echotaker: (Heaven hear me.)

Here we go again.

Just another trip to hell and back.

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Created on 2012-05-09 05:02:51 (#1618092), last updated 2012-09-07 (263 weeks ago)

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Name:Michael Andrews, AKA "Night Arrow"
Birthdate:Nov 11
Name: Michael Andrews
Sex: Male
Age: 27/locked
Mental Age: 37

Physical Appearance: Michael stands at roughly five foot elevent with green eyes and dusty-chesnut brown hair. He's always got a touch of stubble or a slight mustache going on and probably dreams about someday having the guts to get a goatee or a soul patch. He's muscular in a compact way, not letting his muscles balloon out. He's much more about remaining smaller and more agile, lean and efficient than about looking like a body-builder. He has a relaxed look to him, often sporting a lopsided grin and squinting his eyes to try to seem a little tougher to most due to his looks. He's the guy next door.

Rather handsome though he doesn't see it; he takes good care of his hygiene thanks to his job leaving him smelling like a dumpster after every shift. Even if he can't clean up his home, he cleans himself well. He's a chronic nail-biter and often bites them until they bleed or get hangnails. He also sometimes bites his toenails because he's out of hangnails to play with. If caught biting his own toenails, the response is to thwack him with a newspaper.

Michael's naked body is riddled with scarring from Echo attacks. They look like burn scars from things that should have left lacerations, such as claw-pattern or weapon-pattern burns. Many Echoes sprout claws or metallic edges to whip forward in an attack, though they pass through flesh, leaving burns behind. Some of Michael's worst scars actually give him partial PTSD just upon seeing them so he tries to keep himself covered all the time and showers with his eyes closed completely.

Over his heart there is a sun-shaped scar from what seems to be gunshot wound. It is the entry point of the spectral arrow that silenced his heart and began his career as a Night Arrow. It is extremely sensitive to the touch and should he get an injury there it takes longer to heal and hurts for hours.

History: As a child, Michael was essentially well-behaved. Listened to his teachers, goofed off and did stupid things with his friends outside of school but nothing big. He wasn't a problem child by any means. It was when he grew older and began to do more and more to try to get the same level of attention as those he felt his mother and father tended to that the trouble began. His grades plummeted and his parents were informed that unless he had direction in life he wouldn't get very far.

After the death of his best friend to suicide, Michael stopped believing in God. Too many questions arose and his church "family" was not supportive when they learned of the manner in which his friend had died. Michael's heart began to harden. He eventually told his parents he would be dropping out of school and moving out despite being only 16. On the street, he became a busker, strumming little tunes for money day in and day out and learning the tricks he needed to survive, despite ending up back home time and time again when times got too tough.

In his twenties, he began to volunteer at a soup-kitchen after realizing he wasn't the only one suffering and that maybe, even without a church or things like that, he could help make a bit of a difference. Michael was never a very big believer in things like God or Buddha or things like that, often shunning such beliefs and the believers to boot as simply being cut-and-paste. The longer he worked in the soup kitchen, the more of "real life" he witnessed.

Having grown up in the middle-upper-class area of his city, surrounded by green lawns and beautiful trees as well as nice, unassuming people, Michael's life in the downtown area made him realize people weren't as kind as he thought. He witnessed crime after crime, the poor and homeless dying over and over, and due to his own inability to find work other than repetitive tasks that never seemed to help anyone, he ended up giving up on his life.

Even when he was finally forcibly re-enrolled in school by his father, he once again began failing his courses, and was even threatened with being kicked out of his home by his father. His mother, however, always vouched for him and helped him out with money the family saved but had no need to keep. They were very well off and so Michael never went without.

His parents, well-off father in the loan-shark business, and his hard-working mother, a respected member of the church, often left him feeling at odds with the world because no matter where he looked, crime and religion seemed to run hand in hand. One taking and killing, thus leaving for the other to tend to in death. The poor died. The rich lived. Justice burned.

