Kingdom Hearts V: Balance of Power



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KeybladeOrder

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Hello, readers new and old, and welcome to Kingdom Hearts V: Balance of Power, the sixth installment in my eight part Acolytes of Chaos fanfiction saga. Those of you who have read my previous works in this series, welcome back. For those of you who haven't I highly suggest you go to my page under the username DragonKey27 to get caught up, because I'm not stopping to recap everything that's happened before this. Now go on, go, go.

All caught up? Good. Let's get started. As usual, I own nothing, all preexisting properties used or mentioned in this story belong to their respective owners. And a quick reminder of my font style for those who've forgotten:
"Talking"
Thinking
"Written Text"
"Speaking in a language other than English"
"Singing"

Alright, now that everyone's on the same page, on with the show.[HR][/HR]Prologue: Phase Two:
Titan's Refuge – Maleficent's Throne:

The space above was silent as asteroids tumbled through the cosmos overhead. The only sound within a hundred feet of the large, hovering throne was the sound of Maleficent and her cabal discussing their next move. The loss of most of HYDRA, the Mind Stone, and the Infinity Stone was a critical blow to their cause. But thankfully, Gideon Malick and his staff had managed to retrieve their valuable research data and escape with their lives and their freedom, returning to the Nathalis for transport to the Hellfire Club's new headquarters. Now that the information they'd uncovered about the Time Stone had been analyzed, it was time for Maleficent and her inner circle to discuss their next move.

"We know that the Time Stone is hidden on Earth," Loki commented as he lounged on the steps leading up to the throne that once held the bulky weight of Thanos but now belonged to Maleficent. "Within the device known as the Uchrono Hourglass. The question now is how are we going to retrieve it?"

"Precisely," Captain Hook chimed in. "Even with access to Malekith's resources, the Coalition's attack on the Kiln has dealt us a critical blow. We barely have enough resources to protect our new base of operations, let alone launch an invasion of Coalition space. And then there's that blasted Legion to consider. It's clear from their actions at Radiant Garden that we are not the only ones in pursuit of the Infinity Gauntlet."

"Meaning that we have competition for our goals," Cruella de Vil added. "Meaning we have to divide our resources dealing with enemies on two sides while also searching for our prize."

"Exactly," Maleficent finished from atop her throne. "Which is why for the time being we will leave that wretched Coalition alone. We will focus our efforts on rebuilding our resources and destroying our newest rival. Once the Legion has been extinguished, we will resume our search for the stones and put our energy back into achieving our shared goal of universal domination."

"But then there's another problem to consider," Diablo observed. "What to do about Malekith. He's already built himself a considerable power base and may instigate a coup if given the opportunity to do so. He's already swayed Seymour and Demona to his side, and I fear that if we do not deliver on our bargain, Sephiroth's bastards will soon join them."

"We'll send those boys off on a wild goose chase for the time being, then," Maleficent answered. "We'll use Malekith's vessel as the flagship of our armada for now. That way we can keep an eye on him and his conspirators. In the meantime, Captain Hook will lead our remaining ships and the Heartless in raids on Galactic Federation shipyards to rebuild our armada. Once we've built our fleet back up, we're taking the fight to this "Legion" and burning them to the ground." Everyone nodded their heads as the inner circle dispersed. Each had their responsibilities to attend to, and though they were all friends, none of them stuck around to chat. They had work to do.
[HR][/HR]The Uchrono Hourglass is from American Dragon: Jake Long. I figured that since nobody knows what the Time Stone will look like in the actual MCU, that it would be best to avoid confusion by having the Time Stone be a pre-existing time travel device in existing Disney properties. With five of the six Infinity Stones now identified, I bet you're all probably wondering about the nature and location of the Soul Stone. All I will say on the matter is that it's hidden in plain sight both in the MCU and here. Or at least, I'm convinced it is in the MCU.

Just a head's up, I'll be at a beach house with no wi-fi all day Friday and Saturday, so I won't be able to post the next chapter until Sunday evening. The good news is that I'll be posting three chapters at once to make up for lost time, and then I'll resume my whole "one chapter a day" pattern.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Just a fair warning to everyone now, Kingdom Hearts V is going to be one of the shortest stories in the Acolytes of Chaos saga. It's still a major fic that moves the plot forward, but the storyline is more condensed than the other entries in this ongoing series. Each world is getting two chapters instead of three to avoid forcing me to drag things out like I did early on in Kingdom Hearts IV.
[HR][/HR]Chapter 1: The Great Forest:
The Lanes Between – Mirage Arena:

Why did Maleficent have to attack Radiant Garden the day I was preparing to leave to go find Sora? Kairi thought sarcastically to herself as the RLS Legacy docked at the spaceport orbiting the small world below. Although the damage to the city had been minor, the world hadn't escaped the wrath of the Hellfire Club unscathed. Most of the city's resources were all being directed towards repairing damaged buildings and providing medical attention to the injured. It had taken six days before spaceport traffic had opened enough for Captain Amelia to get the Legacy ready to depart, and because of the way supplies were being distributed, they needed to acquire rations and fuel elsewhere.

The closest spaceport to Radiant Garden was the Mirage Arena, a space station orbiting The Great Forest that served as both a supply depot and a coliseum where warriors from all over Coalition Space could come to test their skills against each other. Phil had come up with the idea a few years ago and had been the owner and manager of the coliseum tournaments ever since. The reason the spaceport wasn't on the surface of The Great Forest was because like the Pride Lands, the animal inhabitants weren't anthropomorphic, so tourists wishing to travel to the surface of such worlds had to pass through a morphic teleporter, which transformed them into a form appropriate to the environment before transporting them down to the surface.

Unlike the Pride Lands, however, the Great Forest lacked a clear society structure. Because it had no government to be inducted into the Coalition, the Great Forest was considered a protectorate of the Coalition. The animals living there, since they were all sentient, were accorded the same rights as full Coalition citizens, but as far as tourist traffic was concerned, the world was treated like a nature preserve. Hunting was prohibited within the world's borders, and nothing could be built there. For that reason, the Mirage Arena stood sentinel just outside the edge of the world's atmosphere. Standing guard against outside threats while monitoring the surface for signs of intrusion by the Hellfire Club or its ilk.

While Captain Amelia stood outside the ship's gangplank overseeing the on-loading of provisions and the refueling of her prized ship, Kairi and the others kept themselves busy during their layover. With Riku and Goofy off using the restroom one last time before they got back on the ship, Rose waited in line at the nearby snack bar ordering the group lunch while they waited. Kairi and Donald sat down on a bench at the end of the dock, watching spaceport workers unload and offload supplies.

"Don't worry," Donald told her. "We'll find him." Although the Princess of Heart had not said anything, her concern for Sora's fate was written all over her face. It had been over two weeks since he had been forcibly transported to Earth by the Tesseract, and while Loki could tell her some of what he knew of the planet's recent goings on, she had no idea whether her fiancé was even still alive. With no way for the Prince of Asgard to get in touch with his brother, the Unchained Legion could have hunted Sora down and killed him for all she knew. Thankfully, Donald's reassurance helped to ease her worries.

"Thanks, Donald," she replied. "But I can't afford to worry. All worrying will do is distract me. Focusing on bringing him home keeps me going. And if I have something to focus on, I can push through the fear." The sentient duck nodded in understanding just as two familiar figures walked up. Although Kairi hadn't interacted with them much, she'd hung out with Yuna enough to recognize Rikku and Paine on sight. But from the way they carried themselves, the princess knew that this wasn't a social call. They were here doing work for the Intelligence Network.

"Our most recent excursions down to the Forest have turned up evidence of recent activity of some nefarious organization," Rikku explained.

"Not clear yet if it's the Club or the Legion," Paine added. "All we know is that they're abducting the locals and they have a central base of operations. We know that you're busy tracking down your fiancé, but since your ship's not going to be finished resupplying for a couple more hours, Cassim told us to ask if you could lend us a hand with the investigation until you leave." Kairi nodded in understanding. She didn't want to delay her search for Sora any longer than she had to, but since it would be another three hours before they were ready to cast off again, who was she to say no to something to keep her busy when it dropped into her lap. Besides, she wouldn't dream of turning people down when they needed her help.

"Of course," she answered. "Let me go grab the others and we'll meet you at the teleporter."
[HR][/HR]New York City – Canal Street Electronics:

"I know there's not stoppin' you when you put your mind to it, Jakey," Trixie Carter said with a reassuring smile. "So just promise me and Spud that you'll be careful when you're out in space lookin' for Rose." Jake smiled. He'd called his parents, Rose's parents, their sisters, and closest friends, telling them to meet him at his grandfather's electronics shop. Once everyone was there, he told them about what had happened to Rose and about his plan to head out into space and help them look for her. He explained as best as he could about Sora and legends of the Keyblade War, but left out the part about Rose being an Unchained. He figured that was her story to tell.

In any case, he had expected complete resistance to the idea of him going into space to look for her. Or that everyone would doubt his knowledge that she was no longer on Earth. But much to his surprise, everyone was completely on board with his goal. Rose was part of the family, and everyone wanted him to find whoever took her and make them pay. Or "teach them not to mess with the ex-AmDrag," as Trixie and Spud preferred to say. The former American Dragon smiled. He'd cashed in all his vacation days he'd accumulated at work (not that he needed to, since the school administration was understanding of the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted him along on their investigation into his wife's abduction), and with Trixie and Spud filling in for when the dragon council needed his help, things were well in hand, and he didn't need to worry about anything else when he flew off to rescue the love of his life.

"Thanks, Trixie," Jake replied as he gave everyone one last hug. "I don't know how long I'll be gone for, but if you ever hear or see anything about the Legion guys who took her, call this number." He passed out cards to everyone with the contact information for a burner phone owned by S.A.C.K. Director Peggy Rogers. "They have experience in dealing with Keyblade War related stuff." After a round of hugs and handshakes, Jake followed his grandfather and Fu into the back of the shop. His grandpa had some magical artifacts to take with him in case of emergencies.

While Fu stuffed an extra duffel bag full of things like air capsules (modified from the original underwater survival versions to allow him to breath in space), fairy dust, a few knives made from unicorn horn in the event that he needed to cut through alien metals that were stronger than anything found on Earth or Asgard, and other magical gadgets, Lao Shi discussed more secretive matters with his grandson. While he hadn't mentioned why the Legion wanted to kidnap Rose, Lao Shi knew enough to figure out what was going on without being said. While the dragon council knew of the existence of the Unchained thanks to documents pilfered from the Huntsclan databases after Rose destroyed them with the Aztec skulls back in 2007, the fact that the Unchained had created the Huntsclan was an earth shattering revelation to them.

Because of this, the former Chinese Dragon was able to pick up on the fact that Jake's knowledge of the Unchained Legion was too thorough to have come from the corrupted files salvaged from ruined Huntslairs. While his grandfather was accepting of the fact that Rose was an Unchained, Jake knew that not everyone in the magical community would be as understanding. Which was why he and his grandfather agreed not to speak of his wife's status as immortal Keyblade Master and founder of the Huntsclan to anyone. After saying goodbye to his grandpa, he walked into the alleyway and pulled out his cellphone. He speed dialed Gordon, and a few minutes later, he reappeared in Hawaii. Well, he thought. Time to get this show on the road.
[HR][/HR]First Disney world of the story is going to be a Bambi world. Since the next two stories in the Acolytes of Chaos saga will be set entirely on Earth, I wanted to feature the worlds of characters who have been summons in previous Kingdom Hearts games but haven't had their worlds appear in an actual game yet. So the next world to show up after this one will be Dumbo's. One thing to note, timeline wise, I went back over my notes and realized that I made a mistake in the date for when Kairi and her party set off from Radiant Garden, so I have gone back to Kingdom Hearts IV and corrected that.

As you can guess from the mention of Hawaii at the end of the chapter, Stitch will feature heavily in this story. I know that in this universe where space travel on Earth is more common, I could just have them take any spaceship I wanted, I decided to take advantage of the shared universe I'm building by having them travel in Jumba's spaceship. Naturally, Jumba himself will be coming along for the ride.

So to sum it all up, the basic story outline will be Sora, Jake, Stitch, Jumba, Nick Fury, and the original six Avengers leaving Earth in search of the Daybreak Coalition, while Riku, Kairi, Donald, Goofy, Captain Amelia, and Rose set off from Coalition space looking for Earth. Eventually, both groups will meet in the middle and join forces to deal with the combined threats of the Hellfire Club and the Unchained Legion. There will not be any scenes set on Earth in this story. Period. That's what the next chapter of the saga, S.A.C.K., S.H.I.E.L.D., And C.I.N. will be about: what Vanitas and everyone else is getting up to while Sora and Kairi are out in space looking for each other.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Chapter 2: Little April Shower:
The Hawaiian Islands – Pelekai House:

"Alright," Captain America called out as he loaded the last suitcase full of clothes into the storage bay of Jumba Jookiba's spaceship. "That's everything. We're good to go." At the bottom of the craft's boarding ramp, the founding members of the Avengers were saying goodbye to their significant others. Tony and Pepper were having a quiet discussion on the dangers of space travel, while Bruce and Betty exchanged emotional farewells. Bucky and Natasha's on the other hand was more quiet and calm, as was Clint and Laura's. Former S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury was currently engaged in an animated discussion with Jumba and Thor regarding the intergalactic sociopolitical structure along their route to Turo.

When Vanitas and his team had struck out at the hidden Unchained base following Maleficent's attack on Radiant Garden, they were able to download multiple files from the Legion's mainframe. Unfortunately, the files were severely corrupted and the few that weren't were heavily encrypted. It had taken almost a week just for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s computer expert Daisy Johnson to recover the handful of files they'd been able to access so far. And that was with the help of Natasha's outdated information on the Unchained Legion's cyber security software. All that Daisy had managed to dig up a list of galactic coordinates classified as points of interest to the Legion.

There was no indication from either Asgard or Earth's files why these planets were important to the quasi-immortal Keyblade Masters. But they knew that given the Legion's recent actions, nobody was under any illusions that it was anything good. As a favor to Vanitas, Sora promised that they'd stop by those coordinates and investigate on their way to Turo. So while the more recent members of the team stayed behind to protect Earth, six of the original Avengers (and Nick Fury) were accompanying Sora to the Galactic Federation capital in the hopes of finding a route back to the Daybreak Coalition on the way. Jake was tagging along, although nobody except Thor and Sora knew why the Unchained Legion had abducted his wife.

Once everyone had said their goodbyes, they all climbed up the boarding ramp and into the spaceship. Once everyone was seated and buckled in, Jumba took the ship up. Within the hour, the bright red vessel broke through Earth's atmosphere and out into space. While Stitch calculated the coordinates for their first hyperspace jump, everyone began discussing their plans for the journey.

"I figure that once this is all over," Hawkeye went on. "I'll be able to bring home some alien slime or something for my kids. I used to bring souvenirs home from my S.H.I.E.L.D. missions whenever I could, and since I've never been off Earth before, why not bring something home for the family?" Bruce nodded in agreement as he put on some headphones with relaxing music and tilted his chair back to sleep. He trusted his ability to control the Hulk in a confined, pressurized environment, but sleeping through long journeys always helped give him an extra safety net. Tony and Jumba were busy discussing spaceship engineering while Steve and Thor talked about the legends of the Keyblade War. And while Sora and Natasha were discussing her status as an Unchained, Nick Fury and Jake Long were busy making themselves food for the long flight.

"So," Fury began as he brewed a fresh pot of coffee in the galley. "What does an army of quasi-immortal madmen want with the wife of the American Dragon?" Seeing Jake's face pale at the words, he let out a small chuckle. "Just because I only have one good eye doesn't mean I don't notice things that can't be explained by science," he went on. "I knew a family of leprechauns who lived down the street from me when I was in my early teens. When I told them I'd figured it out, I was afraid it'd be like in Harry Potter, where they'd erase the memories of people who weren't magical."

"That's more of a last resort than anything else," Jake hastily tried to explain before the retired colonel got the wrong idea.

"Relax, kid," Fury replied. "They were pretty lenient on the whole secrecy thing, and I got invited to see some magical sporting events from time to time. I was there at the beauty pageant that dog of yours was in, for instance. Anyway, once I joined S.H.I.E.L.D. I realized that the magical community had to stay off the radar, because the World Security Council tended to be on the extreme side, and their approach to dealing with the supernatural world could have kick-started a war. So I did everything I could to make sure S.H.I.E.L.D. never found out. I'm pretty sure the S.A.C.K. guys have known since their inception, but that's not much of an issue since they've kept to themselves all this time."

While Jake was worried about how the Avengers would react to the supernatural community, Nick promised to do the explaining for him so that the team would understand why they never knew that dragons existed before. While Jake still helped the magical community maintain the masquerade, every year he began to feel that it was becoming more and more unnecessary. The world was strange enough that nobody would really be all that surprised to discover leprechauns and unicorns living among them.
[HR][/HR]The Great Forest – Lake Shores:

"Well," Kairi remarked as she and her party looked back across the lake at the flames rising up into the night sky. "I think this trip is off to an eventful started." With the approval of Coalition Intelligence, the five of them had bypassed the teleportation pad's shapeshifting mechanisms and beamed down to the Great Forest in human form. After all, they needed to have their full mobility if things got violent. Once they arrived at the transport point near the site, they followed the coordiates to a small island in the middle of a lake on the outskirts of the woods. From a distance, the island wasn't anything remarkable. But once they reached it, things were an entirely different story.

What they found was like something that Aqua and Lea had encountered in the Jungle in the final weeks of the Xehanort War. Yzma had been harvesting local wildlife for blood and tissue samples to use in her transformation potions. The Unchained Legion had been doing the exact same thing, although they had been adding in a ground up liquid that, upon closer inspection, proved to be a mixture of liquefied Night Howlers and various narcotic substances which made one more suggestible. The small bunker the operation was based out of was abandoned when they found it, and the three Keyblade wielders wasted no time in destroying the facility, although not before downloading every scrap of information they could to find out why the Legion was doing this.

The answer, extrapolated by Rose based on evidence since they didn't have a computer to verify it yet, was chilling.
"It was something the High Council would always talk about as an extension of The Endgame," the former Huntsgirl explained. The Endgame, she had clarified, referred to the Unchained Legion's goal of fusing the shattered pieces of the original world back together before reforming society in their image of perfection. "They wanted to find a way to get rid of those they considered impure without actually killing them. If this lab is any indication, they decided to do that by turning people into animals both physically and mentally."

"We need to forward this information to the Intelligence Network," Kairi commented as Gummi Ships equipped with fire-fighting equipment descended from the sky. "So that they can start figuring out how to take the Unchained down." Everyone nodded their heads in agreement before they returned to the spaceport. By the time they returned, the RLS Legacy and its captain had just finished with refueling and resupplying. As they cast off into the Lanes Between once more, Kairi couldn't help but wonder just what Rose meant when she referred to the Legion's "image of perfection." She just hoped that she could find Sora in time.
[HR][/HR]In regards to last chapter's little mention, I know the Mirage Arena has never actually been used outside of Birth By Sleep in terms of the story, but I decided when I came up with the idea of the Daybreak Coalition that I wanted to incorporate the Arena somehow, and a space station with a coliseum in the center seemed like the best possible way to make that happen. As for the lack of on screen action in this chapter, that's intentional. While there will be action sequences later on, Kingdom Hearts V: Balance of Power is more of a character driven story than an action driven one. So the chapters will focus more on how the cast interacts with each other than on the fighting and chase scenes.

