“Dad?” Markus always preferred calling his father “Dad”. He thought it was a fine line between being proper and respectful. He and his father had many disagreements, but Markus respected his father more than any other man. He was one that could always get things done behind the scenes, and still but a smile on any man’s face. He wouldn’t low ball people or try to pull any fast ones, even though he was primarily a salesman for most of his career. Now he has people that hire people that hire people to make the sales.
“I was hoping you would come by.” His aging voice came out groggily. Dim light from a lighter ignited before his face, illuminating a cigarrete in his mouth. He hadn’t smoked in years; something was very wrong. His short hair was greying. A small detail Markus hadn’t remembered from his childhood.
“Have a seat; we have much to talk about.” He said, gesturing to a hardly visible wooden chair behind a table in front of where his father was sitting. He approached it with near-trembling legs and sat down.
“Is there a light in here?” Markus asked, trying to keep the conversation light for as long as possible – or at least until he was ready.
“Sorry, there wasn’t much time to install many lights.”
“This is an odd addition to the headquarters.” The man blew a puff of smoke.
“You can never be too cautious, Mark.” An awkward silence filled the room. After a few seconds, Markus broke it.
“So, um, I am, uh.” His father’s eyes met with his and it quickly became more awkward as Markus struggled to find the right words. He cleared his throat. “I’ve been accepted to become an elite.” He finally said. His father’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“Really? That’s wonderful!” He was more enthusiastic then Markus had anticipated. “When do you launch?” He asked, leaning in.
“Tomorrow.” He answered honestly.
“Good, good. The Separatist military is the safest place for you.” Markus looked puzzled. Normally a parent wouldn’t want his son on the front lines, let alone in the special forces.
“Since when is the frontlines the safest place to be?” Markus asked, folding his arms and leaning back in his chair. He was tempted to put his feet up on the table like he had dozens of times in the multiple training camps he had been to, but thought it would send of the wrong message. Jacob Devroy’s eyes froze as their gaze fixed on nothing. His jaw shifted.
“These are dark days.” Markus bore a puzzled face once again. He tried to think of an event that might have caused him to say that. He couldn’t think of one.
“What? These days are as bright as it gets. The Separatists are thriving more than ever, colonies are being born everywhere, our government is the strongest out of any outlying system, it doesn’t get any brighter than this!” Markus explained, using the frequent hand motion to support his point.
“Not for the government, Markus, for the com-“ He was interrupted by a man who was fully armed with Devroy manufactured scout’s armor with a Devroy designed pistol on his side and rifle hanging on his back. Simply put, he had the best equipment available. He had a phone in his hand and the other was tapping Jacob Devroy’s shoulder.
“Sir, it’s for you.” He gave the phone to Mark’s father and he raised it to his ear.
“Hello?” He said into the receiving end. “Hello?” He repeated. Markus could hear the phone cut out. Jacob slowly gave the phone back to the guard, who casually walked away with it.
“What was that?” Markus asked urgently. The smashing realization that something was very, very wrong hit Markus in the chest like a baseball bat.
“I’m not sure.” He replied, standing up. Markus could see right through the obvious lie. Jacob Devroy began to walk through the darkness. Mark followed, the dirt crunching under his feet with every step.
“I said I don’t know!” He yelled, turning around and looking Markus in the eye. He then turned around and kept walking, leaving Markus stunned. He turned and looked at a man who was standing at attention. “John, I want that door locked and sealed, you hear me? Locked and sealed!” He turned and looked at another man. “Get every security turret online, now!”
“Dad, what the hell is going on?”
“Son, look at me.” He did as his father instructed. “Run.”
“Run. Run for your life. They’re here, and they will kill me, and you, and-“
“Who? Who will kill- What!?”
“There is no time for goodbye! Now go!” He barked, jabbing his finger at an elevator similar to the one that brought him here.
“No time for goodbye? There was hardly time for hello!”
“Son, I can’t say this again, if you want to get out alive, run for your life.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Dad, until you tell me what the hell is going on.” His father grunted and kept walking.
“Go! You stubborn boy!” Markus followed him into a strange walk-in closet looking room. It was only until Markus had a closer look that he could see it was a small armory. He was about to ask another question when he heard a muffled explosion from behind the giant, foot-wide, ear-splitting door that Markus had come through to get into the strange bunker type room.
“Markus” Jacob began, “Don’t put your life in someone’s hands, their bound to steal it away.”
“What?” Markus asked in complete and utter confusion. Jacob ignored him and kept talking.
“Don’t hide your mistakes or they will find you and burn you.” His voice was more sincere than ever.
“This is the last time we will ever be able to see each other. It’s hard to imagine but one day you’ll end up like me, an old man with everything, yet nothing.” Jacob was slapping magazines in weapons and checking the charges of energy swords.
“Pa, you’re making no sense!” Markus was trying to swallow the lump in his throat, but every attempt proved futile. The last time he had called his father ‘Pa’ was nearly fifteen years ago, as a small child.
“If I stay it won’t be long until they find me.” He assessed. His mind was racing, but obviously clear. “If I go I can only hope that fate has just a little more in store for me.” Jacob was talking to himself. He always did when he was thinking hard. He then grabbed a standard, Devroy Manufactured pistol and dropped it in Markus’ hands.
“There is little else to say, you must go.”
“Go? Go where?” Markus asked with an overly exaggerated shrug.
“There is a transport waiting on the fifteenth floor in a hidden hangar, make it there in five.” He explained, stepping out of the closet with a large automatic rifle. Markus hadn’t noticed until he had followed his father out of the closet, but there was a steady banging on the hefty door.
“Dad, I’m not leaving you!”
“I’m not asking, I’m telling. Go!”
“Why can’t you come with me?”
“I’m not” He looked down and clamped his eyes shut as if wanting to wake from a terrible, terrible nightmare. “Strong enough.” He finished. Markus didn’t even know how to respond to that. Just when he was going to open his mouth, the door exploded and Markus found himself tasting the dirt. He stammered to his feet and looked around.
“Go! Go!” He heard his father’s voice through the dust and smoke that filled the small room. Markus’ legs began running towards the elevator without his permission. His ears produced a constant ringing that was piercing his mind. It wasn’t loud enough to drown out the obvious gunshots that echoed in rapid succession. Muzzle-fire was easily seen through the smoke and dust as Markus dove for the elevator, but he wasn’t sure it would catch him as he was farther away than he anticipated.
The gun fire continued. So much gunfire. Markus’ head was filled with cloudy thoughts and emotions. He didn’t even realize he was being dragged away until all fell silent. He found himself looking at his father, who was without armor, crouching behind a barricade as multiple rounds caused the dirt around him to scatter and fly like fireworks on the Twenty-sixth of May. Markus could hear himself screaming, but didn’t recognize his own voice. Before he knew how far he had been drug, two glass doors separated him from the chaos that was ensuing and the ground began to lift him up. Someone had drug him into the elevator. Markus scrambled to his knees and pounded on the glass.