King Xander XXIII
King Xander XXIII
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners… Joss/Mutant Enemy characters are theirs. Nikita is not mine, and comes from La Femme Nikita television show. JK Rowling is Lady of the Potterverse. I do not and cannot make money off of this, but for feedback, I might come up with something more/better.
Friday, May 28th, 1999 – 13:00 GMT
Foreign Minister John Sutherland entered the room with a look of puzzled amazement showing as he approached his King, Lord Giles, and several other advisers.
“John? Everything okay?”
“Yes, it’s just that you’ve had communicated to you responses by the Houses of Orleans, Bourbon in Spain, Bourbon-Busset, Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, Wittelsbach, Lescynski, and Poniatowski.”
“Um, houses of fashion? Construction companies?” Xander replied before nodding when Faith whispered something in his ear. “Oh, Great Houses like in Dune. So?”
“So apparently all but the Spanish King and his immediate family, have agreed to attend—citing the Family Concordat of 1870 as basis. And Henry of France sends word that as a Monarch, and one about to undergo surgery, he must decline, but begs you to visit him immediately to discuss the Concordat and your place in his line of succession.”
Even Faith didn’t know, and others frowned. John Gwynne (the ghost) smiled as he stepped forward and explained. In 1870, Prince Harry had become a successful Bonaparte General in Italy, Algeria, and elsewhere, and having his children placed through his Stuart-Bonaparte wife as a minor line of succession, managed to bring together the Carlist-Bourbons, Chambord and the Orleanists into a single place with the Bonapartes—solely based on his friendships and his family’s friendship and tacit protection whenever the French Houses had to live away from France. With the Prussian-led Germans on the move, and beginning to seem a much greater threat than expected, a meeting convened.
The agreement had been a matter of Dynasty Succession, as opposed to Dynastic Succession, and where claims would pass in spite of mutual hatred in the event of Salic Extinction. The various past claims to the French throne, and subsidiary inheritances, were wrapped up in pseudo-legalese based on the various viewpoints. But the end result was that they were considered distant family, and held mutual Unexercised Titles unless called by an Active Monarch. And with the Orleanists and Bonapartists seemingly taking turns on the Throne for the last century or so, Xander might actually be Henry’s successor once the true extent of the Glastonbury disaster can be determined, from a French perspective.
“So I have a bunch of French relatives showing up?” Xander asked. “Wow.”
“Distant ones, but definite. The end result is that the Agreement gives you further claims to Bourbon Thrones except the current Spanish. Though that is an unsettled question.”
“So why’d Spain turn me down…not that I knew I was inviting them.”
“Spain still claims our island of Gibraltar, which is part of England and thus the United Kingdom. Also, even though they suffered collateral damage from the recent events, their government isn’t entirely sure it isn’t the fault of your predecessors.”
“But they aren’t declaring war on us?”
“Not yet,” Sutherland joked. “But you can expect many to show who are not in the immediate family there, to show as at least observers.”
“Um, any of these French—and I guess German—relatives, draftable for government jobs?”
“It would be nice to find a few more helpers, Your Majesty. But as you don’t know any of them, it might be unwise.”
“So, is that all?”
“Um, Knight Bachelor Paul McCartney sent his intent to attend.”
“The Beatle guy?”
“Huh. Go on.”
“Sir John Gielgud.”
“He hopes to, with the courtesy to you, that he’ll be advocating quite strongly animal rights.”
“Okay. He means how we treat them right? Not voting?”
“No, Your Majesty. The former. And for now, those are the responses sent back directly to you, except for a hundred of your feudal armsmen from the Channel Islands.”
Xander stretched his memories, and was able to determine that Sutherland meant the Channel Islands in Europe and not the Channel Islands off the California coast he knew of growing up.
“I have actual armsmen?”
“Apparently. The Island of Sark, in fact, is one of the last feudal systems in Europe. And when you called forth everyone, the Seigneur and the forty landholding Tenants, plus I’m guessing a few young men seeking adventure, closed up the island and headed over on the ferry.”
“What do you mean, closed up the Island?”
“There are only five hundred people on Sark, Your Majesty. So when a fifth of the population shows up to put in their forty days…”
“Wow. Um, how bad will this affect them?”
“Too early to tell, but as the war would probably have cut into the tourist season anyway...”
“Um, find out how much the, um, Sarkers? Sarkese? Seriously And Really Kool subjects?” he shrugged, “owe, then pay off their debts.”
