Pride and Honor

CW: Nightmares and PTSD symptoms

1st January 2024


The sound of the alarm clock awoke the groggy Ursine. His paw reaches up and muffles the alarm. He rolls over expecting to find his wife in bed, but she was already awake. Typical. She usually would get up early to make breakfast. His eyes still droopy, he stood up from his bed and walked into the bathroom to shower and freshen up for the morning. After finishing up, he put on his army uniform. A great sense of pride was how far he had come in the Army. he finished buttoning up his uniform and walked downstairs to the kitchen to find his wife making eggs and sausage. He smiled as he approached her.

“Already hard at work?” he joked.

“Oh Yuk’kot, you comedian. I’m starting that office job today, and I didn’t want to be late for it.” she replied.

“Late? Honey, you’re awake 3 hours early for it! You shouldn’t be afraid.” Yuk’kot said as he sat down at the table to read The Balistrian Times.

She turned around to face him, “Afraid? I’m not afraid. Just nervous. There’s a difference you know.” She walked forward and leaned on the counter, “but you seem to be afraid. There’s nothing to fear.”

That…that wasn’t right. Why would she say that?? That isn’t what she would…

Yuk’kot could smell something burning. He looked up from the table to be sitting in smoldering rubble. A wave of panic starts to set into him. His wife was still standing in front of him.


It wasn’t her voice. No, it couldn’t have been her voice. This was a dream. Just a dream. He needed to just wake up. He would be okay. As he opened his eyes, another explosion went off, flinging him into the void, falling. And yet, there was nothing he could do. He watched as the void consumed everything he could see. Falling…falling…falling….

Yuk’kot sprung awake. His heart was racing, his body was in a cold sweat, and his breathing was irregular. He sat up in his bed trying to catch his breath. Deep breath in, deep breath out. It was another one of those dreams. Those haunting nightmares of a life he knew before. For a moment, he couldn’t tell if he was awake or if this was another dream. He looked to find something to ground him. The dimly lit room offered little to see, but he saw his nightstand. He took the bottle of water and drank it. The water helped calm his body as he swung his feet out of bed.

He arose out of bed, and got into his fatigues. Today was a big day after all. It was a new year and a year full of promise. A promise to make Balistria regain her former glory. a glory lost to those imperialists, those snakes. Eldras’s death was not their fault. It was the arrogance of that fool and his outright refusal to destroy the institution that exploits the people. And his daughter wasn’t any better. Instead of just letting Balistria go, she instead put the country under her tyrannical boot. Nothing more than a ploy to continue to exploit her dissonants and crush any opposition. He wouldn’t stand for that. No. He was going to stand and fight for a free Balistria. A Balistria who controlled her own destiny. A Balistria who would break the yoke of Alkari imperialism and crush the pretenders.

He walked into a wide open room. An old underground parking garage refitted for a better purpose. His headquarters for a fight for a free Balistria. He walked over to the pot of coffee and poured himself a glass. As he was preparing his coffee, footsteps approached.

“Sir, we are almost ready for you. The camera is set up. We are just having difficulty getting the broadcast to…” the young soldier said.

“And I’m sure it will be resolved when you are fully ready for me. You know how this goes. It happens, it gets resolved, we do the broadcast. Don’t tell me unless something is wrong.” Yuk’kot said.

“Yes sir, understood sir.”

“Good. Now do not disturb me.” The soldier nodded and walked away. At least Yuk’kot could enjoy his coffee before going live. He would need his energy after his nightmare. His lack of sleep was starting to get to him. His body was wearing out and that didn’t even touch on his strength. Everyday feels like lugging a 50 pound weight. But today. Today was going to be different. Or so he thought.

“You’re awake. Finally.” a gruff voice stated, “I didn’t think you would be awake in time.”

“You seem pleasant this morning. Coffee sour?” Yuk’kot responded.

“Coffee’s as bland as always. Though, are you sure about today’s broadcast? There’s a lot riding on this.” the older Ursine said. His face was littered with gray furs. No doubt from his time in the army, “You know this means a lot to all of us here kid.”

