The next day, Nirvana was ready to proceed with training as planned. She stood in the sparring room for about twenty-five minutes until she realized Atton was sleeping in. He had not had a peaceful sleep in many years.
“Atton!” Nirvana screamed.
He jolted up in bed and hurried to the sparring room.
“At –,”she started yell but Atton slapped his hand over her mouth.
"What?” he said with an irritable groan.
“You’re late,” she said sternly.
Atton looked at the wall behind Nirvana, then turned around, and looked at the wall behind him. He turned his sights back to Nirvana.
“There’s no clocks in here,” he wryly said, wiping the sleep from his eyes
“The sun,” she said pointing out of the window.
“Well, excuse me for not having a window in my room,” Atton snapped with a sardonic tone.
“Still, everyone else was awake while you were asleep,” Nirvana told him.
“Not my problem,” he said rudely.
“Watch your tone,” she said crossly.
“Yes sir,” he saluted her as if he were in the army.
“Ma’am,” Nirvana yelled.
“Says you,” Atton snapped. “Prove it.”
“I can prove it, but how dumb do you think I am,” she replied.
“You really don’t want me to answer that,” Atton told her.
“You are the most infuriating person I have ever met!” Nirvana shouted.
“You’re influrter… erternating or whatever you just called me,” Atton said quickly.
“Ahhh!” Nirvana shrieked in anger. “Peace, nirvana, tranquility,” she told herself.
“Now you’re talking to yourself,” Atton muttered.
“’Nirvana’ means, ‘a state of peaceful being’ and you are the exact opposite,” she snapped.
“Really; I just thought you’re parents were hippies,” he shrugged.
“Will you grow up, you stupid little prick!”
“Ohhhh,” Ralph said, “harsh.” Atton realized more people were watching.
“I’ll grow up, the day you fly back to India,” he smartly retorted, “Hindu bitch!”
“Ohhhh, racial hit,” Ralph said.
“Should he go there?” Reggie wondered.
“He shouldn’t go there,” Ralph shook his head.
Nirvana drew closer to Atton as if to strike him, but she stopped until there was just six inches between them.
“What, you gonna go cry to Zak to beat me up?” he said. “That’s all you do is boss people around.” “Don’t screw with me kid,” she warned, “cus’ I don’t need Zak to just kick your ass.” Nirvana exhaled deeply to compose herself. “We will continue our lesson tomorrow, when the sun is highest in the sky.” “Whatever, heck I was ready now, ‘peaceful being’,” he paused. Atton read the look on Nirvana’s face and ran the other way.
That kid is so annoying. He makes me want to rip out my hair and choke myself with it. Nirvana took a deep breath then smiled. She liked it. She liked how Atton opposed her, everyone else backed down. She like how he made her think about who she really was. Was she a real leader or just a kid abusing her power?
Their lesson did not continue tomorrow, or for the rest of the week for that matter. Each time they tried, they ended up fighting and, on one occasion, Atton ended up with a black eye and a fat lip.
“Now can we get through a lesson please,” Nirvana almost begged him.
“Well, since you said please. I’ll try not to be such a pain in your firmly toned ass,” Atton replied.
“Why do you have to crack jokes at a time like this?”
“I told you,” he said, “because you’re not.”
“We’re in the middle of a war,” she reminded him.
“I know what the hell’s going on,” he snapped. “Don’t you think I know better than anyone else? I know what goes on outside of these walls. I’ve seen it firsthand and I helped it happen.”
“I didn’t –,” she began.
“No Nirvana,” he sighed. God, you know, you’re just so uptight that it makes you afraid and it makes them afraid. It’s your job as a leader to keep them calm and ready because the more afraid you are, the more Vigor feels it. Fear is his weapon and weapons are his tools, as long as you are afraid you will never win.”
“So your jokes are ways of dealing with it?”
“Yeah,” Atton said still angry. “And… and don’t ever give me crap about stuff you think you know. Cus’ chances are you don’t know shit, Nirvana.” There was a loud banging on the wall, interrupting Atton’s rant. “They’re here,” Atton whispered.
