The Hohenzollern Empire 5: Renewed Phoenix - A Roman Reich Megacampaign in New World Order

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Cordoba

Berlin - July 3

“A cappuchino for a…Angelica Havs?” the barista called.

Angelica walked over to the counter. “Yeah, that’s me. And it’s Haus.”

“That will be four marks,” the barista said.

Angelica held her card to the scanner. The scanner buzzed.

“I’m sorry, your card was declined,” the barista said.

“Weird,” Angelica said, “I definitely didn’t go over the balance.”

“Try it again?” the barista said.

Angelica held her card to the scanner again. No dice.

“Frak,” she said, “I’ll call the credit card company, ask them to sort it out.”

“Look, you can’t just walk out of here with free coffee,” the barista said, his eyes narrowing.

“I get it,” Angelica said, handing over some bills, “Here’s cash.”

“Okay,” the barista said.

He turned away. “Women these days. Irresponsible.”

“What did you say?” Angelica said.

“You should have known better than to come here with an unusable credit card,” the barista said, “Of course, what would you know about money? Stupid b*tch.”

“I’d like to talk to the manager,” Angelica said.

“Okay, Karen,” the barista said.

“It’s HAUS!” Angelica said.


Damascus

“Thank you for your patience,” an automated male voice said, “Due to the unexpectedly high call volume, we are experiencing longer than average wait times. If you would like to continue to hold, please press or say ‘One’.”

“One,” Thea said.

“Thank you,” the automated male voice said, “A customer care representative will be talking with you shortly.”

Some lo-fi music played.

“Frakking liars,” Thea said.

Alexandra walked into the room, a phone in her hand.

“You too?” Thea said.

“And apparently every woman at the lab too,” Alexandra said.

“What?!” Thea said.

“Sounds like they froze any bank account with an ‘F’ on it,” Alexandra said.

“That’s ridiculous!” Thea said. “They can’t do that!”

“They apparently just did,” Alexandra said, “All they needed to do was just push a few buttons.”

“Is that legal?” Thea said.

“They just made it legal,” Alexandra said, reading her phone, “Imperial decree. Women can't own property now.”

“Wait, what?” Thea said. “Are you frakking serious?!”

“The Kaiser just announced it this morning, as part of the Second Nullification Act,” Alexandra said, “It’s a temporary moratorium while the Bureau of Housing and Urban Development reviews the laws and regulations around property management to remove any bias caused by affirmative action.”

“Yeah, sure, ‘temporary’,” Thea said, “Sure, removing any bias by targeting only women.”

“And it seems like bank accounts were also targeted,” Alexandra said.

“So where the frak does the money go?” Thea said.

“I think it says to husband or male next of kin,” Alexandra said.

“Oh, so Alex then,” Thea said, “That’s good.”

“You two aren’t married yet, like Magnus and I are,” Alexandra said, “Which means…”

“Oh no…” Thea said.


Tesla Dynamic, Frankfurt

Mina angrily slammed a slip of paper on Theodor’s desk.

“Explain yourself,” she said, “And why most of my stock options are suddenly gone.”

Theodor looked up from his computer. “What makes you think I have anything to do with this?”

“Because every time something crazy affects our company, it’s always traced back to you, and I have to clean up your mess,” Mina said.

Theodor leaned back in his chair. “Alright, you got me this time. I talked to the Kaiser, and he took my suggestion.”

“Wait...what suggestion?” Mina said.

“You know, this little Nullification Act,” Theodor said.

“You...you did all this?” Mina said.

“Yeah, sure I did,” Theodor said, “I couldn’t bear to see my dear sister traipsing around with some leftist Jewish street rat, so I took back her money.”

“Surely there is an easier way of going about it,” Mina said.

“Why would I take the easy way when I could kill two birds with one stone?” Theodor said. “Thea gets what she deserves, and so do you.”

Mina leaned forward, brow furrowed. “You...you did this to punish me?!”

“Yeah,” Theodor said, his smug expression not changing, “I did it.”

“Why are you admitting all of this now?” Mina said.

“I’ve got the Kaiser’s ear,” Theodor said, “What are you going to do to stop me?”

“If you want me to quit and turn over my responsibilities to you, think again,” Mina said, “I’m not going anywhere. This nullification act you’ve had a hand in won’t stop me.”

“What makes you think I’m done?” Theodor said.


Damascus

“They can’t just do this!” Thea said. “They can’t!”

“They can, and they just did,” Alexandra said, “The Kaiser’s word is law.”

“We’ve been under martial law since Bloody Tuesday,” Thea said, “They said all this was going to be temporary, while they captured the terrorists. But this? How does this have anything to do with capturing terrorists?”

“Maybe there were never any terrorists,” Alexandra said.

“Then what’s all this about?” Thea said.

“Something else,” Alexandra said.

“Something else?” Thea said. “Sounds like something your mom should be looking at.”

“Believe me, she is,” Alexandra said, “So far, she’s organized a bunch of protests. Main one’s going to be in Cordoba on the 5th.”

“And so will we,” Thea said.


Cordoba - July 5

Thea had never been to Cordoba before. Alexandra went there for her honeymoon, before all this madness happened. They were now in front of the Grand Temple of Cordoba…or what it would have been. The committee, with the support of the governor, had ordered it shut down after receiving a report that it was a hub for terrorists to hold meetings, recruit members, and plan attacks. Now its ancient spires and minarets played host to the large crowds gathered on the streets around it. Thea saw Alexandra waving a large sign in the direction of a line of police and Argus men in riot gear. It read “Enough is Enough,” ironically. She could barely hear anything over the cacaphony of the crowd.

“Come on!” Alexandra said. “Be angry!”

“What do you mean?” Thea said.

“Show them you don’t like this!” Alexandra said. “You don’t want this!”

“Yeah!” Thea said. “Women’s rights are human rights!”

“That’s right!” Alexandra said.

“The Kaiser is a jackbooted thug!” another protester shouted. “Down with the committee!”

