Chapter 11

Chapter 11

The bus ride home is taking twice as long as the ride to get to the forest. I expected them to put me on a bus with everyone else but they didn’t. Instead they sent me on a bus with things taken from the tunnels and the blood bank. The logic was someone needed to supervise the transportation of these assets which are important to an ongoing investigation. Some nonsense they used to send me off alone. Nobody was going to steal stuff from a blood bank they didn’t know about.

This is just another of Elser’s plans. He wants me to sit here, wallowing in self-doubt. He wants me to admit that he was right. But, if we listened to him we might not have found the victims for days or even weeks. Who knows what could have happened to them in that time? I know he has more experience and he’s been at this a lot longer than I have. But the world is different now. Everyone outside the temple has evolved and the Eremites are still stuck in the past. How things used to be done, just doesn’t work anymore. You need to evolve. A stakeout or randomly returning to investigate until you find something else worked great thirty years ago but not now.

They all want me to question if I did right thing, and to some extent it’s probably working. I’ve been staring out this window having a silent conversation with myself the entire bus ride so far. I could have waited for backup. If I had been there we might have taken out the Strigoi a little faster. We could have gone into the tunnels together. That’s it, just wait for backup next time. But, what if Elser is the backup again? Would he be willing to follow me? I doubt it.

“Hey kid, you fucked up big time from what I hear,” the bus driver calls out in deep jovial voice.

“No, I saved a bunch of people,” I shoot back on instinct.

“They said you disobeyed direct orders,” he responds knowing their version of the story already.

I don’t have a response. I know he’s just trying to make conversation but I don’t care to speak right now. Especially not about something I’m already in trouble for. Talking about it won’t change anything and I don’t really care to speak with a bus driver about it. I just spend the rest of the ride home brooding in silence.

“Hey kid, I think you did the right thing saving all those people,” the driver said letting me off the bus once we finally arrived at the temple.

“Thanks,” is all I can reply with as I make my way through the courtyard.

Usually there’s people waiting for us when we return from a successful mission. Refreshments, maybe a meal, medics and all that. I take it they didn’t want me to take part in that celebration tonight. I don’t decide to wait around and see what happens. I just make my way back to my sleeping quarters on the opposite end of the grounds.

Most people live in communal quarters. Two to six people in each one. They share a sleeping space, a bathroom, a kitchen and a common room. I was the only person willing to accept the old worn down bunker in the back so I get to live alone. I don’t have a gas stove like the others. I have to chop wood to cook or boil water to bathe but I enjoy the silence of living alone.

I don’t really care that I’m dirty. I toss the remains of my robes to the side. They’ve been shredded and probably can’t be repaired. That was my last set. Next, I start to remove all of the weapons and equipment I have with me before loosening the straps on my body armor and letting it drop it to the ground with a thud.

Not caring that I’m dirty I lie across my bed and try to sleep. I can only sleep for a few minutes at a time, if that can be called sleep. I keep replaying the same events over and over again. I know I did the right thing, but everyone wants me to doubt myself so much that I’m actually doubting myself. This is ridiculous. I give up on sleep for the night. I’ll just have to face my punishment with groggy eyes. Perhaps they’ll go easy on me because they think I’ve been up regretting my actions.

Instead of sleeping I take the time to disassemble and clean my weapons. I’m not very fast at taking apart the guns but I’m very good at putting them back together. When I bought them, I knew they weren’t in the best condition as I had to get them from a seedy source. One day I hope to buy some new ones. Ones where the pieces aren’t beginning to rust on the inside. Still, these make do. With proper care I’ve been able to make sure I only have the occasional misfire. Luckily, I’ve never had them misfire when it was a do or die situation.

The knife is nothing special, just a standard knife they give all the students. Most abandon them once they decide what their primary weapon will be. They might use magic, a bo staff, bow and arrow, or whatever. Usually it’s something old and outdated. I wish the higher ups in the temple could understand just how far they’ve lagged behind the rest of the world. These weapons were all fine and dandy hundreds of years ago, but the world has changed and they won’t leave the walls to see it.

Of course, the think I’m wrong, they haven’t seen the things I have. I haven’t been outside the temple walls without a supervisor for over five years but in the time that I did get to spend out there, it was nothing like the stories they tell us. Buildings stretching high into the sky, humans and magical creatures walking amongst each other and living while ignoring the existence of the other. They have all the same technology as the humans, maybe more. But we’re still trying to fight a war with sticks and stones, forcing ourselves to live on the bare necessities because it’s somehow honorable. If honor meant leaving all those people in the tunnels, fuck honor. I made the right call.


Post a Comment