The businesses in Twilight Town were hosting sales to draw more shoppers to their stands in hopes of selling something. Men and women, and some children, stood in line at the businesses, waiting for their turn, and Max ignored all the shouting as she passed by. Her mind was on the dream she'd had, not just one, but several, she had been having dreams of that group for a while now -and still had no clue as to why, or who they were.
"A Keyblade..." she mumbled as she entered the alleyway leading to the meeting place, and spotted a long stick leaning against the wall. The young redhead picked the stick up, and began swinging it around like she had with the Keyblade the day before, "Just what was that about?" she stopped and stared at the stick, and shrugged her shoulders before tossing it over her head.
The dull smack of the stick hitting something, and then falling to the ground caused the girl to turn, "Oh!" Max's eyes went wide, the stick had hit a black cloaked person in the chest, "Sorry...about that..." Max watched the black cloaked person turn and walk away without saying a word. Max didn't know what to think, shouldn't that person had said something? Shaking her head, she turned and entered the meeting place, and saw that the others were sitting around the room licking on ice cream.
"Here, sea-salt ice cream." Garnet held out the bluish green ice cream with a grin.
"Thanks." Max took the proffered item, and sat down, "Do you think we'll always be together like this?"
Selphie took a bite out of her ice cream, and nodded, "I sure hope so."
Garnet blinked and hopped down from the crate she was sitting on, "Now where did that come from?"
"Just thinking out loud is all."
The dark haired girl sighed, "Well, I doubt we can be together forever," she said as she paced around the room, "but isn't that what growing up's all about? What's important isn't how often we see each other, but how often we think about each other, right?"
Quistis laughed, nearly dropping her ice cream in the process, "Get that off a fortune cookie?"
Garnet narrowed her eyes and lunged after the retreating blonde, "That's it! No more ice cream for you!" she sighed, "Damn, today's turning out to be a drag."
"Maybe because of yesterday's memory thief." Selphie sighed, thinking about the odd looking thing.
"Nah, it's cause we don't want summer vacation to be over. So, how about this?" The girl grinned, "We all go to the beach! And why do we go to the beach? Because we haven't gone once this entire vacation! Blue seas! Blue skies! Let's just get on the train and go!" she shouted excitedly, and watched the others stand up without saying a word, "No? Aw, c'mon!"
Max shook her head, "Maybe you forgot, but we're broke." she quirked her eyebrows, and couldn't help but think of what Selphie said about the day before. Just how could something like that happen? Words being stolen? She slightly sighed, would it happen again? Max really hoped not.
"Maybe you forgot, I'm smart!" Garnet ran out of the room with the others following, "We're going to Market Street." The group hurried out of the alleyway, and up the small slope; Garnet stopped and stared at a Struggle poster and turned to Max, "Just two days to go, you and I have to make the finals! That way, no matter who wins, the four of us split the prize."
Quistis and Selphie pumped their fists in the air, "You two are gonna clean up!" they shouted.
"That's a promise!" Garnet firmly nodded, "Okay, now, let's get down to business. One ticket to the beach is 900 munny. How much for the four of us?"
"3,600 munny." Quistis said off the top of her head, she was like a calculator when it came to any kind of math.
"And 300 each to spend there, what's that for all of us?"
"1,200 munny, a total of 4,800."
Selphie scratched the back of her head, "To spend on what?"
Max chuckled, she knew, "The pretzels, of course, what else is there?!"
"Well, there's always watermelon." Quistis added.
Garnet shook her head as she waved her hands in front of her face, "Too pricey. They're like, 2,000 munny."
"Pretzels it is." Max sighed, watermelon sounded good, but to come up with another two thousand? Nah, she would stick with the pretzels.
"Okay so what do we need?" Selphie stretched as she glanced around at her friends, and felt her back pop. She knew they were going to have to work for what money they needed. Nothing came free.
Quistis pulled out a small sack, "We need 4,800, but all we have is..." she counted the coins and bills in her pouch, "I've got 650."
"800, here." Selphie added hers.
Max lowered her head, "I've only got 150."
"That's 1,600!" Garnet grinned, she had been counting as the group called out what they had, "We need another...3,200. Let's find ourselves some odd jobs and earn some cash. We have 'till the train leaves to earn...800 each!" she said, turned and sprinted off, "Meet at the station with cash in hand!"
Selphie sighed as she looked at the other two, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she say she had it covered?"
