Chapter 13 – Part 1

[2740 AD; on the roads – through the Iiayikohn/Maeitakohn border]

 

Sorin drove down the road in the car that had been issued to his group. In the passenger seat, Gavin was watching the road for anything that would seem out of place. Eva decided to relax in the back seat while Mina tried to roll down the window and stick her head out.

“I’ve never been on a trip before!” Mina said, poking her head out of the window. The wind overwhelmed her, messing up her hair as she chose to sit down and not look out of the window.

“Stay inside, Mina,” Gavin told her. “Besides, I need to have some space should I need to use my gun.”

“Sorry,” she said.

“Mina, you’ve never left Rezar?” Eva asked.

“Nope,” Mina replied. “I was raised there all my life… I think.”

“You think?” Gavin asked. “Either you were or you weren’t. Do you not even remember where you were born?”

“I really can’t!” Mina answered. “Maybe I hit my head when I was young and lost my memory or something, like one of those heroes with unknown origins! That’s probably what happened!”

“Gavin, you know her the best out of all of us,” Eva said, “What exactly is her situation?”

“She’s strong,” Gavin replied. “It was Lawrence who said as much, and I can tell when he speaks the truth.”

Eva shrugged. “I suppose that’s as much as I’m going to get, is it?”

“You can ask her,” Gavin said.

Mina turned to Eva. “I can tell you, then,” she said. “What exactly did you want to know?”

“Just… your strength,” Eva replied. “It’s just a simple question.”

“Well, I can’t really explain,” Mina said. “But… But I’m certainly not inexperienced! I would love to just show you what I can do, Eva!”

“You’ll have to promise me, then,” Eva said.

“Don’t worry,” Mina said as she pounded the palm of her hand, “When I see those True Thekohnians, I’m going to lay them out on the ground!”

Eva sighed. “I really hope I didn’t make a mistake,” she said.

“I would never disappoint another hero!” Mina exclaimed. “I’ve heard all about how you and those other sword guys helped bring peace to this region! You really are the coolest of the cool!”

“Thank you,” Eva said.

“No, really,” Mina continued. “My uncle told me all about how you and that other guy helped out the citizens of Rezar during the war. A real hero always helps those in need!”

“It’s nothing,” Eva responded.

Mina leaned forward. “Seriously, though,” she said, “You must be really strong!”

“Can you please stop?” Eva asked. “I’m sorry; please don’t be sad. It’s just that I really don’t want to remember some of those things.”

“But I really want to know!” Mina said.

“Mina, a word of advice,” Gavin said, “If she’s saying that she doesn’t want to talk about it, then please respect that. She has her reasons.”

“Sorry, Eva,” Mina said.

“Don’t worry about it,” Eva replied. “You’re young and curious… I only wish that I had the same wonder of youth you have when I was younger.”

“Thank you?” Mina wondered. “I guess that’s it, then… Hey, Sorin.”

Sorin kept his focus on the road. “What is it?”

“You haven’t spoken at all this whole time!” Mina answered. “You have to tell me something I don’t know now!”

“Like what?” Sorin asked.

“If it helps,” Eva said as she whispered something into Mina’s ear.

“Wait wait wait, what?” Mina asked. “He’s your father? And you’re going to help him? That’s so heroic!”

“He needs all of our help,” Sorin said. “Not just mine, Mina.”

“Yeah, but we’re talking about a father and his son teaming up to fight evil, you know,” she said. “That’s like something you hear in the stories of legend!”

Gavin laughed. “They say that his father was rejected by the military,” he said. “Seems like just about anyone can overcome the odds, even a nobody like Sorin here.”

“Aren’t we on the same team?” Sorin asked.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Gavin said, “But it doesn’t matter who your father is. Besides, after what you said earlier, I’m fired up to show you what I’m made of!”

“I never even said any of that!”

“You can deny it all you want,” Gavin said. “Now I’m wishing Wihll was here right now so I can show the both of you not to mess with me or Lawrence!”

“I see what this is,” Mina said, “You two are rival heroes! I promise not to get in the way of your rivalry!”

“Actually, please do,” Sorin said. “I honestly want no trouble with Gavin if that’s possible.”

“He’s not my rival,” Gavin said. “He’s just merely a witness to the greatest sharpshooter to walk this planet! When I’m done with Wihll, you will get on your knees and weep, Sorin Wilk!”

“Fine,” Sorin said. “We both want the same thing to happen. It’ll be a matter of who beats Wihll first.”

“I don’t even need to use my eyes to make the perfect shot,” Gavin added. “It’ll be the first ever blind trickshot that will be recorded in the history books!”

“Are we talking about stopping Wihll or setting some personal record?” Sorin asked.

“It can be both!” Gavin shouted. “I’ll show you! Just watch me!”

Gavin took out his pistol and aimed for a sign that was a few yards away. He put his focus onto the moving target, his eyes fixated onto the middle of the sign as it came into range for him to shoot. With a pull of the trigger, Gavin fired a bullet that struck the middle of the sign. The shot hit the sign hard enough to knock it off of its post, making it fall to the ground.

“I’ll admit,” Eva said, “That was impressive.”

“Awesome!” Mina exclaimed.

Gavin twirled his gun in his hand. “You were paying attention, weren’t you Sorin?”

“I’m driving,” he replied.

“Of course you didn’t notice,” Gavin said. “Then let me show you again! Where’s the next sign!?”

“We get it, Gavin,” Eva said, “Please save the rest of your shots for when we actually get to Bel.”

Gavin grumbled. “Okay,” he said. “There’s plenty of time for us to settle this anyway, Sorin, just you wait!”

Mina looked out of the window again. Clouds were beginning to form ahead of them and the sound of thunder boomed in the skies.

“Looks like it might be a storm,” Sorin said.

“No shit,” Gavin replied. “You better not crash this car!”

“Why do you care?” Sorin asked.

“It was issued to me, idiot!” Gavin answered. “I’m going to be the one getting his ass chewed out if it breaks, so don’t fucking break it!”

“I’m not going to,” Sorin said.

“Keep your eyes on the road, Sorin,” Eva reminded. “Just ignore Gavin.”

Sorin put it behind him as he gripped the steering wheel and continued to drive. Mina leaned forward, coming close to Sorin as he tried not to let her distract him.

“So, Sorin,” Mina said, “With you and Gale… Is there something going on between you two?”

“Wait, why would you ask that?” Sorin asked.

“I’m young and curious,” Mina said, eyeing back at Eva. “Is that okay with you? Is she somebody important to you?”

“Gale’s a good friend,” Sorin said, “I guess, if that’s what she thinks, too.”

“Oh, that’s how it is, is it?” Mina asked.

“Yes, but I would like to get to know her better if we come back to Rezar,” Sorin replied.

“When we come back,” Gavin interjected.

“That’s nice,” Mina said. “I always thought that there had to be a special someone that a hero holds close to their heart. I guess Gale’s your special someone, Sorin!”

“I was wondering where that conversation was heading,” Eva said.

“What about you, Eva?” Mina asked. “Do you have a special someone?”

Eva sighed, then gave a slow nod. “I can’t really say who it is,” she said, “But he is special to me, although he’s more than capable of taking care of himself.”

“That’s good,” Mina said.

“I’m going to save you the trouble and say no, I do not have a ‘special someone’ like Sorin Wilk does,” Gavin said. “And I don’t want to talk about why.”

“How could you forgot about your brother so carelessly, Gavin?” Mina wondered. “I thought that he was special to you…”

“Oh, that was what you meant,” Gavin said. “I suppose that you’re right. I guess that I wasn’t thinking properly.”

“It’s okay,” Mina said. “I forget sometimes, too. If that happens, you can always remind me, Gavin.”

“Then let me remind you of this,” Gavin said, “When we get to Wihll, remember that I get the first shot.”

“You do realize that the army is set to move in anytime, right?” Sorin asked. “They’re going to want to calm this whole thing down as soon as possible.”

“Which is why I take the first shot,” Gavin replied. “I may be a junior lieutenant, but I’m a lone wolf first! I didn’t become the greatest marksman in the army just by fitting into the mold, you know.”

“I know,” Sorin said. “It’s because you never fail to let any of us forget about it.”

“If you want to become anything in this world, you’re going to have to stand out,” Gavin said. “My father was a brilliant sharpshooter… I can only wish to be in the same league as he.”

“Sounds like you and Sorin have a lot more in common than you thought,” Mina said. “He wants to be a great swordfighter like his father, too!”

“I never said that!” Sorin said.

“I’m not the only one who was thinking it, was I?” Mina asked.

“Sorin, you want to be great?” Gavin asked. “A tall task for a nobody like you. If I’m still trying to be great, what hope could you have?”

“I just want to see the fighting stop,” Sorin answered. “We can all agree on that, right? Besides, there’s something I want to tell my father when we see him again.”

Drops of rain started to fall as Sorin drove down the road. They were heading into a storm, which looked like it was going to last for a while as he flicked on the wipers. Of course, they were not worried about this storm, as another one was already brewing in the city of Bel.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Nest Part

Chapter 12 – Part 3

[2740 AD; on the roads – Maeitakohn]

 

The long, narrow road went on, sitting between acres of green land. Kirk drove his car down the road and sitting next to him in the passenger’s seat was Henry, who looked onward out the window.

“I want to make something very clear,” Kirk said, “Just because we both want to stop him doesn’t mean that I’m ready to forgive you.”

Henry sighed. “I know,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure if this was the right thing to do. Tori must be worried sick…”

“After the ten years you were absent, I doubt it,” Kirk replied.

“Excuse me?”

“At least she’s still alive, right?” Kirk asked. “You should be happy.”

“I don’t understand,” Henry said, “Why would you bring that up?”

“Because, Henry, true pain never goes away,” he answered. “No matter how much I tell myself otherwise, I can never get over what Lokke’s men did to April.”

“Perhaps I can’t relate, but I’ve been hurt, too,” Henry said.

“Then tell me why,” Kirk said, “Why did you led your fellow soldiers into a trap? Why did you, of all people, insist upon driving through Bel Dale?”

“It was a mistake.”

“I feel as if that has been the excuse for years now,” Kirk replied.

“It is the truth,” Henry said. “Rohan agrees, too.”

“Then perhaps the general is the one who made the mistake,” Kirk said. “A serious mistake in trusting you. Do you know how many people died because they never received their weapons?”

“You don’t have to remind me,” Henry said.

“It was that mistake that made it harder for the rest of us to make peace with the Maeitakohnian government,” Kirk said. “If you had taken the longer route, then we would not be having this conversation. We would not even be dealing with the True Thekohnians right now!”

“I agree.”

“If that is the case, perhaps you would do me a favor?”

“What favor, Kirk?”

“You will kill him,” Kirk replied. “To strike back at the True Thekohnians, you will kill Lokke.”

“I can’t,” Henry said. “I promised to Tori before we were to get married that I would never kill again. Silly, I know.”

“It’s noble,” Kirk said, “If it were anybody else. But this is you. You have fallen far from grace.”

“And you won’t do it?” Henry asked. “You always talked about how if you were to kill someone who committed atrocities, it would make you no better than them. Now you want me to do something you can’t? Do you even know what the fuck you’re saying!?”

“I never claimed to be perfect,” Kirk said. “I have my own reasons for sparing the guilty, too.”

“I’m just not going to do your dirty work.”

“We’ll see,” Kirk replied. “We’ll see what kind of man you are when we come face to face with Lokke himself. Will you let him walk, or will you break your promise?”

“Is there not another way?” Henry asked. “This is unlike you. By now, you would have had some solution to this dilemma.”

“If you have a solution, then you’re free to offer it,” Kirk said. “Of course, that would require some critical thinking on your part.”

Henry didn’t respond.

The two men didn’t talk for the rest of the drive, opting to look out the window instead as the city limits of Bel approached. Henry was thinking about what was going on in Rezar, especially with Tori. She had to have been worried, perhaps even figured things out by now. He assumed it was the same for Kirk, too, although there was no way Kirk was ever going to tell him. With a sigh, Henry watched as the car slowed down to a gentle halt.

“We’re stopping now?” Henry asked. “We’re not even in the city yet!”

“It would be stupid to drive into the city,” Kirk replied. “Pick up your knives, because we’re walking now.”

Henry followed after Kirk, who tried to maintain a steady pace over him. They were less than a mile away from the city as they heard gunshots.

“As bad as I thought,” Kirk said. “We need to keep ourselves to a low profile if we don’t want to attract any attention to ourselves.”

Kirk walked with his hand by his hip as he was ready to draw his sword at any moment. Henry was ready, too, with both knives hanging at either side of his waist. They strolled into the entrance to the city, going through the large, open gate and into the empty street before them. Looking around, Kirk kept his hand ready as he could hear footsteps coming closer. He turned around, almost ready to go as he saw it was just a small child looking up at him.

“I’m sorry, kid,” Kirk said. “Please get out here right now. Your parents must be worried.”

The child said nothing as she ran off. Kirk continued to look as Henry stepped forward.

