Rexus-2Bposter

Raiden & Rexus

 

Rexus Poloray stood in the forest clearing and waited for nighttime sky. He wanted to think of her, but the risk of death made other memories surface.

He recalled falling asleep snuggled up to his mother one night when he was three, and waking up the next morning in a garbage can miles from home. He wandered the dirt-paved roads and endured the scorns of others while he ate crumbs of pastries from the ground. He was shooed out of bakeries and ignored by adults when he asked for help. It took him two weeks to find home and see the new couple in his family’s place. He watched from across the street in tears while a mother bundled her son in the baby blanket that once kept him warm.

The months after where like those weeks before. Evenings were spent searching for shelter while the wind whistled through the holes in his clothes. At night he laid next to other lost souls packed like puzzle pieces on the floors of abandoned homes. He fought to sleep amidst his stomach grumbles, the snores, and the smells of the dirty flesh and unwashed clothes all around him.

The plague that first winter made many familiar faces freeze over; their eyes turned milky and gray. He thought it a miracle that he survived, but that only led to more cold nights and scathing looks from the more fortunate.

Those looks provided him some solace while he waited for his answers. He hoped to see those same sneers in people if they tried stop him. It would be the last expression they ever made.

 

Raiden Arias let out a staggered breath and wiped the layer of sweat between his palms and the steering wheel. Branches and leaves smacked his air shuttle and scraped along the glass with their untrimmed fingernails.

The mist emitted by the limbs of trees grew too thick to see through. Hela’s rays cut through the breaks in leaves and provided light to guide his way, but Hela was descending and soon the moon will claim the sky and give the mist a ghostly glow. He should reach his destination before then, but that only made him more anxious.

The twin red beams of his father’s break lights gleamed through the layers of forest clouds. The pair of lights lowered to the ground until the bottom rails of Father’s shuttle kiss the dirt. Raiden was relieved that the driving portion was over but knew that he’d lose both his shield and his means of escape once he stepped out of his vehicle. His rusty skills with a gunblade gave him little confidence. He needed to become one with the forest with the dusk and the quiet as his two closest friends.

 

Rexus Poloray closed his eyes and fixated on his one glimpse of light. The light didn’t come from the boundless horizons or the neon glows of bustling city-states, but from Trista Burkins.

It took until he attended a university before he found someone interested in his story. When he finally told her, she responded with a gentle hug that closed the chasm between them and provided him the warmth he’d need to keep from freezing in the most blistering of blizzards. It was the only evidence he had to prove that his life wasn’t meant to be lived between the dusk and the darkness.

Rexus reopened his eyes. Recalling his memories stung like a red hot dagger, but what happened after was worse. Thirteen years later, he still didn’t understand. All he knew is that there will be an image revealed in this clearing at dusk and that it would get him one step closer to the reasons for why Trista is sick. A cure would invite him back into her life.

He waited and hoped that his actions for obtaining this first clue wouldn’t have consequences. He already threatened one life in exchange for hers. If he had to take one, so be it.

 

Raiden wasn’t ready to let Father know that he followed them—especially when he was instructed not to. He found another clearing a couple of hundred feet from where they parked and quietly landed on a soft pile of leaves. A pair of bushes beside Raiden’s shuttle emitted a flurry of tiny green orbs that fluttered into the air, then evaporated like dying fireflies.

Raiden stepped out onto the mossy grass and withdrew his gunblade. The pistol itself was less than half a foot in length, but when he thrust it forward a silver, three-foot-long blade shot out of it. If anything was looking for prey, he hoped to be ready for it.

He trudged through the wildberry bushes as another species of plants exhaled orbs of yellow and white. Their flickering lights paved his way. The canopy above was so thick that Hela’s rays thinned to mere strings of light.

There was no telling how far ahead Father and Hastings are, but the alcove they parked in front of made it clear where they are heading. Between a set of trees as wide as Palace walls was a pair of leaves large enough to lie across. They bent toward one another and formed an archway into another world.

He stepped forward into the darkness, feeling the bristles of leaves tickle and scratch at his ankles. His paces were slow and steady like that of a dog’s when called by an abusive owner. Somewhere from above the birds were chirping, oblivious to the quivering man beneath them. He tried to count his steps, but lost track when the flutter of wings smacked into the thick leaves of trees to his left.

