Her Highness, Jessica Marshal went forth in search of her family. Lost in the chaos, she made a deal with a white raven.
Washington D.C 2064
I never once believed in miracles. Even when his naval fleet broke through the colossal mushroom clouds. Even when he emerged untouched by the ball of fire. I refuse to believe it and now for the second time he has showed me a revelation. My cousin the first American Emperor has returned. From where I do not know. He comes back to us as youthful and magnetic as the day the people of this country tore his body apart. When I finally fell asleep that night after seeing him with my own eyes. His crystal desert eyes glared red on a field of flame: a vengeful gaze. I fell into a dream state. My feet stood on a bed of quicksand. I wore these wool robes. Clothing I would ever put on. But I could then see into the future. The ground below me begin to sink. Pulling me down I did not have long to see. But I envisioned enough.
To be clear, it will not be by his divine word to command but my own. My moral code to hold on to life will be twisted. He will use me to cast below the first corpse beneath an all consuming fire pit. Because he knows i will do anything to keep my people from total annihilation. He will use that famous charm of his on me to think of the many instead of the few. Like the day I hailed him my Emperor I wanted to believe in his promised American future. We all did Daniel, Dylan, Bardera, Hallie, President Matthew, a quarter of 238 million souls snuffed out. Because I did not act when Dylan and Daniel warned me about his madness. I chose to abandon the Constitution for my families survival. America has profoundly changed because of my choice. I have changed with it. I will not choose one or the other again.
Yet my fear will not leave me alone for he can still with one hand hold my family hostage and the other America, Europe, and Asia. Persuading me with charismatic speech. Asking which of these shall I sacrifice. Kaleb will be the last to have suffered from that terrible dungeon. I promised him I would forever close that hell once and for all. I promised the world.
Yet still there’s a question I have not found the answer too. What of the the white raven? What part does it have to play in all this. I am at the center of world politics. It can’t be a coincidence it has found me. This mythical bird scars me. The moment I saw it perched on a tree. I knew nothing good followed it. Yet the pale raven predicted I would see my son again. My son Adam the younger would be in my arms alive. Would he this bird have the power to take him away? Will this demon use that threat against me. I have little doubt. I promised this creature time. I signed his deal and now i have no time of my own
SEVEN DAYS IN DECEMBER
I pace in a circle like a nervous wreck at the new palace entrance as my worry for the future worsened. I am nervous. Yet I do not care if my staff see me like this. The stakes are too high for a miss step. Charles my love come home quickly.
Without any of the usual pomp and ceremony a United states president is accustomed too. Charles Power simply walked alone and met me by the top of the palace staircase. Answering my prayers.
Monday – Jessica’s Private State Bedchamber
“Emperor Kaleb turned tyrannical for a grass crown to escape hell on earth your majesty. And if he had grown up in another family I bet he would have bothered with it. Jessica I never wanted you to continue the monarchy. To solely guide a nation with such immense history. things are so different from seven years ago. it was Augustus who enticed us all to absolute monarchy. This was supposedly his destiny. Out of chaos into order. Yet when your time came on that beautiful day, I saw you for the first time. Your imperial majesty broke the Grass crown in half. You did what no other could. Not even I could. Yet your green eyes told me a different story than Kaleb or Augustus ever did. you are a selfless mother and a great judge of character. A proven leader. The peoples protector. However, I knew you felt something else was coming on the day of your coronation. With the prayers said and the orb, and state staff were handed to you and you read your oath. You added a line that wasn’t in the original oath. “I will fight to my dying breath for the soul of humanity.” But you never said a word after that. Nothing in your planning gave hint of the coming danger. No policy shift nor a change in defense. Nothing to protect your people. The question begs, why?”
“To everything there is a time, and my time has come. The white raven warned me years ago.”
Charles looked at me with confusion. He turns to take a seat on his side of the bed. My answer made no sense to him. I never shared with him about the talking raven that led me back to My son.
“A raven spoke to you? is that a metaphor?”
“Humanity will not just survive but remember.”
