Chapter 18 – Part 2 (BOOK ONE FINALE)

[2740 AD; Executive Hotel – Ballroom Number One]

 

The place was filled with many members of the Iiayikohnian military as Ayanna’s celebration kicked off. Along with the military, Ayanna’s family was there was well. Sorin and Gale entered the ballroom as they watched the two young twin Ansa brothers ran past them.

An older man yelled at the two children. “Get back here!”

He bumped into Sorin, who was distracted by the lights and music.

“Sorry,” Sorin said.

“Ah, you’ve got nothing to be sorry about,” the man said. “Wait, ain’t you that Ameci soldier Ayanna’s been talking about?”

“Who, me?” Sorin asked.

“Yeah,” the man replied. “That soldier… what did she say his name was? Kevin? I have to apologize, boy, my memory ain’t the best around.”

“No worries,” Sorin said. “Also, it’s Gavin, and no, I am not him.”

“Well, Ayanna did mention a couple of other young men,” the man said. “Are you Steven?”

“Sorin,” Gale said.

The old man laughed. “That’s some name,” he said. “In case you haven’t found out, I’m Ayanna’s papa: Thabo Ansa!”

Sorin shook Thabo’s hand, as did Gale. “Nice to meet you, sir,” Sorin said.

“Gale Kunigunde,” she said.

“So what’s got you coming here?” Thabo asked.

Gale explained to Thabo about how they were invited by Mina. “She was insistent about it,” Gale said, “And we kind of wanted to come, too.”

“So it was that Mina girl who invited you,” Thabo said. “That girl, I tell you… She can really put it away!”

He laughed as Sorin tried to join in. “Yeah, it really does seem that way,” Sorin said.

“A big surprise coming out of a girl like her,” Thabo said. “That Mina, she makes other ladies jealous by how fit she is!”

“I think we get it, Mr. Ansa,” Gale said. “Have you seen Ayanna, by the way? We’d like to congratulate her.”

“She’s just out on the balcony,” he replied. “Apparently some guy wearing a fancy hat and crutches just came up to her and started yakking to her.”

“Sounds like Law,” Sorin said. “Thank you, sir.”

“No problem, Sorin!” Thabo replied. “I’m about to head back to my lady Amira, so if you ever want to talk to me again, let me know!”

Gale nodded. “We’ll let you know,” she said. “Shall we, Sorin?”

“Okay,” he said.

They moved past the tables and towards the balcony where Ayanna was listening to one of Law’s tales. He had already taken a seat by the railing while Ayanna stood next to him. While Law wore a gray suit, Ayanna wore a green dress.

“Well, Ayanna, that’s how I ended up winning that game of chess,” Law concluded. “Of course, I managed to get punched in the face afterwards, but it was worth it.”

“I really don’t know what I expected,” Ayanna said. “As for myself, I think I’m going to head back inside…”

She then spotted Gale and Sorin standing by the door.

“It looks like Mina was able to convince you,” Ayanna said. “I’m glad. How are you two?”

“I’m doing well,” Sorin replied.

“Same here,” Gale said.

“Have you met Gavin already?” Ayanna asked.

“We haven’t,” Gale replied, “However, we did meet your father. He was pretty nice to us.”

“Oh, you have, have you?” Ayanna said. “I can only imagine how he managed to mangle your name.”

“I didn’t mind,” Sorin said.

Law chuckled. “That old man gave me a hell of a pat on the back,” he said. “I thought I was about to check into the hospital again! Ayanna, you should really tell your father not to rough me up, because I’m really delicate.”

“You were lucky enough,” Ayanna said. “I don’t think you had anything to worry about.”

“I suppose not,” Law said. “I should be nice to him, anyway, if you and I get married.”

“Out of the question,” Ayanna replied.

“That was a joke,” Law said.

“That really didn’t sound like a joke to me,” Sorin said. “You sounded quite serious.”

“That’s because you don’t have a sense of humor, Sonny,” Law said. “Maybe if you grow one, you’ll understand where I was going.”

“Where were you going with that, anyway?” Ayanna asked. “Really, I am quite curious what you meant by you and I getting married.”

Law grinned. “You know, where’s my bro, anyway? He only said he’d be gone for a minute.”

“Don’t change the subject,” Ayanna said.

“Seriously Sorin, Gale,” Law said, “Can you find him?”

“If you’re that serious, then I will go find him,” Ayanna said. “You two can stay here with him, right?”

Sorin and Gale nodded. Ayanna then went back into the ballroom as Law turned to Gale.

“So I think I might have seen your father,” Law said.

“I don’t really want to ask why,” Gale said.

“Ouch, is it that bad?” Law asked. “I guess I shouldn’t ask. Anyway, it seems like he’s already left the country.”

“He probably wants to go back home to his business,” Gale replied. “That wouldn’t be too surprising.”

“Maybe,” Law said. “What about you? Are you not going back?”

“No,” Gale answered. “I’m going to stay here for a while.”

“Is that so?” Law asked. “Maybe you should stay with me and my bro. I still can’t believe he did that, all just for me.”

“Wait, what did Gavin do?” Sorin asked.

“I guess he hasn’t told you,” Law said. “You see, he went and gave General Cue Ball his letter of resignation.”

“So what’s he going to do now?” Gale asked.

“If I knew, I’d tell you,” Law replied. “I’m sure he’ll find some work around here. That’s what he’s good at, anyway.”

“It’s much better than what you’re good at, anyway,” Gavin said. “Is this how you talk about me when I’m not around?”

Ayanna had re-entered the balcony with Gavin and Mina by her side. Gavin did not bother to wear anything special as he was still wearing his coat given to him by the Ameci military, while Mina wore a red dress with a skirt that reached down to her knees.

“Wow, Mina, I didn’t expect you to come in wearing something so nice,” Gale said. “I kind of wished that I would have done the same.”

“Hey, you see me over here dressed as I normally do and no one’s complaining,” Gavin said.

“Well, bro, that’s because you don’t realize what it means to look good,” Law said.

“Be quiet,” Gavin said.

“I told Mina that it was a special occasion,” Ayanna said, “These don’t come all the time, so she should celebrate while looking good as well. Right?”

“It’s not something I’m used to,” Mina replied, “But I don’t really mind too much… I mean, I do like it so thank you, Ayanna?”

“You’re very welcome,” Ayanna said. “So, Gavin, you’re really going to do this, then?”

“I don’t need to be in any military to prove my worth,” Gavin answered. “I’m sure there’s a calling for me out there.”

He laughed a joyous laugh.

“That’s the first time in forever that I’ve heard you laugh like that,” Law said.

“I’m starting to see what’s so great about this place,” Gavin said. “This is a new opportunity for me and you. Look out, rest of the world!”

Mina looked back at Sorin and Gale. “So, you two are coming to stay over with me, right?”

“You’ve already got a room set up for us?” Sorin asked.

“Of course!” Mina exclaimed. “My uncle has everything set up for you guys, and for Law and Gavin as well!”

“How the hell are you going to accommodate all of us?” Gavin asked.

“Don’t you know, bro?” Law asked. “You guys get your own rooms, and I get to share a bed with Mina.”

“Actually, you, Sorin, and Gavin will get a room while Gale and I can share mine,” Mina replied, “Until you find your own place, I guess!”

“I’ll pass,” Gavin said.

“For once I agree,” Law said. “Although perhaps it’s for the better. I would probably end up being too distracted by your abundant chest to even sleep, Mina.”

Gavin slapped Law on the back of his head. “You should wake up, damn it,” he said.

“Unbelievable,” Ayanna said.

“Sorry,” Law said. “I should really be thanking you guys, honestly. Especially you, bro.”

“I told you that there was no chance that Wihll stood a chance against me,” Gavin said.

“Anyway, I think we should be going,” Sorin said. “I told my father about the party and wanted to meet him here.”

“He was speaking with Henry Randolph earlier by the piano,” Gavin said.

“You saw him?” Gale asked.

“Well, he and that other woman, as well as Tori,” Gavin replied. “Maybe they’re still there.”

“Okay,” Gale said. “Thank you!”

“No problem,” Gavin said. “I assume that we’ll meet again, then.”

“That seems likely,” Sorin said.

Gavin smiled. “It’s far from over, Sorin Wilk,” he said. “If you really want to get stronger, then come see me.”

“Are you sure?” Sorin asked. “I thought that swords weren’t your specialty.”

“You know it takes a lot more than mastery of a blade to be strong!” Gavin said. “I swear, if you try playing smart with me during our training, I will kick your ass!”

“I think I’ll have to decline,” Sorin said. “Mina, maybe I’ll take you up on your offer.”

“Of course!” Mina said. “I don’t think you’ll regret it!”

“That’s interesting,” Law said, “Never thought you would be into that sort of thing, Sorin. Then again, I can see the appeal of having a lady dominate a man.”

“That’s not what I was talking about,” Sorin said.

Law snapped his fingers. “Just kidding!”

“Okay, I think we’re done here,” Gale said. “Thank you again, Ayanna!”

She and Sorin headed back inside the ballroom in hopes of finding Kirk and Eva. As Gavin said, they were talking with Henry and Tori by the piano. Kirk turned and noticed the two walking towards him.

“You two got here early, didn’t you?” Kirk asked.

“Not really,” Sorin said. “Things were already going on when we got here.”

“That sounds about right,” Henry said. “Anyway, how are you holding up, Sorin?”

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Sorin replied. “Actually, there was something I wanted to say to you.”

“What’s that?” Kirk asked.

“This place, Rezar, I want to stay here,” Sorin said. “At least until I can find Rysol. I mean, if you’re right…”

“Well, that is good to hear,” Kirk said. “It’s always good to have another set of eyes working alongside me.”

“Have you already forgotten?” Eva asked. “You’re getting older. Please just consider letting Sorin find him. Wasn’t that a plan of yours?”

“In the future,” Kirk said. “I just honestly didn’t expect it to come so soon. Most of my life was spent finding him, but to hand the baton to Sorin…”

“He can handle it,” Eva said. “He’s your son. Trust him.”

“I do trust you,” Kirk said to Sorin, “Never think that I don’t. Just promise me that you’ll be okay.”

“I will,” Sorin said. “After all, I’ve learned a lot from you on this journey.”

“That’s what I want to hear,” Kirk replied. “You had the potential, and now you’ve realized it. You’ve made me proud, Sorin.”

“Thanks,” Sorin said. “What are you going to do now?”

Kirk rubbed his chin. “Now? Go back to Ameci, I suppose,” he said. “After all, Ameci has its own problems. Me and Eva can try to make some change happen there, if possible.”

“And I would love to help, too,” Henry said. “Military or not, I want to help Ameci too.”

“So are you two leaving tomorrow as well?” Tori asked.

“Sounds like it,” Eva replied. “I have been yearning to sleep in my own bed again, but I guess that the next time I do it won’t be alone.”

“That boat leaves at noon,” Kirk said. “If we’re to get there early, we’d need to get some early sleep.”

“Sorry about that, you two,” Eva said to Sorin and Gale. “It looks like we’ll be heading off now. Perhaps we’ll see you in the morning?”

“We’ll be there,” Sorin said. “I want to see you one last time before you leave, obviously.”

“Then it’s settled,” Kirk said. “We’ll see you in the morning.”

Kirk and Eva then left the ballroom. Henry turned to Sorin and said his goodbye, as did Tori. Gale said goodbye to the two newlyweds as they left the ballroom as well. After that, Sorin looked at Gale and decided that they would spend a little more time at the party before going back to the Port Hotel.

 

[2740 AD; Port of Iiayi – Morning Shine]

 

It was a cloudless morning as the sun shined on the ocean. As the ramp to the ship opened, Kirk and Eva were with Sorin and Gale when Henry and Tori showed up. They had their bag ready as Kirk and Eva had their own as well.

“So this is where we part ways,” Kirk said.

“I wish it wasn’t like this,” Sorin said. “There’s still a lot that I want to know about you.”

“Well, if you ever feel that way, don’t be afraid to come back to Ameci,” Kirk replied. “To be honest, it’s funny how we’ve switched places, but I guess I should have seen it coming.”

“There there,” Eva said, “There will plenty of time to reflect once we’re on board.”

“And you two can come to our celebration,” Henry said.

“That would be nice,” Kirk said.

“Henry, I want to thank you,” Sorin said. “If you weren’t there with my father, I don’t know what would have happened.”

“I was just helping my friend,” Henry replied. “Even though we had our difficulties, we kept moving forward.”

“As we always do,” Kirk said. “No matter what happens, it is our nature to keep going. That’s how we’ve managed to survive.”

“Agreed,” Eva said. “I will continue to live for Belkley’s sake because I know that he’d want to see me be happy.”

“It’s too bad that he couldn’t be here to see you off,” Gale said.

“I know,” Eva replied, “Even with his killer dead, it still won’t bring Belkley back.”

“It’s like you said, though,” Kirk said, “You will continue to live for him, as I do for April. Though they’re no longer of this world, our memories of them will continue to live on.”

Eva sighed. “That is true,” she said. “I guess we’ll be heading onto the ship soon, though.”

The horn of the ship blared throughout the ports, as more people arrived to the port. As they started to board the ship, that was when Kirk turned to Sorin.

“I know that we’ll meet again,” Kirk said, “And I know that you’ll meet your brother once more. Just continue to be strong and always have hope.”

“Don’t worry,” Sorin replied, “Because I will do it.”

“Good,” Kirk said. “That’s all I wanted to say. Until next time, this is goodbye.”

Kirk headed off for the ramp as Eva turned to face Sorin and Gale.

“Seriously, thank you,” Eva said. “Even you, Henry and Tori.”

“Why us?” Tori asked.

Eva hesitated for a moment. “It’s… it’s because you were both there,” she said, “It’s always good to have people around just because.”

“Well, I’m glad that we were there for you,” Tori said.

“You’ve been so good for us, Eva,” Gale said, “We should be thanking you.”

“I know,” Eva replied. “I’m sorry, but I have to go. Bye.”

