And here we are! One year and over a hundred and fifty reviews later…
So here is the dealio! You will all pm me if you find this chapter to be a bit confusing. Listen carefully now. There will be italicized moments in the story, as to familiarize with "What Next?" Now, sometimes Saix will start us off, sometimes Xemnas, and who knows…someone else may. I'm also going to try to keep the pattern as before, going from first to third narrative. Please tell me if this is confusing to you and I will change it!
So, here is our introductory chapter. A bit short, but it'll help lead us to the story, as well as introduce new readers to what's going on.
They need no introduction
I can see mountain of ice fill my eyesight, the color of white almost becoming too much for me to bear. The winds were sharp and cold, hitting my skin with an unbelievable force. Even with my cloak on I feel its power, pushing me and forcing me in a particular direction, making my skin shiver and tighten in agony.
Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to have portaled to this world.
Using my claymore, I stand ground and make another attempt to look around.
It really was an amazing site, once one had the time to let in the real beauty behind the dangerous, new world. A still growing atmosphere made it so I could see the starry sky perfectly well, without any aid, witnessing even a few planets with color and shape. I could see the black of the night sky, of space, and how it seemed to engulf everything aside from the few colorful stars and worlds that inhabited this vast galaxy.
Even the darkness of space could not control everything…
Despite the dangers, I decide to settle down. My hand still on my weapon, I relaxed, as best as I could, on the snowy floor and watched as the wind flew by, taking shards of ice along with it.
Hills, mountains, and other formations….all covered in a thick sheet of snow.
This was the description of the whole world.
As far as I knew, there were no Heartless. No reason for them to exist in an isolate planet like this. After all; what would be the point?
I close my eyes, resting in the icy world, thinking of nothing more than the amount of days it had been since I had left my own world….the only world I was accepted in.
And yet…didn't belong.
Twelve days…it had been twelve days since I had left The World That Never Was.
Eyes open as I let my head fill in the blanks, solving the daily math problem.
I had about two hundred and fifty eight days left till I was to return back home. It seemed so far, but I could fear the anticipation of it all. I wanted nothing more than to return before the date, go back and see him…tell him I had found my answer to his question…
…but that would be a lie.
I feared the days left because I was unsure whether there would be an answer then. I was afraid because I didn't know what to do should I have to approach him. If I ever came back to approach him.
I stood up, not wanting to let the cold, frightening weather claim me. I inhaled a deep breath, letting the cold air sting my lungs as I forced a portal to appear.
I needed to be more confident of myself, otherwise I'd only be repeating past mistakes.
I walked through the portal, giving one last glace at the icy world I had visited.
It reminded me of home.
"I love how Xemnas always finds a way to make sure we go out and waste our times with missions," Axel muttered sarcastically to Roxas and Xion. The three walked down the long hallways, each one headed to the Grey Area.
"Well, we do need to collect hearts," Xion said with a small smile. "Besides, I think doing missions is better than having to sit around all day."
"I disagree," Axel chuckled. "Lying around all day is a dream come true…"
Roxas sighed, not understanding why Axel could be so lazy at times.
"Well, it doesn't matter," Roxas said. "If we ever want to get our hearts back we need to go out and fight Heartless."
"Yeah, but all these missions…" Axel whined. "Seriously…I have a mission everyday now, thanks to Demyx and Larxene…I think I'm going to go crazy."
"It'll just be for a few months," Xion said, trying to point out a bright side. "Larxene should be due…"
"Ugh, what's a women like her doing, having children," Axel commented callously. "Seriously, the fact that she didn't immediately bring a coat hanger to her stomach still shocks the hell out of me!"
"I don't want to hear this, "Roxas muttered. His comment, of course, was ignored. Xion and Axel were far too busy going at it.
"Five months," Axel hissed between his teeth. "And then what, another little brat wanders the hallways? And Larxene's kid, none the less! As if Saix's offspring wasn't bad enough…we'll have to deal with the spawn of the Savage Nymph."
"Really now," a voice said from behind, causing the redhead to jump a bit.
Roxas turned around and couldn't help but give a small chuckle.
"Spawn," Luxord said with a frown.
"You…know what I mean," Axel said pathetically. He gave a small smile to the Gambler, hoping the blonde would see it as some sort of joke.
"I think another baby will be a good thing," Xion said enthusiastically. She looked to Luxord. "You have a mission today as well?"
"We need to meet a quota," Luxord said, his blue eyes still glaring at Axel's. "Can't hope to achieve a goal if we're doing less now, can we?"
