The Solitude of Death, Part 9

Fernen Joraz was relaxing in his apartment, smoking a cigarette and watching a movie, when the message arrived. Joraz was 6’2″ with a lean, muscular build. He had long, wavy auburn hair, dark green eyes, and no facial hair. He was ostensibly a sergeant in the ISS, but his true identity was as a Colonel in the Grand and Invincible Army of Fangalin. He was one of the agents sent to Trisitania by order of the Supreme Commander to determine the feasibility of assassinating the Emperor.

Despite his former role as Commander of the Legion of the Heart (the military unit that guarded the Imperial Palace), Emperor Embamor II seemed to have no concept of security. Joraz had arrived on Trisitania about a year ago, and had been accepted into the ISS with only the most cursory look at his background. Even though the Empire was at war with four other factions, the ISS was so desperate for men that they didn’t want to risk having to turn anybody away by uncovering anything unpleasant in their past.

As simple as it was to join the ISS, getting close to the Emperor was somewhat more difficult. Not because the Emperor was overly picky about who was allowed to join his bodyguard, but more because he seemed to be trying to commit suicide by neglecting his bodyguard. After three months of service in the ISS, Joraz had submitted an application to join the Emperor’s bodyguard, and it had taken six months of constant requests for information to even get a response. Once somebody finally returned his call, he was accepted into the bodyguard almost immediately.

Needless to say, when the War Council asked him for his assessment on the situation, Joraz had told them that it would be almost ridiculously easy to eliminate the Emperor. He never really expected to get the confirmation to go ahead, though. Embamor II was such a feeble drunk that almost anyone would be a more effective Emperor. Joraz couldn’t imagine that the War Council would want to remove him. Which made the message he had just received all the more surprising.

The message read, “Hey man. How’s it going? Haven’t heard from you for awhile.” That message, coming from a specific source, meant that the Supreme Commander had authorized the death of the Emperor. If the message had said, “Dude! Long time no see!” then the mission would have been aborted and Joraz would be heading back to Numoris.

As soon as he saw the message, he put out his cigarette and turned off the movie. He had work to do. His first job was to send a special message to every member of his team. Like the message he received, it was seemingly innocuous to anyone on the outside, but to his team members, it meant that they had received an execute order and needed to get ready immediately.

He quickly took off the t-shirt and sweatpants he had been wearing, and put on his ISS uniform. He grabbed his sidearm, his ID badge, and his tablet. On his way out the door, he checked the tablet to make sure it had the information for his ticket on a transport to Kellora. Kellora was a province on the edge of the territory controlled by Embamor II. There was a significant underground Fangalin presence there, so if Joraz and his team could make it there, they would be able to make it the rest of the way back to Fangalin space.

The plan was simple, as all good plans should be. His team had six members, including himself. All six of them were members of the Emperor’s bodyguard. Two were on duty outside the Emperor’s quarters right now. The plan was for Joraz and the other three to show up, seemingly to give the true bodyguards a break, but Joraz and his team would kill them, and then the Emperor. If all went well, Joraz would be able to claim that the dead men were traitors, and that Joraz and his loyal team had killed them after they murdered the Emperor. In the confusion that followed, Joraz and his team would hopefully be able to leave Trisitania and get to Kellora.

Joraz had no illusions about the risk he was taking, though. He fully expected to die this night. He didn’t want to die, but if he had to, he could think of no better way to do so than in the service of the Dark Presence. He had the tickets to Kellora if he needed them. He hoped he would need them. But he didn’t expect to need them. He fully expected that he would be dead before the transport left Trisitania.

He left his apartment building and walked down to the nearby transit station. From there, he would take a train to Selorin’s main transit station, where he could get on a special train specifically for ISS members that went directly to the Palace. He didn’t live that far from the main station, and the main station wasn’t very far from the Palace, so it didn’t take him very long at all to arrive.

He entered through the east wing of the Palace, and made his way to the ISS office. He checked in with security, and soon after he did so, he met up with one of his Fangalin team members. Sergeant Ahvamar Olaio was really a Major in the Grand and Invincible Army. He was a giant of a man, 6’6″ and easily 350 pounds. He had no hair on his head or his face, and no neck to speak of. His nose had been broken at least twice, and he had a perpetual scowl on his face. He looked like the meanest, toughest man in the galaxy, but in reality he was soft-spoken and gentle. He could be as tough as he looked when he needed to be, though.

“And how are you this evening, Joraz?” Olaio asked in his surprisingly calm, quiet voice.

“I’m doing well, Olaio,” Joraz responded. “I have a good feeling about tonight.” Olaio nodded in satisfaction.

To be continued…

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