The Valkyrie War (Act 2)

With war officially declared on Merope, the tension between the humans and the kree is greater than ever, with Amelia and Ellisia stuck in the middle of it all. They promised to stay together no matter what and without any secrets, but as more secrets are revealed, the pressure mounts and when King James starts his plan in motion, they will find that it's not as easy as they had hoped. With the battle lines forming and sides being chosen, will the two ever have the happy, quiet life they so desire? Or will their differences be far too great to handle and force them to turn against each other? Don't miss the epic second act and conclusion to this beautifully tragic love story, of the star-crossed lovers, born from different worlds.

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6. When Everything Ends, the Toll is Paid, and the Angel of Death Shall Rise

         As the sun rises, a warm and brilliant light shines down on Armenia and the entirety of the West Province. It’s a beautiful, peaceful day; seeming to suggest peaceful days are ahead, or perhaps…it’s the calm before the storm. The people in the West Kingdom are none the wiser either way and so they go about their normal days, as they always have done.

          Outside the gates, in the peaceful meadow that Liam so loved, Delia Foster stands before his grave. She had him buried in this place, as she knew it was his most favorite place, full of memories, even from his own childhood. That’s the reasoning she gave when she insisted the Kingdom hand his body over to her, rather than have him buried by them, and the Queen was so gracious as to oblige. Delia felt no gratitude of course, for how could she possibly be grateful to the mercy of her beloved’s murderer? As far as she was concerned, this act was something the Queen ought to do, as penance for her sin; though it’s still not enough. No amount of generosity could atone for murdering an innocent man for simply doing his duty of reporting potential threats to the kingdom and who simply wanted to say goodbye to his precious sister. This is precisely why Delia turned down the Queen’s offer of support for her and her child. She didn’t wish for Liam to be laid to rest within the walls of a kingdom that had already taken so much from him and her. She wanted nothing to do with them, which is why she also chose to relinquish her citizenship. She’d rather brave the wilderness and the Kree, than continue to live in a nation that cared nothing about their subjects, but simply craved the power and prestige.

          For the last year, she’s lived outside the walls, in a small, but sufficient house, on the edge of this peaceful meadow, beside the gentle stream. She lives off the land, such that she no longer must depend on the Kingdom and she’s never been happier. Here she lives a simple life with her beloved child; Liam’s final gift to her. As she holds the sleeping child in her arms, she smiles; knowing that she is pure and good and will never know the corruption of the kingdom or have to face the threat of the Kree. She still cannot bring herself to accept the Kree or forgive them for stealing her precious Makena away, but she at least understands now that they are not as threatening as she’d always been lead to believe. She’s not sure if it’s chance or Ellisia’s final gesture of penance, but no Kree has ever been spotted in that meadow, despite having been seen inside the walls and outer forest. It’s as if they are somehow in a protective bubble, immune from the war being waged just outside, between the Kingdom and Kree for the last year and a half.

          Only days after Liam’s death and the Queen’s swearing in, the first of the Kree forces arrived outside their walls. The Kingdom responded promptly, expecting the retaliation, which also confirmed what they’d already assumed, Elli had taken her throne, and now commanded the Kree army. Over the following months, the Kree forces kept coming and the Kingdom continued fighting back, never allowing them to infiltrate their walls. The losses have been dealt on both sides, so it seems no one has the upper hand, but there appears to be no end in sight. Somehow however, Delia has been able to avoid this conflict and keep her darling Lilah safe and shielded.

          She stands there peacefully for quite a while, but then she suddenly senses someone approaching from behind. However, almost like an intuition, she knows that the presence is harmless, if not a nuisance. They stop once they are standing beside Delia, but say nothing.

“You have some nerve showing up now, after all of this time. I should kill you right where you stand, but I would rather not taint his grave and betray his wishes that way. Just know that I blame you for this and I will never forgive you, even if it’s what he wanted. You will never be welcome here and I want you to stay away from this child; the only piece of him I have left. He might resent me for it from beyond the grave, but I refuse to put her life in danger as it seems death always seems to find those involved with you. My Makena, then Liam, I won’t let her be next. You can hate me if you want, I don’t care. I’ll do anything I must to protect her.” Delia says all of this without ever turning her head, and finally, her visitor speaks with a hoarse tone.

“I know. I’m sorry for showing up now, and never coming sooner, but honestly, I didn’t think I deserved it. It is my fault and I take full responsibility. I’ll never forgive myself either, but that’s why I’ve set out to make it right. I plan to avenge him, but what comes next goes far beyond simple vengeance. Everything is about to change, in a terrible way and the only reason I came here today was to warn you. I beg of you to stay home and don’t leave for anything. This is all I can do for you in penance, but I promise as long as you stay inside, no harm will come to you or your child. It’s not enough, but this is my atonement to both you and Liam and my final gift.”

“You’re right, it’s not enough. Nothing will ever be enough, but I suppose that’s neither here or there. Why do you sound so intense though? It almost seems as though you plan on dying.” Elli is silent and Delia lightly gasps, understanding her reasons. “I see. Well, I wish you the best.”

“If you understand, then I hope you’ll allow me to offer one more gift, for you and your girl.”

Delia finally turns to face her and is surprised at what she sees. It’s only been 18 months, yet Elli seems to have matured so much from how she remembers her. Her long mahogany hair that was once neatly curled and trimmed, now falls down the center of her back and is wild and unrefined. This matches her now broad face and serious expression and her burnt orange, lightly speckled eyes seem to burn brighter than ever, their intensity commanding. Despite looking so tough, she’s retained very feminine features and is beautiful as ever. Finishing her look, is skin tight leather pants, and a fitted leather blazer with various adornments and futuristic design, complemented with tall, leather boots with a slight heel. Delia can see that this is not the Elli she used to know, but rather Empress Ellisia. However, she’s not intimidated by her in the slightest and bluntly says, “we don’t want or need anything from you. I think you should just leave.”

