top of a controller that the guard had been carrying. When the controller broke, the handcuffs on everyone's hands were released. "She did it," said the black man. He threw of his robe like everyone else and Sora, Riku, and the ponies did the same.

The door opened and two guards ran in. The pink haired woman used her robe to stop the bullets and charged toward the soldiers. She brought them down with a swift kick to their faces and picked up a rifle. "Come on," said Sora. "We have to help." The group charged after the pink haired woman and summoned their keyblades. She was already charging through the cars, absolutely destroying the PSICOM forces. She recovered her gun blade from one of the weapon racks and kept moving until she reached the head car. Everyone met up with her while the black man led a group of civilians with guns who joined the group as well.

The train passed into a massive underground cavern with glowing green lights and hundreds of train tracks floating in mid air above a massive chasm. There were also PSICOM vehicles flying around above the tracks. Unfortunately, they looked armed.

The ships began firing on several trains, even destroying a few. When they found the group's train, they started shooting at it like the rest. This time however, the pink haired woman took a rocket launcher from the black man and fired a rocket at an oncoming ship. It exploded and its fireball fell to the bottom of the chasm.

The train kept moving, the other PSICOM fighters discouraged, until a massive snake like robot with saw bladed arms rose from the chasm and landed on the back of the train. It came to a complete stop and the civilians jumped off and ran, followed soon after by Sora and his group, the pink haired woman, and the black man.

The woman climbed to the top of the train. Before the black man could make his way up, Sora stopped him. "Excuse me, but who are you two?" he asked.

"I'm Sazh," said the man. "Her? I don't know. Didn't ask, but she's Guardian Core. A soldier." Sazh then scrambled up to the roof of the train.

Sora, Riku, and the ponies jumped up after him and found themselves face to face with the robot that attacked the train and stopped it. On both of its arms, it had four large saw blades that spun individually or together, depending on the machine's desired attack pattern. It rumbled loudly and swung its arms in a challenging way as if to say, "Come at me."

"And who are you?" asked Riku to the pink haired woman.

"Lightning," she said back quickly. Lightning then drew her gun blade and Sazh drew a pair of pistols. The keyblade warriors summoned their weapons as well and prepared for a fight.

"Let's get it," said Rainbow Dash, determination in her eyes.

Sazh, Pinkie, Rarity, Twilight, and Fluttershy stood back and supported the assault team from far away which consisted of Lightning, Sora, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash. The machine took only a few powerful combined attacks to annoy it. It swung both of its massive arms toward the group which jumped back to dodge.

The machine suddenly jumped back (if it's possible for a machine without legs to jump by using its rockets) and hovered in midair. It stuck its two razor sharp "hands" into the train car and seemed to be stuck.

"Ha! Not so tough now, are ya!" taunted Sazh.

"Don't encourage it," said Sora in annoyance. As if on cue, the machine started to increase its rocket's thrust, trying to pull the train car off of the tracks.

"Whoa, that wasn't like a challenge or anything!" said Sazh. The machine started to pull on the car and rip it apart, carrying the others with it. "Time to go!" he said as he, Lightning, and the keyblade wielders turned to run. The train was quickly coming apart as the machine continued to pull. The group had to jump from car to car to avoid the machine's destructive rampage.

When they finally stopped, they were several cars down and completely out of breath. Lightning seemed to be the only one who was still able to fight. Sazh joined her and together, they brought down the massive machine with a few final shots and strokes of the sword as it landed on the party's new car. When it fell, it fell right off the side of the road that the train car was on. It dropped into the chasm below, hopefully never to be seen again.

Sazh fell backwards and landed on his back. "Whew. We did it," he huffed in exhaustion.

"Yeah," said Twilight.

"Let's do it again!" said Pinkie, now finding energy to bounce around.

"Come on, guys," said Riku. "We've gotta find a way to the fal'Cie."

At hearing this, Sazh shrank back. "What do you want with the fal'Cie?" he asked.

"It sounds like it's been causing a lot of trouble for the people up above," said Sora. "We wanted to help."

Sazh seemed to be deep in thought. "Yeah. To help." There was a small pause before he said, "So soldier, what are doing down here? You're Sanctum aren't you?" as he addressed Lightning.

"I was," she said back. And that was the end of it. Lightning jumped off of the train car and landed on the road that the train had been following.

"What's her problem?" asked Sora.

"I have no idea. Just met her." Sazh noticed Lightning creating distance between her and the group. "Hey! Wait up!"

As Sazh was scrambling off of the top of the train car, Sora stopped him. "We'll cover the aerial defense. You follow Lightning and travel on foot."

"And how are you gonna fly?" asked Sazh. Sora, Riku, and the ponies all activated their armor, then summoned their keyblades and their vehicles. "Oh," said Sazh. He almost looked scared while he looked at the vehicles. He snapped out of it though. "Okay," he said. "Get goin'!"

Sora and Riku flew off in one direction while the ponies flew off in another. Together, they fought off the aerial enemies and defended Lightning and Sazh on the ground. Every now and again, Sora would heal Sazh and Lightning if they began to lose some of their energy.

Eventually, Lightning and Sazh came to an impasse. The bridge had fallen apart and a gaping pit was their only option. Lightning snapped her fingers and a small cloak of electricity covered her. "Whoa, wait! Hold on!" yelled Sazh. He grabbed her as she tried to jump and held her back.

Lightning ran out of energy and touched back down on the bridge. "Crap," she cursed. "Great. Now what do we do?" Sora and Riku pulled up next to them.

"Just hop on here," said Sora as he jumped off of his platform and landed on the bridge. "Go on," he said.

Apprehensively, Lightning jumped onto the platform and was soon joined by Sazh. Slowly, Riku flew off toward the other end of the bridged that was broken off. When they were getting ready to land, the whole cave began to shake.

A hole opened in the ceiling of the cave to reveal a massive cross-shaped structure falling into the cavern. It had massive green wires draping off of it and it was glowing a bright neon green. It was already under attack by the PSICOM aerial troops and their vehicles.

"Is that our target?" asked Riku.

"Yeah," said Lightning. "If you can bring us in close, we can jump and get inside."

"Right," said Riku. He began speeding toward the structure as it slowed its descent into the depths of the cavern.

"Hold up," said Sazh. "You're sayin' we have to jump into that thing?!"

"That's the idea," said Lightning coldy. As soon as they pulled in close, Lightning launched off of the platform and grabbed onto the side of the structure as it shook, coming to a stop. Sazh quickly joined her and they pulled themselves up onto a nearby platform.

"Thanks for your help," shouted Lightning before walking through what looked like a maintenance hatch in the side of the structure. Sazh quickly followed and the hatch closed.

"Everyone, regroup," said Riku over a communications device in his helmet. "Meet at my position. Twilight, can you pick up Sora?"

Static came through the com before Twilight replied. "Yes. I'm on my way to him now." A loud whooshing sound echoed out over the uproar of the guns and vehicles in the cavern as Twilight found Sora and came to a stop. She opened up her barrier of magic and motioned for him to jump on.

"Thanks," he said as he jumped into the magical barrier. He stood next to Twilight and got into his combat stance. His keyblade glowed blue and a third orb of magic began circling Twilight's magic barrier. "I'll help out," he said. As he spoke, ten PSICOM vehicles flew up from under a bridge and charged at Sora and Twilight.

The vehicles suddenly exploded as many magic bolts and lasers lanced through them from above. The rest of the mane six flew down and hovered next to Sora and Twilight. They all nodded to Twilight and together, they flew off to join Riku.


When they arrived, they hovered near the platform that Lightning and Sazh had used and jumped onto it. They deactivated their armor and dismissed their vehicles before opening the maintenance door and walking in.

As they made their way through the hallways of the structure, Sora asked the group, "Hey, how come we haven't run into any heartless yet?"

"Maybe they haven't found this world yet," said Riku.

"That, or they can't find us," said Twilight.

"No that can't be," said Sora. "They hunt keyblade wielders for two major reasons. The first being that if they have a keyblade warrior on their side, then they've got another way to collect hearts and consume them. Also, the heartless fear the keyblade above all else because it can destroy them. That's why they want it gone."

"Then why haven't we seen any if they're hunting us?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"I don't know," said Riku. "But they'll show up eventually. And when they do, we have to be ready."

On cue, the group had to stop as many shadows rose from the ground around them, blocking their path. A second later, they exploded in darkness as many bullets lanced through them. When the darkness cleared, Sora, Riku, and the ponies could see Sazh running towards them, his pistols drawn and smoking. "Hey!" he yelled.

"Sazh!" said Rarity. "Wherever is Lightning?"

"She's up ahead waitin' for me. I got a bad feelin', so I came back to search for you guys. Looks like I was right. Let me tell ya though, she is NOT happy about havin' to wait."

"Then let's hurry up and get back to her," said Rainbow Dash impatiently.

"Right," said everyone else simultaneously. They started charging down the hall of the structure while it seemingly increased in size. As they kept running, Sora asked the question.

"Why do the halls look like they're getting bigger?"

"It's because they are," said Sazh. "This area was designed for larger mechs and other types of fal'Cie troops to leave the station through special docking areas. The halls will return to normal in a few minutes."

"Wait," said Twilight as they continued running. "Does that mean that we could run into one of those creatures?"

"Well, I guess," said Sazh, worry working its way into his voice. "I can't hear anything though, so we should be safe."

The floor of the hallway suddenly shook, opening up a crack in the floor. Out of it poured massive quantities of darkness that pooled together to create a darkside heartless. Everyone stepped back a little as it rose from the ground, its hands dripping with darkness.

"Hold your ground!" yelled Sora as the darkside grew larger and larger. Suddenly, a massive black sword appeared in its hand. It gripped the sword and swung it at the group. Sora knew what was coming. That sword was made of pure darkness, and one swing would be all the ponies would have to take to lose their hearts. Even Sora and Riku wouldn't be able to endure in their current state of ability loss. Though they hadn't lost everything, they had lost enough to effect their endurance and their magic capacity.

As the sword came closer and closer, the group prepared for the end, yet it never came. Sora shut his eyes and held up his keyblade in defense, but when he heard the clank of metal on metal, he didn't feel anything collide with his keyblade. He opened his eyes to get a good look what happened when he saw an equine figure in a brown robe stopping the darkside's sword with a keyblade. Wait. Another keyblade user?!

The figure's keyblade had a navy blue and purple hand guard and blade, with the navy blue being the bottom half of the blade and the purple being the top half. A white crescent moon was the key bit. The handle was white and on one half of the hand guard, several pictures of the moon in its different phases were etched into the metal. The key chain had a crescent moon surround by black metal hanging on it.

The figure shouted in a powerful, female voice, "Go! I shall hold back this monster!" No one moved. "Now!" the figure shouted again, this time using the royal Canterlot voice which Twilight recognized. Before she could ask, Sora had grabbed her by the hoof and was trying to pull her along.

"Come on!" he yelled to Twilight. "We have to go!" Twilight unwillingly went with Sora and the rest of the group, hopping the massive gap that the heartless had created to keep running down the hall.

After running for a few minutes, the hallway ended abruptly at a massive door with the symbol of a Pulse l'Cie. Lightning stood in front of it, striking it over and over with her Blazefire Saber. As she heard the foot/hoof steps behind her, she spun and pointed the now exposed barrel of her gun blade at Sora, Riku, Sazh, and the ponies. "Whoa. Easy there," said Sazh as he held up his hands in surrender.

Lightning lowered her sword as she said, "What are you all doing here?"

"Sazh came back for us," said Pinkie.

"Did he now," said Lightning, shooting a small, barely noticeable glare at the gunman. She then turned and continued to slice at the barrier, but to no avail.

"What are you doing?" asked Sora as the group got closer to the door.

"Trying to bring down the barrier," said Lightning, maintaining her concentration on the door. She stopped and lowered her sword saying, "It's no use."

"Let me try," said Sora. He summoned his keyblade and pointed it at the barrier. From its tip, he fired a beam of light at the door. When it impacted, it spread across the barrier, shimmering slightly before extinguishing and leaving it untouched. Sora sighed as he dismissed his keyblade.

Lightning's face showed that she came up with an idea. "Cover your ears," she ordered. Sora, Riku, and the ponies gave a look of confusion.

Sazh suddenly ran a few yards away saying, "Oh, a blast charge? Hold up, hold up." When he was ducking, he said, "Okay okay, go ahead!" The rest of the group quickly got the message and did the same.

While the group crouched, Lightning put her hand on the door and whispered, "I'm sorry. Please, let me in." After a couple of seconds, the barrier disappeared and the door began to creak and slide open.

Sora opened his eyes to a strange sight. The figure that had protected them from the darkside went spiraling over his head and broke down the now unprotected door. He had been facing away from the door initially, giving him the view he needed. When he turned back down the hall, he could see the darkside, now pulsing with dark energy all over its body and holding a sword three times the width of the one before. It was practically running down the hall after the figure it had sent sailing through the door.

"Lightning, Sazh, go through!" yelled Riku. The group summoned their keyblades and faced the darkside as it got closer and closer, finally stopping when it was 20 yards away. Sazh wasted no time in turning to run, but stopped when he noticed that Lightning wasn't following him. He turned back around and ran toward the group which had been joined by Lightning.

"No chance," she said. "It looks like you'll need all the help you can get."

Sazh ran up next to her. "Oh, I know I'm gonna regret this," he said as he pulled out his pistols. With their team all set, Sora shouldered his weapon and charged forward, followed by Riku, the ponies, Lightning, and Sazh.


Before anyone could unleash an attack, the heartless swung its massive sword across the group, striking all of the ponies and Sazh. Lightning, Riku, and Sora managed to jump to dodge it, but were soon hit by the heartless's back swing which did significantly less damage. They were launched back and landed heavily on the floor of the corridor.

Sora picked himself up and watched in horror as Sazh and the ponies were slowly lifted into the air. Their eyes opened slightly as their chests began to glow a bright yellow and pink. Hearts left their bodies and floated toward the darkside which grabbed them in its black hands and put it in its own chest cavity which, as mentioned before, was a massive heart shaped hole. Sazh's and the ponys' hearts floated in the center of the heart shaped hole and stayed there as their bodies dropped to the floor, motionless.

"NO!" everyone yelled simultaneously.

"Come on," said Lightning as she picked herself up. "We have to focus." She used a Mega-Potion on the group to restore their health before rushing at the darkside, attacking its hands over and over again. Sora and Riku joined in, swinging at different parts of the darkside and getting mixed results.

As the darkside swung again, Riku and Sora cast reflect all at the same time, creating a massive shield that not only caused the sword to bounce off, but reflected all of the damage back at the darkside who was knocked onto its massive back.

The group took this opportunity to jump onto the darkside's body and attack its head relentlessly, dealing great damage to the massive heartless. Meanwhile, Sora jumped off of the darkside into the air and pointed his keyblade at Sazh's and the ponys' trapped hearts. He fired a beam of light at them, releasing them back to their owners who jumped up up at once and continued fighting.

Sazh immediately started firing his machine pistols at the darkside's hand which still held its sword. When one of the bullets struck his wrist, the hand and sword disappeared into darkness all at once. The ponies noticed this and, when they also saw the darkside's weakened state, they all activated their elements of harmony and fired their massive rainbow beam at the heartless. This time, though, the beam came from their keyblades.

When the attack met with the darkside, it began to glow a bright white before disappearing and releasing... a heart? Sora noticed this and when everyone had relaxed, he asked Twilight how she managed to get a heart out of the darkside.


"It must have been the elements of harmony," she said. "They helped defeat Nightmare Moon a few years ago and restore her to Princess Luna. Maybe they found that heart in the darkness."

"But only emblem heartless release hearts when defeated," said Riku. "The others don't."

"Maybe the elements of harmony found the heart in the pure blood's deep darkness," said Fluttershy from the back of the group. Everyone turned towards her in shock because for the most part, she had been quiet for the trip so far.

"Could be," said Sora as he crossed his arms in thought. A slight groan came from the destroyed door where the keyblade wielding figure had landed. "Come on. Let's go see what happened."

As the group approached, the figure held up a hoof (?) and opened a dark portal. Riku looked on in shock as the figure picked itself up and hobbled through the portal. Riku charged after the figure as everyone yelled behind him, "Wait!"

He jumped through the portal and it began to waver. "Wait up!" yelled Rainbow Dash as she flew toward the portal and inside of it, causing it to collapse and shut behind her. Everyone looked at where the portal used to be in shock before Sora spoke up.

"Come on everyone. Let's get moving."

"But Rainbow Dash and Riku are gone," said Twilight, fear lining her voice.

"They'll be fine," said Sora. "Riku was once stuck in the dark realm and he fell to the darkness. But he found his way back. If anyone can protect Rainbow Dash, it's him." Twilight looked at him skeptically before turning back to Lightning and Sazh who would have had their jaws hanging open had they not had more self control.

"So where did those three go?" asked Sazh.

"They went to the realm of darkness. Or at least, they passed through it," said Sora.

"What's that?" asked Lightning.

"No time to explain. You two came here for a reason, right?" asked Sora.

Realization dawned on Lightning's face and she said, "Serah." She suddenly turned and hopped over the wreckage of the door and ran down the hall. Sazh sighed.

"Man, that girl can't sit still," he said as he turned to follow her. Sora and Twilight exchanged a glance before they too started running after Sazh and Lightning.

As they group battled their way through strange creatures and monsters, they eventually reached the center of the structure. There, they were met by a young boy, another girl, and a man in a white coat and a black bandana on his head.

"Snow? What are you doing here?" Lightning said coldly.

"I came to find Serah," said the man in the white coat, now identified as Snow.

"She doesn't need your help."

"She's my bride-to-be. I'm going to find her and protect her."

"I said she doesn't need your help!" yelled Lightning as she swung at Snow, knocking him on his back. He picked himself up and wiped his mouth.

"Please listen to me. You can't shut me out like this."

"You don't deserve it. You don't deserve her, especially after the crap you've pulled." No sound filled the massive room that the group stood in except for that of machinery and far off creatures.

Lightning started walking up another flight of steps, with Snow, the girl, and the boy looking after her. "So who are you three?" asked Twilight. The boy stepped back, not expecting a horse to be talking but stood still again.

"I'm Snow, and this is Vanille," he said as he pointed to the girl, "and Hope," he finished pointing to the boy.

"Hiya," said Vanille cheerfully. Pinkie Pie recognized the cheerfulness in her voice and ran towards her.

"Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie!" she said enthusiastically as she shook the girl's hand. "And that's Twilight, Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Sora," she said as she motioned to her friends.

"Hey," said Hope slowly to the group. Fluttershy walked over to him and timidly held out her hoof. He slowly took it and shook gently.

Fluttershy's eyes softened and she suddenly embraced Hope. "I'm so sorry," she said slowly, looking to be on the edge of tears, but for no apparent reason. Hope returned the gesture after a few seconds and started to cry slowly. When they were done, they separated and rejoined their groups.

"Come on," said Snow. "We'd better catch up to Lightning."

The group started making their way up the steps, but weren't half way up when Lightning called out above, "Serah?" That was all Snow needed to hear before he started sprinting up the steps. When the other people and the ponies got to the top, they found Lightning and Snow talking to another girl with light pink hair, apparently, Serah.

"You made it," said Serah weekly. She fell to the ground and Lightning and Snow rushed to her side.

"Serah, what's wrong?" asked Lightning fearfully.

" us," said Serah. "You can save us. Protect us all. Save Cocoon."

"Save Cocoon. Serah, that was your focus?" asked Lightning.

"Anything. I'll do anything," said Snow quickly. "Leave it to me -- You'll see. I'll protect Cocoon. I'll save everyone!"

"Somehow, I'll make things right," said Lightning. Sora, Hope, Vanille, and the ponies watched what was going on, partially with sympathy and partially with confusion.

"Thank... you," finished Serah. She closed her eyes and began glowing blue while slowly lifting up into the air.

"Serah?" said Snow, fear evident in his voice. "Serah? SERAH!"

After about 30 seconds, Serah had been completely covered in crystal and was now transparent. Snow fell to his knees and Hope spoke up. "So it's true," he said. "When a l'Cie completes their focus, they become crystal and are given eternal life." Lightning shut her eyes for a second before opening them, rage present. She started running up another (and the last) set of stairs and towards a massive, unshielded door. It opened for her and she ran in. The group automatically followed her and entered the massive door.

Inside, they found themselves in a dimly lit hall. They could hear Lightning's footsteps as she continued to run. Together, Sazh, Snow, Vanille, Hope, Sora, and the ponies followed her until they came to another locked door which Lightning was relentlessly attacking. "I got it," said Sora. He held up his keyblade and fired a beam of light at the door, this time dropping the barrier and allowing the group to move through.

When they entered through the door, they found themselves in front of a massive machine-like creature. "There's the fal'Cie," said Sazh in wonder. "Let's end this."

"Right," said Sora as he summoned his keyblade. Sazh, Snow, Vanille, and Lightning were already attacking the creature as it swung at them with two giant, metal, rotating blades that oddly resembled those found in a pencil sharpener. "Come on, everyone."

"Um, are sure that's such a good idea?" asked Fluttershy, shrinking back towards the door. Hope was just returning from trying to run.

"I guess we don't have a choice," he said as he pulled out his airwing. Fluttershy nodded and summoned her keyblade along with everyone else that could wield one.


"Sora, attack the two blades while we focus on its body," said Lightning over the constant sound of metal striking metal.

"Right," said Sora. "Everyone, focus on the blades!" he ordered to his team. Rarity and Fluttershy stood back and supported the team with Cure and Reflect spells, making the damage that the group had sustained zero.

"Ars Arcanum!" yelled Sora. His keyblade glowed yellowish orange and he began relentlessly striking one of the blades, breaking it apart. He quickly jumped to the other one and began swinging at it before the skill wore off.

Finally, the second blade was destroyed and the fal'Cie was beginning to lose its health at a faster rate as everyone in the room began attacking it, chaining together their attacks to bring devastating damage to the god-like creature.

Suddenly, the group was knocked back by one of the blades that Sora thought he had destroyed. It turned out that the blade had regenerated and was now pounding at the downed group, incapacitating Applejack, Fluttershy, Sazh, Vanille, Hope, and even Sora.

Roxas got up out of Sora and summoned the oathkeeper and oblivion keyblades before charging straight at the body of the fal'Cie, dodging the blades with expert precision and being supported by the barely standing Rarity, Snow, and Lightning. Snow and Lightning began focusing their attention on the giant spinning blades while Rarity protected them with Reflect. Roxas, meanwhile, was unleashing wave after wave of different attacks of Sora's such as Ars Arcanum, Strike Raid, Sonic Blade, and Ragnarok. He even managed to execute the Trinity limit(1). Long story short, the damage was immense. Finally, the fal'Cie had had enough. It summoned high powered lasers and fired them at the group, downing Lightning, Snow, and finishing off Rarity. Roxas was now the only one standing, and he didn't plan on wasting a second. He spun his keyblades and slowly brought them closer to each other until they began to grind together, showering the area in sparks. When he stopped spinning the keyblades and the sparks ended, a single keyblade appeared in the air; the Two-Become-One keyblade.

He took it from the air and with it launched a massive beam of light into the fal'Cie. The overload of energy destroyed the lasers and blades permanently, allowing Roxas to finish the fal'Cie off by pounding it over and over with his own limit break, in which his keyblade glows white and when ever he swings, columns of light follow the path of his keyblade to strike far off targets.

When the fal'Cie began to shut down, Roxas cast Curaga on the entire group, resurrecting Sora and causing himself to disappear.


The metal beneath everyone opened and they began to fall. They were suddenly caught by strands of blue energy from the dying fal'Cie. Sora and the ponies watched helplessly as Snow, Lightning, Vanille, Hope, and Sazh began screaming in pain as the fal'Cie imprinted something on their bodies.

Then they were all dropped, free falling to their doom.

When they awoke, they were all lying on some sort of crystal. When they picked themselves up, they looked around to see that the entire area was covered in an ice-like texture. It appeared to be water that had been transformed into crystal. "Lake Bresha," said Sazh slowly in wonder. "It's crystal."

Before the rest of the group could marvel at the scene, a squad of PSICOM soldiers came around the corner. "Survivors!" shouted the leader. "Shoot them!" Bullets flew as Snow ran forward to meet them. When he thought he was going to break one of their noses behind their helmets, he instead unleashed an ice-covered punch that froze all of the soldiers at once.

Snow jumped back and marveled at what had just happened. "You just used magic," said Hope, despair lining his voice. "That was magic. Only l'Cie can use magic like that. You're an enemy of the state!" Snow checked his arm and he found a strange tattoo on it. It was the mark of a Pulse l'Cie. He took a step back, almost as if he was afraid of his arm.

The rest of the group started checking over themselves. Sure enough, everyone had been marked a l'Cie. That is, everyone except for Sora and the ponies.

"Why aren't you l'Cie?" asked Sazh to Sora and the ponies.

"Maybe it's the world. Maybe because we're outsiders, the rules are different," said Twilight.

"Yeah. Just like in Port Royal," said Sora, checking himself over.

"Port Royal?" asked Vanille, confused.

"Oh, it's nothing," said Sora with a barely noticeable wink to Twilight.

"So what should we do now?" asked Pinkie.

"Well, we still haven't found the keyhole," said Sora, thinking to himself. "Our keyblades haven't reacted. Let me try something." Sora summoned his keyblade and began focusing his light into it, urging it to branch out. Finally, he felt his light bounce back at him, acting like a sonar. "There," he said, pointing to the next hill. "The keyhole must have been under the lake."

Together, the l'Cie and the group made their way over the crystal waves and found themselves in a small crystal clearing. Sora held up his keyblade and a keyhole appeared in the side of one of the crystal waves. Sora jumped back a foot, twirled his keyblade and pointed it at the hole. He fired a beam of light into the hole and a loud click resounded throughout the crystal lake.

Sora turned to Lightning and her team. "Well, we'd better get going."

"Goin' where?" asked Sazh.

"To another mrmphpmpr-" said Pinkie as Twilight covered her mouth.

"Can't say," said Twilight. "But we'll come back."

"Okay," said Vanille. "I guess we'll see you then," she finished with a smile which Pinkie heartily returned.

"Goodbye," said Sora as he turned away. He started walking and the ponies followed close behind, ready to activate their armor and fly off.

Sora decided to fly with Twilight again as his main mode of transportation was off in Faust knows where.

Once in space, the group continued flying, searching for anymore worlds that could possibly house a portal to the dark realm. They also had a new goal. Hunt down Riku and Rainbow Dash.

Eventually, they came to another world. One that was heartwarmingly familiar.


View Online

Riku woke up on hot sand. He quickly picked himself up and brushed off before looking around for Rainbow Dash. The pegasus was stuck in the sand, half of her body beneath the golden dunes. Riku jogged over to her and tugged on her hoof to get her out, sand shifting around them.

As Rainbow Dash brushed off, she asked, "Where are we?"

"I'm not sure," said Riku, looking around. All he could see for miles around was sand and a cloudless, blue sky. The sun was beating down on the sand, making it extremely hot to the point where Rainbow Dash preferred to hover instead of stand. "I guess we should just head in one direction until we find civilization."

With that, Riku activated his keyblade armor and summoned his vehicle. He jumped on and began flying off, followed by Rainbow Dash.

It was late at night and freezing when a landmark appeared. It was something that was easily recognizable to Riku; the Cave of Wonders in Agrabah.


Author's Note: It is very important to know that Agrabah (with the exception of the cave of wonders) follows the look and layout of the first game, not the second.

The entrance was a massive lion's head that opened its mouth to allow entrance to the cave via its 'throat'. Riku landed and deactivated his armor as Rainbow Dash touched down. The sand had cooled by now, so she wouldn't get burned.

"What is this place?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"The Cave of Wonders," said Riku. "We're in a world called Agrabah. I came here once when I was being tricked by Malificient." Riku's voice turned to one of regret. "She tricked me into gathering the seven princesses of pure light. At least, the ones that she hadn't already obtained."

Rainbow Dash looked at Riku with a slight amount of fear before dismissing it and saying, "Aw, forget what happened in the past. Live in the now. Come on. Maybe you'll recognize someone that can help us."

"Yeah," said Riku, coming out of his trance-like state. "Let's head inside. But remember, don't touch anything. The slightest disturbance to the treasure inside will cause the entire cave to collapse on us." Rainbow Dash nodded and the two hopped into the lion's mouth.

Inside, the two warriors of light had to shield their eyes until they were used to the intense gleam of the cave's treasures. Gold was piled in every corner and many different golden plates, pots, pans, and other house hold items were strewn about. Thousands of multicolored jewels were mixed in with the gold that continued through the halls of the cave and the massive rooms connected to them.

"Remember, don't touch anything," said Riku. "No matter how tempting it might be, we can't risk it." Rainbow Dash gulped and nodded before slowly proceeding with Riku.

As they made their way through the extensive halls of the cave, each lined with torches and more gold, they began to hear noises farther in. "Stop, Rainbow. Do you hear that?" asked Riku. It sounded like someone going through the treasure farther down the hall.

"Yeah," the cyan pegasus replied. "But if someone disturbs the treasure, won't the cave collapse?!"

"Now, I'm not so sure," said Riku. If that were the case, then the cave would've come down already. "Come on. Let's check it out."

Riku and Rainbow Dash began running down the hall trying to get to the source of the noise. Finally, they arrived at a massive treasure room. It was easily 300 yards to the center of the room from the edge and columns were positioned on the edges to provide support for the high roof along with arches nearby. Evenly spaced along the walls were four platforms, each with a small treasure chest on them. Above each treasure chest, an arch with a different colored gem was present; one red, one blue, one yellow, and one green.

"So where did that noise come from?" asked Rainbow Dash as she looked on at the amazing, though lifeless, room.

"I don't know," he said. "Come on. Let's take a look around." Riku and Rainbow Dash proceeded to split up and check every wall in the room, hoping to find something out of place such as an odd brick or an arch that looked more like a doorway. Riku managed to find one such brick.

"Rainbow Dash, over here," he said, motioning for her to come to him. She flew across the room and landed next to him to examine the wall. Sure enough, a brick was sticking out about a centimeter from the wall. Riku wouldn't have noticed it had it not been for the heartless symbol engraved in the sandstone.

"Isn't that the mark that's on the heartless?" asked Rainbow Dash as she stared at the symbol.

"Yeah. But what's it doing here?"

Rainbow Dash kept thinking until she got an idea. "Step back," she said. After Riku moved, Rainbow stepped up to the brick and pushed it in with her hoof. It clicked into place and the wall began to shudder. A rectangular section of bricks suddenly retracted into the wall and then sunk into the floor, revealing a secret passageway lined with torches.

Riku marveled at the discovery. "Rainbow Dash, where did you learn to do that?" he asked.

"Read it in the third 'Daring Do' book," she said proudly.

"Well I'll be..."

"What?" asked Rainbow as she focused on Riku again.

"Nothing. I just never took you to be the reading type," he admitted.

Rainbow blushed a little bit as she said, "Look, the only books I read are the Daring Do books. Just don't mention it to anyone else, okay?"

"My lips are sealed," chuckled Riku as he turned his attention back to the opening.

Riku and Rainbow Dash started walking down the secret passage and decided to talk to pass the time. "So, Riku," began Rainbow Dash, "what happened to you before with that 'Maleficent person you mentioned? You know, if it's okay to ask."

"It's fine," said Riku. "It's a long story, but I guess we've got a while."

"It used to be just Sora, Kairi and I, along with a few other friends, on our island. It was great. Everyday, we'd spend our time out on the beach. Sora and I were always fighting over Kairi." He chuckled to himself. "One day, we decided to get off of the island. We wanted out. We wanted to see other worlds."

"We decided to build a raft to sail off of the island with. Of course, we didn't know that we couldn't reach other worlds that way. We were young and naive. We succeeded though, and we built the best raft we could."

"But the night before we were going to leave, a storm struck the island. I left my house to check on the raft and when I showed up on the island, it was covered in heartless. I made my way to one of the smaller islands nearby where I found a portal of darkness. I wasn't scared. I was willing to do anything to see other worlds, and I was beginning to question our use of a raft."

"Right after I discovered the portal, Sora showed up and I asked him and Kairi to come with me. Kairi wasn't with him, but I was willing to bet that she would make it. She's strong like that."

"Anyway, when the darkness surrounded me, I let it take me, but Sora couldn't reach me. We got separated, and I woke up in Hollow Bastion."

"Hollow Bastion," said Rainbow Dash. "Never heard of it."

"That's not surprising. The worlds used to be separated by impassible walls. That is, until the heartless came and destroyed them."

"Back to the story. When I woke, I was greeted by a woman named Maleficent. She told me about the heartless and other worlds, and promised to help me. She also told me where I might find Kairi."

"And that was?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Traverse Town," said Riku. "When I arrived, I ran into Sora. He had his keyblade and was with two others; Donald and Goofy. He told me of how he had searched for Kairi and I, but when I was going to join him, Maleficent pulled me aside and tricked me into thinking that Sora had just replaced Kairi and I with his two new friends. I was stupid and fell for it."

"She took me back to Hallow Bastion and told me about the seven princesses of light. She said she had already found five of them and asked me to get the other two. In return, she would have the heartless locate Kairi. I was desperate to find her, so I fell for it."

Rainbow Dash was starting to question her trust of Riku. But she kept listening through the story.

"After I got the two princesses, I ran into Sora again in the body of a giant whale named Monstro. That's when Sora stopped trusting me." Rainbow Dash turned away and hung her head, thinking about what could've happened between the best of friends to split them so suddenly. She soon got her answer.

"When Maleficent located Kairi, she had lost her heart and I had no idea how to help. Then, she mentioned a puppet who had one. She said I should check it out and see if I could discover a way to recover Kairi's heart. So when I arrived, I started playing with the puppet, trying to find a way to unlock the secrets of his heart. Unfortunately, he lost it to the heartless. I thought that maybe if I brought him back to Maleficent, she could help and maybe do some tests on him. He recovered it though on his own shortly after, so I left the whale and traveled back to Hallow Bastion."

"I was then offered a ride on Captain Hook's pirate ship to help me find a way to help Kairi. I decided that Sora didn't really care about Kairi, so I vowed to keep her from him. He eventually arrived on the ship and he defeated the Captain. I left with Kairi back to Hallow Bastion, where Maleficent gave me the power to control the heartless. It was then that I started slipping, falling gradually into the darkness and losing my heart."

