Chapter 1:

Chapter 1. Introduction

The Spirit In Me


On the roof of a school in the city of Nash sat Loy Sofen, a 16-year-old student. He looked over the landscape full of buildings with his nut-brown eyes. His hair that matched its color was long enough to reach his eyebrows, but not too long to poke him in the eyes. From the cityscape, he looked at the sun's warm rays.

"What am I here for...?" he asked himself gloomily. "What was all this for? What am I… living for?".

With a disturbed narrowing of his eyes, suddenly, a black silhouette of a human-shaped figure appeared in his vision. Its hand reached out for him. Despite its proximity - within touching distance of him, it was blurred, and no detail of its identity could be seen. As quickly as it appeared, it was gone, just as Loy was trying to peck at it.

"Again...!" he grabbed his face in surprise. When a moment after, his surprised look changed to despair again. He looked up to look at the clouds with a depressed gaze when the school bell rang.

He sat down at his regular desk in the last row, where he was hidden from the eyes of others.

"Once again I'm sitting here... Another day that passes... Why do I even come here?" he wondered in annoyance, looking at his desk. "For the academic content, it's sure not. Even if I had listened, what would I have done with it? On second thought, what can I already do? What should a normal teenager do at this age?". With no answer, he looked away from the desk to the classroom window next to him and spent his time staring out of it until the next bell rang.

When it arrived and the students gathered their belongings, Loy remained motionless. After everyone left, he got up from his desk and left the school. With an apathic look, he walked forward his house in the nearby small town, a walk that took almost half an hour.

When he got to his room, he lay down on the bed and looked at the clock that was hung on the wall in his room. For several hours, he watched time pass. When he felt that he had enough of this exciting activity, he went outside to loosen his bones. As he walked the streets, different groups of people recognized him.

Teenagers. Adults. Sometimes, even children. Fingers are pointed at him. Frightened looks are popping around like mushrooms after the rain. Ridicules and whispers are well noticed. But it didn't surprise him. He got used to all of it.

"What am I..." he wondered, staring at the crowded street.

"A ghost. After all this time... nothing has changed. Today… it's even worse than it was when I was a kid. They don't care about me. Nobody cares about me. If that's the case, why should I care about them?" he questioned as he glanced at the crowd of people who thought he wasn't paying attention to them.

"You are a coward." Another voice stated.

A high pitch voice that spoke his language, but it had another element to it.

Almost beastly.

Loy eyes were quickly opened in shock as he looked down to hide his expressions from those around him. "You understand it in your mind. However, you do not act. You are the most cowardly person on earth." the voice teased him.

"What do you expect me to do?! Kill them all?!" Loy replied full of anger. "If that's what it takes, yes," responded the voice calmly. "And how would it help?!" he replied furiously as he gritted his teeth. "How does it help what you're doing?! Huh?!" resented the voice back. Loy flinched in response. The passers-by on the street looked at him suspiciously although his attempts to hide it. He recognized their looks immediately.

"Did you swallow your tongue?" asked the voice cheekily. "You know I'm right. Stop defending yourself. At least admit it to yourself, that you're a cowardly piece of trash. Then at least there will be some progress." the voice stated.

"Shut up." Loy answered sharply." Go back to where you belong." he demanded harshly. "Again… when… when did he get in?".

-------

"Nobody cares. Everyone's dealing with their own shit." thought Ruan Vanclief to himself as he lay on the street floor littered with cigarette butts, liquor bottles and syringes.

Ruan, a 16-year-old boy who dropped out of every possible framework.

His black hair flowing symmetrically to both sides of his head. The color of his eyes was brown as the color of the earth. He got up from the floor and didn't bother to clean his clothes from the dirt that stuck to them. Dusting them off won't hide the stains and holes that stood out from his pants. Some will even claim that in their eyes, this is the latest fashion.

