The gang turns up in Hollow Bastion, and the girls uncover an unnerving secret.
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In the centre of the icy cold, grey town square, a light beamed down from the heavens, bathing the uneven stone tiles in resonating silver light. As the light faded, seven figures began to appear, blurred and fuzzy outlines gradually becoming distinct features. It was a strange sight, but then, many strange things had been happening in Hollow Bastion lately.
When the light had faded completely, Liz rubbed her bleary jade eyes and stretched her bare arms up towards the sky, glad to finally be out of the cramped metal confines of the Gummi ship and back on hard, spacious land.
“Well that wasn’t so bad.” She yawned, talking to the sky as dim evening sunlight hit her face and warmed her cheeks.
“Speak for yourself Liz,’ moaned Tamara as she rubbed her back,’ you’re not the one who landed on the ground.”
“You’re just jealous that I have better balance.” Liz taunted, breathing in the fresh air greedily.
Tamara forgot her momentary lack of coordination instantly as Riku held out his pale hand out towards the golden-haired girl compassionately.
“Need a hand?”
He smiled as he heard Liz laugh at the soft blush gently spreading across Tamara’s face and brushed a limp strand of silver hair from his eyes when Tamara remained awkwardly silent and eyed off his hand.
“C’mon, I won’t bite!”
Tamara’s cheeks took on a rosy shade of pink as she grabbed Riku’s hand and pulled herself up, aiming an evil glare at Liz as she started giggling.
“Shut up.” she said moodily, her cheeks only blushing pinker.
“Hey,’ said Aqua as he stared at the smooth stone tiles that lined the street,’ what’s that?”
As he spoke, tiny beams of golden yellow light shot up from the ground, emitting a shrill beeping noise that echoed around the silent town.
“That’s the town defense system,’ said an unfamiliar female voice proudly,’ like it?”
Tamara and Liz swiveled around to see a teenaged girl sitting cross-legged on a tall stone wall behind them, her scarf fluttering in the breeze like a long, black, tasseled butterfly.
“Long time no see Yuffie,’ said Sora happily,’ how’s Leon?”
Yuffie jumped off the wall and walked over to the group. “Leon’s his usual irritable self, how’re you? And who’re the new friends?”
“I’m Tamara,’ said Tamara,’ and this lovely, and slightly insensitive, lady behind me is Elisabeth.”
“Call me Liz.” Liz said, holding her hand out to shake.
“And this,’ Tamara continued as the two girls shook hands,’ is Riku and Aqua.” Riku nodded in acknowledgement and Aqua smiled happily.
“Yuffie, where is everyone?” asked Sora, looking around enthusiastically like he expected someone to pop out from behind the big stone buildings and shout “surprise!”
“Oh,’ said Yuffie,’ everyone’s at Merlin’s place. C’mon, I’ll take you there.”
As everyone fell into stride behind Yuffie, Aqua and Riku hung back to walk with Liz and Tamara.
“So, what do you think of this place?” Aqua asked, hands in his pockets. Even though it was a general question, Tamara could tell he was talking to Liz. She was good at noticing little gestures like that.
“I dunno.’ Liz replied.’ I guess I don’t feel comfortable here because this place is so different to my island. It was so serene, tranquil I guess, and this world is a bit more,’ Liz paused as she searched for the right word,’... industrial.”
“Yeah,’ agreed Aqua,’ I know what you mean, my home was nothing like this! I guess it’s just nice to see what other places are like though, just brings a bit of variety into my life.”
Riku and Tamara dropped back quickly behind the pair, beginning their own private conversation.
“Hey, thanks for helping me up back there,’ said Tamara awkwardly, feeling her heart flutter as she looked into Riku’s vivid blue eyes,’ I guess I need to practice landing the Gummi ship.”
“Don’t worry too much, the Gummi was probably just being sensitive.” reassured Riku, silently wondering if his heart would burst out of his chest at the speed it was pumping. He looked at Tamara awkwardly and wondered if she could hear it beating too.
