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Birth of an Empress: Chapter I

Sarah Tintagyl

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Fortune, throughout history has shone brightly on many nations and for Europe, no nation did it shine brighter for than the people of Germany. The German nation, with its many incarnations, Germany, Bavaria, Greater Nordland and its many creations had all been the historical, cultural, and technological center of Europe at their given points in time. At times it even seemed as though European itself was synonymous with the German people, or perhaps the Nordic people, needless to say, no other light shown brighter even after the coalition of Easterners had dismantled the Reich and the technological empires of Bavaria and Austria had arisen from the fray. But what of the other cultures and nations? There had been a brief stint of what was Bohemian power, yet the rulers of that were old gentlemen and officers of that failed Reich. Those states eventually led to the strengthening of Slavic peoples, and birthed various conglomerated nations in the east, none of which were overly special on the world stage and most fell into disrepair besides the ancient Slavorussia and the newer Slavic Federation. Meanwhile in Western Europe, the states fell into a state of stagnation brought upon by the Kingdom of Scotland's guiding hand, which most of the world viewed as puppeteering. There was an independent France that was incredibly corrupt, and a Spain that was divided into various cultures all barely able to stand each other. The peninsula always on the brink of war. Out of this, was birth two nations, Aquitaine and Burgundy.

With the fall of the Sixth French Republic, a pro-German state had begun to seep into the French plains. Led by their King, Karl von Hohenzollern, many traditional areas of France were given away to the successor state of the Nordic Reich, North Germany. While the people of Southern France were sickened by the obvious German heritage that had already dominated them, along with Scot and Welsh heritage, enough was enough and out of that rage Therese Zelle founded the Republic of Aquitaine. Aquitaine immediately gained favor with the world over the Burgundians and while France descended into a cold war of sort, Aquitaine gained power over the Burgundians and soon all of France was once again under the banner of the Republic. Karl Martin still held sway over the throne of Royalist France, but even that was a time line that everyone in France knew would soon come to an end.

Since unification the French nation had blossomed, old enemies of Zelle and Hohenzollern both were dead and what had been Burgundy, held in the grip of German culture had begun to slide away. Hohenzollern was nothing more than a passing name, while France had been warming up further to both North and South Germany, but all people identified themselves as French. Not French-Germans, not French-Scots, not Burgundians, not Aquitainians, French. Yet, for the prosperity that France had entered into, it was not to last. Those few pro-Burgundians who still saw Hohenzollern as leader and Zelle as a traitor, those few who still saw the Sixth Republic and the right path was going to test the last of the French will. They would finally move, move to gain power back in their hands, out of Zelle's hand and into their own, a new France, a France that prided itself on greed, on foreign influence, the traditional France that had existed for the past decades, the decades that had made France the laughing stock of the world.


[i]Dijon, France[/i]

The City of Dijon was vibrant as legions of French soldiers poured through the town on parade. These parades were some of the most relaxing parts of Adelaide Josselyne's career, she was able to sit back and for once in her life enjoy the people around her. The young children that stood on the sides of the streets of the parade route throwing flowers to the military jeeps and marching soldiers, whilst French tank crews waved as well. There was nothing to tell them that the shadows moved throughout the city and the revolutions that had failed in the past, they would give another try. But in the motorcade of military charges, Adelaide's mind was barely focused on anything of the sort, more concerned with the pressing negotiations in Belarus between PEPTO and the Slavic Federation. "...I honestly wouldn't worry about deploying Valmonde, I think that everything will be just fine where we're at. We have a strong army, a strong navy and air force, France is protected, we don't need to involve ourselves in world affairs at every turn."

"See I would hope you would say the opposite Lady Adelaide, we have the potential to do so much more than the previous French nations have done, to just sit hear and watch the country waste away."

The Paladin sighed. "I doubt you could say waste away Valmonde, we've had great advances since Aquitaine, to see France waste away we would have to fall into stagnation and I don't believe that has happened yet. Especially considering we've just only unified."

"I guess your right." He said looking ahead. "Though such potential..."

"One day, one day Valmonde, I'm sure one day after sacrifices are made France will be one of the greatest nations in the world. Great sacrifices and great trag-..." Adelaide stopped as her hands began to shake, a horrible pain. Bringing her head to her chest, she felt it, blood, she had been shot. Everything had happened at once, there had been a loud bang near the Paladin's jeep and the next moment a young man wearing all black turned away from the crowd brandishing a pistol and smiled.

"May Burgundy never fall!" Almost immediately after that, there were explosions all around Dijon as rebel soldiers poured out of houses and opened fired on both the civilians and soldiers. Screams filled the air and innocent and combatant alike fell to the ground, blood seeping into the streets. Commanders quickly took over and began to lead contingents of soldiers into the narrow streets and allies of Dijon, looking for rebels, looking for anyone that could further threaten the French army in the city. Firefights broke out in nearly every section of the city, the fighting was fierce, but the tragedy stemmed back to that horrid road in the middle of the city where ten generals of France held up the dying Paladin's body as tears slowly crawled down her face. Her fists were clenched tightly, her face soft, she looked more and more like a young child with every passing second as her hands reached up to Valmonde's face who held her up.


"Adelaide, please, don't speak, help is on the way, you'll be fine, the wound it can't be..."

"P...p...please, just let me talk." She took a deep breath. "Tell Therese that I will serve her honorably still and that I will always be with both her and France. It...it...it is up to her now. It is up to her to restore France's glory...tell her...tell her that we are stagnant and that I was wrong. We have the potential and we will be great. Tell her...France commands her..." Slowly, Adelaide's eyes began to close as her life vanished from her body and her hand, held in Valmonde's own, finally went limp. In the distance, the cheers of the French soldiers that the city had been pacified of the rebels echoed to the main road, but on that road, only the weeping of the French military, at the death of their commander was quietly heard. Along with the wailing of the crowd.

France began to burn...


[i]Bordeaux, France[/i]

Therese sat in the Hotel de Ville of Bordeaux, her eyes red and puffy, her figure bent over her desk, blonde hair ragged down her face, and the loud sounds of her sobbing as she gripped a white letter, enclosed a small gold locket, a locket she had given to Adelaide when they had graduated High School. In a brief moment, she had lost her best friend and she was lost without her. Furthermore, the television that played in front of her showed signs of total rebellion in the north and east of France, Lyon, Dijon, Rheims all were broiled in the midst of rebel advances and the French army, leaderless now, had no clue of what to do , where to turn, who to take down. It seemed to her that everything, everything she had worked for in her life was coming apart at the seams. How...how could it end like this?

"Prime Minister..."

"Your Excellency..."

"Lady Zelle..."

"SHUT UP! ALL OF YOU! SHUT UP!" Therese pounded her fists on the table. "Can't you see that I am busy right now, I just lost my best friend, I deserve time to grieve."

