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I have what is probably an unhealthy degree of loyalty to the KH franchise. So here I am!

The Under ~ Mercy Dreams

Word Count: 1,144
Level 5 Ganondorf: 46/50
Exp: 2
NEW EXP Balance--- 48/50

More mind flayers, essentially the same as the ones that inhabited the cathedral up on the surface level. At least they looked that way to Ganondorf. It was all the same to him really. It just meant he already had a decent idea of how to take these squid-faces down. To that end he decided to forgo his twin blades for the time being. He recalled that these things fired soul rays as a ranged attack and decided it was better to use the Ikana Shield as a means to block those rays long enough for him to close the distance and put himself in striking range. Once this was done he cut down whatever mind flayers he could, utilizing the white sword in combination with his Ikana Shield.

When at last it seemed the mind flayers had been dealt with, Ganondorf sheathed the white sword and once again hung the shield up onto his back. When the Koopa Troop were beginning to make their way back into the area Ganondorf had entered from, he moved to follow them. But he stopped in his tracks when he heard something.


It sounded faint, barely audible. Ganondorf turned his focus back toward the deeper sections of the prison and practically had to strain himself to make out what he was hearing.


And without sending any kind of message or signal to the Koopas, the Gerudo King began to silently make his way deeper into the prison, rather than follow his allies. He kept listening intently for whatever it was that was calling. ”Master!” He would occasionally hear the faint cry, ”I am here, Master!” As Ganondorf ventured deeper into Mercy Dreams, he began to notice the calling voice becoming clearer bit by bit - a sign that meant he was going in the right direction.

Ganondorf found himself taking twists and turns in the prison. Occasionally he would encounter a mind flayer and have to defeat it. And each time he had to focus his senses and try to hear the voice again in order to once again pick up the trail. After a while the voice calling out to him became a bit more clear. Then, after taking a few more turns it became clearer and clearer with each step. That meant that Ganondorf had to be very close. Despite how much louder and clearer the voice got, at no point did it ever lose its distorted nature. Was this work of some kind of ghost or spirit? Ganondorf couldn’t say, but at this point he was curious enough to find out either way. Equally perplexing was how this voice seemed to know him, yet was completely unfamiliar to the Gerudo King.

At last, Ganondorf stood before the door of a cell. It was locked tight, and it didn’t look possible to break open either. Whether this was by architectural design or magical design, he didn’t know. But it seemed clear to him that whoever was calling out was beyond the door, so did that mean they were an inmate in this prison?

”Ah, my master, you are here.” Came the voice from beyond the door. What little view of the inside was obscured by shadow. It was impossible to make out any discernible figure within the cell, it seemed. ”I am your servant, of course.”

”Who are you?” Ganondorf demanded, ”You seem to know me, and yet I know nothing about you.”

”But I am your tool, your sword!” retorted the mysterious voice, ”How comes it then, that my own master does not recognize me?” There was almost a hint of lament in their tone. And then, ”Ah, what’s this? Where is your usual glorious aura, Master? Surely your power has not, dare I say it, waned?”

Ganondorf scowled despite not being face to face with whomever this is, ”You best think carefully about the next words you speak. I will not have my power questioned or challenged by a faceless wretch in a prison cell.”

”I dare not offend you, Master. Naturally.” the voice responded with assurance, ”Ah, that must be it. If both your memory and powers are not as I recall them… A great shame then that you have been reduced to this, a mere shadow of your true self.”

Ganondorf’s first instinct was to lash out and retaliate. But something they said managed to perk his ear, ”A ‘shadow’ you say?” Ganondorf glanced down at the Triforce that branded his right hand. It was indeed true that he had not yet reclaimed his full power. But this stranger seemed to be hinting at even greater power still, and that thoroughly intrigued him, ”Explain!”

”I’m afraid I can’t explain to you, for certain.” the strange voice admitted, ”But if my memory serves me, then this state you are in can only have resulted from your defeat.”

”Fool! I have suffered no defeat!” Ganondorf snapped back angrily. Clearly this wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear, ”If you know nothing then I won’t waste anymore of my time with you.” At this Ganondorf began to walk away from the cell door.

”Wait, Master!” the voice called out, ”Remember who you are! And you will surely find a way to restore what was taken from you!” but the voice received no reply from Ganondorf, who continued to walk away.

”Remember!” it echoed as it faded away.

”Hmph!” Ganondorf huffed as he continued walking, ”Defeated? I think not.” But as much as the Gerudo King denied it to himself, he couldn’t ignore what the voice had been telling him. His mind went to at least one major defeat he had suffered, Galeem. But surely that couldn’t be it! Ganondorf felt more or less as he was the day he stood against that would-be god. That strange voice seemed convinced that greater power still was sleeping somewhere deep down.

It was at that point that his mind recalled the shrine he had been in alongside Rubick. A place that seemed both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. A sensation that echoed in the voice he had been conversing with. Something about all of this made him uneasy, not that he would ever admit as such outloud. These shadows and echoes of places and people from his home world clearly seemed to hint at things that he himself had never been aware of. Just more of a mystery he would have to make a point of solving after the Galeem problem had been properly dealt with.

”Even if it is true,” Ganondorf told himself as he made his way to try and regroup with Koopa Troop, ”It just means that I have a lead on even greater power that I can claim for myself.”

The Under ~ Mercy Dreams

@Lugubrious Nadia Fortune | @DracoLunaris Bowser and Junior | @Zoey Boey Jesse Fadon | @Archmage MC Queen Sectonia

Word Count: 577
Level 5 Ganondorf: 45/50
Exp: 1
NEW EXP Balance--- 46/50

Now that he had a moment to get a better look at it, Ganondorf could see just how big the mess was that he and Jesse made in their descent back into The Under. The big heart was every bit as disgusting up close as it appeared from a distance. And it's destruction appeared to call or stir a bunch of disgusting creatures to scurry about in the darkness of The Under. He did ponder momentarily if this was going to cause any long term problems, but ultimately shrugged it off. if it didn't, all the better. And if it did? Well, he wasn't planning to stick around long enough to find out either way.

It was after he and Jesse had actually entered into Mercy Dreams itself that the Gerudo King heard a reply from Nadia. Everyone was scattered about, it seemed, searching for their target. She also asked him to keep a low profile. Low profile? The King of Evil? Those two things didn't exactly mix well, but at least Ganondorf had the advantage of being in a place that probably had no idea who he was, so there was that. Of course, moments after that was when he saw a mind flayer come crashing through the wall and sprawl onto the ground next his feet. And she wanted him to keep a low profile?

"You might want to tell that to the overgrown turtles." He said into his link pearl in response to Nadia, "They seem to be the ones making the lion's share of noise in this place." Then he disconnected his link pearl and shook his head in exasperation. But he was in no mood to start any trouble, and so when Bowser and Jr. greeted him he offered a shrug followed by a nod.

"We took a short detour to the surface to get here, but we're fine." Ganondorf said to Bowser. And then to Jr. he said, "So there's more of those mind flayers down here?" he asked, hinting at the troubles he and Jesse had just finished dealing with up above as he retrieved his twin great swords from their scabbards, "Oh very well, let's have us some chopped calamari then, shall we?"

He stepped forward to enter through the newly made wall in order to join up with the Koopa Troop. Before he went off actually start fighting anything he looked once more at Jesse, "Are you joining us as well?"

Before any more replies could be offered, Ganondorf heard Sectonia's voice over the link pearl. Something about a treasure being guarded by a horde. That did sound very tempting, but it looked like he was already stepping into whatever mess Bowser had started. Deciding not to completely disregard Sectonia, Ganondorf instead summoned a squad of moblin spearmen and instructed them to find Sectonia and back her up. The moblins immediately marched off to follow their orders after that.

"A few of my servants on their way." He said to Sectonia over the link pearl, "I'd come myself, but I need to clean up Bowser's mess first. You know how he is."
Above the Under - Wasteland of Buried Churches

Starring: Ganondorf (@Double)
Word Count: 2,668
Exp: 3

By now, it seemed to be late afternoon, with the shadows of early evening beginning to stretch as the sun grew low in the west. At this point, it had been days since any of the Seekers who ventured into the Chasm had seen the sun or the sky, and for Ganondorf, it had been far, far longer. In the depths of the earth it was impossible to measure night or day by the passage of celestial bodies above, so losing track of time was all too easy, allowing hours, days, weeks, even years to run together like rain in the Home of Tears. How long had it been since Ganondorf had felt the sun’s warmth? Or filled his lungs with fresh air? The air here was crisp, and a little thin. To anyone with worldly knowledge, it would be obvious that this desolate place lay at high altitude. Probably somewhere within the immense mountain range beneath which the Under existed. Around the new arrivals stretched a rugged, rocky, uneven wasteland, dotted by countless ruins of what were once glorious cathedrals and church spires. These formerly splendid edifices, erected in fervent reverence, had been laid to waste by some manner of seismic activity. Now only sad, cracked, hollow husks remained, many bowed over as if in silent penitence. No straight roads connected them, and the twisted trees that eked out a living here clutched at the unyielding heavens with leafless, finger-like branches in desperate prayer.

Click for music

And yet, something rather deific in appearance could be glimpsed on one of the lower peaks that ringed this ominous place. A huge, golden wheel, not unlike a giant coin emblazoned with a smiling face, hung in the air there. Even from this distance, a crowd of people could be seen gathered beneath it. Petitioners, maybe. They were not as much of a concern as the other wanderers in these wastes, if those wretches could even still be called people, and not shells possessed by inhuman zeal. These monsters included the Phalaris with javelins and bronze bull helmets, gruesome convicts wielding the same rocks with which they were stoned to death, beheaded shieldmaidens, and more. Most horrible were the guardainfantes, naked giants adorned with little girls in dresses, who carried as weapons the carcasses of deer.

The Gerudo King had to be careful. He could lose track of time from just standing here and drinking in the twilight skies and fresh, seemingly mountainous air. But they had somewhere they needed to be. Much as he wished he could take this opportunity to rid himself of the Under, that meant shying away from slaying the Guardian. He couldn’t do that, not if Ganondorf wanted to eventually take the fight to Galeem, anyway. Better to pick apart the being’s pets and followers in order to weaken and reduce his power before going in for the kill. If he remembered the black coated girl’s words correctly, then the Seekers needed to look for a place called Mercy Dreams. That probably meant looking for a route that leads back underground.

Ganondorf could spot a few landmarks dotting the area. They were mostly temples, or churches, probably in dilapidated ruin judging by the state of the nearest one he could see most clearly. But there was at least one that looked promising, a big one way off in the distance. Impossible to tell what state it was in from this far away, but at least it was a start. Ganondorf considered heading toward the giant golden wheel at first, thinking someone there could maybe provide information. But it was honestly hard to tell the difference between people and hostile monsters. And the last thing he was in the mood for was wading into what could be a horde of hostile enemies.

