Jump to content

Ehestadt's Beginnings


Triyun
 Share

Recommended Posts

In the weeks following the victory in the Fourth Sino-Japanese War, the city of Vladivostok's port had become home to a significant presence of People's Liberation Army personnel. Japan's most important continental port was now the head quarters for the entire Siberian Authority. With Vladivostok in Federation hands, the orders were given to begin a withdrawal from Waypoint R to make way for the construction of the Austrian quarter of Ehestadt. Vladivostok which in time would become part of Ehestadt would have the Japanese and Russian areas left largely intact intended to become quarters of Ehestadt itself. The massive naval port would become a closed military part of the city as it had been under the Soviet Union. A Chinese quarter would be planned out as well in the far north of the Peninsula.

A plane would arrive, leaving the military victory parades of Nanjing, to Vladivostok carrying August Imperator Jia and Princess Theresia who would break ground on the construction. This time though rather than the rugged wilderness areas of Waypoint R, Vladivostok's finest government palaces would be where they would stay. The Vladivostok itself had suffered little damage except for the port and a few outlying air defenses as the Federation had been in a position to capture it without needing to significantly degrade its capabilities making it one of the less smoldering craters in the former Japanese Empire.

Jia looked out the window as the plane came to a halt after landing. The ease at which the Empire of Japan fell had left him a bit disappointed, China's historic rival had been defeated by predecessors only after a long campaign. He had one in less than two days. Militarily a great triumph, but from a grand historic perspective it would make for much worse epic biographies that those of previous conquerors. He turned to Theresia.

"Time to play the conquering heroes." he said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Theresia had not been privy to the planning situation of the Forth Sino-Japanese War, she sat simply on the side, watching from the Imperial Residence as Chinese and Allied soldiers began their campaign against the island nation. From there, the Princess had sent as many correspondences as she could to her sister in Vienna and in Boise, telling them of the developing situation and asking, politically what Austria's role would be. She had been told, by Maria, to simply stay put and not to involve herself in the aggressive politics of East Asia. Theresia of course had desired something greater, to perhaps accompany Jia to the front, to see the Chinese and Allied legions assault the beaches of Japan and to see the country for herself. The Princess had traveled all over Asia, but Japan had eluded her travels, now, she thought, it would be the perfect chance to see the country through the eyes of those going to war.

It was rather disappointing then when only after two days the Japanese Empress surrendered and committed ritual suicide, which made Theresia gasp when she heard the news. Behavior was different here, in the East, honor was preserved through death at whatever the cost, even if one doesn't actually fight. She found that odd, but never mentioned it beyond her mind for fear of disrespecting Asian traditions. However, now with the war over and with little life lost, she and Jia could begin the greater project at hand. To create a shimmering jewel for the entire Pacific Rim to see. Ehestadt, as it would be called, the 'City of Marriage' would be the culmination of the friendship between the Austrian Princess and August Emperor. A city that brought together China, Russia, Austria, and other countries in the region, a military base and a cultural capital, all in one.

When the plane landed and Theresia looked out the window, she glanced at the piece of paper in her hand. A letter had arrived that day from Boise, Angelika rambling about her dire situation with the Kaskandenlander Rebels, but even then had given Therese hope in the words of:

"If that son-of-a-!@#$%* doesn't propose to you in your own City of Marriage, I will personally come over there and do it for him. Men..."

Theresia smiled and tucked the paper into her corset pocket as she turned over to Jia.

"Well you're playing the conquering hero, I don't really consider myself a heroine of the Forth Sino-Japanese War. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the honor, but I think it would be better bestowed on the Australians, Buryatians or Dalmatians than myself. However," she said taking his hand. "I'd gladly play heroine here so that we give the people something to talk about and just think, in years to come, this will be the Triumphal Arch of that war. The marriage of Asia to Stability. What do you think?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"What are you talking about? I told them you were Australian-Dalmatian of Russian descent. You know white people all look the same." he said. "But really people love taking pictures of young blonde princesses, even in Asia. So I'm counting on you making me look good with the Japanese."

