Retrieving the Lost

In the world of Radiant Garden, the self-titled "Great Ninja" Yuffie glowered at the lab before her. After the debacle with Tron's world inside the computer, and the program's ascension to what amounted to the new MCP, Leon had ordered a round-the-clock guard detail on the room. It hadn't sit well with the swordsman that so much data in the terminal had been corrupt; he suspected sabotage.

That didn't make Yuffie's day any better. She was bored out of her mind! She'd done all she could to avoid guard duty, trading town-patrol shifts with Aerith as many times as she could to keep from this boring sedentary job. But, seems she couldn't avoid them all.

Yuffie huffed in irritation and resumed her pacing. Walk up the balcony from the office to the computer lab, stop, turn, walk back, repeat. It kept her moving, sure, but there was no change! It was almost as boring as just standing there! Yuffie groaned and turned to make her way back to the study-

"Ack!" Yuffie gagged as her airway was constricted. She reached up and clawed at whoever was doing it, her nails only touching cool cloth. She tried to knock him out with a headbutt, but met only a muscled chest. She elbowed him in the side, no result. And through all of this, she failed to take into account her dwindling supply of oxygen.

After a few moments, Yuffie's struggles eased before fading altogether as she slipped into unconsciousness. The strong arms that held her gently lowered her to the ground. The figure, dressed in a Black Coat associated with Organization XIII, placed two fingers at her neck to check her pulse. The figure nodded, silently glad she was alright.

It wouldn't be a good thing to hurt one of Sora's friends.

The figure, Riku was his name, reaffirmed his cloak of Darkness, keeping himself faded from view - of either the naked eye or security cameras. He glanced around the lab and lifted a hand to point out the lab's security camera. He had no real reason, he just thought it was fun. And given how dark his life had become, he needed that.

Riku crossed the lab's floor and approached the computer terminal, cocking his head in concentration. They didn't have stuff like this back home, where everything was much lower-tech. But DiZ had taught him a few things about computers so that he could help with the technical aspect of helping Sora during his sleep. And Riku, being the genius that he was, had taken to it like a fish to water.

Riku removed a disc from his coat pocket. DiZ had given it to him some time ago to break back into his computer, but Riku had refused at the time. Even now he was something of a novice with computers, and then the Restoration Committee had found it, making the effort too dangerous.

But if what DiZ had said was true, then he needed what was hidden away.

Riku slipped the disc into the drive and entered the password he had been told by DiZ. According to him, Xehanort had been a brilliant man perfectly suited to scientific research. But, as luck would have it, he was surprisingly uncreative in regards to passwords. A-N-O-T-H-E-R. The word "Xehanort", rearranged and omitting the "X". Without the slightest hesitation, the computer allowed him access.

Wow, Xehanort really was bad at passwords.

The program from the disc began running, snaking through the defensive software of the computer and bringing forth the secondary security for what Riku needed. In the six password slots, he acted on a hunch and typed the names of Ansem's six apprentices. Xehanort - Even - Dilan - Ienzo - Braig - Aeleus. The screen displayed the message "System Start".

Thank the stars for Xehanort's lack of common sense.

Riku looked up as the drive ejected his disc and took it back before tuning to walk further into the laboratory. He would rather have leapt off the handrail and simply fallen to the lower level, but the protocol for where he needed to go was based on a timer. Riku guessed that Xehanort, when he built that place, didn't want to take the fast way. So he was forced to walk.

Riku eventually made it to the lower level of the laboratory, taking a moment to glare at the massive machine towering above him. The machine to manufacture Heartless. The vile device that had led to so much suffering in the worlds.

Riku looked down at the sound of a metallic whirring, a door set into the ground slowly opening. A glowing plane before the glorified trapdoor, probably some kind of security setup, flared and disappeared, allowing Riku to enter. As he moved past the halfway marker on the ramp, he glanced back at the sounds of the doors closing and sealing themselves. He shrugged it off and kept going, the ramp disappearing as he stepped off.

Riku turned right and moved through an archway, taking a moment to look over the facing handrail at the winding ramp that led to the bottom of the chamber. With a scoff, he backed up a few steps and leapt, kicking off the handrail to plummet into the darkness. With a shift of his weight and the barest thread of gravity magic, Riku landed without a hitch at the base of the winding ramp.

"Damn, I'm good," he said to himself, using his "Ansem voice" out of habit. Good thing he did, too - for all he knew, there may be voice-triggered security down here.

Riku turned to the only door and approached, the doors sliding open when he drew near to reveal a hallway fitted with doors. As he walked down the hallway, he couldn't help noticing the bars on the doors. With a sudden icy feeling in his gut, he realized that these were. These were the prison cells where Xehanort had kept the people he kidnapped, before experimenting on them.

