We pile into his office and they squeeze into the couch but I decide to stand since I don’t feel like being cramped together with six people on one medium-sized couch.
“Okay dad,” I say. “What’ did you want to talk about?” He gets off his seat and walks toward us.
He is about to say something when we hear a loud knock on the door.
“Enter,” my Dad says.
The door handle turns slowly and in walks Agent Ruddy, the man who rescued us. He salutes us and we salute him back.
“Ruddy,” my Dad says. “Do you have a situation?”
“No General,” he says with a salute which my dad returns. “I just wanted to inform you that the second rescue helicopter just arrived. Shall I send them in?”
“ASAP cadet.” Agent Ruddy then salutes and exits the room.
Second rescue helicopter? This sounds interesting.
After about five minutes of waiting, we hear the door handle creak and in comes Agent Hobbs. The moment the rest come into full view, we all immediately get off our seat.
“Rachel!” my dad exclaims when he sees Aunt Rachel walk in with a blanket around her. He rushes to give her a hug.
“Fred? Is that you?” she says almost in shock. “How? You’re alive!”
I look again and see Dr. Alice and Dr. Randy walk into the room and they immediately come over to us when they see us. Martina gives them a huge hug, they are her siblings after all.
“Agent Ruddy,” my dad says after we all finish our reunion.
“How did you find them?”
“Well sir,” he says. “We went back to find the rest of the hostages but all we found were the Whitfordite army and we considered aborting the mission. Agent Hobbs remembered that Whitford kept prisoners underground so we kept the helicopter in stealth and went out on foot. We managed to liberate all the prisoners and bring them back here with no major casualties.”
“Marvellous work Ruddy. Tell Agent Hobbs that the both of you are getting a huge promotion.”
“Wow, thank you sir!” he says gratefully.
“You deserve it,” my dad says.
“Wait!” I say and they pause and stare at me. “Were they the only ones you found?”
“Negative,” Agent Ruddy says. “We liberated all the hostages from the Osamanpa tribe and those in the Underworld.”
“Great,” I say once I hear that Akosua and her family are safe. Now Aunt Rachel can be reunited with her family.
“Now please take them and the rest down to the lab,” my dad says. “Joshua will be with them shortly.”
“Yes sir,” he says with a salute as he exits with Aunt Rachel, Dr. Alice and Dr. Randy. Martina waves goodbye to her half brother and sister as they leave. They look confused but that is to be expected. Whitford has certainly done the deed on them.
“I’m sure you all have your memories back right?” my dad asks sometime after we’re alone and we all nod. “Good. But I’m still sure you have no idea who those Whitfordites are or what’s going on?” We all look at each other and nod again. “Okay, listen carefully because what I’m about to tell you is top, top secret information.” We all lean forward in our seats in anticipation.
My dad leaves us all in suspense by walking over to his desk to grab a book and his chair before wheeling it over. “Okay, so in order to understand what’s happening now, we have to go all the way back to the past.” He flips the large brown book and shows us a black and white picture of some man with a Hitler moustache, wait, is that Hitler?
“Wait, is that...”
“Yes,” he cuts in. “This is Adolf Hitler. Back in the 1940’s as World War 2 was raging on, a British soldier betrayed his country and joined Nazi Germany and his name was...” He flips the book a few pages forward and shows us another picture. “Major James Whitford.” We all stare into the face of the man in the picture. If you remove his moustache, he could be a photocopy of Dr. Whitford.
“Wow,” I say.
“Yes,” my dad says. “Major Whitford, the grandfather of our enemy Dr. James Whitford, and, Joshua, got fed up with how Hitler run Nazi Germany and wanted all the power for himself so he murdered him. Hitler never committed suicide as many sources say but rather, he was shot during a coup by Major James Whitford. Before Hitler’s supporters could eliminate him, his supporters, whom he named the Whitfordites after himself, broke away to form their own faction. Soon after Hitler’s death, the Nazi faction collapsed completely but the Whitfordites kept getting stronger.” He pauses for a moment to allow us to process this information. “I hope you’re following this?” he says while looking at me and we nod. “Good. The top governments of the world knew of this but they kept quiet about it since if the news got out it would have caused fear and panic. In order to counteract the growing threat of the Whitfordites, the top governments of the world brought their best soldiers together and formed...” he flips quickly to that strange logo I saw in the elevator and shows it to us. “The Severance Faction.” I stare deeply at the strange symbol.
