Harry & Ginny
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Marquis Black - The Dark Wars: Empire's Rebirth
Chapter 6 - Chapter VI: Battle of Norfolk
AN: Alrighty, folks, here's the next chapter. That being said, following are some notes.
Harry: I know many of you disliked what I did with Harry's post-Fall actions. Yes, he was decadent, and yes, he was becoming very self-absorbed; he was, however, being human. How many of us would have held out as long as he did before finally delving headlong into indulgence? How many of us can claim to have the sort of willpower to resist that temptation for an infinite amount of time? By allowing Harry to slide, then, I made him fallible-which would show you, dear audience, that the image of the perfect, fighting, selfless, Pro-Empire Iron Duke that the rest of his world seem to see is only a ploy created by the real man.
Harry-Ginny Romance: Please remember that this is not strictly a romance story, but rather one of war, the horrors that come with it, and socio-political change. If that's not your cup of tea, then I'm sorry. The romance between Harry and Ginny, while very relevant to the plot, is still, nonetheless, a minor part. That being said, I can confirm that this relationship will not be falling apart. It will have its rough patches, but I can guarantee that the two will remain together, and in love, to the end of my story (and from the vignette that I wrote some time ago from the POV of their descendants, you should all realize that they died happy and in love, too).
Prequel: I know I promised one, but I can say this-I will not be working on it until I finish the current story. While the 1991-1997 story is well defined in my mind, I cannot afford to divert my attention from the current storyline, under pain of probably losing track of my desired plot.
Publicity: I'd like to take this moment to say that I'm very thankful for all the positive reviews (and feedback) being provided, and that nothing makes me work twice as hard as a happy audience. That being said, I've noted a startling decrease in viewers and reviewers among my stats. Now, I'm not one for holding chapters hostage (and I hope I haven't given you that idea), but it would be nice to see more readers reviewing, if only to tell me perhaps what they liked about the story, or (politely said) what they would wish to see different. Remember, I'm not a professional, and feedback is always good. I ask you, then, to spread the word about this fic, so that I may get what I desire.
Special Note: I'm currently in the midst of writing a paper for one of my history classes which has me in a bit of a quandary, as far as testimonies go. That being said, I would like to know whether any of my readers from Canada, Australia, and Britain would be willing to participate in a small (exceedingly so) survey that would help me get this done. If interested, please contact me via e-mail. All I'd need is your full name. Not even your address. If you're not comfortable with that, it's also fine to submit it anonymously (though names would give your testimony more credence). No money will go towards this report, or for your participation. This is strictly voluntary and would not affect this story in any way.
If you also desire to know more about the report before submitting any information to me (which I wholeheartedly recommend you do, for safety's sake) please feel free to ask me via e-mail. Contact info is in my profile.
One Day Later…
It had taken a full day to gather every ship Harry wanted. Still, despite the delay, Harry watched with pride from atop the observation deck on the HMIS Retaliation as his ships covered the waters all around him. He'd even seen three different Resolution-Class ships on the water, mounting a single, huge cannon on their decks.
"Your Grace, the fleet is now fully assembled," Admiral Hawke told him. Harry nodded.
"Divide the fleet in two. I shall take command of one, and you the other," he told the Admiral, who nodded. "Take two of the new ships—say…theEmpire's Grasp and the Scourge, and attack the city of Annapolis. I'll be taking the Resolution and my half to attack Norfolk."
"Aren't these two locations heavily defended, though, Your Grace?" asked the admiral worriedly.
Harry nodded. "Which is why they'll never see this attack coming. They'll expect us to hit the less defended areas, but never their centre," he explained. "So it's likely that the area is heavily garrisoned, yes, but with inexperienced troops. The better troops must be guarding the less defended areas."
Slowly, Hawke began to nod. "That makes sense, Your Grace."
Harry nodded. "Good, then get your half together and wait for my mark before you force your way into the combat zone."
"How will I know what the signal is, Your Grace?" asked the admiral.
Harry smirked evilly. "Oh, you'll know."
Harry watched as the admiral left, before turning back to the railing and leaning over to look at the looming mainland on the horizon ahead. This was it. This was the moment when he paid his beloved Empire back for all the slights he'd committed in its name.
Pressing the intercom button on the panel in front of him, Harry prepared to deliver his pre-battle speech.
All throughout the ship, sailors and soldiers alike halted their actions as their commander's voice rung out throughout the intercom.
In the mess hall, men and women of every rank stopped eating and looked towards the speakers.
In the Engine room, the engineers stopped looking at their panels as they heard their leader's voice.
