Author's Notes: This chapter took longer that it supposed to be. I apologize for the slow update. College has been hectic as always. Enjoy the chapter!
Chapter 12: Papa Granda
My eyes were fixated at the rather poorly dressed man sitting in a lavish and luxurious office. I was baffled at the shabbiness of his attire, a contradiction to his neat and over-the-top office. He just introduced himself to me as 'Papa Granda'. What kind of name is that? It must be some sort of code name.
"So," the shabby man spoke. "I told my name, how about you tell me yours."
I snapped out from my thoughts. "It's…" Suddenly I remembered Syahir's words; never expose anything about your identity, meaning I can't expose my name here. It would affect me later.
"Genesis." I went with my Crest name. Papa Granda or PG raised his eyebrows in interest. A wide grin appeared on his face in a sign of excitement. He leaned forwards from his seat, creaking sound accompanied his motion. He clasped his hands and placed his forehead on his hands.
"You went with your codename in Tengah for introduction." His head snapped forwards, eyes widen at my direction.
"Interesting!" He shot up for his seat and walked towards me. He wrapped his arms around my neck in a buddy lock.
"You sir, need to loosen up and sit down while we chit-chat in this remarkable office of mine." PG proceeded to drag me towards his grand desk. He pushed me down to one of the black leather seats in front of the desk and later sat of his seat.
He pushed a red button on his desk, prompting a whirling sound to be heard. The panels on his desk opened and a small platform rose from the opening, carrying an exquisite-looking bottle and two wine glasses.
"Sparkling water?" he asked me. I shook my head, still baffled from this turn of events.
"Aww, don't be such a party popper bro." he poured two glass full of red liquid. He slid one glass at me.
"Drink up! Don't worry, it is just sparkling water, not wine." He grinned before gulping his own glass. I just started at the glass in my hands. I'm not here to be partying or drinking sparkling water. I have a mission to be done. With all my courage, I brush away my nervousness and spoke up.
"I want information now." I said bluntly.
PG stopped in his action. He slowly put his glass down onto his desk and sent a weird look at me. Then, he laughed.
"HA HA HA! What or who are you with all those courage? We all knew that you are nervous like hell right now!"
His statement hit me hard. He can see through me? My nervousness crept back to me.
"Stop this charade of a stupid uptight brat. You are just pressuring yourself further." He sighed in pity for me. I just kept silence, no idea on how to react to this situation.
"So, let's talk business. What do you want?" he leaned back on his chair and rested his legs on his desk.
"Uhm…information about The Four Houses of Rulers' combat capabilities." I said amidst my nervousness.
PG put on an impressed look.
"Tackling the big guys first eh? I didn't know the House of Seven is this bad ass. Why it's so important to you?" he asked.
"We need the information to counter them in Tengah." I said.
"Ah…interesting. So, I assume that you have been into battle with them before and want to survive the next time you guys fight them."
PG guessed it correctly which surprised me with his deduction skills. His ragged clothing was just a façade to hide his skills.
"Yes, that is true." I nodded.
"Wow, the Four Houses of Rulers are really aggressive in this War. That is like, so unlike them, being passive knight wannabes since the first War." PG laughed in amusement. "So, how do you fare against those wannabes in the last battle?"
His question made my brain to flash those events in Tengah in my mind. The intense high level Cari, the run, the hiding, the separation from Nina, the chase and the fight with Pendekar. Those memories were unpleasant ones but it had officially being imprinted forever in my mind. As the memories flashed, I realized the difference in strength between us and them. We were almost completely annihilated by them by their superior strength. We don't stand a chance.
"We…didn't fare that well with them." I muttered. Admitting weakness was not an easy task to do.
"In other words, we all just got your ass kicked!" PG howled in laughter. "Please, tell me more."
Suddenly, I realized something. PG's insult seemed to flipped a switch in my brain and the 'tell me more,' made my brain clearer. The nervousness vanished into cold hard realization. I have been leaking information to him! Now he knew the events in Tengah today between the House of Seven and the two members of the Four Houses. I slapped myself inwardly. How can I be so careless?
"Come on; go on with your story. I just love stories!" he grinned and rested his elbows on his desk and leaned his body forward to show his eagerness.