"Mademoiselle, there is no time to grieve, the nation worked will with the military and the civilian government divided. But General Valmonde has already turned in his resignation, the army, the leaders, they have no courage, this rebellion has taken everyone by surprise."

"Minot! I said leave me alone! All of you! Get out!" She screamed again, her face red with anger as her advisors made way to the door leaving the Prime Minister in the room alone. Still in a rage, Therese tore up the letter and held the locket so tightly her hand began to bleed. "What...what am I going to do...I...I can't do thi-"

"You doubt yourself?"

Therese's head jumped up to see the figure of Tintagyl staring back at her. "I said no one was to be allowed in here! Get out!" The Prime Minister pointed at the door. But Sarah only smiled.

"I have been in France as the Countess de Saint-Germain for the past year and I have watched you grow into a leader that reminds me so much of myself. Your beauty, your drive, and now your baptism of fire. There is a greatness that France deserves, that it desires above all else. The ages of Germany, of the Slavs, of the Scottish, they will not reach the glory that can be given to France. For too long, your people have be pushed because of past sins, while other people's sins are rewarded and forgotten. Today you remind the world of their sins, today you remind the world of the power of the French nation, today, you awaken, Therese Zelle."

Therese stood up as Sarah took out from under her robes a blue vial, glowing beautifully. She backed up against her window and stared nervously at the Countess. "Sarah, what are you doing? What is that?"

"This is Raging Nostrum, a drug from Australia that I stole from the Lillian Guards. It will open your eyes, it will give you the strength to lead your nation properly. We all need an awakening. Mine was given in Antarctica, to see the vast hordes of Nords approaching the gates of Moscow and yet I failed Russia by waiting and only later did I repent. I will not let you do the same mistakes. You will be great Therese, France will be great." Sarah stretched out and grabbed the young lady's arm. "But are you prepared to be awoken?"


"Please...France must prevail." Therese nodded nervously as she pulled back her hair and Sarah walked over to her and pressed the needle into her neck. "A man once told me that I held the destiny of the world in my hands. The world is in shambles, I now give you that same destiny to recreate it. Therese Zelle, this wish is For the Spirit of our Mothers. For the Glory of our Daughters. For our Folk." And pressed the chemical into the Prime Minister's neck. "Vive la France..." The Countess said as she pulled out the syringe and vanished as quickly as she had come as Therese leaned forward, sweating, feeling the chemical pulsing through her veins.

"What...so...warm..." She reached up and ripped her collar off her neck and the top of her blouse as the sweat poured from her neck. There was power in whatever Sarah had given her, she could feel it, it was something Therese had never felt before in her life. "You !@#$%^&*...all of you..." She smiled and started to chuckle. "I swear this is only the beginning, everything is going to change, everything..."

The door opened again as the advisors walked back in with worried looks on their faces. "We heard voices Mademoiselle. Is everything okay?"

Therese stared up at the advisors, a gleam in her eye as she smiled. "Is the military deployed to advance on the rebel positions?"

"Yes Mademoiselle, but you need to promot-"

"I will lead them myself. I have my generals, we have our military, we advance."

"But we need to consult Parli-"

Therese shook her head. "At the moment, Parliament and the Constitution are both suspended, this is a matter of intense national security, there is no need to consult. We advance and end this rebellion. People's faith will be restored in their government and in me."

"Yes Madame Zelle."


[i]Public [/i]

That same evening, not minutes after she had given the order for a military advance on Lyon, Dijon, and Rheims Therese appeared in front of the television to address both France and the World.

[i]My People, Brothers and Sisters of France, My Neighbors of the world,

Together with the people of Burgundy, France as we know it today was formed from two states. We held prosperity, we held strength and reason and yet a sudden rebellion seeks to take that away from us. With the death of the Paladin of France, our nation has entered into a state of national emergency and as such to handle this revolt that has dealt so much damage to the peoples in our eastern and norther regions, I have enacted a state of martial law throughout the entire country, this rebellion will be crushed and France will be restored to her rightful place in the world. My people, I come to you to serve you as your ruler, as your leader, and as your first servant. I swear on my heart that the grief you have felt in these hours is the same grief that I have felt as well and it will end. Justice will be served.

At the moment the entirety of the French army, six hundred thousand men march towards the north and the east to pacify our regions and reclaim them for France. From this, this is our baptism of fire, this is our campaign into eternity, this is our cry to rescue and save France. A new nation will rise from these ashes of war and strife, a great nation, a powerful nation, and she shall make the heavens quake. For our Fathers and Mothers we fight! For our Daughters and Sons we persevere, for our people we exist, eternally.

Vive la France[/i]

And across France cheers were heard, cheers for France, cheers for advancement, cheers for Therese and thus the girl began her own path towards immortality. Aside her, flaming columns reaching to the heavens.

OOC: Closed unless you are allowed to participate by PM...International IC Participation (i.e. country comments) are appreciated.

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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Four armed guards, of the Crimson Shields, would quietly slip into the nation to deliver a letter to Therese

[b]***To Therese Zelle***[/b]


You may wonder what the meaning of a letter delivered by four armed and armored guards means. Please bear with me for a second and hear what I have to say.

While Australia has never experienced an outright civil war, we have experienced our share of strife and disorder. We know that during such times, while the very fabric of the nation threatens to fall apart at the seams, is when a ruler's life is most in danger. I know it from personal experience.

So please, at least for the duration of this conflict, allow these four members of my personal guard to serve among[/i] your [i]guard, until the end of these troubled times.

~Sincerely yours
Anthony Harlem[/i]

Edited by Subtleknifewielder
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[i]Bordeaux, France[/i]

"You are Jean-Phillipe St.Croix?" Therese looked in front of her with pale blue eyes at the young gentleman that stood tall. He had curly brown hair, dazzling green eyes that shown like emerald or jade, a boyish face and very handsome. "Adelaide...Paladin Josselyine." The Prime Minister closed her eyes at the name. "...held you in very high standards, you and your general staff. I can assume that you know why I have called you here then."

The young Jean-Phillipe was one of the rising stars of the French military, he had first served in Aquitaine as a captain and one of of the Paladin's personal general staff and from that he had become a rather brilliant strategist, a staunch nationalist, and from all that still one of the friendliest people to talk too. Even in Therese's grief-stricken state of mind she couldn't help but cool down when talking with St.Croix, his smile alone was enough to make her feel comfortable again. He was dressed in the blue frock coat of the French army, silver epaulets denoting his rank of Colonel, on his side was a rapier with a decorated golden hilt and two thick black boots covered his feet. A commander of the most amicable means. "Yes Madame, I am Colonel St. Croix, and I can wager pretty well that my audience with Your Excellency is because of the death of the Paladin." He said with reverence. Everyone in the army know of Therese and Adelaide's friendship and to insult the Prime Minster or even make her feel uncomfortable would be a horrible sin.

