Senators, It is my sad duty to announce the death of Emperor Konstantinos XX on 20 May, 1910. For now, only small groups may visit his body. In time it will be brought to the Grand Palace, where his funeral will be held on the 20th. After the funeral, Emperor Konstantios XIII will make an address to the Senate.
The Empress Veronica lasted more than 30 years, and this one barely 10. May the Emperor rest in peace. -Senator Marco
As Minister of Intelligence, I have received very worrying news. Russia is preparing for total war and seeking an alliance with nations everywhere in the world to destroy this Empire. Asia might also become a hotbed of war. I have received reports from everywhere in this world that many nations are preparing for war. We must mobilize, unite, and meet this threat wherever the threat may happen to be! -Senator Palaiologos
Michael Doukas is strangely absent from the beginning of this session. A letter is delivered to Senator Palaiologos, with Doukas's signature on it. An official from the Ministry of Security sits in Doukas's chair to answer questions intended for the senator. "Pardon me for communicating in this way, I seem to have been caught up in some unexpected business. I never said you advocated for unnecessary violence, but I have heard other self-proclaimed "fascists" in the streets calling for the extermination of non-Greeks and communists. And for clarification, we in the Ministry of Security only resort to violence as a last resort; the Secret Police has legal and bureaucratic safeguards designed to prevent its abuse, and I am pleased to report that it is functioning exactly as planned." The Ministry of Security has also received word of Russia's preparation for global war. I strongly urge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attempt to resolve this crisis diplomatically without resorting to war, though if war is inevitable Senator Doukas and the Ministry shall support it completely and utterly.
My condolences to the imperial family. The entire empire will mourn the loss of its late emperor. May Emperor Konstantios XIII reign with the wisdom of his grandmother, Empress Veronica. So much tragedy in the world. The largest ship in the world sunk by an iceberg and thousands lost to floods in the Lowlands. - Senator Raphael Favero
That is why we are here Raphael. We are here to discuss the best options of the empire and how to stop such disasters from happening again. -Senator Marco
"Would we not have heard some word from the Basileus if this were true? A statement should be made to the press to alert the populace, methinks." -Senator Angelos
I hope it can be resolved diplomatically. Just in case diplomacy fails, we should evacuate the border provinces, and ask for help from Ming and Ukraine. We should mobilize as well. -Senator Marco
Alexios' hands twitch violently when he hears this. "Evacuate the border provinces? Where would they go? Who would be tasked with this? What possible good would that serve?"
The MoS officer sighs. "It is not feasible to evacuate the citizens in border themes, but perhaps we could issue partial mobilization orders and increase troop amounts there instead to prepare for potential invasions until this all blows over?"
What does no one trust the Minister of Intelligence? If one person has to know something, then shouldn't the Minister of Intelligence know? -Senator Palaiologos
"If any ministry has to know something, I would certainly expect the Basileus, and in time the Boule, to hear about it, otherwise I might suspect that one arm of the government is attempting to keep secrets from the others arms." -Senator Angleos
Then what is the Minister of Security for? The Emperor is very busy and he cannot be bothered sometimes. The Ministry of Intelligence is an independent entity in the government to better collect information and carry out espionage missions. We give the Emperor briefings, not the other way around. Would you like direct information or information that has been passed on through a middleman? -Senator Palaiologos
"Strangely enough, I am not reassured that any single person can be trusted with the security of the Empire and without oversight. It should be the job of any minister to inform the Basileus, or us, his representatives in the Boule, when anything of import is revealed, especially as all the ministries are allegedly cooperating, are they not?" -Senator Angelos
Reactionary fools always seek to bring back outdated ideas to this Empire. I will let the Basileus decide on this matter over a puny, reactionary senator! -Senator Palaiologos
"How generous of you that you decide on upon what the Basileus may pass judgement. Take care that you do not forget your place in this empire - just because you fascists have entered the Boule with the name of the imperial bodyguards of old, that hardly distracts from your much weaker and less influential position in politics." -Senator Angelos
One day, one day, you will regret your words. One day, the Varangian Guard will have the power in this Empire because the people know the truth. They what is best for them. They know that the reactionaries are fools, communists are a danger to society, the liberals are traitors, and the socialists deserve to be hanged. One day, I will look upon this conversation and know I spoke the truth. The people will know I spoke the truth. The Emperor will know. This Empire is falling apart from both internal and external threats while you smugly look on. -Senator Palaiologos
"The people know what is best for them?" Alexios laughs coldly. "Well, clearly either you are deluded or the people of the Empire are quite unlike any other person, past or present, who has ever bestrode the globe. Perhaps you should go and lie down, senator; you have become quite overwrought with your own hubris."
