Zelda Hylia, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Hyrule and Acting President of Hyrule, was nervous. She paced the floor of her command room alone, trying to somehow salvage the situation. It had begun a mere 3 days ago…
President Daphenes Hylia and his wife, Lavatria Hylia, were on their way to the grand opening of Hyrule's first modern electric dam. A marvel of Hylian engineering, the dam was to provide affordable electricity to the Lanayru Province, enabling increased living standards as well as industrial development in the newly incorporated province. In this way, he had hoped to pacify Goron fears of being made into a backwater, as well as to garner goodwill and support amongst the common people, whose lives could be greatly improved.
As the President's car was driving out of the main gate of Hyrule City, a tremendous explosion erupted from the earth beneath his car. The reinforced car was flung several feet in the air and rolled over several times before coming to a halt, smoking.
17 bystanders were killed in the explosion, with some 35 more injured. The real damage, though, was to Daphenes and Lavatria. Lavatria, Zelda's mother, was killed almost instantly, her brain suffering irreparable damage. Daphenes was not much better off. He was technically still alive, but in a severe coma. No one knew if he would ever wake up again. Even if he did, there was no telling what kind of brain damage the man had suffered. He might never again be fit to rule.
With both her parents either dead or incapacitated in a single day, Zelda had been forced to seize the reins of power unexpectedly early. After a quick state funeral for her mother, Zelda had declared martial law and appointed herself Acting President "for the duration of this crisis". She had had good reason to.
Modern Hyrule was entirely the result of Daphenes' dream. A visionary and idealist, he imagined a unified world of peace and prosperity, where all races could work together in harmony, free of war or civil strife. To reach this utopia, however, certain measures had to be taken, many of which could be considered rather unethical. Daphenes had lied, cheated, broken treaties, and had noncompliant leaders assassinated in order to bring the gigantic nation together. While he had generally avoided openly warring against another nation (except for a few times), he had not hesitated to oppress resistance within them to himself, nor to fabricate history to attempt to mold the next generation.
Daphenes had enjoyed widespread support primarily among the Hylians, his people. They formed much of the army, almost all of the officer corps, and almost all of the high-ranking administrative officials. It was not due to racism on his own or Zelda's part, but rather to the simple and undeniable fact that Hylians were simply much more reliable in those positions than other species were. Several times non-Hylian units of the military, particularly those asked to suppress uprisings among their own people, had mutinied and joined the resistance to Daphenes leadership, whereas Hylians almost never did so. Zelda had attempted to mitigate these problems as Supreme Commander by assigning Hylian officers to these units, as well as assigning them to patrol the territory of species other than their own, but the problems persisted nonetheless.
The situation in the Hylian military simply reflected the wider social problems facing Hyrule. Non-Hylians tended to resist the integration of their nations into Hyrule, which in turn necessitated Hylians to form the primary administrative and policing forces, which in turn lead to greater feelings of exclusion and marginalization, which lead to greater resistance. The vicious cycle had continued despite all attempts by Daphenes to remedy the situation. He had instituted mandatory schooling, where students learned the glories of Hryule and the necessity of the world's unification, but the parents of non-Hylian children had repeatedly counteracted this propaganda once the children returned home. He had done his best to integrate loyal non-Hylians into the government and the economy, but they were few in number and were often looked upon by their own kind as collaborators and stooges of an occupying power. Often, Daphenes had had to resort to pure military force to put down riots and rebellions among Gorons, Zora, Kokiri, Deku, Gerudo, Moblins, etc. Daphenes had been even considering the radical step of removing children from their parents completely for several years to ensure social harmony. Plans for such a step were being drawn up upon when he was injured in the bombing.
Now many rebellious non-Hylians sensed weakness in the regime. There were riots throughout Hyrule, mostly by non-Hylians, although some pro-government mobs were out in the streets as well. There had been violent clashes between various mobs throughout the country, and even in the capital. Hyrule City was considered a crowning achievement of Daphenes, the most modern city in the world, with technology and magic successfully fused to produce many wonders. Much of the population was non-Hylian, a result of Daphenes attempts at integration. Even here, it was estimated that some quarter of a million (out of a population of around 3 million) people were out in the streets. Riots were everywhere, as anti- and pro-government mobs clashed openly, leaving hundreds dead. More than three quarters of the city's police stations had been hit with Molotov cocktails or other firebombs. Against this, Zelda had some 5,000 elite Republican Guard and around 100 tanks on hand to restore order to the city. The remainder of the military was dispersed throughout the country, though communications had been erratic at best since the riots began.
