A New Dawn in Upper Virginia (Western Atlantic Only)

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A New Dawn in Upper Virginia (Western Atlantic Only)

Postby Upper Virginia » Tue May 08, 2018 8:01 pm

OOC: This continues the story of elections in Upper Virginia from this thread: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=436110&start=50

The Regent Hotel, Grosse Pointe

It was only as the elevator doors closed that Gwen Ubrecht realized that she was trapped. The security details assigned to protect her, as with all the other party leaders, had quietly and efficiently separated her from her own staff. Now it was just her and the security men in the elevator. She also realized at that moment that she did not recognize any of the detail; they were all new faces. Part of her admired the tradecraft. As a former urban guerrilla and mole, she appreciated how quietly and inconspicuously they had made their move.

Gwen fought the fight or flight urge she felt building along her spine. The men, whoever they were, seemed uninterested in taking any immediate action. This gave her time to plan and prepare. She was smoothing her jacket and surveying the situation when the elevator came to stop. She prepared herself and waited.

The doors of the elevator opened and, to her surprise, the Democratic Union’s new leader found herself not facing assassins or kidnappers, but the smiling face of the Dominion’s Commander of the Armed Forces. Although General Mildred Peterson was dressed in a casual civilian outfit, Gwen recognized her immediately. She also recognized the man standing behind Patterson - Richard Thorsen, the eminence grise behind Harrison’s coup against the Altman regime and now the long-serving head of Dominion intelligence.

“Good morning, Ms. Ubrecht,” Peterson said as she and Thorsen stepped onto the elevator. “I apologize for the dramatic entrance, but we wanted to speak with you privately and off-the-record.” The doors closed and elevator moved slightly, coming to a stop again between floors.

Ubrecht looked at Thorsen and nodded over her shoulder. “Your men, Richard?” Thorsen nodded his head once. “Good job.” She turned to Peterson. “This is a lot of effort for a chit-chat, General.” She gave a hollow, gallows smile. “What can I do for you?”

“Well,” Peterson began, “I’d first like to congratulate you on running a very efficient and successful campaign. You seem to the be the odds-on-favorite to be the next Prime Minister.” Gwen nodded her head slightly, but said nothing. “Unfortunately, your success is a source of anxiety to some.”

Gwen raised an eyebrow. “Really?” She asked in a mocking tone.

“The public may consider you the new face of the Democratic Union, Ms. Ubrecht, but some of us know that you were, in fact, a covert member of the FVLA and a mole in the Harrison administration.”

Ubrecht looked from Peterson to Thorsen. She should have expected he would have told the President and General Peterson. She turned back to Peterson with an expectant look.

“So,” Peterson continued, “I’ve come seeking assurances. And, perhaps, to offer assurances.”

“What assurance can I give you, General?” Ubrecht asked.

“Some of our people are concerned that you’re simply new branding for an old idea and that an electoral victory by the Democratic Union will be the end of democracy…,” the General began.

“I take it, then,” Ubrecht said smiling slightly, “that you’re looking for my assurance that we harbour no intentions of creating a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ or some such nonsense.” Ubrecht crossed her arms behind her back. “Alright then, here’s my assurance to you general: I may have been a revolutionary in my youth, but I’ve come of age in politics. I’m a wonk. I live and breathe policy and actually find polls interesting. I expect to win this election and the next and maybe the next one after that. Not because of any one party nonsense, but because my policies are right for the nation and the people see that. So, no, there will be suspension of elections, no moves against other parties, no dictatorship. Not from my side.”

“And the rest of the leadership?” Peterson asked, eyes narrowing.

“Chairman Marko is an old man, General. He wants to retire and enjoy a peaceful country. Perhaps live to see his statue raised in Courtland, next to Harrison’s as one of the ‘founding fathers’ of a new, peaceful Dominion. Most of the rest of the leadership is my generation. And will follow me.” Ubrecht gave a slight shrug and played at bashful smile. “Now, I will admit that some of the old guard, like Brian Ulman, who still dream of riding to power on a tank leading a phalanx of workers and farmers with their hammers, torches and pitchforks, but they are marginalised. We are pushing them out of power in the party and they’ll never even get a taste of power once we’re in government. You have my word on that.”

