The Empire Strikes Back 91 - 1854-1860
Summoning the Senate
Senators, your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on the First of March, 1860.
The following newspapers are considered significant by the archivists.
And the Senate’s world map is being updated.
Before the Address
Michelangelo Favero happily hums a tune played by Piano Cat during his concert in Constantinople.
Senator Doukas reads about a “shadowy cabal of a Prussian, Pole, and Irish-man” sabotaging the news.
It has to be the Cult, infiltrating our news agencies! Nobody would describe any other group as a “shadowy cabal.” It would have hurt the Empires reputation if they succeeded.
He looks over his shoulder, a bit paranoid after the rebellion in Athens six years ago. He is surrounded by at least three bodyguards, but he is still worried.
He returns to reading his book on Ancient Ruthenian pagan mythology, hoping to find anything that could help him find the Cult.
Perhaps the Gujarati ambassador’s death may not be due to a simple robbery…
The expansion of the Ruthenians in the Far East is quite unsettling. Perhaps we should do something about it…
I would like to see this “Piano Cat” at court.
We should also take measures to prevent another fire from breaking out in the capital.
The growing importance of Deccan and possibility of creating united Indian country worries me, can we get an update on how much Deccan developed is and do we consider it civilized?
UTA continues to grow and I’m still insisting on our withdrawal from Americas.
I didn’t know that Livonia and Poland were so close. It’s good to see that disputed lands (Lithuania in that case) not always cause conflicts but they’re also uniting nations. As long as they are loyal to us it’s good news. Do we have any information on tensions between Poland-Lithuania and Ukraine?
Next wars between Germany, Bavaria and Hungary shouldn’t bother us. I don’t consider any of them as reliable ally or countries that have common interests with us. Let them bleed in their pity struggles.
- Senator Alexios Damaskinos
you should concentrate on conquering more of Arabia otherwise you might get cut off from your African provinces since you only control a narrow strip of land in the Levant.how exactly did Mexico end up with provinces surrounded by USA?
- An unknown voice
who agrees that conquering more of Arabia its a wise choice because otherwise you might get cut off from your African provinces since you only control a narrow strip of land in the Levant
- Senator Smithereens
Who let this man into the senate building? And who gave him reports that are assigned for senators? Guards! Show this man where are the exit doors!
- Senator Alexios Damaskinos
I say we take Arabia for the Empire. The land is ripe with possibilities, and the black sludge found there is flammable, and may be of use in weaponry.
-Senator Ovulur Kishiev
Good to see new face around here. But I think I did not catch what party are you representing, Senator Alexander Smithereens?
I haven’t heard from you Senator Ovulur Kishiev for a long time. It’s good to see you are active in Empire’s matters again.
I think Senators that expansion in Arabia is worth considering, but are we sure we would be able to control those Islamic heathens? Besides, I’m not sure, but don’t we have a truce with Arabic nations due to our latest conquests in Asia? I’m sure that Empress Victoria would be able to confirm it or deny it.
- Senator Alexios Damaskinos
I say there is no need to conquer the savage deserts of Arabia
We must act expand our lands to secure these resources before the Arabs use it against us! I see much potential in the future from this, but only if we act now.
-Senator Ovulur Kishiev
I Alexander smithereens represent the Foiderátoi party who wishes to expand our empire by seizing Arabia or perhaps seizing some land in the new world but we must expand
- Senator Alexander Smithereens
Well I do not.
Greetings, Senator Smithereens (weird name you got there, is it a Levantine name or something?). Glad to see the Foederatoi’s recruitment campaigns are paying off. Also, you are a senator of the Empire now, so please speak like we do or we may not be able to take you seriously.
Senators, I do not believe a major expedition into Arabia would be necessary. Taking the holy sites of Mecca and Medina would severely damage our relations with the Muslim world and possibly with Muslims living within the Empire. We could send a few expeditions there to check out the surroundings and possibly seize Syria and the territories near the Mediterranean, but I will not support any far-fetched excursion into a hostile desert. There’s a reason they call it the Rub al-Khali–the Empty Quarter. Maybe establish a few outposts to secure control over this “black sludge” you speak of before the Arabs can…
I hope you do not say that I am an intruder. I am the distinguished Ovulur Kishiev, mind you.
