Survivor's Guilt - Page 14

I just could not meet his eyes, but I saw how sad his smile was. “I know,” he said in quiet understanding. “I failed you and your friends.”

I started to protest . . . but only because it seemed polite.

His smile got a little sadder, and he held up a hand to stop me. “No, it's true, I did,” he said gently, but in a tone that brooked no argument. “And we both know it. I did my absolute best for you, so there's no fault, no foul, but that doesn't make it a win either.” He grimaced. “I can't feel good about leaving three people to die, and I don't expect you to feel good about it either.”

I couldn't argue with that, but even though I couldn't explain why, I wanted to say something to try and make him feel better, so I muttered something about “We shouldn't have been there.”

I expected him to reprimand me over that, but he didn't. Instead he just agreed with me. “You're right, you shouldn't have,” he said. “But the ironic thing is that you're alive because you were.”

I looked up at him.

“If you hadn't triggered the alarm when you crossed the perimeter, we wouldn't have even known you were there,” he explained. “We were all a little . . . busy at the time, so it took a while before the Raven had a moment to spare to tell you to get out of there, but none of us were too concerned because that base wasn't slated for activation.”

Tyr sighed heavily at the memory.

“But that . . . thing was so damn fast, none of our other shots even came close, and suddenly it was heading for L.A. and we still don't know why. Best guess is that it went on the defensive to evaluate the threat we posed, and once it decided we weren't one, it focused in on the closest target for whatever it was looking for.”

He let me see the pain in his eyes for a moment, then he closed them.

“And we had to take the shot or lose the city, so I gave the order, and made you and your friends a target,” he whispered, and when he opened his eyes again, the pain was still there, but you almost couldn't see it for the resolve.

“If it makes you feel any better,” he continued. “That was the shot that won us the battle, not right away, obviously, but that's where it started.”

I felt tears starting to burn my eyes, but I ignored them. “It doesn't,” was the only thing I could say.

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