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Nancy, Kingdom of Lorraine,
German Empire

19 July 1970

Michel Mueller had heard of the riots in Paris before he went strolling;
so did everyone else in Nancy. The _boches_ couldn't hide the news from
their subjects in Lorraine, no matter how much pressure they and their
traitors inside Lorraine placed on the patriotic journals. What good
would it do to keep the _Courrier de la Moselle_ quiet when you could
cross the border into Austrasia [1] or the real Germany--Strassburg [2],
or Saarbrücken--and hear the locals talking about the unexpected events
with their obtuse German tongues? And certainly all of the students at
the _College lotharingien_ were expected to be as aware of the wider
world as any students could be.

The sky was grey, as it always was in Lorraine. When he was young and
romantic, Michel liked to think that the grim damp weather of Nancy was
nature's way of emphasizing with its poor beloved conquered French. He
had given that up, though, on the same day that he had been expelled
from the _Collège_ for "political activities unbecoming a student" (as
the authorities called it), or for being a French patriot as no one in
Nancy dared deny outside censor's earshot. Lorraine--all of Lorraine,
even the old Austrasian lands--was as French as Champagne or Normandy,
and the Germans knew that even though they couldn't admit it. 

Oh, Michel knew as he ambled down the street, that fucking Chancellor
(he refused even to think the bastard's name) might have driven his
Maman and thousands of other loyal French from sacred Metz [3], but even
that butcher wasn't stupid enough as to try to destroy _all_ of French
(so French!) Lorraine. So they called it a kingdom, gave it a puppet
king and a puppet legislature, ran down Lorraine's mines and steel mills
to try to break the locals to the German yoke, claimed that the royal
palaces built by a long-dead Pole were proof of Lorraine's German
affinities. [4] None of that empty rhetoric could ever deny the fact
that Lorraine was French. 

That the German Empire's army bases were located not on the French
frontier but outside each and every one of Lorraine's metropoles was
proof that the Germans knew their lies. Oh, yes they allowed Lorrainers
to have their own king, and their own national diet to deal (badly) with
Lorraine's parochial affairs, and their own two dozen parliamentarians
in the German diet to represent Lorraine's interests. Oh, yes, the
Germans pretended that the Lorrainers should be grateful to have German
funding at their beck and call, and to be protect them from France's
instability. None of that changed the fact, Michel knew painfully, that
it was German laws not French laws which applied to Lorrainers; none of
it ignored the hold of the barbarian Teutons on civilized Latin France,
none of it.

A quarter of Lorraine's men were unemployed--even the _Courrier_ had to
admit that. There were always crowds milling down the old streets kept
with German blood money, looking for a cheap boîte where they could
drink some beer and listen to _Amerloque_ popular music as they drifted
away. Since the riots in Paris had begun, he had fancied that these men
might be ready to rise up against the _boches_ and free their homeland,
if only there was a leader or _someone._ In his younger days, he had
fancied himself a leader. As a workman shabbily dressed in an old
miner's uniform stumbled half-drunk past him, holding onto each
streetlight pole as he ambled, Michel resisted the urge to spit on the
pavement after the drunkard. How could any good Frenchman be that?

Where the rue Poniatowski turned the corner, a locomobile drove by.
Michel only noticed after it had passed that emblazoned on its sides was
the Lorraine Wittelsbach's family crest, and he simply stood still and
watched as a whole line of cars passed by. He wondered who could be
inside--the king, maybe? _Back from his mistresses?_

Michel never really knew afterwards just what he had done. He didn't
remember seizing the loose paving stone out of the sidewalk, or hoisting
it in his hand as the photograph taken by a passing tourist clearly
proved, as the German federal policeman pressed the enlarged image
against his face before hitting him, again. Michel did remember, only
needed remember, the act of throwing that first paving stone at the
royal household locomobile, and the way that the windshield shattered
inward onto the driver even as the vehicle's brakes screeched into a
lamppost. That one stone was all that was needed, for Michel and for
Nancy.

[1] The Kingdom of Austrasia, comprising the Austrian Netherlands to the
west of Liège, was established following the Trans-Oceanic War.

[2] After the Trans-Oceanic War in 1799, the French region of northern
Alsace (including Strassburg/Strasbourg) was annexed by the Kingdom of
Prussia, to provide Prussia a bridgehead on the far side of the Rhine
against a revived France and to restore an old Germanic area to Prussia.
The western frontier of Prussian Alsace followed the eastern frontier of
the erstwhile Kingdom of Lorraine as established by 1721, while the
southern frontier of Prussian Alsace corresponded roughly to OTL's
frontier between the départments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin.

[3] In the aftermath of the German Confederation's invasion of France,
southern Alsace and northeastern Lorraine around the city of Metz was
absorbed by the Kingdom of Prussia. While the Germanic peasants of
Prussia's new province of Southwest Rhineland were easily absorbed, the
largely Francophone inhabitants of the city of Metz remained hostile.
During the Global War these ingrates were dealt with by Chancellor
Bruning, street by street.

[4] In the aftermath of the Global War, the Austrasian provinces of
Liège, Luxembourg, and Namur were fused with the French province of
Lorraine to constitute the Kingdom of Lorraine, a constituent
member-state of the German Empire that was a conscious effort to create
a post-Carolingian Lotharingia under German domination. The past
generation of German rule in Lorraine through a transplanted Wittelsbach
scion has been fairly authoritarian. A Francophile Lorraine nationalism
has been stoken by the collapse of Lorraine's extensive if antiquated
heavy industrial base.

-- 
Randy McDonald

Charlottetown PEI
Canada