The laughter from a familiar voice woke me from my slumber. My head pulsed rapidly as my eyes opened slowly to what appeared to be an endless hallway deprived of light. I felt a burning pressure from the left side of my body. It was pressed against the corner of the floor and the wall, both of which felt like cold concrete. I picked up my head and pressed against my temple as I began peering around, trying to clarify the direction of the voice. The slithering sound of it echoed all around me, making it hard to displace where the source was as it spoke.
“You truly are an interesting spectacle indeed.”
I attempted to push myself to my feet however the pain in my side sent a sharp wave of spiking sensations into my neck shoulders, chest, and thighs. I landed on one knee, using my arm to keep me held up as I continued to observe the endless darkness stretched before me. The pain upset my stomach, making me nauseous and weary. I glanced over my shoulder and saw another hallway of darkness behind me with a small speckle of moonlight gleaming through the corner of the ceiling a few meters from where I was desperately fighting for any energy I had left. I figured that I must be underground. But how the hell did I end up here?
I heard another chuckle and the voice spoke again.
“You should be dead after that last hit you took, but not only are you alive, you've somehow escaped The Predator himself.”
Images began flickering to life of recent events, and I struggled as I tried to remember what exactly happened to put me in this position. I could recall fighting and there being a lot of destruction. But The Predator? The name rung in my head, and I instinctively became alarmed despite not recalling who it was or why they were dangerous. Unable to complete the puzzle, I moved on to the next important thing, which was verifying the person I was speaking with. With the pain settling down a bit, I made another attempt to push myself to my feet. The pain came back, however I was able to cope as I slouched and turned towards the small gleam of light, focusing on the dust particles rising from the ground where the light hit the concrete.
I fought tooth and nail as I attempted to keep myself breathing and prevent nausea from escaping. After gasping for air for half a minute, I finally summoned what little energy I could muster and spoke.
“Who are you?” I managed in a low whisper. I watched as the dust particles were slowly intruded on by a black translucent vapor.
“I have to admit that I'm slightly disappointed you don't recognize my voice,” the voice replied. As the smoky substance invaded more of the light, it began to form a human figure. It lacked major features, however, it formed ghastly baggy jeans with a tattered hoodie that wrapped itself up around a narrow chest and formed into spaulders containing five spikes in the shape of an X at the shoulders. The spikes added about an extra foot to the width of ghastly shape. The hood left room for two orange eyes that contained a series of jagged purple lines instead of pupils, and space for where a mouth and nose would be. I could make out features of a human, however it flickered between human and ghost. Genuine and paranormal. I recognized The Figure immediately. I had never known it's name nor it's purpose, however it always appeared when my mind was on the verge of breaking. It was always eager to increment my potential, yet never willing to answer anything without a riddle.
Its presence caused my head to pulse rapidly as memories glimpsed back into my consciousness. I remembered destruction, screaming, death, fighting, pleading. And I faintly remembered being launched by a fist several blocks in a downtown area, but the images were still fuzzy at best. Questions still lingered in my head. I felt the burning sensation from my side channeling into my stomach, but it now felt internal as opposed to battle wounds. It felt as if my stomach was spiraling and something was growing, and as it grew my emotions and memories did too. I felt an intense anger building through me, reminding me of the years of turmoil I had long endured. The memories were escalating from glimpses, and instead were now flooding in all at once. I felt the energy in my gut continue to grow rapidly, and at each stage, my emotion grew stronger, my resolve darker, my memory clearer, and my aura more potent. I felt my power was returning, in fact, it was escalating to a level I didn't know I had. I could feel the aura surrounding me, even healing cuts and bruises that I had failed to notice in the absence of light. I felt stronger than I had ever felt. And my anger burned with a new resolve.
“That healing power is astonishing. Does that mean you remember everything now?” The figure spoke, intrigued at my state. I don't know how but I could suddenly remember everything. My isolation. My endless torture at the hands of those who belittled me. My constant internal turmoil that had made me so weary for so long. I stood straight up, meeting the eyes of The Figure, and nodded. Though his face was featureless, I could sense a sly smile on his face, as if he was satisfied of what I had become, and what I was going to do.
“And what of the girl?” he asked. I hadn't given it any thought until then, and when her face hit my mind I felt my heart drop. There would be no more of us. That was an attachment that I would have to break before it killed me. I stood in thought, motionless for a few moments before speaking aloud.
“She is no longer a problem.” Even as I said it, I wasn't convinced. Her image would forever remain implanted. But there was nothing else to be done about it. I had made my choice. The figure continued his intrigued stare, unconvinced that it was that easy for me. And he was correct to assume as much.
“No,” I said realizing that the effort to dismiss her was futile. “I won't delude myself into thinking that I can cast her off. But I can't go back to her after what I've done. If I did, she would fear me, and she would leave. Yet had I stayed, I would have been weak, and she would have still left. And even had I not been weak, I would have hurt her, and the same result would have ensued.”
