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The Hapsburg Restoration


Sarah Tintagyl
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It had been nearly five years since the end of the Austrian Civil War that pitted Saenger's Republican Guard against Empress Maria Magdalena's Royalist forces. For the next five years, Austria had not ever fully recovered from the instability wreaked by Saenger's Rebellion. The country was still divided between those who wanted to see a return of the Hapsburg Monarchy and those who desired a Republican Government. However, the Republican government which had been installed, constantly placing more supplies and materials for the expansion of defense and justice had turned Vienna into a city of curfews and Austria into a pseudo-fascist state. Director Nagel and Director Vogler had destroyed what appeared to be all opposition to their rule, first Anke Vogel had disappeared, then pressure had been placed on Vanessa Eggers and Anne Kruger for their resignations. The other members of the Directorate only seemed to silently protest with their eyes and watch as another dark cloud shadowed over the land of Edelweiss.

Annett Schiffer and Jessika Adler, the Directors of Labor and Foreign Affairs respectively were not as easily pushed out from their positions and they were not as quick to earn the suspicion of a growing fascist government. The two women looked in horror at what was happening to their country and more so at the deepening divide between Germany and Athens. Europe once again had been pushed to the brink of war, with the collapse of Ireland, Dalmatia had moved into Ulster and graciously had given the Catholic regions to the United States of the Island. This move had sent negative vibrations across the world and on top of the recent move against the Fascism in England, both Schiffer and Adler were worried for their country's future. If Nagel and Vogler pushed Austrian nationalism too far, the country could easily fall back into a civil war between Royalists and Republicans and if they pushed too far on an international level, it could incur the wrath from the Romans in the south or the Germans and Dalmatians in the North.

"So what do we even do?" Annett looked up, across Jessika's ebony desk in her office at the Rathaus. "People on the streets after nine o'clock is punishable by imprisonment, resistance of any form is outlawed and I wouldn't be surprised if firearms are deemed illegal soon." The Director of Labor nearly had tears in her eyes as she stared across at the window. "There were dreams here, Jessika, Anke, she had dreams of what was going to happen to an Austrian Republic and everything became a nightmare."

Jessika twirled her finger through strands of her long brown hair and sighed. "The people are chaffing, Annett, Maik and Bernd, they can't hold power like this forever. You can't rule by fear, not forever."

The graying Annett pushed herself from the chair and placed her fist onto her lips. "But what do we do? That's the question. We can't wait forever, we can't let Austria be subject to more instability. This country has been a failure since it's conception. Influence? Empire?" She shook her head. "Nothing but pipe dreams."

Jumping up from her desk, Jessika ran over and took Annett by the arms and looked into her blue eyes. "Are you listening to what is coming out of your mouth Annett?" But looking up, she watched as the thin, aging woman began to sprout small tears. Jessika could only smile as she wiped them away and embraced her comrade tightly. "You can't speak like that, we're the only hope this country has right now. We have to be brave and we have to be smart, there is a way to end this kind of thing bloodlessly. I can't bear to see Austria fight itself again."

"Then we need something to push Nagel and Vogler out of the Directorate, out of power. But they control the entire council, the fact that you and I still have our positions is amazing itself."

Jessika nodded and then looking back to her desk and the papers covering it, she smiled and turned to Annett with a broad smile. "The Empress."

"What? What about her?"

"She could restore Austria, the people are still loyal to Theresia, they would still follow her if she showed the tyranny that the Directorate is holding over us."

Annett looked stricken, "Jessika, you can't be serious, it's what we all fought against. Restoration of the Monarchy? It's going back to Square One."

"And Nagel's Austria is better?"

"Well, no," the Director of Labor paused and looked at the ground, drying her eyes. "You have a point, but it seems so contradictory."

"Annett, we have to end this cycle somewhere, something in Austria has to change to make these years of chaos end. Saenger did win that war, she destroyed Austria's integrity. We're barely a second world nation right now. Something needs to change, something drastic, something that only the Empress can do with her popularity." Then she smiled, "And something only you and I can do as the last protectors of a free Austria."

"You sure do have a way with words Jessika," Annett laughed, "But I don't think I'm heroine and protector material."

"Please, you're only fifty-two," she pressed against the Director's arm smiling, "And I think you still have a bit of muscle left. We need the Empress back Annett, and you need to go to China to get her, her and the Imperator, they're our closest allies. They can fix this problem without bloodshed."

"Me? Jessika, why not you? You're the Foreign Minister."

"Because I need to seal this deal with the Germans and lets be honest, Nagel doesn't even let you talk in the Directorate anymore. You could get away much easier."

"I," Annett turned away, "I'm not sure about this, if I get caught..."

"Then I die with you. It's what friends are for, Annett, even ones twenty years apart."

Taking a deep breath, Annett Schiffer broke away from Jessika's grasp and grabbed her coat off of the chair and opened the door leading to the inner halls of the Rathaus. "Thank you. I'll...I'll be back."

---

The trip from the Rathaus to the Vienna International Airport was the longest drive Annett had been on in her life. The driver had been stopped twice and at the airport, she had been questioned by various guards on where she, as the Director of Labor was going. Certain countries for the Directorate were completely off limits and one of those countries was the United Federation of the East. However, Annett bluffed, saying that she was taking a trip to Slavorussia who without any ties to the Austrian government was completely legal. Thus with safe passage to Moscow, the Director of Labor with little more than the clothes on her back and a carry-on bag with her medicine, spare clothes, and a few hundred thalers made the trip to the Chinese capital.