Do you wonder why the Communists rise up? It is because of you old, senile fools stopping progress throughout the Empire. Russia has seen our weakness, our internal divisions thanks to reactionaries like you, and now they seek to destroy us while you still bicker with me about what the people know! -Senator Palaiologos
"It takes two to tango, as I believe they say in the lower bars of the city. Besides, I am on record for proposing plans through which the Ministry of Education can heal our internal divisions, as is my job, whereas you simply wish to bypass the Boule and maybe inform the Basileus of your unilateral actions, if you see fit. "If anyone here is weak, Minister Palaiologos, that would be you." -Senator Angelos
We shall see, we shall see. -Senator Palaiologos
The Ministry of Security official sighs and sips his tea. And this is why Minister Doukas and I have concluded that arguing with fascists will get you nowhere.
Senators, thank you for honoring Our father today.
To avoid confusion, We will be taking the regnal name Michael, making Us the seventh of that name. Regarding the royal family, We are married to Princess Veronica Maria of Denmark, and have six children. Konstantinos was born in 1894, Alvértos in 1895, Maria in 1897, Errikos in 1900, Michael in 1902, and Alexander in 1905.
Now, let Us share the address Our father had been preparing:
As the fortifications of the Empire completed their upgrades, Senator Theodosio’s reforms of the legions’ command structure began to take effect. We focused Our efforts on ensuring electricity was available all throughout the Empire, and in consistent manners, as opposed to the patchwork of systems that were in place.
Shortly thereafter, We received news of a terrible earthquake in San Francisco. We promised what aid We could to the UTA.
Immediately, I. Legio attacked from the north, seeking to capture the Hedjaz capital of Kaf. Meanwhile, XIX. Legio attacked from the west, seeking to capture as much territory as possible. And the Red Sea Fleet sought the Hedjaz navy in order to sink it.
Scotland, it seemed, did not agree. England had tried to force them into their sphere of influence, but Scotland resisted. And instead of imposing impossibly harsh terms, Scotland instead took only an English colony. A colony that England could not defend in any case.
In July of 1907, the Royal Society announced a prize for the first to reach the South Pole. We immediately set about outfitting an expedition. Shortly thereafter, We were invited to send a team to the fourth Olympics. We began creating the team.
In October, strategies for promoting economic responsibility had been laid. We began laying a legal framework that would allow the Central Bank of the Empire to work according to the newer economic theories.
By May this framework was ready and We passed the National Banking Act to implement it. We then began laying the legal framework for banks that could serve as a means of indirectly investing in businesses.
Communists took this for a moment of weakness and again rebelled in force. We did take the opportunity to allow trade unions to organize themselves, provided they did not attempt to advocate politically.
Of course, this was not a moment of weakness. Mosul fell to I. Legio quickly, and Iraq surrendered once it had done so. The legions swept through the various rebels like something out of a legend, and by early January 1909, the rebellion had been defeated.
And once the rebellion was over, We rethought the trade unions and allowed them to advocate for political reforms. This would channel their efforts in peaceful directions. Of course, the capitalists of the Empire disliked this, but We refused to waver.
In July, Our expedition to the South Pole returned, having not reached their goal. Undeterred, We funded a second expedition. And in October, Our athletes did well at the Olympics, bringing much glory to the Empire.
