Chapter 25 – Fallen Castle

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Yates growled as his expression contorted into full blown rage. A hand flew out towards the Minister, ready to strike with a blast of energy no one knew he was capable off. Link leapt into the path of the blast, shoving Roslin aside. It hit him in the chest and arched across his entire body. He screamed in agony as he fell to his knees. Had he not been wearing armor, he likely would have been killed.

“That’s quite enough out of you.” the Regent said with so much disdain it was palpable.

Guards immediately surrounded him but they were thrown back by an invisible force beckoned forth by a wave of his hand. His voice was different. The register remained as it was but there was a markedly stronger presence of malice.

“How in the hell-” Roslin muttered to herself as she watched her people be cast aside so casually.

“Yes, I betrayed you,” Yates said with a sneer, “But then I never really was on your side, was I? Come now my dear Roslin, surely you could have guessed that. The only woman in the whole of Hyrule to even begin to approach the cunning of the oh-so-wise… Zelda.”

As he said the Potentate’s name, his voice absolutely dripped with sarcasm and malice, as if just saying it made him ill. The Minister righted herself but remained where she was on the floor. Link struggled to weakly position himself between her and Yates. The Regent held out his hand, keeping a second blast of energy at bay, waiting for an excuse to use it, one that Roslin was debating giving him.

“The thought had crossed my mind,” the Minister said, “I guess I just wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. Now give it up. Even if you kill everyone in this room, there are fifty thousand troops stationed in this palace. You can’t possibly get past all of them, and I doubt you’d order your ships to open fire again, not when you’re still here. Your kind does have that rather nasty, cowardly gene doesn’t it?”

She sneered back at him, goading him, wanting to see what he might do next. As she did so, she covertly slipped a hand to the simple band around her left wrist, squeezing one of the raised designs it possessed. The signal it sent went unnoticed. Yates growled furiously, firing his pent up blast at the table she had commanded from for so long.

“You people and your technology, your science! You are all so very arrogant! You think because you can command a few trinkets you are that much closer to the goddesses! They created this world for us so that we might honor them! And what do you do? You desecrate the land and yourselves with your filthy, grubby hands! Always crying for more money, more power, more possessions! You are unworthy of this most precious gift!” Yates roared as he unleashed his tirade.

“Oh so that’s what’s got your blood pressure so high. You just think everyone in this age is nothing but scum. Classy. Just gonna wipe us all out and start fresh huh?” Roslin asked, then snorted derisively, “You’re just another run of the mill eco-terrorist who’s too far up his own ass.”

“No!” Yates bellowed as he swung an arm wide, dragging all the blast doors down through a frightening show of magical prowess, sealing the exits so he could proceed with his tormenting uninterrupted, “There are some among you who understand the pain that is required, the suffering we must all endure to become worthy of the gift the goddesses have bestowed upon us. So few do an honest day’s labor anymore. So many of you simply drift, merely exist and nothing more… celebrities, actors, musicians, the well-to-do who can get by simply by knowing people… influencers… the decadence is utterly sickening!”

Roslin managed to sit up and lean against the remnants of her holo-projection table, still playing the game. So far, her gambit was going the way she wanted it to.

“Yeah, nice and hypocritical coming from a noble. Look, if you’ve got a problem with reality TV and vlogger personalities, take it up with the producers and platforms. Don’t go destroying a whole kingdom just because your favorite show got bumped by ‘Look Who’s In Rehab’. Learn to let go.” she said sarcastically, wanting to absolutely dig into him and push his buttons.

Mention of his double standard made Yates bristle with rage. It was a visible reaction, but it faded just as quickly as it appeared. It would return with just a little more poking and prodding. He composed himself well while his hatred poured out of the cracks forming in his facade.

“You think I enjoy this? You believe I relish being that which I despise!? I grew up a street urchin in the back alleys of Gerudo! I had nothing! I fought to survive every day! It wasn’t until those of the true faith found me and took me in that I knew even the first shred of comfort!” Yates shouted then turned away, looking back at what remained of the control staff, those who had not fled immediately following his initial blast, “They taught me that my suffering had meaning, that I had a purpose!”

“Why is it that every single person who has a bad time thinks their damage makes them special? Everyone is dealing with their own crap, Yates. So you had a rough childhood. You look like you’re doing pretty good now. Get yourself a therapist and work it out there, not in my control center!” Roslin shouted back, just waiting for the soldiers she had summoned to cut through the blast doors and take care of the Regent.

Yates spun around to face the woman and snarled at her once again.

