In the year 999 PWM, there was uprising in Maranda. The westernmost nation of the Vectorian continent, she had became a part of Vector's empire fifty years ago when Emperor Charles Palazzo, the newly-crowned ruler of Vector, ordered an invasion of the country. In six months, the Marandan resistance crumbled, and Vector began the process of occupation.
By 999, the influences of foreign nations sparking the seeds revolution had spread to Maranda. The government in Vector ordered a crackdown, and arrests were made. By late September, the government was sure the threat had passed, and withdrew troops from Maranda to take part in an exercise in Tzen.
On October the 4th, a force of rebel fighters and rogue Marandan Militiamen attacked government and military targets, including the parliament, where the members were in session along with the commanders of the Milita and the Vectorian garrison in the capital. Surprise was almost total. Thousands of rebels descended upon the parliament building, massacring the two hundred soldiers there and capturing the high command.
The fighting occurred within a hundred miles of the city, and having captured many commanders and surrounded garrisons, the rebels were soon contesting most major towns and cities in that area. Troops outside the area of the fighting could not act, given no warning nor orders to move in. The rebels also managed to prevent the summoning of reinforcements, tapping the telegraph network to stop anything escaping the city or any smaller garrison outside.
The rebels had not reckoned with the skill of the Vectorian soldier, nor of their commanders. Though high command were held prisoner, other officers quickly took command of their troops and rallied defences. Rebel objectives were to seize control and fortify the capital in the hopes of sparking fighting throughout the country, as well as getting the rest of the militia onside. Their initial successes turned to frustration as pockets of resistance formed, besieged Vectorians fighting back with a ferocity the rebels had not expected from surrounded fighters who were left with surrender or death as the only options. And it would be the woman in command of a garrison of a hundred and fifty soldiers at the city hall of Maranda that would ultimately prove to be the downfall of the revolt.
October 4th 999, Maranda City Hall.
Bullets slammed off the walls of the seat of regional government, the setting sun bathing the city in a ruddy sheen to compliment the crimson stains spilled on her streets. The white-marble structure was now pocked with damage from gunfire and explosives, having sustained a determined attack for three hours by the rebels. However, the rebels had poor marksmanship, and any point where their hail of fire subsided allowed Imperial troops the precious window through which to return fire.
Colonel Celes Chere was currently waiting on such a lull at a second floor window, a former office now empty of furniture that had been sent to barricade the entrances. She wore the same olive green uniform as any other Vectorian soldier, except unlike the others, she had no helmet to cover her long blonde hair. Two automatic pistols in her hands, her rifle was exhausted of ammunition and a private had been sent to the stores in the basement to grab more. Another three soldiers including a grenadier were in the cover of the room as the thuds of bullets on the walls subsided.
She looked down into the streets below with the shaving mirror that the quartermasters had rather densely forgot to leave out of her kit. But as an officer of the Vectorian army and a Magitek knight, she had put the shaving kit to different use. The mirror was excellent for seeing around corners, and the straight razor could come in handy. She had struggled to think of a use for the brush but had kept a hold of it anyway, as commissioned officer or no, losing kit you'd been issued was an offence no matter how useless. Not since the academy, when she had helped play a prank on Cadet Simonson had she ever been disciplined, and she had no intentions of getting three lashes in the barracks assembly yard, though having lost her helmet out the window from being flung down by an explosion, she had a feeling she would find herself stripped to the waste and getting those lashes when this was over. If she lived.
The shapes in the square belowand puffs of smoke from rifles shifted towards a different part of the building, though a few still were aimed the way of the office. They would never all look away, so they had to risk it.
'Now!' Celes screamed, spinning away from the wall and aiming both pistols out the window that had been beside her. She fired off a burst of rounds as the semi-automatic rifles in the hands of her troops loosed off rapid volleys into the rebel fighters in the streets below and buildings opposite. The grenadier fired a single shell, the fizzing grenade arcing into a third floor window of a building opposite. The soldiers took cover again as the rebels moved their fire towards their position. Dust from bullet impacts on the walls opposite windows began to fill the room as the defenders reloaded.
