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A Different Path

Title : A Different Path
Pairing : None
Summary : What if Terra lost against Eraqus? What would Aqua do after facing that? Would things still end the same; for the better or for the worst?
Rating : T (PG-13)
Warnings : AR , Violence, Character Death

The steward, and Keyblade Master, of the Land of Departure stands confidently a few feet away from the young boy. He appears just as he always does; wearing a red lined, white jacket with a hood with light-colored pants that stop just above his gold and black armored bots. Underneath his jacket he wears a navy blue shirt with a large white ‘X’ pattern and a blue-green section of armor to cover his abdomen. His black hair is tied up high in a short topknot with one bang falling to the right side of his face. Getting closer, the boy can clearly see the jagged scar crossing over his right eye and left cheek – wounds that he’s sure were earned from a painful battle.

His weary, yet wise, eyes look the boy up and down as he approaches. Nothing seems noticeably different about him – nothing that screams danger. His blond hair still spikes upward, sweeping to the right to dip down around his bright blue eyes. Every piece of clothing is intact from the white-black jacket with the pleated red collar to the dark-light gray patterned pants. Even the white and black checker wristband is still on his person.

As the Master gets closer, he rubs at the side of his face, fingers grazing over the short, triangular soul patch and mustache. Master Eraqus summons his Master Keeper, holding it ready for battle. The weapon itself appears generally gray and looks like a skeleton key of sorts, the teeth at the end forming an ‘E’. It’s when the blond gets a look at the Keyblade that he takes a step back; the kind man is gone, all that’s left is a stern upholder of light.

“What did you hear?” Eraqus demands. The apprentice pauses and fumbles over his words, still jarred by the appearance of Eraqus’ Keyblade, “Ventus?”

The way Eraqus spoke his name so softly and fatherly triggers Ventus to remember what’s going on – what he knows. “That I’m supposed to be some weapon, some of kind Keyblade!”

“I knew it…” Eraqus glances down at his hand wrapped tightly around the hilt of his blade. “…Xehanort… He could never let it go.” Raising his Keyblade to waist level and holding it out to the side, light begins to swirl around the end as he brings it in front of himself. “But you must exist no more!”

The blaze of white light surges toward Ventus with that final warning. He throws his arms up to cover his head just as the attack diminishes and an arm slings around his shoulders. The helpful hand pushes him back out of the way. Remaining rays of light fade away and Ventus looks up to see his best friend, Terra, standing before him clad in gold, red, and dark brown armor. It retreats away to reveal brown hair that is styled into messy, vertical spikes with bangs framing his face. Narrowed blue eyes are set into a slightly tanned face. Two red straps intersect over his chest clad in a skintight, black, high-collared shirt. His pants look similar to Eraqus’ own save for they are dark gray at the top, with the belt loops, and tan on the legs.

He lowers his Keyblade; a heavy, dark gold key with a dark blue-green hilt. Exasperated, he flings his left hand outward. “Master, have you gone mad?”

Surprised at the interruption, and a little dismayed, Eraqus sets his lips out in a straight line. “Terra, I command you – Step aside.”

“No!” he shouts, stepping forward as he gives a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure Ventus hasn’t moved.

“You would not heed your Master?”

Terra shakes his head from side to side. “I won’t!”

“Why do all of my attempts to reach you fail? If you don’t have it in your heart to obey, then you will have to share Ventus’ fate!” A single tear slides down his cheek as he rushes forward, slamming his Keyblade against Terra’s.

Terra throws all his weight forward and shoves Eraqus away before taking a slow swing towards his Master – darkness gathering around his body. Sensing the change in his pupil, Eraqus dodges back before lunging forward once more. They parry blows with neither showing signs of slowing down as Ventus watches on, horrified. But even the young Keyblade wielder is able to pick out the turn of battle far more quickly than Terra can.

Eraqus side steps a downward strike and moves a few feet away. Light gathers at the end of his Keyblade and he gives it a twirl till it’s positioned in front of his body, aiming straight for Terra. The slow, but heavy hitter can do nothing but raise his Keyblade to try and defend himself as the magic hurls toward him. The sheer power behind it knocks the brunet backwards all the way into Ventus, who he rolls away from to keep from hurting him.

As Terra looks up, he sees his Master approaching quickly with an aura far deadlier than any he’s seen. Surrounded in light, with what appear to be bolts of lightning surging around him, Eraqus strides calmly towards them; not expecting either to resist further. But Terra panics and taps further into his darkness, straining his abilities as sweat drips off his chin. He holds his hand out to aim behind Ventus, using the rest of his strength to summon a portal. Ventus, slowly coming too after being thrown to the ground, reaches out for Terra as he’s slowly drug into the portal.

