Notes: Okay, in addition to the Birth by Sleep trailer, this chapter will also show several other things that you may or may not have been wondering about…like what the heck has Xamic (you know, that seemingly invincible nobody that beat the crap outta' Yen Sid?) been up to…anyway, this disclaimer is going to be VERY special…

Rogue: Okay the votes are in and…a lot of you think that I was going to use the apprentice to resurrect Nihlus…well, you'll be finding that out in this chapter, that said, I have two VERY special guests for the disclaimer…the GHOST of Nihlus and Xehanort's apprentice…(or XA for short)

Ghost of Nihlus: Rogue, you bastard!

XA: (walks in, holding a shadow heartless like a teddy bear)

Ghost of Nihlus: You son of a bitch! You basically killed Shadow, turned Ven emo, and made Aqua…well…ARGH! (Shaking in rage) Besides, you even put HIM (points to XA, who waves back) up here with me!

Rogue: Sheesh, dying isn't THAT bad is it?

Ghost of Nihlus: You have no idea…(crosses arms)…if you mess things up and make this end sadly….I'll kill you…somehow…

Rogue: Uh huh, sure…now, with that said, XA, would you kindly do the disclaimer for me?

XA: (holds up a piece of paper that says "Rogue owns only his own characters and places…so no suing!")


Monica groaned a bit to herself as she slowly regained consciousness, bits and pieces of her memories of both the past and recent events began to surface. As she first opened her eyes, she felt sluggish; a dull pain afflicted her head where the apprentice had hit it. Abruptly she jerked up at the thought of the boy who had knocked her out. His fighting style was chillingly familiar, especially when he was duel-wielding his keyblade and the piece of wood.

"Monica, you're alright!" the blonde turned her head to see Sora and Kairi walking up to the bed on which she was laying. "That's great, the doctor said that it was going to take awhile for Roxas and Namine to recover…," Just from across her, the two nobodies were laying in their beds, both unconscious.

"Sora, Kairi, Xehanort's apprentice is…," Monica looked around the room, noticing for the first time that her leather armor had been removed, leaving her in her shorts and black T-shirt. "Wait, where's Riku?"

Sora and Kairi exchanged looks before Kairi spoke up. "He…hasn't been taking the loss of his keyblade very well…I think he's just mad about not being able to fight anymore…anyway, what about Xehanort's apprentice?" Monica was just about to reply, but caught herself. Granted, the guy's fighting style, especially the duel wielding, was almost identical to a certain silver-headed militia commander's…

"Um…nothing…never mind…," Inwardly, Monica kicked herself. As much as she hated keeping facts hidden from Sora and Kairi, there was no guarantee that the apprentice was Lloyd…while he had developed his own style of fighting; it was possible that the apprentice was just someone who happened to be taught to fight in a similar manner. Lloyd always was rather orthodox in his approach to just about everything…a lot of his moves and techniques were learned out of books…

"Anyway…," Monica said as she slung her legs over the side of the bed in preparation to get up and out of it. "I'm going to check on Mr. emo pants…I'll just leave you two lovebirds alone…," Monica smirked in satisfaction at the shade or red Sora and Kairi's faces turned. They were so easy to tease and embarrass. In one quick, practiced movement, Monica strapped her rilfe across her back and spun around, leaving both Sora and Kairi somewhat immobilized by embarrassment. Even though they had finally admitted their feelings, they were STILL embarrassed by people teasing them…something that Monica had no qualms about taking advantage of.

It took Monica less than a minute to spot Riku; there were only so many places in the town where an overly prideful emo boy could run off to brood. He was sitting on the roof overlooking the square that was normally used for training. The golden haired girl smirked to herself as she silently climbed up to the roof, something she was able to do with ease given the unique style or architecture that the entire town had. Besides, moving quickly and quietly was in her genes…it was a trait she inherited from her mother. Riku seemed too busy angrily staring at his hand to notice that his "stalker", as he had dubbed Monica despite her arguing over the true definition of the word, was silently approaching him from behind.

"…Gotcha'!" Monica whispered into his ear, causing Riku to stiffen up instantly as she plopped down next to him.

"…You didn't startle me…," Riku didn't even bother to look at Monica as he simply stared down at the training square below. "I knew you were there…,"

"Sure you did…," Monica replied with a smirk as she slowly swung her legs in a kicking motion as they dangled off the side of the building. "So…what exactly's getting you emo this time?" Riku turned to look at Monica with a piercing glare.

