[19th of December, 2740 AD; the south road to Glora, Ahnlikohn]
Johan looked at the mountainous land before him as he stood outside the bus, however, he knew that there was no time for him to bask in the beautiful daylight. A more pressing matter existed and Johan could not afford to sit back. He had to make it to Glora. He had to meet with both Sorin and Jelka before the summit began. And he had to do it while going undetected by the Ameci military and Foundation. Still, Johan had the one trick up his sleeve that he knew would be of use to everyone and he kept it packed in the small bag by his side. If there was one thing that Johan was confident about moving forward, it was his secret weapon.
Nothing else could be said about the ascent to Glora, save for the fact that Johan and the other passengers were waiting for the driver to come back from his break. With little else to do at the rest stop, Johan could only wait; that and wonder where Jelka was at this moment. It had been a bit of time since the two worked together side-by-side in their efforts to stop Foundation. By now, Jelka had to have made it to Glora, Johan thought. But there was no more time for Johan to think about her. The bus driver came back and everyone followed him onto the bus as Johan did the same.
As he walked back to the bus, a fellow male passenger walked alongside Johan and took notice of the bag at his side.
“Just that bag, huh? You a drifter or something?”
“Who, me?” Johan asked. “No, this is purely for business.”
“Really? Well, suppose it’s not my business anyway,” the passenger replied. “Guess I’ll see you on the bus!”
The passenger hurried ahead of Johan as he could only shake his head. It was a harmless conversation, but Johan had to keep his secret weapon close to him. If he was going to expose Isaac Kunigunde, then there was no way he was about to let the contents inside his bag slip away from him.
[19th of December, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Wings of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
“And that makes four-hundred,” Fercewend said. “Looks like everyone is accounted for, don’t you think?”
Henry let out a small chuckle. He and Fercewend stood in the hallway as they looked outside the large glass window. A vivid view of the city of Glora lay before Henry while he waited for the arrival of Tori and the kids.
“You’re the one who’s holding the list, my friend,” Henry said. “Still, are you sure about those numbers? I’m not sure why you’d need that many soldiers for a single summit.”
“You’re right about that,” Fercewend replied.
“Let me take a wild guess,” Henry said, “This has to do with that defector, doesn’t it?”
“It had only become news to me recently,” Fercewend said. “Needless to say that I was quite surprised to hear that he is still alive. As we speak, I am certain of the fact that he is actively plotting Ameci’s demise.”
“Plotting against us?” Henry asked. “How are you sure?”
“You are my friend, yet even so, there are things that I’m not at liberty to share with you,” Fercewend said. “What I will say is that I’ve already made my decision of how to handle this traitor going forward.”
Henry tried to come up with a response, but could not find the right words. True, a traitor to the Ameci military posed a major threat, especially on said to be plotting against his former military. However, Henry found himself in a difficult position, given that he too was once branded a traitor to Ameci. He knew after what had happened a few months ago, his label was lifted and he was able to go on with his life as he knew it. Henry did not know the traitor, at least not in a personal manner, though he wondered if there was a chance that he was being subject to similar circumstances.
“But I shouldn’t dwell on that right now,” Fercewend said. “After all, you didn’t come here to talk about my paperwork, right?”
“I suppose not,” Henry replied.
“You’re still waiting for Tori to get here, aren’t you?”
“That’s the idea,” Henry said. “She and the twins should’ve left the hotel by now, I think.”
Fercewend crossed his arms behind his back. “I assume you’ve got a lot planned, haven’t you?”
“We’ll see where things take us,” Henry said. “Tori was a little concerned given what happened here during the queen’s speech, but it seems to have quieted down quite a bit.”
“Yes, Ahnlikohn has gotten through the chaos,” Fercewend said. “Such a turnaround I would have never expected, but perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised when we’re dealing with the Queen of Thekohn to handle the summit.”
“We should hope it stays this way,” Henry replied.
“Right, which is why we’re going to make sure that no one interferes with the summit,” Fercewend said. “Come on, let’s walk downstairs, Henry.”
Henry went with Fercewend down the stairs to the second floor. On the floor were several officials from the Iiayikohnian military, including General Roderick Reiss. He noticed Fercewend in an instant and began walking towards him.
“Ah, Rohan, looks like we’re in for a good day, aren’t we?” Reiss asked.
“Certainly looks like it,” Fercewend replied. “Just a bright day with nary a cloud in sight! As peaceful as it gets, I say.”
“You’ve got that right,” Reiss said. “I’m hoping that’s a sign of things to come, but we shall see.”
“Sounds good to me,” Henry said.
“Anyway, I suppose that we’ve yet to truly address the biggest problem that stands between us, Rohan,” Reiss said. “You’ve spoken with the commander who was responsible for the incident, have you not?”
Fercewend nodded. “I didn’t want to believe it to be true, which was I had to sit down with Bradley the other day,” he replied. “Based on the conversation, it appears that he expresses regret for the way he and his troops carried out their actions in Rezar the other night.”
“I would hope that you would implement a more disciplinary approach,” Reiss said. “You were informed of all the details, right?”
Henry had only the faintest idea of what had happened in Rezar, given he had only arrived a couple of days prior. There was no reason for him to have any sort of concern regarding the Ameci military, but Henry had concern regardless. He did not know Crawford Bradley on a personal level, but he had always been courteous whenever the two had crossed paths. Yet because of that, Henry felt that there was more to the man underneath the surface.
“I was,” Fercewend replied. “Listen, perhaps it is best that we move on. It’s in the past now, isn’t it?”
Reiss exhaled and shook his head. “I suppose you may be right,” he said. “Just make sure that a similar incident doesn’t happen again, for both of our sakes and for the sake of everyone around here.”
“Understood,” Fercewend said. “Let’s move on, Henry.”