“We want our freedom back!” someone else said.

As the protesters approached the police barricade, throwing food and trash, the Argus men tapped their earpieces, receiving orders. Then they stepped forward.

“Hey, Alexandra?” Thea said.

Alexandra couldn’t hear her. “WHAT THE HELL EVEN IS ROMANITAS NOWADAYS?”

“ALEXANDRA!” Thea said.

Alexandra turned around. “Yeah?”

“The police…” Thea said.

“What do you mean?” Alexandra said.

“I think we’re done,” Thea said.

“We’re just getting started,” Alexandra said.

“And so are they,” Thea said.

The Argus PMCs robotically raised their assault rifles and aimed at the protesters. Alexandra’s eyes widened. Thea tackled her to the ground just as Argus opened fire, the first few shots shredding through the lines of protesters, who fell like dominoes. The shouts of defiances turned into screams of pain and pleas for mercy, all muffled or interrupted by the unending gunfire. Thea helped Alexandra back on her feet, and they ran back down the street, dropping their signs behind them. Bodies dropped, and bullets pinged off the sidewalk concrete. A woman next to Thea was shot in the leg and went down, and her blood splattered on Thea’s arm. Others scattered in all directions, trying to dodge the gunfire.

“Over there!” Alexandra pointed at a cafe.

“That still too close!” Thea said.

The street in front of them exploded from the impact of a rocket-propelled grenade, through debris into the air. Shards of concrete struck Thea, bruising her cheek.

“Do we really have time to argue about this?” Alexandra said.

“Okay, okay!” Thea said.

They ran into the cafe and ducked under a table. Another protester followed them in, but he was shot in the back twice and fell through the doorway. Thea didn’t want to look at the body, but she couldn’t help but keep watching the doorway in case any gunmen came in. Another explosion shattered the glass, and the two women took cover under the table. Thea covered her ears, hoping to at least tune out the deafening gunfire if not the whole incident. This day had gone from great to terrifying in just a few seconds. What had the nation come to?
 
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Golden Dragon

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Okay, maybe they aren't trying to go back to the Angeloi days. They're trying to head back to the dark ages!!!
 

zenphoenix

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Okay, maybe they aren't trying to go back to the Angeloi days. They're trying to head back to the dark ages!!!
All aboard for a one way high speed trip back to the 11th century!
 

zenphoenix

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CaptainAlvious

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Wow, we really are seeing the Reich become Gilead. The fact that these dastards hold up Saint Wilhelmina in such high regard but still treat women like this really shows their hypocrisy. That said, it's weird to think that not too long ago we rooted for them because they combated Climate Change, along with other ideas Thierry wanted before Elias stabbed him in the back (rip). I don't see any progress made in that area so far.

I know Wihelm Karl was unpopular well before becoming a puppet for Elias, but all those laws that are being passed through the Kaiser must be having a negative effect on the legitimacy of the monarchy even if we assume the Blackmail never becomes public. If the Reich wasn't legally an absolute monarchy, I have a feeling the majority of those laws wouldn't be able to be passed and enforced by the Committee alone legitimately, since they fundamentally violate the Augustian Code.

That scene with the sexist barista at the beginning reminds of that scene where Jenna was also harassed by an barista while Josh was in college. Probably a coincidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same barista.

Also damn, Theodor is really petty for stripping away the rights of half the Roman population just because of a grudge he has with Mina and Thea.
Time Lords: "no"
I'd personally love for an anarchist assassin to suffocate Wilhelm Karl, the Committee and maybe Zhao too (since that guy hates Avatar for some reason along with being a dictator) to death, but I guess that possibility won't happen.

Speaking of Doctor Who, I know you won't be doing any summaries for the 13th Doctor like you said for Star Trek Discovery, Picard and SNW, but what do you think that era would like like in TTL based off the previous Doctor Who summaries you wrote?
 
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zenphoenix

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Wow, we really are seeing the Reich become Gilead. The fact that these dastards hold up Saint Wilhelmina in such high regard but still treat women like this really shows their hypocrisy. That said, it's weird to think that not too long ago we rooted for them because they combated Climate Change, along with other ideas Thierry wanted before Elias stabbed him in the back (rip). I don't see any progress made in that area so far.
It's all about power for these vultures. They see everything as a means to an end. They like Saint Wilhelmina for her heretic/minority purging, not bothering to see the nuance and the context behind that (not to justify it, but still).

Elias and the rest of the committee still do pursue environmental policies, but as you'll see they've been put on the backburner.

Remember how I said you would be rooting for the real bad guys?:p
I know Wihelm Karl was unpopular well before becoming a puppet for Elias, but all those laws that are being passed through the Kaiser must be having a negative effect on the legitimacy of the monarchy even if we assume the Blackmail never becomes public. If the Reich wasn't legally an absolute monarchy, I have a feeling the majority of those laws wouldn't be able to be passed and enforced by the Committee alone legitimately, since they fundamentally violate the Augustian Code.
Elias is very smart to use Wilhelm Karl as a punching bag. Just like how Roland Wilson got all of his unpopular actions directed at Schmidt and Thierry did the same with Merkel, now everything Elias does is being focused on Wilhelm Karl. People barely even know Elias is around and on the committee. They only know him as a quiet war veteran who rarely speaks in public. On the other hand, they see Wilhelm Karl passing all these decrees and instantly call him a tyrant and dictator. That will not change even if the committee is brought down. He is severely tarnishing the image of the monarchy, and he hates that he can't do anything about it.

Indeed. The only way Elias is pushing through these laws is as imperial decrees. Without the Kaiser under his control, he would not have been able to achieve this.
That scene with the sexist barista at the beginning reminds of that scene where Jenna was also harassed by an barista while Josh was in college. Probably a coincidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same barista.
I wasn't intending that, but I guess there's a parallel there.
Also damn, Theodor is really petty for stripping away the rights of half the Roman population just because of a grudge he has with Mina and Thea.
It gets worse.
I'd personally love for an anarchist assassin to suffocate Wilhelm Karl, the Committee and maybe Zhao too (since that guy hates Avatar for some reason along with being a dictator) to death, but I guess that possibility won't happen.
Probably won't happen, but if it does, Elias probably would survive and go on to [REDACTED] most of the nation.

