They hovered around the link, stationed like three people looking into a small illuminative pool.
"Miss Harkness," Xavier began, "I would like to state again that the link should only be terminated should the need arise. If I say to cancel the spell, do so. If not, do nothing."
"I understand." Harkness said.
"Do I get a say?" Roxas asked.
"Your judgement in this is untrustworthy." Xavier said plainly. "You may be tempted by information about yourself."
Roxas didn't reply. He figured he couldn't convince the Professor otherwise from his opinion.
"While I attempt to communicate with whoever is one the other side, I will need total silence." The Professor looked at Roxas. "If you were to speak, there is a slim chance they may hear you, and attempt to speak to you, or worse, invade your mind."
"Can't you stop them from doing that?" Roxas asked.
"And turn your psyche into a battle ground? You would be ripped apart."
"What about the alternative option?" Harkness said. "Invade their minds in turn?"
"That would be unethical." Xavier said. "And I will just ask that you cancel the spell holding this link and allow in to close." Xavier began to test the link. "But enough. We should do what we are here to do." With that, he began to access the link, sending telepathic signals through like echo location.
"How long should it take for a response?" Harkness asked.
"I do not know." Xavier said. "Telepathy, in my experience, is not affected by distance outside of range. Even if the other person connected to Roxas is on the opposite side of Earth, communication should be instantaneous." The link fluctuated. "Hm. It's not a response, but whoever is there is aware that someone is there."
"So, they know we're here?" Roxas asked.
"No. They would simply know that the link has been accessed."
The link fluctuated again. :...'s there? Who is this?:
"Did you hear that?" Roxas asked.
"Hear what?" Xavier asked.
"That voice." Harkness said. "You cannot hear it?"
"Apparently not." Xavier said.
:Who are you?: The voice asked.
Roxas hesitated, waiting for Harkness or Xavier to say something, or give some instruction. The Professor doesn't know what to do, Roxas thought to himself. I can't let this opportunity slip. "I'm Roxas." He said.
:I know who you are.: The voice replied. :Who tried to contact me? Who is with you?:
"I am Agatha Harkness." Harkness introduced. "The one who contacted you, however, is Professor Xavier. Can you hear him?"
"I am Professor Charles Xavier," Xavier said, giving something for the person on the other end to hear. Looking to Harkness, he asked, "Can they hear me?"
:I can feel him.: The voice said. :But...that isn't important. I need to know where Roxas is."
"Why?" Roxas asked. "How do you know me?"
:Do you remember Organization XIII?: The voice asked.
"No." Roxas said. "Were they the ones that erased my memories?"
:No.: The voice said. :DiZ and I...we did:
"Interesting..." Harkness mused. "You sound quite young, yet you managed such a feat?"
"What are they saying?" Xavier asked. "Is this person the one that erased Roxas' memory?"
"So you're the one." Roxas said. "Who are you," He demanded, "And why do you need me?"
:My name is Naminé.: The voice explained calmly. :I helped erase your memories, yes, but I have an explanation as to why...if you'll hear it."
"What is going on?" Xavier asked.
"They have identified themselves as Naminé," Harkness said to Xavier, filling him in, "And have admitted to being involved in erasing the young man's memory, with the aid of one, 'diz'." Harkness began to mutter something under her breath.
"Did they say anything else?" Xavier asked.
"She said she has an explanation." Roxas said.
"To what? How your memory was erased or why?"
Roxas was silent in thought. Should he give the Professor an opportunity to take control of his questions, or seize the opportunity? This could be his only chance before he and Harkness closed the link.
"Let's find out." Roxas said, answering the Professor's question and maintaining the conversation with 'Naminé'. "Why was my memory erased?"
:Do you know of the Heartless?:
:Do you remember what you were meant to do? What the Organization had you doing?:
"No, and no."
:You remembered the Heartless, but not them?: She said, speaking to herself. :Why would you take back those memories, but not the other ones...?:
"The Organization?" Roxas asked impatiently.
:Yes.: Naminé said, getting back on topic. :You were part of Organization XIII, a group of thirteen Nobodies. You were the thirteenth member.: She paused for any questions, but Roxas said nothing. She continued, :Their goal was to construct Kingdom Hearts out of the hearts freed by the Keyblade.:
" The Oblivion." Roxas said on reflex.
:Yes...if that is its name now.: Naminé said. :DiZ and I were trying to stop them from completing Kingdom Hearts, and to do that, we had to get the Keyblade away from their control.:
Roxas remembered the previous mention of hearts being freed by Keyblades. "How does that work; something being made out of heartless?"
:I don't understand what you mean.: Naminé said.
