Prologue: The Founders
“Are you nervous because you haven’t seen your brother in such a long time?” my wife said in a lovingly reassuring manner.
“No,” I shrugged, but continued, “I’m nervous because I am not sure he’ll be interested in my proposal. And, if he’s not, then this will have all been for nothing.”
“You don’t have to give up on your dream, if your brother doesn’t agree,” she encouraged. “You’ve done so much work, and you have other options.”
“No,” I barked, much more severely than I had intended. “Doing this is going to be near to impossible,” I continued, steadying and lowering my tone. “If I don’t have someone I trust implicitly helping me run it, it will never work.”
“I wish I could be that person for you in this,” she said while maneuvering around to my back, placing her arms around my chest, “but I just don’t have what it takes.”
“Are you kidding me?” I chortled. “You’ve been phenomenal! It’s just that I’m going to need someone with his experience and abilities. Not only that, but I’ll need someone who can be adamant about disagreeing with me when necessary, and I don’t want that to be you. You are the wind in my sails. And though we have disagreements at times, this project is going to cause issues of staggering proportions.”
“I know,” she soothed, “and I’ll be right there by your side the whole time.” She smiled lovingly and looked into my eyes.
My wife and I stood in the airport terminal, waiting for the jet to open its door and release its passenger.
“I don’t know how I’m going to handle it, if he does not agree to do this with me,” I confided to her.
Slightly wedging her arm in between my own and my chest, she answered my doubt by saying, “Well you should prepare yourself for that eventuality, because it is an awfully risky venture, and it’s not as if you two have ever been very close.”
This did not comfort me in the manner I believe she intended.
“Just because my brother has always been the typical close tied, family guy does not mean he’s ever held the fact that I am not against me,” I responded. “He knows I love him and that we’ve always had a special connection. Albeit not like most others, to be sure, but he knows.” The last was said more for myself.
“I hope so,” she offered.
“Whether he participates in this or not, nothing between us is going to change,” I followed quickly.
“You say that now,” she said, a little more doubtful than I would have liked.
“I know, I know. Things are going to change, aren’t they?” I conceded. “I guess I just meant if he doesn’t join in, most likely, nothing of mine and his relationship will change.”
“Well that’s probably true,” she chuckled. “The two of you hardly ever see each other, as it is, now,” she smiled, and gave me a loving poke.
“Really,” I smiled, “Now?”
“I’m just playing,” she smiled. “I am certain he’s going to say yes.”
“Well, I guess we’re about to find out,” I patted her cradled hand, “here he comes now.”
Once my brother and I were relaxing comfortably in the living room of his hotel suite, he decided to up the ante of the conversation.
“Alright, so what’s this all about?” he inquired. “You and Carol were pretty tight lipped on the ride from the airport.”
“What are you talking about? We all chatted the whole way here,” I feigned innocence.
“Yeah,” he scoffed “I’m not saying you both weren’t pleasant and chatty; I’m saying you both changed the subject with dubious skill whenever I tried to ask anything about why you so urgently brought me up here.” Pausing, he looked around and changed his tone entirely, “Speaking of which, why are we up here? And how, for that matter, could you afford to bring me here on a private jet?”
“I’m sorry. Was it not as nice as yours?” I said in jest.
“Come on, you know that’s not what I meant,” he laughed back. “Seriously though man, you’re a professor,” he proceeded more seriously. “Cryptic phone calls, urgent trips—on private jets, no less—what is going on David? You’re starting to scare me.”
“Okay, okay. Don’t be scared,” I assured. “It’s not the time for that yet.”
“Yet,” his eyes widened, “is that supposed to ease my concerns right now?”
“Nope,” I asserted, “I very much meant it; there will be plenty of occasions to be scared in the near future.”
“This is not helping David,” he said, crossing his arms.
“Thomas, I want you to listen to—and consider, with all seriousness—the proposal I am about to put to you,” my tone was finally serious enough to appease him. “It is going to sound like a joke—and a completely absurd one at that—but I assure you, it is not.”
“I figured as much,” he acknowledged. “You’ve got my attention. Now tell me what’s going on.”
“I want you to help me start a new country based around one ideal city—just like dad had always talked about, but with quite a few more of the details worked out,” I said, laying it out flat.
“Excuse me?” he queried
“I am, in no way, playing with you right now,” I told him. “We have acquired a significant piece of land in The Provinces, north of here across the border, and we’re going to build a city. We’re going to develop everything from the ground up, and we’re going to follow our principles of community, justice, exploration, and environmental stewardship.” I continued, “And above all, we are going to be a completely sovereign state with no one else’s inefficiency or ignorance to stand in our way.”
