This is the final part for Relentless. Let me know what you think. Good ending, bad ending, confusing ending? Was it predictable? Would love to hear your feedback on Facebook or in the comments below. Don’t forget Part 1 and Part 2.
Relentless – Part 3
“I know why you did this.”
Joshua Carpenter stood in front of the ruins of the Federation command base on Salem. The great stone walls, once hailed as architectural masterpieces for their artistry and the protection they provided, lay in piles of rubble. Buildings that had stood just inside the walls were reduced to dust. They were dormitories, chow halls, and recreation centers for the Federation troops. Young men and women, now buried somewhere beneath the devestation. Some of the stone still glowed an eerie white from the bombs Molech used.
A clear path led straight from Joshua to a round plaza that was also free of debris. Molech stood there with his hands behind his back. He looked like he was out for an evening stroll with Elyse by his side. Elyse shifted her feet and stepped closer toward Joshua, but a growl from Molech stopped her.
“So, you know why I’m here. What tipped you off?” Molech laughed. It was a guttural laugh. No amusement. No warmth. Only cruelty.
“I don’t care why you were here, Molech. You’re time has come.” Joshua kept his eyes on Elyse, and she kept her eyes on the ground.
“My time has come? Indeed it has. My time to rule, my time to break your tyranny, my time to…” Molech roared. It was the first time Elyse had noticed any emotion in the man. Faced with Joshua, it seemed his calm detachment failed.
“You’re time to pay for your crimes.” Joshua interrupted. He remained calm, but there was strong emotion in his words. There was pain.
Elyse raised her eyes slowly and found Joshua staring back at her. She wanted to look away, but couldn’t break his gaze. “I…” she started and stumbled. “You had to see. You had to know. The Federation…you had to know.”
“Yes. I had to know. The Federation is corrupt. It is responsible for so many crimes, and I had to know. Because, if I knew I wouldn’t let it go free.” Joshua said. His voice was forced, choked. Elyse thought she could see tears make their way down his cheeks even from this distance.
“Yes,” she said hopefully. “I didn’t know what else to do. If you came to rescue me, came to save me when the Federation abandoned me…I could make you…” she faltered and stopped. Joshua wasn’t looking at her anymore. Instead, his eyes were on the rubble around him.
“Cadet Mohalia. She was corrupt, yes? Cadet Johan, he was one of the worst, correct? All 462 cadets, all 245 instructors, Mrs. Julia Correnza who greeted the cadets when they came for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their crimes are now accounted for, is that correct?” His voice stayed low, but broken. He did not yell.
Elyse wanted him to yell. She could handle yelling. This, this she couldn’t handle.
“I…” What could she say? There were no words, there wasn’t anything she could do.
“You wanted to make me see.” He looked into her eyes again. “The Federation is not innocent. It does have its problems. I am not blind to its corruptions and its crimes. I do not control all of its actions, but I do take responsibility for them. They do not go unanswered.”
Now, it was Elyse’s turn for the tears to start their trek down her cheeks.
“The genocide of the Orranto tribe on Maha. Admiral Benson led that campaign. Do you know where he is now?”
Elyse shook her head.
“He died two cycles ago while serving a life sentence in Jo-Qu’a prison. He did not die before he made amends, though. He confessed his crimes, he expressed his true sorrow and remorse, and he paid for his crimes.” Joshua held his breath for a heartbeat, then breathed slowly.
Elyse wanted to answer, to ask about the so many other crimes she had learned about or had known for years. Again, words failed to come to her.
“The invasion of Ba’Ra’maho? The inquisition of the prophetess Mikala? The children of Moosha? Do you know what my answer to any of them was?”
Again, Elyse shook her head.
“You stand judge over me, accuse me of turning a blind eye to the crimes of my precious Federation, but you do not ask what I have done to make recompense. I do love the Federation, but I do not excuse its actions. But, you ignore so much, Elyse. So much. There are good people in the Federation, and they are doing good things. The Federation is still my face and voice in the galaxy. For every corrupt officer, there are hundreds who keep the peace and help those in need. It is not perfect, but I do love it.”
“I’m…I’m sorry…I…” Elyse fell to her knees and hugged herself tightly. She looked around at the ruins and the enormity of what happened hit her. Her body shook as the silent sobs ravaged her.
“Elyse. I love you, too. I cannot stop loving you, even in this.” Joshua walked toward her.
“Oh for the…” Molech growled. “Don’t take another step!” His arms swung out in front of him and he held a long barreled rifle. He aimed it at Elyse’s head.
“What will that accomplish, Molech? You have lost. Yes, you destroyed the command base, but the Federation is on its way as we speak. You will not live beyond this day.”
“Oh, no. It is you who has lost, prince.” Molech spat. “You’ve lost your pretty girl, you’ve lost your Federation. You’ve lost everything. What do you think the Federation will do when they find out your girlfriend was responsible for all of this? Do you think they’ll just pat her on the back and tell her that all’s forgiven? There’ll be a trial, and they’ll execute her. I know you. You’ll try to stop it, and that will break any trust the Federation had in the throne. Oh, I’ve won, prince. I’ve won this day. But you know what?”
Molech laughed his cold laugh again. He raised the rifle and pointed it at Joshua.
“What’s the point of winning if I can’t have the trophy?”
The rifle’s report reverberated off the stone around them.
“No!” Elyse screamed. Instinctively her body rose and propelled her toward Joshua.
Red blossomed on the dark blue coat of Joshua’s uniform. He stumbled backward and dropped to his knees. Elyse reached him and wrapped herself around him.
“Joshua? Please…Joshua…please, no.” She held his face in her hands and kept his eyes on her.
“Elyse…” he said weakly. “I told you I love you. Do you believe me?”
“What?” her mind swam.
“Do you believe me?”
“Yes, of course…I…”
“What?” she searched his eyes for an answer. He was dying, and he wanted a kiss? Really?
“Kiss me, if you believe that I love you and would do anything for you.”
Elyse hesitated for a breath, saw his eyes were lucid and determined, and she kissed him.
And power raged through her body. She wanted to scream from the shock, but she wanted her lips to stay pressed to his. Light swarmed around the both of them. Blinding. Pulsating. It grew as the burn of the power intensified in her body.
Finally she felt her lips release from Joshua. The light was gone and her eyes refocused to the world around her. Her hands were empty. She looked down, and Joshua was gone. His body was gone.
“I am with you.” She heard his voice whisper. She looked around, but saw only Molech standing dumbstruck with the rifle still raised in the air. Then, she felt it. The power still inside her, but softer, more part of her body.
Elyse stood and turned to Molech. He dropped the rifle.
“My spirit is in you now, but I am not gone. I can never be gone. I will return, do you believe me?” Joshua whispered to her again.
“Good. You will lead now, as Sovereign Princess, my spirit will guide you.”
“But, my crimes? The dead?”
“You will answer for them. You will see what that answer is to be.”
“Can I rule from prison?”
“No, but you cannot answer for this from prison or death, either. You will make recompense. You will know what that is in time.”
At the sound of his name, Molech dropped to his knees.
“Does he hear you?” Elyse stepped toward Molech.
“No. He does not have my spirit. However, he did see the light surround you and my body disappear. He’s a bit shaken by it. He must face trial by the Federation court.”
“I understand.” Elyse stopped in front of Moelch. “Joshua?”
“I love you, too.”
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