Disclaimer, I own nothing, don't sue me.

Chapter 3: Spark of the rebellion

"Why do I need a sword again? I'm good with a blade but I prefer my dusters for close encounters of the bloody kind." Saito questioned Louise as they strolled down the main street. It was the day of the void, some kind of holiday he didn't particularly care for and classes were out for the day.

Instead of spending the time training or working out pinkie's magic though, it had been unilaterally decided that they would be heading down into the city to stock up on supplies and obtain a sword for him. Normally, Saito would never have agreed to such a waste of time but on the account that Louise had been working hard recently he'd decided to give her a break.

"You need a proper weapon, not those barbaric pieces of metal you swing around. Its bad enough people still believe I hired a mercenary to be my familiar, I don't need people thinking you're a barbarian as well."

"Nonsense, my dusters are a work of art! I had them forged from the wreckage of the first avatar I brought down myself. I will have you know, where I come from, these are a gentlemen's weapon."

The look on Louise's face clearly displayed that she wasn't buying any of it. "Why do I not believe you? And do you have any more secret abilities you want to tell me? Like I don't know, how you can keep up with a galloping horse on foot!?"

"What can I say, GDI has trained me well… as to what else I can do, what did I teach you about classified information again?"

Louise heaved a sigh as her familiar evaded her questioning yet again, it was starting to become a habit and she didn't even know why she bothered anymore. Nothing about herself was normal so why should her familiar be any different, familiars were supposed to be reflections of the mage after all.

"Information to be given on a need to know basis. Right now, I don't need to know. Information I don't have is information that cannot be taken. Did I miss anything oh great and wonderful sensei?"

Her sarcastic answer was met with a cheerful "nope!" from the current bane of her existence. "Well, we're here, please for the love of Brimir don't start a fight."

"Oh come on partner, I don't start fights, I just end them. It's not my fault those nobles believe their faces are tougher than my fists. Besides, the headmaster doesn't have a problem with it. I do believe he called it character building."

"Ah welcome dear customers gehk! A noble!? Uh, I mean all the wares are the real deal and fairly priced. Nothing criminal going on here."

The shop was dimly lit, curtains covered the windows and allowed minimal sunlight in, the only source of illumination within the shop was a small gas lamp. The shelves and display rack were cluttered with weapons and a single suit of armour stood near the counter as decoration.

"Very well, I'm here as a customer today. I'm looking for a sword, give me your best and spare no expense." Louise spoke imperiously before her attention was drawn to her familiar repeatedly introducing his forehead to the wall.

"What are you doing stupid familiar?"

"Haaah… it seems I still have a lot I need to teach you about how this world works." Saito waited for the shopkeeper to disappear into a backroom before continuing.

"In an establishment like this, you do not ask for the best and most expensive items. You do not ask for anything, period. You just look around until you find what you need, only ask for the backroom stuff if you know the owner personally or have a contact."

The familiar sniffed disdainfully and cast his gaze around the shady shop. "Really, anyone who tries to assure you that they aren't doing anything criminal and that their prices are 'fair' are highly suspect. Just you wait partner, when he comes back out, he's going to present some flashy but completely useless weapon and charge you a fortune for it."

True to his words, the shopkeeper came out carrying a massive greatsword made entirely out of gold and set with countless precious gems. "This is the best weapon I have in my whole shop. Crafted by the great Germanian alchemist Lord Shupei, this is something most nobles wish they could wield. Only the truly mighty may wield this."

Louise's gaze never once left the mirror like sheen of the blade, entranced by her own reflection in it. "And that's not all my lady, countless enchantments are built into the blade itself, this thing will cut through steel without any resistance and is almost completely impervious to damage. This is a sword worthy of a king, nay a legend!"

The young noble was practically drooling now as she bought into the sales pitch completely. "If you buy this, I guarantee you not even that dastardly thief Fouquet the Crumbling Dirt will dare try to steal from you. Tell you what, you seem like a nice girl, I'll let you have this beauty for just 2000 ecus or 3000 new gold coins."

"What!? That's enough money to buy a brand-new holiday villa! I only brought 100 new gold coins with me." As Louise's spirits began to sink, Saito spoke up for the first time since the sword was brought in.

"That's pretty expensive for a sword. Tell me, what happens if the sword doesn't live up to your words? I mean, enough gold to buy a new house isn't a small amount you know. Not that I doubt your words or anything but what if you're wrong?"