Peterson nodded and Gwen continued, “Now, General, what assurances to have for me?”

“Only this,” Peterson began, “the military will remain neutral. There will be no attempt to either prevent your election or remove you from power by any extra-constitutional means.”

Gwen smiled. “Given our country’s past history that’s no insignificant promise. I’ll hold you to it, General.” The socialist leader extended her hand.

Peterson took Ubrecht’s hand and gave it a firm shake. “And I will hold you to your pledge, Ms. Ubrecht.”

With a subtle look from Thorsen, the elevator lurched into motion and stopped on the next floor. The General and the Director of Intelligence stepped out and the elevator continued its journey to the lobby and its crowd of supporters.
Last edited by Upper Virginia on Fri Jun 01, 2018 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Upper Virginia » Tue May 22, 2018 11:50 am

Courtland Daily Courier
Online Edition

Latest Polls: Democratic Union Pulling Ahead

(Courtland) The latest polls from Vaislevs, Cebule and Johnson, shows the left-wing electoral alliance between the the Democratic Union (DUWFGS) and the Upper Virginia Liberal Party (UVLP) holding a solid majority among likely voters. Within the alliance, the Democratic Union has surged well ahead of the UVLP, making a government headed by the former Communist revolutionaries a very real possibility. Among the other parties, the Liberty and Prosperity Party (LPP) of current Prime Minister Marcus Poole appears to be making the strongest showing for second place. The Democratic Recovery Party (DRP), however, remains not far behind the LPP. Meanwhile, support for the National Renaissance Party (NRP), associated with former President Becka Harrison, continues to bleed support, with most of its voters turning to the DRP or the LPP. The National Independence Party, meanwhile, appears for headed for a very poor showing and may, in fact, find itself without seats in the National Assembly for the first time since the restoration of the Constitution.

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Postby Upper Virginia » Fri Jun 01, 2018 2:18 pm

The Grand Highlands Hotel, Petersburg, Upper Virginia

John Carroll was an older, stocky fellow with deeply lined tanned features - one obviously accustomed to hard work and the outdoors. He had been a policeman under the Altman regime, a member of one of the special paramilitary units. He had been respected by his peers, his family and his neighbors. As an officer, he took pride in protecting his country from dangerous elements - radicals, communists, trade unionists and democrats.

When the Altman regime fell, Carroll’s unit had been disbanded. He had been dismissed from the police - told that his record showed a “proclivity for violence and suppression of civil rights that was inconsistent with the restored Constitution of the Dominion”. With his job gone, he lost his identity. Soon, he lost the respect of his neighbors and community. Not long afterwards, he lost his wife and children after they disappeared in the night, leaving behind a restraining order from one of the new democratic regime’s weak-minded courts.

It had been a difficult time from Carroll, who bounced from one job to another. He mostly worked in manual labour and mostly drank his salary. A little stability had finally come when he secured a job as a security guard at a hotel. He was finally in uniform again and felt the familiar comfort of a gun on his hip.

Unfortunately, the new beginning did not last long. In its madness, the so-called democrats running the Dominion allowed a communist and a traitor to openly campaign for the prime ministership. Carroll knew Gwen Ubrecht. She had been an urban terrorist working with the FVLA. His squad had tracked her and she was at the top of their list to dispose of when the coup against General Altman struck. In an instant, the world turned upside down. Ubrecht was not only free but on the rise: an advisor to that witch Harrison; a member of the National Assembly; and, now, likely to be the next Prime Minister of the Dominion.

The last blow had been too much for Carroll. He began to make it known just where he stood on Ubrecht and her crowd. That had led to a call to the General Manager’s office and his receipt of a pink slip. The squishy-faced GM had told him that his “tirades disturbed the guests” and that his continued service “would be detrimental to the hotel”.

