Far away from the battles in Area 7, there was the White Palace. The former White House was destroyed when the old democracy fell. A symbol of the failure of the old government. Corrupt, weak and powerless in the face of disaster after disaster. When there was the Flu Outbreak of 2067, the world was shaken to its core. The old government was incapable of helping, with America now in midst of another Great Depression. Millions of deaths, the country crumbled. The EU and the newly-formed AU were able to weather it with strength. The American economy was already weak, so they were working to centralize their economic power. Much to America’s chagrin. Following World War III, the government was now all but defunct. That is when the Empire arose.
Centered around the military might of several corporations, they moved in quickly and toppled the old government. With the people drowning in poverty and disease, this was seen by the public as a step forward. The belief that a democratic government was the answer was dead. Literally. After stepping in, the Aristocracy was formed. It was also centered around several powerful corporations, which then became several powerful families. The major factions now were – banking, manufacturing, political and the military. The last faction, above all others, was the most powerful. The Emperor, William Marshall Beckett, 9th Emperor of America, was a soldier. He lead the war into Area 3, formerly known as Cuba. Some of the most brutal fighting of the war, he was photographed standing in the capital building, with the leader at that point bowing to him. It was an amazing picture that stood in the palace gallery of the great victories of the Empire.
While being a soldier, the current Emperor was also an ambitious man. He wanted to leave a legacy that would span the entire world. He wanted to see the Empire conquer the EU and AU. Already, they were taking nation after nation in Africa. The Africans put up surprising resistance. In fact, their military was more organized than most of the countries in South America. This was because of development in manufacturing that made them grow actual nations. The borders of the countries were re-written, with the people actually having a voice. The tribal wars of old were long-gone. The African Unified Nation, as it was called, stood tall, even to the EU. Impressive. However, the Empire had new weapons that nobody had a good defense against. This was due to another development in their nation – the Nova Particle. An image in the gallery right now was of their latest model airships over the skies of former Kenya, raining down hellfire onto their military. These airships changed the name of warfare forever, along with…other things.
The Emperor had seven children. The oldest was Adam, named that because he was the first. Adam was every bit the soldier his father was. Born of a very sickly mother, he was very dedicated to the youngest of his children, Juliet. She was never really exposed to the outside world, because she was born with a damaged immune system. She pretty much lived in the vast library that they had at the palace. A library that he kept well-stocked with every kind of literature he could find, so that his sister was never truly alone. Though he went to visit her as often as he could. After Adam, there was Mary. She was a fighter. While Adam was a tactician, she was in love with the application of warfare. She knew every weapon, every vehicle. The new armor suits were becoming an obsession of hers. She wanted to design her own, to make it into the perfect killing machine. She didn’t like fighting at range. She believed that a soldier must get close to their enemy. Otherwise, there was no honor.
Then there was Thomas, a very academic child. He was a servant of the people, much to the chagrin of his father. He worked to make things better, for both the Aristocracy and the people, so the aristocrats didn’t fight back against him to an excessive amount. However, in addition to being a servant of the people, he was also a brilliant mathematician. He was directly involved in several banking families, with them always approving his ideas. It was a strategy which was keeping their nation in very good standing with the other two powers. Expanding their Empire had done wonders for him there.
Elizabeth was something of a mystic. She was born with a talent for getting to the bottom of people and their needs. Whenever negotiations with another nations were being done, she was usually the one leading them. The Emperor hated having to deal with people, anyway. Many noticed that he seemed quite distant to the fate of the Empire, of late. Then there was Amelia. Amelia didn’t like fighting, of any kind. She was a peace-maker. She got along very well with Elizabeth, which made sense since they were twins.
Ahead of Juliet, there was Audra. She was a fiery and passionate problem-child for the royal family. Having a bad habit of sleeping with aristocrats (without a word of it getting to the public), getting into drunken fights at very reputable places and having some videos of her strip-dancing at another aristocrat’s birthday party, she was definitely the least-favorite of the group. Though Juliet was still extremely loyal to her, because she was the one who spent the most time with her. But the girl was no fool. She was very much in-the-know about what was happening in the Empire, outside of normal channels. It was another thing that her siblings hated.
