“You really think they can handle this?” asked a voice.
“Yes.” said the second. “The boy seems to be exceptionally talented, and he is Kaizer's son.”
The second speaker moved into the light a bit more. He was a tall, thin man in a long black cloak, the hood pulled up over his face to make him resemble a faceless raven, though he hardly needed the hood up to do so. His hair was pitch black and his face even somewhat raveny. A furry brown tail peeked from beneath his cloak; the man was a Saiyan.
The first speaker was smaller and brown-haired, a young man, and Saiyan as well. He was scrutinizing a boy on a television screen before the pair of them.
“Even if we send him to find out what’s going on, what are we to do about partnering? The boy seems to be fairly independent, and though I feel he would be partnered easily, his partners need to be picked with discretion, correct?” the smaller man asked.
“I think I have just the individuals.” the raven-haired man said, reaching into a desk drawer and pulling out two files, opening them on the flat surface of the monitoring system.
“Barku Lonestarr? Are you nuts?” the younger man cried out. Then, thinking what he did as being disrespectful, he quickly went quiet and turned a bit red.
“He’ll be perfect with the boy. They’re both about as wild and unruly as Saiyans could get.”
“And...who’s this?” the young man asked, picking up a file. He read the name across the front.
“Cookie Reinhardt? How have I never heard of him?”
“Compared to names like Barku Lonestarr or our dear little Brayden Barrenstadt here, he’s quite obscure. Doesn’t cause a lot of trouble, gets along with everyone, in fact.” said the raven-looking man.
“And that’s why he’s in?”
“Exactly. He will have no problem in a three-man team dynamic.” said the raveny man.
“So how do we introduce them? And when?”
“They will meet on the ship, of course. We have no time to arrange a meeting before they are grouped together and depart.”
“You really think-”
“I don’t think, I know.”
And this was how Brayden Barrenstadt found himself in a ship with two complete strangers. Brayden was the shortest of the lot, with black hair and brown eyes. He had a fairly small yet strong build, with powerful arm muscles. His eyes had the analyzing sort of quality to them, and a look that implied extreme intelligence. He looked his teammates over.
Barku was noticeably bigger than Brayden was, and more powerfully built. Barku had a wild shock of hair, and had some intimidating-looking scars visible. At that moment, their eyes met, and Barku gave Brayden a grin. Brayden returned it with a smile of his own.
His other partner was Cookie Reinhardt, who wasn’t as muscular as they were, but still taller than Brayden. Cookie smiled at the both of them cheerfully, and it was an infectious smile.
Suddenly, the ship lurched.
“What the hell?” Barku asked as they were propelled forward, then rammed back into their seats from the force. He rubbed the back of his head angrily, and Brayden winced as the back of his own head had received a rather nasty knock.
“What’s going on?” Cookie asked alertly.
At that moment, the ship suddenly began to hurtle forward. Brayden, unable to help himself, shouted, and wasn’t so embarrassed when he realized he wasn’t the only one screaming his head off. He saw Barku reach forward and tug on a lever, and their ship corkscrewed mid-flight. Brayden felt a sickening lurch as the ship turned upside down and his harness kept him hanging barely in his seat, dangling above the now-upside down roof in a most uncomfortable way. The force and speed of the traveling made it hard to bring his arms up, and he watched Barku force his arms to the lever to give it another tug, and they were right-side up and slammed into their seats again. By this point, they had all screamed themselves hoarse and could no longer scream, so they were forced to take in deep, rapid breaths.
The ship then quite suddenly put on a burst of speed, and suddenly there was impact. The impact was shocking, jarring, and the entire wall before them crunched inward horribly and they closed their eyes, expecting the worst. Blackness surrounded them, and Brayden was sure he was dead, but then...
“Ah, damn harness is too rough on my crotch.” Barku snarled. Brayden could tell by the discomfort in his own crotch that he was hanging upside down again. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and with the tiny ray of light visible, he could see the outline of Barku, tugging angrily at the harness. Suddenly, it released Barku, and the bigger boy quickly reacted and landed smoothly on his feet. He heard a crunching as Barku moved over to him
“Stay still, little man.” Barku said, and he could feel someone tug at his own harness. He was suddenly released, but Barku helped him down. The pair of them then helped a patient and barely smiling Cookie out of his own harness.
