Author's Notes: Okay, so I'm going to have to address this again. First, love the fact that you guys are enjoying the story. However, to those who are basically sending suggestions anonymously, please, like I said, I already got a plan in mind, and I'd also rather not stray too far from the original mold, not to mention the games being used are being set in a specific timeline both in their worlds AND when they came out during the shows' runs. So no shows such as The Loud House or TMNT.
Second, I'd also rather not have these anonymous reviews cluttering up the inbox, so please, also try to keep your reviews just that, alright? I'd rather not have to just clean those up again.
Lastly, I'd also like to personally request that if you got a review to make, and I'm not going to judge, please don't leave standard 'Can't wait for the next update' spam. No offense, but I'd rather hear what you think of the chapter you read than just noting your enthusiasm.
Now, with that out of the way, let's move on to chapter 7, where we reach the end of Wonderland's little arc.
The lotus forest was filled with card guards searching every nook and cranny for the mysterious figure that kidnapped the defendant. However, as much as the phrase 'searching high and low' would try to apply to this situation, the unfortunate truth was that the cards, being as flat as they were, could only search low. The poor troops could not climb something like mushrooms as much as they could step ladders to paint white roses red. Of course, that might also be why those who used step ladders for that purpose had also lost their heads. Long story short, the card guards were having no success.
Now, as for our heroes, they were busy looking for any sign of Alice and Lydia. From there, Danny was left with having to explain just who Lydia was.
"So she's a ghost from your world, Danny?" Sora asked.
"Yes, she's part of the Circus Gothica, a traveling circus run by her boss, Freakshow." Danny answered. "Unlike her, Freakshow's a human, and the Circus Gothica was actually this cover-up for his criminal activities. He used to have this staff that allowed him to control ghosts. To keep it brief, he had me under his spell but my friends managed to set me free, destroyed his magic staff and got him arrested. But what I want to know is how Lydia even got here. Last I checked, our arch enemies only founded the Syndicate."
"Guess we shouldn't be surprised they probably got some of our other enemies working for them too." Timmy supposed. "I mean, supervillains always pull that stunt in comics, and even video game bosses have their own henchmen around to make fighting them annoying."
"If that's the case, then the Syndicate has managed to discover the existence of worlds outside ours, confirming the worst-case scenario." Jimmy sighed. "From this moment on, we should expect to see them exerting their influence over any worlds we'll come across on our journey, just as they had here. And, thus…" the boy genius rubbed his face, "...have to deal with more than what we anticipated. I should've been more prepared."
Donald crossed his arms and tapped his webbed foot, grumbling under his breath about something. To the untrained eye, none would notice the royal court mage narrowing his eyes at the boy genius. Goofy, all the while, had a thoughtful look on his face as he pondered something else.
"But if this Sin-dee-kit is more interested in taking over worlds," the knight-captain mentioned, "then what would they need to kidnap Alice for?"
"Now that's a question for the ages." Retroville's smartest resident gave him credit for noticing that. "That's information that we don't have, and that's more worrisome…"
"Guys, as much as I care about the ramifications of this as much as you," Spongebob told the group, "shouldn't we be trying to find Alice as well? Who knows where that Lydia lady took her! And a proper lady shouldn't be around such bad influences."
"Danny," Gadget agreed with Spongebob and looked to the ghost boy, "you're the one who knew where Lydia was. Perhaps you can figure out where she went?"
"Normally I would, but that's just it." The halfa replied, gesturing to the blue breath escaping his lips. "For some reason, it feels like she's in all directions here. The fact all the other entrances around here lead back to that room, it's more than likely this world is just as easily making it difficult to track her down."
"Does that mean this world is some kind of maze?" Sora summed up despite his confusion.
"That's unfortunate." Jiminy Cricket said. "Would be nice if we had a more concrete clue…"
"Oh hey, one of the flowers is opening up!" Cosmo's voice got their attention.
They looked towards a red flower that, indeed as the green fairy said, was opening its petals. But then something shot out from the flower, forcing everyone to shout and jump out of the way to avoid being crushed! They looked up and saw a boulder just sitting right near the flat surface of water closeby. A rather familiar boulder too.
And sure enough, the Cheshire Cat appeared on that boulder, humming, "And the mome raths outgrabe~"
The group came up to the boulder, watching as the fickle feline rested his head on his front legs like they were arms, while the rest of his body was perched upward, his hind legs opening their paws like hands and his tail hung in the air. Yet another peculiar position for a peculiar puss.
"Have you seen Alice?" Donald asked, minding his grumbling.
"Or at the very least, a green lady covered in tattoos?" Danny asked. "She just kidnapped Alice a bit ago."
"Alice, no. A green woman, also no." The Cheshire Cat denied. "Shadows and strangers, yes!"
"Where did they go?" Goofy asked, curious about the 'strangers' bit.
"This way? That way?" The Cheshire Cat stood on his hind legs and made motions of walking left and right. "Does it matter? Left, right, up, down! All mixed up thanks to the shadows and their cohorts!"
"You mean it wasn't before?" Even Wanda couldn't resist a comment about this world's odd geography.
"While it doesn't matter which way you go," the striped cat said, "I suggest you step deeper into the forest to the deserted garden. You might find shadows in the upside-down room! Maybe even a clue to where your 'green lady' is. But from the look of things, she might just be everywhere, so go ahead and look anywhere you wish. You might even find some things that you'd like to find without even knowing you needed to find them."
"You just can't say anything straight, can you?" Danny asked, half-lidded and unimpressed with the cat's riddles.
"Now where would the fun be in that?" the Cheshire Cat asked, his smile never breaking. "Most everyone's mad here. I'm mad, you're mad…"
"We're not mad." Jimmy couldn't help but try and correct.
"Oh, you must be," the puss replied, "otherwise, you would not have come here."
The Cheshire Cat then laughed for a while before taking in his breath with a deep gasp.
"...He's got us there, Jimmy." Spongebob said after a moment of consideration.
Jimmy tried coming up with a better retort. However, he found himself coming up short with each attempt. He then just sighed and rubbed his face with his palm. He knew this was in the book. He just had to accept it and move on. And he would accept it just as the cat once again vanished with none of the cards noticing his presence.
"Hey, you lot!" A Ten of Hearts, however, noticed them apparently 'loitering' and approached them. "If you're going to be standing there starin' at rocks all day, then make yourselves useful and help with the search! Otherwise, it'll be all our heads on the block!"
The card then called some of his fellows forward and began pushing the rock off to the flat water surface… where it then fell down into with a splash, making two lily pads extend from the ground like platforms. By now, everyone knew better than to question it. The cards went back to their search, leaving the group to begin assessing their next plan of action.
"Okay, guys, since Danny's 'ghost sense' is somewhat hampered by this world's logistics," the boy genius told them, "we're going to have to split up into teams again to cover more ground. Sora, since the Heartless are drawn to your Keyblade, you will join me and Goddard in investigating this deserted garden the Cheshire Cat talked about."
