Rhivera

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~Chapter Thirty Eight- The Fate of Rhivera Part 2~

~Chapter Thirty-Eight~

~Juaquin ~

We burst from the meeting room, bullets scarring the previously polished and perfectly maintained walls around us. Miro’s soldiers group up and return fire at Ilyana and those few with her. With her Survival Suit she’s unfazed, but the rest of her soldiers begin to fall back, overwhelmed by our numbers. But it will only be moments before we’re met by the rest of the Capitol’s forces.

Arturo points to the Survival soldiers under his command, “Guard our front and backs! Act as our shields! Let’s move!”

We begin through the hallways of the capitol, rushing to eastern end of the building per Arturo’s command, passing by all of the emptied office rooms there.

“What happened in there Miro?” A soldier who wasn’t present for the meeting asks.

“Some rogue military soldiers killed the Emperor and are framing us for it. They didn’t want our peace meeting to go well.”

Why? Why would Ilyana do something like that? We were close to a solution! We were right there!

We pass by the hallway to the elevators, and are immediately met with gunfire once again. Word has already spread, they believe we killed the Emperor. The Survival Suit soldiers and I step forward and deal with our assailants, other soldiers who had just taken the elevator up. Bullets strike the metal doors of the elevator, and those soldiers fall to us. We were still dealing with small enough numbers that we could handle them.

“Destroy the elevators.” Arturo orders, “That will slow them down a bit.”

Without much haste Miro’s soldiers run up to the elevator, open the door and toss a grenade in and swiftly return to us. The elevator combusts and a terrible metal screeching comes from the elevator as it plummets down. A horrible crash is heard as it strikes the the ground floor.

Outside I can hear turrets being fired, and missiles being launched from the defensive wall’s surrounding the capitol.

“Find the stairs. Everyone move east and stay together!” Arturo commands. We move, and I stay at the back of the group ready to defend us. I’m sure Ilyana is close at our heel.

“What’s going on out there?” Arturo asks through the radio as we continue.

A distressed Commander on the other end of the radio answers, “The military just started unloading on us Miro! The Capitol’s defenses are able to hit us, and all of the military’s forces are moving toward us. What happened in there?”

“Don’t concern yourself with that now! Just focus on the enemy in front of you. Have our forces fall back until you’re out of range of the capitol’s defenses and draw out the enemy as we discussed.” Arturo urgently spouts. He’s getting every word he can out before we’re met with more soldiers here.

“What about you?” The Commander asks through the radio.

“We’ll do what we can to support you from here. Don’t worry about us. I’ll be unlikely to be able to deliver orders from here. It’s up to you now.” Arturo responds.

Before they can respond, Arturo changes the frequency and speaks into the radio again, to someone else, “It’s happened. It’s time to move out.”

“Understood.” Another voice replies simply.

More gunfire rings from behind us. I feel a stinging feeling in my back, and a few of the soldiers near me drop to the floor. I look back and see a group of military soldiers rivaling our own.

“Grenade!” A soldier of Miro’s yells, before throwing it at our enemy and forcing them to retreat. The marble floors of the capitol crack when the grenade explodes.

Finally, we come to a staircase, a marble stair case with fine wooden railings. The staircase spans all of the floors of the capitol, with fine wooden railings.

“Everyone start descending the staircase. Our goal is to get outside to the Eastern Defensive wall!” Arturo rushes to say. Hurriedly we all move. Arturo stops me and grabs my shoulder. “We need to buy time Juaquin. As much as we can.”

I nod, “Okay. Do you have a plan to get us out of here?”

“We’re going to try.”

“That’s all I need to hear.” I grab him by the shoulder and move him along down the staircase, “Get moving Miro.”

I stay with a few of the other Survival Suit Soldiers and defend the way to the stair case while Arturo and the rest of his forces descend. A crowd of military soldiers arrive, but we’re able to hold the position well. As long as we maintain distance, there’s little regular soldiers can do to stop Survival Suit users.

Unless of course... You have your own. Out of the crowd comes Ilyana in her azure Survival Suit, gun lowered. She’s walking through whatever gunfire comes her way. One of Miro’s Survival Suit soldiers steps forward to deal with her directly. She upholsters a pistol from her hip and fires at them. A plume of smoke erupts from the gun, cutting through the survival suit. It’s the same type of gun that killed Melissa. I pull my own from my holster, my hands begin to shake as I grip it. I don’t want to use it.

Ilyana walks into the the stairway unimpeded, firing at another of Miro’s Survival Sit soldiers. I lunge forward and grip her pistol arm and I arc it away. She impulsively grabs my own pistol arm and tries to tear it from me. The military soldiers all rush to Ilyana’s aid. I have to get that gun out of her hand. I duck under her arm and twist her gun arm behind her. I can hear her exhale as I twist her arm back into a more painful position. She drops the gun to the floor.

