In the courtyard a young soldier stands, with his hands tied. Staring unseeingly into space. Another one of Landon's men watches over him.
I read the sign.
"Why?" I ask.
No response. The guard shakes him.
"Why you're being shot."
"Oh." He thinks for a moment. "I forgot."
The guard hits him.
He staggers, barely regains his balance.
"Ow. How is that supposed to help me remember?"
The guard glares at him. "Cowardice. And stupidity."
"That's why. You're being shot."
"Oh." He turns to me. "Cowardice and stupidity."
"I see." I feel the anger rising. I turn away before it can show. Before I know it, I've crossed the yard. I look up the façade of his headquarters.
I take a deep breath, and walk through the door.
"Ah, Jacks." He looks up. "I was wondering. When you'd show up."
I sit down across from him. "We ran into some trouble on the way. An ambush." I look hard at him.
"I see." He meets my eye. "How. Unfortunate."
For a moment, it's perfectly silent. I can almost hear the leaves rustle outside.
"Woah." Jules lounges in the doorway. "The enmity is so thick in here. You could cut it with a knife." He pulls up a chair, and leans over the back. "It's like a war movie. Lighten up, you guys."
Landon barely looks at him. "Right." He rummages around, and finally picks out a paper. "Now that we're all here, we can move in to eliminate the Loyalists – "
"They're not really Loyalists, are they?" Jules muses. "They're more like – counter-revolutionaries? Or anti-revolutionaries?"
Landon ignores him. "We've pinned them to A-3." He taps the map that covers the table.
"Of course, this is useless," Jules idly traces over it. "Most of these buildings don't even exist anymore."
Landon glares at him. Jules grins. "Don't worry. Me and my men, we know this place better than anyone." He smiles, and I can tell. Why they call him the Fox. "Just give us the master plan, Lan."
He's a brilliant strategist, if nothing else. I cross my arms.
Jules' eyes glint. "That's really nice."
I just nod.
"So, it's settled then. The day after tomorrow."
Another moment of silence. He contemplates the map.
"One more thing."
"Landon. Don't you think enough of our men are dying. Without us killing them too."
"You're referring to that – regrettable incident, of course?"
"Let it go, Jacks."
"You don't have any right to execute him. It wasn't his fault."
"I don't think this is any of your concern."
"He's just a kid."
"He is old enough. To take responsibility. For his actions."
Silence. Jules looks between us, at a loss.
"Your problem, Jacks, is that you are too – idealistic. But soon you will learn that there is only one way. To deal with them."
My hand is clenched so tightly it hurts.
"There's nothing you can do. He will be shot at dawn."
I stand up.
Jules calls after me, but I walk out without looking back.