tasogare_n_hime: (Sophia)
[personal profile] tasogare_n_hime
Summary: Alex makes a decision, and Blood Rose springs its trap.

Warnings:
None so far.

Disclaimer: I do not own Last Exile. If I did, certain people would have gotten much happier endings than they did.

Sophia sat, pale faced, with red-rimmed eyes by Alex's side as he slept. They had been moved to a more secure room deeper within the hospital, closer to Dio's. There were guards chosen by Andrea standing at the door. The Silvana had delayed its departure. The crew furious at the attack on their captain helping with the investigation in anyway they could.

The culprit had turned out to be an Anatoray nurse whose brother had been aboard the Goliath. They could never question her however on how she had learned so much of the guild equipment. She had been found murdered in the early hours of the morning, one of Delphine's ‘special’ roses growing out of the bloody wound in her chest.

Vincent handed her a cup of coffee, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, she considered asking if it was dosed. Eventually she decided against it and drank the now lukewarm drink anyway. She felt so ashamed, right when Alex had needed her be calm, and level headed she had lost control... She had panicked and been completely useless. Dr. Actias had told her it was understandable. She was being over worked, with too little support. It didn't make her feel any better.

Alex began to stir a bit, blinking sleepily. He looked at Sophia, and Vincent then turned his head to look at his arm. There was a new cast, still necessary as the fractures in his arm had not healed yet. It was lighter however allowing him to lift his arm more easily. This was, in part because his hand was gone up to the wrist. "Shit, this is going to be a problem."

Vincent and Sophia stared, it wasn't quite the reaction they had been expecting. Though he still sounded as if he had not quite woken up yet. Vincent placed a hand on Alex leg trying to be comforting. "It will be ok Alex. You have me and Sophia, we'll get through this together."

Alex snorted. "Easy for you to say, if I have hand writing as bad as yours for the rest of my life I will not be able to live with myself...My shirts are gonna look funny too."

Vincent glared at him. "What do you mean hand writing as bad as mine?"

Alex turned his head and blinked at him, then looked at Sophia. "Did I say that out loud?" He asked muzzily.

Sophia nodded biting her lip not trusting her self to speak. Alex was rescued from Vincent's anger by the arrival of Dr. Actias. "I see you're finally awake, how are you feeling Captain?"

"I'm not feeling much of anything right now...Who changed the ceiling while I was asleep?"

The doctor seemed undisturbed by Alex's strange behavior. "No one, you've been moved to a different room."

"Oh..That makes a lot more sense."

"What's wrong with him?" Vincent asked still sounding annoyed.

"He's still under the anesthesia from surgery." Actias answered looking over the hospital machinery, before taking Alex's pulse. "He should be back to the glares, and sarcasm by this afternoon."

Vincent was about to reply when Alex with uncharacteristic cheer began telling Sophia about the time they had shaved the head of Vincent's younger sister Emma. The doctor looked at him raising an eyebrow, and smirking.

"I was seven, and we had to get rid of the glue.” Vincent replied defensively “...I'm going to go get some coffee. Somewhere far, far away from here." "At least Sophia is feeling better now.” He thought grumpily to himself as walked down the hall. Though he cringed at the thought of all the other things Alex could go into if he was really in the story telling mood.
______________________________________________________________________________

Duke Mad-Thane sighed and once again tried to regain order in the council room. Nestor, along with several of his own advisers were giving him sympathetic looks.

"You must understand gentlemen, that Her Majesty's health, and safety are of the up most importance at the moment. As we still have no clue on the exact origin of the attack on Captain Row, we have decided to take every precaution necessary. Do not forget that the loyalist to the former Maestro first, and foremost want revenge, and Her Majesty was the one in charge of the ship that fired the killing shot."

Several of the men calmed a bit though were still clearly agitated. They retook their seats some sending suspicious glances at the guild council members, who ignored them. An older, slender man with a rather pointed face, in an Anatoray uniform placed his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his laced fingers. "We understand the need very well, Duke Mad-Thane. What escapes me still, is why none of us were informed of the events until this morning. As imperial advisers we should have been informed immediately."

"The reason is Duke Aster, that Her Majesty did not wish for your involvement." David answered calmly. They didn't need to know that the ‘order’ had come indirectly from Admiral Alzey after Sophia had fallen asleep, and they really didn't need to know his exact words had been "No! Hell no! This is already bad enough! If any of those old bastards show up, I will shoot them!"

