Destined For Nothing

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Story synopsis:

Edenfire returns to Siren's Call for a showdown with his father Bludgeon. But Bludgeon doesn't just have his son outclassed and outmoved. He's stacked the odds so that Edenfire can't walk away from this fight without Bludgeon holding victory.

Part One

“Siren’s Call…”

Broken buildings and diagonal foundations littered the skyline above the apartments in the building of the Northeast of the zone. The blue glow of the war walls cast an eerie shine down upon the ground, making a long shadow out of the sole citizen on its street.

“Be it ever so humble…”

A man clad in a maroon bodysuit and mask that covered only the sides and back of his orange-red hair walked up the steps to the front door of an apartment, both fallen to disrepair over the years of disuse and battle. His hands grasped the railing up the stairs, heavy gauntlets that covered the skin from his fingers to his elbows. The clump of his heavy boots resounded lowly down the street, a bass-filled echo threatening to give away his position to unfriendly locals. He was careful to swing his arms wider than usual as he walked, to prevent his chest armor and shoulder guards from making any more noise than he already was.

He spoke to himself, trying to make himself feel less lonely. This place was nothing like it used to be. It had fallen from grace, into a husk used as a battlefield between warring gangs and factions. The hospital here had been reduced to something more akin to a wartime medical facility. So barren was the streets in this part of town, he couldn’t help but startle at the sound of another man’s voice, finishing his sentence.

“…There’s no place like home.”

Within an instant, the surroundings blurred as the interloper thrust him through the brick wall and into the back of a rotted and torn sofa that rest inside. It flipped over on impact, and with a groan, he pushed himself free of the couch’s weight.

“Good to see you, Bludgeon,” he moaned sarcastically, wiping the ache from his face, and struggling to sit up. His mouth closed, and a massive vice-like hand wrapped around his throat, lifting him from the floor, and high into the air. His head could have touched the ceiling, if he had the ability to crane his neck.

“Welcome back, Christian,” the hulking frame spoke, lowering him to eye level, “Or, do I call you ‘Edenfire’, now?”

He threw Christian across the room, and snorted in laughter as the smaller body bounced off the wall and to the floor. “I can’t believe you have the bearings to show your mask around here again. Didn’t you learn your lesson?”

Christian exhaled sharply, his cheeks billowing in the painful outtake of air, “What..? Do you just sit around here and reminisce?”

He looked up at the goliath, as his eyes faded and hazed. In an instant, he was taken away from this place, and brought back in time, if only in his mind. A temporary escape from the physical world where he was pinned in the corner of his old home by the same monster who imposed his will onto its former occupants.

“Your mom said those exact words to me when she came back here,” Bludgeon snarled, forcing him back to the present. His voice became thick with insult, “And then I snapped her neck with my thumb and forefinger.”

Eden’ felt his spine shake in both anger and hurt. But not fear. He had looked forward to this for too long to be afraid now. “Coward…”

Bludgeon grabbed Edenfire by the boot, and hefted him from the floor, “Sorry? What did you say?” He swung him slightly back and forth before him, “Are you namecalling, kid?”

A blue-white glow emanated from Edenfire’s hands. In a swing of his knees he reared backwards and swung forth, the arc giving him just enough push to shove his hands into the face of the brute who held him. From his body, an intense, heavy burst of energy fired from the palms of his gauntlets, sending Bludgeon backwards and releasing his grip, sending Eden in a backspin. With a rotation of his back and legs, he managed to land on his knees and one hand, balancing before standing up, and aiming his palm at his attacker.

Who was now gone.

“I never claimed I had a father I looked up to,” he said, knowing Bludgeon was still nearby, “But for you to just run out on me when your eyebrows get burnt off? Isn't that just pretty sad…”

Part Two

The bottoms of Edenfire’s heavy tactical boots clumped softly on the sidewalk. As he moved slowly, avoiding shadows, and making his way up the street and away from his former home. His arm twitched in anticipation, and Eden’ had to force himself not to leak any of the dangerous energy his body produced for fear of giving away any element of surprise he might still have.

