Message from the Author

Now that you've indulged yourself with Chapters I, II, and their Intermissions, it's time to dive deeper into this strange new world.

Welcome to the second week of the Free Release of The Miraxis Index. If the first two chapters left you wanting more, you'll be happy to know that this week's release includes Chapter III, Chapter IV, and their respective Intermissions.

Enjoy, and thank you so much for reading!

- Rospo Briccone

Chapter III: Campaign

It felt as if only a few short moments had passed when I awoke. Such an awakening was against my will as a series of beeps and chirps from some forsaken corner of my room shocked me to my feet. As annoying as the sound was, it had served its purpose and I was sleepy no more. I took a glance around the room, focusing my eyes on my surroundings. I stumbled around in an attempt to get myself up and active. My actions were interrupted by a droning artificial voice.

“All Miraxis Agents please report to the Defense Department lobby on the twenty-seventh floor. Mission Objectives will be established today. I repeat…”

The monotonous voice continued while I grabbed the bag that I had been supplied the previous day. As I retrieved the container, I noticed something very peculiar. Upon the table beside my bed sat a digital clock. I watched as the time ticked forward… However, the numbers were surely advancing too quickly. It struck me when I realized that every second that went by moved two seconds forward according to the strange clock. The seconds were always at an even value and it was as if time was twice as fast. I assured myself that the clock must have been broken and turned my mind elsewhere. Sure that I had everything that I needed, which was only the messenger bag, I headed over to the door of my room and stepped out into the corridor of the floor.

There were many people walking around, chatting as they moved in different directions. All of these people must have been other Miraxis Agents; I recognized a select few from the day before, from when I saw many relaxing in the lobby. I wondered how long it had taken them to adapt to the situation. I still felt a cold feeling inside, a deep knot that told me that all of this could be a lengthy and intriguing dream, yet every sense and encounter that I experienced put that thought far away. I was really dead; I was really in The Miraxis Index.

With some tight maneuvering, I managed to spot the elevator nearby but it was surrounded by long queues, in fact, every particular direction was filled with people. I was unsure of where to go.

“Excuse me…”

“Pardon me but…”

“Can you please help… me?”

It was no hope; it was as if nobody acknowledged my existence. I stood as people walked by, staring straight forward with complete ignorance. Was I not visible? Could they not see me? I stood in disbelief that nobody could even react in any way to my words. Then, the world around me seemed to darken. I was caught by surprise when a wave of dizziness seemed to rush through my body…

Everything began to fade abruptly into a burning shade of blood red. I felt myself getting weaker; something was severely disorienting my body. I began to fall to my knees. My heartbeat was racing. What was this? Was this the cursed approach of another distant memory? I felt a great sting in the back of my neck. My muscles weakened and I began to topple when suddenly…

I appeared to be standing straight up. All of the things I had just seen vanished from my sight and it were as if I had not experienced that short, disturbing moment. I looked around, my eyes rapidly scanning the area. This strange phenomenon had struck me so suddenly, and just as quickly, had left me. My heart raced… This dark place was beginning to make me uneasy and I felt very uncomfortable. As time passed, The Miraxis Index left me with disturbing thoughts and a more demonic taste. The air was cold and everything seemed to be covered with the aura of death. My feelings about the facility shot against each other in my bustling mind. Truly… everything was dead.

I put my hands on my head as I wondered of the things that I was experiencing. What had I done to end up in The Miraxis Index? How had I died?

There was no point in thinking this way, I would never progress, never move forward if my mind dwelled in the past. The feelings I held the day before had not carried over and this strange new world was temporarily unwelcome in my state of mind.

Only one thing could change my state of emotion… A friendly presence of warmth rushed through my body as I felt a gentle palm grasp my arm.

“Hey… are you okay?”

I slowly lowered my hands from my face to see the figure of that young woman, Kaiyandra, standing before me. There was something peculiarly comforting about her presence, something that it only took me a glimpse to realize in its entirety. Here stood this innocent figure, gazing at me, a sad look upon her face. She was looking at me, concerned for me, as many people strolled by, refusing to take any notice of me. They passed like ghosts, with faces unnerved and hearts of darkness.

