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Trust is [NOT] Resolute



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Just Dari

make peace with your inner storm
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Hard choices.

Resolve. Duty. Betrayal. Despair. A situation beyond hopeless. The warmth that occupied number zero's eyes vaporized as he collapsed to collect the body of his child as it was beginning to disintegrate in his arms. He was sobbing unlike anything he'd ever experienced previously. Kambria was right there alongside and Eth was so in shock and consumed with this along with a constant string of firsts that the happenings all felt like they melded together. He was violently shaking, he had no control, his reactions were starting to envelop everything.

As Lucrecia walked away, before antagonizing the rest of the lot, she mentioned the masters wish for death. It struck a nerve with him at this critical moment. So this request the master left behind was only possible inside the box, or by the extermination of the resolutes then? Was death really the end that awaited them all? He'd never even considered this was something that the master wished for, unless he was in a situation that barred him from sharing the...

And in that moment it was almost as if his cries had been answered. Eth was too indisposed of between Kambria and Freya's complete disintegration to notice two things. The first was Saebyeolbe's ascension to the berserker face of his resolve. The second...was Reforge moving to intercept the unleashed #1 before he'd release everything and then some against Lucrecia before they could uncover everything.

Freya was now gone and he move into a panic shuffling over Kambria, there was a feint sign of life and that was fine by him. She'd been stripped of her resolve entirely, but not of her life and manifested a small cone of time in a capsule around her. Rewinding the motions, and the wound itself reversed, and she'd revitalized. Such a thing wasn't possible for Freya...she'd already returned to him, his flesh was simply a construct of his power over memory after all.

"Sae, stop! I'll just open the box, you don't have to end it like this!" Eth shouted, fumbling over.

A light show was going on, Lucrecia had then proceeded to released Anima in the form of debilitating red mortars, dropping from the sky like bombs. Eth sighed, Kambria was unconscious but alive, moving in his arms as he lifted her from the ground and a flicker from "0" appeared in his left eye. In truth, he'd virtually never pushed his resolve to parameters that could be deemed "unprecedented".

"Stopza." everything came to a crawling halt and he weaved through the field, passing Sae who was about to jump, and efficiently sat on the box, and placing Kambria behind it. "I wish everyone wasn't in so much pain..."

The cogs of time had resumed and Lucrecia's red mortars lit up the landscape exploding one after the next. There was jet trail of speed from Saebyeolbe, darting around this power she called "Anima" in action. Eth's hair flickered to the side from the strong gusts being released in all directions. He couldn't make out where anyone was in the bright tints of red, it was if it were camouflaging them unintentionally. The zero was present in his eye, and he locked on to individual life-spans, able to see who was moving quite vividly from a bright light that reflected that of a moving life form.

Eth was more worried about Lucrecia's words than anything else. The lightless wielder being spurred and provoked into existence to see the master's end? The question remained one word.

WHY?

Shiki wasn't here to give the findings of her personal investigation and with the roles filled, nothing was barring anyone at this point in time. As it stood, the only resolutes that were left, were 0, 1, and 3. If death was the alternate route, it was looking more like extinction was in the near future if nothing changed.
 
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purgatory

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Finally you understand. I could finally face you unfettered by restrictions, values, or morals. You'd saved me from death not that long before and now I've laid the truth upon you. All of them had to know this was to what ends our master would go, he'd go this far just to escape. Giving us this false sense of camaraderie. We were all pieces on a gameboard and even if this reality isn't enough to tear us to shreds, one of two things was going to come to fruition.

"It's either you all die, or the box opens. These are your choices, the masters will is whats navigating us all. It's calling for blood Sae...I wonder if YOU are prepared to spill mine like you claim!"

I've never been this audacious. I've never been this bold before now, but even still, I wasn't a fool. My physical strength was nothing in comparison to number one's, but I didn't care. Raw instinct was the only thing I seemed to be able to operate off of at the current moment as the red essence billowed out of my frame uncontrollably. De-summoning both keys, I crossed my arms siphoning a rapid charge, before splintering it off like mortars, that quickly came down like giant raindrops, littering the battle field with small explosions of Anima. The danger a resolute faces from my mortars was equivalent of compressed explosions that acted as a silencing debuff to to your resolve.

I lost count of the number that released from my body. Countless, in the tens of thousands that constantly were shooting from my frame like a minigun like a hail-mary of bombs being shot off and fired into the sky, raining down supreme. I wasn't going to stop until I completely and utterly annihilated him from this face of existence. These weren't quite as fast as Eth's swords of light, but they sure as hell were a lot bigger and had way more blunt force and impact to them. My rage swelled, as a grunt of anger released into a scream completely consumed by pure rage and animosity.

This was for him, for the master. If Sae had chosen to die like this, then so be it. I clenched my fist and brought them forward revving them like water wheels rotating in perfect harmony. As they turned faster and faster I generated even more projectiles, these were sharp like what punched through Kambria and Freya both, killing them instantly. The shrill of my voice filled the bloody red sea of Anima that I had unleashed upon Eth's escape, to the point I could see the integrity of the reality he'd drawn us into cracking bit by bit. I wasn't going to to stop until he was dead, I didn't care of it was overkill, but against his berserker I had no other option available to me than to forgo all restraint.


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
 

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Saebyeolbe's eyes darted off to the right. No motion from Try in the slightest, there was a sigh of relief. Wasting energy on top of the insane amount of physical trauma his body has had to endure in this short amount of time, something he wasn't ready for. One of his scars released, possessing the skill to repel even forms of damage from his body was active while he was in his berserker state. Moving his eyes from one side of his head to the other, all he could see in essence, was red.

Eth's voice broke the air, The Scarred's ears twitched at the ringing of his name capsulated in his words. Asking to cease, amidst the traitor's constant string of aggression that jeopardized even the fabric of this place Eth brought them to. Cracks were appearing, the very presence itself wavered around her being here. To stop was an attack on his resolve. To stop would go against every life he'd successfully saved as well as attempted to preserve. There was no anger that emanated from Saebyeolbe, the ego was something that'd cause their emotions to swirl out of control. It wasn't about being right, it was about doing right, if Lucrecia had no reservations about ending their lives, the only choices that remained were to flee or to exalt her before she could do that to them.


"No Eth. If you nor Try will stop Lucrecia, then I don't have any other choice than to use everything to completely and utterly annihilate her. She killed your child without hesitation. She impaled and ripped away Kambria's power. I'm short on kindness and mercy for her...these actions will be judged and the penalty for toying with our existences will be paid with her own." Saebyeolbe spoke shortly, and coldly.


His demeanor was chilling, it'd send a shiver down anyone's spine. Pores opened on is blackened skin, beads of sweat saturated his skin. Steam burst from him, literally heating the world around him in a fine space as he shot himself through that now expanded space, all other forms of matter appeared to slow down. His hands rumbled, loud like jet turbines, a red glow ripped and cracked the air as he vibrated both palms before forming rapidly aerial jabs carrying and obnoxious fast and potent amount of wind pressure flying every which way to his front that saw nothing but an ocean of red mortars.

The wind pressure fired off without any hesitation, colliding to mete her assault with respective natural pressure. He was blowing her mortars out of the sky about as fast as they could be thrown and rather effortlessly at that. If this bitch seriously wanted to disrespect the master as well as her former comrades...he would return that disrespect in kind. Sae's hands sizzled with smoke from the raw amount of power he demonstrated, she seemed to have wound up for another volley, blades this time. As his arms lowered he held open his palm and his Alabaster purged into existence. One fine cut, carried the power of a sound shattering gale with more than enough power to deflect her attack to scatter about aimlessly in all directions butting the blades buried into the surface as his keyblade hit his side.


"The difference has never been more transparent...for duty you'll invoke war...but unlike you war has molded my very existence. You're far too arrogant to be looking down on us...LUCRECIA!"

Steam released and he was gone. The deeply crimson tint shifted to a light shade of pink, he blades were exploding like fireworks. The berserker attacked without relent cutting through here blades of Anima with the sharp end of his Alabaster keyblade, completely unaffected by it's effects to suppress resolve...keyblades were weapons first and foremost after all. The sound of clanging and popping across the white expanse as he mutilated her attacks vibrating at a pace that'd even attract Eth's attention.

Through storm and stress alike, Saebyeolbe powered through the pain of all the past battles fought and forged his way through Lucrecia's assault. He broke into a paced walk, slaking Alabaster by his side until he was within ten meter range of a now sore throat Lucrecia. That ear splitting scream she released earlier was certainly out of character. Contemplating how much of her sense of self was compromised by this "Anima" she spoke of didn't matter at this point, he simplified it in a way that Try would.

Getting beaten to death would be how she repented.

Raising his arm, he swung immediately deflected by the traitor. His eyes scanned over where she held her ground, if this was a competition of physical strength, it'd be over in seconds. She didn't have the firepower to fight him in melee, he knew this, but he also couldn't touch her and vice versa. To touch her would mean he'd lose access to directly channeling his resolve, but it also meant for her in the instant they made contact, she'd be paralyzed similar to when he hugged her and Try both before letting them go. Sae had the power to disable opponents by touching them if he so chose to imbue it, so you could see how the only option left would be to use their keyblades or ranged attacks such as spells.

He cut the air again and she raised to block as it swept here back a few feet. She retaliated with a red charged blade and it was met with impressive strength. The two of them started to exchange a series of slashes to the point they ended up creating their own small bubble of red petals. He was starting to remember now, remembering it well through the eyes of that insane Trace's memories that were left behind. This style, it was fencing, one-handed swordplay relying on streak slashes and jabs with precision. She had an almost identical form with minor deviation from...Vrivrianne? V? Thats what they called her.

Sae released heat compressing the molecules around him, ejecting himself freely into the world and slowing it down around him. He perspectively tilted his head to the left and right as she jabbed into between his head, with the intent of running it through his skull or even cleaving it straight off. She'd fail every as he'd dip or swat her Gazing Eye away. Ice built up on his shoulders, cooling him off as he couldn't maintain that level of heat to push through the air for more than a couple seconds, and he'd now done the opposite. Bringing the heat inward vs expanding it outward, to snap the ice building up around him, vaporizing it into steam with a ghastly release of a heavy sigh, creating a fog from his mouth.

He panted a bit, his black skin was emitting steam and his eyes didn't move from her face. She was weathering more fatigue than himself and it showed. A lack of endurance training meant you'd lose a battle of attrition, even if neither could land a decisive strike on the other. He couldn't kid himself here, Berserker's recoil was going to kick him down hard without Mortem to discharge the recoil, and he still had another minute or two before that cooldown was up.

Raising his Alabaster, he darted in with his own one-handed variation of swordplay. The clanging of steel was rough, laced with tremors from how hard the both of them were striking the others weapon with pure blunt force. Her strength was FAR from the realm of her own natural power, what exactly was this "Anima" she spoke of. Try was the only one this physically formidable and this was throwing him for a loop. Her physical feats couldn't be explained, it's almost as if fate were assisting her against the most battleborn of them all. The air cracked, the ground splintered, the recoil from every single blow felt through their searing steel as pants were now collecting from both.

This was an entirely different kind of resolve and he didn't like it at all. That anger that swelled when Eth's daughter was killed, and Kambria was impaled hadn't slown for not a mere moment. Her actions were unforgivable, but this unshakeable feeling of death loomed over him. He'd conquered this very same feeling all of his life, but this...this felt...almost wrong to him.

Time was almost up. This was the moment he'd played up to this entire time, Berserker's timer. He can't maintain it indefinitely, physical and magical attacks have pain limits, Berserker essentially removes those thresholds. It lets him fight at several times his aggregate combat power, but at a price. All the battles fought that created every scar thats released from his body, quite literally all of them, are all reapplied....all at the sametime. The physical recoil alone from fighting the previous Dark King, would far outpace even his battle with the lingering will and various others.

He took a valiant step, it was his quietest one, moving no louder than a whisper. Placing a finger on Lucrecia's lip and one on his to simply say.


"Shhh..."


A sharp pain shot through his body and his paralysis from the touch backfired. Saebyeolbe let out a blood curdling scream of pure agony at the top of his lungs, as his entire body vibrated erratically as if he was being electrocuted without an end. Explosions from spells from when he suffered close proximity hits were now re-animating and being reproduced and burned back onto his flesh as that very scar. Blood was ripping in all directions from his body painting Lucrecia crimson as he was bearing the recoil from Berserker, eventually clutching his arms closed, blood letting through both of his eyes. Years worth of agony and pain, and he stood there, a pillar, The Scarred getting marked again with years of his life in a matter of moments.

This went on for several moments, and he simply stood there. He didn't have the strength to breathe, to blink, none of that. His mind was gone, fatigued wouldn't do him justice, but he stood there unwavering with minor tremble here and there. The look on Lucrecia's face was filled with nothing short of absolute dread and petrification, she was completely and utterly speechless, perhaps mortified. Sae couldn't move an inch without collapsing, but he just stood there, arms folded, bloodied and bold as ever. She finally said it to him, enemy or not. She asked him what happened and why it looked like he was exploding left and right.


"Nuh....Nothing...Happened!"

It was all he could manage, no, will himself to say. He was a minute off from calling Mortem again to repel the pain from his body before he had to take it all back in at once. It didn't matter now, he'd lost this battle he swore on, and whether he lived or died was no longer in his hands. He was almost entirely sure that was going to kill him, and that fact that he was still standing is a testament to the intense physical training he'd endure over the course of years, but this was at best what he could manage. Consciousness. Stubbornness. Will to endure.
 

Just Dari

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"So this is the magnitude of your lightless-wielder...you son-of-a-bitch. Just what in the hell are you trying to achieve unleashing that overwhelming appetite for death itself into the world."

The formless unknown heckled the young master. As their eyes peer over the board, the masters pieced number "IV" was ablaze on the board in an unmistakable red aura. The master lay quiet on the other side of the table, the piece "I" had several cracks that appeared on it, on the verge of shattering and there was a stroke of guilt felt.

"Nothing to say? That one had his pride thoroughly trampled on, and the recoil of that power SHOULD have killed him. Perhaps your pupil even wished for that death."

The masters head hung low, this was unprecedented. If it were quite literally any other resolute or perhaps Saebyeolbe himself equipped with Anima, this sentiment of guilt wouldn't be as...suffocating. In so short a time the reality of what was left for his resolutes to do had come into light. There was no amount of preparation for this emotional high, as this in all his years, has never happened before. In previous gambits, the master's traitors in the past have manifested as dark-wielders, never lightless-ones. Dark Wielders often invoked the box's corresponding power to issue a complete reset and shifted the balance of the current state of the worlds. Such an option wasn't even remotely close to what the lightless wielders purpose in opening the box.

Sitting in silence, the piece sat on the board cracked and his hand reached over to move "0" across the board.

"I see you insist on sending your pawns to their executioner today. How many have died in the past couple of hours alone, still with the impending threat of worlds collapsing. This traitor is excellent at wasting time you can't afford...but death is what you've chosen to obsess over, regardless if it kills your apprentices? How morbid are you really young master?"

His confidence hadn't vanished, but how vocal he was about the strength of his cast had diminished greatly. It wasn't easy watching Saebyeolbe defy him in his absence by using that, which he forbid him to. The place which Eth had sent them to was much closer to the end of time than they likely understood or even realized. One more push was all it took, Zero would need to realize his last order before death. He need only agree to the lightless wielders demands and open the box and this could end without anymore death.

"My plan from the beginning was to spare anymore of my resolutes from death by only having one rebel and to have Zero cooperate and open the box. My departure caused a a rift between them, their memories needed to be removed, the stress of the situation and eagerness to remember came along with it. Something not even I could predict was the pressure of failure instilled in all of them and the growing uncertainty sending them into a whirlwind of different emotions."

The young master sighed and raised his head slightly. He was tired, eons of this battle just to reset based on the conclusion of the state of the world. Those he trained just to be sent to their deaths cycle after cycle and he was past the point of sick of it. An agreement he was bound to follow indefinitely, death was his only escape.


---------------------------------------------


Eth heard Sae loud and clear. This wasn't up for debate, he was going to fight against the traitor with everything he had and in turn so did Lucrecia. It was almost impossible to quantify the ample amount of pressure and power being distributed from Sae and on the opposite end. Tremors were being generated from the colliding forces and cracks started to appear in this dimension the "All is Lost". There was more at stake here than just their lives, and as the two of them fought, Eth took breath and rather than grasp at straws he looked to Kambria who lay there unconscious, but alive.

Their memories had returned, their connections were revisited, and he started to understand it a little better. Lucrecia didn't just betray the master...she actively turned her power against them, completely unprovoked and trampled over their lives. She trampled over their pride...and it just defied all reason. He'd experienced See's emotions once before in Betwixt and Between, and back then that was just par for the course.

They were supposed to be friends...and yet here they were.

The walls shattered, slaking apart and you could see the turmoil outside of the dorms. Luxu's mangled corpse was thrown through a crack and it shattered as he landed just beside Eth. He coughed, clutching the Ethernal keyblade in his grasp as he could hardly breathe steadily. Blood was soaked through his black coat and he turned his head slightly to the left.

"Oh...its you...you pathetic loser..." he coughed, scolding his partner Zero even on his death bed. "Those hybrids...cake...some guy came...Trace? All went south from there...as if...huh?" Luxu shifted his head over to the right, he caught See's body basically exploding left and right and the screams he was releasing in sheer agony.

"Hah...what the hell did you do to everyone here...not like it matters...just open the damn box you idiot!"

