Sundown – Chapter 9 (Part 1)

[9th of September, 2740 AD; Abandoned Manufacturing Complex, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Outer Boundary]

 

“Looks like we’re closing in,” Henry said.

The large gate got closer as the truck stopped. The back door opened as the other soldiers began to step out, save for Henry and one other soldier. Sorin was still there, too, as he turned to Henry.

“Mars, are you hesitant?” Henry asked the man with short, neatly combed black hair and a small goatee.

“Not at all,” he replied, “And please, call me Korbin.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Henry said. “Sorin, I assume that you’re ready?”

Sorin slowly nodded his head. “As long as we’re working together, I think we’ll be okay,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, right?”

“Take it that you’re ready, then,” Henry replied. “Let’s roll.”

Henry jumped out of the truck as Sorin set to follow after him. Korbin stopped him, however, with a light tap on the shoulder.

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Korbin said. “Didn’t know we were going to be fighting side by side so soon.”

“Well, I wasn’t originally planning to come,” Sorin replied, “But after what I’ve heard, there was no way that I couldn’t go.”

Korbin grinned. “Sounds pretty noble,” he said. “I’ll be looking forward to seeing you in action, Sorin Wilk.”

He picked up his rifle and stepped out of the truck. Perhaps it was just him overthinking, but Sorin found that interaction to be odd. Maybe it was best not to think too deeply about it, he thought, since he had something else he needed to focus on right now.

“Hey, Sorin, we don’t have all day!” Henry called.

“I’ll be right there!” Sorin responded.

He joined up with Henry and Korbin, who were busy walking behind the other soldiers in the squad. The lack of sound in the forest, save for the light rustle of the trees, was comforting yet ominous for Sorin.

“Best to keep our guards up,” Henry said as he gripped his gun. “This means all of you!”

“So what’s our plan of attack?” Korbin asked. “Obviously it doesn’t seem like we’re going to be going in all out. Kind of disappointing, don’t ya think?”

Henry tilted his head towards Korbin. “Need I remind you that this is a rescue mission, Mars?”

“With all this training, I was hoping to put my skills to good use,” Korbin said. “I’m sure you’d agree, wouldn’t you, Sorin?”

“Henry’s right,” Sorin replied. “I’m in this for my friend.”

Korbin laughed. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It must be weird to have someone you don’t know say your name, isn’t it?”

“I wasn’t going to raise that question,” Sorin said, “But it is sudden.”

“You must think I’m weird, don’t you?” Korbin asked. “Let’s restart this on a good note. The name’s Korbin Mars. Nice to meet ya.”

He reached his fist out to Sorin, who responded by bumping his fist into Korbin’s.

“That’s not too awkward, is it?” Korbin asked. “I had no idea I’d be walking alongside the son of a legendary swordsman!”

“Anyway, training isn’t all shooting and combat,” Henry said. “Sometimes we have to perform tasks that aren’t all glitz and glory.”

Just then, the soldiers ahead of them stopped as they came upon a split in the path. There was a brief discussion among the soldiers as Henry scoped the immediate area to see if there were any enemies in sight.

“Keep your heads up,” Henry said. “That means you too, Sorin. Be ready in case of an ambush.”

He directed the other soldiers to the right path, which would take them to a higher vantage point. They were still not on the premises but according to Henry’s planning, they would have a much better time approaching from the side entrance. Sorin took Henry’s word as his hand hovered above the handle of his sword, ready to go should the moment arise. He believed that he and Henry could trust each other enough to fulfill this mission.

“This route’s getting pretty steep,” Korbin said. “I wonder if it’s because the ‘True Thekohnians’ believe that this is a good defensive strategy.”

Sorin raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean by that?”

“Come on,” Henry said. “We all know that the True Thekohnians are no longer in operation.”

“Guess that answers my question,” Korbin said. “What about you?”

“Same,” Sorin replied.

Their march up the hill continued as they came closer to the vantage point, passing by the tall trees as sunlight scattered through the leaves above. A distant conversation could be heard from ahead as Henry and the other soldiers readied themselves, just in case.