He went down the next set of stairs. Henry followed Fercewend after giving a brief thanks to General Reiss. There was much he wondered about the current state of the Ameci military, especially after serving in it, but Henry was not sure if it was the right place to bring up such issues. He wanted to make sure Fercewend still held his head high, even with a hectic schedule like this, but Henry was not sure how he could even bring it up in the first place. As the two walked down a flight of stairs, Fercewend looked to Henry.
“Something on your mind?” Fercewend asked.
“I can’t help but wonder what just happened that night,” Henry replied. “You told me a bit about it before, but it seems that Reiss has issue with how you handled it.”
“You’re still thinking about Bradley’s troop, are you?”
“It’s not him I’m worried about,” Henry said.
“If it’s who I think you’re talking about, then don’t worry,” Fercewend replied. “Everyone that’s involved with Bradley will be stationed outside Glora, so there will be no cause for concern.”
“I want to believe you,” Henry said, “And I want to believe in Bradley and his troop.”
“You miss the role,” Fercewend said. “I understand. It’s only natural for a man to miss the fulfillment that being a soldier rewards.”
Henry shook his head. “If I’m being honest, I do miss being in the loop,” he replied, “But I don’t miss the stress involved with it. Besides, I’ve got my own path to carve out.”
“That you do,” Fercewend said. “Tell me something, Henry… You’re not just after Mayor of Admorse, are you?”
“What makes you say that?” Henry asked.
Fercewend cracked a smile. “I can tell just by looking at you,” he said. “You won’t stop at just mayor. I know that for a fact.”
“You got me,” Henry said.
“Well, if I know anything else, it’s that you’ll thrive well in the political realm,” Fercewend said. “You won’t back down from anything… Not as long as you’ve got Tori by your side!”
He laughed as the two made it to the bottom of the stairs and the first floor of the building. As if on cue, Tori was waiting near the front door with the twin boys next to her. Once she saw Henry and Fercewend walking from the stairs, she hurried over with the boys.
“There you are!” Tori said.
“Sorry I made you guys wait,” Henry replied as he greeted Tori with a kiss on the cheek. “Papa’s talk with Mr. Rohan just happened to take a little longer than expected, that’s all.”
The two boys ran up to Henry as he knelt down to embrace them. Tori smiled while Fercewend tried his best not to laugh.
“So we were thinking about getting something for lunch,” Tori said. “Surely you can come along, too, right Rohan?”
“Ah, I couldn’t possibly do it,” Fercewend replied. “This was all for you and Henry to experience… Besides, I’ve got an important meeting with the Ahnle Royal Family to attend in a few minutes.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Tori said.
“But if you want, I can treat you all to dinner,” Fercewend said. “It’s not much, but I assume that you’ll enjoy it anyway.”
“I don’t mind at all,” Tori said. “Do you?”
“Of course not,” Henry said, standing up. “As long as you’ve got a place in mind, we’ll see you there tonight.”
“What kind of man do you think I am if you think I don’t already have a restaurant in mind?” Fercewend asked. “Just kidding. I’ll be sure to let the people at ‘Gelden’s’ know about the party size.”
“Good to know,” Henry said. “Well, let’s not waste any more time. Let’s go, boys!”
Henry Jr. and Bradley celebrated as they hurried out of the Glora Grand Hall with Henry while Tori looked over to Fercewend. She thanked him and went on her way with Henry and the kids to the city. For Henry, though, he was still curious about the inner workings of the Ameci military, though there was little that he could do about it at the moment. All he could do was continue on with his campaign.
[19th of December, 2740 AD; Sparkling Gold Eagle Hotel – Bradley’s Room, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
Korbin gazed outside the open window. Little could be done to satisfy his boredom as Bradley and Erik entered the darkened room. If only there were a way for him to get out there on the streets and seek Johan out himself, he could. As a result, Korbin spent time staring at his sword and gun.
“Hey, Korbin, you don’t seem yourself lately,” Erik said. “You okay?”
“Just shut up,” Korbin exclaimed. “Just shut the fuck up!”
“I know you want to find him, but we’ve still got a job to do,” Bradley said. “Our job may not be fun, but we at least have to hold up this front before our plan goes into action.”
“Your plan, you mean,” Korbin said.
“Tch, I’ve told you, it’s all part of our benefit,” Bradley replied. “Besides, I’m sure that traitor will stick his neck out sooner or later.”
Korbin growled. It was then at that moment the door opened. In walked Isaac Kunigunde while two security guards stood outside. Both Bradley and Erik turned and bowed to the man while Korbin continued to stare out of the window. Nothing would faze him, he thought.
“Hope I’m not interrupting anything, fellows,” Isaac said.
“No, of course not, Mr. Kunigunde!” Erik said. “We’re completely honored you stopped by!”
“Yes, that’s exactly it,” Bradley said. “The rest of the troop isn’t here right now, but I can go get them if you want!”
“Crawford, you don’t need to worry,” Isaac replied. “I’ve already spoken with your father… He would be proud if he saw you right now.”
“He would?” Bradley asked.
“After all he’s done for me, it’s the least I can do,” Isaac said. “Which is why I will inform you of something vital. Korbin Mars, can you hear me? You should listen to what I have to say, too.”
It was then that Isaac unveiled a secret plan that came straight from Casper himself. As Isaac started to go into detail, Korbin turned his attention over to Isaac. His interest was piqued at the new mission given to him by Bradley’s father and it was all thanks to Isaac. Korbin had a desire to laugh, but chose not to do so at the moment. No, his laughter would be saved for much later. Whether or not Johan showed his face did not matter now, because Korbin was going to use this mission in order to draw him out.
“Well, did you get all of that?” Isaac asked. “Don’t let your fellow Ameci down, boys.”
To be continued…