NATION

PASSWORD

Who We Are, and Aren't

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:17 pm

School Caffe
Devras


“Well no, they never have done anything weird that anyone has noticed,” one young man was saying as a group of them sat, enjoying their lunch hour between classes. “Never been anything but fair decent, too. You know that, Dano.”

“Yeah, I know. The old man just gets talking sometimes. Says some odd things is all,” the other youth answered, shrugging eloquently. “Have a hard time squaring that with what we’ve seen, after all the time we’ve known them.”

Another nodded in agreement. “And their mama … how many get to say they’ve had the Imperatrice cook for them, yes? We’ve all been up to the villa when the twins have had parties. You ever see anything out of place?”

“Other than those odd guards they have, and the spooky way her consort and some of them have of looking at you, DeSera,” offered a fourth. “You know the way they do. Like they’re looking right through you, knowing things they shouldn’t.”

Dano shivered a bit at that. “Maybe there is something to some of what they say about foreigners, but I still don’t get all the outright hate, even if they are a little … different. Did you feel guilty or something, Santi?”

The fourth who’d spoke shook his head. “No, not like that. Not like they can read minds or anything. You know, just that … weighing and measuring sort of feel.”

Back to the first who’d been listening quietly, seeming deep in thought. “The bottom line really is what are we going to do about any of it? Shouldn’t change where we stand, should it? We’ve gone to school with them their whole lives. They’re set to be more the rulers of the people - hearts and minds - than anyone we’ve had in a long history, if what the books say is true. And look, until lately, haven’t things been good?”

The others exchanged looks, nodding between them. DeSera was the one who answered. “They’re friends, Vito. I don’t care what some of the people are saying. They bleed same as the rest of us. Remember the time Luc took that ball to the face trying to block it?”

There was a general chuckle and grins share between them. “Yeah, we thought his mama was going to have us hauled off for a moment. But all she did was make an ice pack and clean him up. Had a black eye and a fat lip for a bit, but who wouldn’t?,” Dano said, using his hands for emphasis.

“Neither him or Gabe were mad, either,” agreed Santi. “The way his nose had bled, was sure we’d broken it.”

“No one intended it,” Vito interjected.

“Of course. These things, they happen.” A slight shrug and spread of hands by Santi, one they all understood, and nodded in agreement with.

“So?” Vito continued, looking between the gathered friends. “When the time comes, yes?”

Si, capisco.” That was answer enough for all four of them, for now.

They’d seen the shift in Devras, had watched the twins slowly become more wary. The death of their decidedly unpleasant classmate had brought a lot of it to the forefront, given the whispers here and there in the crowd, the talk of the fight on the beach by some, the absence of the twins by others, the approval of yet still others on the fund that had been set up for by the government, and thus, by the imperial family.

One could hardly grow up in the Dominion and not be familiar with the political undercurrents, the tells that hinted of problems and what they meant, the changes in the weather, so to speak. Sometimes they were small, dealing with local issues. Other times … they all had eyes and ears. And they weren’t the only ones quietly discussing what side of things they wished to be standing when the chips were finally down, and the players - whoever they might be - were at the table.

Plans were being made, whether contingency or active plotting to one degree or other, across Devras, and further out. Some for the status quo, some firmly against, still others looking to take advantage of any potential upset or resulting chaos in which some profit could be made. All were aware that they were not alone in this, and that above all, the government would be keeping tabs. Many were quite secure in their actions, regardless. The innocent, believing the would be fine given their lack of involvement, or even absence as they made arrangements to be elsewhere entirely. Others felt their cause was just, and were being quietly goaded on from various sources, including social or monetary pressures they could now blame a specific target for. Some didn’t care, as they weren’t ‘doing anything wrong’ in the first place. Not yet, in any case.

For those who were trying to gauge the ebb and flow of the shifting tides, as was usual in the Dominion, the waters had become very clouded indeed. And many leads they tracked down ended up going nowhere, or at the very least, nowhere very important. Dozens of small incidents were caught and shut down without much of the public even realizing anything had been wrong, or in the works. A few caused a stir in their local areas, feeding the flames and adding to the overall unease.

----- ----- -----

Devras, Gianfigliazzi Building
Dominion Government Offices


Naiya sat at her downtown office desk, a small note in her hand, her brows creased. Yes, yes, she had his word. Were it not for that, she would be marginally terrified at what Nesar could possibly be getting up to. She wasn’t at all convinced of what limitations he may or may not have, and she’d seen the darkness in him that night when they’d spoken. Almost as if it were an armor of sorts that he kept inside most times, and wore outwardly when necessary.

And Courror … yes, she could trust him too for similar yet different reasons. She didn’t want either to be put in a position where they had to choose fight or flight, the latter not due to any harm they might come to, but rather the harm they’d end up causing in their defence. Most of her people hadn’t the slightest idea of the people and things around them, and what they could do. Their world was relatively simple - what you could see, hear, touch, taste, feel. There was so much more beyond that. And unlike the saying, what you didn’t know could very well kill you without a second thought.

Thankfully, most of that, here at least, appeared to be on her side. Hopefully. The source of at least the greater part of the upset hadn’t revealed anything unnatural, or supernatural. Even abnormal, though she’d tentatively tried to sense whether anything along those lines was operating in the area, and found not so much as a whisper of the arcane or as some might say, ‘squiddy’.

She had worked so hard to keep her true identity hidden, to shield her family from the fear and outrage she knew would erupt if the nation wholeheartedly believed any of the rumors, from far-flung to altogether too close for comfort. She hadn’t hidden who her father was - her mother hadn’t really either, so much as not actively advertised the fact. That was something she had never intended to, nor was prepared to do. Especially after all that had happened. The results of the DNA tests with the children had been an interesting ethnic blend, but showed nothing non-human in the results - just as she’d known they would.

Still. How far would she go in order to protect them, and her nation and seat of power? How far could she, and still maintain those things? And was that the point of all the unrest, or was she simply being needlessly paranoid?

“Only two kinds,” she murmured, tucking the note away again, and turning her attention back to the list of potential causes for vendetta, treason, upset, and unrest.
Last edited by Dread Lady Nathicana on Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:25 pm

Il Volte
Local News, At Your Fingertips


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Tensions have continued to rise as upset over immigration and other related matters are discussed both in the government, and on the streets. One of the talking points appears to be the recent suggestion that some foreign expatriates or government organizations be allowed to purchase property in the Dominion; something that has not been legal since the nation was nothing more than a loose conglomeration of city-states.

Angry protests have begun to crop up across the region, with the government thus far allowing citizens to voice their concerns. Unfortunately, there have been sporadic incidents of violence, which the soldati have been quick to step in and break up. There has been minimal damage to public and private properties as a result, and reports have confirmed that for now, no serious physical harm has resulted. Locally, a group of international students, in response to a previous violent interruption of their annual event, came under fire when they organized a peaceful sit-in at the Piazza San Bernardi. They were soon harassed, and subsequently pelted with food and drink by nationals shouting at them to 'go home' and 'stop cluttering our streets'. Given the close proximity to the government buildings and high class businesses and tourist spots, the scene was quickly shut down, and both groups were dispersed by soldati with strict instructions to 'not return and continue their activities'.

Protesters claim to be standing up for native rights, wanting to ensure that the Dominion is not once again subject to outside influences and powers through peace as it has in the past through war and invasion. While it is true today’s Dominion has a variety of influences that have contributed to the ambiance and culture, such things happened long enough ago that the inferred irony does not appear to have deterred claims of cultural degradation, foreign ‘pollution’ of the native way of life, and the undercurrent of concern for foreign influence over Dominion policies and governance.

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Going back several decades, former Imperatrice Nathicana D’Aquisto, surprised many by not only joining in an alliance, but taking part in the formation of a second while readily reaching out to foreign powers in trade, in the exchange of ideas and culture, as well as integration of Dominion citizens into alliance militaries. Throughout her reign, there were occasional bursts of displeasure over these choices, along with an attempted coup early on in her historically lengthy tenure the Dread Lady. Unlike her predecessor, daughter Naiya D’Aquisto has taken a more lenient track in dealing with instances of upset or negative popular opinion. As of this time, the Ministry has not released any statement other than to urge the populace to express their opinions safely and responsibly, whatever side of an argument they appear to be on, further stating that the government will continue to serve the Dominion people, keeping their interests at the forefront.

Those opposing the idea of a rise in nationalism have claimed an increase in petty crimes, and incidents of harassment, threats, as well as simple acts of discrimination over the past year. They say the government is not doing enough to shut down hateful talk and prosecute those who allegedly commit crimes based on their increasingly xenophobic views. Counter protests have begun to spring up in answer, claiming that the Dominion’s colorful tapestry of peoples is what has made it the nation it is today, and that bringing others into the mix is simply following in the steps of our forefathers.

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A new aspect of the social movement has been the gradual inclusion of some previously external elements. Over the past several weeks, members of groups such as Forza Nuova, Carrocio, La Destra, Flamma Tricolore, and CasaPound have been showing up at rallies, supposedly ‘supporting their like-minded brothers in keeping their cultures free of foreign corruption’, as one masked attendant was quoted as saying.

The predominant group developing here appears to be Fratellanza del Dominio, professing a desire to return to a simpler time of reasonable isolation. More pointed aims can be read in a recent statement made by Umberto Salvini on the group’s web page:

“We need to remember who we are. Who we are meant to be. We need to be men of morals in keeping with our rich heritage. To keep our women and children safe, secure, and provided for. To keep our bloodlines pure, and our traditions rooted firmly in Dominion soil.”

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Cries of foul play by counter protesters, pointing out that drawing foreign support would seem to be out of keeping have been ignored, with the group repeatedly defending their allies as being ‘of like mind and like kin’, sharing both history, genealogy given their home nations of Italy, Renaldi, and Dominae - often referred to as sister-nations. Another difference claimed by the group is that their support, unlike others, does not intend to ‘overstay their welcome’. Many have taken that statement as a subtle threat against expatriates currently living within Dominion borders. The Ministry has yet to officially respond to that allegation, though groups like the Brotherhood and their supporters have been quick to condemn any attendance by or involvement of foreign counter-protesters to any of the rallies, stating that 'this is just the sort of meddling' they're talking about.

While not without precedent, these protests and social unrest have opened a new chapter in Dominion history, where previously, a little complaint would be overlooked, but too much would have been quieted down rather swiftly. Some have praised the Imperatrice for taking a less heavy-handed approach, and allowing citizens to speak their minds. Others have criticized the decision, stating that this sort of talk has no place in forward-thinking societies, and places where historical movements such as the Renaissance took place, ushering in new thinking and reasoning.

