Halo: The Unchained

Going to summer camp is just about the worst decision Ryan Winters has ever made. Spending three months with a bunch of idiots who think "tru dat" is correct grammar is certainly not his idea of a good time. But, according to his adoptive mother, he isn't good enough at pretending to not be a mutant. So, off to summer camp, trying to spend more time with the human persons so he can learn how to be a human person. There is only one problem:
Ryan isn't who he says he is.
In a desperate attempt to keep his past hidden, Ryan tries to navigate life at the campsite while drawing as little attention as possible. But, when an unlikely person discovers the truth, Ryan is forced to choose between the fate of the world and the life he has always wanted to live. Now, Ryan has never thought of himself as the type to help people.
Little did Ryan know, all it would take was an interdimensional messenger, his ex-best-friend, and a giant robot from hell to prove him very, very wrong.

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6. That One Unimportant Goth Kid (Spoiler Alert: He's actually Important)

That One Unimportant Goth Kid

(Spoiler Alert: He’s Actually Important)

The signal finally came.  After years of waiting, that sweet, silky alert drifted through the castle…  Those brats weren’t stealthy enough to hide from him forever.  Deep in the realm ruled by rot and death, the Great Demon King sat atop his throne of bones and grinned a sharp, bloody grin, as he stared at the mirror showing the Third Realm.

He had spent years trying to track down the ingrates who had escaped his grasp eighteen years before.  They were crafty little shits; he gave them that. But not crafty enough. “Natasha!” His harsh voice boomed through the walls of the black castle, sharper than the spike-covered wall protecting his castle.

A woman drifted to him, wearing a dress of black fire, burning around her knees.  She knelt before him, eyes lowered.  “You’re in luck, my sweet.”  His voice wore the mask of kindness, but there was a harshness lying just beneath his tone.  “They have located the boy you lost.”  He licked his lips, cleaning the layer of “holy” blood that coated them.  Well, it wasn’t so holy now that it was dead, was it? “It’s time to put our plan into motion. Get the one with wings as black as night.”

***

The campsite was completely quiet.  Everyone was asleep— everyone but him, the boy who liked to stay awake and watch the moon.  He sat on his bed, peering out the one lonely window of their cabin, watching the sky twinkle. There was something captivating about its light.  It made him feel like he was a part of that world— like he belonged with the rest of the humans that made him feel more like a freak than a functioning member of society.  It would have been a nice moment, if it weren’t for the annoying jock and weird nerd boy who thought he was so funny tossing and turning in their beds, making all sorts of noise. In fact, he was pretty sure that Mr. Popular over there was snoring like an animal.

He pushed his black hair from his eyes so he could get a better look at the moon.  Why was it so important to October’s parents that he spend his entire summer in a stupid, stuffy campsite surrounded by a bunch of people he didn’t even like?  Well, at least he had October. And it wasn’t like he wasn’t grateful that they took him in. But it also wasn’t like he was ever going to fit in with any of them.  

Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a swirl of black.  He shot back in his bed, pressing his back against the wall as he stared ahead in horror, watching a woman form from nothing. Her dress was pure black and looked like it was burning as it blew behind her— pushed by wind that wasn’t there.  She looked young, probably around his age, but her skin was smooth, without a blemish in sight.  Her hair fell around her in dark curls, highlighting eyes that were as bright and gray as the moonlight itself.  And in that moment, Tyrin couldn’t bring himself to look away. “Tyrin Wilson.  I’ve been looking for you— the boy with wings as black as night.”

Tyrin opened his mouth to scream, but the woman raised her hand. His throat tightened, and the only sound that managed to escape his throat was nothing but a tiny squeak. “Now, now. I’m hardly that scary.” She slowly moved her hand away, and suddenly his whole body felt relaxed. A little voice told him that there was still reason to be afraid, but he couldn’t bring himself to do anything about it.

“How… How could you possibly know that?” He hissed once his voice finally returned. His voice was soft and smooth like velvet, despite his tense state. He watched her dress flicker, constantly moving and swaying in the dull light. There was no way it was made of fabric— but what else could it be?