Eth looked down at Luxu from where he was standing. He'd never seen him in such a state where he was on the thin line of dying. A catalyst of so much scorn, right in front of him worse off than he'd like to see him. Nothing was more triggering, his hands rattled, hearing Sae scream until they silenced, and he took the rest of injuries being reapplied like a man. Blood was literally everywhere at this point, if he didn't pass out from the pain, or from the loss of so much blood, yet he stood there with complete conviction and resolve.

Approaching from the direction where Luxu was thrown was the enemy Shiki and Eth dealt with prior to any of the current events. Luxu's sorry state was something, but he was actually laughing, laughing at Eth's hesitation.

"Some leader you turned out to be. You'll still do nothing. Number 1's nearly dead. I'm nearly dead. Try's on standby. Jay chickened out and never left the RoD. Komaeda killed himself for NOTHING. Reforge and Yamato both dead, and where is that good for nothing Shiki huh? NOWHERE. It's time you realize what the master always told you, when they fail, you always have to pick up behind them, face it...!" he coughed releasing an incredible amount of blood next to his head that spilled from his mouth.

"Even me....was just following orders pal...hurting all of you...isn't what I wanted...as if."

Footsteps could be heard crossing the threshold. Luxu was trembling in pain, dipping closely to his limit. Tears were starting to mix with the blood trailing from his face.

"I'm ready to be done....with all of this too....no more...no more Eth...you really think the old man...wants to keep doing this forever? He wants to be released from this loop...without saying a word...you can see in all he's been doing..." Luxu was tearing up. "The master knew we'd likely get wiped out by the traitor, but he took a chance on us holding our own and figuring things out...are you really-"

"No more Luxu. Three problems right now. Trace, Lucrecia, and what to do about the master's dilemma. The box is here, Saes down and I don't know what Try plans to do. Lucrecia nearly killed Kambria and my daughter was returned to me in a way I was prepared for...I don't know the easy solution to any of these issues, but I know once this box is opened, things will come to me i'll form a plan afterwards. Right now, two birds with one stone sounds about right..."

he took a massive breath before he shouted,

"SAEBYOLBE! THANK YOU!!!" Eth touted before his entire body started to shimmer with light, "Thank you...for protecting all of our pride as resolutes and reminding us that the master taught us to stick to our guns 1000% to the bitter end...I can't say it enough times, thank you so much!"

Eth bowed his head graciously, the number 1 was a battered and bloody mess, but if there was one thing he knew in his core, he was alive and heard every word. He proceeded to kneel down to assess Luxu's beaten body to the point he reached for his hand, grazing over the infinity tattoo on the anterior of his palm.

"Remember what master said about us...Zero and Perfect Zero? Anything's possible when those two are alive...well...lets try something crazy for once..."

The darkness encroached and the malice could be felt across the way. The landscape was ripping itself apart and their feet were once again on the dorms. Eth sighed, and stood up, talking a blindfold off Luxu's corpse and tying it around his eyes. You could call it a pre-requisite for one of his signature moves, but really it's because he didn't want to see what true infinity looked like.

"Forgive me Master, friends, and Kingdom Hearts for using your light with such perversion..." Eth trailed as he rose his left two fingers to snap. "Perdition."

Everything stopped, belonging to the re-realized sea of perpetual white.

The remnants of All is Lost before they completely dissipated, reformed, taking in all of the enemies that invaded. Trace, the other hybrids, the World Enders, Demon Towers and all other pure blood heartless were completely immobile. You couldn't see the dorms, you couldn't see the enemies, you couldn't even see a single centimeter in front of your face. Everything and everyone had been consumed and ensnared in light, petrified. Eth took a step, he was blindfolded, but he could see where quite literally everyone was.

It wasn't very often he ever needed to exercise this part of his resolve, but the Lullaby of Sin seemed like a necessary evil in this dire situation. Now that he had everyone present at his mercy, he snapped his fingers to trigger it's effect "your sins...shall be resurrected..." The debilitating and blinding power of the lullaby spread far and wide as it illuminated every corner it could touch. Hearts flooded from the pureblood types present and starting to reshape and return grossly repopulating. His hand weaved through the lot of them and he started to return them to the worlds he'd managed to revert back by moving them through portal instantaneously until he weeded them down to roughly seven or so.

This wasn't a task completely met without resistance. Eth was a vault, a chronicler, and any holes or gaps in concentrations demanded to be questioned. A simple memory like washing the dishes had some haze surrounding it, this was the resistance he was talking about. He didn't appreciate this indirect level of tampering with power that belonged to him that he'd inherited by his ancestry. One thing didn't obscure, and it was the number "II" burned into his memory along side "I" while he was washing dishes. His light would reach as far as possible to claim "II" and thoroughly scrub the sentiment of doubt that was intruder in his power of memory.

'At least one always has to make things more difficult than they need to be, can't be helped.'

The veil of light was receding and with it came a surprise no one would've expected.



"Welcome back...who said you could sleep on the job. Resolutes." Eth had a sincerely wrinkle in his lips that formed a slight smirk.

Removing his blindfold, Eth brought them together. All of them with the exception of the master who was quite literally unreachable. A blaze of confusion paraded over them, feeling themselves die? What the hell was happening? What the hell happened?? The short answer was a feature of the dimension, that could quite literally amplify as well as bind things into reality with a bit of a push. The fallen resolutes undoubtedly became heartless that much was certain, it stood to reason as well he could pull those that had yet to fall so long as they were swept up in his light that broke every horizon, even deep in the dark margin. He counted them off.

"Luxu. Saebyeolbe. Shiki. Try. Komaeda. Jay. Iontis. Yamato. Reforge. Kambria. Gangs all here finally, without getting into too much detail here. Lucrecia went rogue and is blathering on about killing the master, apparently whatever is in this box behind me, she needs me to open it. It seems unavoidable, at this point but I won't give whatever it's contents are to her and we WIL NOT kill her, i'll bare responsibility for anymore mishaps with her ok? On the other end...I just used my trump card to bring you all here and I can't do something like that for a full 24-hours so...don't mess this up. Heartless. Hybrids. Usual shenanigans we're all familiar with. Theres one thats about as physically tough as Saebyeolbe and Try and magically as strong as an alarming number of us that specialize is magic based resolves."

He took a breath before starting again.

"You all remember everything that happened before...whether you trust me or not isn't my call, but what I do know is that between Lucrecia's power that manifested it may be important later. I'm not gonna ask for her cooperation but if she wants the box open, better we squash our vendettas at least for right now and deal with every last one of those heartless running amuck on our home right now."

He raised his hand, calling his dusklanzer and slaking it over his left shoulder.

"I promise you this, we'll definitely see the master again. Yeah? Lets get this done."

He snapped his finger and the dimension around them collapsed again and they were finally out of that white ongoing landscape. Eth could feel the blades of grass from the dorms for the first time in what felt like an eternity. There were still some missing pieces here, but there was enough to understand killing each other let along ignoring the danger and chaos of the current situation would spell disaster. He'd taken a moment to turn back time on the wounds of the crew while they were bathed in his veil of light form the Lullaby, needless to say they were all in prime form. Eth however, was not.

"I'll leave the hybrids to you Saebyeolbe." Eth said as he lifted his head and sat on the box. "They'll come for this box as well, for some reason I can't explain it, but I just have a feeling its of value to them as much as it is to us. This is the last clue the master left behind...so lets try and protect it at all cost!"
 
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What a mess.

It wasn't often she saw children be murdered right in front of her. Well, not often anymore at least. So much happening at once, and yet she felt herself frozen in place. No action taken until her next move was decided for her by Eth.

Back to the Dorms then.

Try ran her hand down her face in exasperation and let out a sigh. "Huh..." She hadn't felt her own face in a long time, hadn't felt breath coming from her mouth. She wondered what kind of face she was making, was it interesting? Did she even remember how to properly emote? The helmet was a necessity, but one would be a fool to believe they could shroud their visage in a cage of darkness and not suffer any consequences.

She summoned her keyblade to her right hand. A SWING to the left, a SWING to the right. The air moved as though a bullet train had sped by with each movement of her arm. Well, there was one thing she knew she'd never forget how to do. She called away the blade and looked over to Eth, and to the box beneath him.

"The only things I've known Heartless to chase are hearts, and anyone carrying a keyblade. That box, it wouldn't happen to have the Masters's..." Try trailed off and looked away. "Surely not."

Her eyes met Komaeda's, she felt her body flush as her heart began pumping. She watched him die, yet here he was. "I-I should focus on-" She said one thing, but she had already run full force straight into the boy and hugged him. "Kommy! I'm so glad you're alright, I thought you were dead, you WERE dead, I-I..." Try suddenly realized that her helmet was gone now. "Ah!" She let the boy go and stood to her feet.

"Sorry for showing you this ugly mug, um, mind helping me lay these idiots out?" She pointed to the humanoid creatures approaching.
 

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This rage was worthy of the name the master gave him, one. I was beginning to get some kind of a handle on this eminence of red that painted well all of the anger and agony burning in the very pits of my heart. Cognitive dissonance? Far from it, I was in my right mind, but I couldn't resolve this overwhelming amount of rage that just wouldn't sate no matter how hard I battled him. Saebyeolbe, by far one I held in high regard, respected, feared...but he was in my way...in our master's way. I'd gladly defile his pride a thousand times over if it meant honoring the wish this power that was bestowed upon meant. I couldn't get personal anymore...though that'd happen one way or the other, you all saw how well that worked out with Try earlier...

It didn't work, not even close. I was beside myself, he was using physical force and pressure so strong it destroyed the physical manifestations of Anima i released in the form of bombs. What a terror, but I wasn't about to stop just because I made some of my colleagues upset, is that not "resolve?"

The beating of keyblades was all I nor anyone could hear. I had to give him credit where it was due, he must've realized touching me with his bare hands wasn't the optimal choice here. I'd be lying if I wasn't getting anxious, he was faster than anything I could've ever tracked, the heat that his body produced. I could see scorched rings around both of his arms from when he lit them on fire...Saebyeolbe was truly insane.

Why did I have to end up battling you...out of everyone else...why was it you.

I didn't waver at my own question, I suppose I lost the ability to press anything other than go. The sharp clangs of our keyblades rippled across the white expanse and the red eminence of Anima was brilliant as it flickered around to protect me. I couldn't for the life of me land a decisive blow, I had some military training and fencing mastery, but the amount of hours of applied practice was negligible in his presence. I didn't know how this was going to play itself out, but I held the line before losing my footing and there was opening in my defense. This fool found the one moment and reached for my face with a tap of his finger...to shush me? My eyes shrank for a second, I stopped moving, but so did he.

I watched as he quickly backed off and then the weirdest thing started to happen. There was blood...everywhere...all from him. His body was like a doll getting cut, shredded, hammered, and blasted apart as his orfices were been torn open again. I got flooded in his blood within seconds, shaking, his resolve apparently was in his blood, and I was stunned and unable to move for several seconds. His agonizing screams were enough to put any normal person unconscious, but he silenced them to mere grunts as I watched him mysterious become afflicted by some crazy kind of self destruct. It didn't take me too long though...when I asked him, he said all he needed to.


"Nuh....Nothing...Happened!"

This little dance of ours had reached the curtain call. Saebyeolbe just stood in front of me, he was barely even conscious and in mere moments i'd be able to move again. He looked like he was getting flayed alive by a flare attack before, the erratic breathing coming only from his nose as he grunted, truly mortifying. I didn't know exactly what to make of it, to make of his beaten to hell state, but i knew he was looking for an honorable death here. I may not have liked this situation to which I turned on them, but I wasn't without certain principles or respect and he broke all expectations, using everything to have it recoil.

I could move again, and wouldn't you know it, they were here. She was with them. Vrivrianne. If you thought the well of animosity for Try was bad, what I felt towards anyone that directly abandoned me was ample times worse. As I stood I looked at Saebyeolbe again before Eth screamed half way across the way, thank you? What the hell? Your thanking him for losing? He blathered on about pride, upholding it, but thats all he ended up being good for right? How worthless was that pride now? You could only begin to fathom how critical the words and thoughts that were swimming around in my head were. The pressure from taking preventative measures to save lingering remnants from darkness had really taken it's toll on my psyche I stared into the eye of the master's Gazing Eye keyblade and saw it. It was only a moment, but there was a flash of memory that didn't belong to me and the flicker of red in my eyes, the heart palpitations skipping faster and faster as my blood lust started to escalate out of control.

I could hear breathing through grit teeth. Hmm? Sae? Was he...crying? Perhaps this too, was pride, but it wouldn't change the outcome. Like putting an animal in pain out of their misery, I rose the Gazing Eye to strike him down where he stood before a flash of light swept the field and everyone, and i mean EVERYONE was frozen in their tracks. Memories were starting to come back, memories...that didn't belong to me. I was beginning to learn things, experiences, none of them were mine, what the hell was going on exactly. That festering pool of anger and hate seemed to only grow more and more rapidly out of control, surpassing what I felt towards my frustrations dealing with my role, with Try, and with my sibling Vi. Just what was this lightless wielder, who were they, questions I was beginning to understand through no means of my own.

When the dust finally cleared, the light returned and on the dorms again they were. I don't know how Eth did it, but he resurrected all of their fallen comrades. And those that weren't dead, his light touched every corner of every world and pulled them through. This confirmed it for me, I needed him alive to open the box to secure a route to our master. I was unable to think about anything else other than those weird memories, a voice in my head lingered like nails on a chalkboard. A voice was starting to echo now and I didn't get a good feeling from it, it was furious and I felt connected to the master's history in an odd way, because he was in these memories. I just realized it then, snapping out of my daze Sae was fully healed and he'd already moved away actively chosing to walk past me without any malice despite our battle and both of our bloody states. Was he mocking me?? No...of course not, he was inseparable from her, and where that pesky resolve might've effected the rest of them, despite all of her influence, whatever passive attempt to remove herself from the equation, Anima rejected such influence as an attack on all that she knew.

"You'll still defy it all to the last **** huh? Fool."

!!!!!

What the hell was that?? Those...weren't my words, that wasn't me who was talking just now. Was it...this person? Memories were first person, I didn't see any reflections, who the hell was talking and why was the master there? I don't get. I don't get it. I don't get it!!!! I clutched my head for a second, i could hear them talking, they still wanted to take me alive amidst this turmoil? I couldn't tell if Eth was a fool or taking a gamble with that order. Either way my rage had concentrated itself way more than normal, I felt I would soon meet the owner of this power, but that wasn't the focus now.


"Listening to that fool is only going to get the rest of you sent to your graves a second time. Right now, if you lost your resolve, you've got only your keyblade. That isn't enough to fight the hybrid heartless, let alone a world ender heartless. Are you seriously going to contin-"

"Then I'll back them up. Vorpal Lumen."

Eth's voice cut me off as he released his resolve and imbued them all in a pristine aura of his resolve of pure light effectively transferring it through each of the powerless resolutes forms into their keyblades giving their blades an almost ethereal edge. I released a sigh, you could see the red edge on my breath trailing off. Anima exploded from form creating an intense pressure that rippled across the grassland of the dorms. I never took the beauty of training and living here for granted, the master certainly managed to maintain this place well, he had us after all. My head turned between the hybrids and the resolutes. The heartless were rallying and now I had 11 of them to deal with as opposed to only two, and I still didn't have the box opened.

"Listen. I'm only going to say this one last time. You give me the contents of the box or your gonna have to fight me and the hybrids in a three-way collision. Personally, i'll take my chances in assisting them in beating you all down if thats what it takes to get to our master. Theres your ultimatum, Resolutes."

I could hear the sound of that voice thriving and growing more restless. Who are you? My thought went unanswered as my eyes flickered red, highlights of my threaded white silky hair were starting to dye into delicate red strands. A power frenzy was enveloping and it was a change that I openly welcomed, I could feel the change happening slowly. I didn't care if I had to fight all of them, at this juncture no amount of rage could drown out the immense guilt and obligatory debt I felt to the master. It's devastating to know your teacher desires an escape and you're tasked with that instruction. Divesting them from that curse would be the least he could do, I can only imagine how much the resolves we all carry at it's core bring him nothing but shame.

Clutching the Gazing Eye in my hand i beat a slow walk towards them. Things were about to get started and rather quickly, if I knew Eth he wouldn't let them engage me, he said as much himself. Dealing with that debilitating power of the memory witch wasn't something I was looking forward to. Seeing as Saebyeolbe failed already, I didn't have much to worry about especially considering they still had to protect the dorms and themselves from being destroyed. I watched as the heartless ravaged across the field collapsing even behind me and there was ring quickly encircling the eleven of them. I slammed my free hand into the air, transmuting a a red circle and bringing forth a canon.

"FIRE!!!"

A blast of anima ripped through the air as a beam-like projectile, the grass tattered in shambles as it was headed directly for them. I turned on my heel to flay into the heartless that had approached behind me as others persisted in attacking the group.

"You want a war Resolutes? You've got one!" I shouted at the top of my lungs before slamming the ground with a electrified sea of red.

The heartless eyes shifted from an eerie yellow to red, swirling into a demon tower. "ATTACK!!!" The veracity of my aggression was without relent. I jumped just above the demon tower as it was splitting off into two sides and I gripped the gazing eye with two hands and threw a huge burst of anima like a fine blade over the top directly behind them to generate a red well of red magic to cut off their escape route.
 

Deimos

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His body was heavy, the cool sensation of blood was trailing from every open orifice you could imagine. There was a sense of bliss he felt in all of the bleeding, the shockwave string of his nerves on fire and every atom of him was screaming. Lucrecia was doused in his blood, looks like his bet paid off in the end, he'd momentarily stopped her from moving, but he was quite serious when he said it was no longer in his hands.