The rich, god-fearing, folk were well off but the people who truly needed a saviour were left with nothing. Busking and begging on the street got them no easy seat in heaven, merely a sneer or a gob of spit. It sickened him.

Time and again he saw this as his mother bowed in prayer and time and again he saw her tears as she was disappointed. How could she continue to pray to a god that wasn't real? How could she continue to hope for a world beyond hope? It maddened him to think that she would pray when she had the money she did. Why not just donate everything they had if they so loved the world? Because they didn't, he decided.

Finally, it mounted to a head when his mother contracted an illness and refused to take medication because she was god-fearing and knew if he wanted her to live, she would live. Michael hated her for it. She was throwing her life to a storybook hero and dying before his eyes. He begged his father to convince her to take an alternate path as he knew his father didn't care much for gods or demons, but his father could do nothing to convince her. Father and son watched helplessly as, after a month of sickness, Michael's mother passed away while his father was reduced to praying to the God she loved so dearly.

And even as she lay there dying, she continued to thank Him for his "many blessings."

It made Michael sick. His father wasn't that great a human being, being a loan-shark with plenty of money to line his wallet. His father was considered a monster by many... and while he may not have wanted his father to die, knowing he was going to continue to take people's money when they didn't have it to give didn't make him appreciate it was his mother on her death bed.

That was when he was twenty-two years old. Back to volunteering he went, rage in his stomach building with each mugging and broken life he met. Finally, it all came to a head when he was nearly hit by a car simply for crossing a touch too slowly at the light. The world had to change. He would be the one to do it. Somehow.

Michael began pouring over the martial arts and attending as many lessons as he could using his father's money and the excuse "he was interested in improving his physical well-being" to quell any worries. His father, who was not short on cash, allowed it with the hope it would "ignite the flame of life" in his son, who seemed to have lost his way for so long.

He signed him up to everything, including a membership to a "free-runners' gym" which gave lessons on the art of Parkour, or Free Running, which slowly but surely gave Michael the ability to navigate his own house, scaling and running along the top and over the balcony with ease, then other houses' rooftops, then taller buildings, eventually climbing into death-defying heights and making it out in one piece, once breaking an arm, five ribs and his leg in a horrible fall. He was not deterred, though his father warned him it would be the first and only mistake he made doing such things, cutting off his membership to the free runners'... but Michael was skilled enough at that point to know how to find others who would practice elsewhere.

At the age of twenty-five, he ventured out into the street, identity protected only by a ski-mask, which he kept in his pants pocket. The first crime he came up against was a man who was actually tailing Michael for a while before springing on him. He managed to take him down rather easily until the mugger pulled a gun, shooting him in the shoulder. It was beginner's luck that it hadn't been in the neck. Michael had kicked him firmly in the head, stunning him, then locking him until he passed out from lack of breath.

Despite the agony in his shoulder, the adrenaline rush he got from taking out a scumbag left him wanting more. A hospital visit and some recovery time later and Michael returned to doing what he'd begun to love.

In the months that followed, more and more muggers, thieves and other small-time crooks would be found tied up for the police and Michael would spend more and more money on rope, his father growing more and more suspicious considering the money his son made from busking wouldn't account for it all.

Finally, the newspapers began reporting his deeds, both to Michael's delight and somewhat to his chagrin as the reports would sometimes come with eyewitness testimonial about "an average looking short guy with a stupid ski-mask."

It was clear to him that he needed a better angle.

It came to him very clearly one night at the age of twenty-seven, while in the midst of a fight with a group of four who were quite skilled themselves. Michael had been on his way home and had passed the graveyard, only to see four men hassling the groundskeeper there for fun. He took them all on without a moment to think about it. At one point, the fight ended up too close to a collection of graves, where Michael was knocked off balance and cracked his head against a marble tombstone, leaving him dazed, bleeding out fast and half-dead. The four attackers panicked, fleeing so as not to be arrested. The groundskeeper stated he'd call for help and left Michael laying prone in the field of the silent dead.