"Ah? I stand by the quality of my goods and I assure you dear customer, all my goods have undergone a thorough vetting process. If it doesn't live up I'll give you a full refund."

"I see… very well, we'll take it."

"B-but we don't have the money for it!"

"Correction. You don't." Saito removed a heavy bag of gold from within his jacket and tossed it on the counter where it landed with a solid thump. The cord unfurled and within several gold coins slid out to the widened eyes of Louise and the shopkeeper. "There's two thousand gold coins in that bag, you'll get the other thousand once I've made sure I'm getting my money's worth."

"Uh… uh yes, yes of course! Feel… feel free… to… uh…" the shopkeeper could barely reply, all his attention was fixed on counting the coins and celebrating the fact that he'd hit the jackpot.

Saito ignored the disbelieving look from his partner and grasped the hilt. Picking it up in one hand, he inspected the weapon. 'balance is completely off and its way too light to be made from gold. Yup, it's a load of crap like I thought, well, time to test it out.'

He pretended to continue inspecting the blade before swinging it down on the counter without warning. The pristine blade shattered on contact with the stone desk and he received two yelps of surprise for his efforts.

Tossing the broken sword on the desk, Saito swiped the bag of gold from under the nose of the stunned shopkeeper.

"I paid for an indestructible gold sword you cheat, not a toy made out tin and lead. You have any swords in here actually worth my time?"

Turning to Louise, he gave an exaggerated sigh before speaking again, "right, I do hope you've learnt your lesson partner. Never trust shady salesman in rundown shops, most of the time they're trying to defraud you."

"Gahahaha, he's got you pinned old chap. Eh, you seem like you know your way around swords, come over here for a sec would ya?"

"Oh shut up Derf, don't you have anything better to do than annoy me and my customers?"

"Well since I'm not going anywhere and you just left me in a corner… not really." The voice was coming from a pile of swords and Saito's eyes picked out one of the swords that seemed to be moving its guard on its own.

"Talking swords? Guess you see something new every day." Picking his way across the clutter, Saito drew the weapon out of the pile and noticed it was old. Very old. Rust covered virtually ever inch of the blade and the scabbard was so tattered it was barely hanging on.

"What's the matter kid? Never seen a talking sword before?" The guard moved on its own again and Saito was sure the voice was coming from it and not someone trying to trick him into buying another piece of crap. The power he'd come to associate with wielding a weapon suffused his being so at least he knew it was still viable.

"I think I'll take this."

"B-but its just a piece of junk! Look at it! Is there anything on it that isn't rusted or falling to pieces?"

"How rude! Little lady, I'll have you know that you stand in the presence of the great Derflinger. You should count your lucky stars, few have ever managed to do so."

"Yeah, mostly because you annoy all of them into leaving or returning you." The shopkeeper grumbled as he buried his face in his hands, still lamenting the failure of his scam.

"I'll take it."

"Knock yourself out boy, that'll be 1000 new gold coins."

"I have a better offer, you give this to me for free alongside a maintenance kit and I won't report you to the authorities. How does that sound?"

"F-fine! Take it and go! I don't want to deal with you people anymore!" the shopkeeper pulled out a small wooden box from beneath the counter and chucked it at Saito's head. The amused general just plucked it out of the air with one hand, after checking to ensure it held exactly what it was supposed to, he chuckled and motion for Louise to leave with him.

"Pleasure doing business with you."

"Piss off!"

"What was that!? You… you just made him give you a sword for free. And… and why didn't you ask for a better sword if you could have any of them."

"That, is what you call negotiating. One of my duties as general was to conduct negotiations from time to time so I'm well versed in the art. As to why this particular sword… it's a talking sword. How can I not want it?"

"Gahahah, I'm starting to like you, wielder. This is the start of a glorious partnership."

"Still, I must warn you Derf, I'm not a sword person. I'm a more hands-on type of guy."

"Hmmm… well, we'll work something out eventually. As long as you don't leave me in a corner to rot I think we'll get along just fine."

Seeing that she was being left behind, Louise hurried to catch up with her familiar. "And how did you get that much money anyway? That's more gold than I have in the school, it's more gold than what my parents send me for an entire year!"