Come on, old man, He thought to himself, turning his body to an angle towards the street to get a better angle at what it may hide, You didn’t want me to cut and run and after all the bantering you always spewed, I know you wouldn’t run too…

A shadow passed his, reflecting in the dull light the moon provided. On a pivoted heel, Eden’ spun about, and fired two bursts, one from each palm, and gritted his teeth as he caught nothing but air. His ears twitched, and he jumped to the right, into the middle of the streets, rolling sideways as he landed, and back to his feet, all as a heavy blue mailbox swung past his skull, missing him by inches.

“You’re quick! But all the speed in the world won’t save you if it only takes one shot to break your spine in two!”

The mailbox fell to the ground with a loud, ear-ringing “clang” at Bludgeon’s feet, “Christian, Christian…” he sighed, “Ever the brat, aren’t you?”

His giant frame fell backwards onto the sidewalk, and he folded his arms between his legs, looking intently at his son, “Really? Did you really have to have that big of a conscience? I mean, didn’t I do everything for y--”

“You did everything to twist my head as bad as yours!” Edenfire interrupted, baring his teeth and clenching his fists, “I’ve spent years aching and bleeding to prove to myself I don’t have an issue with my daddy. I never wanted that to be my reasoning. The only thing you did for me was give me the ability to tell the right from wrong.”

“And it hurts, doesn’t it?”

Christian furrowed his brow, and sneered as he shook his head, “What the hell are you talking about?”

Bludgeon let his head fall back as he looked carelessly into the navy blue sky above Siren’s Call. “The people I killed, the places I robbed, the plans I muscled into action under someone else’s IQ? That’s what power is supposed to mean. Being able to do what you want and take what you want, that was what I tried to teach you.”

“So you killed my mom?” Eden’ took a heavy breath to keep the memories out. “Was that just another show of power?”

“No…” Bludgeon’s head fell forward and between his knees as he hid his face and stared at the ground. He was silent.

Christian’s face softened. Was there an explanation to hear? All these years he had spent fueling himself with what he thought was the truth… What if it wasn’t true at all?

He stepped forward, “What… was it..?”

Bludgeon shook his head. His shoulders began to bounce in silent sobs…

Edenfire realized too late that it was laughter. And he was just close enough to be hit.

Bludgeon swung both his arms upward, looking to connect with Edenfire’s chin. In reaction, Eden’ pushed out enough energy to soften the attack. But as the heavy fists of his assailant hammered the wall of energy, the momentum he carried knocked Eden’ backwards, into the air, shortly before he collided with the rocky and ragged street. It knocked the breath out of him, as he forced his arms to hold him up.

“It wasn’t power, Chris! It was control!” Bludgeon had stumbled, but he hadn’t fallen when the wall rebounded his effort, and now he was standing tall. “Your loving mother stole you from your birthright. From joining me as my ward and using your powers to help prove that ‘survival of the fittest’ is more than an ideal, it’s how life works, both in and out!”

Eden’s face twisted in anger, “There’s more to life than being strong, Bludgeon,” he growled, “There’s more to life than being in control! Sometimes you just have to be able to sort it out into shades of grey, instead of black and white, and that’s why you don’t get it!”

Eden’s hands began to glow again, a pulsing blue-white light. He leapt at Bludgeon, arm’s outstretched and fired, but before the blasts could reach their target, the target reached them. He wrapped his gigantic hands around Eden fire’s gauntlets and snuffed the energy out.

The monster’s hands began to sizzle, as he whipped Edenfire into a wide arc and released, sending his son spinning sideways through the air and colliding with the brick and cement of the second story of a building. Crumbling debris and framing fell around him, as Eden’ weakly pried himself from the wall, and fell over twenty feet to the street.

He coughed, and wasn’t surprised at all when he tasted blood. Mentally, he searched himself over for bone fractures. Maybe a rib or two. Maybe just bruising. He couldn’t tell from here, the adrenaline was beginning to push back against the pain.