Still others criticize her supposed ‘inability’ to keep the peace - more often than not, those already calling for change, as odd as that may seem to some. They say that the usual order of things was stymied by the previous leader’s long rule. Some have gone so far as to suggest that situations that required reasoning and logic had been guided by an ‘overly-emotional hand’, leading to some of the less popular periods in recent memory, such as Dominion involvement in the Ardan reclamation war. Having another woman follow directly after has not sat well with groups holding such beliefs, in spite of a thus far peaceful rule.

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Old family vendettas have begun rising to the surface, as the so-called ‘new nobles’, now several decades on, find new reasons to jockey for social and with renewed hope, political position, many throwing weight behind protesters or counter-protesters, depending on the views held by each.

What isn’t clear is what instigated much of the unease, and how it has grown exponentially since the first rumblings were noted in various parts of the nation. Some have shrugged it off as growing pains that civilizations occasionally go through, or count it as ‘too much, too soon’ in regards to the popular yet unfamiliar freedoms that have come to be the norm for Dominion citizens, ironically often introduced by close proximity to allied nations and factions. When questioning random citizens in Devras, we ran across several who were of the opinion that perhaps the protesters had a point or two worth heeding, in that we may have had too much change come too quickly for such a tradition-bound people to adapt to, though most hesitated to throw full support to any one group.

Whatever the base causes, it is clear we have reached a turning point, and one that will have to be addressed one way or another by the nation’s leadership. The unrest surely cannot be allowed to continue - which is something everyone who we spoke to could agree on. All that remains, in this reporter’s opinion is to see how far the Imperatrice will have to go to restore order, what fallout will result, and how history will view it all going forward.

--Nesta Valli

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Roania
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Co-Op with DLN.

Postby Roania » Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:40 pm

“People say that there are differences between the races and the species.” One minute he wasn’t there, and the next he was, leaning on her wall, facing away from her while at the same time giving the air of being very aware of everything she was doing. “Between cultures as well. Indeed, these people say these things very loudly indeed, Naiya.” The assassin was dressed in the garb he had been wearing when second they’d met; a loose grey jacket over a suit of the highest quality. “Especially now.” He was… sharper than usual. More well-defined; his edges didn’t trail into the shadows.

“I do not agree.” The omnipresent cigarette dripped ash onto the rug… or towards the rug, though it didn’t reach it. “Those who fight the future, and those who would embrace it. The ones who call themselves natives, those they would call foreigners. Ultimately, what is the difference? They are all ash and bone and dust. But I. I endure. Come what may.” He chuckled, and in that dry laugh was centuries of hunger. “What does it matter?” The cigarette vanished in a puff of smoke, replaced with a flower that withered and died. “...except to you.” The flower blossomed and vanished itself in a burst of flame, and he drew the cigarette to his lips and inhaled deeply. “You care. You would care even were I to tell you that before you have tired of this life, you will have forgotten all of their faces and all of their names. Would you not?”

Naiya had sensed the change in her room before she saw and heard him, but hadn’t been certain until she did. Long ago, he hadn’t seemed quite so frighteningly capable on some levels. But then, she’d been a child, and had a child’s perceptions, lacking her current abilities as well. Now … she wasn’t at all certain where his limits lay, or indeed, what they were, or how easily it would be to determine their existence. Now was certainly not the time to explore it, regardless.

She casually pulled on the short robe she’d been reaching for, then sat down in one of the two chairs she had sitting to either side of a tall window, gesturing for him to join her if he were so inclined. “I would,” she answered simply, acknowledging it with a nod. The reasoning behind it all was complicated, and even though some of the factors had changed, her determination to see it through had not. “It’s a part of who I am, Nesar.”

“No, my most noble of ladies.” He didn’t turn, yet. “Do not speak so lightly of yourself. You care not because of who you are.” His fist clenched around the cigarette, and powder dropped (though again it didn’t “reach the floor). “You care because on some level you know it is a lie. That you will not forget their faces. You will not forget the lives you save or those you touch. I can see it in you, shining like a beacon. And I… I am jealous.” He laughed, and this laugh had something of the mortal about it. “Not of you. But of them. To be held so deeply in your affection, just as an accident of your and their births.” The man shook his head. “And that is why it upsets me, so, what is happening. I will speak plainly. We, I, you, the living, we are not so different, wherever we may be. You have been good to your people. Far kinder than most I could think of. And yet, you are abused, you are held in contempt, you are called…” The fist clenched again, as though it was around someone’s neck. “This does not seem right to me. To protect a woman, to reclaim a woman, to defend her. These are the natural rallying cries of a mob when confronted by a beautiful woman who is to sit at their head. To find you a good native husband,” and that word was spoken as if it caused him tremendous pain even to contemplate, “One who would… guide you. So my experience leads me to believe. You are young, you are beautiful, and you are self-evidently fertile.” Nesar said this last with absolute dispassion. “And yet, you are attacked directly. You are not a treasure to be taken, you are at best a neutral party or at worst an enemy.” He did turn now, and he held his hands out. “I am not so egotistical as to assume that this is because they know anyone who sought you against your will would have to face me.” And his smile was as open as it had ever been. “It is because you are written off. You are unworthy of salvage. If that be on your head or your blessed mother’s, I do not pretend to know, but it is odd. And that is why, my love, I said that it was too personal.”

Her chin had come up ever so slightly as he described some of what was going on beyond the walls of her private sanctuary. Yes, she was aware. Yes, it irritated her to no end that she couldn’t simply make it all go away, and that she wasn’t willing to take things yet to the point her mother had on several occasions, all at once. She wasn’t angry with him, of course. Simply the situation, and the fact that they hadn’t been able to determine the source of the increasingly cutting remarks, the demanding machismo that had been on display.

“When in a position of leadership, you unfortunately put yourself under a microscope in many ways. My mother made many friends, yes, but she also made many enemies. There have been things that I’ve done that have had similar results, even if said actions had nothing to do with any of them, and were personal only to me. Our culture … has had its drawbacks, yes. Mama had to work much harder to take what she did, all the more because she was a woman. Of course its personal. For some of these people, the very fact that a woman sits as head of state is an insult to their manhood,” she finished somewhat tiredly.

“Threats, violence? None of that will change those minds. Which is part of why initially at least, we let them vent, thinking soon enough, it would blow over as most of these things tend to do. But something, someone, has been feeding the flames this time, keeping the momentum going. Hopefully if we find the head, and eliminate it, the rest of the serpent may wriggle about for a while, but will gradually die. Then we can continue to lead by example, to teach and enlighten where we can, without directly attacking what many see as core to their being, if that makes any sense. I’m strong enough to weather it, Nesar.”

“If you were not, Naiya, I would not love you.” It was a simple statement, made as he finally took the offered seat and leaned forward. “You are far stronger than I, I would say.” His eyes stayed at a point, though, above and to the right of her head. “And perhaps you always have been. I tell you little you do not know, and what secrets I keep, I keep for you, not from you.” Which could mean anything and everything and nothing. “I was hoping that you would have a target; a list, names of men or organizations. But it is not always so convenient, and that is why I hunt.” He sighed, and for a moment let his eyes move down to meet hers. Hunger and desire shone brightly in him, tinged with a hint of pain and a far more subtle fear. “You shine so bright. Even those who cannot see as we, as your peers, can see, can see it. It is natural to want to possess such a treasure. And yet someone wishes to destroy you. Perhaps it is my love speaking, but I cannot help but fear that that is their overriding desire. It makes me… cautious.” He leaned back, and his eyes once more slipped to the point above and to the right of her head, to which he directed his next comment. “I swore to you that I would put the monster away, Imperatrice.” His voice became stiff and formal. “And I will not break my oaths. Neither to you nor to myself. But I cannot promise mercy. I will find your enemy, and I will end them.”

She was at a dangerous point. She knew this. She could not outright acknowledge some of what he was saying, not and maintain the proper demeanor. Or end up inadvertently insulting him, or hurting him more than she already had, she was certain. There were so many things she could say, relating to the distance she felt between herself and so many others due to the choices she’d made. How she had to hide so much of herself from the rest of the world. He knew, somehow. He always had, or had at least sensed the potential. She hadn’t dared speak of it all openly to him. What good was a secret if you told everyone? Granted, he wasn’t everyone. He never had been, but all those thoughts suddenly running wild in her head weren’t helping in keeping the perspective rational.

Perhaps that might excuse what she did then, by reflex more than anything. She’d done it so often with those she was close to, or those she wished to comfort somehow, or offer support to. Without thinking, she let down just enough of that tightly-bound vault that the smallest part of her thought could lightly brush against his, offering some gentle measure of comfort and understanding, in lieu of empty words and gestures that she knew would mean less than nothing.

“That is a dangerous path.” He said, without looking at her. But he did not withdraw from her touch, as he had in the past. There was… more of Nesar, beneath the surface. A maelstrom of lives there hadn’t been time to live, of deaths that had not been the end, of voices raised and suddenly stilled and yet not stilled, and there was pain that knew no relief and pleasure that blended into it seamlessly and incongruously, and sorrow that knew no joy and joy that knew no sorrow, and an iron fist that held it all tight and then the veil of his thought closed on hers. “Did you think I was joking, when I called myself a monster?” He didn’t sound angry. More… exhausted. Worn.

It had all been there, so sharp and clear for the briefest of moments, like a bottle of the strongest spice when first cracked open - breathtaking, overpowering, and still somehow no less desirable. Dangerous, he’d said, and she agreed, for some if not all of the same reasons. And all the same, she wanted to make some of that hurt somehow go away. Naiya simply wasn’t sure how she could do that here and now.

“I’m sorry,” she said first, sincerely. She hadn’t thought about what she’d done until she’d done it, and now a part of her almost regretted it. She wasn’t being fair, for one thing. Nor was it her intent to lead him on in any way just now. She wasn’t in a position to do so and mean anything by it, and that was something she wouldn’t intentionally do to even the sorts of people who were currently arguing she ought to be replaced if not married off to someone more culturally palatable.

“Certain acts tend to remove the concept of mercy from the table,” she finally replied to his earlier comments. “And thus, none ought to be expected. But we have to be certain, Nesar. Not before then. Please.”

“As you say, Imperatrice.” He sounded yet more tired. “I have never expected mercy, and I certainly do not extend it. But…” He breathed, now, something he must always do, but rarely was it ever noticed, a stretch of hunched shoulders and the rise and fall of a chest that usually seemed so steady. It would be a sigh, one of exhaustion and resignation, in any other man. “We must be certain. Otherwise, why unleash the hound? I must return to the hunt. I will inform you if I turn anything up.” And he was there, and then he was gone.

