Chapter 7: Against the Fall of Night
3 months earlier:
Regis intently watched the raindrops which trickled down the tinted windows of the Cadillac. The car he was riding in steadily made its way across a deserted cable-stayed bridge. In the distance he could see a parked Mercedes where a tall muscular man was leaning against it, waiting for his arrival. The man was wearing a fur collar trench coat and leather gloves. Beyond the bridge, Regis could make out the skyline of Kuala Lumpur, the bright lights of the city illuminating the night sky.
The Cadillac soon pulled up and stopped in front of Tarek.
The driver parked and glanced over his shoulder to Regis “We’re here Dr. Blackgaard.”
“Thank you, Alexandre,” Blackgaard said to his driver as he opened the rear right passenger door and exited the car.
Tarek walked over to Dr. Blackgaard. “Welcome to Kuala Lumpur Dr. Blackgaard. I trust you had a pleasant flight.”
“Very. The caviar was exquisite.”
“Excellent. Dalmar is quite eager to make your acquaintance.”
“In that case best not to keep him waiting.”
Tarek opened the rear right passenger door of the Mercedes and gestured for Blackgaard to enter. After Regis climbed in the back of the car Tarek entered the Mercedes as well, closing the door behind them both. Nigel, the driver, turned the key in the ignition and the car roared to life. The Mercedes was soon speeding down the streets of Kuala Lumpur. The neon signs of bars and clubs dotted the landscape around them. The Mercedes came to a stop in front of “The Argyle.”
“Here we are,” Tarek informed Blackgaard. The two gentlemen exited the car and strutted inside the establishment. Inside “The Argyle” hordes of people gathered and mingled. Some patrons were occupied with lively rounds of poker and blackjack, while others chatted away at the bar over a drink or spent their time on the dance floor.
Blackgaard followed closely behind Tarek as he walked over to the bar. The bartender noticed Tarek and Blackgaard coming towards him from the other side of the establishment. He made his way over to the edge of the bar and placed his hands on the counter.
“Hello, gentlemen. I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon Tarek.”
Tarek rested his arm on the bar “The boss’ plans changed. This gentleman here has some business to conduct with Dalmar.”
“The usual?” the bartender asked.
Tarek nodded his head. The bartender retrieved a shot glass and poured in some tequila. He then proceeded to add some slices of frog leg into the glass. The bartender then placed the drink in front of Tarek.
Blackgaard eyed the drink and turned to the bartender.
“A shot of whiskey will suffice, thank you.”
He grabbed another shot glass and poured some whiskey. He then slid the cup across the counter to Blackgaard. Regis picked up the glass of whiskey.
“Cheers Doctor, ” Tarek said as the two gentlemen clinked glasses. Regis and Tarek each downed their drink and placed the empty glasses on the bartop. Tarek gave the bartender a nod and walked away from the bar. Regis followed suit and the two men made their way to the back of the club. At the back, they passed through beaded curtains hanging from a doorway that led to a staircase. The stairs led downstairs to the basement of the club. Regis and Tarek descended the stairs and arrived at the bottom. In front of them was a door with a security keypad to the right. Tarek punched in the code and the door slid to the left. Tarek stepped to the side and Regis entered. Dr. Blackgaard walked in and the door immediately shut behind him. In the center of the room was a round oak table where Dalmar was seated.
“Good evening Dr. Blackgaard or perhaps I should say good morning instead” Dalmar greeted Blackgaard.
“Either one will suffice” Regis walked closer towards Dalmar.
“Please join me Dr.Blackgaard.” he motioned to the chair to the left of him.
“Certainly.” Regis pulled out the chair and took a seat.
“Now I’m not a man to put off the business at hand. My informants tell me that you have knowledge of a discovery that, to be direct, will change the world.”
“My research has been to put it succinctly earth-shattering. If I wasn’t so certain would I have devoted nearly all my adult life in pursuit of it? Now I’m on the verge of the course of humanity changing forever. All the power and money I—we’ve ever dreamed of can be ours. The most powerful men and women would be reduced to nothing but mere weaklings. We would be gods among men.”
As he heard Blackgaard’s words Dalmar found himself mesmerized by the thought of his grand delusions and dreams of wealth and power becoming reality. If what Blackgaard spoke of truly existed the conflict and obstacles he now faced in Krudia in his quest for power would cease to exist. Krudia and later the entire world would be his.
Blackgaard continued “Alas my continued efforts in my research, along with the passing of my partner and benefactor, has left me without sufficient funds and resources to continue with my excavations. However, through various contacts, I became aware of your goals as well as the funds which you have amassed.” He lowered his voice and leaned in towards Dalmar “I also heard tell of your hand in the death of my cousin, Norvan.”
Dalmar looked taken aback by Blackgaard’s direct comments about his actions. He opened his mouth but then closed it, trying to find the words. “Well, I..your cousin posed a…I—”
“Oh please don’t act all guilty or contrite. Between you and me I thoroughly enjoyed hearing of his untimely demise. He was always a thorn in my side and I thank you for relieving me of his presence.” A look of relief crossed Dalmar’s eyes. Blackgaard spoke once more. “Back to the subject at hand. I believe that a partnership between us will be mutually beneficial to us both. I will have the funding that I need and in return, your ambitions of power will not just be a dream but a surety.”
Dalmar crossed his arms and gave a slight smirk. “Dr. Blackgaard I believe that you and I can come to some sort of an arrangement.”
