This is a chapter from book 2. It is a chapter that will tell a partial story of the days of Sanctuary. It may be a spoiler to those who have not yet read Cataclysm.
Tobias sat at the table. The other three sat in their respective chairs. He was full of ambition and glee at the recent acquisition of power given to him. He was offered a role as one of the five. He looked over at the empty chair and thought of his son. Stuart was always a stubborn kid. He didn’t see that Tobias only wanted him to grow up strong and capable of handling his business. He had to give it to the kid though, he was able to chisel out a nice life here at Sanctuary. Stuart had proven to be stronger than Tobias would have ever given him credit for.
Though he had taken the initiative to begin this place with little more than an idea, Stuart had proven his selfishness, bowing out when his father was taking up the reigns. For that there needed to be some sort of consequence. Tobias had an idea, but wanted to ease the others into the idea.
“It seems as though Stuart had forgone his duty to this encampment. He has chosen to step down. Would I be suffice to say that it was due to me?”
The men all remained quiet, not sure how to approach the situation. Finally, Elliot cleared his throat to speak.
“Stuart felt that given your past that the two of you would not be fitting to govern aside one another.”
“He offered to step aside for the betterment of Sanctuary. We feel that you have the mentality to govern and the fortitude to manage the men with a strong-sturdy manner.” Gunner added. He was a fan of Tobias’ from the first day and Tobias knew it. He knew he had Gunner in his pocket.
“We feel that with your military background that you bring a lot to the table.” Adam counted the merit with his fingers. “You have managed to create a simple order among those who would go out in the Divide. That and your ideas for the training facility had been a great means of improving moral. We can’t ignore that.”
This might be easier than he though. Tobias just had to approach it with ease.
“I am glad that my presence here has made waves, and I am humbled by your praise.” He paused to let that sink in. “Now, I am not one to give favor to anyone. Every man will earn his keep and prove his loyalty or he will be considered unworthy and asked to leave. Stuart is no different. He stepped down because of some fictitious quarrel with me. He stepped down from his post when this place was starting to bear fruit. He will have to prove himself just as anyone else would.”
“What did you have in mind?” Adam asked.
“I have been working on something-an upgrade to the fighting pits. I call it the Gauntlet.”
As Stuart walked along the streets of Sanctuary, his typical morning routine, he couldn’t help but wonder what new changes were coming his way. There was no doubt that Tobias would make some ridiculous changes to Sanctuary and the men would eat it all up. Why would they not? Anything to distract them from the troubles waiting just outside the walls. They would eat it up and Tobias would easily enjoy his slow takeover.
A sound caught his attention and he sped up to investigate. When he rounded a nearby corner Jared and Connor were at it again. Jared stood over Conner, buckled over and grabbing his gut.
“Come on pansy, let’s go!” Jared shouted at the young kid.
“Now, haven’t we had a talk about this before.” Stuart asked. He didn’t wait for an answer before approaching the two. He slipped between the two, staring into Jared’s eyes.
“Oh, it’s you. Didn’t you give up your power? You have no control over me anymore. I was taking young Connor here to the Gauntlet. His loyalty has been questioned and he has an opportunity to show where it lies.”
“What point is that? What could this Gauntlet prove?” Stuart had heard of the Gauntlet. The men had been speaking of it ever since Tobias stepped in at the table. They had not even selected a fifth member, but the plans to move forward on this Gauntlet went through immediately.
“I suggest you watch your mouth. I am not on the council anymore, but I am still in charge of the excursions. Watch your tone or you might find yourself on a long trip.”
“Please.” Jared spat. “You aren’t intimidating anyone, not anymore.”
“If there is another way that you would like to settle this.” Stuart reached up and popped his neck. “I can show you some manners.”
The two squared off, circling one another, getting a feel for the other. After a moment, Jared came in and reached for Stuart. Stuart shuffled his feet and ducked under the grasp, throwing out his arms and shoving Jared to the side. Jared reared on him and came in again, this time with his arm out, a fist swinging in at Stuart. Stuart grabbed the fist and pulled it through, following with his own fist over the exposed arm. It connected with Jared’s jaw and he hollered. Jared and Stuart returned to their circling. Jared thrusted several jabs at Stuart, stepping back and leaning to the sides Stuart avoided the contact. He grabbed the final thrust and spun Jared on his heels. He stepped in and wrapped Jared’s head in a choke hold. Jared flailed about, but was unable to do much. He reached back with an arm and Stuart snatched it up and weaved his arm through it and grasped his own bicep to add pressure. Just then they both heard a loud shout. It was Tobias.
“Gen-Tle-Men! What is it that you two think you are doing?” Tobias stood nearby, his arms crossed between his back.
“He started it.” Jared coughed. “I was trying to take Connor to the Gauntlet when Stuart stepped in, saving his boyfriend.”
“Is this true?” Tobias asked Stuart.
“When I showed up there was more of a beating than an escort.”
“And so you decided to take it upon yourself to take matters in your own hands. Jared was following my direct orders.”
Jared started to snicker when Tobias turned his glare on him. “And you, I have told you to keep your hands to yourself. Stuart is still your superior and you should treat him as such.”
They both started to argue with him when Tobias whistled loudly.
“Both of you will find a spot in the Gauntlet. Show your worth, or you will be asked to leave. Ignore this order and you will see my wrath.” Both men stood still, Stuart was shocked. It hadn’t been a week and Tobias was already making things more like a dictatorship.
Both men started toward the Gauntlet. Stuart knew that there would be some twisted game waiting for him. He had heard the rumors of what to expect, but he would find out that it would be more of a challenge than he could fathom.