"Naturally, Sora arrived at the castle, and I managed to take the keyblade from him. He got it back though, and I fought him, only to lose. When I got back to the castle chapel, the disembodied heart of Xehanort tricked me and seized my heart. I couldn't find the light, but when I came to, I could see what was happening, but I had no control. He was using my body. I managed to hold him back long enough for Sora, Donald, Goofy and Kairi to escape, but then, I blacked out. I woke up later in the realm of darkness and King Mickey found me."

"And that's what happened. For the past few years, I've been working hard to defeat the darkness in my heart, and I finally won." There was a slight pause as Riku and Rainbow Dash kept walking. "I bet you think I'm a terrible person now, right?"

"What? No way!" said Rainbow. "Just because you made some mistakes doesn't mean you're a bad person. Besides, you said Maleficent tricked you, so it's all good."

Riku smiled. "Thanks Rainbow Dash."

"Don't mention it," said the cyan Pegasus nonchalantly.

As the two neared what seemed to be the end of the passage, they began to hear running water. When they got to the end, Rainbow Dash pushed in another brick, this time with the symbol of a Nightmare, though she didn't recognize it as such.

When she did, the passage began to shake uncontrollably as the wall opened and revealed a massive hallway. This time though, pieces of the roof began to fall, blocking off Riku and Rainbow's exit. The shaking wouldn't stop.

"Um, Rainbow Dash," began Riku, "what did that book say came next?"

"Running! Lots of running!" she yelled back frantically. The two began running down the newly opened hall, not looking back as they fled for their lives.

Finally, the path looked like it was ending into a bright room. Water was now running around the two as the passage continued to collapse. By the time they reached the end, the water was waist high to Riku and up to Rainbow's neck.

The passage ended in a massive drop to a pool down below, and Riku jumped while Rainbow Dash flew.

When the passage had finished collapsing, Riku was already surfacing in the pool below. Rainbow Dash flew down to a small patch of 'land' where Riku pulled himself out. They now had a chance to look around the massive room.

The room had several waterfalls coming from carved slots in the walls that all fed down to the pool that Riku had fallen into. The patch of land was actually a section of sandstone brick that had been made into a platform. In the center, a small building with a concrete door prevented access, and the room was lit by hundreds of torches and the light reflecting off of more golden artifacts. Some were underwater, giving the blue liquid a gold tint, while others were piled next to the structure.

"Wow," said Rainbow Dash, realizing that she was now living her own Daring Do adventure. "This is amazing!"

"Yeah. But where did that noise come from? I mean, if they came through here, then they would have activated the trap and we'd have been buried," said Riku.

"True. Let's take another look around," suggested Rainbow.

"Right, but watch out for heartless," said Riku.

The two split up again, running into a few heartless but ultimately handling them with ease. They mostly consisted of darkballs and shadows, with the occasional large body, but it was nothing the two keyblade warriors couldn't handle.

Eventually, Riku began to hear some more shifting sounds of near the structure and made his way there to find a man in white shorts, a purple vest, and a fez. The man turned around, startled at first, but then sighed in relief. "You must be Riku," he said. "Name's Aladdin. You're Sora's friend, right?"

"Uh, yeah," said Riku back uneasily. "But how did you know who I was?"

"You don't look like you're from Agrabah," he answered. "Sora asked me to keep an eye out for you the last time we met, but he never told me what you looked like. I guess I got it right though."

"So what are you doing here, Riku?" asked Aladin.

"I got separated from Sora when I followed- Oh! Have you seen a horse in a brown cloak, possibly carrying a keyblade?"

"Horse with a keyblade? Are you okay Riku..." His voice trailed off as he saw Rainbow Dash come hovering around the corner.

"Riku, no sign of anyone. Oh! So that must be the guy who was messing with the treasure," said Rainbow Dash. She walked up to Aladdin and held out her hoof. "Hi. I'm Rainbow Dash. Nice to meet-" She would have continued had Aladdin not passed out from the shock of seeing a horse talk, let alone a Pegasus. "-you," she finished. "Um, Riku? Is he gonna be okay?"

"Yeah. He'll be fine. Let's get him out of the cave though," said Riku.

Slowly but surely, Rainbow Dash and Riku, who got stuck carrying Aladdin, started working their way through some of the other accessible areas in the cave of wonders until they started traveling upwards instead of straight. They began climbing different flights of stairs and other inclines until they came back to the chamber that had led them to discover the secret passage.

From there, they followed their trail back to the entrance. Outside, Riku and Rainbow Dash found Aladdin's flying carpet, eagerly awaiting its master's return. Riku set Aladdin down on the carpet and said, "Alright. Now we just need to get back to Agrabah."

"Is it far?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"It'll be about ten miles, but it shouldn't take that long to reach."

"Okay. I'm just gonna use my keyblade glider to reach the city," she said. Riku hopped onto the magic carpet to make sure that Aladdin wouldn't fall off, then he and Rainbow Dash flew off towards Agrabah, led by the magic carpet.

After arriving in the city itself, Riku took Aladdin back to his house followed close behind by Rainbow Dash who was acting as an escort, ready to defend Riku and Aladdin should the heartless attack. Riku set him down on the steps and then moved to the massive hole in the wall that would lead to the street below.

"So what should we do?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Well," began Riku, "we need to find our way back to Sora and the others. He'll know what to do. He always does," he finished with a chuckle.

"How are we gonna find them again?"

"Maybe we can try exploring the worlds ourselves. Besides, that hooded pony... Who was it?" asked Riku, more to himself than to Rainbow Dash.

"Let's figure it out together," said Rainbow, now approaching Riku. She held out her hoof. "As soon as this guy wakes up, we'll go."

Riku took Rainbow Dash's hoof in a shake. "Yeah," he said. At that moment, the 'street rat' began to stir.

"What'd I miss?" asked the now waking Aladdin. He then took notice of Rainbow Dash for the second time. He reflexively backed up and reached for his sword. "What the heck is that?!" he asked Riku in a panic.

"Calm down," Riku ordered, and Aladdin obeyed. "This is Rainbow Dash. She's from another world like Sora and I. If he happens to stop by, let him know I was here, okay?"

Aladdin put down his sword and looked at Riku. "I'm still not so sure about this 'Rainbow Dash', but yeah, I'll tell him. Hey, have you guys seen Genie recently? He hasn't been around Agrabah lately."

"Who's Genie?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"He used to be trapped in a magic lamp until Aladdin found him," said Riku. "He set Genie free and ever since, he's been helping Sora in his journey, occasionally returning back here."

"Oh, then no," said Rainbow Dash to Aladdin. "We haven't run into him. We'll keep an eye out though."

"Thanks," said Aladdin. "Hey, back in the Cave of Wonders, you asked me if I had seen a horse with a keyblade. Before Rainbow Dash came around the corner, I was going to tell you, apart from asking if you were crazy, that I had seen a horse-like figure in the cave. I didn't see any keyblade, but the horse was walking around, poking at the walls and examining some of the treasure. It confused me, but it wasn't a heartless, so I left it alone."

"Did it leave?" asked Riku quickly.

"Well, sort of. It opened up a dark portal and stepped through. I've got no idea where it went though. It just kind of disappeared."

Riku sighed in defeat. "Okay, thanks," he said to Aladdin. "Rainbow Dash, let's go."

"Right," answered the mare. Together, the two activated their keyblade armor and jumped out of the hole in Aladdin's wall, only to fly straight up on their keyblade gliders, opening a portal to leave Agrabah and flying through it. When the portal closed, Aladdin smiled at the thought of seeing Sora again.

Out in space, Riku and Rainbow Dash started flying in a random direction, unsure where to go to find the others. They eventually started coming up on another world. Riku's face darkened slightly under his helmet. "Hollow Bastion," he whispered over the com.

Traverse Town part 1

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When Sora and the ponies disembarked and entered through Traverse Town's massive First District doors, they found the area to be completely void of life. The nearby restaurant had no customers, and not even the candles at the tables were lit. Huey, Dewey, and Louie's shop had a closed sign on it, and the Accessory Shop lights were out. Even Gepetto's gummi ship workshop had its windows boarded up.

"This place is an absolute ghost town," said Rarity, stepping forward to stand next to Sora. "What could have happened here?"

"I'm not sure," said Sora. "This used to be a great world. Everything was good here, but now it all looks deserted."

Across the way, in the Accessory Shop window, Applejack noticed a slight disturbance. It took her a second to make it out, but it appeared to be a man beckoning the group to the shop. "Uh, Sora?" asked Applejack. "Who's that in the window?"

It took Sora a second to recognize the face, but he eventually made it out. "Cid," he said. "Come on everyone. Let's hurry." Sora ran forward and was soon followed by the ponies to the Accessory Shop where the door opened to allow entry.

Once inside, the door shut behind them and the lights turned on to reveal Cid, Leon, Yuffie, Aerith, and Tifa(1). "Sora?" asked Leon. "What are you doing here? I thought you were going to fight Xehanort."

"I did, but I couldn't beat him," said Sora in regret.

"So that's why all the heartless are stronger," said Cid. "They've been attackin' everyone left an' right ever since that big one showed up."

"How big?" asked Twilight.

"Very," said Cid. "It showed up in the Second District up on the Gizmo Shop, and it hasn't left since."

"We've been working hard to determine what caused it to show up, but so far, we've got nothing," said Aerith.

"Tifa, Leon and I have been fighting the heartless in the streets," said Yuffie. "It's a good thing you showed up, Sora. By the way, who are your friends?"

"Oh, right. This is Twilight, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie," said Sora, motioning to each of them as he introduced them.

"Hiya!" said Pinkie in her normal enthusiastic voice.

"Hey, Tifa?" asked Sora. "Any sign of Cloud?"

Just then, the door opened to reveal the aforementioned swordsman standing with his sword hooked to his back. "Sora?" he said, slightly in surprise.

"Cloud!" he said back. "Did you beat Sephiroth?"

Cloud hung his head. "No. I lost him when we teleported in Hollow Bastion. I was searching for him, but I gave it up and decided that the next time I saw him, I wouldn't let the fight drag out. Cid found me on another world and brought me here, so here I am. What about you? Did you find your friends?"

"Yeah, but I kind of lost them again," said Sora, scratching the back of his head while he spoke. "I just can't keep track of 'em."

"Is that so?" said Cloud sarcastically. "So I take it you're here to help us with the heartless problem?"

"Sure," he said back. "What do you say guys? You think we can stick around to help?" he asked the ponies.

"I don't see why not," said Twilight.

"Yeah. It sounds like you'll need all the help you can get," said Applejack to Cid.

"I guess. Well, that is, if it's alright with you," said Fluttershy quietly.

"Let's do it!" yelled Pinkie.

"Then let's go and be done with it," said Rarity. She turned for the door when Sora stopped her.

"Hold on, Rarity," he said. "I need to talk with Cid for a second." Sora then turned to the gummi engineer. "I think I know why the heartless have been more active." Sora went on to explain what happened with Xehanort and fill in the rest of the group as to what happened in Equestria.

"So there's a whole world of these ponies out there?" asked Cid, almost in disbelief. "Humph, now I've seen everything."

"And what in the hay that supposed to mean?" asked Applejack, stretching her neck out and raising an eyebrow (2).

"Nothin'," said Cid dismissively. "So Sora, what's yer plan?"

"Well, I've got none really. I guess we should just head over to the Second District and fight it. Unless there's a way to weaken it first," said Sora. He crossed his arms and lowered his head in thought.

"There might be a way," said Leon. "When it appeared, these balls of darkness started showing up on the walls and streets. They're big blobs of the stuff, and I bet that's where the heartless is getting most of its power. If you destroy those, it should weaken the heartless in the town and the big one all at once, not to mention slowing down the flow of darkness through the town."

"That makes sense," said Twilight, now deep in thought herself. "Cid, can I see a map of the town?" Cid proceeded to give Twilight a simple map which detailed the outline of the four districts and the paths that connected them. "Let's split up. Applejack, you lead Rarity and Pinkie Pie into the Fourth District and the Fountain Plaza. Sora and Fluttershy, we'll take the Third District and that hut out in the cave. Leon, Cloud, and Yuffie, you guys handle the Gizmo Shop's heartless, but don't go to the roof. We'll need everyone's help to beat it. Aerith, Cid, and Tifa, head to the Second District and destroy the balls of darkness there, if any. If not, head to the alleyways that connect the Fountain Plaza to the First District. There might not be as many heartless there, but the more we defeat, the better. If that heartless decides to attack you, though, leave as soon as possible. Sound good?"

The gang responded with a simultaneous nod.

"Good luck," said Cid as he, Aerith, and Tifa left through the front doors.

"See ya'll back here," said Applejack, leading her team out the doors and to the Fourth District.

"See you soon," said Sora as he led Twilight and Fluttershy out into the First District. As he started descending the steps in front of the Accessory shop, Leon came out of the doors and stopped him.

"Sora, be careful. The heartless are much stronger now than they've ever been," he said.

"Thanks, Leon," said Sora back.

"Also, the moogles in the top of the Accessory shop are back in business. I suggest you stop by and synthesize a few things before moving on. They might come in handy," said Leon. He then handed Sora a bag of synthesis items and went back inside, no doubt to prepare his team.

"Maybe we should take a look," said Twilight. "If we had more equipment, we might stand a better chance of beating the heartless."

"Okay," agreed Sora. "Then let's go." Together, Sora, Twilight, and Fluttershy walked up the stairs wrapping around the Accessory shop until they reached its back entrance. When they stepped inside, they were greeted by a moogle.

"Hey, Kupo," it said to everyone. "We'll be happy to assist you on your journey. Just talk to the moogle by the fireplace to get started."

Sora walked over to the fireplace and spoke to the moogle standing there while Twilight and Fluttershy marveled at the creatures in the room. They watched Sora hand the moogle a bag of items and then take another bag from it. He then returned.

"Hey guys, I got us some items," he said. He handed Twilight an Angel Bangle, Fluttershy a Mage Armlet, and for himself, another Angel Bangle. With the stat boosts that came with the accessories (stamina and magic power increases), he and his team were now powered up and ready to keep moving. "Just one more minute," he said. He then ran back to the moogle and synthesized a set of elixirs. He passed them out to the ponies and held a few for himself. "If you get stuck, don't hesitate to use them."

"What do they do?" asked Twilight as she swirled the golden liquid around inside the container.

"They'll instantly heal you like a Cure spell and they'll give you more energy to cast magic. They've helped me through some of my toughest challenges in the past, and they could help us even more on our journey."

"Okay," said Twilight as she accepted his answer. She made a mental note to test it as soon as she needed it. With that, the group made their way back into the open space of the First District. They advanced to the Third District doors and pushed them open, moving into the small area on the other side.

The Third District hadn't changed much. It was still an open area with lamp posts near the walls and a fountain in the back right corner that depicted Lady and the Tramp. The back left corner led to a door with a glowing fire emblem on it and to the party's immediate left was a staircase that led up to another set of doors leading to the Second District. Though, to say it hadn't changed at all would be a lie.

Several shadow orbs clung to the walls and one orb with tentacles seemingly made of darkness blocked the flame door. There were also a few shadow heartless crawling around in the floors.

"Come on," said Twilight in determination. "Let's waste 'em."

Sora was a little shocked to hear Twilight say 'waste them', but he went with it, nodding his head and saying, "Right." Together, the group summoned their keyblades and then lept forward, drawing the attention of the shadows. When they decided to surface, Sora and the ponies were already prepared to strike them down. One by one, the shadows fell with flashes of blades and strikes of magic. The group's defenses were impenetrable. Each member covered the other, creating a perfect defense. By mid-fight, the group stood back to back to form a triangular defense pattern.

When most of the shadows had been defeated, they backed off and melted into the ground, disappearing completely. Fluttershy relaxed, closed her eyes for a second and said, "Oh, thank goodness." It was a huge mistake to say the least.

The oversized shield of a defender slammed into her, cloaking her in darkness and sending her over Twilight and Sora's heads to crash into the fountain, denting the golden artwork and twisting the metal. When Sora saw Fluttershy's impact, his heart sank.

He turned on his heel and pointed his keyblade at the defender heartless, shouting, "Graviga!" The defender instantly compressed into a paper thin, cardboard cutout before dissolving into darkness, leaving its shield behind in a large, green chest. Sora turned again to find Twilight had left him and was already near the ruined fountain and Fluttershy.

Sora quickly rushed over to his fallen friend and watched Twilight begin to panic. "No..." he said quietly. Fluttershy had been covered in so much darkness that it had distorted the metal to form a cage of gold around her limp form. Twilight had no idea how to get her out. Sora thought fast and called out, "Fire!", launching a ball of superheated magic at the metal, dissolving it instantly.(3) He rushed forward and scooped up Fluttershy in his arms, who winced as he set her down.

Twilight rushed to her side. "Fluttershy? Fluttershy, speak to me," she said, fear deeply seated in her voice.

She opened her eyes ever so slightly that only a slit of bluish green could be seen. "Twilight?" she said slowly and weakly. Her breathing had become shallow and slower.

"What's wrong? Are you okay?" asked Twilight, now frantic.

Fluttershy summoned her keyblade from its position next to the broken fountain into her hoof. She held it up and whispered, "Seal." The end of the keyblade released a stream of blue magic that found its way directly to Fluttershy's heart. She suddenly dropped the keyblade as her foreleg went limp and she fell unconscious. When her keyblade struck the ground, the flowers wilted and the vines turned a dark brown. It splintered and shattered into several pieces before disappearing into pure light.

"Fluttershy?" said Twilight with tears in her eyes. "Fluttershy? Fluttershy!" she yelled out as she shook her friend in a desperate attempt to wake her up, unfortunately getting the attention of the heartless. As they appeared through the darkness, Twilight continued to sit by her fallen friend, her body refusing to move. All sound became slurred and everything but Fluttershy's limp body in her hooves became blurry. She began to hear a voice calling out to her through the haze, and she did her best to focus on it.

"Twilight!" shouted Sora, desperate to get her attention. When Twilight turned her head, her eyes still wet, Sora kept talking. "Get her back to the Accessory Shop! I'll hold off the heartless!" When Twilight didn't move, Sora shouted, "Go!"

Twilight finally snapped out of it and picked Fluttershy up, putting her on her back and running towards the doors, pushing them open with her magic and proceeding back to the First District.

Sora, meanwhile, prepared himself for the massive horde of heartless that stood in front of him, ranging from shadows to large bodies to dark balls to air soldiers. He quickly thought about the technique that Fluttershy had used. She'd said "Seal" before she passed out. Sora guessed that she had sealed her heart like a keyhole, but he couldn't understand how she knew it. He had never learned or even heard of a technique like that, but he made a mental note to get back to it.

He instantly cast Reflect and watched as the heartless piled on his shield which he fought hard to maintain. After a few moments of standstill, the heartless were flung off of the barrier, most exploding on contact with the District's walls. Those that survived rushed back in, only to be met by several Thunder strikes. Few survived the lightning, so Sora ignored them and moved right onto the balls of darkness that still hung on the walls and in front of the fire door. He blasted them over and over again with Gravity spells and his homing Blizzard spells in an effort to quickly end them, but to no avail. He eventually destroyed several of them, but not before taking heavy damage from the balls' own defenses of Fire and arcing Thunder.

The heartless that he had left alive were also giving him trouble. While trying to destroy the balls of darkness, he was forced to guard or reflect the attacks of a few large bodies and dark balls. It was tough, but he managed to fight back the heartless and destroy most of the balls. Finally, the only ball of darkness that remained was that in front of the fire door. It began to glow with a fierce darkness, completely smothering the door behind it and creating more dark tentacles.

It was almost as if it knew the other balls had been destroyed and it was trying to make up for their lost power. Sora noticed this and opted for a new strategy. He held out his keyblade at the final dark ball, reaching deep inside his heart, and shouted, "Light!" From his keyblade, a light which burned with excellent brilliance arced towards the shadowy ball to pierce it like a massive needle. Darkness spread from the wound in the ball until it had deflated to half its size.

At that point, it took action. The massive tentacles that still stuck from the smaller dark ball suddenly lashed out, striking Sora before he had time to block. They left a bruise that would surface the next day across his chest in the shape of an X. Sora was knocked back hard and crashed into the far wall near the stairs that led to the Second District's entrance.

He looked up to see the ball had regained its size and was now putting out more darkness. Sora stood up slowly. He let his rage build as he thought about Fluttershy. The excellent pony he had come to love over time. Her timid voice and her rare instances of speech were one of the sweetest things about her. Sora wasn't ready to give her up. Not now, not ever. He would never give up his friends without a fight(4).

Sora cast Aero on himself before charging forward, casting Thunder all the way. As he ran forward, the Aero spell protected him from the fireballs while the Thunder spells he continued to cast destroyed the tentacles that were again lashing out at him.

Finally, he reached the dark ball and shoved his keyblade through its surface. He watched a light begin to grow in the deep darkness before seeping through the ball's surface to cause an explosion of light that bathed the entire district in warmth. When it cleared, Sora dismissed his keyblade and ran back towards the doors to the First District at breakneck speed.


As Twilight broke into the First District in a run, she started thinking about all the times she had spent with her shy friend. Could she really be gone just like that...?

No. No, that was impossible. She couldn't lose an Element of Harmony. Her friend. She was too important, both to Equestria and especially to Twilight and her friends.

As Twilight tried to make sense of the situation, she arrived at the Accessory Shop doors. They were locked, as to be expected. No heartless should get inside since it was Traverse Town's temporary place of safety.

Twilight set down Fluttershy and summoned her keyblade. She didn't do the logical thing; no, she was in no state to think logically. Instead, she started beating at the door with her keyblade in an attempt to break it open. Over and over she pounded the door, slowly but powerfully. Finally, she struck the door hard enough to break the lock and burst her way in, keyblade at the ready.

Inside, she was met with the shocked faces of the Traverse Town crew. She could even see her friends there, but something was wrong. They weren't moving.

"Twilight?" asked Leon curiously. She ignored him and turned around to pick up Fluttershy. She brought her unconscious friend inside and set her down next to the fireplace, leaning her up against the red brick. "What happened?" Twilight didn't say a word. She looked around at her friends that were leaned against the walls. Each one of them had scratches and bruises, and their chests were barely moving as they appeared to be struggling for breath.

"What happened to all of them?" asked Twilight coldly.

"We found them like this," said Leon. "We barely managed to clear the Second District of those orbs, so we decided to check how everyone else was doing. Since we had as much trouble as we did, we couldn't be sure if anyone else would need help. When we found the other groups though, they were like this. Unconscious and beaten."

Twilight moved to inspect each of her friends. Pinkie Pie's mane had deflated and Rarity's was a mess. Applejack had several long scratches down her side and, of course, Fluttershy wasn't moving. She didn't appear to have any sort of visible problems, though Twilight could feel the darkness around her heart.

Twilight backed up from Fluttershy and walked towards the door. "Twilight?" asked Aerith slowly. "Where are you going?" Twilight didn't answer as she left the Accessory Shop and shut the doors behind her. When she stepped out into the night air of Traverse Town's First District, she ran into Sora.

"Oh, Twilight," said Sora in surprise. "Is Fluttershy okay?" Twilight didn't respond. She shook her head no and ran off for the Second District, tears beginning to run down her face. Sora chose to enter the Accessory Shop instead of chase after her. She could handle herself against the garden variety heartless, right?

When Sora stepped into the shop, he ran into Aerith on her way out. "Where are you going?" he asked her, but she didn't respond either. He took a look around the shop and noticed the ponies propped against the walls. "What happened to them?" he asked Leon. Leon then told him of finding each of them and the struggle with the orbs.

Sora checked them over and came to the same conclusions as Twilight; they were all in terrible shape. Fluttershy seemed to be the worst off though. The darkness clouded her heart, making it almost impossible to reach. Almost. "Guys, I'm going away for a while," said Sora to the Traverse Town crew.

"What do you mean?" asked Yuffie.

"I took the mark of mastery exam with Riku a while back, and we learned a trick to let us dive into the dreams of sleeping worlds and hearts. I'm going to try to save Fluttershy. She was smart and sealed her heart away from the darkness with her keyblade. I'm going to unlock her heart and fight off the darkness."

"That's crazy!" said Leon. "If you're not careful, you could lose your heart!"

"Trust me," said Sora, putting on a cheesy smile. He summoned his keyblade and held it out towards Fluttershy's heart. He charged it with light and a portal appeared next to the yellow pegasus. "Protect everyone while I'm gone, okay?" he said to the group. They looked unsure, but they eventually nodded their heads. With that, Sora walked towards the portal, put his hand into it, and turned into small pieces of light that found their way into the portal.


Sora started falling right off the bat. No, he wasn't falling. He was diving. Diving into Fluttershy's heart to save her from the darkness that tried to swallow her.

As he flew, he encountered aerial nightmares that attempted to stop him and halt his fall. He quickly dealt with them by diving faster into them, either knocking them out of the sky or destroying them then and there. When Sora thought he had avoided all of the nightmares, he pulled his arms closer to his body and fell faster and faster until he began to slow and eventually come to an automatic stop over a stained glass window platform.

The stained glass depicted Fluttershy sleeping and holding her keyblade in her hoof, if that was at all possible for an animal with no opposable thumbs. Except, her keyblade was wilted and brown like it had been after Sora had freed her from the fountain and she was loosely wrapped in thick vines that were covered in long, sharp thorns. She seemed to be leaning against the edge of the platform, much like Ventus was in his heart. Near her head, a grouping of pictures in circular frames showed a butterfly, her pet rabbit Angel, a pink flower, and a broad leafed tree.

Sora touched down lightly on the edge of the platform and looked out over its surface. There didn't seem to be any heartless, and it looked peaceful overall. He took a few steps forward and soon found himself in the center of the platform. He stopped when he heard a voice.

"Sora?" asked the timid and soft voice of Fluttershy from behind him. He turned to see the pegasus standing by herself where Sora had landed.

"Fluttershy!" yelled Sora, pleasantly surprised. He broke into a run to reach Fluttershy, but when he got close, his joyful expression left his face. Fluttershy was definitely there and it was definitely her, but she was transparent. He could see that she wasn't physically effecting her environment. When Sora reached out to try and touch her, his hand passed through her cheek, leaving no mark but attracting the pegasus's attention.

"Sora, what's happening?" she asked, a slight hint of fear in her voice.

Sora hung his head, suddenly depressed. "You're fading away," he said. "That heartless did something to your heart, and now your seal is breaking. You've managed to hold on this long, but as soon as that seal is broken, the darkness will be able to reach your heart and you''ll..." Sora couldn't bring himself to finish his sentence. He felt close to tears when he felt a hoof touch his shoulder. He looked up to see Fluttershy had fully materialized.

"No," she said as she smiled at Sora. "I won't give up. I can't afford to. My friends need me."

"But, your heart... It's already fading," said Sora. He turned around to see that part of the platform had eroded away, leaving it without the four pictures next to Fluttershy's head.

"I'm not ready to go yet," she said, now filled with determination. She backed away slightly from Sora, being careful not to fall off the edge, and she held out her hoof. In a large flash of light, her keyblade appeared in it. Though, it wasn't the same. It had the same general look of the vines forming the blades and with pink flowers blooming on the ends, but it was bigger than before. The flowers were larger and there were more vines. They appeared to be thicker, and overall, the keyblade had increased 10% in size.

"Fluttershy, this is amazing," said Sora. He turned back around to see the platform gradually rebuilding itself. His hope that his friend would survive was beginning to strengthen.

A thin line of white light suddenly appeared across the platform, cutting it perfectly in two. The whole platform shook as the two pieces split apart, leaving a wide chasm in the middle. Fluttershy suddenly fell on her knees and dropped her keyblade. She began gasping for breath before finally regaining control. She stood up slowly and picked up her keyblade, shouldering it and looking at the destruction that had just racked her heart.

She and Sora now stood on one half of her heart. The other was about thirty yards away, but it was still standing.

Out of the chasm floated a figure in a black cloak. The figure had two large, red eyes and it had purple and pink designs on the end of its arms. "The Nightmare," said Sora to himself. Fluttershy managed to hear it.

"The what?" she asked, afraid again.

"The Nightmare. It haunted me in my dreams as Riku and I took our Mark of Mastery exam. But Riku destroyed it and saved me. What's it doing here?" The Nightmare summoned its dark sword and held it at its side. It then summoned a second sword, much larger than the last, in its free hand. This sword was very similar to Xehanort's keyblade, though it was dark purple and didn't have the same strength of darkness.

The Nightmare suddenly rushed forward, gliding over the air toward Sora and Fluttershy. Sora summoned his keyblade and guarded the Nightmare's attack, allowing Fluttershy to strike at it while Sora kept its swords occupied. Fluttershy landed a clean strike against the Nightmare, knocking it back through the air. As soon as it reached the chasm in Fluttershy's heart, it fell in.

"Come on, Fluttershy," said Sora. "We have to stop it."

"Are you sure?" asked the pegasus as she shook in fear. "Can't we just leave it alone?"

"If we leave it in your heart, you won't recover. We have to destroy it now before it's too late! Now come on." Sora ran toward the chasm and jumped straight in, going for a headfirst dive. Instead of diving, he fell flat on his face on the wall of the chasm.

"Are you okay?" asked Fluttershy as she peered over the chasm.

"I'm fine," he grunted in pain as he cast a Cure spell on himself. "Be careful. The gravity changes when you get here." To Fluttershy, he appeared to be standing on the wall. She quickly put together how it worked and took a few steps off of her platform, immediately stepping onto the wall.

As Fluttershy joined Sora further down the wall, they could see the Nightmare hovering even further down. "Ready?" asked Sora with a confident smile.

"Yes. I mean, if you are," she said sheepishly.


The Nightmare started by melting into the ground like a shadow. Though, black on black made it impossible for Sora and Fluttershy to see it. "Aero," said Sora as he cast it on Fluttershy and himself. He cast it was just in time. The Nightmare came up under Fluttershy and struck her with both of its swords. She was knocked into the air and couldn't correct herself. Had it not been for the Aero spell, she would have gone down then and there. While she was suspended, the Nightmare teleported away and summoned a red pillar of darkness under her. The darkness struck her repeatedly in the air, making her scream in pain before knocking her out cold. She dropped to the surface of her own heart, not moving.

Sora looked out toward the Nightmare as it attempted the same attack on him. He dodged rolled out of the way in time and countered with a homing Fire spell that struck the Nightmare in its chest. It was stunned for a moment, giving Sora a chance to Strike Raid it a couple of times before it regained its balance and tried a different attack.

It summoned a pool of red darkness under Sora which quickly covered him, beating him harshly and leaving him out of breath on the ground. He cast Cure on himself and then looked up to see the Nightmare running at him, both of its swords pulsing with red darkness.

Sora could barely guard its attacks in time. He quickly lifted his keyblade to guard the first couple of strikes, then jumped back and into the air to guard the rest.

As the heartless knocked him higher and higher, he began to build up energy in his keyblade. When the Nightmare lost its ability to keep flying to attack Sora, it began to fall back down to the ground, giving Sora the chance to counter while it was in midair. As the Nightmare fell, Sora pointed his keyblade at it and unleashed a blast of light from the end, creating a beam that lanced through the Nightmare. When it struck the ground, it simply melted into it instead of taking damage from the fall.

Before Sora could touch down, he was met with the same pillar of red darkness that had caught Fluttershy. He held on as he was attacked from every direction at once by the darkness.

When it stopped, he found himself on the brink of passing out. He quickly used one of the elixirs he had created earlier to heal himself as he continued to search for the Nightmare. It was nowhere in sight.

Sora quickly gathered that it was behind him when he felt the Nightmare's swords continuously strike his back. He was pushed forward by each blow until he could no longer stand. At that point, the Nightmare knocked him into the air, teleported above him, then slammed him down hard into the ground.

All of the air left Sora's body as he lay there, motionless. He was still conscious, but he couldn't find the strength to move. As he shut his eyes, preparing for the end, he suddenly felt a warmth reach his heart.

He was filled with energy and he jumped high into the air in one fluid motion of moving into a crouch and then a jump. In mid air, he dove down on top of the Nightmare and struck it into the ground with his keyblade. It stopped moving momentarily, allowing Sora to focus on the source of the power. He soon found it. The power was coming from Fluttershy.

When Sora looked over to her, she was standing again, even though she had to lean on her keyblade for support. She glowed with a green aura that was also surrounding Sora. She suddenly disappeared and before Sora knew it, he was surrounded by a hexagonal barrier and hovering in place. He knew what was going on, but he was mainly curious to know what he would look like and what new power would be granted.

When the barrier exploded away from him, he touched back down on the ground. When he looked at his clothes, they had turned a bright green with brown accents. His keyblade had also changed. He was now holding Fluttershy's keyblade. A voice seemed to whisper in his head, "Gaia Form."

The voice continued to speak, explaining the workings of the new drive form. "This form revolves around supportive skills and earth based magic, a skill you have yet to master. For now, you may only use Earth magic while in this form."

"Great. So now I'm getting advice from voices in my head," said Sora to himself.

"Here it comes!" warned Fluttershy frantically, getting Sora's attention from inside his heart. Sora took notice of the Nightmare now charging toward him, both swords yet again covered with a fierce darkness.

Sora reacted quickly by casting Aero on himself followed by a dodge roll to the right and a counter attack. He landed a solid blow to the Nightmare, knocking it back a little. Sora then decided to give the new Earth magic a try.

He started to focus his energy into his keyblade until he felt it had built to a good level. When it was ready, he stuck Fluttershy's keyblade into the ground and called out, "Quake!" Where the Nightmare stood, a pillar of rock and dirt erupted from beneath it to impale the dark creature. It stopped for a moment, frozen in mid air. Then, it slowly dissolved into darkness and fell apart, disappearing from Fluttershy's heart.


Fluttershy and Sora separated, leaving them both out of energy. The inner surface of Fluttershy's heart began to shake as the two pieces started to move closer and closer together. "Come on, Fluttershy! Run!" yelled Sora. They immediately started running for the top of Fluttershy's heart where the stained glass was. As they ran, the gravity seemed to change back to normal ever so slightly until Fluttershy had to fly and Sora was only still running up the 'wall' because of his inertia.

When Fluttershy reached the top, she couldn't see Sora anywhere. She looked down into the now rapidly closing crack to see Sora hanging onto his keyblade that was stuck into the 'wall'. "Sora!" she yelled down to him.

