KINGDOM OF EDEN
King Edward X and his wife, Queen Anne, were discussing the meeting while watching their babies on the play mat. They had twins – a boy and a girl – who were practically identical except that the girl had green eyes and the boy had blue eyes. Edward was the result of the marriage between Queen Catherine of Eden and the Russian Tsar’s son Alexei IV at the time of her ascension to the Eden throne. Soon after he was born, Alexei and Catherine divorced and Queen Catherine married Prince George of Denmark. In honour of his late father, Edward named his son Alexei Edward George and his daughter Princess Anastasia – in honour of his paternal grandmother who was the daughter of Nicholas II.
“To be honest, I was very concerned that he would kill me there and then when I refused,” Edward said to Anne. “Oh, look! Alexei and Anastasia are trying to wrestle. How cute!”
Chuckling, Anne stroked her babies. “Looks like they take after their father,” she praised. Edward loved to box and wrestle. “And, of course, I am so glad they did not kill you.”
“I suppose once they establish the League of Nations they will cut off all shipments and trade with Eden because we are not going alone with their scheme,” Edward speculated.
“We’ve been through hard times before. We’ll get by. We always have,” Anne comforted her husband of eighteen months.
Three men went up to the palace gates. Two guards stood there guarding the gates. One of the visitors shuddered at the sight of the guns and cutlasses the guards were wearing. They walked boldly up to the gates, but, like they suspected, they were blocked by the guards. “Passes,” one of the guards barked.
The three of them handed over their palace passes. The second guard shone a torch on the passes, then on each of the three men’s faces and then on the passes again and saw that they were signed by General Truman and the chief of police. “Arthur Yeatman, Professor Logan Ludwig and Dr Parkes, what is the purpose of your visit?” the guard questioned.
The tallest one, Dr Parkes, spoke up. “We are here to discuss with his Majesty plans for a new military invention that will give King Edward X a great advantage in a war.”
“Let them pass.”
The guards stood to attention and the three men turned around. A man in his sixties with grey hair and dressed in a general’s uniform. General Truman. The guards saluted and opened the gates. General Truman nodded at the three and the three men strode through the gates and over to the palace. This should be good, General Truman thought to himself. Once they entered the palace, they stopped a maid and asked her to inform the king that three business men would like an audience with him as it was of the highest importance.
“Your Majesty,”the maid did obeisance as she spoke. “Forgive my interruption, but it is important.”
“Yes, Hannah?” Edward answered.
“Three business men, by the names of Professor Ludwig, Dr Parkes, and a Mr Yeatman, wish an audience with you,” Hannah said. “They said that they beg your forgiveness for coming at this late hour, but that is was of the highest importance and could not wait.”
“Very well. I’ll go see them. Thank you, Hannah.” And Edward departed.
“Hannah, come and take Anastasia while I take Alexei and we’ll go put them to bed,” Anne said.
So Hannah and Anne took their babies to go to their bed.
Edward seated himself on his throne and Yeatman, Ludwig and Parkes bowed in obeisance. “Your humble Majesty,” Ludwig said.
“Now, what important business brings you to my palace at such an ungodly hour?” Edward began.
The three men all looked at each other and suddenly their faces flickered like static on a television and revealed the faces of Haman, Dov, and Mark. A holographic disguise, Edward realised. Haman pulled out a knife and lunged at the king. One of the guards by the throne pulled out a gun with a silencer on it and shot Haman in the chest with rapid fire, dropping him. A couple of the other guards tackled Dov and Mark, trying to overpower them. But Dov and Mark knocked them off and shot them in the heart and then took their weapons. They could hear the sound of other guards rushing to the throne room and shot the guard who shot Haman, killing the guard. But before they could do anything about Edward, Haman, who was not quite dead yet, raised his arm and threw his knife at Edward. But the effort killed him, too.
