Aurora – Chapter 42 (Part 2)

[2nd of January, 2741 AD; Open Area Shopping District, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

After a fulfilling lunch, Sorin and the others decided to take a stroll through the nearby shopping district. However, their stroll was short-lived once they saw Ayanna arrive with Dierk. Sorin had to wonder how long lunch went, but given both Johan and Mina’s appetites, it had to have lasted longer than he thought. He waved to both Ayanna and Dierk as the two went over to the group.

“I was wondering where you were,” Ayanna said.

“How long were you here?” Sorin asked.

Dierk looked at his pocket watch. “I’d say about close to an hour,” he said. “Fifty-seven minutes, to be exact.”

“We didn’t realize that you guys were waiting for so long!” Mina said. “If that was the case, then we should’ve found you two first so we could’ve had lunch together.”

“Thank you, but we already ate before arriving here,” Ayanna replied. “So it seems you’re still at a loss, aren’t you?”

“That’s what it looks like,” Sorin said. “We were too busy eating to even think about how we were going to enter Iiayikohn.”

“Just because we weren’t talking about the mission doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about our next move,” Johan said.

“If you have something to say, then say it,” Pekka said. “Don’t leave us in the dark, Johan.”

“I wouldn’t leave you in the dark without giving you a source of light first,” Johan replied. “That is to say that I think I have an idea about how we can get into Iiayikohn without much hassle.”

“I’d prefer no hassle at all, but I’m interested in hearing what you’ve got to say,” Ayanna said.

“Right now, our current headcount is ten altogether,” Johan said. “That is to say that I’m including the two of you into our group.”

“So we’ve got a good amount of people,” Mina said. “Ten heroes is a good, even number that no villain can stop!”

“Indeed, having the numerical advantage is optimal,” Ayanna said, “But we aren’t dealing with just one person.”

“It’s just as I thought,” Johan said. “Sometimes the best answer usually is the easiest. Thank you, Ayanna.”

“You’re welcome, though I didn’t say much beyond the fact that we’re going up against multiple people in this organization,” Ayanna replied. “Are you trying to suggest that we’re better if we split up?”

“I’m not necessarily saying that,” Johan said.

“Then what are you trying to suggest?” Eva asked.

“If we just go after Wilson Dezine, Isaac Kunigunde will try to run away from his failure,” Johan said. “We can’t just lock down a single target without first trying to make sure the other target doesn’t evade us. That was what let Isaac get away with what he’s done up to this point.”

“It still sounds to me as if you want us to split up,” Ayanna said.

“Well, if you want to consider it that way, then yes,” Johan said. “Right now, the goal is to defeat Isaac Kunigunde. He’s the one that carries the most influence and the one with the most to lose should everything fail for him.”

“What’s the angle here?” Pekka asked.

“You want an easier way to get into Iiayikohn, don’t you?” Johan asked. “I think there is much to be said if a wanted man like myself makes his presence known to the entirety of an Ameci-occupied country and enters alone.”

Sorin looked over to Johan. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying, Johan?”

“An entire group of us will draw attention, sure, but to the Ameci military, I’m the one that they want,” Johan said. “To Isaac, all I am is nothing more but an existential threat to what he’s trying to do. He’ll obviously try to use his power to try and direct the general into capturing me, if not worse.”

“That’s… That’s beyond insanity!” Luna said. “I don’t want you to do this, not after we just lost Jelka! I don’t want this at all!”

“Surely this is some sort of bluff to try and get us to come up with a better idea,” Sorin said. “That’s gotta be what you’re saying, right?”

“I don’t think he’s trying to bluff us,” Eva said.

“You don’t?” Dustin asked. “Because even as a bluff, it’s quite a reckless one to make… You do know what will happen once Ameci’s sending its soldiers after you, you know that, don’t you?”

“I’ve already said that,” Johan replied. “I’m not going to stop in pursuing my goal, even if it brings me pain and misfortune. I already know what it’s like to come close to death itself, so I’ve got no reason to fear the Ameci military.”

“But what about Jelka?” Sorin asked. “After what she did to save us, you’d just risk it all?”

“I never said I was going to die, nor did I imply I’m afraid of it,” Johan said. “All I’m saying is that I’m willing to suffer in order to accomplish my goals. There is no way I can back down.”