“Why is that logo so weird?” Alex asks.
“Oh that’s an interesting story,” my dad says. “You can clearly see the Nazi flag in the background but there is a knife going through it to symbolise our mission to destroy anything remotely like the Nazi faction, like the Whitfordites.”
I scratch my head as I think deeply. “This is some really deep stuff dad,” I say.
“Don’t worry son,” he says. “It gets deeper.” He flips forward a few pages. “This is the first General of the Severance faction,” he says as we stare at a black and white picture of a blonde-haired man in an army uniform. “The General of the Second Severance after Sergeant David Ruddy was Flight Lt. Ingrid Mabel, the one and only female General of the Severance faction. After her came Major Ricardo Sanchez who oversaw the Third Severance faction during the 1990’s.” He flips a few pages forward. “This is the head of the Fourth Severance, Major-General Franklin Blay, my father and your grandfather Ignatius.” I stare at him deeply even though I can’t quite remember him. “He basically lived down here all his life before he passed away. I’m sorry you never got to meet him son; you are so much like him.” He pauses for a bit of reflection. He then flips to another page. “This finally is yours’ truly,” he says as we stare at his picture on the page. “I am the General of the Fifth Severance.” He closes the book with a thud and goes to place it back on his desk as we all reflect on this new information.
“What about the Whitfordites?” I say when he comes back.
“Well there is some ambiguity about them,” he says. “The Whitfordites had their peak around the time when the war was over. They almost gained a huge part of Germany before the First Severance stepped in and stopped them. For the next fifty or so years, they just suddenly seemed to get quieter and quieter. We even began thinking that the empire had collapsed, until that faithful night of May 25th 2016.”
“What happened?” I say.
“I remember that evening I phoned you to tell you to be careful about that Whitford but when I called you I got no answer,” he says. “All of a sudden, all the television broadcasts, radio transmission and internet feeds in the entire country went blank. Everyone was in total confusion. After about half an hour, everything came back on but there was only one logo, the Whitfordite symbol. Everyone everywhere was confused and didn’t know what was going on but we at the Severance knew exactly what was going on; the Whitfordites had returned!” He pauses to catch his breath. “An emergency broadcast was sent through the media and a live message from the new leader of the Whitfordites was sent. Dr. James Whitford had the president on his knees in the White House and he wanted to let the whole world watch as he pulled the trigger and sent a bullet into his skull.” He pauses to let this sink in. “We frantically tried to call the Severance board but our allies in France, England, Japan, Russia, everywhere didn’t pick up; we feared the worst. Soon, our fears were confirmed when another broadcast showed in systematic order how Dr. James and his people had eliminated all the Severance board members and seized their armies for himself. We don’t know how he did it but it looked like a meticulously executed plan. We were totally lost.”
“Wow,” I say as all this sinks in. “So what happened to us?”
“After all the mess died down and we thought the worst was over, another broadcast came,” he says. “We didn’t know what he had in store but this broadcast seemed to be different; it looked like a TV show. We thought that maybe something had happened and the Whitfordite Empire had been overthrown but it wasn’t to be. Dr. James Whitford and his cohorts had created a game called Under the Dome and he had captured some people to play but we couldn’t have expected what came next. We were led by camera crews to the middle of the desert. He had put some people in giant machines which seemed to be baking them and we thought he was going to kill them. When he finally showed us you, and your families as those people, I almost had a heart attack. He said that he wasn’t in the mood for swift executions so he placed you in a movie set-like environment for you to wander around and almost die. If just in case you didn’t, he would execute you all by himself. We knew we had at most a year so we began formulating a rescue plan which worked to perfection by the grace of the Almighty.” He pauses again. “The man intentionally changed your identities, distorted your memories and scripted a plan that would end in you all dying at the end. It was a sick game made by a sick man.”
“This is some heavy stuff,” Alex says.
“It is,” my Dad replies. “What is worse is that after the Whitfordites seized power, all of our armies overseas were lost. We previously had a huge base above ground but due to being largely outnumbered, we’ve taken refuge underground in this base as you can see. If they discover this place, the war is over. They win.”
