Tweet of the Day: Tempted to Give up on Your Story? Don’t!
Salon doré, Palais de l’Élysée, Paris, France, 13 February, 11:02 hrs +1GMT
The Director pressed a gauze against the side of his head. Through the throbs of pain he tried to focus on the rooms details but failed. The President rushed in followed by a cloud of assistants. He waved them off.
“My God Joseph, what happened to you?” said the President as he dropped on the chair behind the desk.
“Somebody doesn’t like me very much, Mr. President,” said the Director. He handed the tablet over to his boss.
“My department assessment of the current situation.”
“Wait, where did you get this, this is not your purview, Joseph,” said the President. Deep wrinkles creased the man’s wide forehead above silver rimmed spectacles.
“Normally I would agree, Mr. President, but these are not normal times,” he said. He removed the bandage exposing a dark smudge of caked on blood.In his mind’s eye he could still see his driver bathed in his own blood from head to toe. “We need full mobilization: call the reserves, begin conscription, and call on our allies for help. And we need to move our forces south to secure our border with Italy.”
“But,” the President pressed on the tablet screen, “this shows that the bulk of the threats are in the north and center.”
“Which is why, Mr. President, we need to move our forces south as soon as possible. Italy fell to the enemy in a matter of days, we can not allow the same to happen to us.”
“Operation Pètain,” said the Director. He put the bandage back on his head in a vain attempt to alleviate the pain.
“How do you know about that?” asked the President. He stared at the Director of DSGE, “That was an internal matter.”
“And it was handled poorly. I am not trying to overstep my authority, Mr. President, but after the operation, someone launched a massive attack on the British from our shores. How did they managed that if we supposedly decapitated the leadership of the magical community in France? The British are still reeling from the aftermath of one rebellion. And now our nation is drowning in black snow. If that is not,” he made air quotes, “‘magic’ I don’t know what is.”
“And you believe that we are next?”
“We are already under attack, Mr. President. This is not just a campaign of terror. If the ash clouds don’t dissipate this will be a year without a summer, without crops, without food or clean water. Imagine our entire transportation system chocked by the ash. Whoever conquered Italy has us in their sights, if they move north…” the Director inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, “The Fifth Republic will fall.”
The President strung together a long series of expletives in a manner unique to the French.
“I will be damned if I let that happen. But if you’re wrong Joseph. If we mobilize the Army and nothing happens while bombs continue to go off everywhere else…. I already have the trade unions and the farmers and everyone else seizing my neck for the rope,” said the President
“I know Mr. President. I would not ask if I didn’t believe it. We must prepare for all contingencies,” said the Director.
“Very well, I’ll pressure the others to move up the EU summit and even convene another emergency NATO summit,” said the President.
“It would be wise to call on Eurocorps as well. If possible we should make arrangements to train our conscripts outside of the country, just in case.”
The President rested his chin on steepled hands, “Joseph, I am going to catch hell for this, but I need you to resign your post immediately,” said the President.
The Director did not like the sound of that. Was the President trying to sweep this under the rug?
“If I may be so bold, Mr. President, why?”
“Because you may have overstepped your bounds, but did so when your country needed it the most. I want you in charge of mobilization. You will be my eyes and ears coordinating all of this. Do you understand?”
The Director understood. Somebody had to wrestle France’s vast bureaucracy into place, coordinate with allies and keep an eye on future developments. And somebody needed to throw themselves in the proverbial sword if things went sideways.
“I understand. Liberté, égalité, fraternité!”