- “Denizens of light, answer this: Why do you hate the darkness?”
Xemnas is a major antagonist of the Kingdom Hearts series, serving as the main antagonist of Kingdom Hearts II and the first leader of the antagonistic Organization XIII. The Nobody of Terra-Xehanort, and by extension Terra and Xehanort, Xemnas is an extremely powerful Nobody holding dominion over all other Nobodies in a vein similar to his Heartless counterpart Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.
Being the founder of Organization XIII and apparently the oldest of Nobodies, Xemnas is truly emotionless and does not even remember what it was like to have these feelings. He claims that this allows him to have a clear understanding of the heart, but in reality, this has warped his mind into believing that only anger, hatred, and other negative emotions make up a heart.
His lack of emotion deprives him of remorse over his actions, as well as the loss of the other members of the Organization. The only thing he truly cares about is Kingdom Hearts and his desire for power, and even laments it when it is damaged. However, on some occasions, he has appeared to value friendship, as he is shown to converse with the armor of Aqua in the Chamber of Repose and desperately seeks to find Ventus in the Chamber of Waking, although this is likely due to the influence of Terra within him. Unlike the other members of the Organization, Xemnas does not seem to want Kingdom Hearts for a true existence. Rather, much like his Heartless counterpart, he wants it to use it to obtain power and remake the universe in his image. This concept is furthered as Xemnas thinks that nothingness is the source of much power and does not seem to despise it in the slightest. This goal stems from that of one of his two original personas, Master Xehanort, whom also desired to unlock Kingdom Hearts for the same purpose in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
In other matters Xemnas speaks with calmness and deep authority, strangely similar to Eraqus. He has a tendency to be overly dramatic, making long-winded speeches, exaggerating his false rage and sorrow with wide sweeping arm movements and hand gestures. These exaggerations are representations of his lack of emotion. He's very intelligent overall, and knows how to manipulate others, particularly Sora and his friends.
Xemnas' personality seems to share traits from both beings who composed his original persona, Master Xehanort and Terra. From the former he inherited his manipulative nature and the ideas for the black coat and adding the letter "X" to rename himself and his fellow Organization members. It is unknown how much he inherited from Terra, but there is at least the familiarity with Aqua's armor and his desire to find his other "friend" in Castle Oblivion, Ventus.
Though generally presenting himself as calm and reasonable, Xemnas is not above being insulting or condescending, as shown when he insulted Lea during the final battle at the Keyblade Graveyard, belittling his efforts to become a Keyblade wielder and comparing him unfavorably to his Nobody Axel. When Xion came to his defense, he likewise talked down to and insulted her.
However, Xemnas is not entirely wicked; before his death, he showed some small measure of remorse for his actions, particularly in how he had sent his fellow Nobodies to their demise with little care and took them for granted, only to realize after they were all eliminated that he was now alone, belatedly coming to appreciate their companionship before his own end.
Xemnas is a human-like Nobody who has amber-orange eyes, dark skin (sometimes depicted lighter), and spiky silver hair, much like Xehanort. Xemnas' hair is long, reaching to about mid-back and over his shoulders. Due to being created from a possessed Terra, Xemnas shares features with him, including a similarly layered hairstyle, and an identical face, albeit being older and having darker skin. Like all the Organization members, Xemnas wears the basic black cloak, boots, and gloves.
Powers and abilities
As the leader of Organization XIII, Xemnas wields the element of Nothingness, and manifests this as blades of energy called the Ethereal Blades. In his first appearance, Xemnas displayed superhuman abilities such as strength, agility, and acrobatics. He can also teleport, fly, and create energy barriers to shield himself. This latter ability possessed an offensive nature in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, which would also fire out a set of powerful lasers. In Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas could trap opponents with dark energy that slowly drains his opponents' health, the same attack he uses to encase Sora in a field of dark energy that steadily drains his health.