“It’s too quiet,” Henry said.

“We must continue to be alert,” Kirk replied. “If he is here, then…”

Kirk shook his head. He began to walk again as another gunshot resonated through the air. It was much closer than the previous ones. Henry looked around, wondering where it came from. That was when he and Kirk saw them. A small group stood, with a familiar man to both of them leading the way.

“You’ve finally stepped in it, haven’t you Kirk?” Lokke asked.

Kirk drew his sword. “Who was it!?”

Lokke’s attention turned to Henry. “Is that who I think it is? You look like you’ve been through hell, Henry Randolph,” he said. “Perhaps I should do you a favor and put you out of your misery.”

“How are you still here?” Henry asked.

“It seems you’ve forgotten about a friend of ours,” Lokke replied. “Do you not remember the great prime minister of Iiayikohn, Iean Sergs?”

“I’m well familiar,” Kirk answered. “The day he left office was the day that Iiayikohn’s people saw his reign of terror come to a satisfying end.”

“It’s unfortunate that he left,” Lokke said, “But understandable. If only that delusional Alan Berry didn’t become prime minister, Sergs could still be in power! After all, it was he who gave the True Thekohnians life!”

“We both know you don’t care about the True Thekohnians,” Kirk said. “You only care about one person: yourself. It’s always been about you.”

“Everything you’ve done was for your benefit,” Henry said. “As long as you made a profit, it didn’t matter who died and who lived.”

“From a man who’s taken lives, that’s rich,” Lokke said. “Sure, I might have influenced people to kill, but could you even say that I bloodied my own hands?”

“What I did doesn’t matter,” Henry said.

“Then perhaps you should tell that to your friend,” Lokke replied. “Of course, you have no chance to prove I even did anything wrong.”

Kirk’s grip tightened. “Just tell us one thing,” he said. “Sergs, where is he? Why did he need you now?”

“I’m afraid you won’t be finding Iean around here anytime soon,” Lokke answered. “As for why he needed me, well, you can see that for yourself, can’t you?”

“I see,” Kirk said. “The attack wasn’t meant as a warning from the True Thekohnians… It was meant to start a war.”

“Then, you’ve yet again caused the deaths of many,” Henry said. “All because of your greed.”

“Oh please,” Lokke said. “You go on and on about my ‘greed,’ but we keep fighting for many different reasons. Why should I be the only one chastised for what everyone is guilty of?”

“You really don’t get it,” Kirk said. “Fine. We will not hesitate to defeat you once again.”

“Let me see,” Lokke said. “It’s the two of you versus five of my men, plus the fact that many more are around here as well. Do you really think that you’ll stop me before the war starts?”

“I’ve been through worse,” Kirk replied. “Henry, now is as good a time as any. You will do it, correct?”

Henry took out his knives and turned to Lokke. “You’ve caused pain for so many,” he said. “I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to drive these knives into your skull. However, I’ve made a promise.”

Kirk looked over at Henry. “Henry… I swear to god…”

“I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of killing you, Lokke,” Henry said. “Even if it is a detriment to everyone involved, I just can’t break that promise.”

“I suppose it can’t be helped,” Lokke said. “Looks like you’ve failed, Mr. Wilk. All this talk about wanting to bring peace? It’s laughable.”

“You’re forgetting one thing, Lokke,” Henry said.

Lokke scoffed. “What is that?”

“I never said I wasn’t going to hurt you.”

Henry dashed forward, flipping the knife in his left hand as he drove the handle end into Lokke’s forehead. The force of the blow was enough to knock Lokke to the ground as the other five men tried to take out their weapons. Henry turned to the nearest one and did the same move with his right hand, thrusting the handle into the side of the man’s head.

“You really do surprise, don’t you?” Kirk asked.

“Look out!” Henry exclaimed.

Kirk saw one of the other men run up to him, charging at him with a sword. For Kirk, he dodged the attack and used his free hand to strike the man on the back of his head. With the man dropping to the ground, Kirk turned back to Henry.

“We can’t all of them, Henry,” he said. “Let’s run!”

“Very well,” Henry replied.

Kirk and Henry ran to the left, going further into the city of Bel as Lokke sat up and rubbed his forehead. He was helped up by one of his henchmen as he pointed towards the direction that Kirk and Henry left.

“What the hell are you doing?” Lokke asked. “Follow after them!”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 12 – Part 2

After Gale explained what happened this morning, Gavin took a deep breath. He had his hand placed on his forehead as he sighed again.

“If I had to guess, the True Thekohnians were behind his death,” Gavin said.

“Why do you say that?” Sorin asked.

“They’ve already killed so many,” Gavin replied. “Belkley would just be another casualty to them.”

“That’s not right,” Gale said, “He’s more than just a casualty. He was like a son to Eva!”

“Do you think they care?” Gavin asked. “Groups like the True Thekohnians will do whatever it takes to reach their goal.”

“Sorry, Gale, but bro’s right for once,” Law said. He moved forward in his crutches. “You’re looking at someone lucky enough to survive. They don’t really care about the past of those they kill.”

“I know that,” Gale said. “I just don’t think it’s fair at all to him.”

“I agree that it’s not fair, Gale,” Law said. “I would know firsthand about that, but we can’t just let them get away with it.”

“We’re the heroes!” Mina said. “It’s our job to stop villains, and these villains will pay for what they’ve done!”

“She’s obviously fired up,” Gavin said. “The True Thekohnians need to be stopped, for everyone’s sake… And I’m going to be the one to stop Victor Wihll, Sorin Wilk.”

“You can do that,” Sorin said. “As long as I’m able to meet Rysol again.”

“Just you watch,” Gavin told Sorin, “Wihll is going to suffer for what he did. I can assure you of that.”

“Anyway,” Law said, “The lovely Ayanna is awaiting you guys upstairs.”

“That’s why we were waiting,” Mina said. “Let’s go!”

“Are you not going with us, Lawrence?” Sorin asked.

“You want me to risk going up those stairs with these?” Law asked, gesturing with the crutches he was holding. “I’m gonna just sit here and wait for Eva to arrive… Maybe get some one on one with her.”

“In a public place like this!?” Gavin asked. “That’s illegal, Lawrence!”

“Damn, I didn’t think your mind would go that way, bro,” Law said. “I was just talking about getting to know her.”

“I’m sure you did,” Gavin said. “Disgusting.”

Law laughed. “Whatever you say,” he said.

Gavin shook his head. “Fine, we’ll go,” he replied, looking over to Sorin and Gale. “Come on. You too, Mina.”

Mina leapt out of her seat. “Yay!”

 

Upstairs, soldiers from Ameci, Ahnlikohn, and Iiayikohn walked around as the meeting room’s door was ajar. Gavin walked in, with Sorin, Gale, and Mina right behind him, and greeted the generals. Rohan, General Anker of Ahnlikohn, and General Reiss of Iiayikohn all sat at the end of the room while Ayanna sat next to Reiss.

“Take a seat,” Reiss said.

Gavin sat down. “Thank you, sir.”

“It’s nice to see you, Gale,” Fercewend said. “I’m sorry you had to be wrapped up in this.”

“It’s okay, Rohan,” she said, taking her seat. “This affects us all, so I want to hear everything today.”

“Very well,” he said. “The other two, I assume, are friends?”

Sorin sat down. “Nice to meet you all,” he said. “I’m… Sorin Wilk. Kirk’s son.”

“Ah, so you’re the young one, aren’t you?” Anker asked. “Kirk did mention he had two sons… It seems like it was the right call inviting them over, Major Ansa.”

“Thank you,” Ayanna said. “Although I thought that one of the Swords of Eight was going to be here as well…”

“She’s coming,” Sorin said.

“Anyway, what about you, young lady?” Fercewend asked.

Mina stared at Fercewend. “I know who you are,” she said. “You’re the strongest man in the world!”

Fercewend smiled. “I haven’t been referred to that in a while,” he said. “It seems that some people here still hold me to that title.”

“Of course!” Mina replied. “People talk about your heroism all the time, including me!”

“I’m absolutely flattered,” Fercewend said. “Let’s move onto business, shall we?”

“Right,” Ayanna said. “You were talking earlier about how to approach Bel, General Reiss. I do like this plan you’ve laid out.”

“There’s something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, Ansa,” Reiss said. “What exactly are they supposed to be doing?”

“Well, it was Power’s idea,” Ayanna said. “It seems that he wants to lead a small group of people into Maeitakohn to stop the True Thekohnian leader before we can move in.”

“This is the first I’m hearing of this,” Fercewend said. “Lieutenant, what exactly are you doing?”

“General,” Gavin said. “I know it’s unprecedented for us, but I can trust Mr. Wilk and Ms. Rask to hold their own.”

“Are you sure about that?” Fercewend asked.

“My own brother has testified about Rask’s strength,” Gavin replied. “Besides, she wants this all to end just as much as we do.”

“Your brother… he’s here?”

“Yes, sir,” Gavin said. “I’m aware of what he did, but it isn’t important at all right now.”

“There are bigger problems right now than him,” Fercewend said. “Gale, for the love of god, you’re not going with him, are you?”

“I can’t,” she answered. “As much as I would like to, I can’t. I’m staying here.”

Fercewend let out a sigh. “And you, Sorin?”

“I think I can handle myself,” he replied.

“If you are that confident,” Fercewend said, “Then I suppose I am able to trust the son of Kirk Wilk. What say you, Rask?”

“It’s Mina,” she said. “Mighty Mina, to be precise!”

“There’s another,” Gavin said. “A former Swords of Eight… Eva Bellamy.”

“Is that so?” Fercewend asked. He grinned. “Then maybe I shouldn’t be so worried after all.”

Gavin adjusted his sunglasses. “That’s a go, then?”

“If it is Bellamy, then I can give the go ahead,” Fercewend said.

“Fercewend, you are okay with it?” Anker asked. “Because I still have doubt in my mind that this will go well.”

“Have you doubted me during my speech?” Fercewend asked. “How about when I led my men multiple times to victory?”

Anker leaned. “But is Bellamy not the youngest of that entire group?”

“Ask the prime minister,” Fercewend replied. “He can attest that she can lead this group. So can I.”

Anker nodded. “Then I will take your word for it,” he said, “But if this mission fails, we will not hesitate to send our troops in.”

“Lieutenant, you will assure that this mission will not fail,” Fercewend said.

“My aim is true,” Gavin said, “And I never miss. Not now, not ever.”

“Good to hear,” Fercewend said.

“And I assume that is all, is it not, Power?” Ayanna asked.

“You know it,” Gavin replied.

“Then let me escort you all out,” she said. “If you would, General Reiss.”

“Go ahead,” Reiss said.

Ayanna proceeded to leave the room with Gavin, Sorin, Mina, and Gale when Fercewend spoke up.

“Gale,” he said, “Do you think you could stay for a moment longer?”

“What for?”

“It’s something… important,” Fercewend answered.

“I see,” Gale said. “Alright. Sorin…”

Sorin tilted his head. “Yes, Gale?”

“You’re going to go to Maeitakohn after this, right?” Gale asked.

“I think so,” he replied.

“There’s something I need to tell you first,” Gale said. “You see, I… I wish you all good luck.”

“We don’t need luck,” Gavin said. “Unlike Lawrence, I don’t rely on nonexistent things like that. Our success is going to be because of pure skill and determination!”

Mina pumped her fist. “Yeah! We’re a skilled team!”

“I think we’ll be fine, Gale,” Sorin said. “I will see you again.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’ll see you soon!”

They gave their goodbyes to Gale as Ayanna led them back downstairs. As they entered to lobby, Law and Eva were talking to each other. Gavin walked up to Law, who was still sitting down.

“Oh, hey, bro,” Law said.

“Don’t tell me,” Gavin said, “I see what’s going on.”

Law rolled his eyes. “Come on, man,” he said. “You’d think I’d do that given what she’s been through today?”

“It was actually a nice conversation, Law,” Eva said. “Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome,” Law replied.

“So we’re ready to go, then?” Eva asked.

Sorin gave her a nod. “General Fercewend seems to have no problem with it,” he said. “Oh, and I guess he wanted to see Gale, too.”

“I’m glad to hear that Rohan’s enthusiastic,” Eva said. “So, how are we going to head out?”

“I’ve taken the liberty of obtaining a car,” Gavin answered. “By that I mean that the Iiayikohnian military was nice enough to offer it.”

Law smirked. “That means it’s a beater,” he said. “I guess it should be good enough to make the trip, though.”

“So how long does it usually take to get to Maeitakohn?” Sorin asked.

“It’s a little over 160 kilometers to Bel,” Eva replied.

“That’s it?” Gavin asked. “Why the hell aren’t we on the road, then?”

“Do you not want to say goodbye, first?” Ayanna asked.

“Hey, I don’t plan on saying goodbye,” Gavin said, “Because I know that I’m going to be back.”

“Let’s hope you keep that promise, then,” Ayanna said. “I would hate having to break the news here to your brother if things went wrong.”

