Word Drama 03
Area 11 Government Bureau
Tokyo Settlement, Area 11 (Japan), Holy Britannian Empire
September 13, 2017
The sounds of gunfire and explosions seemed to grow nearer with each passing second. Even the metal and concrete walls of the government bureau could not keep their sounds out from its insiders, nor the shockwaves from causing those same walls to tremble. Its occupants didn't fare much better either, as Alfred Gaius Darlton observed while he moved through the corridors alongside his brothers Bart Lucius Darlton, Claudio Servius Darlton, David Tiberius Darlton and Edgar Nerva Darlton. All five were still dressed in their pilot suits and all holding their visors in one of their hands, having just come out of the battle outside and just as ready to return to it at a moment's notice. In fact, they would still be out there fighting had it not been for their new orders to return to the Bureau, both to mount the final defense and for reasons that their commander, Gilbert G.P. Guilford, had not let on.
Throughout the hallways he and his brothers walked into and from, Alfred saw great disarray: wounded lining the walls with medics attempting to patch them up, random officials running from end to end to perform whatever duty they were assigned to, papers strung out all across the floor, offices with furniture overturned and pictures fallen down, and above all else a great sense of dread that hung in the air like a puff of smoke. All of these things merged together in Alfred's mind, and his brothers too he imagined, to create a revelation that made his gut clench and his fists tremble: the Britannians were losing this battle, and losing it bad.
Just minutes ago Alfred had been in his Gloucester, fighting alongside his brothers against the oncoming Black Knight units, of which there seemed to be no end in number. While their average pilots proved no match for him or the other Glaston Knights, they still kept pushing onward against the Britannian lines, and no matter how many Burais were killed off, neither their numbers nor their energy dwindled. The opposite was only too true with his side however, as Britannian forces all throughout the island were losing ground and manpower fast, all divided into their assigned operational zones in Area 11 and all too easily isolated, with the confusion caused by the recent SAZ massacre, which even now no one could explain, and Princess Euphemia's subsequent death only making the situation that much worse. Alfred cursed at all that, and even more so to Zero's brilliance in being able to take advantage of the whole affair; somewhat ironic, considering just days ago he had professed to his brothers that he come to admire the revolutionary's tactics and capacity for long term strategy while fighting the Area 11 occupational forces, all a far cry from their previous adversaries in the Middle East. Now Alfred wanted to skin that masked bastard alive for those exact same things.
And yet, it was only now that Alfred saw exactly how bad things truly were, more so over the fact he and the other Glaston Knights, along with several more surviving Imperial units, had been recalled to the Government Bureau to mount for the final defense. And even more disturbing, the command had been given to them by Guilford, who had taken over the battle; where Princess Cornelia was he had not let known over the radio, neither did he reply to his brother Claudio's inquiry on the whereabouts of their father, General Andreas Darlton. In turn, Guilford also added on that once the five Glastons had returned and dismounted, they were all to meet him in the Viceroy's office before cutting communications and leaving more questions than answers with the brothers.
Needless to say, the sinking feeling in Alfred's stomach only deepened from that order, and no matter how much he tried to prepare himself for the worst, he knew all too well his efforts would be in vain. And knowing his brothers as he did, they were all trying to do the same, only for each and every one of them to come to that same conclusion.
Slowly, the five came to the door leading to the Viceroy's office, and with certain hesitation, Claudio reached out and opened it, allowing the other four to step inside before he did so as well. Immediately the five brothers were greeted with the image of Guilford, also dressed in his pilot suit, standing before the window behind the prominent oak desk, arms crossed behind him, while papers and various objects were littered across the desk itself and the floor. Alfred visibly gulped at the scene, both in regard to Guilford's visage and the knowledge that the resulting debris were caused by an enraged Cornelia, likely some time after the SAZ.
But then, Claudio noticed something else that disturbed him far more. "Guilford, you're here alone..." he started.