”There.” the Gerudo King said, pointing a finger in the direction of the largest cathedral looming in the distance, ”The smaller buildings are probably in ruin. And that one is big enough to be the most likely to have an entrance to the underground within it.” he reasoned. And after saying this, he took the lead and forged ahead. They had a ways to travel, and Ganondorf preferred not to be out in this rugged wasteland after dark. As such, he kept his conversations to a minimum in order to focus on keeping a good pace.

After they had gone a short distance, the Seekers found themselves accosted by two trios of stone-throwing Convicted. Jesse and Rubick were able to dispatch one trio easily enough. And as for the other one, Ganondorf needed only to summon his Moblin archers to shoot them down. So far so good, but Ganondorf wasn’t about to let himself become complicit. He had a feeling that was only the start, and things would get a little tougher the closer they got to their destination. At least that was always how it seemed to go, anyway. They continued and after a bit longer found themselves facing a headless woman wielding a sword and carrying a tall, massive tower shield that looked more like a giant slab of stone. But he stepped forward and drew his twin greatswords, prepared to deal with this enemy personally. The Shieldmaiden’s shield made it difficult to find an opening. But after trading a handful of attacks, Ganondorf parried one of her light slashes. He then crouched and spun himself into a leg sweep that managed to catch the creature by her legs. This sent her sprawling backward onto the ground, where she was also crushed under the weight of the heavy shield she had been wielding.

The next encounter some time later was against a pair of javelin wielding men with brass helmets shaped like ox heads. The Phalaris initially attacked by keeping their distance and throwing their javelins. But those were telegraphed and easily avoidable. Ganondorf drew his swords and charged forward, resulting in one of the Phalaris rolling out of the way while its compatriot had its head lopped off by a sweeping slash of the Gerudo King’s blades. Nearby, the moblins opened fire on the second Phalaris, distracting it long enough for Ganondorf to get close and impale it with both his swords, then he wound up a Warlock Punch and knocked the helmet and head of the enemy right off its shoulders. This was essentially how all battles went. Foes would approach, and Ganondorf would make short work of them usually with a hard hitting finisher. And those that he didn’t battle, were similarly dealt with by Jesse or Rubick.

As for the travel, Ganondorf was always trying to maintain a brisk pace. It was true that the Seekers were occasionally interrupted by attacking monsters, but overall they were able to make good enough time. And with the sun hanging low and just about gone, the Seekers would at least stand before the large cathedral they had been trekking toward.

”Hm, seems I was right about it being in ruins along with the rest of the buildings.” Ganondorf observed. The whole building looked aged and dilapidated. The stone brickwork looked grimy and cracked in places. And the mist that filled the area gave the place a feeling of dread and unwelcome. But the Gerudo King would not be deterred. He and Jesse had come this far, and there was no point in turning back now. There were a handful of staircases, some even leading downward into what Ganondorf assumed was the Under. But the last thing he needed was to pick the wrong route and end up in some place far away from his actual destination. And so this, he felt, wouldn’t be as simple as it seemed.

Not helping matters was the large numbers of… people - for lack of a better word - milling about around the cathedral. They looked so deathly and gaunt one would wonder if they could even be called people at all. But they didn’t appear to be the masters of this place. Instead, that role seemed to be fulfilled by other creatures. Men-like beings with octopus- or squid-like heads wrapped in what looked like robes made of tendrils or tentacles. They appeared to be the overseers, almost watching over the human-esque creatures like wardens lording over prisoners. And there was something else above all of that. Suspended by chains in one of the tall towers was a large… heart? It sort of resembled one, but it was difficult to say. But even from this distance, it was obviously a grotesque and disgusting thing to look at. Ganondorf could only imagine what someone like Sectonia would think when looking at it.

The chains the heart was suspended on looked like they connected to a series of mechanisms, the controls for which were probably scattered about in key locations, ”This gives me an idea…” Ganondorf mused to himself, then got to work. Since he wasn’t sure any of the staircases were a safe enough route to take, the Gerudo King would instead make a route of his own. And destroy that accursed-looking blight of a contraption while he was at it. And it wasn’t long before the denizens of this cathedral became aware of the intruding Seekers’ presence. When that happened the Prisoners set about to defend the area at the orders of their Mind Flayer masters. In fact several of the Prisoners started clumping together to form floating hordes with what looked like single glowing eyes that fired dangerous looking rays as a form of attack.

Ganondorf wasted no time, and immediately summoned both his Moblins and his Phantom Self as a means of bolstering his and Jesse’s numbers. The summoned minions went to work, with the Moblins managing to hold back approaching Prisoners while Phantom Ganon went to work against one of the Prisoner Hordes. Ganondorf himself soon became focused on engaging an approaching Mind Flayer, drawing his twin greatswords in preparation for battle. The Mind Flayer attempted to fire a soul ray that Ganondorf was able to side-step out of the way of. He then charged forward with his swords, but was caught by an unexpected electric attack that left the Gerudo King momentarily paralyzed. The Mind Flayer grabbed at Ganondorf with its tendrils, no doubt preparing some kind of deadly attack. But before it could execute that attack, tendrils became riddled with bullets fired from nearby. It was Jesse, using her Service Weapon to give Ganondorf enough time and cover fire to recover from the paralysis. And then the Gerudo King quickly impaled the Mind Flayer on both his blades before yanking them both out in a horizontal cross slash that left the creature dead on the ground, cleaved in two.

”My thanks.” said Ganondorf to Jesse, who was already turning her attention to providing cover fire elsewhere in the battle.

As for Ganondorf, he pressed forward, having and cleaving his way through swathes of Prisoners as he went. Eventually he came upon an old lever that he thought might be connected to that big heart. It was guarded by another Mind Flayer, but unlike the first time Ganondorf was now wary of the paralyzing electric attack and was able to avoid it this time around. Once he was in melee range, the Mind Flayer attempted a shockwave attack. This pushed Ganondorf back a few paces, but the towering Gerudo warrior would not be so easily overcome. He simply pushed forward using his immense strength and soon enough the Mind Flayer’s head was rolling on the floor. After that, he was able to force the level down. That caused a chain reaction in some of the chains, but it alone didn’t appear to get the job done, ”Then I guess I’ll just have to find another.”

Ganondorf fought his way down a corridor, this time having encountered many Prisoners and a single Prisoner Horde. The Prisoners may as well have been child’s play for him to deal with. But that Prisoner Horde kept firing its soul ray and preventing Ganondorf from finding an opening to approach it. So he enlisted some aid, and summoned one of his Strikers: Blast Hornet. The reploid took flight and used his aerial superiority to easily avoid the soul rays. He then came crashing down onto the Prisoner Horde with his Stringer Attack. It wasn’t a killshot, but it damaged the monster and kept its attention long enough for Ganondorf to come charging in with his swords. A few strokes later and the Prisoner Horde was reduced to a pile of bodies on the ground. Not long after Blast Hornet vanished, Ganondorf felt the rumble of mechanisms and could see some wavering in the chains suspending the big heart in the distance. Last he saw her, Jesse was providing cover for the Moblins. This was likely their doing, ”Good. Another one bites the dust, it seems.”

At last Ganondorf found another lever. It was guarded by two Prisoner Hordes and a Mind Flayer. Ganondorf was starting to grow tired of these games. He summoned Riptor and sent the dinosaur charging straight ahead. He then hurled his swords at the Prisoner Hordes before they could fire their soul rays. And Riptor herself was quite agile enough to dodge the single remaining ray that was fired by the Mind Flayer. Ganondorf himself was advancing immediately after, deciding that now was as good a time as any to unleash the Darkness he had been building up in his weapons. He leaped in the air and came crashing back to the ground with a Warlock Fist that unleashed an explosive wave that enveloped the two Prisoner Hordes and eviscerated them. Then he grabbed his swords and charged the Mind Flayer who was too distracted by Riptor to stop the Gerudo King from practically hacking it to pieces. Riptor vanished and Ganondorf then activated the lever.

Either that was enough or perhaps Jesse had pulled another lever elsewhere. Either way he looked up and Ganondorf could see the suspended chains giving way one after another. And in moments the big heart came crashing down from the tower. With a huge rumble and boom it impacted the ground and forcibly created a gaping pit that could serve as a suitable route back down into the Under. By this point there was too much chaos and the enemies in the area weren’t even trying to stop him. Instead many of the Prisoners were attempting to flee en masse, which would also keep the Mind Flayers busy.

Minutes later, Ganondorf was running toward the newly opened pit and made a giant leap right into it. He could even see Jesse doing the same from another angle. And while Jesse could use her levitation to slow her descent, Ganondorf had no such power. But he did have something else, and when he needed it the Phantom Familiar teleported directly to Ganondorf and he was able to grab hold of it from below it. As long he held on, the Phantom Familiar would glide him back down into the Under safely. And naturally Jesse was able to levitate herself down. And down they went. Further and further until they could no longer see any sign of the surface they had descended from. But soon they could spot it down below. From one prison, directly to another, the pair of Seekers eventually touched down and found themselves staring at the entrance to Mercy Dreams.

Ganondorf retrieved the linked pearl earring that he had been given by Primrose during their stay at Pizza Tower and he put it on his right ear. If he remembered right, he was supposed to squeeze the pearl to activate it, ”It’s Ganondorf and Jesse.” he said, sending a message to any of the Seekers who would be able to hear it, ”We were a bit detoured, but we made it to the Prison. Where is everyone?”

The Otherlobe

Word Count: 876
Level 7 Roxas: 25/70
Exp: 2
NEW EXP Balance--- 27/70

The face that appeared on all the monitors was completely unfamiliar to Roxas. Most of what he talked about was too. But he did say one word that stood out: Arahabaki. That was the place the Consul talked about during the aftermath of the debate. So all this traced back to the Guardian somehow? When the transmissions all ended Roxas just found himself plopped down on the floor and slumping against the nearest wall. Man, he sure was beat. If they had to fight anymore tonight then he wasn't sure he was gonna be able to be of any use to anyone. He was even too tired to talk, instead just leaving it up to Midna and Pit to put the pieces together about Arahabaki.

Nearby was Sakura, grilling Raz about what he knew about Zanotto. Once again Roxas was just too tired, his legs and feet were just too tired to get up. So instead he just leaned his head and rested it against the wall, closing his eyes. So much information to process. So many names, people, and places to mull over. And somewhere buried under all of it was the identity of whoever killed Zanotto. At least that was what Roxas had convinced himself. They had the pieces of the puzzle, they just needed to assemble it. Maybe. Probably. Ah, but Roxas was never exactly the puzzling type. Not really. That sort of thing was always handled by others around him. Well now none of them were here. And that meant he'd have to wrack his brain and figure this out himself.

