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Freedom Fighter: Eternal Vigilance

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Stories & Tales' started by EffingPrancer, Jul 24, 2005.

  1. EffingPrancer

    EffingPrancer Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    42
    I've been in a slump, and I've had writers block, and the intent of this story is to break both. I made it short so that I could pound it out before the writers block slowed me down, and hopefully decent enough that I can call the slump off. It fits as a Civ story, so enjoy it. I hope.

    This is dedicated to Marlowe, and to S. Andrew Swann, whose Hostile Takeover trilogy is a piece of science fiction that I immensely enjoyed despite my usual disdain for the genre.

    I don't usually make dedications like that, but the references to Marlowe's Faust and Swann's philosophy of control would make me feel wrong if I didn't.

    -Prancer
     
  2. EffingPrancer

    EffingPrancer Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    42
    Freedom Fighter: Eternal Vigilance




    “People and Senators be not affrighted.
    Fly not; Stand still; ambition’s debt is paid.”

    -Brutus of Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser




    Shadows enveloped the castle, an ancient structure, whose black stones carried the memories of all of the years of the nation, of the kingdom, of every dynasty that had built and destroyed from its imposing walls.

    Lightning slashed into the darkness with its desperate, scarring lunges, leaving no mark a moment after the flash. Weapons hung on the walls, everything from the ancient steel that had forged a kingdom to the now silent muzzles that could still remember the conquest of an empire.

    And the emperor sat on the edge of his bed, his hair was graying, wrinkles began to hint themselves onto his flesh, and dark bags spoke of many an hour of lost sleep beneath eyes that once were bright, blue and stark but had since succumbed to dullness.

    It is in these hours, beyond the reach of subjects and advisors that an emperor could consider himself, it was these hours that an emperor’s nightmares woke him, and it was in these hours that an emperor could remember.

    -

    Cornelius sat across from him, and Valdes next to him, it was a darkened pub, where whispers slid beneath the shadows like sharks, a place where conspiracy flourished, a place where rebellion was born.

    “What do you say, Johann?” It was Cornelius who asked with eyes ablaze with hope.

    “It’s risky, what if the people don’t follow us?”

    “They will follow, who do you know who supports him?”

    Johann could think of no one.

    “He inherited a kingdom from a great man, but we all know he is too petty and foolish a man to ever rule it well. It is a time to end this chance game of kings, Johann, and you know it,” Valdes chipped in.

    “But revolution? How many will die?”

    “How few will live, truly live, free to make their own decisions and all of that, if he is allowed to remain?”

    Johann had no answers.

    “Look, we can’t do this without you, we know you have the keys to the armory, you’re in charge of the damn thing, and we know you believe in democracy as much as the next man, make it happen Johann, its all up to you.”

    Johann couldn’t say no.

    “I have an oath to the emperor,” he stuttered, hoping the offer would go away.

    “And he has an oath to his kingdom, an oath that he breaks with every masquerade ball that saps away the kingdom’s treasury, all of it he pisses away. When was the last time you or your men were payed?”

    Johann didn’t have an answer.

    Cornelius shoved his hand across the table.

    Johann had to take it. He nodded, almost with regret.

    -

    The armory door swung open, Johann stood in front of the crowd, shaking his head, there weren’t more than a handful of guns outside of this armory, the guards would be helpless to the crowd behind Johann.

    The first of the men assembled by Cornelius and Valdes stepped past the threshold, there was no turning back.

    Johann reached for a gun.

    -

    The first guards never saw it coming, Johann wondered if he knew them as the bullets slammed into their flesh, they staggered to a fall and he was left hoping they would recover. More bullets hammered the fallen piles of flesh, as the first of the revolutionaries stepped into the castle.

    Johann took a moment to admire the ancient black stones as thunder pounded against the midnight sky.

    -

    The emperor watched the lightning outside as he paced down the halls of his castle, he shook his head to watch nature battle itself, to tear itself with great thunderous noise.

    He stared downwards into the mist, he couldn’t see anything, no striking hand of justice, he knew there wasn’t any, there couldn’t be any.

    Still, no rest for the wicked, and a heavy heart began to ache in his breast.

    Dear Lord, could he ever be forgiven?

    -

    The rest of the empire had succumbed rather easily with the widespread support for the coup, the army had no figurehead to rally behind against the revolt, the people soon idolized the leaders of the revolt, Johann, Cornelius, Valdes, heroes to a nation.