Max shrugged, "Whatever. Those pretzels are sounding pretty good right now." she said and walked off, she knew where she could get a fast couple of jobs.
The young redhead had helped with delivering mail, pushing a cargo wagon up a hill, killing bees, putting up posters for the Struggle tournament, and clearing out junk from the junkyard. With cash in hand, and only twenty minutes before the train left, she hurried off towards the station. "What've we got?" Garnet asked as Max approached.
"Let's see..." she said pulling out the bills and coins, "Just this."
"Great!" Quistis said as she added the money together, "We now have... 5,500!" she put the money in a small purple pouch, and handed it to Max, "Let's get the tickets."
As Quistis and Selphie run toward the station, Garnet looked towards the sky, "We can't be together forever, so we'd better make the time we do have something to remember." The dark haired girl would never know how much those words were true, especially when it came to Max.
"Gotcha!" Garnet grinned and playfully punched Max in the stomach before running toward the others.
Max shook her head and chuckled as she started forward, but something invisible caused her to trip, and she fell face first to the ground, "Whoa!" A small stick dropped to the ground. Garnet, Selphie, and Quistis turned when their friend fell, and stepped back down the steps. Max grunted slightly as she got on her knees and touched her lip, pulling her hand away, she found a dab of blood. From the corner of her eye, she noticed someone in a black cloak standing beside her, "What?" she whispered, and was jerked into an upright position, and pulled into the air with her feet dangling an inch from the ground. The blacked cloaked person leaned down, and whispered something in her ear before letting her go, "Huh?"
"Max, three minutes!" Garnet shouted from the doorway.
"Okay!" The redhead nodded, and turned to look at the person, but she was already gone, and her feet were back on the ground. Max didn't know what to think, so instead of dwelling on it, she hurried toward her friends, and into the station.
"Four students." Garnet said to the ticket agent at the counter.
"Max, the munny." Quistis said pulling the young redhead to the counter.
Max nodded, and reached into her pocket. It was gone. "Wait!" she cried out, and searched her front and back pockets of her jeans, and her shirt pockets, "Damn it!" she growled, "She took it!" she turned and ran back towards the station plaza where she'd tripped.
"Where are you going!?" Selphie asked as she and the others followed their friend out the door.
Max burst through the station doors, and stopped, "Remember when I fell?" she asked and saw the others nod, "Well, I had the money before that, I bet that girl took it!"
"Girl?" Garnet asked as a confused look crossed her face, "What girl?"
The young redhead jumped off the steps, "Come on, she couldn't have gotten too far."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Garnet asked remembering Max standing up after falling to the ground.
Quistis placed a hand on Max's left shoulder and gently squeezed, "Max, there wasn't any girl."
"Huh? But she... there wasn't? Really?" her voice was low, as if she was thinking about something, then the train whistle blew.
"Oh, boy." Selphie lowered her head, they had missed the train.
Max stared at the ground and kicked at a rock, "There wasn't anyone...there?"
"Come on, don't worry about it."
"Selphie is right, don't worry." Quistis said wrapping her arm around Max, "Let's go get some ice cream, and go to the top of the station tower."
Max nodded as she and the others slowly walked toward an ice cream vendor, bought the sea-salt ice cream, and climbed the stairs to the tower. The young redhead sat down, her feet dangling over the edge, and stared out over Twilight Town. "It's melting." Selphie said nudging Max's shoulder.
"Sorry." Max sighed and licked the melting ice cream.
Garnet had been disappointed at first, she really had wanted to go to the beach, but it didn't matter, this was fine with her -sitting atop the tower, with her friends, "Cheer up. It doesn't matter, we can go some other time."
"That was really weird though." Max said as she remembered the black cloaked woman.
"Can you feel Willow?" The figure asked, "Can you feel her?"
"Restoration at 28%" the computer said.
"Naminé, hurry." Diz said staring at the screen as the cloaked woman tossed the money pouch into the air, and caught it.
"Is it really that hard to make a beach?" The second cloaked woman asked with her eyes on the screens.
Diz barely turned his head, "We'd be giving the enemy another entry point."
The first woman held out the money pouch, "And this?"
Diz turned away from the computer screens with a -barely seen- grin, "We can always buy some sea-salt ice cream." he said causing the two women to chuckle, and the first to toss the pouch into the air again, "Objects from that town must be kept out of the real world." The red cloaked man said as the woman caught the pouch once more, "You can delete that."
