Sunday 30 October 2016

Status Quo reversed; an alternate, science-fiction history of the Portuguese Empire

Sandra Malheiro woke up quiet early at 6:30 am. She was still tired but had a lot of thoughts that woke her up. She moved two months ago from Cidade Mars de Salazar to the new city of Conglomerado de Ricardo Almeira. She is in her early 30’s and spent a good amount of her life in the Portuguese military. The sun on the moon of Europa is like a tiny dot, but Jupiter appears really astonishing. It was one of few pros of why she liked to live on Europa. For the rest she didn’t like it. In general, she hated her life.
Yes, she had a good career in the military, she was even member of the interplanetary body of the Partido Regenerador Portugues, but she saw that she was never enough. She was a unique exception among all these men who were part of the military and the party. Usually women didn’t make a career in the military as this was despised by men and women equally. In the doctrine of the Portuguese Empire, it was stated that each sex had their own role to fulfil, ‘in order to guarantee prosperity and equal opportunity for the Portuguese citizen’. In the military, she was schooled in detail for a year about ‘state loyalty’ and ‘History of Portuguese doctrines and principles’ as well as ‘Functioning of the Estado Novo’. Many of the things that were said there were almost against her own self…as woman. It was suggested that women go and take ‘social jobs’ and that men take ‘responsibility jobs’. Men couldn’t take ‘social jobs’ and women were mostly not allowed to take ‘responsibility jobs’ and yet she was part of the military and the PRP. She swallowed all her life things that were said about women being like this and men like that and had enough of it. However, she was unsure how to address it.
When she walked out in the main avenue of the Conglomerado de Ricardo Almeira, she saw how the construction workers erected a huge 200m statue of Salazar and Sidonio Pais next to each other. This were preparations for the celebration of 1500 year Portugal. The hologram TV and ads talked about how magnificent and glorious the Portuguese cities were. Lisbon with 20 million people, Rio de Janeiro with 15 million, São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda with 13 million, Macau with 13 million as well and the moon city Vila Nova de Lua with 12 million. The TV talked about Portuguese master engineering and how the Portuguese Empire’s doctrine promoted human progress. Free drinks were also given on the street while she walked.
‘Here lady, take a free Sagres to our heroes, Portuguese Empire and doctrines’, said the advertiser.
‘Obrigado’, nodded Sandra politely.
‘Oh, you are in the army?’, the man looked at her with sceptical eyes and Sandra just gave a short ‘Sim’ as answer. Unfortunately, she was used at these questions and stares. She didn’t feel respected for what she was and her personality. Nevertheless, she promised to herself, that no matter what she would fight to keep her dream job.  She didn’t like beer much, but thought since it’s free she will just drink it. On the corner she came across ticket sellers. They sold tickets for the solar football match between Benfica and Sporting, the two biggest sports clubs in the Portuguese Empire. They had billions of members, in particular in football.
‘Oiiiiila, here are tickets for you too lady! It was sponsored by our great Empire and is a match also in honour of Ricardo Almeira. Take it and let the Empire make you happy with bola!’, said the guy enthusiastically. Football was a big deal in the Portuguese Empire and the main sports. Even on the moon, Mars and Europa (moon), football knew no boundaries. She sometimes went there, but mostly for representative matches, where high officials had to be present. If you were not present in the match, you’d be seen as traitor to Portuguese values and then again sports were predominantly male… such an irony she always thought to herself.
Sandra continued her walk and enjoyed looking up at the sky seeing Jupiter. Jupiter maybe will make her life one day better? Nah, these thoughts are now nonsense. She was having many inner monologues, as not many people could relate to her. She was very introvert too, but not shy. She could stand her own ground, but within the conditions of the doctrines. She wished for controversial debates about these doctrines and she surely disagreed on the continuous improvement and progress in the Portuguese Empire. Social progress was stuck and even split men and women more than ever apart. Men who took social jobs, did they exist? She wasn’t sure, but hoped to meet one of these men maybe here in the Conglomerado? Before she could continue her thoughts general da Silva came across and greeted her.