"Larxene doesn't mind," Roxas asked, finally speaking.
"She's very independent," Luxord said with a smile, "doesn't need anyone watching over her now. She's quite fine on her own. I'm not worried for her one bit. Even if something were to happen she'd probably be able to take care of it herself."
"Seems believable," Axel laughed. "Larxene's one hell of a…"
"Don't speak," Luxord butted in. "I'm still a tad upset with you and your comment."
Axel frowned. He walked ahead of the blonde, facing him as best as he could.
"Seriously, Lux," Axel questioned. He gave a huge sigh as he looked into Luxord's all too serious expression.
"I'm actually quite proud of my current situation," Luxord pointed out. He smirked, "mind you, I had no idea she even had feelings for me several months ago…the fact that I have her and a child along the way is a victory among all victories…"
"Babies aren't games, Luxord," Xion said with a bit of worry in her tone. "I understand getting Larxene to be with you might have been something like that…but in a few months, you'll be a-"
"-a father," Luxord stated. "Yes, I know. But is it so wrong to look at something from a games point of view? After all, in life there are winners and losers…raising a child is no different. He'll either grow up to be a winner, or he'll end up like the major portion of society and become a nothing, a nobody…"
"Crude humor," Axel muttered.
"But it's true," Luxord said. He smiled. "Of course, I'm not worried in the slightest!"
"Yeah, because anything with your DNA is sure to become a winner, right," Axel laughed.
"Who gave you permission to speak," Luxord questioned the redhead. "Still upset."
"Men," Xion muttered with a roll of her eyes. She gave Roxas a somewhat concerned look, hoping he could say something to end the silliness of the conversation.
The boy only shrugged.
The four nobodies walked into the Grey Area. Axel and Roxas, usually being paired together, both hurried over to the smaller nobody at the end of the room, with a small list in his hand. Zexion gave a quick glance up, counting silently as he made not of who had received a mission and who hadn't. Whenever Xigbar wasn't giving out missions, which tended to be often due to his uncommitted nature, Zexion made sure everyone was off doing something. Of course, he made note that Xigbar was usually busy trying to keep Demyx under control the past few weeks, but he didn't count it as something of a real chore. If the past few months taught him anything, it was that there was a difference between prepping for a child and actually raising one.
Oh…where was that lazy…
"Hey, Zex," Axel said with a smirk. He let his hand on the clipboard and pushed it down, exposing Zexion's pale complexion. "Any easy missions up for grabs today?"
Without a change in his facial expression, Zexion removed Axel's hand from the clipboard and said, "Heart collection with Number XIII. You'll be going to Halloween Town today. Don't come back till you two have met the quota."
Axel frowned a bit, but hurriedly got over it as Zexion summoned a portal for him and Roxas to enter.
"Try to be back before late afternoon," Zexion muttered.
"Let me guess," Axel said, "Xemnas got another speech to bequeath upon us?"
Zexion raised an eyebrow at the redhead, not saying a word.
"Oh, let our Superior have his fun, Axel," Luxord said as he approached the two. "The poor man has been rather busy the past few months, and these last couples of days have been stressful. The only time he honestly has time for himself is when he's actually spending time with us."
"You do realize you've said the word "time" three times, right," Axel asked with a laugh.
"Axel…" Roxas murmured, rolling his eyes.
"Go fulfill your missions," Zexion said, not bothering to get into the current nonsense. Zexion watched as Axel shrugged, following Roxas into the dark portal. He made sure both had disappeared into the darkness before turning his attention to Luxord. "And you…"
"Anything special for me," Luxord asked, resting himself on Zexion. "Hmm?"
"Just the usual…" Zexion looked down and stared at the clipboard. "You're being paired with Demyx on this mission."
By now, Axel and Roxas had left the room, disappearing and off to their destination. Despite this, both Xion and Luxord were enough to say something on this.
"Demyx," Luxord questioned. "Are you quite sure about this?"
"Isn't he a few months pregnant," Xion asked rhetorically, "he can get hurt…"
"Anyone can get hurt on a mission," Zexion replied. "But this mission isn't too hard, but I still need to have two sent out…Demyx should be able to take care of himself."
"The human body can wistand quite a bit," Zexion quickly pointed out. "Although we are not invincible, we can handle most of the natural elements…now, Number XIV, if you don't mind…"
Xion pouted, her eyes staring hard at Zexion.
"Understand that the mission I'm sending Number IX is rather doable," Zexion said. "And I would never send him on a mission that would put him into harm." Zexion leered at Xion. "You should know better than that!"
