Kaida looked around at the jungle trying to see if she noticed anything familiar about it. But there was nothing, so the blonde shook her head and said, "No I don't believe so. I've been to a few forests but I think I'd remember trees like this." knowing Quill hadn't been here either was a bit of a relief, but she also wondered if that was their intention all along was to find somewhere unfamiliar. She looked to Quill and said, "Maybe they want us to see who can climb trees the fastest. I didn't think you were a speedy guy so I'm sorry if time magic throws you off."
A part of her wanted to protest a bit more, but she supposed there was no point. Having a backup sounded... fine with the idea of the potential for keyblades to not work. But she still wasn't a fan, she felt like it was a waste. Kaida looked at the armory looking towards the ranged weapons and was curious about the boomerang. She knew what it was but it seemed odd that something she would consider more of a toy was part of a potential arsenal. But when she picked it up she certainly felt it's weight. She turned in a direction no one was standing and gave it a whirl, watching it fly for a moment before it arced it's way back. She walked in it's direction to grab it and felt the heft of it hit her she caught it and let out a bit of an "oof". As she looked it over and said, "I guess if I had to pick, I'll go for this." she twirled it a bit with both her hands before saying, "But I'm heading to bed as well. If anyone needs me, well." Kaida picked up the phone and waved it a little before placing it in her pocket and making her way out of there.
Kaida listened to Shiro with a look that seemed to be confused before she finally just asked, "Why though?" she realized that was vague before clearing her throat, "What I mean is, why train a weapon outside of keyblades? For the most part other weapons aren't effective against heartless and they certainly won't make a dent in battle if we're beginners with new weapons. We are already keyblade masters, or at the very least keyblade proficient. I fail to see how it's anything other than wasting time to train with a new weapon instead of just... working on the skillsets we already have developed." she looked at the others and said, "Unless I spaced out and completely missed something about keyblades being inefficient entirely." Kaida crossed her arms as her eyes gravitated towards the ranged weapons and said, "Not that I completely hate the idea of training with another weapon, this just seems like a bad time to do it."
"That whole experience was crazy though." Kaida chimed in right after Kel did before adding, "I could go the rest of my life without seeing a flamethrower and be perfectly content. And considering how fun a flamethrower would seem to use, that seems crazy to me." The blonde shifted with the sack and shook out a couple of stray bugs that began running off towards the rest of the entity and then she put the sack over her head and asked, "Does this make me more or less spooky."
The fight certainly had a weird rhythm to it, but they eventually came out on top. Her attentions split from Jack and Oogie for a moment to focus on the keyhole that had appeared, and watched as Quill sealed it. He seemed happy. Or at least content. She really couldn't tell, but she could tell it was a genuine smile at least. But as the conversation grew more intense between the skeleton and the boogieman, she focused that ways instead. When Oogie asked what the Goodie Two-Shoes gang was gonna do, Kaida smirked and walked closer and summoned out a keyblade and held it towards him. Specifically aiming towards the side of his head just over his shoulder as she taunted, "I guess a timeout is one way we could put it. If you keep sassing us like that."
As the blonde pulled the keyblade back, the edge of it snagged onto a thread. Kaida blinked and pulled a little bit and said, "Wait that wasn't the intention. Hold on let me just.." and she pulled a little harder and heard a tearing noise with the burlap. As a bug crawled out onto her hand, she panicked and pushed the bug away and pulled harder on the keyblade, and as she finally got it free, she had also as a result torn up the sack.
Unlikely. Most if not all the members that actively worked on it don't really go on the forum anymore.
Perhaps a trap door should have seemed like the obvious trap, but she supposed today was the type of day she would fall for one like that. She would applaud it, if it weren't for the fact this obviously spelled trouble for her. She stumbled a bit when landing on her feet before taking heed to what Quill said and turning her back towards the others but keeping close as she summoned her keyblade out and said, "Scared of the dark? Please. I've seen darker darkness than this darkness." she twirled the key a bit and said, "Well, come on."
Kaida thought about Quill's question as they walked, placing a hand to her chin and thinking, "I have felt something... off... but I don't know. I had assumed it had something to do with the heartless?" she let go of it and shrugged her shoulders and said, "But I guess now that you mentioned something, it's... bigger and more infrequent?" Kaida wasn't certain she was making sense as she looked around, almost hoping the answer lied within her eyesight, but failing to actually find anything.
