Chapter 28:

Downtime

A Moribund Hero


"Good morning. Brother, you don't sleep beneath the blankets?" Rabbit warmly said as she snuggled at Leon's side and made sure her white cloak covered his legs.Bookmark here

He opened his eyes. His lips curled in a smile when he saw her head resting on his chest, and body cuddling up to him. Bookmark here

On cue, Wolf stomped into his space to pry Rabbit off him and carry her out. The moment made him chuckle, especially when it was clear that Rabbit could easily counter Wolf's manhandling. She obviously knew it was her time to go and let him do the booting.Bookmark here

They eventually dressed to work another day. When they arrived at the main hall for orders, Avril told them to do whatever and take the day off. There were no complaints.Bookmark here

Leon followed Wolf down into the armory and garage to watch him work the biomass welders and a hefty metal forge in a connected cavern. Bookmark here

A couple of long steel benches took up one side of the cavern's brown rock walls. Spread out across the bench surfaces were various parts and pieces to create some ingenious masterpiece. Bookmark here

Steam from the forge and welders escaped through a natural opening in the roof.Bookmark here

Wolf donned a safety apron, gloves, and hard shell welders hood. After some review of blueprint designs laid out on his free-floating monitor, he began to work with focus.Bookmark here

Leon stayed to observe his intense forging of metal pieces. After a while, decided to see what the others were doing. He took the lift into the main hall and stepped out to check on Bessy.Bookmark here

Punk rock music was blaring across the chapel's dusty courtyard. The barn doors were shaking with the sound when he pried them open.Bookmark here

Lucy had her mechanical tools laid out on sliding trays as she serviced and primed parts of the tank's engines with a healthy dose of oil and grease. She didn't care that her face and hands were grimy with the stuff as she gave the metal beast the TLC it deserved.Bookmark here

Leon smiled at her singing that was easily drowned out by the music from the corner speakers. After a while of watching and passing tools to her, the music became too much for his auditory senses, so he left to make his way back to the main hall.Bookmark here

Avril called him over to help some delivery boys unload crates into the loading dock.Bookmark here

He followed her past the podium and through a side door that opened into a dry and cool ramp outside. It wounded down toward a covered storage area near the cabins and vegetable garden.Bookmark here

Parked in the area was a black military van with the People Army emblem painted on the sides. Bookmark here

An old man in khaki overalls stepped out to greet her. Leon hung back to watch their cordial exchanges, then moved upon her request to help two young boys offload heavy metal crates from the van.Bookmark here

The boys were barefoot and wore light khaki tunics. Hardly the best attire for heavy lifting of goods, yet they were able to do the task as instructed.Bookmark here

He noticed their shaved heads and expressionless faces. The condition of their skin was heavy with scars and callouses. They were obviously biodefects similar to the ones that had failed the semantic storage. Bookmark here

Leon performed a non intrusive scan on them and saw they had no magic. Bookmark here

The boys were sixteen years of age, which made him heave a sad sigh. They were partially vegetated, and likely due to an operation failure for micro-scan application installments. He was surprised to see them in the army's service, considering Our Lady of Light faction preached on biodefects being a bane to humanity. Or perhaps their bias was only for those with magic.Bookmark here

One of the boys lost their grip on a crate to make one side drop. The old man snapped and cursed at the boy with disturbing profanity. But the boy merely nodded and corrected his mistake. He didn't blink or flinch at the abuse the old man gave him to make his head and cheeks red.Bookmark here

Leon and the boys were able to carry out the crates without further issues. The whole time, he felt troubled by the old man's attitude. He concluded that the sight of his harshness on the teens was uncomfortable. Especially, when the boys' showed no reaction. How could they?Bookmark here

Avril noticed Leon's discomfort, so made sure the man and his van were on their way once all the crates were offloaded.Bookmark here

"Help me get these insides." She sighed and gently patted his shoulder.Bookmark here

He nodded and loaded the crates onto the nearby hover trolleys, then wheeled them into the chapel. Rabbit joined them to unpack the goods and stack them in their rightful spots around the base.Bookmark here

It was evening when everyone gathered at the kitchen table to share a meal together. Leon smiled at the hearty banter between Lucy and Wolf, followed up with Avril's theatrics about her squad giving her a heart attack one day. Rabbit couldn't stop fawning over Leon and making sure he had plenty of vegetables to eat. Bookmark here

Butcher arrived at the main hall not long after dinner. He handed another round of blood capsules to Leon, which naturally went on Lucy's tab, then called him and Rabbit into the chapel's small room on the premise of examination. Avril didn't think much off it because Butcher doing checkups on the team wasn't anything new.Bookmark here

The small room was situated on the side of the chapel's podium. It was originally the priest's office, Avril had it refitted to be the base's medical room. One wall had glass cabinets with all the medicines and aids the doctor needed to tend to his patients. A desk and two chairs took up another side, which was near an examination bed.Bookmark here

Butcher performed routine checks on Leon and Rabbit, then began telling them his true purpose for the visit.Bookmark here

Momentie
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