"Oh the gold? Well, I am a stranger in a strange land, there's no harm in stocking up some reserve currency for emergencies. It's a good habit to have pinkie. The gold itself was from the headmaster to answer your question. I did a bit of negotiating with him while you were at class and we came to an agreement."

"Please tell me you didn't threaten him…"

"Of course not, I just made a few suggestions and we came to a mutually beneficial arrangement. Besides, he's the one with the better end of the deal."

"I don't suppose you'll be telling me what that deal is?"

"Need to know partner, need to know."

-line break

Saito ducked under a water whip before leaping back to take distance. Outwardly his face remained impassive but he was grinning on the inside, yet another noble had challenged him to a duel, ostensibly to avenge some great insult he'd given.

On account of his unprecedented strength and brutality, the nobles had quickly figured out that challenging him in a match with victory conditions set to opponent's inability to stand was a very bad idea. Rules of the current match were first to first blood by any means necessary.

His opponent was doing his best to use the rules against him, surrounding himself with two rings of rapidly spinning high pressure water jets and striking out with ranged attacks from behind his shield. Credit where credit was due, it was a decent strategy, any attempt to close the distance would end with Saito being struck by either the attacks or the spinning rings, losing him the match.

Sure, the general had a stock of knives on him he could always start chucking. He wasn't anywhere near good enough to rate as an expert but he had confidence in hitting a relatively stationary target. That would secure the win but victory wasn't on the cards for this match.

Nope, Saito was going to lose.


That meant another payday.

He'd received word from the headmaster, this time round the faculty had started wising up and were beginning to place their bets on him. To keep up appearances, the old fogey had bet on him again but through his secretary had placed a side bet.

Time to take a fall and rake in the dough.

Saito had been pretty pissed when he found out about the betting ring set up by the headmaster after one of the professors had gotten the idea to 'convince' him to throw the next match or else. The general had laughed his ass off at the perpetrator's non-existent attempt to hide his trail and left an unmarked dagger buried next to the man's head while he was asleep. No evidence leading back to him but the message had been sent.

He'd confronted the headmaster after that and in the end, they'd worked out an agreement. Keep fighting according to the headmaster's schedule and collect a share of the proceeds. A small part of his conscience protested that beating up a bunch of kids for spending money was highly unethical. That part was swiftly and silently assassinated by his more mercenary side before it could gain ground.

He didn't even remember the name of the guy he was fighting, some Katar or something, one of the few water line class mages among the second years. Saito had a good grasp of the boy's skill levels now and he had to say that this one was better than most of the trash he'd crushed.

Not quite good enough to beat him yet but the potential was there. The show had been going for ten minutes now and they'd drawn quite a crowd.

'About time I think, he's starting to tire and I think I've done enough to make it look like an actual defeat.'

Saito slowed down the speed of his swings as though he was getting tired. Dodging to the left, he swung Derf and cut two water whips apart before being too slow to turn away from the third.

There was a brief burning sensation as the whip scored a line down his right cheek and blood began to flow. The gasps of shock from his audience were audible as he took his first defeat since beating Guiche days ago.

Lowering Derf, Saito reached up and rubbed his bloody cheek before inspecting the hand. "I'm bleeding… congratulations. This match is yours, I look forward to fighting you again someday."

Saito bowed before walking off, leaving the stunned crowd behind. Time to collect his winnings after all. His journey was interrupted by a large red lizard blocking his path.

"Well hello there, nice to see you again Charmander." He reached out to pet the lizard's head before the familiar stretched out its neck to grab hold of his sleeve, trying to drag him elsewhere.

"Woah, slow down boy!"

The salamander dragged him all the way to his master's room. Saito noted the dim lighting and scent of… spices? Kirche was seated on the bed wearing a very revealing outfit that accentuated her body extremely well.

"What. Do. You. Want."

Kirche let out a soft giggle before switching to a more suggestive pose. "No need to be so uptight dear, I think we got off on the wrong foot… so why don't we… get. To. Know. Each. Other. Hmm?"

The general resisted the urge to sigh, she was a student, a child, this called for some tact.

"Piss off bitch."


"I told you already, I am Louise's partner and you will get nothing from me. Tell your masters I will die before I betray her… and that you need work before you're even ready to be a spy."

"I am not a spy!" Kirche responded hotly, offended by Saito's accusations. "And I'd never do anything to hurt Louise, she's my friend!"