“There’s two shades of grey, Christian. Life. And Death. Light. And Darkness. That’s all that lies between good and evil, a razor-thin fence that blends the middle. And your cynicism in the daily events you face threaten to push you either which way, but power flows greater in one direction. Towards me. And if you won’t see, then I’ll force your eyes open.”

Bludgeon grabbed Eden by the head with his massive grasp, and lifted him off the ground to eye level, with one arm. “I tried to give you the option. Tried to give your mother the option. But she ran with you when you were nothing more than a baby. Took you away, into Paragon; Atlas Park, at that, where the ability to keep me from you was at its peak. When she came back here for your belongings, I found here walking out of that apartment with two objects: the baby blanket you were given in the cradle, and a picture of herself.”

Eden began to writhe against his grip, but Bludgeon only squeezed his cranium harder, “She knew! She knew I would end her pathetic and misbegotten existence. She knew I was going to kill her before long, and all she wanted for you was comfort, and a memory! I made sure you got neither!”

Edenfire kicked wildly, his feet connecting with Bludgeon’s chest and gut, but not making any impact in his favor, “I’m better than you,” he choked between pangs of ache in his brain, “You gave me no choice, but I still chose…”

“But you chose wrong!” Bludgeon spun back towards the street, and slammed Edenfire into the asphalt, leaving a cracked outline as he released him and let the prone body rest on the ground, “You chose to deny the power you could have had! Now, you’re cursed to wear those gauntlets to keep that power in check, or risk it flaring out and killing you! Power gives you control of power, Christian, you were too ignorant! Still you are ignorant!”

Edenfire knew he didn’t have the strength to keep fighting like this, regardless of the adrenalin pounding through his veins. He just needed a little more time. Just another chance to build up a defense. He felt the urge to cry out of pain and scream in anguish, but Bludgeon would be denied that satisfaction, even if it killed him.

“Weakness, Christian. That is what you embody now.” Bludgeon placed a heavy boot on his chest and pinned him down. He reached back and patted his back pocket, “And if I need to reach over that razor-thin fence and drag you into darkness, than that’s what I will do!”

“Then… do it on your knees.” Eden forced his arms to work and grasped Bludgeon by the calf of the leg that held him tight to the ground.


A hard blast of energy coursed from Eden’s hands and fired into either side of Bludgeon’s lower leg. In a howl, the giant reeled back at the burning sensation, and released his son. Forcing himself to his feet, Eden fired again, hitting his father in the chest. It didn’t topple him, it barely phased him, but it succeeded in putting distance between them.

Bludgeon breathed hard, forcing the wind that had been knocked out of him to return, “You got heart, son, I’ll admit it,” he ordered his spine to straighten and keep himself tall. Closing his eyes for a moment to focus, he brought his chest to barrel out, but when he opened, all was white-hot.

Eden’ took the chance to lunge at his father, and fired another blast at point blank range, sending his father staggering backwards. The pressure pushed Eden backwards in the air, and he struggled to keep standing as he hit the ground

He stepped backwards, every movement threatening to let him fall over under his own weakened weight. “Weakness isn’t the same as selflessness,” he scolded, as he let himself fall to a knee.

Bludgeon coughed to clear the smoke from his lungs. He felt like he had just swallowed fire, “No, weakness is letting yourself fall victim to your own handicaps. You’re held back by your fear to unleash yourself. Is it wrong for a father to want his son to be the best?”

Edenfire looked down at his gauntlets and shook his head, “Yeah, you’re right, maybe it’s about time to take these things off and see what happens,” He looked up as Bludgeon, whose face turned stone cold. Folding his fingers like he was cracking his knuckles, Edenfire pressed and sent the joints in his gauntlets to their breaking point, splintering everything from the wrist down, pieces of metal and steel dropping to the ground as he held his palms out towards his father, “Thanks for the talk, dad.”

A massive arc of energy fired from his hands in thick blasts, and collided with Bludgeon with all the delicacy of a trackless tank. It hammered him against the brick wall, and didn’t stop coming until he fell to the ground, face first.