"Alright, got it." Sora nodded. Goddard barked right after.
"Spongebob, you're with Goofy, and Timmy and Danny are with Donald to search everywhere else here." Jimmy said to the rest of the group. "Check all the places where we originally found the clues for Alice's trial, and look into the new route the guard just opened for us. If everything is mixed up as the Cheshire Cat said, it should pay to look for new things that only now pop up."
"Hey, wait a minute!" Donald was not happy with this particular arrangement. "We're supposed to be with the key!"
"Oh relax, why don't you?" Timmy told the fowl. "It's not like we'll be separated long anyhow if we find good stuff."
"Besides, if we find any chests, we'll make sure to bring them to Sora so he can open them up." Spongebob added. "There's probably more of those poor puppies to find, too, you know!"
"Again with the puppies…" The duck muttered. He also found he was muttering more lately ever since these people joined their party.
"Well, you can count on us to look everywhere." Danny said to Jimmy. "Just be careful of Heartless, okay?"
"Uh, like them?" Goofy pointed ahead.
Sure enough, Heartless appeared in the forest once more. There were the familiar Soldiers and Shadows, along with the Red Nocturnes. However, now they had another new Heartless among them. Towering over them in fact! Nearly spherical in shape, this easily-dubbed 'Large Body' also had massive arms and hands, short legs, huge feet, and tiny heads. This blue-skinned Heartless was clothed in a purple sleeveless bodysuit edged in gold trim; the trim also laced up the front of the body suit across the Large Body's big belly. Along with black curl-toe shoes and black silver-trimmed pants, the Large Body also boasted a massive manacle in purple and silver on each wrist; three links of chain dangle from each of them, no doubt meant as makeshift weapons. It was topped off by a high silver collar that covers their lower face, and a tiny silver wizard hat that ended in a traditional Heartless curl. As per many other Heartless, it had a shadowed face and yellow eyes.
"Woah! That one is huge!" The sea sponge exclaimed. "I thought only Mrs. Puff could be that big when inflated!"
"Just hit them where it hurts!" Timmy exclaimed before firing at the Large Body at the front… only to watch his projectile bounce right off! "Hey, that's cheating!"
"Does it have a force field?" Gadget nervously asked upon noticing a rippling energy wave around the spot Timmy's shot just hit. "Jimmy, that flat barrier must mean…"
"That frontal attacks are out of the question here." The boy genius finished for her with ease. "Everyone when dealing with these, go for the tried and true strategy of hitting from behind or going for the head!"
"You got that from glimpsing it?" Sora asked the mouse in his hair in slight awe.
Understanding their strategy for this new Heartless, our heroes sprung into action in order to save the cards from getting their hearts taken, ignoring a potential joke about the heart cards. Indeed, any attacks aimed at the Large Body's stomach just bounced off of it, leaving its attacker open to either whips from the chains of its manacles or even great lunges from its stomach. Goofy proved to be more than helpful against this creature, using his shield to deflect body blows and even stun it back to get hit from behind. However, enough damage had eventually angered the Large Body, suddenly making it emit a pink aura of all things and throwing a tantrum before charging at everyone in its path. But Goofy even deflected that, leaving the Large Body to actually try and ponder what had just happened, leaving it open to be finished off. There was no denying the heroes rushed to get every bit of munny and health that the monster's demise had dropped.
"Right, memo for your journal, Jiminy," the ghost hero told the cricket. "Next time we see those guys, we kick their butts, literally."
"Glad to have you on board, Gadget," Sora complimented the blonde mouse on his hair with a large grin. "I may have to rely on you a lot more."
"Aw, shucks," the tiny engineer giggled, feeling her cheeks heat up.
With the fight taken care of, the group thus split into their teams and went about their respective searches. As most of the group explored that new area the card guards unintentionally uncovered for them, Sora, Jimmy, and Goddard went to the far end of the forest and entered a new way forward, with the Boy Genius recognizing it being the way blocked by that boulder from before. When they went through, they found themselves in a garden with a long table covered in a pink cloth. Nearby was a humble cottage with two floors, with a straw roof and a stone chimney popping out. Hanging above were a few lit lanterns. On the tablecloth, flattened in the surface, were teacups, plates, and teapots aplenty, and the table was surrounded by chairs, three on each side and one large one at the head. At the end of the table, there appeared to be a portrait of two peculiar individuals, crying in sadness.
On the left was a human, wearing an oversized green hat with a label reading '10/6', more than likely its size, with tufts of gray hair behind his ears and no doubt rounding the back of his head. He wore a brown coat with white cuffs around the neck, a big, light blue bowtie, a dark green undershirt with two buttons, pants that were a lighter green, a pair of light blue socks, and dark green dress shoes that bordered on black. He also had a bulbous nose on his face and a pair of buck teeth.
On the right was an anthropomorphic hare. Possessing brown fur along with a tuft of yellow hair on his head in which his ears popped out from, he also had a big nose colored maroon and a larger pair of buck teeth than his friend, not to mention two whiskers on each side of his muzzle. His outfit was much like the Hatters in terms of design, but the coat was red, the bowtie was orange, the undershirt was a darker red, and the pants and shoes were a dark brown. Both no doubt would be a jolly pair, but the two looked just so sad in their portrait.
"Well, the Cheshire Cat was right on one thing." Sora noted. "This place is pretty deserted."
"Considering the Heartless around here, I doubt it's going to be like this for long." Jimmy told the keybearer. "But there also doesn't seem to be any sign of Alice or Lydia here either."
But before the citizen of Retroville could mention searching elsewhere, he and Sora heard Goddard bark as he was making the motions of reaching for something on the flat wall near the portrait. Looking up, they saw that there was a sheet of paper hanging there, words written in blue. Seemed that whoever was running this deserted party, more than likely the two people in the portrait, had made something for anyone who came in. Jimmy and Sora went over to the note and the Boy Genius took the sheet into his hands.
"'A very merry unbirthday,'" Jimmy read. "'Sit down to get your present.'"
"What's an 'unbirthday'?" Sora asked.
"Oh, that's explained in the book." His smart friend answered. "Just as we have a birthday on a single day every year, there are 364 unbirthdays every other day to compensate. So, theoretically, you could say that it's all our unbirthdays today. Seems the Mad Hatter and March Hare, the pair in the portrait here, were celebrating theirs before something happened. More than likely the work of the Heartless again."
"Wait, it's our unbirthday?" Sora rubbed his chin before turning to Goddard, Jimmy and Gadget. "Have a very merry unbirthday you guys!"
"Merry unbirthday to you, too!" Gadget beamed while Goddard barked, panting happily afterwards.
Just then, the portrait changed, surprising the pair. Both the Mad Hatter and the March Hare were jumping for joy, looking happy to find out that it was their unbirthdays.
"Hey, Jimmy, you think these guys were trapped in the portrait here?" The islander wondered, tilting his head at the portrait.
