The Ruinous Angel stood in front of the mighty Statesman and watched the legendary hero intently as he spoke. Off to their right was the hero known as Sir Judgement and beside him stood the archer known as Manticore. All four men stood at a large desk on which Manticore had placed a stack of personnel files. Statesman slammed his fist down on top of the pile firmly.
“This group needs structure Sir Judgement,” said Statesman bluntly “One person can not disrupt the group. As it undoes everything we are trying to do. “
“Aye, that be very true,” a deep voice said from within a large suit of armor “She can be very disrespectful and definitely disruptive.”
Manticore quickly snatched a file from the stack and started to browse through the papers that it contained slowly. You could see his eyes quickly jumping left to right as he skimmed the papers. The Ruinous Angel sighed loudly as he leaned back against the wall. He started to glance at his gloved hands as if he was bored. He then tilted his head to the side as a picture of a woman between the ages of 20 to 25 fell from Manticore’s folder. Aaron bent down and picked up the photo, he stared at it as the young woman was beautiful but also very determined in the picture.
“Angel, funny enough,” said Statesman as he watched the hooded hero pick up the photo. “That girl is your responsibility. She is the one you need to reach. She is somewhat like you used to be.”
“What we need Angel,” said Manticore “Is for you to try and show her that she will self destruct unless she changes. She needs to know, she can change just like you did. “
“You have got to be kidding me?” asked The Ruinous Angel “I am not baby sitting any girl with anger issues. I am not here to gain a sidekick or mentor anyone. That is what helmet head is for. I am no teacher….I am no god damn foster parent!”
With that The Ruinous Angel slammed the door to the room loudly as walked angrily down the hallway. He kicked open a door to a stairwell and slumped against the wall as he thumped his fist against the hard concrete. Muttering under his breath about the situation that was presented to him, he then felt a familiar sensation in his head.
“Get out of my head Shalice!!!” yelled The Ruinous Angel “I do not need you poking around in there. If Star Boy and Arrow Man want to know what I am thinking…they can ask me.”
Walking up the stairs slowly, Sister Psyche leaned up against the wall facing the hooded man. She looked at him closely, as he always tried to hide his face and emotions. Smiling slyly, she leaned in close and tried to playfully peek under his hood. Turning his head, he pulled back and tried to obscure her view.
“Aaron. Why are you trying to hide from me? You know I can read your mind,” she said softly “Why do you not want to help out Sir with these new guys?”
Looking the beautiful heroine in the eyes, Aaron sighed loudly as he again tried to shift his position to avert her gaze. She decided to not scan his mind as it may totally shut him down from talking to her.
“I was brought in here to deal with a troublemaker. To help school a girl with emotional and anger issues,” he said softly “Who in the hell thinks it is a good idea Shalice?! For me of all people to try to help someone with anger and emotional issues.”
Sister Psyche sighed loudly and softly placed her hand on his right shoulder. Even though his hood obscured her view of his face, his body posture showed how he was feeling. He continued to slump against the wall as she turned to leave, she softly reached out and ran her hand over the metal brace that covered his right arm. This time he did not pull away, and she leaned in close and whispered to him.
“Aaron. This is a reminder you torture yourself with. You told me months ago your arm was fine. I can not understand why you are doing this to yourself,” she said softly as she ran her fingers over the cold metallic surface “I can however tell you, you did not fall. That is why you changed your name is it not ? You were able to stop yourself short. You have so much to offer these young graduates. You do not need to be their teacher. Or their mentor. Or even their friend. All you need to be for these kids is there for them. I worry about you. Please call me if you need anything.”
“But Shalice…..I don’t have….”stammered Aaron quietly as he could feel that familiar sensation of Sister Psyche in his consciousness. He could feel her say, you do not need a phone number. I am always here.
At this moment he decided he just needed to rest and he would perhaps give this another chance. Shalice appeared to believe in him and if she could do that, he had to prove that her effort was not futile. He opened the nearest window and took to the air. He loved the feeling of freedom that flying gave him. He loved the peaceful and quiet moments he was able to soar above the world and all of it’s problems.
