Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Resistance Begins .... scene two

The Resistance Begins:
Scene two:

Morning, river fogs still fill the streets of Frankfurt around the Froggenhaus, the headquarters of Lord Bastille. He stands at a window in his office glaring down into the mists as some nervous aides shuffle papers and stand in attendance. There is a knock on the door. An aide opens it and whispers with the sentry outside.

Aide: Sir, there’s a foreman from the construction area here. He claims to have papers which he’s only authorized to give you.
Bastille: Bien! That was quick, I sent for the chief engineer only a few moments ago, bring him in!

A man enters. His clothes are of good, durable material, but bits of mud are stuck on his leggings and boots. He offers a large vellum envelope to Lord B.
Man: Your lordship, I was ordered to bring this to you right away ... seems it was found at the construction site this morning and after ... (hesitates)
L. Bastille: Bien, tres Bien! (takes envelope, opens it and starts to look at the materials inside) ... eh? These are not the plans I sent for!
Man: No, m’Lord. I’m given to understand that it is some correspondence from the field army.
(The aides and staff begin to gather with excitement ... muttering “Dispatches? Letters?”)

L. Bastille: Aha! Yes! A letter from General .... (he falls silent, reading the note). I pray you, Gentlemen, to leave me alone a bit ... wait a moment, sir. I need to ask you a few more questions about where these papers were found.
Exeunt all others .... with an excited and curious air.

L. Bastille: Sentry!
The guard at the door enters: Sir?
L. Bastille: Please clear the hall and post yourself ten yards away.
Guard: Yes, Sir. (exeunt, and close door ... after a moment’s silence)

L. Bastille: Well, this is an interesting letter, M’seur???
Phillipe: Phillipe will do, m’Lord, for now.
L. Bastille: (grunts an agreement) so, what have you for me?
Phillipe: Forget the young architect, m’Lord ... he’s out of reach by now. Seems he was a nephew of Braunsweiger’s, and I suspect he’s a flagged horse or two on his way there.
L. Bastille: So, Germania and Hesse Seewald have these plans now too?
Phillipe: You’re still in the ground clearing phase, and I suspect your engineers have other ideas as well ... which would perhaps be a tad more useful to Frankfurt as well. That ravelin facing their walls so closely was a tad presumptuous.
L. Bastille: (with exaspiration) Has everyone in the world seen the plans?
Phillipe: Not yet, but with a little luck, they will by next week.
L. Bastille: What!??
Phillipe: First of all, I’m sure the Hertzhog has already seen a set, these are Frankfurt charwomen, after all. Secondarily, your engineers have other good plans, but most importantly, showing the Hertzhog new plans and claiming that you make these changes on HIS behalf will probably calm some of his jitters right now. Otherwise, I doubt that he’d be working so hard to establish contacts with Lady Pettygree, or with m’Lady.
L. Bastille: M’Lady? Would he dare?
Phillipe: Frankfurt sets great store on being a free Imperial city, m’Lord ... and those plans you’ve conveniently lost would be seen as distinct threat to such status. . ...
L. Bastille: So! Where does he stand then?
Phillipe: (sorts through the papers) here’s the current state of affairs, I think.
L. Bastille: (reading aloud)

* Strategic Situation:
Frankszonia post Nidda Annexation and after the Dilbert Affair.
Forces occupying Nidda and Bad Tannes area:
Phaulie’s Fusils
Hillary’s Hussies

Forces with Gen. Chevert’s Gallian corps:
Colonel Chicken’s Brigade under the Baron V. Ballpark
and Regiment v. Hottatrot .... brought up to strength with drafts from Nidda’s former army.

Remainder of forces concentrating to the northwest of Frankfurt except for guards and other security details within the city. Units are being built up to strength with heavy drafts from the former army of Nidda as well.

Hostile forces facing Nidda and Bad Tannes:
Russelheim, old fortifications, but completely surrounded by flowing channels of the Nidda River ... could field a solid Brigade and some squadrons of dragoons.
A little to the north of our position: Rebitochs, above that Beckzaini, above that, Ginheim could probably field a decent line regiment and about the same militia.

