Energia, Web Novel

Chapter 34: Homeward Bound

Energia: Titans of Verità
Table of Contents (For Catching Up)

Eitan had wished he hadn’t taken this job. He knew he shouldn’t be picky. Not that he could; there were plenty of jobs just like this one on the board. But he was too worried to even consider anything else. He had to go home and check on them. If he could also get paid, then he could do so without feeling guilty.

Unfortunately, that stuck him in a compartment with Anna and Tommy.

He liked the pair well enough. Sure, Tommy had kicked him around like a dog during their fight in the entrance exam and he was certainly overbearing at times. But he was a friendly enough guy. Not the kind he’d like to be friends with, but not one he hated to be around.

Anna was someone Eitan could see himself being friends with. She seemed smart enough to hold a conversation with. Although she could be a bit too… intense. Still, he didn’t think illy of her.

But when she and Tommy were bickering back and forth? He thought very ill thoughts towards the both of them.

“Just for this mission!” Tommy was saying in what Eitan assumed was supposed to be a whisper. “Come on, all we have to do is walk around and look tough together!”

“I’m pretty sure looking tough isn’t the point of a patrol.” Anna sighed. “Besides, I don’t want to walk around with… whatever that is.” she gestured up and down at him. “Are you wearing a garbage truck?”

It was an apt comparison. Tommy’s E-Suit was more akin to a tank than a suit of armor. His mechanical boots were as thick as tree trunks and shook the entire car with every step. His torso, large and round, was enough to take up a seat and a half. With the extra size of his pauldrons, which were half as large but just as round, he alone took three seats. The arms were as thick as the legs, and his metal fingers so large that his holo-phone fit nicely between three of them. The whole thing was a dark blue, accented with some silver and yellow streaks. A small American flag was branded into the shoulder.

His was certainly more extravagant than Eitan’s. He was quite small by comparison. His E-Suit was a deep green color, accented by brown, with hoof-like boots. It had no obvious stand-out features. The only thing Eitan had put much detail into was the helmet, with the small boxes on either side of the eye that contained various interchangeable lenses and small, horn-like points. That, and the massive sniper rifle he kept at his back.

Eitan quite liked the minimal design. It was quickly equipped and rather comfortable. Still, when he saw the massive form of the American, he felt a little ill equipped. He did feel better seeing Anna, however. Though he did wonder why she only brought the jacket she wore over her E-Suit. And why wouldn’t she lower the hood?

“It’s not a garbage truck.” Tommy said, wounded and defensive. “This, my friend, is a walking arsenal! I’m armed to the teeth!”

Anna rolled her eyes. “Right. Because you’ll need all of that on a patrol.”

“You never know!”

Eitan sighed. He wished he had installed a music system of some kind into his helmet. Not that he had much of a music library. Or anything to keep it on. So, much to the testing of his patience, he sat there, listening to the two bicker for the next five minutes. When the train came to a stop and the announcer declared they had arrived in the Israeli Sector, Eitan had to keep himself from running to the exit.

After spending the last two months in the black and glowing blue maze of the Central Sector, the familiar site of the Israeli Sector was a huge breath of fresh air. Square buildings the color of sand with slanted orange rooftops stood in stark contrast to the titanic black walls surrounding it on all sides. A few tall green pine trees dotted the landscape, along with the occasional black-peaked tower. It was made to mimic the Israeli architecture of old, but it was all too smooth and clean to look even a decade old.

Behind him, Tommy squeezed out of the door, rattling the entire cart as he struggled to exit without breaking anything. Anna stepped out after him, shaking her head and sighing. While the walking tank examined the train for any trace of damage, Anna scanned the landscape with raised eyebrows. She whistled.

For some reason, that made Eitan swell with pride. That’s right. His home was a sight to behold. It wasn’t some technical marvel or a complex of glass towers. But it was beautiful all the same.

It was then that he realized that neither of them had recognized him yet. He couldn’t blame them. It wasn’t like he had shown them his E-Suit designs. The three of them weren’t exactly friends; at best, they were associates. Maybe not even that. Their only real conversation had been in the last test of the entrance exam.

Not that that conversation had any real meaning behind it. Eitan thought. That made him feel a little sad for some reason. But he didn’t have time to worry about it. He had to check in on his family first.

So, without a word, Eitan left the two behind at the station, darting off into the city. He avoided the route through the center of the sector, even though it would be faster; the crowd made him uncomfortable. Instead, he moved through the back alleys and side roads, where only a few stray wanderers or homeless people stood in his path. Before, he had always felt nervous when walking these roads. But with an E-Suit, he was confident that no one would bother him.

All the while, his thoughts went rampant in both excitement and anxiety. He’d been away from home for too long. His siblings were good kids, especially for their age. But there were eight of them. Their mother was only one. He could only imagine the stress she must have been under in the last few months. Especially with their ever escalating debts and ever persistent collectors.

I just need a few more weeks. Eitan thought. Surely they’d give him that much, right? They’d already given them… what? Two years? Three? How long had it been since his father left?

The thought of him filled Eitan’s chest with an uncomfortable heat. He didn’t have many fond memories of that man. Whenever he remembered him, all that came up were memories of a drunken gambler. Then, out of nowhere, he had ‘found God’. Not a day later, he was gone. Packed his bags and disappeared, leaving Eitan and his mother alone to raise eight children and clean up his many messes on their own.

Eitan shook his head. Better not to think about it. No good would come from remembering, anyways.

With the blinding speed given to him by his suit, Eitan found his way home in just under ten minutes. It was a small square building, made from a pale yellow stone. There were a few small windows dotting the surface, but otherwise it was very normal.

Eitan frowned. Why is it so quiet?

He scanned the yard. Toys were scattered all over the yard, left abandoned. That filled him with a sense of dread. His younger siblings were wild, but they had manners enough to clean up after their play time. Their mother made sure of that.

With a painful dread, Eitan took off his helmet and knocked on the door. There was no answer. He knocked again and waited. Still, no answer. He reached down and tried the knob, despite knowing it would-

The door was unlocked. Fear leapt up into Eitan’s throat like a toad. He shoved into the house in a blind panic. The emerald glow illuminated the dark room, revealing the small couch set before a chest-sized holo-screen, the kitchen on the opposite end of the room, and the stairs leading upwards between the two. Everything was as clean as it could be, with no signs of damage. But the silence hung on Eitan like a snake coiling around his throat.

He bolted up the stairs with all his speed, nearly putting a hole in the wall as he stepped into the second floor. All five of the beds were as messy as ever, blankets and pillows being strewn about the room. His panic grew into terror.

Then he saw it. Laying on the smallest bed on the far end of the room. A small white piece of paper. He frowned. Why would someone write a note with pen and paper? Slowly, as if something might spring up and attack him, he crossed the room, lifted the page, and began to read.

Aila. The note read. If you’re reading this and we’re not back, stay still.

Relief flooded through Eitan. He had imagined one of their debt collectors had finally decided to put their foot down. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. His youngest sister had just gotten lost.

Oh dear God my youngest sister is lost!

With that, he slipped his helmet back on, bolted down the stairs and outside, and dashed into the city with all the speed he could muster.

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