Sundown – Chapter 38 (Part 2)

[21st of September, 2740 AD; New Prime Minister’s Office, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

As the night followed the sunset, Ayanna was busy trying to get some last minute paperwork in her office through when Dierk walked through with Gale. Ayanna continued sorting through each document until Dierk approached the desk and placed his hand down on the desk. Ayanna looked up and saw Dierk and Gale standing next to each other.

“I’m sorry to interrupt you and your work, but Miss Kunigunde is here to see you,” Dierk said. “She says it’s important, so I’ll leave it up to you whether or not you want to talk to her.”

Ayanna placed the document on her desk and stood up. “Thank you, Dierk,” she replied, shaking his hand. “I can take it from here.”

“Understood, lieutenant general,” Dierk said. “I will be going on my way now. For now, I’ve got to see what Miss Brynjarr is up to.”

He spun around and hurried out the door. Gale, meanwhile, approached the desk and shook Ayanna’s hand.

“Please, let’s take a walk,” Ayanna said. “I’ve been working the past few hours on papers, I just want to get out of this stuffy place for a moment.”

“Okay,” Gale said. “What did you have in mind?”

“Oh, it doesn’t have to be anything in particular,” Ayanna replied. “We can just take the time to get some fresh air while we talk.”

Gale nodded. “I got it,” she said. “You must have been really busy with what’s happened today.”

Ayanna sighed as she walked with Gale down the hallway. “You haven’t even seen the half of what I’ve been going through,” she said. “Meeting after meeting and it’s only getting more tense what with having to discuss things further with the prime minister.”

“You and the general have been on your toes all day, huh?” Gale asked. “I can only imagine what the two of you had to go through today.”

“So far, we’ve been stuck at a standstill regarding the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn,” Ayanna said. “They’ve been cooperative so far with Prime Minister Dezine, but right now there’s been some disagreement regarding the action to take with Ahnlikohn.”

“Yet we know why,” Gale said.

Ayanna knew, too, but there was not much she could do in this position. It proved to be frustrating since there was little that could be done to convince Wilson Dezine of the Queen of Thekohn’s involvement with the Neu Thekohnian Order. All Ayanna could really do was hope that the others would be able to find a way to convince the queen herself. As long as Rain was on their side, Ayanna knew there was a chance, but even so, she also knew that that chance was slim to none. Still, Ayanna continued to keep on believing in hope that everything would work out in the end.

“You know what?” Ayanna asked.

Gale perked up. “What is it?”

“Let’s go to that cafe close by,” Ayanna said. “I think now’s about the time for some dessert, don’t you think?”

“I’m not that hungry, to be honest,” Gale replied, “But I could go for some tea right now.”

They were already on the ground floor as Ayanna opened the doors. The light posts illuminated the street as a couple of cars passed on either side. A few people were beginning to cross the street as there were no other cars in sight. Ayanna and Gale followed and soon found themselves on the other sidewalk with the cafe right next to them. Inside, they were surprised to find Kirk, Lowell, and Tre sitting down near the entrance with Kiku, Ayame, and Igor.

“Oh, Kirk, I didn’t expect to find you guys here,” Gale said. “What’s going on?”

“Well, we were just speaking with Yamazaki earlier and she had to go into a meeting with the prime minister,” Kirk answered. “Miss Izumi wanted to come along with us, I guess.”

“We’ve been here for quite a while,” Lowell said.

“But it’s been so nice getting to speak with you, LP,” Kiku replied. “You’ve all got some interesting tales to tell and I’ve been curious about them for a while. At least Quirky was able to tell me a little more about his son!”

“No offense, miss, but I’m not here for chit-chat,” Lowell replied. “Tre, don’t you think that it’s about time we take action and begin making move on towards the kingdom?”

Tre took a sip of his tea. “I must say, you really have a good eye for tea, Miss Izumi,” he said. “Also, you were right when you said the orange scones were like nothing I’ve ever had before. I guess that even an old man like me can discover new things, after all!”

