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The New Age

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

The New Age

Postby Farmina » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:24 am

Cloaked by night, a man knelt down in the desert and scooped up a handful of Farminan soil. “This is my sand.

He watched the sands of Farmina run slowly through his fingers. “This sand has always been mine.

He could feel a change in the breeze. After eighteen years, the winds of Farmina were blowing in a different direction.




Former President Tobias Grey gave a mournful look to President Mortimer Garret, “It’s the end of an era. I'm sorry Mortimer.

The two men, members of the Moralist Party, stood silently for a moment. Then President Garret looked the elderly Tobias Grey in the eye, “We knew it had to end eventually.

Grey's fleshy face wobbled as he spoke, “But it ended in your time. That is why I’m sorry. And I want you to know that it wasn't your fault.




The ground shook as a Messian bomber released its payload on Verica. The sound of the explosions drowned out even the banshee call of the air raid siren.

From the window of his fifteenth story office, Deputy Director Joseph Cohen watched death visit the Farminan capital. He should have been in a bomb shelter, but the Messians were yet to strike the Department of Transport. And Cohen didn’t think they were going to change patterns now.

The night sky filled with sudden flashes of light as Farminan and Messian fighters wrestled for control of the sky.

Director Alan Tellman stepped into Cohen’s office, carrying a steaming cup of coffee. “Working late again, Joe?

I’ll go home once the all-clear sounds,” said Cohen, turning towards the door, “Besides, you’re still here.

I have ambitions,” said Tellman. Tellman’s ambition to be Director-General of the department was well known. He’d sacrificed a family life, and probably happiness itself, to pursue his career. And Cohen believed Tellman wouldn’t rest until he was Director-General of the Cabinet Office – the man in charge of the entire Farminan civil service.

Cohen had nothing against ambition. He liked Tellman on a professional and personal level. Tellman had been a friend and a mentor to Cohen. As Tellman climbed the ladder, he had taken Cohen with him. Cohen was good-natured, patient, a competent administrator, able to quickly get on top of large amounts of detail quickly. That made him an ideal adjutant for an ambitious man like Alan Tellman.

Cohen glanced over to the large pile of documents sitting at the centre of his desk, “I should have left before the raid started. But I have to double check the audits on major transport routes before we send them over to Defence.

Tellman was less than convinced, “You have an entire division working for you. Surely one of them could double check the audits.

I want to be certain everything is right,” said Cohen, turning back towards the window.

Tellman responded knowingly, “As you wish.

Cohen turned back to the battle raging over Verica. “The Messians have the advantage in the air-war,” he said softly, as he ran his hand through his short brown hair. Cohen was a naturally analytical man. And he trusted no one’s analysis more than he trusted his own.

Farmina had more aircraft – but the Messians had invested massively in their air-force and had some of the best planes in the world. More importantly, the Messian pilots were simply better air men than their Farminan counterparts.

There was a brilliant streak of fire from the ground into the air, then a mid-air explosion. A Farminan surface-to-air missile had found its target.

And the Messians struck back with greater fury. A pillar of light slammed down from the heavens into Verica and the launch site burst into flames.

That made Tellman jump back a step, “They also have an advantage in space.

Cohen turned back towards Tellman, “One thing in our favour, we have far stronger ground forces. When they make a beachhead, that’s when the war will really start.

Hopefully stronger ground forces still count for something in this age of space weaponry,” said Tellman, “Anyway, I have work to do. Make sure you leave once the all-clear sounds.

Tellman left Cohen’s office and Cohen returned to his work. The middle aged, medium height, medium build civil servant tried as best he could to ignore the battle outside.

The battle slowly dissipated over the next half. The Messian bombers must have hit enough targets for one night.

The all-clear sounded. Cohen picked up his phone and called home. The phone lines were still working, a small blessing. “Hi Liz it’s me...Yes, I’m just leaving now.” It was 1AM, but he had to call. Elizabeth would have been waiting up worrying about him.

Joseph Cohen picked up his suitcase. He was happy as an underpaid, overworked middle-manager in the civil-service, a dedicated family-man and a good Catholic. Unlike Tellman he had no real ambition. No, that wasn’t true. He had one ambition: to protect, and to provide, for his family.

But the Messians and their war against Farmina would change Cohen’s life in a way he would never anticipate...


LIBERAL! LIBERAL!””


…The alcohol-fuelled cheers brought Cohen back to the present day.

LIBERAL! LIBERAL!