The light was virtually gone from his eyes, his corneas were saturated in red and his vision doubled trying desperately not to move too much. His mind started to become flooded with fuzzy images of...her. He thought fondly of Allison, probably reprimanding him from getting so beaten up by the shopkeeper they pilfered from as kids. A feint breath, of what could be interpreted as a cough, more blood...it even heart to laugh it seemed. The corners of his lips struggled to move, all of him was hurting more than he could fathom...not since surviving a megaflare that annihilated his town when he was so young. Flashes, of Allison shielding him her own body as she burned on top of him and into his flesh.

Why were these memories showing up now...always when...he's about to die it seems. Lucrecia didn't seem particularly interested in killing him, how he could stand there this long clinging to life was truly something. It was then, Sae finally heard the words he'd thought he'd never hear.


"SAEBYOLBE! THANK YOU!!!"

Was he dreaming...? That was Eth's voice, and he sounded so sincere and gratuitous it was almost a completely different reality. Times really had changed, a cold and disconnected ally...acknowledged, respected and conveyed as much. Even in pain, even in the agony to move, he suffered just to shed tears of how grateful he was. Everything hurt, a catalyst that let him cry even harder as he continued to bleed, but he continued to draw breathe, and he could still stand. He took painful step after painful step moving towards him and past lucrecia as she seemed focused on something else.

Then came a sea of light more magnificent and blinding than anything he'd ever seen before. Frozen, he couldn't move another bloody step on the white plains, red with his bare tracks of blood. The warmth of the light, he embraced it, his body was...healing? Was this Eth's doing? The pain began to dull and his senses and awareness began to sharpen, the light that washed over everyone there soon came to drop out and he could feel grass under his feet.

They'd returned to the dorms. All of them. Sae's eyes opened wide as he was identifying them all from his memories one by one, this wasn't, there was an overwhelming feeling of happiness that escalated over him as he continue to move with a bit of a wobble in his step. Try grappled Komaeda with a hug, Yamato pat Reforge's head, Iontis was helping Kambria to her feet, I smiled as Jay was alive and still here, someone that I saved in the realm of darkness. 'Thank goodness.'

There was someone else here...strangely enough...
there were these odd feelings and memories associated with them clouded in fog. This was definitely number 2...the same number two the master urged the scarred to find. Sae took a in a breath and drew in her scent, 'midnight' he'd never forget a scent even if he didn't remember someone.

"Shiki." Sae paused for a moment, realizing how doused in blood he was, stood completely still. "Don't disappear like that on me again. This isn't the first time we're meeting...in fact, i've known you for a fairly long time. If you take one look at me, a man half dead a thousand times over...did I really deserve to make it, standing here by my partner? The stories you mentioned in the past...you still think you'll end up getting me killed one day?"

Sae gave her head a soft brush, without any doubt it was definitely her.

"It's not nice to meddle with our memories...no...with your existence and how it effects our memories...how are we supposed to mourn you if you fade out from right under us...theres nothing more cruel you can do to your friends than deny us the agency to miss you...you, not someone who isn't you."

Loss. You think this would be routine for someone that has had to endure this worlds tragedies, cruelty, and it's pain, but that was far removed from the reality each situation proposed. Truthfully, Sae had grown fond of the resolutes, of the master, and what one would call their banner, or their resolve...each is in it's own way selfish dogmas they'd all undertaken for one reason or another. Sometimes its not enough to vow to protect your principles, to protect your allies and family, as well as suffer for their sake and your own...the world was complex, peace wasn't easily obtained, but the secret was that those special to you...were the treasure that made what you agonize and suffer for, worth it.

He could feel his face tighten as he pulled her into his arms and hugged her, sobbing as if he'd lost someone for a period of what felt like a lifetime. Almost as if she'd died...and in a way...she did. The collapse of all those feelings was something of a challenge for even him to bare. The lesson the master repeated the most was always "Strong. Not invincible. It'd serve you well to remember this." To that end, Sae never forgot it either.


"Grateful scratches the surface of what I feel towards you." He stopped to poise a smile while the tears trailed his cheek, his lip wrinkled, his chest jerked from the building emotional and physical stress of this really, REALLY long nightmare they were in the midst of in the end of days.


. . . . . . . . The Third Party Was Present . . . . . . . .


There was a leering gaze that appropriated from the distance. "Well i'll be damned. I get to slaughter Eth and Shiki along with the rest of you powerless Light Lapdogs. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA fine by me!"

Trace had been revving his gears ready to go for a while now. Inflicting a brutal beat down on Luxu not long before breaking threshold in space that Zero and the others crossed not long before. It was incredible to be in reconstructed corpse that his heart could inhabit freely and it was all thanks to Saebyeolbe. This concept of a power struggle between dark and light was textbook data to him. That paled in comparison to his true interests, researching the human heart.

"It's Trace. Mission statement is simple, I'm here to free your hearts. What good are they being trapped inside those bodies of yours, all that guiding key nonsense your master preached about in the old world...trying to sway public opinion over a hearts one true destiny? It's destined to be released, I've made my ambition to make that true of this entire existence. That box smells awfully peculiar, I'd love to see the contents of it for myself and I'm more than fit to fight ALL OF YOU for it. I don't care about your petty squabbles amongst each other, getting the satisfaction of ripping you to shreds and releasing your hearts is all the reward I need, all the justification I need."

Trace raised his hand a world ender towered over him, far larger than any Darkside the RoD could produce.

"Anti. POSSES!" he shouted to the heavens and inklings of dotted eyes appeared all over the world ender as it raised it's meteoric fist imbued with extremely potent darkness. Trace's heinous laughter circulated across the field as it's fist cut through the red power anima that woman unleashed unintentionally blocking for them as it's fist was entirely lobbed off.

"Tch. Stay out of this you fecklematter heretic! Traitorous scum among humans is more vile than the humans themselves! It makes those hearts that imprisoned tainted and abhorrent. Betraying conviction to meet selfish ends, WHO THE HELL WOULD WANT A HEART LIKE THAT TO EXIST IN THE WORLD!??!"


>>BILLOWING DARKNESS

Trace's smug look signaled his two cohorts, Cal and V, to dart forward as the heartless surged passed him laughing menacingly to collapse on them from all sides. The World Ender's fist was bubbling black as it's fist was regenerating with Anti's help. Releasing a howl as it raised it's fist and swirled with an insane amount of power set to come crashing down on top of the group like a death punch, take two!

"DIE.DIE.DIE.DIE.DIE.DIE.DIE."

A massive surge released covering the green grass in space of perpetual black. All you could see were yellow eyes. EVERYWHERE. It was a perfect hellstorm, a radiating feeling a pure and feral madness was ebbing off of Trace. Afflicting already uncertain an tense emotions with a constant feeling of added, debilitating pressure. He was enjoying every second of this and didn't feel the need to suppress it any longer.

"DON'T LET SO MUCH AS ONE SURVIVE!"

The heartless circled, the fist came down, the other hybrids had attacked. There certainly was a lot of destabilizing things occurring simultaneously to all be addressed at the same time. Fortunately, time was something the resolutes had on their side...quite literally.

Sae released a sigh, releasing Shiki to turn and utter words that were unthinkable.

"I don't think i've ever seen so much hatred in one place before...it's suffocating..." his heart beat was beginning to pick up as he raised his keyblade Alabaster to first intercept the split of the demon tower Recia had thrown their way. One powerful swat send a massive gust of air that deflected their rotation. The intensity of the red wave was absorbed by the hybrid's own assertion into the fight via the world ender. As Sae landed he shouted to Try.

"Hey Try! Help me knock down the giant world ender and then we'll go after Trace. I'm pretty sure none of us want to be pancakes when that fist hits the ground...Mortem!!"

Releasing his All-Series, Mortem ripped off his back barbed, and chained. He jumped straight up from the ground towards the sky in direct line of fire from the world ender's charged fist. "It's just like when I saved Jaz...no...it's even worse now." Sae spun around and pointed his keyblade towards the fist and channeled a beam of light aimed directly towards the hurling fist of the world ender.
 

Just Dari

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((This occurs sometime after Komaeda saves Try back in the harrowed-end; Twilight Town and commits suicide by self-destruct. Not only does he inevitably end up killing himself, but he restores Twilight Town to it's lingering remnant status prior to becoming a harrowed end.))



Somewhere between Sleep & Death....


There was a sharp whistle that permeated the open space. This place...this form, there were...countless hearts here. Formless, they appeared as shimmering beacons of light. A shell, it's form somewhat remained intact, but could see nothing. It sat there, a mere husk as it's hands felt the surface. It was wet, ripples formed from even the slightest bit of motion made. Grunts, and a feeling of fatigue had overtaken it, finally life breathed in.

"Well i'll be...you're finally here. How you managed to get this far is nothing short of lucky. To tell you the truth, I was expecting someone else...the rat, I'm sure you remember that conversation...Nagi."

A voice permeated the head of what appeared to be a completely translucent Komaeda, Nagito. Memories traced back to a massive explosion of light and entrusting Try with the memories he'd returned to her. Such a strong emotional provocation, made him nigh permanent in her feelings and memories, and with a little luck, his body though fragmented was cast here due to that connection, a strong desire for him to live. It was true, his resolve allowed him to control his destiny, but without, wishing hard enough he'd just have to blindly trust in his luck as he would the light.

"Master...I haven't heard your voice in what feels like an eternity. I'm pretty sure I'm dead...aren't I?"

"Bingo kiddo. You landed in one place the rules don't apply to me or anyone, so I'm at the mercy of any questions you may have, but uh, you may wanna make it quick, in the future Ethy gets pretty remorseful and wants you all together again."

"That arrogant jerk doesn't care about any of us. Only doing his job, that light might be brilliant, but the heart it belongs to is debauched and hideous, trash even."

"You may change your mind when you know the truth, not just about your comrades, but about everything." The Master folded his arms.

"Then first one I'm pretty sure I know the answer to. You're just a fragment of the master placed here then to act as an informant?"

"Nothing gets past that cunning egg of yours Nagi, you'd be correct. It was assumed that one of your comrades would disappear from existence and travel here, the only problem with that is you can't be forgotten about to make it here...with any chance of actually returning. Guess I was a little relieved when I saw you by complete chance instead of that person."

"I think I had a fair guess at who the rat would've been...but anyway, tell me who you really are and what your purpose is, why we were chosen, and anything else you can spare while I'm on a timer."

"Demanding as usual. Fair enough." The master sighed and dropped his hood. "I am one of three known as a Lost Master. Lost is a bit of an understatement, but my name is "All" but I am more commonly referred to as Omni. I've existed for countless centuries, since the very first world where all others spring. For so long, there was a hierarchy of power. Omni. The Keyblade. Anima. Three different kinds of powers that have held balance for a very long time."

"Anima? What the...you don't mean..."

The master nodded. "Besides me, there were other masters serving different seats of power. 'X' is the creator of the keyblade, he has many more names than I. "Qi" "Key" "Recusant" "Xabat" but "X" is his preferred name. X's very first keyblade ever created, was my keyblade. The Gazing Eye, I merely used the weapon as a conduit to peer into the future. X's creations were extremely, powerful, they had so much potential to do good, as well as cause mischief and mayhem. His "Keyblades" as he later dubbed them had crazy kinds of abilities, to unlock and lock quite literally anything, to release limits, to release hearts, to even duplicate hearts."

"The history...all those wars...even a few centuries ago..."

"Afraid we've been at this for longer than you've been alive...you see...we're immortal. Kind of anyway."

"Tell me about Anima. What the hell is it, who is it?"

"Just the name of what she brought to her seat of power. My colleague that goes by the name Lady "Finis" "End" or by the power she wields, "Anima". Whats more interesting is I'm sure you're wondering what Finis could do with Anima. It's meant to balance Omni by being it's complete and total negation. If say for whatever reason I decided to trounce "X" her role is to stop me in my tracks to maintain balance. Anima...is lightless. It's allied with neither force of light nor darkness nor any derivative or inbetween. A truly terrifying thing to experience for carriers of Omni...it's very damaging to faith when you really think about it."

"Damaging...to faith..?" Komaeda turned his head. "Wait...you mean 'resolve' don't you? The concept of not surrendering to a conviction, a dogma, or even any kind of discipline is a wedge in any society. You had someone with that kind of power as a seat? How would you be able to maintain any kind of order??"


"In the early years we had tasks. I trained them in magic, X showed them the blade and changed his criteria on what it took to be qualified to wield one, and Anima was an observer not outspoken save for when my duties would become problematic. You see, light didn't exist forever...don't you remember questioning why I would put my faith in you guys if your just going to serve your own interest? Hah, you hit that one on the nose, and this is exactly whats happened multiple times throughout the centuries, despite creating rules with awful consequences, yet still...humanity sinned and bore the brunt of their mistakes time and time again."

The master released a breath and stared at the shell of his pupil, before he continued.

"Finis didn't like the constant shape of the evils that lingered in humanity...her rage was turned against the selfish humans and she cut them into factions of darkness and light. These actions cause a separation of balance, the world then split into the Dark World and the World of Light. But there were two others...the world of sleep, you're on the cusp of that world now...and then Death, where no one returns."

"What...did Finis do...?"

"Finis announced to X and I that she would make us a wager. Creating a Gambit where we pit light against dark in a gauntlet. The world would infinitely repeat, drenched in war, but eventually a conclusion would be reached. Her wager was that one human would reject the light, the darkness, and all derivatives and on that day, her power would be unsealed and she'd come to destroy us both. Betting that despite how complex either were, neither would be able to release themselves from their egos to protect the masters that fathered and fostered their developments. That the individuals hells they all endured would be too crippling to warrant enough to stop the traitor gone rogue with anger..."

"What were the rules Master..."

"Easy enough. Information as to the true nature of the Gambit couldn't be definitive spoken in the Light and Dark Worlds. No such restrictions were placed on the realms of sleep and death where we currently reside. Why would there be? Do you realize how much you had to sacrifice just to even be able talk like this, I didn't think you were serious back then, but WOW. Even that pocket of space 'All is Lost' technically exists in the realm bordering sleep and death. Exceptions to that communications could be done through codes, and a single accomplice of my choice to continue on...only after the remaining had been extinguished."

"Extinguished...what are you saying...theres been multiple Gambits and every last one slugged to the death...?"

"You wanted the truth Nagi. Sorry, but I needed him to survive this long to finally realize a lightless wielder. A duty is assigned to the top brass in every cycle, and his duty has always been the same. One will break free from their duty and they alone will be bequeathed The Gazing Eye. The day the lightless wielder dawns, is the day the cycle of X and I's gambit can finally cease. It would mark the return of our old friend Finis, and inconsequentially...her vengeance against us will be carried through if she doesn't approve of the current state of the world and it's protectors. You guessed it, you guys. Good luck fighting against your direct counter, she's gonna have my blade at that and it's not ordinary by any stretch of the imagination. I can think of a few that might have a chance, but-- oh look at the time."

The Master raised his arm and pointed at what appeared to be a wave of light washing across the waterscape and sky, blindingly so. This radiance was so pure and alluring, that Komaeda swooned in distraction, but recognizing it's touch.

"Eth...hmph. I wasn't done talking...but thats enough I suppose...they're going to need to be informed after all...how unlucky."



To The Dorms Then.


Komaeda's body, a translucent shell began to populate and collect all of the pieces of his existence and began to mend together. He felt the shattering of glass, did his body...petrify? Still drowning in a sea of complete and perpetual light, he gripped his fists and twisted his torso. He was here, alive and in the flesh. The light soon faded and he was surrounded in a group, his memories began to collect and he started to fill in the gaps of the many years alongside the other resolutes pieced all in one shot. Grabbing his head, the surge was definitely something he wasn't expecting, neither was the next thing.

He was embraced by the arms of red leather. A moment of clarity, there was an impression of a face impressing into his back and needless to say he was startled. So much was happening and hitting him all at once. He turned and gazed at the tallest resolute of them all as he stood a mere five foot ten. Of course it was Try, but something was different about her, the helmet was gone. He smiled, it looks like that bullet did more than trigger memories and an escape, it actually cracked that infernal barrier between her and everyone else.

"Ugly mug? Have you not seen this hair? Utterly repulsive, I must admit though, I like seeing you like this. I've got a lot to answer for, but...it's because of you that I didn't exactly...die completely. Some part of me was still alive even after I put my resolve and life on the line. Sad sure...but i'll let you in on a little secret on why I was different..."

He cupped her hands for a second. "I was the secret to my own power, the resolve was just a way to freely control it..."

Komaeda placed the gun in her hand. "Remember this? I don't need it anymore...you can have it Try." Nagi smiled as he stroked her head from his tippy toes, and closed her palm to clutch the revolver.

"i'm feeling lucky today...how about you take that gun and shoot straight at that world ender up there. Saebyeolbe is pleading for your help after all. Thats not an ordinary gun as i'm sure you've noticed...I made it when I had my resolve, now that it's gone, it's basically a remote control that anyone can use, maybe if you wish hard enough before pulling the trigger, something of a miracle will happen...I'll bet the luck of my existence you do some serious damage if not outright take that thing down."

He took a step back having complete faith in his comrade and in his luck unequivocally.

"Go on Try, shoot it down."

