# Innocence

"Evil is a concept created by society to protect the weak from the
strong."

They say that in the last moments before death your life flashes before
your eyes. I never really believed that. Now I know differently. I can
feel it coming, and I know there is nothing I can do to stop it.
I watch them draw together, their power combining in an
unstopable hurricane, and I know they are going to kill me. I rage, it
is all I can do, it is all I know.  Then a try to fight back, a last
desperate gamble in a shield to protect myself but it is pointless. I
hate them.  All of them.
The bandana-adorned brat called Ryouga I hardly know, but I hate him.
The boy whose soul I captured to complete the  sphere, Ranma, I hate him
too. I know more about him. I know he loves, and I know it is this love
that drives him to destroy me. I can not  understand that. Love is
foreign. Only hate matters, only hate is  -real-. Thanks to them it is
all I feel. I hate them for allowing me to hate them.
Gaeld, the dragon, there is nothing I would rather see than
his miserable traitorous hide drapped across the battlements of the
Keep. I hate the wolf too, whose interference nearly destroyed me, whose
sacrifice created my brother. How could he? How could he create
something that was me, that felt and that could love, yet leave me
trapped forever with only my hatred? And my brother is no better, a
martyr, he knows me and I know him better than any two people could know
each other. I can understand him, and I do not hate him. I loathe him.
He is everything I wanted to be, he is a mockery of my very existence.
He shows me exactly what it is that has happened to me and I feel the
darkness consume me when I think of it.
Blade, the one who comes closest to me.  He is a pit of hatred as
well. He has mastered the Iron Blow of the True Dragon, the ultimate
expression of the inner darkness. Yet he has love, in all his darkness
there glows a light that drives the madness from his mind and gives him
the one thing I can never have. Hope. That is what Blade is, he is the
hope I never had, someone so consumed with darkness that they seem
beyond redemption. Yet the love of a women... no, TWO women gives him
hope. I hate him too.
The last one is Heavensrun, a girl who thinks she's a man.
Torn between two loves... oh yes, I know her, perhaps better than she
knows herself. Know you enemy and all that. How dare she mock me,
complaining about having too much of the one thing I will never have.
She allows it to eat away at her, to feed her rage that fuels her power.
It would be a pleasure to put her out of her misery.
I hate them all... and for a moment, just a moment the shield holds. I
rage more, the power of my defense grows, but then it begins to shatter.
My hatred is no match for their power. It is at this point I know beyond
a shadow of a doubt that it is over.
With this I realize one thing, that there is one person I hate
more than any other in this room. That person is myself. I hate what I
have become because that is all I can do. I remember all my promises,
all my intentions, all my failures... my hatred crumbles away to
nothing. It leaves emptiness, but not the familiar emptiness of
non-feeling. No, this is a different kind altogether, this one hurts.
Hurts more than the fact that their power has struck me like the wrath
of the cosmos itself. Hurts more than the reality distortions that I
myself created flooding my body as water floods past a broken dam. Hurts
more than feeling my body being torn apart by this, feeling my atoms
scatter across the infinite that is the multiverse. In those last
seconds they mistake my cry for that of physical torment. But they do
not know the pain that fills me, and the phrase that burns across my
eroding conciousness like a comet. The last thing I will ever think...
If only... if only it could have been different....