It would be a surprise visit and she half believed that the Imperator would not even allow her entry. Austria's relations with the Chinese had been slipping and a sudden visit was definitely not part of Imperial protocol or Chinese mannerisms. Nevertheless, the request for an audience was sent and Annett waited nervous and anxious in the wide halls of the Imperial Compound to be seen by Her Empress and the Imperator of China.

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The imperial guards looked at her somewhat suspiciously as she reached the first gate of what had been dubbed the new Forbidden City. After being left to suffer near interminable questioning by Chinese guards, in a way only the Chinese could do, she would be left waiting for several hours in the unbearable humid South China august clime. Finally a man walked out of the tram which was used to transport people out of the compound. He was dressed in a charcoal business suit with a white shirt and a solid red tie. Wei was displaying a great deal more wrinkles and grey hair for being someone now only just approaching middle aged.

"I apologize for the wait." he said. "I am Grand Vizier Wei Hai, the Imperial Family will see you now. It seems the Austrian Republic has entered into a state of extreme difficulty, and with the kidnapping of the Imperator's sister, we've taken extra precautions for all members of the Imperial Family." he said. "Please come with me."

He motioned to a blissfully air conditioned electric tram car. "Please come in, we'll be there within ten minutes." he said, as they passed through scanners. "I must say your visit is an unexpected... surprise."

--------------

Meanwhile in the Imperial Residence, Jia and Theresia had only just received the message, after it was authenticated by the UFE Foreign Ministry as bearing any sort of substance. It was not uncommon for nuts to give messages to the Imperial Family, on an hourly basis.

As they had recieved the news, Jia had sent Leopold, now a toddler out of the room, "So how do you feel about this?" he asked Theresia. "... when they came for a Republic, you seemed really crushed by it."

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"Yes, well," she said to the Vizer. "It's a surprise to me too."

---

When Theresia and Jia had received the message that Schiffer had arrived, unexpectedly, it was a surprise and one that filled the former Empress with a great degree of suspicion. Not to Annett herself, but to the reasons of her visit. News from Austria had become almost non-existent over the months as government laws and regulations had restricted news flow to the rest of the world. Theresia had in turn developed a severe case of depression in not being able to keep any contact with her homeland. China was beautiful for all it's culture, mountains and hills, but to be completely separated. It tore at Theresia's frail heart like a disease.

"When they came for a Republic," she said getting out of her chair. "It was the will of the people. Our country is not like yours Jia." Theresia said as she placed a white shawl over her shoulders. "Countries today in Europe and in Asia value order, they value stability above all else. We aren't like that in Austria. Our freedom, our liberty, and our independence to make errors and mistakes is what separates us from the world. We are a people who like to deal with the destitute and the wrong before realizing what is right and prosperous." She kissed him and chuckled. "It's what makes us stand out. Not just blonde hair and blue eyes. Let's go see what Frau Schiffer has come all this way to talk to us about."

Walking down into the Imperial Throne Room, Theresia would find Annett standing in the middle of the gilded hall with her hands pressed firmly below her stomach. Her back was straight and her shoulders firm, her graying hair was tied in a loose bun and a pair of glasses rested on the bridge of her nose. The definition of business attire. Theresia smiled at the sight, she could tell Annett was nervous and that there was something stronger and more pressing on her mind.

Sitting down on the throne, the two rulers leaned back and nodded. "Frau Schiffer, it is a pleasure to see the Director of Labor in China. Though I must say, my husband and I are rather surprised at this visit. To be receiving you and not Frau Adler."

"Director Adler is not able to make it to China, Your Majesty, because this meeting must be unofficial or we risk both our lives." Annett cleared her throat and sighed. "I have come completely to ask for Your Majesties help. Austria has not had stability since the end of the Saenger Rebellion and now with the promise of the Republic falling through, we have seen that the Director of Defense and the Director of Justice have taken it upon themselves to destroy our Democratic and Liberal Beliefs. Your Majesties, the country is a nightmare. Curfews early in the evening, resistance and dissent crushed by police and military. The Austrian Legion has disbanded and left and they do nothing. With the attack on Fascism in England and wars happening Ireland, our people are scared. Director Adler is scared, I am scared, for our country's future.

I've come here, out of my own free will, to ask for your hand to help us. To help us restore order, any kind of government that will again favor the people. Even if an absolute monarchy would keep people happy and proud to be Austrian again, it would be acceptable. There were referendums to join back with Germany, Your Majesties, we just cannot allow that to happen."

Annett fell genuflecting to the ground in the state of classical European knights. "I am at your command, Your Majesties, Imperator, Empress, just please, Austria cannot fall. Not like this."

Theresia, nearly brought to tears rose up from her chair and walked down to where Annett knelt on the ground and placed her hands around the woman's shoulders. "Annett, please, Austria is lucky to have someone like you helping it. You have done a courageous thing by coming here and we will help. If Austria is going to be saved then the Hapsburg Dominion will be there and you and Jessika will be integral in seeing order restored." She turned back to the Imperator. "Jia, what is your opinion, I would value your advice."

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Jia kissed her back, "Heh, there are just some things I'll never quite get about you, but I guess that's what makes you fun." he said winking.