The reason I decided to have the investigation of possible Unchained bases on the way is to provide more opportunities for new worlds or encounters with familiar characters and not have everyone just rush straight to Turo. Kairi's group meanwhile will be making a few pit stops on their way out of Coalition Space. We'll be seeing worlds for Dumbo, The Incredibles, and one last trip to Montressor (Treasure Planet) before everyone gets to Turo. The reunion on Turo will be the halfway point of the story and from there the focus will shift. I was originally planning on posting three chapters today, but there's a lot of stuff I need to get done and things are going to be a bit hectic, so I didn't want to have to worry about squeezing in two hours of fanfiction writing on top of everything else. I will resume my normal chapter posting on Monday.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Hi everyone, and thanks for waiting. Sorry for the delay in getting this chapter up, but I ended up marathoning Final Fantasy X for three days and ended up neglecting my writing. This wasn't intentional, but in my haste to finish the game before I head back to college, all the time I set aside for writing was taken up by powering through the last seven boss battles of the game. And then Thursday was crazy busy and I didn't get a chance to write. I'll try to keep my writing schedule consistent again, but since this is my last weekend before I leave home again, my parents are going to be keeping me busy with family activities so don't be surprised if you don't get any updates until Wednesday. I will be working on this story during the flight so if that happens you'll all be in for a major chapter uploading.
[HR][/HR]Chapter 3: The Circus:
The Realm Eternal – Spaceport:

"So," Tony began. "What exactly is there on Asgard that the quasi-immortal Key Bearers want so badly?" The team had emerged from hyperspace to find that their first point of investigation was none other than Asgard itself. While Thor's home world wasn't currently in any immediate danger, the alien prince insisted on giving Sora a tour of the kingdom. Everyone else in the group had visited before and knew where everything was, but since the young Keyblade Master had never seen the magnificent city, Thor decided that while they were there, he might as well give Sora a tour. "I mean, not that I don't enjoy coming here," Iron Man continued as the group walked through the streets.

"Of course you don't, Tony," Captain American remarked sarcastically. "I mean it's not like you enjoy lapping up all the attention they give you, what with being called "Lord Stark" and all." The Avengers all laughed. The billionaire's ego inflated a little every time the people of Asgard addressed him as Lord Stark, and the rest of Earth's mightiest heroes loved to tease him about it relentlessly. Particularly about the fact that the only reason he enjoyed the nickname was because he was a huge Game of Thrones fan. Even Sora, who had been introduced to the show when Tony forced him to sit down and binge it with him during the six-day period between Vanitas' arrival and their departure, couldn't help but laugh at the connection, even though the show wasn't really his thing.

"Stark's preening aside," Thor remarked. "There are a fair number of ancient artifacts in the palace vaults that date back to the Keyblade War. The Warlock's Eye, The Tuning Fork, The Eternal Flame, The Tablet of Life… All sorts of magical objects that either Maleficent or the Unchained could potentially weaponized towards their own ends." The mention of relics of the Keyblade War snagged the attention of both Sora and Nick Fury, and they quickly launched into a discussion of what these artifacts were capable of. The discussion eventually drew in everyone else in the group, except for one. Jake had taken Fury's advice and told everyone about the team, and to their credit, they wholly embraced the fact that they now had a genuine fire-breathing dragon on the team.

But that did not make it his place to share the fact that his wife was an Unchained herself and knew exactly what those relics of the Keyblade War could do. The Warlock's Eye had been coveted by the Legion since the idea of the Endgame was first conceived. A device that allowed for mass mind control that the Unchained Legion intended to use to keep the people of Earth aligned to their way of thinking. The Eternal Flame kept the Nine Realms apart, a fact detested by all Unchained, even his wife, as the other eight worlds were prevented from returning to Earth when the cycle of the Keyblade War neared its end. The whole reason that the cycle kept going, his wife had explained, was because the Earth could never be truly whole without every fragment being put back into place. As long as there were still pieces of the world drifting through the universe, the cycle had no hope of ever being broken.

The other two items were a mystery, even to Jake. All Rose would tell him when he asked what they were for after his first visit to asgard following the restoration of her memories as an Unchained was that there were some things he really was better off not knowing. While under normal circumstances, he might suspect that they involved elements of her personal history that she felt ashamed of talking about, the pure, unfiltered terror in her eyes when she begged him not to ask her about it again told him otherwise. Whatever the tablet and the fork were for, it was enough to scare even an unflappable quasi-immortal ex-Huntsgirl.

But that was a train of thought to pursue at a later date. Right now, the Jake, Sora, and the Avengers were invited guests in the Asgardian Royal palace. So as they followed Thor up to the castle to get ready for dinner, the former American Dragon kept his thoughts focused on the present as the team discussed their next destination. While Asgard didn't appear to be in any danger, everyone could tell that sooner or later, the Unchained Legion would be coming for at least one artifact in Odin's Vault. The Hellfire Club wasn't even considered a possibility. Otherwise, they would have snatched what they needed when they "liberated" Loki last month. Whatever the Legion was planning, they all agreed that it couldn't be good.
[HR][/HR]The Lanes Between – U.W.S. Ava:

"So," Skuld began as she looked out the viewport of her office as the stars streaked by outside. "They're all on the move." With fifty Firaga-class plasma guns, fifty Blizzaga-class spell cannons, a hundred Thundaga-class missile launchers, a military barracks and a sprawling office complex, the Ava was by far the largest warship in the Unchained fleet. Named after the Foreteller Vulpeus in the wake of her murder at the hands of the Foreteller Leopardos at the start of the Keyblade War. Since Ava had been the one to bring the young Keyblade initiates would become the Unchained Legion together, it was only fitting that they name their mobile headquarters in her honor.

"They are, Imperator," Praetor Gao reported. "The princess and her friends have already disrupted my laboratory in the Great Forest. I fear our testing ground will likely soon be compromised as well. Meanwhile those pathetic Avengers and that boy Sora have arrived on Asgard."

"And what of the Hellfire Club?" Skuld asked. "Where does that witch Maleficent stand in all of this?"

"It's as you've predicted," the man formerly known as Marluxia answered. "She sees us as the greater threat, and has been harassing our outlying bases for the past three days now. Her campaign is more intensive than we anticipated, and we've just lost three ships as of this morning, with maybe a dozen Legionnaires, three Decurions, and one Centurion killed in the last day alone. Forgive me for being blunt, Skuld, but as much as we're all looking forward to the Endgame, the Hellfire Club needs to be dealt with before our dream of a brighter future can move forward." Across the table, heads nodded in understanding. They were all aware of the fact that they weren't the only ones hunting for the Infinity Stones. If they were ever going to fully restore the Gauntlet of The First Keyblade Master, then they needed to clear away the competition first. Finally, High Praetor Robert spoke up.

"As you command, Imperator," he remarked. "I'll have order our fleet to launch a forward offensive against the Hellfire Club's bases. We'll cut off their retreat and force them to regroup. Once they've all gathered in one place, we'll wipe them out with a single stroke. Their recent attacks are a clear indication that they are prioritizing the removal of competition just as we are. We need to act fast if we are to have any hope of eliminating them." All hands went up in favor of the High Praetor's proposal, and the meeting was adjourned. Once the rest of the council had left, only three of the eight Unchained that made up the Legion's hierarchy remained.

Every Legionnaire had been Unchained since before the last Keyblade War began, but only Skuld, Aurilam, and Lerena had all fought together during the war. The other regional commanders of the Unchained Legion had been part of Praetor Valerie's Hunstclan initiative, and had been wiped out when the dragon-loving wretch betrayed them. As such, while she relied on the High Council for tactical advice, Aurilam and Lerena were the only ones Skuld truly felt that she could confide in when the pressure of their monumental goals began to get to her. That was why she had come to see them over the millennia as valued friends rather than merely trusted advisors.

"I know Gao thinks that the only way to purge Darkness from the world is to turn everyone into animals," Skuld commented. "But does that really justify making slaves out of such a large portion of humanity?"
"Come on, Skuld," Aurilam answered reassuringly. "So much of humanity is so far gone that there's simply no hope of them ever finding their way out of the filth and decadence of the world."

"But so many people who fall into darkness only do so out of desperation," Skuld replied. "Doing unspeakable things just to be able to put food on their family's tables. Such violence is a sign of the Darkness' influence on the universe, but they are a symptom of larger problems at work."

"All the more reason for the Endgame," Lerena countered. "We need to get humanity back on track. It's like Ephemer said, sometimes you can't remodel a building without tearing apart the old parts. Things will get ugly, but we have to make sacrifices to build a better world." Skuld shed a tear at mention of her predecessor. She'd had a crush on Ephemer ever since he lead the Unchained Legion during the Keyblade War, but she knew it was unrequited. The First Unchained had been in love with a girl from the Leopardos guild, only for her to perish at the Sinking of Atlantis. He'd never moved on from her death, ultimately mourning her for the past eight thousand years.

Skuld was beginning to have doubts, which, for a being who had been alive for eight thousand years, were never a good thing to have. She had seen civilizations crumble in the fires of the Keyblade War. The Wakanda Protectorate, the Republic of Sokovia, Blackagar Boltagon's Inhuman Empire… The war had left civilization in ruins, and in the aftermath, the Unchained Legion had witnessed empires rise and fall, and played their parts in raising them up and tearing them down. But since the rise of the Avengers, Skuld had begun to look back and question whether their dream of a restored and purified world was worth the chaos and collateral damage required to achieve it.
[HR][/HR]Information on all the artifacts hidden in Odin's Vault comes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe wikia. Remember them all, because they will all be important in the rest of this saga or the next one. This will not be the only time we visit Asgard in this story, but this time it's just a pit stop to set up some Chekhov's Guns for the rest of the Acolytes of Chaos universe. The comments Tony being a Game of Thrones fan and Asgardians referring to him as Lord Stark are more references to Child of The Storm. In retrospect, Child of the Storm was a significant influence on how I put together the shared universe my saga takes place in.

And yeah, enjoy that mental image of Sora's reaction to being forced to binge watch Game of Thrones. Nothing against the show, in fact I'm a fan, along with my parents. But we all know that Game of Thrones and anything PG rated don't mix, so I thought that would be a funny little joke. What the Tuning Fork and the Tablet of Life are for is something that's being saved for my next Kingdom Hearts fanfiction saga, Invaders From Beyond. That one, however, will be years away. Once I've finished the Acolytes of Chaos storyline, I'm going to work on other fanfiction ideas before I come back to this universe. But rest assured, I do have a plan for everything I mention in these stories. Also, the "empires rise and fall" part is based on a direct quote from Child of the Storm.
The Firaga, Blizzaga, and Thundaga weapons come from Kingdom Hearts II's Gummi Ship building system. I thought it would be fun to have the part names from the actual games be used as the official designations on the actual ship. And yeah, Skuld's role as the main villain of the saga will be a constant contrast with Xehanort's. Where old baldy was confident that he was right all the way to the end, Skuld will be constantly questioning if she and her fellow Unchained are really doing the right thing. And I decided to throw in some world building to build up some references to the geopolitical landscape before the Keyblade War started.

So yeah, I provided a bit of backstory for both Wakanda and Sokovia. I took Maria Hill's comment in Avengers: Age of Ultron (which I feel is a lot better than people say it is, but that's a discussion for another day) about Sokovia being "nowhere special but on the way to everywhere special" and came up with the idea that Sokovia used to be the capital of a thriving Keyblade War-era civilization, only to fall from its former glory when the war ended. The Inhuman empire is my way of incorporating the major Inhumans characters from the comics into this universe (since the Inhumans movie isn't happening anymore right now, I wanted to include them somehow). I didn't want to come up with a convoluted explanation for why the Inhumans in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. don't talk about them, so I came up with the idea that they were ancient Inhumans whose empire had been destroyed, and Lai Shi was the last remnant of their territory.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Chapter 4: Casey Junior:
The Circus – Train Station:

"Well I'm glad that's over with," Kairi remarked as she plopped down next to Rose on the station platform. After the hectic rush to finish things up in the Great Forest, they all decided to sleep aboard the Legacy before setting off on their journey again. Unfortunately, they were woken up in the early hours of the morning by another call from Coalition Intelligence about Unchained activity. They'd spent the entire day scouting the circus for suspicious activity before they final caught sight of Unchained Legionnaires attempting to infect the audience of the afternoon show with the potions developed in the laboratory in the Great Forest. With the threat dealt with, the quintet were taking a moment to relax as the circus staff took down tents and loaded everything back up onto their train.

Kairi couldn't help but glance at the woman next to her. While she knew that Rose was an Unchained, she had no idea what had made her desert from the Legion.

"Can I ask you something?" the princess of Heart began cautiously. "What made you defect from the Legion. I'm not accusing you of anything, I swear. I'm just curious what made you shake off eight thousand years of entrenched dogma." Rose took a deep breath as she thought back to the precise moment that caused her to question everything she'd valued for millennia.

"It all started with a bit of a complicated story," she replied. "For the longest time, Jake's dad was ignorant of the fact that he'd married into a family of shapeshifting magical reptiles. So one day, Jake gets the idea to go back in time and convince his mom to tell him the truth. His dad freaks out and breaks up with his mom, so Jake has to scramble to get his parents back together or he'll never be born. Anyway, his dad called his mom to apologize and try to make amends, but the Huntsclan, the branch of the Legion that I oversaw, had been monitoring all the phone calls in the area at the time and overheard their conversation. So we napped his dad and interrogated him."

"I watched through security cameras as our best interrogators try to convince him to give us the dragons' location, but he spat in our faces and told us that we were the monsters."

"That's it?" Kairi asked. "I find it hard to believe that Unchained aren't thick skinned after all these years."

"It was't so much the fact that he said it," Rose replied. "But his choice of words brought back old memories. During the War, there were dozens of campaigns over the course of seven years as the four guilds and the Legion waged war across the planet. One of the longest, bloodiest campaigns, second only to the Storming of Daybreak Town, was the Atilan Sieges. Three Keyblade Wielding armies against the full might of the Inhuman Empire. The Inhuman government had allied themselves with the Ursus guild to expand their borders. Renegade factions within Inhuman society, led by a woman named Jenova, had offered the Legion and the Anguis guild access to Inhuman territory in exchange for helping her overthrow King Blotagon. But things weren't that simple."

"The Anguis armies were zealous in their devotion to the light," the Unchained continued. "A lot of the field commanders in Foreteller Invi's faction were also sympathetic to the Unchained, and they shared our belief that anyone allied with Darkness was beyond saving. The Unchained within Anguis blazed a trail of fire and blood from Lai Shi to Atilan. Because Inhumans had been genetically modified by Kree scientists to be living weapons, a lot of Unchained used to, and still do, see them as subhuman. I'm ashamed to admit that in my zealous drive to avenge your – I mean, Ava's death, that I bought into that view. We had taken a village of Boltagon loyalists prisoner and Jenova was publicly executing them."

"The last prisoner in line for the execution was the king's son, Ahura Boltagon himself," Rose went on. "When Jenova asked if he had any last words or anything to say about his "monstrous" family, he said "The only monsters I know are the bigots standing right in front of me." And then Warden Lerena took his head off like she was chopping vegetables. At the time, Ahura's words didn't really have any effect, but when my future father in-law used almost the exact same words, it was like a punch in the stomach. That was when I finally opened my eyes and saw just how jaded and prejudiced the Legion had become."

"For a few years, I kept my doubts to myself," she explained. " I tried to avoid shaking the status quo. But after a while I just couldn't bury my conscience any longer. I confided in my new lieutenant in the hopes that he'd understand what I was going through, but instead he killed me, and then tracked me down in my next life and took me from my biological family, hoping to "purge my weakness with training and discipline." Thankfully, I met Jake and he helped me break away from the dogma again and by the time my memories returned, I'd burned all my bridges with my fellow Unchained."

Kairi remained silent as Rose finished her tale, and spent the next several moments contemplating what she'd learned. She'd learned more about the Keyblade War in one conversation than she had in any of Braig's vague hints and cryptic messages. She understood what had lead Rose to where she was today, and while she was reticent to simply ignore everything the blond-haired woman had done as an Unchained, she was quickly beginning to see her as a friend. As they returned to the ship discussing Rose's defection from the Legion, Kairi couldn't help but wonder how they could free Rose from her immortality without killing her. Death by X – Blade shouldn't be the only way for her or any other Unchained who came to tire of their immortality and realized how far they had fallen to release themselves.
[HR][/HR]Titan's Refuge – Chitauri Catacombs:

Lily had not had a typical childhood or a traditional education, to say the least. Because her parents' enemies were constantly looking for them, they couldn't leave the Kiln very often. That didn't mean that her childhood was all blood and killing, however. The Red Skull would read her bedtime stories, Cruella would take her shopping for clothes, and Captain Hook taught her how to defend herself. Her parents would sing her lullabies as she drifted off to sleep, and despite the relative instability of their situation, she was happy with her life. She had parents who loved her and spent all their time with her when they weren't out trying to conquer the universe. She had an extended family who took care of her when her parents were working and would protect her with their lives. She was well fed and taught how to protect herself from anyone who would try to take her from her parents.

While her living situation wasn't ideal, she was old enough to understand that her parents had to keep their location secret in order to avoid being killed or thrown in prison. She appreciated that they tried to give her more time to be a kid, but that didn't mean that she never eavesdropped on their conversations. Like right now, for instance. She was currently crouched in the shadows at the mouth of the catacombs leading down into the inner depths of their Sanctuary listening to her mother and her inner circle argue about recent developments and plan their battle tactics for the future.

"We've lost control of the tower in Corona," she heard Captain Hook comment. "Those Legionnaires are becoming more and more troublesome by the day. For every one of their bases we take out, they wreck two more of ours. We need to find their bases and destroy them."

"And how do you propose we do that, exactly?" Loki retorted. "The instant we board their ships they wipe their hard drives of any information that couple help us track their installations."

"True," came the voice of Gideon Malick, last surviving head of HYDRA. "But at the same time, I may have a lead that may help us. I've received word from our remaining HYDRA agents that Vanitas' C.I.N. agents have arrived on Earth with vital intelligence salvaged from an Unchained base on Morag."

"And?" Her father inquired. "Come on, Gideon. Don't tell me that's it. You've probably got more to it than that or you wouldn't bring it up."

"Too soon to say," Malick replied. "My sources say the stolen files are heavily encrypted and they're still decrypting them as we speak."

"Excellent," her mother added. "We'll let them finish accessing the data, steal it, and then start hunting." Lily didn't understand half of the words the adults were saying, but she got the gist of it. Those mean Legion people were getting in the way of her parents' plan to take over the universe, and they needed to wait for the goody goodies from the Coalition to finish cleaning the computer stuff that would tell them where to find the Legion's main base before they could make a move. Satisfied that she was up to date on what was going on, Lily slipped back into the catacombs and back to her bedroom before her parents came to tuck her in.
[HR][/HR]Rose's discussion of the catalyst that made her begin to question the validity of the Unchained Legion's goals basically are a broad strokes summary of the American Dragon: Jake Long episode "Hero of the Hourglass". I figured that I wanted to tie in the AD:JL mythos into Rose's motivation for turning against the Legion. I know this story has been fairly light on action so far, but I wanted to have a conversation between Kairi and Rose about the Keyblade War and the early days of the Unchained Legion, so I decided to have that be a post-battle conversation. I hope everyone caught all the easter eggs in the story of the Atilan Sieges. Rest assured, that campaign will be revisited further on in this story. Particularly Jenova's role in it and the origins of Hydra (then known as the Cult of Jenova)

For the Hellfire Club scenes, I wanted to do one chapter where Maleficent's plans were narrated from the point of view of her daughter. So I decided to do that now. I figured that Maleficent and Hades would try to protect their daughter's innocence as much as they could, but they'd still make sure that she understood what they were trying to do and why the heroes are always coming after them. Red Skull reading Lily bedtime stories is a shout-out to the recent controversial Captain America comic arc (where the Red Skull raises a little girl with reality-altering powers to be loyal to HYDRA and makes her rewrite history so that Cap is and always was a HYDRA sleeper agent) We're going to start seeing more of the Hellfire/Legion War starting in the next few chapters, so stay tuned.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Took a day off from writing to spend time with my family since my dad left for a business trip this morning. As of right now, we're a quarter of the way through Kingdom Hearts 5. I'll be uploading a lot of chapters on Wednesday since I'll be doing a lot of writing on the plane.
[HR][/HR]Chapter 5: City of Heroes:
City of Heroes – Nomanisan Island:
"Damn those Hellfire scum," Lerena cursed as she ignored the blaring sirens while storming through the corridors of the Unchained facility. The island lair had once belonged to some local supervillain named Syndrome had used the island as his secret base fifteen years ago, but had been abandoned after his death and the destruction of his "Omnidroid." Now it was a secret outpost for the Unchained Legion. The facilities were a lot nicer than that run down base on Morag in Lerena's opinion. She was just glad that Gao was the one who had to suffer through that now instead of her.

While Lerena was a true believer in the sanctity of the Endgame, she did agree with Skuld that Gao's idea of turning incorrigibles into animals was a tad too extreme. Which was why she and Aurilam had planted enough evidence at the site of her labs in the Great Forest and the Circus to attract the attention of Coalition Intelligence and let them destroy Gao's power base for them. Life in the Unchained Legion was a complex series of alliances and double crosses. When you were stuck with immortality, you tended to take long term plans like the Endgame slowly. That left too much time for rivalries and grudges to ferment within the ranks.