The woman raised her head a little, her eyes twinkling as she sashayed forward. Tyrin found himself captivated by the way her dress flickered, the black flames breaking and turning red before fizzling out into the night. “I know everything about you.”  Her voice danced through the cabin, and she floated above the ground so she could look him in the eyes.  “You— the one with wings as black as night, and eyes as red as blood— are marked.  A warrior of my Lord.  He has called upon you for help in this dark time.”

Tyrin blinked, shaking his head as his attention snapped back to the strange woman.  “What the—?!  Warrior?  Your lord?! What are you talking about?!  And don’t talk so loud, you’ll wake the idiots!” Tyrin’s eyes darted over to Josh on the other side of the room, who simply snorted and turned over on his side. Yeah, he wasn’t waking up anytime soon.

The woman spun around, turning her back to Tyrin. She looked over her shoulder and she smirked at him. Her hair brushed against her back— which was exposed where the flames parted and swooped down before collecting themselves again just below where her curls fell. “Then come outside with me.” She slowly floated backward, tempting Tyrin away from his bed with her eyes. It was something about the way they seemed to dance that made him feel hypnotized. She floated forward with the grace of a siren luring her prey into the water, and suddenly Tyrin found himself moving forward. The wooden walls of the cabin swirled and blurred, becoming the pine trees dotting his peripheral vision, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her.

Tyrin swallowed, stopping when his feet sank into the dirt path. “What… What do you want…?”

The woman twisted around to face him again, batting her long eyelashes as she stepped forward. Tyrin tried to look back at the cabin, wondering how he had even gotten outside in the first place, but she reached out a long finger and turned his attention back to her captivating eyes. “I want for you to find your rightful place in this world. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? To know where you belong? You can’t possibly believe your place is here, surrounded by… as you put it, idiots.” She slowly pulled her finger away, her touch lingering for a moment.

Tyrin bit his lip a little, hesitating for just a moment. He couldn’t stop himself from answering her. “This isn’t where I belong…”

The woman smiled, satisfied with his answer.  She reached out her hand to him, her pale skin reflecting the soft moonlight.  “Come with me, Tyrin.  Don’t you wish to know where you come from?  What you are?” Her eyes drifted back to the cabin for a moment before resting on Tyrin again. “They won’t even notice that you are gone.” Tyrin became only vaguely aware that they had moved past the camp, and deep into the forest.

Tyrin stared at her hand for a long time.  He had always known that he was different.  After all, he was born with wings— which isn’t a typical human attribute.  Maybe knowing what he really was would… help him find peace? She was right.  He did want answers. He was an outcast in a world that would never understand him. “They won’t even notice that I’m gone.” Tyrin’s own voice sounded foreign to him— flat and robotic like he was her pet. He tried to stop himself from moving any further, but he had become so unaware of his actions that he couldn’t even feel his body move closer.

He slowly reached out, his fingers brushing against hers as he took her hand.

***

Red.  Red everywhere.  It was almost hard for him to make everything out since it was all just different shades of red. Tyrin glanced around him a little, trying to find something that felt real. The walls surrounding them were jagged, with spikes shooting like swords. There was no sky, only a bleak red ceiling, and the only light came from the fiery pits below them. The air was filled with screams, but he couldn’t tell if the sounds were tortured, or if it was just a normal occurrence.

“This way.” Tyrin’s eyes were torn away from the unfamiliar environment when he heard the woman speak again. He found himself once again drawn to the flickering movements of her dress, as she floated across a long, broken path that led to a huge palace sitting on top of an island of jagged red stone that almost appeared to be floating. Other than the palace and the path Tyrin and the woman were walking on, he couldn’t see any other ground in the whole cave. He frowned as they walked. His head began to feel less foggy the longer they walked in silence. Just what was this place?  What were they going to do to him?  An uneasy feeling crept up inside of him.

Huge iron gates greeted them on the other side of the path, the rust decorating the long pointed poles giving the iron the illusion that it was painted with blood ages ago. Natasha spoke in a language Tyrin had never heard before, and the gates slowly opened— screaming at the effort. “Follow me. My Lord is awaiting our arrival in the throne room.” Tyrin slowly followed her, his feet hitting the cold hard stone— and it was only then that he realized he wasn’t even wearing slippers.