“I’m fine thank you… thank you very much.”

Kaiyandra nodded and promptly removed her grasp of my arm; it was to my disappointment as the cold feeling rushed back through my blood. She looked to me intently.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

In an apparently natural gesture, she tilted her head ever so slightly as she spoke.

“Yes, I think so. I just feel a little sick, a little disoriented.”

“I felt sick too when I first arrived here, but don’t worry, the illness fades with time.”

Curious of her past in the facility, I began to inquire.

“How long have you been here?”

“Oh, I only just arrived a couple of days ago; it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. It’s the time that makes days feel so short.”

It was clear that she also sensed an eerie shift in the property of time, enough to prove that there was something strange about the schedule in The Miraxis Index, as well as sufficient evidence to explain the behavior of the clock from my room.

“So time really is twice as fast here?”

Kaiyandra nodded as she spoke.

“When I talked to Sir Dusk, he told me that as a side effect of The Miraxis Index, we can only be active for half the time we could be on Earth. He said that the clocks are just like that so that the local time makes sense with how long we can stay awake. If we get used to seeing the time, our bodies will eventually get used to it too.”

Her eyes scrolled around for a moment, rethinking her previous statement just before she reiterated her words.

“Well, I guess it would be better to say no, time isn’t really twice as fast. We’re just only awake for half the time.”

“That’s interesting; it seems things work so strangely in this… realm.”

I could not quite choose a suitable word as the description of The Miraxis Index. My awareness of two worlds, one living and one dead, led to the use of terms I otherwise would have neglected. Kaiyandra was about to speak when a voice rang out once again.

“All Miraxis Agents are to report to the twenty-seventh floor…”

With a sweet smile, Kaiyandra glanced to me and nodded.

“Looks like it’s time for us to go. Here, follow me.”

I had no choice but to follow as she tightly grasped my hand and yanked me towards an isolated area at the end of the large corridor in which we stood. There were no others in the vicinity.

“Yesterday morning, I couldn’t get to the elevator because of all the traffic, just like today, but I found something interesting while I waited for the lines to clear. Take a look.”

Indicating for me to look in said direction, Kaiyandra let go of my hand pointed to the nearby corner of the current floor. She guided me over to see something that seemed a little problematic. Just in front of us, I could make out a dimly lit staircase that went down, turned to the right, and then down once more, out of my line of view.

“A staircase? You want to take stairs from the hundredth floor to the twenty-seventh? Isn’t that a bit much?”

Kaiyandra turned towards me and chuckled.

“There’s nothing to worry about. Just trust me for a second…”

In this particularly dark corner of the hundredth floor, I could not help but feel a little nervous as Kaiyandra proceeded to lead me down what appeared to be a staircase void of any others. After a short trip down the first set of stairs, the path was already over and we stood in a large room. This area was designed just as the others; however, it was completely empty. It appeared to be an incomplete room, or possibly a room entirely unused.

There was a very peculiar ambience to the silent and empty floor. I could not help but stand still as I inspected the room from my vantage point. I did not understand how an entire floor could go to waste for no reason, but I found that my mind slowly shifted its focus until I began observing the mysterious character I travelled with, rather than my surroundings. No longer was I inspecting the empty floor, I was now watching the girl awaiting my arrival at the staircase opposite of my position.

“Hey Xathoven, are you coming?”

Kaiyandra was obviously different from the others. She had spoken to me, looked at me, and touched me, but most importantly, she cared. I could tell by the way that she glanced at me, by the way she took my hand with ease, unsuspecting of anything. I could tell by her simple questions. Somehow, she knew something that I did not, or maybe, just maybe…

“Kaiyandra…”

Unintentionally I spoke her name aloud, but the purpose of saying such was to see if it would trigger any kind of response in my mind. I wanted to see if there were eclipsed memories attached to that name, if there were emotional reactions or thoughts that could have risen. As I stood, dwelling in my thoughts, the figure I spoke of hurried towards me.

