Message from the Author

Just what is the void? Who are the Shadowborne? Why do these strange visions keep coming?

What is The Miraxis Index?

With every word, the mysteries deepen, and there's no way to climb out. Enjoy your foray into Chapters VII, VIII, and their Intermissions.

- Rospo Briccone

Chapter VII: Endis

The calm rumbling of the elevator was pleasing after the intensity of the mission we had just left. I was relieved that we had succeeded in our mission and left it all behind. All was well… yet I could not trace the origin of a strange presence I felt. I would soon discover that though we had escaped that perilous quest unharmed, we had not returned alone.

“How are you holding up? Are you feeling okay?”

Distracted in my own world, I focused my attention on Kaiyandra as she spoke. Through her words and wandering eyes, I could decipher that she was worried about my injuries. Little did she know that it was she who would end up suffering.

“I’m fine, don’t worry about me. I was just thinking that we were pretty lucky back there.”

“We were, but we used the tools we were given to get the job done and we did. I think it could have gone worse, that’s for sure.”

Though she worried much, her response told me she was as relieved as I was. In fact, I think she took the mission better than I did. Having to split up at the end is what concerned me the most. I hoped we would never need put ourselves in danger like that again.

“I’m glad we made it through together.”

I looked up as I spoke but when Kaiyandra did not respond, I grew suspicious. I bobbed my head back down to see he; it was happening once again. She held an emotionless face as she watched me; her eyes had become those same dark pupils as when she was under Shadowborne possession in the jungle. However, we were no longer in the Shadowborne nest. There were no twisted creatures to control her here.

“Gina?”

What had removed her from the hold in the jungle now appeared only to fuel the fire. Upon hearing her true name, Kaiyandra’s strange condition seemed to expand, the dark aura around her becoming much stronger. The air grew into a stinging freeze and the elevator slowed to a grueling halt. Her actions were influencing everything in the vicinity. Those dark eyes watched me and I tried with all that I could to return the poor girl back to reality.

“Kaiyandra, please…”

Her never-ending glare felt as if it would consume my soul. Eventually I realized that she was actually drifting to me, at a crawling pace and outside of her own control. What terrible powers possessed her? Had a Shadowborne force actually infiltrated the facility, had it done the impossible? My thoughts crossed and all the while, this dark figure approached me. Instinctively I backed up but I felt compelled to reach out to her. Maybe I could help her get out of this trance. I extended my arm as far as I could and placed my hand upon Kaiyandra’s shoulder. Unexpectedly, she suddenly stopped. There was a horrifying silence as everything stood still, but only for a moment.

“Sorry…”

Kaiyandra looked down as she raised her palm. She placed her hand upon mine in a gesture that I mistakenly assumed was a return to normality. Her pupils appeared to have returned but this was just an illusion. Her grip on my hand tightened as she instantly looked to me, falling back into the dark hypnosis. Everything was wrong all over again after that thin glimmer of hope. I was not intent on allowing this strange condition to take over her. I yanked my hand back and gave myself space to think. She continued to approach me like a stalking demon, her expression unchanging as her body came closer. Out of ideas, I tried one last attempt, one final plan of which I had little hope would prove successful.

Fortunate that the dark being was simply approaching and not physically attacking, I was able to grasp her hand with mine. I held on tightly, hoping that I could jump-start her memory. I wanted our pasts to reappear, our connected lives to become stronger than this darkness.

Several moments passed by… There was no effect, only the painful feeling that lingered inside me. The presence of corruption triggered by Kaiyandra’s close proximity in her current state seemed to scar my very being. The feeling could only be described as a slow death, as if my spirit was being softly pulled out of my body. Now cornered in the frozen elevator, I decided to expand upon my previous effort. Kaiyandra now stood inches from me, still drifting with that scary gaze, still coming closer with no life in her movements. With my last move, I placed my arms around her and held as tightly as I could. I could feel the darkness run through me, but I held out for a short time. I felt that this was my last chance, my last action that could help. Ultimately, it could have killed me.

“Marlin…”

As I heard her mumble my name, I could only hope that I had been successful. I felt the cold fade just a little and Kaiyandra’s gentle touch as she now held her arms around me as well, but it was too late. I began to slip down, my limbs failing. The darkness had done its damage, if only temporarily. My body was weak and I fell to my knees. Kaiyandra looked down to me as my grip loosened and my hands simply slid down her body. My vision seemed to flash back and forth and I only caught thin glimpses of what stood in front of me. I knew I was near the floor; I could see a shin, then an ankle. As I fell, I began to black out. She rushed down to me but my vision quickly blurred; in a disturbing instant, everything went black…

One loss of consciousness was already more than enough for a day. I felt sore all over but I tried to move my body to no avail. I appeared to be restricted and as I opened my eyes and looked around, I soon found out why.