Zhao hates Avatar because it represents Chinese culture better than he ever could, for all his talk about defending Chinese civilization.
Speaking of Doctor Who, I know you won't be doing any summaries for the 13th Doctor like you said for Star Trek Discovery, Picard and SNW, but what do you think that era would like like in TTL based off the previous Doctor Who summaries you wrote?
I'm thinking it would be more small-scale than previous eras. The new doctor finds a brand new crew of companions. Outwardly, she is cheerful and energetic, but this is a mask for her sorrow over Susan's loss again. Over the course of her tenure, she slowly comes to terms with losing Susan and vows to not lose her new crew the same way. As in OTL, the first season focuses on the companions' character development, new aliens, and historical events. The second season reintroduces older aliens and arcs, and I haven't seen the third season (if it's even out, I don't know). Although I was mostly onboard with the Timeless Child arc, I wouldn't do it here.

Unrelated, but I've been familiarizing myself with the Persona series lately and I've been floating around ideas for a Fire Emblem/Persona crossover (that isn't TMS) or just an inter-Persona crossover (focusing on P3-5 as 1 and 2 are very different from them). I don't think I'll do a full write-up because I am not as familiar with the gameplay mechanics as with Fire Emblem, and I wouldn't change the plots too significantly, but maybe I'll work something into Wilhelmina's dialogue at some point, if I can make it fit.
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Theodor really gunning for that Most Petty Person Ever award, stripping away countless rights of half the Reich's citizens because he doesn't like his sister's boyfriend.
 

zenphoenix

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Theodor really gunning for that Most Petty Person Ever award, stripping away countless rights of half the Reich's citizens because he doesn't like his sister's boyfriend.
He’s got a lot of competition for that award coming up...
 

zenphoenix

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Eva

Damascus - July 6

“What is this world coming to?” Bysandros said. “Just yesterday, an angry mob spouting borderline treasonous accusations assaulted without provocation a line of police officers just doing their duty. Yet another example of the left’s so-called tolerance in action. This nation is slowly healing from the divisions of Bloody Tuesday thanks to the efforts of the committee, but these people don’t appreciate how much has been done for them. All they want is to destroy and cancel and censor everything it means to be Roman, with the help of the mainstream media’s politically fueled opposition agenda. Joining me now is the committee representative of the LKR, with a public statement he’d like on the record.”

“Look, I understand the people’s frustrations,” the LKR representative said, “They are concerned with the course of this nation and where we are headed as a civilization and as a species. But these rioters are doing more harm than good. All they’re doing is proving they’re just as bad if not worse than the alleged injustices they claim. Both sides are the same!”

“And now back to our scheduled programming,” Bysandros said, “His Majesty recently announced an emergency expansion of the recently passed Second Nullification Act as a result of the avoidable atrocities in Cordoba.”

“To avoid similar tragedies and such needless loss of life in the future, I announce the following imperial decrees,” Wilhelm Karl said, “To benefit the common good, the properties of those killed on both sides in this riot will be sold in a state auction, with the proceeds being donated to the Shepherds’ Brotherhood charity. The national education curriculum will be overhauled to teach Roman students proper respect and patriotism. They shall learn how to sing the national anthem with the respect and decorum it deserves. Furthermore, all non-Christian religious sites, which have long been hotbeds of radicalism and sedition, are to be closed until further notice. We will bring those terrorists responsible for Cordoba to justice, for a safe and secure empire.”

Thea’s ears were still ringing, even two days later. She was home now, and yet she still frequently looked out the window just in case. The number of police officers on the block had more than doubled since Cordoba, and they were now armed with military-style weapons. She occasionally saw some Argus PMCs with them. The sight of their uniforms was already enough to make her recoil in fear.

Alexandra handed her another cup of tea. “Still feeling it?”

“Y-yeah,” Thea said, “I…I…”

“It’s okay,” Alexandra said, “I can still hear it too. If it’s too painful, it’s okay.”

“Alex…” Thea said.

“Called him for you,” Alexandra said, “He’s on his way.”

“When is…this…going to end?” Thea said.

“I don’t know, Thea,” Alexandra said.

“When will it stop?!” Thea said. “It’s like our good old rogue Kaiser, gott erhalte him, decided to book us a one-way high speed rail ticket all the way back to the 11th century, and we can’t get off the train!”

Alexandra looked around. “Calm down, please! Insulting the national anthem is now a felony punishable with a 1000 mark fine and three years in jail.”

“Of course he did that!” Thea said, “He really decided to pull an Angelos.”

“Also a felony now to insult the Kaiser,” Alexandra said, “Fifteen days at minimum.”

“GODDAMNIT!” Thea said. “I hope swearing isn’t a felony as well. Seriously, what the hell are we going to do now?”

“What can we do?” Alexandra said. “This is out of our control now.”

“Can’t your mom do something about this?” Thea said. “I don’t want to keep living in a world where I’m basically forced to give all of my money back to my brother and have to keep working pretty much for free!”

“Mom’s trying something,” Alexandra said.

“What, another Cordoba?” Thea said. “Remember what happened literally yesterday?”

“We’re not going to this one,” Alexandra said, “Mom is.”


Bremerhaven - July 23

It had been a long time since Anders was in his hometown. The last time he was here was many years ago. He never thought he would come back here after having settled in Constantinople. But destiny worked in strange ways, and here he was in the central square. About a hundred protesters had gathered in front of city hall today, defiantly making their voices heard. Bremerhaven wasn’t like most Roman cities. Its population had been one of the first to start protesting after Bloody Tuesday, with a demonstration held later that same day. And despite the threats and reprisals and crackdowns that snuffed out similar movements elsewhere, Bremerhaven persisted. Anders attributed it to the city’s leadership and law enforcement having survived Bloody Tuesday almost completely intact, as well as the local culture of self-reliance and dissent. All they had to worry about was Argus, but they couldn’t do much about them without drawing the committee’s ire.

