When you consider the mechanics, physics, and geometry of it all it could be a beautiful thing.
The hammer falls down and strikes the flint causing a spark. The spark then ignites the powder causing it to detonate and expand. The violent reaction inside the barrel then pushes a round ball down the opening picking up speed the groves in the barrel causing it to spin. When the ball exits the barrel flames and smoke pour out in a short quick spout before exhausting themselves letting the bullet fly free. The force of the powder detonating lets the ball travel at speeds almost beyond imagination letting fly freely without even being seen. The spinning of it causes it to stay true on its course while its shape allows for minimal air resistance to slow its flight. The bullet has no will of its own, no malice, or contempt, or even anger. Just free in flight on the course it was set on.
The same cannot be said for the one who discharged the weapon.
When the flight ends the effect can be anything but beautiful.
In the heat of battle many shots never find their mark the ball hits a barrier and shatters or buries itself into the ground or another object. The bullets flight and life all end in an abrupt and violent collision.
Of the times the bullet finds the shooters targets the effect is one of brutal horror. The impact on the body can happen so fast that pain doesn't even register right away. The kinetic force slams into the target usually knocking them back or down or both. The ball tears though flesh, muscle, bones, and organs until it breaks apart, lodges, or exits the target.
For Lieutenant Daniel Kraven it was just a shot that strayed and unfortunately found him. In an instant a lead ball just under half and inch slammed into his head breaking a hole in his skull and began to tear into his brain. In a fraction of a second it dug into his mind removing all memories of his duty, his country, his wife, and his two sons. By the time it lodged into the opposite side of his head and he fell to the deck all vestiges of who he was in his mind where erased.
Now as the ships of the task force sailed into Arendelle men from the company he commanded along with several other officers from the regiment stood around the box containing his body. The mood was decidedly mixed aboard the ship. On one hand they were returning home after a four month campaign against raiders to the south east. With the combined forces of Arendelle and several other nations the victory was decisive. In fact in the final battle the Allied forces had taken minimal casualties. On the other hand this was the ship that was taking the fallen on their final voyage home.
On the deck of the transport ship "Helen" Lt. James Meclemore of His Majesty's Marines looked out across the fjord towards the city as they approached. He didn't usually take the "death barge" on the return trip but this was a special circumstance. He commanded a company in Kraven's battalion and the two had been friends for years. He couldn't believe it only three casualties in Kraven's company and out of those only one killed and it was the company commander. The battle had been nearly over and the ship their battalion had been on was bombarding one of the flanks while the marines fired volleys from the decks into the coastal defenses when a single wild shot had killed him. James shook his head and sighed not looking forward to encountering Kraven's wife and children who would be waiting on the dock.
James was born into nobility. Granted somewhat distantly. His Grandmother was a commoner who married into one of the Noble families. Even though he was in no way related to the Royal family and was too far back to even count in line for the throne there where benefits from it. His family had groomed him for politics but he became bored with it and instead chose the Navy. Being a Noble he was all but guaranteed entry into the academy and would be an officer. After some time it was discovered who handy he was at hand to hand weapons and was asked to consider the Marines. James found this a far more interesting options being as the Marines needed to know both the aspects of men in the Army and Navy.
James had something else going for him as well. He was considered by nearly every girl that saw him to be dashing and good looking. At age 28 he stood tall at 6 feet four inches which a chiseled face bright blue eyes wavy blonde hair and strong built muscles. He was clean cut whenever possible and was known for having a smile that could melt ice. That ability to charm the ladies had gotten him into trouble at times as well. Several lords were exasperated with his continual bouncing from one girl to the next wanting him to marry into a powerful family for political purposes. However, he insisted he was looking for the right one, even though his friends didn't buy it. Despite his weakness for the Ladies and their weakness for him it was never said he shirked in his duty. He was considered an excellent soldier and was well known in the kingdom.
James turned as he heard foot-steps behind him and gave a small smile to his friend. "Erik come join me."
Sergeant Erik Slovak put away the letter he was working on into his jacket and looked out over the fjord and then ask his longtime friend. "Almost time?"
"Yes" replied James. "Whatcha working on there?"