“Gods be damned,” she muttered quietly, gently biting her lower lip as she tended to do when troubled and unsure on what to do about it. There was no telling when, but it was a situation that would, eventually, have to be faced fully. And dealt with, definitively. She owed him that, at the very least, and likely a good bit more.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Late Night Introspection

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:36 pm

She had never intended to offend. Of course, the ability to take any situation and make it worse merely by way of attempting to do something to help had become a family trait. Or at least, a poor family joke. Her mother had been the worst, really. Of course, her tendency to live on the edge, to do as she liked and expect the world would fall in line behind her had been the cause of a lot of it, not that she would ever admit it. That said, her mother would have taken Nesar as often and as easily as she chose, were their positions reversed, and had no shame about it in the least. And again, look at the trouble some of that had caused. She herself was one of the more striking results.

There was a momentary smirk at that thought. At least she no longer felt bitter about her existence, as she had for a time when younger, but really. The pain that could have been avoided with a modicum of restraint and … well, decency? The still young woman rolled her eyes heavenwards and murmured a quiet apology to her not-present mother for such uncharitable thoughts, though she held onto them nonetheless. Some things she simply could not now in good faith do. No, she and Aeturnus weren’t married, and had no intention of succumbing to societal or religious pressure to do so. What they'd discovered transcended that. And yet ...

That night when Nesar had met her on Machiavelli, when she’d run off to find a father she wasn’t even sure was there? She had nearly been ready to do something then, and only partially to upset her mother. Quite a lot of her had intended on leading him to one of the clubs, using her current outfit and boundless youthful energy to full advantage, and see just what all the fuss was about for herself, in spite of the fears she’d always had of intimacy due to her unusual situation, her mother’s many indiscretions, and the unforeseen consequences they’d produced. Had he known? Did he know now? She’d been so close to throwing caution to the wind, to ignoring the difference in ages, and all the rest and just lose herself in the arms and bed of this tall, dark, mysterious man who had always treated her with respect and had hinted at so much … and then, of course, life happened, as it tended to do. The moment was lost, larger concerns took precedence, and here she was, thinking back yet again with a mixed sense of curiosity and, were she honest, regret.

Naiya had tried to balance what she’d learned from her mother with what she’d learned from others, and on her own, and in looking more closely at what was, what she hoped would be, and more, what she simply felt was the right direction to nudge things. Clearly, some things had gone amiss, or she wouldn’t be looking at how best to cut the legs off of the hateful protests that were getting more and more dangerous in nature without becoming the worst of what her mother had been. With a nation such as the Dominion, it was not an easy balance to keep. Just as it was difficult to keep in one's private life, it seemed. The powers above and below only knew how well she understood that. After all, in spite of the fears, here she was, with the twins by a father they'd never know, and a consort who accepted them as if they were his, pursued by a another who saw past all of that and saw only her, and what the future might hold, with the rest being as inconsequential as the grains of sand strewn along the cliffs below.

Now again, she’d taken a wrong step. She was certain Nesar wouldn’t have left so quickly were that not the case. Had reassuring him of their course been the wrong thing? Stating an understood point between two - well, conspirators might not be quite the term, but the meaning was somewhat lost in translation - partners was something understood as a confirmation. An accord. And a spoken contract of sorts, noting that she had to be responsible for having made the correct judgment before handing someone over to him to do as he pleased. The onus was on her … but she couldn’t help but think that she had inferred it lay on his shoulders. And that would undoubtedly have been taken as an insult.

“Oh Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Fanged-God … Nesar, you are so damnably complicated,” she muttered aloud. “And I’m so damnably Dominesse.”

Well. At least in most respects.

This was yet another crossroads where she knew it could be so much easier were she to simply ease the strictures she kept on herself. She was, unbeknownst to most save a small group of family and trusted friends, no mere mortal. Not anymore. She was perhaps the last Maiar living within this particular sphere, now that her father had faded, along with his homeland, back into the aether that occasionally swallowed whole worlds, let alone continents, countries, and people. Broken reality, they still called it, but it never made it any more easy to deal with when friends or loved ones lay on the other side of the unseen rift.

Throw off the shackles, rise up and command, lead from a place of true power and broader knowledge, rather than sit cramped and limited within the human-seeming shell … there would be no more uprisings, she would deal with the instigators firmly but fairly, and use her power for the good of the nation as well as the individuals inside it. She could heal so many hurts, stop so much pain …

And they would hate and fear her for it. And they would fear her sons, though they were through and through, human, as per the agreement she had made with the powers when she was still trying to wrap her head around what it all meant, and what it was she might have to do to protect those she cared about, and past that, perhaps even the world or further. The scenario had long ago been put on a shelf, but never quite forgotten. Nor had her reasons for keeping who and what she was perfectly silent, hardly daring any more than what she had earlier with Nesar - the same light surface sensory tastes she’d known since she was a young child, and hadn’t thought anything of it, having always had the ability to read further than one ought. Such things were dangerous, just as he’d suggested, and for a number of different reasons entirely apart from what he’d referred to.

Naiya was still determined to see it through, at least until her children were safely in charge of the empire, and she was more an afterthought than anything.

And for the rest? What she and Aeturnus enjoyed had no guarantees. They were both unique in their situations and beings. They had no idea of the limitations that may or may not exist. Would she in fact watch him fade as she would most everyone else in her life? Would she, as Nesar suggested, grow tired of the unending succession of too-short lives, and the pain that went with each passing? Would she eventually fade as well, having been cut off, so far as she could tell, from the distant silver shores of a place no longer reached by straight roads even when Arda was still attainable?

Running both hands through her thick, dark hair, Naiya sighed slowly, slumping down in the comfortable bedroom chair into a decidedly not at all imperial posture. As if she didn’t have enough to think about, now she was again staring out into the abyss, and damned if it wasn’t starting to stare back a bit. She wondered about her mother then, and where she was out in the vastness of space, along with at least part of her beloved Auntie Shodey, trusted Zia and confidant. At least she wasn’t here to see all of this, and gods willing, she wouldn’t hear of it either. That really would be the last straw, especially after some of the other odd reports coming in concerning reality shifts and possible reappearances.

Having no better idea for now, Naiya pushed herself up and out of the chair, and wandered over to the small desk she had against the other wall, not sitting down, but rather leaning over the desk as she wrote out her thoughts. He’d left notes before as well, damned if she knew how he did it. Perhaps he might have a way of getting this one as well. And if not, well … she would deal with the fallout as it came. There were other calls she would have to make in the morning. The recent news had her feeling twitchy, like when she’d known there were enemy eyes on her location in the frozen Ardan wastes. Things were about to break, and she could no longer afford to try and be the benevolent Imperatrice. Not when people were being hurt.

But first, Nesar.

My Dear Defender,

There are many things that could be said of you, but that you are unworthy of my trust is not one of them. You have never, to my knowledge, betrayed me, or lead me into harm’s way, whatever your reasons, and whatever my mother’s reservations have been concerning you. Never have I turned my back on you, nor tried to banish you from my presence, or my thoughts. Nor do I intend to now.

I apologize if my words or manners offended you. We are sometimes so caught up in our own intricate dance of subtleties and unwritten customs that we forget here in the Dominion, that we do so often to our own undoing. And I fear that somehow I have done that again.

There is an overarching responsibility I have to these people, this nation. And in no small part, to myself if I am to be true to my convictions and goals. Whoever is behind the unrest, I must be certain of, beyond a shadow of a doubt. I have to be the one answerable for any actions taken, for any choices made. And in asking your understanding of the weight that bears on me, I fear my confirmation of our pact was taken in ways I never meant.

I don’t see this ‘monster’ you speak of when I look at you. Power, mystery, a thousand and more hurts and secrets, loss and perhaps even regret, yes. Danger, admittedly. Perhaps even enticingly, were I honest. But in the end, I see someone as unique and out of place as myself, who has often gone out of his way for me, and has too often been at the right place at the wrong time and come out of it with nothing as I’ve blindly continued on.

There is no telling where our paths may go. But I do not intend to lose you to the darkness, whatever else happens. Should you throw yourself in, I will find a way to pluck you back out. You deserve better, no matter what you’ve done in your past, or what you believe you’ve done. We all have our secrets, the dark spots on our souls, to one degree or other. They are a part of us, but they needn’t define us.

Candidly yours,

--Naiya

P.S. - Should you be so inclined, you may want to reach out to one Courror of Oyada who finds himself in my service. He’s proven himself to be decidedly resourceful on occasion. You may even enjoy the company, though I’ll warn he does have his rough edges.


She left the note lying on her desk, folded once, but with his name written on the upwards-turned side. There was no telling if he’d see, or even bother to read if he did. Perhaps she’d done nothing more than to throw her thoughts out on paper, and what was done was done. Tomorrow, life would again go on, and whether or not another opportunity had been missed, she might never know.

Naiya crossed the room quietly and slipped under the covers of her large and previously very empty bed, glancing across the space that would usually be occupied by her consort, and watched the play of the crescent moon along the ocean. Sleep wasn’t exactly a necessity, but tonight, she felt a sense of tiredness in her bones that could only be eased by wrapping her arms around her pillow, curling up around it, and consciously shutting down after a brief touch of her mind down the hall where the boys were already asleep. Tomorrow would be there soon enough, and not even the Valar knew what that might bring.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
Retired Moderator
 
Posts: 26053
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:25 pm

Devras, The Dominion Capital

The rally had been planned far enough in advance, and spread across the various social media outlets as such things generally were in many locations. The fact that it, and several of the groups participating in it had been very quietly funded for some time, (through enough back-door methods and laundered means to turn most agency heads on end,) only helped feed the numbers and other factors. The increased organization being displayed to the point of having even applied for a special venue dispensation as large groups often did for their events. This was new. And done so neatly, so legally, the authorities had a difficult time turning it down with good reason. They had already intended to have increased security, given how some of the more random and spontaneous rallies had gone.

Of course such a thing couldn’t be kept quiet, and the opposition had gotten involved as well, attempting an injunction with their own accusations and claims in the week leading up to the event. Judges even heard the arguments, as did several Ministry officials, but in the end, it was decided that letting it play out may be in everyone’s best interests. With the additional hope that they might be able to tag some of the ringleaders for further tracking and tracing.

Funding had been made for the opposition as well it seemed, and oddly enough, by different yet similar methods. This had the local spooks more than a little ruffled, and a number of scenarios had already been discussed, investigated, and offered up little but dead ends, same as with the nationalists. Yes, it was possible that a variety of entities had been funneling money to either side of the argument - there were a number of movements and groups now involved, not all of them local or homegrown. And several lay far enough outside their reach to comfortably vet as well as they’d prefer.