As they entered the room, Jia leaned back against the wall his arms folded as he listened to the situation assessing it. He was good at masking his emotions, but his face seemed to have a bit of a frown on it. He did not know quite what to think of his wife's country sometimes.

In many ways, Jia and Theresia like China and Austria were very different. Both had their strengths and weaknesses and complimented each other. He always tended to be a bit more ordered and as such was often left surprised from the Austrians and Theresia's tolerance of it.

"I think..." he said paused. He wanted to tell her to stay here with him, but... if this was China, if they wanted to join some other nation would he permit that?... of course not. Besides, it was clear, she missed Austria. He sighed, this would be their destiny... at least it wouldn't be dull. "I think we both know, you have to keep Austria free." he finally said.

"Everyone in this room has been through hell and back a couple of times to keep your country free... and a lot more people died out on the field to do so. If you want this Theresia, I'll do everything in my power to see it done." Jia said.

".... We're totally getting a hypersonic space plane for the travel this time though." he added joking.

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"Oh thank you, Your Majesties!" Annett threw her arms around the Empress and dug her head into Theresia's shoulder. "You don't know how much this means to all of us."

Theresia smiled, picking the Director off the ground and patting her back. "Right then, we aren't out of the woods yet. You have my support but it might take a little bit more muscle to get everything on the right track again. What is the status of the country right now, Annett? Is this kind of dissent prevalent throughout Austria or does the Directorate still control a great deal of the nation's resources."

"Only through oppression and fear. Any sign of the Directorate's collapse would be viewed as a blessing. Nagel and Volger, however, still have command of the military forces and the police. I don't know how loyal they are, but at the moment the Directorate still pays their salaries, money speaks volumes. In addition, there is the Republican Guard which is responsible for the protection of the Directors themselves. Or at least the ones Nagel and Volger value, Jessika and I don't have Guards, we're on our own."

The Empress nodded, "This will have to be fast then, fast and bloodless. We cannot risk another war between ourselves. If people are already beginning to consider returning to German control another internal fight would break them. However," Theresia smiled and gestured Jia and Annett to follow her back to her private quarters within the palace. There at her bookshelves she scanned the titles, finally taking out a novel on Russian History and turning to the tale of Empress Elizabeth. "She dethroned the child Tsar, Ivan the Fifth who was only an infant. It was a bloodless coup and locked the young child away in a convent for the rest of his life. We will be a bit more brutal to Nagel and Vogler, but the outcome will be the same. Their government will fall during the night and when Austria wakes up, I will be on the throne again and Annett you will be Chancellor of a new Parliament. We will have a Constitutional Monarchy, one that combines the Republic with the Monarchy, a perfect balance of power."

"You think it's possible, Your Majesty and I thank you for the honor if this succeeds."

"Well you and Jessika are the only loyal knights I have left, it's only proper." She turned to Jia, "Darling? I need an outfit of fifty men and a way to get to Vienna under the cover of nightfall. We'll arrange that and leave China for Austria, arrive, kill the Directors who are loyal to Nagel and Volger, including their respected persons and proclaim the Monarchy restored. So we'll need probably a couple of planes, a way to land, and some inside support. Annett?"

"I can message Jessika, as her to get some kind of small resistance to help us. I'm sure there are loyal subjects who would be overjoyed."

"Perfect," then Theresia turned back to her husband. "Annett and I will need body armor and firearms as well. A bit of on the job training would be nice too, if it can be arranged."

Annett's eyes widened. "Your Majesty, isn't that dangerous, I don't think we're cut out for anything like that."

"Sometimes matters can only be solved by doing something you wouldn't dream of doing. We're not soldiers, we're not pretending to be soldiers. We just have a duty to our country." The Empress rested a hand on the Director's shoulder. "If we were soldiers, we wouldn't need to take a small army with us. It's all to look the part. Now it's time for China to work it's magic on us and on Austria. Jia, if you would oblige."

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Jia's face lit up... Theresia was actually willing to get into a discussion about military hardware, the one embargoed topic in their marriage and a passion of Jia's.

He was now off in his head, "I can do that. A flight of F-2s out of Crete can bring down the Palace's electronic systems and temporarily crash Vienna's power grid. We can get into the country undetected using our diplomatic pouch.

With UFE troops on the border its not uncommon we bring in crates... we can get into the country on one of those, move it to the UFE embassy. Four stealth black hawks are kept there... with the lights of Vienna blacked out, they can approach on silent with active camouflage to the Palace. We'll drop down with a team of imperial guards, the three other black hawks can hit guard sites simultaneously. With active camouflage xenias combat armor and no enemy power, we should be able to take all these areas very rapidly and use non-lethal weapons to neutralize resistance experiencing zero casualties on both sides.

Once we have the palace and ministry of defense secured, the country you can go on the radio and TV to address the masses Theresia. My air force will keep the transmission lines open, even if they try to jam you... they won't stand a chance...!

By the way did I tell you about this new next generation jammer we're building on the..." Jia continued on about the hardware capabilities of his army and air force for about fifteen minutes before noticing both women had dazed off.

"... so yeah I can help." he said grinning sheepishly.

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"I thought so." Theresia smiled with a glint of adventure in her eyes.