Guilford did not move from those words, but the same sinking dread soon took over his brothers, who were already showing expressions of fear. Seeing this, Alfred forced himself to swallow his own fear and asked the question first: "Where's the General?" he stammered, barely composing himself and the desperation behind his eyes. "Where's our father?"
At that, Guilford finally moved, his head visibly dipping lower as he closed his eyes, already regretting what he was about to tell them. Slowly he turned around, his eyes narrowed behind his angular glasses, composing his breath before he delivered the worst news that they would ever hear. "We found the remains of General Darlton's Gloucester on the roof of this building," he started, praying that his breath wouldn't hitch. "His body could not be recovered."
Suddenly the world became that much colder to the five, who could only no stand there in collective shock. Out of their number however, Alfred was the only one who could not remain as he was, instead feeling the strength in his legs give out and forcing him to fall to his knees.
"No..." he murmured, eyes clenched shut as tears flowed out like miniature waterfalls. Then letting out a cry of rage and anguish, he reached back and slammed his left fist, the one not holding his visor, into the tiled floor, feeling dull pain as his knuckles smashed their way into the marble surface. His brethren could only look away as they fought themselves to mimic what their youngest had done, all the while their own tears fell.
After a few moments, Claudio would be the first to recover, albeit not as much as he would have wanted. Just as Alfred was the youngest of their lot, he was the oldest, and it was therefore his responsibility to ensure that they maintain their duty, even in the face of all that has happened. As such, he turned back toward Guilford, eyes still glazed from tears, and looked the knight dead on as he asked. "What are our orders, Lord Guilford?"
Guilford nodded, as he also fought his own emotions to retain his stoic image, which he was otherwise a staple of his character. "It won't be long before the Black Knights overrun all of our defenses and make their way here," he began, unconsciously feeling his fist tremble as he went on. "All of our Area based forces have been cut off from Tokyo Settlement, and Prince Schneizel's fleet is too far away to make any difference."
He took a moment to fight back the memories of the latest radio call from his mind's eyes. "As such, we have been ordered to abandon Area 11."
Whatever sorrow remained over their father's death was soon pushed aside as the brothers looked up again in shock. "Abandon...?" Bart murmured, realizing with the rest of his lot what that order meant.
"The Avalon will soon make its way here," Guilford stated in a measured tone. "I have been instructed to personally bring Princess Cornelia and all VIPs to her..."
"But what about the others...?" David stammered, once again close to losing his composure. "What about the civilians...?"
Guilford once again closing his eyes was all the answer they needed. As a result, certain anger began to well up among the five. "That's not an option!" Alfred shouted.
Edgar however, managed to keep his own anger in check, at least long enough to follow on that. "Were those orders confirmed?"
"Yes. I had the radio team verify the message. Twice." Guilford explained, his voice beginning to rise. "As I said, Prince Schneizel's fleet is still too far away, and with the Chinese mounting forces in the Sea of Japan, our Asian based forces are cut off. The Avalon is the only ship that will be able to make it here before the fall, but obviously she is not large enough to accommodate the entire populace."
"We can't just leave them all behind...!" David stated vehemently.
"We have no choice!" Guilford shouted back, finally allowing the dam to burst. "In less than an hour, Area 11 will cease to exist one way or the other! All we can do is ensure that as many people get out as possible before the worst occurs!"
That silenced the five for the moment, but the disgusts was still present within their eyes, and in his own mind's eye, Guilford could see the image of Darlton holding a similar vehemence in his gaze, were he there to look back at him. But even so, the knight of Cornelia remained stalwart as he continued on. "Listen, I will ensure you five are also given passage onto the Avalon. As both knights and as the sons of General Andreas Darlton, you are too invaluable to Britannia's service to die here, and I will be damned before I let any random Duke or Earl say otherwise."
"And I suppose the ones outside, who are still fighting so we can stand here and talk about this, are less valuable to Britannia's service to be given passage?" Bart stated in turn.
