[31st of December, 2740 AD; outskirts of Helm, Ahnlikohn – on the rooftop of the abandoned Mars factory]
Gavin had the feeling that something was off about Casper. He wondered why the Ameci president was willing to stand there and let him, Law, and Henry attack first. Casper spread out his arms wide with his palms facing the three men as Gavin continued to point his gun.
“You’re hiding something,” Gavin said. “I don’t know what you’ve got, but I know that you’re just waiting for us to attack first so you can use it.”
“As I’m showing you, I’ve got nothing to hide,” Casper replied. “You can see for yourself that I have absolutely nothing. Nothing in my hands and nothing in my pockets.”
“Yeah, yeah, you want us to know you’re defenseless,” Law said. “I think we got the gist of what you’re saying.”
“Then you do realize that you’d be making an egregious decision if you try to attack me,” Casper said. “I, a man with nothing at all on my person, am being held up by a couple of rogue actors looking for nothing more than outright chaos! A bunch of traitors!”
“Give me a fucking break because you’ve already dropped your pretenses with us,” Gavin said. “Do you take us for a bunch of goddamn idiots? Hell no, we aren’t going to let you get away with your crimes!”
“It’s too late to turn back, anyway,” Henry said. “There’s nowhere for you to run, Casper, so you ought to just go and surrender yourself with the little dignity that you have left.”
Casper chuckled as he lowered his arms, clenching his fists in the process. “I can’t get through to you people,” he said. “Suppose it was worth a try. If that’s what you want, then you’ll have to actually beat me first!”
Gavin stared down Casper with intent, his focus turned to the president’s hands. For only a quick moment, Gavin watched as Casper reached behind his back using his right hand. That was what set him off.
“Lawrence, Henry, move!” Gavin exclaimed.
There was no time to waste. Law and Henry did as Gavin said, taking cover behind the structures close to each of them. Gavin aimed his gun once more and fired a bullet at Casper. However, Casper moved out of the way and pulled out a pistol. Gavin reacted with swift movements and hurried before the other man could fire his shot. There was only one place where Gavin could take temporary cover and that was where Law hid.
“I knew that asshole had some sort of trick on him,” Gavin said, “But now it will be hard to get a good look on him while I’m here.”
“Well, it wasn’t going to be easy in the first place,” Law said.
“He’s good,” Gavin replied. “I only needed to see one shot to know that we aren’t messing with an amateur. His skills are going to make this one a real pain in the ass, I know it.”
“Skills are one thing, but he’s probably never had to account for good luck,” Law said. “There’s just got to be a way we can catch him off guard.”
“Henry might have an idea,” Gavin said.
However, when Gavin looked over to the other hiding place, he could not find Henry. That meant only one thing: Henry was already on the counterattack and Gavin had to figure out where he was leading the charge.
“Over there,” Law said.
Gavin looked from behind the machine and spotted Henry approaching Casper from the back. How Henry moved fast enough to gain that position, Gavin had no clue. He did, however, see it as a chance to close in on Casper. Gavin took the chance and emerged from his hiding place, gun ready and aimed forward. Meanwhile, Law kept back while Gavin moved in.
“Just where I want you,” Henry said.
Henry rushed in an attempt to hold Casper back. Casper, however, turned around and delivered a sweeping kick to Henry, who could only block with his hands. Gavin could not hold back now. He hurried in, gun raised, and fired his shot at Casper.
“Take that!” Gavin exclaimed.
But that was when he saw Casper smile.
“Too slow,” Casper said.
He then dropped down to the ground with Henry still clutching at his leg. Gavin’s shot had missed, though he still had plenty of shots to go before he could even consider giving up. He readied his next shot and aimed his next shot true. Casper then jumped up to his feet with his gun ready and aimed right at Gavin. The two stood off with each man’s gun pointed at the other’s face, as the wind picked up once again.
“This is a pretty bright fire you’re playing with, Power,” Casper said. “Did they tell you I knew well about your marksmanship?”
“They told me a lot,” Gavin replied. “I’m not a fool any longer, though. This ends here!”
“You’re determined to see this through without a casualty,” Casper said. “I guess the potential repercussions are weighing on your mind even as we speak. Am I correct after all?”
“Then how about you tell me,” Gavin said. “If you’re willing enough to serve Isaac Kunigunde, you’d pull that trigger right fucking now. But you can’t, can you now? You’re just as wary with your shot!”
Casper scowled. “Are you trying to mock me? Is this what you’re trying to do to me now?”
“Right now, either one of us could take the next shot,” Gavin said. “But we both know that you’re outmatched. Even if those guards wake up, they won’t be coming to rescue you.”
“You made the biggest mistake one could make in a fight,” Henry said, “You don’t have a way out. General Rohan Fercewend knows well when to withdraw from a hopeless fight.”
