Kaida shifted a bit to look at Karina's phone and turned her own towards her. She waved at each of the others as they joined the table as she said to Karina, "So theres a little button at the bottom of the screen that looks like a board. Do you see that? If you click it." she clicked hers and there were a couple of different chats started. The top one was the message she sent to everyone with the group titled "SOS". There was another right under it titled Aux that had a message unread from Kaida saying "Hey are you okay?". The third seemed to be Beuce and Kaida sending these odd AI generated pictures of Moogles to each other. Kaida clicked on the top one and it showed all of the messages that had been sent in the group chat and she asked, "Does that help?"
She looked over at Faust at the joke he made and she let out a bit of a groan, but with a smile showing she probably actually liked the joke. She thought about his question and said, "I've been... okay. I haven't been getting much sleep but I feel like the training has been going well." Kaida looked off to the side thinking if she wanted to add the fact she was worried and missing Aux but she decided against it and said, "What about you? Up to anything exciting?"
Kaida blushed a bit at Karina's compliment, not necessarily expecting it to be the first thing brought up, but she was happy nonetheless. Though, she wasn't sure why she was surprised that was the case, of course the outfit would be the first thing of note. She smiled and said, "Thank you." and she reached a bit into the pockets of the jacket and whispered but not quietly, "It has pockets~" she looked over towards Beuce almost as if he couldn't have made that observation already before speaking, "We were about to grab something to eat if you wanna come along."
As they began heading to a place to eat, Kaida pulled out her phone and invited, without asking the other two, everyone else if they wanted to come along for a bite to eat. It was in a group chat so it wasn't like Beuce and Karina couldn't have caught on just by checking. They made their way over to an outdoor eating courtyard, with a bunch of restaurants nearby for people to pick their poison. It was mostly empty but a couple of civilians were nearby chowing down on either breakfast or lunch. Since it was a good time to choose either if someone wanted.
Kaida made her way back to the table with a cheeseburger and a salad too unhealthy to probably have the nutritional value it promised. When the other two were there she properly started eating the salad. She tried to think of some sort of topic starter, but her brain wasn't coming up with much before her mouth slipped out, "You guys like... rain?" she sat there like her own question threw her off as she went nearly cross-eyed and said, "I mean... like... how do you guys feel about... lousy weather?" the recovery didn't work to her own wishes so she shook her head and said, "Uh, nevermind... I just wanted to talk about something other than training... and I literally defaulted to 'wonderful weather we're having'."
Kaida would rather not have dreams at all with the state they were in. Every night it was another dream of her drowning. Or her brain crafted brand new ways for her to die. And each time she woke up with a start having barely slept a few hours. Through the course of the two weeks it felt like she got less and less sleep when she desperately needed rest. To the point where there was one day she simply couldn't sleep at all. Instead of wasting the night trying to close her eyes to force herself to sleep, she got herself up and started walking around town.
Walking alone in Central Haven was nothing new to her, but it was the first time in a long time it had happened. The blonde passed by each locale and it brought back some memories. Of people who were long gone, or Aux who might as well have been with his recent disappearance. She went into the academy, and it felt odd with it being so empty. Even if it was late at night, it used to always have someone hiding on campus at all hours. But not now, as she walked through one of the courtyards she paused to recall old memories willingly this time.
Spoiler: memory 1
Kaida had getting a little confident with the keyblade. Considering how recently she had gotten it and how she was already outmatching opponents that have been learning for years, it started gearing more towards overconfident.
It was after one class as she was chatting with another classmate, that someone knocked into her. As she looked over to see who it was, there was a tall lurking figure walking away from her without a care over what just happened. The girl puffed up and said, "Hey, you!" She walked closer and the classmate tried to pull her back but she was already gone as she said, "You just knocked into me pretty hard. Aren't you gonna apologize?"
Spoiler: memory 1
The lurking figure continued to walk away and when she realized he wasn't stopping, the blonde picked up speed to run in front of him and stopped a few feet in front to say, "What, are you deaf or are you ignoring me?"
