Chapter 8: Let's go on a Hunt

Everywhere Simmons looked, he saw huge piles of junk. No one pile was taller than the other, almost as though the junkyard was closely monitored and regulated. Simmons caught wind of Edwards climbing up one of the piles. Does he really go through this hassle everytime he wants something for his gadgets? Edwards held out a small fan up in the air and Simmons nodded. "That will work just fine!"

"Okay, here it comes!" Edwards threw the fan down towards the soldier who caught it. He could still feel some muscle ache from yesterday's training with Carolina. He stood up straight feeling every ounce of his muscles shout at him for being so stupid as to provoke Carolina at every chance he could get. But I'm improving, so there is that positive I suppose. Simmons held up the list of parts they needed and shouted. "Okay, let's try finding a casing unit next."

Edwards hopped from one pile to another like Tarzan would amidst the trees. He really is something to be this agile and tough at such a young age. Simmons looked down at his list and found that there weren't very many parts left to be obtained. Simmons gently put down the fan with the other parts neatly organized in an open area and went back to Edwards. The young boy was already holding out quite a sturdy looking case. He is fast, thought Simmons as he studied the find in detail.

"Alright, throw it down!" shouted Simmons ready to catch the moderately sized object. Edwards nodded his head leaning outwards. With a tight grip on one of the objects to his side and leaned at an angle, he held out the case with the other struggling arm. It was clear to Simmons that Edwards wouldn't be able to keep this up for long. "Don't push yourself too hard! Forget the case if you can't do it!"

"No I can do it. I can-"

Simmons' eyes widened as Edwards lost his grip and began freefalling. Oh no! Simmons ran towards the pile and began climbing upwards. He looked at the falling boy whose face was covered in terror. Edwards' lips quivered in fear and a moment later so did his voice. Eta, calculate trajectory and take control of the jets! Simmons ordered of the fragment coming so close to reaching Edwards, but missing his hand entirely. Simmons jumped off from the pile and with the help of his suit's jet, he reached Edwards in time and managed to land safely back onto the ground. Simmons could feel Edwards tremble in his arms as he felt some relief settle in.

Edwards opened his eyes and bit his lips. He could feel pain. He was still alive and delighted to know so. Simmons brushed some dirt off of Edwards' face and asked. "Are you alright?"

Edwards gripped tighter onto Simmons' arm. The maroon soldier looked down at the boy with a confused mind. What should I do in this situation? I have never had to look after a kid like this before. Simmons bent down and patted the boys head. "Um, you are safe now so please calm down?"

Edwards caught his breath ever so slowly, and calmed his heart. He looked up with a saddened face and pointed to the case. "I'm sorry, it's all ruined now."

Simmons took a look at the pieces that lay spread out on the ground. Some of the case was still intact but mired with cracks and dents. Can't do anything about that now, Simmons pondered as he turned back to Edwards and patted his head. "Don't worry about that, the important thing is that you are safe."

"But what will we do about our very first official project together?"

"We can always find another case for the computer."

"But it won't be as good," Edwards said bowing his head down in anguish. Simmons patted the young boy's head and bent down with a cheery tone. "Edwards, losing a case is nothing compared to losing you. Like I said, we can always find another case. Even if it's not as good, then that only means that you will have something to improve on it as time goes on now won't it? So cheer up, if not for me then how about for your grandma?"

Edwards slowly raised his head and a wide smile grew on it. He nodded his head in understanding and said. "I promise to be very careful from now onwards."

I let him off too easy now didn't I? Maybe I should have scolded him or something. Simmons rubbed the back of his neck to see the broken case and thought. But that was a pretty damn good case. Oh well, we will just have to find another. Too bad the machine won't be able to handle Windows 10. I suppose getting my hands on Linux out here will be tricky as well.

"Come on Simmons! Let's take a look in this pile next!" Edwards exclaimed pointing to his left. Simmons ran towards the young lad and watched the boy again climb up like a monkey. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Equal looked at the daily reports with a heavy sigh. He gripped the edge of his table with his free hand while looking at the numbers and comments with the other. Even after all the resources we pour into the ongoing investigations for the simulation troopers, we still have no results. All we know of are sightings of our targets who manage to erase their evidence long before we arrive on the scene. Just how am I supposed to face Pure's family like this? How am I supposed to face the thousands of citizens who have placed so much faith in us?

Equal stood up and threw down the reports in frustration. They have one hell of a guardian angel watching over them. He looked out the office window and rested his head against it. He in growing frustration punched the glass alerting the guard outside. She gently knocked on the office door and entered seeing the mess of reports on the floor. She could see his worn out and weak side. Equal looked back to her from the side of his eyes and looked back outside. "What do you want Justice?"

"I want to talk about you and your behavior."

"My behavior, what issues are there with it?"

"Look Equal," she began walking towards the reports. She bent down to collect them all. "I know things aren't going well on some fronts, but they are on others. I know you are stressed with so many things and this may not be the best time but I figured it was something that needed to be asked. Why are you so distant from your closest of comrades lately?"

"What makes you spout such ridiculous nonsense?" Equal questioned back. Justice put the reports on his table and walked closer. She pointed a finger at his chest and said. "How about the fact that you don't even communicate with Truth and me outside of work anymore, or even that you hardly talk to us on duty? Did you really think that no one would notice? In fact it was Truth who first pointed this out, I didn't make much of this but ever since Pure's funeral you have been somewhat weird. You only talk to us when you need to or have no other choice, otherwise you will ignore us like we don't even exist."

"Just because I haven't been talking much with you two doesn't mean I am ignoring you," Equal quickly replied trying to justify his actions. But it was abundantly clear that even he didn't believe in the answer as much as he would have liked to fool the others into thinking. Justice backed off shaking her head and asked. "Why are you being so distant from us all?"

Why am I being distant? Equal pondered creating a silence between the two. He looked away to his side with one arm gripping the other by the elbow. Justice took note of this, a sign of weakness perhaps. He found his mind lacking in what to say, so instead he said the first thing that came to his mind. "I guess I am like that because of Pure's and Locus' death. People I respected and trusted the most, both of who due to circumstanced had to fight one another and both died in the end. I guess I just don't want to experience the pain of loss anymore."

Justice looked at Equal with a look of pity in her eyes. She rested an arm on his shoulder and with the best smile she could muster she said. "Pure's death was indeed tragic and sad. From my perspective I can't say the same for Locus, but at the same time it has to be understood that people come and go. In our line of work, you never know what will happen to us tomorrow. But what is most important are the memories you cherish that you worked hard on creating with others."

Equal looked at Justice surprised by her words of wisdom. "I never thought of you to be quite the thinker Justice."

She quickly landed a soft blow to his left temple. "Did I come off as a docile bimbo then? That's mean of you, and for that you are going to give me two hundred push-ups during our next training session."

He rubbed his cheek and looked back out the window while resting his other side of the face on the glass. The cool feeling of the glass sank deep into his scarred skin. The silence was unnerving to Justice as she wondered what was going on through his head. He looked back at her with a rather stoic and yet again distant look. "Is there anything else that you needed?"

No, she thought as she folded her arms. "Why keep on acting like this Equal? It doesn't do anyone any good. Instead why not focus on working as a team?"

He turned back to look out the window. After a good ten minutes of silence, Justice felt her resolve weaken a little. Her shoulders slumped and she left the complicated man in peace. Equal looked towards the door just as it happened to close and pondered. Memories huh, but what if I can only remember the bad ones thanks to all this unwelcomed stress? What do I do when all my memories seem to bring me is grief?