| Grab a hard hat!
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|Start||January 7, 2019|
Would you risk it all to do what must be done?
- To uncover the truth?
- To do what's right?
- To stand strong in the face of adversity?
This is his story.
Prologue: Justice is Served
It was a crisp, cold January morning. The Christmas season had just wrapped up, and creatures across Antarctica were waking up for their first day back to work. The same went for politicians; After a long, comfortable Christmas break, president Lavender had gotten back to work. His first order of business was none other than a groundbreaking ceremony.
Lavender was assembled atop a podium alongside Snowstormer, the governor of Eastern Shops. They were deep in the Mario Mountains, at the site of a new dam which was about to begin construction. Lavender and Snowstormer's roles were purely ceremonial, but it was a pivotal project. Lavender's government had invested hundreds of millions of WB$ into improving Shops Island's hydroelectric infrastructure, and this new dam was the keystone of that commitment.
Lavender: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to commemorate the beginning of one of the largest public works projects in Shopper History. The Chad Thunderbeak Memorial Dam will produce an astonishing amount of electricity for the state of Eastern Shops and surrounding areas. This new dam will create 12,000 jobs in greater Eastern Shops, Bro Town, Penguin City, and the surrounding areas. My government is more than happy to support such a project, as we know it's for a very good cause! I believe that this project will inspire prosperity beyond the four years of work contracted, and that such a large effort will attract settlement into the area and will make this state even more powerful and vibrant than it already is. Thank you for your time, and remember:"
The small crowd gathered for the speech chanted out what they expected Lavender to say:
"Never, Never, Never Give Up!"
- "So be it: You have been sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against penguinkind."
The courtroom sat silent. Members of the prosecution jostled around happily in their seats. Members of the defense slouched in their seats, hanging their heads in defeat.
Yet another convicted terrorist who fought in the Antarctic War on Terror had just been sentenced by the Antarctic Tribunal of Justice. It was a criminal court that had been established just a few months ago, in July of 2018, after three years of debate and negotiation within the UAN. The concept of an international tribunal was first conceived after the Pengslo Trials and the Vonkouver Trials, and was modeled strongly after the latter. Most UAN nations had agreed that the tribunal's decisions would be legally binding, and many powerful countries such as the USA stated that they were willing to use military force to uphold these decisions.
The Antarctic Tribunal of Justice, often abbreviated as the ATJ, had been making news quite a bit recently. Many high-level criminals from the Antarctic War on Terrorism had been convicted without much push-back and these convictions were widely praised. However, many observers also considered the ATJ to engage in "activist justice".
- The tribunal tried to bring King Carlos to court for crimes committed by Franco's regime committed in 1975.
- They tried to prosecute Simon McClark for actions committed by his predecessor during the Snowinn Civil War.
- They had attempted to charge Lavender for his involvement in the Great Yowien War.
Luckily, none of these activist moves had succeeded, but nonetheless many of Antarctica's top politicians were on edge about being brought in front of the tribunal and actually being found guilty. Everyone was scared and on their best behavior. Leaks were being crushed harder than ever. Every leader in Antarctica was trying their darnedest to keep their records as clean as possible, for they knew there were consequences to be had if they even had a connection to crimes of the past.
Everyone was on edge, especially Lavender.
"Hey Bro, I'm home!"
Bro's pet puffle, Roebling, had just come back from a dangerous reconnaissance mission in Snowzerland on behalf of the SIA. Roebling had recently joined the SIA in an elite puffle division. He was rising the ranks quickly due to his connections to the former Shopper president. He hopped into the kitchen, where Bro was eating breakfast.
Bro: "How'd your mission go, buddy?"
Roebling: "I collected a lot of intel about Snoss garrisons in Zurich and sent that info the the PFLS. They're saying that they're planning on staging an attack soon, so my division head said that I may very well be sent back sometime soon."
Bro: "Well, that's cool. You think you'll be home for my birthday?"
Roebling: "I wouldn't miss that for the world, Bro; you know that!"
Bro: "I know bud, I'm just teasing you. You look tired - go get some sleep!"
Roebling: "Okay. I'll come down later. See ya."
Bro: "Get some rest - you deserve it!"
Chapter One: Breaking News
Construction on the new dam was well underway soon after Lavender's groundbreaking ceremony. The first order of business in the construction process was to carve two diversion tunnels through the mountains flanking either side of the river. These diversion tunnels would be used to re-route the water past the dam site while it was being built. Boring holes for diversion tunnels was a tough process, and the contractor ended up using a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), which was essentially a massive self-propelled drill, to get the job done.
