Picking Up the Pieces of the Past
Part One: Riddled With Hate
The –Ethos- had become but a memory in a year’s time. All that remained were those memories and the ruins left behind. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, it was much too far from society for people to remember. It was nothing more than a forgotten memory to those people.
For some, it had never been something so easy to forget about. The ruins were left to no one to visit or remember. Yet, occasionally, former priests of the –Ethos- would come, or even the Etones at times. A few of them had little time for the –Ethos- with the Wels to ‘purge’, however.
In the darkness of a winter night, a form adorned in dark blue roves pushed on through the growing snow. His hood was pulled down closely over his head, casting his face in shadows. In the darkness, however, someone would not be able to see his face even if the hood was pulled away from his face.
Though, as he lifted his head to look at the large form standing before him, his piercing blue eyes were seen in the darkness. They were the color of a silver blue sea in the spring; quite beautiful, honestly.
The ruins before him were that of the –Ethos- headquarters, a memory etched freshly in his mind. Etone Billy Lee Black pushed the hood covering his face to get a better look at the –Ethos- standing there. A place he had once put all of his faith into, only to betray him soon after.
"God lives in you…"
A small smile began to appear on his face. That was perhaps the advice his father offered to him that had actually believed in. His father was never the kind of man to speak of god and faith, yet he said those words. It was a year ago that Billy had heard the words for the first time. If he had known then what he knew then, he may have changed his life. It was too late now, wasn’t it?
He quickly shuffled his feet forward. The bitter winter air was biting at his face and neck by now, and standing in the snow was getting him nowhere at all. Walking right into the –Ethos- seemed almost like a move he should not do, as if the place was now forbidden. From him, and from the world.
Billy pushed away these thoughts. There was nothing living in the –Ethos- aside from a few stray animals, he supposed. He had nothing to fear from it. Still, being in that temple again, alone, with those memories caused a chill to run up his spine. If he were to stay outside in the snow, he would obviously freeze to death. It did not take much courage to venture in, only common sense.
It looked almost the same as it did when he had last left. It was darker than before now, but a few strands of light came in through the broken rooftop. The objects standing around him were in the same positions almost, though some now were turned over. Snow covered half of the room, due to the large crack in the ceiling. Even if it was like that in appearance, it was still the –Ethos-, still his old home.
A match flickered before his face for a moment before he threw it into the open fireplace. Much to his relief, the firewood there was almost dry, and soon a light fire began to flicker there. He stared at the flames, the heat reflecting on his face, and the image of the fire growing evident in his eyes. Shaking his head, he turned back around to the inner area of the –Ethos-.
From the way the storm was beginning to grow even further, he had come to the conclusion he would be staying here tonight. Alone. Back at his real home, he knew the children would be safe for one night. Primera seemed to be able to talk to them somehow, though words never left her mouth.
This simple thought brought another memory to Billy. Even if he had raised her after their mother’s death, even if he had left his own left solely to raise hers, she only called out for her father. It was the only word she would say. Whenever his father was there, she would call for him. Not Billy, not the person who had raised her and cared for her.
He rested back against the wall, running a frozen hand through his hair. Why had he come here? Lately, the memories were beginning to bother him even further. Perhaps it was the fact soon, in a few days, it would be the day the course of the journey had started. In those days, it would be an exact year since then. Deus was gone. The danger was gone.
Some had not prevailed so greatly, Billy reminded himself. While he and his friends had managed to return to their lives, some were changed forever. From the few things Fei said, Krelian had gone to walk with god. No one knew how Kahran Ramsus had left his life to. Only Sigurd and Citan seemed to understand the man’s troubles, though they themselves did not know where he had left his life at.
With a shake of his head, Billy reached for the gun at his side. In the flickering flames, he examined the weapon as he thought. It was a dangerous weapon, he knew that. Elly had nearly killed Fei with it at Merkava. Perhaps that was the answer Kahr had found, with the pull of a trigger. It was maybe the answer Billy could be searching for himself.
Gently, his eyes began to drift closed. Walking for those few miles had exhausted him and sleep was what his body was craving for now.
