The Leigh Theory
The past days had been unbelievable.
As we traveled, nobody in the van attempted to speak or even make a noise. I knew Leo was in everyone's minds as he left a lasting impression, adding color to their lives.
In the few months since we joined Omen, Leo quickly blended in and became friends with almost everyone. He always cracked jokes during meals and always made them smile or laugh. He once laughed so hard while eating that he choked himself, but he turned it into a slapstick joke.
I regret not telling him that he changed my life for the better. If he survived the battle, I would spend the entire day listing things I appreciate about him and explaining why he was special.
But it was too late for that. Leo was gone, and there was no way to bring him back. All that was left to do was to make his sacrifice count and achieve our goal.
After traveling for almost two days, we finally returned to the hideout. Everyone greeted us with mixed smiles and worried faces. Their reactions were quite fitting since we brought good and bad news.
I felt sorry for showing my pathetic side as Marvin and Mabel ran toward me. I needed to get myself together since I got them grave news. I had to make sure that they took it as calmly as possible.
Unfortunately, I couldn't. It was the first time I bawled my eyes out in front of them.
Mabel hugged me tightly as tears also overflowed from her eyes. The only thing I gave her was Leo's seed pouch, which she then firmly held as she buried her face in my chest.
Georgia approached us and gently caressed our hair. She told us to go to the Leaders' Hall with the others to discuss our next plan.
She was right. We could mourn all we wanted after we reached our goal. We had no time to waste as the day of Adam's plan drew near.
Van brought the book back from the Archives and gave it to Megan. Georgia and her leaders gathered on the second floor to discuss among themselves and then called everyone's attention.
Georgia explained Adam's Project ArqL to Omen. Everyone was surprised, and they thought Paradise finally did something good. She added that it was the same operation that created Paradise's Exalted, except the new project was allegedly for medical purposes only.
Van stood before Omen as Georgia revealed he was an Exalted like her. It caused a commotion, as people had been spreading rumors about Van since he joined the group, which turned out to be true. The division leaders then asked everyone to calm down as Georgia continued.
“I won’t deny that we once contributed to the injustice of Paradise. It drove us mad and seeing the state of this world hurt a lot. That’s why we decided to run away from that awful place, and that was the main reason I created Omen.”
Georgia told everyone about their condition and how Paradise used their bodies for their experiments and eventually became the first two members of the Exalted. She disclosed everything, from the enhancing aspect to the side effects that gradually appeared on their bodies.
Van showed the black mark on his lower back, which alarmingly got wider. Coincidentally, Georgia didn’t have to unbutton her shirt as the mark also got wider, almost reaching her neck.
“There is a way to prevent the side effects. It is to buy another shard.”
Of course. Everyone protested and expressed disdain. Eli and I locked eyes as he stood beside Georgia and Hannah on the balcony. His gaze told me I didn’t have to feel guilty about owning two shards as everything was for the greater good.
“I want everyone to listen to what I’m about to say. The leaders and I plan to invade Paradise in a few days to stop Adam and Project ArqL. We’ll have a hard time given our numbers, but we can’t just stand by and watch. Now, I know some of you joined Omen because of the black market operations, and I can say that it did help and reach lots of people,” Georgia explained while we listened attentively.
“That said, I am giving everyone a choice and will wholeheartedly accept your decision,” she said as she gandered at the crowd, “You can either go outside of this compound and move on with your lives or stay to discuss the plan to stop Paradise.”
The room became silent, and nobody moved. Everybody was looking up to her and did not react at all. Georgia was confused, and as she turned to her leaders, they simply shrugged. She cleared her throat and tried to repeat what she said.
“I think I haven’t made myself clear. I said I’m giving you a choice–”
“We heard you loud and clear, boss. We’re just waiting for the details of the plan,” one member interrupted her.
One by one, they supported and backed the guy up. Surprisingly, nobody wanted to leave. Maybe a few might’ve felt guilty or pressured, but they probably thought things would remain the same if they had left and decided to drop out of the group.
Every jaw dropped on the second floor as everyone below expressed their sentiments towards Paradise. Georgia fell to her knees as she probably didn’t expect everyone’s decision.
She created Omen to help those who were deprived and oppressed. They wanted accessible and fairly distributed resources. Their entire existence was to bring about a revolution, bring forth justice, and end Adam’s tyranny.
As Leo said, he became part of something that could change the world.
Traveling to Paradise from the hideout would take two days, leaving us three to prepare everything we could. We needed to stock up on everything, and I was sure Eli’s division would be the busiest.
Everybody scrambled right after discussing the plan. Each leader took their members and immediately went on with their tasks. Georgia agreed to my request and allowed me to help with Eli. One reason was that weapon-making was my strong point, while the other was to dedicate the three days, non-stop, to developing my new bracers. Van wanted to help with the weapons, but as soon as he walked to follow me, he suddenly stumbled to the ground.
Van’s side effects began to worsen.
Georgia and I went to help him and said I would take care of him instead. However, she ordered me to go with Eli as she would be the one to handle him. I left Van with her because, if anything, she was the one who fully understood his condition.
For the past three days, I did whatever Eli asked me to do. Using my decent knowledge of electronics and engineering, I helped make and maintain everyone’s weapons. Once we finished, I spent the rest of the day working on the new bracer with his help. Mabel brought food and water to Eli’s division, and sometimes, she assisted me whenever she was free.
One time, we were coincidentally left alone in Eli’s room. It was heartwarming as we accompanied each other and had a little talk.
“I don’t know what else I could do besides this. I’m not that strong like my dad to carry crates or well-versed with medicine to help Miss Hannah, or even brave enough to fight like you and Leo in the front lines,” Mabel muttered.
“You don’t need to be in the front lines to be considered brave. Leaving your lives behind in Chora to join us here was already a courageous move, and helping in the hideout is more than enough,” I responded.
I was sure ‘sleep’ would become a foreign word in Leo’s dictionary as he would get energized having Mabel around. I was sure he wouldn’t stop talking and spend the rest of the night blabbering about useless things.
I was sure we could’ve lived happily.
The day of the invasion finally arrived. With little time available, I exhausted myself and created a weapon that, hopefully, could get to Adam’s level. Due to Eli’s suggestion, I got selected as one of the focal points of the plan. He put all of his trust in me and the weapon we created. I felt a little pressured, but if they believed in me, I should too.
Georgia planned to destroy the traces of Project ArqL and restrain Adam. From what we knew, Paradise’s army consisted of the Paradise Protectors, the Exalted, and Adam himself. The plan would center around me, Janus, Van, and her infiltrating Paradise’s headquarters, where Adam and the Exalted would potentially be.
I just hoped that I could keep up with them. I needed to make sure I could bring justice to the new bracers and make the most of it.
Georgia would then use Adam to force Paradise to stop the project and release an official statement. From that, we wished to spark a revolution and reform the government, hopefully.
Van and Georgia’s condition, Leo’s death, and the stability of the bracer were just a few of the things that were in my mind right before leaving. I felt restless and jittery, but thankfully, Mabel calmed me down as she held my hand.
“Please be safe. I don’t want to lose another loved one.”
Simple words, but they carried a lot of weight to me. No one knew how the mission would go or if we could survive and return safely, but I promised Mabel we would return victorious.
We needed to be victorious, as humanity’s salvation and the planet’s revival rested in our hands.