Chapter 16: I Am Afraid
Equal stared at the reports before him with a sense of accomplishment. Their initial attack against the UNSC was a success. The time he imagined for so long was finally here, they had effectively declared war against the UNSC organization. He nodded to his fellow staff and said. "Good, I'm glad to see that at least something is going right for us."
He got up from the dimly lit meeting room and prepared to leave. As he opened the door, he looked back to the others and said. "Remember to keep me posted on the latest developments and any relevant news."
Outside the room was Justice patiently awaiting Equal's exit. She looked at the exiting figure and stopped him midway. Equal was surprised to find her here, but then again he also knew her to be a very patient women. But I guess lately those boundaries of patience have been tested for her, just like mine. Equal motioned towards the elevator and suggested they walk together. "So, how come you were waiting?"
"I thought it would be a good time to go for some combat practice together."
"It has been a while since we have done that now hasn't it?"
Equal noticed the indifference in her tone. Yet she wants to go together for training, what is going through her mind? He pondered calling the elevator up. "I guess it wouldn't hurt to go at it for an hour, take it easy on me though. I haven't been back to that room for quite a while so I maybe rusty."
Justice quietly led the way to the training facilities and suggested they do some stretches before a friendly mock fight. He eyed her bending down to stretch her legs. Why the sudden interest in training together again? I thought for sure that you would have give up on me after all the things I have done to you. She stood up straight and rested her neck to one side and then to the other. With the twirl of her back, a few satisfying pops escaped her muscles and spine. She shook her legs to help loosen them, make them more flexible and took a stance. "Let's begin."
Equal hurried himself to face Justice on eye level. He held up his arms defensively in front of him and Justice on the other hand had a more balanced posture. She opted to balance out the offense and the defense. Equal felt his pulse rising, this strange feeling is making my chest ache with anxiety and excitement. Equal made the first move.
It seems that you really have gotten rusty. Justice countered his punch, twisted his arm behind his back and kicked him down to the ground. Equal picked himself up with a grunt and wiped a bit of spit off of his lips. "I see you are still as cruel in your mock battles."
"Enemies show no kindness in the heat of battle."
Equal cracked his neck and raised his arms again for another bout. This time, it was her who made the first strike. She bent down and tipped him off balance with her foot. He regained it back however pretty fast and swung his fist down to the ground leaving a cushioned spot. Justice stared at the spot before dodging a dangerous swing of his metal arms. He finally has gotten serious, and yet your blows seem to lack the conviction of a clear mind.
Justice swung her metal arm down to his shin and caused him to fall down to the mattress. She lifted him up in the air with all her might and threw him back down. With a loud grunt he began to pick himself up rubbing his stomach. "Jesus, you really are going at it hard."
"So are you, and yet-"
"You also hold back like the things that bother you from me, from us who care so much about you."
"Not this again Justice," he said standing up, but he was quickly brought to his knees by Justice. She held him by his helmet and said. "A clouded mind is prone to making more mistakes and weakens the body."
"Are you insinuating that I will make more mistakes?"
"It is a possibility. I would much rather avoid that," she replied letting go of his helmet. He looked down at the floor feeling her gaze of death finally brush past him. But that didn't stop her from kicking him down back to the ground. "I would like to avoid it not only for your sake, but for our people as well."
She rested one foot on his chest declaring her victory. Bent down to face his eyes and said. "So, why don't you come clean?"
"There is nothing to come clean about."
Justice let out an irritated sigh as she motioned her robotic arm in the air. "Do you remember what I was like after the UNSC attack?"
"Why the sudden change of topic?"
"Do you remember?!"
"Yes," he replied lowering his gaze. "I remember it crystal clear."
"I was broken, and raped right in front of my family. Those drunk bastards took pleasure in first breaking my limbs just so I couldn't run anywhere," Justice recalled the past with a feeling of terror. Her mind was very alert, her slight PTSD began to kick in. "Then they tore apart my clothes. But as my parents and brother tried to stop them, they shot them in the legs. Then they tied them up to face me as they finished stripping me. I was nothing but a helpless and powerless girl at that time."
Equal remained quiet, but he felt some anger inside his chest. This anger was motivated by Justice's past. He felt that he needed to leave this room, fly to the front lines and eradicate the UNSC. She however picturing her past continued. "It was when one of them took their dick out I finally understood what was happening. I remember screaming so loud that I could feel my voice beginning to give out. No one would help, no one could help. And then he stuck it in me. He forced it inside me, that helpless feeling of someone defiling you, doing something to you against your will crumbled all of my confidence in myself and belief in humanity."
