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The Burnt World (Modern Apocalypse AU)

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"They will likely blame you, your grace.” Tyrion predicts as he sets down a glass in front of her. “Claim it to be terrorist action by the Mad King’s daughter.”

“Unless this is meant to be a show of force.” Varys interjects. “The few skirmishes we have had with Lannister forces have been victories. She will want to demonstrate that she is capable of winning and that the punishment for sedition will be swift and violent.”

“Are we ready?” she asks the spymaster.

“Yes, your grace, one of my birds is in play as we speak.”

The glass of wine in front of her should look alluring. A sweet tang to ease her impatience, and slow the rage that's been clawing up from inside her since she heard the news early this morning. But the wine was a gift from Olenna, a product of the Vineyard at Highgarden.

There is no more Highgarden, There is no more Vineyard. There is no more Olenna Tyrell.

They were lost in a green, mushrooming cloud of fire and force.

The radio crackles to life with the chime that indicates a broadcast from the Capital. The first four notes of the ‘Rains of Castermere.’

‘And Who Are You...?’ the melody sings to anyone wise enough to know the lyrics behind the bells.

“I am Daenerys Stormborn.” the proud queen said. An unspoken answer to the unspoken question.

“Minister Qyburn from the Red Keep” an announcer says in a clear sharp voice. A flash of static.

“Good Evening.” At 0800 hours this morning, a Wildfire Warhead was detonated at HighGarden with the Authority of Cersei Lannister, First of her name, The Lioness, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Long may she Reign.”

The Broadcast pauses for a second. A moment for the brainwashed masses to repeat the blessing to their false queen. Daenerys closes her eyes for a moment and inhales sharply through her nose, and drums her fingers on the Painted Table. It seems Cersei has taken a few new titles for herself.

“For the past months, the denizens of Highgarden, led by Olenna Tyrell, have been supplying the Radical Insurgent Daenerys Targaryen with arms, supplies, and men in her campaign of terror across Westeros. This Treason was answered with the full force of the Crown’s justice. I will take questions now…”

The first questions are all from state plants. Puppets to complete the illusion of transparency asking basic questions about the specifics of Olenna’s treason. Centering the focus at the crime instead of the punishment. They fail to ask real questions like: ‘How many are dead?’, ‘Will this affect the food supply in Westeros’, ‘How much more Wildfire does she have?’, “How much does she intend to use?’.

“This is him…” Varys announces.

“Minister Qyburn…” Its a young man’s voice. “This is the second time the Queen has used Wildfire on Westerosi Citizens. First destroying Baelor’s Sept, and now Highgarden. Will the Queen continue to burn Westeros like the Mad King?”

Daenerys hisses through her teeth and pinches the bridge of her nose. Why did he allude to her father?

“Second time…” Qyburn stutters for half a moment. “The incident at Baelor’s Sept was the result of the stores from the Mad King. The official report of the incident says the Wildfire was planted underneath the city before our good Queen’s late husband ascended the Throne.” his voice picks up speed and volume as he truly begins to rant. “For all we know Daenerys Targaryen is responsible for the incident at the Sept. The only person to be aware of these stores was the traitorous imp Tyrion Lannister.”

She is staring daggers into Tyrion and he isn’t meeting her eyes.. Whatever the little bird is going to do, he better do it soon. Missandei is holding her breathe at her side. Jorah stands behind her ever watching. There is a gentle knock at the door as Qyburn continues to rage at this reporter. Varys answers and is handed a slip of paper, which he silently reads before folding his hands behind his back.

“...Our Queen Cersei Lannister was born here in Westeros, she was raised in Westeros and she mothered her children in Westeros. Daenerys Targaryen is a foreign whore who climbed to power on her back, leaving a wake of devastation behind her. She assaults our country with Raiders and Mercenaries from Essos. She spreads dissent and disunity. Her actions have already allowed the Northern Secession from Westeros to go unanswered. Now. Sansa Stark may be murderous whore, whose family is responsible for the devastation of the War of Five Kings but, at least her and her bastard brother are Westerosi“

Lies and Deflection and Misinformation.This smear campaign has gone on long enough. Her hands press down into the table as she rises to her feet.