There was a long pause.
I started up again, “We have the majority of the plan in place, but I need someone like you to help ensure success.”
There was another pause.
“How, exactly, am I supposed to do that?” he asked.
“Well your business acumen is going to be crucial,” I added immediately. “I mean you did, after all, build a multibillion dollar a year energy company—genuinely from the ground up.” I took a short pause, and then added, “More than that, though, I need you to be my partner in keeping all that this is going to entail under control.”
“Huh!” he snorted. “You’re talking about building a city, and running a country. Exactly what level of control do you think will be able to be maintained?”
“It’s not like men, less capable than us, haven’t been doing this for millennia,” I said, “and we’re going into it far more prepared than any of them ever did—with quite a few more advantages.”
“There’s that hubris I’ve seen in you before,” he said morosely.
“Exactly!” I jumped, pointing a finger at him. “Yet another reason why you’re going to have to be there with me.”
“I can’t do this,” he stood, as if to challenge my finger pointing. “This is ridiculous. You can’t do this! The federal government is never going to let you go; they’re never going to let you do this.”
“They are, and they will,” I challenged right back.
“I don’t understand,” he shrugged his shoulders. “You already have the land? How is any of this possible?”
“Well, it is complicated,” I sat back down to continue explaining, “and I will explain it all to you in detail, but for now it is suffice to say I have spent years putting together a coalition of people who share the same types of values as us. These people want to live in a responsible environment but simply cannot find any place that is willing to support their values.”
He sat down too, with a look of shock on his face.
“Anyway,” I carried on, “many of these people are fairly powerful in different respects. Through their connections—as well as my own—I have been working on brokering a deal with several governments and corporations to make this happen. Here is where you come in.”
“What does that mean?” he said, slightly bewildered.
“You would have to sell your company as part of the deal.”
“What!” he was on his feet again. “What do you mean sell my company? How did my company get involved in this? No…wait.” He stopped his newly begun pacing. “Actually, I can’t sell my company,” he tilts his head and furrows his brow, “and you know that—ever since that issue with the federal courts.”
“Yeah, that actually helped quite a bit,” I leaned back into the plush sofa cushions.
“Besides,” he continued, as if he hadn’t heard me, “selling my company won’t fund this little operation of yours. I am legally forbidden from selling my company for any price higher than a thousand dollars.”
“Yeah,” I paused briefly, “you won’t actually be selling your company. You will be signing it over to the federal government. In return, they will be giving five hundred billion dollars in grants to private corporations working on building projects in the city, and they will allow UniCom to donate another five hundred billion to our organization with no tax burden. Then they will take over operations of your company. Plus,” I added, “it was part of the negotiation to get sovereignty.”
“A trillion dollars…Pheeew…Wait a minute! How did UniCom get involved in this?” he barked.
“Listen, I know you don’t like them, but…”
“Of course I don’t like them! You know they…”
“I know, I know. That is neither here, nor there,” I said trying to calm him. “You don’t like them, and they don’t like you—neither does the federal government, for that matter. So let’s take their money and go start our own country! Do you not get the monumentality of this opportunity?”
“Yes, I get it,” he chimed, “but what you’re talking about doing is almost incomprehensible. It is not going to be as easy as you think.”
“Easy! I don’t think it’s going to be easy at all,” I insisted. “In fact, it hasn’t been so far. Besides, nothing meriting the term monumental should be easy. Also, that’s why I want you by my side.”
“Well that figures,” he rolled his eyes and flipped his hands up. “You still didn’t tell me what UniCom has to do with this,” he probed.
“You know what they have to do with this. They want your company, and the federal government wants them to have it,” I said, almost exhausted at that particular issue. “I say you let them have it and build a bigger, better future for even more people.”
“I don’t know about all of that,” he shrugged. “Anyway, this is all moot. Not even a trillion dollars is enough money to do what you’re talking about doing.”
“Oh I’ve got more than a trillion dollars,” I smiled, “four trillion, to be specific, but it’s not like we’re just going to be vacationing up there. We’re going to have industry and agriculture. In fact, we are already set to start manufacturing on five different contracts in two years, and the first crops should start producing yields next spring.”
“Next spring!” he sat down, again. “David, how far along is this thing?”
“Oh, I’d say we’re at least knee deep already,” I chuckled.
“Right,” he pointed at me. “That’s about when you find out whether you’re going to fall on your face or not.”
