from Conrado’s day on. But it was as much an artifact of the pre-Empire banking system as anything else. No, the true power of La Familia has always been in the bloodline. The bloodline meant everything. It meant the best jobs in crucial industries, unmatched political placements, and military postings that normal citizens could only dream of. Of course, it also meant automatic, 10-year conscription into the Drive Corps: A youthful punishment to be endured for the guaranteed money and status that lay on the other side. But even there, even while in the Drive Corps, the bloodline meant access to a world of personal, hands-on power that few royal families in history have ever directly experienced. One historical precedent to that would be the early 22nd-century House of Saud, where bloodline similarly meant the finest schools, guaranteed positions in the defense and oil ministries, and retirement in obscene wealth. But even that is an imperfect comparison: While the Saudis, like La Familia, controlled a key resource for transportation in their day, they lacked ultimate control over it. The Saudis could only play the Chinese Democratic Alliance and the Can/Am block off one another for so long, before being conquered themselves. It bears repeating: The resources were theirs, ultimate control was not. Not so La Familia. They literally embody the forces of control, be they economic, political, military, or technological. Bloodline demands it, Drive conscription implements it, and every significant cultural institution reinforces it. La Familia hold the linchpin positions in IndústriaGlobo’s shipyards, in La Grande y Felicissima Armada, in all commercial travel and communication, in the appellate and supreme courts, in banking and in finance, and on and on and on. La Familia recognized early on that control of the Drive was not enough to maintain power: They needed to control everything the Drive touched. As Emperor Pablo once summarized for a gathering of cousins, “A lever means nothing without force applied to it.” And for La Familia, bloodline was that force. And it was a force that could not be bribed, bought into, bartered for, or beggared. Nor, for that matter, walked away from. For even in situations where one member of La Familia were to cede their power -- to walk away and declare their birthright illegal or immoral -- there were 7,000 other voices to scream back and drown them out. Rather, one would more commonly find that a member of La Familia who begrudges their status would continue to serve nonetheless -- believing that they and their cousins were riding on the back of a tiger, and could not safely leap off. Not without dooming the Imperial system, and humanity itself, to self-destruction. It should be no surprise that Familia parents tell bedtime tales to their children of the pre-Empire Depression: That old muñequita becomes the family’s reason for being, their self-reinforcing tale of duty. "We are needed. We lifted humanity out of catastrophe. We are needed. We cannot go back. We are needed. We must serve." That sense of collective duty has always run strong in La Familia. Even though centralizing, primogeniture power resides in the Emperor, he or she still rules at the consent of their cousins. In fact, there are certain key decisions that will not and can not be made without the rest of the family's consent: The so-called "Grand Council Decisions". Before his death, Conrado had formally identified four situations that were so critical to Imperial rule that the entire family must be consulted in a Grand Council. For example, an Emperor could not unilaterally declare and fight an effective war if even a tiny percentage of their Drive Corps operators refused to pinch space for their warships: That would be a recipe for disaster. So the full force of La Familia had to be called, had to be cajoled, and had to be convinced. And in so doing, the decision could thus be made binding -- truly binding -- across all the family branches who served.. Emperor Pablo II’s unilateral declaration of war against the Tesskans is an example of the disaster that ========================= The sole surviving page of Rogelio Cruz’s banned book: “Mi Familia: An Inside Look at the Drive Corps, IndústriaGlobo, and La Familia”.