Rhaegar stared at the Lord of Fair Isle. The man stood before him with all the calm indifference of someone inspecting a particularly boring speck of dirt, and yet at his feet laid Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Jonothor Darry, two knights of the kingsguard and greatest warriors in the realm.
"Lord Ambrose?" He asked, shocked. Rhaegar had not known that the man had even been in the Crownlands, let alone in his castle.
"Prince Rhaegar." Kurt said, no emotion in his voice.
Rhaegar allowed his eyes to flicker down to his two unconscious guards for just a moment.
That was a mistake.
In that single instant, Lord Ambrose crossed the distance between the two, knocking the sword from his hands and slashing his dagger across Rhaegar's throat. The dragon prince had less than a moment to react before he was stabbed again a half-dozen times in the chest. A gasp left his lips, and red blood flowed upwards, causing him to choke even as his hands rose to try and halt the bleeding.
Rhaegar Targaryen fell to the ground, lying alongside his two kingsguard as Kurt stepped over his bleeding body and entered into the stairwell to the dungeons. Rhaegar heard the door open and footsteps descending downwards as his vision faded at its edges. Panic flowed through his veins as he choked to death on his own blood.
This... this couldn't be happening. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. Rhaegar felt the blood clog his throat, suffocating him. The edges of his vision began to blur and fade but the prince refused to die. He couldn't. This wasn't his destiny. He had to live. Live to see Lyanna birth Visenya, live to convince Elia of the prophesy, live to train his son and daughters to combat the darkness. Rhaegar was not supposed to die here, on the ground from an assassin's blade a man who had not completed his destiny.
More panic flooded his veins, even as the blood drained from them. Lyanna, Rhaenys, Aegon, his family. If Lord Ambrose had come to kill him, then surely he had come to kill the rest of his family. If the Spartan Lord did not finish the job, his house would fall to the Dragon's wrath. Rhaegar hoped for the safety of his children, for the realm would need them in the years to come. He prayed for Lyanna's health, and that the Lord Ambrose might disobey what was surely Tywin's brutal orders. Darkness had claimed most of Rhaegar's vision, and in those few short moments before the blackness of death claimed him, Rhaegar drew what little comfort that he could, comfort that even should he die, that his destiny was fulfilled. Aegon and Rhaeneys would live, fate would allow nothing else, and soon Lyanna would birth his Visenya, Aegon's sister-wife and the third head of the dragon.
Even if Lord Ambrose managed to oust his family from power, he could not kill his legacy. Aegon, Rhaenys and Visenya would return, they would bring vengence down upon House Terra and anyone else who dared get in the way of his family's destiny.
Rhaegar Targaryen died satisfied, if nothing else. Satisfied that fate would see all his predictions fulfilled. Satisfied that nothing could stop the wheels of fate that would see him remembered for what he truly was, a man of vision maligned for doing what needed to be done.
Kurt couldn't have cared less for whatever words Rhaegar Targaryen might have had for him. The prince's death was a mission, though not his specifically. Tapping on the earpiece that the every memeber of the operation was equipped with, he relayed the developement.
"Spartan Actual this is Spartan-051 Target Beta-2 eliminated. Retrieval of targets Gamma-8 and Gamma-9 proceeding as planned."
"Roger Spartan-051. Spartan-A325 you are reassigned to assist in the transfer of targets Gamma-2, Gamma-4, Gamma-5, and Gamma-6. Is that understood?"
"Understood Spartan Actual, rerouting to assist the rest of fireteam Hotel in extraction."
The line went silent and Kurt continued down the stairs. According to their intel, Rickard Stark was being held in the lowest known floor of the Red Keep's dungeons. The black cells were an inhumane detention zone by any modern standard, and the smell as he entered into the hall with cells on both sides was almost as bad as the smell of the city slums.
Kurt kept a leisurely jog as he moved, which was still faster than most men could run. He came upon Lord Stark's cell in moments.
"And who are you ser? A pawn of the little prince to tell me my son is dead? Perhaps that he is on his way here to pledge his fealty? Whatever it is, I'll not dance to the tune of that mad boy."
"Lord Rickard Stark." Kurt addressed the man with a tone of formality, but without even the slightest hint of deference. "Kurt Ambrose, I'm here to get you home."
"Ambrose?" Rickard asked. "A house of the Reach, what is a man like you doing here? And disobeying the prince and king. You'll end up burned alive ser."
"The prince and king are no longer anyone's concern." Kurt replied. "And you've made a rather common mistake. I am Kurt Ambrose, lord of House Terra of Fair Isle."
Rickard's eyes widdened slightly as he heard Kurt's full title.
"So the old lion picked a side?"
"Something like that." Kurt nodded. "Either way, it's my job to get you out of here."
"Then hurry man, unlock the doors and quickly."
"That won't be necessary."
