Chapter 6: Positive Charges
"My name...is Vanitas..."
The two keyblade wielders stood frozen for just a moment as the name hung in the cold night air, their gaze fixed upon the visage of their new foe, while Kinro and Ginro still gave everything they had to push back against the onslaught of Unversed.
The heroes were silent...for a moment...
Until Kishi couldn't contain himself and started snickering. Kohaku, Senku, and Suika were confused at the display of humor. Tsuki had her hand over her mouth trying to show more discipline.
"What would happen to be so funny?" Vanitas asked.
"You...you wear a hood to cover your face. But you already wear a mask? A little redundant there, edgelord. Pffft HAHAHAHA!" At this point, Tsuki couldn't contain herself and started laughing out loud along with him.
"What's with the voice too? Did you gargle with rocks to make yourself sound tougher?" She asked sarcastically in between outbursts.
Vanitas was a bit taken aback by the display. He clearly imagined this first contact going a little differently.
"Look I didn't wanna wear the damn coat! The boss made us!" Vanitas rebutted in anger.
"Uhh...guys? I think we should focus on these Unversed things!" Kohaku called out. She decided not to wait for the two keyblade users and charged at the mob of creatures still assaulting the two brothers.
Kishi whiped a tear from his eye, "Okay...okay... so what's up? You gonna fight us or have some henchmen do it?"
Vanitas didn't respond, at least not verbally. He let out a low growl and brought his hand up. Suddenly, an enormous volley of dark energy bolts shot from his hand directed at Kishi. He snapped out of it quickly and brought out Starlight to deflect the projectiles. He just barely managed to block the attacks with his blade, which distracted him long enough to realize Vanitas wasn't standing in front of him anymore. Moving almost in the blink of an eye, the dark warrior was suddenly behind him, with no time to react. Vanitas delivered an open palm strike to Kishi's side, a ball of dark lightning in his hand to add to the damage. The young man screamed in pain as the force of the attack sent him flying into the river. Kuro, seeing his master in trouble, charged into the water to help him. Tsuki brought her keyblade down to try and strike at Vanitas, but the mysterious villain disappeared in a whoosh of dark mist. He reappeared a few feet away.
"Ugh, I'm okay buddy." Kishi told Kuro in the shallow water. The dog licked his owner happily in the face.
"Hey, that bastard's pretty fast. Let's show him how fast we can be with our new trick." he said, petting Kuro's head. The black dog barked in agreement, and both of their chests started to glow again.
Tsuki fired ice shards at Vanitas, but he was able to easily dodge them without even having to do his teleporting trick. He retaliated with another bolt of dark energy, but Tsuki was able to cast Reflect just in time, a crystal barrier appearing before her that made the attack ricochet off and hit the ground. Just as he was ready to attack again, he grunted in pain as a black claw swiped at him from out of nowhere. Kishi in his 'fused with Kuro' form jumped into the fray, his legs and one hand on the ground, with another in the air ready to strike again.
"He's too fast for you, go help the others! We'll take it from here!" he growled to Tsuki. The mage nodded and ran to join the group fighting the Unversed.
"What's that supposed to be? You some kinda furry now?" Vanitas asked.
"Little gift from my master. I call it... Wildheart Form!"
Kishi pounced and slashed at Vanitas with his claws. The enemy ducked and quickly jumped back to evade the beast man's strikes.
Ginro wasn't looking good. He was terrified of the Unversed closing in from every side, to the point that he couldn't hold up his katana. Kinro took the opportunity to grab his brother's sword and dual wield. Kohaku and Tsuki stood back to back striking out and any of the creatures that got close to them. Senku and Suika continued to watch the whole fight unfold from a distance. The scientist bit his thumb in frustration until it bled. There had to be a way to nullify one of the two big threats so they could regroup on the other one. He thought back to the fight this morning, how Tsuki was able to build up her magic and release it in a huge attack. Almost like her magic reserves were a battery that could be supercharged. That was when a metaphorical lightbulb went off in his head.
"Tsuki! What kinda magic can you do?" Senku called out to her.
"What?" she called back, not understanding what he was asking.
"You can shoot ice! What else can you do?!"
"Lotsa stuff!" she yelled as she struck down another Unversed, "Fire, wind, water, lightning-"
"Perfect! Get over here! I have an idea!" Senku ordered, running towards the giant water wheel.
Kishi pounced at Vanitas again, but the mysterious villain sidestepped the attack, leaving Kishi to plummet into the icy cold river again. The young man growled in anger and jumped back into the fray. Vanitas still showed no signs of struggle against the claw attacks. With his improved hearing, Kishi could actually hear the dark creature snickering softly with each attack he missed, which just proved to make him even angrier.
"If this is Oswald's best, it's no wonder he went into exile all those years ago." Vanitas mocked.
"What do you know about my master?" Kishi growled out in protest.
"Way more than you know, mutt. My superiors have kept an eye on him, and we know where he's going."
Kishi's eyes widened in shock at this statement. "Where? Where did my master go!?"
Vanitas just laughed to himself again in defiance. "It doesn't matter where he is. Where he's going is to his own demise. He's on a crash course right into our good graces, and pretty soon he'll be as good as dead."
Kishi heard enough and tried to dive at the dark being yet again. Vanitas was waiting for this chance and immediately dived into the ground in a dark puddle of shadows. He then reappeared a few feet back right underneath where Kishi was landing. He delivered a swift elbow strike to the young man's ribs, knocking the wind out of him and sending him straight down to the dirt. He grabbed the boy's collar with one hand and held up a dark ball of energy charging up with his other.
