Aurora – Chapter 42 (Part 1)

[Various dates, 2727 AD; Admorse, Ameci]


(Little Blood Raven’s Awakening)


Everything had happened so suddenly. The sudden shock in young Korbin’s eyes as he bare witness to the sight of the corpses of both his mother and his twin brother, Kormac, in the living room of his house. That day was the first time he had even seen a dead body and, unfortunately, it was the two people he was the closest with. It was all like a nightmare that seemed to have no beginning or end, with the time seemingly stopping as Korbin found it difficult to breathe. None of it even seemed real, but there they were, lying before him. His mother, lying dead on the ground void of air, while his brother was wide eyed, his neck snapped. It could not be real, Korbin denied.

“Shit, it looks like you’re already here,” Harold said. “I mean…  I’m sorry you had to see this.”

Korbin could not understand. His father looked calm as he bent down by him. His hand rested on Korbin’s shoulder as he tried not to cry. His father did not like to see him cry, which only resulted in pain and further crying. Korbin had to be strong for his father’s sake, lest he incur punishment.

“What you see here, Korbin, was an accident,” Harold said. “It was only an accident and nothing more. Do you understand?”

Korbin nodded, as it was the only response he could give. It was the only response he knew.

“I’m glad to see that you understand,” Harold replied. “I know it may look like something else, but I assure you that this was not my fault.”


“Not my fault,” Harold repeated. “You got that?”

Korbin gulped. “I… I got it…”

“Very good,” Harold said. “Now, this next part is going to be tricky, but if you do as I say, we’ll be able to forget about this. It’d be in our best interest for us to do so, so I’m going to need your help disposing of them.”

“D-Dispose?” Korbin asked.

“They’re dead now, so there’s nothing we can do,” Harold replied. “The best option is, of course, to make sure that no one can find them. We wouldn’t want anybody else to suffer the pain you’ve had to endure, now would we?”

“I guess so,” Korbin said.

“Good, good, now get up,” Harold said. “We’ll have to act fast if we don’t want to be seen by anybody else.”

Korbin did as he was told and went with his father in order to take care of the bodies. He still had trouble understanding everything, but complied because he knew he could not refuse an order from his father. It took everything Korbin had for him not to cry the entire drive to the river. Once they were there, they disposed of the bodies and left as fast as they had entered. From there, Korbin thought that the pain was finally over, but he had no idea what was in store for him in the coming days.




About a week later, Harold left Korbin with one of his trusted allies: a man by the name of Casper Bradley. It had been an experience that Korbin had not experienced before, but he felt like he had somewhere he could call home. He did want to ask his father where he was going, but Harold did not answer him. Soon enough, however, Korbin learned from Casper that his father had gone away for a few days and would be back later.

“You shouldn’t worry yourself too much, kid,” Casper said. “Your dad just needs to take care of some business with a friend of his.”

“When will he be back?” Korbin asked.

“I don’t know,” Casper replied. “All I know is that he’s with Mr. Kunigunde right now. They’re probably talking about a lot of stuff you don’t need to worry about.”

“I… Okay, I understand…”

“Now why don’t you go play with my son,” Casper said. “I’m sure you two will get along fine. Just try not to make a lot of ruckus, okay?”

Korbin nodded. He went outside and saw Crawford, who was busy looking at something by the bushes in the front yard. After Korbin asked about what he was doing, Crawford gave him a simple answer.

“I’m watching this little bird die,” Bradley said.

“Why?” Korbin asked.

“Because I want to,” Bradley replied. “Do you like it?”

Korbin hesitated to give a response. “I… I don’t know…”

“It’s just a weak little thing,” Bradley said. “Come on, maybe you should let it die. Oh, I’ve got an idea!”

He moved aside and let Korbin have a look for himself. It was exactly as Crawford described it: a small bird lying on the ground, writhing as it struggled to move its wings. A familiar liquid coated the creature as Crawford patted Korbin on the back. Something told Korbin that this was yet another situation that he had no way of stepping out of, so he began to wonder to himself. He wondered if it was all normal, that this was all a part of growing up.

“What are you waiting for, Korb?” Bradley asked. “You know what we’ve gotta do, don’t you?”

“I don’t know,” Korbin replied. “I really don’t know!”

“You’re bigger than it!” Bradley said. “Just stomp on it already! You can do this for me, can’t you?”

It was then that everything blurred. Korbin could not tell what happened next, but before he knew it, he found himself stomping his foot onto the dying bird, going over and over again as Crawford cheered him on. Korbin could not cry, his fear turning to anger and then to joy as Crawford’s repeated rallying did much to keep Korbin going. The blinding fury he exerted upon the now dead bird fueled deep feelings of excitement in Korbin.

“Do it, Korb!” Bradley exclaimed. “You’re the superior bird! Way to crush its neck!”

And before he knew it, Korbin was finished. An unrecognizable mess of feathers, blood, and dirt dropped off the bottom of his shoe as he turned back to Crawford. It was over.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Bradley asked.

“It… it does,” Korbin replied.

“Looks like me and you are friends now, then,” Bradley said. “As long as you follow me, then you’ll be okay. Got it?”

Those words were familiar to Korbin, but this time he did not hesitate to respond. “Got it,” he said. “I totally got it.”

Crawford cracked a smile and looked over to the house. “My father’s still working, so we can have a little more fun,” he said. “There’s a forest nearby. Let’s go, Korb.”

Korbin nodded and followed after Crawford. He felt as if he could rely on this boy to guide him ahead during a time where he rarely saw his father. Many years passed since that day, but Korbin had a feeling that he would reunite with his father soon. He never did find out what truly happened to his mother and Kormac, but as long as Korbin had Crawford, he knew that he could keep going on until he was stronger.




Nine years had passed since the last time Korbin had seen his father. That changed one day when he went overseas to a country called Iiayikohn with both Crawford and Casper. A lot had changed over the years, the most noticeable being the fact that Korbin could not help but smile from time to time. It made some of the other children stare at him, but Crawford had reassured that to the both of them, they were all just afraid.

“They only look away because they know they’re weaker than you,” he said to Korbin. “You don’t need to pay them any attention.”

One other change was the fact that Korbin had found it easier to kill. He no longer had any hesitation to hold back killing any animal that Crawford deemed to be pathetic. That extended to people as well, as only a month prior, Korbin had found himself in a scuffle with a local schoolmate. It was after school, outside of the city when he and Crawford came across the boy. Korbin could not remember the reason for the fight, but he knew it had something to do with Crawford. Most of the time, it usually did. This time, though, instead of ignoring the boy and going on, Crawford decided on something different.

“He should know who we are,” Bradley said. “Why don’t you teach him not to mess with us, Korb?”

That was all the encouragement Korbin needed to unleash himself upon the other boy. He wasted no time in tackling him to the ground and proceeded to pummel him. Korbin had gotten stronger to the point where he could just snap several branches with ease and used his strength to wail on the defenseless boy beneath him. The unstoppable barrage of fists kept coming until Crawford could see for himself and hurried over to Korbin.

“I think that’s enough,” Bradley said. “God damn, you really did a number on him, didn’t you?”

“He… can’t mess with us anymore, that’s for fucking sure,” Korbin said. “This son of a bitch… I killed him.”

Crawford patted Korbin on the back. “Good job,” he said. “But it looks like we can’t just leave him here lying all bloody and shit. Why don’t we take care of what we started, okay?”

Korbin felt it was too easy, however. He had a desire within him to fulfill and felt an ongoing anxiousness whenever he was not engaging in a fight. That he wanted to fulfill his desire only made him more bored whenever he was not fighting, and Korbin could only wonder when the next unfortunate person tried to cross paths with him and Crawford. But when he went to Hurst in Iiaykohn, Korbin reunited with the man that had left him so long ago.

“Just as I thought, you’ve survived,” Harold said.

Inside the dark lobby, Korbin could feel the chill going down his spine. It was an unfamiliar feeling to him, but Korbin remained strong. He could not let anything get to him, not even this foreign setting. Harold walked into the lobby and greeted Casper while glancing over at both Crawford and Korbin.

“I did,” Korbin said. “I wasn’t going to let some fucking piece of shit try and kill me, because I’d beat the shit out of them before they’d try!”

“It still seems like you’ve got some learning to do,” Harold said. “Though at this point, your brain looks as if it’s beyond saving…”

“So what are we here for?” Bradley asked. “This is getting into my training, I’ll have you know.”

“Calm yourself,” Casper said. “There’s a reason why we’re all here today and I’m sure Mr. Mars is going to tell us.”

“I’m only going to tell you,” Harold said. “These two children don’t have any reason to hear any of this, nor should they.”

“As I thought,” Bradley said. “You’re just going to waste my time.”

“Now, now, Crawford,” Casper replied. “This won’t take long at all. Besides, there’s plenty to do around here, isn’t there?”

Harold turned away and headed down the hall. “Come along, Casper,” he said. “Don’t worry yourself about those two, we’ve got more pressing matters to deal with right now.”

“Oh, is it about Isaac?” Casper asked.

He hurried after Harold while Crawford shook his head. Korbin wondered why they came here if Harold was not going to speak to them, but that was when he heard a loud noise. He looked over to the door nearby and went over with Crawford to find out what it was that made that noise. A roar came from behind the door as Crawford backed off. Korbin looked at him and saw a grin upon his face, so he looked at the door again.

“So that Wilk boy is behind the door, huh,” Bradley said. “Well, now I see why we’re here after all…”

This was the first that Korbin had heard of such a person. Someone was behind the door and, from the sound of it, was ready to break down that door. It only made Korbin more curious about who this “Wilk boy” was and if he would ever have to face him. Whatever the reason, Korbin knew that there was only one reason he was here: so he could become even stronger. That was why his father needed him and why Korbin was so willing to go along.




[2nd of January, 2741 AD; Harold Mars’s hideout, Hurst, Iiayikohn]


“You’re bluffing,” Harold said to Rysol. “You’re bluffing because you’re about to die with a gaping hole in your chest! That’s the only reason you’d say something so outlandish!”

“You think I’d come here… without a plan?” Rysol asked. “No… you’re the one without a plan, Harold. This whole place… it’s gonna come crashing down… Everything you’ve worked for is going to go… and you… are going to die along with me!”

“What the fuck?” Korbin asked. “What the fuck is he talking about?”

“Don’t listen to him, Korbin,” Harold said. “He’s desperately holding onto his life for as long as he can. He’s trying to break you!”

“There’s a couple bombs on either side of the building,” Rysol said, “It’s only a matter of time before they go off… Better start running, Harold… unless you care so much about your project that you’d rather die…”

“What about what you said earlier, asshole?” Korbin asked. “The fuck are you talking about? What do you know!?”

Rysol started to laugh. It did not last long as he soon began to cough. Then, he turned over once more and stared up at the ceiling.

“It doesn’t matter now… does it?” Rysol asked. “You’re gonna die here with me, too… Both of you are going to die…”

“He’s losing it,” Harold said. “I can’t let this project go to waste!”

He spun around and hurried down the hallway. Korbin could only watch as Rysol coughed. Korbin wanted to know what Rysol knew and went over to him and knelt next to him.

“You’re wasting… your time,” Rysol said. “I’m already dead… don’t you know?”

“Bullshit! What did you say about my mother and brother?” Korbin asked. “You’ve got to answer me right now!”

“Only you know about… how they died,” Rysol replied. “About how… that man killed them… and what he did to make sure no one would find out…”

“If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t know a damn thing,” Korbin said. “It was so long ago that I practically forgot all about having family members! It’s just me and him, damn it!”

“Harold… told me a lot more… than he thought,” Rysol said. “If only he had a clue… then he would’ve killed me sooner…”

With one final breath, Rysol closed his eyes. Korbin shook him but found it unsuccessful in waking Rysol up. Korbin balled his fist and punched the ground as he screamed. He was confused as to what happened and Rysol’s departure only served to further that confusion.

“Why, damn it!?” Korbin exclaimed. “What the fuck is going on anymore!? Why can’t I remember!?”

At that moment, a deafening rumble echoed. The explosions went off as the building started to collapse. Korbin was in further confusion as the walls around him shook while the ceiling started to crumble. Everything was crashing down as several more explosions set off, the impact destroying the entire hideout beyond recognition until there was no more. The entire building ceased to exist.


To be continued…


Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 39 (Part 1)

[1st of January, 2741 AD; nearby Ahnle River, outside North Glora, Ahnlikohn]


The calm, flowing river was all that spoke now. Mina looked over Bradley, who was on the ground in a heap. As she looked for a response, Mina decided on the fact that she would have to consult with Luna on how to deal with Bradley now that he was incapacitated. Now, though, Mina had to see if Pekka was doing better now that he was not under attack.

“Luna, how is he?” Mina asked.

“He’s breathing, so he’s doing well,” Luna replied. “I’ll see if I can get him to wake up…”

As Luna attempted to get Pekka to wake up, Mina had to wonder if Eva had found the others already. She had to imagine that Eva would be heading this way soon, given all of the commotion that had taken place. Defeating Bradley was one thing, but Mina could not stop there. Foundation in all of its entirety needed to be taken down if there was to be peace. 

“It looks like he’s waking up,” Luna said. “Pekka, do you hear me?”

Mina watched as Pekka opened his eyes, groaning as he placed his hand on his chest. He looked up at Mina and Luna, both relieved to see that he was well. It was all Mina needed to see that she had arrived at the right time. Pekka then sat up and pointed at Mina.

“Behind you!” Pekka said.

Mina and Luna turned to see that Bradley had gotten back up, unnoticed by anyone. He started to rush at the two, picking up the knife on the ground in the process as Mina readied herself.

“You’re a fool to think that you had it over with!” Bradley exclaimed. “Now I don’t even care what happens, so long as I kill you all!”

But before Bradley could reach the three, Eva sprinted onto the scene with her sword drawn out. One quick swing of Eva’s blade stopped Bradley and made him drop the knife. Blood splattered onto the snow as Bradley found it difficult to breathe. Mina saw for herself what Eva had done to Bradley: she had just slashed his throat. He uttered not another word and dropped to the ground again.

“I haven’t forgotten,” Eva said. “Now choke within the flames.”

She cleaned her sword of blood and sheathed it. Sorin arrived and became witness to what was now Bradley’s corpse. Mina then registered what happened as she hurried towards Eva.

“Eva! Looks like you made it just in time,” Mina exclaimed. “I can’t believe how much that guy didn’t want to give up.”

“It’s not your fault,” Eva said. “Had he accepted what had happened, then maybe he would have received a little mercy.”

“I wonder about that,” Luna said. “He seemed set in his beliefs, even as it cost him his life.”

“He was dangerous, that much we know,” Sorin said. “People like him have to be dealt with one way or another.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Luna replied. “Somebody like him is a threat that we just can’t take lightly, you know?”

“He was done no matter what,” Pekka said, standing up. “Had Eva not come sooner, Mina would’ve been ready. Regardless, that’s one less piece of trash we’ll have to deal with now.”

“Speaking of which, maybe we should get moving,” Luna said. “The sight of him over there, even if he was horrible, is unsettling.”

“Of course,” Eva said. “I’m very sorry you had to see that.”

“It’s okay,” Luna said as she looked towards the forest. “Once we’re back on the path, then I think I’ll be fine.”

With Bradley taken care of, Mina went with the group on the way back to the main path. She felt that she and Eva made a great team, but now it was time for the group to get back together. One thing Mina noticed, though, was the fact that there were two unaccounted for: Johan Kuu and Jelka Arne. However, it was Luna who spoke up first.

“So, where are they?” Luna asked Sorin.