“Remember what? that they were the survivors. The lucky ones?”
“The solders are hailing him as the Ruler of the World. I have no authority.”
His anger towards me cools.
“your majesty i don’t know if I have the right words. — After meeting him again after so long thinking he was dead. I do not recognize this Augustus he reminds me of something else. I remember during my campaign in Somalia. Perhaps I may know some of what your saying. Weeks after I joined Augustus ranks. I saw a bird. A white bird. It could talk as well. it had this extraordinary bright aura, But I was dehydrated I could have been imaging it. the Somalia heat can be unbearable. but when I was with Augustus just now, I felt the same presence back in Africa. And you say a white raven spoke to you. Told you his time will come soon?”
“yes, what did it tell you.” We’re we both doomed?
“It said to me. Does might equal right? And if it does why do you fight? What will you do with the time given?”
“What did you say back?”
“Nothing I was in shock a bird was talking to me in the desert.”
I sat back in bed with Charles our long silence said it all. So I told him what I knew. “There could be a packed between a fallen Angel and my family. Something Tristen let out or made a deal to gain absolute power. but what did it want in return? Having read his dairy’s before the ally bombs destroyed the original library back in 2047 there seems to be no clear answer. So far the white raven has only helped me save my son. Was that done to trick me? to giving up something I had no idea I could give away. My birth right!? What did Tristen promise it? And what of Charles what did it want with him? Did it show him the future? Did Augustus make a deal with the White Raven too?
“Augustus looked the other way as tens of millions of people were secretly sent to the death camp. we were all to busy fighting to conquer the world. I will admit for my self as did Augustus we had no time for Domestic troubles. Well before he went mad after Famkes death he knew. Yet I believed in this mans dream. To make America safe.
“Charles. we both saw the documents. The signatures; Famke and Augustus sending them all to death. we all knew what a monster she was. We just looked away from the biggest monster because we believed in him.”
We were both clearly uncomfortable with the nostalgia for our leader. A best friend and a cousin being a massive murder was unthinkable to us. For me I still hasn’t come to terms with Augustus betrayal. The conversation left a bitter taste in our mouths. And our voice cracks. When we talked about the past. Until I finally said, “I will not argue with you.” I stepped closer to the fire. And gave thought to what kind of world we now lived in. Where magic, demons, angels and even God existed. Charles moved on and focused on what he could make sense of.
“Did we ever find the entire body?”
“What’s left of his body? by what could be found the doctors said his body was ripped into large parts just his right hand, leg and head were found. the full body couldn’t be recovered.”
“Were is the body now?”
“He’s more like a shadow now.”
“What do we do your majesty?”
“Nothing he controls the guards. All 10,000 of them. Not loyal to me. Those are his soldiers his men he bled with and shared victories with. He conquered the world not me. Who am I compared against all that might and history? Charles you must speak with the commanders. You are just as great of a leader as Augustus. You can turn them to our side. We can’t just do nothing. Who do you think will be signing the death warrants? I will.”
I fell over and Charles immediately caught me by the waist. “His schedule says he will be in the grand throne room tonight. All the leaders of Asia and Europe will be in attendance to mark the ceremony to crown his new title.”
“He already has a schedule. Talk about seizing control.”
Feeling my strength return I centered myself. I let my energy relax within me and paused to think on what to do next.
“We can strike him for all to witness his mortality.” Charles came out and said it what was clear from the start. But I had everything to lose.
“That’s Suicide what about my son. You sure he can die a second time? you said it yourself he’s not Augustus and if he’s not my cousin who is he? A real demon out of the bible?”
“Whoever he is he will have to die tonight. Leave it any longer and the rest of the nation, the world your son will be sent to the Countryside.”
“If it has to be done. I will do it. You must live on if I fail! protect my son Charles he’s only a boy.”
“Your family always comes first for you your majesty. But what if it’s your family that needs you? Could they live with out you? And being there strength. You are as ever bit as charismatic as he was Jessica. Use it”
“Thank you Charles, I always think about my family and you. If the world is to end tonight let him die first. I do not go to my death willing. I go because I must. If not me then who? How could I put another person through this. How selfish of me. No!”