Kaida had been helping silently and not giving much input at all. It was likely irritating for the others, but she was still in a bit of recovery over the tests and was enjoying herself for the most part. The grittiness of the world made it stand out from others in more of a fun way than other worlds with a similar vibe. She wasn't necessarily a fan of the look that blend decided to give her, but it'd work. She also hadn't contributed much to the heartless attack at all, and felt a little guilt for not helping out Quill a little sooner. But with Luna's healing and Quill insisting he'd be fine, she didn't know what else to really offer. As they began walking she looked over towards Quill and said, "Do you need anything else?" she realized she didn't quite ask it right and said, "Like, not necessarily just healing. Are you alright?"
Kaida walked out of the trial room and didn't make it two steps before she found herself looking across at Beuce and Quill with... multiple AJs. Kaida blinked and looked between them all before saying sleepily, "I think I have died and watched people die too many times in one day and my brain is broken. Cause I'm seeing more than one AJ." she rubbed her eyes and silently stared before saying, "Yeah it's gone. I've gone insane." she walked over to Beuce looking visibly upset, "Yen Sid's training really does a number on you I guess." she looked at Quill and said, "I assume you're actually carrying sacks of flour or something."
The only thing Kaida was able to do was watch as the slaughter happened. No Heart killing every single person who jumped into the fight. Which of course was everyone in the SOS, but members of the Order and Black Coats jumped in as well and met the same fate. She didn't exactly mean to tier the deaths or anything, but once all of her friends in the SOS were killed in front of her, the rest just made her feel numb.
Once confronted with it, she realized that this was an ending she was afraid of. Not necessarily that No Heart would win, but rather than everyone she cared about died. And one she knew that, No Heart snapped their fingers and wound them back through time. They pointed the blade at Kaida and said, "Do you have the strength to face it? The loss of everyone? Being helpless to do anything about it?"
"Stop it." Kaida gritted her teeth and said, "They jumped in to save me. Jumped in to avenge their fallen teammates. It's a possibility. But it's not likely. If that comes I can work through it."
Kaida's eyes flashed with worry as they lowered their blade and said, "You're masking that pain but the loss of your friends is deeply important to you. Those connections can prove a great strength and also a great weakness. I know that feeling all too well. You despair at the thought, and would fall to it in the moment."
No Heart snapped their fingers as the scene seemed to play out a similar way again. Though who died in what order, and how exactly they were killed changed. They kept taking Kaida through different variations of the same tragedy. Her tears eventually stopping not because she was no longer sad, but because she couldn't physically cry anymore.
She'd rather be drowning one million times again.
"So what?" Kaida finally barked out when No Heart rewound time again and Kaida gritted her teeth and said, "I understand that this loss can happen. I do not want it to happen. But I accept that it can. If you're expecting me to not feel pain, to go into this and stop caring about them, you're a fool." Kaida broke out of her stun and fell forward and said, "I am afraid of that future. But I'm not afraid to face it."
There was a bit of a laugh that came from them and said, "You choose to embrace the fear instead of letting it go? Interesting choice. But not a wrong one." the armor began to break apart as the illusion warped itself back into the reflection Kaida had faced before. It walked closer until it grabbed Kaida's shoulder and said, "You are strong. I would hate to see that strength break. And once it does, well, time will consume you before you realize it. Loathe not the past. Cling not to the present. Fear not the future."
The reflection melded into Kaida and she took a moment to look back up at the top of the ocean. It was beautiful down here. It was a bit of a shame she couldn't enjoy it for longer.
The reflection lowered it's hand to point at Kaida and said, "You must overcome your fear of the future."
The blonde stood there a moment to process before laughing and saying, "Really? It's not like I have anxiety or anything. I'm not afraid of the future." but the reflection smirked for a moment before it fell and looked at her in full seriousness, "No. You do. You don't necessarily fear the way you think you do. You fear what could happen. The possibilities placed in front of you. Time tends to help you learn. You grew to stop fearing the past, you've conquered the fear of the present. But futures... no. You'd stick to the present to avoid futures you aren't ready to face."
Kaida crossed her arms and said, "You're wrong. I'm ready for any future. And I'll prove it."
The reflection took a step forward and seemed to grow taller as it did so. Kaida looked up at it, dropping her arms to prepare herself for whatever was happening. The bubble around them seemed to distort into unfamiliar landscapes. The reflection suddenly flashed in a bright light and Kaida covered her eyes before heard the sound of something getting summoned. She brought out her own keyblade and held it up just in time to block. When she looked up at the attacker, her eyes followed the weapon to her attacker covered in a white armor. As soon as she recognized the figure, she was pushed back several feet and fell to the ground.
