36 – Lies

About an hour had passed. Edmond had already gotten rid of the bodies, and the depression was beginning to settle in. Q was the soul stealer.
He sat cross-legged next to the still-unconscious Talvian, now twenty two years old. He and Esvera had basically been raising the boy since he was fifteen. He had matured so much in that time, too.

The Monte Criston sighed loudly, propping a hand on his knee. His sad blue eyes looked toward Q. How was he going to deal with this? More seekers would be here soon if they had felt Q’s rez being used. But could it be felt long distances when the user was technically still wearing a negator? Why did his life have to become so complicated?
His job had been to train troops to kill the Phoenix. Nobody had figured out what to do about the Soul Stealer. It was too new a Resonant. Hell, it took several Phoenix reincarnations for them to even come up with incinerator– it wasn’t too long a go that fighting the phoenix was a job for a small army. It was only recently turned into a solitary mission. The last class of soldiers Edmond was cleared to train had already graduated, and he now had no job.

Shoy was the reason behind all this. Shoy had been one of the first to go on the solitary mission. He was the second to succeed, technically… He had killed the Phoenix… But he destroyed most of Talvia in the process, and politically that would be tearing Monte Cristo apart for centuries to come. The situation had made Monte Cristo look foolish, irresponsible, and uncaring. They had to prove themselves with the next Phoenix. And with the Soul Stealer.
Edmond looked over to his adopted disciple once more.
Q had expressed such interest in taking down the Phoenix. It meant everything to him, to destroy it because of what had happened to his family.
His family probably didn’t even care about him, but he had certainly cared about them. Could the Soul Stealer really always be evil?
Edmond ran both of his gloved hands through his hair, grabbing the back of his head with a groan.

No matter how hard he tried, he could not punish Q for something he was born with. Q was the one who’d gotten the negator for himself. Q was the one who had been ostracized for trying to hide and control his rez, to protect other people. Why should Q, after he had tried so hard, be punished? Even Phoenixes were sometimes saved or granted amnesty. It was rare, but it had happened.

But Soul Stealers were too new. They had too bad a reputation. The League wouldn’t make an exception. The League would put him out of his misery, or worse- leave him to the Resonant Psychologists for study, to put more entries in that damn book of theirs. The Soul Stealer was a hot commodity. Q shouldn’t have to go through that.

“Nngh…” The Talvian finally started to stir from his unconsciousness. A bright green eye opened, then the next, pupils contracting like a cat’s to deal with the light in the room.
“Edmond…?” Q seemed confused as he pushed himself up to a sitting position, holding his head while he squinted, looking for his partner.
“What… What happened? Where’s Esvera?”
Q’s eyes then became filled with realization. “No… No… I didn’t. I didn’t! Esvera!” He started to hit himself, pulling at his hair.

Edmond turned, grabbing Q’s hands and forcing them together, stopping the young man from hitting himself. “Q- Q, stop it,” he said, somewhat shakily.

Q looked up, making eye contact with Edmond, tears beginning to fall from his face.

“Forget this,” Edmond stated, a false sense of strength flowing into him. “Forget your rez. Forget it.”
Their eyes remained interlocked for a moment, each staring at the other. Edmond forcefully pushed himself away, a hand going to his heart with a grunt of pain. He clutched his shirt, and took a painful breath through his nose while he shook.

“Edmond,” Q said, his voice now calm. “Are you okay?”
The Talvian leaned in, putting a hand on Edmond’s shoulder, startling him.

“Yeah. Yeah,” Edmond hurriedly answered, taking his hand from his chest to touch Q’s momentarily before brushing it away. “Wipe your face,” he said hoarsely as he turned away and stood, dusting himself off.

Q frowned and did as told, wiping the tears he didn’t realize he had away.
“Where’s Esvera?” he asked, also standing.

“We’re…” Edmond hesitated. “We’re not going to see her anymore. You’re going to stay with me again.” His back was still to Q as he lied.

“Oh,” Q said, slightly disappointed. “Can I say goodbye before we leave?”

Edmond looked down, choking back a sob.
”Keep your composure,” he thought to himself. ”She would want it this way. He’s safe this way.”

“No. You can’t. Now let’s get out of here.”
Edmond wiped his face with his fist, walking from the room. “The ship’s waiting.”

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