Part 2 - 15
Beep… beep… beep
The solemn noise of a machine nearby opened my eyes.
My body was strangely light and I pulled myself up. A girl – Scarlet – was sleeping next to me, leaning onto the rail just at the edge of my bed. A large window in front showed a very old but familiar scenery outside.
How many days…? How many times did I had to push myself to return to this?
“Get him up in the helicopter!” Han shouted, waving from the rail from the helicopter that just landed. Scarlet ran out from the driver’s seat to help Numen and Kale. When they finally steadied Leon’s body onto the deck, everyone waited for some kind of response of life.
“Leon!” Scarlet cried out as she softly shook him by the shoulder. She was just about to burst into tears when a weak grasp held her hands. “Leon…!”
“What happened to the –“
“We’ve won,” Numen said. “Thanks to you.”
“Yes…” Han said, looking grimly in the distance at a hurtful body. “It’s over.”
Leon slowly pulled himself up and leaned by Scarlet’s side. His eyes were fixed at the same direction.
“Did you…” Scarlet paused. Then she looked down. “Is she at peace now?”
“Yes,” Leon said with his voice shaking. “I’m sorry, Han. There was no time… to say anything to her.”
“No,” Han said. “There was no need to in the first place,” then he walked out and approached Michelle’s dead body. He pulled her up to put her inside a bag where soldiers are put inside when they died in battle. Numen and Kale helped him. When he was done with that, he came back. “We’ll all have a chance to say farewell. Take us home, Scarlet.”
“But he still needs some –“
“Let’s go, Scarlet,” Leon said, sitting up on the chair beside him. “I’d rather be in a better place.”
I brushed my hands over Scarlet’s hair when she suddenly woke up. She rubbed her eyes and smiled by how I looked fine.
“You’re finally awake.”
“The pills did some good work,” I said pleasantly.
Then there was a knock on the door. A nurse came in with a plate full of dishes. She said it was breakfast and offered the plates in front of me. The woman also served food for Scarlet. Then she left.
“Is it five years? Six?” I asked to myself as I began eating breakfast.
“Let’s not think about that. What’s important is right now… and what we’re going to do today.”
We chatted with each other while finished our plate. Then Scarlet readied my clothes and I was soon ready to exit the hospital.
At the lobby, there was already people waiting.
“What took you so long?” Numen exclaimed.
“Food was way better than yours in Eden so I had to stay for a while to enjoy it,” I smirked.
“Good to see you all healthy again,” Mia said.
“Yeah… it seems like ages,” I replied.
“Shall we go? It’s getting late,” Han said and they all started to exit the building.
“It’s been late for like six years already,” I murmured to myself. Still this was the real thing. Not some masquerade corpse inside a decoy coffin.
And so the real body of Michelle Nathans was safely inside the coffin made by the finest. She never would have liked such luxurious decoration but I couldn’t help it. For me… even the design was not enough for what she gave me.
Literally half of the city came to the funeral. Familiar faces were there too – those I haven’t seen in ages. Some of the Ravens have come as well; some of the Slayers joined the group; the entire Crusader was participating in this one; Jerrod was there as well, only that he looked as if he was hiding.
Han lifted the coffin from behind, I took position at the front. Slowly and steadily, we lowered her underground, underneath the tombstone that carved her name.
People all in black surrounded the funeral. Everyone was quiet and did not speak a word until Han and I finished burying her last resting place. Her coffin was underground and unseen. Only dirt and grass was laid in front of her tombstone. Before I stepped back, I pulled out the silver necklace she wore – even while she was a Hunter – and tied it around a small twig that punctured out from the ground beside the stone. It glittered in the morning light and it looked just beautiful.
“Well… since no one seems like they are in the mood for a speech, I’ll have to start it off,” Han said, breaking the cold silence. “So here lies Michelle Nathans, the one and only… beautiful both literally and figuratively. She was one of our first heroes and one of the best Crusaders we ever had. She fought bravely during Hornet’s Nest and for her vigilance, was given a well-crafted sword from the best swordsmith we have. And perhaps the only pity in her life was that, despite her strength of protecting those around her, they didn’t have such power to protect her. The consequence… is something everyone should know and I would not like to mention it.”
“She had a talent of inspiring people. As a young scientist, she inspired two men who were once great and esteemed. As a teacher, she bloomed growth of a child that became a true hero of humanity today. As a fighter… she gave hope to us that nothing is impossible,” Han paused and stared at the ground that buried the coffin. “Even during her last, she fought with courage.”
