Chapter 3:

Prologue 2: Early Life

Flight of The Blackbird

My parents, Elena and Soma, were born in 83 AF. Both of my parents’ ancestors were displaced in The Fall, but they continued their family lines in Genesis, and both of my parents had lived there for their entire lives. My mother’s side was from pre-fall America, and my father’s was from pre-fall Japan. They went to school together, prepared to work during reconstruction, but it ended in their last year of high school. They’d been together throughout their entire time in school, and started to fall in love in their junior year. My mom always told me how she fell in love with my dad’s hard-working attitude and great sense of humor. Similarly, my dad would tell me about how much he loved my mom’s singing voice and her beautiful smile. In short, they’d been in love with each other for a long time, and they were going to love each other for the rest of their lives. They got married in 105 AF, 5 years after rebuilding was done. When they were first married, they had very little money, and had to hop from home to home a lot due to losing and picking up jobs. When both of my parents landed jobs at the Russell Weapons Manufacturing Company (RWMC) they settled down in a high-rise apartment building about five miles from the main RWMC headquarters. My parents were very well liked, both in our apartment complex and by people in our section of town.

After about eleven months of living there, I was born. I’m told that I was an adorable baby, always clinging to my mom and dad. I’d inherited my dad’s jet-black hair and my mom’s green eyes. My name, Reiji, was decided mostly by my dad. According to a family friend, I was always a pretty anxious kid, and the reason I clung to my parents so tightly was because I was afraid of other people.

Speaking of that family friend, my parents were quite close with one family in particular, the Suttons. The father, Benny Sutton, owned a restaurant named Benny’s near our house. His wife, Marie, and two sons, John and Alex, were all very good people. I grew quite close to that family, and eventually began to consider them my second family.

While at Benny’s, I met two children around my age. The boy, whose name was Kota, had short black hair and black eyes. The girl, named Shiro, had (ironically) chopped brown hair and blue eyes always covered with glasses. We grew close over the years, and eventually went to school together during our elementary years.

Around the time that I turned eleven, I noticed an intense amount of stress present whenever my parents were around. They always seemed worn down, no matter what time it was. My mother’s beautiful face always had a weary, tired half-smile, and my father had nearly stopped smiling altogether. Unfortunately, being the young boy that I was, there wasn’t too much I could do about it, and so I made an attempt to ignore it, though before long it became too present to ignore. To counteract it, I tried my best to make them smile, telling silly jokes and doing my best in school, but it rarely seemed to work. As stress began to fill me too, I noticed all too late that life was taking a turn for the worse.

One night, three months after my eleventh birthday, my parents sent me to Benny’s to spend the night with their family. As any child would be, I was super excited to spend the night with friends. Little did I know, that day would be the last time I would ever see my parents. The next morning, my parents never came back to pick me up.

At first, I assumed that my parents were just taking a bit of a vacation together. It made sense to me, considering how stressed they’d been up to this point. And so I waited at the door every day, morning and night, for them to come back to get me. This constant cycle of waiting and being disappointed continued on for a few more days, until the fourth day, when I overheard Benny speaking with a police officer that had come to the front door. From that police officer’s lips came the most devastating revelation I’d ever heard in my life:

“Reiji’s parents died four nights ago. There was supposedly a hover-car hit and run, but when we searched the crime scene, we found both Elena and Soma’s bodies riddled with bullet holes. How do we even talk to him about this, i-”

At that point, I’d dropped the glass of water in my hands. It shattered on the floors, sending a wave of glass shards hurtling across the floor. My brain didn’t even register this. I was too busy being overwhelmed with emotions I'd never felt before. Despair, rage, guilt, depression, grief. They washed over my young mind like a tidal wave. With tears streaming down my face, I ran out the door and back to my apartment, praying that it was all just some sick joke and that my parents would be just behind that door, waiting for me to come home.

Sadly, life never goes as planned. There was nobody waiting for me behind that door, just a cold, dead room. That room, with it’s cold wooden floors and empty beds, became my prison for two days. I locked myself in there, not listening, and perhaps not even noticing the pleading of Benny, Marie, Kota, Shiro, my classmates, the police, nobody. Nobody could persuade me to get up off of that floor.

The tears eventually stopped, and most of the emotions had left me. If not for one single emotion left, I would have become a lifeless husk, simply mimicking human life and never feeling a thing. This one emotion got me up from that ground and kept me going.


That rage lit a fire under my ass like no other. From that day forward, I didn’t let the grief of losing my parents stop me, but instead, I made it motivate me. One day, somehow, I would find out who it was who had killed my parents. That became my new purpose, my reason for staying alive. My parents needed, no, they were owed vengeance, and I was going to be the one to deliver it to them, so that on the day that I was reunited with them, I could look them in the eyes and assure them that it was finally over.

On that day, I was taken in by Benny and Marie. I helped out around the restaurant, went to school, and did my best to excel in everything that I did. I also made an attempt to work on my people skills, which were lacking.  For three years, until the age of fourteen, I lived with the Suttons and they loved me just as much as my parents had. However, in the summer of my fourteenth year of life, my life took yet another groundbreaking turn. That was the day I met him.

James Oakman.