"You have to be strong for me... Okay? Can you do that? I know you can. Hmh?" Charlie asked, his eyes watering just a bit from seeing how afraid his son truly was.
Ryan hesitantly nodded, despite not having let go of him.
"Go and hug your mother. I'll be right back."
"That's a promise."
Ryan let go slowly of him, not taking his eyes off as he quickly stormed to the opposite side, his mother scooping him into an embrace as quick as she could.
"Charlie," Rex said quickly.
The brown-furred husky reacted instantly, standing up and reaching for what he already knew to be offered.
Rex was professionally handing out a shining Sig Sauer handgun by its barrel to his comrade, Charlie quickly taking it and pulling the slider back swiftly.
"Three seconds!" The pilot informed.
"... Ready?" Rex asked carefully before putting on his huge, intimidating metallic helmet.
Charlie just nodded, taking grip from the nearby handle as the machine was about to land.
Small shake and rumble were felt for a mere two seconds, Charlie aiming his handgun to the right side of them, into the sandstorm.
"One... Two... Three." Rex said, raising his glaring, red light glowing weapon, aiming through a scope as they started to advance forward, jumping out of the no more moving vertibird.
"Fucking sandstorm." Paladin Rex muttered quietly to himself, slowly starting to advance forward with Charlie. He briefly spoke to the helmet radio.
"Willis, close the doors while we secure the area. Copy? If anything surprises us, it won't get to the scribe and the kits through that metal."
"Yeah, I got it, Paladin. I'll keep them safe till the sweep. Anything moving this way goes down without hesitation. Count on that.
" The lynx pilot said confidently in the vertibird as he was taking out a huge, electric rifle and starting to spin some sort of handle on the gun's side with his arm.
"Copy that," Rex said.
Willis hopped out of the vehicle with his huge gun drawn out, giving a slight nod at Emily from the outside as he pulled some lever near him.
Emily gave one last concerned look at the distant shade of her husband's back, the husky's frame disappearing into the sandstorm slowly and out of reach of eye.
The metallic doors slowly closed with a flick of a switch... And the silence took over the whole interior of the vertibird, leaving Emily alone with her kits.
For a moment to each three...
The world had disappeared.
It took a few seconds of silence between the two before either started to think about saying something. So far, securing the area was impossible.
The radar was telling next to nothing, the storm was roaring so loud that they could barely hear nothing else. If something would engage in this mess, it would have all the advantage it needed.
All they could do was to hope that luck was on their side.
"... I'm sorry."
Rex suddenly said, heavy tone breaking Charlie's focus as he answered back after a while.
"... I wanted to kill him." The husky said with cold, held in emotion that he felt like he needed to get out.
Rex now stopped walking like the husky's words were a wake up of some sort. Something he had expected coming, wondering if it was there.
Charlie slowly turned to look at Rex, knowing the eyes were staring back at him behind that helmet. He was waiting for an answer. Reaction of any kind.
"... I know you did." Rex said quietly.
"If I would have tried... Would have you tried to stop me?"
"... I... Don't know."
"Just tell me the truth. I want to hear it. After all, we've been through like brothers...
Would have you turned your back on me? To protect Owen? Would you have honored the morals and codes you have followed since you were born in that damn fortress?
If I would have put a bullet in Owen's head right there and then?"
"... Charlie... Most in that room would have turned you into ash before you would have been able to draw-"
"I highly doubt that-" Charlie began arguing.
"You, killing our new elder, in our hall, in front of every Paladin and Scribe present... After he had been chosen as the successor by Simmons himself-"
"It's lies. Simmons, he... Those were not his words. He would have never written any of it."
"It was forged note. A lie. You know how smart he is, how dangerous-"
"Simmons always looked up to him, it is believable that he-
"No. I respected and admired that man. You know I did. You loved him like a father. You know... You know that he would have NEVER chosen that fucking disgusting coward to lead your people."
Charlie said, now fully turning his gaze to Rex and laying down his gun arm.
Rex was looking straight back at him, feeling like he should say his own take on the hostile and disrespecting comment.
"The only reason you are not saying anything back is because you know I am right, Rex. He is not fit to lead. He is the shadow of the man before his position... Everything that we worked for...
After all this war... Blood that we had to spill to save lives. For all these years. US. Not him. And he dares to say that it was all a mistake? That what we sacrificed was for... What? Nothing?"
"... Charlie, what do you want me to say?! Look, I have no love for the man. Yes, he is far from Simmons-"
"Putting it really fucking mildly now, Rex. HE IS A MONSTER-"
"You know the laws of the brotherhood-"
"FUCK THE BROTHERHOOD!"
Charlie had let it out with such fury that Rex had to take off his helmet, so he could look Charlie straight in the eye.
The badger revealed from underneath the metal looked at the hurt, raged husky who was wincing at the sand hitting his face, waiting for Rex to yell at him. But he couldn't.
He understood Charlie's pain. He understood him in most situations no matter what they were. Yet he had to speak out.
"You know I would do anything for you-"
"Let me take his life then."
The sandstorm roared around them, the cold silence hitting between them as Rex was studying the gaze of his best friend, his grim request out of question.
"You would die trying, Charlie. You are the most skilled fighter I've witnessed my whole life... And you know taking out our elder is mission you don't return from alive.
You remember how it turned out for you the first time? Simmons was a man with a golden heart and let you live. But Owen? Even if you would succeed...
Are you going to leave your wife into her fate? She is one of us. What do you think would happen to her? To your children? They are your future, Charlie. You know this."
Charlie knew every word was nothing but facts he couldn't deny. He felt lost. He could get himself out of every bad situation of his life... To outsmart people in every turn.
That is why he had lived this far.
But this time... He lost. There was nothing to be done. All he could do was to suffer his fate. Rex slowly laid his arm on Charlie's shoulder and spoke.
"Don't do something you regret out of hate. The man that I know would never throw away everything he loves for the sake of revenge."
Charlie was quiet, not breaking his gaze away as he asked something with an honest tone.
"... Rex... Do you think I deserve this?"