Hiding The Obvious
Chapter 9: Steam City
Location: The backyard of the dormitory
Timeline: Day 4 - Evening
Meager shafts of light cut through the polluted Kanesville sky and illuminated the dusty, crusty yard behind the abandoned dormitory. John Colton was there, trying and failing to load a revolver. He wouldn't be shooting any cans off the fence today, not with his nerves.
Melisande came out to get fresh air. Her time with Harriet was just a short time ago and she was still shivering with rage and confusion. She simply didn't know what to do about the situation or if she could be around let alone trust the bird woman ever again. Hearing the gunfire, she had a good idea who it was. Leaning against the doorway, holding the strange gun that looked like a duck's foot, she forced a cough to allow him to notice her. With all the fear and dread around the dormitories, it was easy to startle someone.
"I finished your gun, Colton." Melisande gave a stressed smile. "Thanks," grunted Colton, as verbose as ever. He pocketed the weapon deep in the folds of his coat. The cowboy's hands were shaking, and he seemed to be staring through Melisande instead of at her. "Hope it won't break next time I murder someone."
She raised an eyebrow, noticing his shaking hands, and responded coolly, "It is not murder if the other is the aggressor. Then it is just the death of someone unfortunate."
"Is Chago a murderer?" Colton asked in all seriousness. "Or just... unfortunate?"
"Of course he is not a murderer," Melisande answered in surprise, "Nor will he be unfortunate. We will get him out. The captain has stated that she will leave no one behind. Unless...you know something I do not on both fronts."
"We're all thieves and murderers, Mel... don't go kidding yourself. Maybe Chago killed those four people, maybe he didn't. Maybe he had a good reason, maybe he didn't. I don't care if he did it and neither does 'Nelia, 'cos she's the biggest thief and murderer of them all." He dragged on a cigarette. "You better hope she doesn't leave him to rot, 'specially if he means anything to you. Right now he'll be screaming, I reckon."
"Thieves and murderers," she whispered. She certainly didn't know much about Chago's past. His military past regarding the genocide he participated in while in the armed forces, but that was only a short time in his life. Still, she was positive he couldn't have done anything like the murders he was accused of and inwardly cringed at Colton's comments about leaving him to rot.
"What do you mean about Daenelia being the biggest thief and murderer?"
Colton managed a lopsided smile behind his cigarette. "You don't know who you're working for, do you? You think 'Nelia's some noble soul sailing the seven skies? Girl's always obsessed with one thing or the other, always has been, an' she'll do anything and say anything to get it. There's only one life means anythin' to her, and that's her own. But she needs people like you an' me to do the dying for her, that's why she keeps us around. Doesn't matter to her what you are or what you were 'fore you joined up. If you're loyal then she needs you, and if she needs you then she won't leave you behind, not if she can help it."
"And if she doesn't need you?"
Colton laughed out two lungfuls of smoke. "Well take a look at me, girl. She made me the man I am today."
"So then why are you here?" Melisande almost added the question of whether she needed him or he needed her, but bit her tongue. "I will say, while I never thought her to be a noble spirit, I still found her actions against Kevin...not so much shocking as appalling. Did you know him?"
"Talked to him a couple of times on the road, didn't really know him. Don't matter if he thought he was doing the right thing. 'Nelia does what she wants. I seen her kill a man for less, but she'll always have her reasons, can always justify it There ain't no council now, is there?" He stubbed out his cigarette on the metal fence. "Maybe she'll be the death of me an' all, but I already had a bullet waiting for me out there. I'm gonna stick around, keep an eye on her. Be a shame if somethin' happened to her while I wasn't looking."
Melisande raised an eyebrow, he clearly hated Daenelia and had his own motives for watching her. Though as long as he didn't try anything as long as she was with the crew, it didn't matter, as unnerving as she found his comments. One comment though dug at her, "Thieves and murderers. Colton, which do you think I am?"
"Both," he read from her eyes. "And maybe worse."
She glared in response, "Enjoy your gun, Colton. I should be going to bed."
As she walked to the door and processed everything, she realized he most likely hadn't killed the amount of people she had, let alone the methods. She turned to him one last time and gave a sad simpered smile before answering coldly, "Perhaps you're right Colton, perhaps you're right."