A Public Hearing on Oasis' Change of Leadership

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    Marshall Nystrom

    (Context: Three weeks ago, the attack from the Old Masters and a group of cyborgs penetrated deep into Oasis and resulted in much of the Fringe – as well as many other citizens – having a fragment of their souls stolen, the Council dying, and Duke appointing a council of three to oversee the city and himself Commander over them. Magistrate Sheppard, former Councilman Rex, and Kestrel the Siren are serving as the Triumvirate.

    Since then, over much protest from the nobility and assembled merchants, Duke has reformed the Oasis Milita into the Oasis Military and conscripted many of the guards the nobles and merchants kept on payroll, as well as several mercenary groups that were stationed in the city. There are reports of one attempted coup on Duke’s command – Lord Danny Hokan, with his guards, tried to ambush and assassinate the former Sheriff, and was unsuccessful. Hokan is now in Oasis’s jail, and the guards that assisted the attempt have been split up and spread throughout the military.

    The military has been fighting off frequent raids – often multiple per day – against the technologically advanced forces of cyborgs and Old Masters. The mages among the defenders are still weakened by the dissonance in the paths. Beefed up by the extra forces and resources, they’ve been holding the line – only a couple of raids have made it beyond the wall in the last three weeks, and Duke has countered both forces personally before they made it far, drawing fire away from civilians and military alike until reinforcements arrived. For the most part, the citizens of Oasis have been neutral about the change – some rankle at having the freedom to wander the night taken from them, but the extra security provided by the military patrols during the curfew hours has been a welcomed change. The city was left shaken by the attack, and the feeling that something is being done has helped the populace calm down.)

    The rubble of the old Town Council building has been cleared away, and the area has been turned into an amphitheatre of sorts, with a central stage with four podiums. Kestrel, Sheppard, and Rex stand at the front three, and Duke at the podium at the back of the stage. There’s a decent sized crowd assembled already, with a group of nobles having taken over a section of the seating, the merchants another, and various citizens filling out much of the rest. There’s a sizeable policing force present, military troops conscripted for peacekeeping duty under the command of Acting Sheriff Kei.

    As representatives and denizens of the Fringe arrive, the hubbub gets louder, swelling until Duke raises a hand. There are jeers from the nobles, but after a few seconds, the crowd settles down to listen. Duke’s voice is strong and self-assured, breaking out over the remaining noise.

    “Citizens of Oasis, thank you for coming – I realize that the official notices left something to be desired in terms of clarity, so now that we have a minute to breathe, let’s talk about what this change in leadership entails. Please hold your questions until the end.

    “First of all, the reasoning behind moving to this new governing system. If it were simply a matter of the old Council being corrupt and having a traitor amidst its members, this wouldn’t be necessary, but it was a system set up to encourage corruption. No antitrust laws, the ability for a single member of the Council to stonewall the proceedings to the point that no legislation passed – we need to do better. For right now, this is better, but I know it’s not the best we can do. I have a couple of people working on a set of actual laws, and when they’re done and we’re safe enough to manage it we can hold elections and get a new Council.

    “For now, though, we need leadership to negotiate with our allies in the Fey Courts, ORB, and other groups that stand against the Old Masters. We need a military to defend our walls and borders against Old Master invasion. We need to stand together and defend all our citizens, not just those wealthy enough to purchase protection.” At this, the grumbles from the nobility and merchants grow louder, murmurs of discontent rippling through those sections of the crowd, partially drowned out by scattered applause and assent from the poorer civilians. Duke speaks louder, raising his voice over the noise.

    “And we need to make sure that the people in charge of the town have the town’s best interests at heart. As such, at the end of this forum, you will all be able to witness the Triumvirate and myself sign a statement that we will take no action against the town’s interest, or by inaction allow such an action to take place, signed in triplicate with my Oath Pen and, if they will provide them, both Acting Sheriff Kei’s and Harp’s Path Pens.” Duke falls silent for a moment before continuing.

    “Second: the military conscription does not apply to anyone who cannot fight. I’m not interested in throwing civilians untrained into battle, and we don’t have the resources to train people in any case. The conscription is only for combat-trained individuals who aren’t doing their fair share in defending the town. Everyone who can help needs to pitch in – it’s obvious our old methods weren’t enough to protect our people. With the additional forces conscripted into service, we’ve done a pretty good job of holding the line. Not perfect, but a damn sight better than before. Those who live in the Fringe are exempt, as you’re already on the frontline – if you want to join the military proper, you’re welcome to, otherwise I’ll designate some of you as irregulars, not subject to military duties and hierarchy but given a rank so you can requestion military aid when you need it – I know y’all already deal with the most dangerous enemies, and the town would fall without your efforts, so I aim to support them however I can.