She let go of him and he slowly stood up. Equal retracted his helmet and a compassionate look greeted her. Justice retracted her helmet with a smile. "That was the same look you gave me when you first found me in the aftermath. I was just lying there helplessly, unable to move and my family had been shot in front of me. The soldiers once thought to do the same to me but instead they just tortured me by cutting of my right arm and left me for dead. Maybe it was fate that you found me that day just as they were taking you to emergency care."
Maybe, Equal pondered as he could not bear to keep on looking at the painting of the past painted by Justice. She noticed his distress and rested a finger on the underside of his chin. "I was always honest with you from the start. Whenever I called you my hero and savior after that, I meant it. It was because of you that I have managed to make some progress on this PTSD of mine, it is because of you that I have found a new place to belong to. I always shared my thoughts and feelings with you whenever it was something that bothered me too much. So won't you do the same for me?"
I just can't do it, Equal contemplated turning to walk away with a rather sad look. "Let's call it quits here for today."
"That's it!" Justice shouted turning him around and pinning him down to the ground! Equal looked surprised at the sudden increase in her strength. She was holding back all this time?! He looked up to see her irritated and rage induced look. "Equal, I am fucking fed up with this treatment of being pushed to the sidelines everytime I bring up something about any troubles you may be having! You chose to be there for me, I chose to be there for you and we basically became like family to one another, so why this bloody treatment?!"
She sat atop him, keeping him from both squirming and leaving to go anywhere. He looked away from her and she forcibly turned his face back to hers. "We promised to be there for one another ever since all of us decided to embark on this journey. I just want to be there for you like I want you to be there for me. This is the point of being true friends, comrades and to an extent, family after all."
Family huh, I guess that's accurate. After all, we are all we have. Equal rested his head back against the mat and finally gave in. But where to start was the challenge for him. "I suppose I do have a confession to make."
Justice was delighted to know her intuition was correct. She listened closely to what he had to say and hoped to be of some help to him. He looked up to the ceilings at the bright lights and his mind wandered, and he simply let out the confession in its rawest form. "Lately things around me feel like they are growing out of control. So many unexpected events have taken place, events that threaten not only our peace as a colony but the actions we take for the greater good of our people."
Justice gave him quite a sympathetic look. And to think that you would decide to carry on this type of burden all by yourself. He rested his eyes and said. "Listen Justice, I know I have been very distant lately. I know I have been very harsh with our own people but I do so because I don't want the sacrifices we have had to make in the past to be a waste. The things I forced onto the people of the planet is not something I exactly feel proud of, but it was necessary."
"I know," she replied giving him a sense of comfort and affinity.
"I don't feel proud of the damage we have done to the people and the planet. I don't feel proud of the extremely dangerous weather system we created just to keep those people trapped on the planet. I don't feel proud of how I am so fucking weak. I couldn't even protect Truth or Pure," Equal said smashing his hand against the mattress. Anger was beginning to boil in his veins. "I also don't feel proud of being responsible for the death of Locus, one of my closest friends. I could not even do something like convince him to stay with us."
"But his mind was made up and so he chose to follow through with his own decision."
"I know, I know…I just wish that wasn't the case."
There were a few minutes of silence. The two looked at one another with sadness on their faces. They were both broken people only looking to heal, and the New Order was a means for that healing. But it seems as if the New Order didn't have the effects Equal had hoped for. "Dammit, I just feel like my body is slowly collapsing under the weight of these thoughts. It feels like every strand of my being in my head is being torn apart and that soon there may be nothing left. Guilt is a scary weapon if one thinks about it."
Is this pity I feel for him? Justice rested her forehead on his and the two closed their eyes. This was the first time the two had gotten so physically close, they had always been close emotionally to one another but never physically. It was time that they thought to cross that barrier as well as family. She let out a warm breath coating his lips. "Thank you for being honest with me. I am glad that you were able to finally open up to me again."
He looked up at her surprised. That was not the reaction I was expecting. She smiled down at him caringly and said. "You don't have to burden these things alone Equal. We are both a bunch of people who were dealt a bad deal. Together we chose to overcome the challenges that seemed insurmountable, and yet here we are. We can continue to overcome things together from now on as well."
But her smile slowly withered away leaving only a guilty ridden face. "I know that the guilt you feel is something I could never understand, but know this that you are not alone. I too feel guilty for the things I have had to do in the past, and even some things we still do. But it was all to improve the lives of those who rightfully deserve justice."
