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The Storm

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As the motorcade pulled up to the Ducal palace, Aidan took note of the sprawling complex. His grandfather had added much more onto the palace than he had remembered from his childhood. Several more ornate buildings, connected to each other in various ways had sprung up around the original structure. In his mind he couldn't really think what any of these had been for except to show the opulence of the Duke while his people were in need. By now the outer bands of the hurricane had begun to hit the city, and rain was pouring from the skies with lightning illuminated the palace from angles giving it a dark and foreboding look. The cars wound their way through the grounds until the reached a sheltered entrance.

The doors were opened by soldiers from the Éire royal guard and Aidan stepped out. He took a look around quickly before Dustin and Major Parker, carrying a large briefcase, made their way around from the other side of the car to join him. The others in the motorcade, mostly various officials from Seylos and Éire filed out making their way into the palace. First Minister Ráichéal made her way over to them extending her hand towards the doors.

"You Majesty, the delegates from Pleinmont and Sark are awaiting us in the east conference room. We've all expressed a desire to at least begin preliminary talks before the official negotiations in order to give our teams time to prepare and to make any adjustments needed before we begin."

Aidan nodded, though this was a bit odd that it wasn't mentioned earlier. However, he thought, it could be nice to lay some groundwork before the talks officially began. As he walked in, he stole a glance behind him seeing Dustin give a brief wave as he walked with the gaggle of officials and their escort. However a few of the Éiran guards seemed to split off from the main group, unfortunately he couldn't see more as the doors shut behind him.

Aidan look to Parker, who had come with him, "Did you-?"

Parker nodded, "I did Your Majesty."

"Trouble?" Aidan said, concern marking his face.

"I don't know yet."

As Parker said that the lights flickered and went out, then a couple seconds after they came back on. The First Minister, who was leading the small group heading to the conference room, turn back and gave a smile, "My apologies, the storm has been causing power issues all over the cities. The backup generators should be working just fine however, I don't believe we will be experiencing any other disruptions."

Aidan hoped that was the case.

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"And you want to tell me it's just out of the kindness of your heart that Pleinmont be subjected to Seylosian rule forever? Haven't you seen what being underneath the boot of Éire has done to us? That grandfather of yours spent years sucking our lands dry!" The man across the table from Aidan shouted. Ambassador Moss Collins was a short man, with an almost uncontrollable temper at times. His arrival at the ducal palace had been almost as dramatic as his current tirade, and he never tired of admonishing the Éireanns or the Seylosians.

Aidan took a second to collect himself after this latest shouted speech from Collins, "Ambassador, I can assure you we have no intentions of repeating the sins of the former Duke. We are all well aware of how the people of Pleinmont were affected by his actions. I only wish to-"

"What? Annex us?" Collins interrupted.

"No Mr. Collins I don't plan on rolling tanks through the capital and stealing territory. What I want, and what I think all of us here want is a voluntary union. A real shot at a united kingdom that can benefit us all."

Collins rolled his his eyes, "Your family history does not instill me confidence King Aidan. Your family has an unfortunate habit of going slightly insane."

It took an enormous amount of self control for Aidan to not jump across the table and slam his fist into the ambassador's face. He didn't need to be constantly reminded of his family's tumultuous history. "Now-"

"I think-" Again Aidan was interrupted, but this time by Hugo Walton, the ambassador from Sark. "-that Ambassador Collins is simply trying to convey our collective trepidations about entering into a union in such an unknown environment. We've been dealing with the unequal relationship between Éire, Pleinmont, and Sark for decades now. Mostly, might I add while Seylos stood by and watched. Why is it now that Seylos has become so interested in us? We need to know that we are much more than just some land to be signed over by a deceased grandfather."

"Indeed, Seylos has usually been kept afar from Éireann politics. While a union is certainly legally possible, many people in Éire are dubious of the intentions of a grandchild of the Duke, even if he is a Redmond in name," First Minister Ráichéal spoke up. Her voice was calm and collected. He gaze locked with Aidan's making him feel a sense of unease for the second time after arriving here. 

The wind outside began to howl louder than before, and the rain began to shake the windows as it continued its assault on the ducal palace's walls. Suddenly the lights shut off again, plunging the room into darkness. Standing behind Aidan, Major Parker quickly pulled out his flashlight, bathing the room in a harsh white glow. Aidan could see him mumbling under his breath but couldn't hear with the storm raging outside.

