Note: This chapter immediately follows the events of Chapter 25: The Ragged Edge of Deus Ex's
My ATS Story. And yes, I posted a day early this time.
I walked through the forest surrounding the bunker compound as I often had, trying to clear my head once more. Things had taken a big turn for the
worse with Saucerat’s attack during the interrogation of the prisoners, and my lack of action could have cost someone their life. I can’t say I knew
anything else that I could have done under the circumstances though. I’m just glad Deus showed up when he did or it would have gotten ugly. Well,
uglier than it turned out, at least.
It seemed like every waking hour was a new lesson in chaos these days. I just needed someone to help me sort through it. Someone I could trust.
Someone I could confide in. Someone who knew me before all this began.
That’s when I heard the familiar girl’s voice behind me. “You don’t look happy.”
I turned casually to the source of those words, like I expected her to be there all along. “Lindsey, things are goin’ south in a big way, kiddo. I
think I’m in over my head on this one.” I took a deep breath as she stood and watched me, waiting for me to continue. “Sauce almost killed someone in
there, and I couldn’t do anything to stop him. I feel like I’m losing what little control over myself I had and like we’re all losing what little hope
we had.” Dressed all in black, she wore the same gear I did, just as she always did. She’d always wanted to make me proud of her. Just seeing her
brought a smile to my face, albeit a weak and weary one.
Her shoulder-length blond hair fluttered around her angelic face in the breeze as she stepped up to me, wrapping her arms around me for a much-needed
hug. It had been so long since I’d let anyone close enough to touch me. “You’re scaring me here, DH. I’m the one who’s always thinking that there’s
nothing to live for, remember?”
I had to chuckle at that one. It seemed like just yesterday that I’d found her in a chat room, crying about how some idiot boy she had a crush on had
broken her heart and how it made her want to die. I’d talked her back to reality that night but now she was trying to console me. Things changed in
the last four years. It felt like more than a lifetime had passed.
As she pulled back from me, I looked her in the eye. “Lindsey, I knew it could get rough, but this is far more than I ever planned on. Lysergic is
dead. Saucerat’s lost his face and his mind. Deus looks like he fights a Cuisinart in a slaughterhouse after every patrol. Every move I make sends
more of our people either to the infirmary or the graveyard.” I took another deep breath. “They’re going to close in on us soon, darlin’, and it’s not
going to be pretty when they show up.”
“So what are you going to do? Surrender when the next attack comes? Somehow I don’t see you doing that.”
“I’m not looking to surrender, but I’ve been looking at options, kiddo.”
She looked up at me with a strange look on her face. “Are you thinking of having a group this size just ‘ghost’ into the wild? Please tell me you’re
“Not everyone. I plan on staying for as long as we can hold the house, but I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to stay since we’re a known target. I
can’t ask them to do that. We’ve got a few vehicles they can use to get out of the area.”
“Wait a minute,” she said, holding up her hand. “Where do you expect them to go? It’s not like they can just leave and check into a Holiday Inn. Last
time I checked, the only place they could expect to wind up was one of the internment camps. That’s not like a trip to summer camp, you know.”
“So what do you expect me to do? Ask everyone to die with me because we know an attack will have to come sometime? This is a losing battle right now.
At the moment, it’s a slow loss, kiddo. Every win costs us more than we gain.”
“So pull whatever high-and-mighty wanna-be Sith Lord bull# you have out of your ass and put it to use. It’s not like you’ve always walked the straight
and narrow, and it’s not like you aren’t more than justified in pulling the Darth Vader routine out of storage in that creepy cobwebbed brain of
yours.” She had a sinister grin on her face when she said it. She knew what she was talking about, whether I wanted to admit it or not. I just needed
to find that nastiness I’d been hiding away for so long. “You know I’m right.”
She paused to let that sink in before adding, “You know you want to feel the rush of the thunder and lightning. Find that feeling inside yourself. Use
whatever memories you have of your darkest secrets, and use that against these people. We both know you can be one seriously devious bastard when you
I had to crack a smile at that comment.
“I know you’ve worked so hard to get control of yourself and your so-called dark side, but what has it done for you?” She frowned a little. “You led
with your heart and not with your head, and it let you get hurt by everything happening around you. Bad call, Empathy-Boy. The first thing you taught
me was to learn how to block out the distractions that the gifts we have can cause. It’s like the teacher becomes the student, DH, because I can see
why you’re drowning in the emotions of everyone around you, but you can’t.”
“Find what makes you burn, what makes you breath, what makes you alive. Really alive, not just this going-through-the-motions bull# I’ve been
watching. You know it’s what you want. You know it’s what you need. Stop thinking about what you can do to protect these few civilians you have at
home and imagine what you can accomplish with the fighters you have. You’re thinking too much about defense and not enough about regaining your
strength. You need to live. And we know what makes you live.”
I was a little scared, but I had to admit she knew me better than I thought she did. I guess she really was paying attention all that time. I looked
down, trying to find the words I wanted to say. “I’ve been holding back that dark edge of myself for so long, trying to keep everyone happy. I guess I
can’t worry about that right now. We have a war to win. And if we can’t win, we’d damn well better make sure we live up to the promises I’ve given to
avenge the ones we’ve lost.”
She was grinning like the Cheshire Cat as she told me, “So saddle up the Horsemen, stock up on six-packs of whup-ass, sharpen the swords, and….” She
paused before surprising me with a quick kiss on the lips, then whispered in my ear as she put her arms around my neck, “Play Angel to my Buffy.”
“Huh? Uh… Lindsey…..” I was in absolute shock. Maybe even terror. I mean, she was cute, but I’d known her since she was thirteen or fourteen. I really
didn’t have time to deal with a schoolgirl crush, if that’s what it was.
“Just teasing!” she giggled. “Ooops! Company’s coming.”
I glanced over my shoulder, eyes still wide from shock, to see Springer emerging from some brush.
“Damn, DH, when you head off to parts unknown, you really….” Springer’s voice trailed off as he looked around with a puzzled expression. “Hey uh…. who
were you talking to? And uh…. why do you look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
“Oh I was just talking to….” I couldn’t tell him that I was talking to a girl from his squad who he thought was dead. That wouldn’t work too well.
“Myself. I was talking to myself, that’s all.”
I could tell from the look on his face that he didn’t quite believe that one, but he didn’t seem too sure about calling me on it either. “Yeah…. uh….
Parrhesia asked me to look for you. Something about you being late for a follow-up on an injury?”
She apparently wasn’t going to let go of her problem about my having problems with my knees.
“Alright, Springer, let’s go see what she wants.”
Springer looked around a few more times, still seemingly a little confused before mumbling to himself, “I know I heard someone else up here….”
[Edited on 3/29/2004 by TheDemonHunter]