[11th of September, 2740 AD; Old Church Steps, Helm, Ahnlikohn]
Korbin flaunted his sword. “Bring it on, Sorin Wilk!”
The air felt warm on Sorin’s face as he gripped the handle of his sword. He had no idea how Korbin was going to attack but had to anticipate anything. Sorin knew that this was not just a random enemy, but an Ameci soldier that knew of Sorin’s father. Whatever Korbin had planned, Sorin had to stay on his toes.
“I can see the look upon your face,” Korbin said. “That’s the look of uncertainty. The look of a man that hesitates to kill when given the chance. Well, allow me to show you what I’m made of!”
In that moment, Korbin rushed Sorin, swinging his sword swiftly. Sorin stopped each successive strike with his sword. With each attack, Sorin struggled to find an opening for a counterattack. Korbin’s wild and almost unpredictable attacks continued to keep Sorin on guard.
“What’s the matter, Sorin?” Korbin asked. “I haven’t even begun to sweat and you look like you’re ready to drop to your knees!”
Sorin stood his ground, blade raised. “You certainly didn’t lie about being good with a sword,” he said. “Who did you learn from?”
“So you like my style, don’t you? Well, I guess I can share that bit with you,” Korbin said. “Well, it’s a bit off the style that my dad says is from Lauren Ahga, whoever the fuck that is.”
“Wait, you can’t possibly mean that you know Sir Lauren, do you?” Rain asked.
“Hey, it’s like I said: I don’t know who that is,” Korbin replied. “Dad just tells me and I learn it through strenuous and torturous training.”
“Torturous?” Sorin asked.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t experienced it,” Korbin said. “Everything I’ve done was the result of pain thanks to my old man. Hell, I can still remember the scars he gave me years ago.”
“I don’t even know what I can say about that,” Sorin said.
“Ah, but you really didn’t get the chance to spend a lot of time with your dad, did you?” Korbin asked. “They said that he was a warrior of compassion, always sparing those he fought. Hah, like that’s believable!”
Sorin frowned. “Excuse me?”
“You really believe that shit? Seriously, who would fucking do a thing like that,” Korbin said. “It’d be easier just to end those worthless lives just like that, you know?”
“Are you trying to making me mad?” Sorin asked.
“I’m trying to have a fight here,” Korbin replied, “So make with it and fight me already!”
Sorin felt his anger rising towards Korbin, who stood there as he awaited the next attack. Korbin relaxed his stance, which left himself wide open. It almost seemed too easy for Sorin to strike next, almost as if Korbin expected it to happen. Because he felt that such an attack would prove foolish, Sorin continued to stay where he was.
“You’re almost too calm there,” Sorin said. “Are you sure that you’re not trying to lure me into your next attack?”
Korbin rested the back of his sword on his shoulder. “Only one way to find out, right? Better do it now, or else…”
“I’ve got no choice, then,” Sorin replied.
Sorin charged forth at Korbin. The tip of Sorin’s blade edged closer and closer to Korbin, who turned his body at the last moment. As Korbin brought his sword down, Sorin spun around and raised his sword to block the attack. The sharp clash of the two blades pushed Sorin and Korbin against each other as they both tried to best the other.
“Looks like my intuition was correct,” Korbin said. “The son of Kirk Wilk is quite as good!”
“You forgot one thing, Korbin,” Sorin replied.
Sorin increased the grip on the handle. “I’m not him.”
Korbin felt the sudden pushback as Sorin kicked out his leg and tripped him. As Korbin dropped to his knee, Sorin held up his sword in a defensive pose. Korbin wasted no time getting back up on both feet as he started to laugh.
“What’s so funny now?” Sorin asked.
“I haven’t had a fight this exciting in a while,” Korbin replied. “Usually I just win in a matter of seconds, but you… you really can put up a fight!”
Sorin had no time to respond as Korbin rushed him again. With each swing of Korbin’s sword, Sorin matched it with a block of his own. There looked to be no end in sight to the Ameci soldier’s energy as Sorin continued to block each attack. Then, Korbin landed a strike upon Sorin’s blade, which proved strong enough to knock Sorin to the ground.
Sorin picked up his sword. “Damn it!”