‘General Malheiro, I greet you!’, he looked at her with respect and gave her a strong handshake.
‘I greet you back honourable General da Silva, may our glorious day as Portuguese Empire continue’, she said and then she moved in the military office.
When she came there, the receptionist Manuel Ferreira da Cruz informed her that Marshal-Salazarissimo Peixoto ordered the whole division of the city to take part of a drill tomorrow. It was one of a spontaneous nature and ensured that his division was in permanent red alert. She took note of it on her medium.
‘Be sure that nothing goes wrong, as it’s part of the celebration of our Empire. You have my full servitude in case of questions. Have a very prosperous day!’, said the receptionist.
A cold obrigado slipped from her lips and she headed towards the instant transmission machine. She gave her coordinates and went there in one second. Everything seemed very hectic today, because of the celebration. And since the doctrine teaches them to be foremost loyal to Portugal, it was a very logic consequence. Her face went from enthusiastic to even more enthusiastic…not at all. She took a huge breath and thought to herself ‘stay calm’. The more she thought about what the state taught them, the more she found it artificial and constructed from above. She was merely a soldier, because she wanted to protect her loved ones and not because she liked the doctrine. Despite her being a woman and where it was said that she can’t protect people, her uncle helped her to get a position. He was in the second-highest rank within the military and a very important party member as well. He never had kids himself, so treated Sandra as his own daughter instead. When Sandra told him since a little girl, that she wanted to be in the military, contrary to the doctrine, under which he worked for, he made the contrary. After she finished an all-female school, she didn’t go to study social sciences, but she gave her application to become a soldier. Her uncle managed to convince the staff about her abilities and argued that she was the exception and the exception confirms the rule. A minority disagreed and argued with the doctrine, but most generals, marshals etc were actually very satisfied with Sandra. Sandra presented herself as uttermost loyal to the Portuguese cause and had great knowledge of Portuguese history as well as the space expansion program. She wished to be stationed outside the Earth, where she had more opportunities. At that time the army was happy to receive people for posts outside Earth, as there was a general shortage. Immigration was therefore also encouraged by the Portuguese Empire as well, with many financial benefits. Sandra came first to Vila Nova de Lua, twelve years ago and was absolving her formation there. She did exceptionally well and instead of 4 years, was already taken after 3 with an honorary degree. She enjoyed certain privileges, like living in her own place, 8-hours-day and could come and go without much administrative work. People never questioned her and saw her as her uncle’s successor. But this and also the doctrine and mostly the doctrine made her resent her life. She didn’t want to be an exception, she wanted to be normal and treated like everyone else and neither have privileges or be treated less. She didn’t understand these contrary behaviours she experienced. On one hand, she was not enough, she was just a woman, on the other hand, she was treated better than most other soldiers. 'This doctrine...why does it even exist?...Salazar and Pais...did you intent this? Was this your vision of Portugal', she thought to herself.
She then revised the plans of how everything should be followed during the drill, which people are assigned to her and mostly other technical details. She was getting tired of that. She was a soldier to protect her loved ones and not to maintain and propagate the doctrine. Salazarismo-Marshal Peixoto came unannounced at her place.
'Well, well how are we doing General Malheiro?', he asked.
She was caught with intern surprise. Her face stayed normally neutral.
'Honourable Salazarismo-Marshal Peixoto, which pleasure to see you personally in my department. I'm doing well and analysing with greatest attention the plans for tomorrow. Moreover, I am greatly thankful to always serve the imperial Portuguese forces!', she said in almost shouting voice.
She looked petite but she certainly wasn't weak. She was skilled and fast, most importantly very courageous.
