Separated Series

Separated but not Apart - Domino Effect - Red - Nova

'And so the time has come, it's here
The silence ends, a change is near

You wait in the palid slivered sky
Come into the pantheon

Welcome to the universe
Welcome to the universe'

Welcome to the Universe, 30 Seconds to Mars

Prologue: How Could We Have Known?

July 13 2006

A gentle wind blew through the trees on that cool spring day. The three kids stood at the wood's entrance, a mix of excitement and fear building in them.

"Come on Cody," Zack said to his brother as they were entering the woods.

"I don't know, what if we get lost?" he nervously replied.

"If you guys don't do it now, you won't get another chance," the third one said at the already several feet into the maze of trees

"Yea, Justin is right. With us moving to the Tipton tomorrow, we have to explore these woods at least once," Zack said, hoping to finally get his brother to do take a chance and have fun.

"Besides Cody, what's the worst that could happen?" Justin added.

A thousand different scenarios went though Cody's twelve year old mind. They could get lost, a wolf could eat them, or they could drown in quick sand. True, most of those fears were unlikely to come true, but it could happen. With his two friends already going further into the forest, Cody realized he was alone, so quickly ran to catch up to them.

The raging sun of summer was above them, but beneath the many massive trees, the blue sky could hardly be seen. Even though it was the middle of July, and one of the hottest days of the summer, beneath the shade of the trees, it almost seemed cool. Once Cody caught up with his friends, he was constantly gazing around, looking for the impending doom he just knew was coming.

"Dude, calm down. This is just the forest behind grandpa's house."

"Yea, what do you think gonna happen? The big bad wolf comes and eats us all?" Justin added.

"It could happen," Cody nervously said, looking down at the ground.

After shrugging off Cody's fears, the three of them continued through the woods, fascinated by the displays of nature. After walking for about 10 minuets, they came to a clearing in the woods. While there weren't as many trees in that spot, the massive branches around them still provided them with shade. Zack sat down on the trunk of a recently fallen tree. Justin came and sat down beside him. "I can't believe you guys are actually moving. It feels like I just met you," Justin said brushing his long black hair out of his face

"It's been 10 months since we came here," Cody said sitting on the ground beside them. It seemed so much had changed since they came to this new city not knowing anyone. Their mom had finally found a decent job singing at a local bar at nights, while staying at her parents' house. At the start of the school year, they had entered it alone, but over the months they finally made some friends.

"Why do parents have to move so often," Justin said, dishearten at knowing he was about to lose his two best friends.

"Yeah, we didn't do anything to deserve this. Adults are stupid," the older twin said.

As much as Cody tried respecting the authority of elders, even he had to agree with that. After all, they didn't get a say in where they went or who they stayed with. Instead, they were just dragged along, ripped away from any friends they were starting to make. "Too bad we can't do anything to stop it," he said.

The sound of a twig snapping caught everyone's attention away from the discussion of the twins moving. The trio looked and saw a creature move a few feet into the woods. While they tried to figure out what it was, the fact that it was cloaked in the bushes made it impossible to identify.

"You think we should run?" Cody suggested.

"We can fight whatever it is," Zack said as he picked up a stick, and Justin did the same. More rattling was heard and Zack and Justin prepared to battle whatever it was. Cody, not to be the coward, picked up a stick too and prepared to help his friends.

The creature emerged from the bushes, the three taking a step back in shock, trying to figure out what it wanted. It looked around, curiously, its grey ears perking up every few seconds at sounds in the distance. "It's a wolf," Zack finally said, causing the animal to notice them. Wagging its grey tail eagerly, it ran up to Zack, before sniffing him thoroughly.

"It's going to eat us," Cody said backing away slowly.

"Don't be afraid, Cody," Zack said petting it gently on the head.

"Yea, he's cute," Justin said walking up to it and running his hand along the wolf's furry side.

The creature jumped up and placed its upper feet on Zack's chest. "Hello boy," he said smiling. The wolf barked, knocking Zack onto his back. His two friends laughed at the wolf backed up a little bit and barked again.

"I think he wants to play," Cody said.

The animal barked again running around in a small circle, seeming to confirm Cody's suspicion. The wolf took a few steps toward the trees and looked back at the group.

