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25 February 2013 @ 05:15 am
FIC: One Life for a Thousand  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: One Life for a Thousand
Part: 1/1
Rating: M
Configuration: /
Warnings: contemplation of political murder
Word Count: 1.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Hyperion, Gregory, Lilith, Amadeus
Summary: The last Habichtswald has been captured, and the press and nobility has gathered to see him executed. Only the Emperor seems of this last bit of violence...
Feedback: Yes, please!

“This is barbarous!” Hyperion rumbled, struggling to keep his voice low despite his outrage. “I am NOT going to murder that child!”

But his outburst was only met with unmoving faces by his closest advisers. His son, Gregory, just stood there with his arms crossed in front of his chest, his unreadable purple eyes all but drilling holes into Hyperion. Next to him, Lady Lilith had her slender white hands folded to a sharp triangle, pointing down, her whole stance showing that she considered the matter without alternative.

“What?!” he snarled, “I waged this godforsaken war to put an end to the killing!”

Agitated as he was, one of Hyperion’s rear legs caught in the heavy curtain that separated the narrow space they were standing in from the actual throne room. The motion sent nervous waves rippling through the fabric, announcing his presence to the gathered crowd like a bobbing swimmer announced a fish nibbling at the hook. Instantly, a hush fell over the assembled people, their murmur only resuming slowly and in much subdued fashion.

Carefully, Hyperion untangled his leg and set down all the others firmly. Having six cybernetic legs was a great advantage in close combat. But when trying to hide behind a curtain in the imperial throne room - not so much.

“Talk to me,” Hyperion urged his companions. “Tell me why I should be murdering that boy in cold blood.”

“He is not a boy,” Greg corrected him cautiously. “He is a Habichtswald. The last of his kind.”

“He is even younger than you!” Hyperion hissed back, almost forgetting to keep his voice low. “And we all know that he is not the last of his ilk.” Turning his head to Lilith, he asked caustically: “How many are we missing?”

“A few hundred at least, maybe a thousand.” Her voice was perfectly tempered, but the hummingbird motion of her eyes clearly showed that she was well aware of the importance of the moment. “But if we wait until we really have the last one, this war will drag on for generations.”

“So you keep telling me.” Taking a deep breath, Hyperion argued: “I do not think this will change anything. It will only spill more blood in my name, create one more martyr, one more legend malcontends can rally to.”

“This war will not be over until the last Habichtswald is dead.” Gregory stated firmly. “The will fight to the last man standing, and not surrender until their last drop of blood is spilled. Killing the last one before all of them are dead might be a lie, but it might just be a lie that will allow the rest of them to sneak away in silence, disappear, and be done with it.”

“Once these facts move into history, the necessary contrivances of today will become obvious truth,” Lilith added. “I think it is well worth it.”

“One life for a thousand,” Hyperion mumbled under his breath. “Can you guarantee me it will work? Will this be the end of the killing?”

“You know I cannot give you guarantees, Father.” Gregory sounded vaguely pained. “The probabilities are as good as they can get.”

“I think it will.” Lilith confirmed. “The Empire is tired of fighting, and people will want to believe it is finally over.”

For a long moment, Hyperion looked at the two, his face twitching with conflicting emotions.

“I will guarantee it.”

All three of them turned around, staring at the newcomer who had silently appeared in the doorframe leading into the corridor further into the palace. Dressed in tight blue jeans and a fluffy white turtle-neck, Amadeus looked like going for a stroll, or maybe a round of Crockett on a slightly chilly afternoon. He definitely did not look like someone attending the execution of his cousin.

“I cannot see the future, nor do I have a spy in every house,” Amadeus said. “ But I know a thing or two about people, and I do know my family. I will guarantee you that they will stop fighting, once the last of them is dead. And I will guarantee you that the war is over if you go out there today and kill that boy, as grisly and violently as you can. If there is his blood and entrails splattered over everyone in the throne room, then you will have peace.”

“How can you say such a thing,” Gregory all but whispered, once again taken completely aback by his husband’s words. “How can you be so sure?”

“I have to believe this is right, because if I doubted this, how could I justify what I have done so far?” With a grim sigh, Amadeus left his place in the doorframe and walked over to Hyperion. “Greg and I will come with you and stand outside, on the dais, when you do it.”

Silently, Gregory nodded, while Hyperion seemed genuinely stunned for a moment.

“Thank you,” he finally said.

“Don’t thank me,” Amadeus retorted coldly. “I expect you to put a show on out there like never before. I want you to rage and to bellow, to howl and shake guts at the camera. I don’t know, maybe roll in his blood, fuck his skull, eat his heart. But whatever you do, never forget that if there is one person left in this room without nightmares tonight, the war is not over. Pretend to be a monster, so you can stop being one.”

With a deep shudder that ran through his waddles of fat, Hyperion stared at his son-in-law. “You ask a lot of me.”

“One life for a thousand,” Amadeus quipped, pleading. “We have all done worse.”

“I know.” Taking another, shuddering breath, Hyperion gained his composure. “One life plus a little bit of show for a thousand, you say? I think I can do that. I know a boy who managed worse.”

Amadeus shrugged, taking his place behind Hyperion and next to Gregory. “A life for a thousand. A House for an Empire,” he said, looking at his husband with deep affection. “And all I had for the love of my life.”

Milady OMlady_om on February 25th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC)
Oh, I remember I wanted this story... from some bit that leaked out in another story... but where? I can't keep this particular corner of your universe in my overtaxed brain. Terrible pun is terrible, but do you have the linky link?

I like this twisted tale, but I can't decide if Amadeus is smart or psychopathic, and if there is a difference :))

Pretend to be a monster, so you can stop being one. - good line.

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on February 25th, 2013 08:24 am (UTC)
You asked for it in the comments to 'Ouverture', here: http://osirisbrackhaus.livejournal.com/23091.html

The verdict on Amy's state of mind is still pending. Odds are on him being a terribly smart psychopath.

Thanks for commenting!
Milady OMlady_om on February 26th, 2013 01:05 pm (UTC)
Ok I remember now. Are we going to get a peek to the throneroom? And who is that boy? Is his story in the queue?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on February 27th, 2013 08:05 am (UTC)
Urm, so far, neither nor.

Maybe we'll get to know the boy's name and story at one point in time. But I really wouldn't want to write about such a doomed person - anyone up for the job?
BerthaBlueberthablue on February 25th, 2013 06:35 am (UTC)
Chilling! But there is a certain sort of sense behind it. I like the ruthlessness.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on February 25th, 2013 08:26 am (UTC)

Yep, SW II was neither the place nor the time for playing nice. And yes, I also like the ruthlessness, and that Amy is still able to surprise them all. :D
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on February 25th, 2013 09:51 am (UTC)
Oh, oh, oh this is brilliant, I absolutely love Hyperion's reluctance countered with it being Amadeus who tells him to be gruesome and play the part of the monster so he no longer has to be one; so perfect.

“A life for a thousand. A House for an Empire,” he said, looking at his husband with deep affection. “And all I had for the love of my life.”

That last line was so touching and stunning.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on February 25th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
Oh my, thank you for the praise!

I love Amy, and the interplay between him, Greg and Hyperion. And I am SOO happy it comes across properly, so thanks again!
peony_blackpeony_black on February 25th, 2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
I don't know ... I obviously don't have context, but I have mixed feelings about this. Please, please, do not hate me too much.

I think if I were emperor, no one would ever convince me to kill whom I don't want to kill. Chances are I'd likely want to kill plenty people. Perhaps I might kill them at random, so they don't get too comfortable. But a child to end a war? Because my family says so?

Doesn't this make Hyperion sort of a puppet king? :(

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on February 26th, 2013 05:26 am (UTC)
Why in all the world should I hate you? For having an opinion? :D No, I am actually grateful, questions like this is where I learn most.

First off, I completely agree with your thoughts on being an emperor. Especially Greg was great on the 'random killings' part, but Hyperion wasn't far behind.

This moment is different, because Hyperion is tired of the war. He knows that it makes sense what his son and closest advisor tell him. He knows he has to, but still he doesn't want to. He trusts Amy and Greg, especially when they agree, which at that time was an almost heretical notion for a Dracon.

I can see where you get the impression that Hyperion was sort of impressionable, with no other scenes to judge on. He was not, trust me. I picked this scene because it showed that occasionally, he bowed to reason (if hit hard enough), and that he had a conscience, much unlike the way he will be portrayed in later years.

But as I said, I think that all will make much more sense the more we get to know him.

Thanks a lot for commenting!
Charischarisstoma on February 26th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC)
I see the logic but is this where the Dracon ethos comes from, this example? *shudders*
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on February 26th, 2013 05:29 am (UTC)
In a way, yes.

But this is the moment where the 'new school' Dracon come from, you know, the slightly nicer ones.

Old school Dracon wouldn't have had qualms killing at all. Most of all, they wouldn't have listened to anyone else, and especially not the ones directly in line of inheritance.

So for Hyperion showing trust in his son and son-in-law and putting his own feelings aside for the greater good is a tremendous step to the better. It is still pretty damn ugly bad, but better. ^^
idolme922idolme922 on February 27th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC)
I was about to throw up when the last line hit me in the face, putting it all into rder. Icy cold and brilliantly chilly. Well done. :D

I've been traveling and thus behind on reading, but never fear I will catch up. Permanant vacation (retirement) is glorious!!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on February 27th, 2013 08:06 am (UTC)
Hehe, good to hear that you enjoy all that time and put it to good use. And very reassuring that you still find the time to read our stories occasionally.

Thanks for commenting, glad you liked it!
radohovaradohova on March 1st, 2013 06:36 am (UTC)
ok, so I'am against the killing but I understand the reason behid.but couldn't it be an older pearson and not a boy. it's the age of the sacrifice that make you go grrrrrr. And that's the brilliancy of the story.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on March 1st, 2013 07:33 am (UTC)
I can't really say why, but from the first moment I envisioned this scene, I always saw that teenage Habichtswald being dragged into the throne room by black-clad Dracon guards, his blond curls matted with blood, his white uniform torn...

You get the point. I don't want to be gratuitously cruel, but this whole moment fits perfectly with the time and people.

Thank you for reading and commenting!
hab318princess on August 2nd, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC)
*gulps* wow, not sure who I feel the sorriest for... Hyperion for having to be the monster (and I'm pretty sure it's not something he'll ever forget / forgive himself for) or the last Habichtswald for what is coming
great story
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on August 3rd, 2013 05:55 am (UTC)
Thank you, dear!
It's not as if Hyperion hadn't done worse before, but this was just too much for him. You are absolutely right, this is going to haunt him for a long while to come.

Very glad you liked it, and thanks for the comment!