“You’re never going to have to worry about that,” Gavin replied. “Anyway, Sorin, you have a license, right?”

“Yeah, why?” Sorin asked.

“Someone has to drive,” Gavin answered. “I’m right handed, so being in the passenger seat would be beneficial to me if I need to start shooting.”

Sorin scratched his head. “What about you, Eva?”

“You should know why I can’t drive,” she replied.

“And I don’t even have a license!” Mina commented. “That means it’s up to you to drive us to Maeitakohn!”

“I guess I have to, then,” Sorin said. “Where’s the car, Gavin?”

“It’s close,” he replied. “Let’s get moving. If we’re going to have to catch up to Victor Wihll, then we mustn’t waste any more time, Sorin Wilk!”

“You really don’t have to use my full name,” Sorin said.

“Whatever,” he said. “We will be back, Lawrence!”

“See you later, Law!” Mina said. “We’re going to kick some butt!”

“One last thing, bro,” Law said. “When you see Wihll, be sure to tell him that I said hello.”

“I’ll be sure to,” Gavin said, “By putting a bullet in his head.”

“Looks like I don’t need to worry, then,” Law said.
Gavin left the building with Sorin, as Mina followed behind them. Eva turned back to face Law one last time.

“I need to thank you once again, Law,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s good just to talk to someone,” he said. “If you ever want to talk again, let me know.”

Eva smiled. “I will.”

She left to rejoin Gavin’s group, as Ayanna sat down next to Law.

“So what did you two actually talk about?” Ayanna asked.

“That’s a secret,” he replied. “I promised her I wouldn’t tell, and a guy like me respect’s a lady’s right to privacy.”

“Sometimes you surprise me, Law Power,” she said.

“Well, I’m just going to take that as a compliment,” Law said. “Say, do you have any siblings?”

“I do,” Ayanna replied. “I’m the oldest of six.”

“A trendsetter, then.”

“That’s an odd way to put it,” she said. “Anyway, four brothers and a sister. Actually, you might have heard of my parents, or at least know about their business.”

“It’s funny, but I don’t,” Law responded.

“Have you not heard of Ansa Farms?”

“Can’t say that I have,” he said. “Then again, I am always willing to see new places.”

“After this is all said and done, maybe I will take you,” Ayanna said. “I was going to tell Mina about it since she loves food, but I suppose you deserve to go just as well. I can even take your brother along as well.”

“I’ll make a reminder of it,” Law said. He reached into his pocket but found nothing. “Ah, that’s right, I gave my diary to my bro.”

“You needn’t worry about it,” Ayanna said. “When that time comes, I will remind you.”

“It’s just as well,” he said. “Perhaps he needs that book more than I do at this point.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Oh, nothing,” Law replied. “Just saying.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Chapter 12 – Part 1

[2740 AD; Port of Iiayi – Morning Shine]

 

In the morning sunlight, Gamil walked up to his ship. It had been a long night for him as he agonized over Belkley’s absence. Upon arriving at the ship, Gamil saw a couple of Iiayikohnian officers kneeling by the water.

“Step back, sir,” one of the officers said.

“What is going on?” Gamil asked.

“That’s none of your business,” the second officer answered.

“It’s my boat,” Gamil said, “So maybe it is my business.”

“I’m sorry,” the first officer said. “We don’t want a lot of people to know what happened here.”

Gamil raised his eyebrow. “Ah, so it’s one of those incidents? Some unfortunate fool drowned in the water, huh?”

“It’s not like that,” the second officer replied. “This man was stabbed.”

“For officers, you’re awfully careless,” Gamil said.

He moved forward, peering over the two officers. When he saw the body, Gamil felt as if a heavy stone sat in the pit of his stomach. He did not want to believe what he was seeing, but reality was cruel. In the water Belkley lay, and Gamil had no idea how to react.

“Do you know who did it?” Gamil asked.

“We have no clue,” the first officer said. “You know this man?”

“Yes,” Gamil replied. “He’s… he’s a friend of mine.”

“We’re very sorry, sir,” the second officer said. “I can not begin to imagine how you’re feeling.”

“It’s okay,” Gamil said. “Although I guess I’m going to be the bearer of bad news to her.”

Gamil looked around for a payphone, finding one near the street. He knew that it was not going to be the easiest call he would have to make, but it had to be done. He dialed the number for the Port Hotel, and requested the room under the name of Kirk Wilk. One ring came and went. Gamil took a deep breath as the second ring sounded. Then, he heard her voice.

“Hello?” Eva asked. “Who is this?”

“Eva, it’s Gamil,” he said. “I… Can you come to the port? I’ll explain it to you when you get here.”

 

Two more officers had arrived between the time of Gamil’s call and when Eva’s group arrived. She, Sorin, and Gale met with Gamil, who pointed them over to the group of officers by the ship.

“It’s bad,” Gamil said. “Belkley… he’s gone…”

“No, I can’t believe it,” Gale said. “Eva, I’m so sorry…”

Eva didn’t respond. She had to see it for herself. There was no way that this was real, she thought. She rushed over to the group of officers and attempted to barge in.

“Ma’am, please step back,” the third officer said.

“No!” Eva said. “Let me see for myself!”

She pushed her way between two of the officers and saw for herself. His clothes were soaked, but there was enough blood to signify that he was indeed stabbed. There was no other reaction, as Eva collapsed to her knees. A low growl emitted from her mouth as she punched the ground below her. She punched again and again until Gamil had to restrain her hand.

“Damn it,” Eva said. “Damn it, damn it, damn it!”

“Eva, please stand up,” Gamil said. “Belkley would not want to see you crying, would he?”

“I can’t begin to imagine,” Sorin said.

“He was a good man,” Eva said. “Why? Why take him now, damn it!?”

“I wish I could say,” Gamil replied. “Whoever did this… they can’t be forgiven for what they did.”

“I’ll kill them,” Eva muttered. “When I see the person who decided to kill Belkley… I’ll kill them.”

Gamil scratched his head. “Eva…”

“I’m not afraid to do it,” she said. “This sword of mine isn’t afraid to eviscerate Belkley’s killer.”

“I know what they did was inexcusable,” Sorin said, “But… But is it really okay? When you say that, it makes me uneasy.”

“Sorin, you know why your father fights, don’t you?” Eva asked. “If you knew what happened to me, then you would understand why he and I differ when it comes to mercy.”

“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.

“Your father holds himself up as noble,” she replied. “He has, as far as I’ve known him, never taken a single life in any of his battles. Even for the most deplorable of enemies, Kirk withdrew his sword and offered to spare them.”

“It’s truly admirable how he did it, too,” Gamil added. “He was such a skilled fighter, that he’d have them on the ropes. Kirk’d talk them up, just to have them surrender.”

“He was usually lucky,” Eva said. “He would have back-up most of the time, so there would’ve been no choice for enemies except give up.”

“You still fought for good, right?” Gale asked.

“Of course we did!” Eva replied. “But you can’t just think that we were all noble men and women that would never kill. Kirk maybe, but I knew that I wouldn’t survive long if I chose to spare my opponents like he did.”

“So, you have?” Sorin asked.

Eva nodded. “I’d rather not talk about how many I’ve killed,” she said, “But it is the truth. I’m truly sorry.”

“No, it’s okay,” Sorin said.

“You don’t hold it against me?” Eva asked.

“I know you have your reasons,” Sorin replied. “That I can’t change… But I do want to change myself.”

“I think you already have,” Eva said.

“This whole trip, I was feeling like a burden,” Sorin said, “But after yesterday, I saw him. I saw the goal.”

“You’re not even sure that it is him, though,” Gale said.

“You might be right, Gale,” Sorin replied. “It has made me want to keep going, because I realize what’s at stake here. What everyone has been fighting for.”

“Well, you’re getting there, alright,” Gamil said. “Think I even heard some of this before, but I’ll let you finish!”

“You stood strong for Belkley, Eva,” Sorin said, “And I want to be able to stand for someone important to me someday. I’ve decided I’m not a burden anymore; I’m a force knocking at the door, ready to break it down!”

Gamil laughed. “I knew it,” he said. “Kirk said something like that a long time ago. Boy, it brings back memories.”

“Anyway, you understand,” Eva said. “I can’t just spare Belkley’s killer.”

“I get that,” Sorin said.

He knew that if it came down to where if they happened to come face to face with that person, Sorin couldn’t stop Eva. Part of him felt like he wouldn’t, but there was part of him that had hesitation. Still, there was a common ground with Eva, and Sorin sought to maintain that.

“Sorin, we still have to see them,” Eva said. “You and Gale should head to the embassy. I want to be here for a little while longer.”

“Okay,” Sorin said. “Should we hope to see you there?”

“Of course,” she replied. “Go on and let me send Belkley off.”

Sorin and Gale left as Eva and Gamil turned back to the group of officers. Eva did not want either of them seeing her at her weakest as she moved past the officers once again. She knelt by him for what would be the last time.

“I’m going to make sure that your life won’t be forgotten,” she said.

“Kid deserved better,” Gamil said.

“It always seems to happen, doesn’t it?” Eva asked.

Gamil agreed. “These poor kids keep getting thrown into the mess the rest of us created,” he said. “Just a damn shame…”

 

On the way to the Ameci Embassy, Sorin and Gale stopped to get some coffee. After they received their drinks, the two continued onto the embassy. Sorin walked by Gale’s side as she was eyeing the small, warm cup in her hand.

“Do you think Eva was serious?” Gale asked.

“I don’t think she would joke about it,” Sorin replied. “She did just lose someone close to her. I mean, we met him too. He was a nice guy.”

“Yeah,” Gale said. “I’ve never actually seen a dead body before today… I really hope that Belkley’s is the last I see for a while.”

“Me too,” he said.

Gale took a sip of her coffee. “I’m… not comfortable talking about this,” she said, “Do you want to talk about something else?”

“What else do you want to talk about?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “How about you?”

“You were the one offering to talk about something else,” he said.

“No, I meant yourself,” she said. “You said you were an artist. What about that?”

“I mean, I already told you,” Sorin said, “I want to get better.”

“What do you usually draw?”

“Anything,” he replied. “I guess usually landscapes. Actually, some of the places around here have made me want to pick up and get at it… I mean, if I had the time to, of course.”

“What about people?” Gale asked. “Ever tried drawing someone?”

“Well, my usual point of reference for people was my friend Smith,” he said. “Not really much I could choose from there.”

“But you’ve met so many people so far,” she said, “Perhaps there’s someone who’s inspired you to consider starting?”

“I guess either my father or Eva,” he answered. “Both of them are interesting, but I could never ask them. It would be too awkward.”

“Are you sure there’s no one else?”

“Maybe Gavin,” Sorin said, “But if I asked him if I could draw him, he’d probably be upset that I didn’t get him right or something.”

“Perhaps you should start somewhere else,” Gale said. “Someone who you’ve been with over the past few days and who has always been there for you.”

“You’re asking about yourself?”

“I mean, only if you asked me, obviously,” Gale replied. “I wouldn’t have a problem with it, of course.”

“Well, I would like to, then,” Sorin said.

“What would you say is my best feature?” Gale asked. “I’m sorry, let me rephrase that: as an artist, what would you define as the most notable thing about me?”

“That’s kind of tough to say,” he said.

Gale looked away.

“But that’s because there’s so much about you,” Sorin added. “I mean, you’re smart and you have a nice smile…”

“Thank you, Sorin,” she said. “I guess that’s what I wanted to know.”

“So there’s nothing else you want to ask?”

“That was it,” Gale replied. “Hey, when this is all over… Do you want to stay here for a while longer?”

“In this country?” Sorin asked. “I mean, I wanted to go back to Ameci…”

“You have that job, don’t you,” Gale said. “I understand.”

“Still, I guess there’s still a lot I wanted to see,” Sorin said. “Especially if you’re here, Gale.”

“As long as you consider it,” she said. She stopped in her tracks, turning to the building beside her. “It looks like we’ve arrived.”

“So this is the embassy,” Sorin said.

A three story building stood before them. The two walked up the steps to the front door and opened it. Inside, Gavin, Law, and Mina were waiting for them.

“What happened?” Gavin asked.

“Let me explain,” Gale said.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Chapter 11 – Part 2

[2740 AD; Ports of Iiayi]

 

The glow of the moon above reflected on the ocean below. It was a quiet night when Belkley arrived before him, the man he once knew ten years ago. Wihll hid behind the back of the building by the dock and emerged from the shadows. Both men stood tall, facing each other as the breeze ruffled Belkley’s hair.

“You told to come,” Belkley said. “Here I am. What do you want?”

“Do you want to know how I knew you were here?” Wihll asked. “I can answer that if you want.”

Belkley shook his head. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, “I already know what you guys do to people who leave the True Thekohnians.”

“It seems you haven’t forgotten,” Wihll said.

“It’s hard to forget what I saw,” Belkley replied. “Especially because you seemed so calm about what happened.”

