Guiltless

On the 11th of January 1937 Johnathon Ignes is born. He is a suitable weight, in good health...but different from all the other babies in the ward, because he is born immune to guilt. 2 years and 235 days later, worldwide war breaks out.
Sent away as an evacuee, Johnathon grows up away from his mother, and meets Erebus, a cheeky paperboy. Erebus too, has no guilt, and under his influence, Johnathon grows up into a monster.
This is the story of how that monster, became a leader.
- The prequel to 'Souls' (but will make sense if you haven't read it) -

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74. Chapter 73

After that day the leaders all gave Angelica space to grieve, and Eloise began her hunt for a new worthy leader. Meanwhile Felicity’s deputies took over, trying their best to calm everybody down, but there was no hiding the devastation...fear infected good people and all anyone could do was sit back and watch as the rebel count increased. With Eloise still unable to find a suitable successor for Felicity, and a lot to discuss, all the leaders as well as Angelica met up one year later.

12/01/2013:

“I’m nearly thirteen! I can handle this sort of stuff, I’m not a child anymore…” Dmitri whined, folding his arms across his chest.

“You’re a twelve year old boy,” Johnathon corrected him, “This is business between me and the other leaders.”

“Angelica’s coming.” Dmitri pointed out.

“Angelica will be eighteen in april.” Johnathon reminded him, “Besides, I need you to stay upstairs and watch Jasmine.”

“I don’t need watching!” Jasmine yelled from the top of the stairs, rushing down them to join the argument, “I’m eight years old.”

“What have I told you about eavesdropping?” Johnathon shook his head, resting one hand on his temple. “Look...look- I have got a long and most likely draining meeting ahead of me, the last thing I need is to be worrying about the two of you as well. Could you just for once do as I tell you? Just stay upstairs and let me do my job.” Jasmine and Dmitri both muttered ‘fine’ and ‘okay’ under their breath as they walked away and up the stairs, at last leaving Johnathon in peace.

At last alone, Johnathon fell back onto the sofa, taking a moment to simply pause and let his worries leave him. He’d lived through a lot of disaster, he grew up during a war, gone on killing sprees, had a psychopath for a best friend, and watched as his wife died for his son. He knew he’d live through this disaster too, but somehow, that didn’t seem to calm his nerves.

He didn’t have long to relax however, for soon everyone began to arrive. Eloise, Peter, Leo, and Angelica all came through to the living room, spreading out across the two sofas, ready to begin the discussions.

“Well the first matter of business is obvious, the rebels.” Eloise got straight to it, wasting no time with formalities. Johnathon missed the days when she’d thank them all for coming before speaking, time had changed her as it had changed him. “They’re getting bigger and bigger each day, so many people are turning to them instead of us. People are starting to think that the rebels are the entire soul community, that we’re all trouble-seeking killers. It’s giving the hunters more power than ever before...we need to do something to try and stop it, or at least lessen the effect it’s having.”

“The main issue is people think we’re not doing anything about the hunters. We urge people to hide, whilst the rebels strike and take down the hunters face to face. It makes us seem weak, we need to prove that we can take on the hunters too.” Leo gave his thoughts on the matter, shocking Johnathon. Leo wasn’t usually one to jump to violence, but he wasn’t at all joking, he actually wanted them to fight.

“We can’t go to war with them, a battle that big would be catastrophic.” Eloise shook her head, “But you are right in some aspects Leo, we can’t just keep telling people to hide...How about we try and reason with the hunters? Send out a positive message, show them that not all Souls are bad news?”

“How?” Leo leaned in.

“Fund things, anonymously of course, if we donate money to good causes people are sure to see the good in us. We change the public view, the hunters lose power, the rebels lose a cause, and everything calms down. It works in reverse.” Eloise smiled as she spoke, managing to come up with a pretty good plan of action. Looking around the room it was clear that others agreed, it was a safe way to do some good.

“That’s all very well, but without a leader for the Songbirds their won’t be enough order and organisation for any of that to happen.” Angelica spoke up for the first time, not forgetting the side she was representing that evening. Just like that, the mood died down again, another iceberg hit. “Mum always said organisation was key- tidy desk, tidy mind...that was her motto.” Silence hit the room, nobody knew quite what to say after that. Then, out of the blue, Eloise began to grin. Whilst everyone else sat there with grim faces, she was beaming like it was christmas morning.

“You.” She looked at Angelica, pointing at her whilst she spoke.

“What?” Angelica didn’t have a clue what was going on, and neither did anyone else for that matter. They were all sat there staring at Eloise as if she’d gone mad.

“You.” Eloise repeated, “I can’t believe it...it’s been right in front of me this whole time- You. You lead Angelica, take over from your mother. You know her teachings better than anyone! You.”

“Me? But I’m not even eighteen yet!” Angelica reminded her, standing up from her seat.

“I started when I was sixteen.” Leo shrugged, not seeing the issue. God, that felt like so long ago for Johnathon- Leo was forty-four, and his teenage years felt like a lifetime ago.

“Angelica, you care about the Songbirds, you understand what they both want and need, and Felicity taught you everything you know. If anybody can follow in her footsteps, it’s you...and I just know you’ll make her proud if you say yes. Go on, do it for her Angelica, I know you’re the rightful leader.” Eloise too stood up, trying desperately to convince the young adult of her full potential. Angelica leaned away from her, turning around to take a few deep breaths, obviously (and understandably) this was a lot for her to take in all at once.

“You really think I can?” Angelica checked, still facing the wall.

“There is no doubt in my mind.” Eloise promised.

“Then, well- I suppose I-I, I will.” Angelica agreed, turning around to face them all.

“Excellent!” Eloise clapped, her face spreading out into one wide grin, “Now we have five leaders, and a plan of action...what could possibly go wrong?”

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