Eden forced his hands closed and shoved them to the street, trying to cap the energy geyser flowing from him. After a few moments of expending the energy openly, it began to fade and cease, leaving Edenfire winded and breathless. He was relieved it was--

Motion ahead of him. Bludgeon began to stur. And Eden let his head fall forward, “Aren’t you done yet?”

His father stood, visibly weak and wounded. The hair from his head was burned away, and his leather outfit was melted in various places, in some, merged with his skin in a sick concoction of burned flesh and clothing. “It won’t ever be done, Christian,” he wheezed, “You still sit on that fence, ever ready to fall when I want you to.”

Eden’ shook his head.

“You still wait to fall into darkness, Christian,” Bludgeon coughed and hacked, slowly stepping closer. He reached into his back pocket, and pulled from it a black gem. “And of all the things in this entire universe, the only thing that is truly everlasting, ever eternal, is the darkness.”

“Nothing is eternal!”

Edenfire cried out loud, opening his hands again, and forcing what energy left in him to expel itself. Bracing his back, the blast of blue-white energy pounded Bludgeon off the ground and into the air, and he dropped the black gem to the ground.

In an instant, it was done. Eden wasted himself in the attack and fell backwards, exhausted. The a heavy ‘thump’, Bludgeon followed. This time, he didn’t move at all.

Christian sat up, and looked around. His vision faded a bit from the tiring ordeal, and he shook his head slowly to try and keep awake. Crawling on his hands and knees, he moved cautiously towards his father. Was that it? Finally?

A glint caught his eye, and he diverted his attention, searching for the cause. The mysterious black gem Bludgeon had produced. Eden’ reached for it, cautiously, and picked it up.

“You still wait to fall into darkness, Christian.”

Bludgeon’s words seemed to fill him.

“And of all the things in this entire universe, the only thing that is truly everlasting, ever eternal, is the darkness.”

A black energy spread from the gem and enveloped him. Edenfire found himself breathless as it tugged at him, then faded.

“What….the hell… was that..?” Edenfire breathed in relief as the energy faded. He felt fine in a sense. The pain that racked his ribs before faded away slowly, and was replaced by a soothing cool. But at the same time, something was wrong. He stared at the gem. “What is this?”

He looked back towards the city buildings on the other side of the blue glow of Siren’s Call’s war walls. This ordeal was over. And rest called.

Meanwhile, at the Ziggurat prison, Brickstown, Paragon…

New eyes opened up in the darkness of an empty cell on the far side of the prison block. An explosion rocked the walls, and the cell doors opened up into the hall. Dozens of other prisoners rushed past, as the inmate moved to the open door, and looked out, from under black hood and mouth mask. They had come for him, and he knew it. He felt it. And it was all just one more stepping stone towards his goal. With a tense of his hands, and a quick mental focus, two swords formed in his hands, blue-white in color.

But before his goal could be accomplished, he would have to slay guard and inmate alike to make his escape. With a covered grin, he moved into the hallway, and into the havoc.

Part Three

The Rogue Isles smelled of smog, death, and civil unrest. Today was like any other day, and Darwin’s Landing was like any other island in the Arachnos controlled vicinity: full of despair and false hope. Here it was, between the shanties and garbage-constructed homes of the vagrants taking up residence, that Christian McDaniel, Edenfire, stared into what he could have sworn was a mirror. Until a blue-white sword stabbed forward. With a quick twist to evade, the blade missed its target, his chest, and penetrated the muscle of his right bicep.

“I have a purpose,” the other said, “You were destined for nothing, Christian. Just as I was born nothing.”

3 Days Ago… Ziggurat prison, Brickstown, Paragon

New eyes opened up in the darkness of an empty cell on the far side of the prison block. An explosion rocked the walls, and the cell doors opened up into the hall. Dozens of other prisoners rushed past, as the inmate moved to the open door, and looked out, from under black hood and mouth mask. They had come for him, and he knew it. He felt it. And it was all just one more stepping stone towards his goal. With a tense of his hands, and a quick mental focus, two swords formed in his hands, blue-white in color.

But before his goal could be accomplished, he would have to slay guard and inmate alike to make his escape. With a covered grin, he moved into the hallway, and into the havoc.