Ráichéal stood up, still acting much calmer than anyone else in the room. "Excuse me a second, I'm sure the generators simply need to be refueled."

Aidan raised his eyebrow, "I don't recall Éire having a fuel shortage."

"I'm sure it will all be sorted," She replied with a thin smile which quickly fell back into a cold expressionless face. She motioned to her bodyguard who walked out with her into the hallway, closing the door behind them. They watched as their flashlight illuminated silhouettes walked along the wall of frosted glass that adorned the hallway side of the room. Eventually the disappeared leaving the group.

Aidan stood up and turned to Parker who stood nervously, his hand sitting close to his waist where is weapon was concealed. "What are you thinking?"

Parker grumbled somewhat before replying, "I'm thinking a palace would have plenty of petrol for its generators."

"Well there is a sudden hurricane going on outside, I suppose... what?" Aidan looked intently at Parker, who had seemed to not be paying attention. 

Parker stood there still, before clicking off his own flashlight leaving the other guards in the room to exchange a quizzical look. His narrowed eyes suddenly widening, "Down!"

Suddenly the glass wall exploded in automatic fire raking the room with bullets as Parker dove into Aidan slamming him onto the floor behind the room's conference table. Almost immediately two of the other bodyguards in the room collapsed to the ground having taken several bullets. Aidan could hear the others in the room yelling and watched as Collins clumsily threw himself over the side and curled into a ball beside him. Overcoming his initial shock Aidan turned toward Parker waving his hand toward himself and yelling, "Gun!"

Parker stopped firing back at the dark assailants and tossed his pistol over to Aidan, who in turn aimed over the cover of the table firing back at the bright muzzle flashes. Parker grabbed the suitcase he had brought with him and wrenched it open, revealing another pistol with more ammunition clips. 

"I thought those were my negotiation papers?!" Aidan yelled over the gunfire.

Parker slammed a clip into the pistol from the suitcase while motioning with his hands pointing out targets he had seen behind the cover of the table. "I didn't think we'd be doing much negotiating!"

The automatic fire stopped for a brief second and Parker nodded to Aidan who nodded back. Both men rose over the cover of the table and started firing at where the enemy had been shooting at them from just moments before unloading their clips before retreating behind the cover of the table again. They both reloaded, then waited being greeted on by silence. Parker took a second to steal a glimpse above the top of the table which was covered in bullet holes. He looked at Aidan making another motion with his hands while whispering, "Cover"

Aidan nodded waiting for the crouched form of Parker to round the table before emerging himself pointing his pistol towards where their assailants had been. Parker's flashlight lit up the scene revealing three men all dead in the midst of the shattered glass they had been firing through. Aidan stood up and looked down and Collins who had uncurled himself and was shakily trying to sit up. He heard a groan from the other side of the room and ran over, taking not that Parker was still in the hallway. Underneath the body of one of his guards Ambassador Walton was shaking in fear with a look of pain on his face. Aidan pulled the dead guard off of him and grabbed one of the fallen flashlights on the floor, "Are you alright?"

Walton nodded slowly sitting up, "I don't think it's that bad. Is it?"

Aidan shone the flashlight on his arm revealing what appeared to be small flesh wound. "You'll be alright. Come on now."

Aidan started helping him up, seeing the look of terror on Walton's face as he saw the guard that had died saving him. In the distance Aidan could hear more than the sounds of the hurricane, distant gunfire from all around.

"Area's clear Your Majesty," Parker called from the hall, "We need to get moving."


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"Come on now" Aidan said harshly, pulling Walkton with him, Collins sheepishly in tow. Up ahead, Parker was advancing slowly down the hallway towards a set of side stairs they had passed on their way up. Both Aidan and Parker has taken the now dead assailants weapon, which had been surprisingly well armed. Aidan rushed a little to get closer to Parker who took a quick glance behind him.

"Your Majesty please-"

"Don't 'Your Majesty please' me Parker, we're in this together right now. You aren't taking on all these people by yourself. Drop the your majesties for the moment."

"Sir... I need to get you out of here safe. I can't do that if your busy shooting people right beside me." Parker replied, worry on his face.