"You've been a fun bit of exercise, but it's time you get that light snuffed out."
A crackle and boom ruptured through the air, deafening everyone in the area. Kishi grabbed his ears in pain as it happened and felt Vanitas' grip loosening. He managed to kick his opponent away and look towards the source of the noise. Tsuki was standing in a clear field, not a single Unversed in sight. Her eyes were glowing bright white and crackling with electricity as she held her keyblade aloft. Kishi could make out two metal clamps on her blade that had wires running out of them to the generator. Kinro, Ginro, Kohaku, and Senku all managed to take cover in time.
"Get down!" Tsuki yelled as she fired an enormous yellow lightning bolt out of her keyblade. Kishi took the hint and jumped out of the way as fast he could. The bolt of energy zoomed out and struck Vanitas in the face, making a loud cracking sound. He grunted in pain and clutched his face where he was hit, hunching over and panting.
"This... this isn't over. Your caveman ass is dead the next time we meet. And I'll be ready." He growled out before disappearing into the shadows. With a flash of light, Kishi and Kuro separated again, the dog barking proudly at how they performed. Senku ran to Tsuki and unhooked the clamps from her keyblade, making sure not to touch the two together to complete the circuit again. The white glow of the mage's eyes dimmed back to her regular look, and she quickly collapsed to the ground.
"Is she okay?!" Kishi asked as he ran over to join his companions. He saw Tsuki passed out on the riverbank, thankfully still breathing. But what was concerning was the blood leaking from her nose as she lay still.
"I don't know. I had the idea to supercharge her powers with our waterwheel generator. I figured it would make her strong enough to take out those Unversed things. I didn't think about how her body would react." Senku stated. He looked down in frustration, "I'm... I'm sorry for the oversight."
"Apologize if she doesn't actually wake up." Kishi replied, casting Cure on Tsuki and the rest of his friends. The green glow of his magic made her bleeding stop, but she still wasn't waking up. "Kinro, do ya think you can carry her back to the village?" The brown haired man nodded without saying anything, and scooped up the unconscious girl.
Back at the village, Tsuki was left in one of the huts with Ruri and Gen taking turns watching her as she slept to see if her situation got any worse.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group, along with Suika and Chrome, gathered around a campfire outside of Chrome's treehouse. They were able to grill and salt some fish from the lake and ate in silence, everyone contemplating what they were up against.
"Those were your toughest attacks, right?" Kohaku asked Kishi to break the silence.
"Yeah, I haven't had much field work yet. Wildheart is the best I got right now. And Tsuki... she's not ready to do a move like that again."
"So, what? We gotta deal with these Unversed and Tsukasa?" Chrome complained.
Ginro nudged Senku's shoulder, "C'mon Senku. We were gonna get that metal to finish the cell phones this morning. Shouldn't we go get that done?"
"Ginro is saying we should do work? Things must be really bad." Suika stated, half joking.
The albino scientist sat in silence, staring into the fire. "...These Unverse are at our doorstep. But Tsukasa's army isn't gonna wait for us to finish. Spring is coming, and we need to be ready for him by then." He sighed and looked up from the smoldering flames, "Getting the tungsten from the caves is our top priority right now. Chrome, Magma, and I have the equipment to go get it. Kishi, I know you're not part of the village, but can you come with us incase the Unversed attack us? That big stupid key of yours is the best weapon we got against em."
The keyblade user in question nodded in affirmation, "Say no more, Senku. I came here to help you guys. That's what I'm gonna do."
"Didn't bother to ask if I'm up for it?" came a voice from behind the group. They all turned to see Tsuki walking up to join them, rubbing her head in the process trying to get her bearings.
"Are you sure you're okay? You really blew a gasket back there, almost literally." Kishi asked. The new arrival just sat down on a stump and grabbed a fish skewer from the fire.
"I'm fine. It just took more strength than what I'm used to. Just wait. A few more weeks and I'll be shootin' those spells off like they're goin outta style."
"Well, it's a relief to see you back in the land of the living. We've wasted too much time already with this. Kishi, Chrome, be ready to head out at dawn. I'll go tell Magma." Senku said, standing up and leaving, not bothering to wait for a response.
"I've never seen him this serious before." Chrome pointed out.
"Yeah, Senku's always been a 'one problem at a time' kinda guy." Kohaku finished.
"I guess it's our fault. We're sorry." Tsuki said, looking down in shame.
"Hey hey hey, it's not your guys' fault." Kohaku reassured her, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah, if you didn't do that cool zappy lightning sorcery, I'da been sunk!" Ginro said, his mouth full of meat while talking.
"You don't need to put my skills down that hard, brother." Kinro grumbled to himself.
Kishi felt a tugging on his sleeve, he looked down to see Suika looking up at him.
"What's up, sprout?"
"Um...you're gonna go help Senku. And Tsuki is still tired from that fight. What's gonna happen if those monsters attack while you're gone?"
"Hey! I'm tired, not comatose!" Tsuki yelled in retaliation. Kishi ignored her and chuckled to himself, patting Suika on her watermelon head.
"We're only gonna be gone for a few days. But if you're worried, I'll leave Kuro here. Stick with him, and he'll protect you and Chalk. If he gets hurt, I'll feel it too and know you guys are in trouble."