“Is something wrong?”

I watched as she approached, trying to find any clue, any kind of sign. I knew that it must have been awkward but I had to make a connection. When she arrived, she patiently awaited my response. It was curious how she seemed willing to wait for me. Yet she knew nothing about me, almost as if she were under a spell. Suddenly it struck me, just as she brushed aside a veil of her hair that blocked her view. Images flashed in my head as I tried hard to remember. I felt that strange sting in the back of my neck, as if the pain were meant to detour my thoughts…

I saw that familiar bridge again but to my right, I now caught a glimpse of a car passing by. In the backseat sat… Kaiyandra? Could it have been her? In the twisted memories around my supposed death, was Kaiyandra nearby? It was definitely possible but just as much so that my memory was wrong. If it was not wrong then it could have meant a lot. For somebody to have been so close to my death…

Steadily, my mind returned to reality once more and Kaiyandra looked to me with a concerned expression.

“Xathoven, are you all right? Maybe you need a quick rest, just a-“

“I’m sorry, I’m okay. It’s nothing really.”

Kaiyandra appeared somewhat distant for a moment. She placed a palm upon her cheek as she inquired.

“…is it me? I can leave you alone if you would like.”

“No, no, of course not Kaiyandra, don’t leave.”

She nodded but she seemed momentarily unconvinced. Nevertheless, she continued to lead me across the desolate floor and down the following staircase. Perhaps I was overthinking things. After a relatively short trip, we were suddenly in a sort of back entrance of the Defense Department lobby, floor twenty-seven.

“That’s it! We just walked down seventy-three floors.”

Kaiyandra grinned at me, expecting an expression of disbelief. Rest assured, she received such a response.

“But… How is that even possible?”

In the reaction of one with no understanding of what they just demonstrated, Kaiyandra shrugged with a giggle.

“I really have no idea…”

I felt an urge to laugh as well, but this manner of technology contained my temptation. I was busy trying to make realistic excuses as to how one could descend seventy-three floors in a matter of two sets of stairs. My efforts were quickly interrupted.

“Hey, those stairs are off limits, you’re not allowed to use them. Please get off.”

A sharp-looking man in what appeared to be the uniform of some type of officer hastily urged Kaiyandra and me to get off the stairs. We stepped off and turned to the officer.

“What are you two doing? You’re not supposed to go up there, how did you even get around me?

As I prepared to explain the event, Kaiyandra nudged her way in front of me to take over.

“I’m sorry officer, it won’t happen again. We just wanted to see what was up there, that’s all… really.”

“Don’t do it again, the floors above are unstable. It’s a good thing you didn’t go any higher, somebody might have gotten hurt.”

It was difficult to suppress my natural brow movement as I felt confusion over the officer’s words. He was claiming that the floor we had just traversed was dangerous. Maybe there was something Kaiyandra and I did not sense, but it surely did not seem dangerous to us.

“Of course officer. We’ll go now.”

As I followed the anxious Kaiyandra, the officer slowly left my view. Hastily, we turned a sharp corner back into the main lobby of the floor. There were many people waiting in the lobby; it appeared just as it had the day before. There were those holding private conversations, even a few goofing around. I could not help but notice a very small portion of the people appearing curiously idle, almost as if frozen in place. Still observing my surroundings, Kaiyandra led me to one of the many comfortable sofas placed against the walls in the large lobby. We both sat down eagerly and as I glanced around, I was pleased to see that Kaiyandra chose the seating location that was furthest from the people, just as I would have. I leaned back for a moment to relax my back as Kaiyandra pulled her legs up upon the comfy seat. After several silent moments, I finally spoke my mind.

“Kaiyandra, what was that back there? What was that officer talking about?”

Still searching for wandering eyes, Kaiyandra eventually relaxed and turned towards me.

“Sorry, I just wanted to make sure we were alone.”

