Criticality 15: Unconditionally Tough
Establishing a valid inside presence was pertinent to more things than just Basketball, and for the Enforcers, Yori – codenamed Autopsy was their loyal insider within the Second Earth Special Police Force. Superbly qualified for the information technology position, but how could he not have been? This man was an Enforcer plant and the best at whatever his specialty was – by default.
Perhaps Autopsy’s covert moonlighting status would have mattered if people like Commissioner Gyro had even known of the existence of the Enforcers earlier, but nobody did – no one was aware of the presence of this lethal black ops unit which he belonged to. Sure, everybody could imagine that they existed from fictional stories, purposely or treasonably leaked Space Force documents, and the unfortunate occurrence of having run up against such an outfit. But nobody was in a position to even be able to do anything with the knowledge.
The Commissioner had let it slip out that he knew of Autopsy’s ties to the Enforcers, but the impact of the former leader of the Second Earth Special Police Force was completely blunted by his pending corruption case. Whether fortunate for him or them, he was completely neutralized – short of being influentially neutered. And still, an argument could be made that he was actually the lucky party in all of this. Although his credibility and career were both in tatters, he was able to walk away with his life intact because the newfound disgrace kept him from being seen as any sort of threat.
Additionally, arguments could call into question Commissioner Gyro’s competence in running a tight ship over the Second Earth Special Police Force with an Enforcer lurking within its midst, but this was the tradeoff for finding good help. The person who ran the computer systems and the rest of the tech throughout the base – or any organization for that matter needed a certain amount of autonomy to be able to handle things effectively. It was not like he could have just stood over Autopsy’s shoulder and watched his technological guru work. Much of this stuff was like a foreign language anyway – the server room guy was hired for the purposes of sorting all of that out so nobody else had to waste their time. Provided that the infrastructure and the systems were operating in a peak condition always, no questions were asked.
Autopsy did a great job too, so his work went unquestioned. There was never any downtime, the Police Force officers always had the latest in devices and gadgetry, and the internet was fast. This was all that anybody could ever ask, so in many respects, he was a hero – the one person outside of leadership throughout the base who everybody tried to be on the good side of. Because ironically, if his skill was so exceptionally pronounced in maintaining everything, it was almost a certainty that he also knew how to really make cubicle life tough for a person who managed to get on the wrong side of him.
There was no way to tell that Autopsy was working from two different computer systems. Venturing into his work area and observing his habits would net nothing eye-catching in regards to his methods. Firewalled off and on a completely separate subnetwork from the Second Earth Special Police Force’s systems, the entire planet would have found it ironic to note that he sat behind a DMZ which even the Space Force did not have access into. The Enforcers were that exclusive of a group. Tight-knit to the tune of suffocation as a direct result of the stranglehold which they possessed on secrecy, there was not only no hope of his cover being blown but no chance.
A separated minicomputer, which looked like it originated from Enforcer combat gear, sat out on top of Autopsy’s desk as he received his daily reports from his official employer:
Acid Pop would be missing his rent payments from here on out, so the property owner’s complaint channel needed to be rerouted to the Space Force rather than its intended and normally rightful destination of the Second Earth Special Police Force. Petty things like this would usually be handled locally, but the mercenary’s disappearance was the result of a fatal violation of the Space Force Doctrine.
Easy enough, Autopsy thought. Nothing went through to Sec’s dispatcher console without it first filtering through his wanton gaze, so the reroute was nothing more than routine.
Crazeintox was left in a crumple on his front lawn, and eyewitnesses could have very well gotten to the scene ahead of the Space Force’s cleanup efforts. Rarely did a witness ever get the complete story from a situation, so their ability to discuss, gossip, and speculate was of no concern. The biggest prop which they might remember would have been the ladder, and it was after all – damp. Another fatal violation of the Space Force Doctrine and the punishment’s ensuing enforcement could be masked by a simple planting of the carefully worded story in the local papers.
