Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 12

            "What do you mean you're not going to do it?!"
            The prediction that Daniel would not be happy with the  decision was definitely correct; in fact, such mild language was an understatement. Daniel wasn't just unhappy, he was angry or furious or enraged. A vein bulged on his forehead as he continued to yell at Raven, Midas and Leopold. The sad part was that Leopold only found the whole thing vaguely amusing. Some people had the ability to scare when they were angry; it was almost like thunder clouds hovered over their heads and the whole world got a little darker. Daniel was not like this. Livid was the word that Leopold finally settled on. It implied anger and frustration but visually had connotations of bulging blood vessels and a face so red that it looked ridiculous. As far as Leopold was concerned, Daniel met all of these criteria.

            "Not once have we welched on a job," Daniel was saying. "This one action is going to destroy the reputation we spent years building. What possessed you?"
            "With all due respect, sir," Raven said. "We just didn't feel that this job was right for us."
            "Right for us?" Daniel shouted. "Anything for the money; that's our motto, right? If it pays, how could it not be right for us?"
            "With all due respect, sir, do you even know what this job is about?" Midas asked. "Killing the horse will start a war."
            "So what?" Daniel asked. "'Anything for the money' doesn't make exceptions for starting wars. We'll be long gone before anything goes down, so how does it concern us?"
            "I've gotten to know some of these people," Midas said. "I've seen how hard they work, I've seen the lives they lead, I know what war does to people, even the winners, and I don't think it's fair to them to push them into one."
            "Did I just hear you say you think?" Daniel retorted. "Do you get paid to think? No! You get paid to swing a sword and hit things. You're the group's brawn, not its brains. If something can't be fixed by brute force, I don't want to hear from you."
            "Well, I'm supposed to be the brains, so hear me," Raven said, stepping forward. "This makes perfect sense in a business sense, I get that. Start a war and there will be constant business from this sector. But starting this war will condemn Baroness Maria. She will lose and what then? Have you seen how she cares for these people? She even has a house for orphans. What does that tell you?"
            "It tells me that orphans will die in this war," Daniel answered. "Orphans will also be made when their parents are killed. Basically, a lot of people will die. That's not our concern."
            "Sir, if we're starting it, how is that not our concern?" Midas asked.
            "I know it doesn't make sense to you because you're barely capable of higher thought processes!" Daniel said. "That's why I gave you a single thing to remember: Anything for the money. But apparently you can't even remember that much!"
            "We understand your stance, but what about our opinions?" Raven asked. "What about when we disagree with you?"
            "When you disagree with me, your opinions don't matter," Daniel said. "I sometimes forget that you are still children, but the fact of the matter is that you aren't yet adults. There are things that you do not understand."
            "This seems pretty straight-forward to me, sir," Raven said. "There is nothing here that we don't understand, just a difference of opinion."
            "You would say that," Daniel shot back. "You're too young to understand everything there is to consider."
            "Enough!" Leopold had been silent throughout the entire conversation. As a master of stealth it was his practice to not speak unless necessary, but he could contain himself no longer. "Daniel, you have belittled and disrespected my brother and Raven, and I have had enough of it. You can argue until you're blue in the face, but ultimately it doesn't matter what Midas thinks, it doesn't matter what Raven thinks, and it sure as heck doesn't matter what you think. I'm the assassin here and frankly, I'm the only one in this room who could possibly kill the horse. Without me, nothing is going to happen, so anything you have to say, you can say to me."
            "Very well, what is your problem with this?" Daniel asked. "I thought we were agreed on this. Anything for the money, right?"
            "There comes a point in a person's life when they see the pain and suffering that they can cause," Leopold said. "They see how they are exploiting others to make money, and then they have a choice. They can either continue the exploitation, continue to be a source of pain and suffering, or they can change their ways. I know what misery I can cause just to earn a little bit of money, and I will not be party to that."
            "So you're an assassin with a conscience," Daniel said thoughtfully. "You're all assassins with consciences. This isn't a profession which allows for that luxury."
            "And yet we have them," Leopold said. "I'm not here to say they'll stick around forever, but for right now, we will not do this job."
            "Well, I don't like it, but if you're determined to not do this job, we won't do it," Daniel said with considerably more calmness than he had had since the conversation began. "Whatever we do, we do as a team, so I'll get behind you on this one. The question is, where do we go from here? How do we pay the bills if we aren't doing the job?"
            "We are getting paid by the baroness," Raven offered. "It's nowhere near as much as the contract would have paid, but it's a start."
            "That plus the half of the money we got up front," Midas added. "Half is better than nothing."
            "It would be if we were going to keep it," Daniel said. "We have to return it. Our reputation is already going to take a hit, but we can minimize the impact by giving the money back. We don't take payment for a job we don't complete. That's just good business."
            "I'll give it back to him, then," Leopold said. "He already met me, so I can do that without giving away any more information than need be."
            "He'll know we're in residence if you do that," Midas pointed out.
            "Come on, brother, you don't think I would walk up to him in broad daylight and hand his blood money back, do you?" Leopold asked. "Give me a little credit. I'll give it back to him tonight. Sneak it into his room without anyone noticing. That's what I'm good at, after all."
            "Then it's decided," Daniel said. "We will officially drop the job and give the money back. Just to make sure everyone understands fully what is going on before we do this, you do understand that we won't be able to get a good job for a while, right? We'll have to take some low paying, demeaning, and even ludicrous jobs, at least for the near future."
            "So be it," Raven said. "We can handle some undesirable employment, just not this job."
            "Just so long as we're all on the same page," Daniel said. "Leo, you'll give the money back tonight. Wait until the baron leaves, plus a few days, before you leave. I'll go tonight looking for another job. Hopefully I can find something lucrative before news of this gets out. Though that will be harder now that you lot have consciences."
            "You do a good job at that, Daniel," Raven said. "If anyone can find us a good job, it's you."
            Raven led Leopold and Midas out of the room, but just as they reached the door, Daniel stopped them.
            "By the way, as to what I said before. It wasn't fair of me, and I'm sorry I said it."
            "Don't mention it," Midas said. "We know you were upset. It's understandable."
            "Oh, one more thing," Daniel said. "When you three get over your consciences, let me know. Then we'll be able to make some real money again."

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