On the command deck, Commodore Wolf smiled to himself as he prepared to be bowled over by yet another rousing speech from his younger leader. He nodded to another the inter-ship communication officer, who promptly patched the speech through to the other ships.
"Today marks a new day for us. A day of war and death. Of conflict, and victory!"
Agreeable mumbles broke out throughout the ship.
"But also, of repentance"
That stopped most cold. Confusion now lit up the crew's faces.
"Gentlemen, for five years, I've led our faction to war against the enemy who robbed us of our homes, of our dearly beloved, of our Crown."
"For five years, I've led you all, battle after battle, in the name of preserving an Empire that did not exist."
Outrage broke out throughout the crew, as well as denial. All were assuring their leader that he'd not done any such thing.
"My friends, I know you are clamouring in denial, but hear me out."
Eventually, the noise did die down enough and Harry, showing remarkable timing, continued his speech unimpeded.
"The Empire I led you into battle for was one of profit—of gains and personal wealth. It was one that never existed, for we took no oath to preserve any such Empire."
Slowly, many a sailor and soldier started to nod and agree, with varying levels of volume.
"But my friends! I swear you this! Today! On this day! In this one moment of fire and steel, we will right the wrong we've committed! Today, we fight for the ideal that we swore to serve!"
"The Empire we serve is not one that can be touched! It is not one we can quantify! We serve liberty, righteousness, justice, equality! WE SERVE THE EMPIRE!"
The roars of the crew could be heard all throughout the ship, and Harry heard those from the main deck well enough. What surprised him, however, was when he also heard them from the ships surrounding his own. Harry grinned. Wolf must have patched the feed through to the others.
Taking heart from his crew's support, Harry yelled into the comm., "FLY THE COLOURS!"
Throughout every ship in the NBLF Fleet, the cry was passed from soldier to soldier, sailor to sailor, soldier to officer.
Soon enough, small mobs made their way to the top of each command deck, quickly surrounding the flagpole from which the NBLF flag (a Union Jack with the letters NBLF over it) flew. The crowds quickly pulled down the flag and in its stead, hundreds of Union Jacks, of every size, began to fly from the flagpoles.
Harry felt his heart warm as he saw the flags steadily rise up and flap in the wind. He knew that if he looked upwards, a Union Jack would be flying behind him.
This was it. This was when amends were made.
Pressing the intercom button once more, Harry gave his next order.
"The time is now! All ships, full speed ahead!"
At Norfolk, the garrison there had just woken up when the first shots crashed into their base. Those not instantly woken by the explosions were those who'd been unfortunate enough to be in those buildings that had been hit.
Soldiers rushed out of their barracks as enormous shells soon crashed in, decimating building after building.
At the coastline defences, the cry was given to man every long-range gun and for every ship to set sail to engage the enemy.
To their confusion, however, the British were nowhere in sight. And yet, the shells kept dropping. Cursory glances at the sky also eliminated the idea that it was an air strike.
So where were they?
The Norfolk base was quickly becoming a lifeless crater as shell after shell dropped and released massive Reductor spells. And still no ships were seen on the horizon.
The whole situation had the Norfolk commander nearly frothing in rage. He cursed wildly as he turned his attention from the sea to look in the direction of the Norfolk garrison and only saw a blackened, scorched piece of land.
His attention so turned, however, caused him to become open, and before he could give out another curse to his nearby subordinates, the commander's head suddenly exploded. Every single person on the gun placement turned to watch in horror as hundreds of small transports unloaded the khaki-uniformed troops of the NBLF.
Even more to the point, the man leading them seemed to be none other than the Northern Duke, the Americans' arch nemesis.
As the Americans scrambled to take defensive positions, they watched as the Duke swung his sword down and urged his troops forward.
Then, just as the Americans readied to open fire on the advancing troops, more shells started dropping, and the defenders saw, horrified, as ship after ship began to surface.
Harry grinned as he made his way up the beach, taking note of the weapon silence his enemies were going through. His plan had worked.
Not for the last time, Harry felt beyond pleased at the success of his new Resolution Class ships. He'd commissioned them for this exact sort of situation.
The ships were of a whole new category, too. Unlike the smaller, battleship-like Retaliation ships, who were armed to the tooth, the Resolution Class ships were long-range, shell-based artillery ships, designed for distance support. They were thus called Long Range Strike Ships, or LRSS.
And it was entirely thanks to them that the plan had gone off without a hitch. The LRSS' long range capacity had forced the defenders to keep a wary eye on the horizon, while his smaller, faster transports surfaced closer to the shore and silently unloaded. Thus, when the enemy found out about their landing, it would be too late.
Then, when the enemy began to react, the real fleet would surface nearby and commence short-range artillery bombardment of the coastline defences, thus catching the enemy guns unmanned.
