“So what’s going on?” Tahlia asked sweetly as they all sat in a circle with Tessa standing in the middle as Julian and Emmitt not standing too far behind her.” Julian proposed to me on my birthday. I remembered … and for a couple days my brain has been hell bent on being focused on that day. I couldn’t figure out why until last night. I had been searching for a box See one the ship or just in our culture in general you become a citizen at a a certain age like when the village recognizes you as an adult instead of a child. Anyway the orphans of the ship like myself get can claim all their families belongings on or after their twenty-first birthday. My parents had a box, a very important box that if I remember right was full of little different types of viles and or other things. My dad told me when I asked what the box was as a child, he picked me up and said that it’s our future. Our future was in it. After Julians dad and the other guard raided my home turned it upside down the box disappeared so did my parents it’s never been found, or seen again. I think that is what our enemy is after?” Tessa turned her head to Julian. “Julian your dad was after it too that night on my birthday he made it out to be a personal mission to be in the room when I collected and went through their things. He was after it too. I was searching for it that night and I didn’t realize it until now. I have reason to believe that there are two boxes not just one. I also now believe the reason I didn’t find it was because it wasn’t there.” “I don’t understand if it wasn’t left for you there, where else could it be?” Ira questioned. “Here. Somewhere here. I didn’t get that far yet.” Tess said sadly. “But you think there is two of these mysterious boxes?” Cato asked confirming her theory. “Yes, and we need to find it before someone else does. I actually think I know where it is but it just hasn’t unlocked itself yet. I know this all sounds crazy and it’s not really anything to go on but.” “It sounds like your mother.” She was cut off. “She was a lot of things but crazy wasn’t one of them.” Malik finished after cutting her off. “We believe you. What do you suggest we do though if you can’t remember where or so called future is?” Abriel inquired. “Well we need everyone to keep training for combat and of course weapons and we defenatly have to improve on the weapons and training. While Julian and I go back to Atheo and start our end there it is important for them to know of the things going on so we can bump up our numbers and start weeding off the snakes. I would like Emmitt and Luca to come with us.” Luca looked to Emmit and smiled. Emmitt looked blankly deep down he was shocked at this plan that seemed to come out of nowhere but fully detailed, he had on his best poker face. “Agreed. I think it sounds like a smart plan. What say you Luca, Emmitt? Tahlia asked proudly looking over at her leaders. “We would be proud to represent our lands.” Luca said kindly. Emmitt just nodded in agreement. “I have a request also for hopefully you all to think over.” Tessa asked. “What would that be dear.” Cato asked kindly. “ If we are successful and when this war is over. If I chose to can I please live her and be apart of you, not until my memory comes back; but until I’m old and gray.” Tessa practically begged asking full of fear. “If you so choose, and survive all this you will have more than earned your way among us; and no matter what happens in between now and than you will bewelcomed here until your last breathe.” Tahlia said. While all the others smiled and nodded in agreement; than they left. “May I speak with you for a brief moment.” Julian grabbed Tess aby the arm leading her a ways from the big hut before she could answer. “If your successful, your really think of leaving us?” He asked painful hurt was proved in his eyes. “Are you sure you think can really let us go? Jared, Addie, Kylie, Connor, Derek, Riley,… Me? I know your memory isn’t fully returned yet right now, but you will remember us fully eventually. I don’t want you to do anything you might regret later. This is a big decision to make right now.” “I know breathe Jules. Breathe.” She said trying to calm him down placing her hands on his shoulders. “Is this because of last night? Julian asked. “About the whole thing with the other guy?” “Julian! Wow ok you know what in honor of our friendship I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt on this one and I expect an apology for this later. Look, it doesn’t have anything to do with the other guy maybe a small part but it’s different I would not base my entire future on a whim for any guy this is much deeper I connect with these people on a whole different level here. I can be who I wish to be not who I’m groomed to be. I can do what I want with my knowledge and abilities and not what is expected of me here. I don’t have to worry about trust here. I’m not leaving