Proof of a Concord Kept (Priscilla)
|Proof of a Concord Kept (Priscilla)|
|Date of Cutscene:||10 December 2016|
|Location:||All Across the Multiverse|
|Synopsis:||The collapse of the old powers gives rise to those suited to take back the Multiverse.|
|Cast of Characters:||Priscilla, 518|
The reporter stares into her news crew's camera as a thing of unwilling fixation, as if trying to ignore a doctor's approaching syringe. She clutches her microphone in both hands, knuckles white, eyes wide and green, but her voice retains its steady, professional tone.
“...The Pentagon has released an official statement confirming the initial reports of our neighbour America 226 having disappeared seemingly overnight. Where two thousand miles of the pacific ocean once separated Washington state from our economic partners in Maine 226, the distance has shrunk to only a fraction of that, and the once friendly foreign coast now teems with mechanical terrors. After overseas incursions of flying, automated craft released the nanomachine swarms responsible for the mass casualties reported earlier this week, the President has declared a state of emergency, and there are plans to rally the US Navy as a blockade along the pacific coast. The US has extended requests for assistance, specifically in the deployment of further aircraft carriers, from...”
The Deliberative is louder than it has been in decades. Perhaps centuries. Not one eligible Dynast within a day's travel had failed to attend, and the hall roars with the swell of competing voices. A wall of a man, who has arrived so hastily as to have not yet stripped his scarlet armour, slams his gauntleted fist upon the table, bellowing over the commotion as best he is able, as the air around him smolders and pops with sparks.
“...House Cathak has long stood as the most honourable, and most successful, of all the Realm's martial Dynasties! Not once has our loyalty ever been in question! If you will not heed the words of Cathak Cainan himself, most pious and accomplished of all the Realm's warriors, then who among you believes themselves to know better?! We are on the brink of a war the likes of which has not been seen since the days of the Empress! What use are the legions out there when even the Fair Folk retreat behind their borders to evade the fire from the sky?! With their capability for bombardment, what other option is there than to recall the legions, and have the Geomantic Defense Grid ready to wipe out their...”
Even with the full briefing, the situation has yet to feel like reality. The pilots so through their respective startup sequences on mental autopilot, using the time it takes the reactors to warm up trying to wrap their heads around the idea. The man who has been designated Avalanche 1 for this operation was only promoted yesterday, after the former unit leader was killed in action by a new and bewildering threat. No matter how many times he counts his ammunition, gauges the fuel in the thrusters, and runs diagnostics on the targeting software, and manually inspects the 120mm rifle in his machine's giant hands, it doesn't feel like a real operation.
“Dragons, you said?”
“Affirmative. Iteration 4670.” comes the female voice over the radio.
“As in flying lizards with fire breath?”
“Those were listed as secondary concerns. Did you pay attention to the briefing?”
“Yeah I know, magic was listed as the primary threat, but how the hell am I supposed to prepare for magic spells? I didn't bring any salt and sheep's blood.”
“Just dodge anything that glows and you'll be fine.”
“What's the point of them riding the damn things anyways? Does a dragon really need a guy with a sword riding on its back to be combat effective?”
“We're estimating they share a psychic link, or that the rider himself is the spellcasting component. “They aren't significantly armoured against your weaponry. Aim to eliminate the rider. Isn't this corps supposed to be famous for its long distance firepower?”
“Hey. Silent Avalanche is the last word in anti-heavy operations. I don't care if its helicarriers or giant butterflies, if we can see it, we can shoot it down.”
“I hope for your sake.”
A man comes running into town as fast as his lanky legs can carry him, sandaled feet beating on the dusty path loud enough to carry all the way to the windmill, as even the farm animals remain silent today. Wearing his white shorts, red cap, and rabbit insignia, he is impossible to mistake for anyone but the postman, but there are no letters to deliver today; only a single scroll to be read aloud to the whole village.
“...And so with the collapse of the greater faction that has threatened our kingdom for many years with its brazen support of the detestable thief king, her royal highness has declared that the Gerudo nation will be made to unconditionally disavow their Multiversal benefactors, or face annexation by the grace of our King, so that no further overtures of aggression will be tolerated. To that end, all able-bodied men over the age of...”
A harsh, metallic screeching fills the air, but it is only the sound of the Cybertronian's voice, tuned to a shrill fever pitch by affected rage and naked excitement. Even were he not competing to be heard over the wild firing of energy weapons and revving of engines, he has waited so long for this day that he couldn't dial it down if he tried. The louder he shouts, the more aggressive his divided audience's posturing becomes, and the closer the warning shots from both camps come to hitting their mark.
“...What did I tell you?! I was against it from the start! I TOLD you that they couldn't be trusted! That they were weak, fragile, and fickle! He was a FOOL to trust them, and so were we to listen to him as our leader! Look, how in a single blow, everything we were promised has come to nothing! How these great and all powerful armies have fallen to pieces in a SINGLE night! It has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that our leader is INCOMPETENT, and so my brothers, image that with ME as your leader...”