“I will leave, I promise, but please, I want her to have this.” She removes the locket from around her neck and holds it out to her as it dangles. “This locket was Liam’s final gift to me and in it, is our most precious memory. I thought that it might be nice for your daughter to have, as a way to remember Liam and I in a way she’ll never get to know. It’ll be a memento of sorts, of having a connection to the two people she never had the chance to meet and to know. If you wish, you can throw it away, burn it or just hide it away such that she’ll never see it, but either way, I want to pass it on to you. It won’t be of any use to me where I’m going. Please just take it, Delia.”

Delia stares at the locket for a while and then after a deep sigh, she takes it. “Fine, as long as you can promise you’ll never come back here or ever try to contact either of us again, I’ll allow her to have it. I suppose she should at least know she had a sister, well, two actually.”

Elli can see her expression become sad, as she thinks about Makena and so she’s genuinely happy to tell her about her final gift to her. “Thank you. Before I go though, there’s one more thing. A gift for you, I think you’ll find it very comforting.”

“I doubt there’s anything you could give me that would comfort me unless you can bring the dead back to life. Just leave already, please. You’re making this really hard for me.” She sobs.

“I’m sorry Delia, I’ll leave now. Your gift doesn’t really need an introduction anyway.” Elli turns and walks away, giving someone a signal. She doesn’t look back, as she’s already decided that she won’t let herself lose her resolve. She will do what she must, to end all of this.

Delia sobs, but manages to hold back her tears, but then hears someone call out gently, “mom?”

Delia turns around quickly, expecting to see a ghost or just accept that she’s crazy and hearing voices, but finds that it’s neither. Standing before her is Makena, the daughter she thought she’d never see again. She stares at her, noticing her filled out, mature face, sharp green eyes and her long red hair, pulled back in a ponytail. She wears black leggings, with a grey tank tucked inside and a black jacket over that, finishing her outfit with short boots. She may be older now and seems to have matured a lot, but no doubt, this is her Makena. “Maki, you’re alive? How?”

Careful not to crush her baby sister, Makena hugs her snuggly. “That’s not important right now Mama, I just want to see you. Can I stay with you guys for just a little while?” She finds herself getting chocked up, not realizing just how much she missed her mother until now. Knowing this could be the last time she sees her, it’s really difficult, but it’s how it has to be.

Delia hugs her back and her tears finally break free, her voice breaking as she says, “of course you can! You’re always welcome here. This is your home too and it always will be.” They hug and cry together, both filling a void; one which had been unfulfilled for far too long, with love.

*** “The Capital Building”, Merope- Outside the West Province, Fall Year 2530 ***

          Elli enters the Capital Building, where the council presides, walking confidently, determined to see her plan through. She’s already met with them regarding the matter when she first took command, but now that the day has arrived, she wants to confirm that they are still on board. Though this is merely a formality as the plan has already been set in motion and is going to happen whether they are ready or not. “Empress, welcome back! After your meeting with the council, you’ve got your address to the citizens, then your briefing with the Valkyrie Unit.”

“Yes, I’m aware. Thank you, Kamui, I’ll be sure to get on those as soon as I can.” Kamui, is Chief of Public Relations and Official Secretary to the Empress, so he’s tasked with keeping Elli on task and mediating all matters between her subjects and her. She then advises the council with her desires and they have the right to vote on it, and although they have the power to vote against her, they never have. They’ve come to trust her judgment just as well as they trusted her mother.

Kamui adjusts his glasses and slicks back a strand of his short blond hair. He walks fast, his short legs finding it hard to keep up with Elli’s brisk pace, but he’s not all that short. Elli is just tall. “Those were the planned meetings; however, you’ve also received a meeting request from the Resistance Commander. She’d like to triage and make sure you understand her planned actions.”

“Have the Commander join my meeting with the Valkyrie Unit then, we can discuss everything there. Is there anything else?” Elli doesn’t miss a beat as she passes through various doors.

Kamui reviews his papers, his blood orange, yellow speckled eyes focused. He is pure Kree, so his eyes have slowly been turning to their natural transformed state. A pressing concern for all pure Kree in Merope, which is why she cannot fail in her plan. “You should see your mother.”

Elli finally stops, having finally reached the door to the council and she looks at Kamui with a concerned expression. “Is she that bad? Is she still unable to eat or drink? Has she turned?”

“Not yet, but she’s gotten progressively worse in just days. She can’t eat, drink and she’s now suffering from lucid intervals. It seems her memory lapses from time to time and she’s had moments of paranoia. I honestly don’t know how much longer she has or if she’ll make it.”

Elli sighs, but holds herself together. Although she’s worried, she must stay focused on her duty. “Thank you, Kamui, I’ll be sure to visit her before we head out. Please begin preparation for my conference, I shouldn’t be long here.”

“Yes, of course Empress.” Kamui bows and hurries off to do as she asked.

Elli takes a breath, composes herself and with her game face back on, she pushes open the doors.

“Oh, Empress, we were just talking about you.” Lani, the third Elder addresses Elli with a laugh.

Elli manages a laugh of her own as she replies to the greying old man. “Good things, I hope.”

“Oh yes, of course. I was just telling Mauri how wonderful your plan is, as he seems to be having doubts.” Lani points his scrawny finger at a balding man with a short and chubby stature.

“It’s not that I’m doubting it, it’s more so, I’m concerned of its feasibility. Will it work?”

“Yes, second Elder, I’m confident that it will. I’ve already conferred with my contact and he assures me they’ve been briefed on our plan and they will carry out theirs accordingly.”

“I see. Well, if you’re certain, then I have no reason to doubt you. I’ll leave it to you Konni.”

They both turn to a tall and strict looking woman, with long raven hair and eyes of a similar intensity to Kamui’s. She’s the First and Chief Elder, the oldest living Ancient Kree and so her blood is purer than probably everyone here. She also happens to be Elli’s Great Grandmother.

“Come closer dear, so I can see you better.” She motions Elli forward, and Elli promptly obeys. “Good, now I can see your pretty face. You look so much like your mother in her youth. However, you have your father’s hair and eyes. Such a shame he turned out to be a liar and traitor.” She suddenly bitter. “Though it’s no surprise being he was associated with that bastard who killed my darling daughter and son-in-law. I look forward to hearing of his demise.”

