Marcus Farrel returns. But will the rebellion finally take off when such a great hero in the lead? Or are things just a bit too complicated for the precense of one man to change?
The bar was empty. It shouldn't have been. It was a little after ten and the residents of Puerto Angel usually frequented it anytime up to about two in the morning.
Cortes was the only one there. The rest of Puerto Angel were outside in the town square. They were having a party. Why? Because three days ago Marcus Farrel had finally returned. Cortes had nothing against Marcus. He'd led the original rebellion, quite successfully, at least up until that fateful day when everything had gone so wrong.
That is, he'd had nothing against Marcus until he'd returned. All of a sudden, Marcus was back, and to Puerto Angel that meant that the rebellion would blossom into the entity it had once been. After all, it just needed the right man, a real hero, to take the shreds that were left and restore them. Then they would defeat the Sphere and Skyland would be free.
That was the story that was going around anyway. Those that told it seemed to miss the fact that every time they did they discredited everyone who'd tried to free Skyland in the last twelve years. There were a few who did realise. They didn't seem to care, as they were the ones who'd consciously decided that those who'd tried to free Skyland in the last twelve years were not succeeding.
Cortes would've been blind not to realise that his position had never been totally accepted, not by everyone. Marcus had led a rebellion that the Sphere feared. A rebellion that had incited a full scale retaliation, one so large it had almost obliterated it. The rebellion Cortes led spent it's time attacking largely undefended Sphere ships, hiding and obtaining enough water to simply survive. They were referred to as nothing more than pirates. A term that meant they were an annoyance. It'd be nice if the Sphere could rid themselves of them, but they were hardly a threat. Who could blame people for thinking Marcus would do a better job? History said he had. Up to a point. Only now, he wasn't dead and he could pick up where he'd left off.
That's what had been getting to Cortes up at the party. He'd gotten to the point where if anyone had made the mistake of saying anything that insinuated he should hand over to Marcus, he would've decked them.
Then Dahlia had bounced up to him. Dahlia didn't normally bounce. Cortes didn't remember what she'd said to him. But he did remember that look in her eyes. It was hope, pure and simple and childlike. And it was because Marcus was back and that meant something she had worked so hard for - the freedom of Skyland - would soon be achieved. He'd only seen that look in her eyes once before, and that was when Mahad had first found and flown the Hyperion. When she'd thought Marcus was back.
He'd left after that. He could've stayed with the rage, but Dahlia had totally wiped that out. What it left behind, Cortes couldn't deal with in the middle of a party.
She'd left him with doubt. So now he sat at the bar, staring at his drink, and wondering if handing over to Marcus was the right thing to do. Everyone else seemed to think so, whether they realised it or not.
A part of him knew he wasn't thinking with his head. That look in Dahlia's eyes had unnerved and upset him and it was putting the doubt into his mind. Either that, or the doubt had been there for the past few days, or longer, and she'd simply shut down his anger long enough for him to find it.
The other part of his mind kept spitting up the fact that the rebellion Marcus had led had been far more successful. And that everyone thought he could do a better job. Maybe they were right.
Cortes squeezed his eyes shut and tried to reorder his thoughts. He had to do what was right for the rebellion, but he was having serious problems figuring out what that was.
He heard the doors to the bar swing open and someone walk in and stop. "I thought everyone was still at the party..."
Cortes opened his eyes, but didn't look up. He recognised the voice. It'd changed since he'd last heard it all those years ago, but the past few days had engrained it in his mind again. "Hello, Marcus."
He could hear the man pausing. Like he would in any battle, he was holding back his first impulses and weighing the situation. The footsteps started again and Marcus came and sat on the stool next to him.
Cortes passed him a glass of water - the bartender was up at the party.
Marcus took it silently and took a drink before speaking. "They're really excited up there."
"They've finally got some hope. They have a right to be."
"So... how come you're not up there?"
Cortes glanced across at him. "You know parties aren't exactly my thing." He knew Marcus wouldn't buy that, and would most likely get around to the real answer later. That is, he had to remind himself, if he was still the same man he'd known twelve years ago. "What about you? It is your party."
Marcus gave a wry smile and snorted. "You wouldn't think they'd give me a party. The rebellion all but failed. And I ran away."
"You didn't run away. The Sphere report was that the rebellion had been obliterated. Marcus Farrel never ran away from a fight."
"That's what they say, huh?"
"Among other things."
"Yeah, well I bought that report. I thought my kids were dead, and now I've missed half their lives."
The conversation paused. "They also say," Cortes continued, "that if Marcus Farrel were still around the rebellion would finally have a chance of succeeding."
"Ah... Well, I did it once. But then I broke it."
"The Sphere broke it."
"You fixed it."
Cortes snorted. "You call this fixed?"
"It's better than what I did."
Cortes glared across at him. "When you led the rebellion the Sphere was scared. They thought you could defeat them. That's why they destroyed it. After twelve years there is still no hope in hell that we could defeat the Sphere. It's obvious, and everybody knows it. Why do you think you just being here gives everybody so much hope? There's nothing that was worth hoping in before!" He looked back down at his glass.
"I'd rather they didn't hope at all, than hope in something that couldn't live up to their expectations."
"What, like the prophecy?"
"Apparently, your kids are the ones who are supposed to fulfil it now."
"Maybe they will."
"Perhaps. They're good kids. Or maybe the rebellion will just crash and burn again. And then what will they hope in?"
"That's the problem with prophecy. And legend."
"At least legend is based on some sort of fact."
Marcus finished his water, and then looked at the glass in his hand. "And a lot of it is just people looking for something to hope for."
"Maybe they're right. You might be someone worth hoping in."
"And what you and everyone else have accomplished in the last twelve years isn't?"
Cortes didn't answer for a moment. "Look what you did," he said finally. "Look what we've... tried to do. Then try telling me you don't think you could've done a better job."
Marcus sighed. "You know, I think we both have the same problem..."
"And what would that be?"
"We're both being forced to live up to the legend of a man... and I'm not sure if that man even existed."
Cortes didn't answer again.
"No ones going to be happy unless we become what they want us to be," Marcus continued, staring down at the bar, "or at least defeat the Sphere."
"The last bit is what's going to count," Cortes looked across at Marcus. "You think you can do it?"
Marcus looked back at him, a grin playing at the corners of his mouth. "We can sure as hell try."
Cortes nodded and looked back at the bar.
"Hey, I'm going to need your help with this. Marcus Farrel never made the rebellion what it was by himself. And he certainly couldn't have made it what it is today in twelve years."
"Yeah, alright. Enough with the pep talk," Cortes couldn't help half-smiling.
The conversation paused, and both men sat in silence for awhile.
"You know what?" Marcus finally said. "I think I might go and find my kids..."
"Don't let me stop you."
"Right. And, hey, thanks for looking out for them for me." Marcus jumped off of the stool and strode out of the bar.
Cortes watched him go, and couldn't help thinking that he wasn't walking out of that bar like a man of legend. He was walking out like a man who couldn't wait to find his kids and just talk to them.