"I could have stopped Xehanort then and there if you didn't stop me!" Monica sighed and shook her head.

"Uh huh, I have no doubt that you could have beaten the guy who defeated both Roxas and Namine without your keyblade…I'm sure everything would have worked out if I just let you charge the bastard!" Riku glared at Monica for several more seconds before he grunted and sullenly rested his chin on his hands as he continued to stare downward. He knew that Monica was right, but his pride wouldn't allow him to admit it…especially to her! Monica studied Riku as he continued to silently pout about having to stay on the sidelines for once. Sighing, Monica got up, eliciting a surprised look from Riku. "Do me a favor and don't go anywhere…I'll be right back, okay?" Riku nodded suspiciously in reply. Monica grinned a bit as she spun around and jumped down from the side of the building, landing on one of the many pieces of metal that stuck out.

Again, she jumped down and began to run towards the barracks-like building that she lived in. It was a fairly simple place, though it had multiple medium sized rooms. Walking into hers, Monica looked about, taking in the familiar scent of her room. It was piled with numerous bits and pieces of all manner of futuristic weapons and what appeared to be medical items. Looking around quickly, Monica gathered up several grenades that would knock even Riku on his ass and have him begging for mercy, and then some medical items known as "stimulants" due to the fact that they accelerated the healing processes of the body by varying degrees depending on the quality of the stimulant. She put all of these in the numerous pockets that were on her pants, before she walked over to her bed, knelt down, and reached underneath it, pulling out a large cardboard box. Monica actually took a deep breath, as if she was hesitant to do what she was about to do. Still, she quietly opened the box and, almost reverently, lifted out a futuristic machine gun that would be able to be held with one hand.

It was much like her rifle, completely made of a shiny silver metal that didn't look like anything that came from this world, the main difference being that this machine gun had no bayonet installed on it. Whoever had used it hadn't at some point decided that having a melee capability was necessary. Either they were very fast, had someone blocking anyone from getting close enough to hit them, or the user of the machine gun had been somewhat cocky…perhaps the answer was all of the above? Regardless, Monica took another deep breath and then turned around; sprinting towards the building that Riku was sitting on. Instead of climbing up the building again, she simply walked into the training square below it, right in the middle of Riku's view.

"Hey, Riky, get down here! There's something I want to show you!" The silver haired keyblade master grunted irritably, but he nevertheless did as Monica asked.

"What do you want?" Monica smirked as Riku easily jumped straight down from the roof. She had to admit, it was kind of impressive….for an emo boy! He really could have used a bit of finesse!

"Simple, I want to snap you out of that emo mood of yours!" A hint of a scowl began to creep across Riku's face as he crossed his arms. It was bad enough that Monica constantly made cracks about his attitude and the slightly absurd length of his hair, but right now, he REALLY wasn't in the mood to put up with her.

"Now then, you're mad because you don't think you can fight without your keyblade and you want to protect Sora and Kairi, right?" Monica smirked as she saw Riku's eyes widen a bit in surprise even as he somehow managed to keep his face neutral despite a slight twitch in his facial muscles. He was good…but she was better! "Well, I'm going to teach you how to fight with a real weapon and not an over-sized key…if I'm right, then Sora and Kairi are a little…busy right now and probably aren't going to want to be interrupted, which means it's just the two of us." Monica smirked and elbowed Riku in a "you know what I mean?" manner. Judging from his face and the look in his eyes, Riku was trying to figure out whether she was elbowing him like that in regards to Sora and Kairi, or he and her being alone…probably Sora and Kairi.

"Right then, here you go, Riky," Monica offered him the machine gun, which he warily took. "Now, be very careful with that…it's a VERY powerful weapon...and it... belonged to my mother….,"


"So, there's absolutely nothing in there about something called "the Dormin"?" king Mickey asked in disbelief as he sat in front of Ansem's computer., the one on Radiant Garden.

"I'm afraid not," the voice belonging to the former security program known as "Tron" replied. "I'm guessing that neither he nor Xehanort knew anything about this "Dormin" thing, or they just didn't put it into this computer…there are a number of possibilities, but the fact is that I can't find any files on anything even remotely like what you described was in that crystal that Terra found." Mickey sighed and held his head in his hands as he sat in the chair that Leon had moved in front of the terminal out of convenience and consideration for the mouse-king. Mickey, for better or worse, was not the kind of person to sit idly by, and yet, there seemed to be nothing that he could do.