“How to get out of this wreck...” Barku muttered. Brayden followed the ray of light and saw a cracked window. Barku eagerly stepped forward, and taking a gummi block that had broken off of the ship, smashed the remaining bits of glass out of the window. He let the small Brayden through first, and Brayden helped his two companions out.
They had crashed in the midst of some field, though they could see lights in the distance.
“Leave it to us to crash out here.” Barku scowled.
“Hey, at least we can see a city!” Cookie remarked, cheerful. “That’s lucky enough, right?”
“Yeah. I’m sure someone there will be able to-” Brayden began, but a sudden blinding flash of light consumed them.
They opened their eyes. Everywhere around them was dark, and they now stood on an enormous, illuminated, stained-glass pillar. The image in it was of the three of them.
“Be strong.” a voice said. Brayden noticed Barku and Cookie looking around, as shocked as he was.
“Your hearts...they are bound in such a way that the three of you will never be able to remain parted from each other for long.” the voice said.
“Who are you?” Barku asked.
“I cannot say. But I know who you are.” the voice said. A light shone down upon Cookie, and a pentagonal shield appeared in his hands. It was mostly black, save for the trim and design emblazoned on the front, which were red.
“Cookie Reinhardt, you possess the power of the guardian. Kindness to aid friends. A shield to repel all.”
Next, a sword appeared in Barku’s hands. Barku seemed surprised, but somewhat awed by the sword. The sword was fairly simple in design, with a black symbol on the hilt that matched the logo on Cookie’s shield, and with a blue handle and golden pommel.
“Barku Lonestarr, you possess the power of the warrior. Invincible courage. A sword of terrible destruction.”
Brayden felt a sudden prickle in his hands, and a rod appeared in them. It was a green-handled rod, with tan ends. A wide brown disk opened up the head of the rod, which was identical to the symbol on the hilt of Barku’s sword and the face of Cookie’s shield.
“Brayden Barrenstadt, you possess the power of the mystic. Inner strength. A staff of wonder and ruin.”
Suddenly, a great shadow appeared before them, and rose out of the ground. A sudden wind came from nowhere, whipping their hair back. The shadow lunged at them.
“Fight it!” Barku shouted. He brought the sword down with a slash on the thing’s arm. Cookie danced out of the path of the thing’s fingers, hitting it with his shield. Brayden barely avoided being stepped on, and he ran out of its path, hitting it with the rod. He ran, and as the creature fell, they were being swallowed by the darkness...
He felt a sudden warmth in his hand, and the rod in his hand emitted a glow so bright that there was whiteness instead of the dark blackness in which they had been consumed. The warmth in his hands bolstered his confidence greatly, and when he could see again, he found that he was back in the field. Barku and Cookie lay, panting in the grass. He wiped the sweat off of his forehead and then he noticed something was in his hand.
It was a blade that highly resembled a classic skeleton key in design, about three and a half feet in length. The blade and teeth of the key were a resplendent silver. At one end was a blue rainguard, and the guard was a glimmering gold. The teeth of the key formed the outline of a crown, and on a long, thin chain attached to the blade was a small shape that highly resembled the design found on all of the weapons they had fought with not long ago.
Brayden tested the weight of the blade, and noticed it to be a bit heavier than he expected, but otherwise fairly wieldable. He heard Barku and Cookie gasp, and he noticed a beam of light come out of his Keyblade and split off in two directions, each pointing at Barku and Cookie.
In a bright, yellow-white shaft of light, a Keyblade appeared in Cookie’s hand. The handle resembled angel wings, the shaft looking like a pair of hearts. The teeth were in the shape of what appeared to be the kanji for “light”.
In Barku’s hand appeared a blade shaped like a demonic wing that was mainly blue, red, and purple. The handle was comprised of dark braids, with a single blue eye.
“What are these?” Barku asked.
“I...I don’t know.” Brayden stammered.
The boys entered the city, and then found themselves in a sparse, open place. The cobblestone was firm under their feet, and the tap of their shoes echoed throughout the open plaza. It was a pleasant, yet dismal sight. There was some air of misplacement about it. There were two circles of grass, a streetlight smack-dab in the middle of each. To their left was an open cafe, with round tables and chairs, a candle in the middle of each table. A blond-haired boy that looked older than Brayden glanced at them from the balcony over the cafe. Beside the cafe was a building with a lit-up sign that read “ITEM” in shining letters, just below a lit-up picture of a basket of food. Sharply to the the right was another large set of doors, and a strange sort of mailbox. In between these things lay a large cement set of stairs, with a small railing in between. The shop directly up the stairs appeared to be an accessories shop.