Guilford felt his teeth clench in response, albeit more toward his given orders than toward Bart's statement. "As I said before, we cannot save everyone. In the next few minutes, I will order a final push against the Black Knight forces. That will buy us enough time to evacuate."
"In that case..." Claudio stated, turning toward his brothers to ensure they were all in agreement. When they returned their steeled gazes toward him, confirming his unspoken question, he looked back at Guilford. "...let us be the ones to lead that push."
Now it was Guilford's turn to look disturbed and confounded. "...what did you just say?"
"You heard what I said." Claudio replied with more resolution than one would believe possible. "We will lead the final charge."
Guilford was only taken back further, knowing what awaited the brothers would they follow through with that statement. "If you go out there now..." he said with a tremble in his voice. "...you will only be cosigning yourselves to your deaths."
"So be it then," David followed up in turn. "At the very least our deaths will not come cheaply, and it will only guarantee the defense to hold out longer."
"Besides, it's what our father would have done." Edgar replied as well.
"Your father would have wanted you to live!" Guilford stammered out. "Do you think you will be doing General Darlton justice by dying here!"
"This isn't about our father, it's about them Guilford!" Claudio responded sharply. "You're about to order Britannia's finest to go out there and sacrifice themselves so that those higher up on the food chain can flock back to the Homeland. You of all people should know how they will feel when that order is given, especially if their own commanders weren't willing to go out there with them!"
Guilford sneered at that thought, knowing exactly what Claudio meant. He did not deny that claim, as he knew all too well the desperation one would hold in the face of certain death; if not for his service to Cornelia, as well as his orders to ensure her safety and those of the other VIPs, he would have been back out there himself to ensure that those below him would not feel left behind. And just as David said, Darlton would have done the same thing, and in that regard Guilford felt disgusted toward himself that he had to be the one to run away while his sons carried out their late father's will.
"We are the Glaston Knights!" Alfred called out with the force of a battle cry. "The sons of Britannia, charged with the defense of our nation, and the destruction of our enemies! We are the soldiers that march forward when others retreat! We are the warriors that destroy in order to preserve! We are the reapers that sew death so that our brethren may live! We live for the Empire, we die for the Empire!"
And from that, the credo of the Glaston Knights rang out throughout the room like a war trumpet blast, causing the other four brothers to stand just as firm alongside the one who spoke it out, once more reflecting on their own will and dedication to their cause. After Alfred finished, Claudio followed upon his brother's words. "Our father made us recite those words until they were permanently forged into our hearts. All this time we have stood by their meaning, yet it is only such a time as this that we can live up to those words to our greatest extent."
He stepped forward, until he was directly face to face with Guilford. "I do not misunderstand you Guilford. I know that with our father's death, you believe you are carrying his will by ensuring our safety, just as I know that if our father were still alive, he would rather see us brought back to the Homeland than sent back out there. But for that to happen, we would be forced to betray our oaths to Britannia and her people, both our fellow soldiers and the civilians we have been charged to defend."
Claudio stared directly into Guilford's eyes, until it seemed like his gaze would melt through the knight's pupils. "And you know that will never happen."
Again Guilford felt his fist clench, as he grit his teeth and looked down, refusing to let himself cry in front of such a face. Unlike those before him, he knew exactly what awaited the five as well as every other living thing on the islands. He, like every other higher official in Cornelia's staff, had known of the final solution that would ensure Area 11 and her sakuradite reserve would never fall into the hands of Britannia's enemies, and for all of this time, Guilford had sworn to himself that he would not see that nightmare unleashed. But now, the order had been given, and Guilford knew that even if the brothers would survive the battle, they would only die in the aftermath. Operation Nero would ensure nothing less.
Yet he knew he could not convince them otherwise; even if he did let them in on one of the most well kept secrets in Area 11, a secret that even now he was under strict orders not to speak of except to those who also knew, they would still be resigned to the battle. As such, Guilford felt as if his insides were being torn apart, the knowledge that he could not protect Darlton's children from suffering the same fate as their father being too much for him to bear, alongside the knowledge that they were about to engage a fight that he, by all rights, should have been in as well.