“Well I hope your majesty has been taking her gun lessons seriously?”
“Well find out tonight my love. I’ll use whatever I can to stop his darkness.”
“For the Constitution and the People of America your majesty.”
I left the US president my husband to make the necessary arrangements. in the case I do not make it. The new federal government is to fight until the last man. To call on anyone able to hold up a weapon. We all must win. It was not unheard of to see even child soldiers fight in the fourth world war. Charles promised he could rise the army in my favor. But I knew Augustus; him and his father had a hold over the military. He knew their language. Charles does have Congress they will back him that I am sure. His father, congressmen Joe Power will stand up for the constitution. But the courts are still all Augustus appointments. Famke’s appointments I mean. I swear that girl wasn’t human. The courts have been loyal but how will they vote when their Divine Emperor a brutal dictator. Worse than anything I imaged Jane capable of being commands they vote in his favor?
The future is so uncertain. Yet I did not stop him when I saw him leave. To tell Charles how much I loved him. that were having a baby. I pray he makes it back alive.
As I started my way back to my apartments. I could see down a four column hall way my personal body guards approach me. They hail me once I’m just feet from them.
“Hail your imperial majesty”
“You been summoned to his Divine majesty’s private apartments.”
“I have little time the Prince will be returning soon. Tell his Majesty I will see him at the ceremony.”
Augustus Old Quarters
The hallway leading to Augustus private residence had a dreary air. As if something burnt. All along the hall perish small vintage lamps. like a gentleman’s lounge. it has been so many years. This place is an exact copy. I remember being in his father’s study. On an unannounced visit to confront Jane. I begged and screamed demanding she condemn the calls to civil War. but even in my anger Tristan study stood out. I remember a lot of brown. Augustus was always there playing navy war games and reading with his father. Tristan had a vast library. The Marshal collection. mostly American naval history. I never really thought about it until now. just how much they were a like. Where there any books about how to commit mass genocide?
His gilded door is opened slightly. Letting go a peak of light from a candle flame. I enter knowing he had been expecting me. he sat on a wooden throne. Carved out of some black oak. His clothing confuses me. I had never seen Augustus in a dark suit. A black slick shine with a red tie. Black wingtip shoes. He cut an Infallible picture. in this moment i only felt the need to serve him. obey his every word. it was the natural order of things. an inner voice tells me. its his voice I can hear him in my head. is this the voice of god? His New title scares me. Ruler of the World. How do I deal with a mad man? to kill my own cousin. One of my own family tonight.
“Majesty welcome. What brings you to me? The ceremony is not for another few hours.”
“Your divine majesty you sent for me? Excuse me don’t know what to call you. Majesty or my lord, God. We have not had a moment to discuss the future?”
“Indeed, however you need not concern yourself with such formalities between monarchs. But I remember why I sent for you.”
“Well dear cousin what is your next adventure. Staying long?”
“No after tonight I will be setting my capital in New Jerusalem. Just until there is more living space. perhaps one day I can bring you. For now you must Govern on here. Yet there is a problem which is why you are here.”
“it will be my honor cousin. But what is the problem?” I truly am at a loss. He seems human. I hear that strong voice at the end of each of his sentences. That added weight to signal his authority. His will to power in himself showed with all his small theatrical gestures and even in his speech vocals. What will he ask me to do? The thought makes me worry for the future of my son.
“If you will allow me cousin first, I know how close you were to Kelab, I am deeply sorry for your loss. He was not meant for the throne. Time seems to be the enemy of all rulers”
“Cousin, I have little time myself. My son will be leaving for his studies soon. i must go. Please what problem do you have?”
“Prince Adam our empires next emperor. The one you would go to the abyss and back for. I admire your passion to protect our families dynasty Cousin. Through you the Marshal dynasty will last one thousand years. But to business since you are already here. I was going to announce this mandate at the ceremony. But now is as good a time as any. On my desk you will find the names of the new criminals first to be relocated away from the Master race.”
