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|Liberation, Part Two|
3: Turned Tides
Air. Water. Earth. Fire.
After a long, fulfilled and yet exhausting life, Avatar Korra passed, being succeeded by Sari of the Earth Kingdom, who died early and didn't play a role in history.
The current Avatar is Asura of the Fire Nation, who mastered the elements quickly.
Although she thought she would never play an important role in history, she was proven wrong when the black ships arrived. The first one came in peace, but all the following carried a deadly load: WAR.
A war even the Avatar and her allies can barely end, one that threatens to end the worlds involved.
Now, more than ever, ending the war is urgent, for that for both sides it is either victory or death, for that this war could be the end of all of mankind.
Previously in Avatar: The War of the Worlds
Mike and Arzowa successfully motivate their respective Nations, Europe and the Fire Nation, to rebel against the Reich's occupation forces, while Anna and Olaf lead the Allies' space force into battle to capture Leonard T. Stuart and defeat the Aryan League's space force and thus, accelerate the end of the war.
Two Friends' Reunion
The armoured car stopped shortly before reaching the forest's edge. Further into the direction the car had driving, one of the greatest cities in all of Europe laid, the last one still occupied. Prague.
"Sorry, sir, we can't take you any farther. What shall I tell the Marshal regarding the offensive?", the driver asked through the turret's hatchway just as the Team was about to hop off into the snow.
"He shall begin when artillery is beginning to shoot within the city. No artillery, no air support, only armoured and infantry units. That'd be all lad, gotta get movin'!", Mike replied as he loaded his Lee-Enfield rifle.
They moved over the white cover as swiftly as their tiredness let them. A whole month of travelling from front to front only to fight more than on the one before had taken its toll, but it didn't hinder them to engage in the last encounter of the Great Battle for Europe, the Battle for Prague, the great city of the Přemyslids. The trees slowly thinned out before the forest ended abruptly before what was supposed to be a lawn. In said strip of land between forest and city, fences of barbed wire had been erected, machine gun nests had been built, and sirens set up. On the other side, houses had been converted into fortresses, though it were only those forming the first two lines facing the forest. But at this early hour, none of these emplacements were sufficiently manned. Only a machine gun nest and a few patrolling soldiers were in the Team's line of sight.
"Right, here's the plan. I shoot the machine gunner, all of us run for it. When we encounter barbed wire, we just cut it - be it with bending, a sword or my bayonet - and bend it aside to get through. Kiruya and Luo, you two gotta provide us cover if - when - needed. That ain't just count for now, that counts in general for today's battle. So, once we're in the city, we gotta fight our way to Hradčany, which is in the centre of the city - the biggest castle in the world stands there, and that's where we're headed. Questions will be answered en route.", Mike announced, and after meeting no verbal resistance, he began with the plan and fired a single round at the machine gunner, piercing his helmet and forehead. The six of them all stood up and ran as fast as they could, Kiruya slicing a fence of barbed wire into two, and separating both halves with water jets she froze to icicles which impaled three attacking soldiers who had been coming up on them. After running for a few minutes straight, impaling, shooting or burning any soldier who attacked them, they pressed themselves against the house's wall, panting heavily, their breath, or rather the water in it, forming little, frozen clouds. After catching their breath for a few seconds, they continued to infiltrate the occupied city. It wasn't completely occupied though, the liberation had, of course, reached this corner of Europe in its centre as well, but the Freedom Fighters' area of control was limited to the municipal districts of Praha 3, 7 and Praha Troja, as well as great parts of Praha 8, all located on the right bank of the Vltava river, in the north of the city. And, stupid as they were, the Team had to force their way up from the South. Hours passed as they walked through the vast city, avoiding every patrol of the occupation force. Their journey seemed to come to an early end when an engine's noise could be heard behind them. They had just entered the baroque and gothic-style built Nové Město, the New Town of Prague, when behind them, a huge tracked vehicle neared, a swastika pennant decorating its tower. Asura knew they had to act fast, since the tank drove down the street with a speed of at least thirty kilometres per hour, hence why she propelled herself into the air using her air- and firebending, and then shot a few fireballs at the turret to distract the crew. It was seemingly surprised, but then, the tanks commander, seemed to comprehend what was happening, opened the hatchway and manned the AA-machine gun mounted there. The Team's rest quickly took in what was happening and raced towards the tank. Zolu had taken out a weapon he had not used for a long time, and electrified the tank's commander quickly before said soldier could fire a single round at Zolu's sister. Mike had readied himself with a grenade on the other side of the turret and dropped it inside once the commander's unconscious body had dropped inside. He could catch a glimpse of another crew member loading his sub machine gun and pointing it upwards before Malu shut the hatchway. A few cries of dismay could be heard even through the thick armour, one clearly comprehensible as "Oh crap", while another crew member shouted "Get outta here!", before the grenade exploded and ceased any action. Luo and Kiruya, who had joined the three on the tank just as Malu shut the hatchway, opened it again and hauled up dead bodies of a total of five men that had formed the crew.