As Sora hung on for dear life, the rumbling of the moving 'wall' behind him began to grow louder and louder until it drowned out all other sound. He had to act fast or he'd be trapped in the depths of Fluttershy's heart, unable to escape.

Thinking quickly, he shifted his hands until he hung onto the blade of his keyblade. He then began swinging back and forth, building up speed until he managed to swing straight up in the air into a handstand. At this point, he let go and flipped in mid air so that he was standing on his keyblade that still stuck into the 'wall'. He crouched low and, at the last minute, launched off of his keyblade up through the remains of the chasm and high into the air above. He watched from the air as Fluttershy's heart sealed and he began to fall back down again.

Sora touched down lightly on the surface of Fluttershy's heart once again. He was soon met by a hug from the yellow pegasus who was greatly worried about him. Not sure how to react, he simply waited for Fluttershy to stop before taking a natural step back. "Are you okay?" asked Fluttershy.

"I'm good," he said back. "How about you?"

"I'm okay," she said in response. She looked around at the black, shadowy expanse that surrounded her heart. "How do we get out of here?" she asked worriedly.

In response, Sora turned away from her and summoned his keyblade. He then used it to open up a portal back to the real world. "All you have to do is wake up," he said. "I'll be using this portal to get back. See you topside," he said with a smile.

"Okay," said Fluttershy calmly. "See you there." She shut her eyes and before she knew it...


Fluttershy woke up leaning against the brick fireplace in the Accessory Shop. She had no idea how she had gotten there from the Third District, but it didn't matter. She could see Leon, Yuffie, Cloud, Tifa, Cid, Aerith, and all of her Ponyville friends nearby. They were all out cold, but they were alive, all except Twilight who was nowhere in sight.

Fluttershy finally noticed Sora who was face down on the Shop's floor. He stood up and was greeted by the FF crew. Fluttershy stood up and walked over to her friends. She summoned her keyblade and said "Curaga" out loud. Multiple flowers bloomed over her friends heads, covering them with healing energy that soon had them standing up again as well.

"Thank you, Fluttershy," said Rarity. "Where's Twilight?"

"I'm not sure," said Fluttershy. "I just woke up. The last thing I remember was being in the Third District when a heartless attacked me."

"A heartless?!" yelled Applejack. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine now, thanks to Sora," she said. The keyblade master was busy talking to Leon about the state of the other districts.

"We got beaten badly," said Leon. "Some new type of dark balls are outputting large amounts of darkness. We can't handle them on our own."

"Well then what should we do?" asked Sora, going deep into thought.

"I got it," said Leon after a minute's thought. "Your keyblades are full of light, a property that our weapons don't have. What if all six of you worked together to attack them with light? That might be enough to bring them down."

"Maybe," said Sora. He thought back to the Third District and its powerful dark ball. He had pumped it full of light until it exploded. If he could amplify that power with the other five ponies that were in the town, he could form a powerful attack that could wipe out any heartless, big or small.

"Sounds like might work," said Sora. He turned towards the ponies who were listening to Fluttershy's tale of the battle for her heart. "Everyone, come here. I've got a plan."

Traverse Town part 2

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Twilight ran for the Second District doors as tears blurred her vision. She couldn't believe Fluttershy was gone. It couldn't be. It just wasn't fair!

She opened the double doors with her magic and ran into the neighboring district, already feeling the darkness from the heartless on top of the Gizmo Shop. She wiped her eyes clear and looked at the roof of the shop, noticing a massive black object moving around.

It didn't look anything like a normal heartless from where Twilight was standing. It looked more like a big black snake with no head sliding in and out of knots made from its own body as it twisted and slithered by itself. But no matter. Twilight was here for revenge. Though she knew it wasn't right, she did her best to find some righteousness in it. She had to for the sake of her sanity.

Twilight began walking toward the doors to the Gizmo Shop, slowly at first but eventually breaking into a run. She reached the Gizmo Shop doors in ten seconds and quickly pushed them open with her magic before charging in and making her way to the next door which led back out into the Second Distric. By this time, she could feel the intense darkness from above at her very core, and just the existance of it made her sick.

As she reached the other door, she noticed the door hadn't slammed behind her yet. She stopped with her hoof on the doors as she heard her name being called out. "Twilight, stop!" called out a female voice. Twilight spun around and waited for the source to come into sight. She soon found herself looking at Aerith standing in front of her a few meters away.

"What are you doing here?" asked Twilight coldly.

"I came to talk to you and stop you before you did anything you'd regret," said Aerith back.

"I don't need talking to and I won't regret what I'm about to do to that heartless," challenged Twilight. "Stay out of my business!"

"I can't do that, Twilight," said Aerith with compassion in her voice. "We're all here to help you. We're here for you."

"Please. That's the most cliched line I've ever heard. I don't need any sort of consoling, especially from you."

"Then don't take it from me," said Aerith. "Take it from Sora. He's not going to give up on saving Fluttershy, and he certainly won't try to take revenge on the heartless. Even when he thought his friend Goofy had died and he took action against the heartless, it wasn't about revenge. Not really. It was about protecting others so that they wouldn't share the same fate. Are you really the type of person to take revenge?"

"I-," said Twilight after a few seconds, immediately feeling defeated.

"Then don't become that person," said Aerith, now walking towards Twilight. "Be better than that." Aerith put her hand on Twilight's shoulder to comfort her.

Twilight immediately fell to her knees and started crying again. Her wails were agonizing, but Aerith didn't mind. As long as Twilight could work it out, that was all that mattered. "But Fluttershy could be dead because of me!" she managed through sobs. "I couldn't protect her from the heartless, and now, she might lose her heart!"

"Like I said, Sora won't give up on her. I'm sure he's got something up his sleeve to save her. Now come on. We need to get back to the Accessory Shop. That heartless won't let us go without a fight now that we're this close, and we need to be extremely careful." She helped Twilight up and they slowly moved back to the first set of doors. "Summon your keyblade, and if it attacks, just run. Don't try to fight it. I can hold it off for a few minutes."

"Okay," said Twilight back. She summoned her keyblade and held it up. "Ready."

"Okay, here goes," said Aerith. She pushed open the doors and ran out of them, sprinting to get back to the First District with Twilight close behind. They didn't take more than ten steps before they felt a heavy darkness bearing down on them. They both stopped and turned around, looking up at the Gizmo Shop roof. They couldn't believe what they saw.

Tons of shadow heartless were raining down from the roof, all flying toward them. Twilight quickly held up her keyblade to guard, but saw all of the heartless stop in mid-air about a yard away from her and Aerith. When Twilight looked over to Aerith, she saw her holding her hand up and projecting a green shield. "Didn't I say to run if the heartless attacked?" asked Aerith, breaking her usual soft tone. "Go!"

Twilight hesitated, but turned around regardless. She bolted for the First District doors and arrived at them when she heard what sounded like glass shattering. Twilight quickly spun around and looked back at the Gizmo Shop. She turned just in time to see Aerith's shield break before she was covered in shadows. "Aerith!" yelled Twilight, trying to get her attention.

It was no use. Aerith was already too deep in shadows to hear anything from the outside world. Twilight immediately began casting Fire at the ball of darkness where Aerith used to be, striking it multiple times and destroying several heartless, but not trimming the crowd enough. The heartless just kept coming, piling higher and higher until the front doors of the Gizmo Shop were out of sight as well.

Twilight, against her will, turned back around and ran back for the First District and the Accessory Shop. When she pushed her way through the First District doors, she could see shadows and soldier heartless beginning to form near the doors to the moogles' shop.

Twilight ran right past them and jumped down the ledge that led to the left side of the Accessory Shop(1). She took the small alley way as a shortcut to come back around to the front where she pushed the doors open. There, she found Sora and all of her friends regrouping. Even Fluttershy was standing again. "Fluttershy?" managed Twilight, unwilling to believe her eyes.

"Oh, hi Twilight," said her yellow pegasus friend. "We have a way to fight the heartless now. We can beat them."

Twilight slowly started walking toward Fluttershy, unsure if her friend was really there. She was glad when she confirmed it by putting her hoof on Fluttershy's shoulder. "You're okay," said Twilight. She then embraced Fluttershy in a hug, too happy for words. "I'm so glad you're alright."

"There, there," said Fluttershy. She slowly pushed Twilight off of her. "Of course I'm okay. Why wouldn't I be?"

"You were attacked by that heartless and I thought it had finished you. How'd you survive?" asked Twilight.

"Sora saved me," she said. Fluttershy then recounted the tale of her rescue, though she left out the part about merging with Sora to make a new drive form. She didn't quite understand it herself, so she didn't want to make any assumptions.

"He's good," said Twilight, incredibly grateful to Sora.

"How you doing, Twilight?" said Sora from across the room.

Twilight turned toward him. "I'm okay now," she said. She suddenly remembered what happened in the Second District. For a moment, she was surprised she had forgotten. "Oh no. Aerith is still in the Second District," she yelled. "We have to go and help her!"

"Aerith?" said Cloud, suddenly straightening after leaning against the wall. He pulled his sword off of his back and charged through the front doors and around the corner of the Accessory Shop without another word.

"Cloud, wait!" yelled Leon as he ran after him. Yuffie, Tifa, and Cid hurried after them, leaving the shop to follow Leon and Cloud.

"Let's go," said Sora to the ponies. They had had a great reunion, but it was time to get to work.

Together, the six friends ran out of the Accessory Shop and around the corner, all sprinting to get to the Second District in time. When they arrived at the doors, they had already been broken open by a large sword, no doubt the crushing swing of Cloud's buster sword. Ignoring that, they ran through the door to the Second District where they found Cloud, Leon, Cid, Tifa, and Yuffie all striking at the mass of shadows that were still in front of the Gizmo Shop.

Sora and the ponies summoned their keyblades and prepared to assist their friends when three more hordes of heartless erupted from the roof of the Shop, flying at the team with incredible speed. Sora and Rarity immediately set up Reflect spells to guard against the darkness, giving Applejack and Twilight a chance to fire spells at the heartless through the shield. Meanwhile, Pinkie Pie used her incredible teleporting skills to miraculously appear near the Traverse Town crew and strike a mighty blow to the heartless horde.

Those heartless that were still attacking Aerith suddenly exploded away and disappeared, leaving her limp form on the ground in front of the Gizmo Shop doors. After a second of pause to confirm the all clear (at least within a few feet), Cloud and Tifa rushed forward to help Aerith. They picked her up and with the assistance of the others, began making their way back to the First District's doors where Sora and the others were still pinned down.

Sora and Rarity's Reflect spell was beginning to fade, forcing Twilight to add her magic to the mix to support them. Just in time, Leon, Cid, and Yuffie's combined attacks struck the attacking heartless and forced them to retreat, allowing Rarity and Sora to drop their shield.

Sora, Rarity, and Twilight dropped to the ground in exhaustion as Fluttershy began healing them with her Cure and Cura spells. Before long, they were ready to move again and they began heading back toward the First District.

Cloud and Tifa then took Aerith back to the Accessory Shop where they were soon joined by the rest of the crew, including Sora and the ponies after their rushed recovery. After setting Aerith down on a couch in the corner by the fireplace, Cloud turned back toward the door, preparing to leave.

"Where are you going?" asked Leon in a monotone.

"Where do you think?" responded Cloud.

"Back to the Second District to fight the heartless," said Leon flatly.

"Cloud, don't go yet," spoke Twilight. "That heartless is too powerful for us. Besides, Aerith told me not to focus on revenge." Twilight approached Cloud while she continued. "I would've been killed had it not been for her. She not only set my mind right again, but she protected me when the heartless attacked. I want to fight that thing just as much as you do, but none of us can do it alone."

"Then what do you suggest we do?" asked Cloud, beginning to worry.

"Fluttershy told me that you guys had found a way for us to fight the heartless. A way to get past the heavy darkness from it. Let's practice it and learn to use it effectively, whatever it is. Then we'll confront it," finished Twilight.

Sighing in annoyance, Cloud gave in and finally said, "Okay. But you'd better hurry. That thing needs to be destroyed."

"Let's head outside and practice a little bit," said Sora. "The First District should be fine." Together, Sora and the ponies made their way outside where they summoned their keyblades.

"So what was the tactic that you guys came up with?" asked Twilight.

"Well, right now it's just a concept," said Sora. "The plan is to unite all of our power together to create a burst of light. That might damage the heartless enough for us to get in close. That, or at least it should stun it long enough for us to come up with something else."

"So how do you 'spose we do that?" asked Applejack as she hung her keyblade over her shoulder.

"We need to practice manifesting our light. Master Yen Sid was going to tell us about it before we left to face Xehanort, but we ran out of time and had to leave before he could finish," said Sora. "We could try contacting him and getting his help."

"Great," said Twilight. "So where is he?"

"Well, he was in a world known as Twilight Town the last time we were there," said Sora. "If he isn't there now, then we're stuck."

"Is there a way to check before we go there?" asked Fluttershy.

"Not that I know of," said Sora. "We just have to hope that he's there."

"Then let's get going," said Rarity. "The sooner we develop this new technique, the sooner we can deal with that abomination."

"Right," said Sora. "Let's go then." Sora then left the ponies and ran back into the Accessory Shop. He returned after a minute or so. "The others said that they can hold down the fort until we get back."

"Alright!" yelled Pinkie excitedly. "Let's go!"

Mysterious Tower (Twilight Town)

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As the group landed from they're keyblade gliders and deposited themselves on the grass outside of Yen Sid's tower, Sora began to feel uneasy. "Do you feel that?" he said to the others.

"Yeah," said Twilight. "That darkness... what's it from?"

"I'm not sure," said Sora as he crossed his arms in thought. "There have been heartless in and around the tower before, but I don't think that's what's causing it. This doesn't feel like a heartless."

"Well then what do ya suppose it is?" asked Applejack.

Sora sat in thought for a few moments before coming up with an answer. "I have no idea," he said. "I guess we'll just have to take a look." He walked up the stairs to the massive double doors and approached them, slowly pushing them open. "Be careful though. Whatever's in there feels powerful."

Sora took the lead as he and the ponies began climbing the first flight of stairs. At the top, there shined a white and green portal. "It's safe," he said to the others. "Just step right through." Sora then stepped into the green light and disappeared. After a few seconds, Twilight cautiously approached it. She was just about to take a step through when Sora's hand reached back through the portal. "You coming?" came his voice through the light. His hand disappeared back through and everyone slowly filed into the portal.

Twilight stepped out of the green light and saw that she and the others were now standing on another staircase. This one led straight up to a door with a strange yellow and orange glow behind it.

The group proceeded up to the door and Sora opened it, revealing a circular room on the other side. Everyone filed in and Sora shut the door behind them. When they were about half way through the room, both of the doors hissed as they were covered from top to bottom with a pink shield. "Oh no. Not again," said Sora. He summoned his keyblade and turned to the others. "Get ready!" he commanded.

Before the ponies could react, soldier heartless began showing up. The ponies quickly summoned their keyblades and got to work.

They made quick work of the few soldiers that were there. Applejack even managed to counter one of their cyclone attacks with lightning speed. That time spent catching the falling apples from her trees proved useful as it had sharpened her reflexes.

After the short battle, Sora approached her. "Applejack, how did you do that?" he asked after witnessing her counter.

"It was like second nature," she responded. "Ah saw an opening and took it. Nothin' more to it."

Sora took notice of that. It seemed that the others were beginning to adopt some of his skills such as his way of countering different attacks and even how he cast some of his magic.

"Let's keep moving," spoke Twilight from the next door. She had opened it with her magic and was getting ready to walk through.

"Right," said Sora, still thinking about how the ponies were developing the skills that he himself used.

As they moved up the tower, fighting heartless and advancing through a couple of new rooms in between, Sora kept thinking about how his skills were being mimicked. It felt strange to see others using his tactics. He certainly remembered the feeling from after fighting with Roxas in the world that never was. Somehow, Roxas had countered every one of his attacks like he knew them by heart. If a situation ever arose where he'd have to fight Twilight or any of the others, it would be a terrible weakness to him.

Eventually, the party arrived at the last door, one with a crescent moon carved into it. "Here it is," said Sora. "Let's hope he's here."

Sora pushed open the door and took a couple of steps into the room. He suddenly shut his eyes as a glaring light filled the small circular area, blinding them all. Sora summoned his keyblade and quickly cast the Reflect spell to ward off any oncoming attacks. Thankfully, nothing came.

As Sora and the others regained their sight, Sora dropped his shield and found Yen Sid sitting at his desk, a candle burning next to a few documents and old scrolls.

"Master Yen Sid, it's good to see you here," said Sora. As soon as the ponies were in the room, they bowed to Yen Sid. Sora looked at them quizzically before getting a glare from Twilight who was kneeling on his right. Her eyes almost screamed, 'Show some respect!'

Yen Sid motioned to the others to stand. "I still sense Xehanort's presence in the dark realm," he boomed in his deep voice. "Where are the others?"

Sora hung his head slightly. "They were captured by Xehanort," he said. "I've been traveling the worlds with these guys trying to find an entrance, but so far we've found nothing."

Yen Sid took more notice of the five ponies next to Sora. "And who might they be?" he asked.

One by one, each of the ponies stepped forward to introduce themselves, giving their names and Elements of Harmony.

"My name is Twilight Sparkle, and I represent the element of magic."

"Ah'm Applejack, the element of honesty."

"High, I'm Fluttershy. I'm the element of kindness."

"Hi! My name's Pinkie Pie, and I'm the element of laughter."

"And I'm Rarity, the element of generosity."

Yen Sid stared at the five ponies for a minute before relaxing in his chair. "You're the students of Princess Celestia if I'm not mistaken," he said.

"Why, yes," said Twilight, a little shocked. "How did you know?"

"I once fought alongside her when I wielded the keyblade long ago. She and several others held off the heartless long enough for my comrades and I to escape during one of the battles in what is now known as the Keyblade Graveyard."

"Wow," said Twilight, interested to know more about some of Celestia's old exploits.

"Unfortunately, we must save that story for another time," said Yen Sid, straightening in his chair once again. "Sora, the matter of your trapped friends is a grave one. Who exactly is still being held in Xehanort's grasp?"

"Terra, Ventus, Aqua, Mickey, Axe- I mean, Lea, and..." Sora trailed off, not wanting to finish his sentence.

"Who?" asked Yen Sid, trying to get Sora to answer.

"Kairi," he finally said. "He's got Kairi as well." Sora hung his head again, ashamed that he'd let her get captured and even more ashamed that he couldn't beat Xehanort.

"Kairi?" asked Yen Sid. "What is her role in all of this?"

"She can wield the keyblade, and she's one of the Princesses of Heart. She's a pure light that can be used to make the X-Blade." said Sora.

"Hmm," said Yen Sid as he leaned back into his chair, pondering what to do about the situation. He knew that if things became too personal, then Sora may lose focus of stopping Xehanort in his efforts to rescue Kairi. At the same time, Sora was one of the pieces of light that had to confront Xehanort to forge the X-Blade. "Where is Riku?"

"We don't know," said Twilight, suddenly speaking up. "We lost track of him during an attack by the heartless. He and our other friend, Rainbow Dash. She represents the element of loyalty. Without her, we can't use the Elements of Harmony."

Yen Sid continued to ponder the situation. "How do these Elements of Harmony work?" he said. This took Sora aback because, when it came to factual information, Yen Sid seemed to know it all.

"To be honest, we're not too sure ourselves," said Twilight. "Something just sort of clicks and, if we have to, we can summon a powerful light that destroys darkness. We can only use it when we're together though. It's also limited by how much we're in sync. A while back, when an old enemy of the Princess by the name of Discord resurfaced, the Elements wouldn't work because he'd corrupted our hearts. But when we found our light again and broke through his curse, we defeated him."

"If it wouldn't have been for Twilight's memory spell, then we'd all still be corrupted and Ponyville would still be in chaos," said Fluttershy.

Yen Sid narrowed his eyes at Twilight, deep in thought yet again (as if he ever wasn't). Twilight caught that and shifted her eyes trying to dispel the uncomfortable feeling he was giving her. "Sora," he spoke, still staring at Twilight. "I need to have a word with you in private. The rest of you, leave this room through the door on my left. There, you'll find three good fairies. You'll need more suitable attire for your coming journeys."

The ponies nodded to him and proceeded through the door into the next room.

Sora still hung his head in shame before Yen Sid snapped him out of it. "Sora, wake up!" he shouted. Sora snapped to attention in a second. "You're letting darkness into your heart through your hopelessness. Do not fall prey to the darkness the same way that Riku did."

"Riku? What do you know about that? You weren't even there," retorted Sora.

"The king kept in contact with me. I know what really happened, and we don't need another warrior of light following that dark path again."

"How did he really become like Xehanort's heartless then?" asked Sora.

"No doubt he told you already of his battle with Roxas."

"Of course he did. But what else is there to tell?"

Yen Sid stood up and began walking around the table. "He didn't trust what light was left in his heart to help him prevail, so he instead turned to the darkness of Xehanort's heartless to aid him. He lost hope and let the darkness take him. He was lucky to revert to his former self, but no one will get that chance again." Yen Sid was now standing in front of Sora.

"Sora," he continued, "don't lose hope like your friend once did. Not just for your sake, but for your new friends. You are their mentor, and what will they think if their teacher loses hope in times of hardship?"

Sora thought for a second on what Yen Sid had said. If the ponies lost hope, then they may lose the power of the Elements of Harmony. He realized that he'd have to be there to help them and guide them as Mickey and Yen Sid continued to do for him.

Yen Sid caught the look of understanding in Sora's eyes. "Exactly," he said, correctly guessing what Sora was thinking. He then moved back to his chair and sat down in it. "While I'd like for you to rest here before you proceed, you must depart as soon as you're ready. Xehanort is an inventive man, and he won't let the lack of one of his vessels stop his creation of the X-Blade. He'll find another way if he fails to capture you or Riku."

"Right," said Sora.

"Before your friends return, I must ask you about Twilight Sparkle," said Yen Sid.

"Really?" asked Sora. "What about her?"

"She has an unnatural gift that I wish many keyblade wielders would still have, though few remain in the first place. She has the ability to cleanse a heart of darkness."

"What?!" said Sora. "But how does that work if everyone is supposed to have darkness in their heart?"

"I don't mean it literally for the most part. She can not simply walk up to a corrupted soul and return his light to him. No, she shares this connection only with her friends. No doubt you've already sensed the strong light of her heart?"

"Only a few times," said Sora. "She attempted to connect with me during her dive to the heart, which she shared with Fluttershy somehow. I don't know enough about it to understand how it works though. Celestia tried to explain it to me, but it went right over my head."

"I see," he said back. "What happened to you when you both connected?"

"I got some sort of incredible power boost, but it was gone shortly after I got it. Any idea on what it was?"

"It is likely the essence of Twilight's heart that came into sync with yours. Be cautious, but you might want to try merging with her again. Now that she's had more experience, she may be able to help you unlock one of your hidden abilities," said Yen Sid.

"A hidden ability?" asked Sora.

"Precisely. We have very little understanding of a heart, but I've personally seen evidence of abilities that keyblade wielders have sealed deep within their hearts. Mickey had one such ability, one that allowed him to traverse the Dark Realm to search for its keyblade, though he never belonged there. They're acquired through a variety of methods, but the most common that has come to my attention is the merging of two strong hearts. Unfortunately, this can end in two ways. Either a new ability is unlocked, or both of the users lose their hearts."

"It is no doubt a risky process, but you've seen the benefits of it before using your various combat forms. After extended use, you developed various abilities such as the ability to glide, the ability to slide across the ground effortlessly, and even the ability to jump again in mid air. However, you've also lost your heart multiple times through this process. Every time that you've entered the ghastly 'Antiform', a piece of your heart has been corrupted. You haven't noticed it and it hasn't effected you yet, but when the time comes for that darkness to awaken, you may not be safe, nor those around you." Sora nervously gulped as he continued to listen.

"But back to the topic of hidden abilities. Twilight's was gained either through that first connection with you or from her previous experiences with the Elements of Harmony. Doubtless she's experienced it before gaining her keyblade."

"I don't know about that," said Sora. "I don't know much about her past or about the history of Equestria. Your guess is as good as mine."

"This is no guess. Celestia told me of Twilight's encounter with the spirit of chaos, Discord, and how she managed to clear her friend's hearts of turmoil. Her simple memory spell would not have been enough. It was due to her strong heart and will to help her friends that she could return them to normal and use the Elements of Harmony again." The sound of voices suddenly echoed from the other side of the door that the ponies had left through. The voices were getting closer by the second. "We will finish discussing this at a later time," said Yen Sid. "It seems that your friends have finished."

The aforementioned doors suddenly swung open to reveal the five ponies that had left. "Whoa!" exclaimed Sora as he stared at them.

Each of the ponies had been outfitted with clothes that were similar in design to Sora's, though they each bore a different central color. For Twilight, she was wearing mostly purple. Applejack had mostly orange, Rarity, mostly white, and Fluttershy mostly green. Pinkie wore mostly pink, obviously.

"How do we look?" asked Twilight with a smirk.

"Nice!" said Sora. The three good fairies followed them through, shutting the door behind them. "Do they have the same powers as mine?" he asked the fairies.

"Not quite," responded the one in red, Flora.

"They each have their own powers, but they'll need to be discovered themselves," said Fauna, the one dressed in blue.

"They were made with some of our strongest magic, possibly stronger than yours," added Merryweather, the last fairy who wore green.

"Thank you all again," said Twilight as she turned to the three fairies.

"It was our pleasure," responded Flora. With that, the three fairies returned to their room, leaving Sora, the ponies, and Yen Sid alone again.

"Master, we came here for help," said Sora, remembering the original reason they'd come. "Some sort of new heartless has shown up in Traverse town. We have an idea how to destroy it, but we need to learn how to manifest our light. You were going to show me and the other warriors of light how to do it, but we never got a chance."

"I was, and still am," said Yen Sid. "But are your new friends ready? Can their hearts withstand the force of the skill I will teach them?"

"Of course we can handle it!" said Applejack. "Who do ya think yer talkin to?"

"Yeah!" said Twilight. "We're the Elements of Harmony. What makes you think we can't use it?"

Yen Sid held up a solitary hand, signaling for the rest to be quiet. "While your light burns bright, your hearts are not yet conditioned for the force that it takes to pull off such an attack."

"It is similar to the Ragnarok skill that Sora already possesses. The principal is the same, but the skill required to execute it is vastly greater," continued Yen Sid. "Sora, meet with me at the Keyblade Graveyard at your earliest convenience. I will demonstrate to you all how to execute Mega Ragnarok. Come prepared." With that, Yen Sid disappeared in a flash of light, leaving no trace.

"Mega Ragnarok?" said Twilight. "What's that?"

"I'm not sure," said Sora. "We'd better head there now."

"But what about all of Xehanort's heartless?" asked Pinkie. "Didn't Yen Sid say to 'prepare'?"

"Then we'll just have to fight our way out," said Sora.

"And what about Rainbow Dash?" asked Applejack.

"Or Riku?" asked Fluttershy.

"We'll find them," said Sora. "Let's go back to Traverse Town. We need to tell them what's going on."

"Right," said everypony. With that, the group exited Yen Sid's tower and prepared to get back to Traverse Town. While Sora equipped his armor, he couldn't help but wonder what the dark presence he had felt before could have been. They hadn't encountered anything dangerous other than the heartless, so what caused the disturbance? Shaking off the thought, Sora boarded his keyblade glider and sped off, leading the others into space and back to the town.

Radiant Garden

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"Hollow Bastion?" asked Rainbow Dash through the com. "What's that?"

"It's the world we're coming up on," said Riku. "Let's see if it's still the same hell hole that it was before."

With a nod, Rainbow Dash followed Riku down through the atmosphere and clouds until they came only 40 feet off the ground in the main town. Together, Rainbow Dash and Riku jumped off of their vehicles which returned to their keyblade forms and landed on the concrete where Sora, Donald, and Goofy had touched down during their last adventure.

They deactivated their armor and took a quick look around. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and there weren't any heartless. The small town housed some light activity. A few shops were open and three moogles were conversing at their shop.

"And you said this place was a hell hole?" asked Rainbow Dash. "Everything looks fine."

"Yeah," said Riku as he scratched his chin in thought. "A little bit too fine. What happened that would change everything so fast?"

"We can take a look around if your so bugged by it," said Rainbow, smirking a little.


"Wait, what?"

"Well, you said we should take a look around. I agree." said Riku. "I'd like to know what happened that would change this place from 'filled with darkness' to 'relatively non-threatening'."

"Ugh. Fine," groaned Rainbow Dash. "But can we get moving? We need to find the others."

"Yeah. I wonder how they're doing," said Riku as he thought about what kind of trouble Sora could be in. "Let's get moving."

Together, Riku and Rainbow Dash set out into the town square. "Why don't we check out the weapon shop?" asked Rainbow when she noticed the sign above one of the shops.

"Ok," said Riku. They made their way over to the window where they were greeted by the shop keeper.

"Hello, sir," he said. "Can I interest you in one of our fine shields?"

"No thanks," said Riku. "We're looking for an attachment for a specific weapon."

"What's the weapon?" asked the clerk.

Riku held up his hand and summoned his keyblade. The shopkeeper's face drooped slightly. "I'm sorry, sir," he said. "We don't have anything for that. You might check the moogles on the other side of the square. Is there anything else I can interest you in?" he finished as he turned to inspect a few of the shields and staves on display.

"Do you have anything with some range to it?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Well, we do have a lance that got sold to us a while back, but it's not in the best condi-" The clerk stopped as he turned around to address whoever had spoken to him. When he found no one else to match the voice to, he said, "Who asked me about the lance again?"

"Uh, right here," said Rainbow matter-of-factly, as if it should be obvious. The clerk just stared at Rainbow Dash like a cow staring at an oncoming train. His jaw looked like it was ready to drop, but he contained himself for a moment longer.

"Did that thing just talk?" he asked Riku shakily.

"Hey!" said Rainbow Dash angrily. "Who are you calling a thing?!"

The clerk looked back at Rainbow for a minute, finally allowing his jaw to drop. He shook his head to clear it before remembering his manners. "Um, sorry, sorry. As I was saying before," he continued, trying his best to stay sane, "The Lance isn't in the best condition due to its age, but I'm sure that with a little fine tuning and proper reforging, it could be made into something stronger."

The clerk turned back around and continued to dig through an old chest in the back until he came back with something wrapped in thick, aged leather. It looked to be about seven feet long and he had to hold it at an angle. "This is it," said the clerk as he dropped the bundle down on the counter. He began unstrapping each of the seven straps placed evenly along the bundle's length until it fell open, revealing a golden rod with a fine head that stretched seven feet. Around the head was wrapped what looked like a silver chain that led from the top and wove around the rest of the staff all the way down to its base.

"No offense, ma'am, but how are you going to hold that?" asked the clerk with a bit of confusion present in his voice.

Rainbow Dash ignored him as she continued to examine it. "Don't question it," whispered Riku while Rainbow was distracted. "I'm still not sure how it works, but she's managed to grip her keyblade just fine."

The clerk shook his head in disbelief but nodded to Riku anyway just to avoid the pain that trying to think about something so ridiculous could cause. "You can give it a test run for 500 munny up front, and then if you like it, you can buy it at 30% off."

"500 munny?!" gasped Riku. "That's pretty expensive, don't you think? Especially just for a test run?"

"I'm sorry," said the clerk, "but my manager sets the prices."

"Are you sure this is what you want Rainbow Dash," asked Riku to the cyan pegasus who hadn't looked away from the lance.

"No, that's okay," Rainbow said back. "While it's a pretty cool weapon, I've already got the keyblade," she finished as she turned to Riku.

Turning to the clerk, Riku said, "Thanks for your time."

"No problem," said the clerk back, still trying to wrap his head around the idea of a talking horse. With that, Riku and Rainbow Dash left the company of the weapon shop and proceeded through the small square to the stairs leading to the main part of town.

"Let's keep going," said Riku as the two approached the first stair.

"But where are we going exactly?" asked Rainbow shooting him a quizzical look.

"No where in particular," responded Riku, lightly chuckling to himself. "If we're going to do some investigating, it'd be best to talk to as many people as possible."

"Well, we've still got the square that we haven't 'investigated'. We only talked to the weapon shop and we didn't even buy anything."

"True. It's your call though. We can either talk with some of the others here and get some information about what's changed, or we can see for ourselves how the world's been holding up."

"I like the hooves on approach myself," said Rainbow enthusiastically, summoning her keyblade and shouldering it.

"Same here," said Riku smiling back to her. Together, they strode off down the steps and made their way deeper into the city.

As they moved through the city, all seemed to be normal. There were no signs of trouble, and there were few houses that were in bad condition. When they found themselves in the Bailey is when things went from okay to troublesome. As they looked at the complete destruction of the stone walls that seemed like they had been impenetrable, their expressions hardened.

"Did the heartless do this?" asked Rainbow Dash with a hint of disbelief in her voice.

"I don't know," said Riku as he stared at the destruction. "But whatever's beyond this area, it might be dangerous."

"Then let's go and stop it," said Rainbow Dash, flaring her wings readying her keyblade. "Whatever caused this destruction might still be loose, and we can't risk it rampaging through the city."

"I don't know," said Riku, bending down to examine the concrete. "It looks like this is pretty old," he said as he drug a finger across a few cracks in the floor. "An earthquake could have done this." He stood back up and crossed his arms in thought. "Maybe we should ask around a bit more and see if anyone knows what happened."

"I guess," said Rainbow Dash nervously. "Are you sure we shouldn't look around here first? If something did attack, then we should see if we can find it."

"I agree," said Riku. "However, not only will it take less time if we ask around town, but if something does attack and move toward town, then we'll be ready to stop it before it can do any real damage."

"Whatever you say," she finally answered, relaxing and dismissing her keyblade despite her unease. The two then left the Bailey, moving back into town to do some good old fashioned recon.

They started knocking on random doors, hoping that anyone could clue them in on what had happened during the past few years. Nearly every house turned them away, saying that they had just recently moved to the town either from other worlds or just to the town itself from other areas in the world itself.

Nearly every house.

When they knocked on their last door, feeling ready to give up on gathering any information whatsoever, a man opened the door wearing a light blue cloak, a white hat, and sporting a long, white beard. "Why hello their young lad," he spoke to Riku in a mildly cheery tone. "What can I do for you today?"