“Oh?” The Figure replied. “And why do you think that is?”
“Because my love for her is shadowed by my hate for this world. By the anger that dwells within me. It's strange. I don't know where this anger is from, or why this anger is here, but I know I can feel it burning in my body like fire, fueling my power. It's always been here, even as a child, like it was-”
“It's own entity,” The Figure said finishing my statement off much to my surprise.
“Like the hate you feel isn't your own, like it was bred into you. Always trying to escape the seal placed on you. Getting stronger every time someone beat you thinking they were stronger than you, or smarter than you because of the individualistic ways of the world. Constantly mixing with your emotions, making your hate stronger. You don't know what it is, but you accept it as apart of you. That you were born to naturally hate the world. And that regardless of how much love you have for her or ever will have, it won't be enough to rid your desires.”
I stood for a moment astonished at how correct he was as he explained my own thoughts better than I could. He not only understood my confliction, but spoke as if he knew the answers to all of the questions that my turmoil raised. So many thoughts boiled through my head until it began pulsing again. He could apparently sense my rising anxiety, because just as I was about to blast a barrage of questions he spoke.
“I've been watching you from the beginning my boy. I've seen you at your highest and your lowest, your weakest, and recently your strongest. Ever since you were born, I've had my eyes on you, watching you as you developed, allowing you to take full advantage of the power you were given. Allowing you to make your own choice.”
That did nothing to clarify any of the uncertainties that I had, and instead added to them as I wondered who this being was.
“Who are you? And what do you know of me?”
“I know everything about you. But those answers will come soon.” The Figure slowly began dissipating into the darkness. “Follow the darkness, and the answers you seek will come to light.” The voice faded, along with it's body, leaving the dust particles in the light as if they had been untouched. Two hallways of darkness stood on either side of me, and I had no idea of where to go. Suddenly, I heard chattering in the distance. I assume it was The Predator and his guards looking to finish me off. Thinking of the name again reminded me why I shuddered when it was first mentioned. He was a renowned assassin of The Guild, never having missed a target. He liked the hunt, and was especially fond of beating his targets at their own game. He got the name Predator because he could adapt. No matter who it was or what situation, he could kill his prey through intellect or outright power. Sadly for him, this time he didn't have the luxury of preparation, and in my newly found state, I was pretty sure I could take him.
I saw the beams from flashlights appear down at the end of the hallway.I turned and headed down the opposite end into more darkness, not bothering to conceal my presence. I wanted him to know where I was. I wanted him to feel the darkness of my energy. There were three beams of light making their way toward me. I found a small opening in the wall, deep enough for me to wait in silence. I heard the footsteps getting closer, and heard the unmistakable voice of the Predator. He tried his best concealing his presence, but I was no longer holding anything back. My power exceeded his and there was no hiding from my sensory skills. I bursted out, and got behind them. He dashed back, casting a technique to light up the hallways of darkness. The other two with him weren't nearly fast enough. I reared my fist back and crushed through the first guard's ribs with ease, hitting his heart directly and sending him crashing into the wall. I raised up my hand and hurled an energy blast the other, which spiraled and ripped through his chest, leaving a hollow opening now being filled with blood. The Predator tried to take the opportunity to attack, but I dodged with ease as he came at me with a heavy serrated blade followed by a blast of his own. It went flying wildly down the hallway and destroyed part of the wall as it hit, causing a small quake to ensue. I got behind him and crushed his spinal cord with a knee to the back, leaving him paralyzed face down. So much for a good fight. I dug my knee further into his back, causing him to yelp in response. I flexed my fingers and pierced clean through his back, heart, and chest, causing his body to spasm. He let out a gurgle as blood escaped his throat before his body went limp. I got up and shook the blood off of my hand before examining it. I felt the power in me grow, like an unsatiated hunger. This was only the beginning, and my blood thirst was growing by the second. But first I needed answers, and I had to control this power, otherwise I would go into another frenzy and my battle potential would fall.
I looked back to check that there were no more people coming, and then continued down the hallway. Up ahead were a couple of hard turns and it seemed to shrink down until I had to turn to the side to squeeze through. Eventually I spotted what appeared to be a small room with a fire burning in the center of stones. I squeezed passed the small opening, and paused, examining the room. It was about 3 meters taller than I was, and about the size of a master bedroom. The walls reminded me of a desert mine. They were rocky and uneven. The ground was covered in an orange dirt like substance. I took a step forward, and felt the ground press in where I stepped. Pressure plates. The diameter of the stones widened until they were at my feet, and though I had never seen anything like it, I somehow immediately registered it as a portal. It glowed purple with hypnotizing patterns of black dots that reminded me of the eyes of The Figure. I took that as a sign, and jumped in.