    It all seemed too easy to Johann, there must be more, something must be hiding in this revolt, something sinister. Eternal vigilance, he reminded himself, was the cost of liberty.

    Valdes sat alone at the pub where a revolt had been born.

    “Cornelius has become too good for this place?” Johann pulled up the stool next to him.

    Valdes passed him a dark look, “He prefers to drink at the castle.”

    “What’s he doing?”

    “Building a government.”

    “Himself?”

    Valdes nodded, frowning, lifting the stein to his lips.

    “You know,” Valdes spoke when the stein had touched the bar again, “He has so much support, if he wanted to cut us out he could. In fact, if he wanted to cut democracy out he could.”

    Johann shivered, “Would he?”

    “Power corrupts, Johann, power corrupts. Who knows what he would do, we can only fear what he could.”

    The other whispered sharks of conversation suddenly became more noticeable as Johann and Valdes were silent.

    -

    The gun was tight to Cornelius’s throat, “You planned to take control didn’t you?”

    “Never!” Cornelius cried, tears were pounding down his face, “Never!”

    Johann spit, Valdes stood at his back, “You would say anything to save your contemptible life, wouldn’t you?”

    “No, I swear I never would.”

    Johann shook his head and turned to Valdes, who nodded.

    The trigger pulled back so easily, if Johann didn’t look and see the blood he might never have believed that he had killed a man.

    What if Cornelius had been telling the truth, the question nagged at him in the eternal moments that he and Valdes stood there. What if Valdes had lied to him to eliminate Cornelius? What if he were next to be eliminated?

    It occurred to Johann that there was only one man he could trust with the fate of his nation.

    He turned the gun on Valdes.

    Eternal vigilance.

    The trigger came back so easily.

    -

    The emperor stared at the gun above the mantle, it took every effort of his aged bones to reach it. The weight of a thousand broken vows were heavy on his shoulders as he dragged it down, loading it with a single bullet.

    It was always the same dream that woke him, he was dancing a puppet across the floor, endlessly, ceaselessly. He was in control until he realized he couldn’t stop. The motion dragged him on. He was as much a slave to the motion as the puppet, all he had ever wanted was to be free, all he had ever wanted was escape from slavery. He had nothing now.

    He was a gilded slave in this dark and cruel castle, eternally vigilant and ever watchful, always a slave to the motions, to the government he had created, always a foolish, gilded slave. He had once permitted himself to believe that he was in control of the motions, that he commanded this machine of state, but nothing could be further from the truth, he was as enslaved to it as his prisoners.

    He had killed so many in his time, so many had been sacrificed to his eternal vigilance, it was all too much to bear. The trigger never got harder to pull, the stains never got harder to remove, the fear only became harder to sate. The vigilance was on constant prowl against every enemy of the state, every threat was destroyed methodically and completely.

    It was too much to bear.

    The rifle was awkwardly positioned and his fingers could barely reach to the trigger to push it down, but he already knew they would reach, they always did.

    Lightning flashed against the ageless stones of the castle.

    The trigger was always too easy to pull.
     
  3. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Yukon
    So who's still alive?
     
  4. EffingPrancer

    EffingPrancer Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
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    :sigh:

    Thanks for being the only person here or at poly to reply to the story, and if you look in the tradition of my stories before I made the new account, I have a habit of killing off my characters. (See, most noteably The Best Friend, Stains of Blood and Ash and Unrelated Matters (The last being a directly civ story) Yes, I made a clean sweep of this one, meh, it was really an all or nothing story, as soon as he killed the first of his compatriots the death of the second was essential, as soon as they were both dead corruption and guilt were inevitable and how better could I show how remorseful for his corruption my character was than to have him shoot himself?

    It seemed fitting.
     
  5. shady milkman

    shady milkman eternal

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    Purty good!
     
  6. EffingPrancer

    EffingPrancer Chieftain

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    Thanks Milkman,
     
  7. 502nd PIR

    502nd PIR Rise to Empire

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    Feb 20, 2006
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    Ky.
    You know, you should keep going with this. Whos gonna be the main character now, if anyone?
     
  8. carmen510

    carmen510 Deity

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    This is nice. BTW, wut Civ game is this based on?
     
  9. Tribute

    Tribute Not Sarcastic

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    You DO know that if someone hasn't replied to this in a year, or even logged onto CivFanatics for a long while, such replies ought to be considered spam?
     

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