"There is an unwritten rule in the Multiverse, where the greatest changes hinge on the humblest of actions. A trick. An act of friendship. A slice of pepperoni pizza. Suddenly, all is lost. I saw the signs, such as the stars disappearing in the sky, the keyblade's arrival approaching. The end is nigh. I should have known the beginning of our end was an ending on its own. But we learned the truth far too late. Not before the Reds and Blues had vanquished their foes. Not before their foe had activated the temporal vortex. Most critically, not before the device fulfilled its true purpose. Master Yen Sid, all of that happened at the same time as the problems we face came to be. I refuse to believe it's a coincidence. I'm leaving my castle to investigate, but I advise you to keep an eye on these Red and Blue soldiers and figure out what our enemies plan for them."
"I could eat a horse." Grif stated.
"With you, I'm worried that's not a figure of speech." Carolina said.
"That's a figure of speech?" Grif asked.
"For goodness sake, what's wrong with you?" Simmons asked in disgust.
"Whatever." Grif said. "Are we done here? 'Cause I got some volleyballs to spike in this flipping volcano."
"Was that an attempt at a metaphor?" Simmons asked confusingly.
It was a good way to end the day for the Reds and Blues of Project Freelancer. After defeating an identical group and stopping them from foolishly destroying the Earth, they were ready to get back to their laid-back, simple lifestyle. It would have been a good way to end their story, but as it will soon turn out, these lovable idiots wouldn't be so lucky.
"Yo, are we serious about grub?" Tucker asked. "My stomach is rumbling. With all the fighting and shooting, I think we skipped a meal or three."
"There ain't no good reason to go out for chow," Sarge pointed out, "And we still got MRI's to spare. I've got an emergency supply stuffed in Lopez for this very situation."
"You seriously keep food in Lopez?" Carolina asked.
"Yes, ma'am." Sarge said. "Right up his keister. Way deep in there next to his radioactive isotope nuclear generator, where they always stay nice and toasty."
"Kinky." Kakaina Grif (also known as Sister) commented.
"Gross." Bitters commented.
"You think that's gross?" Simmons asked. "Just wait until you see where the condiments come out."
"Look guys," Grif said, "We can have snacks from Lopez' butt literally any time, but right now, we're on Earth, the culinary capital of the civilized galaxy. Let's go out."
"Shouldn't we stick around?" Tucker asked. "Wait for the cops?"
"Maybe it's best to let us handle that." Dylan Andrews said. "The UNSC still think you're all terrorists. Best to lay low until the heat dies down."
It was a good idea on Dylan's part. For a long while, the evil counterparts of the Reds and Blues have been attacking UNSC bases and killing Freelancer agents. Because of their uncanny appearances, the authorizes have mistaken them for the original Reds and Blues, the same people who not only helped expose and bring down Project: Freelancer, but also liberated the planet Chorus from Charon Industries.
"So food." Grif said. "Maybe Italian."
"How about a blood sausage, or blood pudding, or the blood of my fallen enemies!" Sarge suggested. "You know, just to spice things up."
"Chili's is always good." Tucker said.
"There's a Chili's on Chorus now." Grif said. "We can eat that anywhere."
"Oh, how about Home Depot?" Caboose asked. "They have the best cotton candy."
"And now, we know where all the wall insulation went." Carolina said.
"Maybe something with a vegetarian option?" Doc said.
"You don't get a vote." Grif said. "You lost that right when you betrayed us, you purple Judas."
It was understandable for the Reds and Blues to be mad at Doc, the purple armored pacifist. For a while, he sided with their evil counterparts against them for his years of neglect and abuse. The only reason they're keeping him around is because he switched sides at the last minute in order to help restore Carolina from exhaustion.
"Hooters?" Sister asked.
"Lifetime ban." Tucker pointed out.
"Donut!" Simmons gasped.
"Simmons, I like the way you think," Grif said, "But let's save that for dessert."
"No, I mean, where's Donut?" Simmons said. "Shouldn't he be here yelling about fondue?"