Now, Ubrecht was staying in the very hotel were he had once worked. Surrounded by her handlers and sycophantic reporters who could not bring themselves to tell the truth about her, the candidate walked out of the hotel and towards the crowd where Carroll waited. He pulled the gun he had just stolen from his former employer and raised towards the known terrorist and enemy of the state.

Gwen Ubrecht had been surprised at how much she enjoyed campaigning. When she first ran for a seat in the National Assembly, she had worried about the campaigning much more than the politicking that would go on behind the doors of the Assembly. To her pleasant surprise, however, she had found that she had the innate ability to make people feel like they had been heard. She could glean from their often disjointed and poorly articulated complaints their true hopes and fears. And, perhaps even more importantly, she could reframe those hopes and fears in the context of her policies and repeat them back to people. Either one-on-one or in large groups. It made her a natural politician and, now, it had elevated her to cusp of the prime ministership.

She strolled out of the hotel and smiled at the warm sun on her face and deep blue cloudless sky. She waved to the crowds and started to walk towards a young woman holding a sign of support. Gwen did not see the rough looking man beside her.

Suddenly, Gwen heard one of the security men assigned to protect her screamed something. She did not have time to process what he said as another of the security men grabbed her and pushed her to the ground. Her first thought was that the security apparatus was going to assassinate her in broad daylight. Then, she heard pops and twisted her head to look through arms wrapped around her. She saw a body - was it Ellen, her press secretary? - laying on the ground soaked in blood.

Gwen felt herself being picked up and carried. She was vaguely aware of being put in her car and the car speeding away. As the drone of sirens began to bring her back to her senses, she looked across at the head of security detail seated in the limousine’s jump seat and covered in blood.

“What happened, Kurt?” Gwen said, her voice sounding strangely distant in her own mind. She looked down and noticed that her skirt was torn and her jacket was ripped.

“There was a shooter, Ma’am,” Kurt Freimanis said evenly.

“A shooter?” Gwen repeated, sounding distant. “Did anyone get hurt?”

“I don’t know for sure Ma’am,” Freimanis began, “but I saw your press person, Ellen O’Neil, go down along with one of my men.”

“Ellen? No.” Gwen started to feel the fog lift. “One of your men? Who?”

“Vernon, Ma’am.”

“Is it serious?”

Freimanis nodded. “I’m not sure about O’Neil, but Vernon took a shot to the head. I think he’s probably dead.”

“Dear God.”

Prime Minister’s Office, Courtland

Marcus Poole looked up from his desk at the sound of the door being thrown open. “Nice of you to knock, Howard,” he said sarcastically as his Chief of Staff rushed towards his desk.

“There’s no time for that, Marcus,” Howard Thielmann said sounding winded. “It’s all over the news!”

“What?” Poole asked, coming to his feet instinctively in response to Thielmann's urgency.

“Ubrecht,” Thielmann said, “there’s been an assassination attempt.”

“Oh, my…” Poole sank back into his seat. “Has anyone been hurt?”

Thielmann shook his head. “Not clear yet. There’re reports of casualties and ambulances on the scene. But nothing definitive.”

“Well,” Poole said, his voice rising, “find out. Call the security services. Call the President’s Office; I’m sure they know.” The Prime Minister rubbed his chin. “You’d better get Rolf working on a press statement. One in case Ubrecht is dead and one in case she isn’t.”

Thielmann nodded. “Right away, Marcus.” He turned and swept out of the office.

Poole rose and walked over to the TV nestled into a bookcase on the far side of his office. He turned it on and began watching the news coverage. This, he thought, will play havoc with the elections.
Last edited by Upper Virginia on Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Upper Virginia » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:24 pm

Petersburg, Upper Virginia

Gwen Ubrecht shook her head, still trying to process what had happened and regain her senses. She looked over at Kurt Freimanis and his blood splattered suit. She found herself momentarily wondering if it was Ellen’s or Vernon’s blood. She shook herself again and turned to her left. Another member of her security detail, a young man named Brent Erickson, sat motionless.

“Where are we going?” She asked, turning back to Freimanis.

“Security Service HQ. It’s protocol to take a protectee to the safest location possible after an incident,” the security team leader answered.