Komaeda raised his hands to and clasped them together to form a finger gun, imitating a bang and pew noise. You'd think this was no time for joking and he was most assuredly serious. The heartless that trudged around them were being torn into by their comrades, and he, the least combat inclined of them all, simply pushed exerted his luck and betting on survival 1000%. As for how that would manifest itself was anyone's guess.

~~~~~~~

It was beyond anything one could imagine, just the sheer weight and complexity of everything. Little light...Freya, had ceased be. Eth hadn't forgotten Lucrecia's bold assertion to war, lightless wielder or no...betrayal ALWAYS had consequences, no exceptions. Kambria inched in Eth's arms as she stroked his face in relief to be alive. It was a fair guess to assume a time user like him had precognition, but he wasn't that well versed with time to possess such an ability on par with their master's foresight.

"Hey, easy now...we don't need you moving around too--"

"Leave her for...Shiki...ok."

"Hey...what are you saying...she's my respon-"

"Stop doing that...it's really annoying...we're your comrades, let us divide the work. You don't have to do it all by yourself."

There was a rush of darkness surging along the ground pathing to the box, Eth, and Kambria. His "0" flickered inside of his eye and time slowed dramatically, shifting himself to the right and drawing line in the pool. Time resumed, and light of light traced all the way back to the attacker.

Heartless. Every last one of them a pure-blood. The invisibles commanding darkballs, neo shadows, and the spiraling demon tower behind them. With baited breath, they ravaged the grassy planes knowing only their hunger for hearts to be sated. Without so much as a word, Eth's allies that came back nigh powerless, with keyblade in hands, took arms against wave of darkness. His eye widened, they needn't say more in acting in fair interest of a common goal. Survival? To see their master? Equally important set of priorities, but others like Yamato saw only to battle powerful foes, yet this oddly was also just as convenient.

Several things were flying in all directions, but the threat of death loomed over them all still. A hurricane of heartless whirled around group. The red eyes of a behemoth...and not a anything scaling to the size of one, it was a human...at least in appearance. There was heartless sigil on his chest, his eyes were red as blood. Eth had only ever glimpsed them once before crippling this poor fool on hollow bastion. This pressure of presence, it's what Luxu's...and the Lingering Will's felt like, and knowing this...he knew what he had to do.

Blades of light began forming in the blink of an eye, rapidly rotating in the opposite direction of the hurricane. Slicing his precious pets to ribbons before pausing the movement of the blades. He placed Kambria down and place his foot on box, it moved like flicker of a light switch with him in close proximity, at least ten meters of the hybrid. Being this close...this definitely wasn't like the last time, he could detect something of Saebyeolbe within Trace, a kind of indomitable spirit exemplified to maddening levels.

"End of the line, hybrid." Eth pulled a potent light from his side and it was his umbrella.



The eyes and menacing grin on Trace's face were in complete disbelief, he rolled his eyes, shifting to swing the massive cross to be stopped by Eth's umbrella.

"Didn't you hear me...?" the twinge and spritz of sparks between steel was evident. His umbrella, veiled in a potent light that was a pure as he was formidable an adversary. It definitely wouldn't go quick similar to the last time, Eth released a powerful pulse that was held at bay from the fumes of darkness the hybrid emitted. Flicking his umbrella down it retained it's slim and slender shape, a powerful light coursing through it.

The ground started to light up with small patches of light all across the entire grassy patches of the world, responding to Eth as he released a breath. "Impressive isn't it. Every step I've taken all over this world leaves a permanent imprint, mar--"

Eth ducked placing the hook of the umbrella's handle in between a trident meant to cleave his head clean off and he twisted, slamming the woman to the ground.

"!!!" Eth's eyes sharpened, "You were in the Realm of Darkness! Don't tell me your also-"

"Dante! Don't show him any mercy!" A claw-like tendril swirled from her shadow and clasped against Eth's umbrella.

"Great...more unplanned headaches. Lets not ok. Stop." he pointed his umbrella forward, as a time wheel dialated about a foot from her.

His footing was lighter than air, he thrust his empty palm into the wheel activating it. "Transcendence." The hour and minute hands dialated, rotating slowly as her initial movement went from being halted, to slowed. A small globule shape formed around her, and suddenly her body vanished.

"What??" Eth turned greeted with a sphere of darkness nearly about to press into his chest, time slowed and he stepped to the side. The sphere shattered his now vacant lock and it exploded behind him kicking up a burst of wind. "Tch...don't tell me...another one..?"

Eth scoffed sucking his teeth. The image of a keyblade flickered hanging from the hand of one of the hybrids. Dangling from the chain, canisters? His eyes darted in between each of them, one hung somewhere on their clothes. The youngest looking one, the keyblader broke into a run, Eth armed himself with his umbrella as she jumped above. Vanishing, but the wind of a body surfaced on his left side, he popped open the umbrella to deflect the jab of a trident.

"Position changing?" there was a small noise cue, and another switch happened, this time at the front. He tip-toed around sliding himself to the left as a swing downward from Trace's Cross cratered the ground. Coming over his back the keyblader darted with a kick, seriously? A kick? As he went to grab for her leg, he touched just barely, and he got moved with her as the woman with the trident nearly collided with Trace's cross.

"Tsk tsk. So they've got sympathizers now? Whatever." He dropped the kid, and the clock sigil formed under her, slowing her motions significantly. "Stay put, i'm gonna deal with them really fast."

Eth clasped his umbrella and gave it such a cute twirl. Contrary to what you might think, he actually has a limit to how many blades of light he can actively spawn and simultaneously control, it is only one one extinguishes or explodes can that one be replaced. Currently his limit was in effect, fending off the growing spawns of lesser shadows, darkballs, and neoshadows. The wind up from his umbrella collected light as the darkness overflowed from the two hybrids in a joint effort creating two massive orbs of darkness acting as rotating turrets. Gripping his umbrella with both hands, Eth held it in his center of gravity and and plastered a spinning shield of rotating light, effecting purifying the dark blasts as he was mercilessly pelted.

"You certainly don't seem to care about property damage...that hole in the atrium is on your tabs, scum." the radiated, causing a blinding effects that briefly stunned the two of them. "Sleep."

Dusklanzer flooded his empty hand, lightly pressing against the woman's chest. A dark passenger letting out a hellish scream as the light violently purged it from her human form. A hand violently whisked around turning into jaws that clasped the lesser heartless now disjoined from the woman. Laughter erupted from Trace as his own, Anti, devoured Dante in a single snap. The pressure billowing out from him was drawing a fever pitch. Tapping the woman, he dropped her next to the other human girl he left in slowed state.

"Thats two. Didn't like having to fight women, but hey...we got some tough ones too. Now then..."

He dropped his umbrella and opened it creating what looked like a massive shield of light. His dusklanzer extended forward from him connected by lit threads of light, protruding a massive aura surrounding it. "To think i'd actually to fight this hard without body of time...must be how Sae, Try, and Yamato feel."

"BURY HIM, ANTI!!!" Trace shouted in maddening delight, the darkness pooled at Eth's feet and fists spawned all around pummeling one after the other.

In his head he started counting, his movement was like that of a song. Eth weaved left in right using the expanded width of the umbrellas light to absorb several hits. The movement wasn't totally in slow motion, but his imprinted steps are what allowed him to move from spot to spot instantaneously to position himself for each incoming block. With a grit of his teeth he spun around and threw both arms out sending a flash in all directions to purify the pool the covered most of the field.

As the hybrid shielded itself from most of the blinding flash, Eth's blades that were still in play moved closer around. One piercing through and Eth moving to it's location providing a following slash from both his carried arms. Blade after blade, fading out as the resolute was quickly racking up damage to the protective aura surrounding the hybrid. Eth smiled, there was a feeling of adrenaline as the bastard actually started retaliating against his direct attacks at incredible speed. Definitely in likeness of someone he knew too well.

Blood drained from the hybrid's form, yet there was a laughter that echoed across the field. Pain. Adrenaline. Insanity. Darting towards Zero revealing the blade from the cross, and using it as a massive shield as well, brutally colliding with each other providing a multitude of physical attacks without relent. Eth danced with Trace, dead-locking blow for blow at speeds that would alarm anyone looking had he not of frozen the area around them in order to contain the travel of the shockwaves from their attacks hitting each other multiple times with an a ridiculous amount of power.

"I don't remember you being this powerful back then, what did you do to evolve to this point? Shiki and I left you as an act of penance!"

"I DIDN'T ASK FOR YOUR MERCY!!!"

A sphere of darkness blotting out the light of the sky, closing Eth and Trace within slowly started to rise from the ground and into the sky. Heartless staring to squirm through the bubble taking shape within the enclosed space. Visciously attacking the resolute and getting cut to ribbons by his blades as he was simultaneously locking blades with Trace. Eth was in a bit of a rough spot, the shockwaves rewound outside the sphere, and he limited the effects from breaking the air which would've effected everyone fighting on the field below. It was true...he'd never actually had to try like this, in all his time serving as a resolute, it was a brand new challenge for him, one he was treating with the very pinnacle of severity, prudence, and confidence.

"Sorry for sparing you, but I won't spare the heartless' you control or the ones within you. You might be a complete lunatic, but your still a human being that can do his time inside of a cell!"

Thrusting his arms back a ball of light was forming around Eth, the "0" in his eye flickering a bright white.

"All's End: Paragon of Light"

Eth was producing thick and moving turrets of light from the sphere colliding at a rapid pace with Trace's abhorring darkness drastically outpacing it. The twisting energies erupted from both positions, rapidly firing at each other. The darkness within the sphere was faster being purged faster than the hybrid could keep pace, adding another layer, time crawled for a mere two seconds. Eth had already moved with dusklanzer in hand, firmly planting the tip of the blade into the hybrid's chest.

"Never again Trace. You won't even remember that name. Sleep."

His keyblade rubbed against...ridges? Breasts? It was the girl! "You can't be serious!" she gripped dusklanzer pressuring it into her chest. "Let go kid...why the hell are you protecting this criminal!?"

The clattering of her teeth as she struggled to speak, barely able to resist the slow effect, he lifted it, and she gripped tighter.

"He's...one of the only friends I have left...if you hurt him...i'll never stop hunting you." this girl was crying, clearly not possessed, but on their side?

"That kind of foolish sentimentality...is only going to cause so much more people pain. I know a guy that keeps breaking himself on repeat to make sure his comrades are ok. It's love for sure, it's foolish yes, but somehow no one dies when he gets that selfish. What your doing, so many more will die because of your selfishness, so if your going to be selfish, do it for better reasons that won't make everyone else sad."

Her grip was firm, she squeezed, but soon the strength evaporated as the sobbing increased. There was a light drop as she fell to the floor of his bubble of light. Eth sighed, "Kid, you can visit him in jail, we're not going to ki-"

Eth's eyes darted to the left as he saw the hybrid move to kill from his blind spot, he swiped down, shattering the blade and cross with his dusklanzer buffed by the all's end, and pulled Trace up by the collar pressing his keyblade into his chest. "Lets close this chapter. This was never your story to begin with."

Purging the dark passenger from him, Anti was being purified by the continual blasts from Paragon of Light. Zero took a breath and invoked his power of memory, removing from Trace the elements that drove him to such darkness. The movement of words along the sky inside the sphere as he began rewriting and reconnecting his memories in arrangement. The sphere holding them all in place lowered to the floor and he released Trace and placed him next to the other woman, along with the kid that was with them, she being the only one conscious. Iontis skirted over providing the proper restraints for the now former hybrids as they both rest secured and unconscious.

Eth sighed, folding his umbrella back and placing it at his side. Dusklanzer desummoned, and his rotating blades of light proceeded to move over to protect the group as he stared at the thinning horde that remained. "Leave Recia to Shiki huh..." he couldn't help but repeat it quietly to himself as he stared at the box. Taking another deep breath before letting it go, he leaned down rubbing his hand against the box before sitting on it, right next Kambria who'd been leaning against it once it moved it back during his fight with the three hybrids.

"Trust huh? I'm learning to, cut a closed window like me some slack, these things take time..." he said pulling his scarf up to hide he slight blush his face made. "I...really called you all my friends...feels weird thats for sure. Lets not make it more weird..."

All that was left to do now was to rescue their home from the army of heartless that remained and get the record straight with Lucrecia. He was admittedly worried about her, but more than that...Zero turned his head to Komaeda and Try coercing with a gun he remembered all too well, he'd caught a glimpse of it briefly on his hip once they all stepped out of the light.

"He's not going to be a problem...right?" Eth said to Kambria, you could detect the nervousness in his voice.

"Loose canons are more of a problem to themselves, i think we'll manage just fine."
 
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Try looked at the revolver in her hands. It had a familiar weight to it, a weight that felt like it carried purpose. She glanced at Saebyeolbe, then to Komaeda. They seemed to trust that she could handle this. But could she? Placing hope in someone else was easy, but betting on herself? She may have cast the mask away, but that didn't mean she believed in what was underneath it. Her mind went back to the last time she held a gun like this, another time she had trouble pulling the trigger.

More than a decade ago, on her home world of Greyat, she was pointing a gun at her best friend. Both of them were covered in wounds, the aftermath of a battle between the two of them. The ever present ash that fell from the sky was beginning to accumulate on the gunmetal shaft of the revolver.

"It's my loss, at the very least I'm glad it's you." Her friend whispered, a weary, tired smile on their face. Try clenched her teeth, sorrow and fury fighting to be the emotion that came out.

"What are you talking about!? All you had to do was listen, Father would have forgiven you, I'm sure of it." She pleaded. Her friend simply shook their head.

"Father doesn't forgive traitors, besides, he never liked me. Man... You can almost see the city on the horizon from here." Her friend looked to the north, Try followed their gaze. She didn't see anything. "I can't go back, I don't want to anyway. I'd rather die free than take another order from that man." Their eyes went back to Try, they looked tired.

Try could see it, their eyes had a look she'd seen too many times to count. They wanted to die. "You knew you wouldn't be able to run away..." There was a quiet understanding between the two. Her friend, still on their knees, took Try's hands in her own.

"You're a lot softer than you seem Try, always have been. Here, let me help you." Their hands gripped her finger around the trigger of the gun. Try attempted to pull away, but couldn't.

"Wait, please! You don't have to do this. W-we can both run away together. We can find someone to get rid of these collars, they won't find us." Sorrow prevailed over fury. Her friend shook her head and pressed the gun to her chest.

"Live on Try, I'm glad I met you." More force was applied to the trigger.

"Wait, Please, I lo-"


*BANG*
Back in the here and now, Try pulled the trigger. She was weak back then, and it cost her everything. She wasn't going to let that happen again.
 
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Hit the ground running, there was only a series of slashing and slicing. These resolutes were certainly fighting for their very lives against the tide of the encroaching darkness. The ambivalence I felt, an indifference for the dark and light, and a rage towards one that ended up billowing over for Try's massive mistake early on. She wasn't the one that garnered all of this ire...no, and that was ever the more certain once I remembered it.

The Gazing Eye was clutched in my hand, I painted it in red aura from Anima as that anger was simmering into a well of heat, bolstering to deplete the air of lingering effects of omni. To my left, Eth had released a ridiculous amount of light that could blot out all shadows, directed purely at the hybrids and surrounding heartless.

Sae, Try, and Komaeda were dealing with the colossal scale of a world ender, Kambria was out of commission, the rest of the guys were fighting against the influx of constant heartless. That left one on the list.

"Finally." I said feeling the heat start to rise, my blood pumping, and increase in speed as I darted in for blood taking papa's military and dojo hybrid training to it's limits. A loud clang, as the Gazing Eye clasped against Memento Mori and a less than friendly stare.

"The master's dog. I'll never forget what you did to us...all in the name preserving a lie...? I hope it was worth it...!"

I pushed back against her and clutched my chest, my heart was pounding, you had no idea the amount of anger I had for Shiki as opposed to anyone else. Someone I cared dearly for, memories of fondness, vigor and tenacity. With grief from past failings, you would think she need not be guided by our master, on command or duty to engage and muddy her hands with repeat affairs akin to her past sins...yet this was not the case.

"I've already beaten Sae today...I really didn't want to...I didn't want to fight any of you...but you're different Shiki..." I raised my head, the next set of steps were lit up with the sound of key blades clashing completely uninterrupted, her hair flowed as mine was losing more and more of it's white strands, and being painted red.

"You lied to us Shiki...you lied. Eth lied. The master lied. If he was willing to throw us to the wolves, bank on us turning on each other...and for us to actually hurt each other...and to be complicit with his orders?? And you call yourself my friend!? FUCKING LIAR!"

The hits became more and more aggressive, triggering tremors and thunderous sounding vibrations.

"Every last one of us was agonizing...suffering...but there was no need for what either of you did. We could've figured something out!"


"No...we couldn't." Shiki uttered with nary a whisper, "I know Sae better than most, he'd go to the ends of the world looking for our master who was already long gone...and Eth couldn't speak, neither could I...you know to break role is taboo...no matter what it is we we're tasked with."

Her arm was shaking, was this the pain that The Whisper had elected to shoulder all this time? Not just me, but Sae...Try, Yamato...back then they all began to vanish one by one alone and never returned until Sae, Eth, Shiki, Try and I remained.

"You should be holding this Keyblade, not me, but I'm kind of glad you aren't honestly...all that stuff you said to us, sure you weren't just getting into character and talking around us...if it was your job to spin stories on us, I can only imagine what you never told him."

"All of us would've been better off forgetting about you." I rose my Keyblade as my eyes were solid red now, "Moving forward without you, is the only way forward, I look forward to putting you out of your misery for how hard you've had to live up until now. I can't forgive you for what you did to us. I can't trust you after the Realm of Darkness either Shiki...but what I can do is end it."