"Well, I do have some good news, your majesty…," Tron said in an attempt to be cheerful. Mickey looked up at the computer as the screen began to show a profile of some kind. "I know it's not much, but I did find something that may help with your investigation of the man who defeated master Yen Sid…," Almost immediately, Mickey practically fell on top of the keyboard in an attempt to look at what Tron had posted, ignoring the program's protests about his maltreatment of the computer.

Hypothetical Historical profile entry #1, by Chief of Research and Lord of Radiant Garden, Ansem.

At last, one of the archeology digs uncovered a number of what appear to be ancient historical records. When they were first laid before me, I wasn't sure what to think. At first I was ready to dismiss them as mere myth, until I noticed that several of the record's information regarding the placement of a number of ruins was accurate. I'm still unsure of what to think…the archaeologists found them in a hidden chamber in a ruin; it was as if someone was trying to hide the records for some reason. But why would someone want to hide the past? And if the makers of the record were indeed trying to hide these records, why did they not just destroy them? None of this makes since, but the most bizarre thing that I discovered upon close examination was that the record was the man who it focused on…

I've made this profile of him from what I could gather from the records, but it may not be entirely accurate…the records are at least a thousand years old!

Name: Caim "The One-Eyed Man" (no record of a last name)

Date of birth and death: unknown

Personality assessment: The records describe this "Caim" as some kind of horrible and unstoppable sociopath that was capable of single handedly slaughtering entire armies. For some reason, at least according to the records, he was trying to do something that was both terrible and deemed to be "unholy". Yet, at the same time, part of the record seemed scratched out and rewritten, though this part was ill-preserved and unreadable. In short, it seems safe to say that this "Caim" was a monster, a seemingly un-killable mass murderer of unprecedented proportions.

Biography: Again, the records seemed blatantly focused on the atrocities this man committed. Still, I was able to discern one fact; supposedly, Caim was a prince of a country and was brought up as a normal child. The records say that his parents died when he was a small boy, but the part that tells HOW they died was scratched out due to erosion. I'm not sure what to think at this point, the records are made in such a way that they portray this "Caim" as a senselessly evil maniac, a common occurrence when one side wins a war. One hypothesis is that this "Caim" was a war hero for his country, but it lost the war and he was branded as a war criminal for his role in the war. Still, the fact that the records seem to focus solely on him and whatever it was he tried to do seem to contradict this.

The records are clearly trying to say that the man was trying to do something terrible…but what? Regardless, I plan to just store this in the computer for now, I can gain no more information from these old records and the possibility of other worlds is more important at the moment…

Still, I don't recognize the style of writing on these records…if my current hypothesis about other worlds is correct, then could these be from another world? But then, if they truly are from another world, then what happened to it? Could whatever this "Caim" have been trying to do be connected with how these records seemed to float between the corridors of darkness (as of yet, the only known way to travel off world…though, there may not be any other worlds to travel to)?

End of Hypothetical History entry #1

Mickey sat back in his chair, prompting Tron to mutter mutinously about the damage Micky had done to the keyboard by sitting on it. The title "The One Eyed Man", as the records seem to dub him, seemed fairly appropriate as the man seemed to keep his hair in such a way that it covered one of his eyes, presumably because it must have been blinded somehow. Still, this "Ansem report" did little to help. It only confirmed something Mickey already knew, that Caim was a bastard sociopath!

Suddenly, a loud siren began to sound throughout the entire castle. "Tron, what's going on?!" There was a click and a whir as the computer screen changed to show a scene that nearly made Mickey's heart stop. The security footage from what the mouse-king assumed to be a camera set up to help bolster the security showed a dark door, and out of it strode Caim, "the one eyed man", as the Ansem report had dubbed him. Caim, known as Xamic to a certain trio of nobodies, seemed to look around as the dark door behind him disappeared. He completely ignored the civilians that were now screaming and running away, to them anything and anyone that came through a dark door was trouble. Caim turned his back to the camer and preceded to walk down the streets, towards a certain old wizard's house-turned restoration committee base.