In a dark and dank tower located on Mercy Island, there was someone who definitely was not above the problems of the world. In fact, he was contemplating how to add to those problems. He sat as a local tattoo artist finished adding to the now large piece of artwork he had scribed onto his arms.
“Ummm…k….done dude,” said the long haired and squirrelly man as Adam Trentz looked at the new designs that covered his fore arms “How’s it…uh…..look?”
Staring out from behind a large black hood, The Decadent Angel’s eyes burned a bright blue with raw energy as he started to cackle loudly. The tattoo artist started to chuckle along with him, unsure of the joke that must have been said. As Adam’s cackling grew louder, he began to slam his fist into a nearby table with force. This caused the man to become very scared.
“Uh…ummm…dude…I just want my money now,” said the man as he shifted about in his chair nervously “If I don’t eat dude…man…I’ll die or something…but I want my superdine fix…that drug is top notch…a way hard problemo…..”
As the man was still speaking, Adam leapt from his chair and wrapped his hands around his throat. Standing at his full height, he easily picked the man up from his sitting position and lifted him above his head. Adam’s cackling once again reached a feverish pitch as he easily snapped the man’s neck and dropped him to the floor.
“Problem solved,” he said coldly in between his fits of laughter “You need neither food or drugs when you are dead………..dude.”
Again Adam broke into a huge fit of uncontrollable laughter as two Night Widows entered his chamber to remove the body and the tattoo equipment. They knew the routine by now. Feed the body to the Arachnoid monsters so they would not be tempted to attack Arachnos foot patrols and sell the equipment to the highest bidder. As he finally was able to gain control of his laughing, he felt a cold snap fill the air around him. His body chilled to the bone, his mind filled with all sorts of thoughts. Excitement, lust and unquestionable fear among them. He slowly dropped to one knee and placed his hands on the floor, his gaze low.
“My pet, sometimes I worry about you,” stated the voice of Ghost Widow “Your mind is becoming more ravaged by the day. It is very uneven, your trustworthiness diluted by the bouts of insanity that seem to plague you daily now.”
Not raising his head as he was not yet instructed to do so, he quietly answered with a muffled “Sorry My Mistress” as he stared at her stiletto heel boots that hovered a few inches above the floor and directly in front of him. She placed a hand on his hooded head, which gave permission for him to stand tall.
“I have a test for you Adam. This will be something that I relay from our Lord Recluse directly,” she said coldly as her lifeless eyes peered into his soul “If you succeed my pet, I will share something with you few have received before. I will give you a part of me. An increase in power, that will allow us to share a few abilities. It will finalize my bond to you. Making you mine for eternity.”
Adam felt a rush of adrenaline as his eyes burned bright with excitement and raw energy. His hands twitched with anticipation, as this is what he had been craving since he watched his brother do the unthinkable and strike his overlord. He bowed his head and again quickly dropped to one knee as widow looked down at him. She smiled in approval and nodded slowly, as if to re-assure herself that he was ready.
She then landed on the floor with a soft thud from her hovering and handed Adam an official Arachnos command that was commissioned from the hand of Lord Recluse himself. The paper was rolled neatly, with a large wax seal that bore the symbol of Arachnos. Reaching out for his briefing, he thanks his mistress softly and swore allegiance to Arachnos, his patron and his Lord.
The next day as Sir Judgement welcomed the class of new graduating recruits in the Longbow training facility he read the roll call of names of those that were supposed to be attending in the The Proctector’s Of Paragon Division. He wondered if there would be any issues today. As he read the name Twylight Eclypse, there was no reply. Again he stated her name but with more volume and again there was no reply.
“Twylight said she wasn’t coming today,” said Delphian Opaque who fiddled with his ruby daggers “She said that if you asked to tell you to take the sword and…..ummm…. shove it….ummm….she said to sheath it …ummm…Sir.”
Sir Judgement delivered the training exercise for the group and left the room. Flipping a panel oh his right metal gauntlet, he pressed various buttons and then pressed a button of the left side of his helmet. In his ear he could distinctly hear the line of his communicator open. He then said the numbers 2766. Sitting in his apartment in Founders Falls, Aaron heard the communicator in his hood buzz to life. Slipping the hood on quickly, he opened the channel.