you guys just changing my address I can still see you guys and visit and still be apart of you guys too. I just fill that being down here it just it feels like I am finally home here where I am meant to be on my own terms. Julian look around you at all this beauty the world around you. We’ve talked about doing this for years, coming down here. I learned to survive here separated from you guys for a year. I love it here. I love the people , the lands, the crazy ass looking animals.” Tessa view saw Emmitt from a little ways over with Luca starring at her. Making eye contact directly with him she continued to say “I love everything about this place and the love and strength it gives me, and I just don’t see how I can let that go now. Besides no one is trying to blow me up down here who are supposed to be considered as family. I think everyone is just safer from me at a distance. Yu of all people should know what I mean everyone who claims to be my family dies or gets hurt.” “That is not fair, you can’t blame yourself for the actions of others. We can’t control anyone.” “Really Jules, cause the enemy is out there doing just that with our people and some they’ve stolen from these villages.” “That’s going to have to be a later problem for right now.” “Julian we have a long, dangerous mission ahead of us. Nothing is set in stone so just breathe and let’s just focus on the work we have ahead of us.” “I just can’t stand the thought of you not being around. It’s been about a whole year, the worst year of my entire life Tess, not having you there around me. Not having you there to hold or reach out to in my arms. Please don’t make go through it again not being able to talk to you or see you. Please don’t make me do that again, not yet.” She felt like she got punched in the gut seeing him in pain was never something she wanted, hell she spent her last life doing everything to make him happy, was it selfish of her to want something for herself something different than everything she had to? “I hate to barge in.” Luca said uncomfortably. Emmitt behind him looking just as awkward. However in lue of our new tasks, we need to pack and get ready we will leave at first light. Now in order for your people to get on bored with everything going on, they must believe that you two are still planning your future together. They need to see your still strong because that’s what they trust what they know to see you still united and strong they’ll still follow you. You need to have a cover story about how you crashed and hit your head getting amnesia saying how we helped you between than and now. Nothing about the serum or your treatment just that we helped you and fulfilled the guidelines of our treaty. Do you think that you can do that?” Luca asked starring at Julian and Tessa. Not liking to fake being with him still, she knew this is what was the best for everyone to get on board. Stupid politics she thought. “Yes, I think can if Jules can. We were always a good team before.” “The best.” Julian said playfully as he drug her into a hug. She patted him on the back and pulled away. “Maybe this is just what we need to find our way back to where we were?” He teased her. “Don’t push Julian. Maybe this is what we need to learn I’m not ready to go down such a path with you again.” Tessa said coldly. “Well than let us take the day to rest, prepare. Emmitt Tessa needs the acupuncture treatment again before we go. I believe you know all her pressure points to release all that stress.” Luca said with a knowing smile trying not to laugh. “”Yes sir, I do better than anybody.” Emmitt added in with a small grin. “I’m going to go prepare.” Tessa said shaking her head walking away. “I just got her back; and she can’t to leave me. I’m not going to give up that easily. I’m going to do anything I can to win her fall back with me, at all costs. That’s my whole life walking away. Have you felt that way before Emmitt.” Julian asked oblivious to the previous conversation before him. “Yes, as of recently I do.” He said patting Julian on the shoulder. Emmitt respected Julian and felt bad for all the pain he’s going through emotionally but there was no way in hell he was going to let Tessa go with out a fight. He finally got a taste of happiness and real love and he was not going to just let that go for anyone. He met Tessa back at home, she was sitting on the bed waiting for him. “Ok, I know you might be mad at me for everything that I pulled today in Circle without consulting you first in all this. So I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you first and I should have. So if you’re mad please just go ahead and yell. I deserve it after all the decisions and things I have done without you.” Tessa rushed out scared of what his reaction might be. He was the one person that it would deeply hurt to disappoint. Emmitt undid his belt and took it off also removing his sword his jacket and