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A Better Age
Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:43 pm
If ever Alexander the Second, King of the Embreans, had imagined his reign as a young man, it surely would not have looked quite like this. For thirty-six years, Alexander had reigned as King; for thirty of them, he had been both head and body of state.
It was never intended to be this way, of course. For six years, all had been well. The Embrean Commonwealth and its system of crown democracy had functioned. Alexander was the smiling face on Commonwealth Day and the kindly voice at Christmastime and the solemn, serious military-uniformed figure reviewing troops on his birthday. Otherwise, he was an afterthought, save for the charities and hospital openings and other such engagements that occupied his day-to-day existence. That was before the elections in 1986.
The economy had slumped, hard, the worst recession in three generations at least. Inflation, unemployment, had spiked; up and down the nation's High Streets shops were laying off and shutting down. The people were angry; the old political order, the right-centre National Party and left-centre People's Party, were rejected out of hand. In the elections that year twenty-six registered parties contested two-hundred fifty seats; twelve earned them. Those who had found themselves in government were now confronted with the small matter of how to govern in coalition; backroom dealing, horse-trading and alliance building ensued, but none produced enough of a majority, or enough confidence, to gain the royal invitation. As weeks, then months, passed without government, public frustration turned to anger. Anger turned to demonstrations, demonstrations to riots.
The summer of '87, one of the hottest on record, proved to be the last straw. A march was organized, one of many in the capital since the elections had gone off. The demand was simple: set aside partisan difference, and unite for the common good. This time, though, it was different. Thirty years later, nobody could quite say why the police had opened fire on the crowd as it advanced toward the National Assembly building. Those involved were convicted, of course, and given lengthy prison sentences, but the powder-keg had been lit.
On 21 August 1987, Alexander the Second appeared before the cameras of Embrea and the world with an unprecedented announcement: the electoral results would be declared null and void. Emergency rule would be enacted until the situation normalized, at which time there would be new elections held. It was meant to be a temporary solution to an extraordinary and existential crisis. Nobody quite expected it to last more than six months. Nobody, least of all Alexander, expected it to last three decades.
But the weeks had turned to months, the months to years. The clamoring in the streets ceased; the economy recovered. Alexander, with a PhD in public works administration, proved a capable administrator, indeed more competent than any Chancellor in recent memory. He knew what he knew and, just as importantly, what he didn't; his advisors were drawn from all walks of life and all disciplines of society. In his interactions with his people, he proved charming, charismatic, engaging and above-all engaged; Alexander had never had much taste for the pretense and stiffness of royal protocol, preferring to be the "People's King" as the media had dubbed him. As King he had annually held balls for the celebration of ordinary citizens, had worked a shift as a postal worker, had visited public schools and hospitals, had biked across the country to raise money for a fund for underprivileged youth. He was, in his younger days, fond of going amongst his people unguarded and incognito; doing his own grocery shopping, his own driving, riding the Metro and the long-distance trains in coach, seeing his country as the common man saw it. By all accounts, he was much-beloved; democracy in Embrea had passed unnoticed and, seemingly, unmourned.
Of course, nothing lasts forever. In the back of Alexander's mind, the need to restore democracy was always there; he was getting older, and his son didn't quite carry the same gravitas he did. The arrangement which had been quietly accepted by the public would die with him, if not sooner. Perhaps next year, he would call elections, explain it as an old man returning the daily labors of state to the public to whom they rightfully belonged. Democracy would be restored, sooner rather than later, but for now, the details did not bother Alexander so much.
As the elderly King retired to his quarters within the sprawling Amberg Palace, he passed a youngish lieutenant who stood in silent guard of the bedchamber; the man had been there for a few years, always a solid, silent presence, clicking his heels together automatically as his sovereign passed. The King knew his face, though not his name; he had of course never heard the man speak, until today. For the rest of his days, Alexander the Second would be struck by the tone of the man's voice: soft, warm, equal parts cordial and apologetic for the first and last words he would speak to his King.
"Your Majesty, you are under arrest."
Re: A Better Age
Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:49 pm
The whole thing had taken maybe twenty minutes. On cue, the remaining twenty or so grey-uniformed soldiers of the Household Guard on the third floor rushed to the scene, rifles at the ready. It did not take long to see which of the two men they were aimed at. The King, pushing eighty years of age and surrounded, was in little position to offer resistance. Their sovereign subdued, the palace compound secured, there was no need for handcuffs or any such roughness. Indeed Alexander would later recall that his first few hours as a prisoner of the military were, all things considered, rather pleasant. Not unlike the typical preparations for a royal visit, with the minor exception that it was uniformed soldiers and not the Household Agency that prepared the logistics.