"Not so harsh, Zexion," Luxord said. "The poor girl was only showing concern."
"I'll go find Demyx," Luxord said, removing himself from Zexion. He looked to Xion and smiled. "And I'll make sure Demyx is fine. Shouldn't be too hard since he has a thing for hiding and fleeing."
"Whatever," Zexion said with another huff. "Number X; go find IX and be on your way to Wonderland." Zexion rolled his eyes as Luxord continued to smirk at him, even as he disappeared into darkness. Zexion turned his attention back to Xion. "And you," he muttered.
Xion lowered her lead, obviously worried about upsetting her superior. And Zexion immediately caught note of this. He frowned a bit, not at her, but at himself.
The past two weeks had made thing a bit awkward. Short one member, one that would soon be out of serve for the next several months, and another already…it was stressful to say the least. He knew better than to complain, and to just "go with the flow" and wait for things to return to normal, but even Zexion understood when he had crossed the line.
Xion was upset.
"You will go to Twilight Town," Zexion said, in an overly calm matter. He saw the young nobody look up at him, a bit startled that he wasn't upset. "You're collecting hearts today…don't screw up."
"Yes sir," Xion murmured, not looking up at Zexion.
Zexion watched as the girl lifted her hand up, summoning up a dark portal. He remained silent as he watched her walk through the darkness. It wasn't until she was long gone did he frown, looking down and feeling a bit guilty from what he did.
This was becoming so stressful…
"Come on, Vixell," I muttered tiredly.
I blink several times, yawning just a bit as I attempt to get the small infant in my arms to open his mouth. Too tired to look down and glare at him. Too exhausted to fight him and his bickering. I could feel him push away the bottle, whining and making all sorts of upset sounds.
And to think; he was the reason I was tired to begin with.
"I'm…going to count to three," I mutter. I'm literally this close to giving up.
More whining was my answer.
"Vixell," I say in a warning tone.
I look down and stare into wide amber eyes laced in tears.
Honestly, if someone where to ask why he was crying right now, or why he had been crying the past several hours, I wouldn't know what to say. All I know is that something was bothering him. Something. I don't know what it is, or was, but it was enough to have him scream and whine for over sixteen hours. I had checked his temperature, his diapers, his clothes, anything that could have caused him to start acting up…but it lead to nothing. He was at perfect health, and none of his clothes seemed to be irritating his skin. So what was bothering him?
But I didn't.
And it was starting to not bother me. No, that wasn't completely true. I was upset because I didn't get any sleep, and I was upset because I couldn't please him or get him to quiet down…but as for the cause of why he was crying. That, right there, I could care less about.
"Perhaps he's teething," a calm voice said from behind. I turned around and stared tiredly at Lexaeus.
"Children teeth this young," I asked.
"Most start teething around for to six months," Lexaeus said as he walked over. He leaned down and stared at Vixell, analyzing the small boy. "Did he eat last night?"
"Yes," I answer. I pause for a moment. "But…don't infants teethe…while teething?"
"Some find it more painful than others," Lexaeus answered.
"He's a little over three months though," I muttered quietly.
"…yes, he is," Lexaeus replied. He looked up and stared curiously at me. "Is there something you're worried about?"
"Aside from why he may be crying, now," I answer. "He's at perfect health. He's probably just being finicky or teething, as you said."
Lexaeus nodded his head.
"If you want," he said, "I'll take him for now. I have no missions today, and it seems you could use the rest. You appear to be very tired."
I wanted to give him Vixell. I wanted nothing more than to relax and have someone else take care of the struggling child in my arms.
I know, I sound so irresponsible.
"No," I answered tiredly. "I'll watch over him. Just keep an eye out on the city…make sure the Heartless numbers don't get too high." I sigh as I place the bottle down. "Can't have too many Heartless with so little difference."
"Of course," Lexaeus said.
I walk off, leaving the bottle as I have long given up on feeding Vixell. I know well enough to know that he'll eat when he's hungry enough. And trying to fight or reason with a three and a half month old would be rather pointless.
I look down and stare worriedly at him. Of course, he looks back up at me with a rather upset expression.
I know it seemed strange, but for a moment, what Lexaeus had said bothered me a bit. I was sure there was nothing to worry about, after all, no child develops at a precise speed…but it did worry me. Pregnancy, childrearing, and anything else involving paternal development didn't come natural to me. And if one considered the fact that males simply do not produce children with one another, a lot could be said about male pregnancy.
Starting off; no one knew a thing about.