The figure finally stopped to turn around, he looked left and right without seemingly finding what they were looking for. Kaida couldn't tell if he was being serious or if this was an elaborate short joke. She crossed her arms and said, "Behind you. Look lower." and they turned around, looking down at a forty five degree angle to see the huffed up blonde person before them. "You're very small."
"No you're just tall." Kaida huffed before saying, "So are you gonna apologize?"
"I don't apologize to weak people," he replied bluntly before turning around again.
There were a thousand better ways to handle this situation. But instead of being sane about it, Kaida immediately ran at him. Her intention being to trip him, as a means of showing what him walking into her felt like. But she knew shoving him would probably amount to nothing. So she tried tripping his legs while he was mid-step. They stumbled as he quickly caught himself. "Weak. And stupid...." they picked himself up and walked towards her, preparing to crack his knuckles. They then seemed to stop themselves and stare a moment as a classmate yelled, "Kaida, fighting Aux is a bit above your pay grade."
"It has a name?" Aux asked looking over at the classmate curiously. It was the 'it has a name' that made her snap. She summoned out her keyblade which immediately resulted in classmates telling her to stop as she swung at Aux. Aux caught the blade with his armored glove. "What are you doing?" he asked confused.
"Stop playing dumb!" Kaida growled as she said, "You've done nothing but make me feel sub-human this whole time and I'm done ." This time she pulled back and cast thunder on him. A jolt went through his body as Aux shook his head. "Ow."
"Guys stop fighting!" A voice called out.
"I'M NOT EVEN DOING ANYTHING" he barked at him. "Well then... Kaida; stop fighting!"
Kaida let out a small "ah" as she lowered her keyblade and said, "I guess that's my bad then. I thought I was facing someone stronger than me who had the confidence to back it up but I misunderstood." She let her keyblade disappear as she turned her back away from the two and said, "I guess you were the weak one, Aux ." She said with almost a disgust to it.
Aux walked up to her until he made sure to tower over her. He gritted his fists as if he was about to strike her. He stopped tensing up and relaxed, letting out a small chuckle. "Heh.. well at least you're funny."
Kaida wasn't very amused as she looked back at him and spoke sarcastically, "Happy to amuse you." As she walked away .
Kaida almost found it odd how they even turned it around after that. She remembered walking away and thinking to herself about how it was possible he was that way because he didn't have many friends. And when she asked Seiza about him she learned he lost his memories. It was almost uncharacteristic of her how she reached out to him after that.
She walked her way off campus and out towards the night side of the world. She looked amongst the shops and locales, dark for it being either abandoned or the middle of the night. She stopped to take a detour to walk into the hospital nearby. There were some people still here at least. Not everyone was able to evacuate when they were ordered, and she was glad to see No Heart seemed to leave them to their devices. Who knew if that would have stayed that way if they got there any later. She looked into a waiting room and saw a child playing alone with their mother looking exhausted in the chair. She had no idea why that reminded her of her time in that room.
Spoiler: Memory 2
Kaida had become almost a regular in that waiting room, there every day distracted and constantly staring out the window. Whenever a nurse walked by she ran over to ask if there were any updates on Seiza and usually got a head shake. She was allowed to be in the room with Seiza, but not during surgeries. And he had quite a few their first months there.
She was too afraid to explore this world on her own, staring at the distant sky where it was bright. Almost too bright for her to comprehend, and one of those days she was staring out the window a figure walked over to her and sat down next to her and spoke,
Spoiler: Memory 2
"You're Kaida, right?"
The girl turned to see a man with brown hair, a slight spike to it but nothing completely out of the norm for what she saw down here. She turned her head away and said, "I don't talk to strangers."
The man smirked a bit and held his hand out for a handshake and said, "Well then, my name's Sora."
Kaida looked at his hand and shook it and said, "Kaida."
They kept shaking hands as he said, "And now we're not strangers."
"I don't think that's how that works."
"It can work like that if you want it to. I've made plenty of friends quickly."