"...You...really make it sound so simple Recia...when the reality is...all of these decisions have been extremely difficult for Eth, for myself, Sae...even for you." I could see the melancholy in Shiki's eyes, "...When Sae hugged me, I could peer into his memory for a brief second...there was no hesitation in throwing himself in between you and Try to stop you both from killing each other, even at the expense of his own well-being. Through him you start to understand that relentless trying will eventually get you to where things finally start to go right."

I was on the back foot and stepped back, averting my eyes as my fist started to shake.

"It's excruciating...it's difficult, and to wake up completely deafened to what we knew of ourselves...of each other, and to have to face that awful truth of the lives we'd lead up til then, and to resolve to work together...that was the master's aim from the beginning." Shiki's hand was shaking too, I could feel as though our hearts were racing with anxiety. "If that foundation was built on distrust, then all we can do...is what we can to repair it and make things right, to keep trying until we get it right."

Was this what it felt like, hearing a liar speak in truths? Her guard was down, there was no pressure of violence or even the act of defense. Yet for some stranger reason my body refused to cooperate here...was this remorse?

"Omni's got some interesting taste in protege. You put it into words that even I'm aligned to." the words leaving my mouth weren't my own, "It's only natural...that we spill our souls now rather than wait for the heartless to demolish everything else in this crumbling reality."

"Sorry Lucrecia...I'm gonna be taking your body and that fools blade." what?! It felt like a red gauntlet burst from my breast holding what looked like a closed fist and releasing my heart from my body.


"What the hell?!" Shiki without hesitation beckoned her chains to capture Lucrecia's heart and crafting a small cage that she held close to her. "Don't tell me..."

"Sooner or later you were going to show yourself. Lady Finis."

My heart detached, my body succumb, it started to change. My hair had elongated some after I'd just hoped it down, a long scarlet trail slaking over both shoulders. Two red eyes, soft cheeks, and a slender shaped face. A hand that fiercely gripped onto the masters key and the aura of Anima ripped and cracked blowing through the field and cutting the heartless forceless into a nigh noticeable crawl with one pulse.

"I am Anima. Finis Anima, Lost Master that served alongside X and Omni. The Lightless, and I am here to judge the lights of Omni's brats." she pointed straight, "You scrubs." there was a criminal smirk met with a thumb hovering in the middle.


She looked at Shiki with intrigue, then the other idiot with curly hair who had this oddly deprived look on his face as a nuclear warhead had gone off in the background while the other woman was holding a gun, smoking at the barrel. Finis hand still hovered in the middle somewhere and she started to speak, "You guys have made some terrible choices. Inside and outside of roles, it's fair to say my judgement of you has only gotten increasingly complex the more I've listened to and lived your individual experiences. So I'll just do what she came here to do and just release all that frustration out on one person."

Finis raised her finger and pointed at Shiki. "Ready for that boss fight No. 2? You really think just doing what Omni wanted you to do was necessarily the right decision? What did listening to that fool even really accomplish in the end other than the ire from this girl. Who exactly did you spare? No one. Who exactly did you save? NO ONE. Don't you see how what you said about hard choices...ends up being complete bullshit anyway if you aren't dealing in the interests of preserving what you want to protect. You can dress it up all you like in Omni's rules and this is what master told me to do, but you're still responsible for all that suffering and pain that you wrought and the that others writhed through because of it. Lying. Suppression, but you're good at those things aren't you? Who would accept those awful qualities and call themselves belonging to the light or even Twilight? You're utterly disgusting."


"....." Shiki was at a bit of a loss here, "...It's as I said to Recia before...making the right choice was never easy, but if it will bring myself and my comrades just one step closer to a better future..." Shiki raised her head

"Then I'll sully my hands with soot, dirt, and black if that's what it takes to see them survive long enough to see a better future!"

"Is a puppet just supposed to mouth back what it's master-"

"That is what I believe! I decided that for myself a very long time ago. We may have made a commitment to the Master, but he said to every last one of us that every action is on our shoulders. Deception. Betrayal. Acceptance. Forgiveness. He didn't shame us or belittle us for how those decisions manifested, can't you understand how complex our individual situations were??" Shiki started to remind me of Sae, though disembodied, I could hear her pouring her heart out from within the cage formed by the chains.

This was how you really felt about everyone...about yourself wasn't it? Eth said these things...that it was extremely hard for him, Sae's had to live that out mantra his entire life...Try, Reforge, everyone has had to go through some of the most awful situations they could barely stomach. Why did we all end up...together then? Why choose to become resolutes carrying these burdens...was it because we sought to distance ourselves from it? Maybe...it's because despite all these problems, we moved with the best of intentions and sought to care about others, even if our actions somehow came to blows.

"It's true. Omni has explained many times, just how complex the human heart is, but I've only ever seen it in black and white." Finis clasped the Gazing Eye and struck at Shiki's blade, an insurmountable strength billowing out of the blade, increasing in pressure as she started to sink into the ground. "Resolutes? Your just suffering children grasping at what you think the world is...when really it's already been long dead...BECAUSE of you."

Finis swept Shiki away with a powerful swing and slid across the ground, slamming into the box.

"
You won't get Lucrecia's body back by lack of resistance." Finis eyes looked up and connected with Eth's, "Zero. Look at this pathetic site at your feet and answer this question. Do you really take pity on a different kind of traitor altogether than Lucrecia was? That woman at your feet, does she deserve to even dwell in the realm of light? A terrible history...a tragic undertaking of the weight of displacement from a family and a realm. Pitiful, but all of these things were choices chosen by her. Can you defend such decisions...call this woman your comrade, let alone friend? Omni's curiosity always made him a shitty judge of character and he sure as hell made a mistake with this one."

Finis raised her open palm directed at Shiki, gathering a charge of Anima before releasing it to travel her way.


"A long time ago..." Shiki pulled herself to stand, clutching memento mori tight, "...I asked him why he chose me, what the reason was-"

A hand rest on Shiki's head, it was brilliant and warm.

"Can we just cut the semantics Finis? No one here is going to let you put down a friend." Eth opened his umbrella and caught the impact of the blast from Anima as it rolled off his mother's umbrella. "Whatever anyone has done, past or present...we can work towards making things better, making our worlds better. Thats what all of us have in common, it's why we're even here."


Finis lowered her hand, there was a long pause.

"The master knew what he was doing with every last one of us. Something he had to take, was a risk, putting all of our natures and views of the world in one place and chancing that we'd come to our own conclusions about how it should be, together after using our hardships in our own lives, as well as ones we inevitably ended up creating independently as well as together. Not one of us is the ideal person, but as a collective, that is what we need to reshape the world into a more balanced state...omni or not, resolve or not, resolute or no longer, everyone here is needed, matters, and is to be protected...Shiki and Lucrecia, no one is excluded."

Eth was emitting a light cascading over the dorms.

"I said it before didn't I? Trust is NOT Resolute...but given time, it can be rebuilt. Is the suffering we experience in between, not worth the resilience gained from those grim times in order to create more smiles? Even peace has a price Finis...now let us pay it."


I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Shiki clutched my heart close, as if I could hear her subconscious thoughts. It was to protect me, to return me to my body, when I'd done nothing but grate on the actions she took without bothering to understand the reason for them.

Finis lowered her hand and simply sighed, clutching The Gazing Eye. "If that is your answer Zero." the cage of chains shattered and my heart was whisked away being merged with my body once more. "Then I'll conclude to let you children deal with your troublesome master on your own. You're more than fit to do with the worlds all that you need to ensure the balance is preserved. I'll trust you on that front...even you, Shiki."

Once again, I could hear it. Sound, smell, sensation inside and out of spatial awareness, I was here in my body. Glowing with a radiation of red power in that of Anima, but that unbearable sense of anger had all but dissipated. I turned to Shiki and clutched her tight in my arms, both keyblades dropping to the ground and landing where they stood. Those memories, the fondness I felt, those were as real and valid as everything she had conveyed to them, no role could obstruct them from their true selves indefinitely.

"Sorry for being...beyond unbearable!"


"H-hey, listen. One day at a time, I've been telling you that for years. Neither you nor Sae like to listen." Shiki pat Recia's back.
 

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Two different battles were taking place below. The wind beating against Sae's back as he lifted himself higher and higher edging ever closer to the impact zone of the massive World Ender. He flipped himself backwards clasping his hands as scar in the form of a burn mark ebbed off his skin and flowed into Mortem's palms. The twinge of pain was like ripping a scab half-the body wide, but he endure. He already knew nothing less than a Flare level spell or higher was going to do anything to these things so he came prepared.

"This one's...way bigger than the other one, is this really going to be enough?" Sae briefly glanced down at the ground. "????"

His eye met with Komaeda's as he coerced Try into wielding the gun he used all those times in the past. Hot flashes, goosebumps as he was charging for a mega flare attack, suddenly laced with uncertainty from that uncomfortable smile he produced. Maybe it was just his imagination, he didn't feel the presence of his Resolve, or any of the others besides Shiki's who's was still intact.

Could it be it was just him then...? He was, after all, a real wildcard.

Mortem clasped at the sides at the attack as it swelled a massive array of heat into a fixed form. It's nails began digging in for grip, burning into its fingers, and as a recoil Sae could feel the sensation. Throwing his hands forward, he pushed away from the slow moving mega flare attack and entered a state of free-fall as he heard nothing but the sound of a shot, even louder than Eth's blasts against the hybrid, louder than Shiki's Chains clutching Lucrecia's heart.

Suddenly he remembered something. Something awful. Something Eth and Shiki unfortunately had to do. The images were brief flashes before, but now they seemed relatively clear in the present day. The writhing in his chest as he clutched, struggled to breathe for a brief moment and the bullet zipped past him hitting square in the center. The chain reaction felt immeasurable as he fell, entering the falcon dive position again, Mortem imitating his movements.

The power welled up in that bullet expanded the Mega Flare to such a proportion that it covered the entire sky in fire. His skin crawled remembering the heat that incinerated Allison on top of him. His breath grew shorter and shorter as Mortem was starting to decay, reverberations of explosions within the one happening at 75% their normal potency frying the World Ender to ash and soot, the sound of thunderous explosions multiplying rapidly. That laugh, something he could never un-hear, Komaeda's laughter that heckled about in the chaos of the scene.

He he fell, almost as if by some stroke of luck, there were meteoric bursts of light honing all around them colliding with the heartless on the ground as the others who were fighting to keep them at bay fought them off. Mortem dissipated, from Sae as he was just about at the ground, he couldn't tell if this was because of his suddenly drop in concentration or something else. Either way, he landed panting and pulling Try by the hand to rush over to Shiki and Lucrecia. She seemed to be clutching Shiki in her arms...sobbing?
Sae stopped, panting nearly out of breath running over to them.

"Is everyone ok?? Shiki? Recia? You both nearly gave me a heart attack!" Sae's face writhed a bit, maybe he was trying to do it all? Friends fighting each other....friends...fighting each other...he remembered. He looked at Shiki, then Eth, then Lucrecia, and finally Try.

"Everyone...is fine." Sae sighed in relief, "Eth...Shiki...everyone. Did we...make the right choices up til now?"

He folded his arms, "...If I remembered or not, if I knew what I knew then...I still would've done the same things. Try and Recia, those keyblades really hurt by the way, but what other choice did I have?" Sae has something of a warm smile, it seemed a bit sad though. "Did we ever really talk about what we'd been through as individuals....as friends? Seems that no matter what happens, I could never abandon any of you...then, now, I've always been willing to suffer for you."

Sae looked up at the cracked atrium of the dorms.

"Friends...we're friends, not just comrades right?" his smile became more genuine, "I...really love all of you. Theres nothing I wouldn't do to protect all of you...because you became the family I longed for that I lost all those years ago...and I love every last one of you."

Sae was trembling a bit, trying to couple his arms, as a rush of emotions that'd been welling up this whole time. Doubts of the past that merged with this iteration of himself. This blind obsession, loyalty that tempered so fine, a wedge was placed between himself and those that didn't conform to that resolve. It seemed to be as Eth said, the master's goal was to place divisive ideals and take the risk that they'd all find common ground, even at the expense of hurting each other. His body ached, he could physically remember the chains, how it must've hurt her to be tasked with something to harm her companions...all in an effort to get them here.

"So from now on...just tell me, tell each other...what has you hurting, what has you upset...please?"

Sae's arms were long, they wrapped from Try to Eth and coupled around Recia and Shiki who were on the ground.

"Even if...times like these, get really tough for everyone...can we all try to be a little more open. After the kind of hell we've had to live through, I think I wanna scream at the Master right about now." Sae lifted the four of them up with a tensing arm, the rest of them had gathered around. Luxu, Komaeda, Jaz, Iontis, Yamato, Reforge, and Kambria.

"Its nice...not getting cold eyes for a change. I can tell, you've all got good intentions...even if our actions haven't represented ourselves very well...ha...hahaha.....haa..." Sae started to trail off and laugh, slowly regressing into a sob. Tears releasing from his eyes as he soon started to ball his eyes out right along with Lucrecia. Everything physically was fine for the most part, but he was overjoyed to have finally remembered them all and to say how he really felt, finally.

"Thanks for giving me a place to fit in...to let me know that I didn't suffer in vain, that every action had meaning, that I was appreciated for all and that disagreements had didn't devolve our bonds to nothing. Thank you!" He was blubbering, feeling the others that had gathered coupling him in their arms. "It's good to be home. No more dark days for the dorms, can we agree on that?"
 
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Just Dari

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The master stood up from his chair as he watched the crystal ball that hovered in the middle of the table, above it. His hand raised slowly, almost as if it meant to cup his mouth. There was a sense of disbelief, almost completely bewildering for one as inquisitive as himself. When you can't guess the future, when you can only view it through The Gazing Eye, you narrowly hold this caliber of expectation. It was...truly the impossible unfolding right before his eyes.

Finis, how mad that woman was. How judgmental, holding unrealistic balance of how the world was viewed, that these beings despite their flaws, flirted this close with the darkness of negative emotions yet called themselves "resolute". A concept, nuanced in nature that the master had long since explained to her and "X" many, many times over the years. She didn't understand that all these concepts, rules, and ethics were flawed and to the master there was a beauty in how complex the human heart was and has always been.

This disagreement went on, leaving Finis to make a bet. She compressed the essence of her existence collectively to trigger once the rage manifested by outright resentment for the master. Deeming that sole person, light-less, and by the master's definition, a traitor. A traitor that would become the foil that molds the rest of the flock of his apprentices to decide if they should chose openly to spill the blood of their friend, whilst dealing with many complex decisions and actions taken against each other.

The question has always been, how much more can his resolutes take? He's asked this question over and over, in each parallel reality, in each new timeline that Luxu traveled to, would this be the bunch that brings Finis forward. This success, it didn't feel deserved...for the number of timelines in which all but Luxu were eradicated, all the times a Dark Wielder emerged and selfishly re-wrote reality to reset everything just for them to do it all over again. This timeline, once things were said and done, would ripple effect and fix all the others.


He dropped his hood.

"...the roles have been completed. Your forces straddled, and the traitor has been accepted as is to my Resolutes side."

His hand dropped as he stared up fixated at the orb. There was a black eye-patch long like a bandana tied around his left eye, as the right one opened. The master let out a sigh, as there was a mass of darkness that was forming into smaller manifestations surrounding them table. The formless figure, slowly becoming and taking shape as it removed a piece from the board, a shadow over the dorms.


"All that confidence has lead you to the endgame younger master. Here we are, the formless enemy that has eluded your smiting for all these years, finally charged to play into our destinies. Our expansion attempts, mitigated some by those detestable stubs of light you call Resolutes. It's clear that we will never understand each other...unimagineable suffering awaits them. I trust you're prepared for whats coming, young master."

The image what what looked to be a human form fizzled out to it's formless shape once more. There were a total of eleven darknesses, floating masses of darkness which had effectively been losing their strength over the course of Eons. Dealt a debilitating blow, 7 of the 20 in total, were completely exorcised during the master's youth. The thirteen that remained had acclimated to being move around as game-pieces, as the very forces that shifted thirteen worlds into harrowed ends. What effectively happens, is that location/world is released from it's grasp or control, but that event is repeatable and can happen again. Keep in mind, flipping a destination doesn't "destroy" darkness, only few methods can achieve such a feat.

  • Exorcism. (To remove from existence) [FYI. Anima is the only known power that can do this.]
  • Purification. (Purification via an "All's End" activation)
  • Sealing. (Usually within an object blessed with warding and multiple locks)
When you understood the master's position, it wasn't something he could simply do on his own. To get to the heart of the matter, his position was one that cared greatly for the balance of existence, alongside X and Finis. It comes as no great surprise, that the keyblades were tools that could possess wielders of all affinities, light, dark, twilight and all in between. Their hearts made balance...a headache to put it lightly, the master attempted to take some of the most controversial elements and pool them all together. Principles. Concepts even. Each Resolve...were things he deemed of value, values themselves, and he matched as best he could an apprentice to a principle or conviction.

Almighty - Omni - The Master of Masters
∞. Continuum - Luxu
0.Time - Eth
I. Indomitable Will - Saebyeolbe
II. Divine Protection - Shiki
III.Rebound All Opposition - Try (name unknown)
IV. Nullification[Exorcism] - Lucrecia [Finis]
V. Hope & Despair - Komaeda, Nagito
VI. Paradigm - Jay/Jaz
VII. Growth & Evolution - Iontis
VIII. Insatiable Hunger - Yamato
IX. Knowledge & Linguistics - Reforge
X. Desire - Midna/Kambria