In January 1910, We discovered just how unhappy the communists had been with the trade union reforms instead of more direct reforms, as they again rose up throughout the Empire. But as always, they were defeated. This time by ADD PLACEHOLDER FOR WHEN REBELS WERE DEFEATED.
… As you can tell, Senators, the rebels were not completely defeated by the time of his death, thus the odd note in his address. However, they are close to being fully defeated.
Finally, but four days ago, as my father was lying in state, Jacob rebels rose throughout the Empire. These rebels, though are more than within the capabilities of the legions.
Now, to address your concerns regarding Russia and reforms…
A messenger enters the chambers and brings a telegram to Emperor Michael. He pales, swallows, then looks back to the Senators. Senators, there is a matter I must address immediately. I shall return in a few minutes.
Perhaps we can also find out the reason for Senator Doukas's absence? Last I heard he was assigned to lead a security detail to protect the Emperor on one of his recent trips. -The Ministry of Security Officer
At least we taught Iraq and Hejaz to keep out of our colonial spheres. Indonesia belongs to Rome. Of course Russia would be the one to call for a total war as the new type of warfare. They care nothing for the thousands of innocents that would be slaughtered through the use of such a strategy. The emperor was kind enough to grant those damned socialists and communists some control of trade unions, and in turn they rose up violently anyway. They clearly know no other way to solve problems. Why we continue to tolerate their rebellious behaviour is beyond me. - Senator Raphael Favero
I completely agree with Senator Favero. We need to abolish the trade unions and establish syndicates that work for the greater good of the Empire. I await your announcement, my Basileus. -Senator Christophoros Palaiologos
"How will syndicates function any differently to trade unions? Besides, if you try to centralise the control of industry, that's what the communists want, whereas if you attempt to legislate for the conditions and labour requirements of the workforce, you are instituting socialist ideals. "As I said before, the only other thing to do is to re-educate the populace, so if we wish to teach the trade unions a lesson, we mandate that they are responsible for ensuring that their members speak Greek and hold the unions personally liable for the social disorder that their members cause. "If we wish to be even more radical, we can insist that their members are in communion with the Orthodox church, and then allow Jewish, Catholic, Protestant or Muslim unions as appropriate, so that all our potential offenders are in one place." -Senator Angelos
How will we trust all the minorities? I am sure many are good people but some are threats to this society! How do you tell a Cult member from an ordinary minority? I agree though, if we must have trade unions, we must hold them to the highest standards of this Empire and force through reforms good for this Empire. Syndicates are better because they are dedicated to the advancement of this Empire, not socialist ideals nor class warfare. -Senator Palaiologos
Tell me, fascists, why is your faction called the Varangians? Were they not Norsemen and not Greeks at first? -The Ministry of Security Officer
Alexios says drily, "I would imagine that it's the job of the Ministry of Security to determine threats to the Empire, not the Ministry of Education." -Senator Angelos
Ah, yes but you see, the Varangian Guard proved their absolute, undying loyalty to the Empire, to the Emperor, and to the people multiple times. Can you say that about other non- Greeks? What about the Cult? The Varangian Guard fought for the greater good of the Empire, they assimilated into Greek culture too! -Senator Palaiologos
How do you define assimilation? Is it ethnoracial assimilation, or just cultural assimilation? How do you know it has been completed? -The Ministry of Security Officer
Both. Do you see Norse people who practice the Norse religion and have Norse culture? I think not. -Senator Palaiologos
Do you see Ashkenazi Jews and Arab Muslims? I think so. -The Ministry of Security Officer
Bah, stop mocking me you old reactionary. They have not assimilated and may even join the cult! -Senator Palaiologos
Are you talking to me? Because neither me nor Senator Doukas, whom I represent in his absence, are reactionaries or sympathize with reactionaries. We are liberals. If you want a reactionary to talk to, please talk with Senator Favero. I prefer you insult me properly and get my ideological leanings correct. -The Ministry of Security Officer
Both of you harbor old,traditional, reactionary ways of thinking in your "liberal" ideology. Liberalism is as great as a threat to this Empire as reactionism or the Cult. -Senator Palaiologos
Senators, We have received notice that several regions of the Empire have declared independence. Among them are Brittania, Wales, Flanders-Wallonia, France, Burgundy, Aquitaine, Brittany, Catalonia, Spain, Italy, Azerbaijan, Israel, Mataram, Java, the Philippines, Australia, Aoteorea, and South Africa.