The mayor of Bremerhaven was a youngish woman named Eva Anniona, a card-carrying PMS member and the granddaughter of the famed actor Siegfried Anniona. She wore the pantsuit and bright red sash she had been associated with for the majority of her political career, the sash’s vibrant color a direct challenge to the committee’s orders. She was currently giving a speech on the steps of city hall in support of the protest, having refused the committee’s “requests” to shut it down every time. Her little brother, Julian, stood next to her. Julian Anniona was only fourteen years old, but he had already been politically active for over half of his life. He had taken part in the climate marches of the past decade, alongside Eva, and as he grew older, he began organizing his own protests, especially the ones in Bremerhaven over the last year. Anders saw a long career ahead of that boy…if the committee didn’t pull a Trotsky on him first, that is.

“The committee claims it is doing this for our own good,” Eva said, “The committee claims all this is necessary for national security. The committee says it is patriotic and to question it is treason against the Kaiser. The committee wants us divided and scared and compliant. We need to tell them…”

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” the crowd roared.

“Ironic, using Gertrude’s catchphrase against her,” Angela said.

“She doesn’t have an monopoly on that catchphrase,” Anders said, “She’s no Pavel.”

“I doubt it’ll be enough though,” Angela said, “Just look at today’s crowd.”

“I see a hundred people before us who are truly patriotic and Roman, despite what the committee in Berlin claims,” Anders said, “A hundred people who aren’t afraid to speak the truth, like we once did, Angie.”

“A hundred is a far cry from the almost two million we had last year,” Angela said, “There used to be enough people to fill entire neighborhoods. And now…”

“Now they barely take up half the square,” Anders said, “Disheartening. I know. We’ve been there before. But it’s no excuse to give up.”

“I’m not saying we should give up,” Angela said, “I’m saying we should be pragmatic. We should plan around this.”

“Do you hear the people sing?” the protesters sang.

The crowd broke into song. They linked hands with each other and swayed in unison, needing no music or tempo to guide them.

“Look at that, Angie,” Anders said, “That is the will of the people. That is what we Romans are capable of when we’re not scared or intimidated. I don’t care if more people go home and we’re down to fifty, twenty, ten, five, or just the two of us. I’m going to keep at it. Somebody has to speak out. If not us, then who?”

“Uh, Anders, I think you should look at that instead,” Angela said.

The few lines of Argus personnel present had suddenly thickened.

“Where did all of these Argus guys come from?” Anders said.

“This isn’t good,” Angela said.

A bus quietly pulled up outside the square. Several burly looking masked men got out and entered the crowd. The protesters, caught up in their fervor, barely noticed their presence until a few minutes later, when the first rocks crashed through police car windows. Two men lobbed rocks at the Argus lines. Their aim was terrible, and the rocks fell far short of anyone. It didn’t matter to the waiting police videographer who captured the whole incident on camera.

“HANG THE TRAITOROUS CAPITALIST IMPERIALIST PIGS!” they shouted, in a way nobody would mishear. “ALL COPS ARE DASTARDS!”

Seconds later, the Argus lines advanced, guns raised to their shoulders. They fired several rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets, interrupting the crowd’s song. The protesters scattered and fled in all directions. Eva shielded Julian and retreated inside city hall, flanked by her loyal police bodyguards. Angela turned to run, but Anders hung back, still watching the chaos.

“Anders!” Angela said. “We need to go!”

“Interesting,” Anders said, “A false flag attack to give Argus casus belli. Strategic placement of cameras to portray the protesters in a negative light. Not using live ammunition like in other cities to deny Eva her own casus belli.”

“We’ll have more time to analyze when we’re in a safer location, Anders!” Angela said.

Anders hesitated for a moment, watching the crisis unfold. Then he followed Angela to the Impala. He looked behind him saw the masked men running into an alley, where they got into waiting Argus vehicles and drove off.

Bremerhaven Daily said:
ANOTHER NIGHT OF PROTESTS
Protesters take to the streets once again as a reaction against civil rights infringements

BREMERHAVEN – Not deterred by what happened in Cordoba, a former bastion of progressive ideas and culture, a small but determined group of protesters hit the streets of Bremerhaven once again last night to demonstrate against what they see as increasing, sweeping infringements of human rights. With signs proclaiming “WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS” and “INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE,” this diverse coalition of men, women, Christians, non-Christians, and many different ethnic groups has become a constant presence in Bremerhaven, host to many high-profile protests ever since Bloody Tuesday, these past few months.

“They are growing the mass hysteria to control us and take away our civil liberties,” says co-organizer Anders Humboldt, a Bremerhaven-born reporter who exposed the Sentinel conspiracy in 2015.

“We’re getting our rights stripped away and we’re so scared of some elusive external force we don’t even notice,” says co-organizer Angela Hansen, Humboldt’s cousin and partner on the Sentinel case, “It’s our duty to speak out, no matter how small a group is willing to do it.”

And it’s a small group, indeed. At their peak last year, these grassroots marches boasted a roster of almost two million, but the number has rapidly declined by the week, and now Hansen and Humboldt lead barely a hundred.

“I’ll march alone if I have to,” says Herr Humboldt.

Soon, he just might be.
 
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CaptainAlvious

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I’m starting to get the feeling that humanity won’t be very successful in Stellaris, especially if there are competing with more enlightened civilizations that don’t oppress the majority of their people. That’s assuming if the cancer growing in the Reich spreads to other countries, which is something I hope doesn’t happen.

