1 To a New World
The night was cold. The winds howled a mournful tune, their touch icy and speckled with snow. Overcast clouds had gathered above, blotting out the sun in shades of somber grey and black. A quiet night, depressing, even.
But Renard held on to his smile, even though it was hard. He didn't want anyone passing by to look at a frowning face. The day was dreary enough already. If anything, he'd want to make someone's day brighter with a smile, not darker.
Earlier in the day, he'd lost in the most important national fencing tournament of the year. It had been his last chance to win, his last year in high school, but he'd lost. It was in the finals, too. Everyone had been watching. He could feel his teammates cheering him on. He could hold all the hopes that his friends and coach had put into him, but it wasn't enough.
Even then, though, when the buzzer rung time and Renard was left a point shy of victory, he had smiled. He had stood tall and shook hands with his opponent, because he knew he had lost fair and square – there wasn't anything to be bitter about. Though he was disappointed in himself, he still admired his opponent's grace, the years and years of hard work they had spent to challenge Renard .
But despite knowing all that, Renard was still human. That loss still crushed him – years and years and years he'd trained and pushed himself, and it felt like all of that build up, all of the shed tears and sweat, had been useless. He needed a breather, something quiet and private to let him unwind. That's why he was outside in the height of winter, near the stroke of midnight, when the streets held a calming quiet to them.
A scream broke that calm quiet, shattered it with all the delicacy of a raging bull amidst fine china. The anguished voice cut through the air, rising above the whistling wind, and Renard didn't think twice before deciding to sprint towards it.
It had been close. He couldn't tell whether it had been a woman or a man's voice, but fear was universal, and that voice was drenched in it. The scream led him to an alleyway where he expected some awful scene, but instead, he found something strange.
A glowing light: spherical and peppered with white like a snow globe. It floated beside a few snow-topped trash cans, right where the alleyway was darkest. Renard could have sworn the scream had come from here, but the only thing out of place here was that orb.
But despite how incredible it was to see a magically floating ball of light, Renard had something more important to do: someone was in danger, and he had to do something. But as he tried to turn and leave, he found that he couldn't.
Or more precisely, he was being sucked in, towards that orb. He dug his feet in the snow, but he couldn't get enough resistance. His boots marked out two trails as he slid backwards. Panic struck him, and he reacted with instinct, getting on the ground and trying to grab onto anything to hold him still, but there was only snow, soft and slippery.
It didn't take long before he could feel the orb's light behind him, warm, and, strangely, comforting. It forced him to feel at peace and relaxed him. He stopped struggling and fell backwards into the orb, his body distorting as it fluxed into that small point in space.
Throughout the whole strange experience, never once had he looked back. Even as his vision blurred and blackened, he could only think about the person in need he was leaving behind.
[Finally, a suitable host has been found. All the requirements are in place. System initializing.]