Number VI had come up with a theory about how we are able to produce, saying that our elements can affect our ability to procreate, but as how we are able to conceive children is still a mystery. Where did the egg go to develop? How is it that the child remains safe from harm in a body that produces no female hormones? But most importantly; how does this affect the child?
Was Vixell really healthy? Was he developing at a normal rate…or would he age differently? Was his immune system functioning well enough on its own, or will the lack of natural milk affect him? What about his powers? One could agree that infants are born weak and defenseless, whereas Vixell knew how to go berserk if under too much stress.
There was a lot about Vixell I simply did not know about. And what Number v had said made me wonder if there could be something wrong with him…
Which lead to the final question; was there something wrong?
Number X and XII had a child naturally, from what we could tell. Was their child in harm? What about II and IX?
Or was it just me? Just us?
No…I'm becoming too paranoid. Lack of sleep…
"I'm tired," I whisper to Vixell. I'll pretend he's listening to me.
I let a hand rest on his soft, silvery hair as I make my way back to my room. Hopefully I'll be able to calm him down enough to get him to sleep. And if I'm lucky, hopefully I'll be able to do the same to myself.
Once again I look down and give Vixell a little check.
He's no longer crying, but he seems to be rather upset. Hopefully I'll be able to get him to sleep. He does need rest after all.
I let my hand go down a bit and rest on his cheek. He feels warm, but healthy. Everything about him appears to be fine. And it should be. I've done nothing but make sure he was safe from harms way, whether it be from the world, heartless, from bacteria, or from…
"Saix," I mutter, looking down at Vixell.
I could really use him right now. Someone to confirm my worries to, someone who knows me well enough to accept my weaknesses, and who'll listen with the utmost respect.
But…I don't have him.
He's gone…and will be till he's ready to make his final decision.
My fingers slide down a bit more, resting underneath Vixell's chin. I lift his face up, gently, and have him look right up at me. Two bright eyes stare up at me, confused, tired, and still a bit red from all the tears.
I smile at him, hoping to get a small smile back from him.
I'm still just at bit worried.
"We've concluded that the numbers of heartless have, indeed, risen," Xaldin said from his throne. "In the past four months, there has been a ten percent increase of Heartless."
"Ten percent," Marluxia asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Doesn't seem like much," Demyx said.
"Ten percent of several thousand is a lot more than what you think, Demyx," Roxas said, looking up to the young man's throne.
"…and it's still increasing," Xaldin then added.
There came a great silence in the Round room. Everyone had a strained look on there face, some more than others. Xemnas, however, seemed to be the only one with a somewhat calm demeanor on his face.
"So…there are more heartless," Vexen said, leaning in a bit. "I suppose everyone knows why…"
"Is this your way of a blame game," Luxord asked defensively.
Vexen stared carefully at the platinum blonde, and then to everyone else in the room.
"I guess that answers my question," he said with a smirk.
"Not funny, man," Xigbar said as he stared up at the ceiling, not really caring about the conversation at hand. "Seriously though…who didn't see this one coming?" He sat himself upright and looked to Xemnas. "You saw this one coming, right?"
Xemnas sighed, "Yes. But it would be a lie if I was to say that I wasn't a bit surprised…"
"What will we do," Demyx asked with a small frown. He looked down for a few second, and then popped his head back up and looked over at Xigbar, worried.
"Don't worry, Dem," Axel said. "Old Xemnas here obviously has a plan for this…"
"He better," Larxene said with a roll of her eyes. "I got better things to do than spend my days in a danger zone…bad enough we got heartless here to begin with."
"Don't be rude, Number XII," Zexion snapped.
Larxene rolled her eyes again.
"So," Xigbar said," what's the plan?"
Xemnas gave a quick glance around the room. Demyx was the farthest from full term…barely hitting three months. He would have to come up with a long term plan, and it would have to be good enough to keep the numbers at a controllable level. If the numbers were rising, he would have to revert from lesser nobodies to actual nobodies. Not even the stronger ones would cut it.
And even after Number IX had his child, there was the fact that the numbers would still be high, assuming they wouldn't get higher. Whether or not he changes the plan or stay with wasn't the problem, it was making sure it would last forever.
Forever was a long time.
But he had to do it.
Two of his members were going to have children…it would be selfish of him to come up with something quick and easy. And he already had a child…the last thing he wanted was for Vixell to get hurt. He was a somebody…he could lose his heart…
"…For the time being," Xemnas started, "we'll have missions postponed."
As he suspected, many of the member immediately began talking to one another. He closed his eyes, letting them go on until the noise level settled down to a more reasonable level.
"We need to focus on ridding of the heartless," he then said.