Grif gave an exasperated sigh. "Caboose, we know you'll eat anything. Why don't you go off and search for him?"
"Okay. I'll be right back." Caboose turned around looking for the pink, cheery member of Red team.
"Maybe we could go for some strudel." Tucker said.
"No way." Sarge protested. "Red Team only eats winner food. This mouth should never eat food that ever lost a World War. No German, no Japanese, and no French-Canadian."
"How about hoke?" Sister asked.
"No fish." Grif said. "I want something that's gonna give me a heart attack. How do you all feel about turducken?"
Inside the base they just exited, Caboose walked in on the same room the Blues and Reds had activated their Doomsday machine before they shut it down. He walked in and found Donut.
"Hey, Donut." Caboose greeted. "We're about to go and get food. Do you, um, eat food?"
What Caboose failed to notice was the state Donut was in. There wasn't just one Donut. All over the room, there were over a dozen pink soldiers with the same voice scampering, vanishing, and reappearing all over the room while speaking gibberish. Some of them were floating in the air, some were disappearing, some were in a straight line repeating the same movements. But despite all these anomalies that would stun anyone, Caboose was just too dumb to notice anything suspicious.
"Yeah, me too." Caboose said. "Tell me, how do you feel about take-out?"
In a flash of pink lightning, all the Donut's were one again, but he was floating in the air. And as fast as an eye-blink, his body was contorted in many ways. And like before, Caboose was oblivious.
"Okay. How about fish and chips?"
Donut's rolled up, contorted body rotated while growing pink spikes out of his armor.
"Yeah, me too. Why say chips when you mean freedom fries?"
With one final scream, Donut gave one last spin before disappearing into nothingness.
"Okay. Bye." Caboose left the room without even being stunned by what happened. Yep, he's that stupid.
"That's it." Grif said. "I'm putting my foot down. Trust me. Sammy Raffiello's is the best pizza on Earth. It's worth the trip."
"Sarge?" Simmons asked.
"I can live with pizza." Sarge said. "Like Doc, the Italians switched sides at the last minute in all three World Wars. But no calzones. I like to keep my calzones in my friend-zone."
"Great." Grif said. "So that's…" He counted everyone there. "Twelve of us?"
"No, we're good." Palomo said speaking for his team that just came from Chorus. "We all ate on the way here."
"And we really need to head back." Jensen said. "There are some pretty interesting things happening on Chorus these days."
"Can't wait to change the subject!" Grif interrupted quickly. "I mean, can't wait to hear all about it. But later, not now."
"If you guys are heading to Chorus, I'd like to hitch a ride to see if Wash is on the mend." Carolina said. Before the battle against the rogue soldiers, her partner, Agent Washington, was so delirious, he accidently got his neck shot in the crossfire. He was sent to the emergency room on Chorus and is awaiting recovery. "Not that you need my permission, but you all earned some R&R. And grab a to-go slice for Washington."
"A slice?" Tucker asked. "I'm bringing that dude back some deep dish and some garlic knots."
"Great." Sister said. "And maybe we can get into some crazy stuff along the way…"
"No!" Grif shouted. "No more adventure. I created a new science to make sure of it."
"A new science?" Simmons asked.
"You can't tell, but I'm winking pretty hard under this helmet." Grif said.
That's when Caboose returned to the group. They all saw he didn't have Donut with him.
"Caboose," Tucker said, "You were supposed to bring back Donut."
"Ah, yeah." Caboose said. "He's gone. He left."
"He left the island?" Tucker asked.
"Uh, yes." Caboose said. "Also, no."
"I'm confused." Carolina said. "Where is Donut?"
"You know, he didn't say." Caboose said. "He was a little rude."
"Good enough for me." Grif said. "Let's boogie."
"And leave Donut behind?" Sarge asked.
"Maybe we should look around for a bit." Tucker said. "See where he went."
"All right!" Sarge cheered. "Ain't no party like a search party!"