“Ralph, Reggie, get the guns,” Nirvana ordered. “The rest of you, get ready.”
The banging grew louder and more frequent but suddenly, the banging just stopped. About five seconds later, part of Vigor’s army broke in.
“Atton, you ready?” Nirvana asked.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” he replied.
Atton had never had a clear sight of the army before. Now they looked even more gruesome.
Imagine a person; a man or woman –preferably an adult, of any race and take their skin off. Turn it inside out and throw it back on any way you want. Enlarge their canines about one inch and give them three-inch claws. Make both of their eyes hollow halls of black nothingness and take away the hair. Then make the brain protrude slightly through the skull and the grey matter run down the side of their face. Lastly, take away all free will and humanity and you have a member of Vigor’s army.
Vigor’s army lunged at them, but they were steadfast. Nirvana took on three at a time and everyone else was facing an enemy, all except for Atton. He backed away into a corner and quivered with fear.
“Atton,” Nirvana yelled, “do something.” As Nirvana said this, she took her focus off the enemy and allowed them to strike.
Zak ran to her but ten undead soldiers managed to restrain him and everyone else.
“Now,” it hissed, “your wonderful leader will die.”
It held her by the throat then threw her against a wall. It clawed into her stomach and stared into her eyes, whispering,
He raised his hand for one last slash, but before he could, twelve bullets crashed into the side of his head.
“Piss off, Derek.”
Atton repeatedly fired at its head until the skin and perverted flesh burst under the force of the bullets. Ralph and Reggie came out with the rest of the guns and Vigor’s army lost their advantage. They fled and gathered outside calling the Valinior Force out to them. Outside, the Army had an advantage because they were closer to Vigor, but the Valinior Force was not that foolish.
“Do you guys have grenades or bombs or some kind of explosives?” Atton asked frantically.
“Yeah,” Ralph said running back to the weapons room. He brought back a hand grenade. Atton readied the grenade and chucked it out of the hole made by Vigor’s army.
“Get down!” he yelled.
It detonated increasing the hole in the wall, but blowing the Army to bits and pieces all across the street in Airosfield. Afterwards, Atton ran to Nirvana.
“Are you okay?” he asked sincerely.
“No,” she said showing her stomach. There were five brutal claw marks across her stomach. Zak came ready with a warm wet rag, that Atton dabbed it across her abdomen.
“Why did you help me?” she asked. “I’ve been nothing but mean to you ever since you got here.”
“You would have done the same for me,” he said, unsure if she would have. The rag was soothing to Nirvana but it did not stop the blood from escaping. Due to the loss of blood, she passed out.
It was assessed that it would take at least two months to fix the walls without the proper materials. This would give Nirvana time to heal and it would give Atton a second chance to get to know Nirvana, without the arguments.
Lord, please forgive me for what I do. For I know not what I’ve done. –Marshall Mathers
Over the course of a couple of months, Atton and Nirvana became extremely close. He relayed all of his experiences to her as her wounds healed. They had not had a fight –a big fight, in about a month.
“So what was it like?” Nirvana asked.
“What was what like?” Atton asked, puzzled.
“Being trapped in your own body,” Nirvana clarified.
“Oh,” Atton breathed. He had never been asked this question and wanted to pick his words carefully. “It was… bizarre, you know? It was my body but he was controlling it. I could see myself doing all those things, but couldn’t stop,” Atton said staring into the distance. “Those two years were the longest two years of my life, they felt like an eternity.”
“To you and the rest of Airosfield,” Nirvana said honestly. “You did horrible things.”
“I didn’t, he did; I never had any of this planned. I didn’t want to be ‘Satan’s Spawn.’ I want the chance to say I’m sorry, for everything I’ve done. I mean,” Atton sighed and took a moment to catch his breath. “Look at all the pain I caused. My life could’ve been so perfect but… but life ain’t a fairy tale. You know, I prayed to God to give me the strength to have what it takes to carry on and I think he did.”
“Were you afraid?” she asked.