In due course the King was bundled into a limousine, one of a handful in the motor pool, and led away in a motorcade of the black luxury cars the military and National Gendarme used for VIP moves. Flanked as he was by NCOs and officers of the unit ostensibly charged with his safety, he was unable to see where he might be headed; for the first time since the ordeal had begun, the thought emerged that he might well be killed this night. If contemplating his own mortality brought him any fear, Alexander did not show it; Kings, after all, must be fearless, resolute in the face of danger. The journey of perhaps thirty minutes was passed in silence. Alexander could see the anxiety, the uncertainty, etched on the faces of the young men who held him captive. In a sense, he felt a tinge of sympathy for them; they were following orders, of course, that had surely come from much higher up the chain than some junior officer or NCO, and yet in the service of their orders were committing the highest of high treasons. Embrea had long ago dispensed with capital punishment for civilians, but in every land of our world there is but one fate for traitors: the gallows and the hangman's noose.
At last the convoy arrived, at a military base several miles outside the capital. Here the King was ushered into a rather nondescript office building, and thence into a disused room flanked by two camouflaged soldiers. A chair and a table were placed therein, and Alexander was seated (somewhat forcefully, courtesy of his escorts) into the former and left to his devices for the time being. A few moments later, a dress-uniformed general entered the room; this man, the King did recognise: General Martin Vandenberg, Chief of Embrean Security Forces High Command.
"You may be here awhile, Your Majesty, so I suggest you get comfortable," Vandenberg said, his voice carrying just a hint of triumphant contempt. "Might I get you anything? A drink, perhaps?"
"A glass of scotch would do nicely, if you have it in the Officers' Club," the King replied, a hint of sarcasm in his tone. "And what exactly is the meaning of this?"
"It is quite simple, really," the General said, pacing now as generals do. "From this moment, you should consider that you are no longer King of the Embreans. The military has acted upon my orders, for reasons that are neither here nor there, nor particularly relevant to your immediate situation. Your family are safe, and under house arrest. Your people are, as yet, unaware that any of this has transpired. There will be no element of the military come to save you, no popular groundswell of support -- and I do believe you have drastically overestimated your popularity of late."
"In any case," he continued, clearing his throat. "Your fate, that of your family and the people whom you love so dearly, rests now upon your actions. This process has proceeded without bloodshed, for which I am grateful, for I have no desire to see innocents murdered as they were thirty years ago. If you do as we ask, it will continue in this way. If not, my men cannot be held responsible for whatever, ahem, unfortunate incidents may arise."
"So this is it, then," Alexander sighed. "You would kill your king, an old man, for what? For power? Have I not been a just and efficient ruler, these past thirty years?"
"It is nothing personal, Your Majesty. Simply the cost of doing business, I'm afraid. But your options are there. Don't make this any harder than it has to be."
"What would you have me do?"
"We will return to the palace. You will get a good night's sleep, in your own bed. Tomorrow, when the time is right, you will read a statement we have prepared: His Majesty has abdicated for reasons of ill health, and has entrusted the regency to the Security Forces pending a transition to democracy and a referendum on the future of the monarchy."
"A coup," Alexander spat mournfully. "Thirty years as King, thirty peaceful, prosperous years, and now a coup."
"Don't think of it as a coup, Majesty," the General replied with faux-sympathy. "Rather, think of this as an enforced retirement." Suddenly, a light tap at the door drew the attentions of both men. An adjutant, a junior officer in dress uniform, had appeared bearing a serving tray upon which sat a bottle of premium Praetonian scotch whisky and an old-fashioned glass.
"The scotch you requested, Majesty," Vandenberg sniffed contemptuously. "Pray consider our offer. We shall return shortly."
Re: A Better Age
Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:24 pm
It was about ten o'clock in the evening when the party returned to Amberg Palace. Vandenberg, the apparent head of the coup, did not join the King and his captors; rather, he was greeted at the foyer by a gruff-looking Colonel of Quiberonnais extraction by the name of Beauchamp, who was quick to lay down the ground rules, as they were.