"Knowing Wonderland, just about anything is possible." Jimmy rubbed his chin. "Perhaps if we figure out a way to set them free, they could tell us if they saw anything."
"Oh, so we just try getting all the presents to get them out?" Sora figured out, then smiled. "Sign me up for getting cool gifts, then!"
"Dibs on any tools!" Gadget joked.
"Please, guys, we need to test the theory," Jimmy told them patiently, making the two look a bit ashamed of their jokes.
With that, Sora got on the chair at the far end of the table at the left side, a brown chair with orange cushioning. Jimmy sat next to him in a wooden chair painted pink with a long reaching back. Goddard sat across from his Master on the right side in a brown chair with pink cushioning. Suddenly, one of the tea pops emerged from the table and opened its cap, making the three feel a lovely sense of recovery… right before the chairs fell back and comically made them tumble out before sitting right back up. Then a bunch of health balls, along with a ball containing an item, suddenly appeared out of thin air. Sora didn't complain and so quickly went to grab everything while Jimmy grunted and rubbed his head.
"Of course they couldn't stand to make getting a present a bit gentler…" the young scientist muttered.
"Well, that certainly worked out!" Sora was glad to have gotten another potion. "C'mon, Jimmy! Let's try the others!"
"For the sake of my cranium, please let the presents be few…" Jimmy prayed.
"You're telling me…" Gadget was dazed in Sora's hair.
So, the three got to sitting in the other chairs, further getting more presents after getting tumbled out of their seats. By then, they had another pair of potions, an ether, and even an elixir. Not to mention more munny to work with once they made their way back to Traverse Town. However, all that remained was just the chair at the head of the table, a chair completely covered in pink cushioning and clearly the best-looking one. With no other chair to sit in, and with Jimmy and Goddard sitting in the chairs closest to it, Sora himself got onto the pink chair and awaited the last present. From the table, a large cake suddenly popped up then exploded into dark smoke! Of course, the trio tumbled back as per their expectations, but then the table and chairs disappeared as well! When they got up, a pair of Soldiers and a pair of Red Nocturnes appeared!
…Honestly, with this surprise, Sora and Jimmy felt silly for getting worried there. They easily took out the Heartless, and sure enough, the table and chairs popped back into existence. And not just them, the entire table was covered with actual plates and teapots and teacups! Not to mention the portrait was starting to sparkle and shine. Then, popping out of the portrait, both the Mad Hatter and the March Hare hopped out, laughing and cheering all the way even as they got in their seats and already started pouring each other cups of tea.
"Oh, I must say, what a wonderful party that was!" The Mad Hatter laughed. "Now with those creatures gone, we can have our unbirthday parties in peace!"
"And it's all thanks to you, friends!" The March Hare told the trio, offering a cup of tea that just conjured itself into existence as he poured the tea out, with even two cubes of sugar. "Please, as a reward, you must join us! You must have a cup of tea!"
"Oh, it's no problem, really." Sora went to politely refuse. "But actually, we're in quite a rush. You wouldn't happen to have se–"
"A rush, at this time?" The March Hare quickly popped up next to Sora. "Oh, that won't do, that won't do at all! We insist, you must sit down for a cup!"
And with that, both the Hare and the Hatter sat Sora, Jimmy, and Goddard down at the table, each with their own cup of tea. Seemed that this world's shenanigans weren't going to let them off so easily.
"Listen, we're glad to have helped you out," Jimmy tried to explain, holding his cup of tea, "but we're also trying to find some people. One's a blonde girl named Alice, and–"
"A blonde girl? Oh, we know about her!" The Mad Hatter interrupted. "Now there was a mad guest if there ever was one! Just came into our unbirthday party unannounced, even! Very, very rude, indeed!"
"Very, very, very rude, indeed…" They could hear a tired voice coming from somewhere, but the trio had no idea where it was coming from.
"Okay, so you know her, good." Jimmy noted with a nod of his head. "Recently, she was taken by this woman with green skin, and–"
"Green? Oh, what a splendid color, green!" The Mad Hatter again cut him off, laughing most jovially.
"There's quite a lot of green to be seen!" March Hare agreed, gesturing to all the plant-life around them.
"But have you seen green on a person?" Sora asked.
"Why goodness, yes!" The one with the large hat answered, pouring three cups of tea at once with a teapot with three spouts. "There was Bill, the chimney sweep. Last we heard, he was making his rounds near the White Rabbit's house."
"Haven't seen him since, though." The brown hare said. "Half a cup, if you don't mind!"
The Mad Hatter poured his friend a literal half cup of tea cut perfectly vertically, and somehow it didn't spill. Jimmy knew better than to question Wonderland's peculiar ways by now.
"But have you seen a woman who is green?" Jimmy asked, figuring being more direct would help.
"Hm… a woman who is green?" The Mad Hatter tapped his hat in thought. "Well, that's news to me. What say you, Hare?"
"Can't say I've seen a green woman either." The March Hare had one ear scratching his hair tuft. "And we've been in that portrait the entire time!"
"Well darn… So she didn't pass through here then…" Sora was disappointed to hear that.
"Then all that's left for us to do is try the upside-down room the Cheshire Cat mentioned." Jimmy spoke.
"Cat?!" Suddenly, a mouse popped out from a yellow teapot with a shriek and wide eyes. "CAT?!"
And thus, Jimmy's mention of the feline sparked a chain of events that he was pretty certain wasn't in the book. An anthropomorphic dormouse that was also wearing a suit similar to the Hatter and Hare, but the coat was magenta, the bowtie was pink, and the undershirt and shoes were purple. Leaping out of the teapot, the dormouse began shrieking 'cat' as he ran in a panic along the table. The March Hare and Mad Hatter both quickly gave chase, scattering teapots and cups everywhere in a bid to catch him. Managing to grab him by the tail, the pair quickly restrained the dormouse and went to put him back in the pot.
"The jam! Get the jam!" The March Hare told the pair of humans. "Put it on his nose!"
Sora, acting quickly, indeed got the jam, put it on a knife, and gently placed it on the mouse's nose. It seemed to have a calming effect on the poor thing and he soon fell back to a state of tired consciousness, slipping back into the teapot with hardly any fuss. With the situation resolved, the Mad Hatter and March Hare fixed their attires.
"My goodness!" The Mad Hatter said. "Those are the things that upset me!"
"See all the trouble you started?" The March Hare asked their pair of guests sternly, pouring tea into a cup between his ears and having them 'snip' together like scissors when he finished.
"Apologies, I didn't realize that would set him off." Jimmy apologized. "But anyhow, we're really overstaying our welcome, so–"
"Clean cup! Clean up!" The Mad Hatter suddenly popped up next to Jimmy and took him by the arm. "Move down, move down, move down!"
"Hey, wait, but we only just–!" Sora tried to speak up, but he was being pushed along by the March Hare.