Therese folded her hands for a moment then pushed her chair out from her desk and turned out towards the cityscape of Bordeaux. "Adelaide was my best friend, she was also France's greatest commander and strategist. Her loss is a loss to all of France, however I realize that if we are to survive not only this rebellion, but the world afterward, a new system must be created. One that links both the military command and the civilian command, something that had not been done prior."

"As in you had no jurisdiction over the military Your Excellency?"

"Precisely. With martial law that has ended, but the capabilities of commanders are needed more than ever and not just being able to command troops, I mean to lead my armies successfully. In essence Colonel, I need a Marshal of France."

Jean-Phillipe's eyes widened in surprise, he had assumed that the visit had been more so of his inclusion to the General Command Staff then promotion to a position that given the moment in time, was under only the Prime Minister herself. "Lady Zelle....I...I don't know what to say."

"Well you don't have to say anything yet because you haven't earned the job."

"What?" He tilted his head in curiosity. "Then why bring me here?"

Therese returned to her desk and rummaged through a few papers before bringing up a picture of a well groomed brown haired man with a scar over his left eye. "This is Ziegraf de Bruyn, he is the unofficial leader of this rebellion. Technically the rebels haven't really organized themselves into a full functioning army, at least not consolidated. What we are dealing with is a lose alliance of freedom fighters, some loyal to the old Burgundian Crown, which I believe still pledges its allegiance to my government, not that it matters either way, the King of France..." She chuckled. "Has no power. This Ziegraf has more power and I want him dead. The other factions are those still loyal to the previous French state and in Lyon there are those still desiring to see a New Gaul. They're all loyal to their own causes, but Ziegraf is attempting to bring them together. This...must...be...stopped. Do I make myself clear?"

"Of course, as clear as the Loire, Mademoiselle."

"Good. The rebellion is small and needs to be nipped at the root before it can grow. My forward intelligence has already given me information that Ziegraf is concentrating his forces near Troyes. I am going to give you a command of five thousand soldiers to take Dijon which is the center of the Burgundian rebellion, two other commanders will be moving towards Rheims and Lyon respectively and to one of you I will give Adelaide's command too." Therese walked around her desk standing in front of Jean-Phillipe. She was small, but incredibly, in so much pressure, the Prime Minister's very frame seemed to be changed. From what he used to regard as a frail woman, she seemed now, strong, determined, her hair that used to be stringy was full, her hands powerful, in just a matter of days, Therese had taken the reins of power without looking back and it appeared that it had done wonders to her physically and mentally as well. Taking his hands she squeezed hard. "Adelaide spoke highly of you St. Croix and any friend of her's is a friend of mine. I do hope that at the end of this affair I can count you as one of my closest friends as well."

"Lady Zelle." Jean-Phillipe went down to one knee and took her hand softly. "I would serve you until the end times. It is as Lady Adelaide made us pledge to you, 'I've sworn my sword to your cause. I would not forsake that vow, save it were your wish.', I mean that forever, you are our Lady of France." He kissed her hand and smiled. "I will deliver France back to you milady, I swear it."

"Then you are dismissed General." She smiled at his instant promotion. "I anxiously await your report and look forward to seeing order restored in France."

Jean-Phillipe bowed and turned out of Therese's quarters when not moments later four other guards walked in, Australian uniforms of the Crimson Shields and stood tall presenting the Prime Minister with a letter. She took it, reading it and found it to be from the Grand Duke of Australia. Thanking the guards and telling them to stand outside her door if she was to be guarded by them, Therese sat back down and began to draft her response.



I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your concern for my well being. It brings me great remorse to tell you that my dearest friend and my commander of the army, Adelaide Josselyne was the first casualty of this war and it has utterly demolished me. Though I believe she would want me to be strong at a time like this and that is what I have promised myself to become in the next months, years, and the rest of my life. I assure you that the new France that arises from this rebellion will be eternally grateful for what Australia has done for the country and for me as well. If you ever find yourself in trouble, you know who to turn to.

After this war is over, you and I will meet again for what ever the outcome is and enjoy ourselves as we once did.



She sighed as the letter was sent away and turned back out to the darkening city behind her. "Never again will I let this happen, if a nation cannot secure itself in the freedom of democracy, then it needs the eternal guidance of its leader. You taught me that Adele." She stared down at her hands, how much she had changed. "It must be done and it will be done in the way I see fit."


[i]Troyes, France[/i]

"It wasn't supposed to be like that Commander! I swear! I can't oversee everyone in my command, things happen that were out of my guidance." The bald lieutenant put his hands up at the man looking at him calmly from across the table. Such was Ziegraf's power, he didn't even need to raise his voice for someone to know that he was disappointed in them.

"The Paladin was not supposed to die Gerard, Adelaide's death is going to severely hamper this rebellion." He shook his head. "It was she who was destined for the future of France, now we have paved the way for Zelle."

Gerard narrowed his eyebrows. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean sir."

"Adelaide is a leader that could have identified with the old France, with Burgundy, with the Wästerdyskreich. Zelle will not do that, she is too influenced by her own power, not the collective power of Europe and you have ruined that all by not paying attention to your men on the street. Now we must do it ourselves and we do not have the popular support that we may have had from the countryside. The nation is rallying behind Zelle even during her proposal of martial law. You have created a monster."

"Me?!" Gerard stepped back in surprise. "This is your rebellion, everything that has been done was your idea, did you actually expect the people to just rally for u-" Two men suddenly grabbed his arms as Ziegraf shook his head.

"You can serve the rebellion on the field Gerard, you have demonstrated you do not have the ability to lead behind so you will be led from the front. Take him away."

Gerard was dragged out from the manor Ziegraf held, while the rebel commander paced about the room. "Zelle will be coming soon. We need to hurry, I will not let her take France from me, she has taken it from Mamere, from Hohenzollern, this woman will not run France."

Nevers, France
South of Dijon[/i]

"We should be marching towards Troyes, not Dijon." The woman to Jean-Phillipe's right snarled. "The Prime Minister knows that he's in Troyes, destroy the root and everything else dies."

"That's not how it works Claire, the people are living in fear right now and Ziegraf isn't doing anything outwardly oppressive in Troyes, the only reason we know he's there is because of information. Plus, the rebellions aren't loyal to him, killing him wouldn't do anything major, he's just the prize at the end. To finish off this conquest." Jean-Phillipe said looking over the hills toward the north, in the distance would lay Dijon and sometime before that would be the rebel fortifications, that was the battle, somewhere on the plains and then after that it was into the city to free Dijon.

