Prologue - Meeting the Characters
Normally, it would be considered crazy for someone to be out in such frigid temperatures without proper warm clothing on. But one must remember, Minnesota is a state where its citizens willingly go fishing on lakes frozen 10+ feet thick with ice in the dead of winter… for fun! What’s ’frigid’ for them, anyone below the Iowa boarder would consider, ’slowly dying of hypothermia!’ They’re used to it. It wouldn’t be considered odd to see someone hanging out at the park, or taking a stroll in nothing but jeans and a sweatshirt this time of year. What is seen as peculiar, however, is the time of night to see anybody out and about. With nightfall rolling in as early as seven in the evening, and each day only getting shorter, everybody tries to get inside well before then, especially during a school night. One would have to be out of their mind to stay out at such an hour! So, what purpose does a teenager have lurking about, and at the local cemetery of all places‽ Stranger still, four teenagers all conversing with one another in the cemetery at dusk. At first glance, anyone passing by may be thinking that an evil cult was gathering together ready to perform some satanic ritual, or some sinister new gang might be forming before their eyes. The scary thing is, that in the past, they would have been right. Well, about the gang part, anyway. But things were different this night. Tonight, anybody’s guesses could not have been more wrong.
Next to an old rotting tree, surrounded by all the gravestones of the cemetery, these four strange figures resided. The fiercest looking one of the bunch was standing the farthest away from all the others. His clothing consists of a simple black, short sleeved undershirt with slightly frayed sleeves revealing his powerful, well-toned muscles. The shirt was being covered beneath a gray vest with a black, metal studded choker attached to the collar. What most people would easily mistake as mud stains cacked all over the faded black, baggy jeans he wore, actually turns out to be blood, turned brown over time due to its prolonged exposure to the oxygen in the air as it dried. Giant metal studded combat boots, also black, completed the ensemble, giving him an overall intimidating appearance. Yet, if his personal attire wasn’t already enough to send you running for the hills, then his chalk pail skin, along with his spiky brown hair, and above all else, his razor sharp, perfectly filed teeth, would be. He was rather proud of his look, with his teeth being his most prized possession. Teeth so pointy and sharp, it can tear clean through even the thickest cut of meat with little hassle. For some reason he couldn’t explain, he always got some unexplainable rush of sick, sadistic pleasure whenever he could make somebody cower in fear by the mere sight of him. He wasn’t one to brag, but he liked to consider it his specialty. Currently, he was observing the scene before him with crossed arms and a disinfected scowl upon his face, revealing those prized teeth of his. Not one known to socialize often, he’s always seen distancing himself away from the rest of the world, including his own friends, which explains why he wasn’t near the others closer to the tree. Despite his demeanor, though, his personal distance wasn’t a sign of his disinterest in what his friends were doing, quite the opposite in fact, he was intrigued.
Sitting up on a surprisingly sturdy branch of the rotting tree was a very thin, yet very handsome young man. He was wearing his own black, short sleeved shirt, only this one donned a dark purple trim around the rim of the armholes and collar. It wasn’t so skin tight to reveal any muscles or anything he may have hidden underneath, but not loose enough to be considered baggy, either. Similar black pants with the same shade of purple trimmed around the ankles covered his lower half. Atop his shirt, a long, black denim jacket that would stretch all the way down to the ground while standing up, also adorned with various trimmings of purple spread about the fabric, draped over his shoulders and around his slim figure. The lower back end flowed behind him elegantly in the breeze. He completed the look with matching black and purple shoes. All alluring enough on its own, but the boy’s pièce de résistance, however, was the majestic and intricately designed metal crafted rose he was always seen holding in his hand. All of it fitting for a cemetery setting. Too bad he wore it everywhere else he went as well, driving every guy in town insane with envy, as every girl would swoon with infatuation. A real heart throb he was, with his silky smooth yet slightly ruffled black hair drooping down the side of his face, framing his well-crafted features just perfectly. Adding that along with his mysterious smile and soft, half lidded eyes makes for an equation that is more than enough to melt any girl’s heart on sight - well, almost any girl’s. There was practically nothing about this guy that didn’t scream how charming he was, and his dark demeanor only seemed to enhance the effect in some bizarre way. Beware, however, for behind that hypnotic gaze, lies some wicked daggers. He knows how to use his charm towards his advantage, obtaining exactly what he wants out of others, whenever he wants it. But no devious plans were running through the hopeless romantic’s mind tonight. For if one were to look past the small smile on his lips, and take a good, hard glance into his deep grey orbs, they would notice a rather somber expression. One filled with sympathy and a little mourning, too.
