Part 2

Logue had plenty of time to consider Carpathia's offer the next day. The man's words became more appealing with every second she spent in her social studies class. The new teacher was charged with explaining the revolution to the students, and she pulled no punches. "When a government no longer supports the wellbeing of its citizens, the people have both a right and obligation to change their government with whatever means necessary. Under Prime Minister Honest, the Empire regularly abused its citizens. For example, units like the Incineration Squad were deployed to wipe out entire villages on charges that ranged from harboring rebels to trading with foreign nations. Even the accusation of exposure to disease was enough for the Incineration Squad to massacre whole settlements down to the smallest child." To emphasise her point, the teacher began passing around black and white photos of the villages reduced to ash. Logue had a vague idea of what her father did before being transferred to the Jaegers. However, she couldn't reconcile that image of her father with her memories of the man who tucked her in at night. Not the class understood that version of the man. As far as they were concerned, Bols was a mass murderer, and the context didn't matter.

Logue continued to seethe until the photos reached her desk. She passed them to the next classmate without sparing a glance. She didn't need anyone telling her what her father was. Logue noticed one of the boys smirking at her obvious discomfort. She bit her tongue and pretended not to care. Then the boy raised his hand and asked, "What kind of monsters would commit crimes like these?" The teacher replied, "Evil governments create environments where evil men can act on their worst desires. It wouldn't surprise me if those in the Incineration Squad were just born monsters, and they joined the Empire as an excuse to kill people." Logue struggled to resist the urge to speak her mind. None of these people had the right to call her father a monster - they didn't even know him! That made up her mind. When the bell rang, she would slip out of the school and head towards the National Legion rally. Logue was done hearing everyone disparage the father she loved.

Even without the instructions Carpathia had given her yesterday, the rally was easy to find. The Legion selected a busy crossroads to stage their march, which was observed by a massive audience. Logue spotted Mel's tall frame rising above the other shouting figures in the crowd. Just like the last time, Mel was belting out a fiery speech denouncing the new government.

"Prime Minister Najenda has sold out our country to every cretin who asked! Our ancient enemies, the Western Kingdom, have taken back the land our fathers died to civilize! The Ban Tribe were granted independence without a struggle! The Frontier, where our great hero Esdeath was born, has been left to the mercy of the savages of the Northern Principality! One third of our people's land, handed away like party favors with one stroke of the pen! What else will Najenda give away to strangers and enemies? Your homes? Your children? Your very lives?"

The crowd roared with righteous fury.

"If this administration is allowed to stay in power, there will be nothing left of our way of life! Vote for the National Legion - the only political force willing to stand up for the people!"

With that, Greenshirts went around giving pamphlets explaining how to register to vote. Mel stepped off the crate he was using as a platform and approached Logue.

"Glad you could make it! I wasn't sure if you were coming."

"I wouldn't miss it. Where's Mr. Carpathia?"

"Our great Commandant is busy preparing for our political campaign in another part of the Capital. I was proud when he asked me to represent the Legionary movement for today. Hey, why don't you say a few words? The folks here would love to hear something from a child of one of the Jaegers."

"Me? I'm not a public speaker! What would I say?"

"You could say why you came here today."

Without waiting for a reply, Mel grabbed Logue's hand and led her to the platform. Logue was too caught off guard to resist. After helping her up, Mel introduced the girl to the crowd.

"Uh, hello. My name is Logue, and uh, I'm here bec-because. . ." the girl stuttered. She had never felt so nervous in her life. All eyes were on her, and she had no idea what to say. She made eye contact with Mel, who flashed her a reassuring smile. Remembering the young man's advice, Logue knew what she wanted to say.

"I'm here because I'm tired of the rebels thinking they can tell my father's story! His name was Bols. He was in the Incineration Squad, and then the Jaegers. And, he is my hero!"

All the anger and grief that had been building inside the girl since the day she learned of her father's assassination came pouring out.

"Everyday, my dad would put his life in danger so that I could be safe, so that the people could be safe! He faced bandits, danger beasts, and terrorists every second he was on duty. Before the revolution, people called those who fought to protect heroes. But now, the new leaders call them monsters, criminals, and murderers!"

Many in the crowd nodded in agreement, but one man cried out, "Your father burned innocent people alive!" Logue was briefly stunned by the accusation. Mel made a signal with his hand, and two Greenshirts grabbed the heckler and dragged him off. Mel then looked at Logue, mouthing You can do this. Once the shock wore off, the anger returned.

"That right there is what I'm sick of! People who think they can dictate to us who our families are, who think they have the right to slander the people we love! I'm not going to let the Revolutionary Army tell me what to think about my father! I'm not going to let anyone tell me how to feel ever again!"

Sensing that Logue had finished, Mel followed her speech by extending his fist and shouting, "All hail the Empire!" The crowd echoed back the chant, and Logue found herself awash in a sea of validation. After stepping off of the crate, Mel slapped Logue on the back. "You were incredible, kid. That's exactly what they needed to hear." Mel then pined a cross with pointed tips on her coat. Logue remembered it as the symbol General Esdeath wore on her cap and belt. "We'll get you fitted for a uniform later. But wear that pin with pride, you're Legion now."

When Logue arrived home, she found her mother waiting for her.

"Usually you get home before me. What kept you?"
"I went to meet some friends after school."

"After school?" Kije asked in an irritated tone, as she pulled out an envelope. "Then why did I receive a letter from your school saying you weren't at most of your classes?"

Caught red handed, Logue racked her mind for an excuse. Before she could think of something, Kije walked over to her and took notice of something pinned to her shirt.