Eva rushed off onto the ramp and disappeared into the crowd with the bag in her hand.

“Your father is a good man,” Henry said to Sorin. “If that’s anything to go by, I know that you’ll be fine.”

“Gale, it was great spending time with you,” Tori said. “You too, Sorin. If you’re ever back in Ameci, you should come visit us!”

“We’ll be sure to,” Sorin said, “And thank you, Henry. I still remember when we first met. Funny how things turned out, haven’t they?”

Henry smiled. “Indeed,” he said, “But it looks like our time is up. We bid you adieu!”

Tori waved her hand to Sorin and Gale. “Goodbye!”

They climbed up the ramp to join Kirk and Eva on the ship. Sorin and Gale could only watch as more people kept boarding the ship until the last few people boarded. The port staff moved the ramp and the ship’s horn blared once more. With that, the ship began to move.

“I guess it really is goodbye,” Gale said. “Now it’s just us…”

“Yeah,” Sorin said. “My head feels like it’s in a thousand different place right now, like I’m still trying to process this.”

“Me too,” Gale said. “I… Well, I guess I only have one chance to really say this: I like you.”

“I like you, too, Gale.”

“You do?” Gale asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“As in, you like me… more than a friend?”

Sorin took a deep breath and exhaled. “More than a friend,” he said. “Maybe it’s too early to say this, but I really do like you Gale.”

She responded by hugging him, which made him respond by doing the same. Gale had her eyes closed the entire time, but Sorin could only just look down at her.

“Are people looking at us again?” Gale asked.

“Some of them are,” Sorin answered, “But I don’t care.”

“Oh, Sorin, I feel so excited,” she said.

“I do, too,” he said. “This is more exciting, however.”

He reached down to her and grabbed the bottom of her chin. She looked up at him as he moved in to kiss her. Whatever eyes were on them, it did not matter. Sorin was happy, as was Gale. The sun continued to shine on them as neither two wanted the moment to end. It would have to end, though, as their lips separated from each other as they looked in each other’s eyes.

“I don’t even know how I did that,” Sorin said, “It felt like it came out of nowhere… What about you?”

“It was wonderful,” Gale replied. “I mean, it was my first, but it was wonderful.”

“Well, maybe we should do it again.”

“Maybe.”

“Yeah,” Sorin said, “But do you want to get something to eat first? I really haven’t had anything to eat today.”

Gale smiled. “Of course,” she replied. “What did you have in mind?”

“I don’t know,” Sorin answered, “But I’m sure that we can find something as long as we keep moving forward.”

 

The End… For Now.

 

Previous | END

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Chapter 18 – Part 1

[2740 AD; Temporary Prime Minister’s Office – Deca District – Rezar, Iiayikohn]

 

A week had passed since the defeat of the True Thekohnians at Bel. It was still a somber mood as the Iiayi government tried to rebuild after the attack. For Ayanna, she walked into General Reiss’ office and took a seat in front of his desk. The old general had a stern look on his face as Ayanna settled in.

“Major Ansa, you know why I called you in here?”

Ayanna nodded. “There was something you wish to speak with me about, sir,” she said.

“Indeed,” Reiss said. “Major, I will make this to the point: I am promoting you to be lieutenant general.”

“You… you are?” Ayanna asked. “I don’t know what to say…”

“You could thank me,” Reiss replied. “I’m kidding, of course. As for why, I made this decision based on what you did in Bel last week.”

“Well, it was because of the cooperation between our military and the militaries of Ahnlikohn that we were able to control the situation. Not just me.”

“Yes, but your work alone stood out to me,” Reiss said. “Ever since you were an officer, you were always focused on the task and never gave up. The prime minister himself even praised you, especially what happened when that assassin broke into the offices.”

“Sir, I really have to thank you,” Ayanna said.

“You are welcome, Ayanna Ansa,” Reiss said. “There is, however, another announcement that I have to make to you.”

“What is that, sir?”

“I am planning to retire in three years,” Reiss said. “I am getting older and I want to be able to spend more time with my family while I can. The prime minister has already been informed of my decision, and I will be disclosing it to the rest of the military today.”

“Understood, sir,” Ayanna said. “You are sure that you are okay with this decision?”

“I am,” Reiss answered. “It will give you enough time to gain experience when the time comes for you to become the general of our country’s proud military.”

“Thank you again.”

“I must say, though, that if you had told me six years ago that you would climb all the way to be lieutenant general, I would’ve laughed my arse off,” Reiss said, “But time does manage to change even a rigid mind like mine. I only have soldiers like you to thank for that, Ayanna.”

“Sir, I promise that you will not be disappointed,” she said. “Neither you nor the prime minister will regret this decision!”

“Good to hear,” Reiss said. “I would suggest that you celebrate this; after all, it is a big moment for you and your family, is it not?”

Ayanna agreed. “I will inform them,” she replied. “You’re free to come too, if you want, sir.”

“Ah, no, I wish I could,” he said, “But I wouldn’t wish to steal the spotlight from your accomplishments. Go on.”

“Okay,” Ayanna said. “I will see you tomorrow!”

Ayanna stood up and waved goodbye to Reiss before making her exit. She had to find a way to celebrate. That was when she thought of Gavin and Law. With a smile on her face, Ayanna went downstairs to make a phone call to the Executive Hotel.

 

[2740 AD; Port Hotel – main lobby – Deca District]

 

Sorin watched the fish in the aquarium swim as he thought about Rysol again. His father’s words echoed in his head as he placed a hand on the glass. If there was a way to Rysol could survive that fall, Sorin was unsure how he could have done it. It was the smallest bit of hope he could cling to, Sorin thought to himself, as it was the main reason why he even came to the Thekohnian Region in the first place.

“If you can swim well enough,” he said, “Then maybe…”

“Are you still thinking about him?” Gale asked.

Gale walked up to Sorin, who turned around and greeted her.

“I wish I knew what to say to you,” she said, “But I guess that you’ve probably heard it all by now. I’m sorry.”

“Gale, I think I’ve made up my mind.”

“You have?”

“I want to get stronger,” Sorin replied. “Not just at swordfighting, but in general. If… if you would, would you mind if I stayed with you in Rezar?”

“Of course not,” Gale said. “You’re welcome to stay with me as long as you want.”

“Have you already figured out where you wanted to stay?” Sorin asked.

“Well, no,” she replied.

“I guess that part can be figured out later,” he said. “Actually, there is somewhere we could stay.”

“Really?”

“Yes there is,” Sorin said. “It would solve our little housing problem, that’s for sure.”

“I’m glad to have you around, Sorin,” Gale said.

She wrapped her arms around Sorin, who reciprocated her by wrapping his arms around her. The two stood like this for what seemed to be minutes, although it was soon broken up by the arrival of Kirk and Eva.

“So, are you two just going to stand there like that?” Eva asked. “You know that you’re making everyone look at you, right?”

Sorin and Gale looked around and saw that what Eva said was true. Both of them separated from each other, as Sorin laughed while Gale looked at her feet.

“Hey, you shouldn’t interrupt them,” Kirk said. “They’re young. Let them have that moment together.”

“It was just a hug,” Gale said.

“Yeah, just a small, innocent hug,” Sorin said.

“So it would seem,” Kirk said. “Eva, you really shouldn’t interrupt their friendly little hugfest, considering what you did last night.”

“That’s personal,” Eva replied, “And they don’t need to know, ever.”

“What are you talking about?” Gale asked.

“Nothing,” Kirk answered. “Anyway, me and Eva are going for a walk. We’ll leave you two alone, okay?”

Kirk and Eva exited the hotel as Gale turned back to Sorin. He was still standing with his arm behind his head as he tried not to laugh.

“I feel a little disappointed,” Gale said. “Sorin, are you done?”

“For the most part,” he said. “Do you have something in mind?”

“Nothing really.”

It was then that Mina rushed into the hotel lobby. She made her way to Sorin and Gale by the aquarium and stopped. Mina spent some time catching her breath as Gale turned to her.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m… I’m fine,” she replied. “I’ve come… with an announcement.”

“An announcement?” Sorin asked.

Mina pulled out a letter from her pocket. “Here,” she said. “It’s an invitation to a party.”

Gale took the letter and began to read. “An invitation to celebrate Ayanna’s promotion?”

“I know!” Mina said. “What food do you guys think they’ll have?”

“This is a big deal,” Gale said, “Lieutenant general in Iiayikohn carries a lot of weight. We should really go.”

“Who else is going?” Sorin asked.

“Oh, just Gavin… and Law,” Mina replied. “Also, I was trying to see if Henry could come along, too, as well as Kirk and Eva!”

“We’ll be sure to make it tonight, then,” Gale said, “And we’ll be sure to let the others know, too.”

Mina pumped her first into the air. “Great! I’ll see you guys later!”

“Bye, Mina,” Sorin said.

Mina then turned around and left the hotel. Once she was gone, Sorin turned back to Gale, who had already put away the letter into her pocket.

“If you want, we could take a walk as well,” Sorin said.

“I would like that,” Gale replied. “There’s actually a place I wanted to go to, so maybe now we can actually see it for ourselves.”

“What is it?” Sorin asked.

“I think you’ll be surprised,” she said. “Come on, let’s go!”

 

[2740 AD; Rezar Courthouse – Outside on the steps]

 

The decision was made the instant that Henry had returned to Rezar, as he and Tori stood outside of the courthouse celebrating their newfound unity. It may have taken them ten years, but Henry knew that this was a decision that he had wanted to make. Now that it was said and done, they looked each other in the eyes. Henry pulled Tori in and gave her what she wanted as they shared the moment for what seemed to be forever. It would come to an end, however, as Mina arrived with a letter in her hand.

Mina waved her hand. “Henry! Tori!”

The two broke off their kiss and turned to Mina who was standing at the foot of the steps.

“Gavin told me you’d be here,” Mina said. “Glad I could finally make it.”

“How are you, Mina?” Tori asked.

“Fine! Very fine!” Mina replied. “I have this for you two newlyweds!”

She handed the letter to Henry, who proceeded to open it.

“An invitation, huh,” Henry said. “But why us?”

“Gavin wanted to invite you,” Mina replied. “He said he wanted to tell you something.”

“He does, does he?” Henry asked.

“I’m only the messenger,” Mina said. “You’ll have to get the answer out of Gavin himself.”

“I see,” Henry said.

“Perhaps he wants to be your friend now, Henry,” Tori said.

“That’s doubtful,” Henry replied, “Gavin doesn’t seem the type to admit when he’s wrong.”

“Well, you two got married, right?” Mina asked. “Maybe you could use this party to celebrate your marriage!”

“Oh, we don’t want to take away from Ayanna’s accomplishments,” Henry said. “This was just something done on a whim. Once Tori and I are back in Ameci, the real celebration will begin.”

“Okay, but if you want to still come to the Executive Hotel, they’ll be waiting for you,” Mina said. “I hope you two do come, though!”

“Maybe we will,” Tori said. “We were planning on leaving tomorrow, but we can drop by for a little bit if that’s okay with you, Henry.”

“If you’re okay with it, my love,” Henry replied.

“Then tell Gavin we’ll be there,” Tori said to Mina.

“Of course,” Mina said. “You won’t regret it at all, I promise!”

“Thank you,” Henry said. “We’ll see you later, Mina.”

“Okay, bye!” Mina replied.

Henry looked back at Tori again as Mina ran off. They both decided that they would head back to the Executive Hotel and get ready for the celebration that would take place later tonight.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Chapter 17 – Part 2

[2740 AD; President’s Palace – Outer Courtyard West]

 

Along the way back, Sorin, Henry, and Mina caught up with Gavin. One brief explanation later, they headed back to the President’s Palace back in the city. Once they were there, they met up with Ayanna who was signaling to some of the other soldiers.

“We’re back,” Gavin said. “Where are they?”

“They’re already waiting on the truck,” Ayanna replied. “I have to thank you once again, Gavin.”

“Don’t mention it,” Gavin replied. “I still have to wrap some things up here, so I’m going to let these three go on ahead.”

“What do you have to do?” Mina asked.

“You shouldn’t worry about it, Mina Rask,” Gavin said. “I’ll be back soon. Be sure to tell Lawrence about my accomplishment.”

“After how many times you told us on the way back, I think we’ll have no problem forgetting about it,” Henry said.

“You’re not off the hook, either, Henry Randolph!” Gavin said. “You and I will settle this someway, somehow!”

“Something tells me I shouldn’t hold my breath,” Henry replied.

Gavin rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”

“What about you?” Ayanna asked Sorin. “You look like you’ve been getting ready for a funeral.”

“Yeah, about that,” Henry said. “The person he’s been searching for… Well, it looks like that that person is no longer with us.”

“I’m so sorry, Sorin,” Ayanna said. “You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to talk about it.”

“No, it’s okay, Major Ansa,” Sorin said. “It will be fine. I’m not sure how they will take it, though.”

“I wish you luck,” Ayanna said. “As for me, I have some other things I must attend to here. I’ll see you back in Rezar.”

With that, Ayanna sprinted off in the direction of another group of Iiayikohnian soldiers. Gavin scratched his head as he looked to the other three, and reached his hand out to Sorin.

“What is this?” Sorin asked.

“Consider it a sign,” Gavin replied, “A sign that you’ve gotten stronger.”

“I can’t really say that I am,” Sorin said. “After what had happened earlier…”

“Shut up!” Gavin said. “You were the one who decided to run after him, right? You did that even though you didn’t know where it would take you! Hell, you even came to this city knowing what was at stake! If that isn’t strength, then what the hell is it?”

“But what can I do now?” Sorin asked. “Rysol is dead. I saw it with my own eyes.”

Gavin sighed. “You want my advice?”

“I guess I don’t have another option,” Sorin said.

“You pick up that blade of yours and fight for him,” Gavin replied. “It’s what Lawrence and I did after my father perished. Well, without the whole having a sword part, but you get what I’m saying.”

