“’War’s not easy on the loser’s for damn sure,’ that’s what I remember one of those stupid fellow commanders saying. And he’s right, sure, but you know what the secret is right? Become one of the winner’s, that’s what I did, and that’s why I still have power,” the fat man said chuckling.
“Was that Eagle?” questioned the figure across from him at the poker table. The room was dimly lit and he was wearing a jacket, so it was hard to make out his face. He followed with an “all in,” in his younger voice.
“Oho,” said the larger man, “the last two players at the table and you want to bring it to one hand? Very well, I’ll call your bluff sir,” he said moving his chips forward. “And you’re right, it was Eagle, did you know the hair gelled fool?” he smiled a look of victory on his lips, beyond his gray beard.
“You could say that,” the figure replied, “I knew Sami a fair bit better though…” he said trailing off into thought as he fiddled with the cards in his hand. “Proving time I guess? I never lose when I have these,” he said motioning to the goggles around his neck.
“You look a little young to have known Eagle long anyways, his execution must have been a good 15 years ago by now. Oho, what a marvelous game that was, poor Sami must have been psychologically broken by the end,” the older man stated, as if retelling one of his war stories. “But tell me, before we go on, I do get the feeling I know you from somewhere…what’s your name boy?”
“Max,” the young man replied quickly. “Now are we gonna lay down the cards or not? I’m really not fond of cowards Olaf,” Max said in a biting tone.
“I knew a Max once, one of those bastards from Orange Star,” Olaf remarked shoving off the insult. “But if you want to speak of cowardice child, why not play your hand first then?” he finished, assuring himself the last word.
“Full house,” Max responded laying all the cards on the table.
“And straight flush,” said Olaf as he nestled all the chips with his hands. “You lost it seems, looks like you need a new pair of lucky goggles kid,” he said in a cheery attitude.
“Oh, I’m not playing poker Olaf,” said Max as he kicked back the chair and stood up to the light, finally revealing his red slicked back hair to the old man. The two guards behind Olaf looked at Max, as the other men at the table looked to Olaf for a response.
“I’m not sure I follow you boy-”
“Of course you don’t, you have no idea who the hell I even am do you?” said Max in an escalating tone. He pounded his fist on the table. “You still have no idea, do you?”
“Wait…that’s impossible. None of them ever had a kid, I made sure of it!” Olaf bellowed in anger. “Grit, shoot this man and be done with this charade.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that sir,” Grit said keeping back behind Olaf.
“Grit I just recently hired you after nearly 20 years of absence, don’t pull this lazy crap on me again,” he said angry. “You know what, fine, new guy shoot this buffoon down.”
The other hooded guard looked at Olaf and drew his handgun before finally pulling down his hood with his other hand, revealing his jet black hair.
“You really should screen your personal guards better Olaf. I mean they thought I was stupid when I had no idea what an airport was. I was 11, I’d love to know what your excuse is.”
“Andy, what the hell is this? How are you here? Guards!” he screamed franticly. “Look, I’ve taken great care of Blue Moon,” he continued on grasping for breath. “I did what was necessary; you must understand that, beca-, because of me this nation wasn’t burned to the ground!”
“Because of you this nation is in constant strife, the poor can hardly afford a meal while you bathe in luxury,” said Max. “My parents are dead because of you and your cowardice to stand up when the fight got tough,” he said as he pulled out a gun and pointed it at Olaf.
“You sold out to Black Hole Olaf,” continued Andy, as he went to the door and watched to make sure no unwanted guests came in to interrupt the game. “Because of you and the other traitors and quitters most of our friends are dead.”
“Don’t blame that on me Andy, that was your fault!” he angrily replied. “You all should have just given up when you realized they had the upperhand. I did what was necessary, to save my country, and because of it, it’s better off than Orange Star and Green Earth are. One is a nation burned to the ground and the other one dying, but not Blue Moon, Blue Moon is still alive. Don’t blame that on me you pious brat, I saved Blue Moon! Your friends paid for their decision!” he was almost out of breath.
“And I reckon it’s time you paid for yours Olaf, old friend,” Grit said. “Go ahead junior, there’s no helping him,” he concluded, nodding to Max.
“Grit you traitorous bastard, they’ll kill you for this! Emperor Von Bolt will have all of your heads on a platter.”
“No Olaf,” said Max. “I plan on winning this game,” he said. Then he pulled the trigger twice and Olaf lay limp with blood dripping down his chair. There was a shriek from the other 4 players as they ran out of the room to leave the three armed men and the King of Blue Moon’s dead body in silence.
Finally after some seconds passed, Andy began to speak.
“They’d be proud of you Max, both of your parents.”
“They would,” Grit followed, “both Eagle and Sami. Hell, even ole Max is probably smilin’ in heaven with ‘em,” he said giving a brief but somber chuckle. “I remember when they named you after him, gave me a smile at least, to know the first friend of ours killed wouldn’t just be forgotten like that,” his gray beard gave him an aged and kind wisdom, like that of a grandfather when he spoke.
“Yeah…” Andy said trailing off. This all reminded him of a time when all of his friends were still around and he wasn’t slightly over 6 feet tall. Max had no idea what those memories were like, but he couldn’t help but get nostalgic all of his own when he looked at Andy.
“I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the old man though,” Grit said, bringing the two out of their memories. “It was hard on us, all of us to watch them torture Colin. Sasha couldn’t take living through it, and in a way neither could Olaf or I. It doesn’t justify how he acted, but he did make a decision to try to end the suffering, as we all did.”
“I hate to interrupt, but we need to get out of here,” Andy said. “The police will be here soon enough, and I’d like to avoid a firefight if at all possible.”
“Where will we go now?” Grit asked, “I suppose they’ll scope all of Blue Moon for us, now that we’ve just killed her king.”
“Kanbei’s still got Yellow Comet fighting,” Andy replied. “We’ll start there and help them out till we wipe out the entire Black Hole Army.” He picked up one of the chairs and threw it through a window.
“Fall to the padding onto the armored convoy below, it’s only a two story drop,” he said, right before he hopped out of the window.
“Well I reckon it’s time to say goodbye to this place,” Grit said following out of the window.
Max stood there with nothing but an empty stare and the beating of his heart for a second. After taking one look back to Olaf he looked at the window and started to walk towards it.
“Man I could use some chocolate,” he said to himself.