---
Three days later Theresia, Annett, Jia, and forty-seven Chinese and Austrian Imperial Agents from out of the Federation and Ehestadt respectively were on planes heading towards the Austrian countryside. Ehestadt, for all the internal strife happening in Austria was still largely supportive of the Royalist cause and many subjects in Asia refused to bow to the Directorate, taking their orders from the Empress in the Federation than Vienna. For Annett, the entire journey was surreal, she was screeching across the European sky from Crete at mach 5 to liberate her country from the grip of Nagel and Vogler. She was a fifty-two year old woman dressed now from head to toe in battle armor with a sub-machine gun around her shoulder and automatic pistols at her hips. The Imperial Agents had said it was all for precaution, but this was not the cup of tea and warm fire that Annett was used to on a Thursday night. Theresia on the other hand had a look of sheer determination and enjoyment on her face. Angelika had fought in the Battle of Boise and had killed the nefarious General Longstreet and she had read stories about the strange Hanseatic woman who had served as a special agent during the Nordic Civil War with her Grandfather. It was finally her time to take her place in the annals of Austrian liberators and freedom fighters; never before had she felt this alive.

"Five minutes to drop zone." Said a Chinese accented voice over the loudspeaker.

Annett turned to Theresia with her eyes glossy in worry. "You think everything is going to be okay? I mean, what if Jessika didn't get my message, what if we get intercepted by Nagel's forces?"

"Annett, would you calm yourself?" The Empress laughed, "Everything is going to be okay, you sent the message to Adler, I'm sure she got it and I'm sure our rendezvous will be secure. Plus, it's like Jia said, there's going to be a lot of things going wrong. We're the last thing that Nagel is going to expect. Also, we didn't bring all these forces with us if we didn't expect a fight and when we hit the ground," she stuck a hand out, "Stick with me and we'll be fine."

She reached out and took the Empress' hand and closed her eyes. "All right, then I guess we'll give them Hell?"

Theresia nodded. "That's exactly it."

"One minute until drop zone. Prepare for drop." The plane shuffled as every agent and their comrades in power rose to their feet and checked their equipment. Each one was dressed in black armor with black face paint to match, a sheer commando run with lethal and non-lethal ammunition and every single one except for the women had faces of cold ice, but Theresia and Annett were sweating bullets. It would be a fast drop over the northern countryside, where Jessika had alerted a contingent of rebellious Austrian soldiers and remaining Legionnaires who had stayed in Austria. A total of seventy-five loyalists awaited the Empress on the ground and from there it was a direct route to the Federation Embassy in Vienna. "Fifteen seconds until drop."

"Theresia?"

"Yes Annett?"

"Five seconds until drop."

"I don't know."

"Drop zone reached."

With the doors of the plane opened, the black sky loomed in front of Annett and Theresia as the agents began to parachute off the deck to the ground. They were in the middle and there was no time for hesitation, one by one the men jumped off, nearing their own time of departure. Finally it was their turns and with the men pushing from behind, Annett and Theresia both took each others hands and nodded then made the faithful leap into the night sky. Screaming bloody murder as they fell to the ground below.

---

"The point is Herr Braak that funding of that amount is just not prac-" Maik Nagel had begun to say in a night meeting of the Directorate before the lights of the Rathaus flashed for a moment and then completely went dark. "What the hell?"

Seats were pushed aside as the only light shining into the building came from the moon outside. "Shouldn't the emergency generator have come on by now?" Said Vogler as he made his way to the window and looked out into the capital. "Good lord, the entire city is dark. Power must be out all over Vienna."

"What?! That's impossible, there are back up generators! Fiedler! What the $%&@ is going on?" The Director of Defense screamed.

"I don't know Maik, this is-"

"This is an attack, that's what this is, this is a rebellion." He turned over at the shadowy outline of Jessika Adler, "Where is Annett? I asked you yesterday and you said Slavorussia, but the Russian authorities have not reported that she's in the country anywhere. Don't lie to me Jessika, where the hell is she."

"I...I don't know, Herr Director." She said putting her hands up. "I don't keep tabs on her."

"Bernd," he scowled, "Alert General Molke, tell him to prepare for a potential rebellion a-"

"Maik, communications are down all over the city, I can't reach him."

Nagel shook with anger at the words. "Then get the Guard ready, I want this entire city on lock down in fifteen minutes, if a civilian is outside. Shoot them."

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Jia had a wide grin on his face as he put his helmet over his head. It prominently featured a command antenna protruding from the forehead of the helmet. He was clearly having fun. Most of the imperial guards were from Jia's former unit, the 80th Ranger Regiment of the PLA.

"What unit is this?" he asked his men.

"The 80th rangers!" they all answered.

Jia smirked, "Well god damnit, Rangers lead the way!" he said almost gleefully. Stretching his arms out he heard the familiar howl of the wind right before a jump.

Following Theresia out of the plane he started laughing, "LETS DO THIS!" he declared as he retracted his limbs to accelerate the fall downwards, catching up to Theresia and Annett. "This is fun huh?!" he said happily.

Pulling his shoot Jia waited till right before he hit the ground to snap the automatic release. Rolling forward as he hit terra firma, Jia hinged his silenced rubber bullet equipped P-90. "Yellow Team Lead here. Drop zone one secure." he said, as his helmet performed a scan for targets.

"Red Team Lead, drop zone two secure." another voice said.

"Blue Team Lead, drop zone three secure." another voice came across the radio. "Green team here... drop zone four secure."

"Give me a drone uplink." Jia ordered. "The Rathaus."