Sorin did not say.

“Johan is okay,” Eva said. “As for Jelka, it’s a different story…”

As Eva explained what happened to Jelka, everybody went silent. Neither Luna nor Pekka could respond to what they had heard. Eva’s words became the confirmation of what they were afraid of, as well as confirming Mina’s worries. Sorin continued to keep his head down while he walked. It was then that Mina realized that despite everyone’s efforts, it did little to change the reality that Jelka had died and Korbin Mars remained a threat. A few steps later, Luna proceeded to break the silence.

“If what you said is true, then Korbin should still be around,” Luna said. “He’s the one who killed her, right? Well, we should be going after him!”

“Korbin is long gone by now,” Eva said. “He knew that he would’ve stood no chance against us, which is why he took the extra measures he did.”

“He may have killed her, but she didn’t die without wounding him first,” Pekka said. “Korbin may have escaped, but Jelka dealt a serious blow to him. That is why he chose to flee.”

“At least we should find Johan,” Luna said. “He has to be taking it the worst, so we should be there to console him.”

“I think we should give him some time to himself,” Sorin said. “It wouldn’t do us any good to stay here any longer than we need to.”

“Aren’t you worried about him, though?” Luna asked. “He… He really did care a lot about Jelka, and that’s what worries me the most.”

“We don’t have to worry about him,” Eva said.

“I know that Johan doesn’t let his anger get the best of him,” Pekka said, “But all the same, maybe it would be best for us to go to him and see what we can do from there.”

“Yeah, there’s got to be something we can do,” Mina said. “Even if it means very little, I’m sure that Johan would appreciate our help!”

“It would be nice, but we all know that he wants this time alone,” Sorin said as he looked up. “The path is right over there; we’ll go and find Gale and Dustin. Besides, Johan knows where we’ll be staying, so it’s not like he’s going to be lost without us.”

“Are you sure?” Luna asked.

“Let Johan grieve by himself, Luna,” Eva replied. “After that, he’ll come and find us at the hotel.”

“If you’re okay with it then I guess I am, too,” Luna said. “Well? What are we all waiting for? Let’s go! We can’t just do nothing with this opportunity now, not when we’ve got a chance!”

Mina smiled and pumped her fist into the air. “We aren’t going to let this go to waste,” she said. “For Jelka and Kirk, as well as everybody else that’s lost their lives because of Foundation, we will put an end to these evildoers!”

Mina could see that everybody was devastated by what happened to Jelka, so she decided to remain positive. She had to if they were going to focus on the goal before them. Mina also wanted to do this because she did not want anyone to be forgotten, both living and not. It was Mina’s task to take and she did not mind at all. As long as she had some way of helping, then Mina knew that it would not be a waste of time.




[1st of January; 2741 AD; Ameci Embassy, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]


It was a long and silent walk down the hallway as General Fercewend and Isaac Kunigunde entered the president’s office. With Casper nowhere to be found, Fercewend had to wonder what had happened to him. He felt uncertain as Isaac made his way over to the desk and pulled out the chair.

“To sit in this chair signifies that you’ve been bestowed a limitless amount of power,” Isaac said. “Since we’ve no idea where our friend is, perhaps you’d like to have a little taste of what’s to come in your future?”

Fercewend just shook his head. “Until we get a confirmation on President Bradley, I will have to decline,” he said. “Plus, Hasker should be here in a couple of days, so it’s his role to assume.”

“You still have faith in Casper, I see,” Isaac said. “I’d expect no less from you, Rohan.”

“I will admit that the uncertainty is making me think about it,” Fercewend said. “To serve the people of Ameci by becoming president would be the highest honor, yet still I wonder to myself would I be ready when the time comes. I know that you don’t really think about it that much, Isaac, but this is something that I’ve worked towards ever since I was a young lad.”

“I’m fully aware,” Isaac said. “You’ve been quite useful, and you ought to have hope that you will remain useful for years to come.”

“That’s what I wish for,” Fercewend said.

“Yes, you’ll be very useful indeed,” Isaac said, turning away to look out the window. “Quite useful, no matter what happens.”

“What do you mean by that?” Fercewend asked.

“Ah, what I mean is that no matter what, we’ll be victorious,” Isaac replied. “It’s always good to plan for anything, and I think you would agree.”

“Of course,” Fercewend said. “No matter what happens, we’ll be ready to face off against anything, even the unknown.”

Isaac turned back and smiled at Fercewend. “Seems to me that you’re well beyond ready to tackle the presidency, Rohan.”

“We’ll see when the time comes,” Fercewend said.

Fercewend heard the door swing open and turned around. Casper Bradley hurried into the room with his clothes covered in dirt and blood while his hair was unkempt. As Casper dropped to his knees, Fercewend went over to the man and reached out his hand.

“Thank you, general,” Casper said as he grabbed Fercewend’s hand and stood up. “My car had run out of fuel the moment I crossed the Iiayi borders. It took me a few hours, but I finally made it back just in time.”

“You’ve made it back just in time, indeed,” Isaac said. “Just in time for you to receive your retribution, in fact. General Rohan Fercewend, I want you to place this man under arrest.”

Fercewend’s eyes lit up as he looked over to Isaac. “What? What for?”

“I’m sorry for not disclosing this to you earlier, Rohan, but I’ve spoken to President Hasker this morning,” Isaac said. “After what Casper has done and has tried to do to us, it’s only fitting that he gets locked away for a long time.”

“Impossible,” Fercewend said. “What did he do?”

“He was using you, Rohan,” Isaac answered. “Casper was going to use you as a scapegoat for his illegal activities, but when I stepped in, he knew he couldn’t do that. That’s why he carried out an illegal mission on his own.”

“You must be playing a joke on me, cousin,” Fercewend replied. “Casper was going to stab us in the back?”

“It’s all bullshit!” Casper exclaimed. “Isaac is lying through his teeth!”

“How about you stay silent and let me talk, viper,” Isaac said. “Casper had a plan from the very beginning, acting on his own accord. Him becoming president in the wake of Hasker’s poisoning? It was all Casper’s plotting.”

Casper shook his fist. “Lies! You’re spouting nothing but lies!”

He charged at Isaac, but Fercewend restrained him before he could get any closer. Fercewend could not even begin to imagine what Casper had planned to do with him, but he had to guess that he was to take the fall should the news of Casper’s crime come to light.

“That’s enough, sir,” Fercewend said. “I think it would be for the best if you explained yourself, right now.”

“Well, those traitors are coming here,” Casper replied. “After I failed to stop them, I ran off. It was a cowardly move, but I had the traitors on my tail; I had no idea if they were coming after me, so I ran as fast as I could and ended up in the town of Helm.”

“A likely story,” Isaac said. “If it were the truth, that is.”

“It is the truth, Isaac,” Casper said. “Once I was there, I called my son and told him about what had happened. Crawford suggested that I lay low for a bit, which I did do, but only until I was sure I was in the clear!”

“What did happen, sir?” Fercewend asked.

“Oh, Rohan, it’s obvious that all he’s going to do is lie continuously until he thinks we’ll believe him,” Isaac said. “If you want proof, ask Piere. He’ll tell you all about it, from how Casper set up the poisoning all the way to how he would throw you underneath the wheel if he got caught.”

“You… You’re the one who suggested poisoning!” Casper replied. “It was you who told me to do it, damn it!”

“And where is your proof?” Isaac asked. “Unless you have something that’s written down in print, then it’ll be very hard to prove that I did anything.”

“I think it’s about time we take a precautionary measure,” Fercewend said, letting go of Casper. “I do not wish to believe that you would try and kill a fellow countryman, but I’m afraid until I’ve spoken to President Hasker, you will need to be placed in a holding cell.”

“This is ridiculous!” Casper exclaimed.

“Not as ridiculous as what you’ve been saying,” Isaac replied, as he then snapped his fingers. “Luckily, I’ve also been prepared for a while.”

Two guards entered the room and grabbed Casper by either arm. He tried to break free, but failed. Fercewend looked over to Isaac, and in that moment, he thought he saw Isaac crack a small grin on his face. However, Isaac had a scowl upon his face while Casper continued to struggle.

“You think you’ll get away with this?” Casper asked. “Crawford won’t let you get away with this once he hears it from me, I’ll have you know!”

“Oh, so now we’re devolving into threats,” Isaac said. “Did you think that you were invincible so long as you had Crawford?”

“What are you talking about?” Casper asked.

“President Hasker wasn’t the only person I spoke with this morning,” Isaac said. “After I finished talking to Piere, who else but Crawford would call me? Yes, your son went and told me a lot because he was quite concerned. It’s not easy to point the finger of accusation at someone you’ve known for all your life, but for Crawford, he was willing to tell me everything because he cared so much.”

“No, not Crawford,” Casper said. “There’s no way in hell that he’d turn his back on me!”

“Face it, Casper, no one is going to come and save you,” Isaac replied. “This is all the result of the truth surfacing to the top. You can kiss your wild dreams of power goodbye, my friend, because this is the end for you.”

The guards began to drag Casper out of the room, his struggling doing little to deter them. Isaac took a seat next to the desk while Fercewend sighed. There was a lot to take in, Fercewend thought. He still had trouble believing Casper was the one who attempted to kill Hasker, yet Isaac’s words made sense. Everything made sense, yet at the same time, they made no sense. Still, Casper had one last utterance while the guard escorted him out.

“Gloat while you still can, Isaac Kunigunde,” Casper said. “Because if you take me down, you’ll soon feel the same heat! Dezine knows!”

Fercewend watched as Casper left the room with the guards. The air was lighter now but the tension remained high. He had to wonder what Ameci would do now without Casper in charge and Hasker still a few days away from arriving. All Fercewend knew now was that it all stopped with him.

“Looks like it’s your turn,” Isaac said.

“My turn?” Fercewend asked.

“Don’t be nervous,” Isaac replied, as he gestured his hand over to the chair behind the desk. “This is exactly what you wanted, isn’t it? Go ahead and have a seat, Rohan; you’ve earned it.”


To be continued…


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Aurora – Chapter 35 (Part 1)

[31st of December, 2740 AD; outskirts of Helm, Ahnlikohn – on the rooftop of the abandoned Mars factory]


Gavin had the feeling that something was off about Casper. He wondered why the Ameci president was willing to stand there and let him, Law, and Henry attack first. Casper spread out his arms wide with his palms facing the three men as Gavin continued to point his gun.

“You’re hiding something,” Gavin said. “I don’t know what you’ve got, but I know that you’re just waiting for us to attack first so you can use it.”

“As I’m showing you, I’ve got nothing to hide,” Casper replied. “You can see for yourself that I have absolutely nothing. Nothing in my hands and nothing in my pockets.”

“Yeah, yeah, you want us to know you’re defenseless,” Law said. “I think we got the gist of what you’re saying.”

“Then you do realize that you’d be making an egregious decision if you try to attack me,” Casper said. “I, a man with nothing at all on my person, am being held up by a couple of rogue actors looking for nothing more than outright chaos! A bunch of traitors!”

“Give me a fucking break because you’ve already dropped your pretenses with us,” Gavin said. “Do you take us for a bunch of goddamn idiots? Hell no, we aren’t going to let you get away with your crimes!”

“It’s too late to turn back, anyway,” Henry said. “There’s nowhere for you to run, Casper, so you ought to just go and surrender yourself with the little dignity that you have left.”

Casper chuckled as he lowered his arms, clenching his fists in the process. “I can’t get through to you people,” he said. “Suppose it was worth a try. If that’s what you want, then you’ll have to actually beat me first!”

Gavin stared down Casper with intent, his focus turned to the president’s hands. For only a quick moment, Gavin watched as Casper reached behind his back using his right hand. That was what set him off.

“Lawrence, Henry, move!” Gavin exclaimed.

There was no time to waste. Law and Henry did as Gavin said, taking cover behind the structures close to each of them. Gavin aimed his gun once more and fired a bullet at Casper. However, Casper moved out of the way and pulled out a pistol. Gavin reacted with swift movements and hurried before the other man could fire his shot. There was only one place where Gavin could take temporary cover and that was where Law hid.

“I knew that asshole had some sort of trick on him,” Gavin said, “But now it will be hard to get a good look on him while I’m here.”

“Well, it wasn’t going to be easy in the first place,” Law said.

“He’s good,” Gavin replied. “I only needed to see one shot to know that we aren’t messing with an amateur. His skills are going to make this one a real pain in the ass, I know it.”

“Skills are one thing, but he’s probably never had to account for good luck,” Law said. “There’s just got to be a way we can catch him off guard.”

“Henry might have an idea,” Gavin said.

However, when Gavin looked over to the other hiding place, he could not find Henry. That meant only one thing: Henry was already on the counterattack and Gavin had to figure out where he was leading the charge.

“Over there,” Law said.

Gavin looked from behind the machine and spotted Henry approaching Casper from the back. How Henry moved fast enough to gain that position, Gavin had no clue. He did, however, see it as a chance to close in on Casper. Gavin took the chance and emerged from his hiding place, gun ready and aimed forward. Meanwhile, Law kept back while Gavin moved in.

“Just where I want you,” Henry said.

Henry rushed in an attempt to hold Casper back. Casper, however, turned around and delivered a sweeping kick to Henry, who could only block with his hands. Gavin could not hold back now. He hurried in, gun raised, and fired his shot at Casper.

“Take that!” Gavin exclaimed.

But that was when he saw Casper smile.

“Too slow,” Casper said.

He then dropped down to the ground with Henry still clutching at his leg. Gavin’s shot had missed, though he still had plenty of shots to go before he could even consider giving up. He readied his next shot and aimed his next shot true. Casper then jumped up to his feet with his gun ready and aimed right at Gavin. The two stood off with each man’s gun pointed at the other’s face, as the wind picked up once again.

“This is a pretty bright fire you’re playing with, Power,” Casper said. “Did they tell you I knew well about your marksmanship?”

“They told me a lot,” Gavin replied. “I’m not a fool any longer, though. This ends here!”

“You’re determined to see this through without a casualty,” Casper said. “I guess the potential repercussions are weighing on your mind even as we speak. Am I correct after all?”

“Then how about you tell me,” Gavin said. “If you’re willing enough to serve Isaac Kunigunde, you’d pull that trigger right fucking now. But you can’t, can you now? You’re just as wary with your shot!”

Casper scowled. “Are you trying to mock me? Is this what you’re trying to do to me now?”

“Right now, either one of us could take the next shot,” Gavin said. “But we both know that you’re outmatched. Even if those guards wake up, they won’t be coming to rescue you.”

“You made the biggest mistake one could make in a fight,” Henry said, “You don’t have a way out. General Rohan Fercewend knows well when to withdraw from a hopeless fight.”

“Shut up,” Casper replied. “You think I’m going to let you scum tell me that I can’t win!?”

“Then go and pull that trigger,” Gavin said. “Just know that you won’t be able to hit me no matter what you do.”

Casper roared out. “You want me to shoot you so bad? Well fine then, I’ll give it to you!”

But before Casper could pull the trigger of his gun, another shot rang out. The shot hit Casper’s gun, knocking it out of his hand. With the gun falling to the ground, Casper looked around. Gavin was already well aware, however, as he knew that Law had Casper’s previous gun in his hands. Gavin then took the opportunity to grab Casper by his collar, his grip refusing to let him go.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Casper said.

“Same model, same bullets, bro,” Law said. “How clueless is he that he doesn’t realize the mistakes he keeps making?”

“That doesn’t matter now,” Gavin said. “We’ve got this guy cornered and he’s going to tell us all he knows about Foundation.”

