Ok, I'm continuing now... BTW, don't worry, I'll keep it clean Oh, and I'm posting the map in the discussion thread. Now, on with the story!
"....and so, the horticulturists at Penn State have finally
managed to figure out how to get a Banana crop in this area. Granted, due to having to use a rather rare type of banana and start them in cold frames means that instead of being once-a-year luxury fruits, they'll now be merely once-every-two months luxury fruits," the Governor said to Liz as he picked one of the aforementioned bananas from a fruit tray.
"That's fascinating!" Liz replied, "Still, I must say, having tried them, I actually like the Paw Paws better..."
She was interrupted by the Governor's Butler coming up, bowing and saying, "Your excellency, a certain other party you've been expecting has arrived."
"Splendid, Alfred! Show them in," the Governor exclaimed. As Alfred departed to usher Special Agent Tom Hess and his party in, Governor Herndon tapped a spoon against his glass to get everyone's attention and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry for the interruption, but it is nearly time to get down to business... I had some other 'guests' en route and they have just arrived, so I want everyone to introduce themselves to the newcomers."
All eyes at the table turned to the main entrance as a Freischteet Special Agent followed by a raggety-looking man a scroungy-looking boy, a ragged-looking girl and a Nazi soldier stepped into the room. Before anyone could say anything else, the raggety man caught a glimpse of Will and said, "Welch! What are YOU doing here?!"
Governor Herndon turned to Special Agent Welch and asked, "Special Agent Welch, do you know this fine fellow?"
"Yes, your excellency," Will replied, "As you know, my cover for the longest time was as an independent trader, and him and I partnered up quite a few times on the road... He's a good, honest man and I'll be more than happy to vouch for him... I don't recall him traveling with any kids or Nazi deserters, though."
The Governor nodded and said, "Excellent, this might make things even better!"
Erik, who was still a little befuddled with the whirlwind of events that had happened over the past few days said, "Wait a minute, how can you tell that I'm a deserter? I hadn't even SAID anything yet?"
"Well," Welch replied, "It's called 'simple deductive logic': You see, if you were an field agent, you'd have changed into something more apropriate for visiting the Governor, and if you were a bona-fide Nazi, then you wouldn't even be
here in the first place, so what that leaves is you being a deserter. Q.E.D."
Erik nodded and said, "You're right: I am a deserter, but mainly because I finally realized ze trus about ze Nazi regime, or at least its hardcore fanatics... Dose guys can barely even be called human
now, und I'm sick of ze racism und savagery. I refuse
to further dishonor ze von Blücher family anymore by associating vis zem!"
"Ha!" the Governor shouted, "Is this the same von Blücher family as the one of General Gebhart Leberecht von Blücher?!"
"Yes it is," Erik replied, "not too many people know that."
"Ah, well, my friend," Governor Herndon grinned, "the reason I know is because your ancestor served one of my ancestors... You see, as I've already told my earlier guests, my family name, before my great-grandfather changed it around the time of WWI, was von Hohenzollern! It must have been divine providence that led you here tonight."
Erik and McCoy gaped, but then looking closer at the Governor's face, they realized that, if the governor would grow a handlebar mustache and put on a Prussian military uniform, he'd pretty much be a dead ringer for Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Governor waved his hand and said, "Please be seated, and I'll let everyone introduce themselves... You too, Special Agent Hess; this meeting involves your area of operations."
Once everyone had introduced themselves, Governor Herndon said, "Now, let's get down to business... I know that Agent Hess took the time to feed Gefreiter von Blucher, Mistress Sophie, Master Dietrich and Mr. McCoy, so they should be good for now, and I must say that was very generous of you Agent Hess."
"Not really, your excellency," Hess replied, "I put the tab on my expense voucher."
"Right, as I was saying," The Governor smirked, "It's time we got down to business.... Needless to say, the fact that the Robertsons were able to wipe out the Randalls was a significant development in the local geo-political climate, but it wouldn't have the urgency it did, were it not for other larger developments occurring at the same time. First of all, who here is familiar with what is going on in the larger world?"
"Well, I heard on K-Rock, VOA and other pirate stations that the Russians have been kicking the Nazi's tails up between their ears," James replied.
"Yes, und I haff alzo heard rumors zat ze Restorationists, or 'Crown Loyalists' as zey like to call zemselves haff been gaining ground in der Vaterland," Erik chimed in.
"Well, even though it's probably above both my pay grade AND secret security clearance, I've heard some hints and rumors that we've got something big going down at Rabenstein, er, Raven Rock," Ryan commented.
The governor smiled and said, "Well, you're all partially right, but yes, things ARE coming to a head..." Governor Herndon raised the index finger on his right hand, "First of all, the Russians are, indeed making a comeback, proving that the 'almighty invincible Wehrmacht' isn't so invincible after all... This, hopefully will encourage other oppressed peoples, such as the French and British to follow their lead." The middle finger came up to join the index finger, "Secondly, thanks to the high number of casualties in Russia, domestic unrest IS on the rise inside Germany, no matter WHAT Hitler and his propaganda goons say otherwise... As a matter of fact, the Freischteet has had agents inside Germany for YEARS now, who are in contact with various Crown Loyalsit cells... Even though I'm NOT the closest in line for succession, I am, more or less, the von Hohenzollern representative for America, and I've been coordinating with the Crown Loyalists so that when the time is ripe, we'll be able to work simultaneously to overthrow the usurper and restore the RIGHTFUL Kaiser of Germany to the throne, only THIS time, we'll do it right! Namely, a PROPER constitutional Monarchy, like Great Britain, not that ramshackle mess that my great-great grandfather's brother came up with!"
