Chapter 10: Mind Zero
Nina and I turned to see the Agents of CAPRA staring at us with their weapons ready. I recognized Wolf from the time he fought Genesis. But the girl beside him was new. She looked far more intimidating than Wolf. The weapon she carried was a large axe she held with two hands. It was rather modern and sleek for a design so old and historic. The entire body of the weapon had a black coating while the edge was sharp and shined in the light of the sun.
“Remember Vixen, the Agency wants them taken in alive for questioning.” said Agent Wolf to the woman as she licked her lips in anticipation.
“Do the brass care exactly how “alive” they are?” the woman responded.
Wolf sighed and rubbed his eyes in disappointment.
“Don’t get excessive. Otherwise we will be no better than the things we fight.”
Vixen was her name, and it was more than fitting. She was a beautiful and luscious woman of petite stature. She bore the cunning and sly demeanor of the very beast from which she stole her name. She was a fox of the arctic as her skin was pale like the very ice that made up her heart and soul. This pale complexion was completely overshadowed by her eyes. Her sapphire eyes held within them a murderous glint. A twinkle of bloodlust that I had seen within the equally aqua shaded eyes of Nina. Vixen had a similar feel surrounding her. A woman with a battle tendency and a lust for blood.
Vixen wore a similar business garb to her peer, only with a bit of a feminine touch. Her black suit jacket was slimmer and showed more of her rather wrinkled white shirt, which was worn with the collar unbuttoned exposing a bit of her cleavage. Supposedly Vixen thought her collar got in the way when she fought. Her pants and shoes were black as well and matched her jacket. She kept the professional look of a CAPRA agent while adding her own personal flare. Her pale skin was contrasted heavily by violet eye shadow that was applied almost like a mask. Her platinum blonde hair fell just above her brow with the rest of it tied into twin tails. Despite being a cold hearted killer for the American government, she took pride in looking good while doing it.
“I’ll take the girl.” Vixen spoke with an anticipation not unlike Nina’s.
Those two were far too similar not to fight each other. And I believe the two of them knew it more than anyone. But something happened that made me truly glimpse into Nina’s broken mind. She turned to face Katelyn who was carrying the severely wounded Reaver as his guts draped onto her shoulder.
“Take Reaver and run.” Nina said to Katelyn in a shockingly serious tone.
Katelyn immediately spoke up in defiance.
“No way! I’m fighting too!”
“No! They will kill you Katelyn. You won’t survive this fight. Take Reaver and run! Now!”
What was I seeing? This was a stark contrast to the person I had come to know as Nina. There was no way that the woman who killed my father with such bliss on her face could show this kind of concern for her allies. This sight disturbed me. It forced me to wake back up to reality from the vengeful slumber that wrapped its seductive arms around my body. I was catching a glimpse of Nina’s perspective. I was slowly beginning to understand there was a lot more to her than meets the eye. I was starting to realize there might be something much larger going on within her mind.
My curiosity and astonishment was quickly put on hold as Vixen dashed passed me and Wolf began to charge. I readied my blades as Wolf swung his glaive down onto me. I deflected the blow with ease and attempted to maneuver around his reach. Wolf met my sneaking blow with much resistance and pushed me back with a powerful strike. I slid back on my feet and did my best to regain my footing. I glanced back and saw that Nina had her hands full. Vixen’s fighting style was far different from Wolf’s Wolf had control and finesse with a large weapon. Vixen was a flat out berserker. She swung her axe with force and ferocity. Yet her strikes were not simply frantic. They were calculated. Nina had done her best to repel and dodge the oncoming strikes Vixen unleashed, but she had already suffered two severe wounds. I clenched my teeth in frustration and went on the attack. I had no idea I was playing into Wolf’s hands. Wolf blocked my strikes with little effort and retaliated with an uppercut. I dodged out of the way just in time and attempted to strike at Wolf’s legs. Wolf responded by leaping back and swinging his glaive at me. The blade grazed my cheek and left a thin cut across my face. Blood trickled from the wound before quickly regenerating. I growled in aggravation and recalled my blades to me. I struck out my palms and fired a barrage of concentrated light beams. My eyes widened as Wolf demonstrated near inhuman reflexes as he dodged and blocked my storm of projectiles. Within seconds Wolf had closed the gap. I quickly called my blades forth and tried to cut the weapon with my dark matter blade. I had only one strike to buy myself more time. This was the chance I needed.