“No,” Ubrecht shook her head, “I want… need to see Ellen and Vernon. Find out where they are. That’s where we’re going.”

Freimanis nodded towards Erickson, who began talking into his sleeve.

After a moment, Erickson looked up. “Mercy Hospital,” the man said flatly.

Freimanis turned and spoke to the driver. “Mercy Hospital. We’ll need to go in through loading docks.” He turned back to Erickson. “I want city police to lock down the hospital and I want a squad of uniforms to meet us a the loading dock.”

Erickson nodded and resumed talking to his sleeve.

After riding for a few moments in silence, Ubrecht leaned forward slightly. “Thank you, Kurt. You and your men saved my life. And I’m so sorry about Vernon…”

“Thank you, Ma’am,” Freimanis said. “We’re just doing our job.”

Ubrecht nodded. Then, Freimanis reached into his jacket and retrieved a phone. He looked at the number and answered. He listened for a few moments, then held the phone out to Ubrecht.

“President Holmes would like to speak to you, Ma’am. He couldn’t get through on your phone.”

It was only at that moment that Ubrecht realized that Ellen had been carrying her phone. Her eyes teared up as she took Freimanis’ phone. She held it up to her ear. “Hello?”

“Ms. Ubrecht,” a woman’s voice said, “stand by for the President.”

A moment later a man’s voice said, “Ms. Ubrecht? This is Alex Holmes. Are you alright?”

“I am… ok. Thanks to my security detail.”

“I’m pleased to hear that. I want to assure you that getting to the bottom of this attempt on your life is the highest priority for the security services.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m sorry to hear that your aide was wounded.”

Ubrecht nodded as she listened. “I’m on my way to the hospital now to see Ellen. And Vernon. A member of my security detail was injured, too, Mr. President.”

There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment. Then, the President spoke. "I didn’t know that you weren’t aware. I’m sorry to tell you, but the security agent was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.”

Ubrecht suddenly felt herself shuddering with unbidden tears.

“I’m sorry, Gwen,” the President said.

“Thank you, sir,” she said.
Last edited by Upper Virginia on Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Upper Virginia » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:21 pm

The Harrington House Hotel, Harrington, Upper Virginia

The Harrington House Hotel had once been an exclusive property - one that catered to the city’s business elite and their patrons from the capital. However, once the Free Virginia Liberation Army “liberated” the city, it seized the hotel, proclaimed it an example of “capitalist excess” and marched the city’s journalists - and few interested foreign reporters - through the hotel to show how the elites dined on filet mignon at candle-lit tables while the city’s workers struggled to buy potatoes and sausages. During the its revolutionary rule, the FVLA had turned the hotel into an exhibition center and party offices. After the truce and the city’s gradual reincorporation into the rest of the Dominion the former FVLA government, by then going under the Democratic Union label, had turned the building back into a hotel, in the form of a joint-venture between an employee-owned cooperative and a large hotel chain based in Courtland. The result was a fairly modern business and middle class hotel that was grossly overstaffed, but which still showed some of its faded former glory.

While the rank and file of the Democratic Union enjoyed themselves in the hotel’s grand ballroom, the party’s leadership sat in the Presidential Suite watching election returns on television. Gwen Ubrecht, the new face of the party, sat in the middle of a sofa slightly hunched over in a fashionable skirt and jacket nursing a diet cola. To her right sat the party’s former revolutionary leader Uldis Marko sat with his legs crossed, notebook in hand, checking off items his list as the district-by-district results came were reported. To her left was her press secretary, Ellen O’Neil, who was still recovering from her injuries at the hands of a would-be assassin aiming for Ubrecht. Although still on medical leave from the campaign, she had insisted on being present for election night. Jonathan Stiles, the Democratic Union mayor of Harrington, sat in an armchair to the right of the sofa. Across from him sat Alise Bernier, the recently installed Chairperson of the Democratic Union.

