Reid let out a shuddering breath, and felt the sudden urge to pee as Magnus whirled on him. He could see the Celestial’s piercing gaze fall upon the handgun, and Reid swallowed hard. He squatted, slowly, putting the handgun back onto the ground and taking a deliberate step away from it.
“And they call you stupid,” Magnus said, barking a laugh.
“What have you done?” a voice said, and Helena emerged from the truck. She covered her mouth with her hand at the carnage and looked like she might weep. She stepped away from Magnus, giving him a wide berth. Reid realized that she was looking upon him the way that a person might look upon a rabid animal. “You mustn’t use what you have for violence! Ever!”
Magnus’s lips pulled back from his teeth. “Even if it means them butchering us in the streets? Even if it means them slaughtering another innocent? You don’t know them, Helena. You don’t know that they are all diseased, and that they need to be put down before it spreads. You don’t know the hatred that they have flowing through them.”
“And you do?” she asked, and despite the defiance in the question, her voice was very small.
“I do.” He looked at the ruined humans, unrepentant. “I know what they have in mind. I tried to persuade them that we had more to offer, that they need not cast us aside, but they are ready to move, and we stand in their way. They will let nothing stand in their way. We’ve taught them our technology, and they lapped it up like thirsty dogs. But our philosophy…” His voice trailed, and he shook his head bitterly. “They have no time for that. They’ll use it against us. It’s how they’ve come to take so many of our brothers and sisters down. They manipulated us. They must be punished.”
But it is not our way, projected a voice, and Reid clapped his hands over his head again, growing tired of these new voices that were taking residence in his mind. He watched as Tiberius stepped crookedly from the truck, limping toward Helena. Sad features etched his face. He opened his mouth. His voice was rusty and broken. “You have been corrupted. You have gone against the plan of your forefathers. It is not our place to punish. It was never our place.”
“You are a fool,” Magnus spat.
“And you are an outsider,” Tiberius replied, and despite his weary voice, potency buzzed in the words, and Magnus visibly flinched. Helena helped Tiberius stand, and his eyes were moist with emotion. “You are no longer of us. You are cast out. You may never return.”
Helena gasped. “Tiberius…no, he must stay with us for the return, he is of us. I beg you to reconsider.”
“Outsider,” Tiberius said, eyes narrow and voice firm. “He is no longer of us.”
“How dare you…” Magnus hissed, but his voice was suddenly weak, and he too, looked on the verge of tears. “There was no other way. Can’t you see that? You would be dead…” He stiffened, his lips trembling. “You would all be dead if it was not for me!” His voice echoed, booming in open space, full of pain and sorrow.
“Begone, outsider,” Tiberius answered in a soft voice. “You do not belong amongst us.”
Magnus recoiled from the words. He slunk away from them, visibly wounded, and his eyes fell upon Reid. “And the subhuman?” he growled. “Will you keep this sniveling idiot? Or will you cast him away? Do you not sense the human nature in him as well?”
“Begone.” Tiberius said nothing else.
Magnus shivered with mourning and rage. He glanced at Reid furiously. You signaled them. You brought them upon us in your stupidity. Cassius is dead. I am cast out. Because of you. When the time comes, I will find you, subhuman. He ran into the treeline, past the crumpled body of the officer, running between the trunks and into the dense foliage beyond. They could hear his footfalls, and in time, nothing else.
When Reid looked back at Tiberius and Helena, he could see that she was straining under his weight. He rushed to her side to help, and both of them leaned Tiberius against the overturned truck. A grayish pallor shrouded his features. Reid noted that his midsection seemed dented. He wasn’t sure what that meant, but he had a good idea that it couldn’t mean anything good.
“The truck is of no use,” he wheezed, and he pointed toward the patrol car with his chin. “We will have to remove that unfortunate soul from the windshield and use the patrol car. It is the only way of covering significant enough ground.” He smiled weakly at Helena. “It will be a tight fit for us, I’m afraid, but it will have to do.”
“Of course,” she replied, looking upon him with pity.
They pulled the windshield from the car, mostly with Helena’s telekinesis, and rested it along the side of the road. The hood was slightly dented in the middle, but it looked to be in running shape. Tiberius looked sadly upon the slain officer that was stuck in the glass – Hopper, his name was Hopper, Reid recalled – and said something soft, like a priest giving a blessing. Reid watched this curiously; after all, the officer would have killed Tiberius without a second thought.
He hadn’t earned any kindness.
“That,” Tiberius said, once he was finished with his soft words, “is what makes us different, kind Reid. Life is far too precious a thing to be snuffed out casually, without thought. To let vengeance control the mind and cause one to lash out is a grievous crime. It is, in most cases, unforgivable.”
“But he killed Cassius,” Reid replied, more confused than ever.
Tiberius nodded. “That he did, and such a crime is a mark on his soul, Reid. But what sort of example is justice if we slay the slayer? Does that not fall contrary to the crime we are wishing to give justice? Repaying death with death only ends in more death. There is no sensibility in such a thing.” He placed a hand on Reid’s shoulder, brotherly. “Your kind believes that death be repaid with death. My kind believes that more death only means more pain. I will mourn Cassius, as shall we all. But there are those, here on this planet, that will mourn these men as well. No death should bring joy.”
Reid said nothing. He supposed it made some kind of sense, but to him it seemed…the best word he could think of was incomplete. He watched as Helena helped slide Tiberius into the back seat, helping him lower his head. She, too, had to duck and twist slightly to fit into the front seat. Reid went to the driver’s side door, and shivered, not knowing what to expect next.
He sensed amber eyes watching him from the trees, and he swallowed hard. No matter how hard he tried to block out the thoughts, they came pouring in, burning like acid on his mind.
Oh, yes, I will find you subhuman. I will not forget what you brought upon us. I will find you.
And I will kill you.