“He’s right, surprisingly,” Henry said. “Whatever you choose to do from here… well, looks like you’ve got to figure that one out for yourself, I guess.”

“I don’t know,” Sorin said. “What can I even do from here? I’m not sure I can even go back to Ameci after this.”

“That’s for you to decide,” Gavin said. “As for me, I’m heading off.”

As Gavin left, it was just Sorin with Henry and Mina by his side. They walked to the truck nearby, ready to head inside when Mina stopped Sorin.

“If you want, you can stay over with me and my uncle for a while,” she said. “I’m sure there’ll be enough room for you and your friend Gale! You could even be my training buddy!”

Sorin managed a small smile. “Thanks Mina,” he said. “Maybe I’ll consider it sometime.”

They opened the doors to the back of the truck and found Kirk and Eva sitting inside. Both of them had been waiting for the return as Kirk looked at the driver.

“You can start up the truck now,” Kirk said.

Sorin stepped inside the truck and sat next to Kirk. Henry and Mina sat on the opposite side as the engine turned on. All that Sorin could do now was sigh and look down at the floor.

“I can guess it didn’t go well,” Kirk said. “It looks like you’re okay, though.”

Sorin pulled out Rysol’s arm. “Sorry,” he said, “I failed you. Rysol… I saw him fall down the cliff.”

“You only saw him fall, right?” Kirk asked.

“Seems like it would be hard to survive a drop like that,” Henry said. “I can only offer my condolences, Kirk.”

“That isn’t necessary, Henry,” Kirk said. “Rysol is still alive. I know in my heart he still is.”

Sorin looked up at Kirk. “But I watched with my own eyes,” he said.

“Even someone as strong as me would have trouble surviving that,” Mina said. “I could tell that Rysol was plenty strong just from my heroic intuition alone!”

“No son of mine would just die like that,” Kirk said. “He is a Wilk, after all. Hard for us to say yes to death, you know?”

“You’ve lost your mind,” Eva said.

“Hardly,” Kirk replied. “Just keep your head up, Sorin. Stay strong knowing that he is still out there, regardless of what happened.”

“I’ll consider it,” Sorin said. “Maybe you’re right…”

The truck moved onto the main road out of the city. Sorin had no idea if what Kirk said was true, but if he was, then there was at least a small possibility of Rysol being alive. He looked at Rysol’s arm once again and wondered if he would be able to see his brother again.

 

[2740 AD; Ameci-Iiayi-Ahnle Rendezvous – outside Bel, Maeitakohn]

 

Gavin stood at the phone as he contemplated picking the receiver up. It was a simple call he had to make, but how would he be able to say it? He was certain that General Fercewend would understand, but Gavin was not sure he could take that risk.

“Shit, what can I do?” Gavin asked.

“I take it you’re having some trouble?” Ayanna asked.

“Don’t just eavesdrop on my conversation!” Gavin said. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be yelling at you. It’s just personal business.”

“Understood,” Ayanna said. “Whatever you decide to do, you know that I will support it.”

“As expected,” Gavin said, “You are a worthy ally, Major Ansa.”

Ayanna smiled. “More than an ally,” she said. “I consider you and Law to be good friends, as I do Mina.”

“Then you’ve made a good friend,” Gavin replied. “It feels weird saying it, but I think of you as a friend, too.”

“Good,” Ayanna said. “I’ll leave you to yourself so you can make your call to General Fercewend.”

Gavin said his goodbye to Ayanna as she walked away. With that, he picked up the receiver and began to make a call to the Ameci embassy. After a couple of rings, the other side picked up.

“Hello, this is junior lieutenant Gavin Power,” he said.

“Power?” Fercewend asked. “What is it?”

“It’s something I need to tell you,” Gavin replied. “Something that is extremely important for me.”

“What are you saying, lieutenant?”

Gavin took a deep breath and exhaled. “Sir, I’m sorry to inform you of this but I must say it anyway,” he began, “As of right now, I am offering my resignation to you.”

“Lieutenant, you know that this is an option you can’t take back, right?” Fercewend asked.

“I’m fully aware of the consequences,” Gavin answered. “I know that the timing is far from ideal, but I have my reasons for doing so.”

A short silence followed. Gavin could hear some whispering on the other side, but could not make out what was being said. Then, Fercewend spoke up again.

“Talk to me when you get back to the embassy,” he said.

“Okay,” Gavin said. “I’ll be sure to do that, sir.”

He said his goodbyes to General Fercewend and hung up the phone. Gavin looked off in the direction to Iiayikohn and thought about Law. Sacrificing his career, his livelihood, was difficult to do, but he was certain that in the end he had made the right choice in his mind.

“I’m doing this for you, Lawrence,” he said. “Until we have your problem sorted out, I’m not going anywhere.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 17 – Part 1

[2722 AD; Admorse, Ameci – Wilk Household]

 

(Rysol’s Remorse)

 

Father had gone out to work that day. I will never forget the smile on his face when he told mother that he was looking forward to that night. As he left, mother turned to me and looked me in the eyes.

“He’ll be back soon, Ry.”

He would be back. She had assured me of that. I went to Sorin’s room and looked in his crib and found that he was sound asleep. It was just like any other day since he had been born. Mother had told me that compared to Sorin, I was quite loud when I was his age. I wondered what kind of kid he would turn out to be, but that day was not meant to be a peaceful one.

“Rysol, can you go out back?” Mother asked me. “I need some water to wash these clothes.”

I nodded and left out the back door. Our backyard was vast, with an endless amount of land that ended up by a small river. It was the first thing that father showed me that I could clearly remember. A river that went from one place to another.

“All of this water, it goes on and on, my son,” father said to me. “It starts out small, but it ends up into a much larger body of water.”

He laughed when he said that, and looked at me.

“Sort of like you,” he said, “You’ll just a small stream right now, but in the future you’ll be a big lake or maybe even an ocean!”

The stream he had talked about was right before my feet. With a bucket in my hand, I scooped up some water when I heard a scream from far away. There was no mistaking that scream. Mother. No time to react, I ran into the house and saw them surrounding her. These two men were armed and looked threatening.

“Where is he!?”

Mother, however, lacked the fear I had. She had stood there with her arms out, not moving a single inch as the men stepped forward.

“Who sent you?”

“We’re not afraid to cut you down where you stand.”

“No! I will not move,” mother said. “No matter what you will do, I will not let you into my house!”

“Tell us where Kirk is, or else we will kill you!”

“He’s not here. Now go away!”

“Lies! Maybe we will start with these kids first!”

They looked at me. My heart was pounding and my eyes… I felt ready to burst into tears. Father. Where was father? He had to come back, soon, he had to. Please, do not leave us alone here was these men!

“Yeah, looks scared, alright. Don’t you worry, kid, it’ll all be over soon…”

“Don’t you dare!”

She was fearless. If only I were as fearless, then, I would have saved her. The men did not care, though, and ran their swords through her stomach. It was like a nightmare. The tears could not stop running down my face as mother fell to the floor.

“Now that she’s out of the way, all that’s left is you and that other kid…”

They were getting closer. I did not know what to do. With their bloodied swords, they raised them up… And then, she happened. Mother had taken a last stand.

“I won’t let you… lay a hand on him!”

She dashed at them, doing her best to distract them as I got out of the way. I do not even know how I got out of there; my feet had reacted on their own, I suppose. It proved not to matter much, though, as mother was quickly thrown into the wall. I was out of their way, but not for long. I had embraced the worst when he showed up again.

“I’m home,” father said. “April? Where are you?”

He looked and saw her. She looked at me. The men turned and saw him standing there in the doorway. Whatever got into them, it led them to charge at father in hopes that they would kill him, but he was much faster. Stronger. Strong… Something that I was not.

“Run.”

That word echoed in my head. Was it mother? Father? I did not know. What I did know was that I listened. Out of fear, I listened. Not even a second thought went through my mind when I had shot out of the back and into the backyard. Run… Run… Run… That word continued to repeat over and over as my legs carried me through the field and into a nearby forest.

“Run,” I said. “I need to run!”

I was not sure how much time had passed, but I could hear the voice of my father ringing in my ears as he called my name. How could I have gone back? After what had happened… After what I saw… I was not brave enough. I was not strong enough. I lacked both things which mother and father possessed.

After a while, I collapsed to the ground. My face had hit the dirt as my legs could not carry me anymore. It did not matter. All I wanted to do was cry. So I did. Who knows how long it was for, because I soon fell asleep thereafter. The next morning, I awoke to a pair of feet before me. I looked up and saw him. At the time, I was not aware of the man he really was, but he had saved me. A man of wealth, he took me in for the next eight years.

 

[2740 AD; Bel Forest – interior of the woods]

 

“That’s… what you wanted to know, right?” Rysol asked.

Rysol stood up and turned away from Sorin. Sorin had looked at his feet the entire time that Rysol spoke and did not say a single word. There was nothing he could say, after all, he was only an infant when his mother was killed.

“If you will… I’m going to go,” Rysol said. “They’re almost here. Please, go with them and forget about me.”

He started to walk away, but Sorin placed a hand on his arm.

“No!” Sorin said. “You don’t have to run away again!”

“What are you doing!?” Rysol asked. “Are you… are you insane!? You know full well what will happen when they catch up and see me!”

“I will tell them,” Sorin said. “You’re not our enemy. Father and I only wanted to find you after all these years.”

“Never!”

“But why?” Sorin asked. “Whatever it is, I want to know. The True Thekohnians have been defeated, so we don’t have to worry about them anymore, right?”

“You don’t… understand,” Rysol replied. “There’s so much you… so much you will… You just don’t know!”

He swung his arm at Sorin, hitting him in the face and knocking him to the ground. Sorin held a hand to his face as Rysol drew his blade. Rysol’s strained breathing was all Sorin could hear right now. Within less than a second, Sorin drew his blade just in time to defend himself from Rysol’s attack.

“No, stop this!” Sorin said. “What has gotten into you?”

He looked up into Rysol’s eyes. They were empty and dull as Rysol pulled back his sword. Sorin stood up and once again defended himself, his sword upright as Rysol tried a direct strike. The two stared at each other once more.

“Are you listening, Rysol?” Sorin asked. “Listen to me!”

Rysol’s hands twitched. His sword fell to the ground as he appeared to realize what he was doing. Sorin stepped forward and withdrew his sword. As he got closer, Rysol grabbed his head and began to scream.

“I thought that I was done,” Rysol said, “Done with that side! Why… Even my own brother I couldn’t… I couldn’t stop myself!”

“It’s okay!” Sorin said. “I can help you.”

“No, you can’t!” Rysol exclaimed. “No one can save me!”

He ran off, forgetting his sword as he approached a nearby cliff. A long drop awaited him below, with a large river flowing through the ravine.

“Rysol, no, don’t jump!” Sorin said.

“It’s so big,” Rysol said, “The river… it looks welcoming.”

“Please,” Sorin said, “Don’t jump… Not now, not at all.”

The footsteps were at their loudest as Henry and Mina arrived. They witnessed as Sorin tried to talk Rysol down from jumping. Sorin pleaded as Rysol turned to see the two come in.

“Not another step!” Rysol said. “I… I… I can’t do this.”

“Then step down,” Sorin said.

Rysol tried to move, but the ground below him broke apart. He started to fall down into the ravine, but Sorin dashed forward and grabbed Rysol’s left arm. Sorin felt lucky enough to be able to save his brother, but he still had to pull him back up.

“You saved me?” Rysol asked.

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Even after I tried to attack you, you still saved me,” Rysol said. “I’ve killed so many, yet you find me worthy of saving.”

Sorin tried to pull Rysol up, but lacked the strength to do so. He tried to place a hand in the ground, but found it too loose to establish a good hold.

“Don’t worry, Rysol,” Sorin said. “I know you two are back there! Could you help me out?”

“Okay!” Mina said. “Let’s go, Henry!”

“We’re coming, Sorin!” Henry said.

Rysol began to laugh. Even as he was grabbing onto life by way of Sorin, he laughed. Then, he lifted up his free arm and placed it on his other one.

“You’re not strong enough… Sorin,” he said. “I appreciate what you’ve done… but it’s time for me to go.”

“What are you saying?” Sorin asked.

“This.”

Rysol reached to his metallic arm and pressed a small button. A single press was all that Sorin needed to see as Rysol became detached from his arm. The long, echoing scream filled the entire ravine as Rysol fell down into the water below.

“Rysol!” Sorin said. “No! No!”

His scream matched with Rysol’s. A loud splash could be heard throughout the entire forest as Sorin could only watch Rysol disappear into the water. He continued to hold onto Rysol’s arm while Henry and Mina pulled him back up. Sorin had only his arm to remember him by as he started to cry.

“Why would you do this,” Sorin said. “To throw your life away? I can’t believe it…”

“I’m sorry,” Henry said. “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now, but I am sorry for your loss.”

“After what has happened, I don’t know,” Sorin said. “What can I even say?”

Mina embraced him. “It’s okay to cry,” she said. “No hero can go without crying at least a few times. Just let it all out.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Chapter 16 – Solo

[2740 AD; Executive Quarters in the President’s Palace]

 

The scene was set. Rysol faced Rhodes while Kirk and Henry watched. Rhodes had finished speaking when Eva, Sorin, and Mina ran in. A long, tense stillness occupied everybody’s mind as Rysol still had his blade pointed at Rhodes. Nobody wanted to speak up, but the sound of the chandelier shattering in the other room broke the tension.

“What was that!?” Rhodes asked.

Henry looked at the closed door. “It seems that there’s a bit of a ruckus going on in the other room,” he answered.

“Just what is he doing over there?” Eva asked under her breath.

“Did you say something, Eva?” Sorin asked.

“Forget it,” she said. “As for him…”

Sorin looked over at President Rhodes, who was now holding a pistol in his hand.

“They’re come,” Rhodes said. “They’re going to come soon, aren’t they?”

“Who are you talking about?” Rysol asked.