The war was twelve years past. Cohen’s hair since turned a dark gray, his waist had widened slightly, and his face had developed numerous new lines.

Sometimes the war felt like a lifetime ago. And sometimes it felt like yesterday.

Elizabeth Cohen took Joseph's hand. “Its time.” Her husband nodded.

Joseph drew his breath and stepped out from behind the curtain onto the stage. His wife followed at his side, and his two daughters kept pace with their parents.

COHEN! COHEN!

Flags of light blue waved high in the air, amongst a sea of blue and white balloons.

LIBERAL! LIBERAL! LIBERAL!

Cohen, his wife and his two daughters, walked over to the lectern, taking up their positions behind Alexander Reinoff. Reinoff, the Liberal parliamentary leader, called for silence. It took some time for him to get it.

Fellow Farminans. I give you the President-elect. Joseph Cohen!

There was another round of cheering. “COHEN! COHEN!

Cohen stepped up to the lectern as Reinoff stepped away. Cohen adjusted the microphone and began speaking before the cheers had fully died down, “Colleagues and friends, supporters and true believers – this is your victory!

The roar of the crowd was deafening. Cohen had to wait half a minute before he could continue speaking.

Almighty God has blessed us with victory this day. But we must not take his great gift, the vote of the Farminan people, for granted. As the Moralists have learned tonight, it is easy to lose the favour of the voters. Every day from now until the next election we must prove ourselves, to justify the faith of Farminan people and the trust of our Lord.

There are so many people who I need to thank that I could stand here for days. So I will just name a few. First of course, is the Farminan people themselves. Their faith is a beautiful gift and I am truly thankful for it.

I'd like to thank my wife and my family for their patience and their love. Elizabeth, Liz, you are my partner in all things. And this is no one's victory, more than it is your victory. You have been with me on every step of this road. You campaigned with me every day. And now, you will not be the President's wife, but the second half of a two-person presidency.

My daughters, and my son who cannot be here tonight, you sacrificed more than anyone. When you were little, I went to war. And when you were growing up, I was competing for political power. You deserved a father who was there and I was not. And for that I am sorry. Yet you were so understanding and so tolerant. And for that I am eternally grateful.

James May, my campaign strategist. Richard Taylor, my chief of staff. James, you dreamed this victory, and Richard, you made it happen. I wouldn’t be here without you.

And of course I must thank Alex. You kept our party together during the seemingly endless years in opposition. Alex, our party is in your debt.


I would also like to thank President Garret for his service to this country,” that gained a handful of boos – perhaps encouraged by the drink, perhaps reflecting a deeper anger, “And his gracious concession speech.

The Moralists have dominated Farminan politics for eighteen years – nearly two decades. President Mortimer Garret, and President Tobias Grey before him, guided Farmina through war, reform, prosperity and peace. Their great legacy shall not be forgotten under my government.

Now – finally – it is our time to take the Democratic Republic of Farmina in a new direction. It is the dawn of a new age! And it shall be a great age!

COHEN! COHEN! COHEN!

LIBERAL! LIBERAL!

But Cohen was not yet finished. He gestured for quiet, “And to the world, I say this:

In recent years our great nation has been occupied with economic reform, internal security and the Messian civil war. Farmina has not paid the wider world enough attention.

But that is about to change. The DRF will return to the world stage. Prepare for us.
Last edited by Farmina on Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:03 am

Joseph Cohen’s so-called “kitchen cabinet” took their seats around the table, with Cohen at the head. The kitchen cabinet was a simple body, with one purpose: to prepare the President-elect and his coalition to take power. Liberals, Conservatives and Socialists sat together. Strange bedfellows, perhaps. But after eighteen years in power, the Moralists had made many enemies.

Alexander Reinoff, the Liberal's parliamentary leader, dutifully began the meeting. “This is the third meeting of the Pre-Cabinet. We only have one issue to discuss today. Civil service reform.

It must be reformed,” pompously declared Lord Arnold Harcourt, the Conservative leader. Under the coalition agreement, he would be the next Chancellor of Finance and the Treasury. He continued, making clear what he really meant by ‘reform’, “The Moralists have spent two decades stacking the civil service with political appointees. We need to clean the decks.

The Socialist leader, Peter Messenger, looked at his the Conservative leader with a suspicion that came as naturally as a mouse’s suspicion of a cat. “So we can appoint men of good breeding?” Messenger would soon be Chancellor for Education and Chancellor for Social Security.