"You seem to be spending a lot of time thinking" The dark figure spoke, "This is the endgame afterall. What more can those resolves stomach? Betrayal. Treachery. Bludgeoning. Grief. What more must the darkness take to break even the most stalwart of them?"

The master let a sigh fade from his breath. Truly, he was tired, no one had made it this far and this was unpredictable territory to say the least. His resolutes had some idea of the plan in fragments, they'd witnessed and overcome Finis to whom willingly chose to cooperate, no one had ever successfully done that before now, let alone caused her to appear. The hardest part of everything he'd put together, Luxu would finally be tasked with explaining the rest. He couldn't interfere with the traitor's "Reckoning" but once resolved, he had the conditions met to reveal the rest of the plan. Rules were rules, as I'm sure they realized by now.

"This games conditions have been some of the most debilitating yet. My apprentices...family even, have seen some of the worst tragedies no one person should bare witness to. How they navigate to shift the balance, I can only observe the same as you old friend. Trust, that even though a grim fate awaits, that they will meet the challenge and obstacle ahead with a smile."

There was a wry smile on the master's face, his age had shone through from Eons of waiting. X's fate was inseperable from Kingdom Hearts, just as he'd always wanted it to be. Finis who vanished under the current criteria, to leave him to watch everything thus far. He felt at the empty eye socket as he could see them through (now Lucrecia's) The Gazing Eye, his eye.

"Not that it means anything to you old friend...but I'm proud of them." The master smiled and pulled his hood up, "The truth however...is nothing short of a living nightmare...thats all I can say."

He stared up at the crystal ball diligently as the box flashed across.


"What is so special about that box?" The Darkness inquired as it grew in mass, sheer curiosity alone.

The master turned on a heel and placed a finger to his lips. "Shhhhhh. Don't wanna ruin the surprise, after all, you've been this patient. You can wait just a little while longer." it was good to see he hadn't quite lost his playful side. Folding his arms behind his back, he watched them ball together, even Luxu and couldn't help but feel a sense of victory. A sense of ending that neared, and he was...sincerely remorseful for how the course of things have played out and unfolded for them, especially those that were burdened with roles.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​


Komaeda applauded Try as he watched the sky light up in what looked like a nuclear warhead. The bullet collided marvelously with The Scarred's Mega Flare attack and the fire was nothing short of a splendid display of bravado. Simply beautiful. That smile had shown through as the smoke sizzled over the barrel and consumed the darkness, ashes and debris falling, slamming into other heartless as they combusted halting the resolutes fighting to prompt them to stop.

All Komaeda again could do was laugh. So he laughed, with a heretic's tone that was pretty distinct to him. It may have been fire, ash, cinders, smoldering to effectively destroy the ozone layer above them...but through and through...it was light. Clutching at his shoulders he trembled, taking of note as Shiki was being confronted by Lucrecia.

"Sooner or later you were going to show yourself. Lady Finis."

He said it faintly, looking up as the fire was still burning ever feverishly into the sky, he turned to Try. "Isn't that light beautiful?" Komaeda smiled and closed his eyes, "Seems like they're having a quarrel over there, not sure if we shou-"

Before he knew it, Saebyeolbe had dropped down and grabbed Try by the arm before Komaeda could even complete his thought. "...And you were supposed to be the one guy that wasn't rude? Hmph."

Turning on his heel, he started to walk behind them keeping something of a cunning smile on his face. She still had his gun, and to be frank he didn't exactly retain what the master had gifted him upon his death. There were however some much needed details that needed to be hashed out in the coming moments, that he was certain. One look at Shiki and his nose turned away, drenched in an over-saturation of darkness...he wanted to vomit. Wakeless Sleep or not, his sensitivity to the dark realm was unmatched, and he utterly abhorred the darkness with his very being, ignorant to the negative energy he produced as a result.

As the slowly gathered around, it seems like the exchange of dialogue because lucrecia, shiki, finis, and Eth had finally slowed to a crawl. With Sae's burst onto the scene, somehow their entire group had gotten sucked inward as he hugged the first five of them, as the remainder circled around him, twelve resolutes in total. Something about listening to Saebyeolbe talk was always comforting to Komaeda, his light despite being tempered and worn, was almost always the brightest in terms of his spirit. He nodded his head and turned to Try.

"Sorry for being...well, crazy...and leaving you by yourself from before. It won't happen again Try." Komaeda actually laughed quite nervously, but even he understood gambling with his life...did have very real effects on his comrades, especially Try in particular. She was perhaps a bit more volatile than he initially remembered, but if what Sae said about getting sandwiched into between those two was anything to go off, it'd be best to keep that part of Try in line. Something, he seemed to be very good at doing with his own stupidity coupled with his unbridled obsession.

"Shiki." he said as he made eye contact with her, and his eyes looked more serious than usual, "I always knew it was you, but more importantly, you...Eth, Luxu, share what you know and I too, will tell you what I learned in death." Komaeda may have held it back some, but he was definitely glad to see everyone again as well as remembering them. "Lets head inside everyone. We've got a lot of catching up to do...oh and Eth..."

Komaeda pointed at the sky, field, and then the Atrium glass dome, "Looks like your gonna be busy cleaning up this mess." he gave the most insincere and yet sarcastic smile you could fathom.


Chapter 5 End
Here To Reclaim Our Fate
 
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Just Dari

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Chapter 6
Another Time Another Worldline



1 week ago...
The Dorms: Outside Fields


To say that they were in pretty rough shape was an understatement. Eth was still a bit wobbly from the amount of power he'd output in order to effectively purify both of those hybrids. It was good that he could rely on Iontis, powerless or not, to detain them to which they'd see the proper authorities off-world fairly soon. There was a fleeting sigh of relief that came from Eth, as he was gripped and lifted by Sae in a cluster smothered with Try, Shiki, and Recia all within his arms. You could hear him sobbing in relief as he gripped them somewhat uncomfortably tight before letting them down.

Shiki rubbed Sae's head, Recia was still bound to her at the hip, crying egregiously as a show of remorse. "Don't mind him, he's just relieved everyone is ok." she released a less reserved smile as she stroked his head. "It's been a long day..."

Well to say that Eth could wrap his head around that was an understatement. He looked at Sae for a moment, having this really odd feeling, still new to him to describe. Then again at Lucrecia, whether you can blame what she did on Finis...or Eth's lack of rage somehow...diminishing, or being transferred to Sae. Something about it all, made him hesitant more so than normal...and he didn't like that. The zero flickered in his eyes, and he could see the feint flash of their individual auras...being eased and taken in slowly by Sae.

There was a pause from him, slowly breaking the retreat into his thoughts when Komaeda spoke, apologizing to Try profusely. Zero snapped out of his trance and caught the tail end of that, as Komaeda pointed to the sky and to the dorm's atrium where the glass ceiling was shattered. Eth turned and gave him a cordial thumbs up, letting them all know he'd fix all the damage that the world...no, their home, had sustained.





Eth raised his hands. The "0" illuminated in his left eye, surely the damage caused by the confrontation here was nothing to overlook. His body began to emit a weak ray of light as he released smaller lights, about the size of fireflies to scatter throughout. The light was imbued with a respective trait that hovered over a fixed range and worked with it's counter parts. A flick of Eth's wrist, as the lights illuminated brighter and brighter as he'd come to mend the sky from an anguished and chaotic sea of a fire. The softness of midnight that had long since fallen the world, had returned, offering what stars that remained.

The thought of the lingering remnants that remained was an abundantly clear reminder of a task they'd yet to completely finish. Those worlds that were blotted out by the darkness, the harrowed ends that remained, needed to be resolved soon. He turned his attention as he waved his palm and sent those lights towards the atrium. Time dilating in reverse, the glass was picking itself up from the floor of the lobby, and repairing the atrium until the glass was pristine clear of cracks.

He lowered his hand.

"It's done." Eth said as he released a sigh, "We'll take those two to holding for questions tomorrow, then release them. Theres no dark presence lingering, I made sure of that. Everyone else, rest, we'll meet in two days to share our information."

"And you, Eth?" Shiki crossed a gaze as the others turned.

"Give me a few minutes." he released a breath, walking further out into the fields away from the dorms.

Eth reached the top of the hills, far away from him. Finally hitting him, washed in a sea of several different complex emotions. Feeling the death of Reyzel and Freya, and the near death of Kambria who brought them both (Reyzel & Freya) to be. He released a painful sob, billowing out the pain dampened by being in proximity of Sae who seemed to have been a sponge for everyone's storm and stress. Alone finally, he cried...and he cried...and he cried.




5 days ago...
The Dorms; The Master's Study

[Zoldyck Family Theme - (Violin&Piano Cover)]

The Master's Study. Eth had asked them all to gather here after they'd taken two days to rest. Some of the emotional and mental damages suffered...it'd take more than time magic to mend. Shiki sat at the master's desk, Eth leaned against it. Everyone else stood in attendance, every one save for their missing master naturally.

"Now that we're all here, we will be exchanging information from all parties. Since everyone's memories are back, lets reiterate Resolute Rules." Eth had the master's book in his hand.



  • Resolutes are only to battle in a training or duel environment upon the chant "Thy Kingdom Come"​
  • Resolutes assigned a role are bound to that role until completion​
  • Breaking role means forfeit of your resolve which then returns to the master​
  • If you agreed to pre-existing terms or additional conditions, breaking those terms also forfeits resolve.​

"That about covers the most important rules and taboos. Explaining them upfront should make this a short conversation. If you cannot speak due to a pre-requisite, announcing that now gives us information on it's own to help with figuring out the overall outline of whats happening. Komaeda, tell us what you know first."

"Fair enough. I don't have any pre-requisite conditions, the master was reluctant to gift higher numbered Resolutes with a role or extrapolating stress...I mean roles, but I digress." he shrugged, clicking his flashlight in Try's face.

"I'm going to kill you..." she said with an irritated scowl.

"The master left with him a fragment somewhere between the realm of sleep and death, which is where I ended up. Introducing himself to me by his name. Omni. Said he was one of three masters, the other two being X and Anima...or as we know now, Lady Finis." He cut Lucrecia a stare for any kind of reaction at all. "He went on to give me a shotty history lesson, saying that they worked together as a trio of some accord attempting to balance each other, and by extension the worlds. His idea was to create rules, structure, some manner of order, but humans have a tendency to be imperfect and test the waters of that order, thus the vile evils of darkness bore fruit. The same enemy we face now, ironic isn't it...considering we brought about what happened, we were always just as vulnerable."

It was quiet for a moment as eyes traced at each other's faces.

"Theres a Gambit happening right now. A gauntlet of light vs dark, he said as much himself. A traitor always appears and the nature of the betrayal determines the kind of traitor. An act of malice was needed for a lightless wielder, to feel that stronger than anything else. Lucrecia's malice for Try...but more so Shiki's actions were the catalyst that pushed her to the brink and that set the stage for Finis' return and with it her malice towards the master bled over into Lucrecia. No matter how you look at it, Finis was following the rules...even if she ended up doing some pretty awful things in the process."

Lucrecia squeezed her fist and pressed into her thighs. There was no pride felt in assault Try, Sae, and then executing Freya and nearly killing Kambria. Eth's actions were immutable in that instance, it just didn't make any sense to her, fully expecting to unleash the rage of Omni's "Zero" and he bore her only the brunt of a contained kindness and a chance at redemption, that they would figure it out.

"Finis wasn't expecting my reaction. I wasn't either, it almost felt like I wasn't in control of how I was feeling...but more importantly it didn't make what I said to her any less true." Eth looked at Sae once more indicating that he was the reason his rage had ultimately diminished back then.

"Shiki. Tell us what you know."

Shiki placed a book on the master's desk. "This tome is the book of prophecies. In my investigations on other worlds, the master was leaving me clues, and this was the final clue I managed to find. It lines up with Komaeda's explanation, the master had to leave codes as he could never tell us directly what our roles were in the grander scheme."

She began to the sift through the pages and talking about some of the more relevant parts that aligned with them in the present.

"Darkness. It's...the real focus of his messages...thirteen of them...seven down from twenty in total. Formless...formidable, have existed for a very long time. Thats the enemy the master's been up against, prepared us for even...but we can't fight something formless."

"What do you mean?" Sae tilted his head, "Formless...wait a second...those hybrids were being controlled before by potent powers that be. Could they be related."

"Unfortunately, nothing specific to that type of enemy was listed in the bestiary, but there was a disturbing note of how they are responsible for the pure-blood heartless and can dwell within humans harboring a collective of negative-emotions or alternatively, have had a prolonged exposure to...The Realm of Darkness."


Everyone felt a chill flow down their spine. They'd all be placed under those conditions, an immense emotional stress generating negative emotions from the roles, their master's departure, in-fighting and the eventual exposure to the realm of darkness or harrowed ends. Everything started to line up to foster a guess in terms of why they were there.

"I don't like being the one to share the truth with you...but, every last one of us is a vessel for the remaining darknesses..." there was a grim look on Shiki's face as she closed the book of prophecies.

"Then that works in our favor." Luxu said breaking his silence. "Look, theres plenty I am not at liberty to say due to the conditions I agreed to with the master. There is no rule that says I am unable to confirm or deny information that has been spoken. Thus far I can confirm that what Shiki has said, Komaeda, and the words Lucrecia spoke while influenced by Finis, are all in alignment."

Everyone gave a nod in Luxu's direction, awfully quiet, they had to assume that Finis was not at liberty to speak as freely as she'd like to. So with that being said, all that remained was Eth's information.

"Seems we've only my information remaining...well, it's a lot more than I'm sure anyone is really prepared to hear after what Shiki said..."

Eth stared at the floor for a brief second the looked into the group as he stood unfolding his arms. "Luxu can't say anymore, but I looked into his memories at some point during our battle here. This "Gambit" has happened...more than once...in fact. One of the conditions Luxu has to abide by is to be present during every reset and he's observed and witnessed at least five different outcomes."

He released a breath, this was troubling, not wanting to make eye contact with Shiki as...she was involved in some way.

"Shiki..." He trailed off before turning around to look at her, "This is...actually the second time you've participated in this Gambit. The Master already knew you...as did Luxu. I didn't know any of this until those last hours two days ago..."

"You've gotta be fucking with us! Theres no way the master would chose the same per-"

"Yamato." Shiki interrupted, "Only truth has been spoken so far. Don't be a jerk because it's Eth speaking. Continue Eth."

"Tch...! Thats not...ugh fuck, whatever! Finish what you were saying priss boy." Yamato sneered and retreated to silence again.

"None of this has been easy to hear...but past outcomes have ultimately met with the same result, only increasing the difficulty of every try. This Gambit currently active is the 5th attempt, with 4 attempts failing and ending in a complete reset...every ending...with a dark wielder opening the box and causing a world changing event to occur...or the worlds reseting. The forces of darkness, bolstering in strength until we got extremely tough pure-blood heartless terrorizing worlds with more than enough light to spare."

He tensed his fingers, his eye brows furrowed, and his teeth clenched. This was serious, they could dwell on Shiki's repeat affair if they so pleased, but there had to be a reason the master chose to involve her again. One of her memories stuck out to him in their exchange of the things he saw in Castle of Oblivion, that question she asked so very long ago.


You chose the inferior Wielder.

“Serena was an optimal candidate, indeed, but I got the more interesting choice.”

It's hardly ironic now...when you can put it into context that the master had already knew her from a different timeline.

"Seems the box also has an alternate outcome based on the presence of a lightless wielder's interactions with it along side the resolute of light and time. Namely myself. Lucrecia cannot open it without my assistance as was stated during our previous battle. At this time, not even Luxu has had this outcome, we genuinely don't know what's in the box, but it won't cause a reset with the absence of a dark-wielder. You're just going to have to trust me on this, it's the only lead we have remaining to locate the master and how we can go about...dealing with the "Darkness" Shiki mentioned before."

Eth had pretty much most of what he needed to form a plan. There were however some concerns he had, even if there was this much concrete transparency now. For starters...not all of them where combat fit, the resolutes with resolves from their Master Omni that remained where Luxu, himself, Saebyeolbe, Shiki, Try, and Jay. The others were limited to strictly their talents with a keyblade and any pre-existing skills that weren't manifested through their resolves such as basic spell-casting for starters. However, he'd go on to show them the lost art that enabled The Lingering Will to protect the badlands for this long.


"We've gotta fix our mess before we go see the master. ALL the worlds gripped by darkness must be flipped from their harrowed states. Even if not everyone here has a resolve anymore you're still a resolute, and you're more than qualified to learn the limit breaking technique I discovered in my searching to complete my role. The All's End."

He briefly looked at finis. "Fitting the most powerful technique is named after The Master and Lady Finis. I digress. In the coming days we'll clean up the remaining harrowed ends, and five days from now we'll open the box and go from there."

The foot steps heard with a loud shift and the room filled with voices in acknowledgement. Was this what cooperation felt like when you were allowed to garner an attachment to them? It was...definitely a totally different experience from what he imagined it would be like. As Yamato jabs his shoulder before exiting, all but Sae and Shiki were left.

"Hey Eth..." Sae's head was on level, but there was a trace of sorrow in his eyes. "Sorry..."

"Friends don't apologize, but they also allow their friends to live and make their own choices without feeling the need to interfere. Sae. You know what I mean. Don't you." Eth gave him a fairly intense gaze. "Please. You don't always have to keep taking matters into your own hands...and making decisions for your friends, whether it is to interfere in their affairs physically or emotionally...let us have agency over our affairs and if it's absolutely dire, then do as you will."

"...." Sae didn't really know what to say. "You wanted to kill her. Possessed by Finis or not...I didn't want you to bare that responsibility...and succeed where I failed. I was never more relieved to have failed either...even more, when you thanked me."