Saito dragged up the memories of the interactions between Louise and Kirche before huffing in disbelief. "Could have fooled me. You're a Germanian and she's the daughter of a duke, excuse me if I don't buy that you're not trying to exploit her."

"But I'm not!"

"Tell it to someone who cares. This is your last warning lady Zerbst, you try to get to Louise through me again and I'll see to it that you have an accident."

Saito did an about face and wrenched open the door, coming face to face with the pinkie in question. "Come on partner, there's nothing to be done here. I've already given the spy one last notice."

The duo walked away in silence, leaving the shocked Kirche behind.

"Hey familiar."


"Would you… would you really hurt Kirche if she tries to sed… get you again."

"Of course not partner, I would never hurt her. If she's still breathing after I'm done then I've failed."

Louise stopped in her tracks at Saito's casual mention of assassinating her fellow classmate. "You'd kill her? Just for trying to-"

"If she does have an accident it will be because she's still trying to spy on you."

"She's not a spy!"

"Of course she's a spy." Saito chided Louise and made a mental note to bump national politics up on the teaching schedule.

"A Germanian noble studying in a Tristainian school? Even if she isn't consciously spying, I have zero doubts that her letters to home are read by Germanian intelligence."

"You're not making sense, Kirche would never do something like that!"

"She doesn't have to, you can learn a lot about something just by observing. Look around you partner, this is the most prestigious institution in all of Tristain, the students here are the future leadership of your nation. What self-respecting nation won't have eyes and ears in this place? This is where the future is built, and if you have a hand in it, you can bend a nation to your will. Children are far more malleable than adults, and this is the best place to try influencing them. So many future leaders gathered in one place without any of their more politically savvy parents around to protect them. The only way things could be anymore perfect would be if the staff themselves were foreign agents… a possibility I am not ruling out yet."

"Aren't you overthinking things?"

"Nope. Tell me partner, how many boys have fallen under her sway now? How many more will do so? You're still young so I can forgive you for not seeing it but that has to change. By virtue of who you're related to, plenty of people will seek to use you and you'll be the one hurt in the end."

"…But she's my friend. Can't I… can't I even be friends with others now?"

"I never said that. Just be careful about what you do and say, even if Zerbst isn't actively spying on you, don't think for an instant that others aren't watching. Like that mage with the dragon, Tabitha. Her posture, her eyes, her actions… she's either a spook or a field agent, haven't really got her pinned yet but she's definitely foreign intelligence."

"No way! She's always so quiet."

"Out of sight, out of mind. People tend to be looser with their actions and words when they think no one's watching. And she doesn't have to do much I think, Zerbst can usually be found in her company when not fooling around. No doubt all that bragging will have given her quite a good deal of data to send to her superiors."

"And what about you then? I know you've been spending time near her. You even play chess with her on the roof after school!"

"I'm keeping her in check. I know she's a spy. She knows that I know she's a spy. But neither of us has the evidence or need to do anything… yet."


"Point is, by being there, she can't do anything overtly suspicious, not without giving me a reason to bust her and blow her cover. Hmm… she could probably use magic to continue her espionage even with me present but as long as she doesn't know the extent of my abilities, she won't go too far. Any potential damage is limited as long as I'm a wild card. And relax, I may not like her profession but I won't off her without very good reason, the spy you know is always better than the new one you don't that they slip in after you take out the old."

Louise bowed her head as he considered her familiar's words. To her horror, she could see the logic in them and that left a sense of disquiet in her stomach. "How do you live with it then? If you're right, then won't the paranoia eat at you? I… I never asked for this. I just… I just…"

"I got used to it. You wanted to be a noble, this is the life of a noble, the sword of Damocles hangs overhead eternally. I just opened your eyes to it early. Write to your family, ask them about it. I'm sure they have better advice for you than I can give."


-line break

Inquisitor Saito sat at the bar nursing a drink, construction efforts at the orphanage was coming along smoothly. Tiberium reserves were starting to run low due to usage far outstripping its generation but he'd just have to grin and bear it.

On the bright side, the disruption towers had finally been completed and construction on a fourth refinery had begun, once it was complete he should have the resources needed to begin construction on turrets.

Taking another sip of the cheap watered-down ale, he sighed and mused about how his charges were doing. The fighting was between Reconquista and the royalists was beginning to escalate and the only defences at the base were the towers and six measly squads of awakened.