“A therapist! Hah! As if any mere mortal could possibly comprehend what is in store for me! I mean truly comprehend! Those of the true faith know! They showed me my purpose!” he lifted his hand, clenched into a tight fist as a very peculiar shape began to shine weakly through his glove, “That I bore the mark of destiny!”

Roslin and Link both froze at the sight. They quite suddenly realized this fight was about to get a great deal harder. The same mark Link bore on his left hand shined out from Yates’. That altered the entire playing field immediately and powerfully.

“How the hell is that possible?” the Minister muttered as she frowned angrily–she knew the legends better than most, “He was killed! Sealed away! How can you have that mark!? The Triforce of Power was shattered!”

She gave Link a nudge, motioning covertly to his left arm.

“Yes! Shattered! But not destroyed!” Yates replied as his scowl broke into a maniacal smile, “You cannot destroy a creation of the goddesses unless you are one of them! I am part of a long line, one of three! Your Lieutenant is the latest failure in a long line of so-called heroes trying desperately to live up to the myth of his family history! Your… ‘princess’ is the third in this wretched play! I have been preparing for my master’s return for decades! When he is freed, I will be but a vessel for his glorious might! He will wash over this land like a cleansing wave of blood and pain! Only those who prove themselves worthy and loyal will survive! We will reclaim Hyrule for those who deserve it!”

Link rose to his feet, drawing his sword as Roslin suggested, standing between her and the insane Regent.

“You’ll have to get through me first.” he said through gritted teeth.

An amused grin split its way across Yates’ lips, turning quickly to a mad cackle. It was as if he had been told the most absurd joke.

“You honestly believe you can stand against me!? I have been trained in the old ways of dark magic!” Yates shouted.

He conjured another sphere of light and hurled it forward, not daring to give the impudent Lieutenant another moment to think. Link’s eyes widened as he saw the blast coming. He instinctually leapt aside, knowing it was too high to hit Roslin taking cover behind the holo-projector table. It raced forward and struck one of the consoles across the center of the room. An explosion of sparks and smoke erupted from the monstrous crater it left in the computer.

“Look at you! Hopping about like a frightened rabbit! You can’t even muster the nerve to stand and take what is coming!” Yates bellowed before he howled with laughter and prepared another charge.

Roslin was dragged away that hopefully would provide greater cover as Link drew the Regent’s attention, but not before she could call out to the young man, reminding of him of the blade he held.

“Remember what Shad said! I think this bastard definitely qualifies as evil!” she shouted.

Link paused and looked to his sword, then back to Yates. He had to trust it. He tightened his fingers around the grip and grit his teeth. The mark on his hand pulsed away powerfully–not painfully this time but seeming to energize him. Yates loosed his next volley, intent on hitting the man he considered but a flea. Instead of leaping away again, Link cried out at the top of his lungs and swung his sword with all his might.

The blade connected with the sphere of energy, sending a bone-rattling shock wave down its length and into his hand and arm. It felt like chopping a tree. The orb found itself returning along its path towards the man who had thrown it, and with blazing speed. Yates’ expression turned quickly to shock as it struck him in the chest. The nobly-dressed man was thrown back, sent crashing into the console behind him with a loud thud. He cried out in pain and fell to his hands and knees, convulsing as if shot with a taser. He had underestimated the Lieutenant.

The Regent–smoke rising off of him as he recovered–gradually climbed back to his feet. He was no longer amused or interested in carrying this on.

“I think I’ve monologued long enough. It’s time to do what I came here to do,” he said as he composed himself once more, “Link! I believe you have something that belongs to me!”

Yates reached out with an empty hand towards the Lieutenant. The young man found himself frozen, paralyzed by an unpleasant ache over his entire form. His arms and legs refused to obey their commands as he complained loudly. The ground fell away slowly as Yates hoisted him off the floor from across the room. His crazed smile had returned. The plating along Link’s chest began to buckle and creak. Entire segments crumpled and pealed back, exposing the young man’s thinly clothed form underneath. A brilliant shining light appeared in the void where his suit had been. The vessel housing the shard rattled and twisted about, desperate to escape. Link screamed in agony as he reached for the container, trying to protect it. There was an unearthly heat that had consumed the canister and it seared his hands through his gloves.

“Link! Let it go!” Roslin screamed.

“No! I can’t let him have it!” he shouted back.

“That’s an order! He’s killing you!” Roslin roared.

Link fought on, ignoring the Minister’s command. His hands screeched silently in the most intense pain as his chest began to radiate with the same horrid sensation.

“Give me what is mine, boy!” Yates commanded, his voice booming through the wrecked command center.

