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8. Honor

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Stop and backtrack a bit. The high times – can’t see the bad without appreciating the good, to understand why we took the risks that we did. I think more logically than I write, so you may find it easier to follow along, so try to keep up –

The gang mentality is complex, yet similar to an infection. It affects your subconscious and spreads, corrupting your methods and morals. So, what made me want to start a gang? Not merely because I could, but because it was necessary. What started the downfall of my harmless fellows and ended only in misery? I did, I began this, but why? It’s not that I’d betray my allies for a silly reason, things just moved too fast to contain. To be part of a family, that’s all I really wanted. Lacking a physical body, I created one for myself to suit such purpose.

I was locked away for a while and they used all manner of experimental treatments on me, hence my newspaper appearance. But none of it was necessary, no part of it at all. I’m my own shrink, only I can accept and understand myself. Those doctors have never seen something like me in a textbook, perhaps they never will. The principle idea is that all that government money went to waste on me, used for a noble reason but the wrong patient. My girl was my entire life, losing her destroyed me.

Before her – I was in a gang, true. I met her one night as we beat down some fellows; she stood eye to eye with me and took me on, without fear or apprehension. The gang before, Cicero’s little Praetorian of sorts; I got charmed into that. He talked me into it, and lacking a true unity, I joined just to be part of something bigger than myself. So I joined and learned the lessons swiftly; you did your job obediently, asked no stupid questions and tried not to die. I was a natural, loved for my unique style and great character. When it all turned against me is where it all stopped making sense.

Cicero, to give a proper description. He was older in mind and body then me by a bit, not too much, I’d say two years or so. Big, hulking figure, mostly muscle; dark features but bright, scheming eyes and a mind to baffle most adults when he was young. I don’t know what it was that made him so cruelly vicious, he knew just what to do to torture someone, when to get them, how to break them. He was powerful and intimidating and he used it to his advantage at all times. Nothing scared him and compassion was a foreign concept; I doubt that he ever possessed the capacity to love. He was father and brother, lord and master; God. He made you what you are, and could therefore destroy you just as easily. Such misery I think he enjoyed as the laws were enforced. Cicero ran a tough group where the weak perished and the strong were untouchable. This creature molded me to his will, his nature turned violently to the worst. The only thing that kept me humane was Faye; I lived my days torn between Heaven and Hell. From the hard times I went through, you’d think I’d have learned better. Bottom line – humanity is wasted on the humane.

So the infection took hold and spread, leaving my mind a wasteland of old memories and shattered dreams. This mentality was mine and remained thus throughout the whole ordeal. It took a long time for me to break away from the accepted ways, even after I lost Faye. Therapy was the state’s answer, being they couldn’t charge me with murder. All evidence pointed to murder, or possible suicide, so I was sent away for a few years to be “improved”. The thing about most people, that have the common misconception that we can change parts of our character we’ve had for ages. We’re able to bury them, edit them, but we can’t destroy those little character flaws that cause such trouble. They may be avoided for a while, but ultimately, they’ll return, as everything does. So the mentality they tried to cure me of? It simply became dormant.

So the idea of returning to such a harsh existence isn’t hard to accept. The need of fraternity never left me, it strengthened over time. As a social outcast, I could do nothing; by myself I had no power. In the absence of loyalty, I schemed and planned how to restore it; I had plenty of time to conceive intricate ideas for when I was free. From this punishment, I learned patience, a trait that I’m deeply grateful to possess. The general message? The shrinks are wrong – they couldn’t possibly understand, no matter how hard they try. Why? Because to understand even the slightest part of it, they’d have to live my life; but they can’t, so they’ll never know. Their therapy wasn’t completely wasted; I did learn a thing or two. From them I came to perfect the art of deception, I learned to shrug off offense and to be patient to achieve one’s desires.

And they released me back to the wild with the promise that I’d be a good little boy. Fools – too bad that it worked out so poorly. Well, poorly for the society anyway, not so much for me. I went out, renewed old alliances and started anew. Raine knew most of the saga; I knew that he’d be my right hand man once unity was established. He was loyal to his companions, to Darius most of all; he wouldn’t betray me and I’d never hurt them. Cicero’s mistake would be corrected through me. Reunion distracted my intentions, but I made the effort eventually. It started very simply –

Draven and I were passing through the mobs when a familiar face presented itself. An old friend, new enemy, he wasn’t aware of my presence. One of Cicero’s most trusted lackeys, a little lost and completely alone. Time for my return. He couldn’t recognize me; I’d changed severely in appearance since my young childhood with Cicero. I walked toward him calmly with Draven at my side. In one move I grabbed him, sending him reeling. I lurked into an alley after him as he gathered himself. Ignorant, that’s all he was. The fight was brief; we left the bastard on the ground, bleeding as he whimpered weakly. I whispered a warning in his ear to carry on to my Lord, then left him there, robbed of material items and pride. Draven was a bit nervous when concerned cops came after us, but evading them was simple. He was just set in his ways, Draven, he just didn’t want to face consequence. I wasn’t afraid – I’m a product of consequence.

It started with that brief encounter, that quirk of fate, which brought me back. My goal was obvious – avenge Faye, take Cicero down. The power that ran through my veins was intoxicating, I felt like the vessels would burst if I didn’t let it out. Explaining to my friends, the purpose was unwound, a solution learned from a riddle. My voice flowed as my blood heated my body in passion of my latest revolution. I sucked it in, the feeling of purpose and change. And I would lead them, they would define me; our family could stand any evil – and would.

The story of our beginnings isn’t very amazing; I just found a good outlet for my desires. We spent night after night fighting, improving, learning. Rules were set, but we were all equal, nobody was more important than another. Raine would lead in my stead if/when I couldn’t, though I wasn’t much of a leader. We discussed our plans and voted, never proceeding by forced hostility. My methods focused on honor, knowing when mercy was necessary; we picked victims carefully. Most were in league with Cicero and were determined to stop us before we reached the top dog – they failed to sway me.

So up to present, the night when my nemesis stood before me and our eyes met. He winked at me with his characteristic grin, and that brawl started. Him and I went head-to-head for the majority of the conflict; throwing punches, blocks, learning patterns. When the sirens approached, I knew what he’d prepare to do; he’d had me take part many times so long ago. I gathered my ranks and we broke and ran; I heard the ring of gunshots echo through the city, coming after us. Seeing that I was fine, I turned and helped my fellows as much as I could. My efforts weren’t good enough as Darius was lost – the first casualty of my war.

The loss of Darius was a critical point in my life – I saw that I failed as a leader. They trusted me and I them, but the results weren’t positive. To move a bit further – Raine. He self-destructed; I expected such a reaction. His hostility toward me was understandable, so I took it in stride. Nothing more to be done about it, just wait for him to improve. Without her, we were all lost, a large piece missing from our group. My mind ached from considering all options, how to save Darius from my fate as a child. She might think us fools and bear hatred, lack emotion or otherwise once she got out, if ever. Only time could tell, and effort. Whatever it took, I’d help her. The solution isn’t visible now, but it will be, soon –

So let’s give the story back to its’ owner, the true storyteller, the only one worthy of telling it right and proper. Raine, faithful friend and loyal companion, keeper of damning lies and liberating truths. The story was never mine to begin with, and never shall be. It belongs to us all in turn, and we cherish it as such. The story isn’t for us though, for our glory. More or less it’s for those who follow in our stead, walking that fine line carefully behind, hoping to keep balance. In our world of disorder and misery, this was just the beginning of things we could hardly imagine. So here’s to you, for it is only in your heart that our tale may hold bearing.

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