Good on Anders and Angela for trying to reveal the truth as they always have done, and that Anniona cameo is a nice moment to take my mind off the incoming train wreck that the Reich is becoming,

That said, I feel betrayed by LKR guy there. Although I’ve felt betrayed by many characters throughout this arc, like Josh and Elias, this one hurts a lot. He was the chosen one. He was supposed to destroy the extremists, not join them! Bring balance to Reich, not leave it in darkness!

All seriousness though, we had women rights being stripped away and now we had millions of religious minorities being denied their places of worship, that almost guarantees open rebellions against the Committee in regions with non Christians pluralities like the Middle East, Hispania and Africa now, or at least trigger more protests and a mass exodus out of the Reich. How bad to things have to get until the Reich inevitably turns into a dictatorship or collapses into civil war again?

Also, I noticed on of the the upcoming chapters was named “without honor.” Does that mean we get to have a Khitanverse reference in the future in addition to the other @dragoon9105 reference with the Annionas?
 
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zenphoenix

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I’m starting to get the feeling that humanity won’t be very successful in Stellaris, especially if there are competing with more enlightened civilizations that don’t oppress the majority of their people. That’s assuming if the cancer growing in the Reich spreads to other countries, which is something I hope doesn’t happen.
Han and Zhao: "Looks like a job for us!"
Good on Anders and Angela for trying to reveal the truth as they always have done, and that Anniona cameo is a nice moment to take my mind off the incoming train wreck that the Reich is becoming,
Eva and Julian will become more relevant in upcoming updates. I have lots of plans for them.
That said, I feel betrayed by LKR guy there. Although I’ve felt betrayed by many characters throughout this arc, like Josh and Elias, this one hurts a lot. He was the chosen one. He was supposed to destroy the extremists, not join them! Bring balance to Reich, not leave it in darkness!
LKR guy never really cared for what balance entailed. He always thought there could be a compromise between two extremes, but he ignores the fact that one side has drifted to the absolute extreme while the other is trying to be reasonable and moderate (the actual centrists). In a way, his dogmatic centrism is more harmful than good as it enables Wilhelm Karl and the committee more.
All seriousness though, we had women rights being stripped away and now we had millions of religious minorities being denied their places of worship, that almost guarantees open rebellions against the Committee in regions with non Christians pluralities like the Middle East, Hispania and Africa now, or at least trigger more protests and a mass exodus out of the Reich. How bad to things have to get until the Reich inevitably turns into a dictatorship or collapses into civil war again?
Remember, Otto specifically broke the power of the provinces and nobility to prevent a widespread rebellion. The Länder system created smaller states which individually had few resources to rebel and were economically integrated with each other, thus ensuring loyalty and cohesion. And with law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and private military contractors on the Kaiser's side, a rebellion is all but impossible. Ironic, because Otto intended to prevent another Angeloi rebellion. And don't discount the amount of political apathy the average citizen has. The committee has largely done good with its environmental and economic policies, pulling the country out of the last decade's recession and implementing green policies at a pace the Merkel administration could never match. The majority is satisfied their standard of living is improving. Shy should they care about regular party politics in Berlin? Both sides are the same. Nothing decided on in Berlin affects them. As long as they can still make good money, they're fine. If anything, the minorities deserved this crackdown. They were entitled rioters who assaulted police officers and blocked streets, starving businesses and causing havoc. They had been spoiled under the previous regime and now they were lashing out like a child having a tantrum. It was only right for the government to crack down and restore order. Those stock market numbers and wages need to stay up, and unemployment numbers need to stay down.
Also, I noticed on of the the upcoming chapters was named “without honor.” Does that mean we get to have a Khitanverse reference in the future in addition to the other @dragoon9105 reference with the Annionas?
That wasn't my intention. The situation described in that chapter was just one without honor. I don't think I'll put in a Khitanverse reference as it doesn't fit with the story I have planned. But Eva and Julian will appear more in the future.
 
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CaptainAlvious

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Han and Zhao: "Looks like a job for us!"
Come to think about it, the Commitee's actions might also spur on the Hindutuva, Ragnorkers and other rightwing nationalist and religious movements around the world to become more active and aggressive too. Let's hope this trend isn't present in the New World.
Remember, Otto specifically broke the power of the provinces and nobility to prevent a widespread rebellion. The Länder system created smaller states which individually had few resources to rebel and were economically integrated with each other, thus ensuring loyalty and cohesion. And with law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and private military contractors on the Kaiser's side, a rebellion is all but impossible. Ironic, because Otto intended to prevent another Angeloi rebellion. And don't discount the amount of political apathy the average citizen has. The committee has largely done good with its environmental and economic policies, pulling the country out of the last decade's recession and implementing green policies at a pace the Merkel administration could never match. The majority is satisfied their standard of living is improving. Shy should they care about regular party politics in Berlin? Both sides are the same. Nothing decided on in Berlin affects them. As long as they can still make good money, they're fine. If anything, the minorities deserved this crackdown. They were entitled rioters who assaulted police officers and blocked streets, starving businesses and causing havoc. They had been spoiled under the previous regime and now they were lashing out like a child having a tantrum. It was only right for the government to crack down and restore order. Those stock market numbers and wages need to stay up, and unemployment numbers need to stay down.
Still though, even if massive organized rebellions is impossible, we are talking about whole regions that have non Greeco-German majority populations and don't follow Christianity, so there still could be a bunch of separate but loosely connected cases of unrest in the general area. Forcefully suppressing everyone in each lander would be a difficult process even if you have the law enforcement and local governments in many landers on your side. Local governments that, as I implied, probably wouldn't even be Christian in the first place due to the makeup of their populace. Plus while those who aren't directly affected would generaly be apathitic about what's going on, I imagine millions of people having their rights taken away and their livelihoods' worsened won't stand back and accept their fate. Or maybe I'm just being an optimist, I'm guessing the Commitee has other ways of pacifying these regions other than brute force if the talk about SWM and the stuff we saw going on in Taurica is any indication. After all, sometimes authortianism has to offer a carrot to make their victims ignore the stick they are being beaten with.

