Sundown – Chapter 9 (Part 2)

The rustling of trees caused Noa to turn his head. What he saw sent him into a shock as the Ameci military were fast approaching his position. He had already set up his weaponry, and with how close the soldiers were closing in on him, Noa wondered if they were coming for him.

“Shit! W-Why are they coming here!?” Noa asked.

He hustled over back to his sniper rifle and started to disassemble it. There was no doubt in his mind that Noa would have to find a new point of attack if he wanted to take Jelka Arne out, but if the Ameci military was here as well, then he might as well back out.

“Nobody told me that I’d have to deal with these guys!”

The soldiers were getting closer, Noa thought to himself. He wanted to get out as quickly as possible, but his fumbling of the parts made it difficult to do.

“Hey, you,” Korbin said, “What are you doing here?”

Noa jerked his head towards Korbin’s direction as the other soldiers soon arrived. He could not speak as he dropped to the ground on his backside.

“Go away!” Noa said. “I’m not doing anything suspicious!”

Korbin looked over at the partially disassembled rifle. “You’re sure?”

“Mars, what’s going on?” Henry asked as he walked up to see what was going on. Sorin soon joined up with Henry and saw Noa stumbling on the ground.

“Looks like some guy just got lost,” Korbin replied. “That or maybe he’s one of those True Thekohnians.”

“No, no, no! I’m not a True Thekohnian!” Noa exclaimed. “You’re wrong!”

“He’s wearing a Maeitakohnian army uniform,”  Henry said. “Have you been separated from your squad, soldier?”

Noa crawled over to his rifle and commenced taking it apart. “No, this is a solo mission,” he replied. “W-Wait, why am I telling you that? You’ll just use that information for your own selfish needs!”

“We’re not here for that,” Sorin said.

“Hey, come on, Sorin,” Korbin said, “This guy probably has some useful information. Perhaps we should rough him up a little and see if he’ll answer us!”

He laughed as Noa hurried his disassembling.

“That wasn’t funny,” Sorin said.

“Leave the jokes at the base,” Henry said. “Though I would like to know why a Maeitakohnian soldier is out here all by himself.”

“It’s none of your business!” Noa replied.

“Hold on,” Korbin said. “Do you hear that?”

Sorin looked around as he set his eyes on a lone man standing around outside one of the trailers nearby, twenty-five yards from where they were. The man appeared to be scoping out the area as well until his eyes set on Sorin and Henry’s group. He started to run off but Korbin quickly drew his gun and fired, taking the man down with a headshot.

“How do you like that, Maeita?” Korbin asked. “There’s more of them up ahead, I can feel it!”

Korbin dashed in the direction of the man he just shot as Henry tried to stop him.

“Damn it, Mars,” Henry said. “Fuck, we better move out; they’ve almost certainly heard that by now.”

“What about him?” Sorin asked of Noa.

He turned around and saw that Noa had already ran away.

“Forget him for now,” Henry said. “You’ve got my back, Sorin. Goddamn it, Korbin, why the hell did you…”

Henry grumbled as he led the other soldiers after Korbin, whose laughter was heard throughout all of the complex. One thing Sorin knew, though, was that Johan was in there somewhere and he had to save him.

“Just have to have strength,” Sorin said.

He hopped over the bushes and ran in the direction of the trailer. Already several of the Neu Thekohnian Order were out in the open and shooting as Henry and the other Ameci soldiers hid behind a few of the large boxes laying about. Sorin looked for cover and opted to hide behind the trailer by the entrance. This was not the desired predicament that he wanted to be in, but Sorin had to think of a way out for everyone involved and fast.

“Sorin! Sorin!”

Sorin looked around. He tried to figure out who was speaking to him, but the Ameci soldiers were too busy dealing with the enemies to talk.

“Look up!”

Upon the voice’s request, Sorin looked up and could not believe it. Johan poked his head out of the window and smiled. The only reactions that Sorin had were shock, which soon turned to relief.

“Johan!” Sorin exclaimed.

“Lucky for you that I’m here, right?” Johan asked. “If it were anybody else, you’d be in a lot of trouble here…”

“I guess it’s good for both of us that this happened,” Sorin said. “Are you okay? You’re not hurt, are you?”

“Not a scratch, buddy,” Johan replied. “Could use a little more space, though. Maybe you can help me out?”

“Of course,” Sorin said.

He walked up to the door while the action continued behind him. Sorin turned the knob and pushed the door open to see Johan standing right behind the bars. A quick scan of the room provided very little to help open the cell door, much to Sorin’s dismay.

“The whole not having a key is kind of a problem, to be honest,” Sorin said.

Johan laughed. “Well, it’s not like you have another way to break that lock,” he said. “I’ll stand back over here, just in case.”

He backed himself up against the wall as Sorin drew his sword. The lock was a small but bulky lock as it kept the cell door from opening. There was only one thing for Sorin to do and so, he swung his sword at the lock. The blade’s impact upon the lock was strong enough to startle it open and have it drop to the floor. Johan walked forward as the door creaked open and Sorin walked in.

“Missed ya, buddy,” Johan said as he brought Sorin in with an embrace.

