The battle was over. Two of the Empire’s airships remained, and both of them surrendered when they were under the gun. However, for as much as this was a victory, it was a victory that cost them dearly. Over 300 of their soldiers were dead, with countless others wounded. The civilian population was decimated, something that Wolf had not wanted to happen. 40% of the civilians in the city were dead or wounded. It was a bitter thing. The Upper Tier was almost completely laid to waste. The defenses that it once had were gone. There was absolutely NO way to defend the city. This attack had been a success, in a lot of ways, but an utter failure in others. Now, the trump-card she had meant to have was gone. Without Princess Amelia to hold hostage, she would never be able to hold the Empire’s forces back. She sat on the veranda of the Viceroy’s chambers, looking out at the ruined city. Fires still burning, people hating the Empire and Winter’s Shadow. It was a bad day.
She looked over the data they got about Amelia. That was when it hit here. They don’t know she’s missing! If I had taken her hostage, it’s only natural that I don’t reveal her location. It’s still a card I can play. Right now, it’s the only one I have. Damn it all…
The White Palace was an absolute chaos. Word of the attack on Ottawa had reached them and the Empress was now in pieces. Her sanity was starting to buckle, and her children were more than a little scared. It was looking like even Adam wouldn’t be able to stop this. The man who was their best tactician, and he was not making any ground. They were terrified.
“Amelia, where is Amelia!” the Empress shouted, drifting down the halls. Her attendants had no idea what to say in response. It was then that Juliet came up.
“She’s just fine, mother. She’s on vacation, you remember? Adam took her to our winter house. With everything that’s happened, it will do her some good.” It made the girl feel terrible to lie, but their mother was one more piece of bad news away from cracking completely.
That was when they heard the sound of a broadcast. Before she could stop her, the Empress went running over. Several servants were watching it on the TV.
“Attention, Empire of America! I am the Wolf, and I have retaken the capital of Canada from you! Your days of haunting this nation are over! Princess Amelia Beckett is my prisoner! If you attempt to retake the city, I will send pieces of her back to the White Palace, so you know that she has suffered. A quick and painless death is not in the cards for our dear American Princess today.” She pulled a white blade from her side, holding it up to her face as a knight of old. “Do not put my resolve to the test! We shall begin negotiations on the return of this nation to its rightful owners immediately. If you do not comply, I wonder what the Empress would think of seeing Amelia’s fingers get sent to her. You have one day to comply. Glory to Canada!” The video cut out.
The Empress’ sanity dissolved in that moment. She fell to the floor, screaming in hysterical agony. The screams echoed through the White Palace. Elizabeth could hear them, crying in her room. Thomas heard, standing on the veranda, looking out at the city. Audra was also crying in one of their private stairwells, where she liked to spend time. Juliet’s face was as stone, looking at the frozen image of Wolf. Something didn’t sit right about this. Not at all. Why wasn’t Amelia in the frame with her?
On the bridge of the Hyperion, Adam and Mary were seeing the broadcast. Both of them got stone-faced.
Adam stood up. “Set course for the capital. We’re only taking the Hyperion. When we get close enough, broadcast a message that we are not coming with hostile intent.”
The crew was stunned. So was Mary.
“Brother! We can’t give in to terrorists! If we give them back their country…!”
He smiled at her. “I don’t mean to give them anything. I finally have a weapon I can use against Wolf, and now is the time. Now is the only time. The only time we will ever have.” Their ship got moving, headed toward a confrontation that was years in the making.
As she walked offstage, Deathstroke met her.
“We’re taking a big risk here, ma’am! We’re bluffing, and we don’t know if it will work or not.”
She wished she could rub her temples. “What choice do we have? According to the data here, the Empire doesn’t know that the Princess went missing. Anyone who could have told them is dead. This is the best plan I’ve got. If you have a better one, I’m all ears.”
The man nodded. “I see your point. I don’t have a better one.”