"Logue, what is that on your clothes?"

"It's a pin."

"I can see that. A pin of what?"

"I heard it was called the Partas Cross."

"And where did you get it?"

"At a rally I went to."

Kije paused for a moment. "Please tell me it wasn't the National Legion rally." Logue's silence confirmed it. "Why would you spend time with those thugs? And to skip school to do it?"

"Because they're the only people in the Capital who don't call Dad a murderer!" Logue didn't mean to shout, but her passions overtook her. "Everyone says Dad was a monster! My classmates, my teachers, people on the street! The Legion is the only group that doesn't hate him!"

Upon hearing this, Kije's gaze softened. She had heard the way people started talking about her husband and other Imperial soldiers since the Revolutionary Army took power. She also knew the things the Empire forced her husband to do that gave him a reputation. Placing her hands on her daughter's shoulders, Kije began to speak.

"Listen to me. I know it's horrible listening to people say such awful things about your dad, but the Legion insults his memory too, in a different way. The Legion doesn't admire Dad, they admire the fantasy version of him. They admire the image of a man who killed for the Empire."

Logue looked up at her mother with betrayal in her eyes. "Are you saying that Dad really was a murderer?"

"I'm saying that he hated being what the Empire forced him to be. He did a lot of terrible things, but he didn't have a choice. The Empire forced him to hurt people, or else they would punish him by hurting us. But even so, I fell in love with who your father really was, not the mask that the Empire made him wear. Do you understand?"

"No! I don't understand how you can say you love Dad while saying he did such awful things!"

Kije sighed. "I know it can be difficult to separate your father from the work he did, but he wouldn't want you to defend him by supporting the job he hated. So please, take that pin off."

As Kije reached for the pin, Logue grabbed it protectively and stepped back. Tears welled up in Logue's eyes. "The Legion are the only people who defend Dad in any way. Everyone else attacks him, even you!" The girl turned and ran out the door, ignoring her mother's calls. She ran all the way to the Legion's headquarters without stopping once. Exhausted and out of breath, Logue looked up and saw the bearded face of Konstantin Carpathia, his eyes filled with surprise. Composing herself, Logue asked, "Do you have a place where I could stay for a while?"

After spending a few nights at the headquarters's guest room, Logue volunteered to help with the next Legion rally. Parliamentary elections were coming up, and interested parties were ratcheting up their efforts. In contrast to the last rally, the Legion found themselves confronted by the red-armband-wearing soldiers of the Revolutionary movement. The tension in the air was dangerously charged, with both sides yelling slogans and threats at each other. Logue, fresh in her green uniform, confided her nervousness about the situation to Mel. "Ha! They're finally noticing us! They wouldn't be out here if they didn't think we could threaten their new order!" he said. But upon seeing the fear in the girl's eyes, Mel handed her his dagger. "Just in case things get rough. Don't worry, I'll watch your back." Holding the weapon made her feel a little better. The Legion marched on until they came across a barricade constructed by the counter protesters. Closing ranks, the men in red made it impossible to continue the march without force. The moment of truth had arrived. Both sides drew their weapons, but no one wanted to spill first blood. As the shouting crescendoed, Logue wondered which side would blink first. Then a loud bang rang out above the chants, and for a brief moment, there was silence. Someone had fired a gun, but no one knew who. After that, all hell broke loose.

The green and red paramilitaries charged each other. Knives flashed, clubs swung, and bones cracked. Logue found herself lost in a forest of bodies. She frantically looked around for Mel's tall frame, hoping that her short stature would keep her below the notice of the reds. She managed to spot him being beaten on the ground by a man in a red armband. Rushing over to him, Logue got a better look at the man in red. She immediately recognized him as the upperclassmen who had beaten her on the first day of school. Her vision blurred by rage, Logue screamed "Get off of him!" before lunging at the attacker and plunging her blade between his ribs. The man in red fell, clutching his wound. The man turned, and his eyes widened when he saw Logue. Whatever anger had filled the girl before was replaced by horror as she watched the light leave the man's eyes. No breath came from the downed fighter. It dawned on Logue what she had done, and the girl began to hyperventilate. A police whistle blared, but Logue could not will herself to move. Then, a strong grasp tore her away from the body. Logue turned and saw Mel. He had a split lip and a black eye, but he was otherwise fine. "C'mon, kid! The police are here!" Logue's feet carried her on autopilot away from the battlefield. As Mel led her away, all the girl could think about was the body she left in the street.

Back at headquarters, Carpathia lavished praise on his soldiers. "Good work today. To shed blood for the country is the highest of calling. We bloodied the Revolutionary forces in a way they won't forget."

"We took some losses too. Not everyone who went out today could come back to celebrate," said Mel glumly.

"Yes, and those martyrs for the cause will be remembered. Draft up a list of names and photos of the fallen. Once the heat has died down, we will plaster the faces of our heroic dead all over the city."

"I killed someone," came a quiet voice.

Carpathia turned and saw Logue. Her arms were wrapped around her knees, and she was looking at the ground.

"Then you are to be congratulated! You have struck a blow against the dark forces assaulting our country!" When Logue didn't reply, Carpathia continued, "If you are worried about being arrested, don't. The reds who participated in the battle can't go to the police without implicating themselves, and we will hide you here until the authorities move on."

Logue hadn't even considered the legal fallout from what happened. The police would come down harder on paramilitaries after what happened today, and she couldn't risk going outside. Now more than ever Logue wanted to run to her mother, but for the first time in her life she couldn't go home.