Claire Delacour, Jean-Phillipe's second in command stared though her binoculars at the plains in front of them, her light brown hair tied in a tight bun and her hazel eyes dull against the gray skies. "Well we have them in armor and man power that's for damn sure. They have terrain and surprise, I'd imagine we have better material as well."

"Never underestimate a military force Claire, you know better than that."

"Yes. That I do sir, I do understand that. But someone has to be the optimist here as well. Do we have the chance to advance?"

Jean-Phillipe nodded as his brigade began to more towards the nearby plains. War would be one them in hours and the first moves of the French nation would be played.

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[quote name='Sarah Tintagyl' date='11 May 2010 - 11:42 AM' timestamp='1273603339' post='2294898']
Jean-Phillipe bowed and turned out of Therese's quarters when not moments later four other guards walked in, Australian uniforms of the Crimson Shields and stood tall presenting the Prime Minister with a letter. She took it, reading it and found it to be from the Grand Duke of Australia. Thanking the guards and telling them to stand outside her door if she was to be guarded by them, Therese sat back down and began to draft her response.
"Yes, Madame Prime Minister." With a single smooth motion, the commander of the team ordered them out, and with a salute, they turned an about-face and marched out.

As ordered, they took up station outside the door. They would stand watch in pairs, one man rotating out for a fresh guard every eight hours.

They would also accompany her along with the Knights of France assigned to her protection, should she permit them to do so, whenever she went out in public.

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Jacque DeGaulle never expected he'd be facing his own countrymen in the style that he was today. Now, he and his fellow soldiers would have to look down a rifle barrell at those who were once called French citizens. Of course this was in response to their uprising, so these rebels have obly themselves to blame for their position at the end of his rifle. Yet, he felt sympathy for his targets. If it was one thing that his training had taught him it was that he had to protect France, and the fact that these individuals were lead astray would be their downfall.

Jacque led his company over the ridge to the grassy plains that concealed the rebel fortifications. He kept to himself giving hand signals to the troops that followed him. Yet, nothing gave a man more confidence then having a tank several feet away from you. He wanted to get his well trained troops from the Pau training camp. His memories brought back those of Adelaide Josselyne, the one who trained the company to the excellent form it was in today. It brought a smile to his face thinking about the torture they went through so that this march through the plains would be nothing but a walk in the park. Now, he fought for her, and wanted to see nothing but the !@#$%^&* who brought her to her end to be brought in front of a firing squad.

Jacque manned a small ridge created by the trees that had forested the area and called over several troops and had one of them wire in for any orders concerning the front lines and whether or not to move in any further. As he layed there on his belly, with a rifle in his hand. He couldnt help but bring back the lessons from the training camp.

Be light on your feet...Well, he was well rested and although he had been moving all morning, he still could chase a rebel down a mile.
Keep a rifle at your side...He had it in his hands and was damn well ready to use it.
Check the horizon...He looked over lifted over the uplifted ground and checked the horizon for movement. Nothing...

However, he knew they were there. Watching, waiting, and aiming. He looked over his shoulder at the two men already next to him, awaiting orders over the radio. For the first time, they heard him curse...

"Sons of !@#$%*es are already in position..."

Edited by Acca Dacca
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Dierik sees it all on the news...

He declares a National day of Mourning, and the Mourning flag replaces Germany's on Masts. He postpones his obligations for a week, and only replies that this is a very sad loss for France and Germany, and that the French should trust that their Leader will find the ones responsible and destroy them. Germany offers assistance.


However, secretly, he sends an operative on his own, to try to find the one responsible, or at least, the organization responsible for her death. When dictators cry, the tears are made of blood.

Edited by Kaiser Martens
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[i]Dijon, France[/i]

It was hard to see really anything past the city lights of Dijon, the sun had set and the only think that was able to be seen from the top of the church steeple in the city was the smoke rising from the field a few miles away where the French national forces under General St. Croix had engaged the rebel positions, those led by Gerard LaFontaine, the man who had been in charge of the Dijon operation and had pushed the regiments of Adelaide's French army out of the city after her death. Now he was faced with the forward vanguards of the army and knew that if those vanguards failed what lay behind them was the entirety of Zelle's Army, six hundred thousand men ready to rip the rebels apart where they stood. Gerard sighed and ran his hand across the oil and sweat forming on his bald head. "This isn't how it was supposed to work Laurent. This wasn't how it was supposed to work at all." He said putting the binoculars up to his eyes again and looking out. "We should have waited, waited until the various rebellions could be controlled."

"And yet you were the one that moved Gerard..." Gerard straightened up at the sound of the voice behind him.

"Laurent?" He said turning around, Laurent was there, back against the side of the steeple quivering in fear as Ziegraf walked towards him and yanked the binoculars out of his hands.

"We were solidifying our power like I said, but you let Dijon get out of control, now this is the price we have to pay for your stupidity, our entire rebellion struggling to stay alive." He studied the smoke and the plains for a moment and sighed. "They're moving quickly and we need to hold them off."

"We can use the city naturally My Lord." Said Laurent coming back from the wall.

"No, I refuse to let the cities be harmed, at least the cities that I can influence. Those that hold Lyon are already putting the civilians through too much death and destruction. I must hand it to the Nationals, they care for their people, but that doesn't make them and her fit to rule this nation. We need to move them at least into an area where we have the advantage and people won't be harmed." He turned towards the left looking over the brightness of Dijon and eyed the darkened part of the city. "The slums...move our forces towards the slums, move the people out anyway you can and when the Nationals march into remove you, do whatever you can do destroy the lot of them. Tanks will almost be worthless in there at least for maneuverability. We will have the surprise and hopefully they have suffered casualties on the plains as well so they'll already be demoralized. We can at least hope for that."

"And you?" Gerard took the binoculars back from his commander's hands.

"I have to return to Troyes, if this rebellion is to fail, then it is not time for me to die just yet. But you must either pay the price here or redeem yourself Gerard. You will not be receiving any other choices." Ziegraf said as he walked back down the steeple staircase leaving Gerard and Laurent alone at the lookout post.

"He does that a lot?"

"He's a !@#$%^& and I don't care what he says about this rebellion, it is because of him that we failed to bring the other factions inside our campaign. Now he is leaving us to die."

"We could flee, could we not?"

"Flee and abandon everything that I have worked for? The possibility of wealth and power if we do succeed? I would still take our chance on the battlefield. There is no home for people like us, we have to create it as we go." Gerard nodded as he walked down the steeple as well.

"I didn't join to die and not spend the money that I earned..." Laurent growled.


Meanwhile, Jean-Phillipe and Claire's brigade had since pushed through the first defenses outside of Dijon, a forward guard of infantry in front, armored positions behind them, and finally the command staff behind them. However, much to the surprise of them both the city of Dijon proper was quiet, now they were sure that the rebels had ran back towards the city and that intelligence had already pointed that the rebels under Ziegraf had soldiers there. But the streets were empty, people were inside and yet when questioned, they talked about how fearful they were that the rebels had to still be around, but besides a few citizens saying they had watched the rebels retreat through the slums. The opposition had seemingly vanished. "I don't like this, not at all, this screams trap." Said Claire as they began their descent into the slums of Dijon. "They retreated in here, but..."