She sighed, turning around. “I’m sorry, Francois. I didn’t mean to come off as unappreciative. It’s just…got a lot on my mind right now.”
The man nodded, smiling. “I’ve been with you since the very beginning. Not gonna ditch you now!”
Wolf nodded back. “I’ll hold you to that. Have Captain Matthias be ready. I get the feeling that the Empire’s response will come soon.”
Deathstroke saluted. “Yes ma’am!”
The Hyperion arrived just as the sun was setting. It was a sight to behold. Alerts started all over the city. Winter’s Shadow brought their airships to bear.
Wolf got to the bridge. “Report!”
Matthias turned to her. “Ma’am they are broadcasting a signal. They say that they are here for negotiations.”
She looked at the incoming airship that stopped just outside weapon’s range. Adam came here himself. I don’t like this. “Assemble all commanders and my Knights in the debriefing room. Link in anyone who can’t be here in person. They came under a banner of truce, so we shall honor that.”
Matthias saluted. “Yes ma’am!”
Almost everyone was gathered inside of the debriefing room. The only one who wasn’t there was Emily. Last thing they heard, she was headed out into the woods, following someone. She had been gone for the better part of two days. It couldn’t be helped. Wolf sat at the head of the table, curious to see where this went.
“Ma’am, we’ve got a link with the Hyperion. Standing by.”
“Patch him through, Oracle.”
The screen showed a large image of Prince Adam, with Princess Mary standing close by. They were both well-dressed, looking determined. Something isn’t right here! Wolf was getting nervous. She covered it well.
“Prince Adam and Princess Mary of the Imperial family. It is an honor! I assume that you have come to hold negotiations, as requested.”
Adam stepped forward. “We have not! We have come to disclose some information that the members of your organization are being deliberately kept in the dark about.”
Beneath her mask, her eyes went wide. It couldn’t be! “Oh, and what information is that?”
The screen changed, and an image loaded. “The information that your leader, the Wolf, is none other than Eleanor Ann Fox, daughter of the Fox family, along with illegitimate heir to the Imperial throne!”
Deathstroke stood up. “Bullshit! What proof do you have?!”
The image showed the face of Quinn, at the first battle. Gabby’s eyes went wide. This wasn’t good.
“This image was captured at the first battle where the Wolf made her appearance. She lead the insurgents there in a victory against the Empire’s forces.” The video showed her putting on a mask. It was the Wolf’s mask.
So, it’s like that. She pressed the buttons that lifted up the back of the mask, taking it off. Everyone looked at her in shock. “Is that, Adam? You have an image of my face! What else do you have to offer?” She knew where he had gotten this information. But the question was – how had she gotten it to him?
Most of the group had the same thought, She’s just a kid!
Another image came up. “You went to the Royal Academy of the Empire of America, Area 7. You were registered as an Honorary American, but the truth was that you had worked your way there from a wealthy family here in Area 7. A diligent reporter tracked your movements back.” Images came up of documents, camera footage and transit records. That was no doubt. Morrison had given this to him. “All the way back to the Empire, which is where you originated. When your family died, you disappeared. The papers listed you as a casualty, but the truth was far more insidious!” Records of the fire came up. “You killed your own family and then escaped!” He looked to the rest of the group. “Your leader is a monster who has worn a mask in order to hide her identity. She doesn’t care who lives and who dies! You all have been pawns in a game of revenge that was drawn out by a woman who clearly is good at covering her age! You all are at a point where you have a choice to make – do you keep following this imposter and let it lead you to your own destruction, or will you surrender. You all have performed admirably. I would personally bring you into our military and no legal charges would follow.” He looked to the Knights. “Your Knights would all be Knights of the Crown! You could have wonderful lives ahead of you!”
Inferno stood up. “Bullshit! My comrades and I were tortured by your people! Years and years of hell, just to make us your attack-dogs! I’ll see you in Hell before I see you in an Imperial uniform again!” His statement was met by agreement from the others.