He gasped and jerked simultaneously, accidentally shooting a stun orb from his blade. The yellow orb coated with lightening streaks darted north and evaporated into the leaves, casting light on a tree stump a few hundred feet ahead. Raiden got a glimpse of another stump next to the first and cocked his head. It was unusual in this part of the forest to see two stumps in such proximity. He quickened his pace and retracted his gunblade.

A pile of sludge puckered around his boots just before he reached the wooden stumps. He scowled and fought with the puddle to lift them. It was as thick as drying cement and almost won the fight, but Raiden managed to remove his feet from the muddy claws. Several plants around him exhaled another set of orbs and cast light on two other sets of footprints trudging toward the base of the stumps. The orbs lit up a whole line of them: a stairway in the middle of the forest.

 

Rexus did not like this time to reflect.

Trista refused to tell him what is wrong or how she came down with her condition. She refused to see him entirely. Still, he had to save her. He had to get that feeling back, missing the warmth that only came from humanity.

The liaison between him and the Ravens of Dusk proposed a solution, but their words were as cryptic as the actions of the Ravens themselves. It was nearly ten years since their first conversation, and in that time, he’d still yet to meet them. He knew of the Transcendence Theory, but not of what it was or how it would save her. All he knew was that this was the location of the first clue.

Even learning that was a difficult task. Aside from whatever the Ravens knew, the Conservator was one true keeper of Noreis’ secrets, and she did not like that he knew of Transcendence. Conservators kept it omitted from historical texts for thousands of years, so she was baffled when he asked her for help. He spent a month in the desert settlement with her, the Elder, and their people. His attempt at small talk with the natives was met with widened eyes and a parents’ instinctual desire to guard their children. His attempts at assimilation only proved to ostracize him further. They were not going to help him.

But everyone has a weakness.

The Conservator refused to assist him when he asked kindly, but when he threatened to rip her grandson’s heart from his chest, words spilled from her lips faster than the blood he could’ve drawn from her.

As Rexus reflected, he pondered if keeping her alive was unwise. The Conservator’s duty was to protect the secret of Transcendence, and he became her greatest enemy. He could only imagine what her retaliation would be: an army of Serenity Seekers, or perhaps just one or two that she trusted with her life. He waited behind a wall of leaves and was as fixated on the entrance to the clearing as he was on the image that will soon reveal itself.

If he got company, he could not spare them as he did her.

 

Raiden kicked off a pile of sludge and watched as it broke into fragments of mud disappearing into the nothingness below. He was easily more than a hundred feet above ground and saw no end in sight. Heights didn’t scare him, but usually he could see what was below. If he fell, the darkness would swallow him whole and he would be lost forever.

A new set of orbs cast light on a stump that was only half-visible, concealed behind a wall of emerald and crimson leaves. He sprung, plowed through it, and landed on the stump on the other side.

Raiden got a glimpse of his startled father somewhere in front of him, then nearly slipped forward over the edge of the stump. He put his hands out to balance himself as the arches of his feet teetered between the wooden platform and a shadowy grave.

“Ray!” Father exclaimed. He rushed to the edge of the crisscrossing tree limbs that supported him and Hastings.

Raiden waved his arms backward as his heart raced wildly, but he knew he could do it. His heels felt wood beneath them, and he safely scooted backward. “Whew.”

“Ray,” Father’s tone switched from shock and worry to parental and foreboding. It reminded Raiden of the time he was caught stealing chocolate-covered blueberries from the market. He never forgot the look of shame engraved on Father’s face. Father must have known that, or else he wouldn’t have given him the same look then. “Ray, what in Noreis—”

“Don’t even, Dad,” Raiden snarled. “I’m Riles’ father just as you are mine. You would do everything you could if someone threatened my life, so why do you think I’d act differently?”

Father’s once blue eyes faded to a time-withered gray. “I should never have told you.”

“Arias’,” Hastings said with a scowl on his face and hands on his hips. “We still have a little way to go.”

Hastings had been Father’s partner in the Serenity Seekers for three years. Raiden wanted to like him, but he was too close to Raiden’s age to keep Raiden from thinking that Hastings might have been the son that Father wished he had. Father was vocal in his wanting Raiden to join the Seekers. It nearly broke his heart the day Raiden told him that he wanted to work as a tour guide for the Tri-City Forest instead. Hearing about Father’s missions with Hastings caused Raiden to wonder if he made the right decision—especially now.