Equal began to stand up and pushed her off. She looked at him concerned with worry as he began to walk away. Before leaving the room however he stopped to look back one last time with a scared expression. "I am also scared at the same time Justice."
"Scared of what?"
"I'm scared of hurting you. These outbursts of anger, the rage that consumes me as I proceed to do things that are essentially out of my control cause me great fear for hurting you. I feel like I am slowly losing control," he replied looking down at the floor. Even now he felt guilty for beating that New Order messenger before. But at the same time he remembered taking some pleasure in it no matter how out of his control it was. "I continue to lose control and I am afraid of doing something to you that would put us on opposing sides, or worse."
He left the room, and with it he left behind an extremely distressed Justice. She looked down at the mattress and in a bout of frustration she landed a hard blow causing permanent damage to it. In the end all I can do is keep a close eye on him. Just like back then, I am still so powerless no matter what new fancy gadgets or strength I gain. Even my voice is too weak, unable to pierce through to him, I feel so fucking helpless!
In the underground rebel facility aboard the space station, the Blood Gulch crew alongside the rebel members were busy planning and preparing. The man left to be the second in command had made sure to take quick charge of any disarray that followed the news of Samuels' death. He had cleared up things and gotten the operations back in working order relatively fast. One of the rebel soldiers raised their hand and asked. "So how will we exactly do this strike on Equal's tower?"
The rebel leader brought up a holographic 3D map display and pointed to the various routes that led into Equal's tower. "We will disguise ourselves as a delivery supply truck and get inside that way."
"Okay, but where will you get a supply truck from?" asked Tucker.
"We already have one," the leader replied as he brought up a few reports about it. "We also finished salvaging it to look just like the ones currently being used by the New Order."
"Convenient," said Doc quickly overtaken by O'Malley. "And the perfect way to enact some glorious murder from within!"
"To sneak in, we will have most of us hiding in led boxes," the leader said bringing up an image. "It will make getting past the scanners easier."
The leader pointed to another rebel member and himself. "The drivers will be us two, so it's up to us to not raise suspicion while getting you all inside. From there on we will also let you out of the boxes and into the tower. Then we will split off into two teams. One will go after the security office while the other goes after Equal."
"How do we know that he will actually be there?" asked a rebel member. The leader looked at the man with a confident look and said. "Our intel says that he will be there. Plus the live data feed backdoor we managed to establish into his servers don't indicate anything of him being away on that day."
"In that case," Sarge said looking around at his fellow Blood Gulch soldiers. They all nodded to one another, while Caboose nodded to the floor. They just took that as his sign of understanding. "I want to volunteer us for the team that hunts down Equal. I have a shotgun filled with vengeance and an itchy trigger finger."
"Are you sure? It will be dangerous."
"We are sure," Tucker replied remembering back to the grip Samuels had on his hand in their last few moments together. "We made a promise to him."
"And we keep our promises!" Caboose shouted innocently. "Isn't that right Freckles?"
"Yes Captain Caboose."
"Alright then," the leader replied shutting off the holographic display table and motioned for them to disband. "We have our plan, so just get your rest as we will put this into action come tomorrow."
They all disband with Lopez coming up to the soldiers and presenting a new set of weapons. They were all ecstatic to see the work the Spanish robot had been doing in secret ever since Samuels came back with the last set of weapons. They studied the smooth, and slick look of the guns but at the same time the dangerous fury red lights that went through it. Sarge picked up a laser gun shaped like a shotgun and aimed it in the air. "Good work Lopez, that's some fine craftsmanship right here."
"Yeah, now we can go disintegrating people," said O'Malley very happy to receive this gift. "Murder-ville, here I come mwhaahaha!"
"Pew! Pew! Pew!" Caboose shouted pointing the gun in the air making laser noises. Tucker grabbed the gun tightly and gritted his teeth together. Whether it is a gun or a sword, he will pay. Lopez turned around to walk back to his quarters saying. "[Whatever, I can only hope that one of us dies on this mission to ease my suffering in being forced to stay with you idiots.]"
Everyone went back to their bunks. Laid down their arms and rested their heads on the pillow. They all knew that tomorrow was going to be a revolutionary day for this space colony. Come tomorrow and things are going to change, a lot.
A/N: So how did you all like the little backstory to Justice. If you found it to be too dark, hey I did say at the start that we are going grim here :).
Hope you all enjoyed the chapter and as always, thank you for taking the time to read and support!
~ Monty Mason