He shuddered at the thought, anger rising in his chest, before he pushed it down and kept going. Xehanort, or whatever was left of him in Xemnas, would pay for his crimes. Riku was confident of that, confident that Sora would do as he had before and save the worlds.

At the end of the hallway, Riku came to a final set of doors, these decorated with black chains. Maybe a kind of decorative circuitry? It wouldn't be a stretch to think that Xehanort would decorate his prison cells - he was definitely sick enough to do it. The doors quickly slid open and Riku stepped through to enter a circular chamber, steel-grey like everything before, and decorated with the same black chain motif, these chains ending in the symbol for Nobodies.

Riku moved toward the throne-like chair in the center of the room and placed his foot in it, leaning on it to apply pressure. He wouldn't sully himself by sitting in such a self-aggrandizing throne. With the pressure of his body weight, the security of the room kicked in, the circular core of the room shining white and the glow spreading to the chains adorning the ground and walls.

Yep, definitely decorative circuitry.

As the glow moved the the far end of the circular chamber, the Chamber of Repose, Riku looked down to see a collection of blue-tinted armor. A quick Dark spell to simulate gravity kept the security active as he approached, kneeling down to pick up the armor's helmet.

It was definitely a unique piece. Riku had enjoyed reading as a child, and had shared Sora's, and later Kairi's, interest in knights. The metal was something he couldn't identify, as was the glass-like substance that made up the visor. And strange wing-like protrusions pointed down from the back of the head.

Gently, almost reverently, replacing the helmet to the ground, and with a cursory glance over the rest of the armor, Riku settled his gaze on the very reason he had descended to this chamber. Standing against the wall, innocuous to any who knew not what it was rested a Keyblade.

The Keyblade began with a circular, somewhat jagged guard, black at the top and fading to grey toward the middle and finally to white, with the handle a featureless grey rod. The blade, if one preferred to call it that, began with two diamond-shaped bumps before extending into a thin, navy-blue shaft that ended in silver at the teeth. The teeth were comprised of a rectangular frame lined with four short, blunt spikes, all navy blue. The inside of the teeth sported three silver pieces at right angles, two at the corners and one sideways in between them. Finally, from the pommel of the weapon hung a keychain resembling waterdrops.

Another Keyblade. Without thinking, Riku summoned Way to the Dawn, the Keyblade that he had been able to create using the dark blade Soul Eater as an intermediary. While his own weapon gave the impression of a fall from grace and redemption, the one before him somehow suggested … water. The power of rain, storms, and the sea.

Riku banished Way to the Dawn and stooped to pick up the Keyblade, testing its balance. Stormfall … Stormfall … Stormfall? Must be the weapon's name.

Riku tossed back his hood, revealing a face that was not his own but that of Xehanort's Heartless. He leaned in close to better examine the luster of the Keyblade … and cried out as a migraine pierced through his head. His right hand was locked around the handle of Stormfall, his left clutching his head against the pain.

And as suddenly as the headache came, so too followed visions.


A beautiful young woman with short blue hair and matching eyes filled with determination cried out as she crossed Keyblades with a muscular man, his face almost a match for the one Riku now wore.

(***)

The same young woman, clad in the armor that lay on the ground of the Chamber, pulled off her helmet and lifted her Keyblade. A shimmer of magic flowed down the blade, and a sphere of energy soared from its tip. The energy flew to another figure in armor, this one clearly a male, and expanded into a spherical barrier of crystalline hexagons.

(***)

The same young woman walked up a flight of stone steps, the very same Riku had used to get to this castle, and paused at the sound of a little girl's shrill scream of fright, fleeing from the dark creatures at her tail. The woman called to her, beckoning her to come to her. The little girl dodged through the swarm of monsters and came to stand beside the woman, resting her little hand on the Keyblade, just a bit different from what it looked like now.


Riku grunted and stepped back as the visions ceased, his sudden headache gone as if it had never been. That woman … Why had she seemed so familiar? Like he'd met her before? He quickly caught his breath and looked at the Keyblade in his hands with new sight.

This wasn't his to take. He may be Chosen, but he had his Keyblade. This one … this belonged to someone else. Someone he knew all too well. With the barest hint of a smile, Riku tucked Stormfall into his coat and snapped his fingers to dissipate the spell on the Chamber's throne, disabling the security of the room. On impulse, he grabbed a piece of the armor that littered the floor, eyes widening in surprise as the rest of it faded into motes of light to leave only the piece in his hand, what appeared to be a shoulder guard. He shrugged and tucked it into his coat, as well.