Sorin rolled out of the way as Korbin swung his sword down. As he got up and standing again, Sorin found himself on the defensive once more. The two moved around the front yard of the church, their movements being tracked by the others watching.
“You think someone’s going to come save you?” Korbin asked.
Sorin kept defending each blow with his sword. “What?”
“That friend of yours, Johan Kuu, is it? He’s not going to save your ass,” Korbin replied. “If you really want to stop this, then you know what to do!”
Sorin did not respond. Instead, he charged forth towards Korbin again. Once again, the two men fought with their swords clashing against one another. Another slash, another defend. Now Sorin just wanted to prove a point. He wanted to prove that he was not going to back down. Sorin wanted to prove to Korbin that he was not about to let the Ameci soldier run amuck, doing as he pleased.
“You’re doing a lot better,” Korbin said, “There’s that fire I’ve been waiting for!”
“I’m not going to let you get away with this!” Sorin exclaimed.
With a swing of his sword, Sorin struck Korbin’s blade and caught Korbin off guard. As Korbin backed up, Sorin stood in place as he awaited for what would happen next. Korbin then decided to sheath his sword and laugh, which led to confusion on Sorin’s part.
“Any more like that and you might’ve actually hit me!” Korbin said. “That’s all for now, though.”
Sorin sheathed his sword as well. “You mean that?”
“I just wanted to test you, that was all,” Korbin replied. “Besides, I believe we both learned a little about each other, didn’t we?”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Sorin said.
“You’d be a fool to think I see you as a threat,” Korbin said. “What’s the point? We’re practically on the same side, you and I!”
“I doubt that,” Sorin replied. “You still have to hold up your end of the bargain, don’t you?”
Korbin’s mouth was agape as he laughed. “Well, you certainly are persistent,” he said, “But you’re right. I guess it’s up to me now, isn’t it?”
“You want to just hurry it the fuck up already?” Gavin asked. “Sorin’s already played your little game long enough, so just hand her over, asshole.”
“Certainly, certainly,” Korbin replied. “Erik! You heard the guy in the sunglasses! Let’s get this over with!”
“Alright, then,” Erik said, pulling Silvia along with him. “Come on, you.”
“Oh thank god,” Ayanna said. “You’re not hurt, are you, Silvia?”
Silvia kept herself quiet.
“We’ll have to ask you a few questions when you go back to prison, but at least I’m glad that you’re safe,” Ayanna continued.
“I guess she’s in such a glorious state of shock that she’s got no words,” Bradley said. “It’s a bit anticlimactic, but I guess you guys are going to get what you want, won’t you?”
“Hey, Sorin, you mind moving a little?” Korbin asked.
Sorin felt as if he were caught off guard by that question. “What for?”
“I want to help see the poor girl off,” Korbin replied. “After all she’s been through, I’m sure she deserves a little help to the end.”
He walked over to where Erik and Silvia were and extended his hand. Erik nodded as he handed Silvia over to Korbin. With the two men nodding to each other once more, Korbin led Silvia towards Ayanna and the others.
“Ah, but don’t you think that this is a little too boring, Silvia?” Korbin asked.
Silvia looked back at Korbin. “What do you mean?”
Korbin looked over at Ayanna. “She’s a friend of yours, ain’t she? What’s more touching than to have a moment the two of you will never forget?”
“Dare I ask what you’re talking about?” Ayanna asked.
Korbin cracked a devious smile. “I mean this!”
In that instant, Korbin pulled out the knife from the back of his belt and stabbed Silvia in the back. The sudden, painful shock brought Silvia’s eyes wide as she coughed up blood.
Ayanna exclaimed. “Silvia!”
Silvia was not able to move. “But… why?”
Korbin chose not to respond and instead pulled his knife from out of her back, only to stab her once more. With another stab in the back, Korbin dropped Silvia to the ground as Ayanna hurried over to her side.
“I’m sorry… Ayanna…”
Ayanna held Silvia in her arms. “Don’t be,” she said as tears formed in her eyes, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”
Gavin clenched his fist and directed his sights at Korbin. “You piece of shit! What the fuck is wrong with you!? You were supposed to hand her over unharmed!”
“Now where did you get that idea?” Korbin asked. “I was only going to hand her over; it doesn’t matter if she’s dead, right?”