Duke Aster sat back in his chair, He was the counselor Sophia had been having the most issues with. He never failed to argue even the slightest points of her plans and ideas. He was entirely against the evacuation to begin with, despite all the evidence provided he refused to believe that the weather controllers could not somehow be repaired. Most of his criticism of Sophia however came because of her age, and gender. He was unashamedly a firm believer in that the role of the Empress was to provide the Emperor with an heir, preferably a male heir, and nothing more. He took Sophia's decision to rule alone instead of marrying immediately as a personal insult. Most of the council followed him like sheep to the shepherd. "Considering Her Majesty's health, as concerned as we all are perhaps, she should step aside. The council is more than able to take care of these matters. At her age she should be concerned with other things, like marriage, there are many eligible young noble men who could be groomed as a proper ruler."

He about jumped out of his chair when Vincent suddenly appeared and grabbed the back of it. "You know, that sounds suspiciously like treason to me. Good morning." He said cheerfully, grinning widely as he crossed the room to his normal seat. "No one told me we were having a meeting today. The captain is awake by way....and aparently taking a one man trip to the moon thanks to pain killers, but he is in a very good mood about it."

"Admiral Alzey, Have you had any sleep?" A guild's woman he was sure had been introduced to him as Hesperia asked looking at him with concern.

"No, I do plan to get some though, I just wanted to let you all know how Captain Row was doing, and see if there was any more information on the attempted assassination." He didn't bother looking up when someone snorted at "attempted assassination."

"I'm afraid there has been no new information Vincent." David said placing a hand on his shoulder. "Why don't you go get some rest?"

Vincent sighed rubbing his eyes with his forefinger, and thumb. "Right. If there is anything, I'll be on the Silvana. Dolfstland should be around here somewhere, if there is anything I would appreciate it if you sent him."

"Of course."

Vincent left without a word, trying to stifle the growing headache, and contemplating all the ways he could kill Duke Aster, and make it look like an accident. Alex was better at that kind of thing really, maybe they could come up with some thing when he was clear headed again.
______________________________________________________________________________

"I don't think Vince is coming back."

Sophia looked up from her work a bit startled. "I thought you were asleep. How are you feeling?"

Alex moved himself to a sitting position hissing a bit at the pain in his back. "I can think now. Did I really tell all those stories? Or is that just some horribly embarrassing nightmare I had?"

Sophia smiled. "Yes you did...You know, I knew about the cannon. Euris told me, but I'd never heard about the thing with the bees before."

When Alex actually laughed a bit, she couldn't keep herself from doing the same. "Euris wasn't there for the bees. She didn't find out about that till later. I think she found out from Hamilcar. He was called to the academy because of it."

He sat up all the way, and ran his remaining hand over the cast. Sophia put her hand over his arm, and smiled a bit again when he didn't pull away.

"How bad is the situation? I've picked up enough to know someone caused this intentionally."

Sophia gently squeezed his arm, more to comfort herself than anything. "No one is sure. Dio, and I can't leave here without at least ten guards with us, boredom is getting to the poor boy already. Dr. Actias has limited your care to a few specific people... The girl who tampered with the machines, Anthea Bennet was found dead. With a rose growing out of her chest. All anyone really knows that Blood Rose is behind it. The agents still inside seem far more clever than those that were chased off."

She looked at Alex fighting back tears now. "I feel so useless. Like nothing I do matters. Is that you feel siting here day after day? I can't stand it." She blinked in surprise when Alex placed his hand over hers.

"We need to talk."
______________________________________________________________________________


The next morning Sophia was once again attending the council this time with an entourage of guards. It was Vincent who had skipped the meeting. He was currently sitting in the chair next to Alex's bed watching Dio crash Alex's "Mobility chair" or whatever the hell they called it into the wall for the third time. "Oops."

"You keep pushing the wrong switch. You want the green one in front." He advised having long ago figured out what Alex refused to learn.

Alex was somehow managing to ignore both of them as he poured over paper work every once in a while he would pause to absentmindedly rub his palm against the cast.

"Why are you doing that?" Vincent finally asked.

"Because it itches. Why don't you do something productive instead of playing with Dio?"

"I am doing something productive. I'm keeping Dio from bugging you."

"Hey..." Dio frowned, but brightened up almost immediately. "I have an idea! Why don't we get Alex in his chair and see how fast it can go down the hall?"

Vincent snorted into his coffee cup Alex didn't even look up. "I have a better idea. Why don't you go bother someone else, so I can finish this before lunch?"

Dio let himself slide lower into the chair, to where his feet left the foot rest and settled on the floor. "But everyone is so busy." The boy wined, pouting at Alex who continued to ignore him.

"In case you haven't noticed I am also busy."

"I know but you can't get away from me."

Alex turned his head up from the papers this time and glared at Dio. Vincent couldn't stop himself from laughing. Alex turned and glared at him too. "You should be more careful Dio. If they let you go back to the Silvana like you want, Sophia won't be there to keep him from killing you this time."

When he looked at Alex again, the man was staring at him. "...What?"

"Sophia didn't tell you?"