“Then you saw it?” Wihll asked. “The masterpiece of our work this morning… I guess you could call it the True Thekohnians’ magnum opus.”

Belkley clenched his fists. “I always knew there was something wrong with you,” he said, “But to stoop this low! You are a piece of shit!”

“Ah, Belkley, how wrong you are,” Wihll said. “I only wished that this was my work. Everything that happened today was because of Walton Lokke.”

Belkley’s eyes shot up. “Lokke!?”

Wihll stretched his arms. “Yep, the old man’s been out of prison for a while now,” he said. “You should have seen him all fired up!”

“He’s a murderer!” Belkley said. “It was because of him that my family died! He probably even had your family killed, too!”

It was then that Wihll snickered. “Poor Belkley, you really are ignorant,” he said. “We were so young back then, but I didn’t expect that you’d still be the same pathetic kid.”

“Just tell me what you want,” Belkley demanded.

“Ah yes, that,” Wihll said. “It’s funny, really. I was wondering if you’d give me one more chance. That is, if you apologize, obviously.”

“Apologize for what?” Belkley asked. “How dare you think that I should apologize!”

“And here I thought that you would drop to your knees,” Wihll said. “Of course I knew you wouldn’t so easily accept. Even after I helped you out and rescued you from certain doom, I always knew you would be a traitor.”

“But I didn’t know,” Belkley said, “I didn’t know that what I’d be getting into would be so evil…”

“Really? You’re calling me evil?” Wihll asked. “After what the Ameci-Iiayi alliance did to your hometown?”

“You say that, and it might be true,” Belkley replied, “But the True Thekohnians are no better!”

“To be honest, I’m getting really tired of hearing that,” Wihll said. “All this talk about how we’re so nefarious, so evil… Do you really think that about me?”

“I’m done,” Belkley said. “I just want to go back on the ocean again like I have been doing.”

“You really know how to make me envy you, don’t you?”

“That wasn’t meant as a brag.”

“Then I guess I should ask you something else,” Wihll said. “Have you ever felt like dying?”

“I don’t want to answer that,” Belkley replied.

Wihll laughed. “Guess you wouldn’t know,” he said. “As for me, I’ve had it all. Let’s just say that I’m fortunate enough to stand before you right now.”

Silence filled the air as Belkley didn’t respond.

“I guess you don’t have anything to say about that, do you?” Wihll asked. “Honestly, I don’t even care at this point. I’ve already come here to say what I’ve wanted to say.”

“So you’re done, then?” Belkley asked.

“Well, done with you, Belkley Ghillard,” Wihll replied.

“What are you talking about?”

It was only a second later as Wihll stabbed Belkley in his side. The pain shocked Belkley as he gasped out loud, the knife driving deeper into his body. He looked Wihll in the eyes and saw a face he had never seen before. Wihll’s eyes were at their widest, his eyebrows furrowed as he had a large smile upon his face.

“Do you see it now?” Wihll asked. “This is what happens to traitors!”

Belkley mustered up his strength to shove Wihll away. He began to run, covering his wound as blood leaked out. Still, Victor Wihll was persistent. He caught up to Belkley again and lifted the knife up once more. With a single swing, Wihll brought it down. The knife planted itself within Belkley’s back, which made him fall to the ground.

“Victor…”

He struggled to turn his head when Wihll removed the knife from him. To feel it coming out was almost worse. Once his sights settled, Belkley saw Wihll stand over him. Wihll began to laugh as he put his knife away.

“Maybe it didn’t go exactly as I planned it,” Wihll said, “But I did end finishing what I wanted to do.”

Belkley tried to reply, but ended up coughing instead. Blood spurted out of his mouth as he did.

“You were quite a good friend a time ago,” Wihll told him. “I would say it was too bad, but we both know you got what you deserved.”

He then dragged Belkley over to the side. A vast body of water awaited both of them as Wihll turned to Belkley one last time.

“Good night,” Wihll said.

With that, Wihll shoved Belkley into the water face down. It would be the last few moments that Belkley would have as his life faded. A few bubbles rose up to the surface, but that was it. Wihll stood there until he was certain that Belkley was dead, and then left.

“Not much to do now,” he said. “Lokke, it will all be worth it in the end. You will be surprised.”

Wihll left the port as if nothing had happened. He was focused on Maeitakohn now that the last bit of his past was left floating in the water. It would not be until the morning when Belkley would be found, but by then Wihll would already be gone. Wihll’s plan had already gone into action earlier today, and he was not about to abandon it right now.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 11 – Part 1

[2740 AD; Helmut Hospital – Patient Ward – Giga District]

 

Gavin eyed outside the window and watched the sun set. Near him, Law lay in the bed, his broken leg securely wrapped and propped up. Mina sat in the chair next to his bed, trying to console him.

“I didn’t think you’d survive!” Mina cried.

“You can’t count my luck out,” Law said. “I got off pretty easy, don’t you think bro?”

“Are you not taking this seriously?” Gavin asked. “The prime minister’s office has been attacked by the True Thekohnians, and you’re just laughing it all off!?”

“Bro, of course I’m not laughing,” Law said. “What they did is unforgivable. The doctor told me that almost a hundred people were killed, all because of this group.”

“If only we’d been stronger,” Mina said, sniffling.

“Mina, there wasn’t much we could do to prevent that attack,” Law said. “We knew there was going to be some sort of an attack, but never the magnitude of it. All the Iiayikohn army could do was try to control the situation.”

“But your leg… you got hurt,” she said. “It was because of me that you got hurt!”

“No, it wasn’t your fault,” Law told her. “It was Wihll. He did this.”

“How am I supposed to protect people and be a hero when I can’t protect my friends?” Mina asked. “That’s not a hero at all!”

She cried again and stood up, ready to leave when Ayanna walked in.

“Ansa,” Gavin said.

“You will dry your tears at once, Mina!” Ayanna said.

“But you’ve heard what happened, right?” Mina asked. “That Law… he can’t walk because of my mistake!”

“Gavin, please,” Ayanna said.

“Lawrence told me about what you did,” Gavin said, his lips turning to a smile. “He couldn’t have asked for a better friend by his side. Well, aside from me, of course.”

“You mean that?” Mina asked.

“I do,” Law replied. “I admire many women, but a woman who can kick some ass is quite exceptional. Now please, stop beating yourself up for what happened to me.”

Mina sniffed one last time. “Okay,” she said. “I promise to you that I will bring Wihll to justice!”

“Is that so?” Gavin asked. “Well, that makes two of us. I’m going to walk right up to Victor Wihll and show him that I’m the only one who can kick Lawrence’s ass!”

“Guess that’s one way to put it,” Law said. “It’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?”

“You’re acting quite casually for someone who has had his leg broken,” Ayanna noted.

Law looked to his leg. “This is nothing,” he replied. “I’ve broken bones before, even been shot. I’m not the luckiest man in the world for nothing.”

“He’s right,” Gavin said. “It pains me to say it, but he’s right.”

“That’s how it usually is,” Law said. “Anyway, I’ve still got some aches. It’s a good thing you’ve arrived, Ayanna. Perhaps you could help relieve my stress?”

“Gavin, I didn’t come alone,” Ayanna said, choosing to ignore Law’s suggestion.

“Is the general here?” Gavin asked.

“He’s meeting with the prime minister and Harring,” she replied. “I have other people that want to meet you.”

Gavin narrowed his eyes. “Who?”

“I’ll go get them,” Ayanna said.

 

Moments later, Sorin, Eva, Gale, and Tori entered the ward. They gathered at Law’s bed, checking in on him. Gavin relayed what had happened earlier to Law and Mina, with Sorin and Gale offering support to Law. Then, it was Sorin’s turn to tell Gavin about what happened to them.

“Okay, part of that doesn’t make sense,” Gavin said.

“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.

“This man you claim existed,” Gavin replied. “Your brother. You’ve been saying that you were looking for him all this time and he just turns up when disaster strikes?”

“I… I can’t explain it,” Sorin said. “He seemed dangerous, but at the same time, I think he knows.”

“Something has been bothering me,” Eva said. “Ever since we’ve run into ‘Rysol’ I’ve been thinking that I’ve seen him before…”

“Eva, what is it?” Gale asked.

Eva gasped. “Him! He was the one who attacked Belkley!”

“What? No way!” Sorin said. “That man ten years ago, you stopped him and cut off his arm!”

“You even told us,” Gale added. “When we met Rysol, he had both arms.”

“Maybe I’m mistaken,” Eva said. “It’s been a long time, perhaps I remembered it wrong…”

Gavin cleared his throat. “I’m still here,” he said. “Anyway, I know I remember seeing both Henry Randolph and Kirk Wilk with you. Where are they?”

“Actually, that’s what we wanted to tell you,” Tori said. “You see, since the explosion, Henry has been missing.”

“Same with my father,” Sorin said. “We were trying to find him today, but couldn’t.”

“He just had to be stubborn,” Eva commented.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Gale said. “We were going to talk with Alan afterwards, so why would he go talk to him… Oh god…”

“What is it, Gale?” Eva asked.

Gale adjusted her glasses. “It only just crossed my mind, but it would explain his actions,” she began, “But what if he knew the explosions were going to happen?”

“Are you saying he had a hand in it?” Gavin asked.

“That’s impossible!” Sorin said. “It doesn’t make any sense!”

“I’m not implying that Kirk has anything to do with the attack,” Gale replied, “Or that he’s part of the True Thekohnians. Just that he would’ve known about the plan.”

“I’m going to agree with Sorin here,” Eva said. “I know Kirk. He is completely against what the True Thekohnians stand for.”

“What do you mean?” Gavin asked.

“He fights to protect,” she replied. “Kirk has never taken a single life in all the time that I’ve known him.”

“Yeah, I guess that whole ‘no killing’ thing would be a problem with the True Thekohnians,” Law said. “If that wasn’t such a problem, he and them would probably have some common ground.”

“Are you talking about the True Thekohnians and their claim to fight oppression?” Eva asked. “Because that’s a lie. A lie that a greedy little man named Walton Lokke made up to recruit members.”

“You mean to tell me that they were lying?” Law asked. “I’m so shocked. Shocked!”

He burst out laughing. No one else decided to join him.

“Yes, well, if you’re done,” Eva continued, “Lokke used to be a friend of Kirk’s, apparently. Seems he has a knack for tricking even the smartest of people into believing his lies.”

“Do you know what happened?” Gale asked.

“I don’t know the full details,” she replied, “But apparently an Ameci soldier was part of the reason why things happened the way they did.”

Tori muttered under her breath. “Henry…”

It was that moment Eva turned to Tori. “It was Henry?”

“Well, no, but he feels like he’s responsible,” she answered. “He still beats himself up over it.”

“Damn it,” Eva said. “Lokke’s still found a way to trick him, hasn’t he? Even when he’s locked away, Lokke had one last laugh…”

Tori sighed. “Well, that isn’t exactly the case.”

“What does that mean?” Eva asked.

“I guess Major Ansa could tell you,” Tori replied.

Ayanna focused on Eva. “Unfortunately, there’s some bad news,” she said. “You see…”

 

Eva rested a hand over her face and breathed a long sigh. “I should have known this,” she said. “These explosions, these distractions… They’re Lokke’s work, alright.”

“I’ve read the papers,” Gavin said. “He’s led some ruthless attacks in the past.”

“Bro, this Lokke guy… he’s a real piece of work,” Law responded. “Men, women, and children have all died because of his pursuit of power.”

“There was a time that many thought that the War of the Lands would never end,” Eva said. “Lokke wanted it to stay that way, mainly because it benefitted him.”

“How so?” Gale asked.

“Lokke makes his money selling weapons,” Eva explained. “You see where this goes, don’t you?”

“I think I do,” Gale replied.

“It wasn’t enough for him,” Eva said. “He had to have more. That’s why he joined Kirk’s group, Fighting Sun.”

“But wasn’t he part of the Swords of Eight?” Sorin asked.

“There was another group,” Eva said. “While the Swords of Eight focused on helping end the war, Fighting Sun was Kirk’s project to help those disaffected. He may be a stubborn man, but he’s also a marvelous one.”

“Look, I understand,” Gavin said. “I understand that Kirk is a nice guy, but what does any of this have to do with what’s happening now?”

“I’m getting there,” Eva replied. “Lokke came offering his support, but it was all a ruse. He wrestled away control from Kirk and soon used Fighting Sun for his own desires. That was the start of the True Thekohnians.”

“It was?” Sorin asked. “What did my father do?”

“He tried to take back the group, but Lokke’s influence was too much,” Eva answered. “Due to his persuasiveness, Lokke was able to recruit members who only sought blood. Of course, there were those who saw the group as a philanthropic enterprise, but they were easily swayed. Those who saw the True Thekohnians for what they were, however, were executed.”

“That’s terrible,” Mina said. “To hide behind the claim of protecting the weak, only to do that? It’s unforgivable!”

“Anyway, I’m going to bring this to the present,” Eva said, “With Lokke walking free, I don’t doubt for a second he wants to use the conflict in Maeitakohn to fire up another war.”