No Heart walked a couple steps forward as Kaida quickly stood up to gain her footing as she said, "Really? No Heart? You think I'm scared about facing them?"
No Heart raised a hand up and suddenly Kaida herself become frozen in time. An all too familiar feeling that was no longer welcome as a distorted voice said, "Not quite." as the heavily armored figure walked closer they raised their blade up to attack the defenseless Kaida again before she was saved again by another timed block.
This one was by a familiar, red haired figure.
"Let her go! Your fight is with me!" Aux shouted, blasting No Heart with darkness. The armored figure seemed to stand there and take a couple of Aux's attacks before suddenly thrusting their keyblade forward and stabbing him right through the chest.
Kaida struggled to do anything. Use her keyblade. Cast a spell. Run away. Scream. There was nothing she could do as No Heart summoned away their keyblade and Aux collapsed to the ground. As Aux began to fade away, No Heart walked closer to Kaida and spoke, "You're afraid of everyone losing."
She wanted to object, as she stared over at Aux unable to call out to him. Not able to even cry. Just stuck in frozen horror as No Heart resummoned their keyblade. As they held their blade up again, they were suddenly attacked by a silver-haired man. They were unleashing fast attacks with their blade to try and keep No Heart off guard. Kaida started desperately trying to break out, trying to yell for Beuce to get out of there. As Beuce finally got several attacks through, he seemed to smirk a little bit in confidence as he went in for a large attack. It hit No Heart, or seemed to, before after effects appeared first and No Heart popped up behind him and grabbed his head and all Kaida could hear was a large, swift cracking noise
As he fell, a black haired girl ran in yelling not even using her keyblade at first with tears in her eyes, just her fists as she screamed, "You bastard!" and she immediately got thrown down to the ground as Kel and Luna ran in to help attack and No Heart began to charge up a large magic attack
The process of diving down after the boy first started as automatic before she learned that she had to embrace the idea of adaptation. She wasn't going to get different results repeating the same thing over and over again anyway, so she began to test how long her stops could last for and how much longer that gave her air. For each repeat, she grew better at timing when to stop. Sometimes she stopped for longer than she would have expected. It began with instinctual stops before the girl began to plan ahead. She knew she'd die this round, but in the next round she would know to stop before she hit the water so she could breathe a larger breath. Kaida would drown if she waited until she was close to stop, so she had to keep consistently going when they were at the same distance. At least until her timing got so good she was definitely getting a great deal closer.
Kaida noticed that as this went, she was getting closer to the ocean floor. And what was perhaps 10 or 20 attempts later, she reached the point where the blue haired boy touched the ocean floor at quite a distance from her and held a hand up to her as if to take. But gasping out resulted in her drowning right then.
Her pattern of stopping and swimming grew perfect as she dove down. A final stop allowing her to give her all to reaching them. As she reached out she finally grabbed their hand and went to pull up, but the figure used their strength to pull her down until she hit to ocean floor heavily. Like water was no longer keeping her afloat and gravity pulled her down as if she was in air. And she could breathe too. Was it an air bubble? It didn't seem so. Her clothes floated. But the ocean seemed still, like when she stopped time. So it must have stopped. But she didn't do it.
As she sat up she looked up towards the blue haired figure, it was dark down on the ocean floor with the exception of light coming from some of the underwater fauna. She tried to focus her eyes in as she stood up and walked closer, "A... are you...?"
But when she was within a foot of them, the figure began to distort, making her stand a little guarded as the hair turned from blue to blonde and the clothes began to change. The height got a little smaller to match her's. Their eyes were closed, but when they opened to look at her, a smirk appeared on their face, "You made it."
Kaida looked at the reflection of herself a bit confused, looked up towards the top of the ocean looking frustrated, before finally looking back at her reflection in disappointment, "Really?"
The reflection snickered and said, "I'm not quite sure why you have that look on your face. You followed me all the way here. Granted, that took infinitely longer than I would have liked. But it was enlightening in a way. Who knew someone could die from drowning in so many variations. But you're here, and now I've got a task for you."
"Task...?" Kaida had been so focused so long on trying to save the drowning boy that she had completely forgotten as a realization hit her eyes, "Right... my task was-"
"-At the bottom of the ocean."
"So the sinking body-"
"-was bait. I mean I couldn't get you to swim otherwise."
Kaida looked confused as she said, "But the blue hair... it was... familiar."
"I don't know anything about blue hair. I took the form of something your mind desperately wanted to keep a latch on. An insecurity." The reflection chose to elaborate.
