Last time our heroes escaped the bowels of The Death Stalker, only to fight the out of control Togakuto on the deck of the enemy ship, a fight that resulted in Riku and Aiden using Drives for the first time. Rakel then betrayed Konrad by stealing all his energy, then she merged with Togakuto, creating a really strong Heartless, while at the same time, using the ship as a Heartless as well.
Our heroes had to make a run for it on The Going Merry, but the enemy ship chased after them and would have destroyed them, if it hadn't been for a little something that Nami had 'acquired.' The enemy ship was destroyed, but the mutated Togakuto struck back and crippled The Going Merry.
Outraged, Luffy unleashed one of his most powerful attacks that destroyed Togakuto and left Rakel in a vulnerable state that got her knocked unconscious. Pete saved her from downing, and they both, along with Konrad, the demon Kichot, as well as Ursula, returned to New Hollow Bastion on Maleficent's orders.
King Mickey then appeared on The Going Merry, saying that he was sending a portal to pick up our heroes. Sora and the others said their goodbyes to Luffy and his crew, promising to come back and help find that worlds' Keyhole. 'Nuff said, on with the show!
Chapter 10: The Adventure Continues Again
…New Hollow Bastion…
"Once again I am very disappointed," said Maleficent as she sat on her throne of darkness. Konrad and Rakel, both having made partial recoveries from the battle, kneeled before the throne. Pete and Kichot stood to one side of the room, while Ursula waited at the other side, cautiously edging towards the door in an attempt to leave before Maleficent noticed her.
"Great one!" said Konrad in a placating tone, "it wasn't my fault that The Keyblade Wielders still live. I would have destroyed them myself," he glared angrily, "if this wench hadn't betrayed me!"
"I did what was necessary," said Rakel, "if I had merged with Togakuto with my normal powers, I wouldn't have survived. I had to take your energy."
"You should have asked first!" spat Konrad.
"As if you would have given willingly," sneered Rakel, "and in any case, it is still your fault that we lost!"
"And why is that?" Konrad demanded.
"You should have chosen a better pirate to team up with!" said Rakel, "one of stronger character. Togakuto was weak, otherwise his body would have lasted longer against that rubber freak, whom I still intend to destroy."
"I joined forced with Togakuto and his crew because his ship had the rift in it!" said Konrad, "and I was only using him to find the Keyhole! Ursula was the one who turned him into a Heartless! Fat lot of good that did!"
"Don't call me fat!" exclaimed Ursula.
"Enough!" shouted Maleficent, purple lighting crackling from her staff, "the three of you are equally to blame for this fiasco!"
"What 'bout us?" Pete asked fearfully, while Kichot trembled in terror.
"You were just performing your task, Pete," said Maleficent, "so, unfortunately, I cannot take my anger out on you, yet."
Pete then sighed with relief.
"As for this familiar," said Maleficent as she focused her gaze on Kichot, whom was cringing in anticipation of a wrathful punishment, "I believe it should continue with its duties."
"Then, I will not be harmed?" Kichot asked hopefully.
"With one extra duty," said Maleficent, "which I will reveal soon enough," she then returned her gaze to Konrad and Rakel, "now, as for you, and you, Ursula, I know you are trying to escape, it won't do you any good!"
"As if you could do anything to me," said Ursula in a daring tone as she walked to the center of the room.
"You shall soon see just what I can do," said Maleficent.
Just then Hades walked into the room. "What is it this time, Mal? I've got worlds to drown in darkness, dark souls to find and Heartless to collect, so this had better be good." He then saw Ursula, "oh, you're here to. Let me guess, Sora's still alive?"
"As are the other Keyblade Wielders," said Maleficent, "but they will be dealt with in time. Once again I have denied them from returning to their universe. They will be found again, by our side, and destroyed.
"But first there are matters to be attended to. Hades, I've known all along about the arrangement you had with Ursula, and I was prepared to allow it, if only to give Ursula the incentive to destroy Sora."
