The Bear Stalks
(OOC: My intro RP into Nationstates got sidetracked by a fair bit of RL ‘drama’ and my own poor coping mechanisms. So if any of you recognize my name here’s a point form of assumptions. Not entirely fair but much easier than trying to restart a thread that old. [And if you are seeing me for the first time jump straight to the IC as this will mean very little to you.
- The conference fell apart due to the involvement of the entrenched nobility. Anytime one of you foreigners offered help you were shouted down.
- The independent native population has been herded into a new series of reserves, which are not much better than the ghettos for the already conquered population.
- The health of the king as taken a turn for the worse
- The crown prince is now currying favor with the nobles by offering tracts of newly conquered land into the feudal system. ]
The crown prince strode purposefully down the halls of the castle, his heavy boots quietly received by the plush red carpets. The stone grey walls seem to be apropos to this man. A heavy woolen cloak rolls out behind him. It is large and in dark colour. The cloak itself stops before sweeping the ground, obviously perfectly tailored. It runs up his back where it meets horizontal stitching just above the bottom tips of his shoulder blades. This horizontal stitching is a lighter underlay which does not actually present itself in the rear, it did however cover his pectorals in the front. The entire cloak was pinned slightly asymmetrically over his left shoulder with a gold button the size of a baby’s fist.
His midriff was covered by a silken cloth which, had the cloak not been worn, could have been identified as a long-sleeved shirt. This shirt was held by a subtle strip of fine leather to a pair of pants made of a more rugged durable material. The pants themselves seemed to be made from a series of tanned leather patches with softer joint areas.
The soft thuds of the prince’s boots stopped at a large double door. The guard was taking a moment to fumble with the keys, it was just as well since this stop gave time for the prince’s two attaché’s to catch up. Apparently the walk was a bit two brisk since the booth looked like they were fumbling with forty pounds of paper mess. When the aides were once again abreast to the prince a sideways glance rolled over first one and then the other of the prince’s shoulders. In a hard tone the prince pointed out to the aides their folly.
“You could embrace the new technology coming into this country. A PDA, or at the very least a laptop would make your lives much easier.” The aides began to stammer a response but the prince’s attention was diverted with the opening of the large double door.
The room was an old hunting hall. Once upon a time the King would gather about his favored few nobles and the lot of them would set up a hunting expedition. The prince could remember several such instances where he was struck for failing to respect the sanctity of the room. Yes as a child this room was all but sacred, the place of men. Were the prince not such a reserved man he was sure his sphincter would have throttled itself at the memory of his beatings. ‘Beatings which never left any permanent damage.’ The prince thought with a touch of distain, as his suffering left no passing mark on this world. ‘If there were at least a tiny scar’, the crown prince thought, ‘I might be comforted by that reality. No, I have only the scars of my psyche and the tormented mind of my senile father to look at for some way to make sense of my childhood.’
Unlike the nobility of yore Otariet nobility did not believe in ‘whipping boys’. No each patriarch was trained in a manner of punishment befitting of nobility; so much pain on soft tissue, but no damage.
Like most rooms in the castle this one sported high domed ceilings. Unlike the hallways and other rooms however the walls here were an inviting wooden panel design which made a lovely warm feeling when the expansive fireplace was light. As it was the room seemed a bit dingy with all of the tobacco smoke which hung in the air from its inhabitants; inhabitants which the prince now addressed in a firm tone.
“Gentle lords I greet you good day. I must apologize in advance for the short meeting but I have other business to which I must attend.” The prince snapped his fingers and one of the attaches produced a tube from a satchel. With nimble fingers he unscrewed its cap and emptied the paper contents onto the table.
“That gentle lords is a map of the new divisions for the formerly savage territories. I trust you will see it as fair.” The lords all craned over one another, greedily assessing their new prize. As expected the smallest, in power, nobles became flustered.
“You honestly expect us to accept this?” The prince returned with a cool look.
“Yes, your Crown Prince has dictated it so.”
“I don’t believe it fairly represents everyone’s interest.”
“Then perhaps I should call court to decide?” That shut the noble up. It was true that he did have a legitimate case. The territories were designed to create competition and strife between one another. The prince merely hoped that the nobles thought he was stupid and not that he had done this to pit them against one another. That said none of them wanted to call court to settle the matter. As it stood the territory was being divided up into the hands of a few dozen of the most powerful lords in the land. Were court to be called they would need to partition off territory rights in order to appease their supporters in court. While it was possible they might be able to get more overall, none of them wanted more noble leeches at their underbelly either, political favours and all.
It was then that one of the older men, a member of the Ruzolky family, broke in with his wizened voice.
“Your majesty, I notice that certain territories are isolated from Otares proper. Will you be brokering right of passage treatise?”
“No I will not.” At this a murmur arose from the hall. The nobles were looking at the map with new skepticism now. The prince could read their faces. He was young and their obvious disdain to his youth made them careless. He watched as they began to calculate. Already they were trying to figure who they could bully, cajole, persuade, sweet talk, and or out right force through sheer military might into compliance with their will. The prince would not even begin to do his own speculations. He knew that he was sitting in a room of sharks and the prospect of pausing to collect himself, or even to pause in thought, might betray his thoughts and was akin to the absurdity of slitting ones own wrists in the water. While you might be assured of your reality, it quickens the cessation of it. Forging ahead the prince countered.
“My good sir I forget myself, the blue on this map is water. With appropriate investment you could all have functioning maritime facilities.” The Ruzolky lord balked slightly. The balk of diplomats was much more subdued then that of laymen. It’s characterized by a hardening of the eyes and a purse of the lips. In fact the pursing of the lips suggests that Ruzolky might have been very offended by this quip. The prince continued on not allowing the barb to sink in. “this is a tremendous opportunity to expand the influence of Otares and it will be you few who administer the connections our country makes. The administration of the docks will fall to you and your faces will be attached to Otares as you develop strong ties to your respective trading partners. Besides, who doesn’t like yachts?”
It was another thirty minutes of laboured dancing before the prince managed to bow out of the room. He left the sharks to their chum, confident that his newly formed agency would fill him in on the important pieces. ‘It is fairly obvious that the Ruzolkys will be a problem though.’ He lifted his head off the desk now, willing himself to the next steps that needed to be taken. He was in his office. Realistically it was his father’s office but he has usurped it, the intention was not lost on anyone. The room had its own fireplace which currently crackled away, throwing heat into the ornate grill which saddled the mantle. The heat was then diffused through the room, as for met function in the grill. The room itself had imbedded radiators in the stone which were much more effective but they lacked something. Perhaps it was the prince’s ego speaking but he felt more dominating, intimidating, and generally ‘in charge’ in this atmosphere.
His cloak had been tossed over one of the high backed chairs by the fireplace, leaving the prince’s broad frame exposed. This and the rolled sleeves, which exposed thick forearms sprinkled with a strikingly dark hair, all added to the imposing nature of the prince. With so much forethought lavished on imagery and appearance one might think that the prince appeared as contrived, but not so. Perhaps as a credit to the prince’s acting, or a statement to his nature, based on what they felt and saw no one would come to the conclusion that this was anything but a man to be feared.