"A letter to Lt. Kraven's family. I thought they should know what kind of man he was to serve under."
Erik stood just a couple inches shorter then James. His hair was darker and his eyes where a dull green. His muscles didn't quiet show like James did but he was faster and just and strong. Across his left eye there was a scar from when he caught the edge of a sword over two years ago. Across his right hand there was a scar from being slashed and a scar in the right bicep where a mini ball and gone straight though. James thought Erik had a bad habit of getting to far into the battle that his determination to prove himself worthy of the family honor would have him riding this ship in a box far too soon.
Erik was not born a noble like James but his family was no stranger to service of Arendelle. At least seven of his ancestors had been given the title "Son of Arendelle" including his Father and older brother. His Father was killed in battle when he was just six. His Mother died of an illness just 2 years later. His Older brother Sven took care of him as much as he could but his duties took him away often so he was left in care of other families. Much of the time the Noble family who lived nearby would take care of him as thanks to his family for service and heroism. This was how he met James. James served with his brother and became as sorts a second older brother. Until the day his Brother was killed as well.
When he was 15 word came that his Brother was killed in battle. Then he only had his Aunt and Uncle left for family and with their health they would have trouble taking care of him. James family would take him in and he would join the service at age 16 in James unit as a squire. His first assignments was being an assistant to the officers and quarter masters. One day during battle the Officer in charge of the supply depot was killed when a raiding party got behind the lines and attacked. Instead of retreating Erik had picked up the dead officers sword and pistol and fought back. He would be shot in the arm during the scrimmage but reinforcements would show up to assist. Because of his bravery he would be made a regular soldier even at his age and since then had risen to become the youngest Sergeant in the Arendelle forces at the age of 21.
His age had never bothered those h served with. He was fiercely loyal to Arendelle and his men and was always first in line to volunteer. All those years of duty and fighting though had left more than physical scars. Erik was considered cold and serious. His life seemed to revolve around the service to the Nation. His eyes at times seem haunted. Only his closest friends really ever saw the compassion and humor he let out every now and then.
He turned and looked at his friend "Should we call them out?"
"Yes" James nodded
He turned and yelled "Alright all troops on deck prepare for the volley!"
The Marines on board climbed out onto the deck. Meanwhile the captain of the Helen gave orders to the gunners below deck. As the Marines assembled two of them walked over to James and Erik.
Sgt. Ian Tevel was 26 years old and served in Lt. Kraven's company along with Erik. He had meet James and Erik nearly four years before and they had become close friends. Ian stood at James height with sandy hair and blue eyes but was far lankier. The son of a farming family Ian had joined the service when he was 18 when a call came out from the king to fight bandits that threatened the outer territory. Ian served with distinction and decided to stay on. Ian was outgoing and generally entertaining and was a good musician with the lute and his voice. For the past year though it seemed all he could talk about was Pricilla. Pricilla was a pretty shop girl who he met in Arendelle and become involved with the last year. His friends all teased him because it seemed when he wasn't doing his duties he was talking about her or writing exceedingly long letters to her.
Sambo Kerns stood out among the others with his dark skin and short black hair. He was shorter than the others but was heavily muscled and had gentle brown eyes. He had been found when very young by an Arendelle ship. He was the lone survivor from the wreck of a slave ship from another nation. The crew had rescued him and the doctor nursed him back to health until he was brought back to Arendelle. He was then adopted by a family and when he became of age he decided to enlist and become a medic in order to serve those who saved him and given him a new life. With hardly anyone in Arendelle having ever seen a black man before people were not sure how to react to him but slowly he earned their acceptance. The same went for the men he served with when he first signed on but he earned their acceptance faster when they saw he was willing to crawl through hell to get to the wounded. He had met the other three when James an Erik were helping Ian who had just taken shrapnel to the leg out of the line of fire during a battle that was going badly. From there they had proceeded together to pull several other wounded out of the line of fire.
The four friends stood together as they watched Arendelle grow closer as the sailed across the fjord. The Helen had black sails emblazoned with the Arendelle emblem to signal that it carried the fallen. From the city a bell sounded to signal the approach of the fleet.