Lounging about at the base of the tree was certainly the ’odd one out’ of this little gang. Instead of wearing black like all the others, he wore white. A simple white sweatshirt hoody with matching loose white jeans really made him stand out from the crowd. The only exception to all the white were his black boots, which even then, still looked out of place with their vivid bright blue soles and laces. Okay, so his boots may not have been the only exception, as his clothes were not completely white - as his footwear was not completely black. Simple as his clothes may be, they were also quite interesting. Amongst all the white, splashes of the same sapphire blue in his shoes were splattered around at random, various places of his shirt and pants. With no distinct pattern or rhythm in design, it really looked like the blue areas were quickly slapped on with a giant paintbrush. Ironically enough, if you were to ask him about it, he wouldn’t be afraid to admit that that’s exactly what he did. His differences didn’t end there, however, his entire demeanor was much more laid back. Not only compared to his fellow companions, but even by normal standards, his carefree personality reached unfathomable levels of awkward. His hair was styled so drastically, it could only be described as a fusion between Harry Styles and one of those anime characters after going Super Saiyan. Medium toned, golden locks with bleach blond highlights spiked up above his head defying gravity, while at the same time, bending so far backward it resembled a perfect rolling ocean wave. One can’t help but wonder just how much hair gel does it take to keep it that way! But, his most notable feature would have to be his big, goofy, and carefree grin that anyone could swear was practically plastered onto his face. Even now, as he lies out in the middle of a graveyard, his stupid smile shows no signs of vanishing any time soon. On the surface, he was an abundance of energy that could give the Energizer Bunny a run for its money. Unfortunately, he never seemed to have a practical output to channel all that energy, namely because he never seemed capable to think of anything productive. Practically bouncing off the walls every which way left the appearance of a crazy, escaped mental patient in his wake. He didn’t care. He was a weird boy with no shame in it! Tonight, however, was just the slightest bit different. As nonchalant as he usually can be - and still is - tonight revealed a special affect on his overall character. As much as he tried to hide it, anyone who knew him could easily tell he lacked that usual vigor he was so well known for, it might as well be his trademark.
Standing alongside the largest headstone in the cemetery, yet not too far away from the others near the old tree, we finally come across the only female of the group. A young teenage girl shrouded in a dense fog of mystery. She simply stood there, staring ahead with a blank expression upon her face, while her back faced the giant headstone. Not that she was ever known to express her emotions often. Her stoic expression normally remained constant wherever she went, easily earning her the reputation as the coldest one of the bunch – and considering the friends she hangs out with, that’s saying a lot! But her features were far more melancholy than usual tonight, if that was even possible! A light, chilling breeze weaved through her thin yet long black hair. If there was only one thing that everybody who saw her could come to an agreement on, it was that she had the most gorgeous hair compared to anyone else around. Reaching all the way down to her ankles, accented with trims of deep, bloody red streaks, it was always an object of fascination. At night, when the moon would hit it just right, her hair would glimmer with such a mesmerizing shine, some would swear it could only be otherworldly. It was enough to make any other girl jealous. Matching the colors of her hair was her outfit, but unlike her comrades who wore clothing consisting of soft and comfortable fabrics, she wore metal. A sleek mech-suit that could have come straight out of a sci-fi movie covered every inch of the girl’s body from the neck down. Wires, illuminating LED lights, and tiny screens attached to the suit allows others to know that it’s more than some fancy comic-con costume, but instead a highly advanced piece of technology. Nothing any ordinary person would consider wearing on a regular basis, but believe it or not, her outfit actually served a very practical use. Finally, a pair of dark, black sunglasses covered her eyes, despite being out in the middle of the night. She continued to stare into nothingness, feeling numb. Despair and melancholy and a sense of emptiness weren’t anything new to her, but everything felt different tonight. Inside and out, even the tiniest sliver of any feeling at all, physical or emotional, was out of her reach. She hadn’t the slightest clue how she should react, what to think, what to do. She couldn’t even feel the chill of the evening air as it brushed across her skin. She almost felt as though she didn’t exist, and maybe things would have been easier for everybody if she didn’t.
One thing all four of the unorthodox friends seemed to have in common was the reason why they were at the cemetery on this particular night. Not that they were strangers to hanging out in graveyards, only this time - for the first time - they were not there to party or play any of their sadistic games. Everyone was more despondent than what was considered normal for these four, especially the boy in white. Despite the fact he wasn’t the most devastated one, it was simply his significant drop in charisma that stood out over anything else.
Whether it was hours or a few measly minutes, no one payed attention, nor did they care. All they could be certain of was how each second remaining stationary was more agonizing than the last. Eventually, no longer able to take the mounting pressure any longer, the girl finally mustered up the courage to face the source of all their pain. What has been tearing her apart from the inside-out. With a big, deep breath, she slowly turned to face the headstone she was standing beside, drawing the attention of the others. Morbid curiosity getting the better of them, a bit fearful yet intrigued as to what could happen, they waited with baited breath.
A giant, beautiful Gothic styled cross with incredible attention to detail stood tall before them. A single name was scrawled across the horizontal end of the cross. A mere glance was all it took for a sharp pang to pierce through each of the hearts of the four who read it, but the girl’s heart ached most painfully as it went a step further. While the others felt like a gun fired off through their hearts, her heart felt like it was being slowly torn right out of her chest before being replaced with a bucket of dry ice. The moment she read the name on the tomb, all of her grief caught up with her in a single blow, and a massive wave of pure, raw, dark matter energy erupted from her body like a bonfire that someone had thrown a couple of “C” batteries in.