"Well if we shoot people together maybe we can both get out of this. Let's save this discussion for later and get to those stairs."

Parker nodded and sighed in frustration. He turned his full attention back towards the end of the hallway continuing his advance while Aidan and the ambassadors tailed behind. The spent some time weaving around the long halls, hearing the sounds of gunfire in the large palace complex. Eventually the found something worth investigating. In front of them was a small door, indicating a stairwell. Parker went through first followed by the others, but instead of being greeted by the stairwell an elevator door was in front of them. It was an older style elevator, and guessing by the table full of old snacks and drink cans there were guards posted there at some point.

Parker looked back towards Aidan, "Sir?"

"I suppose it's time to take a ride in a lift, come on get in."

Parker opened the doors to the elevator, which was strangely still in operation. Aidan quickly shepherded the ambassadors into the elevator with them.

"Were are we going?" Collins spoke up.

Aidan glanced at him while pressing one of the only two buttons on the elevator, "f*ck if I know, but it's out of the line of fire."

When the doors closed behind them Parker turned to Aidan, "Sir, shouldn't we be making our way out? Or at the very least trying to get to the Duke?"

A pang of anxiety ran through Aidan. He knew Dustin was in danger but he had to think clearly and pushed any thoughts out of his head, "He can take care of himself Parker. We went through a coup together, I'm more than confident he can take care of some terrorists."

Parker silently nodded as the elevator finally came to a halt. He wrenched the doors opened and slowly moved out into the deserted hallway in front of them. It was dark, but still lit slightly with what appeared to be emergency lights. The musty smell of what was in front of him confirmed how old this place was. Water stains ran down the decaying concrete walls while rusted piped ran along the ceiling.

"You and the ambassadors follow me closely sir," Parker said holding his rifle in front of him advancing slowly down the hallway. The flickering lights lent another layer of dispair as the group slowly made its way through the underground. Walkton turned to Collins shaking his head, his eyes wide in fear.

"What are we even doing down here?"

Collins shrugged, while Aidan stared him down, "I was hoping we wouldn't die down here, or do you have a better idea ambassador?"

Walkton recoiled slightly when the whole part froze. Somewhere in the distance there was some sort of noise. Too random to be machinery, maybe even the sound of footsteps. Parker signaled toward a close door, a heavy metal contraption. Both Aidan and Park cranked the door open while pushing slightly opening the door allowing the whole party to slip in. Aidan and Parker quickly pushed the door closed while resealing it. What they walked into though was bizarre. Around them were some old CRT televisions and some newer flatscreen monitors. To one side a small bank of computer sat in idle and on the other side of the room resided a large series of shelves loaded with VHS tapes. The walls were covered with papers and pictures. Writing scribbled over all of them.

"What is all this?" Collins whispered.

Aidan approached the wall with the tapes, slowly moving his hands over the various cases until he settled on a tape labeled only a month ago. He pulled itout and opened the case, producing the tape within.

"Sir, I seriously recommend we don't watch anything right now, somebody could hear us," Parker said, glancing at the door behind them all.

"I'll keep it quiet Parker, but this was my grandfather's. I just need to see. This has to have been something he was using." Aidan said glancing back Parker. Parker furrowed his brows in concern but nodded, letting his king explore his curiosity.

Aidan took the tape and walked over to one of the CRT televisions turning it on, he made sure to turn the volume low before he inserted the tape into the integrated tape player. As soon as the tape wound up he say the image of his grandfather, Mághnus Mac Aodhagáin on the monitor.

"It's been years but I finally feel I am close. I can save my daughter and stop those disgusting Seylosians. I've spent years playing their games and placating their pathetic royal family. She needs to be back with me, her father. Henry showed some promise, but Aidan... He's pathetic. Doesn't he see the enemies around him? Doesn't he see what they could do to Eleanora? It doesn't matter I've arranged for to be taken back to me in the next few months and I can finally deal with the Seylosians. She doesn't need to be near him. I know she filled his mind with all these... ideals. But she'll listen to her father I know she will. We've spent so long developing these weapons and they are finally almost ready. I can kill them all you know? Every single god forsaken Seylosian. I can only hope I hit the palace directly. Kill him. HIM. He's keeping me from her and Henry couldn't stop him... the idiot. Just need to... deploy the weapons, make him watch them all suffer. Watch them all die. I'll -"

Aidan hit the eject button on the tape stopping the video. He spent a second just staring at the blank screen.

