Chapter 31: The Broken Bond.
At long last, Tommy and company finally reached the doors of Rowlett and were greater with excitement from everyone inside as long-separated friendships and relationships reunited. Tommy observed as Mohamed and the people of the kingdom greeted Brooklyn and Garrett wholeheartedly. To his left, Vic quickly jumped into Chino’s arms, and for the first time in a very long time, they both looked happy. Much to Tommy’s surprise, Tito furiously wrapped him, Chino, and Vic all in a rather large bear hug with a radiating smile on his face.
After being set down, a figure with several bodyguards at his side made his way over to the cafeteria to greet him. Tommy and his entourage met them in the middle, and after several lingering moments, he came face to face with Tristan.
“So... I’m guessing Jacob won’t be bothering us anymore?” Tristan asked with a slight chuckle in an attempt to break the tension.
Tommy allowed the silence to linger on for a few moments longer before responding, “Doesn’t seem that way. Brendan?”
“He got away, but we won.”
“Well... that’s too bad. If only my boys and I could’ve been here. He wouldn’t have gotten away so easily.”
The two sides, aside from their leaders, shrugged off the tension and dapped one another up before heading their separate ways. Tristan and Tommy’s eye contact lingered on a bit longer than Tristan would’ve liked.
As the two sides split off, Chino stared from one side to another, conflicted where his allegiance truly lies. Deep down, he knew he still had something to do, and with a nod to Tristan and with a heavy heart, he walked away to rejoin Tommy. As the group caught each other up on all the events that had just unfolded at both Rowlett and the Kingdom, Vic’s eye contact quickly drew Chino away from the conversation.
“Alright, my good men, I’m gonna go get some pussy. I’ll catch y’all later on tonight if y’all need me y’all know where I’m at,” he said, dapping up his allies before heading with Vic back to their home.
“It’s time,” Drew said under his breath to Tommy, who nodded in agreement. Drew and Bishop quickly led the way as Tommy, Trang, Aryan, Angel, and Naydelin to an isolated clearing where the kingdom's people had been summoned. Garrett, Brooklyn, and Mohamed were already there and nodded to Tommy as he approached the front of the crowd.
After a swift silence, somebody spoke up, “You defeated Jacob, right?” a man in the front of the crowd asked nervously.
“I... yes, I did”, Tommy answered. In unison, all the Kingdom people bent the knee, still obliging by the ancient rites of the Kingdom. “This is almost too easy,” Drew whispered to Bishop under his breath.
“No. Stand up; this isn't right”, Tommy exclaimed, much to everyone’s surprise, “The Kingdom and the King are dead, and so is every law that Jacob put in place. Jacob was a man and died as one, same as you and I are just men. You owe me nothing.”
“What... what are you trying to say?” Brooklyn asked from the back of the crowd.
“That there will be no more kings. You’re all free to live out your lives as you see them. I can’t ask any of you to follow me or fight for me; I’ll have to earn your loyalty myself.”
The audience stared at each other confused and unaware of what to do with such newfound freedom. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”, Drew asked him while tightly gripping his shoulder.
“Breaking the wheel,” Tommy said definitely, pushing Drew’s hand off of him.
The large crowd confined to talk amongst themselves before Garrett stepped up, “You’d willingly reject our undivided loyalty?”
“If that undivided loyalty meant taking away your freedom, then yes. I just reject it.”
“Then you are more than worthy. I will use my newfound freedom to assist thy in any way I can”, he said, patting Tommy on the shoulder and joining the Asian Alliance and Beanie Gang standing behind him.
“I will as well,” Brooklyn said in support as she too joined Tommy’s ranks. “What the Hell” Mohamed exclaimed as he too followed in suit.
Soon, every present member of the Kingdom pledged themselves to Tommy. He finally had an army.
As Tommy returned to his quarters, Lily, Vic’s new assistant in the infirmary, informed him that a dying man was requesting his presence. With a tired sigh, he obliged followed in suit.
“Tommy... a pleasure to finally... meet you”, a bandaged and battered man of seemingly Asian heritage said while signaling for Tommy to move in closer.
“He was injured at the battle for Rowlett. He fought for the Kingdom”, Lily told Tommy quietly as he approached the man.
“Do I know you?”, Tommy asked somewhat confused.
“No... not personally, but I have something for you...”
“What is it?” Tommy asked cautiously, taking a step back.
“My... family heirloom, that has passed from generation to generation. It’s yours now.”
“I don’t know you; why would you leave this for me?”, Tommy asked even more confused than before.
The man, with a burst of speed, pulled Tommy in close and whispered, “You bested me in combat... you gave me these scars in the castle. It’s yours now, I insist. I left it at the fence line directly in front of Kids Kingdom before the nurses took me in.”
“That doesn’t make sense... how could you have fought in the castle? I was told that nobody from the village reached Rowlett. Did anyone else make it?” Tommy asked inquisitively.
“No... that’s why I must warn you. Nobody made it back for a reason. We were hunted. They killed all of them! Man... woman... child... it didn’t matter to those animals...”
“I don’t-“Tommy began to say before being cut off.
“Not so loud, they’re listening... always listening...”
“Who? Who’s listening?”
“Tommy,” Drew said with several members of the Beanie Gang behind him, “Chino called for a meeting. We need you present.”
“The beanie gang,” the dying man whispered as Tommy slowly made his way to join Drew.
Tommy ordered the beanie gang members to carry on towards Chino’s house, promising that he’d catch up soon. He cautiously made his way to the fence line, where an elegant silver katana lay doused in red. Upon first inspection, it felt surprisingly light yet shockingly sharp at the blade's touch resulting in quite a bit of blood from his index finger. Cleaning off the blade, he threw its sheath over his shoulder as he left to regroup with the others.
“Took you long enough,” Chino exclaimed as Tommy entered the building.
“Enough wasting time. Tomorrow night, we strike”, Drew exclaimed with excitement.
“Tomorrow night?” Tommy asked.
“Yes, haven’t you heard? We’re having a feast to celebrate our triumph over the Kingdom. Let them get drunk, and we’ll strike fast and kill them before they even knew what hit them”, Bishop exclaimed proudly of their plan.
“Is it possible to ya know, not kill all of them?” Tommy asked, aware that Aryan was not present. Drew likely had that set up as Aryan operated as the moral compass of their posse.
“If we don’t kill them all, they’ll retaliate, and we’ll have another war on our hands. Is that what you want?” Drew asked.
“He’s right, Tommy,” Chino said, eyeing him suggestively, “it’s the only way.”
“So be it. Tomorrow it”, Tommy said, frustrated as he stormed out of the building.