"You had to be brave, little one..."
Whitmore University, Citadel City, NY (1:13 pm)
Professor Nicholas Wilde stood before a group of fertile young minds in his psychology class. Some eagerly soaked up every word whilst others stared blankly ahead, eagerly awaiting to leave the lecture hall. Professor Wilde was a tall, lean man with dark skin, a clean shaven head and glasses straddling the bridge of his nose.
"What is love?" Nicholas asked the class, leaning against his desk, arms crossed.
"Recognizing the completion of yourself through a shared bond with another," answered an African-American male from the front row as he fidgeted with a pen.
"That sounds great, right? But what about love for our parents versus love for our partners or offspring?"
The young man thought about it, but had to response for the professor.
"Chemically they're no different. So do our parents complete us, or our partners, or our offspring?" Nicholas continued, addressing the entire room. "So, what is the nature of love?"
"What is the meaning of this conversation, professor?" A Caucasian man asked from the back row, left side. "Most of us don't have kids, and we change partners like we change underwear," he said, smiling with amusement. Laughter erupted from the class and Nicholas grinned with them.
"Aright, alright. My wife gave birth to a baby boy last week, so I've had this subject on the brain and it helped me realize my definition of love. To care about another person more than you care about yourself."
"Most of these guys care more about getting laid than they care about themselves, professor," a young woman said from the front row, getting even more of a response from the crowd. Nicholas shook his head, feeling a bit awkward and put off by the direction the conversation had taken.
"Okay, and with that - it's back to the regularly scheduled curriculum," Nicholas announced loudly, pushing off the edge of his desk as the class settled again.
"You had to be strong..."
Whitmore University, Citadel City, NY (4:27 pm)
Rain pounded the Whitmore campus, pattering against the roof of the lecture hall as Nicholas worked late at his desk. He had hoped that by getting ahead of his work, he could spend more time with his wife and newborn throughout the coming months. As he graded a stack of psyche papers, he gave a quick glance of his watch. As he noted the time was nearing 4:30 pm, a loud crack of thunder peeled across the skies above Citadel City. Returning his focus to the student essays, he noticed a dark silhouette standing in the doorway of the lecture hall. He stood up, removing his glasses as he examined the figure with perplexed concern.
The man carried several weapons including two swords and a large firearm across his back. He was clad in strange, black and yellow combat armor with a white mask that would give anyone pause for concern. Both men held an agonizing silence that seemed to stretch itself over the dull thumping of Nicholas's heartbeat. He mustered up his courage and composure, trying to act normal despite the bizarre circumstances.
"Can I hep you, sir?" He asked nervously.
The man remained silent, reached over his shoulder to calmly take gun in hand.
"If it's about what I saw, I swear to god, I won't say anything. I have a little baby boy now, and nothing means more to me."
The armored stranger readied his weapon at shoulder height and took aim through the scope.
Nicholas drew a deep, anxious breath. His only thoughts were of his family, and how much he wanted to be with them in this moment.
"Please man. You don't have to do this," he pleaded one last time.
The man blinked once, releasing a breath and gently squeezed the trigger as another crack of thunder peeled across the Citadel sky...
"Because they took everything from you."