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Baby, just say yes...


Michael McBride
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Tom Dobbs looked over the transfer papers in front of him. He hadn't prepared them... in fact, neither had one of his commanding officers. They had come from the man standing directly in front of him. Tom looked up at the man, his eyebrow raised.

"You realize this is highly unorthodox, correct David? I mean, elections haven't even been held yet and we're getting rumblings the mafia might be trying to regain some power."

"You won't be dealing with the mafia using Mambas, Tom, and you know that just as well as I do. Besides, you promised me. I've stayed here and flown sorties over Italy more than a hundred times and we haven't had a single incident. Besides, the Pacific nations aren't being as friendly to our Guam territory right now as we expected... it makes sense for the Black Knights to be out there."

"Oh shut up, David. We both know you aren't going to Guam. You'll have the Knights stop off there and you'll fly down to Australia as soon as your plane is refueled."

"And what is the problem with that, Tom?"

"Because... I don't want them influencing you more. I know what you're heading to do, David, and I don't approve."

"You don't get to approve what goes on in my personal life, sir." The last word was almost spat with contempt. "Now either sign the god damned transfer orders or don't, because in five seconds I am leaving this office whether or not I have them in my hands." David's gaze stared hard into Tom's, and the older man sighed and signed his name quickly at the bottom of the paper. Without another word, or salute, the pilot snatched the paper out of his hand and strode from the room. Tom Dobbs sat back down, his head in his hands, rubbing his temples.

------

"Brisbane Tower, this is Colonel David Atkinson, Italian Federation Air Force. Reporting one plane, no weapons, requesting permission to land on runway 12B." After receiving confirmation, David landed his Mamba and taxied it into a familiar hanger where the Black Knights had been stationed when they were in Australia.

Inside the hanger, David saw his motorcycle still there, waiting for him. He also saw the package he had sent ahead. Grabbing a backpack, he shoved the fencing suit into it, along with a small box he had brought with him from Italy. Strapping on his helmet, he gunned the motorcycle and raced off towards the Palace.

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Fleur and Andriette Valmonde stood at the gates to Lillia Palace, rotating their positions every few minutes or so. There was supposed to be a larger front guard for a weekend, but most of the other Lillians were out with the war game detachment engaging the Germans somewhere down in Alice Springs. That was where the two sisters wanted to be, but instead it was guard duty in probably the most secure location in Australia. The sun was shining down brightly when Andriette looked out into the road towards the city square far in front of her, when the sound of a motorcycle pierced the quiet air of the capital and with a blaze of surprise, the young American-Italian, the Colonel of the Black Knights dashed over the pavement towards the gates.

"Fleur! Wake up! Wake up!" Said Andriette running over to the guard house where her sister was gently tilting back and forth. Fleur darted up in surprise.

"What is it? It looks like you just saw a gho-"

"Colonel Atkinson."

"Oh?" Fleur's eyes widened as she grabbed her rapier and hat and walked out toward the gardens at the front of the gate as Atkinson approached. Meanwhile sending Andriette dashing into the palace to get Hannah, the Queen who had been in such a miserable mood of late, this would be just the thing to make her smile.

"Colonel." Fleur bowed and took off her hat. "It is a pleasure as always, welcome to Lillia Palace. Her Highness I'm sure hasn't expected you for sometime, but this is really a pleasant surprise. Please, if you would follow me, I will take you into the Grand Hall." She smirked and bowed again before turning on her boot heels and leading the young man towards the magnificent palace. All she could think about the entire walk through the gardens and over hanging trees, Her Highness is one of the luckiest women alive.

---

About at the same time, Hannah sat in her office quarters looking down with empty eyes at her desk. Miserable, as Fleur thought, was hardly a way to describe her, she hated the world right now. Constant petty bickering from Parliament and the conclusion of the Melbourne Referendum left her extremely bitter. She didn't want to be bitter, but there were a lot of reasons for this, one she felt like she was failing her country. How she didn't know? She felt she was failing her friends? Again, no clue. But the most important reason for the hole in her heart was that the letter she took out of the drawer was some three, four months old. She wanted to see David again, she wanted to hear from him again. His wings were in a wooden box on her night stand and she thought about him every night before she closed her eyes. That was what she missed.

