After beating up Benson and his acolytes, Atriya felt empty and ill at ease. The sergeant was an unrestrained liar, too often ineffective in the field and a limpid scumbag in general. Paradoxically this transparency made him somehow forgivable. What other choices did Benson indeed have? How could he act any different? He was merely following the role models that the Crew had given him. Atriya on the other hand should know better. Verus hadn’t spent all this time for him to act like a Benson. And Atriya was part of the system as well, thrashing them was like thrashing himself. It might be the right thing to do, he had his fair share of unfair and unjust acts, but it felt too schizophrenic. Anyway, reducing himself to pulp wouldn’t bring any more good than pounding on Benson. Temporary satisfaction at best. Long term negative consequences were obviously to be expected. The algorithms driving Benson and his clones certainly didn’t include pardon for beatings received, only self-indulgent rapture for the ones given.
The whole situation reminded him of this quote he had found in Verus’ notes recently. It had been written by a genius named Søren Kierkegaard, more than one thousand years ago: «The most common form of despair is not being who you are.» Fighting these men with his fists was not who he was. Or not who he wanted to be at least. Verus would add that it was also not who he was meant to be. That he didn’t know. When she started talking about destiny, he was always loosing grasp. But he knew he had to look for redemption. This voice had always been present within him, he now recognised it, and it had grown impatient. What had been hints and nudges before, was now a very tangible urge.
He instinctively understood that the selection and training he had been through as a Candidate for the Crew, what he had thought to be hell on earth, was nothing more than a joke compared to what lay ahead. A few years ago he had seen the Crew as the ultimate frontier. He had hardened for sure, but in the end body aches were nothing compared to the torments of the soul. He would now have to become as devout and fanatic as the Jury if he was to accomplish Verus’ vision. Atriya sadly didn’t see any other way. He had to go deep inside his own pomegranate hell, hoping to maintain enough awareness to find the returning path.