Riku skipped straight to the point. "What can you tell us about the Bailey? Why is it in such bad shape?"

"Us?" asked the man, looking around to see if he'd missed anyone when adressing Riku. All he saw was the boy and a pegasus. "But you're alone."

"I'm standing right here," said Rainbow Dash mater-of-factly as she shot a look of annoyance at the man.

Riku guessed the man in the door might freak out at seeing a talking pony, much like Aladin or the weapon shop clerk from before. But instead, the man just nodded his head and said with a smile, "Right! Terribly sorry for the confusion. Now, you inquired about the condition of the Bailey?"

"Um, yeah," said Riku, slightly puzzled at the man's reaction. "What happened to it?"

"The heartless happened," said the man. Riku and Rainbow Dash's expressions hardened as they became more serious. "Come in and I'll explain more to you." The man opened his door wider and invited them in. Rainbow Dash shot Riku a questioning look which he returned with a nod, signifying that it seemed safe enough.

"Thank you," said Riku as he and Rainbow Dash walked by the man and into his house. It was fairly messy with books and papers strewn about all over the place. The walls mostly held bookshelves which contained rather hefty tomes that could probably kill a cat if they were dropped on one. In the back was a computer with a large monitor and keyboard, and on a white podium facing the wall sat a brown book with a faint green glow to it. There was a picture on the cover, but the details couldn't be seen from the door.

The man led them into the center of the room as both Riku and Rainbow Dash took care not to step on any of the books or papers littering the floor. He then snapped his fingers and a table with what looked like a pot of steaming tea appeared on a raised platform. The man snapped his fingers once more, conjuring up three cushions around the short table and placed two next to each other and the last on the opposite side of the table.

While Rainbow Dash and Riku looked on in wonder at the man's magic, he took a seat on the single pillow at the table and invited them up to the platforms. "Please, make yourselves comfortable," he said he levitated the tea pot and poured himself a cup. As Riku and Rainbow Dash took their seats, he filled two more cups and slid them along the table to rest in front of his guests.

"Merlin the Wizard, at your service," said the man.

"This is Rainbow Dash, and I'm Riku."

"Riku?" said Merlin. "Then you must Sora's friend."

"How did you know?" asked Riku, mildly surprised.

"He came here on his journey to stop Organization XIII. I supplied him with magic and a chance to visit some of his old friends."

"Why'd he come back here though?" mumbled Riku as he thought.

"What was that?" asked Merlin.

"Oh, nothing. Just thinking out loud," said Riku back. "So, what can you tell us about the heartless that attacked?"

"During one of Sora's visits, The Organization and Maleficent made their move. Unbeknownst to the other, they both launched an attack on this world simultaneously, resulting in a rather large battle. Ultimately, the heartless were defeated by Sora and the Nobodies retreated. I'm still not sure why. If they had really wanted this world, they could have taken it. We were heavily outnumbered and even Sora and the King wouldn't have been able to beat them after fighting the heartless."

"Anyway, during the attack, the Bailey and it's surrounding area were badly damaged, but thankfully none of the heartless got into town. With Cid and I here to fend them off, not a single one of the buggers got through," finished Merlin.

"Are there still a lot of heartless?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"No, most of them have gone. The world is fairly peaceful currently."

"Don't count on it," said Riku. He then relayed the events that had taken place in the dark realm and the battle with Xehanort. "So they're likely following us," he finished

"I'll let the others know," said Merlin, worry now plaguing his voice. "They're in Traverse Town right now, dealing with problems of their own. It seems that a very large number of heartless have appeared there, and they went to deal with it to my knowledge."

Rainbow Dash looked over to Riku. "Maybe that's where Twilight and the others are," she said.

"That makes sense," said Riku as he thought about it. "If we're being tracked by the heartless, then Sora must've stopped there at least once. Maybe we should go check it out. It looks like you've got things covered here for now, Merlin," finished Riku as he turned to the wizard. "Thank you for the information."

"My door is always open," he said as they all stood up and proceeded to the door. As they were leaving Merlin added, "If the heartless strike here in force, be expecting a message from me."

"We'll be ready," said Rainbow Dash as Merlin began to shut the door.

When it closed, Riku turned to Rainbow and asked, "Are you ready to go?"

"Definitely," said Rainbow Dash, almost looking relieved to be traveling again. It seemed that the time spent doing reconnaissance had taken its tole on the impatient mare.

Together, the two donned their armor, summoned their vehicles, and rode off into space, eager to reunite with their friends.

A Double Reunion

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After Sora and the ponies landed back in Traverse Town, they quickly hurried to the Accessory Shop to speak with their friends. Sora knocked on the door a few times, and Cid opened it for them.

On the inside were a couple of laptop computers at the counter, all hooked up via wires to holes in the ceiling above. Leon and Tifa were busying themselves with two of the computers, tapping at the keys while the rest of the gang sat around the small fire in the chimney joined by what appeared to be an orange wolf-like creature. As soon as they were in, Cid went to one of the laptops and got back to whatever work he was doing beforehand.

Yuffie looked away from the fire and took notice of those who entered. "Sora! You're back," she said. "How'd it go?"

"Not great," said Sora as the others turned to acknowledge them. "It turns out, we might not be ready to take on the heartless here." Sora noticed a disappointed sigh escape the others. "How's Aerith?"

"She's okay, but she's sick," said Cloud who sat next to Yuffie. "We've tried everything to help her, but nothing's working. She's not getting worse though, so I guess that's good."

Twilight took a couple of steps toward Cloud as she said, "What are her symptoms?"

"She's got a mild fever, and she doesn't seem to have any energy. She's been trying to sleep since you all left."

"Hmm," hummed Twilight as she pondered the matter.

"So why aren't you ready to fight the heartless?" asked Leon, who was moving out from behind the counter.

"We went to talk with Master Yen Sid, but he told us that we weren't ready to tackle some kind of new skill he called, 'Mega Ragnarok'," answered Sora. "So we need to keep moving I guess. We have to get stronger before we can master it."

"So you're leaving us again?" asked Tifa who had stopped her typing.

"I'm afraid so," said Twilight. "But don't worry. We'll be back to help once we get strong enough."

"Then hurry up and get moving," said Cloud. "We've been trying to set up a defense system like the one at Radiant Garden, but we're having a hard time integrating it. We've been holding off the heartless, but it'll get through the First District gates before long."

"Right," said Sora. "We'll be back before you know it."

With that, the group left the accessory shop and proceeded out into the main square. As they gathered and prepared to leave, Pinkie Pie suddenly spoke up.

"Oh, I hope Rainbow Dash and Riku are okay."

"Ah'm sure they're fine," said Applejack reassuringly. "You know how tough Rainbow is. She ain't goin' down without a fight."

"I guess you're right," said Pinkie back, hanging her head slightly. The other ponies followed suit, clearly concerned for their two missing friends.

"Come on, guys," said Sora. "Cheer up! We'll see them again soon. I'm sure of it," he finished with a smile.

"Sora's right," said Twilight, straightening suddenly. "We can't give up now. Not when we've just gotten started. I want to see them as much as you all do, but that's no reason to lose hope."

"You're right, Twilight," said Rarity, also stepping forward. "We must keep moving, even if the going gets tough."

"That's the spirit," said Sora, glad to see everyone starting to perk up a bit. "Now, let's get out of here." Sora and the others donned their keyblade armor and were preparing to board their vehicles when a familiar voice came through the com.

"Leaving without us?"

Everyone stopped dead as they listened. From above came a massive explosion from which a circular rainbow erupted, spreading out over the night sky. The group immediately looked up at the center of the blast where they noticed two glowing dots moving toward them, away from the explosion with one trailing a rainbow.

After only a minute, the group was greeted by Riku and Rainbow Dash, hovering in the air above them before disengaging their vehicles and dropping onto the ground.

"Riku!" shouted Sora in excitement.

"Rainbow Dash!" shouted the ponies.

"Sup guys?" said Rainbow Dash to the excited group of ponies.

"How've you been?" asked Riku smiling.

"Where were you two?" asked a bewildered Pinkie Pie.

Riku took the next minute to briefly explain. "After we got separated from you, we came to Agrabah in search of that keyblade wielder. We lost track of him, though."

"Then we came to some world called Hollow Bastion," said Rainbow, "before we finally found you all here."

"Actually," said Sora, "It's called Radiant Garden again."

"I guess it fits the scenery now," said Riku. "So what have you all been up to?"

"After everything that happened on Pulse, we left and found Traverse Town here. But, we ran into some trouble."

"What kind of trouble?" asked Rainbow Dash worriedly.

"We came across a rather large and powerful heartless in the Second District and it nearly killed one of our friends," said Rarity.

"Not to mention Fluttershy nearly lost her heart in the Third District," said Applejack, frowning at the thought of nearly losing her friend.

"What?!" shouted Rainbow Dash, more as a statement than a question. She immediately rushed over to her shy friend, grabbing hold of her and looking her over. "Are you okay?! What got you? I'll kill it!"

"Easy, Rainbow," said Twilight. "She's okay now. Believe me, I took care of the heartless that attacked her."

"So it was the heartless," said Rainbow, losing some of her enthusiasm.

As she drooped, Applejack approached her. "Lighten up, Rainbow. We're all okay now."

"Lighten up? LIGHTEN UP?! How can you say that? Fluttershy almost lost her heart! Are you really okay with that?!" blurted out the cyan pegasus.

"Ah never said Ah was okay with it," said Applejack back, keeping her relaxed tone. "Sora managed to save her, so we're all good. But just because she's okay now doesn't mean we're not ready to cut up the heartless to protect her and everyone else too."

Rainbow backed off and shrunk away, realizing her mistake in doubting her friend. "You're right," she sighed. "Sorry."

"These must be some pretty strong heartless then," said Riku.

"Yeah," answered Sora. "We've had some trouble with them, but we're getting the hang of dealing with them."

"That's good to hear. And how's that going exactly?" Sora then explained what he'd told Leon and the others about the Mega Ragnarok skill.

"Mega Ragnarok?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"We've never heard of it, either," said Sora. "But we're going to get some help from Master Yen Sid on it."

"Yen Sid is going to help us?" asked Riku, slightly shocked.

"Yep!" said Pinkie Pie as she bounced in excitement. "But he said we weren't ready and that it could be super dangerous if we tried to learn it before we got super duper strong! That's why we're going to go to the Colosseum to train up a whole bunch!"

"Do you mean the Olympus Colosseum?" asked Riku.

"I hadn't planned on going there," said Sora, surprised at Pinkie Pie's seemingly impossible knowledge of the world she'd never visited.

"Well we are now!" said Pinkie, only smiling as if she hadn't said anything out of the ordinary.

"I guess that's as good a place as any to search for a portal to the dark realm," said Riku.

"Yeah," said Sora back, losing some of his enthusiasm as he remembered his trapped friends. "I wonder how they're doing."

Applejack approached him and put a hoof on his shoulder. "Now don't you worry," she said as she smiled at him. "We'll save 'em. You can count on us."

A collective agreement came from the rest of the ponies, putting Sora's heart at rest. "Thanks, guys."

"So what are we standing around for?" asked Rainbow Dash, spreading her wings. "Let's get moving!" She donned her keyblade armor and stood at the ready, eager to move on.

"Right," said the others in unison. Together, the group equipped their armor and summoned their keyblades, transforming them into vehicles and mounting them in seconds. Sora, Riku, and the ponies rocketed into space to proceed to the Olympus Colosseum.


While in mid flight, Sora contacted Riku via the com. "Do you know where the Colosseum is?"

"Just about," said Riku back. "Remember, these worlds don't seem to orbit a sun, or anything for that matter. In fact, they don't seem to have any sort of path in space. They're just there, islands in the void. It should be within only an hour's travel."

"An hour?!" came the voice of Rainbow Dash through the com, breaking in on the frequency.

"Sorry, Rainbow," said Sora. "but we don't have a gummi ship with a warp drive to use. Besides, unless we had its coordinates in space, then we wouldn't be able to warp anyway."

"Ugh," groaned the mare over the com in annoyance. "I just wish we could go a little bit faster. All this simple flying isn't getting us anywhere soon."

"This is as fast as we can go right now," said Riku. "We've gotten faster since we left Equestria. Our speed might have something to do with how powerful our keyblades are. After all, these vehicles are our keyblades in a different form, so maybe we just need to get stronger to get faster."

"Are you sure? 'Cause I don't want to be stuck going this slow for the rest of the journey."

"Um, Rainbow Dash?" came Fluttershy's shaking voice over the com. "I don't think we should be worrying about speed right now."

"Why not?" she asked, turning to her friends. They were all looking in the opposite direction, though she couldn't see their expressions through their visors. "Guys?" When she turned around, she couldn't quite believe what she saw.

While she was looking at the others, a large red and yellow spaceship had pulled up next to them in space, flying at their same speed. Rainbow couldn't see through the large glass dome of a cockpit, but she managed to make out two figures inside, one short and the other tall. Suddenly, Sora's voice came out over the com.

"The gummi ship?! Does that mean..."

"Gummi ship to Sora. This is Donald Duck. Do you read?" came the voice of Sora's feathered friend over the com.

"And Goofy, too!" said the taller figure in the ship, waving behind the glass so only his silhouette was visible.

"Donald! Goofy!" yelled Sora, excited to see his friends again. "What are you guys doing out here?"

"Come on in and we'll tell you all about it," said Donald, opening up a hatch on the bottom of the small ship.

"Let's go, everyone," said Riku, taking point with Sora and guiding them all into the opening on the ship.

Once inside, the hatch closed behind them and the 'hangar' began filling with oxygen. A green light above the airlock door to the rest of the ship turned green, signaling the OK for the group to remove their armor and head topside.

"Donald? Goofy?" asked Sora as he moved up the main hall and up into the cockpit. The two closest seats turned and in them sat Sora's companions that he'd adventured with throughout the galaxy twice over in search of Riku and Kairi.

"Hey, Sora," said Goofy wearing his yellow pants and green shirt with the black vest while his orange hat hung off the back of his head. "How ya doin'?"

"Sora," said Donald, almost saying it more like a question than a statement. He wore his deep blue shirt and zipped hat while his staff leaned against the console next to Goofy's shield.

"It's good to see you two again," said Riku as he came up behind Sora. The ponies were right behind him, just as eager to meet Sora and Riku's friends from another world as they were to reunite with them.

As the ponies approached and came into view of the cockpit, Goofy spoke up. "Who are your friends, Sora?"

"Oh, right! Donald, Goofy, meet the elements of harmony." One by one, the ponies introduced themselves to Sora's old companions, quickly becoming friends with them until they had all been introduced to each other. After the introductions, Donald walked over to the console and pushed a few buttons, opening seven extra holes in the floor to allow chairs for the others to rise in their place.

Once everyone was settled, Sora spun back around in his chair and asked, "So Donald, why are you both out here?"

"Well," began Sora's comrade, "after you told us to leave the dark realm and get back to Yen Sid's tower, we started to get worried about you."

"You'd been on so many adventures without us, we thought you'd stopped needin' us," commented Goofy.

"Right," said Donald. "So, we decided to go and look for you again. Yen Sid told us he didn't want us getting involved and that it would be too dangerous, but we snuck out at night and stole the gummi ship to look for you."

"That's odd," said Twilight from the front row of the ponies. "Yen Sid never mentioned you to us."

"He probably just didn't want Sora to go looking for them for help," offered Rarity.

"But doesn't having your friends with you through the worst times make everything better?" asked Pinkie Pie.

"Not when you really care about them and are trying to protect them," said Twilight, realizing why Sora had sent them home, possibly when he needed them the most. When she looked over to Sora, she saw a look of understanding on his face, proving that she was right.

"I'm sorry for trying to keep you out of it," said Sora to Donald and Goofy. "but I didn't want either of you to get hurt."

"But don't you believe in us, Sora?" asked Goofy, feeling slightly betrayed.

"Of course I do! But I didn't want either of you to get hurt trying to help me. Xehanort is beyond powerful. Only a keyblade wielder can even begin to stand up to him. You guys are the best, but even you'd be no match for him. He crushed us in minutes. Do you know what happened in the dark realm?"

"We got a message from Yen Sid a little bit after you talked to him," said Goofy. He then held up an opened envelope with a torn wax seal on it. "He said that he was waiting for you at some place called the Keyblade Graveyard, and he wanted us to meet you there."

"Any idea why?" asked Riku.

"Not a clue," responded Donald.

After a few moments of silence, Sora spoke up again. "I guess the crew's back together again," he said with excitement. "So let's get going. We were on our way to the Olympus Colosseum to get some training from Phil, so why don't you come with us?"

"Are you sure you want us around, Sora?" asked Goofy.

"Come on, guys. You're my friends! Where would I be without you? What do you say?" asked Sora.

After a few agonizing moments, Donald caved. "I guess we don't have a choice, do we Goofy?" he said with a smile.

"Not at all," he responded with a laugh.

"Then let's go!" shouted Sora. The keyblade master then spun his chair back around to face the console, took hold of the wheel, and hit the gas, rocketing the gummi ship out into space and off toward the Colosseum.

Olympus Colosseum (part 1)

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After flying through space for only 30 minutes (as opposed to the expected hour), the group approached a glowing world with a large, golden building on top and a black, dark tower coming from below. After a few taps of the console from Sora, the ship made its descent towards the glowing side of the world.

As the ship came close to the atmosphere, the image of the glowing building disappeared and was replaced with the true topographical layout of the world, revealing a massive stadium in the clouds and a large city below. As the ship came closer to the world, it quickly slowed and remained hovering three miles above the large city below.

"What gives?" asked Rainbow in confusion. "Why didn't we land?"

"We are landed," said Donald. "Because we're not supposed to be meddling with other worlds, we leave the ship in the sky. That way, no one else knows where we're from."

"It's important that we maintain the balance of the worlds as they are," said Sora. "It's been a pretty big risk using our keyblade gliders because they might give us away. Luckily, we've landed in unpopulated areas or places that already know about the existence of other worlds, like Traverse Town."

"It's the same with Radiant Garden," said Riku.

"So you're saying we shouldn't use our gliders unless it's absolutely necessary?" asked Twilight.

"Pretty much," said Riku.

"So now we're short on transport," said Applejack. "We'll have to keep out of other folks view from now on?"

"No, it's not like that," said Sora. "If anyone asks where you're from, just tell them you're from out of town. That usually worked for us," he finished as he gestured to Donald and Goofy. "Just try to be inconspicuous."

"Ugh, fine," came a groan from Pinkie Pie as she put away a large cannon. "And I was going to throw a 'Welcome-to-a-brand-new-world-full-of-amazing-Greek-stuff' party." Everyone shared a small chuckle before Donald gathered their attention.

"Listen up," he began. "Since we can't land, we have to teleport down. Don't make a move once we start."

"Also," interrupted Sora, "the first time can be a little bit rough on the landing. You might be dizzy at first, but it'll wear off."

Goofy got up and made his way to the console before pressing a small purple button to the far right side. He then rejoined the group in a circle. "Here we go," he said. All of a sudden, he disappeared in a flash of green light which quickly dispersed. Before the others could release a slight gasp in shock, they too were teleported out of the ship, leaving behind a faint, green light that shimmered and died out to leave the ship completely empty.


Olympus Colosseum

It was a fraction of a second before Twilight felt something rough press against her face. As she struggled to open her eyes, she found that she'd fallen over and was lying in a heap on the ground. As she regained focus, she saw her friends standing up from similar situations. Twilight followed suite, and in moments the gang stood at the ready, eager to get to the colosseum.

"Why don't we do some exploring here first," said Sora. "I've never been to the city below before, so maybe we can gather some information here."

"Just remember," began Riku with a cautioning tone, "keep a low profile. We don't want too much attention drawn to ourselves."

"Right," responded the ponies in unison.

"Let's meet up at the colosseum in an hour," said Sora. "That'll give everyone some time to explore."

"We'll see you there," said Rainbow Dash.

"Oh yeah!" said Twilight. She turned to Rainbow Dash before materializing a brown package tied with a string. "This is from the three good fairies and Master Yen Sid. They're imbued with some kind of strange magic that even I can't decipher." She hovered the package over to Rainbow who took it under her wing to hold it. "They just told us that we'd discover they're power during our journey."

The cyan pegasus set the package and the ground and tore it open, revealing clothes of the same design as her friends. "These are for me?" she asked, puzzled.

"Yep," said Pinkie Pie from the back.

Rainbow took a second to slip them on before standing back up straight. Much like the others, the clothes had several bound pockets of varying size to match Sora's outfit, and it was light blue with white trim in color. "Thanks, guys," she said in gratitude.

"Don't thank us," said Rarity. "Thank those fairies the next time we see them."

"Okay, I think that'll do it," said Sora. "Now go on. Explore a bit."

With that, the group split up and went their separate ways. The streets of the city were filled with people, all buying and selling things at stands or talking away in the corners of buildings as the hundreds of hurrying people passed them by.

"Ah'm gonna go and check out what kinda food they got here," said Applejack to the rest of the ponies. "It's not every day ya get to see a whole 'nother place like this one." As Applejack departed, Rarity spoke up.

"I myself am quite interested in the kinds of material they use here for clothing. I can't seem to recognize it from anywhere in Equestria." As Rarity turned to go, it was Fluttershy's turn.

"Maybe there are some brand new animals here," she said optimistically.

"I don't think they'd be in the city," said Twilight. "Based on what I can gather about the culture here, I'd say you'd have to find some kind of outlying village if you wanted to find anything unique." Fluttershy frowned slighty before Rainbow Dash approached her.

"Don't worry about it," she said. "Why don't you come flying with me? I want to check out the weather here and see if it works the same as Equestria's weather."

"I guess we can do that," responded the yellow pegasus, perking up a bit. Together, the two winged ponies flew high into the sky, Rainbow Dash taking the lead.

Back on the ground, Pinkie Pie spoke up. "You should come and help me find a decent party, Twilight. I have the feeling they'll be a bit harder to find here than in Ponyville."

"You go ahead, Pinkie," responded the alicorn. "I'm more interested in the history of this place. Especially all of this architecture. It's similar to that of the ancient Equestrians, so maybe I can learn more about ours from the history of this world."

"Okay," said Pinkie Pie looking slightly disappointed.

Twilight put a hoof on her shoulder before saying, "Cheer up. I'm sure you'll find some kind of party here."

"Okee dokee. I'll see you later, Twilight."

"See you soon," finshed Twilight. While Pinkie went bouncing off down one of the roads, Twilight activated some of her magic and cast a location spell, looking for anywhere that might have a large collection of books, but to no avail. In fact, there didn't seem to be anything like a library in the city at all. "Maybe they aren't very strong readers," she thought to herself. "That, or this just isn't as important of a city, so there isn't going to be a grand library. Then again, with the colosseum above, this should be a real tourist attraction. So where's all the banners advertising the games? And what about that library?"

While Twilight thought on about how strange the city was compared to what every sign told her to expect, Sora and Riku were only a few blocks off talking as they explored the area.

"So what happened at Radiant Garden?" asked Sora. "Did you run into anyone?"

"Radiant Garden?" asked Riku, puzzled.

"Oh, right! The last time we were at Hallow Bastion, we found out it was originally called 'Radiant Garden', so we changed the name."

"I guess that makes sense," said Riku, still a bit confused. "Anyway, there was a wizard there by the name of Merlin, and he mentioned that he knew you."

"So that's where he is. We didn't see him when we visited Traverse Town. Did he say why he was still there?"

"No, but I can guess it was to make sure that the town stayed safe. He said that it's been pretty peaceful lately."

"It was peaceful?" asked Sora in shock. "But that place has always had plenty of heartless, especially when Donald, Goofy and I went there. What happened?"

"I think the destruction of the new Kingdom Hearts might've caused a heartless shortage," said Riku. "Also, you never said. Why'd you go back there?"

"To be honest, it was the first world that our gummi ship picked up on," said Sora, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. "Since we were there before, we thought we might check it out and see how it was doing. What about you?"


"Why would you go back there? I mean, I thought it would be a bit hard to go back to after everything that happened."

"Honestly, I was worried about the place."

"Why's that?" asked Sora.

"I'm not sure," said Riku back as he stared off into space. "It was the first world I found after we left the island. Maybe it was just me being sentimental. I don't know, but something felt like it was drawing me there."

As Riku finished speaking, he accidentally bumped into someone and staggered a bit. "Whoa. Sorry about that," he said as he turned to look at who he'd collided with. But instead of one of the citizens, he found he was staring at a horse-like figure in a black robe. In fact it only took him half a second to realize that it was the same one he'd followed through the portal on Pulse and that he'd followed in Agrabah.

"You," he said in surprise as he tried to make out the face of whatever was under the hood. Before he could get a good look, the pony broke off into a run in the opposite direction.

"Wait!" Riku called after the pony as it ran, its cloak blowing behind it. He immediately gave chase, eliciting a slight gasp of annoyance from Sora before he realized who Riku was chasing and followed him.

As they kept chasing the pony, it kept making turns down every street, seemingly trying to lose them before getting cornered in an alley. As the pony ran to the back wall and put its front hooves on it, scraping as if to try to escape, Riku called, "You're not going anywhere." The pony stopped and touched back down on all fours.

Slowly, it turned around and faced the two keyblade warriors. In one smooth move, it held up a navy blue hoof and summoned its own keyblade. Sora and Riku both recoiled a little bit as darkness flowed from the crescent moon on the end of the keyblade and surrounded the two friends, eliminating their vision of the stoned alley. Sora was about to ask what was going on when his and Riku's keyblades appeared in their masters' hands, as if knowing about the imminent danger.

As Sora and Riku continued to stare at their opponent's keyblade, they soon found themselves in a dark realm. In fact, it reminded Sora of his dream from on the island and with Twilight's and Fluttershy's dives. The three stood on a stained glass platform, depicting Princess Celestia and Luna with a yin-yang pattern in the background. Luna resided in the black, while Celestia resided in the light. The pattern, instead of just solid black and white, featured night and day with a golden light shining behind the day and a light blue behind the night.

As Sora and Riku looked up from examining the amazing design, they were met with the pony rushing at them, keyblade swinging in a wide arc. Both Sora and Riku jumped to avoid the swing and touched down on Celestia's side of the platform, falling into their combat stances. Their enemy did the same, jumping back to land on Luna's side and allowing tip of the keyblade to rest on the ground. Riku quickly tossed Sora a couple of elixirs as they prepared for a fight.


Twilight had taken to the skies, flying up toward the Colosseum to get some answers. When she got up to the massive cloud platform that led to the entrance, she landed and made her way to the doors. To the left side of the massive stone doors, there was a black, twisting mass that looked like some kind of gateway. Twilight could make out some kind of stairs leading into darkness, but she couldn't see down to their bottom. Resisting the urge to take a closer look, she instead opened the doors with her magic before stepping through them into the colosseum's massive courtyard.

The first thing she noticed was the incredible amount of rubble and the two giant, destroyed statues. "What happened to this place?" she asked aloud, though to no one in particular.

"A hydra happened," came a thick Jersey accent from behind Twilight, though she didn't know that. Twilight turned around to see a strange creature with the legs of a goat and the body of a human; a satyr, and a particularly short one at that.

"A hydra did all this?" asked Twilight.

"'Bout a year ago. What can I do for ya?"

"I'm here to compete in the games," said Twilight. The satyr started laughing at her uncontrollably. "What's so funny?" she asked in annoyance.

"You think anybody's gonna compete in a dump like this?" he managed through his loud laughter. When he finally calmed down, he said, "No, the games aren't gonna be held here for a long time. But, if you really want to compete, then I guess we could use the Underdrome."

"What's that?" asked Twilight.

"Where have you been livin', under a rock?" asked the satyr. "The underworld's version of our colosseum. It's a lot more dangerous, but if you really want to compete, I'm not gonna stop you. They're holdin' a tournament soon anyway."

"The Underdrome, huh?" asked Twilight, more to herself. "I'll be right back," she said. "I've got some friends of mine who were also going to compete."

"What're their names?"

"Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, and I'm Twilight Sparkle. There's also Riku, Sora, Donald, and Goofy."

"Did you say Sora?" asked the satyr with more interest in his voice. "You know that kid?"

"Yeah," said Twilight back. "Have you met him?"

"Met him? I trained that runt into a hero!" he bragged. "Tell him to stop by as soon as possible."

"Will do," said Twilight as she turned to leave. Before she left, she asked, "What was your name, again?"

"Phil, the trainer of the greatest hero on Olympus."


The first move was made by the cloaked pony as it forced more darkness from its keyblade until it solidified into large, black tentacles. Without moving a hoof, the tentacles stretched toward Riku and Sora at lightning fast speeds, forcing them to quickly guard. Sora countered by activating his rotating fire spell around him and Riku, burning the vine-like protrusions to ash.

"Our turn," said Riku. He and Sora charged towards the pony until they were only a couple of yards away. Sora swung his keyblade horizontally while Riku swung his vertically. Before the keyblades could make contact, their adversary teleported behind them and swung at their backs, impacting both of them hard and throwing them forward.

As Sora picked himself up, the pony rushed him, unleashing a blinding flurry of attacks against him and forcing him toward the edge of the massive pillar. As he got forced to the edge, Riku used his spacial magic to teleport next to them and land a blow against the pony, knocking it away from Sora.

As Sora recovered, Riku was knocked into the air by a jet of darkness originating from under him. In mid air, it pulled him back down and slammed him into the ground.

As he stood back up, Sora used an elixir on him and asked in wonder, "Who is that?"

"I don't know," said Riku. "But who ever it is, they're strong."

Together, Sora and Riku filled their keyblades with light before shouting in unison, "Session!" This audible command triggered the release of their light and the activation of their limit break, Eternal Session. Sora and Riku charged the pony with impossible speed and executed a series of very fast combos against it, each hit landing straight on and knocking the pony under the hood around. After that, they started hovering around the pony, jabbing at it with intense accuracy and force before jumping back for their next move. The two warriors of light swung their keyblades together, creating a massive white sword that swung where they did to cut up and across the pony in nearly one hundred hits. As soon as that was done, the sword split into thirteen and got a mind of its own, attacking the pony simultaneously while Sora and Riku retreated to safety. As soon as it finished, they combined their keyblades once more before executing their final move, All's End. Separating for the last time, their keyblades flew into the 'sky' and pulled the pony in, blasting it from both sides with an intense and unbreakable light before letting its body drop to the floor, lying still and smoking slightly in a heap.

Sora's and Riku's keyblades returned to them as they dropped backwards in exhaustion. They stared at their fallen adversary in wonder. Who ever they had just beaten, they were one tough customer.

After a minute of rest, Sora got up and approached the cloaked pony. Slowly, he bent down and took hold of its hood. In one swift move, he tore it back to reveal...

Nothing. They had just finished beating nothing. As soon as he'd pulled back the hood, the cloak collapsed in on itself as darkness flowed from its seems. The keyblade 'it' wielded disappeared as well, disappearing into darkness and leaving behind a key chain of a crescent moon which Sora snatched up.

Riku approached Sora before asking in shock, "It took our most powerful attack just to bring down a copy?" Sora could only nod, speechless himself.

Suddenly, a feminine voice rang out through the darkness. "I see that Princess Celestia did not exaggerate when she communicated to me your ability."

Sora stood up immediately when he heard the mention of the princess. "How do you know Princess Celestia?" he asked to whoever was speaking.

Darkness began collecting in front of him about a yard away, so Sora took a few steps back. The darkness kept collecting until it created the pony that Sora and Riku had fought. It was still wearing the black cloak and hood while its keyblade was no where in sight. Slowly it reached up to its head and pushed back the hood, revealing the navy blue face of Princess Luna.

"I am her sister, Princess Luna. I control the night of Equestria while my sister reigns over the day." She began walking around Sora and Riku, examining them as she said, "It was reckless to use such a powerful attack so early in the fight. Despite its effectiveness, it has left you both drained. You should have waited until you could do nothing more than stand before executing your limit break. Remember that." She finished as she came back around to Sora's front.

"Pardon me, Princess," began Riku, "but why are you using the power of darkness?"

Luna's eyes suddenly glowed a bright white as she got in Riku's face, screaming, "Because the darkness ensnared me! I was once a warrior of light like you, but my neglect at keeping my inner darkness in check made me into a demon!" She backed up slowly as she regained control. Riku just stared at her in shock. In only a moment, the cloak exploded away from Luna and her body became covered in dark magic before dissipating and revealing her 'Nightmare Moon' armor on her body.

Sora and Riku stepped back even more, plagued with unease. "This is what the darkness has made me," said Princess Luna calmly. "I have done my best to control it, but even the Elements of Harmony, with their powerful light magic, could not completely dispel this demon in my heart."

She turned away from them, dismissing her armor as she said, "That's why I pursued the power of the keyblade. Years after my sister returned from the keyblade war, I begged her to teach me her skill. I learned, but only how to summon one. I couldn't manipulate its shape or control any magic, but it was enough for me. Later, when my heart fell into darkness, my keyblade changed and became pure darkness itself. After my banishment to the moon, I honed that power into the deadly weapon I possess now."

Turning back to Sora and Riku who were listening intently, she said, "And now, I work to destroy it. It continues to haunt me and I feel its darkness pulling me back. I've traveled the worlds in search of a way to cleanse myself of this nightmare, but so far, my efforts have been in vain. Warriors of light, I beg you now, help me end this. Save me from the darkness." Princess Luna was now bowing to Sora and Riku, who wore shocked expressions as she finished her story.

"I guess we have to," said Riku. "After all, you're Princess Celestia's sister. How could we not?" Both he and Sora smiled as Princess Luna lifted her head to look at them. She stood up and with the swing of a hoof, she dispelled the darkness and freed Sora and Riku from the dream.

They woke up on the ground in the alley, unaware that they'd been in a dream the whole time. Princess Luna was standing a short ways away. She pulled off her hood and looked at them with gratitude in her eyes.

"I guess we'd better find Twilight and the others," said Sora. "They'll want to know you're here."

"So will Princess Celestia," said Riku.

"Actually, I don't want them to know," said Princess Luna apprehensively. "I left in secret because I didn't want my sister to worry about me."

"I thought you said she told us about you," said Sora in confusion.

"I did," said Luna, "but we're linked psychically. She sent me a message that she had enlisted the help of Twilight, her friends, and two 'humans' named Sora and Riku to protect Equestria."