Elli’s expression turns a bit sad. She hates the fact that her father would be lumped in together with the evil incarnate that is James, but she knows that her Great Grandmother would know about these things more than her. She’d like to know more about her father and the circumstances leading up to her abduction, but her mother never told her and she feels it’d be inappropriate to ask. So, she just nods and waits for her to speak again.

Konni’s expression softens and she smiles. “I’m sorry dear, I know no child likes to hear about their parents in such a condescending light, even if it’s true. I imagine you must have a lot of questions and knowing the silly girl that is my granddaughter, I’m sure she hasn’t told you about him. You should ask her when you see her, while you still can. We may not have much time left.” She is of course referring to the fact that all Ancient and pure blood Kree are dying due to the increased exposure to oxygen and depletion of their required nutrient elements. However, the elders are seeing a less dramatic change and are less affected due to their Ancient status, making them far more powerful than even the purest blood Kree of modern generations and because they didn’t expose themselves to the outside. They have a policy to never leave Merope, unlike Evani and most of the other Kree. “Yes, your mother was the silly girl who chose to spend so much time outside and inhale all that oxygen; of course, she’d be in such a state. Foolish!”

Although it sounds as though she’s being quite harsh, Elli knows that she’s actually just concerned for her mother. She finds the ability to smile and say, “yes, I will be sure to ask her grandma. As for the plan, everything is in order. The Smee are set to arrive within the next couple of hours and once they make landfall, we’ll be ready. The Kingdom and they will not know what hit them. I’m going to meet with my team and the Resistance commander, so that we can go over our plan once again and ensure a swift and effective victory. I promise you grandma, I will defeat the Smee, bring down the Kingdom and get us on those ships out of here by night fall. So, I ask that you give me your support along with the other Elders. I won’t fail.”

Konni looks at her for a while then smiles. “You’re approved to carry on. Good luck to you.”

“Thank you, Grandma, Second Elder, Third Elder, I will take my leave now.” Elli turns to go.

“Oh, and Elli.” Konni calls her back. Smiling she says, “I’m so proud of you and thank you.”

Elli smiles and with a bow, takes her leave. Her great grandmother doesn’t often show public affection or praise, but when she does, it’s usually pretty great. It only pushes her forward.

          Elli arrives to the stage, just as Kamui is finishing up with the broadcast manager. “Ah, Empress, you’ve arrived just in time, we’re just done setting up. Are you ready to speak?”

“About as ready as I can be Kamui. Did I ever mention how I dreaded public speaking in class?”

“Once or twice.” He laughs. “Well, if you’re ready Empress, please ascend the stage and take your place at the podium. Just speak into the mic and your voice will be broadcasted across every corner of the city and in every home. You’ll be on camera too, so don’t forget to look at it.”

“Thank you Kamui. You’d make a wonderful public speaking coach. And I keep telling you, just call me Elli. It’s weird hearing you call me Empress all the time. If you’re worried about formalities, then just say Miss Elli. Just stop calling me Empress when speaking to me.”

“If you wish it, then I will obey Emp-, err, I mean Miss Elli.” He smiles nervously.

“You’ll get it eventually I’m sure Kamui. Anyway, wish me luck.”

“Good luck Miss Elli! You’ll do great!” He gives her a thumb up and she simply laughs.

She steps on to the stage and when she reaches the podium, she’s facing a crowd filled with journalists, reporters and a small portion of her citizens, who look a bit uneasy. She knows she must put them at ease first and give them the most hopeful information. She takes a deep breath and at the camera man’s signal, she begins to speak, eloquently, confidently and strongly.

“Good Afternoon everyone, this your Empress speaking. I know that you all are concerned about the state of our empire, the Smee invasion and our future and I hope you know that these concerns have been my highest priority. With that said, I’m happy to report that all three of these concerns will be resolved today and come tomorrow, we will be on our way to a fresh start.” After saying this, the hall erupts in chatter and questions for Elli. “Please, allow me to select you one at a time for questions. I’ll start with you…Kari from the Merope Journal.”

“Empress, is it true that the Smee will be here in just a couple of hours? Are we ready to fight?”

“Yes, it’s true. They are going to be here in less than two hours. But don’t fear, as my team is well prepared to face them and I will personally be joining them in the fight. We’re ready.”

“Who will be here to protect us while you’re gone? What if they are deceiving us. What if as soon as you go to fight their distractions, they send a team here and destroy us as we’d be left completely defenseless. What if the Valkyrie Queen finds her way into our city and infiltrates the council room? They are working with the Smee after all. If she takes them out, we’d have no viable governing body, as we know our previous Empress is in no condition to fight or govern.”

“Please, one question at a time and only one question per person Kani, but I will answer. I assure you, the Smee are not going to be doing any sneak attacks, it’s not their style. They are very direct and want you to know they’re coming for you. So, no worries there. The Valkyrie Queen isn’t a concern, as she’ll be far too busy I’m sure to plan anything so extravagant. I also know she’s not that cunning. She’s also the type to charge in head first, so she’s not going to be sneaky either. Finally, the council isn’t so far removed they couldn’t defend themselves or follow appropriate emergency procedures. My mother isn’t well, as you all are aware, but she’s not dead. As long as she’s still breathing, she’ll never back down from an enemy, so it’s fine.”

“You seem to know quite a bit about the Valkyrie Queen. Is it true you two were lovers?” The murmurs increase at Kani’s question and Elli is annoyed, but doesn’t lose her composure.

“I believe I said one question per person Kani, you’re way over the limit. This is to be your last one. This question also falls under my personal life and so is highly inappropriate to ask, but because I have no reason to hide it, I will answer. Yes, we were together for a time and I like to think I knew her better than anyone else, just as she knew me. However, circumstances have changed things and with how things are now, there’s no way we could ever have a productive relationship. As far as we are concerned, we’ve both stolen a most precious thing from each other and so it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to forgive the other. I personally wish to bring the Queen down myself and will do as such, without hesitation. If you’re worried about my loyalties, please don’t, because I assure you I will not rest until her blood is on my hands. Now, next question please.” That shuts them up pretty well, until finally, another raises their hand. “Poi?”

“Yes, Empress, can you tell us more about your battle strategy and your partnership with the resistance? Do you really believe they can be trusted? They are humans after all.”