Tasha stood in front of the mirror gently combing out her hair. She placed the comb down on the top of the dresser and picked some clips up off of it. She quickly tied her hair up in a bun and slipped on a pair of T-strap sandals. Tasha opened the door to her room and walked over to 204. She knocked and waited for an answer. The door opened and a half-asleep Jason, still dressed in his pajamas, answered. “Melinda, hi.”
“What are you doing up so early?” he yawned.
“I thought we could go out. See the sights and get some breakfast.”
“Oh, I thought we were just going to stay around the hotel until tomorrow. Besides, there is such a thing as room service.”
“I never go somewhere new without sightseeing. You never know what things you can discover.” Tasha hinted as she pulled out a slip of paper from inside her wool overcoat. She handed it to Jason. “Here, I thought we could try out this restaurant. The Ledbury. I saw it had rave reviews.”
Jason opened the piece of paper and quickly read it. Dot dash dot. Ah, Morse code. Good thing Dad taught it to me. Jason read the rest of the paper. Dot. Dash dot dash dot. Dash dash dash. Dash dot. Dash dot. Dot dash. Dot Dot. Dot Dot Dot. Dot Dot Dot. Dot dash. Dash dot. Dash dot dash dot. Dot. Reconnaissance. He looked up from the paper and handed it back to Tasha. “Yes, this place sounds incredible. Just give me a second to put some clothes on and I’ll meet you in the lobby downstairs.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Tasha left Jason to change and made her way downstairs. A few minutes later Jason joined her and the two of them made their way outside to the sidewalk next to The Chardell. The street was filled with the hustle and bustle of people making their way to work or school. The air was full of the smell of car exhaust and the sounds of honking and tires squealing. Tasha grabbed some money from her purse and held it up signaling for a taxi. A taxi soon pulled up beside them. Jason opened the right passenger door and climbed into the cab after Tasha.
“So where to?” the driver asked.
“Izmirlian Square” Tasha answered.
“Izmirlian Square huh?” Jason replied.
“It’s where the parliament is located and where any political campaigns and rallies take place.”
“Well, well. I’m impressed. You really did your homework.”
Tasha smiled, “Thanks.” She lowered her voice to a near whisper, “I just figured if there’s any place we’d find out more information about the KLF it’d be there.”
The driver spoke “So what brings you to Krudia? Besides visiting Izmirlian Square.”
“We’re here conducting some business,” Jason answered.
“Makes sense. Hardly anyone comes to Krudia just to visit. I can’t say I blame them. I wouldn’t want to visit Krudia either.”
“Why is that?” Tasha asked, even though she already knew the answer, hoping to perhaps gain some new information from the driver’s reply.
“Why?” the driver almost scoffed, “There are a thousand reasons why. Almost half of the country is unemployed. The price of bread is extortionate. And the country’s been racked with economic problems and famine the past few years. Worst of all, the government and Prime Minister have done nothing. Those bureaucrats say they care but they don’t. They have barely done anything to help. And the little they have done has fixed nothing. It’s always more of the same. If you ask me, this country’s only hope is the KLF. Its leader understands that nothing will change unless radical action is taken.” He sighed “I’m sorry if I seem on edge it’s just that I’m so tired of things the way they are. Of course not being from here you’d never really understand. Anyway, we’re almost at Izmirlian Square.”
For the rest of the trip the three of them rode in silence. A few minutes later they arrived at Izmirlian Square. The plaza was filled with thongs of people protesting. Men and Women. Young and Old. The protesters all marched together holding assortments of signs in favor of the KLF and in protest of the government and Prime Minister Galstyan. As they marched in front of the Krudian Parliament Building they chanted “No longer silenced, freedom for Krudia.”
The cab pulled over and stopped by the Parliament building. “Here you are. That I’ll be 25 American dollars.” The driver held out his hand. Tasha handed him the money.
“Thank you. Have a good day.”
“You too,” Jason replied as he got out of the car.
“You as well,” Tasha added as she exited the cab. Jason closed the cab door and the driver drove away.
“There certainly are a lot of people here,” Jason remarked as they made their way into the square.
“Yes, by the looks of it at least a few thousand.” Tasha opened her purse and located her pen.
“Cheese” Jason grinned. Tasha playfully rolled her eyes before snapping a few shots of the plaza and protest.
“How about we head over to that courthouse over there? From here it looks like some sort of rally is going on” Tasha pointed in its direction.
“Sure, you’re the boss. That is what I’m supposed to say right?” Jason teased.
Tasha shook her head and started walking to the front of the courthouse. Jason followed quickly behind her. As they neared the courthouse Tasha and Jason could make out the impassioned voice of Tarek who stood on the courthouse steps. The two of them joined the audience and stood in the back of the large crowd.
“Are you tired of wondering if you’ll have enough to feed your family? Are you sick of feeling hopeless, like there’s no tomorrow?”
The men and women surrounding him nodded their heads and voiced their agreement.
“We have to recognize that as long as Prime Minister Galstyan is in power things won’t change. It’s time for us to take action. It’s time for us to demand our rights. It’s time for us to no longer be silent but have our voices heard. It’s time for a change in leadership and right now the only person who can guide us to a brighter tomorrow is Davit Dalmar. He recognizes just like all of us that change is needed, drastic change. He sees our pain and will not rest until bread is on our table and clothes are on our backs, until we can not just survive but thrive. If you want to hear his plan for change come to the Bulin Meeting hall tonight at 8 o’clock. Come to hear the truth. Come if you want a future. Come to hear Davit Dalmar.” He stood erect, resolute determination in his eyes, “No longer silenced, freedom for Krudia.”
The crowd echoed his words, “No longer silenced, freedom for Krudia.”
Jason leaned over and whispered in Tasha’s ear, “I guess we know where we’ll be tonight.”