All the leaders watched the news reports intently as aides and lower party officials floated around in the background. Suddenly, all the side conversations in the room came to a halt as the news network played its well-known musical introduction for breaking news. In the midst of the instant silence, the news anchor looked solemnly out from the screen. “With the latest projections,” he began, “we can now say with confidence that the Liberal Party-Democratic Union electoral alliance will control at least 316 of the 600 seats in the next National Assembly…” There was a cheer, which Makro quickly silenced with a turn of his head and stern look. “...and,” the news anchor continued, “it appears that the Democratic Union will control at least 200 of those seats,” there was an anxious gasp, “meaning that Democratic Union leader Gwen Ubrecht will be the next Prime Minister of the Dominion....”

This time, Marko did not stop the cheers. Younger party members in the room jumped up and down. Someone popped the cork on a bottle of champagne. Marko shook his head and half-smiled. Such a bourgeois display.

O’Neil hugged Ubrecht and Marko patted her on the back. Stiles and Bernier both stood and walked over to shake their leader’s hand. For her part, Ubrecht smiled and cried at the same time. Then, another hush fell over the room as the first phone call came.

Bernier, who was closest to the landline, picked up the phone. She listened, then put a hand over the receiver. “It’s Harrelson,” she said, referring to the leader of the Upper Virginia Liberal Party, “he’s calling to congratulate you.” She smiled wryly. “And I suspect to finalize the portfolio assignments in the new coalition…”

Another phone rang and O’Neil reached out and picked one of several mobile phones off the coffee table. “Hello?” She asked. She smiled at the answer and turned to Ubrecht. “It’s Prime Minister Poole calling to concede,” she said almost with a giggle.

Other phones rang with other well-wishers or those seeking patronage. Ubrecht was momentarily at a loss of who to speak with first and showed just a hint of wide-eyed shock.

Then, Stiles held up a hand and silenced the cacophony of overlapping conversations. He held a phone towards Ubrecht. “It’s President Holmes,” he said.

Ubrecht finally stood and took the phone from Stiles. “Good evening, Mr. President,” she said.

“Good evening, Ms. Ubrecht,” Holmes said over the phone. “Congratulations on your victory.”

“Thank you, Mr. President,” Ubrecht said, winking towards her colleagues.

“I’d like you to come to the Presidential Mansion the day after tomorrow - I’m guessing you’ll need a day to rest after your celebration tonight. I’d like to meet with you, Prime Minister Poole and General Peterson to discuss the transition and your new cabinet.”

“Yes, sir,” Ubrecht said. “Thank you.”

Ubrecht handed the phone back to Stiles and sank to the couch. “My God,” she murmured. “It’s real, isn’t it?”

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Postby Upper Virginia » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:06 pm

Presidential Mansion, Courtland

With a final wave from the President, the First Lady and the Prime Minister-designate, the doors of the Presidential Mansion closed amid the glare of TV lights and bursts of still camera flashes. Once the doors were closed, President Alex Holmes, dressed in his typical dark gray suit, pale blue shirt and red tie, turned to Gwen Ubrecht, his new Prime Minister-designate, and gave a crooked smile. “You have no idea how hard that part of the job is for a former military man,” Holmes said as he held tight to his wife’s hand. “Fortunately, Biana,” he turned his head and nodded towards younger, raven-haired his wife, “is far more accustomed to the glare of the press.”

“I know,” Ubrecht said, “I attended one of her violin performances at the National Opera while I was working for President Harrison.” Ubrecht, who was dressed in a stylish but conservative red jacket and matching skirt, was much younger than Holmes but still about a decade older than Bianca Holmes, the First Lady. She stood confidently with an easy smile. “Thank you for your gracious welcome, Mr. President,” she nodded, “Mrs. Holmes.”

“Always a pleasure to welcome a fan,” the former concert violinist said with a smile. “At least I hope you were a fan.”

“Of course,” Ubrecht said.

Bianca Holmes reached up and gave her husband’s arm a squeeze. “I’ll let the two of you get down to business.” She looked up at her husband. “Should I send in General Peterson and Graham?”

“In a few minutes,” the President said patting his wife’s hand. “I’d like to have a private word with Ms. Ubrecht first.”