“Well, our battle strategy is confidential, for obvious reasons, so I can’t share that, but-.”

“Oh, so are you saying there are traitors in our midst? Your father was a traitor was he not?”

Elli frowns slightly, finding that comment to be out of line, but she knows she must stay poised. “I’m afraid I never knew my father, so I can’t say. As for there being traitors here, I also have no way of knowing, as it’s unlikely they’d make themselves obvious, so again, I won’t say. In regard to our partnership with the resistance, I can assure you that they are very much on our side and hate the kingdom just as much as we do, if not more in some respects. They’ve been working with us closely over the last two years and are going to be quite helpful in the upcoming operation. So, yes, they are humans, but despite what you all may believe and even what my own mother may have felt in the past, humans can be good. I grew up with them my whole life, and although there are clearly bad seeds, most are actually noble, kind and trustworthy. I’ll take just one more question, so make it a good one that actually pertains to a valid concern please. “Yui?”

“What happens if you die? I hope you don’t find this rude, but I feel it’s a legitimate concern. If you die, we’ll have no capable ruler, as your mother isn’t well as you’ve mentioned and you have no heir. I, of course, hope you will return to us Empress, but what happens if you don’t? Moreover, what if you fall before stopping the Smee? We’ll be either enslaved or destroyed.”

Elli pauses, realizing it is a valid concern and one she hadn’t really thought of an answer to. She’d already prepared herself for the high possibility she wouldn’t make it back, but she hadn’t thought about who might take over. She realizes however, that no matter what she knows may be possible, she must reassure her people and so she decides to take the confident approach. “I believe in the integrity of this plan and my team so well, that I don’t think that’ll be a concern. I have every intention of returning to our home. But, if worse comes to worse, I’ll ensure that I have a suitable replacement. Please believe in me and our fight. Now, I must go correspond with my team and prepare for battle, so please excuse me. Thank you and please take care today.” Elli steps down of the podium, and off the stage, finally taking a sigh of relief. “That was rough.”

“You did great though Miss Elli! I thought you answered those curveballs really well.”

“Thank you Kamui, I appreciate the compliment. Anyway, I need to be heading to the briefing room now, don’t I? Has the Resistance commander already arrived and joined the others? I’d like us to debrief quickly so that I have time to visit my mother before we head out.”

“Yes, Miss Elli, she and her partner have. They are all gathered in the briefing room now.”

“Ok, great. I’ll head over now then. See you later Kamui.”

“See you later Miss Elli.” He waves goodbye and hurries off to take care of his tedious work.

          Elli arrives to the briefing room and enters to find Makena straddling Navi on her lap, as they kiss and playfully bite each other. They straighten up once Elli enters the room. “Oh, please don’t stop on my account, carry on. Maybe you’ll be able to get a quick one in before the others arrive.” She laughs, always finding it fun to tease them when she finds them in such compromising positions, which is often she might add. They have clearly worked out their fears.

Navi blushes and bashfully says, “sorry Elli, we got a bit carried away.”

Makena scoffs. “Don’t apologize Navi, it’s no big deal. We’re all adults here now and we’ve all had sex. If you had Amelia or even Alice around, you’d be doing the same thing I bet.”

“You have no respect for my position in any capacity do you Makena? Well, I’m not surprised.”

“Oh, did someone call my name?” Alice comes waltzing in with her usual eccentric fashion. “If we’re talking about sex, I’d like to join in. It’s my favorite topic. You get me, right Elli?”

She winks at Elli, who just rolls her eyes and says, “and I thought Amelia was a clingy girl.”

“Wow, that was harsh Elli, but I’ll forgive you. Can’t stay mad at someone so good at-.”

“Ok, point taken. I don’t want to hear about your sexual encounters with Elli any more than you guys want to see Mak and I make out. We’ll be more mindful from now on.” Navi’s repulsed.

“I wasn’t trying to make a point though, I was serious. Besides, it’s not like we’ve done anything since that short period of time Elli and Amelia broke up the first time. She won’t do anything with me, not even after all this time. How she can go a year and a half without sex is crazy.”

“It’s called being busy Alice, but I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that.” She smirks.

“It’s also called being in love.” They all turn their attention to Clara and Almyra, who enter the room together. Clara continues with, “if you think it’s impossible to go so long without such intimacy, it’s likely you’ve never experienced true love Alice. When you love someone, you can wait a lifetime for them and no one else will ever be good enough. I’m sure Elli understands.”

Elli gives her a glance, but chooses not to respond. So, Clara continues. “She’s being coy, but I know she does. Also, I don’t want to hear anything from you about a year and a half. If you think that’s impressive, try 20 years. Wait that long, then you can complain. You, young things.”

The four youngsters look on in shock, even Elli. She’s certainly maintained without that intimacy for this much time, but even she is unsure she could hold out for that long. Makena, as usual, speaks out. “Wow, so you waited 20 years for Almyra to return? Damn, you must love her.”

Clara laughs. “Of course, I do. From the day, I “died”, I decided to live celibate, believing that I’d either return to my husband, who sadly died soon after me as it were, or to Almyra. Fate was kind to me, as I’d begun to lose hope.” She smiles at Almyra and holds her hand.

Almyra returns the gesture and adds, “yes, I’m sure she loves me as much as I love her. I may not have had to go quite so long, but to be without your true love is still difficult. So, we truly were blessed to find ourselves back together.” They smile at each other.

Clara kisses her hand and then turns to Elli. “Should we begin then?”

“Yes, as soon as Johan and Amy arrive, we can begin. I wonder where they are?”

Just as she asks this, they come rushing inside. “Sorry we’re late. We lost track of time.”

Seeing how flushed they were, no one needed to ask and no one really wanted to. So, Elli simply gets down to business. “Ok, so the Smee should be arriving within an hour to attack. We have to be ready to move when they do, so that we can catch our targets while they are most vulnerable and sneak inside the compound. We’ll take down the nobles first, but our main target is of course the King and mine is Amelia. I don’t really care who manages to take out James, as long as he’s taken down. However, no one is to touch Amelia, because she’s mine to take down. Once we’ve taken the compound, we will focus our attention to the Smee. We will lure them to the compound, like moths to a flame. Once they’ve all gathered there, we’ll make our escape and drop that bomb right on their unsuspecting heads. Once they’re all dead, we’ll pack up in their ships and be on our way to our new home by nightfall. The Kingdom will be in shambles, the Smee will no longer be a threat and James will be dead and if it goes well, Amelia too.”

