~Chapter Thirty Six- Raul's Gambit~
Miro is alive, and met with the Emperor himself. The two agreed to take part in a peace meeting to come to some sort of compromise.
Many soldiers leave the military thinking that any compromise with Miro would damage this country irreparably. The soldiers that were having doubts about the government gain a newfound trust in them after hearing the news. Those that begun to favor Miro’s revolution.
The Emperor explains that an agreement will only be made if they can come to a compromise. If not then we’ll be forced to return to war, and insists that we cooperate until then. General Elian backs the Emperor completely.
Miro is alive... Juaquin thought Miro was the Montoya boy back in Sotra. He must be acting as Miro now. I’m sure he pushed Melissa into this revolution. He’s responsible for the war.
I’ll never be able to wash my hands of killing my own daughter, there was always more I could’ve done to protect her. But the Montoya boy is at fault as well. He’s to blame for the deaths of this war. Any compromise made with him will spell the end of this country. I can’t let that happen. The Emperor is a coward for stooping to negotiation. Even if I lose my life in the process, I can’t allow Miro to get his way.
I call Ilyana to my office. She was one of the more vocal individuals against the Emperor’s actions. She outright said he was a fool for meeting with Miro.
She enters my office abruptly, “I’m guessing you want to tell me to stop speaking against the Emperor, don’t you?” She asks immediately, practically yelling “Well I won’t. Everyone needs to understand what the Emperor is doing is wrong. Nothing you’re going to say will stop me either. And if you have a problem with that you can-”
“Ilyana.” I interrupt her calmly. “It’s okay. I agree with you.”
“What?” Ilyana stammers.
“I agree with you. We have to stop him.” I continue, keeping my voice low. “Can I trust you, Lieutenant?”
“Of-Of course General Rios.” Ilyana stammers again.
I leave my desk and face her directly, “I’ll ask again Lieutenant. Can I trust you. I can’t afford any doubt.”
Ilyana’s face straightens and she answers again with confidence. “You can trust me General.”
“Good. I have something in mind, and I need you for it. I’ll ask you to select a handful of likeminded individuals you can trust to support this. No one else must know. Can you do this?”
“Yes General. What do you have in mind?” She asks.
I pause. I know if I go forward with what I’m planning there’s no turning back. It will leave a profound impact on everyone in this country,
For a moment, I’m unsure. Before Melissa died, she said she would’ve liked to me to join her. Of course I turned her down. I could never undo what I had done, but maybe helping Miro’s revolutions would be a way of making reparations.
No, I would’ve love to. But I can’t. I need to think about what’s best for the future of this country, not just to honor her. Our country without the PCC will turn to ruin like the rest of the world, and I can’t allow that to happen. My choice is clear.
I sit Ilyana down and explain my plan. At first, she’s horrified by the plan. But after she sits with it for a while, she realizes it may be the only way to end all of this. She becomes determined to see it to fruition.
Per the Emperor’s orders, a ceasefire from both sides is held up until the day of the meeting. General Elian culled forces from across the country to the capitol in preparation for the meeting. While this meeting was for peace, the General was prepared to end the war here if Miro becomes hostile. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miro used the Emperor’s peace offering as an opening to attack.
Ample numbers are left at key positions across the country in the event that Miro planned an attack elsewhere, but the majority of the military’s forces are here at the Capitol. The largest assembly of the military’s forces in one place. Tens of thousands of soldiers surround the capitol, with tanks, artillery and all other weaponry, all standing steadfast under the Rhiveran Flag and the Capitol’s insurmountable defenses.
The Capitol has a stone wall several stories high surrounding it, built long before our country was known as Rhivera. Since then its been equipped with artillery, and missile firing capabilities, protecting it from any potential threat. Within the Capitol waits the Emperor patiently. There is a short walk from the Capitol and the defensive wall surrounding it.
General Elian orders the military into a formation protecting the northern end of the building, where Miro will be approaching from. The eastern and western sides of the capitol are reinforced as well.
It begins to rain, at first a light drizzle, and soon turning much fiercer. With a stroke of lightning, Miro’s forces became visible on the plains to the north. They approach in black uniforms, bearing their own Black Flag with a white Crescent moon at its center.
It appears Miro had assembled most of his forces as well, or rather, Arturo Montoya had. Their numbers are great, but still can’t match the military’s.
They stop a kilometer or so away from the capitol. Several vehicles continue on separately. It’s clear what they’re doing. The majority of the forces are remaining at a safe distance from the capitol’s defenses, while a small group comes to meet the Emperor.
The army grows tense as the vehicles approach. General Elian orders that they provide an opening to them so they may pass through our forces uninhibited. The smallest of openings are given so they can pass through until they reach the capitol’s northern entrance, surrounded by our forces. If we wished to, there was nothing that they could do to stop us from killing this small group.
They stop their vehicles, and I watch as they step out. Some appear to ordinary soldiers, others bear Survival Suits re-colored black and grey to match the rest of their forces. Then he steps out. A black cloaked figure in an ebony helmet steps out leading them. Miro. It’s Arturo beneath that helmet, I know it.
Then another steps out. A white figure with a silvery helmet and blue visor. The suit only Nirivo would have. Without thinking I walk forward, breaking from the military’s soldiers and stepping in the way of Miro and his soldiers. They each flinch, some of them reaching for weapons as I block their way.
“Juaquin?” I look directly at the white figure. “Is that you?”
“Raul.” He says. It is Juaquin. I throw my arms around him, and Miro’s soldiers around him jump to high alert.
Everyone on both sides stares at the two of us. “My boy. My boy. What’re you doing Juaquin? What’re you doing with these people?” I ask.
Juaquin releases me, “I’m with Miro now.” He says.
“No. No not you.” I splutter, “You have to realize this is a mistake Juaquin.”
Juaquin pauses again, “This is a chance to end all of the fighting Raul.
Rain continues to pour down, trickling through my beard, and passing over Juaquin’s helmet. Before I can say another word, the Capitol’s gates open. The Emperor and General Elian stand ready among several others at the gate, ready to welcome Miro and his company inside the walls.
The Emperor. The oldest man in the country who has managed to evade the Population Control far longer than he should have. The exact sort of person who would want a compromise to end the PCC. The Emperor and steps out to meet Miro.
“Juaquin please. Don’t stay with them. Come with me.” I plead with him again.
“It’s what Melissa and Dad would’ve wanted.” Juaquin says, leaving me speechless. “I have to go.”
Juaquin leaves me and joins Miro. The two of them go together to meet with the Emperor. All I can do is watch as the Capitol’s gates close as Juaquin follows along with them.
“It’s Juaquin.” I whisper to Ilyana, so not another soul can hear. “He’s with them.”
“What? He would never...” Ilyana is equipped with her own azure Survival Suit. She’s been preparing to carry things out today.
“We can’t go through with it. Not now. Not with him there.” I tell her.
Ilyana is quiet. “We have to finish this Raul. We only have one chance and this is it.”
“He made his choice. Just like your daughter did.” Ilyana says sternly, as if I were her subordinate, “I’ll do everything I can to protect him, but there’s too much on the line. The fate of our country is counting on this Raul. We can’t back out now.”
My stomach churns. “Do what you can to save him. Carry out the mission.”