It was also important for Autopsy to sync the Second Earth Special Police Force’s systems to the occurrence in order to not create a variance in the reporting. This time around, the Space Force happened to be in the area and took care of things, so any offer of Sec’s assistance would have been turned away through jurisdictional override. It was something that the local authorities had gotten used to, so when a flagged report came across the dispatcher console with these types of details, the information was routinely filed away.
A subtle chuckle emitted from Autopsy’s lips when he read about what happened to Frak Frag. This one could be chalked up to a faulty furnace and the negligence of its yearly maintenance. Simple.
The Enforcers often did their work in certain ways which caused Autopsy to have to get creative in devising a story as to why so and so was no longer alive or why such and such died in a certain manner. He was really starting to become quite spontaneous with his imagination and even contemplated testing out the creative writing skills. Honestly, being an Enforcer left him with no shortage of stories that he could use to rework the original events and times, change a few names here and there, and turn them into an eBook series which would keep readers on the edge of their seats or up all night in an entertained furor.
Hya Ku was found keeling over his shopping cart, so the obvious reasoning for that was a heart attack. Sometimes, people – especially martial artists just trained too intensely. Maybe there were some supplements which were taken that might not have gelled with his system. The aim was not necessarily to discredit the person, but adding a blemish to their legacy in light of a fatal violation of the Space Force Doctrine which could never be discussed openly to the public was somehow satisfying.
How many million ways were there to die? All Autopsy needed to do was to choose one. Well, this was part of it. The Second Earth Police Force systems would wholeheartedly support his say, but the rubber stamp of the science/medical community was another loose end which needed to be tied up for the purposes of making the ruse complete.
Atro City Hospital
“What do you have a taste for?” Terry asked Karyn as he chivalrously helped his lady friend into her coat.
“There are a ton of places around here to eat,” Karyn admitted indecisively. After adjusting her shoulders to the comfort of the stylish, furry coat, she turned around to tell Terry, “I am really happy that you came back to Second Earth to see me.”
Almost apologetically, Terry replied, “I know that it’s been lonely. I’ve missed you dearly. Karyn, I was hoping to tell you this over lunch – in fact, I couldn’t wait for you to get off of duty.”
Karyn could tell that this admission was difficult for Terry as her man was not used to opening up for many others outside of her, and he was having a tough time at doing that. “I would quit this job for you, but I’ve no qualms with running through my vacation and sick time in the interim. You know this, head doctors are only required for specialized procedures and staff meetings. And nobody likes staff meetings, so with no pending procedures which require my attention and expertise, I am indefinitely off of duty albeit on call until you get situated comfortably for your stay. I don’t want you sleeping in some cold shuttle. That’s not how things are going to be.”
“See, that’s the thing,” Terry paused as he looked down and to his side for an uneasy moment before looking up to meet Karyn’s smiling eyes before offering a smile of his own which showed some teeth, “I feel like I’m proposing to you.”
“You’re not?” Karyn said playfully and slyly in the portrayal of her surprise which happened to be partly anticipative. She remained prepared and would have been ready to say ‘yes’ in the event of Terry popping the question.
Let it never be said that Terry was not at least smooth. In all of his universal experience, he had at least picked up a spine when it came to conversing with and talking to women. A massive dose of confidence accompanied what could be referred to as ‘mad game’ when he dropped one of his best lines on Karyn in response, “I was saving the proposal for dinner.”
‘Wow’ would have been the only thing that Karyn could say, but it went without saying because she was honestly stunned. Her heart was a flutter with an increased anticipation which cradled this new frozen state into a necessary stall of a fainting collapse.
“I don’t,” now, Terry’s gaze met Karyn’s unflinchingly when he announced, “want to leave you this time. At the same time, I realize that you have an important position here on Second Earth. I’m still a consultant for the Space Force, so I can definitely find some work out this way. Like I said before, my previous assignment is in good hands. I made sure to leave things better off when I left them than when I found them, so you have become the only concern of mine. I love you, Karyn, and I want to be with you in a true sense – no more of this long distance stuff.”