"Yeah, I was gonna ask about that," Tsuki inquired, "what's up with that? It's like you and Kuro are sharing pain, even when you're not in Wildheart."
"I'm not entirely sure," Kishi replied, putting his hand over his chest, "It feels like, there's a piece of Kuro's heart inside of mine, and vice versa. It's not like physical pain. It's more like a huge weight on my heart. If I had to guess, I'd say it's a side effect from my Wildheart technique."
"Well as long as you don't start howling at the moon, we'll be fine."
"He's a dog, not a wolf."
"So, you think we'll all be okay?" Suika asked, clear nervousness in her voice.
"I know we will. We're the protection buddies, remember?" Kishi said, holding his fist out.
Suika hesitated for a moment before returning the fist bump, "Yeah. Protection buddies."
The next morning had Kishi joining Senku, Chrome, and a huge muscular blonde man he learned to be Magma, out into the wilderness and heading up river. The hike felt like it was a few hours through the fresh snow. Kishi felt every icy breath enter and exit his lungs like a sharp needle. He had days during his training when it would be pretty cold, but never below freezing. He thought about possibly casting Fire just to give himself a bit of warmth and have his blood pumping, but he decided against it, wanting to conserve his energy.
As the group made it to the mouth of an enormous cavern that the river seemed to flow out of, Senku briefed the other guys on the plan.
"Alright Keymaster, we didn't have the spelunking equipment for four people. So you're gonna have to stay out here and wait for us. And keep watch in case any Unversed show up."
"Are you sure that's gonna be okay, Senku? What if the Unversed attack from inside the cave? You'll be unarmed."
Senku chuckled and jammed a thumb over his shoulder to Magma, "Part of the reason why I brought the meathead with us. Chrome and I don't got a snowball's chance in hell against those things, but Magma'll be able to fight em or be a good enough meatshield until we come back and get you."
"I heard that, you wimp!" Magma yelled in retaliation.
"It shouldn't take us longer than a few hours to gather the minerals we need. Just make a fire for yourself and wait for us." Chrome said, ignoring the muscle's complaints.
"Alright, don't waste time in there guys. Who knows what could happen back at the village." Kishi worried out loud as the trio made their way into the dark caves. The novice keyblade user put together some dry branches and started a fire.
Back at the village, Tsuki and Kohaku took watch by Senku's lab as the non-combatant villagers seemed to be making modifications to Chrome's treehouse.
"Your magic is something incredible. I went from believing in sorcery, to not believing, then suddenly believing again. Where did you learn your technique from?" Kohaku asked.
Tsuki looked down at her Sign of Innocence blade, a look of longing on her face. "My mother. She... she's able to do so many incredible things. Ever since I was little I wanted to be just like her. But, I couldn't learn magic. At least not the same way she can. I studied her books and learned about the keyblade, how its users were able to do amazing things. I begged my mom up and down for years to teach me how to get my own. She finally let me learn how on my thirteenth birthday. I've focused on casting magic ever since."
"I know what you mean." Kohaku replied, "When Ruri and I were little, there was dispute about which of us would be the Head Priestess. But, I didn't want that, I wanted to be like my father and become strong. Sometimes I wonder...maybe if I chose to be the Priestess instead, maybe Ruri wouldn't have gotten sick and suffered for so long..."
"Hey," Tsuki place her hand on Kohaku's shoulder, "what's important is that you're both here now, and you're both healthy. And now you and I are gonna keep everyone healthy through this."
The blonde girl smiled at the confidence the magic girl seemed to exude. Time crawled on for several more hours for the two girls, the snow in the air creating an eerie blanket of silence. On the other side of the clearing, Suika was using a strand of Foxtail Millet to play with Chalk and Kuro. While Kishi's dog was relatively larger than the small girl, he seemed to be gentle while playing with her and the small white puppy.
After what felt like an eternity of staring out into the woods looking at nothing, Kuro suddenly started growling and the bushes began to rustle. Everyone turned their heads to see a pack of Unversed start to crawl out of the woods. These new Unversed looked much like the smaller grunts that attacked them before, but taller and slightly more humanoid with large silver claws on their hands.
"We got company!" Tsuki yelled as she brought out her key, running to Kuro's side. Kohaku followed suit with her katana.
"Suika, go get Kinro and Ginro! We need all the help we can get!" she ordered the little girl. Too nervous to say anything, Suika nodded and bounced her way back to the village.
The two girls stood back to back, keeping their swords ready at the hip. These new Unversed jumped and swiped at Kohaku with their huge claws. Just as the blonde girl was about to block, a translucent hexagon barrier appeared before her and repeled the monster's attack. Kohaku looked over her shoulder and saw Tsuki's keyblade glowing from the spell she just used.
"Try not to use magic. You still haven't recovered fully yet."
"I can handle it!" Tsuki yelled in retaliation as she summoned a huge volley of small fireballs all around the two, homing in on the approaching Unversed. Kuro continued to dash across the field, swiping and biting at any creature in his path. While he was able to take down a few of the new monsters, the shadowy horde managed to get some licks in, cutting the dog on his side and his legs.
Kishi sat by the fire outside the cave, sighing to himself out of boredom. He lazily tried drawing little pictures in the dirt with his keyblade just to have something to do with his hands.
"I guess it's better to be bored than be in danger." he said to himself.
Just then, he felt it. A huge tight grip on his chest and several small burns across his arms and legs. It was so sudden, the shock of it caused him to fall to the ground, clutching himself in a fetal position. Instinctively he cast Cure on himself to numb the pain, but it didn't work. This made Kishi realize these weren't physical injuries.