Kaiyandra’s voice fell softly as she spoke in a lowered volume level.

“Yesterday I took those stairs down and there was a different officer standing guard at the bottom. He told me the same thing about the floors being unstable. I thought it was strange that he mentioned more than one floor, but even more, I wondered why he thought I had gone around him. The way he spoke made me think that there wouldn’t be any more guards; he said things as if that back area was never watched. So I thought I could go down again, this time with you. I guess there was another officer…”

Kaiyandra seemed to have fallen deep into thought and I gazed into nothingness as I tried to continue the conversation.

“So why would the officer tell you the stairs were unstable if we had just used them and they were fine?”

I realized that we had both come across the same conclusion when Kaiyandra quickly replied.

“…Because, he didn’t want the stairs to be used. But why not?”

Once more, we both fell into the traps of thought but I emerged with a few reasonable possibilities.

“Well, maybe the stairs aren’t supposed to be taking people through so many floors. On the other hand, maybe they want to put something on that empty floor… Maybe it’s just something that they are testing and they don’t want anyone to use it.”

They all sounded like viable reasons to me, and Kaiyandra seemed to agree.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Maybe we shouldn’t use it from now on.”

Kaiyandra awaited my approval and I swiftly nodded.

“Yes, I agree, but thank you for showing it to me; I appreciate the shortcut.”

With a thin smile, she nodded briefly.

“You’re welcome.”

We both adjusted our positions as we witnessed the sly entrance of Sir Dusk. Nobody seemed to take much interest until he let everyone know of his presence.

“Pardon me everyone; please excuse my interruption, if I may have your attention…”

Sir Dusk gave the grand lobby some time to become quiet. With impressive influence, he managed to get the attention of every soul in the room.

“Today, I will officially introduce you all to the second phase of this facility’s primary objective here in this strange and dark world. You may stand or sit as you wish; I will be harnessing the scale of this floor’s ceiling as a grand display.”

Some of the lobby’s lights were dimmed as all the people present in the room tilted their views upwards. Copying the actions of others that we spotted on the wall sofas, my new friend and I laid our heads back against the seat in order to get a comfortable point of view. We watched intently as the ceiling appeared to lift a significant amount in order to distance it from the viewers. Kaiyandra and I exchanged an amused glance as we realized that this mechanism was using the floor above to extend the view. That must have been why the area was off-limits.

“I believe I have spoken to everyone here individually over the last few weeks. Everyone should have a good idea of the situation here in the void. Today, I will be giving you all a quick briefing on our upcoming plans and efforts to complete the original goal of The Miraxis Index.”

The dim lighting was already giving me temptations to close my eyes but I fought the desire to rest. Thankfully, Sir Dusk’s strong voice continued.

“As I begin, I want to bid you all a great welcome to the Defense Department of this fine establishment. As new members of The Miraxis Index, you will all perform similar duties to those of Miraxis Agents of days long ago, mostly pertaining to combat against our common enemy.”

A gentle click rang through the room as a projector began to start-up. Its calm hum began to fade in as its mechanisms corrected their adjustments and displayed a blank white color against the ceiling area.

“I understand that it may be hard to grasp the scenario at hand but we must fight for the future of our souls and for the good of the true afterlife. We must fight the enemy in order to once again unlock the gates to the ultimate peace of Paradise.”

Sir Dusk gave some time to the viewers as the projector finally finished loading. On the temporary ceiling position, the machine drew high quality images to all of us watching. The display showed a top-view grid of the area outside of The Miraxis Index, which would be the area encompassing the dusty ground that ran around the facility.

“The great engineer, or possibly, engineers who designed this facility created a complicated system which allowed this building, as well as the small artificial land area around it, to stay safe and stable in this world. Any step into the darkness outside of this area would mean instant termination. Although we dwell as capable souls here in this facility, we are not meant to be able to do so. The technology holding this building still in the infinite void outside is the same one that allows us to see, breathe, taste, and touch. These are all privileges that would not be possible outside of Paradise and outside of our own Earth. Unfortunately, this advanced technology comes with a very heavy price. Out here we can die a second time, only this time, our death would be a permanent one. Since this is not a natural area in any way, our souls do not move on as nature intended and so death in this void or any of its locations would mean permanent erasure.”