"As the key bearer, you must already know one must not meddle in the affairs of other worlds!" King Triton said staring at Willow and the group.
"So many places I want to see. I know I'll get there someday." Ariel stared toward the ocean's surface.
"Thus, I do hereby dub thee junior heroes." Phil said to the group with Hercules standing next to him.
"Hey! What do you mean 'Junior heroes'?" Donald asked as he narrowed his eyes.
"You rookies still don't understand what it takes to be a true hero."
"I... I wish... for your freedom, Genie." Aladdin said with a small smile.
"Al!" Genie shouted as his legs appeared.
In a dark spooky place, a skeleton stood in front of a put together woman, "Why didn't I listen to you, Sally?"
Sally took the skeleton's hands in her own, "Don't worry, Jack. We'll have a better Halloween Festival next year."
Tara summoning Mushu, the small dragon appearing and settling atop the blonde's head, "I am Mushu!"
The dark twins confronting the group in front of Hollow Bastion, "Let the Keyblades choose... their true masters!"
"I'm looking for someone." Cloud said to Willow in front of the Coliseum on Hercules' world.
"Where are you going?" Rabbit asked with a sad look on his furry face.
Buffy stood beside her lover, "We've got to look for our twins."
"Bounce on back again!" Tigger bounced over and hugged the girls.
Pooh Bear waving goodbye as the others watched.
Diz remained sitting on his desk, watching the screen. A young blonde standing in front of the capsule she had been drawing, in a white room. Max cocked her head to the right, "Who are you?" she asked, and the girl turned around with a smile. Max jerked awake, and for a split second, she saw the blonde standing in her room before disappearing. "Huh?"
What did those dreams mean? Were they memories? If so, then whose memories, cause they sure weren't hers? And just what did that cloaked woman mean when she asked if she could feel Willow? Willow, the girl in the dreams...memories, was that her? If it was, then why was she dreaming about her, or better yet, why were the woman's memories running through her head?
Max rubbed her face as she trekked back to the meeting place; the dreams had really started to get to her, and she still couldn't figure out why she was having them. As she entered the meeting place, Max saw no one, and noticed a small note on the couch. Picking it up she quirked her eyebrows,
'Meet at the station. Today's the day we hit the beach, and don't sweat about the munny!
Max picked up her skateboard, and made her way toward the street -doing small tricks along the way. As she exited the alleyway, she saw Quistis and Selphie waiting beside the Job Board, "Hey." she called jumping off her board, and running up to them.
"Morning." Both girls yawned, "Come on, let's go." Selphie said and turned with Quistis walking beside her.
"Huh?" Max blinked as both girls froze in mid-step, she hurried over, only to be stopped by the blonde girl from her dreams.
Max blinked again, very confused, "Umm... Hi, and you are?"
The young blonde held up her hand to silence the girl, "I wanted to meet you at least once."
The blonde nodded, "Yes, you." she said and began walking away.
Max scratched the back of her head and watched as the girl disappeared, and saw that her friends were unfrozen, "Selphie dragged me along to go shopping." Quistis said rolling her eyes.
"Hey, you wanna come with us?" Selphie asked happily, she really needed to get those two to do more shopping.
The redhead looked back in the direction the blonde disappeared, "Didn't you just see that?"
Quistis chuckled, "She's stalling."
"Very well then." Selphie shook her head and turned, "We'll see you later then." she said and walked away with Quistis following.
Max glanced at her friends, then towards the direction the blonde had gone, "Did she go to that mansion?" she asked herself, and with one last look at Selphie and Quistis, she hurried toward the mansion. As she passed the Tram Common, and watched as a train passed by overhead, she noticed the girl slip into the hole, and into the woods. As Max neared the hole a black cloud appeared in front of her, and three Dusks jumped out to grab her, "Lemme go!" she growled, punched one in the face, and ran.
The Dusks stayed right behind her, either floating through the air, or taking those long stride steps. Max hurried back through the Tram Common, and into the Sandlot where she saw Seifer and his gang, and franticly waved her hands.
"Hey, chicken wuss!" Seifer called as Max slid to a stop in front of him, and quickly turned around as the Dusks entered the Sandlot.
"Who's that?" Fujin asked staring at the creatures, and stepping into a fighting position along with her brother -never noticing the small Vivi running away.
Seifer shrugged and growled, "I dunno, but they've already crossed the line. Find a weapon!"