Nina and Vixen exchanged blows furiously. Vixen was dodging Nina’s manic fire blasts with relative ease, as if she knew where each blast was going to occur.
“You aren’t the first pyrokinetic I’ve fought! But I must say you are much better than the last one~!” Vixen spat at Nina.
Nina growled with a primal anger. Both of her arms were completely engulfed in flame as she gave into rage. She rushed at Vixen who dodged her enraged punches with little to no effort. Vixen then swung her axe and brought it to meet Nina’s stomach. Nina’s eyes nearly went white as pain spread throughout her body. Blood spewed and poured from her gaping mouth as she gasped for air in shock. Vixen grinned as she slowly tilted the blade of her axe inside Nina’s stomach. Nina gasped for air as she felt the blade of Vixen’s axe slowly wedge its way to her spine. Nina couldn’t even scream as blood began to fill up inside her throat and secrete from her wound onto Vixen’s weapon. Vixen’s grin grew wider as she removed her blade and let Nina’s wounded body fall to the floor. Vixen grabbed Nina’s arm and glared at her with a terrifyingly happy expression. With one swift motion the arm Vixen had grasped was now seemingly floating away from Nina’s body. Why was her arm so far away? That’s when realization took over and I witnessed the first human moment Nina had ever expressed.
I had never heard a scream so terrifying and full of fear than the one set loose from the depths of Nina’s maw. It was a scream so lucid and real, I was beginning to forget who Nina really was. Her scream was loud and strained on her throat. Occasionally she would gurgle and choke on her own blood as she cried out in unbearable pain. Vixen licked her lips as she slowly stepped closer to Nina, grasping her severed arm. Vixen smiled and slowly began to let the blood from Nina’s removed arm drip down onto Nina’s face. Nina’s eyes widened in absolute shock as she watched blood and small fractions of tissue drip down onto her skin from her own extracted limb. She began to struggle. She tried to reach out to Vixen with her other arm only for Vixen to plant her foot upon her wound. Nina screamed out in wretched pain as the heel of Vixen’s tailored shoe dug into her insides. Vixen grasped Nina’s hand gently and caressed it softly as Nina cried her eyes out in such astonished fear. Vixen tightened her grip suddenly around the wrist and slowly began to pull on Nina’s arm. Nina could feel the stress building up in her shoulder joints. The cracking of bone began to ring out. Nina began to breathe heavier and more frantically. She didn’t dare struggle. She couldn’t. She tried to engulf herself in flames and disappear, but the second Vixen felt a rise in temperature she smeared Nina’s face with her own blood and began to choke Nina with her foot. Nina had used all her energy to scream out in pain. This was truly the end for her. Or at least she assumed.
A single gunshot rang out and Vixen instantly stopped moving. She turned and glared at Wolf who had quickly fired a shot just after he watched his weapon become erased. My dark matter blade cut through the pole of Wolf’s glaive, erasing its matter and severing in two. Wolf didn’t seem to care about that now as he stared into Vixen’s eyes while still making sure I didn’t make any sudden moves. If I tried to strike him he would certainly put enough bullets in me to at least knock me out.
“Vixen! Stand down! We need them alive, remember!?” Wolf shouted in irritation.
“Sorry Wolfy~!” Vixen replied giggly.
“Help me with this one. He seems stronger than the girl.”
Vixen nodded and dashed towards me. I leapt up and over her as she dashed at me. I landed on the ground behind her and prepared for a fight. I would have to focus most on my efforts on eliminating Vixen. She was clearly the stronger and more unpredictable fighter. All Wolf had left was his firearm which wouldn’t do much except stall me. That’s when I realized something. Wolf’s glaive. It was still in one piece.