Ephemer's charisma made sure that everyone contributed to the plan and stayed on task. But after eight thousand years with minimal progress, the restless Unchained turned their manipulations inward, scheming to advance their position in the ranks even as they manipulated the outside world towards their own goals. And look where that got them. For eight thousand years, they had tried and failed to build empires that would spread to all corners of the globe. Rome. Britain. China. Japan. Spain. France. Persia. Time after time, they tried to build up a civilization that would unite humanity under a single banner, but mortal greed and competition among the Unchained toppled their efforts every time.

If Braig hadn't formally appointed Skuld as his successor, Lerena feared that the Legion would have torn itself apart over the line of succession. As it was, Gao and Stone were at each other's throats, while Robert spent all his time at S.H.I.E.L.D. working on ways to build himself a power base outside of the Legion. Sometimes, the blonde Unchained felt that it was only herself, Aurilam, and Skuld keeping the Legion running smoothly. The Centurions served as regional commanders, with the Decurions acting as squad leaders. The Legionnaires were the true foot soldiers of the Unchained Army, but regardless of rank everyone ultimately answered to the Novus Imperator.

But if anyone starts to sense that Skuld's having doubts, Lerena thought as she marched through the corridors towards the command center. Then it will entice the others to make a move. At least with Gao's power base broken, we can demote her if she screws up on Morag, which she probably will. Pushing those thoughts out of the way for now, she stormed into the command center and turned to the security technicians seated at the computers.

"What the hell is going on?" she demanded as she conjured her kunai in her fists. The fight with Rose in the Hollow Bastion was the first time she'd used her Keyblade since World War I, and she was determined to avoid having to use it again unless absolutely necessary. Over the millennia, all Unchained had come to view Keyblades as the cause of the ancient conflict, and only used theirs as a last resort out of shame for the destruction their brethren had caused during the Keyblade War.

"The Hellfire Club is attacking from above with Dark Elf ships," the man in charage of the base's security reported. "Aerial defenses have eliminated a few of the dropships, but two of them have managed to land in the jungle. Troops are engaging them now, but they're pressing in to the compound itself."

"Send out the old Vipers we found in the hangar," she ordered, referring to Syndrome's old helicopter-like dropships they'd discovered upon their taking ownership of the island. "Order the pilots to use aerial bombardment to take those bastards out." The technician quickly began relaying her orders over the intercom when another communications officer called out to her.

"Warden," he exclaimed. "Coalition forces have landed on the beach."
[HR][/HR]Lorwardia – Tribal Capital:

"Pitiful," Maleficent remarked as she surveyed the carbon-scored buildings all around her. "After a thousand years, the two bit thugs of Lorwardia can't be bothered to plan any further ahead than what defenseless planet they'll raid next." Lorwardia was one of the handful of planets on the fringes of the United Galactic Federation designated as "unstable territory." This referred to planets where coups and revolutions were so common that the planet lacked any semblance of a stable central government. In the case of Lorwardia, it was simply because the various tribes operated under the rule that only the strongest among them would govern their world. To that end, the five tribes were constantly jockeying for the top spot, giving no thought to long term stability beyond what they'd do once they took power.

Maleficent had come here in search of new weapons and ships in preparations for the Hellfire Club's war against the Legion. Malekith was busy spreading fear and chaos throughout Coalition space to keep the warriors of the Keyblade off her scent, with Loki and Nebula following along to keep the Dark Elf king in line. But when she saw the state that the planet of warlords was in, she felt nothing but disgust. If she was going to get the ships and weapons she needed, she'd need to take control of the planet herself. And the only way to achieve power was to challenge the chiefs of all five tribes and defeat them in single combat. It was a risky gamble, for one wrong move would seal her doom and deprive her daughter of her mother.

But between her considerable magical prowess, her skill at hand to hand combat, and the benefit of a fleet crewed by warriors personally loyal to her and her alone, Maleficent decided that it was well worth the risk. With a whirl of her hand, Maleficent stormed into the ruined chamber that passed for a throne room to whichever upstart warloard was currently in charge. With a simple Firaga spell she blasted the door inward and marched towards the throne, her long robes billowing in the wind behind her with Captain Hook and Diablo flanking her on either side. As she marched into the room, the green-skinned Lorwardian stood up and drew his weapon, a look of indignation on his face.

"Who dares enter the throne of War'tog, ruler of Lorwardia unannounced?" The muscular man demanded. Maleficent grinned insidiously as she removed her long robes to reveal the more freely moveable combat gear beneath. She knew she had him before the fight had even started. Behind her, Hook and Diablo backed up towards the door. The traditional Lorwardian ritual of deciding leadership through single combat dictated that all subordinates remain on the sidelines. Their actions told the Lorwardians that whoever these outsiders were, they had come here looking for a fight.

"I am Maleficent of the Enchanted Dominion," the green skinned fairly replied with a contemptuous sneer. "I had hoped to barter with you for ships and weapons, but given the state of your planet, the most expedient way to get what I want is to challenge you for the throne in single combat. Defeat me and my allies and I will leave you be. But if I win, you and your entire tribe will bow down to me, the MISTRESS OF ALL EVIL!" War'tog scoffed at this notion. While not actively partriacrchal, the Lorwardian's tribe was one of the two remaining factions who still looked down on women. Maleficent would enjoy putting him in his place.

"Unless," she went on. "You're too much of a coward to face me." The alien man's eyes narrowed as he stepped down from his throne and handed his cloak, his badge of office to his warriors to hold for the duration of the battle. Two Lorwardian soldiers raced outside to raise up a flag that would indicate to any of the other tribes looking to invade the capital and take over the planets leadership that there was already a challenge for leadership in progress. Tradition dictated that nobody was allowed to interfere with the duel until after its conclusion. But none of that mattered to Maleficent. Once she defeated War'tog, she would do the same to the other four tribal leaders.

And them, she would have ships, weapons, and a whole new army to replace their diminishing number of Leroys. Maleficent handed her scepter to Captain Hook and traded it for a blade. The Lorwardians, while not distrustful of magic and possessing advanced technology, valued skill with more traditional weapons above all. So all challenges for leadership were fought the old fashioned way, with swords, spears, and shields. But Maleficent knew she didn't need a shield. Her opponent was angry, impatient, unbalanced. And with a defiant roar from the upstart warlord, the battle began.
[HR][/HR]That's right, folks. An Incredibles world at long last. The gap of fifteen years between now and the original movie is a reference to the fact that the long awaited sequel is supposed to come out in 2019, fifteen years after the first one came out. Lerena's whole devotion to the Endgame is meant to be reminiscent of Gorast from Bionicle, a sadistic follower of Makuta with fanatic loyalty to their cause. Whether she will ultimately meet a similar fate to Gorast remains to be seen. I wanted to give a little insight into the power structure of the Unchained, and it's a bit like the organization structure of Neolution in Orphan Black, where the inner circle is constantly jockeying higher positions on the ladder but all ultimately reporting to a single leader.

The Lorwardians first appeared in the fourth season of Kim Possible, and I thought it would be a fun nod to show what the planet is like, given how only Warmonga and her husband ever made an appearance on the show. I figured that after losing so many ships after her failed siege of Radiant Garden, Maleficent would be looking for sources other than Malekith to rebuild her fleet. So I thought it would be fun for Maleficent to pull a Darth Maul and take control of the planet by force. For those who don't have a clue what I'm talking about, watch the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode Shades of Reason, or just google Star Wars The Clone Wars Maul vs Vizsla.

I do have plans to incorporate Star Wars into this universe, meaning that Darth Maul will show up himself. But that's not going to happen at all during the Acolytes of Chaos saga. No, all the Star Wars elements are being saved for the Invaders From Beyond Saga, which I won't even be starting for a long time yet. Anyway, now we're about a quarter of the way through Kingdom Hearts 5. I won't be able to upload a chapter tomorrow because I'll be busy packing and getting ready to go back to college. But I will be working on the story while I'm on the plane, so once I have access to wi-fi again, I'll be posting multiple chapters one after the other (probably no more than five, but
 

KingdomKey

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It's nice to have some insight on why Rose defected away from the others in the Legion. And I really like how Lily has a point of view in this story too. She's really smart and cute for her age. <3 And Maleficent taking down tribes of an alien race is pretty badass to say the least. Plus, I like how it's not so easy going for Lerena or Aurilam to reach their goals either. Everyone seems to have an end game for what they want. Although, I kind of want to see Maleficent and those who are apart of her inner circle to be granted mercy. Namely because of Lily and how they care about her. <3 And I'm glad Sora and Kairi will meet in the middle and won't end up missing each other, cause that'd suck a lot. Overall, excited to see what happens next. And glad to be caught up in time before you upload more chapters too. xD
 

KeybladeOrder

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Just a head's up, things are going to start getting a little screwy timeline-wise. As with The Xehanort War and Connected Worlds, I will upload a timeline at the end of the story that clarifies everything, but to make things clear for now, the scenes on the Incredibles world take place on the same day as Maleficent's takeover of Lorwardia, but then everything skips forward by a week. [HR][/HR]Chapter 6: Life's Incredible Again:
City of Heroes: Nomanisan Island:

"I suppose the one good thing about all the bad guys fighting each other," Rose observed as she, Kairi, Riku, Donald, and Goofy led a strike team of Coalition soldiers through the corridors of the Unchained compound on the island of Nomanisam. "Is that they use up more resources and energy fighting each other than they do on the Coalition, leaving us with greater chances of success." Kairi nodded her head in agreement as she launched a Pearl spell at an approaching swarm of Heartless the Hellfire Club had sent to attack the Legion.

"True," Kairi commented as she parried a blow from one of the Unchained Legionnaires who wasn't fighting the heartless. "But that still leaves us with twice as many enemies as usual." Riku grunted in acknowledgement of Kairi's point as he sealed the corridor behind them with a Dark Firaga spell launched at the control panel. This cut the number of opponents they were facing in half and forced the enemy forces on the other side of the door into a bottle neck for Coalition troops to deal with in one strike.

"But what are we gonna do about the Unchained?" Donald asked as he finished off the last of the Heartless with a Thundaga spell.

"Leave that to me," Rose commented darkly as she plunged her Keyblade into the chest of another immortal Keyblade Master who came charging blindly around the corner of the base. "I remember hearing about this facility from Natasha a few years ago," she explained. "We'll split up and cover more ground that way." Riku nodded as he, Donald, and Goofy peeled off and went began making their way towards the hangar to keep both sides from escaping. Meanwhile, Rose and Kairi continued their thrust towards the command center. Eventually, they came acros a sealed door. With no key in sight, they checked the other two and found only one unlocked.

Sensing a trap, they repeated the process in the next room, and again, only one door of the three they could choose from was unlocked. After following the trail for several minutes, they emerged into a large chamber with a massive oblong metal pod in the center of the room, hovering beneath a small flight of stairs. And standing at the bottom of those stairs was a former Organization member that both women were far from pleased to see again.

"Long time no see, Valerie," Lerena commented, referring to the name Rose had gone by during the Keyblade War. "I'm going to enjoy punishing your betrayal, and as for the Princess," She turned her attention on Kairi. "I'm going to enjoy putting ending you for all the trouble you caused us back when "Marluxia" and I were undercover trying to help Braig take down the Organization from within. If it hadn't been for you, Namine wouldn't have gotten ideas above her station, and Sora wouldn't have fallen into darkness. So now I get to kill you for setting us back so many years."

"And what makes you think the other six princesses won't end up collateral damage?" Rose retorted. "We both know that the Princesses of Heart are the only thing holding back the return of the Fallen Ones." Rose smirked to herself when she saw Lerena flinch at the mention of their sworn enemies' name. Even after eight thousand years, the mere mention of the Fallen Ones was enough to send chills running down the spines of even the most hardened Unchained.

While not even the Unchained Legion knew how long the Keyblade War's cycle of death and rebirth had been going on for, the one thing everyone knew was that the first Keyblade War had been fought hundreds of thousands of years ago, at the very dawn of creation itself. The Fallen Ones were corrupted servants of Darkness so powerful that not even the power of the X-Blade could destroy them. With no other way to defeat them, all the First Keyblade Master could do was banish them to the farthest corners of the universe. So far from Earth that they were flung out of the Milky Way Galaxy entirely. And in this new cycle, the hearts of the seven Princesses formed an enchanted barrier that kept all of them from returning to Earth.

It was the one thing that every Unchained, regardless of their feelings on the Endgame or the ethics of their goals, could agree on. Talzin, Chernabog, Lucifer, Vaatu; None of the Fallen could be permitted to return to Earth. That was the purpose of Stone's branch of the Legion, the Chaste: to eliminate all knowledge of the Fallen ones and ensure that the barrier that kept the demons at bay from now until the end of time. Rose was grinning now. She had her bargaining chip.

"Of course," Rose taunted. "If you're still so desperate to finish Kairi off, feel free to go ahead and try. But do you really want to be the one who starts the dominoes falling by weakening the seal that holds the Fallen Ones back?"

"You win this round, traitor," Lerena spat as she disappeared through a corridor of Light. "But the Imperator has given our old friend Robert authorization to reverse the damage you've done to the Hunstclan division." As her old friend vanished from the world, Rose's face paled in horror. Wishes granted by the Aztec skulls she'd used to destroy the Huntsclan were supposed to be irreversible, but they had originally been a weapon of mass destruction developed by the Ursus guild during the war before being hidden away so that the defenders of light couldn't get their hands on them. Although the skulls had been dispersed, Unchained spies within the Ursus ranks were able to study them enough to figure out how to undo their effects. The notes had been buried in one of the old Hunstlairs somewhere on Earth. But if High Praetor Gonzales managed to get a hold of them...

"We're screwed," Rose observed as she finished her train of thought out loud. [HR][/HR]The Lanes Between: Jumba Jookiba's Spaceship; One Week Later:

"Lorwardia!?" Jumba gased incredulously as the ship emerged from Hyperspace into orbit over the infamous green world. "What is there about slime ball planet that Legion finds so interesting?" They'd spent the last week investigating the points mapped out on the Unchained Legion's maps, and after a few refueling stops, they had finally managed to reach the second to last place they needed to investigate.

"Hang on," Tony jumped in as Stitch began working his magic under the dashboard trying to get the cloaking device Jumba had installed years ago back online. "I think I remember these guys. Weren't they the ones who sent out those giant walkers back in 2007 only to be stopped by Kim Possible but S.H.I.E.L.D. covered the whole thing up?"

"They are," Nick Fury answered with a collected nod as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "And I was hoping that Warmonga and Warhok were just extremists who acted on their own."

"It's complicated," Thor explained. "Lorwardia lacks a true government, for all the different tribes are constantly at war over the planet's throne. Those two were able to attack Earth because they were the rare Lorwardians who had the capacity to think beyond their petty day to day concerns and recognize the potential of what they could do with their technology. Ships of the make used in their attack on Earth are still built on Lorwardia, but they rarely travel farther than a few star systems from home."

"All the same," Steve commented. "We need to make sure they don't figure out that we're here." Almost as soon as the words left Captain America's lips, a fleet of warships that looked like battleaxes emerged from behind the planet, heading right towards the small ship from Earth. Before anyone could comment, their ship's console began to beep, indicating that they were being hailed. Seeing as they had no idea if they even knew who they were, Sora cautiously answered the transmission even as Jumba began to turn the ship around. The brunette Keyblade Master's blood ran cold as a familiar voice emerged over the comm frequency.

"Hello, Sora," came the voice of a familiar witch. "And here I was hoping the Tesseract had killed you."

"What do you want, Maleficent?" he demanded. His dark battle suit (nearly identical to Vanitas' only with white highlights instead of red) began forming around him as he spoke, already anticipating a fight. Fury, Jake, and the Avengers tensed as they listened to the voice of the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil" for the very first time.

"Always so blunt, aren't you," the green-skinned fairy replied coyly. "But in any case, given that you can clearly see my new armada, I think what I want should be quite clear to you." For a moment, nobody in the cockpit of Jumba's ship said anything. They all knew what this show of force was meant to accomplish: their destruction. Without warning, the comm channel closed and the armada opened fire on the heroes' ship. Stitch took the controls and dove quickly, but not before one of the lead warships score a glancing blow across the ship's stern. Alarms shrieked in the cockpit as the Avengers scrambled into their seats.

"Hyperdrive damage critical," a computerized voice announced from the ship's console. "System disabled." Everyone looked at each other in surprise and panic. Without the hyperdrive, it was going to be a race to see how long they could outrun the armada. And without a hyperdrive, they would soon run out of fuel, then the Lorwardians would reduce them to atoms. Without hesitating, Jumba put the ship into a corkscrew while Stitch crawled back through the ventilation ducts to try and fix the H-Drive himself. But despite the best efforts of both, they kept taking heavy fire. Tony was halfway into his suit (which he'd upgraded for space flight over the years) when the attacking warships began taking fire themselves.

"Attention suicidal idiots," a voice with a light New Jersey accent called out over the comm channel. "This is the Milano. We can give you a lift out of here if you're perfectly fine with not dying." With no other options, Fury replied that they would be grateful for the rescue as Jumba and Stitch put their ship on an intercept course with the new arrival. With the armada distracted, Stitch began returning fire as they prepared to dock with the Ravager ship. Sora took the lead as they scrambled into the Milano and disengaged the docking tube, leaving Jumba's old ship to drive unpiloted through Lorwardian space as the armada began to fire again. The Milano took off into Hyperspace while Jumba's classic ship was blown to pieces by plasma fire.

While Jumba and Stitch looked out the airlock window mourning the fate of the old ship that they'd grown attached to over the years, everyone else was slumped against the wall, their panic subsiding as they made their way to their next destination, wherever that may be. Sora volunteered to go up and ask the captain where they were going, and was gone to the cockpit before the rest of the Avengers could tell him that they already knew whose ship this was. So the Keyblade Master was in for the surprise of his life when he reached the upper cabin and found himself face to face with what appeared to be a walking tree. His surprise only multiplied when the tree smiled and spoke three simple words.

"I. Am. Groot."

[HR][/HR]And with that, things start to get more action packed. I was originally just have the Lorwardia subplot be your typical KH Disney world level plot in terms of importance to the overall story and have the characters move on afterwards, but then I started thinking about how that didn't really make sense, so when I came up with the idea of Maleficent pulling a Darth Maul, the heroes wouldn't get away from this completely unscathed. And yeah, the Guardians of the Galaxy are now in the picture. The next two chapters will focus on the two teams catching their breaths after the events of this chapter and Star Lord learning the identity of his father. I'll give you a hint: it's someone you all know. ;)

The bit about the Fallen Ones isn't going to come up again in this saga. It's just a little foreshadowing towards what the Invaders From Beyond Saga will focus on when I finally get around to it. I was debating whether to include this conversation or not but I decided that it would be fun to both expand the scale of the universe I'm building and so that the explanation won't come out of left field when I start the next saga. You'll all probably recognize the names of the Fallen ones references in this chapter and yes, that means that they all exist in this universe (although we won't actually be visiting the Legend of Korra's galaxy. Things are complicated enough as it is without throwing non-Disney properties into the mix).

And yes, Sora gets a dark battle suit like Riku and Vanitas to go with his dark powers that he got after The Xehanort War, and since I don't see the Vanitas remnant as being canon (at least in my head for now, I'll accept an explanation if Tetsuya Nomura or a future game can ever offer one), I gave Sora the VR's colors. That's right, people. Robert Gonzales of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the other High Praetor of the Unchained Legion. When I came up with the idea of the Legion having Fantastic Racism towards all half- or non-humans, and Gonzales' prejudice against superhumans fit that like a glove, so I thought that it would be an interesting twist.
 
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KeybladeOrder

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Sorry for the delay everyone. I just landed yesterday and after being awake for over twenty-four hours, I only had enough energy to post one chapter before I fell asleep. Another timeline clarification, the Turo scene takes place two days after the restaurant scene. Only ended up having enough battery charge to do two chapters yesterday, but I'm still going to keep doing one a day.
[HR][/HR]Chapter 7: Shooting Star Milkshake Bar:
Shooting Star Milkshake Bar – Dining Room:

"This place is pretty neat," Sora commented as the combined rosters of the Avengers and the ragtag bunch of renegades often referred to as the Guardians of the Galaxy were gathered around a large booth at the Shooting Star Milkshake Bar, one of the galaxy's premiere restaurants. After yesterday's Lorwardian fiasco, the group stopped at the nearest space station to refuel and sleep. The food they had on the space station was terrible at dinner, so Peter Quill, the owner of the Milano and the "Guardian's" de facto leader, recommended this place. "I just can't believe that the owners bought this place when they were ten," the Keyblade Master added.