“Ruzolky is going to be able to push himself onto some of the other nobles based on concessions from Otares proper. Most likely the three Darmahktres, yes their family has been suffering their fair share of internal strife. So anything they can do to build a powerbase outside that of the family will be pursued. If their instability will cause this then the only option is to stabilize the Darmahktre family.’ Before he has even concluded the thought the prince had picked up the phone and begun entering numbers.
“Sir Korieza please.”
“Korieza I am giving you an active case.”
“No, not yet. Darmahktres, is the dossier on the family complete?”
“Good. Let me hear it.”
“Right think you can take care of those?”
“No, the pests.”
“That’s right, I want you to stabilize the Darmanhktres if possible.”
“That’s all. Good bye.”
Without waiting for anything else the prince slipped the phone onto its cradle, conveniently enough at that exact moment his attaché came into the room. The same aide who had earlier that day followed him down the hall with a mountain of bureaucratic excrement now only waved one.
“Your majesty I have here the document you wanted sent out.”
“Excellent. Well?” The aide thrust it forward that the look the prince attached to that statement. Reading it through he nodded his assent and signed where appropriate.
“I’ll send it immediately sir.” With that order signed the prince went back to his work humming an ancestral Russian tune.
What was that now? The voice in his head was back.
A blanket signoff on the church’s request. It is merely going to wash out some bureaucratic backlog.
What? You can’t? The voice was alarmed now.
The Prince couldn’t quite remember when the voice has started speaking to him so freely, but it seemed to be such a natural thing that it made no matter. It was after he came back from abroad, a young man of twenty two or so. At first it seemed like the voice was an echo of his own perceptions, affirming his choices. It was when he was given political power by his father that the internal discord began to arise. The voice railed against the idea of signing warrants, the social order was not worth an innocent life. The voice conjured memories of people he knew who had been butchered by the inquisitors, the mother of one of his cousins in fact. The prince would give the voice deference at first, but it never seemed to work out just right. His father was quick to disown him privately and the Prince knew that had the ‘weakness’ continued then his father would’ve started another line and had the inquisitors do away with him on heretical charges, something the until then restrained church would have been all too happy to do. It was a quick moment in his mind. The Prince could actually feel when he ‘lost’ a piece of himself. Steeling himself against the voice at first he pressed on with his princely duties.
It was to no avail though. Overtime it got harder and harder to quell the voice. Waves of anxiety, the sound of his own racing pulse in his ears, and then finally black outs were how the voice fought back. The second coping mechanism did not reject the schism, it merely altered its basis. The Prince had decided that the voice’s opinion was what needed to be done, only its methods failed him. And so it was how the Prince of today was born; a fundamentally irrational and romantic man inside, protected by a cold veneer of logic and reasonability.
The voice was not always terribly happy with this arrangement but the Prince knew now how far he could push the voice; relegating certain aspects of the voice to the side, while allowing other to rule his life. He had in effect compromised his own free will, but the compromise was one of his own designs, so that was free will then right? To deicide where you have no free will?
The Prince shook his head slightly. He brought himself back to the present, his nostalgia could be forgotten for now. Wondering briefly if it was his voice’s romantic nature or his own regrets that brought it own the Prince sighed and resigned himself to the internal debate that could not be put off any longer.
The voice was upset because it knew that the order to clear the backlog was in effect giving the church carte blanche to declare a new inquisition and tribunal. Hundreds, thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands would be rounded up and tried for heretical behavior. The voice longed to prevent those deaths, to nurture each and every human that would suffer by the Prince’s hand, but there would be none of that.
You know why I am doing this.
For the greater good? Hah! How can you breed justice from injustice? You are planting seeds of violence and that is all you shall reap! This in unconscionable!
Am I the one who will be stepping into the streets with the cross and the gun? Am I the one who will be making sure the conviction ratio is 65%? Am I the one who will be placing the faggots? Am I the one who will be attaching the gunpowder choker? Am I the one who will be starting the fire? Am I…
You may as well be! You are loosing a plague on the world! This is abhorrent! You are signing that piece of paper knowing the ramifications of the ‘efficiency’ it calls for!
Then you cannot do it. The Prince felt his stomach knot with the faltering of his position.
Can these people be left in the church to do their bidding should I leave the throne? We have established that all it takes is the signing of a slip of paper and the clergy become bounty hunters and murderers. What happens if we leave them in place for the next King? If I do not use them I will be the first ruler who did not, and there will be no guarantee the trend will continue. The voice was silent, if for a moment to let the Prince continue. We both know that I cannot move against the church for fear of being deposed, either by the nobles or the people. This inquisition will remind the people of the terror that is the church in action. It will be a spectacular blood bath but that’s the point, we need to instill into the populace why the church needs to be firmly removed from the institutions of the state.
And the nobles?
They do deserve it you know.
How will you turn the clergy on them?
By releasing the record of assent on the tithe. They will know exactly which nobles sided with them the last time their budget was in court.
You will never let this happen ever again?
No. After this the church will have no power, the pagans will be allowed to practice their religion, and atheism will not be a capital offence. The pagans will be brought one step closer to being full citizens.
His head was quiet, for now. His shaky hand reached for a domestically made hard liquor. If one could read Otariet they would see that the bottle he now poured from read 180 proof.
The terrace was beautiful. Extremely ornate – albeit grey in construction – it was the perfect example of classic Otariet architecture. Imposing to behold and depicting history in a manner that would take a scholar to explain. If one were to take the time and deconstruct the imagery wrapped around the half circle they would see an epic of biblical proportions. Literally. Depicting a scene from one of the Otariet testaments it saw mankind struggling for its very right to exist. The entire lower border of the upright perimeter was delicately carved with nasty ghouls and devils who sought to drag humanity to their level. This was offset by the heavenly depictions that floated above on the underside of the banister. Angels reach below for the souls of humans; divine beings associating with all that which is holy. The three feet of wrought stone in the middle was a depiction of the violence of humanity as it fought its way upwards. Some welcomed the devils, while others fought vainly, and others walked down with ignorance on their faces.
And yet none of this was immediately offered to the casual observer. To anyone who did not squat next to the upright the small wall was a weave of fauna depictions. Flowery and polite it was not unless the art was subjected to scrutiny that one would realize that the epic even existed.
The prince was sitting in his newly acquired favorite place to sit. It was a patio chair made by a local artisan. The chair was plain – with a wood frame and a simple bit of padding and upholstery. It was not however the chair that made the area draw the prince though. No the prince had studied the epic on this terrace many a time and he had found one piece of it that he could not be drawn away from.
It was a depiction of a man. Wrapped in the tentacles of hell and struggling valiantly. At first it had looked like any of the other depictions of human moral quandary – but something was special about this one. The prince had actually noticed because he spent so much time looking at the depictions of heaven. It was one of those times that he noticed it. A lot of the Angles sympathetic glances converged and when the prince had actually taken the time to see where they intersected he realized that they watched one person. And then another realization had overtaken him.
