[2740 AD; Port of Iiayi – Morning Shine]
In the morning sunlight, Gamil walked up to his ship. It had been a long night for him as he agonized over Belkley’s absence. Upon arriving at the ship, Gamil saw a couple of Iiayikohnian officers kneeling by the water.
“Step back, sir,” one of the officers said.
“What is going on?” Gamil asked.
“That’s none of your business,” the second officer answered.
“It’s my boat,” Gamil said, “So maybe it is my business.”
“I’m sorry,” the first officer said. “We don’t want a lot of people to know what happened here.”
Gamil raised his eyebrow. “Ah, so it’s one of those incidents? Some unfortunate fool drowned in the water, huh?”
“It’s not like that,” the second officer replied. “This man was stabbed.”
“For officers, you’re awfully careless,” Gamil said.
He moved forward, peering over the two officers. When he saw the body, Gamil felt as if a heavy stone sat in the pit of his stomach. He did not want to believe what he was seeing, but reality was cruel. In the water Belkley lay, and Gamil had no idea how to react.
“Do you know who did it?” Gamil asked.
“We have no clue,” the first officer said. “You know this man?”
“Yes,” Gamil replied. “He’s… he’s a friend of mine.”
“We’re very sorry, sir,” the second officer said. “I can not begin to imagine how you’re feeling.”
“It’s okay,” Gamil said. “Although I guess I’m going to be the bearer of bad news to her.”
Gamil looked around for a payphone, finding one near the street. He knew that it was not going to be the easiest call he would have to make, but it had to be done. He dialed the number for the Port Hotel, and requested the room under the name of Kirk Wilk. One ring came and went. Gamil took a deep breath as the second ring sounded. Then, he heard her voice.
“Hello?” Eva asked. “Who is this?”
“Eva, it’s Gamil,” he said. “I… Can you come to the port? I’ll explain it to you when you get here.”
Two more officers had arrived between the time of Gamil’s call and when Eva’s group arrived. She, Sorin, and Gale met with Gamil, who pointed them over to the group of officers by the ship.
“It’s bad,” Gamil said. “Belkley… he’s gone…”
“No, I can’t believe it,” Gale said. “Eva, I’m so sorry…”
Eva didn’t respond. She had to see it for herself. There was no way that this was real, she thought. She rushed over to the group of officers and attempted to barge in.
“Ma’am, please step back,” the third officer said.
“No!” Eva said. “Let me see for myself!”
She pushed her way between two of the officers and saw for herself. His clothes were soaked, but there was enough blood to signify that he was indeed stabbed. There was no other reaction, as Eva collapsed to her knees. A low growl emitted from her mouth as she punched the ground below her. She punched again and again until Gamil had to restrain her hand.
“Damn it,” Eva said. “Damn it, damn it, damn it!”
“Eva, please stand up,” Gamil said. “Belkley would not want to see you crying, would he?”
“I can’t begin to imagine,” Sorin said.
“He was a good man,” Eva said. “Why? Why take him now, damn it!?”
“I wish I could say,” Gamil replied. “Whoever did this… they can’t be forgiven for what they did.”
“I’ll kill them,” Eva muttered. “When I see the person who decided to kill Belkley… I’ll kill them.”
Gamil scratched his head. “Eva…”
“I’m not afraid to do it,” she said. “This sword of mine isn’t afraid to eviscerate Belkley’s killer.”
“I know what they did was inexcusable,” Sorin said, “But… But is it really okay? When you say that, it makes me uneasy.”
“Sorin, you know why your father fights, don’t you?” Eva asked. “If you knew what happened to me, then you would understand why he and I differ when it comes to mercy.”
“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.
“Your father holds himself up as noble,” she replied. “He has, as far as I’ve known him, never taken a single life in any of his battles. Even for the most deplorable of enemies, Kirk withdrew his sword and offered to spare them.”
“It’s truly admirable how he did it, too,” Gamil added. “He was such a skilled fighter, that he’d have them on the ropes. Kirk’d talk them up, just to have them surrender.”
“He was usually lucky,” Eva said. “He would have back-up most of the time, so there would’ve been no choice for enemies except give up.”
“You still fought for good, right?” Gale asked.
“Of course we did!” Eva replied. “But you can’t just think that we were all noble men and women that would never kill. Kirk maybe, but I knew that I wouldn’t survive long if I chose to spare my opponents like he did.”
“So, you have?” Sorin asked.
Eva nodded. “I’d rather not talk about how many I’ve killed,” she said, “But it is the truth. I’m truly sorry.”
“No, it’s okay,” Sorin said.
“You don’t hold it against me?” Eva asked.
“I know you have your reasons,” Sorin replied. “That I can’t change… But I do want to change myself.”
“I think you already have,” Eva said.
“This whole trip, I was feeling like a burden,” Sorin said, “But after yesterday, I saw him. I saw the goal.”