“It’s best if you start talking now,” Henry said to Casper. “It’ll be easier for all of us if you do.”

“Do you think I’m going to talk?” Casper asked.

“You don’t have a choice, asshole,” Gavin replied. “Sooner or later, your crimes are going to come to light.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Casper said.

“Don’t start repeating yourself now!” Gavin exclaimed. “You’ve already lost this fight, damn it!”

“Oh no, I wasn’t repeating myself,” Casper replied. “I meant that you’ve got to be kidding if you think that a former Ameci soldier would so easily give up the battle like this!”

The swift, sudden jab at Gavin’s abdomen caught him off guard as Casper quickly disarmed him. With his gun pointed at him, Gavin dropped to one knee as Henry charged in. Casper threw his free hand around, knocking Henry in his face. Law pulled up his gun and shot, but Casper dodged it and moved in. He then shoved Law into the nearby machine and booked it to the hatch.

“Damn it, how does he do that?” Gavin asked.

He stood up and turned around, but it was already too late. Casper escaped and closed the hatch behind him. As Gavin rushed over to open it, he discovered that the hatch only opened from the other side. He pounded the hatch in hopes that it would open somehow, screaming out in anger all the while. As Gavin just rested his fists on the hatch, Henry shook his head while Law got up.

“He’s right,” Henry said. “Casper wasn’t going to give up as long as he had a way out.”

“That’s not going to help us now,” Law said.

“I wasn’t trying to help,” Henry replied. “That’s just how men like Casper operate. He’s a coward, yes, but that also makes him smart in ways that ensure his survival.”

“So do you have an idea?” Law asked.

“We could climb down another way,” Henry said. “I imagine that there’s more than one way to exit the rooftop.”

“I guess that means we’ll have to worry about Casper later on,” Law said. “It certainly doesn’t help us at all, but that doesn’t mean he’s won.”

“You’re a damn fool,” Gavin said. “Do you know that, Lawrence?”

“Well, it’s not like we can go back the way we came,” Law replied. “Besides, even if Casper does get away, we know that we can beat him.”

“The fuck are you talking about?” Gavin asked. “I’m not going to let him have another chance! We’re beating him right here, right now!”

“Uh, bro, it’s too late to do that,” Law said.

“Yes, there’s a chance Casper’s already left,” Henry said. “Never doubt that man to make a dash if he felt that his life depended on it.”

“Are you both being dumbasses right now?” Gavin asked. “Don’t tell me that you didn’t look around for another way inside!”

Without another word, Gavin walked over to the front end of the building. He stopped at the edge and looked down to see a large window. Law and Henry moved over to where Gavin was and looked down as well, then back over to look at Gavin.

“That’s quite a drop,” Henry said. “How do you figure this? It would be one hell of a trick if you managed to get through that window somehow.”

“Lawrence, you know a lot about crazy ideas,” Gavin said. “Why don’t you tell me about how I could go about breaking the glass?”

Law grinned. “That’s it? I figured that you’d ask me how we were going to just break through this floor,” he said. “If it’s that window you’re worried about, bro, then it’ll be easier than you think.”

“So that gun, then,” Gavin replied.

“Good that we’re thinking the same thing,” Law said. “Since you’re the one who has all the knowhow, I may as well hand it over to you.”

“Let’s be quick with it,” Gavin said as he took the gun from Law. “We don’t have any time to fuck up, so I gotta make these shots count.”

Gavin took aim and fired two shots at the window. Though the angle had given him little to work with, Gavin connected each of his shots with the window as the holes cracked the glass. Even though the glass did not shatter, Gavin knew he had made it easier for him to break through.

“Okay, I’m going to need you two to help me out,” Gavin said as he reloaded his gun. “Lower me down and I can get in.”

Law looked over to Henry. “Seems like it’d be easy enough for us, don’t you think?”

“I think I get it,” Henry said. “Though you’d still be using your own body to break through, I’m sure that you’ll get through mostly unscatched.”

“That doesn’t matter right now,” Gavin said. “I’ve already got the plan, so we better get this going.”

Per Gavin’s command, Law and Henry helped lower him down over the edge of the building. Gavin had a good look through the top of the window as he spotted Casper on his way towards the front entrance. There was no more time to waste, Gavin thought. He thrust his feet forward and broke the glass, shattering it as he swung forward. Everything rode on this moment and Gavin had to make it count once more. With Law and Henry grabbing at his wrists, Gavin swung forth as the two let him go.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Gavin said to Casper down below.

“What the hell?” Casper asked.

Gavin managed to stick the landing, ending up in front of the other man. He had to act fast. Gavin then looked up above Casper and took out his gun. Right before Casper could retaliate, Gavin fired four shots up into the air.

“Looks like you missed,” Casper said.

Gavin withdrew his gun. “Think again.”

He had caught Casper off guard. The chains had been broken by the bullets, which let the platform fall. Casper had no time to respond as the platform hit him in the head, knocking him to the ground. Though the impact did not knock Casper out, it did cause enough pain for him to clutch his head.

“Agh… you can’t be serious,” Casper said as he tried to look up.

“You should know by now that I’m not fucking around here,” Gavin said, stepping in front of Casper. “This is the end of the line for you, whether you want to admit it or not.”

“Guess it’s no use trying to call my guards,” Casper replied. “Shit… After all these years, you really are a true marksman. Bravo.”

“Don’t try to flatter me,” Gavin said as he placed his foot on Casper’s free hand. “You’ve made yourself a mess that you can’t get out of, even if you don’t want to admit it.”

“Are you going to kill me, then?” Casper asked. “No matter what I do, you’ll never give up. Maybe I should just end it here so you don’t have to decide.”

He reached for the gun in his pocket and pulled it out. Gavin, though, used his foot and kicked the gun out of Casper’s hand.

“Like hell I’ll let you die here,” Gavin replied.

“You’re letting me go?” Casper asked.

“There’s a reason you came out here yourself,” Gavin said. “You said that Isaac Kunigunde had pretty lofty expectations for you, didn’t you?”

Casper chose silence.

“Even if you don’t answer, I remember well what you said,” Gavin replied. “I’m willing to bet you put everything on the line to stop us. You went all in with your attack and now that you’re facing the reality of defeat, you want nothing more than for someone like me to kill you. That’s what you want.”

“You lie,” Casper said. “You’re lying!”

“If you died here, that news would travel quickly to Ameci,” Gavin said. “Isaac would prop it up so that you’d be seen as a hero, which is why you can’t afford to face him now that I’m going to let you live.”

“You sound so sure about that,” Casper replied. “I can tell that you’re just trying to intimidate me. Well, it won’t work!”

“So tell me, then,” Gavin said. “Tell me what’s going to happen if you crawl back to Isaac now. Do you think he’ll be happy? Do you think he’s going to give you another chance now that you fucked up?”

“You don’t know a damn thing!” Casper exclaimed.

“We can keep this up,” Gavin replied. “But I’ll always have the upper hand, and you’ll never defeat me.”

He took his shoe off of Casper’s hand and adjusted his sunglasses. Casper continued to remain lying on the ground.

“The only option you have now, if you want to save your own hide, is for you to run,” Gavin said. “But if you really think you’ll convince Isaac Kunigunde to show mercy, then go.”

“You still want information from me regarding Foundation, don’t you?” Casper asked. “That’s why you kept after me, right?”

“Of course,” Gavin answered. “But I doubt that you’ll give us anything that isn’t a lie.”

“Well, believe me or not, but I know that you three aren’t the only ones that are heading to Ahnlikohn,” Casper said. “I know for a fact that Queen Thedam is reaching out to the Ahnle family, which is why I know that some of her people are going to Glora as we speak.”

“How do you know this?” Gavin asked.

“Please, it’s obvious that that woman won’t quit at her foolish goal,” Casper said. “We’ve been paying attention the entire time, so even if you’re as prepared as you say you are, Foundation is always a step ahead.”

Gavin looked down at Casper. “What the hell do you know?”

“I only know so much, Mr. Power,” Casper answered.

“That’s not good enough,” Gavin said. “Now answer me, damn it! You know way more than you’re letting on and you’re not going anywhere until you answer me, you fucking got it?”

“I wish I could,” Casper said. “Oh, and in the case that you’re right, I have a plan if things go wrong. That son of mine… he knows all too well.”

Casper leapt up to his feet and rushed towards the entrance. Gavin tried to stop him but was shoved out of the way. Though he wanted to follow after Casper, Gavin knew he still had to help Law and Henry off of the roof. Even though he let Casper escape, Gavin was certain that his assertion was correct and that this would spell the beginning of the end for Foundation.


To be continued…


Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 34 (Part 2)

[31st of December, 2740 AD; Oelaans Outer City Park, Oelaans, Thekohn – Lynx District]


A recurring thought nagged at Sorin as he waited with the rest of the group for the train to arrive at the station. He began to think about Rysol, whom he had not seen for over a month. Johan and Jelka had told him about what happened, but Sorin still wondered where Rysol was hiding. He felt the need to know, which was why he turned to Johan.

“You haven’t spoken to Rysol lately, have you?” Sorin asked.

“Other than what I’ve already told you, no,” Johan replied. “He has been off the map for a while now. No doubt he’s still trying to recover from his fight with Harold, but like I said before, it would be difficult for Rysol to continue onward in this mission.”

“And I guess you’d know where he is,” Sorin said.

“When he called, I could only assume that he was still in Ahnlikohn,” Johan said. “However, there have been no witnesses to Rysol’s whereabouts among the members of the Moonlit Silence. I wish I had a better answer, but that’s all that I have at the moment regarding your brother.”

“Thanks,” Sorin replied.

“Given the current condition he is in, I don’t think Rysol is in any danger,” Johan said. “I would sooner think he’s in hiding somewhere than he would be out there roaming the lands, but that’s only because of what he’s gone through both physically and mentally.”

“All this started because of him,” Sorin said. “My journey, I mean.”

“I get how you feel, buddy, but we don’t always end up sticking to the script that we’re given,” Johan replied. “Rysol proved himself that he wanted to fight for an ideal world without wars, but that wasn’t how he started out. Jelka and Pekka are much the same as well.”

“And what about you?” Sorin asked.

“I had to do a lot of things, some good and some bad,” Johan said. “Aligning myself with the Neu Thekohnian Order appeared bad, but it was through them that I was able to get closer to my goal. That and finding Jelka.”

“You believed in her,” Sorin said. “That’s what you said.”

“I did,” Johan said. “She, like many others, was wronged by a small group of people who only serve to their interests. Even when it came to Ahga and Isla, they too were being used.”

“Do you sympathize with them?” Sorin asked.

“Not necessarily,” Johan replied. “They made their choices and ultimately lost because they only thought of themselves. However, I can understand why they ended up down that path.”

“I guess I get that,” Sorin said.

“That said, just because it’s understandable doesn’t mean that there is any justification,” Johan said. “You remember that fellow Wihll, don’t you?”

Sorin nodded. “How could I forget?”

“He carved his own selfish path into prison, yet I had believed that perhaps there was a chance that he could use his skills towards good,” Johan said. “It’s a bit absurd, but there was a small part of me that saw potential in him. Potential that was like a miniscule flicker of a dimming light bulb: a man who had been used, cut off, and ultimately left to die alone.”

“And you saw that in him?” Sorin asked.

“It’s conflicting, but I’d believed that there was a chance for him to redeem himself,” Johan said. “Even someone like him could confront the errors of his past and become stronger, I thought.”

“Yet he was killed,” Sorin said. “You were there to see it, too.”

“Indeed, it was regretful,” Johan replied. “But even though I felt regret at what happened to Victor, there was a part of me that felt no remorse when Ahga shot him.”

“He never did turn, though,” Sorin said. “To the end, Victor Wihll fought for no one but himself.”

“I wonder about that,” Johan said. “He was a Maeita, albeit one from the northern side. It’s fair to say that he did have noble goals, but lost those goals as he descended further into the depths of darkness. At least, that was what I felt when I witnessed his execution.”

“If you could have done it again, would you have stopped him?” Sorin asked. “Would you have stopped Wihll yourself?”

“I despise using violence as a means,” Johan said. “Though there are some times which that violence is the only possible answer, it was not the answer to Victor Wihll’s struggles.”

“But I’m not talking about that,” Sorin said. “I’m saying if you had a chance to do everything over, would you have stopped him from going down that path he went down? Would that have saved his life?”

“There’s no use asking that question,” Johan said. “We lack the ability to do over the events of the past. All we really can do is direct the events of the future by doing things now.”

“I know that,” Sorin said.

“I’ll tell you this, buddy,” Johan said, “We may not be able to change the past, but it does influence us towards our future. You know as well as I do what’s at stake and the people who have been taken from us.”

“Yeah, there’s no way I’d ever forget,” Sorin replied.

“Then let’s keep going,” Johan said.

Sorin smiled. “Agreed.”

It was Johan’s words to put Sorin at ease. He had no explanation as to why, but Sorin knew that Johan was good at staying calm since around the time that they were children. Seeing Johan remain calm made Sorin calm as well, the two being able to stay focused even as the pain made its presence known.

“Hey, it looks like the train is about to arrive,” Gale said.

Sorin noticed Gale walking over with Pekka, while Luna, Dustin, and Jelka were busy talking with each other. They had waited for a few minutes since they had arrived at the station, but the bell had finally rung.

“We’ve got plenty of time to talk on the train,” Johan said. “Besides, we’ll be in Ahnlikohn before you know it, Sorin.”

“I think we’re well aware of that,” Gale said.

“We’ve got a way to go,” Pekka said. “If we’re fast enough, we’ll be in Glora past nightfall.”

Gale looked over to Luna. “Wonder if she’ll be singing the whole way,” she said. “It’s not that I mind it, but she does know that we’re trying not to draw a lot of attention to ourselves, right?”

“Nothing wrong with a little song,” Johan said. “Something does tell me that she’ll probably quiet down once we’re moving.”

“Why do you say that?” Gale asked.

“It’s just a feeling,” Johan replied. “Viewing the countryside by train can be quite romantic, and I do happen to have a soft spot for that.”

“Good grief, you’re starting to sound like Law,” Gale said.

Johan chuckled. “I’m pretty sure you don’t mean that as a compliment,” he said. “Besides, if I really wanted to sound like him, I’d have been more risque with my comments.”

Gale sighed and turned around. “Sorin, it’s fine, isn’t it?”

“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.

“We’ll be okay,” Gale said. “After all, you trust Johan, so there’s no reason for us to doubt.”

“Of course,” Sorin said. “I believe in all of us, but most all, I can trust you to be there.”

Gale looked back at Sorin with a smile. “I’m glad to hear you say that,” she said. “I believe in us, too.”

It was then that the train arrived. As the doors to the train opened up, Sorin knew that he and the others could not waste any more time in the station. He had no idea about what awaited them on the path to meeting with the Ahnle family, but Sorin knew that he had to keep his guard up and prepare for anything that came up against the group. But as long as he had these friends and allies with him, he, Gale, and Johan would be able to confront anything.




[31st of December, 2740 AD; outskirts of Helm, Ahnlikohn – second floor of the abandoned Mars factory]


The pursuit continued. Gavin had to keep up the pace in order to catch up with Casper as he rushed through the winding hallway. He began to wonder how far he would have to run before he caught up with the president, as Gavin was well aware that Casper had to have another means of defending himself. Gavin’s pursuit took him to the end of the hallway as he turned to the right and hurried down the next hall. With the way the building was constructed, Gavin knew that there were not that many places Casper could hide. There were several doors on the right, each of them concealing a secret of their own. That meant that there was a chance of a surprise attack, Gavin deduced. He checked the first door and turned the doorknob and found that it was locked.

