[2740 AD; Helmut Hospital – Patient Ward – Giga District]
Gavin eyed outside the window and watched the sun set. Near him, Law lay in the bed, his broken leg securely wrapped and propped up. Mina sat in the chair next to his bed, trying to console him.
“I didn’t think you’d survive!” Mina cried.
“You can’t count my luck out,” Law said. “I got off pretty easy, don’t you think bro?”
“Are you not taking this seriously?” Gavin asked. “The prime minister’s office has been attacked by the True Thekohnians, and you’re just laughing it all off!?”
“Bro, of course I’m not laughing,” Law said. “What they did is unforgivable. The doctor told me that almost a hundred people were killed, all because of this group.”
“If only we’d been stronger,” Mina said, sniffling.
“Mina, there wasn’t much we could do to prevent that attack,” Law said. “We knew there was going to be some sort of an attack, but never the magnitude of it. All the Iiayikohn army could do was try to control the situation.”
“But your leg… you got hurt,” she said. “It was because of me that you got hurt!”
“No, it wasn’t your fault,” Law told her. “It was Wihll. He did this.”
“How am I supposed to protect people and be a hero when I can’t protect my friends?” Mina asked. “That’s not a hero at all!”
She cried again and stood up, ready to leave when Ayanna walked in.
“Ansa,” Gavin said.
“You will dry your tears at once, Mina!” Ayanna said.
“But you’ve heard what happened, right?” Mina asked. “That Law… he can’t walk because of my mistake!”
“Gavin, please,” Ayanna said.
“Lawrence told me about what you did,” Gavin said, his lips turning to a smile. “He couldn’t have asked for a better friend by his side. Well, aside from me, of course.”
“You mean that?” Mina asked.
“I do,” Law replied. “I admire many women, but a woman who can kick some ass is quite exceptional. Now please, stop beating yourself up for what happened to me.”
Mina sniffed one last time. “Okay,” she said. “I promise to you that I will bring Wihll to justice!”
“Is that so?” Gavin asked. “Well, that makes two of us. I’m going to walk right up to Victor Wihll and show him that I’m the only one who can kick Lawrence’s ass!”
“Guess that’s one way to put it,” Law said. “It’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?”
“You’re acting quite casually for someone who has had his leg broken,” Ayanna noted.
Law looked to his leg. “This is nothing,” he replied. “I’ve broken bones before, even been shot. I’m not the luckiest man in the world for nothing.”
“He’s right,” Gavin said. “It pains me to say it, but he’s right.”
“That’s how it usually is,” Law said. “Anyway, I’ve still got some aches. It’s a good thing you’ve arrived, Ayanna. Perhaps you could help relieve my stress?”
“Gavin, I didn’t come alone,” Ayanna said, choosing to ignore Law’s suggestion.
“Is the general here?” Gavin asked.
“He’s meeting with the prime minister and Harring,” she replied. “I have other people that want to meet you.”
Gavin narrowed his eyes. “Who?”
“I’ll go get them,” Ayanna said.
Moments later, Sorin, Eva, Gale, and Tori entered the ward. They gathered at Law’s bed, checking in on him. Gavin relayed what had happened earlier to Law and Mina, with Sorin and Gale offering support to Law. Then, it was Sorin’s turn to tell Gavin about what happened to them.
“Okay, part of that doesn’t make sense,” Gavin said.
“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.
“This man you claim existed,” Gavin replied. “Your brother. You’ve been saying that you were looking for him all this time and he just turns up when disaster strikes?”
“I… I can’t explain it,” Sorin said. “He seemed dangerous, but at the same time, I think he knows.”
“Something has been bothering me,” Eva said. “Ever since we’ve run into ‘Rysol’ I’ve been thinking that I’ve seen him before…”
“Eva, what is it?” Gale asked.
Eva gasped. “Him! He was the one who attacked Belkley!”
“What? No way!” Sorin said. “That man ten years ago, you stopped him and cut off his arm!”
“You even told us,” Gale added. “When we met Rysol, he had both arms.”
“Maybe I’m mistaken,” Eva said. “It’s been a long time, perhaps I remembered it wrong…”
Gavin cleared his throat. “I’m still here,” he said. “Anyway, I know I remember seeing both Henry Randolph and Kirk Wilk with you. Where are they?”
“Actually, that’s what we wanted to tell you,” Tori said. “You see, since the explosion, Henry has been missing.”
“Same with my father,” Sorin said. “We were trying to find him today, but couldn’t.”
“He just had to be stubborn,” Eva commented.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Gale said. “We were going to talk with Alan afterwards, so why would he go talk to him… Oh god…”
“What is it, Gale?” Eva asked.
Gale adjusted her glasses. “It only just crossed my mind, but it would explain his actions,” she began, “But what if he knew the explosions were going to happen?”
“Are you saying he had a hand in it?” Gavin asked.
“That’s impossible!” Sorin said. “It doesn’t make any sense!”