"NO!" Grif yelled. "NO! No search party! No call for adventure! We need a meal!"
"Someone's hangry." Sister said.
"That's Grif's secret." Simmons said. "He's always hangry."
"YOU'RE RIGHT, I'M HANGRY!" Grif yelled. "DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY EVERYTHING HAS TO BE A BIG PRODUCTION WITH YOU PEOPLE! WE'RE GOING OUT FOR PIZZA, NOT AN EPIC QUEST!"
"We're going on a pizza quest." Caboose said.
Grif sighed. "Do not call it that. It is not a pizza quest. We are going to Sammy's for a large pepperoni. End of story."
Everyone got in their ships and left for their respective directions.
"Are you sure about this, sir?" one hooded man asked. "These must be the dumbest people in all the worlds."
"They may be stupid, but they managed to make it so far." The other hooded man said. "They may prove more useful than we ever imagined. All we need now is for their paths to cross."
"Guys, I get it." Grif said standing in front of the pelican aircraft he crashed into the middle of the forest. "I messed up. I shouldn't have nosedived. Let's just say we're done with the criticism."
"Grif!" Sarge shouted. "Protocol clearly states that the soldier who crashed the plane simply because he was too excited about stuffed crust is subject to at least an hour's worth of criticism from each person!"
"That's take forever." Tucker said. "Can't we all just say one thing? Go around the horn?"
"But how am I going to pound three million pounds of failure into a single insult?" Sarge asked.
"Totally counts!" Grif insisted. "Sis?"
"You should really stick with what you're good at, big bro: not calling Mom and sucking the cheese out of breadsticks."
"Maybe next time, you should…"
"Primary cast only, Doc!" Grif interrupted.
"Next time, I'm putting someone smarter on the wheel," Tucker said, "Like Caboose… or a bobblehead!"
"OH!" Caboose shouted. "Yo mama's so fat…" He didn't follow it up leaving everyone in silence.
"You got a punch-line for that joke, Caboose?" Simmons asked.
"Uh, joke?" Caboose asked.
"Nice flying, idiot." Simmons said sarcastically."
"Thanks for keeping it brief." Grif said. "So where to now?"
"According to my navigator Sammy's should be ten minutes ahead." Simmons said. "It's just through these slightly ominous woods."
"About these less ominous woods over there?" Grif said.
"A little longer, but yeah." Simmons said.
"Better safe then sorry." Grif said before going through the more peaceful path leaving Simmons suspicious.
As soon as the Reds and Blues entered a clearing, Caboose approached Tucker.
"I need to go to the bathroom." Caboose said.
"Just go in your suit, Caboose." Tucker said. "We have waste disposal systems for a reason."
"I can't go with other people watching, sorry." Caboose said before leaving the clearing.
"So," Simmons said approaching Grif, "This detour wouldn't have anything to do with your new 'science', would it?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Grif said smugly.
"Are you winking right now?" Simmons asked.
"If I tell you, you gotta keep it to yourself. Got it?"
"Okay. I created a new system, and now that it's in effect, we're never going on another adventure ever again!"
"A new system?"
"Yeah. See, when I was alone on Iris, and definitely not losing my mind with volleyballs, I've been reading up on this book Jax left behind. It's all about story structure."
"Like in movies?"
"And TV shows and comic books. And it talks about these things called incendiary incidents. They're the things that make stories happen. I figured, 'Shoot! If we could avoid incendiary incidents in real life, we'd do nothing forever'."
"How does that apply in the real world?" Simmons asked.
"So earlier, when Jensen was talking about interesting things happening on Chorus, that could mean some stuff with temples or struggles with the UNSC, but it was definitely incendiary. So I quickly changed the subject. And when Locus sent a message to our ship's computers, I crashed the Pelican before it can be discovered. Sure, it means we'll have to walk the rest of the way, but a little work now saves a ton of work later."
"Wait, what was Locus' message?" Simmons asked.
"I don't know." Grif answered. "Something about stars vanishing or something like that. I crashed before I could learn anymore."