The military soldiers make it to the opening of the stair way. I fire my own gun at them, and it pierces through three of them at once.

“Come any closer and I’ll kill her.” I say, placing the gun to her helmet, trying to keep my hand from shaking as I do. I want to look convincing. They yield at my threat. I look to Miro’s Survival Suit Soldiers, “Get down the stairs back to Miro. “I’ll hold things here. Move it!”

The other Survival suit soldiers with me start down the stairs, and I’m left holding Ilyana staving her soldiers off. I keep a firm grip on her arm so she can’t get away. Every moment I hold her here will buy time for the others.

“You’ve thrown in with them now huh?” Ilyana asks in a whisper, her voice cold.

“Why Ilyana? Why did you kill them? We didn’t have to fight anymore.” I whisper to her.

“Rhivera needs Population Control Juaquin. I won’t let Miro destroy this country.” Ilyana says, ” Raul and I don’t want you to to be killed with them. You can help us finish Miro off for good.”

“Raul? Is he behind this?” I ask.

“Yes... This is the only way Juaquin. Please help us.” Ilyana pleads. She sounds almost desperate.

My hand begins to shake even more. “I can’t.”

Ilyana sighs, “I’m sorry Juaquin.” She raises her voice so all her soldiers can hear. “Nirivo is bluffing! Take him now!”

Her soldiers advance, and Ilyana grabs my pistol and tries to tear it from me. My finger lingers over the trigger but I won’t pull it. I look to the stair rail... We’re on the fifth floor. The Suit helped me survive a similar fall before, it could again. I grip Ilyana tightly and pull her back, throwing both our weights over the rail. Ilyana screams.

We fall, and I reach for anything to grab onto. I muster up all my grip strength and grab a stair rail, and I slam into the floor beneath the rail, knocking the air out of me. My grip loosens and I feel myself start to fall again when a Hand reaches out for mine. Miro’s soldiers. They grab me and pull me over the rail. I immediately collapse to the floor.

“Are you okay?” Arturo’s voice asks.

My ribs and arm hurt from the impact, but the Survival Suit certainly helps. But Ilyana! I stand and look over the rail, I see Ilyana lying at the bottom of the stairwell motionlessly. She fell all five floors.

Arturo briefly glances down at her, “Juaquin, we have to keep going. They’ll catch up soon.”

I look at her for any sort of movement, no matter how slight. Even something as simple as light breathing, just so I can know she’s alive. Then I see her arm twitch. She groans aloud. She slowly turns to her stomach and tries to push up off the ground, but can’t gather the strength to. At least she’s alive. The Military soldiers above us begin to rush down the stairs.

“Okay. Let’s move.”

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Arturo and I move through the capitol as unpredictably as possible, alternating to different stair wells at random. With our movements and the battle raging outside it makes it difficult for them to track us. Finally, we make it back outside, between the capitol and its defensive walls. The rain and thunder have become even more severe, and we can more clearly hear the rampart sound of projectiles being launched outside the Capitol’s defensive walls.

Arturo leads us to the Eastern Defensive Wall and he devises a strategy to enter inside. I lead the remaining survival suit soldiers directly inside while the rest the support us a distance. The wall guard’s attention is focused on the enemy outside, not inside, so we’re able to enter the wall after a brief skirmish.

We capture a floor of the wall and its defenses there. The outward facing wall is lined with turrets, as well as small sentry openings in the wall to fire through. Through them I can finally see the battle raging outside.

The once green plains to the north of the capitol had been trampled and drained of all life by the sheer ferocity of the battle. The military’s forces chase after Miro’s army. The Capitol’s walls relentlessly fire upon Miro’s army, but they’ve managed to get just out of range. The majority of Miro’s army and the Military are in battle here. The country will belong to whoever wins this battle.

Arturo orders his soldiers to take control of the turrets and fire directly down upon the military. The Survival Suit soldiers and I to do their best to hold this position, stopping anyone from overtaking it. Who knows how long we’ll be able to. It’s a miracle how well we’ve managed so far with our numbers.

They fire down upon the military outside of the capitol, disorienting them terribly. They have trouble isolating where our attack is coming from.

What is Arturo’s endgame here? With the capitol’s defenses and military’s numbers, there’s no way his army could win. His army’s best move is to run, yet he ordered them to stay and fight.

Through the Capitol’s defensive walls comes a large force, at least a few hundred. Far too many for us to handle ourselves. Raul leads that force, making his way to our position. They’ve come to deal with us. Arturo must realize we can’t challenge that the numbers Raul has with him.

I’m sure I can stop Raul. At least for a while. I look to Arturo and his helmet. The same sort of helmet Melissa wore back in Sotra. I grab Arturo’s wrist. “I can buy us time, but I need you to come with me.”

