Vincent's armored car, the same car which Jutse had watched him get into, pulled into the parking lot of a credit union.
Yes! We're here! We're here!! We're... parking?? No! Noooo!! Drive-thru!!

For god's sakes, will you calm down?
This isn't Vedkal, most people here walk or use public transport.
We have never had drive-thrus.
You've lived here for fifteen years, how do you not know this already?

A car is parked out in front of a large bank with an imposing front.
I guess wishing for things...
really doesn't make them come true, huh?


So not only does your car not have a minibar.

I never said it had one.

But there's no drive-thru either?

That is enough. I'm not getting dragged any further into your idiocy today.
I am going to call the bank so they can bring out the money.

You have to call? UUUUUUGGGHHH!! Could this day get any worse??

Well, I'd imagine it will take them a while to bring it out.

How do you figure that? We're right here!
I can see the tellers through the glass! This can't be more than a fifteen second walk.

You do realize they have to count all the money, right?

Oh right! The money! I'm going to be RICH! RICH!!!
Wait, hold on! They have to count all of it? ALL of it?
I have to wait that long! But the longer I wait... The more money it is! But I have to wait...

Aren't you a sniper? Isn't waiting around for the right moment your thing?
How on earth do you function if you're this impatient?

That's different, I don't mind waiting for that.
Killing people satisfies me on a deep, carnal level that material possessions could never.
Unlike some lame people who are haunted by the ghosts of the people whose lives they take...

Don't you give me that side-eye.
And your posturing is much undone by the fact that I am currently bribing you.
You're perfectly willing to trade that satisfaction for money...
The primary purpose of which is to obtain material possessions.

Vinny, Vinny! Come on now! This is just mathematics!
With the money you're so graciously donating to my meager fund... why...

Eddie, the dingo, looks up with an expectant grin at Vincent, who holds a phone.

Think of how many guns I'll be able to buy!


Augh... but the waiting! First, the waiting.

I'll be strong. A strong boy! A strong boy who can wait!

Well, I could cut you a check.

Eww! So unstylish! I want cold hard cash, baby!

Okay. So you're going to have to wait while they count it.

GAAHHHHH!! Why do they need an exact count?
They can't just stuff it into a few briefcases and be done with it?

You watch too much TV.
And it better be an exact count, because it's coming out of MY personal savings,
and I'll be damned if I'm giving your dopey ass a goddamn cent above what I promised.

So I can't use the favor for one goddamn cent? Seems kinda worthless...
You call yourself a powerful man? Shame on you, how disappointing.

Shush, I am calling.

Vincent called the bank, informed them of who he was, clarified who he was,
repeated who he was, asked to be put through to the manager,
clarified who he was, repeated who he was, stated the amount of his withdrawal,
repeated the amount of his withdrawal, stated it must be cash, not a deposit check...

Why? Why on earth do you want this amount in cash? I don't understand.

I cannot even begin to explain that to you and frankly I do not need to. I'll be waiting in my car.
Take whatever time you need, but don't drag this out. This is time-sensitive.

He hung up.

Time-sensitive, eh? What's the hurry?

Why don't we just kick back, relax, and help ourselves to the minibar?

Wh- ... I...
The hurry is that I want to be done with this, and done with you, and get the hell out of here.

Huh, haven't you heard of patience?

I swear to god, Eddie, if you weren't bedfellows with the crown prince I would snap your neck right now.

Just then, there was a knocking at the car window.

There's no way they counted it that fast...

A man of unidentifiable species stands outside with a blurred skyline behind him. He wears a mask with a pixelated pair of eyes and a nose on it, which appear to change with the expression under the mask. His hair comes out from the mask in great brown tufts, and points away from his neck below the mask.

Fleet Admiral! I knew I'd find you here...

Really. Really? You?
You know what, I'm not even surprised.

Oh NOW it's a party!
Princey, you've seen how much I'm about to be paid, right?
Drinks on me tonight, my guy!

The crown prince, of course, pretended that Eddie had said nothing.

You're probably wondering why I've gathered the two of you here...

You didn't gather us, you just showed up while we were already together.

Same result. It doesn't matter how we got here...
Let me in, darn you. I'm not having this conversation through a car window.

Princey! It's been weeks since I last saw you! I'll scoot over, so you can-

I'll sit next to Vincent.
The cancellation of Ms. Nolie's execution today will have dire consequences.
I will let it slide, because of this girl's sentimental value to you, Fleet Admiral.
That is, if you cooperate with my master plan.

I outrank you, watch how you're speaking to me.

Right, we're not there yet, I keep forgetting. No matter.
That girl is the living heir to the revolution.
The building she lives in sits atop a trove of classified files
that were stolen from the empire while we were focused on the Adenian-Tethish War.
Samuel Nolie. Does this name ring a bell?

A photo of a wolverine man with black spiky hair, holding an orange flag and wearing a lilac vest over an orange shirt. There is writing in Mersian Script along the margin which says: Sam Nolie, TERRORIST.
Our file on that guy takes up a whole cabinet.
I'm quite familiar with him and his 'work'. I'm surprised he wasn't more careful.
Grateful he never shared his food.
My conscience wouldn't have borne it if...
To answer your question, yes, I am familiar with Samuel Nolie.

So, you knew who Ms. Nolie was. Is. Will be.

I know her a great deal better than you do.
And to be honest I don't put that much stock in your self-proclaimed ability to 'see the future'.
She's got a good heart. Rimas deserves to live.
She deserves to find love again. She's the kind of person who's all too rare in this world.
Perhaps it's our own fault that this country is like this now...
That we have this empire where it seems ambition is criminalized.

You need to understand something about what she did.
It wasn't just ambition, or compassion, or dedication.
Magic allows for the alteration of properties and forces.
You know it, I know it, Eddie knows it.
You can heat things up, you can lift them, you can create an electric current...
Any of us could use stronger magic than what Rimas did today.
Frankly, the three of us may well be the most powerful mages in Aden.
But none of us could have done what Rimas did today.
You see, fire has rules. You need oxygen, you need heat, and you need fuel.
Oxygen can come from the air, of course.
Heat can come from the magic.
But fire needs fuel.
Her flame magic doesn't simply violate the laws of the empire, it violates the law of conservation of mass.
But I didn't witness it firsthand, I merely saw it in my visions. Eddie, though... You saw it, right?

Yeah, she made fire. A little fireball above her hand.
And then some raccoon in the cafe sprayed it out with a fire extinguisher! It was hilarious! She's a skunk, but he sprayed her!

This is an enemy who can ignore the laws of physics seemingly through sheer effort.
Who on Mersia could stop someone who isn't subject to the same laws of physics as everyone else?
And you, Fleet Admiral...
You would allow someone like this to live?

Yes. I would.

Let me tell you what exactly you've done.
You don't seem to understand what I meant by dire consequences.
She is going to upend the entire world.
She will achieve unheard-of feats of magic.
She will literally reshape the world...
Geographical features will bear her name.
She isn't just a magic user.
She is a tactical genius.

A car is parked out in front of a large bank with an imposing front.

But let me explain further exactly what you've achieved by sparing her today...

A closeup of the Crown Prince's face. He wears a devious expression.
You've condemned her to hell, Fleet Admiral.
I cannot even see the end of her life.
But I can see a critical point when she'll have something incredibly dear to her ripped away.
They say it's better to have loved and lost, but...
I hate her for what she represents, and even I can't help but feel pity.
The suffering she will live through...
It'll all be your fault.

You should have just let her die.