“Unlikely he’d be here,” Gavin said, his eyes peering over to his left. “I’d be wasting too much time checking each door like this. Damn it…”

He looked down at his pistol, then back up and down the hall. The lengthy corridor held little in terms of places for a person to hide, which only made Gavin more suspicious. There were not a lot of places that Casper could have run off to, Gavin thought as he raised his gun. He took two steps forward, keeping an ear out for any activity that may alert him to the whereabouts of Casper.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Gavin said. “How was he able to escape so easily?”

He arrived at the next door and looked through the small window. Nothing. Gavin took a deep breath and sighed as he turned back to the hall, only for him to hear a sudden crash coming from a considerable distance down the hall. Gavin could only imagine that Casper had something to do with it and rushed as fast as his feet could take him.

“I knew he couldn’t have gotten far,” Gavin said.

That was when he stopped in front of a door near the end of the hall. Gavin had a feeling that this door was the one where Casper was hiding. He took a look into the window but did not see any trace of Casper. However, something caught Gavin’s eye as a metal ladder led up to an open hatch.

“That has to lead up to the rooftop,” Gavin said. “It’s the only place he could have gone now. Let’s fucking go.”

Before he opened the door, though, Henry and Law caught with Gavin, both men stopping before he went inside. Gavin was glad that they arrived in time as he began to turn the doorknob.

“What took you so long?” Gavin asked.

“Ah, we were just making sure that those guards wouldn’t pursue us,” Law replied. “But it seems you found out where we gotta go next, am I right?”

“Looks like he went up,” Gavin said.

“So he’s on the roof,” Henry said.

“I don’t know what he’s got waiting for us, but we won’t know until we go and confront him,” Gavin said. “It’d be wise if you two backed me up in the case that something goes awry.”

“You’ve got a plan?” Law asked. “Now that’s a good thing to hear.”

“I’m not familiar with the layout of this factory,” Gavin said. “None of us are, actually.”

“Well, neither should Casper,” Henry said. “He’s winging it just like we are, only he has the head start this time.”

“Which is why he’s dangerous, even if he’s by himself,” Gavin replied. “I’m not going to hesitate if it gets rough.”

“There’s also one other thing,” Henry added. “You may want to consider all of the options he has at his disposal.”

“We’ll get there if it comes to that,” Gavin said.

“Yeah, let’s get moving,” Law said. “We’re already wasting time right here, so let’s go and get this bastard, bro!”

Gavin knew that Law was right and burst down the door. He went towards the ladder and climbed it. As he suspected, Gavin ended up on the rooftop where the wind started to pick up. Though it was not strong enough to be a hindrance, it did cause enough trouble for Law as his long hair swayed with some of it in front of his face until he took action and tied his hair back. Henry, however, had no such trouble as his hair was not nearly long enough.

“There he is,” Henry said.

Over on the other end of the roof stood Casper, who appeared to have been waiting for the three to confront him. Gavin kept his focus on the president as he evaluated the area around him. In terms of places to hide behind, there were few machines and fans for one to take cover. That was all, however, as Gavin wanted to stop Casper before he had the chance to do anything drastic.

“Go ahead and shoot me,” Casper said. “Are you comfortable with that? Is that what you want: to kill a leader?”

“A man like you is no leader,” Gavin replied. “You’re just Isaac Kunigunde’s useful ally and nothing more.”

“Oh, and you three aren’t acting under the orders of Rain Zano Thedam?” Casper asked. “Tell me something, Gavin Power. Tell me why you want to serve against the homeland that’s treated you so graciously.”

“Gracious?” Gavin asked. “Don’t make me laugh. Where the hell was this graciousness when Lawence and I had to stick it out for ourselves? You tell me because I sure as hell didn’t see shit like that growing up.”

“So serving in the military wasn’t enough for you, then,” Casper said. “To think that one would turn down such a privilege all just to protect a traitor like your brother.”

“You don’t know a damn thing about us,” Gavin said. “There’s no way that Lawrence would do something so reckless without a good reason!”

“He’s right,” Law said. “I didn’t leave because I felt like it. I left because it was worse than dying. If I remained with the Ameci military, I’m sure that I’d be a dead man by now.”

“And what about you, Henry?” Casper asked. “You know, it’s not too late to come to your senses.”

“Not happening,” Henry said. “If it means having to deal with the likes of Isaac and you, then I want no part of your corruption.”

Casper laughed. “Sad,” he said. “So sad.”

“More like you’re a sad, sorry ass excuse of a leader,” Gavin said. “But don’t worry because we’ll make sure that you and Foundation will feel sorry.”

“Are you sure about that?” Casper asked. “I think I said something earlier about my accomplishments… Well, I haven’t even begun to show everything that I can do! Now what are you waiting for? Come at me!”


To be continued…


Previous | Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 34 (Part 1)

[31st of December, 2740 AD; outskirts of Helm, Ahnlikohn – the abandoned Mars factory]


With no time to waste, Gavin rushed through the walkways with Law right behind him. Henry hurried up the ladder with the two guards running after him. A few meters of distance separated Gavin and Law from Henry, who made it up to the walkway. As Gavin continued to move about between the railings of the walkway, Law stopped to look over the ground floor.

“Hey, you notice something missing, right?” Law asked.

Gavin stopped. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, it’s not ‘something,’ but rather ‘someone’ is missing here,” Law said. “Take a look for yourself, bro.”

Gavin listened to Law and looked in the direction where Law was pointing at. As it turned out, neither of them could find Casper Bradley. Gavin looked over towards the end of the walkway that he and Law went up, but no one was there to greet them nor could they see anyone near the bottom of the ladder. With the uncertainty towards Casper’s location, Gavin took out his pistol.

“This is bad,” Gavin said. “Where the hell is he, anyway?”

“Good question,” Law replied. “Let’s go help Henry out first and then we can worry about figuring out an answer.”

Gavin and Law resumed their pursuit in assisting Henry, who was already dealing with one of the guards climbing up the ladder. Henry kicked down at the large man in his face, which dislodged him off of the ladder’s rungs and sent him falling to the ground below. The other guard tried to climb up, but Gavin and Law arrived to Henry’s aid and looked down.

“So you’re not going to give up, are you?” Law asked. “We could just go and kick you down again, you know…”

“I’ve got a better option,” Gavin said, leaping ahead and aiming his gun at the second guard. “I’ll just make it tougher for them to get up here!”

He fired his gun twice at the man, the first bullet hitting the man on his shoulder. The second shot soon followed and hit the guard a few inches lower from the first shot. However, the guard continued to climb up the ladder, which was when Gavin realized he had another option before him.

“He’s still climbing,” Henry said.

“Don’t worry,” Gavin said. “Lawrence, help me out here.”

“Ah, I see,” Law said. “Looks like we should take a step back, though. We wouldn’t want to get ourselves hurt, now would we?”

Gavin and Henry did as Law suggested and took a few steps back. As the guard continued to ascend the ladder, Gavin got a clearer view of the chains that kept the edge of the walkway raised up. With the flimsy chains being the only thing keeping the section above, Gavin knew that he had a couple more shots to make. He then took his gun and looked at the chains that dangled in front of him, firing his gun at the first chain. The chain broke, causing the platform to tilt down to the right of Gavin. Then, Gavin followed up with another shot to the second chain, breaking that one and causing the platform to drop. Still, the guard kept himself up on the ladder, though it too was beginning to tilt back and forth as Gavin aimed his gun once more at the guard.

“I think I’ve got an idea,” Law said.

“What do you mean?” Gavin asked.

“Luckily for you, I’m here,” Law replied. “Did you think I wouldn’t have an idea on how to deal with these guys without some semblance of self-defense in my repertoire?”

Law reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small dagger. He looked ahead of Gavin and at the guard, but adjusted his focus up and to the left. With a swift swing of his arm, Law threw the dagger at the wall next to the chain. The dagger then bounced off of the wall, cutting down both chains that held up the ladder. It was then that the ladder lost its support and fell down to the ground below, toppling the two guards as they were both knocked out cold. Law breathed a sigh of relief and chuckled.

“Was that your big surprise?” Gavin asked.

“I never said it was a surprise, did I,” Law said. “Just that I was ready if the moment arose.”

“That’s nice and all, but we still have to deal with Casper,” Henry said. “He shouldn’t have gotten too far.”

“Right, we still have our executive friend to deal with,” Law replied. “Tell me something, Henry: do the two or you go back or no?”

“Aside from official meetings, not really,” Henry answered. “Of course, it’s his son that I’m more familiar with personally, but there was one time in which Tori and I had to deal with Casper himself.”

“I guess that’s as good an answer as any,” Law said. “I will say that it is odd to have the Ameci president himself going after us. You’d think he’d just send out a bunch of goons, but he decided to make it personal for some reason.”

“Well, he did serve in the military,” Gavin said.

“Yes, but now he’s got the title and the power,” Law replied. “It makes zero sense to me, even with what he said earlier.”

“Perhaps it’s not that simple,” Henry said. “If it were about my betrayal, he would have sent the military after me. But I’m thinking that he really does want a lot more than he’s letting on.”

“So that’s how you dealt with them…”

The voice was familiar as Gavin, Law, and Henry looked around atop the walkways. They found no one else up and about above the floor, which meant that the target was on the ground below. Gavin soon saw towards the back end Casper Bradley, who entered in from the back door.

“So that’s where you were, asshole!” Gavin exclaimed.

“So I guess the formalities are officially dropped,” Casper said. “And after what you did to my men, I suppose that I should have expected some pushback. Oh well, I guess if I have to take care of a problem on my hands, then I’ll have to do it myself.”

“Do you think you already have us cornered?” Law asked. “You’re at quite a disadvantage right now, so what else do you have waiting for us that we don’t know about?”

“You must be an idiot to think I’d tell you,” Casper said. “Isaac’s got some high expectations, which is why I won’t be holding anything back against you three!”

A gunshot fired as Gavin watched the chain next to him snap. The platform began to tilt below him as he hurried to the next one, while Law and Henry kept moving as well. Casper proved to be quick on his shots, however, and soon took out two more supporting chains to have the nearest platform drop.

“You see, I let you two into the factory because I knew that it would be easy for me to let you have the sense of security that you’d make it out,” Casper said. “I never even considered that you would go exactly where I expected you to, which is why I’m all the more ready to send you falling!”

“Shit, he already took out the platform from where we came from,” Gavin said. “Looks like we’ve got no choice.”

Gavin took another look around. There was a large machine a couple of feet away from where he and Law stood, while Henry saw a ladder from the other branching path in the walkways.

“Split up,” Henry said to Gavin. “If we stay together, he’ll be able to easily pick us off.”

Gavin nodded and turned to Law. “Let’s go.”

They split up from Henry, who decided to take the path towards the other ladder. Gavin let Law go up top on the railing first and watched as he leapt from the railing to the top of the machine below. Despite the machine’s size, it proved to be a considerable drop but nothing that Law could not handle. Next, Gavin did the same as he leapt over the railing and managed to grab onto the edge of the machine. He struggled to pull himself up before Law went and helped him get on top as the two hurried and went down the other side.

“He can’t see us now,” Law said. “You still got bullets?”

“Do you think I’d forget to bring bullets?” Gavin asked. “Of course I have more bullets.”

He reached into the pocket of his coat with one hand while he held his gun with the other. Gavin then took out the correct amount of bullets needed, taking his occupied hand and opening up the chamber of his gun. With the pistol loaded, Gavin closed the chamber and pressed his back up against the machinery. As that went on, Law looked from behind the large machine.

“I see Henry,” Law said. “Looks like he’s got the president in his sights… I’m going to go and help him. Watch my back!”

Gavin turned to Law. “What do you think you’re doing?”

But Law had already made his choice. All Gavin could do was stay back and keep his eyes on Casper, who was already focused on Henry. Gavin wanted a few more moments before making a move, but Law threw that plan to the side with his impulsive action. Gavin grumbled as he took his gun and fixated on Casper while he looked away.

“Let’s not fuck this one up, then,” Gavin said to himself.

Meanwhile, Henry was inching closer to Casper, taking cover behind an oil drum while Law rushed over. Casper looked over to Law’s direction and shifted his body in that direction, while Henry emerged from behind the large drum and moved a few steps closer.

“I have to admit, you’re playing aggressive with me here,” Casper said. “I’d congratulate you, but there’s no use doing so when I’ve got the upper hand!”

Casper took his gun and shot at Law, who rolled out of the just before the bullet made contact with him. Gavin watched as the bullet flew past him and hit the wall at the other end, which gave him an opening.

“Looks like being reckless yielded results,” Gavin said as he jumped from behind the machine. “Give up now, asshole! You’re surrounded!”

Henry leapt out and rushed to Casper. “There’s nowhere for you to run to! I won’t let you get another shot off!”

“Go ahead,” Casper said. “If you’re going to take me down, take your time. I welcome it, in fact.”

Law stood up. “What?”

Henry reached Casper and took hold of him from behind. “You’ve got no real advantage,” he said. “There’s little for you to go but give up!”

Casper chuckled as he dropped his gun. “You don’t need to think too hard about this one,” he replied. “My gun is empty; did you truly believe that I’d fight with only a gun at my side?”

“You were hailed as one of the best to serve Ameci,” Henry replied. “But I’m no pushover, not one bit.”

“That makes two of us, then,” Casper said. “This is the sort of combat that I live for!”

As Henry tried to continue holding Casper back, Casper wriggled himself free from Henry’s grasp and threw his fist at him. Henry ducked the punch but was soon under duress from Casper’s attacks. Law moved in fast, as did Gavin, who decided to put his gun away. However, Casper soon turned around with Henry in his grasp.

“I didn’t forget about you two,” Casper said. “Take this!”

With his strength, Casper had Henry by the wrist and sent him hurtling towards Gavin and Law. Law moved out of the way while Gavin stopped and braced for the impact, putting Henry’s momentum at a standstill. Meanwhile, Law advanced on Casper, who was quick to challenge Law.

“I may not be the young soldier that scored multiple medals in the past, but I’m still capable of gaining high praise,” Casper said. “Come on, friend, go ahead and show me what you’ve got!”

“Believe me, pres, I’ve got a lot more than you realize,” Law replied.

Law did not hesitate as he rushed Casper. The two men appeared to match well with one another as Law dodged each punch that was thrown at him. There seemed to be no end, however, as Casper kept his guard up. Gavin saw no chance for an opening, though he was certain that Law would find one soon. That was when Law smiled.

“So it’s like that, is it?” Law asked. “Well, now I know how to end this fight of ours!”

Gavin realized what Law was talking about. Casper protected his front and had his back facing the wall. Even as Law tried to turn him, Casper had kept his guard safe. But now Gavin knew what Law intended to do next, so he got himself ready while Henry looked onward.

“Go ahead, do it,” Casper said.

Law moved quickly to make sure that Casper’s back would face both Gavin and Henry. Now Law had his back facing the wall with the chance to catch Casper off guard. Gavin and Henry charged at Casper, hoping to take him down. But the closer they got to the president, Henry stopped as Gavin continued to advance. It was then that Gavin figured out why Henry hesitated.

“Foolish,” Casper said. “I was hoping you’d try something ridiculous like this. Guess I’m right again!”

On cue, Casper thrust his hand forward at Law and grabbed his shirt. He then threw Law at the nearby oil drums, which sent him falling to the ground. It caught Gavin off guard as Casper turned and elbowed him in the face, catching him in his tracks while Henry stood back. Gavin clutched at his jaw as Casper did a swinging kick at him. Fortunately Gavin was quick enough to back off before he got hit, but he soon lost his balance as he fell on his backside.

