Cinder returned without Bastion and I was half expecting that he had left to rejoin his evil beast of a father. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. She said he was sorry he had dragged all of us through the horrors Eshlazi had to offer, but that he was willing to help us avoid any further manipulations from the Jo’Han because he loved Cinder and Cinder loved us. I didn’t like it. It was too easy. He couldn’t expect that we would just forgive him after everything he did. Besides, he was a Z’Bri sympathizer! Past loyalties aside, now knowing that he was actually, for the majority of his life, under the influence of such a creature had massive repercussions. Despite the odds stacked against him, Cinder defended him. So did Chigger. They said that in their experience before, he had sacrificed himself to save us and that he never told anyone what he had planned. I said if he was really sorry for what he had done to us, he would do it again to prove that it was true. Cinder said she wouldn’t let him die. She had seen it once and didn’t want to see it again. She trusted in her vision and refused to have Bastion carry out the ritual necessary for him to take the Spear. We argued for a long time.
I was really hoping for Mana to back me up, but she maintained her silence. I could have really used her then. I miss her voice. Anyway, I finally came up with an idea. I told Cinder to go get Bastion, and if he swore on his love for her that he would never do anything to betray us and to use his role as Eshlazi’s son to get Slash back, then I would accept him, but with one condition. He was never to make any mistakes or actions against us. If he did, I would do everything in my power to destroy him and whatever he stood for. I mean, he wasn’t even a true member of our cell. He didn’t have the tattoo of our symbol and never took part in any of the rituals that made us a single unit. He was basically just Cinder’s slimy, backstabbing boyfriend!
Cinder half agreed with my bargain, but she said she felt like she was betraying his trust and their relationship. I said I didn’t give a shit, and if he wasn’t willing or ready to give up his loyalties to his father then he was as good as dead. Cinder went to go get him from the main level of the Shelter.
While she was gone, Chigger asked me if I would really forgive him or not. I told her that she was the one who had the vision. All of this was completely shocking for me and Mana. I never actually experienced any of what she said. I never went with them to the Hive, Eshlazi wasn’t dead, Bastion wasn’t dead, Chigger never became a man and had her real body die, and the Squats never attacked the island! The girls never even went anywhere, so how could they have lived so many fanatastic things in almost no time at all? She couldn’t expect me to instantly understand. I didn’t even know if I would forgive Bastion, whether he decided to agree with my bargain or not. I just didn’t know!
Cinder came in with him shortly after and it took all of my will to keep from jumping at him in a screaming torrent of rage. I was so pent up with anger I felt I would explode. Bastion said all of the typical things I would think a traitor would say. Stuff like , “I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt any of you,” and, ” I’ll do whatever it takes to gain your trust,” and, ” I’ll protect you from Eshlazi as long as you give me a chance!” That sort of hogwash.
He said he promised that Eshlazi would leave us alone as long as we promised that Cinder wouldn’t use the Spear. He said as long as Eshlazi knows that we have the means to destroy him, he wouldn’t be a threat. Bastion also stated he would force Eshlazi to let Slash go or we could attack the Hive with whatever we wanted. Inside I knew they were false promises. There was no way Bastion was going to let Cinder die in trying to kill his father. He was getting the easy way out. By threatening his father with our weapon, he was saving both Cinder and Eshlazi, and getting the trust of my friends. We started arguing over the proposition Bastion put forth.
I was saying that the Yagan Assassin was going to kill any one of us because we stole the Spear from them and murdered a bunch of them in trying to get it. If we didn’t use it, we were going to die anyway. Also, Chigger pointed out that Eshlazi had done evil things and was going to continue to do evil things unless we stopped him. I agreed with her remarks but she went one step further. She said if we could threaten Eshlazi with the Spear, then we may be able to alleviate our Yagan problem with his help! I was appalled. Chigger was suggesting that we make a loose alliance with Eshlazi based on blackmail! I yelled out my opposition to her suggestion. It was bad enough that we were letting a Z’Bri raised child live, but allying ourselves with a Z’Bri itself seemed ridiculous, Yagan Assassin threat or not! Of course Bastion spoke in her support. I knew it. He was still loyal to the beast.
Bastion started speaking about how Eshlazi was trying to learn how to love. He said Eshlazi didn’t understand how some death was good and deserved while others were considered murder. He went on and explained that the Z’Bri lacked an understanding about what made some sex pure and joyful, while other times, the same actions were considered perverse and immoral. He capped off by suggesting that of all of the Z’Bri, they mainly didn’t care to uncover why we drew boundaries about these things, but Eshlazi did. Eshlazi wanted to learn to love and understand what made us human!
Bastion said a long time ago, Eshlazi was learning to take care of kittens. That he was attempting to understand how to nurture instead of kill. How to have emotions for a creature that weren’t twisted and resulted in the creature’s death or basic ill health. Bastion said Eshlazi was learning with kittens in order to transfer his knowledge to humans when he felt it was ready. Chigger clicked two and two together and realized that Tulka, the Joanite she had become in her visions, was the Templar who was trying to save Eshlazi!
The thought seemed ridiculous to me. Could a Z’Bri be saved? Could the beasts overcome their basic nature? Did Eshlazi want to become like the Nomads of Legend? Were we stupid to even think such a thing, and if so were we even more foolish to consider attempting it?
I sure thought so, but some of the others didn’t. Chigger seemed all for the idea. Mana was indifferent,while Bastion, well that’s obvious. Cinder seemed hesitant to agree. She suggested the risk to us was far too great. Not only for the sake of our souls, but also because of the threat from those who may find out. Hell, even thinking such a thing was grounds for death.
I left the room. I needed some air, and I wasn’t certain if I wanted to hear anymore. I wish it was never brought up. Why couldn’t Cinder just love someone else? Why couldn’t I just walk away? I went downstairs by myself and cried.