The castle was larger and grander than anything Tyrin had ever seen. It was tall, with sharp edges that towered far above every skyscraper Tyrin could possibly imagine. The top of the castle was finished off with the edges of the castle twisting into a large pair of demon horns. Large stone steps lead up to blood red double doors, decorated with elaborate silver vines twisting and turning against the metal. The door knocker was also silver, featuring two little demons with little horns on their heads, and long pointed tails. Their claw-like hands curled around the handles of the door knockers protectively, like they were there to ward off unwanted visitors.

The woman reached out and circled her fingers around the door knob, knocking three times before standing back. The doors pushed open slowly, but there was no one on the other side to greet them. They had simply opened on their own. Tyrin followed Natasha inside, his foot hesitating for a moment before he stepped on the grand red carpet. He glanced around the room that he could only assume to be the throne room, trying to make sense of why he was there in the first place.

The throne room was large and empty, except for the long red carpet that led right up to the throne itself, which was on an elevated platform. The room was decorated with spikes sharp enough to kill. Tyrin looked down, choosing his steps wisely to prevent himself from falling into one of the rather large cracks in the ground.

Tyrin matched the pace of the strange woman in front of him, stopping only when she did. It was then that he finally looked up to gaze upon the… Thing sitting on top of the throne made of bones. Once Tyrin did, he couldn’t possibly look away. There was no way the person Tyrin saw in front of him was human. The man on the throne grinned, revealing teeth sharper than blades, dripping in blood.  He stood, towering far above both of them. Thick, black horns swirled out of either side of his head, curling upwards until they ended with a sharp, blood red point.  His eyes were blood red, just like Tyrin’s, but the pupils looked similar to a cat’s.

The woman floated over to the man on the throne, bowing to him in submission.  “I have fetched the boy, my Lord.” Tyrin glanced briefly at Natasha, the wheels in his head slowly turning. Well, she referred to the person in front of them as “Lord,” so that must mean that he was a King, right? That and the throne. Why had she brought Tyrin, of all people, to a King?

 “My boy!”  The King declared, his voice booming through the entire room. He spread his arms out in a grand gesture, pushing his black cloak behind him— only Tyrin noticed that it wasn’t a cloak at all. It was two large bat-like wings, hooked around the man’s neck at the center with two talons that looked like certifiable weapons. “Oh, how long I’ve waited to have a chance to bring you home!  So, do you remember me, my child? I believe I’ve changed some over the years. Oh, but not as much as you!”  He spun around slowly, giving Tyrin a 360 view.

Tyrin narrowed his eyes and shook his head.  Something in his mind snapped, and he was suddenly very aware that he had followed an absolute stranger into a place surrounded by things that could kill him in seconds. He wanted to get out. “I have no idea what you are talking about!  I’ve never seen you before in my life!”  He shouted.  What was he doing there? What was going on? Where were the others? He felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to look back at the woman who had brought him there. He felt his fear settle to the bottom of his stomach while his brain fogged over again. That’s right… He was safe. He was where he belonged.

No one would notice he was gone.

The King chuckled in amusement, pacing around his little stage. “I suppose we should have accounted for this. It seems you’ve lost your memories after all.”

Tyrin shook his head, the haze fading a little as he tore his eyes away from the woman who had basically just kidnapped him. “Memories? What memories? Where am I? Who are you?”

The King waved his hand, and Tyrin’s whole body tensed. He suddenly felt like he was being squeezed, but there was nothing around him but air. “So many questions, so little time. If you value your life, you’ll take a breath and listen to me. Surely my servant, Natasha, explained this. You are home. This place is filled with your people. Those weaklings you know, the humans,” the King practically spat on the word, “they are not your family. We are.”

Tyrin blinked slowly, staring right into the King’s eyes. He still couldn’t move, but he didn’t feel bothered enough to even try. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he could feel himself wanting to get away—to run, to do literally anything. The rest of his thoughts were just the same repeating phrase, over and over again until he could do nothing but believe it. “You are my family.” He repeated slowly, and the King took his hand away. Tyrin stumbled, nearly falling to the floor as the mysterious force released him.

“That’s better. Allow me to fill you in on a few little details.”

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