“I’m not implying that Kirk has anything to do with the attack,” Gale replied, “Or that he’s part of the True Thekohnians. Just that he would’ve known about the plan.”
“I’m going to agree with Sorin here,” Eva said. “I know Kirk. He is completely against what the True Thekohnians stand for.”
“What do you mean?” Gavin asked.
“He fights to protect,” she replied. “Kirk has never taken a single life in all the time that I’ve known him.”
“Yeah, I guess that whole ‘no killing’ thing would be a problem with the True Thekohnians,” Law said. “If that wasn’t such a problem, he and them would probably have some common ground.”
“Are you talking about the True Thekohnians and their claim to fight oppression?” Eva asked. “Because that’s a lie. A lie that a greedy little man named Walton Lokke made up to recruit members.”
“You mean to tell me that they were lying?” Law asked. “I’m so shocked. Shocked!”
He burst out laughing. No one else decided to join him.
“Yes, well, if you’re done,” Eva continued, “Lokke used to be a friend of Kirk’s, apparently. Seems he has a knack for tricking even the smartest of people into believing his lies.”
“Do you know what happened?” Gale asked.
“I don’t know the full details,” she replied, “But apparently an Ameci soldier was part of the reason why things happened the way they did.”
Tori muttered under her breath. “Henry…”
It was that moment Eva turned to Tori. “It was Henry?”
“Well, no, but he feels like he’s responsible,” she answered. “He still beats himself up over it.”
“Damn it,” Eva said. “Lokke’s still found a way to trick him, hasn’t he? Even when he’s locked away, Lokke had one last laugh…”
Tori sighed. “Well, that isn’t exactly the case.”
“What does that mean?” Eva asked.
“I guess Major Ansa could tell you,” Tori replied.
Ayanna focused on Eva. “Unfortunately, there’s some bad news,” she said. “You see…”
Eva rested a hand over her face and breathed a long sigh. “I should have known this,” she said. “These explosions, these distractions… They’re Lokke’s work, alright.”
“I’ve read the papers,” Gavin said. “He’s led some ruthless attacks in the past.”
“Bro, this Lokke guy… he’s a real piece of work,” Law responded. “Men, women, and children have all died because of his pursuit of power.”
“There was a time that many thought that the War of the Lands would never end,” Eva said. “Lokke wanted it to stay that way, mainly because it benefitted him.”
“How so?” Gale asked.
“Lokke makes his money selling weapons,” Eva explained. “You see where this goes, don’t you?”
“I think I do,” Gale replied.
“It wasn’t enough for him,” Eva said. “He had to have more. That’s why he joined Kirk’s group, Fighting Sun.”
“But wasn’t he part of the Swords of Eight?” Sorin asked.
“There was another group,” Eva said. “While the Swords of Eight focused on helping end the war, Fighting Sun was Kirk’s project to help those disaffected. He may be a stubborn man, but he’s also a marvelous one.”
“Look, I understand,” Gavin said. “I understand that Kirk is a nice guy, but what does any of this have to do with what’s happening now?”
“I’m getting there,” Eva replied. “Lokke came offering his support, but it was all a ruse. He wrestled away control from Kirk and soon used Fighting Sun for his own desires. That was the start of the True Thekohnians.”
“It was?” Sorin asked. “What did my father do?”
“He tried to take back the group, but Lokke’s influence was too much,” Eva answered. “Due to his persuasiveness, Lokke was able to recruit members who only sought blood. Of course, there were those who saw the group as a philanthropic enterprise, but they were easily swayed. Those who saw the True Thekohnians for what they were, however, were executed.”
“That’s terrible,” Mina said. “To hide behind the claim of protecting the weak, only to do that? It’s unforgivable!”
“Anyway, I’m going to bring this to the present,” Eva said, “With Lokke walking free, I don’t doubt for a second he wants to use the conflict in Maeitakohn to fire up another war.”
“History repeating itself,” Gale said. “Lokke is depending on that.”
“Time’s running out,” Law said. “Ayanna, if you guys want to think up a good plan, now’s the time.”
“We need to speak to the prime minister,” Ayanna said. “Sadly, I don’t know if we’ll be able to meet him tonight.”
“That’s too bad, isn’t it?” Law asked. “Fuck, there was so much I wanted to do. Lokke and Wihll… it seems like they have us by the balls.”
“If they’re heading to Maeitakohn, we’re going to have to move,” Eva said. “Sorin, I’m sorry, but I guess you will have to come after all.”
“I thought that was the plan,” Sorin said.
“Please, Sorin,” Eva replied. “All the training I’ve taught you? It may be good, but you can’t expect to go out there swinging! You’d get yourself killed!”
Sorin turned his head down. “Is that what you think of me?”
“Look, I taught you all that I know,” she said, “But the truth is you’re only good enough to defend yourself. Fighting in a warzone is a different story!”
“Maybe you’re right,” he said.
“I am, but we need to take some risks considering the situation,” Eva said. “We will have to have some help, however.”