Joe gently gestured for quiet, before speaking in a measured tone, “I think George makes a good point. The Moralists have had no qualms shaping civil service in their own image.

That was an understatement. The Moralists had shown no mercy in tearing down the Emperor Justinian and the Conservative parliamentary government that were his puppets. And their violent, bloody campaign of democratic reform extended equally to the civil service. Any civil servant who wasn’t a Moralist...well they were assumed to be an enemy of democracy.

Joe continued, showing a natural sense of caution and pragmatism, “But I do not think we should be to obvious. We don’t want to appear to be deliberately stacking the civil service with our own men.

Peter Messenger, a thin wiry man of many years, spoke up, “What about Alan Tellman, the current Director-General of the Cabinet Office? Wasn’t he a colleague of yours for many years? Surely if he is running the civil service – we don't need to 'reform' the service.

Joe Cohen clasped his hands together, “Director-General Tellman was a great friend and colleague. There is no better civil servant. But if the Moralists appointed him the head of the Cabinet Office, then we cannot trust him. He must be first to go.” To destroy a friend’s career was horrible choice, but it had to be done.

Alex Reinoff, who had won the massive super-portfolio of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, proposed an alternative “Richard Taylor, your chief-of-staff, will make an excellent replacement.” Reinoff would also been given the title of “Protector of the Presidential Seal” meaning he would President in all but name if Cohen became incapacitated.

Now that would be openly political,” said the Socialist leader, “I say we let Tellman be. Moralist hack or not, he has done well in the job. I’m not for firing anyone. Especially not their political allegiances and certainly not their suspected political allegiances.

We could consider someone who has been a success in the business world,” suggested Lord Harcourt. He was plump (though not fat) in contrast to the rake-thin socialist, “There are many names I could suggest.

And I bet they are all Conservative donors,” retorted Messenger. Although his tone was polite, his meaning wasn’t.

This isn’t helping,” Cohen said in his soft tones, but with a sternness and a need for control that occasionally he could not hide.

The others turned to Joe. If the President-elect wanted to silence the discussion, then they expected that he would contribute.

Cohen sat silently for several moments. He knew what had to be done. He had discussed it with Elizabeth for hours on end. She wasn’t keen on the idea, but didn’t have a better idea.

But he wasn’t sure how his partners would react. Finally, he said, “I will appoint the Director-General of Defence, Malcolm Prince, to replace Alan Tellman. I will also give Lord Prince the title of ‘Commissioner for Civil Service Reform’.

The new title needed no explanation – it was a euphemism for ‘the guy in charge of sacking our political enemies because we need to keep our hands clean’.

The others did not like it. Reinoff even stood up, with a deliberate sense of drama, “Malcolm Prince is a Moralist! He was an advisor to Tobias Grey, and the Moralists appointed him Director-General.

Prince is a murdering bastard!” added Messenger, the Socialist leader.

The Conservative leader was of a similar view. Lord Harcourt shook his head, “We can’t trust a former spy. Especially a sworn Moralist.” No one hated the Moralists more than the Conservatives, who had suffered so much at their hands after the fall of Emperor Justinian.

Joe waited patiently for some quiet. Finally the room gave him some, “Alex, Arnold, Peter. The Moralists are deeply entrenched in the civil service. We need someone who knows the Moralists, and knows their operatives within the civil service. We need someone who is ruthless, cunning and heartless. Malcolm Prince ticks all those boxes. Besides, if people think we are appointing a Moralist, they won’t accuse us of making political appointments.

Alex Reinoff, the man who had for so long stood at Joe’s side, was now questioning his judgement more than anyone, “How can you think you know Director-General Prince better than the Moralists? How can you trust him?

Joe turned to Reinoff, “I knew him back when he was a spy. We met him in the war. We fought together. There is no better man to do our dirty work.

Cohen didn’t like thinking about the war. But it was hard not to. His thoughts drifted back to his first meeting with then Spy-Master, Malcolm Prince...


...Joseph Cohen straightened his uniform. Cohen was a meticulous details-freak. And his uniform reflected it.

He had never expected to be put back in uniform. Not at his age.

There was an explosion not far off to the east and the ground shook just a little. That was another thing Cohen had never expected: being taken out of the logistics corps and being given a field commission. A middle manager from the Department of Transport made sense in logistics...but a field commission?

Nine months ago, Farmina had been on the back foot. Now the once mighty Messian military machine was on the verge of collapse and the Messian capital was within Farmina’s grasp.

Cohen took the seat behind his desk. A few more shells crashed down around Cohen's force. The Messians were being a bit uppity today.

