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The Night Will Always Win


Markus Wilding
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The rain was heavy in Vienna. A storm was paused over the city, throwing down rain and lightning all across it,.Wilding stepped out of the Schönbrunn Palace, an aide opening an umbrelle above his head as Wilding lit a cigarette. Once he took a satisfying puff, he checked his watch. Damn, it was 11:24 PM already. He was supposed to meet Erika at 9. Sighing, Wilding walked with the aide to the awaiting car, which took him back to his personal home, the Hofburg Palace. He felt it fitting that the man who brought Austria, and Alvonia as a whole, back to world relevance should have a residence to match that stature. As the car twisted and turned through Vienna's many streets, Wilding contemplated back when the nation was first organized. He and Karoline Dressler knew much had to be done, as entire portions of Vienna, Prague, and Brno were either damaged or outright destroyed. That didn't even cover the outlying towns and villages that had been annihilated in the rioting and looting that was widespread after the Great Collapse. Years had been spent rebuilding, further complicated by unscrupulous contractors and currency that was worthless one day, then valuable as diamonds the next. It was a wonder anything was done at all.

 

These thoughts were stopped as Wilding arrived at the palace. He could see a light on the fourth floor of the Neue Burg Wing - Erika's favorite. The light was unusual - most parts of the palace were dark, excluding the front entrance hall of course. Wilding got out of the car as an aide rushed to keep him dry amid the pouring rain, although Wilding felt some water hit his collar.

 

Wilding gingerly opened the door to Wilding and Erika's shared bedroom. He found her reading, normal if it were perhaps 10, but not at midnight. "Where were you?" she asked, not taking her eyes off her book. "Late night," Wilding replied, loosening his tie. "I had to think about some things." Unimpressed, Erika put her book away on the nightstand. Before turning away, Wilding noticed it was a book on early Japanese history. "Planning a trip to Japan?" Erika chuckled and took Wilding's jacket off for him. "No," she said, "I just want to learn more about the country. Might be useful if we have to visit there for some diplomatic meeting or formal event." Wilding smiled slightly, now heading for the bed. He knew Erika had questions about what he meant by "thinking about some things", but an agreement had been made between them - he doesn't talk about work, and she doesn't ask more than she can read in the papers. So far, it had worked out for them.

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The next day came, and with that came another eight hours filled with meetings with various military and government officials, intelligence reports, foreign ministry responses, and updates from the Reichstag. Wilding had good mind to just dissolve the Reichstag and just turn the building into a museum, although when bouncing that idea off of Dressler, she usually said that it would lead to problems. The people enjoyed having the sense that the people appointed to governorship actually fought for them in the Reichstag, even if that governor wasn't popular or didn't mesh with local sentiments. It was always the thought that counted.

 

For that reason, Wilding called Dressler into his office first thing that morning, and although he knew she had other meetings to attend, he took prominence over everything else. Dressler entered the office at around 9:40 AM, visibly annoyed. "I had to cancel a meeting with General Raeder to come here, you know." Wilding grinned slightly, but did stand and shake Dressler's hand as she came to his desk. Sitting down now, Wilding began, "We need to reform the ministry." This statement alone caused Dressler to pause. "Reform? How so?" "Certain ministries have become complacent...we need fresh blood. New perspectives." Dressler smiled and jokingly asked if that included her position. "No," Wilding replied. "I can't replace my right-hand woman." Dressler chuckled. "I'm your right hand now? What does that make Erika? Your left hand?" Wilding also laughed a little, although she wasn't exactly wrong. "Alright, alright, we can talk about our spouses at the next state dinner. Until then, find suitable candidates. I want to interview each of them personally." Dressler stood up, preparing to exit. "As you wish, Director." With that, Dressler was dismissed and she left, leaving Wilding alone with his thoughts.

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After a few hours spent both reviewing candidates and reading through performance reports, Wilding had determined 4 ministers would be replaced in the upcoming reformation. While Minister of the Interior Claudia Schröder had done an adequate job, it was the failings of her ministry that did not catch immediately the false intelligence leading up to Operation Fly Boy Blue. Her and her staff should have immediately figured out that the three suspected Wehrmacht soldiers were not in Hawaii, but instead resided in Alvonia itself. Next up was Minister of Security Wiktor Pakulski. Much like the Interior ministry, Pakulski and his staff should have figured out much sooner the truth before military forces had been sent to Hawaii. Finishing the intelligence pack was the Minister of Intelligence herself Zdislava Slezak. Her failure to clean up the intelligence communities in Alvonia quickly was the most important factor in her dismissal. Rounding out the pack was Chief of Staff Vlastimila Vlasák. The Wehrmacht was full of competent commanders, but Vlasák was proven to not be one of them. Her plans for invasions, notable Operation Fly Boy Blue, left Alvonia in a vulnerable state, something that Wilding could not tolerate. An entire list full of candidates sat in front of him now, and many of them would be arriving soon.

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