Arena - Chapter 1

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1. Cold Gathering

The ice bit at the heels of most of the passersby. One of the people casually walking through the town of Las Damon, which was previously the city of Las Vegas before the Invasion, was Xavier Manning, or "X" as he preferred. Xavier was completely coated in neon blue; everything he was wearing had multitudes of neon blue veins. His leather jacket was covered in the things; however there was one long blue vein that lead from a dot on his right ankle, to the edge of his left sleeve. Xavier's blue dyed hair was long and scruffy, not to mention greasy.

Today was the Cold Gathering, a holiday which the people of Las Damon celebrate their history. Xavier looked at Town Hall from afar. Town Hall used to be a five star casino, whose name you couldn't tell due to the destruction. Although you couldn't tell because of the snow, Las Damon was a flooded city. The story behind its flooding is mildly explained on a large memorial stone outside town hall, it read:

In 2026, the city of Las Vegas, along with many others in what was once the United States of America, was plagued by a dreaded army of supernatural soldiers led by an Alaskan dictator known as Celus. Corrupted by the power of his ice soldiers, whose abilities surpassed even our own, Celus quickly invaded the United States, destroying many small states quickly. After the destruction of Washington, Indiana and Rhode Island, Celus quickly turned his greedy power-hungry eyes to four powerful cities: New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C and Las Vegas. Los Angeles fell first; here Celus learnt he could convert normal people into his soldiers, so Celus started converting and began two invasions at once, one invasion at the military-heavy New York and another at Las Vegas. Unknown to Celus however, three unlikely heroes were at Las Vegas: Damon and Diana Red, the commander and chief of the US Army and his daughter. They however were led by the unlikeliest of heroes: Leonardo Davies; a surfer from Florida on vacation. Together they formed an army of survivors and miraculously fended off the attack. The result however, left the United States in a wreck. It quickly became the Republic of America and the states were separated. Las Vegas became Las Damon and today it's led by Leo's good friend, Damon's son and Diana's brother, Michael Red. Damon sadly died five years later. Diana lives in Reno and Leo went missing in the year 2030.

Xavier only took a quick glance at the memorial stone, as he read it enough times. The gathering was about to take place. A crowd gathered around the long steps that lead up to Town Hall. Michael had not taken a step out of town hall yet. He let the crowd enlarge before his speech. Xavier disappeared into the crowd, looking for people he knew; with the amount of people there, it would take a while. Surprisingly he quickly found his friend, Kalem.

"Fancy seeing you here" laughed Kalem as he spotted Xavier through the crowd. Xavier turned to him and slowly trudged through the mess of people.

"Yeah, you got here early as well?" asked Xavier.

"I always do. He's a good speaker," Kalem turned his eye to the podium where Michael would stand in a while. "That, and his skin is pretty cool"

"It makes me cold" replied Xavier, who also began to look at the podium.

"Well duh, it is ice" Kalem responded annoyingly, purposely trying to annoy Xavier. Just as Xavier was about to respond, a silence spread across the crowd like a plague. The Cold Gathering speech was about to begin.

The silence was so tranquil, you could hear the crisp snow fall to the icy ground. Michael had exited the large doors at the top of the stairs. Even though he opened the doors gently, the ultimate silence emphasized the creek of the door. The blue glow was visible even before Michael himself. And slowly, the cold, icy facial features that belonged to Michael became visible. His eyes were wide open and well slept, his nose had disfigured into almost an icicle shape, the outline of the small beard Michael must have had before his transformation was easily visible. Other than his distinct facial features, Michael's attire was a rare sight in the city. He wore a normal black tie suit, plain and simple; and his most noticeable feature, there was no separation between his head and what should be his hair, it just lead to spikes where his hair should be.

Every step he took downstairs was watched closely by everyone in the Gathering. By now over two thousand people had joined the crowd that was extended down the streets, in a matter of minutes. People had travelled from different cities just to hear Michael's speech.

He reached the final step, walked close to the microphone, let out a stern cough and prepared to speak.

"I have had to address you all every year for the past 5 years, on this day, on this hour, never late. Because if I am late to even respect our fallen, then how can I call myself the leader of this city? Each and every one of you is overflowing with respect, myself included. My father spoke for 10 years before me. His words kept him in power. The pleasure he took in looking after this city was impossible to measure. As I do every year I have asked every citizen to provide a subject for me to bring light to. This year, the choice that was asked for the most, was my exterior. For those of you wondering, yes it is ice. The conversion process was painful, and I'm sure there are others out there like myself, hiding behind hoods and masks, but why? Because you’re ashamed. For those like me out there, I'm afraid this may remind you of the excruciating pain we went through. The original soldiers that Celus ruled over had developed a conversion mechanism which was later given the name The Egg. The Egg could hover in the air and inside the Egg were at least one thousand pods. The stench of the pod when I was placed in it was almost unbearable. The smell was clearly dried blood; it was however hidden with ice. This is where the operating begins. An automated machine covered my face with a gas mask and an odorless spray momentarily blinded me. I could feel the blood quickly being drained out of me, it was however quickly replaced; I dread to think what they replaced it with. When this new blood reached my heart the pain increased almost impossibly and my skin set. The blinding gas wore off and I could see my pale white skin slowly shading blue. Then I slept. When I woke I was on the battlefield, ready to kill. When Celus died my thoughts returned to clarity. And that's how I became who I am today." If he could through his frozen face, Michael would cry, but his condition disabled this.
It was silent for a while longer before a lone clap came from someone at the front of the crowd, who it was, was irrelevant. The applause spread through the whole Gathering and soon, the majestic sound of over one thousand people clapping harmonised the air. And of course, Xavier was clapping along with them; he had completely disappeared into the crowd. He had become part of the thousands of people who had nothing but upmost respect for the fallen. However, Michael had more words to say, he would keep it short this time.

"Thank you all for attending, and as is Cold Gathering tradition, the city will become your party hall for tonight. Those who wish to mourn the fallen may do so either within the confounds of Town Hall or the war memorial site. All those with a pass to join myself and the board in the Town Hall dining room may now enter". Michael passed his words to the crowd, still silent.

The crowd began to spread away. As quickly as they had gathered, they retreated. Xavier became someone again; he was no longer part of the crowd. Kalem was nowhere in sight, nothing was to be thought of it. Kalem, like most people will go home and prepare for the party.

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