Upon me lay Kaiyandra. I could only assume that she had blacked out as well. We still were on the elevator but how long had it been idle? I could hear it rumbling as it ascended through the facility. Had I only been unconscious for a moment? These thoughts subsided as I tended to Kaiyandra; she lay as lifeless as I had a moment before, her limbs simply hanging from her body without any control. Whatever had occurred temporarily removed my state of awareness; whatever it did to her had taken its toll.

Feeling much more in tune, I gently turned Kaiyandra so that she lay straight against the carpeted floor. I could hear her soft breathing; see her chest pulse slowly with the movement of her lungs. She was no corpse but her lifeless appearance said otherwise, she was in a deep loss of consciousness. Carefully, I grabbed her wrist and checked for her pulse. Her heartbeat was steady, but that did not mean that all was well.

“Gina. Can you hear me?”

I placed my hand upon her cheek, hoping that something, anything would reach her in this state. It was to no avail. I accepted that I could not bring her back from the apparent coma. As cautiously as I could, I gently lifted her up and held her in my arms. I needed to bring her to the medical floor; it was my only hope, her only salvation.

I awaited the elevator’s arrival to the dormitories so that I could take Kaiyandra back down to the medical floor. That was the only place I would find help. After a little bit of time passed, the elevator finally made it up to its original destination. The doors split apart to reveal the usual look of the floor but with one unusual difference.

“Whoa!”

The sudden exclamation of the figure outside the elevator startled me but I quickly recovered as I identified the person. It was the boy that Kaiyandra and I had seen earlier with another agent, the boy of the pair that seemed so lively. Though a little younger than myself, his every move gave the impression of a more childish nature. I would discover that this observation was accurate.

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to… Yeah.”

The boy stumbled on his words and while throwing me some curious expressions, finally he stepped onto the elevator beside me as I still held Kaiyandra. There was an awkward silence as I awaited the elevator’s return to the twenty-seventh floor. As the doors shut, the boy finally spoke.

“So… do you just carry sleeping bodies or what… is she gonna be okay?”

The boy spoke with an eager voice, one with a sound more lively than his image. He looked to me awaiting a response. Although I would usually be intrigued by this communication, I was too engulfed in my concerns to speak back effectively. I could not control my voice as it left my mouth crumbling but understandable.

“I don’t know… I’m taking her to the medical floor right now.”

Gathering my words, he slickly nodded. Following this gesture, he paused momentarily. With wide eyes, he looked straight to me in disbelief.

“Wait a second, are you like us?”

His sudden change of focus was a surprise to me, yet it gave me a great hint that he was just as different from the other agents as he had appeared when I first saw him.

“What do you mean?”

The boy stood still and seemed pleased just that I had answered him. I had a feeling about what he meant by his question.

“I mean like, how every other Miraxis Agent is a dull zombie with no sense of life.”

With that statement, he confirmed that he and the girl he knew were similar to Kaiyandra and I, an intriguing discovery that helped me feel just a little bit more comfortable in the isolated facility.

“Yes, we are the same.”

I kept my answers short for I had little capability to speak. The condition of my dear friend left me in fear and I could not control my nerves. The elevator was approaching the destination rapidly.

“Cool, I knew that we weren’t alone.”

In the boy’s choice of words, I could see that he was referring to the girl he had talked to earlier. She must have been his partner; they must have been another set of Agents, another Miraxis Pair. Although honestly interested, I had to take care of Kaiyandra first. The elevator doors slid apart and I was surprised to see the medical floor in front instead of the Defense Department lobby. I had no time nor reason to wonder why the trip had taken me straight there by pure chance. It was all the more convenient, for I expected it to stop elsewhere along the way.

“Excuse me.”

I felt rude to leave so quickly but I needed help for Kaiyandra immediately. I carefully held her as I headed over to the nearby nurse, the same one that had tended to me earlier.

“Oh my! Please, bring her in.”

The nurse sensed the emergency and threw open the door of one of the rooms. She appeared to press something on the desk outside the patient room just before she led me quickly through the door. I spotted a small bed and gently placed Kaiyandra upon it, her living yet loose body sat still, her heart beating but her brain asleep.

“Please help her. We were taking the elevator when she just… lost consciousness.”

I felt disturbed as I watched Kaiyandra lying there, still as a stone. What had gone wrong?

“Don’t worry about it sir, the Defense Department knows of this condition and how to control it. They have always been prepared for another one of these attacks and Sir Dusk personally knows what to do.”

