Chapter 9: Hollow Bastion Part 2
James led Sora, Donald, Goofy and the Beast, through the many levels of Hollow Bastion's Castle until they arrived at a large courtyard, where Maleficent was waiting for them.
She smiles wickedly, "I'm afraid you're too late. Any moment now, the final Keyhole will be unsealed. This World will be plunged into Darkness. It is unstoppable." She tells them.
James smirked, "Ya know, I'd be inclined to believe you if I thought you actually had everything you need." He says as he summons Starlight into his hand, "This is your only warning, Maleficent. Free the Princesses of Heart and flee while you can." He points the blade at her, "Aqua was merciful to you in our last battle. I will not be as kind."
Maleficent sneers, "You poor, simple fools. You think you can defeat me? Me, the mistress of all evil?" She surrounds herself in dark Magic that pulsates throughout the room.
James deepens his stance, "Beast! I'm gonna need some backup here!" Beast lets out a roar and gets to all fours, preparing to attack, "Sora! You take Donald and Goofy, and hurry to find Kairi!"
Sora nods, "Ok! Be careful, Jim!"
James looks back to Sora, "Once you find her, take her and run! Don't fight unless you have to!" He adds as Sora rushes ahead. James returns his focus to Maleficent, "Now then, where were we?"
Maleficent glares coldly at him, "I told you before, you would know when I was after revenge!"
Maleficent launches the platform she's standing on at James, but he creates a wall of Thundara to counter the attack, followed by several blows with his Keyblade.
With a flaring burst of green energy, Maleficent threw back James as a Dark Ball Heartless was about to strike him, but Beast ripped his claws through the fiend before he could get the chance, "I will deal with these! You handle that vile sorceress!" He says, spitting venom into the word "Sorceress."
James gives chase to Maleficent, who brings down black lightning bolts on James. He manages to dodge most of them, but he gets hit by a stray bolt, sending him to the ground. Maleficent launches a stream of green flames at him, but James rises to his feet and uses the Chain Rave technique to spin Starlight fast enough to push back against the flames.
Then, with his left hand, he summons Vulpes and uses Strike Raid with it, launching the ancient Keyblade into the floating platform Maleficent stood on, causing her to fall. James took the opportunity to charge and slash at her with both Keyblades.
Maleficent clutches her chest where she was struck.
James smirks, "You'll never learn Maleficent. The Darkness is too powerful to be controlled. Even by one as wicked as you." Maleficent said nothing, retreating within a Dark Corridor.
Beast approaches James, "You should have claimed her life." He tells the man.
James nods, "In due time, I will. For now, we need to catch up to Sora."
James and Beast were able to catch up to Sora just as they found Maleficent and Riku together.
In Riku's hand, instead of his Soul Eater, was a Keyblade of pure evil. Jet black blade with blood red hand guard. It was the Keyblade of People's Hearts.
"Riku!" Sora calls out.
Donald looks at the weapon, "Is that…" he asks.
Riku turns to face the group, speaking with a deep voice echoing his every word, "Yes. A Keyblade. But unlike yours, this Keyblade holds the power to unlock people's Hearts. Allow me to demonstrate…" He then quickly turns around and runs Maleficent through, "Behold!" Maleficent cries out in pain as Darkness spills in from Riku's Keyblade to Maleficent's body, "Now, open your Heart, surrender it to the Darkness! Become Darkness itself!" Riku rips his Keyblade out of Maleficent and vanishes into a Dark Corridor.
Maleficent's body begins to glow as her strength increases, "This is it! This power!" She says with an evil smile, "Darkness… The true Darkness!" She engulfs herself in green fire.
James summons Starlight and Vulpes, "Heads up! She's serious now!" He yells, recognizing her transformation. Beast bared his fangs, Goofy gripped his shield, Donald raised his wand, and Sora summoned Kingdom Key as Maleficent took up her Dragon Form.
Maleficent let out a mindless roar before stomping the ground, causing a shockwave that knocked everyone back.
James grunts as he gets back up, "She's more powerful than ever! This is gonna take all of us together to beat her!" Everyone nods and begins their counterattacks.
Donald encases Maleficent's head in ice with Blizzaga, while James uses Magnega to pin her wings to the floor, allowing Beast, Goofy and Sora to bombard the dragon with multiple barrages of attacks.
Soon enough though, Maleficent breaks the ice, with a chunk hitting Donald, and she breaks through James' spell, swatting him aside with her tail.
When Maleficent moves to crush James, Beast grabs her foot and pushed against it with all his strength. Using this opportunity, James got out of the way and used Goofy's shield as a Spring Board for him to rise high into the air as his Wayfinder transforms the color scheme of his clothing to blue, "Magic Pulse!" He shouts, firing four massive magic orbs at Maleficent, each one hitting its mark. He then lands on his feet and aims Starlight, "Union Ragnarök!" Firing several missile projectiles at Maleficent's wings, causing them to fold, "NOW!" James yells.