"That explains how you knew who we were," said Riku. "But you realize that by leaving without saying anything, you probably just made your sister worry more, right?"

"I was worried about that," said Princess Luna sadly. "Knowing that she's worried about me makes me wonder if it was the right decision, but the part of my heart that isn't corrupt is telling me to go out and find a way to become whole again."

"I won't argue with you there," said Sora. "But believe me, it would be a lot easier if you had some friends to help you out." Sora turned away from the Princess toward the street as he said, "Come on Riku. We need to find the others and get to the colosseum."

"Yeah," agreed Riku as he turned to leave as well. Together, the two left Princess Luna in the alley to get back to their friends.

Meanwhile, the ponies had regrouped. All except for Twilight who was still searching for Sora and Riku. Donald and Goofy were with the ponies in search of Sora and Riku as well.

"So, Goofy," began Applejack, "what's yer world like?"

"Well, there's a big ol' castle right smack dab in the middle of it," he replied. "Besides that, there's not much else. There used to be a ferry, but the captain, Pete, turned against the king almost 13 years ago. Then, a witch named Malificient freed him and he joined the heartless."

"And he's been a pain in our butt since we started fighting the Organization," added Donald.

"What's the Organization?" asked Pinkie Pie.

"Yeah," added Fluttershy sheepishly. "They don't sound very nice."

"They weren't," said Goofy. "But Sora took care of their leader, uh..."

"Xehanort," said Donald.

"Right, Xehanort. He was usin' 'em to make this weapon called the X-blade."

"Sora and Riku filled us in there," said Rainbow Dash. "Are any of them still around?"

"Of course not," said Donald. "Otherwise, we would have run into them by now."

As if on cue, a dark portal opened up in the middle of the street, scaring the civilians into running. Donald, Goofy, and the ponies stopped in their tracks as a cloaked figure with red, glowing eyes stepped through it into the street.

Fluttershy jumped behind the others, quaking with fear as she said, "I-is that one of t-them?"

Donald and Goofy readied their weapons as Goofy said, "I'm not sure. It looks like it."

The others summoned their keyblades and prepared for combat. All except for Fluttershy who continued to cower behind them.

In a movement faster than light, the nightmare rushed forward, summoned its blades and knocked Donald and Goofy aside. The five ponies who had stood behind them barely had time to react as it rushed them as well, forcing them to guard quickly to avoid being struck.

After a couple of rapid attacks, the nightmare teleported back a ways while the ponies looked on in wonder.

"What in the world is that?" asked Rarity in confusion as she and the others recovered.

"Ah'm not sure," started Applejack, "but it looks like it's tryin' to pick a fight!" She readied her keyblade, as did the others.

"Are you sure we have to fight it?" came the nearby cry of Fluttershy as she found a hiding place behind a shopping stall.

Rainbow Dash turned to Fluttershy and said reassuringly, "Don't worry. We'll be fine. Especially since I'm on the team!"

Fluttershy cringed and refused to move, eliciting an annoyed huff from Rarity. "Why can't she mare up and help us?"

Before anypony else could utter a sound, the nightmare summoned a pillar of darkness under Rarity, bashing her relentlessly before tossing her down the street. Rainbow Dash charged while the others gawked at Rarity's immediate defeat. She swung in a large arc that was easily dodged by the nightmare before it countered and launched her into a collection of barrels.

As she collided, Pinkie muttered to herself, "So the barrels are in on this...(1)" That earned her a strange look from Applejack before the farmer turned and cast Magnet above her, expecting to draw her enemy in. Instead, it stood unphased at the end of the street, preparing another stash of darkness for more of its powerful attacks.

"What the hay?" she asked out loud. "I thought that was supposed to pull the darn thing toward us! What happened?" As she questioned herself, the nightmare fired a pitch black, swirling ball of darkness at her. Before she could react, Pinkie Pie brought her keyblade down on the projectile to stop it before turning to Applejack.

"We have to focus," she said as she became serious. She quickly turned back to the nightmare and held her keyblade up before shouting at the top of her lungs, "Thunder!" A large bolt of lightning struck the nightmare, leaving behind a few static strands of electricity but otherwise doing nothing. Pinkie lost some of her bravado as it gestured to her, summoning three pillars of darkness that began rotating around the two ponies.

"Ah don't like this," said Applejack nervously as the pillars began closing in on them.

As they were about to make contact, both ponies heard the rasping voice of Donald as he shouted "Blizzaga!" The three pillars froze before being enveloped in a black cloud and shattering to pieces, only to return to the nightmare and collect in its dark pool.

"Donald?" questioned Pinkie Pie.

As the nightmare fired what looked like a knife made of red and black darkness from its hands, it was intercepted by Goofy with his shield, exploding on contact and dissolving into nothingness. "Goofy?" asked Applejack in surprise.

As Sora's old friends stood in the defense of Applejack and Pinkie Pie, the nightmare seemed to glare at them with malice as the darkness behind it was nearly ready. After a few more moments, the nightmare jumped backwards into the pool of darkness and sunk into it, disappearing under the red and black mass that remained in the street.

"What's it doin'?" asked Applejack in confusion. Only a second later, the darkness split into seven pieces and shot straight up into the sky, heading in completely different directions through space.

As the last of it disappeared, every one dropped their guard to wonder at what they'd just seen. Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Rarity rejoined Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Donald, and Goofy in the middle of the road. "Well, that sucked," stated Rainbow Dash bluntly.

"I agree," came Rarity's response as she healed herself with a potion. She turned to Donald and Goofy before asking, "Have either of you seen anything like it before?"

"Nope," said Goofy.

"It looked kinda like a member of Organization XIII," said Donald. "We need to find Sora and Riku now."

"Ah agree," said Applejack. "Maybe they'll know what that thing was."

It was just then that Twilight glided down to the group, landing a short ways away from them. "Have you seen Sora or Riku anywhere?" she asked frantically.

"Not recently," said Fluttershy quietly. "Is something wrong?"

"No, not wrong. It's just unnerving that we haven't seen them. Where do you think they went?"

"Beats me," said Rainbow Dash. "I'm sure they're fine. Just relax little bit."

"Relax?!" said Applejack in shock. "We almost got killed by some thing in a weird cloak and you're tellin' us to relax?!"

"Pretty much, yeah," replied Rainbow Dash, much to Applejack's annoyance. "It looks like it's gone, whatever it was."

"Did I miss something?" asked Twilight.

"We were attacked!" yelled Donald.

"Donald's right," said Goofy. "This feller in a black cloak attacked us and then left right before you showed up."

"Black cloak?" said Twilight to herself. "Just that? I mean, did it have any other distinguishing markings? How will I know if I see it?"

"It had these incredibly tacky sleeves," said Rarity in disgust. "They had some kind of magenta pattern on them. Personally, I could've made much better."

"Magenta... got it," said Twilight. "Whatever attacked you sounds like some kind of heartless."

"Well, that's just it," said Goofy. "It sure didn't fight like any heartless I know."

"It had this amazing control over darkness!" exclaimed Pinkie. "This was WAY to strong to be a just a heartless."

"Let's find Sora and Riku right away," said Twilight. "I'm sure they'll know what it was. Besides, I've got some things to tell them about."

"Right," responded the others.

Together, they set off through the streets, doing their best not to attract too much attention despite their incredibly recent (and a little bit loud) fight. After what felt like a few hours, they finally, found Sora and Riku who had been searching for them as well.

"Where've you all been?" asked Sora calmly. "We have to register for the games soon."

"We've been looking for you for a while now," added Riku. "Is everything ok?"

"We were attacked only -- what, an hour ago? I lost track of time -- by this creature in a black cloak," said Rarity.

"Black cloak?" asked Riku. "Tell me everything about it," he demanded. "How did it look? Was there anything on its sleeves?"

"Actually, yeah," said Rainbow Dash. "It had this funky pinkish color on them."

"And if you want a fightin' style, try way too hard an' way too fast," added Applejack.

"It also used an awful lot of darkness, even for the Organization," said Goofy.

"Then it survived..." said Riku to himself.

"Do you know what it was, Riku?" asked Sora curiously.

"Yeah," he said back. "I think it's time I told you guys what happened while you were at the train station in Equestria."


"So that creature trapped Sora in a dream?" asked Fluttershy, about ready to flee back to the gummi ship after just hearing the story of Riku's short encounter.

"And now it's back?" asked Pinkie Pie.

"It must be," said Riku bluntly. "But how is it here, in the real world?"

"Beats me," said Twilight as she rested her head on her hooves. After a few seconds of silence, Twilight added, "That's right! I forgot! The colosseum got destroyed a while back. It won't be ready for another competition for a long time."

"Oh yeah," said Sora in embarrassment as he rubbed the back of his head. "That would be our doing," he finished as he motioned to Donald and Goofy.

"What?!" asked Twilight in confusion. "I heard that a hydra attacked it! Though, how it got up there in the first place beats me, but that's besides the point. What do you all have to do with it?"

"Well, you see..." began Sora. He proceeded to tell them all about his last visit and how it had cost the world's biggest attraction. "But it wasn't our fault it got destroyed. This guy named Hades sent a hydra to fight Hercules. But when he came to help us save his friend, the hydra regrew its head and went on a rampage. Now, the only other place to compete is..."


"Welcome to the Underdrome!" said the blue, short, and skinny Panic as he stood next to his red partner, Pain. The group had returned to the gummi ship and piloted to the colosseum itself, disembarking outside the doors and proceeding to the Underworld via the portal.

They had barely descended the stairs before Pain and Panic introduced them all to the Underworld and now, the Underdrome. "Here, you can compete in all kinds of tournaments, free of the fear of death and dismemberment," said Pain in his deeper, distorted voice. "Just talk to Panic over by the boat." The slightly taller blue demon dashed over to a strange looking boat that was docked near the crew.

"But, we're holding a special tournament with different rules soon," continued Pain. "You'll have to talk to me to register for that."

"Weren't we supposed to be getting training from Phil?" whispered Twilight to Sora.

"Right after this," he whispered back. "We'll all compete here where it's safe to practice against the heartless. Then, we'll focus on the more skill oriented training from Phil. Besides, it'll be interesting to see how you all handle yourselves."

"Got it," whispered Twilight back.

"The rules are simple," said Pain. "The tournament will operate bracket style, where each team or individual will have to fight through five rounds before a final match. There is no cap on power, so feel free to really destroy your competition."

"That doesn't sound very safe," said Fluttershy nervously.

"That's pretty much it," he finished. "Just talk to me when you're ready to register. But you better make it fast. The tournament starts tomorrow!"

One by one, Sora and his friends registered for the tournament, each wondering part in excitement and fear as to who they'd be up against. Sora, Donald, Goofy and Riku formed a team while the ponies entered separately per Sora's request.

"Why should we enter separately?" asked Twilight. "Shouldn't we make a team like you four?"

"Two reasons," said Sora. "First, it has been a long time since I've fought beside Donald and Goofy. They helped us find the original portal to the dark realm, but we were all alone once we reached the inside. If they're gonna help us again, then I need to re-establish the connection that made us strong. Second, you all need to learn how to fight individually. You've been fighting as a tight team so far, but it's time you all learned to trust your own strength, and this is a perfect opportunity."

"I guess that makes sense," said Twilight as she pondered Sora's request. She found it strange that, for someone who had emphasized the importance of teamwork for most of their journey so far, he would suggest going solo for the tournament. Reluctantly, she and the others accepted and before long, they were all set to compete.

While the ponies conversed about what they thought they might see in the tournament, Riku pulled Sora aside. "Weren't they supposed to enter in teams?" asked Riku.

"They were," began Sora. "But then I thought, 'Hey, Sora. Wouldn't it be cool to see what happens if they fight each other?' So I told them to enter separately. What's the big deal?"

"No, it's not a problem," said Riku. "But I wish you would've told me first. I guess now I've got something else to look forward to tomorrow," he chuckled to himself.

"Yeah," agreed Sora. Part of him felt guilty about tricking the others, but most of him was honestly curious about the outcome of the ponies fighting each other.

Sora and Riku rejoined the others before saying, "Alright, everyone. Let's head back to the gummi ship and get some rest. It's gonna be quite the day tomorrow." In just a few short minutes, the gang left the Underworld, got back to the ship, and bedded down for the night, all wondering the same thing. What would the outcome of the tournament be? Who would win? Who would be left standing when the gloves came off and the brass knuckles came out? These questions plagued the minds of the ponies as they drifted off to sleep.

Olympus Colosseum (part 2)

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Author's note: To skip to the author's note section below when you see cues like (1) or (2), press F3 on your keyboards and type in (1) or (2). That will take you directly to the authors note section spoiler free. Enjoy. :)

"Wake up! We're gonna be late!"

Sora struggled to open his eyes as Donald yelled at everyone to wake up. Slowly, he propped himself up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. When Donald's words finally finished processing in his brain, Sora's eyes snapped wide open and he leapt from his bed before falling flat on his face. When he looked back, he realized his foot had been caught in his sheets. He pulled himself up with a groan as he heard Riku speak from his bed.

"We're not going to be late, Donald," he said as he laughed inwardly at Sora's expense. "The tournament won't start until all of the participants are ready.

"Well, the sooner we leave the better!" shouted Donald in an attempt to cover up his mistake.

"What's going on in here?" asked Twilight groggily as she stepped through the nearby door to the ponies’ rooms. "Why are you shouting, Donald?"

The duck simply shook his head in defeat and walked back to the cockpit to wait for everyone else with Goofy.

As Sora picked himself up, Twilight approached him and asked, "Does he usually wake you up like this?"

"Yeah," said Sora as he put on his shoes. "Though, in his defense, I always did oversleep a little."

After about half an hour had passed, everyone had gotten up, gotten ready, and were waiting to be teleported down from the gummi ship. Sora approached the console and set up the teleport before pressing the purple button and joining the others to be beamed down. After that, it was only a matter of going through the portal to the Underworld and awaiting the start of the tournament.

"The competitors are already here," spoke the annoyed voice of Pain. "Why are you all so late?"

"I told you we should've left sooner," said Donald.

"We got stuck," said Pinkie Pie nervously.

"In, uh, traffic!" chuckled Rainbow Dash nervously. "Stuck in traffic. You know those souls of the dead. Slower than molasses in January."

Panic raised an eyebrow questioningly before moving on. "Whatever. Everyone on the boat. We'll take you over to the colosseum."

"Do we have to do this?" asked Fluttershy. "That place looks really scary."

"It'll be fine, Fluttershy," said Sora. "We've been there plenty of times to compete. Trust me. No one is going to get hurt." Sora watched a smile of relief come from Fluttershy before everyone boarded the ship. As soon as they were on, Pain and Panic joined them and started rowing for the shore.

As they approached the lit up colosseum, Pain said, "When we get there, I'll hand you all numbers. Go through the door that matches your number and wait for further instructions."

Once the boat had arrived, Pain passed out the numbers and directed everyone to their corresponding gates. "There's a screen inside that will display the matches to you as they happen. Wait until you're called to enter the arena."

"Screens?" asked Donald.

"Yeah," added Applejack. "I thought this world hadn't discovered technology yet."

"We just call them 'screens' because they only show us the matches. They 'screen' out everything else."

"Oh," came the collective sigh of understanding from the group.

"Enter your gates and be patient. The first match will start soon," said Pain. Obeying the red demon, the others moved to their designated gates and entered through black curtains to what resembled a waiting area. In each room, there was a bench with a rock-boarded screen on the opposite wall which displayed the arena that they would all be competing in. It provided a perfect view of the arena as a whole, including the torches at its edge.

In gate number one, Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku took their seats on the bench, curious to see who would be first in the ring. After a minute of silent anticipation, the voice of a man who sounded completely burned at his job for the past week filled the room from an unseen speaker, announcing, "Groups one and four, please enter the arena." Sora took another look at his gate number, which was a calligraphic 1.

"That was fast," said Sora. "We must be the first to compete."

"But who's our opponent?" asked Riku. Leaving the soon-to-be-answered question hanging in the room, the team of four moved through their other door and into the arena.

"I guess they do have some technology," said Goofy. "It sounded like that voice come out of a speaker."

Before stepping onto the platform, Sora turned to his friends. "Why don't we start out with Donald, Riku and I?" he asked. "We'll focus more on magic for the first match. Goofy, stay on the sidelines. I'll let you know if we need you."

"Alrighty then," said Goofy as he stepped back a few feet. Sora and his team proceeded onto the platform to await the arrival of their opponent. After a few seconds, the door to gate four swung open. A large amount of smoke poured out of as a humanoid shape moved through it like a ghost.

"Hey! Why didn't we get smoke?" asked Donald, annoyed that they'd been denied such a 'cool' entrance.

When their combatant emerged, the team's jaws dropped. "Cloud?!" they exclaimed as they stared at the Ex-Soldier who stepped onto the arena platform.

"Donald, Goofy," he greeted to the new additions of Sora's group.

"What are you doing here?" asked Sora in disbelief. "I thought you were busy setting up a defense system for Traverse Town."

"We were," said Cloud. "That is, until this girl showed up and set up a barrier around the First District. We didn't know who she was, but she managed to block one of my strongest swings with it as a test. I'd say she passed."

"We?" asked Riku. "Who else came?"

"Leon, Tifa, Yuffie, and Cid. They came to compete too. Like I said, this girl's barrier is incredible, especially if it could block one of my powered swings."

"Well, I guess if you're our opponent," began Sora. He summoned his keyblade and dropped into a combat stance as he added, "then I guess you've got yourself a challenge." Riku and Donald followed suit as Cloud drew his sword off his back, preparing as well.

Tension hung like a fog in the stadium as the two faced each other down. Before long, the same glazed voice of the announcer came over the speakers. "Begin. Or, something."

Cloud was the first to move, opting to charge at Sora and his team with a crushing vertical swing from above. Sora and Riku dodged one way while Donald cast reflect, protecting himself and bouncing the damage back at Cloud who jumped back to avoid it.

Sora and Riku ran at Cloud, being careful to dodge his swings as they attempted to unleash combos against him. Every time, however, Cloud either dodged or guarded each swing and returned with an even greater one, making it difficult for Sora or Riku to land a hit without suffering for it. Meanwhile, Donald stood away from them and continued to supply Sora and Riku with Aeroga spells to protect them in case they got hit.

After a few minutes without gaining ground, Sora and Riku retreated and partnered with Donald to unleash a flurry of magic spells at Cloud with Sora casting Thunder, Riku casting Fire, and Donald casting the more shotgun-like version of Blizzard. With this tri-attack of magic, Cloud eventually lost his strength to guard and was tortured by the team's magic for nearly a minute nonstop. When their magic subsided, Cloud healed with a high potion before lifting off the ground to begin his Omni-slash attack.

Knowing they couldn't dodge it, Sora and Donald began casting reflect spells in an attempt to escape the incredible power of Cloud's limit break. Riku, however, had never fought him, so he did his best to dodge the strikes but ultimately ended up with a few attacks hitting their mark.

After the attack finished, Sora cast Cura to heal everyone before calling on Donald for help. "Donald, with me!" As Sora started gathering his light, Donald turned into a bluish light before merging with Sora. Sora lifted of the ground and watched as the hexagonal barrier formed around him. A second later, it exploded away to reveal the deep blue clothes of his Wisdom Form.

Armed with much more powerful magic (and a full restock of the stuff), he began firing higher powered magic pellets at the expense of a little bit of magic, each homing in on Cloud before impacting and breaking through his guard. While Cloud was stunned, Sora slid over to him and smacked him a few times with his magic charged keyblade before leaping away and casting Thundaga, raining pain on Cloud as was struck repeatedly.

After Sora retreated again, he turned to Riku. "Why don't you join us?" he said he held out his free hand to his friend. Riku smiled and took it, transforming into pure light before diffusing into Sora to transform him into his Final Form, granting him Riku's keyblade as his second.

With his entire arsenal overclocked, Sora rocketed towards the still recovering Cloud and attacked him relentlessly with his two keyblades, knocking him into the air and unleashing a storm of attacks on him while he was defenseless. This continued for only a short time before Cloud took a desperate swing and knocked Sora away, giving him time to touch down and heal with an elixir.

Not stalling a moment, Sora began his barrage of ranged attacks with his keyblades, commanding them to fly at Cloud and strike him from every direction. All Cloud could do was block as many strikes as possible before the impossibly fast blades caught up with him and knocked him into the air again.

"Is that the best you can do, Cloud?" taunted Sora as his keyblades continued their assault.

"Not even remotely," said Cloud. His speed began to gradually increase as he blocked more and more of Sora's keyblades' attacks. Finally, he got to the point where he could block them all.

"How is he moving that fast?" asked Riku in astonishment as he saw through Sora's eyes the blinding speed at which Cloud guarded while still hanging in the air.

"I have no idea," said Sora, noticing that his speech nearly failed him. Before long, Cloud was nearly touching the top of the Underdrome, still rising as he continued to guard. When he reached its peak, he swung against one of the keyblades, stopping it in midair and allowing him to grab it with one of his hands. He used it to halt the other and hook his sword to his back before grabbing the second one as well. Twirling them above his head, he spun in midair and threw the keyblades straight down at Sora like bullets. Sora quickly jumped out of the way to avoid his keyblades-turned-projectiles before retrieving them from their position stuck in the floor. As soon as he dislodged the second one, he saw Cloud land in front of him, pull back his arms, and swing his buster sword hard, cutting Sora across the chest and throwing him across the arena.

As Sora picked himself up, he cast Curaga on himself and stared Cloud down. "That was pretty cool," he said.

"Thanks," responded Cloud with a small smile. "If you liked that, you'll love this." Cloud's sword suddenly began glowing blue as he began jabbing at Sora like a living spear, executing his Sonic Blade skill. Sora did his best to guard or dodge the attacks, but he was met with failure several times as Cloud's attacks connected.

After a couple of Sonic Blades, Sora stopped dodging and sent his keyblades to either side of Cloud. He took both the hits, though, and continued his attack, scoring hit after hit against Sora. As Sora was pushed to the edge, Riku's keyblade suddenly leaped at Cloud and struck his sword, sending it into the ground and lodging it there.

Before Cloud could fully dislodge it, Sora regained his balance, grabbed his keyblade, and swung at Cloud hard, knocking both him and his sword towards the opposite end of the arena. As Cloud recovered, he sneered and used another elixir, fully recovering his strength.

"This is pointless if he keeps using items like this," came Riku's voice from inside Sora's head. "We need to find some way to cut off his supply."

"I'll get right on that," came Donald's voice deviously.

"I'll try to avoid his attacks, then," said Sora. "We need to stay linked as long as possible."

As Sora made an effort to dodge and counter Cloud's attacks, Twilight watched in awe from her waiting room. She was fascinated at the fluidity of Sora's movements and the coordination that he had with his team. After all, they'd been separated for a while now and already it was as if Donald had never left his side. Had she seen their transformations in the past, she would've noticed an impressively long time to stay linked during combat.

After a few minutes of constant dodging and countering, Sora began to tire. "How's that plan going, Donald?" he asked aloud in desperation.

"I got it," said Donald back. "We either have to drain his strength and force him to use up all of his items, or we have to find a way to take them from him. I bet if we use Stopza on him, we can just pick-pocket him."

Sora back flipped high into the air and threw his keyblades at Cloud, knocking away his sword to allow him to come back down and kick him before commanding his blades back to him and retreating. "I don't know," said Sora. "That seems kind of underhanded."

"I wish we didn't have to," said Riku, "but I think it's our best bet of ending the fight quickly."

"*sigh* If you say so," said Sora apprehensively. He suddenly stopped retreating and held up his keyblades in defense against Cloud. When their blades clashed, Sora threw Riku's keyblade behind him and commanded it to strike Cloud in the back while he continued guarding with his own. "Which are you gonna guard?" asked Sora, hoping Cloud would take the bait.

He silently thanked whatever god was watching as Cloud grunted in frustration and turned away to protect himself. As soon as he did, Sora called out, "Stopza!" and froze time. He left his keyblade hanging suspended in midair as he touched down and approached Cloud. "Sorry about this," he said as if the Ex-Soldier could hear him. "I promise I'll give them back."

Sora dug through Cloud's pockets until he found what he was looking for; ten elixirs all primed and ready to be used on a moment's notice. "This could have gone on ages if we didn't pick them up now," said Riku as Sora removed them and stashed them in his inventory.

"Yeah," replied Sora. He stepped back into place and continued hovering before commanding "Stopza," again to 'restart' time. Cloud was still in position to guard, but he couldn't protect himself from Sora's swing at him.

As Riku's keyblade made contact with the buster sword, Sora's keyblade impacted hard against Cloud's back, knocking him forward onto the floor. Sora gave him a second to stand back up, much against the advice of Donald as he released his drive form. As Donald and Riku reappeared, Cloud said, "That was useless. I'll just heal with my-"

He suddenly stopped when he dug into his pocket and realized it was empty. "My, uh," he stammered as he stuck his sword into the floor to check the other pockets. "Where'd they go?!"

"Looking for these?" teased Sora as he swung the stolen elixirs on a string by his side. That earned a glare from Cloud who pulled out his sword and charged at the team. Sora rushed forward to meet him, jumped in the air and spun before bringing his keyblade down on his weakened foe, stopping him in his tracks and ending the fight.

While Cloud struggled to stand again, Sora used one of Cloud's elixirs to heal him before tossing them back. "That was a little bit cheap, don't you think?" asked Cloud.

"Yeah, sorry about that," apologized Sora. He tossed a mega-elixir above his head to heal his team before shaking Cloud's hand. "You did great."

"So did you," responded Cloud before hooking his sword to his back and turning to walk back to his gate.

"Sora's team is the victor. Team one, please return to your gate to await your next match," came the bored voice of the announcer. Sora and his team obeyed and returned to their room where they took a seat on the bench and faced the screen.

While a short break was allowed for the the teams before the next match, Sora's communication headset materialized on his head before he heard static immediately followed by Fluttershy's voice.

"Sora?" she asked. "Can you hear me?"

Sora put a hand up to his ear to secure the headset and put the call on speaker before responding. "Loud and clear. What's up?"

"I don't feel right, Sora," she said worriedly. "I know I don't want to fight, but I'm starting to want to. What's going on?"

"You're fine," said Sora back. "You're just getting excited. That's all."

"I guess I have wanted to show my friends that I can fight," she answered apprehensively.

"But you showed us back in Traverse Town, remember?"

"I guess, but I got hurt and scared all of you. I want to prove that I'm not just a burden, but I don't think fighting is the way to do it."

"It's not that you're fighting. It's what you're fighting for that matters. Find a reason to fight, and you'll be fine," reassured Sora.

"Okay," she said back. "I'll try. Thanks, Sora," she finished with a renewed sense of purpose.

"Don't mention it," he said back before dismissing the headset.

"That's weird," said Riku. "Fluttershy is excited about fighting? I thought she hated conflict."

"I might have had something to do with that, too," said Sora as he put his hands behind his head in relaxation.

"What're you talking about?" asked Donald.

"Before we all ate, I slipped some High Drive Recovery into their food. I thought it might help them get over fighting each other and give them more energy."

"You drugged them?!" asked Riku in shock. "I mean, I don't think that Drive Recovery could really be a drug, but still. Why?"

"Like I just said," said Sora in his defense, "I didn't want the fact that they could hurt each other to distract them from really giving it their all."

"But what if they take it too far?" asked Riku. "Rainbow Dash and Applejack already seem competitive enough. What's gonna happen to them?"

"I didn't say I 'drugged' all of them," said Sora. "I only used the High Drive Recovery on Fluttershy, Twilight, and Rarity. They're the only ones that needed the encouragement."

"There is something seriously wrong with you," said Riku, almost sounding serious.

"Let's just watch," responded Sora lightheartedly. "The next match is going to start soon."

The intercom crackled to life as the announcer said, "Fighters 7 and 9, please enter the arena." All waited patiently to see who would emerge from their gates. As the two doors opened, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie were the two to step out.

"This is gonna be good," said Riku. "The out of control party animal versus the shy and reserved."

"A battle of the opposites," said Sora. "But who's gonna come out on top?"

As the two friends entered the arena, Fluttershy was the first to speak. "Pinkie Pie?" she asked as if she couldn't believe who she was supposed to fight.

"Yes sirree bob!" responded the pink pony. "Who did you think I was?"

"But, that can't be right," said Fluttershy to herself. "I don't want to fight you."

"Neither do I," said Pinkie excitedly. "Fighting me would be a drag. Don't worry, though. I'll go easy on you," she finished as she summoned her keyblade.

Fluttershy turned away and looked to where she thought the voice was coming from. "Um, Mr. Announcer? Do we have to fight?"

"Why did you sign up for the tournament separately? Didn't you realize that you might end up fighting each other?" said the announcer. Twilight sat in her room watching the scene unfold as she too suddenly picked up on what was going on. That dirty-! Sora had set them all up to fight each other! That was why he'd made them sign up individually. She was nearly too distracted by her train of thought to watch what was going on in the arena.

Fluttershy was shaking as she turned to face Pinkie Pie. She gulped once before her headset suddenly materialized on her head. Her ears were suddenly filled the voices of her friends. Even Pinkie Pie had equipped hers and was talking. They all said, "You can do it, Fluttershy!" or "I believe in you!"

Their words moved her to tears as a solitary drop ran down her cheek. She smiled as she said back, "Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much." She dismissed her headset as she focused back on Pinkie. She summoned her keyblade and held it to her side as she crouched slightly into a combat stance. "I'm ready now. And I won't hold back," she said with courage in her voice.

"Then neither will I!" said Pinkie with just as much enthusiasm. "Get ready!"

The battle between combatants number 7 and 9 will begin... now!" said a much more energetic announcer over the intercom. "Don't hold anything back, and give it your all!"

Fluttershy began by casting a strange cure spell on herself. The flower that bloomed over her fell and covered her body before exploding away to reveal a ghostly green glow around the yellow pegasus.

"A regeneration spell," commented Sora to his team. "That's gonna keep her going for a while."

"Already, she's taking the least violent approach," said Riku. "That's something to admire."

"Yeah," agreed Sora.

On the battlefield, Pinkie Pie pointed her keyblade at Fluttershy and shouted "Fire!" launching a ball of flame at Fluttershy who blocked with her keyblade before running at her pink friend and swinging her keyblade. Pinkie easily guarded it, but didn't expect the follow-up swings by Fluttershy, catching her off guard and inflicting some decent damage.

As Pinkie Pie stumbled to recover, Fluttershy took the opportunity to get in a few extra swings. She then jumped back to give her friend a chance to stand back up.

"You should have kept hitting me while I was down," said Pinkie Pie. "If you had, you might have been able to stop this!” Pinkie Pie suddenly pulled her party cannon out of nowhere, loaded her keyblade in the barrel, and fired it at Fluttershy. When she held up her keyblade in defense, Pinkie's keyblade knocked it aside. While Fluttershy was open, Pinkie summoned her keyblade back to her hoof and knocked Fluttershy to the ground before casting Thunder on her.

Fluttershy winced slightly as she crackled with static. Standing back up, she healed herself with Cure before taking a couple more cautious swings at Pinkie Pie who guarded them effortlessly and countered without hesitation. Fluttershy did her best to guard the counterattack, but a few swings hit her inevitably and they stung her like an angry wasp.

The battle continued on this way for a little while, each pony trading jabs and swings with their keyblades in an attempt to wear the other down. Pretty soon though, Pinkie Pie became more aggressive and she began to partner her attacks with bursts of Fire or Blizzard spells. That staggered her attack pattern and helped to keep Fluttershy from guessing her moves.

Fluttershy, on the other hand, began to take more of an assertive fighting style, taking more risks with her attacks in favor of time and power. A few of these 'stronger' swings connected and inflicted some strong damage on her friend, for which she apologized each time.

Eventually, Pinkie turned completely to a magic based fighting style, using as many Thunder and Blizzard spells as she could. Fluttershy could do little to protect herself, but slowly, she began to develop a Reflect spell to save herself from most of the damage. When she finally accomplished a complete one, the bolt of lightning Pinkie had summoned bounced off of her shield and shot straight at the party pony, knocking her back and leaving her stunned.

"So now Fluttershy can perform the Reflect spell," said Riku to himself. "She's developing a lot faster than I expected."

Taking this opportunity, Fluttershy flew into the sky and dove straight for her friend, silently praying to Celestia that she didn't hurt her too much. She made a strong impact on Pinkie Pie, jabbing her in the stomach and forcing the air from her lungs as she lay on the ground. Fluttershy immediately withdrew and gave Pinkie another chance to stand.

"Why do you keep doing that?" rasped Pinkie as she stood and tried to fill her lungs with air. "You wouldn't do that to the heartless, would you?"

"Maybe to them," said Fluttershy calmly, "but not you. Even if we are fighting, I want it to be a clean and fair one, not a battle of tricks and sneaky moves."

"That's pretty honorable, Fluttershy," said Pinkie as she finished recovering. "But honor isn't going to help you beat me!" Pinkie screamed the last sentence as darkness erupted around her. Her colors darkened and her eyes turned a golden hue as she charged Fluttershy.

The yellow pegasus immediately held up her keyblade in defense and fear, only to have it knocked away before she was bombarded with blow after crushing blow. As Fluttershy sustained a heavy beating from the now 'transformed' Pinkie Pie, Sora shot up from his bench in their room. "What's she doing?!" he yelled.

"That's a lot of darkness," said Riku. "Way more than anyone should have, especially at her level." Darkness continued pouring out of Pinkie Pie as if she'd been split down the middle, the black energy spreading into the air. "We have to find some way to stop it."

"Just how bad is it?" asked Goofy.

"While I was in the dark realm, I got a good sense for detecting high levels of darkness. Pinkie Pie is putting out more darkness than any kind of entity I've seen before, maybe even more than Xehanort." Sora looked down to his friend whose fists were clenched and shaking. "We need to stop them. Now."

"But what can we do from here?" asked Sora in desperation. "The doors automatically seal. There's no way to get to them!"

As Sora desperately racked his brain for a solution, his headset materialized around his head. "Roxas," came Twilight's voice over the com. "Use Roxas. He isn't competing, so he can't be disqualified if it's against the rules for us to help."

"That's brilliant," said Riku. "Sora, I'm sorry."

"Sorry for wha-" Sora couldn't finish his sentence before Riku's keyblade impacted him hard, sending him careening across the small room and into the wall.