But Eraqus will have none of this, he won’t let this darkness destroy all he’s worked to protect even if he means hurting the ones he loves. With one last lunge forward, just as Terra rises to his knees, Eraqus slams his Keyblade against Terra’s chest – sending the young man sailing back to the ground with a hard thud. The portal dissolves instantly with the source of its power gone and Ventus is left staring up at Master Eraqus. Far more worried about Terra, Ventus crawls over to him with tears slipping from his eyes. He places his hands on Terra’s chest; shaking him gently until his sobs turn those shakes into trembles.

“I’m sorry…” is all the old Master mumbles before raising his power once more.

All at once the noises stop and Eraqus dismisses his Keyblade. Ventus slumps forward over Terra’s still body. Having to turn his back, he swallows hard at the thought of their demise and that he’s done the right thing.

(x)(x)(x)

Aqua reaches the Keyblade Graveyard, having been warned of the disaster that should be taking place. Her feet, clad in armored, silver boots, tread through across the barren ground. She removes the rest of her armor now that she’s safely upon the ground. The helmet vanishes to reveal her determined sapphire eyes and short blue hair. Her arms hang back down at her sides as her bell-sleeves and tan, fingerless gloves return. Two strips of blue cloth drape over her hips with a white strip over those and her black shorts. Just like Terra, she wears two pink, intersecting belts over her blue, high-collared halter top. She bends down to brush off some of the dust, from her landing, away from her black stockings before straightening back up.

But as she arrives at the crossroads surrounded by worn and rusted Keyblades stabbed into the earth, she realizes something is very wrong. Neither of the people she expected to be here has arrived. A suspicious feeling crawls up her spine and she turns around, preparing to put her armor back on and head for the Land of Departure. If anyone would know what’s going on, Master Eraqus would.

“Leaving so soon?”

The spiteful voice draws her attention to the right to see the masked boy striding to her like he owns the worlds. His face remains hidden from her by the obstructing silver helmet covered with dark glass. His entire body is donned with a black bodysuit with red lining on the front, his wrists, and just above his burgundy boots. A dark red belt with two intersecting straps in the front keeps the dark blue and red cloth around his waist open in the front.

Aqua summons her Keyblade; a silver and black hilt with a blue blade and crescent shaped teeth. The boy chuckles at her and summons his own, which matches his appearance. A dark Keyblade colored in reds and blacks with two blue eyes on it hangs loosely from his fingers, as if he’s not particularly looking for a fight. But she knows better and stays her ground, weapon at the ready.

He scoffs at her display. “I’m surprised your even here. Shouldn’t you be with Ventus?” Her eyes narrow and before she can ask, he gestures toward the horizon. “I can’t feel his presence any longer. I guess that’s one good thing about being connected, as terrible as it is. To be connected to something so… weak. I don’t see how the two of us joining could make such a powerful weapon like the X-Blade, but maybe I’m just picky.”

Slowly he turns his head back to her as the mask shrouding his identity begins to dissolve. Shocked, she takes a step back. When he had said that he and Ventus were connected, she expected to see her friend standing there. But what she gets is quite the opposite. His ebony hair spikes outward in every other direction with bangs dipping just before his bright, golden eyes. Grabbing firmly at the handle of his Keyblade, he smirks at her.

“I guess if the other half of me is missing, I’ll just have to settle for you. Glad I kept you as a backup. At least you’re stronger, Master Aqua.”

Her grip tightens on her Keyblade as she takes a few quick steps forward, she stabs towards him. “Blizzaga!” she shouts as a large chunk of ice materializes and sails straight for him. She watches as the ice splinters into smaller pieces before vanishing altogether, allowing her to see if the attack worked. Breathing hard from using such advanced magic at the start, she’s left even more breathless at the sight of nothing standing before her. The boy disappeared altogether.

“You think that will work against me?”

Aqua spins around with her Keyblade swinging, stopping his own from slicing down at her. “Who are you?”

He pushes more of his weight against his attack. “Vanitas – fear itself.” Is all he says before jumping back and seeming to melt into the ground, a puddle of darkness left in his place.

She stares as it moves forward; but she knows this attack and she won’t let it catch her off guard this time.  As soon as he moves closer, Aqua hand-springs backwards just as he springs up from the ground. In his wake come large ice pillars that sprout up from the ground around her. She swings her Keyblade to point at the sky, drawing on her magic. Bolts of lightning crash down against the ice pillars and shatter them instantly, creating clouds of icy dust.

