Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Counselling Of Others

When the doors cracked open on the office the sense of excitement and purpose was as palpable as the smoke billowing out.

He was glad that from this point on it would be carried by people who could inspire others, people like Ben and Maia, leaders with a talent for inspiring others. A skill Tom knew he himself did not possess, but he knew how to challenge the right people and they would do the rest.

From the Guild office, these people would carry the enthusiasm to the rest of the crew and from there, the Doc hoped, the mission would spread in its way through their channels and form new paths into the Badlands.

As he imagined the Badlands becoming more cohesive, more focused on a sense of itself he realised he was not he fountainhead, his inspiration had not even been at the meeting.

After some more cajoling and more questions from Jimmy and concerns from Maia he shooed them out and returned to the office where he found that Ellen was still holding her seat.

“Ellen, I know the Prince Gable angle is a big deal, but you can handle it. Let’s run over the details shall we?” Tom sat at the desk, ready to field her questions and allay any doubts she might have.

“I know what I have to do, I’ve already been laying the groundwork for a meeting with Malkom since you came back from the Emirates a season ago Tom. What I don’t know is why Kain and Sam weren’t here.”

He faulted himself for his initial lack of tact and patronising and reminded himself that he was speaking with one of the smartest and keenest members of the Guild. One, he was only too late remembering, always ready to challenge him when she didn't approve if his actions.

He resisted his instinct to light his last cigar, knowing it would calm him, but also knowing she would recognise it for what it was, a crutch. He paused a moment trying to gauge what level of honesty to use.

“Ellen, you must know I trust Sam with my life. But to be perfectly honest I’m not quite sure what Sam stands for. I know I can count on him to do what is right.” ‘Mostly’ Tom thought to himself but didn’t say.

“You’ve known him longer than anyone Ellen, you know that Sam does what he does for his own reasons and having him here would have been a distraction from the declaration of principals.”

Ellen’s arms and legs were crossed, she was eased back deep into the leather seat. She was mulling over Tom’s answer, she knew that Sam was hard to understand, his motivations were often opaque but she also knew that Sam was pure and transparent and believed in doing good.

“Just because he doesn’t see the world the way you do doesn’t mean you get to exclude him. He had every right to be here. He’s earned it.” Ellen was angry, but still keeping her voice even.

“I’m sorry I offended you Ellen, but Sam had no business at this meeting and it has nothing to do with earning it or not, it has to do with choosing the right tool for the right job. Sam is not an organiser and Sam doesn’t share my ideology. In fact I think Sam probably doesn’t believe in ideology of any kind and you should know that. So shall we get to the real point.”

“Fine Doctor, why wasn’t Kain here?” She answered. But as she dropped Sam her ire rose.

Tom had expected to have to explain himself to Maia, maybe even to Ben. Now he realised they would have been understanding, but telling Ellen was harder. He had to be concerned not only with his motivations and Kain’s limitations but with Ellen's feelings.

“Kain isn’t here because I don’t know if he would believe in these principals. I think he would see them as overly sentimental. I needed everyone to believe in this, I needed a collective level of energy.”

Ellen nodded. “Un-hunh, and you expect me to accept that pile of barnaby crap?”

Tom met her frank glare and sighed. “Ellen, Kain has a vision, a single minded purpose which gives him focus. I know he agrees with these principals, he should, its thanks to him that I came to them. I get Kain, more so that anyone else, but he’s been out there alone a long time...”

Ellen was shaking her head, her face was contorted with a look of confused disgust.

“Your still not making sense Doctor, your saying Kain believes in this mission with his whole heart and mind. The Regulators would all gladly die for him and the cause. You know that. Are you afraid to be in his shadow?” She was raising her voice and pointing a finger at Tom.

“Ellen you just don’t understand or you don’t want to. He knows how to command troops, but sometime that isn’t the same thing as leading people. He is so focused on his mission that he can’t see that there is more to life. We believe in the same thing, but while I think this requires planting roots he only wants to kill the weeds. I’m sorry, I’m trying to find a delicate way to put this.”

“Then spit it out Tom, don’t coddle me and don’t talk down to me.” Ellen pounced out of her chair and turned her back on Tom to hide the tears pooling in her eyes.

“Do you know why Kain needs me? Why he wasn’t here? What I bring to the mix is more than strategy, I bring something which Kain is incapable of. I bring faith. Faith that there is something worth fighting for beyond guilt and revenge, faith that what we do with our lives is what makes them worth fighting for.”

Ellen stood there a long moment, her back to Tom, but eventually she sat down again. “Maybe Kain is back because he needs us, not for his mission, but to move on, to move past what he’s lost...” She stopped because Tom was shaking his head, his face dejected.

“Kain stays alive because he’s got a mission, he never let it go and if he ever did he would fall apart. The only thing we can do for him as friends, to show we care, is to help him with the Mission. Anything else is...a distraction. And a potentially disastrous one at that.”

Ellen swallowed hard, swiped at her tears and composed herself as best she could. She let Tom’s words sink in. She got up again, more slowly this time. She struggled to say something but could not. Finally she looked at Tom. “I’m glad your back and you’re better Tom.” She said full of genuine tenderness and regret before leaving the office.

He followed her to the lobby beyond, looking for something to say, but could not.

Waiting there was Julie, in easy earshot of the whole exchange. She placed her arm around Ellen and walked her to the door where, over her shoulder, she threw Tom a panged look before they both left.

Tom just stood there. Alone, mute and defeated.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.