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Old 09-23-2019, 02:12 AM
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20: Hellfire and Blamnation

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The First Seven Days of a New World the tabloids read.

For once, they weren't kidding. The President of South Africa died in office on April 2, 2017, shot by a protestor during a speech on poverty. A pre-eminent general used the opportunity to declare martial law, and became the de facto leader... for all of twelve hours, until he too was shot, this time by his trusted second in command, who quickly executed any politicians calling for him to be ousted.

The nation's political violence took mere hours to escalate into rioting in the streets, what military forces South Africa could still muster -most went home to their families after the general's death- focused on protecting the houses of whichever government officials could pay off their commanders, out. Paper money quickly became worthless, food reaching a premium; cell service, water, and electricity began to fail. The stores were the first to be looted, then the wealthier neighborhoods, years of social tension breaking out as order collapsed. By April 4th, there were sourceless reports of neighbors killing each other over grudges, food, or fear, most likely fed by the vampires' propaganda machine, entire cities erupting into anarchic chaos.

Russia declared its support for the military's government, the Ukrainian Coalition quickly backing the country's Intelligentsia as many doctors, lawyers, engineers, and teachers voiced opposition. The world stood on and watched as South Africa began to burn, none daring to intervene for fear of stoking the flame of World War 3.

On the evening of April 5th, the first boot of the vampire army tread on South African soil. Later estimates based on eyewitness accounts reported that columns of men in black uniforms ran three abreast alongside tractor trailers; the vampire forces were spread throughout South Africa by dawn on the 6th, field hospitals were up by noon, and the propaganda machines were rolling by tea-time. Loudspeakers, radio broadcasts, and television signals were hijacked, declaring that the invading army was here to help, that none would be harmed if they threw down their weapons and ceased their violence, and that food, clean water, clothing, and medical attention were available at nearby locations.

The shattered remains of the South African military was no match for them, and a photo of a masked figure cuffing the interim leader was widely circulated, as were pictures of scuffed children receiving water from imposing soldiers, firehoses dousing raging fires, and short lines in front of food banks. The vampiric insignia/flag of an eclipse is in nearly every photo, sewn into patches on the soldier's sleeves, stamped onto tents, bottles, blankets, clothes.

The military was totally dissolved by the 7th, what remained of the Parliament and Courts by the 8th. The new cycles were the first to laud the efforts of 'this unknown force', each claiming they had exclusive interviews with high-ranking members, the Intelligentsia of South Africa soon expressing their support as well. The governments of the United Kingdom, Spain, South Korea, Australia, and India were the first to express their support, doing so within an hour of each other. France, Germany, Egypt, and Israel soon followed, the USA remaining noticeably absent before President Bill the rules of the site forbid me to name real politicians... and this is a reminder not to take any of this too seriously Throckmorton went on air in an emergency State of the Union Address to declare his support for 'New Arcadia', and to reiterate his desire for peace in Eastern Europe.

"Russia, China, and many of the Middle Eastern states have yet to give their support, but it's only a matter of time before New Arcadia takes its place on the world stage" an editorial in the Wall Streat Journal read, a sentiment repeated early and often in many international news outlets as the first world breathed a collective sigh of relief.

A short-lived sigh of relief, as it happens. On the morning of the 9th, the Empyrean alerts all of its residents to an ongoing TV broadcast, live from an emergency meeting of the G7 in Sicily.

BroadcastThe President appears on screen, flanked by the leaders of France, Italy, Japan, the UK, Canada, and Germany. He begins to read from a teleprompter, and the Empyrean informs you that this message is being broadcast on almost every station, MTV alone standing tall in its valiant efforts to deliver low-quality programming instead of real-world events.

"People of the world, I am pleased to be able to say that the situation in the nation formerly known as South Africa has been resolved," he begins. "The actions of a certain group ensured the minimal loss of life, and the immediate restoration of basic human necessities such as food, clean water, and shelter. Without the actions of this group, my advisers tell me that there could very well have been another Cold War in Eastern Europe. I myself believe that it would not have remained Cold for long. As many of you know, this group is solely responsible for acting while we sat and watched, too afraid to move." He clears his throat and reaches for a bottle of water. "People of the world, I am here today because I am privileged to introduce you to the leader of this group," he says. "For many years, we have lived with stories of monsters beyond belief, born from the fear of the dark that is a relic of a past age. Today, I am here to tell you that truth is stranger than fiction. As a leader of the free world, it is my duty to introduce you today to Dracula, king of New Arcadia."