"Dammit Mike, what kind of grenade was that?", Luo asked as he examined the last body the two handed over to Zolu and Mike.
"Frag grenade. My last one. I just hope it didn't damage the equipment too much. Also, it appears I'm running out of ammo.", was the Grand Admirals answer as he bashed the last of the dead bodies off the tank. After looking on said corpses in regret for a split second, he announced, "Alright, I'll be the commander!"
"What? Commander of what?", Asura asked, landing on the main gun's barrel. All others gathered on the tank, but as he spotted a patrol coming their way, Zolu commanded, "In the tank, we've got visitors!"
Malu was the first and rushed to the driver's seat, followed by Kiruya who seated herself as the radio operator, while Luo had to sit in the very narrow space between the driver's seat and the radio unit, which actually was a kind of computer. Asura ended as the gunner, her brother as the assistant gunner, while Mike seated himself just underneath the hatchway as the commander.
"That kind of commander." He answered his companions previous question while Malu drove the vehicle as fast as possible to get away from the patrol, but said soldiers had already called for reinforcements. A shell detonated on the turret's left side, where Mike was sitting. The turret turned at his command and Zolu loaded the main gun with a shell. While he did so, his sister figured out how to operate said weapon. She aimed at the approaching tank and powered the coil up, turning a control dial to a point labelled as "max. velocity", asking, "Ready?" afterwards.
"Ready.", Mike declared, and so she pulled a bolt on the gun's side. It released the shell, which, due to its magnetic nature, was immediately attracted by the coil by the muzzle and shot towards it, before it was turned off automatically shortly before the shell had reached it. As moving objects tend to stay in that state unless another force has effect on the object, the shell continued its way through the air before it collided with the enemy tank's swivel joint and detonated, a thick cloud of smoke spread quickly, urging the Team to continue their journey to Prague Castle as vision faded swiftly. The tank continued through the streets until however, a hand grenade exploded underneath it, shaking it a little.
"Alright, now what was that?", Luo asked, shifting into a more comfortable position between feeding pipes and the tank's gear box, hitting his head on the armour in the process.
"A hand grenade, I guess. And those out there are insurgents... gimme a second.", Mike explained as he assembled a flagstaff from two wooden sticks, putting a Czech flag on it when he had finished it in the little room he had. After he had done that, he opened the hatchway and - as quickly as possible - replacing the swastika pennant with the Czech flag, surprising the surrounding insurgents greatly. Mike noticed they were just before entering the Old Town, Staré Město, since they were standing before one of the gates into it - the Powder Tower. In the distance, the Castle was visible, and Asura aimed at it. "Victory or Death!", Mike yelled, and Asura fired as she noticed fighting in the outer parts of the city - the offensive had begun. As the shell hit the enormous structure's roof, bombing a hole into it, the insurgents began their charge. The tank's machine guns fired tirelessly at all Wehrmacht soldiers they encountered, which were several hundred, supported by a handful of insurgents hopping up on the tank to get a ride. Soon, the tank had passed the bridge tower of the infamous Charles Bridge, and artillery from the river's other side opened fire upon them. The tank picked up speed on the bridge, shells exploding in, above and near the river's waters, huge fountains shooting up from it. The fighting neared the Old and the New Town as the insurgents gathered on the Charles Bridge to follow the sole tank up the Hradčany hill. The tank itself sped up through winding alleys until the huge castle complex came into sight. Malu stopped by Mike's order and they all climbed out of the vehicle.