“I was terrified,” he shuddered, “but after awhile I just figured that being afraid was a waste of my time. Nirvana, I swear to you, the next time I see Vigor I will kill him.”
“Don’t be so eager to kill,” she warned. “Why hasn’t he attacked us yet?” Nirvana wondered.
“Because,” Atton said, “he is waiting for us to attack.”
“How do you know?” she asked.
“I’ve seen it. I could see all of his thoughts,” he told her. “Nirvana, I have seen his plan. He hasn’t thought of just the next battle, he’s thought of the years to come. He knows what to do if he fails. He has figured out every pitfall and consequence, Vigor has planned the next fifty years.”
“We’ll stop him before that happens,” Nirvana contested.
“We can’t,” he whispered. “This is how the Prophecy foretold it. Until our parts are done, we’re trapped in Airosfield.”
“Wha–,” she started.
“Nirvana,” Zak called, “I need to talk to you.”
“Excuse me, Atton,” Nirvana said getting up. She left the sparring room and met with Zak. “What do you want?” she said irritably.
“The time has come; months have passed, we need a plan if we want to defeat Vigor,” Zak told her. “He’s not coming after us; we have to go after him.” “Atton, come here,” Nirvana called.
“Yes,” he said.
There, right there was his mistake. Zak knew everyone addressed her as ma’am and when he didn’t, he knew something was wrong. Nirvana didn’t protest to this, which confused Zak. He figured out she must really like him because even he had to call her ma’am. “I know while Vigor controlled you, you had to have thought of some plan against him. We need some-thing to defeat Vigor; any ideas?” she asked.
Atton thought of Vigor’s plan. If he were to survive the next fifty years, he knew where he had to go.
“Just one, but we’re going to need help,” Atton replied.
“What kind of help?” Zak asked.
“We need to get to Limbo,” Atton explained.
“But all that’s there is Çaligo, Verüs, and Pugnä,” Zak told him.
“No, that’s all you’ve found,” Atton snapped. “Those three locations lead to this world, but beyond that is …something else.”
“What?” Nirvana questioned.
Atton paused for a moment. He had been given extensive knowledge of Limbo; well not actually given, he was born with it, “The Home of the Reaper.”
“As in the Grim Reaper?” Zak gulped.
“That’s the one. Why Zak, you scared?” Atton said, almost taunting him.
“No, of course not,” he lied. “I ain’t afraid of nothin’.”
“No weapon on this earth can kill Vigor,” Atton explained. “We need the scythe to kill him.”
“We can’t go in alone,” Zak said uneasily.
“You’re right,” Nirvana realized, “I will need a few, very brave men.”
“Don’t worry Nirvana, I’ll get them quiet. QUIET!” Zak roared.
“Thank you Zak,” Nirvana said.
“Yes ma’am,” Zak nodded.
“Now,” Nirvana addressed everyone. “I ask all of you one last time to join me. Join me on a mission that will take the band of but two more to complete, the courage of but a few. I will not lie, you may not return. Now I ask; which two of you are brave enough to stand by me?”
This time no one stood up. Everyone there had promised to stand by Nirvana, but when it came down to it, they feared more for their lives more than anything else.
“Not one of you will stand by me,” Nirvana said, surprised.
“All of you are nothing but a pack of little cowardly punks! You say you’ll stand by this woman but you just want someone to do all the work for you. You can all rot in a sack for all we care, because we are willing to risk our lives and you aren’t. So when this hellacious world is returned to normal don’t take any of the credit. Just know that you had your chance but were too scared.”
Zak hadn’t said a word. Atton had said everything and the surprise was evident on everyone’s face.
“So I ask you again,” Nirvana said smiling at Atton. “Who’s with me?”
Ralph and Reggie stood up. “We’re with you,” they gulped.
“Perfect,” Nirvana smiled, “now all the rest of you have chosen to face Vigor head on. Since Atton has been exorcized from him, he will be stronger than ever. Without Atton, Vigor is raw, untamed malice and well… vigor. I wish you all good luck and Godspeed.” The room was silent. Every person in there knew that they had really chosen to fight Vigor and in turn, they chose death.