“The military,” Rhodes replied. “They’re going to come and… My fortunes… I’d rather choose death than take the fall for Foundation!”

Sorin took out his sword as he anticipated the worst to happen. However, Rhodes had a different idea as he held the gun against his head.

“No!” Kirk exclaimed. “Don’t do it!”

“You think I’m going to listen to you?” Rhodes asked. “You’re with them, aren’t you? Foundation sent you to stop me, didn’t they!?”

“I have nothing to do with them,” Kirk said.

Henry shook his head. “Me neither.”

“Lies! Both of you lie!”

Rhodes pulled the trigger of the gun. Some audible gasps filled the room, but quieted down once everyone realized nothing happened. Rhodes pulled the trigger again, but again no bullet was fired.

“Shoot, damn you!” Rhodes said. “I want to die! Let me die with some dignity before they get here!”

He kept pulling the trigger, but it was the same each time. Sorin withdrew his sword and walked forward.

“It’s over,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, sir, but the game is over.”

“He’s right,” Kirk said. “You’ll have plenty of chances to explain yourself later. Now put down that gun.”

Rhodes looked around, trembling as he threw the gun away. Rysol walked up to Rhodes, who looked down at his blade.

“Time to give up,” Rysol said.

“Yeah, this is the end for you,” Mina said. “All this killing needs to stop now, so surrender Mr. Rhodes!”

“None of you can make me!” Rhodes said. “Like I said, I’d rather die!”

Rhodes then grabbed the blade end of Rysol’s sword, the sharp edges cutting into his hand. Rysol tried to pull back but Rhodes proved to be quite stronger than he looked. With one pull, Rysol could feel his body move against his will as Rhodes directed the blade into his stomach.

“No, stop this!” Henry said.

“Let me go!” Rysol said. “Unhand my sword!”

“This sword will do it,” Rhodes said. “Now, finish me!”

Rhodes pulled the sword across, his stomach sliced open by Rysol’s sword. There was little that Rysol could do as his ability to pull his sword away ended up being unsuccessful.

“Rysol, let go of your sword!” Kirk said.

“Never, my father!” Rysol answered.

“One last pull… then it’s over,” Rhodes said.

It took only a second, but the deed was done. With blood spilling out of his abdomen, Rhodes collapsed to the floor. His breathing slowed as Sorin rushed up to him.

“Damn it! Why did you do it!?” Sorin asked.

Rhodes coughed. “I… told you,” he said, “I’m not going to be… Foundation’s fall guy…”

He coughed again and again as Sorin looked over to Kirk and Henry. They both stood there with little to offer, while Mina was hiding her face in Eva’s shoulder. Rysol stood over the bleeding Rhodes, his eyes wide open as he witnessed the president of Maeitakohn breathe his last breaths.

“You fool,” Rysol said. “You’re just going to let Foundation get away with this? After all you’ve told me!?”

Rhodes struggled to laugh. His eyes soon closed thereafter, never to open again as Rysol let out a frustrated scream.

“I’m sorry, Rysol,” Sorin said.

“What good can I do?” Rysol asked. “I… I can’t stay here! I’m sorry, Sorin, but this… is goodbye.”

Rysol put away his sword and ran for the back door. He broke down the door with a kick and continued his way out of the palace. Without a second thought, Sorin followed after him.

“No, Sorin!” Kirk said. “Stay here!”

It was too late, though, as Sorin went through the back door. Kirk tried to go after his son, but dropped to the floor and grabbed his leg. Two people rushed over to Kirk’s side: Henry and Eva.

“You can’t put weight on that leg,” Henry said. “I’ll follow after him.”

“No,” Kirk said, “I can do this.”

“Are you just going to be stubborn again?” Eva asked. “You’re clearly hurting.”

“It’s just a sprain, Eva,” Kirk replied.

“You’re not young anymore,” Eva said. “These injuries are catching up with you, and it’s making me worry.”

She got on her knees next to Kirk and embraced him. Kirk took a small breath and wrapped his arms around her. Henry and Mina could only watch.

“Eva, I’m sorry I made you worry,” Kirk said.

“I was afraid of losing you,” she replied. “Afraid of losing another person close to me.”

Kirk closed his eyes. “I really am sorry.”

“You’re the only person I have left,” Eva said, “And yet I pushed you away because of what happened to me. Do you think that was selfish?”

“Of course not,” Kirk replied, “But why are you asking me that?”

“Because I love you, damn it!” Eva replied.

“I don’t know what to say,” Kirk said. “After what had happened during our time in the Swords of Eight, I didn’t know that your feelings extended that far.”

“Well, they do,” she said, “And you’re not about to leave this world any time soon, not as long as I have anything to do about it.”

“Then I love you, too,” Kirk said. He took a look at Henry and Mina. “I’m… I’m so sorry.”

Henry grinned. “It’s okay, Kirk,” he said.

“What about Sorin?” Mina asked.

“Go after him,” Eva said. “You and Henry go after him. He shouldn’t be too far from here.”

Mina nodded. “We’ll do it,” she said. “And you’re Henry?”

“That’s what Eva said,” Henry replied.

“Her name is Mina,” Eva said. “Now go!”

Henry agreed and headed towards the back door. Mina looked at Eva for a brief moment, a frown on her face.

“You didn’t let me introduce myself,” Mina said.

“Go!” Eva commanded.

“Okay!”

Mina ran off after Henry and joined him to search for Sorin. Eva looked back at Kirk and helped him to his feet.

“Let’s try and get out here, okay?” Eva asked.

“Those doors lock from this side,” Kirk said. “Open them up and we can get out of here.”

They walked up to the doors and unlocked them. Eva opened one of the doors and saw the large chandelier broken on the ground. The corpses did little to help, but Eva continued on with Kirk by her side. The two moved past the chandelier and towards the door.

“What happened with that chandelier?” Kirk asked.

“I don’t know,” Eva replied. “We came in through the other side. Well, three of us did, anyway.”

“Three?”

“Four of us came,” Eva said. “I really don’t know where Gavin went. Hopefully he hasn’t run away.”

The last pair of doors opened as Eva and Kirk stepped outside. Sunlight broke through the clouds as they made their way down the steps.

“Let’s sit down,” Kirk said. “Give my leg the rest it needs.”

“You are an idiot,” Eva said.

They walked up to a nearby bench and sat down. Kirk laid back as Eva rested her head on his shoulder. The sun shone through even brighter, though the clouds still remained in the sky.

“You’re not going to keep going after him, are you?” Eva asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“Do I need to tell you? Look at yourself!”

Kirk looked at his leg. “I can take a day or two off and continue after that.”

“You’re lucky we followed after you,” she said, “But what if we didn’t? What if Henry wasn’t by your side?”

“I don’t think about that,” Kirk said.

“Next time you might not be so lucky.”

“I suppose,” Kirk said. “Guess that means I should think about my future, right Eva?”

“You finally found him after all these years,” Eva said. “Do you know why?”

“Because of Sorin…”

“Not just him. Gale, too.”

“I knew that I couldn’t just let Sorin stay with Smith forever,” Kirk said. “At some point he needed the motivation to find his own path.”

“There’s still a long way for him to go, though.”

“True,” Kirk said. “So much I have to think about.”

“I’ll let you think about it later,” Eva said. “Right now, it looks like we have some company.”

In the distance, they could see Gavin and Ayanna running towards them. Eva stood up as Kirk continued to sit down while Gavin reached them first, with Ayanna right behind him.

“Why are you just sitting here?” Gavin asked. “Where are Sorin and Mina?”

“They’re not here,” Eva replied.

“And I can’t walk that well right now,” Kirk said. “Just give me a few more minutes and I’ll be back on my feet.”

“Don’t rush it,” Eva said.

“We can see that they’re not here,” Ayanna said, “But I assume that they’re okay?”

“Yes,” Eva answered.

She explained to Ayanna what had happened with President Rhodes and Rysol. In addition, Kirk added by telling them his side of the story. Once both Kirk and Eva were done explaining, Ayanna nodded and turned to Gavin.

“Go after them,” Ayanna said. “We’re dealing with a rogue party. There’s no telling what may happen.”

“I’d be glad to, but I have no bullets,” Gavin said. “You mind getting me some ammo?”

“You’re not going to need ammo,” Kirk said. “Rysol… he won’t hurt them. I just know that he won’t.”

“I know that he’s your son,” Ayanna said, “But given what you said, Rysol is a delicate case. A bit unpredictable, if you will.”

Kirk grabbed onto the side of the bench. “You don’t understand,” he said, “I’ve been looking the last eighteen years for him. I am not about to let anyone take him away from me again!”

“I will bring him back alive, Kirk Wilk,” Gavin said. “Even if I have to go through Sorin himself.”

“No!” Kirk said. “I won’t allow you to harm Sorin, either!”

“Damn it, fine,” Gavin replied. “Not like this is a difficult task for me, anyway. You will see.”

Gavin ran off back to the palace in order to catch up with Henry and Mina. With him out, Eva looked to Ayanna.

“What are you going to do?” Eva asked.

“If Rhodes is dead, then we will need to secure this area,” Ayanna said. “A few stray True Thekohnians might still be lurking around, so we will be arresting them on sight.”

“That’s good,” Kirk said. “Hopefully we can gain more information out of them.”

“You still can’t move yet,” Eva said. “Ayanna, can you take us out of here? I really don’t want to be around here anymore.”

“Okay,” Ayanna said, “Come with me.”

 

[2740 AD; Bel Forest – interior of the woods]

 

Through the forest he ran. He had to run. Sorin wanted answers. He needed them. He was not about to let Rysol run away now, because there were still plenty of questions left unanswered, and Sorin needed to hear them.

“Damn it, Rysol, come back here!” Sorin yelled through the forest. “You can’t keep running forever!”

Sorin continued running through the forest, passing by the various bushes and dodging the trees that were in front of him. The decision to follow Rysol came on a whim, but Sorin sought to follow through with it. It was funny, he thought, that not even a month ago he was even aware that he had a brother. Things were different, though. Part of it being an obligation to his father, but also because Sorin himself wanted to hear it straight out of Rysol’s mouth.

“Please, stop running!”

Deeper into the forest, Sorin saw him. Rysol sat up against a large tree, examining his uncovered left arm. What Sorin saw surprised him: instead of matching the flesh and blood his right arm had, Rysol’s left arm appeared to be made of a metallic material. Some sunlight reflected of his arm as Sorin moved in towards his brother.

“Rysol, what is that?” Sorin asked.

Rysol looked up in shock and began to scream. He grabbed his head as if he were in deep pain and curled over on the ground.

“I’m not going to hurt you, brother,” Sorin said. “I just want to know. I want to know everything.”

Sorin knelt down next to Rysol, who stopped screaming. He took a few labored breaths before finally sitting upright. There was little left between the two as Rysol closed his eyes.

“Why did you… follow me?” Rysol asked.

“Because you’re my family,” Sorin replied. “I deserve to know what’s going on. That’s all I ask of you.”

“Nobody… ‘deserves’ to know anything,” Rysol said, “Not even… if that person is my own brother.”

“Why not?”

“You saw it yourself… didn’t you?” Rysol asked. “I killed him… I killed a leader. No matter how anyone looks at it, it’s because of my sword that that man is dead.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“Do you really think… the masses will care? Of course not!”

“I don’t care what they think,” Sorin said. “What I care about is what happened to you. What happened to my family.”

“Father… he’s searched for a long time,” Rysol said, “But he’s foolish… if he thinks that he can ‘save’ me now…”

“Why?”

“I’m a killer… that’s why,” Rysol answered. “I’ve killed so many that I’ve lost count by now…”

“What about that arm of yours?” Sorin asked. “It’s very unusual. How did you get it?”

“Do you not already know?” Rysol asked. “I would have thought that that woman would have told you already. She… she’s a friend of father’s, is she not?”

Sorin nodded his head. “I guess it is true,” he said.

“I remember that day very well,” Rysol said. “I… Can you tell her that I’m sorry for what I did?”

“Why did you attack him?”

“Because I thought he was one of them… One of the True Thekohnians…”

Rysol hung his head and sighed. It was not easy to see, but Sorin could see that tears were starting to form in Rysol’s eyes. Sorin could feel himself begin to cry, too, but held back as he tried to console Rysol.

“It was a misunderstanding, right?” Sorin asked. “Please tell me that it was a misunderstanding, will you!?”

“That day… when she hung that blade above me, I really felt like I was about to meet the reaper,” Rysol said. “I was already clinging to life… but when that guy stopped her, I knew.”

He grabbed onto his fake arm and looked at it once more.

“This is a reminder of that mistake,” Rysol said. “A mistake that I will carry with me… carry with me until I die. That day may come sooner than I imagine, but until then I will fight.”

“I still have a lot of questions,” Sorin said. “At least answer this: what do you know about mother? You would be able to answer that, right?”

Rysol sighed. “If that’s what you want to know… then I will answer you,” he said. “That I feel… is the least that you need to hear.”

He stood up and brushed himself off. The sounds of footsteps were off in the distance as Sorin looked behind himself. No doubt about it: he was followed, and it was probably Mina.

“We don’t have a lot of time,” Sorin said, “So before you run, please just answer that question.”

“Okay,” Rysol replied. “Mother… she was an amazing woman, even in death. You see, the reason why she died… was to protect you.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 15 – Solo

[2740 AD; Rhodes Grand Hall in the President’s Palace]

 

There was one clear goal in Gavin’s mind at this point: stop Victor Wihll. Now was the time to do it, as he had the man responsible for injuring his brother and killing countless others in front of him. If there was any time for Gavin to prove himself, it would have to be now. It did not matter that Sorin would not be there to witness it. What did matter, though, was that this gave Gavin a chance to not hold anything back.

“Are you done thinking to yourself?” Wihll asked.

Gavin smirked. “I’m just giving you the last few moments to reflect on your pathetic life,” he answered, “Because the only one walking out of this room is the one who fights for justice!”