"O.K. men ready the volley" James ordered as Erik, Ian, and Sambo grabbed their muskets and stood with the marines on deck. The caption gave orders to his navy men and then they waited. Soon signal lamps from the flagship signaled the order.
"Fire!" The order came from several ships and a single cannon sounded one at a time from each ship to signal victory. In response cannons from the castle and forts around the city echoed back answered the victory call. From the approaching docks the cheers of the gathering people could be heard.
They waited until they got closer then James gave the order, "Alright let them know the fallen Heroes have returned home."
"Fire!" The captain of the ship yelled as the Helen fired an empty volley from its port broadside.
As the echoes died out the marines raised their rifles to the sky. "Fire!" Erik ordered and they sent a volley in the air honoring their fallen comrades. On the docks an Army company raised their muskets and fired in response letting the fallen heroes know they were welcomed back home to rest.
Elsa's head snapped up at the sound of the cannon and she ran to the window. She looked out and saw the ships sailing in from the fjord.
A Cannon from the tower sounded welcoming the troops home as the windows in her room shook lightly. She hugged herself gently again feeling guilty knowing she should probably be out there to greet them and thank them for their service. But she knew she could just put them in more danger and they had experienced enough of that. That gave her something else to trouble herself over. How could she ask others to sacrifice and be brave or Arendelle when she could hardly stand to leave her room? She was the heir to the throne. If she ever took the throne it would fall on her to decide when to risk the lives of her soldiers. She couldn't decide what was worse. Her soldiers never knowing the queen they fought for. Or if they did find out would they still fight for her?
Anna ran to a window where she could see the ships when she heard the cannon. How she wished she could go out there and greet them. If only just to get a glimpse of the handsome soldiers.
The ships docked and the soldiers and sailors had disembarked to greet friends and family waiting for them. It was not all happy reunions though. Sobs were heard from those who found out their loved ones where among the fallen. The four friends stepped out onto the docks as they wrapped everything up and walked toward the city. James and Erik greeted James parents who were waiting for them. Sambo hugged his adopted parents while Ian waited for Pricilla who hadn't arrived yet. Erik stepped away and turned to Ian
"Hey why are you looking so nervous?"
"I'm not" Ian replied.
"You sure about that?"
"Yea just excited to see Pricilla is all."
They turned their attention back to the troops who were beginning to head out from the docks when they noticed James step away and talk to someone neither of them recognized.
"Hey" Ian asked "Who's that?"
"No idea." Erik replied.
After a while James walked away from the man and was quickly attracting attention from the girls.
"Uh oh" here we go Ian said. "What do you think over under on a dozen girls surrounding him?"
"I'll take the under, slow night" Erik replied
"I'll take that action" said Ian and they proceeded to watch after a few minutes "ok I got sixteen how bout you?"
Erik just groaned an reached into his pocket and handed Ian a coin.
"Thank you very much." Ian smirked
"Shut up." Erik growled.
James broke free after a while a big smile on his face. "You know Erik you should have come over I had plenty to spare."
"Yea you know I think love is just a myth and will you turn that charm off? It's costing me." Erik stated simply.
James turned to Ian "He bet the under again didn't he?"
"Yes he did." Ian smirked
"Well I propose a new wager. Will our Erik ever discover love or will that heart remain stone forever?" James asked in a light hearted tone.
"I'll say he finds it, someone will break him down" Ian replied sure of the fact.
"No way" James smirked. "He will be married to the job." Then smirked as Sambo came back over "what do you think Sambo will our Erik ever find love?"
"Not a chance, no girl is going to put up with him barking marching orders." Sambo smirked
"Am I allowed to bet against myself?" Erik grinned.
"Ha no way" Ian replied "I hate to lose because you're to suborn to lose a bet."
They all turned to see a blonde haired girl run towards them and throw her arms around Ian.
"Pricilla!" Ian threw his arms around her as well and they shared a deep passionate kiss.
"Oh my" James said and Erik and Sambo smirked as James took out his binoculars. "Look, they fogged over."
"Alright Ian we are gonna head over to the Red Viking, come join us when you come up for air." Sambo grinned as the three walked off to their favorite spot in Arendelle. As they turned the corner, however, James glanced back.
