Disclaimer: Everyone knows I don't own The Rose of Versailles and its characters. So please don't sue me for money I don't have.
Honestly, I don't know where to start.
Yes, I do.
Today was a bad day. I don't mean bad as in good. This is not like finding croutons in my salad when I wanted bacos instead, or stepping in dog poop. Compared to what happened this morning, everything else is trivial.
This morning I stood before the High Council of the Fourteen Generals, of which only seven were present. I was in the Council room for a period of two hours. I'd been constantly looking down at my wristwatch. Well, anyhow, I was being scolded for what happened last night. I, according to them, failed to properly protect Her Majesty, Rose Antoinette, from an attempt on her life by terrorists. This isn't the first time, from what I've heard. Let's just say there are those who don't look on Her Majesty's administration with favorable eyes and see her as a threat.
Those previous attacks, as I heard, occurred five times prior to my arrival. Truthfully, I think it's been more than five. I mean, something strange in going on. After being reprimanded by the Board, Cardinal d' Orleans had to come out from his dark corner to suggest that I and my men be suspended for a month without pay. He said it would give us time to reflect upon our incompetence. Incompetence, such a funny word…well, because of MY incompetence, my right arm is in a sling.
Although, to be truthful, I'm glad no one had to confront one of the terrorists alone. That was my mistake. It was stupid of me to follow him without backup. It was very dumb. I had chased the perpetrator all the way into the battle room. I had him cornered. There's no possible way of escape except through me. I know. Not exactly my best choice of words.
I brought out my laser gun, threatening I'd open fire if he so much as dared wink an eye. Despite my warning, he turned around. He wasn't intimidated. I noticed he carried no guns or any laser weapon of any sort. Of course, that's pure assumption. People get killed on pure assumption. The only weapon I noticed him carrying was a peculiar looking blade, unlike the rapier I carried at my side. He didn't fear my gun. I DIDN'T FEAR MY GUN! I told him not to move. His eyes flashed menacingly through his hooded-mask. The perpetrator, MY perpetrator, wasn't going to take any of my threats lightly. He was determined to escape…even if it meant going through me. I knew it the moment he raised his sword for attack, twisting his hands firmly around the hilt for a better grip. I had a clear shot but he had something else in mind. He moved faster than I could blink. I could swear I nicked him on the shoulder. I could swear the shot had torn his leather jacket. I sang my victory anthem a bit too soon to react quickly enough to outmaneuver his maneuver and dodge the two metal stars he threw. To hell with adrenalin rush, I was terrified for my life!
One of the stars-of-death knocked off my gun. The other one dug into my right shoulder. Instant pain. Instant tears in my eyes. My guard was down and I wanted to cry so badly. But, I wasn't going to give my enemy the satisfaction. I was down. I had hit the floor very hard against my back. Blood seeped from my wound incessantly and I was cursing. I don't know why but I was careless. After childishly wriggling around, I had managed to pull the metal spire out, throwing it aside. It wasn't before long that I opened my eyes seeing my enemy standing above me with the tip of his shimmering blade pressed against my throat. He towered above me looking dark and menacing. From my current position…not my ideal way to die…I could tell he was a tall man of athletic build. Even through his ski mask, I could pinpoint his eyes glaring arrogantly down upon me. He meant business. I began wishing Alain was here to protect me or Gerodere making one of his surprise entrances with his saber at hand ready to kick this guy's ass. I wish I had taken out my sword instead of my stupid laser gun! What good that did? Live and learn, they say. Unfortunately, I was helplessly on my back staring up into the eyes of Death and my men didn't know where I was.
Then, he spoke these words. His voice was full of indifference towards my life. With his blade still at my throat, he said, "Death to the Rose Antoinette. Death to all who protect her." I looked deeper into his eyes. They were clear. I then averted mine to his bleeding shoulder. I believe I did more than just knick him. Then, I returned my gaze to his.
"Not if I can help it," I showed him no fear.
"Hmph," was his reply, which it seemed he shrugged off like something insignificant. Now, I was more scared than before. With reason, too. But if he was about to do anything dreadful to me, there was no way to find out. From a distance, I heard the sound of many clattering footfalls in the hallways growing louder as they came closer. I heard them clearly, so did he. He muttered annoyance under his breath and quickly saved his sword in its sheathe. "I'll be back…for her AND for you."
