Viva la Revolucion!
January 12, 2012
Sometimes when I look at a piece, specifically stuff in the Steampunk genre, it collides with other ideas. This is the beginning, the seeds if you will, of a steampunk French revolution. I think. It’s also a love story between two boys who grew into men during the most awful time in their country’s history. I hope.
We watched nervously as the first fire started, racing quickly through the old Parliament building and billowing out of the windows like banners. We heard the first cheers were from old Market Street, led by Amalia, my sister. She was standing in front of the crowd like an ancient queen with dad’s old rocket cannon beside her like a scepter and her metal combat helmet a crown. I sat watching one of the alleys behind Rodderdam Palace with Lukis, listening to our radio filled with hopeful banter and the roar of the crowds.
Lukis looked to me and set his rifle aside. “This is only the beginning, Marcus. There’s still a lot of fighting to do, especially since Masterson escaped. We can’t let him or the king retake any of the bunkers outside of town.”
I looked to the stars and chuckled, “Yes but I cannot help but rejoice now, you know? I don’t think cataclysm ever felt so good or exciting. Tonight we’ll eat well, we’ll drink, we’ll remember what it’s like to be free even if it’s for a short time. Tomorrow we can fight more, tomorrow we can talk of building new governments and cleaning streets, but tonight…” I paused and smirked at Lukis, who just rolled his eyes. “Tonight is for celebrating.”
He picked his rifle up again and clapped me on the shoulder. He smiled and whispered, “Hope,” and let it hang in the air. “It is a strong weapon. It’s been the best weapon in freeing Lorence from Masterson’s regime. I guess it deserves its own care and some extra ammunition every now and again.”
I tilted my helmet up a bit before walking toward the growing crowd in Saint Catherine’s square. “You accuse me of speaking poetically all the time and then you say something like that?” I shook my head and laughed. “Sometimes I feel that the revolution has made writers of us all.” I paused and sighed dramatically. “Even those that don’t appreciate a bit of melodrama.” While he said nothing, I could feel Lukis’ scowl on my back as I led us toward the party, a grin on my face.
When we arrived the shouting was already loud (and the Armistice Nationals playing songs of the revolution over loudspeakers didn’t help) and people were walking around stunned and smiling. Lukis and I set down our rifles and arrived to hugs, congratulations, and tear-stained faces. Both of us were handed beer and food and ushered by friends to different parts of the party. While the war so far had been long, while the war has yet to end, It was a night of joy, filled with speeches from drunken soldiers and sober philosophers, music from both professionals and folk masters, and plenty of hugging, kissing, and cheering. It wasn’t until late in the evening, my face red from shouting and drinking, that I saw Lukis again as Amalia brought us to her command tent along with the other scouts and commandants.
“It’s good that you’ve enjoyed yourselves,” she started, looking around at all of us – both veterans of Lorence’s older wars and the young firebrands that started the revolution before. “However, we still have a lot of work to do. Our scouts have seen Masterson moving east along the causeway toward the ridge line. We’re not sure what they’re up to, as the last bunker we know they constructed is north of the city, but we’ll need to ensure they don’t find another place to hide. That’s why I’m going to have you lead teams to shut them in the ridge line and the ravine just beyond it. Lukis and Terrance will lead the scouts into the ravine to ensure they cannot retreat while Paulson, Rodders, and Davis will lead their units along their southern flank to keep their backs to the wall. I’ll have the bulk of our forces marching directly toward them, to push them into our trap. While we want them to surrender, don’t be afraid to fire. It won’t be the first lives lost to the revolution, and they may not be the last. Get some sleep, we move out in the morning.”
The next morning was an early one, but not for the reasons we had hoped. Instead of a quiet morning filled with breakfast and marching, we were woken by rockets that came screaming out of the hills and struck the tents and people scattered throughout the square. Most of the rebels couldn’t get out in time, being struck either by the rockets themselves or consumed by the fires that followed the explosions. Those of us who did survive the initial attacks scattered into the alleys of the city and tried to run south, toward our old refuges underground. I watched from a hovel as Masterson strode into the square, smiling and ranting while carefully avoiding the gathering pools of blood and debris. “We shall break you!” he called. “We shall smash your rebellion and demolish your petty government!” His face turned red with exertion as his own soldiers filed into the square, executing the still living and burning what remained of our tents. “We shall crush the life from your bodies and burn your stories from history! Your blood will run for no other purpose than my own pleasure! You hear me, Amalia d’Carris? Terrance d’Carris!? Just like your father and mother, YOU SHALL BURN!”
I ran far, for as long as my legs would hold me, without looking back. I didn’t know what to do, where to go, who was safe. All I could think of was how afraid I was.