Also, there's got to be people who are seeing the warning signs in the Reich and moving to other countries to avoid being targeted by the Commitee.
 
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zenphoenix

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Come to think about it, the Commitee's actions might also spur on the Hindutuva, Ragnorkers and other rightwing nationalist and religious movements around the world to become more active and aggressive too. Let's hope this trend isn't present in the New World.
The Hindutva and Ragnarokers will be taking advantage of this situation in the next couple years.
Still though, even if massive organized rebellions is impossible, we are talking about whole regions that have non Greeco-German majority populations and don't follow Christianity, so there still could be a bunch of separate but loosely connected cases of unrest in the general area. Forcefully suppressing everyone in each lander would be a difficult process even if you have the law enforcement and local governments in many landers on your side. Local governments that, as I implied, probably wouldn't even be Christian in the first place due to the makeup of their populace. Plus those who aren't directly affected would generaly be apathitic about what's going on, I imagine millions of people having their rights taken away won't stand back and accept their fate. I'm guessing the Commitee has other ways of pacifying these regions other than brute force if the talk about SWM and the stuff we saw going on in Taurica is any indication.
Don't underestimate the people's tendency to tune out and not care about things that don't happen to them. Besides, it's the Kaiser's will, and he said it was temporary, so he had to be telling the truth...right?

Not every action in every state is a forcible suppression. Violence is only used in a few situations. Elsewhere it's a gradual change from the top down, perhaps a change in local policy or a targeted media blitz. Fact is, there are a lot of people who like the committee for various reasons now, a lot of minorities among them (better jobs, targeting of minorities they don't like, some virtue signaling/propaganda, and hope they will be spared if they cooperate). After all, in a boiling pot, a frog wouldn't jump out until it was already dead.
Also, there's got to be people who are seeing the warning signs in the Reich and moving to other countries to avoid being targeted by the Commitee.
Some will move away. "We didn't get our candidate in office, the country is doomed so we're moving to Scandinavia!"
 
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TWR97

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All that stuff about non christians getting the jackboot is bound to cause some nasty memories for the Jews, especially since it's been a millenia since Hadrian's order to raze Palestinia and the diaspora occured. And I feel even more bad on the Muslim minorities here too. It's all going to hell.

Also I don't like the implication of that bit about Anders marching alone. That CANNOT be a good sign. I dreaded his fate during the X-Division arc's finale, but this....This might be it for Spooky Anders.
 

zenphoenix

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All that stuff about non christians getting the jackboot is bound to cause some nasty memories for the Jews, especially since it's been a millenia since Hadrian's order to raze Palestinia and the diaspora occured. And I feel even more bad on the Muslim minorities here too. It's all going to hell.

Also I don't like the implication of that bit about Anders marching alone. That CANNOT be a good sign. I dreaded his fate during the X-Division arc's finale, but this....This might be it for Spooky Anders.
I think you mean two millennia since the diaspora.

If need be, Anders is willing to lay down his life for the truth. Even if nobody is willing to hear it.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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At least Anders and Angela have an idea of how Argus gains their excuse to act and why it's always framed as them being justified.
 

zenphoenix

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At least Anders and Angela have an idea of how Argus gains their excuse to act and why it's always framed as them being justified.
The question is, will anyone care?
 

zenphoenix

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Bread and Circuses

The committee, Berlin - August 10

“What’s the latest status on SWM?” Elias asked.

“The latest rollout has been a success so far,” Josiah said, “We’ve seen dramatic immediate improvements in the Neurhomanian states that have implemented SWM. Bahia reports a 70% drop in crime across the board, 50% increase in religious and patriotic feelings, 60% increase in overall happiness and satisfaction, and 70% increase in economic productivity.”

“Sounds great,” Elias said, “I think it’s time we implement the next phase.”

“Next phase?” Jacob said.

Josiah hit the remote, and the slideshow switched to a detailed list.

“The next phase of SWM is to mend the unpatriotic feelings that have been drilled in us over the last forty years by leftist propagandists,” Josiah said, “We’ll overhaul the education system so that the next generation of Romans is proud to be Roman and will defend our values instead of destroying them. We will teach them that the Reich is the greatest nation in the world, and the worst day here is better than the best day anywhere else on Earth. This includes comphrehensive national security education. Teachers should not treat it as if it is a controversial issue for discussion as usual. It should be the teachers’ responsibility to help their students acquire a correct and objective understanding of national security, so the next generation of Romans knows how to properly defend their nation.”

“How will we pay for it?” Jacob said.

“By adjusting the tax brackets,” Josiah said.

He handed Jacob a stack of papers.

“This is the new budget I intend the Kaiser to pass as soon as possible,” Josiah said, “There will be tax cuts for the working class on average. Tax rates on large corporations and the wealthiest Romans will be raised. We will get additional revenue from increasing the taxes on religious endowments and schools.”

“Christian-run schools aren’t classified as such though,” Jacob said, “They’ll be exempt from that tax increase.”

“I’m aware of that,” Josiah said, “We’ll apply the same model to other religious organizations. Oh, and we’ll be placing tariffs on all goods coming from non-Schengen countries to make up any differences. Now, any suggestions for what mainland cities we can rollout SWM in first?”

“I suggest Hamburg,” Elias said, “And then the rest of Lower Elbe.”

“Wait, hold on a moment,” Jacob said, “Don’t you think we’re going a little too far?”

“What do you mean?” Josiah said.

“Can you clarify, Jacob?” Elias said.

“Look, I get the goal of SWM,” Jacob said, “And I know it’s showing results. So why are we adding more to it? What purpose does that serve?”

“Okay, allow me to explain,” Josiah said, “The problems plaguing our country are systemic and interlinked with each other. We can’t address one and not the other. So we need a sweeping systemic effort to remove the problems of crime, anti-Romanism, deromanization, leftist bias, economic inequality, and global warming. All at once. And you should be proud to be part of this effort. You’re saving the Reich, Jacob.”