Overhead a stealth Skyhawk-C observation droid provided images of the Imperial Family and their composition, as well as the personnel around them moving around the Rathaus ground. Jia motioned with his hands for his team to move to take out the guard patrols in 20 seconds surrounding their positioned.

Without word, the rangers nodded and moved to various positions to get lines of fire on each of the guard patrols. Each moved with silence, raising specially designed long range taser rifles. In an instant, Jia watched as the drones imaging overhead showed the guards falling to the ground. Radio clicks confirmed that the targets are down. Jia then motioned to Theresia and Annett to move forward according to the plan of approach they had worked out ahead of time.

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From the drop zone, Theresia, Annett, and the others moved into the city under cover of darkness and cover by UFE vehicles to the embassy. Once there, the agents moved first to take down the front guards in the front gates and outer compound of the Rathaus, be it from the air or from the ground. With the city in total silence and darkness, the only lights that came from the Rathaus were flashlights and from her vantage point far from the gates, Theresia watched as the lights dropped, one by one by one. It was amazing what a modern military could do and as she sat there, the Empress could feel her heart sink. If she had Chinese soldiers at her disposal, Haas never would have taken the city in the first place. If she had modern weapons and strength as her husband had in his armies and navies, Austria would be the premier European superpower. Instead, she barely ruled a back water country on the face of Central Europe. Even when the agent near her whispered that it was time to move, Theresia remained still.

"Your Majesty?" Annett looked at her, her voice quivering in the thought that she would soon be entering the Rathaus. "What's wrong?"

Theresia took off her helmet and ran her gloved hand through her blonde hair and sighed. "What's the point, Annett, what's the point of doing this when it's all for naught anyways."

"What? What are you talking about?"

"What makes what I do, any different from Nagel and Vogler. Maybe the people are right, maybe we should be back with the Germans. At least they can take care of us."

Annett leaned down and took the Empress' hands. "What in the world brought this up? You were so impassioned a moment ago, that fire just doesn't disappear."

She gestured over to the Rathaus and the idle flashlights on the ground after the initial attack. "My husband's men, Austrian and Chinese both, took out those soldiers. Those soldiers are supposed to be the defenders of Austria, the defenders of the government and they couldn't even stand and fight. Where would we be, if we had to fight our neighbors. We lost to Germany, we'd lose to Athens." She punched the ground. "We're weak, Annett, and there's nothing we can do about it."

"You're envious?"

"Yes," Theresia nodded, "I am, I want to be that leader."

Annett smiled and looked over at the Rathaus. "Well they're waiting for you. Your Majesty, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. You're the one that took the initiative to take back this country, to save your homeland. Germany was sad, yes. But it doesn't mean that it has to be repeated. Austria shouldn't have to prove itself to the world, the world isn't worth our time. We need to only prove ourselves to well, ourselves." The Director smiled and touched her heart. "It's in both of us now, I was nervous too, but right now, I think my bones have enough willpower to make one more charge to see the Hapsburgs Restored to their proper place." She reached down and grabbed Theresia's helmet. "For Austria?"

Theresia took the helmet smiling and placed it back on her head. "For Austria."

Springing up, the two women shouldered their sub-machine guns as their feet tramped against the pavement leading up to the gates of the Rathaus. The front compound had been taken already and the agents who had been dropped inside opened the gate from within and the palace loomed in front of the Empress and Director, within laid the battle of their lives. But with a grin of determination, they approached the door behind a line of ten agents ready to unleash fire on the first figure they saw. It would be a flank attack from all sides of the building, but the moment the first defenders fell the bullets began to ring out across the palace.

When Theresia's Guard heard this their boots went through the doors of the compound and entered the main entrance hall. The defenders inside had been caught off guard, but when they realized the attack was upon them, they quickly unleashed fire from all sides. Theresia's goal was to make it to the top floors of the building, that's where Nagel and the other Directors were and that's where the government would have to fall. It was supposed to be bloodless, but no one expected that not a shot would be fired. Someone was going to get hurt, Theresia just wagered that it wouldn't be her.

She lifted the machine gun across her chest and waited for her time to move on the staircase leading up. With a deep breath, she twisted her body and when a comrade said "GO!" she unleashed hell on the balcony above her and ran full speed to the staircase. It wasn't a game anymore as the bullets whizzed by her, this was real, and the loser wasn't coming out alive.

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Jia followed behind Theresia switching his clip out with a live ammo one, "Well now we're in it. Men lets light 'em up" he said with a smirk. Raising his P-90 he moved his site at a gunner on the roof. Zooming in on his visor he steadied his weapon before squeezing the trigger. The brief sound of a three shot burst rang out, as the gunman fell. He then moved quickly, cycling between targets on his HUD, unleashing another burst at a target. "Lets go!" he said scanning the area.

The Chinese commandos moved through the courtyard systematically, like different digits of the same hand. Jia moved behind a concrete barricade switching to full auto throwing a stun grenade, as they approached the lobby. As it flashed. He lay down a line of fire, for the two men behind him to move forward with precision fire and knock out more gunman.

"Lobby secure." a voice came through as the first team entered it.

"This is Red Hawk Lead." a voice said over the comm channel, the lead pilot of the F-2 squadron flying over Vienna. "The enemy has been alerted to live fire. We're jamming further communications out of the Palace, and will let you know as unit head towards your location. We have the Ministry of Defense secure. They still don't know who is doing this."

