[19th of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Outdoor Lounge, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
It had been almost two weeks since Sorin reunited with both his father and Gale, but now it was almost time for the summit to begin. Sorin waited for Rain in the hotel near the Glora Grand Hall. Prior to arriving in Glora, Sorin heard from Mina that she and Rain were going to arrive from Maeitakohn and were going to stay at the hotel during the summit, so he decided to move on to Glora before they arrived. Sorin did not go by himself as Gale and Gavin traveled with him, with the others arriving the next day. The three sat at the bar close to the doors while they continued to wait for the others to show up.
“So have you kept up with Johan?” Gale asked.
“It’s been two days since we last spoke to each other,” Sorin said, “But he should be somewhere in the country right now. I can’t say for sure where he is, however.”
Gavin placed his drink down on the counter. “Seems like he’s continuing to keep his profile low,” he said. “The Ameci military probably already knows about him by now, I think.”
“But they don’t know where he is,” Sorin replied. “Even I don’t know… I guess that’s what worries me about him.”
“Johan is one of those guys who works best when he has control,” Gavin said. “He was able to fool all of us for a while because he never did anything to put that control in jeopardy.”
“That’s why he pretended to be one of the Neu Thekohnian Order, right?” Gale asked. “That was why you were so determined to find out.”
“He depended on it,” Sorin said. “I knew Johan was crafty, but I had no idea that he was capable of pulling off something like that by himself.”
“Yet it nearly got him killed,” Gavin said. “As long as that shitbag still roams about, it’ll be tough for your buddy to move easily.”
“I’m concerned about Korbin, too, but there’s little that I can do about him right now,” Sorin said. “All I really can do is wait for Johan to show up.”
“Well, we have to settle it with that asshole somehow,” Gavin replied. “He and his crew are out for blood and we know that he’d probably do anything to get it. Just keep your guard up. You too, Gale.”
“I’ll be sure to remember that,” Gale said. “Though I’m not at all a fighter like the rest of you…”
“It’s not about fighting,” Gavin said. “At least, you shouldn’t hope it comes to that. Anyway, how is that idea of yours going along?”
“Oh, that,” Gale said. “I received a call from Rohan the other day and it looks like there’s interest from Sosimo Hudde.”
“Sosimo Hudde?” Gavin asked. “Why does that name sound familiar?”
“He was an ally of my father and Eva,” Sorin said. “One of the swords of eight, if I recall. Looks like he’s gotten big into investing and has his own business as well.”
“That’s right,” Gale said. “We were able to set it up so that I could meet him here during the summit.”
“News to me,” Gavin said as he took a drink from his glass. “Really starting to wonder when Lawrence is coming in, however. Called him this morning and he said he’d let me know, but that’s not good enough, damn it!”
He slammed the now empty glass back down on the counter and turned away from the bar, but not before leaving a tip. Sorin and Gale got up and left a tip as well and joined Gavin as the three headed towards the fountain. As Sorin sat with Gale on the bench, Gavin looked at the flowing water from the fountain and crossed his arms.
“One quick thing,” Gavin said. “I’m sure you two feel the same way, but I’d be careful about what you say about Foundation going forward.”
“Why’s that?” Sorin asked.
“If they can drop people like Rhodes and Isla without a hassle, then they can do the same to people like us,” Gavin replied. “Avoid bringing them up in public, that’s my advice to you.”
“I don’t think we’re planning on doing that,” Gale said. “At least not until we’re sure we can take down Isaac.”
“Gavin, if you’re worried about us, let me assure you that you don’t have to worry about Gale and I,” Sorin said. “I’ve got a plan… Or, at least, Johan has a plan. We’ll be sure the plan will go off without a problem.”
“Even if you’re certain about that, I’d still exercise caution,” Gavin said. “This is the same organization that’s been pulling the strings behind the likes of the True Thekohnians and the Neu Thekohnian Order, and Isaac’s the one who’s got all of the resources to do it.”