“Shit!” I thought as Vixen dashed at me once more and I was forced to defend.
Vixen swung her axe at me with immense speed and power. I did my best to block the strikes, but each attack had enough force to throw my arm back when I blocked. She was able to just power through my parries with ease. I felt Vixen’s axe graze my stomach as I leapt back to dodge only for Wolf to cut into my back from behind with his glaive. Adrenaline surged through me as I fought the pain.
“H… How?! I erased his weapon!” I thought as Wolf tossed me into the ground.
Hell’s voice rang out amongst my confusion as I did my best to ward off Wolf and Vixen’s strikes.
“I think I figured it out.” Hell spoke softly.
“Well hurry up and tell me. I don’t think I have many opportunities left to turn this fight around.” I thought back as I stood my ground covered in wounds.
“Dark matter is a tricky thing. But what you have functions in a completely different way. You aren’t creating some kind of black hole. Instead you are putting objects inside a negative space. The same negative space you are able to travel within. However, for some reason this didn’t happen to Wolf’s weapon.”
I did my best to listen to Hell as I desperately fought off attacks from Wolf and Vixen. My body was slowly running out of stamina as our blades clashed. Hell needed to pick up the pace if he was going to help me survive this.
“We noticed that some of the things you erased returned to reality, for instance that fence we cut through. That and the bullets fired by Reaver. You can see them on the ground can’t you. You never completely erased them.”
I leapt away from Vixen and Wolf and immediately pinned them down with beam fire as Hell continued his analysis.
“Hurry the fuck up Hell! I don’t think I can hold out for much longer here!” I shouted aloud as I fired a barrage of concentrated light matter.
“You didn’t place Wolf’s weapon in negative space, you placed its design. You can copy the very makeup of objects and create them out of light or dark matter!”
My eyes widened as Wolf and Vixen broke my suppressing fire and were charging towards me.
“God dammit! This better work!” I screamed as I concentrated my mind on the thought of Wolf’s weapon.
Before you knew it a light copy of Wolf’s glaive appeared in my hands shining like a star. I used the glaive to block Vixen and Wolf’s attacks and push them back. Wolf seemed completely unimpressed.
“A copycat huh?” Wolf muttered.
Wolf retracted the grip of his glaive. Now it was no longer a pole arm but a bizarre, rectangular blade. The only place to grip it was directly behind the blade itself. Wolf rushed towards me while Vixen pulled out her pistol and laid down suppressing fire. I blocked the bullets, unknowingly leaving myself wide open. Wolf glided his blade across my chest in three successful slashes. I stumbled back and brought my glaive down onto Wolf. Wolf dodged the strike and sliced into my chest once more. He grabbed me by the neck and threw me towards Vixen with ease. I struggled to regain my footing before meeting that horrifying axe blade. I managed to stop myself from stumbling into Vixen’s axe. I blocked her strike and twirled my glaive around my body to create some distance. Vixen tried to find an opening in my flourish and went in. I dashed away from her strike and raised my guard. Wolf charged towards me and swung his closed glaive at me. I parried the strike away and kicked Wolf back. Vixen had ran towards me at that point and leapt over my strike as I swung my glaive at her. Vixen grinned as she readied her axe. The way she aligned her edge and where her body was aiming all indicated my demise. This strike was going to take my head. That is, if it weren’t for some interference.
Vixen met something in midair and was sent hurtling towards the concrete that had been overrun by Nature. I looked to see a black figure land in front of me. I instantly recognized that iconic coat. Genesis had saved my life once again.
“That makes twice now.” Genesis said as he glared back to me.
“I’ll return the favor someday.” I responded.
Genesis and I stood back to back as Wolf and Vixen both prepared to continue their offensive. Genesis unsheathed his sword and prepared himself. The tension in the air was palpable, like pressure building up in a glass jar. One little fracture was all it took for everything to explode. Genesis immediately dashed towards Wolf and attacked before he had a chance to think. The two titans began their clash once again.