Cohen had been given a stretch of front that saw little action, well away from Farminan drive on the Messian capital. “Somewhere it doesn’t matter if I stuff up,” thought Cohen cynically – but he wasn’t wrong.

Outside, Cohen's office there was a voice “I'm looking for Colonel Cohen.” The voice was slurred and unfamiliar to Cohen.

A moment later a slouched figure entered Cohen's office. He didn't knock or ask Cohen's adjutant to show him in. Cohen watched the man's awkward walk one leg dragging behind the other.

Cohen liked order and method and conformity. Yet, this man had arrived with announcement or invitation. “And who, may I ask, are you?” asked Cohen in a soft tone for such a pointed question.

Malcolm Prince, Spy-Master,” responded Cohen's guest, in words that were staggered and slurred, “I need your...assistance.

Spy-Master...please take a seat,” said Cohen slowly. The Farminan Intelligence Services and its Spy-Masters struck fear into Farminan and Messians alike.

The Spy-Master slowly dragged himself to seat across from Cohen's desk. Cohen watched Malcolm Prince with new found caution, “I did not mean to sound rude. How may I help you?

Prince grinned. It was a twisted, unpleasant grin – one side of the grin significantly higher than the other. “Rebels continue to...strike against the tyrant Snyder and his regime. Destroying the regime...ends the war. But the rebels...they need supplies. I need to deliver... said supplies. And you will create a...diversion...so I can do this.

Cohen didn’t like being a pawn. But he knew about the Spy-Masters by legend. And he saw the possibility of a gaining an advantage if he played his cards right. He chose his words carefully, “I am under-resourced and undermanned. This is the distant end of the war. Sometimes I think our commanders forget we are still fighting out here. I have barely enough fuel to keep my tanks in the fight.

Exactly,” said 'the Prince', “This is the distant end of the war...both for us and the Messians. The Messians have only...a screening force here. It makes it easier...to slip supplies across their line.

Still...” said Cohen. He might have feared what Prince could do, but he had spent enough years in the civil service to know that sometimes you had to play hard ball to get resources.

Prince nodded slowly. He had anticipated Cohen's move, “I will talk to some people. I'm sure we can arrange something.” More supplies and troops for Cohen’s forces were already on the way.

Cohen stood up and walked over to the maps on his wall. “I suppose I could make a move on the town of Beltan. It’s what passes for a Messian base of operations along this stretch of front. An attack there will certainly get their attention. With enough resources, they would be forced to move just about everything in the area into Beltan to have any chance of holding it.

Prince didn’t walk over to the map. Walking caused him discomfort. He didn’t even say anything. He just nodded approvingly. Cohen wasn’t a strategic genius, or an imaginative commander, but he was reliable and cautious. A safe pair of hands for Prince’s important work.

The Prince felt this would be a good partnership. But he had no idea what he had started.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:51 pm

Malcolm Prince was a long way from handsome. The muscles down the entire left side of his body were failing. Normally spies were supposed to blend into the crowd – but Malcolm “The Prince” Prince stood out. His grey hair was unkempt and his clothing was dishevelled. A fine outfit, but Prince wore it with disdain.

Director-General Prince drove his electric chair up to a large marble tombstone, which towered over the smaller stones on either side. A single white chess piece, the king, lay on its side in defeat.

Malcolm tried to visit his old adversary’s grave at least once a year. Dan Rickhart had been dead eight years. He gave his life, ending the Messian Civil War to save the lives of Messians. Messians of all creatures!

As the cool morning air touched his cheeks, Malcolm silently read the words on the tombstone again, “Here lies Dan Rickhart. No grave shall hold him.

Tobias Grey, the first President of Farmina, wobbled forward, walking stick in one hand and cigarette in the other. Explaining his presence, the morbidly obese Grey added, “Malcolm. An unexpected surprise. I was on my way to visit my wife’s grave. And you?

The Prince typed on a keyboard attached to his wheelchair with his right hand. A computerised voice spoke, “I am faced with a question. I was wondering what Rickhart would have done.

Prince suddenly thought about Tobias’ hair. Where Prince’s blonde hair had long since changed colour, the elderly former President still had a full head of jet black hair and an equally jet black beard. “That’s too good to be true,” thought Prince but didn’t say anything.

Tobias Grey took a long drag on the cigarette then continued, “If Cohen softens the peace treaty we imposed on the Messians, what was the point of fighting the war?

