Chapter 16 – Solo

[2740 AD; Executive Quarters in the President’s Palace]

 

The scene was set. Rysol faced Rhodes while Kirk and Henry watched. Rhodes had finished speaking when Eva, Sorin, and Mina ran in. A long, tense stillness occupied everybody’s mind as Rysol still had his blade pointed at Rhodes. Nobody wanted to speak up, but the sound of the chandelier shattering in the other room broke the tension.

“What was that!?” Rhodes asked.

Henry looked at the closed door. “It seems that there’s a bit of a ruckus going on in the other room,” he answered.

“Just what is he doing over there?” Eva asked under her breath.

“Did you say something, Eva?” Sorin asked.

“Forget it,” she said. “As for him…”

Sorin looked over at President Rhodes, who was now holding a pistol in his hand.

“They’re come,” Rhodes said. “They’re going to come soon, aren’t they?”

“Who are you talking about?” Rysol asked.

“The military,” Rhodes replied. “They’re going to come and… My fortunes… I’d rather choose death than take the fall for Foundation!”

Sorin took out his sword as he anticipated the worst to happen. However, Rhodes had a different idea as he held the gun against his head.

“No!” Kirk exclaimed. “Don’t do it!”

“You think I’m going to listen to you?” Rhodes asked. “You’re with them, aren’t you? Foundation sent you to stop me, didn’t they!?”

“I have nothing to do with them,” Kirk said.

Henry shook his head. “Me neither.”

“Lies! Both of you lie!”

Rhodes pulled the trigger of the gun. Some audible gasps filled the room, but quieted down once everyone realized nothing happened. Rhodes pulled the trigger again, but again no bullet was fired.

“Shoot, damn you!” Rhodes said. “I want to die! Let me die with some dignity before they get here!”

He kept pulling the trigger, but it was the same each time. Sorin withdrew his sword and walked forward.

“It’s over,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, sir, but the game is over.”

“He’s right,” Kirk said. “You’ll have plenty of chances to explain yourself later. Now put down that gun.”

Rhodes looked around, trembling as he threw the gun away. Rysol walked up to Rhodes, who looked down at his blade.

“Time to give up,” Rysol said.

“Yeah, this is the end for you,” Mina said. “All this killing needs to stop now, so surrender Mr. Rhodes!”

“None of you can make me!” Rhodes said. “Like I said, I’d rather die!”

Rhodes then grabbed the blade end of Rysol’s sword, the sharp edges cutting into his hand. Rysol tried to pull back but Rhodes proved to be quite stronger than he looked. With one pull, Rysol could feel his body move against his will as Rhodes directed the blade into his stomach.

“No, stop this!” Henry said.

“Let me go!” Rysol said. “Unhand my sword!”

“This sword will do it,” Rhodes said. “Now, finish me!”

Rhodes pulled the sword across, his stomach sliced open by Rysol’s sword. There was little that Rysol could do as his ability to pull his sword away ended up being unsuccessful.

“Rysol, let go of your sword!” Kirk said.

“Never, my father!” Rysol answered.

“One last pull… then it’s over,” Rhodes said.

It took only a second, but the deed was done. With blood spilling out of his abdomen, Rhodes collapsed to the floor. His breathing slowed as Sorin rushed up to him.

“Damn it! Why did you do it!?” Sorin asked.

Rhodes coughed. “I… told you,” he said, “I’m not going to be… Foundation’s fall guy…”

He coughed again and again as Sorin looked over to Kirk and Henry. They both stood there with little to offer, while Mina was hiding her face in Eva’s shoulder. Rysol stood over the bleeding Rhodes, his eyes wide open as he witnessed the president of Maeitakohn breathe his last breaths.

“You fool,” Rysol said. “You’re just going to let Foundation get away with this? After all you’ve told me!?”

Rhodes struggled to laugh. His eyes soon closed thereafter, never to open again as Rysol let out a frustrated scream.

“I’m sorry, Rysol,” Sorin said.

“What good can I do?” Rysol asked. “I… I can’t stay here! I’m sorry, Sorin, but this… is goodbye.”

Rysol put away his sword and ran for the back door. He broke down the door with a kick and continued his way out of the palace. Without a second thought, Sorin followed after him.

“No, Sorin!” Kirk said. “Stay here!”

It was too late, though, as Sorin went through the back door. Kirk tried to go after his son, but dropped to the floor and grabbed his leg. Two people rushed over to Kirk’s side: Henry and Eva.

“You can’t put weight on that leg,” Henry said. “I’ll follow after him.”

“No,” Kirk said, “I can do this.”

“Are you just going to be stubborn again?” Eva asked. “You’re clearly hurting.”

“It’s just a sprain, Eva,” Kirk replied.

“You’re not young anymore,” Eva said. “These injuries are catching up with you, and it’s making me worry.”