He held out his hand, focusing on the power of darkness, and conjured a hole in reality that could take him where he needed to go. A Corridor of Darkness. Without looking back, Riku stepped into the Corridor.

He had a delivery to make.


"If I had a heart, this would be where I die of laughter," Saix said, his tone as dead as always. He took a step toward the young women before him, Kairi and her Nobody, Namine, but paused at a faint sound of a blade slicing through the air.

Saix turned to find his berserkers fading to nothingness, a figure in the attire of the Organization kneeling from his killing stroke, a gothic Keyblade clutched in his hand. "You," Saix whispered, recognising the imposter. "Didn't Roxas take care of you?"

"You can take it from here, Riku," Namine said.

"Riku?" Kairi said, stunned at the shrouded sight of her old friend.

Riku banished his Keyblade and cocked back his hand as it filled with bluish flames. He pushed his hand forward, blasting the flames, Dark Aura, toward Saix. Saix crossed his arms to block the dark attack. It still knocked him airborne, and he flipped to land on his feet. He had no time to recover as Riku charged him, smashing his back against the castle wall.

Thinking quickly, Saix placed his hand against the wall and summoned a Dark Corridor, smiling malevolently as he stepped back into its depths. Riku growled and prepared to pursue him, but was stopped by the sound of Kairi's voice. "Wait!" Riku hesitated, memories of his childhood with Sora and Kair rooting him to the spot. Pluto, Minckey's dog, approached and barked happily, tail wagging, before the dog gently herded him away from the Corridor.

Kairi took her chance and approached her friend. "Riku, you're really here?" Kairi asked, pushing back his hood. Riku looked away in shame, his face still that of Xehanort. And even in his shame, he felt the warmth of the Keyblade in his coat.

What form had it taken now?


Riku silently destroyed the shadows that had pinned Kairi down. He had to admit he was impressed - though not entirely surprised - with Kairi's tenacity to jump from a story-high balcony to see Sora. They really were perfect for each other; it was a shame hadn't seen it sooner.

With solemn respect, he drew Stormfall from his coat, only to find that it had changed its form. Destiny's Embrace … A unique shape for its Chosen bearer. And it even looked like their home, though the bouquet of flowers that comprised the teeth suggested Radiant Garden, her first home. That was a nice touch.

"Take it," Riku said simply. Kairi did, eyes wide with awe, before they narrowed in determination and she nodded.

"This time ... I'll fight!" she declared. "You know Sora's completely hopeless without us." Okay, that was laying it on a little thick, in his opinion. "Come on, Riku!" With those words, Kairi rushed into the tide of Heartless, Keyblade swinging.

Without a word, Riku summoned Way to the Dawn and followed suit.


In the Realm of Darkness, Master Aqua finished of the last of a wave of Heartless with a barrage of Fire spells. Breathing deeply to catch her breath, she stood up straight at a sudden warmth in her heart. Brushing her fingers across her cheek, they came back fainty damp.

Aqua looked up into the endless abyss of the Dark Realm, some sixth sense telling her that something momentous had happened in the Realm of Light. Something connected to her, personally … Something wonderful. She didn't know what, but she took it as a good sign. Maybe soon she'd finally be free of this place.

Banishing Master's Defender, she resumed her trek through the broken black crags of the Dark Realm. She would find a way home. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but she swore that she would return home.

And as she walked, she had a sudden flashback to the children she had met all those years ago. Sora, Riku … Kairi. She smiled as she hoped that they had grown up well.

FIN

Hope you guys like this one-shot!

This theory jumped into my head a few days ago, and I just couldn't stop thinking about it until I wrote it down. It took me two hours, but it was well worth it! I'm really happy with how this turned out!

What do y'all think? Is this plausible, even probable? Aqua took up Eraqus's Keyblade, so it would only make sense that Kairi would take up hers. [After all, Tetsuya Nomura has confirmed that Aqua performed an unintentional Inheritance Ceremony on Kairi. Or, in my mind, a Fateful one.]

*One head-canon to explain the "Riku is a genius" line, I personally think Riku is a child prodigy. I mean, how many five-year-olds do you know who can wax poetic about the heart/soul and other worlds like he did in "Birth By Sleep"?

*For the record, if you look closely at the terminal when Xemnas is logging in in the KH2 Final Mix scene "Hidden Room/Chamber of Repose", you can see his password really is "ANOTHER" in a jagged font. Also the six passwords that follow really do have the prefect number of characters for the names of Ansem's apprentices. I woukd know; I counted five seperate times to make sure.

If you like it, leave a review! Those things are like candy to me! Carry on, and may your Muse never waver!