But even so, he did not forget that his duty was still to Cornelia, and that her leaving the island alive took priority above everything else, even the safety of Darlton's sons. As such, he forced his mind to anchor on that one thought, allowing him to turn back to Claudio and, without losing his composure again, nod in acknowledgement. "If that is your wish," Guilford stated, before giving off the Imperial salute, placing his right fist over his heart. "May you fight well, Glaston Knights!"
Claudio nodded back and saluted as well, alongside the other four. "We always do," he said, before they exited. "Farewell, Lord Guilford."
Mere minutes after their last meeting with Guilford, Alfred found himself back on the cockpit chair of his Gloucester, which shifted forward into the cockpit itself while the hatch sealed itself behind him. From there, he began the startup procedure of his machine, and found much to his relief that the previous battle damage had been repaired and that all systems were fully operational. Looking over his ammunition supply, he found that his assault rifle's bullet and grenade cartridges had both been swapped with fully loaded ones, and that his back mounted missile launchers were all carrying their full loads. For all intents and purposes, he was ready for battle, and shifting his head toward the other four blue shouldered Gloucesters and deploying the factsphere to scan them, it appeared his brothers' units were just as ready.
One after the other, the five machines gently sped across the hangar to weapons rack, where five familiar golden lances awaited them. Starting with Alfred himself and ending with Bart, each Glaston Knight took hold of a lance, before speeding toward the hangar entryway alongside a nearby group of Sutherlands. They continued on until they reached the end of the entryway, where a single closed door divided the insides of the hangar to the outside plaza of the Area 11 Government Bureau. Again one after the other, each knightmare moved into position, perfectly organizing themselves into an attack formation with the five Gloucesters in front and the Sutherlands behind them, all the while the door remained shut and the nearby hangar light remained in the red; once it shifted to green, the door would open and the battle would begin anew for all of them. But for now, they would have to wait, likely until either the Avalon arrived or the Black Knights came close enough for them to attack.
At that point, Alfred reached up with a shaking hand a placed the visor back over his head, taking a moment to let his eyes adjust to the ruby colored 'T'. Despite his resolution to certain death, he still could not keep himself from feeling nervous, and though he did his best to keep it from leaking onto his expression, something must have slipped out, because the next thing he saw was Claudio's own visored image appearing at the corner of his monitor. "Nervous Alfred?" he called out.
Alfred chuckled at that. "Guess some things can't be helped," he replied in good humor. "I was really hoping that I would be able to face the prospect of my death calmly, but it looks like that's not going to happen either."
Suddenly, Bart's image appeared on his screen. "Don't feel bad about it, we're all feeling like that now. But look on the bright side; at least you're not shitting your suit like Edgar is."
A very put off Edgar appeared almost instantly. "For your information asshole, I haven't had a bowel movement since this damned rebellion began. And if I did have one, it would have happened a long time ago, when Cornelia started barking orders."
David followed up on that one as well. "Heh, that would have been enough to give anyone a bowel movement. I've never seen Her Highness so pissed off."
"And we all know why that was." Claudio replied, giving an indirect order to drop the subject. At that, the other four brothers, knowing full well what Claudio was hinting at, chose to follow their leader's command and leave it at that.
After a few moments of silence, Alfred decided to speak again, feeling a little more dejected. "I wish father were here."
The other four nodded. "We all do Alfred," David said in turn. "If it's any consolation, we'll be joining him soon enough."
"Yeah, at least there's that," Bart replied. "In the meantime, he'll just have to watch over us as we kill a few more Elevens. He certainly wouldn't have it any other way."
"Damn straight." Alfred nodded, feeling some of his spirit begin to return. Then another thought occurred to him. "Hey, you guys remember what he had us say before our first deployment?"