Three different tool bit types were used to create the epic – one for each realm. There was a definitive line where each realm laid and that was attested to by the chose in tools. Heaven had much finer lines and by the time the depiction of the devils was done there was a coarse – almost vulgar – appearance to the work. Here though – around this one individual – all three tool bits were used. The man and his aura were made using the divine – while the tentacles which had engulfed him were coarsely done and ugly. And of course because this took place in the middle realm the area was done entirely in the mid range bit – for the other mortals.
At first the prince had thought this to be a pessimistic message about the pervasion of evil – fallen angels and all of that. It wasn’t until he had come back to it – some time later – that he had noticed the point the artisan was portraying. The man was not struggling valiantly against the tentacles. No it almost seemed as if he had accepted his damnation. This man struggled valiantly to free others from tentacles. This man forced others towards heaven – all the while making him too tarnished to enter. This was no fallen angel, this was a man who could no abide the damnation of others – irrespective of his own fate. And what was more while this man seemed damned to hell he had engendered to him divine sympathy – and perhaps gratitude.
The prince was so comforted by this image that he sat by it often now. In fact he had dragged this comfortable lounger over to it. And so the prince sat by this image – taking solace in that perhaps his own deals with the devil might be understood someday. As it was he merely sat - taking comfort in the artwork about him.
Today he had brought a laptop with him. Sporting a plasma screen and numerous other facets of modernity it was something that he hoped some day might pervade his nation. As it was the crown was the largest owner of computer technology in the country. And until the people were brought to speed he imagined this would be the case for some time. Irregardless of his realization of his privilege the prince was fixated on the information before him.
The data was reports on the activity of the church. His agents had infiltrated the organization and right now he was comparing their official reports to him to the reports garnered by his agents. From what he could tell the church was moving cautiously. Their requests for an inquisition had never stopped but the flowery language and passion had. No one expected the liberal prince to assent to such an endeavor – they only asked out of formality. And now that the prince had assented they were unsure of how to act. The zealots were chomping at the bit – raring to throw heathens into the pits of hell. The clergy as a whole reacted more moderately. They were biding time – preparing the manner in which they would strike. The logic – as the prince’s agents understood it – was to put as many people under the inquisition as possible in short order. That way even if he – the liberal prince – got cold feet they would have still cleared out a significant number of heretics. The prince’s stomach had knotted at this, and the prognosis of his agents. The church was playing into his hand nicely but he could not usher from his head the images of people being crucified in the street.
Tossing back the remainder of what was in his glass he stood and walked to the bar – which was closer to the centre of the terrace instead of near the side where he stood. Stumbling for a moment the prince caught himself on the back of a chair that he was passing mid transit. His mouth had gone dry and he felt sick. The statistical projection his agents presented him with was unnerving to say the least. Finishing the walk to the bar he stooped to open lower cupboard. Most Otariet liquor was served at room temperature and this drink was no exception. Pouring the dark liquid he could already see the obfuscations rolling off the glass – evaporating alcohol. At 180 proof the drink would knock most onto their ass. For the Otariet ruling class it was consumed like a fine wine – slowly but in large quantity. Perhaps it was due to the pessimistic nature of their culture – or the oppressive nature of their society – but for whatever the reason Otariets were alcoholics more often than naught. This had two immediate affects on the people as a whole. Their tolerance to the deleterious effects of alcohol was much higher than the human norm – and their healthcare system saw more kidney cancer and liver failure than American hospitals saw heart attacks. And while the pattern of drinking altered with the social status of the Otariet in question the likeliness of alcoholism did not. Every Otariet drank. From the ignorant peasant, to the self destructive intellectual, to the hedonistic noble, to the hard nosed businessperson.
And now the Otariet prince took a much appreciated sip.
Twirling the cap back on and replacing the bottle the prince slowed as he closed the cupboard. Hearing the click of the cabinet hinge he turned to rest the small of his back on the high counter – now behind him. Holding his drink by his face – letting its aroma wash over him – with his right hand he crossed the left across his torso. Pulling the lower section of his pectoral muscles into his ribs he hugged himself – his left hand pulling his right elbow into his side to complete some feeling of security.
Staring out over his property he looked towards the hamlet of his mother’s birth. A small town nestled into the mountains. Taking another sip he wondered what his life would have been like if his father had never claimed him for royalty - if he had been left in squalor and in the loving home of his mother – if he had been an artisan instead of a statesman – if he had married a poor peasant girl and raised a family – if he had never toured abroad – if he had never…
Letting his thoughts trail off in his mind the prince found himself mumbling the report creator’s synopsis of the situation:
“The church has begun the inquisition in small towns and hamlets. This will not amount to more than a few convictions as the church power base is still strong here. The main focus of their inquisition will in fact be the cities. With so much political power entrenched into the feudal system the church has lost the loyalty of the urban peasants.
“To rectify this the church will come down hard on those peasantry associations which compete for non-political loyalty. This will include trade unions, concerned parents groups, tea circles, and any organization which does not directly involve itself with the church. The church – and we concur – expect the greatest resistance from the cabals of marketers which have arisen. And so they will be struck – with unions – the hardest.
“The church is also planning on making many properties ‘desecrated ground’ to combat the growth of the market class. This will avoid those pieces of property which have been granted dispensation from nobles.
“It will take some time for the church to organize but we can expect to see their efforts at rhetoric ramp up in the next few days. This should shame into silence the worst abuses by the nobles. This will then give the church the impetus to ignore that class.
“Best estimates suggest that the inquisition will begin in earnest in four days time. We expect to see massive detainments and rapid summary executions. Orders for the wood needed for the fires and crosses are already flooding in.
“The first wave is expected to die down after three days. We expect to see: in excess of eighty million arrests, seventy five thousand crucifixions, a million burnings, and four million public executions.
“It is expected that such expenditure will bankrupt the church. Because it is not expected that you will allow the inquisition to continue they have made no plans beyond the initial push. Contingency plans from the last king would be the protocol. (see attached manifesto for more information.) this would however require an outside investment to continue. We may have to consider funding this inquisition to make it have any sustained presence.”
The prince balked and then rushed to the terrace banister. Dropping his glass somewhere en route he caught himself on the edge – his stomach contents continuing over the railing though.
You are going to kill in three days almost as many Otariets as Hitler killed Jews in his entire life. Taste the bile. It is only the least of what you will taste.
A loud gulp filled the back of the limo as the prince threw a shot of water into his mouth to down the small pill – he needed to settle his stomach. It had been little more than a week since that day on the terrace and most everything that the prince’s agents had predicted had come to pass. Which is why he needed the pill to settle his stomach.
