Aurie begins talks with those who govern the Northern Federation. She knows that they know that she could stomp on them like a bug, if she so desired. Coming from that position of strength, Aurelia instead tries to be nice.
From a diplomatic standpoint, there are two items on the table. The first is addressed here and I’m writing the other for tomorrow’s installment. After that, we’ll get the two friends back together.
“General Hartmann,” the older man, maybe sixty, began. “I am Dwight Lochnar. This is Gage Hill and Tann Marx. We are the executive body of the Governing Council. I can introduce the rest, later, but we were told your time is limited.”
“Time? No. Just my patience,” she smiled, sitting. I’m glad there’s a little signal here. One of the perks of being a politician, I suppose. Aurelia had already broken through their pathetic Wall of encryption and was sending the meeting in realtime to her aunt.
“You have brought an army to the border of our country,” Lochnar frowned. “That has all of us concerned. We have, after all, defeated a foreign invader before.”
“And I assure you are held in great esteem in the imperium for doing that,” the General replied. “Mine is simply a scouting mission to see what lay north of the ruins of New York City as well as drop by and say ‘hello.’”
“A scouting mission?” Marx, to her right, asked. “With twenty thousand soldiers?”
“Legionaries, not soldiers,” she gently corrected. “These are unregulated lands. We are not just passing through but also surveying and cataloging what might be necessary to return these farms and harbors to use. If you do not know, it is imperial policy to settle discharged veterans on empty lands such as these. My commander, the Empress, will bring order. To these lands and worlds without end.”
“Your imperium now claims the Eastern Seaboard?” the one on the left, Hill, asked.
“I’m just an army commander,” she dropped her eyes and shrugged. “What do I know of such politics?”
“General Hartmann,” Lochnar said with an edge to his voice. Several at the other table shifted in their chairs. “We do know your other roles so please do not insult us.”
“I apologize for my poor choice of words.” Aurelia dipped her head to the table before raising it to smile at the three opposite her. “So, since you asked: with no one else claiming the lands from the old imperial capital – and do recall what my aunt did there – to the Hudson River, they are now a part of the imperium.”
There was a moment of quiet as even those in the Northern Federation had heard that, following the defeat of the Washington army, another twenty thousand soldiers had been shot, followed by an estimated fifty thousand civilians. Aunt Faustina would have leveled the city and sowed the ground with salt if not talked out of it by her legates. She was and is determined that Satanism-Bolshevism will be eradicated wherever she finds it.
“The Hudson River?” Marx finally ventured. He looked around the room. “I have no objection to that.”
When no one spoke, he went on.
“And there was this other matter. ‘Friend and Ally’?” he asked.
“Yes.” Having gotten her way so far, Aurelia considered the time. “As I think y’all know, non-maritime Canada is in a bad way with the snow and ice coming south. We already face them across the Ohio River. A fretful situation. It would, how shall I say, be to our mutual advantage if the imperium’s right flank was anchored on someone we know we could trust.”
“But that would jeopardize our relations with Canada,” Hill said. “Relations which have been quite cordial.”
“Their occupation of the farmlands of the former Midwest was not without the use of force, gentlemen,” the general noted. “If they think your fisheries are worth their attention, can you fight as you did two generations ago?”