"He really can't ignore someone in need Eth...it's just apart of what makes him who he is." Shiki said sitting at the desk. "We'll just have to manage the rash actions he often takes...it's actually a lot more contagious than you realize."



2 days ago...
Traverse Town(resolved)

Try and Lucrecia where staring at a newly lit Traverse Town. Dealing a fatal blow to the world enders that resided over the town, the beast was felled by a more than monstrous All's End activation from Try and the rest were swept up by the exorcism traits of Anima. As Try lowered the keyblade from over her shoulder, it took it's normal appearance (the one that doesn't look like flesh).

"You still mad about what happened here?" Try said bluntly.

Lucrecia looked on as Try seemed focused on the now populated streets, "So long as it's back to normal, you more than made up for it."

"Huh...but I didn't do anything, I keep telling you that. Fountain has a keyhole to be sealed, all I did was point and the keyblade shoots the light thingy. Whatever else happened wasn't my fault, sheesh."

You had to admit, it was getting pretty annoying to hear her keep accusing Try of the end result of what seemed inevitable. The darkness overran this place, the manpower was at an all time low, and the world was collapsing. Pointing fingers never really helped anyone, just more hindsight, things the could or should have done.

"Maybe it wasn't and it was just bad luck...but it didn't make it any less frustrating, being forced to run from this place collapsing. Sorry, that frustration eventually turned into anger...I was frustrated with you, but I was genuinely angry with Shiki, I didn't mean to fly off the handle at both of you like that."

Try pat Recia's head, and raised the other to make a finger gun.

"Remember this? Pew pew?" she pulled back on her thumb "Dad would always try to get me to understand why I was angry, thinking of stuff I like usually calms me down. What works for you might be different, but me? Cake."

This was right about the last world that needed to come back. Everyone was busy taking them all back upon receiving their training from Eth and Sae to whom had learned the method early on. Even in the cozy, yet somewhat dark town where many took refuge from darkness there was a feeling that was fleeting for Try. War was something that you can be removed from, but it can never be removed from you...and to see everything deteriorate around was something she wasn't un-used to. It was odd...also rare, to see the reverse happen around her this...frequently, in mere days nonetheless.

"Something the matter Try?" She looked at how intensely she was looking over the town.

"Is this...really...what peace is supposed to look like..?" she touched her face briefly. "I may need to switch jobs if the master runs out of work for me."

"Wh-what?! You can't just quit, everyone loves you...everyone does." She realized how awkward saying that was after the bad-mouthing she did a few days ago, even if influenced by Finis.

"That annoying brat, flashlight doofus...making me worry like that, how rude. You don't get a pass either just because you were being possessed." She had an unexpected rage filled look on her face as she cracked her knuckles and slowly turned her head.

"Wait wait wait! We can talk about this over some cake."

"Make it burgers. You're paying. Lets go." she nonchalantly dropped from the clocktower onto the marketplace.

"Wait for me!" Lucrecia jumped down after and trailed behind.

"Listen Recia. Sure I get mad and stuff, but all of you are kinda cool in your own ways. Weird feeling accepted, I kinda get what crybaby Sae was talking about a little bit." You didn't have to look very hard to see her blush some.




The Present Day...
The Keyblade Graveyard: Badlands
[Foreteller's Case - Kingdom Hearts III OST]


The time was finally upon them. Eth had gathered everyone at the badlands with a currently sedated lingering will posing them no immediate threat. He'd requested everyone wear the requested clothing for whatever was to come, he'd discovered these when searching hollow bastion on the first day he came conscious. Turns out the clothing wards darkness and allowed safe travel through it.

Eth's hood was up, he'd had his mother's umbrella hitched to his side, easy give away if he was lined up. Komaeda's pistol and flashlight hung from him. Try seemed to not like the idea of everyone looking the same, but it served to do a similar function to keyblade armor for the time being. Each of them was essentially a vessel for the darkness, this threat had made no such movements during their period of tireless working to successfully revert the worlds that remained.

"Listen up everyone. Thank you all for gathering here, for our master's sake. If I don't say this now I know I will regret it, but if anyone would like to bow out of whatever comes after, please do so now. I came here with every intention of saving our master and breaking the loop of this gambit once and for all."

Eth seemed more focused than usual and significantly less...hollow sounding. It was a change in tone and demeanor that alarmed even the most observant of them all.

"For the master. My admiration for the light, I'll do anything to serve a purpose and be of use."

"Never met a more friendly and reliable teacher, he's always gonna be worth keeping around and not seeing him for so long is gonna be wild." Yamato remarked with a laugh.

"No objections or regrets." Shiki's eyes were brimming with determination.

"About as ready as i'll ever be. Are you?" Jay was cracking his neck pointing at Iontis.

"I'll do a lot more than you have in the past week." He gave a snarky comment.

It was a series of somewhat good vibes. Lucrecia was standing next to him at this time and the box was ready to be opened, finally.
 
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On the surface Try was calm, perhaps uncharacteristically so. The voices of those around her were barely being listened to however. The sweeping winds of the desolate battlefield whistled in her ears like a whispered scream. Keyblades littered the ground, each one an unspoken epitaph. To her they all had the same messages. Confusion, anger, regret, despair. The wind screamed. It screamed and it pleaded to know, to understand why she deserved to live, why did they have to die for such an absurd cause? Try shook her head and attempted to focus.

Was she the only one that heard the voices? Every battlefield was like this, it was normal right? She needed to look ahead, this was the end of the story after all. Once she got through this that would be the end of it.

But then what? Her hands clenched into fists, suddenly her vision was getting blurry. All she was good for was fighting. After everything was over what place was there for her? She would be useless. Try let out a sharp breath and released the tension in her hands. She rolled her shoulders and looked up. What was she doing? Thinking, far too much thinking.

A black helmet formed around her head, it’s visage blank, reflecting that which was in front of it.

“I’m ready, let’s get this over with.”
 

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In the past i had nothing but a wall of questions when the master took me on. Why choose me? What sets me apart from others. Where is this path going to lead me in the end? Seemed appropriate you'd think, I wasn't so sure of myself in the very beginning, but that perspective started to shift as time went on. I never pictured myself a proficient fighter, let alone someone that can play a few different instruments. The master really had this weird way of showing all of us appreciation by making three short straws wash the dishes. No worries, even the master had to wash dishes no matter how inconvenient it was for him.

Today however was a completely different feeling separating itself from all of the days past. I was here, with eleven others, with a dead resolve and a fit of animosity brewing in the cauldron that was my navel. I had reminded myself for days that those deeply rooted emotions were the catalyst that triggered Finis awakening. It was much harder than expected to...talk to two of them.



3 days ago...


Midna...no, Kambria was in the infirmary and had been there since the beginning of the week. Surprise, it was my fault she was even in here. I was surprised to see that Eth was here every day for several hours at a time when he wasn't debriefing us after a world was brought back. You'd think maybe the break in the darkness would've eased tensions, but the gazes aimed at me were nothing short of harsh as well as deserved. Kambria sat in the bed with her head bandaged from the minor concussion she had from how hard she hit the surface when the blade pierced through her and contorted her body upwards. It was cruel remembering this, and being in the driver's seat in order to provoke them and ensure I was serious.

"Sit." Eth said as he was on the opposite side near the window of Kam's hospital bed. "Theres a lot that needs to be said...or so I thought, but you've waited several days as is for a proper discourse." I could hear him release a sigh as Kam stared forward.

"She's powerless you know. I don't know what kind of interaction Anima has with resolutes, but Kambria's resolve has been effectively removed and even with assistance, not all wounds can be healed...certainly not pride. Nor Freya's life."

"Eth...Kambria..." I trailed off, just...completely lost on what I should say and turned to my doubts.

"...If you're here to start feeling sorry for yourself...get out of here..."

I was looking at her lap, her fist was balled and shaking pretty intensely.

"I don't care if I was in the crossfire, or even if thats what you had to do...WHY DID YOU DO THAT TO A CHILD?!" the animosity started to fill the room, and I could feel all of it.

"I...needed you all to take my stance in opposition to depose the master by killing him, seriously. I wasn't expecting her to be in the crossfire..."

"It certainly was beyond anything I was expecting...and I was fully prepared to wipe you out without a second thought before Saebyeolbe interfered. Yet if Sae did nothing...my rage would've reached you and..I probably wouldn't have put all my power into saving everyone else. It ended up working out for the better...horrible as it was." Eth sounded genuinely concerned in his address, I don't think I could ever get used to that.

"Freya...was created using my resolve and half of Eth's power over memories. She was left with a caretaker by name of Reyzel Azzir, another construct from my Resolve with Eth's power to erase memories. Both of them were parts of Eth and I, quite literally."

"You see Recia. I agreed to some of the strictest conditions when I became a resolute. Isolation was my vow. I wasn't to be on sociable terms with any of you, and if my communication and ties didn't serve to make you stronger over time, that vow would be broken. It resulted in a lot of negative sentiment and critical opinion of me, those to whom took it upon themselves to assume I was intentionally being disrespectful, when I merely wanted you to grow and strengthen your resolves individually. But I'm repeating myself."

I watched him stand up from the chair and grasp Kambria's hand.

"Everyone's been working hard, resolve or no resolve. I'll be sure to thank all of you once the worlds have been rend from their harrowed states."

"Eth...I...we will make things right." I assured them, with a bow at Kambria's bed side, father's etiquette classes were finally getting some use.



Back again. To face reality.

My eyes seemed to dilate and expand, as I aimlessly was staring into the distance. The pressures of failure I used to have that gave way to rage, where now dragging my heart along trudging through intense feelings of remorse. I'd put them into throes, yet with the notable sense of hesitation towards me, they were trying. Try didn't seem to care, Eth and Kambria merely wanted our efforts to succeed and wouldn't let personal feelings bar us from that endgame. The rest, if not for Jay and Shiki and on occasion Sae, I didn't feel like I could be redeemed without that support. Jay tapped my shoulder and shook it.

"Eyes up Reesh. Center stage really soon." he said offering me his classic smile.

A hand cupped my head and squeezed firmly, "H-hey!"

"You done being sappy Recia? Master's not gonna pay you any mind if your quiet and not nagging like usual." Yamato, of course it was. "Can't expect miracles in way of trust and relationships in a week. You do us proud now, and that will go a long way, how's that sound?"

Komaeda chuckled, "Looks like someone's learned a thing or two about compassion."

Something was off about him, Komaeda, but when was that ever inaccurate. His smile was something eerily entrancing, brimming with confidence that had no right existing, I didn't know any better than the rest. Staring at my hand, I clutched the Master's Gazing eye entrusted to me. My head turned as Try dropped her hood and hair helmet had been repaired. Iontis certainly was kind in lending her the help, he was an armorer, it'd make sense that he had the means to repair something such as a helm.

I’m ready, let’s get this over with.

You could hear it in her voice, but did she really want it to be over? Thinking back on their conversation from the other day, things would definitely feel hollow without Try around. I had my doubts about our spread dysfunctions, it'd be some time before Kambria and Eth could trust in me fully, but it'd be worth toiling over as Sae might say. I closed my fist, look towards Eth and proceeded to stand beside him clutching the gazing eye tightly in my grasp.

"Yeah. We've kept the old man waiting long enough. You're finally gonna get your wish Sae." I couldn't help but mention him reflecting on his past obsession with locating the master.
 

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Sae had much more on his mind as of late than normal. Emotional, it was a soft spot when he spoke of the rest of them as family. A commitment that has a lot more versatility than he'd originally given heed to. He could feel the wind beating into his back as he stood there, hooded beside Shiki surrounded by master-less keys. His scars tensed under all this leather, but his body ached all the same at the calling of one thing.

War.

Perhaps disillusioned to the truth of what happened here, or it may have been history. His eyes seemed to stare off into the distance thinking only of the lingering will that fell upon him like a one man army. This land was meant to be a battlefield it seemed, and the echoes from the past...the late wielders screams were rattling around in his mind as his body responded.

"
Why." he suddenly slipped, letting himself speak. "Why has this gone on for so many cycles..."

Perhaps he was just consumed by his concern, but he was speaking aloud without realization anyone was partaking in his words. The melancholy started to grip his very soul, from the eyes of an orphan that never truly had an experience of connection despite knowing the woes of ire of countless. He clutched his fist and then felt someone caress the side of his hand, Shiki. Without saying a word, he believed he understood something of what she was trying to non-verbally communicate, that this would be the last time perhaps?

It put him at ease, for a time. Releasing his fist as she cupped his palm, not quite the same, but they were similar.

"Has no one ever really questioned...what happened to those resolutes that were in our place?" Sae finally hit a nerve as Yamato shouted at him.

"Here we go...white knighting now for people you've never even met from another time entirely?" Yamato scowled, rolling his eyes. "No one even knew the scale of their position until just a few days ago. Screw giving us more baggage and let us save the people that are left for fucks sake!"

"Yamato, now's not the ti-"

"No Shiki. Let it really sink in this time, because he doesn't fucking listen to the family he praises. Disregarding how each of us feels individually might as well be the biggest disservice and show of disrespect imaginable to that claim." Yamato stared directly at Sae and tore his hood down.

"Look at me Sae." Yamato's eyes locked with Sae's. "What about the lives that perished when you were here huh? What about them?? You think you can do everything by yourself and it pisses me the fuck off. You think your alone in feeling remorse for the dead, for those still living and suffering? Thats a responsibility shared by more than just you."

He gripped him by the collar of the coat and pulled him closer to his face.

"Everyone cares. Everyone's felt devastation in ebbs and flows from whats happened, past and present, and we're doing all we can. Stop feeling responsible and finally accept that there are others like you fighting for the same peace. Master gave you a heavy toll, but he never restricted you from allowing your friends to shoulder that burden with you."

Sae's eyes illuminated then, it was something so subtle but in plain site this entire time. Yamato's grip loosened and he lowered him.

"Yeah...yeah you're right." Letting out a breath, Sae gave Yamato a nod that he understood. "The future is waiting...lets face it together."
 

Just Dari

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There they were, looming in the space that existed at the very end of time. The Master was standing, arms folded behind his back and pacing around the table at this point, hooded to be certain. Thoughts about this plan they were discussing, nothing more than guesswork and conjecture. Who the hell even knew for certain this is what would come about, nobody had an answer and for the first time, his guidance couldn't reach them to spell it out for them.

"What do you intend to do when they open the box"

Hovering beside him, a mass known only as the Darkness, one of the few that remained there to oversee the gambit alongside the master.

"Surely you can't suggest they come here. Your apprentice already exposed them to the darkness, they don't even realize they've been compromised."

The master's relentless pacing was fueled by how deep he was in thought and inquiry. It was true his twelve apprentices had all been exposed, but that wasn't entirely true for all of them. The black coats provided to them wards against darkness, it's no different than keyblade armor in this capacity. For the resolutes that had been resurrected, there was no guarantee they weren't equally as vulnerable once heart and body returned.

"Omni? Are you even listening to me." the darkness hovered in front of him finally breaking his concentration

"Oh! I didn't see you there, what were we talking about again?" he folded his arms, the darkness bolstered in size to impose it's irritable nature. "Easy now!" he gave a weird hand wiggle to sway the air.

"The lightless wielder has a power even they don't know. That gift is something wondrous, something I envied as Finis showed me a nature beyond both Light & Dark, truly exists."

"What are you on about. If this is anything like your original plan, it's doomed to repeat yet again. Have you no shame, each and every dark wielder before now. Their mindless shells with only a rite of anger for you and your apprentices."

The master gave pause. He didn't forget a single Dark Wielder before now, he knew them...what they had to do...ruthlessly eliminating the others. A powerful heart that grieved, consumed by the darkness they wielded and transcending into the next worldline. These heartless...where the X-series. Potently powerful hearts that died under the influence of a numbered branded on them.

"I couldn't tell them..." his head shifted down some, "Resolute...Traitor...Heartless...the title doesn't matter at the end of it. Friend...fighting....Friend...and it's heart breaking...but necessary."

"What a laugh! You call THAT compassion for your apprentices? Mercy? Then let them be cut down by the traitors that cut the rest down!"

Omni fell silent, the master of masters.

"Necessary, doesn't come without it's tidings of cruelty old friend..."

The darkness amassed in size as if it were reaching out to it's brethren.

"Their bodies made fine heartless. Now it's time those four traitors serviced us fully."

The master didn't collect feelings in mass of anything beyond remorse. This weaving of doubt that the darkness peddled, where to tempt anyone to submit to their negative emotions. Doubts could be nothing more than doubts to the master, to him a reasonable if not often needed skepticism. He had no reason to shift his trust away from his resolutes, this is after all what they were trained for. It was the unknown situations and dealings amongst each other, no amount of future sight could see what they would do amongst each other.

"Only Time will tell old friend." The master finally took a seat and watched as the overlay became blotted out by perpetual dark.



~The~~Approach~~Of~~The Fallen~~Dark Wielders~~


This silence was quickly broken by the nerves and anxiety of the rest of them. You'd think even without resolves, those would be the ones in a panic. Eth smiled, he couldn't help but take notice of them engaging as if it were a day off at the dorms seated at the dining hall. Reforge, unusually quiet, perhaps burdened with thought of his Cul-De-Sac past. Shiki as well.

It reminded him of that plan she ran by him in secret. It's already been a busy week, lots of emotions were running high and still some trust to sort. Luxu walked out in front and tapped Eth on his shoulder, leaning into to his ear, cloak to cloak.

"Theres something you should be aware of Eth."

"Hmm?" Eth shifted his head slightly.

"You saw my memories...all of them...you saw those heartless...the special ones, reappear every time didn't you?" Luxu leaned in.

"Is there something unique about them?" Eth whispered back.