"Phineas and Ferb sure do a lot of things that everyone else considers difficult or outright impossible," Jake commented with an amused laugh. "It's part of their charm." The young men in question were already out of college by now, and both had made names for themselves as two of the most brilliant minds on the planet. Even Tony thought that those two were geniuses, which was really saying something. Sora was going to enjoy holding that over Tony that the billionaire thought two kids who were half his age were smarter than he was. The laughter and merriment died down, though, when three familiar silver haired young men walked into the restaurant.

In an instant, Sora was on his feet, Keyblade in hand. What are Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz even doing here? He wondered to himself as the three illegitimate children of Sephiroth noticed him and readied their own weapons. At the sight of the impending battle, the whisper of news carried around the room from patron to patron. In an instant, every weapon in the bar was drawn and aimed at either the Keyblade Wielder or the angel's bastards.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," the bartender interrupted. You got any beef to pick with each other, ya take it outside." Reluctantly, Sora and the three Inhuman men dismissed or sheathed their weapons when Quill walked in between the two groups. That didn't stop them from glaring at each other though, but the rogue would take whatever he could get. Despite the glares, the freaks with silver hair seemed to be looking at him with a degree of curiosity for some reason.

"Ok, we all hate each other," Star Lord interjected. "I get that. But can we at least walk into a bar without trying to kill each other?" As he spoke, the trio's eyes widened, whether due to surprise or shock, Peter had no idea whatsoever. Nor could he guess as to why. After a short murmured conversation interrupted by passing a slip of paper among themselves, the three mercenaries turned around to face the heroes.

"Unfortunately not," Loz commented as he tossed Sora a piece of paper with a string of galactic coordinates printed on them. "We have no quarrel with you, Keyblade Master. Our business with Maleficent was for the sake of restoring our father to life. But if you insist on a fight, come to Maveth. We'll finish this there. On one condition." The oldest of Sephiroth's offspring turned nodded in the direction of Peter Quill. "Bring him with you." With that, the three siblings opened a Dark Corridor and turned to go.

"We'll see you there, big brother," Yazoo remarked towards Quill as the trio disappeared through the Corridor before it closed behind them. Brother? Peter wondered incredulously to himself as he stared at the spot they had once stood in shock. They can't really be related? Can they?
[HR][/HR]Deep Space – Grand Councilwoman's Office:

Grand Councilwoman Nitayata Simalan was not in a good mood this morning. Between all the pointless political bickering in the galactic congress and the ominous radio silence from the Lorwardian raiders, she was completely exhausted and desperately in need of a chance to blow off steam. If only Senator Pelekai hadn't gone back to Earth until today. Talking to Lilo was always guaranteed to brighten up her mood. Over the last decade and a half, the Grand Councilwoman had become something of a maternal figure towards the young human girl, showing her the ropes and helping her adjust to galactic society. Lilo was gaining a great deal of popularity in the council, and Simalan had pegged the girl as the best candidate for her successor.

Much of the galaxy was still disdainful towards Earth and humanity, but Lilo had a certain charisma about her that made others take her seriously regardless of the listener's species. Why, during her experiment hunting years, she'd created a metropolis of insects who began worshiping her as a god. If that wasn't proof of her ability to persuade people than what was? The girl was certainly an eager beaver, but for her to really make it in the political arena, she'd need the endorsement of multiple prominent council members. Nitayata was already starting to introduce her to some of the politicians whose support she would need at Council functions, but she still had a few more months before she needed to announce whether she was going to run or not.

All thoughts of convincing Lilo to run for the position off Grand Councilwoman in the next election were forced out of her mind by the sudden blarring of alarm bells and the violent shaking of the room. Nitayata's eyes widened in horror as she looked up at the skylight to find an entire fleet of Lorwardian battle ships raining plasma fire down on the surface of Turo. Without hesitation, the teal-skinned Grand Councilwoman grabbed the plasma rifle that she kept hidden under her desk for emergencies such as this. And just in time, too, as the shadows around the door began to convalesce into solid, vaguely familiar shapes.

With a whirl, Nitayata launched into the fray, blasting the oncoming Heartless with both her rifle and the pistol she kept holstered on her legs. Around her, her bodyguards charged into the rooms with their electro-staves and began thinning out the herd. Times like this make me glad I started carrying this pistol everywhere, the Councilwoman thought to herself with a wry smile as she pistol whipped one of the attacking Neoshadows into submission with a single strike. A few more blasts later, and she was free of the swarm. She and her guards bolted down the corridor towards the security center, and was relieved to find that the staff inside were unaffected.

"STATUS REPORT!" She demanded as she stormed into the room. "Why is Lorwardia attacking now? They've never come this far from their home world before!"

"Unknown, your excellency," one of the technicians reported. "We've bee hailing them, but they refuse to answer, and we have to deal with these monsters on top of that. The Galactic Armada is spread thin, and the defense grid in orbit has been all but destroyed." Suddenly, it clicked where Nitayata had seen creatures like these before. Aboard the Durgon, nearly twenty years ago, the memory of the Unversed outbreak was seared in her mind as fresh as if it had only happened just yesterday. And in an instant, she realized that, far from being pure coincidence, these creatures had come with Lorwardia's invasion, and the invasion was being goaded on by whoever created these creatures.

"Contact the Millano," she ordered. "Contact Earth. Send a message to anyone in all the surrounding systems who can spare the resources to aid us. This is clearly a siege, and our citadels were not designed with prolonged campaigns in mind. As the technicians around her scurried around to carry out her orders, Nitayata Nitamalin could only offer up the silent hope that they would last long enough for help to arrive. Because otherwise, we don't stand a chance, she thought desperately to herself. We can only hope that Aqua or someone like her with the skills to handle this outbreak hears our message and comes to remove these creatures from the equation.
[HR][/HR]I thought it would be fun to include the alien diner that Phinease and Ferb accidentally bought as a fun little Easter Egg for where the heroes can go for food. It'll probably be a recurring location for clandestine diner meetings just like the Lucky Cat Café from Big Hero 6 has been in earlier stories. And now things are starting to heat up in terms of action. We'll be coming back to the invasion of Turo in a few chapters, where it will be a major focus and the source of Sora and Kairi's reunion.

I've had the idea of Maleficent invading Turo since before I ever came up with the idea of the Acolytes of Chaos saga, and I figured that if I was going to give the Grand Councilwoman a POV section, I had to come up with a vaguely sci-fi sounding name. Since I've heard her be compared to the "Greys", the generic model of aliens everyone thinks of when they think of the word extraterrestrial, so I decided to make her name an anagram of Tatiyana Maslani, the lead actress of Orphan Black who plays multiple different characters all with their own distinct personalities and identities.

When I decided to have Earth already be part of the Galactic Federation, I began thinking of what Lilo's working relationship with the rest of the galaxy was like. Do the other planetary representatives look down on her because Earth is more low tech compared to their own worlds, how do they see here as an individual, etc.? And then, as I was writing this chapter, I had the sudden surge of inspiration: have Lilo be well liked enough that the Grand Councilwoman and a few other councilors think that she should run for the position as head of the Federation. I can see it now: Vote for Grand Councilwoman Lilo Pelekai.

And yes, you read that right, folks. Forget Ego the living planet. In this universe, Peter Quill's dad is Sephiroth! I came up with this idea originally as a joke about how crazy everyone's guesses about the identity of Star Lord's dad were, and then I realized that it kind of made sense given what we knew of him: not human, has something ancient in his DNA (Jenova), etc. Peter's mom's cancer could be written off as the effects of Jenova on the body in this universe, and I could give at least one of the Guardians something to do in the story besides fight and shuttle the Avengers everywhere until they get a new spaceship.

As you can guess, the invasion of Turo will be ultimate site of the Sora/Kairi and Jake/Rose reunions. Next chapter will cover the encounter with Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz, along with the villains' (both the Disney villains and the Unchained) perspective on the invasion of Turo.
 

KeybladeOrder

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I know I already revealed that Sephiroth is Quill’s dad back in Connected Worlds, but I figured some readers might have needed a refresher to remind them. [HR][/HR]Chapter 8: One Winged Angel:
Maveth – Angel’s Fortress:

Peter Quill, known throughout the galaxy as the legendary rogue Star Lord (although that had more to do with his actions in saving Turo from Ronan than his status as a semi-reformed thief), was not an easily surprised man. With how crazy his life was compared to his early childhood on Earth in the early 1980s, he had pretty much seen it all. The idea of his long lost father as a planet hopping assassin for hire shouldn’t have surprised him. But when combined with the fact that his dad had been dead for years and he had three half-brothers who had the chance to know their father growing up, it rocked him to his core.

They had arrived on Maveth fully intent on confronting the silver-haired trio over their role in this “Hellfire Club’s” attack on Asgard last month. Sora wanted to stop them before their actions hurt anyone else, while Star Lord was curious to find out if they really were related. They were greeted at the door by a grouchy looking man named Hojo, who introduced himself as the butler of the small castle where the three warriors lived. Hojo was apparently the father of some guy in the Coalition Army that a mercenary named Sephiroth was cloned from. Hojo had been taken from his home planet of Radiant Garden after its near-destruction, an event that Sora and the cataclysm’s survivors referred to as The Fall.

Sora had explained to Quill the gist of where he had come from and the whole Keyblade mythos, but it was a lot to take in at once. Anyway, once inside, they were escorted to the dining room, where the three silver-haired mercenaries insisted that the outlaw, the dragon, and the Keyblade Master join them for dinner. The Avengers and Quill’s fellow “Guardians” had been asked to wait outside, while Jake had been asked to come along because dragons (and Quill was amazed to learn that dragons and other supernatural creatures were real) were often asked to be neutral mediators.

Before anyone was willing to eat, Quill insisted on asking what they had meant when the silver-haired trio referred to him as their brother. Kadaj had obliged by telling him the story of their father, Sephiroth. As proof, they produced the communications records of the infamous “One-Winged Angel” contacting Yondu and offering him 40,000 Units to pick the young Peter Quill up and deliver him here to Maveth. With that shred of proof, the pieces began to fall into place, and Peter broke down in tears, demanding to know where their father was now.

“Ask him,” Kadaj replied angrily, pointing an accusing finger at the brunette Keyblade Wielder sitting next to him. Confused, Quill turned to Sora with a look of hopeful expectation on his face.

“Sephiroth’s last job was to capture two friends of mine,” Sora answered. “He hunted them across half a dozen different worlds until they finally managed to drive him off. He showed up again in the middle of a huge battle between the Coalition, the Hellfire Club, and Organization XIII. A bunch of us ended up having to fight him when he came after us in the middle of the battle. He died in that fight.” For a few moments, Quill could only gape at the younger man in shock as the fact that the father he never knew was dead hit him with the force of a jackhammer. After taking a few minutes to process this, he studied Sora with a look of hardened anger on his face.

“Did you strike the final blow?” he demanded. He liked the kid, but he was torn on how to react to the news of his father’s death. On the one hand, from the way Sora and Yondu had both described him, Sephiroth was a ruthless mercenary who killed for profit and whose favorite pastime was tormenting the guy he was cloned from. But on the other, from his half-siblings’ stories, he genuinely cared about his children and the women who gave birth to them. Sora returned his glare with a look of sympathetic honesty that said he knew how the older man was feeling.

“No,” Sora responded. “Cloud, the guy your dad was cloned from, was the one who did that.” Quill nodded in tearful understanding. It made sense that the guy his dad had tormented for over a decade would want to kill the person who’d been killing the people closest to him. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to forgive “Uncle Cloud” as Kadaj called him, for depriving him a chance to know his father, but he at least understood why his father had died. Kadaj walked over from across the table to place a comforting hand on his brother’s shoulder.

“If you ever want to talk to us about him,” the youngest of Sephiroth’s children said. “We’ll be right here.”

“Thanks,” Peter replied. “But right now, I just need some time to be alone.” With that, Quill got up and strode out of the castle back to the Milano. He still intended to talk to his brothers and get to know them, but now he just wanted to process the info dump he’d just been given in solitude. While Jake eyed the outlaw’s silver-haired brothers warily, Sora just stood up and looked at them.

“Coalition Intelligene figured out why you’ve been working for Maleficent,” the Keyblade Master explained. “I get that you’re trying to bring you dad back from the dead. I understand why you’re doing it. If it was my dad, I’d be trying to do the same thing. But as much as I can sympathize with what you’re doing, your dad still killed a lot of people. And it’s my duty as a Keyblade Master to make sure that he doesn’t kill anyone else. I just want you to know that even though I still have to stop you, I get it.” And with that, he and Jake stood up and followed Star Lord back outside to the spaceship. He wasn’t worried about being making sure they didn’t get away. If they turned up in Coalition Space, Mickey, Aqua, and the others would take care of them, and if they ended up on Earth, Vanitas’ team would make sure they didn’t hurt themselves or others. [HR][/HR]Deep Space – U.W.S. Anguis:

At last, thought the man known to his associates as Stone as he looked out the windows of the warship’s bridge at the Lorwardian and Dark Elf spaceships tearing through the spaceships and gunnery stations in orbit of the Galactic Federation capital. The Hellfire Club can be culled from the universe, and the Unchained Legion can finally take possession of the Infinity Stones. As a Praetor of the Legion’s High Council, Jasson Sobolov and the troops under his command were charged with protecting Earth from the darkness of the Fallen Ones. While the power of the Princesses of Heart combined with the X – Blade itself kept them at bay, a group of the dark entities’ followers called The Hand had been working to kill the seven and destroy the X – Blade in order to allow the Fallen Ones to return to Earth. But that war was a costly one.

Unchained were reincarnated when they died as long as they weren’t killed by the X – Blade. But it took twenty-one years for their memories to return so that the sudden rush of recollection won’t drive them insane. And the battles against The Hand ended up with a high level of casualties on both sides. To keep the ranks filled while reincarnating Unchained matured, Praetor Gao’s research and development branch created a series of multi-colored pills which boosted the subject’s strengths to superhuman levels for a few hours, just long enough to battle agents of the Hand in an incursion.

But then one day, a suicidally stupid and self-centered soldier they’d recruited through a front organization by the name of Bill Simpson, idiotically assumed that taking more of the red pills which boosted strength would increase it further. The massacre in Damascus resulted in Simpson’s suspension from the program and strict regulation of the pills’ dosage. And then while dealing with that pathetic little mind controller Kevin Thompson, Simpson overdosed again, and the Chaste had snatched him up themselves. As punishment, Simpson was reduced to serving as Gao’s lab rat as she tried to figure out how to make the strength enhancements last longer, just like he wanted.


Irony could be a wonderful thing sometimes, but a few years back, the Hand broke into the facility where the pills were produced, destroying everything and wiping away the notes. With the mortal agents taken out of the picture, the ranks of the Chaste Battalion were dwindling rapidly. And now Gao’s laboratories were being discovered and destroyed. Sobolov was not blind. He knew an attempt to reduce Gao’s power base when he saw it. He’d orchestrated more than a few himself over the last eight thousand years. And while he bristled at the losses the Chaste were suffering as a consequence, he was glad to finally have someone knock Gao down a few pegs. Her little project for the Endgame was a bit disturbing in his opinion.


“Speak of the devil,” he murmured aloud as he glanced down at the console in front of him. He tore himself away from the glorious symphony of combat going on outside the ship to see a light blinking to indicate an incoming transmission from Gao’s last remaining laboratory on the abandoned world of Morag. Sighing, he pressed a button, and a semi-translucent video screen appeared in midair above the console. “To what do I owe the pleasure, Praetor Gao?” he asked, with enough false enthusiasm for anyone but an Unchained to mistake for genuine curiosity.

“Spare me the theatrics, Stone,” Gao retorted, and the man blinked. It was unlike Gao to ever be this worked up. She usually dealt with every setback with the same serene calm that she always did. Perhaps she’s figured out that her power base is being targeted by one of the other High Councilors, he mused to himself. She wouldn’t be so revealing if she suspected me, though, which narrows it down to everyone but the Imperator.

“Well then what do you want?” he replied, annoyed at the interruption since he was needed to coordinate the battle. With High Praetor Gonzales busy trying to build his own power base on Earth, Stone was looking to increase his own influence by taking the man’s place as head of the war fleet, and had already managed to earn himself this small battle group in time for the Hellfire Club to attack Turo. Knowing they were going after the Infinity Stone and eager to earn himself more purchase in Robert’s sphere of influence, he’d taken thirteen ships and rushed off to the galactic capital to quell the Club’s latest campaign. But Gao was so worked up that she didn’t even bother trying to play word games with him.

“That boy and the off-world Avengers have found our facility on Morag,” she replied. “They’re cutting through the defenses like butter and they’re heading for the lab. I need reinforcements.” Stone froze, realizing the opportunity this presented for him. He could send a few dropships full of Unchained back to Morag to pull Gao out of the fire, or her could leave her there to burn. Even if she survived, her powerbase would be non-existent, and he could easily have her replaced on the High Council with someone who would be loyal only to him. And once he toppled Gonzales, he could promote Stick to head of the Chaste to fill his original seat as Praetor. Looking at the potential rewards, there was only one choice Jasson could make.

“I’m sorry, Gao,” he answered. “But all of my ships are busy exterminating the Hellfire Club. Without Robert, most of the Unchained fleet will be tied up chasing down the villains’ bases. I’m afraid that you’re on your own.” He sneered as he cut off the communications link over Gao’s uncharacteristically frantic protests. She built her funeral pyre, he thought to himself as he looked up at the kaleidoscopic explosions of light and color as Hellfire and Unchained ships took shots at each other. Let her burn in it.

[HR][/HR]More of the Unchained Legion backstabbing each other from within. The full extent of the plotting and double crossing will be revealed over time, and the source of the information leaks will be revealed at the end of the story. I wanted to give Stone a real name since like Stick, it’s an alias, so I decided to mash up the names of the two actors who play him in the series, Jasson Finney, who actually plays him physically, and David Sobolov, who provides his voice for his one line of dialogue in the first season. And yes, I’ve just tied the backstories for the Hand from Daredevil, as well as Bill Simpson from Jessica Jones into the overall mythos of this universe.

That’s right Final Fantasy VII fans. I’ve finally brought in Hojo. I was trying to think of a way to incorporate him into the story in a way that didn’t involve adding more complexity to the Fall of Radiant Garden, and as I was writing this chapter, I had the suden inspiration of having Hojo be the butler/caretaker for Sephiroth’s little retreat on Maveth. So yeah, Hojo is Sephiroth’s butler in this universe. You all know from The Xehanort War that Sephiroth is basically Cloud’s Vanitas (so yeah, Hojo is Cloud’s dad instead of Sephiroth’s in this universe), but the Guardians of the Galaxy can’t really wrap their heads around that so they just interpret it as basically being a clone.

Sora and the Avengers going after the Unchained base on Morag (which is the planet where Peter Quill snagged the Orb at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy by the way) will happen next chapter. The confrontation on Maveth happens the day before the Hellfire Club attacks Turo. As you can all pretty much tell, the Invasion of Turo is going to fulfill the same role in KH5 that the Battle of Knowhere filled in KH4.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Just for clarity as far as the timeline goes: the scene on Morag takes place right as Maleficent is attacking Turo, while the Treasure Planet scene occurs the day before. [HR][/HR]Chapter 9: Morag:
Morag – Unchained Laboratory:

Damn him! Praetor Gao fumed to herself as she stormed through the corridors of her currently besieged laboratory. Stone is clearly preparing to take advantage of my misfortune in order to enhance his own power base. Very well. If I have to keep clawing my way to hold onto my position, then so be it! Gao had originally started out as a low ranking Legionnaire back when the Unchained Legion was first formed. She was one of the last to be recruited by Foreteller Ava before her untimely murder at the hands of the Foreteller Leopardos, and her fellow Legionnaires had looked down on her during the Keyblade War as a “latecomer.”