Almyra looks uncomfortable, but says nothing. Instead, Clara says, “how can we be so sure they will attack the Kingdom and not us? Also, are we sure these bombs of yours will work?”

“I know they will attack the Kingdom because I asked them to personally.” Everyone is shocked.

“Well, this is news to us. When did you do this?” Clara asks this.

“Not long after I took over. I got in touch with that Author or whatever, and made a deal with the Smee through him. We agreed that if they attacked the Kingdom, rather than us, ultimately turning against James, I’d relinquish our empire to them and let them take over rule.”

Now Navi speaks. “What?! Elli, you’d seriously do such a thing? How could you do that?”

“What’s the problem? It’s not like I plan to actually give them that, it was just a plan. That’s where the bombs come in. If they work as they’ve been shown to work, the Smee will be blasted with so much pure oxygen, that they couldn’t possibly survive. That’s why we need them gathered in the compound, a central location. I have absolute faith in our scientists and know it’ll work. Their ships will then be left open for us to take and fly back to their home planet, which they’ve all but abandoned. Their ruler is with the coming forces and so once he’s dead, their citizens will have no ruler. That’s where we come in. We’ll arrive and make peace with them. We’ll help integrate our societies and live out our time on their planet. That solves the concern of our impending doom and the pure Kree dying out, and keeps us safe from human aggression.”

“Your mother was on board with all of this? I really can’t believe that.” Navi is visibly upset.

“Believe it Navi, it’s true.” Everyone is surprised to see Evani make an entrance. She’s weak, but she stands tall and determined. “I believe in Elli’s plan and fully support it. I know it’ll work.” No one can dispute her and so they are silent. Evani turns to Elli now. “I have a request though.”

“Of course, Mama, whatever you want.” Elli holds her in support. “What is it?”

“I want to be the one to kill James. I can’t rest until I’ve avenged my parents. Please Elli.”

Elli can see how much she wants it and she can understand why. So, without hesitation, she says, “yes, I’ll leave him to you Mama. Johan can carry you, can’t you Johan?” She looks at him.

“Yes, I can. I’d be honored to.” Johan has come a long way, but is very loyal to the cause.

“I’ll make sure she gets to him safely.” Amy speaks, also having had a big change of strength.

“Thank you, Amy, Johan. Navi, are you and Mak good with clearing our way through the compound? I suspect most of the guards will preoccupied with the attack, but the ones closest to the royals will surely stick around. I need you guys to take them out for us, so we can get to where we need to go and see the people we need to see. Actually Alice, can you help them?”

“Of course, I’ll help, but when it’s time to split up, I’m going with you, no matter what.”

Elli sighs, but knows she’s not going to change her mind, so she doesn’t even try. “Fine.”

“If I may, may I make my appearance first. I can be a good distraction to them, as seeing me alive will be something they won’t expect. It’ll make it easier for you. Perhaps Clara can be my escort inside? We can distract them while you all take out the guards. How’s that sound?”

“Well, I think it sounds like a great idea and naturally I’ll escort you. I’d kill to see James’ face when we come strolling in there together. I think it’ll make things much easier, right Elli?”

She hadn’t thought of that approach, but she must admit, it’s actually quite good. It would help a lot. “Ok, I agree, it would be a good idea, so let’s go with that. I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting past the guards, you are Queen after all. Well, you used to be, so I’m sure that still carries some weight. I guess that just leaves your team Mom. I assume the resistance unit will be taking care of the Smee outside and make sure we’re not interrupted? So, that just leaves the bombs.”

“I’ll take care of that Elli.” Garrett walks in. “They haven’t found me out yet, so I can still move around the compound freely. I can steal the chopper, and drop them right on their heads, provided they are in the garden, which is the designated congregation spot, correct?”

“Yes, that’s right Garrett, we plan to lure them all to the garden, to celebrate their victory. I think it’d be the perfect way to manage it. However, I hope you understand how important of a job this will be Garrett, are you sure you can handle it? If you were to fail, you will doom us all.”

“I understand Elli and I promise I will not fail, even if it costs me my life, I will succeed.”

Elli can see he’s quite determined and so she doesn’t question him further. “Very well, then it seems we’ve covered everything. Let’s get ready to head out everyone. We leave in thirty.”

They all start to disperse, however, Almyra remains behind for a moment and pulls Elli to the side. “Elli, I’m sorry and I know it’s wrong to ask, but do you think you could somehow refrain from killing Amelia. I know she did a terrible thing, but I really don’t think death is her deserved punishment. Especially with how things have been over this last year or so, I think she’s found redemption. Even Clara agrees that death might be too harsh and Liam was her actual son.”

“Oh, so are you are saying Liam wasn’t my actual brother?”

“No, that’s not what I meant.”

“Regardless, it doesn’t really matter if she agrees or not. She’d probably agree with anything you said anyway. The fact is, Amelia did something unspeakable and so I think death is exactly what she deserves. I can’t think of a single reason she deserves to live, so you can ask, but the answer is no. Now please, prepare yourself for the operation at hand. Excuse me.”

Elli walks away, leaving Almyra to feel the sting of her burn. However, she can’t be angry because she knows that Elli’s feelings are justified. Clara comes over and says, “don’t worry darling, I’m sure that when she sees the full picture and actually faces her, she’ll do the right thing. Let’s have faith in Elli, yea?” Clara smiles supportively at Almyra and she nods.

“Yes, I will believe in her. Let us go now, we have to get ready.” They leave together.

Only Elli and Evani remain in the room. Elli walks over to her mother. “Mama, you should rest a bit longer. I’ll come get you when it’s time to go. I’ll walk you back to your room.”