If not now, then at some point we must seriously consider this though. Even if it means integrating the region peacefully into the Empire, we must do something before another nations acts.
My apologies, I was not referring to you as the intruder, Senator Kishiev. Surely you witnessed the man who burst into the Senate room and clamored for an invasion of Arabia shortly before the arrival of Senator Smithereens?
Yes, Arabia is a strategically important location. However, rushing headlong into the desert right now, what with a Cult of pagans out to kill us all, would not be the best idea. I am advocating for a gradual settlement of the region, setting up outposts and protectorates in the area before setting up a full administration.
I see, well let’s hope we can take advantage of it once we have the ability to.
It seems that despite Our publishing of the facts of the day, much of the public has chosen to believe rumors about the attack on the Senate last session.
We decided that it were best to develop regulations to create banks focused on lending to businesses, as well as create a few initial state-owned business banks.
And the legions had already been recovering from the wars of the past few years. They continued to replenish. We also had the Scholai Palatinae expand to include a guard cohort.
In June to 1854, Khiva was no longer considered among the Great Powers, England now rising to fill that void. At the same time, We began sending diplomatic envoys to the Ming. And soon thereafter, reactionaries actually rose in revolt in Varna, Athens, and La Rochelle. They were swiftly put down by the legions.
The wars and the rebellion had distracted us, and Poland was able to wrest Livonia from the Empire’s influence. They were able to convince them to join in union, forming the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The whole year, We assessed the employment of Our citizens, and began creation of several new factories throughout the Empire. By October, they were ready, the legions had been expanded, and all was at rest. So, though we were still at war with Mexico, We reduced funding to the army and navy and lowered taxes.
In early 1855, Mexico tried to claim bankruptcy. But We could not stand for this, and so added the repayment of debts to Our list of demands for peace. By February, they sent an emissary agreeing to this demand, as well as all of the UTA’s demands for land, and so We agreed to this peace. As for the reasoning behind the UTA’s particular demands, we have no idea what they were thinking. Perhaps they intended to isolate Mexihcan lands? Perhaps they anticipated returning to war soon and seized the richest of the lands they ultimately intended to take?
In addition to the UTA’s expansion, England had expanded their influence into the Amazon.
And Hungary had expanded at Germany’s expense.
In more peaceful uses of diplomacy, We made moves to solve our constant dye supply problems by courting Ceylon, and in 1855 We were able to add them to Our sphere of influence.
As well, Persia rose as a Great Power, replacing Germany.
And Our banking regulations were completed. We followed these up be asking Our best writers how to inspire both nationalism and imperialism in Our citizens, as needed.
When we sought to continue expanding the Empire’s influence in the eastern islands, well, Senator Favero, would you share your report?
Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero, Duke and Governor of Italy:
I am certain that many of you remember back to that fatal day that Constantinople was attacked? The group responsible, the so-called Cult of Chernobog or whatever they may call themselves, has been causing mayhem across the Empire ever since their first attack. We do not know why they do this other than that they wish to cause war, violence, and chaos throughout the Empire and the world. These pagans are clearly mad, but that does not mean they are not clever.
Recently, at the behest of the Empress, a group of diplomatic advisors and generals met to draft up plans for a potential war with Hedjaz over the northern Philippines. We had verified information that the Cult of Chernobog had set up a large base within Hedjaz’s land there to use to harass the Empire with impunity. This meeting was of the utmost secrecy, yet within a week of convening, the plans drafted at that meeting were leaked to the Hedjazi authorities in the Philippines. This is an embarrassment to the Empire. Even our best diplomats had not been briefed on these plans yet and were thus unable to stem the backlash we faced from this debacle. Our reputation has been tarnished because of this incident, yet the circumstances surrounding it are much more sinister.
The Empress requested that I look into the incident, since it was suspected that cultist activity was involved. I had my best men investigate any leads, and after much searching were able to root out a lair of this Cult of Chernobog in one of our holdings in Southeast Asia. It had long since been abandoned, most likely because they knew we were coming beforehand, but they left behind a couple documents linked to the original plans for the war with Hedjaz. It is clear that these pagans are still within our ranks, stealing our best kept secrets and ready to use them against us. Who knows when they’ll strike again?
