[2740 AD; on the roads – Maeitakohn]
The long, narrow road went on, sitting between acres of green land. Kirk drove his car down the road and sitting next to him in the passenger’s seat was Henry, who looked onward out the window.
“I want to make something very clear,” Kirk said, “Just because we both want to stop him doesn’t mean that I’m ready to forgive you.”
Henry sighed. “I know,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure if this was the right thing to do. Tori must be worried sick…”
“After the ten years you were absent, I doubt it,” Kirk replied.
“At least she’s still alive, right?” Kirk asked. “You should be happy.”
“I don’t understand,” Henry said, “Why would you bring that up?”
“Because, Henry, true pain never goes away,” he answered. “No matter how much I tell myself otherwise, I can never get over what Lokke’s men did to April.”
“Perhaps I can’t relate, but I’ve been hurt, too,” Henry said.
“Then tell me why,” Kirk said, “Why did you led your fellow soldiers into a trap? Why did you, of all people, insist upon driving through Bel Dale?”
“It was a mistake.”
“I feel as if that has been the excuse for years now,” Kirk replied.
“It is the truth,” Henry said. “Rohan agrees, too.”
“Then perhaps the general is the one who made the mistake,” Kirk said. “A serious mistake in trusting you. Do you know how many people died because they never received their weapons?”
“You don’t have to remind me,” Henry said.
“It was that mistake that made it harder for the rest of us to make peace with the Maeitakohnian government,” Kirk said. “If you had taken the longer route, then we would not be having this conversation. We would not even be dealing with the True Thekohnians right now!”
“If that is the case, perhaps you would do me a favor?”
“What favor, Kirk?”
“You will kill him,” Kirk replied. “To strike back at the True Thekohnians, you will kill Lokke.”
“I can’t,” Henry said. “I promised to Tori before we were to get married that I would never kill again. Silly, I know.”
“It’s noble,” Kirk said, “If it were anybody else. But this is you. You have fallen far from grace.”
“And you won’t do it?” Henry asked. “You always talked about how if you were to kill someone who committed atrocities, it would make you no better than them. Now you want me to do something you can’t? Do you even know what the fuck you’re saying!?”
“I never claimed to be perfect,” Kirk said. “I have my own reasons for sparing the guilty, too.”
“I’m just not going to do your dirty work.”
“We’ll see,” Kirk replied. “We’ll see what kind of man you are when we come face to face with Lokke himself. Will you let him walk, or will you break your promise?”
“Is there not another way?” Henry asked. “This is unlike you. By now, you would have had some solution to this dilemma.”
“If you have a solution, then you’re free to offer it,” Kirk said. “Of course, that would require some critical thinking on your part.”
Henry didn’t respond.
The two men didn’t talk for the rest of the drive, opting to look out the window instead as the city limits of Bel approached. Henry was thinking about what was going on in Rezar, especially with Tori. She had to have been worried, perhaps even figured things out by now. He assumed it was the same for Kirk, too, although there was no way Kirk was ever going to tell him. With a sigh, Henry watched as the car slowed down to a gentle halt.
“We’re stopping now?” Henry asked. “We’re not even in the city yet!”
“It would be stupid to drive into the city,” Kirk replied. “Pick up your knives, because we’re walking now.”
Henry followed after Kirk, who tried to maintain a steady pace over him. They were less than a mile away from the city as they heard gunshots.
“As bad as I thought,” Kirk said. “We need to keep ourselves to a low profile if we don’t want to attract any attention to ourselves.”
Kirk walked with his hand by his hip as he was ready to draw his sword at any moment. Henry was ready, too, with both knives hanging at either side of his waist. They strolled into the entrance to the city, going through the large, open gate and into the empty street before them. Looking around, Kirk kept his hand ready as he could hear footsteps coming closer. He turned around, almost ready to go as he saw it was just a small child looking up at him.
“I’m sorry, kid,” Kirk said. “Please get out here right now. Your parents must be worried.”
The child said nothing as she ran off. Kirk continued to look as Henry stepped forward.
“It’s too quiet,” Henry said.