With a twist of his arm and a spin of the blade, a security guard fell in a heap of his own blood, ceasing to be. From under the hood, the dark-clad figure rounded a corner and took a defensive stance, blades held ahead of him, as he faced down three more guards, armed with rifles, and taking aim.

One looked up from his scope, “Who the hell is tha-…”

His words trailed off as a blue-white sword tore through his leg, sending him to the ground. The inmate was airborne, spinning in the ether as two more slashes ended the other two guards.

As he landed, the swordsman gave his body a graceful twist, as he kneeled down next to the first crippled guard. With a dramatic cue, he pulled back the hood and mask, revealing orange-red hair, and blue eyes.

“I am a nobody in shadows, officer,” he said, shaking his head, hiding more than he revealed in his words, “Rest now, you tried.”

The man stood and the twin blades he carried vanished from his hands, a cloud of their blue hue fading into the air. He walked tall, full of confidence, and determined. He stepped over the clutter of debris that led to the courtyard, not giving an inch of ground to the other inmates who barged past him. He delighted in their attempts at retribution on the guards who had jailed them, ganging up in groups to assail a single guard.

He decided against partaking in the violence. He could feel a calling in his head. The other side of the courtyard, he could see it now, the feint outline of a woman and an Arachnos Flier. He halted, and surveyed the open yard. From atop towers, officers fired stun rounds from their rifles to try and calm the riot, halting inmates where they stood with a single shot.

A round sailed past his face, and he looked up at the nearest tower with a glint of anger in his eyes. As the officer reloaded, the man pulled his mask and hood back over his face, and dashed into the shadows under the searchlights, effectively fading into the darkness.

Covering hundreds of yards in just a few seconds, he reemerged from the dark and into the clearing of the courtyard near the woman. He noted the demonic wings sprouted from her back, and the brilliantly white, short hair. He bowed his head, “You have come for me?”

She smiled and nodded, “Only if you get in the flier fast enough to escape the Longbows. They shoot us down, you’re on your own again.”

He nodded, and stepped aboard the flier, as she fired up the engines.

The lid of the craft shut with a pneumatic hiss, “Do you know who you are,” she asked.

He was silent, before he opened his mouth, “Xeden.”

“Do you remember your real name?”

Meanwhile… Atlas Park, City Hall, MAGI offices


Christian had normal clothing on now; blue jeans and a red shirt, a blue vest with the Mega Corps logo adorned on its chest. He was off the clock, and never liked hearing his codename in public. Not that he cared about his identity, all those he cared about were in the Hero business with him. It just reminded him of work, and when he was on personal business, “work” was the last thing on his mind.

Azuria waved to get his attention, but Christian heard it. He stood from the seat he had marked as his own and approached her desk, “What did you find?”

She shrugged, “All I can trace of it is that it’s a very ancient Circle of Thorns artifact, called the Tribuo Animus. All of our mystics can only solidly agree that it’s bad.” Her voice trailed off for a second as she eyed the strange black gem the hero had brought her. “You said you touched it when your fath--”


She nodded, understanding, but impatient at the interruption, “…When Bludgeon was defeated..?”

He nodded. “Then a-- a dark energy surrounded me... healed my wounds, and left me with this feeling of longing.”

Azuria nodded, having already heard the information. “I’m afraid I can’t help you in the way you asked for. For anyone here to handle this gem would only result in further damage to you. It seems Bludgeon was determined to get the last laugh. I trust you can keep it safe from harm?”

Christian nodded, grabbing the gem, and placing it in a case, “Well, as cryptic as it was, thanks.”

Azuria smiled, “Good fortune to you hero. Stay in touch in case anything comes up”

2 Days Ago… Darwin’s Landing, The Rogue Isles

“I remember everything. Then nothing. Then waking up in Brickstown. What happened in the meanwhile?” Xeden stood on the rocky polluted shoreline, watching the sunlight reflect off the water’s glassy surface, “Tell me, Xaryah, how did you know where I was?”

“Easy, love, I gave that black gem to Bludgeon to begin with.” Her wings flapped anxiously behind her, “Suffice it to say he and I had a like target.”