“History repeating itself,” Gale said. “Lokke is depending on that.”

“Time’s running out,” Law said. “Ayanna, if you guys want to think up a good plan, now’s the time.”

“We need to speak to the prime minister,” Ayanna said. “Sadly, I don’t know if we’ll be able to meet him tonight.”

“That’s too bad, isn’t it?” Law asked. “Fuck, there was so much I wanted to do. Lokke and Wihll… it seems like they have us by the balls.”

“If they’re heading to Maeitakohn, we’re going to have to move,” Eva said. “Sorin, I’m sorry, but I guess you will have to come after all.”

“I thought that was the plan,” Sorin said.

“Please, Sorin,” Eva replied. “All the training I’ve taught you? It may be good, but you can’t expect to go out there swinging! You’d get yourself killed!”

Sorin turned his head down. “Is that what you think of me?”

“Look, I taught you all that I know,” she said, “But the truth is you’re only good enough to defend yourself. Fighting in a warzone is a different story!”

“Maybe you’re right,” he said.

“I am, but we need to take some risks considering the situation,” Eva said. “We will have to have some help, however.”

She eyed Gavin, and he eyed her back.

“What are you looking at me for?” Gavin asked.

“What do you think?” Eva asked back. “I’m asking for your help. You have a personal stake in this, do you not?”

Gavin turned away. “I know that,” he said.

“Then you know that you could use the help, too,” Eva said.

“If there’s one thing I know, bro, it’s that you don’t turn down a request from a beautiful woman,” Law said. “Then again, you really don’t appreciate beauty like I do.”

“Come on,” Mina said to Gavin, “We’re heroes and it’s obvious they are, too. This is the team-up we’re looking for!”

“Just what goes on in your head?” Gavin asked. “If it’s not food, then it’s some notion that we’re like heroes in a fable.”

“Aren’t you a gifted marksman?” Ayanna asked. “You’ve claimed that when we met. I would think that a talent like that would be a heroic feat.”

“You’re trying to feed my ego, aren’t you?”

“Maybe it’s time to prove it,” Ayanna said.

Gavin laughed. “You really want to know what true marksmanship is? Perhaps I will show you.”

“Oh, I believe you,” Ayanna replied, “But there’s still some doubters. Namely, that kid over there.”

She pointed over to Sorin, who in turn looked at Gavin.

“Sorin Wilk, do you doubt me?” Gavin asked. “Looks like you really want me to make a fool out of you!”

“I never said that!” Sorin said.

“You were talking to me about him earlier,” Ayanna said. “How you laughed when Gavin told you all about his favorite types of guns.”

“To think that an idiot like you would mock me!” Gavin exclaimed. “I will show you!”

“Sorin also said that you couldn’t beat Wihll in a fight,” Gale said.

“Oh, well now you’re just asking for me to show you up!” Gavin said. “We will go to Maeitakohn and once we meet Victor Wihll, I will show you, Sorin Wilk, that I can kick his ass!”

“So you’ll go with us, then?” Eva asked.

“If only to watch this jackass eat his words,” Gavin answered.

“Me too!” Mina said. “We will beat Wihll together!”

“Hold on,” Sorin said. “I never said any of that!”

“You can’t take it back now, Sorin Wilk!” Gavin said. “Wihll’s defeat will be the dawn of your humiliation!”

“Sorin,” Eva whispered, “Please take the hint.”

Sorin looked at her, then back to Gavin. “Okay…”

“Since you’re going to Maeitakohn, bro, maybe you could do something for me,” Law said. “I want you to have this.”

Law pulled out a small book from the breast pocket of his jacket. The cover was black leather and was quite thick. He handed it over to Gavin, who took one look at it and then looked back at Law.

“What the hell is this?”

“It’s my diary,” Law replied. “All the experiences I’ve written about this country are all in there. I keep it close to my heart.”

Gavin opened the book, turning a few pages until he made it to one particular page. “Today I met a girl named Mina,” he read. “She was pretty strong, but she also has quite a nice…”

He slammed the book shut and threw it back at Law.

“You call that a diary!?” Gavin yelled.

“Maybe you should have read the one about Ayanna instead,” Law said. “You would like it.”

“Like hell I would!”

“Well, can you just take it for me?” Law asked. “Maybe you could keep it close to your heart like I did.”

Gavin picked up the book again and skimmed through it. “Every page is about a woman,” he said. “Where’s the sights!?”

“You don’t think Mina’s a nice sight to behold?” Law asked. “I’m offended that you would think that about her.”

“Just shut up,” Gavin said. He tucked away the book in the inner breast pocket of his coat. “Mina, please pay him no attention when he spouts nonsense like that.”

“Like what?” Mina asked. “What was the nice thing he said about me?”

“I’d say it, but I’m afraid that my bro will break my other leg,” Law replied. “Maybe after everybody else leaves, I can show you.”

“Okay, I think that’s enough,” Ayanna said.

Just then, Gamil rushed in through the doors. He made it up to the group and stopped to catch his breath. He wiped his forehead and looked to Eva.

“Gamil, what’s wrong?” Eva asked.

Gamil panted. “It’s Belkley,” he said. “I… can’t find him… anywhere…”

Eva gasped. “What?”

“Ever since this morning I couldn’t find the guy,” Gamil said. “When the explosion broke out, I searched for him. Worried that he might’ve been caught in the blast…”

“No, this can’t be true,” Eva said. “When did you see him last? What did he say to you!?”

“We were at the hotel,” Gamil answered. “After we left you guys, Belkley told me he had to make a call. I went up to my room and assumed he just went up to his.”

“And you haven’t seen him?” Eva asked. “Answer me!”

“I told you, Eva,” he said, “He just didn’t show this morning.”

“Sounds familiar,” Gale said. “Both Kirk and Henry have gone missing, too.”

“Son of a bitch,” Gamil exclaimed, “I was wondering where Kirk was.”

“That’s not important right now,” Eva said, “I just want to know where Belkley is!”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Chapter 10 – Part 2

[2740 AD; Subdivision of Gel Heights – Nano District]

 

Law’s pursuit of Wihll carried him near the edge of Rezar, where many of the properties had been abandoned. Multiple condemned buildings lined the streets and not a single person was to be found. He had wondered to himself if he walked into a trap, but Mina had a different idea.

“He’s here, isn’t he?” Mina asked.

“This was the direction he ran off to,” Law said, “But it looks we’re at a dead end.”

Law tilted his head upward, the tall building standing before him. He estimated that it had to be at least five stories tall. If Victor Wihll was going to be here, then they would have to go in.

“Stay behind me,” Law told Mina.

They entered the building, parting the glass doors as they observed the lobby. From what Law could gather, it appeared to be an old condominium. He and Mina booked it up the stairs, jumping step by step as they flew past each floor. When they reached the top floor, a single door awaited them. Law looked to Mina, who nodded as Law opened the door. The bright sun took both of them by surprise, making them cover their eyes as they could see a figure in the distance.

“So it seems you both have a death wish,” Wihll said.

“You can’t intimidate us!” Mina shouted. “We’re going to defeat you!”

Wihll cackled. “It’s amazing the kinds of things the miseducated can say. To think that you’re the heroes… Just who are you fighting for, anyway?”

“I fight for those who can’t,” Mina replied, “For those who feel like they have no one to believe in, and for my friends!”

“Such a storybook answer,” Wihll said. “Yet, every time I hear it, I can’t help but laugh.”

“Let’s cut the crap, buddy,” Law interrupted. “You obviously planned this entire thing. I don’t want to know why, but I do want to know what your endgame is.”

“My endgame?” Wihll asked. “Fine, I may as well. My home country Maeitakohn is under attack by their president, Llewellyn Rhodes.”

“That’s nothing surprising,” Law said, “Anyone with the slightest bit of awareness knows that Rhodes has been murdering his own citizens.”

“Looks like you aren’t as dumb as you look,” Wihll said.

Law ran a hand through his hair. “Thanks.”

“All of these deaths may have been caused by Rhodes, but it was due to the efforts of Ameci and the rest of the Thekohnian Region that he was even elected in the first place!” Wihll exclaimed. “Why wouldn’t I want to have my revenge? Cutting their limbs is only right!”

“You’re horrible,” Mina said. “All you want to do is kill!”

“Let me ask you something, then,” Wihll said, “If a thief breaks into your house and steals your possessions, then decides to sell it back to you at double the price, what do you do?”

“That isn’t even the same thing!” Mina replied.

“Wrong!” Wihll said. “You deliver retribution onto them! Those who oppress must come to their end. Even you, someone who claims to fight for the weak, would agree with this, wouldn’t you?”

“So that’s what it is, Wihll?” Law asked. “I have to say, in some weird twist of fate, you might just be right.”

“Law, you can’t be serious!” Mina said.

“I’m not done,” Law said. “I think I’m beginning to understand where you’re coming from, but that still doesn’t excuse any of your actions.”

“What?” Wihll asked.

“I’m going to tell you a short story,” Law began, “A story about two brothers. They had parents who loved them very much, but the god of death had other plans.”

Law stepped forward, both Mina and Wihll still focused on him.

“Their dad was killed in the line of action,” he continued. “Mother, she was an ill woman. There was one thing she told the brothers, something that neither of them would ever forget: look out for each other, keep your heads up, and never forget to laugh.”

That was when Law chuckled. He rubbed his eye, even though he was not crying. He opened his eyes again and looked at Wihll.

“The older brother worked hard, harder than anyone thought,” Law said. “This was despite the fact that people would belittle them, even going as far to beat up the younger brother. He survived his injuries, be it by luck or something else, but that was when both of them knew they had to get stronger.”

“What are you getting at?” Wihll asked.

“I’m almost finished, Wihll,” Law replied. “Anyway, through their struggles, these brothers continued to fight. To overcome the odds, even when everybody else gave up on them. And you want to know their names?”

“I don’t care,” Wihll answered.

“Too bad,” Law said, “Because you’re looking at the younger brother right now. Here he is, standing right before you.”

“So what? You managed to tell me a story that clearly I don’t care about,” Wihll said. “What does that have to do with me?”

“Oh, well, the story doesn’t really have anything to do with you,” Law replied, “I just felt like telling it. What I do want to tell you is that while you may be right in some areas, you are dreadfully wrong in the most important area.”

“What is that?” Mina asked.

“When you become as bad as the one’s you claim to hate,” Law said. “You say you want to end the oppression in Maeitakohn? A lot of people would agree with you. However, you would find very few sympathizers to the True Thekohnians, given all that you’ve done today.”

“Do you think I care?” Wihll asked.

“Probably not,” Law said. “I know you won’t listen. That’s why Mina and I are going to stop you.”

“Yeah!” Mina said. “It’s two against one! You stand no chance, villain!”

Wihll laughed again. It started off as a howl but soon devolved into a shrill cackle that even set Law at unease. Then, Wihll took out his gun.

“I’ve entertained the both of you for too long,” he said. “I won’t let either of you leave this building alive.”

“Look out, Mina!” Law said.

He rushed towards Mina, tackling her out of the way as Wihll tried to shoot her. Law got up and faced Wihll, running towards him and grabbing his arm.

Wihll uttered a deep gasp. “You just don’t know when to lie down and die, do you!?”

Law moved Wihll’s hand upward, pointing his gun to the sky. “Mina! Quickly!”

Wihll shook Law off of him, dropping him to the floor. He kicked Law in the chest and turned back to Mina, who had already disarmed him.

“You’re not so tough without this!” Mina said, throwing the gun over the side of the building.

Wihll tried to reach for his knife, but found that it was not there. “Damn it! What happened to my knife!?”

Law coughed. “Getting careless, are we?”

“Shut up!” Wihll yelled at Law.

“You’re finished now,” Mina said. “The time has come for you to face the fists of good! Face Breaker!”

Wihll turned his head to Mina, but it was too late as she struck him in the face. He grabbed his nose, stumbling as Mina punched him again. This time, Wihll fell down on one knee, screaming and coughing.

“No, please, stop!” Wihll pleaded.

“You’ve hurt too many people!” Mina said. “And now, I’m going to show you why I’m your worst nightmare! Here’s my Heroic Jump Kick!”

She leapt up into the air, foot first as she kicked him in the head. Wihll was sent rolling into the side rail, which knocked him out cold. Mina stood still until she could tell that she was done. Then, she rushed over to Law’s side, as he was still clutching onto his chest.

“Are you okay, Law?” Mina asked, kneeling next to him.

“Tch… he kicks pretty hard,” Law said. “But it looks like you showed him…”

Their brief reunion was interrupted by a lone cough. Mina and Law looked over at Wihll, who got on his hands and knees as he coughed again, this time followed with a laugh. He laughed and coughed until he stood up again, wiping the blood away from his mouth.

“I have to say,” he said to Mina, “I would have never expected you to be quite a problem for me.”

“But you’re supposed to be KO’d,” Mina said.