He began walking out of the street where he lived towards the main parts of the city. On his way, he encountered the usual spectacle. The homeless are begging on their knees, some even holding the clothes of passers-by at the station for money.

"It's every man for himself. That's the world we live in. That's why it got to this point." he argued to himself as he watched a man shake off the grip of the beggar's hand holding his fancy business suit.

"When the first person sat on the floor and raised his hand asking for alms, it was seen as unusual. People stopped and asked, why is he sitting on the street floor? Is he okay? Does he need help? But today, this is the norm." he summed up to himself the reality he was looking at. "We have reached such a low level that it shows in the purest form the nature of our world. Each for itself." he concluded with furious eyes.

"Money... please...!" An old beggar called out toward Ruan as he put his hand on his shoulder.

Quickly, a blow was heard.

The old man's fell to the floor as he held his cheek in pain. Ruan fist clenched from the pressure of his anger. The apprehensive passers-by were afraid to intervene due to Ruan's violent appearance. "Are you an idiot or senile huh?! Don't you have eyes?!" Ruan yelled at him angrily. "Do you even see what I look like?!" he shouted at the old man as he held his torn shirt in his hands. "I'm in the same situation as you, you imbecile!" he shouted madly as he passed over the old man's body to the depth of the city.

Pacing quickly, he walked past the luxurious businessmen of the companies in the nearby building. He noticed their evasive gazes. He examined their clothes. Smelled their fragrance. He was jealous of the shine radiating from their polished shoes and well-kept hair. "Those wealthy people... will turn worlds upside down for their smallest problems, but they won't even look at me. It makes me sick." he stated filled with anger. "They shoved us in there, with all these pathetic losers. It's their way of cleaning up the city of Saraf. Bintesch Street. One street which is the dumpster of everything they don't want to see.

Fist fights. Drugs. Drunks. Poverty. Insanity.

They created another community within them that lives a complete reversal of everything they know. And I, I live in the middle of all of it.

But, they still don't understand. I'm not like the others. They are not on my level." he clenched his hand into a fist filled with determination. "Those in power think they are smart. They think it will go their way. But… not for much longer." His eyes shone with revenge. "Soon... soon they will get what they deserve. And it's all thanks of you, grandpa." he cherished in his mind as his grandfather's image appeared in his imagination. He stared into the horizon as his pupils reflected the fire of faith in his heart. "Until then, I'll keep fighting for you. I will continue to do everything in my power to make you achieve your dream. A dream that will take both of us out of this disgusting place and change our reality and the reality of the entire world, forever."

------

On the same evening after it got dark, Ruan returned to his home. Suddenly, he heard strange noises. He knew they were strange because he had been the only one to live in his house for quite some time.

"Who's here?!" Ruan yelled firmly as he pulled a knife from his pocket and approached his grandfather's room. Looking at the beam of light emanating from the room, he walked slowly and carefully at its direction. When he got to the door, he saw a person rummaging through the drawers. His grandfather.

Mada Vanclief. 51 years old. Scientist.

Most of his head hair dropped out along with his grandson from school. To the sides of his head was from what was left of it, white hair that held tight with the rest of its strength.

"Huh?! Grandpa!" Ruan exclaimed in surprise, "What are you doing here?! Are you looking for something?". His grandfather continued his search without an answer. "You haven't come home in a few days. You're sleeping again on the lab table huh?" he asked a second time but again no answer was heard back. Mada ran in his room from side to side, among the various paper forms placed on the tables scattered in his room. "What are you eating there anyway?" Ruan asked for a third. "Real scientists, are the foundation of the future!" Mada called out loud. “Here it goes again…” Ruan rolled his eyes.

"The power within us, the "Energia", is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of human beings. It is what helped humans get to where they are today. Energia is used everywhere. In fighting. Work. Transportation. Fitness. It is a necessary force humans have learned to utilize in order to take our potential to the maximum. Simple logic says that we must understand exactly what it is in order to take full advantage of it, but no!" Mada yelled angrily as he punched the table in his room. The plastic cup that stood at the end it and contained pens and pencils, fell to the floor. Ruan raised his eyebrows in wonder. "Has he completely lost it or what?".