“You’re not even sure that it is him, though,” Gale said.
“You might be right, Gale,” Sorin replied. “It has made me want to keep going, because I realize what’s at stake here. What everyone has been fighting for.”
“Well, you’re getting there, alright,” Gamil said. “Think I even heard some of this before, but I’ll let you finish!”
“You stood strong for Belkley, Eva,” Sorin said, “And I want to be able to stand for someone important to me someday. I’ve decided I’m not a burden anymore; I’m a force knocking at the door, ready to break it down!”
Gamil laughed. “I knew it,” he said. “Kirk said something like that a long time ago. Boy, it brings back memories.”
“Anyway, you understand,” Eva said. “I can’t just spare Belkley’s killer.”
“I get that,” Sorin said.
He knew that if it came down to where if they happened to come face to face with that person, Sorin couldn’t stop Eva. Part of him felt like he wouldn’t, but there was part of him that had hesitation. Still, there was a common ground with Eva, and Sorin sought to maintain that.
“Sorin, we still have to see them,” Eva said. “You and Gale should head to the embassy. I want to be here for a little while longer.”
“Okay,” Sorin said. “Should we hope to see you there?”
“Of course,” she replied. “Go on and let me send Belkley off.”
Sorin and Gale left as Eva and Gamil turned back to the group of officers. Eva did not want either of them seeing her at her weakest as she moved past the officers once again. She knelt by him for what would be the last time.
“I’m going to make sure that your life won’t be forgotten,” she said.
“Kid deserved better,” Gamil said.
“It always seems to happen, doesn’t it?” Eva asked.
Gamil agreed. “These poor kids keep getting thrown into the mess the rest of us created,” he said. “Just a damn shame…”
On the way to the Ameci Embassy, Sorin and Gale stopped to get some coffee. After they received their drinks, the two continued onto the embassy. Sorin walked by Gale’s side as she was eyeing the small, warm cup in her hand.
“Do you think Eva was serious?” Gale asked.
“I don’t think she would joke about it,” Sorin replied. “She did just lose someone close to her. I mean, we met him too. He was a nice guy.”
“Yeah,” Gale said. “I’ve never actually seen a dead body before today… I really hope that Belkley’s is the last I see for a while.”
“Me too,” he said.
Gale took a sip of her coffee. “I’m… not comfortable talking about this,” she said, “Do you want to talk about something else?”
“What else do you want to talk about?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “How about you?”
“You were the one offering to talk about something else,” he said.
“No, I meant yourself,” she said. “You said you were an artist. What about that?”
“I mean, I already told you,” Sorin said, “I want to get better.”
“What do you usually draw?”
“Anything,” he replied. “I guess usually landscapes. Actually, some of the places around here have made me want to pick up and get at it… I mean, if I had the time to, of course.”
“What about people?” Gale asked. “Ever tried drawing someone?”
“Well, my usual point of reference for people was my friend Smith,” he said. “Not really much I could choose from there.”
“But you’ve met so many people so far,” she said, “Perhaps there’s someone who’s inspired you to consider starting?”
“I guess either my father or Eva,” he answered. “Both of them are interesting, but I could never ask them. It would be too awkward.”
“Are you sure there’s no one else?”
“Maybe Gavin,” Sorin said, “But if I asked him if I could draw him, he’d probably be upset that I didn’t get him right or something.”
“Perhaps you should start somewhere else,” Gale said. “Someone who you’ve been with over the past few days and who has always been there for you.”
“You’re asking about yourself?”
“I mean, only if you asked me, obviously,” Gale replied. “I wouldn’t have a problem with it, of course.”
“Well, I would like to, then,” Sorin said.
“What would you say is my best feature?” Gale asked. “I’m sorry, let me rephrase that: as an artist, what would you define as the most notable thing about me?”
“That’s kind of tough to say,” he said.
Gale looked away.
“But that’s because there’s so much about you,” Sorin added. “I mean, you’re smart and you have a nice smile…”
“Thank you, Sorin,” she said. “I guess that’s what I wanted to know.”
“So there’s nothing else you want to ask?”
“That was it,” Gale replied. “Hey, when this is all over… Do you want to stay here for a while longer?”
“In this country?” Sorin asked. “I mean, I wanted to go back to Ameci…”
“You have that job, don’t you,” Gale said. “I understand.”
“Still, I guess there’s still a lot I wanted to see,” Sorin said. “Especially if you’re here, Gale.”
“As long as you consider it,” she said. She stopped in her tracks, turning to the building beside her. “It looks like we’ve arrived.”
“So this is the embassy,” Sorin said.
A three story building stood before them. The two walked up the steps to the front door and opened it. Inside, Gavin, Law, and Mina were waiting for them.
“What happened?” Gavin asked.
“Let me explain,” Gale said.
To be continued…