The two were still shaking hands as Kaida tilted her head and said, "How exactly can you make friends that quickly? Sounds like low standards."
"Kaida, I would very much like to be your friend."
"And what's in it for me?"
Kaida stopped shaking his hand to start laughing at how odd the exchange was as he spoke up, "I saw how you got to this world. It's incredible isn't it? The power of the heart when it wants to protect those they care about?"
The blonde shrugged and looked away, "I don't remember much about that night."
"That's okay. I remember it for you. How you both fell from the sky emitting a bright light. We had no idea what it could be until we saw you protecting Seiza as the light vanished. I'm glad you were both able to make it to this world alright."
Kaida tensed up a little as she said, "Seiza didn't make it alright though."
"But he made it to us where we can help him. That's nothing small." Sora attempted to reassure placing a hand on her shoulder. Kaida was a bit surprised but didn't push him away as he said, "You have a strong heart. I can tell. I don't think there's anything you can't do if you set your mind to it." he then stood up and said, "But it was awesome to meet you, Kaida. If you ever need anything from me, please ask."
"But how am I supposed to find you? This place is huge."
Sora chuckled and said, "I think if you asked around you'd find me pretty quickly."
Kaida kept her wandering as it started to reach fairly early hours. Lights were starting to turn on for those super early risers, but it was still pretty dark on the night side. Right at the line between the night and day sides stood a tall building, not the tallest in town but still a pretty nice view. She smiled as she looked up at it and felt an almost melancholy overwhelm her.
Spoiler: memory 3
Kaida walked onto the vista, knowing that Aux sat alone there as she stared at the view and said aloud, "I don't think I've been out here before." She admitted and she walked a bit closer to sit down, "You can see both the night and day sides clearly..."
Spoiler: memory 3
Aux spun around. "Great... it's you..." he turned a bit and sighed, sighed. "Stay if you want. Not my place to tell you to leave."
Kaida shifted uncomfortably and seemed to look ready to already bounce out of there, but eventually sat down and held out an ice cream towards Aux, "I got some ice cream... want some?"
Aux turned to her and remained oblivious, "What's... ice... cream?"
Kaida continued holding it out as her attempt at a smile faded to an unsure look, "I... actually don't know what ice cream is either. But someone said it was filled with sweetness, goodness, and endorphins."
Aux stared longer at it before taking a cone and looked a moment before saying, "You eat it first."
Kaida looked at it and didn't see any problems with it. She went in and straight up just took a large bit out of the scoop and sat there a moment before saying, "It's really cold. But pretty tasty."
Aux lifted his helmet to take a bite. "That is... cold. And sweet."
Kaida raised an eyebrow and asked, "Why not take the helmet off?"
"It stays on... I'm tired of looking at myself. Tired of seeing a stranger in the mirror."
Kaida shrugged a bit and said, "I think you're looking at it wrong then. You gotta look at it and think- that's me."
Aux removed his helmet ever so slightly reveling his red hair covered by a black cap and kept eating his ice cream. Kaida looked at him and said without thinking, "You do not look at all like I was expecting." She then paused as her brain processed it and looked away, "Actually I don't know what I was expecting, pay me no mind."
"You make it... difficult not to." he said, continuing to eat his ice cream. There was a bit of silence before he broke it, "You're the new member of the order right? The one everyone says didn't deserve it?"
Kaida raised an eyebrow and said, "Is that what everyone is saying about me?" She paused a second before saying, "But yeah, that's me." She took another bite of ice cream before saying, "I don't blame people for being mad about it though... I've only had the keyblade for 6 months." She rolled her eyes and said, "Probably wasn't taught well either. Master Sora prefers an indirect approach to teaching. He calls it 'learn on the job'."
"Yeah well, don't let it get to you. everyone's an idiot anyways. Like having a keyblade longer makes you better then everyone." Kaida was surprised by Aux's words of encouragement and said, "Thank you." She thought for a moment and said, "You have a keyblade too, right?" She looked at him a bit and said, "And if I were to guess, you're in the guardian class?"