The limo slowly made its way through the streets of the capital – from court to the castle just outside of the city. The city had never been so dead that the prince could remember. Normally bustling and lively with people the streets were all but deserted. The prince could not blame them. The only reason the limo went so slowly is because the driver was so distracted by the sides of the avenue. As frequent as every other street light stood crosses and upon these hung men and women in various states of death and dieing. The entire street stank of shit. The prince was not sure if this was because those who had died loosed their bowels – leaving bloody shit streaks down the ominous wood of the cross – or because the birds had begun opening the entrails of those who were first crucified.
The avenue the limo rolled down was the main through-fare of the city. Wide with two divided lanes in either direction it was always a good sampling of the Otariet capital. Not two weeks ago one could take this through-fare and see merchants, shoppers, tourists from local regions, and pagans walking the streets. This through-fare was a play reel of diversity and emerging modernity. It sampled the classic architecture and highlighted the new developments. Today it was still a good sampling. Only today it offered up a myriad of death, destruction, and the leavings of systematic and violent persecution.
The limo signaled left and entered a rotary, changing to a westerly direction. As it rounded the rotary the prince could hear the driver empty his stomach – his disgust too much to bear. Leaning forward the prince flicked a small switch – bringing up the privacy glass which shielded the VIP compartment from the sight and sound of the driver. The prince had been uncomfortable enough with the driver’s weeping. He didn’t need to smell his lunch too – else the prince mimic his disgorging. Leaning back into the comfortable seat the prince sighed – his mind recounting the events at court that day.
Today court was abuzz with a flurry of questions about the inquisition. No one had any idea that this was going to be done. The prince had offered up a defence of the church – speaking to their holy nature and their right to do God’s bidding. The court had seemed shocked – but none of them would question it. The church was not targeting nobles and no noble wanted to be the first to incur the wrath of the church. And so the prince had played the part. Speaking to the glory of his father’s reign and the inquisition his father’s father had initiated. He had played the part effortlessly and it was only now in reflection that he had wanted to be sick. He’d avoided breakfast for just this reason.
Reaching to his pocket kerchief he dabbed the material in the water pitcher. Moving the wet cloth to his face he began removing the makeup. It was important to look the part of the stalwart defender of the faith. And his face – a product of three sleepless nights – was not that. No the last few nights saw him tossing and turning and reading every report as it came in. Were he his father he would’ve called a confessor and spoke of his sins to the clergy – somehow he didn’t think that would be helpful or appropriate in this instance. The last of the face paint removed his thoughts again moved to court – and the other unexpected thing that had happened. A minor noble by the name of Natalya Aleksandrov had stood to address court on new business. Everyone one was surprised – except the prince. No one was there for new business they were there for the inquisition. Nothing else was on anyone’s mind and this minor noble wanted to address court on new business it was absurd.
It was not so absurd if one knew – like the prince – that she was approached by an emissary of the church. The emissary was truly an agent of the church – but the young man was a double agent. Working for the interests of the prince the agent had approached the noblewoman and told her of the church’s budgetary woes. He identified himself as a low clergyman and explained how he was training in the treasury. The church would not say anything but they needed money he further explained to her. And she – a devout Christian – emptied her family’s vaults and vowed to address court. And so she did. Shaming the rest of the nobles the tax of nobility was raised a full three percent – the proceeds going straight to the divine treasury for the purposes of the inquisition.
And so the prince had solved the budget problem of the church and the inquisition raged on – albeit at a diminished pace.
How much is democracy worth? How much is racial equality worth? How much is the safety from the fear of persecution worth? How much is freedom worth? Five million plus and counting.
Should I have let history take its course? Could I have lived with myself if I was merely a progressive prince, to be proceeded by who knows what? Can I live with myself now?
Why are you doing this then?
Because my conscience would not let me live with the idea that I might have been able to offer peace and security to a billion people and their descendants
Then as a matter of conscience could you do anything else?
No… what if history judges me poorly.
Then you will have given them the liberty to do so. Should you fail they will not even have the freedom to question these events. If Otariet history judges a member of the Otariet royal family poorly then you have given them more freedom then they have ever known.
Why are you being so nice to me.
You need it.
You’re never nice to me.
And you have never been so close to the brink of insanity.
Insane? No not yet.
Will I be?
Do you think your soul will survive the blood bath that is to come? Can you walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil? Can you sit at that table in front of your enemies?
Are you setting that table for me? Am I protected by your rod and your staff?
No silly – I am the enemy in front of which your table is set.
There is no shepherd for you. There is no house of goodness. God has rejected you – if you survive this journey it will be by your own strength of character.
If I bear this trial then will I be welcome in the house of God? Will you leave me? Will I know peace?
You do know that you have rejected God. You no longer walk that valley – you are a shadow within it. You are become death…
Then why do I bother?
We have already determined that though – Your conscience won’t let you do otherwise.
I see… Then will insanity be my only rest?
That is the question isn’t it?
(out of curiosity is anyone reading this? I am doing this more for me to point back at and say ‘there look at my work’. I merely ask because I like feed back too…)
oh, and bump.
The prince glanced into his rearview mirror. He’d outpaced his escort long ago – but he still looked. His eyes sashayed to the side views before they centred back on the road ahead. The road was curving sharply ahead of him and he knew he had to slow down. Placing his right hand on the stick shift protruding from the centre column he felt the vibration in the drive train. He always used that as the judge. If a person gets a feel for their vehicle – if they are in the zone so to speak – the RPM gauge and noise becomes meaningless. You can actually feel what the transmission can handle.
His left foot rose from the mat and came down swiftly on the clutch – mirrored by his right foot lifting from the gas. Has hand now gripped the stick, his fingers cupping slightly under the weighted sphere at the top. His index and middle finger on one side –his right and pinky on the other. Pushing forward he felt the pad of his hand - at the base of his thumb – go plush on the knob. The transmission was like velvet. Like shifting through water – it almost felt like the stick was being drawn up and into his hand. Moving his arm forward – his hand still cupping the knob – he slid the stick forward from sixth to fifth. As soon as the car was in gear he began releasing the clutch – slowly. The car began to slow as the lower gear provided resistance – and with no power from the engine driving it forward. Once it felt right he dropped the gear again – from fifth to fourth. The car made a satisfying ch-chnk noise as he brought the stick down, towards him, and down again. Releasing the clutch again this time he stepped on the gas. Putting the RPMs up he felt the threshold and sink the movement of his two feet together. No over revving, and no jerk – he loved it when he did that. You wouldn’t think that after years of driving anyone would still think of how they shifted. The prince just smiled every time he made the perfect shift – it was almost as if endorphins were linked to the efficient operation of a performance vehicle.
The vehicle itself was a foreign import. Then again anything that was modern and desirable generally was. The Otariets specialized in hard machinery – weapons – and the cruder stuff. Tractors and trucks were the Otariet specialty. The prince knew his people had it in them to build such things – but the current distribution of wealth did not support a consumerist economy. The car though was worth the import hassle thought the prince. Sadly it used a fuel which octane rating was so high it too needed to be imported – but again he didn’t mind.
