Arc 2: Chapter 16: Gambit

Ro: “…”

Valdis: “…”

The two, unable to say anything despite having a lot to share, stare at each other. Upon seeing their discomfort, Reid sighs and starts the conversation.

Reid: “We heard about what your friend, Abgere, is up to.”

Standing in the little abandoned facility near Julius Rome’s home (which is now rubble), the trio finally start a conversation with that.

Ro: “Can’t say it was unexpected for him to do all this but I don’t want him to get himself killed.”

Ro shows his genuine worry, to which,

Reid: “Well, I couldn’t care less what happens to him. If he dies while taking out some of our most powerful enemies, that’s completely fine with me.”

Reid speaks in an unhinged voice, causing Valdis and Ro to turn a dejected expression towards him. Seeing that, he continues,

Reid: “That said though, Bronzer seems to find him a beneficial man, and so, he thinks we should help him on his little quest for justice or vengeance or whatever it is he doing this for.”

Reid doesn’t tell any comforting lies. He just casually says the truth. But, it still is relieving for Ro to hear.

Ro: “I see. I guess I should be thankful that your strategist has taken an interest in him.”

Reid doesn’t reply, just sighs.

Valdis: “So this man, Abgere, how long have you known him?”

Ro: “I met him for the first time years ago in a Vermillion Prison. He was working for Vermillion just like me, but he was different from me and the rest of the Embers somehow.”

Reid: “You mean you were all cowards and he was not?”

Ro sighs with a smile and continues,

Ro: “Yeah, maybe. And that’s probably what made me like him. He just … just seemed to not fear the dark, I guess.”

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Kais: “So what’s the plan now, Abgere? You are going back to killing Hellfires?”

I ask, with a bit of sarcasm in my tone which should be obvious to all listeners.

Abgere: “Yes, and I’d start with the one right here.”

Gabriel: “Like hell you will!”

Gabriel cracks his knuckles and Ethan sighs, probably reprimanding how cliché that act is.

In any case, at present, Abgere would be killed if he even tried to fight a Volcano. This guy is in no shape to kill a Hellfire now. Plus, it’s not like I am going to let him kill Gabriel or let Gabriel kill him. They are both one of the few possible allies, albeit temporary allies, the third faction has.

Kais: “Let’s say we put all this business to a side for a while-”

Abgere: “Don’t you even dare suggest that!”

I already did.

Kais: “Hah!”

I sigh, exasperatedly.

It’s really annoying when someone is so stubborn about something and I don’t agree with him/her on that. It’s like trying to tell a 5-year-old that his favorite superhero sucks. Even if the superhero in question is universally considered a joke, there’s no way you can make a child concede from his argument.

Luckily, I have someone who might be capable of using the only method that may work on these children – fear.

Kais: “You want another glare from Sona?”

I ask casually, and Abgere clicks his tongue.

It’s really remarkable that even an edgy-badass like him knows how dangerous some women can be.

Kais: “Good. Now at least listen to what I have to say.”

It’s not like I didn’t knew he was going to be hard to deal with, so I had prepared a deal for him that he cannot refuse. All I need is for him to listen.

Kais: “Put your goal to the side and help us with our search.”

His face has a denial and deadpan visage already. Even so, I continue,

Kais: “In exchange for doing that, I can guarantee you will get a shot at the Phoenix.”

Abgere: “What!?”

His eyes getting wide with surprise shows that my proposition got his attention.

The Phoenix, the man who is at the top of the psychic world, is not easy to get to. I know that Abgere is trying to kill him but I doubt he has any solid plan to get to him at all.

Since we are being taken to him ourselves, if he goes with us, he will be guaranteed a chance to kill him. He can kill the rest of the Hellfires later. That’s the deal I am offering him.

And he seems to be considering it. I can kinda guess what he is going to ask next.

Abgere: “What is it you need help with?”

Yep, the most obvious question at this point.

Kais: “We are trying to find something called ‘The Psychic Library’, or just the Library for short.”

And this is the critical moment.

If one thinks going through the hassle of finding that place that no one in the world seems to know the location of is too much work just to get a shot at the Phoenix, he will not agree. And yes, I still say ‘if’ even though this deal is totally unfair to him because, well, who knows how strong his desire to kill the Phoenix is. In fact, when our ‘head of strategy department’ suggested this deal, he was pretty confident that Abgere would accept; that his desire to kill Reid Vezalius Rosevelt will be strong enough for this.

Abgere: “…”

I am not so sure though but he definitely is hesitating from denying straight away, at the very least.

Ethan: “Hah!”

And so, Ethan starts to add another flavor to all this.

Ethan: “If you fight the Phoenix, he’ll destroy you.”

