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25. And Yet Another Turn

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And now we reach the ever ominous “now what?” part of the story.

It always occurs, that point in the middle where that which does not matter finally fades to black and all the major and minor players are on the field. Some have been shifted off without you ever properly meeting them, but that’s under the assumption that you’re fully aware who they are without more reinforcement. So that’s assuming you’re a fan of our madness and have prescribed to this ongoing episodic series of obituaries.

Theoretically, we all live happily ever after now, right?

Wrong.

Nothing that simple could ever possibly be real, and if you haven’t come to terms with that by now you’re in the wrong story now aren’t you? Peace would reign, for a few days, as it was meant to, but there were a lot of players on the field now. A lot of old secrets would be unveiled, a lot of old grudges remembered, and somehow, we’d have to forge a new existence from here.

I, personally, didn’t know what to do with myself. It had been so long since I was able to roam free; I was so accustomed to running and fighting for my survival that the lack of which made me uneasy. I considered shooting random people in the underground, turning myself true traitor once more, but to what end? There was no use in ending a life unless it satisfied some greater purpose, some ulterior motive. And right now, ending any of the lives I had access to would merely complicate things. Or would it?

Harley’s return was welcomed by all; her existence would help cement a sense of morality in the area. She would help us rebuild the hierarchy. Or so we assumed. We were counting on her wisdom to lead the charge against youth anarchy.

Assuming she was up to the task, of course. Maybe she just wanted to enjoy her retirement. Maybe she just wanted to legitimately get old and die peacefully. Babysitting does get old after awhile you know. I couldn’t blame her for wanting a crack at freedom.

But then there was Relic. She had to help her forge her place in this new hostile world, to find where she could roam free and clear. She would need to make herself necessary, as that was the true secret to survival in this world. You needed to be irreplaceable.

Linkon. He had always desired power, since he felt robbed of it when Lucid Mason took over after Rev’s death. But nonetheless, he would get his chance now. He would destroy all that the Brogans inherited in his hunt for control. And innocent blood would be spilt by the gallon. He had hoped that I would be at his side, the colonel of his masses, but instead I was on the opposing fence, standing at Colt’s side. Linkon was always an egomaniac, mere inches from oblivion, and I didn’t want to be too close when he finally snapped. Why did I not pull the trigger now, when he was just starting out, and save us all the trouble? I could have sweet-talked my way into his stronghold and pulled the trigger before he ever consciously thought of the potential danger he was in.

Because his legacy had to be concrete. He needed to prove himself as the bastard I knew he truly was deep down. I needed to allow time for that cruelty to fester and surface. I did feel bad for the innocents that would get caught up in his path and suffer under his fist, but no great accomplishment is ever made without sacrifice. They would be tortured for his pleasure, but their pain would be proof enough to execute him without a shred of conviction. And that’s what I needed.

I needed the truth to be told, all secrets revealed – cards on the table. Too much had snuck by undetected for us to continue with this business of smoke and daggers. And Angyl’s son? What of him? The secret that slept upstairs – desperate to be free. He could be our savior or sinner, depending on his life and opportunities. Was it wise to allow him to exist, knowing his family, knowing what he could become? Perhaps it was a more frightening world without him? It was a gamble to be sure, but one we would need to take, as Angyl would sooner die and take us all with her than lose that child.

Angyl Hunter never had anything of her own in the world that she could value. She didn’t have morals or a purpose beyond the mission she was sent for. This child gave her a reason to continue to survive and fight. It gave her a loyalty to pledge herself to. And with that, it gave us a much more tame demon on the loose. His existence needed to remain hidden though, lest those who knew more than myself, my elders, seek to take things into their own hands.

As she had saved my life, I would do all that I could to save hers.

There’s a code of respect among traitors and liars that even we dare not break.

As a free woman, I had nothing to avenge. My greatest enemy was also my most crucial ally. Killing Angyl now would damn me just as much as save me. And who would tend to her child? Harley had her own life to take control of, the cat was out of the bag; it was only a matter of time before people started getting suspicious.

I kept to myself, as I’d been accustomed to, for the few days of peace that reigned. A few new bartenders were hired, and Angyl, as she is infamous for, slipped out the back door. I assumed she took the child with her as Harley and Relic resumed their proper place above the bar. Order slowly returned, despite the screams of treachery in the streets. Linkon needed time to build his army, just as I needed time to plan out how best to destroy it.

If there was something I knew about my brother, it was his charm. I didn’t need to know Relic particularly well to know that she was the type he would prey on. Young and innocent, something pure that he could corrupt. And with her legacy, she could provide him the proper footing to build his own legend. But things didn’t go according to plan. I showed up. And Angyl Hunter returned to run the show. Harley Morrow came back from the dead. And he snuck away, like the snake that he was, searching for other innocent souls to steal.

But then there was Edward, Harley’s latest hire. Young with a bit of spunk to him but not too shabby otherwise. He got the job done efficiently and kept to himself as best as he could. He wasn’t connected to anyone or anything, which made him safe. We were trying to keep away from people with long standing histories of violence.

And while I’m off topic, I know there’s a lot of players on the field right now; but you must understand, we’re setting up for one hell of a dance in hell’s winter and need to be fully prepared.

New bartender. Relic took a liking to him right off, much to Harley’s dismay. She was very protective of her child, considering all the chaos that was ongoing all the time. But yet, in terms of available young men, he was a good choice. Stable, collected, he had character and charm. He didn’t have a trail of bodies in his wake. From what we understood, his parents lived upstate and he had come to the city for school initially. After a few months though, school had gotten old and he turned to bartending to keep paying the rent. Over time it became his ambition, aiming to own his own establishment some day.

A dreamer, but weren’t we all nowadays? He fit in fine, and as long as we kept control of the situation, everything should proceed according to plan, assuming we had one. Maybe half the fun was not having a plan and simply figuring things out as we went along. Hard to say.

I don’t know about you, but I’m long overdue for some rest, and I intend to get it. It’s been a long trip down an ever-changing rabbit hole, so I’m going to take a breather for a bit if you don’t mind. I’ll check in from time to time of course with any important updates, but I guess I should return you to the woman of the hour.

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