While Genesis and Wolf exchanged blows back and forth, I took on the devilish maiden that was Vixen. Vixen gripped her axe in both hands and dashed towards me with it wound up like a baseball bat. I swung my glaive in an attempt to catch her before she got too close. Vixen grinned as she dodged my strike with ease and ran right up towards me. I recalled my glaive and fired a beam at Vixen’s head only for my hand to be grabbed by the malicious Agent. Vixen clenched my wrist tightly and managed to throw me up and over her, slamming me down into the concrete. Being slammed into concrete twice in one day was more than just a pain. I struggled back to my feet as Vixen was about to cleave into me. I tried to block but I was only slammed back with immense force. Vixen approached me with her axe ready to chop me into bits until Wolf told her to stop. She intended to destroy me faster than Wolf could stop her. I could see it in her eyes. I desperately tried to fight her approach. I knew that if she got within striking range she would win the battle. I was losing stamina. I was tired. The fight with Reaver had already drained me. I wasn’t prepared to go up against two Agents. I never stood a chance. Before I even realized it an axe had cleaved into my left shoulder. My eyes widened and I screamed. I screamed out in absolute pain as I felt the blade slowly grind through my bone as Vixen extracted it from the burrow it made of my flesh. It was worse than being burned alive. Much worse. Once again I fell to my knees, finding myself at the mercy of someone else.
Time seemed to slow down to a crawl. I watched as my sight was dragged closer and closer to my own reflection in Vixen’s eyes. Through my reflection I descended into the sea of black that was my pupil. A single white light shone at the end of the dark tunnel. With a bright flash I felt myself dive back into the far reaches of my own mind. My head was spinning with no sense of what way was rightside up. I couldn’t distinguish between what was the reality of my mind and what was simply infinite. Within seconds I felt sense hit me like a train and I was thrown into a tangible reality constructed by my own mind. As I felt myself begin to come to terms with my environment, I slowly began to understand where my mind had taken me. I had been taken to the White Room, or at least what my mind had perceived to be the White Room. The walls were still made of that glossy white metal, but they almost looked transparent as screen like images seemed to float along the walls in commute. Every image seemed to be from the day my father died.
“Welcome back.” I heard Hell say from behind me.
I turned to face Hell as he leaned against the wall of the room. Memories of Lockhart and Genesis floated behind the wall Hell leaned against.
“What is this place?” I asked.
“It’s your head. You should be able to figure that out yourself.”
“My guess is that, this room is created from my memory.”
I looked at the center of the room. Low and behold, as according to memory, a wooden black chair sat in the center of the room. I slowly began to approach the chair as if I were drawn to it. Something inside me was telling me that this chair was very important. As I slowly made my way closer to the chair I heard Hell shout from behind me.
I quickly turned to see another person inside the room. He stared at me with a smile as I laid my eyes upon him. He looked exactly like me, except he was practically an albino. His skin was frightfully pale, his eyes bore white irises, and his hair was the color of snow. I immediately readied myself in anticipation of an attack, but no such thing occurred. The “pale me” simply smiled and spoke in an eerie voice.
“Who are you?” I asked in confusion.
“It’s your head. I believe you already know the answer to that question.” responded the albino.
Being inside your own mind is strange. While at first everything seems foreign to you, within seconds you can immediately understand just where you are, who you’re with, what you’re wearing, etcetera. And within seconds I knew the identity of the man standing before me. The man who looked like he was made entirely out of light.
“You are my subconscious.” I said softly.
“I am indeed. But for sake of conversation, you can call me Purgatorio.”
Purgatorio bowed to me in a grand gesture as Hell approached from behind.
“Really? You’re his subconscious?” Hell asked.
“Yes. Traversing the realms of your own mind is tricky. Even while inside it, the mind continues to find ways to place things into a tangible form. Same thing goes for you Hell. In truth both you and I have no form here, not even Heaven. As a matter of fact this room as well is technically formless. But as we are now within the confines of Heaven’s mind, it is working to arrange things in a way that is possible for him to understand.”
“Yeah, cause that makes sense.” Hell said with a sigh.
“In short, Hell, this is all one giant thought. Heaven is in a waking lucid dream.”