"Move down, move down, move down!" Said hare, well, said before all of them finally got to sit again.
"Now, my friends, as you were saying?" The Hatter asked, as though nothing happened.
Jimmy could tell that they were never going to find Alice if they kept being stuck in this mad tea party. It was just like dealing with those Tweedles earlier. It was also at this point that he did not envy Alice throughout the entire book. A world of nonsense was bound to drive anyone with common sense off the wall. Not to mention it seemed that even his trying to work around Wonderland's logic was not being of much help recently. So, how to politely escape? Think, think, think…!
"Why, we were saying…" Jimmy made a show of talking before checking his Spotted Deck like it was a watch, and then exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! Where does the time go?"
"Go?" March Hare asked. "Go where?"
"I'm terribly sorry," Jimmy got out of his seat and helped Sora out of his, "but Sora and I have to get going or else we'd be very late! It was nice having this tea party with you, hopefully we'll do this again sometime, bye!"
"Wait, what are we late for–?" Sora was about to ask, but Jimmy kept pushing him towards the house.
"No time to talk, Sora! We gotta go!" Jimmy got Sora inside as Goddard followed them. "That very important thing we have to get to!"
"Have a safe trip!" The Mad Hatter called then. "We're having another unbirthday party tomorrow!"
"Wonderful! Gotta go! Bye!"
And with that, Jimmy had the door closed behind them. He let out a breath of relief before he and his two companions looked around at their surroundings. They definitely recognized this as the bizarre room… but they were on the ceiling! Nearby were the two lights meant to illuminate the room, but since it was already bright, there wasn't a real need to have them on, so it would be assumed. And of course, nearby was the Cheshire Cat, apparently waiting for them.
"They're hiding somewhere. And the mome raths outgrabe." The feline didn't sing the usual verse. "Want to find the shadows? Try turning on the light. But the strangers? Oh, they're already here. Quite in force, no less."
"Hey, what do you mean by strangers?" Sora went to ask, but the Cheshire Cat already vanished before he could finish. "Just what could he be talking about?"
"Unfortunately, I think I got an idea!" Jimmy exclaimed after looking around the corner. "And they just spotted us!"
Sora rushed out to see what Jimmy saw, and indeed he saw a bunch of the Heartless they encountered thus far. However, there were new enemies alongside them that he had not seen before. A bunch of gremlin-like troops wearing black leather armor with sharp teeth, yellow eyes with black pupils. They had thick eyebrows, pointed ears, and were about as tall as the Shadows. Upon seeing the new face, the creatures already started joining the Heartless on the attack.
Sure enough, Sora and Jimmy had a more difficult time fighting their enemies without their friends by their side. After all, Sora still had a rather limited pool of magic to use spells with and the most Jimmy could do was blast the enemies away with his Tornado Blaster. Goddard mainly contributed by firing eye lasers at the enemies and burning them away. This definitely worked wonders on the Heartless, though the other creatures seemed to have a resistance to that. Which also made them more susceptible to Sora's Keyblade which he basically bludgeoned them with. Eventually, the room was clear of enemies, and Sora wiped his brow, exhausted from the extra effort he had to put in. He also noticed that one of the Soldiers dropped a familiar key. With some measure of satisfaction, the teenager picked it up and placed it in his pocket. At least Spongebob would be happy they managed to get it back for the Doorknob.
"Oh wow… when we're not all together, these guys are actually pretty hard to deal with in droves." He mused. "Hey Jimmy, what were those things with the Heartless?"
"More of my fears are confirmed, unfortunately." Jimmy shook his head. "Those were the Syndicate grunts. No doubt man-made creations meant to make up the majority of their troops. For certain, there's a purpose to them being here in Wonderland and someone from Danny's world kidnapping Alice. All the more reason we have to rescue her as soon as we can."
"We'll have to turn on the lights for that, right?" Sora looked up to the lights nearby.
Without waiting for an answer, Sora made his way to one of the lamps and hopped up onto it. Using his Keyblade, he set the wick inside the glass alight, and sure enough the room grew a bit brighter. In fact, on the floor of the room, the plant in the corner extended itself and reached up high! But it was still too dim. So, Sora hopped to the other lamp and did the same with that. Sadly, nothing happened. Well, nothing except the Cheshire Cat appearing once more, and up against the lamp Sora previously lit up.
"All the lights are on. You'll see the shadows soon." The fickle feline told them. "They'll arise in this room, but somewhere else. The shadows might go after the doorknob, too. Maybe even that silent snatcher of yours."
"Silent snatcher? Ly–? Wait, don't leave!" Jimmy tried calling the cat before he disappeared… but it was no use. The cat had already left on his whim once again, causing the boy genius no short amount of grief, "Common sense and logic, how I miss you…" shaking his head tiredly, he turned to Sora, "Looks like we're nearing the end of our excursion into this world…"
"Hey! Sora! Jimmy! Over here!"
A familiar, cheery voice got their attention, and sure enough, on the wall depicting a painting of a shore halfway lit between night and day and with two other lit lamps, there was Goofy and Spongebob. Goofy seemed to be carrying quite a few treasure chests in his arms.
"We found some treasure chests while we were searching! Even some hidden back in the Queen's court!" Spongebob called over. "Some of them sound like they got puppies in them!"
Danny's voice called from the other side, with the group standing on the stone chimney's length like it was the floor. This time, Danny and Donald seemed to be holding chests while Timmy was busy waving.
"Though we might have found more items or even stuff for the ship." Timmy added.
"That's fine, guys. Any of that is still useful!" Jimmy told them. "But have you seen any sign of Lydia?"
"Nothin' so far, but–" Goofy was answering, but a squawk from Donald cut him off.
"Hey, there she is!" He dropped the chests he was holding to point towards the floor.
Everyone looked, and there they saw Lydia, holding a still struggling Alice, just floating over the table. She just looked up, seeing the heroes on the walls and ceiling, and then smirked. Clearly a challenge to the entire lot of them. A challenge they had no choice but to take if they had any hope of rescuing Alice.
"Everyone, regroup at the court!" Jimmy told everyone. "And quickly!"
"But what about all these chests?" Spongebob asked.
"We'll come back for them later! Right now, we don't have time to waste!"
Indeed, with no time to lose, everyone began rushing back towards the castle of the Queen of Hearts. As for the Card Guards who had found themselves returning, unfortunately, empty-handed, well, they had long since made it back there, sweating nervously. The Queen, growing steadily angrier the longer no results came up, appeared to be ready to do her usual shouting and the cards looked fearful for their inevitable beheading. However, she cut herself off when she saw the group of heroes rushing through her maze and roughly past her guards. Then of course she got mad at that instead.
"Halt, you! What's the meaning of this?!" The Queen demanded from them. "Have you come back empty-handed as well?"
"Sorry, your highness! No time to talk!" Danny replied as they went out through the maze. "Got a girl to save!"
"Why, my dear!" The King spoke as they watched the group head out. "You think this means they know where the defendant is?"