Vanitas uses this to his advantage to run at full speed at her. Just as he gets close he leaps up into the air. Holding his blade in front of him, energy begins to form at the tip. Realizing she won’t have time to dodge she braces herself into a defense stance. Vanitas grins as the dark lightning zigzags towards her, expecting to have won in that instance.

But as he falls back to the ground, unfazed by the amount of energy the attack takes and the fall, he watches as the smoke from the blast clears. The transparent shield dissipates as she glares at him, even though she’s not surprised at his dirty tricks. Although he does pause out of curiosity as she begins to glow. Her Keyblade surrounds itself in the same light and leaves her grasp, proceeding to hover. Darkness cloaks his own body as he runs towards her, not worried in the least about this newly shown ability of hers.

As soon as he gets close she flips backwards and the Keyblade sails towards him. Vanitas dodges around it by sinking into a dark puddle once more, resurfacing several feet away and launching several fire balls at the blade. Aqua summons it back to her grasp and struggles to throw up another Reflect magic, barely putting it up in time. The force destroys the shield and throws her backward, knocking her down to the ground. Lying on her back, she winces at the scoffs and scratches making her body ache. That is in contrast to Vanitas who strides toward her calmly, appearing to have no signs of wear and tear on him.

Struggling to get up, Aqua takes a deep breath. Even still she holds her Keyblade at the ready, prepared not to give up even at the brink of defeat. She keeps her eyes trained on his approaching form when all of a sudden he vanishes, leaving only an after-image in his wake. She barely has time to gasp at the back of his Keyblade slams against her and sends her flying – the magic from it blasting onto her.

Falling to the ground face first, her Keyblade vanishes and whatever strength she had left leaves her. She can hear him walking towards her, see out of the corner of her eye as the dust wafts around his boots. Her cheek presses against the earth until Vanitas rolls her over, kneeling beside her in the process. Sitting atop her, he smirks as he wraps his fingers around her neck. The sudden attack causes Aqua to bring her own shaky hands up to grab at his wrists in an attempt to stop him. Tightening his hold so that she can’t speak, he chuckles. “Don’t worry, I won’t kill you. Even though I should for all the pain you’ve caused me. Every Unversed you destroy only made me want to hurt you even more. Now, now, I’ll make you hurt.”

Darkness begins to surround him, beginning faint but growing darker – darker than black itself. He begins to grow transparent as if he’s becoming the darkness himself. The aura continues to grow and surround her as she can do nothing but lay still and watch. Her eyes squeeze shut as the darkness tries to take her over – absorbing into her very being. The dull pain only lasts a few seconds until the aura and Vanitas are gone, leaving her lying there on the ground.

Slowly, she opens her eyes and sits up. Aqua brings a hand up to rub at the side of her head. She doesn’t feel strange and looking herself over, she can’t see anything different. But as she thinks of what just happened she can feel a presence inside of her – that very presence being Vanitas; telling her to kill the other Masters and to rule like she was made to do. She gives him no attention as she stands, ignoring the echoing words in her head and pushing them away.

Instead she worries over Vanitas’ previous words about Ventus. Aqua runs off into the direction she came from; hitting the device on her arm to summon her arm and her Keyblade to use to get back to the Land of Departure. She can be sure that Ventus returned there like she had told him to. She can only hope that with Master Eraqus there that he’s kept her friend safe from any harm.

(x)(x)(x)

‘Told you…’ are the words that echo throughout Aqua’s psyche as she arrives at Land of Departure. She struggles to comprehend the sight – confusion, hurt, betrayal. All those emotions course through her as she wrestles control of her mind away from Vanitas and his darkness, keeping her own wits about her as she walks closer. No matter how fast she wants to go, she can only slowly stride forward, not truly wanting to get there.

Her Master stands over two bodies, one atop the other. Although no Keyblade is in his hand, she knows who the culprit has to be. There’s no other body lying around nor is there any enemy in sight, or sense. Aqua falls to her knees as she reaches her friends, crumpling over them as tears immediately begin to drip down her cheeks. “Ven… Terra…” she can’t even look up at Eraqus, she can only brush her fingers through Ventus’ flaxen spikes and over Terra’s hand. Her chest constricts and her body feels as heavy as lead.

“Aqua… Please you must understand. There is no room for darkness, it is the roof of evil, and as Keyblade Masters, we must strike down such evil.”

She shakes her head, tears dripping off her cheeks. “They would have never done anything evil.”

“Master Xehanort, he was manipulating them to do his bidding. He seeks our destruction Aqua, we are the light. It is our duty to stop him and his plans…no matter the costs.”