Kiku smiled. “I’m glad you enjoyed it, Tracy.”

“Damn it, Tre, did you not hear me?” Lowell asked.

“I sure did,” Tre replied. “I’ve given it a lot of thought and I know we’ve got to put our butts on the line if we’re gonna go and stop this wound from festering, but what do you think is the best plan of attack?”

“If I may, perhaps there’s some way that I can help out,” Gale said, taking a seat at the table.

“What’s on your mind, Gigi?” Kiku asked.

“It’s about what they’re planning to do,” Gale replied. “Right now, I know Sorin and Gavin’s groups are already taking their routes to the kingdom, but there is one path you can take.”

“You’ve got this all drawn out or something?” Lowell asked. “Because it’s easy to just say you’ve got something, but showing it is a different story.”

“Yes, I can draw something out,” Gale said. “Igor, do you mind lending me your napkin?”

Igor eyed the napkin underneath his cup. “This one? What for?”

“Just give it to me, please,” Gale said. “Does anyone have some sort of pen or pencil I can use?”

“Yes, Gale, I do,” Kirk replied, taking out a pencil from his breast pocket. “It’s a little used, though.”

Gale looked at the pencil and found no eraser on the other end. “It’s fine,” she said. “So as we’re speaking, we have one group here…”

She drew a circle at the top of the napkin and pointed a line to it with the label “Sorin.” Gale started to draw out the border lines with each country labeled in their respective area.

Gale then began to write on the bottom of the napkin. “And then there’s another group down here…”

This one was labeled “Gavin” and was positioned in the area marked as Maietakohn. But Gale was not done yet and proceeded to draw another circle on the map as Kirk and Lowell leaned in.

“There’s one more group we have,” Gale said, “And that’s you three.”

She drew arrows coming from each circle and pointed them over to the area labeled Thekohn. Sorin’s group was up at the top and Gavin’s was on the bottom, but the group labeled “Kirk” was in between the two as it was pointed directly at Thekohn.

“I’ve taken the time to study the maps some more,” Gale said. “What I’ve found is that there is a way for you to get to Oelaans without going through Helm or Bel.”

“Seems you’ve done your work,” Kirk replied. “Though I thought that that route was closed off years ago.”

“Officially, it is,” Ayanna said, “But the ‘Thekohnian Highway’ still exists and some have indeed used it, though I can’t exactly say it’s advisable to drive down that path.”

“Whatever is the reason, Ani?” Kiku asked.

“Ah-nee?” Ayanna wondered. “Never mind. The reason why it’s not considered a good idea is because even though the road was supposed to be fixed, the measure to do so was blocked.”

“Yes, I think I heard about this,” Ayame said. “The highway itself is shared between the four countries and thus the leaders have to come to an agreement in order for the measure to pass.”

“Who would block it, though?” Igor asked. “Wouldn’t it be more convenient to have it open? Why block the measure?”

“Oddly enough, it was Ahnlikohn’s leader, Chancellor Harring,” Ayanna replied. “He refused to put his signature on the measure and ever since then, the road has been closed down.”

“How curious,” Kiku said. “Gigi, do you have any idea why he might have done that?”

“I’m not exactly sure,” Gale replied. “Still, I think that you should take the chance on this.”

“Well, maybe we should put this up to a vote,” Kirk said. “Lowell, do you agree with her?”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical,” Lowell replied. “Yes, the highway is a good bet, but no way is it suited for us to drive there. And you can count out walking because it would take too long.”

“For a normal car, no, it’s not suited to drive on that highway,” Ayanna said. “But we do have vehicles at the base just outside of the city that are made for offroad conditions.”

“Sounds like we’re in luck, then!” Tre said, slamming his hand on the table. “Come on, Lowell, we can’t deny it’d be fun to do a little off roading!”

Lowell placed his hand on his forehead and turned away. “I’m way too old for this crap.”