Suddenly the door to the room swung open with a bang as Andriette Valmonde and two other Lillians rushed in with huge smiles on their faces. Hannah looked up and blinked, unsure of what was going on.

"Can I help you ladies?" She said with a hint of annoyance in her voice, she liked to be miserable alone.

"Well, its more how you would like to help yourself Your Highness." Andriette smiled.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Well we could tell you, but it would be so much better to show you. You'll enjoy it so much more."

"James Arramand is dead?" Hannah smiled thinking of the one Parliamentarian.

The Lillians went blank and then shook the confusion out of their eyes. "No. Just...just come with us Highness."

Hannah sighed, but obliged the girls as she pushed her chair out from under her and followed them down the various staircases to the Grand Hall. It was nearly perfect, that just as Fleur was leading David in, Hannah's footsteps met the end of the marble floor and she looked down the sparkling marble corridor, the sun shining in filling the palace with an illustrious beauty. Her eyes were wet immediately, as a Queen with red robes and flowing white hair ran full speed across the marble floor and into the arms of the man she had missed for so long.

"You're so goddamn late all the time. Christ you could have at least sent a few more letters." She smiled, her feigned annoyance broken with a childish smirk and a strong kiss to David's lips. "I've missed you, I've missed youfor too long."

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"Well, if I was always on time... that would be predictable, and boring. And well, that just wouldn't be me would it." David planted another kiss on her lips and picked the Queen up, spinning her in a circle before placing her back on her feet and kissing her again. "I have a surprise for you anyways. Something even better than a letter." Slinging the backpack off his back, David pulled out the white fencing outfit. "I've heard that things have been rough around here lately, so I figured you could use some stress relief... I was practicing back in Italy. Some pretty good fencers back there, but I've heard you're better than pretty good." David tossed her a wink and then turned back towards the Lillians.

"Ladies, your rapiers, if you please."

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"Fencing?" Hannah smiled and a chuckled escaped her. "Well this certainly is a surprise." She said with a bit of a sigh, half expected just another peaceful movie, or maybe a night on the town. The two had barely ever appeared in public together, so while Sarah ate up the limelight, Hannah sat contently in the palace waiting for her own time to shine. It seemed like it would never happen. But the fact that he was here was enough, though at the mention of her guard's own swords, she stuck out her hands. "Oh, no, that will be all right girls. Go back to you posts. The Colonel and I will be just fine."

"Of course Highness." The Lillians bowed and left the two alone on the marble floors.

After the guards were gone, Hannah turned back up to David. "Their rapiers are their most prized possessions, it would be an insult." She said, smiling into his eyes. "We can duel in the ballroom, I have my own equipment, and an extra rapier for you, you apparently do not need the outfit. Come on, we'll get going." Hannah turned and led the Colonel back up through the palace, towards the ballroom, where she let him wait alone for a moment while she went to change. Putting her hair into a pony-tail, she wore a white padded vest with white pants and the Australian Royal Crest, embroidered on the left breast. Her collar was high and her mask shown like a pearl as she walked into the ballroom that screamed of the French Enlightenment.

"Its a beautiful room and wide too, more than enough space for me to kick your $@!." She said throwing him his sword and putting on her own mask. Hannah withdrew her own blade slowly from the sheath, the sound of metal scraping as she did so and pointed it at him. "En Guarde Monsieur Atkinson."

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With the explanation about the rapiers, David quickly offered an apology to the Guards. It was a mistake he would have expected to make when he first got here, one that would have caused some kind of international incident, but not one he expected to make this late in the game. He frowned for a moment as he followed Hannah into the ballroom. While she was gone, he pulled on his own white suit, only to find that it was a little tight in the crotch area... hopefully that wouldn't affect his performance.

A smile lit up his face as he watched Hannah walk back out. Still stretching and adjusting slightly, he missed when she tossed him the sword, which bounced off his hands and clattered to the ground. David looked up sheepishly.