“Are we really?” Jacob said.

“Don’t listen to the slander coming from the left,” Elias said, “Their sole goal is to reverse everything we’ve done to save the country. They want nothing more than to destroy what is left of the Reich, an empire that has stood a thousand years. They want us dead. We are only fighting back against their corruption and incompetence and malevolence. Think of it as not just politics as usual, but as a morally just cause. A crusade. A crusade for righteousness, with you as one of the leaders of the faithful. You will lead us all to the promised land. Jacob Baldouin will go down in history as one of the brave men who crushed the left and saved—”

“Can you cut that out?” Jacob said. “It's getting tiring.”

“Point is, just follow the plan, and we’ll all be rewarded,” Elias said.

Jacob looked back at the budget outline. He sighed.

“Okay, okay, I get it,” Jacob said, “Where do I come in?”

(Property of the Imperial Bureau of Education - Approved by the 1105 Commission)

A child is reading a copy of the Augustinian Code.

Child: “Doctor Owl, what is national security?”

An owl wearing glasses and a university graduation cap walks onto the screen.

Doctor Owl (voiced by Jacob Baldouin): “Well, my fellow citizen, national security affairs are of utmost importance to the entire country, responsible for keeping you and me safe from people who wish us harm, both from inside our country and outside it.”

C: “What kind of matters are national security ones?”

DO: “Well, you see, there are many things that are national security affairs and are essential to continuing stability and order. For example, social cohesion and the preservation of our borders are such matters.”

C: “Social cohesion?”

DO: “Social cohesion is essential to the continuation of the Reich and of our civilization. There are many people in our country who do not share our values. It is your responsibility as a citizen to find these people and report them to the authorities so they can help instill in them proper Roman values. The cameras we have installed in critical areas will aid you.”

C: “Won’t the cameras also watch me as well?”

DO: “Don’t be alarmed, citizen. If you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.”

C: “What about the preservation of borders?”

The owl puts up a map of the Reich, with the Russian border highlighted in red.

DO: “Every nation-state is defined by its borders, which determine sovereignty. Without clearly respected borders, there is no nation. The Reich’s territorial integrity is paramount. The nation’s borders were won over a period of a thousand years, and it is each citizen’s responsibility to defend those borders. But you should know threats to territorial integrity come from inside as well as outside. In such troubled and polarized times as these, there are many who have turned their back on the Roman idea and believe the Reich is an evil nation unworthy of salvation. They call for secession and treason against His Imperial Majesty. All citizens must be vigilant and report these anti-Roman criminals to the proper authorities so they can be rehabilitated.”

C: “Now I know how to be a more productive imperial citizen! Thank you, Doctor Owl!”

DO: “I’m only doing my duty as a fellow citizen and patriot. The rest is up to you.”

The child and the owl are joined by a smiling engineer, doctor, general, and construction worker, who all break into singing Gott Erhalte Unser Kaiser. The seals of the Roman Bureau of Education and 1105 Commission fade in.


Bremerhaven - September 14

“Former Senator Ochimeca’s only claim to fame of being the only senator to survive Bloody Tuesday is nothing more than a sham,” Bysandros said, “She only survived because she was attending her sister’s wedding. Now she tries the same stunt, only she intends to leave her duties more permanently. Why is Ochimeca leaving for Russia, despite having been summoned to aid the committee in its righteous work? Why is she abandoning her people and her nation in its darkest days? Perhaps because to her record and her background, she never considered the Reich as her nation to begin with.”

Anders paced across his old office room, while Angela lounged on a couch. After Diana’s death, Angela had made her base in the old Humboldt family house, while Anders dropped by whenever his job had time, which was a lot of the time right now after the recent reforms. A stack of papers sat on the desk, in front of a bulletin board covered in newspaper clippings. The TV on the wall showed the latest “news” from Schmitz. Angela found the layout nostalgic, although it reminded her more of the Reiden Lake house than the old X-Division office.

“I should’ve taken Bysandros to court when I had the chance, restraining order be damned,” Anders said, “I could’ve at least made him unwatchable and taken him off the air. ‘Anders Humboldt, Sentinel exposer, accuses Bysandros Malecares of murder’, they’d say. Nobody would want him to speak after that.”

“Or you could’ve made a fool of yourself,” Angela said, “Like when you got the restraining order filed.”

“That was…my mistake,” Anders said, “I let myself get caught up in the moment, and now Bysandros is forever out of my reach. Now he’s onscreen almost all the time spouting whatever lies the committee wants us to hear, while I’m stuck in Bremerhaven. He has an audience of millions of Romans, and I have only a hundred.”

“You’re not stuck, Anders,” Angela said, “And as long as it’s not zero, people will still listen.”

“You remember July 23?” Anders said. “What they did?”

“When did that ever stop you before?” Angela said. “The Syndicate and Sentinel threatened us for over twenty years. They sent assassins and super soldiers and rumor-mongers after us. We’ve had X-Division shut down many times, you almost died several times, and I almost died several times, and we both were actually dead at least once. You didn’t stop when Di died. We’re not stopping now, Anders. We can’t stop. Or else Di will have died for nothing.”

Anders looked at a family picture of him, Diana, and Alex. A tear fell off his cheek.

“You’re right, Angie,” Anders said, “We have to keep going. For Di’s sake. For all of us.”

“And I’ll be here for you,” Angela said, “We’ve survived way worse before.”

“We can survive this,” Anders said, “I know we will.”


Several million posts on Dikastirio said:
The escalating violence in Bremerhaven has taken a heavy toll on the social order. All walks of life in Bremerhaven call for a brake to be put on the blatant violence and for order to be restored.


Kaiser Franz Joseph Space Center, New Cordoba, Neurhomania - September 14

Tsai walked down the hallway, inspecting each model of rocket and space shuttle on display.

“Oh, that’s the Kronos V,” Wilhelmina said, “The one that—”

“Took you to the moon, yeah, we all know that,” Tsai said.

