Story The sad ballad of a 25 year old Nobody, given a second chance - Chapter 1

The Cloak

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
Roleplay Type(s)
This is a work of fiction. Thanks for reading if you do.

(TW: Some dark thoughts in this. Kind of just let this one flow, so don't hate me too much for it.)

A simple child, born and raised to believe he was meant to be something in life. Something worthwhile. Having been raised in a low-end neighborhood, Tyler Naed learned quickly to keep his head down to avoid weird glances. With barely C average grades, Tyler slowly realized that everything he had grown to believe was wrong. He was no one. A nobody. So many people passed him daily that they paid no mind to him, even when he struggled. His existence was nothing but a blip on a timeline far greater than him and far beyond his control. Struggling to keep his own mind in check, he continued to wander and daydream, wanting to be so much more than he actually was. It killed him inside that everything he was raised to believe was so wrong.

There was no real love, only pain and those who took his good intentions and used them for their own selfish and terrible things. So many friends lost, so much love given but never returned. So many people who would soon abandon him, leaving him with the devastation of his own thoughts. He had to see the world for what it truly was: a college dropout skating by on the bare minimum in terms of income, in an economy and a country that seemed to simply hate him just for existing. Certain people hated him for existing and for his beliefs. His life was filled with people whom he thought he loved and respected, only for them to leave him when he was at his lowest point. The only substantial, productive use of his life was his relentless training in combat and weapons. From a young age, he found solace in video games or at the range, where people taught him everything he needed to know about weapons and how to use them.

His life was a ballad strung out and hidden behind people with "good intentions" and horrifying experiences. His existence was nothing more than a crappy song written by a sub-par musician with a garbage intro and a terrible guitarist with a drummer who couldn't stay on rhythm. His life passed by so fast that he barely realized when his "friends" stole the best of him and crushed it to pieces. His life was nothing but a short train fast approaching the end of the line.

Awaking in his bed, Tyler turned to see nothing beside him but sheets, pillows, and the firearm he purchased years ago. The ones he loved had left him, making him feel guilty as though he had done something to encourage their departure. He sighed as he rose, seeing that, yet again, he needed to go to work—a thankless job at a dead-end gig for a company that truly gave no thought to him. He checked his phone for notifications. Yet again, nothing. Just spam emails and random memes from people he considered "friends," who were really nothing more than acquaintances he continued to lie to himself about. His life was nothing like he had hoped. His dreams, once again, meant nothing. His morning was just another drag off the cigarette of death—a slow march towards the end.

After his shower and pointless daily duties, he played on his augmented reality headset for an hour. Another meaningless first-person shooter. Years of training had taught him to quickly and effectively reload his firearms and seamlessly transition from one weapon to another. He moved swiftly from room to room in his small, dead-end apartment, deleting hostiles as quickly as they spawned. After setting a new personal record, he left for work. An overnight job where people fake-smiled at him as much as he fake-smiled at them. He was a useless man, dragged through life by nothing but a tight leash and an overwhelming urge to drive head-on into traffic and end his meaningless existence. Another cog in a useless machine that crushed him at every turn. Regardless of the little money he earned, most of it was lost to a thankless government and a retirement he would likely never live to see.

At work, another useless promotion awaited him. His lack of feeling and knowledge of the field had granted him a promotion to Assistant Manager of the Customer Service department. He realized this would mean even less time for himself. Less time for the fantasy worlds he escaped to. Another joy stripped from his life. If his exes could see him now, they would be happy. Their meaningless attempts at pretending to love him had only led to his downfall the moment they ended things. His pointless life, once again, meant nothing.

That night, unknown to him, was his last night in this meaningless life. A God, whom he didn't even believe in, was weaving his ballad anew, changing the instruments and turning it from a slow, depressing tune to a fast-paced rock song, quickly approaching its end. His night was like all others, surrounded by customers and employees caught in their own paths, working their own, meaningless ballads. He worked with the few colleagues he respected, guiding them on their nightly tasks.

Assuming his position as the person in charge of the shift, he greeted the few people he respected and cared for in the world—the people who answered to him and looked to him for guidance. This small team of rag-tag individuals from all over the country were just trying to survive. They gathered their gear and reported to the posts he assigned them. It was something he would later realize would change nothing for the oncoming event. These were the same people with whom he had spent the previous day drinking and singing at the bar. Acquaintances whom he believed might eventually be friends. He greeted them and sent them on their way to perform their daily duties and protect the establishment that had hired them for that purpose.
What was shaping up to be an unusually tame night, with the parking lot less than half-full and the people inside living their own lives, paying no mind to the environment around them or the people at the doors who greeted them upon entry. His team was spread out throughout the building, strategically placed to assist customers if they ran into trouble or began causing issues.

