[21st of September, 2740 AD; Cupressaceae Markets, Bel, Maeitakohn – Cupressaceae District]
Gavin walked through the open area out in the middle of the marketplace with Law, Eva, and Noa near him. He had placed a call for General Khadir earlier, but was told that he was unavailable at the moment. When Gavin asked how long it would take until Khadir came back, he was told it would take an hour at very most. That was why Gavin decided to head to the local marketplace now that peace was restored to Maeitakohn. As people passed him, Gavin looked around and decided on a place to visit.
“Come on, Lawrence,” he said. “We can head to this weapon shop and see what they’ve got.”
“You really want to go?” Law asked.
“Give me a fucking break,” Gavin replied. “We don’t have much of a choice, anyway, so we might as well spend some time. Besides, it could help us out with our resistance.”
“If that’s what you two are going to do, then I guess I’m going to do some browsing of my own,” Eva said. “I think that it would be good if we regrouped after half an hour has passed.”
“What am I going to do, though?” Noa asked.
“I guess that that’s up to you, buddy,” Law replied. “You could always go around and see what they’ve got around here.”
“And you would be more familiar than any of us with what’s here,” Gavin said. “It’s not like we’ll be split for too long, so you should take some time off before we decide what to do next.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Noa said.
“You don’t really want to disagree with my bro,” Law said. “Well, whatever you do, don’t try to think too much about Kiku, okay?”
“I… I wasn’t going to do that!” Noa exclaimed. “Why… Why would you think that I just go off like that?”
“I was suggesting a different kind of ‘off,’ if you catch my drift,” Law replied. “I’m not going to make fun of you, you know; it’s perfectly natural if you want to find a place all to yourself and imagine all of the things you could do with just her…”
“Okay, I think it’s about time we did our own thing,” Gavin said. “See you two in thirty minutes.”
Gavin dragged Law away in the direction of the weapons shop. Meanwhile, Noa just sighed as he turned to the opposite direction. Eva took a deep breath and looked at Noa before he walked away.
“Don’t let him get to you,” Eva said. “He’s just trying to look out for you in his own way, strange as that sounds.”
“I guess,” Noa said.
“And whatever it is with Kiku, I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it,” she said. “Just don’t overthink it and remember that she’s still a person regardless of her lineage.”
“I’ll try to,” he replied.
“Sorry, I’m just not that great at giving other people advice,” Eva said. “It’s not something I usually do…”
“I’ll make sure to remember that,” Noa replied.
Eva exhaled and began to walk away. “Do that, then.”
Noa stood around the main plaza trying to decide what he wanted to do in the thirty minutes given to him. Meanwhile, Gavin and Law found themselves looking around the weapons shop for anything they could possibly use. Gavin already had a gun in the holster strapped to his side, but he knew that it would not hurt to have extra firepower for the group. A certain gun caught Gavin’s eye as he walked over to the counter where the clerk stood.
“Excuse me, but is there a chance I could take a look at that gun?” Gavin asked. “Just out curiosity, of course.”
“Hey, bro, look at this,” Law said as he walked up with a short dagger in his hand. “You think that this knife suits my style or do you think should I go for a blade with a much longer range?”
“I don’t know why you’re asking me,” Gavin replied. “I’m the gunslinger, not the knife novice!”
Law spun the dagger in his hand. “Maybe I should get Eva’s opinion,” he said. “Say, you’re looking at something, too. Got something to say?”
“Well, I was interested in that revolver,” Gavin answered.
“I’m sorry, sir, but we only sell to members of the Maeitakohnian military,” the clerk responded. “That’s the law around here.”
“What? Then why the hell do you did you open store out here in a damn marketplace?” Gavin asked.
“It’s very common to see soldiers come to the marketplace during the day,” the clerk replied. “It’s good business to locate here.”
“That’s what it looks like, bro,” Law said. “Wonder if we could get Noa to help us out with our little problem here…”
“That asshole’s probably off just wandering around like an aimless child,” Gavin replied with a clenched fist. “You know what? I’m going to go look for him. Lawrence, just hold down things here until I get back.”
“Really? You don’t want my help?” Law asked.
“I know you,” Gavin said.
Without waiting for Law’s response, Gavin left the shop and looked around to see if he could find Noa. A fast scan through the crowd revealed to Gavin that Noa was standing not too far away from him. Though Noa was busy looking off into the sky, Gavin hurried over and tapped Noa on the shoulder, which caused him to startle and turn around.