I continued to look at the chair before me as Purgatorio and Hell debated. I then spoke up and voiced my curiosities.
“So then, what is this chair?”
Purgatorio approached from behind and stood beside me as he spoke a rather peculiar title.
“The Black Throne.”
“Who came up with that cheesy name?” Hell asked from behind me.
“We did.” Purgatorio exclaimed.
“And by we you mean..?” Hell asked.
“Heaven and I~!”
I sighed to myself in annoyance. I supposed Hell’s rejection of Purgatorio was natural, given that despite living in my head for a few days he was still a foreign element. Granted I wasn’t so sure how well even I could trust Purgatorio. But at the same time I knew everything he was going to say before he said it. He was merely a guide to me while I was inside my head. The moment he appeared, part of me knew he was to be trusted.
“Why am I here?” I asked in an effort to get back on track.
Purgatorio then approached the Black Throne. He shot a glare back at me as he leaned against the arm of the chair.
“Because we can’t remember anything.” Purgatorio said.
I slowly approached the throne as I continued to feel drawn to it. Purgatorio watched me closely as I made strides towards the simple chair. Purgatorio said that I was here because we couldn’t remember anything. Was this Black Throne where my memories had all gone? Purgatorio stepped away from the seat and came to face me head on as we stood in front of that black chair I once called home. I felt his pale eyes look into my very own as he gave me a faint smile.
“Have you decided what you want to do?”
“Yeah. If you’re saying that this throne holds all of my memories, then I’m going to take them back.”
“That is not what I asked you.”
I didn’t have to think for long, and Purgatorio did not have to explain it to me. He wasn’t asking about the simple choice of whether or not to bring back the memories of my old life. He was talking about what I was going to do next. Though I had chosen to accept the choices I had made and the monster they made me, I still had one choice left to make before I could continue to walk forward. This was the last chance I had left to make that choice. If I faltered, even for a moment, I would be killed by Vixen. This choice would shape the road ahead for miles. Purgatorio and I both knew that. This choice was the most important one I had to make, and it was one with infinite possibilities. If I were to survive this battle, what will I do? So much had happened in so little time. I had seen so many things that shook the very foundations of the person I had been building up within my heart. This persona I had assumed at rebirth was flawed and faulty. A test subject gone wrong. Nevertheless I had nowhere to go but forward. I started at the bottom of a pit and was writhing around within its shadowy depths. I had nowhere else to go but up, out of the pit, and into the world above. Too many questions had been brought to me without any answers. I wanted to know why Reaver protected Nina, who Nina really was. I wanted to know more about Terra and Genesis. I wanted to know why Genesis and CAPRA knew each other. I wanted to know the truth.
“I had… No, we had started this life on the wrong foot. All of us. I have become the very thing I despise. If we are to have any hope of redemption then we must accept our sins and move on while looking back to the life we left behind. We had given it all up when we became a Demon. We threw away what we had built, burned every bridge and ran forward without even thinking. It’s time to return to the sleeping ruins of our memories. Perhaps we can find strength in the memories of what we once were.” I said with determination.
“And what if you don’t like what you find within our memories?” Purgatorio asked.
“Then we will still accept them and move on. The past is the past, we may not be able to change it, but we must accept it for what it is and learn from the mistakes we made.”
Purgatorio smiled at our resolve and gestured towards the throne.
“Then reclaim your throne. It has been waiting for you to sit upon for a long time Heaven. A mind is only so much without its body. It’s time to reclaim what you have abandoned and remember the child that had died.”
I nodded and took my seat upon the small black chair constructed from my memory. As I sat down I watched as the landscape of the White Room vanished and I saw the chair had revealed itself to be a true throne of glossy obsidian. Wires fed into to it like a web of veins. Below me was a glass floor revealing an intangible amount of wires. Screens of memories all flashed around me as I began to lean into the throne. This was where my memories had gone. I had subconsciously purged them and left them behind. I had accepted death and believed I was someone different from my old self. In a way I was right. But I still clung to the memory of my father’s death. I claimed to have been born anew yet I clung to one single thought of the old me. I was a hypocrite. It was time to at last correct myself and accept that which was abandoned. I had now realized how ashamed I was of my weak self. How I blamed myself just as much as I blamed Nina. I hated my lack of power and my inability to fight back. I realized I had nothing to truly be ashamed of at all, and that small child will always be apart of me. Tears began to well up in my eyes as one more echo of my mind appeared before me. The memory of my younger self. I looked maybe nine or ten years old. I smiled as my eyes began to leak tears. I gently took the hands of my child self and spoke softly to him.
