Chapter Sixteen: D-1
"After the virus annihilated ninety percent of the world's population, we ended up with ten million people," announced the man in the podium. "Ten million resilient people."
He walked around the stage, going from one end to another, his silver eyes looming around his younger audience. He had hoped for them to be more engaged, but as expected, there was nothing but blank stares and disinterest in their expressions. Some even admitted entering his class only to listen to his distinct English accent.
Striking both in words and appearance, Vincent Milkov is a man in his late forties who came to be a university professor out of sheer boredom. Milkov is a war veteran, an army General even before the Morgan virus wiped up the earlier population in 1972. As an old man with too much money and no family, he became a history professor simply to avoid going crazy from the lack of people to talk to. But he was starting to grow tired now, perhaps due to his deteriorating health or maybe from his growing disappointment that the younger generation could not care any less about the day of lore. His lore.
But this old man's depressing thoughts came to an end when his lecture door busted open, revealing another silver-haired man in an army uniform that belongs to an old friend.
"That's all for today," Milkov closed his book, quickly dismissing his class. His guest waited for everyone to leave the lecture hall, before coming forward to the old professor.
"General McCoy", announced Milkov with enthusiasm. "I didn't know you were eager to lecture my class today. Talk about a grand entrance."
"I didn't know the class was still going on," replied the General. "We have company."
"The son of the former General Han arrived this morning in a helicopter belonging to the National Guards".
"Daniel?" Milkov opened his mouth to say more, but he hesitated. "And?"
"He is accompanied by the daughter of Captain Elixon, from the Siho territory. We have them both in our custody."
Milkov slammed his table. "What the hell are you thinking? Those children... in custody? Do not treat them like criminals!" He squinted his eyes. "I didn't retire from the force simply so you could do foolish things like this. And Daniel... that boy... he has gone through enough. It was bad enough that he was used to do the dirty works of that bastard."
"- He landed his helicopter right in the main headquarters' helipad, Milkov," replied General McCoy. "He knows exactly what happens when an uninvited guest comes to our doors. What's more, the boy wants to see you."
The professor nodded. "For a National Guard to demand interest-like that... who am I to say no?"
"It's going to be alright, Anna."
"What makes you so sure?"
"These guys are my friends."
Anna looked up, and she saw no friendly face between the soldiers who surrounded them with their rifles.
"I doubt it"
"Have I ever lied to you?"
"Daniel Han, you stupid quackhead, why did you land right here?!"
"It's to get my attention, Ms. Elixon" replied Milkov, who wasted no time to get to the base of the Andestris Army headquarters. "Gentlemen, at ease. He is a colleague of yours, is he not?"
At once, the soldiers retreated. Anna breathed a sigh of relief, but soon she noticed that the easygoing lieutenant she was talking to just now has tensed up. Anna looked at the man who made things change in an instant. The man was familiar to her, his picture she once seen on television when she was younger.
"Vincent Milkov", she thought in her head, "the man who could very well be Siho's Prime Minister, had he not decided to move to Andestris in 1998. Despite one's capability, powerful people will sometimes choose not to side with anyone but themselves. Andestris was nothing more than a more sophisticated Siho, and yet for unknown reasons Milkov moved here. Daniel told her that he wanted to pay his professor friend a visit, but she did not think he would land right at the base, or that Milkov was the friend which Daniel spoke of.
A friend, Anna thought to herself as she glanced at Daniel. That face tells me otherwise.
Now, with only the four of them in the room, including General McCoy, the tension was high. She felt nervous.
Daniel looked over her direction.
"It's going to be fine," he mouthed.
"Welcome back home, Lieutenant Han," said Milkov. "I should be calling you Captain by now, had you not left the day of your promotion ceremony to be a National Guard."
"The position did not suit me," replied Daniel.
"Well, I'm sure you aren't here to get your rank back. And you even brought with you a friend." Milkov stared at the young beauty, but as he aimed to walked forward, Daniel took a step forward.
"I am here to use my request."
"Your request..." General McCoy repeated under his breath. "What are you talking about?"