“Exactly!” I exclaimed hopefully. “That’s why I want you to come with me.”
“Wait a minute,” he puzzled. “How could you have begun the project already? You don’t have the money, or the sovereignty, from me signing over my company—and I haven’t agreed to do this. Don’t you think you might have put the horse before the cart little brother?”
My demeanor got more solemn, “You are not my only option. Within the deal I brokered, I have two other possible options to pull this off. However, I am not going to exercise either of them. I just negotiated them, so they would allow the project to begin. You’re in, or the project stops.” There is a slight pause. “I want you to help me do this. I want you, and Tess, and the kids, to come with us, and we will build a new country from the ground up,” I finished.
“Oh my god!...Tess!...David, how am I supposed to bring this up to my wife—let alone my kids?” he asked, looking off, not really expecting me to answer.
However, after a brief pause, I answered anyway.
“A, your kids won’t care, and B, you shouldn’t let that be a factor in something as important as this anyway. And as far as Tess goes, just ask her the same way I asked you,” I said sincerely.
“Oh! Sure!” he scoffed. “Hey honey, wanna go start a country today? Maybe we can make you queen, or something.”
“First off, uncanny impression,” I said sarcastically, “and second, don’t joke about the whole queen thing,” I said, much more somberly.
“Oh relax,” he scolded. “You know I wasn’t supposing tyranny, or anything of the sort.”
“No, no. It’s not that. It’s just…well…we’ve already got someone in mind for queen,” I shot him a toothy grin, and we both broke into laughter.
As my brother and I sat comfortably, in one of our two larger jets with about forty five other passengers flying to the city, the conversation turned a little sour for my tastes.
“You know, that crack about the kids was wrong,” Thomas stated.
“Hmm… What crack?” I looked over to face my brother, as he was seated on my left.
“About my kids not caring and their opinion not mattering anyway. It was wrong,” he said pointedly.
“To be clear, I didn’t say their opinion didn’t matter,” I consoled. “I said you shouldn’t let it be a factor in something as important as this. And you know, I simply meant that you, as the father, shouldn’t let important decisions be left to the sway of children’s adolescent desires.”
“Yeah, I know what you meant,” he acknowledged, “but sometimes it worries me how quickly terse and callous comments can roll off your tongue.”
In an effort to appease him and get off this subject, I replied, “Believe me, it worries me occasionally too, but you know it’s not meant with any kind of malice, right?” I smiled.
“I do,” he smiled and reached his arm up and around my shoulders.
There was a short pause.
Thomas broke the silence first saying, “So, I thought you said we weren’t going to have an airport.”
“I said we weren’t going to have airlines,” I nudged him with my elbow. “There are certain things that simply require the use of airplanes. I don’t demonize the tool; I demonize its misuse.”
“Sure…sure…So trains huh,” he smacked my knee. “You know the nearest major city is more than two hundred and fifty miles away.”
“Yep,” I nodded.
“Doesn’t that mean it’s going to be a while before we have steady, and reliable, supplies?” he queried.
“Nope,” I shook my head.
There was a long pause.
Eventually both of us smiled at each other.
“Remember that discussion we were just having about you being terse?” he said through a forced smile.
“It rings a bell,” I smirked.
“Well?” he pressed.
“Well what?” I evaded.
“David!” he chuckled.
“Alright, alright,” I said, laughing. “Construction on both the heavy and the high-speed lines started four years ago.”
“Seriously!” he said taken aback. “We’ve got a railroad.”
“Sure do,” I supplied, with a big smile. “State-of-the-art. Mag Levs, even. Cost us a pretty penny.”
“Just one line for each?”
“Technically,” I responded, “but, actually, there are two complete guide-ways for both the heavy and the high-speed; they’re unidirectional paths. None of that pesky shuffling-the-trains-on-a-single-track for us, brother—efficient, efficient, efficient.”
“Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have one guide-way for each, and save the materials?”
“That might be the opinion of some,” I conceded, “but having the double tracks allows one to act as a backup for the other during maintenance or problems, and it makes our scheduling capabilities far more efficient for all the other times.” I paused briefly, but before he could say anything, I added, “Anyway, the last guide-way will be done in three months.”
“Wow,” he said somberly. “Three months, huh. So this is real.”
“Oh it’s real, alright,” I agreed. “Just wait until you see the city so far. Once you do, you’ll sign those papers in a heartbeat and never look back.”
“I am incredibly impressed with how much is already done here, David, but how is this expectation about me setting up and operating the energy distribution supposed to work?” he asked. “It’s not as if I built my company on my own, you know.”
