The President was true to his word. We really were holding some kind of trial. It was large auditorium, with chairs removed around the front-center. The remaining chairs were arranged in a C-shape, most facing towards the stage, a few near the front were facing the gap. In that gap were two lecterns facing the stage, upon which the President sat on a fancy leather swivel chair behind a heavy wooden desk, smiling down at me with a quiet satisfaction. Behind him stood Gupta and Mendez One lectern was unoccupied. The other one had Professor Karl Krieger at it. He turned around and smiled at me.
As he did, I noticed he wore handcuffs that forced his wrists to touch. They were painted a dull black, but as usual, his light brown eyes and bushy mane of hair and wild beard made him look like a demented lion. He was smiling like he was genuinely happy to see me. “Boyke!” he said happily, his accent as South African as ever. “Been busy, yeah?”
“Yeah,” I said, slightly guilty. I hadn’t completely betrayed him, but what I did was still treachery. No matter how much I reminded myself how crazy Krieger was and how there was a chance he was even worse than the President. It felt hollow.
“I take it you talked?” Krieger asked. “I was… wondering.”
“Oh he sang,” the President said. “Like a canary.”
As I walked down the central path to the unoccupied lectern, I noticed that everyone was watching me like I was the key witness in a courtroom drama. In the parts of the circle facing the stage, there were a mix of professors, students, and off-duty Campus Security. In the seats left to of the lecterns, a group of older, more important faculty members sat just beyond Krieger. In the seats to the right, closest to the empty lectern I noticed what looked to be most of the AMS and Shadowhaven faculty handcuffed and held at gunpoint by Professor Johnathan Blunt, the leader of AMS, and six CampSec guards with patrol uniforms and either SPAS-12 shotguns or P90 submachineguns. I also noticed that there were two guards by the only doors. They were both armed with black SCAR-L assault rifles. Besides them was what appeared to be a weapons rack.
On my way down, I passed Eliza. She gave me a thumbs-up sign and smiled, but she seemed nervous. She wasn’t the only one. Everyone seemed on edge. Especially the small group of AMS/Shadowhaven students who had entered NIU the year after me who were sitting in the back.
“Naturally,” Krieger said, responding to the President. “You have quite the way of convincing people, at least initially, Mr. Howell. Quite something, really.”
As I got closer, I noticed something else. The Rogue faculty seemed somewhat split. Fifty percent seemed to be on the chairs facing the imprisoned AMS/Shadowhaven faculty, one percent was mixed in, along with some other faculty and staff who obviously weren’t from any of the three groups. Suddenly, it hit me. The President was initiating a purge of the AMS and Shadowhaven faculty. After all, they were the biggest physical threat apart from Campus Security. Despite their tiny size, the combined firepower of Shadowhaven and AMS could potentially topple Campus Security. The only other school that could even hope to match their combat experience were the Rogues. As for the other schools, well, I actually had a chance to fight some of the Business majors in Hell Semester. If I wanted someone to take out AMS/Shadowhaven, I would sooner give guns to the least physically active students from the Turing Computer Science School.
When I finally got to the lectern, I saw Professor Antionette and Professor Rosalia Zemylachka, the leader of Shadowhaven, kneeling on the ground. Behind each, a CampSec guard stood, aiming their service pistols at their heads. Professor Antionette was nervous. Professor Zemylachka looked impassive, despite having a cut lip, forehead, and multiple bruises on her face.
“So,” the President said as I got to the lectern, “shall we begin?”
“Certainly,” I said.
“First off,” the President said, “could you state your name for the record and how you know the defendant?”
“My name is Nathan Jacobs,” I said. “I’m a student at the Academy of Military Science and I met Professor Karl Krieger at Hell Semester as my section’s sergeant. After completing that, he became my advisor.”
The President nodded. “I notice,” he said, “that you haven’t visited him as often as required. Is there a reason for this?”
“May I answer this?” Krieger asked.
“No,” the President said. “For obvious reasons.”
“He hasn’t told you everything,” Krieger said. “In fact, our lad hasn’t told you the juiciest parts. For instance, what did he tell you about me infiltrating Campus Security?”
“He…” the President began, arrogant as usual. Then his face changed to one of utter horror. “Fuck m-”
Before he could finish, Gupta and Mendez fired in unison. Well, not exactly in unison. Gupta’s shot from her Five-seveN passed cleanly through the President’s skull, with only a small spray of blood, bone and gray matter. The velocity of the round was such that the President’s head didn’t even move. Barely a millisecond passed when the first of the .45 ACP slugs from Mendez’s FNX-45 Tactical slammed into the President’s head. It exited from between the President’s eyes, causing to his face to explode like a watermelon struck with a hammer.
I didn’t see the second round. I had ducked behind the podium as soon as I saw the President’s head burst open. I looked to where Krieger was. He was also hiding behind his podium and laughing. Behind him the supposedly “loyal” faculty was busy killing each other. Apparently, some of the Rogue professors had smuggled in garrotes and ceramic blades and seemed to be massacring the others in a methodical manner.
From the section the captive faculty members were being kept, I could hear gunfire. Turning around, I expected to see them being massacred by CampSec and Professor Blunt. Instead, it seemed most of the CampSec officers and Professor Blunt were turning traitor. What I assumed to be the loyal guards had been almost immediately gunned down and the ones who’d thrown in with Krieger were now split between freeing the captives and moving towards the audience. The guards for Professors Zemylachka and Antionette were on the ground. The ones guarding Zemylachka had bled out, one guarding of the ones guarding Professor Antionette was catatonic, and the final one was desperately trying to stop Zemylachka from stabbing him.
Behind me, most of the audience was either panicking or getting as low as possible. I did notice, however, that some of the AMS and Shadowhaven students I had seen earlier were heading towards the entrance. One of the guards had slung her SCAR-L over her shoulder and was opening a weapons case. Meanwhile, her partner had executed two CampSec officers in patrol uniforms coming to investigate the sounds with one shot each.
After the initial purge had died down, the members of the coup began to free the prisoners and control the audience. Calm shouts of “Stay in your seats and put your hands over your heads!” began to echo throughout the chamber. From outside the room, I could hear gunshots. Whatever the plan for the coup was, it was just getting started.
Professor Blunt walked over to Krieger, Gupta and Mendez jumping off the stage to join them. After Blunt unlocked Krieger’s cuffs, he handed Krieger a custom silver or chrome-plated 1911. I recognized it from Hell Semester, specifically when Krieger had pointed it in my face when I was goofing off during practice for disarming people. “Here, you crazy bastard,” Blunt said. “Figured you’d want this.”
“Yeah,” Krieger said, “Might be bit helpful.” He grinned and turned to Mendez and Gupta. “Still, did you see the look on Anthony’s face? Been dying to wipe that smug grin off since the nineties?”
“Must have been something,” a voice from the stage said. We turned around to see the President shakily standing up. “Shame I didn’t have a mirror.”
In response, Professor Blunt, Mendez, and Gupta unloaded their weapons into him. After the President collapsed, I thought I heard him weakly gasp, “Not… gonna work, guys.”
Krieger, suddenly very calm, said, “Well, I guess we’ll have to go with plan B.”
Professor Zemylachka, who had finished butchering the remaining guard and stealthily approached us, said, “I think I have a few ideas.” I turned to look at her blood-spattered face. She seemed disturbingly eager.