“Consider yourself lucky,” Wihll said, inching closer to her, “You will be the last I kill today!”

Wihll delivered an underhanded punch to Mina’s stomach, sending her to her knees. She keeled over as Wihll picked up Law and went over to the edge of the building.

“You may have been able to disarm me,” Wihll said, “But I will always have the last laugh!”

“Mina!” Law called out to her.

Mina tried to stand up, by could not. “L-law…”

“It’s been nice knowing you!” Wihll exclaimed.

He threw Law over the edge, sending him falling to the ground below. Law screamed as he felt helpless. The deed was done, however, as Wihll focused back on Mina.

“I admire a good fighter,” he said. “Which is a shame that I have to end you.”

“End this!”

Rysol appeared on the top of the adjacent building, sword in hand, as he jumped down. He stood before Mina and faced Wihll. Rysol pointed his blade at the other man, who was taken aback.

“You’re here!?” Wihll asked. “That can’t be!”

Rysol grunted. “As long as the True Thekohnians exist… I will always be there,” he said. “You have nowhere… to run…”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Wihll said. “I always have a backup plan, even when it comes to dealing with you!”

Wihll rushed over to the next building and jumped over the gap. Rysol started to give chase, but stumbled as he grabbed his left arm. Mina crawled over to him and sat up.

“Law!” Mina remembered.

She sprung up and sprinted over to where Wihll tossed Law over. He was lying on the ground as Gavin arrived. Law looked to be alive, but was grabbing at his right leg. Mina turned back to the door and proceeded to run. She kept running until she met up with Gavin and Law.

“Mina!” Gavin yelled.

“Is Law okay!?” Mina asked.

Law started to laugh, but screamed in pain as he reached for his leg. “I’m fine,” he said.

“What are you doing, you idiot?” Gavin asked. “Let me set your leg while she gets help!”

“Okay, okay!” Mina said. “I’ll go call a medic!”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 10 – Part 1

[2740 AD; Macro Plaza in front of Iiayine Castle – Deca District]

 

Panic filled the streets as people ran throughout. The prime minister’s office had been bombed, with multiple people caught in the explosion. Ayanna led Alan away from the wreckage, while the Ahnlikohn soldiers helped Harring. Fercewend barked orders to his soldiers, telling them to find those responsible.

“Go, go, go!” Fercewend commanded. “You guys secure the area, while the rest of you work with the Iiayikohnians to find out who is behind this! That’s an order!”
“Rohan,” Tori said as she ran up to him, “Have you seen Henry?”

“I haven’t,” he replied. “Hold on, stay with me.”

They followed after Ayanna and Alan, looking for the safe point from the danger. Finally, they ended up at the small tent that was propped up for the prime minister’s protection.

“Has the area been secured?” Alan asked.

Fercewend nodded. “I can trust that you will be able to watch over Tori,” he said.

“Are you going out there?” Tori asked.

“I know it’s unconventional, but I cannot let this destruction happen while I’m around,” Fercewend replied. “My soldiers need me out there right now!”

He picked up a gun and sword and left the tent. Ayanna looked to both Tori and Alan, and followed Fercewend out of the tent with her weapons. She ran out, looking around until she found Gavin directing the last few people out of the area. Law and Mina were also there helping out. Ayanna sprinted up to them, making sure not to trip over any debris.

“Mr. Power,” Ayanna said to Gavin, “I have to thank you for your help.”

“You don’t have to thank me,” he said. “We can talk later after we take care of this.”

“Agreed,” Ayanna said. “Why are you two still out here?”

“I can’t just watch as this goes on,” Law replied.

“We’re going to help Gavin out!” Mina exclaimed. “If any of those True Thekohnians are around, I’m going to show them my new ‘Face Breaker’ move!”

“Well, most of them are going to have a weapon of sorts,” Law said. He grinned. “I don’t think they’re going to see what’s coming.”

“What are you three doing?” Gavin asked. “We have to move! Now!”

The four of them moved along, continuing to help the civilians out of the area. Most of them were already escorted out of the plaza, but there were some still hanging around. Ayanna and Gavin led the charge with Law and Mina not too far behind.

“Keep going!” Ayanna said.

They continued to run down the streets, away from the plaza. There were no more explosions, but the screams of other people still echoed throughout. Ayanna evacuated the people from the plaza with Gavin, away from the action. They both looked behind themselves to find that Law and Mina were nowhere to be seen.

Gavin stomped his foot. “Damn it!”

 

Law had turned back in pursuit of the True Thekohnians. He knew that despite this tragedy, this was his best possible moment to move forward. With the street cleared out, there was little stopping him from dashing towards his enemy.

“Why are we going back?” Mina asked, running right beside him.

Law stopped in his tracks. “Why are you here?”

“I saw you turn around,” she replied. “I thought that you forgot something.”

“No, Mina, I’ve got to do my job here!” Law said. “Although it looks like they’ve decided to greet me a little early.”

They looked ahead as some of the True Thekohnians in Iiayikohnian soldier uniforms stood over. Law counted eight of them, but he was sure that there were more to come unless he did something.

“What do you think we should do, Mina?”

“Why are you asking me?” Mina asked. “We kick their butts, of course!”

“I like the enthusiasm,” Law replied. “But we’re going to have to run first.”

“Why?”

“Just trust me,” he said.

Law and Mina headed into the nearby alleyway as the True Thekohnians pursued them. With the narrow path Law snapped back and eyed the trash can by his side.

“Let me just steal this for a second,” Law said, picking up the metal lid.

Mina backed up behind him as the first assailant charged at Law. Law waved the lid for a moment, and then swung it down onto the man’s head. The man dropped to his knees and rubbed his head, but Mina had other options.

“Take this!” Mina said, delivering the punch to the man’s face. He fell to the ground, knocked out cold from her devastating hit.

The next man yelled, thrusting his arm forward with knife in hand. Law moved to the side and grabbed the man’s arm. His arm locked as Law disarmed him and bashed him over the head with the same lid.

“Thanks for the gift,” Law said as the second man dropped.

He threw the knife at the next man to run in, hitting him in the eye. The third screamed and kneeled down while the fourth began to hesitate and ran away. Law knocked out the man with the wounded eye with a swift kick to the temple. The remaining four looked at one another, with two of them deciding to retreat while the other two stayed.

“Just you two left,” Law commented. “Now we can kick their butts, Mina.”

“You could have left a couple more of them,” Mina said. “But I’ll be glad to show these two my fists.”

She charged at the two remaining members, her fists flying as the two men were caught by surprise. Mina’s first punch hit the first remaining man, sending him flying backwards. The second remaining man was not as lucky as Mina delivered a barrage of punches to his face. He stopped to catch his breath, but Mina had other ideas. She grabbed him by his arm and flung him in the direction of the other man. The force of her throw knocked both of them out, collapsed over one another.

Mina slapped her forehead. “I forgot to say the names of my moves,” she said. “I knew there was something wrong!”

Law stepped out of the alleyway. “Seems like you did right to me,” he said. “Now, where the hell are the rest of them…”

It was then that he spotted Wihll moving down the street with Silvia in his grasp. Law stretched his arms and began to follow after him.

“Wait up!” Mina said.

The pounding footsteps Law produced were enough to catch Wihll’s attention. He turned around, with Silvia jerked around to the side. He saw Law stand before him, Mina right behind him, and cracked open a wide smile.

“Ah, I remember you,” Wihll said. “You swooped in to save that worthless woman the other night. Why does that sound so familiar to me?”

“Law!” Silvia said.

“You mind explaining me what this was for?” Law asked. “Your boys didn’t do a very good job of telling us.”

“Why should I tell anything to some inferior Ameci?” Wihll asked.

“I don’t think I’ve told you anything about me,” Law said. “How would you know that I am Ameci?”

“Call it a hunch,” Wihll replied. “It’s a shame that Ansa isn’t here, especially with this girl here.”

“Certainly a candidate for gentleman of the year,” Law mocked.

“Like I give a shit about your thoughts,” Wihll said, throwing Silvia aside. “I have no use for dead weight at this point, especially when it interferes with my mission.”

Mina growled as her fists shook. “Coward! You caused destruction in my home,” she said, “You are the worst of all villains!”

“I was wondering when you were going to speak up,” Wihll said. “But it seems that you’re sorely mistaken. This is not the work of a villain, but the foundation for a new dawn!”

“Shut up!” Mina said. She stepped closer towards Wihll.

“Go ahead and come at me,” Wihll said. “But if you do, just know that it’ll be her blood on your hands, girl.”

Wihll took his pistol out and pointed it at Silvia. She lay there, frozen on the ground as Mina locked up as well. Laughter erupted from Wihll’s mouth as he withdrew his gun.

“Ah, that’s what I thought,” he said. “You’re just another hypocrite.”

“You’re really going to leave, aren’t you?” Law asked. “That’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it?”

“I already told you I have no time for inferior people like you,” Wihll said. “Besides, I don’t need this woman for my next move. If you really want her so bad, be my guest.”

“Wait, I can’t stay here!” Silvia said.

“Until next time,” Wihll said, “Is what I’d say if I cared about you two, but I don’t intend on coming back here for a while.”

Wihll departed, running away from Law and Mina. Silvia dropped her face into her hands as Ayanna and Gavin arrived.

“Lawrence, would you explain to me the meaning of this?” Gavin asked.

Law rolled his eyes. “Seems like you’re out of the loop,” he said. “Perhaps Mina can tell you.”

“You’re not going anywhere!” Gavin said.

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” Law said. “After what that blond man said, I was going to pursue him.”

“What did Wihll say?” Ayanna asked. She soon spotted Silvia on the ground. “Silvia!”

Silvia looked up at Ayanna, tears in her eyes. “Ayanna…”

“Seems I don’t know what goes on in that man’s head,” Law said. “Looks like we’re fortunate enough to have a reunion, though.”

Ayanna held Silvia close to her, the redhead resting her head on Ayanna’s shoulder. “Do you know where Wihll is going?”

“He didn’t tell me,” Silvia replied.

“I have an idea,” Law said. “Ayanna, take Silvia with you. Mina, try to keep up.”

Law made his way after Wihll as Mina ran with him. Ayanna and Silvia stood up and headed back towards the direction of the safe point in the Deca District. Soon, a group of Iiayikohnian soldiers arrived to apprehend some of the remaining True Thekohnians laying on the ground. As they did, an exhausted Gavin arrived to see that he was already too late.

 

[2740 AD; The Markets of the Deci District]

 

After the scatter, Sorin, Gale, and Eva were searching for Kirk in the back street of the markets. It was uncertain whether or not he would be here, but the three of them had to find out. Kirk had been missing ever since the explosions went off, something that had baffled Sorin.

“You think that he’d be easy to spot,” Eva said. “Just what are you doing, Kirk?”

“It’s surprisingly safe here,” Gale said.

“It looks like most of the commotion has died down, fortunately,” Eva said. “Many of these True Thekohnians have either been arrested or they’ve already left.”

“Are we not concerned about that?” Sorin asked.

“We can’t do much about it,” Eva replied. “I’m just hoping that Alan is safe.”

They moved through the empty market, with no sight or sound of Kirk present. Sorin moved out of the markets and onto the street, and that was when he saw him. His back facing Sorin, the man with long black hair was face to face with a member of the Iiayikohnian army.

“Father?” Sorin asked.

The man drew a long blade with what looked to be a set of saw teeth in the middle. He screamed as he rushed the soldier, who stood unable to move. With a deft swing of the sword, the man cut the soldier down to the floor.

“Sorin, what are you doing?” Eva asked, arriving by his side. “Gale, stand back!”

Gale stood on the sidewalk as the man turned around. Despite his poise, it became obvious to both Sorin and Eva that he was not Kirk. His long hair and an unkempt beard covered his face, while gloves were on his hands. He took one look at Sorin and dropped down to his knee. A rattling wail emitted from him as he clutched his head with his free hand.

“I’ve seen him before,” Eva said. “I just know it.”

The man pulled at his hair. “Go away! I… You don’t…!”

Sorin took out his sword and positioned himself. “Who are you?”

“You… The swordsman,” the man said. “I… I’m the… end…”

“The end?” Sorin asked.

“Kirk… He’s been looking…”

“How do you know my father?”

“You’re… Sorin? No! That’s impossible!”

The man raised his sword. Sorin was uncertain what he was going to do next.

“Look out!” Eva exclaimed.

She moved in front of Sorin, taking out her sword and defending the oncoming assault from the long haired man. He backed off as both Eva and Sorin put up their guards.

“I’ll ask again,” Sorin repeated, “Who are you?”

“…sol… Rysol…”

“No way,” Sorin said.

“Sorin, you don’t believe him, do you?” Gale asked.

“How should I know?” Sorin asked. “I want to know for myself.”

“Believe me… if you want,” Rysol said. “Just know that this is the end…”

“Take this!”

Eva swung her sword at Rysol again, but this time he blocked it with his hand. She tried to move her sword, but he had a good handle on it as he attempted to strike with his sword. Sorin was quick to defend Eva this time, blocking Rysol’s attack.