Such a spectacle would understandably freak anybody out. After all, possessing supernatural abilities were a thing of pure fantasy, reserved only for comic book and cartoons characters. For the girl and her boys, however, this is nearly an everyday occurrence. That’s right, she has powers. Unfortunately, her powers come at a great personal cost. Being composed entirely out of dark matter, her energy levels were highly unstable. If left unchecked, the energy could build up until it could no longer be contained, and leave devastating destruction in its wake. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out the same energy only seemed to be controlled by her emotions. One bad day and she could decimate an entire city. Hence why she has the mech-suit. Made out of a special material specifically created to not only absorb energy but neutralize it as well, it regulates her power from getting too out of control. Conveniently, her sunglasses also serve the same purpose, which explains why she’s never seen without them.
As much as the girl’s reaction was expected by the boys, it never fails to catch them completely off guard every single time. The powerful force pushed them back a considerable distance, leaving them momentarily disoriented - especially the boy who is now no longer up in the tree - but that still didn’t deter them from regaining their bearings. Quickly getting back on their feet, they pushed through the strong waves reaching up to her before embracing in a group hug together. Not being a common practice among the four, hugging made them feel awkward if not a bit uncomfortable, but it was the only thing they could think of to pacify the distraught girl. It worked for the most part, at least to the point where her powers finally died down. When they determined the worst had passed, the boys let go of each other soon enough. Taking a few steps back, they gave the girl some space, but kept their guard up just in case they needed to go in for another emergency run.
Despite having no tears pouring from her eyes, she still collapsed to the ground, landing on her hands and knees, as she bowed her head in deep sorrow in a very rare display of emotion. Sure, she could muster up feelings of anger, rage, and frustration whenever she needed to use her powers, but those usually required reflecting upon past memories. Memories that were not so great, which for her, there seemed to be an endless supply of. Albeit effective to her cause, those feelings were ultimately forced, therefore it was just as easy to get over them as it was to conjure them. Tonight, her feelings were genuine and in the moment, and it hurt too deep. She couldn’t simply brush it off by shaking her head and focusing on anything else.
In a weak, quiet voice, she rasped out just loud enough for the boys to hear, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” None of the other three had a clue of what to say, especially since they knew she wasn’t addressing any of them. They continued standing behind her, remaining silent. Eventually, the girl gradually lifted her head back up at the headstone. Reading the name once again compelled her to grit her fingernails into the ground, and a second, much smaller wave of energy to be released, only this time resembling your average campfire – that is, if the flames were black. Startled, the boys were at the ready to jump in and comfort her again, but before they could take a single step, she managed to regain her composure. Taking a deep breath, the dark flames faded until they resembled a light mist radiating from her body. Considering the current circumstances, everyone figured this was the best they were going to get out of her for now.
She slowly stood back onto her own two feet. Hesitantly, she raised her arm before gently placing the palm of her hand on the cross, constantly reading and rereading the name on it over and over again. Her boys just watched her. With another deep breath, she closed her eyes and spoke in a stronger, yet still very much broken voice, “I’m so sorry.” She opened her eyes before she continued, “All my life, the only thing I have ever known was how to inflict pain. Never once did I think about how it would affect the loved ones of my victims, the families I tore apart, nor did I care.” She gripped the cross a little tighter with the same hand already placed upon it, “I never had to experience such a loss for myself before, nor did I have to fear such a possibility, so I could never understand.” Feeling her emotions starting to get the better of her again, she took a shaky breath in a desperate attempt to control herself, as her voice became more broken, “But now I do.” Releasing the cross, she drew her hand in close to her chest and took a couple steps back before she spoke again, “Now I know what it feels like to lose somebody close to you. Someone who meant the whole world to you.” She barely managed the last sentence in a raspy whisper. “Your soul shatters into a million pieces, and you’re left feeling empty, with the only thing left remaining being pain. Who am I to inflict the same pain onto others any longer?” At this, the boys looked at her shocked; these were not words they ever expected to hear come out of the girl’s mouth of all people! Genuinely curious, they stayed silent to listen in on what she had to say next, “How could you have forgiven me? After all I’ve done, I can’t even forgive myself!” Her voice rose in hollow anger now, energy levels rising for a third time. Fortunately, she felt a gentle hand placed on her shoulder before things could get worse. Briefly turning her head, she noted it was the boy with the sharpened teeth. With a slight nod of her head to signify her thanks, she turned back to the stone cross, her whole demeanor suddenly shifting to a flat and emotionless, yet otherwise bold tone, “I promise you, never again. I make a vow to you, never again will I kill…” Once again, another wave of shock coursed through the three boys. In fact, the boy in white had nearly fainted. Never in a million years did they ever expect the girl who both formulated and lead their little gang, would ever swear off murder from her life! As long as they’ve known her, it was the only thing she lived for, all she ever knew. They realized she wasn’t finished when she spoke up one last time, “For you, Xerxes, never again will I take another life – innocent or not.”