Low to the ground and sleek the car was a deep blue that made people want to look at it. Possessing a richness of colour most would find desirable this car was a rare sight in the dreary Otares. Its chrome wheels glinted in the sun, wrapped in performance rubber tires. The car looked like a predator. Its hood gave way for the modified engine. The prince had the body altered to allow him to drop a new engine in and allowing him to do some of his own mechanic work. Now peeking from the centre of the ergonomically designed hood – in the middle of its central dip, as it raises out from the windshield like it is clutching the headlamps – was the intake for a supercharger. A rectangular little contraption it was the only real outside evidence that the car had undergone extensive modification. The other indicators were in performance tweaks: Five charges of nitro, the tuned suspension, the weight reduction kit, the alterations to the computer firmware controlling the distribution of power to the wheels, the turbocharger that kicked in at RPMs higher than six thousand five hundred, et cetera. The car itself was a many a thing: a transport, a hobby, and a piece of art not but a few of them.
What are you doing? The prince winced – the voice was back. Pushing on the accelerator the RPMs rose and he shifted up a gear. He was hopeful that he could leave this problem behind like most of the others. It worked for a moment – the prince was concentrating more on the road and not flying off it then the voice. But like most attempts to ignore the voice this one was temporary at best – the road straightened out and the car barreled down the highway with little input from the prince. You can’t ignore me. Gritting his teeth the prince put more speed on – maybe the engine would drown the voice out. Now when the prince maneuvered about the narrow turns he could feel the power distribution in the wheels change – the computer compensating for his behavior. Yep; you’re a fraud. You talk about the people and their rights. How you seek to do this for them – yet here you are. You do realize that this car costs almost ninety times the median income of an Otariet? And here you are consoling yourself with the milk of the very teat you seek to crush. Tsk Tsk.
Ah, you feel the need to talk to me now do you?
The people need what I am doing.
Patronize much? You’re a great monarch – your doing for those who are less than you.
That’s not it.
No? Do you even know one person who is going to benefit from this?
Yes Baan –
Oh your pagan half cousin? The man who got to see the few remaining free members of his once proud nationality subjugated under you? The car was in its final gear now – and climbing the RPMs there. The prince put his foot down – just a little further – and the turbo charger kicked in. The car was now moving down the highway faster than he could really react to. At more than 300kph his only savior was that this straight away lasted for quite some time.
An interesting thought that didn’t enter his mind was the name of one of the workers who built this highway. This was obviously due to the fact that the two had never met. If – however – Sergei Ivanov and the crown prince had ever met then perhaps the crown prince would not be having the war of self he was now trying to outrun. Sergei was a simple man - the descendant of peasantry. It was due to his status of birth that Sergei had laboured on the highway. An electrician by trade Sergei – like every other peasant – owed two days of every week to his lord. Or more specifically – as the feudal system had made certain allowances for modernity – fifty hours a month. With these fifty compulsory hours Sergei was given free access to police and fire services. The labour of the other five days a week was to secure enough money to afford whatever else was needed.
Sergei’s partner – Demona – offered up her services to the lord by increasing the population base. This meant that Sergei was the proud father of fourteen children; eight of which were daughters. Demona cared for the property and the children. She also worked outside the home as a harpsichord instructor. Sergei never understood why – his labour always brought enough income in to provide for the family comfortably. Demona had merely insisted that she felt much better when she could be productive as well. And when she explained it like this Sergei understood – his own craft bringing him much joy. Yet he was always forgetful when she came home fuming about noble children who were too spoiled to take her – a common born woman – seriously.
Right now Sergei was jolted by the elevator opening up on his floor.
The Ivanov’s lived on the ninth floor of a tenement that was administered to by a young lord named Grigori Aleksandrov. Lord Aleksandrov was a bit of a simple man. In fact the rumour of the tenement was that his father had taken his daughter in a night of incestuous passion which – within nine months – produced a son that was not quite right. But old Grigori was the son an important noble and had to administer something. So a large tenement was declared to be a fief in and of itself. This meant the Lord Aleksandrov was little more than a rent collector for his brother – but it gave Grigori a title and his brother one less tenement of peasants to deal with and still benefit from.
Sergei stepped off the elevator – solemly nodding to a neighbour – on the ninth floor. This put Sergei face to face with Lord Aleksandrov.
“M-m-my lord excuse me.” Sergei genuflected while tossing himself aside. This meant that he smacked resoundingly into the wall but he knew it was better than the alternative. Lord Aleksandrov was temperamental – and not in a cranky way. It was simply one more thing in a long line that lead people to believe that he was not ‘right’. As it was the smack noise had caught Grigori’s attention.
“You. You piss ant touched the walls.” Sergei looked over his shoulder at the dirty wall – no different from its brushing. If any thing it was cleaner for it.
“I meant no disrespect sir – only to move out of your way.” The lord began shaking on the spot – as if a great anger had come over him.
“You banged my walls! They are my walls and I am the lord of the residence and I am your lord and what I say goes because I am your lord and that is that.”
“Yes my lord. Not a day goes by that I do not think about what it means to have you as my lord.” Sergei smirked inwardly at that one.
“Right so you just know that.” It was almost as if a switch had flicked. As quickly as a visible shaking rage had over taken him it left – and the lord grabbed the elevator door to go.
It was only a moment later before he was in his five bedroom apartment. It was so very dreary – all the blinds had been closed for days; ever since the boulevard below had become littered with crucifixes. Demona could not stand to look at it and he could not truly blame her.
(OOC: I will tie this character in better. I just wanted to post something.)
Sergei looked into the mirror – his eyes dull as he tied the small ribbon around his neck. The ribbon was a common accessory to the Otariet peasantry. This green silk with a series of small emblems on the tips denoted his station in life. The green recognized that he was bound to the Gahron family – the symbols on the tips denoted specifically which lord he was bound directly to. And who his lord owed fealty to. The ribbon was not the only example of finery. Today was Saturday – the day of worship for Otares – and many put on their fineries to attend mass.
With the finishing touches finally accomplished Sergei turned to see how far along his partner was. Looking at her sitting on the bed – half dressed – his lips tugged sideways. It was the closest to a smile his face had been in some time.
“Lover I do not think that the parishioners will appreciate seeing your hosiery. I on the other hand…” Sergei trailed off. His voice carried no mirth – leaving the jest dry and more like an awkward deadpan. Demona looked up at him – worry colouring her eyes.
“I am troubled partner.” Segei took the three steps from the closet to the bed, where he sat down.
“About what my love?”
“Should we go to church today? Especially after…” She didn’t need to finish, Sergei knew what she meant. In fact he was grateful that she spared him hearing it again. Sergei’s cousin – a father of three – had been taken by the inquisitors. He had of course done nothing wrong, but with the inquisition in place he did not meet the burden of proof – and so he was crucified. Sergei didn’t know where exactly his body hung but he could not bear thinking of it. The man who was once a loving, god fearing, father of three had outlived his children – who died in the church siege – and saw his end on a cross on a public road. Segei knew nothing beyond the fact that he was the 82,314th to be put to death on the cross. He also knew that if his cousin had gone quietly he would’ve rotted in a jail cell instead of being nailed to the holy wood – but the inquisitors were harsh in enforcing obedience. This was exactly why he answered his partner as he did.