“The fuck did you just say?” Gavin asked.
“Hey, you should be thanking me,” Korbin replied. “I basically did Iiayikohn a favor by disposing of her. That’s good enough to be called a hero, isn’t it?”
“You’re no hero!” Mina shouted. “You just killed a defenseless woman for no reason!”
“Of course I had a reason,” Korbin said. “She’s a True Thekohnian, so she had to be taken care of. Especially since she had a hand in killing that prime minister!”
“She wasn’t responsible for the prime minister’s death,” Law said. “That was a different party altogether.”
“You’d be surprised how fast the news travels,” Korbin replied. “On the way here, Bradley and I decided to listen to a little radio. News station said that the Iiayikohnian government found a couple of suspects in the assassination of Alan Berry.”
“That’s right,” Law said. “My bro and I caught the guys responsible.”
“Ah, good for you,” Korbin said, “But you see, that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that she was the last one seen with the prime minister. That’s all the evidence in the world to me and my boys.”
“Besides, you two could’ve just caught the wrong people,” Erik said. “Now her, here, she’s the real deal. A True Thekohnian, no less!”
“Like I said: doing a favor for you all,” Korbin said. “Now can I ask that lieutenant general to stop her pathetic display of crocodile tears? It’s really getting on my nerves.”
Ayanna looked down at Silvia’s now lifeless body. “I’m the one who should be saying ‘sorry,’ Silvia,” she said. “The only thing I can do now is make sure that your death won’t be for naught.”
She rested Silvia over to the side and stood to her feet. As she wiped the tears out of her eyes, Ayanna pulled out her gun and aimed it at Korbin.
“You wretched, deplorable waste of a human,” she said. “Have you little regard for the lives of others? All you are is a heartless killer!”
Korbin gave a jovial smile. “So?”
“So? So you’ve killed my friend!” Ayanna exclaimed. “I should just kill you where you stand!”
“Then do it,” Korbin replied. “You know who my dad is, right? I’m sure he’d be delighted to deal with the likes of you.”
“His father’s quite a big deal,” Bradley said. “Has connections all over the place. I’m sure there’d be no time wasted in erasing you.”
Ayanna held her stance. “I’m not afraid of your empty threats.”
“Oh, they’re not empty,” Korbin said. “There’s a name they gave my old man. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? ‘The Ruthless Ameci of the Underworld,’ that’s what they call him.”
“Ayanna, you don’t have to fight him,” Law said. “Because I’m just as willing to do it for you!”
Law jumped forward and rushed Korbin, hoping to land a hit. However, Korbin could see it coming and grabbed Law. He wrapped his arm around Law’s neck and produced his knife once more.
“Lawrence!” Ayanna yelled.
Gavin whipped out his gun and aimed it at Korbin. “Let him go, asshole!”
“If you really want me to unhand him, then do as I say,” Korbin said. “Drop your weapons, leave here, and pretend none of this ever happened.”
“Like hell we will!” Gavin exclaimed.
“Yeah, we’re not going to waste any time taking care of you,” Mina said, “There’s more of us than there are of you!”
“Right,” Sorin said. “What you’ve done is unforgivable, Korbin!”
“Guys, stand down,” Law said. “It’s not worth the trouble to deal with these guys.”
“Don’t worry, Lawrence,” Gavin said, “I’ve got my gun trained on his fucking head!”
“No, bro, it’s seriously not worth it,” Law replied. “Take it from me: it’s better to run from a fight as long as everyone survives.”
Ayanna looked at Korbin, and then to Law. “As much as I would love to deal with this murderer, I have to agree,” she said as she put away her gun. “Revenge is not worth the cost of another, especially if it can be avoided.”
“You’d still trust him?” Gavin asked.
“I’ve got nothing to do with this guy,” Korbin said. “What would I gain from killing him? Nothing.”
Gavin continued to stare Korbin down, but withdrew his gun. Korbin then let Law go, shoving him forward. Ayanna welcomed Law with a hug as she held him close to her.
“I really wish I could’ve done more, love,” Law said.
“You’ve done enough,” Ayanna replied. “It’s me who should have done more. I couldn’t save Silvia…”
“Don’t blame yourself,” Law said.