    “Third, the tax is only a slight increase over the previous system Oasis had in place, but it’s expanded to cover all transactions made by residents. I know it may look daunting at first, but the revenue generated is going directly into the defense of the town and refugee and citizen support. This is primarily because some merchants,” he says, studiously not looking at the assembled merchant representatives, “were taking advantage of loopholes in our tax laws to trade outside the city, thus not paying their fair share to aid our town, despite us providing safety and business aplenty. This will no longer be permitted. Exemptions and incentives will be provided on a case-by-case basis by the Triumvirate.

    “Finally, all official business will be handled by the Triumvirate, taking the place of the previous Council. Rex,” he says, gesturing towards the Mutant in front of him, “as the sole surviving member of the Council and the only one whom I’d trust in any case, will maintain an equivalent position. Magistrate Sheppard, as needed as he was in his previous role, is nonetheless one of the most competent and capable people, and he has also agreed to serve. Finally, Kestrel, my wife, is a representative of the healers guild and has done immense work for the town, coordinating the healers guild’s efforts and fighting with our Fringe to protect our town. She will help represent the Fringe’s needs, as well as those of the refugees. In the event that the Triumvirate is compromised, I retain the ability to overrule any command they give – the old Council was hamstrung by a traitor, and I’m the insurance against it happening again. That having been said, I’ll be hands-off unless I need to step in, and will instead be coordinating our military as its Commander.” The big cyborg nods once, then looks out over the crowd and says “We’ll take questions now.”

    Dominic Gianatassio

    Steam will be slumping a bit in the amphitheater just kinda brooding a bit but not wanting to lose his temper and make a fool of himself like last time.

    Flash Thompson

    A large shadow stepped into view at the back of the assembled crowd. Stepping forward was a man with his hood pulled up. The black jacket he wore was covered in straps, even over the hood. Black almost dragon like scaled armor could be seen in different sections over and under the jacket as well as along the man’s arms and legs. The armor was covered in white, red, and orange tendrils that seemed to snake along each piece. Oh his hip hung a long Katana and on his back a long polearm could be seen it looked oriental in style with a curved blade those who knew the weapon could place the Guandao. The man’s face was covered in a black mask with white highlights. Red and orange almost vain like tendrils criss-crossed along its surface. The mask had a deep crimson red visor that ended just above the man’s eyebrows revealing skin marked in tendrils similar to that of those running along the armor and his mask. The man moved towards the front of the crowd. Black gloved hands lifted to pull the hood away and cyborgs looking at him could tell they were gloves of human touch. The hood was pulled back revealing short hair trimmed and cut. He then lifted the mask revealing the face of Flash Thompson. His eyes bore no color as even the sclera were pure black. The multi colored tendrils along his face bore the shape of the upside down anarchy symbol he had adopted as his own. Flash looked up at Duke “I want to know what the hell made you think this was your job to do? Who made YOU the moral compass of us? That you just get to declare yourself in charge and the rest of us are to just fall in line?”

    Chumley (Jerry Cornelius)

    Jerry, dressed in a dark brown duster, black outback fedora that was a little dusty, muddy combat boots, dirty work pants, and twin pistol drop-holsters, stands to the back of one side of the room. Watching the events unfold. he pulls out a flask and cup, pours a drink for himself, and drinks while the proceedings continue. every now and again, he shakes his head.

    Jessie Nystrom

    Kestrel sighs. Scenes like this were one of the reason she hoped that she’d had time to talk to her friends since she’d found a quick way to and from Serenus. Dark circles lined the underside of the siren’s eyes, the struggle of balancing the needs of two homes was wearing on her.

    “Then tell me Flash, what part of this plan would you have us do differently? No one here is interested in being a tyrant, only temporarily foregoing the hurdles that kept those who wanted to help from doing so. Duke fully intends to step away from power, but right now we’re in imminent danger which requires immediate action. All of us prefer a democratically elected leading body, but elections take time we don’t have right now. As soon as this particular threat is passed and we have a moment to breathe, we will be holding elections.

    In the mean time, as a member of the Triumvirate, I want to hear from you all. If the decisions we make don’t align with your moral compass, tell me. Many of you know me, you know that I am not an unreasonable person and am happy to listen to what you have to say and take it into full consideration. Please, work with us, not against us. We just want to help.”