Uncomfortable discussions took place in Naiya’s office and other meeting rooms within the Gianfigliazi building, and other even more secluded locations, where everyone was looked at again, under increasingly critical gazes. Allies were not discounted any more than known enemies, even long past, or the usual troublemakers. Contingencies were developed according to various plausibilities and filed alongside other, previous such plans that were simply part and parcel of running a government, whether one liked it or not. The Imperatrice gradually became more brooding and quiet, speaking firmly where needed, and listening, calculating more often than not.

The villa and surrounding compound became more visibly patrolled, heavily guarded. The Lost and her combined team were always present, of course. But now, there was also an obvious military presence, and at other points and palazzos around the area. The Piazza San Bernardi had been cleared for the first time in recent memory, with shops pulling in their outdoor displays and tables ahead of the event.

The Basilica itself would remain open, the Church officially stated, but noted that they reserved the right to deny any entrance should the priests or factors determine them to be a problem, and that only the front entrance and exit would be accessible by the public, where visitors would be subjected to a painless check prior to entry. Along with this, the Church officially requested all who were determined to come to the Piazza to come peacefully to exchange ideas, and to come together in order to work past their differences. All were children under God, and God of course wished us to be kind to one another, to love thy neighbor, and other such supplications.

Constabulary and soldati forces wandered in force throughout the city as well in the days leading up to what many supporters were calling Cultura Pura, or the call for an unsullied heritage and culture. More people gradually flooded the capital, filling the hotels, and increasing the overall tension across the board. The expected increase in calls concerning things like ‘hooliganism’, ‘vandalism’, ‘pickpocketing’, and of course, ‘drunk and disorderly’ wasn’t really seen as a problem. Large crowds always drew the negative elements, and so many people in one place just tended to grate on one another after a while.

This time, however, the atmosphere seemed different. People smiled less, were less inclined to greet others in the streets, and instead, went about their business with furtive glances and if not outright fearful, at least watchful looks. Where before, natives gathered at the various piazzas in and around the city, they were more often now places for various factions to stand around and talk, watching over their shoulders, noting who came and went, and with whom, and how many were watching them in turn.

Shutters often closed earlier, the street lights offering a cooler glow to the Devras night than the stringed bulbs and outdoor candles or torches that were usually popular, but now tended to be absent. Music drifted out onto the streets rather than spilled out into it, and street performers seemed to have found the crowds less enticing than usual when the city filled. A general watchfulness hung like a shroud more often than not. Some businesses even closed their doors early save to their regulars after certain hours, with those then hunkered down over their bottles and glasses, murmuring furtively about the changes, shaking their heads, even making signs to ward off evil in the cases of those more superstitious. Those who chose to speak too loudly in favor of or against the goings on were generally asked to leave. Or in some cases, thrown out.

This is the Devras Naiya looked out over from across the bay on the eve of the gathering, biting her lower lip and folding her arms around herself against the slight chill in the breeze from off the water below. The setting sun was still warming the capital, making it glow, showing none of the turmoil boiling below its surface. She still wasn’t convinced this was the right choice, but Batty had been convinced that this was the thing they needed to bring some of the snakes out into the open, so they could find and chop off the right heads.

Pellegrino had been uncharacteristically silent on the matter, not willing to commit one way or the other on the question, simply staring at the various reports as if his eyes could burn holes straight through to the source, unblinking and cold.

Cesare had excused himself for several days, asking forgiveness from her in particular as his wife’s delicate health had taken a turn for the worse, and he wanted to be with her. Of course, Naiya had sent him off with her blessing, and assurances that they would be able to manage, the usual prayers and well-wishes for both of them. That had been the only reaction Pellegrino had made, she reflected. Watching Calabrese walk slowly out the door with that telltale limp that he tried not to make much of, his cane tapping rhythmically on the stone floors. Watching with that same unblinking gaze for a few moments longer, then turning back to his reports.

She knew there’d been some tension, but had hoped that after all this time that had been put to rest. Some things never did change, one supposed. At least they had been able to work together in spite of it whatever differences they had with one another. They all had, really. Her entire Ministry had been well chosen, and worked exceedingly well, if she said so herself. Surely that would be enough. That, and the military. The soldati patrolling the streets. The web of informants they’d planted and cultivated. The payoffs. The bribes. The usual run of what passed for business and governance in the Dominion in the shadows, unmentioned out in the open.

There was a splash down below, and laughter following. The boys and their guest were enjoying the last of the evening light after dinner. She fervently hoped that whatever the day brought with it, her sons would be left well enough alone by it. They were already confined here at the villa, much to their dismay, and long arguments had already been held concerning her decision. Whatever else, they were the ones who had to come through this whole, untarnished, able to take up the mantle when it was time. Naiya could accept much of the nastiness and untruths when they were directed at herself - she had long ago shrugged that off. But her boys were who she had been doing so much of this for. Without that, so much of what she’d done, what she’d sacrificed, would be for nothing. She wasn’t about to allow that.

Come the morning, she would be at her office. She would watch what happened, and witness how the event unfolded. And, she had already decided, she would do what she had to - at least, what she could - to quietly search as well for the serpent hiding in her nation, poisoning her people, fouling its reputation. Things had gone far enough. And if this sham of a nod to the idea of ‘free expression’ and ‘patriotism’ that had been broiling in the background did not accomplish what they hoped?

Then the truly hard choices would have to be made.

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Oyada
Envoy
 
Posts: 218
Founded: May 13, 2008
Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:13 am

The soldat eyed Courror warily from behind her tinted glasses, checking whether the slightly mangled visage before her matched the equally mangled visage in his ID for the fourth time. Courror kept his face impassive, which didn't help; his neutral expression tended to be one of cold hostility, mainly thanks to all the bits of metal still dotted beneath his skin, and the scars of years of service. Behind his eyes, locked straight in front, nothing showed. He'd taken her in before reaching the checkpoint, unobtrusively tucked into an alcove formed when some space-hungry occupant had decided to extend a slope-walled villa out into the street by a few metres – doubtless to the ire of some ancient Councillor – and knew better than to look directly at nervous people with firearms unless invited. Her hand rested all too readily on her belt, within snatching distance of her sidearm, and her comrade on patrol to Courror's left paused a little longer than needed whenever his scan of the street and buildings passed over the Oyadan. Even beneath a long but light jacket and fairly baggy trousers, his body was obvious.

The soldat glanced him up and down again, frowning, and rattled off a soft stream of Italian into her radio. “Just checking something on your ID, sir. I'm sure you will be on your way soon,” she remarked in a controlled monotone. A moment passed before burst of static and an utterly incomprehensible waffling from the radio made her frown vanish, and she nodded, handing his ID card back over with haste.

Gratsiye” Courror grated quietly, and continued on his way, striding down an alley leading between the villa and an equally venerable church.

Dio, did you see this,” the soldat asked, staring at the shrouded screen in her little booth. Her companion paused in his patrolling, leaned over to peer at the monitor, and whistled. “Una macchina assassina.”




The woman's sky-blue eyes considered Courror above a wry but enthusiastic smile. She sniffed deeply, nostrils flaring, head cocked to one side like an inquisitive spaniel, and hummed. “I like the coat,” she finally announced, “and the pants are terrific. But I really think all these piercings have to go, and the lens decal is so last decade.”

“I'll keep that in mind,” he chuckled, shrugging the jacket off onto a waiting peg and stretching his neck a little. “Sadly, I never have been so good at fashion,” he lamented, boots thudding on the glazed floor tiles as he followed her down a low-arched corridor.

“Fashion is for the dilettante; for the professional, there is only utility,” she observed over he shoulder, raising a didactic digit.

“Exactly.” He met her eye with absolute seriousness, held it for just a second, before cracking into a broad smile. “Though we professionals cannot be serious all the time.” He breathed deeply, and as always, caught the faint tang of disinfectant.

She beckoned him to a long, reclined seat, surrounded by tall and ordered racks of prostheses, sealed trays of chips and connectors, and a neat trolley covered with gleaming surgical instruments. “So,” she asked smoothly, pouring a small measure of something sharp-scented from a nameless brown bottle, “how are you, William? Drink?”

“Very well to both, doctor,” Courror replied, “all things considered. It's getting dangerous to be obviously foreign here, but I can handle myself. For now, anyway. He reached for the proffered glass and took a cautious sip, swallowing the concoction quickly before it could linger too dangerous on his tastebuds; it slipped down his throat with the fuzzy heat of a jet plume. “Is this the latest mix?”

“The very latest vino del dottor Spirelli”, she beamed. “My first that can't be used as a topical antibiotic, and my first with raspberries! You want a bottle?”

Courror sank the rest of the glass and considered, rolling the potent brew around his tongue before dispatching it to his unsuspecting stomach. “Why not,” he conceded with upturned hands. “I always like to sample local cuisine.”

“Local?” Spirelli caught his eye and cracked a smile. “You still aren't one, then?”

“No.” He sighed. “No, and I think I never will be. But then, we professionals are resourceful, and our skills are international, no? At least, both of ours are,” he added with a dry smile.

Spirelli swallowed her own glass and laughed softly. “Well, people like you keep me in business, and people like me keep people like you in business. Cooperative symbiosis at its finest, I think.” She sank into a plush armchair faced in deep green leather whose darkened wood creaked with centuries, and cracked her knuckles expectantly before beginning the process of tying back her mahogany curls. “So, what do you need?”

Courror recognised that friendly banter was now paused, and extracted a storage drive from his pocket. “These,” he replied, dropping the device into Spirelli's outstretched hand. “If they can be done. The design is from a third party, I suspect in the Segments. I have a friend who specialises in integrating such equipment with my own, and he sent me these drawings yesterday.” Courror clicked his tongue thoughtfully. “I won't pretend I understand them, but he has assured me that they will function properly if they are made and installed properly.” Even as he finished, Spirelli was eagerly opening the drive's contents. She raised a dark eyebrow as she examined the schematics, and nodded.

“These,” she said simply, “are probably illegal for anyone except you, and that's because you security people get blind eyes turned to you. You know that?”

Courror nodded. “Would a promise only to use them for good make you happy?”

“Oh, I... don't... really mind, it's not my... business... just, er... saying,” Spirelli murmured at half her normal rapid pace, her concentration already on the designs before her. “I've not seen this type before. It looks like an ordinary Segments layered nanotube-and-alloy design, but I don't see why... oh.” She turned to him, no mirth at all present. “William, these are designed to be concealed.”

He nodded again. “They are,” he said quietly. “It pays to keep some secrets; the civilians become nervous if they see a sword.”

“Hence these,” Spirelli said softly, turning back to the schematics. Abruptly, she stood, her decision made.

“Well, let's get started. Take your shirt off and lie down. I think I can be finished in a couple of hours.”