"Kuro! They're in trouble!"
He was about to book it back when he realized that his travel companions were still in the cave, with no clue as to when they'd get out. He decided to quickly write a message in the dirt outside the cave and hope it wouldn't be brushed away by the time they got out.
'Something's wrong! Probably Unversed! Run! There, that should be good enough. I gotta haul ass!' he thought as he used his focus energy to take off through the trees. Using the tree branches as footholds, he managed to double the speed he would've normally made back on foot. Still, it would be about an hour before he could make it back. He just moved as fast as his body would allow himself and pray nothing would happen to his new friends.
Suika got back to the village in record time and told Kinro and Ginro to get to the clearing. The two brothers agreed and took off, or rather Kinro took off and dragged Ginro kicking and screaming. Ruri and Gen met up with Suika once the fighters all left.
"Suika, you should stay with us. It's not going to be safe out here." Ruri said, grabbing the small girl's shoulders.
"But, Kishi and Senku and the others are still out there. They might be in trouble too." she replied, looking out into the distance where her friends took off.
"They'll be okay. You need to join the children and elderly and take shelter."
"She's right, Suika." Gen added, "It seems like things are about to get erious-say."
Reluctantly, the watermelon girl nodded and started walking to one of the huts.
'Kishi's a good guy. He's gonna be okay. He knows what's happening now because of his connection to Kuro. He's probably on his way now. Which means that Vanitas guy knows he's coming. And he's a lot faster than Senku and Chrome. And Magma will be carrying heavy rocks. If he's gonna be running back alone...' "He's heading for a trap!" Suika finally said out loud after thinking about the logistics of this battle.
Without hesitation, she curled into her helmet and bounced off out of the village as fast as she could.
"Suika come back! It's too dangerous!" Ruri called out.
"I'm gonna be useful!" Suika yelled in response.
Tsuki and Kohaku were not doing well when Kinro and Ginro showed up. The two young women were still back to back and playing on the defensive, slashing at any Unversed that came close. Kinro was about to charge in to help when another Unversed intercepted him with a claw swipe. The bespectacled fighter brought his katana up to block the claw in time, but the force behind the attack pushed him backwards.
"Hey Tsuki, that electricity trick you used last fight." Kohaku started.
"Do you think you could do the opposite, use your magic to enhance an object?" she asked as she blocked another oncoming attack.
"I'm not sure what you me- oooohhhh, I think I get it." Tsuki said, nodding in approval of her unspoken idea.
"We just gotta buy ourselves some time."
"I think I have a trick that can help. I haven't really tried this before but, it's better than nothing."
"Go for it, sorceress!"
Tsuki channeled magical energy through her keyblade. Instead of the fire, ice, or lightning that normally went through it, this energy was a deep black and purple with small flickers of white light throughout.
A dark purple forcefield surrounded the two girls. The Unversed all trapped under the energy were forced down to the ground. The distorted gravity was so dense it made the ground crack from the impact of some of them. The Unversed tried to wriggle free, but it was to no avail.
"Not bad, magic lady."
"Not bad yourself there, lioness." Tsuki jested. She then touched the tip of her keyblade to Kohaku's katana. She whispered a few magical words and a concentrated jet of fire flowed out onto the katana's blade. The flames swirled around the steel of her sword until the whole blade was glowing reddish orange. Surprisingly the heat didn't transfer to the hilt, leaving Kohaku's hands unscathed.
"As Senku would say, this sword is ten billion percent better." Kohaku said.
"Good, cause my gravity spell is about to give out."
The purple magical field around them dissipated as the Unversed got back up to fight. Kohaku brought her new red hot sword down on an Unversed. The blue creature was severed with a burst of flame and turned to a pile of ash.
"Alright! Let's get these guys!"
Kishi's breathing got heavier as the cold air rushed through his lungs. He kept his speed up as best as he could the whole trip back, jumping from tree to tree.
'Can't slow down! Not for a second! Everyone's in danger!' he kept saying in his head over and over.
As he saw the smoke over the horizon marking the location of the village, he was so focused on his destination, he didn't notice the bolt of dark energy fly out of nowhere and hit him in the leg. Kishi stumbled and fell down the ground, crashing headfirst into the snow, thankfully cushioning his fall a little bit, but still enough to seriously hurt and knock the wind out of him.
"You hero types are way too predictable." Came a familiar voice as Kishi got up from the dirt. Standing some feet away was Vanitas, in the same relaxed posture he had when they first fought.
"*cough* What's your problem, asshole!? *cough* What do you gain by attacking us?" Kishi asked, still trying to collect himself and catch his breath.
"Seriously? You still don't get it? This place was practically made for me." Vanitas said, gesturing to the wilderness around him.
"What? You're some rugged camping type?"
"Haven't you figured it out? The Unversed all come from me. They're my creation. I already told you they feed off of negative emotions."
"Look around you, oh-so-wise Keyblade master! You should know by now these statues aren't just art projects."
Kishi looked around at the stone people, remembering the story of how they came to be that way. The gears in his head started turning as he began to realize what Vanitas is saying.
"You...you're feeding off of them!"
Vanitas chuckled to himself, "It's perfect. Billions of hearts crying out for salvation. Frozen in place. It's the world I've been waiting for."
