Aurora – Chapter 17 (Part 2)

[21st of December, 2740 AD; Abandoned Manufacturing Complex, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Inner Boundary]

 

A dim light illuminated the storeroom as Jelka entered. Johan sat at the other end clutching the transceiver as his breath floated up into the air before disappearing. He heard the news from another member of the group just before Jelka returned and stayed ahead with a radio fixated into the wall outlet. All in all, Johan knew he had to have faith in Sorin and the others.

“We need to talk,” Jelka said.

Johan stood up and turned to face Jelka. “What is it?”

“It’s about Sorin,” she said. “There is a chance that he may end up taking the fall for Harring’s death.”

“That’s what I just heard,” Johan replied. “Queen Amelia herself broke the news just a few moments ago.”

Jelka let out a sigh. “I was worried about that,” she said. “It may become too dangerous to keep operating in this country Johan. We must move before it’s too late.”

“There’s still one thing I’m watching for,” Johan said. “That man will likely use his influence to turn the other leaders against the Queen of Thekohn. I am not about to let that happen so casually.”

“Johan, please listen to me,” Jelka said. “We are already risking our lives just by occupying Ahnlikohn; now that Foundation has put a bounty on Sorin, I feel as if they won’t stop with just him.”

“That they won’t,” Johan replied.

“So it would be for the best if we regroup and rethink our strategy, don’t you agree?” Jelka asked.

“I’m afraid that I can’t,” Johan said.

“Why… Why not?”

“Revolution doesn’t sleep, Jelka, nor does it run away when evil strikes and appears to have the upper hand,” Johan said. “Even if Isaac turns the entire world against us, I know for a fact that we’ll win because what we strive for is a world without wars.”

“Johan, this may be hard to say, but there is the possibility that we cannot win this fight,” Jelka said. “We are going up against an opponent with many years of experience and operate so callously that they don’t care whether or not they’re seen as good or evil. An opponent like that is hard to match up against with only our resources.”

“Please don’t ever suggest that something is impossible because it’s hard,” Johan said. “After all, toppling the Neu Thekohnian Order was not at all simple, yet they were taken down all the same.”

“If only I had your unbending confidence, then I would agree,” Jelka said. “But still, it is not myself I am worried about. After all, the person I care the most for has already faced danger and almost met with death.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Johan asked.

“When I tended to your wounds after Korbin almost killed you, it was the first time in my life I felt a strong sense of belonging,” she said. “It was then that I knew that I had to protect you from Foundation.”

“Jelka…”

“I had wondered to myself if I swore to protect you because it was my way of thanking you,” Jelka continued, “But now I know it’s because I love you, which I never thought I would’ve said before, especially not after what had happened to my family.”

“I understand,” Johan said. “I can’t abandon this fight but if this is taking a toll on you, then I won’t hold it against you if you want to run away.”

“No, as long as you fight, I’ll be there to fight with you,” Jelka replied. “As long as I can fight, I will not sheath my sword and leave you to yourself.”

Johan sighed and placed his hands over Jelka’s. “I know that,” he said. “You are not the same woman that I first met months ago. Even when you were just a pawn for Isaac and Foundation, I knew that there was a good person deep inside your heart.”

“I have you to thank for that,” Jelka said.

“Don’t thank me,” he replied. “You were the one who decided to carve out your own path with that sword by your side. Even then you were in control of your future, but you didn’t do it because you felt trapped.”

“It was a long struggle,” she said. “There were many nights where I thought that I would fall asleep and never wake up again. I fled each time the tables were turned against me because I could not trust those who fought at my side. I began to wonder if one of those nights someone would just stab me in the back and take my life, but I had been lucky that that had not happened.”

“You fought to survive,” Johan said. “To be honest, you’re not that different from a fellow I once knew.”

“Who are you talking about?”

“There was a man that fought passionately for his goal,” Johan replied. “It was something of a noble cause, but his methods were less so. Someone like him fought because it was all he knew, or so he thought.”

“And that was when you met him?” Jelka asked.

“It was in the middle of the night I came across this man,” he said. “Locked in a cell with only the scraps of clothing he entered with. Not only did his world fail him, but he had been subsequently used by an individual who possessed a gross amount of power. Fortunately, this man was able to see through the ruse, yet all the same he pursued his goal through unsavory means.”

“So you think I’m like him, then,” Jelka said. “No, surely there is more to this than what you’re saying.”

“There is,” he said. “He chose his path and was killed for it. He fought only for himself and distrusted everyone, even those who sought to help him. You, on the other hand, have chosen your path and chose to trust your allies. You’ve even ended up confessing to me. That’s something the Jelka I first met would never say, not in a million moons.”

“I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it,” Jelka said.

“Well, what would you say if I returned the favor?” Johan asked. “Seeing as you’ve already told me, I feel a great relief because I’ve felt similar feelings about you as well but never found the right time to say them.”

