Heart to Heart with Alice

Timeline: January 29, 2009

After he finished talking with his sister John went to Alice’s house and knocked on her door.

She was recently returned from work at the library and was still in her conservative outfit. She smiled when she saw who it was at the door. “John! What a nice surprise. Please come in!” She stood aside to welcome him into her home.

“Thank you Alice,” John replied as he walked in. After the door closed, John took her into his arms and just held her for a minute. “I have missed you sweet girl. I couldn’t wait to get back home to you. I need to talk to you about some things that happened on my trip to Boston do you have time to talk?”

She smiled, pleased at his reception, then hugged him back. “I always have time for you, John.”

“Lets go sit down. This isn’t going to be easy for me and I don’t know how you are going to take it, but I need you to be part of my life and accept me for who I am.” John said seriously.

Alice, looking concerned, brought him into the living room where they they both sat down on a couch. She turned to him to give him her full attention.

“It all started with the above average number of deaths that were taking place here in Eldon Well. It turned out that someone was attacking us from the spirit world. They were using evil gremlin type things called shadow wraiths. Not really powerful by themselves but still able to influence things from the spirit realm enough to cause accidents, to make something that wouldn’t have been serious into something lethal, just enough power to make things go from bad to worse. Then they were able to inhabit the recently slain and take control of their bodies, creating zombie-like monsters. The trick was that even if you stop the zombie the spirit just goes and possesses another body. If one of us had fallen in battle then we would be fighting their reanimated corpse, which fortunately didn’t happen. We found out who was sending the shadow things and then we found out who was paying him to send them.

“So we went to Boston to have a chat with them and find out what they were up too. Eventually, we tracked them down to a warehouse and took out their leader. I didn’t really see any of this because Micheal had taken a spear through the chest and I was trying to save his life. He’s okay now but it was a close call. Anyway, Lyla found us a place to regroup and let me work on Micheal. I got him patched up as well as I could and he was recovering. The next day we tried to come home and we were attacked with out provocation from ambush by a group of fanatic mages. Apprently, Ramiel and Micheal were their tragets but their solution was to blow everyone up and let God sort us out.

“We held up in the house for a while and we talked to them to find out why they were attacking us. We tried to negotiate and tell them that we just wanted to leave town and were in fact trying to leave town when they attacked us but they didn’t want a surrender or to chase us off. They wanted most of the group dead. So we attacked them. We fought back and killed two of the group that was attacking us.”

Alice looked a little pale at the talk of killing, but she did not interrupt.

“I managed to punch one guy but someone yelled fall back to the house and so I did. Chaska was trying to stop one of their mages from casting a spell and he ran at one and basically shredded himself. His last act of conciousness was to kill the mage he was facing. I ran out to him and started CPR. We got him back to the house and I used every bit of my skill just to keep even with his failing systems. If I had stopped or faltered at any time he would have died. An acquaintance of ours showed up and offered to help. He said he knew some people that might be able to heal Chaska. They showed up and offered to heal him if I would work for them for three months. So I said yes. Then they offered to help us with the group of mages that was giving us problems. And some of our group took them up on it. ” John looked up and paused to see how Alice was taking the story so far.

She pursed her lips. “So. Are the police looking for you now?”

“Not that I know of, but I am not done yet,” John said grimly. “It didn’t end there. Once everyone was healed and back on their feet, we went after the group that had set upon us. We tracked them down to a local church rectory. I used clairvoyance to see if we had the right place and saw three men talking about what the two of them had done and what they as a group had planned to do next.

“We knocked on the door and the priest answered. He was the leader of the men I had seen talking. I told him who we were and asked him to call off his group and he refused. We were all evil and sinners and monsters and we deserved what we got and he and his group were going to see that we got it. About that time one of the new people that was there to support us, reached over my head and ripped the rectory doors off. Then slammed them together on the priest. The priest was a little dazed as you can imagine and we picked him up. I was getting ready to kill him Alice, then Ann grabbed him and took off running.”

Alice stared at him, shocked at his admission.

“We let her go even though I knew it would just cause trouble later on.

“We talked as group and Lyla and Rammiel took off. They said that they were done. Chaska didn’t want to go on but said he would’t abandon his friends, I think it was partially because he felt he owed me a debt for keeping him alive. Anyway Micheal went into the rectory and I followed, then the two new people that were helping us. Then Chaska. We walked into the study and Micheal put his gun to one Mages head and basically told them to not move. The other guy pulled his gun and pointed it at me. His friend started screaming to not be an idiot and put the gun down. And I rushed his friend, he shot me, and I started to grapple with him for control of the gun. During the struggle, I lost track of what was happening to the rest but I heard a couple of guns fire. By the time the one that had ripped the doors off and I had subbdued the one they called hound, the other fellow was dead on the floor and Chaska was limping. I think Micheal shot Chaska but I don’t know why.

“Anyway once we had the gun away from Hound, we tried to talk to him and get him to give up the idea that trying to kill us was a good one. He refused. Again I was getting ready to kill him but before I could Micheal shot him up close and personal. So I didn’t kill anyone but I wanted to and I would have if others hadn’t beaten me to it.”

John fell silent lost in thought.