'That's fantastic dear general. I hear that you are as good as your uncle. He made himself an eternal name within our forces. Many of my comrades are saying only good things about you and how skilled you are... well I was thinking, we should consider your achievements, your loyalty and your brave attitude dear general. In fact, the high military commission ordered to see you tomorrow! We all think that it's time that you will be declared a Salazarismo-General!,' said Salazarismo-Marshal Peixoto.
Sandra was certainly surprised and was even feeling proud... But then she thought to herself for what? Proud to follow the doctrine by every step? To swallow every letter of it against her own dissatisfaction?
'So?' evoked Salazarismo-General Peixoto.
'Sorry I was just taken apart for a moment as I couldn’t believe my own ears', she replied.
'Hahaha it is okay General! Or should I say Salazarismo-General Malheiro. In fact, though I’m a bit longer then you in service I always stand with great pleasure in front of you. I’m proud of Portugal and proud of the Portuguese people and you contribute to this pride. Billions of Portuguese are proud of you!'
She faked her smile and tried to convince herself just for that moment to be happy. Deep within she felt some pride, but it faded quickly away and was blown like the sand in the Sahara. She shakes hands with Peixoto. She always noticed his moustache and his old-fashioned general hat. She didn’t blame him for the doctrine. He was just filling his role and convinced by all sides to fulfil a role. Who knows maybe he was a man who wanted to do social jobs, but never had the opportunity?
'Oh and by the way...before I forget you are a candidate for a new position within the party. This will allow you to have more mobile hours so you can dedicate as much time needed for your positions. I know I say candidate but it is almost clear you'll be elected. I bet my moustache to that hehe', and the general started to laugh foolishly. 'Really and which position exactly?', asked Sandra.
'To be honest I forgot it now or wait... it was to become member of the upper committee of ALL the party', said Peixoto with a fierce voice. 'In any case be prepared, but I think you know that as you are one of the best Portuguese. The Portuguese Empire can be proud to have you as their citizen!
'Thanks Salazarismo-Marshal Peixoto. I take all your compliments with great pleasure, especially from someone as important and with such a remarkable and gifted leadership as you. The message is equally received with great happiness and pride. Thank you!' said Sandra.
She hates it how artificial these speeches were, but somehow this was usus within the Portuguese Empire.
Peixoto gave his farewells and left the office through the teleporter. Sandra thought whether she should accept the positions or not. She thought of it all day long. She went back home after finishing work several hours later, still thinking on that one issue. Whether to take the positions or not. All this thinking made her feel heavy. On her way back home she sat on a bench thinking and was noticed by a stranger. Without much nervousness this stranger approached her and was certainly surprised by Sandra's military decoration. He first sat next to her and watched her for few seconds. Sandra was too much self-absorbed in her own thoughts, however she could never ever refuse this offer...nobody did so and she would just cause attention towards her. So without further ado she thought she is going to accept the positions but very self-critical of course. It wasn't until then when she finished to worry about that, that the stranger asked her something.
'Are you a member of the Portuguese forces?', he asked.
'Yes a very proud and confident member. My rank is that of a general!'
'Oh wow I'm surprised and sorry I didn’t talk to you with respect.'
'It is okay; I think for today to be honest I have enough of respectful talking.'
'Oh I see, why? If I may ask?'
'Now I want to be myself. I'm Sandra Malheiro. Not just a general or member of the army, I am a person as everyone else.'
'My manners where are they? I am Nuno Delgado and well I work in a social job as you can see on my sign here in my chest.'
Sandra was literally surprised to meet under such circumstances someone as random and almost as her but on the opposite side. How come he made a social job?
‘I see, I am sorry but I am unused to see a man working in a social job? How come?’, she asked.
‘That’s a typical question, but I won’t take it badly, as I was also surprised to see a woman in the army, though our superior and almost godly doctrine says the contrary’, he mocked in front of her.
She was surprised he mocked about the doctrine in front of her. Was he a spy or an agent in disguise? Was he testing waters to see if Sandra was as loyal as her façade always portrayed it? Her gut feeling told her otherwise and she opened up a little more.