"He's in the same area that Leon and Yuffie were patrolling a few minutes ago, scanning him now…," before Caim could walk out of the camera's view, a small icon locked onto him to indicate that Tron was analyzing him for any kind of weakness.

"Tron, what's the scanner say about his power level?"

"IT'S OVER NINE THOUSAND!" Mickey felt his eyes widen as he nearly fell out of his chair. While he wasn't familiar with how Tron's scanner worked, or what his power level was on it, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that Caim's level of strength must have been insane. Without a word, the mouse summoned his keyblade and jumped out of the chair, literally hitting the ground running.

"Wait!" Tron called out in vain, Mickey was already out of earshot to be stopped. "Ugh, users…so illogical!" the computer program complained to himself as rescanned Caim from a different camera to see if he had had a malfunction or something.

"…His power level really is over nine thousand…but how's that possible…he can't be a normal human…"


Xehanort sighed a bit to himself as he heard the sounds of his apprentice playing around in the former Organization thirteen member, known as Lexaeus's, room. While the spell that ensured that the boy would obey him without question was necessary, there were times like these that the heartless found himself wishing he could just remove it, regardless of how violent the apprentice would become. Granted, the boy hadn't exactly been in the best condition when he found him literally stumbling around the realm of darkness. It was strange how the heartless hadn't tried to attack him, there were only so many possible explanations for that. Either he had only been there for a very short time, his heart was aligned to darkness already, or because he had no heart to lose…

A loud crash suddenly rang out from "The Silent Hero's" room, causing Xehanort to loudly groan to himself in frustration. While it would only take a few minutes for his wounds to heal, thanks to the advantage of being right next to the realm of darkness, his apprentice was making it seem like hours. Walking into the room, the old heartless saw that, in the course of whatever it was the apprentice had been doing, the nobody's room had been virtually torn apart by various forms of magic…wait, magic?! Xehanort hadn't taught the boy any kind of magic, he didn't seem intelligent enough to learn it!

He quickly spotted the dark soldier lying amongst a heaped pile of what was once Lexaeus's possessions, including a chair that the apprentice had apparently been try to spin around in, or something like that, thus explaining how the crash occurred. The apprentice, however, held a book in his hands that he seemed to be trying to read. "Wait, did you do this?!" The apprentice's head jerked up as he dropped he book and literally jumped to attention at Xehanort's presence, apparently he had been t wrapped up in whatever it was he was doing to notice his master's presence. Xehanort couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at this; his apprentice was acting almost completely like a heartless, that is, child-like and driven almost solely by emotion and instinct.

"What book were you reading?" he asked with mild suspicion as he motioned to the book that his apprentice still held in his hand. Despite himself, Xehanort couldn't help but feel a measure of concern for his apprentice…inwardly, he prayed that the book the apprentice had found in a grown man's private room wasn't a "man's magazine", or something like one…

His apprentice seemed hesitant for a moment, and instead of speaking, he simply handed the book to Xehanort. Curious, the heartless began to glance through it, a wicked smile began to creep across his face as he did so. The book was more or less a summary of all of Lexaeus's earth manipulating techniques. "I don't suppose you found some other books like this one and read them, did you?" The apprentice's head nodded up and down eagerly as he spun around and dug through the pile of junk he had accidently made. "No, don't worry about…this one alone will be just fine…," As Xehanort read through just how to manipulate the earth itself, he smirked. Using earth spells was impractical for the most part, even if they were amongst the most powerful, since they took almost unholy amounts of magical energy to use…energy which Xehanort had in abundance thanks to the power his keyblade had given him.

That combined with the fact that the apprentice had apparently learned to cast thunder and lightning magic (judging from the kind damage inflicted onto the room) would make it ridiculously easy to defeat anyone who tried to stop him from turning Kingdom Heart (or, more accurately, the Kingdom Hearts Organization thirteen made) to darkness…the three keyblade masters were helpless without their keyblades, and the artificial ones and their wielders, while formidable, simply weren't in Sora, Riku, and Kairi's league…


Ven took a deep breath underneath his helmet, for he was fully clad in his suit of chaser armor, as he walked towards the agreed spot where he, Aqua, and Terra would rendezvous after they finished scouting the area of the keyblade graveyard that they were in for any sign of Xehanort or his apprentice. As he gripped the Jester's Forte, Ven couldn't help but mentally berate himself for the way he had been acting ever since Nihlus's death. The sadness over losing one of your friends since as far back as you can remember was understandable to say the least, but the Roxas-look-alike still felt a wave of shame for his depression. He had always seen it as his job and duty to keep Aqua and Nihlus from sinking into the pits whenever something terrible happened…and he had failed miserably. Aqua was clearly worse off than even him, and he hadn't done a thing about it. Out of everyone, he was the one person who could have comforted in, and he had been too busy being "emo" to actually do anything.