“My, how I’ve fallen; to have my child taking care of me like I’m hers.” Elli looks guilty. “Oh, don’t look so sad child, it was a joke. Seriously though, I’m ok. I can already feel my strength returning in anticipation of having my revenge. I totally understand your feelings toward Amelia and understand why you wish to kill her. No matter what you do in the end, as long as it’s your choice, that’s what matters.” She smiles at Elli supportively and Elli smiles back.

Elli hesitates for a moment, but finally finds the courage to say it, knowing it’s now or never. “Mama, will you tell me about my Father?” She looks down, scared how she might react.

However, when she looks up, Evani is smiling and says, “I thought you’d never ask. Come.” She guides them to a couple of chairs, where they sit together. “I’m sure you’ve heard your Great Grandma go on about how he was a traitor and more, right?” Elli nods and Evani laughs. “Grandma always did have a harsh way with words. She’s not wrong though, he really did betray us and he did lie. However, he wasn’t as heartless as you may have been led to believe. Your father was a kind man and I genuinely fell in love with him as he did me. When I got pregnant with you, he was so ecstatic and never stopped even on the day you were born. However, it was on that day that he came clean about who he really was and how James had tasked him with courting me and getting me to give birth to a Demikri child. I was hurt, naturally, but he said he decided he wouldn’t go through with it. He planned to stay with me and raise you together here. However, when he realized how special you were, he felt that we needed to share you with the Queen, so that maybe we could work towards peace. However, I refused because I knew James would find a way to use you for his own evil schemes, but your father didn’t get that. So, he stole you away a few days later, leaving a single note, saying he’d return after securing peace. I had him pursued and appropriately punished for his crime, but they were unable to find you. That’s how you ended up being found by Liam and how everything had come to pass. Your father did a terrible thing, but I never doubted that he genuinely loved me and you. He was so loving with you for those few days and I’m sure right up until the end. So, no matter what you may hear others say about him, just know that he loved you so much and that you are a lot like him.”

Elli starts to cry and Evani hugs her. “Thank you, Mama, for telling me. I love you, so much.”

“I love you too Elli and I’m so proud of you and the Empress you’ve become. I was impressed with how you handled that conference and just how you’ve generally been running our empire. I have no qualms about leaving it all in your hands, no matter where we may end up. Even up there, I know you’ll be an amazing leader and I’ll be forever proud of you, my Angeli.”

“Mama, you make it sound like you’re not planning on surviving. Once we get to space, you-.”

Evani shakes her head. “I’m not going with you Elli. You and I both know I’m not going to make it and even if I could, I still won’t be going. I’m going to settle things with James and I know that there’s only one possible way. I don’t expect you to understand, but we have a history that neither of us can escape, nor run from. So, we’ll have to embrace it together, as it consumes us. In a way, I think you can understand with your feelings for Amelia, or you will at least.”

Elli isn’t sure she quite understands, but she realizes this is probably one of those things she doesn’t need to understand, just accept. Although she’s sad, she knows her mother is not one to back out of her commitments and always has a reason for everything she does. She’ll just be with her as long as possible and share in their love until the end comes. “I know we’ll succeed Mama. I’ll make sure you’ll be able to rest in peace knowing our race will live on.” Evani nods, happily.

                  *** “The Royal Estate”, Garmin-The West Province, Fall Year 2530 ***

          “Queen Amelia, hello! It’s an honor to finally meet you. I’ve heard great things!”

“Thank you. The honor is mine I’m sure. I’ve heard a lot about you too Mrs. Dene. It’s thanks to your brilliant command of the C.G.S.I that we’ve been able to get such a handle on the Kree.”

“Well yes, we do our best to keep the environment pollution free, but it still takes a competent ruler to utilize the benefit and keep the Kree at bay. Of the four provinces, the West has historically had the fewest Kree incidents and least sightings. It all began with your grandmother and your mother followed splendidly and now you are on track to be just as amazing. With only over a year of experience and having to take the helm at such a young age in the middle of a war, dare I say you will surpass your mother? We could be seeing the birth of a whole new legacy right before our very eyes and not even know it. You should be proud of yourself.”

“I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I appreciate the compliment Mrs. Dene. I do my best.”

“And I couldn’t be prouder of her.” James joins their conversation, placing his arm around Amelia’s shoulders. “She’s being modest, but she is amazing and is even better than her dearly departed mother was in many ways. I know she’d be just as proud of her if she was here.”

The all look somber for a moment. However, they mood is lifted again when the live band begins to play. Suddenly, several guests come up to Amelia, all asking for a dance; guys and girls.

“I can’t dance, but thank you everyone. Please continue to enjoy the party.” Amelia backs away.

They continue to insist, until finally James runs interference. “I’m sorry everyone, but the Queen has some important matters to discuss with the general now, so please excuse us.” He takes her hand and escorts her away and inside the estate, having been outside in the garden just now.

Amelia can finally take a breather once they are away from everyone. “Whose idea was it to have a War’s End Ball again?” She laughs as she looks at her father, who was the culprit. “It’s not even over yet Papa. Don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself a bit? Even if the Kree forces have decreased significantly as they grow weak, they might still have some surprises. We shouldn’t celebrate until after our attack team has successfully infiltrated their city and eliminated their Empress.” She pauses momentarily, but then continues. “Any news yet from the sleeper unit? Have the Kree been making any suspicious moves at all? Is Spencer back yet?”

“I am my Queen.” Spencer walks in, dressed in fancy military garments fit only for a general. “I’ve just corresponded with the sleeper units who have returned and they report that no unusual activity has occurred recently and that the Kree seem to have almost given up. The fact that they haven’t attacked in days, signifies their forces are weakened to the point that fighting may be impossible. At this point, I’d imagined they’ve switched from offensive to defensive. So, if we were going to attack, it seems now is prime time. To that end, the attack forces are prepared.”

“Hmm, I see.” Amelia thinks about all that Spencer has said. She doesn’t doubt him, as he’s been an excellent soldier and now general as of this month, but she has an uneasy feeling. Somehow, she feels like they might be jumping the gun in a lot of ways. She considers postponing the raid, but she knows her father would disapprove and that it’d be inconvenient for all the soldiers and others who’ve been working so hard to prepare for this day. So instead she says, “let’s prepare for battle then. I’ll go change my outfit and meet you at the compound gates. Have all the units loaded up in the vans, I shall not be long.” Amelia nods to them both and takes her leave.