My feelings exactly,” responded the Prince. Prince then paused, before resuming his typing, “But people of a different view won the election. Now those people have offered me to a job – Director General of the Cabinet Office.

He wants you running the civil service? He offered you Tellman’s job?” said Grey, clearly surprised, “He and Tellman were friends once. I am led to understand that before the war, they had a very close partnership.

Prince explained, “I knew Cohen during the war.

You and Cohen crossed paths?” asked Grey, scratching his carefully manicured black beard, with his cigarette-holding hand, “I vaguely recall...but details elude me.

Typing furiously with his good hand, Prince responded, “As you know, I was a spy and he was a soldier...


Spy-Master Malcolm Prince hobbled into Colonel Cohen’s office.

The office had a sense of chaos in the lead up to the attack. Prince licked his twisted, thin pale lips as he observed the proceedings. Phones and buzzers were continuously going. Cohen’s adjutant was continuously racing reports and memos to and from Cohen’s desk. The waiting area outside Cohen’s office was often full of junior officers, waiting patiently to make verbal reports directly to the Cohen. On the office walls, Cohen’s maps were barely visible under the thick blanket of information pinned to it.

Everything will be...ready for the attack?” asked the Prince.

Cohen pressed down on the intercom, “James – hold all reports and calls unless their urgent.

And with that, the chaos just died. Prince grinned. Well it was the closest he could manage to a grin. As he expected, Cohen sat at the centre of an organised chaos. Everything had to go through Cohen. The Colonel was meticulous, a perfectionist. He was hungry for information and data and reports. And in trying to perfect everything, to control everything – in his failure to delegate – Cohen created chaos. To Cohen it wasn’t chaos. And in a weird way, if you looked past the noise and the distraction and Cohen’s endless piles of work, it seemed to work. Over the years of being a civil service micromanager, Cohen had developed systems to deal with it. But those systems required order. Absolute order.

However, the Prince suspected that if Cohen caught a bullet, or had a nervous breakdown from overwork, then the perfect chaos that centred on Cohen could so easily become real chaos.

Cohen gestured for Prince to take a seat, “Everything is moving to schedule. I have permission from General Wakefield to seize Beltan. The attack will go ahead as planned.

Prince nodded, and passed Cohen an intelligence report, “It appears the Messian forces...are thinning out on this stretch....of front and focussing on Beltan.

Cohen flicked through the report, absorbing the information at an amazing rate, “They must have found out about the attack. I have been so careful to keep it secret. Thank God they aren’t pulling troops from other fronts.

They can’t spare troops...from other fronts,” noted Prince.

Cohen watched Prince for a moment. The lifetime public servant’s mind was ticking over, calculating and recalculating, before finally saying, with a touch of mirth in his voice, “You devious man.

The Prince said nothing, but nodded slightly, taking the comment as a complement.

Cohen continued, “You let a Messian spy find out about the attack. And now the enemy is thinning out along the front and focusing on Beltan – just what you wanted. It means your mission will be easier, though more of my men will die in the attack. I suppose you would call it acceptable losses.

You probably made sure a known traitor was involved in reassigning troops to my forces. Maybe a couple of vague references to Beltan’s strategic value, but nothing to obvious.


Prince stood up, “I can’t confirm or deny. But continue your...preparations in secret. The Messians can’t know...that we know...that they know. Otherwise they may...get suspicious.

That makes sense,” said Cohen slowly, “I think.

Best of luck with the attack,” said Malcolm Prince, slurring his words. Prince staggered away, leaving Cohen to ponder plans-within-plans in his perfect chaos...


...“Anyway,” said Malcolm, or at least his computer said it, “I have to decide whether I want to work for a Liberal. He’s a good man. But we have many differences of opinion. And he may not be a great boss.

Grey leaned heavily on his walking stick –an immense weight to put on one small stick, “I cannot answer that for you. But the Moralists will bare you no grudge if you take Cohen’s offer. Indeed, you could be very useful to us if you take the posting.

I will have to serve my President loyally,” said Prince.

Of course,” said Tobias Grey, leaning in. His breath was richly scented with single malt and tobacco, “But still...

Malcolm gave Grey a cautious look. But he didn’t disagree with elderly former president.

Malcolm, we are at the cross roads,” Grey wheezed as he spoke, “Some of the Moralists are furious our time is at an end. They want to go to war against the Liberals and the President-elect, and not just in a metaphorical sense.

