[For those listening, the radio crackles back to life at noon]
[The speaker’s voice is now audibly strained, but the underlying strength is undimmed]
My good friends, this is the Voice of Weatherby, bringing a message of persistence.
I have here the list of casualties from the first attacks, and I am sad to say that it’s not short. Not everyone will have a loved one on this list, but everyone will have a friend, or an acquaintance. No one has been left unscathed by the New Prussian attack; we have all lost, though some more deeply than others.
The New Prussians want to kill as many of us as it takes to make us unwilling to fight. They expect to pay no price for their crimes; they want Weatherby to pay the full cost in blood. And, if we give up now, that’s exactly what will happen. They will have hurt us, killed our friends, colleagues, comrades…
…and not only will they not be punished if we surrender, they will have been rewarded for it!
No, my friends. We have not yet won this war, but we have not lost. Do what you can. No task is too small. If you can’t help in the hospitals, crochet blankets for the patients. If you can’t put out the fires, bring the firefighters clean water to drink. If you aren’t fighting as a Hussar or a Dragoon, write letters of support to the soldiers. If you can’t spill enemy blood in the streets, go to a blood drive and replenish the blood the enemy has taken from your brave protectors. And, if there’s truly nothing you can do to help… then help us by keeping your head down. The list of woe I hold is too long already, so just be alive and ready to rebuild when the Queen’s forces come to rescue us.
Stay strong, my friends. If we stay united, as proud Weatherbeans, loyal to Her Majesty, then we will breathe free air once more, in peace and prosperity.
Long live Weatherby, and long live the Queen!
In a dark room, a figure slumps its head onto a table, roughly shoving away the now-unpowered microphone, and starts to weep, the tears causing the ink on the paper, a list of names, to run.
A door opens behind the figure, and soon a hand gently rests upon its shoulder. With a sniffle, the first figure speaks, the monotonous composure and fake accent gone. “I am asking them to die. To raise their heads when they are safely behind cover, and to become targets. To give their all, while I cower here in a bunker and give nothing but empty words.”
“Oh, my poor beloved…”
The second figure embraces the first, and the tears now patter down onto a shoulder rather than the desk. When the sobbing finally begins to subside, the second figure pulls away, and clutches the first by the shoulders.
“Tell me, oh great ‘Voice of Weatherby,’ do you truly believe rescue is coming?”
“Of course I do! *sniff* You know I do.”
“Then your words are saving Weatherbean lives, as much as the soldiers’ bullets or the doctors’ scalpels. If morale breaks, if they start fighting each other instead of the New Prussians, many more will die, and will suffer, than if you loaded your pistols and charged blindly into battle.”
“But…” A hand waves towards a smeared list of names.
“That list was never going to be blank; there is nothing you, or anyone other than that damned Admiral Pandora, could have done to make it so. You mustn’t obsess about every name that ends up on the list. Instead, take pride in every name you keep off of it, including your own. Now…”
The second figure taps a finger on a portfolio that the first hadn’t even noticed being dropped on the desk. “Don’t you have supply stash inventories to review?”
With eyes no less teary, but with the dry amusement the second figure loves so much, the first straightens, looks back and replies, “Ah, yes. The greatest sacrifice of them all, I fear.”
The two share a faint grin, and, after one more hug, the second figure exits the room, closes the door, and makes it halfway down the hall before collapsing onto the ground and starting to weep silently, hand firmly over mouth to keep any sound from carrying back to the broadcast room of the Voice of Weatherby. It is, after all, just as difficult in such a time of tragedy, and by no means less important, to maintain the morale of the one speaking the Voice, as it is for the Voice to bolster the morale of those listening to it. All these pretty half-truths will take their toll by the end of the war, but it will all be worth it when rescue comes.
Or maybe that was just one more pretty half-truth.