"Tall, blonde, one eye red and one eye yellow. Black and red clothes, a Psych-OSF soldier. I swear I've seen him before, but I don't remember his name."

Roxas managed to overhear Raz's description, and... huh? Come to think of it, he too could swear he'd seen a guy like that before. But where? And why? Ugh, so much stuff had been happening the last few days it was so hard to keep track of it! Come on... think, Roxas! Think! The Nobody was squeezing his eyes shut trying to make himself remember.

"...ran away, turning invisible."

Roxas' eyes shot open, and he practically rocketed back up onto his tired feet, "That guy!" he suddenly shouted at the top of his lungs, no doubt getting everyone's attention. "I remember now! A few days ago, when our group first got here in Suoh. Me and Raz, we met a few members from Yuito and Lili's platoons at that Sumeragi Shrine - right before we freed Lili and the Others attacked. He was there too, even showed off his power to us!" Now the Nobody was desperately snapping his gloved fingers over and over. "But what was his name? Argh, come on!" Roxas tried to recall, feeling like the name was on the tip of his tongue.

His outburst got Luka's attention. While he'd been distracted by snippets of conversation with other Seekers, mostly Pit, he now furrowed his brow and bent his mind to the task of reiterating the description given by Roxas in his head. He also replayed his memories of that first day, right before he and Arashi rescued a few members of this very group from the press. After a moment, Luka's eyebrows rose suddenly. "Wait, Kagero?" He glanced down the street, back in the direction of Musubi's. "I don't know him very well, but his power is Invisibility, and he's in the area. Or at least, Tsugumi is, and they're never far apart. It must be him!" That begged the question, though, which Luka asked as he grimaced. "But why? What did he have against Zanotto?"

"Or whoever it was," Raz reminded everyone. He'd been in the same boat as Raz, not quite able to identify the killer based on the description so far. "If it's not Zanotto's spirit, then it wasn't really Zanotto, no matter what he looked like. I mean, that's how it works, right?"

"I don't know," Roxas admitted, "But it's the best lead we've got. The only one, really." Roxas was finally feeling a tiny bit renewed, like a small second wind. Or maybe it was more like his third or fourth one by this point? Well, either way, he was done being tired and mopey. It was time to actually get something done. And then something else dawned on him.

"We're... gonna have to split up again, aren't we?" Most likely no one wanted to make or hear that suggestion. But between reaching Arahabaki and pursuing Kagero, well, that was two different objectives that needed to be looked into. "Or I guess we'll have to table Kagero for the time being and focus on Arahabaki first." Well no matter what, at least they had a clear objective for once. It was starting to feel like those were in short supply over the last couple of days, so this was almost like a refreshing change of pace in a way.
The Under ~ Lightroot
Shrine of Light

Starring: Ganondorf (@Double) and Rubick (@Scarifar)
Word Count: 4,031
Exp +5

So here the Seekers stood, staring up at what could only be the lightroot. It was like a circle of massive tree roots that snaked their way upward in a vaguely dome-like shape. They also appeared to glow and give off their own natural light, especially in the center of the roots where the light was at its brightest. It also looked like there was some kind of lift at the center of it. Where it led to, Ganondorf couldn’t say. But if that direction was upward, then maybe this was a way to get closer to reaching the surface? Only one way to find out. Without waiting for any input from Rubick or Jesse, the Gerudo marched right into the brightness of the lightroot and boarded the lift. Rubick outstretched a hand as he hurriedly ran after Ganondorf. “Hold on, now, friend! Wait for me!” he said, barely making it into the lift with the Gerudo. The moment they did, the lift began to rise and take them into a blinding light.

When they could see properly again, the Seekers found themselves transported into… somewhere. It didn’t look at all familiar to Ganondorf. Whatever the place was, the stone tiles that made up the floors and walls were cut smoothly. Very smoothly. In fact it almost looked as smooth as granite or marble. They were also covered in seemingly unfamiliar markings. Ganondorf had to admit the markings sort of reminded him of Hyrule, but he couldn’t be sure. Perhaps this was some form of Hylian architecture from ancient times? Or maybe it wasn’t and the similarities were just a coincidence? Either way, Ganondorf supposed that it didn’t really matter. Up above them the ceiling appeared to glow with a soft, bluish white light. It also appeared to bear the unfamiliar markings on the floor.

Directly in front was a small set of steps leading into a larger room. At the bottom of the steps on either side were ornate pedestals containing glowing blue gemstones that floated directly above them. Similar pedestals could be seen in the corners of the larger room as well. For a place located in the darkness of the Under, this… shrine or whatever it was certainly seemed to be surprisingly steeped in light. Ganondorf could practically sense as much coming from deeper inside. This fact did not please the King of Evil, but it looked like he had no choice but to proceed for the time being.

As the Seekers made their way down the entrance steps, Ganondorf caught sight of an object sitting almost directly in the center of the first room of the shrine. It was a chest, one shaped almost perfectly cubical in shape. And right next to the chest there was a wooden sign that someone had apparently left behind a message on. It read: The pearls will take you where they fly. It was now that Ganondorf noticed that there did not appear to be any other exits from the room, except for where they had walked in from and a second one dead ahead that looked to be barred shut.

Rubick vaguely recognized the shape of the chests from his time in Limsa Lomiscuttle Town. They were often used to store the potions he brewed. Flicking his staff upward, Rubick opened the chest with his magic, revealing a cluster of green pearls, as advertised on the sign. He gingerly picked one up and examined it, wondering what secrets it held within its shiny, blocky exterior.

At first, Ganondorf tried to use his blades and sheer strength to break through the barred exit by force. But he quickly realized that wouldn’t be possible. The barred gate was protected by powerful Light magic, and even with the Triforce his own power was simply too steeped in Darkness to overcome it. Rubick felt a similar revulsion at the Light energy, the Silitha instincts in him urging him away from the gate as fast as possible. Clearly, they were going to have to play by the rules. And as much as that annoyed him, Ganondorf was just going to have to swallow his pride and accept it.

Ganondorf returned his attention to the chest and the sign next to it. What those words meant and how that was supposed to be of any help, he had no idea. But he did at least open the chest to see what was inside it. He found a handful of greenish pearls, five of them to be exact. Ganondorf assumed these were the pearls the sign referred to, but he had no idea how they were supposed to help. He read the sign again and noted the wording: where they fly. Well these certainly weren’t flying, unless… he was supposed to make them fly? Just as a test, Ganon palmed one of the pearls and threw it to the floor in front of him next to the barred exit. And Ganondorf was taken aback when he instantly teleported to the spot the pearl landed on. There was no sign of the pearl, so it must have vanished or shattered when it hit the ground. Still, the fact that these things apparently just teleported the thrower to wherever they were aimed at was quite the surprise.

And that was when the solution to this room became clear. Ganondorf took the remaining 4 pearls from the chest and approached the barred exit. Earlier he hadn’t noticed the gap between the top of the gate and the ceiling - primarily because the gap was too narrow for a person to squeeze through. But it was certainly large enough for one of these pearls to fit through. Ganondorf took aim and carefully threw a pearl through the narrow gap where it would be able to land on the opposite side. Instantly the Gerudo was teleported to the other side of the barred gate. And then the gate itself opened as if in reaction to the puzzle being solved.

Rubick had been too distracted by his own musings to notice, and by the time he looked up, Ganondorf had already thrown the second pearl. Only after seeing the Gerudo King teleport to the other side did Rubick finally fit the pieces of the puzzle in his mind. “Oh, goodness no!” Rubick cried out in frustration, throwing the Ender Pearl after Ganondorf. Reappearing on the other side of the gate next to him, his arms crossed, Rubick said, “To think I would act so slowly in a test of intelligence… my mind must be getting dull.

”We just came from a hard fought battle in the Hive.” Ganondorf offered in response, ”Could just be fatigue.” As he spoke, Ganondorf began making his way into what he assumed would be another room with a puzzle to solve. And that was exactly what it was, but not at all like anything the Gerudo King expected.

Unlike the first room which had been simple and modest in size and layout, this next room was much larger. There was also almost no floor to speak of, seemingly replaced instead by what could only be described as a bottomless pit. Instead there were platforms of various sizes and elevations that dotted the room. Some of these platforms were stationary, while others moved forward and backward, or left and right, and still others moved up and down vertically. On the far end was an opening that the Seekers could probably presume was the exit they needed to reach. But there was also a more ornate looking treasure chest situated on a small platform that looked difficult to reach and would almost certainly require the Seekers to go out of their way to claim. A similar ornate chest could be spotted just beyond the room’s exit. Nearby almost directly next to the room’s entrance was another chest, this one twice as large as the previous and containing yet more Ender Pearls. Must have been around a couple dozen more, in fact. The objective here was ostensibly the same as in the previous room.

”Great,” Ganondorf grunted with slight annoyance, ”more platforming.” He could never understand how people like the Mario Brothers could stand to do this sort of thing all the time. Personally, Ganondorf just found it to be tiresome. But if this room was anything like the previous, then it was a safe bet that any attempts to bypass the puzzle would probably be met with resistance thanks to the Shrine’s magic. And so with an irritated sigh, Ganondorf scooped up a handful of 10 Ender Pearls from the chest to add to the 3 he still carried from the previous room for a total of 13. Hopefully that would be enough.

Rubick took a couple full sets of 16 Ender Pearls, intent on securing the ornate chest that was away from the intended path. “I like to think of it as a challenge to my intellect. And I have no doubt we will be rewarded for our troubles,” Rubick said, casually tossing a pearl up into the air and catching it as it fell. It was a simple matter of calculating the correct timing of the moving platforms, the arc of the throw, and the margin of error for his hand-eye coordination. Sure, he could always just use his Blink Dagger or Weaver’s Warp to access the chest, but that would be boring. So he would proceed to throw the pearls, landing on platform after platform.

The platforming challenge, though dangerous due to the precarious nature of the floating platform, proved in the end to not be quite as daunting as it first appeared. With a bit of patience and observation, Ganondorf was able to realize that some of the moving platforms came within reasonable distances of one another, provided he was patient enough for the movement pattern to go just right. And so, while it was somewhat slow, the Gerudo King’s patience ultimately allowed him to reach the other side of the room with little incident. He did end up using the majority of his 13 Ender Pearls, but perhaps the next room wouldn’t be so reliant on them? He hoped so, by this time he had begun to notice a few aches and sores in his joints that appeared to be the result of using the Ender Pearls. If they were actually causing harm each time they were used, then he and Rubick would need to take care not to overdo it with them. He took a glance behind him to see how Rubick was faring.