"You said they were making a Kingdom Heart out of Heartless. How does that work, and what did that mean to the Organization?"
Naminé hesitated to answer. :The Heartless are Hearts without bodies, manifesting their own forms on their own accord. Without thought to guide them, they are lost, and so give in to the darkness. And, as like attracts like, they seek out other hearts, seeking to drag them down into the dark. While these hearts are trapped in their darkness, and cannot be vanquished entirely, they can be freed of the darkness.:
"By a Keyblade?" Roxas guessed.
:Yes.: Naminé confirmed. :When a heart is freed by the Keyblade, it will coalesce with other hearts. These events of coalescence begin to form greater and greater clusters, and these clusters begin to gravitate toward each other, creating a Kingdom Heart.:
"And a Kingdom Heart is?"
:A heart that would...: Naminé hesitated again, perhaps fearing she was saying too much, :That would make them whole.:
:The Organization. The Nobodies.: She was silent for a moment. :You.:
"Make me whole?" Roxas asked, confused. "What, like, give me a heart?"
:Precisely.: Naminé said.
Roxas was struck dumb by this. He had been right; he wasn't a mutant. " What am I?" He quickly demanded, wanting an answer.
:I already told you,: Naminé said, :You're a Nobody.:
Roxas was confused for a moment. Had she just called him a name? "What do you mean, 'nobody'?"
The rest of Naminé's clarification was unintelligible due to Xavier talking over her into Roxas' mental ear. "What is she saying?"
Roxas held back an urge to snap at the Professor, but a snarl still slipped through. Reigning himself in, he said, "Hold on," to Naminé, before explaining to the Professor what he had learned. "The Keyblade is used to defeat Heartless. And Heartless aren't without hearts, they're hearts lost in 'darkness'. I don't know what that means."
"Did she say why your memory was erased yet?" Xavier pressed.
"To stop Organization XIII." Roxas said. "They were making something out of the hearts released by the Keyblade, and Namine wanted to stop them. Why, I don't know, and I don't know exactly how this thing the Organization was making was supposed to work, but I was the key to it. No pun intended."
"What is this Organization XII?" Xavier asked. "And are they the ones that had your memory erased?"
"She was just about to explain that actually." Roxas lied. He made a mental note not to get sidetracked by schemes or goals of these people; he had to stay on track. Getting back to Naminé, he asked, "Did they have you erase my memory?"
:No.: Namine said, :DiZ and I did that on our own. The Organization wanted you just as you are. For the most part.:
"For the most part?"
:The Organization wanted to construct Kingdom Hearts. They had you, a Keyblade Wielder, working to collect hearts to this end. We erased your memories to stop this from coming about.:
"How was Kingdom Hearts a threat to you?"
:It wasn't about it being a threat to us. It was about the Organization being a threat to everyone and everything else. Xemnas, their leader, was after something. Whether it was to be whole, like the Organization members say, or to simply gain power, I don't know. But we had to stop him either way."
"You couldn't have just asked me to stop?" Roxas snarked.
:It wasn't that simple!: Naminé protested. :Xemnas won't stop. Getting you out of his reach was meant to stall him, nothing more than that. He will find another way eventually, even if he doesn't find you, and then he'll finish his work.: With emphasis she said, :We need Sora to stop him.:
Roxas' mind began to run rampant. It was without pain, but Roxas was mentally immobile all the same.
...Come on, Sora, I thought you were stronger than that...
...Why do you have the Keyblade?!...
...Sora, Sora, Sora! Enough about Sora!...
...I belong with Sora. And now, I am going back...to be with him...
...This puppet will have to play her part. Roxas... This is him. It's Sora...
"Roxas?" Xavier asked, noticing the youth's vacant state.
"Curious." Harkness mused. "What is happening to him?"
:I'm allowing him to take back more memories.: Naminé explained plainly. :Now that I see what is going on, and that others are helping him, I will let him have some memories in return for something.:
"Something?" Harkness echoed. "And what is this, 'something'?"
:That he allow me to convince him to come back.:
"You think you can convince him, hm?" Harkness said, mildly amused by the manipulative intent.
:It will take time, but he will see that he must confront his past and return."
"To what purpose? Something to do with this, 'Sora'?"
:Yes. He is Roxas' other. Sora's memories were lost, and now, I am trying to put them back together. Roxas' has some of those memories—only bits and pieces—but more than that, he has the other half of Sora's being. Until that is returned...:
"He will be at half his potential, and this, 'Xemnas', will go unnapposed?"
:Actually, he is unconscious. But, yes, Xemnas will be without opposition.:
Harkness was quiet, thinking.