"Until further notice, you are under house arrest. You may have full use of the Palace, but you may not venture onto the grounds at this time. All phone and internet lines have been disconnected; you will be permitted supervised phone calls in due course. My men are under orders to treat you cordially and shall expect the same in return. You will obey any additional orders we see fit to enact. If you should attempt to escape, or to contact any person without authorization, I am authorized to have you shot. Beyond this, my men are authorized to use any such force as may be necessary to ensure your compliance with any part of these orders."
"Roughing up a seventy-seven year old man," the King spat. "Despicable. And here I thought my military had honor," he continued, spitting again at the last word. Beauchamp paid this outburst no attention, continuing on with his briefing.
"In the morning, you will be roused and cameras prepared for your statement to the public. This will occur at 7 o'clock sharp. I strongly suggest you attempt to sleep, in the interval."
With that, the military guard departed; for the first time since the ordeal began, Alexander was quite alone. A moment later, a butler appeared, ready to escort the aged King to his bedchamber with another servant would help him undress, run a shower, and re-dress for bed. The whole thing was surreal; but for the past few hours, all played out exactly as it would have on any other day.
As the shower ran, Alexander processed the events of the evening for the first time properly since they had unfolded. His mind raced with thought, looking for any opportunity, any weakness, anything which might change the script. I am under house arrest, they said. Surrounded; at least the fifty in the Household Guard, probably all deployed right now, plus reinforcements, maybe. Exits? No, probably all guarded. Make a run for it? No good, they'll shoot you dead, or catch you outright. What if they're bluffing? Can't risk it; family held God-knows-where. Could wing the statement...and cause a civil war, if the public go into the streets. All that bloodshed? Wasn't the point of...all this...to avoid that? No good.
Twenty minutes, maybe more, had passed; over the roar of the showerhead, the concerned voice of the chamber-servant was heard. "Sire, are you quite alright? Majesty?" Alexander shut off the water and fetched a warmed towel from the hamper, drying himself and robing in his bathrobe as the servant, a man of about fifty, approached.
"Majesty, you look afright...really shouldn't run the water so hot, nor so long, bad for the skin, and at your age...," the man clucked, doting like a concerned mother hen upon a wayward chick. "Come now, Sire, lie down a bit, quite a long day you've had after all," the man went on, as if the long day had been a lengthy series of engagements and meetings and not the upending of the state. Alexander now wished more than ever to grab the poor nattering fool by his lapels, asking him if he quite understood that the military had couped the Crown, that the entire Royal Family and perhaps even its servants and attendants might well be in mortal peril. Instead, he simply nodded in agreement and asked if the man might fetch the pharmacist for something for the nerves and something to help him sleep.
A few minutes later, the servant returned. "Diazepam, fifteen milligrams, to calm the nerves and promote restfulness, Sire," he said sympathetically. "You must try to get some sleep."
The King's sleep was fitful and light; indeed the weight of recent events far outweighed the drug-induced relaxation that should have been. It was five-thirty in the morning when Alexander was roused from his bedchamber, having slept for perhaps four hours. The deprivation on his face was evident, a sort of world-weariness that far exceeded his seventy-seven years. The chamberlain was there, of course, to run him a shower and help him dress; it was decided (presumably by the generals) that civil dress would be the King's order of the day and a black bespoke suit was duly picked out. The matter of a tie caused some consternation; not black, musn't give cause for depression, but the one striped in the crimson and grey of the flag would not do either. A plain blue tie was decided upon; blue had been the color of the National Party, years ago, but three decades on, any political connotations of the colors blue and red would surely be lost.
Duly dressed and breakfasted, Alexander was escorted into his working office, around which an array of cameras were set up; the logo of the Commonwealth News Service was emblazoned upon one, that of Embrean Television upon another, and the Quiberonnais-language TOU.TV upon a third. The remarks would be delivered in Embrean, spoken as a first language by the majority of the population and understood by all, but the thirty percent who spoke the language of Embrea's northern neighbor would have the option to hear their King's abdication dubbed in their native tongue.
There were no armed guards, this time, though of course there was no escape either. A script was duly passed as the King was seated at his desk, flanked on either side by Embrean flags. A few read-throughs later, and all was ready. With a nod, the cameras began rolling as Alexander the Second delivered the address that would usher in a new age in Embrea, for better or worse.
"My citizens, my countrymen, my fellow Embreans," the King began, intoning in a voice equal parts kindly and solemn.
