For All Nails #271: And You Could Have It All
by Johnny Pez
- Text of a speech given by David Grauer, Chancellor of the German Empire, before the Imperial Diet, 18 August 1976 (English translation courtesy of Department C of the CBI):
. . . we must remember that the arrangements made by Von Richter were not meant as a final settlement, built to withstand the ages. They were a response to a growing wave of chaos and violence that threatened to engulf an already war-torn continent. Von Richter's triumph was that his efforts were a success, and under his leadership the chaos and violence he inherited from his predecessor were brought under control.
In the thirty years since Von Richter came to power, the wounds of war have healed, and new challenges have risen to confront Germany, Europe, and the world. The old arrangements served well in their time, but the arrival of new conditions requires the creation of new arrangements. The people of North America and New Zealand have responded, and responded wisely, to our new world, by rejecting the ideology and designs of global hegemony. Can we in Europe do any less?
It is for this reason that I propose that representatives from all the nations of the Zollverein come together next month at the Palace of Versailles, to meet and discuss the measures necessary to expand the scope of the Zollverein to include a new set of political structures . . . .
- Palace of Versailles, France
- 22 September 1976
Frederick still wasn't quite sure what he was doing here, but he was glad he had come. It was his first visit to France, and he found Louis the Sun King's great palace to be nothing less than a marvel. Magnificent didn't begin to describe it. Everywhere the eye wandered, there was artwork, statuary, gardens, orchards and fountains. Every other royal palace in Europe, he now understood, was nothing more than a pale imitation of this, the grand original. And of course, everybody here at the conference spoke German, so he didn't have any trouble communicating with the other attendees.
The King of Poland was happy to find himself once more in the company of Yvette Fanchon, who had performed brilliantly as hostess for the conference. Dressed in her trademark skirt and jacket, her short dark hair touched with streaks of electric blue, the French Premier was escorting him through the Orangerie while discussing the work that had been accomplished thus far. "Of course, the Croats are none too pleased with the final settlement," she was saying. "They feel that it gives the Serbs entirely too much power within what is, after all, supposed to be the Kingdom of Croatia."
"I'm confident that Uncle Francis FN1 can make the Croats see reason," said Frederick. "He has been their king for over twenty years now, and with a few well chosen words he can have them eating out of his hand. It's a talent that the Habsburgs seem to have." A talent, he added to himself, that the Hohenzollerns tended to lack, though young Ferdinand of New Granada seemed to be doing a splendid job of rallying his new subjects through their current difficulties.
"That reminds me of something," said Fanchon. "I was just thinking, Frederick, that, dynastically speaking, you are in a unique position. Apparently, you're related by marriage to all the other monarchs of the Outer Empire states."
"Nothing I can take credit for," insisted Frederick. "It's all due to some astute matchmaking by Father back in the '50s. He married one of my sisters to the Hungarian heir, the other to the Croatian heir, and me to the daughter of the King of Austrasia. Since old King Charles died last year, Charlotte has become Queen of Hungary, and of course my brother-in-law Leopold has been King of Austrasia for several years now."
"Still," said Fanchon, "I don't think there's anyone else attending the conference who is related to so many crowned heads of state. That would be a most important consideration when it comes time for the conference to recommend a chief executive for our new organization."
It took a few moments for Frederick to realize what she was saying. "Me? You want me to be the head of the European Union?"
"This whole thing was your idea, Frederick, after all. Everyone knows it. And you're certainly a popular enough figure. The Germans idolize you for saving the life of General von Gellmann, and you're the most popular king Poland's ever had."
"But, me? Why not the Chancellor, or Cousin William, or even you, Madame Premier?"
"Well, Frederick, the Chancellor is, well, the Chancellor. If he became head of the Union, many would question whether anything had really changed. They would say that the Union is just a sham, a friendlier face for the same old German Empire. As for the Emperor, while I am sure that he is a fine man, there is no escaping the fact that he is not a popular figure, and he prefers it that way. And I am flattered that you think I might serve, but I am a simple politician. I am not even the head of the French state. I fear my political enemies here in France, who are legion, would accuse me of putting the interests of this new Union above those of our fatherland. No, Frederick, when all is said and done, the logical choice for the Union's new head is yourself. I have been discreetly questioning the attendees from the other states, and the idea is a popular one."
Frederick found himself wondering if he was dreaming, and for a brief moment, he had the overpowering sense that he and Fanchon had had this conversation before, or at least that he had once before spoken with someone in a garden about the European Union. Then the sensation was gone, and Fanchon was speaking again. "What do you say, Frederick? If the conference were to select you to be the first head of the European Union, would you accept?"
Is this a dream? Is any of this real? Is there really an Yvette Fanchon, or is she the product of a disordered imagination? Perhaps, Frederick thought wildly, I have been in a coma since those Ukrainians attacked my loke, and nothing that has happened since -- Markstein's assassination, the Bali bomb, the American War -- has been real.
"Frederick?" Fanchon took his hand in hers, and he felt the soft warm skin against his own. If this was a dream, it was the most vivid he had ever experienced. The contact allowed him to bring his mind back into focus.
"Very well, Madame Premier," he said. "You may go back to the others and tell them that if they offer me the position, I will accept. I can do no less."
Then Fanchon smiled at him, and for the moment at least, Frederick felt his doubts recede.
(Forward to FAN #272: The North Lakehead By-Election.)
(Forward to September 1976: The Armenian Quarter.)
(Forward to European Union: My Empire of Dirt.)
(Forward to Yvette Fanchon: Descendants.)
(Return to For All Nails.)