"You know how to drive a tracked vehicle and how to operate a heavy coil gun, I hope?", the Grand Admiral asked the few insurgents who had hopped on the tank. Three of them nodded and climbed in, two others following, leaving the other - Mike counted quickly - seven. "Destroy as much artillery as you can. Off now!"
The tank drove off and Mike mounted the bayonet on his rifle. Hiding behind a tree, Kiruya asked, "So... Where are we now?"
"The Gardens of Prague Castle. We ought to get to Dalibor Tower, Daliborka, which is used as a prison for their only prisoner as far as I know - Marshal of Central Europe, Jan Svoboda. A childhood friend of mine. I ain't abandon him.", Mike announced as he sped off towards a round tower, leaving a trail of stabbed, shot and slain Wehrmacht soldiers. At the end of it was a former prison tower, where he stood before a locked, metal door, his hands and his rifle's buttstock and bayonet covered in blood. Luo rolled his eyes as he struck forward with an open palm, blasting the door inside. The room was oval on the inside, too, but there was an oddity: a door where it shouldn't be. Without thinking about it too much, Luo blast this one open as well, and Mike soon found himself walking down a concrete spiral staircase. At its end was yet another metal door, but Mike opened this one. He took his rifle and loaded it, aiming at the lock. When he shot, the lock was somewhat broken in two, and so, he could kick the door open himself. Behind it was a black-clad Reich officer holding a remote control for a torture device that was being used on a man in military uniform seated on a chair looking like an electric one. Mike shot the officer without further ado, proceeding to untie the man from the chair. His hair was pitch black, his skin pale, though not as pale as Mike's, his eyes brown and he had a moustache. The man's military uniform was of olive colour with a pair of khaki trousers. As he slowly rose from the chair, still trembling from the torture, Mike greeted him in dialectal Austrian German, "Habe die Ehre", meaning I have the pleasure. The man greeted him back in the same dialect, and the two started talking about relatively trivial matters in German, Czech, and in the end even Latin, until Zolu felt he ought intervene.
"Uh, lads, I don't wanna interrupt you or anything, but there's a battle going on out there... "
"Battle? What have I missed?", the man asked Mike, his right eyebrow rising.
"Might I first introduce you to my fellow companions here? Jan, that'd be Avatar Asura, her brother, Captain Zolu, and their friends Malu, Kiruya, and Captain Luo Beifong. Lads, that's Jan Svoboda, Marshal of Central Europe."
Jan stepped forth to exchange handshakes before Mike explained their journey to that point in any language they both could speak but English, while Jan searched for a weapon on a table that stood in a side chamber none of them had noticed.
"Whoa, seems like you've got some kind of journey... Oh, there it is!", Jan exclaimed as he found what he'd been looking for: a Russian Nagant M1895 revolver and ammunition for said handgun. He holstered it immediately.
"You might wonder what I've done to get imprisoned. Let's say that on the day you, Mike, started the war on Earth, all the governments of Europe down to cantonal level were imprisoned and replaced by nazi ones. The troops came the day afterwards, and a parade was held in Prague, the so-called Reichskommissar being the front man. Well, I shot him.", Jan explained, grinning stupidly, leaving questions unanswered. "What's a Reichskomm- "
"We're in the middle of a battle, remember?", Mike cut Asura off mid-sentence.