"We have to uproot them, if it means going into the dragon's mouth. Well, so be it." He said as they rolled towards the slums.

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The noises outside woke the King up. He attempted to sit up, but the pain through his body stopped him. Laying back on the bed, he looked up at the ceiling.

To see into a barrel of a gun.

"A burn notice is a burn notice, Karl. No one escapes my burn notice. Adieu."


OOC: And it's all yours, Sarah.

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[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waB8BDjXyV4&feature=related"]Onward...Into the Fray[/url]

Jean-Phillipe walked proudly towards the slums surrounded my a contingent of infantry men and behind them two tanks, one commanded by Claire herself and the other by one of her junior officers. With the whole of Dijon surrounded by the brigade and the main army coming up the road from the south, over a hundred thousand would be in Dijon by morning. They could wait before securing the slums and make for a literal destruction of the rebels, but Therese had wanted Jean to prove himself, he believed this was one of those labors that would bring him closer to becoming Marshal of France. The attack on the slums was to surround the area and move in bit by bit, checking every household, every nook and cranny of the dilapidated buildings, out rooting every rebel that stood in their way. He knew that there were going to be casualties, he just didn't know how many to expect or when to expect them.

For Claire, she despised fighting in cities streets more than anything, there was no room to move on the narrow avenues, plus men on the buildings could easily rain hellfire down on her slow moving armor. She was waiting for the explosion. "Hey jack-$@!." She called into her radio. "You know we're walking right into something that's going to get us all killed. Right?" She said with a chuckle, even at the worst of times, Claire's sense of humor always prevailed.

"Well you can't show up late to a party Claire, you know that. I don't want to be like you at graduation, showing up drunk thirty minutes after our medals were handed out."

"Good to know." She switched off the radio and shook her head. "I'd rather be drunk right now anyways."

As Jean continued the pace towards the center of the slums where a collapsed fountain stood, water spraying from it like a broken sprinkler, he held up his hand to halt the advance. There was a man standing there dressed in an old French military uniform from the Mamare period. He smiled and stood straight as he stared out at Jean. "You are the commander of this invasion force I presume?"

"You aren't Ziegraf, surrender your arms in the name of the Prime Minister and you will be spared."

"Sorry kid, its not that easy. We aren't going to make it easy for that Aquitainian !@#$%* to take control of the whole of France. But where Mamare and Hohenzollern failed to make France great, we will succeed."

"With a failed rebellion?" Jean couldn't help but smile.

"Taking out cocky sons of !@#$%*es like you one at a time." The man, who in actuality was Gerard immediately reached into his pocket and pulled out a red detonation device, Jean pulled out his pistol as well firing into the man, but Gerard even while being struck with the bullets was able to get the detonation activated and instantly the slums around the French battalion burst into a blazing inferno as well as the sudden advance of rebel soldiers from out of strategic areas not destroyed by the explosions. They ran out brandishing AK-47s firing into the French columns and Jean watched as the men behind him and surrounding him began to fall, while others fired blindly into the rebel attack, still others ran as fast as they could for cover. Jean seeing this fired into the advancing positions before the bullets, whizzing around him, forced him back to look for a safer position.

Claire watched from her tank as the entire spectacle unfolded. "Goddammit all!" She screamed pounding both of her fists on the panel in front of her. "I swear to God you're all going to Hell tonight." The tank pushed forward and was able to get a round off at the rebel positions scattering them before there was a great rumbling outside and then from behind her, she heard the latch of the tank opening up. "!@#$%^&*, they have us !@#$@#$ surrounded." The next moment a Molotov Cocktail was dropped down in before those of her crew nearest to the latch began to burn and it was time to abandon ship. Those two unfortunate crew members, almost as soon as they crawled out of the latch bent over as the life left them from being hit by snipers. Claire had to move quickly if she was going to escape alive and through the fire she jumped out as the bullets ricocheted off the metal around her.

"Claire!" Jean had taken shelter in an old cafe on the corner where he and a few soldiers were forming a counter attack. "I'm coming!"

"No Jean! Don't! I'll..." A few shots rang around her as she dropped back behind the fallen bodies for cover. "...worry about yourself!"

"Felix! Cover me, I'm going after her." He turned to one of his soldiers. "Goddammit take out those snipers. Claire! Hold on!" The young general ran out back out into the streets as his soldiers behind him began their attack. Bullets went off in all directions as Jean jumped through an obstacle course of ruined buildings and rubble as well as the jump and bounce of bullets striking the ground around him. Finally he climbed up the side of the tank, his soldiers were now out on the streets firing up as well has having secured a few buildings on the other side of the slums were able to snipe effectively against the enemy positions on the roofs. Around them the heat of the fire only seemed to grow hotter and hotter as distant sirens and alarms began to go off. The main French army was on its way. Reaching the top, adrenaline having taken over his fears looked down into the tank as Claire kept her head and body hidden from the snipers. She was bleeding from her arm, a flesh wound, but a wound nevertheless. "Can you get up?"

"What the hell do you think! I'm !@#$@#$ surrounded!"

He reached down into the burning tank and grabbed her underneath the shoulders. "C'mon, we don't have much time!"

Claire groaned loudly. "Just get me out of here! Those !@#$%^&* killed my crew!"

Jean lifted the tank commander up dragging her behind the tank and then running back towards the cafe as the tank, on fire from the inside finally broke apart in a fantastic explosion of gas and smoke. Throwing her down on the floor of the cafe out of the line of sight of the enemy soldiers, he returned to the window to look back outside. "This is worst than I thought, we're going to have to take every goddamn roof top."

"Yeah! I could have told you that General!" Clair shook her head, anger, sarcasm, and humor all wrapped into the acid she spit at him. Groaning she stood back up, he looked back, but she held out her hand. "I'm fine. Don't worry, the blood will clot, what are we looking at?"

"We need to take those rooftops, if we can't do that then we're all going to die like dogs down here and by far we need that building right there." He said pointing to a larger building at the end of the avenue they had been traveling on. It was a small church, but its bell tower could command the entire slums. Turning back to two other men still in the cafe and then to Claire he nodded. "Claire, you're okay?"

"I already told you I'm fine."

"All right then, you two, you're coming with us. We're taking that tower." He said looking down the road. "We just have to say to the side and get inside, just be prepared for anything."

Claire and the other two soldiers nodded as they picked up their rifles and the two commanders reloaded the clips of their pistols and headed out, walking against the building line down the avenue towards the ruined church...

