I’d been a little suspicious of Natch and the others since they arrived, but they seemed to be working for the better. Their convoy had been more than helpful, and we’d restocked pretty much every kind of supply we were lacking. The others were obviously pleased, but I couldn’t help feeling like I’d let everyone down, that if I’d done things differently then we might not have been in such a bad shape. Christ, that I wouldn’t have gotten someone killed on my first day in charge.
Wherever the three of them went, they seemed to fix any problems we had. Natch was definitely a better leader than I was, and it showed. Slowly, but surely, I started losing control of the tower. Robin, Maria and Scott still stuck by me, but most of the others seemed to drift towards Natch and the others. And I didn’t like it. I just couldn’t bring myself to believe what they’d told us about finding no other survivors. I didn’t trust how well prepared they were, even if most of the things they’d found had obviously been scavenged.
As for Natch himself, he was more than aware of the gradual shift in power. He flaunted his ever increasing status around me, and starting taking charge of supply runs. The first I’d know about them would be when I’d see people heading for the Hummer. “Don’t worry, LT, we got this” he’d say, the smirk in his voice clear. ‘LT’. I hated that nickname. No one else could see it, they just thought it was Natch’s lazy way of saying ‘lieutenant’, but we both knew it was him mocking me. Mocking the fact that I couldn’t do shit to stop him, despite being a higher rank than him. Bastard.
Eventually, it just sort of happened. Someone had come to get me, I don’t remember who, and led me off to one of the larger apartments to find everyone gathered inside. Natch stood in the centre of the room, with Rainer and Grovesnor not far behind. They’d invited me there to witness a diplomatic decision from the others to put Natch in charge, instead of me. I didn’t bother trying to change anyone’s mind, just walking out once they were done stabbing me in the back. After everything I’d done, the countless nights I hadn’t slept to make sure everyone was safe, the risks I’d taken… After all that, they were willing to kick me out that quickly?
“No hard feelings, eh, LT?” Natch asked me later that night.
I was on guard duty, and had shut myself up in the guard room. I think I’d heard someone say Kat was cooking that night, and I didn’t know what to expect, since she’d never cooked before. Usually whenever Robin or me had guard duty, the other would sit in with them. We usually played poker to pass the time, but Natch had Robin running some errand that night. I knew Robin didn’t like Natch all that much, but I think he enjoyed being given more responsibility. I trusted him, don’t get me wrong, but… I guess I was treating him like he was fragile. The same goes for Riley. Before all this, if I’d run into them in a bar, I’d have gone the other way, done my best to avoid them, but now… Now the idea of them not being around was an idea that upset me.
“No hard feelings” I lied, smiling faintly.
“If it was down to me, I’d keep you in charge but you know how it is, gotta give the people what they want”
“It’s fine, Natch. Really”
“Listen, we’re heading out on a supply run tomorrow. Figure it’s easier to keep things in stock when you already have plenty, right? How ‘bout you come with us?”
“Who else is going?” I asked curiously.
“Just me and Grovesnor”
“Why ask me? Why not Rainer?”
“I think we got off on the wrong foot, y’know? I guess I’m asking for a fresh start, is all”
“Sure” I shrugged.
And with that, he left. Nothing else was said about it, other than to rest up once my stretch of guard duty was over, since they were leaving first thing in the morning. I made a note to myself to speak to Robin before we both hit the sack, turning my attention back to the monitors while I waited for someone to bring me up my meal for the night.