I recalled the final battle. Yes she fought with courage. Fierce in battle like she’s always been.
“May she, at last, rest in peace.” And everyone else hummed in unison the same words.
“May she rest in peace,” I murmured silently.
The only schedule for the day was Michelle’s funeral but before I could realize, the sun was already heading down. It was already sunset and the sky was lit in bright orange, like a lively inferno. I was sitting down just at the outskirt of the city, under a large tree, comforting myself with the smell of the grass and the whisper of the wind.
“I figured you were here,” said Han’s voice from behind the tree. I glanced up to see him.
“I just need some time alone,” I said. “I need some time to think of something else for a while.”
“Scarlet said you were leaving,” Han said, almost as if he was sorry for it. “Why?”
“Like I said, I need time to think of something else,” I replied. “The city here… Eden… they all remind me of something. I need a fresh start.”
“So you’re not fighting again?”
“…no,” I said. “That day was the last when I unsheathed my sword.”
“And you really think you can keep that,” now he sounded like he was mocking me.
“I have certain I can keep that for at least several years.”
“The three will miss you.”
“Yes… I’ve grown quite fond of them. Despite the fact that it’s not easy for me to stay with strangers for such a long time, as it’s written in my DNA,” I said.
“Leon, that is –“
“The world knows what I am. I have no need to refuse the truth,” I said.
“Right…” Han seemed to have lost his words and I continued to enjoy the tranquility. “So when are you leaving? I’m sure they will be expecting some farewell at least.”
“Tonight,” I said. “And… no I won’t be saying any farewells. So do me a favor to send my apology.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that, Han. You owe me more than this, anyway,” I said. Then I stood up, brushed the dirt off my trousers and started heading back to the city. “Speaking of which… I should be packing my stuffs.”
“So where are you headed?” Han asked just before we were about to leave. I don’t know how he found out when we were leaving but he has never been so consistent like this – it felt very odd.
“I’m sure you would find out,” I said casually, preventing Scarlet from blurting out the location.
“You’ll be welcome to visit us –“
“Yes you will. And I’m sure you’ll figure out the location,” I said quickly. Scarlet frowned uncomfortably.
“That’s some heavy gears you’re taking for a guy going for some rest,” Han glanced at the weapons and armor.
“We do need to protect ourselves from intruders.”
“It’s just self-defense, Han don’t worry,” said Scarlet pleasantly. Han looked at us suspiciously.
“So… I guess this is really the end,” he said, loosening his tension. “And I never imagined such an ending when I unplugged some pipe from you.”
“Things can get messy. They always seem to,” I said.
“Then… it’s farewell,” he said. “You’re welcome to return. There won’t be Ravens bothering you anymore. You’ll be truly welcomed.”
“We’ll see about that,” I said cynically. “Goodbye Han.”
It took five godforsaken days to get to our destination since we left the city. And wow… how I missed the helicopter Scarlet had. When I looked at her, she was sweating like she just had a shower and I bet I looked exactly the same.
“Here we are,” Scarlet said as she pointed at a small hut in the middle of the woods. “This is where… well, you remember what we did here.”
“Yeah I was banished from my own town and felt like shit,” I said grumbling. The small shack was exactly the same as the time we left here. “So let’s check the things we brought.”
“Thirty mini cameras we used in Eden. Two rifles with ammunition. Two Crusader armor and your sword,” she said checking the baggage I set on the ground. She put hers down and opened it up. “I brought some clothes and everyday equipment.”
“The rest is up to us right?” I said cheerfully. Scarlet nodded. I looked around and really… saw nothing but trees and grass. This actually seemed more difficult than I have imagined. “Well… I guess we need some renovation for the hut… and have wooden walls around it…”
“I brought vegetable seeds so we can have our own garden!” she exclaimed excitedly. She immediately started to unpack her baggage and move them inside the small shack. I looked around to start the construction but honestly, I had no idea where to start.
Still it was great to be like this.
Scarlet was happy. I was happy to be with her. There weren’t anyone to bother us. There weren’t anyone to force me to fight again.
I was going to build my own place just for Scarlet and I and live in peace for the rest of my lives. Or go on a journey around the Earth; see the ocean, the desert, and climb mountains in real life.
My story as a ‘hero of humanity’ ended this day. My existence as a ‘killing machine’ ended as well.
Everything will change and spark a new beginning.
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