~Chapter Thirty Nine- The Fate of Rhivera Part 3~
My ears are still ringing from the drumming of gunfire from the last few hours. My ribs have a throbbing pain from the fall I took earlier. But finally the fighting ceased. Miro’s army surrounds the military and forces them to disarm. With that, Miro’s army was undeniably the strongest fighting force in the country.
Both sides are still confused at what started the battle. Word started to travel through that Miro murdered the Emperor during the meeting. That Miro had used the peace meeting as way to get inside the Capitol and take over its defenses.
Miro’s army is demoralized by the idea, “We wanted to win. But not like this.” I heard one of them say around a group.
“Why did you do this Miro? Why kill the Emperor. I really thought we were trying to negotiate.” Commander Trinidad asks Arturo.
“We didn’t. The military turned on the Emperor.” Arturo responds. Trinidad stares back at him, doubtful. He didn’t believe him. most didn’t.
We have to prove we didn’t kill him. Though we tried, no one could find Raul. But we found Ilyana. His forces left her laid out on a stretcher. She’s injured, but it isn’t clear how badly. Arturo and I go to see her.
“Tell everyone what you did.” Arturo demands harshly.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ilyana feigns ignorance.
“You killed the Emperor under General Rios’s orders.” Arturo accuses.
Ilyana sneers at the two of us, “You can’t just tell lies Miro. The people will never trust after what you did.”
I remove my helmet and look at her, “Ilyana, please.”
Ilyana looks at me, her eyes still harsh. “Hope you’re satisfied Juaquin. Population Control will be destroyed after this.” I’m done talking to you. If you want to execute me, go ahead.”
“What do you want done with the military soldiers Miro?” One of his commanders asks.
“After they’ve all been disarmed, let them go. All of them.” Arturo orders solemnly.
“Are you sure about that sir?”
Thousands of military soldiers are let loose by Miro. Thousands of others had their bodies strewn about around the Capitol’s defenses. Even General Victor is released, the last remaining General. Ilyana is taken by some of her companions from Uneva. Meanwhile, Miro’s army solidifies control over the Capitol and the region of Desi as a whole. With this victory, the majority of Rhivera is under Miro’s command. Only Uneva, Errest, Sotra and Rhy remain. There’s little hope of the government and military regaining control.
As I watch the thousands of soldiers leave, I say, “You know they’ll try to regroup and counter attack later don’t you?”
“Yes. But, too many have died today.” Arturo answers solemnly.
“What now?” I ask. He’s always seems to have a plan, I only wish he has another now.
Arturo shakes his head, “I’ll never be able to convince them Miro didn’t kill the Emperor. All that we can do is carry on. Try to do the best we can for this country.”
We were so close. We could’ve figured things out. But Raul and Ilyana were too rigid in their belief of the PCC to accept any alternative. I need to take a walk.
I return to the Capitol building, now firmly under Miro’s control, I find the main lobby.
At the end of the room is a sepia portrait of a thin and beautiful young woman, with long black hair and tan skin. At the base of the portrait is a silver plaque with words embedded in it.
Rhivera Veran (January 5th, 1927-October 10th, 1948)
Daughter of Gregor and Cecilia. Sister of Angelo. Loving mother of Rhivon.
A truly generous and sinless soul.
Passed during the Great Famine.
This... was the Emperor’s mother. The Veran rebellion began in 1948, shortly after her passing. The country was named after Rhivera when they were finally victorious. Population Control was established a few years after to make sure a famine never repeated itself.
I climb the stairs of the capitol, fortunately much of the building is left undamaged. But as I draw close to the meeting room, the scars of battle become more evident. The floor of the peace meeting was especially terrible. The doors to the meeting room are practically crumbling away. A door falls off its hinges when I try to open the door.
The table at the center of the meeting room had been destroyed, bodies all around it. I circle the table to the Emperor’s side. The congressmen and politicians who all attended lie dead.
I find the Generals Elian Veran and Felix Falentine. Felix had a single bullet pass through his skull, while Elian appeared to have been dotted with an obscene amount of bullet wounds across his torso. If the bullets didn’t immediately kill him, then he would’ve died soon after from blood loss.
But... where is the Emperor? He sat between Felix and Elian. I look around the area. I spot a body lying on it’s stomach a few meters away. Upon taking a few steps closer, its clear that its the Emperor. Maybe he survived the initial shootout and tried to crawl away?
I stand over the Emperor’s body. A few bullet wounds in his back and legs. His body didn’t appear terribly wounded either... Nowhere near as bad as the others... That’s why Elian was so brutally shot. He jumped in front of the Emperor and tried to protect him, using his own body as a shield.
I hear... the faintest sound of breathing. I stoop down next to the Emperor’s motionless body and listen closely. I gently place a hand on his back, feeling for the slightest of movements. It’s barely recognizable, but I feel just the slightest expansion of his torso to breathe.
“Rhivon?” I whisper to the body.
Suddenly, the Emperor begins to cough pitifully. I pick at the radio at my hip, “It’s the Emperor! He’s alive!”
Arturo calls for his soldiers to bring the Emperor to the nearest hospital possible in an attempt to revive him.