In no time, he had vanished into the darkness that spawned him. By the time Alain and Gerodere arrived with backup, the terrorist was gone. I still wonder how he had escaped without being seen?
Alain and Gerodere were good enough to inform me that their perpetrators had vanished into thin air as well. I instantly noticed the disappointed looks on their faces. I guess I'm not the only one after a promotion.
Can't say that I blame them.
Thankfully, from what I've learned from another subordinate of mine, the Rose Antoinette was safe. General Von Fersen had been protecting her all that time. I'm not much bothered but I envy her for being with him. I wish I were with him right now. Instead, for my consolation, I'm nursing my shoulder from that assault. Because of HIM, I'm out of commission and I want his blood more than anything in this world. And if I can't have the bastard's blood, I'll settle for his head delivered to me on a silver platter. Where it should be rolling like a head of lettuce.
Oh, yes! He'll be back. He said so himself. I'm counting on it. Now, it's not a matter of justice but of pride…and I'll be ready to roll out the welcome mat. I won't be caught off guard.
The Captain's Log
By Maritza Lara (Jarjayes)
I've got to hand it to Dr. Mercy. He patched my shoulder up pretty good. The man's hands are pretty amazing if not miraculous. I feel more comfortable in his care than with my own family's physician. I wonder if Dr. Mercy can work his magic on my own father, who's been sick for a long time. Mother cares for him devotedly. Since I don't have any brothers, my eldest sister, General Jacquette de Jarjayes de Coubousiers, has taken lead of the family.
She and I have never gotten along but I'm surely not the one with the problem. Ever since we were children, I knew she hated me. In fact, she was one of the Generals who doomed me this morning. She can be a real bow-wow. I mean, no matter what I do, it's never enough to please her. Besides her, I have four other sisters. They, too, are in the military. I guess we've all taken after Father. He was a military man but was forced to retire upon getting sick. There are times he's lucid, other times he forgets where he is and who we are. Whenever I'd come to visit, Jacquette would glare at me as if it were my fault Father's ill. The second sister…she's the same way. She stares at me with enough indifference to burn a hole through my head.
I've strayed away from my initial report. I know that. But, I suppose this is the only way I can gather my thoughts together and spill out all my troubles. My heart is in torment. My pride in shambles. Since last night, Fersen has not spoken to me. He was present at my court martial this morning. It broke my heart, like ripping it to shreds, when he didn't speak in my defense. It was more heart-wrenching when Jacquette kept attacking me. I felt Fersen was silenced by his own fears. Damn him! Despite all of this, despite my pride and integrity being torn apart, I forgive him. I even forgive Jacquette for being the bitch that she is. However, I do not forgive that terrorist for making a fool of me and my men. He's going to pay dearly…with every last breath. And if Fersen doesn't run to my aid, he can burn in hell. I don't want to see him anymore. Not until my anger subsides.
I know I've been rambling but do you know what's the worst of all? His Holiness, the Cardinal, has already made arrangements to call upon the services of a Special Ops Group completely under the payroll of the Church…oops, I mean the Holy Cross. Quite frankly, I think we are quite capable of handling these terrorists without the Church meddling in our affairs. Unfortunately, for all of us, the Rose Antoinette is also under the protection of the Cardinal. I believe they are related, somehow. But, getting back to the point, Rose Antoinette is not only a political figure. She's also a divine one. She has a gift that many are envious of. There are many who are frightened of her unusual talent. These many are even willing to kill her…to put an end to her wonderful gift.
I've trained many years for this…to protect the Rose Antoinette. It's my job. The military has always been my calling. Of course, who could've told me that my years of training were not enough to prepare me for what I encountered last night? I mean, to feel powerless the way I did…Father didn't send me to the Grandier Military Academy where, I point out heavily, generations of Jarjayes have attended, to end up a loser. The Grandier Military Academy, what a place! That's where I met Alain de Soissons and Victor de Gerodere. What memories we made together until the day they both graduated and immediately transferred to different posts. I was left alone my last year. And when I finally graduated, I graduated with the highest marks in my class…barely. I would've come in second if it weren't for the Chairman's grandson falling back five points during his last semester at Grandier's. He was always on sick leave. When he would come back, he had a lot to catch up on. The professors would drive him harder than the rest of us. His drive, his motivation, was amazing. There was a passion in him I could not fathom. His passion surpassed even my own. His eyes said it all.