"Hey guys check this out!" He exclaimed.
Erik and Sambo turned and both gasped in surprise. There was Ian getting down on one knee in front of Pricilla and giving her a ring. The other three stood there dumbstruck and she screamed and jumped up and down.
"Did you know?"
"No, no idea."
"How did he keep this a secret?"
The three shook their heads and headed for the Red Viking talking about what they had just saw. They took in the sights and the people just enjoying the peace and time away from battle. As they walked they saw the castle in the distance.
"Hey either of you ever been in there?" Sambo asked
"No, Never." Erik replied looking at it.
"Yea I have been there before." Said James
Both his friends stopped and looked at him.
"Yea I got to go in with Dad once about 2 years ago"
Sambo looked at the castle in the setting sun then back at James. "Did you see… her?"
There was no need to explain who "her" was everyone knew. James smirked and replied "Of course, she found me charming as usual."
Sambo's eyes got bigger but Erik just laughed. "Sambo don't believe him, he is so full of it."
James threw his hands up and laughed. "Ok, ok you got me I didn't actually see Princess Elsa. I was inside though, it's quiet nice. I also saw Princess Anna.
"Really what was she like?" Sambo asked.
"Well she was only 12 or something at the time so she was just playing around the halls and rooms. She did seem very outgoing and friendly though."
They continued until they walked inside their favorite establishment and found a table. When they ordered their drinks James asked quietly. "So does it ever bother you that the heir to the throne has been seen by almost no one? I mean when I was there I talked to a couple of the guards and even they said they have never seen her."
"I dunno" Sambo said. "I never really thought about it."
"I guess it doesn't really bother me." Erik replied. "Not really my place anyway. I can't think of any malicious reason why they would hide her away."
James smiled and lifted his glass "To our mysterious princess Elsa?"
Sambo and Erik raised their glasses to his. "To our mysterious princess Elsa!"
The three sat and talked and drank for a while until Ian and his bride to be showed up. When they walked in Sambo raised his glass and yelled. "To the happy couple!"
"To the happy couple!"
The new couple joined them and they continued to enjoy their time telling her about the campaign and asking her what on earth she was thinking saying yes. Suddenly James stood. "Colonel Rekner sir!"
The other three stood and saluted as well.
"At ease men but pay attention." The Colonel said. "I know you were looking forward to some well-deserved time off but something else has come up. However, if we succeed we should only be gone two or three weeks. I need you all to report to spearhead in three days. You two…" he pointed to James and Erik. "I need to come with me."
"Yes sir!" the both responded but looked at each other as they grabbed their things.
"Alright" James addressed Ian and Sambo. "If we don't meet up before then see you at the camp. Congratulations again Ian. And Pricilla…" He grinned. "Run while you still can." He laughed as he walked out the door with Erik.
As they walked down the streets with the Colonel Erik asked. "Sir if I may who is going to command the company with Lt. Kraven gone?"
"That is something we will discuss when we reach our destination."
"Where are we headed anyways Sir?" James asked.
"Well boys, right there." The Colonel pointed to the castle.
James looked surprised and Erik shocked as he walked up to the closed gates.
Rekner addressed the guards. "Colonel Rekner reporting with Lt. Meclemore and Sgt. Slovak as ordered."
The guards opened a side door and the three walked through it. Erik couldn't help but look around. He honestly never thought he would set foot inside these gates in his life. Well maybe one day the courtyard they were walking through but never the castle itself. He didn't often show emotion but couldn't help but look on with awe as a door opened and they walked inside the castle. He looked around at all the elaborate decorations and architecture. Then another thought crossed his mind. Somewhere inside was one of the greatest mysteries of Arendelle, the Princess Elsa. He glanced around wondering if she was behind one of the doors he was looking at. Suddenly they heard something and all three turned to see a young teen girl at the top of a set of stairs. Erik wondered if he had just seen…
"Princess Anna, My lady!" The Colonel exclaimed and bowed as James an Erik quickly followed suit.
"It's alright Colonel." Anna giggled as the three men stood upright again. "What brings you to the castle?"
"We have orders to see the council." The Colonel replied.
