Within days, so many things happened. The Imperial Hall, a monument to the glory of the Empire was completely destroyed. They blasted it right at the foundations, bringing an end to almost 300 years of their history. All Imperial historical documents were destroyed, with the Empress also bringing down the statues of previous Emperors and Empresses. To the people, this was a rallying-cry for their rise from the ghettos. Which was connected to another part of the Empire’s deconstruction.
The Red Guard had assembled in the Palace. The Empress made a live broadcast of their being knighted and brought into her service. They all were dressed in vivid red uniforms, which had the regal look and tone. They weren’t all old people, either. The Fox family had kept this order for as long as it existed. Those who were a part of it were born into this force. Children were born and raised to be soldiers, serving their House. Even though the Fox family was gone, they had remained loyal to that charge, and newer generations were glad to serve. Sebastian was named as their leader, to which he took pride. With Audra next to him, on one knee, beaming with pride, she was fitting right in. Turns out that her aggressive nature made for a good soldier. She also had the tactical mind of her family. It had just never had a chance to grow before now. As they were made official underneath Empress Eleanor, their first task was to go and begin the deconstruction of the Aristocracy.
The first house to fall was one of the banking houses. They weren’t going down without a fight. However, instead of needlessly risking the lives of the Red Guard, Sebastian requested that their Knights be put into play. A smart move. With their Armor, and their unique talents, the fear it induced was palpable. Inferno and Shockwave were loving it. Their orders were only to kill those who violently resisted. But, as it turns out, guards of Aristocrats, who had never had to fight a real battle are quick to throw down their weapons when a man gets onto the highest point of a building and throws out a stream of fire above them. Or a woman who sends bolts of electricity around. The terror that it created was a powerful weapon. The heads of the family were screaming at their security forces to fight, but they weren’t going to die for these people. A plan was made to induct them into the regular military, and not have them suffer with the rest. It was a good strategy, since most of them were those from the ghettos, just trying to make a living.
However, there were the families with forces like the Red Guard. For that, a more direct approach was needed. It was impressive, how well they held the line. However, Sebastian was a very good leader. He had Full-Crank, Anarky and Sinestro backing his forces as they made their push. To call it a massacre would be giving faint praise. The Red Guard kept their distance, providing firing support while the Knights went to work. Finally, Sinestro was getting to cut loose. She blasted right through the front gate, with Anarky following behind. His kinetic blades were beautiful as they blocked enemy fire. Sinestro moved in, testing out a new talent. It was one she learned about from files in Lab 451. It seems, the energy fields she utilized could be condensed and fired. When they hit their target, they would explode with overwhelming force. Normally, this would be dangerous for her, but with her Armor, she could take damage focus her energy infinitely better. Watching explosion after explosion, all with beautiful blue sparkles being left behind in the aftermath, it was something to see. The battle at that House was over almost before it began.
Back at the Palace, Thomas and Juliet were doing exactly what they were tasked to do. And they were loving it. For the first time in years, the two of them were able to get what they wanted done. Talks with the AU went well. When the destruction of the old Emperor’s symbols went out to the world, they immediately could tell that this new Empress wasn’t like the last. The destruction of the Aristocracy was helping too. Talks were opened with all of the Areas in the Empire. A plan was offered for those who wished to secede from the Empire. They could regain their sovereignty, while having the Empire as a partner to help in their nation’s reconstruction. Since it wasn’t being done behind the barrel of a gun, the fallen governments of several nations were eager to get on-board. Canada regained their sovereignty, with their government officially recognizing them for their efforts. The Wolf, the symbol of their nation’s rise to power, was granted an honorary title within their nation. Brazil also seceded, with negotiations being in good faith. So did most of the South American countries. Mexico did not. They were more than happy to be with the Empire, and rules were adjusted so that they were no longer under the oppressive rules that they had been before. Plans were made for a rise in a middle class in all of the Areas, as well as back home. The entire African Federation of Nations seceded. These negotiations were done in incredibly good faith. The leaders there were more than happy to come to the White Palace and sit down with the son of the former Emperor, who they knew was a fair and honest man, even with his lacking age. So much change, in just a few days.
Back home, the ghettos were overjoyed. Universal health care was passed, along with huge investments in infrastructure and production. Jobs were already being talked about. The people were out in the streets, cheering the Empress’ name. However, there was a new group in the ghettos who were not happy. The fallen Aristocrats found no help once they lost their place in the shining cities that were now a great deal emptier than they had been before. Though there were no longer restrictions of access, the poor hated that place still. Plans were drafted to demolish them, as a symbol of the old Empire. The Empire looked better and better to the world. However, there was one section that was not getting in on the fun.