"You knew all along?" Rakel asked in an outraged tone, "you knew and you still sent me out to destroy Sora and his friends?"
Maleficent ignored Rakel, "but apparently the threat of eternal oblivion isn't enough for Ursula. So now I must act. Since the two of you have such a 'relationship,' that will be your punishment."
"Nobody punishes me!" snapped Ursula.
"Why am I being punished?" Hades demanded, "I didn't do anything! It's the blubbery one who messed up!"
"Silence!" snapped Maleficent as she raised her staff and blasted the two Villains with dark magic. Neither of them were harmed, but they felt that they had been cursed.
"This is for making arrangements that resulted in failure," said Maleficent, "And I have absolutely no tolerance for failure, not without punishment that is. Your punishment is that from now on, you will work together, no matter what."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ursula asked.
"It means that from now on," said Maleficent, "The two of you are forbidden from being more than 20 paces from each other, not without dire consequences that is."
"Consequences schmonsequences," said Hades in a nonchalant tone, "I'm outta here." The god of the underworld tried to leave the room, but then for some reason, Ursula was pulled, not walked, pulled, right into him. The two Villains stumbled without falling though.
"What in my dominion is wrong with you!" an irate Hades asked.
"I didn't do it!" said Ursula, "something pushed me into you."
"It has begun," said a wickedly smiling Maleficent.
"Just go away," said Hades, "I've got work to do."
"So do I!" said Ursula. She tried to walk away, but then Hades was pulled my the curse to her. Again they smashed into each other and this time they collapsed to the floor in a heap.
"I assume a further demonstration is unnecessary," said Maleficent.
"You're gonna take this whammy off of us right now, sister!" exclaimed Hades as his skin and hair turned red with anger, "Or I'm gonna burn this whole house down!"
"You'll find that Organization XIII showed enough intelligence by making the entire castle flame retardant," said Maleficent, "now, I suggest that the two of you become accustomed to each other; you will be spending much time in each others company for the foreseeable future."
Hades and Ursula glared at each other for a few seconds before finally, Hades held out his hand as his skin and hair resumed their normal blue, "Truce?"
"Truce," said Ursula as she shook Hades hand, "at least until we figure out how to get out of this mess."
"You won't get any arguments from me, toots," said Hades.
"Then I suggest that the two of you leave and continue on your mission," said Maleficent, "seek out new worlds to plunge into darkness, develop stronger forms of Heartless, and find others willing to join the cause."
Both Hades and Ursula glared at Maleficent, then the both left the throne room.
"Those two won't last," said Pete, "mark my words, they'll kill each other before long."
"Perhaps," said Maleficent, "perhaps it would be for the best if those two were to be eliminated. Unfortunately, we are stuck with them. Now," she then glared at Rakel and Konrad, "your punishments."
"I didn't do anything wrong!" snapped Konrad, "I've been saying that I was following my instructions to the letter! Rakel is the one who is at fault! She should be punished, not I!"
"You're the one who got me into this mess!" spat Rakel, "you're in this as much as I am!"
"Silence!" shouted Maleficent as she used a spell that temporarily deprived the two Hakonians of their voices, "you two are as much to blame for this fiasco as Ursula, and like her, you will be punished!"
She then focused her wrathful glare on Konrad and returned his voice to him, "first, you. You believe yourself to be better than everyone else, even your fellow Hakonians, all because of a misguided devotion to an outdated caste system of a broken civilization.
"It is this self-centeredness of yours that lead to the disaster. Therefore, it is necessary that you must lose that self-centeredness. Your punishment, Konrad Soulreaver, is to clean the castle from top to bottom, every corridor, every tower, every dungeon, every nook and cranny, and I want it all done without magic." Maleficent then gave Konrad back his voice.
"You can't be serious!" said a shocked Konrad, "me? cleaning the castle? That…that's peasant work! I won't do it! I'll die before I clean one inch of this filthy place! I won't do it! I wont! I WON'T!"