“Of course,” Bianca smiled and nodded, then turned and walked through one of the doors leading from the grand entrance, her blue gown swishing behind her.

The President turned and gestured towards an open door leading to the ceremonial office - the one used to welcome guests, not the one in the South Wing where the President did his real work. Once inside, Holmes closed the door and gestured to an antique arm chair. “Please have a seat, Ms. Ubrecht.”

Ubrecht crossed then room and took her seat. The President followed and took the seat across from her. “So, Mr. President, what would you like to say?”

“We’ll be working together quite a bit, Ms. Ubrecht,” Holmes said pleasantly, “why don’t you call me Alex in private. May I call you Gwen?”

“Certainly, Alex,” Ubrecht said as she crossed her legs. “I have to say I wasn’t sure what kind of reception I was going to get today. And frankly, I’m still not sure.”

“I can imagine,” Holmes said. He leaned back and folded his arms across his chest. “Well, I sense that we’re probably both people who can dispense with polite dancing around things, so let me dive right in.”

“Please,” Ubrecht said.

“Well, I have read your entire file. I know that you and the Democratic Union… fibbed a bit, shall we say, about your activities during the Altman regime and about just how deeply involved you were in the FVLA’s urban operations.”

Ubrecht nodded. There was no reason to protest or deny the truth.

“I also know that President Harrison knowingly kept you on staff to create a conduit for information to the FVLA and that you were instrumental in helping her and Chairman Marko negotiate the peace accords that ended the rebellion…”

“I was only a messenger,” Ubrecht said, her face flushing slightly.

“Oh, a bit more than that, Gwen,” Holmes said, “but of course many people contributed to the end of the Altman regime and the reunification of our nation who did so in ways that are… best left out of the history books.”

Ubrecht nodded again. Holmes’ own role in negotiating the initial truce with the FVLA on the eve of Harrison’s coup against Altman had never been publicly revealed.

“I also know,” Holmes continued, “that despite your campaign rhetoric, the Democratic Union has not completely abandoned its communist ideology…”

“I’d call it socialist, now, Alex,” Ubrecht said with a wry smile. “Communist implies a certain… militancy and narrow-mindedness that we’re trying very hard to abandon.”

“I hope so,” Holmes said somberly. “And this comes to my point, Gwen. I do not intend to interfere with your government. The people elected you fair and square.” He smiled slightly. “I didn’t vote for you, but I have to respect those who did.”

“I appreciate that…”

“However,” Holmes continued, “I do have an obligation to the constitution and the security of the nation…”

“You are the commander-in-chief and in charge of foreign policy. That’s a pretty clear division of power in my book,” Ubrecht countered.

“True,” the President agreed. “And in that vein, I have three stipulations for you, Gwen. First, if you want to develop closer relations with other… socialist countries, I won’t object, but I will not allow subordinating our foreign policy to theirs or overturning our existing alliance with Excalbia. Second, I will give you free reign on economic policy - to the extent the Assembly supports you, but I will not allow anything that violates the constitution, including the guarantee to private property. And, finally, I will not tolerate any attempt to alter the constitution.”

“I understand, Alex, and I give you my word that I have no intention of crossing your red lines,” Ubrecht said flatly.

“Good,” the President stood. “Now, let’s go meet Foreign Minister Yultilde and General Peterson. I’m sure they have a lot to brief you on.” Ubrecht stood and the President smiled. “Then, I think it would quite good media relations to let the press get some photos of you, Mildred, that is General Peterson, and my wife touring the gardens. It’ll reassure a lot of people to see you and General Peterson, in particular, looking friendly…”

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Postby Upper Virginia » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:06 pm

Presidential Mansion, Courtland

“I knew she’d want to… cozy up to Anahuac,” President Alex Holmes said as he swirled the ice and lime-flavoured water in his glass, “but did it have to be her first official trip as Prime Minister?”

“Thank God it isn’t Daytanistan,” General Mildred Petersen muttered as she sipped at her own drink. She looked over at the seated President. His shoulders were slumped, and he looked tired. She leaned back in her own chair suddenly feeling all too aware of her own age.