"Thirty years ago, our great country faced a crisis as it had never before seen. Faced with such extraordinary circumstances, We undertook an extraordinary decision, to act as Our office is compelled for the security, happiness and common wealth of Our people. We assumed direct rule not to aggrandize Our own position nor to deprive Our people of that which is their right; indeed, history will reflect that Our arrangement has always rested upon mutual affection, trust and above all, service to the will of Our Embrean people."
"But it has long been in Our mind that this arrangement, this state of affairs, be not the permanent death of democracy in Our Commonwealth. By your consent, We have assumed the great labors of state unto Ourselves. We have, three decades hence, grown old in your service. While the heart, the spirit of love which We bear for this great Commonwealth and its people, remains as firm as ever, Our faculties both physical and mental have of late precluded Us from dedicating the fullness of Our service to Our people."
"It is for this reason, with great solemnity, that We, Alexander, King of the Embreans, do hereby and without reservation announce our intent to abdicate the same, effective at noon this afternoon. We will entrust, in due course, the labors and responsibilities of the state unto Our people to whom they belong by right. During this delicate and sensitive period of transition, We have authorized a regency council to be headed by Our esteemed General Martin Vandenberg, of Our Security Forces. Our Security Forces shall act in the coming weeks and months to preserve peace and good order, and ensure that democracy is returned to this Commonwealth without delay."
"My countrymen, I speak to you now not as your King but as one man in whom an extraordinary trust has been placed," Alexander continued, his tone switching now to a decidedly more familiar one. "The days to come will, for many of us, represent uncharted territory and great change. I urge you all to keep calm and carry on amidst these changes. I urge your cooperation with the authority of the Security Forces as the period of transition is overseen. I urge your participation, civilly and with good-will, in the democratic processes to come. And I ask," he finished. "That you join me in prayer: for each other, for this country, per auspicium melioris aevi -- for hope of a better age."
Re: A Better Age
Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:54 pm
Ambassador Ivan Beljak began another round of pacing, running both hands through his hair and grimacing. He turned to his Chargé d'affaires and made a strained sigh. "I think there is something afoot, Zeljko".
"Yes, Ivan, I agreed with you the first three times you told me".
The ambassador grabbed a TV remote from his desk and switched on the news - Zegrski Glas was proudly leading with the abdication story - the banner read "SHOCK ANNOUNCEMENT - EMBREAN KING SURRENDERS THRONE". Ivan looked at Zeljko and raised his hands. "I've been in this post for the last ten years, Zeljko. Ten years of damn hard work in this little country - that's far longer than any of the other ambassadors, by the way - and this TV announcement is the first I heard of the matter. Not even a visit from the FM. Not even a phone call! I have already had the call with Kralvićevo and that shit Gueterski told me to explain himself. I wish I could have told him where to go. How do I explain a mess like this?"
"Perhaps the King has gone mad, sir" Zeljko offered. "He is very old".
"Hmm, I don't think so" Ivan replied, grabbing a glass of water off of his desk and swirling it thoughtfully. "We would have noticed his health failing, for sure. The thing that seems off is the regency business. Why would the King bother? As stated, we know he's not ill, so why wouldn't he personally organise elections in six months' time, or hell, in twelve? As I said, Zeljko, there is something afoot."
Zeljko didn't bother to voice his agreement again. The ambassador drank his water and walked over to the telephone.
"Let's go to the ministry" he said. He pointed at Zeljko. "Get the coats, it's cold outside. Let Nina know we will be busy today." He picked up the reciever and dialled in. It rang for a good two minutes before it was picked up.
"Hello" Ivan began, drawing himself up and putting on his most authoritative voice. "This is Ivan Beljak, the diplomatic representative of Zegora-Bogatovia. I wonder if the Foreign Minister is free today. We will be at the ministry in around twenty five minutes".
Re: A Better Age
Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:53 pm
The military had, in its planning, determined that it was not actually necessary to arrest top government advisors along with the Royal Family. In the early stages, they would be useful tools to preserve the facade upon which the coup rested; what to do with them after was left to be discussed another day. So it was that Paul Francken, Foreign Minister, passed the night in sound sleep, thoroughly unaware of what had transpired. Upon his arrival to work at 5 AM he was greeted by more than the usual number of soldiers, many in plainclothes, but thought little of it until coming face-to-face with a middle-aged Colonel and youngish Captain in camouflage and blue beret of the Embrean Security Forces Land Component standing in his office, around his desk and computer. There he was given the news, and told very bluntly that the war was over and that there was little point in resisting; any inclination the poor diplomat may have had toward doing so was quickly quashed when the junior officer read from a file detailing the man's address, spouse's place of employment, and children's school. Clearly, these men meant business, and Paul had no intention of risking his family's life to see how far they might go.