Sir Dusk paused for a short while; he must have been observing our reactions. As he did so, the public appeared to be chatting back and forth with one another, everyone releasing their thoughts and comments on the situation. I turned to Kaiyandra to see that she was watching the screen intently. She spotted me and frowned.

“To die a second time… that would be terrible.”

“Yes, I think one death is already too many for anyone to suffer, but two?”

With a very slight nod, I could see Kaiyandra was in agreement. We both had similar thoughts on the matters of The Miraxis Index.

“We just need to be careful to avoid that…”

The sudden return of Sir Dusk’s speech disrupted any continuing thought by Kaiyandra.

“I’m sure you are all curious as to what our duty is and how it must be achieved. Well, as you know, we are unable to access what we have labeled Paradise, the perfect world where we rightfully should be. The theoretical entrance to Paradise, where our souls would pass through, is completely closed shut. We know that a dark presence lurks between the Earth and Paradise, a presence we refer to as the Shadowborne. The Shadowborne are souls just like us, but they have become corrupt. They are a collective of those whose spirits failed to reach Paradise or those who lived lives unworthy of a place in Paradise. As a result of this failure, the souls are locked out forever. We are not sure as to whether their inability to enter the perfect afterlife is the reason for their anger and hatred; or even if this is the reason they are trying to enter Paradise. All we know is that they are between us and our goal and so, they must be eliminated at all costs.”

Sir Dusk allowed a short viewing segment as the screen above displayed a series of images. Familiar pictures flashed on the screen, random images of forests, deserts, tundra, and all other sorts of environments.

“For those of you whose general memories have stayed relatively intact, you may recognize some of these images as our home planet of Earth. Our beautiful planet has been mimicked here, imitations of it used as the populated locations of the Shadowborne. In isolated areas of this void, the Shadowborne have created small and remote pockets where they may stay safe. These areas act just as The Miraxis Index, they are unaffected by the lethal conditions outside. In these isolated areas, all of the Shadowborne dwell. These are their homes, and as such, they must be eliminated immediately. Our primary objective is to travel to each of these areas and eliminate all Shadowborne present; then, we must destroy the area itself. Under the grand theory of all who have experienced The Miraxis Index, when all of the Shadowborne areas are eliminated, we will all be taken to Paradise.”

I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see Kaiyandra gesturing for me to lean towards her. Sir Dusk continued as she whispered.

“Xathoven, do you think it’s possible that Sir Dusk is misunderstanding the Shadowborne?”

“What do you mean?”

She shifted a bit closer towards me to keep our conversation private.

“Well, what I mean is, Sir Dusk is like the rest of us; he came here, just like we did. So, the point he’s missing is that nobody in this room could possibly understand what these spirits are doing. They could just be part of a natural process that no one here could ever understand. Do you get what I’m saying?”

The way that Kaiyandra spoke was with great curiosity and an open mind. As I was, she was already gathering her suspicions of the situation, ready to question the reality of the scenario. While all of the people present were just taking the information as it was given, Kaiyandra, like me, had already decided that there were great things to question. Why would the Shadowborne just appear and why would we have to do anything about them? What was the original intention of those who constructed The Miraxis Index? How could such a thing be built anyway? I was glad to see that she was wary of the whole thing because honestly, I felt like I was in the same lonely boat as her. We were the only ones interacting with one another.

“Yes, I understand exactly what you mean. As I see it, regardless of our suspicions, we should go along with this plan for as long as we see fit. We should also keep an eye on what happens around us and eventually, maybe we can find out what should really be done about the Shadowborne. Maybe we just need to see them for ourselves to make that decision.”

With attentive ears, Kaiyandra listened and acknowledged my words.