Journey Into Darkness
The Tale of Epsilon
Chapter 1
Innocence

A GRITfic by Aaron Peori

-*-

I first became aware in a house. It was not a large house, just four
rooms and only one floor. By that era's standards it was almost a
mansion. The front room was the largest, about thirty of a paces
across and fifteen by the side. In one corner sat a chair, little more
than a collection of flexible wooden logs covered over with the leathery
hide of some animal I never did learn the name of. It brooded in the
corner, whether because of the fact that the light of the fireplace that
was within a mans reach left it perpetually in shadows or some strange
aftereffect of the man who sat there I could not say. Above  the
aforementioned fireplace gleamed two swords, one was iron, the other
bronze. They were my father's, he had used them in the war. At least
that was what I gathered from his drunken ramblings.
Opposite the fireplace from his chair was the pile of straw
I called my bed. In the center of the room was a table, made of oak or
some other large tree, just a trunk cut thin and propped up one four
rickety logs.
In the back of the room two doors led to my father's room and the
kitchen. The next door, found directly opposite the fireplace in the far
wall, was my mother's room. That room was sparse, a single bed (actually
little more than a collection of reeds in a sack on a frame of bent
wood) and a window covered in canvas to keep the cold out. Not that she
would have noticed, in fact in her state she probably wouldn't have
noticed anything. Jupiter knows we tried everything.
You see my mother was in what modern doctors would have called
a coma. They probably would have been unable to figure out why, nor
could I actually. And I had learned the hard way that asking my father
would get me nowhere. So I accepted it, like I accepted all the other
constants in my life.
It was my job to look after her, and I would spend many hours
cleaning her, brushing her string like blonde-white hair from her
closed eyes, spoon feeding her mush and forcing her to shallow.  Her skin
was pale, almost white, and tended to accumulate sweat as if she fought
a battle as terrible, or more so than, the ones my father alluded to in
those not-quite-rare times when he'd ramble into his wineskin.
Sometimes, when my father was in a strange mood, he would lock himself
in her room. I could hear his hoarse sobs all throughout the little
shack, punctuated now and then by his fierce moans of loss.
I didn't know what loss was then, that would be a lesson for
another time, nor did I know what the strange affliction was that caused
tears to fall from my fathers eyes. Somehow I knew that these tears were
not unnatural, and that in fact I was the strange one for not joining my
father. Somehow, I knew that if I had done that things would have turned
out differently.
For some reason I could not fathom in my young, albiet
precocious, mind when my father returned from from those fits and would
see my dry grey eyes the Fury would overtake him worse than at any other
time. The Fury was another constant of my young life, one that I can say
was perhaps the defining concept. It would come from nowhere, seemingly
at random, and consume my father. His face would twist and his eyes
would shine with some inner light that transformed him from a man into a
beast spawned of nightmares and forged by the stuff of madness.
Sometimes he would scream, his voice harsh and uncaring, blaming me for
my mother's condition, other times he would just go straight to the
beating.
Pain was one of my clearest memories, its bitter-sweet taste one I knew
well. My father knew about pain too, or more importantly how to inflict
it. His years in that nameless war had taught him that. I lost
conciousness so many times that I didn't bother to count, but other
times I was left battered and covered in my own blood, laying on the
floor in agony that lingered for hours. I'm not sure how often my father
nearly killed me, at those times when the Fury was at its worst. I
remember at least five times, each time I could feel my body giving in,
the darkness beginning to encroach on my vision. But not the cool
darkness, no, this one was hot and within it my mind screamed.  Yet each
time he stopped short, each time he would halt himself and with an
effort repress the Fury. Whether he did this because of some deep buried
feeling for me or my mother, or to simply prolong the suffering I know
not. Even so, I don't think I would have survived those first ten years
As I said, I was a precocious child, and by the "tender" age of six I
had learned that moving with a fist was easier than resisting it. I
would, over the next several years, learn how to turn that to my
advantage, rolling with the Fury rather than facing it. I would also
adapt my body, strengthing it. This I did during my father's frequent
trips to town. Chopping wood and hauling it helped to build my stamina
and strength, and by the time I was ten I was already quite sturdy and
well built, if small. I had several advantages over other children, if
at the time I didn't know this. I healed faster for one, not much, but
enough to make the difference since the Fury would come more and more
often as I grew older.
The one time I did meet another child my age was when I was eight or
nine. My father was out, gone to retrieve more wine no doubt. I was
chopping wood in the back, the slow methodical motion of the hatchet
sending a creeping burning through my muscles, but leaving my mind free
to wander. I was unsure of what I was thinking, my young mind tended to
drift from topic to topic. Maybe I was thinking of how the shadow of the
sun would tell the time, or remembering the fact that the small leaf I
had once dropped had been lifted ever so little by the steam from a pot
of boiling water. Either way my thoughts went out the window when he
approached.
Another of my father's lesson was how to understand and be aware of my
environment. It was a neccesity when you had to hear your father
approaching from a distance so that you could make yourself busy
elsewhere. Sometimes I would simply sit, late at night when my father
had fallen into drunken slumber, or during those days when my chores
were finished early, and concentrate on the world around me. The scamper
of a small rodent, the screech of the owl... but I digress.
I was aware of the child before he appeared, I suppose turning to face
his hiding place was not the best thing to do in the interest of
generating ease. I sensed a strange force from him, not one that my
father had ever projected. This was not something with which I was
familiar. In time, I would learn to recognize it as fear and curiosity.
"Come out," I remember saying, it being so rare back then to say
anything at all that I remember it quite clearly. I waited for a time,
unsure what to do. I considered going over, but somehow I knew that
would make whoever it was leave.
"I won't hurt you," I added as I placed the hatchet aside. I felt
whoever it was change, their mode shifted. Slowly the bushes in which he
had been hiding parted and he stepped out. He was taller than me, with
short hair almost cut to the scalp, of some brown hue.
"Hello," he said.
"Greetings," I replied. He seemed taken aback by my formality.
"You have weird eyes," he offered.
"I do?" I inquired.
"Uh-huh," he nodded, "They're all grey, see, my eyes are blue." He
pointed at the aforementioned orbs. "With black and white and junk.
Yours are just grey."
"Indeed..." I said.
"Whatcha doin'?"
"Chopping wood for the evening fire."
"Wanna play?"
"I can't."
"Why not?"
"I'm chopping wood for the evening fire."
"Oh."
There was a long silence, interupted only by the distant chitter of
small animals.
"I better be going," he said, finally breaking the strange silence. "My
parents took me on a picnic, they'll be looking for me..."
"Farewell," I offered.
"You're not like other kids," he said and was gone.
"No." I replied into the air, "I'm not."
I returned to the wood pile.