“What a fool,” Wihll said. “I’m sure as hell not going to make this easy for you, not one bit!”

Wihll lifted up his arm, gun in his hand, and aimed at Gavin. He fired at Gavin, who noticed just in time to dodge the bullet and run for the nearest column.

“Damn,” Gavin said. “How does he even manage to do that?”

“You talk a lot about justice and fighting, but hide the moment the gun is pointed at you,” Wihll said. “Perhaps I should applaud your cowardice!”

“Fuck off!” Gavin said.

He peeked from behind the column and made a quick shot at Wihll. The bullet just grazed Wihll’s shoulder and hit the wall behind him.

“So close, Mr. Power,” Wihll replied, “But not close enough!”

Gavin looked to the wall to his immediate right and scanned it all the way back to the entrance. That would be his breakaway. He sprinted away from the column, his gun still pointed at Wihll, and headed for the next column. Wihll turned, but Gavin was quick enough to fire off another shot. This one landed successfully on Wihll, striking him in his right arm. Wihll screamed and grabbed his arm as Gavin made it to the other column.

“You… now you’ve done it!” Wihll said. “I will destroy you!”

He laughed again. Gavin looked at his gun and counted the bullets he had left. Four. That was it. He had to make each shot count since Wihll did not seem to be bothered by his wound. Not one bullet could afford to miss.

“How can you even stand!?” Gavin asked. “You had a sword run through your gut, yet you manage to walk!”

“You never should doubt man’s desire to live when the stakes are high,” Wihll replied. “That’s how I’ve lived my life, and that’s how I’m going to end yours!”

“If you think you’re going to do that, you’re sorely mistaken, Victor Wihll!”

Gavin reached from behind the column and shot. Wihll did not move. Not even an inch separated the bullet’s trajectory from the side of Wihll’s head. Now there were only three left.

“Go ahead,” Wihll said. “Keep shooting! I’m having fun with this little duel of ours, how about you?”

“You’re having fun?” Gavin asked. “Then allow me to put an end to that!”

Gavin emerged from behind the column and ran towards Wihll. He had his gun out and fired a direct shot at Wihll, hitting him in the leg. Two. Wihll dropped to his knee, but still had a gun in his hand as he tried to aim at Gavin.

“I’m not gonna let you do that!” Gavin said.

He lifted his leg up and delivered a kick to Wihll’s hand, kicking the gun out and sending it flying to the wall. It caused the gun to fire off, hitting the ceiling as it did. Wihll looked up at Gavin, who was pointing his gun at him.

“Do it,” Wihll said. “Do it if you dare. You feel comfortable taking another man’s life? Then pull the trigger and kill me!”

“Don’t give me that crap,” Gavin said. “Only I get to decide when I can end you!”

“Is that so?” Wihll asked. “Just try it!”

Wihll reached out for Gavin’s arm and pulled Gavin to the ground. As Gavin hit the floor, Wihll jumped up to his feet and tried to make a break for the entrance. Gavin was not about to let Wihll get away, however, and aimed once more. With his second to last shot, Gavin’s shot hit Wihll in his unwounded shoulder. One more. Wihll stumbled to the ground and writhed in pain as he found himself next to another dead body. As Gavin stood up, Wihll eyed the silver gun and grabbed it.

“It’s now or never, Victor Wihll,” Gavin said. “As in: surrender now or never live!”

Wihll did not respond. His hand was still on the gun, but he did not move an inch.

“Then that’s your answer,” Gavin said. “Good riddance.”

He turned to the doors that Wihll banged on earlier and checked them. Just as he thought, they were locked. It seemed like there was no way to open them from this side. Gavin shook his head and turned around. Wihll stood in the middle of the room, blood all over his clothes, and had a gun trained on Gavin.

“Die.”

Wihll fired, catching Gavin off guard. The shot hit him in the chest, causing him to reach for it. Gavin yelled out as Wihll began to laugh yet again.

“How do you like me now?” Wihll asked. “It seems you were right after all: one of us is going to walk out of this room, and that person happens to be me!”

Gavin, with his gun in his hand, raised his arm. Shaking, his focus started at Wihll, but soon moved upward. There it was. With his final shot, Gavin shot up at the chandelier above. The bullet struck the chain, causing it to break. Wihll, who was still looking at Gavin, smiled and continued to laugh.

“You missed me completely!” Wihll said. “You call yourself a marksman? How do you even manage to miss!?”

Gavin scoffed. “Here’s the thing,” he said, “I don’t miss.”

That was when it came crashing down. The large chandelier fell from its place. Wihll looked up to realize that he did not have any time to react as the chandelier landed on top of him. A ton of glass shattered all over the room as Gavin shielded himself from the shards, but almost all of it landed at his feet instead.

“Looks like I get the last laugh,” Gavin said. “Fuck!”

He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out the diary Law had given him. A single bullet was lodged within as most of the pages appeared to be ruined. Gavin began to laugh, but stopped as the pain was still apparent.

“Son of a bitch, that still hurts,” he said. “Your luck really helped, didn’t it, Lawrence?”
With no way to move forward, Gavin decided that he would leave the hall. Seeing as there was no possible way that Wihll could have survived, Gavin made his way out of the hall and out into the courtyard. The rain had stopped as the clouds began to clear. In the distance, he could spot some trucks driving towards the palace.

“The military is arriving,” he said. “I need to inform them.”

Gavin ran towards the gate out of the courtyard and to where the trucks were going to be. He’d have to meet with Ayanna soon, anyway, and give an update on Wihll. As for Sorin and the others, Gavin hoped that they would be okay. He was certain that with Eva there, they would manage just fine and find Kirk and Henry before it was too late.

 

[2740 AD; war room in the Ameci Embassy – Rezar, Iiayikohn]

 

Gale looked out of the window of the embassy. She wondered to herself about what was happening. Was everything going to be okay? Would Sorin be alright? What about Rohan? She had to know. Gale turned around and looked at Rohan, who was talking to her father.

“It’s just Isaac,” she said. “It’s just Isaac…”

She repeated those words in her head as she walked up to Rohan sitting at the table. Gale took a deep breath and began to speak.

“Rohan,” she said. “I need to talk with you.”

“What is it?” Fercewend asked. “Is there something worrying you?”

“General, please,” Isaac said, “Our conversation is too complex for someone like her to understand.”

“Hold your tongue,” Fercewend said. “I’m talking to Gale.”

Isaac turned away with his arms crossed. Fercewend looked back at Gale once more.

“You had something you want to say to me?” Fercewend asked.

“It’s just one thing,” Gale said. “I’m nervous about what is going to happen in Maeitakohn. Especially with Gavin’s group.”

“You’re worried, aren’t you?”

Gale nodded. “It hasn’t been that long,” she said, “But I’m worried about their safety. The armies have already arrived in Maeitakohn, haven’t they?”

“From what I’ve been getting,” Fercewend said. “I want you to tell you something important.”

“What’s that?”

“We’re in a delicate situation now,” Fercewend answered. “We may have the True Thekohnians cornered in Bel, but there’s no guarantee that they are all there. The time will tell if further action is needed, but know that we will stop them no matter what it takes.”

“You are confident about that?” Gale asked.

“I know it,” Fercewend replied. “We were able to bring the War of the Lands to an end, so this should be no problem.”

“It’s just that I was thinking about what Eva told us,” Gale said. “I’m only hoping that you’re right and we can put a stop to this.”

“Some woman with a sword means nothing to us,” Isaac said. “Do you really think that she would even make any sense?”

“Isaac, please,” Fercewend said, “This is not your conversation.”

“I don’t even care,” Isaac said, “The fact of the matter is that regardless of what happens, we have already won. Is that not true?”

“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” Fercewend said. “Once we have confirmation, then we can start thinking about victory.”

“You really are interesting, cousin,” Isaac said. “You know what, go ahead. Keep talking to her. She’s the least of my concerns.”

“I am the least of your concerns?” Gale asked. “Do you not even care about anyone but yourself?”

“Silence, Gabrielle!” Isaac said. “I won’t hear another peep out of you, so do your best to remain quiet!”

Fercewend shook his head. “Isaac…”

“You wanted nothing to do with me my entire life, Isaac,” Gale said, “So why should I even listen to you now?”

“Because I am your father!”

“That might be true, but you don’t act like it,” Gale said. “After all the time I’ve spent on this travel, I know that there is no way you should even call yourself my father.”

“And what of it?” Isaac asked. “What good have you done? All you’ve been this entire time was just extra weight!”

Gale had no response.

“Who are you? I can answer that for you: no one. If it weren’t for your last name, do you even think that Kirk Wilk would bring you along?”

“That’s enough,” Fercewend said.

“Are you actually defending her?” Isaac asked. “Go on. It only proves my point.”

“The only point you’ve proven is mine,” Gale said. “As far as I am concerned, I no longer am your daughter!”

She ran out of the room and into the hallway. Isaac relaxed in his seat and turned back to Fercewend.

“The nerve of her!” Isaac said. “If it was not for me, she wouldn’t even exist in this world!”

“Isaac, I have a request for you,” Fercewend said.

“What do you want from me, cousin?”

“I want you to get out,” Fercewend replied.

“Pardon me?”

“Do I need to repeat myself again?” Fercewend asked.

“You will not let this go, will you?”

“Get the hell out,” Fercewend said, “Or so help me god I will force you out myself.”

Isaac scowled. “Fine,” he said. “It seems that my point was made, regardless. I’ll see you later, Rohan.”

He got up from his chair and proceeded to leave the room. Fercewend was by himself now as he looked at the map. The phone rang as he did, which led him to pick up the receiver.

“General Fercewend speaking,” he said. “What are the current conditions?”

“This is Aron Arrington of troop 35,” the voice said. “We’re in Bel now, sir. It’s stopped raining here, but that’s the least of our concerns.”

“What has happened?”

“It seems that we came late,” Aron replied. “The True Thekohnians… they all seem to be dead.”

“What!?”

“Not just them,” Aron said, “But the Maeitakohnian forces have been decimated as well.”

“What the hell?” Fercewend asked. “Do you have any idea what happened?”

“If I could, I would tell you, sir,” Aron answered. “I’m getting a little nervous, to be honest.”

“Keep your wits about you, lieutenant,” Fercewend said. “There might be something worse out there.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Have you seen Power yet, lieutenant?”

“I thought I saw someone hobbling off in the distance,” Aron said. “Hey, you!”

Fercewend waited. He was not certain about whether or not Gavin had survived, but Aron’s response gave him some hope. He started to hear the familiar yells of a certain sunglasses wearing soldier fill the air.

“Hold on, will you?” Aron said to Gavin. “Looks like we’ve reunited, sir.”

“Give me that phone!” Gavin said.

Fercewend could hear the two men fight over the phone. He cleared his throat, which grabbed the attention of both Aron and Gavin.

“Don’t make me wait,” Fercewend said. “Put him on already.”

Aron sighed. “Okay.”

“General Fercewend!” Gavin said.

“I’m right here,” Fercewend replied. “What is the update, lieutenant?”

“It’s a massacre, sir,” Gavin answered. “As for the primary threat, I can safely say that you will not have to worry about him.”

“I take it you took care of him?” Fercewend asked.

“Who else?”

Fercewend laughed. “I will take your word for it,” he said. “Have you met with Major Ansa?”

 

[2740 AD; President’s Palace – Outer Courtyard West]

 

“Negative, sir,” Gavin replied. “I am waiting for her to arrive.”

He looked over at Aron, who had his arms crossed. Several other trucks had arrived by now, parked just outside of the gates. Soldiers got out of the trucks and headed towards the palace.

“The others should be okay,” Gavin said.

“Are they not with you?” Fercewend asked.

“I was busy taking care of the primary threat, sir,” Gavin replied. “The others went on ahead after the targets.”

“Give the phone back to Arrington,” Fercewend said.

“Are you sure, sir?” Gavin asked.

“I’m sure.”

Gavin sighed. “Here,” he said to Aron. “I thank you for your time, sir. I will see you again.”

He handed the phone to Aron and walked off. As the soldiers moved in, Gavin wondered if he should continue to wait for Ayanna or head back to the President’s Palace and reunite with Eva, Sorin, and Mina. The decision was made for him, though, when he spotted Ayanna from not too far off.

“Gavin!” Ayanna said.

She ran up to Gavin and caught her breath. The Iiayikohnian military had arrived and followed the Ameci forces toward the palace.

“Nice to see you again,” Gavin said. “How is he?”

“He’s as talkative as ever,” she replied.

“About the same, then.”

“Where are the others?” Ayanna asked. “Are they okay?”

“They should be fine,” Gavin answered. “I have a feeling that they’ve already reunited with who they were looking for.”

“So you don’t know if they’re okay, do you?”

Gavin shifted his eyes over to the palace. “All I can say is that Wihll is dead,” he said. “As long as that man and Lokke are out, the rest of the remaining True Thekohnians will fall.”

Ayanna looked at the bullet hole in Gavin’s coat. “No blood?”

“Unbelievable,” he replied as he pulled Law’s diary out. “If I told anyone else that it was because of this book that I survived a direct gunshot, they’d laugh in my face!”

“I doubt that even he’d expect that,” Ayanna said, “But he was thinking of you, after all.”

“Guess there’s no use debating it,” Gavin said. “I suppose I should head back to the palace and see what’s taking them so long.”

“I’ll go with you,” Ayanna said.

They headed off back to the palace, hoping that Sorin, Eva, and Mina had met up with Kirk and Henry. With most of the threats taken care of, it seemed that there was only one thing to worry about now: President Rhodes.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 14 – Part 2

[2740 AD; President’s Palace – Outer Courtyard West]

 

“He’s here,” Gavin said. “Show yourself, Victor Wihll!”

Gavin was the first one to reach the outer courtyard, with Eva right behind him. Sorin and Mina arrived last as Sorin saw the gate to the inner courtyard had been opened. On the other side stood the man they were looking for, as Wihll anticipated their arrival.

“It’s too late,” Wihll said. “A massacre has taken place.”

