A crowd gathered in an open pedestrian area in the distance, causing a commotion. This drew Drake’s attention. He went there to check it out. Ten or so people were gathered in a circle around an obese middle-aged man, who held a woman hostage with a knife pressed to her throat. Some people awkwardly tried to negotiate with him, while others were discussing what they should do.
“Should I actually run and go get the police?” One man said
“What good would that do?” Another said. “They haven’t been trained yet. They wouldn’t be able to handle the situation better than any of us.”
“It wouldn’t hurt,” said a third person. “Go. We’ll keep him distracted until then.”
The first person sprinted away, cursing the city’s lack of communication devices.
Drake, meanwhile, was in utter confusion. He stepped forward towards the criminal, out of the ring of people surrounding him.
“Hey! Kid! What are you doing?! Don’t move any closer!” he warned, pressing the knife at the throat of his victim. She breathed heavily, and a trickle of blood went down the knife. Drake stopped.
“Step back!” he demanded. Drake didn’t comply.
The crowd yelled at Drake to come back to them. Drake didn’t listen.
He instead yelled at the criminal. “What the heck are you doing?!” He was genuinely confused and enraged at what was happening.
“What does it look like I’m doin’, kid? I’m holding this lady hostage and demanding these guys crowding around to get some authorities so that they can hand over some money in exchange.”
Drake still didn’t understand. “Now?! We’re in the middle of an Apocalypse! We’re the last of humanity! Why are you doing this now? And why instead of helping the city that saved you?! Don’t you feel you owe anything?” Drake turned, “That goes for everyone. Ever since I came here, all I’ve seen were gloomy faces. Why?! Because the Mayhems destroyed everything? Are you all just going to sit there and whine forever?! You have to stop at some point!” More people from around started gathering.
“I don’t know how you got here, kid,” the captor started, with a serious face, “but there were only a few seats on those rescue helicopters, and we all had to do some nasty things to get them.” The others looked away, knowing what he meant. Remembering the terrible things they had done to get on the helicopters made them uncomfortable. “You know, I had to kill in order to get my seat. I’m sure there are others like me right here. We’re all filthy criminals. But we’re unfortunately the ones that got to live. The good men of this world are all dead.”
Drake’s mouth opened. He closed it, thought for a few seconds, and opened it again. “So, you’re saying that just because you’ve done bad things before, you can continue to commit crimes?”
He gave some thought “I guess, yeah.” He looked down, sadly, “The stuff I’ve done can’t be forgiven… And that goes for everyone here. They can’t just act like victims.” He glared at the crowd. There were about forty people here now. No one challenged the claim. It would seem he was right about the citizens.
Drake thought for a moment. He still didn’t get the thought process of the man he was talking to, but he spoke his mind loud and clear. “We were all given a second chance in this city. Sure, we’ve all done things we regret, but can’t we put that behind us and move on? Those people died so that we all could live. Can’t we give meaning to their deaths, and fight for humanity in their place?” he looked at everyone, “We can’t fight each other and live in isolation like this. There are enemies threatening our existence! When you think about those creatures, doesn’t it fill you with anger?! At all the things they took from us?”
The crowd couldn’t relate, but they understood what he was saying, realized he was correct, and glanced down with a sense of guilt.
Drake lowered his voice and talked to the criminal now. “I still don’t get why you’re doing this, but can’t you lay down your weapon and work with the rest of humanity to fight against the common enemy? I’m sure everyone here would forgive you.” He extended his hand.
The aging man thought for a few silent minutes. He looked around at people who would rather forgive a criminal than go back to using violence and distrust. “You know, kid… I’m not really doing this for the money. Ever since I got here, I got the chance to think of my previous actions and look at society here. I don’t regret what I did to survive. That’s what I hated about myself. At one point, I didn’t want to live anymore and tried to commit suicide, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the same will to live that kept me alive until now. Looking back, there was no way this plan would have worked out. I probably figured a monster like me at least belongs in jail. I didn’t care what happened to me anymore. I just didn’t believe I belonged in this society, and what it represents. I think that’s why I did this…”
He looked at the hand. “But what you said made a lot of sense to me. All those people that died… I want to show that I was worth their deaths. I would hate myself even more if I don’t.” He let go of the hostage, who ran into the crowd. They comforted her.
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking at the woman. “I’m sorry,” he repeated, this time for everyone there. “I really didn’t mean to hurt anyone. If you all really are willing to forgive me, then I would like to work with you all as a fellow representative of the human race, and live for the sake of all those who couldn’t.”
Drake took his meaty hand, “Good!” He looked around, “I hope you all got over it, too. We all have to put in our effort. Spread the word. Let’s all work together! Fight! Take back our world!”
The crowd was unsure how to respond, but they seemed cheered up compared to earlier. They were more relieved that the situation came to a peaceful conclusion, and they didn’t have to get involved. The victim seemed unhurt. She just needed some time to get out of shock.
“Thanks for that… I needed a wake-up call,” the man said. “I’m Joseph Striker. You can call me Joe.”
“Drake,” Drake said, shaking hands.
At this point, the police arrived with the person who ran to get them. They were understandably quite confused, but also relieved once they found out what had happened. They thanked Drake, who dismissed their praise modestly. It was nothing to him. He just said his mind without really thinking of the consequences, which made him feel a bit guilty now.
The police handcuffed Joe and took him into their custody. They didn’t know what to do with the victim. Before they left the scene, Joe told Drake: “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, but I promise that, however I end up, I will try to work to better this society.” He looked at the poor victim, “Once again, I apologize. I don’t expect you to forgive me, but I will try to make it up to you one day.” With that, everyone went their way, and Drake was alone again.
Drake clutched his necklace. The whole incident suddenly made it crystal clear to Drake who his real enemy was; it was the one thing he despised most in the universe: Mayhems. Humans could be reasoned with. They usually have motivations and a conscience. But those things, on the other hand, killed all mercilessly and without any reason.
Drake remembered Steve telling him that he had to get a job in the city and become self-sufficient. After some thought, he resolved his mind. He was going to join the Defense Militia, and fight the Mayhems that had stolen his world…