“Ah! Don’t… Don’t do that!” Noa exclaimed.
“I was trying to get your attention, you dumbass,” Gavin said. “Sorry. I wanted to get your help with something and you’re the only person who can do this for me.”
“It’s nothing too hard, is it?” Noa asked. “I don’t want to do anything that’ll make me feel uncomfortable…”
“You’ll be fine,” Gavin replied. “Lawrence and I just need a member of the Maeitakohnian military and you just happened to fit the bill.”
“Oh, okay,” Noa said.
The two walked back to the weapons shop where Law waited and tried to gain some insight into what they could purchase. The clerk behind the counter was happy to help now that Noa joined the two brothers.
“Yes, yes, this certainly is valid identification,” the clerk said. “Noa Mzade… why is it that I feel like I’ve heard that name before?”
“It must be your imagination,” Noa replied. “We’ve never met at all before today.”
The clerk laughed as he handed back Noa’s identification. “You’re might be right. Lots of soldiers pass through this store, so I probably just got confused. What would you like?”
“What would we like?” Gavin asked. “You’re speaking as if this shop is some sort of confectionary.”
“Some may see it that way,” the clerk said, “But that’s not to say anybody’s actually eating the weapons here! No, no, no, that’s not at all what I meant!”
“Good lord,” Gavin said. “Let’s just get our shit and get out of here already. Noa, you know what to do!”
“Wait, what do you want me to do?” Noa asked.
“Well, it’s either stand there gawking like an idiot or do the purchasing,” Law replied. “Either way, you have to do something.”
Gavin groaned. “Yes, do that! That’s exactly why I asked you to come with me,” he said. “Tell this man that we’ll be paying!”
“Okay, okay, just don’t get angry with me,” Noa said.
As Noa helped Gavin pay for the gear, Law turned around and looked outside the door. Nothing changed while Gavin and Noa completed the sale as Law went over to pick up the dagger he picked out and put it in its sheath.
“Looks good,” Gavin said.
“Thanks,” Law replied. “Same to you, bro.”
“So now that we’re equipped, I think it’s about time we headed back,” Gavin said. “I’m sure Eva is bored waiting for us already.”
The three men left the weapons shop and got back to the central area of the marketplace, but Eva was nowhere to be found. Gavin attempted to locate her, but could not find any trace of her.
“Damn it, didn’t we say that we’d meet in half an hour?” Gavin asked. “It’s not like her at all to be late.”
“You don’t think she’s in some trouble, do you?” Noa asked.
“I don’t have the slightest clue of where she’s gone off to,” Gavin replied, “But I doubt that she would be in the midst of battle already.”
“Relax, you two,” Law said. “Let’s just use the process of elimination to find out where she went. Luckily, I’m already ahead of the both of you.”
“Just tell me,” Gavin said.
“I noticed a tavern from where we entered,” Law replied. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find her enjoying a good beer right about now.”
“The way you say it makes me think you already know she’s going to be there,” Noa said. “Does that mean you’re right?”
“It’s only a guess,” Law said. “Though you could say that my guesses usually turn out to be correct, wouldn’t you agree, bro?”
“Let’s go check the bar,” Gavin replied. “Besides, we don’t have much else to do for now.”
They took a couple of minutes to get there, but the three had arrived at the bar and Gavin could not believe his eyes. Eva was standing at the bar itself and with her was General Khadir as the two were busy drinking. It appeared that the two were already in the midst of drinking as several empty glasses stood out on the surface. There were some other soldiers in the bar as well, cheering as Khadir downed another glass.
“I must say, Bellamy, you sure know how to hold your own in a contest,” he said. “But no longer! I have to head back before President Mahrk starts wondering what I’ve been doing.”
“You coward,” Eva replied as she slammed her empty glass on the counter, “You’re just too chicken to admit defeat! I’ve already proven I can hold my own with you, you big bastard!”
“A fire only burns as long as there’s enough fuel to feed it,” Khadir said. “I can see that your fire still burns strong and I can respect that, but it seems that your colleagues have already arrived.”
Eva looked to the entrance. “Oy, you guys want something?”
“We were looking for you,” Gavin answered.
“Luckily for us, our man is already here,” Law said. “General K! How are you doing today?”
“Kicking ass as usual,” Khadir replied before he busted out into laughter. “Ah, but you’re not here to catch up on old times, are you? I still have to thank you for your assistance the other day, you know.”
“Hey! Don’t distract yourself with them,” Eva exclaimed. “We’ve got unfinished business!”