They were headed for the former residence of kings and presidents, the New Royal Palace. The First Courtyard was already a battlefield, the grid gate being torn down by the tank that stood in the courtyard's centre. Their tank. Mike rushed to take the flag off it and waited for the rest to catch up at the gate inside, which laid after yet another courtyard, on which two dozens of insurgents fought a few Wehrmacht soldiers. Running past them, the Team and Jan entered the Palace and forced their way up, Mike seemingly out of ammunition, or else he would've shot at some point. They wanted to make it to the roof's hole Asura's shot had caused, and the only way to it was through the current Reichskommissar's offices. The seven of them stopped by a window to catch their breaths - they had climbed all the way up to the paramount floor of the building, fireballs, air swipes, icicles, boulders, bullets and sword strikes eradicating any occurring resistance. Asura looked out and stated, "Troops coming up the hill... friendly ones... Insurgents with 'em as well."
Just as she had finished her sentence, a squad of - almost uniformed - insurgents, who at first aimed at the seven of them, but then lowered their rifles, running off into the opposite direction the seven were headed. After a few more seconds of rest, the Team was on their way again and stopped before a pair of doors labelled "Reichskommissar von Mitteleuropa", Reichskommissar of Central Europe. Without further thought, Jan kicked the wooden doors open and ran inside immediately following this, taking the troops inside by surprise. Mike followed and took the rest of the Team with him, bending, sword and melee attacks meeting the two dozen surprised soldiers and officials. The latter, being unarmed, tried to escape the one-sided fight through another pair of double doors, but Asura managed to block it with an earth pillar, and only a minute later, all the soldiers laid on the ground, bullets in the heads of five of them, a rifle's buttstock having crushed the bones of four others; sword wounds and electrification having been the cause for the demise of seven others while the four of the Team's benders had only taken dow the other three. The five officials had holed themselves up in a corner as Jan walked towards them, his expression being one of rage. "Please have mercy!", one of them begged.
"Mercy? MERCY?! Why should I have mercy if you have ordered the murder of millions of men, women and children? Why should I not avenge them?"
"We only were following orders!", another stated.
"Tell that to your precious Führer!"
Mike came over as Jan dragged one of them, seemingly the Reichskommissar, to a window, and the Grand Admiral said, "Time for a third Prague Defenestration!"
The Reichskommissar fell down and landed on the ground with a smack, if he somehow were to survive the fall, the next official's body landing upon his own nullified his chances, the third making sure that the second wouldn't survive, and so on, but when the fifth landed, Jan decided to personally ensure his death and fired his last bullet into the official's head. The Team's rest had watched in horror. "What? It's not like you haven't killed anyone.", Mike stated when he took notice of the Team's reaction to the unconventional execution.
"True, but... Not when they're begging for mercy!", Kiruya screamed at the Grand Admiral.
"How many of the soldiers we slaughtered without a second thought didn't beg for it?", he shot back, taking off to climb the way into the attic to get to the hole in the roof. Kiruya looked down again, at the five corpses lying in a pool of blood, before following him. He's right., she thought on the way, seeing all those dead bodies, sadly.
Not much had happened on their way up into the attic, except that Jan realised that he was out of ammunition and thus used the flag as a weapon. They were walking northwards to the hole, where a curious and unsuspecting Wehrmacht soldier stood, his sniper rifle lying beside him and he himself observing the European forces overrunning those of the Reich. The Team decided to encircle him and take him by surprise. A second late, he noticed Jan with the flag and tried to reach his handgun to shoot the marshal, but then said man had already pushed him out of the building, sending him falling to the ground to join his superiors. Just when his body landed with a thump, Jan walked to the hole and waved the flag victorious, Mike joining him, holding up his Lee-Enfield. The Great Battle for Europe was won.