boots.” “I agree with you about the mission to Atheo. I am the future leader and I want peace its high time I get myself known to Julians people. After all he did come here to make things better for the future I would like to do the same. I was going to have to go at some point eventually anyway. I’m perfectly fine going. I’m even ok with you cuddling up to your future husband for dramatic effect, or at least I’ll try harder to pretend to be, I’ll work on it.” He laughed out the last part rubbing his hand on his face. He looked at her and smiled. “You really think you want to stay when this is all said and done? Where do you think you’ll stay? What will you do?” He asked playfully. “Well I thought I’d liver here with you with your permission of course. As of what I’ll do apparently I will be welcomed in the clan and Malik seems to have a right hand opening who better than a soldier and a doctor?” She teased back. Emmitt pulled her into his arms wrapping them around her. She placed her wrist around his neck. “Our home, not mine. Ours. Are we really doing this? Are we really making plans for our future together?” He asked looking in her eyes running a hand through her hair. “After this mission with Julian is over. Yes, that is what I hope we’re doing, or will do.” HE smiled as he caressed her jawline and neck and kissed her tenderly. He picked her up, took her to the bed where they gave into each other for the rest of the day and half of the night, before she would have to put her emotions on hold for a charade to help all those around her.
“We’re ready than?” Tuca asked. “Just how many are coming?” Tessa asked looking around at least eight to ten horses. “In order to make this be a peace mission which it is. Than we need to go about it properly, Tess come on four leaders traveling without spare guardsmen, that doesn’t even sound like you.” Tessa looked shocked. “You know what Jules you’re right. Addie you got the water?” “Ya.” She said mounting her horse. “Ok, my ladies and gentlemen let’s do a little roll call shall we?” Emmitt said as he started pointing to everyone. “Tuca, Addie, Tessa, President Rodirguez and myself Emmitt. Some of you some may know some maybe be new friends here. However I would like to introduced you to two new people you may not know. I requested to come with us Dalen and Neilidai. Neilidai is Micha the head leader of the Roshan tribes and Neilidai is his right hand. They are here to represent their people and to be kept in the loop and relay all the information home. Hopefully we can all get comfortable with each other and live in peace for decades to come.” “Agreed.” They nodded. “I look forward to it.” “Look before we go you guys understand that the serum used in the shadows was a rehab project right?” “Yes my dear we’re all aware, why do you ask now?” Luca teased. “SO you guys don’t strain out and lose you r mind when you reach Atheo and see up to fifty percent of the Atheo population with blue eyed inncocent civlians staring you in the face as you go through day to day motions. Just remember their not all bad on base.” They all starred at each other with that reality setting in their mind. “Understood. Let’s get going we need to get as far as we can before night fall” Luca said softly.
The ride would take a little over a day by this time tomorrow they should be at the gates of Atheo. A part of Tessa felt like a lamb leading herself to slaughter except now she has a small flock of other sheep going in blindly right behind her. How did I get here? Why does anyone listen to me? What am I really doing? She couldn’t help but fill herself with doubt. She tried to keep focus and look out around them. It was her job to protect Julian, Emmitt, Luca, and Neilidai. The road was pretty straight trail. Nature and all it’s beauty surrounded them. Tessa never knew trees could be this tall, or plants to have such exotic smells and colors. The feel of the wind still amazed her all his time she still couldn’t help but fell intoxicated with everything around her. Everyone made small talk until it was finally time to set up camp. “That’s enough for one day; we’ve come a lot further than expected. Let’s set camp off road here, the river is not far from here.” Emmitt pointed out. Catching her off guard. Three tents popped up quickly within minutes and Addie had food over the fire even faster. “You alright? You’re like a million miles away.” Addie asked Tess. “It’s just a draining ride. Wondering if we’re doing the right thing. It’s kind of mentally exhausting.” Tessa replied back. “My dear girl you’re over thinking this.” Luca said back to Tessa kindly interrupting surrounding fire with the rest of the men ready to eat. The sun had almost completely slipped away in to the night. “Do you think so dear friend? What if this doesn’t work? What if the enemy has made more through Atheo’s walls? What if all the missing rehabs over the years mixed with