“No,” Eva said, “This can’t be true…”

Wihll grinned. “I’ve checked all over,” he said, “So many guards dead, as well as some of my fellow men. What an unfortunate ending!”

“Where’s Lokke?” Eva asked.

“Oh, funny you should ask that,” Wihll said. “I found him bathing in a pool of blood and water amongst some of the other True Thekohnians. A rather gruesome misfortune, I’d say.”

“He’s dead,” Sorin said. “Now the only one left is you.”

“What a fool you are, kid,” Wihll replied. “I’ve already won. Lokke is dead and soon Rhodes will be as well!”

“And then what?” Eva asked. “You will get what you want, but at what cost? Your head is going to be what they’re after, and you can’t keep running forever.”

“Lokke thinks that it was because of him that the True Thekohnians became powerful, but he was wrong,” Wihll said. “I’m a man with a vision, and that vision will be shared all across this worthless land!”

“Your vision is tainted, Victor Wihll,” Gavin said. “A man with blood in his eyes only sees red.”

“Don’t make me into a blind fool,” Wihll responded. “I can see full and clear now that those who betrayed me are dead. Lokke, Rhodes… even that worthless Ghillard stood no chance against my knife.”

Eva reached for the handle of her sword. “It was you!?”

“You bastard!” Sorin exclaimed.

Wihll laughed out loud. “Ah, so you’re the woman that was taking care of Belkley Ghillard,” he said. “It’s such a shame that he turned out to be a mere rat, isn’t it?”

“What you did was unforgivable,” Eva muttered.

“Oh, he put up a resistance, that much was certain,” Wihll said. “But I was way too quick for him, and my knife was quicker. Only fitting that a backstabber gets stabbed in the back, right?”

Eva did not respond. Instead, she drew her blade and rushed at Wihll. The swift steel went through Wihll’s abdomen, emerging out of the back as Wihll was taken by surprise. His eyes widened and he let out a wicked wail as he eyed the woman standing below him.

Sorin’s hands shook. “Holy shit…”

“Eva!” Mina said.

Wihll gasped, coughing as blood spilled from his mouth. “You bitch!”

He delivered a backhand to Eva’s face, but she still hung onto her blade. Eva turned the blade, making Wihll tremble on his feet and cough up even more blood.

“You… you think… that this makes you better than me?” Wihll asked. “You’re no different than me!”

Eva looked up at Wihll. “Maybe that’s true,” she said, “But there is a big difference between us.”

Wihll coughed again. “What do you mean?”

“You will die!” Eva replied.

She pulled her sword out of Wihll. The quick removal caused him to emit a terrorizing scream as he dropped to the ground. His apparent wound showed up on his uniform with a large bloodstain in the middle. Wihll lay there with his eyes open and mouth agape as Eva withdrew her sword.

“Are you hurt, Eva?” Sorin asked.

“Not physically,” she replied.

“I’m really sorry, Eva,” Mina said. “If it were me in your shoes, I don’t know what I would have done.”

“Mina, it’s okay,” Eva replied. “Let’s just keep moving.”

They walked past Wihll’s body and into the courtyard. It was as Victor said: multiple corpses were lying around the area. Mina looked away as Gavin just shook his head.

“Unbelievable,” he said.

“The doors are just ahead,” Eva said. “Gavin, Sorin, I want you behind me when we enter. Mina?”

“Yes?” Mina asked.

“I’m sorry that you had to see that,” Eva replied. “All of this, actually. This has all been so senseless.”

“It’s… it’s okay, Eva,” Mina said. “All of us need to be strong now. I… I can cry later when this is all over.”

“And I’ll be there for you,” Eva said. “Anyway, this is the only place left.”

“If they’re not here, then what?” Sorin asked.

“We won’t know until we find out,” Eva answered. “Let’s waste no more time here and go inside.”

She opened the doors and headed in. Mina walked after her and so did Sorin. Gavin headed in, but took one last look at the courtyard behind him. It was a bloody battle, indeed, but he noticed one thing missing. Rather, it was one person. It did not make sense, though, because Gavin saw it happen right before his eyes. That’s when it hit him.

“You can’t be serious!” Gavin exclaimed. “Go on ahead, I’m going to catch up with you later!”

He ran off in the direction of the gate to where Wihll once lay and found that his body was not there anymore. Gavin looked around, trying to find out where Wihll’s body went. On the ground, Gavin saw a small trail of blood off to his right. He followed the trail until he ended up at the other entrance to the President’s Palace and found that the doors had been opened.

“Shit,” Gavin said. “This can’t be happening.”

He ran up the stairs, pulling out his pistol as he went inside. It was a familiar, yet gruesome scene with the amount of dead guards inside. Gavin kept his head up and saw Wihll standing at the other end of the hall. Wihll did not appear to notice Gavin as he was facing another pair of doors, closed shut as Wihll banged his fist upon them.

“Open these doors, damn you!” Wihll shouted.

He rested his hand on the door, with his other clutching his bleeding abdomen. As Wihll did, Gavin took a look around the room: the bloody walls led up to the ceiling where a large chandelier hung. The portraits of President Rhodes laid at the floor as Gavin moved further past the columns.

Wihll banged on the door again. “I will break this fucking door down and kill you myself if it’s the last thing I do, Rhodes!”

“If anyone’s going to die here, it’s going to be you,” Gavin said. “Prepare to die you piece of shit!”

Gavin shot at Wihll, who turned around to see the bullet coming at him. Within less than a second, Wihll moved over to the side and missed the bullet meant for his head. The two men stared at one another with silence hanging in the air, Wihll’s understated breathing notwithstanding. A mere yard separated them as Gavin kept his aim on Wihll.

“This next shot won’t miss,” Gavin said. “If you have any prayers, it’s best to say them now.”

“The only one who’s going to be praying is you,” Wihll said.

He thrust his hand forward, shoving Gavin backwards. Wihll proceeded to make a break for it as Gavin tried to find his footing. It was too late for Gavin, though, as Wihll rushed up to one of the bodies and took a gun for himself.

“After all, it’s not fair if only one man has a gun, right?” Wihll asked. “I’m going to kill you, and then I’m going to kill the rest of them… And after that, I’m burning this whole palace to the fucking ground!”

Wihll cackled, with the frequent cough stopping him before he went on again. Gavin took a deep breath and aimed once more.

“I don’t care how you’ve managed to survive being stabbed,” Gavin said, “Nor do I even care about what you plan to do. What I care about is destroying you and proving once and for all that I, Gavin Power, am the best marksman to walk this earth!”

 

The west wing of the palace was empty as Eva looked ahead at a single golden door. It was much more dim than anyone had expected, as Sorin tried not to bump into anything.

“It’s too quiet,” Mina said.

A lone, muffled gunshot came from the distance. Everybody looked around to see where it came from, but there was no one else inside the wing. Sorin sighed as he and Mina caught up with Eva at the golden door.

“That gunshot,” Sorin said, “I have an extremely bad feeling about this.”

“We have no choice but to go on ahead,” Eva said.

“I’m worried, too,” Mina said. “Especially with Gavin. I don’t want to have another person die here today!”

Eva sighed. “Neither do I,” she said, “But it happens. We just have to hope things turn out well.”

She reached for the doorknob and turned it. The knob creaked in the quiet hall as Eva pulled the door open. What awaited the three was another empty hallway that led deeper into the palace.

“How big is this place?” Mina asked.

“Seems like we’ll have to keep going to find out,” Eva replied.

Sorin took a deep breath and exhaled. “Please, father, just be okay,” he said. “Henry and Gavin, too…”

As they continued further down the hall, passing by an occasional portrait of President Llywelyn Rhodes, Eva drew her sword. Sorin did the same as Mina hurried behind him. With the door close by, Eva used her free hand to open it but found that the door was locked.

Eva placed her hand on the door. “Damn it!”

“Is this a dead end?” Sorin asked.

“Hold on,” Eva said as she placed her ear on the door, “I can hear people talking. It might be Kirk and Henry.”

Sorin put away his sword and moved closer. “Really?”

“There’s another voice,” Eva said. “An older man… Most likely Rhodes at this point.”

She pressed her ear against the painted wood. The muffled voices of Kirk, Henry, and Rhodes were all she could hear.

“What are they talking about?” Mina asked.

“I can’t really tell,” Eva replied. “I’m hearing another voice on the other side, too, but I don’t know who it might belong to.”

“We can’t really find out right here, can we?” Sorin asked. “This door is locked; it’s practically a dead end!”

“I suppose we’ll have to turn back,” Eva said. “There should be another entrance.”

“Eva, wait,” Mina said. “That won’t be necessary at all!”

“What are you talking about, Mina?” Eva asked.

Mina pumped her fist. “Have you never heard the old saying? When one door closes, you just have to bust it open!”

Eva shook her head. “You can’t be serious…”

“Stand back, you two!” Mina exclaimed. “Watch as Mighty Mina performs a heroic act of heroism!”

She charged at the door as Eva stepped aside. With a fist thrust forward, Mina connected with the door. She struck the door as hard as she could with her fist, creating a hole in the middle of the door. Mina reached for the doorknob and unlocked it.

“That door looked sturdy, too,” Sorin said. “How is that possible?”

“It’s possible because I made it happen!” Mina replied. “There is no door or person that can withstand one of my punches!”

“We don’t have time to think about it,” Eva said, “Just open the damn door already!”

Mina blushed. “Oh, sorry!”

She opened the door wide and rushed into the hallway, with Eva and Sorin following after her. They were that much closer to reuniting with Kirk and Henry as they moved down the final hall to the president’s room.

 

[2740 AD; Outside of Bel, Maeitakohn – Ayanna’s troop]

 

“What’s the situation, Dierk?” Ayanna asked.

“Looks like a clear road ahead,” the bespectacled soldier answered.

The soldier drove the rest of the troop to Bel, with several other troops following behind them. Ayanna, ready for whatever happened next, armed herself with two guns and a sword. The other soldiers did the same. They were only a little over 50 kilometers from the city limits, prepared for the next step to be taken.

“Major Ansa, our mission seems tough,” Dierk said. “Even for us, the True Thekohnians snuck in when we least expected.”

“Soldier, regardless of what has happened, we will succeed,” Ayanna said. “They’re cornered, with nowhere else to go now. The True Thekohnians might have struck us first, but they will not win because they are outnumbered.”

“Well, I hope you’re right,” Dierk said.

Ayanna looked out the window. “I hope I am, too.”

She thought about what Gavin and the rest of his group were doing, and if they managed to survive. Ayanna assumed that they would have found a way to survive, but until she made it into Bel, there was no way for her to know. All she had to do was have faith in them to try and stop Wihll before it was too late.

“Gavin, I really hope you and the others are okay,” Ayanna said to herself, “Just please survive, that’s all I ask of you.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 14 – Part 1

[2740 AD; President’s Palace – Outer Courtyard South]

 

A single, thin beam of light appeared before Henry. He tapped Kirk on he arm and pointed at the light.

“Looks like we finally have a way out,” Kirk said. “I was wondering when we were ever going to get out of this sewer.”

“Where do you think it leads?” Henry asked.

“There’s only one way to find out.”

Henry placed his hand above him, feeling the manhole cover above him. He started to move it, lifting it up off of its position and placing it aside. Placing a hand at either side, Henry started to climb out of the sewer.

“One thing,” Kirk said.

“What’s that?”

Kirk sighed. “We don’t know what we’re heading into,” he replied. “Keep your head up.”

“Thank you,” Henry said.

“Don’t think of it as me forgiving you or anything like that.”

“I understand.”

Henry climbed out of the sewer and saw where he was. Kirk jumped up as well, looking around to see all of the trees and flora in the courtyard. It would have been even more beautiful, but the rain was still coming down with no end in sight. In front of them stood a wrecked metal gate.

“They beat us to the palace,” Kirk said. “I’m worried about what’s going to happen next.”

“If Lokke is here, then we have no choice,” Henry said, “We have to keep moving, no matter what the cost.”

“Seems like that’s the plan, then,” Kirk said. “I’m certain that they’ll be heading in soon, anyway.”

Henry and Kirk walked past the mangled gate and into the inner courtyard of the palace. Before them lay several guards, all dead. Henry stepped back as Kirk walked forward to check the bodies.

“These wounds,” Kirk said as he turned over one of the bodies, “They’re not gunshots.”

Henry looked and saw that it was indeed true. A large gash ran across the man’s chest, with blood still pouring out of him. Another man met a similar fate, with a stab wound on both his front and his back. With each consecutive body, it was clear that these guards were stabbed and slashed to death.

“This is the True Thekohnians’s work?” Henry asked.

“I don’t know,” Kirk answered. “I wish could say, but these are all wounds that were created with a blade.”

“I think we have a different problem now, though,” Henry said.

From the front and the back, several True Thekohnians were surrounding them. Lokke was with them, too, as he stepped forward. Kirk took out his sword while Henry took out his knives as they prepared themselves for what would happen next.

“Please,” Lokke said, “You really think you can fight your way out of this? How exactly do you expect to survive?”

“Did you kill those guards?” Henry asked.

“It wasn’t us,” Lokke replied. “Seems like there is another out there…”

“You lie!” Kirk said. “You got here first!”

Lokke shook his head. “That may be the case, but I was not the one who ordered those men dead,” he said. “It might have been that snake Wihll, though.”

He laughed and wiped the water from his forehead. Kirk took one step forward as Henry followed up.

“It doesn’t matter what he’s done, though,” Lokke continued, “I’ll be sure to reprimand him harshly once we’re done here. Right now, however, I think your time is up.”
“You’re not getting away with this!” Kirk exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, but it appears that I am,” Lokke said.

Kirk growled and ran forward as several henchmen came in to defend Lokke. They were all armed with swords as Kirk swung his in defense. Henry ran up, ducking and dodging the swords as he came in close to deliver a few swipes at the henchmen before him. Some of them backed off to collect themselves while others continued to fight the duo.

