[10th of September, 2740 AD; Rezar-Helm Pass, Iiayikohn/Ahnlikohn Border]
Johan looked up to the sky to see a cloudless view looking down upon him. He had just gotten off the bus as it made its required stop before entering the southern part of Ahnlikohn. Of course, Johan regretted not being able to say goodbye to Sorin but knew that it was for the best. At this point in time, he had no reason to be with Sorin. Now, though, Johan had a different man to meet. A raven-haired man with a goatee that waited in the bus stop. Johan smiled as he went over to greet the familiar man.
“I didn’t expect you to come, Korbin,” he said.
“It sounded interesting, so I decided to come,” Korbin replied. “My boys are waiting for me back in Rezar, so hopefully you make this quick.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to make your boys upset, so I’ll comply,” Johan said. “First off, I want to thank you for helping rescue me back there.”
Korbin shrugged. “As long as I get to claim some glory, it’s no problem,” he said. “Besides, it’s that friend of yours that did the saving, wasn’t it? How is Sorin doing, by the way?”
“Quite good, I’d say,” Johan replied. “Anyway, you’re heading off fairly soon, aren’t you?”
“How exactly do you know that?” Korbin asked. “I get that you’re a spy and all, but my mission is a bit of a secret.”
“You shouldn’t concern yourself with how I know,” Johan said. “I would rather be concerned with your superior, instead, and what they’re asking out of you on this mission.”
“You really want to talk?” Korbin asked as he stood up. “Let’s get away from these people first.”
Johan nodded and walked with Korbin until they were a few yards away from the bus stop. The light green grass stood still as Johan observed Korbin kicking some grass off of his boots.
“Tell me something,” Johan said, “You heard about what happened five months ago, didn’t you?”
Korbin scoffed. “Is this a stupid question?”
“Only if you decide not to keep listening.”
“Come on now, you know I don’t have all day,” he said. “Get to the point, Johan Kuu!”
“Full name, huh? Guess I might as well,” Johan replied. “You wouldn’t happen to know the leader of Foundation, would you?”
“That’s a bold question,” Korbin said.
“A bold question deserves an answer, doesn’t it?” Johan asked. “Lokke, Rhodes, they were both involved with what happened, weren’t they?”
Korbin laughed. “You’re coming right to me, are you?”
“I know only what others have said,” Johan replied.
“That’s a terrible lie!” Korbin said as he grabbed Johan by his collar and pulled him close.
“No fooling you, is there?”
“If you’re going to get in my way, then I’ll make sure to put a stop to it,” Korbin replied. “I don’t care if you’re Ameci, so fucking help me god!”
“Then I won’t pursue it,” Johan said.
“You think I’m buying that!?” Korbin asked. “I should just set an example and break your limbs just for fucking with me!”
“Before you do that, I have some information that might prove useful to you,” Johan replied. “Have you heard the news coming from Iiayikohn today?”
Korbin released his grip on Johan. “There’s a story coming out that the prime minister’s been offed,” he said. “I’m not surprised that the old bastard bit it; he had it coming.”
“I’m not surprised you’d react that way, honestly,” Johan said. “Anyway, I have some intel into who might have assassinated him.”
“Do tell,” Korbin said. “I might not have cared for Berry, but I’ll gladly take the spoils as long as it’s fun.”
Johan smiled as he handed a folded up piece of paper to Korbin. “This is the sole piece of evidence I have,” he said. “I’ll say, though, you get really excited for this kind of work.”
“Got a problem, Johan?” Korbin asked.
“Well… no,” Johan replied.
“Good,” he said. “There’s only so much boredom I can tolerate in this piece of shit world, so might as well have some fun before I end up in the dirt, right?”
“If that’s what you believe.”
“It’s what I know, Mr. Kuu,” Korbin replied. “Someone like you wouldn’t understand a complex mind like mine.”
“That I agree with,” Johan said. “Last question: do you think you’ll be able to find what it is you’re looking for?”
Korbin scratched his chin. “I’ve already told you it’s none of your business,” he said. “You know what they say about witless men who stroll too deep into the forest?”
“You don’t need to tell me the answer, Korbin,” Johan said, “But I do have a feeling you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. Especially when it comes to getting that target.”
“Believe me,” Korbin said, “Nothing escapes me or my boys. Not even an assassin.”
“So I take it you’ll read that note for later, then?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to entertain you,” Korbin replied. “As far as I’m concerned, though, we’re done here. Later.”
Korbin walked back to the bus station while Johan decided get back to the bus headed for Helm. As Johan boarded the bus, he saw a familiar face sitting towards the back and sat next to him.
“Nice to see you,” Pariton said.
“Thank you,” Johan replied. “It’s quite a nice day out here, wouldn’t you say, Pekka?”
Pariton laughed. “I take that your meeting with Mr. Mars yielded nothing?”
“Not at all,” Johan said. “In fact, it seems like our friend Korbin might be worth watching after all.”
“If you want me to track him, just say the word,” Pariton replied. “I’ll do anything you ask me to, Mr. Johan.”
“I really don’t like to feel like I’m just ordering you around,” Johan said, “So it makes me happy that you would do this without question.”
“As long as we have hope, right?”
“That is true,” Johan answered. “By the way, Pekka, I was wondering what happened to our friend after you helped him out of prison?”