However, these borders may yet change. In addition to be at war with the Empire, many are at war with each other: Spain claims the rulership of all Iberia, France hopes to take from Flanders-Wallonia, France also hopes to take Champagne from Burgundy, Burgundy hopes to take Wallonie from Flander-Wallonia, Aquitaine hopes to take the Rhone region from Burgundy, Java hopes to unite the island by defeating Mataram, and Brittania hopes to unite their island be conquering Wales.
The legions are in disarray, it seems many have seen fighting break out among the regiments recruited in the rebellious provinces and those not raised there. Wait. Are all the Senators still present?
I will personally flay the Italian scum who dared rebel against the Emperor in my home province. Disloyalty must be met with death. I shall support the Emperor in all endeavours to restore order to the Empire. This shall be the last time we tolerate such rebellious behaviour from the provinces. - Senator Raphael Favero
My Emperor, I have arrived to declare my unwavering, absolute loyalty to this Empire. I am shocked my home province has revolted against rightful Imperial rule. I am sending Nicaean Guardsmen to assist you in our struggle against the traitorous rebels. The fascists will stand by the Emperor and this Empire no matter what! I ask you, my Emperor, to serve in the army as a general against the hordes of traitors revolting against Roman rule. I will lead the restoration of order in Britannia against all odds and all costs. -Senator Christophoros Palaiologos, Dux of Nicaea, exiled governor of Britannia
My Emperor, Sorry for my brief message and my absence at this time. I am currently trying to make sure the workers of these states refuse to produce weapons for the rebels. I will work diligently to try to bring the workers to the side of the Empire, however there has been talk of a People's Republic based on a greater Frankish nation, this change to a workers state may mean many of my party would seek to betray us. - Senator Gael
The Ministry of Security official stands up. "I suppose it is time to tell you all what really happened to the emperor," he says, "He was assassinated by Cultists while touring a city in Georgia, near the border with Russia. How do I know this? Because I have a film showing the assassination itself, procured by the Ministry of Security. Watch at your own peril." He puts a reel of film into a projector and turns on the device. Light streams out, and images appear on the far wall to any senators still present. This is what the film documented: Abkhazia, Georgia The train station bustled around Michael Doukas. One more middle-aged man disembarking with his servants juggling the luggage behind was nothing to remark. The Emperor who walked next to him, with four well-paid and extremely careful Varangians about him, decidedly was. So was his anxious care for the emperor's safety. He looked about. Passengers were flooding off the train through the connecting corridor, meeting their personal attendants, and those were hailing uniformed porters as luggage was brought in and placed on long tables. Fur hats and head scarves and hats in a hundred different colors waved against the rows of ticket offices along the walls, and swirled through the doorways to waiting cabs or restaurants or shops. Families and friends greeted each other with cool reserve, or glad cries and embraces—his lip curled a little in scorn at that until they all bowed in respect to him and the emperor and cleared a path for him. Some of the servants were holding up signs with names on them, to guide arriving guests to the carriages of their hosts, or in a few cases to their motorcars. Voices and unintelligible clunks and clanks from the machinery elsewhere filled the air along with the scent of incense in the man-high stone jars that stood here and there on the marble of the floor. The last light of sunset speared down from the high clerestory windows, off the bright gilding that covered the arched ceiling; then the floods came on with a pop and flare of brightness that turned it to a shimmering haze of gold. Interesting, he thought, looking up as he always did here. The building was five years old, and the spiderweb complexity of gilt, groined vaulting above him was all laminated wood, the latest thing—everything from teak to bamboo, in precisely calculated gradients. And the mathematics had been done here at Tblisi, at the local