Chapter 15
The Old Name

Gollum, it seemed, was forced to sit several seats in front of Fred and Sam for the cross-pacific flight. When Fred had first learned this, he had nearly dissolved into a panic. He didn’t really need to worry, though. Gollum wasn’t used to seats that comfortable. The moment he had gotten on the plane, he had fallen asleep and had not woken up for the entire flight. Although the person who was forced to sit next to him was put off a little bit by his appearance, there were no real problems.

Now, the trio sat in a mostly deserted restaurant that Fred couldn’t pronounce the name of. After a little while, Sam got up. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

Fred nodded, and Sam set off for the bathroom, which was about twenty feet away from them. That left just Gollum and Fred, alone in the restaurant. Gollum turned away from Fred and began to mutter to himself. Fred didn’t really feel like focusing on his sandwich anymore. So he just watched Gollum for a minute.

“Who are you?” he asked finally. Gollum turned his head and eyed Fred suspiciously.

“You should be eating. You need strength.” Then he turned back and started to sing to himself. “Cold be hand and heart and bone…”

“Greg told me about you,” Fred said slowly. “He told me you used to be happy and carefree. You used to be human.”

“Cold be travelers far from home…”

Fred went on, talking to the back of Gollum’s head. “What are you now? What are you… Samuel?”

Gollum stopped singing and turned to face Fred. “What…” he said, his voice cracking. “What did you call me?”

“That is your old name, isn’t it?” Fred leaned forward. “That is who you are?”

Gollum seemed confused. He looked down at the floor, then up at Fred, then back down at the floor again. “Yes…” He seemed to speak to himself. “Yes… that is my name… Samuel…”

There was silence between the two for a minute. Suddenly, a loud voice came over the loudspeaker. It said a long string of words in Russian. Gollum let out a shriek and grabbed Fred, sending both chairs and the table crashing to the floor. Gollum started dragging Fred across the restaurant floor. Fred started to yell for Gollum to let him go, but then the announcement was repeated in English.

“Attention please. His Excellency President Warren King will be making an unexpected appearance at gate B39 in just a few minutes. Please clear the gate area. Thank you.”

Fred looked across the hall from the restaurant and saw why Gollum had freaked out. B39 was right across from them. Warren King was coming. Here.

* * *

“Stop the car,” Greg commanded. The driver gave him a questioning look, but obeyed. Greg opened the door and stepped out. Theodore gave him a strange look, but didn’t ask any questions. Greg walked back to the car behind the limo carrying the Prime Minister and tapped on the window. Aaron rolled it down.

“Yeah?” Aaron asked.

Greg motioned to the limo. “Get out of that car. Liam and George too. Get in the limo with the Prime Minister and his niece. I need this car.”

Aaron gave Greg a strange look. “What? Why?”

“I have to get back to Sydney and get the White Shadow. I have to fly back to America. I can’t say too much, but I have a plan, and a good one.”

Aaron started to object, but his thoughts caught up with him, and he nodded and opened the door. Liam and George also stepped out of the car, and Greg got in the driver’s seat. He regarded the trio with a small smile. “Look for me soon. I am never far away.” The he turned the car, hit the gas, and was gone.

* * *

Before this whole mess had started, Phil had complained about a simple walk across the kitchen to get a soda. But after several months of walking across at least three-quarters of the United States, Phil figured that a simple, though several mile, walk to the nearest town with Terrance and Martin seemed like a walk in the park.

A walk in the park? Who had come up with that? And besides, no one walked in parks anymore. All they did there was scare little kids off the playgrounds and throw things at joggers.

Terrance had woken the two up that morning and announced that they were coming with him to the nearest town, a few miles down the road. Phil hadn’t objected, mostly because he was curious about what kind of people Terrance could possibly hang out with. So that was how he found himself in the town square with Martin and Terrance.

The square was abuzz with activity. Traders and farmers mingled, trading their wares and examining their neighbor’s goods. Phil watched in amazement as dozens of swaps and trades took place right before his eyes. Terrance led him and Martin through the crowds to a large building just off the square. A sign on the outside had two words on it, but they were in a language that Phil couldn’t understand. He leaned over and poked Terrance’s arm.

“What does that mean?”

“Town Hall,” Terrance said simply, and they went inside. Inside the building were a large amount of people milling around a large room. The crowd seemed to part before Terrance, and several people bowed slightly to him as he walked by. Terrance led Phil and Martin through a small door off to one side of the large room.

The group now found themselves in a small room. One of these walls was dominated by a massive TV screen, which showed images being send from a small computer terminal off to one side. Terrance stopped and pointed to the screen.

“Look closely,” he said. “I want you to watch the stuff that’s coming in.”

Phil watched in awe as clips from news stations all over the world were flashed across the screen. Each one dealt with Sean White. It was the first time that Phil had actually seen the man and heard him speak. It was incredible. Emperor White had a deep, almost hypnotic baritone voice that soothed and calmed Phil, and almost made him forget that he was an enemy.

Terrance stepped in front of the screen. “Reports are that scouting forces from this man’s nation have been coming very close to our island. We are going to have a town meeting in an hour to decide whether or not our island will ally itself to this new Empire or if we will fight it.”

“What?” Martin exploded. “There’s no choice in the matter! You have to stand against him! He’s evil!”

“We like to explore all our options,” said Terrance sternly. “We are a very open-minded people.” There came a knock at the door. “Ah!” said Terrance. “The first one arrives!” He walked over to the door and flung it open. Within the hour, Phil and Martin sat quietly while town officials and representatives crowded into the room. Finally, Terrance got up and clapped his hands. The room fell silent, and the officials took their places.

“The meeting begins at last!” Terrance announced. “First, I want to welcome two guests, representatives from the United States of America, Martin Brooks and Phillip Taylor.” There was a polite round of applause, but Phil could see that many of the people were confused as to why these two boys were here. “And now,” said Terrance, “I pose a question to you concerning this man, Emperor Sean White.” He motioned to the screen. “Should we ally ourselves to his cause or give our lives to defeat it?”

To Be Continued…

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