~Graymire, 20 years ago~
A little boy dug through a pile of rubble, stopping only to cough viciously.
"Fiasco? Boy, what do you hope to find here? Everything is gone."
A taller boy, skinny yet toned, ventured to grab the youngers shoulder, only to be swiped at.
"Look you sod! You have nothing left here! That's what you get for practicing at home!"
As the yelling increased, Fiasco's clawing became slower, more filled with sobs and coughs.
"Fiasco..... they are gone."
The digging stopped completely, the coughs and crying now replaced with shallow breaths, a deep shudder taking over him every few moments. Several children had gathered behind the older.
"Tesla, let up on the poor boy, would ya?"
"Yeah man, he is one of the few of us who actually had family to lose."
A raised hand silenced the group, a deep sigh marking Tesla's next try.
Rain had begun to pour, thunder and lightning bringing sickly flashes of green to the world. Tesla knelt beside Fiasco, gently placing his hand on the youngers back.
Flinching at the touch, Fiasco calmed, only to release more silent sobs.
"I....i..i din't do no...no w-wrong. M-m-my su-suppl-supplies were safe."
Tesla shook his head.
"You know this area gets shakes. We showed you the good places to practice."
The sobbing grew in strength again, racking the boys frail frame with heavy tremors.
Tesla pulled Fiasco to him, holding him close.
The group of kids around them stood silently, not sure what to do.
Then a bright flash lit up the destroyed building.
Tesla woke up, feeling around for his clothes in order to get ready for the day. Another day carrying bags of heavy ore, breathing in The Delve knows what, always at the end of someone's boot. He wanted to go back to bed, but he needed to help the others care for the young ones.
After failing to find his only pair of ragged cloth pants, Tesla opened his eyes.
A blank void surrounded him, nothing in sight for however long this place went.
Standing quickly, he also realized his knives were missing, his hands grasping air where he would usually have found cold metal.
"Calm yourself child, there is no threat here."
The voice came from everywhere, which only served to throw Tesla into a greater panic.
"What in The Delve do you want?! Where am I?"
"Interesting question, though not one easily answered. Your people have lost a name for it."
Tesla kept spinning in circles, trying to find the voice's owner.
"Where are you?"
"I am everywhere child, as you look and see void, you in fact see me."
Stopping, Tesla's body sagged, his mind desperately trying to make sense of it all.
"WHat do you want with me?"
"I only wished to save you, you were struck by lightning and are in the process of dying."
The memory flashed back to Tesla.
"What happened to Fiasco?? Is he dead too??"
"No young one, though he will be scarred for life. You both have been spared and you will soon return to your body."
Before the next question could leave him, Tesla felt an overwhelming rush and he was sucked out of the blank place.
"TESLA!! Come on man, do NOT die!"
A young woman knelt over Tesla, her worn, yet beautiful features slowly coming into focus.
This earned him a quick slap, Emily immediately recoiling in shock at her actions.
"It's Syren you jam head."
Pushing himself up, Tesla fought through a wave of nausea that threatened to send him back to..... where had he been? Now that reality was coming back to him, Tesla could only recall being in the presence of a....god?
"Where is Fiasco, please tell me he is ok."
This question made Syren hold her hand over her face.
Looking around, Tesla saw the others crowding around a body.
He pushed his way through to the center of the group, then recoiled in horror at the boy laying before him.
Unconscious from a concoction of drugs that had been gathered nearby, the town medic looked over the boys face with apprehension.
While half of Fiasco's face was black with soot and char, the other had been horribly ravaged. Bone poked out from behind blackened strips of flesh, scars that looked like bolts of lightning spread across any organic material. Wheezing breaths came from a gaping hole in his throat, blood being thrown into the air with each exhale.
"For the last time, get AWAY! I can not do my job with all of you crowding me and I have a difficult job ahead of me as it is."
Tesla gave a cracked whistle, his nerves to shot to make the proper call. The others were able to understand either way, slowly dispersing.
"PLease, sir, will he live?"
The medic gave a weary sigh as he grabbed another tool from his bag.
"I have worked on worse, surprisingly. If left alone, he should live, but he will need a mask to breathe properly."
Tesla had walked home alone, the others already at their main hideout.
He had wracked his brain to remember what he had seen while technically dead, but it all came back as some great being talking to him.
The medic had eventually taken Fiasco to his home, finally stable enough to be moved, but needing much more work.
Knocking at the door and giving the proper code, Tesla gave this news to those still awake.
Syren came to comfort Tesla as he prepared to try and sleep.
"Are you ok? I know it's stupid given what happened, but you seem lost."
Tesla finished taking off his shirt, then laid on his mat, a pile of old clothes.
"I was somewhere after I was struck, I know I was, I just can't bring it back to mind. A being spoke to me there, it was vast and all knowing."
Syren leaned against a nearby post, not comfortable with the subject, but willing to be there for him.
"What, some spirit from the Delve fishin in your head?"
Laughing quietly, Tesla shook his head.
"No, it said something about my people losing something. Yes! My people have lost something and......I was... sent back?"
Those were all he could pull out of the fog, but his understanding of it left him with a feeling of purpose.
"I must lead my people, to find what we lost. It was the Maelstrom yeah? It sent the bolt to give me its blessing!"
Syren grabbed Tesla's shoulders and shook him.
"Are you raving? Do you know how that sounds? I mean, I could believe you, I saw you live through it. You go spoutin this to anyone else, they will throw you in the Delve for sure!"
Tesla only chuckled, his grand vision already taking hold.
"They don't have to listen if they don't wish to, but I tell you, it is my purpose to find what was lost, what the Maelstrom means for us to find! Fiasco will recover, a gift from above, a mercy that otherwise would have taken him from us. Why do you think we were brought together to survive? I am the voice of the Maelstrom and you all will help me in my duty."
"Tesla, listen to yourself. The bolt must have shaken something loose from your head, that's for sure. Please, get some rest, we can talk of this more tomorrow."
After Syren left, Tesla laid on his bed, his feeling of purpose growing stronger in him.
"I will be the Conduit for this world. I will find what was lost and raise us to a new level, even greater than Elysium."