“I don’t want to fight you!” Sorin said. “Please, put down your sword!”

Rysol gritted his teeth. He let go of Eva’s blade and backed off, withdrawing his sword in the process. Sorin withdrew his own sword, too, as did Eva.

“Have you seen him?” Sorin asked.

“I don’t know… who you’re talking about,” Rysol said.

“Why did you decide to stop attacking us?” Eva asked.

“Gah! Stop asking…!” Rysol exclaimed. “I can’t be here! Not when… they’ll kill everyone…”

“Just tell me one thing,” Sorin said, “You really haven’t seen… my father?”

“No… I have not seen him,” Rysol said. “I have to stop them… The True Thekohnians…”

With that, Rysol turned around and left. His exit left Sorin, Gale, and Eva with more questions than answers. They had no time to react, though, as Ameci soldiers moved through the markets.

“Let’s go, you two,” Eva said. “We have to go back!”

 

[2740 AD; Macro Plaza – Deca District – Safe Point Tent]

 

“You do realize that what you’ve done is unforgivable,” Ayanna said.

“I know,” Silvia replied. “I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

Ayanna sat opposite of Silvia at the small table, while Alan and Tori watched. Outside, things appeared to be calming down as the plaza was secured. Still, the True Thekohnians has made their presence known.

“Start at the beginning,” Ayanna said. “Why did you join them?”

“Because I didn’t know,” Silvia replied. “I heard all of the rumors, but when I joined, they said they wanted to change this world.”

“What do you know about their leader?” Alan asked.

“I’ve never met them,” Silvia said.

Alan groaned. “This is unfortunate,” he said. “Major Ansa, have other members been taken in yet?”

“From what I’ve heard, yes,” Ayanna answered. “We’ll have many more to question after this.”

“I’m going to make this blunt,” Alan said, “I don’t think that Miss Roeik is very reliable. There may be a past connection between you two, but we need to work fast.”

“I’m aware, prime minister,” Ayanna said. “Silvia, I can’t do my job if you don’t tell us information we need to know. Please, if there’s anything, share it with us.”

Silvia sighed. “There is one thing,” she said. “It has to do with Lokke.”

Alan leaned in. “Explain.”

“He and Wihll were talking a couple days ago,” she said. “They said they had a plan that was the be all, end all of the True Thekohnians mission.”

“Surely this can’t be their plan,” Alan said. “Ansa, ask her how Lokke was able to communicate with Wihll.”

“He broke out,” Silvia said, “Or rather, someone helped him out.”

“Who?” Alan asked. “Answer me now, damn it!”

Silvia shook her head. “I can’t answer something I don’t know,” she said. “If I had to guess, maybe it was the leader. They would have to have some influence to help break Lokke out without it being an incident.”

“Alan, maybe we should think about it differently,” Tori said.

“What do you mean?” Alan asked.

“We’re going nowhere with this line of questioning,” Ayanna said. “Let me ask this, then: do you know what they’re planning for Maeitakohn, Silvia?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. Then, she gasped. “This was the distraction! Wihll orchestrated this attack to cause a distraction away from Maeitakohn!”

“I figured as much,” Alan said, “But it seems like they wanted to have us running around while they planned their next move.”

As he finished, in walked Fercewend with Gale, Sorin, and Eva. They were all tired from running and took seats in the tent.

“This has become quite a crowd, it seems,” Alan said. “You certainly arrived at the right time, haven’t you?”

“Did I miss anything?” Fercewend asked.

“I can help you catch up, Rohan,” Tori said.

“Thank you. The area is safe now,” Fercewend said. “Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the people that were caught in the blast.”

“Let’s move this conversation to the embassy, then,” Alan said. “It’ll beat sitting here in this tent.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” Fercewend said. “Let’s go, everyone.”

 

To be continued…

 

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Chapter 9 – Part 3

[2740 AD; Macro Plaza in front of Iiayine Castle – Deca District]

 

The morning sun shined as security was lined up from side to side, citizens gathering in the plaza to watch the speeches that would be given today. Kirk’s group arrived early, running into Gavin, Law, and Mina who were already there.

“Why are you out here?” Sorin asked Gavin. “Shouldn’t you be with the Ameci army?”

“I suppose you of all people wouldn’t understand,” Gavin replied. “I do things my way. Besides, being here would be advantageous.”

Law tilted his head towards Sorin. “All these soldiers, you honestly don’t think that there’ll be at least one assassination attempt?”

“I’m sorry,” Gavin said. “None of you had the chance to meet. As much as it pains me to say it, that’s my brother.”

“You’re Lawrence?” Gale asked.

“Well, last time I checked,” Law replied. He gazed into Gale’s eyes for a split second. “It’s nice to meet you, but I would suggest waiting a couple more years before we can do anything serious.”

Gavin raised his hand and brought it down, slapping the back of Law’s head. “Show some restraint for once!”

“I am, bro,” Law said. “I was letting this girl down gently.”

“It’s Gale,” she said. “And I’m 18…”

“18, huh?” Law asked. “If we’re doing the math, one and eight make nine. Nine flipped over is six, which happens to be my lucky number. Do you want to know why, Gale?”

“Don’t answer that, Gale,” Gavin said. “You will only want to hit him afterwards.”

“Okay,” she said.

Law shook his head. “You really know how to piss on my fun, don’t you?”

“Anyway, perhaps it’s my turn,” Sorin said. He put on a smile and his hand forward. “I’m Sorin… That’s my father Kirk and his friend Eva.”

“Sonny and Kurt, is it?” Law asked. “Well, it doesn’t matter. I want to know her story.”

Eva pointed at herself. “Me?”

“You seem so elegant, even though you don’t dress that way,” Law said. “And there is certainly a story behind that eyepatch. Maybe after the speech you can tell me while we walk in the park.”

Eva looked over at Kirk, as Kirk just scratched his head. “Sorry to disappoint you, young man, but no,” she said.

“If it’s Kurt there, I can take him,” he replied.

“Can you hit him again, Gavin?” Kirk asked. “At least until he starts calling me by my name.”

Gavin cracked his knuckles. “My pleasure.”

“Bro, wait!” Law said. Gavin’s hand hung in the air as Law started to laugh.

“They certainly are brothers, aren’t they, Sorin?” Gale asked.

“It really seems like it,” Sorin said.

Gale then frowned and sighed. “I just got what Lawrence meant by his lucky number,” she said.

“What did he mean?” Sorin asked.

“You don’t know?” Gale asked.

“I’m not really a numbers guy,” he replied.

“Maybe I’ll show you later,” she said, and then muttered to herself, “Although I guess I’d be learning, too.”

“You two!” Gavin said. “Are you going to just have a conversation to yourselves?”

“Why not?” Gale asked.

“Maybe because I’m not done introducing people yet,” he answered. He turned to Mina.

Mina smiled. “You didn’t forget me!”

“Unlike loverboy over there, I actually try to remember people,” Gavin said. “Go on, introduce yourself!”

“Okay! Hi, my name’s Mina,” she said with a giggle. “I’m this city’s hero and every villain’s worst nightmare!”

Sorin shook her hand and was surprised by how much force she had put into her handshake. “N-nice meeting you, Mina,” he said. “Go easy with Gale, okay?”

Gale waved her hand at Mina. “Hello,” she said. “You actually fight bad guys?”

“Of course!” Mina replied, fists clenched. “I even beat Law here!”

“How many times do I have to say it? That was a draw,” Law said. “And you even said it yourself: I’m not a villain!”

“Then maybe you would like to have a rematch?” Mina asked.

“Oh no, I can’t possibly do that,” Law said.

“Are you scared?” Mina asked. “I thought that you were fearless because you believed in luck.”

Law scoffed. “I can’t just make my luck work like it’s an on/off switch,” he said. “Certainly not when it comes to the ladies.”

“Wow, that’s the first thing you’ve said all day that’s made sense,” Kirk remarked.

“Are you speaking to me, Kurt?” Law asked. “I didn’t expect you to be the one dropping the dry wit.”

“Oh no, I was just giving you a compliment,” Kirk insisted.

“That’s too bad for you, then,” Law said. “If Eva there had said what you said, I would already be on one knee.”

“And I would tell you ‘no’ yet again,” Eva said. “Learn to take a rejection when you see it.”

“Oof, clipping the wings before the bird gets fly,” Law said.

“Drop it,” Gavin demanded.

“Fine,” Law said. “I guess I’ll shut up.”

Law wandered off to the side, leaving Gavin to turn back to the rest of the group. Many more people arrived into the plaza as the Ahnlikohnian soldiers made their way to the stage.

“Looks like things are about to go underway,” Gavin said.

“Maybe I can talk to Alan,” Kirk said.

“Good luck with that,” Gavin said. “I spoke with major Ansa before you got here and she said that he’s under maximum security right now.”

“I’m certain that he’d be okay if I talked to him before the speech,” Kirk replied. He moved up into the crowd, excusing his way through the groups of people that were forming.

“What are you doing!?” Eva asked. “You can’t be serious!”

It was too late, though, as Kirk soon was closing in on the stage.

“You stubborn man,” she growled. “Sometimes it’s like you just want me to be angry at you.”

“Is he going to be okay?” Sorin asked.

“They’ll probably just kick him out,” Gavin replied.

“Why would he go by himself, though?” Gale asked. “I thought that we were all in this together…”

Before anyone could answer, the sound of microphone feedback filled the air. It was time. The Chancellor of Ahnlikohn had taken the stage, making his way up to the podium. The big moment was about to begin.

 

Up on stage the chancellor spoke with a calm, reassuring tone to the people of Iiayikohn. Fercewend and Alan watched with Henry and Tori as the chancellor began to wind down his speech.

“Harring knows how to put people at ease, doesn’t he,” Fercewend said.

“It works with his people,” Alan said. “Why not go with what works?”

Fercewend chuckled. “I have to admit that I am shaking,” he said. “I’ve spoken before my men many times, but I’ve never had to address an entire country before.”

“Consider it a learning experience, Rohan,” Alan replied. “I have no doubt that you’d make a good leader some day.”

“To hear you say that is an honor,” Fercewend said. “Though perhaps you are just trying to reassure me.”

“Rohan, you know I would never tell a lie,” he said. “I know that Henry can attest to that.”

Henry nodded. “I’m surprised to even be here,” he said. “It takes a lot of leadership to do that.”

“I agree,” Tori said.

“Well, I guess if you’re all saying it, it must be true,” Fercewend said as a roaring applause broke out. “Looks like I’m up next.”

“Good luck,” Henry said.

“Thanks, Henry.”

Fercewend approached the podium, grabbing both sides as he looked at the mass of people standing before him. They applauded him as he thanked them for being there. As the applause began to die down, Fercewend cleared his throat and began to speak.

“A great man once said to me: ‘In the times of darkness, that is when the sun burns the hardest.’ That man happened to be my mentor, Albert Atlas,” he said. “Currently, we are in a similar moment with Maeitakohn…”

 

Wihll placed the last bomb at the base of the interior, wiping his forehead as he watched outside the window. Fercewend’s speech appeared to be coming to a close as cheers were muffled by the glass.

“Our glory will be realized soon enough,” he said. “Silvia, what the hell do you think you’re doing!?”

Silvia looked out of the window. “We’re doing the right thing…”

“Are you listening to me?” Wihll asked, grabbing her by the wrist.

“Let me go!”

“I know a traitor when I see one,” he said. “Do you know what happened to the last person to betray me?”

“I… don’t know,” she answered.

“I put a knife in his back!” Wihll exclaimed. “That is, if I see him again, but you’re welcome to be his replacement if you want…”

“No, don’t,” she uttered. “I’ll do what you say.”

“Do you think I buy that bullshit? I know you’re going to try something funny, so I’m not going to let you go.”

Silvia walked with Wihll as they proceeded to leave the building, the bombs ready to go off. What was going to happen next, Wihll was sure that no one was going to forget it.

 

“People of Iiayikohn,” Alan began, “I speak to you today because as the prime minister, I am the extension of yourselves. You all are the reason why I stand here right now, speaking to you.”

Henry clapped his hands as he spotted Kirk moving through the crowd. He appeared to be in a chase, so Henry scanned the crowd as he saw the person that was being chased. It was then that Henry realized who the gray and brown haired man was and leaned forward, ready to leap out of his seat.

“The path to Maeitakohn and it’s prosperity is a tough one,” Alan said, “But as a united front, all of us, be it Iiayikohnian, Ameci, Ahnlikohnian, Maeitakohnian, or any of the other countries in the Thekohnian Region, will stand together regardless of who is threatening us!”

Cheers erupted as flashes of light filled the air. Glass began to break as explosions boomed throughout. The cheers soon turned to awe, and then to screams as people began to realize what was happening.

“The prime minister!” Ayanna exclaimed.