It is unfortunate that the cultists were not caught red-handed, for it made the eventual declaration of war more damning. Hedjaz knew we were coming and any explanation we gave for war only sounded faulty to the world. The Cult of Chernobog has made us look like war-hungry fools, even as we move to destroy them. I can only hope that one day we root out this foul pagan group once and for all so that the Empire can continue on in peace.
While this was happening, the Empire of Mexico experienced a revolution, thrusting a liberal party into power. The UTA took advantage of this to declare a war for Arizona. They asked us to join, and We agreed. However, as Mexico still had no army, We sent no legions.
By late December of 1856, the Empire was prepared again for war with Hedjaz. XI. Legio began the usual sea circuit, defeating an army in Tacloban.
Meanwhile, I. Legio and XIX. Legio made the usual invasion of Hedjaz proper, with XIX. Legio diverting to defeat an army attacking Beersheba. Enthusiasm for war was high. But this was a short war, with Hedjaz agreeing to peace in March of 1857.
With the end of this war, We learned better how to manipulate both Nationalist and Imperialist notions to demonstrate the superiority of the Empire and of its citizens.
We further sought to better understand the past glory of the Empire by sending archaeological expeditions to Egypt.
The philosophers of the University of Constantinople claimed that society had discoverable laws as in natural philosophy, so We funded created chairs for several new philosophers to seek these laws.
Late in the year, we added Bastar to Our sphere of influence, securing even more dye for our factories.
The philosophers had not been able to find simple laws governing the way society operated.
However, other philosophers proposed that society could be described as a series of overlapping functions. So chairs were funded for them.
In the beginning of 1858, Russia declared war on Iraq, claiming more eastern Siberian land as theirs. They eventually won the war, also giving Persia some of Iraq’s land as prize for assistance in that theater.
And we faced another rebellion. This time Jacobins, who rose in Aurillac. We raised funding to the legions so they would be put down with minimal harm. This increased funding to the army proved well when Bavaria insulted one of Our ambassadors.
Bavaria had recently won wars against Germany and Hungary and had expanded at their expense. We decided it was well to put them in their place. Bavaria’s armies flooded across the Alps, and XXVII. Legio sought to stem the tide. Meanwhile, XXIII. Legio swept in from the east, chasing a Bavarian army before finally confronting and completely defeating them in the province XXIII. Legio had first been occupying. And X. Legio stuck against Bavaria’s allies in Thuringia in the west. The fierceness of the Imperial attack stunned Bavaria, and they soon surrendered.
When corruption in the state industrial departments was shown, We began investigating, eventually ending subsidies to the worst factories. As expected, other factories were able to provide jobs to the displaced workers.
The philosophic investigations into the functions comprising society were completed, and while useful still did not provide a complete picture of society.
However, the recent wars had hurt the Legions. Not from the fighting, but again from disease, harsh weather, and the like. So We again sought for natural philosophers to seek solutions to these problems by finding better materials for uniforms, gunpowders, and other supplies.
As they did so, We continued slowly closing clipper factories, always ensuring that the displaced workers had new jobs, even encouraging new industries better fitted for their regions. With the closing of many clipper factories, We thought it prudent to have the navy develop design for steamers to replace the Empire’s old Man-‘O-War ships.
Finally, there seems to be sufficient support to make political reforms in the Empire. Though We are firmly of the opinion that elections are not needed. We are able to correctly select the best Senators to advise Us.
Is there ever a time that the UTA is not at war with the Mexicans over this land or that land? It is frankly exhausting hearing about them and their repetitious efforts to conquer the continent.
I trust your judgment implicitly, Your Majesty. There is no need to consult the people when you always have their best interests at heart. It would only limit your ability to perform your duties.
- Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
It’s good to hear that Your Majesty considered our suggestion of not involving Legions in UTA’s wars, but I’m afraid that our reaction was to slow, as we can see, with Mexico having no armies, UTA is now capable of expanding into the rest of continent without our help. Let’s just hope that they won’t turn against us in the future.
Also, after recent events of terrorist attacks our citizens seem to want political reform, especially Free press, that would, in their opinion, ensure them thruthful informations about the state of Empire and the World. I suggest creating some sort of illusion, let non-state press function, but only after our approval, thus making sure that our citizens will be free from dangerous and radical ideologies. That should also satisfy their need of political reform, thus avoiding radical changes like elections.