“I’m sorry, general, she usually is much more level than this,” Gavin said.
He approached Eva from behind and wrapped his arms underneath hers. As Gavin tried to pull her back, Eva struggled and tried to reach for her glass but to no avail.
“Come on, already,” Gavin said. “I would expect this sort of behavior from Lawrence, not you!”
“Don’t be so rowdy with me,” Eva said. “I can feel your arm pressing up against my chest! Or is there something that you’re trying to tell me, Gavin?”
Gavin loosened his grip, which allowed Eva to escape. “Damn it, that’s not my intention at all,” he replied. “I was just trying to stop you from getting drunk off your ass!”
Eva laughed as she pulled back up to the bar. “I’m only joking just because I know how much it flusters you,” she said. “Karim, are we going to continue this or are you going to admit defeat?”
“I’m afraid I must withdraw,” Khadir replied. “Clearly I cannot match the spirit that you possess, at least not now. If I were still in my twenties, I would have shut down this entire bar myself!”
“I don’t know what’s more impressive,” Law said, “The fact that you’d shut down an entire bar with your capacity or that you’d take the time off of your busy day to do it.”
“Well, I could go into detail, but I know that you want to meet me for a different reason,” Khadir said. “Gavin Power, was it? I see that you and Noa are getting along well.”
“You could say that,” Gavin said.
Noa hid behind Gavin as he peered over to see the general. “Nice to see you again, sir,” he said. “I’m sorry…”
“Mzade! Stand tall like you mean it,” Khadir replied. “Haven’t I told you that you need not worry about others? You’re one of the best snipers in the military, damn you!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Noa said. “I had gotten lost along the way and I didn’t know where to go or what to do and I’m not sure what my mission even is anymore and I just was so afraid to call you and ask for help!”
“Hey, didn’t I tell you not to worry?” Khadir asked. “I would have thought that you would have learned something from hanging around with Bellamy and her friends here.”
“Don’t ask me,” Eva said. “Noa’s been too busy thinking with his lower head to even form a coherent thought!”
Khadir chuckled. “I see,” he said. “Mzade, were you so overtaken with Miss Bellamy that you’ve got no idea what to do now?”
“It’s not her,” Noa replied. “She scares me. It’s actually the daughter of the Kikuishan empress… er, I mean, it’s nothing at all like that!”
“So you finally say it,” Law said. “Too bad Kiku’s not here to hear you say that, or maybe you think you’re better off that way because you think she would just make fun of you, right?”
“Stop it,” Noa said, “You’re not helping at all!”
“For once, I agree with you,” Gavin said. “I want to cut to the chase, general. We’re here because we’re in need of some help independent of Ameci and Iiayikohn.”
“Some help?” Khadir asked. “Well, I was with the president earlier, talking to the leaders of both those countries.”
“You already spoke with them?” Law asked. “About what?”
“I see you haven’t heard the news,” Khadir said. “They’re already making plans to advance on Ahnlikohnian territory.”
“And you’re just telling us this now?” Gavin asked.
“Damn it,” Eva said. “Who’s the one responsible for making the call?”
“Is there a problem?” Khadir asked.
“There is,” Gavin replied. “Our friends are currently in Helm right now and on their way to the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn as we speak.”
“I see, so it’s the concern about your friends that drives you,” Khadir said. “Now that I think about it, were you not headed there previously?”
“Only to Oelaans,” Law said. “Yeah, I can’t say that my bro or I have ever been past the border to the kingdom. What’s say you, Eva?”
“That doesn’t matter,” Eva replied. “What we need to do is get moving already. General Khadir, I’m sorry it took me so long, but I was hoping that you’d be able to help us.”
“I can’t say that I can help you unless I know the full story,” Khadir said. “Besides, President Mahrk wants to work with the Ameci and Iiayikohnian militaries on this attack and there’s little I can do to change his mind.”
“Sir, I know what has happened between Ahnlikohn and Iiayikohn, but hear us out,” Noa said. “If there is any way possible that you could assist us, then it would be greatly appreciated.”
“Well, when you put it that way, Mzade, I am compelled to listen,” Khadir replied. “I was going to go back to the military headquarters to meet with the president, but I suppose I can call my secretary and tell her I’m going to need another twenty minutes.”
“You’ll do that?” Noa asked.
Khadir patted Noa on the shoulder. “What kind of general would I be if I weren’t attentive to the requests of my men? A bad one, that’s what. Now tell me, Noa, what kind of help do you need?”
To be continued…