Luckily, the rock that was being bored through was of rather low-quality and the contractor was making quick work out of boring the tunnels on both sides of the river. Everything was going swimmingly, and the project was ahead of schedule. That is, until the crew on the North side of the river came across an unexpected obstacle.
TBM Operator: "Huh, this is strange..."
Inspector: "What is it?"
TBM Operator: "This part of the tunnel is breaking through much more easily."
Inspector: "The geotechnical investigations showed that resistance should be standard for fractured granite."
TBM Operator: "I mean, I'm not complaining. It allows me to get my job done faster."
Inspector: "Regardless, you'd be best advised to stop drilling for a bit while I go out and see what's up."
The operator temporarily stopped drilling, and the inspector hopped outside of the TBM to see what was causing the lack of resistance. The crew's foreman didn't take long to see that something was wrong. He confronted the inspector wondering why he had stopped the drilling.
Foreman: "What in blazes are you doing? Why are we not drilling? Do you have any idea how much these stupid shutdowns cost us!?"
Inspector: "Just hold on. Give me that pickaxe over there."
The foreman handed the inspector a pickaxe which was sitting by the tunnel wall. He started hacking away at the rock face, much to the foreman's disapproval.
Foreman: "You must be joking."
Inspector: "Be quiet, this is serious-"
With just a few swings of the pickaxe, the inspector broke down a large section of the rock face. On the other side was a cavern, which was not accounted for during the initial investigations. Everyone was quite intrigued. The inspector crawled into the cavern and pulled out a flashlight; he couldn't believe his eyes.
Inspector: "By Jove, look at these carvings on the walls! They look ancient! How could we have not known these were here?"
Foreman: "There were no records of any obstructions of voids in the rock according to the contract. You better believe we're gonna charge you up the wazoo for this delay!"
Inspector: "These look like historical artifacts. By law, I must order a stop to the work until this site can be properly investigated."
Foreman: "You've got to be kidding me..."
Meanwhile, in Shops City, president Lavender was in the middle of a meeting with delegates from the Common Legislature, as part of his weekly tradition to keep the legislative leadership up to date on domestic and international issues.
Lavender: "Any word on that pesky UAN tribunal?"
Advisor: "Nothing new on that front, sir. At least, nothing that would pose a problem for us."
Lavender: "Oh? Please, do elaborate."
Chief of Staff: "The ATJ is currently focusing their efforts elsewhere. The latest reports we got from Governor Ricci show that they've set their eyes on Acadia for the time being."
Chief of Staff: "Presumably, yes."
Advisor: "Yes, sir. March 15th is the tentative date."
Lavender: "Excellent. Be sure to get the kitchen to order up a couple crates of orange juice. I would hate to see such a distinguished diplomat go thirsty under my watch."
Advisor: "Yes, sir."
LMGT: "Hey Lavender, can you come with us for a minute?"
Lavender: "Certainly. Excuse me, gentlemen."
Lavender waddled out of the conference room, and began to walk down the hallway alongside LMGT.
Lavender: "If you pulled me out of my weekly briefing, something big must be going on. What's new?"
LMGT: "We're getting reports from the Chad Thunderbeak dam project; work has temporarily been halted."
Lavender: "I don't see why that warranted dragging me out of a meeting, LMGT. Care to explain?"
LMGT: "It's classified. I'd prefer we not talk about it out in the open."
Lavender: "Okay, we'll go the Triangle Office and talk about it, then."
The president and SIA director made their way towards Lavender's prestigious office, which was the centerpiece of the whole administrative complex in Shops City Square. Clearly something big had been uncovered if it justified pulling Lavender out of one of his most important weekly briefings.
Bro was with his puffle Roebling in his kitchen. It was dinner time, and they were watching the evening news while eating, as is tradition. Bro had tried cooking "roast duck", a new delicacy which had recently become quite popular across Shops Island. There was a slight problem, however: Bro was a terrible cook, and as such had burnt and charred the duck far beyond a simple "roast". He grabbed the food off the frying skillet, and served it for himself and Roebling.
Roebling: "Are you seeing this news, Bro? They discovered something at this new dam!"
Bro: "Yes, Roebling. I just heard the headline, too. I don't see the big deal about it... It's just a few tunnels, anyone could have put those there."
Roebling: "If they're hiring archaeologists for it, it must be pretty important."
Bro: "Why, are you thinking about signing up?"
Roebling: "I was considering it."
Bro: "Fine by me, as long as you aren't dragging a bunch of fossils in the house and dirtying up the place. Also, how do you like the roast duck?"
Roebling: "It's bloody awful."
Bro: "Thanks, I worked hard to cook it! Ungrateful fluffball, why i ought to..."
Roebling: "What was that?"
Bro: "Nothing. I'll try not to burn it as much next time."
To be continued!