university. The rest was not much different from a European railway station, even to the murals of Unity, Romanitas, and Strength and other uplifting sentiments lining the upper walls. Bronzed Indian engineers in dusty turbans laying out irrigation canals, with grateful peasants invoking Christ in the background; missionaries in some godsforsaken ruin (probably Africa) reclaiming hairy savages who crouched in awe at their feet; noble kataphraktoi heroic on rearing steeds, trampling cringing enemies beneath their hooves. He snorted slightly; they'd left out the traders with crates of gin and beads and cheap rifles, and the prospectors. Whenever he saw official military art, he tended to laugh. Or curse, if he'd had a gin and tonic or two, and swear at how many young subalterns got killed trying to act out nonsense like that before they learned better. "Your Imperial Highness! Senator Doukas!" a voice called. He craned his neck, then saw him. "Strategos Dalassenos!" he replied happily. His old friend beamed at him, a wide white smile across his face, which was darkened by years of service in the tropics; he was a tall man in his early forties, in formal military uniform, black waistcoat and canoe-shaped hat. He gave a nod and a word to Doukas's two Varangians; Strategos Ioannes Dalassenos was a kindly man as well as one of the Empire's foremost military leaders on the verge of promotion to Megas Domestikos. Although it didn't hurt that his family had become fabulously wealthy with jute mills and shares in Balkan coal mines; he could have dropped the purchase price of Michael's own estates across a gaming table with a laugh. Not that a general of the Roman legions would go in for high-stakes gambling. A half dozen others followed, mostly Varangians, except for an Italian who was with the Ministry of Intelligence, and male. They all crowded around the emperor, looking at him with awed reverence before snapping to attention and forming a loose defensive perimeter around him. "It is an honor to meet you, your Highness," said Dalassenos Michael nodded. "Indeed." he said. "Oh, my, yes indeed," Dalassenos crooned. "Very much so, yes." The emperor snorted and rubbed his hands together. "We would appreciate it if we could get moving very soon. We have a schedule to keep to and audiences to meet." "Yes, Your Highness," said Michael Doukas. To the Varangians, he said, "Let's move!" He paused to wave the Varangians forward again. There was a commotion a little way off, but he ignored it until someone shouted. Then he did look up, frowning. Men were pushing their way in, against the flow of the crowd. Several of them, young men; Russians by their looks and dress. One of them shouted again: "для России-матушки!" (dlya Rossii-matushki) For Mother Russia, he translated automatically. Why, that's— Then he saw the pistols, and for a moment simply gaped. Revolvers, big and heavy and clumsy-looking, with long barrels. Why, that's illegal! he thought. The pistols were violently illegal for anyone but the military and police; private licenses were extremely rare even among nobility. He had time for one thought before the first weapon boomed. Cultists— Time slowed. The men came toward the knot of Varangians, generals, and nobles, shouldering the crowd aside amid shouts and gasps of surprise and indignation. The pistols barked, deep and loud, with long spurts of smoke and flame. Michael saw the Emperor turning, astonishment on his plain middle-aged face, a suitcase in either hand. Then he spun, catching at himself and crying out. That brought the former Lancer out of his daze. He had been a Doukas and Minister of Security, with all the responsibilities toward dependents that involved. Without another thought he dived, catching the emperor and throwing them to the ground, his own body over him and sicken-ingly conscious of blood soaking through the fabric of his clothes, wet and warm over the hands he clamped down to stop its spurting. That gave he a view of what happened afterward. A third man carried something besides a pistol, a cloth bundle that trailed a hissing and plume of smoke... Ioannes Dalassenos recognized it as a bomb almost as soon as him. It was pitched to fall in the middle of the group; the explosion would shatter the metal and wood into lethal shrapnel and kill everyone within a dozen yards. Michael grabbed the parcel out of the air with the skill of the fast-bowling tzykanion player he'd been, and curled