This is Where it Begins
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The train cried as its wheels dragged against old rails, a scream that told of a new world for those ready to board. A scream that may well have said: "It is time. It is time." Those ready for what the world would give to them stood and boarded with strides strong and confident. Others however, slow and unsure. In the end, they were ready all the same. For what the world could throw at them, they stood ready.

All but one.

One who stood paralyzed by the prospect of just what he faced.

He'd seen it before. All of it.

He'd seen the bloodshed as towering eldritch horrors speared tendrils dark as charcoal through friends, sometimes family. Muscles ripped asunder as blood painted the world red, sinews snapped like the strings of a worn out guitar. So easily, they broke. Fragile. Every scream that resounded was anguish that he dragged with him, every final breath he watched was a note played on a repeating record. Each scratch of the needle was a new howl of unadulterated agony. A reminder of failure.

Every life he failed to save stood side-by-side in his mind. For a moment, it all echoed. Every voice had its own plea, its own prayer.

"Please."

"It can't be today- I can't leave them-"

The voices were choked, as blood rose to suffocate them. From every wound, every severed line of life that trailed through now stark white sinew, and every sickly cough crimson was expelled. Slowly, what kept them alive began to kill them. Words choked out by coughs of blood and anguish still forced their last pleas.

"I won't die- will I? They're coming for us, aren't they?"

"Can you hear us? Please- please send something! Anything! Send a team send someone!"

He almost cried. For a moment- just a moment- he had to fight the rise of stinging hot tears. No matter what they'd asked for, every plea was left to fade to radio silence. When a desperate plea was finally answered, it was too late. They were gone, and their names were burned into his brain.

Samuel Cunningham, a bright young soul who joined a month before a bastards bullet tore through a heart native and bright. How cruel to place a barrel to a fallen mans chest and… He only was 18. Samuel was 18, almost 19 when his smile was wiped from Earth like a small child's doodle from the wall. Damned be if maybe the world was like an angry father, Samuel was a beautiful sketch in purple crayon along the bedroom door. Wiped away with no regard for the value behind it. No matter how beautifully drawn, it was gone forever.

Alodie Sinaed, was it all just too much for her? From the time that she was 25, she studied the unknown with a profound curiosity. Nothing was too much for her. The unknown to her was what made it all worth it. Every new discovery made her grey eyes sparkle with an intensity that no one could have dreamed of experiencing. Alodie, she was of another breed. Dedicated, bright… so why was she found vomiting blood at three in the morning? Why was she left beneath a white sheet little over an hour later? Why was her office cleaned as they made the final call?

Tennyson Ludvigsen, he wasn't ready to die. Eyes wide like a fawn paralyzed by the headlights of an oncoming truck, when silver met sinew the world was dyed red. The loudest scream was his silence. He left a child, he left a child and a father so old you'd swear the reaper was beside him at all hours of the night. No one could say why, no one could tell such a young thing that his fathers neck had been cut wide open to the point blood muffled what would have been the most heartwrenching scream he'd heard. The first sound, "Ro-." Everyone knew, he was calling out to a loved one. He was calling out to the man he'd loved and left behind because he'd never said goodbye. He departed, and like a coward had hid himself away.

The tears fell. The tears fell and he bent like a bloom whipped around by a violent wind. A flower subject to harsh nature. A man subject to a wave of regret, it wasn't his job to save them. Despite that… after so many long fights, after so much bloodshed, and after so many regrets he was forced to bare the weight of it all. He was Atlas and the regret of it all was his sky. Damned, the final words of every soul were designated his burden.

"Kieran…"

The voice was muffled through the anguish. A voice so soft was lost to the pieces of jagged glass he called his memories.

Once again, the soft voice called.

"Kieran!"

Louder, louder and stronger as hands gripped his shoulders in an attempt to wake him from a nightmare that dared to face him in daylight. The hands shook and shook until he was forced to look at him. He was forced to look to warm hazel, and a smile he'd seen many times before. A smile he knew so well it was burned into his memory as a moment of grace from the weight of all he held.

He looked up, and a smiling man with features familiar looked back to him. Long, shaggy black locks were brushed away to see those hazel gems shining with tears of their own. Jade returned the look, and they wiped away one another's tears. It had been minutes, what felt like hours were merely minutes ticked away.

"Are you ready?" Jeremy asked softly, helping Kieran rise from where he had crumbled to the floor.

Silence. He asked once again in the same soft manner,

"Kieran, are you ready?"

He looked up once again. First, he looked to Jeremy. Then, to the train. Most had boarded, but few remained to say farewell to loved ones. Cover stories were given, pretty lies told to those few who's families followed. Lies. Lies that would mean nothing when it came time to carry away the corpses some would leave. It was nothing to worry of, for those in charge. A fallen soldier was so easily replaceable.

Anyone could replace them with the proper training. Toy soldiers, playing a part in a twisted dance.

"What if the dance had ceased?" That question was the song to which toy soldiers danced.

"What if the illusion was broken?"

"What if these things were left alone and neglected?"

"What if these things fell into the wrong hands?"

A barrage of self induced uncertainty. With every new anxiety raised he stood a little taller. He stood and turned to Jeremy one final time.

What if one day, these things hurt the one person he truly cared for?

Jeremy Marcon, the one person in the world he could never lose. The one person he'd ever been able to save. The only person in the world, his world, that mattered.

He gave him one final look.

"Goodbye." He whispered.

The train cried one last time. A final decree, "if you dare this path, this is your final chance." The platform was now empty, sans a handful of those mulling around as they waited to wave their goodbyes.

"Take care, Kieran."

The two smiled, and embraced one last time. To them, it was an eternity. An eternity was nowhere near enough, but time was down to the wire. Now or never, he broke away and ran to board.

Jeremy stood, and waved as the train called its departure. His hand pressed to the window, Kieran mouthed a goodbye to the only man to stand by his side through the darkness that he now left to brave alone.

Italy, home of the MTF Psi-7.

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