[21st of September, 2740 AD; Executive Hotel, Entrance Lobby, Rezar, Iiayikohn]
The night had passed and now it was a new day as Sorin got up from bed. One of the first things that he did was call the Executive Hotel to see if Ayame and Igor made it back safely. Kiku replied to him with a fortunate tone as both made it back to the hotel last night. However, there was one concern that Kiku did have and she requested that Sorin and the others visit her at once. When they arrived, they were met with a big surprise.
“Sorin, you’ve finally made it,” Kirk said.
As Kirk, Gamil, Lowell, Rado, and Tre joined with Kiku and her mother, Sorin could only stare at them with his sight not breaking for even a moment.
“I should be the one saying that to you!” Eva said as she walked up to Kirk. “What the hell have you been doing?”
“Eva, please, it’s not that important,” Kirk replied. “There’s much more pressing matters to discuss right now.”
Eva scowled. “I should just smack you in the face right now,” she said, “But I’m not going to dwell on that. What did you three want to discuss?”
“Oh, Evie, I didn’t know you could be that cute while you’re angry,” Kiku said. “Quirky and his friends decided to drop by and greet my mother, so I figured you all would love to have a sit down with each other.”
“What about the bodyguards?” Gavin asked. “Where are they?”
“They’re upstairs,” Kiku answered. “They looked pretty pooped after all that happened, so I just left them to cuddle with each other.”
“Too much information,” Lowell said. “Look, we wanted to meet with all of you because we couldn’t just sit on our asses anymore and wait for evil to strike again.”
“We got a tip from Henry about something going on in the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn,” Kirk said. “Given that you just came back from there, I would assume that you know firsthand about what has happened. Isn’t that right, Your Highness?”
“That’s correct,” Rain replied.
She explained to them about what she and the others had discovered about the Neu Thekohnian Order and who the real leader was. How the Queen of Thekohn decided to orchestrate an entire war against Ahnlikohn and manipulate Prince Amile Ahnle into killing Alan.
“I see,” Kirk said.
“So Alan’s blood was spilled all so Iiayikohn could be justified in being the queen’s puppet,” Gamil said. “I could just punch a wall right now, but I don’t want to hurt my knuckles.”
“If you want, I can punch that wall for you,” Mina replied. “I’m just as angry as you are about this, Mr. Gomel!”
“As you should be,” Tre said. “So many people will be hurt because of this and this Neu Thekohnian Order is going to be laughing their heads off while they wait for the dominoes to fall.”
“There’s one thing I don’t understand,” Rado said. “Why pick Ahnlikohn? What do they hope to accomplish?”
“Sometimes, it’s always the simple reason,” Kiku Yamazaki answered. “I think you would agree with that, wouldn’t you, Kirk?”
“That is indeed a good reason,” Kirk said. “More or less, this seems like a power grab by the queen. Although, I can’t place my finger as to why, considering the fact that there’s nothing wrong in the kingdom as far as I know.”
“Well, whatever the reason, we know who was behind Alan’s murder,” Eva said. “I don’t care if she’s the queen… I just want her dead.”
Rain looked down and away from Eva.
“That bad, huh?” Pekka asked.
“I’m sorry, Your Highness, but she truly is a horrible human being,” Eva said. “Anyone who would kill for such a selfish reason deserves to die.”
“I know that she is a terrible person,” Rain said, “But at the end of the day, she is still my mother.”
“Yeah, I can see why you would feel that way about what Eva said,” Law replied. “Hell, even the thought of Eva running that sword of hers through someone gives me goosebumps.”
“That spirit of yours is admirable, Eva, but the obvious problem that would pop up would do nothing but only make things worse,” Lowell said. “Believe me, I want nothing more than to bring Queen Isla down for what she did to Alan, but it would do us no good to retaliate senselessly.”
“I know that,” Eva said. “I’m more than willing to find a way to remove her from her throne so long as she receives her punishment afterwards.”
“It may be difficult, though,” Noa said. “Are we so certain that we can truly oust this queen?”
“Yes,” Rain answered. “We can convince her to step down.”
“Now that sounds pretty senseless,” Law said. “So we’re just going to walk on in and ask Isla kindly to please step down from her throne?”
“She would if her being the queen were to become a detriment,” Rain said. “That’s one way we could get her to surrender.”