It was true, Sorin thought. The amount of money that Isaac Kunigunde had was staggering. The way both the True Thekohnians and Neu Thekohnian Order were set up, only to be brought down in the end, it was all part of Isaac’s plan to gain more money. The fact that Isaac could remain in the shadows as it all went down was the added bonus, but now that there were people who knew how he was responsible, that fact changed.
“We’ve got the kingdom on our side,” Sorin said. “We’ve got many other allies as well, I’m sure.”
“That’s all good, but we shouldn’t be taking Isaac lightly because of that,” Gavin replied. “The man can put on a convincing mask, that’s for sure…”
“But we know his real face,” Gale said. “He’s not the kind businessman that he would like people to believe. Far from it.”
“Our words won’t matter to a lot of people,” Gavin said. “If we’re going to stop him, it’ll have to be through action. We need irrefutable proof that Isaac worked together with both terrorist organizations. Something that will sink him without any chances of salvage.”
“I just that whatever Johan has up his sleeve will be enough,” Sorin said. “I just have to hope that he comes through soon.”
Sorin leaned his back against the bench and tilted his head back. The passing clouds went by as he contemplated what he should do in the meantime. As he did, he heard the door open from the other side and the sound of footsteps following after. He looked over to the door and saw Mina and Rain entering the outdoor lounge.
“Ah, you guys are here after all!” Mina exclaimed. “Rain and I were looking all over the place for you three!”
Sorin stood up from the bench. “I thought it was obvious,” he said as he shook Rain’s hand, “But we’re all glad that you’re here.”
“Well, it was worth walking around, wasn’t it?” Rain asked. “It’s always a good thing to give the legs a stretch, I’ll say.”
“Sure sounds like it,” Sorin said while he tried to greet Mina.
“Wait, I want to see something first,” Mina said, reaching her right arm out. “I want to see how strong you’ve gotten! Let’s arm wrestle!”
“Right now?” Sorin asked.
“Of course,” Mina replied. “We can do it right by the fountain!”
“I don’t know how this is relevant,” Sorin said. “Aren’t we supposed to discuss what’s going to happen?”
“Sorin, if we can’t test our strength, then what are we going to do when we’re up against the bad guys?” Mina asked. “Come on! Let’s go and do it already! Or are you scared that I’ll kick your butt again?”
“No, I’m not scared,” Sorin replied.
“We’re already here,” Gavin said. “Might as well get it over with, Sorin.”
“Wait, you too?” Sorin asked.
“Of course,” Gavin replied. “It’s all about remaining strong and on top of things. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t partake in this match with Mina, now is there?”
“Okay,” Sorin said, turning his head towards Gale. “What about you?”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Gale answered.
“Huh, I guess so,” Sorin said. “Okay, Mina, I guess we’ll take care of things right by the fountain… Gavin, you don’t mind, do you?”
“Go ahead,” Gavin said.
“This should be fun,” Rain said. “Maybe take another step back, Gavin? Who knows what might happen between them?”
“Now you’re just making it sound worse,” Sorin said as he knelt next to the edge of the fountain and looked at Mina. “Guess I don’t need to ask you if you’re ready, do I?”
Mina glared at Sorin. “There’s no turning back now,” she said. “This is the absolute test of our strengths, so bring out your worst! And by that, I mean your best, Sorin!”
She placed her elbow up on the edge of the fountain as Sorin did the same. Sorin could not back down now, nor did he want to disappoint Mina, so he had little choice but to comply. He met his hand with hers and the two locked in as the match of wits and strength began.
“Okay, here goes nothing,” Sorin said.
Mina grinned. “You’ve just made a terrible mistake, Sorin!”
She took the lead in an instantaneous manner. Sorin could feel pressure coming from Mina as he found his hand getting closer to the surface. However, he was not about to give in and tried his best to maintain his stance and prevent himself from losing. He used his free hand and grabbed the edge of the fountain, setting himself up so he could try and build up some momentum. As he did, Sorin began to push back against Mina as he began to feel the momentum turn his way. He looked over to Mina, who was now staring down at the floor.
