Vanguard Act I: Das Immortales

Chapter 1: World of Immortals

Terra, a planet as diverse as it is dangerous. Long has this rock been proclaimed as the melting pot of the universe. A planet teeming with wildlife and monsters from beyond the material world. A planet whose people worship strength and power. A planet that hangs so precariously on the brink of eternal war. But it was not always this way.

Thousands of years ago, a council of godlike beings called the Celestials set their sights on the young planet. They saw potential in its people. They saw beauty in its landscape. So, in part due to charity and in part due to curiosity, they bestowed upon the people of Terra, the gift of immortal life.

Now, they were well aware of the chaotic nature that comes with the power to cheat death. So, they established an order to things. For each realm: heaven, subterranean, and knowledge, they named an immortal king. With one king, Chronos, ruling over them all. Each immortal also had a talent. These talents allowed them to achieve super-powered feats. Chronos, had the talent to take the gift of immortality away with a touch. This led to an alias, Paradox is what his for he alone could kill an immortal as easily as a mortal.

Then, as these things tend to go, war broke out. Over the next five-thousand years, there were numerous battles between various factions of immortals and their super-powered offspring, the talented. Talents and immortals shaped the world of Terra as it is this day.

Then, a mere century ago, someone found a way to end the bloodshed. A weapon was theorized that would serve as the perfect catalyst for the destruction of Paradox. A metal that once absorbed will give a man untold abilities. This metal could only be forged by bathing in the Terran sun for sixty years. Few would survive the process. Though they could cheat death, it was still possible, however unlikely, for an immortal to perish. Deep inside each of them is a core that if destroyed, would render them completely mortal.

Luckily, Cedric Vanheim, an immortal who had wandered Terra for a thousand years, did possess such abilities. His brother, Lupin Vanheim, was a servant of Chronos. Chronos too, sought this metal for himself. These pieces conspired together to convince Cedric to undergo the ordeal. He agreed to his brother's wishes and left Terra for sixty years. Little did he know, that his return would shake the fabric that had woven Terra's history, forever.

It was nighttime when Cedric reentered Terra's atmosphere. Going from the cold vacuum of space to the heat of entrance velocity. His body ignited and the flesh he had done well to regrow was burned from his skeleton. He hit the ground, leaving a crater.

His vision returned and his body finally adjusted to normal temperatures for the first time in six decades. He looked at his hands, which were just metallic bone now. He focused his energy into regrowing everything that was lost.

He was back and still alive. His core was stable. His flesh was returning at an impressive rate. Luckily, his nerves had been annihilated long ago and were just now given a chance to come back. That was always the worst of it. What didn't kill him could still hurt him. Even immortals have a nervous system.

"Finally, I'm back." Cedric breathed as his lungs functioned again. Immortals were all about energy. Although they didn't need to eat, drink or even breathe to live, they needed such luxuries to have stable regeneration. For sixty years, Cedric had been living off his talent, the ability to steal energy. He was basically a plant at that point, leeching off the sun's boundless energy. It's the only thing that kept him alive all these years.

"Alright, first things first." Cedric ran towards the pond he spotted upon his entrance. He drank from it to restore more of his energy. He rubbed his ashamedly bald head. He had long luscious brown hair when he had left Terra but that hair had been one of the first things to go.

Now with his body stable, he could grow it back. He channeled his energy into his hair. Hair growth was a nifty ability all immortals had. Lupin had often pondered if the way they regenerated was less like a repair and more like a rewind.

"You've got to be kidding me." Cedric said as he looked at his hair. "Silver? My hair is supposed to be brown."

"The bonding process will undoubtedly have many side effects." Lupin had warned.

"Oh…right." He grieved. Then he looked at his reflection. "On second thought, I think I pull it off nicely." He then remembered that the process had also destroyed his clothes.

He grabbed a bush and stuck his legs through it. Had he been one for the seam, he may have sewn himself some garments from the leaves. But he had no such skill so a crude set of trousers is what he was left with.

"Next order of business is definitely clothes." He said to himself.

He ran to the nearest city, which was only a mile away. It looked to be a sizable city with plenty of shops to steal from. He broke into a small clothing store and ripped the bush off his body. He ran around and quickly found an outfit that suited his tastes. A pair of boxers, some tight jeans, a stylish belt with a ram sigil on it, a white, loose fitting long-sleeve shirt and some Crescent Moon sneakers.

"All set." He walked out of the store.

He didn't care what the mortals who ran the shop would think about their missing inventory, or the foliage discarded in the middle of an aisle. He stretched and popped his joints as he enjoyed the crisp spring air. Then he heard gunfire and screams coming from across the city.

"It's not your fight Cedric." He told himself. "It's not your…" A woman screamed in the distance. "God, damn it!"

He leaped into the air and took flight. Flight was an ability only those with a manipulative talent possessed. Which by Cedric's experience, was a majority of talented. Cedric spotted a police force battling a giant mantis. From the looks of it, the monster was a demon, or Oblivionite.

"Filthy mortals." The mantis sliced through a car. The mortals fruitlessly fired their guns at the beast. "You are unfit to exist in this reality. Soon all those who cling to mercy will fall into Oblivion." The monster slashed at a female officer but Cedric managed to intercept the attack and caught the bladed appendage with his hand.

"For a thousand years, I've heard the same crap coming from you demons." Cedric quipped. "Fall this, Oblivion that, death to all Terrans blah, blah, blah." He squeezed his hand and crushed the end of the appendage.

"Rah!" Mantis shrieked. "Immortal! Why do you care for the life of those beneath you?"

"It's not about caring or power." Cedric smiled. "Maybe I just love being the hero."

"I am King Mantis. You are but a lowly vagabond with the gist of extended life. A thousand years? I have stood for five of your lifetimes."

Mantis took a swing at Cedric. Cedric dodged the attack and punched the insect in its oversized thorax. Cedric's body flared with solar energy as his fist ripped through the armor plating as if it were paper.

"Yeah…I never cared about any of that." Cedric taunted.

"You fool…I am an Oblivionite. Defeating me only prolongs the inevitable. I'll be back, stronger than ev…" Cedric shut him up by gripping his ugly mouth.

"If you think I'm just going to let you reconstitute back in the endless prison…you have another thing coming."

Cedric smiled as he unleashed his talent. Ropes of shadow wrapped around King Mantis. The ropes constricted, crushing the demon. Cedric then pulled the monster into his body. He stole the demon's energy and became its prison. He absorbed every fiber of it. Then, he looked at his hand. A number appeared and disappeared. King Mantis makes nine-hundred and forty-six. That's how many demons he had stolen from Oblivion.

"Amazing." The officer said.

"It was nothing." Cedric gave a lazy salute. "You wouldn't happen to know where I can find a good time?" He winked. "It's been so long since I've…been around that I'd like to take a while to refamiliarize myself with what's happening."

"Well, thanks for saving my life." The officer said. "But I'm on the clock…and not that interested." She walked off to rejoin her fellow officers. Cedric shrugged and flew off. Next stop was to get his summoning tattoos back.