“What exactly was your little bird supposed to do?” Her violet eyes shoot back and forth between Tyrion and and Varys. Missandei stands and turns the radio off, clearing away the wine glass in front of Daenerys. Good. She wouldn’t want to waste Olenna’s gift in her fury. “Are you sure he was yours after all?”

“Your Grace...”

“Because from my perspective, your little bird...” she spits out the Westerosi idiom. “...Handed him opportunities attack me.” She snaps upright, her hands flexing with anger, her volume increasing. It takes a minute to calm down, a deep breath tamping down the dragon’s breath behind her lips. Forcing her hands to still and fall folded below her waist. “What exactly was supposed to happen?”

They look at each other for a moment and if it would be comical if she wasn’t so angry. It is a series of looks and glances that a decade of partnership offers. Losing the silent argument, Tyrion starts to answer her question.

“The boy did his job. But Qyburn must have been prepared for him…”

The gasp that leaves her body is almost painful. That poor boy will be dead or stuck in a black cell in a few moments.

“That was it?” she asks, hoarse and small compared to the rage a moment ago. Another life lost in her name. “That was all? We could have had him say anything and that was it...”

“We were hoping to catch Qyburn in a lie and discredit him that way.”

“Discredit him... your plan was to discredit him…” The heel of her hand has presses against her forehead. So much loss for such a meager goal. She paces back and forth across the empty length of the Painted Table. “Thousands of people are dead and you plan to DISCREDIT Him?”

Olenna would have laughed in the dwarfs face. “The people of Westeros are sheep.” she had told Daenerys during their last conversation. “Are you a sheep?” the old woman paused, looking her in the eyes “No. You’re a Dragon. Be a Dragon.”

Dragons do not waste time ‘discrediting’ their enemies.

“What news?” She knows its bad, if it was good they would have told her in her rage. He unfolds the message he received.

“A SOS from Theon Greyjoy. Euron surprised them on their way to Dorne. Admiral Yara was captured, most of the Sand Snakes are dead, and what remains of our fleet is on their way back to Dragonstone with no power.”

He says it in a clear calm voice. As if he is giving instruction on how to prepare his dinner instead of crushing news about the death of yet even more allies. All her allies. All except those who sailed with her from Essos and the bay of Dragons.

“So all my allies are gone.”

“Theon will be returning, but they are out of power which means they are at the mercy of the tides until they can recharge their cells.”

Theon… Daenerys doesn’t know him well enough to say whether or not she actually likes him. When he has spoken with her it has been with a slight stutter and rarely meets her eyes, and never without Yara at his side. He is not fit to command the remains of her Navy.

“She was surrounded!” Daenerys grits her teeth as she crosses the length of the table to return to King’s Landing. “Enemies to the East, Enemies to the West” Dragonstone and HighGarden. “Enemies to the South” Dorne “And Enemies to the North…” she gestures up towards the far end of the table.

It's a true piece of art. A topographically accurate scale of Map of Westeros carved out of stone. A sculpture made by her ancestors hundreds of years ago in this brutalist fortress. Built to withstand hurricanes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. She was born here… on Dragonstone. Somewhere in this construction of concrete and steel.

It should have felt like coming home. But instead it feels like a prison. Like Westeros is suffocating her. It might just be the thick woolen jackets she has to wear now. They constrict more than her dresses, or leathers did, and her practiced graceful movements sometimes feel stiff under the bulk of material.

She has never been more formidable, but she has never been so limited. She pauses at the head of the table sliding her fingers across the thin raised line of stone representing the great wall marking the Northern Border of Westeros. Varys shifts uncomfortably in the silence.

“How did this happen?”