“If there’s a person to blame, it’s that man,” Rain said as she pointed at Korbin. “Have you no honor?”
“What are you talking about?” Korbin asked. “Me and Sorin agreed to a fight and I honored my end of the deal.”
He laughed as Rain walked up to him until she was face to face with him.
“To carry out such a cruel act and laugh it off as if it’s nothing is beyond atrocious,” she said. “Up until now, I did not believe that there was a person as twisted as you are. Unfortunately, it looks as if I am wrong about that.”
Korbin laughed again. “Oh, you’re serious? That’s truly hilarious! I haven’t been this entertained in forever!”
“Come on, Korb,” Bradley said. “Let’s just get out of here. No reason to keep ourselves occupied with this bunch.”
“I guess you’re right,” Korbin replied. “Hey, Sorin, it’s been a fun time, but looks like these guys are getting bored. Maybe we should have a little fun again sometime in the future?”
Sorin wanted nothing more than to deal with Korbin himself, but instead used his self-restraint. “You’re going to sorely disappointed,” he said. “Just take your guys and get the hell out of here.”
“Oh, don’t be too sad, Sorin,” Korbin said. “This is only the beginning, after all. You really do excite me, you know that?”
At that moment, both Johan and Pariton arrived behind the group. Korbin caught sight of Johan and frowned in an instant.
“You’re too late,” Korbin said. “I got bored and decided to take care of our little problem myself.”
Johan’s eyes lit up. “Oh my god, don’t tell me…”
He hurried past Gavin and Mina and saw for himself. Silvia’s corpse lay on the grass as Ayanna wrapped her coat around the body. Johan lowered his head as Pariton walked up to his side.
“I’m very sorry things didn’t go as planned, Mr. Johan,” Pariton said as he patted Johan on the back.
“We were too late,” Johan said.
“Sad that you couldn’t get to her first?” Korbin asked. “Just goes to show that a meddler like you is only good when he’s out of the way.”
“That’s not what I’m upset about,” Johan replied. “It’s clear that that woman meant a lot to Miss Ansa over there. I had my doubts about you, but I didn’t think you’d take it this far!”
“Shit, all of you are on your high horses today,” Korbin said. “Not like I care, anyway. I got what I wanted out of this, so what good does it do for me to keep talking to you?”
“You owe an apology,” Johan said. “An apology to Lieutenant General Ayanna Ansa, if not the entire Iiayikohnian government.”
“What for? I’ve already taken care of the problem,” Korbin replied. “Say, that man at your side… Is it just me, or does he look familiar?”
“You’re imagining things,” Pariton said.
“Hold on a second,” Korbin said. “I heard there was a mission you took a while back, Johan Kuu. Find a stray True Thekohnian, was it?”
“You’re not wrong,” Johan answered.
Korbin gave an enthusiastic laugh. “Oh, if word of this managed to reach that general, this’d be a hell of a scandal,” he said. “Imagine that a spy would find sympathy for some lowly scum and associate with him, no less! That is, unless I manage to take care of you both…”
He pushed Rain aside and withdrew his sword. Korbin then charged at both Johan and Pariton, who stood frozen in their tracks. Before Korbin could land any attack, Sorin rushed to Johan and Pariton’s defenses. Sorin took out his sword swiftly and blocked the oncoming attack.
“That is enough,” Sorin said.
“Even you’d spare the life of a killer, Sorin?” Korbin asked. “Fine. I would rather have a little chase with Johan before I get him, anyway.”
“You’re going to have trouble with that,” Johan said.
“All the more fun for me,” Korbin replied. “Fuck it, let’s get out here, guys. Get Lance, too!”
Erik nodded. “Understood.”
Korbin and Erik then headed out to the back of the church, while Bradley stayed behind. He looked over at Sroin, who now had put his blade away.
“Consider yourself lucky,” Bradley said. “You’re on Korb’s good side right now, Sorin, which is why he decided to spare your friend there.”
With that, Bradley ran off to join the other two. Sorin then turned to Johan and Pariton, who were busy helping Ayanna with Silvia’s corpse.
“How did you know we were here?” Sorin asked.
“I can explain that later, buddy,” Johan replied. “We need to take care of things here right now.”
To be continued…