He closed his fingers as if he were holding the canister already and yanked his arm back. The container split open as the golden shard it housed shot free like a bullet. Link felt as if his heart had been torn out. He shrieked in pain and fell limp to the ground, panting heavily. The agony vanished and curiously enough, he was physically unharmed. Roslin rushed to his side and with Impa’s help, they dragged him away to safety. Yates held the tiny bauble in his hand, his eyes wild with excitement.

“The hell were you thinking!?” Roslin hissed, “When I give you an order, you follow it!”

“I couldn’t… let him… take the shard.” Link panted out weakly.

“Screw the shard! We’ve already lost this battle! I need you alive when we fight the next one!” she shot back.

Meanwhile, Yates was transfixed on the glittering, glowing chunk of golden metal that was finally, after so long in his grasp.

“At last! At long last! I can begin! Thank you so much Minister for going to the trouble of gathering so many shards for me!” he cried as he held out his hand, letting the golden sliver float before him, “Without your help, it would have taken me until I was an old man! And that wouldn’t be a vessel fit for a king!”

He cackled again, throwing his head back as he brought both hands to surround the shard. Its glow intensified powerfully, blinding all who tried to view it. The sound of an unearthly ripping and wail filled the room as a dark, gaping hole formed in the air. Light poured in through it from some distant source.

Roslin watched in horror as Yates reached through the rift he had just created–straight to the heart of the containment field holding the rest of the shards. With such casual effort, he picked them out one by one, never even so much as actually touching them. Instead they hovered between his fingers as if he were instead interacting with some invisible field surrounding each one.

“Things just went from bad to worse,” Roslin said as she tapped the device resting against her ear, sending out a signal to anyone who could hear her, “This is Minister Roslin, I’m declaring a national emergency! Initiate palace-wide evacuation! The sages have fallen! Repeat, the sages have fallen!”

She looked to Impa and gave her a soft nod. The Sheikah warrior nodded back and turned to Saito and Bruno.

“You two! Make us an exit! Now!” Impa shouted.

“Already on top of it ma’am!” Saito replied as she ducked down behind a console just as Bruno raced back to her side, “Fire in the hole!”

He had placed something on the edge of one of the blast shields. A powerful explosion, tightly focused, ripped through the side of the blast door. It had been blown off its track. The two soldiers immediately rushed forward and began prying it open. It wouldn’t budge very far, but it made just enough of a hole to squeeze through.

“Door’s open! Let’s get out of here!” Saito shouted.

Impa and Roslin dragged Link to his feet and the three rushed for the hole. Yates cackled away as he watched the shards swirl about in front of him, slowly assembling into the third piece of the Triforce.

“Where are you off to now, Minister!? You usually have such a hands-on approach to your command!” he shouted gleefully, giddy from the rush of power seeping into him.

Not one to miss the chance to have the last word, Roslin tossed one last quip back at the traitor.

“Guess you could say I’m off to make myself worthy! Have fun being a puppet!” she shouted, then darted out the hole with Impa just behind.

Yates cackled away further, feeling the relic before him resonate and fill him with unbelievable power, “I’m afraid you’ll never be worthy! And besides, you should know quite well… there are fifty thousand troops stationed in this palace! You can’t possibly get past all of them!”

He howled with laughter again as an intense wave radiated out from him, filling the room and stretching beyond to consume the entire castle. Most caught in its path fell to the ground, writhing in agony as they screamed and convulsed, hands holding their heads as they fought for sanity.

Roslin and her group were lucky enough to remain unaffected. As they raced along, those who had fallen began to get back up, turning on them as they raced by. It was almost exactly like the Zora. They were vicious, animalistic, and out for blood. They had not physically changed, but something about them still looked visibly wrong. Saito and Bruno offered the group a path forward, barreling through anyone who got in their way, trying their best to not do too much harm. They were still Hylian soldiers after all, even if they weren’t in their right minds.

Roslin stayed centered in the group, dragging Link along as he gawked at the turn the other troops had taken. It was affecting him rather badly. The mission to the undersea platform was still far too fresh in his mind. This just brought it all flooding back. The Minister could see that in him but didn’t try to snap him out of it yet. There would be time for that in just a moment.

“Head for the hanger! We need to get a ship and get out of here!” She tapped the radio on her ear again, “What’s the status of Hylia 1!?”

“This is Hylia 1, we’re waiting for takeoff. We’re primed and ready but we’re having trouble with the doors.” reported the pilot of the craft in question.

“Seal the ship and blast the hanger doors open! Get that shuttle off the ground! Now!” the Minister roared over her radio.

“Yes ma’am. Sealing the royal shuttle now. Launching in ten seconds. Weapons hot, defense screens to full.” the pilot replied.