There were rumors about there being another child. A child who was born outside of the marriage to the Empress. No one had any evidence, of course, but it was still persistent, even to this day. The girl’s name was Eleanor, and she was the daughter of another noble family. Word was that she was the child of an affair between the Emperor and the mother. However, those rumors died with the family’s death, from circumstances unknown.
The Empress was a very sickly woman as well. She fawned over Juliet with everything she had. The library, the extensive art galleries, the gardens that were fastidiously maintained – it was all a project that she worked on to get the Palace more to the girl’s liking. While the Empress was not a very outspoken women, she was no doormat. She was known for making herself heard, and she had a great deal of power in the Empire. All of the children she had with the Emperor were delivered via C-Section, since her body couldn’t survive a natural birth. It was a very odd family dynamic, but she was a dutiful mother.
A gathering of the family was called by her, as the Emperor was away. Adam came in in his finest military outfit, having been declared victorious down in Area 4. He was eager to leave there and head to Africa, to take the mantle of the battle there. The jungle regions were some of the heaviest fighting in the expansion thus far. Even worse than Area 7, which he was desperately hoping to not have to go to. Another brush-fire revolution was not to his liking. He wanted a real war. He had been traveling with Mary, who also wore fine military garb. Her blood-red hair was tied back, short enough to not be an issue to her in battle. She was of the same mindset.
Thomas was just glad to see his brother and sister again. As was Elizabeth. Juliet even graced the family by coming to dinner. She normally ate in the library, where she spent a good 70% of her time. Her red hair was almost shimmering in a very plain, yet regal summer dress she had on. Audra came to dinner in some of the most grungy clothes that she had. This was not an accident.
“Audra, really, must you wear that?” their mother asked.
Juliet giggled. “I think she wears it well. She is a child of the outside, after all.”
The girl put her arm around her little sister. “See, she gets it!” She picked the girl up, hugging her and spinning her around.
“Really, Audra, must you be so rough with her?!” Adam asked, sounding annoyed.
Juliet gave him an indignant look. “I’m not a porcelain egg, brother! I won’t crack the moment someone touches me!”
The Empress came over, smiling gently at them both. “Now-now, no fighting when we are gathered for dinner. Juliet is getting much stronger, I think. But it is good that you have a big-brother who is worried about you, wouldn’t you say?”
The girl groaned, “o-kay.”
“Good, now, let’s sit down for dinner, shall we?”
“Hell yeah!” Audra exclaimed, putting her arm around her little sister’s shoulder. “Let’s see what they’re fixin’!”
The meal was every bit the extravagant selection it always was. The first course was a light fruit salad made by fresh fruit from the Palace gardens’. The main course was poached fish with a creamy white-sauce vegetable dish on the side.
Thomas looked to his mother as he ate. “So, I’m safe in assuming that our father will not be joining us for dinner.”
The Empress looked a little ashamed. “Yes, he is busy with some of his adviser’s.”
Adam grunted. “Talking about what? He has been with his ‘adviser’s’ for months. People are barely seeing him around the Palace anymore. It’s like the man doesn’t live here anymore! What is he so wrapped up in?”
Mary rolled her eyes. “Don’t even bother asking. He doesn’t talk about his work. Ever. I guess that it is so important that not even the family should know.”
Elizabeth looked very cross. “That is our father you are talking about! I’d appreciate it if you would treat him with a little more respect!”
Juliet looked up from her dinner, speaking softly, “I must agree with Adam on this, sister. While Father is deserving of our respect, his absence from the matters of the Empire of late is somewhat concerning. We are already at war with a nation, our brother has settled a war with a nation we already conquered and now there is this issue with the group in Area 7, and their leader, Wolf. I think it is not asking too much for our father to be involved in what happens to his nation.”
“Here-here!” Mary agreed, nodding to her sister.
Elizabeth sat back. “Fine.”
“Speaking of her, this Wolf, what do we know about her?” Thomas asked.
Adam leaned back. “Not nearly as much as I would like. She came out of nowhere and now has done all-but declared war on the Empire.”
Mary groaned, “please! She’s just another rebel who will be swept away like all the others! Why not sic the Specials on her? I mean, they won the war there already, so why can’t they do it again!?”