I stared his eyes. There were the eyes of a trickster; slick and evil, trying to bait his prey into his trap. I can't fell for his words anymore. I need to close the deal fast.
"I'm sorry but I can't tell you more." I broke away from his eye contact.
"Aw, come on! Don't be such a spoil sport!" he whined like a baby.
"No, can I get the information now?" I replied as bluntly as I can.
PG's face faulted. He chided as he leaned back into his chair.
"How much you are talking?" he asked.
"Ten thousand ringgit."
"Screw the money, how much information you want?"
How much information? Crap, Syahir or Mrs. Zarina didn't say anything about this!
"Er…everything you have on the Four Houses of Rulers?" I blurted the most obvious thing that I should be asking.
PG bursted in another loud laughter.
"Everything? Everything on the Four Houses of Rulers? Seriously? EVERY FREAKING THING?" he howled as it was the most amusing thing in the world. I, on the other hand felt like disappearing into my seat. His erratic behavior made me wary and scared.
"You guys are amazing. I really salute your guys!" he did a salute from his chair. He punched another button on his desk. A holographic keyboard appeared on his desk. After a few punches on the blue hologram, he swiped the keyboard away, making it vanished. A whirling sound was heard in front of me. A compartment opened from the desk directly in front of me. In it was a small blue memory card.
"Take it that is the only hardcopy of data for the Four Houses of Rulers. I didn't make any other copies. Everything about them is in there."
I took the blue memory card from the compartment. Another whirling sound was heard as the compartment was closed.
"A warning, this memory card is the goal of many other House. Be prepared to hold it dear." He grinned.
I nodded. It was worth it for this information.
"Satisfied your greed already?"
"Thank you." I gave the sports bag to him. He received the bag happily. Then, I realized there is one other question.
"Is there any other Minor Houses that the Four Houses of Rulers are targeting?"
My question took his attention, then, he let out a wide grin.
"There is one; the House of Twenty One, the bearer of the Crest of Malam. They have been panicking about him or her for some reasons."
Crest of Malam? Why would the Four Houses be afraid of a Minor House? This is rather weird. Should I ask for more information or should I walk away? Judging from the current situation, I might be wise to end the meeting now but I'm really curious.
"Why are they afraid of the Crest of Malam?" I asked. PG's grin widen.
"Apparently, Crest of Malam could really change the tide of battle in Tengah or so they said." PG stated in a matter of fact way.
Change the tide of battle? This Malam guy is interesting. I must tell Mrs. Zarina about this.
"Thank you for kind assistance." I stood up to leave when PG stopped me.
"Why do you want to know about the Minor House?" his sly aura was leaking all over the place. He is trying to trick me again but I won't fell for it again.
"Just some curious question."
"Bullshit." PG spatted which startled me. He clasped his hands together.
"You are scheming something, spit it out." He threatened me. His personality shifted into a forceful one.
I gulped. I'm not used of being threaten like this.
"I...It has nothing to do with you."
A gun was pointed at me. Dead center to my head. Fear froze my body instantly.
"You really think I would let you have my precious information and data which worth millions without getting something in return?" his venomous tone seeped into my heart and soul.
"Spit it out, what are you planning?"
"N…N…Nothing…" That is all I could came out with. My brain went into overdrive, thinking all the possible way out from this situation. But with a gun pointing dead right to my head, my options are very limited.
"Don't fuck with me, bro." he thrust his gun forwards. "With all those information I gave you, I expect some in return. If not, it will be a huge loss for me. Since you guys are so freaking interesting, I want to know."
I gritted my teeth. He had been scheming against me all this time. He happily gave me important information then used it against me. I knew too much. He must get more information from me to even the bargain. Very well played.
"Spit it out now! I can't kill you due to my oath as an informant but I can't make sure your sorry ass won't see the light of the day for the rest of your life and maimed you to the extent that you would want to die." His explicit words sent shivers down my spine.
What should I do? I have been cornered by him and there is only one way out of this. Should I tell him?
Wait, I can lie my way out of this! He can't really verify the truth of my words right?
"If you are formulating a clever lie, my aural lie detector will instantly ring an alarm and I will shoot you." PG said as if he could read my mind.