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[i]Bordeaux, France[/i]

"There is no doubt its him Lady Zelle." Said Jacques Minot, the French Minister of State and Therese's highest advisor as he nodded his head solemnly. "The vanguard units that entered Dijon found him in his villa bedroom, dead, with a gunshot to the head. With fighting only reported in the slums and the rest of the army moving in towards the city center, his body has been taken in custody by the military. They are planning to take him to Par-"

"No." Therese shook her head as she continued to stare at the fire in front of her. "Do not even think of sending him to Paris." She reached down and took of sip of her tea. "Prepare his body as you would for any funeral, but prepare to send his body to Prussia or something. King of France..." The Prime Minister scoffed. "I've never heard of such a terrible affront to our people. To be perfectly honest Jacques, have you ever picked up a history book and been able to look in the present time for anything besides the corruptness of Mamare's Republic, a shadow dictatorship is more like it. It sickens me that for the entire history of our people, we have been ruled by cowards, foreigners, and misers, not one who had France's true interests at heart."

"Wästerdyskreich, The Welsh Empire, Scotland, Mamare's Republic, Nordland in its various incarnations, Burgundy." He said as he sat in the chair next to Therese. "And then of course your Republic milady. But I can see what you mean..."

"It is a sin to the French people Jacques, decades upon decades and France was only ruled by true Frenchmen for a small sliver of that time and those that did so were so unfathomably corrupt that it might have been better run by foreigners."

"Well." Jacques nodded, his eyes meeting the flames of the fire in the hearth and leaning back on the soft leather chair. "If it is any consolidation, the current pretender to claim the history of France is dead. Though much of the influential members of the Bourbon family are gone as well."

She rolled her eyes and stood up from the chair heading towards the window of the Hotel de Ville, looking out over the capital. "Bonaparte, Bourbon, and Orange-Nassau, I'm sure Hohenzollern was responsible in some way for all those deaths or he is connected as well, its a shame. Though families such as those are quite large, I'm sure there's more so history is not lost because one madman wants satisfaction to remake the Nordic Reich with him at its head. Indeed, its probably the only blessing in this whole horrible affair." Therese let her head touch the window as she closed her eyes. "Did we fail Jacques? Did we do something wrong? Are the people really that driven against my government? I had such high hopes for this country."

Jacques looked up and cracked his knuckles while pulling his suit tight. While he had come in to deliver the report of Hohenzollern's death to Therese, he also had a few other words to tell her and watching her in her current state of mind, it was like she was asking to hear them. He just didn't know how to say it without coming off the wrong way and putting even more responsibility, or at least the thought of more responsibility on the young girl's shoulders. "Therese, Your Excellency." He stood up. "Don't think those kinds of thoughts even for a minute." Placing both hands on her slender shoulders he smiled as a proud father would to his daughter. "You have brought France out of the realm of obscurity Therese, besides Mamare, you realize that you are only the second actual Frenchman in decades to rule France, it is not with you that lays weakness, it is what surrounds us."

Therese turned and looked at him oddly. "Surrounds us?"

He sighed. "There was never once in time when France as a Republic flourished, our people have constantly dropped in and out of Kingdoms, Empires, Republics, Dictatorships, overthrown when the leaders of those factions prove worthless or incapable of leading. But remember what was done with Louis the Fourteenth, with Napoleon the First, those were the leaders that propelled our people to power. Look at us Therese." Jacques pushed open the window as a warm breeze ran over them both. "We had not even been a true nation until your rise in Aquitaine and in less then a year had reclaimed all of France back from the pretenders. We have the chance to make France a power again in the world, a global power, a power like the empires of the Eighteenth Century and there is no other person who people would rather see in charge than yourself Milady."

Curiosity couldn't begin to describe the look in her eyes as she jumped back. "You would fancy me a Queen, Jacques?"

"No Therese, I would fancy you an Empress in your own right."

Therese held her breath and then busted out into a loud chuckle after he had finished shaking her head. "The people, never in a million years would approve of something like that. Another Monarchy? Right after we get rid of Hohenzollern? I'd be thrown out for going insane."

But he grabbed her shoulders again as she began to walk away. "Therese, this is not just me speaking. I and the rest of the Ministers have been speaking since the disbanding of Parliament and the declaration of Martial Law, the country has run beautifully and even it the rebels are a minuscule threat right now, this war has shown just how determined you are as a leader and the people have already voiced their dissatisfaction of the possibility of your retirement. Milady, the cards are too perfect now. The pretenders are dead and gone, we are, if I may dare say, the most influential member in the Western European Union and one of the greatest powers in Europe all because of your wisdom. Not to trust you with power over the destiny of France would be a sin to her people. Your people Lady Zelle."

The Prime Minister's eyes widened at the impossibility of such a change to everything that was happening to France. "Myself? Empress of France?"

"Hearken back to the glory of Napoleon's Empire, Louis' Empire, when the people of France were renown for their culture, their military might, their inner strength. Therese, you could bring all those things back to us. There was once a time when every major power in the world, Prussian, Austrian, Russian, spoke French as the sign of a nation of culture." Jacques smiled and turned away from her. "Naturally this is your decision my dear, but do not disregard the fantastic, especially because it is the fantastic that the people desire most. It is they who wish you be served and if you serve them as their benevolent Empress so that once again they may have pride in France then it should be done. But speak with your people Therese, speak to you soldiers, those who give their lives for your cause everyday. You may be surprised of what you come across." He bowed and opened the doors leading out of Therese's quarters and closed them behind her. Immediately after leaving her quarters, another elderly man in a blue suit and khaki pants walked up to where Jacques stood.

"You told her about the proposal?"

"Yes Victor I did, don't worry, do you honestly think I would get cold feet?"

"No, but I wasn't sure how she would take such an issue, especially one that we have fought so adamantly against the past few months." Victor sighed.

"We fought against a German Monarchy in France Victor, we fought against German encroachment once again, Nordland, Wästerdyskreich, Burgundy, all of them are in the same miserable boat. But we have something here, something real and you saw the gleam in her eyes a few weeks ago. She isn't an innocent little girl, she knows how to lead and she knows how to fight. Plus with Hohenzollern dead, it makes removing his titles so much easier. Originally we were going to have to send him to exile, but this is a walk in the park now."

"And Therese agreed?"

"She said she would think on it, I'm sure I caught her a little off guard, much like everyone else was when we began this idea. But if the Glories of the Empire are returned to France, it is for the best of everyone. She's the only one that can do that now."


The next day amidst a crowd of citizens waving French flags in the city square of the capital, a podium had been erected for the Prime Minister to address her nation about the current war and the future that the world held for France. A future that she intended to create for her people.