Upon that memory, the other four returned the smirk that came across Alfred's face, remembering the excerpt from one of the greatest plays that a certain Bard had put out, one that was based around, ironically enough, victory in the face of certain defeat. At that, Claudio was the first to recite the passage, just as he had been so long ago. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends!" he started, the speakers in Alfred's cockpit doing no justice to the intensity of his tone. "Once more, or close the wall up with our Britannian dead! In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility!"
Unbeknownst to the brothers, the Sutherlands around them were picking up on their transmission due to the proximity, and all at once, their fellow pilots began to listen with interest as the brothers recited the legendary words of William Shakespeare's Henry V, their own spirits being rejuvenated with each word. Bart followed where Claudio left off. "But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger! Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage! Then lend the eye a terrible aspect! Let pry through the portage of the head like the brass cannon!"
David was next down the line. "Let the brow overwhelm it as fearfully as doth a galled rock overhang and jutty his confounded base, swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean! Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height!"
Edgar followed on from there. "On, on, you noblest Britannians, whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof! Fathers that, like so many Alexanders, have in these parts from morn till even fought and sheathed their swords for lack of argument!"
At long last, it was Alfred's turn, and he performed his own segment with the same fervor as his brothers. "Dishonor not your mothers, now attest that those whom you called fathers did beget you! Be copy now to men of grosser blood, and teach them how to war! And you, good yeoman, whose limbs were made in Britannia, show us here the mettle of your pasture! Let us swear that you are worth your breeding, which I doubt not!"
As the last segment came around, it returned to Claudio. "For there is none of you so mean and base, that hath not noble luster in your eyes! I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start! The game's afoot! Follow your spirit, and upon this charge, cry out to God, Earth and Heaven...!"
And then all at once, the voices of not only the five Glaston Knights, but those of each and every one of their fellow knights sounded off in a resolute cry of seemingly eternal power and defiance that threatened to shake the very foundations of the government bureau. "ALL HAIL BRITANNIA!"
Immediately after those final words rang out, the light flashed green and the hangar door lowered itself, revealing the outside to the gathered knightmares. And with a war cry, Claudio twirled his lance and put his Gloucester in a charge, followed by the collective cries of his brethren and the Sutherland pilots, who also charged into the awaiting battlefield...
Nippon Memorial Park
Naha, Independent State of Okinawa
January 19, 2019
Minute thunder rumbled across the grey and overcast skies as a soft gust of wind blew through the forest, causing tree leaves to rustle and grass to flutter from the expanse. As far as storms went, this one was not the worst Okinawa had encountered; in fact, it was a relatively tranquil storm compared to the usual tropical storms and typhoons that usually graced themselves over the islands. However, it was still enough to obscure the usually bright tropical setting, blocking out the sun with a blanket of clouds and causing the seas to shift and stir. The proverbial calm before the real storm began, as it were.
Despite the storm's presence however, the recently created Nippon Memorial Park remained seemingly undisturbed by its presence. The trees, genetically engineered to grow to their full size in little over a year as well as to stand up to the island's higher climates, remained standing strong even as the wind began to pick up around them. The grasslands and ponds, also created in the recent years, remained just as still, while the local wildlife continued to move about the area; they knew that there was still time before the storm's true power was revealed, and as such were now using whatever opportunity they could before seeking shelter. And there, standing prominently in the middle of the park, a single stone pillar appeared unmovable and unbreakable even against whatever force the storm was threatening to bring onto the land. After all, it was created by those who survived the worst cataclysm in modern history as a dedication to those who did not, and compared to the onslaught brought upon by the Devastation, a little thunder and rain was hardly a threat to it or those who built it.
For most of the day the park and the stone pillar remained without visitation. This in itself was a curious event, as the park was a frequently traversed area due to its serving as the collective gravestone for the one hundred million plus that died just under two years ago. Those who survived the Devastation and those who had observed it from the island were both known to come here, to remember as well as to forget, but for the today it seemed as though the storm would be the only visitor to this land. At least, until the mid-afternoon, when he came.