The dark warrior removed his hood to show his true face for the first time. With Tsuki's spell breaking his helmet, Vanitas was revealed to be a young man, at least in appearance, a bit younger than Kishi. His hair jet black and spiky sticking out in random directions, his eyes bright yellow and pulsing, and his teeth bearing fangs with his cocky smile.
"You...you're some sort of monster!" Kishi spat at his opponent.
"Monster? Me? I'm just a shadow trying to make his way in the worlds. These stone people? The fear of never seeing light again. The need to scream with no mouth. The need to run with no movement. The desire to hang on to hope even when their lives are teetering on the precipice of the abyss. It's as rich a well of negative energy as I could ever hope for. And with you and the magic bitch gone, I'll be free to just pig out."
That set Kishi off. With a yell in rage he charged at Vanitas as fast as he possibly could, bringing the Starlight out right as he struck at the Unversed master. With a loud CLANG, his attack was blocked by Vanitas' weapon. The appearance of it made Kishi's eyes widen in shock. It was a keyblade, seemingly made of black and crimson gears and chains, and a good bit larger than the novice blade that Kishi was using.
"You've been waiting to whip out that trick?" Kishi said, pushing back against the block with all his strength.
"You have a real bad habit of playing your best cards right off the bat." Vanitas joked at his adversary. With almost no effort he swung his keyblade, forcing Kishi flying backwards into a tree, knocking the wind out of him yet again.
Kishi didn't want to give him an opening. He immediately used his focus energy to rocket to a nearby tree and triangle jump around to strike Vanitas from behind. The plan worked, at least a little. He managed to get a solid hit in before he sank into the ground in a pool of shadow, much like last time. He instantly reappeared behind Kishi and gave him an open palm strike to the back. The pain reverberated through his ribcage as he tumbled over onto the ground yet again.
"Your ace in the hole can't be done without that mutt of yours. After that little stunt your girlfriend pulled with that lightning spell, I'm gonna enjoy carving both of you out into little pieces."
Kishi didn't say anything, but instead shot out an ice spell. From his position on the ground, he jumped up and rode the ice trail left behind by the spell projectile. He then kicked off the makeshift rail and slashed at Vanitas yet again. This time, the dark being just dodged and fired a bolt of dark energy at him. Kishi landed and quickly turned around in time to deflect the bolt with his blade.
"Kishi?" came a voice off to the side. Both fighters turned to see Suika standing there looking worried.
"You gotta get outta here kid!" Kishi yelled. He fired several thunderbolts at Vanitas to keep him from going on the offensive.
"I wanted to warn you about the monsters. We're the protection buddies."
"I appreciate it kid, but this REALLY isn't the time for that!"
Vanitas broke away from the beam of electricity and smiled an evil cocky grin before looking towards Suika. Kishi quickly caught on to what he was doing. He had to act fast, but he felt his strength leaving him. His limbs were crying out in pain from everything that he just went through, and his magic and focus energy reserves were nearly gone. But he made a promise. He swore he would protect the little girl, and he was gonna make damn sure no one else died on his watch. Gathering up what little focus energy he had left, he zoomed over to Suika shielded her with his body from whatever Vanitas was doing. Apparently what he was doing was sending a dark beam of electricity straight at the kid. He grunted in pain as the attack struck him square in the back, already hurting from the damage he took a second ago.
"Kishi! Are you okay!?" Suika asked, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"I'm fine, sprout. It's like you said. Protection buddies." He managed to choke out, wincing in pain as he knew he was almost completely spent.
Just then, he noticed a faint glowing coming from Suika's chest. He looked down to see the same one coming from his own. It was the same kind of glow that he had with Kuro before.
"What's wrong, Kishi?"
"Suika, I think we can get out of this, but I need your help. Do ya think ya can help me out?"
The small girl put on a determined face and nodded, "I'll do what I can to be useful."
"Save the sentimental crap!" Vanitas yelled as he shot another energy bolt at them. Without thinking, Kishi wrapped Suika up in a hug causing them to be engulfed in a flash of light. The energy shot completely disappeared from the light, and Vanitas had to look away from the spectacle.
"Vanitas, you're way too serious. Now it's time to have some fun!" Came a new voice. The light dimmed to show a seemingly adolescent of indeterminate gender. They wore Kishi's caveman outfit, but with deep navy accents and a white rope over their shoulder, similar to Suika's rope necklace. They had a round childish face with spiky almond hair. On the side of their head was a mask that looked like a flattened out version of Suika's helmet.
"What? Is that supposed to intimidate me?" Vanitas asked sarcastically.
"Hmm, Idunno. I just feel like given ya a real pummelin!" Suikishi(?) responded, rubbing their chin in thought.
"You think hiding behind a child will turn the tides? I'm your demise, you freak." Vanitas charged forward attempting to strike with his keyblade. Suikishi smiled and jumped over the villain, doing a flip and tumbling behind him.
"I'm not a freak I'm...hmm...with Suika and Kishi...I'll call this..." Suikishi pondered before bringing out their weapon, which was an enormous ball and chain painted to look like a watermelon. It landed on the ground with an enormous THUD. "Odama Form!"
"I don't care what you call it, I'm still gonna tear both of your hearts out."
"Aww, that's not nice." Suikishi said making a sad kissy face, "I just wanna play some CATCH!" In the blink of an eye, Suikishi was able to swing their wrecking ball around and into Vanitas' side before he was able to react. He was sent flying through a tree, knocking it over in the process.