"Superior," Lexaeus said.
Xemnas turned his attention to Lexaeus.
"It would be impossible to rid this world of the heartless population," Lexaeus said. "They are naturally drawn to this due to the darkness…"
"I know," Xemnas said, "but we still need to make an attempt to lower the numbers down to a respectable level." Xemnas looked over to Xaldin. "Number III?"
"All together, dating back from a year ago," Xemnas said. "How much has the population changed?"
"Twenty three percent," Xaldin answered.
"Yeesh," Axel said.
"And still rising," Vexen muttered, shaking his head.
"But still doable," Xemnas said. "The following week will be dedicated to brining the numbers down, past normal levels of course."
"By how much," Xigbar asked.
"…sixty percent," Xemnas said.
And of course, everyone in the room gasped. But this time Xemnas didn't give them a chance to whine or complain.
"You will reach your quotas," Xemnas said. "And you'll do it without complaint."
"But that's a lot," Marluxia said. "Even for me! And considering that Larxene and Demyx won't be doing-"
"If you wish, I can have them clean this world," Xemnas suggested. "Is that what you want?"
A few eyes lingered on Marluxia, waiting to hear his answer.
"No," Marluxia said, "of course not…"
I figured as much," Xemnas muttered. He looked at the solemn faces and sighed, "Look…in order to keep balance, we need to make sure everyone works together to keep the numbers low enough so that the next few months, we'll be safe from harm."
"Heartless are fast reproducing creatures," Xaldin the stated. "Wouldn't it be wise to increase the amount of missions so that worlds with hearts will not be overrun?"
"I'll have a plan set up for that later," Xemnas said. "First things first; the survival of our kind…"
Xemnas watched the expressions of those around him change. He knew he was getting to them. He already had a few on his side, those who cared about Vixell, as well as the offspring of Numbers IX and XII, would be willing to go the extra mile for their safety. But then there was the simple fact that a heartless was more than willing to fight a nobody. He knew no one here wanted to deal with that kind of problem. If numbers are down then there is less to worry about. And if numbers are down then the children are safe.
And Xemnas wanted nothing more than that.
"Everyone will wake early tomorrow," Xemnas said finally. "And will be given a certain quota, as well as a district of the Dark City. You'll remove the amount of heartless given to you, and you'll do it in a timely matter. By the end of the week, we should be at a low enough level for us to not have to worry for a while, hopefully a few months."
"Told you he had a plan," Xigbar said as he relaxed himself back into his seat.
"I hope this works," Roxas muttered as he sank into his seat.
"Looks like no breaks this wee, Roxy," Axel said with a sarcastic laugh.
"And I was so looking forward to my break," Luxord said with a sigh.
"Don't be a baby," Larxene said, raising her voice at the platinum blonde.
Xemnas portaled off, leaving the rest of the members to themselves. He walked into the white hallway, staring at the bright white and grey that filled the area.
…please let this work…
From one wasteland to the next.
This time, instead of snow, I get sand.
I look around, hoping to see some sort of life form wandering the desolate world, wondering if, once again, I've entered another dead or empty planet. A look around confirms it; I'm the only living thing in the world.
No life. No heartless. No nothing.
It's only now do I realize how lucky our kind are for having a forgiving world, one that is willing to host some form of life; be it heartless. The world I'm on blows dry, dusty winds. Although there is a sun, I would take my cold, rainy, sunless world any day.
I had been hoping to find some sort of valuable world. In case things go wrong, I could at least inform Xemnas that there are worlds for us to explore, to infect with heartless.
But, from what I've seen, most worlds are empty.
Not like The World That Never Was. This was a different kind of empty. Our word still accepted life. Although it was harsh, it was still forgiving. Those with hearts may be able to make a living on our world…these worlds, however, were a completely different story.
They wouldn't let anything live on this planet. The weather was harsh and the air was thing…
There were limits to even their kind.
Saix looked around the sandy mountains.
How many worlds out there were just like the one back home? How many held hearts?
He sighed as he summoned a dark portal, looking slightly down as he did.
Such lonely planets. They seemed to have something similar, him and these globes.
They were both alone. Saix knew this. He knew he had nothing back there is he didn't open up the way Xemnas wanted. He knew he had a choice in the matter…but a part of him still felt trapped. If he didn't turn out the way the story intended, he'd end up in the same situation before…perhaps even more strained.
So, was this a bit confusing? If you want me to change the pattern or style, please pm me now. I'm going to be gone for a while, so it's important that when I get back I know what I'm going to do, ok? Thanks.