Veronica Janson, the career diplomat recently named Foreign Minister and newest member of the President’s so-called National Security Cabinet, shrugged. “You do have the authority to cancel her visit, Mr. President. Foreign policy falls under your sole authority.”

The President shook his head, but it was the third member of the mini-cabinet that spoke. “No, canceling Ms. Ubrecht’s visit would give her party the opportunity to claim that the President and the national security apparatus are working against their government.” Richard Thorsen, the long-serving Director of Intelligence, stood with his arms folded behind his back surveying the faces of those seated around him. “Their most extreme partisans are already spreading slanders and conspiracy theories to that effect. Giving them evidence of what they already claim would only serve to give them ammunition for an eventual push to amend the constitution to reduce the President’s power and bring the national security apparatus under their control.”

“Ubrecht knows better. And I don’t believe she’s pushing that storyline. And she promised not to seek changes to the constitution.” Petersen set her glass down on the coffee table and tugged at a blue sleeve covered in gold braid.

“She does, General. And she isn’t.” Thorsen sniffed. “At least not directly. However, as much as the Democratic Union may – or may not – be reformed communists, they are still a top-down party. It is highly unlikely that anyone in the party is pushing any narratives without at least the tacit approval of Ms. Ubrecht.”

He shrugged slightly. “And while I do not believe that she has any real intention of changing the constitution, she would be a fool not to at least consider the possibility of doing so, if the right opportunity presented itself. And Gwen Ubrecht is no fool.”

“That’s enough,” Holmes said, after draining his glass. “The Prime Minister and I have… an understanding. And I expect her to abide by it. That said,” the President stood, “I agree with Richard. We can’t – for a variety of reasons – tell the Prime Minister she can’t go to Anahuac.” He shot a wry smile towards Petersen. “And as much as I would have preferred her to go to Excalbia or the Caldan Union first, at least it isn’t Daytanistan.”

“We can, and will,” Janson began, “provide her with Foreign Ministry advisors for her trip. They can help… keep her on point, as it were. Economic, social ties. Normal diplomatic relations. No wild talk of alliances or the like.”

Holmes nodded and shot Thorsen a look. No doubt that the intelligence service would have its own operatives mixed in with the Foreign Ministry handlers. “Good. I’d also like to have Ubrecht meet with us before her trip. Just so we can review our policy with her.”

Prime Minister’s Office, Courtland
Several Days Later

“So, did they try to tell you not to go to Anahuac?” Alise Bernier, Chairperson of the Democratic Union, asked with a lopsided smile.

Prime Minister Gwen Ubrecht chuckled. “No, not really.” She walked across the office and took a seat across from her desk. Bernier and Attorney General Jonathan Stiles, the third-ranking member of the Party after Ubrecht and Bernier, followed and took seats flanking the Prime Minster.

“Oh,” Ubrecht began as she crossed her legs, “it was clear that President Holmes wasn’t exactly thrilled that I was going to Anahuac before visiting any of ‘our traditional friends,’ but he stood by his promise not to interfere with my premiership. Of course, I’ll have hangers-on from the Foreign Ministry,” she gave a wry grin, “which will undoubtedly include some of Thorsen’s spies.”

Stiles, once – very long ago it seemed – a city policeman under the Altman regime, nodded. “Just as I’m sure that at least a few of our own staffers are also collecting payments from Thorsen.”

Ubrecht suddenly laughed. Stile and Bernier both looked at her questioningly.

“Don’t you see the irony?” Ubrecht asked rhetorically. “I spied on President Harrison for the Party while working as her aide and, now, her ally Thorsen spies on me for her chosen successor!”

Stiles chuckled. Bernier glared.

“So, let’s get busy planning for our trip…” The Prime Minister turned and reached for her notepad.