He paused as the guests broke into applause at that statement... Never mind the fact that most of them weren't particularly loyal to the Hohenzollern dynasty, one thing they could all agree on was the fact that Hitler had to go! As soon as the applause died down, Herndon raised his ring finger and said, "Thirdly... Thirdly, several long-term research & construction projects are either complete or nearing completion. Lautenslager mentioned Raven Rock, but who here knows what Raven Rock's original purpose was, besides any Freischteet personnel?"
Gunner cleared his throat, "I was a member of the Rebellion Marines and I heard rumors about it... It was also known as 'the Long Tunnel' or, more to the point, 'Little Pentagon'... It supposedly houses copies of every single secret and top secret document and computer file in the US government, and was built a mile underground so that it could survive a direct nuclear strike."
Governor Herndon nodded, "You're quite correct, and it just so happens to be hidden near a small army base in our core territory, and, as you said, it does, in fact house EVERY secret government document: The keys to the ENIGMA codes, data from the Manhattan project, plans leaked from German Nuclear research projects and top secret rocket designs."
He paused to let that sink in before continuing, "It even had the only surviving copy of the location of 'Trinity'." There were several gasps when he said that.
"You're telling me you've managed to find the fabled AMERICAN nuke?" Gunner asked, incredulous, "I thought it was just something the government propaganda types made up to keep the people's hopes up!"
"Oh, rest assured, Mr. Patterson," Governor Herndon smiled slyly, "not only is it real, but we are mere months from getting it operational! The best part is, even as impressive as THAT is, it's merely a failsafe for our MAIN attraction.... You ever hear of a Sanger Silbervogel?"
Nearly everyone in the room snarled at the mention of Germany's manned, orbital nuclear bombers, orbital bombers which delivered the nukes that wiped New Jersey, Philadelphia and DC off the map. The Governor raised his hand and said, "We have THREE of them, built in secret over the past 40 years, based on copies of stolen plans found at Raven Rock as well as improvements/input from the Penn State Engineering department. Unlike the originals, ours are vertically launched, and kept in well-camouflaged silos in widely separated locations in our territory. Furthermore, as you well know, having three orbital bombers is pretty pointless unless you have bombs to go with them... Well, our physicists have figured out that if you drop a bundle of six, half-ton tungsten rods from orbit, you'll get the same effect on a city as if you hit it with a large nuke, but minus the fallout." The Governor grins evilly at the last comment, but then his face drops and he says, "The only problem is that even though we've tested every individual component of the Silbervogels, and even done wind-tunnel tests on scale-models of both the orbiter and the completed launch vehicle, we haven't been able to do any actual flight tests of the actual vehicle, for obvious reasons. Additionally, Tungsten has been somewhat hard to come by in quantities we need, but we've been able to substitute depleted uranium, thanks to cleaning up all the fallout that we've been doing over the years."
"Fourthly and finally," he said as his pinky came up to join the other three fingers, "We're not alone here... We've managed to find a few allies who we can trust, including at least one of the West Virginia Clans and most importantly, Pittsburgh... Yes, I know, they're Mafia, or should I say, 'respectable businessmen looking out for the good of the community', but they're honorable in their own way, and they will be essential for when we finally deal with the outlaw gangs that infest Fulton, Bedford, Juniata, Mifflin, Blair, Huntington and Perry Counties... ESPECIALLY Perry County! The blasted 'Hole in the Wall Gang' is even so bold as to attack fortified outposts along the border of Cumberland County and THEN raid the area after they've broke through! ...Although even they aren't stupid enough to come anywhere near Mechanicsburg or the War College!" Most of the people seated at the table cringed at the mention of the infamous "Perry County Prowlers" or Hole in the Wall Gang, the most ruthless and gutsy gang of outlaws in the entire state.
He then looks around the table, seeing rapt attention on every face, and says, "The reason I'm telling you all of this is because, to quote a certain popular underground movie (especially so in Pittsburgh for some reason)," Governor Herndon's voice takes on a wheezy Italian accent, "I'm about to make you an offer you can't refuse: I want New Jersey cleaned up and the tribes neutralized... Preferably through diplomatic means, but by force if you have to. In return, I'm going to help Mr. James Robertson here get rid of that no-good psycho Nazi Harry, and I'll even go further: You guys have resources in Schuylkill, or rather, Spruce county, particularly Coal and Natural Gas, but thanks to the current state of things, not much is getting done with them... We can help develop those resources and improve your transportation and communications infrastructure, and we'll even be extra nice and give your family 51% of the stock in any company based out of Spruce County."
He then looks at McCoy and says, "You're from New Jersey, think about it: Wouldn't it be nice to put an end to the constant threat of raids by gangs of savage raiders or attacks by hideously mutated animals? If you help reclaim your home, we'll do just that: Remove the contaminated soil and replace it with clean soil dredged from the Susquehanna, just like we did with Chester County and most of Cecil County, Maryland. Again, we'll rebuild your infrastructure and invest in resource development."
His eyes took one final sweep of the room and he said, "I realize it's late, and I've just dropped a lot on you, but I will say this: if you refuse, you'll just have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and you'll be set up with an ID and citizenship in the Freischteet, for those of you who are from the outside, or just go back to your previous duties for those who are already citizens and work for the Freischteet... However, I'm a fair and honorable man, so I'll let you get a good night's sleep before you have to make a decision. I've prepared the guest wing for you all, so good night, sleep tight, and let me know what your decision is by tomorrow afternoon."
With that, everyone stood, said their good nights and followed Alfred to the guest wing of the Governor's Mansion and settled down as best as they could.