Dracula walks onto the stage, visible to the camera and looking surprisingly warm; his hair is out of his eyes, his outfit has been slightly refined toward a more modern style -fewer ruffles and less skin, mostly-, and it's clear that everyone in the room has no idea how easily he could kill them. He stands beside the President and shakes his hand with a terse smile... and in that moment, everyone who's ever met the real Dracula recognizes Nicu. "Thank you, Mr. President." He turns toward the camera. "This is no trick," he warns, as if speaking directly toward the audience. "And you are in no danger. I am the first vampire, the result of a viral evolution in the human genome. My people have dwelt among you for centuries; even now, in cities and towns around the globe, they are revealing themselves. Teachers and students, doctors and lawyers, bakers and mechanics; many of your neighbors have lived in fear of being persecuted for what they are. We are not creatures of the night; we do not murder people in their sleep. One million of my kind have coexisted in peace with your kind for centuries. Thanks to the efforts of a brilliant scientist, who wishes to remain unnamed, we are for the first time able to subsist without relying on the unused blood donations of millions of generous humans. As Palestine became Israel, so too will South Africa become New Arcadia." He lets this not-at-all controversial statement rest for a moment. " All citizens of the republic of South Africa are hereby granted citizenship in New Arcadia. All vampires, regardless of citizenship, are not to be molested, waylaid, or impeded from traveling to New Arcadia. All other people demonstrating superhuman or supernatural power are not to be molested, waylaid, or impeded from traveling to New Arcadia. We offer asylum to those who have lived in fear of the clandestine efforts of the world's governments to suppress them, but we will work with these same governments to ensure that justice is served to the truly wicked."

He looks around the room, then back to the camera. "We will live in the shadows no longer. I charge you, people of the world, to watch us, and to see our true desire to live in peace. Thank you."

!Dracula steps back and the President steps forward, monologuing about how the US will work in full cooperation within the bounds of established human rights to ensure the mutual benefit of the world. The various leaders agree in their own speeches, but it's fairly clear that most of them aren't quite convinced themselves by the time the feed goes back to stunned newscasters.


Enoch
Lee clicks off the TV and turns blankly to you; it's been a week since you arrived, and it took less than a day for Kali to uncoil back to her usual self, with the definite help of Goldie, Shawn, Heather, and a low-stress environment. He clears his throat and bobs Shawn up and down on his knee, looking to where you and Kali have sat on the loveseat. "So... what does this mean for you?" he asks, ignoring the gaggle of fae staff clustered against the walls.

Kodama
Gunther turns off the TV and sighs. "Well, there goes the top to the can of giant worms," he jests weakly. "Do you think you'll want to give your family a call?"

Wraith
You're not alone when you watch it, Azath standing beside you in the observation room as the channels cut to a dozen different news anchors chattering in as many languages. He looks to you. "Do you expect many of your remaining classmates to reappear in the coming months?" he asks.

Sapphire and Wither
The two of you were quickly gathered to Inka's room for a three-person viewing party, the vampiress munching on popcorn as the TV cuts to a very confused-looking new anchor. "Nicu's gotta work on his gravitas," she remarks. "But I thought it was pretty good."
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Old 09-23-2019, 02:48 AM
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Enoch

Apparently I'm now going by 'unnamed'. Enoch grins. Always going to be a little uneasiness because... You know, vampires. But we sat in on a discussion of how their laws and way of life are going to be, and had real input into it. I'm hopeful. You met Marcel, he's going to he be the government's chief diplomat. He continues holding Kali's hand, glances at her to see if there's anything she wants to add.

We're tasked with protecting humanity, and they're humans. After a fashion. So... Enoch shrugs. Some of us are going to take them up on their offer of asylum. Funny that before I took my current job it would be dubious if I'd qualify or not. But... In the overall scheme of things, it doesn't really change much. We just have about six million more people to watch over. My project right now is finding a way to reverse unsanctioned infections, leading into 'curing' those vampires who want to become human again, without letting any of that get out of my direct control or at least not weaponized.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:52 AM
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"Azath, I think I could have given you a definite answer a few months ago, but now I'm not sure. Some will I think. Most probably won't but I could be wrong. I'm not the same person I was a few months ago. I doubt they are too. It's another reason I didn't want to go public. Didn't want to be seen endorsing it when I don't know the reality of how it's going to be. We should be more worried about a potential metahuman and magic cold war Dracula may cause with this asylum he's offering. Just look at some of those world leaders. They are not happy campers."
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Old 09-23-2019, 04:02 PM
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For the last few days Kodama had essentially been residing in three places since the vampires started making their move. Her room for sleeping, the Conservatory for exercise and much needed relaxation, and lastly Ops for keeping track of all the media she could get her hands on over what the Vampires were getting up to.

Most of what she saw elicited a long drawn out breath of temporary relief. Maybe the only coverage that got out was the stuff the vampires let out, but they were abiding by their word it seemed for the most part.

All of that, however was peanuts compared to gigantic precipice they were hovering over with the televised announcement of Dracula. That was where the big dominos would stand or fall, and who knew which way? Big can of worms indeed.

"Yeah, probably. Be a good time to check in with how they're doing." Kodama responds as she watches the newcasters fumble with how to report on what was just televised. "Before I do that though... I just wanted to ask you... I mean I remember you saying you'd rather stay private, but both your siblings plan on outing themselves. I don't want you to stay private because of me if it's not want you want to do. You know?" Kodama tears her eyes away from the plethora of screens to look at Gunther and listen to his answer.
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Old 09-23-2019, 04:07 PM
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Sapphire had tried to help Inka decorate her room, but it clearly wasn't finished yet.
One touch was a half enclosed wicker hanging chair, secured to the ceiling. Sapphire was sitting in it, legs crossed, with a bowl of popcorn as well.
"Yeah. Smart move though, gotta give Drac credit there."
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Old 09-23-2019, 04:48 PM
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Enoch
"And we're going to be keeping a close eye on them," Kali adds. "To make sure they aren't hiding anything bad."