Abgere: “What!?”

Ethan: “It’s not even a debate,”

He continues with his deadpan voice and expression,

Ethan: “He will incinerate you before you even touch him. No matter how cunning you may be, you can’t defeat him in a fight.”

That’s probably true. I have heard quite a bit about the cunning of that asshole. I have also heard a lot about his creepiness by the way.

Ethan: “But …”

I see where Ethan is going with this. He just deliberately stopped to make Abgere turn to him with his ears open so Ethan could say-

Ethan: “That library might have many books on ancient techniques that are lost to this day, that even the Phoenix will never see coming.”

If Abgere learns something like that and keeps his mind sharp during the fight, he maybe able to overpower the Phoenix.

That’s a valid point.

And Abgere is forced to hesitate more from denying because of it.

The reason this is all working is because nothing about this whole deal is a lie or a scam. Everything that we have offered, Abgere can really have all of them by helping us. Still, will it be worth it?

Abgere: “Hah! Fine!”

Looks like a yes.

Abgere: “I’ll agree to this deal of yours.”

And it is a yes.

Gabriel: “Hah!”

As expected, he is not happy to hear all of this.

Gabriel: “I need to talk to you.”

He says, looking at me with a fierce glare, and I return his glare with an uninterested face.

Kais: “Some other time.”

Gabriel: “What the-”

Kais: “Look, we get that you have your stuff to do. But we don’t care about any of that.”

His expression, as one would expect, is that of anger, intense anger. Yet, I feel no fear at all. So, I continue in the same unhinged voice as before.

Kais: “Besides, it’s not like the Phoenix gave you a time-limit to complete your task. So even if you take him to us after we are done with our stuff, it wouldn’t matter.”

I know for a fact that what he really wants to talk about right now is how we are offering to help Abgere kill his boss but,

Kais: “So buzz off!”

I am not going to touch that subject just yet.

Gabriel: “Tsk!”

He withholds his anger at me and says with a dead-serious expression,

Gabriel: “I let you play around for now. But you WILL listen to me when the time comes.”

If the expression on his face right now isn’t a pissed-off one, I don’t know what the slang phrase would even mean.

But, at least for now, Gabriel won’t be doing anything hostile to us.

He is, depressingly, the strongest guy out of the six of us. So we need to keep him under control at all times.

If he actually tries going down the path where he knocks all of us unconscious and drops us at the Phoenix’ door and then kills Abgere, he will probably succeed in doing so. In fact, the only thing stopping him seems to be the fact that he has his own plans of revenge against vampires and wants out help with it.

Still, we can’t take that for granted.

At a time like this, when we are following the ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ philosophy, we need to be extra-vigilant of the behaviors of both Gabriel and Abgere. And it’s not going to be easy, not at all.

*******************************

Bronzer: “So how’s catching up going?”

The strategist casually asks as he walks towards the three people he had left together a while ago.

They all look at him with different expressions. Reid looks at him with a deadpan face, Valdis with an awkward one and Ro with a sighing expression.

Bronzer: “Yeah, that answers my question.”

With a smile, Valdis asks,

Valdis: “So what are you planning anyway? Now that Ro’s friend is with them, what next?”

A fair question, Bronzer thinks to himself. And so, with a sigh, he look back in the direction he came from; he looks back at the army of Vampires ready to move out on his command.

Bronzer: “I think we should launch an attack on someone.”

Reid: “Someone?”

Since Bronzer’s aware that it sounded like he’s thinking on attacking any random guy, he smiles and corrects himself,

Bronzer: “I think we should launch an attack on one of the Hellfires, the exact one that Abgere will target next.”

Reid: “And how do we find out who … oh!”

Reid stops and looks at Ro and understands the answer to his own question.

Bronzer’s plan is to attack that Hellfire that Abgere and other four might be going to attack next. The conclusion seems to be so.

But, there is something in Ro’s mind that clashes with that logic.

Ro: “I think there’s a strong possibility that Abgere won’t be attacking anyone for some time.”

The other three look at him with curious eyes so he continues,

Ro: “I think it would be pretty in-character for Ethan to do something as crazy as ask Abgere to join them. And I think they will come up with a good reason for him to actually agree to it too. Maybe it’s just a gut feeling but I really think Ethan and Kais would do something like that, especially seeing how nuts they both are.”

Bronzer chuckles and leans on a pillar as he says,

Bronzer: “Yes, that would make sense. That would make complete sense for Ethan to do.”

With narrowed eyes and a loud sigh, Reid asks,

Reid: “So what now? Gonna change the plan?”

Bronzer: “Well, not exactly.”

The strategist answers with a devious smile.

Bronzer: “But, let’s delay it a bit.”

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