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Postby Upper Virginia » Sun Apr 28, 2019 1:03 pm

Prime Minister’s Residence, Courtland

Gwendolyn Francesca “Gwen” Ubrecht came of age during the military dictatorship of General Craig Altman and the so-called Provisional Ruling Council. Born into a family that straddled the line between blue-collar working class and white-collar working class (her father had worked in construction and her mother had been a receptionist in a medical office), money had always been tight and prospects for the future had been dim. At least until Gwen earned a scholarship to the University of Arland.

While away at university, Gwen’s general distrust of the government and nagging sense that something was wrong in Upper Virginia found form and substance. She was introduced – in secret, of course – to the writings of Marx and other leftist thinkers. Although she always understood that such books were banned in the Dominion, she did not fully appreciate how dangerous they were until the professor who introduced them disappeared one night.

Gwen began keeping mental track of such disappearances. If those who “went away” were particularly prominent or from wealthy families, might turn up in prison, convicted in a closed court of sedition. If they were simple nobodies, like Gwen and most of her friends, they just disappeared.

Shortly before graduation, Gwen’s growing anger and frustration led her to the Free Virginia Liberation Army – an underground revolutionary group. By the time she entered her post-graduation professional life, Gwen was a full-fledged member of the FVLA and an urban guerilla. She was mostly assigned to gather useful intelligence through her work and network of social contacts. She occasionally participated in direct action, such as robberies or bombings, usually as a scout or look-out. She assured herself that she had never directly taken part in killing anyone and that those who had been physically harmed were all members of the police or military – legitimate targets at the time.

In all that time, there were only four things that Gwen regretted. Two of her regrets stemmed from being used as the lure in a honey-pot trap. At the time, she had justified it as furthering the revolution, but now she felt herself as much a victim as those she had entrapped. After all, it was her cell leader – who had long since died – who had pressured her into engaging in such activities despite her reluctance to do so.

Gwen also regretted her role in blackmailing poor Mrs. Yuletilde over her late son’s financial support of the FVLA. At the time, it had seemed clear that Yuletilde, the wife of Graham Yuletide, then the Vice Chairman of the Chamber of Industrials, was part of the oppressive capitalist class, a supporter of the dictatorship and an enemy of the people. It was only after Harrison coup and the truce with the FVLA that Gwen, in her role as a staffer to then-President Harrison, had gotten to know Graham Yuletilde. She had learned that the Yuletildes had been working behind the scenes for years to undermine the dictatorship. They were good, kind people and it was because of their influence – not in spite of it – that their son had become a supporter of the FVLA. Gwen particularly regretted that, even after getting to know Graham Yuletilde, she had never had the courage to face his wife and apologize to her.

Her final regret was that during that same time, after the truce and while working for President Harrison, she had been betraying the President by passing information to the FVLA. The fact that Harrison had known about Ubrecht’s spying and had used her to pass information that she wanted the FVLA leadership to know did nothing to lessen her feeling that she had betrayed a woman she had come to see as a mentor and role-model.

Thoughts like these, rather than the politics of managing her coalition with the far less radical Liberal Party or her cohabitation with the frankly conservative President Holmes, are what kept Ubrecht up at night.

Rolling over and checking the clock, Ubrecht sighed and sat up. She rolled over, threw off the covers and reached for her robe. She stood and walked across the room opening the door to the small sitting room outside her bedroom. She turned on the lights and sat down. Her phone and tablet taunted her, urging her to get her messages, her social media feeds and do some work. A stack of unread and half-read books also seemed to tease her, calling into question her self-perception as a thoughtful, insightful person.

Finally, the Prime Minister picked up her phone and began scrolling through her feeds. There was nothing from her staff, which was not surprising since it was the middle of the night. Although she did see one icon illuminated, indicating someone was up. It was Dan Zatlers, her designated liaison from the Foreign Ministry. This was not the first time Ubrecht and Zatlers had found themselves both up and online in the middle of night.

After casually chatting for a while and discussing nothing related to policy or politics, Ubrecht had the sudden depressing realization that Zatlers might be the closest thing she had to personal friend. The fact that she knew he really worked for Thorsen and was keeping tabs on her for the intelligence service, and that he knew that she knew made the friendship all the stranger.


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