Adam’s look got colder. “So, you will follow that Imperial, but not me?”
“She got us out!” Anarky replied coldly. “She rescued everyone from your nightmare! If you think that we’re just going to go running back to that, you’re insane!”
The Prince’s face got darker. I’m dealing with forces unknown with these Specials. Father never let us know what happened with them. Something to look into, when I get back to the homeland.
He turned and faced the commanders. “And what about all of you? Will you follow an heir to the Imperial throne? For all you know, she is trying to seize it for herself! She is using your for her own ends, and I wouldn’t count on her being loyal to you once it is done. After all, she killed the reporter who gave this to me, and she had been an ally to you. How long do you think you’ll last? Think on it.” The link cut off. Everyone turned to face her.
“Is what he said true,” Black Mask began. “Are you this person he says you are?”
The same bored look she once wore at the Academy came back. “I am. I am the last heir to the Fox family. I am also the daughter of Emperor Beckett. One of the best-kept secrets of the Empire. An illegitimate child. Him and my mother had a very long-standing affair. How pedestrian.”
Everyone seemed a bit uneasy.
“But everything in my life changed when I was taken to a place. It was High Orbital Station One. There, I saw things that will haunt my mind forever. I saw a young child being tortured by the Empire. Tortured in ways you cannot begin to imagine.” She looked back at her Knights. “The technology that made all of you came from it. They called it, Subject Zero.”
Everyone got less sure of their suspicion.
“My father let them use me in their experiments. I got to know Subject Zero well.” A lie that they would never be able to prove false. “When it tried to escape, I was subjected to its power. It’s the reason I age so slowly. I’m almost 40 years old. We escaped in a shuttle as the Station was destroyed. From that day on, I knew that I had to stop the Empire. I had to bring them down! My father was a monster. Him and his got what they deserved. I came here, because there was no way that I could lead a resistance inside of the Empire.”
“So why hide your face?” Azrael shot back. “Why not tell us the truth.”
She gave him a cold look. “Tell me, would you have listened? If I told you what I did now, back then, before you knew what the Empire was capable of, would ANY of you have listened to me?”
They all looked down. They couldn’t deny, it sounded crazy. Nova Particles, mutated soldiers and crazy experiments. She was right. They wouldn’t have listened.
“I didn’t think so. I hid my face for my own protection. I had planned to reveal who I was, in due time. When I had earned your trust by giving you victory. However, it seems that Lady Luck has moved that plan up a bit.” She undid the ties in her hair, letting it fall.
It was then that Bane looked over at her. “You say that you want to get revenge. Do you wish to destroy the Empire?”
“I do,” she replied nonchalantly. “I will bring them to their knees, for Subject Zero, and for everyone who has suffered from the hands of them. From…my real father.” She stood up, heading for the door. “I will leave with this – we are entering the final stage of my overall plan to bring the Empire down. I am going. I will call on you again, in a way that you don’t expect, I assure you. When you do, that is when you will have to make up your minds about whether you stand with me or against me. But know that my plan is to destroy the Empire. Now, you must decide for yourselves what you will do next.” She started toward the door. “Oh, and if you don’t want to be destroyed, I suggest you keep up the illusion that you have Princess Amelia as your captive. But it’s your funeral if you don’t. Until then, comrades.” She grabbed her mask, securing it back on.
The group sat there, none of them speaking.
She reached the WASP, where Oracle was waiting for her.
“It smart to keep lying to them, boss?”
She grunted, motioning for him to get in with her. “They barely believe that I’m Eleanor Fox. You honestly believe that they would buy that I am Subject Zero?”
The hatch shut and the two took their places. Oracle was piloting. “I suppose not. You think they’ll stay with you?” He keyed up the system, bringing it online.
“The Knights will, at the very least. As for the rest, I’m unsure. We’ll see in due time. Head for the Empire. I’ll give you coordinates when we get closer.”