The idea of a head of state visiting a war torn city from the other side so recently after the conflict was something which raised more than one eyebrow in Beijing. Jia insisted though. In his mind it was time to press for bringing the Japanese into the fold and consolidate his vision of Asia. Nevertheless he agreed to added security and not to take an open limousine into the city.

As they made their way onto the motorcade the limousine was surrounded by several military vehicles, they would be part of a military parade that would stretch to the center of city and the imperial residence in the city.

"They say they'll let us out of the mobile bunker for a bit near city center." Jia said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Theresia sighed loudly and obnoxiously as she got into the limousine with Jia. "That's all I am, the young blonde Princess for you to lug around from Beijing to Vladivostok. Well maybe I should just dye my hair and smoke a ton so my wrinkles can be better defined. Honestly, making you look good, you know you're loosing out on so much potential." She said and whisked her hair back. "But don't bother trying to guess or figure out what that potential is, because you aren't going to find out now. Nope, definitely not now."

As the motorcade began, the Princess' faux anger quickly vanished, substituted to one of curiosity in looking at the faces lined down the avenue. These would technically be her people, many of them might relocate to Ehestadt once construction had finished and the looks of uncertainty and fear in their eyes made Theresia's heart ache. It was true, the Japanese Regime by the Empress probably hadn't taken care of many of these defeated citizens, some Russian, some Japanese, among others and of all the regions of the world, the Pacific Rim near Vladivostok was some of the most interesting material the Princess had ever come across. Over the years this region had been the scene of various empires and many of the empires had imposed their cultural and ethnic will on the region. Japanization had taken its toll on the region and it was something that Theresia hoped she could cure. The Hapsburg "Touch" was well known though the world, it was a gift of tolerance, of progress, of equality. If she could do that to the beleaguered people of the Asian north, then it would only serve to spread Austria's influence and compassion to the rest of the world.

Approaching the city center, Theresia sighed in relief. "Good, my legs need stretching. Also, Jia, I think we have a lot of work to do. I know the war was going to happen no matter what, but maybe it was needed more than I thought."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jia slightly grinned at Theresia's rant his eyes though looking at the rear view mirror to see the driver probably not get that she was joking, letting out a short burst of laughter. Vladivostok had gone through hard times in the past, but it was astounding that the Japanese had allowed the city to decline to this extent. His reaction was not one of particular surprise, he was still of the generations who heard stories of Taiwanese who had to relearn their native tongue, and northern chinese school students made to worship the Japanese Emperor. Still, it did annoy him, another reminder of the threat which a return of Japanese hegemonism posed.

"I agree." Jia said sighing. "We've been neglecting our neighbors." he commented. "I've got faith together we can show them a better path." As they pulled into the square before the government compound, military forces had created a safety perimeter which they had deemed relatively secure. A man entered into the limo. "Imperator, your highness, we are ready for you to get out for the final part of the parade."

Outside many of the younger Japanese seemed at least interested, many of the older ones though had the expressions of silent grimness which characterized the Japanese attitude towards hardship. Many of them reminded Jia of pictures of Chinese from the mid late 20th Century with coal dust over their skin and thick but worn coats, evidence of a nation in a long stagnation.

Jia straightened himself saluting a line of PLA troops in their class As acting as the couple's honor guard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stepping out of the limousine Theresia was immediately flanked by the straight-faced Honor Guard, keeping her literally pinned between the Imperator and the columns of marching soldiers towards the central compound. She moved towards the far side of the column, allowing some room to come between the Guard and the crowd that ran the length of the sidewalks. Men, women, and their children looked forward, some hopeful, some apprehensive, and Theresia could tell the different walks of life that many of them had come from. There were dark-haired and light skinned Japanese, others had lighter hair and near pale skin, these were those few Russian decedents left in the city. Some were Chinese, others were Korean, perhaps others were of a country not even near to the region who had ended up in Vladivostok by some strange chance, but all of the people looked needy.

