O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee...
...That was her cue. Reflexively clearing her throat, Prime Minister Campbell glanced between the tall, broadly built redhead to her right, the two heavily armoured soldiers distantly to the sides of her, and then, finally, the grizzled old ghoul sitting some distance ahead of her, a headset sitting atop his head. She could just barely see his face from behind the enormous array of refurbished pre-war radio equipment huddled about him, from control panels to Toronto-made computers, wires, and microphones. He gave her a thumbs-up, glad in his impeccably tailored grey suit, shockingly shiny white teeth outlining the inside of his smile. Camera operators stood to each side, fiddling with controls she was frankly miles away from understanding.
Still, it was a start. In the distance, outside of the grand windows of the Legislative Building, she could even see the towering edifice of the CN tower from where all this was being transmitted.
"Good morning, citizens of Southern Ontario, the rest of Canada, or wherever else in the wasteland you might be listening from. Thank you for joining us today for our national anthem, and for the morning news - some of you might even be lucky enough to look at me right now." she continued, offering a smile and a wave as she endeavoured to avoid staring too long at the large, muscular redhead sitting beside her. Allison McKinley.
"We've begun the process of experimenting with a television network, and are in the process of rolling out the necessary infrastructure. For many of us - including myself - I'm afraid we'll be forced to wait some time before we can enjoy the full capabilities of the Cee-Enn Tower. That, however, isn't the only reason why I'm speaking to you today. Even if you intend to tune in for the Governor General's speech later today - which I strongly encourage you to do - I implore you to listen."
She quietly cleared her throat, sipping from a nearby glass of purified water.
"We, as citizens of Canada, have made incredible progress in returning civilization to the wasteland. Many people have come here seeking that civilization, that safety from the predation of raiders, that access to food and clean drinking water... It can be difficult, however, to supply so much to so many in such a short time. I want to assure you, however, that we are confident we can do so, and are endeavouring to bring additional pre-war water treatment plants back online to help keep people from getting thirsty. For the rest, we encourage you to contact your local agricultural office - we are always looking for new farmers, and are willing and ready to help our newest citizens get their lives started helping to keep all of our bellies full. Bell and the rest of the scientists at the University are also hard at work on innovative new scientific solutions, and plans to resettle Ottawa are proceeding well." She said, offering a warm smile toward the cameras as she straightened her bright red tie.
"Next, with this year's hockey season in full swing, I want to wish all the participants good luck, whether you're playing at the Scotiabank Arena or elsewhere. We all have our favourite teams, each one gunning for the Cup - however, as a Toronto native, I know the Leafs are going to win. Easy." She joked, chuckling under breath. "I'm kidding, of course - good luck to all of you."
Suddenly, she leaned forward in her chair, resting her forearms on the table as she brought her hands together. The smile faded from her expression, leaving naught but a nearly flat, almost angry line.
"There are, however, other important matters I want to address, and the reasons why I've decided to make this address outside of the usual schedule. First, the Gunners. As many of you know, we've recently established a diplomatic relationship with a band of former - I repeat, former - Gunners based out of the town of Almont, New York. They have mutual interests with us, and have been a great help in protecting local river trade and improving the lives of people in the Great Lakes Wasteland. The Gunners as a whole, however, have not, and we wish to ensure our citizens and those living nearby that Gunner aggression will not be tolerated under any circumstances. We have dealt with the Talon Company because they hurt innocent people, and we are fully prepared to repeat that success." She said, speaking with a forceful, yet moderated tone, her voice coming across quite clearly, at least compared to most radio stations in the wasteland. The survival of the CN tower was to thank for that - and most of its relatively high quality equipment. Every subtle shift of her voice was carried by the microphones, yet the windscreens kept her breath from polluting the airwaves.
She took in a deep breath, as if to calm herself. She did feel angry, of course, but it couldn't hurt to play it up a little for the cameras.
"That's the exact reason why I've brought Brigadier General McKinley with me today, in fact. Travelers have informed us - and some of the pathfinders under her command have confirmed - high levels of Enclave activity around the Louisville area. General?" She asked, turning to face her. Allison nodded, quickly speaking, her tone far more casual and relaxed than the Prime Minister's.
"That's correct, Prime Minister. Based on the information we've gathered, the Enclave has begun a relatively sudden campaign of rapid, sometimes forceful expansion. The rumours trickling out of the region are telling us their leadership's despotic, controlled by a single person... They have more veritbirds than I've seen in a very long time, too, and they've been exterminating anything they deem a raider left and right." Allison nodded, idly drumming her gloved fingers on the table next to her all the while. "Now, of course, in my experience, putting a bullet in everything that you think might be a raider produces a lot of dead innocents, especially when you're supposedly wiping out the groups wholesale. Slaves, prisoners, isolationist tribals who just want to be left alone..." She absentmindedly suggested. Her tone was hardly assertive, but the implication was obvious to anyone listening as she gave a slight, almost dismissive shrug of her broad shoulders.
"Thank you, General. Now, here's the issue - we, as Canadians, have experienced some of the worst impacts of the activity of this "Enclave", but Americans have suffered just as equally, if not worse. Before the Great War, they suffered at the whims of an authoritarian government that seemed hellbent on destroying its own people. They were victimized after the war in much the same way, by Enclave after Enclave. Sometimes, they were marginally less racist towards them than before. Sometimes, they were far worse. They never worked for the people of the wasteland, not really. Even now, this news tells us that they're hiding behind the same cloaks of false security as before, oppressing the people of the wasteland, placing the survivors under a polished bootheel. People of the wasteland, I implore you, do not be fooled by the polish!" She barked. "The Enclave is just as marred by the filth of authoritarianism and fascism as Caesar's Legion, or any other Enclave. They are still a band of dictators that have no right to the land they claim to own. They lost their chance, I say, when the Great War nearly killed us all, or perhaps the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of times they massacred innocent people. We must not let this happen again. It is for that reason that I'm reminding all of you that Toronto offers a bounty of one thousand caps - minimum - for the heads of any Enclave military personnel you cannot persuade to lay down their arms and surrender. It is also for that reason that I will, in no uncertain terms, declare that Toronto will not allow Canada to fall under the American yoke a second time. That, whoever it is that leads that band of vile murderers, is not a mere promise. It is a pure, simple, fact." She said - and then, finally, smacked her fist against the table.
The red light finally went out as she stood, turning to face Allison as she, also, stood. Allison took a step forward, bending down to bring herself to eye-level with Charlotte, her dull eyes and chestnut hair a stark contrast to Allison's bright strawberry orange and emerald eyes. Their skin was, perhaps, the most similar feature, each pale and covered with scattered freckles.
"How did I do?" Charlotte asked.
Allison simply responded by leaning in to plant a kiss on the Prime Minister's lips.
"Great. You did great." She responded.