A related piece of information was to be Karyn’s answer, “You know that I’ve been completely faithful to you all of this time.”
Terry shook his head, “It’s the pattern with us. If we’re not drowning ourselves in our work, we’re drowning ourselves in each other. All I could think about was getting things in a position of where I could finally and legitimately be with you.
I had lost my way a little while back – no, it had nothing to do with cheating or anything like that. Karyn, you were my anchor in sanity. Some decisions which I made forced me to have to reevaluate my status – my worth. And I know that I am being super cryptic, but I also want you to know,” he moved in closer to his lady friend when speaking these next words, “that I have become a better person because I need to exceed your wildest expectations.”
“There’s so much that I don’t even know about you,” Karyn reciprocated her man’s close-quartered breath with the tickle of her own soft voice, “but you need to know that I have my secrets as well. In your absence, I had to keep myself busy. It shouldn’t affect anything between us as I expect that whatever you’re harboring shouldn’t, but even if both sets managed to somehow creep up – which I can’t imagine that they would, our love is strong enough to survive.
Parsecs couldn’t even keep us apart when we were furthest away from each other, and no other came before that love. This, in itself, says something about where our heads, hearts, and bodies are at with this relationship,” she initiated the kissing before pulling away to finish her thought, “so please know that I too have done some soul-searching in order to become a better-rounded person who would be worthy of your love. Let our pasts try to tear us apart, and each will be in for a fervent surprise regarding what it is that we both have to bring to the table now.”
“What skeletons do you have in your closet?” Terry questioned skeptically before pressing his lips back to Karyn’s.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Karyn replied when she came up for air.
Suddenly, beeping emanated from Karyn’s purse which was back on her desk – interrupting the session of lip-lock. The kiss was such a tease to Terry as he found himself overheated and understimulated. They would have taken each other right here, and realized a carnality of the situation which was causing them to put some much needed distance between the workplace and the attraction of their yearning loins.
With the distinct sound that Karyn’s minicomputer was making, it was easy to locate within the jumbled innards of her purse. Terry caught sight of the device, and being the technophile who he was, his curiosity got the better of him when he asked, “What is that? It’s too big to be a new type of smartphone.”
Already typing away on the adequately sized keyboard to the minicomputer, Karyn mentioned, “It’s nothing,” as she received the orders from her true employer. “I just need to take care of one more thing.”
Sometimes, as was the case with Hya Ku, her approval of Autopsy’s prognosis was cut and dry. Karyn liked it when Enforcers matters were believable. In authoring the death certificates, it was infinitely harder to refute the Head Doctor’s credible findings, so she along with their inside presence within the Second Earth Special Police Force Base completed a triangle of the covert with the Enforcers at the head of a veil of secrecy.
Sometimes, her fellow Enforcers went a little overboard on the thoroughness, but this was to be expected when the order for the violation of the Space Force Doctrine was sent down and needed to be enforced. Mister Miser and his entire immediate family were executed because the material breach of the Space Force’s constitution called for punitive damages to cross generational lines. With regard to cases like these, Karyn was compelled to set about a bit of Damnatio memoriae – erasing any trace of the perpetrator’s existence in the process from a science/medical standpoint and replacing the record with something else, anything else, or anybody else. The morgue was actually filled with cadavers who did not have a personal story, but would have one now as they shifted into an unenviable position of put-upon worth.
With the rubber stamp applied, Karyn placed the minicomputer back in her purse, gathered her total belongings, and turned around to face Terry who seemed to be a bit uneasy as he peered out of the window to her office. He was not distant or nervous but not relaxed either, and the contrast was noticeable because it differed so dramatically from moments earlier.