"You didn't chose Aux or Seiza?"
"I could have. But I didn't want that specific emotional drive. I wanted the curious you, not the panicked you... so..." the reflection raised their hand and smirked, "...your task!"
Drowning. Chasing. Drowning. Chasing. How many times had this cycle repeated itself at this point? Her body was just as energetic and alive, refreshed each time. But her mind grew exhausted. How many times had she felt the sharp pain of drowning? Her mind had begun with each consecutive dive to teach her better techniques for swimming. Remembering how others swam and eventually getting it down. She'd managed to learn how to swim and dive in this loop. But she couldn't reach the body who was drowning. That wasn't the initial task, she knew that, but she needed to reach them. If they were passed out they wouldn't be able to do anything to save themselves. But she couldn't reach them, the further and faster she swam the deeper they sank. Like a fish being lured. But it worked and she knew it.
She had started counting and had reached about 127 before she lost track. And that must have been a long time ago. Or no time at all. But the loop kept her from turning around. She tried. Her brain knew this was happening but she couldn't stop the instinct to jump in. She wanted out of the loop. And that meant getting to this boy. Or getting to the bottom of the ocean. Whichever one came first. She could grab the boy, bring him up, and go back down. At this rate she knew how to swim, so starting over would be a piece of cake. But she still couldn't see the bottom of the ocean from here. As she dove in again, she watched him sinking even faster and it was infuriating. She just needed to get him, that was all. She just wanted to stop this nonsense and stop him from sinking so quickly. She needed to stop drowning. This loop needed to stop. Everything needed to stop.
Kaida moved for quite a bit of time not feeling any loss of breath. Watching as the water seemed to move still and the boy actually seemed to not be moving rather than him sinking further. She dove further just in reach of his hand before the water began to move once more and the body sank ever further. Kaida was in a bit of shock that it worked but not before she felt herself gasping for air.
And she was on the beach running once more. Diving in after the boy as he sank deeper. And she teached out and willed time to stop. She dove further just about to reach the boy before time began once more and she tried again. She felt herself not losing air as quickly this way, and getting closer each time. But he sunk so quickly she'd still have to speed up. But as time began she gasped out for air and felt her lungs fill once more.
Drowning. Chasing. Diving. Stop. Diving. Stop. Drowning. Chasing. Diving. Stop. Diving. Stop. Diving. Stop. Drowning...
At the bottom of the ocean.
Her task didn't quite sink in until she was standing on the beach. She was going to have to swim? Well that was just wonderful. The task on it's own would have been monumental enough if Kaida were not forced to overcome some of her fears. Was it a fear? Falling in the ocean and not being able to swim seemed like a reasonable thing but it wasn't like she was afraid of the ocean itself. She remembered the Symphony of Sorcery when she became a fish and swam around to the music. She was not afraid then.
Kaida walked to the shoreline nervously and stared at it for a long while before walking further in. When the water level was at her knees, she waited a moment before she felt that ping of nervousness come back and she turned around to take a deep breath before she heard a voice calling out. She couldn't figure out what it may have been saying, only that there was a shout coming from the ocean. When the girl turned back to look for the source she saw someone standing at a distance in just the right spot where the light of the sun obscured their face. But she recognized features. Blue hair, a little taller than her, a black and green shirt. He had a hand reaching out towards her and Kaida strained to see but felt herself begin running towards them. Why? Who was this? Why was this the urge.
But the more she ran at them the deeper the ocean became and the further away they seemed. She ran until she felt a sudden drop off in the water and let out a yelp before plummeting in deep into the water. She sank quickly, not knowing what to do with herself with no knowledge of swimming. She wasn't even trying to float back. She couldn't find the person anywhere and her surprise at the drop off made it so she was running out of air quickly. Kaida looked to the bottom of the ocean, or tried to but only saw the black abyss that seemed never ending. She let herself sink further as she tried to hold her breath longer. The sharp pain from holding breath too long overtook her first, then she panicked and flailed her arms to try and push herself up to the surface. It worked a little, managing to get her arms moving in a way that brought her closer to the surface. But it was not enough. Kaida couldn't hold her breath anymore and felt herself gasp out as the water began to fill her lungs. There was no real use in squirming or trying to cough the water out, but the blond attempted anyway. It only resulted in more water sucking itself in. The drowning itself did not last much longer before things began to grow dark.