"They banned it! Those scoundrels in the government! Hundreds of years ago! Think to yourself where humanity would have been already if they hadn't done so!" he shouted madly while waving his fist in the air as Ruan collected the writing tools back into the cup. "They banned any research on the Energia and any component that could have been related to it! Those who oppose, are persecuted by them.

They do what they can to break us.

It's not just that. Throughout history the punishments for it have only gotten worse. Today, it reached such an unbelievable level that if they tie my name to Energia research, it's as good as a death sentence. I can't accept it! It's absurd!" Mada yelled furiously. "This law in itself is illegal! The same force that carried us throughout history, is allowed to be used but not to be researched. Not to be understood!" Mada yelled as he slammed his hands on the wooden table.

"Tell me another thing that every kid in kindergarten knows." Ruan scoffed to himself, trying to remember how many times he had already heard that speech before. However, the thought that he was the only one whom his grandfather was willing to share it with made his heart able to contain any new nonsense that he came up with.

"But... it's clear to me. They wouldn't do it without a reason. It was clear to me that they were hiding something. Until I realized what when I saw it with my own eyes.

I won't let them ground me to the ground.

I won't let them close my eyes in the desperate attempt to keep me a fool.

The curiosity of humans will never be curbed!" Mada yelled full of excitement. "No matter what! Our nature is to break out beyond our familiar boundaries!" he stood proud filled with motivation as he held the piece of paper he was looking for in his hand. "Back to the lab huh?" Ruan asked indifferently.

"Of course." replied Mada.

"Do you need something?" Ruan asked, trying to get his grandfather's attention one last time before his mind blossomed again into fiddling with formulas and diagrams. "No... just time. Not something you can get me... you already know. The deadline. Two more months. I have to do everything I can." Mada replied as he looked at Ruan. His red eyes signaled how severe his lack of sleep was.

"I know... I'll do what I can to help as much as possible." Ruan replied.

"I have to go back. See you soon." Mada said quickly as he walked towards his rusty car. A piece of junk that looked almost as old as him. The only vehicle that even on such a street, no one will try to rob.

"So at least another week huh?" Ruan muttered to himself, watching his grandfather's vehicle disappears into the horizon. "Always the same speech...". He knew his grandfather's condition, so he tried to disturb him as little as possible to avoid interrupting his train of thought.

The massive lack of sleep that he had suffered in the last few years gave its signs on his body and mind. Although he was in his fifties, as a result of the enormous stress he was under, he sometimes felt as if he were ninety. Frequently he would not remember his actions. For moments he would forget what had already been said. Sleepy from fatigue, but nevertheless with a complex mind and always remarkably sharp in all that had to do with his research.

"They say that once in a generation, born a man who is revolutionary-" Mada spoke to himself as he made his way to the lab located outside of the city of Saraf. "-I am that man. I will break through what is known and reveal the secrets of our reality. I will be the one who will reach the end of the humans and history pyramid and withstand on top of it! And I will do it… with this." Mada concluded as he opened the car's glove box with an ear-to-ear smile.

From there, he took out a small diamond stone, half the size of his palm. Rhombus-shaped and blue in color, he held it in his gloved hand as shivers went down his spine, looking at what he had been working on all those years.

The essence of his life.

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-Three months ago-

Two in the morning. On the roof of the tallest building in the city, sat a figure with a white hood.

The hoody completely covered its head and face, and slightly its shoulders. The hoodie-like design had two black stripes, one for each shoulder, and on the top, coarse stitching with a green thread. Under it, was a black suit all over its body. Surrounded by its Energia particles, it suddenly recognized something and with tremendous speed, it disappeared.

