Xemnas, the Superior of the In-Between (狭間の指導者, Hazama no Shidōsha?), sometimes referred to as the Superior or Lord Xemnas by members of the original Organization XIII, is the Nobody of Terra-Xehanort. He is the leader of the original Organization XIII, the former ruler of The World That Never Was, and a member of the real Organization XIII. He serves as the main antagonist of Kingdom Hearts II and as a supporting antagonist in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III.
Xemnas wields the power of nothingness, and he channels this into his weapons, red blades of energy called Ethereal Blades. He commands the Sorcerer Nobodies. Xemnas, as the Superior, is the founder of Organization XIII and has dominion over all other Nobodies. He is also the Organization's most powerful member, to the point that Marluxia would not dare to face him alongside Larxene and Axel until Sora was also under their control.
Between Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts
Terra-Xehanort assumes the name of his master, Ansem the Wise, and he and his fellow apprentices banish Ansem to the Realm of Darkness. Their subsequent experiments cause them to lose their hearts in darkness, and Xehanort's being is split into a Heartless and a Nobody, the Heartless being Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, while the Nobody is Xemnas. The newly-born Xemnas then goes on to recruit the Nobodies of Ansem's other apprentices, and together, they form Organization XIII. While Xemnas's goal is ostensibly to summon Kingdom Hearts, he also seeks to gather thirteen vessels, each to bear a piece of Master Xehanort's heart.
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
The Organization's final member piques Xemnas's interest greatly, as he is the Nobody of a Keyblade wielder. Xemnas tracks down the young boy in Twilight Town and names him Roxas, taking him to his new home in The World That Never Was where he introduces Roxas to the rest of the Organization.
Xemnas arrives at Hollow Bastion shortly after recruiting Roxas, in order to observe Sora, Roxas's original being. The Princesses of Heart sense his incredible power, and Sora, Donald, Goofy, and the Beast go to the Chapel to investigate. 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 that Sora looks like Roxas, and is not complete, but this only confuses Sora. 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".
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Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
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's 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.
Kingdom Hearts II
On the first day of Roxas's summer vacation, he has a dream of his earlier meeting with Xemnas at the Dark Margin. During the fourth day, Xemnas orders Axel to destroy Roxas if he doesn't return to the Organization, much to the latter's objections. He puts a halt to Xaldin's intimidation of Axel, suggesting a worse punishment for failure to comply: being turned to a Dusk. Unable to refuse, Axel relents and leaves to persuade Roxas.
True to Xemnas's earlier words, he and Sora meet again at Hollow Bastion, accompanied by Demyx, Xaldin, Xigbar, Luxord, and Saïx. Sora seems not to recognize Xemnas, and the Organization mock the perceived weakness of Sora, only angering him. Afterward, they return to Where Nothing Gathers and discuss their plan to manipulate Sora. Thereafter, Xemnas remains at the Castle That Never Was while the other Organization members travel to various worlds to stir up the Heartless so that Sora can defeat them. After Saïx returns from Twilight Town, Xemnas thanks him for planting the seeds of doubt and anger in Sora's heart, which he believes will eventually bear fruit in turning Sora to their cause. When Saïx asks him about Axel, Xemnas merely mocks the traitor's desire for friendship.
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. As the members discuss whether Sora can still be controlled, now that he knows the Organization is using him, Xemnas reassures them that beating Sora into submission will not endanger their plans, pleasing Xaldin.
Later, as the Organization members wonder what Axel was trying to achieve by sacrificing himself for Sora, Xemnas suggests that Axel may have touched Sora's heart and reawakened Roxas.
As Sora and company enter the Castle That Never Was, Saïx comes to Xemnas and asks if it is finally time to dispose of Sora, and Xemnas gives his consent.
