By David Page
Эписоде 14 the Courtship of Jena Makarov Progs 1161-1172
(Image from Simon Frasers defunct Nikolai Dante Site)
Story: The imminent marriage of Jena and Deriabin is being hyped as the wedding of the century. A procession through the streets of New Moscow is cheered by the people…because they are being forced to do so at gunpoint. Vlads such a nice guy. Julianna argues with Jena, saying she should marry for love, someone such as Nik…but Jena won’t even let Dante’s name be said. She is marrying for the good of the Empire. The Tsar says he has appointed another bodyguard for Jena. The Imperial party is attacked by a trio of neo-communists; they are dispatched by Jena’s new bodyguard Nikolai Dante!
If Jena is killed, the Romanov’s will be blamed. Dante will probably die for Jena because he loves her, even if he doesn’t not know it yet. Yes the appointment of Dante is just a dick move to screw with the Romanovs…Vlad is such a nice guy. The marriage to Deriabin will irrevocably consolidate the Tsar’s power, making the Romanov claim to the throne redundant.
At the Imperial Palace in St Petersburg Jena wakes up to find Dante in bed with her, enjoying the fact she sleeps in the nude. Julianna is amused by their antics. Jena goes to be fitted for her wedding dress Dante continues his jibes at her but its too much Jena attacks her own bodyguard.
Jena goes to the romantic retreat of Castle Volga until the wedding, which is guarded by the Raven Corps and state-of-the-art Bolshoi technology. Jena is housed in the suite next to Dante, but he finds Julianna waiting on his bed. Nikolai rejects her advances and pleads with Jena to call off the wedding. After several facts have leaked out they begin to argue and Dante storms out just as the castle is attacked.
Castle Volga is the scene of a terrible massacre as the Raven Corps are slaughtered. All communications and security systems fail during the attack; despite Deriabin’s assurance the castle was impregnable. Dante tries to get Jena and Julianna out safely. In the process Jena discovers her sister has been in Nikolai’s bed. Dante attacks the invaders. Their amour and corpses dissolve after death, destroying all evidence of their identity. Dante is mortally wounded by an assailant calling himself the Beast of Tunguska. He believes in nothing, least of all mercy. He kicks Dante off the top of the castle.
Julianna jumps off after him rather than stay to be raped and murdered. She rescues Dante and pulls him to safety on the riverbank. Nikolai is put under arrest to appear before a Tsarist inquisition, but there is no word from Jena’s kidnappers.
Deriabin himself is revealed as the catalyst for the abduction, making the news rather than breaking it. Jena is being held in the Tunguska Alienation Zone, Siberia, a captive of the Beast of Tunguska. He was once a noble man disgraced during a rather bloody battle (see first/last appearance) by the Tsar. He wanted to prove he was good for Jena by being as big a bastard as her dad. everything he did in that battle, every atrocity he committed was done to prove himself to Jena and the Tsar. Hawksmoore wants Jena more than ever he calls her abduction their courtship.
Dante is put on trial before the Tsar, accused of high treason for being an accomplice in Jena’s kidnapping and the slaughter of a Raven Corps regiment. Dmitri, Konstantin and Andreas attend the hearing via holo-image. Deriabin gives evidence, claiming the castle’s systems were sabotaged from within. Julianna protests, saying Dante almost died trying to save Jena. The Tsar says the case is compelling but circumstantial. He delays passing sentence for 24 hours so the Romanovs can return Jena while Dante remains safe in his custody. Dmitri says the Tsar has 24 hours to release Dante or else their houses will be at war. The Tsar puts all Imperial forces on war alert and sends Dante to the gene labs for dissection and examination. 24 hours deadlines don’t exist outside of pulp fiction…
Vlads such a nice guy….
(Pete wells covers blog…)
Dante escapes the Imperial Palace after taunting Pyre about the death of Maralis. Only one other person has ever escaped the palace and they were so badly injured they spent 25 years in a coma afterwards. Dante is about to be recaptured when Andreas intervenes. He has orders from Dmitri rescue Dante if possible, otherwise execute him and destroy the body. Dante pleads with Andreas, but his half-brother says the Romanovs don’t want to stop the war. Still, he lets Dante go after Jena (This is why I love Andreas he is so unlike his siblings…).
Jena clashes with Hawksmoore, who threatens to throw her to his men so they can take their revenge against the Tsar out on her. The Tsar mobilizes his troops and prepares them for war, where retreat requires more courage than an advance. He sends Julianna to Balmoral for her own safety.
The march to war continues. Deriabin consults with one of his underlings, Zubatov. He says Hawksmoore’s sanity seems balanced on a knife edge. Dante confronts Zubatov and demands to know the truth. Dmitri is eager for the war to start. Andreas says Dante may yet rescue Jena in time, so Dmitri has Konstantin contact Ingrid Wagner, Julianna’s lady-in-waiting. Dmitri is determined to have his war. Dante lures Hawksmoore and his men into bringing Jena to the Bolshoi Studios on the outskirts of St Petersburg, a building known as the Neon Fortress. Nikolai claims to be Sergei Zubatov, Deriabin’s right-hand man. Unfortunately for him, one of Jena’s obscene Dante billboards rather blows his cover.