... Proxy PATRIOT: It's a mess. The most we can do right now is to keep the people calm, with enemies on every side, it's only a matter of time before they find out the full extent of the situation, and even less until we're going to have to call for assistance.
Proxy IMMACULATE: And where will it come from? All around the territory, the story is the same. Worlds and armies scrabble to fill the void, to defend themselves, to leap at their opportunity to gain power, to conquer their neighbours, to expand for their own safety, to devour everything around them.
Proxy NORMAL: Nature abhors a vacuum, and this is the biggest power vacuum that's ever existed. No matter what way you throw an olive branch, an alliance that actually works can only come from some jackass with delusions of being the next superfaction, and an alliance you can actually trust only comes from someone as underprepared and with as much to lose as you. There's no incentive for the big sticks to cooperate, and no way for the have-nots to tough it out.
Proxy WISDOM: The network is in turmoil. Contact with one another is pure happenstance. It will take long enough to find one another that the damage will be irreversible by the time trusted partners will be reunited. We have no choice but to work alongside those few that we are blessed with being allowed to contact in peace, and in confidentiality.
Proxy LIES: But that won't do, no. Your “trusted allies” were trusted only because of their strength. Yes, were your trust placed differently, your world wouldn't even exist. The lines will not hold by gambling on the competence of the fools already destroying one another without purpose, no. What worked, what is the /only/ thing that works, is fear. Fear of your power, yes. Yes, only the threat of terrifying force brings these petty squabbles into line. The threat of a great leader crushing his unruly subordinates, hoho, yesss.
Proxy PATRIOT: Can't believe I'm listening to the guy, but we have an old saying here about speaking softly and carrying a big stick. As it stands, none of us have the manpower to be going to war. The superfactional rigamarole we all put up with until now worked because they could intimidate everything from here to Sunday into joining up.
Proxy IMMACULATE: And we do not have the time or resources to conquer our way across the Multiverse to rendezvous with the others like us! Even with the network of warpgates, there are still /borders/! Their capacity is too limited to have an army from another world situate itself everywhere across where we could be attacked, even in the miraculous instance another world can spare it!
Proxy NORMAL: We have that kind of thing. They're called Elites. Both the big guns had an entire corps of them for a reason. It's basic rapid attack and response doctrine. You save the standing army for a full scale offensive. Until then, you deal with the skirmishes and insurgencies with precise, surgical strikes, and neutralize them with such extreme prejudice that the enemy sits back on their heels and goes back to the drawing board. You only need a few dozen snowflakes for most of the scenarios we have.
Proxy WISDOM: And where shall we find the Elites? You are insightful to draw our attention to the idea that these wars have yet to come to a head, but I am sure we will find very few to spare, given that they will be even more precious to any other world for the very same reasons we struggle with now.
Proxy LIES: One or the other, they answer to the same things that any other warrior or soldier will answer to. Give them a cause, give them wealth, promise them victory, and the right balance will always draw them like flies. Then they will fight for you, oh yes. Simple mercenaries will fight for only one, we cannot rely solely on them, no. The most valuable, most loyal soldier, is the soldier who knows he fights battles he will win, and who knows that winning will grant him his every wish, yes. Selfless or selfish, it makes no difference. They respond to the call the same way. Otherwise, they wouldn't flock to the great factional armies to fight, yesss.
Proxy PATRIOT: So, what? Consolidate our assets? I don't think we can dangle a big enough carrot in front of the collective Multiverse to lure in that many wandering murder moralists. What we want is the fallout. The rebound.
Proxy IMMACULATE: Precisely. In this chaos, many, many warriors will be left without masters, whether dead, abandoned, disgraced, fallen from power, or no longer of any importance. What do you offer an Outcaste warrior with talent to spare but no discipline or ambition? You offer him your House.
Proxy NORMAL: You fold them under a parent organization, yeah, I get you. You bring drifters into the PMC and get the PMC hired by a Ruling Company. Problem is, we don't have the kind of resources to build another laughably oversized monument to military dick waving. What the hell did the Citadel, or even Njorun, do for anyone anyways? You want to envision how much money was spent on those things? And for what? So people could kick back and socialize behind infinite ornamental troops. We're not doing that again.
Proxy WISDOM: This is true, however, there is no need, now is there? With no singular foe of such impossible magnitude for there to be any need to posture and intimidate, all that we require is the framework. The success of the Elite armies in past was in allowing them to do as they would, and merely providing them the means. Their downfall was limiting them to such arbitrary lines of conflict, thus squandering their potential on a never ending battlefront. What say you then, that we set aside the war room, and instead make ready to offer all the means we can? More than anyone else has the foresight to present. The wishes and whims of the chosen few have always been the shield and sword of our territories.
Proxy LIES: And I know just were we can start, oh yessss. ...
“If thou believest I shalt bow mine head once again to a foreign, aimless, shapeless rabble, thou art gravely mistaken. I hath well lost interest in heeding the demands of petty dictators and contrarian self-righteousness.”
“But you'd listen to an advisor, right?”
“A rabble of foreign advisors.”
“You could drop the aimless and shapeless part though.”