“You got it, boss.”
Far away, Amelia was looking through the video footage of the occupied city. She saw him! Doppelganger! He was with the Wolf, headed to her craft. Since she didn’t know that Oracle wasn’t him, she was none the wiser. I’ve found you! I’ll find you again, just you wait!
In the debriefing room, no one spoke. No one knew what to say. They all just sat there. Finally, Inferno got up.
“You all can do what you want. I don’t care what her name is or who was she was! The Wolf is still my commander. My loyalty is deeper than a name or a birth. If it isn’t the same for you, then you all are nothing but cowards. Good luck, when the Empire comes back.” He got up and walked out. The rest of the Knights except Deathstroke, Deadshot, Ghost and Copperhead followed.
Captain Matthias also stood up. “My contract is with Wolf. She is the leader of this army and has given us victory. I’m with the Knights. My loyalty is deeper than that. I will be staying until called, but if the Empire attacks, those who choose to stay are on your own.” He walked out as well.
Brainiac stood up. “My contract is with Matsumoto Industries. They told me to work with her, so that is what I am going to do. Do as you will.” As she left, Enigma got up as well.
“She’s clearly the brains of this outfit, so you all are on your own.” He had a smile on his face. He didn’t care if she was an Imperial. She was giving him a chance to make better weapons. That was all that mattered.
The silence persisted. Deathstroke stood up, saying nothing. He just walked after the rest.
Deadshot looked up. “This group was started by her. Before her, we were nothing! She’s been straight-up with us so far, and I don’t betray I commanding officer.”
“She lied to us!” Riddler shouted, unnerving everyone.
“About what?!” Ghost retorted. “At what point did we ask, ‘hey, are you a child of the Emperor?’ By my reckoning, she was as honest as she felt she needed to be. We all already knew she was from the Empire. Now we know where. I’m sticking with my commander. It’s what I know.” He left as well. Deadshot followed.
Copperhead stood up. “You know what, fuck it! I’m not sticking with you lot, and I’m not going to the Empire. I’m the last of my people. All the rest of my unit is dead. I did what I set out to do. Now, I’m going home. Good luck, guys. Something tells me, you’re going to need it.” She left with a slow and sad walk. There were tears forming in her eyes.
Now it was just the commanders of the forces. They looked at each other.
Bane shook his head, getting up. “Way I see it, not one of you could measure up to Wolf. Not one. Can any of you get our country back?” No one responded. “Well then, I know who I follow.” He sauntered out of the room.
Two-Face started to follow. “The fact that you all are so indecisive says something. It says that you don’t believe in her. I’m ashamed to have known you.”
Now it was just Catwoman, Azrael and Black Mask.
“I’m out, guys,” Catwoman finally said. “I’m with Aveline. I’m not going to either side. I’m going home. Since you two are so hesitant to leave, you might as well go to the Empire. You are good commanders, and Prince Adam will be needing some of those. I can feel it.” She left the room as well, also crying.
The last two looked at each other and they knew what to do. It was time to leave.
Emily got back just in time to hear Two-Face and Bane talking.
“So she’s the daughter of the Emperor. Man, how nuts!”
“No wonder Wolf knew how those people work! She’s been hip-deep in it most of her life.”
Her eyes went wide. “What are you talking about?!” she demanded.
The two looked rather sad. “Emily, there’s something you should know.”
The sun was setting on the White Palace. The Empress had been sedated and was being looked after. Just then, there was a procession of royal vehicles approaching. Everyone ran out to greet it, including the children. From one of the cars, emerged someone they had not seen in a long time. It was the Emperor. What’s more, he looked different. It was like 40 years of his life was erased! The man was younger, much younger. What’s more, he had iris’ that were glowing green.
Until next time, a quote,
“Smee, I’ve just had a sublime vision. All the jagged parts of my life have come together to form a complete and mystical whole. An epiphany. My life is over.” -Captain Hook, Hook