“And with your help, we’ll be back there soon,” Wilhelmina said.

“Yeah, once your uncle decides to honor the treaty when we sign it in four days,” Tsai said, “I’m surprised you even had the time and freedom to come here, after July.”

“Perks of being a royal,” Wilhelmina said, “Still bad, but I can at least do some good.”

“Hey, don’t mind me here, with my own space program,” Jayasimha said.

“Sorry, Jayasimha, but today’s treaty was for us first,” Tsai said.

“No fair!” Jayasimha said. “We were the Reich’s first ally! And you should be worrying more about Han!”

“Hey, you’ll get your turn,” Wilhelmina said, “We still have to get that tandoori catering.”

“You’re actually serious,” Jayasimha said.

“Yes, I am,” Wilhelmina said.

She looked down the hallway. “This place brings back memories.”

“How so?” Tsai said.

“My mom took me here often as a kid,” Wilhelmina said, “I grew up hearing stories of the brave astronauts who went to the moon and explored space. I wished I could go up there someday. Or at least have a hand in sending people there.”

“Well, you’re doing the latter now,” Tsai said.

“I guess so,” Wilhelmina said, “RANA isn’t what it used to be, you know.”

“Are you serious?” Tsai said. “It still does more than our own space program.”

“In the ‘50s and ‘60s, RANA was a cultural icon,” Wilhelmina said, “It was given as much funding as needed to beat the Soviets to space. And by God, we beat them there almost every step of the way. The early astronauts—König, Schaefer, Glenn—were national heroes. ‘Los geht’s!’ is still iconic, exactly 71 years after it was first said. They used to race around on the streets outside in sports cars they bought for a single mark.”

“A single mark?” Jayasimha said. “What a steal!”

“Technically a gift from the local dealer, but government employees couldn’t receive gifts, so they sold them for a mark,” Wilhelmina said, “Mina Schaefer still has her father’s Corvette. But things are different now.”

“Your friend Frederica made the news in February,” Tsai said.

“Frederica’s the exception,” Wilhelmina said, “Can you name the other members of the Palla crew?”

“I…uh…” Tsai said. “You got me.”

“Exactly,” Wilhelmina said, “It’s like after König went to the moon, we just…gave up. Because we won the Space Race and the Russians broke their economy playing catch-up, we didn’t need to do anything else. Von Braun retired in the late ‘70s, and by the time I was born, astronauts were no longer celebrities. The dealership’s gone, the one mark Corvettes are gone, and people forgot the context of ‘Los geht’s’. Nobody saw any reason to stay on the Moon, let alone go to Mars. We’re turning away from space, at a time when we need to go to space more than ever, if we are to advance as a species.”

“Your uncle doesn’t believe that though,” Jayasimha said.

“Which is unfortunate, as I’ll have to do all this myself,” Wilhelmina said, “But I’ll do it. Even if the world’s against me, I’ll do it. Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum.”


Nanjing - September 19

“Our cowardly chancellor Tsai has again shown the true nature of her China Last policy,” Han thundered before a crowd of thousands, “She has killed millions of Chinese jobs by giving the Roman imperialists exactly what they want. She spends more time being with her foreign friends than helping out her own citizens, like you and me. And why would she sign a treaty with a country that has been oppressing its own citizens lately? A treaty about space, no less, something that will not affect any of us, instead of something that will revive the economy. China is tired of being treated like the sick man of the world. We are tired of the decades of humiliation Daqin has inflicted upon us. It’s time China had a leader that puts his own people ahead of others, like we used to. It’s time we put China First!”

“CHINA FIRST!” the crowd shouted.
 
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CaptainAlvious

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In a world where reactionaries are trying to go back to some mostly imaginary golden age from the past, it's good to see Wilhelmina and Tsai looking forward to the future in the stars. A shame their respective countries aren't so eager though. At this point, I have no idea how humanity is supposed to become a spacefaring empire by 2100 or even if they deserve it knowing recent events and how badly they missed up their first time around 200k years ago.

Meanwhile, Anders and Angela is still fighting to reveal the truth, but given what we know from Diana's visions, it seems like Elias' catchphrase of idealists not ending well will apply to them eventually.

This reminds me, who has the tape of the unredacted Sentinel files now that Theresa is dead? I know no one will believe it right now, but I’m still wondering what happened to it and if there's any possibility it will be released to the public once we reach the Stellaris era?

It's good that Jacob is starting to question Elias and his goals, just as Gustav is seeing how far Josh is going, but unfortunately I think he’ll continue to ignore the red flags and play along until he regrets it.

I’m not surprised that the 1105 Commission is just a bunch of uncritical propaganda that brainwashes children into a determined mindset more than the so called “left wing revisionism” that the Committee complains about, but I’m still wondering what the specifics SWM policies entails beyond the Committee’s propaganda, since I remember Jacob mentioning how the Kanatan and Scandinavian governments complained about the treatment of Norse minorities despite supposed economic benefits.

I'm guessing the 1105 Commission is based off of Trump's recently terminated 1776 report. In that case, I wonder if there would be anything like the 1619 Project here, and what it would focus on since slavery isn't as central to Roman history as it was in US history?

I also had a thought about what could happen to the non Christian religious sites once the Committee consolidates their power further. Khulan mentioned Slavic temples in Taurcia being destroyed and the children there being forced to convert, which is a worrying sign, but I imagine the Committee would be more likely to hold major religious sites like the Third Temple of Solomon and the Grand Temple of Cordoba hostage rather than destroying them outright, much like Saint Wilhelmina did with the Kaaba. I imagine the threat of destroying these important religious sites would be much more effective than actually carrying them out I imagine.

Anyways, I know there are Handmaid's Tale influences here, but these recent chapters are giving me some Crown Atomic vibes, especially that segment with the 1105 Commission propaganda (mostly because I'm reminded of a similar chapter that started with a description of a propaganda movie). Very eerie, I love it.
 
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