The ensuing hours had been equal parts stress and consternation; the colonel, a man by the name of Van Ronk, had insisted upon confiscating the cell phones and IDs of every staff member upon arrival - under protest from Paul, he had relented on the latter. Upon hearing the press conference he had calmly informed his new overlords that the international community and the myriad nongovernmental organizations with whom the department worked would react swiftly to this development. This was evidently a consideration that had not occurred to the plotters of this little charade; the explanation that the Foreign Minister was currently occupied on urgent business, but that the situation was under control, was a patently-obvious stall for time. Paul wished that he could field these calls himself, but his captors were insistent that he not speak to the outside world; a shame, he thought, for his word (quite apart from carrying more gravitas, as Foreign Minister, than that of an intern manning the phones) was quite a bit more convincing in the lie.
The call from the Ambassador of Zegora-Bogatovia came quite unexpectedly, and quite forcefully. He knew Beljak, of course, having feted and met the man on a handful of occasions as it were. A bit gruff, what the Praetannics might call uncouth, but a decent administrator all the same, and with a genuine interest in what went on in Embrea. More than could be said for some of the men he dealt with, he had to admit. The call fielded from the Zegor-Bogatovian Embassy was as typical to Paul as it was shocking to his handlers; he, unlike they, was well aware of the key attribute of a Zego-Bogatovian diplomat: an acute allergy to anything he thought, or suspected, to be bullshit. It made dealing with them a bit of a headache at times, but Paul did have a grudging respect for the plain-speaking, no-nonsense approach that his counterpart employed.
It was a sentiment his new handlers clearly did not share. "No visits," Van Ronk barked. "Hold them at the gates, the Foreign Minister will not be receiving delegations at this time." The captain who accompanied him began to move to relay the order, stopping in his tracks as Paul spoke up.
"Now see here Colonel," Paul began in his diplomat-voice, kindly but commanding all the same. "That's not going to work. If you turn the Zegor-Bogatovian delegation away they'll be slighted, for one, and suspicious, for another. We've just dropped a bombshell in their laps and they feel we owe an explanation. I suggest you allow me to do my job, and give them one."
"We have our orders," Van Ronk replied gruffly. "No visits, no delegations, until further notice."
"And believe me, Colonel, I fully understand. You're a soldier and an honorable man and you're just doing your job. But it is in everyone's best interest, right now, to let me speak to the delegation. If you want this, this regency to be accepted by the international community you must allow me to do my job and sell it to our friends and neighbors. Our people will believe His Majesty. The rest of the world will believe me. I implore you, let me see them."
"Very well," the Colonel barked. "They will be received. But no funny business, or you'll regret it."
"I give you my word as a servant of the Crown," Paul replied with a flourish.
A few minutes later, the Ambassador and his delegation were led into the Foreign Ministry and thence to a conference room, where just the two men would meet. The Zegor-Bogatovian's face, normally genial, was hard to read -- concern, perhaps, or distrust. Unease, in any case.
"I don't see any point to beating around the bush," Beljak said. "Your King announces an abdication out of the blue, in apparently good health, and installs the military to oversee a transition to democracy? Your own office, swarmed with soldiers? Just what is going on here, mister Foreign Minister, and why were my people not contacted? I've got Kralvicevo up my ass for an explanation and right now, I can't give them one that they're satisfied with. I don't know that I have one that I'm satisfied with."
Here, Paul put on his best diplomatic face -- the standard explanation would do, but had to be delivered just so; Beljak mustn't think he was being lied to.
"Mister Ambassador, I certainly understand your nation's concern and we do apologize sincerely for any alarm these...developments...may have caused. Truth be told, this has been in the works for quite some time; had I not been sworn to strictest secrecy, I would have duly informed your office. We had planned to begin the transition process slowly, with elections to be held in the next twelve months. Alas, His Majesty...well, all is not as it seems. A few months ago, his physicians detected early signs of Parkinson's disease; given these circumstances, the decision was taken to expedite the process and allow His Majesty to live out his remaining good time in comfort."