Brayden felt a prickling sort of pain on the nape of his neck, and the world around him began to blur and become somewhere else...
There was a man with long grey hair and tan skin, standing over something in a pile of blankets on a table nearby. There was something dark about the tall man, and his eyes were wide with excitement. In the blankets before him was a small-black haired baby, which Brayden identified as a boy. The baby boy had deep eyes, and a strange heart-like emblem on his torso.
“Brayden, mate, are you okay?” a voice asked. Brayden suddenly became aware that he had been lying on the ground, with his eyes open. Barku and Cookie stared down at him, concerned. Even Cookie’s face showed the faintest traces of consternation.
“Y-yeah. I’m okay.” he said, getting up, brushing himself off. “What happened?”
“I dunno mate, one moment you were fine, then you collapsed and well...” Barku murmured, struggling for lack of better words. “Well your eyes were open, but it’s like you couldn’t see us. And you were shaking, like you were...”
“Having a seizure or something.” Cookie chimed in when Barku faltered.
“I feel fine.” Brayden said, rubbing his forehead.
“What did you see?” Cookie asked him. Brayden looked around, and saw the older blond boy watching them from the balcony, a surprised expression on his face. Brayden gave his friends an apologetic look and they continued on, knowing it was not the right place.
“Where to?” Cookie asked.
“Maybe we need to ask someone.” Brayden suggested.
“And ask them what? Did they even say what our mission was?” Barku growled.
“Well we’re supposed to be investigating something about these mysterious black creatures, right?” Cookie asked.
“That’s what it said in the mission report.” Brayden replied.
They suddenly stopped when they saw the boy watching them over the cafe turn and run inside. A small girl peered at them from behind one of the upstairs curtains, but was pulled back. A man was approaching them from the cafe. He was tall and blond, with thick hair and muscles.
“What are you lot doing here?” the man from the cafe asked, a bit too brusquely, for Barku stood a bit taller and his hand balled in a fist at his side. Brayden put his hand on Barku’s arm, in an attempt to keep him calm.
“We’re visitors.” Cookie said, brightly, cheerfully.
“From where?” the man asked again, brusque as before. Brayden could feel Barku’s muscles tense from beneath his hand.
“None of your business, I reckon.” Barku said, in a low and almost threatening growl.
“As I live here with my family, I think it is.” the man harangued. Brayden’s hand on Barku’s arm was no longer just a touch, but a grasp. He wanted to avoid any fighting or getting off on bad terms with these people.
“Quentin, leave the boys alone.” cried a brown-haired woman from behind the man. She was thin and wore her hair in a bun. She had a friendly look on her face, and she approached them.
“Well what are they doing, lurking around, Lucille?” the man asked.
“Didn’t you hear what Vegito said about the prophecy?” the woman, Lucille, asked. The man suddenly looked apologetic.
“Oh, right. You think these guys are the ones?” he asked.
“Didn’t you see the poor small boy collapse?” Lucille asked, eyes welling up with her concern. Brayden usually objected when called short, but was too confused to remark on being called small.
“Well...I...” the man stammered.
“Go inside. Poor Johnathan and Raven are probably worried.” Lucille said. The man, humbled, walked back towards the cafe.
“The accessories building up there, go to it.” Lucille told them. “Speak to Vegito.”
The boys, a bit surprised, headed up the cement set of stairs and found themselves in front of the Accessories shop. Brayden turned and nodded to the other two before pushing the door open.
The room had a warm fire going. In one corner of the room was a small table, with two blue sofas on either side of it. A strange little creature with a pom-pom on its head sat on one of the sofas. The other end held a strong oak desk, behind which stood a young man.
The young man was muscular, with thick black hair and eyes that looked almost as black as his hair was. He had been polishing the surface of the table, but had presently stopped to look at his muscles. He looked up suddenly, abruptly, and he gasped when his gaze found the Keyblade in Brayden’s hand.
“Keyblade wielder?” the man asked, and his eyes widened. “Bless the stars, I've found him.”