In the final battle of Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas' powers increased dramatically, giving him control over darkness, light, and Nothingness. While in his armor and aboard the World of Nothingness, Xemnas had access to the powers and weapons of his fallen Organization comrades, such as Xaldin's lances and Demyx's power over water. Xemnas could create copies of himself, summon torrents of white and black thorns, and use an advanced form of his signature ability to summon thousands of Ethereal Blades.
Xemnas' weapons, the Ethereal Blades (エアリアルブレード Eariaru Burēdo , lit. "Aerial Blades"), are rods of solid red energy that extend from the palms of his hands. He can create or disperse them at will, and is able to change their length as well. They do not appear to have cutting ability despite their appearance, but they are observed being used as blunt or melee weapons akin to a club. Besides using them as melee weapons, Xemnas can fire them as laser-like projectiles. The Ethereal Blades can also be suspended or created midair to surround a target before firing at them.
Xemnas appears as a secret boss under the name Unknown. He is present at Hollow Bastion; his power is sensed by the Princesses of Heart and they instruct Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Beast, to investigate the situation. At the chapel, Xemnas walks through Sora, intangible, causing Sora to experience many of his memories in rapid succession. Sora asks who the man is, and Goofy wonders if it is Ansem, and though Xemnas says he is familiar with the name, he does not clarify how or who he is. He then launches an energy attack at Sora, who manages to barely deflect it. Xemnas remarks Sora looks like "him", and is not complete. He then attacks the Keyblade wielder, intending to test his power. After an intense battle, he backs off, almost appearing to be defeated, but quickly abandons the facade. He explains that he finds Sora fascinating, and says that they will one day meet again and disappears, but not before making an ambiguous comment on how he is but "a mere shell".
Xemans, accompanied by Demyx, Xaldin, Xigbar, Luxord, and Saïx, meet Sora and his friends Hollow Bastion, but is unrecognizable by Sora. The Organization taunt and mock Sora, only angering him, before returning to their base. Xemnas primarily remains at the Castle That Never Was while the other Organization members travel to different worlds, stirring up the Heartless and driving Sora to defeat them.
During the early stages of the Battle of the 1000 Heartless, Xemnas comes to Ansem the Wise's computer room, where he opens a path to the Chamber of Repose. He enters the Chamber, located below the Heartless Manufactory, where he visits the armor of Aqua and briefly speaks with it. He then goes to the Great Maw, where he looks upon the Heartless army that had temporarily halted. King Mickey, upon seeing his face, finally remembers that Xemnas is the Nobody of Xehanort. Xemnas leaves the battlefield, but King Mickey gives chase and engages Xemnas in combat, while Sora, Donald, and Goofy are blocked from following by the Heartless.
After an exhausting battle, the three make their way to the cliff overlooking Villain's Vale, finally catching up with the King. Sora demands to know where Riku and Kairi are, but Xemnas claims to know nothing about Kairi while telling Sora to ask Mickey about Riku. Then, he vanishes into a corridor of darkness, followed by Mickey. At some point, Xemnas shakes Mickey off his trail and returns to the World That Never Was.
When Sora and company arrive at the Castle That Never Was, Xemnas is standing upon the highest tower of the castle, asking Kingdom Hearts to share its power with all Nobodies. Saïx then appears, asking whether Kingdom Hearts is complete. Xemnas says it is nearly complete, and orders Saïx to finish Sora and his friends off.
After all Organization members save for himself had been eliminated, Xemnas comes to greet Ansem the Wise, who had been attempting to digitally seal Kingdom Hearts away. The former pupil mocks his teacher, stating that he is the source of all Heartless, for inspiring his student to go where Ansem himself did not dare to venture. Though Ansem admits that his foolishness was the source of much misery, he questions Xemnas on how this was what he had been seeking. Ansem's Encoder overloads and explodes, seemingly killing Ansem, and causing massive damage to Kingdom Hearts itself, ruining Xemnas' plans. In the fray, Xemnas flees back to the top of the castle.