Her fellow soldiers’ smug superiority over having been chose before her always made her blood boil. So she had spent the last eight millennia clawing her way to the top of the pyramid. She fought to improve her own station within the Legion, and she had come too far to let sabotage and sneak attacks by the corrupted Princess and her fallen fiancé destroy her power base now. Her monologuing was interrupted by the sound of one of her lab technicians calling out for her as she marched towards the compound’s command center.

“What is it!?” she sapped as the technician scrambled to catch up to her.

“Our inner defenses have been breached,” the nervous tech answered, shaking in fear of his commanding officer’s wrath. “That boy and his compatriots have broken through into the compound itself. The laboratory has been compromised.” The trembling researcher ducked as Gao slammed her fist against the wall of the corridor in rage.

“NO!” She roared. “HOW DID THEY GET INSIDE!?” The stuttering lab technician took several seconds for him to work up the courage to answer her enraged question.

“Th.. the…. They had access to security codes…. My Lad – “ the researcher was cut off when Gao slammed her Keyblade through the man’s chest. While forcing your subordinates to reincarnate was frowned upon by the rest of the Legion due to the temporary reduction of resources, Gao was beyond caring at this point. The seat of her power was under attack! She had no time for sniveling flunkies. As the man collapsed to the floor, her mind was already calculating the implications of the news. The false defenders of light had access to Unchained security codes. That could only mean that there was a leak in their communications network.

While it was always possible that the traitors Rose and Natasha had left the codes behind as leverage in the event of their capture, their spies indicated that Rose had been out of the loop for too long to maintain accurate knowledge of the Legion’s security clearance codes. And while Natasha Romanov kept herself hacked into the communications network constantly, she kept her past as an Unchained to herself and withheld knowledge of the Legion from her colleagues. In any case, while she may have been able to tell her fellow “Avengers” what the facility on Morag was for, she’d been locked out of the network for the past two weeks so she would not be able to tell them how to get in.

That left Stone as the only possible source of the leak. It was just like the commander of the Chaste to pull a stunt like that to increase his own power. While their shadow war against The Fallen Ones and their followers was an important priority, Stone was an imbecile for believing that the Endgame was irrelevant next to the Hand. It was also no secret that he disdained her proposed method of cleansing the Earth of infidels and irredeemables for the Endgame. Putting all those facts together, it was perfectly in character for him to leak enough information to their enemies to allow for her laboratories to be destroyed and her support base crippled. Only now, it appeared that he was finally going for the full court press to destroy her power base all together.

Fool, she cursed to herself as she resumed her march to the command center. All you’ve done is shine a spotlight on the Legion and draw all of our enemies right to us. Unfortunately, when she arrived in the central hub of the base, the company was entirely different. Instead of being greeted by weary but loyal Unchained Legionnaires, she found herself face to face with the warriors who had spent the last hour tearing through her base. Oh hell, she groaned silently to herself as she drew her Keyblade and slid into her customary fighting stance.

“I suppose I should congratulate you all on getting this far,” she remarked calmly, her face not even registering a hint of her barely restrained anger. “After all,” she went on. “It’s not everyday that the Avengers or one of the famed heroes of the Xehanort War.”

“Great,” Iron Man sarcastically retorted. “The scary immortal Keyblade Master knows who were are.” Gao fought to keep the surprise off her face. While their spies had confirmed that Vanitas’ group of C.I.N. agents had made it to Earth and were currently aiding S.H.I.E.L.D., their sources did not say that they had made contact with the Avengers as well. Sora had already been transported to Earth by the time Rose had outed them to the Coalition, so that was the only way they could have learned of the Unchained’s existence.

Madame Gao didn’t say anything in response. She only grinned like a shark as she realized the perfect way to eliminate these intruders once and for all. From the folds of her robe, she produced a cluster of transformation potions she had been working on to deal with subjects who were not worth the effort of turning into livestock or game animals. Insect potions for those who needed to be destroyed once and for all. Everyone had clearly recognized what they were dealing with, for the former American Dragon immediately transformed into his disgusting reptilian form while Sora prepared his Keyblade and the traitorous Asgardian prince began swinging his hammer.

“I’m afraid that I cannot allow you to leave this facility alive,” she explained. “My rival is busy attacking the galactic capital, and I must punish him for his latest attempt to undermine my power base. Unfortunately for you, I must grind you under my heel like the insects you are.” With they, she wound up to throw, but before she could let the potions loose, three things happened. The first thing was that the American Dragon spat a ball of fire at the vials, causing them to explode and spill the potion all over her instead. The second was as she was shrinking down and transforming into a small insect, Thor flung his hammer at the space where she had been standing. He’d thrown overhand, so he missed where her head was standing and smashed down on her insectoid form. The last think Gao knew before her soul left her body for her next incarnation was the oozing squish of Mjolnir crushing down on her head. [HR][/HR]Treasure Planet – Benbow Inn; One Day Before The Invasion of Turo:

“You’re sure that the defenses will be minimal?” Kairi asked as she sat in a small corner table facing Vanitas’ informant once more. They’d arrived on Montressor a week ago and had been staying at the Benbow Inn while Captain Amelia was busy acquiring the necessary travel documentation for her passengers. The cat-like alien had just called to inform them that she was on her way back to Montressor with the papers and that they would be ready to set off for Turo that evening. After a week of sitting around looking for any trace of Sora in Federation news (figuring that not even being thousands of miles from home would stop him from doing what he did best), they were all eager to get back on the road.

“Positive,” Loki answered as he sipped his tea. “Maleficent’s forces will be concentrating their firepower on Turo in order to draw the Legion out of their shell. She doesn’t trust Malekith and his conspirators, so she’s going to keep them by her side at all times. In the meantime, only a token garrison will be left behind to defend the Titan’s Sanctuary. This will be the ideal time for you to infiltrate the facility and strike. With such a sudden attack on her seat of power, Maleficent will be forced to divert part of her fleet away from her invasion of Turo in order to protect the Sanctuary.”

“But then who will deal with the Unchained and the other half of Maleficent’s fleet?” Kairi retorted. “Us?” While Kairi had come far in her Keyblade training and she had two Keyblade Masters by her side, she doubted they’d be able to handle three separate armies all on their own. On the opposite side of the dining room, Donald and Goofy helped Mrs. Hawkins wait tables while Riku and Rose were having a sparring match out in the backyard.

“No,” Loki replied with a chuckle. “I have it on good authority that your fiancé and my brother’s friends from Earth are making their way towards Turo as we speak. The Unchained and the Club will cripple each other’s fleets, Sora and the Avengers can mop up the rest, and you and your friend can have your happy reunions with your beloveds.” Kairi blinked, stunned at the admission. Is he serious? She thought to herself nervously, although buried beneath the layers of compounded disappointment, the tiny ember of hope in her heart began to swell up into a raging fire once more.

“He’s already on is way?” she repeated hopefully. She was anxious to find Sora again and if she hadn’t imagined what Loki just said, she’d be seeing him much sooner than she had expected. While she was speaking to the Jotun sorcerer, Donald and Goofy had finished carrying plates and were making their way towards her. They had overheard her exclamation and were eager to see Sora again as well, although for entirely different reasons. Meanwhile, Riku and Rose had come in from their sparring session and were heading towards the table to ask Kairi what was going on.

“He is,” Loki answered with a knowing smirk. “They should arrive at Turo shortly after the attack begins by my estimations. Here are the coordinates for the Sanctuary.” He moved a slip of paper with a series of numbers and letters scribbled down on it. “Now if you’ll excuse me,” he went on. “I need to return to the staging area before Maleficent takes notice of my absence.” With that, the prince of Asgard stood up and faded away in a glow of green light. Almost as soon as he had left, Captain Amelia walked in and announced that they had the passports they needed.

“Change of plans,” Kairi told her. “We’re going to be making one last detour on our way to Turo.” Just a little bit longer, Sora, she thought to herself. We’re almost there.

[HR][/HR]So yeah, the outline of the battle has been established: half of each battle chapter will focus on Sora, the Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting off the Hellfire Club and the Unchained Legion, and the other half will be Kairi’s team launching a sneak attack on Maleficent’s lair. Originally going to have Terra, Aqua, and Ven show up to help with a whole fleet of Gummi Ships and fight of the armada in time for Sora to swoop in and save the day, but after killing off Ven and Yuffie and deciding to have Maleficent move bases one more time, so I had Kairi attack the Sanctuary to diver the Hellfire Club’s forces away from Turo and force them to abandon the base.

And yes, Kairi will meet Lily and talk about the fact that her parents are megalomaniacal conquerors. That will certainly be an interesting conversation as Kairi will have to wrestle with the question of how to react to that little revelation. Anyway, now it’s beginning to look as if the Unchained believe that there’s a traitor in their midst, or at least a leak somewhere in their communications network. All of those affected have different ideas about who it is (Gao thinks it’s Stone, for instance, while Stone has his own ideas), but what exactly is going on will not be revealed until later in the story.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Chapter 10: Deep Space:
Deep Space – Outer System:

“Whoa!” Sora gasped as the Milano emerged from hyperspace into a massive three way space battle between the Hellfire Club, the Unchained Legion, and the rapidly dwindling defenders of the Galactic Federation’s capital. Even from the edge of the system, the Keyblade Master could see that Turo was going to end up roasted no matter which faction won the battle. Especially if either Maleficent or the Unchained managed to get their hands on the Infinity Stone locked deep inside the planet’s capitol building. Quill had explained about the stone on the way there, and now two of the largest remaining enemy factions in the universe had come to claim it as their own.

“Alright kid,” Tony began, snapping the brunette out of his shock. “You know these guys better than anyone. What are we up against?” Sora blinked, and a quick glance around the cabin confirmed that both the Avengers and the Guardians were looking to him for leadership. He felt a sense of pride as he realized that Tony had a point. He’d fought the Hellfire Club for years, he’d memorized their battle tactics, how a lot of their members thought, what motivated them. Sora humbly thanked everyone for having so much faith in him before getting right down to the pre-battle briefing.

“The Lorwardian ships are a new thing for the Club,” he began before looking at Nick Fury. “But I figured that since Earth has dealt with them before, S.H.I.E.L.D. might know how to deal with them.” As expected, the former director nodded in agreement.

“Possible and Stoppable informed us that the ship they dealt with had an off switch in the engine room,” Fury answered.

“Great,” Sora replied. “Now the Heartless pirate ships they use are vulnerable on all of their external parts: attack the wheels, the canons, and the skull on the bow, and the ship will fall apart. All Heartless, airborne or grounded, Pureblood or Emblem, are immune to being destroyed by blunt force. You need to go after them with a cutting edge in order to defeat them. I don’t have as much experience with the Unchained, but their ships are all made from Gummi Blocks using common Coalition designs. I know enough about the models they’re using now to point out their week spots. We’ll have to split into three groups: one team will go after the Unchained, one to take out the Lorwardian ships, and another to go for the Heartless fleet.”

“Jake packed some magical air capsules,” the Keyblade Master went on. “So he can fly two teams aboard the Lorwardian ships and commandeer extra ships: one to shuttle his own team from ship to ship after they hit the off switch on each one, and another to take the team to hit the Heartless pirate ships. The rest of you will stay aboard the Milano and take out the Unchained warships. Are there any questions?” Sora’s sense of pride only increased when nobody on board the small spaceship questioned his leadership. They all trusted him.

“Alright,” he continued. “Then here are the teams: Stitch, Jumba, Fury, Romanov, and Barton, you’ll be taking on the Heartless armada. Quill, you and your team stay here and go after the Unchained fleet. Stark, your armor is capable of space flight, so you’ll be providing support to either of those two groups. The rest of us will be taking out the Lorwardian fleet. Banner, we’ll need the Hulk to give us an edge for when we actually have to fight any Lorwardians on board. Now let’s move.”

It was a testament to Sora’s skill as a warrior, charismatic leadership, and ability to simply inspire everyone around him that everyone cheered enthusiastically. Even though Bruce Banner was always wary of the Hulk, even the “Other Guy” couldn’t help but be inspired. There were very few people who the Hulk would ever take orders from. Captain American was one. And now Sora was another one. Without argument, the three groups all got into position. Jake passed out air capsules to nine of the eleven grouped around the airlock. Tony put on his face plate while Sora allowed darkness to form the all-environment body suit and accompanying helmet around his body.

Once everyone was ready, the airlock opened, the air capsules acticated, and the two teams were flung towards the nearest Lorwardian battle cruiser while the Milano peeled away and began firing on the nearest Unchained warship. Sora cast a high powered Reflega shield to deflect incoming laser fire from the group before cloaking everyone except Iron Man, who had already split off to draw the Lorwardian’s fire away from the infiltration teams, with a Vanish spell. The nine heroes held their breaths as they silently fell towards the garbage hatch Fury had explained were on Lorwardian vessels.

True to form, the garbage chute opened and began dispensing large sacks of spaceship waste out into the stars. Pulses quickening, the group deftly dodged the oncoming trash and narrowly slid inside the bowels of the Lorwardian ship just as the hatch slid closed. Once they were inside the relative safety of the enemy battle cruiser, everyone turned to Sora to give out orders. Even Nick Fury, who prided himself on being in control of the situation at all times, acknowledged that the young Keyblade Master was more qualified to coordinate the battle at this time. A few minutes later, the ship’s security forces were all focused on the emergence of a gigantic green figure who was tearing the inner workings of their ship apart.

While the Hulk kept the ship’s security distracted, the two teams split up. Jumba, having been to Lorwardia back during his “Evil Genius” days knew the layout of their ships well enough for him to lead Stitch, Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye to the hangar. Thanks to Banner going green and keeping the guards busy, the launch deck was relatively unguarded. While the Heartless extermination squad commandeered a Lorwardian troops shuttle, Sora was about to lead the rest of his team to the engine room to turn off the off switch when Steve offered a better idea.

“With security focused on the Hulk,” Captain America explained. “They’ll be too busy worrying about Banner to notice us until we’ve already ambushed them and taken control of the bridge.” The captain didn’t need to finish his sentence. The dots connected themselves in everyone else’s heads. If they could get control of the bridge and start firing on the rest of the fleet, then they could disrupt the battle because the Hellfire Club would be too confused to figure out which ship was the one that had been boarded.

“Great idea,” Sora replied. “We’ll hit the bridge then. And hope they don’t figure out what’s going on until it’s too late for them.”[HR][/HR]Titan’s Sanctuary – Maleficent’s Throne:

“You know,” Kairi observed as the last Heartless vanished in a large cloud of smoke. “I know our source said that this place would only be lightly defended, but I was at least expected more of a challenge. I figured that we’d encounter more of those Leroy clones and not more Heartless. I thought Maleficent had learned by now that it’ll take more than just a swarm of those things to slow us down.” While Rose would have been hesitant to call that battle easy (for even quasi-immortal Keyblade Masters needed to strategize against their opponents instead of simply rushing in and cutting through monsters like butter), Kairi did have a point. Loki’s intel indicated that the asteroid base’s defenses would be lowered, but he hadn’t said that it would practically be a skeleton crew.

“They may have more troops waiting in the catacombs,” she suggested. “They probably figured that if anyone were to ever fly by, the Heartless could hide in the shadows and convince passersby that the compound was abandoned. Kairi nodded in agreement. It did make a good deal of sense. The only question now was how may guards were left inside the catacombs. That question was quickly answered when they walked into the first intersection just as a squad of Leroys rounded a corner from one of the surrounding tunnels and spotted them. From there, it was a flurry of action until they were able to duck inside a small room hidden in one of the side tunnels.

They were surprised when they found a little girl sitting amidst a pile of books and drawings in what was clearly a child’s bedroom. For a moment, the five heroes could only stare in stunned silence as they pondered who this girl was and what she was doing here. Their first guess would have been that she was a prisoner, but the door was unlocked and she was clearly being well cared for. Before anyone could say anything, the girl looked up from her drawing and began to slowly back away from them.

“Are you here to kill my mommy and daddy?” the girl asked nervously.

“What!?” Kairi exclaimed. “No, no, sweetie. I wouldn’t do that.”

“That’s not what daddy said,” the girl replied. “He said that the Coalition would destroy them if they were ever found.” Suddenly, it clicked to Kairi just why this little girl seemed so familiar. Her skin was more of a turquoise color, but even at a young age, the Princess of Heart could tell that the girl had inherited her mother’s chin.

“Is… Is Maleficent your mother?” Kairi asked, unsure of if she was just grasping at straws of this girl really was Maleficent’s daughter. However her theory was confirmed when the little girl nodded. Well this just got more complicated, she thought to herself as she shot a glance back at Riku, conveying “I know Maleficent and Hades are likely to be executed for everything they’ve done, but we can’t let his little girl who’s never done anything wrong grow up an orphan because of her parents’ choices” with nothing but her eyes and facial expression. Thankfully, Riku got the message as he nodded in approval. He’d back her up when she explained to the Coalition legislature why Maleficent and Hades couldn’t be given the death penalty. Donald and Goofy nodded in support as well, and Kairi breathed a sigh of relief as she turned back to face Maleficent’s six year old daughter.

“Look, sweetie,” the Princess of Heart began. “Your parents have broken a lot of laws and done some very bad things, and they have to go to jail for what they did, but I promise you that we’ll bring them in alive.”

“Pinky promise?” the girl asked in a cautious voice that just about broke the hearts (not literally) of all those present.

“Pinky promise,” Kairi replied. “Now we have to get going now, okay?” After a few goodbyes, Kairi and the rest of her team slowly and quietly filed out of the room and closed the door behind them. No need for the girl to get caught in the crossfire. But as they crept back through the catacombs towards the exit, all Kairi could think about was how she was going to strangle Loki for not warning them that Maleficent was raising a child in the middle of her headquarters.

[HR][/HR]And so the battle of Turo has begun. I’m trying to give these next couple of chepters the feel of something extremely large in scale. The battle will be raging on, but I want to keep the focus on the main characters as they fight their way across the Turoan solar system. But this is probably going to be one of the three largest scale battles in the entire Acolytes of Chaos saga. To give you all an idea of how large the battle really is, picture the battle of Quell, Salleucami, and Sullust, from Star Wars: The Clone Wars combined with the battle at Zarkon’s central command in the season 1 finale of Voltron: Legendary Defender. So yeah… Pretty big.

Anyway, now Kairi had met Lily and learned the uncomfortable truth that one of the greatest villains of the Kingdom Hearts universe is a mother. As you’d expect, this is going to present an interesting conundrum for the heroes. Obviously, Maleficent and her allies probably deserve the death penalty (or at least life in prison in some cases depending on the severity of their actions) for everything they’ve done, but that would also mean making Lily an orphan. So Kairi has resolved to convince the Coalition government to be lenient on Maleficent and Hades so that Lily doesn’t grow up without her parents. Whether or not either Maleficent or Hades will survive the rest of the saga remains to be seen.

And as for how they now that Hades is Lily’s dad, Maleficent wears an underworld themed wedding ring, so it’s not that hard to put two and two together. Besides, Loki was able to confirm it. As for why Kairi’s team didn’t do more in the Hellfire Club base, while they would have loved to have grabbed some information from what few computers Maleficent had, their main goal was to make Maleficent panic and send half her fleet racing back to the Sanctuary and weaken her assault on Turo.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Chapter 11: Hau’oli, Hau’oli!:
Earth – Atilan Throne Room; 8,021 Years Ago:

Explosions rocked the royal palace as Blackagar Boltagon paced from one end of his throne room to another. Ever since that wretch Jenova had allied with the Pro-Light Keyblade guilds, his empire had been under constant attack. With each passing day, more of his territory was chipped away, until finally Atilan itself was under siege. The Anguis Guild and the Unchained Legion had been bombarding the capital of the Inhuman Empire non-stop for the past week. Inhumans did not leave their homes in fear for their safety, and yet the death toll was already in the thousands.

Emperor Boltagon cursed Jenova’s insatiable ambition and unpleasable arrogance. If she hadn’t put her great grandfather on such a pedestal, then the Inhuman race wouldn’t be facing extinction. Blackagar was under no illusions as to the trustworthiness of the Foreteller Leopardos in regards to the deal they had worked out for the war. He was well aware of the fact that Leopardos and Ursus hoped to topple the existing world order. But even if he was damning himself for his alliance with those who sought out the corrupting influence of Darkness, his one and only priority was keeping his people safe and alive. And now Jenova’s greed was about to undo all his hard work.