“You just can’t get away from it,” Terry stated in a sarcastic reference to his own past. He had felt an energy that one could only feel at an Ethereal level, but to put it in terms for those of the lower beings who might have been curious, a rage of unimaginable proportion had just sent the need for restraint throughout the fabric of the universe as a shiver of powerlessness or its ensuing paralysis from up and down his spine and elicited an appeal for forbearance like any situation of chaos where anger and irrationality got the better of wronged parties and an onlooker such as him was unluckily present to witness the eerie fallout.
“What’s wrong?” Karyn made it over to Terry’s side and inquired.
Turning away from the window, Terry told Karyn, “If I were to tell you that it was nothing, I would be lying. And I’d be a fool to mouth something so uncharacteristically false when I knew that the situation was nothing less than dire or severe. Are you sure that you still want me?”
Squeezing Terry’s arm as if to usher him out of her office, Karyn made clear, “Tell me when you can. Since our love is not in question, it doesn’t matter what else is. We will get through it together – regardless. I love you, Terry, and if the only thing that I know about you is that you love me too – honestly, that’s enough for me.”
“Will you still feel the same way when the universe is tearing itself apart, and I didn’t tell you what I knew earlier?” Terry asked pointedly as he watched Karyn close and lock the door to her office.
“I’ve come to find out that the universe is always trying to tear itself apart,” Karyn said. “It’s like an unavoidable constant, but I’ve since also made some friends who can protect you – who can protect both of us. See, Terry, I don’t know what you and the Space Force are into, and I don’t care. Whatever happens, happens. And I don’t want to waste this time which I finally now have with you worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow. It cheapens today, and we’ve been apart from each other for far too long. We’re finally together, so I could care less if the universe decided to come for us.”
Terry assured, “Oh it will.”
Karyn reassured, “Then let it.”
“You really have changed,” Terry acknowledged Karyn’s surety of purpose. He realized that this would become an asset in the future but also knew that his lady friend had no idea what was about to come down. She was incapable of comprehending exactly what he had just now prepared for during the aftereffects of his dark epiphany. If these new friends of hers could make any sort of an impact or even a tiny dent in the tidal wave of despair which he was forecasting, their contribution would be most welcomed.
“As have you,” Karyn appreciated Terry’s continued willingness to confide what little that he did in her. No, she may not have been able to fully comprehend what he was talking about or going through, but it was her man’s nonverbal communication which told her what she needed to know. He was genuinely afraid – of what, she knew not. It terrified her in a sense that the details would not be discussed for some time, but at the end of the day, this Head Doctor was an Enforcer, and people would be quite surprised to know what types of things she had actually seen.
The Second Earth Special Police Force Base
Part of what made the Enforcers so powerful was that everybody in their ranks understood their role. Autopsy nor Karyn needed to pull any trigger pads, but they could be called on within a moment’s notice to do that as well – if needed. Because they performed their duties so admirably, their participation in the ground game was unnecessary. One part enforcement, one part concealment, and one part inducement – all parts of this were well thought-out and carried out at some of the highest levels throughout Second Earth.
Sisrm and Sooty would be easy to deal with, and the story of their deaths did not even require any sort of cover-up or masking – only clouding of the truth. It was here that the ultimate truth as the Enforcers saw it would be introduced into the feed which would eventually reach Sec’s dispatcher console. More of a strategic foothold over their enemies could be gained with this method of leveraging the actions of the Second Earth Special Police Force.
Last on Autopsy’s list were a pair of kills which could be blamed on the underworld court that happened to be held in the streets. Snitches from a never-ending database would be implicated and fingers would be pointed in the direction of potential culprits – whether they had anything to do with it or not. Sometimes the conviction or the confusion of the chase was the only thing that mattered to a public who was unconcerned with the details. As long as there was a sense that the Second Earth Special Police Force was on the trail of some bad people which was technically indistinguishable from them chasing their own tail, the public was satisfied. Never mind the fact that the bad people or organized criminal elements, in this instance, were actually innocent of any wrongdoing. To a normal civilian, they had done things illegally in the past to net the crime tag which was associated with them, so what they actually managed to be taken down for would usually become irrelevant in the scheme of things. It was the classic, corrupt prosecutor’s modus operandi.
