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Book 6, Chapter 78 - Partnership

 The main city of the Green Alliance boasted over two million citizens. An impressive feat that also meant managing this settlement was more difficult than any other.

The main reason for this was how varied its people were. Wastelanders, by their nature, were a difficult crowd to control. There always existed those who bucked authority or wanted to split away. Often conflicts arose between different groups. Illegal activities continued despite bans and strict punishments.

Now a large group of Elysians were thrown into the mix. It was a huge injection into the Green Alliance's talent pool, especially since many of the migrants were demonhunters or trainees. There were also soldiers, grunts, doctors, merchants, artists and so forth. All of them had some worth to the budding wastelander civilization.

However, the benefits came with quickly apparent problems. Owing to the very recent conflict between wastelanders and Elysians, disputes were inevitable. Less than a week after the migrants arrived, trouble started brewing.

"To the streets! We demand respect, we are not prison laborers!"

"We refuse to live with these dirty heathens!"

"Reject the mutants! Throw these dimwitted freaks out of our city!"

Several thousand protesters in Elysian garb marched through the streets bearing signs. Their loud disturbance had caused much of the city's construction efforts to grind to a halt. It captured a great deal of attention, many of them wastelanders who were livid at their inflammatory words.

"Love it or leave it!"

"We earn our keep! What makes you think you're any different?"

"This is our home. You come flooding in here and then try to kick us out?! Fuck you!"

Stones rained down on the protesters from the surrounding crowds. A number of Elysians took nasty blows and fell to the ground.

This only made the migrants more angry. They began to retaliate with rocks of their own and chaos ensued. More and more joined in until the streets were awash in the sounds of screams and angry shouting.

"Kill these wastelander freaks!"

"Get the fuck out of here, Elysian dogs!"

In a blink the city was embroiled in conflict, with thousands brawling in the open.

The city's laws were strict. Fighting and murder were illegal under any circumstances. Weapons were highly restricted, but police could hardly regulate stone-throwing. Deadly fighters were present on both sides, so even stones were dangerous. With enough force a good throw could crack skulls, even kill.

Bang bang bang!

Dull blasts sounded all around. Security forces had recognized the problem early but the number of agitators was far too large for them to deal with alone. Alarms were sent up the chain of command and before long, green-cloaked Greenland regulars and armored soldiers flooded the streets. They forcibly separated the two warring groups.

"Son of a bitch! Can you spare me this bullshit? Every fucking day with you people, and you're only getting worse. It never ends!"

A pleasing, if coarse, voice erupted above the din. All eyes turned toward the enormous metal-clad figure stomping through the streets. Surprised looks followed when they saw the face beneath the helmet. She was a stunningly pretty woman.

Pushing to the center of the crowds Dawn saw a number of people with bleeding head wounds. Several more were rolling on the ground, cradling injuries and trying not to get trampled. A group nearby had been taken into custody by security forces. She scowled at the scene. "What the hell is going on?"

"Governor Dawn! The Elysians are stirring up trouble!"

A gruff and burly maneater mutant trundled over. He was easily three meters tall and his body was covered in a sort of hardened crust. A single horn jutted from his skull and he whined at Dawn through a hideous mouth like a child who'd had his candy stolen. "They said I'm ugly!"

Dawn gave him a once-over. Inwardly she conceded that they had a point, but rather than say that she cleared her throat. "Eh, this... will not due. We will not tolerate prejudice. Greenland code article three, discrimination against mutants is not permitted."

"The Elysians refuse to work. They're just parasites, they only know how to take!" Another sturdy wastelander stepped forward. He added as an afterthought, "they also insulted our leader, Cloudhawk!"

"What?!" The last accusation got Dawn's attention. Her face darkened.

While troublesome, she was prepared to tolerate the other infractions. After all everyone knew it wasn't going to be easy getting Elysians and wastelanders to live together. But it was Cloudhawk who saved them and brought them here. If they had the gall to smear his name, she was going to make sure there were repercussions.

Impassioned words were thrown out from among Elysians as well. One, an elderly man, angrily shouted back. "These wastelanders are dirty! They have no concept of hygiene! It's like living in a pigsty!"

"They're crude, uncouth and a threat to the safety of Elysian lives! In just a few days we've seen a slate of thefts, rapes and murders."

"Yeah, why would you even bring us here? Hauling stones out in the ruins, doing this dirty work!"

"Lady Polaris, you were born in Skycloud. How could you stand with these barbarians? These filthy characters are an affront, beyond redemption. They don't deserve homes or cities!"

This earned a chorus of angry shouts from the wastelanders. It'd taken years and a tremendous amount of effort to build this city and they were supposed to just leave?

"What the fuck did you say? Say it again!"

