Even though they were stuck in the middle of a ship blowing up in the middle of the sky, Sorel and Ricard were able to maintain their cool surprisingly well. Both looked like the fire wasn't even around them, and instead seemed like they were just meeting each other for the first time and had never fought each other.
Ricard was still on a heap in the floor. But slowly, he got up by supporting himself on his hands. He coughed a few times before looking up at Sorel.
"So…you really are the son of Renee Sorel," Ricard choked out. He wasn't even making an effort to stand on his feet again.
Sorel kept his gaze on Ricard the whole time, just in case the final senator was going to try to do something funny or suspicious.
"I knew it right away…" Ricard continued. "When I saw that fighting spirit in you…I knew. Admirable. Truly admirable, Sorel. Your country is very lucky to have a strong warrior such as yourself."
Sorel was at a complete loss for words. Was he supposed to compliment Ricard back? Was he supposed to just say 'thank you'? Was he supposed to say anything at all?
Ricard continued staring up at Sorel and trying to find the strength in him to say something. "Sorel…your mother loved you."
Sorel's jaw dropped to the floor. "Wait…what?!"
"Your mother deeply cared about you, Sorel. I know it."
"What are you talking about!" Sorel snapped. "My mom…she hated me! She thought I was just a burden or something like that when she tried living as a hit man!"
"No," Ricard gently said as if he were correcting someone on mispronouncing a simple word. "That's not true, Sorel. One night, after Colby cruelly forced her from her senate seat…Renee came knocking to my door."
A Ricard with slightly darker hair and a considerably higher amount of it opened the door and saw a woman standing there. She had messy, tangled brown hair, and it didn't look like she had taken a shower or bathed in weeks. She was drooping and was clearly exhausted, and she was even shaking a little.
"Renee?!..." Ricard choked out.
"Shhhhh!" Renee hissed as she put one finger over her mouth. "I can't get caught, Ricard. You're the only one I can talk to."
"Renee! Please, come in! I'm gonna get you some food and a bed to sleep in!"
"No!" Renee insisted. That one word killed all the rising spirit in Ricard's voice. "No, I can't."
"What do you mean, you can't?"
"I can't risk being seen, especially in your house. Your one of the most noble senators in Tontor's history, and if you were caught housing an outlawed and disgraced senator like me…"
"Ms. Sorel, please…there has to be SOMETHING I can do to help…"
"There is. Mr. Ricard…should anything happen to me, I want you to look after my son."
"Your son?! Ms. Sorel, when did you have a son?!"
"I don't want to talk about it," Renee scowled as she leaned down and picked up a sleeping baby on the ground.
"Ms. Sorel…do you want to just leave him here with me now? "
"No. He's my son, and his good-for-nothing father won't acknowledge him. Raising my son is my responsibility, and mine alone, Ricard. If something should happen to me, I want him to have a place where he can run away to."
"Renee, I know this is hard, but I REALLY think you should just leave him here with me now, then."
"Mr. Ricard, please…he's my son. He's all I have left."
Ricard swallowed hard and was silent before nodding his head.
Sorel was at a complete loss for words. "I…are you telling me the truth, Ricard?"
"Yes, Sorel. Your mother said those very words to me almost twenty years ago. When I had gotten news that a hit woman was killed, I frantically searched around for you. I ordered a small squadron of my men to try and find you…but they couldn't."
Once again, Sorel had no idea what he was supposed to say. They both had completely forgotten the ship was about to explode with them inside of it.
"Your mother's strength was passed on to you. You didn't need me, or anyone else after your mother died. At the tender age of thirteen, you were strong enough to make a mother proud…even yours."
Sorel looked towards the floor. He had no idea what to say or what to do. Everything was suddenly tilted on its head…yet again.
"If it were only a few years earlier when your mother was killed, then you would not have been strong enough to make it on your own. I would have taken you in and done my best to act as a fatherly figure to you. I daresay if that were the case, then things would have turned out quite differently than they have now."
As he said that, the entire air fortress shook violently and more flames began pouring in. It wouldn't be long now before the station was gone in a burst of fire.
"Come on!" Sorel ordered as he ran over to Ricard and tried to pick him up and carry him on his shoulders. "You and I are getting out of here!"