“You’ve got anything left?” Casper asked. “How about you, Henry? Or are you going to be the one to do nothing?”

Henry clenched his fist. “I haven’t given up,” he replied. “Neither will these two here. Even if you’re as good as you were in the past, you’re still just one man with no one to help you.”

Casper, though, had already lunged at Henry. Henry proceeded to brace for the oncoming strike and try to get in a counter. Casper proved himself to be quick enough to strike Henry in the chest. The abrupt impact sent Henry reeling, which meant that he had to spend time catching his breath. With Henry and Law taken down, Gavin stood up as Casper sprinted towards one of the side rooms. There was no way Gavin would waste time and let Casper get away, however.

“He’s no pushover, that’s for sure,” Gavin said. “Lawrence! Henry! We have to follow after him! Hurry!”


To be continued…


Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 33 (Part 2)

[29th of December, 2740 AD; Ameci Embassy, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]


Two days before Casper had left, Rohan entered alongside Isaac into the president’s quarters. Casper stood at the window and turned around once Rohan and Isaac approached him. He had his eyebrows furrowed and a scowl upon his face as Isaac burst into laughter.

“It’s not like you to be so upset, my friend,” Isaac said.

“Tell me, Isaac,” Casper replied, “What sort of legacy does a man leave on his family’s name when he realizes it could all go away at a very instant?”

“Are you concerned?” Isaac asked. “We’re here because there is a job we’ve yet to finish. You and I both know that.”

“Yes, indeed,” Fercewend said.

“And that’s why you’ll do your best to put an end to this entire thing,” Isaac said. “Though I don’t expect the queen to step back, I know that you can at least be able to deliver to her the warning should she continue to persist an audience with the Queen of Ahnlikohn.”

“Before you make that plan concrete, I have received a most important message,” Casper said. “It is a great concern to us, but I thought that you of all people should know before it is too late.”

“You have my attention,” Isaac said.

“It is about Hasker,” Casper replied. “I have just been informed that he has made a complete recovery. As of now, he is on his way here and my time as the president has come to an end.”

“So what?” Isaac asked. “You’ve already made your mark. In fact, this could prove to be beneficial.”

“Beneficial?” Fercewend asked. “Isn’t it in Ameci’s best interest for Hasker to be in good health?”

“When I say beneficial, I mean that no matter what happens, everything will work out in our favor,” Isaac said. “So you say that Piere’s on the mend. So what if he’s better? If problems befall Ameci, then it is he who receives blame. He’d be the one who would have to answer for any failures.”

“You say that like it’s absolute,” Fercewend said.

“Rohan, do you still have doubts?” Isaac wondered. He then slammed his fist on the top of the desk. “Both of you know it’s much too late to turn back the clock now. Our enemy is already on the move once more and all you want to do is sit around and doubt yourselves? If you’re talking about legacy, then perhaps it is best that we amp up our aggression! If we do not, then we will lack the rigidity that’s needed in order to win!”

Casper rested his hands on the windowsill as a smile formed on his face. “I see, I see,” he said. “Aggression, you say? I can play aggressive. Yes, that’s exactly what I’ll do…”

“Sounds to me as if you’ve already decided,” Isaac said. “Very well, then I’ll go and inform our friend.”

“Before you do, Isaac, there’s one thing I must say,” Casper said.

“And what may that be?” Isaac asked.

“I’m not about to lose my position, regardless of what Piere might say or do,” Casper replied. “I intend to retain this power and no one is going to take it from me.”

“What are you saying, sir?” Fercewend asked.

“It’s simple, general,” Casper said, “I will find the traitor myself and bring him back here, dead or alive.”

“You say that, but I would advise leaving it up to your son,” Isaac said. “He’s already on his way to Ahnlikohn, don’t you remember?”

“Do you think I don’t know?” Casper asked. “Of course I know full well of Crawford’s movements because we had a little talk last night. Yes, he’s aware now about what I intend to do and he’s one hundred percent behind my decision.”

“He is?” Isaac asked.

He placed his hand upon his chin and turned away from Casper, leaving Fercewend to wonder what either man will say next. Fercewend was unaware of Casper’s decision, which only made him more concerned for Crawford’s current whereabouts. If Casper had made the decision with his son and his son alone, it only served to fuel the growing concerns in Fercewend’s mind. That thought process would be broken, however, once Isaac turned to face Casper once again. A small smirk decorated Isaac’s face as he reached out his hand.

“What is this?” Casper asked.

“Consider it my apology,” Isaac said. “You are a far more superior leader than I thought.”

“So you had doubts of your own, then,” Casper said.

“I would not say that I doubted you, but that I wanted to test you,” Isaac replied. “This was that test. You came prepared. I like that.”

Casper’s eyes lit up, but soon he laughed. “Oh, yes, that’s right,” he replied. “Indeed, that was my intention all along. Never once did I doubt you for a second, Isaac. You can believe me when I say that!”

“Truly you are an exceptional man,” Isaac said. “That’s something that I know that Piere could never be, which is why I’m glad to see you take charge and go all out when it comes to our enemies.”

“And I knew you would trust me,” Casper said. “Remember what you said to me when this all started? I’m not going to let you down for even a second, you hear me? This will be only the beginning of what will be our eventual victory and that traitor will have no way of escaping once I cross him!”

“As I expected of you,” Isaac said, looking over at Fercewend. “This is quite the valuable lesson to all of us and I’m hoping you’ll be able to put in the same amount of effort when it’s your turn to shine, Rohan.”

Fercewend eyed away to the side for a moment. If it was the right decision for Ameci, then he would do his part without question. Above all else, Fercewend knew that he had to do it to ensure a successful future for him and his family. He could not let the past conflict him, yet still Fercewend realized that he would have to come to terms with the inevitable truth in his mind.

“It’s settled, then,” Casper said. “If you’ll excuse me, Isaac, I’ve got to make a few calls back to Ameci.”

“Very well,” Isaac replied. “Rohan and I won’t hold you back any longer.”

With that said, Isaac left the room with Fercewend following him. There was much more to do, but for now, Fercewend could sigh in relief. That moment of relief, however, did not last long as the door closed behind him while Isaac cleared his throat.

 “I’m sure he won’t hear us, but let’s keep walking,” Isaac said, going down the hall. “What are you doing, Rohan? Let’s keep going.”

“Of course,” Fercewend said.

“That fool wants to go and get himself killed, I think,” Isaac said. “Just as I thought: he’s trying to betray us.”

“How so?” Fercewend asked.

“Well, it’s not something you should worry about,” Isaac replied. “I will let you know that no matter what the outcome, glory will be in our hands. Casper bags the traitor, he comes out a hero and earns the trust of the Ameci people. He fails, we always have a back-up plan.”

“Pardon me if this sounds like a slight against you both,” Fercewend began, “But are you hoping that Vice President Bradley will fail?”

“Never in a million years would I root for another man’s failure unless he’s an enemy to us,” Isaac said. “I am just weighing the options. We should hope that he succeeds in capturing the traitor, but it’s always good to have something in the event of an emergency. Is that not the case with you, General?”

“Of course it is,” Fercewend said. “But sometimes, the best course of action is to not pick a foolish battle.”

“Do you believe that Casper’s decision is foolish?” Isaac asked.

Fercewend hesitated to respond. He proceeded to respond, but Isaac was quick to open his mouth again.

“No matter, we will see for ourselves if this decision is indeed a foolish one and from there, we’ll make our move,” Isaac said. “Of course, you’ve got a little plan of your own to try and talk the Queen of Thekohn out of her recklessness, so perhaps it’s best that you try not to worry too much.”

“Whatever you say, Isaac,” Fercewend said.

“Don’t forget, it’s I who helped get you this power,” Isaac said. “If it weren’t for my bright ideas, then you would never have had a chance of becoming the person you are today. Your position, your aspirations, your family… All of those things were possible because I made them so.”

“I know,” Fercewend said.

“To think that there are people who wish to see us fail,” Isaac said. “To wish for my failure would be to wish for Ameci’s failure! And we can’t have any of that happen to us, now would we? What would your wife and kids think?”

“I’ll do my best,” Fercewend replied.

“Good,” Isaac said. “Now don’t let us down.”

Isaac kept walking while Fercewend stopped. That was the end of the small conversation that carried a lot of weight on Fercewend’s shoulders. He realized what he had to do next and shook his head as he turned around and went in the opposite direction. He had his job to do and he knew that he could not let Isaac or Ameci down.




[31st of December, 2740 AD; outskirts of Helm, Ahnlikohn – the abandoned Mars factory]


“Damn it!”

Gavin pounded on the locked metal door. He had split up from both Henry and Law and was now trying to make his way into the building. That they were still being pursued by Casper and his guards meant that Gavin had to think of a way to stop them. Gavin knew that there was much to think about, but above all else, he had to find Henry and Law first. With no other options on the board, that meant Gavin had to make some noise.

“It’s just like what Mina said before,” Gavin said. “No way to move forward unless I do it myself!”

Taking a few steps back, Gavin eyed the locked door. He began to charge at his target and used his strength to slam into the door. However, his effort proved uneventful as the door did not budge.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Gavin said. “What the hell?”

As he tried to figure out what went wrong, Gavin heard a knock next to the door. He saw through the window Law standing there, who had already made it inside. Gavin tried his best not to not to act out in anger as the door opened from the other side with Law waiting to greet him.

“Looks like you got the worst entrance, bro,” Law said. “Are you glad I’m here to help you out?”

“Where’s Henry?” Gavin asked.

“I was kind of hoping you’d know,” Law replied. “I suppose that means he probably found his own way in somehow.”

Gavin closed the door behind him. “As long as we’re here, I think we have a chance against these guys,” he said. “I figure that the president will want to have us all captured if not killed, so we can’t play nice here.”

A stack of crates next to a steel ladder helped serve as a hiding spot for the two brothers as they tried to look around the immediate area. Gavin took out his pistol and scanned the scene to his left.

“It’s going to be tough trying to stop him,” Law said, looking the other way. “And I don’t say that because Bradley’s a tough guy or anything like that.”

“We’ll figure out what to do when we get there,” Gavin said. “All we need to know is that Casper Bradley is like another other soldier on the battlefield. There is a reason why he’s so highly regarded with General Fercewend, after all.”

“I know, I know,” Law replied. “It’s not going to do us much good standing here. We need to get a better view of the area fast!”

Law grabbed onto the ladder’s rung, while Gavin placed his free hand on his shoulder.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Gavin asked.

“Our view will be better once we get up into the upper levels,” Law said. “It will also help us have the heights in our favor.”

“This place has been abandoned for a while,” Gavin replied. “You think it’ll be easier for us to go around if we’re making noise from above for Bradley and his guards to hear?”

“You think it matters where we are?” Law asked.

“Guess there is no talking you out of this one,” Gavin said. “It may be easier to find out where Henry is from up on the walkways.”

With the two in agreement, Gavin and Law climbed up the ladder onto the metal walkways. From above, Gavin saw the unused, broken down machines as he and Law kept moving. It was then that they spotted Henry climbing up one of the ladders from the other end of the factory, with both of Casper’s guards after him. Gavin looked to Law, who then looked on ahead as the two hurried over to help Henry. With Casper lurking around, Gavin knew that he and Law had to assist Henry first.


To be continued…


Previous | Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 33 (Part 1)

[31st of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Main Hall]


Eva was a step too late as Sorin and the others had already left. She knew they were leaving in the morning, but Eva had slept in for a few minutes too late until she realized what was happening. Disappointed, she went downstairs to see Mina and Rain speaking with Sosimo. Eva could recognize that distinct grin from anywhere as she hurried over to the three.

“And look who’s here,” Sosimo said.

“You’ve got some nerve showing up here,” Eva said. “The last I saw of you, it was when the Swords of Eight disbanded.”

Sosimo laughed. “My bad,” he replied. “It’s been quite too long of a time, now hasn’t it?”

“It’s been too long, yes,” Eva said.

“Sorry about that,” Sosimo said. “Really, I mean that. I heard about Alan and Kirk’s passing, but I’d been so wrapped up in my work that I couldn’t just drop it.”

“The only thing that matters now is that you’re here,” Rain said. “Eva, I can understand your frustrations, but it’s good that we’ve received more help.”

“I’m not frustrated,” Eva replied. “I just want an explanation.”

“And you’ll get one, of course,” Sosimo said. “It’s my fault for not contacting any of you sooner and for that, I apologize. Had I had the foresight, I’d have taken my break a long time ago.”

“Just what do you do anyway, Mr. Hudde?” Mina wondered.

“Glad you asked, Miss Mina,” Sosimo replied. “See, I’ve been using the last few years in my ‘retirement’ to figure out what it was that I could do. You know, all that wandering the world and whatnot.”

“Gale did briefly mention that,” Rain said. “You were struggling for a few years before you found success as an inventor.”

“No, no, no, it’s not like that,” Sosimo said. “You make it sound like I’ve got this big brain when really I’m the guy that helps make people’s dreams happen. I don’t even bother asking for much money, but people in Kikuisha really liked the advancements my pals made to their homes.”

“So what exactly did you do?” Eva asked.

“Simple quality of life things, you know,” Sosimo answered. “Eva, if you’d been there, you would see one of the greatest wonders of the world: Mikahana Casino and Recreational Resort!”

“You’re in luck,” Eva said. “I’ve been there myself.”

“I totally understand,” Sosimo replied. “So then you saw for yourself those wonders that brought so many people joy.”

“Certainly the empress’ daughter felt that way,” Eva said.

“But that’s not all you’ve done, is it?” Rain asked.

“Guess you got me, Your Majesty,” Sosimo said. “It was only when Gale was able to reach out to me that I realized where we could go next in this world. The moment I heard her idea, I knew I had to help make Gale’s dream a reality.”

“So you came all this way,” Eva said. “I knew you had something to do, but I didn’t expect you’d actually show yourself.”

“Well, when it comes to making the world a better place, I couldn’t say no,” Sosimo replied. “If it all goes as Gale expects, then we’ll be entering a new era of prosperity like the ones written in all those old books.”

“That’s why you’re helping, then,” Eva said.

Sosimo sighed. “It was devastating to hear what happened to my brothers, but I know that Kirk’s boy is out there doing what’s right,” he said. “He certainly did choose a good bunch of people to travel with, that’s for sure. If it weren’t for my body’s age, I’d be happy to pick up a sword and fight along with them, but all I really can do is show my support like a fan at a baseball game.”

“It’s no game,” Eva said, “And I’m not going to sit this one out. As long as I am able to do so, then I will keep fighting.”

“You’re sure about this?” Rain asked.

“It is a tough battle, no doubt about that,” Sosimo said. “But Eva says she’s made her decision, so who am I to stop her?”

“And you shouldn’t just sit around doing nothing, either,” Eva replied. “This is just as much about you as it is anybody else.”

“That’s right!” Mina said. “We’re doing this for every person who lacks the power to defend themselves, those who have been hurt by injustice and villainy, and everybody else, not because we’re supposed to do it, but because we know that that’s just the right thing to do!”

“Sorin and the others may have gone on ahead already, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay at home waiting to hear back from them,” Eva said. “Mina’s right: we are helping people who have had to deal with the pain of losing a loved one, those who have been devastated by tragedy, because that’s what the Swords of Eight have always fought for.”

“Indeed, that’s something we did in the past,” Sosimo said.

“When I found out that Kirk had died, I felt like there was no way out,” Eva said. “But there was always that one bit of hope out there, even when I felt like it was the end. Even so, I felt despondent.”