"Come on, let's follow him," Justin suggested and they did. The wolf would run a few steps and look back at the friends to make sure they were still following. Due to the wolf's small size, it was able to navigate under and around plants much easier than the humans, but he would always patiently wait for the people to catch up.

"I wonder what he's leading us too," Cody said.

"Only one way to find out," his brother replied. As they went deeper into the woods, the forest got thicker with more bushes and branches for the group to avoid. The trio had several small scratches from sticks hanging down that they didn't notice. While there was some pain, it was nothing a bandage couldn't fix when they got back, so their curiosity pushed away any thoughts of turning back.

The wolf became more excited as they traveled further through the forest. His barks became louder and more frequent. "You think we're getting close?" Justin asked.

"It sounds like it," Zack said.

The wolf finally stopped moving and used his nose to point down at an object. When the trio caught up to him, they were shocked to see a person buried under several branches. He looked to be teenager with short brown hair was sprinkled with red specks.

"We have to get him out," Cody said. The three began moving the branches as fast as they could, but the after removing several, they found his chest was pinned to the ground by a limb far too heavy for the boys. A river of blood flowed out along the ground, obviously from his injuries.

"We need to get help," Justin said as the three of them finally moved all but the heaviest limb.

"I don't think we have time though," Zack said, "It looks like he could die soon. Besides, we're so deep in the woods, we wouldn't know how to get back here."

"Then what do we do?" Cody asked.

"We just have to get him out of here!"

Cody began thinking of a plan, knowing that raw strength would take to too long to free the stranger. The three couldn't even budge it, and with it planted on the stranger's chest, they dind't have much time. "I have an idea," the younger twin said. The other two looked toward him, waiting for his words of wisdom. "If we can break the branch, we can get it off him."

"Yea, but how do we do that?" Zack asked.

"You two stand on opposite ends of it and jump. If we can cause it to crack, we should be able to pull it apart. I just hope it won't hurt him any worse," Cody said.

"Well it's better than doing nothing," Zack said and he and Justin did as they were told and began jumping. After a few seconds to time their jumps, they heard the wood crack.

"Now we just have to pull it apart," Cody said, glad to see his plan work. As the heavy piece of wood began to come apart, the wolf began helping by clawing and gnawing at the crack to separate it. After several minutes of hard work, the stranger was free, but still unconscious.

"Now what do we do?" Justin asked.

The wolf crouched beside the stranger and began licking his face, causing him to stir.

"Not now Twilight," the stranger said as he slowly opened his eyes. An excited look came across the dog, as the stranger looked around at his surroundings.

"You're awake," Cody said.

The stranger started to sit up, but his injuries quickly forced him back to the ground. "They got me worse than I thought. Thanks for brining help Twilight, and thank you for helping me," he said looking to the group.

"Are you alright?" Zack asked rapidly.

"No, I was caught off guard by them. I can't stay here much longer. My friends, thank you for your help." He was breathing hard, and his body started becoming transparent.

"What happened to you?" Cody asked.

"Nightwings," was the last thing he said before his body fading into nothing. Twilight backed up with his head down. He sniffed the ground where the stranger was.

"What should we do?" Justin asked.

"We need to tell Mom about this," Cody said.

"You really think she'd believe us though? After all, this is so unbelievable I'm not even sure if it happened."

"Yeah, it does sound like something you two would make up."

The three decided that they would keep the events of the day their secret. Zack and Cody moved to the Tipton that weekend, and Justin continued with life as normal without the twins. Before long, they weren't even sure if it was real. It seemed more like a dream than anything. After all, while it was rare, they did occasionally share the same dream. Even so, it seemed so strange that it had to be more than a dream.

February 14th 2010 9:45 AM

"I can't believe we forgot about something so important," Zack said after he and Cody told them the story from their childhood, only making the connection once they entered this strange realm.

"Well you can't really blame yourselves, after all you have been through it's easy to push that to the side," Bailey said.

"Yeah, but not any longer," Cody said taking a step forward into the strange land, unsure of what they would find, but they knew they didn't have much time if they were to stop the Nightwings.

A/N: Now that you've seen a glimpse of the past, let's move back to the present...