"Roger. Maintain altitude and cloak, don't reveal your position yet, we don't need an aerial fire fight in the city center." Jia said.

He turned to Theresia as she headed up the staircase, "How are you holding up?" he asked with a bit of concern in his voice, but truthfully he was more impressed by her bravery during the fire fight. He couldn't help but notice the difference between now, and the last time they had been in a fire fight in Beijing when she had seemed much more frightened.

Edited by Triyun
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"I...I'm okay." Theresia said taking a deep breath as Annett joined them on the staircase, trying to catch her breath. "I just don't think either of us are really cut out for this sort of thing, but desperate times call for desperate measures." She pushed her head back against the wall and tried to calm her breath. "Annett, where is the Council Chambers? How far up to we have to go?"

"It's only one more floor up from the central lobby, but I don't know how many more guards are up there and I know that the Council was having a meeting tonight they're all going to be in there. We can't just kill the entire Directorate. Jessika and the others are in there."

"No, I want Nagel and Vogler alive if we can get them. Are you ready for the second round then?"

Annett leaned back on the wall, letting her back crack and sighed. "As ready as I'll ever be." She said putting her hand forward.

Theresia took it and looked at the top of the stairs before gesturing to the agents heading across the floor. "We're going up, so you go first."

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X3Me_MVR90&feature=related"]The Austrian Coup d'etat[/url]

With bold steps the first of the agents moved over the fallen bodies of the Republican Guards on the balcony of the Rathaus as they advanced onto the second floor. Theresia and Annett followed as the sounds of gunfire echoed through the halls as defenders burst from closed doors and side hallways, opening firing on the commandos and the floor around them. The wood of the floor flew up in the air as the plaster on the walls cracked and chipped flying every which way in the air. There were screams from the Austrian Defenders as they moved down the hallways, trying to force the Empress and her entourage back down the staircase and while the commandos feet never faltered, no advance was made.

On the balcony they were sitting ducks with barely any area for cover between the walls and the staircase leading back to the entrance. Pictures off the walls became riddled with bullets as the building itself seemed to cry in pain as the fire fight continued.

"Get down! Grenade!" Yelled one of the commandos and Theresia felt her body fall to the ground as if out of instinct as the darkened halls lit up with smoke and light and then disappeared back into darkness. Screams came from all sides and many a bullet hit a commando torso or leg.

"We have to get out of here, Theresia, we can't stand here like this!" Annett screamed as she reached for a pistol on her leg, hesitant and scared removing it from it's holster. "We're going to die!"

"No, not yet! Throw a grenade down that hall and everyone else, this way to the left!" The grenade blast was enough to give them cover as the commando unit pushed all of it's might towards the east wing of the Rathaus and while Theresia was in no way the leader of the move, ducking behind corners and open doors, she stayed near enough to the front that when a stray bullet knocked her to the ground. She felt Jia and Annett's arms immediately wrap around her.

"God! You're hurt!"

Theresia looked down and felt down her body, but besides the initial shock she couldn't find..."Aha!" She said happily looking at the shattered butt of the sub-machine gun. "Lucky strike, that's all. They'll just have to aim a little bit better."

"Theresia, we should go back, leave this to the professionals." Said Annett pleading.

"No, not when we're so close. We can't stop now." She said with a new voice of strength and determination, "C'mon Annett, you don't give up, not after almost dying. I think I've shown, I'm not dying anytime soon."

With a new burst of energy the Coup forces pushed up the east staircase nearly at the Council Chambers as a wave of silence began to overtake the Rathaus.

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"Theresia!" Jia said rushing over to her as she went down. His body filled with adrenaline as he thought his wife had been hit by a bullet. Seeing the butt of her rifle $%&@ed up from the bullet he let out a sigh of relief. "Thank god." he said. Getting up he assessed the situation.

"We'll take point." Jia said.

He motioned to two of his men as he scanned the final stair case, seeing not hostiles, they moved up to the door while Jia and two others kept their weapons fixed forward.

The men placed two shaped C-4 charges against the door. Jia turned to Theresia and Annette "Keep your heads down and ears covered, this'll be loud." Jia said reveling in the moment. He [i]loved[/i] detonating C4.

He pressed his thumb down on his wrist pad. "Fire in the hole." he said. A loud bang echoed through the stair case. Had it not been for the helmets protective coating, it'd have deafened all of them as the door was blown to pieces flying into the room. In quick succession two rangers threw in flash bangs.

Jia and his men rushed in the room. Grabbing his pistol out of his side harness he held his pistol in one hand and his P-90 in the other he entered the room firing them both in the air.

"Alright you &#$@ sucking fox-stenched foreign devils. This is a stick up... no wait a coup! This is a coup!" he joked. "So yeah... honey you want to take it from here?" he said dryly.

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When the smoke began to clear from the blast, Theresia and Annett stepped into to the room still under cover of the commandos' rifles. Their feet crushed over broken pieces of wood and tapestry, the last remains of a dying republic and as Annett leaned down to pick up a torn piece of cloth the butt of a rifle knocked her to the ground. The smoke had cleared and across the floor, many of the Directors lay on the floor, with their hands over their head shaking and bleeding. No one seemed dead, but now with hand wrapped around Annett's neck, Theresia saw a gun pointed at her head and then another gun pointed at Jessika Adler's head as Maik Nagel walked towards the window with the young Foreign Minister.

