The Emperor sat on his throne. Unhappy. Such jovial behavior was unusual in his court. He was used to people talking in hushed whispers behind fans, not bellowing and laughing. He hated the holidays.
Rain splattered the windows, this cold December night, but that didn't bother him at all. The storm was just another part of life. Something unchangeable. He knew what he could and couldn't toy with, and he toyed with what he could to the utmost. Such was his position as Emperor, toying with the lives if those under him.
He signaled to his guards to accompany him out, then stood, and walked, with measured pace, down the center aisle. Everyone hushed and turned to watch, the room suddenly silent, and it was so till the door was banged shut behind thereafter, the door to the outer reception room opened, slamming against the wall as a man in a dark cloak stumbled inside, the tails of his coat whipping in the wind, his hands wrapped tightly around his waist, then he fell, his hands slipping away to reveal a bloodstained white uniform. The uniform of a perimeter guard.
The guards in the entrance hall were speechless for a moment, then the hall became a blaze of activity as the fallen guard was taken away, the rest of the guard and the knights of the round alerted, and everyone taken to a secure location. The Emperor's guard said to him, "Sir, for your security we should retire into the security room."
The Emperor contemplated this for a moment, knowing full well who was orchestrating this attack. his brother. V.V. had never approved of Marianne and her common blood. He looked at his guard, "Where is Marianne right now?" He demanded
"Sir, the Empress should be at the Aries Villa." The man responded.
"Good, send a contingent of guards to establish a perimeter. And The Knight of Four and Five" he ordered.
"Yes Sir, we'll contact them at once." The guard said.
Good thought the Emperor that's Marianne taken care of, "Deploy all available Knightmares and Guards, bring every one of the intruders in alive if possible. Kill any who resist." He ordered, before returning to the main hall and behind his massive throne, into a small security room, with several monitors, showing the various security feeds.
Vince Regas was off duty. Being not only a knight, but one of the Emperor's royal guard was tough. It usually involved long hours standing at attention in the main courtroom, or else in a knightmare patrolling the palace perimeter. Never anything interesting happened.
Then the alarm Klaxon went off.
Regas was up at once, pulling on his uniform and getting together with the rest of his unit, the 367th Imperial Knigtmare Squadron. It was a common myth that no unit of Knightmares in the Emperor's guard were allowed to hold the same unit designation. The 367th was more commonly known as the Gryphons, the last unit to be called the Gryphons, the 142nd IKS was wiped out during an attack by a prince who decided he wanted to take the throne by force.
It wasn't exactly the kind of reputation a name wanted to get. And it definitely wasn't the kind of reputation that you wanted the name of your unit to have. And the fact that the klaxon was sounding was bad news.
Then the Lieutenant started talking.
"We're being emergency scrambled to the Aries Villa. Move it!"
Nobody hesitated, the Lieutenant and Regas were the first ones into the hangar, and then the rest filed into their units. Then they launched, the door opening and each unit deploying its landspinners in order to move quickly. The Sutherlands moving in perfect coordination with one another, and a healthy chatter kept up for the first few seconds as everybody reported in. Then it went deathly silent.
When they arrived at the villa, a half-dozen other Sutherlands, the Dragons, the 309th IKS, by their markings, were already there. As well as a number of infantry guardsmen in night combat gear. In other words, all black and dark greys.
They began fanning out to cover ground, and more infantry came in, the two units of Knightmares taking up opposite side of the building, all watching on infra red and NV scopes for movement.
Then gunfire, a burst, and silence.
Another burst, this time Vince knew it came from the other side of the building. The two sides exchanged fire. But it seemed that the aggressors were winning. He heard an explosion. Then a tone indicating a unit lost. This wasn't going well. He radioed the Lieutenant.
"sir, known enemy on out six. Orders?"
"maintain formation corporal. We'll let them handle it."
Another tone. Another explosion, another knightmare lost.
"Sir they're losing to many forces..."
Then an explosion. The lieutenant ejected.
"Damn it, they've got the whole place encircled." Vince thought. But he couldn't see anything on any of his scopes. The lieutenant got out of his capsule and ran inside to the villa. The Empress stood dumbstruck in the entry hall. Not a guard in sight.
Vince outside, was having a difficult time. The terrorist were invisible and firing mercilessly. He was still standing, and firing. But it was doing little.
His unit was downed, and he ejected, he then joined his superior in the safety of the hall.
But it wasn't safe for long. Dark shapes were creeping up towards the windows, the gunfire now eerily silent.
"Empress!" Vince and the lieutenant yelled simultaneously. Diving in front of her as the bullets started to fly.