“First off, don’t sell what you did short,” I encouraged, “but in regards to your concern, a clause to help with that was written into the agreement. Of those employees you should choose—and that are willing—you’ll be able to bring one thousand.”
“What!” he said slightly stunned. “I’ll be able to bring a thousand of my employees with me?”
“How is that going to work?” he threw his hands up. “They’re just supposed to uproot their lives and move to the middle of nowhere.”
“No one is going to force them, by any means,” I assured. “Furthermore, don’t you think any of them would be enticed by what we have to offer them?”
“What we have to offer them is foreign, undeveloped, untested, frontier living.”
“Frontier living, you say,” I eyed him brusquely, “with state-of-the-art facilities in every capacity, free healthcare, the most efficient transportation system, guaranteed income, better housing, and safe and secure living.”
“Yeah, but it is in the middle of nowhere, and it is all untested,” he reiterated.
“Thomas, you’ve walk the streets; you’ve seen the facilities. Don’t you think some of them will be interested?”
“Yes, you’re right,” he smiled. “I’m sure some will.”
“So you’re on board!”
“Yes, little brother, I am. Now let’s head back and gather up our families; we’ve got ourselves a country to run.”
(End of prologue)
In order to be king, one must be merciful and kind, for fear he be found out a tyrant. Although, for a king to be loved, he must be heavy handed, for people love a strong leader who keeps order as well as prosperity. While doing so, a king must be mindful of God, for He is king among kings and ruler of all who rule. Being king is an arduous task, a feat most men cannot accomplish with any longevity. So it is that a king must respect the devil, for Satan is ruler of all those who fail.
“Ugh! Why do you read this blather to me, Jepsin?” I inquired dryly.
“I read it, Magistrate, because your cousin is gaining much support by doing the same, and you need to be aware of it,” he responded.
“He gains support with the working plebes,” I snapped. “I still command the full loyalty of the army—not to mention the Managers.”
“The Managers are not to be trusted,” he scowled. “Their loyalties would shift in a slight breeze, if it suited their needs. And as far as the army is concerned, they’re not allowed within the wall, and he controls the defense force.”
“What the hell is Thason so mad about,” I shouted, pushing the papers Jepsin slid toward me straight off the other side of my desk. “The motto of the city is right there, etched in the forum. ‘First, always, the wellbeing of the city and its people.’ Does the city do anything but prosper and, by default, the people too?”
“Yes, Magistrate,” he scurried over and crouched to reassemble the scattered papers. “I believe he is upset that some citizens appear to be prospering better than others.”
“Piss on him,” I spat the words, as if they left a bitter taste in my mouth. “He cares nothing for the plight of others. It’s arguable; he lives better than I do. You don’t see him offering to part with any of his estate to help equalize any perceived discrepancies.” I contemplated for a moment, strumming my fingers on the desk. “No, this is about that religious nonsense he’s gotten into his head; he wants a state religion.”
“Your Fathers did come from a religious background,” Jepsin chimed in. “I think, primarily, he’s…”
“No!” I asserted. “Neither one of the Fathers wanted this city to be run by the influence of dogmatic nonsense weakly passing itself off as morality. And even though my ancestors have been dead for generations, I won’t have the likes of you sullying their memory by suggesting otherwise.”
“No, Magistrate, of course not,” he backpedaled. “I’m merely trying to…”
I held a hand up, cutting him off again. “Wait,” I ordered. “Bear with me, Jepsin.” That was the closest I could come to apologizing to him, given the difference in our status. “I know what you were trying to do, and it is appreciated. You are very good at your job, but for now I need no further advice.”
I stood up, grabbing and twirling my jacket off the back of my chair and around my shoulders in one skillfully swift maneuver, and I headed for the door.
“Where are you going?” Jepsin called.
I stopped, turned my head to face him, and cocked an eyebrow.
“I…eh…I…ahem…must…notify your detail,” he recovered, ever so graceful.
“You needn’t bother,” I resumed my stride. “I’m just retrieving the kids from their lessons. Besides, no one would dare harm me.”
The large, ornately carved, doors to my office closed behind me—further punctuating the end of our conversation.
“You think that now,” Jepsin mumbled under his breath.
In a small, but lavishly decorated, room an elderly professorial figure stood pontificating instruction to three seated boys.