"Christ, I knew it. Mághnus was insane he could have killed everyone in Pleinmont and Sark!" Collins blurted but was quickly shut up with a glancing scowl from Parker.

Paker slowly walked towards Aidan and put a hand on his shoulder, "Sir... Aidan are you ok?"

Aidan didn't move, still just staring at the blank screen. He couldn't muster any words and just muttered, "My god."


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Aidan turned around to grab his rifle that he had laid down when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around sharply to see Parker looking at him. "Your Majesty, I need you to stay out of harm's way. I've kept you alive most of today, I don't intend on letting you get hurt now. I'll take care of this."

Parker took his hand off of Aidan's shoulder looking directly into his eyes. Aidan reluctantly nodded, he had always been more of a man of action but in this situation running gun ho into a fight felt ridiculous even to him.

"Your Majesty, Lord Garth is waiting for you. I would suggest you be with him. There's a lot of scared people who need someone like you right now."

Aidan stared at him for a moment, then blinked. He resisted the urge to shake his head while clearing his mind and gave a simple nod. Parker nodded back in return grabbing one of the Seylosian guards and ordering him to escort the king back to the main group. Aidan watched as he ran back towards to the growing group of palace guards and Seylosians to take the fight to the rebels that has stormed the palace.

For awhile everything seemed slightly in a blur. He walked past what felt like more than a dozen people rushing past him towards the fight. A fight he felt such an urge to get back to. Eventually though, they made their way over to the main entrance again, the sound of sporadic echoing gunshots behind them. Nobody registered their arrival, mostly wrapped up in their own terror, but almost as soon as he entered the room he heard a familiar voice call out to him, "Aidan! Oh god Aidan are you alright?"

Dustin ran up and nearly tackled him, "Oh god I had no idea what was going on. Are you alright?"

Aidan embraced him back and took a second taking a look around. He grabbed Dustin holding him tightly and guiding him towards some door close to the main entrance. There was a Seylosian bodyguard nearby who approached him, seeming to warn him off but in his hurry he just waved at him. He heard Dustin speak briefly but he threw the door open and dragged Dustin in. Inside was a some sort of closet, not terribly small but enough to fit all sorts of janitorial supplies. Aidan turned to look at Dustin but didn't make a sound just staring at him.

"Aidan, are you alright?" Dustin asked in concern. He could see something was incredibly wrong with the king.

Aidan just stood there silently staring at him. Dustin felt Aidan's hand hold his arm hard in a vice grip.

He couldn't control his breathing anymore at that point, Aidan started heaving in and out and looked around in a panic, and was grasping onto Dustin for what felt like dear life. He couldn't focus and all he could do was grasp onto his partner, the only thing here that made him feel safe.

Dustin at this point was almost panicking himself, but almost immediately understood what was happening. He just grabbed Aidan holding him in his arms.




Parker was looking back and forth between the old blueprints that had been found in the room and straight ahead. Him, the bodyguards, and several palace guards were advancing down what felt like an endless series of tunnels under the palace complex. But Parker knew what they were looking for, and the dire consequences if they couldn't secure it before these terrorists could. After awhile of moving forward they could hear voices up ahead, he silently motioned to his group to get ready for the upcoming confrontation. Approaching a corner in the corridor, Parker peaked around and saw a door only a few feet away wide open. Inside several men were hurriedly trying to move large metal crates. He quickly looked back and gave the signal to move, at this point no amount of strategy was going to beat their element of surprise through that open door.

Parker and his group of guard rounded the corner, opening fire almost immediately. The closest enemy to the door was cut down quickly while the other scrambled to rally, throwing down their crated and hurriedly trying to get to their weapons. By this point though it was too late, Parker and his guards had already breached the opening laying down fire through the whole room. What terrorists were left were returning fire while trying to retreat. However Parker could see something wrong, even though most of the enemy had decided to return to engage them there was a bright light flickering around the corner where the other exit was.

By the time the battle was over, several of his guards were injured and most of the enemy was dead save a few that had been captured. But he had already known what was going to happen. He ran up to the heavy steel door on the other of the room and saw the welding marks. They had sealed it from the other side, and he knew the couldn't pursue them through the hurricane.


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