“Augustus, who is the master race?”
“There’s not enough space here. I promised my people paradise. And these criminals have no place in the cities. The countryside will do them good. The open air will set them free.”
“The Countryside… No, please cousin you can’t.” in that moment i fell. the crash to the floor hurt my knees but i ignored the pain. I felt completely helpless in front of him.
And as if I was use to the sight I witnessed bursting flames of golden brown light setting off tunneling straight into the pupil of his eyes and he spoke,
“Your majesty is informed. As the Sovereign you will be faced with tough choices. yet you must make them. To preserve order…. you may take the list with you and think it over with Charles your consort. However, come to me after the ceremony with your answer. I want to start building before the end of spring.
With double the heat of flames of golden brown tunneling into his eyes. I knew then the world was coming to an end.
The Offices of the Perfect of the Guard
I walked out, I ran far, I picked up my son from his Greek lessons. I sent my loyal handmaiden to tell Charles to return at once. With all the earths satellites destroyed during the wars, GPS, wireless phones, and computer connections ended. As a result, basic communication took a few decades back. Leaving me with few options.,
I need someone I could trust. to ease my anxiety. i need family. The captain of my guard: my younger brother Adam the first.
His headquarters are found near what was once the Naval harbor district in Washington D.C. Now the once thriving town lay a city of desert 20th century buildings. The new compound Loomed over the city like a black shadow. Though its former evils have been abolished. The anxiety of such an intimidating institution eats at my confidence as my motorcade approaches.
“I am the commander of your guard. I’m sworn to keep you alive. I cannot do that if you do not tell me immediately about the dead rising in the imperial palace. However, this does confirm one thing your majesty.”
“What Adam what is it. what have you found?”
“The death camp it’s in operation again and it looks like it’s been running this whole time in a new location. There are these Trains. Where they come from I do not know. They are heavily used to transport mass amounts of people in a short period of time. But as soon as they pick up there cargo they just disappear. My spies have lost the tracks. I can’t trust no one with this information. I have little to no paper trails. the question is how did imperial FEMA keep it from us? We have more spies then Europe and Asia combined.”
“How did you find out about it?”
“I uncovered documents signed by Emperor Kaleb to reopen and refund the countryside. The old documents were being handled by a government employee about to toss Kalebs final orders in the trash not thinking it had value. thank god for my quick reaction. I’ve been keeping an almost constant eye on the state funds. During our cousins reign. The budget for the death camp was estimated at 550 billion. And when you signed the liberty proclamation two years ago all funding stopped. yet in just this year trillions of dollars have gone missing form the treasury. With care and caution i found a secret budget. That was signed by Kelab 8 days before your majesty took the throne. This document proves where the money is going. This money ran exclusively to Imperial FEMA. A black budget outside anyone’s approval or knowledge but it has Augustus seal. This is the only document that proves it. You want to know why you ever have funding for infrastructure? The budget as of today reaches above five trillion.”
“Augustus towards the end went insane. Yet Imperial FEMEA answered to him alone or did they? Why would they stop now if he’s back? Kaleb would never sign such a document he made him sign it. I will be asked to do the same. That spirit gave me a black list.”
“No let me see it” Adam reads the Imperial FEMA containment list for criminals ordered to the countryside.
“I’m Supposed to give him my signature by tonight. what am I to do without risking everyone?”
The Countryside a notorious death camp. Built by Emperor Augustus but really it was his beloved sister that made it all come to life. I toured that horrible black dungeon in the fall of 2062 the day after it closed. there is evil there. I felt it in the small spaces, the cramped brick and wood barracks, Hallie didn’t deserve to die in a place like that. the filthy hospitals, The pit burners a real black abyss on earth. I wanted to fait right there, but the prince needs me. I cannot let this Demon win. i wanted anyone to just tell me what action i should take.
“Half the world is on this list, He ran his eyes up and down to read every name, “there will be only half a thousand left,” he searched his mind for a way out, “we can do what we can.” Adam said leaving me to wonder. Would he sign the warrant?