“Wow, she’s really grown up,” spencer says with a smile. “Though, I guess I have too huh?”

James pats his back. “Yes, you certainly have. You’re not such a mild-mannered kid anymore, even if your look hasn’t changed much. You’ve certainly grown into your manhood and if I ever had doubts, I’m certain that you’ve got what it takes to be a noble. So, that being said, I’ll see to it that you are officially instated as such when this is all over. Then you’ll have more freedom.”

James winks at Spencer and in return, he blushes slightly, understanding his implication. Being given the title of a noble will change everything for him, including his relationship with Toby. He’ll finally have the right and ability to stand beside him as an equal and they won’t have to hide anymore. He’s been waiting for this day for so long. It’s this alone that pushes him forward.

“I will do my best Sir. Now, I should go and have everyone loaded up in those vans.” He bows.

“Very well. Good luck General.” James watches as he goes and once he’s gone, a man comes out of hiding. James turns to face the man, with his brown hair and green eyes, wearing a trench coat. “Ah, Mr. Author, there you are. Have you come to get a front row seat to the big event. Should be happening any moment now, isn’t, that right?”

The Author grins widely tipping his hat. “For sure, but my story is going to have a bit of a twist.”

James frowns. “What do you mean Mr. Author?”

The Author laughs. “I reckon you shall see momentarily my good King. Please excuse me now.”

“What the hell is that man talking about? Nothing could possibly go wrong at this point.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that dear.”

James freezes at the sound of the familiar voice. Then he laughs. “You just couldn’t stay dead!” He turns around with fury, but is rendered speechless by who else he sees. “You as well?!”

Standing side by side, with intense expressions, Almyra and Clara stare at James. Clara says, “yes, seems we have that trait in common. I just wanted to be here to see your face when today’s guests of honor arrive.” She smirks at him and seeing Almyra’s defiant look, he gets it.

“You know, don’t you? You knew the Smee were coming? What did you do? What did you and that crooked Author do?!” James runs to the window and looks outside. His face suddenly drops and he takes a step back. Hell has just arrived and it’s about to unleash its fury at their doorstep.

          Outside, Spencer is guiding the troops into the transport vehicles, set to take them to the battlefield outside the walls of their province. All of the forces in the West are in these Vans, outside the royal security detail, ready for their final battle. Everyone is anxious, but also excited at the prospect that by nightfall this war will be over and by morning, every last Kree would’ve been wiped from the Earth once and for all. Spencer can’t deny that he’s also a bit excited, but rather because they’ll be no more Kree, he’s excited that they’ll no longer have to fight in a messy war such as this. He can live a more carefree life with Toby, the Kingdom will finally be able to expand past the walls and Amelia will no longer have to rule in such stressful times. Despite what she did back then, when she killed Liam, Amelia hasn’t been corrupted at all. Other’s may believe that, even Toby, but he knows the truth. He knows that what she did has tormented her every night for the last 18 months and that it was the hardest thing she ever had to do. But she knew it was the only thing she could do, in order to get Elli to see that she had to let her go for good. Nothing can go back to how it was before and it’s sad for them both, but it was the only way to assure they both could live and do what was best for their people. In the end, Amelia did what she did for Elli as well as for the good of her people and Spencer respects her for that, even if everyone else has turned against her.

She’s put all that guilt into her motivation to be there for her subjects and keep them safe. Ask any of them and they’ll all say that Amelia truly cares about her people, much more than her father and even mother did. In time, Spencer is sure everyone will see that. The war ending and the growth of their nation will surely give her that chance. However, he secretly hopes that somehow, Elli will also be able to find salvation for her people and get to live, though that seems to be drifting further and further away. It seems her unfortunate existence has made her destined to never have a happy ending, as fate tends to go. But if it’s them, just maybe, they can defy it.

“Spencer!” Spencer looks up to see Toby waving at him quite animatedly. He waves back. “No! Idiot!” Spencer can only make out snippets of what he’s saying. “Come! Hurry! Dammit!”

“Toby?” Spencer finally realizes that he’s trying to get his attention and call him over. “Oh, you want to see me off? How sweet! Ok, just give me a second!” Spencer loads up one more haul.

“No, you idiot! Listen to me. Come over here right now!” Toby finally realizes that he can’t hear him well and so is ready to throw caution to the wind and go to him, but before he gets the chance, he can see a huge ball of fire, on a straight path to where Spencer is, oblivious. “No!”

Spencer can hear Toby yell and looks his way, to see he’s looking up in fear at something. He turns his head just as a ball of fire appears in his frontal view, just seconds from impact. “Oh.”

There’s a huge explosion and in a matter of seconds, the vans have been decimated and there is only a raging fire. Toby falls to his knees, in shock, feeling as though he’s officially lost everything. “No…why…why didn’t you come to me? Idiot…why?!” He bangs the ground.

“If you feel that way, then you should’ve yelled louder.”

Toby’s head shoots up as he looks to his side. “Spe-Spencer?” He can see that it is indeed Spencer standing before him, though he’s covered in ash and smiles weakly. He falls to the ground and Toby quickly moves to catch him in his arms. He can see from his light breathing, that he’s just unconscious. “How did you make it out of that?” Just then, he catches a glimpse of figures running past him and inside. They’re so quick he can barely look for any he might recognize, but one takes a moment to stop and look back. “Navi?” She grins.

“Now, we’re even.” With that said, she carries on, leaving them alone, enveloped by fire and ash.

Toby hugs Spencer tighter and laughs lightly. He never imagined helping her destroy his father’s mutant army and escape would lead to her helping him so substantially, but he’s glad it did.

          James watches as the explosion takes out every van down below, basically rendering the Kingdom defenseless as the mass of their army was in those vans. James punches the wall and shouts. “Damn you!” He faces the two women. “You two have been a pain in my side since the beginning!” He looks as though he might go insane, but then he begins to laugh. “Fine, you can have my army. They were useless anyway, compared to the Smee forces. You may have tricked them into attacking our units somehow, but no matter how you hinder us, that won’t stop them from taking out the Kree as well. So, even if the Kingdom falls, your precious Kree will too!”