Lee thinks for a moment. "Well, I suppose there's an entire community of... fae," he says at last. "I should have realized there were more. Do you think we're going to see Oberon on television next week?"

You suddenly become very aware of the dozen-plus shapely ears listening to your response.

Wraith
"No, but they are at the table," Azath replies after a moment's thought, tugging on his chin. "It is the ones we do not see who worry me. Russia and China, in particular, and the neighboring countries of what was South Africa. I shall have to pay close attention."

Kodama
"Fathom and Ep's business is their business," Gunther states. "I'll come out when I'm good and ready, maybe once I feel like I'm not stepping onto a stage." He smiles reassuringly. "Plus, if I come out, then the jig is up with your family, and we'll never get to go on that cruise. We can only take off the proverbial mask once, and I'm not really interested in doing it right at the start... plus, I'd just give the world's military an inferiority complex." He flexes his arm and chuckles.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:09 PM
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Natalia hasn't said much since arriving at the Empyrian. A lot of it has been a matter of taking it all in, some of it just that so many people have been gone as of late, and some because she still can't help but feel out of place. Inka and Sapphire would be the exceptions, as she knows them from their trip through the divine realms earlier in the week, but she's still mostly been keeping to herself. A large part of the reason is on the TV right now, she's felt it best to keep her own opinions to herself as well, figuring nobody would want to hear them. "It's still nothing I haven't seen plenty of times before, just wit a bigger budget, bigger scale, and better uniforms," she shrugs as she likewise munches on popcorn. At least around these two she feels a bit more open to speak freely, and she's made no secret of the fact that she has no trust for the vampires. It will take a lot more than a press conference and words to convince her, and as a mortal, it will take even more still.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:09 PM
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"So do you think Dracula has co-opted their governments already? It would make sense for the Africa countries. Despite Nicu comparing themselves to Israel, I can't think they seriously want to compare themselves to them. Oppressed native people, and surrounded by enemies."
Wraith pauses. "I hope the report I made was helpful at least."
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:32 PM
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Enoch

Possibly. Quite possibly. Maybe not that soon though. Enoch considers their previous conversation. He said something to the effect that he'd consider following suit if the vampires' public emergence went well.

He looks gratefully to Kali. Of course, part of our job will be to scrutinize and bring them to task if it's called for. We have the advantage of doing that more directly than with existing governments for obvious reasons.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:41 PM
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"I figured that's how you felt." Kodama says nodding before breaking into a bit of a smile. "And I knew all about how you can put modern militaries to shame." There's a short glance at the impressive bicep. "I just wanted to make sure, it bothered me that I might be like... holding you back like that."

Kodama texts her mom, who was far and away the quickest of her folks to reply when she got a message.
TextHi Mom, you guys up for a video chat?
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:54 PM
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Kodama
"I really meant the hammer, being able to disarm soldiers from range, and disabling electronics and moving tanks with my mind," Gunther admits.

TextWe can be in fifteen minutes. Good?


Wraith
"Co-opted implies an element of subversion," Azath returns. "I'm willing to believe this is their reaction when faced with a millennia-old vampire who wants his own country. And yes, your report was helpful."

Enoch
"Obviously," Lee agrees. "There isn't danger of a war, is there? Things seemed tense, even with the President putting on his best face."

Wither and Sapphire
"Those uniforms come with rules," Inka reminds, rocking back and forth in her seat. "And lots of eyes watching. This isn't gonna be like what happens in a bunch of dark alleys and back rooms in Brazil, or at least it's not s'posed to be." She listens for a moment to the empty room. "AND we'll kick their ass if it is!" she adds.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:56 PM
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"And their uniforms are ugly if you ask me. Too much black. Could have at least thrown some grays or even some digital style alternating colors, like the newer form of camo. A hint of red here and there would be really cool and different. Kinda match who they are I think."

She ate some more popcorn lazily, watching the news feed.
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:18 PM
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Sapphire and Wither
"I think they're staying away from the red because it looks like blood," Inka decides. "Or maybe cause that was the Nazi's color scheme. I'unno."
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:25 PM
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"Probably", she said. "But you can only deny who you are for so long. Why try and hide it?"
That was her opinion anyway on the matter.
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:29 PM
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"I think if anyone is the expert on subversion, it's the vampires. Don't get me wrong, I really, really hope it works out with the vampires, hell I even like some of them. However we have to be prepared if it doesn't work out, and thankfully Lord Famine seems to have a plan with Inka if it doesn't."
He looks at the feed and sees one of the German feeds. Smiles as he sees the co-anchors, an older blonde woman, probably approaching her 40s, and a younger red head man. Wraith liked watching them for spotting the flashes of contempt they had for each other. It wasn't really noticeable unless you were highly observant like Wraith. He turns to Azath. "I worry if we focus too much on the vampires, something else will slip past us."
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