The nurse spoke as she diligently moved about the room, bringing some strange electronic equipment onto a cart and leading it beside Kaiyandra. She spoke of the condition as a known event. I was relieved upon hearing that it was something that was manageable and the nurse’s confidence and veiled relaxation helped to put me at ease. My relief grew even greater when I spotted a man at the door that, although questionable at times, seemed as gracious as always when he entered.

“Xathoven, we recently picked up information on Kaiyandra’s condition. We know exactly what it is and how to take care of it…”

Sir Dusk was tall and powerful as he passed by me, leaving a strong hand upon my shoulder. Although we had crossed each other several times today, I was suddenly filled with hope from his arrival.

“Will she be okay?”

Sir Dusk turned to me and showed a little surprise just as I did. I raced the question out with all the fear that I held, I was not one to show much emotion but the situation made me feel weak… and guilty… and pained… so many dreadful feelings ran though me.

I felt deeply for my friend. I watched as the nurse moved Kaiyandra a little to keep her straight and I felt a part of myself drain. Why did this girl have the capability to move me in such a way? It was then that I realized what Kaiyandra really was to me; she was everything that I felt in this facility, everything I fought for in The Miraxis Index. Sir Dusk watched as all of these feelings rushed about me. He looked to me with a softer expression than usual and slowly led me towards the room’s exit as I watched Kaiyandra intently.

“Everything will be well my boy… Please rest for the night. You need to recover yourself.”

His words were soft as he spoke, he was trying quite hard to keep me calm and to some extent, it was working. Looking at Sir Dusk, I could see a different side of him I had not witnessed many times before, a side that maybe I had frequently overseen. He kept his hand firmly upon my shoulder and patted me just before he let go. I looked once more to Kaiyandra as the wise man took me just outside the door.

“You really care for her don’t you?”

Sir Dusk’s words caught me by surprise yet they triggered a great embrace of warmth inside me, as if some suppressed feeling had been released into all of my form. I was able to turn my eyes from the distant Kaiyandra to him and answer him as truthfully as I could.

“She is my best friend… my only friend, I’ll be devastated if anything happens to her.”

A gentle smile from Sir Dusk comforted me within. To Sir Dusk, my words meant that I cared for Kaiyandra in all my time in the facility. To myself, I conveyed that I always held a part of my heart to this girl from the very beginning, before our meeting in The Miraxis Index, before our entwined deaths and shared memories, before everything that I knew. I really cared for this wondrous friend. Although it had been true for some time, it was now that I felt that friendship totally encompass me, now that she looked more vulnerable than ever.

“Please take care of her Sir Dusk.”

“I will do everything in my power to make sure that she gets the best care. She will be fine by the morning. Now you should rest yourself.”

I nodded to Sir Dusk and with a welcome smile; he promptly closed the door to the room and left me alone in the medical lobby. Speaking with him had raised my spirits a little and I was confident that all would go well with Kaiyandra, even though I did feel a part of me knotted in agony. I knew that I had done everything in my control to help and that all I could do now was go back up and sleep for the night. I wished that Kaiyandra would be safe as I strolled towards the elevator, now ready to head back up. The doors stood wide open and now, I could dedicate some time to this strange new boy.

“Hey-“

Beckoning me, the boy waved his arms in the air. I felt relieved as I approached him. I walked into the elevator and stood beside him. He did not appear much younger than I yet something about his mannerisms and speech kept a child-like characteristic about him.

“Will she be okay?”

Usually careful of what I said, I decided to speak informally and in a friendly manner to this boy for he seemed only curious. It was difficult to see malice on his side.

“I think she will be okay… I hope she will be okay.”

“That’s great to hear…”

The elevator doors slowly closed up and neither of us were aware of its intended destination. Meanwhile, the boy continued to break the silence in my favor.

“Is she your partner? Are you guys a Miraxis Pair?”

He continued to delve deeper but I felt that this information was not dangerous to disclose. I gladly replied.

“Yes, we work together.”

“Hmm… maybe I’m a little late, but here-“

Although I expected some kind of item by the random nature and direction of his statement, what the boy offered me was his hand.

“The name’s Sorin.”

He anxiously shook my hand and I could not help but be amused by his giddiness. There was something charming about him.

“It’s very nice to meet you Sorin, I’m Xathoven.”

Our hands continued to shake and upon completing the gesture, I picked up one important observation. We experienced no vision of any kind, some evidence that our pasts were not linked.

“It’s good to see that we’re not alone. I was starting to think that all the other agents were the same, then Allyia and I spotted you two the other day and we knew you were like us.”

“Allyia… she’s the girl you were speaking to this morning, right?”