‘There are exceptions to the doctrine I suppose, I guess I am one of them somehow. However, I was lucky as my family was involved in the military and I was one of the few children. I always wanted to be part of the military, since I was young, you know. How did you come to take a social job?’, Sandra demanded.
‘Well, my family was one of the first to come to the Conglomerado of Ricardo Almeira, like 100 years ago. My grandfather and father worked on the construction and all, but once it became finalized and less people were needed in construction, they were left with their family. And of course there are children who need to go to school. So about 20 years ago the shortage of teaching staff was countered by ‘special measures’. Yes, I am one of the few men employed as teacher and I am lucky, because I wished for that, since I was small. I just never understood, why as men we must do the other jobs and not social jobs as well,’ he said.
Both talked more and started to appreciate each other in some way and stayed in touch.
A year passed, after Sandra accepted the newly acquired positions and meeting Nuno Delgado. Nuno and her became friends. They regularly talked about what was wrong according to them and consequently formed an underground group of 100 people. They became quickly dynamic and had ambitious plans. The first one was to deactivate or change the doctrine for good. The doctrine was seen as ‘burden to all Portuguese’ and as ‘lie for-shadowing Portuguese master engineering’. The Portuguese society had, according to them finally, to be emancipated from an old doctrine and changes had to be adapted. Otherwise the Portuguese Empire would utterly fail. There was no true head in this group and there was even not really a name, as they just wanted to force a change in the doctrine. They didn’t fight for revolution or saw themselves as such, they were opposed to the doctrine and that kept them together.
Today, for the annual imperial celebration, Sandra and Nuno planned on paralyzing the military and the government as well and force a change in the doctrine or at least a solar referendum. Their plan was straight forward and Sandra would exploit all her knowledge and powers she had. In fact, she had military and political power and could act without much restriction.
Usually, the Portuguese law is like that, that when all high officials leave, the highest one who remains is in charge. Without much suspicion, she asked to be part of the latest division, who would show up in the parade. The parade, on Sandra’s demand, was planned to be held on the exosphere of Europa, so the celebrations on Mars, Lua and Earth could be spotted as well, who were on the exosphere as well. Now, she would remain as the last one Europa, with the highest position. Nuno Delgado, would take with him about 10 men and women, different ships and initiate attacks on Ganymede. Sandra gave them the needed papers, so they could pass the guards. Ganymede, as other moons were strictly restricted to enter and an attack would cause furious reactions from the Portuguese Empire. While, the parade starts, Sandra would then give the orders to her military staff to fly out to Ganymede and take Nuno and his companions, but not kill them. They would entrench themselves for some time and then surrender and destroy every evidence of these papers handed by Sandra.
Sandra on the mean time would take herself control of Europa and ask the other forces to cut communication media and activate Europa’s self-defence program. This would buy them a lot of time, as every ship or person closer than 50km to Europa, would be shot. A forced retreat of the military would be sure. She would then transmit messages to the HQ of the police department of Europa and the ministries, where she declared that she was now in charge, how the self-defence program became manipulated by some intern military staff and that there was a fifth column inside the Portuguese Empire. She would instantly make transmissions to the people of Europa and try to raise as many people as possible as soldiers. An encoded message, which would appear on the HQ of the Portuguese Empire, on Earth, would demand the change of the doctrine or possibly a referendum.
‘Sandra, I hope we can do that…we need to do that for our future, for the children. I am great and thankful of knowing you and in case we will never see us again… I’d like to say it was a great time knowing you and that I love you and trust you…bye Sandra.’ Nuno left with some tears, but also with a smile of trust. Sandra looked down on the floor, where her long hair would hide her face. She couldn’t handle emotions very well, but deep down, she knew Nuno was a good man and that she wanted to be with him. She had now more courage, as she didn’t want to upset Nuno… In the following hours the plan was finally proceeded. Nuno’s message came that he passed the guards and they accepted the documents. Sandra was glad and now hoped, that all the military staff would leave for space. After she came to the headquarters, she confirmed to the highest military ranks her arrival and watched them leave. She saluted them as it was usual for a soldier to do. After waiting half an hour, she received the message of Nuno, who together with his companions launched their fake attack on Ganymede.