“Zak, I want you to go and get my knife,” Nirvana said to Zak and, as usual, he hurried to perform her task.
“Zak’s not my brother you know,” Nirvana whispered to Atton.
Zak spent a few minutes rummaging through her possessions trying to find that knife. When he found it, he ran to Nirvana.
“Here’s your knife ma’am,” he said, handing her the knife.
“Oh, thank you Zak. Are you ready to go Atton?”
“Yeah, let’s do it,” Atton said eagerly.
They began their journey to the Home of the Reaper. Atton took them to where the first portal would have led Kip, Werly, and CJ if they had made it out alive.
“Here it is.” Nirvana whipped out her knife.
Atton recognized the knife. “That knife,” Atton began.
“It’s Vigor’s,” Nirvana said.
“It was mine,” he continued. “Before we got kicked out of our house, Vigor was in me and I didn’t know it. I would sit in my room just… silently hacking away at my flesh,” Atton demonstrated with his finger across his wrists. “I wanted so badly to die, but my dad’s experiments made sure I couldn’t. Then when Vigor came out, he used it to mark his victims. How did you get it?”
“By necessary sacrifice,” she responded. “Atton, you have power inside you, even without Vigor. This knife is useless to me, but you can use it to unlock Limbo.” She handed him the knife. He raised the knife and slowly lowered it, but nothing happened. Atton shook his head, “I don’t have any power, Vigor was my power.”
“No Atton, just concentrate,” Nirvana coaxed.
He raised the knife and slowly lowered it, this time he focused on Limbo. As he did, he opened up a rift that would transport them to Limbo.
“Whoa,” all the men said in unison.
Nirvana smiled at Atton, “See, you have power Atton. Who wants to go first?” Nirvana asked. “Ralph, Reggie, Zak… Atton?”
No one volunteered. “Ladies first,” Ralph said, shaking.
Nirvana rolled her eyes as she entered the rift closely followed by Ralph and Reggie. Zak pulled Atton to the side before they entered.
“You are one lucky soul Atton Brown,” he began. “I don’t know what she sees in you.”
“I don't know what –,” Atton stared.
“Don't lie,” he snapped. “Just know that if you break her heart I will break you. I’ll break you slowly and painfully, in way I can only describe as deeply agonizing and cannibalistic,” Zak’s eyes chillingly lowered at Atton. In a second, they brightened up and Zak was smiling. He crossed the portal to Limbo, Atton shakily behind.
“Whoa,” Ralph said taking a quick survey of the land.
“Huge whoa,” Reggie said, overcome by Limbo.
“I’m hungry,” said Zak.
“You’re always hungry,” Nirvana commented.
“Yeah,” he confessed with a shrug.
“Getting back on subject; where do we go from here, Atton?” Nirvana asked.
“We need to make our way to the Home of the Reaper. To get there there’s going to be a lot of well –” “Hell,” Nirvana said finishing his sentence.
“Yeah,” Atton chuckled.
“What’s to come ahead?” Reggie asked.
“What, are you that dense? He just said what’d come next.”
“I’m not dense, Ralph; I just wanted to know what specifically is coming. Why do you always have to be so mean, you spiteful son of a –”
“Mean, spiteful? That’s a lie!” Ralph contested.
“Are you kidding? Every chance you get, you take a shot at me!” Reggie argued.
The argument continued until Nirvana intervened. “Boys, Boys! That is enough! Ralph you insult people suck it up. Reggie you do ask dumb questions. Now… let’s get on with our lives people. Atton,” she said in a more soothing tone, “specifically, what is coming ahead?”
“I don’t know,” he shook his head. “It is uncharted area, farther than anyone has ever journeyed before. When we get there I might be able to identify it, I honestly don’t know.”
“So can we get any food in this place?” Reggie asked. Everyone else just glared at him. Even Zak knew when to stop talking about food. “It was just a question, jeez.”
“Through that fog up ahead we shall take the first steps on our journey,” Atton continued, “and only God knows what lies ahead.”
With that said, they took the first steps on what would truly be a life-changing journey.