“Angel, she is AWOL,” said Sir Judgement with disappointment ringing throughout his voice “The problem is, I have no idea where to look.”
Aaron sat and thought for a few moments of where would he go when he felt the need to be lost. He then opened his communicator again and told the heroic knight that he had an idea of where to look and for him to continue with the rest of the group while he looked for Twilight.
The anticipation was too much for him as The Decadent Angel walked through the thick fog of Dark Astoria, as he had just destroyed enough Banished Pantheon to last a lifetime. He did not know why this Rune stone was needed, but it was not his place to know. Stopping he took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. Oh how he loved this place. So dark, desolate, unforgiving. Oh he so adored the chance to traverse the area. As he walked through the graveyard, he could see an outline of a figure kneeling by a tombstone. He quietly made his way up behind a young girl who had placed a katana at the base of the monument.
“I don’t know why I am here. I mean….I need no one…I need no training….it is such a a waste of time,” said Twylight Eclypse as she grabbed a handful of soft soil and watched as it fell through her fingers slowly “I only seem to find peace here. It is so quiet. At least no one knows I am here.”
As she dropped the rest of the soil to the ground, she sensed someone behind her. Without tipping off the person behind her, she quickly grasped the katana and spun to face the person. She scanned the fog and could barely make out the outline of someone. Taking a deep breath, she took a few steps forward and could make out the shape of a hooded man in front of her.
“Get the hell out of here Ruinous. I do not need your help and do want you following me,” she said defiantly “You are NOT my keeper! I do not need you or anyone else damn it!”
The hooded figure took a few steps towards her and began to laugh softly. As he closed in on her, his laughing became more of a high pitch cackle. Twylight then stopped moving forward as she realized that this was not The Ruinous Angel. As she stood still unsure of her next step, The Decadent Angel emerged from the fog. He nodded at her slowly and crossed his arms in front of him.
“Hmmmnnn…you are a cutie my dear. It appears that you know my brother,” he said in a loud whisper “It would also appear you are a smart one as you were willing to use that blade on him. There may be hope for you.”
Twylight stood her ground but was not sure of how she should address the situation. She could try to talk her way out but she also realized talking was not her strength. She did not want to admit it to herself but she knew this man was dangerous. She also knew she had to fight her way through, as he would not hesitate to hurt her. Lunging forward she swiped the sword at the villain and watched as he tried to dodge the attack . A smile crept across her face as she saw him grab his left arm. She could see a small trickle of blood seep from a wound and she knew she had to strike quickly.
With a loud grunt, she lunged forward again but this time The Decadent Angel side stepped the attack and while dropping low, swept her legs out from under her. Landing with a moan and a thud, Twylight watched as he sword lay outside of her reach. Adam pulled his hand back from his wound and looked at the blood that stained his gloved hand. With a slight chuckle, he slowly licked the blood away.
“Oh my dear…that was a huge mistake…tsk tsk tsk,” cackled Adam loudly “You have sealed your fate. We could have been a beautiful couple. You could have been at my side. It is a shame someone so beautiful, will die so you………..and very……very slowly and painfully….such a shame for you……but pleasure for me….you spilled my blood….now I need to reciprocate!”
The Decadent Angel continued to move closer to Twylight Eclypse, while chuckling loudly. She stumbled to her feet and tried to find her sword but could not locate it in the thick fog. She tried to remain composed and calm as she knew that he fed on fear and it would empower him if she displayed a hint of it. He stood over her and placed his hands on his hips, as a cool breeze swept through the cemetery. As he raised his right arm to generate a blast of energy, he cried out in pain as there was a flash of flames and the smell of singed leather and flesh.
Twylight looked about, confused, wondering what had happened. She then quickly realized she had to regroup and find a place where she would be safe to do that. As she ducked behind a large statue, she heard The Decadent Angel scream in frustration. Peering from behind her shelter, she saw Adam rip a smoldering arrow out of his right forearm.
“Damn You Manticore!” he cried out “Your fire arrow burned but what is another scar, if not just another trophy I earn.”
A man dressed in the uniform of the Longbow dropped from his perch in a large oak tree. He readied another arrow in his tightly strung bow and aimed it at the hooded villain. The Decadent Angel looked on in a confused silence as he did not recognize the man at all.