Vanitas then teleported behind Suikishi and brought his keyblade up to stab the individual. They were able to jump up and perform a handstand to dodge the attack. Vanitas then tried striking several more times with his sword, growling in frustration as Suikishi did more acrobatics to duck and weave around his attacks. They then did a huge leap back and summoned their ball and chain again.
"I call this my Knuckle Ball!" They said as they tossed the watermelon ball into the air. They then wound up their fist and punched the ball forward as it fell down, blasting the weapon like a cannonball in Vanitas' direction. The shadow man saw it coming and jumped out of the way, charging at the fusion again with his keyblade. Still smiling, Suikishi curled up into a ball and a forcefield formed around them that looked like another giant watermelon. As Vanitas struck the forcefield, it made them rocket out and rebound off a tree like a bouncy ball. They continued to bounce back and forth between trees all around, in a seemingly random pattern. Vanitas was confused as to what they were doing before he felt himself get hit from behind by their forcefield attack. Then again, and again, and again. And they continued to bounce around like a pinball, hitting Vanitas with each pass through.
After several hits, Suikishi finally landed and dissipated the forcefield. Cartoon stars were floating around their head as their eyes were spinning.
"Woah, my head's all topsy turvy!" They slapped themself to snap out of it quickly, "Now for the grand finale!" They said as they brought out the wrecking ball again.
Vanitas was dazed from the beating he just got, clutching his head in confusion, pain, and frustration. He didn't seem to notice Suikishi come up behind him and slam the wrecking ball deep into the ground right next to him. They then jumped into the air and...spun the landscape around? As in, they seemed to stay suspended in the air and swung the entire world around a full 360 before slamming it back down. Somehow, this caused Vanitas to collapse to the ground. Pure rage was burning behind his eyes at this point.
"THAT DIDN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE!" He exclaimed.
"It doesn't have to make sense when you're havin' fun!" Suikishi responded cheerfully.
Vanitas clambered to his feet, using his keyblade to prop himself up. Just as he was about to say something, a dark portal opened behind him. Out of the portal came a tall figure wearing the same black cloak that Vanitas wore, but with the hood concealing their face.
"Hey, boss sent me to get you. You're done here." he stated casually.
"What? I still have business here." Vanitas replied defiantly.
"Not anymore ya don't. You got bigger fish to fry. We got word that the King's lackeys and the kid are heading for that monster world you're so fond of. So pack up your toys and let's go, kid."
Vanitas looked ready to blow a gasket, looking back and forth from the portal to Suikishi.
"This isn't over, freak. You caught me off guard. Gotta admit, I didn't think you'd be brave enough to have a little girl save you. But she won't be there next time we fight." he said before shambling over to the portal and disappearing into a black mist.
With a flash of light, Suikishi separated back into Suika and Kishi. For a brief moment, both just stared at each other in silence, contemplating what they just went through.
But that was quickly subsided by them breaking into a fit of laughter.
"That was amazing sprout!"
"You did it Kishi! You beat the bad guy!"
Kishi picked up the small girl and propped her on his right shoulder.
"WE did it kid! I woulda been sunk if you didn't show up."
"Protection Buddies!" "Protection Buddies!"
Back at the clearing, Tsuki and Kohaku were continuing their defense from the Unversed. The two were starting to finally get the upper hand with the sword upgrade Tsuki gave her battle partner. The burning sword cut through the creatures like they were made of paper. But, as they prepared for more Unversed, they suddenly vanished into dust. Tsuki, Kohaku, Kinro, Ginro, and even Kuro all blinked in confusion at the sudden abruptness of the disappearance.
"Is...is it over?" Kohaku asked.
"Uh... maybe? Let's wait for the guys to get back and we can figure this out." Tsuki replied.
Just as they finished their exchange, they heard footsteps heading toward them. They turned to see Kishi and Suika jogging up to the group, both looking super elated.
"Suika, what happened to you guys?" Kohaku asked, hugging the small girl in relief.
"We kicked the bad guys butt!" Suika exclaimed proudly.
"Wait, what? You two beat Vanitas?" Tsuki asked, confused at the phrasing.
"Yeah, not exactly beaten. But he definitely won't be coming back here anytime soon. And that means no more Unversed attacks."
"Wait, what about Senku, Chrome and Magma?" Kinro asked.
"I had to leave them when I felt Kuro here being attacked. They should be on their way back soon now that everything's taken care of." Kishi explained while petting Kuro behind the ears.
"It was so cool Kohaku! We turned into a big kid! And we had a huge ball! And we were all ZOOM and WHOOSH and CRACK!" Suika bounced up and down recounting the battle in her own words.
Tsuki looked towards the little girl and back to Kishi, "Wait... does that mean you two...?"
"Yeah, I guess our hearts connected enough to let us fuse like I did with Kuro."
"I wanna do it again! I wanna do it again! I wanna be big and strong!" Suika yelled, tugging on Kishi's pant leg.
The novice keybearer chuckled slightly and patted his friend on the head. "You will be someday, sprout. If today was anything to go by, you're gonna be a force to be reckoned with."
Senku, Chrome and Magma finally showed up back at the village later in the evening, having seen Kishi's hastily scribbled message and running as fast as the weak albino scientist possibly could. Aside from him and his lab assistant, Magma was also exhausted and aching, having carried a backpack full of minerals almost the size of him.
"What *pant* happened? *pant*" Senku asked as he fell to the ground.