Beast leaps up and slashes her face, Donald scorches her scales with Firaza, Goofy crashes down the top of Maleficent's maw with his full weight in a nose dive attack and Sora summons all the magic he can muster into his Keyblade, "Sparks!" The boy yells, causing a rainbow of light to shoot from Sora's Keyblade and pelt Maleficent relentlessly until she collapses, fully exhausted.
James runs up and creates a light construct in the shape of a sword, "Now Sword of Truth! Fly swift and sure! Let evil die and good endure!" He chants, mimicking the spell the good fairies used to defeat her ten years ago. James then grips the light blade and pushes it hilt deep into Maleficent's skull.
Maleficent's body, reacting to the Light magic that killed her, shot her dark fire out, burning away the body, as well as the wicked vines that had been covering the entire castle. When the fires faded away, all the was left, was her tattered robes.
Riku steps forward, "How ironic." He says with the same echo in his voice; however, it is slightly louder than before, "She was just another puppet after all."
Donald's eyes widened, "What?" He asks in surprise.
Riku slowly moves his gaze across the entire group, "The Heartless were using Maleficent from the beginning. She failed to notice the Darkness in her Heart eating away at her. A fitting end for such a fool." He says, rubbing his boot against a singed part of her robe. He then backed away into another Dark Corridor.
James sighs, "We don't have much time left. Let's grab Kairi and Belle and get out. We can come back for the others later." He tells them, hiding his grim expression, "I haven't had to expend that much power in battle since the old war… I'm getting dangerously close to my limit."
They hurried up a small flight of stairs, but an invisible barrier was at the end of the steps, preventing anyone but Sora from passing through.
Sora failed to notice this, due to finding Kairi's body, "Kairi!" Sora shouts as he hurries to her side and holds her in his arms. He shakes her slightly, "Kairi! Kairi! Open your eyes!"
"It's no use." Riku's twisted voice says, "That girl has lost her Heart. She cannot wake up."
James raises an eyebrow, "Wait, 'that girl?'" He echoes.
Sora gently puts Kairi back on the floor, "What? You… You're not Riku." James puts a hand to his Wayfinder and begins to focus his energy as the scene continues to unfold.
"The Keyhole cannot be completed so long as the last Princess of Heart still sleeps." Sora looks to her in confusion, "The princess…? Kairi's a Princess?"
The one in Riku's body nods as he lowers onto the ground, "Yes, and without her power, the Keyhole will remain incomplete. It is time she awakened."
Sora grits his teeth, "Whoever you are, let Riku go! Give him back his Heart!" He demands.
Riku smiles wickedly, "But first, you must give the Princess back her Heart." He then points his Keyblade at Sora, whose chest begins to glow as he grunts from the sudden sensation, falling to his knees.
"Sora!" Donald yells. James' eyes widen, his robes turning brown as he crashes through the barrier and the group hurries to his side.
"What's—" He struggles to say.
"Don't you see yet?" Riku asks.
James steps in front of Sora, "I can explain." He tells everyone, "Ten years ago, Kairi lived here in this World. But it was a very different place, lively and beautiful. It was called the Radiant Gardens. One fateful day, the young child would find herself attacked by monsters. Fortunately, three Keyblade Wielders had come to her aid. Two of them were Aqua, and King Mickey. I was the last one. Before departing, Aqua could sense that there was something special about this girl—something that needed to be protected. So, she cast a spell on Kairi's Heart. Should Darkness ever come after her, to try and take her Light, her Heart would be transported to whoever she trusted most to be able to protect it."
He then turns to look back at Sora, "On the day Destiny Islands fell to Darkness, Aqua's spell was activated. And Kairi's Heart sought you out." Sora looks wide eyed at James, who smiles, "I told you she was closer than you thought." He then turns back to Riku, "Now then, why don't you stop with the runaround and tell us who you are!"
Riku smiled darkly, "It is I, Ansem, the seeker of Darkness."
Donald and Goofy let out war cries and charge, but Ansem knocks them aside.
James summons both Keyblades and attacks, but, due to his weakened state, he was unable to keep up, and was overpowered, knocked to the floor beside Donald and Goofy as a new barrier trapped them.
The last thing James could hear before blacking out was the sound of Sora saying, "There's no way you're taking Kairi's Heart!"
"Sora! Sora look!" Donald yells, causing James to stir.
"The… The Keyhole!" Goofy yells, making James's eyes snap open as he hurries to his feet. Ansem-Riku is on the ground, unconscious, signifying that Sora beat him one on one, but the final Keyhole was beginning to take form now that the presence of all seven Hearts had been realized.
James hurried and picked up Kairi, "I've got her, just close the Keyhole and we've won!" Sora nods and walks up to the Keyhole, holds up Kingdom Key, but nothing happens.