“Last I checked, he gave up on entering Rezar and headed for Ahnlikohn,” Pariton said. “You’re heading there too, right?”
Johan looked out of the window. “Yeah I am.”
“You think he’ll try to do something during the summit?” Pariton asked.
“Hard to say,” Johan said. “Victor certainly would try to attack, but he lacks the necessary resources. Who knows? Maybe I’ll pay him a visit if I’m anywhere in the area of Glora.”
“Just be careful, Mr. Johan.”
“Thank you for your concern, but I think I’ll be fine from here,” Johan replied. “Besides, you’ve got a stray bird of your own to follow, don’t you?”
Pariton nodded. “You’re right,” he said. “That’s my priority right now, so I’m just going to head off. I’ll be sure not to disappoint you!”
He got up and rushed off of the bus as the horn sounded. Johan sat back and listened as the doors closed. With the bus on the move, Johan thought about what he was going to do once he arrived in Helm. Someone was waiting for him in that town and he certainly could not hold them up there for too long.
Johan smiled. “It’s going to be interesting finally seeing you face to face,” he said. “I’m certainly looking forward to it.”
[10th of September, 2740 AD; Executive Hotel, Entrance Lobby – Deca District]
There was a quiet air through the lobby as Sorin and the others entered. Rain was not around, at least not as far as they could see. However, Sorin looked through the entire lobby and found another familiar friend standing by the fish tank. Even though her face could not be seen, Sorin was certain of who it was by looking at her long, brown hair.
Sorin took a step forward. “Eva?”
“Is that who I think it is?” Eva asked as she turned around.
“Oh my gosh, Eva, it’s been too long!” Mina said. “I thought you were busy back in Ameci with Kirk, though…”
Eva adjusted her hair. “I decided to take a vacation,” she said. “Besides, I missed all of you.”
“Well, the feeling is the same,” Law said. “Kirk didn’t want to tag along? Or is there something you don’t want to tell us?”
“Nothing like that,” Eva replied. “It’s just like I told you: I needed to take a vacation for a while. I’ve only just arrived today.”
“Fine with me,” Law said. “Anyway, you didn’t happen to see any beautiful young ladies passing through, did you? About, say, around my height and with long, wavy locks like yours?”
“I can’t say that I have,” Eva said.
“I have no idea why you’re asking that, Lawrence,” Gavin said. “Sorry, but we’ve been running around all day because of how hectic things are at the prime minister’s office.”
“What do you mean?” Eva asked.
“Oh, shit, that’s right,” Gavin said. “Well, how can I explain it?”
“Gavin, maybe now isn’t the best time,” Gale said. “Let’s just go upstairs and see if Rain is in her room.”
“Please, I think that she deserves to know what happened to the prime minister,” Gavin replied.
Eva’s eyebrows rose. “What’s happened to Alan?”
“I don’t think we have the time to say,” Gale answered.
“No, I think you guys do,” Eva said. “Sorin? Can you tell me what’s going on?”
Sorin looked Eva eye to eye, but hesitated. “Well, I…”
“Not you too, Sorin,” Eva said. “Just tell me! Is Alan okay?”
“I’m sorry,” Sorin said. “I’m very, very sorry.”
“Damn it, if you won’t tell me, then I’m going to find out myself!” Eva exclaimed. “I don’t know what’s happened but I need to know!”
She rushed past the group and exited the lobby. Nobody had anything to say until Gavin decided to speak.
“Since you won’t do it, I will,” he said.
With that, Gavin followed after Eva. All that could be heard now was a single ring of the bell as Rain entered the lobby. Despite Rain’s entrance, all Sorin could think about was how he could have told Eva about Alan’s death.
“You know what? Don’t be too hard on yourself, man,” Law said.
“I’m an idiot,” Sorin replied.
Law shrugged. “She would’ve learned about his passing sooner or later,” he said. “Only question is, when is that going to happen?”
“Should we go after them?” Mina asked.
“I’ll go,” Law answered. “You guys should keep Rain company while my bro and I get Eva up to speed on what went down.”
“That sounds fine to me,” Gale said. “How about you, Rain?”
“Go ahead,” Rain replied. “I’m not sure what’s going on, but it must be important.”
“Later tonight, we’ll work out our plan,” Law said. “Sorin, I want you to promise me that you won’t let your self-doubt get in the way. Got it?”
“I think I can manage that,” Sorin replied.
Law chuckled as he patted Sorin on the arm. “That’s good,” he said. “Now’s the time for me to get outta here and catch up with our two runners. Later!”
Law left the hotel in pursuit of Gavin and Eva while Sorin decided that he would take Law up on his promise. Now that it was just four, he turned to Gale, Rain, and Mina.
“So what’s our plan for today, Rain?” Sorin asked.
“Actually, I was supposed to head over to the prime minister’s office today,” Rain said. “Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of stuff has happened overnight, so it seems I can’t head there right now.”
“Maybe we can still head there,” Sorin said. “Law shouldn’t be too far away and we do know where the prime minister’s office is, after all.”
“Let’s not waste any time, then!” Mina said.
They made their way for the front door and proceeded to leave. As they stepped outside, however, there stood Noa. He dropped his bag to the ground as he took a good look at Sorin.
“S-So it was you all along!” Noa exclaimed. “The infamous Rysol Wilk! I’ve… I’ve finally found you!”
To be continued…