Shaking his head as he gripped his keyblade, Ven mentally swore that he would find a way to make up for his failure…provided that he and Aqua survived this battle!

It was difficult to tell where you were in the keyblade graveyard, but there was one landmark that the trio had discovered that made it possible for them to split up…Sora, Kairi, and Riku's "dead" keyblades. As Ven approached the spot, he could see that Terra had already finished his patrol, and Aqua was approaching the spot as well.

"Ven, did you see any traces of him?" Terra asked as he turned to face the Roxas look-a-like.

"No…what about you and Aqua?" The two chasers shook their heads in reply. "Brilliant…," Ven sighed as he looked around, while the armor was great for combat, it could get very hot on the inside, and if your underwear somehow got stuck up your butt due to the tightness of the armor, then you were screwed! "So…can we use these keyblades?" Ven asked, motioning to Sora, Kairi, and Riku's.

Terra sadly shook his head in reply as Aqua looked up in curiosity. "No, you see-," he reached down and took up the Kingdom Key in his free hand while Aqua and Ven did the same with Kairi's keyblade and The Way to Dawn respectively. "Their keblades were destroyed, you and Aqua were only able to get yours because their wielders were killed, but the keyblades themselves were unharmed." Terra jammed Sora's keyblade back into the ground with a hint of frustration. "Besides, the chances of you getting chosen by another keyblade are extremely remote…artificial keyblades only choose someone else if their hearts are similar to whatever bit of their heart their previous wielder used to make them…,"

"Oh…," was all Ven said as he and Aqua put Kairi and Riku's keyblades back into place somewhat awkwardly. Suddenly Aqua's head jerked sideways as she seemed to spot something.

"He's here…," Terra and Ven looked in the same direction as their blue-haired comrade and saw an all too familiar silhouette moving about in a small dust storm. The dust storm seemed to fade away only a few seconds later as the three chasers just stood there, capes flapping in the wind as Xehanort walked toward them. Even the distance between him and Ven couldn't conceal the fact that he had a confidant smirk on his face. The apprentice suddenly materialized right next to his master in the same way he had before, through a "recall" spell that made it look as if Xehanort had created a double of himself for a brief instant.

Ven felt all the anger he had at Xehanort suddenly rise to the surface all at once. This guy had nearly killed Roxas and Namine AND ruined Nihlus's memorial service just so that he could gloat about how he was going to conquer the world or whatever it was the bastard wanted to do. And that wasn't all, Xehanort had also enslaved someone who was clearly innocent, the way the apprentice acted when he wasn't being ordered to kill was blatant proof of that! Ven tightly gripped his keyblade and was about to run forward to literally beat Xehanort to death when he was suddenly pulled back by Terra. Shocked Ven jerked his head sideways to get an explanation out of Terra, only to have the man run right by him, and towards Xehanort with his keyblade raised. Ven and Aqua exchanged looks from underneath their helmets as they ran to catch up with Terra. This wasn't like him, just blindly charging an enemy, it was the kind of thing that Nihlus might have done on a bad day, but Terra? The chaser was running far faster than both Aqua and Ven had thought he was capable of running, especially in the heavy armor he wore.

Xehanort and his apprentice just stopped where they were, and the old heartless simply raised his hand into the air, causing a huge rock cliff to emerge from underneath both him and his apprentice, lifting them out of harm's way and sending Terra flying back onto the ground when he was struck by the rising cliff.