“I won’t sacrifice anyone.”
“So, you’ll let the whole world burn!”
“There has to be another way. I will not destroy everything I built.”
I cannot bare to look at my brother. To see the expression of doubt, compromise, I find myself almost wanting to sign it. Dry the ink on that devilish paper and be done with it. I signed the deal with that raven calling itself Morningstar. , , Adam will stay safe. He’ll grow up to be a fine statesman. But could I sign it and leave my son to a uncertain future?
“As your Prefect and as a brother please do not make a choice that could cost us everything. Humanities future. This is bigger than us. you know that.”
“I seem to remember a certain police officer who saw an injustice and did something about it. Shooting your Emperor in the head. . . did his death stop anything. Did it count for nothing? Commander I will wait for Charles to return. I’ll make my choice than. whatever I choose captain take care of the prince. Make sure he changes his clothes after basketball practice and eats and not just lay around all day.”
“Very well your majesty i will keep your family safe.”
There’s something else I want you to do.”
“I live to serve your majesty.”
“I want you to go to the FMFA headquarters and shut that place down. Do you have any men left?”
“Just government employees and guards I can not trust.”
“Then you must go alone and put a stop to that evil place. Burn it all! It’s just money! Will find a new system! Take away the funding you take away their means to Bribe those to weak to care about humanities future.”
“I’ll leave at once as soon as I have the prince!”
i Leave my brother to prepare my son for what comes next. I know he will teach him how to rule well as I have ruled.
i by chance make it to the gilded gates of the palace alone I sent my guards and servants home to be with their love ones before the end. Reaching the palace steps I don’t see any prostration guards. Yet The gates open for me and i saw no one through out the palace court yard on patrol. Even the palace butler didn’t come to greet me. The Presidents staff enter the palace minutes after I’ve arrived, but I command Charles secret service agents guards to stand with me. Soldiers only loyal to Charles.
815pm– the imperial palace
I embrace Charles on his return. My loyal friend tells me he didn’t venture far. knowing I would need him. I grip him tight allowing time for his staff to get the hint and leave us. To my surprise the Ruler of The World greeted him just as we met. they embraced as old friends. I sent no signal of our meeting here. Did Adam fail me? Did Charles make a deal with the white raven to? My staff would never betray me. There were no cameras, flash photographers or any reporters following behind the president’s team. It took me and Charles a moment to realize this. They were the first go to the Countryside it seems. Even the praetorian guards were gone. The streets of the palace grounds are Terrifyingly isolated. I’ve only been gone a few hours. I had a chance to gaze up at the night sky. the moons crimson shine over a field of dim star light. Gave me a chill down my back. The two exchanged memories and walked into the rebuilt capital palace: Great America.
“Excuse me Sire, I need to borrow my husband for a moment before the ceremony starts.”
With a quick hook of my right arm i rope Charles to me.
“Pardon us your divine majesty. it would seem my Sovereign needs her president.”
“yes, Charles and I must discuss my decision.”
A burning ring of flames brighten his eyes than cools to reveal Augustus famous golden-brown pupils.
“Of course, cousin. i hope to see you both at the ceremony.” the Ruler of the World said and allows us to be alone. Does he know I plan to kill him?
Jessica’s Private Quarter’s
I light my fireplace. I enjoy the cracking of wood to fire in December. Sparking orange embers to fly. it became one of my favorite routines in the cold palace. A cup of hot coco and a warm blanket by the fire. Even Adam enjoyed nights by the fire. We would sit for hours enjoying the warmth.
I wait, I do not want to be to first to speak but i know he wants to show respect. to allow his Empress the space to be the leader she needs to be. but I feel like a fraud. Who can I help now? I am just a figure head to a psychopath or worse a real demon.
“July 18th, 2 years ago, you came to me with a problem. i want you to walk through your decision in your mind with me. See what path led you to your answer. Use your experience to your advantage.”