“Yeah. How many people do you know that’d risk everything on a promise made to someone hundreds of miles away, let alone a kid who shows up way later and asks ‘em to help? That’s way cool. A question, though. What can they do?”
“I don’t understand the question, Your Majesty.”
“Um, what should I have them do? Ya think we could put ‘em on security and such? Since they know each other, it’ll be harder to sneak folks by ‘em?”
Major Gwynne stood up, and handed over a list of things needing taken care of at the Tower and the Palaces Xander would be rotating between, and then a list of Armsmen with jobs, most of them multiple, of Sark.
“Oh. Thanks John.” He looked at it, then turned back to Minister Sutherland. “They here now?”
“Indeed, Your Majesty.”
“Let’s take a short break everybody,” Xander decided. “I think I just lucked out with our manpower shortage. Oh, and can someone figure out a ‘Big List of Jobs and Stuff’ like this family agreement, who I can bum money off of, that sort of thing?”
Major Gwynne with a slight smile raised his non-corporeal hand as volunteer.
Xander was surprised to find a bunch of red-tunic folks waiting quietly when he reached downstairs. They seemed a bit out of sorts, but Xander considered that uprooting yourself would do that. Looking at the top of the list, he found the name of the group leader.
“Here, Your Majesty,” a young man only a year or two older than Xander responded.
“Thank you,” he nodded to the others to include them, “for coming so quickly. I honestly didn’t expect so many, so soon. I let my secretary know he’ll find funds for all of your debts as of, well, as of now. And you’ll be paid whatever the going rate is for a Colonel” he nodded to Beaumont, “the Tenants as lieutenants, and the rest as full sergeants.”
“On the other hand, I might need you longer than forty days, so I’m hopin’ the money and paying off your debts will make it okay.”
Beaumont looked surprised. Xander smiled wanly.
“I’m just getting used to all this. But since you all know each other, between helping fix up a couple of the palaces—which you’ll be living in, too—you’ll also help with security since there probably aren’t that many in your group who don’t know each other. But you’ll mainly be back up security because of that. That sound okay?”
“You’re asking us, Your Majesty?”
“Well…yeah. You guys” and he noticed there were maybe ten women “and gals pull up stakes for this, so I figure any advice on your, um, deployment, makes sense. So if you want to talk about it…go ahead. I’ll wait over near the stairs.”
A few minutes later, Michel Carteret du Beaumont returned.
“We discussed it, and want you to know we’re already committed here. But thank you for your help—our families will really appreciate it. After a few months, it’d be nice if we can sometimes visit home and our families just to check on them.”
“Oh yeah,” Xander nodded. “Once things get going, figure out a schedule. And work it out with the regular security and staff. We’ll also see about getting you folks trained for what you’re doing.”
Half Hour Later…
“So what’s the sitch in Kosovo?”
“Well, the surprise Serb attack has at least silenced continued protests over NATO assertions regarding President Milosevich. And our forces, though outnumbered on the ground, have managed to for now repulse all enemy attack forces.”
“How many did we lose?”
“We are faring rather well, as far as these things go; only a few hundred casualties. The sheer number of refugees that became casualties is as of yet unknowable.”
“We able to hit back yet?”
“NATO forces have diverted their air-strike to softening up the way, Your Majesty. Within a few days, perhaps a week, if the Serbs do not surrender, the NATO Commander reports we’ll be fully ready to forcibly occupy.”
“Any chances of surrender?”
“Highly unlikely since their leader has been accused of Crimes Against Humanity.”
“Okay. Loads of fun, there,” Xander sighed. “Any guesses on how long it will take before we can leave it to NATO while we send our guys to Korea or the South Atlantic?”
“That specific question has not been posed.”
“Can we pose it? We have a lot of stuff to cover, and lots of NATO folks aren’t getting’ involved with those.”
Sutherland nodded, “I’ll ask.”
“Any good news?”
Sutherland smiled and nodded.
“The Americans have completed their Space Station V and as per previous agreement are ready to turnover SSIII and Project Safeguard to our primary custody.”
“What about the Russian project? There was something about an accident a year or so ago.”
“They’ve begun to recover. The Restored Motherland is estimated to become operational in late 2002. My predecessor was able to negotiate for supervised civilian power applications right after the leak from their illicit reactor became public.”