“Through specific recruitment and selective allowance, they populated the city to its first-phase capacity. And, for a pre-set period of time, they maintained an isolationist policy, so the city—and her inhabitants—could adjust and grow without negative influences. And so it was, the two brothers, their children, and their children’s children, built our wonderful city of Renace.”
“Mr. Battista,” the oldest of the three boys inquired, “what happened to those other governments the Fathers had to negotiate with?”
“Well Remus,” frustrated with the interruption, the teacher turned to speak directly to his inquisitor, “after a few generations, the city was still isolated within its great wall—further protected by its superior defensive technologies. A growing number of inhabitants were beginning to protest until the world fell victim to a plague. News reports attributed the sickness to a special vaccination for a new flu strain.”
“Are they sure it was the flu?” the boy said wide-eyed.
Though he certainly did not appreciate being repeatedly interrupted, the teacher continued lecturing, “Whatever the cause, the world’s population was devastated. Wherever people had gathered in close number there was no chance for survival; the disease worked very quickly. Towns and cities around the world were abandoned as their streets filled with bodies.”
All three boys’ mouths were open but remained silent.
“Within a few years there seemed to be no more sign of sickness, and—though there is no way to be sure—the population of the world had to be down in the few hundred million range.”
“Is that when we started to expand the republic?” Remus asked.
“No,” the teacher paused briefly at the outburst. “The city was self-sufficient and safe from the sickness, so there was no rush to break the timeline for the second-phase, but soon after that expansion the population grew too quickly. Incorporation of new territory was required. At this point, of course, several generations had come and gone, so none of the previous claims to land outside of ours existed anymore.”
“That’s when the army was created!” one of the younger boys exclaimed.
“Telemachus,” the teacher scolded, “your cousin has developed some bad habits; you’d do well to discourage the same behavior in yourself.”
There was a short silence as the boys turned back and forth to look at each other in awe.
The teacher started up again, “When men of proper decorum want to address a superior or, in this instance, a mentor, they do so by sounding said superior’s name and then waiting for the acknowledging approval to go on.”
There was another brief pause.
“Mr. Battista,” sounded the voice of one, now timid, Telemachus.
“Is that when the army was created?”
“Yes. And so started the days of the republic.”
“Mr. Battista,” Remus hissed, clearly being upset at the not-so-subtle admonishment.
“Yes, Remus,” the teacher grinned, being pleased with the reestablished order.
“If there were no more cities or governments, and the people scattered into the wilderness, how, then, are there so many kingdoms and nations now that the army constantly has to control or conquer them?”
“Good question,” the teacher encouraged. “As I had said, several generations had gone by, and—though nature had reclaimed almost all of what we refer to as the Old Civilization—people did eventually start to gather into groups again. They, of course, were having children just like we did, and they began building their respective societies.”
“Societies, huh,” Remus sneered.
I had entered the room just as professor Battista was finishing his statement and well in time to hear Remus’ outburst.
“Remus,” I shouted.
The boys all jumped and turned to face me; the teacher sharpened his stance as well.
“Yes father,” he snapped cautiously.
“Though I deal with barbarians on a regular basis, I have no patience for it in my own home,” I stepped further into the room. “When your professor is speaking, you do not interject at will.”
As I casually strolled around the back of the room, not looking at its occupants but scanning it as if taking some sort of inventory, I continued, “Just because other nations are primitive does not mean we must lower ourselves to their level when learning about them.”
“Executive Magistrate,” the teacher appealed.
I held a ceasing hand up, “Upon entering, I did not notice my cousin’s sons behaving like animals.” I dropped my hand, “Tell me professor, is this my son’s natural state?”
“Of course not, Magistrate,” the teacher said confidently. “He was merely taken over with zeal. He gets that way—on occasion, as young boys do—when learning the history of our great city.”
Professor Battista, then, leveled an almost blatantly accusatory stare at me and continued, “Many of the boys under my tutelage over the years have had the very same issues to overcome. It always seems to pass with a little gentle encouragement.”
“Ah, of course, it does.” I replied, knowing full well what he was insinuating. “Well, that’s settled then.”
I crouched down and extended my arms. “Come here boys,” I called to my eight and ten year old nephews in an exaggeratedly excited tone. “We’ve got to get you back to your father. Remus, thank your professor for his instruction,” I nodded to my old teacher.
The two boys ran to my embrace, and Remus turned to face his teacher.
“Thank you, professor Battista,” Remus said in a sincerely humble voice.
“You are quite welcome, young sir,” Battista winked at Remus.
The boy smiled, turned, and quickly joined our little mock marching group, and we headed off down the hallway.
(End of Chapter 1)