As Harry watched from the beach as the defence platforms were decimated one by one, he turned and gave his men a feral grin. "Onwards, lads!" he encouraged them. "Onwards! For your homes! For your lovers! For the Empire! Tally-Ho!"
Harry swung his sword forward once more as he and the rest of the landing army gave a war-cry and charged up the beach. Harry led the attack, with the colour bearers right behind him, flying huge Union Jack flags.
Harry ran up the beach feeling that familiar thrill in his veins. The rush he got from getting into a fight.
As he made his way up towards a sandbagged wall, he felt the rush quicken him, make him stronger. And so, landing one foot over the top of the sandbag wall, he propelled himself down into the awaiting defenders, sword high.
He just hoped Staples was doing his part in distracting the American reinforcements.
With thunderous blasts, the HMS Locker let loose its entire cannonade as it sleekly manoeuvred its way past enemy ships. TheLocker, a refitted ship of the Old Imperial Navy (rebuilt along the same design as the legendary Flying Dutchman) was Tybalt "Davy Jones" Staples' flagship, and the mountainous Irishman was cackling gleefully from behind the helm.
Across the waters, Staples' ships and the Americans' got in close and began firing off volley after volley as the Irishman denied the Americans the advantage of their longer ranged guns. The blitzkrieg tactic had completely put the Americans in disarray, as they'd never thought the experienced ex-Imperial admiral would ever pull off such a suicidal move.
Obviously, they didn't know Tybalt Staples.
"Bow cannons!" ordered Staples before letting loose another gleeful laugh as his next cannonade tore holes into yet another American ship.
At the Locker's bow, two hidden compartments slid open as quadruple guns (a signature armament to Staples' ships) were rolled out. They were directly aimed at Staples' original target—the Americans' communication ship.
It was something that had long baffled the Imperial military, but the Americans had, rather than designate a command ship, instead created what the Imperials called a "Comm Ship," where the Americans coordinated the entire battle from.
And it was this ship upon which the Locker's bow guns were now aimed.
Staples gave a feral grin beneath his wet, red beard as he saw the clear shot his guns had. "FIRE BOW CANNONS!" he roared, laughing as the tell-tale boom of his old-fashioned (and yet still advanced) guns told him of the doom they were propelling towards the open Comm Ship.
Staples laughed as he watched the shells impact with the Comm Ship's command tower over and over, causing the ship to slowly collapse as explosions began ringing throughout its length. The USS Inquisitor, as his lookout had reported the ship was called, soon broke in half as a terrific explosion tore it in half down the middle.
Staples gave another gleeful cackle as he rolled the wheel right.
"The day's ours, boys!" he shouted over the roar of the water, which splashed him as the ship cut into a wave. "All ships, engage the enemy fleet! Fire at will! Leave no ship un-sunk!" he then gave another cackle as he steered his ship towards a particularly juicy-looking target: one of the new ships the Americans had used to sink his ships.
Thinking on his previous order, he allowed another feral grin as he corrected himself. "Belay that last order! All ships, engage and destroy the enemy fleet! But leave the new ones intact! I want them all captured!"
The message so relayed through his Comm station, he then turned his attention to his crew, who were running across the deck, loading and firing the deck cannons.
"PREPARE TO BOARD!"
The fight aboard the USS Fury was not going well for the Americans. The crew aboard it had been scrambling to load the guns and open fire on the advancing Locker when the seemingly older ship suddenly began to pick up speed, not to mention the bow cannons kept the Fury's crew hugging the deck.
Then, just as the cannonade was over, the crew was almost immediately overwhelmed as tens of sailors suddenly swung onto the deck and began hacking away at the crew. It became only worse when the deck reverberated when Staples joined the fight himself.
"Ahahahahahahaha!" he cackled. "Who's wanting to take a dip into Davy Jones' Locker?"
The most terrifying aspect about the huge, redheaded Irishman however, was the fact that instead of a conventional sword, he swung around a huge hammer, flinging American sailors off the ships five at a time with a single swing.
Staples suddenly grabbed one American by the head and flung him into a group of oncoming riflemen, who were subsequently bowled over, only to then be crushed by the Irish admiral's hammer.
Thus fighting, Staples hammered his way (literally) towards the bridge, as American sailors tried, in vain, to stop him, firing bullets (which he used his hammer to cover himself from), spells (which he whacked away) and blunt objects (which didn't even hurt him, he was so full of adrenaline).
And so, as Staples hammered his way up the stairs leading to the bridge, Americans trying to push him back in front of him, and Imperial sailors crying out encouragements as they followed their (slightly battle-crazed) leader up the stairs, the amazing story of the new Davy Jones was cemented in history.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Harry Potter was making the name "The Northern Duke" become cemented permanently in the fears of the American people.