Vincent's brows drew together in confusion. "Didn't tell me what?" He asked quietly.

Alex set the papers aside, and took a deep breath. "I'm not going back to the Silvana."

A loud thump made them both look up. Dio had fallen out of the chair, and was now staring at Alex with a look of shock that Vincent realized must be mirrored on his own face. He looked back at Alex as Dio picked himself up off the floor. "You don't mean that."

Alex snorted. "Vince, look at me. I've lost a hand, my arm hasn't even healed enough to try a prosthetic I don't even know if I'll be able to use. I'm taking more medications than I can count every day, and can't even tell you what half of them are for. It could be years before I'm even able to stand on my own again... What good is a captain who can't get around his owns ship?..."
When he looked up at Vincent again he looked tired, but at the same time as if some weight he had been carrying was gone. "The war is over Vincent, Delphine is gone, the Grand Stream is gone. There is no reason for me to be in the skies any more.... Sophia offered me a position as an adviser, last night I accepted."

Vincent couldn't think of anything to say. It was a logical choice of course, and there had been talk here, and there among the Silvana's crew..But he'd never imagined. Vincent set his cup on the side table and moved to sit on the bed where he pulled the unprepared Alex into a hug.

"What. The. Hell. Are. You. Doing!" Alex growled out shocked and embarrassed. He stiffened immediately when Dio hugged him from the other side. "Wonderful, now you've got him started. Get. Off. Now." By the time he pushed them off he was red faced, and papers had been scattered everywhere.

Vincent, and Dio began gathering papers off the floor, not looking at Alex who they were both very sure wanted to kill them now. Though Dio most likely wasn't looking up because he couldn't stop grinning. After returning the papers, Dio was banished back to the chair on the other side of the room. Vincent decided it was probably safer to sit on Sophia's bed, instead of the chair next to Alex.

"Have you already resigned?" Vincent asked after several moments of listening to Alex grumble under his breath about "idiots, with no concept of personal space.” as he tried to get the papers back in order. "No. There's still a lot to do before we make things official. Mostly I just want to keep it as quiet as possible."

Vincent hummed shortly in response, picking up the half finished coffee. "Who's going to take over?"

"Campbell, I imagine, unless you want to."

Vincent paused coffee cup half way to his lips and gave Alex a flat look. "Alex I can't take over your ship, the crew wants to beat me up remember."

Alex, still sorting papers didn't look up, but Vincent was sure he was smirking. "Well that's your own fault isn't it."
______________________________________________________________________________

The resignation two days latter did turn out to be a quiet event. With only a few members of the crew there, along with Vincent, and Dr. Actias. Though Vincent found himself surprised at just how little was said as Alex, and Sophia formally handed command of the Silvana over to Arthur Campbell. This had been expected by the crew, especially after Alex lost his hand. That didn't seem to make it any easier for them to swallow. He was pretty sure Wina was doing her best not to cry by the end of it.

Afterward however it didn't take long for word to get around, and everyone was talking. Though true to form no one seemed to know exactly what was going on. When Sophia's counselors found out they were very unhappy. "This is an insult! An outrage! Do you hear me Duke Mad-Thane. Not only does that insolent child ignore our council, now she is including that raving mad man in imperial decisions!"

Duke Aster had not been expecting rather harsh slap across the face David gave him. "I would like to remind you to choose your words more carefully Duke Aster. Do not forget the insolent child, as you call her is your Empress, and one of the main reasons we are no longer at war. Captain...Counselor Row, has already been an unofficial adviser to Her Majesty just as Admiral Alzey, and I have. He is not replacing anyone, but should you continue on path you are currently treading he might." It was amazing how calm he had sounded. The imperial council never having seen the man so much as raise his voice to anyone before was shocked into silence. David wondered if something had finally gotten through to them, at least temporarily.

Not long after the other members of the council arrived, including Alex. None of them aware that they were right where the enemy wanted them.

As the escort guards took their places at the doors, Sophia stood to begin the meeting. "In light of recent occurrences, I would like to suggest a change in current priorities. As you know most of the populace of Prester now resides in Anatoray territory. This city is currently the main provider of clean water for the people, while the new water filtration facilities are being constructed. Even with the guilds technology, the filtration facilities here may have trouble keeping up with the supply needed in the future. Our need for water is what makes us most vulnerable to our current enemy. If the facilities under construction should be attacked the effects would be devastating. I propose we move whatever defense forces we can spare to protect the construction sites."

As the discussion continued Alex quietly looked about the room. Everything was far more subdued than he had expected. No arguments, or even snide comments so far. He was actually beginning to feel drowsy. Others seemed to feel the same including Sophia and Vincent.

