Seeing how his words seemed to fly over Diana's head, he simply sipped the remaining of his tea while he enjoyed Reyna's dance session. Her naivety did not go without surprises, but the amount was fairly small. Michael did read more, know more and understand more than an average Edinburghian for his fairly humble age. So of course he'd expect people to scratch their heads and turn his gears into a toy
"Well, I agree. You have to keep your hopes high. Of course, there are chances that she won't listen, but hey, if she's such an intelligent individual, she may actually be able to sit down and talk."
It's never too late to present an intelligent person a good-willed argument.
The rest of the night was uneventful, as Michael's fatigue from sleeping on the armchair the previous day soon caught up to him as soon as night fell. So he made his way up to his room to enjoy his bed while he still could. Once Jean told the squad to be sleeping in his uniform, he knew it was probably the end of the stay in this inn. It was fun while it lasted.
The allure of the bed kept him on the mattress for the entire night, even surpassing his normal sleeping time. While in his dream world, it didn't even occur to him that Lucia was sleeping right next to him for the whole night, willing to pay him back the favor when he guarded her on top of Hill 58. She slept after him, and woke up before him. His long-sleeping habit at home was probably resurging now that had happened.
What he woke up to, however, was not the soft call of the girl he dearly likes, but a squeal of terror. Was she in danger?! Michael's eyes shot open at the scream before bolting upright on his bed. Fearing an attack or a bombardment, he instantaneously grabbed his gears, equipment, ammunition, gun and...the mask. Now that someone had called for that mask to be put on, it must have been it. He knew masks were used, perhaps for his tunnel attack, but strangely enough, everybody else also got it. Now it made perfect sense, as that yellow particles of death was slowly creeping into the room. That yellow...he had seen..., no read, it somewhere before.
"Is that chlorine?"
Oh shit...that's not a good thing to be in touch with your lungs.
"Yeah, let's do it. And let's get out of here first."
He could figure out what was going on later. The sound of the coughing and screaming downstairs was simply made even more haunting as Michael tentatively knew what such a gas could do to your body if you inhale too much of it. However, just as he put on his gas mask, to which he had to lay his gun on his bed, he was soon ambushed. Two Imperials. Two...familiar ones. He saw them in the inn just yesterday from now. They were so friendly, perhaps a little too much of an alcoholic to his taste but still, and yet seeing how one of their eyes were completely red, both from the bit of the gas and the terror it was spreading beneath its surreal and semi-transparent body, it brought him a sense of fear as well...and sympathy?
But all of that was by the split second, as the officer quickly demanded his and Lucia's masks. By the revolver in his hand. Now that latter part of sympathy disappeared. The former began to take hold. Give him the mask? Let live? What do you think you're talking about? He'd rather get shot than be let to live, only to die in a violent hellfire. But what could he tell them now? The revolver was on his forehead, and he wouldn't listen to reason. No one would listen to reason this instant, no matter how intelligent he was. Was he to give him the mask now? Then...he'd die. He'd die in this inn. Done nothing. Nothing but leave pain in his mother's heart who was still praying for him to return safely. And Lucia, who was increasingly relying on Michael's wisdom and philosophy to counter Middleton's toxic and morally-degrading ones. She'd be left alone, with no one to defend her now. He'd...die. He...could not.
As the officer's hand was getting closer to his mask, Michael had made up his mind. He'd not die here. He'd not give them his mask undefended. He apologized, but he was going to have to fight for it. His life was his own. His future was his to define. And it would not end with sacrificing himself for a bunch of Imperials.
His hands tightened. He was gonna have to act fast to get that revolver out of his sight. Just when he grip on that mask, it would create an opening. He could do this. He could-
Just before he even got ready to retaliate, the officer was grimacing in pain as he was pushed right back. By Lucia?
That shot would have connected with Michael's head, ending his scared life right there, leaving sorrow in everyone's wake, if he hadn't made that split of half a second's decision to jerk his head to the right. Not even a fraction of a second could describe how close he had come to certain death that moment. But for a cost of surviving that encounter was a deaf ear. He quickly fell on his butt on the soft mattress of the bed, clenching his ears before witnessing the fight before him. Or rather a massacre.
The brief temporary deafness of his ear was over soon before he knew it. And the moment he regained his hearings, the second shot rang out. And on the ground was no longer a person anymore. Or even a corpse per say, from neck up. It was a horrendous muddle of disgust that no one could have imagined coming out of himself. For that time, Michael had just the same expression as that scared Imperial in front of Lucia. Sadly enough for him, the one behind that work was on Michael's side. He was spared from such a brutal death, but a slit of a throat was not a better fate. Two souls, dead in a violent hellfire and depraving pain. For this to actually happen, it would have taken a sadist or a psychopath. And yet...it was from Lucia. The innocent girl from Hill 58. The girl who inspired him to live that day. The girl whom he initially thought couldn't hurt a soul. She was still holding onto that knife, silent in the heat after battle, blood still hot and fresh on the blade.
Her first enemy kill...it couldn't have started any more horrifying than that.
For a while, Michael stood up from his bed, his gun on his hand, and was just looking at the carnage she had just left behind. Now the silence began to creep in again. The silence like that night on Hill 58. Or that cavalry charge. Lucia was still standing there, perhaps also looking at her own work as well. She probably couldn't believe that just happened right in front of her, just as surprised as Michael was. Who could have thought she could be so...monstrous? And yet.
She just protected him. She saved his life there. Without her, he would have been dead.
He called out to her. To see if she even responded to him. But no matter. Michael immediately stepped over the corpses, over to her before he wrapped an arm around her back, over to her shoulder, pulling her briefly into him. To let her know that he was here, not a dead body. That he was here, he was alive, and he was thankful.
He knew they both have to move soon, so he released her after a few seconds. But that few seconds was probably the most precious ones he never thought he would cherish.
"We have to go. Our squad's rendezvousing."