Aux summoned his large keyblade. "I don't care to use it much, but yeah." he dispersed it immediately.
"Well considering how you handled me earlier... I don't think you really need one." Kaida took a deep breath and said, "Sorry, by the way. I took a lot out on you that wasn't really your fault." She ate more of the ice cream, trying to bite into the cone a bit before she added, "Let's just say I get a lot of seniors taking the Order position out on me... Mm." Kaida looked at the cone and looked back at him, "I think my favorite part is this thing." Pointing at the cone.
"You can eat the handle?" Aux asked before taking a bite. "Huh," he muffled while he chewed.
There was a long pause in the conversation as Kaida suddenly spoke up, "If it helps, I'm technically supposed to be at an Order meeting right now." Kaida looked embarrassed and said, "But the school has a zero tolerance policy on keyblades outside of training and sparring matches and someone snitched on our "fight"... So I'm suspended. For a day."
"And I'm just tired of beating up people," Aux shrugged. Kaida looked over at him and asked, "Do you do that often?"
"When I'm told so for training. Don't really know what else their is to do here."
Kaida thought for a moment before asking, "Have you ever been to the Second District on the night side? There's some really cool shops over there."
"I never cared much for shopping," Aux replied
"I mean, you don't have to shop. You could also just look around and find cool new things." Kaida thought for a moment before pulling out a block of wood and a knife as she started casually whittling, "I've been trying to find one new item every time I go on a trip."
"What're you making?" Aux asked.
Kaida shrugged and said, "I don't know yet. But my mind imagined the sun. Maybe I'll do that."
"Aren't you terrified of the sun?" Aux leaned back and laid down. "And what do you do with all the stuff you carve?"
Kaida looked embarrassed and whispered back, "Not as bad as I was... I'm working on it." then she spoke up louder, "I like to give them as gifts, usually. But ones like this I usually keep and paint."
"You think all worlds use the same sun?" Aux asked almost cheerily before going back to his formal tone. "Well that's easy. Of course they do. Yeah... wait. No. Wait..."
Kaida looked over and said, "Well of course they don't. My world didn't even have a sun."
"What about the moon?"
"Well, don't some worlds have multiple moons?" Kaida asked curiously.
"Well at least they all share the same sky," Aux added.
Kaida thought about it before looking at Aux, "Where does the sky end and space begin?"
"Who knows, that's like asking where the ocean ends..." He paused and continued, "Long as everyone stays connected somehow, I don't think it really matters,"
Kaida let out a small giggle and said, "That's way more sappy than I was expecting from you two."
"Since when is stating the obvious sentimental?"
Kaida crossed her legs to sit more comfortably as she said softly to herself, "I could work with this."
"Wish days could always be like this. No responsibilities or keyblade business," Aux turned to her and asked, "Well what would you two be doing if you weren't becoming a better defender?"
Kaida shrugged and said, "Simple. Traveling to many worlds just to see them."
"Wonder what else is out there..." Aux wondered aloud.
"Well, if they're as cool as this world. I'm sure there's a lot to see. And I hope I can see as many as I can." Kaida replied looking up at the sky fully with a smile.
Aux peered directly upwards, unsure of what was out there
The second district. A tired Kaida wondered if it anything would be open now that it was late enough for shops to being opening. Kaida walked past many shops with lit up signs decorating the plaza and as she walked by the clothing store she noticed the lights were on and people were at work. She looked at her outfit wondering if there was anything new she could get. And the longer she stared at the yellow, the more she felt the desire to let it go.
The yellow reminded her of home. It reminded her of Seiza, and she felt a tear escape without meaning for it to. She sniffled and wiped her face as one of the women in the shop walked out and smiled, "Kaida! It's been so long. I am glad to see you well." she did notice the tears and asked, "Relatively, is everything alright dear?"
Kaida reached up to pull her hair out of her own face a bit to calm down and said, "I'm okay. I was thinking of getting a new outfit."