When Ansem begins trying to seal Kingdom Hearts away with his Encoder, Xemnas comes to investigate and attempts to intimidate him by blaming Ansem's research for starting the twin plagues of Heartless and Nobodies. Regretful but defiant, Ansem finishes his work and shatters Kingdom Hearts, as his overloading Encoder explodes. In the chaos, Xemnas disappears.
Sora and the others corner him at the Altar of Naught, where Xemnas archly commands them to fetch him more hearts. He drags Sora into a battle with him in the phantom battleground of Memory's Contortion, echoing Riku's previous battle with Roxas.
Although Sora fends off Xemnas and is returned to the tower, the Superior is not yet defeated, and retreats into the broken Kingdom Hearts in an attempt to exploit what little power it has left. Fortunately, the worlds create a door for Sora and the others to follow him into Xemnas's "The World of Nothing", a pocket dimension presided over by a massive, weaponized construct which has absorbed the remainder of The World That Never Was. His attacks manage to separate Kairi and Mickey from the others, but when Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku still manage to infiltrate his war-machine, Xemnas dons Master Xehanort's Keyblade Armor and attacks them head-on. Though he channels the powers of his fallen soldiers, he is still defeated and seemingly fades into darkness, and the heroes return to the Altar of Naught.
With the help of Naminé, Kairi, Donald, Goofy, and the King safely escape to Destiny Islands, but before Sora and Riku can follow, Xemnas attacks once more with his construct, having escaped The World of Nothing. Sora and Riku manage to destroy the construct and chase Xemnas back into his pocket dimension, where he launches a furious final assault, exploiting all his powers over light, darkness, and nothingness. After failing to slay them with a massive fusillade of Ethereal Blades, Xemnas is slain when Riku and Sora, together, use Sora's Keyblade to "unlock" Xemnas, finally destroying him.
Kingdom Hearts coded
Some time after decoding Jiminy's Journal, Yen Sid explains to Mickey that the destruction of both Ansem and Xemnas has revived Xehanort and will eventually revive Master Xehanort. As Mickey recalls the destruction of Ansem and Xemnas, he sees mental images of the two of them.
Shortly after the Organization members regain their original forms at the Heartless Manufactory, the time-traveling Young Xehanort arrives and wakes Braig. The former Organization member mentions that Xemnas did not appear there alongside the others, and guesses that this means that Master Xehanort's plan to create a new Organization XIII has begun.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
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 realize, despite Xemnas's 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, Saïx, Terra-Xehanort, Vanitas, Demyx, Luxord, Marluxia and Larxene 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. However, to Xemnas and Xigbar's surprise, Lea arrives and blocks the fragment from entering Sora. Xigbar reminds them all that the amount of time the multiple different versions of Xehanort can co-exist is over. After Saix fails to repel Lea in a last ditch effort to complete the Organization, Xemnas and Ansem act as shields to block the heroes from attacking Master Xehanort. With his allotted time in the future over, Xemnas fades back into the past along with Ansem and young Xehanort, while the rest of the new Organization retreat to a different location.
Kingdom Hearts III
Xemnas appears in Twilight Town with Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, taunting Sora bout his foolish idea about reviving Roxas by placing his heart in the Virtual Twilight Town. They both remind him that the only way for a Nobody like Roxas to come back is for Sora to give his heart over to the darkness. They summon Dusks and Neoshadows before leaving. They later appear on a roof overlooking Le Grand Bistrot as Xigbar appears to tell them it is dangerous to be too straightforward with what they want Sora to do. After Ansem explains that they were instructed by Xehanort to guide Sora, Xemnas assures Xigbar that they have "more than one iron in the forge" should they need to get rid of Sora.
Sometime later, Xemnas meets Marluxia, Larxene, Demyx, and Luxord at the Keyblade Graveyard, explaining why he chose who joined the original Organization and that he chose the four of them because they carry the secrets of the ancient Keyblade legacy within them.