But I did not destroy Justinian and conquer the Messians, just to create a Moralist dictatorship in Farmina. I can maintain order in my party, for now. But if Cohen overreaches, then the hardliners in my party may become uncontained.


Prince’s computerised voice responded, “And you want me to take the Cohen’s offer, and then hold him in check – simply so the Moralists do not tear themselves apart?

So the Moralists don’t tear the DRF apart!” exclaimed Grey, his voice recapturing the great charisma he showed in his younger days. He continued in a less excited tone, “But the decision, of course, is entirely yours.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:42 am

Joseph Cohen breathed in and out, slowly. Elizabeth straightened his tie, “Calm down Joe. After everything...this is nothing. This is just formality.

It’s not a formality if someone shoots me,” responded the President-elect.

A Farminan President has never been shot,” noted Elizabeth, removing a piece of lint from his suit jacket.

Tobias Grey got blown up once, nearly blown up a second time and kidnapped by his own people,” observed Joseph Cohen in his dry analytical fashion, “And the Moralist hardliners are furious about losing the Presidency...

Elizabeth could not abide her husband’s nerves and self-pity, “If you fluff your oath – I’ll kill you myself. Don’t forget how much we’ve all sacrificed to get you here.”.

Yes dear,” said Cohen in mock subservience. At least partly mock.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court walked straight past not even acknowledging the President-elect. The Chief Justice was a Moralist, appointed by Tobias Grey, what seemed like a lifetime ago.

Elizabeth stepped back and gave her husband a final once over. Like her husband, she had an eye for detail. Elizabeth nodded approvingly.

The palace ushers gave the signal. Elizabeth looked into her husband’s eyes, “Its time for your oath. You better get out there.

You never wanted this,” said the President-elect, “I could refuse the oath.

It’s a bit late for that,” laughed Liz Cohen.

I love you Liz. More than anything. I’d give it all up for you. If that’s what you want...” Cohen looked intently as his wife.

I know you would,” said Liz, cutting off her husband. Her eyes were becoming slightly moist. It wasn’t just the words, but the conviction with which her husband said them. She kissed Joe softly on the lips, just fleeting, “But your country needs you. And I want you to lead them. Go and take your oath.

The President-elect closed his eyes, “Then I do this for you, my love.




I do this for you, my love,” said Colonel Cohen, as the Messian breeze flicked his hair.

He looked at the picture of his beautiful Elizabeth in his pocket watch. He needed some way to justify his actions to himself. And there was no better justification than family.

Then his eyes turned to the clock face. Nearly time. He flicked the pocket watch shut.

He looked up and looked around him. The regiment was assembled, at full-strength and ready to strike Beltan. General Wakefield couldn’t understand how a Colonel had managed to requisition extra troops where he failed – Wakefield knew nothing of the pact with the Prince. FIS operations were notorious for their secrecy.

Cohen could feel his pocket watch ticking in his hand. The attack was getting closer and closer. The Colonel had planned the operation to the smallest detail. But here, at the front with the troops, away from the office and the maps and books – he felt apprehensive. The plan had so many moving parts that could go wrong. He planned for contingencies – but some things could not be foreseen. Against his strongest urges, lesser officers would have to take the lead if events diverted from the plan.

Cohen flicked his pocket watch open. Seconds to go. The artillery would begin the attack. Next Cohen’s few tanks, supported by infantry, would move in on the town’s flanks. Finally the bulk of the infantry would go in, and also come up through tunnels Cohen’s methodical research had located.

The Messians knew the Farminans were coming – but it wouldn’t help them.

The second hand reached 12. It was time. Cohen pressed down on his radio, “Commence the barrage.

Shells wailed overhead. Explosion after explosion sounded in and around Beltan. Fires began to burn and civilians began to scream. Shells kept falling. Messian artillery was now firing back, but they were massively outgunned.

Cohen continued to watch, waiting for the next phase. He thought of his wife and children. Once the war was over, his family would be safe. And he could be with them again. Back at home with his two daughters and his son and his beautiful Liz.

As explosions and fires and the wail of shells dominated the air, Cohen half-heartedly whispered, “I do this for love.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:34 pm

Director-General Alan Tellman stopped outside the executive suite, to watch the live television feed from the Presidential Palace. Of all people, he had never even dreamed an unimaginative, process-driven micro-manager like Cohen would take the Presidency.

He smiled. He couldn’t begrudge an old friend such a victory.

Cohen’s voice had barely changed in the last twelve years. Still soft and measured. Respectable. Trustworthy. “I swear, to devotedly serve as President of the Democratic Republic of Farmina; and fully devote myself to defending Farmina’s people, her lands, her Catholic faith, and her democratic constitution. So help me God.