“Hey,’ yelled Sora from a few meters ahead,’ you’d better hurry up or you’ll get left behind!”
“We’re coming, we’re coming!” yelled Tamara as she and Riku sprinted ahead to catch up. By the time they had joined the rest of the group, Yuffie had stopped in front of a small wooden cottage that looked slightly out of place against its lofty stone surroundings. Yuffie knocked a few times on the thick door and unlocked it, walking in and beckoning to the gang to follow. The first thing that Tamara noticed were the computer screens, all of various sizes and flashing brightly, that hung on the opposite wall, each one showing a different set of data in the same code. The blonde haired man sitting at the computer screen didn’t seem to know that they were there; he was too busy having a conversation with the person next to him.
“Hi Leon, I’m back!’ Yuffie said cheerfully, waving to the surly looking brown haired man who was absorbed in conversation with blondy.’ Sora’s back, and he brought friends!!”
Hearing his name, Leon stood and walked away from the blonde haired man.
“I thought you’d come back,’ he said,’ nice to see you made it.”
“Yeah, and this time Riku is with me!” said Sora happily, watching as his friend sighed and rolled his eyes towards the ceiling.
“I don’t see one extra friend,’ Leon replied,’ I see four. Who are these other people with you?”
“That’s Riku and Aqua,’ explained Sora,’ and that’s Elisabeth and Tamara.”
Leon didn’t say anything while Sora introduced his new friends; he just stood silently, his right hand absent mindedly running over the leather hilt of his very big sword. When he finally spoke, it was in a tone of amusement.
“Girls, Sora? You have an interesting choice in companions.”
Yuffie gasped and hit Leon on the side of his head with her black gloved hand.
“OW!’ he yelled,’ Yuffie, what was that for?!”
“You are so sexist! Girls are just as good as boys!” said Yuffie sternly, her anger immediately giving way to a grin as she winked at the two girls.
“I wasn’t being sexist,’ Leon complained,’ anyway, Sora needs all the help he can get.”
“Huh? Why would I need extra help here?” asked Sora as he scratched the back of his head.
“Because Hollow Bastion has a problem, a big problem.” muttered Leon darkly.
“We want to restore Hollow Bastion to the way it was before the heartless came,’ said Yuffie happily,’ so we started the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee.” Yuffie paused as Leon nodded.
“Well, it’s still a working progress,’ Yuffie continued,’ but we do have a few members, Cid and Aerith for starters.”
“Where are Cid and Aerith anyway?” asked Donald.
“Well I’m right here!” said the blonde haired man as he turned away from the computer screens, chewing on the toothpick in his mouth.
“Sorry I didn’t say hi before, but I was running a systems check. Name’s Cid. Nice to meet ya.”
As Cid turned back to the computer, a girl with her fringe curled into tight brown ringlets seemingly materialized out of the shadows behind them.
“Sora, Donald, Goofy,’ she said, her soft voice almost a whisper,’ it’s been so long.”
“Nice too see you too, Aerith.” said Goofy happily.
“Sora, I need you to meet me at bailey.’ said Leon, his voice serious once again.’ You can bring your friends along too, if you want.”
Sora was about to follow Leon as he walked out the door, but stopped as a large puff of shimmering blue-grey smoke swirled into existence in front of Tamara. The cloud was still for a moment, and then exploded in a shower of dazzling white sparks, sending Tamara jumping backwards in surprise and into Riku’s arms. Ignoring Liz’s snorts of laughter, she pushed herself out of Riku’s arms and blushed madly as she tried to regain her composure.
Where the smoke had been, a tall man in a long blue robe now stood. He straightened the pointy, baby blue hat on his head and brushed magical dust from his robes, then turned around to face the group.
“Merlin! Nice ta see you again.” said Goofy happily.
“It’s nice to see you all back,’ said the man named Merlin,’ safe and sound. And who do I have the pleasure of meeting for the first time?”