As he lost consciousness, the ethereal form of Roxas materialized in the room as he was freed from Sora. Before he could fully appear, Riku reached forward, grabbed him by the front of his cloak with his concentrated light, causing Roxas' eyes to snap open in surprise, and spun, throwing him through the door to the other side. His cloak had materialized enough to be caught on the door while Roxas went tumbling through to crash on the other side. Underneath his cloak, he still wore his clothes from Twilight town, and his two keyblades had appeared next to him.

As he struggled to stand up, he could make out what looked like Pinkie Pie smacking around Fluttershy like a rag doll. (1) "Not good," he said as he stood up and grabbed his keyblades. In a matter of seconds, he was on the field, jumping toward Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie to intercept Pinkie's attacks.

"Hey!" came the announcer's voice. "You're not supposed to interfere with the match!"

Right as Pinkie Pie's now darkness-charged keyblade was about to strike Fluttershy, Roxas used his Oblivion keyblade to stop the attack while he cast Cure on Fluttershy with the Oathkeeper. He immediately followed up with Zero Gravity to keep Fluttershy levitating so she could recover before bringing around the Oathkeeper to knock Pinkie Pie away from them.

As Roxas released Fluttershy, they both touched down on the far side of the arena away from the darkness-possessed Pinkie Pie. Roxas tossed an elixir back to Fluttershy, healing her as she stood up. "You okay?" he asked the weakened pegasus.

"I think so," she said. When she finally got a good look at Pinkie Pie, she gasped. "What's happening to her?!"

"I don't know," said Roxas as he thought. "Those eyes, though..." As he looked into the eyes of Pinkie, he immediately recognized the gold color. "Xehanort."

"Who's Xehanort?" asked the deranged Pinkie in a distorted voice. "I'm Pinkie Pie, remember?"

"But how does that work?" asked Roxas. "He can't be here. If he's still in the dark realm, then there's no way he could be here, much less a piece of his heart. Unless something happened to the others."

"What are you talking about?" asked Fluttershy.

"I'll explain later. Or Sora will. For now, we need to save your friend." He looked at Pinkie Pie with a focused stair. "She's being controlled by her inner darkness. We need to help her find her light again."

"But how will we do that?" asked Fluttershy sheepishly. "And how do you know what's going on?" she asked, her voice now more desperate for understanding.

"I have no idea," said Roxas, completely ignoring the last question. "She's your friend, right? Try talking to her." As Roxas finished speaking, Pinkie Pie charged at them, swinging her keyblade rapidly from side to side. Roxas used his dual keyblades to defend Fluttershy while she thought of what she could say or do to help her insane friend.

Without thinking, Fluttershy dashed towards Pinkie Pie and swung as hard as she could, knocking her away from Roxas and destroying part of the darkness surrounding her. As Pinkie's body collided with the ground a few yards away, Roxas yelled, "I said talk to her, not knock her upside the head!"

"Oh, sorry," said Fluttershy in embarrassment.

When Roxas looked back to Pinkie Pie, he noticed a significantly smaller amount of darkness surrounding the mare. "Wait a minute..." he said to himself. "You were thinking about what you could say to help her, right?"

"Yes. Why?" asked Fluttershy with a slight tilt of her head.

"That's it!" said Roxas as a realized a solution. "Your heart is in the right place. We have to fight her to help her. Think about how much you want to save your friend. Focus on how much of a friend she is to you, and put that feeling into each swing!"

As Roxas crouched into a combat stance, Fluttershy asked, "But how do you know that will work? And how do I do that?"

"I don't know," he said with a small chuckle as he charged Pinkie. He swung both of his keyblades hard and threw her into the magical barrier around the stadium, cracking it as a little bit more darkness disappeared around Pinkie Pie.

"Oh, I don't like this," said Fluttershy nervously as she moved over to him to help.

Roxas knocked Pinkie into the air as he called behind him to Fluttershy. "Don't let her touch the ground! We have to stop her now!"

"Right," said Fluttershy determinedly. From then on, all Fluttershy and Roxas had to do was 'juggle' Pinkie Pie, doing their best not to let her touch down. The whole time, the abuse that Fluttershy was dealing to her friend plagued her heart. The only thing that allowed her to continue was the thought that she was somehow helping her friend. But even as the darkness continued to break away, she couldn't help but let a few silent tears loose.

After almost five minutes of nonstop 'juggling', Pinkie Pie suddenly righted herself in midair, grabbed her party cannon, and blasted both Roxas and Fluttershy away across the arena. They both went rolling away on the floor before crashing into the arena's magical barrier. Roxas, who had taken most of the blast, quickly jumped up before looking down at himself. "Confetti?" he muttered as he saw a bunch of the colored paper stuck all over him.

"Not just any confetti," said Pinkie Pie grimly as she touched back down on the arena. The pieces of paper suddenly jumped from Roxas' body and began spinning around him at an alarming speed, forming a whirlwind of color. He did his best to track all of the pieces with his eyes until they suddenly stopped rotating and flew at him. In a flurry of color, Roxas was struck endlessly by tiny blades of confetti, tearing him apart as he screamed in pain.

As Roxas endured the constant barrage of attacks, Fluttershy could only lay on the ground and watch, wanting nothing more than to run and hide from her possessed friend and the entire conflict altogether. It took her a minute, but the weight of the situation suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. Here she was, lying helplessly on the arena floor while Roxas, a part of her friend, was being ruthlessly torn apart by Pinkie Pie's confetti of death. And to make matters worse, the darkness surrounding Pinkie Pie was returning, strengthening the confetti to deal more damage.

Fearing for both of her friends' lives, she ignored her previous fear as she picked up her keyblade and summoned a Reflect spell around Roxas, halting the colorful pieces of paper-doom and sending them back at Pinkie who caught them in her party cannon, ready to fire again.

"And what do we have here?" asked Pinkie with a sick tilt of her head. "Are you trying to help your friend?" she said as she aimed the cannon at Fluttershy before continuing, "because it won't work!"

"But it will," said Fluttershy, finding confidence in her ability to protect Roxas. "I care too much about you both to let something like this happen. Pinkie Pie, I'm sorry, but I have to stop you right now!" she yelled.

Fluttershy's clothes suddenly began glowing green as an equal hue of green geometric patterns spread from her like the shock wave of an explosion(2). Her keyblade unraveled and the vines shot into the arena, anchoring Fluttershy's keyblade to the ground. As Pinkie stared at Fluttershy in confusion, a large, twisting green vine erupted from underneath her and launched her into the air. Before she could recover, two more vines came from opposite directions to sandwich her in between and hold her in mid-air while I third arced from above and slammed her into the ground again, cracking the arena slightly.

As Pinkie struggled to stand, the four vines that had just finished attacking her coiled at the ground where they'd emerged before rocketing toward her, grabbing her and twisting her into the air again to hang her in place. While she hung, held hostage by the four massive vines, Fluttershy tore her keyblade from the arena floor and jumped up to her trapped friend before saying in almost a whisper, "I'm sorry."

As soon as the words left her mouth, her keyblade doubled in size and she swung it as hard as she could through the air, impacting Pinkie Pie and knocking her out of the vines' clutches and through the magical barrier, destroying it and filling the room with the sound of shattering glass. Pinkie was sent spinning like a bullet to impact hard against the floor of the outer-arena before coming to a complete stop, the darkness finally fading from her completely as Fluttershy's light show ended as well.

Roxas dismissed his keyblades as he let out a sigh of exhaustion. "That could have gone better," he said.

Fluttershy glided over to him, both looking over at Pinkie Pie as she started to get up. Her eyes were rolling in her head as she asked, "Ow, what happened?" Her eyes had regained their color and her voice was no longer distorted and twisted like before. "Oh, hi Roxas!" she said cheerfully when she noticed Sora's other half. "What are you doing here?"

"It's best if you have Riku explain it to you. He's got more experience with your... encounter," he answered.

"Okay," said Pinkie, slightly disappointed at the gap in her memory. "So who won?"

The voice of the announcer crackled over the intercom. "Um, we don't know. Interfering with a match should disqualify you, but you don't seem to be in our roster. What did you say your name was?"

"Roxas," he said out loud.

"Ok, Roxas," said the announcer slowly to get the name right. "Normally, we'd steal your soul and trap it here for all eternity," he said nonchalantly. "But it seems you don't have a heart to take." A wave of sadness hit Roxas as he was reminded of his half existence. "So, I guess we'll proceed as normal. Leave the arena and we'll declare a victor.

Roxas nodded to where he thought the voice was coming from before shutting his eyes and bidding his return back to Sora. In a matter of seconds, he diffused into pure light before completely disappearing, reawakening back in Sora's team room. As soon as he returned, the announcer's voice sounded throughout the colosseum saying, "The winner is Fluttershy!"

"That was impressive," said Riku as soon as the announcer was done.

"Not as impressive as it's gonna be when you explain what happened to Pinkie Pie," shot Roxas back, a darker tone in his voice.

"Hey, what's wrong?" asked Riku, confused at Roxas' sudden harshness. "Did something happen during the battle?"

"I'm fine," said Roxas back, attempting to dodge the question before he summoned his Oathkeeper and healed Sora with a Cure spell. Before Riku could press him further, he had reunited with Sora who was beginning to stand up off the ground.

"You didn't have to knock me out," said Sora as he rubbed his sore head.

"Sorry, but we were short on time," said Riku plainly, as if it should be obvious. "How are you feeling?"

"Aside from a concussion, just fine."

The headset that was still on Sora's head buzzed to life as Twilight's voice came through the speaker. "Is Pinkie Pie okay?" she asked worriedly.

"I'm not sure," said Sora back, drawing a choking gasp from Twilight. "I'm sure she's fine, though. We'll have Riku take a look at her when we're done."

"If you say so," said Twilight doubtfully before she cut the signal. Sora dismissed his headset before turning back to Riku.

"We have to find a better way to communicate at a distance," said Sora. "This thing keeps popping up on my head whenever I get contacted."

"Why don't we ask Cid to look into it in Traverse Town?" asked Riku. "Maybe he could make us some kind of Bluetooth devices that are smaller."

"That sounds a lot better," said Sora. As he sat down on the bench, he asked, "So who do you think is up next?"

As soon as Sora finished speaking, the announcer spoke over the intercom again, saying, "Competitors 8 and 5, please step forward."

In her room, Twilight doubled checked her card which had a 5 on it. "Guess it's my turn," she thought to herself. She was shaking with anticipation and fear. While part of her wanted to prove her strength to Sora and Riku, she greatly feared not knowing who her opponent was. "I should have checked what the others' numbers were," she said to herself in frustration.

Her door slid open and she apprehensively took a few steps out. When she looked over at the other doors, she saw Rarity taking a few similar steps out of her room. "Rarity?" asked Twilight. "You're my opponent?"

"I suppose I am," said Rarity back, with a hint of surprise in her voice. "However did that happen?"

"I don't know," said Twilight. "I feel like they're just picking these numbers at random. But they have to have some kind of organization."

After a moment of silence, Rarity asked, "Shall we?"

Twilight sighed before saying, "I guess we have no choice." She inwardly cursed Sora again for tricking them. Though strangely, Twilight was beginning to warm up to the idea of a good fight. That scared her, but she went with it. Even as she looked over at Rarity stepping through the barrier, she began to formulate strategies in her mind about how to deal with her opponent's defensive magic and how to counter her heavier swings. Should she try a disabling spell, or would it be better to use one that slowed the flow of time a little bit? In fact, could she even do a spell like that in the middle of a fight?

She and Rarity both summoned their keyblades as she continued thinking.

Her train of thought was soon interrupted as the announcer came back over the intercom. "The match between combatants 5 and 8 will begin... now!" he shouted.

On cue, Rarity cast Protect on herself and followed up with a Reflect spell to stop Twilight's Fire spell that she'd discharged, bouncing it off of the shield and into the barrier to disappear. Twilight immediately followed up with a Thunder spell, shocking Rarity before Twilight rushed in and landed a few solid hits with her keyblade, the damage greatly reduced, however, by the Protect spell..

Sora and Riku's jaws dropped as they watched. "What's going on?!" said Sora in surprise. "We only taught them a couple of spells. How can they do all that?!"

"Maybe it has to do with them being unicorns," said Riku as he came down from his initial shock. "They've probably been using magic their entire lives. If I had to guess, I'd say it's second nature. I think it's safe to say that our magic isn't too much different from theirs."

Sora thought on that for a moment. "That's weird, though," he persisted. "Our magic is completely different from theirs. From what I've seen, Twilight has the best time with spacial spells like teleporting or levitation. So why can she manipulate elemental magic so well?"

Sora's attention was drawn back to the match as he saw Twilight get knocked onto her back by the energy from one of Rarity's Reflect spells. She stood up and faced Rarity again. "You're pretty good with that spell," said Twilight. "When have you had time to practice that?"

"I haven't," said Rarity as if it should be obvious. "This is the first time I've used it in a while. I don't know what's gotten into me, but I like it!" Rarity suddenly went on the offensive, charging at Twilight and swinging her keyblade in a wide arc. She got too close too fast for Twilight to dodge, so she gritted her teeth and took the hit, getting launched once again across the arena. It took her longer, but she finally managed to stand up straight.

Before she could completely recover, Twilight received several more devastating blows from Rarity before she was knocked straight up into the air only to fall straight back down and impact the arena floor hard. As she finally regained her ability to stand up straight, she quickly cast Cure before Rarity could hit her again and she sidestepped as Rarity's keyblade came down where she just was, getting lodged in the floor.

While Rarity tugged on it, Twilight stepped toward her and swung at her hard, knocking her away from her keyblade. While Rarity took her turn to recover, Twilight dislodged Rarity's keyblade and began holding both at once with her magic. Without missing a beat, she ran at Rarity, swinging wildly with the two keyblades, knocking Rarity left and right, over and over. After a full minute of abuse, Twilight finished by jumping back and launching both of the keyblades at Rarity with her magic. Charged with Twilight's power, both of the keyblades exploded in a ball of fire on impact before reforming and returning to their masters.

While Twilight jumped back and cast Cure a few more times to fully heal, Rarity attempted again to stand. She was cut and bruised in several places, but that seemed to drop to the back of her mind when she saw her mane. To put it lightly...

"You ruined my mane!" screamed Rarity at the top of her lungs in anger. Truth be told, only the ends were slightly singed, but other than tangling it slightly, there were no other changes. "Do you know how long it's going to take me to fix this?!" Her breathing became ragged, uncontrolled rasps, seeping pure anger from her voice. "Okay then, Miss Sparkle," she said as she attempted to gain composure. "The gloves are coming off!"

Before Twilight could tell her that she'd barely singed it, Rarity's clothes lit up with a similar glow to Fluttershy's, though hers were glowing light blue instead of green and her glowing magic spreading around her took more jagged and sharper shapes. Her keyblade suddenly doubled in size before it shattered apart into tiny fragments that filled the air and hung there like floating petals. Twilight took one of these shards in her magic and, upon further inspection, found that they were shards of clear crystal.

"Do you like them?" asked Rarity with interest. "They look like they're made of my keyblade. Why do you suppose that is?" As Twilight studied the piece she now held in her hoof, she found that it was cutting into her. She didn't know how, but just by gently holding it, the shard began splitting her skin. She immediately recoiled and took it in her magic again to keep studying it.

An idea found its way into her head and she voiced it right away. "Remember when those fairies said that our clothes had some kind of special power?" she asked rhetorically. "Maybe this is what they were talking about. Fluttershy's was to grow those huge vines, and yours must be these crystals!" She clapped in excitement a few times. Her elation quickly faded, though, when she realized the final piece of the puzzle. "But if Fluttershy's was some kind of attack, then does that mean..." She trailed off when she refocused on Rarity to find that the shards had begun gathering around the white mare, all glowing from within with a light blue color as they aimed at Twilight.

"You're right," said Rarity. "I think this is attack as well!" she finished with a smile of victory. As the last few shards came into place, they immediately launched forward at Twilight, riddling her with cuts and scratches up and down, pounding relentlessly like a hail of bullets. Over and over Twilight was struck, until all of the shards had passed. She'd fallen to the ground under the impossible number of projectiles. But as she stood back up, Rarity said gloatingly to her, "Behind you, darling." Twilight immediately spun to find the shards turning right back toward her. She turned and bolted in the other direction, but the attack was too fast. It caught up to her in seconds, knocking her back to the ground as she was struck again by each one. With each hit, the shards shattered and returned to Rarity, who was now holding just the handle of her keyblade as the gems returned to rebuild it.

Rarity watched with a smile on her face at the impressive strength of her attack. While she felt that Twilight deserved what she got for 'destroying' her hair, she inwardly cringed at the sight of her hurt friend.

She walked over to Twilight as her keyblade finished reforming, driving it into the arena floor next to her. "This battle is over," she said as she smiled with victory.

Rarity suddenly gasped as she heard a voice behind her say, "Not quite."

"What the-" She spun around to look at where the voice had come from only to be met with the end of a keyblade connecting with her chin. She was launched back nearly 10 yards before crashing to the arena floor. As she tried to stand up, she turned to her assailant to find Twilight standing behind where she just was only moments before. "How did you..." That was when her eyes fell on what she thought was Twilight, lying in a heap and covered in cuts.

The Twilight on the ground started disappearing slowly, fading into darkness and sinking into the floor. "Doppelganger spell," said Twilight triumphantly. "Chapter Five of Advanced Combat Spells for Unicorns." She smirked when Rarity tried to stand but fell flat on her face again. "You used too much power with that attack, and it left you vulnerable," said Twilight. She turned around to look into the darkness of the outer arena and started trying to talk to the announcer. "Is the match over?" she asked openly.

The intercom came alive again as the announcer said, "That's up to contestant number 8. If she concedes or falls unconscious, then that decides the match."

Twilight turned back around with the smirk of victory on her face. "So what do you say, Rarity? Are we done?" she finished, her expression softening.

Rarity smiled back and hung her head. "I suppose we are," she said. Twilight healed her with a Cure spell as she finally stood up, saying, "I'll concede defeat. This was getting old, anyway." Twilight chuckled slightly at her friend's attempt to save her pride.

"Then that's that," said the announcer. "The winner is Twilight Sparkle!" Twilight cast cure a few more times on Rarity, just to make sure that she was okay, and then walked her back to her gate. As Rarity sat down inside, the door shut and Twilight returned to her gate to rest and watch the next match.

"That was really short," commented Sora.

"Of course," said Riku. "They're both talented with magic. Did you notice the intensity of their spells? Just a couple of hits would've wiped them out in a second. It's only natural the battle was so short."

After waiting for a few seconds, the announcer said over the intercom, "Contestants 2 and 3, please step forward!" All eyes were glued to their screens as two gates opened in the arena. Out of the first stepped Rainbow Dash, her keyblade already over her shoulder as she stepped into the arena barrier. The second contestant was Applejack, hesitantly taking a few steps out of the gate before realizing her rainbow maned friend was her opponent. As soon as she discovered that, she smiled and ran into the barrier before summoning her keyblade as well.

"Ya know RD, I was kinda hopin' I'd get to fight you in the tournament," said Applejack as she continued to smile.

"Same here," said Rainbow Dash as she returned the competitive smile. "Maybe we never found out who was the fastest, but now, we can find out who's the strongest!" She finished as she crouched into a combat stance, her keyblade in her right fore hoof.

"I agree," said Applejack. "Why don't we give our friends watchin' somethin' to see?" she smirked.

"Yeah," replied Rainbow Dash. "Let's."

Rainbow Dash immediately unleashed several Blizzard spells while Applejack dodged them and ran for Rainbow Dash's blind spot. Before Applejack could land a hit, Rainbow Dash took to the air and dove straight back down. Applejack quickly pulled up her keyblade to guard the attack, deflecting it and Rainbow Dash away.

Rainbow touched back down on the ground before running at Applejack again, swinging her keyblade against her friend's and causing a small amount of sparks to jump as the two blades ground together. Applejack found the strength to overpower her friend as she pushed back hard enough to push Rainbow Dash away. While Rainbow staggered to regain her balance, Applejack rushed in and delivered a hard strike to her face.

Rainbow immediately recoiled in pain as she took a few steps back, allowing Applejack to score even more strikes before jumping back herself. "Let's hope it works this time," she said under her breath as she prepared her spell. She thrust her keyblade above her head before calling out, "Magnet!" The spell burst to life over her head and, to her satisfaction, it began pulling Rainbow Dash to her. Eventually, her damaged friend hung suspended over Applejack as she unleashed even more hits, not giving Rainbow Dash even a second to recover.

When she was satisfied that she'd landed as many hits as possible, she jumped back before the spell faded and gave Rainbow Dash a chance to stand up. As soon as Rainbow was standing, she gathered as much magic into her keyblade as possible before unleashing a larger Blizzard spell at Applejack. The spell's name 'Blizzara' hung in her mind for a second before fading as the spell made contact.

Applejack froze on the spot, encased in a large, durable hunk of ice as Rainbow Dash trotted over to her. "Not so tough now, are you?" teased Rainbow Dash as she snickered at her frozen friend. What she didn't see were Applejack's eyes moving and focusing on her. The ice suddenly shattered when Applejack twisted her keyblade, breaking it into massive chunks. Rainbow managed to fly back to avoid the attack she thought was coming, only to realize that it was a trick to put distance between herself and Applejack.

After Rainbow Dash had gotten a few yards away, Applejack spun around and bucked one of the massive chunks of ice with her hind legs, sending it rocketing toward Rainbow Dash. Before she could dodge, the large hunk of frozen water crashed into Rainbow Dash, knocking her out of the sky. As soon as she hit the ground, Applejack fired the remaining ice chunks as well causing them to crash into the downed pegasus.

After she was done, Rainbow Dash attempted to stand, wobbling and leaning on her keyblade for support.

Meanwhile, Sora, Donald, and Goofy were watching with fascination. "Sora?" said Riku. "I wanted to ask you something."

"Sure. What is it?"

"Do you remember when we arrived in Equestria? Something was wrong with our magic. We couldn't use our strongest spells, and we almost failed because of it. Even that Power Armor almost beat us, and that thing was a pushover when I fought it the first time. Don't you think it's weird just how fast we got all of our abilities back?"

"Hm, I guess you're right," said Sora as he thought about it. "We did seem to get them back pretty quickly."

"Why do you think that is?" asked Riku.

"Maybe it has to do with them," he said as he looked at the screen to Applejack and Rainbow Dash as Rainbow was struck with the large chunks of ice. "Remember, they're the elements of harmony. According to Celestia, that's the most powerful light magic in their world. After the battles that we've gone through together, maybe that light reacted with us somehow."

"That makes sense," said Riku as he thought more about it. "But what about how we lost them in the first place?"

"Don't you remember what happened in the dark realm?" asked Sora, mildly surprised, though Riku couldn't tell why.


"Hang in there, Ven." Aqua urged her friend forward, though she knew he could barely stand. Even after all of his journeying those 13 years ago, he still couldn't keep up with Terra or Aqua. The latter was currently working to motivate her friend while Riku, Terra, and Lea pushed ahead. Sora was shortly behind Ventus, though he tried not to show how much the dark realm's evil was affecting him.

"I don't know how much longer I can go," said Ven as he fell to his knees, his keyblade slipping out of his hand. "The darkness here is too much, especially this deep."

"I'm feeling it too," said Sora as he leaned on his keyblade like a walking stick. "The place that Riku and I were was nothing compared to this. I feel like my heart is being dragged out of me."

"Come on," said Aqua reassuringly. "You're both strong enough to do this. And besides, we need to meet up with the King soon. We're near the rendezvous point."

"How can you even keep track of a place you've never been? This whole place is like a giant maze!" said Sora in astonishment. He then remembered that Aqua had spent the past 13 years of her life in the dark prison of a realm. He received no response, so he guessed that it was just an acquired sense of direction. Doing his best to stand, he pushed onward, supporting Ventus as best as he could with Aqua.


"And then the battle with Xehanort..." said Sora as he continued his story.


Sora was thrown through the darkness away from Xehanort whose keyblade glowed with a ghostly, yet bright purple aura. The rest of his team lay unconscious, so as he recovered, he held his keyblade high before commanding, "Curaga!" A few seconds passed before Sora realized that nothing had happened. He tried again, yielding the same result.

"Don't you see, boy? You're so used to basking in the light that you've failed to acclimate to the darkness. It's drained your power!" boasted Xehanort. He stuck his free hand out and a Darkside rose in between him and Sora. In another second, Sora's friends were lifted by their chests and hung in midair by a strand of blue lightning, connecting them to the darkside and back to Xehanort.

Sora fell to his knees in defeat as hopelessness hit him like a wave. "I can't give up," he said to himself, though his voice trailed off as rain began to fall in the desolate realm...


Sora's focus was drawn from his memories as he heard a cry of pain coming from Rainbow Dash, the last chunk of ice struck her hard in the back. "Give up yet?" asked Applejack gloatingly.

Rainbow Dash stood once again before saying, "Are you kidding me? I'm just getting warmed up!" From her keyblade, a Thunder spell arced toward Applejack who quickly held up her keyblade in defense. As the spell fizzled out against the blade, Applejack missed the charging Rainbow Dash, earning her a solid uppercut to her chest and knocking her on her back. Rainbow quickly cast another bolt of Thunder on AJ as she stood back up.

Applejack returned the favor immediately, jumping at Rainbow Dash and landing a few hits before Rainbow began blocking them. The two traded blows for nearly 20 seconds straight, both holding their strength against the other, until finally, Applejack gained the upper hand.

It started with a hard upward swing. When Rainbow Dash attempted to guard it, the force knocked her keyblade into the air, taking Rainbow with it. Before Rainbow Dash could recover in mid air, Applejack jumped as high as she could, bringing her keyblade around as she spun in midair. Just as Rainbow grabbed her keyblade, Applejack delivered a concussive blow to Rainbow Dash's head, throwing her back down and into the arena below.

Applejack touched back down, breathing heavily with the exertion of her recent attack. As she struggled to fill her lungs with air, she stared at the still form of Rainbow Dash in the arena. When her friend didn't move, Applejack relaxed and fell backward in exhaustion. She heard the announcer's voice over the intercom as she smirked with victory, just before passing out herself.

"Um, it seems we have a tie," said the announcer. "According to this tournament's special rules, the two downed combatants can form a team to continue the competition, if they so choose." A second after speaking, two strange looking stones materialized near Applejack and Rainbow Dash. A second later, they sprayed a green mixture into the air before disappearing again.

Rainbow Dash's eyes snapped open and she jumped to her hooves. "Is it over? Did I win?" she asked frantically.

"We both lost," said Applejack as she stood as well. "Looks like Ah overdid it a little bit." She shut her eyes and shook her head. "Ah guess we both need to a be bit more careful when we're fightin'."

Rainbow hung her head slightly before perking up. "That's okay," said Rainbow Dash. "I guess this just proves that I'm stronger."

"What?!" shouted Applejack staring Rainbow straight in the face as she approached her. "Ah knocked you out first! Ah just... tripped is all!"

"Tripped? It wouldn't be a tie if you'd stayed conscious!" Rainbow fell into a laughing fit before saying, "Just admit it! I'm the strongest."

"Ah ain't admittin' nothin'," started Applejack, "until we get a rematch!"

"Anytime, anywhere," said Rainbow Dash confidently as she flared her wings playfully.

"Come on, you two," said the announcer. "Return to your gates for the next match." Applejack smirked at Rainbow Dash as she turned and walked to her gate, giving one last glance back before it shut her in. Rainbow did the same after Applejack entered hers and soon enough, the announcer was naming off the numbers of the next contestants.

The following battle was a simple, but short match between Leon and Yuffie against Tifa and Cid. Yuffie constantly healed Leon as he charged head in, striking Cid and Tifa together until the two overpowered him. At that point, it was just a matter of time before they caught Yuffie during her teleports. Before long, the announcer was declaring Cid and Tifa's victory.

After the battle was over, the announcer spoke the numbers of the next battle. "Combatants 10 and 12, please enter the arena." Two gates slid open simultaneously, steam rolling out of them.

"Really, how do we get that?!" asked Donald desperately as if the answer held the meaning of life itself.

Out of the first gate stepped a familiar face. A man with a large, curved sword on his back with a red cloak and an arm sling stepped into the arena, his jet black hair and scar over one eye completing the image. "Auron?!" asked Sora in disbelief.

"Who's Auron?" asked Riku.

Goofy gave the answer. "Auron helped us bring down Hades when we were busy fighting the Organization."

"So what made him enter separately from us?" asked Sora. Then it hit him. "Has he been fighting in the Underworld this whole time?!"

"That would explain why we didn't see him in the city," said Donald.

"Or at the colosseum up top," said Goofy.

"Why don't we talk to him once the battles are over," recommended Donald.

"Good idea. I hope he's been okay all this time," said Sora worriedly.

Meanwhile the other contestant stepped through the gate. Sora and Riku flinched when they saw who it was.

Princess Luna was standing in the doorway, wearing a cloak that shrouded her from head to hoof. Though, due to the equine shape and height, they guessed it was her right away. "What's she doing here?" asked Sora.

"I don't know," said Riku back, dumbfounded. "I thought she didn't want the others to know she was here."

"So did I," said Sora. "Now, she won't be able to hide it. She'll have to give it her all to beat Auron."

Sora's headset began materializing over his head. When he noticed this, he muttered, "Seriously, this is the most annoying thing I've ever seen!" He heard Twilight's voice coming through the speaker and that snapped him out of his annoyed anger.

"Isn't that the pony that Riku and Rainbow Dash followed through the portal on Cacoon?" she asked.

"I think so," said Sora back, faking his ignorance. "But what is it doing here?"

"I don't know. I've got so many questions, and the answers are staring me in the face." Sora heard a hoof stamping in frustration. "But I can't get to it. Argh!"

"If she's part of this competition, then maybe you'll end up facing her eventually. Then, you can ask her yourself," said Sora.

"Her? Did you run into 'her' earlier?"

"What? No! I'm just... guessing. That's all," said Sora nervously, mentally slapping himself for the slip-up. "Anyway, I'm sure we'll all get answers soon enough. Let's be patient for now, though." Before Twilight could respond, Sora dismissed the headset, hoping that Twilight wouldn't call back.

"Smooth move, Sora," said Riku. "You almost gave her away."

"Who is she?" asked Goofy.

"What is she?" asked Donald.

"She's an alicorn, like Twilight," said Sora. "I think that's what they're called."

"Apparently, she's one of the co-rulers of Equestria, the others' home world," added Riku. "We ran into her yesterday, but she said she didn't want the others to know she was here."

"So then why is she comin' out in the open like that?" asked Goofy. Everyone turned their attention back to the screen as the announcer came back over the intercom.

"Ready... begin!" Auron immediately drew his sword and rushed at Luna. Before he was even half way across the field, a wave of energy that was navy blue and dotted with white specks like stars in the night sky struck Auron's body. He froze where he was with a look of shock on his face as he fell face first, unconscious. His sword clanged to the ground as the announcer spoke again. "And the winner is... contestant number 10," he said, amazement evident in his voice.

The mouths of all the competitors hung open as they looked at Auron on the screen, his body completely limp as the excess 'night' energy faded from existence, feeding back to the Princess. "What was that attack?" was all Twilight could ask herself. "Was that some kind of trail left behind by a sword? No, that can't be right. I never even saw it draw a weapon! But with that body type, and the aura of that attack... is that...? No, it couldn't be. Could it?"

As Twilight wondered if the Princess of the Night could really be there, Sora said in astonishment, "I didn't even see her keyblade! And she beat Auron with just one attack!"

"I get the feeling she was going easy on us when we fought before," said Riku gravely. "If we make it that far, then we'll have an incredibly difficult fight on our hands, especially if the darkness takes hold of her." In the arena, Princess Luna summoned her keyblade in a hoof and held it above her head, causing her to bump the hood of her robe down, revealing her face. She shut her eyes and performed the Curaga spell, reviving Auron and allowing him to stand.

"Princess Luna?!" exclaimed the ponies simultaneously, even though Twilight was slightly less surprised than the others.

Sora called out in their small room to the announcer who he hoped was listening. "Please, open the gate. We need to talk to the winner right away."

"Is it a matter of life or death?" responded the announcer.

Sora took a moment to think before responding. "It might be..." said Sora.

"Well, then that means it'll be all the more entertaining, doesn't it?" came a sinister voice from over the intercom, different from the announcer's. Sora recognized it almost instantly.

"Hades," he said out loud when he heard the God's signature laugh come his way.

"Today is just full of reunions for all of you, isn't it?" came the god of the Underworld's voice through the speakers.

"But we left you in the well of souls!" cried Goofy. "How did you get out?"

"God of the Underworld. I'm immortal. Helloooo," responded Hades snidely. "So what are you three idiots doing here?"

"We're trying to find a portal to the dark realm," said Riku. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

"Not a clue," said Hades. "But, I've got this secret that I've been dying to share with you. It's gonna be killer, if you catch my drift."

"I think he's trying to tell us something," said Donald as he rubbed his chin in thought.

"You think?" asked Riku sarcastically.

"Here's a hint. It has something to do with the tournament and you bozos. So strap in, hold on, and enjoy the quarterfinals, kiddos," he finished before the intercom shut down with a static pop.

"That can't be good," said Sora.

"Yeah. I don't like how he said dying and killer, either," added Donald. Riku mentally face-palmed.

"Whatever it is, we have to be ready for it," said Sora. "Riku, you knew Hades during our first journey. What do you think he's up to?"

"I don't know," said Riku as he pondered the God's plans. "Knowing him, it could be anything. Though if I had to guess, I'd say it's along the lines of revenge, probably because of what you three did to him."

"And I'll bet it wasn't a coincidence that Auron was in the competition against us," added Goofy.

Before they could ponder Hades' plans any further, the intercom came back on as the announcer continued. "The first match of the quarterfinal round will be between combatants 1 and 9," he said.

Sora frowned as he said, "Number 9 is..."

In her room, Fluttershy's breathing became sporadic as she quaked in fear. She knew Sora and his team were number 1, and that she stood no chance against them. But she also knew that she had no choice. She had to fight whether she liked it or not. And as her gate slid open, her fear only escalated until she was sure she would pass out. Reluctantly, she took very slow steps toward the gate, putting a hoof against the wall to steady herself. When she stepped outside into the faint glow of the torches around the arena, Sora was already waiting in the arena with Donald and Goofy.

"Sorry, Fluttershy," he said as he crouched into a combat stance. The shy pegasus cringed, but summoned her keyblade all the same, trembling as she readied herself as well.