Jenova’s grievances against the Boltagon royal family were justified and well deserved, but her ideas of reparation were beyond what any sane sentient being would consider reasonable. Jenova was one of the last living descendants of General Alveus, the first Inhuman. Alveus had been engineered by the Kree to serve as the leader of their people, but Alveus’ means of commanding the Kree’s army was through parasitic mind control. Enraged at the loss of free will and disgusted with Alveus’ idea of freedom (which consisted of the entire Inhuman species enslaved to a single hive with Alveus in the center), Black Bolt’s great-grandfather Lash lead the remaining free Inhumans in an open rebellion, since his abilities allowed him to cure those infected by Alveus’ spores.

With a few powerful energy blasts, Emperor Lash killed Alveus and drove the Kree empire off their planet. Paranoid that the Inhuman General’s powers would be passed down to his descendants, Lash ordered the execution of every member of Alveus’ family. Unfortunately for Lash, Alveus’ pregnant wife managed to slip through the Inhuamn emperor’s fingers. Lash’s son refused to give in to mindless slaughter, and repealed the execution order on Alveus’ descendants, but they were indefinitely forbidden from ever undergoing Terrigenesis. All Terrigen crystals would be tightly regulated and strictly controlled both to prevent those with world-destroying powers from going through the mists, and to keep Alveus’ descendants from possibly acquiring their ancestor’s powers.

Jenova had come to Atilan a year ago seeking reparations for the persecution of her family, wanting her descendants to finally be allowed to experience the Terrigen Mists. Were she more humble, Blackagar would have granted her request. But despite her claims of wanting her sister to experience their heritage, the Boltagon family could see the greed and ambition naked on her face. She didn’t want Terrigen crystals for her family, she only wanted more power for herself. So the Inhuman genetics council, at Blackagar’s recommendation, denied Jenova’s request to undergo Terrigenesis.

But being rebuffed did not deter the arrogant young woman. Jenova kept coming back and resubmitting her request every few months, and each time she was denied. Now that the Keyblade War had broken out, she had taken another approach. Instead of asking Boltagon to undergo Terrigenesis, she told Anguis and Unicornis of his alliance with their enemies and convinced them to overthrow the Boltagon dynasty in order to cut off supply lines to the Seekers of Darkness. And once Black Bolt and the rest of the royal family were dead, she would undergo Terrigenesis and take the Imperial Throne for herself.

Emperor Boltagon was snapped out of his musings by a violent pounding on the ornate doors of the throne room. And so it begins, he signed to his wife Medusa as she raced to his side. If they wish to take out my empire, they’ll have to kill us both. Will you speak for me? Medusa nodded. When her husband emerged from the Terrigen Mists, his voice was powerful enough that he could shatter bones with nothing but a whisper. To avoid destroying the entire planet, the Inhuman prince took a vow of silence. He did not speak, even in his sleep, and he communicated entirely through sign language. This required an interpreter to translate his signals and speak for him to others. First his family, and now his wife.
The pounding of the door finally ended in a splintering crash as the doors of the throne room were knocked inward. Dozens of Keyblade Wielders came swarming through the broken door and engaged the royal guards stationed in the room. While the Keyblade foot soldiers engaged his own troops, three leaders of the Keyblade guilds came marching up the stairs towards his throne. At the head of the grouped walked Invi, the Foreteller Anguis, flanked by two blond-haired women he recognized as Foreteller Ava’s Unchained. As Invi marched up the stairs, the leader of the Anguis guild removed her hood to reveal a look of regret in her soft blue eyes.

“My husband and I do not wish to fight a friend,” Medusa spoke as the three Keyblade wielders reached the top of the stairs despite the sounds of combat raging on around them. Invi had been close friends with the Inhuman Queen before her marriage to King Blackagar, and had remained friends ever since, although the recent conflict had put a strain on their relationship.

“Neither do I, ‘usa,” Invi replied sadly, her blue hair fluttering in the blue hair generated by the roar of combat all around the throne. “But your family’s alliance with the forces of Darkness cannot go unpunished.”

“We are doing what we have to to keep our people alive,” Medusa protested. “Inhumans have been hated and feared for centuries. If King Lash had not carved out the Empire all those centuries ago, we’d have been the victims of genocide already. Only the borders of the Empire grant us any degree of respect in the world. And as much as I would prefer to continue our long standing policy of isolation, Inhumans out in the rest of the world are being lynched in the streets out of fear because your people are too busy killing each other to keep the peace. If the Inhuman Empire remains neutral, your war will destroy us. I’m sorry Invi, but we cannot sit idly by and allow our kind to be slaughtered in the crossfire.”

Invi nodded in understanding as she pulled out her Keyblade, tears flowing down her cheeks at the thought of fighting one of her closest friends. But before anyone in the circle could make a move, they were interrupted by the alarming sound of a shrill klaxon coming from behind the throne room. Invi, Blackagar, and Medusa’s eyes all widened in horror as they realized what was going on and bolted for the throne, all conflict forgotten. As an added security measure to control the spread of Terrigen crystals, Terrigenesis was only allowed to be conducted in a specialized chamber built into the back of the throne room. Access to the Terrigen chamber required a DNA scan from a member of the royal family. And all except Blackagar and Medusa themselves had been killed in the Unchaineds’ burning of Inhuman settlements. The only person with the motivation to save a Boltagon’s fingerprints and eyes would be…

“JENOVA!!!” Valerie screamed as the group reached the back of the room to find Inhuman woman was slowly enveloped in a stone cocoon behind a bulletproof glass door. [HR][/HR] Deep Space – Outer System; Now:

“Rose, are you okay?” Kairi’s voice snapped the blond-haired Unchained out of her flashbacks and back to the present. The sight of the Unchained warships and the Lorwardian battle cruisers duking it out in orbit over Turo had caused her to flash back to the last day of the Atilan Sieges, when she, Lerena (Ophelia back then) and the Foreteller Anguis storming Emperor Boltagon’s citadel. So many lives had been lost that day, and only recently (technically a few decades ago, but time is relative when you’re virtually immortal) did she begin to appreciate the tragedy of those caught between all the warring factions.

“I’m fine,” she answered as the R.L.S. Legacy rocketed out of Hyperspace and towards the battlefield. “This just brings back old memories.” Taking a moment to prepare herself, she followed the Princess of Heart down to the launch bay for the craft’s longboats. As predicted, half the Hellfire Club’s forces were in the process of jumping into Hyperspace back to the Titan’s Sanctuary. No doubt Maleficent would be frantic to protect her daughter, and her panic had reduced the number of attackers laying siege to Turo. Most of the ones in orbit were clearing out, even as the ships in the atmosphere were coming up to engage the Unchained fleet.

As the group settled into the long boats, they went over what the plan was one last time. Five individual warriors could not hope to deal effective damage against two armadas, but if they could get control of one of the Lorwardian battleships, they could deal more effective damage by causing confusion among the ranks of the Hellfire Club troops. While they were dealing with the Hellfire Club, Captain Amelia would join the spaceship already there in fighting off the Unchained Legion. With some well-placed assistance from Jim Hawkins, a captain in the Galactic Armada who had been home on leave when the attack happened who had tagged along on their departure from Montressor, they were off.

While Jim stayed on the Legacy to help Captain Amelia run her ship, the quintet sailed through the system towards the nearest Lorwardian battle cruiser, unaware that stolen Lorwardian shuttle was approaching the same ship from the other side. With Rose in the lead, the group fought their way through wave after wave of Lorwardian soldiers and Unchained boarding parties. Eventually, they reached the bridge and were surprised to find another group of saboteurs already there. But what surprised them the most was the two people the ladies recognized as part of the group.

“JAKE!”

“ROSE!”

“SORA!”

“KAIRI!”

The two couples raced forward and embraced each other for the first time in weeks. Jake partially shifted back to human form and wrapped his wings lovingly around his wife as he pulled her in for a tearful embrace. Kairi dragged Sora close for a long, passionate kiss that left them both breathless by the time they finally broke apart. But right now, none of that mattered. After weeks of fruitless searching, their quests had come to their ends. They were finally together again, and at that moment, nothing else mattered. [HR][/HR]I wanted to have a flashback to the Atilan Sieges at some point in the story. Originally, I wanted to have a full-length story set entirely during the Keyblade War focusing on the events surrounding the campaign between the Unchained Legion and the Inhuman Empire, but I realized that ultimately it wasn’t very practical, so a flashback or two will have to do. And since Andrew never became Lash like he did in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I wanted to work Lash into the story somehow, and so as I was writing this chapter, I came up with the idea of Lash being Black Bolt’s ancestor the same way that Hive is Jenova’s as a bit of a foil.

Yay! SoKai reunion time! We’ll see more of the reunion next chapter, but I figured seeing each other again for the first time in weeks would be the perfect place to leave off. Anyway, this is it, people. We’re now halfway through Kingdom Hearts V. Tomorrow is going to be another travel day for me, so I won’t be uploading chapters again until Wednesday. Next chapter will be the finale of the Battle of Turo before we keep this fic moving onward to its conclusion.
 

KeybladeOrder

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We’ve got 8 more chapters to go and things are about to get really interesting. [HR][/HR]Chapter 12: Mkaukau?:
Deep Space – Lorwardian Battle Cruiser:

“How long has it been since you started making your way here?” Kairi asked as she and Sora stood side by side on the bridge of the Lorwardian battle cruiser they’d commandeered. Since he had experience as a military commander, Steve took the helm while Thor manned the ship’s gunnery deck to give the couples some time alone for their mid-battle reunion.

“About two weeks,” Sora replied with a smile as he wrapped his arm around his fiance’s waist. “I missed you so much.”

“I missed you too,” she whispered. “When I heard from Vanitas about the Infinity Stones, I was afraid that all that energy would kill you.”

“Come on, Kairi,” he answered teasingly. “After being submerged within the collective energy of Kingdom Hearts itself, did you really think one cosmically powered space cube would be enough to destroy me?”

“Well you know how we both get when it comes to each other’s safety,” Kairi retorted with a smirk. “So how was Earth? What’s the biggest piece of the original world like?” This prompted him to launch into an animated discussion of his time on Earth and his experiences with the Avengers. In turn, Kairi shared her stories of what she’d been up to on her quest to track him down. As they talked, explosions bloomed around them in the stars as the battle of Turo drew to a close. Between the reduction of Maleficent’s fleet, her attack on the Unchained, and the aid of Iron Man, Captain Amelia, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, combined with their own sabotage, the Unchained and Hellfire Club battle fleets were completely obliterated.

As expected, Maleficent and her inner circle escaped unscathed, with the only Hellfire Club casualties being Heartless swarms and Lorwardian ship crews. Rose was able to confirm, on the other hand, that all of the Unchained present aboard the Legion’s warships had been killed (or at the very least forced to reincarnate). Apparently the death of an Unchained released large amounts of energy because of how long they were alive that fellow Unchained could pick up on. How wasn’t important. What was important, though, was that they had struck crucial blows against both factions today. Maybe now they could finally bring them all down for good. [HR][/HR]Deep Space – U.W.S. Anguis:

Praetor Stone was furious. This was supposed to be his defining moment. His hour of triumph. He was supposed to crush the Hellfire Club like the insects they were and take the Power Stone for the Unchained Legion. The overwhelming success of his mission was supposed to catapult him to greater standing within the High Council, enough for him to usurp Gonzales’ role as head of the war fleet and Gao’s research and development wing all at once. Now instead, he could only watch in abject horror as two dozen Unchained war ships erupted in explosions of fire and steel around him. The wounding of his pride had to be put on hold when the central console of the bridge lit up to indicate an incoming transmission. His blood ran cold when he examined the source of the call and realized that it was coming directly from the Novus Imperator herself.

“STONE!!!” Skuld roared as a small hologram image of the raven haired leader of the Unchained Legion appeared over the Anguis’ command console. So great was her anger that she didn’t even bother with formality and titles over the official channels. “How could you be so stupid as to take the witch’s bait?”

“Forgive me, Imperator,” he replied frantically as he attempted to salvage any victory from this mess to make up for their brutal losses today. “I only sought to acquire the Infinity Stone and crush the Hellfire Club in a single swoop. I…”

“Is your arrogance so great that it blinds you to the facts?” Skuld interrupted. “While we possess the numerical advantage when it comes to troops, Maleficent’s armada outnumber us five to one. Now you’ve gone and squandered a fifth of the fleet for your own vanity projects. Maybe you can learn some humility in your next life.” The Imperator’s communication channel abruptly cut off, leaving Stone mere seconds to contemplate the implications of the Imperator’s angry warning before the bridge of the Anguis was engulfed in cannon fire from the R.L.S. Legacy as it passed by.

[HR][/HR]Titan’s Sanctuary – Maleficent’s Throne:

Stone’s wounded pride was nothing compared to how livid Maleficent was right now. Once again, Sora and his friends had forced her to retreat from her goals. And if that wasn’t enough, they had the nerve to put her daughter in danger. While the more rational part of her mind attempted to remind her that they didn’t know Lily existed before they chose to attack the Titan’s Sanctuary, but her fear for her daughter’s safety was overriding her logic now. Ever since Lily had contact her on the private com-link she’d given her daughter for emergencies saying that Riku, Kairi, Donald, and Goofy had attacked Sanctuary, Maleficent had been in a panicked frenzy, and raced home with half the Hellfire Club’s armada in tow.

Once she had returned home and made certain of Lily’s safety, Maleficent’s calm fury erupted into a bubbling volcano of rage. Changes would need to be made now. The new facility they’d been building in Earth’s solar system was now their last remaining stationary base. The Lorwardian battle cruisers that survived the battle of Turo would have to be used sparingly. Security for their new base would need to be tripled to avoid another incident like this one. Oh, how the Mistress of All Evil hated being forced into hiding like a turtle retreating into its shell.

But first, Maleficent would need to determine the source of the information leak. The entire Hellfire Club knew the coordinates of the Titan’s Sanctuary, but there were only a few who she knew would have any motive for selling their secrets to the enemy. Her inner circle were all above suspicion, so that left Yzma, Hamsterviel, Malekith, Demona, and Seymour as the only suspects. Hamsterviel and Yzma were as much conquerors as she was and would never dream of surrendering information to the enemy like that. Demona hated humanity too much to ever associate with the Coalition.

Malekith might do it, but he preferred brute force over subtlety and manipulation. That left Seymour. The more she thought about it, the more Maleficent realized that it would be perfectly in character for the nihilistic former priest to play both sides to achieve his ideal future through killing every living thing in the universe. He was even worse than Thanos if the green-skinned fairy was being honest with herself. The Mad Titan at least, had a general goal, slaughtering innocent lives as a twisted sacrifice to his beloved Death. Seymour just gave up on life and wanted to end his misery while taking the rest of reality with him. Yes, she could definitely see him leaking information to the enemy to cause as much chaos and death as he could.

[HR][/HR]The Lanes Between – U.W.S. Ava:

“Our spies have confirmed it,” High Praetor Aurilam reported as he marched into Skuld’s office aboard the Ava with a manila envelope in one hand. “The ships Stone brought with him to Turo have all been destroyed. The Praetor and his men were killed along with them.”

“While the loss of so many of our Chaste division is a serious blow in our fight against The Hand,” Skuld observed. “The benefits more than make up for the reduction of our troops.” As she finished her sentence, the metallic sphere held in the air above her desk clicked open to reveal the familiar purple glow of an Infinity Stone. Warden Lerena smirked in triumph as she recalled her daring but easy heist on the vaults on Turo’s surface as the battle raged on in space above the Federation capital.

“Although I don’t see why we had to leak our intelligence to those Coalition heathens,” the Legion’s assassin remarked dryly. “We shouldn’t let those infidels solve our problems for us.”

“We shouldn’t,” Skuld commented as she sealed the containment orb once more. “But after eight thousand years, the High Council has become too entangled in politics for us to achieve The Endgame effectively. Gao. Stone. Gonazles. They’re all just spokes on a wheel. First this one’s on top, then that one’s on top, and on and on it spins, dragging the Unchained war machine down into the ground. We cannot stop the wheel by adding to the internal politics and power plays. Only by allowing our enemies to destroy each other can we truly, finally break the wheel.” The Unchained formerly known as Larxene and Marluxia couldn’t help but applaud at Skuld’s response.

“Well said, Skuld,” Aurilam commented. “You always know how to inspire the troops. We may have to deal with reduced ranks, but with the acquisition of the Power Stone, we’re half way to reuniting the scattered pieces of the Gauntlet of the First Keyblade Master. Four of the Infinity Stones are finally within our grasp. Stone, Gao, and the others all want to simply brute force their way through all our obstacles. They’ve become so wrapped up in their incarnations that they’ve forgotten what brute force got us back during the Keyblade War. We three and = understand how to play the long game. To take what we have and manipulate the board so that we can achieve the greatest results with the fewest resources.”

After taking a few more minutes to discuss Praetor Long’s acquisition of the Uchrono Hourglass, Aurilam and Lerena left to prepare for the next stage of the plan. They only had two more stones to go, then they needed to search for the Infinity Gauntlet itself. The one rumored to reside in Odin’s vault on Asgard they knew was little more than a prop to discourage the likes of Thanos from hunting the real one. Acquiring all three artifacts would take a great deal of skill and patience. Now that the extraneous elements had been excised from the Legion, they could pick up the pace. Once she was alone in her office, Skuld turned to face the stars streaming by outside the viewport, alone with her doubts once more.

Will it really be worth it in the end? She wondered to herself as she watched the universe glide silently by around her. How can the promise of a united world truly justify everything that we’ve done? There were times like this, when she was alone with her thoughts, that she began to question whether the end really justified the means. If maybe there were better ways to achieve Lady Ava’s vision of a peaceful, united world. But as they got closer and closer to the end, she began to wonder if it was not too late to change things, or if they had already gone too far to turn back now. No, she reminder herself. The Unchained Legion has done too much to let all our hard work, let Ephemer’s sacrifice go to waste. But each time she repeated the affirmation, her resolve only wavered more.

[HR][/HR]Yeah, Skuld has been busy trimming down on the Unchained Legion’s resources, disposing of those who place their own ambition over the Legion’s collective goals. But it seems that her doubts are beginning to peak through the cracks of her cold, aloof façade. So now the Unchained Legion has got its hands on three out of the six Infinity Stones. Things are going to look bad going into the end of the saga in Kingdom Hearts VI. And yes, I did quote Danaerys Targerian’s “Break The Wheel” speech from Game of Thrones Season 5 for part of Skuld’s conversation with Marluxia and Larxene, then paraphrased the rest.

And oh, the irony that Maleficent is so sure of the loyalty of her inner circle that she doesn’t even suspect the god of lies she broke out of prison. Rest assured, Maleficent will pay dearly for underestimating our friend Loki. And the consequences of her faith in her inner circle will tear her empire in half. I know we didn’t see much of the Jake/Rose reunion given how much focus I’ve given them, but let’s be honest here. Sora and Kairi is the big reunion you all really care about, so I wrote the chapter accordingly.
 

KeybladeOrder

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7 more chapters ladies and gentlemen. This chapter may end up a little short since it’s mainly just winding down from the previous battle and setting the puzzle pieces into place for the next one. [HR][/HR]Chapter 13: Radiant Garden:
Radiant Garden – Spaceport; Nine Days Later:

“Welcome to Radiant Garden,” Sora and Kairi remarked with overdramatic bows as the Avengers disembarked from the R.L.S. Legacy into Radiant Garden’s spaceport. After the battle against the Unchained Legion and the Hellfire Club drew to a close, Aqua arrived with a few ships from the Coalition Fleet to help with cleaning up and repairs. During their mercy mission to Turo, the blue-haired Keyblade Master managed to secure a treaty between the Daybreak Coalition and the Galactic Federation, and had remained behind on Turo with her family, preparing to send a delegation to Earth.
After a week of helping with the cleanup of the Battle of Turo, Kairi and Sora were eager to head home, and the five citizens of the Coalition extended an invitation to the rest of their travelling companions for a chance to tour the Daybreak Coalition before returning to Earth. The acceptance of their offer was unanimous, for a variety of reasons. Thor hoped to establish trade and military agreements between Asgard and the Coalition, while Fury hoped to come to a similar agreement in regards to intelligence on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony and Bruce wanted to examine the science and technology that the Coalition had developed (both were fascinated by everything from Gummi Ships to combat magic), while Hawkeye was motivated by pure curiosity and an overwhelming desire to play tourist.