“Threat number 2354, The Decadent Angel sighted,” he said calmly as he talked into his communicator “Put your hands up! I am Longbow recovery specialist Lone Arrow. I have tracked the subject known as Twylight Eclypse here but am very surprised to see you. I am sorry you were looking for my mentor but he could not be here.”
She watched on as The Decadent Angel put his arms in the air and she quizzically stared on is disbelief. There is no way he will allow himself to surrender she thought to herself. Not him, not this easy. She watched intently as Lone Arrow slowly circled Adam until he was in position to apply the power dampening cuffs. As he reached for Adam’s left hand, The Decadent Angel spun away from his grasp and lunged towards the archer with a fist encompassed in energy. Twylight watched in horror as the sound of bones breaking, flesh tearing and Lone Arrow’s final screams filled the air.
She felt a tear run down her cheek as The Decadent Angel stood above the body of one of the top archers in the world, the heart of the young man in his hand. Cackling loudly, he tossed it behind him as if it was an empty wrapper. He then stopped moving as Twylight recognized that he could hear her, and was now coming towards her.
Pain sharply raced through her upper body as The Decadent Angel pulled her out from behind the statue by the hair. He slapped her sternly across the face and tossed her onto the lifeless body of Lone Arrow. She tried to gather her thoughts and looked down in shock as she was covered in blood, Arrow’s blood. He walked towards her slowly, the fog peeling back and exposing him as he recited The Lord’s Prayer. She tried to stand but tripped over a broken headstone and screamed out in pain she felt her ankle twist under the stress. She then realizes that with a twisted ankle, she can not run and more importantly she can not fight. She then felt a cold chill run through her soul as she noticed The Decadent Angel is also recognizing her dire situation.
As he moved in for the kill, a beam of pure white energy hit him square in the side and pushed him through a row of tombstones. Twylight looked to the direction of where the blast came from, and muttered under her breath one word “Angel….”
The Ruinous Angel emerged from the fog , his metallic right arm covering reflecting the light of the torches that were ablaze in the area. Even though she did not want the help, she felt safe for the first time that evening.
“Hold on around my neck,” he said softly as she wrapped her arms around his neck tightly. He then took to the air and flew towards the hazard zone gate. “This is not a fight I am finishing today.”
She is amazed at his ability to navigate the zone and allows her self a moment to breathe. Sighing softly, she closed her eyes and rested her head against his chest. He was unaware of this, as he knew he had to get to Talos Island before his brother realized what had transpired. He could not take the chance of another lose of life. No matter how much he wanted to avenge Lone Arrow, he could not risk something happening to Twylight as she was in no position to fight.
A loud scream echoed throughout Dark Astoria as a thunderous blast of energy erupted from the graveyard. The Decadent Angel slowly and methodically pulled himself up to his feet. His side was searing with pain but it was not even close to the way the anger that burned within him. He stumbled forward and fell to his knees. His pain impairing his judgment, he grunted as he used a willow tree to stand once again. He was able to complete the mission requested of him but he wanted more. He opened a large pouch that was fixed to his belt and stared at the Rune stone that he was ordered to retrieve, again wondering how it will be used.
She sat with her gaze low as a Doctor cut away the leather boot that was now stuck on her swollen ankle. She could not look up as she was very angry but also felt very bad. She was not used to this, this guilt. Was it her fault Lone Arrow died ? She could not think straight and winced in pain as the boot finally was free. At this time, Sir Judgement and The Ruinous Angel enter the medical bay.
“Oh great,” she muttered loud enough to be heard “The gruesome twosome.”
Aaron watched as the Doctor expertly applied the splint and bandages for the sprained ankle. He raised his gaze and looked her in the eyes. She did not avert her stare, as she saw this as a challenge or maybe even a test. As the two stared at each other he saw the determination, anger, and uncertainty that he knew all too well. He then heard a police bulletin and shifted his attention to the police band.
Sir Judgement walked up to her and inspected her ankle himself. He then reached behind his head to his back and unsheathed her Katana. She was surprised to see the blade but allowed a little smile to escape her lips as it gleamed in the lights of the room. He then placed it on her fresh change of clothes that Atom Bomb dropped off.