"Clearly so!" The Queen concurred, and so she shouted to her men, "WHAT ARE YOU LOUTS WAITING FOR?! AFTER THEM!"
Inwardly grateful to the boys for saving them from a potential execution, the Cards all obeyed and mobilized, running after them and going through all parts of the maze in their pursuit. The King and Queen, along with the White Rabbit, also joined in the pursuit. The Queen just gave the constant order to pursue while the King echoed them, speaking through his crown like it was a megaphone. The White Rabbit just blew his trumpet, giving out the marching tune. If Alice was going to be found, and a court trial to be officially finished, then all the stops had to be pulled.
As for our heroes, they finally made it back to the Bizarre Room, in its normal upright position, glaring up towards the table where Lydia was still holding Alice captive. The group already prepared themselves for a fight, but even they were a little surprised when they saw the Card Guards all moving past them and aiming their lances and axes in the ghost's direction. They watched as the Queen walked with grace past them before steeling her own glare at the tattooed specter and pointed her scepter at her.
"You, scoundrel, have been found in violation of Rule 47 and for flagrant disregard of the Queen's way!" The Queen of Hearts dictated to the ghost. "Have you anything to say before your sentence is carried out?"
Lydia only smirked in response, unfazed by the Queen's flaunting of authority. However, Alice's eyes seemed to widen in shock and fear as her captor's tattoos began to move….
"Then by my royal decree," the Queen of Hearts began to say her favorite line, "OFF WITH HER–!"
But then, the Queen of Hearts cut herself off and covered her mouth in suspense. Why? For the tattoos on Lydia's body suddenly flew off her being and came to life, emerging as an immense green tower of terror! Several monsters began flying out of that cyclone, such as demonic dogs, birds, octopi, bats, and plenty more strange and disturbing things. All sharing the same green coloration and red eyes as their master.
"Um… so I take it those are her powers?" Spongebob asked Danny with fear in his voice.
"Yeah, she can bring her tattoos to life and attack with them." The halfa confirmed, having seen this before. "And she's got plenty of them to spare."
"Erm, boys?" The King of Hearts spoke to them, sounding rather sheepish, "I don't suppose you could take care of these things for us, hm? Would you?"
"Don't worry, your majesty, we got this!" Sora gave him a thumbs up before readying his Keyblade and turning back towards the ghostly horde. "Alright guys, we'll just get through them and get Alice free!"
"Right!" Sora's companions agreed to that.
With the monarchs backing away, our heroes, joined by the Card Guards (though more out of their job and fear of losing their heads than anything else), began fighting against Lydia's living tattoos. The monsters shrieked and roared as they flew in on the attack. Danny, having the most experience with these creatures, had an easy time punching them and pelting them with ecto-blasts. The others, of course, had to wrestle with their own enemies a bit. Spongebob's karate combos barely did enough damage while Jimmy and Timmy's long-range attacks were mostly reliant on them having to aim their attacks so they could land good hits. Sora's combos did decent damage, and his and Donald's magic also did plenty of work against them when they landed. Goofy mainly just used his shield as defense while jumping into the air with his shield out to land an air attack.
Sadly, the Card Guards weren't that skilled against them as our heroes were. Predictable, really. What could they even do? Not like they were anything but a pack of cards. But to give them credit, at the very least they tried. Well, tried… before running in terror when confronted by a particularly large tattoo of a flaming skull that, ironically, got burned by a fireball.
Eventually, our heroes managed to push through the horde of tattoos and made their way up to the table's top. Tired from the battle, to be sure, but they still stood before Lydia and the captive Alice, ready to act on a moment's notice.
"Alright, Lydia!" Sora pointed his Keyblade at her. "No more running! Let Alice go!"
Lydia didn't respond, still silently smirking back… and winked at the Keyblade wielder, much to the islander's confusion. But then once more, Alice managed to get her mouth free, warning him as she pointed upward, "Sora! Watch out!"
Though Lydia again restrained Alice, Sora and his friends looked up to see a large Heartless suddenly drop down from the ceiling, landing on its arms before propelling itself up and landing on its feet behind the table and blocking the door! A bizarre Heartless with spindly legs resembling scissor jacks, arms that appeared and sounded like they're made of paper as they unfolded, and a head that was made of several segments balanced on top of each other. Each of these segments sported its own face — though all of the faces had the same glowing yellow eyes and jagged mouths — and they alternated in color from red to black. Its arms were black and it was juggling clubs with zig-zagging, purple and lavender stripes on them. It wore black armor with large, red shoulder pads, a black codpiece, and had a very thin and small red body. The upper halves of its legs were red, while their lower halves were black. Its feet were black, flat, and curled at the tips. Much of its upper body and head sported gold highlights.
"By Davey Jones' ghostly socks, it's humongous!" Spongebob yelped.
"Watch out guys!" Gadget could tell this one meant business. "Looks like this one's the ringleader behind all the Heartless around here!"
"What the heck is up with it?" Timmy asked. "Some kind of juggler or something?"
"Or… a Trickmaster." Danny figured. "Should've figured a peculiar Heartless would follow with both this world AND the Circus Gothica."
"T-There's only one way we can stand against this!" An Ace of Spades shouted to his fellow cards. "Everyone! You know your duties and the proper protocol! Get to it, soldiers!"
And with that, the Card Guards all nobly… ran away. The group could hear the Queen shouting at them to stand and fight, but they could also hear her running, too. Well, there went the heroes' backup. But that wasn't much of an issue. At least they could grow big and fight it–
"Guys! The growth drink!" Spongebob exclaimed, noticing the bottle was missing.
Everyone turned to Lydia, who held the bottle under one arm and Alice under the other.
"Oh come on!" Donald groaned at this. "Play fair, you green palooka!"
"So much for doing this the easy way…" Jimmy muttered. "Here it comes!"
The Trickmaster went on the attack, swinging its juggling clubs at them and making them jump off the table. Of course, that also led them to their first hurdle. Off the table, they could hardly attack the enemy's body since it towered over them all. They also had to avoid being sliced by the Trickmaster's absurdly sharp curled feet, much less stomped on. At the very least, Danny could fly and go for easy shots, right? Shockingly, no. The Trickmaster was somehow smart and skilled enough to use its juggling clubs to block the attacks while doing the act. Then actually hitting Danny and sending him flying into the wall!
Spongebob had the interesting idea of trying to climb up its peculiar legs in order to make his way up to the torso, but that mainly just succeeded in getting him squeezed like, well, a sponge whenever it walked. However, he did have the right idea, Sora figured. So, the Keybearer quickly went over to the chair, hopped onto the seat, then jumped onto the table before going for a running jump towards the Trickmaster and landing three hits on its faces. Somehow, that managed to stun the large Heartless and made it bend down, letting the others manage to get a great angle to lay out greater damage. However, even after a few hits, the Trickmaster snapped out of it and then stood right back up!