"Oh, Senku! Heeeey, sorry for ditching you guys. But, it's all taken care of. Hope you didn't freak out too much." Kishi said, nervous laughing at the trio's pain and aches.
"Eat shit and die, magic man." Senku said, still facedown in the dirt.
"Eat shit and live, Science Guy."
The next day continued the Village's efforts to build a cellphone now that the Unversed were gone and they had all the minerals they needed. Not sure what to do to help since the wires were practically done, Kishi decided to ask the old craftsman, Kaseki, to help him with a small project he wanted to finish before he and Tsuki left. The old man didn't have time to do such a 'simple job' but he let the youngin' use any of his tools that were free. After about a week, and many splinters and cuts, the secret project was ready, and so was the cellphone.
Senku demonstrated how the speakerphone and receiver would work by having a conversation with Chrome from inside his treehouse to a hut in the village. The villagers were all in complete awe at what they were able to witness, being able to speak to another human no matter how far away they were. The whole scenario made Kishi ponder over all the technology he had outside this world that he took for granted.
Soon after, it was time to say goodbye. The villagers decided to give the pair a casket of their wine to take with them.
"Oh, we can't really accept this." Tsuki said.
"It's fine, we got plenty right now. You're doin us a favor gettin rid of it." Chrome interjected.
Senku approached the duo to say his goodbye.
"Guess you're finally out of our hair." he said, picking his ear nonchalantly.
"Not like you don't have room, right?" Kishi retorted. His face then quickly shifted to a more serious look. "Senku, I know some scientists on another world. I can bring you to them and you can work on recreating a cure for-" "Ah, save it." Senku cut him off. Kishi blinked in confusion.
"You really opened my eyes. I got a lot to think about with all this. But first I gotta make sure this world still has a future. I'm gonna find those worlds, but it's gonna be by my own skills, my own science. And once I'm up there, I'll find out everything about you guys and this so called magic."
Kishi gave a soft smile and nodded, "I look forward to it."
Kohaku approached Tsuki to say her goodbyes. "Tsuki, I hope you know... it's great wanting to be like your mother, but that might take away from what makes you you. Ya know?"
"Yeah, I gotcha. Honestly, I think I really gotta work on my physical strength, especially if I'm gonna be carrying this big idiot." she jested, pointing her thumb over to Kishi.
The blonde snickered at the response, "Well, I want you to have this. It's a replica of the shield my father gave me when I first became a fighter." she said, holding out a red wooden shield painted with a tribal pattern. Tsuki took it and felt tears welling up in her eyes. She choked on her words and was only able to mouth the words 'thank you'.
Kishi made sure to talk to Suika before leaving.
"I guess you're leavin' huh?" she asked, looking down sadly.
Kishi got down on one knee and put his hand on her shoulder to comfort the girl. "Hey, just cause I'm leaving doesn't mean I'll be gone."
"What?" she asked.
"You and I have a bond now. Our hearts are connected, and they always will be. No matter how far away we are, I'll always be here, at least in spirit."
The watermelon girl clutched her chest thinking about what he said.
"Hey, I wanted to give you something. Ol Man Kaseki didn't help me, so it may look a little...crappy." he said as he reached into his rucksack. Suika gasped as he pulled out a small wooden keyblade, carved from sticks and tied together with twine. It was extremely rough around the edges, without having any means to sand it down. On the hilt, he managed to carve out a small picture of Suika's mask.
"I...I love it... I LOVE IT!" she shouted as she grabbed the toy sword. She swung it around, trying to mimic the tricks she saw Kishi and Tsuki do while they were here.
"You're on your way kid. Maybe you'll be a keyblade master someday."
"Oh, that reminds me, I wanted to give you something too." Suika said, putting her new key to the side and reaching into her side pouch. She fished out what looked like a small glass disc the size of a baseball, wrapped in leather straps and dangling like a keychain.
"I... I wanted to give you something important to me. You never asked why I wear this thing on my head. Senku says it's cause I'm 'near-sighted'. He made me these things called glasses and now I'm able to see everything. I can actually be useful and help people now. But, it broke during the Village tournament. I'm actually wearing the second glasses now. But, I figured maybe, if you have this, you'll be able to see where you're going better."
Kishi looked at the small glass disc and felt tears start to flow down his face. Without saying anything, he grabbed the lens and wrapped Suika up in a tight hug.
"I'll come back to visit ya kid. I promise." he said.
"I know. We're the protection buddies."
The two keyblade wielders and dog waved to the village as they began their trek back. It was a bittersweet goodbye with the primitive people they had come to befriend in the short time they had been here.
"I'll be right behind ya, space cadet!" Senku called out.
Back on the ship, Tsuki and Kishi pushed and shoved each other trying to get first dibs on the first real shower either of them had taken in a while. Eventually, Kishi relented and Tsuki got herself cleaned up. He plopped down on his bunk trying to rest after everything that happened.
"It's good to be clean shaven again at least." he said out loud, feeling his chin and remembering the facial hair was part of the magic disguise.
Not sure what to do, he pulled out the glass lens Suika gave him. It dangled on the leather strap as he stared through the perfectly transparent disc. He thought about a way to carry it around and realized he had the perfect way. He summoned Starlight and held the weapon aloft. He noticed that the keychain dangling from the hilt actually had a clip that meant it could be removed. He removed the keychain and pocketed it for later. Kishi then took the strap attached to the lens and tied it around the loop on the hilt. Once it felt tight enough to not fall off in combat, the keyblade disappeared. Concerned, Kishi reached out to summon it again, which it did, but it was now a completely different keyblade.