She got on her knees next to Kirk and embraced him. Kirk took a small breath and wrapped his arms around her. Henry and Mina could only watch.

“Eva, I’m sorry I made you worry,” Kirk said.

“I was afraid of losing you,” she replied. “Afraid of losing another person close to me.”

Kirk closed his eyes. “I really am sorry.”

“You’re the only person I have left,” Eva said, “And yet I pushed you away because of what happened to me. Do you think that was selfish?”

“Of course not,” Kirk replied, “But why are you asking me that?”

“Because I love you, damn it!” Eva replied.

“I don’t know what to say,” Kirk said. “After what had happened during our time in the Swords of Eight, I didn’t know that your feelings extended that far.”

“Well, they do,” she said, “And you’re not about to leave this world any time soon, not as long as I have anything to do about it.”

“Then I love you, too,” Kirk said. He took a look at Henry and Mina. “I’m… I’m so sorry.”

Henry grinned. “It’s okay, Kirk,” he said.

“What about Sorin?” Mina asked.

“Go after him,” Eva said. “You and Henry go after him. He shouldn’t be too far from here.”

Mina nodded. “We’ll do it,” she said. “And you’re Henry?”

“That’s what Eva said,” Henry replied.

“Her name is Mina,” Eva said. “Now go!”

Henry agreed and headed towards the back door. Mina looked at Eva for a brief moment, a frown on her face.

“You didn’t let me introduce myself,” Mina said.

“Go!” Eva commanded.

“Okay!”

Mina ran off after Henry and joined him to search for Sorin. Eva looked back at Kirk and helped him to his feet.

“Let’s try and get out here, okay?” Eva asked.

“Those doors lock from this side,” Kirk said. “Open them up and we can get out of here.”

They walked up to the doors and unlocked them. Eva opened one of the doors and saw the large chandelier broken on the ground. The corpses did little to help, but Eva continued on with Kirk by her side. The two moved past the chandelier and towards the door.

“What happened with that chandelier?” Kirk asked.

“I don’t know,” Eva replied. “We came in through the other side. Well, three of us did, anyway.”

“Three?”

“Four of us came,” Eva said. “I really don’t know where Gavin went. Hopefully he hasn’t run away.”

The last pair of doors opened as Eva and Kirk stepped outside. Sunlight broke through the clouds as they made their way down the steps.

“Let’s sit down,” Kirk said. “Give my leg the rest it needs.”

“You are an idiot,” Eva said.

They walked up to a nearby bench and sat down. Kirk laid back as Eva rested her head on his shoulder. The sun shone through even brighter, though the clouds still remained in the sky.

“You’re not going to keep going after him, are you?” Eva asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“Do I need to tell you? Look at yourself!”

Kirk looked at his leg. “I can take a day or two off and continue after that.”

“You’re lucky we followed after you,” she said, “But what if we didn’t? What if Henry wasn’t by your side?”

“I don’t think about that,” Kirk said.

“Next time you might not be so lucky.”

“I suppose,” Kirk said. “Guess that means I should think about my future, right Eva?”

“You finally found him after all these years,” Eva said. “Do you know why?”

“Because of Sorin…”

“Not just him. Gale, too.”

“I knew that I couldn’t just let Sorin stay with Smith forever,” Kirk said. “At some point he needed the motivation to find his own path.”

“There’s still a long way for him to go, though.”

“True,” Kirk said. “So much I have to think about.”

“I’ll let you think about it later,” Eva said. “Right now, it looks like we have some company.”

In the distance, they could see Gavin and Ayanna running towards them. Eva stood up as Kirk continued to sit down while Gavin reached them first, with Ayanna right behind him.

“Why are you just sitting here?” Gavin asked. “Where are Sorin and Mina?”

“They’re not here,” Eva replied.

“And I can’t walk that well right now,” Kirk said. “Just give me a few more minutes and I’ll be back on my feet.”

“Don’t rush it,” Eva said.

“We can see that they’re not here,” Ayanna said, “But I assume that they’re okay?”

“Yes,” Eva answered.

She explained to Ayanna what had happened with President Rhodes and Rysol. In addition, Kirk added by telling them his side of the story. Once both Kirk and Eva were done explaining, Ayanna nodded and turned to Gavin.

“Go after them,” Ayanna said. “We’re dealing with a rogue party. There’s no telling what may happen.”

“I’d be glad to, but I have no bullets,” Gavin said. “You mind getting me some ammo?”

“You’re not going to need ammo,” Kirk said. “Rysol… he won’t hurt them. I just know that he won’t.”

“I know that he’s your son,” Ayanna said, “But given what you said, Rysol is a delicate case. A bit unpredictable, if you will.”

Kirk grabbed onto the side of the bench. “You don’t understand,” he said, “I’ve been looking the last eighteen years for him. I am not about to let anyone take him away from me again!”