There was something about his eyes I could never figure out. We never talked much. We would simply exchange mere words since we were colleagues at the same school. Even during training practices, his passion was incredible. Andre Grandier was his name and he would often be assigned as my fencing partner, the position occupied by Gerodere before him. Don't get me wrong. I love a good challenge but he…Mr. Andre Grandier was terribly good… that frustrated me. He never lost his focus. Often enough, my butt…my face…my breasts would hit the floor most painfully. He was always a step ahead…me, a step behind. I tried so hard to be as good as he but second best isn't enough for Jacquette to feel proud of me. So, I decided, what the hell! If she wasn't satisfied, I was going to do this for myself. I wanted to beat him SO bad! I was determined. He still owes me a duel. Pretty much, after him, I was considered the best in my class. I even consider him far superior to Jacquette in skill. He even wins out over my darling Fersen.
We weren't really into the habit of conversing until this one time. He and I were practicing with rapiers. Again, I fell on my butt. I don't know what came over me but I threw the sword aside, furiously. I began crying in self-pity. Pathetically crying on how I'd never be good.
As I cried my heart out, not once did I look into his face. I had my eyes glued to his feet all the while, my vision blurring. He didn't move for a few minutes. When he finally did, Andre knelt before me, placing his own rapier on the floor near me. For the first time, there was compassion in his voice. I'm glad we were alone. I felt quite embarrassed…crying like a ninny. Jacquette would have a fit if she were to find me sniveling like a child.
He then told me to never give up. To fight for what I wanted, if I truly wanted it bad enough to fight. I didn't believe his words until he cupped my chin with his hand…I believe it was his left. Anyway, he cocked my head upwards, meeting my eyes face to face. He said, "Oscar, you're the best sparring partner a guy could ask for." I was shocked but at the same time, I became quite emotional. No one had ever told me that before. That meant a lot to me.
He continued, "You have the potential to become even more but you must remember to stay focused. That's your problem. This isn't about proving yourself to the world as much as doing your best at staying alive." For the first time, he smiled. It was a little one but, nonetheless, it was a smile. That made me feel happy. He added, "I know why you're here. I also know there are more important things than dedicating your entire life to protecting the Rose Antoinette."
I felt bothered by that remark. Stammering, I challenged his statement, "What else is there if not that?"
He turned grave again.
I asked him, "Why are you here? If it's not to protect the Rose Antoinette, what are you doing here?"
He turned his fingers away from my face, the back of his fingers caressing the under part of my jaw. I'm sorry for getting into details but this is how it happened. So, bear with me. In his sorrowful demeanor, he replied, "I have my reasons."
"Why? Could it be because your family's name is in this school, along with the reputation? There must be a good reason."
He was quiet. He continued to stare me in the eyes. Strangely enough, he released my chin. Just when I was getting used to his touch. But, when I thought it couldn't get any weirder, he brought his head closer to mine touching my forehead with his. "You wouldn't understand," he softly said.
The truth, I've never told anyone about this. Not even Alain or Gerodere. I like keeping things to myself. However, since yesterday, I can't keep it out of my mind. Could Andre have been trying to tell me something? I'm not too sure. But, I still can't help thinking about it. One more thing. He asked me if I was sure the military was my vocation. He told me…no, implored me to make sure because once I've made up my mind to proceed with 'this' there was no turning back. Interestingly enough, he expressed, 'there's nothing glamorous about the military and its politics.'
"People have been known to get hurt if they're not strong," he confessed. "A sweet girl like you shouldn't get herself messed up in craziness like this." I thought he was delusional but since last night, I can't help but think that his words made perfect sense. He had warned me that not only would I be dealing with hard-nosed politicians but also with the Church, which he referred to it as a 'dangerous business.'
"There are far more important things than getting involved with the likes of the Rose Antoinette," he repeated and repeated. "You're a good girl, Oscar. Go home while you still have the chance." Unfortunately, I'm as hard-headed as my father. I didn't find any logic in what he said. I thought fatigue had gotten the best of him. But, he was serious. As if he could read my thoughts, he decided for the both of us that we wouldn't talk of this any more. He pulled away. Andre seemed disappointed but offered his hand, anyway to help me up. I accepted.
"Tomorrow," he said, "we'll practice some more. You tend to drop your shoulder too much. You also tend to attack with your sword. You must use your entire arm if you want better results."
"Is that it?"
"You must remember to always stay focused."