“No complaints here,” Courror grinned, cackling at Spirelli's unimpressed expression. “You asked for that, doctor.”

“Do you really feel it wise, Captain Courror, to antagonise a woman about to perform surgery on you,” Spirelli smiled devilishly, holding aloft a set of connectors.

The grin broadened. “I have lived dangerously all my life, doctor!”



Two hours of patient work were all it took for Spirelli to finish fiddling inside Courror's limbs, while he watched in polite, attentive silence. There was no point in trying to talk to her once she was working, as he'd discovered on his first visit to her little surgery; she either ignored you, replied twenty minutes late, or snapped at you to shut up, depending on the difficulty of the job. Besides, to watch her working on him was a privilege in itself, and he liked to see inside his body. It was, after all, his body. He flexed that body's inorganic parts carefully as he swung his legs off the chair, allowing the machine inside the man to run a quick self-test for the third time, just to prove everything was all right.

“Still standing?” Spirelli asked cautiously as she dumped her equipment into an autoclave. Courror dropped to the floor and stood, anticipating.

“Yes,” he announced momentarily.

“Excellent; I didn't want to carry you out to the garbage,” she said dryly, peeling off her gloves. “So, going anywhere nice?”

“Isn't that usually the first thing the doctor asks you?”

“I like the unconventional”, Spirelli said with a raised eyebrow.

“Thankfully so. No, nowhere nice. I can't tell you anything more.” Courror frowned. “Not that that really narrows the possibilities down very much.”

“Not really,” Spirelli replied brightly. “But take care, William. Things are getting tense.”

“Not--” Courror stopped himself, diverted the train of thought into a siding, and continued, “as tense as some think. But yes, I worry. Do not worry, Laura; I can handle myself.” A vicious smirk snatched at his lips, twisting the undamaged half. “Even more so, thanks to you.”

“Mmm.” Spirelli shook her head. She brushed aside a deep brown lock of hair and Courror saw, briefly, the hint of the scar that hid her own cranial implants as she turned to busy herself with preparing for the next patient, and then snapped her fingers. “Oh, and don't forget!” She darted over to another cabinet and produced a purple bottle with a flourish. “Enjoy it. And remember, if you go blind, it's probably worth pausing.” The smile faded as he placed the bottle in one of his many deep pockets, and Spirelli was serious once more. “Good luck out there.”

“I hope not to need it,” Courror replied quietly, slipping on the jacket and seeing himself out.

He had hoped for rain, but none was to be found. Devras instead thrust at him a glorious spring afternoon with scarcely a cloud to be seen, and those that were visible of the big, fluffy sort that bore nothing more than a shape picked out by a wistful child. He trudged back across Devras' streets, through a park ripe with humidity and sticky with pollen and scent pouring from the blossoming flowerbeds, and watched the fewer and hardier still enjoying the idyll with measured determination. Many had made for home, to avoid the rally; some, of course, would be part of it. His people were ready to intervene if they should try anything too boisterous, let alone actually dangerous to Naiya or her household, and Courror was happy to let them do their work, though he reached up and tapped the Spook on, tracking events by radio as he tramped through the park and emerged past its colonnaded walls into the hellish traffic of inner Devras. That, at least, was unchanged; the city's drivers were as manic as ever.

He closed in on the Piazza San Bernardi with growing haste; already he could hear the low humming characteristic of a crowd on edge, and whichever side they had picked, he was an enemy to both, the foreign body in the heart of government or the agent of repression from the state. The west bridges were clear, and fortunately they were pretty much right on his route; he strolled across with a couple of smart salutes and a flash of his ID, and cut around the edge of the groups slowly coalescing into their larger, more organised bands. To his relief, the quiet was the result of their being few in number; evidently the main event hadn't begun yet. The down side to that was that it would begin only after some of the attendees had consumed their fair share of drink and been standing in the sun for a few hours, always a sure way to get tempers flaring. As he trotted up the narrow stairs to his quarters, he had the happy feeling he was about to have a grandstand view over Dominion history being made.

He closed the creaking door behind him, double-locked it for insurance's sake, and took out his arms, arranging them on his bed and picking his preferences, like a teenager picking her best outfit for a dance, only after delicate deliberation. At the very least, he might get to watch and drink Spirelli's Patented Mind-Rot; at the most, he might get to show a few of the keiti what he could do... if, of course, the situation warranted.
Last edited by Oyada on Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.

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Scolopendra
Minister
 
Posts: 3146
Founded: Antiquity
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:27 pm

Executive Offices, Stonozka, Titan

"No." The Supreme Emperor's decision was final.

"This is a memetic issue that can only be fought memetically," Noelle Sharudi insisted as she always did: by merely being present and yet apart, clinically detached from her own body. A marionette capable of self-propulsion, thinking her way through every muscle movement. "Even if ringleaders can be identified, nativism taps into very real psychological needs of the target population, and those needs and populations aren't going away. Those needs must either be addressed or redirected via social factors. The very ideas must be made toxic, and--"

"If we do that, we prove them right," Mballa said simply, leaning forward in her chair. The motion only accentuated the boxer's shoulders under her standard-issue Persian-blue uniform. "Sharudi. I'm not as clever as you, but I have horse sense and that's what you're looking for. If you really thought this was a good idea, you would've Ghostwritten it. Instead, you've asked me. If the Dominion nativists think that we meddle in their politics and culture too much, the last thing we want to do is to really start meddling like we mean it."

The Intelligence Section director nodded once. "Reasonable. The probability of blowback is non-negligible."

"So what do we do?" Mballa rested her chin behind her cupped fists. "My instinct says we wait it out."

"Also reasonable, but also not certain. My previous assessment about needs is a sociological fact. We can't ignore it and hope it goes away."

"Take the higher idealistic road and lead by example?"

"A publicly inward looking strategy may play well." From her tone, Sharudi put forward a carefully constructed assessment, not some sort of loud thought. "Covertly, we simply look the other way as historic Dominion methods of internal control function."

"Sounds like my job is to see to it that our citizens don't get caught up in that."

"Yes. That our transfer students and expatriates are getting repeatedly involved in Dominion politics is... concerning."

Mballa nodded.

*-*-*

OFFICE OF THE SUPREME EMPEROR
Image


Uncommon times call for uncommon gestures, and so after some deliberation I wish to make a statement on behalf of and directed towards the citizens of the Federated Segments regarding the increasing social disquiet of the Dominion. We've all seen the news, so there's no point in looking away and pretending nothing is happening. A good portion of the Dominion populace is angry, and I'm certain they believe they have perfectly reasonable cause to be so. It's no secret that we've maintained an unusually close relationship with the Dominion, with close cooperation between our civil, military, and social structures, despite cultures so different that some incorrectly say they're mutually exclusive. The reason they're not is because of the similarities: we are both peoples that are proud of our origins, our histories, our sacrifices, and our triumphs. Neither the Dominion nor the Segments take well to the belief that their uniqueness is under threat.

As such, my personal belief as both Mballa Ipolla and as the elected Supreme Emperor of the Federated Segments of Scolopendra is that, if our allies and friends feel set upon, we must give them room. Scolopendrans have been at the forefront of introducing social demonstration to the Dominion, and it is no secret that we take no shame in that fact. At the same time, as these are our friends, we must respect their wishes and their culture. I have directed the International Relation Section's mission to the Dominion to advise all Scolopendran citizens not to engage in 'street speech' in the Dominion, only partially out of a concern for safety. It is more important that now, when our friends feel pressured, when they feel they are being coerced, that we openly respect their rights to self-determination and do nothing that lends even the appearance of 'meddling.'

It may be alien to our culture, but we must respect theirs, as all Scolopendrans with connections to the Dominion understand. Continue to work and play with your Dominion peers, but when the conversation steers to politics, tread more lightly than we're used to. Consider their sensibilities and their context.

I fully how strange it is that I am the messenger of sensitivity and subtlety at this moment. Uncommon times are strange times.

Supreme Emperor Mballa Ipolla
Federated Segments of Scolopendra

*-*-*

The Gang

Code: Select all
<4c39a441e81e376ecbf95245d395643f> I wonder if I should go to the Dominion.
<278281911c300f13922b54db006cb985> I understand that it's an Interesting Time, but I am not entirely certain that would be wise.
<4c39...> I've been meaning to meet the Imperatrice.
<2782...> Should I repeat myself?
<4c39...> Relax. I have reasonable precautions in place.
<2782...> Eventually your bragging about those precautions will be your downfall.
<4c39...> Only if I overplay it.
<2782...> In any case, she is very busy and many people are vying for her attention.
<4c39...> So a little birdie told me.
<2782...> I would suggest you start lower down the line... but I'm sure the Intelligence Section is already doing so.
<4c39...> And why replicate the SIS effort?
<2782...> What would talking to the Imperatrice do? She already has plausibly deniable methods.
<4c39...> You're already interfering. Leave me out of the fun?
<2782...> There's more involved here than you suspect.
<4c39...> Obviously. This is astroturf. Oddly enough, it grows best fertilized with angry bullshit.
<2782...> More than that. There are connections slowly burning through time.
<4c39...> And when you speak like a mystic, that means you've not cracked them yet.
<2782...> Almost. The answer is obvious.
<4c39...> But you're blind.
<2782...> I keep tracing the same loops, even using stochiometric analyses.
<4c39...> You are rolling on quantum foam noise and not trusting your own RNGs, yes?
<2782...> No need to be insulting.
<4c39...> Let's face it. You've got a perspective. No matter what, you can't see inside your own eyes.
<2782...> And you offer an alternative perspective?
<4c39...> How could I not?
<2782...> How do you expect to meet the Imperatrice? Slip from under her bed?
<4c39...> I prefer not being fireballed. How do people usually meet others they want to meet?
<2782...> Without stalking?
<4c39...> NORMAL people?
<2782...> ...
<4c39...> ...
<2782...> ...
<4c39...> ooo
<2782...> ...
<4c39...> o_o
<2782...> ...
<4c39...> @_@
<2782...> You're not a vampire.
<4c39...> LOOK INTO MY EYES
<2782...> Now you're just being stupid.
<4c39...> I COMMAND YOU
<2782...> ...
<4c39...> pweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?
<2782...> Spite. Fine. I'll introduce you.
Last edited by Scolopendra on Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Idealism at All Costs! . . . Welcome to the Segments, the happiest libertarian socialist nationalists you'll ever meet.
People is people, whether they be the guy down the street, a scary and/or sexy space alien, a giant doom robot, or a candy-colored pony.
Caught you peekin!