"I should have known that you would give me trouble, Schiffer and you should have been disposed of, just like Kruger and Eggers. You women are all alike, sticking your heads in places where they don't belong. Shocking though, to recruit the Empress? Have you no respect for the blood that this country shed for a Republican Government?"

Annett coughed with Vogler's hands around her. "Maybe things would have been different if you hadn't wanted to screw everything up from the beginning. What did you do to Anke?"

"Anke is gone, the Church had need of her."

"The Church?" Theresia narrowed her eyes as she aimed her gun at Nagel's head, but her aim was shaky and there was no way she could take the shot. "What does the Church want with Anke?"

"That is none of your concern, Empress, she's gone and now it would appear that you've ruined this nation for the second time. Look around you? Bloody, bruised, how many innocent men did you and your Chinese goons kill tonight? Austria can't even defend itself anymore. This country is better ruled by Berlin than Vienna."

"Things are going to change!" Annett shrilled as she was choked. "We can't live like this anymore! We need some sense of order again!"

"And that's what the Directorate gave you snake!"

"No, Maik, order is not oppression and it never will be, you lost. Give up and we can show you, we can show you want Austria can become if we don't fight with each other."

"Give up?" Nagel laughed, "And get put in jail by the new regime and don't lie to me Empress. You might have a soft heart, but you're not stupid. No, I don't know about you Bernd, but I don't plan on going without taking a souvenir with me." His gun turned from Jessika's head to pointing it straight at the Empress' heart. Theresia froze as she watched the trigger pull back, milliseconds before the bullet was discharged.

"No!" Annett screamed as she felt her aged muscles and bones fill with a strength she had never felt before in her life. She flung herself forward grabbing hold of Vogler's gun, ripping his gun from his hand and pointing it at Nagel's chest fired round after round towards the Director of Defense and the window. The shots echoed loudly as his body danced lifelessly filling with bullets, Jessika Adler ran in turn, dropping to the ground after being shot wildly in the arm. Nagel finally collapsed against the window, blood running down the wall of the Rathaus. Then the room jumped from another shot, as Vogler fell back, bleeding from his head with his pistol aimed at Annett's back. Both the Director of Labor and the Empress turned back as Jia smiled at them.

"Thank you." Annett smiled, "Thank you, very much."

Theresia, still shaking from her second near death experience in less than ten minutes finally knelt to the ground to recover her breath and as she did, picked up a small piece of cloth. "This was the Republic's banner, Annett?"

"Yes, it was. I guess it's a dream that will never be realized, eh?"

"What dream is that?"

"That a nation can live without being ruled by a ruler with an iron fist. Like Athens, Germany, Dalmatia, and even if you excuse me, the Federation." She sighed and looked at the window, the blood stains around the room. "This was supposed to be a new age."

"And it will be. No more wars, no more in-fighting, just prosperity and I will do whatever I can, Annett to make this country different from all the rest."

"We're suffocated, Theresia, where do we go from here."

Theresia smiled and walked over to the window as she started to [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poAb0MhEvmk"]hum[/url]. "We aren't suffocated at all. Austria...Vienna...is the heart of Europe. We just have been looking at it the wrong way. We don't need Europe, Europe needs us."

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Watching the fire fight go, it seemed like both an eternity and an instant. In part he admired the balls of the pretenders to the throne. They still fought even while UFE commandos clearly had them at a disadvantage. As the man they called Vogler pointed his gun towards his wife and the director, Jia instinctively raised his pistol firing two bursts into his head and lungs to bring him to the floor.

Jia shrugged at the comment about the Federation's government, "Hey to each their own. Having one all the same is boring." he said. "Austria gets to do what they want. I'm just here to jump out of air planes and keep Theresia safe!" he said finally lowering his guns after making a final sweep of the perimeter.

"All teams, we've taken primary objective. Good job." he into his commlink.

He then turned to Theresia, "Well Theresia, its up to you now. I know you'll make your people proud, even now I'm still amazed by you." he said removing his helmet and smiling.

Edited by Triyun
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"Well it's what second chances are for."

---

The next morning, the citizens of Vienna and across the Republic awoke to news media in utter confusion. Fires had been burning all night around the Rathaus and sources reported the dead bodies of Maik Nagel and Bernd Vogler had been handed over to police and the entire capital had been brought under martial law at least for a day. Soldiers without uniforms walked the streets solemnly carrying Imperial and Republican banners and greeting the citizens with smiles and handshakes. When asked what had happened or what was going on, soldiers and reporters only replied. "The Empress has returned."

Late in the afternoon, Theresia, still dressed in her military gear appeared at the steps of the ruined Rathaus to a throng of people from across Vienna. Most people looked at her in confusion and shock. The dainty Princess who had gone to China years ago and the Empress who nearly died of birth pains on her bed seemed to have been transformed. Her eyes looked sharp at cameras and her hair, pulled back in a dirty pony tail showed that she was willing to get her hands dirty. Had the Empress herself actually destroyed the Republican government?

Stepping up to the podium, Theresia gripped the sides tightly and nodded at the cameras.