“You do?” Jelka asked. “I… I’m delighted to hear that you feel the same way that I do.”

“Which is why I’m committed to this goal,” Johan said. “When we finish off Isaac and Foundation, I hope afterwards that we can be together.”

“I will promise you that we will,” Jelka said. “No matter what, I’ll make sure that we stop Foundation.”

Johan smiled. “And I promise you that we will live in a peaceful world,” he replied. “Come here, Jelka.”

Jelka could say nothing else as Johan wrapped his arms around her. She did the same as neither of them wanted to abandon the other. It was then that Johan knew that he had found not just a valuable ally, but an irreplaceable one and someone whom he loved. No matter how difficult his goal was, Johan knew that it was within his grasp. With Sorin, Johan had found an invaluable friend; with Jelka, however, Johan found a future with a partner.

 

*****

 

[21st of December, 2740 AD; Sparkling Gold Eagle Hotel – Korbin’s room, Glora, Ahnlikohn]

 

The sun had set as Korbin looked out the window. It was all Johan’s fault that Korbin had lost his arm once more, he thought to himself. He continued to think as the door opened. Bradley entered the room as Korbin turned to greet him. Korbin knew that they had to report back to his father, who was waiting in his usual place, so he and Bradley went over to the phone and proceeded to make the call. The prevalent silence in the air was soon broken by the ringing of the phone, which went for two rings until the other side picked up.

“You are late,” Harold said.

Bradley put the phone receiver to his ear. “We are sorry, sir,” he said. “It’s been a long day—”

“Do you take me to be a fool?” Harold asked. “I’ve already heard from Isaac about what happened and I don’t like hearing the same thing twice in one day! Give the phone to him now!”

“Very well,” Bradley said as he passed the phone on to Korbin. “It must be important, so good luck.”

“Yes, what is it?” Korbin asked.

“Surely you can’t be this daft,” Harold said. “Did you not think I would not hear about your mishaps with those insignificant pests? How is it that you are so inept at disposing of those pesky maggots!?”

“It wasn’t my fault,” Korbin replied. “They tricked me, somehow, and then those fuckheads got the better of me! I would have killed them all if not for that one trick that hotshot piece of shit pulled!”

“Time and time again, you’ve failed to fulfill the tasks you’ve been given,” Harold said. “Tell me, Korbin, are you that desperate to reunite with them?”

Korbin tightened the grip on the receiver. “I won’t fail next time,” he said. “I promise you that I won’t!”

“You tell me this, yet I know in the end you will prove me right once more,” Harold replied. “I’ve spent many years hiding in the shadows all because of that son of a bitch, yet he’s the one who should be dead!”

“Who are you talking about?” Korbin asked.

“Please, you know full well who I’m talking about,” Harold said. “If not for him, I would have achieved my goal already! That bastard thinks he can just run around and save his boy… Well, perhaps now is the time for everything to come full circle!”

Korbin gulped. “Full circle?”

“It is surprisingly easy to break a man’s will with enough effort, I’ll have you know,” Harold said. “As a businessman, there is nothing more satisfying in this pathetic world than to raise a man’s hope, only for me to crush them at the last moment.”

“It is?” Korbin asked.

“Dreams are just that: dreams,” Harold said. “To think that some people use these outlandish ideas as a basis for their motivation pisses me off. That is why it is important to place my foot down and destroy the ideas they hold dear so that they know that I am the one who is in control of their destiny.”

Korbin could only listen as his father continued to speak. He had no say in what was being said and all he could do was pay attention.

“Just a couple months ago, I invited a man and his friend over to discuss their projects,” Harold continued. “You can imagine how that went over. Well, the day after that, I checked the newspaper and read that one of the poor saps hung himself overnight! If only you were there, then you would’ve seen the satisfaction plastered upon my face. Only then would you have known how foolish it was to convince me.”

“What… What does this have to do with me?” Korbin wondered.

“What I’m saying is that everyone should resign to their fate, as should that man who annoys me so,” Harold told him. “The time is now for me to send that man to his doom, as well as all those others that oppose me. Korbin! I want you to retreat from Glora at once and meet me here. Make sure that you tell Casper’s son to come with you, too.”

Korbin did not even get a chance to say anything else, not even a goodbye, as Harold hung up. His goal was clear, though: he had to win against Sorin next time if he wanted to be satisfied.

“Looks like we’ve got a little trip to make, Bradley,” Korbin said, setting the receiver back down on the phone’s base. “Let’s round up Erik and the others! We got a lot that we need to do!”

Bradley nodded. “Then let’s go tell Isaac.”

“Good idea,” Korbin said. “It’ll be good to let him in on the know!”

The two men got up and left the room. Korbin was certain that this time he would face Sorin in what would be their final battle, and that time Korbin would come up the victor. As long as he had that on his mind, Korbin was happy enough to serve his father in his goal.

 

To be continued…

 

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