Arturo tells very few that the Emperor is alive. Not until it’s clear that he could be saved. It would be wrong to say anything until then. While the Emperor is being treated, rumors spread of General Victor re-assembling an army and preparing for a final offensive to kill Miro.
Then, the Emperor speaks. Arturo sends a message that the Emperor is alive and recovering in a hospital in Desi, and invites Xander and Victor Veran to retrieve him. Of course General Victor suspects another trap and brings a great number of soldiers to meet Miro. It isn’t enough though.
Arturo and I waited at the front of the hospital for the two of them, Victor is thoroughly paranoid of us, but Xander is fixed on seeing his father. Victor keeps his guard up until the moment that we escort them into the Emperor’s hospital room.
Emperor Rhivon had been lying in bed wired up to different hospital equipment keeping him alive, his skin had grown pale, but he was past the worst of it. Xander throws his arms around his father.
Victor turns to Arturo and I, “What’s your game? Why did you save him?”
The Emperor weakly speaks, “It wasn’t them Victor. We were attacked by a small group of military soldiers. If not for your father Elian protecting me, I would’ve died along with the rest. Miro and Nirivo say it was led by Lieutenant Ilyana Ferzo under the order of General Raul Rios.”
“Why would Raul do that?” Victor asks astounded.
I remove my helmet to speak, “They thought the country would suffer without Population Control. That’s what Ilyana said to me at least.” I explain.
Victor scowls, “I’ll have them killed. I’ll hunt them down and execute them myself.”
The Emperor speaks, “Miro and I were coming to an agreement before Raul struck. A plan for a new Population Control.”
“A new Population Control?” Xander asks.
The Emperor, Arturo and I begin to explain our ideas for a new Population Control, one in which the population is controlled not through killing, but by controlling births. Ensuring that people are only born into good situations. Lives where they won’t be disadvantaged. Both seem skeptical of the idea.
“They’ll be quite the kickback against such a thing. People may riot if they lose the right to have children.” Xander points out.
“Yes. They will.” Arturo says, “The ideal situation is one where people police themselves, and only have children if they can give them a good life. But, if you want to control the population this is the only way I’ll accept.”
The Emperor coughs for a moment before gathering strength to speak again, “I think its the best way for peace, and for the future of our country. We still have much to discuss. I suggest we meet again soon.”
“We can meet in Illesto.” Arturo says, “You opened up your territory to us at a great risk to yourselves. It’s only right I extend the same courtesy.”
The Emperor says, “I insist on being present at this meeting. To make sure things go well, if you’ll give me some time to recover. I want to do one last thing for my country.”
Xander’s eyes grow wide, “One last thing?”
“Yes. If this meeting goes well, I want Population Control to take my life as was planned. I’ll be the last person to have their life taken by Population Control. You’ll take my place as Emperor after that Xander.”
Xander holds it back, but nonetheless tears come to his eyes and he hugs his father tightly.
A few weeks pass, and the Emperor musters up the strength to attend the meeting. Arturo asks that all his soldiers leave for the meeting, not wanting a chance of another fight breaking out. A small group travels with the Emperor through Desi into Illesto to meet us in one of the settlements there formed by Miro’s followers.
The Emperor’s wheelchair is carted along by Xander into the settlement. Eugenio runs his wheelchair right up to Emperor Rhivon and shakes his hand. Eugenio takes care to show the Emperor and his company around the settlement, introducing him to all of the friends he’s made while living there.
The meeting takes place in the open air, a light breeze passing by everyone as they speak. Eugenio and I attend the meeting, but only to spectate. Neither of us find it necessary to speak.
For a few hours they speak at length about the logistics and operation of the new Population Control. At times it becomes heated, but eventually some compromise is found. Everyone understands that it may take years before the system is perfected, and even longer until the public accepts it, but eventually its agreed that it’s a good path forward.
The Emperor barely speaks, leaving it to his son Xander to carry his weight. There’s a content smile on his face as the meeting draws to it end. There is more to discuss, but it leaves off on a great note.
Soon after Population Control takes the Emperor’s life, the final life to be taken by Population Control. Xander is crowned the new Emperor soon after. A funeral is for those were lost.
Felix Falentine (February 18th, 1950- March 15th, 2021)
Son of Horatio and Sophia. Brother to Ofelia.
The always amiable General.
Elian Veran (April 22nd, 1948- March 15th, 2021)
Son of Angelo and Aida. Husband to Nailah.
Father to Victor, Lena, and Belo.
Cousin and friend to Rhivon.
Loyal to the end.
Rhivon Veran (June 8th, 1943- March 31st, 2021)
Son of Rhivera. Husband to Ofelia.
Father to Xander and Korina.
Cousin and friend to Elian.
Our Emperor for thirty-two years.
Miro’s forces spread across Rhivera and it’s many bases. Victor admits that Miro is superior in military tactics to him, and relinquishes the role of Head General of the Military to Miro, holding power to Emperor Xander. The new Emperor and Head General speak to the public together, discussing their new plans for Population Control, as wells as plan for helping those hurt by the war.