Home > Firefight (Reckoners #2)(8)

Firefight (Reckoners #2)(8)
Brandon Sanderson

“Perhaps,” Prof said. “But if I’m right, son, I want you there so that you can pull the trigger. Because if someone is going to have to put her down, it should be a friend.”

“A mercy,” I said, my mouth going dry.

He nodded. “Pack your things. We leave later tonight.”

7

LEAVE. Newcago.

I’d never … I mean …

Leave.

I’d just said I intended to go. That had been in the heat of the moment. As Tia and Prof pushed out of the room, I stood there in the doorway, coming to a realization of what I’d just done.

I’d never left the city. I’d never thought of leaving the city. Inside the city there had been Epics, but outside the city there was chaos.

Newcago was all I’d ever known. And now I was leaving it.

To find Megan, I thought, forcing down my anxiety and following Prof and Tia into the main room. It will only be for a little while.

Tia walked to her desk and began gathering her notes—apparently, if Prof was going to Babilar, she’d be going too. Prof started giving orders to Cody and Abraham. He wanted them to stay in Newcago to watch the city.

“Yeah,” I said. “Gather my things. Leave the city. Of course. That’s exactly what I’d been intending to do. Sounds like fun.”

Nobody paid attention. So, blushing, I went to pack my bag. I didn’t have much. My notebooks, which Tia had copied for redundancy. Two changes of clothing. My jacket. My gun—

My gun. I set my backpack on the floor and pulled out the broken rifle, then walked over to Abraham, offering it up like a wounded child before a surgeon.

He inspected it, then looked up at me. “I’ll get you one of my spares.”

“But—”

He rested a hand on my shoulder. “It is an old weapon, and it served you well. But don’t you think you should upgrade, David?”

I looked down at the broken gun. The P31 was a great rifle, based off the old M14, one of the best rifles ever made. Those were solid weapons, designed before things got all modern, fancy, and sterile. We’d made P31s at Steelheart’s munitions factory back when I was a kid; they were sturdy and dependable.

But Steelheart hadn’t equipped his own soldiers with these; the P31 had been for selling to others. Steelheart hadn’t wanted to give modern equipment to potential enemies.

“Yeah,” I said. “All right.” I set the rifle down. I mean, it’s not like I was attached to it. It was just a tool. Really.

Abraham squeezed my shoulder in sympathy, then led me to the equipment room, where he began hunting through boxes. “You’ll want something mid-range. A 5.56 all right?”

“I suppose.”

“AR-15?”

“Ugh. AR-15? I’d rather not have my gun break down on me every second week.” Besides, every wannabe and their dog had an M16 or M4 variant these days.

“G7.”

“Not accurate enough.”

“FAL?”

“A 7.62? Maybe,” I said. “Though I hate the triggers.”

“As picky as a woman with her shoes,” Abraham grumbled.

“Hey,” I said. “That’s insulting.” I knew plenty of women who were pickier with their guns than they were with their shoes.

Abraham fished in a chest and came up with a rifle. “Here. What about this?”

“A Gottschalk?” I said skeptically.

“Sure. It’s very modern.”

“It’s German.”

“Germans make very good weapons,” Abraham said. “This has everything you’ll need. Automatic, burst, or semiauto settings, remote fire, electron-compressed retractable scope, huge magazines, the ability to fire flash-shots and modern bullets. Very accurate, good sights, solid trigger without too much or too little give.”

I took the rifle hesitantly. It was just so … black.

I liked guns with some wood on them, a gun that felt natural. Like you could take it hunting, rather than only kill people with it. This rifle was all plastic and black metal. It was like the weapons Enforcement carried.

Abraham slapped me on the shoulder as if the decision had been made and walked out to talk to Prof. I held the rifle up by its barrel. Everything Abraham said about it was right. I knew my guns, and the Gottschalk was a fine weapon.

“You,” I said to it, “are on probation. You’d better impress me.”

Great. Now I was talking to guns. I sighed and slung it over my shoulder, then pocketed a few magazines.

I stepped out of the equipment room, looking over my small pack of possessions. It hadn’t taken long at all to put together my entire life.

“Devin’s team from St. Louis is already on its way,” Prof was saying to Abraham and Cody. “They’ll help you hold Newcago. Don’t let anyone know I’m gone, and don’t engage any Epics until the new team arrives. Keep in touch with Tia, and let her know everything that happens here.”

Abraham and Cody nodded. They were used to teams splitting up and moving around. I still didn’t know how many people were in the Reckoners altogether. The members sometimes talked as if this were the only team, but I knew that was an affectation to throw off anyone who might be spying on the group.

Abraham clasped hands with me, then pulled something from his pocket and held it up. A small silver chain with a pendant in the shape of a stylized S hanging on the end. It was the mark of the Faithful, the religion to which Abraham belonged.

“Abraham …,” I said.

“I know you don’t believe,” he said. “But you are living the prophecy right now, David. It’s as your father said. The heroes will come. In a way, they have.”

I glanced to the side, where Prof set down a duffel bag for Cody to carry. I closed my fist around Abraham’s pendant and nodded. He and his kind believed that the evil Epics were a test from God, and that good Epics would come if mankind endured.

It was naive. Yes, I was starting to think about how good Epics—like Prof—might help us, but I didn’t buy into all of the religious mumbo jumbo. Still, Abraham was a friend, and the gift was sincere.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Stand,” Abraham said. “This is the true test of a man. He who will stand when others grow complacent.”

Abraham picked up Tia’s pack. She and Prof hadn’t taken much longer to get ready than I had. As a Reckoner, you learned to live light. We’d already changed hideouts four times while I’d been with them.

Before we left, I ducked into Edmund’s room to say goodbye. He was sitting and reading a novel by lamplight, an old science fiction book with yellowed pages. He was the strangest Epic I could imagine. Soft-spoken, slender, aging … He had a genuine smile on his lips as he rose.

“Yes?” he asked.

“I’m leaving for a while,” I said.

“Oh!” He hadn’t been listening. Edmund spent most days in this little room, reading. He seemed to take his subservient postion for granted, but he also seemed to enjoy his life as it was. He was a gifter, like Prof—in Edmund’s case, he granted his powers to men and women in Enforcement who used them to charge the power cells that ran the city.

“Edmund?” I asked as he clasped hands with me. “Do you know what your weakness is?”

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