[29th of December, 2740 AD; Ameci Embassy, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]
Two days before Casper had left, Rohan entered alongside Isaac into the president’s quarters. Casper stood at the window and turned around once Rohan and Isaac approached him. He had his eyebrows furrowed and a scowl upon his face as Isaac burst into laughter.
“It’s not like you to be so upset, my friend,” Isaac said.
“Tell me, Isaac,” Casper replied, “What sort of legacy does a man leave on his family’s name when he realizes it could all go away at a very instant?”
“Are you concerned?” Isaac asked. “We’re here because there is a job we’ve yet to finish. You and I both know that.”
“Yes, indeed,” Fercewend said.
“And that’s why you’ll do your best to put an end to this entire thing,” Isaac said. “Though I don’t expect the queen to step back, I know that you can at least be able to deliver to her the warning should she continue to persist an audience with the Queen of Ahnlikohn.”
“Before you make that plan concrete, I have received a most important message,” Casper said. “It is a great concern to us, but I thought that you of all people should know before it is too late.”
“You have my attention,” Isaac said.
“It is about Hasker,” Casper replied. “I have just been informed that he has made a complete recovery. As of now, he is on his way here and my time as the president has come to an end.”
“So what?” Isaac asked. “You’ve already made your mark. In fact, this could prove to be beneficial.”
“Beneficial?” Fercewend asked. “Isn’t it in Ameci’s best interest for Hasker to be in good health?”
“When I say beneficial, I mean that no matter what happens, everything will work out in our favor,” Isaac said. “So you say that Piere’s on the mend. So what if he’s better? If problems befall Ameci, then it is he who receives blame. He’d be the one who would have to answer for any failures.”
“You say that like it’s absolute,” Fercewend said.
“Rohan, do you still have doubts?” Isaac wondered. He then slammed his fist on the top of the desk. “Both of you know it’s much too late to turn back the clock now. Our enemy is already on the move once more and all you want to do is sit around and doubt yourselves? If you’re talking about legacy, then perhaps it is best that we amp up our aggression! If we do not, then we will lack the rigidity that’s needed in order to win!”
Casper rested his hands on the windowsill as a smile formed on his face. “I see, I see,” he said. “Aggression, you say? I can play aggressive. Yes, that’s exactly what I’ll do…”
“Sounds to me as if you’ve already decided,” Isaac said. “Very well, then I’ll go and inform our friend.”
“Before you do, Isaac, there’s one thing I must say,” Casper said.
“And what may that be?” Isaac asked.
“I’m not about to lose my position, regardless of what Piere might say or do,” Casper replied. “I intend to retain this power and no one is going to take it from me.”
“What are you saying, sir?” Fercewend asked.
“It’s simple, general,” Casper said, “I will find the traitor myself and bring him back here, dead or alive.”
“You say that, but I would advise leaving it up to your son,” Isaac said. “He’s already on his way to Ahnlikohn, don’t you remember?”
“Do you think I don’t know?” Casper asked. “Of course I know full well of Crawford’s movements because we had a little talk last night. Yes, he’s aware now about what I intend to do and he’s one hundred percent behind my decision.”
“He is?” Isaac asked.
He placed his hand upon his chin and turned away from Casper, leaving Fercewend to wonder what either man will say next. Fercewend was unaware of Casper’s decision, which only made him more concerned for Crawford’s current whereabouts. If Casper had made the decision with his son and his son alone, it only served to fuel the growing concerns in Fercewend’s mind. That thought process would be broken, however, once Isaac turned to face Casper once again. A small smirk decorated Isaac’s face as he reached out his hand.
“What is this?” Casper asked.
“Consider it my apology,” Isaac said. “You are a far more superior leader than I thought.”
“So you had doubts of your own, then,” Casper said.
“I would not say that I doubted you, but that I wanted to test you,” Isaac replied. “This was that test. You came prepared. I like that.”
Casper’s eyes lit up, but soon he laughed. “Oh, yes, that’s right,” he replied. “Indeed, that was my intention all along. Never once did I doubt you for a second, Isaac. You can believe me when I say that!”
“Truly you are an exceptional man,” Isaac said. “That’s something that I know that Piere could never be, which is why I’m glad to see you take charge and go all out when it comes to our enemies.”
“And I knew you would trust me,” Casper said. “Remember what you said to me when this all started? I’m not going to let you down for even a second, you hear me? This will be only the beginning of what will be our eventual victory and that traitor will have no way of escaping once I cross him!”
“As I expected of you,” Isaac said, looking over at Fercewend. “This is quite the valuable lesson to all of us and I’m hoping you’ll be able to put in the same amount of effort when it’s your turn to shine, Rohan.”
Fercewend eyed away to the side for a moment. If it was the right decision for Ameci, then he would do his part without question. Above all else, Fercewend knew that he had to do it to ensure a successful future for him and his family. He could not let the past conflict him, yet still Fercewend realized that he would have to come to terms with the inevitable truth in his mind.
“It’s settled, then,” Casper said. “If you’ll excuse me, Isaac, I’ve got to make a few calls back to Ameci.”
“Very well,” Isaac replied. “Rohan and I won’t hold you back any longer.”
With that said, Isaac left the room with Fercewend following him. There was much more to do, but for now, Fercewend could sigh in relief. That moment of relief, however, did not last long as the door closed behind him while Isaac cleared his throat.
