March 13th, 2024, according to Charles' Calendar
»For the sake of all the lives that were lost, we cannot stop now. We have come so far, further than any of us could have imagined, further than anyone ever expected us to make it. So, in the name of all those you hold dear, I command you to charge!«
Shouting and cheering was heard all the way up to the Pariah, and the comms were flooded with sounds as even the officers couldn't withold their excitement. Soon enough, the rebels charged from the ghettos into the city proper. They were only part of the plan, though. The rebellion hadn't gotten this far with just frontal assaults. Quite the contrary, it was the first time they could actualy afford one. The Imperial Legion was occupied with the massive amount of infantry – much bigger than they had expected, since so much of the ghetto's population had joined the rebels that were dispatched to draw the Legion's attention. Meanwhile, Commanders Darvil, Shing and McKalin directed their artilery and more heavily armed detachments along each of the three main roads leading towards the center of the city.
»This is special detachment A, we are just a few clicks away from out target. Ready to engage, over.«
»This is special detachment C, same thing. Can we go now?«
»It's B. Ready when you are.«
»Understood. All SDs, engage.«
There was a renewed wave of screaming from the city as half a dozen airships appeared in the skies over Carthage.
»This is Admiral Hideyoshi. As you can clearly see, our fleet is in place. We need only wait for the SDs to complete their objectives, then we can commence the bombardment.«
The comunication channels of the rebel army were full of such reports, and finally, Nero could relax. With a few extra orders, he left the bridge of the Armored Mobile Airbase Pariah, their most heavily armored but least armed airship, and retired to his quarters. It was a giant of a vessel, and a pinnacle of technology. No one but Nero himself knew how the rebels had funds for such a monster, nor who had supplied it. It was kept off the front lines though. Most of their supplies were stored in it, and their entire chain of command depended on it. It was their greatest asset and their one weakness at the same time in this decisive battle, and Nero was determined not to let the Empire exploit his Achilies' Heel. Closing the door to his room behind him, Nero slumped on a couch and brushed his ebony hair off his face.
»Finally. I tought you'd stay out there till the battle was over,« said a woman, who exited the adjacent bathroom. She didn't look very remarkable, quite plain in fact. Brown hair extending just under her shoulders, and dull grey eyes staring off a slightly flat, freckled face. A face easy to forget. She was dressed in man's bathrobe, with an intricate E etched on the left breast.
»Sorry for borrowing your clothes again, Ethan, mine are still in washing. You never wear this stuff anyway.«
»I'll be going back shortly, as soon as the special detachments complete their tasks. And I've told you not to call me that.« He seemed to think for a moment before he continued. »Your clothing difficulties might be solved if you finally decide to act like a normal person and buy more than one set of clothes. For god's sake, every man in the ghettos has a wider selection than you, and you're a woman!«
»Hence true. What did you want, anyway? You know I can't stand you, Elena.«
»You can't stand anyone, it's who you are. What happens when they find out? What you really are? You'd be chased with pitchforks and torches, as it were.«
»They won't. There's no way they could unless you tell them. And even if they do, they're so much inferior to me they couldn't touch me no matter how hard they tried. They're so blinded by their emotions they don't even see it. They feel my superiority and follow my every command, and decieve themselves with the illusion of democracy.«
»Oh how nice it is to glimpse under your mask once in a while,« Elena said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. »Everyone else thinks you're all grand gestures, magnificent speeches and dramatics, but all you are is a liar.« There was a note of badly covered spite in her voice, even hatred.
The man smiled.
»You're right, that is indeed what I am. But I also love dramatics.« Nero stood up, and winked at her with his amber eyes.
»In fact, I shall take care of some right now.«
Half way to the bridge, he was stopped by a grinning officer. His red hair was a mess, and his uniform was unbuttoned. For god's sake…
»Good news, Marshal, sir! We're ready to blow the anti aircraft installation and the main power lines sky high! Let's just hope the debris doesn't hit our ships when we advance.« He laughed aloud at his own joke. Nero tried hard to keep a straight face, though in truth, he was incredibly irritated by the man. He was just too alive. These were the moments he really hated the charade he'd put on.
»Very good. I'll head for the bridge and issue the command now, you can go and…do whatever it is you do. Carry on.«
Alex laughed once more. For Nero, it a was very, very irritating sound.
»That's why I love you, bro. You're the only one around here without a stick up his ass ever since we became this big.«
What did he just call me? »I can never be serious around you, Alex,« he said, and left the man to figure that one out himself.
Pushing open the doors to the airship's main bridge, he strode in in a way that made everyone's eyes turn towards him. His self-confidence seemed to be spilling over, and it drew all the attention to him. Just like he liked it. He gave a curt nod to a woman sitting at a nearby console, and she said a few words into a microphone. After a short pause, she noded back at him.
Nero felt a familiar tingling in his spine, that always appeared when he felt in absolute control of a situation. The pleasant feeling made a grin plaster on his face, and he raised both his arms.
»Ladies and gentlemen. We have Carthage on a silver platter. Contact the admiral; let Demon's Flight, the 1st Rebel Air Battalion advance!«
Deafening applause rang troughout the Pariah, those more eloquent standing up as they clapped, those less so banging their feet against the floor. Nero didn't mind the chaos for once – it was his chaos, after all. Made by him, for him.
It was two long hours of bombardment and shooting before they recieved the news they all so wished to hear – all the strategic locations in the city were taken by their troops, the Imperial forces were all but destroyed, and Admiral Hideyoshi's flagship had landed in the central square, right in front of the main government office. Rebels and citizens of the Empire alike watched, on captured TV stations, as the rebellion's crossed out flag was raised above the building. Their victory was absolute.
Except it wasn't. Carthage was a collosal coastal metropolis, once famous and rich because of it's incredible port. Now, no one used ships anymore. They were outperformed on every level by their airborne brethren. No one used them. Except for Teagan Adrian Balerion, Heir Apparent of the Blacklight Empire. His personal Legion included submarines. Specificaly, water-to-land and water-to-air rocket bombardment submarines. The work it took Nero and his rebel force two years to achieve was undone in mere minutes, as the city – and themselves – burned. And that is how the Carthage Rebellion was extinguished on it's second birthday, right in the place of it's birth. With fire.
Alright, I hope this set the atmosphere for the rest of the story. It's going to be slightly steampunk-y, slightly futuristic, with some elements of both science fictions and fantasy, hence the categories. I warn you now, this is not going to be a happy story. Far from that. It's going to bring up some very true topics which most people don't like to talk about, but I'm not going to spoil what they are. If you've ever watched Code Geass, know that it was one of my heaviest inspirations for this story. Then again, so was everything else I've ever read/watched. :P
For now, the only major character I've introduced is Nero/Ethan, but the girl from the intro is also going to play a major role. I hope you've already noticed Nero is not a very good person, even though he's doing (arguably) good things. What follows will be much more character-centered, there won't be big battles or politics or anything like that. Those will be in the background, and we'll just see the effect they have on people not directly involved. Unless of course, I decide otherwise. ;)