‘Soldiers…I have bad news…Ganymede our outpost of space interest is attacked. I order you to go now and take them down. I order you to take them and imprison them and question their motifs. Don’t kill, I repeat, don’t kill them…we need to find out who is behind that! For our Portuguese Empire! Força Portugal!’, she shouted and a força Portugal echoed back from the ranks. The soldiers did as they were told. She also persuaded the generals who were left with her to go with them.
Sandra now prepared the other steps and communicated them to her fellow companions, without much suspicion. They cut the communication with the other planets and moons within seconds and the self-defence program was activated within a matter of minutes. ‘She got a last message before from Salazarismo-Marshal Peixoto’ who told her in the transmission that she was in charge of Europa temporarily. That was unexpected, but strengthened her position now. So far there was no suspicion against her, which delighted her. Sirens were to be heard all over Europa and the streets in the Conglomerado de Ricardo Almeira became full of people, who left their working places or houses. Sandra used all hologram TV and other planetary communication devices and transmitted her speech in there. She asked people to go home, gave the police the command to bring those people safe to their houses and explained that she was now in charge of Europa. She said that a fifth column attacked important military facilities on Ganymede and that she activated the defence system, so that no terrorists could enter Europa:
‘Rest assured, dear Portuguese. We had difficult times and each time we came stronger out of it, but also changed, what we had to change. I declare now myself as the provisional ruler of Europa and I will form a commissioner government. The duration will be unlimited, until we are freed by the Imperial Portuguese forces. Any laws that will be changed, will affect Europa from this day on; for the sake of your own safety and Europa’s stability. Restructuration within the jobs will happen, as we now need to create a good provisional military force, until the Portuguese Empire frees us. This will be my first decree, which will allow also women to join the military forces. Sick men and men with good excuses are to exempt of the military draft. They are, under specific revisions, allowed to join social jobs, for the benefit of our children. The second decree which will be passed, will be the temporary abolishment of the Partido Regenerador Portugues de Europa, until we find out more about the fifth column. Honourable Portuguese citizens, show your courage, I reach my hand to you and together we can dismantle all the dangers. Força Portugal!’ That’s how her speech ended.
She was sure not everyone would respond positively to her proposals and the changes. She would especially have to get rid of loyalists to the doctrine and reactionaries within the ranks. Nuno was in great danger and she had no communication with him. His fate was now uncertain. She walked around her office in circles and ordered the receptionist to come to her.
‘Dear Salazarismo-Gene… I mean, dear provisional ruler Malheiro, how can I assist you?’
‘Manuel, I want you to address this what I am going to dictate to you, to all police buildings of Europa’

She took a breath and Manuel listened.
‘Dear Imperial Police, as provisional ruler and referring myself to the constitutional right of safety as well as rule 144 paragraph B of the police rules, I ask you to close, all offices of the the Partido Regenerador Portugues and to put the highest remaining members under protective custody. This will remain for an unlimited period of time until Europa is freed by the Imperial forces. Search all offices of the Partido Regenerador Portugues for hints of the fifth column and for hints of treason. With best regards, provisional ruler Malheiro.’
Manuel Ferreira de Cruz checked everything on his device and edited a few words or replaced some words.
‘Okay I will send it by now, your order will be received in any moment.’
She gave a nice obrigado to Manuel and ordered him to go back to his place. She hoped, that her companions placed the fake hints of terrorism, within the party offices. Like this, the whole committee of a section could already be imprisoned for a short amount of time and buy her more time internally, to push for her reforms. She had no time to lose and fabricate other fake proofs. Her next plan was to play each party member off against each other and then she also needed to solidify her provisional army. Will she succeed?

No comments:

Post a Comment