“How long has it been since we last spoke?” Sorin asked.

“Quite a while, I guess,” Johan replied. “What’s going on with you now?”

“It would take a while to explain,” Sorin said. “Come on, let’s try and get out of here so we can meet with the others.”

“Got it.”

Sorin led the way out of the trailer as he and Johan caught a glimpse of the action that was already moving forward. Henry was nowhere to be seen, but two Ameci soldiers were still there reloading their guns. Their view, though, turned to Johan as they both beamed upon his presence.

“Johan!”

“Wow, so you were rescued by this guy, huh?”

Sorin started to walk, but Johan stepped in front of him and extended his arm. His eyes darted from left to right, his expression remaining unchanged as the wind rustled through Johan’s hair.

“Look out,” Johan said.

With no hesitation, the Ameci soldiers dropped to the ground as a forceful kick to one of the nearby crates sent it flying to the fence. Sorin turned to see Jelka standing in the entrance of one of the alleys, her sword drawn as she set her sights on Sorin and Johan.

“What a pain,” she said. “You really like to make our job difficult for us, Mr. Kuu, do you know that?”

“Sorry,” Johan said, “But I told you that I don’t plan on dying, didn’t I? My buddy Sorin here has nice sword himself and I bet that he can take you on.”

Jelka scoffed. “You believe this man can take me? No one, man or woman, can match me when it comes to a swordfight,” she replied.

She stared at Sorin, who remembered their encounter only a few days prior. He reached for the handle of his sword as the Ameci soldiers behind Jelka raised their guns.

“Don’t even try with me!” Jelka exclaimed.

She turned around and swung her sword at the two. Both soldiers tried to fire their guns but the swing of Jelka’s sword struck hard on their hands that it caused both of their guns to break and drop to the ground. The two reacted by standing up and running away. Jelka shook her head and turned back to face Sorin and Johan.

“Let’s not waste any time,” she said. “I’m interested in seeing if you really can take me on, boy.”

“She’s all yours, buddy,” Johan said as he patted Sorin on the back.

“Thanks,” Sorin said as he took out his sword. “I have only one question I want to ask you: what were you doing in Jiaikohn with Rysol?”

Jelka rested her sword upon her shoulder. “Fine, I’ll entertain your question since you asked so nicely,” she said. “There was a specific request I had to fulfill from a client. A business procedure, if you can call it that.”

She pointed her sword at Sorin, who got into a stance.

“But enough talk,” she said. “It’s time for me to finish you and that pesky spy off!”

Jelka dashed at Sorin with her sword raised as he tried to fend her off. Her quick movements made Sorin dodge from left to right as her attack continued. With each swing of Jelka’s sword, Sorin promptly defended with his sword. Their blades clashed as Sorin struggled to find an opening for an attack.

“You’re stronger than I gave you credit for,” Jelka said. “Something tells me that you’re more than you let on.”

“I’m only here to rescue him,” Sorin replied. “That’s all!”

“Now that I think about it, that man was your brother, wasn’t he?” Jelka asked. “I’m starting to see now exactly who I’m dealing with.”

She backed off as Sorin kept his sword up. Whatever she had planned next, Sorin had to keep on his toes as he waited for Henry and the rest of the soldiers to return. His eyes focused on Jelka as she took a deep breath.

“You may have the legacy of a washed up ‘hero,’ but I am different,” she said. “Only a handful of people have seen what it’s like to go up against the ‘Eagle’ of the Thekohnian Region!”

“Sorin!” Johan called. “Watch out for her right jab!”

Sorin watched as Jelka ran towards him, but instead of going with a jab, she leapt up into the air. He only had a split second to react as she brought her sword down. With a quick raise of his sword, however, Sorin was able to block Jelka’s attack.

“This isn’t over yet!” Jelka said.

She flipped over Sorin and appeared behind him. Though he turned around, Jelka continued her relentless attack. He could only defend himself until Jelka was able to bring in an attack with her free hand. The attack to Sorin’s face startled him as he dropped to the floor. Jelka raised up her sword, the sunlight reflecting off of it and to the ground.

“This is the end!”

But before Jelka could swing, she was interrupted by Johan. He delivered a quick uppercut to her face which sent her reeling away from Sorin.

“Consider this an unwritten rule of mine, Miss Arne,” Johan said as he rubbed his fist. “I always help my friends whenever they’re in trouble.”

He turned to Sorin, who was still on the ground. With Johan’s hand reaching out, Sorin grabbed it as Johan brought him up to his feet.

“I might not be able to do much,” Johan said, “But as long as Sorin’s here, I feel like we can take you on!”

“You are unarmed,” Jelka said as she stood up. “It was only lucky chance that you got the better of me.”

“Sometimes all you need is luck,” Johan replied.

“And a bit of skill,” Sorin added.

The other soldiers were getting closer as Jelka sheathed her sword.

“There’s little you can do now, anyway,” she said. “Go ahead, take your friend with you.”

“Wait a minute,” Sorin said. “You can’t just bolt out of here like that!”

“Just watch me,” Jelka replied, “Then you will finally get to see an ‘eagle’ fly before your very eyes!”