“This is inexcusable. Your actions before were petty and harmless really, but not this time,” scolded Sir Judgement “We lost a good man. Manticore is furious but I assured him I would deal with this. With you.”
She sneered at the man in the armor and fought back a tear as she would not show weakness to him, especially to him. She sighed in frustration and shook her head in disbelief. The Ruinous Angel took notice of this and watched her closely. Not saying a word he observed the battle of wills between the too.
“I am sorry he died. Ok ? I am very sorry. But if you guys just left me alone….no one would get hurt,” she said with purpose “I can take care of myself. Why can’t you all just leave me the hell alone.”
As Sir Judgement started to talk about a responsibility to the people of Paragon, Twylight sat on the examiner’s table and pulled her knees up to her chin. She wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her head against her knees, almost as if she was trying to compact herself so much she would be not noticed. As Sir Judgement leaned in closer to scold her, Aaron reached out and grabbed the knight’s shoulder. He pulled him back and nodded slowly. Angel then beckoned for the room to empty as she looked off in the distance.
“Are you ok?” he asked as he sat in a chair next to the table “No other injuries besides the ankle ?”
“I am fine Angel,” she said with conviction “I am ALWAYS fine.”
The hooded man stood up and walked over to where her sword was laying. As she watched him very intently, he picked the sword up and admired the workmanship of the blade. Running a gloved thumb softly down the blade, he whistles softly as he is impressed.
“Who knew the Tsoo could forge such a beautiful blade eh?” he asked the young woman “They really know how to craft a perfect weapon.”
She muttered a barely audible “yeah” as Aaron placed the sword back down on the pile of clothes. She watched him with an uneasy stare, she felt like she thank him for showing up. However, she did not want to appear weak. She was not weak and by admitting that she was thankful for the help, she is stating that she could not handle it.
He then stood slowly and sat on the examination table beside her. She edged herself away from him as she did not want anyone sitting that close to her. He slowly lowered his hood and wiped his brow with the back of his hand. Twylight tried to get a good look at Aaron as she had never saw him without his hood before. She looked at his facial features and thought he was younger looking than she had originally thought. She did however notice that behind the long, dark locks were light blue eyes that looked like they had the weight of the world on them.
“Am I such a bad person….just because I want to be left alone?” she asked quietly as Aaron tightened a buckle on his left glove “If everyone left me alone, I would have left Dark Astoria and Arrow would still be alive.”
“Something you will learn Twylight is that you do not choose the time,” he said as he looked at the metal arm covering that shielded his right arm “The time chooses you. Arrow did not ask to die and I did not ask to fight Recluse all that time ago. I realized that day, that I had to make a choice. I could sit back and not care what happened, or I could do what was needed of me. Fate chose me that day, for that time to push like I never pushed before…..or since. “
He turned to look at her and smiled somewhat as she tried to avert his gaze. She felt awkward and strange. She actually saw how on some level it made sense, but it still did not apply to her. She did not believe in fate or destiny or any of that crap. She believed in strike first before you are struck and survival of the fittest. She always had to fight to survive, that did and will never change.
“Something you and tin head need to learn Angel,” the young woman said defiantly as she grabbed her clothes and went behind the changing curtain “Is that I do not wait for things to happen, I make them happen. I am not going to let this world keep me down.”
The Ruinous Angel averted his gaze as the silhouette of the young woman was visible as she changed back into her clothes. She winced in pain slightly as she tried to tie her boot. Determined, she forced the boot onto her foot despite the pain she felt from her ankle.
“Sometimes even the strongest, smartest and bravest of us need help,” said Angel as he supported her ankle as he tied her boot “I am not here to fight Twylight. I am here to help.”
As he reached for his large, black hood and slowly allowed it to engulf his head, she shook her head in disbelief. It frustrated her to know he is right, she hated to admit weakness. He made his way to leave the room but was stopped in his tracks by the sound of her clearing her throat. She reach out her hand sheepishly as he walked towards her.
With great care he placed her arm around his neck and shoulders. Now as he supported her weight, they left the room together. Little did they both know that at that moment, their futures were fated to be intertwined going forward.
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