Secrat Copé didn't fire back at Father Toucan Veras, as much as he wanted to, and in-fact, he said nothing in-response, offering a nod as substitute. Toucan wasn't the type for negotiating, and Secrat's body felt too battered and wearied from the day's travels to try and make him see reason. The dirt was cool and hard. It was uncomfortable. But he didn't care. With nothing to his name except the muddied clothing on his person and the empty flash in his pocket.
The Sword of Tertius wasn't even in his possession anymore as Veras had taken it to the Trophy Room.
The thief slept on the ground for what felt like an eternity, ignoring the commotion from everybody else around him. To his good fortune, nobody stomped on him or caused him heart-ache. When he awoke, while his clothing was, of course, still filthy, his body felt rejuvenated and reinvigorated.
* * *
The next couple of months expired fast. The thief managed to keep himself without issue or complication. It was different than how he left it. He no longer associated with friends and mostly kept to himself. The rest of the Flux didn't hate him, or at least, he didn't believe they did. Lukas Lewis hated him, that much was clear, but not the rest. The vision of Secrat taking the life of Elson Mans had evidently engraved itself in Lukas' mind. Everyone else hadn't forgotten, but forgiveness came easier to them.
Secrat felt no need to seek forgiveness to any of the Flux. The relationships could be re-established once he had their respect and was considered of high worth. He simply didn't want to risk it. As loveable a personality as Secrat had, it had makes him more enemies than friends.
Lewis didn't talk to him any in that time, but that didn't bother Copé much. He wanted to give him more time to cool off and to allow everything to slowly fall back into place. It didn't happen very fast, but like Father had said, the time away in the Whispey Deserts humbled the thief. That, and the wounds obtained made him feel too weak and fragile to defend himself. He needed the time to heal.
The two months weren't pleasant. Cleaning the shit out from the horse's den was always one of his least favorite chores and having to do it a second time around wasn't any better. He gritted through it, however, and to his surprise, it wasn't the worst activity for him. Oh no, that title belonged to helping the older women watch over the children. They filled silence with witless banter Secrat took no interest in.
* * *
By the beginning of the third month, Secrat Copé finally took the time to add a little more to his abode. He dug out several more feet and before long, the thing started to resemble somewhere livable. Not a house, but more like a cold and uncomfortable cave, but it felt familiar. And it was his.
The hole remained small. His hope of joining the Elite's still hung around, and the idea of digging a whole new home felt too much to bear. His need for necessity soon swayed his judgment and the hole was dug for about five feet around and six feet deep. The hole took him days to dig, with only a few hours dedicated each day.
A bed of leaves and a blanket he'd sewn together while watching after the children. Sewing came surprisingly easy to him. Other-wise, beyond something with resemblance to a bed, his hole was mostly empty. No furniture. Nothing like that. The essentials.
Secrat Copé staggered out of his hole. A night's worth of sleep behind him.
It was early in the morning, but some folk were up and about.
Secrat recognized a woman named Alisuh first of all, an elderly woman, twenty something years Secrat's senior. She smiled at him. It was a polite smile. One that lasted only about a second or two. Darker skin, black hair and a haggard looking face. The woman most likely came from Acera or somewhere near there. Somewhere hotter. She led herself out and away from him. Her job consisted of babysitting after the children, as well as babysitting the younger folk who were supposed to help her.
Copé rubbed his eyes. The taste of dried blood unpleasantly layered his mouth. He had been woken by a nameless man he did not recognize. Presence ordered by Father Toucan. The Thief knew it was about a heist. No details were offered, but Secrat felt it. Or, perhaps, he desired it to be.
Boredom plagued Secrat, a ho-hum lifestyle since returning to the Flux, he craved something more to sink his teeth into.
Secrat stepped by the trees, feeling the dirt between his toes. The trees shaded him from the sun. In the Whispey Deserts, the heat beamed down on him and he couldn't take in a breath without scarfing down sand. Here, he took in the breath and let it leave him. He saw familiar faces as he neared the Trophy Room. Walking side-by-side in conversation, some of them, but Secrat had no interest in that. Instead, all he did was keep his eyes forward and put one foot in-front of the other. As he made it down to the Trophy Room, he saw Father Toucan Veras, who sat, stone-faced, at the desk.
Secrat walked on. Some of the Elite members had already been seated in the chairs before the desk. Three of them. All of them older than Secrat.
Copé walked over to the remaining chair but Lukas Lewis came in-front of him fast. So fast Copé could barely keep from a collision. He managed, however. Secrat looked at Lewis. His go-lucky expressions all a thing of yesterday, he looked cold and cruel, but Copé knew his disposition was a ruse.
A 'tough guy' act meant to accomplish something Secrat couldn't figure out.
Emotions were strange like that sometimes. Copé had no interest in heightening the flame, however. He relented, backing away from the chair and allowing Lewis to take the seat.
Secrat walked over to the corner of the room, off to the side, and leaned himself against the wall. Toucan's eyes went over to him a moment, though, he said nothing. Still, Secrat could have sworn he saw the flicker of a smirk on the face of Father.
Veras sat in his chair. His elbows at his desk, the palms of his hands touching, and his fingers clasped over one another. More thieves poured into the room.
An Elite thief walked over to Lukas Lewis. Long-black hair with whiskers jutting out over the neckline of his dirtied shirt. Overweight, though, not incredibly so, stomach caused by alcohol indulgence above all else.
"Move," the Elite said. The slur in his voice made it difficult to understand.
Lukas Lewis looked up at him, and at that moment, his tough-guy act disappeared. For that moment, he was about to be a scared boy that only wanted to avoid conflict. Lewis leaped out from the chair and up to his feet, moving back and motioning for the man to take a seat. The man obliged, but not before letting out a self-congratulating chuckle on his behalf.