Its a rhetorical question, and no-one dares try to answer it. It happened because she listened to them. Because she didn’t fly over King’s Landing on Drogon. Because she didn’t siege the city right away. Because they’ve spent a year here on Dragonstone, broadcasting out her accomplishment, trying to recruit more Westerosi to rebel against Cersei, skirmishing for the increasingly limited resources, and reversing the image of Targaryen Tyranny.

As if she ever could.

Her family history is long and ...complicated and it begins and ends with doom.

The fall of Valyria and the catastrophic climate change that followed, brought her family across the sea hundreds of years ago. The most advanced civilization in the world, reduced to rubble and ash, and with it every accomplishment humanity ever achieved. All their tech, all their knowledge, all their people...gone. Except for the pieces her ancestors hoarded for themselves, here on this small volcanic rock.

Like the jets they used conquer Westeros from the air; their dragons. Like the RAVEN, a handful of satellites from Old Valyria that are still in orbit over the planet, enabling communications over long distances. Like Wildfire… which could either power cities or burn them.

The first Daenerys had tried to power cities when she united Westeros… her father had burned the world when it rose against him.

Such was the way of her family. She had once been told that fate flips a coin whenever a Targaryen is born. One side greatness and the other madness. For hundreds of years they had ruled this country. Governed it. Lead it. Periods of peace and advancement followed by civil war and destruction. A wheel of hope and despair that has rolled over Westeros. A wheel pushed by Westerosi elite for ever diminishing resources as the seasons became more volatile, as the last pieces of old world tech broke down, as the RAVEN began to fail and the satellites fell, as civilization became feudal and desperate.

Her father’s bombs had ended hundreds of thousands of lives and left vast swaths of wasteland across a divided country. The quarter century of political chaos, war, disease, radiation, and starvation killed off millions more. The Mad King has been dead for since before she was born. There can be no justice for the crimes he committed against this world, no trial, no sentence, no punishment.

But Cersei Lannister has just destroyed thousands with the same bombs. Tens of thousands more to come as the radiation seeps into the crops of within the fallout radius surrounding Highgarden.

She should just burn it down.

“We need more Allies...Westerosi allies.” Tyrion suggests.

“We should storm King’s Landing.” Daenerys spits back. “She just destroyed one of my allies. If I do not meet her with the full force of my army. What reason does someone have to follow me if I do not avenger her?”

“If you win, you’ll be seen as an occupying force and the rest of the South will turn against you. Ellaria’s hold on Dorne was… shaky at best. With her and Tyene captured, likely killed, they would either join the remaining territories to oust you or just…”

“Try and out last the Winter… because” Tyrion prompts, eyes darting down to the small wolf figurine.

Her mouth hangs open in disbelief. He’s been drilling her on all these stupid words for weeks. Trying to see how they can incorporate it into recruitment. As if she doesn’t know. “Winter is coming” Viserys would always mock. “Drunk words spoken by Drunk Barbarians. All that matters, sweet sister, is Fire and Blood.”

He was mad.

“We have reached out to every faction and family that has not declared for Cersei. Either with messengers or through the Raven. They’ve either refused or neglected to reply.” Missandei chirps.

“Neglected to reply is polite way of saying ‘Free Men Do Not Kneel’ and disconnecting as rudely as possible.”

“Have we heard anything recently from my darling wife, Varys? At her side Missandei makes a face and Daenerys rolls her eyes. Tyrion says it as a joke, but… its not quite as funny as he’d like it to be.

“Nothing Direct. There was a rather grisley incident several months ago at the Twins…” Varys pauses “A massacre. Poisoned Wine by the look of it. The only survivor was Walder Frey’s latest wife who claims that someone held a knife to her throat and said ‘Winter came for the Freys.’ Interestingly Walder Frey’s body was not found, nor was either of his sons.”

“That doesn’t sound like the Jon Snow, I know” Tyrion answered.