Eva looked down at the floor and took a deep breath. It had repeated in her mind over and over how she would keep fighting for Kirk, but now she felt as if she had made it official. With an exhale, Eva looked up at everyone again.

“I won’t forget him,” Eva said. “Not that I even wanted to, but this pain is still here because of what happened. No matter what, there’s no changing what has already taken place, but I can be a part to help establish a better future, and I know that Kirk would have agreed.”

“Yeah, he would,” Sosimo said. “Of course, I never said I wouldn’t help you out. I’m ready to do what I can to make sure everything goes well.”

“That’s greatly appreciated,” Rain said.

“Now I can’t help you directly, Your Majesty, but I can offer a bit of info that will be useful to you,” Sosimo said. “When I was in Ahnlikohn, I overheard from a couple of people that there was to be an announcement from the prince. Can’t say what he’s going to talk about, but it must be quite important for the young man to open his mouth, don’t you think?”

“That does interest me,” Rain replied. “Perhaps it would be wise to find out what he’s going to talk about.”

“Lucky for you, I mentioned it to Gale and Sorin before they left,” Sosimo said. “I even suggested that they call you before they headed over to meet with the Ahnle family.”

“They’re heading to try and meet with the royal family?” Mina asked. “But isn’t that dangerous?”

“For Sorin, yes,” Rain answered. “However, this may be the work of Johan we’re talking about.”

“So they’re heading with Johan,” Eva said. “If we move, then we’ll be able to catch up with them.”

Mina looked to Eva. “When you say ‘we,’ are you referring to me and Rain as well?”

“Who else would I be talking about?” Eva asked. “Of course I mean the two of you. It would be better to go in a group than for us to go alone.”

“But Rain can’t really go with you because she’s got a lot to do right here!” Mina replied. “And… I don’t really think I can leave, either…”

“Mina, it’s fine,” Rain said. “You want to get out there and help our friends. I understand that and am absolutely fine with it. I don’t want you to think you can’t do anything because of me.”

“If that’s the case, then I guess it really can’t be helped,” Eva said. “I know that with you, Mina, I can trust that you’ll be able to fight with every bit of your being.”

“If you say so,” Mina said. She closed her eyes and nodded her head, then shot her eyes open and pumped her fists. “Okay! Now I’m ready to go! As long as it’s okay with you, then we can go any time!”

“Then it’s all set,” Rain said.

“I’m always happy when we’re able to make a little progress,” Sosimo said. “As for me, there are a couple of things I’d like to talk to you about if that’s okay with you, Your Majesty.”

“I’ve got some time,” Rain replied. “Of course, I did want to talk to Ayanna and Reiss before contacting the Kikuishan officials. You don’t mind walking with me along the way, do you, Mr. Hudde?”

Sosimo clapped his hands together. “I’m just glad you got the time,” he said. “Last time someone said they had the time, their time was not all that much. But I know you want to explore any and all peaceful options here, so I don’t mind it at all one bit.”

“Glad to see you understand,” Rain said. She then turned to Mina. “If you happen to need any help, Mina, please let me know.”

“Of course!” Mina replied.

“It would be helpful, but I think we still have the advantage regardless,” Eva said. “That said, we shouldn’t waste any more time. Let’s go.”

“You’re ready?” Mina asked. “I mean, yeah, you’re ready! I’m ready to go as well, so we’ll see you really soon once we’re done, Rain!”

“It’s okay,” Rain said. “I know what you want, so come here.”

Eva watched as Mina wasted no time and embraced Rain, with the queen reciprocating the favor as the two spent a few moments close to one another. As it came to an end, Mina looked at Rain and smiled before turning back to Eva and leaving out of the front door. With that out of the way, Eva and Mina were ready to catch up to Sorin’s group before it got too late.




[31st of December, 2740 AD; on the road to Iiayikohn, entering Ahnlikohn on the way to Helm]


It had been nearly an hour as the car several distances behind Gavin, Law, and Henry continued to remain in sight. Gavin had originally paid it no mind, but was now concerned as he began to wonder what to do next.

“What say to you that we pull over to the side and see what the hell we’re dealing with here,” Gavin said to Henry. “It’s already been long enough for us to try and see if they’d just go away, but they’re following us for sure now.”

“I know that,” Henry said. “Something tells me they’re from Foundation but we have no way of knowing if that’s true or not.”

“I’d say it’s a pretty good hunch,” Law said. “How about turning on the road towards Helm over there and see if they’ll follow?”

“We have been on the straight road for a while now,” Gavin replied.

“I suppose we’ve got no other choice,” Henry said. “Okay, I’ll make a quick turn and if they’re still following us, we’ll do something about it.”

At the next split in the road, Henry turned the car to the right. As expected, the car behind them did the same and continued to keep a considerable distance away from the three.

“Looks like there’s a good chance that that hunch may be right,” Gavin said. “So what’s this ‘something’ that you want to do now, Henry?”

“One second,” Henry said as he eyed over to the right side of the road. “I’m going to make a stop here; I think we ought to find out for ourselves whether or not we’re dealing with the enemy here.”

Gavin watched as Henry took the car over to the side of the road, letting the car slow down in the process. Henry got the car to a complete stop and turned it off while the other car pulled over a few meters behind them and stopped. Once the three men got out of the car, Gavin eyed over in the distance a large building that appeared to be abandoned. However, that lost his interest as he looked back over to the other car as the doors opened. Gavin looked on in shock and watched as the people who stepped out of the car turned out to be current Ameci president Casper Bradley and two of his guards.

“President Bradley?” Henry asked. “What… What the hell are you doing out here?”

“I could ask you the exact same thing, Mr. Randolph,” Casper said. “Did you honestly think we wouldn’t have noticed the stunt you were trying to pull? It’s all because I’ve got good connections thanks to some valuable allies.”

“We know,” Law said. “Do you think you can skip past the gloating and get to why you’re here already?”

Casper scoffed. “Fine, I may as well,” he replied. “I’ve decided to follow you on my volition, but of course I’m not stupid. I made sure to bring along a little extra help in case I had to get my hands dirty.”

“I’m going to guess that Isaac tipped you off somehow,” Henry said. “And to do that, he had to have some sort of inside information.”

“You’re right that it was Isaac who told me about what you were going to do, but you truly underestimate the man’s genius,” Casper said. “Of course, the fact is that once all the impossible options were eliminated, the only option that remained was the one where you defected to help Rain Zano Thedam.”

“What’s it to you?” Gavin asked. “All Isaac Kunigunde is is a criminal in a suit and tie. If working for a government where Isaac thrives is impossible, then of course Henry Randolph would choose the other option!”

“You’re speaking like Her Majesty is the one who committed a sin,” Henry said to Casper. “I don’t need to see much to realize that anything Isaac says can’t be trusted.”

“So you’d rather throw your second chance away,” Casper replied. “All that Ameci has done to help you and this is how you repay us?”

“I’ve done my part,” Henry said. “You and Isaac, however, are not men who are worthy of honor. Anyone who would seek chaos in hopes of benefiting from said chaos deserves no respect.”

“Isaac’s a businessman,” Casper said. “Is it so wrong to desire more? Is it wrong to want power and wealth? You have dreams in politics, do you not?”

“That I do,” Henry answered, “But if you think for a second that I believe in working over the less fortunate in order to advance my own career, then you’re one hundred percent wrong, President Bradley.”

“That’s your response, then?” Casper asked.

“Do you honestly think that Henry would sell his soul?” Law asked. “Nah, it doesn’t get any easier to spot evil staring you right in the eyes.”

Casper chuckled as he reached to his waist. “I guess there’s no use holding back,” he said, looking back to his guards. “You two know what to do, don’t you? Take them out, right now.”

“Move, damn it!” Gavin exclaimed.

Gavin alerted both Henry and Law, leading the two men away from Casper and his cronies. Henry then made a subtle nod to Gavin as the three scattered out and headed for the abandoned building. But Casper did not give up the chase as he and the two guards made their way after them. It would prove to be a tough task, but Gavin knew that he, Law, and Henry had to deal with one of the main members of Foundation sooner or later.


To be continued…


Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 17 (Part 1)

[21st of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Indoor Lounge, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Sorin and Eva met with the others in the lounge as they tried to make sense of what had been said over the radio speakers. The Queen of Ahnlikohn named Sorin as Chancellor Harring’s assassin. How she came to her conclusion Sorin did not know, but he knew he was not responsible. He was sure Eva knew as well as Gavin and the rest of the group but even with Rain and Ayanna on his side, Sorin still had to anticipate the pressure that would soon begin to rise. Yet even with his friends, there were two that were not in the lounge: Johan and Jelka. Sorin knew that there was no way Johan would risk showing himself around Glora, but now he felt like he needed Johan’s help more than ever.

“So does anyone have any ideas?” Law asked. “It’s been kind of quiet ever since we gathered here.”

No one responded. Sorin could not blame anyone for not having the words to say. With the attacks instigated by Korbin and the Blood Ravens, little could be said about him. They all knew who he was. They knew who Isaac was, as he was the one who likely helped set up the attack. Yet even with that known, Queen Amelia did not address the Ameci or the Blood Ravens in her statement.

“How could she not tell?” Luna asked. “Her people were the ones who got hurt… Why does she not realize who was responsible?”

“If I knew why, then I would tell you,” Rain said. “I’m so deeply sorry, Luna. I didn’t expect Foundation to respond so soon. No one did.”

“You shouldn’t have to apologize, Your Majesty,” Kirk said. “You did a fine job out there today and an even better one in trying to bring everyone together to the summit.”

“I just don’t know if we’ll be able to continue,” Rain replied. “When we were all gathered together in the conference room, the only thing I could think about was all of you and your safety.”

Eva sat down next to Kirk. “Yet all the same we were concerned for you,” she said. “Isaac Kunigunde… He’d let the world burn down if it meant he’d get a little more in his pockets—no, especially because of that.”

“I know he’s on everyone’s minds right now, but what about you?” Gale asked to Sorin. “It’ll be hard to go around now that the Ahnle Royal Family thinks you killed the chancellor… I’m not sure what we’ll be able to do now.”

“You can clear his name,” Mina said to Rain. “You can, can’t you? I’m sure that Amelia will listen to you!”

“I will talk to her in the morning,” Rain said. “Actually, there is much I wish to speak about with her, so hopefully it will prove to be a good meeting.”

“Let’s hope so,” Luna said. “There’s been a lot of talk back in Helm about Queen Amelia ever since the crown prince’s crime came to light, that some people are beginning to voice their distrust with her and the Ahnlikohnian government. I just hope you’ll do well, Rain.”

“Well, I’m sure she’ll have to issue some statements soon,” Gavin said. “She would be foolish to ignore the fact that the shooting was caused by Ameci’s own military.”

“You think so, bro?” Law asked. “It wasn’t that long ago they had a similar attack in this city, so I’m not holding my breath that Queen Amelia will hold those birds responsible.”

“If she doesn’t, then I will,” Gavin replied. “I’ll make sure to hold Korbin Mars responsible, preferably with a bullet.”

“He’s troublesome, sure, but we can’t lose our cool yet,” Kirk said. “It’d only end up playing into Isaac’s hands if we react without reason.”

“What’s your big idea, then?” Gavin asked.

Kirk looked to Sorin. “As long as the queen sees you as Chancellor Harring’s killer, it would be unwise to stay in this country any longer,” he said. “There’s no telling what would happen if we were to go charging after Isaac and Foundation right away.”

Sorin could tell his father was truly worried about him. He knew that there was no way he could stay in Glora for the time being. The tension would have to subside soon, Sorin hoped as he held Gale’s hand. With Rain meeting the Queen of Ahnlikohn tomorrow, there was hope that wrongs would be righted. At least, Sorin would no longer be suspected of Harring’s assassination. Until then, though, Sorin and Gale knew that they had to leave as soon as they possibly could.

“And we’ve got old man Dezine to worry about,” Law said. “Ayanna, my love, have you heard anything from him?”

“He’s been silent, at least with General Reiss and I,” Ayanna replied. “But what I do know for certain is that he’s dangerous. Anyone who works with Isaac and Foundation we cannot take casually.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a hand in orchestrating Alan’s murder,” Eva said. “The bastard probably waited as long as he could until Isaac Kunigunde walked up to him with promises of wealth and power and offered him his help. All of it just to fulfill their own selfish needs.”

“I’ve got no idea his goal, but I will have to be on the lookout regardless,” Ayanna said. “The general’s not much a fan of him either, so I will have to see what he thinks about this.”

Law leaned back in his seat. “The more the merrier, right?”

“That would be the idea,” Ayanna replied.

“Guess we’ll have to see for ourselves,” Pekka said. “I’d worry more about a man whose power can so easily be bought over the buyer himself, at least in the short term.”

“You needn’t worry,” Ayanna said, “Even with his power, there are limits to what Dezine can do so long as we’re all operating in Iiayikohn.”

“If that’s what you say,” Pekka replied.

Mina turned to Sorin. “So I guess you’ll have to leave soon,” she said. “Oh, I know! Why not head to the kingdom?”

Sorin considered the idea. He could head with Gale to the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn and stay there until Rain was able to speak with Queen Amelia and get her to rescind the charges. Until that happened, though, Sorin decided that he would consult with Gale about the idea.

“I think that’s our best option right now,” Gale said. “Besides, we can try to figure out what we can do once Rain takes care of your problem.”

“Yeah, that would be good,” Sorin said. “I guess we’ll have to get moving right away, then.”

“You can stay at the castle,” Rain told him. “I’ll call Storm and tell her that you two are coming.”

“Thank you,” Gale said. “Just keep Sorin and I updated on what happens, okay?”

Sorin nodded and got up with Gale. They said goodbye to the rest of the group and headed to their room. Time was moving fast and Sorin had to stay ahead if he and his friends wanted to challenge Foundation head on. Still, he had to wonder about Johan and Jelka and if they had already left the country. There was only one way for him to find out. As soon as Sorin got to the hotel room with Gale, he hurried over to the phone and made a call for the abandoned industrial complex just outside the city. It was a long shot, but he had to try. Five rings later, the phone picked up.

“Hello?” Johan asked.

“Johan, it’s me,” Sorin said. “Do you have a moment before you leave? It’s really important.”




[21st of December, 2740 AD; Sparkling Gold Eagle Hotel – Outside Lobby, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Crowds surrounded the sides of the hotel entrance as Fercewend entered the hotel with a group of soldiers behind him. Ahnlikohnian guards held off the citizens as they expressed their displeasure towards the Ameci military and the Blood Ravens’ actions by the park earlier. Fercewend held his tongue as an old man rushed up and confronted him. The man’s cries about how his daughter was killed in the attack made Fercewend feel guilt, but he had a meeting to attend and could not be held up any further.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I must take my leave,” Fercewend said. “However, your loss is one I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even my enemies.”

“Like you give a shit!”

The man attempted to grab ahold of Fercewend’s coat but was stopped by Bradley who punched the man in the face. With the towering Bradley looking down at him, the man rubbed his face and tried to stand up.

“Do not bother General Fercewend,” Bradley said. “I won’t say it again, so you better get the hell out of here before I change my mind.”

“If this is how Ameci treats its host, then all hope is lost,” the old man said. “Each and every one of you Ameci is full of shit!”

He stood up and ran away. Fercewend sighed as he greeted Bradley, who wore a cast on his left arm. A lot had happened in Glora today but Fercewend had many more meetings to attend before the trip was over.

“I’m sorry you had to deal with such an insufferable man, sir,” Bradley said. “It must’ve been a taxing day for you.”