- Senator Alexios Damaskinos
Elections…the very word reeks of the liberal menace!
I see no harm in letting the people have greater control over the press, if we censor anything that could harm the Empire. It is surely better than the nonsense that is elections. We haven’t needed them for centuries, so why start now?
- Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
Another glorious victory for the Imperium!
I believe we should consider terminating the alliance with the Tribes so we do not keep getting dragged into their endless wars.
Furthermore, I propose that we create a commission that would study the effects and viability of a press run by the populace. It may reduce discontentment from non-Greek peoples if they are allowed to express their grievances in print. However, the press should be carefully monitored, of course.
I would be curious to see how our statisticians in the Diplomatic Corps rank the Great Powers of the world. - Mikael Moustakas
Nikephoros motions to a servant, who hands him a thick file with the double-headed eagle seal of the Imperial House Doukas and the letter “X” stamped on it.
I almost forgot, Her Imperial Highness has directed me to give a report regarding the details of major rebel activities since 1854, which have been gathered into this file. I shall refer to this file and all subsequent files as the “Chi Files.”
Servants hand out copies to the other senators.
You may be wondering…why am I tasked with documenting small and isolated rebellions? Well, the answer is that they’re not so isolated after all, as I found out personally.
When the first rebellion broke out in Athens, my house was burned down, with my wife and servants all brutally murdered and dismembered; the local tagmata managed to help me escape but could not return in time to save my wife or servants. Leading the mob of so-called reactionaries was a Slavic-looking man with an eye-patch, promising to bring down the Empress for her crimes against tradition. When I found my wife’s body, a sign was nailed into her head, with the following written in blood: “The Cult Remembers.”
Yes - the Cult, the same one that almost killed the Empress, is behind this.
In the next few years, as rebellions broke out in France, Varna (nearly killing my son), Egypt, and Southern Hispania, with their ideologies ranging from Jacobin to reactionary, all of them shared a defining characteristic: a Slavic-looking man with an eye-patch led them and managed to escape the tagmatas sent to crush the rebellions every single time. We know this man as Iosef Ignatieff, the leader of a savage pagan cult practicing abominable human sacrifice to their Dark Gods and bent on the destruction of the Empire. He came very close to doing that in 1854.
A couple days ago, I found this letter in the mail. Let me close by reading it out to you:
“To the Duke who is now a duke and the Doukas who is not emperor:
Your Empire’s efforts at crushing rebels are in vain. The Cult is many-headed. Sever one head, and two more shall take its place. Soon we shall succeed - the Empire shall fall, and Chernobog shall feast on humanity. It is even better if you die; my seers tell me that the death of the Duke and the Artist shall being about the death of the Empress and the House of Doukas, and they are never wrong. We’ve sent men to Venice to handle the Artist already.
As for you in your city of Constantinople? We don’t need to send anybody. We have men there right now, in the Senate itself. I can tell you, there are twelve worshippers of Chernobog among the ranks of your “loyal senators” as you read this.
That’s all I have. Any questions?
You are wrong senator Damaskinos. Give them an once of liberty and then they will ask for more. Let the reforms come when the Empire is ready. No need to listen to the demands of the rabble!
I wonder if this Polish-Lithuanian “union” will last. Often dual-sytems end up dismantled because there can be only one ruler in an ideal state. Do they claim Imperial or Ukrainian territory ?
Also I hope we’ll get to know more about the wonders of Egypt. Such civilization needs to be understood better!
With no action, the people will grow restless. It is wrong to assume the people do not already want some form of change. There was a popular saying where I come from. “Sometimes, the hardest time to notice something is when it’s most obvious”. We can keep putting off change, and we can keep ignoring the populace. For how long though? A year? A decade? A century? Eventually the people will grow restless with no change. I am not in support of a rebellion or immediate change, but I do want these words to be heeded.
the status of our navy should be updated
Has anybody bothered to read the files I passed it just now? May I remind you that there are twelve traitors within our ranks as we speak?
do you have proof about this accusations or any links between the government and this traitors?have you authenticated the letter and how did they get the letter through your guards perhaps you should clean house first
If you had attended the previous Senate session, you would have found that a traitor had been exposed while the Senate was in session. He confessed to working with the Cult.
