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Chapter 18: Media Blitz

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Play MP VII: Arise to Glory (volume: 3/10)

"Hey there! You're watching Aletheia! I'm Incitata Francisca! Hi; and a special hello to all our brave Tripartite allies listening from Iskandria Major!"

The camera zoomed in on an attractive young woman, dressed in a wine-red robe, and speaking into a microphone. She was standing on the battlements of a fortified wall, silhouetted against a sprawling city beyond. Smoke could be seen rising from some sectors of the city, but, all things considered, it was still a panoramic view.

"I'm sure some of you will have heard rumours surrounding the recent pirate broadcasts originating from the Phaeros, and, in particular, the man behind them, claiming to be no less than Iskander." Incitata shot a glance at the camera, raising a doubtful eyebrow. "For those of you out of the loop, this individual, and the cadre of warlord troops at his command, have been spreading a series of treasonous propaganda pieces, provoking citizens to rise up in arms against their homeworlds, inspiring acts of domestic terrorism, and denouncing the (and I quote) 'tyranny of the Tripartite Confederacy'." Incitata gave a small chuckle. "Ironic that the self-proclaimed 'Great Tyrant' believes himself to be in a position to accuse others of tyranny!"

"Now, some of you will no doubt be having flashbacks to last year, when the Gladiator warlord Hamilcar declared himself Iskander's heir and Imperator of Iskandria. Setting aside the fact that Iskander's own General Crantius made sure he wasn't in a position to conquer anyone, the 'Great Tyrant' might otherwise be thought a little more credible than Hamilcar's claim, for unlike Hamilcar's rabble, he reveals his plutocratic roots in his willingness to provide an excess of equipment for his best troops, at the expense of the credulous rebels that he uses as cannon-fodder. Still, that doesn't change the fact that the 'Great Tyrant' and Hamilcar are both fundamentally trying to do the same thing: to cash in on old glories, and hide the fact that their agenda is one of lawlessness and betrayal."

"From the beginning of his career, Iskander demonstrated a willingness to take by force what he could not earn through merit, whether in the bloody coup that saw him take control of the Silvershield security firm, the violent takeover of the Viridian Gropotkyn-Ssung cartel, or the megalomaniac war of expansion which finally provoked the Great Powers to decisively put an end to his madness! Regardless of his true identity, the actions of the 'Great Tyrant' are certainly true to form, backstabbing the resurgent forces of humanity at the very moment of their rise to drive the invidious Koralon from Panhumanic space!"

The camera followed Incitata as she began to walk down the length of the battlements, past a battery of heavy siege guns, guarded by stern-looking Praetorians who gazed watchfully down on the city below.

"A savvy student of history would have realised that Iskander's eventual fall was inevitable from the moment that he attempted to oppose the Tripartite Confederacy: guardians of humanity's birthworlds, navigators of our race's path since the very earliest days of galactic colonisation. For as the Koralon have learned, the rallied forces of humanity form an unstoppable force, ready to crush reactionary rebels or invidious aliens like the slugs they are! Even now, the glorious armies of Consul Regulus fight hard to complete the final stages of purging the Koralon on nearby Rzhova, and these experienced veterans will surely punish this Neo-Iskandrian movement, just as they did the Koralon!"

Her jubilant expression fading into a more sombre attitude, Incitata continued. "With all this in mind, it saddens me that there are still naive citizens willing to listen to the lies, half-truths, and vague promises of utopia spouted by a proven traitor. Be wary, citizens, for individuals like him are not alone, and would try to weaken your resolve and draw you into their own treasons. If you have information pertaining to these traitors, who would undermine the fabric of our great Imperium, do not hesitate to inform the nearest Ironglass military authority, or other legal Tripartite representative, for the Senate does not forget her friends - or her enemies. Remember the indomitable will, the stalwart courage, which characterised the great heroes of the past - Lucius Vulso, Nero Ferrata, Kaizer - and ensured not only their inevitable victory, but also their place in history. Even in this present time of blood and fire, the Senate knows that no less a courage resides within the hearts of each and every one of you."

"Be strong, citizens! Be vigilant! Be safe!"

Flashing her trademark smile at the camera, Incitata waited until her cameraman, a scrawny man with straw-blonde hair, had lowered and turned off his device before brushing away a stray strand of wind-swept hair.

"I thought that went well. What do you think, Cossus?"

"Laying it on a bit thick, weren't you? And what was all that stuff about 'our brave Tripartite allies'? Our lads were fighting them up in Acreus only last week!"

Incitata rolled her eyes. "Didn't you read the brief? The Great Tyrant wants to make a big thing of the divisiveness of the Tripartite powers? The best way to refute that is by showing a united front - which is one reason that Truculla's been launching those raids across the Ophidian Strait."

"Yeah, I noticed you kept using that phrase, 'the Great Tyrant'. Hardly ever his name. You don't think it's really him?"

Incitata frowned as she walked, considering the question. "You ever read any Triad philosophy?"

"Triad? No. Try to steer away from that kind of stuff myself."

"Probably wise." agreed Incitata with a small shrug. "Still, I find it's useful to keep an eye on the competition. Anyway, there's an idea that keeps cropping up: all that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we shape the universe. That's what we're doing, Cossus - and what Iskander is trying to do. A lot of the time, our job is to create legends. This time, we have to destroy one."