More cliffs began to emerge behind Terra, causing both Aqua and Ven mild difficulty in reaching him. The brunette chaser wasn't even given time to get back on his feet as Xehanort's apprentice jumped off the still rising cliff, flinging large lightening spell down upon Terra as he fell. Instantly the chaser jerked up as his armor was lightly charged by the spell as bits and pieces of it literally peeled off. Still, the chaser seemed almost totally unfazed as he looked straight up at Xehanort, ignoring Aqua and Ven as they ran past him to subdue the apprentice. Without a word, Terra began to try to scale the cliff and get at Xehanort, he was even more hell-bent than Ven was…

Out of the corner of his eye, Ven could see what appeared to be, for lack of better words, a blade storm made of keyblades that were held together in a swarm by what seemed to be an immense wind spell conjured up by Xehanort. It was a blatant copy of what Nihlus had done right before he died, only he used heartless. Still, Ven had not time to reflect on this as he lunged for the apprentice. The dark soldier managed to dodge Ven's strike, and jumped back in order to regain the momentum that he had lost thanks to Ven's unexpected attack. Ven lunged forward once again, only to jump sideways at the last minute. The apprentice stood there, confused for a brief second before he narrowly managed to avoid being frozen by a blizzaga spell that Aqua launched from her keyblade.

The apprentice and Ven clashed once more as Aqua rushed forward to join them, only to stop and look over her shoulder. "Ven, look out!" The tornado of keyblades swept down to their level, allowing the apprentice to hop on top of it and ride it. Ven and Aqua ran for their lives as the tide had seemingly instantly turned. The apprentice rained his own blizzaga spells down upon the two before directing his keyblade mount downward and then hopping off of it as Ven was nearly swept up into the blades.

Still, Ven just barely managed to jump over the blade storm, landing on his side before he instantly recovered and jumped over another one of the apprentice's blizzaga spells, only to be sent flying backwards into the air by a slash from his keyblade.

Before the apprentice could do anything else, a huge arc of lightening nearly engulfed him, he was only able to escape by back flipping back onto the swarm of keyblades, but even then the lightening from a certain blue-haired mage's keyblade was literally right on his heels for a brief second before it receded.

Aqua scowled to herself when she saw that Xehanort's apprentice had managed to avoid her attack. He was undoubtedly a great fighter, but the apprentice couldn't defeat both her and Ven, even tying with them might cause him to use the power of darkness too much and then lose his heart. Aqua saw Ven recovering from his short brawl with the apprentice out of the corner of her eye as she focused all of her attention on the keyblade swarm, a wave of confusion and fear hitting her when she noticed that it seemed to be pursuing Terra now and that the apprentice no longer seemed to be on it…

Suddenly, the swarm lashed out at Terra, knocking him from the cliff he was traversing to reach Xehanort. Aqua watched in horror as the chaser struggled to stop his fall by quickly stabbing his keyblade into the side of the cliff. The rock came loose as Terra was battered and beaten from his fall; it broke off from the cliff, causing Terra to fall with it. Before Aqua could do anything to help, she felt a rumbling in the ground beneath her feet. She looked down in time to see the swarm of keyblades literally erupting from the ground beneath her, sweeping her up into the air. Luckily, she had been standing off to the side of the swarm rather in the middle of it, so only her helmet was shattered and knocked off by the blades as they flew upward, leaving her to fall to the ground from the great height they had dragged her to.

Aqua hit the ground with an audible groan; a rather large crater had formed from her landing. "Aqua!" The voice belonged to Ven, and he sounded far more concerned than any other time that Aqua could remember. She felt him sprint right next to her and then kneel down to make sure she was alright. Muttering darkly about Ven's lack of faith in her abilities, the blue-haired chaser forced herself up with her keyblade before she pointed it at Terra, who had been caught by the swarm of keyblades. "Reflega!"

A blue light shot from the tip of her keyblade, hitting Terra just on his chest and forming a large, honeycombed globe of light around him. The keyblades that were slashing and imprisoning the chaser were sent flying, but Aqua's shield was assaulted by the rest of the keyblade wave. The mage would have collapsed to her hands and knees if she wasn't already on them; the drain on her magic energy was staggering! "Ven…go!" Aqua rasped out as her eyes widened at the size of the resulting explosion when she couldn't maintain her spell any longer. Ven reluctantly looked back and forth between Aqua and Terra as he fell onto the cliff that Xehanort himself stood on, the chaser's armor was barely holding together and his cape was in shreds. He gave Aqua a quick pat on the shoulder before he dashed off towards the cliff, scaling it with far more grace and ease than Terra had. Meanwhile, Aqua stared after him with a confused expression on her face, since when did Ven act so concerned about her?