Shells detonated all around his position, shattering windows, cracking walls, shrapnels piercing soldiers' skin, leaving them to bleed to death. The minister of state-security had failed in the role his master, his lord, the Fire Lord, had appointed him with, the role of the Regent of the Fire Nation. Crown Princess - de fact she now Fire Lord - Arzowa had proven his words at a scale he could've never imagined. She was not only almost unstoppable, she was unstoppable. The shelling's end proved it. His last stronghold was, ironically, the place where the rebellion had started, the Capital. The Harbour City to be exact. From the surrounding land, the troops began to pour into the urban area. Their flags were different to the ordinary Fire Nation ones, these had a black edging, red as the base colour, and the Fire Nation insignia in gold in its centre. The flags were mounted on tanks and carried by ensigns, all rushing onto the Royal Plaza, eliminating any resistance. Many soldiers who had been loyal to the regime during the Black Sun rebellion had defected to Arzowa now, but that wasn't his greatest problem. The 11th Shock Army, which should've enforced Olizon's and Asano's reign had failed - all the infantry and armoured units of the Four Nations' Legion had chosen Arzowa as their new commander, and, equipped from the Fire Nation, had wiped the thin-stretched Shock Army out. A division of Loyal soldiers had survived until now. Counting in that they were outnumbered twenty to one, almost out of ammunition, and have gotten little to no training, they were putting up a good fight. Only minutes after the shelling had ended, he walked inside of the Battle Tower. It had been converted into a military headquarters in the past month since the rebellion had started. No, not rebellion. They were winning, and thus, would be writing the history books. This was a liberation. He moved to the table he had placed in the room's centre, and took a knife from underneath a tactical map of the Capital, unsheathing it and moved its point to his heart.
"What do you think you're doing?", a female voice he recognised all too well spoke as a blue flame illuminated the room.
He looked at the Crown Princess who walked up to him, his heart beating rapidly. A few seconds later, High General Muto and Agent Anjong came into his vision, being followed by several men of the Royal Procession. The men, wearing their kind's traditional armour, surrounded him as Arzowa shot a fireball past Asano. Muto handed her a leather wrapper which she handed to the minister, who had decided to sit down on the chair by the table.
"Surrender? Never! I'd rather- "
"What, kill yourself? Of course. I don't think that your will to survive is that weak. Or that you can endure that much pain... ", Arzowa spoke, generating lightning with her right hand, smiling evilly at the mass murderer who looked at the imprinted wrapper, which read, Unconditional Surrender. He looked up at the Crown Princess. She wouldn't just kill, she would make him suffer like those whose deaths he was responsible for. He decided for the easier and painless alternative. He took a brush from the table and a found himself some ink. After soaking the brush's head in it, he laid it aside and read through the few pages of the document and looked up at the three soldiers before him.
"Well, what other choice do I have... "
He took another brush and the knife. He stung into his own finger and took the blood to soak the brush with. He placed the few characters on the paper, stroke after stroke, having to use new blood after each character. He then had finished it. Before any of them could react, he took the knife tighter and rammed it into his chest - if there hadn't been a rock glove hindering his hand's movement.
"You won't escape justice that easily. Seon, arrest him for crimes against the Air Nomads, the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the United Republic and the Fire Nation, and, most importantly, for crimes against humanity.", Arzowa spoke as the Dai Li agent fired his second rock glove to tie the minister's hands behind his back. The Battle for the Fire Nation was over, but it was just the beginning of the end.
The gunship arrived in the Bismarck's hangar and fired several missiles attached to its wings just to cause havoc, before the two dozens of European marines jumped off, cleansing the hangar of enemy resistance, only waiting on the two Admirals to show the way. Anna and Olaf leapt off and immediately headed to the left of the two exits on the hangar's sides. Two soldiers tried to hold the two up, but their attempt was met by a shotgun and a Tommy Gun. The marines followed closely after them, rushing through corridors, always headed upwards. When they encountered proper resistance for the first time, the boarders had to take cover whatever offered itself to do so, mostly empty quarters, as they were in the ship's tower, where all of the men's quarters were located. Anna, an armour of kevlar and the like covering her red uniform, caught notice of Olaf on the other side of the corridor, only a mere metre away from her. "Hey, why aren't you wearing a Kevlar, at least a vest?"