Her hand reached out to one of the Japanese children and the young girl's face and dark wooden eyes lit up in anxiety and fear at the Austrian's gaze. Theresia smiled and paused, unable to speak the language or even come up with an appropriate gesture to simply say, everything is going to be okay. She stood there, holding the young girl's hand tightly, smiling, and trying hard not to cry before finally one of the Honor Guards bumped into the Princess and asked her to continue the procession. Theresia held on for a second longer and bowed her head low to the young girl and then made contact with a million other eyes that turned to her. Blue, green, gray, hazel, onyx, all at once and the Princess felt almost overwhelmed as she fell back into the procession and ran up back along side Jia, always looking back at the sides of the avenue and the faces scattered along.

"So what is it that we've come here to do? Aside from of course begin construction of Ehestadt."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jia's eye never quite left Theresia while she displayed a sympathetic and common touch with the children of the city. An approving smile came to his face for a second before quickly vanishing with a return to the stoicism demanded of a supreme leader of East Asia. Still... maybe she would be able to be accepted by the people. Now wasn't the time to think about it he told himself realizing the pace of his march was falling.

As Theresia caught up to Jia he heard her question, "Get people used to the new order." Jia replied. "It sounds odd. But Vladivostok has been under Japanese rule for a long time, and particularly considering the policies of some of the Japanese, we need to begin transforming their identities, as the two most visible faces of the new order in Asia we have to start developing a cult of personality here." He explained. "Tour some factories, eat some street food, you take a few pictures caring for a cute little orphan... you know the bull !@#$ of governing." he said as they entered the grounds of the government compound.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I see," said the Princess as she walked along side the Imperator into the compound. "Though, Jia, if I may and correct me if I'm wrong, but these people have been under some of the most deplorable policies that governments can enact. Japanization, mental and ethnic cleansing both, I would hope that the Federation wouldn't be in line to repeat the same mistakes of the past."

She sighed taking a deep breath. "I don't mean to involve myself in the actual politics of the Federation and I know that the objective of every leader is to create a stable environment, whatever the cost. However, if I may, as this is our city, I am under the impression that with some forward thinking, with a progressive academic foundation, with education in the arts, mathematics, and the very distinct and diverse cultures of the region we can make amends for the failures and racism of previous regimes. If the Federation is already one of the proclaimed, leaders of the world, it should be our duty to inspire modernity and tolerance.

Because when you say transforming their identities, I don't want them to forget who they are, I want them to remember who they were, who their parents and grandparents were. Not which regime lorded over them last. As to the other things," Theresia smiled, "I'm a pro."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"No I know and I do value your advise... a lot. But you have to remember identities can't always be compatible with one another, fanatical devotion to a godly Emperor or Empress who commands the forging of a great racial empire for national glory isn't compatible with living with the rest of Asia. That identity will be wiped. I am not interested in destroying Japanese art, poetry, or their language, I rather like much of it. I think we should preserve it. We've got to cut out the poison parts just like the Americans did after World War II. Japan was at peace with the rest of Asia for half a century after that. In the half century before that they though fought five wars against China or on Chinese soil against foreign imperialists.

I want you to teach them art, music, open schools, do everything you said. You will have my support in all of it, I have to look out for the rest of the region though, and to do that the threat of Japanese ultra nationalist identity politics also needs to be removed. We Asians tend to be a more... societal focused people rather than individual focused Europeans. Even when given democracy we tend to keep the same party in power, look at how long the liberal democrats stayed in power in Japan. People look for authority figures, we need to give them ones that are a good example because so often ones in Japan's past have lead them to war and disaster is what I'm saying."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Well education is the future, hopefully though this will serve as the first step in this world for cultural progress. At least to show critics of both the Federation and of Austria that our regimes only mean the best for the people we rule. I know from my letters with Maria, she wants the same thing for Europe. Angelika wanted it for the Pacific Northwest, but it would appear that the last vestiges of German Ultra-Nationalism haven't been fully squashed. All thing I hope Ehestadt can correct."

She stopped for a moment and looked behind her as the view of Vladivostok began to fade because of her height. "All that's left is to hit the ground running. When does construction for the city actually begin, because if possible, I'd like to remain here in the North for a few days as the first foundations are laid. To see it rise from the ground up. To design the city just the way I see fit."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jia frowned, "Yes, I'm sorry, I've seen the reports from North America, let me know if there is anything I can do to keep Angelika safe. Unfortunately one of Alaska fell into instability at near the same time. The North American forces are occupied there... And Ehestadt will be... the way you handled the people out there, you have a special touch. You're going to make a great leader."