“I know what is at stake. Our future is coming, and we must seize it from our oppressors. I haven’t forgotten the mission, old man.” Yuk’kot replied.

The Older Ursine chuckled, “Just because I’m a couple years older than you doesn’t mean that I’m an old man. Joking aside however, once this broadcast goes out, we can’t put it back in. They will come for you.”

Yuk’kot took a deep breath. The older Ursine was right. This will put a direct target on all of their backs. He didn’t care though. The time for cowardice was months ago, “Kor’uk, I am certain. This has been planned carefully. You know what is at stake. We must. There are no other chances.”

Kor’uk sighed, “As you say boss.”

The same soldier from earlier walked over to the two men, “Sorry sirs, permission to interrupt?” Yuk’kot waved his hand in response, “We’re ready. We have the signal.”

Yuk’kot and Kor’uk looked at each other and nodded. The silence of the nods communicated far more than any words could. They walked over to the makeshift studio. Kor’uk stood behind the camera while Yuk’kot continued onto the set. Maybe the fatigues weren’t a good option for the broadcast, but what else was he going to wear. The “studio” comprised of a greenscreen to obscure their location, the flag of Free Balistria on either side. A simple desk sat in the middle. The cameras and whatever lighting they could assemble illuminated where he would be sitting to deliver his speech. They were on a countdown. 5 minutes.

Yuk’kot sat down at the desk to get himself comfortable. He looked at where the camera was. The lights made it hard to see the people behind the camera but at least he could see the camera and the teleprompter that was totally not stolen from a local news station. Granted, news stations tend to “lose” a lot of equipment around these parts.

3 minutes.

An aide came over and brushed Yuk’kot’s hair a little bit. He has to look as presentable as possible to the audience. Even if they don’t agree with him fully, he will have something to say that everyone could connect and resonate with. This would be the rallying cry. A cry for a free Balistria. One he could lead like his brother did, and bring more glory and honor than his brother ever did.

1 minute.

All Yuk’kot could think of in the last 60 seconds was of his wife and his brother. His wife who was with him through the toughest of battles, and his brother who gave him so much of his power. His brother was always the politician. But now he has to figure out how to be a politician on the fly. He was always a military man, but considering the circumstances, this is better than nothing. Though, all he could think of was Yuk’kot’um’s tone when he would speak.

10 seconds.

He took a deep breathe and looked into the camera. His speech was starting to scroll onto the teleprompter.

5 seconds.

The studio fell silent. There was no turning back.

3 seconds.

2 seconds.

1 second….

The LIVE light went on. Yuk’kot sat upright just a little bit more before speaking.

“My brother and sisters in arms,

Balistria has always been a place of great pride and honor. Our great nation has once again found itself under the boot of Alkari imperialism and once again under the yoke of a tyrannical government. Do not be fooled by the ‘elected government.’ We all know who is really calling the shots. The bastard who sits on the throne, who dares to title herself ‘Queen’ Dorothea wants nothing more than to exterminate the Balistrian people and to destroy who we are. Do not be fooled by the laws they have passed. They are not improving our lives, rather they are stripping us of our voice and our power. They want us to be resourceless and unarmed so they can roll in and take over. Just look at the Alkari influx that has happened since the war concluded. We are watching in real time our homeland being colonized. For too long, Balistria has been at the whim and mercy of those elves to the North. To the Kingdom who seeks nothing more than to keep us leashed and controlled so that can exploit us. As our great leader Yuk’kot’um said while he was leading us, ‘The Alkari have one goal in mind: the complete and total destruction of the Balistrian way of life.

My brother and sisters in arms, there is a referendum upcoming this year to determine the future of Balistria. This ‘referendum’ is a sham. Alksearia already knows what it wants to do to us. We must resist. We must rise up against the oppressor. Alksearia wants this land for herself to continue to spread their false ideals. We must not let them grow. I call upon all able bodied fighters to join our fight. We are watching, always watching. And to any Alkari who may be watching, this is your one and only warning. Leave Balistria and never return. Your tyranny and oppression is coming to a righteous end. Xathos weeps at the sight of your oppression. May Xathos be merciful in your judgment.