-*-

I was sixteen when my mother died. The promise of my younger
years had fulfilled itself after my brief and early puberty. My puberty
had been unlike others, coming when I was young, as if my body had raced
to catch up with my mind. I was also not plagued by hormones, somehow my
lack of confusion over the changes that occured to me in those years
would cause the Fury to consume my father more often.
Thankfully I was a sturdy youth, already as big as some men and nearly
as tough. Still it was not enough to protect me from the pain, from the
longs hours spent lying in a a puddle of my own blood, or from the cold
embrace of unconciousness.
My own increasing strength seemed to be inverted by my mother. For
almost a year her health had been flagging, her face had grown tighter,
her hair thinner and her breathing more difficult. During that year my
father's Fury continued to grow, while his self-control lagged further
and further behind.
I was with her when she died. Going through my regular routine, as I
had for as long as I could remember. Then, as I wiped the sweat from her
brow I felt something inside her slip away. As it did her eyes snapped
open, her voice cracked out for the first time in all my life. Her words
were incoherent, her meaning lost forever, but I could repeat them
verbatim now, over three thousand years later, not a syllable off, a
tone incorrect or an octave different. Then she looked at me, her eyes
filled with something, a power filled her that I could not understand.
She smiled, a tear rolled down her cheek... and her eyes closed. Her
last breath was one filled with a calm and peace I had never seen
before.  Her struggle was over.
I don't know how long I stood there.  Maybe hours, maybe seconds. At
some point I decided to get to my other chores. No use wasting time on
it, less work to perform tomorrow.
When my father returned he was half dead from drink. His eyes
shined red and puffed out, his gait slow and infected with an odd
stumble. He had been like this a few times, and the Fury never took him
at times like these so I knew I was safe for the moment. He would drag
himself to his bed and sleep the night away. My father had grown fat
over the years. His former warrior's build was hidden underneath an inch
of flab that covered his entire body. His hair was usually unkempt,
covered in his own sweat and oils. His face was shaved only once every
few weeks. He smelled like the animal he had become. The few times his
friends had come over I had seen the looks on their faces, and felt the
throb that I would later identify as pity.
"Mother is dead," I said when he was half-way across the room. I was
sitting on my bed, reading a scroll that I had managed to get a man down
the road to give me for weeding his gardens. A fire burned high in the
fireplace, to keep away the chill. Not that I minded chill, but my
father preferred it warm and I knew better than to do something that
would make him unhappy, not matter how illogical it seemed.
It was then I was to learn my third lesson. Never take anything for
granted. For as I watched my father sobered in an instant. His lumbering
gait was gone, the bloodshot eyes seemed to sink back into  his face and
cool. It was an unusual sight.
"What?" he croaked, I felt the sorrow flood through him, stronger than
any time he had locked himself in with her.
"She died this morning," I replied, "Not long after you had left to
help that caravan pack."
His body seemed to stiffen, "You were with her weren't you?"
"Yes," I saw no reason to lie.
He came over to me, and I felt the Fury grow within him. It's
power was like I had never felt it before, it threatened to overwhelm me
and it was all I could do to think as he approached. Then he struck me,
and I was reminded that despite that fat he was still strong. He had to
work for his wine, and he worked with heavy lifting, manual labor and
other grunt tasks others didn't wish to do. Thus, under the fat was
still a layer of muscle, strong as any steel. I was lifted from my seat
and sent sprawling onto the floor. My cheek ached and I could taste
blood in my mouth from where a tooth and gouged the inside.
"You little monster..." he growled, The Fury grew still, but he had not
given into it. No, it seemed instead like he was only holding it back to
allow it to build. He was on me in a second. Lifting me from where I lay
he tossed me into the table. This time I rolled with it, and thanks to
this my spine did not snap like a twig when it collided with the round
table.
Unfortunately the table gave way, the legs fell out from under it
and I went falling with it. Again I lay on the table, trying to get the
strength to think. "You killed her!" His fist connected with my jaw, I
saw light and my vision blurred as I skidded across the table top and
collapsed to the floor again. "Little monster, you've been draining her
dry all this time haven't you! But now you're bigger, you had to eat it
all, well you won't get away with it."
I expected another blow but it didn't come, in fact, I had time to stop
the spinning and raise myself to a crouch. What I saw however, proved
that this might not have been a good thing. My father took down one of
the sword made of bronze and turned to face me, holding it with deadly
familiarity. Then the Fury overcame him at last. I watched my father die
too that day, I felt what was him, and I watched it slip away like I had