Before Ricard could say anything else, Sorel was running down the stairs as fast as he could, which was difficult due to how physically exhausted he was and since he was carrying a fully grown man on his back. Beams and other types of supports were falling left and right, some coming within inches of hitting Sorel. But he took no notice of any of these distractions; he had to utilize every moment he had now.
When he finally was back at the docking station where he landed his plane, Sorel quickly jumped into the cockpit and stashed Ricard in the backseat. Taking off was a huge struggle, as there was fire penetrating the walls and massive pieces of debris were falling from the supports and filling the room.
After a few tense seconds, Sorel managed to fire the engines up in his plane and take off at an unsafe speed. Seconds later, the fire caused the entire landing bay sector to collapse into itself and become a pile of rubble.
Sorel piloted away from the station as it completely exploded into a giant fireball.
As he landed in front of the Hurtian military base, Mabus and all of the Honor Generals ran out, as did the top trained soldiers in the Hurtian army. They were all clearly excited and relieved to see their nuclear missile plan worked, but that excitement was quickly dropped when they saw Sorel come out of the plan with Ricard.
Sorel opened his mouth to explain something, but before he could, a series of officers crowded around him and Ricard and forced them onto the ground. He felt the cold, forceful grip of handcuffs placed onto his wrists in just moments.
"Hey, what's going on, here?!" Sorel yelled. "Why am I being arrested?!"
"Ha! Do you even have to ask, Sorel?" Mabus asked as he cleared his way through all the troops and planted himself only a few inches from him. "You're in for a few very rough days ahead of you."
Sorel gulped. He had no idea what was going to happen, but he knew it couldn't be something good.
"So you'll so you'll as you listen ta their testimony, yous'll be makin' cisions," said Mr. Menone, the mayor of Hurst's capital city. He was standing in the middle of a courtroom, explaining the procedure to the jurors.
Sorel and Ricard were both sitting in the defendant's chairs. Even though their "crimes" were very different, they were both being tried at once. Evidently, Hurst's government wanted to put this entire incident behind them as quickly as possible.
"When you reach a vertical-verdict, yous'll come-a back from the dlibertin' room and announce ya rulin'.
The entire court fell silent as the judge began the trial…
"We, the jury, find the defendant, Mr. Ricard guilty of conspiring in terrorist attacks, owning illegal weapons of destruction, and attempting to assassinate government authority. We, the jury, are in favor the death penalty by Pendulum at dawn."
Ricard pressed his mouth together as he leaned back in his chair. He wasn't surprised.
"And we, the jury, find the defendant, Mr. Sorel, guilty of threatening an authority figure (pointing the gun at Mabus's head) and treason. (For accidentally selling Hurst out…twice.) We, the jury, find in favor of the death penalty."
Noooo! Sorel thought to himself as he gripped the sides of the chair he was sitting in. I do all that, only to meet the same gruesome fate that Ricard's going to?!
"Your Honor?" said the top Honor General as he rose from the front row. "As head of the Hurtian government, I would like to impose some limits on Mr. Sorel's punishment."
The entire room fell silent.
"While Mr. Sorel most certainly deserves to die, I think it's only fair that, after how he helped us avoid complete and utter destruction a few weeks ago, that we give him the choice in how he wants to die."
All eyes turned to Sorel.
"Mr. Sorel?" the judge asked.
Sorel breathed heavily. "I'll take the gassing chamber."
By the next afternoon, Sorel was being led to Hurst's gas chamber while thousands of people to the left and right formed a parted sea of a crowd, shouting and cussing at him, telling him he deserved much worse than what he was getting.
After being escorted by some guards into the chamber, Sorel was pushed down into a chair and tightly strapped in. A mask was placed over his mouth, and the executioner was staring coldly down at him.
"Try to relax, Mr. Sorel. It'll be much less painful."
Sorel found it impossible to believe he was being told to relax when he was about to die.
The executioner left the room, and instantly Sorel heard the hissing sound of gas as it came in through the vents. Sorel's eyes widened in terror and his heart beat began increasing rapidly. Everything in his body began moving at the speed of light, but everything around him was going much slower.