Zelda sighed. She opened her door and said to her chief bodyguard, Impa, "Alright, let them in."
Impa nodded and walked into another room. Within a minute, the High Council filed into Zelda's command room (she could have taken over her father's office, but felt far more comfortable among the military trappings of her own).
"There they all are," she thought, "I wonder - how many of them are even now plotting my downfall?" It was a frightening thought, but a possibility she could not afford to ignore. The longer the riots went on, the more weakness she showed, and the more likely it was that they might desert her, or seek to unseat her altogether. That would be a disaster and she knew it. She was the last active force that had enough of her father's authority about her and enough of a powerbase amongst the military to control the entire empire. If she fell, it would mean a massive civil war and almost certainly the end of her father's dream. There was no telling what fate might await Hylians as a race should she fall either. There was certainly no lack of people who might take out their hatred of Hyrule on the Hylian people as a whole. It was not inconceivable that her race would be subjected to genocide should she fall. She vowed not to let that happen.
Zelda looked around at the members of her father's High Council. To her right was High Administrator Quavaris, a thoroughly unimaginative little bureaucrat. The Hylian man was content simply to head the empire's vast bureaucracy and seemed to have a psychological need for order, as well as a need to be told what to do. This made him little threat to her on his own, although the last few days of rioting had taken a toll on his mental state, and it was not inconceivable that if she did not do something soon, he might try a find a new master. To Quavaris' right sat Minister of the Treasury Latela, a female Zora and the only one on the council. She was quiet and often rather mysterious, but was a financial genius and always managed to keep Hyrule's treasuries full. Zelda felt nervous around her, as she had little idea of the Zora's motivations or goals, but the truth was she needed the money Latela brought in an thus put up with her. To Latela's right was Minister of Science Gatavar. The aging, near-bald Hylian was brilliant mechanist, as he had pioneered the development of the modern engine from a fusion of machinery and spells, and had personally designed and built the first tanks and armored vehicles. Zelda felt most comfortable with him, as she had known him for many years and had been primarily responsible for his appointment to his current position. He was loyal to her and looked to remain that way. Sitting across from Gatavar was Minister of the Interior Hadira, a female Hylian. Head of the secret police whose job it was to keep dissent in line, she was made to look incompetent by the recent riots but maintained her power because Zelda currently lacked a viable candidate to replace her with. Zelda knew little of the secret police in general and Hadira in particular, which meant that she had little idea of whether or not the woman would support her. To Hadira's right was Gorther, a male Goron and Minister of Information. It was his job to control the information people could get over radios or through printed media. It was odd then, how quickly the news of Daphenes' state spread around the country. Zelda suspected him of disloyalty, but she had precious little proof, and the others could very well move against her should she act too rashly in moving against him. Finally, to Gorthar's right and on Zelda's left, sat Deneron, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a male Hylian. It was his job to negotiate with what few independent nations remained, with the ultimate goal of integrating the into Hyrule. He was Zelda's most vocal critic, arguing that she was a weak fool who lacked her father's ability to rule. He had said that she had been far too slow in reacting to the situation, and that the time she had used for her mother's funeral should have been used instead to squash the riots in their infancy. Zelda had not believed that was possible to do once the information had gotten out. Thus far, he had limited himself to verbal criticism… so far as she knew.
Of all of them, Zelda only really trusted Gatavar not to conspire against her, but even he might turn against her should she fail to quell the riots and punish those responsible for the recent bombing quickly enough.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the High Council, let's skip the formalities today." Zelda began, "We all know why we're here. We need a strategy for quelling the riots. Efforts to keep the contained and wait for them to burn themselves out have failed, and efforts to simply use the secret police to quell them by arresting provocateurs have also failed. I'm considering authorizing the Republican Guard to clear out one section of the city at a time, leaving behind a safe, secured area people would want to flee too rather than flee from. This should convince the people that the rioters are the ones making things worse, not us. That way, we could remove popular support from them. Does anyone else have any other ideas?"