"After we're done here, we're formally breaking ground at the new government building in the Waypoint R section." he said. "We can head over there now if your ready."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"No, it shouldn't be necessary. By all accounts, Angelika seems well and the Civil War should be concluded in a few more months, I'll be sure to let you know if anything else comes up that needs our attention. Though she's tough, if something bad does happen, I trust Angelika has the courage to get through it unscathed." Theresia reached down and took Jia's hand and smiled. "But enough talk about negative things, they're expecting us at the Waypoint, it would be improper of us to keep the public waiting."

From the compound in Vladivostok it was a short drive to where the Federation public and elites were gathered at the Waypoint. Below the ridges, Theresia could hear the calmness of the Pacific Ocean, the gentle lapping of waves against the sides of the cliffs and the sandy beaches and the screeches of birds and other animals in the sky and brush. The day was bright and there were few clouds in the sky, letting the warm sun soak the ground after the rainfall of yesterday and stepping out of the Humvee which had brought Jia and Theresia, there was still the scent of rain and mist in the air. Once her feet had hit the ground, the cameras began and a series of obnoxious flashes poured into the young Austrian's eyes. She was supposed to look good and she knew that every picture snapped was a moment for her to be judged by the Japanese, Chinese, and Russian people. A white, blonde, European? It would surely stink of colonialism. What's more, she was the lead architect of a new city to be built on the coast, just as the Europeans had done centuries ago.

Theresia kept her eyes forward and her smile wide as the Honor Guard led her and Jia up to a central podium where a golden shovel had been placed. The shovel that would pierce the first piece of Earth for Ehestadt's birth. If the city was going to be as magnificent as she dreamed it to be, it would have to be a truly multi-cultural site. The Jewel of the Pacific wasn't enough anymore. This would have to be, in the words of the English Clergyman, John Winthrop, a City on a Hill, watched by the world.

Jia had, in utter surprise and kindness to the young Princess, offered her the chance to be the first to speak and explain to the gathered crowd the objective of the construction of Ehestadt. She had requested that multiple flags be brought to the ceremony, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Buryatian, along with others which included Austria's banner. Together it was a brilliant display of color with a great deal of red and when Theresia finally made it up to the podium and tapped on the microphone, the red glow of the setting sun gave way to setting the fields aflame.

"It would appear that even Mother Nature wishes to sport her color amongst our banners." The Princess began in Chinese, though interpreters around would handle the other languages. "It is also a metaphoric stance and one that I approve of, perhaps pessimists might say that giving the opening speech for a city's birth during the setting sun is rather counter-productive. I beg to differ. Over the past few months and really, over the past few decades, Asia has been a center of prosperity, of visions, and of strength and there are times I wish that the communal nature that Asia shares at times could be transplanted to Europe. I assure you all, there are things that Asia can teach Europe, just as I am sure there are things that Europe can teach the Asian community.

Which is what this city will come to represent.

The region of Greater Vladivostok, if I may refer to it as such has been a troubled region. Many blood thirsty regimes have come through these tracts of land and attempted to re-write the very history and culture of the people living here. I would wager that there are those who are still confused as to who their parents are, where did their family go, and others. Many might talk in absolutes saying such things are false, others might say that the crimes committed in the past can never be forgotten. Again, I beg to differ. War and bloodshed is cause by a lack of cooperation between peoples, a lack of responsibility of governments and it was this lack that plunged the Japanese regime to the chaos that it has been freed of by the Federation. With that regime removed people can return to their lives and it is the duty of the Federation and future regimes in this region to make the land and the people living here, successful and prosperous.

That is what Ehestadt will become, a gateway to prosperity, to learning, and to greater world cooperation. It will be a 'City of Marriage' the physical representation of the cultures of this region and across the world coming together for one goal. The need for education, for the inspiration of passion and pride for one's cultural art, music, language, and science, but without the competitiveness that breeds warfare and degradation. From these hills we shall see the rise of schools for children of all walks of life, universities for the gifted, conservatories for the musically talented, galleries featuring art from across the world, museums holding the very pages of our histories, and all physical testimony of man's ability to cultivate his creative and scientific mind.