Harry grinned as he slashed left and right with his new sword—a fine rapier gifted to him by the people of Harrisburg when he was raised to Dukedom. With his wand in his left hand, he cast spells here and there, exploding a soldier's head to his front as his rapier dug into the stomach of another.
His face was long-drenched in blood as he, too, began laughing as he cut his way through the enemy throngs.
All around him, his own soldiers were also pushing their way into the defences, jumping down into the trenches atop the beach. Imperial after Imperial jumped down and opened fire with their rifles at the enemy, with some of the more creative ones actively using every part of their weapons to inflict as much damage as they could.
One soldier tackled an American soldier and used the wooden butt of his rifle to bash in the man's skull.
Another swung his empty rifle at an American's head and then crushed the fallen man's neck with his foot.
Yet another saw one of her comrades about to be killed and snuck up behind the American, only to slit his throat with her unsheathed bayonet.
Some of his officers also drew their swords and were making quite the ruckus in the battle.
Harry watched as Neville, in particular, slashed his way through. The young Major slashed left and right gracefully, before ducking down to avoid a spell, only to twist upwards and slash at the offending wizard's chest. Seeing another soldier about to fire on him, Neville grabbed the wounded man's head and pulled him in front of the bullet, which caused the man's back explode in gore.
Neville quickly and calmly dispatched his shooter with a decapitating slash.
Harry also saw Ernie fight his way through the throngs. The Scottish Captain was grinning as he ducked a spell and brought up a fist, catching the offending caster with an uppercut. The downed enemy soldier merely had a few seconds to clear his head before he realized he was now staring at a pistol's barrel, shortly before his head shot back from the impact of the bullet that killed him.
Susan was another that caught his attention. The attractive redhead had somehow managed to get a hold of two officer-issued pistols, which she was having a grand time firing off around her.
Every male Imperial, save Harry, that saw her absently noted that her shirt was gradually becoming see-through with all the sweat that was accumulating there. However, a simple glare from Neville, who was then holding up a severed head, was enough to divert attention from his girlfriend.
With the Imperials' combined efforts, the deployed troops managed to push the Americans further and further back. Eventually, the Americans were pushed into a warehouse, where they holed themselves up in such a way that Harry knew that any further incursion would leave him with many dead.
"They look scared!" observed Neville as he stood by his commander, panting.
To his other side, Harry heard Susan giggle between pants, making Harry grin evilly as Ernie laughed behind them.
Turning to Ernie, Harry nodded, "Why don't we relieve them of their fear, then?" he jaunted, making everyone laugh.
As the Imperials laughed behind their cover, Ernie was busy calling up Seamus, who was stationed on the HMS Resolution.
"Roger. Confirm: Quadrant Four, Sector Sixteen-Alpha," echoed Seamus into his communicator. After receiving confirmation from Ernie, the Irishman turned and gave the firing officer a thumbs up.
"Quadrant Four, Sector Sixteen-Alpha…locked on target!" announced the targeting technician.
"Elevation set at Level Four!"
Seamus nodded. "Fire for effect!" he ordered loudly.
The crew of the Long Range Artillery Gun (LRAG) turned their eyes away as the huge cannon made a thunderous roar as its shell was propelled in a bright, fiery blast from its mouth. Had the ship not been well anchored, Seamus had no doubt that the entire vessel would have been rocked off course by the mere blast.
Back at the enemy base, Harry watched with the rest of his army as the warehouse stood silent, numerous wands and rifles poking out of holes here and there, waiting for the Imperial soldiers to charge forward.
Unfortunately for them, they had once again forgotten of the awesome firepower of the LRSS.
About half a minute after Ernie made the call, Harry heard the distinct whistle of the incoming shell, prompting him to cry out, "COVER!"
Just as the Americans figured out what the Imperial commander had shouted, however, the LRAG shell crashed into the warehouse. The detonation decimated the entire structure as the Fire/Reductor compound shell exploded. The metal of the walls melted due to the fire as the concrete was reduced to dust due to the Reductor.
Fortunately for the Imperials, however, Harry's warning was well-heeded, and all had ducked as soon as the order was given.
Standing up, Harry gave a satisfied nod as all that remained before him was a blackened crater.
Turning around, Harry looked at his silent troops for a moment before stabbing upwards with his rapier and shouting, "Victory!"
The resounding answering chant of "Victory!" lasted for ten minutes.
AN: I admit, the "Fly the colours" scene was very much inspired (though not taken directly) from the similar scene in PotC 3.