Laila led the Queen and Kunette to an extravagant hotel, typically reserved for high-class guests that visited the casinos. Most structures in New Port City had been demolished when its citizens were moved to Port City, but the luxury hotels were left alone for the purposes of hosting visitors and emissaries from the other world.
An entrance in a corner of the hotel’s lobby opened up to a massive hall designed with parties and conferences in mind, making it the ideal place for a video conference about the current situation. With every single seat of the Grand Council suddenly empty all at once, the chieftains of their respective non-human tribes stepped up to the table.
-How is the situation in Gabelin?
Barad, the chieftain of North Bears and provisional chairman of this meeting, asked.
“Thanks to the Emperor naming his successor so very clearly, there aren’t any idiots trying to make a move on the throne. Under the leadership of Mr. Mazelan and Angela from the Fire Department, Gabelin is recovering from the damage.”
The Queen replied.
-From what I saw in the broadcast, there was still a hostage situation unfolding in the Department of Administration’s headquarters.
“It seems that after Mr. Isaac’s escape, the hijackers in the Department of Administration headquarters and the broadcast station all committed suicide.”
A heavy silence befell the silence at the Queen’s report. Isaac had felled the Police Headquarters and the Department of Administration in one swoop and cut Gabelin off from the outside world by destroying its fortified entrances. This cut off the head of the police force, stranding him on the field. And other officers on the field were akin to headless chickens, their arduous training seeming to have left them the moment their communicators stopped working.
The destruction of the Capital Defence Force’s headquarters and subsequent deaths of all their commanding officers had paralyzed its men. Since the news of Arc Royale’s disbandment was kept secret, no soldier had the courage to lead the army into Gabelin for fear of being mistaken for a rebellion, which could result in their entire bloodline purged from existence.
This was a prime example of how dangerous a traitor from within was.
“And the footage you see now is why members of the Grand Council did not put up a fight.”
With that, the Queen played the video footage of the endangered races’ executions. Groans echoed throughout the room, and the non-humans especially wailed at the Druid’s execution.
This was an unprecedented situation. The races deserving of the highest of protections were now captives, and even one of them was brutally murdered.
“The one saving grace is that the footage of the Goldenmane’s and Whitewing’s deaths were fake.”
Everyone let out a sigh of relief. The death of the Druid alone was a weight too heavy on their hearts, let alone two more.
-We must rescue them immediately. Where is Isaac now?
Kunette stepped to answer, her eyes looking at the floor.
“… We are currently investigating.”
-You’re telling me you still haven’t found him after mobilising the entire Directorate of Surveillance? When it’s not just Isaac, but his followers and hostages travelling with him?
“… Central facilities were also attacked. They are currently non-operational, as they are busy repairing damages.”
-Even I could say that right now! Queen, I entrust you with the full responsibility and authority necessary to rescue them.
“We can’t have that!”
Kunette shouted out against the provisional Grand Council’s decision.
-The few radicals who worked towards humanity’s extinctions will be denounced and exiled from their communities as sinners.
“The Queen is also responsible!”
-The Queen has repented by providing us with the plague’s cure.
Kunette grit her teeth and glared at the Queen. The reason why the provisional Grand Council held Isaac responsible rather than humanity was because humanity had also lost the Emperor and Duke Pendleton.
The provisional Grand Council had ruled Queen out because she had been away in the other world for the past six months. Not to mention, she had repeatedly warned Taigon to be cautious with Isaac’s voluntary surrender. Thus, they felt that the Queen could be absolved of responsibility if she provided the cure to the plague.
Very few non-humans had actually supported the idea of exterminating humans in the first place. Although the radicals were the ones at the helm of the incident, only a few were actively pursuing its goal; most radicals only followed along reluctantly, finding its extremist tendencies distasteful at worst.
– The Directorate of Surveillance is to cooperate with the Queen towards Isaac’s capture. In fact, kill him on sight. This matter’s discussion is over.
Kunette closed her eyes. This was different from the Three-eyed’s death. She might have been able to save Isaac by the skin of his teeth had it been just that. But the deaths of the Emperor, Duke Pendleton, and the immolation of the last Druid was inexcusable.
“I’ve already delivered the cure to the Grand Council. And as horrible as it is, isn’t this the best outcome for humanity?”
Kunette’s fists trembled at the Queen’s words. It angered her because of how true those words were. With the threat of the plague gone, this world would continue to prosper, regardless of whatever happened in the other world.
That would be a debate for a future Grand Council; time was of the essence now. Isaac had to die.
“I will kill Isaac.”