More gunfire erupted from upstairs and across the building, the defenders there seizing the chance. The private sent for ammo ran through the doorway, his head crouched low. He tossed a satchel full of ammunition boxes into the wall beside him as he threw himself down between the grenadier and his colonel.
'Report, soldier,' Celes ordered as she dragged an ammunition crate towards her. She and the private began reloading a pile of empty magazines piled up below the window, keeping their heads down as far as possible.
'Colonel, we're holding out, but Sergeant Archer says that we're out of magazines. Got plenty of ammo left but the trouble is everyone's came and grabbed the pre-loaded mags and no spare ammo crates.'
'I told everyone to marshal ammo and leave loaded magazines spare in the basement for emergencies. Oh well. No luck on a spare helmet?'
'No ma'am,' the private yelled over the din of battle as he tossed a loaded magazine to a soldier on the other side of the room.
'Damn. Well, not worth losing my head over,' she commented as she slapped the magazine she had loaded into her rifle. 'How's Lieutenant Barnes getting on?'
'She's had no luck ma'am, every telegraph lines severed and she can't get anyone onto the roof to use signal lights.'
Eliza Barnes was the communications officer, a young rookie just out of the academy a few weeks before, and a fellow Magitek knight. Her speciality was fire-based magic, as opposed to Celes and her ice spells.
Celes was thinking this through as the building shook, and a blast echoed through the dusk air.
'What the hell was that?' the grenadier asked. Celes grabbed her mirror and looked out. Milita Magitek walkers. Light Vm-3's armed only with twenty-five millimetre magitek beam cannons and on occasion a heavy machine gun, they could still make very large holes in the walls.
'Fuck. Corporal Peters,' she ordered the grenadier. 'Take any chance you get to grenade those walkers. The rest of you, aim for the pilots.'
She stood up carefully, then dived towards the door just as a hail of machinegun fire tore into the office.
'Where are you going, ma'am?' the private by the window asked.
'The roof with Lieutenant Barnes. Keep them distracted until we can zap the damn walkers,' she shouted, crawling on her hands and knees out of the door as more bullets ripped into the walls.
She picked herself up in the corridor and ran to the stairwell, almost thrown down it by an explosion in a room she ran past, but she steadied herself on the top banister as the dust billowed out.
'Anyone injured in there? ' she shouted between coughs. The four men inside splutter their negative replies, and she moved up the stairs to the third floor.
The corridor here was a mess. Many of the rebel firework launchers, crude and inaccurate shoulder launched rocket propelled explosives, had been aimed here to try and answer the concentrations of grenadiers here. The result had been great craters ripped into masonry and ceilings by rockets that entered windows or slammed off the walls, and not an insignificant number of casualties. She picked her way quickly but carefully over the rubble, still crouched down as bullets pinged off the roof above her until she reached the conference room where Eliza Barnes and her four Communications Battalion technicians were holed up. The telegraph wires might have been severed, but the cipher booklets and other signalling equipment needed to be guarded.
'Colonel...' Barnes began, standing to salute. Celes quickly reminded the brunette rookie of battlefield procedure.
'When this is over, you can salute me again, Lieutenant. We've got a slight problem. Magitek walkers.'
'Magitek? But how, ma'am?'
'Militia markings, so that's a good clue. There's at least three light walkers out at the front of the building,' she said, this information punctuated by another tremor and explosion.
'What do we do, ma'am?'
Celes looked at the four technicians.
'You three,' she said, pointing at the three closest men. 'You and the lieutenant are coming with me to the roof. And you,' she said, pointing at the last man. 'You're staying here to protect the cipher books and I'm borrowing your helmet.'
The roof was above the fourth floor, and was unusually exposed, for the city hall was flanked on the north and east sides by taller buildings. What I wouldn't give to have the idiot city planner who let that happen in my hands, Celes fumed as the door leading to the roof rattled as gunfire pinged off it. Three riflemen stood at the bottom of the stairs, in case any of the rebels ever found a way onto the roof. The roof itself was likely to be a killing ground for anyone left in the open for too long.
One of the communications men threw the door open, and dived back as a volley of shots slammed into the area around it. He scrambled back down the stairwell as a series of firework launcher shells slammed into entrance to the roof, kicking up a thick cloud of dust.