"Thats o-o-okay, S-s-sora," she replied, her voice shaking uncontrollably. "Let's just get this o-over with." Sora nodded his head before the announcer began the match.

"The match between combatants 1 and 9 will begin... now!"

Olympus Colosseum (part 3)

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Before Sora could move, Fluttershy called to him weakly. "Are you sure I can't just forfeit?" she asked desperately, her voice shaking.

Sora stopped and stood up straight so he could see her, finally meeting her gaze. Her whole body was still shaking, and her wings were snapped to her side in an attempt to make herself look smaller. "I'm sorry, Fluttershy," said Sora. "But I get the feeling we can't."

"But why not?" asked Fluttershy. "Why do I have to fight you?"

"I don't want to say," said Sora. After thinking for a moment, he said, "Let's just say someone who doesn't like us very much is running this tournament."

"Who's that?" asked Fluttershy, growing curious. "And why can't you tell us?"

"I'm afraid I might have already dragged you all into it, but I don't want to risk it if I haven't already," he said quickly. Fluttershy hung her head and started to whimper before Sora spoke again. "But don't hold back." Fluttershy suddenly stopped and looked up. "You can do this, Fluttershy. You can beat us." She watched Donald and Goofy ready themselves. "Now, don't think it'll be easy, but I'm confident you've got the skills to win," he finished with a smile.

"O-okay," said Fluttershy, finally calming down a little bit. "But Sora? Can you please go just a little bit easy on me?"

"Sure," said Sora with a smile. He turned back to his friends before saying, "Let's try to keep to the weaker spells and attacks, okay guys?"

"Sure thing, Sora," said Goofy.

"But do you really think she can beat us?" asked Donald.

"Who knows," whispered Sora back. "But she has to have more confidence in her own strength instead of relying on others. This is the best we can do for her." Donald nodded back as Sora turned to face Fluttershy again.

As Sora prepared to go, Hades suddenly interrupted through the speakers. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don't think you can't give it your all now," he said smugly. Four pillars of stone suddenly erupted from the edge of the circular arena, two behind Sora and two behind Fluttershy. "Let's spice things up a little." The space between the pillars suddenly erupted in flame, causing everyone to jump towards the center to avoid them. The flames made impassable walls, turning the circular arena into a square. "Remember, kids. Don't play with matches," he chuckled to himself. "And if I don't think you're really pushing each other, I'll just add another layer. How do flaming, poisoned arrows sound to you?" Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Fluttershy all cringed before Hades finished. "That's what I thought. Now, go on and tear each other up out there!"

The speaker cut off with a pop, barely audible over the sound of the raging flames. "Well, there goes that plan," said Sora. He saw Fluttershy lying on the ground with both hooves in front of her eyes, quaking in fear and even crying. "This can't go on," he said to himself. He turned away before yelling, "So you want a show, Hades? Then shut off this fire, and you'll get one. But keep it up..." Sora's voice suddenly took on a much darker tone as he said, "then we'll force our way out and come after you personally."

Almost a minute passed without even a static buzz from the speakers. However, the flames shut themselves off, though the pillars remained. Sora smiled to himself before saying, "Good. Now we can get started." He turned back to Fluttershy to find her standing up again, grabbing her keyblade and nodding before crouching slightly to ready herself.

"I'm ready, Sora," she said. "I'll do my best."

"Then let's get started," he responded.

Fluttershy started with the regeneration spell from the last match. Before she could fully execute it, though, she was struck by a ball of fire from Donald and bashed to the ground by Goofy. Wincing when she fell, she did her best to stand up quickly and she barely dodged a series of swings from Sora as he descended on her previous position. As soon as he finished, Fluttershy was upon him, landing a few hits before jumping back to avoid another swing from Goofy.

Donald rushed in and attempted to hit her with a close-up Blizzard spell, but she countered it with Reflect and sent the freezing projectiles shooting back toward him, covering his body in a thin layer of ice on impact. "Oh! I did it!" she cheered in excitement. As soon as her shield was down, however, Sora got in quickly and struck her a few times before knocking her into the air where Goofy landed another hit.

When she hit the ground, she slowly stood back up while the others gave her a chance to recover. Sora ran at her again, but she was ready for him. As soon as he swung, she jumped to the side, using her wings to correct herself and stop just behind him where she landed a few decent hits. Before she could do anything else, both Donald and Goofy came down on her at once, hitting her together and knocking her to the arena floor a few feet away.

Sora cast Cure on himself before turning to Fluttershy, who remained still on the arena's tiles. He let his guard down before slowly walking over to her to make sure she was okay. As soon as he knelt down, however, Fluttershy flared her wings as hard as she could, launching herself a few feet off the ground and back to a standing position. Before Sora could react, she swung horizontally and struck him in the side of the head, knocking him aside as she prepared for Donald and Goofy's attacks. She quickly brought up a Reflect spell to protect herself from a Thunder spell from Donald and to stop Goofy's physical strikes. As soon as Goofy's shield was reflected, the spell released the energy it had built up and it threw Goofy away to send him crashing into Donald.

That's it, she thought to herself. It's a pattern! Every time Sora attacks, Donald and Goofy come right after. Her train of thought was interrupted as Sora struck her several times with his keyblade, knocking her back to the ground. This time though, it was no facade. She tried to stand up, but her body was failing her. She could barely move. "What's happening?" she whimpered.

"You used too much magic at once," said Sora. "You only just learned the Reflect spell, and already you're relying on it. Guarding Donald's magic and Goofy's attacks so quickly drained you. That attack I just used only finished the process. I'm sorry, Fluttershy, but you can't keep fighting like this," he said as he relaxed from his battle posture. Sora was about to call out to the announcer to end the match and that Fluttershy was going to give in when he was stopped by more crying. He looked back to Fluttershy to see her body shaking. "Fluttershy?" asked Sora, concerned.

"N-no," she sobbed. "I d-don't want to give up." She started shifting as she struggled in vain to move her hooves. "I wanted to-to show you that I can fight. Th-that I can be a strong part of the team. But I had to hurt Pinkie Pie, and now I have to fight you? How can I help you all?"

"Fluttershy," was all Sora could say as he watched her slowly moving. She struggled greatly, but managed to sit up on the arena floor. After another minute, she stood again, holding her keyblade off to the side. Her breathing was ragged and several tears still rolled down her face.

Sora couldn't bear to look anymore. He lowered his head and ran at Fluttershy as fast as he could. He pulled back his keyblade, flipped over her, and struck her hard in the neck with the hilt. As Fluttershy lost consciousness and fell, Sora said to her, "You've done great. Rest up." As soon as Fluttershy hit the floor, the announcer made his decision over the intercom.

"The winner is team number 1!" he said. Before the curative drones could surface, Sora scooped up Fluttershy and carried her to her open gate. He entered it and set her down in her room before leaving and returning to his own.

As soon as he entered his room, his headset materialized around his head and it immediately filled his ears with the sound of Twilight screaming at him. "What did you do?!" she shrieked in fear and anger. Her voice was joined by the others shortly.

"How could you do that to poor Fluttershy?" asked Applejack, sounding more sad than angry.

"I'll kill you!" shouted Rainbow Dash.

"Everyone, shut up!" yelled Sora. The speakers in his headset went silent at his command. "First off, it was the only way to save her. She was pushing herself too hard to try to prove that she could fight. You all saw her out there. Twilight, you should know more than anyone else what happens when you expend your magic. Imagine that happening to a pegasus whose normal range of magical abilities consists of pushing around clouds! I had to knock her out before she took it too far and surpassed her limits. And second, I had to make it look convincing for Hades. Knowing him, he wouldn't have let Fluttershy go on talking like that for long. He wanted excitement and a fight to watch. It was a risky move, but it was the best I could do!"

"I never want to hurt my friends. I'd destroy anyone who does the same. Do you really think it was easy for me to knock her out like that?! I haven't known you all for that long, but I do know this: you all care the world for each other. There's a reason for that, so I believe in those reasons even though I don't understand them yet. She deserves protection just as much as you all, so as long as I still have a heart, I won't hesitate to do what has to be done to save my friends, including all of you!"

Silence filled the frequency for a little bit longer until Twilight finally spoke up. "We're sorry, Sora," she sighed. "Fluttershy is the kindest, most gentle pony I know, and to see her get hurt like that by someone we thought - and now know - was our friend; I think we all lost control."

More silence, and then, "That's okay, everyone," Sora spoke again in his normal, cheery voice. "There's something more going on here. Let's focus on that. After the tournament, we'll do some investigating and figure out exactly what's happening; with Pinkie Pie and with everything else." He dismissed his headset before sitting down again. None of his teammates said a word, not even Riku.

"Gee, Sora. Isn't that a little bit dark for you?" came Hades' voice over the intercom. "That whole 'I'd destroy anyone' bit was pretty intense. What's gotten into you?" he finished mockingly.

"Shut up," shouted Sora. "You don't know the half of it." No sound came back through the speakers, and before they knew it, the announcer was voicing the fighters in the next match.

"The next match will be between fighter 5 and the team of fighters 2 and 3."

"Aren't those..." began Riku.

"Applejack and Rainbow Dash?" finished Sora.

As he finished, the gates opened and Rainbow Dash flew into the arena, followed closely by Applejack, both spinning their keyblades. "Who wants some?!" cheered Rainbow Dash.

"Come an' get it while it's hot!" shouted Applejack enthusiastically.

Twilight stepped out of her gate at a steady pace, dismissing Rainbow Dash and Applejack's overenthusiastic mood. "Oh no," she said out loud, sounding annoyed.

"Alright! We get to fight Twi!" said Rainbow Dash, even more excited now.

Both Rainbow Dash and Applejack stepped in first, Twilight coming in on the other end. "Are you both really so happy to be fighting each other like this? Shouldn't we be out trying to find a portal to the dark realm? That's still our goal, isn't it?"

"That can wait," said Rainbow Dash as she waved a hoof dismissively. "Besides, we never got a chance to really check out our skills."

"An' fightin' you sounds like a lot of fun," added Applejack.

Twilight sighed again before saying, "But why should we be fighting in some tournament? Why couldn't we have just practiced ourselves?"

"I guess you'd just have to ask Sora," offered Rainbow Dash. "He's the one who told us all to enter separately."

"Oh, I plan to," said Twilight under her breath.

As soon as she summoned her keyblade, the announcer came back on and said, "The fight between combatant number 5 and team 2-3 will begin... now!"

Applejack and Rainbow Dash immediately split apart, attempting to flank Twilight on either side. As they approached to attack, however, Twilight cast Thunder around her, halting both of her opponents before she leaped at Applejack. She swung her keyblade in an arc as her spell died down, causing the remaining bolts of lightning to charge Twilight's keyblade before it impacted Applejack, knocking her back and stunning her as she crackled with electricity.

When Rainbow saw her teammate taking a beating, she charged toward Twilight before casting Blizzara around her keyblade, freezing it and giving it a temporary ice attribute. When she uppercut Twilight in an attempt to knock her into the air, Twilight froze on contact with the keyblade before being launched, coating her in a thick layer of frost rather than the massive block of ice that Rainbow Dash had expected.

As Twilight struggled to thaw before she was attacked, Applejack stood, grabbed Rainbow Dash by the hoof and spun, sending Rainbow flying into the air at lightning fast speed. Just as Twilight thawed and started to fall, Rainbow Dash reached her, jabbing her in the back and launching her further as the air went rushing out of her lungs.

While Rainbow glided back down the Applejack, she watched Twilight's eyes flickering as she struggled to remain conscious as she got closer and closer to the ground. When she landed, she passed out, but only for a brief second. She quickly jumped back up and held her keyblade in front of her so that she could guard any oncoming attacks. She thanked Celestia when she realized that none had come her way.

"What was that?!" said Rainbow Dash indignantly as she stomped a hoof. "I thought we had you!"

"Auto-Life spell," she smirked. "Remember the doppelganger spell I used against Rarity? This was another from the book. It allows soldiers to quickly recover as long as their wounds aren't fatal. I cast it before we started fighting just in case you beat me."

Rainbow Dash and Applejack's jaws dropped when they heard Twilight's explanation. "In fact, I've got another one to show you," said Twilight confidently.

A moment later, her horn started to glow as her body became cloaked in her violet aura. She took a single step toward the others, leaving a violet trail of magic behind her. She turned her head to make sure it was there as she watched it fade out. "Perfect," she said with a smile as she turned back toward Rainbow Dash and Applejack.

Taking another step, this time with her keyblade raised, she darted forward, leaving a trail of magic in her wake. In under a second, she became visible next to Applejack as she brought her keyblade to her friend's chin, launching her back and knocking her out instantly.

"What the-" A swing from Twilight against Rainbow Dash silenced her as she was forced to block. Twilight continued her assault, striking from left to right relentlessly and pushing Rainbow to the limits of her guarding speed.

When Rainbow faltered just an inch, Twilight deflected her keyblade before jumping high into the air and bringing her own down on her friend, knocking her out as well and ending the match.

"The winner is fighter number 5!" cheered the announcer. "Fighters 2 and 3, please return to your gates."

Rainbow Dash and Applejack stumbled as they stood up. Seeing this, Twilight quickly cast Cure on both of them to recover their strength. "That was some spell," said Rainbow Dash as she rubbed her aching head. "But did you have to go so hard on us?"

"Did you really expect me to fight fair?" asked Twilight with a smirk. "It was two on one, and I say my actions were completely... justified..." As she finished speaking, she began to waver before falling to the arena floor, motionless.

"Twilight?" asked Rainbow, approaching her friend quickly before kneeling down next to her.

"Is she okay?" asked Applejack.

"How am I supposed to know?" retorted Rainbow. "She's still breathing," she said as she saw the gradual rise and fall of Twilight's chest.

"Let's get her back to her booth," said Applejack as she moved to Twilight, struggling to lift her up. Rainbow gently assisted her and they laid Twilight across Applejack's back. Together, the three returned to Twilight's gate and set her down inside, propping her up against the wall. As soon as they were finished and they'd returned to their gates, the announcer's voice came back on over the intercom.

"We'll be taking a short break before the final two matches. The break will last for half an hour, so be back in front of your gates at that time." As soon as he was finished speaking, everyone's gates back to the arena lobby slid open, allowing the group freedom for the time being.

As soon as each of Sora's party was out, they immediately grouped up. "Where's Twilight?" asked Sora as he searched for her among the team.

"She's probably still resting in her gate," offered Rarity. "I'm sure she'll be fine, though. She's a tough one," she finished with a smile.

"If you say so," said Riku, hesitant to believe her.

"Riku," began Applejack, "could you take a look at Pinkie Pie now? After what happened in the arena, we're really worried about her."

"Why would you guys be worried about me?" she asked with a subtle tilt of her head. She gasped before asking, "Did I do something wrong?"

"I'm not sure," said Sora as he crossed his arms. "Something happened to you out there, but you don't seem to remember it. Riku, can you really tell what's wrong with her?"

Riku looked to Pinkie to see her frowning at him, fear in her eyes. "To be honest, I won't know until I look." Turning back to Sora, he said, "Sora, do you remember what happened to you during our Mark of Mastery exam?"

"Yeah," answered Sora as his body seemed to droop. "I almost got trapped in the dream world, but you dove back into my heart and saved me." It took Sora few moments to pick up on what Riku was suggesting. "You're not saying-"

"Yes, I am," said Riku firmly as he cut Sora off.

"What's wrong?" asked Fluttershy as she visibly shrank.

"During our Mark of Mastery exam, the test was hijacked," said Sora. "Xehanort, the man we're trying to find in the dark realm, created a trap in the sleeping worlds." He could see the confusion on the pony's faces at the mention of their test. "In short, it's a test to determine weather or not a warrior of light has become a master with the keyblade."

The ponies let out a collective, "Oohhhh," as he paused.

"While Riku and I were testing, we walked into a trap. They tried to make me one of the dark pieces of the X-Blade. It might have worked, but Riku saved me by diving into my heart and rescuing me."

"What do you mean 'diving'?" asked Rainbow.

"It's too hard to explain," said Riku quickly to try and dismiss the others' curiosity. This only stoked that fire further. "Anyway, I could try the same thing in order to figure out what's wrong with Pinkie, but it may take some time. If I remember right, Sora, our team, Twilight, and Princess Luna are the only three competitors remaining. If we're unlucky and we're the first ones up, then can you, Donald and Goofy handle the fight?"

"Of course we can!" rebutted Donald.

Riku smiled at Donald's confidence. "Glad to hear it," he chuckled. "Just stay focused. Don't go all out unless you really need to."

"You got it," said Sora as he pounded a fist to his chest. "We can handle 'em."

"So how long is it gonna take?" asked Goofy.

"To be honest, I won't know until I try. Pinkie, are you ready?" asked Riku.

"I guess so," she said worriedly.

"Okay then," said Riku. "Everyone, stand back." The group backed away from Riku and Pinkie Pie, giving them as much space as possible. "Sora, as soon as we start, take me back to our gate. Applejack and Rainbow Dash, you guys take Pinkie back to hers, got it?"

"Sure thing," said Applejack, still wary of what would happen.

"Then here we go," said Riku. He summoned his keyblade and leveled it at Pinkie Pie. "Just relax, okay?"

"Okey dokey lokey," answered Pinkie nervously.

Riku shut his eyes and concentrated his light, charging the tip of his keyblade with it. "Here we go!" he yelled. At that exact moment, a beam of light shot from his keyblade and impacted Pinkie Pie, causing her to stumble back for a moment as her eyes went wide in shock. Riku's eyes slowly shut as he went limp and fell. Sora rushed forward to catch him as Pinkie fell too, Rarity catching her.

"Are they alright?" she asked as she gently set her unconscious friend down.

"I hope so," said Sora worriedly as he knelt beside Riku. "He told us to take them back to their gates though..." After a few minutes of carrying them to their gates, the two sleeping keyblade wielders were resting inside, left to their own devices.

They quickly reconvened back in the lobby. "Where's Princess Luna?" asked Fluttershy, scanning the lobby for any sign of the princess.

"I don't know," said Rainbow Dash as she and the others started looking around. "I didn't see her leave her gate, so maybe she's still there."

"Well, don't you think we should check on her?" suggested Sora. "I mean, when Riku and I ran into her yesterday-"

"Wait, what?" asked Applejack. "Why didn't you say somethin' earlier?! Twilight woulda wanted to know that!"

"I was getting around to it," said Sora as he scratched the back of his head. "Anyway, when we talked to her, she said that her time as Nightmare Moon changed her heart and she's traveling the worlds, trying to fight the darkness and find her light again, but I don't understand what that means. She thinks that as warriors of light, we may be able to help."

"Then let's talk to Twilight as soon as she wakes up," said Rarity. "She may know how to help the princess. After all, she helped her come out her shell on Nightmare Night."

"Is that like Halloween?" asked Sora in confusion.

"What the hay is Halloween?" asked Applejack. Both parties eyed each other in confusion. A few moments later, the announcer came back on over the intercom.

"Ten minutes until the semifinal match. Ten minutes until the semifinal match," he repeated. "All participating combatants must be back in their gates by that time or you will be disqualified and lose by default."

"I guess we should finish up and be ready to go," offered Donald as he turned back to their gate. "Let's go, Sora."

"Yeah," added Goofy. "Let's all talk after the match with Twilight and that Princess of hers."

"Okay," said Sora, still confused about the whole Nightmare Night/Halloween business. As all of the ponies retreated to their gates and awaited the start of the final matches, Riku's hand started twitching as he dreamed...


As Twilight began to wake up from magically exhausting herself, she could make out the voice of the announcer repeating something over the intercom. After rubbing away the drowsiness from her eyes, she managed to understand what it said.

"Repeat, contestant number 5, if you do not enter the arena then you will be disqualified." As soon as the words registered in her brain, she sprung up and rushed out of her gate to the arena. She was still half asleep, but she managed to get to the fighting area. Standing in the arena was Sora, Donald, and Goofy, each holding their weapons but remaining relaxed.

"So the semi-final match is between you three and I?" asked Twilight.

"Looks like it," said Goofy.

"Hey, Twilight," said Sora as he started to smile. "Now that you're stronger, why don't we treat this as a rematch for our practice battle in the lumber yard back on Equestria?"

"Sounds good to me," said Twilight as she summoned her keyblade and crouched into a fighting stance.

"Without further ado, the semi-final match of the Hades cup tournament will begin... now!" shouted the announcer.

"Wait a minute," said Sora out loud. "This is a Hades cup?!" As soon as he had finished his sentence, Twilight dashed past Donald and Goofy before knocking Sora across the arena hard. Before Donald and Goofy could react, she took her keyblade in her magic and quickly bashed them aside before leaping back to plan her next move.

Her three opponents stood up shakily before Donald cast Cure on the group, recovering them slightly. "How did you do that?" asked Sora in disbelief.

"I guess some of the agility spell I used against Rainbow Dash and Applejack is still active," she confessed.

"Then that just gives us more of a challenge," answered Sora with a smirk as he charged Twilight. It took a lot of focus to guard his attacks, and it quickly pushed Twilight to the edge of her strength as she was forced to continue blocking swing after swing.

As Sora struck over and over again, part of his mind was still occupied by what the announcer had said. This was a Hades cup? If that was the case, then the final match would be against Hades himself. Three scenarios crossed his mind. If he won, then Sora would have to face off against Princess Luna in the finals. If Twilight won, then she would have to do the same. The winner of the final match would then have to challenge Hades. Sora lost his concentration just enough for Twilight to cease her guarding and counter attack, staggering Sora as she unleashed a Blizzard spell at him.

The magic blasted through Sora as Goofy rushed in to fill his place, rushing at Twilight and knocking her aside with his shield as he broke into a run. When he reached the edge of the arena, Goofy turned around and dashed back for another hit.

Donald, meanwhile, had just recovered his magic and was busy pounding Twilight repeatedly with Thundara spells, stunning her over and over again. This only angered her and she countered with Thunder spells of her own, her unicorn magic adding to her power and defeating Donald. Sora immediately focused more, realizing that this was the first time that a party member had been KO'd during the tournament. Not long after, Twilight fired repeated Fire spells at Goofy, bringing him down as well.

"It looks like it's just you and I left, Sora," said Twilight snidely, glowing with pride at her skill.

"It's about to get a lot harder for you," rebutted Sora. Twilight was about to ask why as if she expected an answer when Sora activated a drive form that she didn't recognize. As he was lifted into the air and the barrier surrounded him, Twilight stepped back a little and cautiously watched Sora, both curious and afraid of what new powers Sora would possess.

As it turned out, Twilight didn't have to wait long. As soon as the barrier was down, she was met with Sora charging her with lighting fast jabs over and over again, knocking her around like a rag doll. All she could make out as she was struck repeatedly was a blinding flurry of white, red, and gold. After the final few hits, Sora retreated and downed an ether, recovery his recently spent energy.

Sora didn't give Twilight a very long period to recover as he unloaded a Strike Raid at her. The first few keys, Twilight was able to guard. However, the fourth broke through her guard and threw her into the air. The final Judgement strike knocked her out as she plummeted to the arena floor in a motionless heap. Sora sensed that the battle wasn't over as he prepared for her to stand.

Sure enough, she had prepared beforehand with another auto-life spell and was standing up again shortly, panting hard. "What *gasp* was that?" she breathed more than spoke.

"This is Limit Form," jeered Sora. "Got it memorized?" he added, tapping the side of his head with a finger like Lea had always done.

The gesture confused Twilight, so she brushed it off. "I meant those attacks," she added. "What were they?"

"The first one is called Sonic Blade," explained Sora. "That last one is known as Strike Raid. They're some of the best moves I've got," he added with a smug grin. "In fact, why don't I show you another?" Twilight cringed with fear at the mention of even more overpowering moves as she backed up and prepared herself.

Sora charged toward her rapidly with his keyblade at his side, ready to unleash another limit. As he approached, Twilight tried to slow him down with Thunder spells, but he powered through them despite the crackling electricity clinging to his body. As soon as he was close, his keyblade lit up with a golden light as he unleashed Ars Arcanum. He swung his keyblade around in a berserk rage, knocking Twilight around despite her attempts at blocking them. In a matter of seconds, Sora finished off the limit with a final strike, launching Twilight into the air before jumping up after her. With the last of his magic, he unleashed his final attack; Ragnarok.

To start the move, Sora landed even more hits against Twilight before throwing her down to the arena floor and overcharging his keyblade as he hovered in mid-air. At Twilight tried to stand again, swaying as she did, she looked up to see a massive ball of energy building around Sora. Before she could even utter a protest, Sora fired off the energy, unleashing a salvo of light in spiraling orbs, spinning around Twilight before striking her all at once, knocking her back down to the floor as they finished her off.

"The winner is Team One!" shouted the announcer. "That means the final match will be between Team One and combatant 10. Fighters, please return to your gates and await the final match," he finished.

Sora reverted from Limit form before casting Cure and healing Donald and Goofy. They both stood up shakily as Donald asked, "Did we win?"

"We sure did," said Sora with a smile. "The announcer told us to go back to our gates, so let's get ready and resupply before our match with the princess."

"Good idea," said Donald as he and Goofy trudged back to their gate, Sora close behind. Before he stepped through, he paused and cast Cure on Twilight as well, healing her before he departed.


The dive through Pinkie's heart and memories was a mixed bag of secrets. At first, Riku could see some of Pinkie's most precious memories; the times that she spent with her friends learning and playing. Put simply, enjoying her life and the experiences that went with it.

But near the end, things grew dark. He saw a depressed Pinkie Pie, hating her life and going through all kinds of withdrawals about herself. Riku could see the conflicts with her friends from a darker outlook. The memory that disturbed him the most, however, he stopped diving to watch unfold before him.

He could see how, when she felt that her friends were avoiding her, she had changed completely. Pinkie's heart grew dark and she shut everyone out. She shut herself in her room and started talking to herself. Riku watched as her heart started insulting her friends and even attacking itself, splitting into two halves; a heart full of happiness and light through which Pinkie had lived her life up to that point, and a dark heart. One full of hatred and evil that was waiting in a dormant state. That is, until recently. The acquisition of the keyblade reawakened that darkness when Pinkie opened her heart of light up to wield the keyblade.

Before the memory could continue further, it disappeared, replaced by a flood of darkness that began to spread throughout the area, consuming the other memories one by one. "Crap," said Riku as he started to fall again, resuming his dive. Before he got too far away, he pointed his keyblade at the swarming darkness and fired a burst of light at it, dispelling it and freeing the memories that were being swallowed. However, as Riku turned back around to dive headfirst, he could see the darkness changing direction and pursuing him out of the corner of his eye.

"Well this is just great," he said out loud in frustration. He straightened as he fell in an attempt to increase his speed, but it only afforded him a few extra seconds before the darkness caught up with him.

It first wrapped around him like a massive tentacle, binding his arms and legs and making him drop his keyblade. He, as well as the darkness, continued falling as it constricted him and choked the life out of him.

Just when he thought he would be swallowed, the tendrils started pushing on him, driving him further down and toward the rapidly approaching stained-glass platform. Riku braced himself as he was shoved into it hard, knocking him out in an instant. He would have been swallowed by Pinkie's uncontrollable darkness had it not been for a spark of light that Riku hadn't felt for a long time.

The crushing and overwhelming darkness had suddenly retreated and was replaced with a warm light. When Riku opened his eyes, he found himself face to face with a large, candy colored bat flapping it's wings hard in an attempt to wake him with gusts of wind. He immediately recognized it.

"A dream eater?" he said. As soon as he was standing, it nuzzled him affectionately. "Hey, cut it out!" he chuckled. After a few moments, he remembered where he was. He spun around and took in his surroundings. He was on a stained-glass pillar depicting Pinkie Pie in a state of pure joy. In the picture, she was laughing and pictures of her friends smiling surrounded her. That is, on one half.

The second half of the pillar depicted a depressed Pinkie Pie, her hair straightened and her color drained in depression. This Pinkie was grimacing as darkness was built up behind her.

After a moment of taking in his surroundings, the dream eater bat redirected his attention to the edge of the arena where he saw the darkness from before beginning to gather. After a few moments, it began to solidify into the shape of the dark Pinkie Pie. It was pitch black like a shadow heartless, all except for the eyes which glowed a deep, amber gold. As it stepped onto the platform from over the dark abyss below, Pinkie's keyblade appeared in front of it. Slowly, it stood up on it's back legs and held the keyblade in the exact same style as Riku, taking the exact posture and relaxed crouch. The candle that made up the keyblade's shaft burned with a deep purple and black flame that pulsed with the power of darkness like an ominous drum beat.

"Pinkie Pie?" asked Riku, hoping to get some sort of answer to his confusion. Instead, Pinkie jumped into the air and fired off a Dark Firaga spell, forcing Riku to jump away to dodge it. Unfortunately, as he backed up, the spell changed its trajectory and followed Riku, impacting him hard and searing him as he tumbled to the ground.

Immediately after, the dark Pinkie dropped back down and rushed him, pulling her keyblade back and going for a sharp jab. Crap, thought Riku as she got close. I won't have time to dodge! Riku braced himself, but found that no attack came. Instead, he saw a blur of color dash in front of him and take the hit instead.

As Pinkie's jab made contact, she seemed to stop in midair before back flipping away, leaving a wispy trail of darkness from her keyblade as she landed. The dream eater that had protected Riku was the bat that woke him earlier. It drifted to the ground as it lost consciousness, glowing slightly as it began to dissolve. Riku sprang up and dashed forward, prompting Pinkie to do the same as they both dashed for the downed dream eater.

As Pinkie approached, she leaped into the air and prepared for a downward jab through the dream eater. At the exact moment that her attack would've landed, Riku slid under her and scooped up his old friend, leaving behind a small trail of stardust in its wake that slowly faded away.

As soon as he was in the clear, Riku focused his light and used it to revive his dream eater, causing it to flutter to life and hover next to him. "Where are the others?" asked Riku to the dream eater. It shook its body left and right, giving a rapid gesture of confusion as well. "Well then, I guess it's just you and I," said Riku as he turned toward the dark Pinkie who was now glaring at him from across the platform. "Here we go."

Pinkie was the first to strike. She charged forward yet again, jabbing with a powerful darkness flowing from her keyblade. Riku quickly sidestepped and struck Pinkie from the side, knocking her down and giving Riku's dream eater a chance to attack as well.

As soon as both Riku and his dream eater had attacked, they both jumped away to analyze Pinkie's recovery speed. She quickly popped up like a spring before glaring again at Riku. Again, she charged them using the same jabbing attack.

"Are you serious?" asked Riku to himself. Again, he jumped aside as he and the dream eater repeated their attack from earlier, striking Pinkie again. Once again, they jumped away from her and watched her recovery again.

Yet again, they found Pinkie popping up like a spring board ready to repeat her attack as if she hadn't been struck in the first place. "We're getting no where," grunted Riku under his breath. An idea came to him as he pondered a possible solution.

This time, when Pinkie charged him and went for a jab, he took the attack head on and guarded it before countering with a burst of light to stun Pinkie. As soon as she was stunned, Riku and his dream eater combined their attack to bash Pinkie around, pushing her back toward the edge of the arena. However, as soon as they came close to the edge, she teleported behind Riku and jabbed, sending both him and his dream eater over the edge.

As Riku started falling, he reached for his dream eater and shouted, "Now!" In a fraction of a second, the bat combined with Riku as it smothered him in darkness. Riku kept it far away from his heart using light, being sure to only use it in his attack rather than fueling his attacks with only darkness.

The moment his dream eater combined with him, he sprouted dark wings and soared back over the edge, high above Pinkie. Before she could react, Riku dove straight down at her, putting all of the dream eater's darkness into the jab as he reached her. Right before he struck, Riku forced his light through the darkness, transforming the darkness into pure light. This shocked Riku at first, but he ignored it for the moment.

In a blinding display of light, Riku's keyblade impaled the dark Pinkie, causing him to blast through her using light as he slid to a stop on the pillar of Pinkie's heart. He quickly turned to see the dark Pinkie, split down the middle as it started to dissolve into darkness, falling to the floor and sinking into it as it returned to Pinkie's heart.

Riku's dream eater separated from him, drained of its energy as its natural darkness had been overpowered by Riku's light. It whimpered lightly in pain, causing Riku to turn to it. "Sorry about that," he apologized when he realized what he'd done. "But I needed to use light. You're okay, right?"

The bat slowly nodded as it started to slow its wing beats, drifting to the ground. Riku quickly cast Cure on it, recovering its strength enough to keep it flying. "That should keep you going," added Riku with a smile. "I still need your help though." When Riku's friend tilted its head, Riku added, "I need you to stay here in Pinkie's heart and watch it closely. I don't think we wiped that thing out completely, so it's important that we keep an eye on her. Can you do that?" The bat quickly nodded its head yes. "Great. I'm counting on you," finished Riku with a smile before he turned and held his keyblade up. A burst of light shot from it and a portal to the real world opened again. Riku quickly stepped through, ready to report back to Sora and the others.

He failed to notice, however, that Pinkie's darkness had gathered again around the portal before shooting through after him.


Riku slowly opened his eyes in the real world, finding Sora and his friends sitting around in their room, seemingly waiting for him. "Oh Riku, you're awake," said Sora when he noticed Riku's eyes open. "So what happened?"

"Well, it was... interesting to say the least," began Riku. He recounted as much as he could about what he saw and experienced in Pinkie's heart.

"But how did one of your dream eater's get in Pinkie's heart?" asked Sora.

"I guess it was still with me as part of mine," answered Riku, racking his brain for further answers. After a moment, he added, "I acted as your dream eater in your heart during our exam, so maybe my dream eaters came from me. Maybe that's where it came from."

"That makes sense... sort of," said Sora as he tapped a finger to his forehead as he tried to understand it.

Before he could keep thinking, the announcer came on over the intercom. "Team one and combatant 10, please enter the arena for the final match," he said before the crackling of a disconnected signal filled the intercom briefly.

"So who are we fighting again?" asked Riku as he stood up.

"Princess Luna; the one we ran into yesterday in the city below," said Sora.

"Alright. Have you decided on who you want to fight with you?" asked Riku.

"I was thinking you and I should go together," said Sora with a smile. "After all, we know what's coming, don't we? I get the feeling Donald and Goofy would be too unprepared."

"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Donald indignantly.