"You will!" said Maleficent as she used a spell that forced Konrad to do so. A nearby bucket full of cleaning supplies had been summoned next to Konrad. His body moved stiffly as he fought against the compulsion placed on him, but his will was no longer his own. He picked up the bucket and went to work.
"No!" exclaimed Konrad as he was forced out into the corridors and began scrubbing the floor, "No! I am of the Hakonian elite! I won't be degraded in this manner!" But his shouts of denial only made his body work harder.
"This place is huge," said Pete, "he'll be at it forever."
"I estimate several days," said Kichot, "at the very least. And then of course, there is the outside of the castle. By the time he is finished on the outside, the inside will be dirty again, so he'll do doubt be forced to start all over again."
The demon familiar looked at Maleficent with an expression of fear, awe and respect, "you've forced that man into a vicious, never-ending cycle designed to torment him in mind, body and soul. Truly, you are the mistress of all evil."
"This one knows how to deliver praise when praise is due," said Maleficent to Rakel, "you've chosen your familiar well." She then gave Rakel her voice back.
"We sort of ran into each other, great one," said Rakel un an uncertan tone.
"Such is the way events play out," said Maleficent. She then glared wrathfully at Rakel, "And now for your punishment, Rakel Mindblighter. Once again, I am very disappointed. You showed so much potential. You still do, but first you must surrender some…unwanted qualities."
"If you're thinking that you can make me give up my feelings for Reddik," said Rakel as she glared defiantly at Maleficent, "you're wrong! I love him and he loves me! There, I've said it and I'm glad I said it! If that doesn't fit into your new order, if having feelings is a crime, then I'm guilty!"
"Such a crime would merit death," said Maleficent, "but then, you will not have learned your lesson. You will live, Rakel, but not with a heart filled with emotions that have no place in my domain. I will force those emotions from your heart."
"And just how are you going to do that?" Rakel asked, "send me to the dungeons and do some impossible task like Erika? Make me clean the castle with Konrad? Or are you going to force me to merge with another Heartless? That'll surely kill me like it did with Ulrik. If you're going to kill me then do it already!"
"I have something more elaborate in mind," said Maleficent, "and your medical history has provided me with inspiration."
Rakel looked at Maleficent with confusion, before realization dawned on her face, her eyes wide with fear of what was to come, "no! No! Not that!"
"Yes!" said Maleficent, "that!" she the cast a spell on Rakel, one that centered on her mind.
"What happened?" Pete asked, "she don't look any different."
"Wait and see," said Maleficent.
Just then a look of unparallel anxiety came on Rakel's face, as if she were experiencing a great personal fear. She began moving her hands as if scrubbing them of some invisible contaminant, all the while hyperventilating and sweating out of terror.
"What did you do?" a shocked and awed Kichot asked.
"I turned her condition against her," said Maleficent, "Rakel is in the process of experiencing an irrational fear that will surely destroy her…unless she finds a way to alleviate that anxiety."
The level of fear that Rakel was experiencing was paralyzing, and the stress her body was undergoing would eventually be fatal, but then something caught her eye. Several Shadows were scurrying about the room, as well as a few other types of Heartless
Rakel began to count all the Shadows in the room, then she began counting the other Heartless types. As she counted, her level of anxiety began to drop.
"It would appear that Rakel has indeed found the means to her salvation," said Maleficent.
Rakel then walked out of the room, searching for more Heartless to count.
"I wouldn't surprise me if she kept on counting Heartless until she has put a number to all The Heartless in this world," said Maleficent, "but then, more and more Heartless arrive all the time, so Rakel will be counting for quite some time."
Maleficent then looked at Kichot, "you are to continue your duties as a familiar. You will follow Rakel and ensure that she keeps herself healthy, so that she can resume her obligations to the cause, once her heart is in the right place again, for her new compulsion will not end until I say so, and I will say so when she has completely forgotten about love."