“I am never going to erase you.”
I watched as my child self smiled and turned away from me to return to the stream of memory that flashed before my eyes. Finally a flash of white light took me and I heard my father’s voice.
“You’re thinking too much son. Fighting is about thinking quick, yes. But it also about thinking less. One cannot fight with a clouded mind. If one truly wishes to be strong in battle then they must set their mind back to zero.”
As the light subsided I returned to the frozen reality I retreated from. Vixen was inches from striking my body with her axe. I had only a few seconds to act. I quickly summoned my light blade and sliced her across her gut. Time returned and Vixen stumbled back as I pushed forward, I swung with my dark blade with no intention of erasing. As predicted, Vixen blocked the strike and I was able to quickly pierce through her skin with my light blade. She grunted in pain and tried to swing her axe at me. Despite such speed and strength, the weapon Vixen wielded still required a lot of skill to use effectively. Vixen’s strikes weren’t manic and unpredictable, but that would be her greatest weakness as well as her strength. She may have been able to put all of her ferocity into well calculated, seemingly reckless, strikes. However, this meant that she would fall victim to a pattern. She had far too many telegraphs for when and where she would strike. I was able to maneuver through her swings and attacked her exposed sides. Vixen began to get more and more enraged as I attacked her openings repeatedly. Finally she made a fatal error in her rage. Vixen left herself wide open and I managed to make my move. All it took was one calculated swing of my light blade. My sword swung into the back of Vixen’s leg and more than likely dug into her femoral artery. Vixen fell over and screamed out in immense pain as I stood over her writhing body ready to finish her. Wolf immediately knocked Genesis away as he heard Vixen cry out.
He ran towards me and attempted to get me out of the way. His glaive was pointed directly at me. The edge was pointing outward. He planned to come at me from my right side. I timed my strike to just when Wolf was about to make his move. I disappeared into negative space without a trace and reemerged near Genesis. Genesis looked at me completely dumbfounded as I helped him up.
“What the hell did you do?”
Genesis looked at me strangely. He had no idea what I was talking about and was completely confused.
“I don’t get it. Vixen had you right where she wanted you. How were you able to take her out like that? You fought in a way I have never from you seen before.”
“Don’t get me wrong. Mind Zero isn’t some hidden ability. It’s not some technique passed down through my family. It’s not something caused by my Demon powers. Mind Zero is merely a name. A name I gave to a certain state of mind. When I am able to fight with a clear head. It is when I am able to set my mind to zero.”
Genesis seemed to accept my answer and then turned to look to the road as the Evo City Police began to approach the scene. I immediately grabbed Genesis by the hand and was about to leave but he stopped me just as I grabbed him.
“We can’t leave Nina.” Genesis said with an almost irritated tone.
I stomached my hate for Nina for a moment and scanned the area quickly for Nina. When my eyes set upon the pool of blood left behind from Vixen’s torture, all that remained were the swiftly decomposing parts of her that were removed.
“Looks like she already got away. Let’s go.”This is a long story. A story that is both comedy and tragedy. It began here, when I was only sixteen and ended many years after. At the age of sixteen I watched my father die. I sought revenge for his death. I had completely lost sight of who I was and what I was going to be. But after that day, the first time I fought with CAPRA, I had finally reclaimed everything I had thrown away. My story was no longer about revenge. It was about finding the truth. That day was the day I stood before the seemingly endless abyss of the rabbit hole. I watched as the frantic White Rabbit himself beckoned me forward. It was only a matter of time before I fell in. And once I fell into that dark chasm, I would be trapped inside for a very long time.