"So your new science is preemptive laziness." Simmons inferred. "That's stupid." He began to choke up. "I'm so proud of you."
At that moment, Caboose ran back to the group in excitement. "I FOUND A LAKE!"
"That's great, Caboose." Tucker said.
"The lake is glowing!" Caboose added.
"Guys, no detours!" Grif said trying to steer everyone away.
"Glowing lake?" Sarge asked walking to where Caboose came from. "I gotta see this."
"Oh, shoot." Grif said.
The Reds and Blues followed Caboose to where he was at. When they stopped, they gazed at a lake unlike any they have seen before. There was a very bright light emitting a yellow glow from the bottom of the water.
"What's down there, a car?" Tucker asked.
"It's just… swamp gas." Grif said nervously. "Let's go!"
"Wait, something's coming out." Simmons said.
The first thing that emerged from the water was a gun with a very unique design. Once it completely emerged, then came a man who was holding it; a man in pink armor.
"Donut?" everyone gasped.
"Ah, friends." Donut said with happiness in his voice. The glow died down and the lake looked normal, but Donut was walking on the top of the water like it was solid ground toward them. "Let me bask in your presence once more. It's great to see you again."
"Donut!" Sarge shouted. "What did we tell you about disappearing suddenly and then mysteriously showing up in strange lakes?"
"And what's that about seeing us again?" Tucker asked. "You were gone for only two hours."
"Ah, yes." Donut said. "He said it'd be like that. For you, barely any time has passed. But for me, infinity, eternity, like way longer."
"How did you find us?" Sister asked.
"Ah, 'tis a story longer than time." Donut said.
"Forget that!" Grif shouted. "Story time can wait. Pizza now."
"No!" Donut shouted. "If we hesitate, we'll be drowned in darkness. It's too late for this world, but not to escape to another!"
"You… want to leave Earth now?" Doc asked.
"That's not what I mean." Donut said. "The most appropriate term in this case would have to be… another dimension!"
"…What?" Tucker asked.
"You heard me." Donut said. "We were all chosen to fight the forces of darkness… as reality-warping warriors!"
"AHA!" Grif shouted. "I know what this is! He's just pranking us!"
"Am not!" Donut defended himself.
"Come on, guys. He's obviously messing with us." Grif said. "This is payback for when we told him decorative curtains would help improve Red base."
"This has nothing to do with that betrayal of trust!" Donut said.
"Oh, man, Donut!" Sarge said in a disappointed tone. "You got my hopes up for a minute!"
"Thanks a lot, Red team." Tucker said.
"Guys, please!" Donut pleaded. "You gotta listen to me!"
"See that, Simmons?" Grif asked. "Totally dodged the bullet on that one."
"So Grif," Simmons said, "In Jax's book, what happens after the call to adventure?"
"I don't know." Grif said. "I stopped reading after the important bits."
"What if refusing the call to adventure is the adventure?"
"Don't be dumb, Simmons. We're finished. Roll credits."
A boy looked out to the horizon from his island beach. Little Sora had just spent his day building his boat and dreaming of venturing to other worlds with his friends, Riku and Kairi.
"Hey, Sora!" Kairi called from afar. "Come on over!"
"Be right there!" Sora called out. He looked out on the horizon once more. "Yeah, be there soon."
Despite Donut's protests, the Reds and Blues continued on their journey. Eventually, they made it to Sammy Raffiello's pizza restaurant… or what's left of it. The building had a huge chunk taken out of it. And the billboard was left dangling. The entire area was in a destroyed state. The local police said that the whole place was torn apart by a group of mysterious, black phantasms. But Grif was too broken up about his favorite pizza destroyed to even care.
"So, Chinese?" Tucker asked.
"Guys, I'm telling you the truth!" Donut insisted. "When are you going to listen to me? I traveled through many realities to be here with you!"