“Sure, I was just thinking that we should keep our thoughts between us since it seems that all the other people here are in a world of their own. It’s like we’ve been reading each other’s minds.”

Instinctively I nodded to this young woman, but deep in my mind, I felt a strange presence. A twisted thought struck my heart. I knew not precisely how much Kaiyandra knew of the current situation, but that did not matter so much because more importantly, I noticed she had not expressed a single counter thought to my own. Our thoughts never crossed in conflict. It made me wonder as to whether our minds thought alike, or possibly, if I was falling into a trap. Could she be trusted? The way she looked at me, and the way that she spoke to me… even the way that she had already taken my hand. Was it with dark intentions? For an intense moment, I looked right into her eyes and she looked back to me. I was unable to read her thoughts and truthfully, I cast aside lingering thoughts of that sinister possibility.

There was something about the way that Kaiyandra behaved that made me question her motives but at the same time, I noted that she was the only other person, outside of Sir Dusk and other staff workers, who had interacted with me so far. As I looked at her, I had to put aside the idea that she was working against me, at least I hoped that I was wrong to think so. Maybe I was reading too much into her similarities and agreements with me, but I knew that I would have to observe Kaiyandra carefully. I was glad to know she was on my side but soon, I hoped to find out why.

In an attempt to end my distraction I managed to look away from Kaiyandra, back towards Sir Dusk but it was to no avail. In response to my curious gaze to her, Kaiyandra placed her hand upon mine, and what was intended to be a friendly gesture triggered an unintentional result. I began to feel a little light-headed and I noticed that faded memory returning once again. I watched as my apparent death painfully played out. Only this time, something was different…

As I plummeted into the cold water, I could see Kaiyandra. Her body drifted in the water, lifeless in all aspects. I tried to swim towards her, but I could not move any of my limbs. I felt paralyzed… I became blinded as a series of bright lights appeared behind her in the dark water. I heard a loud rumbling noise as something great approached her still corpse…

As fast as I had seen it, the memory escaped me once more. By making physical contact, Kaiyandra and I had triggered our visions again. This was clearly becoming a frequent affair. There was only one difference between the current instance of this event, and the previous ones. Kaiyandra held her hand upon mine and kept a tight grip. By her weariness, I could tell that she had seen her corresponding vision as well I had, but she had other intentions. We looked into each other’s eyes as we had before, searching for more. Kaiyandra was attempting to see if more of the vision would appear by maintaining contact with me. After what was a long and awkward pause, she grasped my other hand with her remaining grip to see if the vision would turn up.

Nothing…

Fate would not have us see more. Evidently disturbed, Kaiyandra let go of my hands, turned away for a moment, and covered her face with open palms. Whatever had she seen in her vision?

“Kaiyandra… are you okay?”

There was no response for a moment; she was baffled by something she had seen. I glanced around for a moment. Thankfully, no attention was on us as the rest of the room still looked above to Sir Dusk’s presentation. Whatever Sir Dusk had to say drifted aside as I tended to Kaiyandra.

“…I’m sorry Xathoven.”

She turned to me deep in thought but she would not tell me what she had seen.

“What’s wrong Kaiyandra? Tell me, please.”

“I can’t… it’s nothing… really.”

Seeing her reaction, I thought that maybe her vision had been much more visceral than mine had; maybe she was seeing things that were beyond what I saw. Around the subject of death, she may have been experiencing disturbing images, or even dark events in her past. Regardless, I decided it was best to leave the subject alone and allow her some time to her thoughts. She stayed in a dull state as Sir Dusk continued his presentation above.

“…the Shadowborne will be eliminated and we will join the rest of the fortunate souls in Paradise. Starting tomorrow, this second campaign will come into effect. The first campaign was to set up a defense system for The Miraxis Index and now, we can finally get to work and rid this void of the Shadowborne. You are all free to return to your dormitories. Please be prepared for tomorrow for you will go through a thorough training session in assigned Miraxis Pairs and then you will be briefed on this structure’s tactical operations. You are dismissed.”