Sora and the others then travel up to the very top of the tower, where they find Xemnas lamenting the damage done to Kingdom Hearts. He asks the three Keyblade wielders to fetch him more hearts, and when they refuse, he proceeds to face Sora one on one in Memory's Contortion, a phantom version of Memory's Skyscraper, where Riku once fought Roxas.
Although Sora fends off Xemnas and is returned to the Altar of Naught, the Superior is not yet defeated, and reappears before his Kingdom Hearts urging it to join with him to grant him the power needed to destroy his enemies. Sora and the others try to stop him, but Xemnas fuses with Kingdom Hearts anyway. Fortunately, the worlds create a door for Sora and the others to enter. They follow Xemnas into Kingdom Hearts, but they see that Xemnas has taken its power and transformed the realm into a place resembling the World That Never Was with a giant fortress in the middle. He hurls a building at them, causing Kairi and Mickey to be separated from the others, but even so, Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku proceed. Xemnas dons Xehanort's Keyblade Armor and uses a combination of powers from his fallen comrades to battle them, but he is still defeated. Following this, Xemnas apparently fades into darkness.
- “If Light and Darkness are eternal, then surely we nothings must be the same... Eternal.”
- ―Xemnas to Riku and Sora
With the help of Naminé, Kairi, Donald, Goofy, and the King get safely to Destiny Islands, but before Sora and Riku can follow, Xemnas attacks once more, having merged with a gigantic mechanical dragon. After another clash, Xemnas takes Sora and Riku to a realm of nothingness, with Xemnas wearing a robe representing both light and darkness. Throughout the following battle, Xemnas assaults them with streams of Nobody thorns, spheres of energy, body clones, and barrages of Ethereal Blades. He also knocks away Sora's Keyblade and attempts to forcibly extract Sora's heart, but Riku comes to Sora's aid each time. After he and Sora successfully defend against a bombardment of Blades from all directions, Riku takes a crushing blow while defending Sora. However, he passes Sora Way to the Dawn, and Sora deals a flurry of powerful strikes to Xemnas before he and Riku use Sora's Keyblade to fire a beam of light through Xemnas' chest, mortally wounding him. Xemnas then finally fades into darkness, making him the last Organization member to fall.
The game introduces Xemnas at the gates of Twilight Town where he has discovered Roxas shortly after the boy was created from Sora losing himself to darkness. Piqued at Roxas' nature as the Nobody of a Keyblade wielder, Xemnas gives Roxas his name to officially induct him as the Organization's thirteenth member, taking him to The World That Never Was where he introduces Roxas to the rest of the Organization.
On Roxas's sixth day in the Organization, he meets Xemnas at the Dark Margin. Xemnas tells Roxas that he has been to see Sora and remarks that they look alike. Roxas asks Xemnas who he is, but Xemnas answers cryptically before asking Roxas if he knows his own real name. As he leaves the beach, Xemnas calls Roxas, "Sora".
Once Roxas is inducted into Organization XIII, Xemnas makes use of Roxas's ability to use the Keyblade to release captured hearts and use them to form Kingdom Hearts. At the same time, he uses his experiments on the Replica Program and creates a clone of Sora. The result is Xion, who Xemnas hopes to use as an alternative in case Sora proves useless to his plans. To that end, Xemnas plans to have Xion gradually develop Sora's abilities and then merge with Roxas to become a complete clone of Sora.
Xemnas sends the members of Organization XIII on their missions to further their plans while placing Xion in the care of Roxas. Xemnas eventually extends their operations to Castle Oblivion. With this fortress in his control, he sends five Organization members, Marluxia, Larxene, Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion, to conduct experiments on memory with the use of Naminé who is being held prisoner by the Organization. Xemnas places Marluxia in charge of Castle Oblivion and charges Vexen with the task of continuing the Replica Project. Xemnas was also the one who handed down the order to Marluxia to lure Sora to Castle Oblivion and experiment with the hero. However, once the Dusks brought back rumors of traitorous activities occurring in the castle, Xemnas sends Axel to neutralize the threat. Additionally, he instructs Axel to search for Chamber of Waking within the castle.
