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Lines are Being Drawn


Teriethien
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Office of Alain Mamère

Bourdeaux, Aquitaine

France

A soft knock.

"Come in," Alain called, keeping his head down for several more moments to finish the reading the explanation attached to an aircraft carrier blueprint. Trying to understand what's what was giving him a bad headache; the design is still preliminary but already a myriad of complex symbols lines completely beyond his understanding. Well, as long as the experts all agree, he thought, and approved the proposal. The French navy is going to be a world class power again. Finally finished, he looked up to see Lorelei Shimadu standing in front of him with a faint hint of a smile. This one doesn't slip in unnoticed.

"Work giving you a headache?" Came the sweet voice. Alain grunted some sort of agreement, rubbing his temples. "I guess I must be trying to kill you then," Lorelei smiled apologetically and held up an entire stack of documents.

"Whoa, what the hell is all this?"

"Plans to modernise the autoroutes and the routes nationales."

"...And whose brilliant idea was this?" Alain said, visibly sulking now.

"Mine," Lorelei replied with an angelic smile. "I know you are thinking that we don't need this, but we do. Very soon the rest of the country will be joined with us, and we can't continue with every region acting like independent principalities. We need a robust road networks to start integrating France into a single nation again, not to mention supporting all the industrial development you wanted and transport of goods. Unfortunately, the old networks haven't been maintained for a long time. This will make them usable again."

"Is it expensive?"

"No, most of the costs could be shouldered by the private sector. And besides we will be working on the roads of only what we actually control first anyway." She gave her documents a good pat. "My team had 3 different funding schemes analysed, along with predicted benefits to the economy and so on. Promise me you'll look into it?"

Alain sighed, exasperated. "Fine, I will. And here I was thinking that you were here to watch the satellite launch with me. Silly me." He picked up the reports and flipped through a couple of pages. "I read and I approve, happy now?"

"Aww, thank you. You going to the watch the launch now?"

"Uh huh. I'm told that the system's going to be fully operational soon."

"Well, yes, of course, haven't you been counting? This is the fifth satellite... You know, the last one scheduled to be launched?" Lorelei smiled again at Alain's look of thoughtful realisation, and turned to leave. "Anyway, I've got more work to get back to now, you go enjoy the show."

Turnback.jpg

"Lorelei, hold up for a second. Almost forgot to tell you, you've got a place to catch." Lorelei's head snapped back in surprise. A look of puzzled uncertainty came over her face. Alain gave himself a mental pat on the back. "The Bavarians are going to expect you at Munich, and then its the Welsh at their palace thing place. Treaties and stuff."

"Wait, wait, that's got to be a mistake. I'm not a diplomat," she protested.

"Sweetie. We're not exactly overstaffed in the foreign affairs department right now." Alain finished his now-cold coffee and stood up, reaching for his coat. As a matter of fact the entire foreign ministry consists simply of Minister Cheysson. "Trust me, you'll do just fine. And don't complain, I have to run around meeting navy chaps."

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Île de Ré Naval Shipyards

La Rochelle, Poitou-Charentes

France

The workers buzzed about the ship like ants prowling over a fallen animal, drilling deep at the body from all sides. But instead of disseminating the body into food, they were slowly but unceasingly fashioning bland materials into a fearsome weapon of wall. Tonne after tonne of steel were scurried to the structure, where a thousand welding torch sparks patch the hull up like tiny surgeons working on a titan.

ship.jpg

"This must be Jeanne d'Arc," Alain Mamère muttered, almost stupefied. Work on the aircraft carrier had gone faster than he realisedl, even though he had received and carefully read through each update with wild enthusiasm. This ship, like others, had been years in the making and costed his local government a fortune, but such things must start early, and as it turns out quite on-time. Intelligently he understood that the the ships is close to being commissioned, of course, but somehow words on the report failed to actually impress the progress onto his mind. He squeezed his hands together. "She'll make France proud."

"Indeed," Admiral Justine Kataoka agreed from beside him. "And there's all the ships those Mediterranean communes have to offer."

"They don't have many in the way of capital ships," This isn't going in a direction he'd like. He didn't know what to do with her, now that the two sides of France had been reunited. Much of the old Army's human resources are under his flag at Centre, since the assassination of Henri Bonneau, but the Navy's elders reside in Provence near Toulon along with the force d'action navale. Whoever from that side would necessarily nominate the new Navy if they put their minds to it. "Not unless they're pulling things like this, too."

"We've only looked at the active list, there's bound to be a few that were mothballed that's still in good enough condition."

Alain made some non-committal sounds. The though of the former Centre president gave his chest a pang - the two men disagreed on much and fought over more, but he recognised that Bonneau was a decent man doing his best for his country, and because of that the decision to take him out had agonised him. He promised himself again that the sacrifices won't be in vain. At least his daughter will be well taken care of. "Either way, funding for expansion will come through soon, and then it's only a matter of time."

Justine smiled. "And now we have all the time in the world."

That's not quite true. Justine is young - she made admiral purely because no one else knowledgeable about naval warfare available. She was intelligent, charismatic and intuitive in the sea, but at 25 years of age she simply was too young. But precisely because of that she'll live to stand at the helm of a French navy befitting of a major power. There is no doubt on Alain's mind that his genes will catch up with him far before then.

"We'lll have to go over the priority list again," he told the Admiral. "The last list is getting slightly outdated with this morning's update." Rouvier's emergency transmission on agreements being reached with Normandie arrived this morning; Alain wasted no time to get on the phone and extend the leaders of Picardie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais his heartfelt condolences over the travesty of negotiating French lands away.

"I thought you'd say that," Justine motioned a aide over and dug out a paper folder. "Here, read it when you have time."

Alain flipped through it briefly. The proposed list was right at the front, followed by page after pages of projections and analysis. "When do you need a reply by?"

"Not that soon. It's one more week minimum before we'll be flooding that drydock," she pointed to the front of the carrier, where an seemingly complete destroyer sat. People still poured all over it though, popping on and off the deck.

"Give me an overview?"

"The new idea is to get all six carrier strike groups commissioned first," she explained. "Then we can shift to a fiscally conservative schedule and start replacing legacy ship classes. Also I've drawn a line through the battleships - using them for coastal fire support was a good idea at the time but we don't have a pressing need for that any more."

"..." He swallowed. With a frown he closed the folder. "If we ever do, would the carriers suffice?""

"Of that I have no doubt: no. But we're better off using the budge to design a proper amphibious support ship," she hastily added.

Alain was disappointed; battleships were his dream and symbol of power. He knew better than to push Justine about it though: battleships are simply rather useless in a modern naval engagement. "Any other major changes?"

"Yeah, with the projected additions, we'll only need to build 12 destroyers and 17 new frigates to be able to send every carrier group off with a 2 destroyer, 4 frigates escort and still have enough ships for border patrols. We're sitll building 12 submarines, though."

"So that adds up to, err,..."

"6 carriers, 18 destroyers, 36 frigates." As she spoke there was a streak of excitement to her voice. Her smile beamed at the work below.

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