When tomorrow came, he was in the infirmary. I had learned that he had collapsed in the shower that morning. The doctor said it was fatigue. His father picked him up that day. That was the last I saw of him.
I tried visiting him at his home on the weekends but I was told he was taken out of the country for better medical care. The butler told me he'd be there for graduation. When graduation day arrived, Andre was nowhere to be found. The seat next to me was empty. It was a sad day for me. We were supposed to accept our award together. Instead, his grandfather accepted both the medal and the certificate in his place.
Can you believe this? He lost to me by five points. Should I celebrate my victory? I didn't feel like celebrating despite the compliments I received from my professors and my classmates and friends. I still feel I haven't accomplished much. I'm still not better than him. No medal can tell you that.
I wonder what he's doing now? I wonder where he is? Is he well? Is he in some hospital bed thinking of our next duel? I wonder.
The year Alain and Gerodere left, I was alone. Strangely enough, in his own way, Andre Grandier became my only friend… in a way. It's not like I could tell him anything, right? It's not like we would go and pick out curtains. That was Gerodere's job. Andre spoke so little. He was too much into himself and didn't like people meddling in his things. He was such a crab apple. I don't know much about him except that he's the grandson of the Academy Chairman. His father is a Senator and his mother is deceased. I heard she was some kind of scientific doctor…never mind that, I was never good at biology. I know he has an older brother that I've never seen…only in pictures and not very good ones. And I'm talking about the internet. Yes, Andre Grandier, like his family, is an enigma.
Now that I'm here after working five years overseas, try the deserts of Saudi Arabia, to see Alain and Victor once again brought tears to my eyes. They were such dears to give me a personal tour around the palace. They even gave me a special tour around the Royal Wine Cellar. They threatened to kill me if I were ever to divulge our being there. The amazing thing though is how they both ended up taking orders from me. Alain is my second in command, Gerodere my third. My troops are not exactly the most exemplary soldiers a girl could ever ask for. How would I describe it? They're an interesting toss between croutons and bacos. Bacos, of course, being the seasoning I most prefer. They're the misfits nobody wants. The leftover trash nobody cares for and have given up on. That's why I was sent for. To deal with soldiers like Nicholas LaMotte, Jeanne Valois, Nichole d'Oliva, and some countless others, everyday, giving me trouble, can be hazardous to your health. I hadn't suffered so much from migraines until they were assigned to me. Thankfully, although I'm counting my blessings too soon, I have these two clowns to look after me. I've given Alain and Gerodere the task of maintaining order and discipline, establishing morale, and taking a bullet for me just in case any of them decide it best to snuff me. Honestly, they are not all that bad. Bernard Chatelet has proven himself a good soldier. He's clever, too. The one I really have trouble with is Jeanne Valois. Since the first day, she's made it perfectly clear that she doesn't like taking orders from anyone. She's also made it perfectly clear that she's boss and the others don't move an inch without her saying so. Gerodere shares my same problem with her. These were her words, not mine…but, she's made it perfectly clear to me and especially to Gerodere that she won't be led around by 'a puffed up cocker spaniel sniffing his bitch.' Hey, her words, not mine.
Amazingly though, she doesn't disobey Alain. Neither do the rest. They all respect him, unconditionally. When he tells them to jump, they say 'How high?' I envy him for having that knack with them. One day, sitting on a barstool over a bottle of brandy, I asked him how he does it? He told me his family knows her family and that their fathers are both drinking buddies. Yes, I know. It's not a reasonable answer but after five shots of brandy and 3:15 in the morning, an answer is an answer. No questions asked. And after five shots of brandy plus two shots of rum and 3:20 in the morning, there was a drunk Gerodere who couldn't stop laughing. At four o'clock in the morning, we had to carry him back home.
Forget it, I don't even remember how that was done.
They were here for lunch. In fact, they both cooked for me after arguing about the menu. Towards the end and some sparks, we had teriyaki steak and caviar. The only thing they managed to agree on was filling up my empty fridge. After eating, we joined at the coffee table drinking two excellent bottles of wine, which they denied telling me where they acquired it…although, a certain Royal Cellar did come to mind. Heh,heh…those two…what will I do without them?