And it was done. Eighteen years of nearly unbroken Moralist rule were an end. The Liberals were ascendant and Cohen was President. Tellman turned away from the screen and continued to the large door protecting the Cabinet Office executive suite.

Tellman swiped his pass. But nothing happened. Again, he swiped. Again no response. He swiped again and again.

A security guard proceeded over to Tellman. “Sir, that pass is no longer valid.

What?!

By order of Director-General Prince, all your privileges are revoked. We have to remove you from the building,” said the guard, “The news has only just come through.

Tellman was furious, “Dr Strangelove can’t revoke my access! I’m head of the civil service – he’s just a Departmental head.

That’s no longer true sir. Malcolm Prince has been appointed your replacement. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. You are being transferred to another Department – we don’t know which,” said the security guard.

Tellman expected he was going to vehicle registration or sanitation.

As he was lead out of the building, Tellman observed many of the senior officers were having trouble with their access passes. Especially those close to the Moralists.

Tellman couldn’t believe how quickly the President and the Prince had struck. And how silently. This had been carefully planned. Carefully and ruthlessly.

When he was finally outside, Tellman felt cold wind. It matched Tellman’s mood. He had never done his job politically. Instead he had done it well. His career had been his life. And now his career his was over. Everything he worked for, for everything he wanted – gone.

And to think he had considered Cohen a friend and a good man. Tellman shook his head. Such callousness – not one word of warning from Cohen. That wasn’t the Cohen he had known. But it had been many years...time could change a man...




A machine gun chattered in the distance. Rifle fire barked in response and the machine gun fell silent.

Used to the sporadic gun fire, Colonel Joseph Cohen ignored it and examined the smoking rubble that lay all around him. This had been the town of Beltan.

As Farminan banners flew high, victorious music blared and Farminan soldiers revelled in their triumph.

But Cohen saw death and destruction.

Broken and bloodied bodies of numerous Messian soldiers, as well as civilians and Farminan soldiers, still lay where they died. Many of the dead soldiers were not much older than his son. As he walked the streets – what was the left of the streets – of Beltan, he often saw his son’s face on their haunting, horrific corpses. And every dead woman reminded him of his wife (oh God, how he missed her). And every girl, his beautiful daughters.

Roads were nothing but a series of shell craters, with a bit of bitumen here and there. Proud buildings and humble homes lay in pieces. Cohen could not imagine how the survivors could put their lives back together after the DRF had effectively levelled their town.

Yet despite the horror and the tragedy, Cohen did feel an uncomfortable pride. This was his victory. He had done his bit. And he had done it well. Beltan was captured. Few Messian troops escaped the devastation – meaning the Messian power on this stretch of front was utterly ruined. Farminan casualties were very low.

And the Messians had been so busy with their unfolding disaster in Beltan, they hadn’t noticed what Malcolm Prince had been doing further west. A complete success.

In some small way, he had made his family safer. For a man so completely dedicated to family, that went a long way to quelling Cohen’s anguish. But not completely.

More gunfire broke out on the east side of town. And a couple artillery shells crashed down on Beltan. The Messian survivors were trying a counter-attack.

Joseph Cohen’s natural instincts kicked in. He placed his hand on the radio, but his artillery was already retaliating. And retaliating on a far larger scale than the surviving Messians couldn’t hope to match.

Cohen let go of his radio. He didn’t need to interfere – junior officers could deal with this. It was a chance for them to prove their worth.

Malcolm Prince staggered up to Cohen, “Congratulations...Colonel Cohen. You have done well. Your planning...your attention to detail...was invaluable.

Cohen knew Beltan would be his biggest part in the war. He had wanted to do it right. He took account of every tunnel, every road, every geographical feature and the local weather pattern – in the end he knew Beltan better than its Messian defenders. Cohen turned to Prince, “And for what, Spy-Master? The Battle of Beltan will be a footnote in history. For all the death and destruction, it is but a pin-prick compared to the battles that are being waged on the Francisco front.

Victory,” said the Prince. He needed no other reason.

Cohen sighed, “President Grey had a chance to make peace. I could have been home with my family. But Grey chose to continue his war and oversee complete destruction of the Messian military machine.

Prince said nothing. He actually agreed with President Grey. The Messians needed to be defeated, not negotiated with.

Cohen could read what Prince was thinking, “Do you enjoy this? This endless destruction.