This time, the Palatine Triad would be target of the misplaced ire as they had been causing problems for the Space Force and the Space Force’s allies (such as Stanislaw’s Penetration Elimination Group) as of late. With the pressure of the Second Earth Special Police Force about to come down on them like no other, another potential enemy of the Enforcers was about to find themselves made to become completely powerless against the momentum of public sentiment and the obligation of public servants.
And sometimes, the participation of the ground game was unnecessary when Autopsy had other unsuspecting pieces working for or doing the work of (rather) the Enforcers. He knew that it was nice to have a savvy veteran such as himself who could free the rest of the unit up to put their emphasis on dealing with much more problematic elements which happened to be much greater than petty organized crime – namely the Doran Aristocracy and the remainder of the converted Shokan.
The Brael Moonbeam
“It’s odd that I get a second chance to make a good first impression on parents of Billy,” Sylvia told Sanjuana.
“If he so accepts his place as the son of Glove and the grandchild of Claw,” Sanjuana surmised, “then the Shokan will almost certainly be delivered into another generation of existence under his tutelage.”
Sylvia and Sanjuana waited graciously outside of an office in order to allow Glove, Commander, and Billy an overdue opportunity to bond as a family. They spoke among themselves in an allied sense. The Doran Aristocracy and the Shokan were in league with one another, so the comfort level at which they spoke to each other was nothing short of compelled by treaty – if not genetically imposed or an indelibly trained response, respectively.
Understanding the darker points of Billy’s twisted history, Sylvia questioned, “Do you believe that he’ll shun his surrogate family and the Djibouti Clan lineage so easily?”
Always positive regarding the matters of the Shokan, Sanjuana shook his head affirmatively when claiming, “Of course. I’ve faced Billy. He is powerful enough to have his cake and eat it too – if he so wishes to do so.”
“That’s not exactly what I meant,” Sylvia clarified, “because this decision of how his surrogate family and the Djibouti Clan will react might not be Billy’s to make. I don’t want to see him hurt anymore over this, and we need to be prepared to help him in any event that rears its head.”
“Absolutely,” Sanjuana nodded his agreement, “to the glory of the Shokan. We will both be there for him in whatever he needs.”
Billy had been wronged on all sides. Apparently, the Shokan made some moves of savagery as far as the Smith family was concerned. Before him stood the bastard son of Claw – named Glove, the spawn of the original Shokan leader’s having raped Billy’s surrogate grandmother. That situation left both of his surrogate grandparents murdered.
With the Shokan ultimately locked in a blood feud with the Djibouti Clan, Billy’s master Acro had taken it upon himself to steal the child of Glove and Commander away for delivery to Johnny and Charlene Smith in an attempt to make the Smith family more whole from the barbaric actions of the Shokan by claiming a life for the two which were taken and seemingly putting an end to the enemy martial arts clan’s leadership bloodline. Honestly, it was brilliant but still wrong.
There was no indication that Glove and Commander might not have been capable of taking the Shokan in a different direction than that of the past leadership, and Acro’s tit for Claw’s tat caused Billy’s biological father to become somewhat worse than the original Shokan leader ever was – throwing everybody and everything away for basically this one moment of reunion. It was how any father would have reacted.
And of Billy’s biological mother, he did not even know where to start. With Glove, he only knew what he had been told – which suffice to say was surprisingly thorough and accurate. But his surrogate family and his master Acro had held back information regarding Commander. Perhaps they did not know where she was at, or maybe they just did not go out of their way to find her. He was so torn right now with his thoughts in a jumble, his allegiance in flux, and his familial feelings now undisputed.