Damn it! My options were narrowed on the one and only option: tell him everything I know. But I can't tell him yet I can't offer to die or be maimed here. I will disappoint everyone. Will they be disappointed when they knew I leaked our strategy to PG? Of course they would. Shit, I didn't like this situation.
I gulped. This is for the best. I hope this is the right decision.
"We wanted to save the Minor Houses from the Major Houses." I blurted out.
"Why?" PG raised his eye brows.
"To make an alliance with the Minor Houses."
I gritted my teeth. Stop asking questions!
"To overwhelm the Major Houses through sheer numbers."
Realization hit me. I can't say that we are trying to destroy the whole system. That piece of information was too valuable to be told to a third-party. I cursed inwardly. What can I say to make it the truth but not exposing too much information?
"You went silent. I told your ass already, fucking lying will get you killed."
"To win. Yes, to win…" I said desperately. To win is a true statement but I didn't exposed too much information.
"Hmm…" PG lowered his gun. "Fair enough, now get out. There is another representative coming now."
I sighed in relief. My legs were wobbly; I can't even walk properly yet I managed. I don't want to stick around with this psycho anymore.
As I reached the lift, PG called out for me.
"Don't even thinking telling anyone about your little secret leak here. You don't want to mess with me. I can help you but I can also destroy you." He said. I bet he was grinning wide in amusement.
The lift came with a ping sound, much to my relief. I stepped inside and never looked back.
"Come again!" He called out cheerfully as the lift's door closed.
Once the door closed behind me, I leaned on the wall, stabilizing myself while gasping for air. My legs can't even support myself and my heart in pounding so hard that it might burst out from my chest. I closed my eyes as a lone cold sweat fell down my face.
That man was crazy. I had never been this scared in my life, not even the experience in Tengah is as scary as this. The pressure against me was immense.
But I got what I came for. The blue memory card in my hand was the testament of my success. It was worth the scare I got.
Then again, I leaked a lot of information to Papa Granda which can jeopardize our victory greatly. The feel of frustration crept back into me. How can I be so defenseless?
A soft ping snapped me back into reality. I pulled my hoodie back on as I don't want to expose anymore of my identity now and pocketed the memory card into my pocket.
The lift opened to reveal a woman in business attire wearing sunglasses. Her presence alarmed me for a moment but I tried my best to act natural.
I walked past her as she entered the lift. I let out a small sigh of relief. I was expecting her to kill me or something. All this paranoia is the result of all this chaos these past few days.
But the woman did look very suspicious. Who wears sunglasses at the middle of the night? It is just illogical.
I climbed up the stairs into the kitchen area only to get more stares from the workers. In reaction to their stares, I looked down, not wanting my face to be seen clearly by them. They could be working with PG, wait, they are working with him. I can't let my guard down.
One thing caught my eyes; it was the lone man in suit, also wearing sunglasses at the entrance of the kitchen connected to the main dining area. What is up with these people?
Then, my brain registered what PG had told me a few minutes before. "There is another representative coming now." His voice rang in my ears. That woman must be the representative and this man must be the bodyguard. I am screwed!
Nervously, I kept on walking, closing the distance between me and the bodyguard. I can't be too suspicious now. Must act natural.
Then as I'm just in front of him, the bodyguard pressed his intercom in his ear. He frowned as he turned to the dining area, trying to find for something or someone. Seeing this as my chance to slip through, I quicken my pace and walked past him. I managed to take a few more steps past him when I heard a rough voice from behind me.
That phrase alerted my whole body. Instantly, I sprung forwards, running in full speed.
"Stop that man!" The rough voice called out again. That man's command made several men sitting at the table to stand up, trying to catch me as them must assumed me as a thief.
I gritted my teeth. I can't be caught now!
Focusing all my desire of not being caught, I felt a rush of energy flowing through me.
The men already forming a wall in front of me, in hope to catch me. With all the energy surging in my veins, I focused it into my legs and jumped.
I took off into the air, higher that every one of them who formed a wall in front of me. The flight took me off guard. I never jumped this high before. I saw a glimpse of the men's surprised eyes as I leapt over them.
My landing was not graceful at all. I landed sprawling on the floor. The force sent pain to my forearms and knees which cushioned my blow. A bad choice I might say.
But I can't waste time groaning to the pain. I could feel the men were turning around to arrest me. Resisting the pain, I stood up to continue my desperate dash to the streets.