“We must continue to be alert,” Kirk replied. “If he is here, then…”
Kirk shook his head. He began to walk again as another gunshot resonated through the air. It was much closer than the previous ones. Henry looked around, wondering where it came from. That was when he and Kirk saw them. A small group stood, with a familiar man to both of them leading the way.
“You’ve finally stepped in it, haven’t you Kirk?” Lokke asked.
Kirk drew his sword. “Who was it!?”
Lokke’s attention turned to Henry. “Is that who I think it is? You look like you’ve been through hell, Henry Randolph,” he said. “Perhaps I should do you a favor and put you out of your misery.”
“How are you still here?” Henry asked.
“It seems you’ve forgotten about a friend of ours,” Lokke replied. “Do you not remember the great prime minister of Iiayikohn, Iean Sergs?”
“I’m well familiar,” Kirk answered. “The day he left office was the day that Iiayikohn’s people saw his reign of terror come to a satisfying end.”
“It’s unfortunate that he left,” Lokke said, “But understandable. If only that delusional Alan Berry didn’t become prime minister, Sergs could still be in power! After all, it was he who gave the True Thekohnians life!”
“We both know you don’t care about the True Thekohnians,” Kirk said. “You only care about one person: yourself. It’s always been about you.”
“Everything you’ve done was for your benefit,” Henry said. “As long as you made a profit, it didn’t matter who died and who lived.”
“From a man who’s taken lives, that’s rich,” Lokke said. “Sure, I might have influenced people to kill, but could you even say that I bloodied my own hands?”
“What I did doesn’t matter,” Henry said.
“Then perhaps you should tell that to your friend,” Lokke replied. “Of course, you have no chance to prove I even did anything wrong.”
Kirk’s grip tightened. “Just tell us one thing,” he said. “Sergs, where is he? Why did he need you now?”
“I’m afraid you won’t be finding Iean around here anytime soon,” Lokke answered. “As for why he needed me, well, you can see that for yourself, can’t you?”
“I see,” Kirk said. “The attack wasn’t meant as a warning from the True Thekohnians… It was meant to start a war.”
“Then, you’ve yet again caused the deaths of many,” Henry said. “All because of your greed.”
“Oh please,” Lokke said. “You go on and on about my ‘greed,’ but we keep fighting for many different reasons. Why should I be the only one chastised for what everyone is guilty of?”
“You really don’t get it,” Kirk said. “Fine. We will not hesitate to defeat you once again.”
“Let me see,” Lokke said. “It’s the two of you versus five of my men, plus the fact that many more are around here as well. Do you really think that you’ll stop me before the war starts?”
“I’ve been through worse,” Kirk replied. “Henry, now is as good a time as any. You will do it, correct?”
Henry took out his knives and turned to Lokke. “You’ve caused pain for so many,” he said. “I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to drive these knives into your skull. However, I’ve made a promise.”
Kirk looked over at Henry. “Henry… I swear to god…”
“I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of killing you, Lokke,” Henry said. “Even if it is a detriment to everyone involved, I just can’t break that promise.”
“I suppose it can’t be helped,” Lokke said. “Looks like you’ve failed, Mr. Wilk. All this talk about wanting to bring peace? It’s laughable.”
“You’re forgetting one thing, Lokke,” Henry said.
Lokke scoffed. “What is that?”
“I never said I wasn’t going to hurt you.”
Henry dashed forward, flipping the knife in his left hand as he drove the handle end into Lokke’s forehead. The force of the blow was enough to knock Lokke to the ground as the other five men tried to take out their weapons. Henry turned to the nearest one and did the same move with his right hand, thrusting the handle into the side of the man’s head.
“You really do surprise, don’t you?” Kirk asked.
“Look out!” Henry exclaimed.
Kirk saw one of the other men run up to him, charging at him with a sword. For Kirk, he dodged the attack and used his free hand to strike the man on the back of his head. With the man dropping to the ground, Kirk turned back to Henry.
“We can’t all of them, Henry,” he said. “Let’s run!”
“Very well,” Henry replied.
Kirk and Henry ran to the left, going further into the city of Bel as Lokke sat up and rubbed his forehead. He was helped up by one of his henchmen as he pointed towards the direction that Kirk and Henry left.
“What the hell are you doing?” Lokke asked. “Follow after them!”
To be continued…