Juliet looked up. “I thought that we already had one of them in their own ranks? A spy who was working with us?”
Thomas shook his head. “From what Amelia has told us, the occupational military has concluded that he was found out and killed.”
“How is Amelia?” Audra asked. The two were very close.
“Shaken, but safe. She apologizes for not being able to join us. Things being what they are, we couldn’t guarantee her safety in getting her home,” Thomas replied.
The Empress seemed distraught by this. “Oh dear, I hope that she will be alright.”
Adam rubbed her shoulder, smiling. “Don’t worry, mother. She has two of the Knights of the Crown guarding her. She couldn’t be in better hands.”
The last course was served in the gardens, on a patio overlooking the ocean. Adam tried to get Juliet to bundle up, but she just grabbed a blanket and sat by Audra, snuggling up to her. Elizabeth got on the other side and the three mused about their lives. There was a Knight of the Crown who had become very enamored with Juliet, but he was too shy to voice his interest. He was not that far in age from her, only 16. It was cute, to say the least. Dessert was apple pie, baked in an old style where the apples were sliced thin and layered on top of each other. It was served warm, with some whipped cream and a few pieces of fresh fruit on the side. It was nice to be able to share a moment, as a family, not burdened by the world that they lived in. For those few moments, they were just able to watch the sun set, enjoying each other’s company.
Far away, at a fortified government building in Ottawa, Amelia was watching the chaos. It was madness. The city were starting to fall apart. Open war looked inevitable. This thought scared her to no end. She was scared to be here, just wanting to go home.
It was all so perfect! I had the perfect plan! I would have ended the fighting, so no one else had to get hurt!
As she was lost in her thoughts, she saw one of the Specials. It was a very angry-looking man, with fire coming from his hands. He rained it down, laughing as he did it. The sound was too horrible.
A young woman grabbed her, pulling her away from the window. She shut the window and turned to Amelia.
“You shouldn’t watch that, m’lady. It won’t do any good to subject yourself to what they do to keep the peace.”
In a flash, she turned to her. “Keep the peace?! They are killing innocent people! There isn’t peace out there! There is violence and death, and we are the arbiters of it! It’s my fault for not acting quickly. The coronation ceremony for my appointment to Viceroy is tomorrow, and the people are already fighting against me.
“Then perhaps that is a new way to get your message to the people, m’lady!” a voice behind her said. It was an older man, soft-spoken and wise. “Tell the people that you will give them some of what they want. Enough to make it so that they don’t know if fighting is the right idea anymore. They are calling for their sovereignty back, so let’s give them some. It will be a contained space, sure, but it can still be something. Enough to get them to stop fighting and think. Enough time to give us a chance to show them that they don’t have to live this way anymore.”
Amelia smiled at him. “Thank you, Gerard. It might be our only chance. The only chance to stop this nation from being destroyed.”
Far away, inside of the brutalized base of the Specials, Emily stood. Her hands were fists, clenched with rage.
I am going to tear her apart! I am going to find her, and tear her to pieces! I will rip that bitch in half! The Wolf will die, by my hands!
In the side of a mountain, in Maine, there was a massive facility. It was built into the structure of that mountain, making it nigh-impenetrable from attack. In a small office of that place, the Emperor stood. His black hair and green eyes were almost shimmering with the display screen in the room showing him information. A man in a lab coat was standing nearby.
“Your Highness, as you can see here, we just don’t have the capability to make The Project work. If only we still had Subject Zero, but it’s gone! All the data that we have was tied up in that one subject, and now we have no idea where it is.”
The Emperor slammed his fist into the wall. “God-fucking-dammit! I want my rule to last forever! I mean to have control of this Empire until the end of time! Now, I am stopped cold.” The man looked at himself in the mirror. His age was beginning to show, in a very big way. “I’m getting old, professor. Very old. I don’t have many years left. If we don’t fix this, soon, then everything I have done is all for nothing!”
The other man nodded, sitting down. “We are showing some progress in other areas. The Project isn’t a total loss. While Subject Zero’s disappearance has hindered our efforts, we are still in this, Your Highness. Don’t give up just yet.”
Until next time, a quote,
“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” -Eames, Inception