CHAPTER 46 - Shot Heard Around The World (3)
Once Celia had left, ALICE relayed the stories of his party members to Alex. The soldier felt like he would be sick as she recounted what he looked like through the eyes of those he was meant to protect. In her defense, ALICE had tried to convince him that he didn’t need to know, but Alex was having none of that.
Once she had finished talking, Alex stayed silent for a while. He was trying to organize his thoughts, and ALICE could see his struggle through their shared connection. Even she wasn’t sure what to say at his moment, so she just started talking.
“You were right, though. If you hadn’t used Wrath’s power, more people would have died. Maybe even yourself. He’s still around, though. He complains every once in a while about how you ‘beat him’ or some shit.”
“I’m worse than those ‘demons’ aren’t I?”
He sounded like a broken man, and ALICE hurriedly answered to try and save what little psyche he had left. She knew more than anyone the depths of despair he’d fall into from time to time.
She also knew how to save him.
“Oh, pull your head out of your fourth point of contact and quit crying like a bitch! You really think you’re gonna convince me that you’re even REMOTELY close to those monsters who not only murdered innocent children, but their own comrades? So you fucked up, Alex. Not the first time, won’t be the last.
“But we still have a promise to keep. What’s the final rule?”
Alex laid there in silence for a few moments before his reply came back. A small amount of strength had returned to his voice, and ALICE knew she’d help him through this, just like so many times before.
“Do more, be more, save more.”
“Good boy. I’d scratch your ears and give you a treat, but kind of lacking the hands. Fact is, you saved a lot of lives and disposed of some horrible people. I’d say our promise is intact.”
“Do me a favor, ALICE?”
“Probably won’t, but you can still ask.”
“If I break a promise like that again… If I become a monster…”
“Don’t finish that thought, or I swear on my motherboard I will figure out a way to slap you silly.”
“I said shut it! If you ever get close to that point again, I will save you. I will become the Gleipnir incarnate if I need to.”
Alex thought about the moments when he was trapped in his own mind when Wrath took over. He remembered the small white flame.
“You always do, don’t you?”
“I like to think it’s a mutual kind of thing. After all-“
It was then that there was a knock at the door. Alex looked over to see Quinn standing there. His clothes were in an even sorrier state than Celia’s. Unlike the latter, however, Quinn’s expression was not one of fear, but determination.
“Ser Jaeger, it is good to see you awake. I came as soon as Celia told me.”
Alex tried to sit up again and barely managed to prop himself against the headrest of the bed he was confined to.
“Yeah, ALICE just finished giving me the rundown of what happened. Come on in, bro.”
Quinn nodded and moved to the chair by the bed. It creaked under his large size but held firm as he looked Alex over and sighed.
“Ser, I must say… You’ve done something foolish. Trying to do all of that by yourself was a truly idiotic move if you ask me.”
“Yeah, I know… I was just so angry. I wanted to punish them for-“
“That is not what I mean, Ser Jaeger. I am referring to you fighting that thing inside you all alone.”
“’Thing’? You’re talking about Wrath?”
“Call it what you want, but do you remember the promise you made me? The one where you would bring me back to my senses if I ever triggered?”
Alex nodded, trying to figure out where Quinn was going with this.
“Such a thing goes both ways. I have sworn on my blood to follow you, but I cannot do so if you will not let me. The next time you find yourself fighting, look to me. Allow me to share your burden. Know that you are not the only one angered by such things.”
Alex couldn’t help but smile. Quinn reminded him of his soldiers back home. Loyal and motivated. Along with ALICE, he had been saved by them so many times he would never be able to count.
“You got it, brother. I’m gonna hold you to that, ya hear me?”
As Quinn looked at him and smiled, Alex could see the same light of pride in his eyes as his fellow MAGES bore when they followed him into the hell of war without a care.
‘There are still people I can protect.’
‘And there are still those of us who will protect you, shithead.’
“Can you grab Aundell? I want to recover ASAP. I need to find Treya and apologize.”