“I’m sure he won’t hear us, but let’s keep walking,” Isaac said, going down the hall. “What are you doing, Rohan? Let’s keep going.”
“Of course,” Fercewend said.
“That fool wants to go and get himself killed, I think,” Isaac said. “Just as I thought: he’s trying to betray us.”
“How so?” Fercewend asked.
“Well, it’s not something you should worry about,” Isaac replied. “I will let you know that no matter what the outcome, glory will be in our hands. Casper bags the traitor, he comes out a hero and earns the trust of the Ameci people. He fails, we always have a back-up plan.”
“Pardon me if this sounds like a slight against you both,” Fercewend began, “But are you hoping that Vice President Bradley will fail?”
“Never in a million years would I root for another man’s failure unless he’s an enemy to us,” Isaac said. “I am just weighing the options. We should hope that he succeeds in capturing the traitor, but it’s always good to have something in the event of an emergency. Is that not the case with you, General?”
“Of course it is,” Fercewend said. “But sometimes, the best course of action is to not pick a foolish battle.”
“Do you believe that Casper’s decision is foolish?” Isaac asked.
Fercewend hesitated to respond. He proceeded to respond, but Isaac was quick to open his mouth again.
“No matter, we will see for ourselves if this decision is indeed a foolish one and from there, we’ll make our move,” Isaac said. “Of course, you’ve got a little plan of your own to try and talk the Queen of Thekohn out of her recklessness, so perhaps it’s best that you try not to worry too much.”
“Whatever you say, Isaac,” Fercewend said.
“Don’t forget, it’s I who helped get you this power,” Isaac said. “If it weren’t for my bright ideas, then you would never have had a chance of becoming the person you are today. Your position, your aspirations, your family… All of those things were possible because I made them so.”
“I know,” Fercewend said.
“To think that there are people who wish to see us fail,” Isaac said. “To wish for my failure would be to wish for Ameci’s failure! And we can’t have any of that happen to us, now would we? What would your wife and kids think?”
“I’ll do my best,” Fercewend replied.
“Good,” Isaac said. “Now don’t let us down.”
Isaac kept walking while Fercewend stopped. That was the end of the small conversation that carried a lot of weight on Fercewend’s shoulders. He realized what he had to do next and shook his head as he turned around and went in the opposite direction. He had his job to do and he knew that he could not let Isaac or Ameci down.
[31st of December, 2740 AD; outskirts of Helm, Ahnlikohn – the abandoned Mars factory]
Gavin pounded on the locked metal door. He had split up from both Henry and Law and was now trying to make his way into the building. That they were still being pursued by Casper and his guards meant that Gavin had to think of a way to stop them. Gavin knew that there was much to think about, but above all else, he had to find Henry and Law first. With no other options on the board, that meant Gavin had to make some noise.
“It’s just like what Mina said before,” Gavin said. “No way to move forward unless I do it myself!”
Taking a few steps back, Gavin eyed the locked door. He began to charge at his target and used his strength to slam into the door. However, his effort proved uneventful as the door did not budge.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Gavin said. “What the hell?”
As he tried to figure out what went wrong, Gavin heard a knock next to the door. He saw through the window Law standing there, who had already made it inside. Gavin tried his best not to not to act out in anger as the door opened from the other side with Law waiting to greet him.
“Looks like you got the worst entrance, bro,” Law said. “Are you glad I’m here to help you out?”
“Where’s Henry?” Gavin asked.
“I was kind of hoping you’d know,” Law replied. “I suppose that means he probably found his own way in somehow.”
Gavin closed the door behind him. “As long as we’re here, I think we have a chance against these guys,” he said. “I figure that the president will want to have us all captured if not killed, so we can’t play nice here.”
A stack of crates next to a steel ladder helped serve as a hiding spot for the two brothers as they tried to look around the immediate area. Gavin took out his pistol and scanned the scene to his left.
“It’s going to be tough trying to stop him,” Law said, looking the other way. “And I don’t say that because Bradley’s a tough guy or anything like that.”
“We’ll figure out what to do when we get there,” Gavin said. “All we need to know is that Casper Bradley is like another other soldier on the battlefield. There is a reason why he’s so highly regarded with General Fercewend, after all.”
“I know, I know,” Law replied. “It’s not going to do us much good standing here. We need to get a better view of the area fast!”
Law grabbed onto the ladder’s rung, while Gavin placed his free hand on his shoulder.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Gavin asked.
“Our view will be better once we get up into the upper levels,” Law said. “It will also help us have the heights in our favor.”
“This place has been abandoned for a while,” Gavin replied. “You think it’ll be easier for us to go around if we’re making noise from above for Bradley and his guards to hear?”
“You think it matters where we are?” Law asked.
“Guess there is no talking you out of this one,” Gavin said. “It may be easier to find out where Henry is from up on the walkways.”
With the two in agreement, Gavin and Law climbed up the ladder onto the metal walkways. From above, Gavin saw the unused, broken down machines as he and Law kept moving. It was then that they spotted Henry climbing up one of the ladders from the other end of the factory, with both of Casper’s guards after him. Gavin looked to Law, who then looked on ahead as the two hurried over to help Henry. With Casper lurking around, Gavin knew that he and Law had to assist Henry first.
To be continued…