"What is happening to Roxas?" Xavier demanded.
"He's remembering more of his past, or so Naminé says." Harkness explained. "Only this time, Naminé is not trying to stop him."
"A ploy to sway him?" Xavier suggested.
"Perhaps." Harkness admitted. "She has spoken of a group of creatures called 'Nobodies', one that has grouped into Organization XII."
"And what is Organization Thirteen?" Xavier asked. "What are their motives, what are their intentions toward Roxas? Are they a threat to him?"
"I will ask." Harkness said. "What does this organization want?"
:The same as us.: Naminé responded plainly. :They want to find Roxas and take the power within him for themselves.:
"How would that be accomplished?"
:By their means, it would involve having Roxas absorbed into a vessel of some sort. One that would be at their disposal. This would also mean Roxas would cease to be.:
"Hm." Harkness mused before saying to Xavier, "The Organization wanted to transfer whatever power Roxas has into a 'vessel', though this would mean, in layman terms, Roxas' death."
"That is troubling." Xavier said. "And, Naminé wants to prevent this from happening?"
"By using him to awaken Sora, yes."
"Perhaps, then," Xavier said slowly, "Our goals may be compatible."
"Perhaps, but your goals involve Roxas safety, and that of your students." Harkness said to Xavier. Speaking to Naminé again, she said, "You cannot expect him to abandon everything he has here to go back to fight a battle he does not remember."
:He won't fight. He won't exist.:
Harkness raised an eyebrow. "I do not understand."
:Roxas will merge with Sora, making him whole.:
Harkness thought for a moment. "Was this 'Kingdom Hearts' not supposed to make Roxas whole?"
:So Xemnas said.:
"And Sora is one of these...non-bodies?"
:Nobodies.: Naminé clarified. :They are bodies without hearts, half of the whole that is divided upon the loss of the heart. And, no, Sora is not one of them. He is human.:
"And the Heartless are the other half of this divided whole?"
"I assume you already have the Heartless of Sora taken care of?"
:Yes. We only need Roxas now. Please send him back.:
"How did Roxas arrive here?" Harkness asked Xavier in a whisper.
"I do not know." Xavier answered. "Neither does Roxas; he was unconscious, and had been for some time when he arrived."
"We do not know how he came to be here." Harkness explained to Naminé. "We cannot send him to you. Neither can we tell you where he is."
:You don't trust me.: Naminé stated. :I understand. But, going by what you've asked, you've already encountered the Heartless. They were in small numbers, otherwise you would have asked some more urgent questions. They may have been benign thus far. They will get worse."
Harkness paid this warning little heed. The X-Men had bested Apocalypse; whatever was to come was paltry by comparison. She, meanwhile, would be far and away when whatever chased the boy came along. And New Salem was a place to be reckoned with in its own right. "Thank you, but we cannot send this boy to his doom without good reason."
:He won't die.: Naminé assured her, :He'll be part of Sora.:
"But he will not exist as an independent being, will he?"
Naminé was quiet for a moment before replying, :Yes.:
I believe the term is 'dealbreaker', Harkness thought. Although... "Is there an alternative?"
:What?: Naminé asked, sounding genuinely confused.
"From what you've said, both your solution and that of the Organization will result in the death of this young man, and his friends will not agree to anything like that. But surely it will have occurred to you that placing all your hopes on one individual is foolhardy?"
Namine didn't respond at first. When she did, her voice was remorseful. :If we had any other option, we would have taken it a long time ago. Good people have been hurt along this path.: She said, trying to keep her voice even. :They, too, searched for another way, but none was found. And so, they gave themselves to this plan; the only plan we have. We can't let those sacrifices be in vain.:
Harkness began to make a reply, but was interrupted by Naminé.
:But we have spoken enough. The decision is ultimately left to Roxas. He will decide Sora's fate, and by extension, that of Xemnas and his servants.:
"...hmmuhh...what...?" Roxas said as he slowly came back to himself.
:If your scholar friend is still listening, you may want to give Roxas a chance to fill him in.: Naminé said to Harkness. To Roxas, she said, :Roxas, are you alert yet?:
"That..." Roxas began, "Was...what I did?"
"What did she show you?" Harkness asked.
"What are you talking about now?" Xavier asked.
"I remembered...I was learning from people, in...the Organization!" Roxas said with revelation. "I remember it!"
"How much do you remember? What can you tell us?" Xavier asked, a little desperation creeping into his voice.
Being left out of the loop must have been wearing on him, Harkness noted.