With a quick conclusion and satisfaction from his words, Sir Dusk bowed as he strolled back into his office, sure that there were no questions from his audience. The people around the lobby began to scramble towards the exits, heading for the elevator in packs. After the few minutes in which I left Kaiyandra still, we were the only ones remaining in the brightly lit lobby. There was not another soul in sight. I stretched my arms to a very pleasing feeling as my muscles relaxed. Kaiyandra let out a great sign as she finally got up. Clasping her hands together, she shook her head as she faced me.

“Xathoven… I’m really sorry, it’s just… I saw something in that vision that I just can’t understand… that I can’t believe.”

“Don’t worry about it. It will take some time for us to understand our visions, if we ever eventually do. It’s important to know that they are just visions. They may not be real, or may even be very different from how they really were. They are important to follow, but just as important to observe with care, maintaining the presumption that they are just visions. Do you understand?”

With thoughtful concentration, Kaiyandra appeared at least a little less in pain. Maybe my words had helped her push away the vision. It was a little ironic. The visions seemed so real and I was sure they were true, yet here I was, telling Kaiyandra that she shouldn’t think too much of her illusive experiences. Was it possible that our images were so different?

“Do you mind if I head back to my room? I think I need to lay down for a bit.”

“Not at all. I’m going back too, let’s go together.”

Ignoring the off-limits staircase in the back, we decided to just use one of the facility’s main elevators. This floor, as many others, had just a single lift. After a short wait, the elevator that sent the others back up returned. Leading Kaiyandra into the elevator, I stood still beside her as I gazed at the elevator’s panel, noting that it was programmed to head to the one-hundredth floor by default to take us back to our dormitories. Along the silent ride, I gave Kaiyandra a little space as she seemed to still be affected by what she had seen. I felt that she was heavily disturbed by something she had witnessed, and I had to accept that as much as I wanted to help and know about the issue, this particular vision was none of my business.

“I’m glad that I have someone for support Xathoven, thanks.”

Her gentle voice managed to take me by surprise since I was digging through my thoughts when she spoke.

“Oh yes, anytime.”

I was a little shocked by my own short and unprepared response but it made Kaiyandra giggle a little; she knew that I was wandering in my mind.

“Kaiyandra, you picked up everything Sir Dusk said, right?”

Slowly leaving her secluded feelings, Kaiyandra openly replied to me.

“Yes, I heard it all. He said we would begin training tomorrow; it’ll probably be harder than it sounds.”

“We should sleep well; we have quite a day ahead of us.”

As the last words left my mouth, the elevator’s calming hum died down and the feeling of internal momentum stopped entirely. With a swift opening of the doors, the familiar dorm floor was open to us.

Kaiyandra stepped through to the floor but I stayed in the elevator, my mind wandering around. As usual, I was thinking a bit much, allowing myself to lose contact with my surroundings.

“Hey, you okay there?”

I looked forward to see Kaiyandra facing me as I idled in the elevator.

“Yes I’m fine. Just thinking…”

Kaiyandra walked to me to pull me out of the elevator. She led me out and I continued to stand there, half daydreaming.

“Well, I’m off to my room now but I’ll see you tomorrow. Please be careful.”

“Yeah… I’ll see you tomorrow Kaiyandra…”

Before she left me, I could feel her presence as she looked at me; she knew that I was thinking, what I was thinking.

“Don’t worry Xathoven, everything will be all right. Have a good night, sweet dreams.”

Kaiyandra waved as she turned away slowly, approaching her room.

“Sleep well Kaiyandra...”

She was too far to hear my droning voice. I felt that she knew what I thought. The more she looked at me, the more I slowly believed that I was being read like a book.

There were a few people strolling through the corridors but I kept my focus upon Kaiyandra. She made her way to her room and slipped out her personal card. I watched as she swiped the card and unlocked her door. She looked over just before she entered her room and glanced to me once more. She simply smiled and disappeared behind the door.