She rushed to the stage and met with Alan. A couple of other Iiayikohnian soldiers were there, too, and helped escort him, Fercewend and Harring out of the area. Tori started to look around, but Henry was nowhere to be seen. Gunshots rang out as Gavin tried to direct the people away from the scene. Eva yelled to Sorin and Gale, while Law and Mina moved along with Gavin. Despite everyone’s efforts, however, it was clear that the damage was already done. Chaos filled the streets as the True Thekohnians got what they wanted.

 

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Chapter 9 – Part 2

Fercewend sat across from Henry and Tori in the Questioning Hall, his presence hard to ignore. They had been talking for the past two hours, most of it just small talk. Rohan had even offered water to the both of them, to which Tori accepted while Henry declined. They all knew that there was unresolved tension, however, which Tori attempted to tackle.

“So,” she said, “Has anything changed, Rohan?”

“Like what?” Fercewend asked.

“About Henry’s… accusation,” Tori said.

“Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?” Fercewend asked Henry.

“Henry?”

“It wasn’t the first thing I was thinking of,” Henry replied, “But yes, I wanted to state my case.”

“You should have said so in the first place!” Fercewend said. “There isn’t a day where I think about what happened that day. Every young recruit I’ve spoken to has cited you as their influence, and your work has not gone unnoticed.”

“Then you should be able to do something, shouldn’t you?” Tori asked.

“You know it’s extremely complicated, right?” Fercewend asked back. “We are talking about national secrets here. Somebody had to have leaked them to the True Thekohnians.”

“At that time, I was planning to marry Tori,” Henry said. “Especially after what she told me the night before.”

“What did you tell him, Tori?”

“That I was pregnant with his children,” she replied.

“That’s it?” Fercewend asked. “I was worried that it would be something more sinister. Glad to see that isn’t the case.”

“Anyway, you would say that would be an acceptable alibi, wouldn’t you Rohan?” Tori asked. “I just can’t stand to see this going on for any longer.”

“A bit too much information for me, but I suppose it is good enough,” Fercewend replied. “I will file a report to the president about it and hopefully we can put this entire thing behind us.”

“That’s great to hear,” Tori said. “Henry, do you hear that? We did it!”

“I wish I could say I did, but it was your idea,” he said.

“It does not matter now,” Fercewend said. “What does matter is that I can start helping you get back into the military. It’s been a long time, commander Randolph.”

“Don’t you think that you’re being too careless, Rohan?” Isaac asked.

Isaac walked into the room with Gavin right behind him. Fercewend turned and greeted his cousin while Tori and Henry watched.

“I appreciate the hello, Rohan,” Isaac said, “But what I don’t appreciate is the fact that you’re so willing to throw away a serious case under such flimsy pretenses.”

“Listen, Isaac, we both know that there wasn’t much in the original accusation,” Fercewend said.

“And you’re willing to accept Mr. Randolph’s excuse, even when there isn’t any evidence to suggest that he is innocent?” Isaac asked. “I expected better of you, Rohan Fercewend.”

“I wonder why you feel so strongly about Henry, Isaac,” Fercewend said. “Was it not you who declined to join the military? Was it not you who, afterward, wanted to become chief strategist?”

“Hold your tongue, Rohan.”

“I’m not finished,” Fercewend said. “I’ve entertained you for as long as I could, but now is where I put my foot down.”

Isaac laughed. “So I suppose that this is where you tell me that you have the final say,” he said. “Fine by me. You win.”

“That’s it?” Gavin asked.

“He’s the general, after all,” Isaac said. “You would know first hand, wouldn’t you, soldier?”

Gavin didn’t answer.

“You don’t have to look so sullen, my boy!” Isaac said as he patted Gavin on the back. “Well, I’m going to go now. Business calls, you know?”

“I will see you later, Isaac,” Fercewend said.

“Goodbye,” Isaac said.

With that, Isaac Kunigunde left the Questioning Hall. Gavin stood around for a brief moment until he decided to leave too.

“Now that that’s out of the way,” Fercewend said, “Perhaps you two would want to have dinner? It’ll be my treat.”

“We’d love to,” Tori said.

“Yeah, it wouldn’t be too bad at this point,” Henry added. “I could use after that trip.”

“Then we should go,” Fercewend replied. “I know of a good restaurant around here.”

 

[2740 AD; Number One Bakery in Rezar – Deca District]

 

What had happened before happened again. Law and Ayanna could only watch as Mina began tearing through her meals: a large pizza and whole roasted chicken. She was about halfway through the chicken when she looked up at Law and Ayanna.

“Is something wrong?” Mina asked.

“How… how do you even manage to do that?” Ayanna asked. “With your figure, how do you…?”

“Oh! That’s easy,” Mina said, “I just have tons of fighting spirit!”

“I’m just writing it off as one of the wonders of this world,” Law concluded, “The bottomless pit that is Mina’s stomach.”

“Of all the things I have seen, this is probably the most staggering,” Ayanna said. “I think I’ll elect to eat my food later.”

Gavin stood outside the restaurant and saw the three through the window. He appeared to scream and hurried inside, stumbling his way to the table. He stopped just short of Law, who eyed the exhausted man before him.

“Guess who decided to show up,” Law said. “I’ll give you two ladies three guesses.”

“Weren’t you going to look for the Ameci general?” Ayanna asked.

“Things happened,” Gavin replied. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

“You’d rather not talk?” Law asked. “That’s a first. What is this, a joke?”

Gavin took a seat next to Law. “You want a joke? I’ll give you a joke.”

“This should be good,” Law said.

“Do you know why I am always in top shape?” Gavin asked. Law chuckled to himself. “Because I always Power walk!”

The silence around the table was all Gavin needed to know. He hung his head in shame, as if he had just realized what he had just said. Mina continued to eat as Law burst out laughing.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Law uttered between laughs, “But you really… really shouldn’t quit your day job!”

“I really should get a box for this,” Ayanna said, eyeing her half-finished food. “Where is the waiter?”

“Maybe it is for the best,” Law said. “After all, if that joke were truly funny, Mina would most likely be choking on her food right about now. You just saved her life, bro!”

“Fuck you,” Gavin said.

Law shrugged. “Man, I was only trying to bring the mood around this table up after that let down of a joke.”

“Excuse me,” Ayanna said to the waiter passing by, “Can I have a box, please?”

The waiter nodded and went off the retrieve a box.

“Okay, so anyway, why are you here?” Law asked. “Seriously, I mean.”

“I want to know why you left,” Gavin answered. “You are the only family I have now. Just tell me… please?”

“Man, you honestly could have just written me that letter,” Law said. “Then again, you did come all the way to see me. I do appreciate that.”

“The general said that you went AWOL,” Gavin said. “Do you have any idea what that even means?”

“I know,” Law replied. “If I go back, I’d be committing suicide.”

“Why would you abandon your post?” Ayanna asked.

“Trust me, it wasn’t something I did on a whim,” Law said, “But if you knew what I knew, you would understand.”

Gavin pounded the table. “What’s understandable about desertion!?”

“Gavin, you and I both know what is was like growing up,” he said. “Dead parents… All the mockery we faced… You even had to work three jobs just to hold the roof up over our heads each night.”

“Do you think that excuses what you did?” Gavin asked.

“Of course it doesn’t,” Law replied. “I had no choice, though. I had to pull that trigger, because if I didn’t my luck would have run out.”

“You honestly expect me to believe that crap?”

“I don’t expect you to,” Law said. “I just expected you to listen to what I had to say.”

“Well, I did,” Gavin said, “And I’m just as confused as before.”

“I expected that from you as well,” Law responded. “Are you almost finished there, Mina?”

“Just a little more to go!”

“Good,” he said. “Gavin, look, I know you don’t understand. I get that. Maybe nothing I say will make you do, but I know that I will always support you.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Gavin said, “But I still want to know why you decided to leave.”

“Here’s your box, ma’am,” the waiter said to Ayanna.

“Thank you,” Ayanna replied. “Maybe you should tell him, Law. He’s your family; he deserves to know why, at least.”

“Well, I almost never turn down a request from a pretty woman,” Law said. “Where should I start? Ah, I know…”

Law leaned forward, hands clasped together as he eyed the rest of the table. Gavin prepared himself for what Law said, as did Ayanna.

 

[2740 AD; Executive Hotel – Deca District]

 

Fercewend’s recommendation of the restaurant at Rezar’s Executive Hotel was a delight to Henry. The bright lights and calming music that was being played by the local pianist was welcoming as Henry and Tori took their seats at the table. Again they sat across from Fercewend, but this time it was for a casual dinner between friends instead of supposed enemies.

“How did you like your food, Henry?” Fercewend asked.

“It was good,” he replied.

“Yes, thank you, Rohan,” Tori said.

“You two don’t need to thank me,” Fercewend responded. “This is what friends do, after all?”

“I mean, hasn’t it been eating at you?” Henry asked. “I’ve wasted ten years of my life because of it…”

“Henry, you’re speaking not with Fercewend the general,” he said, “You are speaking with your friend and colleague, Rohan. Tonight’s a night where we can drop the formalities, wouldn’t you agree?”

Henry closed his eyes and gulped. “I agree.”

“That is what I want to hear,” Fercewend said. “Now I know tomorrow I have a speech, but I would love to have you and Tori there watching.”

“Is that okay?” Henry asked. “Are you sure you wouldn’t get in any trouble?”

“I will speak to Alan, but I am sure he would be okay with it.”

“What will you be talking about?” Tori asked. “It seems that I’m in the dark about what is truly happening here.”

“As much as I would love to, I have to refrain from speaking about it,” Fercewend said.  “There was an incident a couple of days ago, and security has been tight ever since.”

He explained about what Alan had told him about the attack on the office a few days prior. Fercewend also mentioned the attacks that have happened in other areas, too.

“I had no idea,” Tori said.

“The True Thekohnians… they really have gotten ruthless, haven’t they?” Henry asked. “Been a real long time since I’ve heard about them, Rohan.”

“It always was quite infuriating to have to deal with them,” Fercewend said. “To think that they’ve been running around causing havoc…”

“Let me guess,” Henry said, “Part of Alan’s speech has to do with them, doesn’t it?”

“Part of it,” Fercewend replied.

“Do you think the True Thekohnians might try to attack during the speech tomorrow?” Tori asked.

“There is a possibility,” Fercewend replied, “But I’ve spoken with Alan and major Ansa.”

“It seems like they’ve got things under control, haven’t they?” Henry asked.

“Indeed,” Fercewend said.

“Anyway, Rohan, I was wondering about something else,” Tori said. “It’s about Henry… Do you know Kirk Wilk?”

“Kirk?”

“Yes,” she said. “We ran into him a few days ago.”

“It was a while since I saw him last,” Fercewend said. “He seemed to be in good spirits. What about him?”

“Well, Henry wouldn’t tell me, so I was wondering if you knew why Kirk doesn’t like him.”

“I did not know this,” Fercewend said. “I thought that you and Kirk were friends, Henry.”

“Something happened,” Henry replied. “Something happened and now we are not on the same level any more. I can’t exactly blame Kirk for hating me.”

“You know that you can tell me, right?” Fercewend asked.

Henry let out a tired sigh. “I suppose I can,” he said. “You remember what happened when we first met Tori, right?”

“I do,” Fercewend answered.

“I never thought I’d have to hear this again,” Tori said.

“Which was why I wanted to avoid talking about it,” Henry explained. “When we were attacked on the way to Rusa Manor, there was another that knew of our route.”

Fercewend rested his hands on the table. “A third party?”

“Kirk was with us earlier that day,” Henry said. “We were going to meet up with him after the delivery, but we both know what happened next.”

“They say that one becomes desensitized to death after being in war,” Fercewend said, “But I can’t just forget that easily. Even now as a proud general, I still dream about what happened.”

“It haunts me, too,” Henry replied. “Anyway, after the mission, Kirk and I… we were talking when we learned about that man’s betrayal. You know who I’m talking about, right?”

“To think that Walton Lokke had been playing both Ameci and Iiayi forces the whole time,” Fercewend said. “Fortunately, that man is rotting away in prison as we speak.”

“I’m glad, too,” Henry said. “However, Kirk felt as if I had something to do with it and to be honest I think he might be right.”

“No one could have expected Lokke to turn on us,” Fercewend said. “How could Kirk believe you to be responsible?”

“Perhaps I was careless,” Henry replied. “Maybe I had trusted Lokke with too much, even with the Ameci army’s delivery routes.”

“It was a mistake,” Fercewend said. “An awful mistake that many of us have been trying to pay off for years now. I do not understand why it is you that he chooses to harbor a grudge with.”

“Maybe he believe you really did commit treason,” Tori said.

“That wouldn’t be out of the question,” Henry said, “But this is Kirk Wilk we’re talking about.”

“Looks like we’ll have to speak with him later,” Fercewend said. He eyed the clock at the right. “It looks like we’ll have to head to sleep soon. I’ll be sure to get you two a room.”

Tori clapped her hands together. “That’s great to hear!”

“I know,” Fercewend said, “So let’s go now.”

 

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