other swords out number all of our own? What if we can’t find any of the boxes or worse yet what if someone else beat me to it?” Tessa got cut off. “What of it rains fire and our arms fall off? Julian said with a small laugh. “You’re not funny these are real worries. Look I know it’s wrong of me as a leader infront of other rest of you other leaders to show my crazy this openly, but… I’m still not completely me or working on a whole brain, so I’ve got to be entitled to a little crazy.” “Yes, you are. Look Tess, we all are already thinking all of hese things and than some. We we’re all aware of the of them when we got on the horse to get thus far here. You are not crazy, you will find it, we have faith. Even the enemy needs you to find it so you already know who they are by how eager they will be to help you, at first.” Emmitt said to her as he was sitting on her left. Julian to her right. “This is true. It’s ok to be nervous especially now, before we get there. It’s good to vent and get things in the open, it helps the soul. This is not the elephant in the room. We will have a plan, and get through this a united front.” Neilidai chimmed in assuringly comforting her with his words. Being the strong silent type she knew how smart he really was and couldn’t have been more than at least three years her elder. “Tessa I know you don’t believe me , but once you go through those walls you will be you. You will know what to do like intuition like old muscle memory. These are the people you know, you treated with kindness everyday. Even through sentencing. We got this.” Julian said patting his hand over hers. Nodding her head starting to believe them. Finally the calm she’s be searching for made it’s way over her. “You know Julian I think I owe you an apology.” Tuca said out loud with a laugh. “What is it you seek forgiveness for Tuca?” Julues asked curiously and amused. They had now all finished their meals just relaxing around the fire. “See I did not like you when you came to the village. Most men did not like you, a lot of men did not like you. Not because of who you are or where you came from although that did not help you; but because of who you had to claim our Tessandra. Many hearts shook at this news from you since she has captivated so many even from miles around since she has been here. But, I dare say you may almost be a worthy competitor. Almost.” Tuca said playfully raising his cup to Julian. “Well let’s hope so.” Julian said back. “You guys make me sick.” Addie teased. “Maybe we should these girls alone.” Tessa said to Addie. “Would you really shoot down the talk of love in a time of war?” Luca asked cheerfully. “It’s hard to say when love changes so much.. There are times when I think about it but than look at where love got me and what good some of that love really do and where it got me.” Tessa said sadly. All eyes on her and their smiles slowly faded. “I loved my parents, and they abandoned me. Their creation even taking some of your own families. I grew up in a home where I had to continuesly lock myself in a room so my own cousin couldn’t pass me off to his pathetic friends. Turns out fighting gave me a career. I loved my people, they blew me up. I loved you Julian and you took everything from me, every memory or dream I ever had. I loved you Addie and even though you pushed the button to get me here you have even been taken from Jared. I’m scared to say it but I love the village Luca and I may lose that too. Whatever I love or loves me just… gets destroyed. However I am always the optimus there’s still a couple of things that have changed my mind since I’ve been here.” She said with a smile. “Addie, Tuca, Luca, Delan, and Julian look at her with tears floating in their eyes. “That’s our girl.” Emmitt said proudly wrapping an arm in to give a supportive hug. “Well you guys hit the sack. Me and lady depression will check the area we’ll have first watch.” They all got up to leave. “Wait.” Julian said carefully grabbing her arm to talk to her quitey. “Tessa I am sorry. In a million years I never wanted you to hurt like that. We need to sort this out before we see the people.” Julian pleaded. “ No, we don’t I forgive you Julian. Like you said it will be like muscle memory. I will be a great actress, I’ve apparently had years of experience; but you must not get fooled into it, because we both know that we or I may need different things now.” “Is it about that guy?” Julian asked quietly and sadly. “I don’t know but it’s mostly about me I guess, but can you go on wit this without thinking about that? Doing this to yourself always wondering about the other guy is going to sink this plan down. Can you go though with this for the sake of all these people including ours?” “I know, but we will talk.” Julian said with determination. “We will.” Tessa nodded as she made her way towards Emmitt, while the rest of the group went to rest in their tents.