And it appeared to be aware of its sudden issue, so it went to the table, brought its clubs up, and smacked the table down so it was flat into the ground!
"Oh dear, this Heartless is smarter than it looks, boys!" Wanda warned.
"Yeah, and it already looks freaky enough as it is!" Cosmo concurred.
"If it's capable of taking out any advantage we have in reaching it to attack, what can we do?" Jiminy asked.
"I think I have an idea!" Jimmy Neutron snapped his fingers. "Timmy, Donald, with me! Onto the countertop! Everyone else, just keep trying to reach it! We'll signal you to lure it towards us when we're ready!"
"Whatever you have in mind, it better work!" The royal mage grumbled before following the boy genius and the average kid no one understood.
As our more melee-oriented heroes tried their best to dodge, our range users made their way to the countertop and jumped onto the surface, turning to face the monster as Jimmy had them raise their weapons up.
"Alright, everyone aim right at the Trickmaster," Jimmy instructed, "then on three, we fire all we got at it!"
"Got it, but we better hurry," Timmy said, watching the Trickmaster actually use the lit stove to light its clubs on fire, "it decided to add pyrotechnics to its routine!"
"How are our attacks even supposed to reach it from here?" Donald asked.
"Just wait for the others to get it in range!" The boy genius told the duck. Then to the others, he called, "Alright, bring it here!"
The melee-fighters nodded and gave a thumbs up in response. Danny, flying around the Trickmaster's faces, gave each of them a punch before flying away before the Heartless could smack him away. Looking slightly peeved, the Heartless stomped after him as well as the others on the ground. Jimmy, Timmy, and Donald aimed their weapons towards the Trickmaster, the mallard readying a Blizzard spell while the boys charged up wind and wish star power respectively.
"Okay, on my mark…" Jimmy had one eye closed as he carefully watched the distance between them and the Trickmaster close. "1… 2… 3!"
And with the distance closed, Jimmy let out a large gust of wind from his Tornado Blaster, Timmy fired a giant wish star from his Star Flinger, and Donald sent a Blizzard spell, all hitting the Trickmaster at the same time! With that intense impact, not only were the fires on the clubs put out, but the monster was stunned and ripe for clobbering, which was what the heroes took advantage of. And with greater fortune, the table rose back into the room, with Sora jumping up onto it to get another jump attack on the Heartless.
"Time to finish this off!" He called out, just about to swing the Keyblade…
But then a tower of green knocked him and the others away! The Trickmaster was completely enveloped in it, only its shadow being visible underneath all the green and red…. It was then everyone noticed Lydia was still in the room, floating in the air and holding a sinister smile on her face as more of her tattoos enveloped the giant Heartless. Then the tower of tattoo specters seemed to pull into itself, coating the Trickmaster and changing it into something else.
What was once red was replaced by green, the normal yellow eyes of the Heartless were now red, and the jagged mouths were open in a menacing manner. The gold highlights were now purple, and the clubs were now colored green and dark green before they suddenly ignited with green flames. The green parts also seemed to be covered in tattoos, proving that this was definitely Lydia's work. The black of its papery-arms also seemed to start turning green the closer they were to the body. Adding to the effect was that the room suddenly had a green tint, as the lamps also emitted green fire as well.
To add insult to injury, the tattooed ghost blew a kiss at them, though winked at Sora yet again.
"Did… she just change the Heartless?!" Sora exclaimed in shock, his lack of awareness making the female ghost frown.
"Can she even do that?" Goofy also asked in surprise.
"This is news to me!" Danny had just as much a clue as anyone else. "I have no idea how ghost powers would work on Heartless!"
"Look out!" Spongebob exclaimed. "I think it's even angrier and stronger than before!"
The newly transformed Trickmaster held one of its flaming clubs to its four faces, and all four of them took a breath. They blew, and a blaze of green flames came down towards our heroes! With a yipe, they quickly moved out of the way. But much to their shock, the Trickmaster appeared to have enough air in its nonexistent lungs to blow more fire. The fire even left trails, making matters worse!
"I know our lives are in danger," Goofy said as he held his shield over his face, "but how's it the fire isn't burnin' everything around here?"
"It's just how Wonderland works!" Jimmy answered. "Don't try to issue normal physics in a world entirely based on nonsense!"
"Like how maybe magic in other worlds doesn't need questioning?" Timmy asked with a raised brow and a cheeky smirk.
"That's totally different!" The boy genius snapped.
The Trickmaster then brought the other club to its faces. Our heroes thought it was going to send more fire streams, but instead it just sent consecutive, large green fireballs homed on their positions! They all tried finding cover as best they could, be it behind the chair, under the table or even just dodging barely out of the way. But they could feel the impact the fireballs had when they hit anything in their general vicinity. What Lydia had done to transform the Heartless had indeed given it a power boost.
However, getting back up onto the table, jumping and striking on the head didn't change the fact that its weak point was still the same as it was. However, the caveat was that it was not getting stunned like it was before. As a result, the Trickmaster was more than capable of countering more with its juggling clubs and nearly burning whoever came near. It even made clever use of its tall tower of a head and swung it down to send its attackers to the ground with a slam. What could possibly manage to take it down at this point?
It was then Spongebob himself got an idea so silly it just might work!
"Hey, Goofy!" Spongebob called over to the captain of the royal knights. "Do you think you can use that rocket move of yours several times at once?"
"Not sure!" Goofy replied. "I usually have to get into position after I land on the ground! Why?"
"Well, get ready to do it again! I'll be ready when you do!" The fry cook replied, running over.
Deciding to go with Spongebob's vague idea, Goofy ran over towards the Trickmaster then leapt up with a shot, hitting it with his shield. However, as he proceeded to fall down, Spongebob slid himself under Goofy, with the knight captain actually bouncing off of him and then hitting the Heartless with the shield again. He then proceeded to bounce on the sea-sponge again and again, hitting the Trickmaster with more shield bashes to the point of forcing the stronger Heartless back. Being unable to attack, it was left open to be attacked itself! Seeing this, Danny quickly grabbed Sora, flew up, then swung him over to the Trickmaster.
Sora readied himself to finish it off for real this time around. With the tip of his Keyblade turning blue, the islander reached the Trickmaster's faces, hit it with a 1-2-3 combo, and then shot a Blizzard spell right in their mouths! The resulting freezing then left the faces coated in ice, which shattered upon being hit with one more impact from Goofy's shield! The Heartless stumbled back, and even its papery arms began to shake and shiver. Its shoulders began to droop and its body began to quake.
The Trickmaster appeared to just struggle to even stay up. But when it tried standing tall… it froze. Then it just collapsed to the ground with a slam, its papery arms just flinging and dangling about as they slowly joined the floor with the rest of their body. A shining light emerged from the Heartless' chest, and sure enough a large heart flew out of it. Without the heart to sustain it, the Trickmaster, even in its powered-up state, began to dissipate until it disappeared completely, leaving only a small horn. Sora, curious at this, picked up the horn and placed it in his pocket. Could be useful.
