120 Days Until Anxiety And the Uncertain End (part 1)
Evester sat with Crass watching as Karla and Rayda showed the soldiers the proper training practice moves. The General was rotating through soldiers at a break-neck pace. Evester understood why, but he was tired of having to intimidate them each time. The General, luckily enough, seemed to have realized that Karla was dangerously skilled, and with each group, more respect was given to her. The new batch needed to begin from the basics. Most soldiers caught on fast enough, having trained in the weapons for a long time, and once they moved from practice, they were moved to intermediate on the course that they’d managed to make. They had nothing after that and had to send them off, but each group had its own challenges.
“You okay?” Crass asked him.
“I’m not going to tear the soldiers apart, if that’s what you mean.” Evester had calmed down.
Insulting him, he didn’t care about. Insulting his father? It was probably true. Insulting his mother? She could take care of herself. Insulting his siblings? He went rabid. The worst part was that he always forgot it was his reaction until it happened. One Soldier, had called his mother a demagogue, which phased him none, but then called Europa a demon in the making. Evester probably would have accepted it as truth, if the guy hadn’t called his sister brainless after that.
Evester had seen red and was currently sitting out as they watched Karla and Rayda hand the soldiers their asses back to them. Karla was not going easy on any of them showing them the most effective ways to kill Aralax, without rest.
“You’ve been on edge.” Crass spoke soft and even.
“The fun of this is gone.” Which was Evester’s way of saying he was bored and his adrenaline from the training was gone. However, he had to learn to be a normal human, not just one who lived for excitement. He ran his fingers through his hair thinking of Zeydar who had told him that he needed him, and the Zeydar who had stepped away saying he needed to figure out what was real. He thought of his paintings and that Evester himself also needed to figure out what was real.
“Ah.” Crass understood. “Are you going to sit here the rest of the day?”
“You want to get back to training?”
“Karla is small. We may be upstanding citizens, but I don’t want anyone getting any funny ideas.” Which was to say Crass must have heard something as well. This group was absolute trash and Evester wanted to destroy them even more. He hadn’t had the concern with any of the other soldiers groups, but if there was one here who could possibly hurt Karla, Crass was sure to put him in his place.
“Karla is small.” Evester agreed with Crass. Which was not to say she couldn’t protect herself, but that she was still a kid. However, she was a kid who had survived the Catastrophe in an UnderCity, and survived the Night of Destruction. Karla was not stupid, nor was she weak, but she was small that was her advantage. “Make sure she doesn’t kill anyone. Aralax are one thing.”
Crass laughed as he walked off towards the soldiers. Evester stared at the back of Crass as he moved. He remembered when he’d first met Crass. Crass hadn’t spoken almost at all. Uly had picked him because he was interesting, strong, wise, and wouldn’t blab. When asked his name, Crass had given a word, which became his nickname, completely divorcing himself from his previous identity. None of them used Crass’ birth name or family name, instead using his chosen name to the point where Evester could not give Crass another name other than Crass.
Crass hadn’t been like them and Evester had resented Uly a bit when Crass first came. Crass was quiet, reserved, and wasn’t one to do crazy things. It wasn’t like Rayda or Uly wanted to do stupid things either, Kim’s words not his, and Phil was an idiot who went with them. They were still doing it, but it didn’t mean that they liked doing crazy things. But back then Phil was a master of trickery, Rayda kept them clear headed, Uly kept them alive, and Kim was always his back up. HE hadn’t thought they needed Crass.
Evester remembered the first few mission tasks. Evester had thought that Crass would have quit, but he stuck it through. Evester hadn’t known then that Crass’ family was not something he wanted to go back to, nor that he didn’t make friends easily. Beatings, abuse, key words Uly had told him when he’d first shown Crass to Evester. Crass had ran away from home, and trusted no one until Uly met him and Uly brought him to EverDanger. Uly had picked Crass for two reasons: dedication and observation.
Evester could still remember being trapped, alone, lost in the middle of his greatest mistake of the century. He remembered seeing Crass who had looked for him. Crass had gotten a gut feeling that Evester had been trapped. The incident had been the true beginning of the name Immortal of Evester, since the nickname had been used in jest for years. The incident had proven that Evester could not die, and had proven to Evester that Crass was one of them. Crass had found him, and understood what Evester may have done to ensure survival. Crass saw them, understood them, and was able to link them better than they had been before. Crass may not have learned quick, or been the loudest, or been the fastest runner and he wasn’t the strongest then, but Crass knew them all. He was dedicated to them because he was EverDanger and EverDanger was his new family.
Even now, watching Crass work with the soldiers, Evester was certain that Crass wasn’t like them. He spoke with soft words, and rarely got worked up. He didn’t care much for the adventure or the adrenaline. But Crass was one of them and Crass had knocked down the soldier that Evester figured was a threat to Karla, because Karla was family and Crass would protect family.
“You good?” Uly asked from behind Evester.
“Nope. I’m livid and Crass told me to sit out.” Evester looked back to Uly who was unkempt and an actual mess. Evester could not remember the last time he had seen Uly so disheveled.