"I am not here to make any long speech because I am sure that everyone from Vienna to Kopel is tired of them. I'm not here to make any promises or to declare any concessions. What I am here to do is to tell my brothers and sisters of Austria that I am sorry. I am sorry that as your Empress and your supposed protector I have failed you. I failed you in the Haas invasion and I was not able to protect you, until now with the despotic rule of the Directorate. You need to put your thanks to Annett Schiffer and Jessika Adler, they were the ones who came to China to tell me what was happening and I realized that it was time to wake up.

If the people of Austria will have me again, have me as your leader, humble and thankful, there will be a change. There will be a change in everything. Austria can no longer live with this instability. We have barely been a country without knowing war and battle and chaos. Yet for all those times, never once did we prepare for it. What is going to change is the aristocracy and my official declaration of joining the Austrian Imperial Military as it's commander and soldier. My duty to this nation is make sure it runs correctly, make sure it is protected and that means getting dirty, that means serving with my men on the front lines if need be. I do not like the Northern culture, but they have one thing right and that is honor and defense of their Fatherland. We will have the same thing for our Motherland.

Austria will stay independent or I will die defending it. Austria will remain unique and our academies and universities will remain some of the greatest in Europe. Austria will remain strong and will seek out the friendship of any nation who is willing to befriend it.

But most of all, we will create our own path and become the heart of Europe and the heart of the world that we were always meant to become. There is a recent Vienna...when you say it, it makes you smile. Because it is the heartbeat of the world and no one can take that spirit away from us.

If you have me, your will shall be done."

And in an out pouring of support and tears, the Austrian people stormed the ruins of the Rathaus, lifting her into the air. Never before had a leader of their people had dedicated so much and fought through so many heartbreaks to earn their trust. They had all failed once, but they were sure and confident they would never fail again. As such, the national anthem was change from that time on:

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fav6OpFNuMo&feature=related"]Edelweiss[/url]

...Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow...
...bloom and grow forever...

Austria after so long, had finally returned.

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Jia positioned himself so that Theresia's head would obstruct his presence in photographs. The last thing he wanted to do was appear to be over his wife's shoulder while she was proclaiming a new direction for the country, especially an independent one at that.

He smiled as she outlined a speech, which frankly, had he read, he'd have thought was given by completely different person. It was nationalist and powerful, in other words pretty bad ass.

After the speech he walked over to her, "I've sent for Leopold now that everything's safe, and Wei's issuing the formal !@#$ I gotta sign to recognize the new government. I'll stick around for a few days while you get settled back in." He paused looking at her, "Also... this new attitude and look... I gotta say its pretty hot. But like scary hot." he said with a chuckle.

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As UFE operations within the Athenian Federation generally remained classified to base personnel and Imperial Command only the satellite and intelligence reports of what was happening in Vienna came as a complete surprise. Even going as far as placing the military on a heightened state of alert due to the attack on an ally. It would come as an even bigger surprise when orders from Imperial Command reverted all these preparations however the events were discussed very much. Through the Holonet a secured conference had been set up between Magistrates and the Monarchs on this new development in Austria.

After a long and heated session it would eventually come to a close.

"We can't accept this, even for how bad they are the Directors are the elected officials of Austria. Recognizing this new government would also mean approving of the UFE attack on Vienna. Our very laws and doctrines block such a move." The Magistrate of Justice said as she ended her discussion with the Magistrate of Foreign Affairs.

Ariadne had remained silent for most of the talking as she preferred to hear it all first.

"Alicia I get your point, there probably were other ways but face it. We messed up, we bet on the wrong horse. The Republican movement should have never been supported and the way they treated Austria after Vogel is not just inhumane but a disgrace to our values. Perhaps this time will be different. I have talked about this in private with Valerio and we both agree that we should grant recognition to Empress Maria Theresia and maintain secrecy on the UFE operations from Crete."

---

The Athenian Federation formally recognizes the return of Empress Maria Theresia and announced the Good Neighbor Program will once again be extended to Austria.

---

[quote]Empress Maria Theresia,

First of all I wish to congratulate you on your return to power. While the methods may be controversial I have no doubt that they will be worth it in the end.

Ssecondly I wish to apologize for revoking support of the throne so fast. My magistrates and myself made a mistake when providing recognition to the Republican movement and we should have listened to Western advisers. I do hope this mistake will not badly affect Austrian-Athenian relations.

With kindest regards,
Empress Ariadne Notaras of Heraclius[/quote]

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[quote]
[i]Ariadne,

Forgive me for chuckling at your letter, I believe I am the first of my sisters to receive an apology from you and your government. That alone, that the Greeks would consider themselves wrong compared to the Austrians is a humility I did not expect to see in my lifetime, and is worthy of my cooperation for a long time. In honesty, do not trouble yourself with Austria's internal affairs. I have made my own mistakes, especially in abandoning my country in it's most desperate time of need the fact that my people have given me a second chance, I will do everything in my power to see Austria returned to the status it had when ruled by Emperor Alexander.

In light, however, of this new government that I am creating, relations between Athens and Austria are very important to the future of our nation and Europe as well. I have seen that Germany and Athens, both countries that Austria's future has a stake in, have not gotten along and I would like to speak about Athens's current foreign policies as well as our own friendship. Thus, I would like to invite you and Valerio to Vienna at your earliest convenience. I will prepare special dinner at Hofburg Palace and hopefully we can start off this new Empire on the right foot. The Austrian People are deserving of stability and I have no choice but to give it to them.

I anxiously await your reply and arrival.

Sincerely,

Maria Theresia[/i]
[/quote]

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