“This is Tamara, Liz, Riku, and Aqua,’ explained Donald,’ and they’re coming with us to help defeat the heartless.”
“Ah, the more the merrier always I say! Now,’ Merlin turned around to face Sora,’ do you remember any of your magic?”
Sora grinned guiltily and shook his head.
“Deary me, it seems like I’ll have to help boost your memory.” Merlin waved his slim wand and pointed it at the group, directing a silver beam sparkles to swirl in the air and surround them in a hazy silver cloud.
“I’m feeling generous, so I’ve given you all a new spell each. Hopefully, you won’t forget them quite as easily as Sora had.”
As Merlin turned around, the room suddenly filled with giant transparent bubbles. Liz looked accusingly over at Aqua, who quickly hid his keyblade behind his back and grinned lopsidedly.
“Sorry,’ he mumbled guiltily as the bubbles began to pop,’ couldn’t resist.”
“Hey,’ said Tamara,’ wasn’t Leon here a second ago?”
“Oh no,’ gasped Sora,’ we were supposed to meet him at the bailey! C’mon!” with a hurried wave goodbye to Merlin, Sora jogged out of the room and dashed off down the street, the others sprinting to catch up with him. At the bailey, Leon was leaning calmly against a crumbling brick wall, his eyes closed, deep in thought. He looked up through his eyelashes as he heard the loud, pounding footsteps of Sora and the rest of the group and opened both his eyes fully as he walked unhurriedly over to them.
“Sorry we’re late,’ panted Sora,’ we got caught up meeting Merlin.”
“No big deal,’ said Leon,’ I’m not in any hurry. Now, onto the matter at hand. Like I said before, the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee is trying everything to get Hollow Bastion back to the way it was before. But there’s a big problem that we have to sort out, one that we’re gonna need you’re help with.”
Leon pointed towards a large castle rising out of the jagged cerulean landscape in the distance, a multicolored mess of jagged towers and crumbling turrets. The tower should have been resting on an icy-blue mountain ledge, but whatever ground there was, it was hidden by a seething mass of white and black.
‘Wow......” muttered Liz as she leaned over the edge of the wall to get a better look.
“I’ve seen heartless before and I can deal with them on my own,’ explained Leon,’ but I’ve never seen anything like the white creatures before. That’s where you and your friends come in.”
“Those white things, they must be the nobodies!” said Riku quietly.
“Clever, very clever.”
The voice echoed out of nowhere in reply and reverberated around the stonework menacingly as the air temperature dropped by a few degrees.
“Who’s there?” called Leon angrily. “Show yourself!!””
“Fools,’ a new, deeper voice taunted,’ you’re not as brave as you sound. Let’s see how brave you are facing my minions!”
Several nobodies rose rhythmically from the ground, many rising behind them, circling the group and closing in on them, moving in slow, synchronized grace.
“What do we do now?” wondered Goofy, scratching his head and drawing his shield.
“Here’s a hint.” said Liz as her Keyblade flashed into her hand. She swung the crimson blade at the nearest nobody, grinning as she hit it on the center of its white head with a satisfyingly loud thump. As the others caught on, Tamara and Liz fought their way towards the gate, slashing at the nobodies in perfect time with each others movements, a result of living together for the best of seven years, whacking the occasional nobody towards the boys so that they wouldn’t miss out on too much of the action. Before the girls could get out the gate, it slammed shut in their faces, sealing the only exit.
“Damn! Guys, the exit’s blocked!” shouted Liz, stabbing a nobody and sending it flying sideways into wall with her keyblade before it could get anywhere near her.
“Now what?” yelled Sora, fighting back to back with Riku and sending the nobodies flying in every possible direction.
“Don’t talk, fight!” Aqua yelled back flinging his keyblade outwards, sending it spiraling like a boomerang and sending nobodies flying. As Tamara sent the last nobody crashing painfully into the brick wall, the gates swung open. The sound of gloved hands clapping echoed gently around the bailey, and as Riku looked over at the broken stone walls, he saw who was clapping.