“Please don’t worry about me,” Fercewend said. “As for you, should I take that cast as a sign that you encountered the enemy?”

“They’re a small group, but nonetheless they are deadly,” Bradley replied. “If it weren’t for my quick thinking, I would still be lying on the ground floor of the Glora Grand Hall with a broken neck.”

Fercewend shook his head. “Never would I expect that an Ameci would be the leader of a terrorist organization,” he said, “Yet here we are dealing with this Moonlit Silence. I am hoping that this is but the worst we have to deal with but I would advise you to keep your head up, commander.”

“That I will do,” Bradley said. “Luckily I escaped with a sprain; the doctor said it would take a few days of rest before it fully heals.”

“Then I would say to take all the rest you need,” Fercewend said. “Come now, let’s walk.”

They proceeded to walk down the hall together. Fercewend thought about Henry along the way, wondering if he would be able to talk to him again before he left. He did not see Henry at all during the day and wondered if he was doing alright since the last time they were together. Perhaps he would pay Henry a visit to see if he was doing well, Fercewend thought. Finally, after some walking, he made it with Bradley to the pair of closed doors.

“Is there anything you need of me, general?” Bradley asked. “I actually need to meet with someone.”

“If that’s the case, then I shall see you later,” Fercewend said. “Depending on this meeting, I may need to call on you once more.”

Bradley nodded. “Understood.”

He rushed off as Fercewend exhaled. There was little doubt in his mind that due to this incident, his stay would most likely extend. He had hoped to head back with his daughter soon, but Fercewend had considered the possibility that his work was not yet done. His family was important, after all, and he valued Ari’s safety above all else.

“Perhaps I should see how she is doing,” he said. “She should still be up in the room…”

The door before Fercewend opened, however, as Isaac revealed himself. A large smile formed on Isaac’s face as Fercewend greeted him and followed him into the small meeting room. Casper waited inside as the three men met together to discuss the incident near the park. Fercewend took a seat at the end of the table while Isaac sat next to Casper, handing the acting president a large stack of papers. As he leafed through the sheets, Casper adjusted his glasses and began to read aloud.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, general, we have much to talk about regarding today,” Casper said. “Namely, the ones behind the attack.”

“The Moonlit Silence,” Fercewend said. “How is it that I was unable to do anything about this? If I had known sooner Johan Kuu’s intentions, I would have put a stop to this before he even had a chance to start.”

“Don’t blame yourself too much,” Casper replied. “He was always a traitor from the start. It must’ve had to do with the loss of his father, if I were to hazard a guess.”

Isaac rolled his eyes. “It is not because of the loss of his father Voitto that triggered Johan Kuu to defect,” he said. “Some men are just merely predisposed to serve only for themselves because that’s the only thing they truly care about in this world.”

“Yes, which is why Mr. Kuu wishes to throw the whole world into disarray,” Casper said. “He’s even convinced former members of the True Thekohnians and the Neu Thekohnian Order to join his cause, as well as some other Ameci who feel sympathy for his so-called cause.”

“So you would say that with the chancellor’s assassination, Sorin Wilk is also part of this organization?” Fercewend asked.

He had met with Kirk’s son only once, but remembered him well. To think that someone like him would turn against his own land was unfathomable, yet it all made sense after reading the initial reports. Fercewend had to wonder what Kirk thought about all of this, yet even then, he was but a mere acquaintance to the legendary man himself.

“It really doesn’t surprise me in the slightest,” Isaac said. “I have heard from others that he is good friends with Mr. Kuu and that the two had always kept in touch. The fact that he is the son of a former member of the notorious Swords of Eight only serves to the notion that these men are predisposed to terrorism.”

“Yes, they must be dealt with,” Casper said. “We must be swift as possible when dealing with them, for if they are allowed to operate, they will dismantle everything that we Ameci have worked hard to preserve with the Thekohnian Region.”

“I never remembered the Swords of Eight being against us,” Fercewend said. “I have known them to be some of the most honorable people I have ever met in my life. Henry Randolph can also attest to that.”

“The Swords of Eight only served for their own ends,” Isaac replied. “It is not like you to doubt Ameci, Rohan, so I would suggest that you rethink your priorities and your allegiances.”

“Anyway, we also have reason to believe that the newly coronated Queen of Thekohn is in cahoots with the Moonlit Silence,” Casper said. “I’ve received many reports that have kept track of who she has traveled with and where their origins lie. General, I think you may be surprised at who is on this list.”

He handed the paper to Isaac, who then handed it over to Fercewend. One look at the list made Fercewend’s eyes light up with displeasure. Numerous men and women he had interacted with, but none of them were more surprising to see on the list than Gale. She had grown up in Fercewend’s household when she was younger due to the fact that her father was always busy, yet she was allegedly associated with a dangerous organization.

“This… This has to be a joke, right, Isaac?” Fercewend asked. “You do not intend on pulling my leg just for a cheap laugh, do you now?”

Isaac clasped his hands together and leaned forward. “If I were joking, would I have invited you here? Would I, owner and CEO of Kunigunde Industries, lead his own flesh and blood to believe a family member was part of a terrorist organization all for the sake of a laugh? Remember that I do not take these sorts of things lightly, which is why this hurts for me as much as I’m sure it hurts for you, Rohan.”

“I see… I suppose that the truth hurts even more when it comes to family,” Fercewend said. “I am sorry.”

“Yes, well, we are hoping to find answers to this as well,” Isaac said. “We’ve never dealt with a threat quite like this and I am hoping that you won’t burden yourself with fond memories, because I won’t.”

“I hope that it doesn’t come down to the worst,” Fercewend said. “Anyway, if this list is true, what should we do about the queen?”

“Let us see how she operates during this time,” Casper said. “There may be a possibility that she knows nothing about this group and that she is merely but a pawn for Mr. Kuu. Ironic, really.”

“There’s no need to be hasty,” Isaac added. “Anyway, let us discuss what we will do going forward. Is that okay with you, Rohan?”

“I have no problem with that,” Fercewend replied. “Shall we begin?”


To be continued…


Previous| Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 16 (Part 1)

[21st of December, 2740 AD; West Marsh Street – Marketplace, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Calamity ensued as Korbin and the Blood Ravens fired their guns all across the marketplace. They appeared to shoot without much direction as many of the citizens escaped the immediate area, but Korbin had managed to land a few shots on a couple of people as he and the other soldiers began to move closer.

“Are you fucking listening, ‘Your Majesty?’ Because I’m speaking!” Korbin exclaimed as he fired a few more shots. “Got a minute, you bitch? You gotta see this, don’t you? Your people who you claim to care about?”

He burst into laughter, which reverberated throughout the market. It had become complete chaos as few people were left writhing on the ground, wounded by Korbin and his fellow Blood Ravens. He appeared ready to command his men to move forward, but stopped and turned around. One of Korbin’s men had been knocked out onto the ground unconscious.

“What the fuck!?” Korbin asked.

He raised his gun and pointed ahead. On the other side of the Blood Ravens stood three familiar faces: Law, Luna, and Pekka. Pekka rubbed his fist as he picked up the unconscious soldier’s gun from off the ground and checked inside the chamber for bullets.

“What a nuisance,” Pekka said. “He didn’t even have the common sense to reload his gun before I knocked him out.”

“That doesn’t matter right now, Pekka,” Luna said. “These guys are making a mess of this city and we’re not going to stand for that!”

She took out her knife and glared at Korbin. He trained his gun on her, but Law stepped in front of her.

“I should’ve known better than to think that Isaac would wait it out,” Law said. “So he’s got you doing his dirty work in order to divert attention away from him, isn’t he?”

Korbin laughed as he cocked his pistol. “You want a taste of this, traitor? Because me and my boys here would be happy to give you three a little show before we move on!”

“I would say ‘you and what army,’ but it’s pretty obvious that this sorry excuse you’ve got going here can hardly be called an army,” Law replied. “Nine guys, the unfortunate soul lying on the ground notwithstanding, and you call this your army?”

“Are you fucking mocking me?” Korbin asked. “Let’s kill these three on the fucking spot!”

However, Law had already made his move. He apprehended the nearest soldier and grabbed his dominant arm, pointing his gun at one of the other Blood Ravens. Law used his other arm to hold the soldier in a headlock while Luna and Pekka followed up. They went through as Pekka dealt with several soldiers, trashing them as he thrust one of them into the brick wall nearby and knocked out two more after that. Luna held her own as well, using her knife in an effective manner to disarm two other soldiers. She teamed up with Pekka as they took on the remaining men, while Law faced off against Korbin.

“Gah, just shoot them already!” Korbin said. “Fucking shoot them you pieces of shit! You’re not getting paid to lose, you fuckheads!”

He trained his aim again, this time on Law. With Law holding the Ameci soldier in his grasp, he had the advantage. At least, that was what he thought. Korbin wasted no time shooting at his fellow soldier, which caused Law to let go and move out of the way. He had no way to prevent the bullet from striking the man, but Law knew it did not matter to Korbin. The soldier fell to the ground as blood began to spill out of the wound on his chest.

“You… Y-You shot me,” the soldier said. “You freaking shot me, Korbin! What the hell!?”

Korbin breathed heavily as he aimed his gun at the wounded soldier and fired a bullet at him. The other soldiers stopped, as did Luna and Pekka, as the bullet pierced the man’s skull.

“That should shut you up!” Korbin exclaimed. “Now, where were we, Law Power? Oh yeah, I was going to fucking kill you, you shit-eating bastard!”

Law chuckled, which then turned into laughter.

“You’re mocking me again, traitor!” Korbin screamed. “Stop your fucking laughing!”

“You really don’t know why your men stopped, do you?” Law asked. “Even you should be smart enough to know why, but I guess you just have a one track mind after all!”

Korbin growled as Law continued to laugh. “That’s not fucking funny!”

“Look behind you,” Law said.

“I’m not falling for that one, you son of a bitch bastard asshole,” Korbin said. “Time to die!”

He hurried up and pointed his gun at Law, his aim focused on the forehead. A gunshot followed, though Korbin did not fire. He looked down at his right arm and saw it begin to spark as another two gunshots rang out. The bullets came into contact with the shoulder base of his metal arm, which caused Korbin to turn around. Behind him, he saw Gavin and Sorin staring at him with their weapons drawn. Gavin had fired three shots into Korbin’s right arm, which damaged the prosthetic and rendered it useless.

“Unbelievable,” Korbin said. “This is unbelievable! I’ll kill you all!”

He tried to move fast, but Sorin charged at him with his sword held high. Sorin swung his sword swiftly, which took off Korbin’s metal arm at the base and let it drop to the ground. At this point, the other soldiers within Korbin’s group were all taken care of as Luna and Pekka joined Law.

“That was easy,” Pekka said.

“Don’t say that,” Luna replied, “I almost got one of those creep’s blood all over myself!”

As they were talking, Korbin tried to run away and charge at Law, but Gavin grabbed him from behind and thrust him into the wall. He pinned Korbin down and pressed the barrel of his gun against the back of Korbin’s neck.

“I’ll be damned if I let you escape, asshole,” Gavin said.

“Fucking do it, then,” Korbin said. “Shoot me in the back of the head! What will that do for you?”

Gavin grunted as he pressed the gun barrel harder into Korbin’s neck. “It’s tempting, but I’m not going to give you an easy escape,” he replied. “Not when I’ve got questions, so you better start answering!”

“You think he’s going to talk?” Luna asked.

“He better, damn it,” Gavin said. “What did you hope to gain from shooting up this place?”

“I don’t have to fucking answer a goddamn thing,” Korbin said. “You’re not going to pull that trigger, are you?”

Gavin smacked Korbin in the back of the head with his pistol. “I’ve told you already,” he said. “Did Isaac Kunigunde order you to do this? Answer me!”

Korbin uttered a strained laugh. “Like I’d answer you, motherfucker,” he replied. “Besides, it’s not over yet.”

“What do you mean?” Sorin asked. “What isn’t over yet?”

“Oh, I thought you would know, being friends with that woman you call your friend,” Korbin replied. “The Queen of Thekohn, right? Well, it might be too late to call her that…”

“Goddamn it! Tell us what you mean!” Gavin said.

“It’s too late,” Korbin said. “It’s too late to stop what’s already been put into motion! It’s useless!”

“Damn it all, I have a really bad feeling about this,” Sorin said. “If what he says is true, then Rain’s in trouble!”

Sorin hurried off in the direction of the Glora Grand Hall. Gavin remained with Korbin, but sirens soon began to blare. Luna and Pekka looked at each other while Law walked over to Gavin.

“Looks like you fucks are in a lot of trouble,” Korbin said. “You should have killed me when you had the chance!”

He elbowed Gavin in the ribs. Gavin took the sudden pain and let his grip loosen only for a brief moment, but that was all the time that Korbin needed in order to separate from him. Law tried to catch him, but Korbin proved to be quicker and desperate as he made he escape. With Korbin gone, there remained only the soldiers floundering about on the ground. Gavin clenched his fist as he put his gun away and shook his head.

“What the hell is wrong with me?” Gavin asked. “Fuck! I let that worthless little shit run away from us again!”

“It’s okay, bro,” Law said. “I think we’ve got bigger problems to worry about right now.”

“He’s not telling the truth, is he,” Luna said. “He has to be lying! Rain would never let herself get in danger! Never!”

“We’ve got no other options,” Pekka said. “Besides, those sirens are getting louder. We don’t want to be here when the military shows up, do we?”

“You’re right,” Luna replied. “We have to make sure Rain is safe!”

The four agreed and followed after Sorin to the Glora Grand Hall. There was no certainty about what was going on, but they knew now with the shooting, there was much that was thrown into question. They had to hurry as fast as they could in order to prevent further disaster from taking place.




[21st of December, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Head of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


After the report of the shooting near the park, the speeches had been cancelled. Everyone inside the building gathered to secure themselves in case of the worst possible scenario. Every except Isaac Kunigunde, Casper and Crawford Bradley, Erik Ellis, and Wilson Dezine. Fercewend, meanwhile, spent his time gathering the Ameci representatives while Isaac led the way towards the top floor of the Glora Grand Hall. Normally, the floor was not accessible to anyone besides the Ahnle Royal Family and the government, but with all the turmoil that had been caused, Isaac found it rather easy to go up the stairs without anyone to stop him.

“I knew it,” Isaac said. “One little instance of gunfire and these fools scatter like roaches in a dank, dimly lit washroom!”

“Your plan really worked,” Bradley said. “Then again, I knew well that Korb wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to cause a little mayhem for the hell of it.”

They walked down the hallway, passing the empty rooms as Isaac spotted two guards posted at a pair of closed doors. He signaled to Casper, who in turn nodded to his son.

“Are you sure the chancellor’s in there?” Erik asked.

“Relax, Private Ellis,” Casper said. “My god, Isaac, it looks even easier than what you’ve told me.”

Isaac chortled. “Harring’s popularity has gone down the tubes ever since the assassination of Alan Berry,” he said. “It’s all played into our hands nicely, right, Mr. Prime Minister?”

“It is indeed working in our favor,” Dezine said.

“I told you, didn’t I?” Isaac said. “Once this is over, that stuff that was said about us yesterday will be old news once the people find out about Chancellor Harring.”

“All to secure that glory,” Bradley said. “Very well.”

“Make it fast,” Casper said.

Bradley nodded and walked up to the nearest guard. He approached the man from behind and cut his throat with a knife. After that, the other guard took notice but before he could do or say anything, Bradley eliminated the guard with a stab to the side of his neck. With both guards out of the way, Isaac and the rest of the group moved over to Bradley.