In Europe, there was a staunch opposition to the new Empress and to her changes. They said that they would no accept her rise to the throne. Prince Adam was the one they followed, and they would follow him to the grave. Of course, he was not doing well. Since his mother had given the title and power to Eleanor, there was nothing he could do, diplomatically. The territories in the Americas were in love with her. The AFN was in love with her. Even the AU was in love with her. The only way he could see regaining his place on the throne was to bring them down in a military coup. However, that had its own problems. For one – it was the Wolf they were fighting. Everyone knew it. She had already shown her talent on the battlefield. What’s more, the three fleets still in that part of the Empire were now hers to command. She also had Winter’s Shadow, who had gone to her very quickly. The AU, AFN, Canadian government and Brazilian government were also giving her their support. Her military strength was overwhelming. Adam had five fleets in Europe. There were the three that he already had there, along with elements from other fleets who wouldn’t accept Eleanor as their Empress, so came here. He formed them into two more fleets. With the AU holding the line in Russia, he had no in there. This was looking bad.
Thomas was sitting at his desk, his mind fast at work. So much had been done, and with the Aristocracy almost completely destroyed, their economy was looking better. Turns out, so much of what they said they did was lies. Now, he was delegating out the worthless tasks and conglomerating the central ones. Efficiency was the goal, and he got them that. There was a knock at the door.
The door opened and Empress Eleanor walked in.
“Empress, I was unaware it was you! Please, forgive my informality.”
She chuckled, shrugging. “No worries. Just checking in. So, how are we doing?”
He smirked at her. “You made the right choice by giving me and Juliet control of the country’s finances. We’ve made this nation a well-oiled machine!” He sat back down, leaning back. “And thanks for giving an ear to my requests on domestic issues. We’re already seeing the population in good spirits. Your approval ratings are higher than ever! It’s a good day, Your Majesty!”
She sat down in a chair across from him. “It would be foolish on my part not to give an ear to wise council. Your intelligence was wasted under Emperor William. I’m glad that I could finally let you spread your wings.”
The man laughed. “An apt metaphor. I know that Juliet is grateful as well. Everyone here thought she was a piece of glass, waiting to be broken. You’ve treated her like she is a citizen, worthy of your trust. I thank you. I don’t think she’s as sickly as she used to be. We’ll know when this is over.” Just then, there was a link coming in.
Eleanor stood up. “I’ll let you take that. Something tells me that it’s a family matter.” She left the room.
He set up the link. It was Adam.
“Well-well-well, Thomas. I see you wasted no time ingratiating yourself to our father’s murderer.” The tone was ice-cold.
Thomas snorted. “Tough words, coming from you. A man who hides in Europe, while the nation that Father was driving into the ground is beginning to flourish again. The fact is, brother, you are a relic of a time gone by. My talent was wasted before. Now, I am in the inner circle of an Empress, able to make things better for everyone. A pity that you are being so obstinate. I could have made things better for you too.”
“You bastard!” Adam swore. “You think that she will just leave you as you are?! She wants to destroy our entire family!”
“You think I don’t know that?! How little you understand. She is destroying the Empire that Father built. If I show my usefulness, she will keep me around. That’s how she works. Everything is a tactical decision. Every choice, she measures the consequences. That is how a good leader operates. And thus far, Eleanor has proven herself as well! She has helped my sister and I to succeed, and even given Audra a chance to shine as well.”
Adam could scarcely believe it. Why would he trust her?! “She tried to kill you, Thomas!”
He shook his head. “No. She tried to hurt me. To disable me. It was part of a larger objective. While it hurt, and I am still recovering, I don’t begrudge her doing that. It was an efficient way to get her task completely. What’s more, she apologized to me about that. Told me it was nothing personal. I have no reason to disbelieve her. She hates Father and the world he created. We’re destroying that world, one Aristocratic family at a time.”
“She kidnapped Amelia!”
“I don’t think so.” Juliet had linked in.
That got everyone’s attention.
“What do you mean?!” Adam asked.
Her face was deep in thought. “She was very wishy-washy about holding Amelia. She didn’t have the strength of conviction that one would expect a person holding a Princess of their enemy to have. What’s more – she wasn’t in the shot with her. The Wolf always had a flair for the dramatic. Having a princess as her hostage, in the frame, showing us she meant business, it would have been a very powerful message. So why wasn’t she in the frame? I don’t think she ever had Amelia. What’s more, I don’t think she knows where she is. I don’t think any of their people do. The local forces were careful not to talk about her in the days leading up to the attack on the capital of Canada.”
“You mean Area 7!” Adam snarled.
“No, I mean Canada. They have regained their sovereignty, and for the better. Our forces there were careful to dodge the subject of the Viceroy. So I believe that even our own people don’t know where she was. She vanished, but Wolf never had her. Ever. So your claim that Wolf wants to kill all of us holds no water, Adam. You have lost your place here. If you wish to bring us down, you may try. But don’t forget – Wolf has whipped your ass at least three times. Let’s see how you do next.” She cut off the link.
