The doors of the Nuclear Tavern slid open and out stumbled a clearly drunk William.
William: "No, I can't! I have to fly- I have to fly my space ship!" he shouted into the bar, slurring his words.
William staggered over to his starfighter and saw an immobilizer on the rear thruster. The small digital screen read "parking violation".
William: "Aw come on!"
He spun around when he heard a speeder pull up next to him.
William: "Haha Taxi!" he exclaimed before getting in the back.
William: "Take... T-Take me home... To my house that I live in..."
The taxi driver started driving without even asking where exactly home was. If William was less intoxicated he may have found this somewhat suspicious. After taking a large swig from his bottle, he started speaking to the driver.
William: "How about this? I'll pay you... A thousand credits to put a bullet in my head right now. I'll even give you the gun," he said pulling out his pistol. "I mean I'd do it myself but... I don't know... Too... Too much of a coward."
William let out a yawn and fluttered his eyelids, close to falling asleep in the back of the cab.
Driver: "Be careful what you wish for," spoke the driver in a seemingly angry tone.
There were red flags everywhere but William was in no state of mind to see them. He would have to face whatever was going to happen next.
Sometime later William was slapped awake. When he opened his eyes and tried to move, he was startled to find himself chained to a pillar inside some barn.
In front of him stood three boys perhaps a few years younger than him. He recognized one of them as the taxi driver. All of them stared at him in anger.
William: "What the hell is this?! Who are you?!"
All three of them took out wands, revealing themselves to be Collective.
Boy 1: "We're here to make things right. An'kl!" he snarled making the tip of his wand erupt in flames.
He slowly walked towards William who was shocked to find himself in this situation. Suddenly there was a loud voice from door of the barn.
Voice: "Stop!" commanded the voice of a girl.
In walked Norri. The three others turned to face her.
Norri: "What do you think you're doing?"
Boy 2: "We're getting justice!"
Norri: "This is not justice."
Boy 1: "Don't you know who he is?! This man slaughtered so many of our people! He must suffer."
Norri looked at William's face. It did not seem he even cared at this point whether he was killed or not.
Norri: "I believe for him being alive is a greater suffering than you killing him. Get out."
Boy 1: "But he-"
Norri: "Now! The Mages will not take kindly to this when they find out what you've done."
The boy looked at his cohorts.
Boy 1: "Come on," he said angrily, leading them out of the barn."
William: "Crazy running into you again," he said as Norri helped him down.
Norri: "I had hoped I'd seen the last of you," she said smiling.
William: "Who were those guys?"
Norri: "They're part of our expedition here. However those three are a bit... Extreme. They'd prefer to rough people up instead of doing their studies."
William: "Maybe I deserve it..."
Both of them stood there awkwardly for a few seconds before William spoke again.
William: "But why'd you help me? I figured you'd be on their side. Especially after what I've done to you..."
Norri looked at him quizzically.
Norri: "Why did you lie?"
William: "About what?"
Norri: "You didn't kill my brother. I took another look at our war records and there are several discrepancies. Someone else killed him, not you."
William realized there was no point in keeping up the lie now.
William: "How long have you known?"
Norri: "Since before Toliv."
William: "You knew the whole time we were on Toliv? Why didn't you say anything?"
Norri: "Because I liked watching you squirm."
William chuckled then looked down and became more serious.
William: "Well... Yeah, you're right. It wasn't me. A man named Felix Loiter killed your brother after he had surrendered at the Battle of Tagro Lake. I took the fall for him."
William: "I don't know... He was a friend. I was about to be court martialed for... Another mistake... So I thought I'd take the blame for that too. I'm sorry either way."
Norri: "You know I hated you for a long time."
Norri: "So what are you doing here? I thought you would still be on Toliv."
William ignored the question and looked around at the barn. He realized that he recognized it.
William: "I know this place. I've been here before..."
He looked at a corner of the building and saw an Imperial medic tending to some injured soldiers.
William: "There was a battle nearby."
William walked out of the barn with Norri following him with a look of confusion on her face.
Outside William looked out at the horizon.
Norri: "You know where we are?"