Save for one, who was not so silent.

A voice, distorted with echoes, whispered in Michael's ear that it would give Michael the ability to continue his fight, but that it would cost him. A dazed and dying Andrews could think of nothing that he had that the soul would want, thus hastily agreed, feeling nothing more than an icy chill as life returned to his dying body, his injuries gone. In the process, however, he'd lost something important. Very important.

He had lost twenty-five years of his life, now resembling a fifty-two year old man. Next to him stood a twenty-seven year old woman, smiling deviously at him, long, curling black hair shining against her slender, youthful body, naked in the moonlight.

"I haven't felt so alive in a very long time, Michael. I thank you for it."

Michael was flabbergasted. Before he could even ask her how she knew his name, she explained she'd stolen all twenty-seven years of his life, that the information he knew had transferred to her. She knew everything about him. His entire life. Not only that, she had taken his life in its entirety. He was no longer anyone of the living world while she was Michelle Andrews, daughter of the well-off loan-shark Gerald Andrews, and that she had been all of her life.

In a panic, older Michael rushed to his home, only to be threatened at gun point to stay away from Gerald's house and that his story was sick. He fled back to the cemetery where Michelle awaited him, still grinning the same grin as before. He found her perched on the tombstone he'd hit his head on. She smiled as he approached, chuckling that not everything was going well in his life. In anger, he attacked her, only to find himself easily overcome by her power.

It was unnatural.

She then offered him a deal.

She would reverse his aging and give him back his youth if he would work for her, having recognized his skill, but warned him that doing the work she had in mind would be difficult. Upon questioning how difficult, the specter said nothing, only that she would aid him.

He had no choice but to agree, considering the years she'd aged him had left him without the body he'd trained in. With the signing of a contract in his and her blood, he sold his soul to her for as long as she needed it, locking him in his twenty-seven year old body, stopping the aging process altogether. Even his heart seemed to stop beating but she informed him it was merely a spell to silence it so his enemies wouldn't hear him coming. Before he could even ask what kind of enemy would be able to hear a heartbeat, the woman began to chant.

As he watched, black smoke rose up about him, forming a golden arrow that pierced his heart, signifying the death of his current life and rebirth as the servant of the one who now owned him. The entry point of the arrow became a dark blue/black that spread over his entire body, stripping away his clothing and replacing it with a skin tight bodysuit, white lines streaking over it, the arrow on his chest burning red at the tip, the eyes on his mask purest white, a stark contrast. Even so, he couldn't help but find it all too surreal. He looked like some kind of comic book character.

"Is this a joke? I'm not Batman, lady."

"Not here, you're not," Michelle chuckled, "But where I'm from you might as well be, my little Night Arrow. We've been a touch short-handed when it comes to those who believe in justice--true justice, in my world. The dead, you'll find, take a lot more convincing to prevent re-offending."

Essentially, he was to become a Night Arrow, one of many on a special task force working in the Land of the Dead to reign in angry Ghosts and to destroy Echoes.

The dead, it turns out, split into three classes: Spirit, Ghost and Echo.

A Spirit is what is left of you when you die. It retains your memories and all of the emotions you've accumulated throughout your life. The older you are, the more memories, the more judgement weighed upon you. At the same time, the younger you are, the fewer the memories, but at the same time the emotions are much more powerful.

A Ghost is what a Spirit becomes if it realizes it's dead. Ghosts can "live" if you will in the Land of the Dead if they're not ready to move on. They can get jobs in the hundreds of sorting bureaus or, if they're rotten, get sent to prison. A maximum security prison on an isolated island has nothing on the prisons in the Land of the Dead.