“Nukes in space? That doesn’t sound good.”
“Supervised, Your Majesty. It is still quite difficult to hide a large nuclear device in space. It will allow us with American assistance to complete the Project Safeguard exploration vessel as a manned unit within two more years.”
“Cool, and what about Discovery One and Discovery Two?”
“One or two years for the first, and three for the second. But that’ll use up the accumulated efforts by the Americans these last few years. They’ll be needing to step up into the next generation of Shuttles and Heavy Lift Vehicles. Assuming the War doesn’t set them back.”
“Wow. Why hasn’t anyone said much about ‘em? I thought they were like ten years in the future.”
“We’d already co-developed the propulsion and energy systems in case they’d be needed for emergency movements of the Space Stations; but when we couldn’t renegotiate to deploy them, we completed components here in the United Kingdom. They’re direct evolutions of the American NERVA project in the late 1960s. We kept up the research in hopes of technological breakthroughs, and to have a lead on the Soviets if THEY moved a nuclear capacity into space.”
“Why were they built here and not in America?”
“We decided to forego retiring our oldest Fleet segments for five years in favor of completed models. The research we felt should prove invaluable in the event it was decide to pursue a nuclear replacement strategy in lieu of fossil fuels. Now it is up to you to decide whether to select nuclear energy as a National Energy vector—and if not, it has at least fulfilled our hopes of permitting us to maintain a significant edge in the technologies.”
“If we don’t go nuke for ‘our’ ship how long for it to launch?”
“The expense would be significant, but” he checked his notes “five years until full readiness.”
“Um, where are the nuke engines now?”
“Oh, in orbit, Your Majesty.”
“So over our heads, already. Okay, go ahead with it.”
A brief pause lulled over the table. Xander looked around.
“Is there anything I need to sign today? I really need to take some time and read up on all this stuff you’re writing up for me.”
Sutherland and the others went through their notes, including specific directives signed by their king over the last few days. Giles noted nods, and turned to Xander.
“Sire, I suppose unless yet another emergency arises, you’ve just found yourself some time.”
Friday, May 28th, 1999 – 13:15 GMT
Xander looked around the room at those he’d called to remain: Major Gwynne, Countess Margaret de la Pole, Lord G-Man, Faith, Sir Integra, ‘M’ and Commander Bond. Giles turned from the closing doors.
“Just Xander right now, guys. I thought I’d ask the Major to research all the various claims, rights, and such to see what’s the what? Countess, I’d like you to keep checking around your usual haunts and see if you can find any ghosts we want to recruit—oh, and there’s that place Faith and I went into with Nikita. With the weird people that have something to do with magic. Maybe you can find out some more about ‘em.”
The ghosts headed off on their errands. Xander sighed.
“M, you’re busy. But before we go, I want you to know that for the next three hours or so, you’ll be in charge of things—especially keeping folks thinking the rest of us are still locked away in a super-secret meeting,” Xander smiled. He stood up and touched the panel behind which the newest Royal Property existed: the Rock that allowed him access to Avalon. “We’re going to Avalon.”
“Now?” Giles asked with some confusion. “Why?”
“James, is that pedestal over there what I asked for?” Xander responded by referring to a 3-foot cube under a cloth.
“It is, Sire.”
Xander turned back to his mentor.
“That’s most of our data crammed into one place. I’m taking it to Avalon and see if it can figure a bunch of stuff out for me—all of us, actually.”
Major Gwynne returned through a back entry, and waved at the door.
“Tell ‘em to come in, John.”
The group waited while the man identified as Jarod was shown in, and an older man named Sidney. Both carried large laptop computer bags, and both nodded in uncertainty and with Nikita behind them in a guard-like stance.
“We’re taking these two with us, and Nikita to watch ‘em in case I’m wrong about them. They’ll handle information handling once I get them set up, while the rest of us’ll look around and toss ideas around for a couple hours.”
Giles looked at the men. Then at Xander, who continued.
“They seem to check out—Reggie sicced his coven on them to check for lies and stuff. They’ve agreed to help, and work for at least a year. And they swore personal allegiance when I told them where we’re going.”
“Good Heavens…” Giles managed. “Who else knows?”
“Just those you know of, and anyone who was leaked to by those with me in Avalon.”
“Don’t worry about them for now, Giles. Let’s all have you put hands on my shoulder and on the rock. Come on…”
And they vanished to Avalon.