“Ten years is a long time” Varys counters. “Commander Jon Snow may not be the man you knew.

“Commander…? Last time I saw him, we were pissing off the edge of the wall”

At her side Missandei makes a face and Daenerys rolls her eyes. Not all soldiers are as well-mannered as her Unsullied. Drogo and and his Bloodriders weren’t. They lived roughly, played roughly...loved roughly.

“There’s been little word out of the North. In addition to what Melisandre told us, all I have to go on are rumors from traders at White Harbor. I don’t have eyes in Winterfell, but the little I do know is not encouraging. Petyr Baelish was executed shorty after they retook the North from Bolton control. Robin Arryn has disappeared. They are militarizing, quickly, quietly, heavily. Recruiting Wildlings from Beyond the Wall. The Wolves of the North are preparing for war and winter is coming.”

Melisandre. The witch had come ashore shortly after they arrived. Seeking safe passage back to Volantis. She had nothing helpful to add, only confirmed what they already knew. That the North had seceded from Westeros and that Martial Law was in effect, with Jon Snow as Commander in Chief.

The only other thing she told them was a half whispered prophecy. “The Old Gods of the North are Awake.”

“They won’t come here.” Jorah spoke for the first time this meeting. “Northerners don’t fare well down south. The last three Commanders of the Northern Front died when they went south.”

“So we go to them. Dragonstone is no longer safe. Especially if there are wildfire is in play.” Tyrion poured himself another glass of wine.

“Surely she wouldn’t detonate a warhead this close to King’s Landing. It would poison the fishing in Blackwater Bay. She’s already destroyed thousands of acres of crops in the Reach, surely she’s smart enough to know she can’t cut off another food supply.” Daenerys prompted. “People will riot.”

“Unfortunately Daenerys...the people of King’s Landing tend to be more interested in the drama of the crown rather than the actions of it.”

She rubs the line of her palm furiously with her opposite thumb. The rough texture of calloused skin where she grips Drogon’s handlebars helps her think. “Be a Dragon.”

A Dragon would rage and burn the Red Keep down in a wrath of fire and blood.

That is not the kind of Dragon she wants to be.

So she gives her order to reach out their last potential ally and if this doesn’t work, she may need to rethink her campaign. Revolution is hard, conquest is easy. And she wants to break the wheel. She understands what Tyrion is doing. This approach. Trying to take Westeros as peaceful as possible. Try and avoid bloodshed. Win people over to her side with the promise of bright future.

Its avoiding the war. Trying to navigate around the inevitable. They had tried that Mereen and it had all ended with fire and blood anyway. This war will end the same.

It's tempting. To just get on with it so she can finally… do what she truly wants to do. Rebuild and Revolutionize Westeros so that when her family name dies with her, the good may cancel out the bad.

She needs to think. She wants to fly.

When they arrived almost a year ago, Dragonstone had been abandoned. The thin strip of land that connected it to the mainland of Westeros had not been maintained for years and fearing the hurricanes that frequent the area, people fled. And the stone fortress abandoned by Stannis Baratheon and the Coming Dawn was open for her to claim. As well as a few sparse antique shreds of her family's history. Books mostly. Things too valuable to be destroyed.

But the greatest thing about this fortress was how her family had built it for their dragons. There was a landing strip and hangar waiting for her and Drogon. All the tools and supplies she and her Bloodriders would ever need to modify their mounts.

Drogon’s original frame had been a wedding gift from the Khal. A tricycle with a ferocious roar in its engine. What what made him fly was the Valyrian Jet Engine, Illyo Mopatis had given her. Rusted, ancient scrap from the still smouldering ruins of Valyria. She had spent months cleaning it, repairing them it, restoring it, especially when she was pregnant.

And then Death payed for life. Birthing her dragon in Drogo’s pyre. Roaring to life in her hands. The mysteries of fire and blood revealed and Life and Fire fueling its flight.