Deneron snorted, "The Republican Guard? The time for them was days ago. Madam President, you must see reason here. A small force of elites would be effective against a mutiny or an outright rebel assault, but against such a rioting populace as we have now, they would be like attempting to dam Zora River with a single log. Madam, you must not hesitate. Maximum force is called for here, and we must call in the full military. If necessary, we must level entire portions of the city to end this. Sending in the Republican Guard would only give the enemy propaganda when they inevitably fail."
Zelda raised an eyebrow. "The full military? May I remind you, Minister, that to do such a thing would result in not only tens of thousands of our own civilians being killed, but also the loss of billions of Rupees worth of assets, and the inevitable loss of many of our other provinces."
"So what? Those can be retaken later! We must quash this uprising in this city with maximum force, now, before we're overthrown!"
"And then what? We'll have lost half the country, our capital will be in ruins, and we will face years of grueling war with a very uncertain outcome. Our economy might well collapse, and we could face another uprising within ten years' time, from people tired of a broken economy and with sending their sons and daughters out to fight a potentially futile war. And my father's dream will almost certainly be dashed. I for one believe that this can be quelled without losing most of our country and leveling our capital."
"Leveling our capital? Nonsense. We need only crack down with as much force as possible, and the rioters will flee before us."
"And if they don't? What then?"
"The same could be said of your plan to use the Republican Guard."
"Except that rather than simply quashing them by force and exterminating everyone at once, my plan calls for a measured surge to clear out one area at a time, leaving behind an ordered, safe area. Once we demonstrate that they'll be better off not rioting, our citizens won't riot."
"And why not use sufficient force to clear them all out at once?"
"Because it'll cost us the rest of the country! And because it will cost more lives. We have to think about more than our capital."
Deneron got to his feet. "They're won't be a country if the capital falls!"
Zelda got to hers."Your plan would send us into an uncertain war for years! Maybe even decades!"
"Your plan will see us overthrown!"
"Your plan will see millions dead!"
Both Zelda and Deneron turn to stare at the normally quiet Latela, who had just stood up and screamed at them.
"Deneron, Zelda, I'm surprised at both of you. Shouting at each other like a pair of spoiled brats! Can't we hold a discussion in a peaceful, civilized manner?"
Zelda sighed and sat back down. Deneron took a breath, and then did the same.
"Now then, that's better. As Supreme Commander and Acting President, Zelda has the authority in this situation. The rest of us can ultimately only give her advice. Therefore, Madam President, do what you think is best."
"Thank you, Latela." Zelda nodded. "Now then, do the rest of you have any new ideas?"
"Use propaganda to spread the image of a peaceful, benevolent government and an unruly mob of brutal thugs," suggested Gorthar, "but I also support Deneron's idea. The capital is too important to be lose."
"The Ministry of the Interior stands by President Zelda's plan and will assist however possible," commented Hadira. "Losing the rest of the country is too high a price to pay."
"The Ministry of Science backs Zelda," announced Gatavar.
Quavaris said nothing. Deneron scowled but declined to comment any further.
"Then it's settled. The Republican Guard begins clearing the city within the hour, starting with vital industrial and communications zones. This meeting is adjourned."
Deneron was first out the door, muttering angrily to himself. The other filed out quietly, disappearing back to their respective duties. Zelda called Hadira to wait.
"Yes Madam President?"
"I want you to review my plans of the Republican Guard operation and position your agents to follow them in and ensure the area is secure. You failed to prevent this from happening. Now you can make up for that. Don't fail me."
Hadira's face was completely blank, as usual. "As you wish, Madam President. Will that be all?"
"Yes, you may go."
Hadira nodded and marched out the door. Impa closed it behind her as she left.
Zelda sat down and sighed. "Well, that didn't go as well as I'd hoped. Only half of them even bothered to say something in support of me. What might they be doing behind my back, I wonder?"
Impa gave a faint smile, "I'm sorry, Madam President, but I'm no good at intrigues. What they're up to is anyone's guess."