An unknown man with long hair was standing on the edge of a high cliff. It overlooked the landscape of the nearby city separated by a deep sea and a long bridge over it.

Riff, 31 years old. Quit his job after his wife left him.

Part of his foot was on the edge of the cliff, and part of it in the air. Small stone particles detached from the cliff and fell downhill slowly. The height of the cliff left no room for doubt. If he jumped, his death would be short and quick.

"I've been in your situation before." said the hooded figure.

"Huh?!" startled Riff, almost tripping off the cliff by mistake. "W-what? Wait, what?! Who-?!" he stammered, surprised at how the figure sat on the high cliff next to him without him noticing.

"I'm not here to hurt you. I'm not here to stop you either. It's your choice how to live your life, and how to end it. However, I'd appreciate it if you reconsider your steps." said the figure.

"Who are you?! How did you get here?! What do you want from me?!" Riff asked stressed and panicked. The hooded figure was silent.

"Answer me!" Riff demanded frightened and confused, "Are you good or bad?!".

"Good? What is good?" asked the figure as it continued looking at the horizon, avoiding looking at Riff. "Who am I? Nobody. What do I want from you? To help you." The figure answered calmly, looking towards the wide sea spread out in front.

"Help me? Who are you? A soldier in an elite police unit or something?" Riff asked confused. "Are you even a man? Your voice doesn't sound like a female voice, but I heard you guys have all sorts of voice distortions. The wonders of technology, eh?" Riff questioned indifferently. The figure didn't answer back. Riff stared along with it to the horizon. His long hair flutters in the cold, open air.

"Thanks, but you can't help me. You won't understand my pain." Riff said with a depressed look in his eyes, "I've lost everything I ever had. There's no reason for me to live anymore." he claimed confidently.

"I was in your shoes. I also lost everything I had." replied the figure. Riff looked at it in surprise, trying hard to detect any small hint of its identity, but its long hood covered everything grossly.

"I lost my meaning and became lost. But, if I jumped to my death, I would not only end my present, but also my future. And the future - is unknown." The hooded figure said.

"Will I find a new meaning? A reason to live? Sometimes, everything seems so empty. But my inner feeling tells me that there's still a chance. There is still hope." claimed the figure as it held its hoody its right hand, disrupting the wind from fluttering it around.

"You are naive." Riff stated, looking back at the horizon. "Your life won't get better. It never does." He shook his head in denial. "Our reality... is suffering. What do we even live for? We put all our effort into building something. Hoping to find someone to love, until it all comes crashing down before our eyes. And the circle turns again.

If she won't leave by her own choice-" Riff said in despondency, remembering his partner in the dark street corridor. A suitcase to her hand. She left without even take a look back at him for the last time. "-Time will take her away." He whispered, imagining himself in another reality, separating from her aging body as they held hands at deathbed.

"Nothing lasts forever. I'm sick of it. I can't take it anymore.

I'd rather end my life on my own terms, with my hand as the upper hand." Riff looked towards the figure who continued to sit motionlessly and indifferently on the edge of the cliff. "At least once in my life. For the first and last time." he concluded firmly.

"It's your choice." said the figure back as it bent one of its legs to hold its knee in its lap. "It's your view of reality. But, time shouldn't be a factor in why you choose to give up in the first place. Most of us try to steer our lives in a certain direction. Will we end up where we're aiming? I don't know. I ask myself the same question. But, if I don't try, how will I know?" the figure asked Riff as it slightly looked in his direction.

Riff watched the small gap that existed between the wide hood and the figure's face beneath it, but the darkness of the night prevented his plan. He quickly looked back towards the sea and the lights of the nearby city. "Ha! You speak like someone with confidence!" He opened his eyes wide with a loud cry. "Like someone strong! However, you choose to hide your face! What are you so afraid of?" he asked the figure with a pointed look.

The figure remained silent.