My dad comes to sit on the arm rest of the couch.
“But dad,” I say. “What does Dr. Alfred Knoster have to do with all of this?”
“You do remember him don’t you, son?”
I think for a minute. “Yes! He was one of the board members at the Harlem Reef Research Institute.”
My dad nods. “Apparently, he and Whitford are partners in this whole deception. We really don’t have enough proof or info on him but that’s our best bet right now.”
I think silently for a minute or two. “Why are you telling us these deep secrets dad?” I say. “Isn’t that like against your army laws or something?”
“It would be, but there is a special reason why I’m telling you all this.” He gets up and walks to the door. “Please follow me.”
We head out of the rooms and down some stairs at the end of the room. We are led into a dark room at the end of the hall and are told to take our seats. This is all getting a bit strange.
My dad goes to stand in the middle of the room and all of a sudden bright lights flicker on to reveal a large auditorium filled with about a thousand men all staring at us. I suddenly feel very self-conscious with all these eyes on me.
“My fellow members of the Fifth Severance,” my dad speaks into the microphone before him. He was actually at a podium. “For years we have fought tirelessly to live up to the motto of the Severance faction which says, ’We Fight for Freedom and Integrity,” his voice plus that of the crowd and Joshua resonate through the place as they recite their motto. “Despite all our work, it seems that our foes the Whitfordites have gained a large headway and have almost won most of the battle, but not the war.” He pauses for a moment to wipe his face with his hankie. “It is in light of this that, I have decided to step down as General of the Fifth Severance.” A loud exclaim of shock resonates through the crowd. I can only sit there with mouth gaping as I process this news. He’s stepping down? For as long as I can remember, my dad has been an army General, but not exactly the General I thought obviously but still; I can’t let him do this.
I get off my seat and head toward him as the crowd follow me with their eyes. “Dad,” I say as I pull him aside. “You can’t do this! How can you step down? This place is your life!”
“Son,” he says. “I’ve made my decision. Stand right there.” He remounts the podium and begins to speak. “It is also with great pleasure that I announce your new General...” Oh no, now way. This can’t be happening! “My son, and the leader of the new Sixth Severance, Dr. Ignatius Blay!” The crowd takes a moment to process this information then burst into wild applause. Joshua also leads my family in cheering for me; he obviously knew about this.
I stand there completely stunned for a while as some two soldiers bring out a General’s uniform for me but I decline it and pull my dad aside again.
“Dad what are you doing?” I ask him. “I can’t take your job!”
“Ignatius,” he says as he lays his hand on my shoulder. “I have been doing this for almost twenty years and they have been the most wonderful years of my life...”
“That’s why you should stay,” I interject.
“But,” he raises his finger. “It’s time for a change. This place needs new leadership and I don’t see anyone more fitting for this than you my son.”
I stand there and think for a while. I am too taken aback by this to think straight right now. “This is all so sudden.”
“I know,” he says. “I’ll be here, we’ll all be here, to help you. This is the best, trust me.” I think for a while and then no slowly. “That’s my boy,” he says. “Don’t you want to address your new people?” He leads me onto the stage and they offer me the uniform but I decline again; I just can’t put that on, not right now while my dad is still wearing his.
I adjust the mic nervously. “Hello,” I say with visible nervous shakiness in my voice. “If I’ll be completely honest, this was all very sudden and I didn’t want to accept this position because I know how well my dad run this place and I know how much you guys loved and respected him.” I pause for a bit to catch my breath as my voice echoes uncomfortably through the massive hall. “After speaking to my dad, the General, well former General I guess, I see that he has given this the necessary thought so I am very honoured to accept this responsibility. I have no experience whatsoever in anything army-related,” I say and the crowd burst into laughter. “All I can bring to the table is my determination to bring as much passion, care and courage that my dad showed for the decade or so he was here. Together, we can finally bring an end to this disease that is the Whitfordite faction! Thank you.” I wasn’t expecting any response whatsoever to my speech let alone applause but to my utter surprise, the crowd bursts into wild applause when I finish my short speech and I wave to them as I go to see my dad beside the stage.