“Edenfire? Bludgeon I understand, but you?” He looked at her through the corner of his eye, “What do you gain?”

“He and my sister go back. And I want her dead, and to make Eden’ suffer accomplishes that goal.”

Xeden’s ears perked up, “Xaeda? You are her sister, eh? The half-demon spawn of her mother?” The knowledge sprouted in random pieces from his mind like wild vines, “Xaeda spoke of you. Never kindly.”

“Now you see why I gave the Tribuo Animus to Bludgeon. You wish Edenfire to your own ends, as do I. As did Bludgeon, before his epic failure.” She put her hand on his shoulder, and slowly moved her nose closer to his neck, “You don’t pity the lose as well do you?”

“Of Bludgeon? No. I would have dealt with him sooner or later myself, once I am whole again.”

It was silent for a blink in time.

“Why do I not possess his powers,” Xeden didn’t ask so much as command her to answer. And Xaryah didn’t mind. She knew this reaction, and other such notions, were only natural.

“He emptied himself destroying Bludgeon, became powerless for those few moments. In that time, when he touched the Tribuo Animus, he was nothing more than a man.”

She pulled away from him and stepped aside, as he turned and marched back along the complex between the shanties and garbage-constructed homes of the vagrants taking up residence. “But what you lack in his strength, you make up for in will. His body and will were familiar with his abilities, and as such so is yours, but your strength of will allows you to focus what little energy you may have leached from him into your blades. Lose that concentration, and lose your life…”

She gave him a pouty look, “If you could call this ‘life’.”

Xeden growled, and kicked the shanty wall. In a heap, it fell upon itself, “So why was I taken so far from him? Why could I have not simply eliminated him then and there while he was weak?”

“Don’t be angry, Xeden,” she cooed, rubbing a wing against his back, “You can’t. You lack the ability to produce emotion.”

Xeden let out his breath in a huff, “Not as I am, not as this abomination.”

“You are no such thing, you are free within temporary constraints. You awoke in the Zigg because in the separation, the soul will seek despair, ache of fellow souls. The nearest place where that kind of thing is in abundance is--”

“Brickstown Prison…” Xeden finished the sentence as she spoke. The gears finally began to work together as the haze in his head lifted. “I am his soul. He is the heart and body.”

Xaryah smiled at him, “Now you get the picture…ex-Eden.”

1 Day Ago Mega Corps Headquarters

Christian sat in the corner of the library. He had pulled a chair into the back of the room, and sat in silence.

“You still wait to fall into darkness, Christian. And of all the things in this entire universe, the only thing that is truly everlasting, ever eternal, is the darkness.”

He shivered. The last words of his father had been echoing through his head for days now, repeating as though Bludgeon sat over his shoulder with nothing else in the world to do but drive him mad. He felt somehow hollow now. Like an open expanse in his very being had opened and expelled its contents into the void.

“You don’t look well…”

Christian jumped. He moved himself back here to be away from the traffic of heroes moving in and out of the base. Yet here stood Dawnstar, smiling as she always did, and looking concerned.

“Worn out a lot lately,” Christian said, half lying, “Haven’t been sleeping too much lately.”

She nodded, “Things are always hectic in Paragon City,” she confided, “Just count your lucky stars you aren’t one of our global agents. They have it rougher than anyone.”

“Yeah…” his voice faded off after that.

Dawn’ gave him a stern stare, “That isn’t all, is it?”

He sighed, “No, it’s not, I…” How to wrap the story up without making it seem worse, “I fought a villian in Siren’s Call the other day. And I haven’t felt the same since.”

“You knew him?” Dawn’ pulled a chair up nearby him and sat down.

“Yeah,” Christian winced, not wanting to tell this story, “He was my dad.”

Dawnstar’s eyes widened. No wonder he was in such a rut, “Oh.”

“Well, I didn’t want to lie to you. These things come out in the end, and I don’t want that reputation.”

“I can respect that. But keeping it to yourself is just as bad. It wasn’t just about relation, was it?”