An unusually parked vehicle near the front of the establishment caught his eye. A customer? No, they had been idling for quite a while. And they were parked legally. It seemed like just another vehicle in a half-full parking lot, with people moving around it, paying no mind. But something ate at the back of Tyler's mind. Something was off with this vehicle, and he knew it. He picked up the phone and called Security, who were quickly watching the same van he was. Planning a response and preparing to check on it, they quickly realized they were too late—a chain of events was now in motion that would not be easily stopped.

Then, the moment arrived. A group of men clad in black stormed through the front door. Their movements were swift, and their actions devastating to those whose only duty was to try and protect others, armed with nothing more than radios. The few people at the door were quickly removed from this life as though their existence meant nothing. The attackers moved with precision, wearing all black and masks to hide their identities. Anyone who stood or looked at them for too long was quickly dispatched or wounded and left lying on the cold carpet.

Tyler quickly realized how pointless his life had been up to that point and decided to do something meaningful. Instead of being a useless cog, he sped into overdrive. Years of training with firearms, which once seemed pointless, now came to fruition. The end of his ballad was rapidly approaching, overtoned with darkness and terror. Knowing his workplace prohibited firearms, he moved quickly to handle one of the stragglers and secure their weapon. Now armed, he keyed up his radio. His message was short but meaningful. "This is Tyler. I know it was my job to protect you. In that manner, I have failed, and I am sorry. I hope you all know that, regardless of how this ends, I truly respect every one of you and appreciate the years I have worked with you all. I hope you are all able to move on from this. Now I'm going to do what needs to be done and try to stop these men from killing us all. Thank you for working with me and helping me to make this a better place. Tyler out."

He raised the rifle he had secured and charged at the men clad in black. Moving with precision and a speed he never thought possible, he engaged them. His actions were quick and his aim was true as he fought desperately to protect the few people who mattered to him. In the end, none of it mattered.

With the last shooter down and incapacitated, Tyler moved to secure the ringleader, who was now trying to steady himself to stop Tyler from winning. Without hesitation, Tyler ended his opponent's life. His actions were reminiscent of a scene from a low-budget first-person shooter, bringing into question his mental stability. Though it was something he would never get to explain, for while he wanted to live, his ballad had chosen otherwise. Realizing he had been wounded, he lowered his weapon to check his injuries.

Without warning, a shot rang out from behind him. A tactical team of officers, not knowing who was good and who was bad, had fired. A single pain shot through him, and his ballad turned to a soft musical tune as he fell, staring up at the ceiling of the place he hated the most. Realizing their mistake, a team quickly tried to render aid as he watched, slowly fading to black. His ballad gently came to an end on the carpeted floor in the middle of a place he never trusted and never believed in.

After a short time, a new ballad began to play in his head as he slowly awoke. A new song, with a new artist and a new band, weaving through his skull and out into the open field around him. He was staring up at the night sky. He sat up, quickly realizing all of his injuries were gone, the pain completely removed from his body. Standing before him was a figure clad in white, whose pale skin was highlighted in contrast against the night sky. They were looking off in the distance, smiling.

"Hello, Tyler," they said, turning their head to him.

"Um, hi?" he responded.

"Your bravery and courage have led us to believe you deserve a second chance, in a different time and a different place. This world is nothing like the one you came from. Its people are much different from the ones you knew," the figure said.

"A different place? What do you mean?" Tyler asked, looking around. While it felt and looked like a forest, it was different. It was nowhere near the ones around his home or town. A small light flickered in the distance, unlike the light pollution of the small town he worked in. In fact, the sky was full of stars, with no light pollution to be found.

"Ah, I see now," Tyler said, looking back at the figure, not realizing they had crouched in front of him.

"Tyler, I need a favor. The people of this world are in danger. Their ballad is quickly approaching an end. However, I believe you have the potential to change that. The people of my world need someone to help them stop their horrifying end. Are you willing to help?" the figure asked gently.

"Do I really have a choice?" Tyler said, smirking.
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