Resistance forces gathering near Bad Soda and Koenigstein:
About 1000 cavalry and 4000 infantry and artillery ... while these units are labeled as “militia” they have a heavy leavening of veterans and are being reinforced by local companies of line troops from local leaders who fear Frankszonian’s new assimilation policies. Also, they have mustered both an extremely effective jaeger contingent and some squadrons of experienced, if elderly, cuirassiers.

Internal problems:
1: With the flight of the banker, Muckiethaler, Frankszonia is extremely short on specie. Not only does this threaten a crisis in meeting the army payroll, but also it could cause disaffection among the merchants who want to see the Sausage Factory quickly rebuilt.
2: Given that many of the mercenary officers left with Pepperoni and Braunsweiger while many of the native officers are members of the noble resistance families, the Frankszonian army is experiencing some discipline problems. Fortunately, most of their sergeants are outcasts from the mercantile families and thus quite loyal to Gallia. However, Given that many of the sergeants also have trained and/or spent some time in Germanian service, their reliability as part of an allied force with Gallia could be a touchy issue. The units dispatched with Gen Chevert were chosen for their reliability ... which also weakens the Hertzhog’s hand locally at the moment.
3: Given the immanent grand masquerade, Duke Fahrtz can’t risk sending a large Frankszonian force to break up the rebellious gathering. The local social network just about guarantees neither he nor the resistance will move until the Gallian notable ladies are safely away.

Furthermore, some influential foreigners have gathered in the preparation for this fete:
* Moosart: A young musical prodigy from some little village on the Elbow River, known for his exciting musical compositions, his bright church music, and his fascinating influence over rich, young women.
* Fettuccine: An Italian dancing master and rake ... survives because he’s also a fencing master. The Migraine ... uh ... Margravine Rhabbidiers is rumored to be a very dear friend of his, probably because she loves to listen to the music while dancing and doesn’t talk too much then.
* Sir Tom, the count Saucie: the tall, dark envoy from Duke Alfredo of Bologna ... middle aged but in good shape, having established himself as a decent cavalry officer prior to this appointment. His family is not known to be allied to the Pepperoni.
* Mistress Ewewarp: a plump master weaver and seamstress, is the contractor for the dresses and costumes for the masquerade. She is a close friend of the Rosenschnauzen, but then again, she seems to have been able to secure confidants in most regional families which might be able to afford her talent.

The Prince de Charade in his capacity and duty as the Foreign Minister of Gallia has the status to make certain agreements formal with the Hertzhog which might stabilize the situation to both Frankszonian and Gallian favor again .... It is rumored that the Fahrtzen hope to use the occasion of the forthcoming fete to establish off the record contacts with him.

L. Bastille: (continuing angrily) why the treacherous little fart!
Phillipe: Treacherous to whom, m’Lord? He is not a vassal of the Gallian throne. I suspect that even a tiny contingent of Imperial regulars and some aged, notable figurehead would ally a lot of the local worries. It would be seen by others as a check on Frankszonia ambitions and by the Hertzhog as a guarantee of their status, even though Frankfurters are not notably fond of Wieners.

A sudden racket of horses and challenges arise from the foggy street.
Phillipe: Quickly, m’Lord ... slap me as hard as you can and curse me for an incompetent fool!
L. Bastille: (stricking Phillipe) Merde! You odiferous offspring of a misengenanting and rancorous mule!!!
(Loud knocking on the door): M’Lord! An urgent message from the Hertzhog!
L. Bastille: (Yanking the door open in an irritated manner) Well? What is it?
(a Frankszonia trooper enters and hands a message to L. Bastille)
Trooper: M’Lord, this message and I am urged to request that you attend instantly upon the Hertzhog, preferably with some of your staff to discuss some matters of extreme importance.
L. Bastille: He requests, eh? (snorts derisively)
Trooper: If you’ll forgive the impertinence, m’Lord, few people are as foolish as to issue orders to someone who can summon ten times their own numbers in an instant!
L’Bastille: Well, what is this matter, anyway?
Trooper: I honestly don’t know yet, m’Lord. One of the regional nobles came into the city this morning as soon as the gates opened and got the Hertzhog out of the Princess’s chambers ... since then, they’ve been sending messengers all over the place. Looks like the council and the generals are also going to be summ ... uh ... there too.
L’Bastille: Very well then, Colonel Fogliere, get our staff together ... and get this mudpile (points at Phillipe) back to work!!!

Exeunt Omnes.

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