During the final battle, Xemnas, Master Xehanort, Ansem, Young Xehanort and Vanitas greet the Guardians of Light and summon a horde of monsters to wear them down. After they pass the test, Xemnas joins the rest of the Organization as Master Xehanort creates a labyrinth for them, the Skein of Severance, to fight in.
Xemnas observes the fight between Marluxia, Luxord, Larxene, King Mickey and Sora until the heroes get the upper hand. Xemnas empowers Luxord and retreats. Xemnas later appears again during the battle between Xion and Saïx and Kairi, Lea, and Sora to confront Lea himself. Calling his betrayal the worst of all and a pawn knocked off early in the game, Lea retorts saying Xemnas was never his superior and that he now has loads of people rooting for him and attacks Xemnas. Xemnas easily catches his Keyblade in his hand and mocks the weapon, calling it a "joke". He then disarms Lea, but before he finishes him off, Xion stops him, reminding Xemnas that they need Lea alive to complete the χ-blade. Remembering that Xion and Lea were "friends", Xemnas asks her to finish off Lea instead. After a struggle with an interfering Sora which restores Xion to the form most of her close friends remember her as, Xemnas ends the scuffle by pushing them both down. Before he kills the two however, a revived Roxas arrives much to the surprise of Xemnas and the others. With the circumstances no longer in his favor, Xemnas takes Kairi and leaves once again.
After all but himself, Ansem, Young Xehanort and Master Xehanort have been defeated, Xemnas teams up with his Heartless and younger self to help forge the χ-blade. Upon his defeat, Xemnas laments that he was bested again. Sora tells him that he knows he has a heart and asks what he is feeling. Xemnas states that he feels the emptiness where his comrades once stood; he took them for granted and now they are gone. He begins to feel his first surge of emotion he has felt in a decade and it's loneliness. He tells Sora that is why he considers a heart nothing but pain. However, when Sora assures him that pain is part of being human, Xemnas smiles at the boy, saying it must take incredible strength of will to bear such pain before he fades away.
Like all the Organization members, Xemnas wears the basic black cloak, boots, and gloves. He has amber-orange eyes, the same shade as Ansem's, and dark skin (though it appears much lighter in-game than in some artwork), much like his complete being, Xehanort. Xemnas's hair is long, reaching to about mid-back, silver in color, and some of it falls over his shoulders. His hairstyle is reminiscent of Xehanort's hair, including his bangs, the color, and the length. It also shares traits with Terra's hair, including its layered, messy look and the spike on the top of his head. Since Xemnas was born from Terra's body and soul, his appearance is identical to Terra, albeit being older and having darker skin and silver hair.
Being the founder of Organization XIII and apparently the oldest of Nobodies, Xemnas is truly emotionless to the point that he does not even remember what it was like to have any feelings. He claims that this allowed him to have a clear understanding of the heart, though this had, in actuality, warped his mind into believing that anger, hatred, and other negative emotions dominate the heart.
His lack of emotion deprives him of remorse for his actions, as well as for the loss of other members of the Organization. He cares only about Kingdom Hearts, even lamenting it when it is damaged, and possesses a deep desire for power. 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, though this is likely due to the influence of Terra.
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 seeks to use it to obtain power, and remake the universe in his image. Xemnas considers nothingness the source of great 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, who had desired to unlock Kingdom Hearts for the same purpose in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
Xemnas speaks with calmness and deep authority, strangely similar to Master Eraqus. He has a tendency to be melodramatic, making long-winded speeches, and exaggerating his false rage and sorrow with wide sweeping arm movements and hand gestures. His exaggerations represent his lack of emotion. He is very intelligent, and manipulates others, particularly Sora and his friends, for his own interests.
Xemnas's personality seems to share traits from both Master Xehanort and Terra. From the former he inherits his manipulative nature, the concept of the Organization's black coat, and the idea of adding the letter "χ" to rename himself and his fellow Organization members. From the latter, at the very least, the Nobody inherits a familiarity with Aqua's armor, which he refers to as "friend", and his strong desire to find his other "friend" Ventus in Castle Oblivion, as he has Saïx search for the Chamber he sleeps in.