“Take this!” Henry said.

He threw a left hook at one of the men, knocking him to the ground while with his right he stabbed another in the arm. Henry threw the man to the ground, taking out his knife in the process.

Meanwhile, Kirk knocked away another man’s sword to the side and shoved him to the ground. One of the last few men charged at Kirk, hoping to score a hit on the long haired man. It proved to be effortless as Kirk moved out of the way just in time.

“You just missed me!” Kirk said.

However, it was an unfortunate misstep for Kirk as his foot landed on its side. A sharp pain went through Kirk’s foot as he stumbled to the ground, making him drop his sword. He let out a scream, clutching onto his aching foot.

Henry turned around. “Kirk!”

“Damn it,” Kirk said. “I didn’t expect my leg to fail me now!”

“Too bad for you,” Lokke said. “You put up a good fight, but now is the time for a new era to begin. A new empire, with me as the emperor!”

Henry looked to Kirk, who was still on the ground holding onto his foot. They were cornered, with no possible way to get out. As Lokke laughed once more, a loud howl filled the air, followed by a scream. Some of the True Thekohnians looked around, trying the find the source as a relentless slice cut through a couple of the henchmen.

“What the hell!?” Lokke asked. “Who are you?”

He took a look at the man standing above the two bloodied True Thekohnian henchmen. The messy beard and long hair was enough of a signal for Lokke to realize who he was talking to.

Lokke trembled. “Rysol Wilk,” he said, “But I thought that you were…”

“Funny thing,” Rysol said, “You stab a man in the back, don’t be surprised he stabs back even harder.”

He brandished his blood covered sword, the rain washing off some of it as he moved in on Lokke. With Rysol coming towards him, Lokke attempted to have some of his henchmen guard him, but they proved to be no match as Rysol charged at all of them, slicing and slashing through them. Henry sat Kirk up as the both of them watched as Rysol tore through every last one of the True Thekohnians standing there.

“How!?” Lokke said. “How do you keep going and going!? It’s impossible!”

“It is a redress to the suffering you have caused all these years, Walton Lokke,” Rysol replied. “You are a disease.”

“After all I’ve done for you, you want me dead?” Lokke asked.

“I’m only doing what you claimed to be about,” Rysol said, “This will make everything right, isn’t that so?”

Rysol’s sword pointed at Lokke. “Listen,” Lokke said, “I think you’re making a big mistake…”

His words were interrupted as Rysol ran his blade through Lokke’s neck. Lokke coughed up blood as Rysol removed his sword at an agonizing and slow pace, making sure that Lokke would suffer every second of it. Blood spurted out of Lokke as he fell to the ground on top of one of his henchmen, his body not moving at all.

“The only mistake I’ve made was not killing you sooner,” Rysol said. “Before they decided to lock you up.”

Kirk attempted to stand up, but due to his foot he could not. Henry helped him back up, with Kirk reluctant but doing so anyway.

“Son, you saved us,” Kirk said. “I’ve been looking for you for years…”

Rysol clutched his forehead. “Father… I… I did it, didn’t I?”

“You do recognize me,” Kirk said. “I’m glad to hear that.”

“Why do you follow me?” Rysol asked. “After what I’ve done…”

“Because, Rysol, it has been a long time,” Kirk answered, “A long time since we were a family. That’s why I’m here.”

“Sorin… he’s here,” Rysol said. “He’s here… isn’t he?”

“I don’t know,” Kirk said, “But I would guess he’s figured some of this out by now.”

“What do you have to do with Lokke?” Henry asked.

Rysol coughed, kneeling down as he covered his mouth. “Gah… this rain, it truly won’t let up will it?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Kirk said. “You stopped Lokke.”

“This… this isn’t over,” Rysol said. “There’s a reason why the True Thekohnians wanted to come to the palace, and I intend to find out!”

“Wait!” Kirk said.

He tried to move forward, but his leg hindered him once more. Rysol ran off in the direction of the palace, his sword in hand while Kirk and Henry struggled after him. Rysol sprinted at the doors to the palace and busted them open.

“President Rhodes is in there,” Kirk said. “Past those doors… We need to stop Rysol before he does the unthinkable!”

“Okay,” Henry said. “Let’s keep going.”

“Henry, thank you,” Kirk said. “If you hadn’t tagged along, then I would have met my end back there.”

“Please don’t thank me,” Henry said. “It’s your son you should thank.”

“I still have a lot I want to say to him, you know.”

“Like what?”

“Personal stuff,” Kirk replied. “You should understand.”

Henry nodded. “I won’t ask again.”

They walked up to the steps, looking up at the open doors leading into the palace. Inside they could see the golden walls of the main hall. On the ground lay even more wounded guards, blood splattered on the walls and floor around.

“This was all him,” Kirk said. “I can’t believe it…”

“Are you okay?” Henry asked.

“I’m not,” Kirk replied. “I wasn’t back there, and I certainly am not feeling well now…”

“I don’t know what I can say.”

“Henry, please, he’s not yours to worry about.”

“Damn it, Kirk, let me worry!” Henry said. “I worried about you all those years ago when we were allies for the same reason I am now! Rysol is… He has gone mad.”

“Whatever happens, he’s still my son,” Kirk said. “Even if he has killed a thousand men, women, and children, Rysol is still my son.”

As Henry and Kirk stepped forward, they heard the scream of an older man coming from down the hall. With one look around, Kirk saw Rysol standing in front of another figure.

“Hurry!” Kirk said. “I can still talk sense into him!”

Henry helped Kirk through the hall, moving around the dying men before them. There was no time to check on them, as Kirk had only one goal in mind: stopping Rysol. With each step, the voices grew louder as Kirk recognized the voice of the older man.

“The president,” Kirk said. “Rysol, abstain yourself!”

Rysol turned his head away from President Llywelyn Rhodes. Rhodes placed a hand on his chest and sighed in relief as Henry and Kirk stumbled into the president’s room.

“You don’t understand,” Rysol said. “Rhodes is a ruthless man. He is the real leader of them.”

“The real leader?” Henry asked. “Maeitakohn, yes, but what do you mean?”

“The True Thekohnians… Rhodes is the real leader,” Rysol answered.

Kirk looked over at Rhodes. The man with full, gray hair had his eyes wide open the entire time. His breathing increased as he had his hands out and open in front of Rysol.

“It’s a mistake!” Rhodes exclaimed. “I’ve… It’s a set-up! They’ve set me up to take the fall!”

“You’ve been responsible for the mistreatment of your citizens,” Kirk said. “What makes you think that I would believe that?”

“Do you want the real answer?” Rhodes asked. “It’s complicated.”

“Speak,” Rysol said. “I’ll decide whether or not you’ll get to live after.”

“Thank you,” Rhodes said as he cleared his throat. “I’m sorry… It’s been an agonizing past few months for me. The cancer has been getting much worse.”

Rysol swung his sword at Rhodes. “Don’t you dare try and sell me that sorry excuse of a story!”

“It’s the truth,” Rhodes said, “Just ask my doctors. It’s all been kept a secret for a very good reason.”

“We believe you,” Kirk said. “What I want to know is why you’ve been putting the citizens of Maeitakohn through so much. There are few safe places within Bel, and much of the land is barren.”

“I have no explanation,” Rhodes replied. “I could not care any less about what happens to these people. All I care about is finding a way out of this.”

“What are you talking about?” Henry asked.

“I never wanted any of this,” Rhodes said. “I was only put here by Foundation after the War of the Lands ended. They needed someone to do their bidding, and I was desperate to make some money.”

“Foundation, is it,” Kirk said, “I’ve heard of them before. Seems like you owe us a big explanation.”

Rhodes coughed. “Is that so,” he said. “It’s looking like the end is near, so I might as well before the big guns come running in.”

He walked up to his desk and took a seat. With a weak cough, Rhodes sat up and took a deep breath.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Chapter 13 – Part 3

[2740 AD; on the roads through the outskirts of Bel, Maeitakohn]

 

The rain proved to be a challenge early on for Sorin, but he soon got the hang of the roads as he drove down with little to worry about. It came across as peculiar for him that there was not at least a few cars driving out of the city, but for the rest of the group it did not matter.

“You’ve been getting the hang of this so far, haven’t you?” Gavin asked.

Sorin angled his head to the back seat. “How far do you think we are from Bel now, Eva?”

“The last sign said about ten kilometers,” she replied. “I think that was about five minutes ago…”

“That close, then?” Mina asked. “Wow, Sorin, you’re a really good driver! You didn’t even crash once!”

“What are you saying by that?” Sorin asked. “Did you expect me to drive off the road or something!?”

“No, it’s just that I’ve never been on a trip this long before,” Mina replied. “I… I was kind of scared that something bad might have happened.”

Sorin blinked. “What?”

“That doesn’t sound very heroic, but it’s true,” she said. “I’ve never really admitted my fears to anyone, mostly because any villain could use those things I fear against me.”

“Your secret is safe with us,” Eva said.

“Thanks, Eva,” Mina said. “Hey, Sorin, are you slowing down?”

“You’re asking me?” Sorin asked.

He checked the meter and saw that the car was almost out of fuel. The car decelerated as the rain kept pouring harder. Sorin was left at a loss as he couldn’t keep the car going, and pulled to the side.

“Are you serious?” Sorin asked. “They didn’t give us a full tank?”

Gavin pounded the dashboard and turned his head to Sorin. “You didn’t even fucking notice we were low on fuel!?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry isn’t enough, asshole!” Gavin shouted. “I’m going to kick your ass right now! Let’s go!”

“Calm down, Gavin,” Eva said. “Otherwise I will make you do it myself.”

“Like hell I will!”

Eva glared at him. Her stare was enough to signal to Gavin that she was serious. Defeated, Gavin kept quiet and reclined in his seat.

“It looks like we’ll have to walk the rest of the way, then,” Eva said. “I was hoping we could avoid this, but we’ll have to brave it in the elements.”

“Oh, that’s fine with me,” Mina said. “I used to play out and even fight in the rain all the time when I was younger! You guys aren’t scared of it, are you?”

“Well, you told us you were scared of crashing earlier,” Sorin said.

Mina punched Sorin’s shoulder. “That’s a secret,” she said, “So please don’t bring it up again! Please!”

“Ow, sorry,” he replied. “That really does hurt, though…”

“That wasn’t even a hard punch,” Mina said.

Sorin turned to her. “It wasn’t!?”

She shook her head. “You’ve never fought hand to hand before, have you? Maybe I should show you sometime how hard I can really punch!”

“I’ll just take your word for it,” Sorin said as he rubbed his shoulder. “That does smart, though…”

“Are we going to get out or not?” Gavin asked.

“We have to,” Eva replied. “Luckily for us, we’re not that far.”

Sorin smiled. “Maybe it’s your brother’s luck that’s rubbing off on us, Gavin,” he said.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Gavin said. “Let’s just go already.”

The four got out of the car, doing their best not to get caught in the rain and they began dashing towards the entrance to the city. Eva was quick enough to get in front and led the way, with Gavin close behind. In third, Sorin trailed behind while Mina brought up the rear. The rain kept falling, but it was not nearly as hard as it was when Sorin was driving.
“Come on!” Eva commanded. “Don’t lag behind me now!”

Soaked from head to toe, Sorin took a deep breath and put his head down. He started to pick up speed, catching up to Gavin. Gavin looked aside as Sorin kept moving, his legs carrying him as he went ahead. Mina took a look at what Sorin did and proceeded to do the same, running as hard as she could until she caught up with Gavin as well.

“Oh hell no,” Gavin said, “I am not about to have you two surpass me right here! Watch your ass, Sorin Wilk!”

Gavin proceeded to run harder, moving from left to right as he ended up in between Sorin and Mina. Despite their competition, it was still Eva in the front as no one seemed to out run her.

“Neither of you are going to leave me in the dust!” Mina said. She reached out her arm to Sorin, who had at this point been running a steady beat against Gavin.

Sorin looked on at her arm in bewilderment. “Mina, what are you doing?”

“Getting ahead of you!”

Mina thrust her hand into Sorin’s chest, pushing him back as she propelled herself forward. Feeling the force of her hand, Sorin stumbled and started to slow down while Gavin went ahead of him. Through parted breaths, Sorin gritted his teeth and started running after them.

“Give it up, Sorin!” Gavin yelled.

“I’m not going to give up,” Sorin replied. “Not as long as I still have a job to do! Watch this!”

He resumed running, trying to catch up with Gavin. If Sorin could not get ahead of Mina, the very least he could do would be to outrun Gavin, he thought. The gate to the city was getting close as Sorin ran hard enough to come back head to head with Gavin once more.

“This is it, Gavin,” Sorin said, “This is the moment where I’ll pass you!”

“Bring it!”

As the two raced each other to Bel, Mina was coming closer to Eva. She never expected that she’d be able to outrun Gavin, but Eva was a big surprise. It would probably be a question that Mina would have to ask later, but she just wanted to be first.

“Eva!” Mina exclaimed. “I’m going to win! You’ll see! I’m going to win! I’m going to win…”

It was no use, as Eva ran past the open gate and entered the city. She had clearly won the “race,” turning around to see Mina bent over trying to catch her breath. Sorin and Gavin were next as they both entered at the same time.

“I win,” Gavin said, “So suck it!”

“You didn’t win,” Sorin said. “We were both running at the same time.”

Sorin then dropped to his knees, realizing that he had used most of his energy to keep up with Gavin. Gavin tried to speak up, but he had little energy to do so. Eva sighed.

“This wasn’t a race,” she said. “Have you all forgotten what we’re doing here? Please tell me you at least remember that.”

“I can take a break to show a fool like Sorin Wilk who’s the boss,” Gavin said. “As for Victor Wihll, he’s a fool I’m going to break.”

“How are you not tired?” Mina asked Eva. “You were running so fast; I had no way of passing you!”

“I’m just naturally quick,” Eva replied. “Let’s go find some shelter for now so you three can catch your breaths.”