“Shut up,” Casper replied. “You think I’m going to let you scum tell me that I can’t win!?”
“Then go and pull that trigger,” Gavin said. “Just know that you won’t be able to hit me no matter what you do.”
Casper roared out. “You want me to shoot you so bad? Well fine then, I’ll give it to you!”
But before Casper could pull the trigger of his gun, another shot rang out. The shot hit Casper’s gun, knocking it out of his hand. With the gun falling to the ground, Casper looked around. Gavin was already well aware, however, as he knew that Law had Casper’s previous gun in his hands. Gavin then took the opportunity to grab Casper by his collar, his grip refusing to let him go.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Casper said.
“Same model, same bullets, bro,” Law said. “How clueless is he that he doesn’t realize the mistakes he keeps making?”
“That doesn’t matter now,” Gavin said. “We’ve got this guy cornered and he’s going to tell us all he knows about Foundation.”
“It’s best if you start talking now,” Henry said to Casper. “It’ll be easier for all of us if you do.”
“Do you think I’m going to talk?” Casper asked.
“You don’t have a choice, asshole,” Gavin replied. “Sooner or later, your crimes are going to come to light.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Casper said.
“Don’t start repeating yourself now!” Gavin exclaimed. “You’ve already lost this fight, damn it!”
“Oh no, I wasn’t repeating myself,” Casper replied. “I meant that you’ve got to be kidding if you think that a former Ameci soldier would so easily give up the battle like this!”
The swift, sudden jab at Gavin’s abdomen caught him off guard as Casper quickly disarmed him. With his gun pointed at him, Gavin dropped to one knee as Henry charged in. Casper threw his free hand around, knocking Henry in his face. Law pulled up his gun and shot, but Casper dodged it and moved in. He then shoved Law into the nearby machine and booked it to the hatch.
“Damn it, how does he do that?” Gavin asked.
He stood up and turned around, but it was already too late. Casper escaped and closed the hatch behind him. As Gavin rushed over to open it, he discovered that the hatch only opened from the other side. He pounded the hatch in hopes that it would open somehow, screaming out in anger all the while. As Gavin just rested his fists on the hatch, Henry shook his head while Law got up.
“He’s right,” Henry said. “Casper wasn’t going to give up as long as he had a way out.”
“That’s not going to help us now,” Law said.
“I wasn’t trying to help,” Henry replied. “That’s just how men like Casper operate. He’s a coward, yes, but that also makes him smart in ways that ensure his survival.”
“So do you have an idea?” Law asked.
“We could climb down another way,” Henry said. “I imagine that there’s more than one way to exit the rooftop.”
“I guess that means we’ll have to worry about Casper later on,” Law said. “It certainly doesn’t help us at all, but that doesn’t mean he’s won.”
“You’re a damn fool,” Gavin said. “Do you know that, Lawrence?”
“Well, it’s not like we can go back the way we came,” Law replied. “Besides, even if Casper does get away, we know that we can beat him.”
“The fuck are you talking about?” Gavin asked. “I’m not going to let him have another chance! We’re beating him right here, right now!”
“Uh, bro, it’s too late to do that,” Law said.
“Yes, there’s a chance Casper’s already left,” Henry said. “Never doubt that man to make a dash if he felt that his life depended on it.”
“Are you both being dumbasses right now?” Gavin asked. “Don’t tell me that you didn’t look around for another way inside!”
Without another word, Gavin walked over to the front end of the building. He stopped at the edge and looked down to see a large window. Law and Henry moved over to where Gavin was and looked down as well, then back over to look at Gavin.
“That’s quite a drop,” Henry said. “How do you figure this? It would be one hell of a trick if you managed to get through that window somehow.”
“Lawrence, you know a lot about crazy ideas,” Gavin said. “Why don’t you tell me about how I could go about breaking the glass?”
Law grinned. “That’s it? I figured that you’d ask me how we were going to just break through this floor,” he said. “If it’s that window you’re worried about, bro, then it’ll be easier than you think.”
“So that gun, then,” Gavin replied.
“Good that we’re thinking the same thing,” Law said. “Since you’re the one who has all the knowhow, I may as well hand it over to you.”
“Let’s be quick with it,” Gavin said as he took the gun from Law. “We don’t have any time to fuck up, so I gotta make these shots count.”
Gavin took aim and fired two shots at the window. Though the angle had given him little to work with, Gavin connected each of his shots with the window as the holes cracked the glass. Even though the glass did not shatter, Gavin knew he had made it easier for him to break through.
“Okay, I’m going to need you two to help me out,” Gavin said as he reloaded his gun. “Lower me down and I can get in.”
Law looked over to Henry. “Seems like it’d be easy enough for us, don’t you think?”
“I think I get it,” Henry said. “Though you’d still be using your own body to break through, I’m sure that you’ll get through mostly unscatched.”