felt my mother leave. All that was left was the Fury. I knew with
certainty that this time he would not stop, this time he would not pull
himself short. This time, I would die.
He came at me with methodical measured strides, slow and easy. I had
nowhere to go, and he knew it. So I did the only thing I could, I
waited, now standing with feet spread to allow myself better balance.
The Fury was hot, but not hot like before. Instead it was the burning
cold of the Darkness that I had almost slipped into those few times.
Then he was upon me, sword flashing in the firelight like a shard of
the sun itself. I tried to roll with the blow but it didn't work. The
sword bit into my side, freeing a small river of blood that rolled down
my leg and pooled on the floor. I did not cry out, I did not fall. He
pulled back his sword, his face twisted beyond humanity and I felt the
low buzz of pleasure flow through the Fury, the pleasure he felt when he
would laugh with friends who pitied him. The wound was shallow, not life
threatening by far, only meant to hurt. Oh yes, it hurt, like nothing
else it hurt. I readied myself for the next blow. Adapt or die.
When it came I was already moving. He struck high, meaning to
peel skin off my shoulder like a man may peel the skin of an apple. But
I was faster, I ducked underneath the blow and crouched, feeling the
energy build in my legs I went with it. Releasing myself forward my fist
crashed into his stomach, sinking into the flab before it found
something more solid. He fell back, winded, and I knew I had no time to
waste thinking on how this was the first time I had ever struck back,
how this could only mean he would make it worse. Instead I was around
him and to the fireplace by the time he had recoved his breath. He
turned to face me, his sword held low and the Fury burning coldly within
him, even stronger than before. But I was ready, in my hand I held his
other sword, the one of iron.
But I held it like a novice, my hands clenched in the wrong places and
my stance all wrong. He smiled as he recognized this and shifted into a
good stance, sword held high. And this was what I wanted.  With a single
motion I copied his stance, shifting my hands as I had watched him shift
his. I now stood in a ready stance.
For a moment he faltered, than the Fury grew strong again and he was
upon me. I was no match for him. He beat down my guard with a few
mockingly easy blows and struck again and again, carving shallow lines
of red across my chest and arms and legs. His sword flicked with the
movements of a master, and I couldn't even see half his blows, much less
have any hope of countering them. After a minute or so he stopped. I was
still standing, I had not cried out. But I could feel strength ebbing
from my wounds. My sword's tip lay on the floor, and I couldn't raise it
despite all my efforts. My arms were lead, my legs were saplings bending
under my own weight. Only my sturdiness kept me from collapsing and
dying right there.
With a laugh he struck with the flat of his blade, sending me
sprawling into the fire behind me. I felt the fire fall in around me and
he smiled, expecting me to scream in pain as it burned the flesh from my
bones as my body, too weak to rise, slowly roasted in the flames.
But I didn't die. The fire filled me with warmth, it flooded
into my skin, and I felt something inside me swallow it like water
soaking into the ground.  And I could move, my strength returned quickly
as the fire flooded me.
Without thinking I acted, throwing myself from the fire with my second
wind I struck. Sword held in front of me like a spear I drove myself
into his chest. He didn't recover from his surprise quickly enough to
save himself. My sword point drove home, into the place where I could
feel his life held. His body and heart were pierced, my sword blade
stuck from his back. He died quickly, his heart stopped, his blood no
longer flowed. His breathing stilled and he fell. Eyes open he lay on
the floor, cold, lifeless. I realised that I had thrown the fire behind
me into chaos. That logs had rolled onto the wooden floor, that my bed
I grunted and lifted my father over, pulling the sword from his
carcass. I would need it later. I cleaned the blade, running it along
his body to wipe the blood from it before taking down the sheath and
sliding it into place. I turned and watched the fire beginning to climb
up the walls of the house. I didn't have much time left here. Walking
into the kitchen I retrieved some water and clothes, then I left. I
stood at the edge of the clearing, watching the house go up as I cleaned
my wounds with the water which I had boiled using the heat from that
very inferno.  Already they were beginning to clot, I would survive.
Once I had wrapped the rags around myself, stemming the last of the
blood flow, and felt assured that there would be no infection I left.
Walking into the wood, sword held in one hand. I never looked back.

The Beginning

Author's Notes: This is the origin story of one of GRIT's most infamous
villians, that being Epsilon. More chapters will follow as I finish them
but don't expect this series to finish anytime soon. The entire saga of
Epsilon covers three thousand years (not counting timewarps and other
wierd stuff that happened) and it was a pretty eventful life.

-----------------
Epsilon

" Pain without Sorrow;
Want without Desire;
Purpose without Passion,
That burns like Fire."
- Sensation