Rubick teleported from platform to platform, casually tossing an Ender Pearl every time he did so. By now he had gotten the hang of using them, even to the point of throwing a Pearl as soon as he landed. It wasn’t long before he finally made it to the chest. “At last…” Rubick said, lifting the lid and claiming his prize.

Rubick held it up and examined it for a brief period of time, noting its effects. Then he stored it away in his robes. Its effects may prove to be useful. He then checked his supply of Ender Pearls, noting that he had used more than half of them to reach this treasure. Fortunately, he didn’t have to travel too far to reach the end, so Rubick wasn’t worried and knew he would make it back.

Seeing that the magus was clearly trying for the chest nestled out of the way, Ganondorf figured he was handling himself well enough and instead turned his attention to the ornate chest next to the barred door that had now opened as soon as Ganondorf reached this side of the room. He knelt down and opened the chest, then pocketed its contents.

”I think those pearls might be causing a side effect.” Ganondorf noted to Rubick once the pair of Seekers were making their way into what they hoped would be the final room, ”Did you start having any aches and pains as you made your way across the platforms too?”

Ah, so you too experienced it. But not to worry, for I’m already prepared to handle that sort of minor discomfort,” Rubick replied, lifting a foot to reveal his Tranquil Boots, glowing green with restorative energy. “As long as I have these, I will be fine,” Rubick reassured Ganondorf, putting his foot back down.

When the two Seekers finally entered the third room, they found this one to be quite different. Rather than a large bottomless pit, it instead was like a wide corridor featuring water rushing down it and into a chasm at the starting end of the room. This canal had platforms floating atop its surface at various distances from the canal’s walls that all eventually went careening into the seemingly bottomless chasm. And yet, the platforms never stopped floating down the canal, as if some invisible force was simply conjuring new ones to replace the previous ones. The corridor itself appeared to stretch for at least a couple hundred meters or so, at which point a barred wall blocked all passage save for the canal and the platforms floating atop. The wall left a narrow gap above the water’s surface, just large enough for the platforms to float beneath it, but that was it. And so even if the Seekers reached it they would have to use an Ender Pearl throw to get themselves to the other side. Beyond the barred wall, the canal continued for another couple hundred meters until there was finally the opposite side of the room along with the room’s exit and an ornate chest on the ground next to it.

Near the room’s entrance was yet another double chest containing several stacks of Ender Pearls. Ganondorf couldn’t help but groan a bit, ”So not only are we still doing platforms, but now we’ll have to race against the flow of a river that leads into a bottomless waterfall?” he asked somewhat incredulously as he peered down into the chasm that the waterfall fell into. But with a sigh he opened the double chest and pocketed two stacks of 16 Ender Pearls. Then he walked to the edge of the chasm, took aim, and threw a pearl at the surface of an approaching platform.

The challenge here was quite apparent. No longer could they just sit and wait for the platforms to move how you wanted them to like in the previous room. Now it was a race against the clock to either teleport their way down the canal to the room’s exit, or go tumbling down the waterfall to their doom. But when Ganondorf threw a Pearl and teleported to the next platform he was aiming for, another layer of the room’s challenge made its presence known. Ganondorf saw a humanoid shape seemingly appear out of nowhere within the water, and then watched as a green-skinned zombie with ragged clothes and covered in seaweed or algae grabbed onto the platform’s edge and pulled itself up. And it wasn’t alone. A second watery zombie climbed up onto the platform from the opposite side, except this one was wielding a green trident.

But if they expected the Gerudo King to panic, what they actually got was quite the opposite. Instead he just grinned a wicked smile, as if relieved that all he had to worry about was defeating enemies rather than something more complicated or puzzling. Ganondorf decided to put his newest treasure to use and brandished the silver and gold sickles he had acquired in the previous room. Dispatching these creatures was simple enough. They seemed rather straightforward and dull in their attack pattern. But their purpose in this room was clear: to make getting from platform to platform a slower process than it otherwise would be. Not that Ganondorf was worried, he’d gladly just cut down whatever foes tried to attack him as he progressed and pocketed whatever they dropped as result of being killed.

Well, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it were easy,” Rubick said, also replenishing his supply of Ender Pearls from the double chest. Rather than shirking away from the challenge, he relished it. He was about to join Ganondorf on a nearby platform when the Drowned emerged from the water’s surface and attacked. Rubick was surprised for a moment; clearly there was more to the challenge than it first appeared. Rubick quickly regained his composure and continued to progress through it. He would throw Pearl after Pearl onto the platforms, blasting away at the Drowned and looting what they dropped. Rubick laughed in delight; he felt it had been a while since he last received some entertaining mental stimulation, and he would be determined to spend every second of it wonderfully.

Ganondorf, on the other hand, was more eager to just get to the end of the room. So he tried to focus on throwing Pearls from platform to platform rather than let himself get distracted by the Drowned. This proved impossible at times, and he would occasionally be forced to fight off the abominations that managed to attack him before he could get away from a platform. As this happened every now and then, one of the Drowned dropped a green gemstone that he almost thought was a Rupee at first, but turned out to be emeralds upon closer inspection. Obviously he’d pocket those whenever they dropped along with anything else. He thought about taking their Spirits too, but decided against it because it seemed likely they’d just fade away before he could do anything useful with them. And then there was that barred wall at the halfway point. The Gerudo King knew he had to be quick there if he wanted to reach the other side without incident. He did, for the most part.

About five platforms and nearly ten more Drowned later, Ganondorf was finally - FINALLY - at the end of the canal. When he teleported off his last platform he breathed an exasperated sigh of relief. And he also muttered to himself that this had better be the final challenge. But still, the ornate chest awaited and so without any further ado, the Gerudo knelt and opened it.

He was not expecting a living creature to be in the chest. But then, was this flying creature even living at all? With its bony exo-skeleton and what appeared to be exposed muscle tissue it almost looked like it could be some form of undead. But more importantly, the creature didn’t appear to be hostile at all. The Phantom instead just slowly soared around Ganondorf in a gliding motion. Like some kind of pet falcon or the like.

Rubick popped into existence next to Ganondorf, the purple particles from the Ender Pearl coming off him. “Ah, I didn’t expect a companion to appear from the chest! How wonderful! Perhaps it can act as a Courier," Rubick said.

”Perhaps.” replied Ganondorf. But he could study this creature another time. For now he just wanted to get out of this blasted temple. And so the two Seekers exited the canal room and entered the next. And this room was yet again quite different. It wasn’t large, nor was it long or wide. Instead it was closer to medium-sized. And at its center, a pair of unfamiliar statues appeared to stand atop a circular pedestal on an elevated platform, flanked on both sides by stone pillars.

Rubick stared at the two statues, pondering their purpose. The history of the room didn’t concern him so much as the secrets it held, though. And where there’s secrets, there’s knowledge to gain. He chuckled, anticipating more challenges to test their mettle. After all, knowledge is power, and Rubick was keen to wrest it out of here and into his hands.

Ganondorf stared at the two statues for what felt like a very long time. They weren’t familiar to him at all, and yet… somehow they were familiar at the same time. The woman depicted was clearly a Hylian, confirming the Gerudo King’s suspicion that this Shrine was of Hylian origin. But the goat-like man? He didn’t look like any race or species Ganondorf had ever heard of. After that long moment of staring, Ganondorf finally spoke. ”Odd. I’m sure I’ve never seen these people before.” he said in reference to the statues, ”So why, then, do I get such a strong sense of deja vu from looking at them? There is no mistaking that this shrine originated from my world. The markings looked vaguely familiar to me and the woman is of a race of people that inhabit my world. But that alone doesn’t explain the striking sense of deja vu these statues give me.”

Hmm… this is likely the result of the nature of this world,” Rubick theorized. “Galeem has pulled people and resources from many worlds, each with varying degrees of development in many different fields. As a result, time and space aren’t as linear in this world as in ours. Perhaps these statues come from your world’s future, and you’ve simply yet to experience it.

Ganondorf offered no verbal response. But he did make a mental note to himself. When all of this was said and done, he was going to make a point of investigating these Shrines further. Whatever secret they held could prove to be of use to him once he was able to return to his own agenda.

Without warning. The ancient Hylian markings began to glow a soft green and even became projected in the air all around. As if the magic of the Shrine was gathering and coalescing into this room. Then suddenly, the glowing symbols quickly converged into an orb of golden light that was slowly drawn and absorbed into Ganondorf’s right hand - the one bearing the Triforce. The pillars then sank down a short way, as if activating some kind of pressure switch. Walls slotted down from above around the statues, obscuring them from view. And then the spot the two Seekers stood glowed with a greenish ring that circled them and then lifted them up in a way nearly identical to how they first entered the Shrine. They were lifted up into a bright light only to find themselves transported away.

The sudden increase in activity brought Rubick into high alert, and he readied his staff in anticipation. As it turned out, however, there was no need for alarm just yet. A platform simply lifted him and Ganondorf into the air, presumably to tackle whatever this place had in store for them. However, the Seekers would find themselves not in another room of the Shrine. Instead they discovered that this was in fact the end of the Shrine and that they had now successfully cleared it. As a result: Ganondorf, Rubick, and even Jesse - who did not enter the Shrine with them - were transported elsewhere by the Shrine's power.

The sight that now greeted the Seekers was the warm, orange glow of a setting sun… for they were now finding themselves on the surface once more.
Suoh - The Madness Inside

Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Roxas’ @Double, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Pit’s @Yankee, Luka, Yuito, Hanabi
Word Count: 4,419
Exp +5

While the Sectopod made its last stand, Sasha made a beeline for his partner. Given wings by his fear, he closed the distance in mere moments. One of the enemies that Milla had engaged, Roxas, was down for the count, but the other stood over her with something bright and pink in her hand. Milla herself was in dire straights, covered in electric burns and losing blood from horrendous claw marks on one shoulder. Sasha wasn’t one to give into his emotions, but in this instant all his panic and anger boiled straight to the surface. “You!” As Midna dumped something on her, the striped pattern in his hood blazed orange, alight with his ice-cold fury. “What have you done!?”

He unleashed a barrage of tracking psiblasts, but not to try and kill Midna just yet. Instead, these were meant to ward her off while he sprinted the final stretch. He could see that something had just happened to Milla, and her life was his number one priority. As he slid up to her on his knees and reached out to take hold of her, his anger turned to confusion. “What the…Milla! Are you okay?”