Christian rolled his head. Women’s intuition, truly man’s greatest foe. “He did something to me. He kept talking as if he would sway me into joining him and it never let up. Then, I found this…” From his jacket pocket, he produced the black gem.

“Even MAGI doesn’t know what it does, but it’s done something really negative to me.”

Dawn’ furrowed her brow, “So, who other than your dad would want something to happen to you?”

“I’ve made a lot of enemies in this line of work, Dawn,” he said, a feint smile on his face,” Mostly because of my work as an informant in the Rogue Isles early in my days.”

Dawnstar nodded, “Ok, who of them would have access to something so mystical that MAGI couldn’t even scratch it?”

Christian began to shake his head, then let the realization strike him, “Xaryah…”

5 Minutes Ago Darwin’s Landing, Mercy Island

Edenfire fell from the air from 3 stories up. His flight speed had diminished as of late, but at least the landing wouldn’t be as rough. His heavy boots clumped into the grimy sand of the beach along Mercy’s coastline, leaving heavy indentations in the sand. The air reeked here, like brimstone. A sign he was in the right place.

“The red hair, the costume, those eyes… You must be Edenfire.”

“Xaryah, yes?” Eden’ looked up the beach. The demonic wings were a dead giveaway, “Did you give Bludgeon the Tribuo Animus?”

“Straight to the point,” she said, walking nonchalantly towards him, “Xaeda does know how to pick ‘em. I like that.”

“You don’t like jack crap about her,” Eden’ replied. He raised his arm towards her, a closed fist that began to glow with a pulsing blue-white, “One more chance to give me what I want.”

“You mean a simple yes or no,” She smiled, stopping and crossing her arms, “or your soul?”

Eden’s eyes twitched. That’s what the black gem had done…

“What are you talking about?”

“Tribuo Animus. Latin for the ‘Divided Soul’. That’s the parting gift your father left for you, Edenfire.”

Eden’ lowered his hand.

“You still wait to fall into darkness, Christian. And of all the things in this entire universe, the only thing that is truly everlasting, ever eternal, is the darkness.”

“You see, dear Eden’, the human vessel in terms of magic, is made up of three components: heart, body, and soul. The emotion and strength, that all resides in the heart and body. But the desire, that’s the soul, and desire can be corrupted.”

Eden dropped his gaze, it fell to the ground as he realized his fathers true last words, “He wanted me to fall in to darkness, to him there was no alternative than this, to not have a choice.”

Xaryah pointed at him, her fingers aimed like a gun, recoiling with her smile, “Bingo, sweetie. And your soul, he’s been walking around here with quite the attitude.”

Eden’s head snapped back to her, quizzically, asking questions with his stare.

“The soul is power, Eden’. To be sure enough, for it to thrive on its own, the chances are almost impossible,” through the tone of her voice, Edenfire could tell all this amused her, “But he did. And he is so driven to find you again.

“You see, the soul cannot survive without heart and body, and all he has now is to become one with you in your weakened state, to let the corruption take you and he can be whole again, taking with it the body and heart. Just like you are, or were, at least, but more like what your father wanted of you.”

“Who? Who are you talking about?” A blue-white blur sped past his face. Eden’ looked to the ground as a sword blade faded into a haze and disappeared.

“She speaks of me, other.”

Edenfire turned. Above him on one of the shanty roofs, stood a man in a black trench coat and hood. A mask covered his lower face so all that ea exposed to him were the blue eyes, locked on him. In a graceful slip, he fell from the roof and landed on a foot, gaining balance, and let his other rest on the ground. He stood at an angle, one blade ahead of him, one behind.

“I don’t even feel anger for you, Edenfire,” Xeden said, “With no heart in me, I lack the capacity to have any emotion, only the drive to be unified. I can pretend to feel, but all that is real to me is becoming whole again.”

You want to be whole!? I’m the one who’s been split in two by some spell I don’t even half-understand! You took it from me, not the other way around!” Edenfire slid into a defensive stance, one arm aimed at Xeden, his other arm bracing it, and feet spread to assure footing.