Anne and Hannah had just put the babies down and Hannah had just been dismissed, when there was a loud BOOM!!! and the whole palace shook. Hannah and Anne both instinctively crouched until the shaking stopped. Anne regained her footing, opened the bedroom door which they had closed and grabbed a soldier who was running past. She noticed other guards running about. “What’s going on?” she demanded.
“Your Highness, there’s been an explosion! I’m sorry, but we need to go,” the soldier answered and yanked himself free and waited for the women to leave with him. Anne turned to take hold of the twins, and discovered that Hannah was already holding them, who were awake and crying. Hannah handed Alexei to Anne while she held Anastasia. The soldier led them through a throng of escaping soldiers and palace servants. There was another explosion and everyone fell down. The soldier broke Anne and Alexei’s fall and Hannah’s was broken by another soldier nearby. Alexei was really crying by now.
Anne tried to comfort him. “It’s okay, Alexei. Shh, shh,” Anne comforted. “Where was that explosion from?” she asked the soldier. Because if she knew the palace layout like the back of her hand, which she did, there was only one place where the explosion came from, and she did not want to believe it.
“The Throne Room,” the soldier answered, not meeting the Queen consort’s eyes.
There was another explosion and it took a few seconds for the dust to clear. When it did, Anne realised the guard was moving her along. But what about her husband? Shouldn’t the guards being seeing to him as well? Edward had gone to the throne room and was probably still in there when the bombs went off. Anne halted the soldier and pressed him on the whereabouts of her husband. He told her in as few words as possible so they could continue their exit sooner, that he had heard commotion in the Throne Room after King Edward had gone in to talk to the late visitors and was on the way to the Throne Room when the first explosion happened and was ordered to go and protect the Queen consort and the Prince and Princess. Once she heard that, she knew she had to go back and save him as none of the soldiers or palace servants knew where he was. She had promised him when they were married that she would always be there for him. Anne could not go back on that promise. The guard had begun leading them to the gates, so Anne broke herself free from his grasp and, shoving Alexei into the surprised guard’s arms, she ran back up the stairs to save Edward.
Once inside, she made her way to the Throne Room. She climbed to the top of some rubble and slipped and tumbled down. As soon as she landed, she opened her eyes and found herself face to face with a bomb. A ticking bomb. With ten minutes and forty-three seconds left. Anne realised that Edward was in all likely hood, dead. No way he could survive any of the explosions and falling debris. Anne just lay there. Alright. It seemed perfectly normal, even right, in her upset and confused mind, to lie there and wait for the bomb to go off. Why not? Then Anne thought of her children – Alexei and Anastasia. They were fatherless now and needed her more than ever. Anne stood up and climbed over the rubble to escape. The soldier, still holding Alexei suddenly appeared and grabbed her, handing her Alexei and rushing her to the gates. “Come on, Your Highness. We’ve gotta’ move fast,” he urged and they ran through the palace, down the front steps and through the gate. Seven minutes. People who lived around and near to the palace were swarming the streets, running to the city gates. The soldiers must have warned them, Anne assumed. Five minutes.
They reached the outskirts of town and the soldiers were herding the people out. One and a half minutes. Anne passed through the gates and continued running with the other people. Fifty-five seconds. They ran faster and faster. Forty-seven seconds. They reached the forest five kilometres away from the city and paused for a breather. Thirty seconds. Twenty-nine seconds. Twenty-eight. Anne sat down and began to feed Alexei who was bawling his head off and needed a drink. The soldier with them assured them they were far enough away not to be affected by the last explosion. Nineteen seconds. Eighteen. Seventeen. Sixteen. Fifteen. Fourteen.
“I don’t know. She disappeared immediately after you ran back into the palace,” the soldier replied. Nine seconds.
“Hannah! Hannah! Anastasia!” Anne called out. Six seconds. Five.
Four. Three. Two. One. Zero.
BOOM!!!! The final bomb exploded, destroying the palace.
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