“N-No they wouldn’t have done anything…”

‘Even the brightest light can be evil. Don’t you see?’

He taunts her and for a second she mistakes it for help, raw courage that is leant to her. The darkness flows around her like an aura as she tries to think – to plan. But she can feel Eraqus’ fear as he takes several steps back and summons his Keyblade. Horrified, he looks at her. “Aqua, what’s happened to you?”

In the distance across from Eraqus appears Xehanort. He’s an elder man with hunched shoulders and a crooked back. He’s bald save for thin eyebrows and a curled, silver goatee. The feeble appearance hides the immense power he can display. He wears a white and black coat with a red inner lining. Beneath that are a white shirt, two thin black belts, white gloves, and calf-high black boots.  He keeps his arms behind his back with gleaming amber eyes staring straight at Aqua. “Young Master, Eraqus has raised his blade against your friends. He struck them down without a second thought. How can you let such acts go unpunished?”

Aqua slowly rises to her feet, the darkness curling around her as she steps around her friends’ bodies. Her eyes, still blue, gain a golden rim around them as she takes a deep breath. With the prompting of the darkness inside, she holds her hand – willing for the Keyblade. Power surges throughout the area as she summons it, wind swirling around her arm until finally it stops; leaving a powerful Keyblade in its wake.

Its appearance altogether sends Eraqus into silence. The X-Bade points toward him with the need for battle. The Keyblade itself is made up of two crossing Kingdom Keys, yellow hilts and silver blades, with the teeth facing outward. The unique design behind the blades of the Kingdom Keys is a white-green fading into a golden color, the sharp blade pointing out between the Kingdom Keys’ ends.

She darts forward, giving no warning as she slashes at her former Master. He brings his own Keyblade up to block her strike but the second the X-Blade touches it, the Keyblade shatters into light. Turning away from the sight as Eraqus drops to his knees and then to the ground, she watches as Xehanort walks towards her. Lips remain in a straight line, not giving anything away as he gets close. Still, he grins at her. “I’m impressed. The one I least expected has surpassed all my challenges and fulfilled my plans. My girl, raise your blade to the heavens and summon Kingdom Hearts!”

Aqua’s eyes narrow and she falls back into her stance, directing the tip of the X-Blade at him now. “My name is Master Aqua. I do not follow the orders of a traitor.”

Xehanort takes a step back, glaring at her, “Traitor? You’re the one that killed your own Master!”

“And you tore Ventus’ heart in half!” She brings one hand to touch over her heart. “You confused Terra into turning against him and you drove Master Eraqus to the brink of his own destruction. As a Keyblade Master, my duty is to protect the worlds and their inhabitants – to eliminate all threats and keep balance.” Aqua begins to run forward, knowing he won’t have a chance to defend and even if he did he stands no chance. “Now accept my judgment!”

The light from the very blade itself leaves nothing in its wake but a scorch of black on the stone courtyard. She turns away from it and glances back to her friends, swallowing past the lump in her throat. Knowing what she must do, Aqua raises the Keyblade toward the sky and holds it with both hands. Power builds at its tip as the sky seems to part for her. The midafternoon turns to night. The swirling clouds begin to part for the arrival of the very thing that set her destiny on a different path.

Kingdom Hearts unlocks, descending from the clouds to hang in the sky like a permanent moon. She slowly lowers the X-Blade, gazing up at the blue glow emitting from the massive heart in the sky – the heart of all worlds, of everything. With a heavy sigh, she turns away and begins for the audience chamber. Before she had left to go after Terra, Eraqus had told her of a secret that she was to use in an emergency. Although it’ll be used for a far different purpose than was intended, Aqua heads straight for the Master chairs. Behind one is a faux wall that slides away to reveal a Keyhole; to be unlocked or sealed she’s not sure. But it matters not; the power of the X-Blade will do her bidding and mold this secret to her own desires. Holding it out in front of her, the X-Blade begins to unlock the Keyhole. Blinding light and curling darkness surrounds her instantly.

Once the monochrome power dissipates, she’s left sitting on a white throne with black flowers decorating the sides. All around her she’s left with white walls, floors and ceiling as well as black flowers and other decorations. Her castle of oblivion is all she has left to remind herself of her home and her past, the whole world transformed because of her power.

‘And what are you going to do now?’

Taking a steady breath, she stands and lets the X-Blade disappear for a while. “I won’t let anything like this happen again. It’s my sworn duty as a Master.” A small, tired smile graces her lips as she begins to walk for the exit, a dark portal appearing in front of her. “I have many words to visit… especially that one, Destiny Islands.”