It wasn't until Nestor suddenly slumped forward in his chair that anyone realized something was wrong, and by then it was far to late. Alex covered his face with his sleeve, even the guards slid to floor unconscious. He shouted for Sophia to get out of room, but as soon as she stood from her chair she collapsed to the floor. In a mater of moments he was the only one awake. Guild people, masked and armed rushed into the room, they all wore the emblem of a bleeding rose. A girl put a gun to his head. "Why isn't he out like the others?"

"The meds, that traitor has him on are probably having a counter affect on the gas." A young man answered. "It doesn't matter, he can't do anything."

Alex found himself though still conscious, unable to think clearly. Another man walked over and kicked the chair hard enough to knock it over and send Alex to the floor. He then kicked Alex nearly sending him into the wall. The pain caused him to black out for a few moments, he was sure he some ribs had been fractured. He'd landed beside the unconscious Atlas.

"Axarus! Enough! Darius wants them alive." The girl harshly reprimanded the man.

Axarus snorted and glared at Alex, but did not attack again. The group was soon distracted with keeping those already attempting to rescue the council at bay, and removing the council members they had deemed more important out of the room.

Alex noticed a small sheathed dagger on Atlas' belt. Quietly he took the dagger sheath and all, shoving it into the top of his cast, gritting his teeth at the pain trying not to make a sound. If they lived through this he was going have to thank Actias for what ever painkillers he had been put on, he should definitely bee feeling more pain than he was. He also managed to take one of the guns Atlas carried, a small pistol, but had to quickly hide it inside the coat he was wearing when the girl ordered two other men to take him as well. It was a sharp, swift blow to the back of the head that finally knocked him out.

It was a loud, but distant explosion that woke him up. After waking the first thing he realized was that the pain killers had worn off. "...ah..Son of a bitch.."

"Alex?"

He turned his head to see Sophia and Nestor looking at him with worry. "Have I been coughing up blood or anything?" Sophia shook her head biting her lip. "Good... Very good." Despite their protest, and the pain he managed to get into a sitting position, and leaned his back against the cold metal wall. He looked around the room, it was a large, bare room with no windows. The lights in the ceiling high above them provided little light. It seemed to be some kind of abandoned store house. All the council members were present, he couldn't see any of the guards however, and hoped they had only been left behind.

The next thing he did was check his cast for the hidden dagger. It was still there. He found the pistol as well. They hadn't bothered to search him. After sending a silent prayer of thanks to which ever god had caused such stupidity, he vowed to make them regret it. He handed the dagger to Sophia. "How did you?..."

"I took them from Atlas, after the rest of you passed out. Apparently I'm not worth searching."

There was another explosion this time closer, followed by gunfire. Vincent who had been standing by one of the doors walked over and sat beside Sophia. "Hey you’re finally awake,... Why am I not surprised that you despite the circumstances have somehow managed to get hold of a gun?"

Alex ignored him. "What's going on?"

"As far as we know we are still in the city." Sophia answered. "They tried to take Dio, and Alvis too, but were stopped. From what we've heard they are both safe on the Silvana right now."

Alex sighed, and winced at the pain it caused. "That's good at least...dammit..it's my fault you're here, when you shouldn't be.."

"Of course it isn't! Alex don't be ridiculous." Sophia chided frowning at him.

"It is my fault Sophia, because I'm the one wh.."

"Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. I'm terribly sorry for the inadequate accommodations. I would much prefer to have you housed at our base in Disith, but because of interference we have been delayed." The guilds man who had entered followed by eight, armed guilds people, had to be even older than Nestor. He was heavy set, and bald. He smiled pleasantly at them, and carried a light conversational tone, however it only took one look into his eyes to realize the man was completely insane. "Forgive me. I'm being rude, I am the commander of the Blood Rose army, My name is Darius Bassianus."
______________________________________________________________________________

Author's notes: OOOOH! Cliff hanger! So much happened in this chapter, yet I have so little to say here. Originally this story was going to end with out any major conflict, and the Blood Rose Army was going to be a minor note till a possible future story. The fic kind of got away from me...

Darius Bassianus: Time to get my historical geek on. Originally he was just some crazy guild dude with a different name, but I decided why not? He is named after Darius III of Persia who was defeated in battle by Alexander the Great. (Who along with being a great military leader, also reportedly had a bad temper, and problems with alcoholism...Gee that sounds kind of familiar.)
He is Marius' older half-brother, and Euris' uncle. He is very loyal to Delphine, but was useless to her as he was an illegitimate child, and never learned the Bassianus Mysteria. She had him tortured to insanity for her amusement. Marius, and Euris both thought he had been killed.
To add to this, I had no idea while I was writing the fic, but apparently Delphine, and Dio's father was named Darius!

Hesperia is a Greek name meaning evening star.

Axarus is the name of an insect that looks a bit like a mosquito.

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