I stood still just outside of the elevator almost disturbed. Kaiyandra was a sweet young woman with the heart of a child. She was so innocent yet here she was, in the middle of this powerful conflict, now being tasked with the elimination of some unknown enemy. Why was Kaiyandra pulled into this? I felt that maybe I had done things in my life that I was not proud of and that I did not consider myself pure, but Kaiyandra’s presence was contradictory to everything at hand. She did not seem to be the type to perform malicious actions; it was difficult to believe that her presence in this dark place was justifiable. I had to remember that I was still in my first days of knowing this girl, and that her innocence and her story may be fully revealed through time. Part of me wished that she were really the way that she appeared to be.

“Uhh…. Are you going to move or what?”

A deep and almost monstrous voice spoke aloud. I looked over to see a few men waiting to enter the elevator. I stood just in front of the entrance, like a dumbstruck obstacle.

“Oh yes of course. Forgive me.”

I shifted to one side to allow the men to enter. They slowly walked into the small machine with an almost robotic movement. They made no eye contact with me, not even a slight turn of the head. Standing almost hunched inside, they patiently awaited the elevator’s automatic actions. The men looked forward as the elevator began to close, and although I was in their line of sight, they made no gesture or expression towards me. The elevator finally closed tightly and zoomed downward. I leaned against the wall for a moment, looking back once again to the behavior of Kaiyandra.

So far, most of the people I had encountered in the facility were of no interest, not just to me but also to any sane person. Although Sir Dusk and the man who had originally introduced me had more personality, the other dwellers themselves seemed to be almost lifeless. That is, except for Kaiyandra. I knew that if I wanted to get anywhere in this place, I would have to stick with her. From the moment we met, it was clear that whatever past we had was connected. I had to stay with Kaiyandra to find any more clues to my memories, and I believed that she might have needed me in the same way. My discovery for her true motives would have to be a side-quest as I worked with her. Whenever I saw that girl, part of me felt… fulfilled.

I began to walk to my room as I rapidly felt a faint tingle of fatigue. Was this the shortened activity that Kaiyandra spoke of? It had only been a short amount of time and my body immediately began to become noticeably weaker. I was able to make it to my room perfectly fine but it felt as if my bones were aching and I sensed a growing headache. I swiped my card to open my dormitory and slowly pushed against the door to move in. The room had just a single dim light. This dark ambience fueled my desire to sleep and I slowly closed my door as I headed to my bed. I placed my small pack beside my bed upon the table. I looked at the clock to see that time had flown by since I had awoken. Was time really twice as fast here? Maybe Kaiyandra had an interesting point when she stated that it seemed more as if we could only be “active for half the time” when compared to life on Earth. This was a very quick day and it was apparent that this new schedule would take some getting used to. It seemed blazingly fast, the way that I was perfectly fine just a minute earlier and at this point, I was completely out of energy.

I lay down in my bed and the dim light shut off by itself, a convenient but eerie feature. I tightly shut my eyes and prepared to sleep. I had conflicting thoughts over the day that was to come. On one hand, Sir Dusk stated that it would be a thorough training day and that we should rest well and relax. On the other hand, my newfound friend Kaiyandra told me that there was nothing to worry about, though she herself appeared under more pressure than I. I was inclined to follow Kaiyandra’s words, for I already felt that a bond was developing between us, but truly, she knew not what was to come herself. We were being dragged into this fight, this war between good and evil, but who was good and who was evil? Were the words of the wise man of Sir Dusk to be believed so easily? Were we being tricked to fight something natural, something that was meant to happen?

Questions, questions, and more questions floated through the highway of my mind, none of them capable of discovering a clear answer. Whatever was to happen, I knew that my experiences this day had driven me to one of many important objectives. I decided that I would make it a priority to help this young woman, this strange yet familiar figure. It was an important goal in addition to my instinct to discover what past was hidden between Kaiyandra and me. As I dwelled in this ominous facility, I would also need to continue learning about my cryptic future, my wandering thoughts, and my lost memories…