Dante rescues Jena until Deriabin’s airship intervenes. Hawksmoore knocks Nikolai to the ground and is about to finish him off when Jena intervenes, pledging to do whatever he wants if Dante is spared. Hawksmoore and Jena ascend to Deriabin’s airship, leaving Dante behind on the ground. The media baron wants the war to start so the Romanovs and Makarovs can destroy each other. A media campaign will persuade the public to appoint Deriabin as the new Tsar. Dante comes to the rescue, piloting a floating billboard on a collision course into the airship. Meanwhile Julianna’s entourage is attacked. Ingrid apologies for betraying her mistress. Konstantin murders Julianna.
Hawksmoore murders Deriabin and is about to rape Jena when Dante intervenes. He sends Jena to stop the war while he fights Hawksmoore. Dante and Hawksmoore fight a truly epic battle as the airship is crashing to Earth. Jena returns to rescue Dante but he is apparently dead….
Sir Richard Hawksmoore: A nobleman who under the tsar’s rule became a complete monster. He forced children to kill their own parents. According to Raven Corps files, Sir Richard Hawksmoore and the Order of the Dragon were an elite military strike force discharged from Imperial service following the Tunguska massacre. Hawksmoore is an outlaw and possibly psychotic. The Tsar betrayed Hawksmoore, made him the scapegoat for Tunguska. Just before that battle, the Tsar had offered Jena’s hand in marriage to Hawksmoore. He has returned to collect…
Juliana markarov: Jenas younger chirpier sister. Just like her sister has a thing for Nikolai. It is nice to see that Vlads kids aren’t as bad as their father. Sadly all good things cannot survive in this series and her shock death towards the end may be the catalyst for some terrible things in the sagas future.
Payoff: Jena is behind the Dante ad campaign that plastered his genitals across the Empire. The noble houses regularly engage in negative propaganda attacks on each other. When Vlad decided Dante is the next target Jena jumped at the chance of painting him in a bad light.
Ingrid Wagners turning at the hands of Dante threatens to plunge the world into chaos…
Dante’s kill count:
Four killed (on screen at least but I only count the onscreen ones) during the massacre at the castle.
Four raven corps shot (including the pilot smooth Dante) during his escape from the imperial palace.
Seven of Hawksmoores men crushed to death by a would you trust this man sign shot down by Dante during his rescue of Jena.
Hawksmoore himself after an epic fight on an exploding dirigible
All fear Nikolai Dante crusher of lives!
Total Count 57
David’s final notes: Wow…just wow what an amazing story which combines all the best of the series in one of its longest single storylines to date. The genius of the writing makes it alternate from comical farce in its early chapters to some very dark and bleak moments as soon as Hawksmoore crashes the party. Not to be outdone by the genius writing Simon Frasers fantastic art complements the story with Jenas many facial expressions during Dantes bungled rescues complete genius.
On a personal Note. Rebellion if you are reading this…reprint the Graphic novel bearing this stories name…seriously I am disappoint that many people cannot read this due to it being out of print! This is one of the sagas most important chapters and it does not exist in book form anymore…fix this please. Thank you…oh and print DOWNLODE TALES…seriously you guys do good work in your trades but these two issues bug the hell out of me…thank you I shall step off the soapbox now.
Эписоде 14 EPILOGUE: Love and War Prog 2000
Story: Jena radios her father to say she has been rescued and there’s no need for war. She retreats to a fisherman’s shack on the Baltic coast to mourn for Dante. Three days later he bursts in. They argue, kick the crap out of each and end up making love almost destroying the shack in the process.
Jena wishes to commit herself to Dante but he is unsure, having watched everyone he loved walk out of his life and not look back or having run out on them when he was needed most. Jena says he didn’t do that to her they return back to lovemaking an apparent happy ending to their relationship stuggles of the saga thus far.
Next day they emerge to see the locals fleeing. War has already begun, they learn that the Romanovs killed Princess Julianna. Jena sickened by what she has heard leaves Dante crying in the rain: ‘We can’t run from who we are, Kolya,’ she says….
“Jena I’ve watched everyone I ever loved walk out of my life and not look back or worse I’ve ran out on them usually when they need me most…”
“You didn’t run from me Kolya,”
….Hindsight’s a bitch ain’t it? (assuming you read the last episode in a certain way)
Also a visual bit of foreshadowing which is really neat contrast the last page of this story with the last page of the second war story…
David’s final notes: holy crap….just wow. The pain, the suffering…that last page…wow. War has arrived and nothing will be the same again…ever…
Next time: The war begins…