“Father, what has Rexus been told about Transcendence? What is it, even? How much did she tell him when he made that threat?”

“Walk and talk, guys,” Hastings grumbled, turning away from them. He watched his footing as he alternated between the tree limbs. Hastings seemed numb to the sizable drop that could spell death should he misstep and fall.

Raiden cautiously eyed the crisscrossing limbs that his father and Hastings stood on. They were two curiously large platforms of wood that formed a double helix and traveled through another sheet of leaves. He leaped onto one of them with ease and found himself looking up at Father yet again.

Father followed his partner before he finally answered his son’s question. “Your mother told me all that she could about it: Dusk of the Eternal, Dawn of the First, Three and Three, the Second reveals the Third. As for what all of that means, I’m not sure that even she knows entirely. Either that or, despite a thirty-year betrothal, she still doesn’t trust me.”

“You were only married for eighteen of those years.”

“She will always be my wife.”

“You haven’t spoken to the woman in almost a decade.”

Father quickened his pace to catch up with his partner. “Say what you will, but you were too young to fully understand the circumstances surrounding our separation.”

“I wasn’t too young. She was too absent.”

“That woman will always be your mother. She did what she thought was best for everyone.”

“She did what was best for her.”

Hastings groaned and rushed ahead, but Father stopped moving.

“Your mother is a complicated woman. Do I believe in every choice that she’s made? No, but I understand why she did it. You would have never met your wife if she hadn’t, and you wouldn’t have that beautiful son to go home to. It was the right thing to do back then, just as her telling me about Rexus’ threat was the right thing to do a couple of days ago. Let’s do what we came here to do, then go back home.”

At last, Father said something he agreed with. Raiden followed in his footsteps without saying another word as they walked forward and jumped from one intersecting limb to the next, trudging deeper into the dark side of the rain forest. Father’s mentioning of that woman also served as a rarely wanted distraction. Even then, Raiden didn’t know who he was angrier with: Rexus, or the Conservator.

 

Rexus’ stomach churned when he heard the men coming closer. His question was answered, and he knew that he made the wrong decision. Killing the Conservator would have only ended one life. Her corpse could not communicate to others the location of the first clue, and he would be there waiting without the worry of company. There were at least two distinct voices, though he couldn’t make out their words.

He could only imagine who she was sending to their deaths. He strained his ears for clues and caught a couple of key phrases, but it is the word ‘Arias’ that told him what he didn’t wish to hear. The Conservator chose to keep this a family matter. It was his benefit and his disadvantage.

Rexus had to find the Conservator’s weakness before using it against her. Just days before he made the threat, he peered through the dense trees and into the kitchen window of a family of four eating dinner at the table (as he’d heard that families do). The eldest was a man in his mid-forties who wore his Serenity Seeker uniform, which was decorated with medals that gleamed in the candle light. The Seeker’s son and grandson were captivated by his latest stories while the son’s wife had to keep reminding them to eat their dinner.

The grandson was an adorable miniature version of his father. Rexus knew that the boy was the solution to his problems with the Conservator. He could have left after a single glance, but he remained a shadow of the trees and watched this family eat and laugh and love.

He spent the rest of dinner with just a wall and a few trees between them, witnessing a parallel world that he could only dream to be a part of.

The Serenity Seeker and the grandson drew most of the attention at the table, but Rexus was most focused on man called Raiden, who filled the gap between their generations. Rexus doubted that Raiden’s life was devoid of hardships, but that didn’t stop the envy from seeping through his pores.

Rexus prepared to draw his blood-colored blade as he shook off the memories of that night and their dinner. He hated himself more now than ever. If he killed the Conservator, those dinners would still happen. He didn’t, and the lives of the Arias men were to be snuffed out like the candles that cast light on the center of their table.

 

Raiden walked and listened.

“The first clue is ‘Dusk of the Eternal,’” Father said. “Your mother explained that there’s a clearing somewhere in the depths of this forest where the orbs emitted by the plant life have generated the same sequence for thousands of years. Twice a year at the time of dusk they reveal the collective image of the location to the ‘Dawn of the First.’”

“Did she—” Raiden stopped talking to hoist himself onto a slippery limb that curved upward at a steep angle. “Did she tell you what ‘Dawn of the First’ meant?”