Saito grimaced as he pushed aside the thought of Westwood village being overrun by enemies. His current situation felt too much like some of the more desperate struggles he was part of during the final days of the third tiberium war.

After the visitors arrived and began mopping the floor with both the GDI oppressors and NOD, the rules of engagement had changed. Before that, he could count on allied support going in, once most of the military infrastructure in the yellow zones had been ground to paste however, most of that support was cut off.

What followed was mission after desperate mission of trying to smuggle in enough troops and supplies to build up a proper force without being discovered and exterminated by enemy air superiority. Most of the time, his forces only lasted for a single successful mission before the enemy regrouped and crushed them.

Constantly on the run with little more than an MCV and light armour for protection, every thing else was too visible and had to be abandoned or face complete annihilation. Still, at least he was stationed in the ruins of the cities where his forces could camouflage against the background, even the massive MCV. He pitied the poor souls who had to fight in the Amazonian desert, may the prophet guide them to paradise.

And thinking about doomed causes brought him back to his current conundrum. At least back on Earth retreating and hiding was always an option. Right now though, they were stuck on an island. A floating island. In the middle of the sky.

Just the thought of it drew out a long-suffering sigh from the commander. Where the hell was he supposed to evacuate Tiffa and the orphans to? Where could they run that the enemy couldn't follow?

The Marked were tough sons of bitches and could punch way above their weight but magic was a complete wild card. He had no idea how the awakened would fair against mages and he did not want to find out until he had a stronger army.

The base was hidden but NOD never did figure out how to stealth the disruption towers themselves and Albion was famous for their thrice damned dragon knights. All he needed was one patrol to fly past and shit would rain from the sky.

Those dragons were said to be bullet proof and the muskets of this world could barely scratch them. Sure, his guns were far more advanced and they were designed to put down fleshlings but he also remembered just how tough the scrin 'fleshlings' were.

Saito needed an air force and he needed it bad, but he was just too damned strapped for tiberium to be able to afford an air tower and the flights of venom patrol craft he desired. Shit, he didn't even have the funds for a war factory and some basic vehicles like the attack bikes and raider buggies.

Downing the remaining dregs of his drink, the inquisitor weighed the two options in his head. A proper air force would allow him to fight off both air and ground offensives but there was no guarantee that he'd be able to amass enough air power to hold the base before they were attacked in force.

On the other hand, he could commit his resources to a war factory and pump out enough bikes and buggies to evacuate Westwood's inhabitants in the event of discovery. But, that would leave him dangerously short on supplies and in the event they were never discovered, set his production schedule far behind.

Saito grunted as the friendly barkeep took his cup and topped up his drink before setting it down in front of him. "Here you go kid, on the house. Gotta keep our spirits up in these dark times eh?"

The inquisitor grunted in acknowledgement before taking a sip of the drink, enjoying the feel of it burning down his throat.

"So what troubles you?"


"Come on kid, it's never nothing. A problem shared is a problem halved, so tell old uncle Charles what troubles you. Hmm, no don't tell me… you got an eye on some wench then? Don't quite know how to approach her? Never fear, I may not look like it but I was quite the charmer back in the day, I'll share a few tips with you, just gotta ask."

"Sigh… nothing quite like that. I'm worried about the civil war. They say the fighting's only going to worsen and… I don't know how to protect my family. I'd get them to evacuate but this is a floating island, where would I run to that the fires of war won't follow?"

"Hmmm…" Charles' face wrinkled in contemplation before he spoke again.

"Well, normally I'd say pick up a sword and fight for king and country, best way to protect yourself from those Reconquista scum is to beat them back after all. But yeah… have you considered moving them to the mainland? I hear Tristain's weather is pretty good this time of year. Then there's always Romalia, no better time than now for a pilgrimage I think."

"I did consider that, but we don't have the money for it and we don't know anyone in the other nations. For better or for worse, our roots are planted firmly in Albion."

"Hmm, then all you can do is keep your head down and pray to the founder Reconquista doesn't come knocking. Commoners like us can't do much against those nobles. The sooner the royalists win the sooner we can go back to our lives."

"I don't see what's so good about the royals though. Aren't they nobles as well, this civil war looks like a pissing contest between two power hungry groups with the people caught in the middle."

"OI! Watch your words kid, that's blasphemy right there."

"Sorry, sorry, not in the best of moods right now." Saito sighed and placated the irate barkeep before downing his drink.