The boy let out a short grin of amusement and briefly inquired.

“Oh, did you see us this talking? We didn’t even notice you.”

“No? Then when did you see Kaiyandra and me?”

I had narrowly dodged stating her real name instead of Kaiyandra, for it had become second nature. Upon hearing the name, he snapped his fingers and smiled.

“Kaiyandra! That was it! Sir Dusk mentioned her.”

I frowned when Sorin mentioned that statement. Why had Sir Dusk spoken of Kaiyandra?

“What did he say?”

The boy flipped his palms and shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, he was saying stuff about how exposure to Endis can sometimes cause problems and something, something, blah. I wasn’t really listening that much. Anyway, the point is that Allyia went crazy on me and was acting like a ghost. She’s in the medical center too. When we arrived and a nurse took her in, Sir Dusk showed me how his people were tracking Kaiyandra’s vital signs and picking up another surge of Endis or something.”

What Sorin had just revealed to me was an astounding connection. Not only had this other lively agent been affected by the same condition as Kaiyandra, but also Sir Dusk had told this boy that it was related to Endis. What did this all mean?

“So, Allyia is suffering from the same symptoms as Kaiyandra…”

Although I made the link in my head, I felt a need to repeat it in aloud. Sorin nodded back to me.

“Yeah, that’s weird. They are both girls you know. Do you think that has something to do with it?”

“Maybe… I’m not sure…”

We both scrolled through our thoughts trying to make sense of these events. Mission one was complete and all it had brought was some scary moments and bigger concerns. Regardless of the dark times, I was infinitely relieved of the care Kaiyandra was now receiving.

“Sir Dusk told me that they know how to handle the condition. Kaiyandra will be taken care of overnight and I assume that the same goes for Allyia. I hope they both end up well.”

“He told me that too, I guess we will just have to wait…”

As the boy finished speaking, the elevator’s constant rumble fell to a halt and all was quiet again. The soundless split of the elevator doors revealed the dormitory floor where I had nothing left to do but sleep. Sorin appeared to be heading to bed as well.

“Hopefully we can see each other again Xathoven. Maybe next time we can all meet, the four of us I mean.”

“That would be nice; it’s possible that tomorrow we will cross paths.”

Sorin slowly backed out of the door and smiled as he waved.

“I hope so. I’ll catch you again Xathoven, ciao!”

Sorin turned and headed down a distant corridor at a quick pace.

He disappeared around a far corner and upon his leave; I stepped out of the elevator myself and walked to my room. Meeting Sorin and hearing Sir Dusk’s words left me feeling a little enlightened after seeing Kaiyandra in her condition. I could only hope for the best.

I ran my card through the slot and opened my room, pushing the door as I entered and closing it once on the other side. My room held very little in terms of comfort and without Kaiyandra, even though she had only stayed for one night… It felt even more unusual. All I looked to was the bed as I decided it was finally time to rest. After all that had occurred, it was unsurprising that so much ran around my thoughts. The Shadowborne forces had proven to be such strong foes, weak in physical combat but evidentially powerful in the realm of supernatural and psychological warfare. In great numbers, they became a grave problem. I remembered that, as Kaiyandra mentioned, things could have gone much worse and the mission truly was a success. Regardless of this, I could only think to myself; how many risks were there?

Everything began to go wrong once we had planted the bomb, with Kaiyandra leaving on her own and me proving incapable of beating the countdown out of the structure. All of these moments were nothing in comparison to the darkness that engulfed Kaiyandra, an image so painful for me to see again in my mind. I was helpless to take her out of that force, out of that pit of evil. Maybe I had just before I lost my consciousness but I could never be sure. Just thinking of her suffering made me feel ill.

I needed to think differently. What of Sorin and Allyia? I had finally met an Agent that was active and open to dialogue. Speaking with Sorin lifted my spirits in the dark facility. That sinking feeling of being the only pair with a presence was eliminated upon speaking with the boy. It was now confirmed that there were at least two additional “proper” Miraxis Agents in the facility and I was so glad to encounter one after all the time that had passed. I intended to keep many things between Kaiyandra and myself but this other pair was a great backup plan in many ways. They could prove to be sources of information as well as worthy allies in the future.

As things seemed to fall in the void, they equally appeared to rise. Progress in this afterlife was a balanced procedure, a fluctuating timeline of variations. As one thing went wrong, another went right. There was an equal opportunity of thriving in a great day, or suffering a horrible day in The Miraxis Index… Ironically, I did not know how to classify this day. If Kaiyandra had not been under those terrible conditions, it would have been a great day. I looked so forward to seeing her in the morning.