“Great work son,” my dad says with immense pride on his face.
“Thanks dad,” I say. “I just said whatever came of the top of my brain.” He smiles warmly at me for a few seconds before walking on stage to dismiss the crowds. We all then walk back to my dad’s office to let this news soak in properly.
“Great speech, dad!” Jason says when we all settle down.
“Thanks son,” I say as I sit down and stare at the giant logo behind my dad’s desk. I can’t believe he named me General! I feel so honoured, excited and scared all at the same time. “Dad?”
“Yes son?” my dad replies.
“I gave you some precious stuff of mine to keep for me right?” I say.
“Yes,” he says. “Why?
“Do you by any chance have them here with you?” He thinks for a moment before walking over to his desk drawer. He rummages through it before pulling out a small metal lockbox with a small combination lock on it.
“Here you go.” He hands me the metal lockbox I gave to him about five years ago and rattle it to see that all my stuff is still in there.
I stare at the lock for a while and realise that for some reason I can’t remember the combination to open it. I look up to Martina who is staring at me curiously and immediately remember that I used her birth date to lock it. I key in the numbers twenty five, five and seventy-seven into the keypad. I push the small black button on the front and the sound of a small click greets me like good news. I look up and see that everyone is staring expectantly at me. I open the box, sift through all our house documents and all our birth certificates and smile warmly when I feel the item I was really looking for. I bring it out and smile widely as I stare into it in my palm.
I suddenly get up and walk over to Martina with the item caressed in my palm I immediately go on my knees before her.
“What are you doing Ignatius?” she asks me with confusion in her eyes.
“Martina Blay,” I say while looking into her green eyes. “Everyday I’ve spent with you in the past twenty-eight years have been the best years of my life.” I take her hand in mine. “With all these new and very confusing developments, there is no one I would rather have as my co-pilot. Martina Blay, will you marry me, again?” I say to her as I reveal the ring which I had hidden in my hand.
I hear her exclaim in surprise as she covers her hand with her mouth. “Oh gosh, your ring?” she says. You found it? I thought this was stolen a long time ago.”
“It wasn’t,” I say. “I gave it to my dad to keep it safe because who knows what would have happened if that Whitford got his hands on it? Again, Martina Blay, will you marry me?”
“Mom, say yes,” Alex prompts her and I notice that she has tears in her eyes.
“But we’re already married,” she says.
“I know,” I say. “But considering everything that has happened and these new developments, I just want the assurance that you will be here by my side because as I said, there is no one else I would rather have...”
“Of course I’ll marry you!” she says as she takes the ring from my hand and slides it onto my finger. I then get to my feet and pull her in for a passionate kiss as they all say ‘Awww’, except the boys who keep making sounds of disgust. I then pull them all in for a family hug including Josh.
“That was so sweet dad,” Alex says.
“Thanks sweetie,” I say. “Look guys,” I change to a more serious tone. “We have faced a lot over the past year or so. I have no doubt that this will get even more difficult so we have to promise now that we will stick together and take that madman down, as a family.” They all nod reflectively.
“Sorry guys,” Josh suddenly says. “I have to be getting back to the lab now; I’ve got a lot of work to do.” He turns to leave.
“Wait,” I say and he pauses at the door. “Where are you going?”
“Ummm,” he says with a look of confusion on his face, “My station is in the lab so I must be go...”
“Your station is right here Josh,” I say.
“Huh?” he says with the perfect picture of confusion on his face.
“Look man,” I say as I walk up to him. “You and I have been through so much right?” He nods. “That’s why I’m making you my right-hand man, my second-in-command.”
He stands there for about five seconds as this news sinks in.
“Seriously?” he says.
“Of course man,” I say. “You deserve this.” He immediately pulls me into a bro hug which then ends with a bro hug. “Wait, I can do this right dad?”
“Of course son,” he says as he walks over and places his bunch of keys into my hand. “This is your base now.”
I leave them all in suspense walk over to the desk as I stare at the giant logo behind me. I am the General of the Sixth Severance and I have to take down the Whitfordite Empire which has taken control of the planet. This is huge.I swivel my chair around and stare at all the people I love in this world. “Guys,” I say. “Let’s get our planet back.”
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Toby SpringfieldWrite a Review