"Hmmph, yeah I understand, having your family safety on the line can do that to a person but do be careful of who you say that kind of thing to yeah? Some people don't take to kindly to the kind of talk that can get entire villages condemned as heretics to be burnt at the stake, specially if you're insulting Cromwell"

"…Surely you jest."

Saito gave Charles a disbelieving stare only to be met by a dead serious one, the barkeep swept the room with a cautious glance before lowering his voice and speaking once he was sure there was no one else in the bar with them.

"I'm 100% serious here kid, you know the leader of Reconquista? The self-proclaimed will of the founder? The bastard Cromwell? He's been going on about how it is our god given mission to launch a holy crusade against the elves to reclaim the holy lands. That because good King James has failed to even attempt preparing for one is proof that he is a heretic and has lost the right to lead."

Charles took a large swig from his own mug and swore a blue streak.

"Yellow-bellied coward had the guts to claim that it was with great reluctance that he had to step up to the throne to ensure the founder's will be done. Never mind the fact that a holy crusade is a death sentence. I'll bet you my life savings that he'll remain here feasting while the men get slaughtered by those bloody monsters."

"Are the elves really that terrifying?"

"Kid what the heck have your parents been teaching you?"

"Nothing, they've been dead for years, I mostly live alone but with recent events, I've reconnected with my extended family."

"Aiee, open mouth insert foot. Well, a long time ago, there was another crusade to reclaim the holy land, a united effort led by the church including some of the most power mages to ever live. All twenty thousand of them were exterminated by just over five hundred elves."

"T-that's… insane."

"It gets worse, five hundred is probably an exaggeration to make their defeat look less terrible, the actual number was probably in the double digits."


"Yeah, and Cromwell wants us to march against them. There was a poor kid who spoke up against the suicidal nature of marching against the elves, founder rest his soul. Cromwell heard about it and had the entire village declared heretics for sheltering a blasphemer. They burned everything to ash, him and his treacherous dragon knights. They tossed the people who tried to run back into the flames you know. So yeah, you want to keep your family safe? Pray for Reconquista's defeat and keep any complaints to yourself, don't know who might be listening in."

"Yeah, got it, thanks for the advice."

Saito drained his drink as he processed the new information. Charles was clearly in the royalist camp and his view was almost certainly coloured but his words couldn't be dismissed out of hand. He'd heard enough about Cromwell to know the man was a religious fanatic who wouldn't be out of place among the black hand if he wasn't a despot in the making.

This was the third village he'd visited and opinion on the man was the same everywhere, even those against the king preferred the monarch over Cromwell.

'Shame, in another world we might have been comrades. But here, I will not allow your vision of tyranny to become reality. Note to self, rebuild the fate squads, a dedicated assassination unit should come in handy.'

His musing was interrupted by the doors being thrown open and a distressed man stumbled through. "Charles, you got to come quick! Reconquista is here! Baron Dreyar and his dragon knights are in the village square!"

"What!? What the hell do you mean they're here!? Weren't they stationed at Midgand fortress?"

"We don't know! The son of a bitch is calling everyone to the square… I… I think he's holding an execution."

"Shit. Who?"

"Don't know. Came here as soon as I heard him gathering people."

"Damn, just… damn. Alright, let's go see what the bastard wants."

Saito's interest was peaked as he made to follow behind the two men who had completely passed over his presence in their worry.

By the time they made it to the village square, a makeshift platform had already been built using earth magic. Three stakes had been set up and there were already three unfortunates lashed to them.

A single man in fancy dress stood in front of the condemned addressing the crowd, a ways behind him were three dragons, two of them still had their riders mounted. Saito frowned, taking all of them out before they could start firing on the crowd would be a little difficult, he needed a better angle and began repositioning himself even as the noble spoke.

"These men stand before you guilty of the crime of heresy. It is the duty of every citizen, nay the duty of every human being to support Reconquista in their efforts to reclaim the holy lands. They…"

An ugly expression flicked across the inquisitor's face as the words dragged up a particularly painful memory he thought he buried long ago. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a young child, no older than seven crying out for his father, one of the men on 'trial'

"They have refused to aid Reconquista in our noble cause, and in their refusal have proven their allegiance to the false king." (They have refused to assist GDI in our investigation, they have proven that their loyalties are with Kane.)