Jake, Rose, and Natasha would have preferred to return to Earth and increase their defenses to guard themselves against the wrath of the Unchained Legion. But all three of them knew that was never going to happen. Between their sense of justice and the knowledge that the Legion would not stop coming after them until they were either dead or back under their thumb, they had no choice but to stand with the rest of the universe and fight back. And since the Coalition was already doing that anyway, sticking with Sora and the others was their best course of actions. Not to mention the fact that Rose and Natasha’s intimate knowledge of the Legion’s inner workings would provide the Coalition military with valuable information on how to cripple the enemy.

Tony and Bruce immediately began a rapid-fire string of questions about the flight schematics of the Gummi Ships before Sora put up a hand to stop them and promised to put them in touch with local Gummi engineer Cid Highwind. Steve insisted on informing the Coalition government of their presence and offering their services as long as they were there. It may have been overly formal of him, but the Captain’s rationale had been that while they were guests in a foreign nation, they should be courteous and respectful towards the local government. Since everyone had their own plans for what they wanted to do, Kairi called ahead and had some of the Royal Guard escort the various guests to where they wanted to go.

As predicted, Iron Man and Dr. Banner went to discuss Gummi blocks and spaceship engineering with Cid (the three men got along like a house on fire, which was more than a little disconcerting for everyone who knew them). Steve and Thor were soon granted an audience with Ansem the Wise, while Fury, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and the Longs went to the local offices of Coalition Intelligence. While everyone had gone off to do their own thing, they all promised to meet up in the Marketplace for lunch. That left the Princess of Radiant Garden and her fiancé with a few hours of time to themselves. And after nearly a month without seeing each other, they were more than ready to make up for lost time. [HR][/HR]The Realm of Darkness – D.E.S. Nathalis:

“We have confirmed it,” Algrim reported to his king aboard the bridge of the Dark Elf flagship as it glided through the eternally dark skies of the Realm of Darkness. “What we seek is there.” They had finally done it. After tens of thousands of years of failure, the Dark Elf race had finally managed to enter the Realm of Darkness. Now they were here to take back what was rightfully theirs. The liquid gem of Reality that King Bor had selfishly hidden from them in order to deny Malekith his well-deserved revenge. The Aethir. For so long, Malekith had dreamed of the day he would exact revenge upon the nine realms for their attempted genocide against his people thousands of years ago, and now that it was finally within his grasp, he had to fight hard to contain his excitement.

“Set course for the Lower Zone, then,” The Dark Elf king ordered as he leaned back in his command chair, basking in the euphoria of a long-deserved victory. “Bring me the Aethir, Algrim. Bring our people the key to vengeance against Asgard for their crimes against our race.” As the rocky structures of the dark realm rocketed past below his feet, Malekith could not help but feel an overwhelming sense of triumph. After thousands of years, he found finally have what he needed to avenge his family. His wife and son would not have died in vain. The only question now that he had achieved his goal was what to do now. It would be another four thousand years at least before the next convergence, meaning that he would have to use the Aethir to destroy all nine realms at once. That left only Maleficent.

From the moment Malekith allied his people with the self-proclaimed “Mistress of All Evil” Malekith knew that their alliance was one of convenience. Maleficent’s cabal was a means to an end for the Dark Elf king, and now that she had served her purpose, it was time to dispose of her. The only question now was how. He knew that she was anticipating a coup by the Dark Elves and prepared accordingly, and he had likewise prepared his people for Maleficent’s attempt to cut them loose. So a straight up coup de tat among the ranks of the Hellfire Club would be neither possible nor practical.

Subterfuge and deception wasn’t going to be an option either. The witch had learned from her experiences with Xehanort and refused to be used as a pawn by anyone. She was too intelligent to fall for any trickery or manipulation. When the Nathalis began to carve its way through the ash-covered stone pathways of the hellish landscape as the warship came in for a landing, the answer came to him in a sudden rush. She already distrusted him, and would naturally treat anything he said with suspicion. If he could disguise his machinations by playing on her suspicion and mistrust, he could distract Maleficent long enough to destroy the Hellfire Club in one swoop.

Satisfied with his plan, Malekith stood up from his command chair and marched to the elevator that would take him down to where they had found the relic he sought. As he marched across the ashes that blanketed the ground, he caught sight of a familiar stone pillar sitting a few dozen yards away, the intricate burn marks of the Bifrost gate burned into the landscape around it. While Malekith’s first impulse would have been to absorb the Aethir right here and now, he reminded himself that doing so would tip his hand and provoke Maleficent to open conflict with the Dark Elves. No. In order to play his cards right, he had to keep the Aethir contained for now and wait until just the right moment to play his hand. But he could deal with his impatience. He had waited over five thousand years for his revenge. He could wait a little longer.

[HR][/HR]We’ll be skipping over the Avengers’ tour of the Daybreak Coalition because not a lot really happens. We’ve got seven more chapters left and next chapter is when things get to the point of no return, although chapter 16 officially marks the beginning of the end. So now Malekith has gotten the Aethir, leaving the score in terms of the Infinity Stones as Unchained: 4, Hellfire: 1. But where exactly is the Soul Stone? Rest assured the sixth and final Infinity Stone will come into play before this fic is over. And its location will be a bit surprising to some of you. Anyway, since Malekith is aware that Maleficent doesn’t trust him, he’s making his own plans to strike back.

The internal power struggles of the Hellfire Club are about to come to a head soon, and things are going to get explosive. After the jaw dropping cliffhanger of this fic, I’m going to leave you all in suspense as to a certain character’s fate and pull back the curtain with a story of what’s going on back on Earth while everything is happening up here in space. After that, you’ll finally get the epic conclusion to the saga that I’ve been building up to since before I started writing The Xehanort War. And don’t worry about KH6 being short on action. The entire Kingdom Hearts 6 fanfic I’m working on is basically the last ten chapters of The Xehanort War turned up to 11. It’s going to all end with one massive, twenty-four chapter action sequence!!!

It's never clear whether the grey/white stuff on the ground in the Realm of Darkness is snow, dirt, or whatever, so I decided that given the at times hellish landscape, that ashes would be the most appropriate explanation for that phenomenon. I figured that Tony and Bruce would be really interested in Gummi Ship technology, and the thought of them interacting with Cid was just too hilarious an opportunity to pass up. Alas, I do not think I could do such a scene justice, so I leave it to your imaginations to figure out how that conversation would go down.

Again, nothing happened with Sora and Kairi there. Get your minds out of the gutter, people. I’ve established in previous stories that as much as some of you all want juicy implications of offscreen SoKai lemon scenes, it’s not happening until after the wedding. And for those wondering when that’s finally going to happen, let’s just say that when Sora and Kairi finally do get married, it’s going to be in the same vein as Will and Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Yes, you read that correctly. The wedding’s going happen right smack in the middle of the final battle in KH6. As for why, that’s something only my most genre savvy readers will pick up on.
 

KeybladeOrder

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This is going to be a villain episode this chapter, no real appearances by the heroes beyond background action scenes. The ball is rolling downhill, gathering speed as we approach the end. Another short chapter but not a lot happens so things are briefer. That and I’m travelling all day today so I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and flesh things out to 2,000+ words. [HR][/HR]Chapter 14: Agrabah:
The Lanes Between – Sol System:

“Are we sure he can be trusted, M’Lady?” Diablo asked once Malekith had strode out of the room. He and Hades had stood silently by on either side of Maleficent’s makeshift throne in the heart of their new base as construction went on around them. The Dark Elf king had deliberate research had pointed to the theory that the Soul Stone, one of the only Infinity Stones that the Unchained Legion had not managed to get their hands on, had been hidden away inside Jafar’s serpent staff all along. Maleficent didn’t really believe that, but it did give her an idea for how to dispose of Malekith.

“Of course not,” Maleficent answered as she stood from her throne and made her way down from the dais. Hades walked up beside her and slipped his wife’s fingers around his own. “But this does present us with an opportunity to cull the treacherous elements of Malekith’s inner circle. We’ll let Malekith take his ships to Agrabah, tell him that he can bring us the Soul Stone as atonement for his failure to find it the first time. But before they leave, Loki will sabotage their black hole grenades to destroy their ships before they return to Agrabah. While they’re busy going on their wild goose chase, we’ll be sending a team to retrieve the Aethir. Once we’ve removed Malekith from the equation, we can retrieve the Soul stone for ourselves from its real hiding place.”

“An excellent plan, babe,” Hades commented as he leaned in and gave his wife and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll go let the green guy know. The only question that remains now is what to do about Demona.”

“Oh I have something in mind for her,” the Queen of the Underworld replied with a smirk. “She can only die if Macbeth kills her, but that doesn’t mean we cannot imprison her in a sleeping curse as I did with Aurora.”

“Brilliant as always, M’Lady,” Diablo observed. “And with Seymour’s execution over and done with, we can take back the Infinity Stones from the Unchained Legion. Once we do, all of reality will be yours for the taking, and all who stop you will burn in the fires of their own making.” The three members of the Hellfire Club’s inner circle turned to more mundane topics like Lily’s desire to learn how to play the pipe organ, making sure that their secret conversations never reached Malekith’s ears. But they failed to notice a shimmer of green as the disgraced prince of Asgard released his cloaking spell and teleported away to fill his brother in on everything he’d just heard. [HR][/HR] Agarabah – D.E.S. Nathalis; Nine Days Later:

“What a pitiful world,” Malekith observed as the Nathalis began its descent into Agrabah’s atmosphere. “I might not have even considered it worth the effort to destroy it if we did not have to sell our deception to Maleficent.” With catlike poise, he leaned against the command console of the bridge and pressed a button signaling the pilots of the drop ships to take off. They would eliminate the world’s defenses and keep the Coalition armies from interfering with his mission. Once the Aethir had turned this world to dust, they would return to the nine realms and claim the Soul Stone themselves.

“Forgive me for asking, my king,” Algrim began. “But if the Soul Stone is not found here, then where is it?” Malekith took a deep, slow breath as he considered how to answer. While he did not doubt his second-in-command’s loyalty, he did not want to risk a leak. After Seymour’s execution, he was wary of the possibility that Demona would sell him out to Maleficent to save her own skin. He had ordered her to remain behind at the under construction base, but Dark Corridors enabled one to eavesdrop without physically being in the room.

“The last place Maleficent expects it to be,” Malekith answered. “Guarded by a warrior whose devotion to his post is unfailing.” But before the conversation could continue one of the drop ships collapsed in on itself with the distinctive hallmarks of the Dark Elves’ black hole grenades. So she’s finally decided to take the gloves off, has she? He thought to himself as he relayed the order to the troops heading for the ground to search the dropships for any sign of hidden bombs. But by the time he gave the order, half a dozen more dropships had already been destroyed.

A loud beeping noise alerted Malekith to the activation of the warship’s proximity sensors. A cursory glance at the console revealed that a fleet of Coalition Gummi Ships were heading for the Nathalis on an intercept course. Under any other circumstances, Malekith would have ordered his people to press the attack and destroy this world. But not today. Today, the destruction of the world was secondary to their goal of deceiving Maleficent as to the Soul Stone’s location. Since that had clearly failed, attacking Agrabah was no longer necessary. And with the battle to come, Malekith would need every Dark Elf he had to bring the Mistress of All Evil down.

“All pilots, fall back!” the elven king commanded. “Maleficent has declared war against our people, so we shall leave this world to be targeted by the Unchained. If it’s a fight that witch wants, it’s a fight she’ll get.” Cannon fire from the Nathalis shrieked past the bridge’s large central view port towards the Coalition fleet. Malekith was not worried about destroying the Gummi armada. He was more concerned with providing cover fire for the drop ships as they returned to their docking bays. As soon as all ships were docked, Malekith ordered the ship’s pilots to cloak them and activate the warp drive.

Once they had escaped from Agrabah, the Dark Elf king collapsed into his chair with a stunned slump. Their tenuous alliance with the Hellfire Club had been broken. And the black hole grenades aboard his drop ships made Maleficent’s intentions very clear. Once again, the Dark Elves were fighting a war for their very survival. But then, Malekith figured, they had never stopped fighting it in the first place. Ever since Bor began his genocide against them over five millennia ago, the Dark Elves had been fighting. They had devoted everything they had, everything that they were, towards one singular goal. To assert to all sentient life in the universe that they had a right to exist.

Their brief period of gathering allies for Maleficent had been little more than a lull in the action, and now that Maleficent had declared her intentions to remove Malekith and his people from existence, the fighting had begun again in earnest. Steeling his resolve, Malekith reached over and pressed a button on his forearm gauntlet that sent out a coded message. Hundreds of thousands of light years away, a red-haired, blue-skinned Gargoyle received the signal and smiled. Without another word, Demona stalked off through the warrens of the Hellfire Club’s last remaining base. It was time to get to work. [HR][/HR]Uh oh. It looks like Maleficent’s plan didn’t work. We’re getting close to the final battle now, so things are going to be getting more intense. Malekith has given up all pretense of playing nice with Maleficent, and the inner conflicts of the Hellfire Club are about to explode. Since this chapter was entirely villain centric, next chapter is going to bring things back to the heroes for one last fluff chapter before we kick off into the last five chapters of the story. There’s not going to be an epilogue for this chapter because I want to leave you all in suspense during the wait for Kingdom Hearts 6, since I won’t be starting that until around Thanksgiving.

I think I’ve pretty much spelled out where the Soul Stone is being hidden. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, google the T.H.A.N.O.S. Theory. The theory basically suggests that all of the Infinity Stones or their containers start with a letter that combines to form the acronym THANOS. The space gem is the Tesseract, the Aaethir is the reality gem, the Orb is the power stone, and the Scepter is the mind stone. The theory then goes on to suggest that the time stone is located inside a Necklace of some kind, possibly the Eye of Agamoto from the Doctor Strange comics. As for H, well, no prizes for guessing who that would be.
 

KeybladeOrder

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This chapter is going to hold the final time skip for the entire story. There will be a few time skips in the companion story to this fic that covers Vanitas' fight against the Unchained Legion forces on Earth, but there will be no further time skips for the remainder of Kingdom Hearts 5. This will be the last short chapter for the story, and also the last filler chapter. After this it's all normal-length chapters and action sequences.
[HR][/HR]Chapter 15: Moment's Reprieve:
New York City – United Nations Headquarters:

"Wow," Jake Long commented as Rose's fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents finished catching them up on everything that they had missed while they were gone. "I did not see that coming. I figured that with how prevalent S.H.I.E.L.D. was the magical world would have been exposed sooner or later. I just never expected we wouldn't be there to see it." A lot had happened while they were away from Earth. Beyond the magical world being forced out of hiding by HYDRA, which was earth shaking enough on its own, the S.A.C.K. had stepped out of the shadows as well, educating the public on the history of the Keyblade War. The remnants of HYDRA had been wiped out for good. The most shocking things to the Longs, however, were the resurrection of the Huntsclan and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s discovery of the Unchained Legion.

"I'm sorry I never told the team about it on my own," Rose told Daisy as they sat in a small break room in the United Nations Headquarters while Aqua's delegation met with the General Assembly. The U.N.'s awareness of the Coalition had forced Vanitas to act as an ad hoc ambassador, but the diplomatic emissaries that came with Aqua were able to come up with a more formal treaty to prepare for integration with Earth's existing geopolitical structure in preparation for the day that the shattered fragments of the world merged back together. Sora was off taking his fiancé on a tour of the city, while the Avengers had all returned home to be with their friends and loved ones following a briefing with the U.N. security council where they described what had happened during their sojourn to space.

"Don't sweat it," Daisy "Skye" Johnson replied. "We all totally understand. It's not like you could have just walked into the office and said "I'm an immortal Keyblade Master who defected from a secret army of immortals trying to shape the world towards a narrow view of perfection." Rose chuckled at the humor, but the tension did not entirely ebb away.
"It's not just that, Skye," Rose went on. "I didn't want everyone to see me as this ancient monster who did terrible things in the name of "perfection"." Black Widow had left S.H.I.E.L.D. a whole packet of files and documents on the past, present, and future of the Unchained Legion, but Rose didn't exactly want to bring up the Atilan Sieges in front of an actual Inhuman.

"Look, Rose," Daisy interrupted. "We've been friends for years now, and you being a reformed immortal cultist who brought down the Inhuman Empire isn't going to change that. Romanov left a whole debriefing packet that explained everything about the Keyblade War and the roles you both played in it. Honestly, from what I know of Inhuman history, the Unchained probably did the world a favor. I mean, sure Emperor Boltagon wanted to protect his people, but he was willing to team up with the people trying to tear the world down. Now, the Inhuman population is smaller and we aren't ruling any empires, but having the Avengers and magic around has helped the world accept us when the elders of Lai Shi finally decided to come out of hiding. I think things turned out all right in the long run. Sure, I'm pissed that Inhumans aren't as common as they used to be, but I'm not mad at you."

The conversation turned towards more cheerful topics as the two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and the dragon talked about everything from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s response to the existence of the supernatural community to their plans to combat the Hellfire Club and the Unchained Legion. As the meetings upstairs drew to a close, more S.H.I.E.L.D. agents came in and threw their hats into the conversational ring. For a moment, their concerns about the rest of the world faded away, and instead of a group of warriors preparing for the next battle, they were just a bunch of friends catching up over coffee.[HR][/HR]The Lanes Between – U.W.S. Ava; Eight Days Later:

"Have all the preparations been made?" Skuld asked as she stood at her favorite spot in her command chamber aboard the Ava. The last two weeks had been marked by frantic production and careful maneuvering of the Unchained Legion's remaining forces. It wasn't as much as she would have wanted for the Endgame, but it would have to be enough. With Gao's research division obliterated, Stick leading the Chaste in Stone's absence, and Gonzalles' arrest by S.H.I.E.L.D., all that remained of the Unchained forces were four fifths of the Legion's fleet and roughly five thousand Keyblade Masters. But thanks to their efforts to cull the rebellious elements of the Legion, those who remained were personally loyal to the Novus Imperator alone.

"Everything is in position, Imperator," Aurilam reported. "Strike Team Omega is prepared to strike at the Vaults of Asgard the instant the Hellfire Club makes its move, Strike Team Beta is in position to storm the island where we've confirmed the real Gauntlet is being kept, and Strike Team Alpha is prepared to steal the Hellfire Club's Infinity Stones on your command."

"We've finally done it," Skuld breathed in exhileration."It's taken eight thousand years and careful manipulation and planning but we're finally ready to execute the Endgame. We can finally put the world back on the right path." But despite the elation in her voice, the raven haired Keyblade wielder could not bring herself to feel as happy as she sounded. Despite eight millennia of compounded cynicism and general paranoia, she couldn't simply ignore the fact that millions of people would either be executed or used as slave labor in order to fulfill the Legion's idea of a perfect future.

Though she gave no indication of her continued doubts about the righteousness of their cause, Aurilam and Lerena exchanged glances. They knew that the Novus Imperator's resolve was weakening, and the idea that Skuld would allow eight thousand twenty-three years of planning and preparation to go to waste over misplaced sentimentality made their blood boil. That could not be allowed to happen. While the they trusted her to use the Infinity Gauntlet to accelerate the restoration of Earth, afterwards was where they were preparing for the worst. If she didn't have the nerve to give the order to purge the corrupt and decadent from the world, then Lerena would be forced to execute her and take command of the Legion herself.

The three of them had been close friends for thousands of years, and Lerena didn't want to force her to reincarnate, but the Endgame needed to be accomplished by any means necessary. The two former Organization members' contingency planning was cut off when Skuld asked them a question about their other plan that Aurilam had been working on for over a decade.

"Are you certain that we have to resort to Dr. Faustus' methods for reeducating him?" Skuld asked. "I would rather not have to rely on methods developed by Maleficent's lackeys."

"I'm afraid so, Imperator," he replied with false regret. He'd been looking forward to having that particular warrior under their thumb for years now, and was not about to let anything stop him this time. "Our previous attempt to bring the Keyblade Master to our side failed because of The Witch's attachment to him. I detest using our enemy's methods as much as your do, but we cannot allow his particular blade to be used against us. Having him under our control is a far better alternative than keeping him prisoner."

