He began the speech he gave to all recruits. “We are neither the good guys nor the bad guys. In the fight for survival we are not given the liberty for such propensities. We do what we must to preserve what we have left. To fight in this army you must be in possession of a few necessary values. Courage. Honor. Integrity. Some we can teach you, others must be found, while others are achieved only in death. Combat will be your high tower and your deliverer. The men around you will be the shield in whom you trust. The Loom is the fiery crucible in which true soldiers are forged. You all carry the burden of Judgment Day on your backs. And when you stand before the Argus they will know that you have come to deliver that day onto them. Until then, good luck.” Hector finished his speech and walked off as an instructor gave the recruits their first orders.
The instructor began, “You will be given two black shirts, one pair of black boots, and two pair of brown pants. There is a number painted on your shirt. From now on, you will be known by that number. You will get your name back when you finish training.” Hector tried not to smile at the moment of déjà vu. He headed towards the buildings with the sounds of the instructors fading behind him.
He went back to his room to change out of his uniform and into more comfortable clothes. When he walked into his room he caught a whiff of a familiar smell and looked around for her.
“Did you miss me?” Amori asked.
“You’re supposed to be at Troy.” Hector said, fighting back his excitement.
Amori came around from behind him. “That’s not exactly the greeting I was expecting,” she said with bright beautiful eyes that were begging Hector to kiss her.
“He’s changing faster than I can keep up with.” Amori lowered her head. “Not for the better either. I love him, but I hardly recognize who he is. I tried to stay, I really did. I tried to make it work. I just couldn’t. Did you hear what he did to Keller?”
“Yes. I can’t say that I would have done the same if I was in his shoes, but if I had half as much courage and strength as he does, I would have.” Amori looked disgusted and turned away from him. “You know as well as everyone else how much he loved Keller,” Hector said with compassion. “I know you wouldn’t be able to do what he did, but could you stand by and watch your son set your home on fire while everyone you care about was inside?”
“A little dramatic, don’t you think?” Amori said, considering the question.
“Keller was a traitor,” Hector said. “Sooner or later, those secrets that he was giving away were going to kill us.”
“Could you kill your own son?” Amori asked.
“No, which is why I’m not in charge. If Gausett rolled into Troy today with Keller at his side and they burned it to the ground, how would you feel then? With one action, Atlas drove out the rest of the traitors in the base. I think you underestimate his loyalty to you.”
“He treated him like a son, but it wasn’t his son,” Amori said. “What if he really was our child? That’s what worries me. I’ve never known him to be so brutal. What would he do to our child if we had one?”
“Just because the man doesn’t show emotion doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any. He struggles like the rest of us, but in a different way. After you both lost your child he went on blindly leading us.”
“What do you mean?” Amori said, turning back to face Hector with a questioning look.
“Every commander has an end in sight,” Hector said slowly. “An end for the battle and the war. I haven’t seen a document or heard a speech that says what we’re fighting for beyond destroying the Argus. People follow him because he’s inspiring and magnetic. They huddle together in fear of Gausett, but what happens after Gausett is gone? No one knows, not even Atlas. He’s angry that his child was taken from him. He’s angry that you had to go through so much pain. He wants to make a better world for you and this is the only way he knows how. His war, Troy, this army. He created it all for you. He loves your more than you and I can imagine.”
“And you? Do you love me, Hector?” Amori reached for his hand.
“Unfortunately,” he took her hand reluctantly. “How long are you staying?”
“I don’t know. Until he calls for me.”
“Which will be tomorrow.”
“Then I’ll go back when I feel like I can face him,” Amori said.
“Why do you punish him after all that he’s accomplished?”
“Because he never has time for me. I’ve begged him repeatedly to run away with me, to get away from all of this.”
“The same way you’ve begged me on many occasions.”
“The difference, Hector, is that Atlas and I knew and loved each other under very different circumstances. In this life and in this world, I love you.”
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