The new keyblade appeared to be a lot more rustic. The hilt resembled gray cracking stone. The cross where the hilt met the blade was a round beaker of blue liquid. The blade itself was a geyser of the blue fluid coming out of the beaker. The 'teeth' of the keyblade looked to be a simple swallow's wing.
"Oh hey, you got your first keychain." Tsuki said as she came back from the bathroom.
"I've had plenty of keychains before, it's how I remembered them at work."
"No dummy, the keychains are upgrades for keyblades. It enhances your keyblade physically and changes its appearance. Looks like your connection with Suika made this new form happen. So, what are ya gonna call it?"
"Hmmm" Kishi pondered, looking at the new form of his keyblade. The sword seemed to have a slight bit more heft to it, probably meaning it would be able to hit harder but slower.
"The Eyes of Science" he decided.
"I woulda called it the gushing geyser but whatever. Anyway, the shower's all yours now."
Kishi savoured the hot water that he was without for over a week. It felt like a million warm blankets cascading over him in comfort. After he got out, he was relieved to see Tsuki wasn't in the cockpit like she was before. Instead, she sat on her bunk looking over the shield Kohaku gave her.
"You wanted to go back to Radiant Garden and make a new route, right?" he asked.
Tsuki didn't look up from the shield, "Ya know, maybe your master was right. Maybe we should follow where your heart takes you. I think it's our best bet right now."
"If you really think so." Kishi shrugged and jumped into the captain's seat, revving up the thrusters. He brought out the Eyes of Science and pointed it outside to the great yawning void. The familiar beam of light shot out the tip and formed a floating keyhole in space. A flash of light opened a huge swirling wormhole ready to transport the two keybearers, and dog, into the great unknown.
"Hang onto your butts!" Kishi exclaimed as he hit the accelerate and shot straight into the portal.
The ship tossed, turned, and tumbled through the tunnel of light as Kishi held onto the steering controls with all his strength, trying in vain to desperately stabilize the ship's trajectory. Tsuki decided to cast Gravity on herself to keep her rooted to the floor. Kuro was not so lucky. The poor dog was sent ass over teakettle around the living quarters of the ship. After a few minutes of rolling and feeling the need to vomit uncontrollably, the gummiship finally exited the wormhole and back into space.
"I take it back! Your heart sucks!" Tsuki yelled from the back, clutching her head in pain.
Kishi didn't listen to her insults. Instead he was transfixed on the new world he found, or rather, worlds. It was two worlds, both giving the appearance of a bustling urban metropolis on one side and a simple neighborhood on the other. The two worlds were way too close together for it to make any sense. Not only that, but the two worlds seemed to be connected by some sort of translucent vortex of swirling red energy, opening up on both ends while constricting in the middle, as if it was stretching elastic.
"Would you listen to me!? We are never using a portal aga-! What? What is this?" Tsuki asked, her anger fading away as she was perplexed by the two worlds.
"I have no idea. The HUD says these are two more uncharted worlds. But they're definitely two separate worlds connected by some sorta energy. I haven't been in space that long, but this feels pretty damn sketch." Kishi said, looking at the display in the cockpit bubble.
"So...what's the plan? Do we tackle one then the other?"
"I don't know. It seems like the safer method but... We've been wasting too much time already. And if we go to one world, the enemy might be on the other and leave right as we arrive. It's a complicated dilemma."
"So, why don't we just split up? I'll take one, you take the other." Tsuki suggested.
Kishi pondered this plan, not sure what the correct approach was. He always assumed he'd be traveling with his master and they would tackle each world together.
"Alright, but you're gonna take Kuro with you." He decided.
"What? I'm not dogsitting for you." Tsuki responded.
"Listen, you still rely on magic a lot. And it can still take a lot out of you. What would happen if you had to cast a big spell again? You'd be defenseless. At least with Kuro with you, you'll have a partner watching your back."
"Oh so that's it? You think I'm not good enough to go by myself. Well let me tell you Kishi Hikari, you're not the hotshot you think you are!"
"This has nothing to do with my ego. I'm just trying to be pragmatic. You think I want to leave my dog alone on a strange new world?" That made Tsuki shut up and look down at the dog in question. Kuro looked up at her with big brown puppy dog eyes. "I'm doing this because I trust him, and I trust you. And I, to a lesser extent, trust myself. I won't be able to use Wildheart if he goes with you. It's something new for all of us, but it's the best plan we got."
Tsuki bit her thumb in frustration. "Fine, I'll watch him, but you owe me one. So, which world do I go to?"
"Well that's the thing, they both look the same. Seems like kind of a crapshoot." he stated, looking out on the two connected worlds.
"Drop me off on the left world, you'll take the right." Tsuki said, pointing out the left hand world.
"Okay, let's do this. And...good luck. Both of you."
"You too, wolfboy."
END OF CHAPTER 6
A/N: So I don't normally do Author's notes, but I wanted to clear some stuff up from this chapter. Odama Form uses some hard to describe attacks because they're based off of Link's ball and chain weapon from Hyrule Warriors, including the absolutely ridiculous finisher where he seismic tosses the world.
The next arc is kind of a deep cut. But, basically, the two worlds are two fandoms that are so deeply intertwined by the literal thousands of fan stories, it's a headcanon that the two shows are pretty much in the same universe. So yeah, it'll make sense later, but it's kind of my meta take on the two fandoms.