    Flash Thompson

    Flash sighed deeply as Kestrel addressed him. His anger and demeanor seemed to lower a few notches as even the armor he wore almost took on a softer look. She was after all on Venom’s list of “Cute” creatures and Flash could not bring himself to be angry towards her. “The conscription of people against their will is wrong. As the notice said “Testing people for skills.”” Flash shook his head. “On my world they did this to people and took them from families and homes, forced them to fight and die….. I get it the “private security.”” As Flash said this he shot a look towards the Trade guild. “They should have helped more, but to force it…. To demand and strip people of the right to just not fight or to fight for who they wish to…. Is wrong. We of our little outpost have put our lives on the line dozens of times…. We have fought against the hardest fights there are out there to keep you all safe… but it was our choice.” Flash shook his head. “Those who would throw away liberties for a little safety deserve nether liberty, or safety. “The greater good” as they call it… Is something we have to choose to make, not force others to fight for….. How much more? How much further until farmers… the weak and poor are pulled from homes and swords shoved into their hands and are told. “You’re fighting because we said so.” This is a slippery slope.” Flash ran a hand through his hair. “I have watched this sort of thing bring about war on my world… Friends fighting, brothers killing each other for the “Greater good” I lived through it…. Twice.”

    Jessie Nystrom

    “And I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. We all should be free to fly where we will. It has already been addressed by Duke that those with no combat capabilities, such as farmers, the weak, and poor, will not be conscripted. This is only a measure to make sure private forces that previously sat by while the city burned would no longer be allowed to do that. If we can come up with a better policy to discourage holding back private forces from the city’s defense then we will replace the conscription order with that policy. In the mean time the reality is that we don’t have the manpower to keep our people safe without those additional forces.” A small frown creased its way onto her brow. You could practically see the gears turning. “I will definitely be exploring other avenues, like I said, I agree with heart of what you’re saying. It just may take a little time to make our ideals function in a way that still keeps everyone safe.”

    Flash Thompson

    Flash sighed deeply. “It never starts out like that but…. The best of intentions as they say.” He replaced the visor over his face. “I will keep fighting, keep doing what I can to keep the people safe…. Like the hero I once was, and that means…” The visor moved a little looking in the direction of more Duke. “Against every one that would cause harm.” He pulled the hood back over his head and turned, moving back through the crowd.

    Jessie Nystrom

    All she could do was blink for a second. It was frustrating and confusing to see such animosity towards Duke but not herself when she was saying the same things he was, but she supposed time and action would prove what she was saying and hopefully the anger towards her love would die down.

    “Any other concerns we can address?” the Siren’s yellow eyes swept across the crowd, pausing briefly on faces she recognized. Once this was all done she would have to say hello to Steam and Jerry. Even in dire circumstances she was glad she was able to both be here with her friends and help at home on Serenus.

    Adam Bacon

    Duglaz had stayed back in the nose bleed section. He watched everyone’s actions and the outrage. He was right along with Flash though not as full of bravado. “Flashy Flash.” He muttered to himself. He sat one leg crossed over the other but both legs kicked up on the back of an empty seat. He made a mental note of how everyone acted and how they felt about everything.

    “I wonder if that old tactic would work?” He mused to himself. Right now was not the time but maybe he could help in other ways. He stayed relaxed looking he didn’t care but those privy to his quirks would know he was calculating.


    During everything Kei keeps himself quiet at his spot in front of the stage. He’s off to the side so he’s not blocking any of the Tribunal members or Duke but he’s keeping himself close just to be safe. It also allows him the best veiw to see people’s faces, dark blue eyes overlooking the crowd for the most part but focussing upon his friends as he sees them.

    When Flash starts talking his black tipped ears will go back a bit. He hates the tension there and the animosity shown towards Duke. It doesn’t help anyone. There is little he can do though. He’s very much stuck in the middle with this whole thing and knows his words may have very little hold even to Flash if it goes against his views on this. For now he just does his job, overwatching everything and keeping and ear and eye out for his workforce. If he caught anything going sideways he wanted to get on top of it and calm it as quickly as possible.

    Ellie (Shy’ah)

    Shy’ah steps forwards, hood down so that people can see her face. Her long thick sapphire hair is done up in that rope braid she’s so fond of using. Her pistols are at her hips, as is his sword sheathed. Between the armor she wears and the clothes she looks very post-apocalyptic, though she dresses in mostly black colors. She is calm, and confidence radiates from within her, even if her belly is full of butterflies. Her hazel eyes look up at the Triumvirate from the back of the crowd with concern and of course she holds a lot of fear of making herself noticeable, considering how little she’s contributed so far to the Fringe and how much her old world started going down hill just like this. And yet, she knows because of her old world’s fate, she must speak.

