“Revolution?!” I say in alarm. “What the hell are you on about?′
She puts aside her empty plate and folds her arms as if settling in for a long argument. We sit at a long table over a great oriental rug in the middle of the rose garden, I lie back in my chair with my legs on the surface while she elegantly stares at me in between the protection of her two mechanical dogs. An orange sun explodes at the edge of the sea and illuminates her features. The saffron light of the sunset spills over a table full of plate after plate of bare bones and leftover dressing...all of it on my end.
I sink back further in my chair and sip from a cold silver wine glass. “It’ll never happen. The Legion is too strong and advanced, and people here are too desensitized. Besides, not even I would join you. I don’t fight wars I know I can’t win.”
“How can you say that when you’re on your way to take down the most heavily guarded base in history all by yourself?” she laughs. “You do ‘fight wars you know you can’t win,’ but only the ones that will give you the most credit and glory.”
“That’s not true!” I protest. “I’m on a rescue mission, I’m not trying to start a fight. You’re talking about taking down an entire planet, you’re talking about taking down an enemy civilization that’s had the upper hand since the beginning. The new stingrays and their lasers, their new bombs and guns and chemical warfare, the 343 hybrids....all we have are mutations we can barely control. You think what I’m doing is a suicide mission? A revolution, seriously? You’ll fail. Hell, with that hive mind that reboots and mends the guards on the spot, there’s no way--”
“Ahah!” she interrupts. “I knew it! You’re afraid of Titan, aren’t you?”
I reel back in my chair. “N-no I’m not...”
“You’re terrified, it’s written all over your face. You took a beating when you fought her last and now you’re scared.”
“That’s not true I just had a bad day...”
“It’s okay King, we’ve all lost fights before,” she says behind a smug smile as she sips her wine.
“I didn’t lose that fight!” I can feel my face heat up and I know it’s not from the alcohol.
“If you killed her would you join me?” she asks, ignoring my protest. “Without Titan, Mars will fall and you know that. Is she the only thing holding you back?”
“If I--I can’t take that monster on my own?!” I exclaim, and I slam my glass on the table and put my hand on my chest.
“Ohoo!” she says with glee. “The all-mighty Eden, scared of just a few pieces of scrap metal...”
“You know I don’t like that name--”
“She’s here you know, right outside my boundaries.” She interrupts once more, ignoring me. “Is that a temptation you can resist?”
“Why would I...I’m trying to rescue my son, not looking for some half-assed attempt to get back my stolen...I don’t know...pride?! For a battle that I didn’t lose by the way! I dealt a lot of damage!” I’m starting to get angry. I didn’t want to talk about Titan, I was planning on taking on the base as-is, despite Pharaoh’s warnings. Because deep down inside I know that if I try and kill Titan first, I won’t make it to the portal at all. I just have to place my bets on sneaking past the guards unnoticed.
“You don’t win fights that the opponent walks away from, dear.”
I cross my arms and sit back in my chair, pouting like a small child. She’s right, it is tempting, but I have shit to do.
“Even if I beat her, you still wouldn’t have your revolution.” I say as I try to calm down. “With Titan gone they still have their army regardless of whether or not they can regenerate, and they still have those hybrids. My men would never fight. They know their odds and I wouldn’t force them to lay down their lives just for someone else’s pipedream.”
“I guess I’ll have to convince the other tribes then,” she muses as she continues to drink. “Without your soldiers it’d be difficult, but if you dispose of Titan I think we can make it more than a pipedream, as you say. Imagine, a whole world free of the Martian’s tyranny, and two planets at our disposal where we can pass through the portal freely, as it was meant to be! Isn’t that something you’d be willing to fight for?”
“I-I don’t know, Empress. I don’t think we’re ready. Besides, the other tribes would never join something I wouldn’t and you know that. Those warlords might be fools but they’re right about one thing, I still call the shots,” I press my fingers into my chest.
“Ah, but Rex owes me, and so does Zion, Colossus, and Sardis. I think that overhauls even your influence,” she makes a gun with her fingers and presses it to her upper lip.
“Okay first of all, two of those guys are dead,” I reply. “Zion mutated, Colossus went senile and Sardis got on my nerves. I thought you knew.”
“Oh what a pity, I had no idea. Saint forgets to come by, I’m left in the dark these days,” she says. The news doesn’t seem to surprise her at all, but she does look disappointed. “Such a shame, there are so few of us first generation Warlords left. I wonder who replaced them...”
“Does it matter?” I scoff. “That means your only option is Rex...do you really want to challenge an entire planet with a loser who named himself after a dinosaur?” she takes her fingers off her lips and laughs.
“Alright King, you’ve made your point,” she says as she reaches up to pet Fifteen. I’m guessing the other is Sixteen, or Fourteen, and I’m a little concerned about the whereabouts of the first thirteen, however I’m not concerned enough to ask. “What would it take, do you think, to convince all the other tribes to join? Like the ones to the East, Bes and Orien and all those people. I know that they’re still around and I know you’ve done business with them in the past.”
“My trading partners? Yeah, they’re still around. Not bad guys actually...” I pause to genuinely think. It’s a good question, I’d like to know the answer myself.
“It’d take a martyr, and a damn good one too.” I say after some time, sucking the sweet red wine I’d spilled on my hand during my outburst. “If you could figure something like that out, you’d have your army. Something to take everyone out of their daze. You’d have to make them angry, you’d have to give them a damn good reason to take up arms regardless of how terrified they are of the Martian’s and their technology.”
“What do you mean?”
“What I’m saying is,” and I pause to lean back in my chair. “Find the person the tribes depend on most for safety, and then put their blood on Martian hands. That’s what will get people scared, that’s what will make them angry enough to rally. Only then will you have your war.”
She pauses and thinks for a moment as she bends her pretty head to concentrate on the elaborate Oriental rug. “So, that would be you then,” she asks. “Wouldn’t it?”
I almost spit out my drink laughing. “No are you kidding?” I ask. “Everybody hates me. They either want me captured or dead, whether it be on Earth or Mars or any other planet in the solar system. If you killed me then people would just be pissed that you beat them to my bounty.”
“Is that so, what a shame,” she says as she leans back in her chair to mimic my own pose. “I thought I’d found my poster child.”
I smirk. “Sorry to disappoint. I’m sure you’ll figure it out. If you do manage to pull it off, I’ll at least provide supplies and weapons. You are too much of a valuable ally for me to leave you alone in a war. As for me and my men, we won’t fight. I swore an oath to protect them at all costs, I don’t intend on going back on my word.”
“Honorable, and understandable,” she replies, albeit disappointingly. “I accept your offer.” She raises her glass to mine and we salute the night, then pass a significant amount of time discussing much lighter topics such as food, spirits, and who to kill.