From the grey sky above, a single bird, one easily identified as a peregrine falcon, swooped down and made a perfect landing onto the top of the pillar, its talons gripping the stone as they would prey. Once it steadied itself, the magnificent avian raised itself up and folded its wings back, before looking toward a certain direction of the forest and letting out a loud, ear piercing cry that threatened to shatter the tranquility of the setting. Just as that cry was made, a single silhouette, one with the stature of a man, appeared from the direction that the falcon's cry echoed toward.
Walking in a steady stride, the figure moved through the forest with the near presence of a ghost. The black and silver outlined uniform that he wore moved with his every step, from the perfectly polished black boots which dug into the dirt and grass to the kama that stretched from the waist down to the feet, gently whipping against both the wind and the stride. Two cast silver medals were held over the uniform's left breast, respectively designating him as a survivor of the Devastation and a veteran of the Black Rebellion, while the black, duel silver stripe bearing epaulettes on his shoulders displayed his rank as a Captain. Furthermore, the black beret that he wore over his longer-than-average blonde hair, itself bearing a familiar silver "winged sword" sigil at its base, also indicated him as a member of a specialized unit, one whose name once lived in infamy.
All of these details taken it, it was obvious that this man was a soldier, yet in spite of how striking he looked in his black and silver garb, it seemed as though the uniform was foreign to him. The sigil on his beret especially seemed like the last thing anyone would have believed him to wear, especially when not too long ago he bore a certain golden cross as his own standard. Yet here he was, looking just as ready to march to war as he would have in the maroon uniform he once wore.
As he drew closer to the shrine, the falcon, which he had named Andreas after his late father, let out another cry, and then took off again. A short flight later, it settled upon the branch of a nearby tree, where it would watch its master, the man who had rescued it from the destruction not too long ago, confront his own ghosts.
After a few more steps, Alfred G. Darlton came to a full stop in front of the shrine, where his eyes looked across the memorial plaque at the pillar's base. He was still not fully able to read Japanese characters, but he knew the plaque spoke of the pillar's dedication to those who had died on September 13, 2017. And as he continued to gaze at the ornate hiragana characters, he could feel the memories of that exact day raise up in his mind.
He remembered the battle as it were only yesterday, from the beginning to the violent and destructive end. He remembered the sights and sounds of the bullets and explosions, the death cries ringing out over his radio, and the overwhelming feeling of adrenaline moving throughout his body as he fought the losing battle. But chief among those memories, he remembered the last moments of each and every one of his brothers, as well as the feelings of helplessness that came after one fell.
He could see Bart's Gloucester get cornered by three Burais before being cut down by the triple blaze of their machine guns, the first of his brothers to fall in the battle. He could remember David's unit getting impaled by the chainsword of one of the Gekkas, the revolving blade moving past the Yggdrasil drive and into the cockpit block, before its wielder ripped it out and let the stricken Gloucester fall. He could see another Gekka leap out and tackle Edgar's unit into a nearby wall, where it then executed diagonal cut across the magenta colored knightmare's torso, before letting loose its arm mounted autocannon into the wound and then jumping back before it exploded. And then, at last, he could see Claudio, who had been fighting the black armored, "red haired" Gekka that belonged to Kyoshiro Tohdoh, fall as well as the enemy commander systematically dissembled his own Gloucester, also letting it explode.
Alfred felt both his gut and his fists tighten at the memories, but for whatever hatred he would have gained over watching his four brothers die one after the other, that hatred had been cancelled out by the earthquake and the explosions that sounded as the sakuradite deposits were detonated. That memory was soon followed by the memory of his own awakening, along with the feeling of multiple hands lifting him out of the remains of his own Gloucester while his eyes were greeting by a darkened sky and surrounding ruin. And following that memory was yet another memory of him, now fully alert, wading through the left behind destruction in a desperate search for other survivors, all the while despair threatened to overwhelm and destroy him when the Devastation had failed to.