'On three, you move up behind me and start firing at anything in the buildings out there. Barnes, you stay on me the whole time.' Celes ordered, rifle in her hands and pistols tucked into her belt.
On one, she jumped halfway up the stairs. On two, she was running for the door. On three, the rest followed. Celes raced across the roof with Barnes in tow, the rebel bullets slamming into the roof all around her. As she dived behind the cover of chimney stacks, one round pinged off her helmet, vindicating her procurement of the helmet from the technician. Barnes had thrown herself down and slid into the cover of the chimney stacks.
'Now we just need to get to the edge of the roof,' Celes muttered, looking at the cover-free five meters that separated her from her destination. Another rumble as the Magitek armour fired again from the square. Then an idea struck her. The wind was flowing towards the roof's edge.
'Barnes. I'm going to freeze that chimney,' she pointed. 'When I do, cast weak fire spells on it until we have some steam to hide behind.'
'Yes ma'am,' the junior officer complied. A few icy blasts later and the chimney stack was an iceberg. It took only a few puffs of flame for water vapour to begin filling the air. A few moments later, thick clouds coated the area, and Celes raced out of cover, Barnes following behind her.
The two threw themselves flat on the roof at the edge, and peered down to see four light walkers in the square below. A fifth and sixth walker had been destroyed by grenadier fire, and one of the standing walkers now had a man who seemed to be struggling to figure out what to do with the vehicle piloting from a blood stained cockpit.
'Fry the two on the left, I'll take the right,' the colonel ordered. A second later, two bolts of flame and a concentrated blast of ice tore into the walkers below. The two Barnes had struck were ignited, the crewmen diving from the walkers ablaze from head to toe as the magitek fuel went up. The walker Celes had targeted was covered in icicles, its crewman sitting up frozen solid. She used her left hand to freeze the second as she fired a few pot shots at the first with a pistol in her right hand. The metal, and the man, shattered like glass. She noted that she had caught a pair of rebel fighters in the blast of her second freezing attack, a woman and a man flash frozen as they stared at the fate of the first walker. Celes didn't bother shattering them or the second walker, but a shot from the building struck the male as she stood back up to make her way back into cover.
She and Barnes raced back into cover, the steam cloud dissipating and the rebel snipers realising what the cloud had meant. But then came a sound Celes had not expected to hear. Rapid fire volleys from within the building, aimed out. She and Barnes raced back to the stairs, a few bullets pinging harmlessly off the slates around them once more. They found only the technicians.
'Where are the riflemen?' Celes demanded to know.
'Ma'am, rebels are retreating. You and the lieutenant scared the shit out of them,' one reported. 'A Sergeant across the way yelled for the riflemen to assist in picking off the rebels as they ran.
'Alight. Barnes, find someone to help you get the roof clear and get signalling for anyone who might see us. I'm going downstairs to sweep up.'
Five minutes later, Celes had collected together a platoon of men, and had made her way to the front hall of the building. The barricade had been shunted aside, and a squad of riflemen manned the door and windows. Two of them opened the door carefully, the Imperials running out of the building with rifles raised to fire if needed.
The once-beautiful square in front of the city hall was now in ruins. The grass was marked with small craters and littered with bodies, the water of the fountain had turned red from the three dead rebels floating in it. The marble statues in the square had been blasted into rubble, and the bronze sculptures were scarred with bullet impacts. The two burning magitek walkers still poured thick smoke into the sky, and the frozen ones stood, the cold mist gently flowing down them to the ground, with the shattered remains of the first walker billowing fog. The frozen rebel man who had been shot had shattered above the waist, and the woman still stood with her frozen eyes staring in shock at the remains of the shattered war walker. A wounded rebel lying by the base of a damaged statue nearby saw the Vectorians, and threw his hands in the air. Rifles were raised, but Celes ordered them to wait. She walked past the frozen woman, and fired a single shot from her pistol into the other walker as she neared the man. As the frozen walker smashed, she kicked the rifle lying at the wounded man's feet away.
'Tell me, rebel, have your comrades retreated?' Celes said, kneeling beside him. He groaned in pain. She rammed the muzzle of her pistol into a bullet wound in his stomach, eliciting an anguished scream.
