Chapter 1: The Confederation of Elm Street
Hawk sighed, shifting his weight in the uncomfortable chair. He hated this. Hawk had been many things in his life, he had been "Private Hawk," "PFC Hawk," "Sergeant Hawk," he had become "General Hawk" after that affair with the Orange Empire, but "President Hawk?" He could take forced marches, enemy fire, and dangerous covert missions, what he could not take was politics. "Sarge" as he still like to be called, had been a devoted soldier all his plastic life, unquestioningly obeying the orders that came down to him from Green High Command. He never thought one day he would be issuing similar orders. Of course, it had never occurred to him that he would be stranded away from the homeland he loved so dear either.
It wasn't as if the title "President" meant anything out here anyway. Not much had meaning in the untamed wilderness of "New Plastica." Besides, President of what? Of a few groups of disparate plastic soldiers who had stopped quibbling amongst themselves long enough to sign a constitution creating the "Confederation of Elm Street?" A nation that spanned a total of eight giant "houses" on either side of a major thoroughfare, a landmass, in toy soldier measurements, of roughly four square miles? Still, he had been elected to lead these plastics, he had a duty to fulfill, no matter how much he missed his Green Country.
"-demand that we be allowed special rights pertaining to the distribution of raw plastic-"
Sarge, exasperated, suddenly cut off the delegate, "Senator, no one's getting special privileges. All parties, the "Wolverines" included, are equal members of the Confederacy, with equal rights."
"Then we have no choice but to withdraw our military and the house we control from your "Confederation" Mr. President."
"Razz, you and I both know such a move would do you more harm than good. Without the added military protection and resources the Confederacy offers, how long do you think 1619 Elm Street will remain in your hands? Just whose tanks do you think patrol your yard? The very next Raider attack, or insect infestation would overwhelm you, and I can assure you, should you pursue such a course of action, no help would be forthcoming from the other houses and principalities that make up the Confederacy. Think about your own future. I'll see you in the Senate chambers." At this obvious dismissal, the delegate, Razz, a Grey, stood up and left Hawk's office.
God I hate politics.
It had all happened so fast. That fateful day he had just returned from a four planet tour of goodwill with Tina Tomorrow; the Green Republic and Galactic Alliance were showing off their two most decorated war heroes. Thinking back on that time caused him a stab of regret, Tina and he had made plans afterwards to do a more "private" trip, away from all the fanfare and intrusive press coverage of their bravery.
It had been mere moments after she disappeared into the portal, promising to return in a week, and leaving a lingering kiss on his battle-scarred plastic face. He was walking to the door of the building that housed the portal, and turned back just in time to see the portal contort. He had watched, fascinated, as the blue energy twisted and writhed, flexing outward and doubling back onto itself. Suddenly it began to shrink, emitting a horrible screeching sound as it began sucking air into itself. A Green technician, unlucky enough to be nearby, was sucked into the collapsing portal. Sarge only escaped a similar fate by grabbing the doorway and holding on for dear life, even as he was lifted almost horizontal by the incredible gravitonic forces centered in the portal.
When it was over, not even the artificial frame constructed around the portal remained.
He soon learned similar incidents all across the known world had occurred, no portal remained, no messages from the other side came through. They were alone. Immediately after the "Cataclysm" as plastics now were wont to call it, all hell broke loose. The Tan forces on New Plastica, assuming some sort of Green conspiracy, used the incident as an excuse to repudiate the tenuous cease-fire, and launched a furious planet-wide offensive against Green forces and colonies. Numerous splinter groups and extremist factions, who before had only been kept in check by the enormous power wielded by the Green Republic and Galactic Alliance, exploited the new power vacuum and made punitive wars of conquest and committed acts of terrorism.
Sarge was quick to recover and analyze the situation. He wasted no time in rallying the still loyal Green forces and consolidating them into an easily defensible, and resource rich territory; the neighborhood around Elm Street. After repelling two Tan attacks on what Sarge still referred to as "Green Command in New Plastica" he began to expand the amount of territory the Greens controlled, assimilating four other factions into the precarious alliance that finally became, officially, The Confederation of Elm Street.
After a full year now of almost constant strife and warfare, struggling to maintain civilization as the waves of barbarism lapped hungrily at the shore, Hawk had almost despaired of ever leaving New Plastica. Of course he devoted every spare resource to researching what went wrong with the portals, and how to reactivate them, but since scarcely anything had been known about them before the Cataclysm, progress proceeded at a maddeningly glacial pace.