It will be a long process, one perhaps I will not get to see completed, but then, this process should never be completed. The strive for creative mastery is never complete, it is always on going as is the strive for knowledge. But no matter how long this process takes, it must first begin."

She turned and picked up the shovel and with a great lunge forced the head into the ground and removed the first peace of dirt from the Earth. "It is up to us to show our children the path, so that humanity will exist until the end of time. This, ladies and gentlemen, will be one of those steps."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jia was to his surprise one of the last to stand up and applaud, it was hard for him to believe it was from the same person who had been caught in the middle of the Beijing Riots. Most of the rest of the Chinese delegation were visibly surprised by the Austrian princess. Many of them seemed to genuinely approve, rather than applaud because the Imperator did.

As he past Theresia on the stage to deliver his own remarks he whispered in her ear. "Well now my remarks are going to look silly." he said jokingly.

The Imperator came to the stage. "Heh, well believe it or not for a politician I am left speechless." he said with a bit of a grin on his face. Some laughter came from the audience. "Except to say this..." he continued on. "There are few times it seems when we can truly celebrate creation. In the past years, we have seen nuclear catastrophes, we have seen wars, we have seen plagues. But rarely do we see something completely new. Ehestadt is something unique. Born out of a tragic history, it is a city in which Europe and Asia together stand not in a relationship with one lording over the other, not in conflict, but in Harmony.

The person who created this vision was Princess Maria Theresia of Austria. Over the past several months Theresia has been a great ambassador between East and West. A bridge between our two worlds. For this and for many reasons, I have come to love her very deeply." Jia then turned to her, "Theresia will you do me the honor in this the city of marriage to take my hand in marriage, and join our two nations together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Theresia had been smiling during Jia's short speech, nodding her head in agreement with his applause to her speech, her vision, and her time in China. Yet, it was only when the entire crowd of Chinese elites, press, and other members of the audience went silent and their eyes turned to the Princess. Then in the silence she realized just what had been asked of her and nearly jumped in surprise.

"Oh. My God," she said holding her heart as the tears began to well up in her eyes. "I...I...don't know what else to say other than, yes." At that the floodgates broke forth and the Princess embraced the Imperator tightly, kissing him, and crying as she did so. The camera flashes went off in a flurry of chaos and lights. An image that was surely to be on every Federation newspaper from Hue to Vladivostok and most likely every Austrian newspaper as well.

For the first time in history, Asia and Europe would be joined together in an alliance of marriage, not forced, not decided at the point of a gun, but by the chance of love and appreciation. Theresia had brought the Hapsburg Dominion of Enlightenment Europe to the far Pacific Ocean and in turn had brought the Celestial Kingdom of China to blossom over the city of Vienna. It would truly be a match made under heavenly stars and Ehestadt would be its symbol.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Returning the kiss, Jia smiled pulling out a golden ring which had a very large diamond on it slipping it on Theresia's finger. He had an uncharacteristic wide boyish grin on his face, letting his normally well honed public guard down. "So I guess I surprised you." he said in his typical light-hearted fashion. Jia was sure that there would be some disapproval when he got back to China, but after his smashing victory over China's historic regional rival and Theresia's magnificent performance here he was confident the public would accept her, maybe even embrace her. It was time for him to gamble a bit and choose be happy.

The Chinese officials in the crowd mostly had approving smiles on their faces. A couple were themselves completely dumbfounded. One in particular though had a mix of anger and twisted glee. Chief Executive Officer of Chongqing Engineering and Development Corporation, Chen Kan, watched from the back of the crowd. Chen was applauded with the rest of the group but in the back of his mind a thought formed, [i]Jia, you're growing too arrogant. Giving us an opening. I'll look forward to burying you along with your big nosed !@#$%*.[/i] he thought to himself.

OOC: Big nosed is a term commonly used to refer to white people in mandarin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...