“I think it’d fit the three of you well,” Kiku said. “Haven’t you always wanted to be a little more rebellious in your life, LP?”

“Your imagination runs a little too wild at times,” Lowell said. “But I guess there’s no other choice strategically.”

“Then it’s settled,” Kirk said. “I think it’s about time we prepared, anyway. Lieutenant general, we’ll be coming to you tomorrow morning.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Ayanna replied.

Kirk, Tre, and Lowell stood up and said their goodbyes. Once they left the cafe, Ayanna decided to go and order something while Gale looked down at the napkin before her. That was when she realized something.

“They forgot to take the napkin,” she said, “And Kirk forgot his pencil, too… Oh well.”

“You don’t seem that upset about it,” Igor said.

“Not really,” Gale replied. “I kind of expect them to find the highway without my help. Seems like I just said a lot for nothing, honestly.”

“Don’t be like that, Gigi,” Kiku said. “I enjoyed hearing you speak and come up with that plan of yours.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Gale said. “Say, didn’t you have a flower in your hair earlier?”

“Oh, I gave it to Nona before he left,” Kiku replied.

“I see,” Gale said.

“Yeah, he was all nervous when I gave it to him,” Kiku said. “I wonder if he’s still holding on to it right now and thinking of me…”

 

*****

 

[21st of September, 2740 AD; outside of Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

Walking through the woods, Erik struggled to stay to his feet as he tried to cover his wound and minimize the bleeding. He had to make it back to the truck and use the first aid kit inside before he had to go back to Rezar. Night time was already here and Erik felt his vision begin to blur as he fell to the ground.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Erik said. “I can’t die here!”

With his strength escaping him, Erik began to crawl across the ground, grabbing the dirt and using his feet to keep moving. He had no idea where he was right now, but he had to be close to the truck. His breath left him with every move he made until he could not move any move any more. With no more strength to move forward, Erik felt his eyelids become heavier down until darkness surrounded him.

“Damn it,” he said. “Sorry, Korbin…”

It was only a few minutes late that Erik had come to and woken up in the back of the truck he had come in on. He looked around and found Harold Mars sitting in the driver’s seat. Erik then looked down at his stomach and found that he had already been bandaged and saw his coat hanging off of the back of the passenger’s seat.

“You’re awake,” Harold said as he drove.

“Mr. Mars! I’m surprised you’re here,” Erik said. “What brings you to Ahnlikohn?”

“You clearly don’t understand who I am,” Harold replied. “You should be lucky that Korbin likes you, otherwise I would have just left you to die.”

“Well, thank… thank you,” Erik said. “I guess you’ve already figured it out, huh? They’re already heading on their way to Oelaans…”

“Fortunately for you, that’s no longer your problem,” Harold said. “You’ve done well enough to bumble around and let them off the hook.”

“Mr. Mars, sir, I promise you that next time, I won’t fail!” Erik exclaimed. His outburst caused him to cough again, once more with blood exiting from his mouth. “Fucking woman… she really had the guts to do that, didn’t she?”

“Don’t talk,” Harold said. “You’re in delicate condition and it’s obvious you’re not suited to fight any time soon.”

“This is nothing,” Erik replied. “You can count on me, just ask Korbin.”

“You think I give a shit about what that idiot thinks?” Harold asked. “No, you should sit back and let the adults handle what you could not. You let the princess of Thekohn go and I cannot excuse that!”

Erik could not reply. What could he possibly say in this situation to convince Harold otherwise?

“And as for that disgrace of a human being, she will not last long on her own,” Harold said. “Our main concern is with the royal family. If our goal is to be realized, then we must tie up every loose end.”

“All of them?” Erik asked.

“Did I not tell you to shut up?” Harold asked. “It is as I say: that queen is still here only because she’s still useful to us. The same goes for Lauren Ahga, as well. Once our victory is assured, we will waste no time in eliminating them.”

 

To be continued…

 

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