"But why the military? Why not expedite the electoral process, if that's the case?"
"Certainly, it was always His Majesty's intention that civil government be restored directly to the people," Paul continued. "But it was felt, by some, that a more cautious approach was appropriate. You will recall, of course, the incidents which led to the current arrangement; the riots, the bloodshed. The old wound remains, bandaged over by thirty years of peace, of stability, of certainty.. Democracy must be restored, yes, but law and order must be maintained. The peace must be upheld, and we cannot know how much of the old wound still festers until the bandage is ripped off. An abundance of caution, a regrettable but necessary measure as we move into uncharted waters."
Beljak furrowed his brow here, evidently not believing his counterpart but accepting that he would get no better answer. As he rose to shake hands and depart, Paul quickly grabbed a legal pad from the conference room table and began scribbling something with his pen. As they shook hands and parted, the paper was placed into the Ambassador's hand.
All lies. Room maybe bugged? Military in total control. Palace incommunicado all morning. Coup. Tell only who you must. Destroy this page in secure location.
Re: A Better Age
Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:21 pm
Ambassador Beljak smiled exited Francken's office with a grudging smile and briefly waved to the minister. "Hvala, Paul. Nice to see you again. Do viđenja. Zeljko, let's go".
Zeljko grudgingly got up from his squatting position next to the minister's secretary, who giggled and waved as he walked off.
"Ivan, why so early? You're usually in there for a good half hour. And I was Really getting somewhere with her today, I was thinking of asking her out this friday."
"Shut up Zeljko. We can talk about it in the car."
"Ok. Did Paul give you some chewing gum? Can I have some?"
The two reached the lobby where a squad of riflemen were hanging around next to a couple of tables. When the two Zegorans approached the oldest, and most confident looking, stepped toward them, timidly holding up a hand.
"I do apologise sirs, but I am under orders to search both of you for anything that could be considered damaging to the state at this fragile time. Please place your items on the table and..."
Ivan laughed, sharply. "I am an ambassador to this nation. My diplomatic status is protected by the Reims Agreement - an agreement your country signed, I should mention - and I am to go to and fro unmolested in the pursuit of my diplomatic duties. I don't think you should be searching me".
The soldier looked back at his comrades, who sort of shrugged and raised their eyebrows. He turned back to the Zegorans. "I'm sorry sir, I am acting under orders. I must ask you again to step towards the table."
Ivan sized up the group. He was very tempted to just push through them and leave, calling their bluff. However this had two drawbacks - firstly he didn't want to be shot, and secondly his car had to be let through the outer gate anyway. He didn't have much of a choice. He sighed and walked to the table. "Come on, Zeljko".
Zeljko walked over to the table, too, and the relieved looking soldiers did a brief check of the two men's pockets, sleeves and trouser legs. Ivan was glad he hadn't brought the diplomatic bag, which would probably have experienced the same treatment.
"Alright sirs, sorry again for the inconvenience" the soldier said, stepping away from the Zegorans and opening a path to the door.
"I'm going to file a complaint against your generals, you know" Ivan said, strolling down the steps to his car. "Or maybe I'll call the King! I know him, you know."
Only once the men were inside the car and outside of the ministry compound did Ivan turn to Zeljko and pull the piece of paper Francken had given him. "Sorry Zeljko, it's a little spitty" he said as he unfolded it, before passing it over. Zeljko read it over a couple of times and met Ivan's eyes.
"What do we do?"
"Call Kralvićevo and get through to that idiot Gueterski. He will at least pass it on to someone up in the ministry, and they'll pass it up to the Skupština and probably to Quiberon and elsewhere. Whatever we can do to stop these jumped-up generals taking power in a Wallasean country. It's the least we can do".
"Yes Ivan. And the King?"
"There's nothing we can do for him right now except spread the word. Let's just hope that we aren't too late for them."
Re: A Better Age
Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:23 am
SUBJECT: Abdication of King Alexander II
The following is a synopsis of available intelligence regarding the abdication of King Alexander II of Embrea, and the strategy laid out by His Majesty's government to manage the situation.
1. General Martin Vandenberg, the man appointed to lead Embrea's transitional council, is chief of the Embrean security forces and has no ties to the Embrean royal family.