“Where do I even begin?” Billy stood before Glove and Commander. Pleading while holding back additional tears, he said, “I want to know everything about you.”
Somewhat ruining the ambiance was Glove who happened to be coughing uncontrollably. Drawing the gazes of both Commander and Billy, he appeared to be sickly in his thinly frail posture. This was not the same picture of the man who had fought across two universes with an unmatched strength of conviction to retrieve his son. This was a man who looked like he had achieved his life’s work and was getting ready to move on.
Compassion for Glove was not something that Billy was used to showing because of the atrocities which had been perpetrated by his biological father against his Djibouti Clan brethren, so in this instance, he needed to stow the feelings of the past and treat that man like any other person who was ailing. He wondered, “Are you alright, Father?”
“Hearing you refer to me as your father,” Glove meekly looked upward as a former shell of himself to say while doing a poor job of holding back some tears of his own, “has made everything,” he paused to hack at his side so as to not have forgotten his manners and deportment in being sick, “worth…the sacrifice. I love you, Billy – my son.”
“Tell him how you feel,” Commander urged. Her eyes were foreshadowy, and the sentiment seemed like more of a suggestion than a request. Why?
“I love you too,” Billy looked away from Commander and met a needful expression in Glove’s paining face, “Father.” His biological parents knew something. For as screwed up as the Djibouti Clan student’s life had been to this point, he could tell that something was just not right.
As if netting a long sought after approval, Glove nodded happily with a smile before politely excusing himself, “I’m going to – I’m going to retire to my quarters and give you two…time to get to know each other.” He patted Billy on the shoulder and trudged his way slowly toward the outside of the office.
Sanjuana placed a left hand over the sling which was immobilizing his right arm within it. Billy was strong in giving him the injury but merciful in not going any further with things outside of the hyperextension. Running his left hand across the injured appendage caused him to wonder aloud, “What is it like to be converted? The power?”
Answering honestly, Sylvia replied, “Wonderful. It’s marvelous to be a part of this Doran culture,” but she prefaced her response, “although, genetically, I’m incapable of believing otherwise about my situation.”
“Eh?” Sanjuana was puzzled.
“The only reason as to why I can even admit that fact to you,” Sylvia explained, “is because the Aristocracy happens to be the one sect of Dorans which tends to veer away from forcibly bending their people to its will. As with any culture, that is almost always a possibility, but with the Doran people and the concept of genetic rank, it’s easy to do.”
This piece of news was difficult for Sanjuana to take, so he looked for the positive in the negative, “But your increased abilities -”
Cutting Sanjuana off, Sylvia made clear, “It doesn’t mean anything. I didn’t want this. And for those who do, I pity you. To belong to something which happens to be supposedly greater but requires your autonomy is nothing short of slavery. You refuse to see it, and you don’t believe me – you won’t believe me until it’s too late, and then you can’t believe me.”
Stifling Sanjuana’s ability to stubbornly refute Sylvia’s unbiased evidence with none of his own outside of blind allegiance was the emergence of Glove coming from out of the office. Looking incredibly feeble, the leader of the Shokan hobbled past them in almost an elderly yet sage manner.
“I’ll be alright,” Glove stopped to say after sensing the concern in Sylvia’s and Sanjuana’s stares. He was by no means as aged as he currently appeared to be, and the immediacy of his statement was unclear. Would the Shokan leader be alright before or after his health further deteriorated into taking a turn for the worse?
Hurrying to Glove’s side, Sanjuana moved to aid the Shokan leader back to his quarters. The help was humbly accepted, and the both of them continued on while Sylvia stood, watching on – hoping for Billy’s sake that things would turn out okay.
With the door having slid closed behind Glove’s exit, Billy turned to basically interrogate Commander, “What is up with him?”
Commander answered some question, “You spent your entire life hating Glove while he spent your entire life loving you. Do not make this any harder on him than you already have.”