“I don’t think you grasp the situation here James.” Almyra approaches him and to his surprise, gives him a hug. “I did love you James, in my own way. I really hope you know that.”

“What does that matter now? Even if I admit that I also loved you in my own way, will it make a difference? Even if I fail here, I will not rest until I dominate this earth. I’ll even take out the Smee somehow if I must. As long as I’m breathing, I will never stop!” He yells ferociously.

Almyra sighs. “I know. That’s why I’ve come to say goodbye. We will not meet again I fear.”

James laughs. “What’s that supposed to mean? Do you think you and your whore can kill me?”

Almyra lets him go and returns to Clara’s side as she says, “it’s not us you should worry over.”

Just then, Evani walks in, with Johan and Amy’s assistance. She glares at James, who no longer grins, but becomes rather docile. “Eva? You’re here?” He walks closer to her, but stops when Johan and Amy block her defensively. “I see you’ve come to meet my pesky lab rats.”

Johan steps forward aggressively, offended by his quip, but Evani stops him. He backs down. She stands on her own feet now. “Johan, Amy, thank you, but I will take it from here. Please go assist the others.” They look hesitant, but nod and run off to join the others.

Clara grabs Almyra’s hand. “We should be going now too darling, you have another stop, right?”

Almyra nods. “Well then James, this is farewell.” Almyra turns away from him and after a sneer, Clara follows, leaving just James and Evani in the room.

“Well good, not that the trash has left, we can have a sensible discussion. You seem…well Eva.”

“You can cut the pleasantries James, you know why I’m here. You can stop calling me that too. You lost that right when you betrayed me and drove your sword through our parent’s hearts.”

“Oh, come now Eva, you’re still holding that against me? That man wasn’t even your father, so why do you care that he died. As for your mother, I’m sure I did you a favor. She was the fool who first allowed humans into your city again against the council’s advice. She naively believed humans were capable of unity and compassion for those different from themselves. She clearly never learned from the past and she was teaching you those same values. Thanks to me, you learned that humans are naturally scum and deserve nothing more but to be dominated. Our parents didn’t agree of course, so I had no choice. I did it for the greater good and for us. They would’ve never supported our relationship, even if we share no blood, so I made it so that it’d be just you and me. I had planned to conquer the humans and make Kree far superior. I wanted to rule the humans by your side as you ruled over the Kree. We could have ruled this world together, but you ruined that when you sent me away. You caused it to come to this Evani!”

Despite James getting worked up, Evani stays cool and collected. “Yes, you’re right. You and I are the ones to blame for this and so it’s time we put an end to our cursed story, don’t you agree, Love?” She unsheathes her dagger. “It’s just the two of us now James, just as you always wanted. Let us pass through the gates of hell together.” She lunges at him.

He has no choice but to withdraw his sword in defense. “Very well, if you wish it, so it’ll be!”

          Just as Amelia puts on the final piece of her battle suit, she hears loud explosions. Startled, she jumps back, but quickly runs over to the window. However, as her room faces the Ocean, she can’t quite see what’s transpired, but she can see smoke and the orange glow of what is likely fire. She can also hear the faint screams of those near the blasts and in the garden. She grabs her band and runs out her room to go see what has happened. However, when she opens her door, she finds a ghost, or so she’d have thought. With a shaky voice, she says, “Mom?”

“Yes Amelia, it’s me.” She hugs her. “I’ve missed you, my darling girl. You’ve grown up well.”

Amelia isn’t sure what to do, still slightly in shock by the fact that her mother is standing here before her and is not dead, as her father had said. She suddenly realizes that everything anyone has ever said about him is probably true, including what’s happening now. She realizes her father might be behind it all. “Mom, what’s going on? Are we being attacked? Did dad set this up?”

“Well, it’s true that your father started this on its course, but this wasn’t part of his plan. This attack was arranged by the Kree. More specifically, this was all planned by-,”

“Elli.” Amelia doesn’t need her to finish in order to know what she was going to say. “Elli did this, right? In retaliation for Liam? I guess I can’t say I’m surprised, as it was inevitable, right?”

“Well, no doubt your actions lead to this, but what you do now can change this course. You can choose to end this. Elli is on her way here as we speak and she means to kill you Amelia. But-.”

Amelia hugs her mother now, causing her to stop short in surprise. “Thank you, Mama. I’m really glad I got to see you one more time, it’s all I’ve truly wished for over this last year. I hope I was able to make you proud of me, even if it was just a little bit.”

Almyra hugs her back. “Of course, Amelia, I’ve always been proud of you and I love you too.”

“Thank you, Mama, really. I have to go now. I have to pay my due. Please stay safe Mama.” Amelia kisses her mother’s cheek and pushes her away. “Please, don’t try to stop me.”

Amelia runs off and Almyra reaches out for her, but Clara takes her hand instead. “You have to let her go Myra.” Almyra turns into her chest and begins to cry. Supporting her is all she can do.

Elli passes through the halls and outside to the garden, where all those guests from before now lie, dead on impact from the explosion. Explosions continue ringing out all over the province as the huge ships idling in the sky drop bomb after bomb. Amelia can hear their screams and horror, but is powerless to do anything as her Kingdom falls around her. The explosions ringing out and glowing spectacularly, like fireworks in the sky. Her people, her innocent subjects are suffering and it’s all because of her. She did this, because she dared to love someone she never had the right to love and then cast that love aside in such a cruel way. As she looks up to the sky, tears stream down her face and she wills one of those bombs to fall down on her too, but she knows that it’s not going to happen, because her reaper is coming for her personally. She can hear the steps of someone’s boots approach behind her and she knows that death has come to call. She turns to see the most beautiful angel of death she could hope to be blessed with the sight of. Her mahogany hair fluttering as it shines in the setting sun, her eyes blazing like the fire surrounding them and her body exuding sexiness; stirring the deepest of Amelia’s desires. The angel draws a sword and with a steady voice says, “I’ve come, Amelia. Tonight, you shall die.”

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