Mother had promised she’d never leave.
Father left, but mother stayed. She took care of us. She loved us more than that drunk I am forced to call father ever would.
She said she would never leave. She would always stay with us.
Betrayer. Liar. You left… You left us! How… why?
Father, how could you? Why leave us? Why… why did mother…?
Primera never talked again. She did not say a word ever again. My… fault? I could have done something. I could have done more than stand there, hidden away. I could have protected her. I could have… I could have done many things.
That is the draw, the split, and the line down the middle. To one side, the things I could have done. To the other side, the reality. What I did do. I chose to stay with Primera and protect her. But not my mother. I allowed her to die.
Young, yes. Perhaps I was too young to do anything. But that doesn’t matter! That fact is I could have done at least something and yet, I did nothing. In return, what have I?
Primera doesn’t speak. Father is as worthless as he ever was. Mother is in a grave.
All eyes fall to me. Myself, alone, could have done something.
I am alone. I have always been alone. No mother, no father. Only Primera. The reminder of what I have committed wrongly. Only Primera.
"Her death was no one’s fault…"
"How could you know?! You weren’t here, you left us! You always leave us! If you had been here, perhaps she could have lived!"
His eyes… Sadness was evident. But, I didn’t care. It was his fault, all his fault. Not mine. Not Primera’s. Not Mother’s. All his fault. It was always his fault.
Wake up… Wake up and realize something. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Listen to father… No one’s fault. It was… It was the Wels!
The Wels. The Demons, that are my own kind. The demons that live within everyone, waiting to return to life. As Wels. My own kind, that I have ‘purged.’ I have… I have murdered those people. I have gone against all of my teaching, my faith, my beliefs. What… have… I… done?
"What… have I…?"
He turned over to his side, away from the fire against his body. No matter where he twisted to, the flames followed, warming him. He didn’t want to be warm right now. All he wanted was to wake up, and get out of that nightmare.
His eyes snapped open suddenly. The fire burned feet away from him, the snow had ceased falling, and the walls were bright with the light from the fireplace. His gun was resting on the dark cloak he had been dressed in nearly hours before. By the looks, everything was settled into the same place as it had been once he had fallen asleep.
"I’m paranoid," he told himself. "I’m paranoid because soon it’ll soon be the day that everything started."
Perhaps he was paranoid. As a light crash was heard from the basement below, he immediately whirled around to face it, his hand edging toward his gun. Choking down his surprise, Billy turned back around, sitting himself close to the fire again. He supposed he was paranoid now was all. With the dream from his short lived sleep and the fact he was once again in the –Ethos- Headquarters was enough to make him feel such a way.
Still, the crash from the basement below had caught his attention too well. Taking his gun in his hand and leaving the rest of his weapons and ammunition, he began to move down the steps. Though it was destroyed greatly, he remembered every corner and hallway of the –Ethos-. He even remembered memories of walking down these steps. Speaking with Bishop Stone one morning, counting the steps another, following another priest to see a young man they had helped. A young man named Fei, and his friend, Bartholomew Fatima, Citan Uzuki, and Elhaym Van Houten.
Billy shook his head. He had not known then what that group would soon lead him into. Somewhere in his mind, he knew he was somehow happy it had all happened. He had been able to learn more about himself and his family then, about other’s quarrels, and the truth behind his own faith. It was better than living in a lie all of his life.
The corridors of the basement were dark as he ventured closer there. Glancing to his right, he hoped the electricity still worked. It took a moment for all of the lights to flicker on, but they all came on in their common places, dimly, but enough light. The sound he had heard seemed to have come from further on down, near the back hallways.
"Paranoid," he muttered to himself. "It’s nothing, and I know it."
I do myself no justice.
Further, closer, he went. The lights were dimmer further in the hallways. As he walked, he found himself coming closer to the –Ethos- storage room, for all of the last known memories of the last 10,000 years, nearly that much at least. That room was where he had learned his entire life had meant nothing at all.
Therefore, as he approached the doorway, he hesitated before entering. Once again swallowing down those thoughts, he turned the doorway, walking closer into the room. It was darker than any of the rooms he had yet to venture into, but with a flip of the light switch, it was lit once again.