Gradually, Sorel's eyes began closing. He started drifting off, almost like he was instead taking a pleasant nap instead of being put to death.
Everything went black for him a few moments later.
Sorel suddenly felt cold, and he wasn't comfortable at all. He saw a bright white light, and he felt weightless for a few brief moments.
"Am I…am I in Heaven?..." Sorel absentmindedly asked as he stared at the light.
A-hem, someone cleared their throat a few feet away from him.
Sorel jolted and turned to see Mabus was standing a couple yards from Sorel with his arms crossed. A sick, yet pleasant smile spread across his face.
"Oh, no!" Sorel moaned. "Mabus is here! I must be in the other place!"
The smile on Mabus's face quickly turned into a sour grimace. "Don't push your luck, Sorel. You're not in Heaven OR the 'other place'. You're right here in my office. You're still alive."
"What?!" Sorel yelled. He stood up and saw the same luxurious office around him, and he was still wearing the same prison clothes he was wearing while being gassed, but he couldn't have been still alive… "But…I was put in the gassing chamber! And…"
The smile returned to Mabus's expression. "Gotcha pretty good, didn't we?"
"Huh?!" Sorel demanded. He would've been furious normally, but now he was just confused.
"After all the things you did, like pointing a gun at my head…yeah, you should have been put to death. The public was crying for it. There would've been an uprising or something if you weren't."
"Then…why am I?..."
Mabus let out a, for once, authentic laugh. "Sorel, you saved Hurst and millions of lives in it. We can't put you to death after doing something like that!"
"That gassing chamber stuff? That gas was just gonna put you to sleep for a couple hours. That's all. Kind of like what surgeons put you to sleep with."
Sorel suddenly became more upset. "Gee, you could've told me that instead of making me think I was about to die!"
"Well, your reaction wouldn't have been authentic if we didn't," Mabus simply answered, not losing his temper at all. "We had to make it look like you really were being killed."
"…wait! If I'm alive, then does that mean Ricard-"
"No," Mabus quickly answered before Sorel could fully ask the question. "He's dead. He was put to the pendulum about eight hours ago. His remains are being mopped up off the Pendulum as we speak."
Sorel lowly looked down at the floor. "Oh…"
There was a stiff silence before Sorel looked back up at Mabus. "What's gonna happen now?"
"Well, you got three options," Mabus said as he went over to his desk and sat back in his chair. "One…if you really wanted to die, we could send you back to that gas chamber and kill ya for real."
"Thanks, but no thanks," Sorel sourly answered as he looked away.
"Second…you could go back to your life as a hit man. You're certainly not gonna be welcomed back to any sort of job out there, especially since you're supposed to be dead."
"…what's the third option?"
"The third option…you stay here for a few more years. Let people forget about you."
Mabus stood up and began pacing around the room. "Yes. Now that people think you're dead, they won't be giving you a second thought. So if you don't want to cause pandemonium by going into the streets and making people realize you're not really dead, you can stay here with this agency and train for a few more years…before being promoted."
"Promoted?!" Sorel asked, sounding excited in a good way for the first time in a while. "What do you mean, sir?"
"Our Honor Generals are getting old. Some of them are going to retire in just a few years. Sorel…the next time one retires, would you be willing to take his place?"
Sorel actually jumped back a few feet. "W…what?!"
"Would you want to be the next in line for a job as an Honor General?" Mabus asked with a pleasant smile on his face.
"I…I don't know what to say…"
"I personally think that's the best out of your three options. Continue training here. Eventually become one of the most powerful men in the world. Start a new life with a new name…what do you say?"
Sorel was speechless for several seconds. He slowly walked over to Mabus's desk…and shook his hand.
Eleven years later…
"Behind me is the General's Building where a new Honor General is being sworn in as we speak. So far, he has agreed to sign a piece of legislature ending execution by Pendulum, which is expected to take effect as soon as he is sworn in," a newswoman was saying to the camera.
Members of the media were flocking all over the building and waiting to catch a glimpse of the new Honor General.
Inside, a thirty year-old Sorel was shaking the hand of the highest ranked Honor General, who was smiling at him with a hint of pride.
"Welcome to the Honor General club, Mr. Renald Eener."
2:19 PM, Sunday, March 15, 2009