himself around it. He squeezed his eyes tight, and then he felt nothing more. --- Ioannes Dalassenos could not shut out the horribly muffled thudump of the explosion, or the feel of what spattered him, or the smell. He forced his eyes open; there were still the men with revolvers—and men willing to set off bombs under their own feet would be horribly dangerous with firearms as well. There was one more shot, and something crashed and tinkled in the middle distance. Half the crowd was stampeding in terror, some trampling those ahead of them. The emperor drew his ceremonial blade and began a lunge, staggered as two lead slugs struck him square in the chest, lunged again with his sword, a murderously sharp length of fine Damascus steel. It rammed through coat and ribs to emerge dripping red from a Cultist's back. The emperor withdrew the sword and stepped back, finding a dagger rammed into his chest, right below his heart. He collapsed just seconds later. Then the four young men disappeared beneath a wave of men wielding swords, knives, walking sticks, fists and feet and a wrought-brass cuspidor stained with betel juice. Despite the nausea that clogged his throat, despite screams and cries and horror, Ioannes thought he saw brief bewilderment on the faces of the Cultists; and that puzzled him itself. Why would Cultists be afraid when they were basically a death cult? After the explosion and the brief deadly scrimmage things moved by in a blur; imperial doctors, one putting a pressure bandage on the emperor's wound, stretchers carrying away the wounded. Police came running up, men in red and yellow uniforms with long clubs. Hands helped him to the rim of a fountain, where he sat staring. A loud wail emerged from where other survivors had gathered around the emperor's still body; the doctors could not save the Basileus. "Strategos." The voice was firm; he looked up. A thirtyish man in plain crimson-and-green civilian clothes, but with two uniformed policemen behind him, a notebook in his hand and a pistol in a shoulder holster under his red jacket. "Captain John al-Mustansir," he said gently—in good Greek but with an Arab accent. "My apologies, sir, but we must take statements before memories fade and change. Now—" During the questions someone thrust a mug of hot sweet tea into his hand. He lifted it and drank without worrying about the blood on his hands; he had gone through a lot worse. A little strength returned, enough for him to ask in his turn: "Why? Captain al-Mustansir, why? Is it the Cult?" "Subversives—yes, Cultists—enemies of the Empire. We think it's them, but they have never operated this far east before. One may live long enough to answer questions, if we are lucky. Very strange." "Senator Doukas was a very brave man," the captain said, looking down at his notebook. "Without him, several others might have died." Ioannes shivered again, barely conscious of the detective muttering to himself as he made quick shorthand notes: "Very strange... the pistols were foreign. Russian armory cap-and-ball make; but the Tsar's men are not so foolish, are they?" He burst out: "Why would the Russians come all the way from Moscow to attack us at this point? Why not sooner?" "I do not know, sir," the policeman said, tucking his notes away. "But I would very much like to know." On the conclusion of the film, a woman in senatorial robes walks into the room, and the Ministry of Security official walks out. "Your Majesty, I am Senator Theodora Anna Doukas, eldest daughter of Michael Doukas, who was savagely killed alongside your father by the Cult. I declare my complete loyalty to you and to the one true Empire. I am shocked that the Palestinians have rebelled for a second time against the Empire despite the kind and caring policies of my father. They have abducted my brother and are likely torturing him into renouncing rightful Imperial rule as we speak. Our branch of the Doukas family will not follow the bloody path of my uncle Konstantinos, and we will mobilize and rally all available troops and militias in Greece, including the Athenian Lancers, to your command. I hope to serve you as Minister of Security as my father had so that my brother may be found and we can together triumph over the traitors who dare reject the rule of the benevolent Emperor!"
"Italy of course should be the first to fall. The quarrelling Franks and Britons can keep themselves busy. The Angeloi are for the Empire!" -Senator Angleos