"So you think that you'll kick my $@!, eh Hannah?" David slid a toe under the guard of the rapier and flipped it up into his hand in one deft motion, sliding his mask on as well. "En guarde, mademoiselle Queen." Grinning, David opened with a straight lunge, the tip of the sword pointing at her chest. It would be a move repeated many times, one he had practiced with some of the finest swordsmen in Italy. He didn't know much, but he knew enough to get his objective done.

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She laughed hard when he dropped the sword and shook her head. With this kind of discipline, David wasn't even going to be a threat. Fencing was and always would be, the top sport in the circles of the Hanseatic aristocracy. Whilst the modern nations of the world perfected their military, their economies, and so on, the Hanseatic people looked back to a more cultured past. The Lillians were an excellent example of this and Hannah as well, considered herself one of the best duelists in the Hanseatic military. Needless to say, she was not an amateur. Though David's quick lunge had caught her quite off guard, it was sudden, it was aggressive, and it was cliche. "Leave it to a man to think that a girl would just lay down and die." Hannah said quietly to herself as she side-stepped the blade and brought her own rapier crashing down to his own. With David a bit unbalanced from his thrust, this would be the perfect time to toy with him a bit.

As his sword went down and Hannah's crashing into it, she stood back in front of him and unleashed her own flurry of attacks towards where he stood. Nothing overly dramatic and nothing overly aggressive, but just enough thrust with just enough power to push him back and to make him stay on his toes. With every push, Hannah's rapier coming shockingly close to David's chest.

"Keep up Monsieur. I expected a man like yourself to dance around the floor with me."

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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Reflexes. That was the only thing saving him now. Years of flying, living on the edge and making split second decisions was all that kept Hannah from scoring points. His sword would sweep hers away with centimeters to spare, but good reflexes weren't going to save him... not for this long. Hannah was trained... he was, well, he wouldn't say not, but certainly not up to her level. Stepping back to block another thrust, he tried a counter attack but found a rapier poking him in the chest. Scowling he stepped back.

"En guarde." This time, he faked with the lunge and then took a half step back, sweeping wide with his hand. It was an unorthodox maneuver, one aiming to score a point in the midsection instead of in the chest, but one that he hoped would catch her off guard. Whatever happened, someone needed to score the next point quickly. He was starting to sweat under the outfit and it was still riding up uncomfortably in his nether regions.

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"Aha!" She swiped down with her blade, another successful parry as she heard David yell from behind the mask and she smiled. "Oh c'mon, I expected this amazing fight. You're not going to disappoint me are you?" Hannah spoke too soon and the next slice of his blade went towards her stomach, barely able to get back, the Queen literally jumped into the air backwards trying to put some distance in between herself and her opponent. He was decent, there was no doubt in that, but Hannah knew, she was better.

"All right. That's enough." She scoffed. "You're mine." Leaping forward she unleashed a series of swirling blades, moving closer and closer to where David was defending himself. Her aggression began to take over, a battle that had to be won, but nearing him, her chest was left undefended, but it didn't matter, there was no going back. "Aha! You're mine!" She cried thrusting towards him.

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Hannah's moves seemed to slow for David. He had experienced this before in times of extreme stress in the cockpit of a jet before. Doctors said it was his years of training... his body had learned to "regulate" adrenaline being pumped into his bloodstream, and short, controlled bursts could enhance reaction times and make time seem to slow. David still thought it was just because he was so damn good time slowed when he wanted it to.

So, with time and the cosmos obeying his wishes, as they should, David assessed the situation. Hannah's chest was exposed for a counterattack, but with David fighting left-handed, he couldn't reach it before she got him first. He wasn't about to let that happen. With a flick of his wrist, the rapier flew from his left hand to his right as David made himself skinny, Hannah's rapier passing through the air where he was a split second before. Rotating his right wrist, the tip of his rapier stuck Hannah in the chest. David held it there, grinning.

Before the Queen could say anything, be it congratulations or something about it being a lucky shot, David flicked his right thumb and the sound of metal scraping on metal rang throughout the silent Great Hall. A small circular object slid down the rapier and stopped right at Hannah's chest. Pulling off his mask, hair plastered to his head with sweat, David got on one knee, still holding the ring to Hannah's chest with the rapier.