[i]People of France,

Today, I bring both you and the world grave news. The King of France, Karl Martin of the House of Hohenzollern has been found dead in Dijon, perhaps a casualty of our civil war we are not sure, all I can say is that his death has brought an end to an era of French history. Because of his death I will pay my respects to a leader of a nation, but I will not pay my respects to him as a leader of France. Citizens, look in our past, in our recent past before the rise of Alain Mamare's Republic and its horrible demise, what was the destiny of the French people? To be ruled by foreigners? In those decades, we as a people have been separated time and time again between various nations. Scotland, the Welsh Empire, Nordland, Wästerdyskreich, Burgundy, and Aquitaine, but only at one point were we able to claim our right as Frenchmen and that was under a republic so corrupt and away from the love of the people that it might as well have been foreign to citizens as you and I.

Instead, if we wish to look at our prosperity as of people, a people of a United France, we must look back beyond the various Republics and their failures, for the times that France was truly a great power was during the various Kingdoms of Louis and the Empire of Napoleon and yet while international glory reigned supreme, was it worth it on the home front? Our history is scattered with civil strife, revolution, war, and chaos, but I stand before you now to put a final end to that chaos. With our great armies already pacifying Troyes, Lyon, and Rheims and fighting currently going on in the Slums of Dijon, a new France prepares to rise itself from the ashes of this war and a chaotic past. I promise to you, France, my people, that never again will a foreigner hold such esteemed offices in our nation, the pretenders' reigns are over and they will never return. Their titles have been removed and while the death of names as Bourbon and Bonaparte hurt our history, they will no destroy us. The German encroachment will be stopped with a firm stand and a friendly smile to our neighbors, while the traitors that now plague France will be destroyed. I promise that we will return to the glories of Louis and Napoleon, but with the common freedom that men like Voltaire and Rousseau dreamed extensively about as well.

The world will learn to respect our name and those who do not respect us will learn to fear us, they will remember what France has done for this world. For the advancement of Western Culture, for the advancement of Humanity and I will serve proudly as your leader until I time when you see it fit not to have me. But I will always, no matter what destiny awaits me. Hold France in my heart.

Vive la France.[/i]

And as Therese stepped down from the podium, cheers erupted throughout Bordeaux, along with Nantes, Paris, Marseilles, and many other cities which had been freed from the rebel's power. Screams of 'Vive la France, Vive la Prime Minister, and Vive la Fille de France' were heard across the country and the first thoughts and the strongest of support, with the old monarchs dead began to look at their young leader as new candidate. A new Joan of Arc who had saved them from the Foreigners and a new Napoleon destined to give them power, strength, and prosperity. An Empress conceived in their thoughts.

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[i]The Slums of Dijon[/i]

...slowly Jean, Claire, and the two soldiers they had with them approached the doors of the ruined church. The doors had already been blasted apart from the explosions that tore through the slums and inside the church itself, it was dark, except for the eerie shade of read stained glass shining through the windows, reflecting off the fire outside. Stepping through the rubble their boots clicked and crunched as they walked deeper into the church, but surprisingly there was not a soul insight and only the sounds of the fire from outside could be heard.

"They'd give up the easiest position they have here? I mean hell, if there was one place I would defend, it would be here." Said Claire looking around cautiously. "Anyone else expecting to be shot right now?"

"Would you shut up?" Jean scowled in a whisper back at her. "I don't know, we're right in the open, if someone wanted to take a potshot at us, they'd be hard pressed to miss. Either they didn't bother holding it, or we're missing something. Anyways, you two." He turned back to the two soldiers. "Take your rifles up towards the steeple and position yourself there. Kill any rebel that enters your line of sight, understood?"

"Yes Sir!" They snapped a salute in unison and both headed off towards the staircase that led to the top of the church. Claire continued too look around the church for any possible signs that someone had been there before or would away someone waiting for that perfect snipe, but there wasn't a sound, besides Jean's heavy breathing.

"I guess we're on the mop-up movement now, we actually di-..." Suddenly there was a scuttle and a kicking of dirt into the air as a shadow bolted off from the far corner of the church towards the stairs leading into the crypt below. Both Jean and Claire whipped out their pistols and took lucky shots as the pistol ran across the room, but nothing hit as he bounded down the staircase, clanking as he went. He had weapons on him, something archaic, but even still, there was the chance it could be wield with deadly accuracy. Without thinking, Jean and Claire bounded towards the staircase and down the darkened marble corridor into the crypt underneath the church. Reaching the end of the staircase both of them stopped, Claire still holding her gun and fingering the knife she kept in her uniform, while Jean placed his hand around the general's rapier that he had been given by Therese.

It was dark, almost too dark to see what was in front of them, the ground was a cracked stone and there were dimly lit torches with dying embers still on the walls. But the sounds of the shadow that had lured them down into the crypt in the first place and Claire couldn't help but smile. "So." She whispered to her commander. "I was right about them being in here, you know."

"You have your eyes?"

"Yeah. Hold on." Claire reached down on her belt and strapped on to her eyes a pair of night vision goggles, they weren't about to walk into the dark blind. "All right." She said after getting them on. "Lets go." Starting to walk, the crypt was motionless, a dank musty smell, their footsteps echoed on the rough stone and the tombs of various dead ran up around twenty feet high with gray columns in the corner of the vault passageways. But as far as Claire could see there wasn't a sign of an enemy in sight. "I don't know Jean, I haven't seen anything ye-...UGH!" Suddenly the flames around the corridors brightened on the torches as light filled the crypt, blinding Claire for a moment as she threw her goggles off. "What the $%&@ was..."

"Greetings, Jean-Phillipe, Mademoiselle Claire, I would like to welcome you both to your burial place." The shadow smiled.

"Ziegraf!" Jean snarled and drew both his gun and sword. "Traitor."

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"Traitor?" Ziegraf chuckled. "How dare you call me a traitor. If anyone should be looking at where their loyalty lies it is you and your leader. Don't you realize that it was the people of Aquitaine that started the aggressive movements against Burgundy. We never wanted anymore than to live in peace, naturally to have what was once Mamare's France, but to live in peace. Now look at what Zelle has done, taken everything and persecuting our people. We gave her the land and what does she do, she removes all power from our King, embarrasses him and begins Mamare's attempt to take over France again. The King of France, should rule France, not this upstart woman."

"I'm sure that would all work really well." Claire said slyly. "If he was still alive."

"What? You lie woman."

"Not at all. The report from our forces came in before we moved into the slums, they found him dead in his bedroom with a bullet in his head. It would appear someone doesn't share the same fervor you do Ziegraf." Jean continued pointing the gun at him. "And you should know, creating a little Germany in France, wasn't going to suit well. You've only build a feeling of xenophobia that isn't going to go away any time soon. The fact that France and the two Germany's ca-"

"Don't you dare compare the Southern Abomination with the Glory of the Reich. They are nothing alike."