“No, but she did say that ‘Three and Three’ meant that the clues are separated in a sequence of three days. Three days from now, at dawn, the second clue will reveal itself.” Father’s face soured as if he’d just bit his tongue and tasted blood. “It won’t come to that. We’re putting an end to this tonight. Others may come to learn of Rexus if we don’t—or worse, about the Transcendence Theory.” Father once mentioned that not even the monarchs or the Serenity Seekers could know about the theory, which would have baffled Raiden if he didn’t have other things on his mind.

Hastings disappeared through another wall of crimson leaves in front of them. Raiden didn’t notice until he emerged through them. Even in the dark, Raiden could make out the glow in Hastings’ widened eyes.

“Is that it in front of us?” Father asked.

Hastings waited for them to cross over the last set of limbs to reach him before he said anything. “I think so. Galen, you should have a look.”

“All right then,” Father said as he brandished his gunblade. He thrusted forward a three-foot blade of shimmering blue. It was as beautiful as it was dangerous. To even slide one’s fingers along the edge would make them bleed. Riles tried once. Father never withdrew it in front of him again.

Hastings muttered “It’ll be dusk soon” before trudging back through the wall of leaves and withdrawing his blade.

Raiden grabbed for his gunblade and thrusted it forward, being extra-careful not to lose his footing and slip over the edge. The dull silver of his blade didn’t capture the light like his father’s.

Father grimaced at the sight of his son’s gunblade. His burning eyes revealed a desire to argue Raiden’s following them, but he was left with no time to dissuade Raiden from going. He resigned to saying, “Just stay behind me and you’ll be safe.”

Raiden obeyed, and the two followed Hastings through the wall of leaves ahead.

 

Rexus watched the men survey the clearing. Several tree limbs served as walkways and formed a near-perfect circle a few hundred feet in diameter. Other limbs intersected the circle with spirals that traveled down all the way to the ground and continued up as high as the treetops where Hela was all but an afterthought.

The ground was littered with tens of thousands of bushes breathing out millions of lights that flickered up toward them in an ever-changing canvass that painted their surroundings. Unlike the lights along the tree stumps, the orbs were all shades of greens and blues and reds and every other hue along the color spectrum. It was so blindingly bright that he was almost distracted from the men in front of him.

He watched Raiden try to make out designs in the lights as they floated toward the treetops. They were random colors that lacked patterns or unison. There was no commonality in the lights as they shimmered around them—much less a clue.

Raiden’s father pointed upward. “Let’s head to the treetops. We’ll get the best view there and a good vantage point on Rexus.”

The Seeker they called Hastings turned toward the spiraling tree limbs and led the way upward as Raiden’s father followed right behind him. Raiden remained in the back and tried to focus on his footing. Raiden was by far the most uncertain about being there and repeatedly looked behind his back. Rexus knew that he was the easiest target.

 

Raiden eyed the entrance to the clearing as they traveled up fifty feet, and then a hundred more. Down below, the orbs were too small and too many to identify anything more than swirls of colors merging and blending with one another. They were too random to be considered “art” by any definition of the term. Still, he knew that at any moment they’d—

“There,” Father pointed toward the center of the room. The bushes emitted a new sequence of orbs that shot up toward the canopy. The orbs swirled like rotating pixels. Each floated upward at a different pace coming closer and closer together. The orbs in this sequence were predominantly shades of blue, brown, and green. The closer they fluttered together, the more of an image they revealed. For the slightest of seconds, all of the orbs came together in cohesion to formed a quick, clear image. It was the portrayal of a landscape from a time long ago: six rivers crisscrossed one another and nearly formed a hexagon. Along the edges of the image were plains and hills, while a ground covered in shimmering blue and silver crystals and caught Raiden’s attention the most. Before he had time to think about what he witnessed, the orbs parted and continued swirling upward at different speeds and faded before hitting the treetops.

“That was Kalia,” Father said. “Not as we know it today, but what it looked like then.”

“That cluster in the center,” Raiden muttered.

“I saw it too,” Father said.

Hastings sighed. “If that was the clue, then Rexus missed it.”

Raiden felt the blood rush to his face. “Unless he’s already here.”

 

Rexus pondered letting them live. He was so lost in his thoughts that he never considered remaining hidden the whole time they were there. He didn’t have to take a life.

The idea was short-lived. They knew of the next clue, which meant that they would be in Kalia. Here he had the advantage. He made a mistake by allowing the Conservator to live. He couldn’t repeat his errors.