Goofy leans forward, "It won't work! The Keyhole's not finished yet!"
James grits his teeth, "He's right. And it's getting increasingly more powerful. Even if we just take the Princesses and leave, the power alone would be enough to wipe out everything here. We'd never get out in time."
Sora puts his Keyblade away, "What can we do?" He asks.
Goofy looks to the girl in James' arms, "Maybe we've gotta go wake Kairi up." He says.
James nods, "Yes. The return of Kairi's Heart to her body would allow the Keyhole to appear so Sora can lock it away. Problem is, I don't have the power to pull a Heart from someone. So how can we wake her up?"
Sora then looks at the Keyblade of People's Hears, "A Keyblade that unlocks people's Hearts… I wonder." He says seriously.
"Sora?" Goofy asks hesitantly as Sora walks over to the Keyblade. James' eyes widen, "Don't!" He yells, "If you use it to pull Kairi's Heart out of you, you'll take your own Heart out with it! You'll be reduced to a Heartless and be gone forever! We'll find another way, Sora!"
Sora offers all of his friends a silly smile before stabbing himself through the chest with the evil Keyblade, "NO!" James screams as six hearts to fly from the blade, returning to each of the Princesses. Then was one more that fell into Kairi, who opens her eyes immediately and sees James, before quickly turning to look at Sora, who is being engulfed in light.
Donald rushes to him, "Sora… Sora!"
Kairi pushes out of James' arms and runs to him as he starts to fall, "SORA!" She calls out. Just a second before her hands can grab him, he vanishes into the Light.
James shuts his eyes in sorrow, "Damn! Not…. Not again…." He mumbles to himself.
Kairi looks up in sorrow, "Sora, are you really—" She shakes her head, clutching a hand to her chest, "No. He can't be! I won't let him go!" She screams.
Suddenly, a faint green light shines in his Wayfinder and James can hear a voice echo in his mind, "It's alright, Jim." The voice says, "There's still a chance." James freezes in recognition of the voice, "It… it can't be…"
The Final World
Meanwhile, Sora flew around in a black void, "What… what's happening?" He asks.
"Oh…" says a high-pitched voice in the distance, "I was hoping he would finally appear here. But… I guess he still has work to do." The owner of the voice is about to leave, when they take a second glance at Sora, "This boy… He's not quite here yet. The Light of his Heart is still clinging to the other World."
They then hear Sora calling out, "Hello? Anyone? Donald? Goofy? Kairi? Jim?" A pair of ears twitch at the sound of the last name.
Just then, a hand lands on the first person's head, "He knows him." The high-pitched voice says.
The new person chuckles, "Of course he does." He says as a female voice walks up beside the second person.
"He's too young to be left here. He should be back with his friends. Think we can give him a hand?" She asks the second voice.
The first voice bounces happily, "We have to! I know we aren't supposed to, but… well…" They finish shyly.
The second voice sighs happily, "I understand. We all want to help him. After all, we miss him too." With that, the second and third voices raise their hands and send Sora through a Gate.
The first voice looks wistfully, "May your Heart be your guiding key."
Everyone was interrupted from their grieving by the sound of a person walking through a Dark Corridor, "So, you have awakened at last, Princess."
James moves to stand in front of Kairi as he stares at the man. He's dressed identically to Xehanort, but is clearly a young man with long white hair and the Heartless emblem on his chest.
"The Keyhole is now complete. You have served your purpose. But now it's over."
James summons Vulpes, while Donald and Goofy summon their weapons, "Don't make another move!" Donald yells.
James narrows his eyes, "So you must be Ansem." He says bitterly, "Usually, I like to give a chance to retreat. But..." He clenches his Keyblade tight, "The way I see it, you're the reason for everything, starting with Riku. Which means you're the reason Sora had to die!" He dons his Keyblade Armor and shouts, "I will make you pay dearly for that!"
Ansem takes a few steps forward, but immediately halts, appearing to be struggling against something, "Impossible…" he groans.
Just then, Riku's spirit appears in front of Ansem to block his path, "No. You won't use me for this!"
Kairi's eyes widen in surprise, "Riku!" She calls out.
Riku looks at her through strained eyes, "You've got to run! The Heartless are coming!" Just then, they found themselves surrounded by Mega Shadows. After observing their surroundings, Kairi nods.
James grunts, "So be it. But you haven't seen the last of me, Ansem." He then grabs Donald, Goofy and Kairi and summons Starlight in its Jetpack form before jetting out of the castle.
As he flew, he saw Beast protecting Belle's body from the Heartless, "Sorry Beast, but there's no time to save you! I hope you can forgive me."
(A/N: That's it for this chapter! Next chapter will be the finale! Gonna take a while to make, because I have a lot to work on for it. I hope to take no longer than 2 weeks, but we'll see. Until then, Read and Review!)