The war had ended. The wrong people had won, as they always seemed to. The city was overrun. Citizens fled, or hid, or hunkered down and told themselves that they could work through this. For eight years the new masters of the city ruled, helped by the guards and their silent leader.
At the end of those eight years everything changed.
At sixteen minutes past five on the ninth day of the last month the leader of the guards turned on her masters. At eighteen minutes past five the current rulers of the land were seen running out of the city as if they were being chased by the wolf that ate the moon. In the two intervening minutes there had been no violence. A few people tried to fight, to be sure, but the guards stopped them, without spilling a single drop of blood. The former leaders never returned to the city although stories of them roaming the countryside, or hitching a ride on a 'ship off the planet, or founding new countries under the sea always abounded.
At twenty-one minutes past five the leader of the guard strode toward the palace, silently, followed by a mob of people trying to understand what was happening. She stopped in the courtyard before the palace and reached out toward the crowd. She stood, facing the crowd, with both hands outstretched, for another sixteen minutes. The yells of the crowd slowly grew softer, and finally all but the most hesitant whispers ceased. At thirty-seven minutes past five several other guards began walking into the palace courtyard, trickling in gradually. Each was accompanied by two or three or four very confused citizens. At forty-eight minutes past five everyone seemed to have arrived. The Captain of the Guard opened her eyes, straightened up, and called two people from the smaller group assembled behind her. A ripple of shock threaded its way through the crowd. None of the people there had ever heard the Captain of the Guard speak. They stepped forward sheepishly, unsure what they were being called for. The Captain took their hands and pulled them beside her to face the crowd.
"May I present to you your new leaders," she cried, raising the hands of the two hapless citizens, "and their congress," she continued, gesturing towards the group assembled behind her. With that said she turned toward the two newly appointed leaders and drew her sword. The two stepped back in trepidation, but the captain of the guard just kneeled before them, sword of fire pointing into the ground. The two newly named leaders looked at each other, still confused, still hapless, but the first one to be named spoke up.
"We never wanted to rule anyone," he said. "I - I suppose we will - I don't know what else we can do at this point - but please don't kneel. Nobody should ever kneel to us."
The captain of the guard smiled and stood back up. She turned to face the crowd and lifted her sword again, point up, the hilt level with the bottom of her torso, the fire throwing odd shadows around her face. She closed her eyes and stood still as a statue.
The two new leaders and their congress and their guards looked around, unsure, and then they shrugged and went on with fixing the city. There was far too much work to be done.
The captain of the guard stayed frozen in that position for a day and a night. Then she left, although no one saw her leave. She met with the congress and the two leaders, although no one but they know what she said.
The records of those few days are somewhat shaky and disorganized. The new government was still in the process of forming. But no one disputes that the next day the captain of the guard was spotted in her finest uniform, riding a plodding horse out of the city on the same path taken by the fleeing former dictators. As she left the people in the palace courtyard noticed a curious thing - the black stone floor was starting to shift and form statues. The citizens retreated hastily to watch from a safe distance, and the stone kept shifting into its figures. Eventually the scene stopped changing. The stone showed the new congress scattered around the courtyard, the two leaders in the middle, holding each other and looking out, partly scared and partly happy, over the city. In front, in the entrance to the courtyard, was a stone captain of the guard with sword upraised, as solemn and still as she had been on the day of the Bloodless Revolution. Glowing amber light was just visible behind her closed stone eyelids, just as the living captain of the guard's eyes often gleamed with stored fire.
The two new leaders and their congress ushered in a new age of democracy and prosperity. Their rule was the happiest that particular planet has ever seen, or will ever see.
The odd actions of the Captain of the Guard have passed into both history and legend. No one quite agrees what she was, save that it was fortunate that she was there in that time and place.
And it's said that if her work is ever undone, or if the statues in the courtyard are ever harmed, then the Captain will open her eyes.
None of the stories say what would happen then.
And no one is eager to find out.