Milkov raised his hand. "Quiet, McCoy. This is exactly why the boy wanted me. Only I knew about this agreement."
"This is ridiculous", the General shrugged his shoulders, but he said nothing else.
"What is it?" Milkov asked Daniel. "I don't have much power as I used to have, but it should be enough to grant your request."
"We need access water transport. I need you to sneak us both into a ship that would get us to Sonddor. One that travels in midnight to be exact."
"Sonddor?!" yelled General McCoy. "You're out of your mind!"
Milkov raised his eyebrows, and he turned his head to Anna.
"Am I allowed to ask why?"
Daniel didn't say anything in response. Instead, he held Anna's hand, squeezing it tight before giving Milkov a smile. "Do you really want to know?"
Anna's face felt very hot, but she didn't remove her hand from his grasp. She noticed then that it wasn't just her face that was beet red. Even the two old men turned their head around.
"Very well then," nodded Milkov. "McCoy will make those arrangements for you. You should hear back from his in an hour, correct?"
The General nodded from behind. "I'll confirm with the dock that seats will be vacant for you in a ship heading on a midnight trip."
"Thank you," replied Daniel. "That's all we need."
Milkov stood up from his seat. "Now that's settled, you two must be exhausted. We'll set up a place for you to rest for the day." He pointed a building outside the base, a tenth-floor residential tower. "Daniel, you know where it is."
"Thank you, professor."
Milkov noded, and he watched as his younger companion starts to make their way out. But just as they made their first few steps forward, Milkov found himself holding onto Anna's right shoulder. She turned around, and her eyes looked curiously at him.
"Yes?" she asked.
"Emilia..." he said under his breath, but realization took hold of him in an instant, and his hand dropped. "I'm... I'm sorry."
"That's my mother's name," replied Anna. "Did you know her?"
"Impossible," replied Daniel, "he had been in Andestris since I've been alive.
"He came from Siho," replied Anna, and Milkov's head snapped up.
"... how did you know?" said Milkov, "I left before you two were even born."
"It was written in my mother's journal," replied Anna. "It's the only way I can find out about her, you see. She died before I was born. And her journal..."
Anna was about to say more, but blood started to rush from her head, and suddenly she was feeling dizzy.
"Anna?" Daniel approached her, but she pushed him away.
"Her journal..." she repeated, "had always talked about two men." Anna's body started to feel cold, and her words were starting to sound coarse, but for some reason her brain was clearer than ever. As if it had finally uncovered a missing piece in a puzzle.
"The first man was my father, Captain James Elixon, whom she fell in love with at first sight." Snapping her head up, she looked at the man with gray eyes. "The other is you."
"We knew each other since we were children," said Milkov. "It was your father whom she loved."
After that, no one said anything. It must have been ten minutes, or longer than that, before the General tapped Daniel's shoulder.
"You two should go rest," he said quietly. Daniel nodded, taking Anna with him. When they were gone, Milkov collapsed to the ground.
"Stand up, you rotten moron," hissed the General next to him. "Have some pride."
"What is? That everything you thought you could escape from has finally caught up to you?"
"That child... it can't be."
"How ironic, isn't it? For the two of them to be together."
Milkov straightened himself up. "If... if what I assume is correct, then I must take action."
"Whatever are you talking about?"
Milkov didn't answer, and instead made his way out. He looked over the tall residential structure where Anna and Daniel have settled in.
"Emilia..." thought Milkov under his breath. "You've caught up with me, haven't you?" He closed his eyes. "As you would have wanted, I will help your daughter. She... must have it too. The thing you have, which have gotten you killed. She came to me today with the very man capable of doing just that."
His hand curled up into a ball. "How unfortunate, for even now history is to be repeated once again. Those children... they'll find out soon just how difficult things really are. Your daughter... who could very well be mine."
As they made themselves comfortable, Anna found a meal prepared for them in the dining area of Daniel's former apartment. It was so familiar to him, for not one single furniture was moved since he left Andestris. In his apartment remained the common furniture - the living room couch, the television, the dining table and even all its chairs.
"I can't believe they haven't removed my stuff," commented Daniel as he sat down.