Unknown to Rakel as she counted every Heartless that she saw in the corridors, Maleficent had made it so that Reddik Nightshade, still recovering from the backfired curse inflicted on him, was watching her suffer. Maleficent had planned to force Reddik to see Rakel in such a state of obsessive compulsiveness, and that such a sight would destroy all feelings he had for her.
But then, as she usually did, Maleficent underestimated the power of a heart in love. Reddik looked at his beloved Rakel, not in disgust as Maleficent planned, but with sympathy. Reddik would have suffered a thousand backfired curses, if only to alleviate Rakel's own suffering.
But another feeling grew in Reddik's heart; hatred for Maleficent. As Reddik watched Rakel count the countless Heartless, he swore that if he ever got the chance, he would kill Maleficent and ensure that she would never again return to the realm of the living.
Deep within the dungeons of New Hollow Bastion, Erika Bloodstorm suffered in silence. Day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, second after second, she struggled against a magical force that pressed down on her with the same weight as her own. She had full run of the dungeons, being able to move about the lower levels without repercussion, with only the upper levels of the castle denied to her.
Yet even this small freedom was a nearly unbearable agony for Erika. This was her punishment from Maleficent for not being able to carry her weight in service of the darkness. Erika had to carry that force that weighed the same as she did, and nothing she did could alleviate that weight.
Maleficent intended this punishment to break Erika's defiant spirit, make her more of a 'team' player, and especially more obedient. Yet even after several days of literally carrying her own weight, Erika's defiance remained as strong as ever.
She struggled to keep moving, counting each step as one more step with her spirit intact. One more step where Maleficent's punishment failed to meet its goal. One more step where Erika cursed Maleficent with every fiber of her being.
Erika kept swearing to herself that if she ever got the chance, she would kill Maleficent, that she would strangle the mistress of all evil. And maybe she really would get the chance. The curse on Erika had other effects, such as constantly repairing her body so that she didn't completely exhaust herself, that she'd had just enough strength to keep going in body, for Erika's mind and heart were the target.
The curse also made it so that Erika didn't need any sleep and very little food to eat. In a way, the punishment was a reward, for each day that passed, the weight decreased slightly as Erika's body grew that much stronger. She knew that if she would hold out long enough, keep her spirit from breaking, then she would be physically strong enough to break away from the curse. Then Maleficent would taste her revenge.
"And now, my dear friend Pete," said Maleficent, "you shall receive your punishment as well."
"But I didn't do nuthin' wrong!" said a frantic Pete, "I hunted after them Keyblade brats, just like you told me! It's them's fault they keep getting away!"
"Nevertheless," said Maleficent, "you failed to bring them to me. You have failed, Pete, and for that you shall be punished."
"But it's not my fault!" cried Pete as he fell to his knees, "I'll do better next time, I promise! Just don't do nothin' weird to me! Or anythin' that'll really hurt!"
"Your punishment shall not involve physical torture," said Maleficent in a reassuring manner.
"It won't?" Pete asked as he stood up again, daring to hope against hope.
"No," said Maleficent as she smiled wickedly, "I have something else in mind for you. Being as such, your failures have proven that you are unfit for the task I age you. Therefore, you shall no longer be concerned with the apprehension of the Keyblade Wielders."
"Oh," said Pete as he wiped the sweat from his brow, "that's a relief. For a moment I though you was gonna turn me into a poodle and feed me to the goblins, or somethin' like that."
"That would be an interesting scenario," said Maleficent, "but short-lived. Instead, you shall be given a new task. You are to assist one of the Hakonians, one of which, while rather odd in her own way, has nevertheless shown nothing but unparallel success. Katarina!"
From the doorway of the throne room walked, or rather sauntered, a girl in her late teens with long indigo hair down to her waist and burgundy eyes. She wore a blue and yellow dress that accented a very sensual figure, complete with several bracelets on her wrists and orange stiletto heels. Her nails were painted blood red. She had the look of someone blissfully happy with herself and nearly completely oblivious to everything else around her. Yet within this girl, whose actual age was somewhere in her 50's, possessed a vicious streak that could completely destroy those who displeased her.