Claire rolled her eyes. "This is why Burgundy was pushed back, the people are French and they will always be French and if your King is dead then what is the reason for this revolt?"

Ziegraf sighed. "It was supposed to be a united front against Zelle, Burgundians, Marmare Loyalists, Southerners, but everyone was so divided and the uniting factor just didn't exist. With Karl dead, yes, the rebellion has failed, however. I will not let you two live to see the sunrise."

Before Jean could fire at Ziegraf, the crypt exploded in a burst of gunshots striking the ground around himself and Claire. They jumped towards the sides, taking cover each behind extended tombs as the bullets hit around the stones. Behind them stood three other officers each in old Burgundian uniforms with pistols, standing cautiously waiting for the two National's to make their next move and anytime that either Jean or Claire attempted to get off a shot they were hailed by a storm of bullets coming from both sides where they hid.

"Well we can't stay here all !@#$@#$ day Jean!" Claire yelled, trying to get off a shot at Ziegraf, while Jean did the same to the three officers approaching them. "We have to do something!"

"I know that Claire! We just need...!@#$..." He pulled back his body into the stone wall the bullets nicked the ground around him. "We need a plan."

"Call for backup then!"

"We don't have...$%&@!...Time...we don't have time."

"Well we have to do something!"

"Why don't you both give up!" Ziegraf shouted from the end of the crypt, firing blindly into the corners of the stone. "This is the last thing I can salvage from this rebellion, knowing that you two !@#$%^&* died in a tomb." He fired again and stared at the three officers across from him. "Well? Are they dead?" The three shook their heads, the gunfire had stopped at least at the moment, they couldn't even hear anything from the two stone encroachments, not even as whisper. They moved slowly towards the encroachments, their shoes crunching down hard on the stones of the crypt, until they came to where Claire and Jean sat against the wall, heads tilted to the sides, unmoving, not breathing.

"They're dead sir, I think we can leave now." Said one of the officers.

"Did you check them?" The officers nodded at the command, one walking over towards Jean, another to Claire, one standing in the middle. They walked over and knelt down to look more closely as two, then three, then four shots rang off suddenly and Ziegraf watched in horror as the three officers caught by such surprise wavered for a brief moment then fell. He had already placed his pistol back in its holster, but as he went to pull the gun out again, Jean and Claire jumped out from their stone hideaways and with quick aim fired into him, the first bullet striking his hand and knocking the gun to the ground. The second struck his leg as he feel forward grabbing both wounds as best he could. Ziegraf stared up at the two Nationals approaching him and shook his head. "Its a shame what is going to become of France. One dictator replaced by another. The only time we were successful was when Berlin oversaw our people."

"Its that attitude that brought you here in the first place." Jean fired the last bullet and Ziegraf fell to the ground. Behind them, the tramps of footsteps echoed as the two soldiers Jean had sent to the steeple came down.

"Sir..." One snapped to salute. "The Slums, they've been taken."

"Then its over?" Claire asked, still looking at Ziegraf.

"Alert Bordeaux, Dijon has be pacified and Ziegraf is dead." He smiled at Claire and patted her shoulder. "Yes, so it would seem. That...or everything has jut begun."

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[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wVG-VF9C-M"]The Fourth Empire[/url]

It was an odd sight the grounds leading to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the Burgundian Revolt had been squashed in Dijon and eastern France by the show of arms and ability of the new national government and an era of turmoil was finally at an end. From the time of the collapse of the Mamare-led French Republic, to the rise of Burgundy and Aquitaine to this point in history, the nation of France had never truly existed as a force on the world stage. But with the sound of the tower bells throughout the city of Paris, everything would change. She was French born and bred, almost a first for the country's recent history, she was a woman, even rarer, and to come to wield powers of Kings, Dukes, and perhaps even Kaisers, she was nothing special. Therese Zelle had not had a father of blue-blood, she had not been raised in palaces and she had not danced in luxurious ballroom with grand feasts, she had no noble family and besides the claim of Prime Minister of France, Aquitaine, and Mayor of Bordeaux had not possessed any great civic leadership either. This woman now walked down the Champs Élysées and the streets of Paris to the Cathedral to be crowned, by her very people, Empress of France.

The French people and Therese were tired, they were tired of failing to unite, they were tired of being the tool of German kingdoms and empires throughout recent history that paid no real respect to the French culture besides perhaps a small note of heritage in a flag. They were tired of being led astray by corrupt politicians, by foreigners who pretended to be French citizens at heart. It was that corruption that had thrown the Sixth Republic to its end and it was those foreigners who had given away the people of Alsace-Lorraine to the North Germans. It was regrettable, but the people of France now looked only ahead at what was to come. Therese had served them truly, since the beginning, as Aquitaine always keeping French pride and French loyal first. Her culture was French, her language was French, and her people were French. She promised them a return to the days of glory, which at the given time would be centuries, back to the Empires, back to when the name of France was known across the world, not as a symbol of weakness, but as a symbol and notification of strength, power, and prosperity. This was the France that she desired, that her people desired and Therese swore that she would not abandon them, save it were their wish.

She walked down the avenues towards the Cathedral with a shower of roses falling to her feet from the crowd surrounding her. Walking on foot with guards surrounding her, she was dressed for the first time in her life, with regal robes of a monarch. Velvet robes of purple and red draped down her back, her blonde hair in lose curls bobbed up and down as she walked, and her heels clicked on the smooth pavement as she neared the Cathedral. When the people had decided such a course of action as to place their future into the hands of one woman, one leader once again, there had been skeptics and there would always be skeptics. But the Republican government had failed, time and time again, and to lose the one leader that the French people cared about and they knew that the feeling was mutual with them, to lose Therese to the system of election would be a horrible sin. So they placed their faith in this young girl who stepped into the packed Cathedral where at the end a crown was placed on a velvet cushion. It was a crown of golden laurel wreaths, much as the same crown that Napoleon had once placed upon his head, Therese would do the same.

Standing next to the crown, she turned back around to the congregation behind her and bowed her head. "You, you people who have given me so much. Who I have watched France grow with, to watch her move for greatness once again. This crown that stands before you belongs on each one of your own heads as much as it does my own." She turned back around and lifted the golden crown above her head and smiled. "In the name of the People of France, I live now to serve you with one purpose and one purpose only. To bring glory, strength, and wealth to our people, as Empress of France." And as the crown touched her golden hair and lay softly on her scalp, the crowd in front of her cheered wildly.

"Vive la France!" They yelled. "Vive la France, Vive L'Impératrice!" And the cities across France, Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and many others broke out into song and dance at the proclamation of the new government and the new dream. Once again Versailles would be inhabited by a ruler, an Empress no less and from this, the Seventh French Republic had fallen, only to give rise to the Fourth Empire of France.

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