March of the Habsborg
Chapter 6 - Sacrilege
Chapter 6 - Sacrilege
The Borg quickly brushed the dandruff that was the Hannoverian army off their collective shoulder. Within thirteen months, they had established complete control over the countryside and forced Wilhelm to surrender. The terms of the peace accord had been generous. The only demand made of the Duke was that he convert back to the Catholic church, and that Papal authority be reinstated throughout Hannover. If Wilhelm had known the dark purpose behind this scheme, he might not have agreed to the terms so readily ...
Wilhelm was uneasy as he entered the chapel. It had been nearly four years since his forced conversion at the hands of the Emperor, and for most of that time Hannover's internal affairs had been left for him to handle. He had been certain that the Borg-possessed Habsburgs would end him (or at least, force him to serve the enigmatic Borg as they had with several other elector princes), but they had been content simply to convert him back to Catholicism and replace all the clergy in Hannover with men selected by the Emperor. The replacement process was just now being completed, with the new Archbishop of Hannover having arrived today.
Wilhelm looked around the chapel, but didn't see the new bishop, and surmised that he was in the rectory. Minutes later, Wilhelm was tapping on the rectory door, unknowingly about to seal his own fate.
June 2, 1589
Christian I, Duke of Saxony awoke to find a man in his bedchamber. The stranger was tall and thin, and had a glint in his eye that unnerved Christian. The Duke pushed himself up with a start and was opening his mouth to call for the guards when the intruder spoke.
"Don't bother calling the guards, I'm not here to hurt you."
"Who are you?" Christian asked.
"Oh, I guess you could call me a concerned bystander," replied the mystery man. "Who I am is not as important as what I am about to tell you."
"And what is that?" Christian was trying to divert the man's attention while he stealthily reached for the dagger hidden under his pillow.
"Well first of all, I must tell you that I've already removed the knife from behind your pillow, if that's what you're looking for," said the stranger as he pulled the knife from the inner pocket of his cloak. While Christian's throat began entertaining a lump that had just decided to make a social call, the stranger tossed the knife into the opposite corner of the room, then continued. "Second, I must tell you that the Holy Roman Emperor is about to invade your realm."
"He wouldn't dare," scoffed Christian. "Saxony counts Russia, Denmark, and Brandenburg as allies."
"Your alliance will avail you not. The Borg have amassed too great of an army."
Recognition dawned on Christian's face at the mention of the Borg. "Ah, I see ... you have been sent by the Doge of Venice. Go and tell your master -"
Christian's reply was cut short by the stranger, who grabbed the Duke by the shoulders, yanked him out of bed, a shoved him against the wall, pinning him there. "We serve no master, you puny pile of carbon-based slop! We have chosen to intervene here to serve no interests but our own! The Borg have already taken control of Hannover's nobility and clergy, and the population is rapidly being assimilated. They will attack Saxony next, and unless you are prepared to fight them, your people will be assimilated as well. Now, go! And prepare your realm to meet its doom!"
With that, the mysterious man tossed Christian across the room like a Scottish caber. After recovering, Christian realized that the man had thrown him into the corner where the dagger had been tossed earlier. Hunching over so the stranger would not see his actions, the Duke picked up the knife. Then, screaming a hellacious scream, he whirled around and ran toward the intruder, knife brandished and ready for action.
But the man was no longer there.
February 28, 1594
It took a special sort of person with a special sort of wallet to garner an audience with the Pope. Doge Pasquale Cicogna was one such man. Clemens VIII was also "special", though in a more modern sense of the word. As the Doge approached the Papal Dais (TM), he noticed the Pontiff was drooling.
"Speak," said the Pope's assistant.
"I come, Your Eminence, to tell you of a demonic conspiracy that even now threatens to undermine the Church."
Clemens drooled in reply.
"Erm ... Your Illustriousness surely knows of House Habsburg's recent flurry of wars against various Electorates of the Holy Roman Empire. After forcibly converting Hannover back to the Church fifteen years ago, the Emperor annexed the Duchy just last year. Then there is Saxony, which was re-converted and forced to cede Hessen two years ago. Venice believes this to be the work of the perfidious demon Borg."
"How dare you -" began the assistant, forgetting himself. Bending over, he pretended to listen to the Pope's reply before rising and speaking again. "How dare you imply that the Emperor's holy work is that of the Adversary! He is bringing the word of God back those who had forsaken Him!"
"Your ..." Cicogna pulled out his pocket thesaurus. "Your Gloriousness, this Borg demon is merely using the Church as a way of disguising its true intentions. After reinstalling Catholicism in Hannover and Saxony, the demon appointed possessed clergymen throughout those realms, and those clergymen have engineered the possession of their parishes."
"Enough!" shouted the advisor. "Guards!"
And with that, two burly Swiss Guards grabbed the Doge and tossed him out into the streets of Rome. After emptying his pockets, of course.
Who will the Borg target next? Who is the mysterious stranger who is trying to undermine their conquest?
Read March of the Habsborg, Chapter 7 - Enemy Ascendant to find out!