"Royalist sympathisers are a threat to everyone, not just the brave men of the Reconquista who fight to protect Albion but all of you as well, they would have you oppressed by a mad man!" (NOD supporters are a danger to everyone, not just the soldiers of GDI, we are here to help, they would have you swear yourselves to a mad man with delusions of godhood.)

"Only through us will you be protected from the threat of the elves, the tyranny of a mad man." (Only through GDI will you be protected from the scourge of Tiberium, the dictatorship Kane would impose.)

"All we ask is that you help support your protectors in these trying times." (All we ask is that you help support your protectors in these trying times.)

"And yet these men won't even do that, they spat on our goodwill and would hoard vital supplies for their own greed." (And yet these men refuse to even do that, they spit on the sacrifices we've made, they withhold the truth for their own twisted ideals.)

Saito began inching forward again only to be caught by a strong grip from Charles. "The hell do you think you're doing kid, trying to get yourself killed?"

"I cannot stand by and watch."

"They're nobles! Dragon knights to boot, you'll get yourself killed, you'll get everyone killed!" The harsh whisper was laced with more than a little bit of worry.

"Relax royalist spy, I know what I'm doing."

"Wha!? I… hey wait, come back!" Taking advantage of Charles' surprise, Saito twisted his arm free and vanished into the crowd. "Shit."

"It saddens me that its come to this but for the good of the land, they must be put down." (It pains my heart greatly that this is the only recourse available, but for the sake of peace, they must be executed.)

"LIES! YOU COME INTO OUR HOMES! DESTROY OUR LAND, OUR LABOUR, TAKE OUR LIVELIHOODS AND EXPECT US TO SMILE ABOUT IT!? King James may not be the best monarch but at the very least he never tormented the common people so! LONG LIVE THE KING!"


The pompous noble struck the defiant man across the face with an armoured gauntlet, the steel tearing open his cheek and leaving a bloody mess behind. (The GDI commando whipped the defiant man across his cheek with his pistol, knocking out a few teeth in the process.)

"Silence traitor!" (Silence traitor!)

"Your guilt is without question, even at the end you refuse to repent. In the name of our true king Cromwell and the founder Brimir, I sentence you to death!" (NOD scum, even now you still spit on everything the GDI have done for you, you disgust me. When I kill you, best pray for your prophet to intercede on your behalf, otherwise it's a one way trip down.)

"FATHER! FATHER! NO! NO! NOOOOOOO!" The poor kid from before was wailing now as a woman next to him, presumably his mother tried to comfort him while holding back the tears in her eyes.

In one world, a child watched as his father was murdered in cold blood by a ruthless oppressor. Watched as his mother joined him in death when the grief-stricken woman rushed forwards and was promptly cut down in a hail of gunfire.

"Not again. Never again."

Baron Dreyar raised his wand and prepared a fire spell to set the stakes alight. A sadistic smile played across his face before it morphed into one of shock and then agony as his wand vanished along with the hand holding it into a cloud of red mist.

The gunshot rang out across the square and in the aftermath, the village was so silent you could hear a pin drop. Then the baron started to scream and chaos reigned.

The villagers dropped to their knees with hands over their heads unsure of what was going on and praying for a miracle. The two mounted dragon knights fought to keep their dragons under control even as they tried to keep their own emotions in check.

Sure, all of them knew about the existence of firearms, the supposed great equalisers between the worthless commoners and the masters of the world. Hopelessly inaccurate and lacking the punch needed to break through even a simple mid-level defence spell with anything short of a massed volley. Yet here was someone was accurate enough to shoot the baron's hand clean off and breach the basic wards he kept up at all times.

A single man stepped forward, dressed in a simple peasant's outfit, he would have passed for any ordinary commoner save for his peculiar hair. Most of the people in the village had blonde or brown hair but this one had pitch black hair and his eyes screamed for blood.

Inquisitor Saito marched forward, his gun arm snapped up and fired again, the report echoed through the village as the single unmounted dragon collapsed. Dead from a HE round to the eye that promptly turned the brain behind it into thick soup.

"No. A child will not be losing his parent, not today. Not while I'm here."

"Wh-who the hell are you bastard! Y-you dare oppose Reconquista!?"

Saito fired again and the knight's dragon collapsed as well.

The final knight had retained enough of his wits to pull out his wand and ready a spell. "I don't know w-who the hell you are but you will die here commoner. Y-your musket does not frighten me. I… I have magic!"