“Demona it is more important now than ever that we go to mass. They will be expecting us and if we do not go questions will be asked. Questions about our faith, about our loyalty, and…” Demona cut him off harshly.
“Don’t you think I know that? But what of your cousin?” Sergei’s face stung – like her words had slapped him.
“My cousin would not wish anyone in his family to suffer a crucifixion – and if that means time in church then I shall go.” The tension hung in the air. Demona merely began dressing wordlessly.
ooc: I remember you, and you've been doing very good work. Just finished reading up to this point.
ooc: I remember you, and you've been doing very good work. Just finished reading up to this point.
(What do you remember me from if you don’t mind me asking?)
(After a minute more of looking I found you too. Lol my first thread. This is technically open if you’d like. I refuse to let this one die like I did the other. That said I am putting more work into it – so there might be lag times)
[OOC: Who is this open to, exactly? :)
You might want to look here (http://ns.goobergunch.net/wiki/index.php/Category:Iluvauromeni_Commonality_of_Everlasting_Light) before deciding if my nation is appropriate for involvement.
And very nice so far. :)]
Ambassador Vilur Ling smiled faintly as she commandeered the satelite time. "Yes, I need it," she had insisted.
"Yes, I need it," was repeated at least nine times before she actually got the satelite time, of course.
In the end, it only took a few minutes. The satelite confirmed, however, the precise coordinates. Without those, the message would be read by nobody.
The messenger drone was not spectacularly sophisticated. And, contrary to popular belief, most are delivered - not self-launching. In this case, the messenger drone was delivered via IDSS Nobility, Honour, Valour, a small destroyer which happened to be in the right position.
Fired into the atmosphere directly, the drone's heat shielding soon completed it's task by becoming, effectively, a collection of aerosol particles shot up and away from the drone itself. Small thrusters - exposed to terrific heat and thus almost immediately shutting down after firing - give tiny bursts to readjust it's course by the minutest margin.
The drone proves itself quite resistant to the heat of re-entry (or in this case, entry): it doesn't explode.
Instead, it slows down, arriving at one point eight kilometres altitude at a speed of one hundred thirty knots. Within the hour - broadcasting the standardized Iluvauromeni Diplomatic Corps assertion of neutrality and peace - it should enter the airspace of Otares.
Presuming nobody shoots it down first.
The message explains, beyond the basic 'we come in peace':
"...we have determined that the deployment of this drone is less intrusive than an outright radio signal and/or more safe than deployment of diplomats. Please see instructions printed on the exterior shell upon arrival at the most major governmental building we could discern from public information. Our thanks for your understanding in this matter."
[OOC: Essentially, you can have the drone arrive anywhere that would be apt and would be easily-found-out-about by roving diplomatic eyes. This particular drone is a low-tech variety - just a UAV, essentially, with an electronic lock and a small data disc inside.]
(Ah yes. Perhaps I should have been more specific than hmm? To rephrase – this thread is open to modern and slightly post modern nations. I notice that you have holdings near the asteroid belt in space – as well as low earth orbit holdings. This is acceptable so long as you’re still working under the premise of Newtonian physics. I think a good rule of thumb would be that it should take somewhere between three weeks to a couple of months to reach Commonality Sol Orbital of Vilya Elenosto. This is not because I don’t want high tech people rolling over my nation – but that it would change the world too much for my RP.
The other point is your paranormal citizens. Some subtle introduction of psionics/magic is acceptable but it should not figure prominently in your writing in my thread. If at some later time you want to have a thread introducing magic to my nation on a larger scale that is plausible but see the above caveat regarding technology. Most of my citizens would accept non-humans with few misgivings, though I do have a church that preaches a variant of Christianity which might see some zealots rejecting non-humans for not falling into the genesis story.
Other than that you’re more than welcome to react to me ICly. I realize that I have not made any open invitations ICly but I will do my best to respond to you in stride. I forewarn you though official government delegations might get a bit of a run around – what with me quietly committing genocide.)
[OOC: Just so you know... I edited the post as I said I would. :)]
(OOC: I will not let this thread die, no matter how busy my real life gets. Sorry for the wait anyone who is reading this and Ma-tek who decided they would give me a second try.)
Sergei sighed. The mass was long – longer than normal. Before the priests felt some compunction to end at a decent time, with the inquisition in effect there was no such compunction. No one coughed inappropriately, no one shuffled, and no one dared check their watch. And with this new freedom granted to them the church took the expression ‘day of worship’ to its literal operation. Mass began before sun up, stopped for lunch, and continued until sun down.
Sitting on the hard pews all day had left aches in Sergei’s joints. He was not as fit a he use to be. He imagined that it was quite hard on the children as well, but they all dozed at awkward angles. He thanked the father above that their strict upbringing had instilled the formality of mass into them, they never missed a cue to cross themselves, bow, kneel, or stand. His family didn’t need anymore attention, the inquisitors were already watching. The incident with his cousin had cast suspicion on everyone in the family. He was worried about his other family members but dared not speak ill of the church on the phone lines. The obvious sounds of a poor quality line tap pervaded the conversation. A man of technical know how and a problem solver by nature Sergei had to catch himself on more than one occasion – he almost offered his would be spies technical advice.
These thoughts plagued him as he walked the dark street. He needed to clear his head before bed, and the walks always used to help him. The church had taken down a stretch of crosses and he knew the route well. Apparently carrion eaters disgust priests eventually too. The route was a deadly quiet. Appropriate considering if one didn’t know where to walk they could turn a corner and find themselves staring down another row of crucified corpses. Sergei shuddered at that thought. But what he heard next made him freeze.
“Stop heathen!” Sergei froze but he soon realized that the shout was not directed at him. Slipping to the side of a building he peeked down a dark alley.
The sounds of a scuffle permeated the small concrete alcove. With some difficulty Sergei could now make out four men wearing the robes of the inquisitors. At their feet was the bloody body of a young woman. With darker skin Sergei could see why she was stopped, she looked native. The body moaned and stirred, apparently only rendered temporarily unconscious by the blows of her pursuers. Her stirring caught her another swift kick to the side that made her yelp. Snapping upright from the pain her hair was caught in the gloved hand of the inquisitor. His arm tensed and the inquisitor dead lifted the woman by the hair as if he was hammer curling a dumbbell in the gym. Her screams elicited a quick snap to the throat, whereupon she gurgled helplessly.
At this point, almost as if it was well a practiced action, another of the men there removed a combat knife. Sergei thought with that flash the end would be near, but the girl was not so lucky. With deft motions her clothing was left in tatters on the alley floor. And now Sergei understood what these men were after. Tears ran down her cheeks, matting her dark hair to her perfect almond complexion. Sergei was frozen – sick with what was happening before him. He knew that the inquisitors were an evil paramilitary organization but he never thought that this was one of their sins.