Upon his final defeat, Xemnas admits that he felt a bond with his first Organization and that he took them for granted. What he feels at the very end is loneliness, the very first surge of emotion he has felt in years. While considering a heart nothing but a pain, Xemnas is told that pain is part of being human; he gives a smile to Sora, commending him on having a will strong enough to handle the pain.
As the leader of Organization XIII, Xemnas wields nothingness, and manifests this as blades of energy called Ethereal Blades. It is noted by Axel that Xemnas's control over nothingness allows him to even reduce other Organization members into Dusks if he wants to, though he can also greatly empower them, as he did to Luxord in Kingdom Hearts III. In his encounter with Sora as the "Unknown" in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and their first battle in Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas is very agile, and attacks with swift acrobatic combos with his blades. He can also teleport, fly, and create energy barriers to shield himself. Besides using them as melee weapons, Xemnas can fire his Ethereal Blades as laser-like projectiles, and can either fire them directly from his hands or create them in mid-air. In all three battles with Xemnas's unarmored form, Xemnas also incorporates some sort of attack that drains his opponent's health with a sphere of dark energy, though the exact manner of this has varied (see below).
In Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, in his encounter as the Unknown, Xemnas also had the ability to encase himself in a blue ball of energy that made it impossible for Sora to attack him, and would also fire out a set of powerful lasers. The ball would follow Sora around if he ever to tried to get away from it. In his first battle with Sora in Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas can encase him in a field of dark energy that steadily drains his health, that can only be broken by using the reaction command. In the final battle in Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas uses an attack known as the "Invitation to Nothingness", in which he ensnares opponents in a sphere of dark energy that slowly drains their life force.
In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Xemnas has a Limit Break named All-Vanity, which summons an electric barrier around himself. Its Final Limit causes two laser beams to decimate enemies.
After merging with his damaged artificial Kingdom Hearts, Xemnas becomes much more powerful - creating a realm within Kingdom Hearts named "The World of Nothing" that he possessed total control over, being able to instantaneously generate structures seemingly from nowhere and even creating a black hole at one point.
While in his armor and aboard his dragon form, Xemnas has access to the powers and weapons of his fallen Organization comrades, such as Xaldin's lances and Demyx's power over water. In this form he remains in his throne, attacking enemies with his massive sword when they come close. He can still project barriers, and summon crests of light in the air to fire white beams of energy at his enemies.
In the final battle of Kingdom Hearts II, Xemnas's power increases dramatically. He can create copies of himself, summon torrents of white and black thorns much like Twilight Thorn, and retains his normal ability to use his Ethereal Blades and project barriers. As his ultimate, final attack, Xemnas summons thousands of Ethereal Blades around Sora and Riku to bombard them from all sides with no hope of escape.
Xemnas uses weapons called Ethereal Blades (エアリアルブレード, Eariaru Burēdo?, lit. "Aerial Blades"). They are beams of red energy and extend directly from the palms of his hands, without any hilt or handle. He can summon or disperse them at will, and is able to change their length as well. They are solid despite their appearance, but do not seem to have any cutting ability and are used as bashing weapons, more in the style of a club. The Ethereal Blades can also be used as projectiles and can suspend themselves in midair around a target before firing at them. As a desperation move, Xemnas can surround his enemy in darkness and fire an amazing amount of Ethereal Blades at them.
The names of Xemnas's various Ethereal Blades seem to be references to iron-fisted leadership. Perhaps due to his preeminent power among the Organization, only one of his Ethereal Blades, Infinity, grants him a support ability.
As the Nobody of Terra-Xehanort, Xemnas may have been capable of wielding a Keyblade, implying he simply chose not to, and he does use what appears to be Master Xehanort's Keyblade Armor against Sora and Riku.
Notes and references
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