He swallowed the distaste that bubbled on his tongue and raised his gunblade toward them. The first shot he fired nearly ripped his heart from his chest.

 

Raiden saw another cluster of orbs forming, bursting with shades of orange, yellow, and red. They engulfed the three men in their blazing bright hues and made it almost impossible to see the scorching sphere of fire coming toward them.

Crack!

Hastings clutched his chest as the flames ate through his uniform. He screamed as the flames swallowed him whole and he fell from the limbs before Father had time to reach for him.

“Hastings!” He yelled helplessly as his partner and friend vanished through the next cluster of orbs.

Crack!

The second ball of fire cruised through the flame-colored orbs and headed toward Father. Before Raiden got a word out, Father flung his blade forward and sliced it in half. The flame broke to specks and sprinkled like dust until they vanished in mid-air.

Rexus glared at them through the clusters of floating orbs. His tattered coat swayed at his feet. He was easily the size of Father, if not larger, and pointed his blood-colored gunblade in their direction. Another fireball emerged from the pistol’s mouth.

“Ray—duck!” Father yelled.

Raiden dropped to his knees as a ball of fire sailed overhead. It slammed into the leaves behind him where the fireproof dew extinguished the flames.

Father bolted around the semicircle of limbs in Rexus’ direction, absorbed in the same rage that brought Raiden there. Rexus rushed toward him like a racehorse with graceful, wide strides. Both men met in the middle of the clearing and engaged in a flurry of blows. Flashes of red swirl all around Rexus, but Father was just as fast. Father’s shimmering blue blade met every one of Rexus’ attacks and broke through the fiery orbs that tried to devour him.

Father repeatedly swung at Rexus, coming down on him with heavy, powerful blows. Each swing was precise and lacked hesitation. His blade was a sharp extension of his arm, pummeling Rexus with blow after mighty blow. Rexus hit the blade with a loud clang but nearly lost his footing when he stood astride the limbs of the helix. Both men planned their attacks four or five slashes ahead as the surrounding colors made them appear like two harrowing flames lashing out at one another.

 

Rexus used his might and fury, and the Seeker had to jump back. He was on the Seeker and swung with a bottled rage meant for many others. His blade resembled a blood-colored viper and struck at the Seeker with a hissing metal tongue. The Seeker’s blue blade hurdled through the sea of flames to block Rexus, but then Seeker backed up again and kept an eye on the awkward L-shaped walkway behind him.

Rexus saw an advantage.

 

Raiden ran forward through the clusters of orbs and broke through the patterns as if he was bursting through a liquid canvass. The orbs flecked away and gave him a clear view of Rexus and his viper-tongued blade. He pointed his gunblade toward Rexus and started shooting balls of fire through the plethora of glowing orbs.

Rexus spun backward to dodge Raiden’s attacks with ease. He side-stepped past one fireball and sliced two more in half without breaking his stride. The remnants of embers extinguished at Rexus’ feet, skirting around his worn out coat.

Father struck at Rexus, but Rexus was ready for it and smashed his gunblade downward. He drove it deep into the wood, nearly severing the limb entirely.

Raiden rushed them and leaped diagonally across the L-shaped limbs. He landed directly behind Rexus.

 

Rexus flung his blade at Raiden before he could strike and Raiden gasped as the viper’s tongue tried to slice through him, stopped only by his dull silver blade. Raiden lacked the strength of his father and looked at Rexus as though he was a monster, not a man. His eyes bulged, and he knew that he’s made a fatal mistake by attacking Rexus. It’s a battle he cannot win.

“Ray!” Father yelled. He shook his gunblade free from the wooden limb and revealed his weakness in his frantic tone.

 

Raiden barely dodged Rexus’ advance and struggled to stay on his feet as the limbs twisted and contorted behind him like snakes trying to curl around his ankles.

Rexus jumped high into the air and well over Raiden’s head. He had little time to react before he felt Rexus’ boot pound against the small of his back. The pain coursed through his vertebrae and he fell forward, tripping over a small branch. He couldn’t maintain his balance and tilted toward the swirls of colors covering the ground. As he plummeted, he felt a strong hand grasping at his leg.

Raiden gasped as he watched his gunblade fall into the glowing abyss below. He dangled upside down for second until he heard his father’s voice.

“Raiden!”