It was a good thing that the Knight's uniform was made to be bulletproof. Vince couldn't count the number of times he was hit. Three in the chest, five in the stomach, eight or nine to the leg. He was lucky to be alive after being hit that many times. The empress lay on the ground, princess Nunnuly, who he hadn't noticed on his way in, clutched to her.
There was no more gunfire. Whatever it was, it was over. The lieutenant lay dead, hit so many times that the Kevlar reinforcement in the uniform had been torn to shreds and perfected several times. He would be hailed as a hero, he had sacrificed himself for the Empress, his duty as a knight.
Two Knights of the Round arrived shortly thereafter, bringing along a contingent of infantry. They were late, but they had arrived.
"Who's in command here?" Asked one.
No one answered.
"Sir, the person who was in command is dead. I'm unsure of the chain of command due to multiple units being here." Vince replied after a long silence.
"Well I'm taking charge now." Said the one, "How is the Empress?"
"Alive and whole, but shaken." Vince replied.
"Alright then, this looks like a war zone, not a palace. Get inside you imbeciles, or did you not realize the house is the best cover you have?" The knight said, dismounting his knightmare. The knight walked up to him, "God in heaven what in hell happened to you?" He said upon seeing the bullet holes in Vince's uniform.
"I was shot saving the empress." He replied.
"How!" The knight asked incredulously.
"I dived to save her and well, this is good armor." Vince replied.
"Well, no more small talk. We need to see to the Empress." He said, brushing past Vince, "and get a fresh uniform, you look like a man who never changes clothes."
Vince was thinking of a good retort, but was unable. The man was immaculately dressed. He brushed past, the proceeded to the entrance hall. Where Marianne lay, still clutching Nunnuly to her. Lelouch stood at the top of the stairs with Cornelia and half a dozen royal guards in tow.
Cornelia looked horrified at the failure of herself and Marianne's guard, she was about to turn and leave when the knight stopped her. "There may be more yet about." He said
Cornelia nodded. Faced with a problem like this, she could work with. She was a soldier at heart, and nothing improved her spirits like the prospect of combat. Shortly thereafter, the Empress was helped to her feet, and, when she had assured the various guards and knights around her that she was fine, she was helped to the study to talk with her guards. Nunnuly and Lelouch were taken to bed.
It was late, and Vince was tired. They were all tired. Cornelia dismissed the additional guards, Vince included. The returned to their barracks to sleep and get this retched night off their minds.
It was Three days since the attack. No new officer had been posted at the Gryphons' barracks. No word had come as to who would replace the lieutenant.
Then, Vince woke up and found a slip of paper beside his bed. Well, actually, a small packet of papers. The first was a letter informing him that he had received the Medal of High Heroism, the highest medal awarded. Following that was the write up from the Knight of Four, then an official summons to the Emperor's court, for what he wasn't sure. The appointment was scheduled for just an hour from now, 0700. Apparently the Emperor woke up early.
Vince clambered out of his bunk and into a formal dress uniform, and at 0623 arrived outside to find a car waiting for him. He climbed in.
It was 0648 when they arrived at the throne building. Vince was admitted into the antechamber and differed to a cushioned bench while he waited. He didn't have to wait long. The previous petitioner came out in a huff, obviously the Emperor hadn't seen things his way. The herald signaled to him from the door. Vince stood up, walked over and waited while the herald got things in order then, the doors swung open, and the herald announced, "Announcing Sir Vince Regas, Knight of the Palace Guard and Hero of the Empire!"
Then Vince slowly advanced up to the throne at a measured pace, bowed and when the Emperor commanded, "Rise" he stood, eyes locked with the man he had been protecting. Or at least, so he thought.
"I have made a descion about you. I am hereby promoting you to Captian. You will be transferred to General Roderick's Command."
Vince was dumbstruck. "Thank you my lord." He stammered.
But the Emperor wasn't finished, "Furthermore I am granting you and all your family and descendants the title of Lord, and all associated privileges. I hereby grant you Tellon manor in Area 2 as your fief."
Once more Vince stammered, "Thank you my lord." This was extremely rare. A commoner like him was only given a noble title if they somehow pleased the Emperor in the extreme. Apparently the Empress Marrianne was quite important to him.
"You may go." The Emperor said in clear dismissal. Vince needed no second hint, he turned smartly, and walked at the same measured pace back down the isle he had come. But this time there were whispers among the crowd as to what this meant, and he even heard bets being made as to which prince would take him for an ally.
He returned in the same car to his barracks, official notification of his transfer and new uniform on his bed. He also was granted two weeks leave to organize things at his manor. Not that it mattered. He would have trouble traveling there in the winter. But it should make a fine summer home. He made some calls to tell his family of the news, but they told him that they had already been notified.
He lay on his bed wondering what he would do with his two weeks.