    “Forgive me for speaking if it is considered out of turn,” Shy’ah begins, quite politically for the usual sassy sailor-mouthed girl the fringe has gotten to know. Her tone is calm yet confident. It is clear she is calling on whatever monk training that remains instilled in her. “I am Shy’ah Moonbeam, and I am new to the fringe. I’m another portal drop of as it were. And in a way I count it as a blessing. See in my world it is a dictatorship, as my friends fear this will become. And why should they not when it started back home just like this. My people, psions, were committed to genocide by this dictatorship.” She pauses to allow the crowd to soak that in as she takes a deep breath. “I do not accuse you four of doing this or intending to go down that dark path, but I do ask…if you are wrong, if you are just leading yourselves on and end up being the cause of something terrible, what contingencies can you offer the people that do not extend to just to your Triumvirate and military veto?” Shy’ah sighs glancing over to Flash and offering him a gentle smile. “As my, not so calm friend pointed out, this is a slippery slope. When does the time of crisis end? When the Old Masters are destroyed and their armies with them? When the raiding bandits are ended to? And if a new threat presents itself with will the Triumvirate still post pone elections or will they concede power even still? Will this continue until all the enemies of the Oasis that ever were and ever will be are removed from being a threat? If so what does mean to be a threat? And if, gods forbid, you all four do lose your way and become such a threat, what force could contend to keep you in check so that you do not become the enemy of the Oasis? I don’t believe there is anything that could stop you. I do believe your intentions are true, but it is so rare that in these situations people in power keep their promises after the danger has passed.” She pauses again inhaling a shaky breath. “I’m sure you’ve asked yourselves these same questions. You would not presume to lead in this trying time if you hadn’t. But I concerned none the less, and I know I’m not the only one, so I would ask to hear your thoughts on these worries of an genocide survivor, if you do not mind.”

    Flash Thompson

    Flash walked to the back of the crowd, his hands sliding into his packets as he soot listening to the whispers of the crowd and the words of Shy’ah. Letting out a deep sigh he closed his eyes. The symbiotes spoke in his head each one voice its opinion on Flash’s next action. He shook his head as the red tendrils along his whole form moved and writhed. The black tendrils moved as well and Flash sighed deeply once more. “This is not what we were expecting.” Flash said to himself.

    Marshall Nystrom

    Duke flicks his microphone back on, nodding to address the blue-haired woman.

    “No forgiveness needed, Shy’ah. Your questions and concerns are the reason we’re having this event.” The cyborg looks out across the crowd, noting the familiar faces.

    “Many of you know me only as Sheriff Duke, some only as Commander Duke. I arrived here as a refugee myself just over a year ago, with my wife and the entire farming co-op that I helped guard. We were welcomed by the city and given land to continue farming, and with the farmers safely inside the city I devoted my efforts to protecting the Fringe. A few of you know me from there, from the long days I spent helping Kel, Harp, Alina, Steam, Prism, and all the others defend the town against the first assaults from the Old Masters, as well as a horde of imps, vampires from the Baron, and all manner of other creatures. Those who’ve known me the longest here can attest to the fact that if there’s one thing I can be guaranteed not to do, it’s allow innocents to come to harm.

    “I don’t consider myself to be in political power, at the moment. This Triumvirate will be handling all of the political needs of the city. I’m just a check on them, the guarantee against their abuse of power. You ask when we’ll be done with this system and be ready to elect a Council once more? Once we’re well-enough protected that people can actually meet the potential council members before elections were held. I, for one, certainly didn’t have a chance to get to know Rex, Scholar, or the other council members before they were elected – a three-minute stump speech from each was all the context we were given before their elections, and we all know how that turned out.” Duke gestures to the amphitheater around him, taking in the exposed pipes jutting out of the ground in a few areas, the rubble that’s been re-purposed into stands, the scars of magical fire, explosives, and bullets across the walls.

    “Once we have a better system planned, we’ll transition to it. I don’t want this to stand any more than y’all do – I’m just doing what it takes to protect the people in this town. You want something better? Design it. Prove to me that it’s less vulnerable than what we have now, and we’ll surrender power to it as soon as we can put it in place.

    “You say this is a slippery slope, that there could easily be abuses of power – well, that’s what I’m here to stop. Most of you know me, and know I’m steadfast, dependable, and honest to a fault. If the Triumvirate starts slipping, I’ll haul them back up and set them straight. If I should ever succumb to the temptations of power and start working against the interests of the town, I should hope that the Fringe would do what it does best,” he says, casting a wry smile towards Flash, “and remove me. Until then, we’re going to keep this city safe.” He looks across the assembled merchants and nobility. “We’re all going to keep this city safe.”


    Riddlewise emerges from the back of the area, walking slowly but deliberately, neither flaunting or hiding his power.

    “The question I will ask this government is the same I’ve asked of others. How will you make me comply? Shall I do so because I should? Because you offer me something? Because you will kill me if I don’t? Or better, you have a prison that will keep me? You have a good plan for governing ordinary people. The Fringe does not have those people easily to hand. “

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