“How…how did you…” The Inspector tried to speak, to reason, to talk his way through the situation, but the words would not come.
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“You laid an ingenious trap for me, Inspector. I was suspicious from the outset, but when the crossing was shown to be unguarded, your deception became obvious. Yet you have my respect. An admirable attempt.” Elijah’s voice was calm, polite.
“What became of the Watchman?”
“He is dead.” The bluntness in his voice shook the Inspector.
“Tell me, Inspector. Were one of your precious Watchmen deceived and captured by the rebels, would you not commend them for fighting for escape, even should it mean the shedding of heretic blood?”
The Inspector snarled. “That is -”
“Different, perhaps? How so? The only difference between you and I, Inspector, is that your side is currently victorious. In another world, you would be the fugitive and I, perhaps, the enforcer.
“Each of us is driven by the same goal. We see injustice and seek to correct it; we see abuse and we seek to disarm it; we see pain and we wish to heal it. You and I, Inspector, so alike yet so different; we hold the same aim yet our means places us at odds. I do not say this in the hopes of a truce, nor of some sort of peace offering, merely to help you to understand why we do what we do.
“Where we differ, Inspector, is in this: you see this system, the web of control which layers the City, the domination which forms everyday life, the tyranny of silence and the silence of tyranny – you see this as a tool with which to eradicate the problems which plague us.
“I, meanwhile, see it as the source of those very problems.”
The Inspector swallowed. In spite of himself, he found this man captivating. “I bring law. You bring chaos. I exist to maintain order, to maintain stability. Without the system I am a part of, the City would fall apart, man against man, woman against woman, family against family. You need only view the City to see the products of lawlessness.” He gestured out of his window. “Violence, blasphemy, hatred. You bring chaos into the world, and infect all those around you. You and your kind are a plague.”
“A plague, my dear Inspector, is precisely what we have come to heal. The Elect, their vile teachings and repressive laws, are a sickness feeding on this City. We seek to catalyse the healing process, bring hope to a world which has lost it, bring light to a time of darkness. You cannot deny, Inspector, that this world is far from what it could be.” Elijah paused, stared into the distance for a moment. “I have been following your activities for some time, Inspector, as best I can. I sense that you care deeply about those around you, the Guardsmen, the Outer Zoners, the Disconnected. You have sought peace in a time of social war, and brought comfort to those who needed it.
“I do not apologise for my actions or those of my kind. I do, however, regret them, every day.”