"Ahyuk, that was actually fun!" Goofy beamed at the sponge.
"That is the magical power of teamwork, and my body being more malleable than I give it credit for," the Bikini Bottom resident beamed with pride.
With the enemy defeated, the group all took a breath of relief. But then they heard a familiar yawn and turned to see the Doorknob stirring. It was amazing how all that fighting barely caused it to wake.
"What a racket." The Doorknob complained tiredly. "How's a doorknob to get any sleep?"
"Er, sorry, Mr. Doorknob sir," Spongebob tried to explain, "but we just had to– eh?"
Once the Doorknob began to yawn again, the group took a good look inside to see a light in the shape of a keyhole shining within. This intrigued the group. What did it mean? But just then, Sora's Keyblade began gathering stars similar to those of Timmy's wish stars, and began glowing at the tip once more. He gasped in surprise as the Keyblade just pushed itself forward, pulling his arm with it, and shot a beam of light into the Doorknob's mouth.
The group could hear the sound of a door locking as the light shone brightly for a moment, and then died down as the Doorknob finished yawning. When the moment passed, all anyone could do at that was just look on, stunned by what they had witnessed.
"What was that?" Donald asked.
"It sounded like something closed." Gadget said.
Then something popped out onto the floor before them, gleaming in the light. Jimmy, in his short time with them, recognized a gummi block when he saw one. However, beside it was another item. A peculiar shining gem.
"This gummi ain't like the others. No, sir." Goofy said, looking at the items as Jimmy picked them up. "No idea what the thing with it is, though."
"I'll hold onto these." Jimmy said. "Now, we just have to take care of Alice and–"
The group all shot up, realizing that they were forgetting something very important in the midst of their battle.
"Alice!" They all called out as they turned towards Lydia.
Sora rushed over to rescue Alice for sure. However, Lydia's tattoos swirled around her and her captive, preventing Sora from moving forward. Sora would never forget this moment. Lydia, smirking at him yet again. Alice, hoping that he would save her, tried to reach out to him. And, as Lydia and Alice vanished in her tattoos and turned invisible, how he was unable to do it.
"Darn it! She got away again!" Timmy cursed. "Now where'd she go?"
"...Nothing." Danny tested his breath, but it did not turn blue. "She's not around here."
"But she's gotta be!" Sora turned to Danny at that. "There's no way she could leave without help, right? So she's gotta still be here in Wonderland! We'll just have to search again. We can–"
"Splendid. You're quite the hero."
The Cheshire Cat had appeared again, right on the table. Yet as he gave his congratulations, something about receiving it felt rather hollow for the group.
"If you're looking for Alice, she's not here." The Cheshire Cat explained. "She's gone! Off with the shadows and strangers, into darkness."
And with that, the Cheshire Cat vanished once more. Sora, who tried hard to rescue Alice, looked down in defeat. The first world on his adventure with friends, and he had failed.
"No…" He spoke in a low, whispered voice.
"Aw, cheer up, Sora. I mean, it's not like she's gone-gone." Spongebob assured his friend. "Maybe we can find her in another world. That's how we're looking for your friends, too, remember?"
"We'll just have to go back to our gummi ship." Donald told him. "Our work here is finished."
"And it's not like we'll have an extensive amount of worlds to search." Jimmy also assured Sora. "I've already come up with a possible theory of where she might have gone. Seeing as Lydia is an enemy from Danny's world, it's more than likely Vlad Plasmius might have something in store for her for a reason we've yet to uncover. Once we manage to get my portable UPM fixed, we should be able to head over to Amity Park, search for Alice, AND stop Vlad from draining its ghost energy in one fell swoop."
"Yeah, you just gotta have faith. We'll find her, Sora." Goofy patted Sora on the shoulder.
Feeling better, Sora rubbed his nose and smiled at his friends. How lucky he was to have them by his side when he needed them. But then, hearing a surprised gasp from Timmy, Sora looked to his Keyblade and saw it suddenly glowing, the light changing shape. Once the light faded away, everyone was in awe at the Keyblade's new form. If not how familiar it looked.
Its general appearance was based on hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds, the four suits on playing cards. The shaft and handle of the Keyblade were directly connected and both were black with pink edges. The pommel was a diamond covered in a red and orange checkerboard pattern. The top of the guard was made of two clubs colored in a red and yellow checkerboard pattern, while the rest of the guard was a purple and red horseshoe-shape. The tip of the blade was a large, orange heart with a thin, red and yellow border. The teeth of the Keyblade were composed of a large, red spade. The keychain was very short, consisting of only two silver links, and its token was an Ace of Hearts card.
"Woah! It changed!" Sora exclaimed.
"Fascinating!" Jimmy exclaimed, looking over the Keyblade's new form. "So not only is the Keyblade capable of manipulating nanomachines to simulate the elements, it is also capable of changing form based on its experiences in the world it fought through!"
"Or it could be ma–" Donald began to comment flatly.
The group froze. They turned to see none other than the Queen of Hearts returning to approach them, flanked by her husband and the white rabbit, with all her Card Guards standing at attention.
"You're the ones who took care of the monster, did you not?" She asked. "Then surely you've taken care of the kidnapper as well! Now, where is Alice? Surely you rescued her, did you not?"
And just like that, Sora was back to looking down, disappointed. Not at anyone around him. But with himself.
"...I'm sorry." Sora answered. "But we weren't able to. She's been taken away somewhere beyond here."
"So you're telling me, that after everything you've done," the Queen of Hearts' characteristic temper of course revealed itself at that, "from interfering with my court, to standing against me, to even revealing the kidnapper AND defeating the strongest shadow here, you failed to get back one single girl?!"
Sora winced. Way to rub salt in the wound.
"Then I have seen enough!" The Queen began to shout once more. "OFFFFFFFF WITH HIS–!"
"W-Wait, wait just a minute dear!" The King of Hearts quickly cut her off, but this time, she wasn't happy he did.
"Oh NOW what?!" She shouted at him.
The King, for once, calmly cleared his throat and walked over towards Sora. He went to point out his face… but promptly saw that he was a bit too short to do so. With that, he sheepishly cleared his throat and gestured for someone to help him out with this one. Goofy, being surprisingly intuitive, did just that and picked the King of Hearts up so he was level with Sora's face.
"Come now, dear, look at him." The King of Hearts spoke to his wife as he put his own scepter under Sora's chin. "He's clearly sad that he wasn't able to get her back. Perhaps it would be too much to just behead him right now. Why don't we just give him another chance to get her back? After all, it seems like they might know where she might have been taken."
The Queen considered her husband's points. All too often, he could very easily give out points that she could hardly argue with. And all too often, she was persuaded by him as well, even if he always deferred to her in the end. But then again… well, he was her cute little husband with a magnificent mind underneath.
"Well…" She was coming around.