Alice didn’t look happy at all. “John, you did so kill those people, just as if you had pulled the trigger yourself. You chose to be a part of it. I wasn’t there, but it seems to me from what you just said that you had them beaten. You could have left then, but you didn’t. You tracked them down to their home or lair or whatever, planned their murder and executed them. I understand you said you tried to talk to them. You were at a gosh darn church, John!! Of course these people believed they were doing right! How could you possibly think otherwise? You went through the motions of trying to dialog with them, but you should have darn well known they weren’t going to negotiate with you. What did you expect? They failed in their mission and you killed what was it you said? two of them in the process? They had retreated and it sounds like they were very well beaten. So you came at them with how many? There were two of them and you said you and Michael and Chaska and two of these… whatever you said they were and executed them. Did you think they’d lie down and let you walk in and kill them? Of course they died. You outnumbered them five to two.

“John, why in heaven’s name did you do it?”

“Yes, Alice I am as guilty as if I had pulled the trigger myself, because I would have pulled the trigger never doubt that. I WOULD have pulled the trigger. And yes, we had them stopped. We had hit back hard enough, that according to what I heard them say they were going to be calling in reinforcements someone or some group they refered to as Weapon. We could have walked away and let them kill other innocents, because again from what I had heard them say we were just their latest target not their first target. I could have walked away because me and mine were safe and left them kill whoever they pleased. But no Alice I didn’t, I helped track them down to their lair in the rectory of a church and I helped kill them. I didn’t choose their lair for them and I didn’t violate the sancity of the church and for the record they didn’t claim sanctuary. As for them being in the church I am guessing the victums of the Spanish Inquisition felt really glad it was church people killing them, not some bunch of godless heathens. I was hoping that some of them would back off and realise that it wasn’t a game and that they could die too. One of the group did run away on his own and we did’t go after him. And now I have lost my train of thought.

“Alice, would you rather I had laid down when they first attacked me and let them walk in and kill my friends. Would you rather I have it on my conscience that I could have stopped them and I let them walk away. Let them continue to kill who ever they please as long as it wasn’t me. I could stop them so I did. Did we have them outnumbered yes, would I have gone in alone yes. I can not sit by and let people kill other people, because they beleive they are monsters.”

Alice sighed. “John, I understand you have no remorse over doing it. That’s obvious. But from what I’ve seen you and your friends do the same work as the people you killed. In each of the cases you spoke of, it wasn’t self-defense. It was murder. That’s the difference.

“As long as I’ve known you and all those you call friend, you’ve only killed in order to directly protect others and yourselves from immediate, lethal danger. But what you’ve described to me… John I don’t care if you think you know what they would or would not have done with the rest of their lives after you defeated them. The point is you didn’t let them have the choice. They didn’t die because you had to defend yourselves — in every single case you describe, they died because after you had beaten them you or a friend of yours murdered them. No wonder two of your friends refused to have any part of it! Good for them!

“It sounds to me like you feel some kind of remorse for what you’ve done, or you wouldn’t be here trying to justify your actions to me. I pray that you do think about what you’ve done, because I’m afraid for you. The people you made a bargain with, these are the people you’ve revealed your real intent to. You’ve crossed the line from defender to assassin. What if they know this? What if now you have to spend the next three months taking lives instead of saving them? Do you even know the difference now?”

“I think one of us is confused Alice, In one breath you tell me that I’m just like those I killed and then the other you say that I’ve only killed to protect from immediate. lethal danger. They attacked us with out provocation. When I checked in on them later they were talking about doing it again with re-inforcements. How many times should I let someone attack me from ambush, hear them planning to do it again and do nothing? I told them to stop point and they said no. They had a choice even if they had just lied about it. And what do you mean in every case. I only know about one. The priest is alive and well. The other man in the room I don’t know why he died. I was a little occupied taking care of his friend’s gun. The one that shot me.

“As for feeling remorse, I don’t. I do feel regret that I felt it was necessary. From what I understand of the mage community, it was a good mage taking care of some rogue mages. I am not trying to justify my action. I was trying to let you know what kind of man I am. As far as the people, I am going to be working with I have no idea how they will try and use my talents but I won’t do things that I don’t beleive are right, maybe three months apart will give you a chance to re-evaluate our relationship and me time to reflect on my actions. I want you to be proud of me Alice. Its good that you can be my conscience when you think I have crossed the line. I will always listen to your advice, but I won’t stop doing what I believe is right.”
Alice replied, “You have crossed the line, John. I’m not confused. I’m not the one trying to justify my actions. You are the one who stayed in Boston after you’d beaten them. After you and your friends had murdered the ones you took down at that house, then you and your friends, with the exception of Ramiel and Lyla, were the ones who decided to stay and make sure two men died when you could have left.

“Stop lying to me right now! You know you could just walk away and you know how I know that? Because you’re here and you’re just fine, aren’t you? Their priest whatever leader is still alive and you are still fine. Preemptive murder is not what good men do, John. I don’t need time to think about what you did. You do.” Alice was incensed. She rose from the couch. “I think it’s time for you to go.”

“Well I guess your right,” John said harshly, “I guess I will need to make a little trip to Boston to clean up loose ends and Ramiel and Lyla weren’t the only ones that weren’t there at the end, in case you missed it my Ann running off with the Priest is want made Lyla and Ramiel decide not to stay. I guess I understand why now. See you in the funny papers Alice, maybe in three months we will have calmed down enough that we can talk about things.” John said as he strode toward the door.

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