He began to walk away from the group, only to turn back and shrug. Sorin could not stop Johan now, though he wanted to try. If there was any way to stop Johan from risking his own life, Sorin knew that it was right now that he had to do it.

“I’m not going to let you do this alone,” Sorin said. “If you insist on drawing Isaac Kunigunde’s attention, then I want to help you out at the very least.”

“Not you too, Sorin,” Gale said. “It won’t do us any good if you both throw yourselves at Isaac so recklessly.”

“She’s right,” Johan said. “This is something I’ve got to do on my own. If it gets out of hand, then we’d both be screwed.”

“It’s better than going by yourself,” Sorin replied. “Besides, if it’s going to get rough, then you’re going to need someone to fight alongside you.”

“Maybe it’s just me, but I think you’re trying to talk me out of this,” Johan said as he tried to hold back a chuckle. “You wouldn’t suggest coming along with me if I hadn’t said anything first.”

“Please, there has to be another way,” Sorin said. “I know you can think of something that doesn’t involve you risking yourself. Just… for all of our sakes, I want you to reconsider.”

“Regardless of what we do, there will always be a risk when we’re dealing with Foundation,” Johan replied. “Be it Korbin or be it the Ameci military, we’re going into battle against an enemy that has us in their crosshairs.”

“Perhaps it’s time we begin drawing up our plan,” Ayanna said. “Talking will only get us so far and this is not the place to plan our next move.”

“So it seems,” Johan said. “Very well, then we’ll go and find a place where we can straighten out our plan of attack.”

“That sounds like a good idea to me,” Mina said. “But we’d better hurry up, though!”

“Given what’s at stake, I’m sure we’ll come up with a plan that everyone can agree with,” Johan said. “You think so too, don’t you, Sorin?”

Sorin had to agree. He had to if they wanted to move forward. With the uncertainty surrounding the Iiayikohnian border, there was only so much time that they could spend. With Ayanna and Dierk, though, Sorin was sure that they could help devise a pathway back into Iiayikohn. But what still concerned Sorin was the fact that Johan did not bend in his will to go it on his own and draw out Isaac by himself. Whatever Isaac had lying in wait next, Sorin was certain that it would prove to be devastating, especially if it happened to involve Korbin and Harold Mars.

 

*****

 

[2nd of January, 2741 AD; Burning Light Lane, Hurst, Iiayikohn]

 

Gavin had no idea what to expect when he arrived in Hurst with Law and Henry, but he did not expect to see a mass of officers occupy the area on Burning Light Lane. Once he got a look at the scene, however, Gavin understood. A crowd of people began to form, which had to be most of the citizens of the small town as they all appeared to wonder what just struck them.

“This is quite a shocking turn of events,” Henry said.

“You’re telling me,” Gavin said. “What happened here?”

“Well, why don’t we ask someone with a little more knowledge than us,” Law said. “With this many people in the area, we’d at least get a little rundown about what happened before we got here.”

As Law proceeded to ask around, Gavin tried to get a better look between the gaps in the crowd. The officers surrounded the block with their vehicles while they kept the crowd at bay, but Gavin could tell that something major had taken place. There was only one reason why officers of the Iiayikohnian military would show up in Hurst, which meant that it had to do with Harold somehow.

“Have you got a good view yet?” Henry asked.

“I think we’re too late,” Gavin said. “If you ask me, Harold definitely had a hand in what happened here.”

“I wonder if he was aware of the fact that we were after him,” Henry said. “If that’s the case, then it’s likely he brought down his own hideout in order to get away from us.”

“It doesn’t make sense, though,” Gavin said. “Why would he do such a thing when it would mean that he’d draw attention to himself.”

“True, that’s the contradiction with my theory,” Henry replied. “However, what if he had no choice?”

“I think I understand what you’re asking,” Gavin said. “Sorin’s brother… If he was here, then it’s possible.”

But Gavin knew there was nothing conclusive to the idea, at least not yet. As he wondered what exactly transpired, Law returned to the two as he tried to get Gavin’s attention.

“Yo, it seems like we’ve got trouble on our hands,” Law said.

“I can tell that just by looking,” Gavin replied. “Did you manage to gather anything important?”

“Well, it looks like that entire block was decimated with explosives,” Law answered. “Though from what I’ve gathered from the people here, all of those buildings seemed to be abandoned long ago.”

