Shadows of the Future
"So shall you stand, so shall you crawl."
Orphaned as a baby, Syrian grew up learning on the streets. He never knew family, only close friends, and as such, doesn’t hold much faith in “familial bonds”. When he was fourteen, the orphanage he was raised in burned to the ground for unknown reasons. Authorities suspected arson, but no case was ever filed. Syrian was the only survivor of the fire, and refused to talk about it to anyone.
Two years later, after scrounging on the fringes of society, Syrian lied about his age to join the military. His natural aptitude for firearms, specifically pistols, earned him a high rank for someone his “age”, which was actually two years higher than anyone knew. Being a sixteen year old in a position of military power quickly got to Syrian’s head, and he was demoted shortly after. After his demotion, Syrian started to work his way back up from the bottom of the barrel once more. His first year in service didn’t see much combat, but the second year of his military career was quickly hurled into turmoil when a large war broke out in the southern reaches of Syrian’s home country.
The Four Years War was gruesome, and traumatic for many soldiers. Syrian’s garrison was sent to the front lines, and many men that Syrian had become very close friends with died before his eyes. Syrian did his best to shut down emotions on the field of battle, especially after he was almost killed because of them. During the war, Syrian’s view on the world became very cynical. Seeing the world in this light helped him shut down on the field of battle, and kill men without remorse. It was during this time that Syrian met a fellow soldier from a different platoon, a women named Helcine.
They met each other in the middle of a battlefield, while taking cover from a sniper. She was wounded, but safe for the moment. Syrian noticed the rifle she carried, and assumed she was a sniper herself. After bandaging her up (all soldiers were “field medics”, seeing as how there were no true medics on either side), Syrian took a crash course from her in sniping…
“Do you see him?”
“I see a glint of sunlight on the third story,” Syrian replied.
“That’s him, smartass,” Helcine hissed.
“You just had to get stuck with the one slinger with an attitude.”
Syrian looked down the scope again. The glint had changed angles. It was definitely him. “So how do I do this? Do I just wait for an opening, or…”
“Aim for the glint, that’s his scope. You’ll hit him. Breath out as you focus, and pull the trigger while you do so,” Helcine cut him off.
“Is it really that easy?”
“Just take the damn shot.”
Syrian smirked. He’d never met another soldier who’d put up with his remarks in the middle of a battlefield. He focused in on the sniper. “Breath out,” he thought. His finger twitched as it grazed the trigger. “Take the shot,” his thoughts begged. Syrian slowly exhaled. Then the glint moved.
Three shot rang through the air as the ground around Syrian was pelted with bullets, sending dirt flying everywhere.
“Shit!” Syrian shouted as he ducked back under cover, “How the hell did he see me?!”
“Idiot! You took too long lining up the shot! Now he knows where we are,” Helcine explained.
“Well, now what do we do?”
“Nothing?!” Syrian shouted. Another shot rang through the air, throwing clumps of dry dirt into Syrian and Helcine’s faces.
“He’s got our position. We try anything and we’re dead.”
“Great,” Syrian groaned.
“Relax. At least you’re not shot,” Helcine complained, rubbing the bandage on her leg.
“True, and I’ve got some attractive company.”
Helcine smiled at the joke.
Suddenly, a horn called out. It was Syrian and Helcine’s allies, signaling a retreat.
“…Is that what I think it was?” Syrian asked.
“Shit! We’re pinned down! There’s no way we’ll get out of here without being captured,” Helcine said.
“If they decide to capture us.”
The two of them sat in silence while the sounds of battle raged around them. It was clear one side was winning. Syrian had to do something, or they weren’t making it out of here alive. He did what he usually did: stopped thinking about the future. Focus on the present. The thought hit him harder than any bullet could. That sniper was on the third floor of a building already falling apart. Firearm supplies were casually strewn about on the first floor, including the one thing every bullet needed: black powder. Syrian got into a crouched position, ready to sprint without a moments notice.
“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?” Helcine asked.
“Tell you what, if we make it out of here alive, you’ll owe me one, and not on the battlefield,” Syrian said. He then kissed Helcine passionately, taking in the last touch of a woman he may ever feel.
“What the hell does that mea-Hey!” Helcine stopped herself mid-sentence as Syrian sprinted around the corner and zig-zagged his way towards the sniper’s position.
Thousands of thoughts swirled around Syrian’s mind. “What a fucking terrible idea” was the most predominant one. Bullets swirled around him. Suddenly, the firing stopped.
“He’s reloading!” Helcine called out from behind cover.
Syrian made a final sprint around a corner thirty feet from the sniper’s perch. “Out of sight, out of mind,” Syrian muttered to himself as he pulled out his revolver, took aim, and fired a perfect shot into the massive supply of gunpowder sitting right underneath the sniper’s feet.
The entire building went up in a plume of smoke. Helcine quickly hobbled out of cover to see Syrian walking away from the wreckage, one revolver held in his left hand, still smoking from the one gunshot the slinger had to make.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Syrian said, taking Helcine’s arm over his shoulder, “the enemy should be advancing past this position soon. We need to get back to base.”
“You’re crazy, you know that, right?” Helcine asked.
“Oh yeah, but you’re the one who owes a crazy guy a good time.”
“I never agreed to anything!”
…Syrian and Helcine seemed made for each other. The two began working together on the field, destroying any target that got in their way. This quickly paved the way for the pair to start a relationship, and they became inseparable. Helcine resigned from military service after Syrian expressed severe concerns about her well-being after a mission saw her wounded in the name of service once again. She was honorably discharged only after Syrian promised her that he would not renew his four-year contract with the military. The two spent two and a half years together, living in true harmony with each other now that Syrian was pulled from the front lines of combat. They married shortly after Syrian was able to live at home with Helcine while continuing to service the military base nearby.
Unfortunately, their happiness was not to last. Syrian was out one night, performing some late night firearm maintenance for his garrison, when he came home to find his newly-wed wife dead, shot in the heart by an unknown assailant. The house had been ransacked, and officials stated that it was a robbery. Syrian assumed as much as well, but took the news poorly. He fully understood there was nothing he could do, but that didn’t stop the anger and pain he felt.
Syrian proceeded to operate outside of the law, hunting information about who killed his wife. Eventually, he found the criminal, a lone elf who was hooked on a variety of drugs. The man attacked Syrian the second he saw him, but a gun quickly calmed the addict down. Syrian shot the man in cold blood, and did nothing to cover up his crime. Officials found him standing over the body in the morning, and arrested him. Due to his military ties, he was released, but was severely reprimanded, and a personal investigation into Syrian’s upbringing was launched. Things proceeded to decline for Syrian, when information about his birthdate was found.
Discovery of Syrian’s age occurred approximately five years after he joined the military, and after a very strict court martial, Syrian was stripped of any and all medals and commendations he received, and he was dishonorably discharged. The young gunslinger was an outcast once more, thrown aside by his own government over a small issue about his age. Syrian never fully recovered from his discharge. He argued that his commendations and accomplishments should be enough to convince his superiors of his competence, but the response was “military has protocol”. After gathering his belongings, Syrian made his way out into the world as a freelancer, taking jobs as a gun for hire. Most of his coin was spent on alcohol and cheap inns, but it was a living that allowed Syrian to forget about his time in the military. He continued roaming the realm until he was introduced to a rather mysterious hooded man, who had “The perfect job for him…”