Her hands drift low on her stomach as she moves across the landing strip. Her Bloodriders are racing the length of it and the smell of burning rubber on old pavement brings a smile to her lips and pulls the weight away from her heart.

“yer dothrae ven chiori foz” she shouts jeering at the winner. He turns to her and issues a challenge and she accepts gladly and her riders reset the race as she retrieves Drogon. Its a useless challenge, on the ground Drogon is too heavy to outrun her riders. But in the air...he is far too fast to even race. But this is about them seeing her fly.

She used the steel frame of Khal Drogo’s bike to build the wings, after his death...after she killed him. Her fingers trace the fading tattoo on her wrist, a sun and a line of stars circling her wrist like a bracelet. He had had all the phases of the moon. A raiders wedding ring.

Jorah had given her the Dragon’s head that sits above her front tire. A flame thrower mounted it it open mouth. The thrill of flying over the slavers at Yunkai and Meereen, spitting fire, the twin mini guns mowing down enemies, the memory starts the adrenaline coursing through her veins. The high of it a welcome change from the frustration she felt because of her advisors, because of the War, because of Westeros.

Her boot kicks the engine to life beneath her, and she snaps her goggles over her eyes. Drogon’s massive wings are upright, folded neatly along her sides. At the line, they challenge and jock at each other, revving engines and swapping insults and she lets out a laugh as Drogon roars beneath her.

And then one of her blood shoots into the air and they are off.

The wind whips past her face and she can feel loose tendrils of her silver hair fluttering behind her. The other riders zip past her, maneuvering for position in a tight cluster. As they pass, she trips her accelerator and watches her speedometer steadily rise, as she shifts between gears. The dial passes a bright line she has marked, her target speed for takeoff. And with the pull of a small lever against her left leg, the wings slide out, locking into place.

The difference is immediate as the tires start to rumble and bounce, as the lift under the wings begins to swell. She trips another lever, this one forcing the small Valyrian engines to spin and suck air under and through.

And just before she overtakes her riders, Daenerys feels it. The bounce that meant she is no longer tethered to the earth. The one that meant she was free.

The wheels stopped seeking traction on the ground and retreated up under the wings as the Jet Engine caught the current and took Drogon to the sky.

Gods it felt good to fly. She switches her footing from the pedals to the stirrups she used to control the blades of the wings. She gave the right one a long press and her dragon slowly turned toward the open sea.

It was a beautiful day, despite all that had happened. The sun warmed her face despite the cold rush of sea salt air as it slowly began to set over the mainland of Westeros. Sunsets are beautiful everywhere. But this view, up here with the lowest clouds softly diffusing the light, this view is all hers. She’s the only person to see the world from this high up in over a century.

She lands before it gets too dark to see the dark brutalist fortress against the dark black of the sea

“Will you meet with her, Jon…?” Tyrion says as she passes by the C.I.C.

“I’ll think about it.” the voice on the others side is rough, male, with that distinct accent that she’s only ever heard when Jorah gets emotional.

“He’ll think about it?” she sneers.

“Would you like to try and convince him to bring a Dragon to him to his home?” he rolls his eyes.

“I’ll think about it.”

She’s alone when it truly hits. Wildfire. The fall of the Dragons. This weapon that her ancestors unleashed on this world.

Dragons plant no trees.

Even though she’s not the one using it, Her actions have led to another flash of green fire. A light so bright that it extinguishes all others. Thousands dead. Olenna Dead. They were so close. And now she may lose.

Because she didn’t want to burn another city.

Its late when Tyrion comes for her. A gentle knock low on the large door. The message is one word.

“Alone”

She can hear the protests in her mind before he or her the other members of her council voice them. Jorah telling her it's not safe. Tyrion listing the multitude of sins her family has committed against the Starks. Varys repeating the grisly details of the Frey’s murder. Grey Worm’s threats of Bravado, and Missandei looking at her with pleading eyes.

Be a Dragon.

A Dragon has nothing to fear from Wolves.