“I hath yet to see reason to be compelled to.”
“Well, the way it is, we haven't approached anyone we think would actually swear fealty. The problem that we're starting from is that we can't offer a sovereignty to be beholden to the first place. Respectfully, if we had that kind of unified infrastructure, we'd already have a hundred million reps and rulers much easier to approach than yourself.”
“And thou wouldst be even less effectual than the grotesquely swollen armies that preceded thee. Why wouldst anyone flock to such a banner in either case?”
“You understand the problem then. People are just as burned out as you are, more importantly, most of them are a lot less certain than you are. We can't raise a military from that, and even if we could, it just paints a target on us. All we need is the deterrent.”
“And the old commanders shalt not listen? I wouldst only imagine them leaping to the opportunity to serve once again in high office.”
“No, they'll listen. That's a bad thing. They want it, and everyone knows they want it, and this time, they don't have all the money and power in the world to offer. When you strip away the faction flags, they aren't and never were appealing choices. You picked one to save yourself from the other; but you can't scare people off with size anymore. Everyone knows the Elites are the important players now, and they won't respond to “big, bad and rich” again. Not after yesterday. Probably not ever again. They'll only rally to something new. Something that inspired them with some kind of confidence once.”
“Then thou hast gathered such an enormous hoard of wealth and power for what purpose, if thou can no longer risk becoming appealing by it? Or, in fact, a choice at all? Why gather so much, only to exit from the stage? How may it at all shelter thee from the storm if there can be no armies?”
“Let us put it this way. How would you like writing the biggest Covenant in the new Multiverse?"
"Miss Kuran, thank you for seeing us in this time of crisis."
"Well, I am always happy to help - Hanabusa, go put on some tea. It's fine."
"Ah, well, thank you again - but your hospitality wasn't why we came."
"Well, I don't see why you'd come all this way to bother-"
"We understand that the Council is up in arms, and there are concerns among both populations about the next step to take."
"Ah. I see."
"Nothing to add?"
"You are here to make some pitch or offer, I suppose, and are aware of who - what - I am. Go ahead."
"We come to you as representatives of a certain group who believe that those most meritous should continue to rule - or would you rather all of vampirekind at the whim and mercy of scared, powerless humans?"
"I'm not sure..."
"Fear, among both communities, will lead to open war - one which the Vampires are not guaranteed of winning."
"And if your power and prestige are stripped from you, if not your loving flock in the Council, the humans will seek to devour you for power of their own."
"And that is why my organization wished to reach out to you."
"This is quite a lot to take in! I... have to ask, what is it your organization wants to do?"
"We represent a group that wishes to put power into the hands of those that would make a better Multiverse. People of means."
"Backing predators and monsters, you mean."
"Not as such."
"So why me?"
"We thought your temperament was... uniquely suited to the task."
"And what, ah, task would that be?"
“...The new agency by the name of “The Concord” has successfully negotiated their terms with the senate. As of now, existing coastal bases are being repurposed as staging points for a new Elite corps, specifically trained in cross-world intervention tactics. Initial deployments have already resulted in a number of promising victories, as the US Navy and Coast Guard draws back to engage in domestic relief efforts. The President's upcoming speech is supposedly set to address concerns that the administration has changed hands, and combat rumours that the American people now owe their allegiance to anything but the stars and stripes. The budget is set to...”
“...Those among you unhappy with the decision, speak up now. I dare say you'll find few words on your tongue after this morning. Three of their ships lie smouldering on the doorstep of the Blessed Isle, and not a single Fang has been spent! What care is there for such paltry jade from the coffers? I'd pay a hundred times that to replace the useless Satraps that pollute the ledgers and squabble for office even now! There are principles at play here! Integrity! Valour! Something sorely lacking in this simpering Deliberative of...”
“Four hundred thousand credits.”
“Wait what? We're in the black?”
“Isn't your unit usually?”
“Yeah but- hey don't get smart with me. I told you not to underestimate us.”
“You'd better look out. I hear the BFF is looking to hire you out under one of their bigshot heroes.”
“Oh bullshit! We definitely matched their kill count!”
“What, you're looking to pick bosses now? You know how it goes. The League of Ruling Companies doesn't take on standing armies. Besides, what's a little adventure?”
“...Garrisons along the border are commanded by her highness to hold, as arbitration by the Hand of the Concord is to proceed on the 'morrow. Gerudo troops have been likewise placed under a temporary agreement of ceasefire, pending terms of resolution without bloodshed, such that both our beloved princess and the Gerudo people's continuity of rulership are assured. The draft is hereby suspended until...”
“...Now, if there are any more /questions/, I suggest you direct them towards your “leader”, yes. Oh, what is it? None of you ever swore allegiance to him? Was it all just a /big misunderstanding/? I think /not/, no! If you don't want to end up as a pile of scrap like him, I suggest you cowardly imbeciles begin explaining why you even dared to think I couldn't slag you all with a word! Know that your /true/ leader doesn't need to be looking to keep you in line. A true leader /delegates/ these things, yes! If you...”