Max noticed one of the Struggle practice swords on the ground, ducked under the swing of a Dusk's arm, and rolled, picking up the sword. She turned and connected the sword with a Dusk, but was knocked away; the sword useless. As she stood up, she saw that Seifer, Fujin, Raijin, and even the running Vivi were frozen in time. "This ain't good!"
"Max, use the Keyblade!"
"What?" Max glanced around and saw the blonde standing on a building overlooking the Sandlot. A Dusk jumped at Max, who brought her hands up to shield herself, and in a flash was transported to a blue platform with Willow's picture on it -as well as Willow's entire group. The name 'Station of Serenity' came into her mind like she'd known it all along. The young woman watched as a sword, shield, and staff appeared in bursts of light. Studying all three, Max picked up the sword, and watched as the other two disappeared just as fast as they had appeared. As she turned, the sword turned in to the Keyblade, and Dusks stormed the platform.
Standing her ground; the redhead dodged an attack, spun around, and brought the Keyblade down on the nearest creature, destroying it. Running toward another, she fell backwards, and slid around the oncoming Dusk, confusing it into crouching down, and turning it's head in every direction. Before the creature found her, Max bent her knees, spun around, and kicked her right leg out -knocking the Dusk to the ground, where she severed it's head. Back flipping away, and landing three feet from the last creature, she lunged, shoving the blade in to the creature's heart.
As the last Dusk disappeared a mysterious door appeared at the edge of the platform, and a bodiless voice seemed to emanate from it, "Be careful. Beyond the door lies a completely different world. But don't be afraid." Max cautiously approached the door, "Don't stop walking." the voice said again, and was gone as Max pushed the door open.
A blue platform, and a set of stained-glass stairs, and the name 'Station of Calling' came to mind as Max ascended the stairs -fighting Dusks along the way. At the top another door appeared, this time taking her to the 'Station of Awakening'. As she walked forward, two giant hands slammed down on to the platform, Max's eyes went wide when she turned to see a thirty foot tall creature rising up. Not wanting to stick around; Max turned and ran, only to slide to a stop at the edge of the platform. "This sucks." she said noticing there was nowhere to run.
The huge creature looked like a Dusk, only bigger. It's shoulders shaped like sideway cones, and a symbol glowed brightly on it's forehead, down it's nose, and ended covering it's chin. The symbol was an upside down heart, with the bottom leading to a four pointed star with sharp tips. Three whips grew out of it's neck, and flapped down on the creature's back. Max readied her Keyblade, if she was stuck with that thing, then she was going to put up a fight before it killed her.
As Max rushed forward a bright silver light engulfed her body, and in a flash, she found herself suspended in midair. Her hands were shackled in the silver light and spread out on either side of her head; her ankles were shackled in the light also, keeping her legs spread out too. The creature known as Twilight Thorn rose into the air, and came face to face with the young woman. It drew it's right hand back, closed it's fingers, and thrust it's fist forward. Max waited until the last second before flipping her body, causing the large fist to miss her, and her blade connected with the creature's head, knocking it back.
The creature spun around several times before coming to a stop, once more, facing Max, but this time from the other side of the platform. It's rubber-like arms stretched out as fast as lightning, and grabbed the struggling girl. Max gasped from the tight hold as the creature's body quickly followed behind the arms, and threw her into the air. The redhead flipped over as she began to fall, and threw her Keyblade at Twilight Thorn. The Keyblade sailed through the air, and hit the creature's head, hard, and knocking it face first to the ground -where it slid off the platform. Waiting a few moments, Max began to walk toward the edge, only to fall and slide backwards as the platform tipped. She thrust her Keyblade into the platform, and dangled from it as the creature began to gather an energy ball -and jumped away from the platform.
The Keyblade loosened, allowing Max to fall through the air, and towards the huge ball of energy. She flipped and threw the Keyblade once more, and watched as it picked up speed and broke through the energy. The ball exploded, sending both the creature and Max back to the platform. Max landed, caught the blade as it came down, and began hitting the creature on the head. After another four hits to the head; the creature rose up, and howled in pain as a dark mist formed around it. The Keyblade vanished, and Max was left trying to dodge the falling creature, but no use; the thing fell on top of her.
Max found herself falling through the darkness, only to have her hand grabbed by the blonde girl. Pure white light escaped from their touching hands, evaporating the darkness. Now as she looked around, Max found herself in a white room, and started to speak, but the blonde lay a finger on her lips, "My name is Naminé. Max, do you remember your true name?" she asked as a black cloaked figure appeared and picked her up.