Rivelia announced as she entered the hall. Kunette cried out in sadness, but Rivelia kept walking forward. Addressing the non-human chieftains, she announced again.
“I will kill Isaac. Does anyone oppose it?”
Silence befell the room. Though the bags under her eyes sagged, her eyes gleamed murderously. Barad spoke out as the chairman.
-The provisional Grand Council admits that Rivelia has the most righteous claim to vengeance. .
Rivelia bowed in gratitude, and the Queen welcomed Rivelia with a clap.
“With a Swordmaster and Director of Surveillance aiding me, work will become so much easier.”
Kunette sighed as she looked at Rivelia before turning to face the Queen, fangs bared.
“How will you find Isaac?”
The Queen smiled in return.
“There’s no need to.”
“… There’s no need to?”
“No. I want all fighters—Central’s agents, of course—but also every tribe’s warriors. Even the Empire’s military, and the military forces of the Lords if need be. Everyone and everything that can be mobilised, I want them concentrated in New Port City. Mr. Isaac will come to New Port City.”
Barad questioned the Queen.
-How can you be sure?
“Now that Mr. Isaac has made the radical’s goals impossible, all that’s left is me.”
-So that’s why we must defend the Gate. I understand. I will send my warriors immediately.
Barad nodded, and the Queen asked again as she looked at each and every chieftain in the meeting.
“But let me ask this beforehand. If Mr. Isaac threatens us again with the lives of the hostages, what will you do?”
Truthfully, the non-humans wanted to close the Gate this very moment since it was obvious humanity would grow stronger from it. But they wouldn’t do so, because the Grand Council had previously agreed upon it.
Even if the situation turned against them, they wouldn’t turn their backs on previous arrangements. If they did, they’d be no different from humans. And the previous Grand Council members wouldn’t have died without a fight had they chosen to act like humans.
They would follow their predecessors’ paths without question, even if it was the path to their destruction. And it was this that distinguished themselves from humans, who would turn their backs on a promise when the situation suited them.
-Are you ordering us to take a stance? Then let me tell you. If Isaac is to once again leverage the hostage’s lives, we will give into his demands, whatever they are. And humanity will pay his price. That includes you, Queen.
The Queen stretched out her arms and shrugged.
“You should reconsider that stance.”
-What do you mean?
“It seems Mr. Isaac has also taken an object that was stored in Gabelin.”
Barad asked back. The Queen snickered.
“Yes. He took the nuclear warhead that was stored in the Royal Palace. You know that’s still operational right? Will you still acquiesce to Mr. Isaac’s demands?”
Many of the non-humans present looked to each other in confusion, not knowing the matter’s significance. But waves of shock rumbled through the chieftains of the strongest factions. Rivelia frowned at their reaction.
She knew the Royal Palace had a nuclear warhead; she was also privy to its purpose as the ultimate weapon of war for humans of the other world. But it was, for some reason, completely useless here. Wasn’t that why it was in a museum display case?
-No human should have knowledge of that except for the Queen! Are you saying that Dark Royale managed to uncover this secret—this secret that not even members of the Grand Council were aware of? Impossible!
Barad shouted out, to which the Queen shrugged.
“That’s true. The Dark Royale should not have been aware of that.”
-Then why did he take the weapon!
“Because it’s Mr.Isaac.”
That one sentence was enough to convince everyone in the meeting. Isaac planned to throw the nuclear warhead into the portal.
“If the Dark Royale wasn’t aware, does that mean not even the Emperor nor my father was aware of it too?”
Rivelia’s question came at a frighteningly cold tone. Barad answered.
-That’s right. It’s been a secret known only to chieftains of a select few races. Though some of it is no longer secret, it’s still on a strict need-to-know basis—not even the Director of Surveillance knows. So don’t bother.
Rivelia looked at Barad angrily and turned around. Even though she wanted to pry further, how could she when not even Kunette was aware of it? Just a quick glance was enough to know that Kunette was fuming. Kunette glared furiously at the chieftains that reacted to the Queen’s words.
Barad was the primary target of Kunette’s anger. Looking away from her, he spoke gravely.
-Stop him. You must stop him no matter what.
“Even if it endangers the lives of the hostages?”
Barad snorted at the Queen’s correction.
-Did you think we would reconsider after that? The conditions haven’t changed. Kill Isaac, retrieve the stolen warhead, and rescue the hostages. Fail even one of these tasks, all of humanity will pay the price.
Barad was dead serious. If the Goldenmane and the Whitewing were to die, the non-humans were going to wipe humanity from this world.
“I’ll do my best.”