Finally, Echoes. Echoes themselves have three classes as well. Firstly, what is an Echo? If a Ghost loses control of its emotions through rage or despair or any number of negative feelings, it has a high chance of becoming a C-Class Echo, a twisted version of what it once was: no mind, only emotion and they mutate based on the memories that brought forth the emotion. They are powerful and when they attack they leave horrible burning scars in their wake, often permanently. Terribly powerful, the Echoes are a Night Arrow's top priority.

Then, there's a B-Class Echo, known as a Spirit-Echo. When A Spirit realizes it's dead, it becomes a Ghost, usually. Sometimes there are people, usually children or highly religious, who cannot handle being dead. Their emotions go out of control in denial, rage, sadness, and they become B-Class Echoes. B-Class Echoes are much stronger than C-Class Echoes and are usually a lot bigger with a more devastated spiritual attack. They can influence emotions of those in close proximity to them based on the emotion that rules their type, such as anger, sadness, etc. Some of them can actually absorb other Ghosts and other Spirits into themselves to grow bigger.

Finally, A-Class Echoes, or Cluster Echoes. When people die together in a group, the collective energy sometimes isn't able to separate properly into a group of Spirits for sorting due to the high level of emotion and memories flitting from Spirit to Spirit. The overall panic and confusion can create not just one Echo, but many, all at once... and then they merge to form a collective Cluster Echo. Cluster Echoes are enormous both in actuality and in their attack strength. They're also capable of affecting the minds of those around them just by existing due to the turmoil they possess. Cluster Echoes form in war, in car accidents like buses exploding, in buildings collapsing, essentially in any place where tens, hundreds or thousands of people die all at once, Cluster Echoes will result.

Working with Michelle, who would later reveal her true name to be Lil'l, has its benefits. Michael Andrews is given free room and board in her world in a decent apartment near his working sector (as the world is divided by sectors and many Night Arrows can cover their sectors with ease) as well as super-human abilities. Nothing overly fancy like flight or wall-crawling. A touch of enhanced strength here, a bit of agility there, and his main attack: the Echo-Taker.

An Echo-Taker is a spectral arrow, used as a finishing attack against weakened Echoes to seal and destroy them. The Echo-Taker can also be used on unruly Ghosts who've escaped from prison to seal them and leave them for authorities to collect.

As for the Land of the Dead? Imagine New York if it covered the entire planet and had been destroyed and rebuilt over a thousand times, with about three times the world's current population. And it's always rush hour. And a Monday. And no one wants to go to work.

That's where Michael Andrews, now "Night Arrow", makes his rounds as he works to earn his life back.

Personality: Michael is a sarcastic, quipping, caring man with a long-suffering demeanor and an inability to sit still. He tries very hard to be seen as someone interesting or even "cool" but is more often than not thought to be lame or even puppy-like in his inability to impress others. The only times he earnestly tries to be serious, he seems to pull a 180, becoming quiet, focused and eager to do what he can in the most effective manner. Michael is unable to look after himself properly, much to Lil'l chagrin. His apartment quickly becomes messy and if you were to leave him something like a puzzle, he would forsake his work to finish it first. Priorities go to anything colourful or interesting. Because of his life in the Land of the Dead affording him with one month every five years to visit the Land of the Living, he is enamoured with nature and in love with all things that shine in the light of the sun. He's the type to stand perfectly still in a rain storm and not come in until he's soaked to the skin. He loves animals but couldn't keep one unless he lived with someone else due to his inability to keep things tidy. He'd be great at walking dogs. He loves swimming and was called a water-baby by his mother until he was well into his twenties, much to his embarrassment. In his wallet he carries a picture of his mother and father, though on the back of his mother's photo there is a simple phrase "SE 01, NEVER FORGET." Sadly, one of the first Spirit-Echoes, or B-Class Echoes that Michael ever had to destroy turned out to be his own mother, unable to cope with her own death. She'd been placed under quarantine by Lil'l's order as a test for him. The ultimate trial for a Night Arrow is being able to separate the living memory from the deceased. He destroyed the Echo but maintains the living memory of his mother, never forgetting the woman she was as opposed to focusing on what she became. This drives him to try his best and inspires him in all he does, even if he doesn't follow her beliefs. She was good to him, as was his father (though it's his father's job that makes him resent him slightly).