In his arms he held his partner just as she used to be. Milla’s skin, her hair, her clothes, and even her emerald green eyes were just as they were when they first found one another in this psychic dystopia. That included her health; somehow, she seemed to be in perfect physical condition. Next to her lay the spirits of Earthspirit and Bellina. “...Sasha?” she murmured, blinking blearily up at him as if she’d awoken from a bad dream. “What happened?”

“I wish I knew. You’ve been defused somehow.” He helped her into a sitting position, then gave Midna a guarded look. She’d gone from almost killing Milla to restoring her somehow, and she had yet to attack, so he hadn’t a clue what might happen next.

The princess for her part also looked guarded, but she had stepped back to give them space when Sasha had come running over, and she wasn’t priming to attack them either. She had also taken the liberty of poking the spirits that had popped out of the psychic with her stick in order to portal them away before doing so, thus ‘disarming’ her.

She’d also slid her mask down so they could see her face, and more specifically one of her eyes, so that Milla would be able to see the difference between her’s and Sasha’s ”I removed the glare Galeem put in your eyes, the one that prevented you from seeing that what it has created isn’t how things should be” she explained loosely, adding ”you’ll find you can remember what used to be now, where you really come from” and relying on the woman’s own memories to bring more context to her statements.

Nearby, Roxas had once again managed to push himself back up into a kneeling position, ”She’s telling the truth.” he said, to add to Midna’s explanation. He struggled his way back onto his feet and slowly moved to stand beside the Twilight Princess. His steps looked a bit uneven and forced. He hadn’t been healed from all the damage and he was still exhausted. So naturally he would be looking a bit haggard right now.

”I know it sounds unbelievable. But we swear it’s the truth. It’s the whole reason we came to this city in the first place.” Roxas then took a few more uneven steps forward, so that Midna and the two Psychonauts were the same distance from him. Then he weakly held his arm straight up and summoned one of his Keyblades, ”Heal!” his MP had come back and he used it to cast Curaga, which undid the remainder of the injuries he had sustained. But it didn’t affect just him. It also affected Midna… as well as Milla and Sasha. So whatever damage Sasha had taken would be mostly healed now. This was as good of a show of faith as Roxas could think of doing.

Sasha stayed quiet while the two spoke. He didn’t grasp every last thing they said, and he couldn’t, but he considered their words. How things should be…where you really come from. Was there something that had been kept secret from him? He remembered where he came from, from his childhood in Germany as a shoemaker’s son through countless adventures up to the recent crisis of Maligula’s revival. Then…Midgar and the Ever Crisis. A new psychic organization to face a new threat. Serving, protecting, growing more powerful to combat ever more dangerous enemies. And growing still closer to Milla. Was there something even now that he wasn’t remembering? He knew how things should be, too. As well as how far short Midgar fell. Things were bad everywhere in this city, even on the plates. In order to keep moving forward toward a brighter future, one small step at a time, hard choices had to be made. Now, though, Sasha felt less certain.

Before he sorted out his thoughts, Roxas cast a healing spell. Milla was in perfect condition, but the damage Pit and the others worked so hard to inflict on Sasha vanished. He scarcely realized how much he’d been aching until it all disappeared. After a moment he stood, helping Milla to her feet. They’d been through so much already. Fighting together. Changing together. But now, she really was just as perfect as he remembered, while he remained rather different. Still, however they might find themselves, they still had one another. After having come so close losing her, Sasha realized there was nothing more important to him. He turned to face the Seekers.

“I don’t know what to make of all this. Or what to believe. But Milla is alive, and we have you to thank. If you were really our enemies you could have struck her down, and my heart along with it, but you did not. Whatever the truth of your case may be, we owe you. If not our lives, then at least…an apology.” Sasha looked down at the ground. “Go. Don’t make us regret it.”

Milla flashed an apologetic smile at Midna. “I’m sorry, dear. I did see you take my spirits, though. It may not mean much to you, but I don’t have the power to fight Others on my own. I hate to ask more kindness of someone I fought in bad faith, but I’d appreciate them back…”

She was, Midna thought, well within her right to demand them as payment for damages caused to her minions, but ultimately she decided against that selfishness. She dropped her weapon into a portal, before crouching down and retrieving the spirits from another, before stepping forwards and offering them back to the women in an outstretched hand.

”Here, use them well”

The Septentrion took them with a grateful nod. It wasn’t clear whether or not she actually expected Midna to oblige her. “Thanks.”

Midna nodded as well in reply, before stepped back, and then actually had a moment to check the status of the others, asking ”We good to keep moving?” before portaling in some bottles of water. Fighting was, after all thirsty work.

By now, the rest of the team had arrived from the other side of the street, where the burning wreckage of the Sectopod lay in the fresh crater of asphalt caused by its climactic self-destruction. All were banged up, with Luka, Yuito, and Hanabi faring the worst thanks to their multiple downs at Sasha’s hands. Pit and Sakura seemed a little better, but not by much. Everyone was beat, but alive. Luka accepted water from Midna, which thankfully didn’t bear any traces of matter from the Twilight Realm, and the others did likewise. “We should hurry,” the diminutive captain told the others, despite the team’s collective condition. “Raz still hasn’t responded to me. Anything could have happened at the Otherlobe.”

“The Otherlobe?” Sasha’s brows furrowed. “It was under heavy attack, but the Others were pushed back. By now all the noncombat personnel should be fully evacuated.”

Luka nodded wearily. “Then it’s up to us to make sure. Let’s go.”

While the Septentrions went to regroup with their squads, the Seekers went the opposite way, headed for the towering crimson citadel at the far end of Main Street. Scarcely had they parted ways, however, than two more Psych-OSF soldiers appeared. Roxas and Yuito both recognized Lily and Norma immediately, the former having met them a couple days ago and the latter being part of their squad. “You’re safe!” he exclaimed as they ran up, a relieved look on his face. Of course, the presence of just the two of them left him with a pressing concern. “But where’s Raz? Kyoka said you all went together.”

“We got split up by a pack of Others!” Lili vented, her intense frustration writ plain on her face. Though she and Hanabi both specialized in Pyrokinesis, Lili was the actual fiery one in contrast to Hanabi’s energetic sweetness. “He turned invisible and ran off toward HQ to find Zanotto. We finished dealing with them a minute ago. Then we saw you fighting Milla and Sasha.”

Norma seemed to be in disbelief. “How the heck did you guys do it? I mean, you look terrible, but you took on two Septentrions and actually won! You guys are monsters!”

”What gave it away?” the even more heavily fused than their opponents had been princess asked rhetorically, though her tone made it clear she was making light of the situation.

So they stood back and watched rather than try and lend a hand? Luka couldn’t exactly blame them. This had been a battle even he didn’t want to fight, and he hadn’t been confident in winning, either. “There’s no time to waste. Let’s hurry and find them, then.”

The group of nine hurried the rest of the way as fast as their heavy fatigue would let them. Along the way they did little preparations for what may come. Pit swapped back to the trust Palutena Bow, Roxas used Curaga to patch up anyone still injured from the previous fight once his MP had recharged, and those that could stomach it ate and drank while on the move. It was a moment Midna finally used to check in with Hanabi about their shared armament, starting with a question as to why it was only fiery in her hands and then, after a brief compare and contrast, swapping the weapons over so the specialist had the upgraded variant and Midna had the one that worked better as a big heavy metal stick.

In short order, they reached the gate in the stone wall that encapsulated the Otherlobe’s courtyard, but even before they entered they could see something amiss. Only when they got closer did the gruesome details become clearer. They could see Raz, his back facing them, looking down at something in his hand. At his feet lay the body of a middle-aged man with yellow skin and a bushy brown beard, clad in a dark suit with red accents, stained even more red by blood from a vicious wound. Though partially dissolved, the body was instantly recognizable as that of Truman Zanotto. Hanabi covered her mouth in shock, and Luka came to a stop, his eyes wide. “Raz?”

When Raz turned around, a horrified look on his face, everyone could see the bloodstained dagger in his hand.

The scene in front of them put Pit on alert, despite the seeming lack of enemies around. That wasn't the expression of someone victorious, or even one of someone who'd had to defend themselves. Something was wrong here.

Shocked by the sight, Sakura put her hand over her mouth. The sight of such a brutal death of an innocent made her hesitate, but she stepped forward to close the gap between her and her friend, Raz. ”Raz-kun, are you…c’mere, it’s okay.” She said, gently as she could with a tremor in her voice.

As she walked forward she extended her hand to make her intent apparent that she was going to take the knife. What was Raz doing with a knife? It didn’t fit in his hands. ”We’re here, now.”

Midna meanwhile was stuck between a bout of paranoia that someone or thing like Braindrain had gotten to Raz, and not wanting to do something drastic to break Sakura’s approach. So rather than speak up and shatter the moment, she clamped her lips shut with her teeth, and moved to circle round slightly to the side of Raz, trusting Sakura go first, but ensuring she had an angle to intervene should things go south.

“H-hey, wait, it’s not what it looks like!” Raz yelped, throwing the knife on the ground like it burned his hands. “I didn’t- it’s not even my- that blonde guy, he-”

His voice faltered as his gaze landed on one of the new arrivals in particular. Lili stood stock-still, her eyes wide and her mouth ajar as she stared at the dissolving body of her father. While the others fretted about Raz, she slowly turned her focus his way. She put her hands on her head, her teeth clenching as her lips twisted. “...Dad?” Lili began to tremble, the orange cords across her outfit glowing more brightly. “How could you!” She shot forward, conjuring a giant psychic fist wreathed in flame.

“Waitwaitwait!” Raz conjured two of his own to catch the fist before it could smash him down, trying to hold her off. “If you’ll just gimme a sec, I-!”

Lili was having none of it. “You killed my dad!” Two more hands appeared to either side of her to perform a massive clap and crush Raz in the middle. “Get out of my way!”

“Just…hold on!” Mustering all his strength, Raz heaved Lili’s fist (as well as the rest of her) over his head, tossing her above and behind him. She flipped in the air and landed in about the middle of the courtyard, skidding for a couple feet in a trail of flame. In her rage, she grabbed the cord on her jacket and yanked it

But not to activate Brain Drive.

Instead she doubled over, groaning in pain. Three sets of triple-layered holographic ports appeared over her upper back and head, and behind her, Visions began to take shape. Red cables flickering like TV static appeared, over a foot in diameter, tipped with points the size of rapier blades. They lunged like vipers and stabbed into Lili, not just her ports but her brain and nervous system. Lili arched her back and screamed, her world turned white and her mind pushed to the point of snapping.