The destruction will end,” responded the Spy-Master.

When there is nothing left to destroy,” retorted Cohen, “As the saying goes, President Grey will make a desert and call it peace. That will foster hate and may well cause another war.

As far as the Spy-Master was concerned, the utter destruction of the enemy was the correct course. But he didn’t say it. He didn’t need to. Instead he responded, “And what would you...do about it...Colonel Cohen?

It was a good question. Cohen hadn’t framed the problem that way before. Malcolm Prince was a more lateral thinker than Cohen. Joseph looked around at the devastation again, “End this war as quickly as possible so I can get home to my wife and my children. Being a soldier, that means fighting it as best I can...

Prince grinned. Or at least what passed for a grin. Cohen looked at the Prince, his tone firmed though his voice was always soft, “And then Spy-Master, I will do all I can to ensure that President Grey, and his Moralists, and men like you, can’t go around fighting pointless wars to their bitter end without regard for the human cost.

Politics?” asked the Prince slightly amused, “You want to...bring down the Moralists?

I suppose so,” responded Cohen, “If that’s what it takes to protect my family, and billions of other families, from this sort of pointless bloodshed.

If you take that course, I wish you luck,” said Malcolm Prince, “But I have a word of caution. The road to power...changes men. Especially those of good intent.

To Cohen this was just speculative chat - he wasn't committed to politics. “And this bloodshed doesn’t?” he responded offhandedly.

Prince turned away from Cohen, “Enjoy your victory...Colonel. It may be bloody...but victory often is...Your careful planning... saved Farminan lives. You did this...the good and the bad. Try and...remember the good – it will...help you sleep.

That night, Cohen would dream of what he saw, what he did, in Beltan. And his resolve against the war strengthened. He would dream of Beltan the following night. And the night after that...




President Joseph Cohen stood in the halls of the Parliamentary building, with his closest advisers by his side. Soon he would make his first address to the great institution of Parliament.

His chief-of-staff, and his chief political strategist, were still arguing over nuances to the speech, with only minutes to go.

Alex Reinoff stood to the President's left. Cohen smiled at his closest ally, as he straightened his tie, “I never really believed we would be doing this Alex. Or should I say Chancellor Reinoff?

Reinoff smiled, “Now we must make our victory count for something.

The whir of an electric wheelchair approached. Malcolm Prince came into view.

Reinoff's eyes followed Director-General Prince.

The wheelchair came to a halt. Prince typed and his computer spoke, “I have already begun 'reforming' the Cabinet Office. I have briefs being prepared on every major policy topic. Options are being drawn up implementing election promises. Strategy papers are being developed on policy areas you are interested in, but you don't have a specific policy. Government is truly yours Lord President.

Very good. Very good indeed,” said Cohen, as his chief-of-staff passed him the latest version of his speech. He kept speaking as he either ticked or crossed out the changes to his speech, “Next target for reform is the Treasury. We can't let Moralists too near the money.

As you wish,” said Prince, “You are the President and I am bound by your will.

Alex Reinoff continued to study Malcolm Prince. He didn’t say anything. But he thought it, You may have fooled Joe – but not me. I don't know what you are up to – but what I'm watching you.




...And that is my government’s plan for a stronger education system.

Joseph Cohen sat facing the entire Parliament, in the grand seat at the very front of the Parliament.

Finally, Chancellor Reinoff will oversee a new era of engagement with the international community. I want productive trade and diplomatic relationships with the world. However, where I see threats to the DRF I am prepared to act.

The Farminan President glanced to the Liberals and the coalition partners on his right, then the Moralists and the rest of the opposition parties on the left. The Liberals looked triumphant. The Moralists looked ready to go to war with Cohen. “And that concludes my government’s agenda. My reforms will carve out a new age for the DRF.

And it will be a great age.


But with new ages, come new threats.

In the dark, a threat was stirring...


...As night’s dark cloak protected him, he watched as the sands of Farmina kept seeping between his fingers.

The moon came out from behind the clouds. Its light illuminated Ian Stemper Junior’s tall, well built figure. He could be easily regarded as handsome, if it were not for his scraggly beard and untidy shoulder length brown hair, which could sharply divide audiences.

Stemper grip firmed and the sand stopped seeping, “This sand is mine.”.

Ian Stemper held the Farminan soil tight in his powerful grasp – it was his sand and he would not let go of it

Ian Stemper Jnr looked to the glittering night sky, “Soon Father. I will strike very soon.


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