By the time the second man was ready Sergei pressed his eyes firmly closed. Backing away slowly he walked back to his home where he hugged his partner gingerly. Sergei loved Demona deeply but the thought of expressing that right now seemed wrong. As if the act he witnessed earlier had pervaded all love.
The next morning on the way to work a new corpse was up on a new cross. Sergei probably should not have been surprised to see the woman there but the sheer perversion of it all didn’t let him comprehend it. The bath could not remove enough of the filth that night.
Elsewhere during the Inquisition the church got builder.
The name of the club, once translated, was the Velvet Tower. The club was lewd, and the translation didn’t portray the sexual overtones enough. Stories of the exclusive club were legendary. The nobles spoke of fantastical experiences of eroticism which elevated them to new heights, the peasants spoke of a den of carnal liaisons and incestuous orgies where cousin met cousin met sibling mid embrace, but more important to this accounting were the stories of the clergy. These were dens of rot and decay. Parlors of the devil that evil pervade the ruling class. The clergy oft lamented that if they only could the Velvet Tower would be proclaimed desecrated ground, and now with the inquisition in full swing one particularly forceful group of inquisitors tried.
The bodyguards at the front door were taken with a trip tap from a silenced rifle. The three round burst would have undoubtedly startled the line up – were they not falling to the ground sputtering, tear gas pervading their lungs.
Inquisitors moved in, handcuffing would be patrons. A crack team breeched the door with what looked like plastic explosives in an aerosol can. The breech was carried out ruthlessly efficient. Leap frogging teams of three covered one another as they secured the room, neutralizing security.
Few talk about that night- blood splattering over naked flesh – inebriated nobles trying to take to the new theme – overzealous inquisitors dealing with ‘fags’ with rifle butts. The sitrep the assault leader passed on to his superiors tells enough.
“We breached the club at 0332hrs as planned. Of the eighty three peopled lined up to partake in these sinful acts twelve will be crucified. Sixty will be imprisoned for confessions and rehab while the others were fined 12,500 bits (roughly 23,000USD).
“Six security officers died in the breech and two were wounded. They currently lie in hospital beds run by their lord. I recommend we execute them for resisting. The remaining security surrendered. We should fine them for their accessory and monitor them for further contact with the great Satan.
“As instructions title bearing nobles were fined and warned. Nobles not of titled have been imprisoned. While I know that their fates reside in the hands of the almighty I cannot help but advocate their crucifixions as well. Perhaps in their suffering they will be forgiven by the almighty.
“The club has been declared desecrated and has been firebombed – incase these heathens do not respect divine will. They should thank me for my initiative for this bombing means that cannot defy our lord again.
“As an aside fourteen heathens lost their lives. They were not titled.”
The Ma-tek message.
The drone was tracked by literally hundred of AA, RADAR, and crude LIDAR systems. A fractured country Otares possessed many government buildings – most of them redundancies in the feudal system. The building the probe had zeroed in on was that of the Ruzolky family hall.
Federal agents were on the scene in minutes, but for better or worse the Ruzolky family had claimed the drone. The disc was removed and played out for the Ruzolky lords first, and then copies were given to the agents of the crown prince.
(OOC: What’s on the disc? And yes they will be some time in responding ICly because of the other stuff going on in country.)
During the inquisition the crown prince was rarely seen – and when he was he usually cast off the not truly unpleasant but definitely palpable aroma of alcohol. The reports he immersed himself in were gut wrenching to say the least, and he felt so responsible for the deaths.
That said the pretense he needed to take on the church had occurred. Inquisitors had begun raiding noble establishments and in one such raid some nobles of title died. The country was abuzz. The kinsmen of the dead nobles were calling their fiefs to arms and were all but ready to physically eject the inquisitors from their domains.
With wild speculation about what the crown prince was going to do abounding he decided that now was the time to address court. And in a speech he been holding in reserve for the weeks that the inquisition had been running the crown prince addressed the most powerful people in his country.
“My fellow Otariets. Lords and Ladies of the court. I bid you hello. And today while I do recognize the clergy I am afraid that I do not bid them greetings.
“As you are all aware the church has begun another inquisition. This inquisition was started with the best of intentions, to root out evil and destroy moral rot in our nation. And like every monarch before me in Otares I gave the church a free hand to pursue its holy ends.
“Now something is different though. Every lord and lady has always accepted a loss in human resources so that they might stay on a righteous track. The church has ferreted out dissenters and heathens so that the bodies of our nation might remain healthy as a whole. The tumor of evil was cast out – and the scars on the living flesh were accepted.
“This inquisition has brought unprecedented numbers of deaths however. Moreover the trend of urbanization in Otares has meant that the inquisition has concentrated this death like never before. City centres look like they have bared an attack. And like an attack the political process has suffered.
“This centralized culling has seen the populations of the strongest families brought down to unacceptable levels. And to add on top of this I have learned that the church has begun targeting noble assets. Desecrated ground now includes some of our most profitable centres. Fines have begun mounting against our kin. And now I find that a titled noble had died by the hands of the church. An inquisitor working within the church has taken the life of one Lady Veronika Stepanov. Lady Stepanov administered to three factories in the eastern shore. She was a good ruler and her serfs have already begun construction of her mausoleum.
“With this in mind, and with a heavy heart, I must tell you that the church has overstepped its bounds. I declare that the leaders of our most holy of organizations have become drunk on power.
“The power of God seems too great for mortal men to bear, despite proper pedigree. The clergy has sinned against Otares and we now suffer for it. This sin against us is unfathomable I know, but it has happened. Now I find myself left to ask who rights the church? Who shall deliver them onto their maker and be done with it?
“The answer is me. I am Holy Crown Prince of Otares, The Supreme Commander of the Crown’s Forces, High bishop in our lord’s house, Duke of Cali, Duke of Penson, and twice blessed man Alark the third. And it is with this authority that I proclaim the clergy heathens and unfit for the role of our link to God. And so by the articles of The Kingdom I assert my divine right. As all of your ancestors before you have done I ask that you recognize me as the sole judge of the church’s worldly affairs.
“As the lord of the church I proclaim the clergy to be unwelcome tenants and hereby cast them out.
“As we speak troops loyal to your crown prince have begun reclaiming the assets of the church. We are seizing the divine treasuries and closing all houses of worship. Moreover these troops will detain all members of the clergy. Lastly a portion of these troops have been tasked with taking the lives of key members of the inquisitors. It is too much to ask any man to judge the soul of an inquisitor – and so I free their souls to allow my only better to do it.
“And to you my noble kin – do the same. I hereby grant the nobility of Otares to seize divine property which happens to fall within the geography of their earthly domains.
Dear Otariets you are the favored people of God – please carry yourself as such. Good day.”
And with that the Crowned prince turned on his heel and walked off. His purposeful stride held out for all the picture of a leader - strong, authoritative, and in control. The prince strode from the podium of the throne and held the attention of the entire court for almost a full minute. Unrushed and unwavering he walked down the soft strip of red carpet, reserved for only those who sat upon the throne of the nation. The kings. Before this the crowned prince had never asserted his royal lineage but today was something else. Several firsts occurred.