"It means just what I said," said Sora calmly. "Riku and I know what's coming. You two will get wrecked out there because of the strength and speed of her attacks. I get the feeling only Riku and I will be able to handle her speed and be able to counter her."

"But shouldn't we still go with in case something happens to you or Riku?" asked Goofy. "Besides, we could just watch at first so we can see what she does. Then, if you need help, we can jump in."

"Good point," said Riku as he weighed their options too. On one hand, having Donald and Goofy in case Sora and him couldn't handle the princess was a helpful safety net. But, on the other hand, if he and Sora were both defeated, the chances of Donald and Goofy surviving long enough to revive either of them were slim. Eventually, he settled on the former.

"Sora, maybe we do need their help as back up if nothing else. If the Princess overpowers us, we could use them as backup. Besides, they're stronger than they look," added Riku with a chuckle.

Before the others could speak, the announcer came back on over the intercom. "Combatants for the final match, enter the arena now to begin."

"Well, here we go," said Sora. "Donald, Goofy, stay on the sidelines for a while while Riku and I take the princess head on. If something happens to either of us, jump in and support us, okay?"

"Gotcha, Sora," said Goofy as he drew his shield. Donald followed suite by drawing his staff. Sora and Riku both summoned their keyblades as they turned to leave, making their way to the arena.

When they stepped out of their gate, they saw Princess Luna already waiting for them in the arena. When she noticed Sora and Riku enter while leaving Donald and Goofy behind, she said, "So you choose to fight me alone?" Sora and Riku both nodded shortly. "That is either very bold or very foolish," she replied. Luna raised her hoof as darkness began to gather around it. In a burst of darkness, her keyblade appeared, covering the arena in a cloak of darkness that found pinpricks of light in its surface to create the illusion of stars above the arena. This barrier sealed Donald and Goofy outside and prevented them from getting in. "We'll see which one you've chosen," she added as her Nightmare Moon armor surrounded her.

When Sora realized that Donald and Goofy were separated from them, he said, "Are you serious? Again?!" Before he could complain further, the announcer's voice came over the intercom.

"The final match of the Hades cup tournament will begin... now!"

Luna started with the attack she used against Auron during their match, creating a jet of energy like the night sky shooting toward Sora and Riku. Sora immediately cast Reflect, stopping the attack just before it made contact with him and Riku. Luna's magic fizzled out as the Reflect spell activated and fired bursts of light out. Unfortunately, Luna was too far away to be affected by the magic.

Just as Sora's shield dropped, Luna rocketed forward and jabbed him in the stomach, knocking the air out of him as he was propelled backward into the wall of darkness before he fell to his knees on the floor of the arena. Before Riku could react, Luna spun and cut him across with her keyblade. Her attack propelled him backward and staggered him long enough for Luna to land a long string of attacks against him.

Sora quickly cast Cura to heal both himself and Riku before standing and running at Luna as she continued striking Riku. When Luna drew her arm back to bring a final strike on Riku, Sora jumped in the way and held up his keyblade in defense, stopping the Princess's attack and pushing her away from Riku.

As Luna slid backwards on the arena floor, Riku used an elixir to heal himself before he said to Sora, "She's incredible. She's so much faster than when fought her before."

"I noticed," said Sora as he gasped for air. The speed of his movements and guarding had already exhausted him, especially after the damage Luna's attack had done. His Cura spell and the elixir hadn't healed him enough. "We might have to use Session early."

"Already?" asked Riku as he took his eyes off of the recovering Princess in front of them.

"I don't think we have a choice," said Sora. "Let's do it!"

"Alright," said Riku apprehensively as he held his keyblade high in the air, touching it against Sora's as he followed suite.

Luna paused as she watched Riku and Sora charge their light together. When they were ready, both Sora and Riku shouted "Session!" Their attack followed in the same way as before when facing Luna. Both Sora and Riku dashed forward and started bashing at Luna together, knocking her around before backing up a few feet. Then, they repeatedly jabbed her over and over again, knocking her in between them. Sora and Riku quickly combined their keyblades into one blinding streak of light as they continued their attack before Sora split them into thirteen separate blades, each one striking her at his command. To finish the attacks, Sora and Riku's keyblades reformed as they drew the Princess into the air before battering her from both sides with light as she hung suspended above the arena.

When the attack finished and Sora and Riku summoned their keyblades back, they found that Luna was standing up and brushing herself off as if the attack had barely touched her. "I suppose you were actually foolish to challenge me alone. Your attack just proved as much."

"What are you talking about?" asked Sora as he searched for any indication that their attack was successful.

"You used the same attack on me yesterday. Did you really think that I had forgotten our battle?"

That stopped Sora and Riku for a moment. Immediately, they thought back to their fight before. When Sora recalled it, he remembered that he had indeed used the same move. Before he could think more about it, Luna pointed her keyblade at him before firing a jet of darkness his way. Sora wasn't fast enough to stop the attack.

The blast pierced straight through his chest, causing him to freeze in place as the darkness circulated through his system. "Sora!" shouted Riku as he noticed his friend's damage. The darkness slowly drew out of him, bringing with it a loud SHIIIINK sound, like a sword dragging out of a body. When the darkness retracted and returned to Luna's keyblade, Sora's eyes shut and he dropped to the floor, unconscious.

Riku turned back to Luna, shouting, "What did you do to him?!"

"Don't worry," said Luna, a sly grin stretching across her face. "I just tore the darkness from his heart." Luna's voice changed to a harsher tone as her keyblade turned black, channeling more darkness into her body and causing her armor to glow a ghostly blue. Her eyes briefly flashed white, leaving behind thin, dragon-like irises.

Riku glanced back to Sora, watching as Roxas began materializing behind him, keyblade in hand. Wait. Keyblade? thought Riku. Roxas was holding only Sora's Kingdom Key instead of the Oathkeeper and Oblivion keyblades. He also still wore his attire from Twilight town. As soon as Roxas appeared, he fell to his knees, clutching his chest as he screamed in pain. "What's wrong, Roxas?" asked Riku, fearing for his safety.

"Urgh," groaned Roxas as he tried to speak. "She did something... to Sora," he struggled through clenched teeth as he pounded a fist to the arena floor. "My heart... it hurts..."

"Heart?" asked Riku. "But I thought that-"

"Watch out!" shouted Roxas, interrupting Riku to warn him of Luna's advance. The Princess of the night dashed forward and swung her keyblade horizontally in a wide arc. Her keyblade would have hit Riku had it not been for Roxas's warning, allowing Riku the time to spin and guard her attack. When she approached, Riku could make out a harsher expression on her face, almost as if she was a different pony from the one they had met in the alley.

Riku pushed back hard against her, sending Luna back to the other side of the arena. He turned to Roxas as he asked, "Can you fight?"

Roxas used his keyblade as support to stand up before taking a deep breathe and relaxing into his combat stance. "I'll do my best," he grunted.

"Great," said Riku. "Something's wrong with the Princess. We need to snap her out of it. Are your ready?"

"Yeah," said Roxas as he prepared himself.

"Then let's go!" shouted Riku. He ran forward and locked keyblades with Luna, both trying to overpower the other. Roxas jumped in and swung at Luna's side where she was unprotected. However, a jet of darkness launched from her body, guarding the attack before retaliating and forcing Roxas to retreat. At the same time, Luna overpowered Riku and broke through his attack, pushing him back and stunning him for a moment. Before he could recover, Luna uppercutted him and threw him into the air toward the roof of her black dome. At her command, three jets of darkness launched from around her and grabbed Riku before throwing him into the ground below.

When Riku impacted the ground, he clenched his teeth in pain. "Roxas!" he shouted.

"Right," he responded. Roxas ran forward and struck Luna while she was distracted, landing a strong combo against her that staggered her for a moment, releasing Riku as Roxas landed another combo. Before he could continue his attack, Luna recovered and struck Roxas, sending him careening across the arena and knocking him out in the process.

Riku stood up and quickly cast Cure, recovering himself and Roxas. "How do we beat her?" asked Riku as Roxas stepped up beside him.

"No idea," said Roxas. "That darkness she's using is strong. I got lucky to get through it while she was distracted with you."

"Let's just try attacking her head-on," suggested Riku. "Nothing else is working, so maybe we just have to overpower her altogether."

"Whatever you say," said Roxas, unsure.

"Let's do it," said Riku. Both he and Roxas ran forward as Luna charged to meet them. When Riku and Luna's keyblades clashed, Roxas jumped over Riku and attempted to jab Luna from above. Darkness tried to block him, but he plowed through it and struck Luna hard, beating her into the ground. As she stood up, both Riku and Roxas continued to strike her, keeping her from recovering. Eventually, her darkness started to disperse, destroying her armor and revealing her body beneath it.

"Keep it up!" shouted Riku. After two minutes of constant attacks, Luna's darkness finally broke as Roxas landing a strong, final hit on her. Both Riku and Roxas jumped away as they gasped in exhaustion. "Did we do it?" asked Riku.

After a moment, Princess Luna stood up again. This time, however, she showed no traces of darkness around her keyblade. "You stopped it," she said quietly. "I can't believe you did it." She collapsed to the floor, unconscious. Riku and Roxas relaxed, taking a deep breath of relief.

Suddenly, a raging darkness erupted from her body, blasting it around the arena and strengthening the dark barrier. Her body was lifted into the air as her armor began forming around her again. "Are you kidding me?!" shouted Roxas. "We just finished her. How can she keep fighting?!"

"I don't think that's really her," said Riku. He paused for a moment in thought. "Roxas," he began, beginning to charge his keyblade with light at its tip. "If we can put enough light under that armor, she might be able to break through if she wakes up and uses it. Can you help me?" he asked.

"I'll try," replied Roxas. He shut his eyes as he focused, trying to gather light into his keyblade. However, his heart was still weak from the attack that Luna had used on Sora. He still gave it his all as a small glow began to form around the tip of his keyblade. "This is all I've got," he managed as he put all of his energy into his keyblade.

"Then let's get her," said Riku. He leveled his keyblade at the Princess and Roxas followed suit. "Now!" shouted Riku. At the same moment, Riku and Roxas both released their light, firing a pure white beam toward Princess Luna's heart, embedding itself under her armor as it closed around her, the darkness disappearing under it.

"What a weak string of attacks," said Luna, her voice reverting to its twisted state. "Did you really think that would work?"

"Princess Luna!" shouted Riku. "Wake up! You have to break through the darkness before it consumes you. Roxas and I have given you what we can. Now, it's up to you!"

"What in Equestria are you babbling about?" asked the Princess. After a moment, she realized what they were getting at. "Don't be silly," she mocked. "She can't hear you anymore. She let her inner darkness out, and now no one can hear her scre-" As she finished that last word, her voice was cut off as she dropped on her knees. "What's happening to me?" she shrieked.

"I think we got to her," said Roxas. "Keep fighting it, Princess!"

Luna began writhing in pain as her heart began to fight out of her possessed armor. "Aaargggh!" she yelled as the armor began breaking off again, dissolving into light as it fell to the ground. Underneath, all Roxas and Riku could see was a bright light radiating from under the holes in her armor.

Riku turned to Roxas as he said, "Come on. Let's help her finish it off."

"Right," said Roxas as they both turned back to Luna. Together, they sprinted forward and jumped into the air before bringing their keyblades straight down on Luna, splitting her armor apart as the arena was bathed in light. When the light dimmed down, Roxas and Riku saw the darkness around the arena dissolve as Luna collapsed to the floor, finally ending the fight.

"And the winner is team 1!" shouted the announcer. "Congratulations on completing the Hades cup. Are you ready for your reward?" Both Riku and Roxas tensed. Outside the arena toward one of the walls, the wall itself opened up, revealing the spiraling, green vortex of the Well of Souls.

In a blaze of fire, Hades appeared in front of it and stepped into the arena. "That's right you two. Playtime's over!" he shouted in anger. "How in Zeus' name did you win?! Seriously! I could have sworn the darkness would take the pony. But obviously, that wasn't enough. So now," he said as his skin turned bright red, "I'll deal with you myself!" The area around the arena burst into flame, blocking out everything around it and preventing entry. Almost.

Just as the flames erupted, Donald and Goofy jumped into the arena and crowded around Sora. "Don't forget about us!" said Donald in protest. He immediately held up his staff, casting Curaga on Sora. With a quick spin, Sora rose into the air and touched down, summoning his keyblade as he did so. As he took his surroundings in, his face contorted in confusion.

"Hades?" he asked, confused. "What are you doing here?"

The god of the Underworld looked as if he was about to explode in response. The next thing Sora noticed was Roxas. "Wait. If I'm awake, then how are you..."

"Heck if I know," he said as he faced Hades, disbelief on his face as he marveled at the god's power. "But let's focus on the fight, okay?"

Sora snapped out of it and ran up to join Roxas and Riku, Donald and Goofy not far behind. "Right," said Sora as he too dropped into a crouch. "Let's do this!"

Olympus Colosseum (part 4)

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Each pony watched in awe at the display in the arena; first the battle with Luna and then the appearance of Hades. Twilight in particular found both her curiosity and confusion peaking at the same time. She was trying to process both Luna's actions, her overpowering darkness and the fact that her friends were in danger and she was powerless to help them. Unless...

Twilight started focusing magic into her horn, preparing for a teleport spell. However, when she tried to teleport, her magic was rebounded back into her, staggering her as the dizziness of the failed spell set in.

As soon as her head cleared, Twilight summoned the headset inside her armor and contacted the others. "Everyone," she began, "we need to get out there and help them. Any ideas?"

"Did you try teleporting?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Yes, but something's blocking my magic. I can't get through," said Twilight despairingly. "They need our help, but I don't know what to do."

"Why don't we just try breakin' the doors down?" offered Applejack. "I mean, they can't be that strong, right?"

Applejack reared back her legs and kicked hard against the gate leading to the arena, immediately sending pain through her hind legs and forcing a yelp out of her that was blasted through the rest of the ponys' headsets. "Ok," she groaned. "Don't try to break down the door."

"So what are we gonna do?" asked Rainbow. They all sat still in thought as the battle in the arena began.

Hades started building fire around himself before erupting three pillars of fire around him that turned his body red. Before the others could react, Hades threw back his hand, summoned a large ball of fire, and flung it at Riku who was forced to guard it with his keyblade. Instead of rebounding like Sora expected, the ball of fire exploded and blasted what appeared to be big, sticky masses of liquid fire that clung to Riku. The keyblade warrior screamed in pain as the fire remained latched to his body and burned him.

"Curaga!" shouted Sora in an attempt to heal Riku. It succeeded, but Riku quickly fell back into pain as the fire withered his strength.

While this was happening, Hades disappeared in a plume of smoke before reappearing behind Roxas. As Roxas tried to find where the god of the Underworld had gone, he was met with pain lancing down his back as Hades clawed him with fire-cloaked hands. As Roxas tumbled forward, he rolled and sprang back up, prepared for another attack. When none came, he decided to dash forward and strike at Hades. All of Roxas's strikes passed through the god and he immediately teleported again, disappearing from sight.

He reappeared near Sora and Riku. Sora was trying to find a way to remove the clinging fire on Riku who was still down while Donald and Goofy guarded them. As soon as Hades appeared, Goofy charged in an attempt to knock him into the air where Donald would cast Thundaga on him. Instead, he grabbed Goofy's shield and threw him to the side before firing another sticky ball of fire at Donald. The attack tossed Donald across the arena where he rolled to a stop on the arena floor, the fire still burning him as he lost consciousness.

Each of the ponies watched in dismay as the chaos grew in the arena. The entire time, Twilight was trying everything she could to get through the door: breaking down the gate with her keyblade, casting various spells on it, and trying to kick it in the same way that Applejack had with no success. Eventually, she gave up and dropped to the floor. Then she remembered.

There was one thing she had yet to try. Reaching out with her magic, she searched for Sora's light in the arena. It took a few moments, but she located it successfully. As soon as she was sure the heart was his, she channeled all of her light through her magic and straight to him. Before she knew it, she had disappeared completely from her room.

In the arena, Sora felt a familiar presence in his heart. Suddenly, he recoiled and hovered in the air for a moment. Before he knew it, a hexagonal barrier began forming around him. "What?!" he said through gritted teeth before the energy from his Drive bound his arms and legs in place as he transformed. Hades paused his attack on a defending Goofy to watch what was going on. In a blinding flash, the barrier exploded away from Sora, leaving him standing on the arena floor. His clothes had turned an amethyst color and two wings made of pure, purple energy had sprung from his back. His keyblade had a lavender glow around it and it was pulsating with magic, creating occasional bursts of Thunder and Fire magic around Sora.

Sora opened his eyes when he found himself standing. He looked himself over as he felt magic flowing through him freely, most of it ending up in his keyblade. He admired his new look, particularly the wings, before turning around to face Hades.

"What the heck was that?!" shouted Hades as more fire erupted from his body, turning his skin dark red as black as jets of flame began firing from his arms and shoulders uncontrollably.

"I think I know," said Sora, trying to stay calm. He realized what had happened as soon as he saw how his clothes had changed. Shutting his eyes, he began focusing on his heart.


Twilight had no idea where she was exactly. She seemed to be standing on a pillar of glass similar to the one she remembered seeing in her heart. It depicted a younger version of Sora with clothes similar to his Limit form. He held his keyblade while he appeared to be sleeping. Suddenly, she heard a voice.

Twilight, can you hear me?

"That sounds like Sora," said Twilight as she turned around, attempting to locate the direction of the voice.

It is.

"Sora?" she asked, looking around eagerly in an attempt to find him. "Where am I?"

You must be in my heart, Twilight.

"You're heart?" she asked skeptically. "You mean like what happened to Fluttershy and I in Equestria when you arrived?"

I think so. Listen to me. I don't know how you did it again, but you linked to my heart. That means you're giving your power to me for a little bit.

"How does that work?" asked Twilight, getting used to not seeing Sora and focusing on his voice instead.

Do you remember when Riku and Donald vanished during my fight with Cloud at the beginning of the tournament?

"Yes. Why?" she asked plainly.

They temporarily became part of my heart like you are now. By combining our power, I can use both of our energy together to fight harder and stronger for a little while. Just sit tight for a little bit, okay?

"But how does this work?" asked Twilight.

I'll explain after we separate. For now, I need you to focus with me.

"Whatever you say, Sora," said Twilight skeptically. Immediately, the darkness around the pillar she was on disappeared and was replaced with a view of the arena. She could see Sora, Roxas, Riku, Donald, and Goofy all together. Donald and Goofy were unconscious and Riku was still on fire.

"Twilight?" asked Riku as he opened his eyes through the fire and saw Sora. When he saw Sora's clothes, he realized what Twilight had done. "I see," Riku said as he lost consciousness as well.

Hades attempted to meet Sora in the middle of the arena. When Sora's keyblade clashed with Hades's hands, the god's fire receded as Sora's keyblade fired off overpowered Blizzaga spells into his hands. Hades recoiled as he screamed in pain. Sora leaped backwards while Roxas charged towards Hades and struck him repeatedly, successfully landing blow after now that Hades had been weakened.

"Did we do that?" asked Twilight as Sora jumped back.

Yep. That's the kind of power we have when we're linked like this. Are you ready to keep going?

"I think so," said Twilight. "I feel kind of tired though."

Then we need to make this quick. We can't stay linked too long. If we do, then we'll both pass out from the overexertion.

"That's not good," said Twilight worriedly.

No, it's not, said Sora seriously.

"Let's keep it up!" he shouted as he charged forward again. This time, he channeled Twilight's knowledge of flight and used his new "wings" to propel himself forward faster. As he struck Hades, more ice flowed from his keyblade and struck the god over and over, knocking him around before he teleported away.

As soon as he reappeared, Roxas was ready for him. As Hades tried to assess Sora's new powers, Roxas came at him from the side and delivered a strong combo to him. Before Roxas could continue, Hades rage built again and he unleashed a large pillar of fire from his body that pushed Roxas back and nearly knocked him out.

Hades had turned red again and he immediately began throwing balls of fire toward Sora. The keyblade warrior quickly wrapped his new wings around himself as the fire struck him, burning him and dealing damage. When the fire had stuck completely, Sora flared his wings, throwing the fire away from and tossing it around the arena. It clung to the floor in a few spots and Hades even had to duck to escape a piece traveling straight toward his head.

"My turn," said Sora. He quickly prepared a Blizzaga spell at the tip of his keyblade. Hades, angered by Sora's quick recovery, flew toward him with both hands erupting in flame. As soon as he was close enough, Sora pointed his keyblade at him and blasted him with his overcharged Blizzard spell. This threw the god backwards and lowered his strength, turning him blue again. Once again, Roxas moved to Hades and dealt a string of combos against him, forcing him to teleport again. This time, he didn't appear to be in the arena.

"Where did he go?" asked Roxas as he frantically looked around.

"No idea," said Sora as he did the same.

Sora! Above you! Twilight's voice brought Sora's attention to the ceiling of the arena. When he looked up, he saw that Hades had turned black again. Over his head, the god held a ball of fire larger than the arena itself.

"I'm throwing everything I have at you!" he screamed in rage. "There is no way in Tartarus you can survive this!"

"Um, Sora?" asked Roxas in fear. "What is he doing?"

"I have no idea," said Sora, struggling to keep his jaw from dropping.

"Then how are we gonna stop that?" asked Roxas as he instinctively began backing up.

Sora! Do you remember what you did in Equestria when we were in my heart? It was when I connected to you like we did here. Something happened to your keyblade and you used it to destroy that huge heartless.

Sora's eyes lit up in realization. "Roxas?" he said. "I have an idea!" On the arena floor, Sora aimed his keyblade at Hades in the air. He channeled as much of his light as he could into the end of keyblade as he prepared to reuse his powerful attack that Twilight had given him. When he had built up enough energy, the end of his keyblade exploded, again revealing a bright ball of light within the blade as the shards of the destroyed tip began circling around the ball of light itself.

"No you don't!" screamed Hades. By now, the ball of fire was pushing against the ceiling of the arena. It threatened to burst as it scorched the ceiling black. Hades threw his hand forward as he screamed in anger, launching the ball of fire directly at Sora and Roxas. At the same time, Sora unleashed his light, firing off a massive beam of energy that plowed through the ball of fire, splitting it into hundreds of pieces as Sora's attack continued toward Hades.

As the god's failed attack crumbled at the edge of the arena, Sora's light struck him, plowing through his body completely and leaving the god breathless. As the light died down, Hades plummeted rapidly to the arena floor before landing hard with a loud PWUMFF from his cloak.

As soon as Hades dropped to the floor, Sora and Twilight's link began to fade, causing Sora to revert while Twilight appeared next to him. "How did I get out here?" she asked confusedly when she realized where she was.

Before she could get an answer, Hades shakily stood up from the edge of the arena. "This *cough* isn't *cough* over..."

"Actually, I'm pretty sure it is," said Roxas as he stood beside Sora and Twilight. Sora held his reformed keyblade high and cast Curaga to heal everyone. They stood up and brushed themselves off before joining Sora as well.

"You idiots. You can't kill a god," coughed Hades as he disappeared in a plume of smoke. The gates to the arena and those leading out of it opened up, letting in a cheering group of ponies and people from all sides of the arena.

"That was so cool!" shouted Rainbow Dash as she flew toward the others, landing next to them with a gust of wind.

"Yeah!" cheered Pinkie. "You really wrecked his cupcake!" Riku couldn't help but chuckle to himself at that.

"That was impressive," added Leon as he and the others joined Sora and the ponies.

"Um, Sora?" asked Fluttershy as she approached him.

"What's up?" he responded.

"Didn't Twilight do the same thing in Equestria? Why didn't you change then?"

Sora had to pause and think about that one. "If I had to guess," he began, "I'd say it has to do with how much she's grown after all this."

"Really?" asked Twilight. "But I don't feel any different."

"I meant in your heart," said Sora. "Wielding the keyblade must have jump started you and given you the potential to form a stronger link like that. "

"So does that mean the rest of us can use something similar with you?" asked Rarity.

"Maybe, but let's not be too hasty," said Sora. "Back on Equestria, I told Twilight not to try and link with me again because it was dangerous. Even though she's stronger now, I'm not sure if we can just start using this kind of power all the time. Let's ask Yen Sid about it when we ask about Mega-Ragnarok."

"Speakin' of that," began Applejack, "when are we gonna learn how to do that new move Yen Sid was tellin' us about?"

"He told us to wait until you were all stronger," said Riku. "After seeing you all really fight in the tournament, I think you're close. Let's explore a few more worlds first."

"Do we really have to go already?" asked Pinkie, disappointed.

"I'm sorry, Pinkie," said Sora sadly, "but Twilight was right. We have to keep looking for a portal to the Dark Realm. I need to save my friends."

"That's okay," answered Pinkie cheerily. "If your friends are stuck, then you're right. Let's go!"

Before Sora could stop her, Pinkie dashed out of the arena, shouting out, "Whoohoo!" multiple times as she ran.

As the group watched her go, Sora picked up on hoof steps approaching him. When he turned around, he found Princess Luna, the hood of her cloak laying on her shoulders. She appeared to be normal, all traces of the darkness she had used during the fight gone.

"Hey there, Princess," said Sora happily. "How are you doing?"

"My head aches," admitted the Princess, "but I should be alright soon."

"That's good to hear," said Sora.

"And Sora?" began Luna again.


"I must apologize for what I did to you in the arena. I became to... enthusiastic about the battle. I could have caused irreparable damage to your heart. Can you forgive me?" she asked as she bowed her head in shame.

"Sure," said Sora immediately. Luna quickly looked up. "I'm okay now, right? So no harm done." Luna remained silent. "Besides, I think you did something good." Luna's jaw dropped.

"B-but how?" she stuttered. "How could what I did to you be good in any way?!"

Sora simply turned his head and gestured toward Roxas. The boy was standing away from the group by a few yards, looking over his body and marveling at it. "I'm... alive again," he said, just barely audible enough to understand. "I feel... whole."

"It think that's because you are," said Riku, approaching him and laying a hand on his shoulder. "Whatever Luna did to you separated your heart from Sora's. During the Mark of Mastery exam, Xemnas told me that some of the Organization members were getting their own hearts, like they were growing new ones. Honestly, after fighting you those years ago and watching you as you lived out your time with Lea and that... other... one... -- I'm sorry, but I can't remember a name -- I'd say you had a heart most of the time. But, since you still held part of Sora's power, you still had to join with him in the end to wake him up. But after everything that's happened to you and Sora, I guess you both grew even more, certainly enough to wield your own keyblades separate from each other."

As if by an unspoken command, both Sora's and Roxas's keyblades materialized in their hands, briefly flashing when they arrived. After a moment, Roxas asked, "But what happened to me when we separated? During those battles, I couldn't use two keyblades or any of Sora's abilities."

"Like I said," began Riku, "You're separate now. I think it's safe to assume that the power you used came from him, just as some of your memories were awakened in him during our Mark of Mastery exam." Riku paused for a moment before adding, "But this is all just a theory. Let's add this to the growing list of questions we'll have for Yen Sid."

Roxas looked again to his keyblade. For the first time since he'd weilded it in Traverse Town, the weapon felt like it truly belonged to him, like he was the one meant to wield it. It felt right to grip the handle and to swing it a few times. He had brief flashbacks of swinging the stick in the alley outside of the Usual Spot in Traverse Town. But this time, it felt real.

"So, Luna," began Sora, "Are you ready to go back to Equestria?"

"No. Not yet," she said sadly. "I can still feel the darkness. Nightmare Moon yet dwells in my heart. Whatever you did during our battle helped, but part of her still resides deep within me."

"Maybe I can help you with that," offered Riku. He stepped toward her as he said, "About a year ago, the heartless of Xehanort was stuck in my heart, but I defeated him. It took a long time, but I finally pushed him out. Maybe I can help you do the same."

"I appreciate the offer, Riku, but this is a demon I am meant to fight alone," said Luna reluctantly.

"But why can't Riku help you?" asked Sora. "Besides, didn't you say you wanted our help to get rid of that darkness?"

"After what happened today, no," she answered flatly. "Darkness this powerful within a heart is meant to be overcome alone. And in answer to your second question, I don't think I am capable of trusting myself with this darkness around warriors of light who bear such importance. I'm afraid no mortal is better equipped to defeat Xehanort and the heartless."

"What makes you think that?" asked Twilight.

"To be honest, they are the only two here who demonstrate the traits of a Keyblade Master. The rest of you are not nearly close to being ready."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," grumbled Rainbow out the side of her mouth. Luna had to suppress a chuckle at her reaction.

"That is not to say you six will never reach that point." The ponies perked up at that. "I was watching during each of your battles. You all demonstrate great skill wielding the keyblade already. With proper training and guidance, you may be able to achieve the title of Master sooner than my sister anticipated. In fact," she turned to Sora. "He still hasn't attained the Mark of Mastery," she finished as she pointed a hoof his way.

"Hey!" said Sora indignantly. "I still helped free sleeping worlds. That's gotta count for something, right? Right?!"

The others remained silent as they fought back chuckles of their own. Leon and the rest of the gang from Traverse Town approached Sora. "Are you ready to help us fight the heartless on top of the Gizmo Shop now?" he asked hopefully.

"I'm not sure," said Sora as he crossed his arms and shut his eyes in thought. "Yen Sid told us that we had to get stronger together before we could use Mega Ragnarok, but I'm not sure if we're ready..."

"Why don't we just go back to town and blow it up?" asked Pinkie cheerfully as she dashed back into the arena to resume the conversation like she'd been there the whole time. "You and Twilight did that really cool laser thingy! I bet that can kill it."

"I suppose," said Sora, still thinking. "But, at the same time, how can we be sure that we can defeat it anyway? Maybe that attack won't be enough. After all, we've only used it twice now."

"Uh, Sora?" began Applejack as she approached him. "You just shot a big 'ol laser through the god of the Underworld. If somethin' like that can't bring down that big beast of a heartless, I don't know what will."

"I'm afraid she had a point," agreed Rarity with a nod of her head. "That marvelous form you took during that fight was fantastic. I doubt some disgusting heartless could stand up to such a force."

Sora felt uneasy about it, but from what the others were saying, the evidence pointed to the quick extermination of the heartless plaguing Traverse Town. "Alright," he reluctantly agreed. "We'll give it a try."

"Alrighty then," said Cid as he slung his spear over his shoulder. "Just follow our gummi ship with those flyin' things you've got."

"We've got the gummi ship now," said Riku. "We ran into Donald and Goofy on the way here, so they're joining us."

"Well shoot," added Cid with a smile. "Do you still have the warp gummi installed?"

"I'll have to double check it, but I think so," said Sora. "There's no reason why we would have removed it."

"Then just warp back to Traverse town with that," said Cid. The pilot then led the rest of the group from Traverse Town out of the arena and back to the over-world of the Olympus Colosseum.

"We'd better go," said Riku. "Roxas, are you ready?" he called to the boy.

"Yeah. I think I am," he said happily. He jogged over to Sora and the others before they all walked out of the arena, leaving behind the Underdrome as they left the Underworld as well.

As they all boarded the gummi ship, Fluttershy approached Sora. "Sora?" she asked timidly.

"What's wrong Fluttershy?" he asked.

"What happened to Hades? Is he gone?"

"I doubt it," said Sora. Fluttershy momentarily flinched. "We've fought him several times now. To be honest, I don't think there's a way to get rid of him permanently. But after what happened this time, I doubt he'll mess with us again."

"That's good to hear," said Fluttershy as she relaxed and prepared to be teleported to the gummi ship. As the group finished entering the ship, Sora moved to the console and started searching through the system to find data for the warp gummi. Luckily, he managed to dig it up from within files years old and long untouched.

"Well, the data's here," he declared. "But I'm not seeing the actual block itself." He put his hands on his hips as he thought about what happened to it.

"This is the one Master Yen Sid gave us," said Goofy as he joined Sora in the cockpit. "Maybe he didn't have a warp gummi to put on it."

"Then why is the data still there if we don't have the block itself?" asked Sora.

"I don't know," said Goofy as he tapped a finger to his forehead. "I guess we just need to get a new one somehow."

"But where are we gonna find one?" asked Sora, digging deep into his head for the answer.

"Maybe there's a world nearby that has one," offered Donald as he joined them.

"But what kind of world are we gonna find a warp gummi in?" asked Sora. After a few moments of thinking, he gave up and said, "Well, that's what the radar is for." Sora put his hands to the console and activated the radar. He quickly located several worlds nearby. One was Cocoon, where Lightning and the others were. The next was Agrabah; further away than Cocoon, but not by much. The third and final world nearby was unidentified. On one side glowed a large neon sign which read, "Pizza Planet" in glowing yellow letters. Next to it sat a large rocket that was standing up like it was ready to launch. The sign stood on top of a round building. On the opposite side of the world was a collection of houses, two of which stood out by being slightly taller than the rest. "Hey guys. What about this one?"

Donald and Goofy approached the console and looked at the world. "That looks like a rocket ship," said Donald as he scrutinized the image on the screen.

"Do you think that has a warp gummi?" asked Goofy as he tapped a finger to his chin.

"Let's hope so," said Sora. "Maybe that building is some kind of launch station for that rocket. I mean, we've found navigation gummi's in weirder spots. Maybe we'll find something there."

"I guess it's worth a shot," said Goofy as he turned around and sat down in his chair. As Donald and Sora sat down as well, Twilight and Riku entered the cockpit.

"So are we headed back to Traverse Town?" asked Twilight.

"Not right away," said Sora. "The gummi ship is missing something called a warp gummi. It could take a few days to get back to Traverse Town without one."

"So where can we get one?" asked Riku.

"Well, I was thinking that a new world nearby might have one," said Sora. "There's some kind of rocket ship on it, so maybe they have one."

Riku sighed. "Sora, just because there's a rocket ship doesn't mean we'll find a gummi block there." When he saw Sora's head lower in disappointment, he added, "But it can't hurt to look." When Sora lifted his head again, Riku gave him a small smile.

Seeing this, Sora spun around in his chair and started tapping at the console. "Then let's get going. Twilight, the rest of you should get some rest. After the tournament, I'm sure you're all exhausted."

"Sora," began Twilight as she sighed, "I've been waiting to hear that all day." She turned around without another word and went back to the bedrooms to meet with her friends.

Riku chuckled to himself as he sat down in a fourth chair. When Sora thought everyone was ready, he grabbed hold of the steering wheel and said, "Here we go!" as the gummi ship flew away from the Olympus Colosseum.