Kurt approached the iron bars of the cell. With Mjolnir armour Kurt would have been able to bend the metal polls like they were bendy straws. However, as the half-tonne powered armour was too heavy in the primitively built keep, the three teams and himself had gone for standard UNSC body armour and dress, the kind that would have been used for marines or army, if there were any such forces stationed aboard the Plataea. Kurt instead simply walked up to the cell, and seeing where the iron bars were fitted into the stone arch of the cell's edge, he readied a set of well placed punches and kicks. The metal didn't immediately bend or break, but the fittings they were placed into crumbled under the force, and in moments there was a gap in the cell wide enough for a horse to pass through.
Rickard Stark watched in awe as Lord Kurt stepped through the gap, offering a hand.
"Come on Lord Stark. It's time to blow this joint."
The wolf lord had no idea that the other lord meant, but he could guess what the man was talking about. Taking the Lord of FairIsle's hand, he was pulled to his feet.
"Can you walk?"
Rickard could feel the pain in one of his legs and took a few experimental steps. His leg could hold him, but he would be slow for a while until he saw a maester or another healer who could help whatever it was that was stopping him from running.
"I'll be fine, just slow."
"Very well. I need you to wait for a moment Lord Rickard, There is another man here who needs help."
Rickard watched as Lord Ambrose walked out of the cell and further down into the dungeons. There were a few more sounds like metal bending and rock crumbling but after only a few moments, Lord Ambrose returned with Ethan Glover, the only member of Brandon's retinue who had not been executed.
"We will have to move quickly." Kurt said as soon as the three were together. "Unfortunately Lord Stark, neither you nor Lord Glover seem to be in any shape to move quickly, so with all due respect, I'll be placing you over my shoulders."
"Listen here my lord, I've faced months and years of captivity on my feet, I won't let some fresh face to our country carry me on his back like I'm some crying child."
"Then I'm sorry Lord Stark, you can curse at me later when we're safe."
Faster than Rickard could react, Kurt had picked the two men up and thrown them over his shoulder like bags of potatoes. He turned and stepped out of the cell before bolting instanly down the hall and up the stairs.
Rickard only saw the floor and walls blur as they went from the cell to the hallway to the stairwell. As they exited, Lord Ambrose had to slow slightly at he stepped over the bodies of three men, men Rickard recognised. On the floor, Arthur Dayne and Jonothor Darry were laid out, while Prince Rhaegar was a heap on the floor, his hand over his throat and drenched in red as he had bled out. The prince's purple eyes, a sign of his royal heritage, gazed unseeing and unblinking, in his direction and for a moment Rickard would swear that they were pleading with him, begging him for help. Rickard ignored the eyes.
'My mind's playing tricks.' He thought, shaking his head and beginning to pound on Ambrose's back.
"Lord Rickard, if you do not cooperate I will have to render you unconscious until we are safe. I would rather not do that, but if you insist on making noise that could give away our position, I will not hesitate."
Something in the man's voice told Rickard he wasn't bluffing. The Lord of Winterfell didn't like it, but for the moment his best chance at freedom and returning to his family laid with the man, and so he stopped struggling against Kurt's grip.
As the two continued on, Rickard saw the red stone that made up the castle shift as they progressed, and a single thought appeared in his mind.
'Why are we going up?'
Elia Martell was not a naive woman. She had been raised a princess of Dorne, and then had come to King's Landing and been shown what a real nest or vipers looked like. Over her last few years since her marriage to Rhaegar she had grown to understand at least some of how the capital worked. She knew that few were truly what they presented themselves as, and that everyone had a motive, few of which were beneficial to her. Rhaella was one of those few who she truly believed had no desire to see her hurt. Rhaella was a kind, if sorrowful woman, not unsurprising considering her marriage and husband. Elia had often felt pity for her good-mother, a woman who despite her circumstances had tried to be good to all those around her.
It was because of her good-mother's nature that Elia didn't know if Rhaella had purposefully cultivated her alliance with Jane of House Terra or if she had merely been kind and fallen into the woman's good graces. After all, it was at dinner that night when House Terra's plans reached their fruition it seemed.
The two women were at dinner with Ashara and Jane. The four of them were taking their evening meal together in Rhaella's private quarters. It had been a fine time for Elia, as it seemed that Lady Lyanna was on bed rest given the imminent birth of a new royal babe. Ashara however was with her, as her closest friend had all but demanded to be allowed to accompany the princess for the dinner.
Elia had wondered about Lady Jane from the moment the dinner began. There was a stillness to her, something most wouldn't notice, given how calm and unflappable Lady Jane was usually. However, Elia had spent years living amongst some of the best liars in the world, and had not walked away from that experience without some knowledge on telling truth from falsehoods. Jane was tense, the kind of tense that one had to forcibly relax themselves to cover. There was a difference though, and Elia had seen enough men and women who were liars by experience use the technique.