I didn't feel up to receiving anybody in my apartment but I'm glad they came. We spent the entire afternoon drinking and discussing matters inappropriate to mention in this log. It's not triple X yet, still inappropriate. Between the line of being sober and being drunk, Gerodere brought up the Special Ops Group that was supposed to replace us. This was the part where the three of us simultaneously sat back against the couches feeling rather depressed. A Special Ops Group under the payroll of the Holy Cross. Gerodere told me from what he's heard, they are special bodyguards designated solely for the protection of the Rose Antoinette. I asked him if he's ever seen them. Negative. He only knows from the rumors he's heard that they are demon spawn summoned to gather souls for the Cardinal to reserve their places in Hell. Silly, eh? Well, I wanted to hit him.
"They call themselves The White Cross," Gerodere added, pouring himself another glass of red wine.
"Oh, really? How original," I said, already seeing double.
He nodded, agreeing with me. Well, I thought, it doesn't matter now. We've all been suspended, thanks to His Holiness and the seven old farts on the Board, including my sister. We might as well make due with this free time and make the most of it. Man, it's been awhile since I've last seen my father and tasted my mother's cooking. I'll be leaving tomorrow to visit my folks…it's been five years hence. I won't be going alone. I've invited Alain and Gerodere to come along for the ride. As usual, they won't say 'No' to a free meal. It'll be great! Tomorrow, I will spend an entire day in the sun with my two best friends. Perhaps, we'll have a picnic on our lawn. I'll invite two of my sisters. Both are still single and very much available. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, I'll have one or both of these clowns for brothers-in-law. Can you imagine these two as part of my family? I mean, they'd be coming over for drinks all the time. We'd be talking, laughing, talking some more, laughing some more…my sisters tending to their litters…We'll have fun tomorrow.
During my days in the Academy, I used to take them home on weekends. Jacquette, being Jacquette, never approved of them. Mother, on the other hand, never paid her any heed. Since Father never had sons…um, more like, Father could never give Mother any sons, he took to Alain and Victor right away, kind of adopting them. I know it'll do him a lot of good to see them again. I want to see him laugh.
Gosh, how long have I been rambling? Yikes! I've got to wake up very early. We've got a long trip ahead of us. I told them to pack for three days. It'll be like old times, I hope. I keep forgetting I'm no longer 14.
I'm terribly tired. I've talked too much. I don't know what my soldiers will be doing tomorrow. I told them to go see their families. No doubt they'd rather spend their free time at the beach or playing Twister with their lovers. I don't know and, personally, I don't care. At least one good thing, I don't have to deal with them for a month.
On the other hand, I wish I weren't suspended. I am still quite angry for not being able to defend my subordinates like I should have. Like they'd be grateful for it anyway. I have so much wrath building inside me that I really want to make that terrorist demon pay for putting my arm in this sling. I know he'll be back for me and for the Rose Antoinette. He knows we have unfinished business. He owes me a duel. I am his target now. He's pissed because I got in the way of his eliminating Rose Antoinette. It's a question of honor.
Before leaving, Gerodere handed me a small, squared envelope. It was heavy in my palm. I didn't hesitate to open it except that I found it difficult to do so. Gerodere had to unwrap the darn thing for me. To my stupefaction, he pulled out a metal star, the same metal star that had been embedded in my arm. I was perplexed.
Hmph! I'm looking at it now. To think it's a simple weapon of simple design. Gerodere told me its make is Japanese. He looked it up on the internet. The metal used to forge this thing? Galvanized steel. I asked him if he knew any more? "Not at present," he said. "However, I have the other one at home sitting on my desktop for further study. I checked both for fingerprints. I only found yours on this one." When he left with Alain, I felt an emptiness inside me which I've never felt before. I blame that fiend for implanting this in me. The star sits on my coffee table among the wine glasses, staring arrogantly at me. Unfortunately for its master, he'll have more than his arm in a sling. He'll have his neck and his two legs to worry about after I break them. And if that doesn't happen, if he's lucky, he'll only have a permanent impression of my fist in his face; whichever comes first.
All in all, life is good and I only have five hours left to sleep before waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Needless to say. I'll ask Alain to drive. I doubt I'll be in any condition to take the wheel anyway…it's a three hour drive. I'll crash in the backseat.
It's 03:15 hundred hours. I've said enough.
This is Capt. Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, signing off.
I want to thank my beta Nzomniac for being my second eyes.
I would also like to thank all those you have reviewed this fic. And because all of you have asked for it, I'm considering writing more in continuation.
Thank you and stay tuned!