2. The day that Alexander II abdicated the throne, Embrean security forces seized government offices in (capital). They placed a number of civilian officials under arrest.
3. At 16h21 on November 2nd, the Zegoran mission in Embrea sent an urgent message to Evian, indicating that a military coup was underway in the capital.
Taken together, it is likely that Alexander II was deposed in a military coup led by General Martin Vandenberg, supported by the Embrean security forces.
There will be no attempt made to rescue or reinstate Alexander II, or to interfere in the internal politics of Embrea. Quiberon's relations with Embrea are built on mutual economic and political interests, and are expected to remain good regardless of whether Alexander II is on the throne.
His Majesty's government will continue to monitor the situation in Embrea. The Army has prepared a number of contingency plans in the event Quiberonnais citizens are endangered by armed resistance to the coup.
Involvement of the Estates-General is considered unlikely, because of their ongoing military obligations in Questers.
Involvement of Zegora is considered possible. Efforts will be taken to discourage the Zegorans from directly interfering with the coupists, or from making statements to the effect that Alexander II's overthrow was illegitimate.
Re: A Better Age
Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:18 am
Two Days Before Christmas
The days turned into weeks, the weeks to months. Slowly, the country got used to its new normal, just as it had three decades ago. The National Gendarme had been subsumed into the Defence Ministry, and now patrolled the streets with FNCs swung onto their shoulders. The same friendly officers that they'd always been, but now with military-grade firepower. Soldiers, too, were more visible than they had been in decades, patrolling alongside or in place of the police throughout the capital and major cities. A curfew had been declared some weeks ago, and there was much confusion as those whose jobs or commutes required them to be out past 8 PM rushed to apply for travel exemptions from their local police stations. These, of course, were inevitably delayed by a bureaucracy utterly unprepared to deal with such matters. For now, things were calm; how long they'd remain that way, nobody knew.
It was 7 PM when Richard Moeller got home from his job at one of Groningen's many towering office buildings. He worked in IT, doing some job that made sense to him and to those in his field but which to everyone else looked like paper-pushing. It was dull, thankless work, but it paid well and he had an odd satisfaction in his work; a cog in a machine, but a happy cog as it were. His wife greeted him with a kiss, and a brief rundown of the day: kids taken from school to football training and clarinet lessons and then home. Jens, 14, had scored twice in a training match with a scout from 1905 Groningen watching and had been going on all day about being like his idol, the striker Bruno Van Bronck. Kristina, 12, was making progress in her clarinet, but needed to practice more. It was about 7:35 when Mrs. Moller realized that, amidst her afternoon activities, she had forgotten to get milk from the supermarket. With the country entering holiday the next day, stores would be closed, and Christmas dinner on the verge of being ruined.
"Are you sure you'll have time?," she'd asked, in hushed tones of concern as Richard grabbed his keys and prepared to head out. "Don't worry," he'd said in reply. "It's just up to Waldi and back. Fifteen minutes, tops."
What Richard hadn't counted on was a delay in the store, something with the cash registers, that turned his simple errand into a ten minute wait in line. By the time he left, his watch read 8:06 PM. He resolved to get home quickly but thought nothing else of it -- surely, there would be others out now, coming home from work. His car would blend in. Or so he hoped.
The flashing lights in his rearview mirror confirmed the worst. The gendarme that stepped out of the patrol car was a mid-20s man whose high-and-tight fade and general demeanor suggested a soldier more than the friendly cops that branch had been known for.
"Evening citizen," the officer began in a clipped tone. "You got any idea what time it is? Papers, and be quick about it."
"I don't have them on me, I just ran out to get some groceries. Look, it's two days til Christmas. I'm a husband and a father, not a security threat. Any chance you can let me get back to my family?"
"Curfew's here for a reason, citizen," the officer replied, again in that unnecessarily hard voice. "Out of the car. And officers of the law are 'sir' or 'officer,' clear? Shame your parents never taught you any respect. We'll fix that though."
"And what's that supposed to mean, exactly?," Richard replied, trying to conceal his fear with anger. "We might be under martial law but I'm still a citizen of the Commonwealth. I have rights."
"You're under arrest for violation of the Emergency Decree on National Security," the officer replied. "As such, you are to be turned over to the military as a threat to state security," the cop said, now slamming Richard into the side of his patrol car and cuffing him. "I suggest you take a good look around, scumbag, because you're not gonna see the open skies for a long time."