Office of the Chief Minister
Chair of the Corporate Council
Lowell City, Fenris
Capital of the deWulf Corporate Democracy
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
The crowd seethed through the square, a roiling ocean of Fenren and Sintillan citizens that filled the square to bursting and beyond. Banners and placards bobbed like corks, some of them expensive and professional holographic displays, other ones classic cloth and wood signs. It sounded like a single angry beast, baying for blood.
And even a hundred floors up, Chief Minister Rheinbach could clearly make out the words echoing off the towers.
Wäalen had been the losers in the short unification war that had been the genesis of the deWulf state, and had suffered under the spasm of strategic nuclear fire that opened the final act of the war. Remediation efforts had helped of course, but for many of them immigration offworld offered them a clean break from their past. At first Weyland proved… beyond their reach. And then it was on the front lines of a new war. When Dave’s World was opened for immigration, Wäalenners arrived in droves to settle a harsh world that they made their own. And for a decade, they did exactly that.
Until the Elysians arrived.
The Wäalenner/Davians were used to war. They had left it behind but they had not forgotten. While it had been left behind, the experience had left a weeping scar across their culture. The Elysian conflict soon spiraled beyond even the carnage that was the hallmark of the Heiterkeit, reopening that old wound. What population remained dug in around Finn’s Massif and readied themselves to take a few more Elysians with them.
And then the deWulf Navy rolled in and obliterated the Elysian ships in orbit; the associated ground forces landed on the abandoned Elysian army units like the gods of old. As their armed forces crumpled between the deWulf Naval hammer and the Army anvil, a decade of latent shame and cultural frustration unwound itself like a ruptured spring. Here was a battle they could win. And this time, the full weight of every Fenren alive was behind them. The wound in their collective psyche was healed in a matter of weeks, and for the Wäalenners there was no question who to thank.
Which meant that Rollen, whether he chose to admit it or not, had suddenly acquired a significant power base in the deWulf electorate. Not only that, but a power base that was motivated, ready to make sacrifices, and highly militarized. So far he had remained ignorant of it, as best as Rheinbach could tell. Beyond a few restrained exhortations to support the fleet and volunteer for a temporary career in the armed forces, he had left the home theater entirely to the ruling corporate council.
“First he gets his damned navy. Then he started cutting sweetheart deals with some of the corporations. And then he pulled that mess with Article Seventeen. And now this.” Rheinbach looked back over at his butler, a bitter scowl on his face. The butler returned an understanding nod, waiting for Rheinbach to turn away before slipping off to follow his unspoken orders.
“The Ibizans will dilute his support in the navy… and as soon as the war is over I can hammer his corporate contacts back into line with the peace dividend to end all peace dividends. But that-” his muzzle gestured out through the window at the milling throng that was now working its way down FlensburgStrasse “will require its own special handling.”
A door clicked closed behind him, the soft clatter of fine glassware heralding the arrival of a freshly made pot of artisanal Pfen and light crackers. Another nod dismissed his butler as Rheinbach poured himself a glass, resting a cracker on the rim of the cup.
Hands clasped behind his back, Rheinbach pondered his options. And below him, the ocean surged.