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Roania
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Postby Roania » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:18 pm

Official Statement from the Great Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Aleis o Aeraeraeo :

It is the considered opinion of this department that the current trend proves unacceptable, and it is our express hope that local authorities will compel the people to adopt a more peaceable attitude towards their fellows. Until order is restored, all subjects of the Dragon Throne are instructed to avoid conflict, and to whatever extent possible minimize investment and presence within these uncertain territories.


Direct Communication, delivered directly via ambassador, in unopened yellow envelope:

We are not friends.

I have few friends, and you are not among them.

I am tied to you by obligations of debt and honor. And it is as such that I write to you.

As I am always reminded, and as I remind my servants in turn, our galaxy is too tied together for anything to happen in a vacuum. As it was put to me, when you sneeze, I catch a cold. I find this facile, but perhaps there is some truth to it despite that.

We both know how your mother would have handled this. And we both know how mine would have. I will not tell you what I think the right choice is; this is not my place. Or, it is my place, I suppose, and I abdicate it. Besides, you also know what I would do. You will not do this. And that is right and proper. Or so I suppose.

You seem to believe there is a better way then I or your mother. I find this far too kin to what mine would do, but I will not judge it in that light. I will judge it in its own lights. As the policy of my peer and colleague. I will not offer you my aid, and not merely because you would refuse it or because it would not truly help. But because I wish to see the proof of this approach. And by doing, perhaps to see if my mother failed because of her own limitations, or whether the idea itself is at fault.

The eyes of the worlds are upon you, Naiya D'Aquisto. In the words of one whom we both respect, don't fuck this up.

A. D.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Co-written with Midlonia

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:53 am

Naiya’s Villa, Morning of the Rally

Grains of sand drifted on the slightly warmed breeze, not anything particularly unusual considering the coastal nature of the Villa itself, but these grains began to move with purpose, moving towards a spot near to the kitchen door they bounced and rolled and seemed to be joined increasingly by more and more of their number.

A small patch of sand formed itself just before the back door to the kitchen before a pair of heavy boot prints appeared in it. The door opened seemingly of its own volition with a soft clack. A hand reached out and plucked a small cup from the shelf and in the blink of an eye there was a man stood pouring himself a cup of black, lukewarm coffee. He had piercing eyes and wore the garb of someone who had walked out of the hellish landscape of a desert. Black robes which kept him surprisingly cool, should he need it. Taking a sniff of the cup he closed his eyes before reopening them, flashes of silver in a rugged, tanned face and he took a long sip.

The house was quiet, with the boys having gone out to get in some horseback riding, and most of those set on watch being out along the perimeters, or keeping close tabs on said heirs. The silence was soon broken however, by the sound of rapid footsteps padding down the stairs, and soon shown to be a barefoot Naiya in light workout clothing, a towel tossed haphazardly over her shoulder.

She wasted no time in running right up to the much taller man, and wrapping him up in a surprisingly strong embrace.

“Gods but I’ve missed you,” she murmured before reaching up on tiptoes to try and pull him in for a kiss.

Aeturnus’ smile in return was surprisingly tired as he was pulled a little to her much shorter height and kissed her lovingly, running a free hand along her cheek. “And I you. It wasn’t easy getting back.” He sighed a little and pulled back slightly to take another sip of the coffee.

“The Midlonian reappearance, or something else?” she asked, settling in against his side, one arm looped contentedly around his waist. “We’ve heard some of what’s gone on at least.”

“I’m not even sure how to describe it.” Aet frowned a little as he looped an arm around Naiya’s shoulders in return, resting his head on hers. “It’s like…” He looked at the coffee cup, then grabbed a couple of others off of the shelf and lined them all up. “Someone’s taken the whole and…” he poured varying amounts of his coffee into the three cups he’d lined up on the counter and then shrugged a little, draining the remaining drops from his cup. “That. It’s very…. Very odd.” He shook his head. “But then someone’s been adding things as well, changing them making them different from how they were, and perhaps even supposed to be. Like someone…. Or something’s intervened.”

Naiya frowned, her brow creasing in thought. Where did that begin and end? She certainly didn’t want to think that this Writer had anything to do with her own current problems. Bad enough he thought, or quite likely did in fact, have influence over Midlonia. She’d seen too much to just dismiss everything Ellie had told her.

“Perhaps you ought to have a talk with the current queen in absentia,” she mentioned, glancing up at him, still frowning slightly. “According to her, that’s more or less what’s going on. And we’ve no idea just who or what this entity is, or how much power or influence he actually has. Enough to have pulled them out of our own loop, and having been eating away bits of the nation in the interim.”

“Queen in Absentia? When I got back I heard there was a Queen Julianne on the throne, Henry’s younger daughter, the blonde one, wasn’t it?” Aet looked to Naiya with his own look of puzzlement. “So there’s even a fight over the throne as well. That should be interesting.”

He picked up another cup of his split coffee and drained it again. “Mind news and information becomes very confused when you can hear and read three else four versions of it at once if you’re not careful. To say they’ve been pulled out of their loop is an understatement. It’s like some parts are locked away and isolated in time itself.” He squeezed her shoulder and looked to her with a smile. “Still. I’m home and here now, which is the main thing. I doubt I’ll be trying it again.”

“You won’t hear any complaints from me,” she reassured him, smiling back at least halfway. “But yes, Juilanne has this insane idea that all the things happening are due to there having been an abhuman on the throne, and set out to ‘prove’ it while Ellanore set out to ‘fix it’. Unfortunately, with the timing, no one fully in one camp or the other is going to be inclined to believe the other side. A mess, again. And we already have our hands full here in the meantime.”

Aet blinked and raised both eyebrows as he closed his eyes. “I see, so a right royal mess for all around then, Queens and Imperatrices… I begin to regret leaving my simple life in the desert…”

Naiya offered him an exaggerated puppy-dog-eyes look then, lower lip pouting out slightly. “You mean you’d leave all of this - the intrigue, the occasional chaos, the backstabbing, self-serving, political miasma for sun, sand, and monster-hunting?”

“And you’d be right behind me and you know it. The boys too, eagerly.” He cocked her a slight smile. “I’m still not suited to politics, as much as I’d love to be and time should make me by now.”

“True, but then you don’t really have to be. Teamwork, yes?” she said, smiling fully this time. “What you can do, if you’re willing, is help me keep an eye on things and keep the peace later today. All the minor dissatisfaction we’ve been seeing over the past while seems to have come to a head. There’s a rally planned for the Piazza, and there’s bound to be trouble. The boys have been told they’re confined here, but I intend on being on the scene, one way or another. Our forces are in position, we have several independents working with us to keep an eye on things, and …” Naiya paused then, her smile gradually having faded.

“Well, whatever happens will happen. Violence isn’t unexpected, but it is hoped we can at least keep it to a minimum. And at best, try to snap up whoever has been riling everyone up - them, or those close to them.”

“So where do you need me? Making sure the boys don’t sneak out? Or there to catch anyone who might be riling people up?” Aet gave her a weary smile in return, then leaned down and kissed her forehead.

“Truth? Whichever would work best for you. The way things have been going, I wouldn’t put it past the little darlings to take it upon themselves to get a closer look, even if it were for good reasons and not just out of wanting to get in on the ‘excitement’. That said, given the negative views we’ve had on our family in particular, if you do go on site, we just need to be sure that every precaution is taken not to have anyone witness anything out of the ordinary. My own efforts will be limited as a result. This isn’t some rooftop run in the middle of the night, unfortunately,” she admitted, shrugging her shoulders slightly. “I’m half afraid this is all just misdirection, but Batty and the rest insist this is as good a chance as any, so … we’re allowing it.”

“I that case I’ll stick here and stop the boys from going anywhere.” Aet said with a smile. “I could do with the rest and not worrying about the whole of reality going crazy around me just because I moved from one room into another.”

“Would hate for anything to happen to you that way,” Naiya replied softly, punctuating it with another tip-toes kiss. “Might give you a chance to talk to Ellie as well. They have their ship docked not too far out, and she has an open invite here - not that we’ve advertised it all. Perhaps between you two, you might come to further insights on that whole mess. We can’t just let them flounder, and we certainly can’t let Julie ban all those people, or end up doing whatever she feels she must, under false pretense.”

“Good idea, maybe the boys could come over with me to her ship, definitely keep them out of trouble then.” Aet sighed. “Can’t get in trouble if they’re trapped out in the middle of the bay, neh?”

After a low sigh of relief, Naiya nodded. Truthfully, she had worried about that primarily, and additionally so with Ellanore to account for, and her own sense of right, and no doubt, adventure. With Aeturnus keeping a close eye on them, surely they couldn’t get into any trouble. She knew all too well the stance they would take were they confronted with some of the attitudes she knew would be on display in the Piazza later. Already, news of small gatherings cropping up around the city, both old and new. Things were peaceable enough for now, but the signs were there. And the day had only just begun.

She hugged him tightly, then offered her thanks, and apologies for having to go and finish what she’d been about to start in getting ready for the day. The earlier workout had helped settle her emotions a bit, and bring her focus together. This was going to be a long one, and as a recent missive had reminded her, there were a lot of eyes on the situation, the nation, and herself. Naiya hoped it all wouldn’t become a day of choices she came to regret.

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Roania
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Postby Roania » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:49 pm

<post deleted>
Last edited by Roania on Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Co-written with Midlonia

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:27 am

GRN Midlonic - Morning of the Rally

Ellanor found herself leafing idly through a book on ancient Midlonic history, she’d retreated to her favourite room on the Midlonic, the library had been filled with just about every book she could get her hands on and had at one time been one of the long banquet halls.

In time she’d slowly replaced the fancy table and chairs with shelf after shelf of books and a small collection of overstuffed chairs and sofas along with a far more appropriate coffee table. Strewn across the table were various books that she had been eagerly leafing through to try and find some answer to what was going on around them.

Now she found herself looking for new references to one figure in particular.

The Writer.

Except now she found herself looking more for vagaries and descriptions of individuals, noted figures from myth and legend.

It was driving her mad.

There was a knock on the large double doors and a baseline human footman entered with a bow.

“The D’Acquistos are here, your highness.”

“Please show them in and then go get some refreshments.” Ellanor replied with a smile as she straightened herself up, put down her book and smoothed out the t-shirt and jeans she was wearing.

The door was left open as the footman retreated, there were a few words hushedly exchanged before the sound of footsteps retreating down the corridor.

Gabriel walked a few steps in front of Lucian, given the understood protocols on their host’s ship. Gabe of course had razzed Luc about it on the way over, and Luc had in turn, shot back quips intended to take the wind out of the slightly-older brother’s sails. They had more or less pulled it together however, on boarding. They might be among friends, but there were reputations to uphold, and some decorum to be observed. Neither had been pleased about their father babysitting them, in spite of having been thrilled to have him returned. Begrudgingly, they accepted their fate, and for now at least, put any plans they might have had on the back burner.