He twisted his body to get a glimpse of Father clutching his leg. Galen Arias looked helpless for the first time in his life. He never thought he’d such an expression on the man who used to check his room for monsters at night. Father’s mouth was wide open, but he was too horrified to utter another sound.

Rexus stood over Father as his executioner. He plunged his gunblade through Father’s chest, and it broke through both sides of skin with little effort. Father’s grip gave way, and Raiden freefell down through the millions of orbs. The little lights floated upward, concealing the small openings through which the sky could be seen.

 

Rexus grabbed the Seeker before he dropped and laid the dying man on the tree limb that would mark his death bed. The Seeker shivered as the blood left his body and allowed for the cold to come in. He looked upon Rexus with glossy eyes as though he couldn’t tell who saved him from the fall.

The Seeker quivered in Rexus’ arms, but Rexus could think of nothing to say that would bring this man any solace in his final moments. All he could think of was that dinner table and the two men that would absent at the Arias family’s next meal; the lives he claimed to save the woman he loved. He thought that taking a life would be harder, but he felt as numb toward murdering a human being as he did when crushing a fly.

“You shouldn’t have come,” Rexus muttered, though he didn’t know if he was speaking to the Seeker or himself. “I never wanted to kill you. I never would’ve harmed your grandson.”

The Seeker struggled to find a reply, but the blood trickling from his lips stifled his response.

“Yours death are not without reason,” Rexus said. “Her life is worth a thousand of yours.”

Rexus closed his eyes as his actions began to sink in and that half-empty dinner table grew more vivid in his mind. That family in that parallel universe was forever destroyed, and his only chance in honoring their deaths was to reanimate their dinner table with a family of his own. That was the only logical solution. These deaths would not be in vain, and now there was no one to stop him from going to Kalia for the next clue.

The man in his arms stopped moving.

 

Raiden groaned.

He knew the noise came from him, but he didn’t know how it was possible. He looked around at the orbs that were still floating towards the canopy. He didn’t know how long he’d been out—much less how he managed to survive a three-hundred-foot fall. He started to move and felt the pillows of leaves give way, dropping him another two or three feet onto the hard surface below.

The plants and bushes were so thick that they broke his fall. The bright lights surrounding him made him delirious, but he didn’t feel pain. Nothing felt broken, and nothing was numb.

Raiden rolled over and got to his feet. He dusted off his shirt and checked for scrapes and scratches. A few cuts on his forearms formed a map of his battle scars, but beyond that he was astoundingly fine.

“Father!”

He rushed toward the edges of the clearing and found several tree trunks that had a series of limbs that intertwine with others. Raiden hugged the tree with the limbs that were closest to the ground and began hoisting himself up, grabbing at whatever small limbs and branches he could find along the way. His forearms started to bleed, but he ignored the pain. He had to get back to where Father was as quickly as he could. He needed to know if he was still alive.

He wrapped his arm around closest tree limb that started up the walkway and balanced his body until he was able to push comfortably himself onto it. He rested for a second, then got to his feet. The limbs grew wider and more stable the higher up they were.

He started to run. The pounding of his feet echoed in the clearing as the orbs in the center flickered upwards with the serene colors of springtime. He made one full rotation around the spiral, then another, and a third. He was losing his breath, but he didn’t care. None of that mattered if he could still save Father.

He caught a glimpse of a shimmering blue gunblade from across the way, and then the silhouette of a body with a hand dangling over the edge.

“No…”

He didn’t hear his footsteps as he ran toward the motionless figure. He couldn’t feel himself breathe. All he could think of was Father’s helpless expression as he held Raiden by his leg.

He reached Father and rolled over his lifeless body. There was a blood stain on his chest where the blade broke his heart, and for a moment all Raiden could think about was one of the last things father said to him. Stay behind me and you’ll be safe.

This is my fault. This is my doing. I should have stayed behind. It would have been Rexus lying here. Not you…

He was completely lost, like a young child who loses the grip of a mother’s hand in a roaring crowd. He didn’t know of a life without Father. They were always together. He was the constant. He was his confidant, his protector… his best friend.

The lights reflected off of Father’s gunblade like the final spotlight at the end of play, drawing Raiden’s attention away from his father. He paused for a second, but knew what he had to do. He grabbed the hilt of the shimmering blade and claimed it as his own.

“No one threatens my son and lives,” Raiden told himself through lips dampened by two streams of tears. “No one…”