“Until then, brother.” Thomas cut off as well.
In his quarters, Adam pounded the desk. Why?! Why is my family opposing me?!
Eleanor had spent a lot of time in the library at the Palace. There was nowhere with a greater collection of knowledge. She was surprised how many of her own people did as well. Radio was in love with the place, spending a great deal of her time there as well. Oracle spent his entire time not working there. Though he kept a way to link in to his network from anywhere. Juliet was growing rather fond of him. Sebastian and Bane were enjoying reading about the Empire’s military campaigns. There was a vast wealth of knowledge from some truly amazing past commanders in the Empire. Their conquest of Mexico, long before the days of the Specials, was nothing short of perfect. Inferno and Shockwave found a place in the back to make out, so they wouldn’t get noticed, but would also read on whatever random topic they were interested in at any given time. It was kind of funny how the two would be reading, then randomly decided to go and make out. There was no rhyme or reason to it. And they both would get interested in doing so at the exact same time. Almost all of Winter’s Shadow’s people were spending time there, enjoying what Juliet had come to love. It was amazing how little animosity there was between the imperial family and their people.
One day, as Eleanor was reading in moonlight, Juliet came over.
“You’re not really Eleanor, are you?” she asked gently.
That got her attention. “What makes you say that?” She wasn’t mad. If anything, she was intrigued.
“You hate the name. I can see it in your eyes. Every time Sebastian calls you by it, you almost wince. To the casual observer, they would never notice. To me, it’s like a signal going off. But you look like her and her brother recognizes you. So, are you a Special? I remember hearing something about a Special that could shape-shift…”
“I’m the person all the Specials are made from. You remember that reporter’s story about them? She mentioned one called ‘Subject Zero.’ That’s me. My body’s DNA is malleable. I met the original owner of this body as I escaped. I killed her, taking her DNA. Wearing her skin is penance. To this day, I still see her eyes as I strangled her to death. Begging and pleading me to stop. It’s a cross I’m willing to bear. I’ve done far worse things.”
Juliet sat down in a chair across from her. “So that’s why you do this. You must hate us all so much.”
She shook her head. “I really don’t. Your father, indubitably, and he paid for it with his life. You and yours, not really. Your brother, Adam, is a problem to me, but I bear him no ill-will, personally. I just see that he is just like his father, meaning that if he took the throne, all this would be repeated again. I’ll probably have to kill him. I’m sorry.”
The young princess looked down. “No, you shouldn’t feel bad. You’re probably right.” She reached out and took her hand. “So, what is the name you prefer?”
The kindness of this girl, it was amazing. So understanding, so compassionate. Her brother, too. There was a modification to her endgame associated with them.
“Quinn. I prefer to be called Quinn.”
“Very well then, Quinn. I hope, once this is all done, we can help build a new relationship. You’ve changed my life. I finally have a purpose in this world. Thank you.”
Quinn put her hand on the girl’s, smiling at her. “You’re welcome. And I’d like that. Though it’s late. You should get some sleep. Another day is coming. Another part of my plan.”
Juliet got up. “Alright. Good night, Quinn.”
“To you as well, Juliet.”
Eloise looked over at Emily.
“They came for the house today,” she began.
“I’m aware. Glad you didn’t put up a fight. It would have sucked if they had hurt you.” There was a cold distance in her voice.
Her mother looked hurt. “Emily, what happened with your father and all that, you mustn’t blame him! He’s an ambitious man. He just wanted what was best!”
The look on her face was ice-cold and she looked into her mother’s eyes. “He’s dead, mother. I killed him. As for him wanting what’s best, you can shove that bullshit! Dad got what he deserved, and the ONLY reason that you aren’t in the woods dancing with him is that Sebastian asked me not to.” She took out a large manilla envelop from her bag. “Speaking of, here’s a present from him. To help you land on your feet. I’m sure you could put in a good word with the Empress, as she is already aware of what a good architect you are. Not sure what that would get you, but hey. There it is.” She turned and started to walk away.
All Eloise could do was stand there and cry. Her entire life was destroyed. Her husband was dead and her daughter hated her. No one would ever see or hear from her again. A fact that did hurt Emily immeasurably, several years later.
Back at the Palace, the body of William Beckett was being picked at by some ravens. They didn’t even bury him. Quinn and Emily threw him in the woods, for the animals to pick away at him. There was not even a mention of the man after the inauguration.
Until next time, a quote,
“I have a question for you – What do you do when there is an evil that you cannot defeat by just means? Do you stain your hands with evil to destroy evil, or do you steadfastly remain just, even if it means surrendering to evil?” -Lelouch vi Britannia, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion