Zodiac had once upon a time been the primary elite forces of the Lunar kingdom. For over two hundred years it had stood alone up the mountain of greatness. Since the arrival of lady Nimue the founder and only leader, the organization had sky rocketed past all others like the legendary calvary of the Brigidians and the prolific Silver Sails to be the elite of the elite.
It had arose with the nation it served fanatically and with great unquestionably loyalty. Legends were spoken about them. They were looked upon as heroes who stood shoulder to shoulder with even those of a thousand years ago.
Every child of every birth and standing had at some point dreamed of joining Zodiac and becoming the shield to guard the realm.
But now, all that was lost after the battle of the Nexus. The once prestigious organization had been met with a crushing defeat at the hands of the kingdoms of Avalon and the Nexus, it lost them many important members and the faith of the kingdom that had once thought them untouchable.
It had also brought the Lunar kingdom into direct conflict with the kingdom of Avalon, who had once been neutral but now were an added foe to the ever increasing list the Lunar kingdom was forced to deal with. That had not won them any support from the generals tired of fighting on many fronts and the troops being thrown into those meat grinders.
But it could only get worse after lady Nimue's attempts to use the power of the Archetype-King to fuse this universe and the Nexus was discovered after an internal investigation.
The attempt would most likely ended with their universe being destroyed and the people of the Lunar kingdom proved little forgiving for the organization that had turned rogue. She still remembered the riots on the street calling for a mass execution of every member of Zodiac.
The king himself personally took a hand at dismantling the organization he had once favoured, until nothing publicly visibly of it remained.
Many former Zodiac members were moved into other organizations while others were simply discharged and rolled into the normal armed forces and forced at many times to keep their former position with it a secret in fear of assault. There name was lesser than mud to many.
This was how Juno Freya found herself upon a Silver Sails ship with the badge of a silver swan flying above the sea upon her shoulder. The crest had replaced the Zodiac circle that she had once donned with pride and had been the envy of so many around her.
She wanted to rip it off and place back her old Zodiac crest but that would be more than enough reason for the twins to throw her overboard, that is if Leo didn't kill her with her bare hands before that.
Speaking of her elder sister, she was leading their little part to the main office of the twins upon the head ship named the Tide.
Even if they weren't part of Zodiac anymore, their rank were still high enough to entitle them to a true debriefing before they smacked heard first into Avalon. They had suffered loses of rank as part of the official punishment, but they still had enough.
It was a sign her parents had said to her and her sister that the king and the top heads of the military still valued their service. Juno had taken solace in that, though her sister simply scowled.
Though she had heard the whispering of the other Lunar kingdom troops back home and upon this very ship. If they had their way she would either be in a cell stripped of all her ranks or in an unmarked shallow grave somewhere.
"All of you remember to behave" her sister might have said all of them but she only meant Scorpio in particular.
Unlike the rest of them, he had not taken the loss of Zodiac well. He refused to be called by his real name, he refused to recognize the admirals as his commanding officers and he had gotten much more irritable and difficult to deal with with every passing day.
It was only yesterday that her sister had needed to stop him again from saying something stupid to the admirals. She knew that he wanted to challenge them to a sparing session once more and while Juno wasn't the greatest fighter in the realm, she could tell that the two of them would tear him apart.
After all, the current limp in his leg was from a sparing match he had only challenged one of them to. Of course Scorpio didn't care much for anyone telling him the truth, so he sulked and complained like a child, about them being cowards and soiling the Zodiac name.
"As if it wasn't stained before " she thought with a scoff.
"Stop looking at me like that" Scorpio snapped at all of them but after putting up with this petulant behavior for weeks, any intimidating factor he once had, had long ago vanished and Juno joined the others in rolling their eyes.
"Oh, who else shall we look at to behave unpatriotic and subversive to the good of the state" Sagittarius replied with a mocking tone.
"Now listen here horse. That gift was given to you by our lady and you gladly kiss the polished backsides of those children" Scorpio sneered at the much larger Sagittarius.
"Those so called children are admirals and royalty. Show some damn respect you unpatriotic fool!" Sagittarius shouted pulled his bow from his back while Scorpios tail stood in attention ready to strike his fellow Zodiac member turned bitter enemy at a moments notice.
The tension in the air thick and musty, had the she used her bone blades, Juno was extremely sure that she would cut through something.
Aries looked ready to intervene once more, he had dropped the usual grin that adorned his face and reminded Juno more of the terrifying commander he had once been.
"They are nothing but a bunch of cousins born of a traitors line, they aren't even direct royalty. Our dear lady had much more greatness in a single strand of her hair than those pups have in their entire body!" Scorpio shouted back as veins of anger began visibly throbbing along the sides of his head.
The two looked ready to attack each other but a giant green vine with large and small spikes around it flew between them cutting off their potential bout.
All eyes turned to Leo, whose steel blade had become the vine. Her sister still wore her full body armor making her more intimidating as she was like a cold specter with no facial expressions to make her look less like a Fae and more like a machine.
"Like i said before, behave yourselves. The next time this happens i shall personally punish the offender and trust me, you shall wish for death" her voice was cold and commanding, this was more a prophecy of the future than a simple warning.
Of course the person who ignored was Scorpio with a scoff " Overgrown your standing haven't we little lion. Need i remind you that i am your commanding officer. The scorpion's poison can still bring the lion low?".
"No need Serren Umbale, in Zodiac you were my commanding officer, but here in the Silver Sails you are my junior officer. I hope that your head doesn't get too big for your station. I have crushed enough scorpions in my day, i don't see how this one will be any different" the thorny vine returned to her blade which was once again normal and she walked to get face to face with Scorpio towering over him with her sword held tightly in hand as a silent threat.
Scorpios face was like a ripe tomato from all of the boiling rage underneath him. Juno knew that one of the easiest ways to blow Scorpios fuse was to use his real name and to remind him of his lost rank.
" She shouldn't have done that " she thought looking between her sister's and Scorpio, whose tail was poised and ready to strike.
"Watch your tone girl, unless you need a good reminder of who the bloody hell i am " his cold almost emotionless tone of voice was completely different from his red, throbbing head.
"Do try that Umbale, see what how far you get before i send your corpse back to your family missing a head" Leo's voice was just like his and her grip of her sword tightened.
The two remained transfixed in their position glaring at each other with neither a finger raised in combat. Though should they fight Juno had an idea who would emerge victories. Even back when Scorpios leg wasn't damage the two had been equals in combat and Leo had gotten better. Her sister had the advantage over Scorpio and she was sure that he knew that as well.
"Enough" Aries great voice rang as he roughly grabbed Scorpio by the arm.
Scorpio tried to pull himself out of the muscled giants grip but his strength was no match for Aries who remained planted in place no matter how much Scorpio fought against him.
"Unhand me, you dog!" Scorpio cursed and tagged but to avail.
"No, you have said your peace and you have been heard. It isn't worth losing your head, now come" Scorpio tried to resist but Aries dragged him away anyway.
"I don't know what anyone ever saw in him" Sagittarius said with a heavy sigh as he trotted away.
"He was fanatically loyal to Zodiac and lady Nimue. He would fight and kill anything and anyone without question, he is a good dog who knows his role " she thought as she remembered lady Nimues exact words.
"Sister, would have really done it, would have disciplined him?" she finally gathered up the courage to speak to Leo.
" If needs be" the answer was grim and as Leo returned her blade to her scabbard, the sound of metal scratched against metal was like a seal.
"It would be illegal tho. As a captain you don't have the power to enact summary executions. The Admirals would be displeased" she didn't know why she was saying this but the words kept leaking out of her mouth.
"Better him than us. We have survived a unfortunate fate by some vestige of mercy afforded to us. Scorpio wishes to throw it away with our lives on childish bravado. If i slew him here and now, the crew and Admirals would turn the other way. Half of them want us dead for our actions and Scorpio seems hellbent to go above and beyond to fuel the great fires that threaten to consume us".
Juno wanted to say something else but she bit her tongue. Leo wasn't in the mood to be questioned, much less after Scorpio's display of defiance.
They arrived last into the briefing room, though the Admirals hadn't arrived as well. This of course didn't spare them from the scornful glares of their fellows.
Leo took a seat at the main table that was wooden and carved with ancient images of the great Queen Gwenilia and her legendary fleet. Her and the others sat at the back of the lower officers seats.
Leo had ordered them to do this as a sign of outwards repentance. Scorpio had protested of course and when he had tried to sit in front a group of solders had forced him to the back roughly. This happened ten tines before he got the message and now sat in the back, albeit reluctantly.
"Gar-Leo, you have finally chosen to grace us with your presence" one of the high ranking officials sneered out her old rank name with all the thinly veiled contempt one would muster.
"Forgive me, Var-Umbrang. I take full responsibility for our lateness, i will see to it that appropriate actions are taken" Leo bowed her head in a sign of submission as she spoke.
Juno tightened her knuckles as she tried to hold back the bile of anger within her. Leo had ordered them all to be submissive and to take every little insult, every little chiding jab from the rest of the crew without fighting back.
They were surrounded by enemies all wishing for an excuse to strike them while the iron was hot. To keep them at bay until the Zodiac storm had blown away was the smartest cause, but by Dia above it was not the easiest.
Leo took off her helmet and once more her deeper longer scar and the dead eye made Juno self conscious of the rather shallow scar the prince of
Avalon had given her. She wished that she had a bucket nearby in order to spit to the bastard.
Within a few minutes the doors opened and the two Admirals with jet black flowing hair, equal facial features even though one was male and the other female. Their official Admiral suites were deep blue suits with the crest of the Silver Sails on one shoulder and the royal families silver dragon around the moon on the other.
The two were synched in every step that they took forward, their facial expressions were the same and even their Fae wings flattered at the same speed, never missing a beat. To be honest Juno some times found the twins unnerving in that aspect of their being.
The two both sat at once at the head tables seat. The boy Lug remained sitting as his sister Brig arose and with a self assured smile that easily crossed into the world arrogance welcomed them.
"My brothers and sister's at arms, we shall spare you the usual worthless display of pageantry" Lug declared gain a few chuckles from the crowd.
Juno frown as she tried and failed to imagine lady Nimue doing the same thing. It was more alien to try and think of Zodiac members laughing during her speech. They would have remained silent and respectful as was expected of their position and who she was. It was only natural after all.
"You have been given the bare information of this mission before you left your various ports. You know that we are part of a calculated strike against the kingdom of Avalon" Brig continued from her brother.
"But that is not the specific hope of this mission. We are aiming to capture a high priority target who will serve as a great bargaining chip against Avalon" Lug jumped in without losing a beat.
The holographic projector on the table started up and the image of the high priority target made Juno lose her breath and scar stung with a phantom pain like when it had been fresh.
"The prince?" Leo seemed alarmed as she spoke " Forgive for any impudence Admirals but isn't kidnapping the Prince too risky. We... i mean Zodiac kidnapped both their King and Queen and they still come after us. It seemed more likely to bring the full force of the Avalonian military upon us".
"A wise council Var-Freya, but we are not Zodiac and we intended to put the entire weight and might of the Lunar kingdom between our captive and them. We are also going to capture more targets, civilian and combatant alike. The Avalonians might be ready to lose a prince, but i doubt that they are ready to lose thousands more without losing the support of their populace. Their people are war weary from their past conflicts, we can destroy their moral in one foul swoop, they are going to declare on us anyway after... Well, you know...
" Brig answered for her brother while the others laughed at her sister who bowed her head.
"Forgive me, Admirals".
" All is forgiven Var-Freya" Lug said with a smug smile that tightened the anger twisting within her chest.
"Now, our attack strategy" Brig raised her hand and a holographic image showed their ships and a the shore of Avalon " So far using our dimensional jumper, we have managed to avoid detection by the Avalonians, but the wards around their land is impossible to cross without punching through it. Our nova canons can get us through, though some of our other ships will have to break off and fight the battleship's in the area that will converge upon us".
"When we hit land, Alpha squad led by Var-Freya will go to the mountain city. We have reliable confirmation that he shall be there " Lug followed in from his sister.
Upon the mentioning of her sister's name a loud amount of disgruntled murmuring washed over the the many silver sails men who had hoped to lead such an important mission.
"Yes, let them be upset. My sister's true talent's have been recognized over them " she tried to hide her smile, but the edge of lip curled into a smile.
"Enough whimpering!" Brig shouted and the mummers fell silent like dogs yelled out by their masters.
"The rest of us shall focus on defeating the ground troops and capturing as many combatants and civilians as we can. The bomb-eagle's shall take control of the air and rain down fire on large clusters of the defensive forces. I must remind you all that this is no simple combat mission, this is a high scale, high risk operation that will end in our deaths if we fail and a full blown assault upon our homeland. We can fight a war on many fronts forever, this is a chance for use to save the Lunar kingdom, to save our home" Lug finished his words before sitting down.
"Go and prepare yourselves. We have one hour before we make contact" Brig ended their meeting and both twins rose up in terrifying union before leaving the room.
Leo got up and picked up her helmet before she placed it once more upon her head and left the room. Juno ran after with a bubble of excitement close to bursting.
She found Leo alone walking to cabin with a strangely sagged and unhappy expression.
"Sister, sister" she called and Leo stopped turning to face her " Why do you seem unpleased, you have been gifted the vineguard, this must be a time of celebration ".
Leo looked at her wordlessly for a few minutes before leaving her with the words " Beware poison chalices sister, they may seem pleasant to drink, but they are not".
She shared a bunk with another Fae called Meria. The girl wasn't present when Juno walked and was kind of glad for that. The girl was bit too much of a chatterbox and she wasn't interested in listening to the girl yammer on endlessly.
She had come for the last weapons that she had left. The first was a wrist band made from dragon bone, forged even before the lady Nimue came and brought the greater magics, it belonged to the her old family when they had served the great dragon in the ancient keep of Mor-Armag.
"Father, mother, i will make you proud. I swear it upon the dragon bone" said a small oath as she clamped it onto her wrist and she felt her mind being linked to the other place where her bone spikes were found.
The second weapon was one attained from her time in Zodiac. It was a long silver spear with wave like designs upon it's shaft and two carved mermaid figurines upon which the spearhead rested.
As her fingers tangled around the spear and she could feel a warm tingle of electric energy that shook her spine . Others had lost these weapons after the Avalonians and the people of the Nexus had beaten into submission.
" Lanc..." A male voice whispered in her ear and once upon a time she would have jumped in fear and asked who was speaking.
But she was used to it now. The voice was from the spear, after all it was once a living being and it might still be.
"Mot... " the voice forced itself into her head and with it came a sharp pain through her brain that made her knees almost buckle.
"Be silent, you will not break me !" She tried to use the voice that lady Nimue used when she was commanding unruly fools. The voice went silent and the hot pain within her skull subsided.
Juno was walking out of the bunk when she heard the first shots from the ships fired. The sound from the Silver Sails canons was like a volcanic explosion that sent her ears ringing and shook the mighty with each consecutive shot.
She had to take shaky legs as she walked forward from every shot that shook the ship. Around her thousands of Silver Sailors were running up and down, north and south, west and east like a well oiled machine to keep the machine running without any possible error.
She finally managed to reach the main dock were more than a hundred thousands warrior's decked in full armor and riding everything from Pegasus to war machines. Her sister was at the head upon a black stallion with bright red eyes.
"Var-Freya, am i to join the wild hunt" she said bowing to her sister.
"Am afraid not Lar-Freya. The Admiral's ordered that this mission be left to Tar and above rank individuals" her sister answered her and she was thankful that her face was facing downwards so that no one could see the angry frown upon her face.
"Of course Var-Freya, forgive my presumptions" she said quietly.
"Lar-Freya, you have forgotten your true standing, after all you were no more than a maid to our lady" Scorpio smugly said and Juno felt her eyes go wide as she thought about his words.
" Our lady?, you fool " she didn't need to look at the other Silver Sailors to know that they were quite upset by what he said.
A loud sound of flesh being struck caused her to raise her head and see Scorpio clutching onto his mouth from which a trail of blood was flowing. Leo rode upon the horse with a crimson stained gantlet.
"Be careful what traitorous names you speak before us. Join the spread out forces Lar-Freya and be careful" Leo said said before trotting off and leaving Scorpio to spit out blood, saliva and broken teeth.
Juno smiled as she felt a sense of satisfaction at the sight of Scorpio's red mouth to match his red armor.
"Hey, Lar-Freya" Aries called to her and he presented her a war machine to ride.
"Thank you Tar-Hillsmith" she thanked him as she got upon the machine.
"Think nothing of it. But you better be careful kid" he pulled her into a strong bone crushing hug before he trotted of on his mount to the vineguard.
A loud horn blared out and they readied themselves for invasion. The main front of the ship opened and with a loud cheer the rode forth into ruble, ash, fire and steel.
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I am a 21 year old law school student at the National Institute of Public Administration. My dream is to one day publish my story phantom ddriag and hopefully get a show made from it.
I also have a youtube account that hundels web fiction content, here is the link https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCFz-mHywXBJnLF8uyofcLAw/videos