He does not enjoy his job. It is exhausting, dangerous, and wears away at him as Echos tend to mess with emotions the closer you get to them. Most Night Arrows die away because they finally cannot handle the pressure of their work anymore and become Echoes themselves. Michael fights onward for his mother's sake and to try to keep Ghosts from becoming Echoes. Unlike many other Night Arrows, he actually talks to the Ghosts fights, often becoming allies with Ghosts and guaranteeing he'll be there if they need someone to talk to because no one wants another Echo to destroy.

Michael's personality has become softer due to his work. When he's allowed his one month in the sunlight of the world of the living, he tends to be happy-go-lucky and extremely odd to those who are world-weary. He'll find a patch of grass and just flop down into it to watch the clouds, even if it's someone's lawn and they don't want him there. He'll do ridiculous acts of kindness, such as climbing trees to save cats. It's easy for him and he just... loves the feeling of being happy and of being out. Because of this, he often gets inside personal bubbles much too quickly, acting familiar when he should be polite.

Life in the land of the dead is dreary and dark. The only happiness one can get is through one's connections. Michael's friends are few and far between down there, aside from Styx, another Night Arrow and a daemon at that. Essentially, it's because of how serious he has to act in the world below that he's so naively innocent in the world above. It's somewhat of an act. He chooses to wear a smile because he's tired of the lack of light and happiness down below when he's finally got time above.

That, and if you only had one month to visit the land of the living, would you really want to spend it moping?

Strengths: Michael's physical prowess comes from years of bettering himself. It is not unrealistic that he can do what he does. Martial arts classes and Parkour training have giving him almost complete control over his physical limits, making him a force to be reckoned with. His mental strengths are in his cunning, his wit and his sarcastic ability to joke despite troubles in his life. He's a bit of a clown, so even though his physical strength is pretty decent, he would never use it in something like a simple fight. He's smart enough to walk away from idiots. His emotional strengths come from years of being a Night Arrow. If his control over his emotions slipped, he would risk Echo-Phasing, which is the end point for all Night Arrows. Because they cannot die, most of them eventually go mad and become the very Echoes they're made to destroy. Michael's emotions are almost always under control and he chooses to be a very positive person despite the rough patches in his life, thus he's very likable to most people.

Weaknesses: Michael is, despite his physical strengths and training, forever clumsy physically. He can't dance, can't strut, and can only sing somewhat decently. He's not romantic (though he's not a douche-bag about love either) and his attempts at flirting are... dismal. He also has a fear of porcelain dolls coming alive and attacking him. His mental weaknesses will always be to children and to others being used, taken advantage of, or hurt. He cannot help but to throw himself into harm's path in order to save others and would be the type to push someone he didn't even know out of the way, taking a car head on for their sake. While he cannot die, his injuries heal at the same pace as a normal human's would, although he's never been cut in half so he's not certain how that would turn out. Mentally, Michael's got a very poor way with words and can't remember names to save his life with Lil'l the demigod's reminders. He often trips over his words and really only becomes more intelligent as he talks about more important things. In every day conversation he's just a kindhearted dummy who tries to keep out of the spotlight while having as much fun as he can. In regards to his emotions, as mentioned before, Michael is under threat of Echo-Phasing should his emotions ever get too far out of his control. This is someone others can see. When his anger rises too high, a strange, blue-coloured, ghost-like gelatin will begin to slowly rise from his body, bubbling up from his skin. It is transparent and ice-cold to the touch. All Echoes resemble this bubbling, blue jelly-like form and should Michael ever fully Echo-Phase, he would be completely lost, an Echo of his former self, and would require immediate termination. THAT SAID Michael isn't prone to fits of temper, despair or even panic. He has his emotions well under control and it would take something Big for that to change.

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