Even more maddening, the expansion of the Confederacy had been slowed by political infighting. It had all begun with the decision to include the first non-toy soldier political entity in the Confederacy, a small nation of "Legos" that controlled a strategic house on the corner of the block. Many of the other factions in the Confederacy reacted with xenophobic hatred, deaf to Sarge's arguments that the move made strategic sense, and that new times required new modes of thinking. The Senate had been a figurative battleground over the last week, with delegates from the different factions arguing vehemently for and against the proposal.
Backing Sarge's proposed alliance were the senators of the Green faction, by far the largest voting bloc in the Confederacy, constituting nearly 60 percent of the nation's population, and the senators from the FreeWorld faction, a group consisting of a mixture of Green, Blue, Grey, Red and White toy soldiers committed to maintaining political liberty at all costs.
Arrayed against him were the three newest factions to be included in the Confederation; the Grey mercenary group "The Wolverines" of which Razz was a delegate, the infocratic Blue state of "NueBleu," and the Green splinter faction "Rogue."
Unfortunately, each of the five factions was accorded an equal vote in the senate, a decision Hawk now regretted making, and so if the Confederation was to keep expanding, and not fade into oblivion, Hawk needed the vote of the delegates from at least one more faction.
He glanced at his watch and stood up with a sigh. Time to face the music.
The Senate was located at 1614 Elm Street, in the capitol house of the Confederation. The basement had been designated the seat of government for the fledgling nation, as it could survive sustained bombardment by all but the most deadly weapons and, with only one way in, it was easily defensible. The capitol city, illuminated by the artificial suns of the fluorescent bulbs above, was an untidy sprawl of half-finished and hastily erected buildings, mostly cardboard, but with some newer wood and brick buildings here and there. The cacophony of construction and debris clearing continued day and night; the basement was a hive of activity, with raw materials coming down the stairs and cranes and helicopters lifting stone, wood and cardboard into place.
It was a short walk from the Green House, the official residence of the president, to the Senate chambers located in the Capitol building, and Sarge used the time to collect his thoughts. Trailed by two ever-present security guards, he mulled over his proposed course of action. It would be dangerous, and convincing the other Green representatives to go along with his plan wasn't going to be easy. But he had no other choice! If he couldn't get the fledgling Confederacy to recognize the importance of unity, all they had worked for would be lost, and the next catastrophe or invasion would return this outpost of Plastican civilization to the abyss of barbarity, genocide and a brutish fight for bare survival.
Sarge was stopped outside the half-finished capitol building by a stern-faced green guard. Despite his easily recognizable visage, Sarge had insisted that all visitors be checked thoroughly before being granted entry; one can never have too many precautions. Sarge showed the guard his papers and was waved through the barbed wire barrier and onto the steps of the capitol. When it was finished, the capitol building would be an imposing and grand structure. Already it dominated the basement and the Lilliputian scattering of buildings surrounding it. Modeled after the capitol building of Green City, back on Plastica, it would soon boast a magnificent dome, topped with a golden flagpole and the standard of the Confederation, a green, blue and grey flag with a snarling "dog" and the motto, "A Light in the Darkness" inscribed beneath it.
Sarge entered the building and turned right to go to the temporary Senate Chambers, an unprepossessing room used by the lawmakers until the main Chambers and their magnificent dome were completed. He could already tell by the level of noise emanating from behind the closed door that it was going to be a long session. As he walked into the Chambers the level of noise remained, and he observed several of the hundred or so senators out of their seats and gesticulating wildly at each other. He ascended the steps to the Speaker's podium and, when the shouting and speaking continued, brought the gavel down on the wooden surface hard.
No one noticed. "Gentleman! Senators, please!" he struggled to be heard above the uproar. This was too much, he gazed at the gathered politicians with mounting anger. Couldn't they at least be civil? He tried once more to get their attention with the gavel, but everyone ignored him, continuing their vehement arguments. Alright, he thought, enough. He slowly unholstered his standard issue sidearm, aimed it at the ceiling, and fired off three shots in quick succession.
The Chambers became deathly silent as the surprised lawmakers turned towards Sarge. He smiled sardonically, "Gentleman, I hereby call this 4th session of the Confederacy Congress to order."