“Abandoned, you say?” Henry asked.

“That’s what I got from the people I spoke with,” Law said. “You do know what that means, don’t you?”

“We were a step too late,” Gavin said.

“There was no way we had a clue,” Henry said. “All it means is that Harold is on the run now. He knows we’re getting closer to the truth.”

“You sound pretty confident about it,” Gavin said. “But now I want to know how in the hell he blew up the whole place.”

“Maybe it’d do us good if we asked one of the officers,” Henry said.

“Sure about that?” Law asked. “The ones in Rezar weren’t so nice to us over in the prison.”

“Just let me ask the questions,” Henry said. “I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to ask that officer over there a simple question.”

He walked over to the officer closest to the crowd and whistled to get his attention. The officer turned to his direction and waved over at him. Gavin and Law followed him as they confronted the officer in front.

“Do you mind if I ask you a question, sir?” Henry asked.

“If this is for some sort of press, then I can’t take a question,” the officer replied. “Even we’re trying to figure out exactly what’s going on.”

“We’re not with any press, we just want a basic idea about what happened here,” Henry said. “Just from looking at it, it’s pretty obvious something nefarious took place here.”

“If you ask me, none of it makes any sense,” the officer said.

“Well, what about the buildings?” Gavin asked. “They were all abandoned from what we’ve heard. Do you think it was planned?”

“I don’t believe that it was a planned thing, no,” the officer answered. “No one in this town has indicated that there were any plans for a demolition of those buildings.”

“I see,” Gavin said.

“I’ve one more question for you, officer,” Henry said. “Did anyone happen to live in those buildings, and if so, are they here?”

The officer shook his head. “I doubt it.”

“Why do you doubt it?” Henry asked. “Even if those buildings were all abandoned, that doesn’t mean no one was there.”

“We’d have to find out for ourselves, then,” the officer said.

Almost as if on cue, another officer called out to the man. Gavin, Law, and Henry all looked to see the second officer arrive with something in her hand. It took Gavin one look to see for himself and realize what it was the female officer was holding.

“That… That sword,” Gavin said. “That sword looks familiar.”

The other officer turned to Gavin with the broken sword in her hand clear in view. “Do you know something about it?”

“Henry, you recognize that, don’t you?” Gavin asked. He looked back to the officer. “Where did you find it?”

“It was underneath some of the rubble,” the female officer said. “We’re still uncovering, but what we do know is that there is someone underneath.”

“Someone underneath the rubble?” Henry asked. “Who is it?”

“We haven’t identified him yet,” she replied, “But what I can say for certain is that this man is dead.”

Henry took a deep breath and sighed. “Thank you, both of you,” he said, turning back to Gavin and Law as he began to walk away. “I was wondering what happened to him, and it seems like we’ve got our answer.”

“What are you doing?” Gavin asked, catching up with Henry. “Are you just going to walk away like that without any other question?”

“Do you think we’ve got any other thing to do here?” Henry asked. “This is as far as we can go here if you ask me.”

“But the sword!” Gavin exclaimed. “That’s Rysol’s sword, damn it!”

“It is,” Henry said. “There’s nothing we can do right now and to stay here any longer would be detrimental.”

“So we’re just going to head back, then,” Gavin said. “Are we not even going to tell Sorin about what happened here?”

“We’ll let him know soon enough,” Henry replied. “But Rysol is a different case from Kirk, and I don’t need to tell you why that is.”

Law placed his hand on the side of his forehead. “It may sound cold, bro, but we’ve got no choice,” he said. “We have to leave Rysol here even though we know very little about why he was here or how he died.”

“Fine,” Gavin replied. “But I’m going to be the one to tell Sorin, got it? He needs to know what happened here… He needs to know that Rysol came here because he pursued the truth.”

“Of course,” Henry said. “I’ll leave it all up to you.”

The three continued to walk away from the scene of the destruction and headed for the car. But even though Gavin had promised that he would be the one to inform Sorin about Rysol’s death, Gavin knew that the news would not be any easier to bear as yet another loss came by the hands of Harold Mars. The ever growing threat that man posed was becoming more and more apparent with each passing moment and Gavin knew that it was only a matter of time before he tried to strike again.

 

To be continued…

 

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