“See, Ellis?” Isaac asked. “There is no need to worry. Not after what we’ll be able to do.”

“As long as Korb is able to lead the way, it will be good for us,” Bradley said. “Soon enough, we’ll be able to draw traitor from out of the shadows.”

Bradley then kicked the closed doors, jarring them open. Inside the office stood Chancellor Harring talking on the phone. The chancellor looked up and hung up the phone in a prompt manner as Isaac entered the room with the others behind him.

“You… What do you want with me?” Harring asked. “Didn’t I do enough? I thought you were going to protect me after what the prince did!”

“Look around you, Gerhardt,” Casper said. “The world’s falling apart and all you can do is make phone calls and plead for your life.”

Harring jumped to his feet. “You can’t be serious! After making sacrifices in order to secure the future of this country, you want to just dispose of me?”

“You’ve been making sacrifices, that much is true,” Isaac replied, “But there is one sacrifice you haven’t made. The ultimate sacrifice that will ensure that we will be able to rule this world without anyone interfering!”

Harring began to hyperventilate. “Impossible! Utterly impossible!”

He reached into the top drawer of his desk and reached for his gun, but it proved to be futile. A sole gunshot rang out. Harring looked down and saw the wound in his chest around where his heart was and slumped over the desk. Blood soon began to spill over the surface as Isaac handed the revolver to Erik. With the deed done, Bradley walked over to inspect the chancellor.

“Wipe it clean, then dispose of it,” Isaac said to Erik. “It’s a very rare gun, so there should be no chance of tracing the bullet back to us.”

“Yeah, this should be pretty easy to do,” Bradley said. “You just need to give me some time, pops.”

“Some time?” Casper asked. “We should be moving now!”

Bradley grumbled. “Just go on ahead,” he said. “I’ll catch up to the rest you later.”

“Let him be,” Isaac said to Casper. “Clearly he trusts his own genius and we should give him the opportunity to shine.”

“Oh, fine then,” Casper said. “So I assume that you’ll not draw any needless attention to yourself, then.”

“I’ll be as quiet as possible,” Bradley replied.

“Very well,” Casper said.

Everyone except for Bradley left the chancellor’s office. He took a look at the now deceased chancellor before him as a large smile formed on his face. It would take some time, but Bradley was certain he would be able to enact the next part of the plan without too much trouble. As long as Korbin was able to fulfill his end of the plan, Bradley knew that it would all go off without a problem. As Bradley sat up Harring’s corpse, he imagined that it was about time for them to show up at the Hall anyway and hurried along with his job.


To be continued…


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Aurora – Chapter 15 (Part 1)

[20th of December, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Wings of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Wilson Dezine overturned the small table and punched the nearby wall. “I cannot believe this!”

Fercewend watched as the Iiayikohnian prime minister rested the top of his head on the wall. It was a sight he had trouble believing. Given the reactions of both Isaac and Casper, however, there may have been a reason for the prime minister’s outburst. What had been broadcast on the speakers an hour ago was quite a lot to take in. Fercewend found it hard to believe that such letters existed and that everything described within them had transpired. There were moments where he did question Isaac’s judgement, even his actions, but never once did Fercewend think that his cousin would be capable of conspiring with an enemy, nor did he think it was possible for him to work closely with Casper and Dezine in such a manner. Yet still, parts of what had been read over the loudspeakers made Rohan think. He sighed as he continued to watch the three men before him as he remained undecided about what he should say.

“You should calm down,” Casper said. “People might hear us talking, plus it may not be good for your health if you get worked up about this.”

“Calm down?” Dezine asked. “It’s hard to calm down now when everyone’s going to start rising up against us! This whole damn thing is over!”

“Dezine, you really must listen to my friend Casper here,” Isaac said. “As I’ve already told you when you became the prime minister, we’ve your back, so I would suggest that you do the same and unite.”

“You’re kidding me,” Dezine said. “Have you not paid any attention to what happened in Maeitakohn? Mahrk went down in less than a day and you expect me to remain calm!?”

Isaac chuckled. “Rodik was a weak-willed man,” he replied. “He was a loser through and through because he couldn’t keep his people under control. You, on the other hand, have all the cards you need to win: the role of prime minister and the assistance of Foundation’s top men.”

“It won’t matter one bit if the Iiayikohnian military starts getting ideas,” Dezine said. “Make one move and I know full well that the people will start to question.”

“Let them question,” Isaac said. “You do know why Iiayikohn is the crown jewel of the Thekohnian Region, obviously.”

“Yes, I do,” Dezine answered. “I know exactly why…”

“We’re all in this together, Wilson,” Casper said. “If we’re to succeed in our goal, then we have to stick together. Not doing that was what brought down the others, because they couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. You wouldn’t dare back down now, now would you?”

“Of course not, Casper,” Dezine said. “Becoming the prime minister of Iiayikohn was my dream for so many years… I don’t know where I’d be without your help, Mr. Kunigunde.”

“Don’t thank me just yet, prime minister,” Isaac said. “Now, as for what to do about that meddlesome broadcast… Rohan! Have your soldiers figured out where that signal came from yet?”

Fercewend shook his head and sighed. “We’re still working on it,” he said. “It will take some time, but we will figure it out.”

“Is that so?” Isaac asked. “Because I was under the impression that you were equipped to handle any sort of threat that comes our way. Have you been getting rusty, general?”

“In due time, we’ll locate the origin of that signal,” Fercewend said. “But it should be obvious who sent it out.”

“Of course we know who sent the signal out, Rohan,” Isaac replied, “It was that damned spy that turned on us!”

“Believe me, Isaac, it was a surprise to hear the news as well,” Fercewend said. “I thought he had died months ago, but it seems as if he rose from the dead, so to speak.”

“General Fercewend, you’re not being paid to offer your thoughts on the matter,” Casper said. “We want this man captured and made an example of, you got me? We’re all tired of having this man run around and act as if he’s going to be some sort of fantastical hero when in reality he’s just another terrorist.”

“I will do that, Mr. President,” Fercewend replied. “Just give us some more time, if you will.”

Isaac placed his hand on Fercewend’s shoulder. “Listen to me,” he said. “I see that you care deeply for your family… Your wife and your kids see you as an invincible man who appears incapable of showing weakness, your daughter Ari in particular. Now, you wouldn’t want to disappoint them with your weak showing, would you?”

Fercewend furrowed his eyebrows. “You’re not suggesting what I think you’re suggesting, are you?”

“I’m quite jealous of you,” Isaac said. “It would be stupid of me not to admit how green I am when I see that you have a family that respects you. Even with all of my strengths and smarts, I could never get that damned girl to look me in the eyes without having contempt for me.”

“Don’t you dare bring Gale into this,” Fercewend said.

“And yet she respects you,” Isaac replied. “She should be thanking me for that! I was the one who recommended you to General Atlas, was I not?”

“You and Hasker, yes,” Fercewend said.

“Then you and the Ameci military should be able to complete the simple task of locating and capturing Johan Kuu,” Isaac said. “Otherwise, I can’t exactly say what will happen to those that respect you.”

Fercewend gritted his teeth. He had to object. However, he felt as if words were futile against Isaac and Casper. They were implied threats against him and his loved ones, but Fercewend did not respond. He had to do what was best for Ameci, which began with the location and capture of the traitor. Anything else was just an afterthought.

“Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it seems as if we’ll have to move forward with our plan,” Isaac said. “If we’re to accomplish our goal, then we’ll need to start making moves.”

“Yes, that’s true,” Dezine said. “I imagine that involves dealing with that upstart queen, too?”

“It has only been for a short time, but we have seen the potential problems that woman will cause for us going forward,” Isaac said. “Luckily for us, we know who she aligns with and how to deal with them.”

“You do?” Dezine asked.

“You’d be quite interested in the list of people that have worked with her,” Isaac replied. “Anyway, we’ve already written out the course of actions needed in order to damage not only her credibility, but the kingdom’s as well.”

“Right now, though?” Casper asked. “The summit is still happening and so many people are in the area.”

“Casper, what’s a little power without making a few sacrifices?” Isaac asked. “You know who said that, don’t you?”

“I understand,” Casper replied. “I’ll have someone write the prepared speech in the meantime.”

“Good, good,” Isaac said. “Prime minister, you shouldn’t worry about those letters becoming public; they’ll fade into the dark soon enough.”




[20th of December, 2740 AD; The Robin’s Nest, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Erithacus District]


A quiet murmur broke out amongst the lounge patrons after the broadcast ended. The regular program continued, but all people could talk about was what just happened. Sorin knew that there was much uncertainty now that Johan made light of all the crimes Isaac Kunigunde had committed. It was all out in the open now.

“Johan finally swung at them,” Pekka said. “I wonder, though, if it will be enough to make an impact.”

“The people are already beginning to question,” Sorin replied. “With this, I’m sure that Isaac and Foundation are on the defensive.”

“That’s true, but none of us are sure what Johan’s going to do next,” Pekka said. “He got what he wanted by unveiling these lost letters, but what’s the next part of his great plan? Do you know?”

“He hasn’t told me anything that far ahead yet,” Sorin said.

“Then we’re stuck waiting for what Isaac does next?” Pekka asked. “I know you trust him, much like I did, but forgive me if I have some doubts.”

“We’re all still pieces on Johan’s chessboard,” Gavin said as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. “The fact that we have no clue about the next part of his plan is a part of the design, not an error.”

“Do you mean to say that Cookie is the one leading the charge?” Kiku asked. “I never thought he’d be capable of being so brash!”

“Clearly you haven’t seen that side of him,” Pekka said.

“Yes, he’s quite a craftwork,” Igor said. “I could tell just by looking at him that he’s full of light!”

“How in the world do you know that, Iggy?” Ayame asked. “I don’t recall us ever meeting that man before.”

Igor looked around and began to crack a smile. “Oh, right, it’s my memory playing tricks on me again! Forget what I said.”

“Anyway, we’re still not sure where this plan of his is going to go next,” Sorin said. “I’m sure Rain and Mina are thinking the same thing, too.”

“But Rain’s probably not too concerned,” Gale said. “She has her kingdom’s priorities at the moment and the summit as well.”

“Still, this affects everyone,” Law said. “It’ll be tougher for good old Isaac to sleep tonight knowing he’s got a bunch of eyes and ears on him.”

“A scary image, to be sure,” Igor said.

“So what are we going to do, then?” Luna asked.

Gavin adjusted his sunglasses. “The better question is: what do we do when Isaac strikes back? Because we know that’s coming,” he said. “Of course, I don’t expect him to do anything right away, but that thought is going to remain in the front of my mind until the hammer falls.”

“I’ve always had a bad feeling about that man Mr. Kunigunde,” Ayame said. “He traveled to Kikuisha a few times in the past in order to sell his artillery to our military, but never once was he able to strike a deal with us. We are a peaceful country and Madame Yamazaki always kept that in mind in regards to both the past and future generations.”

“Isaac’s always put on a smile when he thinks he’s able to take advantage of someone,” Gale said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he’d go to such lengths, but now that Johan’s made things clear, it scares me even more of what Isaac’s capable of doing.”

“Yes, which is why I am concerned,” Ayame replied. “He will no doubt try to use his influence in order to bring harm to others.”

“Perhaps it would be best if we informed mother,” Kiku said to Ayame. “I have known you and Iggy for all my life and not once have I ever doubted either of your intuitions.”

“If you suggest it, madame, then we’d be more than willing to speak with your mother,” Ayame said. “I’m not certain what she’ll say, but as long as we’re here, then the top priority is to establish security.”

“Don’t worry, Madame Izumi, we’ll make sure that you’ll be soundly safe,” Igor said. “Even if this Mr. Kumigoode is trying to direct an attack, we’ll be there to keep you safe!”

“I think she gets the gist, Iggy,” Law said.

“So now what should we do?” Luna asked. “Are we still going to listen to the speeches?”

“Well, Rain said her speech isn’t until tomorrow,” Sorin said. “I don’t know for certain who’s going to speak today, but it’d be a good idea to keep an ear out just in case anything happens.”

“You really think Isaac’s gonna just counterattack right away?” Law asked. “Come on, man, I get being aware, but he’s not the kind of guy who’s going to go out swinging right away.”

“He’s not?” Kiku asked.

“He’s probably thinking that if he acts too soon, it’ll look suspicious,” Law replied. “Isaac’s probably working with his buddies to devise something in the next few days, not right away.”

“That makes sense,” Gavin said. “Whether he acts quickly or not, he’d be proving his own guilt otherwise.”

“So our best bet is to keep an eye out through the next week,” Sorin said. “I wonder if Johan’s thinking the same thing.”

“Forget about it,” Gavin replied. “I’ve already come to the conclusion that he’s just going to act on his own. There’s no real reason to think he’s just going to do what you want him to do, Sorin.”

“But he’s already been a help to us,” Sorin said. “He said that he’d make the letters between Isaac and Ahga known and he did that. If anything, we need to go back to Johan right away.”

Gavin sighed. “You want to do that, then fine,” he said. “But you want me to tag along with you and act as if I’m just going to go along with whatever Johan’s got planned just because he happens to have the same goals as us? Give me a break!”

“Yeah, I can’t say I’m too thrilled about wanting to hear whatever comes out of his mouth,” Law said. “It’s nice he wants to stop Isaac and Foundation, but he’s put us through the runaround too many times for me to trust him.”

“Really?” Sorin asked.

Luna looked over to Sorin as she clasped her hands together. “I don’t know if I’ve already told you this, but I don’t like it when people deceive me or my friends,” she said. “I’m sure you had your reasons for doing so, but not telling us about Johan makes it tough for me to believe that I can trust him. I guess that would include you, too, wouldn’t it?”

“It was because we had to stay out of Korbin’s focus,” Sorin said. “Please, I don’t want to have to argue about this.”

“I’m not arguing with you… am I?” Luna asked. “No, of course not! I’m just upset that you deceived us! I even saw you cry a little during Rain’s coronation! Was that part of your deception, too?”

“No, not at all!” Sorin exclaimed.

“You and Johan clearly have good intentions,” Pekka said. He stood up and began walking towards the front. “But those good intentions don’t matter when you’re leaving the rest of us out of the know. I had placed my trust in Johan and he left me behind, just like he did to Luna and even to you. If this is the sort of treatment to expect from you two going forward, then I’m out.”

Luna jumped up to her feet. “Pekka, wait!”

She followed after him as Sorin turned to Gale. It was clear to him that she was as stunned as he was as Luna and Pekka had now left the lounge. Gavin and Law remained, though they also appeared weary of what Sorin had to say. Kiku, Ayame, and Igor did not speak either, as Sorin suspected that the three of them were perplexed at the sudden turn of events. There was little that Sorin could do to change the mood. No one spoke up, not even Kiku. Everyone decided to leave only five minutes later as Sorin and Gale were left to themselves.

“I’m sorry,” Gale said, placing her hand in Sorin’s.

“You’re not the one who should be apologizing,” Sorin replied. “Damn it, this was the sort of thing I didn’t want to have happen…”

“There’s enough time,” she said. “Though, if I have to admit it, I was a little upset you didn’t tell us about Johan sooner. I understand why you didn’t but at the very least you could’ve told me about it.”

Sorin brushed his hair back with his hand. “There was too much risk,” he said. “I guess that I should’ve told you… I should’ve trusted you more, Gale, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do that.”

Gale smiled. “Please don’t worry about it,” she replied. “Let’s just focus on what was accomplished today.”

“You’re right,” Sorin said. “Well, we might as well head back to the hotel for now. Maybe we’ll run into Gavin or something…”


To be continued…


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