"Donut, you're obviously confused." Simmons said. "Even if this Multiverse even existed, there's no way any human has the technologies to even…"
Suddenly, Donut fired his strangely-designed rifle into the air. But what came out wasn't a bullet. It was a pink beam of light that circled into the air until the inside of the circle revealed a new setting. It was an Arabian city in the middle of the desert with a giant palace at the center.
"What the heck?" Simmons asked in shock.
"How did you do that?" Sister asked.
"Caboose never told you the full story of what happened on that island." Donut said.
"He just said you were gone." Tucker said.
"Gone indeed. When Loco's time machine zapped me, I became untangled from the very fabric of reality. I was scattered to worlds beyond our very imagination. Until, I was rescued by the Benefactor."
"The Benefactor?" Sarge asked. "Who's that?"
"Only the smartest man in the entire Multiverse." Donut replied. "He found me, reassembled me, and gave me the holy duty that I also pass onto you, my friends."
"And that duty is…" Simmons said.
"To slay the Heartless!" Donut said. "Normal weapons will do nothing against them, so the Benefactor crafted these guns just for us." Suddenly, four other guns similar to Donut's appeared before the Reds and Blues. "They have a powerful energy that can kill a normal Heartless with a single blast."
"And a Heartless is…" Simmons asked.
"A parasite made of darkness." Donut explained. "Think of them like zombies. They travel from world to world consuming the heart of any living being they come across. Once they take it, you change into one of them. A fate worse than death indeed. And right now, their activity has gotten worse. They now have a commanding force controlling them all making them send their entire worlds into total darkness."
"How is it scientifically possible for a bunch of little black critters to blacken an entire universe?" Simmons asked.
"Not science, Simmons." Donut said. "The hearts, the Heartless, the energy from these guns, they are all made of a magic force. I know it's hard to believe, but if you don't take my word for it, you'll never survive this war between light and darkness. Here's what I do know. Every world has a magical keyhole to their hearts."
"Sidebar," Simmons whispered to the others, "How do we know this is really Donut? He doesn't sound like him."
"These holes are tight by the way." Donut said. "When it comes to the Heartless, it's gonna take quite a number of men to get into them."
"Withdrawn." Simmons said.
"Once the keyholes are completely unlocked, the Heartless will get into the heart of the world and corrupt it with darkness." Donut continued. "If we don't find the keyblade and use it to seal the keyholes, then we won't be basking in the light anywhere ever again."
"And… what can we do?" Tucker asked.
"The Benefactor gave us two objectives." Donut answered. "First, we need to use these guns to kill every Heartless we see. And second…"
Donut was interrupted by the sudden explosion sound in the distance. Everyone turned and saw a black cloud growing across the forest about to reach them.
"What's happening?" Sister asked.
"It's like I said!" Donut said. "They already found this world's keyhole! Everything's being consumed by darkness!"
"Men, be prepared to shoot it down!" Sarge shouted.
"What are you going to do, shoot the weather with bullets?" Tucker asked.
"Everyone, get behind me!" Donut shouted punching the ground. As soon as he did, a pink bubble dome surrounded the group as the dark cloud hit.
"HURRY, GUYS!" Donut strained. "I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER THIS SHIELD CAN HOLD! OPEN A PORTAL AND GET OUT OF HERE! REMEMBER, THE SECOND OBJECTIVE IS TO FIND THE KEYBLADE AND SEAL THE KEYHOLES!"
The guns were separated into four pairs and opened different portals at random. Tucker jumped into one with Sister, Caboose jumped with Lopez, Grif with Doc, and Sarge with Simmons. They fell into bright void until they each ended up in different worlds. Caboose and Lopez ended up in a world with giant mushrooms and a smiling cat. Grif and Doc entered a very thick jungle, Sarge and Simmons were in the middle of an Olympic Colosseum, and Tucker and Sister were in a place the locals called Traverse Town. And that is how it all began.
Author's Note: In honor of the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3 game, I am making a crossover story. The Reds and Blues are now spending Season 16 traveling the worlds and battling Heartless. Give me your comments.