“Wait,” was Billy just being accused of something, he wondered as his confusion continued, “Mother, please – tell me what’s happening.”
“Stop,” Commander delivered a backhand slap to Billy’s face in the enunciation of her disdain, “acting like a spoiled child, and step up to claim your birthright.”
If it were anybody else, Billy would have easily blocked the blow, but from the haze of astonishment in that the aggression came from his mom, he found himself dropped to his knees before her by the sheer force of the attack alone. Tears once again clouded his vision as Commander stood dominantly overhead of him. She was so powerful – the Djibouti Clan student noticed as he began to shake subtly and cower overtly.
Neither Djibouti Clan nor Shokan training was necessary for Commander as her experience came from navigating the treacherous pathways throughout the government of the Doran Aristocracy to become its Queen. She had then managed to work her way through the various Space Force ranks, yet none of this seemed to resonate with the once cocky, unacceptably disrespectful, and emotional mess of a son who flinched before her upon approach. “It is your fault that this day has come to pass. I should blame Johnny and Charlene for making you soft. I should have Acro and Acra Lin executed for their villainy. And you, Billy – I should disown you for allowing the lot of them to poison your mind.”
These accusations were tearing away at Billy’s very core of existence. The words were cutting him deeply without any sort of blood having been spilt. He countered, “Fu– this. You shouldn’t have let them take me!”
“I still have a daughter left,” Commander sniped as she turned her back to Billy, shattering his entire universe.
The realization that Billy had a sister did not quite hit or resonate with the disapproval of Commander crushing what was left of his resolve. He was destroyed. His heart was broken. He could not stop crying. All of his power and training meant nothing at this moment. After so much time had passed with them being apart from each other, the loss of any sort of approval was devastating him to the nth degree.
Submissively, Billy dropped his head to the floor while he stretched to reach out for Commander’s legs. She kicked his weak attempt at diffusing this situation away which caused him to collapse onto his belly like a shunned and defeated child who could no longer negotiate the path to composure. He had quickly become putty in her hands, and a sinister smile crossed her lips to confirm the intent of her cold actions.
The walk to Glove’s quarters was taking longer than usual, so he made small talk, “You have always been one of my most loyal Shokan.”
“Of course, Master,” Sanjuana felt that his track record in this regard went without saying. “Please, save your strength.”
“No,” Glove disagreed, “I have one more request for you.”
It was so annoying how useless Sanjuana’s right arm had become, but he made due in guiding Glove with his left arm. How embarrassed Glove must have felt in being associated with him. The Shokan raised a valid point, “You heap praise on me and make continued requests for my service, but am I not anything more than just a disgraced soldier?”
Glove sighed as the door to his quarters had finally been reached, “Whether you are or not makes no further difference to me. My last request is for you to serve my son well. If you need to rededicate yourself to the role which you fill within the Shokan, then that is your requirement. But you must do this for me. You must thrive, survive, and stay alive – protect my son with the fury through which I fought to recover him.”
“Yes,” Sanjuana was taken aback by the ‘last request’ part of things but acknowledged, “of course, Master. Please, just rest now.” He ushered Glove inside of the room before attempting to take his leave.
Not quite a death grip of Glove’s right-gloved hand on Sanjuana’s left hand, but it was a tighter handshake than normal. If only his Shokan disciple had clearly known what he was implying and why he did not want to be left alone as that door slid closed.
A visible purple energy then traced and highlighted the lintel, jambs, and sill:
“Are you satisfied with the outcome?”
A past of treachery and selling his soul had finally caught up to Glove. As his head dropped, he began to break down when he admitted happily of the results but disappointingly of his continuing role in the outcome’s unfolding via a disheartening cry of, “Yes.”
Vector Oblivion’s purple eyes shone through the darkness at the far end of the room – a part yet to be approached. It decided, “Then your debt to the Pillorian Regime need be repaid.”