One, the prince had fully and publicly embraced his station. Questions of succession had always lingered in the shadows but they were never broached as long as the prince remained just that – the prince. While he was the flesh and blood of the king he had not passed the trials of manhood and so the aforementioned Articles of The Kingdom gave his opponents room to question. Others could have been called king. The crowned prince had merely taken up the duties and rejected the station – until now.
Second, the church was being taken out of the picture. The feudal system of Otares balanced three forces against one another – The nobility, the king, and the church. The church was normally under the thumb of the king but they had in history forced the king’s hand by voting against him in court.
Third, court was silent. An enormous room court boasted many levels, interconnected balconies and small booths for privacy. All of which was built around the forums where up to four speakers had simultaneously spoke and directed court.
Beyond that court was generally the only room which held the entirety of Otariet political power at any one given time. A nation of almost two billion people Otares possessed a nobility numbering in the hundreds of million. And while court only recognized a few thousand of those as people of contention – the room was never quite. Power deals and negotiations always dominated the sidelines. And for some court was always a social event, and not that of a political institution.
As soon as the prince exited court the entire room was in an uproar. Some demanded the floor, while others left immediately. Only the nobles of lesser power – dependant nobles – stayed. Those who were strong left. They knew what had just happened.
The church was the largest land owner in Otares. It was also the wealthiest stake holder and the most powerful institution. And today the crowned prince of Otares had announced that he, the second of all those things, was cutting pieces off of it for himself. The heads of the eight families all stood and cast glances at one another. They knew that the lesser nobles would bicker and string deals about. They also knew that those lesser nobles depended on these eight for all of their power. And so these eight acknowledged each other and exited court. All knowing full well that each were looking to seize as much of the church as they could.
The private limo of the crowned prince now sped away from court. All around them was signs of what the prince had done. Guards stood about religious monuments, stormed churches, and clergy were being executed in the street. Cities around the nation were awash with the uniforms of the king’s guard – and the private army of the crowned prince.
These two branches operated in unison, executing plans with perfect efficiency. No one knew how or when but the prince had obviously been planning this. The sheer logistical effort being exhibited left no doubt in anyone’s mind.
Inside the limo’s VIP area sat three persons; the crowned prince, a starkly pale man in a dark suit, and a voluptuous brunet wearing the dress uniform of the prince’s private army – the NAP (National Arm of the People)
The pale man was Sir Korieza, the head of the crowned prince secret police. Part paramilitary, part espionage agency, and wholly clandestine the organization reported to Korieza who reported directly to the crowned prince. Sir Korieza was a noble of the Tyurin house.
The Tyurin’s were industrialists whose power far exceeded that of geography. Well connected and comprised mostly of an emerging bourgeoisie the house of Tyurin had aligned itself with the prince’s policies of liberalization and feudal reform.
Korieza himself was dedicated purely to the prince. Considering the feudal loyalties of blood and family to be dated Korieza was an ideologue devoted purely to maintaining a liberal society. And it was in pursuit of this liberalization that he found himself the head of this new organization. Korieza by birth was a lord, but had rejected his birth right. Sir was the lowest title he could fall too. Court recognized him as a knight in the service of the crown prince. Korieza saw himself as crusader for a more just society.
The female of the trio was Katerina Bodanov. Formerly a general in the army of the Gusev family she had acquitted herself many times in battle. With a pleasant face and calming smile she hid what some surmised to be the soul of a demon spawn. Katerina had participated in the southern expansion into the native lands with a special kind of efficiency. Her troops took heavy losses, true, but the divisions she controlled took many times more territory from the natives than any other grouping. Beyond that her forces boasted a kill to loss ratio of 63:1. Losing eight thousand troops herself the natives in the south were decimated – with more than half a million falling before the onslaught.
While the prince had hopped that the expansion into native land would have been less bloody he could not dispute the results of General Bodanov. And so he recruited her into his own entourage. In fact it was her logistical genius which orchestrated the seizure of property today. The prince had no doubt that the clergy’s numbers would never fully recover, even if his machinations proved unsuccessful.
The prince tossed back a canteen of water. It was the first time in weeks either of his two most trusted advisors had seen him sober. Today the prince was alert and active, his mind running a mile a minute. Despite his inner struggle and his vices the prince had demonstrated to both of these people that he was indeed brilliant. Quick responses and critical questions had shown both that little escaped the prince. The prince looked up at Katerina quizzically;
“Status?” Katerina nodded simply and began, as if one were speaking about the progress of a dinner function and not what could be the onset of a brutal civil war.
“The church will fall to us in two days. We expect that the death list will be completed by the end of the week. Sir Korieza’s intelligence has been most helpful, my teams have not encountered any unexpected difficulty in tracking down their targets.
“We do have one complication though.”
“Oh?” At this point Sir Korieza chimed in.
“At approximately oh six fifty a drone fell from the upper atmosphere and was recovered by the Ruzolky family. My agents were on scene but the intelligence is spotty. It appears to be a diplomatic overture from old friends of ours.” Extending his hand Korieza passed a manila folder to the prince. Looking it over briefly the prince looked back up to Korieza.
“How does this affect our plans?”
“If they decide to get involved at all we will have problems moving in secret. We can only surmise that their orbital surveillance is much more capable than anything Otariet.”
“We can only open the drone and take it one step at a time. I will keep you informed.”
“Good. Katerina what has been the noble armies’ responses been?” In answer to the question Katerina slipped a recon photo from her attaché and passed it to the crown prince.
“Most of the noble armies that could respond are tied up in the south and east, with settling the native lands. There is activity on the radio now to mobilize rear divisions and begin seizing what they can. We expect some losses of church property in Gahron, Gusev, Ruzolky, and Darmahktres territory.” Looking over the recon photos the prince looked up thoughtfully.
“Remove assets from the Darmahktres territory and redirect them to the other locations.”
“I would prefer we lose more to the Darmahktres than anyone else. Even if it means we loose less overall.”
“But why?” Korieza then piped up, seeing the prince’s plans.
“Because the Darmahktres family is currently in strife. It has only been due to my direct intervention that the conflict has not some to blows.” Katerina nodded.
“Anything they seize will be forfeit as soon as you cease your efforts. The territory will be picked apart in the internal Darmahktres dispute – effectively blocking it from all parties.” At this Korieza nodded, adding to the General’s very astute observation.
“Moreover one of the factions in the conflict is becoming increasingly dependant open my resources. They can be maneuvered into the fore of the dispute. This will ensure that when the Darmahktres fall we will recover the majority of that house’s resources as we assume control of our vetted faction.” Katerina nodded at this.
“I need to get a hold of my planners then – and get on it immediately.”
The three nodded in agreement and approval. And the limo driver waited for royal tank to clear the intersection, the armor division was within the city now – a mere twenty three minutes after the prince’s announcement.