Elia understood there to be many kinds of liars. There were bad liars, good ones, great liars, and those who never lied. Those in the last category were the most dangerous because where all the others simply learned how to lie better and better over time, the last were those who could believe their own lies and fool almost anyone. Jane was a good liar, but to Elia, her tells were not invisible.
A knock on the door shook the Dornish princess from her thoughts for a moment before a voice sounded through the wood.
"Oly oly oxen free." The voice said, and Elia exchanged confused looks with Ashara and Rhaella.
"Oly oly oxen free, all out in the free, we're all free."
The door opened and in walked Sers Robert and Shane. The two spartans were wearing strange clothes. Elia thought it looked like armour, but it didn't cover the whole body as normal armour would.
"Status?" Jane asked, and Elia tensed at the air around her good-mother's friend turned cold.
"Beta-2 was eliminated by the captain. He's on route to the extraction point with Gamma-8 and Gamma-9."
"The others?" Jane asked, getting up out of the chair.
"Fireteam India's secured Gamma 2, 4, and 5. Hotel should have Alpha-1, Beta-1 and Gamma-6 in hand in a few minutes."
"Your plan boss." Ser shane smirked, nudging Jane in the shoulder and handing her a blade.
"Jane?" Rhaella asked, getting up from her seat. "What are you doing? What is going on?"
Jane turned to regard Rhaella, and Elia saw her face. There was a slight pinch as she locked eyes with the queen; Discomfort. Elia had seen it enough, in the faces of lords and ladies made to be something they weren't. The only thing was that Elia wasn't sure if Jane was faking her like of Rhaella, or if she was uncomfortable with what was happening in the room.
"We're getting you and the rest of your family out of here." Jane said, circling the table and stopping in front of Rhaella. She took one of the queen's hands in her's gripping it tightly.
"Rhaella, Aerys is dead. Our captain gave the order for his assassination this morning."
Rhaella's eyes widened in shock, an action mirrored by Elia and Ashara as they swapped looks.
"W-what?" Rhaella asked. "No... no that's... that can't be."
"It is." Jane said. "And now we need to move. Our captain gave us our orders. We're to escort you for extraction to the Plataea in order to protect you while the dust settles."
"You mean use us as hostages against Rhaegar." Elia said. She had little love for her husband at the moment, given his actions, but he was still the father of her children and was fighting to ensure that they still had a throne to sit upon once the war was over.
"The realm has fought not for the mad king." She said. "They fight for Rhaegar and Aegon, for the next generation. All you have done by killing the Mad King is uplift Rhaegar as the king."
"Jane." Ser Shane said. "We need to move, we can explain everything later, we don't have time."
"Right." Jane said. "You will follow us. Rhaella, Princess Elia, we have Prince Viserys, as well as Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon already in our custody. We will have Princess Lyanna in a few minutes and our Captain has already freed Lord Stark from the dungeons. You will follow us or we will be forced to take violent action to ensure your cooperation."
The woman looked down at Rhaella, standing tall over the Targaryen queen who still seemed in shock over her brother's death.
"Rhaella." Jane repeated, shaking her slightly to pull her from her stupor. "Rhaella, please, come with us quietly."
"Alright." Ser Shane said, taking his hand from his ear where he had reached while Jane had been speaking with the three other women. "We're out of time. Beta-1 is terminated and Alpha-1 is at the extraction point. Gamma-6 is in Hotel's custody and en-route. We have to move."
Ser Robert walked forwards, standing in front of Elia.
"Princess, unless you want to be seperated from your children, you will come with us."
Elia looked up into the spartan's eyes, trying to find proof that he was lying. She found none. Fear gripped her chest in that instant and she thought about her children, captive in the hands of Tywin Lannister's bannermen. The Dornish princess chewed at her bottom lip, weighing her choices in her mind. She could call the man's bluff, but if he wasn't bluffing she could die and leave her children in the hands of House Terra.
"Elia, Ashara, we're going with them."
The two women snapped their gazes over to Rhaella, who was looking up at Jane and regarding her friend.
"We don't have a choice." She continued. "They have the children, Aerys is dead, and so is Rhaegar, isn't he Jane?"
Jane didn't so much as blink.
Elia gasped and tears began to gather in Rhaella's eyes.
Together as one, the three ladies were led and surrounded by spartans, moving through the halls and towards the tallest towers of the Red Keep. The group began ascending a circular stairway that let to the roop of one of the towers, high enough to overlook the entirety of the city of King's Landing.
"Why are you taking us up a tower?" Ashara asked. "If you expect to kidnap us, you should at least try and actually escape."