“I will bring him back alive, Kirk Wilk,” Gavin said. “Even if I have to go through Sorin himself.”

“No!” Kirk said. “I won’t allow you to harm Sorin, either!”

“Damn it, fine,” Gavin replied. “Not like this is a difficult task for me, anyway. You will see.”

Gavin ran off back to the palace in order to catch up with Henry and Mina. With him out, Eva looked to Ayanna.

“What are you going to do?” Eva asked.

“If Rhodes is dead, then we will need to secure this area,” Ayanna said. “A few stray True Thekohnians might still be lurking around, so we will be arresting them on sight.”

“That’s good,” Kirk said. “Hopefully we can gain more information out of them.”

“You still can’t move yet,” Eva said. “Ayanna, can you take us out of here? I really don’t want to be around here anymore.”

“Okay,” Ayanna said, “Come with me.”

 

[2740 AD; Bel Forest – interior of the woods]

 

Through the forest he ran. He had to run. Sorin wanted answers. He needed them. He was not about to let Rysol run away now, because there were still plenty of questions left unanswered, and Sorin needed to hear them.

“Damn it, Rysol, come back here!” Sorin yelled through the forest. “You can’t keep running forever!”

Sorin continued running through the forest, passing by the various bushes and dodging the trees that were in front of him. The decision to follow Rysol came on a whim, but Sorin sought to follow through with it. It was funny, he thought, that not even a month ago he was even aware that he had a brother. Things were different, though. Part of it being an obligation to his father, but also because Sorin himself wanted to hear it straight out of Rysol’s mouth.

“Please, stop running!”

Deeper into the forest, Sorin saw him. Rysol sat up against a large tree, examining his uncovered left arm. What Sorin saw surprised him: instead of matching the flesh and blood his right arm had, Rysol’s left arm appeared to be made of a metallic material. Some sunlight reflected of his arm as Sorin moved in towards his brother.

“Rysol, what is that?” Sorin asked.

Rysol looked up in shock and began to scream. He grabbed his head as if he were in deep pain and curled over on the ground.

“I’m not going to hurt you, brother,” Sorin said. “I just want to know. I want to know everything.”

Sorin knelt down next to Rysol, who stopped screaming. He took a few labored breaths before finally sitting upright. There was little left between the two as Rysol closed his eyes.

“Why did you… follow me?” Rysol asked.

“Because you’re my family,” Sorin replied. “I deserve to know what’s going on. That’s all I ask of you.”

“Nobody… ‘deserves’ to know anything,” Rysol said, “Not even… if that person is my own brother.”

“Why not?”

“You saw it yourself… didn’t you?” Rysol asked. “I killed him… I killed a leader. No matter how anyone looks at it, it’s because of my sword that that man is dead.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“Do you really think… the masses will care? Of course not!”

“I don’t care what they think,” Sorin said. “What I care about is what happened to you. What happened to my family.”

“Father… he’s searched for a long time,” Rysol said, “But he’s foolish… if he thinks that he can ‘save’ me now…”

“Why?”

“I’m a killer… that’s why,” Rysol answered. “I’ve killed so many that I’ve lost count by now…”

“What about that arm of yours?” Sorin asked. “It’s very unusual. How did you get it?”

“Do you not already know?” Rysol asked. “I would have thought that that woman would have told you already. She… she’s a friend of father’s, is she not?”

Sorin nodded his head. “I guess it is true,” he said.

“I remember that day very well,” Rysol said. “I… Can you tell her that I’m sorry for what I did?”

“Why did you attack him?”

“Because I thought he was one of them… One of the True Thekohnians…”

Rysol hung his head and sighed. It was not easy to see, but Sorin could see that tears were starting to form in Rysol’s eyes. Sorin could feel himself begin to cry, too, but held back as he tried to console Rysol.

“It was a misunderstanding, right?” Sorin asked. “Please tell me that it was a misunderstanding, will you!?”

“That day… when she hung that blade above me, I really felt like I was about to meet the reaper,” Rysol said. “I was already clinging to life… but when that guy stopped her, I knew.”

He grabbed onto his fake arm and looked at it once more.

“This is a reminder of that mistake,” Rysol said. “A mistake that I will carry with me… carry with me until I die. That day may come sooner than I imagine, but until then I will fight.”

“I still have a lot of questions,” Sorin said. “At least answer this: what do you know about mother? You would be able to answer that, right?”

Rysol sighed. “If that’s what you want to know… then I will answer you,” he said. “That I feel… is the least that you need to hear.”

He stood up and brushed himself off. The sounds of footsteps were off in the distance as Sorin looked behind himself. No doubt about it: he was followed, and it was probably Mina.

“We don’t have a lot of time,” Sorin said, “So before you run, please just answer that question.”

“Okay,” Rysol replied. “Mother… she was an amazing woman, even in death. You see, the reason why she died… was to protect you.”

 

To be continued…

 

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