"I said you're trash! Garbage!"

"Mother fucker! I'll tear your goddamn head off!"

Insults were hurled back and forth as again it seemed destined to come to blows. Stones started flying.

The anger melted from Dawn's face, replaced with calm as she slid Terrangelica from its sheath. She jabbed the tip into the ground and released its power. The rocks all stopped in midair as though someone had turned off gravity.

"Enough. Everyone shut your fucking mouths."

They obeyed. Dawn was Governor, and as such commanded a great deal of respect within the city.

This was not an easy circumstance to deal with. Dawn scowled as she weighed her options. Avoiding filth and violence in the wastes was impossible but things were getting better. Still, could she realistically expect Elysians to be happy with that? They grew up living lives of comfort and ease, only to be suddenly thrust into a totally different reality.

If she sided with the wastelanders, the Elysians would riot. If she agreed with the Elysians, the original people of this city would be furious. She felt like her head was about to explode. She was busy enough as it is, now there was this nonsense every day. It felt more exhausting than a sword fight.

As she was reaching the end of her rope a voice shouted out.

Cloudhawk appeared above the crowd. "What's all this noise!"

"You're back, and just in time. This is more than I can handle. It's on you."

As the Elysians regarded Cloudhawk there was no small number showing overt hostility. There was also hatred and a healthy amount of fear. Not everyone was willing to accept Cloudhawk as any sort of leadership figure.

It was his own decision to stand against Skycloud and wage war. He had to take responsibility for a lot of the mess their home was in today. Many protesters today had friends and loved ones who died in the fighting. Their hatred for Cloudhawk ran deep.

Dawn had an Elysian background, but wasteland prestige. She was caught between the two and couldn't think of a solution. Better to leave this in Cloudhawk's hands.

Out here no one's voice was louder than Cloudhawk's, but in the heart of Elysians he was still a monster. Elysian demands were clear; they refused to accept the authority of any wastelander, especially him. They were willing to submit to Dawn or Phain, and only if they were given their own city away from the wastelanders.

Cloudhawk, of course, would not bow to these demands.

However the protesters were tenacious and unwilling to budge. It seemed they would rather die than live shoulder to shoulder with wastelanders.

Despite the seeming intractability of the situation, Cloudhawk was calm. He raised his voice to be heard. "I know that you all left because of your trust in Phain and Janus. I am under no illusion that you will do something because I ask."

This got the crowd's attention. The shouting stopped but although no one spoke, the burning anger in their eyes remained.

Cloudhawk's voice was even, without any hint of displeasure. "You can choose not to listen to me, that's fine. But there is one you will certainly listen to, one you wouldn't dare ignore. Your highest authority."

"We won't accept anyone you send us!"

"Yeah, they're all just lapdogs!"

"We only accept Dawn, Phain or another Elysian!"

A magnetic smile spread across Cloudhawk's face. "Cloud God, now is the appropriate time don't you think?"

The deity appeared in a flash of light, instantly present over the crowd. His sudden appearance above a wasteland settlement astounded everyone. Unbelievable! The being that not long ago swore to eliminate Cloudhawk now stood by his side.

Although the vast majority of the Elysians had on idea what the Cloud God looked like, the power radiating from the being was unmistakable. The god's mental powers reached into their minds and without a second thought they threw themselves to the ground in worship. Even Dawn and the other leaders stared, dumbfounded.

The Cloud God? It really was Skycloud's patron god!

"Continue to build!" His mighty voice boomed inside their skulls. "From this day forward, you denizens of Skycloud will call this place home. I will continue to serve as Skycloud's protector, and will safeguard your honor."

Overwhelming psychic power passed through everyone like a wave. Who but the Cloud God possessed such strength? This was no trick. Did that mean... this was really the Cloud God's decree?

Their god left his own realm and stood with the Green Alliance? If that were true then the benefits to Cloudhawk were immeasurable. The god was a phenomenally powerful being, at least as mighty as the wasteland leader. With his mental prowess he could perform miracles unthinkable to mortals. Then there was the god's beloved reputation.

Skycloud domain was named after their patron! He was its master and protector. None wielded more influence among Elysians than their god.

What did the people think, knowing that their god stood with the wastelanders? To them Mount Sumeru was a distant and faintly understood thing. In contrast the Cloud God was here, right in front of their eyes. Their protector for the last thousand years. Though they had never encountered the god before now, seeing him appear in this way was an inspiration.

It was a fatal blow against the Avatar and her plans. With the Cloud God on the field, the situation had changed dramatically.

Those agitators who'd threatened to leave had nothing more to say.

When news of this made its way to Skycloud it would land like a mountain on Selene's mind. Citizens would escape in droves to seek the Cloud God's blessings out in the wastes.

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