 

Under the roof of the smithy close by, Sorin looked out of the door to see that the rain was still falling. He had just finished drying his face off with a towel, and was busy letting his hair dry. Gavin approached him, sighing as he gave Sorin a pat on the back.

“You gave me a good scare,” he said. “There might be some hope for you after all.”

“Thanks,” Sorin said.

“Always have to take humble, don’t you?” Gavin asked. “Just what is this all about for you, Sorin Wilk?”

“I told you, didn’t I?”

“I suppose you did,” Gavin replied. “If your intuition tells you that he’s here, then he is here.”

“Here’s hoping that you’re right, Gavin,” Sorin said.

“Are you two ready?” Eva asked. “It looks like the rain is starting to calm down now.”

“It is?” Mina asked. “I kind of like having it rain outside… It’s as if we’re setting up for an epic battle!”

“Try to stay focused, Mina,” Eva said. “I know you’re excited to get back out there and start kicking ass, but that’s no reason to lose sight of why we’re here!”

“I know!” Mina replied. “That’s why I’m so excited! I feel like busting down a wall!”

“Just try not to do it here,” Sorin said, “Because I don’t think the owner would be really happy.”

“I’m not actually going to break a wall down,” Mina said, “I was just using an expression! Now let’s go! Go!”

With her enthusiastic command, the four left the shop and headed back out onto the streets. Eva stepped foot onto the slick sidewalk, looking around as she led Sorin, Gavin, and Mina to the east. They ran through the rain, trying not to stumble across the wet path.

“Where are we going?” Sorin asked.

“There’s a plaza on the way to the palace,” Eva replied. “If my hunch is correct, Kirk and Henry should be there.”

Sorin kept his head up. “Why?”

“Because,” Eva said, “I’m almost certain that the True Thekohnians’s next attack will be at the palace.”

“It’s gonna be hard for them to follow up their last trick,” Gavin said. “What exactly is their plan of attack here?”

“I don’t know,” Eva said, “But we have to help stop it.”

“Please hold on,” Sorin muttered.

“Did you say something, Sorin?” Mina asked.

“Nothing,” Sorin said. “We need to keep moving.”

 

At the Rhodes Plaza, Eva was the first to arrive, with the other three stopping right behind her. A single member of the True Thekohnians was standing in the rain. Victor Wihll. He was completely drenched, his hair messed up from what the rain did to it.

“Someone has arrived, haven’t they?” Wihll asked.

He turned around, a scowl upon his face as his eyes widened. Gavin took out his pistol and aimed it at Wihll. With a gun trained on him, Wihll’s scowl turned to a frightening smile. He started to laugh as Gavin kept his aim on him.

“Please,” Wihll said, “If you were as hard as you looked, you would’ve shot me by now.”

“Answer me this, Wihll,” Gavin said, “Why did you try to kill my brother?”

“Your brother?”

“Don’t fucking play with me!” Gavin exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Mina said, “Answer his question! Why did you hurt Law!?”

“Ah yes, that annoying man,” Wihll said. “I take it he survived? I guess I’m losing my touch.”

Gavin tightened the grip on his gun.

“Are you going to shoot me or not?” Wihll asked.

“Not until you answer my question,” Gavin answered.

“Persistent, aren’t you?” Wihll asked. “That’s a good trait to have. Unfortunately, it’s also why I wanted him dead. That, and he was in my way.”

“In your way?” Mina asked. “You’re nothing but a coward! All this talk about trying to end destruction was a lie! Eva told us about that Lokke guy!”

Wihll raised his eyebrow. “Lokke? Don’t make me laugh, little girl. I couldn’t care less about what happens to that greedy piece of shit. The only reason I worked with him was to let his guard down.”

“What for?” Sorin asked.

“What for? For my people,” Wihll replied. “This is my home country. Are you aware of what happened twelve years ago?”

“Fully aware,” Eva replied.

“It still doesn’t excuse the things you’ve done!” Gavin said.

Wihll turned around. He embraced the rain as he set his eyes on a distant building.

“The president’s palace,” Wihll said, “It’s where it all going to go to down. I suppose Lokke’s already there by now chasing after a couple of pests.”

Eva clenched her fist. “Kirk and Henry…”

“Looks like you aren’t going to shoot,” Wihll said. “If you really want to stop us, then meet me at the palace. We’ll give you a warm welcome!”

Wihll ran off and jumped up over the railing, falling onto the platform below. He made his way for the president’s palace, leaving Gavin at a loss for words. Gavin withdrew his gun and growled, throwing his fists into the air and rain as Sorin tried to calm him down.

“Get the fuck away from me!” Gavin yelled. “I had him, damn it!”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Gavin,” Eva said. “He did tell us where Lokke is, and that’s important. Still, it’s going to be tough getting in there.”

“The president’s palace would have to be heavily guarded, wouldn’t it?” Sorin asked.

“We’ll see,” Eva said. “If what Wihll said is true, then the True Thekohnians are already at the palace.”

“Do you even think they’ve already taken over it?” Mina asked.

“It’s doubtful,” Eva replied. “They don’t have nearly enough power to do something like that.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Gavin said, “Because the next time we meet Wihll, I will beat him! No hesitation!”

“We’ve heard where he’s going,” Sorin said. “So, we’re going to go then, Eva?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“Then let’s do it!” Mina said.

“As long as we take caution,” Eva said.

With the destination set, the four made their way off deeper into the city where the president’s palace sat. Sorin looked on, determined to meet with his father again once more. Perhaps even Rysol was there as well, but Sorin just had to make it there first and help make sure that chaos would not happen.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Chapter 13 – Part 2

[2740 AD; Rhodes Plaza in the Callitris District – Bel, Maeitakohn]

 

Kirk and Henry hustled up the steps of the plaza, trying not to slip on the slick surface standing before them. The rain showed no sign of stopping anytime soon, as the two men tried to find a place to hide.

“Why didn’t you do it, Henry?” Kirk asked. “You should have done it when you had the chance!”

“I’m not going to kill him just because you asked me to,” Henry replied as he spotted a nearby tunnel. “Over there!”

He led Kirk over to the tunnel below, away from their pursuers. With the rain continuing, the tunnel provided them not only a temporary hiding place but a place to dry off as well.

“This only makes things more complicated,” Kirk said. “I guess I expected too much from you.”

“Sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing?” Kirk asked. “We’re not done yet, not by any means. I still have someone I need to find.”

“It’s been many years, Kirk,” Henry said, “You think Rysol’s still alive and in this country? Even now?”

“He and Sorin are the only real family I have left,” Kirk replied. “I have to try… I have to keep moving. Wasn’t that your motto?”

“It was,” Henry replied. “If that’s the case, then I want to help you find him. It’s the least that I could do.”

“Oh, don’t give me your pity,” Kirk said. “Not from you of all people.”

“I’m not pitying you,” Henry said, “If anyone should be pitied, it’s me. I’m offering you my help.”

Kirk closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then, he reached out a hand to Henry. “If that’s the case,” he said, “Then I suppose I can accept your help… At least until we find Rysol.”

“Thank you,” Henry said.

“This is only temporary,” Kirk said. “After we’re done here, I’m done with you.”

Henry shook Kirk’s hand. “I understand,” he said. “So what exactly makes you think that Rysol is here?”

“It’s a hunch,” Kirk answered. “That sounds preposterous, I know, but everything I’ve done up to this point in searching for him has led me here. Perhaps it’s because the gods above are telling me to come here?”

“I can’t say I know exactly what you’re feeling,” Henry said, “But I’m willing to believe you.”

“I don’t need you to believe in me,” Kirk responded. “I just need to believe that I can face Sorin again once I’ve found Rysol.”

“Well, that part I can relate,” Henry said. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop raining anytime soon, is it?”

“Seems like we have two options,” Kirk said, “Either wait until they find us, or we make a break for it.”

Kirk placed a hand on his chin and closed his eyes. Henry peered out of the tunnel once more, seeing a couple members of the True Thekohnians run through the plaza above. They splashed their way across the area, their footsteps emphasizing that they were getting closer. Kirk opened his eyes and let out a short sigh as he looked over to Henry.

“Looks like our choice has been made for us,” Kirk said. “We have to keep going.”

Henry looked deeper into the tunnel. It was dark and neither of them had any idea where it would lead them. Still, with enemy footsteps getting louder and splashing harder, Henry nodded to Kirk, who nodded back. They continued deeper into the narrow path, unsure of where it would lead them.

“Place your hand on the wall, Henry,” Kirk said. “You can still hear me, right?”

“Of course I can,” Henry answered.

He felt the cold surface of the wall beside him as he kept walking. Kirk was still ahead of him, or at least Henry assumed that he was still leading. As they moved forward, Henry took one more look behind him and saw a small light at the end that appeared to be getting larger.

“I think someone’s coming,” Henry said.

“That’s unfortunate,” Kirk said. “We’ve hit a dead end.”

“What do you mean?”

“Here,” Kirk said as he tapped the barrier before him. It was a solid knock that informed the both of them that they had reached the end of the line. The light at the other end was continuing to grow as the footsteps starting to get even louder.

Henry turned to Kirk. “Is there an exit?”

“What are you talking about?” Kirk asked. “Do you not feel the wall before you? We’re at a dead end here.”

“That’s bullshit,” Henry said. “I don’t believe that you’d give up like this. There has to be an exit here.”

Henry got on the floor and proceeded to feel out the wet ground, searching for any sort of cover or hatch that would lead them out of the dead end. He ran his hands all over the floor until he found a small gap in the ground, leading him to find a cover into the sewer.

“I’ve found something,” Henry said, “A manhole cover. Let’s go!”

“Certainly isn’t the best option,” Kirk said, “But I’ll take it. Open it up.”

Henry lifted off the manhole and placed it to the side. Kirk was the first to climb down, with Henry following after him. Henry then placed the lid back on and joined up with Kirk once more. They went forward into the sewer, looking for a way to find Rysol in the city.

 

[2740 AD; war room in the Ameci Embassy – Rezar, Iiayikohn]

 

Fercewend looked at the map laid out upon the table. Multiple coins were placed throughout the map, representing the military units from each country. There was an additional coin on the map as well, but this one had a red mark on it to represent the True Thekohnians. General Reiss and General Anker were also plotting on the map too, but were providing their own methods to their own respective armies via telephone. Fercewend thought to himself about what he’d do if Gavin Power did not succeed, but kept that thought away for now as he focused on the current method of attack. Looking at the phone before him, Rohan picked it up and began to dial. After one ring, the other end picked up and began to speak.

“This is Aaron Arrington,” the voice on the other end said, “The junior lieutenant of the Ameci Army and leader of troop 35. Who is this?”

“This is the general,” Fercewend replied. “What is your current position?”

“We’re located just outside of Bel,” Aron said. “It’s been raining for a while now, and it doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon.”

“Have you come in contact with Power?”

“I can’t say that we have,” Aron replied. “Are you expecting me to meet him, sir?”

“I don’t expect you to,” Fercewend said, “But if you do, then you two can work together. Just a forewarning: he is not alone.”

“Understood,” Aron said. “Is there anything else I should know or anything else that you want to know?”

“There is one thing,” Fercewend answered, “If there is no response from Power within the next two hours, then I want you and the rest of the troops to advance.”

“I will inform the others, then,” Aron said. “Sir?”

“What is it, Arrington?”

“I’m glad to serve under you, sir,” Aron replied. “It is the highest of honors for me and I’m grateful for it.”

“Your comments are appreciated, lieutenant,” Fercewend said.

“Thank you!” Aron said. “We will make sure not to let you down, sir!”

“Good to hear,” Fercewend said.

He said his goodbye to Aron and hung up the phone as Isaac walked in. Isaac appeared to be in high spirits, with a large smile on his face as he took a seat next to Rohan.

“Things are going well, aren’t they?” Isaac asked.

“They’re going as planned,” Fercewend replied. “At least for now, anyway. What are you doing here?”

“I’m just checking up on you, cousin. Is that so wrong?”

“Not at all,” Fercewend replied, “However, we are handling many lives here as I speak. Entering Bel is a tall task at this point, given the circumstances.”

“That it is,” Isaac said. “Perhaps we can do a little early celebration for all your hard work?”

Fercewend declined. “We have a job to do still,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to jeopardize this situation by prematurely celebrating before we have won.”

At that moment, Alan, Gale, and Tori walked into the room.

“Reiss, how are how are things going so far?” Alan asked.

“So far, so good,” Reiss replied.

“Good,” Alan said. “Rohan, I take it you’ve been handling things on your end as well?”

“Everything is going as we’ve planned it,” Fercewend replied.

“Excuse me, prime minister,” Isaac said, “But I was under the impression that this room was for handling this important event. Why are you bringing unrelated and unnecessary parties into this room?”

“That question could be asked of you, Mr. Kunigunde,” Alan replied.

“Should I go?” Gale asked.

“Stay,” Alan answered. “You are a related party in all of this. Would you not agree, Isaac?”

“I suppose that my say in the matter means nothing,” he replied. “If I were of a higher position, you would do well to listen to me.”

“Of course your opinion matters,” Fercewend said. “You have been an encouraging, if not helpful, voice during my stay here. The same can be said of the rest of you in this room.”

“Thank you,” Tori said.

“You are welcome, Tori,” Fercewend replied. “As for Henry, I am sure that he is okay. We will hopefully find him soon.”

“It’s good to hear you say that, Rohan,” Gale said. “Along with what you told me earlier… Thanks.”

“Should there be any other problem, Gale, then let me know,” Fercewend said. “I may not be able to answer all your questions, but do not hesitate to talk to me at any time during any of this.”

Isaac turned away, scoffing as he focused on the map. Alan took a seat next to Reiss while Gale sat down with Tori at the other end of the room. Unease still prevailed as the thought of what to do next remained in Fercewend’s mind. There was no time to make up a bad decision, because if there was a mistake, then everybody would be paying for it. Not just Rohan Fercewend.

 

To be continued…

 

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