"You called, oh great, terrible and fashionably fabulous one?" the girl asked as she stood in front of the throne.
"I did indeed, Katarina Heartbreaker," said Maleficent, "how fare your excursions to other worlds."
"Boring but successful," said the girl, Katarina in a tone that wished for more excitement, "three Keyholes unlocked and three worlds flooded with darkness. Wish you sent me someplace better, someplace where the people know what fashion is."
"The next one perhaps," said Maleficent. "Katarina, with your success comes rewards. You wish for a more exciting challenge, you shall have it. The next set of worlds you shall plunge into darkness will have a higher element of danger."
"Sounds like fun," said Katarina, "will there be cute boys? I so enjoy ensnaring the hearts of love-sick boys, only to crush them completely."
"You shall have all that and more," said Maleficent, "but since these worlds will be more dangerous, you shall have assistance to ensure your safety," she indicated Pete, "he will accompany you on your assignments from now on."
Pete cautiously looked at Katarina, who looked back at him. She then had a very excited and sweet look on her face, "Kitty-cat!" she exclaimed as she rushed over and threw her arms around Pete. She showed that she was a lot stronger than she looked by hugging him with enough force to squeeze the breath out of the poor minion.
"You're so big and furry and cute!" said Katarina as she kept hugging him hard. "I wanted to hold you and pet you and squeeze you the second I first saw you! I couldn't then, but I can now!"
"Let go of me you little brat!" gasped Pete. Katarina stopped hugging him, allowing Pete some much needed oxygen, but she latched onto his arm adoringly.
"I'll call you Fluffy," said Katarina, "I'll take you to all the best pet salons and we'll do your fur and claws, and then I'll get you properly accessorized. I think you'd look best in sundresses and big floppy hats."
"You gotta be kidding me!" an appalled Pete said to Maleficent, "I gots to hang around with this airhead!" He then glared at Katarina, "and my name ain't Fluffy! It's Pete, and don't you forget it!"
"You're so silly, Fluffy!" said a smiling Katarina as she hugged Pete again, "you make me want to hug you to death!"
"Enjoy your time together," said Maleficent, "you will have as much as you desire."
"No!" exclaimed Pete as an delighted Katarina dragged him out of the throne room, "Maleficent! Don't do this to me! Don't leave me with this dumbbell dame! Stretch me on the rack! Boil me in oil! Feed me to the goblins! Just don't leave me with her!"
"Come on, Fluffy!" said Katarina in a voice that was sickly sweet, "we don't want to be late for exfoliating! Then we can dye your fur pink!"
"NO!" exclaimed Pete as Katarina dragged him out the doors, which began closing after them, "NOT PINK!"
"That should keep that oaf occupied for the foreseeable future," said Maleficent to her pet raven, "allowing us to move ahead with our plans."
She then called forth an image of the local universe, showing all the worlds near The World that Never Was; Disney Castle, Radiant Garden, The Land of Dragons, Beast's Castle, Agrabah, Atlantica, Halloween Town, and everywhere else.
Maleficent then made the image focus on Twilight Town, "this universe will fall to the darkness, and this world that is closest, it shall fall first. Soon, soon we will be ready."
Just then the image of Twilight Town flickered several times, like a bad television reception.
Maleficent was then shocked and outraged as the image changed to form the words…
The image then returned to that of Twilight Town as if the incident never happened.
"Someone obviously has a desire for my attention," said Maleficent in a quiet but wrathful tone, "someone who has a death wish."
Her raven looked at his mistress in a puzzled manner.
"This must be a practical joke," said Maleficent, "the alternative is impossible! Whoever is responsible for this shall pay dearly for their nerve."
Once again, King Mickey nervously paced back and forth in the library, waiting for the portal to open up and return Sora an his friends.