The Lady of Starfall's comment was not responded to by any of their captors, but as they reached the top of the stairwell they were brought out onto the top of the tower where another dozen or so people were crowded at one end. Elia could see a that most of them were of the right height and build to be spartans, more of Lord Kurt's forces meant to abduct them. Another three were were her family. Rhaenys and Aegon were held securely in the arms of a pair of the spartans, while Viserys was standing but held securely by another. Finally, she saw white armour and with widened eyes she recognised the unconscious form of Ser Jaime slung over the shoulder of one of the Spartans.
Elia gasped as she was her children, a sound she heard echoed by Rhaella. Truthfully she had hoped that Jane had been bluffing, that her children would be safe behind the guards, kingsguard and servants who should have been watching over them.
Ashara's sharp intake of breath tore Elia's gaze from her children and followed her friend's eyes. There, leaned against the wall of the tower, Rickard Stark and Ethan Glover stood. They looked ragged and thin, with thick beards framing their faces and showcasing just how long they had been held in the black cells. Beside the two men, a truly massive figure that Elia recognised as Lord Kurt Ambrose spoke softly with them. Jane decided to make her presence known as soon as they settled though, clearing her throat.
"Sir, targets Gamma-1, Gamma-3 and Gamma-7 delivered to rendevous."
The Lord of Fair Isle regarded the woman before nodding.
"Good work spartan."
"Thank you sir. We're just waiting on Amelia with Gamma-6."
"I've radioed in our extraction. They're stationed above cloud cover. Once Gamma-6 arrives, we will extract everyone."
"No need to wait sir."
A voice sounded from the door and Elia turned to see another woman, of the same height and build as Jane, with Lyanna in tow. The woman's burgeoning belly had likely made travel difficult, similar to the slow pace that they had had to take given Ashara's condition.
"Good." Lord Ambrose said. "This is Spartan-051 to Spartan-Actual, we have all targets accounted for, Pelican pickup requested over north-west tower, flare has been deployed."
There was a sound like hissing from her side and she saw a strange light on a stick being held by one of the spartans. It shone in the dark of the night, a strange green colour that she immediately recoiled from, fearing wildfire.
"Affirmative Pelican-47-niner, we have fragile members present for extraction. Just try to make the flight smooth."
Elia wondered who the man was speaking to, perhaps he was mad as well. He had after all killed the king and prince if Lady Jane was to believed, and then brought the entire royal family to the top of a tower. Unless he was trying to kill them all by throwing them from the roof of the tower, unlikely since he could have simply killed them in the room. What did he have planned?
Moments passed, and Elia waited with the other hostages. She watched her captors as much as she could before they looked up at the sky. The night sky was full of clouds, and even the stars could not shine through them. Elia thought this might mean that there was rain to come, but then, a light. Not a star, it was too large, a different colour from the white light of the stars. It was more like the sun, yellow in hue. Descending down from the clouds, Elia was shocked to see a massive thing hovering in the air.
"A dragon?" She heard Lyanna whisper from her side and Elia found herself wondering the same thing. That thought was disproved though, as the strange creature continued down. Its wings did not flap as a dragon's should, or a bird. Instead, only a loud howling noise, like wind rushing during a raging storm but higher pitched and less all-encompassing, came from it.
It turned suddenly, falling faster from the sky and stopping just off the edge of the tower. Elia stared in shock as some kind of ramp was lowered, like a drawbridge but across open air instead of water.
"Everybody onboard." Lord Ambrose ordered, and within moments she saw her children carried on board by the spartans. She gasped, almost screamed. She wanted to demand that Lord Ambrose bring back her children, but instead she was ushered forwards by Ser Robert until she too was stepping into the strange creature. She was sat down beside Ashara, with Rhaella entering next and Lord Ambrose clambering in last.
"All targets secure, time to head home." He said, walking past them through what appeared to be a doorway of somekind. "Jane, I want you to make sure that everyone's calm until we get back to the Plataea, understood?"
"Yes sir." Elia heard the woman say.
"And Jane." The lord addressed her again.
"Yes sir?" She asked.
"This was your plan, if anyone gives us any trouble, it's your responsibility to take care of them."
"Yes sir." Jane almost sounded resigned, but then she turned her gaze to regard them all and they hardened into a look of steel.
Scenario Omicron everybody, just capturing and holding hostage the entire royal family while killing the main instigators of the war. I was torn for a moment between giving Rhaegar one last monologue before death but I don't think Kurt would have given him the time to actually say it given the situation. I also was wondering whether Rhaegar would be taken hostage like the others. Keep him alive and see his dynasty overthrown at the expense of some logic, or kill him and don't get the satisfaction of seeing his prophecy fail. I was wondering which to go with but in the end I think Rhaegar is better dead than alive.
So now we're all caught up, and the next chapter should be on Wednesday or Thursday. Making up for a week's delay is harder than I thought.
Also, almost instant editing since I just got reminded of Ethan Glover. I completely forgot about him until a reviewer brought it up. So I've edited the chapter to include him.