The Roxas look-alike reached the top of the cliff in time to see Terra gets knocked back by a blizzaga spell from Xehanort, he could feel fear rising up in his chest. Somehow, the old man had gotten more powerful…and he was pretty tough to begin with! Ven knew that he wouldn't be able to win…but Terra's left arm had just been frozen and he wasn't about to leave Terra to die. Silently thanking God for making Xehanort arrogant, Ven jumped toward the heartless, keyblade at the ready, as he taunted Terra by switching his keyblade from his right hand to his left, just to show that he didn't even need to fight at full strength to beat the chaser.

Ven flew through the air with a speed that surprised even him. In fact, he found himself wishing that Yuffie was there to watch just so that he could make a crack about an ancestor of his being a blonde ninja…of course, he knew that she wouldn't believe it! A blonde ninja? That was just stupid!

Ven swung his keyblade downward…and hit thin air. "What the-?!" He was suddenly jerked back as Xehanort literally vanished from his sight when he tried to strike the heartless, a strong hand gripped the back of his head, Ven almost totally immobile.

"Ven!" Terra's voice was panicked as he tried to struggle to his feet despite his numerous wounds and frozen arm. Xehanort had a look of pure hatred in his eyes as he began to squeeze on Ven's helmet, elicitng a yelp of pain from the chaser as his struggling became even more violent. 'My armor's getting slowly torn off by an old man in a teasing manner…never in the history of history has anything like this not ended badly!'

"I'm coming!" Terra was thrown off the cliff by the keyblade storm as the apprentice jumped from it and landed next to his master, who held the still-struggling Ven. Terra could do nothing as the countless keyblades cut through his already heavily damaged armor…

Aqua finally heaved herself to her feet as she could feel the flow of magic through once again. Physically, she was still weakened by being hit in the head by a swarm of keyblades ad the fall that happened shortly after. Taking deep breathes, Aqua turned her head towards the cliff to see how Ven and Terra were doing…the sight she saw made her blood run cold. Xehanort held Ven by the back of his head, and he was standing just off the edge of the cliff, as if he was planning to throw him off. Ven's struggling had turned desperate, in his thrashings part of his helmet fell off, exposing one of his blue now-blue eyes as he looked down at Aqua, her reflection in his eyes.

Ven suddenly stiffened as dark energy seemed to coarse through his body, causing him to spasm violently just before Xehanort finished his spell. Ven was frozen solid and then released to fall down the side of the immense cliff…

"VEN!" Aqua, on an adrenaline rush, summoned all of her strength and charged forward as Ven fell, his helmet being shattered against the rocks that stuck out form the cliff, followed by his keyblade…

Ven was literally inches away from the ground when Aqua managed to catch him in her arms, the act of doing so sent her flying backwards. At first everything around Aqua was a blur as she moved Ven into a slightly more comfortable position (for her anyway) and looked down. His face was frozen in silent horror, but he was alive. Ven's eyes moved slightly as they tried to focus on Aqua. "Ven, hang on I'll-," Aqua was interrupted when the entire area suddenly seemed to get brighter.

Aqua had been too busy fighting to notice that dark clouds had covered the sun of this world, if you could call the keyblade graveyard a world, but now a giant blue colored heart was illuminating the entire area as Aqua stared up at it. While it was a pale blue instead of a glorious gold, there was no mistaking Kingdom Hearts…or Xehanort's apprentice as he jumped down the cliff toward Aqua and Ven…

"Dammit…," Aqua muttered to herself as she dragged Ven behind her to protect him and tried to stand up. A small fire ball began to form on her keyblade as she struggled to both remain standing and form the fireball. Xehanort's apprentice slowly walked towards both her and Ven, his keyblade at the ready. Aqua took several deep breaths and shot the fireball at the apprentice, only to have her shot deflected by his keyblade. With no other option left, Aqua charged toward him with her keyblade raised over her head.

The apprentice easily parried her overhead strike with a counter that had been too complicated and "boring" for her to learn during her sparing sessions. Aqua's keyblade was nearly torn out of her grip and before she could react, the apprentice's left hand gripped the front of her face.

Dark energy charged into his hand and Aqua was literally sent flying through the air from the point-blank dark aura attack. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Aqua lay on the ground, pain rippling through her entire body. The apprentice ignored her, instead slowly approaching Ven and raising his keyblade over his head to slam it down on the frozen boy and finish him off. "NO!" Aqua yelled as she jerked forward and shot one last firaga spell at the apprentice before she collapsed back to the ground, panting from exhaustion.