Then her face disappeared into shadow, and the cables pulsed, turning a brilliant scarlet. BWAOM! A dark digital landscape swallowed the area, encompassing everyone and everything. When Lili drifted down to the ground, the pattern on her mask blazed. With lingering cables activated and protruding from her back, the girl faced the boy who’d betrayed her, ready to take revenge.

Pit twisted around, watching the area around them be enveloped right before their eyes. He knew the psychics had all kinds of tricks, including the hooded power-up, but this one was intense. Was it even normal? "What is she doing?!"

“It’s Lili’s Brain Field!” Yuito yelled, readying himself. “In her mindscape, she’s all-powerful! Brace yourselves, everyone!”

Then the dark dimension blazed with flame, a hellish inferno poised to swallow all enemies whole.

Sakura had no idea the man on the ground was Lili’s father. This was a worst case scenario, and Lili’s rage had driven her beyond reason and reasonable power. Enveloped in her psychic power, Sakura had no idea what to do. But she knew Raz would never murder the father of his friend! Interposing herself between them, arm in front of Raz, she spoke. ”Lili-kun I- I’m so sorry! Please don’t do this!” She begged.

At this point, though, Lili was obviously gone. “Aahaahahahaha!” she cackled, lifting her hand above her head. A palm of flame the size of a truck appeared above her head, and it began to descend onto her enemies. “Raz, Raz, RAAZ!”

”No no no!” Sakura ran and dove out of the way. Kneeling, she put her hands on her head, distressed. ”This is terrible!”

In the meantime a second massive hand went sweeping towards Raz, this one belonging to Midna who grabbed and pulled the shell shocked boy out of the way of what may or may not have been justified vengeance. She didn’t know him well enough to make a judgment like Sakura, but she knew enough that there were plenty of ways this situation could be not what it seemed.

Roxas had to dive out of the way of the fire. After that he slowly pushed himself to his feet. After all the running and fighting that seemed to be nonstop that day, his arms and legs were starting to feel like jelly. At this point his body wanted to crawl into a bed somewhere and pass out. But this wasn’t over just yet. He remembered Lili being a pyrokinetic and just had to hope that meant she could be stopped with ice.

The Nobody weakly held out a Keyblade and leveled it in Lili’s direction, ”Freeze!” he weakly chanted, and began shooting Blizzaga spells at the berserk Lili. He didn’t really wanna hurt her, but maybe the ice could immobilize her or slow her down a bit. Try as he might, though, his ice was of no use. In her Brain Field, Lili’s pyrokinesis was exponentially stronger than before, and it overpowered his ice effortlessly.

Pit's wings were tucked as tightly against his back as he could make them as he did his best to avoid the blasts of flame. The appendages were feeling a lot better now thanks to Roxas' healing magic, but he couldn't risk his feathers catching in the blaze. Seeing Roxas' sluggishness due to fatigue, Pit leapt to protect him from another huge blast of fire. He intercepted the flames, spinning the bow and making a vortex that dispersed them in a small area around the two boys. The fire and heat was definitely burning his hands, but right now it was all he could do short of focusing just on himself and dodging the plumes. The orbitars were too small, or didn't last long enough while projecting the larger shield, to do anything against this inferno.

”We just have to wait her out like the other power up, right?” Minda called out as she set down and then pushed Raz away from her.

In between teleports to avoid the massive spurts of flame, Luka shouted out a reply. “Brain Field places a huge stress on the user’s brain!” He interrupted himself with another teleport to not get squashed like a fly beneath a giant fiery hand. “If she doesn’t end it, it’ll kill her in less than a minute!”

That information, delivered so suddenly, shocked Pit enough that he jerked his head around to look at Luka and failed to stop a blast of flame. He backed up quickly and coughed, beating away any licks of fire that clung to him. Then he looked to the girl in the middle of the courtyard who was already on her way to dying according to Luka. Though Lili was a stranger to Pit, and he to her, she was the friend of a friend - which made her Pit's friend, too.

"What- so we have to stop her! Calm her down or-!" Would it even be possible to convince her to stop? Apparently the stabbed man was her dad, and seeing him caused her to snap. Maybe they could knock her out?

”Alright then” Midna replied, before summoning Roadblock and getting him to beat on his shield while she called out ”Over here. I stopped your revenge, so come and fight me!” and pulled out her sun on a stick from a portal, not to do harm with, but to use its fire eating ability to defend herself.

Lili didn’t really need to give her any special attention, though. Waves of flame rolled across the floor of the Brain Field, and burning meteors descended from its ‘sky’. At the ten second mark, however, Lili staggered on her own, stumbling as she held her own head. Her flames raged on and she went back to normal after two seconds, but that was all the evidence the Seekers needed to see that Luka’s warning was very real.

“This is dangerous!” Yuito yelled at Lili. “You have to shut it off!”

“Lili, please! Don’t do this to yourself!” Hanabi added.

Whether or not Lili even heard them was anyone’s guess, though. “Aahahahaaa! This feels amazing!” Holding out her hands, she sent forth a gigantic flamethrower as long as a bus. “Die already!”

Sakura’s eyes were wide as she avoided the flamethrower only to get struck by a meteor. Grunting, she got to her feet. Lili was about to kill herself! She couldn’t just stand there and watch! ”W-we have to stop her!” Sakura sprinted forward, jumped, and teleported into the air above Lili, to try and bring her hammer fist down hard on Lili.

”Ok guess this is the plan” Midna, who had weathered the aoe fairly well thanks to her summon’s shield and 50% fire resistance, agreed as she moved to follow up the street fighter. Not able to run in as fast as Sakura however, she instead launched skywave ahead to hit both woman with a blinding/healing flash, before she tried to shove the fire starter with the palm of her shadow hand.

Despite the danger, Sakura landed her hammerfist on Lili’s large head, doubling her over somewhat. She seemed to be drunk on power, so much so that her defenses weren’t on point. At the same time, she didn’t have to be, and that one blow wasn’t anywhere near enough to down her. Lili clenched her fist and struck the ground beneath her, giving rise to a huge plume of flame that consumed her and her attacker. Skywave’s Optics Jammer rolled in the next moment to take the edge off for Sakura, but while it did blind Lili, it hardly mattered. With a terrific yell, Lili unleashed a clusterbomb of fiery explosions around her, blowing up everything in her vicinity that didn’t get away–including Midna’s shadow hand, tearing the magic apart.

With firepower like that, Luka couldn’t get in on her. There were no constructs in this Brain Field for Yuito to throw, and Hanabi’s flames didn’t hold a candle to Lili’s now. Of course, their main concern wasn’t beating Lili in the first place; it was that any second now, she could experience sudden brain death.

Lili wasn’t completely lost, though. At the five second mark, she became stricken with pain once more. This time her vision was completely blurred, and she couldn’t even see let alone fight. In that instant she realized that she was about to die. There was only one thing she could really do, and with all the strength she had left, she switched her Brain Field off.

The dark mindscape receded, replaced by the Otherlobe’s courtyard. Lili fell to her knees, groaning and clutching her head as tears ran down her face. Raz, who hadn’t even been trying to fight her, ran over tentatively and knelt down beside her. “Lili…”

“I don’t understand,” she murmured. “Even if you…even if you didn’t, why…dad…”

When she looked over at what little remained of Truman Zanotto’s corpse, however, she found something odd. A spirit lay in the ashes, but it wasn’t her fathers. Instead it belonged to a portly, balding man with violet skin, with a green button-up and orange tie. His was the face of a stranger, contained within a body it did not match.

Sakura propped her upper body up on her elbows, laying a short distance away. She saw Raz and Lili reunited, and followed Lili’s eyes to the ashes of her father. Or perhaps, someone else? That would be lucky. But that was a problem for future Sakura to ponder. Letting out a sigh of relief and exhaustion, the soot-speckled street fighter dropped flat onto her back.

Minda entirely agreed with the general sentiment expressed by that sigh, and promptly took a seat on the ground next to the street fighter, though simply doing that was not a way to rest befitting royalty, and so she promptly summoned her wolfos to act as a fluffy backrest.

At some point Pit had squeezed his eyes shut, as they'd been hurting from the heat, fire, smoke, and explosions inside the Brain Field. Even the inside of his throat hurt. But he could feel the inferno disappear and opened them back up again, blinking the spots in his vision away.

"Is it over?" He asked, though when he spotted Lili he changed his question to "Is she okay?", taking a few tentative steps closer to her and Raz.

”I hope so.” said Roxas wearily, ”I don’t know how much more of this I can take in one day.”

Lili’s misery had given way to a mixture of confusion and anger the moment she beheld the spirit laying in the ashes of her father’s body. “Wait…” She jumped up and ran over, snatching it up. “This isn’t dad’s!” She stared down on the ashes as if the answer might also be found among the soot. “But then, how…?”

“I think she’s okay,” Raz ventured. “But it looks like we have yet another mystery on our hands.”

”Mind control, full body disguises and conspiracies all the way down. Is anything not a mystery in this town?” Midna asked with a mix of humor and resignation, before adding thoughtful ”Although didn’t the consul do something like that? Wear a different face for the debate? Maybe that wasn’t something he could do, but something he stole from the regime?”

”I dunno, it’s all just flying right over my head at this point.” Roxas said with a shrug. His shoulders sagged with fatigue and exhaustion, but he hadn’t passed out. Yet. ”And that’s not even mentioning our own troubles on top of all that: Galeem, the Guardians, all of that. How does anyone manage to keep track of it all?”
Psychonauts’ Two - Milla

Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Roxas’ @Double
Word Count: 4779 (+5)

Milla hummed thoughtfully. Out of every enemy entrapped by her Quicksand Conversion, only Roxas still remained within its reach. Not a great use of her talents. Of course, she didn’t plan to stay here; she was just wondering which direction to go. As much as she wanted to help Sasha, he probably didn’t need it, and that mechanical monstrosity looked pretty horrible. “I’ll lend you a hand, darling,” she announced to the Sectopod, and she was off. Rolling atop her hoverball, she sped up the street with incredible speed, her dark power pulsing around her until she got close enough to capture Midna’s bearmech in its area of effect. “Open season!” she sang back, mindful of her Originum Art’s remaining duration.

”...Firing main cannon.” With an ear-splitting VOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM the Sectopod’s Wrath Cannon lit up the dark day, bathing all of Main Street in the radiance of a fifteen-foot-wide beam of unadulterated crimson power.

Everything had basically gone straight to hell right from the word go. After he was seemingly trapped in place by the Quicksand Conversion, Roxas immediately suffered a severe case of lasers-to-the-face which downed him pretty much immediately. He should probably have counted himself lucky that Milla didn’t decide to finish him off right then and there. And yet, the fact that she chose not to somehow felt like even more of an insult.