“Ah.” Uly had a full beard, that Evester had never seen on the clean face of his friend ever. His hair was unsettled, without a style to it, and he was dressed in a pain t-shirt and sweatpants. He had bags under his eyes, and the lack of sleep on his face. He looked terrible, which was saying something for the best dressed member of their group.
“Who killed you?” Evester asked him.
“Figuring out the mechanics of what we are going to do is not going me much time to get cleaned up.” Uly rolled his eyes and sat down next to Evester.
“That’s coming from, I-need-to-do-my-hair Uly?”
“I never said that.” Uly had coffee in his hands and did not bring any for Evester. Evester did not mind.
“You always were priming yourself as your final calculations ran. Always. It didn’t matter if we were scaling a building or going to go swimming, you always had to look—“ Uly always had a suit on or something similar. His slacks or jeans were pressed, his jacket was tailored. He usually wore a vest and a tie. His shirt was always white to begin with. He’d shave so that his facial hair was short, and sharp in its definition. His black wavy hair was always combed back. He looked like a movie star for each job, glasses on his face and smile at his lips. He never fit in, on purpose. Uly always had to look good.
“Look what?” Uly cocked an eye brow.
“Hot as all hell, and as if you knew that people knew how much hotter you’d look when disheveled.” Evester could picture the way that Uly had to strip off his jacket and roll up the sleeves of his shirt. He remembered the times that Uly would remove his tie and it was always a show. Uly got them fans because people wanted to see him undress. They all had their gimmick and Uly, as the Genius, consistently played the role of the hot genius who was never prepared for what they were doing even when he was the most prepared.
They all had a brand. Evester often took hours deciding what clothes would be the most beneficial for a task but looked the most haphazard. His goal was to look as if he completely forgot he had a mission while having clothes that were the most suitable to what they were doing with pockets, strings, and protective layers. Phil and Kim chose to look as if they were prepared for some sort of apocalypse film. Rayda and Crass actually looked prepared for the mission at hand, without an extreme look to it. Lynx often wore dresses and Onyx often wore athletic wear. They were all, always prepared, but what they wore was part of the show. It may have looked impractical, but much time and effort was put into deciding.
“Yes. Sexy genius, not actual genius. I know my stereotype.” Uly rolled his eyes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you call yourself sexy before.” Evester laughed.
“Europa messaged me saying that things are still on schedule on their end.” Uly changed the conversation. “I have narrowed my list a bit, but I am no closer.”
“I thought contact was to be limited as to not be intercepted and tracked.” Evester teased him. He knew the two were talking as someone had to coordinate their public talks and communications. Uly could not leave them all alone and in the dark. Evester would not have been surprised if Uly was in contact with Onyx as well.
“It is, but that doesn’t stop her from messaging me. She said that Kony has a crush on her, that Shawn has been keeping Zeydar focused. Phil is phil and May has been entertaining.” Uly said the words mimicking her voice to such perfection that Evester almost coughed up his lungs from laughing. Just from the way Uly said entertaining, Evester could picture his sister’s sweet smile, that was a mask for her finding the person before her to be adorable. His sister was just like their mother, calculated, cold, viewing relationships as transactions, and anything other than stupid.
“When’s the wedding?” Evester joked with Uly. “You should snap her a picture of how you are now. You’ll know it’s true love then. She’ll accept you without your brand.”
Uly rolled his eyes. “Just because your mother married the lead scientist for the Yasloughve Project does not mean I am the best prospective choice for your sister.” A lot of words, Evester knew, for Uly saying there was no way in hell he’d marry Europa but that he wanted to. It was no secret to either of them, to anyone that knew the two, that Uly and Europa were hot for each other. Uly knew Evester’s family rules better than Evester knew them, because when he was young he had hoped for it.
Uly had first gotten a crush on Europa when they were far younger. Europa had come to visit Maverin and Uly had met her. She had gotten a crush on him. Estashia had to train Europa out of it, and to this day one of the few parts of Europa’s training that was shaky was how she felt for Uly. Uly had long grown to learn that he could not be with her, unless he was the perfect fit. Uly would never marry Europa because he liked her. He’d do it because he was given the contract and knowing he was the best option. It would only be then that he’d allow himself to care for her in any romantic sense, because she wasn’t given that luxury.
In a way, saying he was a bad candidate, was to help himself from hoping. EverDanger played along as if they were teasing and joking with him to make it a less serious thing, to make it a joke, for him. Yet everyone knew he wouldn’t have that choice if she laid the contract out before him. He was doing his best to pretend he wasn’t a candidate.
Evester had once wondered how it was that the two of them had liked each other so fiercely and loyally for so long despite their other flings and relationships. He had thought it strange and beyond comprehension. Then he had gotten to know Zeydar and he understood. He understood the pain one would feel and the lengths he would go to pretend, so that maybe the pain of longing would not exist.
“Is that jealousy I hear?” Evester continued feeling his words and humor slipping from him.
“The day I become jealous is the day I have fallen to the demons and I’ll need you to kill me.” Uly answered still playing along.
“Understandable.” Evester’s heart ached for Uly and Europa who wanted each other but may never be together. “What else did she say?”
“Turmoil in the shadows.” He answered, telling Evester that Zeydar and Shawn had their hands full.