She eyed Gavin, and he eyed her back.
“What are you looking at me for?” Gavin asked.
“What do you think?” Eva asked back. “I’m asking for your help. You have a personal stake in this, do you not?”
Gavin turned away. “I know that,” he said.
“Then you know that you could use the help, too,” Eva said.
“If there’s one thing I know, bro, it’s that you don’t turn down a request from a beautiful woman,” Law said. “Then again, you really don’t appreciate beauty like I do.”
“Come on,” Mina said to Gavin, “We’re heroes and it’s obvious they are, too. This is the team-up we’re looking for!”
“Just what goes on in your head?” Gavin asked. “If it’s not food, then it’s some notion that we’re like heroes in a fable.”
“Aren’t you a gifted marksman?” Ayanna asked. “You’ve claimed that when we met. I would think that a talent like that would be a heroic feat.”
“You’re trying to feed my ego, aren’t you?”
“Maybe it’s time to prove it,” Ayanna said.
Gavin laughed. “You really want to know what true marksmanship is? Perhaps I will show you.”
“Oh, I believe you,” Ayanna replied, “But there’s still some doubters. Namely, that kid over there.”
She pointed over to Sorin, who in turn looked at Gavin.
“Sorin Wilk, do you doubt me?” Gavin asked. “Looks like you really want me to make a fool out of you!”
“I never said that!” Sorin said.
“You were talking to me about him earlier,” Ayanna said. “How you laughed when Gavin told you all about his favorite types of guns.”
“To think that an idiot like you would mock me!” Gavin exclaimed. “I will show you!”
“Sorin also said that you couldn’t beat Wihll in a fight,” Gale said.
“Oh, well now you’re just asking for me to show you up!” Gavin said. “We will go to Maeitakohn and once we meet Victor Wihll, I will show you, Sorin Wilk, that I can kick his ass!”
“So you’ll go with us, then?” Eva asked.
“If only to watch this jackass eat his words,” Gavin answered.
“Me too!” Mina said. “We will beat Wihll together!”
“Hold on,” Sorin said. “I never said any of that!”
“You can’t take it back now, Sorin Wilk!” Gavin said. “Wihll’s defeat will be the dawn of your humiliation!”
“Sorin,” Eva whispered, “Please take the hint.”
Sorin looked at her, then back to Gavin. “Okay…”
“Since you’re going to Maeitakohn, bro, maybe you could do something for me,” Law said. “I want you to have this.”
Law pulled out a small book from the breast pocket of his jacket. The cover was black leather and was quite thick. He handed it over to Gavin, who took one look at it and then looked back at Law.
“What the hell is this?”
“It’s my diary,” Law replied. “All the experiences I’ve written about this country are all in there. I keep it close to my heart.”
Gavin opened the book, turning a few pages until he made it to one particular page. “Today I met a girl named Mina,” he read. “She was pretty strong, but she also has quite a nice…”
He slammed the book shut and threw it back at Law.
“You call that a diary!?” Gavin yelled.
“Maybe you should have read the one about Ayanna instead,” Law said. “You would like it.”
“Like hell I would!”
“Well, can you just take it for me?” Law asked. “Maybe you could keep it close to your heart like I did.”
Gavin picked up the book again and skimmed through it. “Every page is about a woman,” he said. “Where’s the sights!?”
“You don’t think Mina’s a nice sight to behold?” Law asked. “I’m offended that you would think that about her.”
“Just shut up,” Gavin said. He tucked away the book in the inner breast pocket of his coat. “Mina, please pay him no attention when he spouts nonsense like that.”
“Like what?” Mina asked. “What was the nice thing he said about me?”
“I’d say it, but I’m afraid that my bro will break my other leg,” Law replied. “Maybe after everybody else leaves, I can show you.”
“Okay, I think that’s enough,” Ayanna said.
Just then, Gamil rushed in through the doors. He made it up to the group and stopped to catch his breath. He wiped his forehead and looked to Eva.
“Gamil, what’s wrong?” Eva asked.
Gamil panted. “It’s Belkley,” he said. “I… can’t find him… anywhere…”
Eva gasped. “What?”
“Ever since this morning I couldn’t find the guy,” Gamil said. “When the explosion broke out, I searched for him. Worried that he might’ve been caught in the blast…”
“No, this can’t be true,” Eva said. “When did you see him last? What did he say to you!?”
“We were at the hotel,” Gamil answered. “After we left you guys, Belkley told me he had to make a call. I went up to my room and assumed he just went up to his.”
“And you haven’t seen him?” Eva asked. “Answer me!”
“I told you, Eva,” he said, “He just didn’t show this morning.”
“Sounds familiar,” Gale said. “Both Kirk and Henry have gone missing, too.”
“Son of a bitch,” Gamil exclaimed, “I was wondering where Kirk was.”
“That’s not important right now,” Eva said, “I just want to know where Belkley is!”
To be continued…