“No, Edenfire, I am nothing, not until I am whole. I am nobody, not even meant to exist. Such as I am anyway. That is why I need you. To be whole again.” He began moving forward, despite Eden’s visual warning. “I am that darkness your father spoke of, Edenfire. The dark taint on your soul that will edge its way into your heart and corrupt your body. The darkness you are destined to fall away towards is me. And who am I to deny destiny?”

Eden’ grinned and nodded, “I told my dad something when he started rambling much like you do now. We have no choice sometimes, but we still choose.”

“He also told you that the path he sent you on was eternal in its spiral.”

“And I told him nothing is eternal!”

Darkness is eternal!”

Eden’ fired hard. The blast sailed under Xeden as he launched himself into the air, and moved towards his opponent, swords outdrawn. Eden’ blocked it with his gauntlet, the blade sparking against them. The two of them pressed against each other and Edenfire stared into what he could have sworn was a mirror. Until the other blue-white sword stabbed forward. With a quick twist to evade, the blade missed its target, his chest, and penetrated the muscle of his right bicep.

“I have a purpose,” the other said, “You were destined for nothing, Christian. Just as I was born nothing.”

“Nothing, is right,” Edenfire spat, clutching his wounded limb, “You’re just an piece of a puzzle, swept under the table while the rest of the pieces form a whole. But the puzzle doesn’t come to the piece, the piece comes back to the puzzle, and if you think you’re gonna topple me, I have a list to add you to!”

“Every the talkative optimist, aren’t we,” Xeden sighed, moving forward again, “The only thing you need be happy about right now is in knowing that I won’t kill you, only to weaken you enough to where I can take from you what I need.” He lunged, both blades pointed out.

Eden’ dropped to his knees, and the blades sailed over him. Bracing one foot, he sprung up and caught Xeden with an uppercut, racking his chin along Eden’s gauntlet, and knocking him into the air so hard the swordsman released the hold on his weapons, and flipped backwards end over end.

He landed on the beach with authority, clearly marking it with the indentation of his shape. For a moment, Xeden was quiet, motionless. His hand moved first, reaching for his black hood, and pulling it back, as the rest of his body sat up.

Red hair exposed itself from the hood’s cover, darker than Eden’s, but as Xeden pulled away the facemask, the resemblance was unmistakable, “It would seem I am not yet ready for this fight,” Xeden admitted. He felt his jaw, and popped it back to the left, centering it on his face.

Edenfire hesitated. His words were slower, more collected, “You were the one who was destined for nothing, Xeden, not me. You’re a nobody. You shouldn’t exist, you said so yourself. And I think that is the most tragic thing in all the world, to have nothing to exist for, but doomed to do it anyway. Don’t you remember how tragedy feels?”

Xeden looked to the ground, silent, then back to his remnants, and shook his head, “Unfortunately, I don’t.”

Darkness grew from his shadow, and enveloped him, covering him entirely, and swallowed him as he disappeared into his own shadow, retreating for another time.

Edenfire stared blankly ahead for a long moment, before turning back to Xaryah, still standing with a smile on her face, “You created that thing to eliminate me, yes?”

She nodded, “Of course.”

“But you aren’t really concerned with me, are you?” He held his bloody arm to his chest, knowing he would need medical attention before the blood loss made him woozy.

“No. I’m not.”

“You want Xaeda, don’t you?”

She nodded, “She was the pretty one, even my father thought to, and if I see a way to make her suffer through it, I’ll always be there.”

He nodded, and turned away, heading for the ocean, ready to take flight back home, to mend his wounds and sleep off the pain.

“Bastille knows of her,” she added quickly.

Eden’ stopped. His heart sank into his gut. Bastille. The head of the League of Malevolence. His name drove a spike into Edenfire's mind.

“Bastille knows of her, and just as I use you to get to her, he will use her to get to you.”

He said nothing. As he stepped into the air, and headed for Paragon City. The sun was beginning to set before him in the western sky, turning the sea orange in its glow, and Edenfire couldn’t help but feel that setting sun was a metaphor meant for him to ponder.

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