She ran up to the nearby trailer and started to dash up the wall. Jelka reached for the top of the trailer and grabbed the edge as several of the Ameci soldiers started rushing in. Before they could do anything, though, Jelka leapt up onto the roof and sprinted away from the scene.

“Damn it,” Sorin said. “I really wanted to ask her something, too.”

“Best to leave it be,” Johan said. “She’ll be caught sooner or later, I imagine.”

“Sorin, so glad I found you,” Henry said.

Henry walked up to Sorin and Johan, while Korbin trailed behind Henry. They were finally reunited as Korbin just stared at his feet.

“Seems like we’ve taken care of most of these assailants,” Henry said. “Looks like things turned out better than I thought they would, despite one person’s recklessness.”

“Sorry about that,” Korbin said. “I just got a little trigger happy and things just became a blur for me.”

“We’ll be sure to discuss your actions later, Mars,” Henry said. “Right now, I just want to affirm that Kuu is safe.”

Johan relaxed his arms behind his head. “Take a good look at me, junior lieutenant,” he said, “Just as happy as I’ve ever been.”

“Glad to hear that,” Henry said.

“So what happened to those other assailants that you were talking about?” Johan asked. “Is there any good information that we could draw out of them?”

Henry shook his head. “There’s already another troop coming here,” he replied. “I think it would be best if you went back to the embassy in Rezar.”

“Looks like you just don’t want me to do my job,” Johan said. “No, it’s totally fine with me. I wanted to catch up with ol’ Sorin here and see what’s been going on with him, anyway.”

“I’d like that,” Sorin replied.

“Well then,” Henry said. “Looks like we’ll get to go home a little earlier than I expected. I’m going to stay here until the other guys get here, so why don’t you and Sorin take the ride back with Arrington?”

Aron stepped forward. “If you would.”

“Let’s go, then,” Johan said. “Can you bring us back to Rezar before nightfall?”

“That’s what I’m here for,” Aron replied. “If the roads are fair, we’ll be back in the city before the sun sets.”

“Sounds good to me,” Sorin said.

 

*****

 

[9th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Castle Royal Queen’s Room]

 

Lauren Ahga walked into the queen’s room upon the request of Queen Isla Zano Thedam herself. She stood at her vanity, eyeing her long brown hair in the mirror as Ahga approached her.

“Sir Lauren, you’ve arrived early,” she said. “Is it just myself, or do you absolutely have nothing else to do?”

Ahga chuckled. “You know I am a diligent man, Your Majesty,” he said. “I’ve other tasks that I have already completed before I got here.”

“What a proud man you must be,” Isla said as she put on her necklace.

“I only do it for this family,” Ahga replied. “That’s worthy of earning your majesty’s approval, is it not?”

“You’re doing fine,” Isla said. “The role you have played so far has been more than admirable for me.”

“Those words are all I could hope to hear from you,” Ahga said. “Anyway, what exactly did you need of me?”

Isla moved over to sit on the chaise by the wall. “Tomorrow is a rather important day,” she said. “I take it that you’ve already spoken with Brook?”

“Last I saw of His Highness, it was almost a week ago,” he replied.

“That’s odd,” Isla said. “He was supposed to have come home after the tournament.”

“Perhaps he’s already made his way for the summit?” Ahga asked.

“It’s unlike him to make these decisions without my knowing,” she said. “So be it. Sir Lauren, I take it that you’ll prepare my luggage?”

“Of course I will,” he answered. “I do have one question, Your Majesty. Do you mind if I ask?”

“By all means, go ahead.”

“Merton… er, I mean, the king, how is his health these days?” Ahga asked. “It’s been quite a while since I’ve spoken with him.”

“Do not worry yourself about him,” Isla replied. “The doctors are busy attending to him as we speak, so I would advise you to worry about yourself.”

Ahga smiled. “Advising is my job, Your Majesty,” he said, “But thank you, I will take your words to heart.”

“Besides, even if something were to happen to him, that does not spell the end of this kingdom,” Isla said. “Do not forget that a capable leader is sitting right before your very eyes, Sir Lauren.”

“Capable and beautiful,” Ahga said. “That’s something that no one can take from you, I must say.”

Isla laid down. “Such flattery is befitting of you, Lauren,” she said, “But there’s something I must do before we leave this evening.”

“I understand, Your Majesty,” Ahga said.

“You can call me Isla,” she said. “Just as long as it’s behind closed doors.”

Ahga’s eyes perked up. “Is that really okay?”

“Just between us,” Isla replied. “Now head off; I have other matters to do right now.”

“As you say, Isla,” Ahga said. “I must attend to preparing your bags, after all.”

Ahga exited the room as Isla continued to lay on the lounge. She looked up into the white ceiling as a smile grew upon her face.

“Hmph, it seems like he’s unaware of the true situation,” she said. “It’s quite a shame, though I cannot blame him.”

Isla then got up off of the chaise and walked to the window as she viewed the courtyard below.

“I will save this kingdom,” Isla said. “By any means possible, I will save it!”

 

To be continued…

 

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