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The Money Reform Party

Star Woes

Chapter 25

The colonel led the briefing for their imminent arrival on Wimseyland.

"Now we have to think about our entrance... Your Grace's entrance at Wimseyland. We have got to ensure that you get maximum news coverage as fast as possible. I have no doubt that once the Emperor discovers what is going on, he will attempt to shut down even Wimsey's news coverage.

"We can play on the fact that Wimsey likes to present cheerful upbeat news, which tends to be in rather short supply. That's why they're the Empire's favourite media organisation. Also, Wimseyland is visited by people from all over the galaxy. They will take their experience back to their home planets, which will further spread the word once the news black-out kicks in."

A signal was beamed to Wimseyland to expect the arrival of the Queen of Aldershott. Tamara, Mark, the colonel and everyone else save Hewie carefully prepared themselves for the roles they had to play, donning the clothes that they had brought with them from Constructor Station Resolution. Hewie was asked to mind the ship and not show himself.

"Pppt!" he agreed.

The Jubilee Endeavour orbited the former Debt Star, whilst further signals were passed back and forth.

"Suppose it's a trap?" asked Mark. "There could be a battalion of Stormtroopers just waiting for us."

"Could be," agreed the colonel. "But I doubt anyone could be here before us."

"Or maybe a HoloNet message came through from the Constructor Station?"

"Mm. Possible, but how likely is it that the Imperial authorities know of our plans, or where we are headed?"

"True. Now, what do we need to do?" asked Mark.

"Simply get featured on the news," advised the colonel. "Let's hope they have some officials and reporters there at the terminal. We do not need to go far from the ship. We can indicate that it is just a flying visit, a first stop on a tour of the Empire. Any sign of trouble and we get out of there."

"Are we not endangering my sister, colonel?"

"Would you rather we did not land, your Grace?" asked the older man, looking at his sovereign.

"No," said Tamara. "Let's do it."

Meanwhile, on Wimsey's Facts News Channel, the cheery presenter was handed a news-flash.

"Hi there, viewers on Wimsey Facts News, we have breaking news that the Queen of Aldershott is arriving shortly in Wimseyland. Yes, indeed, the Princess Tamara is alive and well and coming here to Wimseyland. Remember, you saw it first on Wimsey Facts News. Going over now to our reporter at the terminal, Don Alducc. What's the latest, Don?"

"The royal ship is coming down to land here at the terminal, Mick, and a large crowd of visitors are gathering to receive Her Grace."

"Thank you, Don. Now here in the studio is our special correspondent, Salone Rangher..."

"Hello, Mick."

"Salone, can we be sure that this is the real Queen of Aldershott? It was thought that the Princess Tamara, as she then was, might have died in the Aldershott disaster."

"Well, Mick, rumours of her survival and that of her bother, the Prince Marco, have persisted over the years with claims that the royal children were resident on the planet Tattoo One. They were thought to have been there when Aldershott disappeared. Over the years, their families never acknowledged their existence, but never denied it either, and when the financier Nathan West never seemed to show any interest in the two children who were rumoured to be the royal twins, interest in them rather died down. Then both of the families left Tattoo One a few years ago, and no one knows where they went."

"Why has there been no attempt to trace the royal children until now?"

"Simply that, what purpose would be achieved? If they had survived, as many supposed, what good would there have been in telling a young girl and boy that they were heirs to a non-existent planet. Besides, their father never denied nor acknowledged their existence. It was down to him to search for his lost children, if indeed they were lost, and if he did not regard them as being lost, then in one sense, they never were lost."

"Yes. Their father, of course, is the financier, Mr Nathan West. What has he said about his son and daughter over the years?"

"Mr West says very little about anything. He has never confirmed nor denied rumours of their existence."

"Thank you, Salone. Now we've more information here. We asked the royal ship to send us a photograph of Her Grace and done a computer-enhanced growth comparison with the last known photograph of the young Princess Tamara. No expense spared here on Wimsey Facts News, folks, to bring you the facts, and nothing but the facts! Now, the result we're getting is that the match is high... It's a good one... Oh yes, and here we have a picture of the late Queen Heneria. What do make of that, Salone?"

"Yes, you can clearly see the family resemblance there."

"Thank you, Salone, as we go back to the terminal here on Wimseyland where it is all happening today, folks, and being brought to you live by Wimsey Facts News. Don."

"Hi, Mick. The royal starship, which is called the Jubilee Endeavour, a fine royal name, but which for some reason is disguised as a beat-up old freighter, has now landed and the ramp is going down.... And here she comes, yes that is undoubtedly the new Queen of Aldershott making her way down the ramp escorted by... I presume that's her brother, her twin brother, the Prince Marco, and coming to meet her is Wimsey Corporation's President, Dalton Wimsey himself, to be the first man ever to welcome the new Queen of Aldershott. She's making her first formal royal visit, and you're seeing it right here on Wimsey Facts News!