“Your idea, while noble, may not be the best option,” Tre replied. “If we’re to resolve this without much bloodshed, then we can’t go about bringing danger to the kingdom, can we?”
Rain sighed. “You’re right,” she said. “I don’t wish to put all of those people, my people, in danger because of this.”
“Then we’re back where we started,” Gavin said. “Shit, this isn’t helping us one bit, is it?”
“Son, if there were an easy way out of this mess, we would have found it a long time ago,” Lowell said. “Unfortunately for you, the real world isn’t that easy to figure out. Not right this second, anyway.”
“I fear that we’ve no time,” Rado said. “How much longer do they wish to wait until they take it out on Ahnlikohn?”
“That’s something we don’t know,” Lowell replied. “Damned morons over at the prime minister’s office have no clue of the blood, sweat, and tears we helped pour into making this peace possible.”
“I still have my in, though,” Law said. “Of course, I’m not sure where Ayanna is right now but there’s still that route.”
“I wonder,” Yamazaki said. “Kirk, you still have that connection to Karim, don’t you?”
“It’s been a while since we’ve spoken to each other,” Kirk replied. “Though I’m sure he’d be happy to see me again.”
“Oh yeah, that general dude,” Law said. “He and I seemed to get along pretty well when we went to Bel.”
“There could be a chance to work with him again,” Eva said. “Of course, if he’s willing to do that for us.”
“Any possibility that exists, we know when can strive toward it,” Kirk said. “So if I can get in touch with Karim, I’m sure he would help out.”
“From what I gather, I can assume that you’ll be the one making the call,” Lowell said. “Granted, it would be foolish to lead a single prong straight into enemy territory, so we’ll have to work out who’s going where.”
“That’s not going to be a problem,” Gavin said. “I’ve already set up who’s going where since I knew that we would have to split up down the line.”
Lowell rubbed the side of his head. “You live for this moment, don’t you? Always thinking like you’re a leader and whatnot, right? Well, it’s a good mentality to have, so lay it on me.”
“Right then,” Gavin replied. “Since Lawrence and I already have rapport with General Khadir, it would be best if the two of us, along with Eva and Noa, make the trek to Bel.”
“Wait, why me?” Noa asked.
“Don’t ‘why me,’ dumbass, you know why I picked you,” Gavin said. “You know all there is to know about the Maeitakohnian army, which will be an asset to us if we want to move forward.”
“Then it looks like things are settled,” Law said. “So we’re going to go talk with the guy down there and he’ll just help us, then?”
“Let’s just focus on meeting him,” Eva replied. “Kirk, does this mean you’re coming, too?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” Kirk said.
“Kirk’s got a different mission with us,” Tre said. “It’s a kind of top secret joint that the rest of us can’t just tell you all.”
“You could at least tell me,” Eva said.
“I’ll tell you in private after this,” Kirk replied. “Not when there’s so many people around.”
“So what about us?” Sorin asked.
“Well, that’s going to be left to me, I guess,” Gale said. “Based on the conflict with Ahnlikohn right now, it looks like trying to go through there will not be an option if heading to the kingdom is our goal.”
“If that’s the case, I may just have a solution,” Pekka said. “If it’s alright with you, I’d like to discuss this with the rest of you.”
Sorin looked around. Of the people remaining, it was him, Gale, Mina, Rain, Luna, and Pekka that were most likely going to be the group heading through the north route to the kingdom while the other group went southbound. This did not include Sorin’s father or his allies, nor did it include Kiku or her mother. At least, that was the assumption.
“So away from here, then?” Sorin asked.
“Exactly,” Pekka replied.
The understanding between the two led them to head to one of the side rooms in the main floor of the hotel, but not before saying goodbye to the other groups first. There was no telling when they would be able to reunite again, but Sorin knew that it was only a matter when, not if, they reached the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn that they would all be together again and finally deal with the true leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order. Sorin hoped that they would all be ready to go by then.
[21st of September, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Nest of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
People shuffled around outside the Glora Grand Hall as Johan watched from a distance. According to the guidebook, this outdoor area was called the “nest” of the building, which was fitting considering that it was named for the royal family. That was why it only made sense for Queen Amelia to show up as several soldiers gathered on stage while Harring began to give his speech. Johan took no time to listen; after all, he was only here to confirm the prince’s location. He noticed the pay phone nearby as he turned back over to the stage.