William: "We're about five miles away from Archers' Pass."
Norri: "The Battle of Archers' Pass," she spoke softly. "The longest and bloodiest battle in the Collective War. You were there?"
William: "Of course I was," he said beginning to remember.
He could hear the explosions, smell the smoke. He recalled the battle as clearly as if it was going on around him.
William: "You asked why I came here. I came here to die."
Norri was taken aback by this statement.
Norri: "What? Why?"
William: "Your friends were right. I probably have more blood on my hands than any other Imperial. I'm a murderer, a monster. I've lost everything but I brought it upon myself. It was the universe's way of getting back at me. Cosmic karma."
Norri: "You are rather infamous among my people. Some had a name for you during the war. Kas'rof. It means Scourge."
William felt a lump in his throat. The prophecy of the Scourge had been concerning him for some time but now a secret fear he had had was realized.
William: "I'm... I'm the Scourge..."
Norri: "No, the Scourge is just a myth. A story told to scare children."
William looked down at the sand, hoping that was true. A short distance away he saw something sticking out. It was his sword. He figured it must have fallen when he was being abducted. Norri watched as he went to retrieve it.
Norri: "Is that yours?" she asked noticing the blade. "Where did you get that?"
William: "Qoter. It belonged to a legendary warrior named Finnivere."
Norri: "That's an ancient Collective blade."
William: "Yeah apparently your people visited this System several centuries ago. And a Mage enchanted this sword so only someone worthy like Finnivere could hold it. I guess it... Chose me," said William with a chuckle.
Norri walked over to William and pulled the sword out of the sheath to his surprise. She hovered her hand over the blade, revealing small characters in the Collective language.
William: "How can you hold that?"
Norri: "Anyone that is Collective can wield a blade like this. But it also accepts the touch of those that are pure of heart."
William thought about how he was the furthest you could get from pure of heart as Norri returned the sword to him.
Norri: "You're not a monster and you're certainly not the Scourge. I think you're a good man. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to wield that."
William: "But all these things I've done, Norri... I am a guilty man."
Norri: "I'm not sure what I can say to make you feel better but perhaps this. I forgive you. On behalf of my people... I forgive you."
William looked into Norri's eyes. Knowing she felt no animosity towards him did help.
William: "Thank you." he said softly.
Norri: "Where's your dog?" she asked innocently, noticing the absence of Tuna.
William frowned and looked away.
William: "He's gone. And it was my fault."
Norri: "Oh... I'm so sorry," Norri said wishing she hadn't asked. After a pause she spoke again.
Norri: "What are you going to do now?"
William: "I don't know. I'm lost."
Norri: "You should go home."
William: "Where's that?" he scoffed.
Norri: "Earth. Earth will always be your home. I think it's time for you to go back. Go back to the Imperium."
William: "You want me to go back to the Imperium?"
Norri: "I may not support them but no man should be without his people."
William thought maybe it was time for him to go back. Besides, the Imperium was all he had now. Fighting was all he knew. It was time to get back to the cause.
Norri: "Come here," she said pulling William in for a hug.
He closed his eyes and buried his face in her shoulder. He felt comfort in her embrace.
Norri: "Please take care of yourself. And know that you will always have a friend in the Collective."
William: "So we're good now?"
Norri: "Of course."
William: "Would you come with me?"
Norri: "I can't," she said smiling.
William: "I know," he chuckled.
Norri: "Goodbye, William. I wish you luck."
William smiled and walked away. He was still in so much pain but it felt a little better to have some idea of what he was doing.
Pretty short and not very exciting, I know. But I kinda had to have a segue into the next episode that should be somewhat more exciting. And hopefully that is posted soon as well because I have some time now. So just two possibly three episodes left to go in season 2.
Alright! I seem to have become the master of the heavily belated comment around here! Great episode mate; quite emotional and very important to Will's character. Looking forward to catching up with everything I missed.
I liked it! You're right, it was short, but it was still good. I think it would have been better if the start had been longer and his conversation a little more drawn out, but it was still good. I liked the battle unfolding in his memory around him too. That was very nicely done. Good stuff! 5 points!