Arturo nods, and we descend down the levels of the Capitol’s defensive walls to meet Raul directly, all while Miro’s comrades continue to attack the military via the turrets.

“What’s your plan here Juaquin?” Arturo asks nervously.

“Just follow my lead.” I say. I only hope this works.

Arturo and I step out of the defensive wall to meet Raul’s forces directly. Raul’s forces come to halt when they spot us. I’m sure Raul commanded them to halt upon seeing me. Raul breaks through his ranks to see us. Raul marches forward until he’s only a few meters away from us, with hundreds at his back.

“Juaquin!” Raul yells, rage in his voice. I can feel my body shake. “Come here now!”

I say nothing.

“Juaquin, I don’t you to be hurt!” Raul strains his voice yelling for me, “Come here now!”

I step forward, “If you want Juaquin you’ll have to get through me.”

Raul’s face turns to confusion, twisting into this uncomfortable expression. Arturo glances at me as well, equally confused, but only for a moment. He understands what I’m trying to do.

“You’re not Juaquin?” Raul asks me, the one in Nirivo’s Survival Suit.

“No. He is.” I motion to Arturo behind me, dressed as Miro. “Juaquin is Miro. Are you going to kill him just like you did your daughter?”

Raul looks horrified. I know its cruel to say this to him, but it may be our only way out of this. The rank of soldiers behind him begin to murmur amongst themselves.

Arturo follows my lead and says, “Melissa wouldn’t want us to keep fighting like this. You know that.”

Raul is stuck in a stupor, “Juaquin...”

Arturo persists, “Melissa was right. And you know that.”

Raul is frozen with too many questions to count and unable to lead. Tears begin to trail down his face.

“General?” A Colonel behind Raul comes forward with hurriedness, “Your orders?” Raul turns to them and they see his pitiable condition.

Arturo whispers to me, “Juaquin, we have to go back inside.”

“Why?” I whisper back. There was fear in Arturo’s words.

The Colonel stares at Raul as he tries to wipe the tears from his face. The officer’s face straightens out and becomes cold. He turns to the forces behind them. “It’s time! Attack! Kill Miro!”

The crowd of soldiers’ roar. I can barely hear Raul shout “NO!” over them. Arturo and I rush inside as we’re peppered with countless bullets. Miro’s comrades drop everything to defend this position. If not for the sturdy stone walls, the bullets would’ve torn through and struck everyone.

Things become a blur. I’m no longer thinking, there’s only an animalistic drive to survive, unloading my gun of all its ammunition to keep soldiers from entering inside the walls. We toss crates and debris at the entranceway to slow them down, even if only slightly. They break inside the walls and we run, run to where ever we can. Miro’s comrades die one by one, only those in Survival Suits survive. But even they can’t hold them off. One of us runs out of ammunition, is grabbed and thrown the ground by the military’s soldiers, and they continue their pursuit after the remainder of us. We scale a flight of stairs and throw our final grenade down, several are caught in the blast. In a moment they’ll come after us again, and we won’t be able to stop them.

...But they don’t. They don’t keep following us. The rest of us catch our breaths, assuming that any moment they’ll keep doggedly pursuing us. But there’s nothing. Did Raul manage to call them off?

All around us is gunfire. But I can tell some of it is coming from within the wall now. I peer through a sentry slot in the wall. Hundreds of soldiers clad in black are challenging Raul’s forces.

“About time.” A breathless Arturo utters. He grabs at his radio, “Trinidad? Are you inside?”
“Yes sir!” An animated Commander Trinidad answers, “The military was so focused on defending themselves to the north that they weren’t prepared for our attack in the South. Like you said they would.”

“Perfect, keep going. We need to capture the defensive walls as quickly as possible.”

“Yes Miro sir!” Trinidad exclaims over the radio.

Arturo stands and addresses those with him, “Alright no time for rest everyone. We don’t have much time. Commander Trinidad has broken into the base.”

“How did they manage to get inside?” One of Miro’s soldiers asks.

“There is an exit point from the underground south of the Capitol. We saved it for an occasion like this.” Arturo answers. “There’s no time to waste. Let’s move!”

We meet with Trinidad’s forces, and we began to topple each side of the Capitol’s defensive wall while barring entry from the outside. By the time we took over all but the northern wall, the military caught on to what we were doing. But by then it was too late. Miro’s army manned the Capitol’s defenses and unleashed its full might upon the unprepared military. At the same time, Miro’s forces outside took the offensive. The moment we captured the Capitol’s defenses, the battle was over. The Capitol’s defenses are too powerful for them to weather for long at such a close range.

White flags rise from the military’s ranks, and Arturo immediately orders his forces to cease their attack. General Victor had surrendered.

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