Skuld sighed. It appeared that now she finally had no other option than to proceed with the Endgame. She had hoped to have beaten her doubts into submission by now, but with each passing day, her unease grew greater and greater. Now she was faced with one of the most sadistic choices imaginable. To cleanse the world of the impure to achieve a brighter future at the cost of millions of people who, despite their impurity, had either done nothing wrong or did what they did out of love or desperation. Or to allow all those people to live, knowing that the world would eventually tear itself to shreds over petty concerns such as bathroom access. And despite her doubts, Skuld couldn't tell if she was even qualified to make that decision.
[HR][/HR]Gonzels' arrest, the exposure of the magical community, and the revival of the Huntsclan are elements that will be explored in the next story of the saga: Cloak and Dagger. I know, I know. The name changed again. First it was Earthbound, then it was S.H.I.E.L.D. and C.I.N., then S.A.C.K., S.H.I.E.L.D., and C.I.N. That particular fic has always been an integral part of the Acolytes of Chaos saga since I overhauled it after I wrote The Xehanort War. The only thing that changed was my inability to come up with a good title. Now I've made up my mind, and Cloak and Dagger will be the finalized title of the story. That fic will cover Vanitas' adventures on Earth in detail, and all of those things that happened while Sora was off in space will be expanded upon.

Things are looking tense within the ranks of the Legion as well, it seems. Skuld is having doubts, and Marluxia and Larxene are apparently devoted enough to the Unchained cause that they've prepared a contingency plan if the Novus Imperator can't follow through with the Endgame. Dr. Faustus is a reference not to the play but to the Marvel comics character who appeared in Agent Carter's first season and whose methods of brainwashing and mind control were used by HYDRA in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2. For those of you who put the puzzle pieces together for what the Unchained have got planned, and for who, be afraid. Be very afraid. *Cue maniacal laughter*
 

KeybladeOrder

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Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, everyone. I’ve been moving into my dorm room and getting ready for my Sophomore year of college. I didn’t really get a change to start writing this chapter until yesterday. Here we go, ladies and gentlemen. It’s show time. This is where it all comes crashing down. This is the beginning of the end. [HR][/HR]Chapter 16: The Realm Eternal:
Earth – S.A.C.K. Headquarters:

“So the Hellfire Club’s new base is on the moon,” Coulson summarized as Kairi informed him of the latest report from Loki. “Bit of a cliché, isn’t it?” While most of the core group of S.H.I.E.L.D. and C.I.N. Agents were either busy guarding the ongoing negotiations between the Coalition and Earth or catching up with loved ones (Cloud’s wife was part of the delegation after all), the small group gathered in this room were focused on a much more serious long term goal. Maria Hill, Phil Coulson, Sora, Kairi, Vanitas, the Rogers, and the Longs had assembled to prepare for their next strike against the Hellfire Club.

Loki’s latest intelligence package had confirmed that Maleficent’s war with the Unchained Legion had taken a heavy toll on the ranks of her followers. With Malekith’s defection, all of the Hellfire Club operatives still loyal to Maleficent were hunkered down in their last remaining base on the far side of Earth’s moon. Thor had gone back to Asgard to pass along the information to his father, since with the Dark Elves’ resurgence, Odin had formally declared war on Malekith, and had tasked his son with putting together an elite Asgardian strike team to hunt the Dark Elves down and destroy them.

In the meantime, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, the S.A.C.K., and the handful of Coaltion military and intelligence officers stationed on Earth were teaming up to wipe out Maleficent’s loyalist faction in a single strike. Ideas were brought up and debated in a constant loop. The Coalition had been able to reverse engineer the Hellfire Club’s Dark Corridor nullification technology developed by Dr. Hamsterviel before the battle of Cable Town at the end of the Xehanort War, and Aqua had brought some along with her delegation. But simply hurling missiles at the facility would do more harm than good, as the ground troops would be too busy making sure the roof didn’t collapse on them to effectively hunt the surviving agents.

“I’ve got an idea,” Sora suggested after a few minutes of arguing and debating. “We modify the DCNs so that instead of completely blocking the bad guys’ attempts to escape with Corridors of Darkness, their Corridors will all end up in the brig of the OHC. That’ll save us the effort of having to track down everyone we miss since everyone who tries to escape will only get themselves captured. Those like Iron Man and the Hulk who are better suited for ranged combat will guard the entrances and apprehend every Club member who tries to escape, while those whose skillset leans more towards close quarters combat will lead the teams inside to capture Maleficent and end her reign of terror.”

The Keyblade Master’s idea was met with near universal agreement, and the meeting was then spent preparing the logistics of the upcoming attack. Battle planning wasn’t quite as simple as figuring out a battle plan, despite what some people may think. Once you had a plan of attack, you had to assess which fighters would be ideal for each aspect of the mission and prepare assignments accordingly. Once the squad rosters had been assigned, a strategist needed to determine each squad member’s role in relation to both their squad mates and the mission itself. Once the meeting was concluded, the S.A.C.K., S.H.I.E.L.D., and C.I.N. agents along with the dragon and the Keyblade Masters went to brief their respective factions on their role in the coming battle. [HR][/HR]The Realm Eternal – Alleyway:

Loki carefully checked his surroundings as he teleported into narrow alley just off the street leading to the rainbow bridge. While his family had reconciled with him, he was still supposed to be treated as an escaped criminal, and couldn’t afford to be spotted now. While most of the time, when teleporting, Loki left a duplicate of himself behind to give the illusion that he was there so that Maleficent wouldn’t figure out that he was selling her secrets to the Coalition, tonight was another matter. With the Hellfire Club now fractured by the failed extermination of Malekith and his conspirators, both factions were scrambling for leverage over the other. That meant that Asgard would be their next target.

Few knew the true power of the Bifrost’s guardian, or where it came from. The number of people who knew that Heimdall’s powers were derived from the Soul Stone embedded in the armor he wore as his badge of office numbered in the double digits. And that was without considering the possibility that everyone in the Unchained Legion knew. For thousands of years, the obscurity of the Infinity Stone’s location had kept it safe from all who would attempt to claim it. But now, every faction that wanted it would soon be converging on Asgard like bees homing in on a flower. It was only a matter of time before one of them came knocking, and Loki was determined to keep the stone out of all their hands, cover be damned.

“Your concern for my safety is appreciated, my prince,” Heimdall remarked as Loki strode silently into the Bifrost gate. Loki didn’t bother with his usual banter or quips, or to sarcastically question how the gatekeeper knew he was there and what he wished to speak of. He already knew the answer. Heimdall laughed. “But I have survived ever attack on Asgard,” the warrior went on. “And I intend to survive this one as well.”

“And what if they manage to steal the Stone?” Loki retorted. “To rob you of your ability to see beyond the gates of Asgard? What then?”

“I am sure my king can find other uses for a loyal soldier such as I,” Heimdall answered calmly, as if the idea of losing his legendary Sight did not faze him in the slightest. “To be completely honest, Loki, after thousands of years of monotonous vigil, it would actually be a relief to be reassigned from my post. But I would still consider it dishonorable to say so aloud to anyone else. I only tell you because I can at least trust your discretion.” Loki nodded in understanding and offered the gatekeeper one last warning to be careful before teleporting himself to the castle.

As he strode through the torch-lit corridors of Asgard’s royal palace, he felt as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Now that he had finally severed his ties with Maleficent, he could stop pretending he hadn’t reconciled with his family. He could greet his brother now with warmth and friendship instead of feigning hatred and scorn. With catlike agility, he slipped through the winding corridors of the castle as he dodged the Einherjar patrols while he made his way towards the throne room. He walked into the massive chamber to find his entire family, along with Sif and the Warriors Three, engaged in intense conversation. After a few minutes, in which Loki was able to determine that his loyalty to his family was the topic of conversation, his brother took notice of him from across the room.

“Brother!” Thor called out warmly, and Loki smiled to himself despite his usually sarcastic attitude as he peeled himself away from the shadows along the wall and made his way towards the throne. Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandrall snapped to attention and had their hands on their weapons. Whether it was because of their fears he’d betrayed them once more or caution as to whether he was alone and able to act freely, he could not tell. Sif was more relaxed around him, but kept her hand near her sword just in case. Only Thor and his parents appeared completely relaxed. Even without Odin’s foresight, Frigga’s faith in him, and Thor’s trust, after all those therapy sessions his family members had learned to read him like a book over the last nine years, and they knew that he was here as himself, and not as part of a Hellfire Club invasion force.

“Mother, father,” he greeted warmly. “I’ve come home bearing both good news and bad. Which would you prefer to hear first.” Queen Frigga’s face quickly slipped into a look of concern with practiced ease. Clearly his mother could ascertain the severity of his news.

“From your tone, I should think we should hear the good tidings first,” she replied, speaking for everyone in the room. “That way we can have something to shore ourselves up against the bad news.” With a nod Loki continued.

“The good news is I’ve officially severed all ties with Maleficent’s cabal and am now a relatively free man,” Loki explained. Before Thor could run up and hug him, he put up a hand to stop him. “I can still go back to my cell if the public demands it once this is all over,” he continued. “But after all my spying and espionage over the past two months, I feel I’ve earned a vacation. More good news, the Hellfire Club’s infrastructure has been broken in two. Maleficent’s central command remains loyal to her, but their troop numbers are greatly reduced with Malekith’s rebellion.”

“The bad news, however, is very dire indeed. Both factions of the Hellfire Club are aware of the hiding place of the Soul Stone, and are on their way now to claim it. The Unchained Legion may be on their way as well. I’ve already warned Heimdall not to let his guard down even for a moment, and came straight here. An attack on Asgard is beyond possible, it will happen. Neither Maleficent, Malekith, nor whoever’s in charge of the Legion will stop until they’ve assembled the Infinity Gauntlet in its entirety.” For a moment, the throne room was silent as the weight of Loki’s proclamation hit them like spears in the gut. Then their pulses quickened with dawning horror as alarm bells began to ring throughout the city.

“Your Majesty!” One of the Einherjar called out as they raced into the room. “A ship matching the description of a Dark Elf warship has entered Asgardian airspace. Along with a flying Midgardian sailing vessel that is engaging the Dark Elves in combat. Both are sending landing craft toward the city.”

[HR][/HR]So Maleficent’s base is on the moon. I’ve had this in mind for a while now, and I’m excited to finally see this all play out. The basic idea of a strike on the villains’ lair before the final battle has been around since I came up with the storyline for the Acolytes of Chaos saga. To be honest, my ideas for this storyline have changed and evolved so much over the years that once I finish writing Kingdom Hearts 6, I’m going to have a two part postscript: one part as a general “thanks for reading”, and a second part just to go into detail on how my story has grown and evolved from some basic and in retrospect simplistic and not very original ideas to the complex, interconnected story you’re reading now.

A long running theory I’ve been hearing in regards to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s interpretation of the Soul Stone is that it’s basically embedded in Heimdall’s armor as a way of explaining 1) his golden/orange eyes, and 2) his ability to see people beyond Asgard a la The Force. In Thor: The Dark World, he talks about being able to see trillions of souls throughout the nine realms, so having the Soul Stone as part of Heimdall’s armor provides a neat explanation for his abilities while also tying it in to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline.

And so the second battle of Asgard has begun. The fight will only last for the remainder of the next chapter, but it will immediately segue into the battle at the Hellfire Club’s lunar facility, which will last for the remainder of the story. And yes, the battle did pretty much start out exactly the same as the Dark Elf invasion of Asgard in Thor: The Dark World. Just because the movie doesn’t happen in this universe doesn’t mean I can’t include scenes I liked in a completely different context. Only 4 more chapters to go, everyone.
 

KeybladeOrder

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Chapter 17: Invasion of Asgard:
The Realm Eternal – Bifrost Gate; A few minutes ago:

Although the people of Asgard generally believed that their gatekeeper could see everything beyond Asgard's borders, Heimdall would be the first to admit that his power had limits. While the power of the Soul Stone, passed down from one gatekeeper to another as a badge of office, was truly infinite, there were a multitude of ways things could be hidden from its sights. Which was why when he heard a engine cutting through Asgard's skies towards the palace despite not actually seeing any ships airborne, he knew that the enemy had arrived. Whirling on his feet, he raced out of the Bifrost gate and charged up the bridge's long metal suspension cables.

Running up the cables, he pulled out a dagger as he reached the top and leapt towards the sound of the unknown engines. His dagger struck home, burying itself in the hull of an invisible ship, which quickly de-cloaked to reveal the knife-like shape of a Dark Elfe spacecraft. So it would seem Malekith is the first to arrive, then, he mused to himself as he slid down the ship's wing and tossed his dagger into the engine's exhaust port. The ship immediately took a nosedive towards the rainbow bridge leading to Asgard, where it promptly exploded. As he recovered his breath from the sudden rush of adrenaline, he turned around with a look of dawning horror on his face to find Malekith's flagship rising above the waves of Asgard's far edge.

Heimdall could only stand horrorstruck as a swarm of smaller Dark Elf craft launched from the command ship and flew across the ocean towards Asgard. As the Dark Elf ships weaved their way through the spires and towers of the golden city, defensive laser turrets opened fire on the invaders. But the elves were too quick even for Asgardian reflexes, cutting down the turrets with the bladed wings of their ships. Flying patrol boats took to the skies to take the battle to the enemy as alarm bells began to toll across the capital. The patrol boats were able to take out a few of the Dark Elf ships, but were quickly taken out in retaliation within seconds.

Back at the Bifrost Gate, Heimdall thrust his sword into its usual slot in the center of the gate. While normally, this would activate the Bifrost, this time, he used to trigger the palace's force fields. But while the force field was building up towards its peak, Einherjar standing guard outside the actual shield generator within the palace walls were quickly ambushed and killed by a squad of Lorwardians under the command of Nebula. The Hellfire Club strike team entered the room and destroyed the generator, bringing down the force field. While they hadn't intended to aid Malekith, only keep the forces of Asgard distracted, the Dark Elves took full advantage of the opportunity to send a single landing craft careening through the castle's great hall, destroying columns as the ship spinned.

While Odin lead his warriors to engage the Dark Elf forces, Thor, Loki, Sif, and the Warriors Three lead another squad to repel Maleficent's loyalists. Back on the Bifrost, Heimdall could only watch and do what he could to slow the enemy by bringing down any ship that flew close enough to the Bifrost for him to repeat his dagger trick. As he finished brining down another Dark Elf ship, he was struck from behind with a Firaga spell that sent him careening towards the edge of the bridge. As the mighty gatekeeper struggled to pull himself up from the ledge, a robed figure strode towards him from the direction of the gate. While he mentally cursed himself for allowing his guard to drop, the woman approached him and leaned down, revealing her green skin and horned head.

"Well what have we here?" Maleficent asked rhetorically with a menacing edge to her voice. "A gatekeeper who's done a rather pathetic job of guarding his kingdom." Heimdall refused to say anything. He knew from Loki's reports who Maleficent was. Instead, he did something normally uncharacteristic for him. He spat at the so-called "Mistress of All Evil" in disgust, showing her that he had no intention of cooperating with her. Maleficent only smirked in response.

"If that's the way you want it," she replied. "I'll just take the Infinity Stone and be on my way." With a wave of her hand, she cast a Magnet spell just strong enough to remove the Soul Stone from Heimdall's armor without dragging the rest of him up from where he was struggling to pull himself up. While ordinarily, he would have climbed up by now without a problem, his disorientation from the Firaga spell and the fact that Maleficent was currently standing on his fingers made things rather difficult. Once she had finished sealing the stone inside a protective casing, she moved her foot, sending another wave of pain up his arm as the heel of her shoe dug into his hand. Then with one final push, she shoved his now-broken fingers off the bridge, sending the Asgardian gatekeeper tumbling down into the ocean below.

Back in the palace, Thor raced through the castle hallways toward the main hall, his friends hot on their heels. The Hellfire Club forces had been shocked by Loki's defection but had fled uncharacteristically quickly. Realizing that they had this infiltration team was a diversion while they went after Heimdall, Loki teleported out to the Bifrost gate, leaving Thor and the others to hurry back to the grand hall alone. From what they'd heard, Odin and his Einherjar had managed to keep the Dark Elves contained in the great hall, but casualties were growing higher by the minute. Thor raced into the throne room just in time to watch Malekith plunge his blade through Odin's heart.

Thor screamed in rage as he blasted the Dark Elf king with lightning. The Asgardian prince charged forward in a berserker fury as Dark Elves threw themselves at him to buy their leader time to escape. Sensing that his opportunity had been lost, Malekith and his army retreated through a Corridor of Darkness. Thor raced out to find the Dark Elf warship cloaking itself as it flew away from Asgard. Enraged at his father's demise, Thor hurled his hammer at the ship. But it was too late, and the hammer sailed harmlessly through the empty sky as the Dark Elves vanished into the unknown.

Meanwhile, Lerena spat in disgust as she stepped over the fresh corpse of the Einherjar guarding the vault beneath the palace. Her cream and violet armor – standard issue for the Vulpeus guild in the months leading up to the Keyblade War – glistened in the light of the torches lining the corridors. On either side of her, similarly armored Unchained, all wearing the same armor in the colors of their original guilds, held a defensive formation as they made their way toward the vault doors. Lerena grinned triumphantly as she unlocked the door and undid all of Odin's protective spells with a simple wave of her Keyblade.

The detachment of Unchained made their way into the vast chamber without resistance. The Einherjar were no match for an army of immortal Keyblade Masters. And even if the Destroyer was still intact, it would have fallen beneath the might of the Unchained Legion. Lerena, Aurilam, and Skuld were unconcerned with the outcome of the battle raging in the skies above them. While the Hellfire Club splintered over the Soul Stone up on Asgard's surface, they were after things that could not wait until later. While a squad of her best assassins guarded the door, Lerena examined the items all around her in the vault as she crushed the false gauntlet beneath her feet.

With a breath of relief, Stick approached the pedestal containing the Tablet of Life, which contained the formula for an elixir the Fallen Ones has used to enhance their own power prior to their banishment, and knocked it to the ground. The pedestal shattered into a thousand useless pieces with a satisfying crash. Another squad carefully lowered that damned Tuning Fork into a protective case with custom foam padding to keep it from banging around. If it made any noise whatsoever, eve just from accidentally striking the walls of its container, the barriers keeping the Fallen at bay would weaken enough to allow them to return.

Once all objects relating to the Fallen Ones had been removed from the vault and taken back to the Ava, Lerena and her team turned their attention to their real targets. With gentle care, Lerena moved the Warlock's Eye off its pedestal and moved it into a protective carrying case of its own. Once all the items they needed to take had been looted from the vault, Lerena pressed a button on her wrist comm signaling to Aurilam and Skuld that it was time. Seconds later, the High Praetor and the Novus Imperator appeared in the room as if melting out of the air. The two Unchained leaders walked briskly towards a single spot in the room while Stick walked over to another pedestal and picked up the Casket of Ancient Winters.

This was going to be a challenge. The Unchained Legion had made three attempts to extinguish the Eternal Flame over the last eight thousand years, but to no avail. This time was going to be different, however. With a nod from Skuld, Stick activated the Casket, and two dozen Unchained, their magic partially amplified by the Casket of Ancient Winters, cast Blizzaza at once. A thick layer of ice coated the floor of the vault as the Eternal Flame flickered and died, slowly choked by the intense drop in temperature. With that accursed Flame extinguished at last, the entire world began to shake.

The Unchained scrambled to their feet as the realm rocked and buckled with the force of an Earthquake. Up in the streets, Asgardians were panicking that it was a sign of Ragnarok, the fated "Twilight of the Gods", but the Legionnaires down in the now empty vault knew better. The eight realms under Odin's rule, barred from rejoining the rest of the world fragments, were finally beginning their long delayed journey home. As the shaking began to subside, Skuld and Aurilam opened a corridor of light right in the middle of the room. They quickly marched through the portal with Lerena and Stick at their heels. Once the remaining members of the High Council had returned to the Ava, the rest of the Legion filed out squad by squad, until nothing remained behind them but an empty vault.
[HR][/HR]This is it everyone, starting next chapter, the last battle of Kingdom Hearts V begins. The first of many dominoes has finally begun to fall as we get ready to kick off the final battle of the saga. Only three more chapters and then I'll be going back to explore what happened on Earth while Sora was gone in greater detail. Yes, Aurilam and Skuld just mimicked Loki's teleportation technique and that will be more important later. Much more important. Don't worry, Heimdall's still alvie. The opening paragraphs were based on the Dark Elf attack on Asgard in Thor: The Dark World. And since I intend to keep Frigga alive for now, I realized that for the purposes of future story ideas Odin would have to be the one to die.
 
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