"Uh, I was the Thirteenth. Lowest rank." Roxas said, beginning his explanation. "I remember about...a week, the first, I think? I was the only one taking on the heartless with the purpose of collecting hearts, while the others did...well, whatever they did. I wasn't too involved in anything else."
"So, you are the only one who can collect the hearts for what Organization Thirteen is building?"
Roxas made an affirmative noise ."The Organization wants me for that reason only; they told me straight out. Kingdom Hearts is what it is called, and the Keyblade is the only thing that can collect the hearts to it."
"And they will transfer your mutant powers into another vessel to ensure their lasting control of the Keyblade." Xavier said, concluding the situation summary. "And awaking this Sora person carries that same penalty."
"Nobodies lot, I guess." Roxas said bitterly.
"I'm sorry?" Xavier said, confused as to what Roxas meant.
"Roxas supposed mutation is actually—" Harkness began.
"Not the Keyblade," Roxas interrupted. "Its..." He trailed off, trying to think of knew what he was, but how to explain it to the Professor? Nobodies are without hearts, but how to translate that into—
The 'incident' with Rogue struck him with inspiration; her power drained life from anyone she touched. That was it! "I don't have any life force." He said.
"No life force?" Xavier said, "What do you mean, specifically?"
"I...technically, don't actually exist." Roxas explained, "The heartless and I are connected in nature, though where they are hearts without bodies,"
", You are a body without a heart. I see." Xavier said. "We'll discuss that later. For now, has Naminé told you about what she has proposed in relation to the telepathic link?"
"No." Roxas said. To Namine, he asked, "What is he talking about?"
:If you have no objections, and if you are willing to hear me out, I would like to keep the link open. Your friends want to know more about your past, and I need to recover Sora's memories. If the link is closed, this will become irrevocably impossible.:
"I'm not as interested in my past as they are." Roxas stated. "There's nothing in what I remembered that was particularly special." He'd remembered his training, not much else.
:I haven't let you remember too much.: Naminé explained, :You'll only recall some of your earliest memories. There's information that you aren't ready to deal with yet.:
Roxas anger flared. "Who the hell are you to—!"
:You can argue what right I may or may not have to keep your memories from you, but it doesn't matter; I have them, and I will return them when I deem it safe to do so.: Bringing her voice down from the commanding tone she just bore, she said, :Besides, you said you weren't overly interested.:
Roxas chagrined at his intentions being used against him. "So what do you want out of this?"
:To persuade you to come back and finish what we have been working toward; Sora's restoration. I can't contact you like this on my own, and neither can you contact me. At least not without the help of whoever your other friend is, or you trying to take the memories back by force.:
"Like when I remembered the Oblivion?"
:Precisely. My deal is this; when you face the Heartless, you will instinctively reach for the knowledge you once had. Spells, powers, weaknesses of whatever your facing; you can take them back, but from now on I won't fight it.:
"Meaning it won't hurt anymore?"
:Correct. But as you take them back, you'll remember other things. You've no doubt begun to remember your friend.:
"Friend?" Roxas didn't know what she meant at first, but then he remembered a conversation he'd had with X-23 some time ago. It was about someone who he had felt betrayed by. Is that what she meant?
"Now what is she saying?" Xavier asked.
"She's relating to Roxas the deal I mentioned earlier;" Harkness explained, "Her bid to convince him to return to wherever he came from."
"She says she'll let me regain memories when I need to—when I'm in an emergency, or something like that—but along with those memories relevant to survival, I'll remember other things. Probably in chronological order, correct?"
: Perhaps.: Naminé answered. :I've never attempted it before, but the memories should come back in the sequence they occurred.:
"I'll make do with that." Roxas said. "They'll probably come in order of first to last."
Xavier nodded. "I have no more questions. If anything does come up, however, would you object to another attempt to contact Naminé?"
Roxas shook his head. "No."
"Thank you." Xavier said. "As for this deal, it is your decision to accept or refuse as you see fit. I only ask that you not act rashly; think things through."
Roxas took this to heart. Or whatever the equivalent was that a Nobody could do. "I'll be sure of it." He said.
Xavier let a moment of silence follow to punctuate their mutual understanding, before asking, "Are there any other matters that need to be addressed?"
Harkness shook her head. "Naminé, have you anything more to say?"
:No,: she replied, :I will be waiting. Please, take caution.:
"We can leave now." Roxas said.
"Very well." Xavier began the slow process of bringing them back to consciousness. Roxas thought about what he'd remembered the whole way up.
...Do you remember your true name?...
Took me a while to get the direction right in this chapter. Accidentally repeated information in some places, so it needed some restructuring. Also, I think this may be one of the longer chapters I've done, so, sorry for the massive text overload.