Even if the entire –Ethos- Headquarters had taken much damage after the firing, this room seemed to stay intact, and quite well at that. Curiously, he wandered to one of the control panels, looking at all of the buttons of sorts, though never touching. He would hate to see what would happen if he made even the most simple mistake. If anyone could handle this equipment, it was Doctor Citan Uzuki.
"Since he’s not here…," Billy said slowly. "Better not touch anything."
He shook his head once again, as he turned down the hallway he had come. He really had no business being in this place. As far as he was concerned, he was a traitor to the –Ethos-, and a traitor to his beliefs.
Beliefs. How idiotic. He had none now. How could he have beliefs when there were none to have… Everything, religion, faith, belief… dead. He had betrayed nothing. They had betrayed him.
That was the way of the world, it seemed.
* * *
"Billy! Billy, wake up!"
With a low groan, the young man turned suddenly to his side, his eyes meeting with a green pair belonging to Willow, one of the younger girls at the orphange. The fairhaired girl smiled brightly and jumped up on Billy’s matress, and looking at him as if he had something he needed to be doing.
"Is there something wrong?," he asked at last.
"Ever since you came back last night, all you’ve done is sleep!," Willow said indigantly.
Billy glanced to the clock beside his bed, grimacing. "Willow… I got back last night at around eleven, and it is now seven in the morning. That is not very long."
The young girl counted on her fingers for a moment, eyes narrowed in deep thought. Meanwhile, Billy pulled himself out of the bed, seeing he was still dressed in his clothing from the night before. A simple white shirt and a pair of navy blue pants was all he was dressed in. When the Thames had returned him from the –Ethos- HQ, he had been much too tired to bother with anything else but sleep.
"Oh… right!," Willow said suddenly. "Sorry, Billy."
Billy smiled meekly at the young girl. Willow was one of the few children at the orphanage that did have a family out there somewhere. Her father had gone to Aveh to find a job sometime ago. It was only two days ago Willow received a letter he would be coming for her. In one day, Willow would be gone from the orphanage, said to say, better off than some of the other children.
Of course Billy felt pity for them. It certainly was right that they had to live here, with complete strangers instead of a family. A family was what everyone deserved. Unfortuantly, Billy could not even have a family for his own. Only Primera.
* * *
Primera sat on the front porch of the orphanage, watching as the children ran around playing games and such. Billy had returned the night before, which was why she felt so calm. She always felt safer when Billy was around; he had always protected her. But she felt even better when her father was there with them.
She could see the anger and pain in Billy’s eyes when their father was with them. To Billy, Jesiah was not their father. No matter what he said or did, Jesiah was a stranger, not their father. To her, Jesiah was their father. He always had been. She wanted Billy to be happy too, but her older brother was always stubborn. She knew inside Billy somewhere, he really wanted their family to be together again, just like she wanted.
The door behind her was suddenly opened, revealing her brother standing erect there. Primera flashed him a bright smile which Billy prombtly returned before sitting down beside her on the front steps. It was almost a year now that he had to leave on that journey. It was better when Billy was at home. He didn’t have to carry his guns, he could put them down and forget everything about them. That was the best time for him to be at ease.
"I was looking for you, Prim," Billy told her. "Don’t run off where I can’t find you."
Primera nodded. She and Billy had been able to create a sort of unspoken language between them. When he spoke, he could know her reply within seconds it was so comprehinse. But she knew he wanted her to speak. She knew she wanted to speak as well. But to her, she simply couldn’t. Not even to say her brother’s name.
"Why are you looking at me like that?," Billy asked with a smile. "… I didn’t see anything at the –Ethos-. I think I’m just sort of paranoid about everything, so I wanted to go there. It was strange, being back there after everything."
Primera nodded again, turning her eyes back to the children running around the yard. Billy followed her gaze, seeing all the young ones running back and forth, chasing each other. When he and Primera were younger, he would chase her around just like the children before them were doing. But they were both now grown. There was no time for games.
"Come on, let’s get inside," Billy suggested.