A Canton on its Own
Spengler, as most would put it, is a city within a city. The Canton might be within Albeit’s borders, but for all intents and purposes, the people living within it are in their own town—or country, even. The “Regiment” is to thank for that.
As one Hauraki resident put it, “Spengler’s a little like the Vatican City of Albeit. It’s powerful, it’s prestigious, but you know they don’t have much to do with Rome.”
At the time of Albeit’s foundation, which occurred near the waning moments of the 20th century, a large group—they called themselves “The Regiment”—arrived from the Northeast. They had been looking for a place to establish themselves and increase their membership, and saw the Canton of Spengler as the perfect opportunity. Enough “Regiment Members” were there to fill all the construction, planning and architectural requirements, meaning the whole region was built by—and for—the same group of people.
Many have derided the Canton as a cult, saying the government should look into the practices that occur “within Spengler’s borders.” The fault with this reasoning is that it excludes the 30% of Spengler’s residents who have nothing to do with the Regiment, but who instead found available housing and chose to live there. According to those non-Regiment residents?
“It’s not a cult. It’s not overbearing. They’re normal people who just happen to be part of a society, like lots of Albeitians,” one Spengler resident said.
The Regiment is an independent group in the strict sense of the term; in other words, they do not depend on anyone. Members of the group handle everything from construction to education to financing, making Spengler seem more like a colony than an urban district. Within the Regiment, everyone is given an “Order” and a “Rank” within that Order, similar to what one might find in the military. These two items dictate social life within the commune, though not in the way many Albeitians might expect.
“People criticize us, saying that real families don’t rank people,” one member of the Regiment said. “Well, sure they do. The older siblings are treated with more respect than the toddlers. The most successful uncles command the most conversation at the family reunion. We accept that we’re not all equal, and that we all belong to different Orders, but our ability to accept and cherish our differences is what gives us such a strong family atmosphere.”
Unfortunately, these sorts of explanations rarely make it to Albeit proper. City residents know the Regiment mainly for the parades they orchestrate around Spengler, with many posting the “Cult marches” online and sneering at their militaristic atmosphere. Others might have attended a friend’s Rank ceremony, in which the person in question is promoted to a new level of respect and significance. What Albeitians never see are the humorous game nights that members of the group partake in, or the walks families enjoy around Spengler’s varied gardens. Such experiences are usually limited to reporters and wayward citizens.
The Regiment lives in a geometrically designed area, with four residential areas—named after their corresponding compass points—overlooking a central complex that houses workspaces, social areas, sports facilities, dining areas and utilities. Eschewing the subway, most members of the Regiment travel by underground walkways that connect their houses to the complex. In the winter, some members of the organization go months without having to travel outside. When they do venture into the public life, few Albeitians can distinguish them from the rest of the city’s residents; the order’s members are just as friendly, warm and engaging as anyone else within Albeit’s borders.
Slowly but surely, respect for the Regiment is increasing. The group’s distinct style of living embodies the independence and creativity that Albeit itself is known for. Until full acceptance comes around, however, the group’s members will have to deal with a general public that fails to understand their way of life.