“The first elected President Andrew P. Gas the first elected President after the fourth world war and Augustus reign the man i sentenced to life in prison. For trying to reopen the Countryside. but it was not easy coming to that judgment. I had just abolished state and private prisons and out lawed the death penalty. The army wanted him sent there to see the horror. The people also called for his death and they voted for him. They actually demanded it! They wanted to give him a taste of where he sent people. They banged on my palace gates! Calling and shouting!! Kill him. Now! His wicked! Off with his head! Might makes right! On that day in my study as I heard their protest. While I hovered over the case minutes away from all out rebellion. I was having conflict with my decision. Yet in the swirl of chaos I swore I saw them than.”
“what are you saying to me?”
“I’m not crazy Charles, I saw Augustus appear before me right when I made my choice. He came in like a full flesh specter. Dressed in a fine Fleet Admirals uniform. the pitch-black cotton pressed to fit well for a Marshal. Augustus inherited a regal stance. A teat learned from his mother. he did not say a word to me. With his hands already dry with blood he took my signature pin and signed his name on the death warrant. Soon followed Famke and just behind him his stepmother Jane.
“They all had a totalitarian nature. Have you ever heard of President Lincoln? He once said, ‘if you want to test a man give him power.’ A person’s true nature always shows itself in the end.” Charles said to me reassuring me he understood the burned of high office.
I broke, my knees claimed down on my body weight as if I weighted a ton. The choice i am faced with. why must i bare this. I don’t want to be Empress, but I remembered who got me through it.
“you saved me. you helped me make the right choice. without you. . .”
“your saying you would be like them? they had a choice. They did not listen to anyone you did. Augustus had a lot of good generals and he didn’t listen.”
“Kaleb survived the Countryside and came back to refund it. Charles, I cannot sign the warrant. I won’t.”
“I know you won’t. The choice will always be there. Make it every time. Trust in yourself Jess you will make the right one again and save us all. Now your majesty The Ruler of the World is expecting us for the ceremony . I must go and entertain the world leaders while you create the show that will end this drama.”
“What about a plan?” Jessica said.
“you were right. His control over the army is to strong. It will be up to us to get in close. Don’t worry I won’t get into trouble. Not without seeing my daughter born first.”
“you know? wait how do you know it’s a girl?”
Doctor Bright told me just before he boarded the train. See you when I get back?”
“Your daughter and I are looking forward to it.”
He knows about the trains. What are we going to do?As Charles went his way to Augustus. I used a hidden passageway linking my room with all the rooms in the palace. it was a classic Augustus design. only i knew it survived the damages. I will use my sniper to take him out at a distance. but in my heart I know the king of the earth will know I’m there. I gave it a quick I don’t care thought and unlatch my hidden door.
I enter quietly. The ceremony hall is dark as a cave, but I can make out the lit fireplace a few portraits on the walls and his empty throne. yet he was not here. if not here, where? I search the palace which felt empty the more I roamed. the throne room. His chair is gone. My mind races. like a mouse on a spinning wheel.
In the reconstruction of the new palace. I gave the order to remove the design of a royal hall leading 8 doors down to the throne room. Now the imperial palace has one entrance. shorting the grander of the palace space. i made it more attainable to my people. This palace has the same blueprint as the first palace. if I start from the entrance room doors leasing from the throne room, I will have seven doors to go to reach the imperial chapel. Just pass the divide statue of Augustus.The final hall Center One which houses the nuclear weapons room. Should still be there. I pray the bombs are not. And it’s halls are empty.
I unlatch the last hidden door and i find myself saying the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
As i finish, I make it to the last doors. applying some pressure with my hands. I am quickly swung into a large hall. the doors easily open for me. Not a shade of light splashed the ceiling or walls nor half the length of the hall. I almost felt like i stood in the middle of football stadium in the dark. But it wasn’t so nearly pitch black that I could still make out the interior. A little further in I began to see a beam of color peak out in the distance. Like yellow rays of the sun as if it was mid-day. Not long before I reach it, I see massive iron gates thin as branches on a thin tree. I saw no gate lock so, I with only the thoughts of raising a family with Charles unlatch the gate door and enter the heart of a wonderful garden