To those who do not heed this warning, Balistria will not sit idley. We know who you are. You cannot hide from us. We will find you. Balistria will be Balistrian again. We will not allow you to destroy us from the inside. Balistria will be free again.

Balistria will rise. May Xathos bless Balistria.”

As Yuk’kot finished his speech, a sigh of relief was released once the LIVE light turned off.


Resa, Balistria

The streets of Resa were as busy as they normally were. It was the perfect day. The New Year’s rush was still happening. Lots of people are traveling; Orcs and Elves alike. Trying to get through the train stations was a disaster, and the bus stops were no better. Driving on the streets was near impossible.


Bradley sat in his car idling at the traffic light. Trying to remain as cool as possible. The car felt a little heavier than it normally is. But Bradley couldn’t think about it. He had one goal. Park the car in the Town Square. No other objective mattered. Especially as the clock was ticking. It was already 1:00pm. He had 5 minutes before everyone else was in place. The Plan required everyone in place. They had to send the message. The light finally turned green and he started to continue driving down the street. As the car drove closer and closer to Town Square, he noticed a beefed up security apparatus. Expected, but it was surprisingly larger than planned.

Bradley picked up the radio, “Eagle 1 reporting in. There’s a lot more reds here than expected.”

for a moment the radio was silent. Was he on the wrong frequency? Shit, did I blow the operation??? Bradley thought. He was about to check his radio when he received a response.

“Eagle 1, this is Arcade. Proceed as normal. Everyone else is almost in place. We will inform you if plans change over.”

“Copy.” Bradley said.

He continued to drive slowly to Town Square. Parking seemed to be near impossible, but he knew he would find something. He looked at the time again, it was 1:02. He didn’t have any room for error. He needed to find parking in the best possible spot. He noticed a couple of Ursines standing near a parking spot that are familiar to Bradley. He pulls to the spot where they let him in. All is going to plan.

Bradley puts the car in park, but doesn’t turn off the car. Not yet at least. He had to wait for the signal. The parking spot was almost in the best place as well. It sat near an entrance to a subway and an entrance to a bus depot. All would be perfect for the right time.

All he could do was just wait. He looked at the time. 1:04. He had made it with just enough time to spare. The one Ursine walked over to the shotgun window. Bradley rolled down the window slightly and the Ursine leaned in, “Has the Eagle landed?”

“For Pride and Honor.” Bradley responded.

“Perfect. Do you have the goods?”

“They’re in the bookbag on the backseat. Hail Balistria.” Bradley responded.

“Hail Balistria.” The Ursine said. He opened the back door, grabbed the bookbag, and slammed the door. The package was delivered. In more ways than one. The other Ursine opened the driver’s rear door and grabbed the other backpack. He walked into the bus station with his backpack on. Perfect.

And all they could do was wait.

Shaisas, Balistria


Shirley sat in her car at the designated spot 5 minutes to showtime. There were a few holes in The Plan, but Shirley didn’t care. Shirley hasn’t cared since her family was killed fighting for Balistria. There was not a single Alkari in this world who could change her mind about her hatred towards them. She knew what was on the line. One of her compatriots approached her car.

“Has the Eagle landed?” the Ursine asked.

“For Pride and Honor. You know the drill. Get the bags. Get in position. And do NOT do anything stupid, you hear?” Shirley stated.

The Ursine nodded. He opened the passenger door and grabbed one of the bags. He closed the door and proceeded into the train station. She pulled out her wallet. One of the last family photos she had. Her parents stood behind her and her brother. If only she knew this would be the last remaining photo of them. She would have selected a better photo to remember them by.

But it wouldn’t matter soon. She was going to be going home. A silent tear dripped down her face. She looked at the time. 1:03. the order would be coming in any minute now. Everything was set. The stage prepared.

Shirley thought to herself, I hope Xathos curses the Alkari everyday they live for the oppression of Balistria. May their righteous anger wipe them off the face of the Urth.

The radio chirped. Game time.

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