But after that catastrophically bad start, he finally managed to push himself back to his tired feet and patch himself up with a Curaga. Great, a grueling battle against absurdly powerful psychics and here he was stuck without any MP to work with. At that point he realized where Milla had gone off to. While he had no desire to deal with her Quicksand thing, maybe his speed wouldn’t matter if he was attacking from behind? And that’s when he had an idea.

The Nobody began to run in Milla’s direction. But before he could get slowed down by getting too close, he summoned his striker, attempting to have it appear as close to within striking range as possible. But even as Burn Rooster attempted a heavily slowed down fire breath attack, the kid who summoned him was already going for a surprise attack at Milla’s back. Yes, both he and the Striker spirit would be slowed down by the Quicksand Conversion, but Roxas was counting on his attack being enough of a surprise to get through in spite of the slow effect.

Midna, meanwhile discovered her mech was capable of evasive maneuvers just too late to actually avoid the incoming blast, as her frantic wrestling with the controls upon being slowed down resulted in a hop and a sideways dash that did absolutely nothing to avoid the giant beam of death that blazed over everything it its path. Warning lights and claxon blazed and blared inside the machine trying to tell her about the front of it had been wrecked. Unfortunately for it, and her, being blasted by a weapon with the luminosity of the midday sun had done quite the number on the princess’s eyes, and she was seeing none of it.

The bear engaged in a full, and blind, retreat while the princess threw every minion she had at the issue to try and buy her time, risk of feedback be damned. 7 spear wielders of ice and psychic energy appeared across the back of the bear, all of them grabbing hold of exposed fur to avoid falling off, before lobbing their respective javelins at the nearby hoverball rider. Skywave was also summoned, the exosuit firing a gravity cluster to try and pin down the flier, while roadblock taunted and shielded to draw fire away from the other strikers.

Portals also opened, launching Midna’s wolfos and flygon into the fray, both of which rather got in the way of the ranged strikers when they tried to melee attack Milla. The flygon naturally attempted this via swooping towards her, claws bared, while the best the wolfos could manage was a single leap up into the air to try and snap her between its jaws.

In the aftermath of the Wrath Cannon, Milla couldn’t help but be impressed. How could that tawdry-looking bearmech possibly withstand that immense laser? Well, it had sustained suitably immense and probably irreparable damage at least, but it hadn’t been destroyed. And the occupant (or occupants) hadn’t been either, judging by the varied creatures pouring from the charred hulk’s body. Milla chanced a look over her shoulder back toward Sasha to see how he was getting on, and instead found Roxas back on his feet and charging toward her with no sign of the injuries inflicted by the Sectopod’s blaster. Some sort of powerful healing, no doubt. And to think she’d thought him soundly defeated. Now she was being attacked on all sides, her enemies spurred on by the dispersal of her Quicksand Conversion. It had been over twenty-five seconds, after all.

“Dear oh dear,” she pouted. “You naughty children are eating through my SP like candy.” With her off hand she slid the gilded black dagger from her belt. Then she reactivated Quicksand Conversion. Fast as her attackers were, nobody could mount an effective close quarters assault when slowed by 80% just under 60% of the time. Roxas, Burn Rooster, and Midna’s melee minions all slowed to a crawl, their brief bursts of movement unable to keep up with Milla as she rolled around on her hoverball. In that kind of situation, evading Burn Roosters flamethrower was child’s play. That heavy robot was annoying, but did it really think she was going to prioritize it just because it was noisy? “Quite slow,” she taunted the others. “You should-” Then Skywave’s gravity cluster touched down next to her, yanking Milla off her hoverball. A deluge of projectiles landed on her, drawing blood in several places. Projectiles seemed to be exempt from Quicksand Conversion’s effect.

When the gravity well ended, Milla lay on her side, propped up on her arms. Her head was hanging, but a slight dark mist seemed to be rising from her body, and when she raised her head she looked disappointed. “Tsk-tsk-tsk,” she clicked her tongue. “Harder. You’ll have to hit me harder than that. Much harder.” Her shadow goat rose up from the ground behind her and gave a horrific shriek as she activated ATK Up β, boosting her basic attack by 80%. Then the ghoulish beast raised its claws. “Like this!”

It jammed its claws into her back, sinking them in deep to activate Renegade Gambit. Milla groaned in intense pain, her HP dropped from about 90% to 30% in an instant. In exchange, her attack went up a further 20%, her attack speed went up 10%, and her Dragondrive Gauge went up by over half. Dark power, pitch black and blood red, welled up around her as she floated back to her feet. With her dagger in one hand and her inverted staff held like a sword in the other, she smiled through the pain. “Give me your best shot!”

As soon as he was able to move, Roxas let out a groan of frustration. This whole Quicksand Conversion thing just didn’t seem fair at all. He knew what he needed right now, but unfortunately he still lacked any MP to make that happen. So for now he was stuck continuing to rely purely on his Keyblades. But at the very least he finally realized that projectiles went right through Milla’s Quicksand power. But here again, Roxas lacked any MP to actually capitalize on that.

It didn’t look like Midna’s mech was going to be in any state to do this, as it slumped to the ground. Yet a moment later the giant cannon on the back of the crippled mech, now low enough to the ground to shoot at it, turned towards the self wounding woman, as a mostly recovered Minda found that control. Then, with a flick of a button the cannon roared, and fired out of itself a not inconsiderable amount of sand she’d portaled into it in a shotgun like blast.

That was a pretty good shot. Only the mechanical groaning of the bearmech as it reoriented its cannon clued Milla in to what was about to happen, and even that gave her barely any notice at all. The realization might have frozen a lesser soldier in her place, paralyzed by fear, but Milla was a seasoned veteran. Even before joining Psych-OSF, and gaining powers that strengthened her the closer to defeat she got, she’d stared death in the face many a time. She had no means to block or withstand this, and no time for second guesses. As the bearmech’s cannon fired, she leaped into the air, her dress streaming behind her. The conical sand blast caught her, but it didn’t cut her short. She burst from it a split second later, her upward momentum boosted by her signature Levitation. Her flips came to a stop as she reached the apex of her jump, dark power welling around her.


She cannoned downward, creating a dark shockwave in the air. Her Renegade Descent hit the ground with a tremendous geyser of purple-wreathed black energy, dealing 1260% of her attack in an area only a bit smaller than the range of her Quicksand Conversion. It might not be boosted by ATK Up β, which only applied to her normal attacks, but that staggering multiplier plus the bonuses from Renegade Gambit meant just one thing for everyone caught in its radius: annihilation.

Roxas could easily tell what was coming when Milla just jumped up into the sky. Things like that had a habit of being followed up by big stomping attacks. And so the Keybearer made sure he backed off for several paces, trying to make sure he wasn’t caught up in the incoming drop attack. He let out a sigh of relief when he managed to avoid harm. This was getting hairy, and his MP still wasn’t recharged just yet.

It was a good thing, then, that Midna had taken one look at that charging of power and proceeded to smack every untouched button with all four hands till she found the ejection button. She was launched up into the air, while below her the bear mech was unceremoniously dumped into a portal. It was very fortunate that it had been crouching down before being dropped, because it meant only the cannon got blown to smithereens rather than its skull.

As the dark eruption subsided, Milla huffed at the disappearing bearmech, tracing Midna’s upward path with her gaze. All that expenditure, and not even an elimination to show for it. This four-armed trickster’s ability to manifest and unmanifest both herself and her allies at will was one hell of an ability. By taking to the sky, however, Midna had consigned herself to the sparse afternoon daylight that filtered through the angry clouds. No escaping now, Milla reasoned. Time for some target practice. Through the SAS she activated Sasha’s Marksmanship, and pink psychic lasers began to hurtle upward, rapid-fire.

The princess’s response was to expend the rest of her cargo crate collection, portals opening up and dumping the boxes in the way of the shots, but that ablative armor collection was only going to last so long.

Roxas could see what Milla was trying, but he was too far away to try and intercept the shots. And so he had to settle for the next best thing. Continuing to keep his distance, he winded up his arms and hurled both his Keyblades in opposite arcing paths that took them right toward where Milla was. He couldn’t stop the initial shots but he could at least try to draw her attention away from Midna.

”Hey! Forgetting something?” It really was irksome to be consistently ignored like this. But on the bright side it at least gave him ample opportunity to try and take the Psychonaut by surprise.

The element of surprise did not necessarily mesh with a yell for attention, but nevertheless Roxas succeeded in taking Milla’s focus off Midna. When she turned her foe’s way and saw his double keyblade throw, the Septentrion pursed her lips, thinking. Contrary to what the boy might believe, she hadn’t been ignoring him. No fighter worth his or her salt, no matter how confident, should ever just ignore an opponent. She knew, though, that her Quicksand Conversion was keeping him out. So far, he’d given her the impression that he couldn’t attack from range and wasn’t a good enough swordsman to fight her toe-to-toe without his mobility. She could hardly blame him, but that meant Roxas was her secondary priority. Until now.

Rather than sit still and get sandwiched, the dashed toward the keyblade on her right and sent it flying with a heavy stroke. Then she pivoted and parried the other as it hit her, carrying her momentum forward into a revolving knife strike to the keyblade’s guard that sent it skittering along the ground. Then Milla activated her Levitation and surged straight toward Roxas, bringing her Quicksand Conversion to him. “Careful what you wish for…” The tip of her cane extended like a rapier, she thrust it toward his chest. “Darling!”

Like Milla, Roxas wasn’t just going to stand there. He recalled his Keyblades back to his hands from the moment she batted them away. And then when she lunged, he moved to parry the thrust of her cane with his Keyblades. He was a little surprised to find that these movements were apparently unaffected by her quicksand. So it basically only affected his ability to run and jump?

Suddenly this seemingly unfair advantage of hers looked a little less unfair now. And it seemed Roxas’ luck finally turned because now his MP was back. And this allowed him to instantly offer a reprisal to her attack in the form of a Dual Counter. Sure, he wasn’t moving forward much at all but the actual circular slash itself still went as normal.

With a lot of momentum behind it and its power boosted by 100%, the end of Milla’s staff struck the boy’s guard with a whole lot of force. No amount of jarred nerves or strained muscles would stop his counterattack, though. He swung around in a circle, his keyblades carving radiant streaks of light through the air, but he wasn’t the only fast one. What Milla lacked in strength (without all her buffs from Earthspirit and Bellina, at least) she made up for in speed, and her trademark Levitation brought the contrast with Roxas into sharp relief. She dodged backward from his counter slash, hobbled as it was by Quicksand Conversion, and turned a certain hit into a glancing blow. Undeterred, she threw herself forward, vaulting up and over to try and bonk her opponent’s noggin as she passed overhead before landing behind him.