Her spell struck the apprentice straight in the head, shattering his helmet and causing him to grip his head in apparent agony. Despite his apparent pain, Xehanort's apprentice remained as silent as ever as he slowly lowered his hands, revealing that his helmet was already halfway reformed. Aqua's eyes nearly fell out of her sockets as the face of Xehanort's apprentice was finally revealed. "N-nihlus?!"

Standing in front of Aqua was none other than Nihlus himself…even as the helmet once again regenerated to cover his face, there was no mistaking the blank expression on his face…it was as if he didn't even know who Aqua was…


'You can't win without me; Terra…let me lend you my power!'

"No!" Terra shook his head viciously from side to side as he rested on his hands and knees, unable to even move due to the injuries that he had suffered. The only good thing about be tortured by the keyblade swarm was that it shattered the ice that had been freezing his left arm in place.

'Xehanort will turn kingdom Heartsss to darkness, kill you, and then unleash whatever is spawned by Kingdom Hearts upon the worlds…everyone will die or become one with the darkness because of your arrogance!' Terra bared his teeth but said nothing. Sulhin was right, to a certain extent, but Terra wasn't about to let this…parasite of darkness get its claws into him! '…Ah…he just sent hisss apprentice to kill both Aqua and Ven…now how do you think that'sss going to turn out? There will be blood, oh yesss…and you will only have yourself to blame…'

Sulhin's insanity was beginning to show itself once more as Terra's resolve began to waver. 'I'll die if you die…a fascinating idea, isn't it? Light and dark dying together because one was too uppity and uncompromising to accept the other! Hahahah!' Terra would have growled at Sulhin's now-twisted sense of humor, but he just didn't have the energy to do so.

"…Fine…lend me your power…I'm only using it for my friends!" Sulhin was deathly quiet for several seconds, causing Terra to briefly wonder if the being of darkness was backing out of the agreement.

'That's exactly what Nihlus said when we were first joined with him…of course, a lot of other people started that way, but they were weak and corrupt, unlike him…let's find out what kind of person you are…,' As he reluctantly released Sulhin from being imprisoned in agony in his keyblade, Terra could feel him seeping into both his heart and mind. 'Oh my…so many sssecrets…now isn't THISSS sssomething that your "friendsss" would be interested to know? Ah, but who caresss about such thingsss? You can use my power…go ahead, let your emotionsss fill you once more…go crazy…but after your though, Hahahahah!'

Sulhin's laughter echoed in Terra's mind as he did what the being of darkness told him to. All his anger at Xehanort came rushing to the surface, along with his desire to protect both Aqua and Ven…to protect everyone…

Terra felt the darkness filling him as he tore off his helmet and looked towards Kingdom Hearts as his eyes turned from blue to an all too familiar gold. Terra's keyblade slowly turned black and began to sprout metallic red thorns and his armor too began to resemble Nihlus's, it was black, spiky, and had the heartless emblem on its chest. The chaser could feel himself being filled with power…and it felt good.

A smile began to creep across Terra's face as he fought down the urge to laugh. Was this how Nihlus felt whenever he went berserk? He felt an overwhelming rage at Xehanort, and yet it was difficult to stop himself from laughing with glee that the thought of what he could do know to the bastard heartless…

'I ssshall rip him, tear him, and devour him…he will be no more…,'

A pair of black, draconic wings suddenly erupted from Terra's back of their own accord; apparently this was Sulhin's way of helping…

Without a second thought, Terra soared into the air towards Xehanort, lusting for the closest thing the heartless had for blood.

'Make the maggot sssuffer, Tera, for me…make him sssuffer…once he isss dead, I own you…,'


Ok, one heck of a chapter, huh? Just so you know, this is the last time I ever even partially resurrect a character after they die since you guys partially saw what I had in mind coming. I wasn't lying when I said Nihlus died…it just depends on your definition of death! Oh, and I hope you like the reference humor I put to lighten things up a bit…several things are going to get explained in the next chapter (like why does Mickey have a different keyblade…I'll give you a hint, his idea of confronting Caim/Xamic wasn't a very good one)

Anyway, please review, I've been working on this one all day!