“That doesn’t matter right now,” Gavin said. “I’ve already got the plan, so we better get this going.”
Per Gavin’s command, Law and Henry helped lower him down over the edge of the building. Gavin had a good look through the top of the window as he spotted Casper on his way towards the front entrance. There was no more time to waste, Gavin thought. He thrust his feet forward and broke the glass, shattering it as he swung forward. Everything rode on this moment and Gavin had to make it count once more. With Law and Henry grabbing at his wrists, Gavin swung forth as the two let him go.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Gavin said to Casper down below.
“What the hell?” Casper asked.
Gavin managed to stick the landing, ending up in front of the other man. He had to act fast. Gavin then looked up above Casper and took out his gun. Right before Casper could retaliate, Gavin fired four shots up into the air.
“Looks like you missed,” Casper said.
Gavin withdrew his gun. “Think again.”
He had caught Casper off guard. The chains had been broken by the bullets, which let the platform fall. Casper had no time to respond as the platform hit him in the head, knocking him to the ground. Though the impact did not knock Casper out, it did cause enough pain for him to clutch his head.
“Agh… you can’t be serious,” Casper said as he tried to look up.
“You should know by now that I’m not fucking around here,” Gavin said, stepping in front of Casper. “This is the end of the line for you, whether you want to admit it or not.”
“Guess it’s no use trying to call my guards,” Casper replied. “Shit… After all these years, you really are a true marksman. Bravo.”
“Don’t try to flatter me,” Gavin said as he placed his foot on Casper’s free hand. “You’ve made yourself a mess that you can’t get out of, even if you don’t want to admit it.”
“Are you going to kill me, then?” Casper asked. “No matter what I do, you’ll never give up. Maybe I should just end it here so you don’t have to decide.”
He reached for the gun in his pocket and pulled it out. Gavin, though, used his foot and kicked the gun out of Casper’s hand.
“Like hell I’ll let you die here,” Gavin replied.
“You’re letting me go?” Casper asked.
“There’s a reason you came out here yourself,” Gavin said. “You said that Isaac Kunigunde had pretty lofty expectations for you, didn’t you?”
Casper chose silence.
“Even if you don’t answer, I remember well what you said,” Gavin replied. “I’m willing to bet you put everything on the line to stop us. You went all in with your attack and now that you’re facing the reality of defeat, you want nothing more than for someone like me to kill you. That’s what you want.”
“You lie,” Casper said. “You’re lying!”
“If you died here, that news would travel quickly to Ameci,” Gavin said. “Isaac would prop it up so that you’d be seen as a hero, which is why you can’t afford to face him now that I’m going to let you live.”
“You sound so sure about that,” Casper replied. “I can tell that you’re just trying to intimidate me. Well, it won’t work!”
“So tell me, then,” Gavin said. “Tell me what’s going to happen if you crawl back to Isaac now. Do you think he’ll be happy? Do you think he’s going to give you another chance now that you fucked up?”
“You don’t know a damn thing!” Casper exclaimed.
“We can keep this up,” Gavin replied. “But I’ll always have the upper hand, and you’ll never defeat me.”
He took his shoe off of Casper’s hand and adjusted his sunglasses. Casper continued to remain lying on the ground.
“The only option you have now, if you want to save your own hide, is for you to run,” Gavin said. “But if you really think you’ll convince Isaac Kunigunde to show mercy, then go.”
“You still want information from me regarding Foundation, don’t you?” Casper asked. “That’s why you kept after me, right?”
“Of course,” Gavin answered. “But I doubt that you’ll give us anything that isn’t a lie.”
“Well, believe me or not, but I know that you three aren’t the only ones that are heading to Ahnlikohn,” Casper said. “I know for a fact that Queen Thedam is reaching out to the Ahnle family, which is why I know that some of her people are going to Glora as we speak.”
“How do you know this?” Gavin asked.
“Please, it’s obvious that that woman won’t quit at her foolish goal,” Casper said. “We’ve been paying attention the entire time, so even if you’re as prepared as you say you are, Foundation is always a step ahead.”
Gavin looked down at Casper. “What the hell do you know?”
“I only know so much, Mr. Power,” Casper answered.
“That’s not good enough,” Gavin said. “Now answer me, damn it! You know way more than you’re letting on and you’re not going anywhere until you answer me, you fucking got it?”
“I wish I could,” Casper said. “Oh, and in the case that you’re right, I have a plan if things go wrong. That son of mine… he knows all too well.”
Casper leapt up to his feet and rushed towards the entrance. Gavin tried to stop him but was shoved out of the way. Though he wanted to follow after Casper, Gavin knew he still had to help Law and Henry off of the roof. Even though he let Casper escape, Gavin was certain that his assertion was correct and that this would spell the beginning of the end for Foundation.
To be continued…