Roslin’s radio went quiet after that, suggesting that the royal shuttle was indeed on its way to getting clear. The group managed their way to a lift and panted fiercely as they waited to arrive at the hanger, protected by the closed doors. Now that they had a moment to rest, the Minister went about checking her team.

“Is everyone okay?” she asked.

“I’m good,” Saito said, “Whatever the hell that was, it hit fast.”

Bruno nodded as well, “Fine here.”

“I am unaffected.” Impa said.

Link remained quiet, staring at the doors guarding them as the lifted moved.

“Lieutenant, sound off.” Roslin said.

“I… I’m okay.” Link said, shaken from his dark thoughts.

“No you’re not. I can see it on your face,” Roslin replied, “You’re reliving what happened in the temple and at the platform. It’s eating at you. I need you to put it aside and deal with it later. Once we’re clear, then you can process it. You don’t have time to dwell on it right now because it’ll get you killed.”

The young man nodded softly, though it looked like he was still having a difficult time doing as she said. He was going to put forth the effort though. With her team sorted, the woman hardened her expression as she turned back to face the doors and tapped her radio, making another facility-wide announcement.

“This is Minister Roslin to all unaffected staff. Get clear of the palace. The cult is turning our own people against us. Head for the nearest safe military facility,” she said then tapped her radio again, this time focusing her communications to a specific target, “Hanger three, do you copy?”

For a heart-stopping moment, she heard only silence. Then there came a frantic voice.

“This is hanger three! We’re clearing out now!” the controller reported.

“I need a shuttle prepped! Get it started now and have the platform automate it! We’re coming down!” Roslin ordered.

“Copy that, Minister! Command’s entered, your shuttle will be ready in two minutes!” the controller replied, “Do you have a pilot?”

Bruno nodded, joining in on the conversation, “The Minister has a flight crew with her. Just have the shuttle engaged and get the hell out.”

“Don’t gotta tell me twice! May the goddesses be with you, Minister!” the controller said.

“May the goddesses be with us all, hanger three.” Roslin replied, switched off her radio, and took a deep breath to compose herself.

The mood in the lift was rather dower, but such a state of mind could not be afforded at the moment. The Minister needed them all on their game, alert, sharp, and decisive. That meant she had to lead by example.

Roslin moved a hand to her hip, pulling her sidearm from its holster, “From here on out, anyone who attacks us is considered a hostile and should be dealt with as such. Lethal force is authorized. We have to get Link out.”

The Lieutenant blinked, drawing his own weapon as he moved to position himself so that she was in the center of the group.

“With all due respect ma’am, you’re the one we need to protect.” he said.

“And you’re the only one who can kill whatever Yates becomes. If you die, we’re all screwed,” Roslin shot back, “I appreciate the loyalty, soldier. You have your orders. You are the priority.”

Link hated it. Much as he wanted to argue the point, he knew she was right. He was ‘the hero’. He couldn’t die here, not when he was expected to lead the kingdom to victory over evil, or whatever. He grumbled quietly and allowed himself to be positioned in the center again despite his instincts screaming at him to force the Minister to take his place.

The doors opened and instantly they were greeted by a horde of raging ground crew. The entire team opened fire, mowing down anyone who had turned. It was gruesome, to say nothing of how it would harm their morale after they were out and realized who all they had shot. A path was cleared and the group rushed out onto the flight deck. The alarm continued to sound and the screams of more turned crew signaled they had been detected. It wasn’t exactly a subtle escape.

The shuttle, as promised, was on its way to a complete checklist. It spun slowly on the turntable it sat atop, aiming towards the exit. The team charged forward and leapt in, kicking and firing at any who tried to stop them. As the engines whined with Bruno and Saito at the helm, readying to launch, a shriek of fury filled the cabin as one of the grounds crew threw itself at Roslin. It pinned her against the floor of the ship. It hissed and clawed away, the Minister’s arms outstretched to keep it off of her. Link and Impa moved to her aid but were sidetracked by their own attackers.

A single, exceptionally loud round split the noise and chaos. The technician atop the Minister fell limp and was rolled aside. Roslin sat up as Impa and Link shoved their attackers back out onto the floor, their skulls landing with an audible crack. A handgun was held outstretched, pointed at the Minister, held by an arm attached to a man with an eye patch. His uniform was half missing and he had bandages covering most of the arm holding the weapon. Another man stood next to him, one arm in a sling, the other holding a rifle, keeping the rest of the horde at bay with suppression fire.

The eyepatched man lowered his gun, then saluted, though with a wince of pain, “Commander Euless and First Lieutenant Herne reporting for duty, Minister. Permission to come aboard.”