Figures robed in black lined the jagged walls, watching and waiting to be noticed.
“Well done,’ said one of the figures sarcastically,’ you’re tougher than you look.”
“Who’re you, and what do you want?” asked Liz angrily, taking a step forwards as she saw them and pointing her keyblade at the hooded man who had spoken.
“Ah,’ another of the hooded men laughed,’ feisty. Just like your mother.”
The blood drained rapidly from Liz’s face as she stared, the look of shock on her face mingling with suspicion and anger.
“How do you know my mother?” she whispered accusingly, tightening her grip on her keyblade so hard that her knuckles began to turn ashen white.
“We know many people little princess,’ another of the figures replied calmly yet mockingly,’ and as a matter of fact, I knew your dear friends mother as well.”
“Why do you know our mothers?!” yelled Tamara, who was now just as spooked as Liz and just as angry.
“Oops,’ said the robed man mockingly,’ I believe I’ve said too much! I’m terribly sorry, but I have to go now. I’m sure I’ll see you both again very soon, your highnesses.”
Before anyone could get a straight answer out of the black-robed man or his companions, they all disappeared simultaneously in separate spirals of thick black and blue darkness.
“What was that all about?” asked Aqua, walking over to the girls.
“I’ve got no idea.” muttered Liz, still ashen-faced and wide-eyed in shock.
“Tell me about it!” added Tamara as she rubbed her temples slowly.
“I bet that was one of the members of Organization XIII.” said Riku thoughtfully.
“You lot seem just about ready to leave,’ said Leon quietly,’ so before I forget, I want to give you these.” Leon pulled a bundle of small yellow cards from the pocket of his leather jacket.
“They’re membership cards for the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee.” Leon explained as Tamara held her up to the light to see it better. With the sunlight shining from behind it, it looked almost as if it was glowing. Without warning, the card was tugged from her hand by an invisible wind, and the glowing edge shot a single white beam of delicate light up into the pink afternoon sky, outlining the shape of a key hole. Everything around Tamara faded into black as her keyblade flashed into her hand, the tip beginning to glow the same silvery white color as the outline of the keyhole. Her hair swirled gracefully around her head as it was carried by a gentle breeze, and she was swept off her feet as a beam of light shot from the tip of her keyblade and into the very center of the keyhole. There was a faint clicking noise and everything swirled into view again.
“What just happened?” Tamara muttered, rubbing her head as she fought off the ominous wave of oncoming dizziness.
“I think you just opened one of the gateways Yen Sid was talking about.” quacked Donald happily.
“Well if that was a gateway, then what are they?” said Liz uncertainly, casting her gaze high above Tamara’s left shoulder.
Tamara followed Liz’s gaze and saw two sparkling golden orbs, hovering in the air above them. Both orbs sped down towards the girls, pausing for a moment to hover playfully in front of their astonished faces before sinking deep into the girls’ chests. Tamara’s mind was instantly filled with vivid memories; glowing white figures that were too blurry to see clearly, soft children’s laughter, a sweet voice, echoing and flowing like the tide, calling to her.
Tamara’s golden eyes snapped open. She looked up and saw Riku’s face staring down at her, his mouth drawn into a worried frown.
“Tamara,’ he said gently,’ are you okay? You fainted.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Tamara pushed herself out of Riku’s arms, and saw that she wasn’t the only one who been a bit out of it. Liz was lying in Aqua’s arms, her eyes still shut fast.
“I think....... I think that orb........was my memory.”
“Your memory?” asked Riku, still worried.
“Liz?! Are you okay?” asked Aqua cautiously as Liz’s green eyes flew open and she sat up, taking a few giant gulps of air.
“Get offa me!!” squeaked Liz, wrenching herself out of Aqua’s arms and taking a few giant steps away from him.
“And don’t you dare laugh!!” she whispered darkly as Tamara started to giggle.