For almost two years he had lived with those memories, and for that same amount of time he struggled with the realization that everything he had fought for and believed in had been a lie. His own nation had betrayed him, turning upon every principle that it had espoused into him just to keep the resources of the Japanese isles out of the hands of its enemies. The innocents that Alfred had been tasked to serving and protecting had been unanimously purged, all the while the few who held titles and positions were allowed to flee back to the Homeland and escape the destruction. And above all else, the sacrifice of his father and his brothers was rendered in vain, as the Britannia that they had all served to their greatest extent was revealed to be an illusion, a mere cover for a less than honorable regime.
It was for all of those things that Alfred, alongside many other fellow surviving Britannians, had chosen to join the Order of the Black Knights after the organization had been brought back into existence. That itself had been a difficult struggle, as there were still those who still blamed survivors like him for the Devastation, but again here he was now, dressed in the new black and silver attire of his onetime enemies and preparing to go to war against his equally onetime home country.
But before he could proceed however, he needed to come here, at least one more time. He needed to speak to his family once again, even if it was beyond the grave. Already Alfred could see them, the hulking image of his father and the somewhat smaller and leaner images of his brothers, looking back at him, watching him. But even so, he could not picture their expressions and reactions at the sight of his standing before them in an "enemy" uniform. Yet despite that, Alfred chose to speak anyway.
"We live for the Empire. We die for the Empire." Alfred murmured, as he kept his eyes on the shrine. "I can still remember how I cried out those words to Guilford, back before the battle. I remember how I, how we all, felt toward serving Britannia to the end."
Alfred let out a small, sad smile at that. "I guess I could say you were the lucky ones. Each and every one of you followed that creed to the end, before the Devastation erupted and everything changed. You all got to die believing that you were serving a greater purpose than yourselves, while I had to live on to realize it was all a lie."
His smile quickly faded. "That's the reason why I'm here now, before you in this uniform," he continued hesitantly. "I lived past that battle to learn that Britannia really is everything Zero claimed it to be: an evil empire that will destroy humanity instead of saving it. Yes, there is some good in it; you all, as well as Guilford, Cornelia and Euphemia were evidence of that alone, but that wasn't enough to prevent the Devastation."
At that, his eyes closed as he felt tears threaten to leave them. "There is no clearer evil than a nation that would so easily sacrifice its own, whether be it soldier or civilian, and no matter how many good people are in it, it will only remain evil. And in your own words father, when a man is confronted by evil, he is given a choice: either allow it to continue, or end it where it stands."
He opened his eyes again, which were now glistened with moisture. "Yes... you really are the lucky ones." he continued, reaching up and grasping the left side of his uniform. "Because you're not alive to feel the pain I'm feeling now as I'm about to turn on everything I was brought up to believe. Sure, I could say that Britannia betrayed me, no, betrayed us first, but that doesn't make my decision any easier, not when I spent my entire life in its service."
Hesitantly, he took a step closer to the pillar. "No matter how you look at it, I'm about to commit the ultimate treason, against my Emperor and my country, against my oath as a Glaston Knight and against your memories. The last son of Andreas Darlton will live on as a traitor to everything his father and family stood for, as well as forever regretting his service to Britannia and his aid toward its subjugations."
Suddenly, his eyes narrowed. "But in the end, it's not about me, nor is it about you," he stated. "It's about those we failed to serve and protect, and those who still need service and protection from evil. It was for them that we acted as Glaston Knights, it is for them that I am willing to live a traitor's life in the company of my former enemies, and it is for them that I am willing to endure whatever disgust or ill will you have toward me from beyond as I go against our principles."
Finally, the tears began to flow out. "If nothing else, I want you to know that," he said, stiffening himself to military attention. "And that no matter what happens, I will always be a Darlton. Forever proud and forever with honor."
With that declaration, he raised his right hand up and saluted, just as rain began to fall from above. And then, after several moments of remaining as such, Darlton finally tilted his head down and allowed himself to cry.