"I don't think I'll need it... besides, my uniform matches my hair!", the red-haired soldier answered his comrade's question, and as if to prove him wrong, a bullet hit his right upper arm. The Admiral winced in pain and dropped his shotgun as one of the marines threw a grenade over to the enemy. Anna crawled over to him as fast as possible and took the dressing material she had taken with her, and dressed the wound, and used it to hinder the arm from moving by binding it to Olaf's chest. The Swede took his handgun in his left hand while Anna decided to bind the shotgun to the arm so that the muzzle was between arm and body and Olaf could still use it. In the meantime, the grenade had taken care of most of the Reich's marines and the European ones could advance further. After that floor, it was the final staircase they had to climb, and only five of the marines followed their superiors up, the rest remained at the staircase's bottom, securing the area. When they had come to the last corridor, the five marines went the way backwards to the communications and the fire control, while the Admirals went on the bridge. Surprisingly, they found the door open and when they entered, only Stuart stood there, awaiting them. The ship was abandoned. Anna prepared a rope she had brought, but the minister turned around to face her and kicked her in the stomach. Olaf, angered by the minister's action, kicked at the minister himself, and punched him with his pistol. The minister, however, blocked the latter actions and fended the two Admirals, who both attacked at the same time, off at once by knocking their heads together. After this strike, Anna brought Stuart to the ground by using her rope like a lasso and catching his foot. She stood and went over to him, pulling him up to face her, and readied her right hand to punch him in the face. But when she tried to do so, a hand covered by a black glove stopped her and forced her to the ground. When she looked up, a soldier or marine stood there, aiming his rifle straight at her head. Olaf was in a similar situation, and they both knew they had the element of surprise on their side. Olaf aimed at one marine and pulled the trigger. In the same moment, Anna punched the marine who was guarding her in the face with his own rifle's buttstock. She took her sub-machine gun, which had been lying on the floor, and fired at the rest of the marines to drive them back, before she lunged at Stuart, who had drawn his own gun, a Luger pistol. He shot, and hence her Kevlar armour, he failed to hurt her, and she forced him to the ground once more. Olaf had driven out the marines with his handgun and now was walking to the on-board computer with a screwdriver and a pair of pincers, and began disassembling it, to get to the hard drive. Stuart was unable to take notice of that as he was doing his best not to get captured. After a minute, Olaf let the hard drive, not bigger than a small book, slide into Anna's backpack and then soundlessly took off to get to the communications for reinforcements, before Stuart overpowered Anna by elbowing her into the face and punching her into the stomach. The Admiral took her gun and fired a few rounds at the minister, who took off to the other hangar of the battleship. The battle still was raging outside, and a single small ship escaping more wouldn't attract attention. Anna stood up as Olaf and the five marines entered, an expectant look on the former's face. Anna shook her now bruised head and walked off the bridge, defeated.
"All larboard batteries, open fire! Sink the Bismarck!", the Admiral ordered, her broken nose being treated by a medic. At the order, the three main turrets turned left, and all cannonry on said side opened fire, including the nine main guns. Nothing was special, except the fac that the secondary guns weren't one-hundred fifty millimetre high-velocity coil guns anymore, instead of shells they shot green, glowing bullet-like flames - plasma guns. The Bismarck broke into half with a great, soundless explosion under the heavy shelling, leaving the last of the League's ships without any kind of overall commander or battleship, which, combined with the Allies' ships' heavy fire, urged them to retreat. The Battle of the Kepler 22 system was a complete success. Almost.
The cruiser Saxonia arrived in Washington, not knowing how to tell his only superior, his leader, his guide, his Führer that he had failed. That the greatest piece of military intelligence, data of all troop strengths wherever the Reich had garrisons, troop and naval movements, of supply routes, basically, of everything. As he entered the bunker the Führer tended to reside in ever since the Germania had been attacked by the Red October in hyperspace, he was at a loss of words. His failure was total, the Kriegsraummarine scattered across the fourth of the galaxy that mankind called its territory, Europe and the Fire Nation in open - and successful - rebellion, both blockades they had set up proven worthless. The tide was turning.
Notes and Trivia
- As I've already been in Prague Castle once or twice, I know it a little bit, just like the city of Prague in general. But only a bit.
For the collective works of the author, go here.