"I knew it." Riff hasten to determine as he looked away from the figure. "I'm not a stupid person myself so I know how to detect a smart one. You're lying." he claimed with a sad gaze in his eyes, looking at the hard ground lit by the streetlamp at the bottom of the cliff in front of him.

"You also know that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Life is a race nowhere. One way or another, we will all end up in the same place. I'm just taking a shortcut.

Don't hate me for that.

Not everyone is born strong. Some of us are born weak, and that's okay to be weak. It's okay, to let go..." Riff said as he closed his eyes when a moment later, his eyes' tears flowed up his forehead and cut off into the air. His hair flew wildly from side to side.

He falls fast.

The figure grumbled tiredly. It got up from the edge of the cliff slowly, looking at Riff rapidly descending. Suddenly, a powerful thump was heard from the bottom of the cliff.

The figure held Riff on its back. Breaking the fall caused a heavy gasp from Riff's lungs, which he himself was unaware he was capable of producing. Slowly, the figure crouched down with Riff on its back. Riff could feel the pressure concentrated in its thighs, like a cannon shot whose short fuse was about to release the shell at any moment. A huge pound was heard as in one jump, the figure returned to the spot at the edge of the cliff where it had been standing a moment ago. As a result of the shock Riff was in, the figure dropped him off its back itself. Riff looked at the view stunned.

"What... happened here…?" he asked himself, confused. "You... you saved me...?" he questioned shocked.

The figure didn't answer once more, avoiding direct gaze.

"You..." said Riff with a soft voice, which changed quickly. "You piece of scum! Until I was finally ready! Why did you do that?!" he asked gasping, boiling from anger.

"Being strong is a choice." said the figure. Riff was astonished as his line of thought was interrupted.

"Being strong is not a born given gift, it's a path you choose to take. A path you choose to take by choice.

In our lowest moments, we can see reality in its clearest form. So, I gave you a glimpse." The figure said, looking in Riff's direction but holding its hoodie in its hand so its face stayed hidden.

Riff's eyes opened wide as his body was frozen in place.

This was the first moment he noticed that there was truth in the character's words before him. Truth he didn't have time to digest yet.

"In your last moments, what did you see? The significant moments of your life? Your biggest disappointments? Childhood memories? Maybe you didn't see but felt?" The figure asked in interest, "Did you feel desperate? Scared? Happy? Maybe even, love?" The figure wondered.

Surprisingly, Riff was silent. He concentrated on the vision of him embracing his wife in an empty space that was only theirs.

"In these moments, we are able to learn the most about ourselves. To test what we really believe. I don't have all the answers to give you. I don't know enough myself. But, I have faith that no matter what happens in the future, I will do my best. And in the end, it will be better. As hard as it is for me to believe it right now, this is what I want to choose to believe in. Even if today, it seems almost impossible to me." said the figure and turned its gaze to the front, to the great sea.

"I want to believe-" he said as it looked up at the sky, watching the moon and the stars illuminate the night. "-The future will be bright.".

Immediately after, the figure lowered its gaze to the ground and advanced to the edge of the cliff. "You are welcome to go for it. This time, I won't stop you. If you still want to jump, it's in your hands. You will land on the hard ground and that will be the end. Or, you will choose to live one more day and try to see beyond what you see from your perspective today. If you choose not to jump, in the race of time, you may find that you made the right choice not to jump.

Or, you may find that you didn't.

What will you choose? The choice is yours only." said the figure as it jumped off the edge of the cliff. It held its hoody in its right hand so that it doesn't fly off in the swift air. With the sound of a tremendous bombardment, the figure landed on its feet at the bottom of the cliff again.

Riff looked at it from the top of it.

"A.. amazing." he looked at him in admiration, which quickly turned depressed.

"But… it just shows how different we are... I don't believe that I can ever be like you...".

A powerful impact was heard behind the white hooded figure. Splashes of Riff blood flew everywhere as they are almost hitting it.