(Before reading, if you haven’t read the first two parts of this story:
Click here, for part one;
Or here, for part two!)
Fractar Roeh watched the destruction of Lakeshore on a holowave set in another seedy room. Stunned as he was by the sudden finality of it, he still felt no real surprise. This reaction by the Guardian Force could not be said to be unexpected. In fact, he was suddenly sure that this was the very response that the Nine wanted.
What was somewhat unexpected was the call Roeh immediately received from Silvan. The young Dargniion looked significantly more greyed and troubled in just the four days since Roeh had last spoken to him.
“Looks like you’re in the clear, Roeh,” Silvan said mildly. “No one can name you now.”
“Looks like it,” Roeh answered. “But there are still some that the guardians had incarcerated, aren’t there?”
“Lost in the system or dead,” Silvan replied glibly. His jovial tone rang false. “You don’t think the GF annihilated an entire community and allowed the ones they arrested to live, do you?”
“One never knows. But I’m sure you’re right, Silvan. As usual.”
His mysterious contact answered with a dry laugh. Roeh sighed and rubbed his temple.
“What’s next, then?” he asked.
“For you? Nothing,” Silvan said firmly. “At the moment, all you need to do is continue to keep your head down. Change rooms everyday, like you’ve been doing, and stay discreet. We’ve put plenty of money in your account, so there’s no need for you to go back to business as usual right away. Don’t alarm the guardians into thinking any further action is required on this matter.”
“Obviously, Silvan,” Roeh snapped with some irritation. “I’m no amateur that you have to keep warning.”
“I know that, Roeh. No offense meant. We trust you.”
Roeh nodded, though personally he felt it was certainly in the best interests of his own survival not to be anywhere this man Silvan would know to find him. He’d already decided this would be their last conversation.
“Thank you, Silvan.”
“Listen, Roeh,” Silvan said in a friendlier tone. “We want you to know we really do appreciate you. What you’ve done. Even if we’re never able to use you again, we want you to know that.”
And Roeh knew Silvan meant that. The man was actually obliquely warning him! Not that it would matter if Roeh took the warning to heart or not. If the Nine were as powerful as Roeh believed, his life wasn’t worth a damn and hadn’t been since he’d first been contacted by Silvan for this job.
“Thank you,” Roeh said again. “Your appreciation is appreciated.”
Silvan grinned wearily.
“Goodbye, Roeh,” he said, and ended the call.
After the conversation, Roeh sat and thought a while on how to save his life. He had one possible limb to grasp: he had the name of Dr. Melnar Freies, the weapons designer whose ID had been on the illegal beam-weapon that Roeh had used at the guardian ambush. Was the doctor one of the Nine? Or just a sympathizer? Maybe the weapon had been stolen from Dr. Freies without his knowledge…if so, he’d be of no use to Roeh. But if he turned out to be important to the anti-Guardian Force movement, he might be used to save Roeh’s neck.
Eventually, Roeh decided he had little choice: he’d put the doctor’s name on the street. Maybe that would make the Nine hesitant to eliminate him. Or draw them out. In either case, Roeh would be taking action. Much better than this ridiculous hiding.
This movement, or conspiracy, against the guardians could be considered to be in its infancy. As powerful and influential as Roeh imagined the Nine were, they would still constitute an overwhelmed minority. Any mis-step now could crush them utterly. They would have to act to protect the name of one of their members, if Dr. Freies was indeed a member.
It was a longshot. But Roeh finally saw no other course of action…
Several days passed and Roeh was in despair. Two definite attempts had been made on his life. Not great ones, but attempts.
Two nights ago, one of his own Deathboys had tried to strangle him. If a group of loyal ‘Boys hadn’t entered the hideout and pulled the killer off of Roeh in the nick of time, he would have died. Roeh had questioned the would-be assassin about Silvan. With tears in his eyes, the ‘Boy finally admitted that a man fitting Silvan’s description had promised him a large sum to kill Roeh. Upon this confirmation, Roeh cut his throat.
Then, earlier today, two strangers had jumped Roeh on the street. That had actually been kind of fun. Roeh had spotted the duo’s intent just before they’d attacked him and they were no trouble to dispatch. He’d left their broken bodies on the street and rambled away whistling a tune. No need to question those idiots.
But now, with night fallen once again, Roeh’s emotions began to get the better of him. Completely isolated, and in an even seedier room than usual, he held onto to a new digi-tablet as if for dear life. Hoping this tablet was unmonitored by Silvan or the Nine, he called up Dr. Melnar Freies.
If I’m a dead man, Roeh felt, I may as well take someone with me.
• • •
“Roeh contacted Dr. Freies. Not only that, he’s connected him with the Lakeshore incident. He’s got the underworld buzzing about poor Dr. Freies being the mastermind behind everything. He is a common criminal and cares nothing about the mission. You erred terribly in bringing this Roeh into our plot.”
“ I know,” Silvan admitted miserably. “I just didn’t know how to utilize the Deathboys without him, though. Tell me how it could have been done where and how you wanted it done without Fractar Roeh.”
There was a significant pause.
“I can’t tell you. And that’s the only reason you are still alive.”
“I don’t care about that,” Silvan said. “I just want the mission to succeed. If it would be better for the mission, I beg you to kill me.”
“That won’t help at this point. We’re going to have to let the Guardians take care of Roeh.”
“That’s very risky–”
“I don’t need you to tell me that, Silvan. But it can’t be helped. We have a very loyal agent who will make certain Roeh is killed. And with his death, the trail will end. The public must not find out about us until the mission is fulfilled. The Guardian Force must be destroyed first. The public will never know what the ultimate goal is until it is too late.”
“If they knew, they would not be with us,” murmured Silvan.
Minutes after this conversation, Silvan took to the streets. Tormented at his reprieve, in his heart he still wanted to die. Soon he found himself wandering in Sqalik District, very near where the shopgirl’s murder had started everything, when he spied a pair of guardian patrolmen beating up a man in a dingy alley. A plan not fully formed popped into Silvan’s mind, and he spontaneously rushed the officers.
One, a female, spotted him coming and deftly maneuvered him into the wall. She held him there and gazed into his face.
“Help you with something?” she asked him.
Silvan grunted as she dug her forearm into his throat hard. He forced a grin, and nodded his head.
“I don’t want to live,” he gasped.
The guardian laughed dryly.
“Suicide by guardian,” she reflected. “I’m not in the mood.” She tossed Silvan aside, but he came back at her. This time, she knocked him to the ground and planted a boot in his chest. “Are you that determined, citizen?”
Her partner, a huge male, stopped beating on the first man, glanced at the other guardian.
“We’re gathering a crowd,” he told her.
Silvan looked over at the entrance to the alley and saw a mixed group of Dargniions standing and openly staring at them. There were about fifteen; a few Deathboys, a trio of businessmen, a family with two children, even a shopgirl. All were staring at the two guardians and their victims with building menace.
“Get out of here!” the male guardian growled at them. “Guardian business!”
An older man sniffed and growled back, “Business as bad as usual.”
And that was all it took. Before the guardians could do a thing, the crowd had rushed them and got them onto the ground. Cries of “Lakeshore! Lakeshore!” began to fill the air. Silvan rolled onto his knees and took the scene in. Tears of pride and joy poured down his face as he watched the group of citizens brutally kill the guardians. The personal irony struck him: he’d meant to die and found a new source of life instead. Silvan suddenly knew the mission would be a success. The Nine would eventually prevail and Dargniion would be forced to change to fulfill the ultimate plan. It was all but inevitable now.