"No. what you have is a spell, and the hope that once you cast it I'll no longer be standing, because if I am, you'll be dead before you have the time to prepare another."

"I… I'm not afraid of you! Fireball!" An orb of fire collected at the tip of the wand as the mage dumped all of his willpower into one massively overpowered attack and was about to be loosed when Saito's bullet struck his arm.

Before the knight could scream, his spell imploded on itself and both him and his dragon went up in a tower of flames.

"I'm still standing."

The dragon knight on the ground began pushing himself backwards, sliding across the platform on his ass. Tears dribbled down his face as snot ran from his nose, his wand had been lost during his fall from his mount and he had nothing on him to keep the monster away.

"St-stay away! Don-Don't come any closer! I… I'm warning you! I-if you kill me, Reconquista will burn this village to the ground! Y-yes! That's right! you care for these worthless commoners don't you? Ahhahahaha! You will let me go or they will all die and you will have no one to blame but yourself. I… a-aren't you listening!? Sta-stay back. No. no! NO!"

Saito pocketed the pistol as the knight reached the body of the baron's dragon and couldn't back up any further. Reaching down, the inquisitor clasped both hands around his neck and hauled him into the air, on display for the villagers.

The knight kicked at Saito desperately in the vain attempt to get his executioner to release him.

"Sic semper tyrannis." He whispered softly before increasing his grip strength until there was a crack and the body went limp.

Letting the body fall to the ground with a soft thud, Saito drew a knife from his boot and cut the prisoners free before dragging the still screaming baron to his feet.

"People of Camlann! I present to you, your oppressors. These are the men who would trample on you on account of their founder given ability to use magic. Instead of protecting the weak, they use their strength to subjugate the defenceless. You heard them! You're worthless in their eyes, nothing more than cattle. What makes them different? The ability to use magic? Take away their wands and they show you what they truly are. Nothing. But. A. Man. What say you to that?"

"Down with Reconquista!"

"Death to tyranny!"

"The oppressors must die!"

Saito didn't let it show on his face but he was elated on the inside. He was worried that the people had been oppressed for so long they had forgotten what it was like to be free from fear, that they wouldn't know how to seize their freedom once it was offered.

The chants spreading through the crowd like wildfire was proof that his worries were for naught. The seeds of the rebellion had been sowed and now it was time to cultivate it. On Earth, NOD had been birthed in similar circumstances, when the people could not take the abuse heaped on them, their outpouring of rage and grief had given rise to the brotherhood.

Saito wasn't Kane, he wasn't some grand visionary like the prophet was, but he did know that he would not allow injustice to stand. He fought for years in one world to ensure that no one would ever have to go through what he did, he'd be damned before he allowed the past to repeat in a new one.

A darker side of him whispered that this display solved his issue with Westwood village. Camlann was far enough away from Westwood that Reconquista reinforcements would not pass by Westwood and chances of discovery by dragon knights would go down with their attention focused here. How very like GDI, throw the many under the bus to save the privileged few.

Saito crushed that thought with extreme prejudice. He was not GDI, he would not abandon these people to their fate. No, Camlann would be the village of the beginning, he would not allow it to fall to Reconquista.

A plan began to form in his mind. His infantry production was a drain on resources largely due to the fact that creating a new cyborg soldier with robotics and cloned tissue was an expensive operation. Mass production of guns however, was simple enough. Provided they weren't anything fancy like particle beams or man portable flamethrowers of course.

Yes. He could see it now. he could have this village supplied with enough weapons and ammo to arm half the village and with a crash course on how to use these weapons, they should be able to hold off Reconquista.

Hopefully, the enemy wouldn't strike in force until his own troops in Westwood were ready, but he'd cross that bridge when he got to it.

Saito held out the baron to the crowd and asked a simple question. "Well? what should I do with him?"


The crowd's unified roar was deafening and truly a sight to behold. Saito merely nodded and drew his pistol again. Thumbing the safety off, he placed the gun and the sobbing noble's head.

"SIC SEMPER EVELLO MORTEM TYRANNIS! THUS ALWAYS I BRING DEATH TO TYRANTS!" Roaring his defiance to the heavens, in that one instance, Saito relieved every single battle and tragedy that forged him into the man he was today. Fighting back hot tears, he pulled the trigger.

The gunshot rang out and the crowd went wild.