Passionario responds to Eglantine’s evasive answer with a curt nod:
"Good. Now let us consider the bigger picture. One that includes the forces of counterinsurgency and those behind it."
"Some scholars and ideologues claim that our existence is a part of a greater Chain which stretches from the almighty stars above to the lowliest creatures below. They say that the stars make and enforce the laws that govern nature, and that one of these laws is that the Chain itself must remain sacrosanct. No one is permitted to rise above their station, lest they risk the ire of their betters." When he pronounces the last two words, his mouth twists as though gripped by severe tooth pain.
"As above, so below. Whether the theories about celestial order are true or not, they describe our society well enough. There is no crime more abhorrent to those who make and enforce the laws than failure to acknowledge one’s place in the grand scheme of things. The Flowerdene insurgency, and the massacre that preceded it, certainly qualify."
"Had I retained my office, the most likely outcome of the counterinsurgency’s response would be the restoration of the status quo. Ringleaders would be dealt with, one way or another, and the rest would fall in line after a sufficiently decisive show of force. A fairly straightforward task, one that I have carried out many times." A humorless smile graces his lips. "Fortunately for Flowerdene insurgency, my successors’ experience in these matters is, shall we say, less extensive." The smile fades. "Yet some of them learn remarkably quickly, and they are not without tricks of their own."
"In fact, I expect that the armoured hand delivering the deathblow will be covered by a silken glove this time. Instead of neddy squads in the streets and Unfinished twins making door-to-door visits, there will be a campaign to ‘save our Spite’. There will be fundraisers, charity events, public appearances by our beloved Mayor - and, oh yes, aggressive property acquisitions."
"The Constables will still charge in like an inexorable blue tide, but only to ‘protect the new improvements’. In the end, Spite will become a flourishing gentrified district for the affluent Society youth and successful artists." The grim smile returns. "As for the current inhabitants, they will be… ‘taken care of’. Not just the ringleaders this time, but everyone else as well."
"I already see the unspoken protest in your eyes: ‘They wouldn’t dare!’ I remind you that we are talking about the English aristocracy. They have spent the last several centuries brutally subjugating the world, and they have become exceedingly efficient at it."
As he pauses for emphasis, the darkness surrounding the room responds with faint half-breathing, half-whispering sounds. Finally, Passionario speaks again:
"Finally, we come to the worst case scenario, in which Elias, through fiery rhetoric or bloody martyrdom, succeeds in inflaming the hearts of the people, while his allies manage to assemble a critical mass of resources, seize initiative and strike back at the oppressive regime with all their – or should I rather say ‘your’ - might."
"On the Surface, such a revolution could succeed. True, the former inhabitants of the looted palaces and mansions would disagree with this definition of success, as would those whose loved ones would end up gracing lamp posts, and the social hierarchy would eventually reassert itself, but at least there would be something left after the upheaval." He raises a finger. "But we are not on the Surface anymore."
"The current ruling regime is too tightly wrapped in the coils of the Bazaar. Should any revolutionary flame blaze strongly enough to threaten the latter, the Masters will invoke the Tragedy Procedures. After that…” He shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter what happens after that. Just like the Rosers, the Copper and Motherlings before us, all of London’s factions will end up in the same lacre-pipes.”
Silence falls. Even the whispers and other disquieting noises have disappeared. After what seems like an eternity, Passionario speaks again:
“And yet, you are right. Many outcomes are possible – even the one you deemed the best. There is a way to bring about the future in which Flowerdene has all the resources, independence, success and life (and even more), and the key to it lies in the very thing that currently threatens its existence.”
“Remember what I’ve said about the Chain and its laws. No one is permitted to rise above their betters, and any predations on the part of said betters are to be endured. The good and the great observe this law to a letter. That is why there has never been a second invasion of Hell. That is why the tigers walk free in the halls of Labyrinth and keep the humans caged."
"And that is why Flowerdene has a chance.”