“I don’t see him yet,” Johan said. “I guess they’re keeping the prince under high security right now…”
“So you did decide to come here. Looks like Korb’s suspicions were right.”
Johan turned his head to the left and saw Crawford Bradley standing beside him. He was the only one to show as Korbin and the rest of his crew were nowhere to be found. A quick scan of Bradley revealed that he was unarmed and the only thing that was visible on his uniform was a communication device. With that settled, Johan looked back to the stage where Harring was still giving his speech to the crowd while the queen continued to watch.
“My sources brought me here,” Johan said. “It seems that someone from the Neu Thekohnian Order is trying to interfere with the queen’s speech.”
“You know, it wouldn’t be surprising to me if what you said last night was true,” Bradley said. “The comment about you working with the Neu Thekohnian Order, I mean.”
“What makes you think that it’s true?” Johan asked. “After all, you said it was just a joke, or at least a poor idea of one.”
“It makes me wonder what you’re really doing,” Bradley replied. “Given your rank, it wouldn’t be too out of the realm of possibility to infiltrate the enemy and gain information on them.”
“We both know that such a thing is preposterous,” Johan said. “If I were to walk into a base that was occupied by the Neu Thekohnian Order, I would be killed the moment they spotted me.”
Bradley looked over the crowd. “You have a point.”
“So where is Korbin, anyway?”
“He’s observing the crowd from another place,” Bradley replied. “It does us good to have an advantage in case anything happens to go wrong. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Is this all part of the ‘damage control’ you talked about?” Johan asked.
“You could say that,” Bradley said. “It seems like they’re taking their time bringing the prince out. I wonder if I should give them a call…”
“There’s enough time,” Johan said. “The chancellor is still giving his speech, after all.”
“Quite a long-winded one, I’ll say,” Bradley replied. “This guy’s just going to go one for a while, isn’t he? I’m getting impatient.”
Johan sighed as he continued to observe the stage. There was nothing he could do about Bradley for now, nor did Johan want to do anything about him. He just had to remain diligent as he watched the chancellor continue on with the speech before the crowd. It would be easier for Johan, though, if he could just get Bradley out of the area.
“Are you sure this is a good area to observe the speech?” Johan asked.
“I’m sure,” Bradley answered.
“Interesting,” Johan said.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, if what you’re doing is important, I would think it to be easier if you got closer to the stage,” Johan replied. “That way, you’d ensure that nothing could possibly go wrong.”
Bradley tilted his head upwards. “You might be right, Johan Kuu,” he said. “I’m sure everything will go off without a hitch regardless, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be that much closer to the action.”
He did a brief scan from left to right as Johan took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Bradley was almost there, Johan thought. All that needed to be done now was to lead Bradley to where Johan wanted him to go.
“I think Harring’s about done with his speech,” Johan said. “Better go now, unless you want to be stuck in the back of the crowd.”
“Then I’ll go,” Bradley replied. “Oh, before I part, a quick reminder: you’d do best not to cross Korb again; I can’t guarantee that things will end well for you, otherwise.”
“Thanks,” Johan said, “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”
Not another word was said as Bradley left from the vantage point to the lower level. Johan watched as the chancellor walked off the stage as the queen made her way towards the podium. Meanwhile, the two princes were escorted onto the stage with a high amount of security surrounding them. The pay phone was unoccupied, but Johan decided to wait and see what happened next before he had to make the call.
“Let’s see what we’ve got out here,” he said.
Onstage, Queen Amelia began her speech as both Amile and Amos took their seats at the back. She began by greeting everyone present as she went into the events that had happened over the past few days. Throughout her speech, Johan could see Amile fidgeting in his chair as Amos placed a hand on his shoulder. There was no avoiding what had transpired between Amile and the prime minister of Iiayikohn and everyone listening to Amelia’s speech knew that, which was why Johan made sure to pay extra attention to what she would say next.
“There is no denying to what has happened to Alan Berry,” Amelia said. “As queen of this country, responsibility eventually has to fall on me and this is no exception. What Amile has done cannot be erased, nor can we pretend that the assassination never occurred.”