"Please, dear?" The King pleaded. "Just one more chance for the boy? He wants to bring her back, just as we do."
In the end, the Queen gave a hefty sigh. Indeed, there was just no arguing with the King when he wanted something.
"Ohhhhhh… Very well. One more chance." The Queen relented.
Being set down gently, the King of Hearts clapped his hands as he went back to his wife's side. But of course, she wasn't done.
"You, boy." The Queen said to Sora. "What is your name?"
"It's Sora, ma'am." He spoke softly. "I–"
"Look up." She cut him off. "Speak nicely. AND DON'T TWIDDLE YOUR FINGERS!"
Almost on reflex, Sora ended up standing at attention.
"Turn out your toes," she told him next, watching him do so, "bow, open your mouth a little wider, and always say, 'YYYYYYYYES, your majesty'!"
"YYYYYYYES, your majesty!" Sora did just as she asked, even as some of his friends stifled chuckles at this. But that chuckling didn't last.
"THAT GOES FOR THE REST OF YOU!"
"YYYYYYYES, your majesty!" Sora's friends thus did the same at her prompting, not wanting to get her temper further riled..
"That's more like it." The Queen nodded at this. "Now, thanks to my husband, you all have been given one more chance in order to find Alice and bring her back so we can conclude the trial in full. But that's it. Just this one single, final chance. If you so much as fail this, then no buts about it, your heads WILL come off! Is that perfectly clear?"
"YYYYYYYES, your majesty!" Our group of heroes all said at once.
The Queen nodded with a humph and so turned around, making her way back to the castle with her entourage in tow. Well, almost all of them. Trailing behind were the King of Hearts and the white rabbit, who looked back to them and gave nods of assurance. Once that was done, they followed suit and went out of sight. The heroes all then relaxed themselves and slumped.
"Okay… So does anything else need resolving?" Danny asked, figuring they could just leave this world and call it a day.
"Well, one more thing…" Sora remembered.
Sora thus walked over to the Doorknob, who yawned and stirred as he ended being awakened from all the commotion.
"I swear, our queen can certainly be loud…" He muttered before noticing Sora. "Er, yes? Is there anything you need?"
"Actually, there's something I think you need." Sora picked something out of his pocket and showed it to the Doorknob.
"Why, I'll be darned!" He recognized his key. "You got my key back! Good show! Thank you so much! It really doesn't pay to be a robbed doorknob, you know? How else would the rabbit come in and out? Although… how'd it get so small?"
"Huh?" Sora blinked, noting how easily he held the key in his hand. "Oh, right. Er… Give us a minute."
So, after a few adjustments with the growth drink - which Lydia dropped after seeing the Trickmaster's defeat -, and after getting all those chests they had gathered before, Sora placed the key back on the table, and the group all bid farewell to the Doorknob before making their way back towards the entrance they came in. Though Sora may have not rescued the girl like he expected he would, there was no denying that if his friends were by his side, there would still be a chance he could do better and he would save Alice for certain. After all, this was only his first real world on his adventure. And more were sure to follow.
…Of course, had they stayed a little longer, they would have been an audience to a fellow falling into the room through the chimney, coming out all covered in soot and coughing as he tried dusting himself off. An anthropomorphic green lizard wearing the attire of an old-time chimney sweep, no less.
After hacking and coughing a few times, not to mention a few futile attempts at cleaning his face, the lizard looked to the Doorknob and asked, "So, er… has the monster been driven out yet?"
"Ugggggggh, this SUCKS, man…"
Wakka was not having a great few days. Where to start? Woke up drowning in the ocean somewhere; he had no idea how he got in the water when he was at his house. He's suddenly caught in some freaky machine. Finds himself the prisoner of some small one-eyed freak and his computer wife. And it turns out he's in another world that's apparently underwater. Nope. This was NOT a good few days for Wakka.
Some people just didn't appreciate just how much effort and time it took to get his hair like he often does to do it. No respect at all.
Well, at the very least he had his blitzball. What? Who didn't take their blitzball to bed?
"Just who does that tiny stub think he is?" Wakka muttered as he was busy just hitting the wall with the blitzball and then catching it when it bounced off. "'Overrated sport'. Feh! Shows what he knows!"
"What IS Blitzball?"
"Ah, someone interested?" Wakka chuckled as he kept at it. "It's the best sport ever, yah! And only for the most intense of players! See, you just gotta hold your breath the entire time you play since it's mostly done under the water. Then you and your team just gotta make sure the blitzball gets into the other team's goal."
"So, like soccer?"
"Wha– no, totally not like soccer! You can use your hands for it."
"So, similar to football."
"No, not like football! You swim in it!"
"Ah, so, water polo then."
Finally, Wakka decided to see who was not getting what Blitzball was. He saw, in another cell near his own, an anthropomorphic lobster that just towered over him. Built like a bodybuilder, wearing blue swimming trunks, and having an incredibly strong physique. His shell was red and his underbelly, along with the rest of him, was a lighter red. His eyes were yellow with black pupils.
"...Wow, you are huge, man." Wakka blinked.
"Yeah, I know." The lobster chuckled with pride as he flexed a muscle. "I work out a lot. Need to when you're a lifeguard out on the beach, y'know? Not that it did any good lately."
"Some one-eyed stub got you in here, too?" The islander asked.
"Not just me." The lobster shook his head. "A whole lot of other people here in Bikini Bottom. All because we clearly didn't accept him as our ruler. We all remember what he did last time."
Wakka had to stifle a chortle. Bikini Bottom? Really? That's what this odd place was called?
"Anyway, the name's Larry. Larry the Lobster." The lobster, Larry, introduced himself. "How about you, stranger?"
"Name's Wakka, man." Wakka returned the favor. "Human. Destiny Islands native, born and raised."
"So you're from the surface, huh?" Larry figured. "You wouldn't happen to know anyone named Sandy Cheeks?"
"That because they sit their butt on the beach or something?"
Larry chuckled at the response, but then answered, "Nah, and if she heard you say that, she'd probably hit ya good with a chop. She's a squirrel from a place called Texas. So far, she's one of the only few people around here that wasn't captured."
"So she might be leadin' a resistance outside?" The human figured. "Would be nice if we had one storming in or something right now."
"Yeah, same here, bud." Larry said. "I mean, who knows what Plankton's troops have been doing to the juice bar at Goo Lagoon! And that's not getting into the other guys he's got working with him."
"Other guys?" Wakka asked.
"Oh, nasty people. They've been around here for years for that matter, but even though our superheroes have gotten old, it seems that they're still fit and able…" The lobster explained.
"Wait, you guys got superheroes?" That one, Wakka definitely caught.
"Oh yeah, they used to be retired, but they came out of it for some reason. Probably still felt like they could be good superheroes." The lobster explained. "Hey, why don't I tell you about 'em? Could pass the time since we're stuck here."
"Totally, man. What're their names?" Wakka sat down.
"Okay, so, their names are Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy…"