"Perhaps they were hoping you would come back," said Anna. "...Captain."
"Don't say that. I'm a lieutenant from the National Guards. And we're just here as visitors."
Anna could not believe that Daniel was about to be a Captain of the Andestris army. Had Siho not formed the National Guards Alliance, it would not have been as powerful, and she could envision the Andestris army stepping in to take its position. Andestris is a powerful territory, but most importantly they are known to respect the law more than everyone else. Just then, Anna remembered something important, and she placed the spoon down before diving into a hot bowl of tomato soup.
"... how did you get those powerful men to listen to you?" She asked Daniel. "You mentioned you wanted to use you request..."
Daniel smiled at her. "Let me tell you later. Eat some food, and I'll go take a shower." He pointed to a room in the corner.
"That's my bedroom. There's a comfortable bed inside, where you can take a nap. Try to get some rest. After all, we make our way to Sonddor tonight."
Anna didn't say anything back, so he made his way and she started to make her way to the cornucopia of delicacies in front of her. They must have prepared this quickly, but she was impressed by all that she was seeing, as in front of her was a plate of fried chicken, freshly-made corn rolls and hot mashed potatoes. There was even large container of tossed salad with raspberry vinaigrette, ricotta cheese on the side. Anna ignored all of it and turned her attention to the bowl of hot tomato soup in front of her. She devoured it in an instant, and soon she was starting to feel tired. Perhaps it was because she didn't expect to be in the middle of such commotion this morning, or that she would meet the other man whom her mother often mentioned in her journal.
"Vincent Milkov," she repeated in her head, "the only other man who might know about my ability."
Shaking her head, Anna made her way to the bedroom. She doesn't intend to sleep there and had already decided to sleep on the living room couch, but she took the opportunity of having Daniel still in the shower to look around.
She wanted confirmation.
And confirmation she gets, as one step inside revealed a plethora of photos stuck on his wall - photos of his family, including one with his twin sister.
"That's Alexandra," said Daniel from behind.
"Your twin sister," said Anna. Of course.
"She's beautiful, isn't she?" Replied Daniel. "I wish you could have met her. She would have loved you."
As soon as he smiled, Anna's heart had broken into tiny little pieces. She had enough.
"Daniel, there's something I have to tell you..." Anna tried to reach for him, to finally tell him the truth, but suddenly they hear loud knocking coming from the front door.
"Let me get that," said Daniel.
The voice who called his name with such excitement was a woman familiar to Anna. It was the same woman who she encountered at St. Helena. Anna walked to the front door to confirm her suspicion, but she saw was more than that.
It was his lips, entangled with hers.
The woman's fingers surrounded his neck, and she pushed her body, so it would be leaning on his chest. Daniel seemed taken aback for he was frozen for a while, but soon he pulled her away from him.
"Patricia," roared Daniel, "don't do this anymore."
"I knew you'd come back. Of course, you wouldn't last that long in that hell of an alliance-"
" I still belong to the National Guard's Alliance," interrupted Daniel. "We're only here for a few hours."
"...we?" Patricia eyed him suspiciously, but her expression changed as she saw Anna in the room. "You're still with her."
Patricia tried to step inside the apartment, but Daniel reached his arm to the other side of the door frame, blocking her from going forward.
"Why did you call Anna out in the roof that day?"
Patricia stared at him in surprise. "She told you?"
Daniel shook his head. "You can't possibly think Gil wouldn't notice you."
Anna was stunned. Daniel knew all along, but he never pressed into asking her. However, that wasn't what made her nervous. What made her nervous was Patricia, and what she had to say next.
"Cat got your tongue, ladybug?" Patricia sneered at Anna, but she said nothing else after that. Instead, Patricia handed Daniel a slip of paper.
"General McCoy told me to hand this to you. The ship leaves the pier at 1 a.m. and will lead you to a port that's ten minutes away on foot to Sonddor's first gate. I don't know why you're so inclined to help this woman but..."
"It's because I intend to make her my lover," said Daniel. He turned his attention behind him, where Anna stood quietly like a mouse. "This woman, who intends to do everything by herself... I'm trying very hard to make myself helpful to her."