From the tone in the queen’s voice, Johan could tell that she meant every last word. At the very least, he knew that the speech was convincing enough for the people in the crowd to buy it. However, there was a job to be done and Johan had little time to waste.
“That is why we will pursue a fair trial for Amile,” Amelia continued. “I will not look the other way for any longer! We will not be intimidated by outside forces for any longer! Our country, our people, we shall rise up in the name of justice!”
Cheers followed the queen’s words, only to be interrupted by a thundering rattle of metal crashing to the ground. Everyone looked around as Korbin Mars, the unexpected guest, crashed the speech with a rifle in his hands as he and the rest of Bradley’s troop ushered themselves onto the main stage. The security guards stood up and aimed their guns at Korbin and the others.
“Excuse me, but you have no right to barge in onstage,” Amelia said. “Guards, please escort these men off the stage.”
The guard in front nodded. “Will do!”
“If you want your beloved son to leave here unharmed, you will do as I say,” Korbin said as he pointed his gun at Amile. “I can pick him off right here and no one could do a thing about it.”
“You… you have some nerve!” Amelia exclaimed.
Korbin grinned. “I get that a lot,” he replied. “Here’s what you’re going to do: you’re going to surrender Prince Amile Ahnle to the Ameci military.”
“I don’t have time for this,” Amelia said. “Guards!”
The guards aimed their guns at Korbin and his troop, but were dispatched in a swift manner as Erik and the troops with him caught them off guard from the other end. Several guards dropped to their knees as Korbin moved closer to Amelia.
“We don’t take no for an answer,” he said to her. “I can just as easily kill you, too, but we don’t want to risk an international incident, do we?”
“Did General Fercewend put you up to this?” Amelia asked. “I can’t believe he would even–”
Korbin pressed the barrel of his gun into the side of her face. “No more questions,” he said. “Now I suggest you head up to that podium and finish your speech while we take care of the prince for you. Now!”
Two of the soldiers behind Korbin hurried over to Amile and dragged him along until they were offstage. Amos stood up and followed after them, but was stopped as Korbin thrusted the butt of his rifle into Amos’ face. The young prince fell to the floor as Korbin began to kick him in the chest.
“You have nothing to do with this, you useless son of a bitch!” Korbin exclaimed. “Just lay there and die!”
“I can’t! I can’t do this!” Amos said. “I can’t live without my brother! I just can’t!”
“What are you doing to Amos?” Amile asked. “Tell me, damn it!”
He struggled, but the two soldiers grabbing his arms would not let him go.
“Stop resisting,” the threatening soldier said.
“You would do best to let it all happen,” the arrogant soldier told Amile. “Everything now will all be over soon, anyway.”
“What… what do you mean?” Amile asked.
“Brother! I won’t let them take you away!” Amos said as he stood up. “I won’t let you take him away!”
He sprinted towards the two soldiers that were holding Amile captive, but was brought down by a bullet in his lower back. Korbin raised his rifle as Amos’ body plummeted to the floor.
“You should be lucky it’s not a killing blow,” Korbin said. “Come on, Erik, let’s go already.”
“Of course,” Erik replied.
“You scoundrels,” Harring said, “You think you can just come in and tell our queen what to do? You won’t get away with this!”
Korbin scoffed. “I think we already did,” he said. “We’ve got you all surrounded! There’s no way you have the upper hand!”
“The military won’t let you get far!” Harring said. “This is grounds for war!”
“So be it,” Erik replied. “You’ve already lost, anyway.”
“You… you trick!” Harring exclaimed.
“Erik, let’s hit the road,” Korbin said. “Besides, it’s about time for the big finish, isn’t it?”
Erik chuckled. “You’re about right,” he replied. “Bradley’s got the vantage point, after all.”
He joined with Korbin as the soldiers joined them as they helped Amile off stage and to the truck close by. Amelia was resigned to her speech, but as she did, she was in shock as another truck came in and plowed through the crowd. It was another truck that belonged to the Ameci military, running over various civilians as Korbin and Erik watched. Harring moved to the backstage as the remaining guards helped escort Amelia and Amos out to the back. Johan remained witness from his vantage point to what happened before his eyes and could only sigh at the tragedy before him.
“I should make that call now,” Johan said. “I’ll tell Ahga that everything went exactly as expected.”
To be continued…