“Welcome aboard to my home.” Ellanor said with a smile as she stood for a moment before gesturing to the seating around them. “It’s a pleasure to see you again too, Uncle Aeturnus.”

“Well you have certainly grown.” Aeturnus replied before taking a seat in an overstuffed armchair.

“Amazing ship,” Gabe noted, both of the boys smiling warmly as they took seats opposite one another.

“Yeah, thanks for having us over,” Luc offered, settling in. “How’s things been going so far? No troubles, we hope?”

“The staff seem to be falling over themselves to revive all the protocols I’d managed to chip away having to bother with over the years.” Ellanor laughed a little and rubbed a temple. “I forgot how much cr-” She coughed. “Stuff we have that’s all protocols and styles, rankings for guests and their order, what tea set to serve depending on the time….” She shook her head. “I never realised we really were that decadent.”

“Comes with the title, really,” Gabriel said, shrugging eloquently. “Time and place, really. And as you’re the queen, you get to decide what the time and place for it all is, no?”

“Hopefully we aren’t being too much trouble, all the same.” Lucian spoke more softly, as was his habit, managing not to look ashamed, but ever so slightly apologetic, brushing back his lighter hair from his face and smiling.

“Nah, I think everyone likes having something to do, even if it means I don’t in turn. Feels weird having downtime of sorts. You know?” Ellanor stretched a little and then smiled widely, fangs on display. “Not to say it’s not fun being busy doing nothing.”

The twins glanced at each other, having somewhat different thoughts on the matter. “All things considered, we would probably rather be doing something to help with today’s rally,” Gabe finally offered, Luc quietly nodding. “Not that it isn’t great getting to spend some time with you,” the former quickly reassured her.

“Nice save.” Ellie replied, her grin widening. “Not like we couldn’t go laterrrr.” Her voice trailed off as she saw the cool look Aet was giving her. “Maybe?”

Aeturnus gave a slight shake of his head. “I’d rather not have to deal with a very angry Naiya. Nor will you three. She has most certainly developed her ability to lash with her tongue over the years.”

The door reopened and the footman returned wheeling in a small trolley with a tea set and several plates of cake and biscuits laid out ready. He placed the four cups down and then lifted the large teapot, pouring the first cup in a few moments. When he returned to the second he began to pour and then froze in place.

The boys were chuckling softly, agreeing without necessarily saying so about their mother and her ability to chastise, when they noticed something off.

“Papa … are you alright?” Lucian asked tentatively, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up.

“Someone is manipulating reality. Can’t you smell the ozone?” Aeturnus replied before he gripped the chair’s arm tightly, his eyes slowly turning back and forth before he slowly extended his arm and turned to look around the

Ellanor stared at the footman before looking to Aeturnus. “Ozone? I can smell... “ she struggled for a moment. “It’s like, ink and…. Sulfur.” She stood up fully and looked back and forth along the length of the library. She growled, letting out a long deep rumble. “Show yourself!” She barked.

Both Gabriel and Lucian stood, tensed and ready for … well, something at least, looking around expectantly, and letting Ellanor take the lead. Her ship, after all. Add to that, no woman they knew appreciated a man, however well-meaning, stepping in and assuming they could handle a situation better.

“You see, it’s no fun if I don’t give you clues.” The voice said. A single eyeblink and he was stood there browsing the bookshelves, thumb running along the spines of various books as he pursed his lips and looked at various titles. He picked one off of the shelf and opened it, looking at the pages with some interest as he turned to look at them. “Writing’s such an interesting thing, isn’t it?” He began to run a finger along a line as if reading it, but then looked up with a cruel smile. “Especially when you haven’t decided what’s there or not yet.”

“You.” Ellanor growled her fists balling and her knuckles turning white. “You’re the one dripping poison into Julianne’s ear, to lead her talk of how abhumans are to blame for your actions, or inactions.”

The Writer took a long, slow breath. “Yes, I suppose I am putting things that way, aren’t I? Conflict and adversity drive stories rather well, don’t they?”

“I take it you’re the one who shattered our reality?” Aeturnus replied, standing slowly and looking to The Writer with eyes narrowed and brow furrowed.

“I prefer to think I was stirring up a stagnant pond, but yes.”

“This is the guy you’re worried about?” Gabriel said rather archly, channeling no small amount of his mother, and grandmother in the process. “Popping around or not, between the four of us, we could knock some sense into him.”

Lucian didn’t look quite as certain, though he stood ready to back his brother up all the same, shooting Aeturnus a concerned look. Magic, and all the rest, was rather outside their realm of experience, at least so far as day to day life. Most of their allies were more technologically-bound, after all. This was not right on a number of levels, even if his brother was feeling cocky about it.

“You could try.” The Writer sniffed as he looked down at the book. “But then that would be rather boring for the story and when it gets boring, I stop. When I stop.” He gestured to the Footman. “It all stops.”

The brothers exchanged looks, Luc shaking his head almost imperceptibly before looking back to the stranger. “So why are you here then? Taunting isn’t especially interesting. Any bully can do it,” he said in his usual quiet voice.

“You’re right, taunting and being cruel isn’t especially interesting.” He sighed. “But then neither is simply standing around having tea and biscuits here on a ship away from all the fun going on elsewhere.”

“Not sure our ideas of ‘fun’ run along the same lines. El?” Gabriel said shortly, turning to the young queen, brow arched in question. He’d made his preferred approach clear enough, after all. And damn, but the man seemed in need of a proper knock-down or two. Not without her say-so, however. Again, her ship. Her call.

“No, they don’t.” Ellie growled again before putting a hand on Gabe’s shoulder. “Why are you here, Writer? What do you want?”

“Oh just checking in, seeing how you’re doing and getting on. Wondering what else to throw your way to see how much you can handle the adversity and hatred that might be coming your way before too long…” He smiled again, the eyes sparkling a little. “All of you. After all, except for Aeturnus here you’re all half breeds of some sort, and there’s just so much….” He seemed in inhale as if savouring a fine wine but smiled. “Drama about to bubble and boil up. It’s like someone’s set up all the dominos ready and is just waiting for someone to give them that tiny, tiny push to see what’ll happen.”

Gabe took a step forward, clearly angry. Luc held him back from going any further, though he didn’t look terribly pleased either. “Who in hell do you think you are coming in here and calling us half breeds? No, I don’t care who you are, or think you are, but--”

“But really,” Luc interrupted firmly, not letting go in spite of his brother’s effort to jerk his arm away. “We’ve all got plenty on our desks at the moment, thank you. Perhaps you’d enjoy tormenting someone else for a while?”

“Who’s tormenting? I’m only talking, considering what’d make a far more interesting story.” He gestured a little to Gabe with the book. “I’m the person who can thumb the scales for the sake of a story, Gabriel. So what do you reckon might happen if I placed two obvious foreigners and two half foreigners right by some people who’re against such things?”

“We’re known here,” Gabe answered confidently. “And we’re more than able to hold our own. We know the city like the back of our hands, and no one here is incapable of looking out for themselves. Besides, its just a rally. There might be some anger, but no one is going to do anything that stupid with all the protections we have in place.”

Once again, Luc was the one who didn’t look as convinced, but he kept his silence, and his hold on his brother.

The Writer was grinning, almost manically by this point. “Do you want to make a wager, then?” He ran his finger back and forth along the middle of the book he still held open. “Let’s say… nothing happens and I’ll not nudge the scales, let this story play out as you all see fit.” He sucked some air through his teeth. “If there is... let’s say a nice bottle of wine.”

“Why the hell do you do this?” Ellanor finally found herself able to speak, she was shaking a little bit but found herself holding back. “What possible reason gives you this level of pleasure when tormenting people’s lives, you shattered everything because you were bored and even now you continue to talk in childish metaphor and riddles.”

“Small-minded people, El. Pettiness, loneliness, whatever it is. Some just have a need to watch the world burn, as they say.” Gabriel was still confident, with ample challenge in the look he leveled at The Writer. “There is no point to playing your silly games. You will, or you won’t, as suits your fancies no doubt. But know this - we will prevail. We will not cower in fear while you continue to toy with people’s lives. These are our friends, our famiglia. We will find a way.”

Luc moved slightly, laying one hand gently along Ellanor’s arm, accenting his brother’s claims. They never made such statements lightly. Anyone who knew Dominion folk understood that ties mattered, deeply. And El … well, she was family, as good as. The potential challenge they were up against didn’t matter. The fact that she, and her sister, and the rest of her nation were hurting, did. “You know we’re here for you, El,” he said simply, steeling himself for the worst. “I know you can fix this.”

The Writer clicked his tongue. “You’re right. I would’ve done this regardless. Well then, I wish your little familia, in bocca al lupo.”

Gabe swore under his breath, and made a lunge towards the man, even as Luc let go of Ellie and attempted to secure his grip again.

The Writer was still grinning as he slammed the book shut.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:13 pm

The Piazza San Bernardi, Devras

The morning had been quiet, for the most part. But the absence of riotous clamor did not mean an absence of tension. That was the source of the calm, as the old cliche went - that before the storm.

There were less people walking casually about, less hawking in the open air markets. A good many of those had opened briefly to catch the early shoppers, but word had already gone out that they planned on being closed before the ‘gathering’ occurred. The process of shutting down had already begun by the time Naiya had made her first circuit of the Piazza, quietly checking in over Spook, as were others stationed across the city in what had been determined to be key or sensitive locations.

Her own operatives were imbedded with local soldati and city carabinieri. Enough of an official presence was to be maintained without appearing to be an attempt at all out martial law - the vociferous opposition would just eat that up, and spin it as an excuse to act out, it was feared. More were to be dressed in street attire than not, leaving the black-garbed officials standing out as more visual ‘islands’, should citizens need assistance. Crowds could be tricky to handle in the best of times. And today, ‘best’ was sadly not expected to show.

Naiya absentmindedly bit her lower lip, frowning as she scanned the space between the Gianfigliazi Building, where the main government offices were located, and the Basilica di San Bernardi.

The usual outdoor eating areas had been moved inside in anticipation of the crowd that was already beginning to gather in places here and there throughout the Piazza. A stage area with two separate podiums had been erected midway down the north side, with the covered walkway closed to foot traffic to avoid any problems in that direction.

Supposedly, the sides that had registered, along with their intended speakers, were to be allowed as equal a share of the time as possible, with officials assisting to smooth over any … hiccups in the proceedings. That was the plan, in any case. Should cooler heads prevail, a great deal of lively debate, discussion, and good old fashioned Dominion-style venting would be expected. A passionate people could hardly be expected to hold dull discourse, after all. That said, the talk wasn’t what had many concerned.