 

*****

 

Inside one of the trailers, Johan Kuu sat near the window, the bright sunlight shining on his light gray shirt and brown hair. He thought to himself about what was going to happen now that he was in the captivity of the Neu Thekohnian Order. He was not concerned about what they would do, however, as much as he was concerned about what the Ameci military would do. They were coming for him, that much was certain. Johan was unbound and free to roam but remained locked behind bars as the door to the trailer slammed open.

“Now who could that be?” Johan asked in a soft-spoken tone.

In walked Jelka, who approached the bars causing Johan to stand up. He walked up to her with an enthusiastic smile upon his face. Jelka, however, did not share that same enthusiasm as she gripped the steel bar and sported a scowl.

“It seems that your comrades have come to rescue you,” Jelka said. “I’d advise you to cease with that smug look if I were you.”

“Well, you’re the one who believes that she can lead a group to victory,” Johan said. “I’m not going to stop you there. Not like I could in my position, anyway.”

“When this is over, you’ll see,” she said. “The Neu Thekohnian Order will bring about a revolution to the Thekohnian Region. You’re powerless.”

“Is that what you think?” Johan asked. “You need to give your enemies more respect. After all, that’s what caused the downfall of Walton Lokke.”

“Lokke was scum that deserved what he got,” Jelka replied. “I only wish that I was able to kill him myself.”

“Even so, Lokke was able to manipulate those around him to do what he wanted,” Johan said, “That is, except for one. One man who still lives on, despite all that has happened to him.”

“That man has no significance nor no reason to live,” she answered. “I’d be surprised if he isn’t dead by now.”

She made her way for the door, but stopped and turned around.

“A change of heart, Miss Arne?” Johan wondered. “Please, I’m all ears. Not that I have any better to do, you know?”

He laughed as Jelka slammed her hands on the bars. Johan scratched his head and reached out his free hand to her.

“I wonder if you believe in your cause,” he said. “There’s no doubt that corruption still exists, even with a good deal of players out of the game.”

“You dare challenge my belief?” Jelka asked. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that an Ameci would do such a thing.”

“That’s not at all what I’m trying to do,” Johan replied. “I’m not looking to change your opinions overnight. In fact, I would rather hope that you keep believing in yourself.”

Jelka glared at him. “Why would an Ameci soldier like you say that?”

“I think you’ve got my role all wrong,” Johan said. “I’m no soldier and I truly despise fighting.”

“Then perhaps I should kill you now,” she said.

She drew her sword and pointed the blade at Johan, who did not break his smile. Jelka thrusted her sword forward but Johan dodged her attack with a quick turn to the right.

“You’ve got a beautiful sword, no doubt about it,” he said. “Anyway, I’m not planning on dying any time soon. Too many things I still need to do here before I go to the other side.”

Jelka withdrew her sword as Johan continued.

“You shouldn’t mess with me,” he said. “I may hate fighting, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to survive. I’ve got three rules I follow: don’t get in any fights that I have no business being in, always watch my opponent, and if there’s another way out, take it.”

“Looks like you’ve already failed on at least two of those,” Jelka replied.

Johan chuckled. “Have I, though? I think that we have yet to see if you’re right or not,” he said. “Of course, I’d like to hope that I’m right, but you’ve got your own hope in all this.”

“Unlike you, Ameci, I don’t rely on things like hope,” she said. “My group will decimate anything in their way.”

“Whatever helps justify your belief,” Johan said, “But you can’t deny that we all hope things will work out in our favor. Some people pray, some have a simple exercise they do when they wake up, and others do the things that sound just plain absurd to everyone.”

“And what do you do?”

Johan shrugged. “I just believe in myself,” he said. “Simple, I know, but it’s what’s brought me this far and what’s going to get me out of here.”

“If that’s all you’ve got to say, then I’ve got other things to take care of,” Jelka said as she started for the door.

“What are you hoping to gain from me?” Johan asked.

“Unfortunately for you, I’m not answering your question,” she replied.

And with that, Jelka was gone. Johan was disappointed that he wasn’t able to continue the conversation with her. If they were to meet again next time, he would definitely get that answer from her, that much Johan knew.

“You’re an interesting one, all right,” he thought aloud. “Just who are you answering to, I wonder?”

 

To be continued…

 

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