If you had taken a closer look at the files I passed out, you would have found that the leader of the Cult sent me a letter proclaiming that there are twelve traitors within the Senate. Claiming that the Cult poses no threat to the Empire would be a very bad idea.
can you authenticate the letter and as for the exposed traitor are you sure its part of the cult or just confessed because it wants to start a witch hunt and destabilize the government making it hard to trust our fellow senators ?
The letter is written in the Cyrillic script, with handwriting that has been identified to be that of the Cult leader. I am merely doing my duty for the Empire, and I want to get rid of these traitors as much as the rest of us do.
As for the traitor, upon an investigation of his house we found that he had been conducting human sacrifices, complete with an altar and a book on Slavic paganism. There were also letters from the Cult leader found, and they have been compared to the letter I have received. The handwritings are the same.
have you found any information on the traitor senator so we can remove them the longer we take to unmask them the harder it will be to remove them from their position and have you check if there any links between the cult and the royal family there might be some member there if they are so widespread as you said.
I’m afraid that if you want more information on the traitor, you’ll have to ask the Intelligence Division; I don’t know what they have found and if I did I would not have the authority to tell you.
I am not sure about the royal family…an investigation shall be recommended to Her Imperial Highness at once.
head of the Intelligence Division
im writing in regard to the traitor who you recently apprehended in the senate im wondering have you found any links between the cult and the imperial family im worried they may attempt to seize power if a member of the family is willing to support them. i have my suspicions of someone in the imperial family because of his trips to Russia informer has tip me off that something happen on his trip but we are not sure exactly what here an image my informer manage to get to me before he disappear.
Alexios Damaskinos whispers to Senator Doukas.
I know that being witness of such terrible events can change a man and I’m sorry I was in Riga and not in Constantinople back then, but you have to listen to me my friend. This letter is not a proof. Maybe one of Senators from other party wrote it to provoke you. You can’t say such things in public. You do realize that you accused over half of the Senate of being traitors? You really want to make yourself enemies, after all those years of cooperation between Senators? Listen to my friendly advice and reconsider it.
perhaps you are right but it comes from doukas if we cannot trust him who should we trust?
call the guard to protect the senate in the future
Sir, my apologies. I did not mean to offend anybody. I was trying to do good in the name of the Empire. I shall retract my claims and instead send out copies to other senators so that they can decide for themselves the nature of the potential threat.
I apologize to my fellow senator for saying that there were traitors among us i suggest that we follow doukas example and make our own judgement before accusing anyone.
anyone in the intelligence division get my report?
Replies to the Senate
The wars between the UTA and Mexihco seem tiresome, but they make sense. Mexihco and the UTA both easily expanded among peoples similar to themselves, and eventually Mexihco also expanded into western America, which is sparsely settled and loosely-controlled. The UTA only contends for this area, not for the Mexihcan heartland. Nevertheless, it seems unnecessary to aid them in these wars.
With your suggestions, We believe that the state newspapers can be augmented with privately-run newspapers. Provided, of course, that these private newspapers are willing to allow for state oversight, to ensure they do not publish material harmful to the Empire.
As for Poland-Lithuania, We shall see how they fair. They claim no Imperial nor Ukrainian territory, and seem more focused on expansion in the Indochina peninsula.
Senator Smithereens, We agree regarding the navy. Once designs for better heavy ships are made, then We shall begin a mass building project for the navy, ensuring Imperial superiority.
We have no further information regarding the cult beyond what senator Doukas has been able to offer. We shall have Our agents continue to investigate.
But in happier news, We have borne yet another child, princess Veatriki. As well, princess Veronica has married Prince Frederick of Germany. We truly are blessed.
Do the Senators have any other questions or comments?
Congratulations on the birth of another child, my Empress. My she live a happy and healthy life.
- Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
Congratulations on the new baby and the marriage, Your Highness. God bless the imperial family!
Your Imperial Highness,
Congratulations on the new daughter and son-in-law! I hope this leads to peaceful relations with the Germans in the future! As for the Cult, I shall continue searching for clues to their whereabouts. They shall not rest while I am still alive!
~Senator Doukas, Minister of Security
Closing the Session
As always, thank you for your time and your advice. This session of the Senate is now concluded.