"The first royal visit of the new Queen of Aldershott is to Wimseyland, folks! I wonder why she came here. Let's see if I can have a word with her Grace.... Your Grace, Don Alducc of Wimsey Facts News, can you spare a word or two for the viewers at home?"

"Certainly, Mr Alducc, I would be glad to."

"Your Grace, this is, I understand, your first formal visit as Queen of Aldershott, indeed many wondered whether you were actually alive or not. Now, can you tell me, why did you choose Wimseyland as your first destination?"

"Because Wimseyland occupies such a special place in people's hearts and I too want to occupy a special place in their hearts, to bring a sense of hope in these troubled times within our dear Empire. I was fortunate to be presented to His Imperial Majesty just yesterday in company with my father..."

"Yes, your father is the financier, Nathan West? And is he here, Your Grace, if I may ask?"

"He is in close conference with the Emperor, at a place I do not feel at liberty to divulge."

"No, indeed not. So your coming here, Your Grace, has nothing to do with the fact that this is the former Debt Star which..."

"Thank you, Don, and we come back to the studio whilst Don sorts out his little technical difficulty there. We'll just ask Salone Rangher... Oh, and I think that we can go back to Don at the terminal where... What's happening, Don?"

"Well, Mick, it looks like a squad of security staff are marching down here. To be presented to Her Grace, I have no doubt. What a fine body of men, who all work to guarantee the safety and security of all our many visitors to Wimseyland from all over the galaxy... oh, and they're waving goodbye, the royal party is waving goodbye... I don't..."

"Thanks Don, and it's time for a commercial break here on Wimsey Facts News as we... er, what? We shall be back shortly with a report from Hardknox training ground on how our brave boys are learning to defend the Empire... Don't go away!"

With all the aplomb and calm that they could muster, Tamara, Mark and their escorts made their way back up the ramp and without waiting for clearance, Polo shot them back out into space, where they allowed themselves time to watch a record of the broadcast.

"What happened at the end?" asked Mark

"It looks like someone got word to stop broadcasting," suggested the colonel.

"An Imperial command?"

"Probably, whilst they try to work out what is going on. You spoke sympathetically about the Empire, your Grace. You approve of it?"

"It will help if I seem to approve, colonel, because approval is usually mutual. If people think that I approve of the Empire, then they might well think that the Empire approves of me. It will be easier to dispel that notion at a later date, should I want, than to try to create it at a later date."

"Yes, I see," agreed the colonel.

"They didn't stop us leaving," remarked Polo.

"No, captain, but then security might not be their strong point. It is not actually an Imperial installation."

"No. It just sounds like one," opined Captain Polo. "Okay then, folks. Where to now?"

"We need our own media system," said Mark.

"Our own?" asked Tamara.

"Yes. How ever many people saw that broadcast, its memory will soon fade if we don't keep repeating the message, and we may assume that the Empire will close down any references to the Queen of Aldershott on the official HoloNet system. It will probably do so for the time being anyway until it works out whose side we are on, as the colonel said."

"But you are not going to work against the Empire, Highness?" asked a puzzled colonel.

"No, colonel. The Empire, the Imperial authorities, even the Emperor himself are not the problem, except in as much as they seem to have abandoned their rights and responsibilities over the money supply. The problem lies with the string of galactic financiers, my father amongst them, who lend money into existence, and they only do it because they are permitted to do so," explained Mark.

"So your plans, Highness?"

"Like I say, the first thing we need is our own media system to keep people aware of my sister as Queen of Aldershott. We need to do that to retain the value of our money and to educate people about money."

"Education will be difficult, Highness. Most people would rather indulge in the bland, saccharine, feel-good rubbish pushed out by the Wimsey Corporation."

"Then we need to ensure that our efforts are entertaining as well as informative, colonel. We need to hire creative people, media specialists as well as people who understand the HoloNet, and administrators to run it, technicians to service it, and all the ancillary staff to provide for them."

"I know just the place," suggested Polo. "We got some of the best unemployed brains in the galaxy!"

"We, Captain Polo?"

"My own planet, Corelfornia! Yessirree!"

"Thank you, captain. Set us a course for Corelfornia."

"Pppt!" agreed his co-pilot.

"I wish you won't keep doing that, Hewie. Not in zero G. What a dumb-ass thing to do..."

Next: Chapter 26

Previous: Chapter 24

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