Then the light suddenly flashed bright again, and Kaida found herself standing knee deep in the water looking towards the blue haired figure again in the sunlight. Her body ran towards the water first before her brain processed things seemed to go back in time. Kaida stopped herself just before the deep drop off. She just drowned, didn't she? Well, clearly not. But she knew enough to not run an inch too far. The blond knocked herself on the head and had to remind herself a million times that this was a dream. Of course things looping wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. But that drowning pain was so real. And where was the blue haired kid? She didn't see them on the horizon anymore. She looked down and saw them sinking. Their face obscured, but it looked as though they were drowning.
Why the girl who couldn't swim felt the logical solution was to jump into the deep water to save them was beyond her. But she had held her breath and was swimming towards them anyway. She wasn't making it very far, single she wasn't using any proper swimming technique. But she kept going further and further trying to chase after them. She held her breath for quite a long time trying to make chase before that familiar feeling of drowning came back. She tried desperately to keep it held as she tried to keep telling herself this was a dream. But that didn't stop her from gasping out and feeling the water rush into her lungs once more. Her vision grew dark before it grew brighter.
Kaida felt herself standing knee deep in the water and making chase at the blue haired kid again before she managed to stop herself at the edge of the deep end again. This was a loop wasn't it? It always started right as she charged in and felt determination to reach the boy. She looked across to find them and they were gone, and in the water she saw them drowning again. And her instinct told her to jump in and save him. It kept her from giving herself much time to think about getting into the water and only gave Kaida just enough time to reprocess this was the beginning again. She dove into the water and swam further with a little more practice but she still didn't reach the boy before drowning again.
It was going to be interesting to be taught by Yen Sid. She at first was excites by the idea before they put her in Eraqus' group. But now she was back with Yen Sid again. So it worked out! Which was good. She figured learning Time from the best person who could teach it to her was great. But Kaida was focused on the gummi phone with a fixation. She had avoided gummi phones in the past, it was a technology just a bit too advances for her to get. But she spent the night focused on it and at rhis rate had the face of a high school girl completely absorbed into conversation. But she wasn't. She was playing Classic Kingdom.
Kaida was zoned in near completely when she barely heard an apology and just let out a "mhmm" with no visible interest in the outside world. It wasn't until she heard Yen Sid clear his throat and look right at her that she looked at him and quietly closed out the game and put the phone back in her pocket silently while maintaining eye contact.
Kaida was a bit surprised to hear that, but that surprise quickly changed as she said, "Well, I'm glad to hear you're happy! I hope it sticks that way as long as it can." Kaida didn't really have much more to talk about but didn't have any real place to go. So she just kind of wandered to another seat on the ship and pulled out a block of wood and started whittling.
"I suppose you're right... I've had a lot of doubt in my mind. Thinking maybe you guys didn't wanna say anything to avoid needless in-fighting. But you guys never really stopped giving Aux a bad time for the obvious stuff he's done wrong. I just didn't want to think I wasn't reading the room right." Kaida took a deep breath and continued, "I think you said you thought your dad was behind it, but there had been so many people there working with him from my past it was frustrating." she paused a while realizing she'd been ranting a lot and said, "Sorry, you probably didn't need that venting. You've got a free 'vent to Kaida' card if you need it."
"Confusion mostly. But then I figured someone should stick around with them." Kaida replied motioning her head in the direction of the trio, "Then I realized I was sitting silently over here and you were hiding here just out of sight." she did a bit of a thinking face and said, "But I've kind of been doing the same as you..." she placed a hand under her chin and asked, "You guys didn't resent me for leaving before that huge heartless battle, did you? I-I know I shouldn't give too much thought to that trial but I have been anyway." she seemed unsure but it didn't seem like it was actually bothering her all that much. Maybe a bit, enough for her to ask about it.
"Ah, the out of it look I give when I've got everything on my mind and nothing on my mind at all." Kaida chimed in suddenly and almost out of nowhere as she leaned on the back of the chair Karina was sitting in. She tapped a bit on the back of the chair and said, "I have that happen so much lately that I genuinely feel like I've missed out on half the adventure. What with that kid waking up, running into the trio again." she said the second part softly as she looked over in the direction of Sora, Riku and Kairi and she said at a soft volume with the intent only for Karina to hear, "I don't feel comfortable talking to them just by the fact I know more about them than they know about themselves and I'm worried I might bring up something that hasn't happened yet. And I don't think I'm going to be more helpful than the crowd of people than Ven." she stopped leaning on the back of the chair and walked around to look at Karina better and said, "But are you thinking about everything or nothing at all?"