The shock passed quickly and Roslin opened fire, taking down one of the transformed grounds crew that had slipped past Herne’s defense.

“Permission granted! Get your asses in here!” she ordered.

Euless and Herne piled in with the rest of the group and they strapped in, still providing cover fire out of the sides of the shuttle.

“We’re all in! Get us the hell out of here, Saito!” Euless shouted.

“On our way!” she replied.

The engines whined loudly and the whole craft lurched forward. The grounds crew shrieked with rage as the shuttle rushed out. The light of day shined down on them as Saito powered them forward. The shield had fallen, giving them a clear exit.

A firestorm greeted them once they were far enough away from the mountain. The shuttle’s defense screens held though the vessel was tossed about while Saito swerved to avoid taking damage. She didn’t need to be told to take evasive action.

“Wingloft 1 is away. Requesting status of Hylia 1.” she said over the radio.

“Hylia 1 to Wingloft 1! We have hostiles in pursuit! Escort is overwhelmed! Preparing to attempt emergency jump!” the pilot replied.

Roslin frowned and turned to peer out the side of the ship at the royal shuttle weaving and banking to make itself a more difficult target.

“Break starboard twenty-five degrees! We’ll rendezvous and provide cover fire!” the Minister shouted and gave Saito a shove through the pilot’s seat, her version of ordering her to bank in towards the other shuttle.

“Negative, Wingloft 1! I have strict orders to send all friendly craft away!” the pilot cried.

“On whose authority!?” Roslin roared.

“Mine.”

An image appeared on the screen between the pilot and co-pilot. It was the Potentate.

“You have to run, Roslin. You have Link with you.” Zelda said.

“That’s a negative! We are moving to assist now!” Roslin replied.

“Don’t worry about me, Terentia. I’ll be fine. You have to go. Our people need you.” Zelda said gently.

Her voice was calm and measured. The image flickered and the sounds of weapons fire threatened to drown her out.

“I am not leaving you behind! You order that pilot to break right, now!” Roslin shouted.

“I can’t do that, Terentia. You know I can’t. You know what you have to do. I know this is what I have to do. Take your people and run.” the Potentate said.

Tears began to stream down Roslin’s cheeks, her fury coming through in spite of the chokes.

“Don’t you dare talk like that! We can cover for you! You order that pilot to break right!” she screamed.

Zelda simply smiled. She was at peace.

“This is what I was meant to do. It’s why the goddesses put me here. Please don’t sully its meaning,” she said then paused, turning her gaze as if looking at the pilot through the monitor, “Saito, take the Minister and engage your emergency jump system. That is an order.”

The Major jostled about in her seat as she flew, speechless from what she was being ordered to do. All she could muster was a simple two words.

“…Yes ma’am.” Saito said.

She turned her gaze back to the horizon and powered the ship forward, pushing down towards the tree line. They would hold just above the deck until they were clear.

“No! You turn us around, Major! You turn us around now!” Roslin screamed as she became frantic, swinging her arms wildly as if to harm someone.

Euless quickly restrained her as they watched Zelda in the screen.

“It will be okay, Terentia.” the potentate said.

“Jump drive is powered! Engaging in five seconds!” the royal shuttle’s pilot reported.

Roslin calmed somewhat hearing that Zelda was nearly in the clear. Only few more moments and she would be safe.

“Maximize power to your rear defenses!” the Minister ordered through the radio, “Don’t let anything through!”

“Five!” the pilot shouted.

“I promise it will all be okay.” Zelda spoke gently, hoping to sooth Roslin.

“Four!” the pilot shouted.

“This isn’t what I wanted!” Roslin cried, unable to settle until the shuttle was clear.

“Three!” the pilot shouted.

“Our destiny rarely is. Hyrule is yours now. Protect it as you always have.” Zelda said.

“Two!” the pilot shouted.

“Get her out of there! Now!” Roslin shrieked at the top of her lungs.

A deep rumbling sounded and the screen flickered then fell to static as the channel went dead. Several eyes turned back to where they had seen the Potentate’s shuttle racing away. Instead of the brilliant streak of light that remained after a jump, the craft tumbled off course. One of its engines had been hit and was flaming out. It fell towards the ground as weapons fire rained down on it. Before it could even reach the trees, it exploded in flame and smoke.

Every heart aboard the shuttle sank. Roslin screamed with insane grief, threatening to shred her voice completely. It was all Euless and Link could do to keep her from throwing herself out of the side of the shuttle after the wreckage.

The doors slid shut and the countdown passed. The sudden, deep pop of the jump drive engaging silenced everything as the shuttle streaked away in a flash.

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