"Hannah Thea Asgeirsson," David saw Hannah open her mouth to say something, "I asked the Lillians, now let me finish." He grinned to show her he was not angry and continued. "Hannah Thea Asgeirsson, will you make me the happiest and luckiest man in the world, and marry me?"

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The shot had come quick, her moves coming to an abrupt halt, his rapier sticking softly into her quilted chest. Slowly Hannah fell to her knees onto the marble floor and stared down at the ground, her mask hiding any emotion that her face held. She kept the rapier there for a moment, before the sound of spinning metal caught her ears. Looking up she watched the ring spin around a few times in almost a dancing motion as it came to rest on the quilt of her chest. Her mouth opened agape, though David would only see the criss-crossing of metal fibers across her face. He wouldn't be able to see the tears welling up in her eyes, how her heart was filled with so much joy and happiness, that it was bursting at its skin.

"Hannah Thea Asgeirsson,"

"..."

"I asked the Lillians, now let me finish. Hannah Thea Asgeirsson, will you make me the happiest and luckiest man in the world, and marry me?"

Slowly she stood back up from her kneeling position and dropped the rapier onto the ground, it hit the marble with a loud clank and bounced for a moment before coming to a complete rest. Slowly she pulled off the leather gloves, revealing her pale hands, they shook in anxiety and nervousness as she finally brought them up to her mask and very slowly, peeled it off her face. Her green eyes were coated in red, chapped from the sudden crying, though she held back her tears. There in front of him, the Queen's aggression had disappeared, washed away in the kindness of the knight standing in front of her. There in front of him, she stood for the first time as a figure of innocence, total beauty, understanding and conscious.

"David...I..."

She collapsed onto his shoulder hugging him as tight as she possibly could. The tears started to flow from her eyes in waves and finally she pulled him away and looked up at him. "I'm a miserable person David, absolutely miserable and to be honest, I never thought I would ever be able to find happiness in this life. Jewels, palaces, riches, it doesn't matter if it can't bring you happiness. You're the only person that's ever made me happy, you're the only person that I've ever cared like this about." Grabbing his face, she held it in her fingers. "I love you. I will always love you. Yes. Yes. I want to be the happiest woman in the world." She leaned in and kissed him on the lips as hard as she could as they embraced in the center of the ballroom.

While on the balconies above, the Lillian Guards looked down from the sky like angels, not one went without tears of joy.

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There was something about women crying that always made guys feel bad. At least, it always made David feel bad. Even though he knew they were tears of joy, he just hated to see her cry. Still, the force of her kiss rocked him back on his heels and forced him to put a hand down to steady himself, his other hand sliding up to her face and wiping a tear away with his thumb as he kissed her.

After the kiss broke, David glanced up and saw the Lillians circling on the balcony. "Looks like we've drawn a crowd," David whispered to her, smiling. With a large grin on his face, he waved jauntily at the Lillians. "You'll all have to teach me to properly fence now," he called up, laughing a little.

When Hannah had kissed him, his rapier had fallen to the floor, but the small gold ring with a single, small diamond was still on it. Smiling, David grabbed the ring and slid it onto Hannah's finger. "Perfect fit. And no, I didn't ask the Lillians about that one. I just guessed." David kissed her again and stood, helping her to her feet.

"I love you, Hannah. And I'm never going to leave ever again."

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Sliding the ring onto her finger, the room erupted int applause by the Lillians standing on the balcony. It felt like fireworks were going off in her heart as she looked down at the engagement ring and smiled. "Its absolutely beautiful, absolutely beautiful." She chuckled. "But now I guess the real planning starts, marriage. I honestly never thought I'd get to see the day when someone would finally do this, but I understand now that it is the happiest feeling in the entire world. Eight months to plan it David, we'll have it early Spring, when the birds are singing in the trees and the flowers are blossoming on the trees." She looked back down at the ring. "I honestly...don't know what to say...but it is the most beautiful in the world." Hannah reached over to kiss him again and embraced him. "I'm yours."

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