"Well we have plenty of yellow cloth ready to-"
"No... I think I need something completely new."
The woman grinned a bit in surprise and took her hand and lead her in, "Come on in dear, we'll get you in something looking wonderful~"
A few hours passed and the woman helped place the final piece, a jacket on her and said, "Oh it looks just lovely. All it needs is a few accessories. Did you have any in mind?"
Kaida looked at herself in the mirror and smiled, "I think I have an idea..." she reached into her bag and pulled out Aux's lion charm she was still holding onto. It was burnt, but she didn't care. And she reached into her bag to grab out her bird charm and noticed the wings had broken off and she looked worried and said, "When did I break those wings?" as she shifted through the bag to look for the broken wing pieces, she found a wolf snapped in half. She didn't remember how she got it, but she felt as strong a desire to have it around her neck as the other two pieces. She placed the wolf down as the woman's daughters tried to help fashion them into necklaces. While that happened the woman braided Kaida's hair and said, "I have to say, all of that yellow made you look a lot younger. But this outfit definitely screams 'I'm an adult'."
"I'm only 17 though."
"That's grown up enough." she smiled as she gave Kaida a pat on the shoulder, "And since I've known you, you've absolutely grown up. I'm proud of you."
Kaida smiled back as the woman took the necklaces and placed them around her neck and and said, "And we're done." Kaida looked at the outfit and smiled and said, "Thank you so much."
Spoiler: Kaida's new outfit
She took a long way back, getting used to how the jacket flowed. She really liked it, and she appreciated the small detail the seamstress made it in keeping a little bit of yellow in the outfit. Kaida finally made her way back to the dorms everyone was staying, and as she approached she notice Beuce had left his room and she waved him down and walked over to him and said, "I know it may seem like I do this a lot but I got a new outfit. I went for something a little out there for me.." She shifted around to pose in it a little bit to show it off before asking, "What do you think?"
Beuce had been going to grab something to eat or drink, the marks under his eyes showing his lack of rest. He rubbed the bridge of his nose shortly before Kaida alerted him to her presence. He gave the outfit a look up and down. "Damn, lookin' pretty slick there. Man, you're making all kinds of progress. First you become a master, then you discover that there are colors that aren't yellow. I'm proud of you." He said jokingly. "No, but actually though that's pretty cool. Where'd you get it?"
Kaida looked a bit embarrassed and defended, "Well when you're used to only wearing yellow it gets hard to break out. It's not that much different than someone who only wears black... It's just more noticeable."
She knew he was just messing with her but she still defended anyway. When he asked she said, "There's shops in the Second District still open. As much as a full evacuation was wanted, its impossible for some people to really make that happen. Theres a lady and her daughters who make clothes there. And they've always been really nice quality."
Beuce gave a chuckle at her embarrassment "Well, considering my wardrobe consist of a whole two colors, I'm not much better." He said looking down at his bicolored outfit. "Maybe I should make a stop by there before we end up setting out." Beuce let out a sigh. "You wanna come with me to grab something to eat? I'm gonna drop dead if I don't eat soon."
"Sure. I haven't eaten anything since... lunch yesterday?" She said it like it was a question before nodding to confirm it after a moment of thought, "What time is it anyway?"
"Yeah, same. I've been doing research to see if there's anything else that can give us an edge. Oh and it's uh..." He looked down at his bare wrist. "Time for me to get a watch. Probably sometime before noon I think. Probably." Beuce's stomach growled and alerted that, above all else, it was time to eat.
Personally I'm all for a CWLS if they let us make ones that are across multiple data centers. The release of the data center travel is going to be restricted a while to same continent stuff. So like, all NA together, all EU together, all JP together, and all OCE together (is that how you abbreviate Oceania? iunno).
If there's even a molecule of interest on trying to figure out if there's enough to make one, I know me and a couple others are on Crystal. It's just that most people on NA side are either in Aether or Primal.
I only logged in just to say this has been a mind blowing experience for me.
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.