"Even if she was the reason Alexandra died?"
Anna's heart stopped beating in an instant, and her eyes watched as Daniel's body stiffened.
"I warned her that night, when I came to St. Helena, that she should stay away from you. That she had no right. But that doesn't seem to be happening so -"
The air coming from the woman's voice flattened as Daniel's face turned sinister.
"The girl with special abilities whose identity Alexandra tried so hard to protect, the one who caused her death along with General Han's... Daniel, it was Anna. Anna was the reason your family died."
"Leave," ordered Daniel. "Leave now."
Patricia turned around. "Ask her if I'm lying," she said under her breath before walking away.
"Daniel..." Anna pleaded quietly. She was standing behind him now, and tears started to fall from her eyes.
Daniel turned his body in Anna direction, and his eyes shot straight at hers.
"Tell me you aren't aware of this," he pleaded. "Tell me you have nothing to do with this." Quickly, Daniel grabbed her hands and held it. "You... don't have such abilities, do you?"
Anna wanted to shake her head, to tell Daniel everything Patricia said wasn't real, but she could no longer lie to him anymore. The lies stop here.
"Since I was little, I can vividly remember every single thing I see, hear, and even smell more than any average person. My brain, you see, works like a camera, and every face I encounter and every moment I experience, I can vividly remember for the rest of my natural life. Daniel, I have an eidetic memory." Anna looked down. "My father told me never to tell anyone else, as they could use these abilities for their own purpose. But I didn't know Alexandra knew about this. The games we played... I simply thought they were games and did them all. I had no idea."
"No idea, huh..." he huffed. "In St. Helena, where I told you about Alexandra's story... that she was my sister...why didn't you tell me then!?"
"Because you were scared? That I would tell everyone about your special powers? That I would risk you father's rescue mission by blowing your cover? How could you be so selfish!"
Anna hoped he would scream at her, curse her, and tell her to go away. Instead, he started to laugh, his hand covering his eyes where tears had started to drop.
Watching Daniel cry made her unable to move. She couldn't possibly go anywhere, but in front of the boy whose family was destroyed because of her.
Just then, Daniel lifted his head up, and the way he looked at her made her fear for her life.
He no longer looked angry, nor did he look confused. Instead, his face looked peaceful, like a lion watching his prey. And she was right, as not a second passed before his pistol was pointed at her.
It took a while for Anna to finally realize what was really happening, but at last she knows now.
Ah, my Daniel wants to kill me.
Anna took a step forward.
Now, with the firearm's nozzle only a few inches away from her heart, she looked straight in his eyes.
"Take my life."
When the words left Anna's lips, she no longer felt fear. She no longer felt anything. But she could see that Daniel's expression was changing after she uttered those words. His cold eyes looked stunned, and he stared right at the arm which yielded the gun. The gun aimed right at Anna.
I won't let you die.
Anna remembered him say before, and she hated herself for remembering it now. She has no right to hold him to those words, especially now.
"No..." Daniel said under his breath. "I... what am I doing." He started to shake. "I... I don't know what I'm doing, Anna. I..."
"Drop the weapon, lieutenant!"
They both turned their head to find Gil and Lieutenant Wells with their guns pointed at Daniel.
"I don't know what's going on but don't shoot her," pleaded Wells. "Anna, come here."
The two men began to move forward.
"We have news, Anna," said Gil. "Your father has been rescued by members of the Ezterdelle's Recon team. They're bringing him to Siho right now. This mission is over."
"My father..." Anna covered her mouth as she tried to suppress her joy. He's safe.
"Lieutenant Han," commanded Wells, "Stand down now."
Anna wanted to run away, to get on the first helicopter she sees and into her father's arms. But she could no longer do that. She could no longer take a blind eye at Daniel's suffering.
So as soon as she saw Daniel began to retreat his arm, she quickly moved. Before Daniel had a chance to respond, Anna had placed her finger on top of his which guarded the trigger, and closing her eyes, pressed it.
Before she dropped to the ground, two gunshots filled the room.