PART ONE: AMBITIONS AND IDEALS
Leal Grayson’s life had drastically shifted from a season of his highest highs at the height of his career as a Golden-Elite Status Protector to a season of his lowest lows following a dishonorable discharge from service. Leal’s career progression had been halted following the discovery of his decision to use a psychic connection to his evil doppelganger who had been under the service of the vanquished Entity, to gain the upper hand in the Department of Defense’s war for the forces of the light.
Although his fall from grace had been as sudden as it was a cruel fate, he could not so easily forget that he had accrued many blessings in his life as well. He had lost his job as a revered Protector but only his family and a few top dogs at the Protectors’ HQ knew the real reason behind his discharge so he could still find work in the Security field.
Leal had seemingly lost the full trust of his charge but they had been blessed with their second child and although his engagement to Aurora had fallen apart, she was slowly coming around to forgiving him and he had at least moved from sleeping on the couch to then sleeping in their spare guest room.
Since his charge was home on maternity leave, they worked hard at raising their two children together. There were times Aurora even let go of the mistrust she felt towards her Protector and they were just Avery and Dewey’s parents. In those moments, he felt their psychic bond grow the more and he had hope in his heart that it was only a matter of time before the matter of their engagement could be brought back on the table.
Being so close to his charge brought Leal a sense of hope and fulfillment that even his years of service for the Protectors’ Agency had never helped him achieve. In truth, Leal would have been content to spend the rest of his days by his charge’s side but after a while he realized that his presence was less tolerable to Aurora each passing day who was not only raising their children together with Leal but working on a book which would work as a working manual for Travelers as well as doing many projects for the Department of Defense online.
Her drive and tenacity had always been endearing to Leal but in comparison to her zealous work, he felt unworthy to call himself a true partner to her. Furthermore, being near her reminded her of all the things he had forfeited because he had not had the courage to admit how he had been achieving the great fetes he was receiving accolades for at the Department to her.
Driven to prove himself worthy to be called her true partner and as a desperate attempt not to give into the despair of having lost the complete trust of his charge, Leal decided to seriously begin tarmacking for work. He was terrified that a new employer would want to look further into the narrative the Protectors’ Agency had fed the media that he had been discharged for medical reasons but he applied for work to as many security agencies as he could.
After applications had been made without responses being availed to him, Leal was at his wit’s end and had decided to give up on the exercise altogether, studying several courses online with the aim of opening his own private security firm. However, he unexpectedly received a request for an interview from one of the most renowned private militia Agencies known as the Golden Knights.
The interview was conducted online with all the modern analytics tools of Timeline D1 being utilized as was common practice in the Timeline. The one conducting the interview was the Director and heiress to the Agency herself, Miss Elora Edouard, a woman as stunning as she was skillful in the security field.
Leal was nervous but he was able to skillfully answer the questions Elora threw his way. She concluded the interview with a frown on her face but then soon clasped her hands and smiled brightly. “I guess this is the part where I am supposed to say we’ll get back to you but I must say, I am impressed, Mr. Grayson. You have impeccable references and you are very adept at answering interview questions….”
“I am certain that my reputation precedes me so I am sure you know that I am not a woman who is so easily impressed. I believe you would be a valuable asset for the Golden Knights. How soon can you begin working with us?”
Leal was so stunned that he had passed the interview that he hesitated for a while and blinked in disbelief then collected himself and stated, “It would be an absolute honor to work for the Golden Knights Agency, Ma’am. I can begin working right away!”
“I love your enthusiasm. However, I think about two weeks are necessary to take care of all the paperwork and every other formality and so I believe the best day you can begin work is September 28th 2055 from 0700 hrs,”
“I believe that this is in order, Ma’am,”
“Great. I will also go out on a limb and let you know what you are signing up for ahead of time. Our Agency is spread-out throughout across Timelines and as such, duty may call you away from this Timeline from time to time. In fact, our busiest Timeline is currently Beta 3. Oracle Tabitha in particular, is a great client of ours…”
Leal took pause then nodded. “Understood, Ma’am. I shall discuss this with my partner and work out the finer details,”
“Great. I shall be sending out the contract drafted by our legal team via the listed email address you have given us,”
“I appreciate that, Ma’am. Thank you,”
Elora smiled and then said goodbye and Leal had a mini-self celebration, waiting until every task that needed doing in the house was completed and the children were safely tucked away in bed before reaching out to Aurora who was pouring over her notes and consulting with the Artificial Sentience construct she had designed, Ash, on the accuracy of the information she had thus far included in her first draft.
“Aurora, I… um… have something to share with you,”
Aurora looked up at him almost immediately suddenly alert to whatever he had to say.
“Remember I told you that I was…um… looking up a few sites for jobs?”
“Yes, I recall that,” she stated.
“Well, I got contacted today and passed an interview for the Golden Knights,”
Aurora blinked several times while absorbing the news before smiling and stating, “Wow, that’s great news, Leal. Congratulations!”
“There’s… um… a bit of a catch though,”
“What catch?” Aurora asked.
Leal sighed. “The Director says that I may have to move across the Timelines sometimes for work… um… especially to Timeline B-3. Apparently our largest client is Oracle Tabitha,”
“Oh,” Aurora mouthed, mulling it over.
“I hope that it is agreeable with you?”
“For how long will you be away from us?” Aurora asked him. The tone of her voice broke his heart and weakened his resolve to join the Golden Knights. He was willing to give up the opportunity altogether if she asked him to.
“I am not sure. The contract will be sent over so maybe we can go through it together?”
Aurora shook her head. “Why did you take up the offer? What does it mean to you?”
“I… I want to be a man worthy of being called your equal, Aurora and I believe doing work like this that is meaningful… I believe it will help me realize this ideal,”
Aurora sighed. “Leal, haven’t we been through this already? You are already a man worthy of being by my side. If you take up this new work opportunity, let it be because it will bring happiness and fulfillment to your life…”
“Please do not prove that your mother was right about us… Do not let this bond between us prove to be a psychic entrapment. You have let the Protector’s Bond we share shackle you for too long. You are already a great hero in your own right and you have proven yourself more than worthy to be my Protector….”
“It is okay for you to have ideals and ambitions of your own Leal which do not involve me. Besides, won’t this improve upon your skills therefore making you a better Protector for me?” she mused.
Leal nodded. “So you support this new path I have found myself along without reservations?”
Aurora nodded. “Of course I do, just as you have supported my career ambitions, I support your ideals and ambitions as well, without reservation,”
He smiled feebly.
“Is there something else you wished to share with me?”
“Well I… can’t help but feel that perhaps you are happy for me to leave this Timeline after… well, everything that happened between us,”
“I haven’t been able to look past it fully but I have slowly started letting you back in. I will miss having you around and I know the kids will be especially sad but do not let that dissuade you from pursuing your goals,”
Leal sighed. “If you are ever discontent, you just need to tell me and I will immediately return to you, no hard feelings,”
Aurora shook her head. “Do not build your ambitions upon such a shaky foundation. You should have the final say, Leal. It is your life and therefore your decision is paramount,”
Leal nodded. “I am surprised you took it so well but you have always found a way to surpass my expectations,”
“I should hope so, Leal, otherwise you would get bored of me too easily,” she teased him. They both chuckled and then Aurora turned back to her work.
One day later, after carefully going through the contract and getting all necessary things in order, Leal signed it and officially became a Golden Knight.
TO BE CONTINUED…
What does the future hold for Leal? Stay tuned to find out!