'Yes!' he yelled, as she drew the gun back and pointed it at his face, his blood dripping off the slide.
'What is your name?'
'Go fuck yourself, you imperial witch!' the man said. A mistake. Celes shot him in the knee, causing another scream.
'Witch? Why do you compliment me, rebel?'
He gasped in pain at his latest injury, and only replied as Celes moved the pistol towards the new wound.
'Because you froze Sara and Edwin solid! I saw you!'
Celes stared into his eyes, and the man's blood ran cold.
'You knew these traitors?'
'Yes,' he replied, having learned his lesson in the preceding few moments. 'They were to be married next month!'
Celes replied with her face showing no trace of emotion, chilling the wounded rebel further.
'Fitting they should both be killed in the same manner, but foolish for them to betray their country. They were traitors, just like you. And the penalty for treason is a harsh one,' she said, and without turning to look, pointed the gun behind her shot the frozen woman twice. As her remains fell apart, the man's eyes widened in horror. He then spat in the Colonel's face.
'You heartless fucking whore!' he screamed. Celes wiped the man's outburst from her face, and stood up, levelling the pistol into his face.
'Rebel, I am a soldier. Not some weeping opera floozy. Your friends committed the act of treason and have died for it, as will you.'
'Then kill me now!' the man screamed in defiance.
'As you wish,' Celes replied, firing once more. The man slumped down, a hole between his eyes.
The Imperials searched through the dead bodies, executing any wounded they found. Celes walked back to the front entrance of the city hall, a technician greeting her.
'Colonel, Lieutenant Barnes has got in touch with someone!' he proudly announced. Celes ran up the stairs to the roof in under a minute.
'What do you have, Eliza?' Celes said as she reached the roof. The lieutenant and her men were sitting by a signalling light pointing northeast, and another light was flashing back about a half mile away. One sat by the machine, another was making notes on a map of the city, and the third was noting the flashes from the distant allied position. Barnes sat reading the notes, and did not turn to Celes to make the reply so as to read what was being said out.
'We have a Major Gregory Townes of the Marine Corps holed up in the Vector Road barracks. He says he's been in contact with a few other garrisons across the city, but so far no one higher ranking than a Sergeant Major has been in charge.'
'What's his status?'
'He says he has been unable to get his cavalry out of the barracks for fear of the rebels rushing the gates if he tries to open them.'
'And what are the other garrisons?'
'Sergeant Major Jonas Jackrum is in Emperor Charles Pallazzo Square holed up with the seventh cavalry squadron and an infantry company. Corporal Ellaine Anderson is over at the Victory Street Recruitment Office, her captain and all the sergeants have been incapacitated. And Sergeant Bill Blackie is over at the Watch House at Gregorian Avenue.'
Celes looked at the map.
'Well, Townes is closest. Barnes. I'm taking half the men and leaving you in command here. Round up rebel weapons and leave them at the outer offices, and when I leave, shut the place up tight behind me. We're going to go liberate the cavalry and then start taking the city back.'
Barnes saluted. Celes didn't point out that it wasn't over yet until she had returned it. She passed the borrowed helmet back to the technician, and collected together a platoon's worth of men. As she began to march her column towards the Marines barracks, she saw a round green shape lying in the road, and picked up the steel helmet. The leather lining inside was marked 'Col. C. Chere,' and she pulled the helmet back on. She'd escaped the lash at least, she mused. Now to survive the battle.
'Move along, men! You'd think you wanted to live forever!' she barked at her platoon, and they began marching faster. The march soon reached the Marine barracks without incident, and Colonel Chere led her men to charge the enemy from the rear, giving no quarter, no mercy, and taking no surrender. She'd take this city back in the name of The Emperor Ghesthal or die trying. And if she did, she expected Major Townes to resume and complete her mission with the same approach.
'For Vector!' she screamed, firing her rifle from the hip as she and her men charged the shocked rebel soldiers. They barely had time to turn before they were cut down, and the gates of the barracks opened to allow the Magitek armour there to roll out, and Colonel Celes Chere began the first steps towards stopping the insurgency.
All That Glitters Is Cold 4 Fanfic Competition
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