Also waiting in the library in nervous anticipation was Queen Minnie, Daisy, Yen Sid, and a younger version of Goofy.
This is Goofy's son, Max, whom has been in training to join the Royal guard.
"Gosh, I hope we did it right this time," said King Mickey, "I really do hope so."
"All we can do is wait," said Queen Minnie, "nothing more or less."
Daisy was on the verge of tears, but Max was still hopeful, "Just chill out, guys, my dad and the others will be back soon."
"You haven't been here the past few days," said Daisy as she struggled to hold back her tears, "you've been in training so much. You don't know what it's like to wait for any sign of them coming back, only to be disappointed time and again."
"That's no way to think about it," said Queen Minnie, "we can only hope for the best."
"I know," said Daisy as she wiped her eyes with a lace handkerchief, "but I'm nearly out of hope."
Just then Yen Sid, whom had been sitting in a meditative state for some time now, opened his eyes, "they are coming."
Before anyone could speak, the portal opened up, spilling Donald and Goofy out onto the carpet. It closed up after them.
"Donald!" exclaimed Daisy as she pounced on her wayward boyfriend and began smothering him with kisses.
"Dad!" said Max as he ran and embraced his oddball father.
"Maxie!" exclaimed Goofy, "my son!"
"We're home!" said Donald, "We made it!"
"Shut up and kiss me you fool!" said Daisy. With that she embraced Donald and peppered his face with kisses.
"Welcome back, guys," said King Mickey.
"We're glad to be back, your majesty," said Goofy.
Donald then noticed that someone was missing, "where's Sora?"
"And where's Kairi, Riku and Aiden?" Goofy asked, "weren't they with us?"
"They were," said Donald.
"But we had it right this time," said Queen Minnie, "we should have brought all of you back."
"And now Sora and the others are lost again," said King Mickey in a defeated tone. But then his expression brightened as if he just had a brilliant idea. "We have to find them! Fast! I know what we've been doing wrong all this time!"
…Somewhere in time and space…
Sora, Riku, Kairi and Aiden once again arrived on a world they didn't expect to. The portal opened up and spat them out onto the cold pavement of a back alley.
"Once again we're in a back alley," said Riku as they picked themselves up after the portal closed
"Hopefully they'll be showers on this world," said Aiden, "and proper beds."
Sora then realized that they were missing someone, "Where's Donald and Goofy!"
"Weren't they with you?" Riku asked.
"They went in before we did," said Kairi, "you don't suppose…?"
"That they wound up on a different world than we did," said Riku.
"We can't know that," said Sora defiantly, "maybe they're here on this world, but they're somewhere else. We should look for them."
"If they're here," said Kairi, "we'll find them."
"Wherever here is," said Aiden.
The four of them walked to the end of the alley and saw a large street that was part of a huge, human filled metropolis.
"At least we're back in civilization, of sorts," said Aiden, "have you ever seen such tall buildings?"
"I think I have," said Riku as he, Kairi and Sora looked around with a sensation of odd familiarity, "it's like we've been here before."
"Is it me," said Kairi, "or are there signs in both English and Japanese?"
"You're not hallucinating," said Sora, "I see them too."
"I'm sure we've been here before," said Riku, "but this city looks different somewhat."
Aiden then pointed at something, "What is that thing?"
Sora, Kairi and Riku saw a red and white structure that looked all to familiar to them.
"That's Tokyo Tower!" said Sora, "I'll bet my last munny on it!"
"That is Tokyo Tower!" said Riku, "we're back on Earth!"
"Are we?" Kairi asked, "something doesn't feel right, as if this is Earth, but not our Earth."
"A parallel Earth," said Sora.
"If that's right," said Aiden, "then where are we really?"
The end of volume 5
Alright! This fic is done! Though Sora, Riku, Kairi and Aiden don't know it, they've arrived in the realm of Sailor Moon, one of the best Anime's ever. So stay tuned for Beyond the Door to Light Volume 6: Love & Justice in Tokyo. See you then!