It was the unusual vitriol rolling behind the scenes. The anger, and in some cases, hatred bubbling to the surface from Fanged-God knew where.

No, that wasn’t quite right. There were reasons, some going back years. Decades, even. The fact that they’d been twisted and spun into something worse than what they ought to have been was the crux of things. There hadn’t been a real active uprising in a very long time. Regime changes, yes, even rather violent ones. But a true rallying of the populace? Given the nature of the Dominion, it was harder to put a finger on when that might have been. History had a way of being rewritten to the tastes of the victors. And not all the scenarios had come to a positive end in their long years from families and clans up through city states and finally, a nation and eventual empire. Naiya sometimes thought the Dominion tendency to look past or try to ignore uncomfortable truths did them no favors in the long run. But ages of tradition and stubborn adherence to what was thought to be the keys to a ‘polite and functioning society’ were damned near impossible to break, let alone change.

Another report came over her earpiece, and she looked in the direction of the Canale Grande. Two distinct groups were beginning to form up in larger numbers than previously, and the occasional shout could be heard even here, on her perch behind one of the Basilica’s northwestern spires.

E cosi comincia,” she said under her breath. At least the boys were well out of it all. She hoped the others working with her didn’t run into anything worse than the loudly gesticulating groups trading barbs just off the boat landing, making their way slowly into the unevenly-shaped Piazza.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Campanile di San Bernardi - inside Piazza

The morning sun created a long shadow stretching out from the base of the Campanile, the tall bell tower that was one of the many stops right here in the Piazza for tourists. Today it was closed, or at least it was to the public. The boys had noted movement near the top, and agreed that it was likely, at one hundred meters up, being used as a vantage point for some of the government forces.

The four young men sat at various levels along the short flight of stairs that led up to the door and entrance into the tower proper, nodding at some in greeting, staring unblinking at others as they passed by. Santi was quietly enjoying a cigarette, the thin trail of smoke rising up and moving away from the group on the slight breeze coming off the Canale Grande. Vito was on the lower step, knees apart, elbows resting atop them with his hands loosely clasped together. Dano had his back against the tower, one leg drawn up, the other haphazardly resting against a lower step to his side. De Sera was leaned back with his elbows on the small platform leading to the door, sprawled lazily down the outside edge of the short stairway.

“Not terribly impressed so far,” Santi noted, nodding subtly to a group holding protest posters at their sides. “Old backwards bastardi and their kids. “ He spat away from the walking area, showing his derision. One of the men noticed, and bristled visibly, though he took no action.

“Lets not start anything just yet,” De Sera murmured, watching the group from behind sunglasses, smiling idly. “You’ll get your chance soon enough if things go the way we fear.”

“Eh, they’ve got the place watched whether we see them or not,” Vito said, casually dismissing the concerns with brief wave of one hand. “Anyone acting out will be sorted out in short order, no doubt.”

“No doubt,” Dano agreed, though his expression was thoughtful. He reached into a bag at his side, and took out a bottle of soda, twisting open the top, then drinking slowly. The crowds would grow, he knew. And with them, the potential for angry words to spill over into angry fists. Just one of the hazards when emotions were high and the divide so deep. There were others who said they’d meet up with the small group - safety in numbers and all that - to help keep the peace, even at the cost of a few broken noses and sprained wrists. The soldati couldn’t be everywhere, and after hearing the twins wouldn’t be allowed to attend, the group of friends had decided that helping, in their own way, to stand up for what they felt was right, and to support their own, was the right decision.

Part of him was looking forward to throwing down with some of the more outrageous sorts. Part of him quietly hoped there would be no need.

The banter between the group gradually grew, other voices added as they were joined by other youth of like mind. The group that Santi had spat at took notice of the slowly growing gathering, talking quietly amongst themselves, brief glances tossed the youth’s way and not always with a neutral cast.

Santi noticed the exchanges, while the others were animatedly talking about the recent football game, and what could have been done to pull off the needed win. He lifted his chin in acknowledgement when he caught the first man’s eye, smirking across the increasingly crowded Piazza.

Oh yes, there would no doubt be some opportunities. And he was ready for them.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Back Room, Benvito’s - on the Piazza

“Damned if this,” the older gentleman said, waving a hand towards the front of the ristorante, and thus, the Piazza, “interfere with business.”

“Or a bit of morning dolce,” noted one of the other gentlemen joining the first around a table in one of several private rooms behind the kitchen. He emphasized his observation by raising the pastry he’d chosen, then taking a satisfied bite. The others chuckled and either raised glasses, or their own sweets in turn, nodding in agreement.

“With more attention directed here, perhaps that situation down at the docks can be adequately seen to,” the first offered, meeting the gaze of several around the table, who returned the look steadily.

“Perhaps,” said another with practiced nonchalance. “We’ve had some extra eyes of late, but they’ve seen nothing out of the ordinary. Until we hear back from the boys, business as usual continues.”

“Shame we can’t be in on some of the fun.” This from the youngest of the group, glancing towards the front briefly.

“We’ve done our part. Look at it this way, Luchesi - anyone busts in here, we’ll give you dibs on stomping the idiot,” the first man stated, smiling as he reached for another pastry. “Our insurance is up to date here, yes? Let the government pay up if anything gets broken.”

This was met with a chorus of agreements and lighthearted toasts as the men continued their sweet breakfast with enthusiasm.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Nondescript street, New City, Devras

Yes, there was a political gathering today, but that hadn’t stopped life from continuing on in the rest of the city. The main area affected was the Piazza and surrounding area, as expected. Travel had been curtailed, security increased, shops closed, but elsewhere? People continued on with their day, more or less as usual.

The busses maintained their schedule, and while there was perhaps not quite as much traffic overall, given the draw expected, pedestrians on foot could be seen more or less regularly, depending on the area.

There were, in the city, a number of area stations one could go to for assistance of a soldati or carabinieri sort. Each one oversaw the various boroughs and neighborhoods, those serving within in charge of the safety and oversight of law and order. That was the ideal, at least. Some argued that said service could be measured by how deep your pockets were, or how thick your contacts book was. Still, they were there at the resident’s disposal, and could be seen patrolling on any given day.

Given the increased security elsewhere, there was admittedly less of a visible presence on many a street, and this one was no different. Though there was a police station along the route, there was less activity in and out of it, at least by the carabinieri and soldati.

Devras, for the most part, took pride in its looks, so long as you overlooked the less reputable areas, or spots off the beaten path for most tourists or respectable persons. There were, along with the stations, bus stops, and bistros that could be found rather regularly, trash bins that were emptied twice weekly, as needed. This was not one of those days.

Easy to see with their brightly painted iron cages to match the surrounding area, citizens and visitors made regular use of them. And should one be overflowing, a call was put in, and steps were taken. Appearances, after all, were important.

A gentleman made his way along the street, blending in well with the thin but present flow of citizens. As well he might, being a native himself. A carrier bag was at his side, and he carried a brown paper bag from which he had been eating pastries with a gloved hand. Nearing one of the bins, he casually crumpled the bag, and tossed it inside one of the bins in front of the local station, briefly glancing about, then checking his watch. Were anyone to notice, there was yet a bit of weight to the bag thus disposed of, given the noise made when dropped. Perhaps he’d tired of the pastries, or they’d turned out to be less than desired in the end. Stranger things had happened.

Continuing on his way, he drew a phone from his bag, and made a quick call.

Si, on my way.”

Across town, a number was checked off a list as the phone call ended.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Genovese Office Building, New City, Devras

Talia Patroni sat across from her one-time friend, or at least, fellow student and countryman, frowning slightly. He’d changed in her time away, and not for the better. Not in her opinion. He’d been slipping for some time, and granted, had never been on very sure footing in the way of decency and charitability, but she’d seen those brief glimpses of the soul underneath often enough, that she’d had hope.

Now, she wasn’t so sure.

“Leo, you can’t mean that.”

The man sitting across from her met her gaze unflinchingly, his eyes cold. “You wouldn’t have left me alone had I refused, so …” Here he spread his hands slightly, then let them rest again on the desk in front of him.

“Now that you’ve said your hellos, and seen me face to face, perhaps you can do me the favor of leaving. I’m a busy man, and have no time for childish reminiscence. Some of us have had to mature and move on.”

The purple-haired nekoite bristled at that, as he knew she would. “How dare you? You know damn well I’ve served - and continue to serve - with the fleets.”

“Yes, and while you’ve been flitting about the system and onwards, life has continued on. Whatever ties you believe we had as children have been outgrown. And I have a business to attend to.”

With that, Leonardo Genovesse pulled out his datapad, and began perusing it in clear dismissal. Talia slowly got to her feet, schooling her face to neutrality, though her tufted ears wilted slightly under her beret.

“What happened to you, Leo?” she asked quietly, slipping her bag up and over her shoulder, looking at him with an expression somewhere between hurt and pity.

“I grew up,” he stated firmly, not looking up as she finally withdrew, shutting the door behind her.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Some Time Later, Piazza San Bernardi

Quite a gathering of people had happened in the intervening time, with groups joining together in masses, their signs or banners held high, their chants having echoed between the stone buildings that lined the area. Minor scuffles had been stopped quickly, and pointedly, and for the most part, a tense but standing peace reigned.

The decision over which representative would have the opportunity to speak first had been decided by coin toss, by a neutral government observer. Having satisfied themselves that the coin was not rigged or weighted in any way, the toss was made, and the option to go first or defer went to the nationals pressing for Dominesse, First and Foremost. An angry murmur ran through the crowd, but nothing more resulted.

Both representatives took their places at their respective podiums, and the public debate began.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

(Going to leave this here for now, in case as suggested, there is still some modicum of interest. Will pick up with the opening speech, or a summation of it, then get to the action. Figured it was best to set a tone, and go from there, let folks decide where they want to be in the grand scheme of things. Grazie.)

User avatar
Roania
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Posts: 1797
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Non-specific rooftops around the piazza

Postby Roania » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:31 am

Officially, he was nowhere near the Piazza. But, then, officially, he didn't exist.

His shadow passed from rooftop to rooftop, gargoyle to gargoyle, parapet to parapet. He was above notice, moving through the attention of the people and around it without any of it getting on him. He hadn't reached his age by expecting things to go well. He expected things to go very badly. That gave him the option to be pleasantly surprised. Naiya was here. La principesse herself. Not, thank herself, upon the ground, where the danger was greatest. But here, nonetheless. Well, perhaps her people would rise to the occasion, before the eyes of their leader. He doubted it.

Well, if she wished to hear their debate, let her hear it. These were her people, for the time being. When things fell apart, he would be ready.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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