"Hey, stop!" cried a man behind me. I responded by grabbing a table and toppling it over, hoping it can buy time. I also toppled down chairs to slow them down somehow.
I finally got out from the restaurant and into the middle of the streets. My eyes scanned desperately for Syahir's car. My breathing was labored and short, the pain before started to pulse and throb.
Then, at the corner, I saw two headlights flashed at me. It must be Syahir's car. My heart was relieved but that sense of relief was short lived as the car accelerated towards me.
Wait, what the hell?
I jumped forwards to avoid being hit by the car. Again, I landed with my forearms and knees, a bad maneuver. Scratches were formed on my forearms and knees which stung. I winced in pain as I stood up.
I looked at the direction of the car. Several men came out from it with something that I wish they didn't carry in their hands: guns.
With my danger alarm in my brain ringing, I made a hopeless run away from the car. What else there is to do?
A shot was fired but it missed me. My heart pounded by the sound. What if I got shot? Damn it! Out of fear and the desire to not to get hit, I felt energy surging through my veins once again. I thanked the convenience of this power and pushed more into my legs, making me ran faster.
Even so, the series of gunshot continued. One bullet even ricocheted from a nearby lamp post and nearly hit me. I cursed under my breath as I continued to run.
Suddenly, I sense light coming from my left. I turn around to see a car speeding up to me. My reaction kicked in and I dived forwards, this time rolling on the ground to lessen the impact.
The car's door opened up.
"Get it!" I heard Syahir's voice called out to me amidst the sound of bullets colliding with the car's door on the other side.
I scrambled up into the car and closed the door. A lone bullet hit the car's window at Syahir's side, startling the otherwise calm man.
"Hold on tight!" I commanded me as he floored the gas pedal. The car accelerated forwards. I heard men screaming and gunshots from behind. I silently prayed that none of that shot hit the car's tyres.
The car took a sudden turn into a small road and after several more turns, we arrived into the highway.
I sighed in relief. Sounds of roaring engine accompanied the thumping sounds of my own heartbeat. Adrenaline still rushing through my veins, causing my legs to twitch from excess energy though the burst of energy from my Crest was long gone. Sweat was still fresh on my brow, despite the air-conditioner blasting into my face. My knees and forearms stung with pain from the earlier jump. Blood stained my hoodie and my khakis.
I can't believe I survived that ordeal. To be honest, that was more intense than my experience in Tengah because this is the real world. Although if I die in Tengah, I will also die in reality but having a near death experience in the real world is on a different level than in Tengah. Through all that, I still managed to accomplish my objective.
"That was a close call." I sighed, rolling my sleeves to inspect the severity of my injuries. I winced to see my forearm all bloodied and scratched.
"It's normal for the other Houses to hunt for us. They'll attack once they had got their chance. They'll do anything, in order to maim you and give them and upper hand to defeat you in Tengah."
"That aside, did you get the information?" Syahir asked.
I rummaged my pocket for a certain small blue memory card. My hand touched something hard and I pulled it out.
"Here it is. The only copy of memory card with everything about the Four Houses of Rulers." I showed to Syahir who glanced from his driving.
"No wonder we got attacked. I think they wanted this memory card. How about the information on the other Minor Houses?"
I paused, organizing information in my mind.
"The Four Houses of Rulers are targeting a Minor House with the codename of Malam because apparently Malam can change the tides of Tengah."
Syahir let out a soft 'I see' and spoke. "This is interesting. Madam Zarina would be delighted."
Syahir then spoke of something I wish he wouldn't ask me at all.
"Did you spill anything to PG?"
I froze. I don't know what to respond to his question. Should I tell him the truth? So that we can prepare for anymore attacks due to our intel being leaked?
"Don't even thinking telling anyone about your little secret leak here. You don't want to mess with me. I can help you but I can also destroy you." PG's voice rang in my head, making my decision harder.
"No." I said abruptly.
Syahir let out a small smile.
"Good job. You exceed my expectations."
And so, the rest of the journey was silent. I was left to wonder about my big slip up tonight as my heart sank into guilt and my forearms and knees stung with pain.
Author's Note: Jelatek is just a 5 to 10 minutes drive from Setiawangsa just for you to know. This story is developing in a fast rate so read on and review!