Lazienki Palace, Warsaw
23 February 2015
President Karolina Kligenberg-Syzmanowska was very much in bed and enjoying the warmth compared to the cold of the outside world, particularly since she lived on a (now frozen) lake and no amount of central heating could fully keep the cold away. The President was off dreaming, and couldn't distinguish whether the next part was happening in real life or was a dream.
"Karolina! Karolina! Get up! Wake up, now!" said the voice of her husband, Ian Syzmanowski. Karolina rolled over, a subconscious reaction that she developed since having a husband. "Karolina, the palace is on fire! Come on!"
The President heard the word fire and her eyes quickly opened, full of the expected that anyone would have upon hearing the word "fire". She got up and in a blur, picked up a coat and slipped on shoes and sprinted out of the door. She turned around to see smoke coming from the second floor, larger than she expected but still not as intense as she would imagine. As the emergency services piled into the area, the President saw a black SUV pull up.
She knew what this meant, and simply got in. They drove until finally they were off the grid, sneakily turning what looked to be a highway exit that turned into a tunnel that seemed to never end. They arrived at a command centre, and the President simply gasped at the intricacies and the manpower running the operation. There had to be at least 2,000 people working this massive underground complex.
"Welcome to our new Warsaw operations, Madam President," one of the aides who clearly looked to be the head aide said to the President, bowing to her. The Teutonic Knights at least were aware that they had an allegiance to the Polish state, and have since began working with the intelligence services. At least, in as much capacity as they were willing to divulge to the President.
"Good morning....sir," the President responded in sleepy haze, not sure of who that person was exactly. Ian, the leader of the Teutonic Knights, turned to his wife and spoke to her.
"Darling, I'm afraid what is to come is going to put you and potentially the government in grave risk," Ian said to the President, who looked at him with wide-eyed, clueless expression. "That fire, it was not an accident. It was set on purpose."
"By who then? We should prosecute them," the President began. "This can't stand..."
"No. Poland's....Poland has its own Crusader cell," Ian said to his wife. "It is our fault that they've managed to assemble right under our noses, but they have and with convincing numbers."
The President looked mortified. The same Crusaders who took out the famed Julia Glorius?
"How did this happen; when?" the President responded.
"The transition to the Republic did not sit well with some, particularly some of the landed gentry. They shopped around and found people willing to fight against the Republic and bring it down so they could resume their life of having real political influence," Ian explained. "Do you remember the old system, and the elites? How they smugly held on to power?"
"Yes, but even so, we were a constitutional monarchy with an elected parlia-" Karolina began to say.
"Hardly. It was merely for show. Underneath it all was a feudal system that your father had to navigate and pay his way through to get things done. You as President had more power than you would have ever had as an Empress," Ian explained. "Now, particularly with the Republic becoming popular and your populist ideas in the National Assembly....some of those elites want you and the idea of the Republic to fall, and they have big money interest. Together they're almost as wealthy as your family."
The President felt the blood drain from her face, and everything go cold. She forgot about her mother, her father, her younger siblings, Fryderyk and his wife and cousin Renata.
"Where are..." Karolina began.
"They're safe," Ian explained. "Your mother and father have travelled to Os Corelia and will be settling there permanently. We have our men protecting Fryderyk and Renata in Europolis, and Alenka has protection as well. She is back home in Vilnius, Lithuania.
"The most important thing is making sure you are safe and the government doesn't fall."