"....." Luxu released a nervous sigh, "As if...they've been hunting us...across worldlines for a long time now...they're-"

"Eyes up." Eth said as he peered forward looking into the distance as there was what looked to be an anomaly bolstering in the sky.





This was deliberate. Heartless where gathering as they funneled out of a massive dark globule forming high above the badlands. Eth looked up as the heartless that emerged where...definitely a different breed entirely. The Dark Inferno X descended slowly followed by the Gallant Grave X and the Terminus X. The Toxote X had already been wiped out at a point earlier in time on a mission that consisted of Eth, Iontis, and Lucrecia. The details of that assignment failed to mention what Luxu was about to reveal.


"Those..." Luxu turned to the rest of them. "Are what became of the previous dark wielders. Heartless that only attack those that currently possess carrier's of the master's power. They also specifically react to their counterpart."

"So these are the true traitors from the other worldline's...? How did they even end up here?" Eth inquired

"It's a working theory...but I think it has to do with using the realm of darkness as a plane where time and space flow different. Once the darkness took them after releasing whatever was in the box, it's likely they were consumed and became heartless of this caliber. Whats even more of an anomaly is their level of sentience is extremely abnormal, as if guided by a purpose. They're capable of limited speech, thought, and they don't just brute force and attack without some manner of coordination and adaptation."

Eth took a step forward towards the heartless spilling out onto the plateau. "Is that all?" he purged the dusklanzer into his grip and placed it to rest on his shoulder. "Try. You and me. Everyone else stand down."

Yamato's feet stirred ready to roar at him for such a radical statement but he stopped, remembering just exactly what he showed the just days ago. Such a claim in the face of this level of foe, Eth wasn't in the mood for jests.

"Sae, this goes for you in particular. Trust us, don't interfere, and fight the heartless coming for the box. None of us know this "Darkness" as an enemy outside of heartless and World Enders, but these dark wielders might be the closest thing we have to a face of our enemy." Eth released a sigh, "They knew we'd be here, so lets assume what Luxu said about us being compromised and assume...long as we cast shadows, they can see everything we do."

There was a brief pause as the three of the heartless with human-like shape, varying in builds, extended their arms. There was a rustling from three different spots on the ground, flailing around cutting the air, gripping in three of their grasps.

Keyblades. Keyblades they left behind from opening the box here so many times before in the past cycles.

"What..." Komaeda's eyes expanded.

"No..." Kambria tensed

"FUCKING WAY!!!" there was Yamato's spurred outburst finally hitting.


"It changes nothing." Eth said, reaffirming his suspicions, "Those are comrades from other worldlines suffering infinitely in this hell that has repeated. So we have to put them down out of mercy. No time to psychoanalyze the situation, it's simply the only play we have left. We fight them and win, or we all die. Simple as that."

Tried and true, he was deadly serious. Though not without empathy entirely, this is what was left of them. Dark-Wielder, was a traitor out of a selfish and overwhelming desire to sacrifice themselves in order to ideally protect the world upon it's inevitable consumption by the darkness. The box being opened in the past seemed only to prolong that fate as the dark forces only expanded and became much more dexterous and formidable for the next round of resolutes to deal with.

Down came the first. Dark Inferno X, a gold "III" emblazoned on it's chest holding the equivalent of a great-sword length keyblade in one hand and a broad blade in the other. It stared relentlessly at Try, as it was a good 15 meters away, and Eth stood beside her as his hood blew of from the sheer force of it's presence. Eth sucked his teeth, they really wanted to do a one on one situation? How smart where these Titans of heartless. The lessers completely ignored Eth and Try as the others went for the rest of the group.

"Hey Try?" Eth briefly turned to her looking upon the helmet Iontis repaired for her, "I was wrong about what I said on our first mission. Your not weak by any means. Just had to provoke everyone in some way to become even stronger, yell at me later if you need to."

He shrugged, before he opened his left eye, revealing the "0" glowing bright white.

"Session." A seal of light was starting to form underneath, "Never thought I'd be sharing my resolve with you, but well...your gonna need it."

Eth's body collected light and he transmuted his entire form into what looked like a massive blade of light. Dense, solid to hold, and formed what looked like a greatsword in appearance, there were no distinguishable lines, it was solid blue from blade to hilt. If it were him holding it, to Eth the light is just an extension of his physical body no matter the size, to anyone it was actually extremely dense but could serve to cut through just about anything. Try was the only candidate that could handle the sharing of this much power put into a physical object, at least in terms of lift it. He plunked into the ground blowing steam from the sides fully committing to being used as an armament.
 
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Try gripped the massive blade that was lodged in the ground. With a yank of her right arm it tore from the barren earth. “Heavy…” It was much more heavy than it looked, oddly so. She swung Eth around a few times, it was possible to wield with one hand, but…

In the blink of an eye the Heartless bearing the same number as her suddenly flew towards her, its two weapons hoisted above her before they came careening down. The dry ground split, and a plume of dust momentarily obscured Try’s form. “But useful, Eth.” Try stood in the same spot, Eth above her head shaking along with the Heartless’s weapons as they scrapped against each other. Try tightened her left fist and bashed it onto the flat side of Eth, there was a resounding boom as the heartless was pushed back into the air, where it quickly steadied itself.

Rubble shifted as Try slid a foot back and looked up. One moment she was there, the next she was soaring towards her target. Eth was swung straight for the Heartless’s head, the blow was swiftly parried and its other weapon came for her own head. Try opened her palm towards the incoming attack and cast a fire spell. Echoed, the blast went off twice and blew her out of the way of the strike.

She was now in freefall with her foe seeing this as a chance to retaliate. It flew down towards her intending to slice clean through her. Try moved Eth to block the blow, but flinched as she saw the broadsword glowing an ominous red. Sparks flew as she blocked the blow and was sent hurtling faster towards the ground. Rocks leaped from the earth as her body smashed into them, she tried to brace herself but found that she couldn’t move. She was stuck laying in a pile of stones, vulnerable.

The Heartless did not waste any time, and swiftly came to finish the job. A split second before its keyblade made contact with her helmet she was able to roll out of the way. Whatever made her unable to move didn’t last forever at least.

Try jumped to her feet and glared at her opponent. “Fine.” She let out an irritated sigh as she gripped Eth with both hands. She didn’t like not having a hand free during a fight, but using one hand didn’t seem like a viable option.

The Heartless charged forwards, Try did the same. The broadsword glowed red once more and swung towards her. She couldn’t block it again, at this distance she’d be torn to shreds before the paralysis wore off. She couldn’t dodge it, there was too much forward momentum. It was all or nothing.

A dull light shined from Try’s helmet, and her entire body pulsed with a violent energy. “Pure Image!” There was a flash between the two combatants as Eth was swung upwards. Dark mist spilled into the air as the Heartless’s arm along with a now split in half broadsword slammed onto the ground. Her body was stronger, faster, she'd echoed her own physical strength.

The dull light from Try’s helmet faded, revealing a ‘3’ burned into the visor. The Heartless hardly reacted to its limb being shorn from its body, and swung its keyblade down towards her. The keyblade made contact with Try’s form, only to fade straight through it. Eth suddenly burst through the front of the Heartless, with Try now standing behind it. The Heartless swung in desperation behind it, only to swing through nothing once more. Now Try was in front of it once more. She swung Eth in a diagonal fashion, cleaving through the creature’s body, and in the same instance a mirrored slash appeared. An ‘X’ shaped gash was cut into the Heartless and its form quickly began to dissipate.

Try stumbled to her knees as her head pounded with a dull pain. It seemed like using her new power in quick succession was a bad idea.

“How was that, Eth?”
 

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"What did he say..." my ears perked up at the claim.

Luxu seemed to mention this only now, but there were resolutes that rebelled that existed in the current worldline as heartless? I would've dismissed this idea in any other situation, maybe even laughed at the idea. Then those damned keyblades strew across the dirt and stone, I'd never seen a heartless actively be able to wield a keyblade...it was almost if...

"No...no that couldn't be possible...but maybe." I was unsure, my first thought to ask Finis. "We all witnessed it Recia, there is no more room for doubt."

Before I realized it i was clutching my fist, before hearing the shriek of someone next to me, "You're squeezing my hand Recia...ow." It was Jay, likely feeling more effeminate in this iteration. I didn't realize I was holding her hand this entire time, if nothing else it was comforting having one's partner there. Thats right, aside from Luxu, Eth, Shiki, and Try, She was the only other one there that had an active resolve. Now wasn't the time for something like this to hit me like a brick all at once, Zero...no, Eth, took the frontline with Try. A single order, was to avoid interfering with the front line. It posed double for Sae, I don't know that just didn't seem...like a sustainable strategy.

Overwhelming, or so i thought. The numbers of heartless didn't really seem to matter that much as even the resolve-less resolutes, were plenty skilled prior to our rally and with that same experience of three whole years. The heartless were keen on avoiding the front where the forerunners were. I suppose I was happy if it could even be stated in that way. Jay drew up her arms, and used her split, to created a web that was woven by her resolve cleaving through the waves before she joined together again.

"Hey. I'm ready to see the master again, whatever we have to do." Jay was fairly enthused.

Finally the rumbling started happening, everyone could feel the ground shaking as Try and Eth collided with the heartless. I was trying to make sense of what the hell was happening, i just know that the heartless suddenly stopped in their tracks and everyone else was equally as confused. It didn't stop little Reforge from cleaving through the heartless that stood still before our area had been cleaned up. The thunderous strikes went on for several minutes, and soon all of us were looking in that general direction.

"What the hell are we dealing with if they have to fight this hard..." a sleight of my breath, i dropped my concerns on Jay as I held her hand again.
 

Just Dari

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Eth had to admit, getting flailed around in that current state wasn't so bad. The density of the blade didn't seem to be much of an issue for Try, as expected. There were a few things he needed to state, she was not the one to test the patience of and it clearly showed. At the end of it, abomination or no, limitations and cutoffs were introduced in everyone, and he noticed a bit of a strain as she clutched for her helmet after releasing what appeared to be a complete mirror vs the standard echo at it's usual capped potency.

The heartless burst, and a pool of darkness began to take it's form, sucking it through the surface of the rock. He was placed to the side, and pulled himself back into his usual appearance, clad in the black coat. “How was that, Eth?” his ears picked up on her address and he responded in kind. "You dealt a fatal blow on the first go. Though now we just might see who it really is..." Eth had a bit of an uncomfortable feeling.

Reincarnation was complicated when it came to the heart. If "Darkness" were in the steering wheel...they'd be pressed to be fighting not just heartless, but human opponents possessed by the very same enemy. It was likely...that the hybrids on this worldline were...mere experiments, Blake (Trace) said as much upon further interrogation. A heart that succumbs to darkness is nothing short of exploitable by those very same forces, so he was already mentally prepared to give them proper discourse and not be swayed by any emotional stories.

The rumbling continued from the spot that Try had fell the Dark Inferno X, it appeared to be the shrieking of what could only be a female's voice. Rising from the darkness, donning a dark helmet, and red and black heartless suit with a grass skirt. A woman's physical body, one hand donned what looked to be yet another keyblade that belonged to the master in one hand, and a much much larger colossal sized keyblade in the other. The rocks turned, a pressure released billowing out from below the former resolute.

But Zero wasn't giving it much attention.





"Can you stand?" Eth expressed kindness as he held Try's wrists, emphasizing the bracelets he created from his resolve that he made sure to give everyone.

"May your heart be your guiding key, I gotta say. Our master really knows how to tug at our heartstrings...manipulative bastard that he is. Giving us hope? What a joke." they suddenly started talking, but fell on deaf ears as Eth continued.

"Really wasn't expecting their to be a phase two, you can ignore whatever is being said right now-" She'd interrupted Eth shortly

"Hey! Don't tell her that! If she just fully restores no. three's resolve here and now, same with one and two, we can just take the box and-"

"Apologies. What did you just say?" Eth was standing now looking directly at the former resolute head on. "We will be restoring our resolves after forcing our counterparts to hand them ov-"

"Yeah, no. It sounds like you didn't think about the others when it was your turn, so what? You killed them...just like that, because you tell yourself your selfish decision to defect was necessary at the cost of YOUR FRIENDS LIVES? There will be no negotiations, not until the darkness that's possessed you power-craving mad men has been completely expunged."

Eth helped Try to her feet as he offered a smile. "I think i'll leave it to her to do the honors of ripping that ugly Dark Passenger out of your body. If you die in the process of fighting our number 3, at the very least you have my condolences, this might be tough to hear, for all of your emotional scars associated from your time and experience...we aren't trying to undermine or invalidate them, but detering us from succeeding where you failed, you're making the choice to make yourself an enemy the same name you all wore as our predecessors."


Eth's light was seething, with a blue and yellow tint, far more aggressive and unrelenting than he'd ever displayed in the past. The other two heartless touched the ground in an instant in response to Zero's aggression. The Gallant Grave X held it's shield to guard the remaining of them.

"You're not completely mindless in there. Brandt. Shiki." The former resolute clad in a helmet similar to Try, pat the two of them on the shoulder. "Just focus on your counterparts. We are here to usurp these Resolutes after all."

The heartless' numbers seemed to resonate their respective numbers somewhere on their form. "
Ok Zero. They've calmed down, here's a piece of information the master purposely left out that he and Luxu never told you. If a resolute under any of the existing conditions loses their resolve or foreits it, the previous holder can challenge the current holder. Meaning, defeating you fledgelings is all we'd need to do in order to force acknowledgement. Such a wonderful master we have right? No faith that any one pick for a job was the end-all be all."

Eth lowered his head briefly, his first thought was what luxu said about restrictions on certain information. He said this very same thing, that master shared portions of information among them separately so it was at minimum uncommon some of them had additional conditions and terms they'd agreed to. He had to interpret this new information with a hint of prejudice, they were still being influenced by the Darkness, and whether that information was true or not didn't change the fact they needed to purify, seal, or exorcise the dark-wielders.

"Put it out of your mind for now." Eth released a casual sigh, "Oh here we go! Brandt, Shiki, go take out numbers 1 and 2!"

The two nodded before leaving Try and Eth whom were in the center of the conflict, "
It's Ezra. You! Number 3! Tell me your name before we beat the living crap out of each other!"

Ezra expelled what felt like a river of darkness from her body, forming the visage of the Dark Inferno X behind her in the form of a Guardian Type heartless (pureblood). That helmet she wore certainly wasn't very good at masking anything, at least not from Eth. After hearing everything thoroughly, something crossed his mind. It was possible opening the box and initiating what he could only theorize as a world-changing event, whoever the dark-wielder was respective to that worldline, must've been consumed by darkness at the time. In Eth's mind, these aren't things...information, that should sparsely be known without breaking some kind of condition, he did have Luxu's memories after all of his past observations of these traitors experiences. Ezra. Brandt. Shiki. None of them had desires to "remove" players from the board without reason to believe their actions would positively affect their worldlines.

About the Bracelets...(this morning)

"
The Bracelets i gave everyone are just small portions of my resolve, nothing groundbreaking, but they will be useful if we have a situation like with the Hybrids last week. You need only a desire to drive the darkness from someone, and they'll activate. After that, pressing your keyblade into an enemies chest will drive out the darkness theirin." Eth explained as his eye illuminated the "0" and all the bracelets responded. "The bracelets are also to give everyone, even the resolve-less, a bit of a hand in combat situations and will enable a fighting chance once we engage in actual combat. I won't be doing much fighting myself as part of my focus is going to be divided among the group. No need to worry about me when using them, three years of training has been to expand my own reserves to eventually be drawn from the bolster the rest of you. It won't work on you unfortunately Recia, i think we know why."

Eth scratched his head, "I'm gonna be relying on you guys for a change, when you don't see me move much, i'll be communicating that I need YOUR help."

--(Flashback End)



Eth released a breath, and his black gloves lit up, catching what seemed to be a break neck paced swing from Ezra halted in mid-air as she attacked without even waiting for Try to respond. "That confirms it. You really are all being manipulated...you didn't even say the chant out of respect..." he held her at bay locked into a standstill.

"Our master left us all to die when things got really bad!! You can't seriously tell me you all trust each other that much?? How about we test how loyal you are, don't move, maybe she'll actually give a damn about your life and prevent me from cleaving your head off along with your hand!"

"It was my job to wipe everyone's memories, including my own. We had to endure our second chance, knowing nothing about our past bond with each other, just arbitrary pieces of information, still we endured. Even upon discovering our failures of the past, the losses incurred upon ourselves midst the chaos of now, and dealing with our own betrayal in Lucrecia, we've managed to do exactly what the three of you failed to do. Trust each other as the master always wished." there was a moment of hesitation in Erza's movement as if a brief passage of resistance, clearly he struck a nerve. His only thought was to buy Try a bit more time to recover.

Eth could see Ezra raising her free arm to strike downward, "So tell me Ezra. What did your friends have to really die for? Was that your idea of empathy for your comrades? One of our own willinging suicided to restore a harrowed end and save another. One of our own pushed his body to the limits to stave off a World Ender from crushing himself and another ally. So tell me, uninfluenced by that Dark Passenger, in your own words. What did you do for your comrades that caused them to distrust you beyond forgiveness?"

It felt like an agonizing slow motion as she reeled and began her attack, "Whatever the answer is, I told them I'd give all my strength for them. That wasn't a lie." the glow from his hand began to fade as he closed his eyes waiting to be beheaded. "I trust you, Try."
 
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