"You can call me Zelda, you know."
Impa shook her head "Doesn't feel right for someone of your station next to mine. Incidentally, your father's personal assistant wants to see you. Say it's urgent."
"Well what are you waiting for? Let her in!"
Kathalia, the secretary of Daphenes, was shown into Zelda's command room. The rather scrawny looking woman was clutching a file marked "Top Secret".
"Zelda, you really need to-" Impa glared. Kathalia grumbled and rolled her eyes. "Madam President, you urgently need to read this. Your father was working on this before… before…"
Zelda rolled her eyes and sighed, "Before he was reduced to a comatose vegetable. Don't play word games with me, I'm 29. I'm no ignorant child."
"Right. Of course. Here" She handed Zelda the file.
"Is that all?"
"You may go."
Zelda looked at the file she had just been handed as Impa escorted Kathalia out the door. It was labled, "The Triforce and Ganondorf". Zelda raised an eyebrow at that. The Triforce? Everyone knew what that was. Supposedly, the goddesses had created some sort of mystical object that could grant its owner any wish, and then left it somewhere (where depended on who was telling the tale, Zelda had heard in another world, at the center of the world, in the sky, in a hidden temple, among other things). Utter nonsense, of course. Merely a child's fairytale, like the supposed shadowstalkers or the Dreaded Treanderoth that supposedly lived in the center of a mountain (people had dug there, it didn't). No one denied the existence of the goddesses or of magic, but to believe the makers of the universe would do something so absurd was ridiculous on its face. Nowadays it was merely used as a symbol of the three goddesses in religious practices. Zelda wondered why her father, always a practical man, was wasting time and money on a fairy tale.
Ganondorf, on the other hand, was well known to her. A rare Gerudo male and a rebel, he was known to be a powerful sorcerer and notoriously hard to capture or eliminate. She had personally directed at least three military operations aimed solely at his death, without success. She knew of more directed by the previous Supreme Commander. While Ganondorf claimed in public to be a proponent of independence for all, everything they had in their psychological profile of him suggested otherwise. He was known for being power-hungry, even from his youth, and for having an absolutely vicious and unpredictable temper accompanied by a sadistic streak. He was known to have had agents who failed him set on fire, magically healed, and then set on fire again and again just so he could hear their screaming, until he got bored. His peons often joined for his rhetoric about independence and freedom, but stayed because they were either magically brainwashed or simply too terrified of the man to dare attempt escape. Hylian agents had had a notoriously hard time keeping captured members of his group alive, as they were known to commit suicide rather than risk falling back into Ganondorf's hands. Everything about him indicated that he merely wanted to replace Hyrule with his own empire, and that he would make a horrible ruler. Zelda wondered what he had to do with a child's fairy tale.
It was, therefore, a great shock to Zelda to read the first line of the first document in the file.
"The intelligence is clear and undeniable. The Triforce exists, and Ganondorf seeks to claim it."
Zelda spent the next hour or so mulling over dozens of intelligence documents relating to the Triforce, the Master Sword (which she had also believed to be fictional), Ganondorf, and various relics and temples scattered throughout the world.
By the time Zelda was finished, the Republican Guard operation to clear the city had begun, but that was the last thing on her mind. She bad to move, and move quickly. She needed someone to find and secure the Triforce for her, not only so that it would never come into Ganondorf's hands, but also to finally create the utopia she and her father before her had strived so long for.
"But who to send?" Zelda thought.
She rather obvious had to pick someone who could be trusted to be absolutely loyal to herself, even when faced with the chance at ultimate power. That left surprisingly few candidates. She could always go herself of course, but without her Hyrule would almost certainly collapse into a devastating civil war. The Triforce would do her little good if everything was already lost, and besides, she still wasn't entirely sure it was real. So who to send? Impa? No, she was needed here, and while a dangerously competent bodyguard and aid, was not much of an adventurer. Gatavar? The man was far too old. A unit of Republican Guard? She hardly knew them well enough to trust them that much. A secret police commando team? She trusted them even less. Who to pick, who to pick?
Then it hit her.
"Impa?" she called out, "I need you to go get and old friend of mine."
So what do you think? Reviews please!