Ray looked up from his small plasma-ray computer at the door. He breathed out a huge sigh and bellowed for whoever was knocking to come in, and in walked in young Brett Bion accompanied by two other older gentlemen. Brett was a young orphan who Black had employed as an assistant of sorts, mostly running errands and little jobs he couldn’t be bothered with. The two other men, however, were not from Wildbank – in fact, it was the first time Ray had seen them before. He tensed up a little at the sight of them, and signaled to Brett to stay in the room. They were in Ray’s new office, right behind the newly constructed Wildbank Town Hall, where all the town meetings and functions took place.
Ray Black: How may I help you, gentlemen?
Randolf Cross (Introducing himself): Howdy, Im Randolf Cross, and I hear you’re the leader of this here town.
Ray Black (Agitated): How are you, Mr. Cross. You didn’t answer my question, though. How may I help you?
Randolf Cross: We’re from the Haven Republic. Here’s our credentials if you’d like to see them. We’ve come to make sure everything’s in order and to inform you that starting next month, we’ll begin collecting tax on income and a general fixed tax. Furthermore, the Haven Republic is claiming back all land, and will also become a majority shareholder in all private businesses. Please fill out this paper work and make sure everyone in the town does the same.
Ray Black (Looking over the papers, then calmly hands them back): I ain’t filling out anything, Mr. Cross.
Randolf Cross (Eying Ray): Mr. Black, it is not a matter of choice. These are laws that have been implemented by the Haven Republic under approval of His Excellency, the President Hans Drake. This is going to happen. Not filling these papers and signing them will be a breach of the law, which is punishable by jail sentences and even death.
Ray Black: What you are proposing is basically taking away all of our income and profiting more from our businesses than we are.
Randolf Cross (Yelling): Mr. Black! I am NOT proposing anything. I am ORDERING you by the power given to me by the Haven Republic government to fill out these forms or so help you…
Ray Black (Jumps over his desk and grabs Cross by the neck): Listen here, boy. Where the hell was the Haven Republic when we warded off attack after attack from crooks like you, and where will you be when, inevitably, someone else comes in to cause us harm? I’m not signing anything, and neither is anyone else in this town. I bought my land fair and square from your government, and I have worked my ass off making sure these businesses provide for me, and the people I employ. You are not taking anything away from us. Now get the hell out of here before I get angry.
Randolf Cross (Choking): You have just attacked an employee of the Haven Republic, and you have just made the biggest mistake of your life refusing to sign these papers. We will get what we want, a lot sooner than later. Good day, Mr. Black.
Tiberius Driver: I doubt the Haven Republic has the resources or the interest to send troops so far out from Janneh City to collect a little bit of money from such a small place. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, cowboy.
Ray Black (nervous and antsy, walking around the room): Say they did…then what? We gonna attack the army? This ain’t like dealin’ with Benstrike and his goons.
Tiberius Driver: Relax, Ray. I’ve been doing some work with our radar, and we can track anyone approaching the town from two hundred miles away. That fool was bluffing. He just wanted something for his own pocket.
Ray Black: You sayin’ that Hans Drake didn’t issue all those new laws?
Tiberius Driver: I didn’t say that. From what I know, he did, and he’s been upholding them, violently even, all over Janneh City and its surroundings. He’s trying to fund his war with the Eartheners. He’s got hold of some tilkan gas rich land and he’s been selling them in the black market to Earthen traders stationed in New Liberty City. From what I hear, he sends his men in there and sells the gas for dirt cheap. They take it back to Earth, to other colonies, but he’s making a fortune. Problem is, the Earthen forces have been bombing the crap out of him in the north, and he needs all the funding he can get, because obviously he ain’t paying nothing out of his own pocket. But like I told you, he can’t afford to send the type of force that you’re thinking about out here. He needs them on the frontlines.
Ray Black (sighs, then looks at Tiberius): You realize we’ve developed our own frontline to the west and north. We need to protect our borders.
Tiberius Driver (laughs): You’re talking like we got our own country.
Ray Black: Well, we don’t belong to the Eartheners, and we sure as hell don’t belong to no Haven Republic. We’re on our own, Tiberius.
Cross Street leading up to the ferry that crosses the Wildbank River, looking south.
Cross Street, looking to the west.