“Wow, I had no idea you had that kind of strength in you, Sorin,” Mina said, “But I’ve been getting better, too! Watch this!”
It was a slight change, but Sorin felt everything turn the other way. Mina gained the advantage once more as she moved his arm back to the surface again. There was little Sorin could do to stop it as he had no way to resist the subsequent burst of power coming from Mina. With a decisive slam of Sorin’s hand to the fountain’s edge, Mina emerged the victor as Sorin tried his best not to fall into the fountain. She then stood up and began to celebrate with the others while Sorin got up to his feet.
“I guess I know when I’ve been beat,” Sorin said.
“Oh come on, that was really fun, Sorin,” Mina said. “You almost had me beat there for a moment, you know!”
Sorin chuckled. “Don’t remind me…”
“That was very entertaining,” Rain said. “I’m glad that you were able to measure up your strength against one another. Anyway, what have you three been doing today?”
“We’ve just been here,” Gale replied. “We were talking about what we were going to do against Isaac, though.”
“Yes, truly we can’t avoid talking about him,” Rain said. “No matter what happens here, we’re still focused on Mr. Kunigunde and his influence. Actually, I spoke with the current president the other day.”
“Bradley’s father?” Sorin asked. “Did you bring up what happened with him?”
“I did, briefly, but I found his response to be lacking,” Rain answered. “If General Fercewend were there, then maybe there would be some accountability for the incident in Rezar.”
“Probably doesn’t see it as a big deal,” Gavin said. “You know, given that Crawford Bradley holds a pretty high rank in the military and is in good standing with Fercewend.”
“That may be true, but even so, it’s important to address the concern,” Rain said. “You were once a member of the military, were you not?”
“Yes, I was, which is why I know that the best way to move up is to be on good terms with the general himself,” Gavin replied. “Me, for example, I’ve only met with him a handful of times, while others have seen him on a day-to-day basis. Plus, I’m not in the military anymore, so I don’t have that connection like I used to.”
“Well, there will be a lot to address with the two of them,” Rain said. “It will be very important to build up a relationship with Ameci, Elemci, and Oci with this timeframe. Let’s hope that Bradley’s willing to cooperate in Hasker’s absence.”
“You obviously sound like you have your doubts,” Gavin said. “Well, there’s not much we can do about Ameci at the moment…”
“What do you want to do, Gavin?” Mina asked. “Where’s Law, by the way? Doesn’t he usually go with you?”
“He said that he has something he needs to do with Ayanna,” Gavin said. “I’m not too into that loop, so I decided to just come with these two here. What about you, Mina? I assume that your trip has been quite an experience traveling alongside Rain and her advisers.”
“Yes, of course!” Mina said. “It’s been very fun getting to see all these sights! Especially in the south!”
“Indeed, we had a lot of fun,” Rain added.
“I’m surprised you two were able to find any sort of time for any leisure,” Gavin said. “Even with a two week span, it’s still got to be a hassle to go from country to country.”
“Don’t worry, we found a way to spend some time off schedule,” Rain said. “Anyway, maybe we should go inside now and see if anyone else has arrived. You don’t mind, do you?”
“Of course not,” Sorin replied.
“I’m fine with that,” Gale said.
“Sure,” Gavin said. “We’ve been waiting out here for a while, regardless. Just lead the way.”
“Well, then, Mina, perhaps you’d like to go ahead?” Rain asked.
“I thought you’d never ask!” Mina exclaimed. “Follow me, everyone! We’re heading to the lobby!”
With that, everyone followed after Mina as she rushed towards the lobby. Some doubt remained, but there was little cause for concern in Sorin’s mind as he kept his focus on what he had to do next. Soon enough, Johan would arrive, Sorin thought as he followed Mina and the others.
To be continued…