"Say no more, Naminé."
Naminé struggled a moment, "But if no one tells her, then..."
"It's best she doesn't know."
"Hey!" Max pointed to the cloaked woman, "You're that pickpocket!"
The woman held out her hand, and conjured a black portal behind Max, causing the girl to jump away. Shaking her head, the woman quickly shoved Max inside. "What the...?" Max groaned as she woke up in the Sandlot.
"Seifer, strike a pose, ya know?" Max groaned again at hearing Rai's voice, and saw Seifer put his practice sword on his shoulder, and hold his other up as if he was blocking an attack, "That's totally perfect, ya know!" Fujin snapped a picture, using Quistis' camera. "How 'bout one more, ya know?"
Max stood up and felt a headache coming on, "What's that for?!"
"Keepsake." Fujin said snapping another picture.
Raijin grinned, flexing his muscles, "Those freaks in the white jumpsuits are gone, ya know?"
Max rolled her eyes, her headache began to get worse at hearing Raijin's 'ya know', "I wonder what those things are." she asked herself, she knew they were called Dusk, but just what were they?
"Outsiders, that's what." Seifer sneered, "And if they don't wise up to the rules around here, I might have to take 'disciplinary measure'."
Raijin nodded, "Oh yeah, Seifer's always lookin' after the town, ya know?"
Max shook her head, yeah right, and noticed Garnet, Quistis, and Selphie watching them, and then an angry look crossed Garnet's face before she turned and left, "Hey, wait up!" Max called, and ran to catch up.
"Hey! No chickening out of the tournament tomorrow!" Seifer shouted at her retreating back.
Max ran through the alleyway, and into the meeting place where her friends were having sea-salt ice cream, "So, you hung out with Seifer's gang today, huh?"
"No," Max shook her head, "it wasn't like that." the redhead looked down at the floor and remembered, "Oh, yeah, how was the beach? Wasn't that today?" she asked already knowing it was.
"We didn't go." Selphie shrugged, "It wouldn't be the same without you, right?"
"Sorry." Max hung her head, seemed like she couldn't do anything right, "Well, how 'bout going tomorrow? We could get those pretzels." She asked in a hopeful voice, she hadn't meant to blow off her friends, but in a way, she didn't, did she? Really, she had fought with those Dusks, and then that huge monster, that had taken a lot of time, so it wasn't her fault, right?
Garnet shook her head and glared, "I promised I'd be somewhere tomorrow." was her short answer.
"Oh...oh!" Max remembered the tournament.
"I'm outta here." Garnet brushed past Max and disappeared out the door.
"Restoration at 48%" the computer said.
Diz watched the computer for a moment, feeling the two women behind him, and sighed, "Was that Naminé made of data?" the woman on the right asked as her eyes peered at the screens.
"No," Diz turned, "Naminé hijacked the data herself. Just look at what she's done now..." the man turned back to the screens, "She's totally beyond my control!" he slammed his fist against the table.
"Calm down." The second woman said as she sat down next to the man, and continued to watch the screens.
"It doesn't matter." Diz said as he stood, and began pacing the room, "As long as Naminé accomplishes her goal we needn't worry about what befalls Max."
"But I'm not gonna betray these girls either." Goofy said as he stood beside the girls in Hollow Bastion.
"All for one and one for all." Donald said with a smile.
"Our friends are our power." Willow and Buffy said as the Keyblades returned to them.
"So, your heart won this battle." The Beast spoke.
"It is I, D'Hoffryn!" the dark twins spoke as one.
"You won't take the princesses hearts!"
Clay smiled, "We may never meet again, but we'll never forget each other."
"No matter where we are," Willow number two said, "our hearts will bring us together again."
Willow sealing the Hollow Bastion keyhole.
Max, once again, jerked awake, sweat dripping down her face, and she sighed. Those dreams again, what did they mean? She stood from her bed, and moved as if striking with the Keyblade, "What a mess..." she groaned. Why her, what was happening? At that point she didn't know, all she did know was that she needed to hurry, and get to the Sandlot for the tournament.
Grabbing her clothes and dressing quickly, Max slipped her shoes on and grabbed her tournament sword. With one last look around her room to make sure she didn't forget anything, Max hurried down the stairs, and toward the Sandlot.