She wasn’t the only one who arrived behind him however, as Midna emerged from Roxas’ shadow at almost the same moment, having surrounded herself in an enshadowing sandstorm while he took their foes attention.

”Payback time!” the splinter peppered princess declared, a cry meant for both friend and foe as she came to pay them back for the aid and the harm respectively. Then she crescent-moon slashed her tree spear into existence to ward the speedster away from performing a backstab on Roxas, before launching her Boltok Pistol out of a portal and into a freehand and then using it to take potshots at Milla, again more to keep her away from her head ally than to do direct damage.

Upon hearing the yell, Milla transitioned smoothly from her wind-up into a guard. Polearms built like the Treespear were made for thrusting, not slashing, and its weight made her attack even more awkward, but the clumsy strike also kept her in blockstun longer than a clean hit. Milla used her Levitation to let the hit move her rather than crush her guard, but at this range it didn’t make much of a difference against the princess’s pistol. The shots she took prompted a sharp intake of breath, and Milla began to pick up speed. Now both her foes were stuck in Quicksand Conversion, and before its second usage timed out, the Septentrion planned to use it. Rolling atop a new hoverball, Milla sped around her opponents in a full circle, trying to outpace their attacks and cause one to bodyblock the other. There was just one question on her mind: how could she defeat an opponent who could just choose to not be attackable? She needed to figure out that disappearing act. Still, she couldn’t waste this chance while both were right here. Once more Milla hurled herself into the air, then rocketed downward in a desolate dive to try and wipe the Seekers out with Renegade Descent.

And it was at that moment that it became Roxas’ turn to pull a vanishing act. Well, not quite a “vanish” so much as his body turning into a streak of light that arced and zagged upward at the descending Milla. Miraculously this streaking light seemed to bypass the Quicksand Conversion, either due to the sheer speed of light or the light itself counting as a projectile. But either way Roxas was able to put himself in a position to try and intercept her descent with a powerful Cross Slash.

”Not so fast!” was the first thing Roxas shouted at her the moment he emerged from the streak of light to unleash his attack. Even if he couldn’t interrupt her attack entirely he was confident he could at least slow it down or blunt it somehow.

Midna could only hope that he gave her enough time to pull another disappearing act, the princess tossing her spear into the air and then using its shadow to hop away, unfortunately having to abandon the armament in the process.

She was right to get out of the way. Roxas burst upward, a ray of light against the crushing tide of darkness, pitting his keyblades against the dagger that was the driving edge of Milla’s withering Renegade Descent. Even with her damage buffs amping it up, her technique was telegraphed enough to be dodgeable, but -as demonstrated earlier against the bearmech’s sand blast- too armored to be stoppable. Though the Cross Slash cut into her already-low health, Milla won out, her meteoric shadowfall devouring Roxas’ light. Together the two careened into the ground and Roxas disappeared into the darkness, dealt a whopping 1260% of the Septentrion’s attack damage.

In spite of the pain, and in spite of all the damage, Roxas’ light refused to be snuffed out. In fact if anything, it was starting to burn brighter. His blades became encased in searing light even as he was pinned into the ground by the Renegade Descent, ”Not yet!” he screamed out with sheer determination and began to hack and slash his light-encased blades at Milla with wild speed and strength.

Milla’s brows went up, surprised that Roxas was still breathing, let alone fighting. As the ripples of molten shadow around the two began to subside, she backed off to avoid his keyblades, allowing Roxas to regain his feet.

He spent all remaining MP to exert as much strength and power as he possibly could into this rush of attacks, ”You’re finished!” And at the end of it he brought both blades crashing downward and unleashing a quartet of light pillars that raced across the ground in four opposite directions from him, which would deal heavy light damage to any enemy they collided with along the way.

What a bad time for Quicksand Conversion to run out; Milla was forced to deal with the Limit Break for real. The area became a furious dance of light and dark as Roxas attacked with unrelenting ferocity, his airtime as floaty as his target’s. At first Milla held her own, dodging in unpredictable directions and blocking with both her staff and her knife, which she held like a parrying dagger. But Roxas was putting everything he had into this, and on defense the Septentrion was no star player. She got clipped, then a second later struck twice, then soon after caught with a blow to the head that scrambled any chance of holding on any longer. The last part of Event Horizon chewed her up and then spat her out. Though she resisted light damage, that punishment on top of her already-low health left her on the ground, her hat torn off and her silvery hair splayed out in every direction. A long wound covered her left cheek from chin to ear, half bruise and half gash.

The next moment Roxas sank to the ground too, the last of his energy exhausted along with his magic.

Midna, having stayed clear of the blistering battle, stepped back in at this point, flicking a pack of orange gel and a granola bar at Roxas with one hand, while her other ones held a charged up Prometheus Torch.

”I liked that spear” she informed the other wounded woman calmly as she close in, before lunging forwards and attempting to drive the lightning-infused bo staff into her chest

Her dash stopped short, slowed by eighty percent.

Milla let out a deep breath, hovering off the ground. One hand went instinctively to the wound on her cheek, prompting a pained wince. When she turned to look at Midna, her shadow goat manifested around her, its stygian skull overlaid across her face like a mask and her eye blazing in its empty socket. Immediately a flurry of psi-blasts borrowed from Sasha’s Marksmanship shot at Midna to keep her from closing the distance, and as the barrage ended Milla tugged the cord in her collar. Because of her horns, a hat appeared instead of a hood, a dark synthetic veil hanging in front of her face with a pattern that resembled a single left eye, glowing orange. Brain Drive was engaged, giving Milla the legs to stand on that she needed to face the Twilight Princess.

”This again? You all really need to find a new trick” Midna declared confidently despite the pain of the psiblast inflicted wounds, and even she was stuck actually having to face the Brain Drive to protect the injured Roxas

Roxas slowly reached for the items that Midna threw his way. He ate them both and thankfully his injuries and damage was mitigated a bit. But he lacked the energy to actually get back on his feet. He could push himself to a kneeling position but that was it. With a trembling hand he summoned Oblivion, then shifted it into a backhanded grip. He used the last of his stamina to throw himself forward and to try and throw the Keyblade itself in Milla’s direction. But that was all he could muster. Even the act of throwing the weapon put him off of his kneeling position and back to laying on the ground.

Unfortunately it was up to Midna to find a way to finish this fight.

The princess meanwhile raised up her hand, curling the fingers and started to spread out her own field, one that washed over both her and Roxas harmlessly as it cloaked an area within an orange ring of power with supernatural darkness.

”Come on then, try me” she dared, as two portals opened up, one summoning her flygon, which began blasting Milla with dragon breath, and the other tossing up the princess’ Charr Pirate Musket into her free hands, which she promptly fired at Milla as well.

After dashing back from the dark field, Milla took a deep breath. Anger, indignation, and so forth might be warranted, but instead she focused. Enhanced by Brain Drive, her battle sense and her dexterity were finely tuned. Despite knowing that she now faced her foe at peak performance, Midna hadn’t fled from Milla’s Quicksand Conversion. Instead she extended a smaller field that overlapped with Milla’s own, but didn’t quite reach her. The Septentrion stood her ground, almost effortlessly blocking the thrown keyblade from Roxas, as the flygon appeared and Midna started shooting. Well, that creature would never get close enough to bathe her in those nasty blue flames. Levitating atop a new hoverball, Milla circled around her opponent, staying out of the dark zone while keeping her foes within her own pulse. Midna was a bad shot, and her weapon looked like an antique. Paired with her taunt, this seemed like bait. Neither terribly hurried nor anxious despite Brain Drive’s limited duration, Milla accessed PSI from Lucas through SAS, and an image of that nervous, pitiable boy flashed through her mind. His vulnerability made him her favorite, almost like her very own child throughout his training, and their bond was strong. “PK Thunder.” An electric orb flew in to hunt Midna down. “PK Freeze.” A self-generating snowflake arced through the air, growing larger as it went.

In response Midna dug back into her bag of strikers and started throwing them out there again. Roadblock to shield them from the ice, icy and psychic spear throwers trickled in one by one to toss their javelins, and finally Skywave to shoot its healing projectiles at both her and Roxas.

As for the electric orb, well, her flygon, aware of how much said style of power unnerved its trainer, and also seeing how it could not hit the out of range opponents, instead (slowly) turned and wrapped its wings around Midna, preparing to simply take the attack that would do the ground type pokemon no harm.

Those phantoms again. Milla kept moving too as Midna used her summons to counter both her projectiles, and Roadblock shuffled around to try and keep its shield between her and its master. PSI casts and javelins flew back and forth, but neither amounted to much. Milla took another deep breath. Last time she used Renegade Descent, she didn’t have any Dragondrive stocked up from Renegade Gambit that could be spent to ready the skill again, so she couldn’t just crash down on these happy campers like she did before. Dragondrive was the answer, though. Her last hope, once Brain Drive drained away. Calling upon her shadow goat, Milla used Renegade Gambit again. She didn’t have any extra health to sacrifice, but it still boosted her gauge up to 60%. Just one more time, she thought. Problem was, she’d need to attack to use that skill again, too. It all came down to that dark field; with Brain Drive and Quicksand Conversion still on her side, she’d need to risk it if she wanted to keep moving forward. When Roadblock finally timed out, she had less than ten seconds left on both her abilities. It was now or never.

“HYA!” Milla boosted forward with Levitation, charging with her staff gripped in both hands for as many mighty strikes as it would take.

”Gottcha” the princess declared, as she snapped her shadow hand’s fingers, causing power to pulse through the field once, causing orange electricity to lash out, briefly encasing Milla in a stunning web. It also marked her for a swift strike from her Flygon, who lunged forward to try and deliver what would have been a devastating finishing blow, had the slow field not dragged it to a crawl.

What was not slowed was the lighting the princess blasted fourth from her bo staff, a continuous beam of it blazing forwards at the restricted target till the weapon ran dry of charge.

No way–crowd control!? Milla gritted her teeth, her assault stopped in its tracks. The flygon might be slowed on the whole, but it would burst her way at full speed .6 seconds at a time. Until then, she suffered Midna’s electrocution. “Gaaaah…aaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!” Milla cried, unable to fight back. Her only blessing was that lightning fell under ‘light’ in Bellina’s world, making it disadvantaged to and resisted by her own inherent ‘dark’, but she really didn’t have enough health to make that fact matter. The Septentrion withstood it only long enough for the Flygon to finish her off.

Its deathblow snapped her staff in two and knocked her down hard, her dagger sliding along the pavement. This time, Milla didn’t rise. No Brain Drive. No dragondrive. No life. It took everything she had to crack open one eye and stare up the street, her vision weakening. “...Sasha…”
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