"Oh down that hallway then to the right" Anna replied pointing them the way.
"Thank you Princess." Rekner replied knowing full well where the chambers were but was not about to tell the Princess that.
As they turned and walked towards the chamber Erik thought, well it wasn't Arendelle's greatest mystery but still not many commoners had ever seen the Princess Anna. As they approached the Chambers he could not imagine why he was being asked here. He began to wonder, and somewhat worry more when the doors opened revealing the council along with the King.
"Your Majesty!" All three men bowed to the King.
"Gentlemen please rise we have much to discuss." The king said as he looked at the soldiers.
The three stood at attention again as the King continued. "Colonel we have a situation of treason on our hands. A few days ago the Titan spotted what appeared to be an army camp about 20 miles outside the city along the coast. Upon closer scouting it has been confirmed that it is the beginnings of a rebel army being assembled to attack Arendelle and seize control. The leader of the rebellion is our own Count Snider."
The King continued. "I am having General Nohr here put together a force to stop this rebellion before it gets out of hand. Already we have reports of some of our own troops joining the camp and lord Snider and his followers keep spreading discord trying to get more recruits. I want your regiment to join this force. This may seem like a harsh step but if we don't stop this now we could have a full-fledged civil war on our hands. General Nohr will go over the finer points of strategy with you but first I believe we have some other business to attend to?"
"Yes my lord we have some personal issues with the regiment." Rekner replied.
"I see" The king replied a small smile forming on his face. "Lt. James Meclemore step forward."
"Your Majesty." James stepped forward.
"Your superiors have mentioned your accomplishments during the recent campaign. For your bravery and service to Arendelle I hereby promote you to the rank of Captain and to second in command of the battalion."
"Thank you your Highness" James bowed as the Captains insignia was placed on him.
As James stepped back the King looked at Erik. "Sgt. Erik Slovak step forward."
"Your Majesty." Erik stepped forward.
"Your commanders have told me about your bravery and courage on the battlefield. For your Bravery and service to Arendelle I hereby promote you to the rank of Lieutenant and give you command of your company.
"Thank you your Majesty." He managed to reply but in somewhat of a shock. As he made to step back into line the King stopped him.
"One more thing Lieutenant." The king said before he stepped back. "Do you recognize that painting over there?" you gestured to a panting showing a ship fighting to pirate vessels.
"Yes Majesty, it's the Ticonderoga engaging two pirates who had attacked the Kings ship almost 70 years ago." Erik said.
"Correct. And I believe your great-grandfather was the Captain of that vessel yes?"
"Well with your new rank I believe a new sword is in order, one more becoming an officer." He motioned to an aid who handed him a sword. "This belonged to your great grandfather. It has been here in the castle since he died but I believe it should be returned to the family."
Erik bowed as he accepted the sword. "Thank you majesty, you are most gracious."
As he stepped back into line the king continued. "Gentlemen I want you to make every attempt to bring Count Snider back alive so he can answer for his crimes. However, we cannot allow him to escape so if it comes down to it, do what you have to. Understood?"
"Yes your Majesty." All three replied.
"Excellent. You have my thanks an Arendelle's thanks for your service. God speed Soldiers of Arendelle, you are dismissed."
Three days later the four friends were back in camp preparing for the battle. Erik and Ian frowned as they looked over the company roster it looked like three men from his company had failed to report and it looked like they joined the rebels. "We need to stop this before it gets out of hand" Erik said to Ian and he nodded in agreement. Just then a trumpet sounded an assembly for the regiment and they got up to gather with the men. Erik grabbed his new sword and put it on his belt along with the pistol Colonel Rekner had issued him and he had spent the last three days honing his skills with it along with reviewing his new command.
The regiment gathered in an opening and Colonel Rekner stepped up on a platform to address them. "Men you know what is being asked of you. In the next few days you will be asked to fight your own countrymen. It is something none of us have ever wanted to do. But me must and we must be victories for if we are not the rebellion will grow until Arendelle is plunged into a long and bloody civil war. Remember your oaths, remember your duty, remember the man standing next to you." He pulled is sword out and held it to the sky. "For Arendelle!"
The men shouted back "For Arendelle!"