Xemnas' plans falter when five Organization members are eliminated and Naminé escapes, but Xemnas continues his plans for Xion, placing Axel in charge of capturing her whenever she tries to escape the Organization. He would also repeatedly send Axel back to Castle Oblivion to continue searching for the Chamber of Waking, to no avail.
By the ninety-third day following Roxas's induction into the Organization, Xemnas gathers the rest of the Organization atop the Altar of Naught to see their Kingdom Hearts come into existence following the three months Roxas and Xion have been gathering hearts for it. Giving a speech about how they will regain hearts, but not be swayed by their recovered emotions, Xemnas ends their meeting and sends the other members back to their missions.
To fuel their Kingdom Hearts until it was "ripe" enough, Xemnas orders the other members to do all they can to create powerful Heartless for Roxas to defeat. Later, after Xion starts becoming more and more powerful—which drains Roxas of his own strength—he arranges for Roxas and Xion to fight, deeming it unnecessary to have two Keyblade wielders in the Organization.
On Day 354, after Xion escapes for the last time, Xemnas assembles the Organization in the Round Room, and he, Xigbar, and Saïx inform everyone of Xion's nature and the Replica Project. Xemnas sends Axel to retrieve Xion, and he brings her back to the Castle That Never Was before fainting. Xemnas reprograms Xion and sends her to absorb Roxas. However, Xion is defeated and absorbed by Roxas. As she fades away, Xion tells Roxas to free Kingdom Hearts and prevent Xemnas from getting it, as he would use it only to gain supreme power. Xemnas and Saïx meet in the Round Room to discuss Xion's defeat, and Xemnas orders the retrieval of Roxas.
In the last Secret Report, Xemnas reveals that his true reason for his lust for Kingdom Hearts, rather than acquiring a heart, is becoming a great being and remaking the universe in his image. He refers to the conquest of all that lives as his "true" goal that no other member knows of save Xigbar, possibly stemming from his previous existence as Xehanort.
- “Sora...the bits and bytes that have made up your life so far...can you say for sure they're not just copies of someone else's?”
Despite his destruction, Xemnas returns to the Realm of Light, thanks to Young Xehanort, and encounters Sora numerous times during his Mark of Mastery exam inside the Sleeping Worlds. At Prankster's Paradise, he claims that Sora is not so different from himself, while at The Grid he reveals that the world is the basis of Space Paranoids, while also getting Sora to question whether he was acting of his own free will, or merely following "his program".
Finally, in the World that Never Was, Xemnas appears before Sora and explains to him that the true purpose of Organization XIII was to find twelve vessels for Master Xehanort to place fragments of his own heart and make into clones of himself, but the unforeseen independence of each member made this impossible to realise, despite Xemnas' lies about Nobodies not having hearts to earn their cooperation. Xemnas tells Sora that he is Master Xehanort's intended final vessel of the new Organization, but Sora refuses and engages Xemnas in battle once again. Though Xemnas loses the fight, he succeeds in damaging Sora's heart and retreating to the Castle That Never Was.
Later, Xemnas appears in Where Nothing Gathers along with Master Xehanort, Ansem, Xehanort, Xigbar, Saix, and the other members when Riku arrives with Mickey to rescue Sora. When Master Xehanort attempts to turn Sora into the thirteenth vessel, Xemnas stops Mickey from reaching him, but Lea, Donald, and Goofy arrive and foil Master Xehanort's plan. Xemnas promptly flees with the rest of the Organization.
Xemnas appears as a primary member of the new Organization XIII.
- Xemnas' name, like other Nobodies, is an anagram of his original's name with the letter X; his is derived from the alias his human form took when he assumed the identity of his exiled mentor, Ansem.
- The names of Xemnas' various Ethereal Blades seem to be references to iron-fisted leadership, most likely to represent his authority over the Organization.
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