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The General Secretary's regards (closed)

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Uncle Noel
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The General Secretary's regards (closed)

Postby Uncle Noel » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:57 am

Itztlan, The Socialist People's Fiefdom of Anahuac

If you wanted a visual representation of where power lay in Itztlan then look no further than the Ayotochco Palace. Those other edifices of the state, the Staatsraad, the Volkskamer, lay shuttered and silent, their sepulchred solitude interrupted only by the occasional school trip. The Ayotochco Palace, though, that was different.

The palace itself sat on its own separate island in Lake Acapan, connected to the ceremonial and Imperial centre of Itztlan by a causeway. It had been built by the ambitious lords of Ayotochco who had grown wealthy from the copper mines that had been discovered at the turn of the 18th centuries. An ostentatious attempt to emulate the Imperial Palace which sat at the heart of the city, such a challenge to the Tlanextli Dynasty could not be challenged for long, and so it surprised no one when the Dukes of Ayotochco were executed for treason during the Tonauac rebellion of 1788 and their great palace reallocated to an imperial cousin.

Behind the palace’s walls the machinery of the Konstitusionele Sosialistiese Partij ground on, away from the hustle of those workers and peasants it professed to serve. The fleet of cars passing along the causeway, and its many checkpoints, the helicopters that noisily menaced overhead told all who were particularly interested that the Politburo was meeting.

Whatever the particular agenda, the Politburo tended to cover three specific topics whenever it met. First was the planned economy, by which the fruits of socialism were created, then defence, by which the fruits of socialism were protected, and finally security so that everyone could be reasonably sure there would be another meeting to attend. Much energy was expended on the discussion of whether it was worth ordering a new fighter design from the Zolph Design Bureau or whether advances in computer technology were increasingly rendering the manned fighter redundant. In the end the issue was parked whilst a strategic study was carried out. The room now stuffy, and with a fug of tobacco smoke hanging in the air, the members of the Politburo stirred in their chairs at the prospect of a conclusion to proceedings.

In a sea of old white men, Mathias Tlacualchihua stood out as a member of the great ethnic majority that lay beyond the walls of the palace. As Deputy General Secretary it was not unreasonable to think that he was the old man’s successor (in as much as the old man thought about succession) when he finally passed on, which was also to say that he was the one most likely to be disposed of in any contest for the leadership. He tried not to think about that.

“Well if we’re settled then that we continue the modernisation programmer on the ZOL-94 whilst we wait for the feasibility study?” he began, since he had been delegated by the General Secretary to chair the meeting, “Then we move onto Any Other Business.”

The grumbles from further down the table indicated that this was just the first skirmish in a longer war with those on the committee who thought that the day of the flying deathbot had not yet come. But for now they held their tongue.

“You will permit me comrades,” said Hoogaboom filling the pipe before him with exaggerated care, “But I have another item which I was not able to circulate on the agenda, and something that we have not done for some time.”

The General Secretary leisurely lit his pipe and, only when he was satisfied that the great puffs of smoke had reached a reasonable consistency, did he continue.

“I note that we have not had a proper discussion on the state of our neighbours. I realise that all has been quiet since the fools of this region lost themselves in the quagmire of the Iesus Civil War”.

“A bayonet is a weapon with a worker at each end,” said Bulgar Voss, the People’s Commissar for Justice, pleased that he had been paying attention.

“Well quite comrade, quite. And for some time afterwards the capitalists retreated from international matters. Oh yes there was talk of treaties, and the internationalisation of capital that they love so much, but not much else. I think, though, that now they are stirring again.”

Hoogaboom turned and fixed his gaze upon the Cunincpert Indiemurr, the People’s Commissar for State Security. “Well Indiemurr, what of Pantocratoria?”

Indiemurr adjusted his monocle. The monocle itself covered his missing eye which, today, would be replaced by a suitable prosthetic replacement but when the People’s Commissar for State Security was a boy was more likely to be replaced by a pair of glasses with darkened lenses. Indiemurr liked to tell people that he lost his eye during the civil war which lead, ultimately, to the establishment of the Fiefdom. In reality it had been caused by a hunting accident on one of his father’s estates, a fact that somewhat undermined his proletarian credentials.
The monocle, then, was an affectation; more so when the glass it contained was a deep mauve. Indiemurr thought this made him look mysterious; most people thought it made him look silly, though none would say to his face, or on the telephone, or in a letter. He reached for a stack of papers in the briefcase next to him, an indication that this little diversion into foreign affairs was not as happenchance as it appeared.

“The results,” he began in a reedy but determined voice, “of their recent elections continue to reverberate. The United Christian Front [he almost spat the words with disgust], look most likely, to most observers, to form an alliance with the fascists.” There were mutters of “shame!” from the Politburo.

Andronicus Spode, the cocky scion of the closest thing the KSP had to a royal family, obligingly jumped at the ambiguity he was presented with. “You said, to most observers. Presumably you think there is another possibility?”

Indiemurr gave a small shrug. “I can only speculate,” he lied, as he’d read detailed reports on the subject only that very morning, “But it would not strike me as completely impossible that there could be a grand coalition.”

“What?” cried Voss, “With the Socialists?”

Again his immediate reply consisted of another shrug. “Stranger things have happened Comrade Voss, and it may be the only way to govern without the support of the Party for National Action.”

It was fair to say that the reaction of the politburo was mixed. Some, of course, naturally saw any alliance between the Socialists and the UCF to be a betrayal of the workers and peasants of Pantocratoria, and yet another example of how parliamentary democracy smothered at birth any attempt at the sort of radical action that Marx had predicted to be necessary in advanced economies. Others took it as a sign that, like Saturn, the system of Pantocratoria was devouring its own children. The ones who were more pragmatic accepted that it may be necessary, and that the sun would rise tomorrow whatever the plutocrats of the Holy and Most August Empire did.

Anxious that he had not yet offered his own interpretation of events, Spode interjected. “I cannot see their Emperor holding any truck with those brownshirts.”

It was at this point that one of the few women present spoke. Erisdes Strassman, looking far too young to be People’s Commissar for Finance, looked up from the figures for pig iron production that she had reading for the past ten minutes.

“Who?” she said in an accent that was unmistakably foreign though now enough to immediately place where it was from, “Manuel IV? That fat lump wouldn’t care if there was a torch lit parade just so long as it didn’t stir him from his dinner.”

A confused silence fell across the meeting, for though they might not know much about Pantocratorian history, they were pretty sure the Emperor the Finance Minister was referring to had been dead for at least 300 years.

“Er, no,” replied Spode, his cultivated air of unflappability temporarily flapped, “Andreus.”

“Oh er right,” Strassman blustered, “I must have misheard what you were talking about.” And with that she returned to the production figures before her.

“Regardless,” said Hoogaboom taking the reins of the proceedings, “We cannot really say anything further until we know whether del Moray will be a man or whether he will take his thirty pieces of silver and sell out to the fascists. Time will tell.”

The rest of the politburo was at something of a loss as to what else to say. Aerion was busy turning itself into a twisted reflection of its glorious leader, Knootoss was Knootoss. There wasn’t even an Allanean menace for the time-being, no promise of deathtroopers or titans or the sort of military capacity that made small galaxies weep. There was Snefaldia but the border had been closed for so long that not even the collective memory of the party members present, a significant portion of which were into their nineth or tenth decades, could remember a time when it was open. If there had been a time for a rapprochement that had passed as surely as the bullet had passed through Smyczek.

“What about the recent change with the dominions in the Caldan Union?” offered the People’s Commissar for Agriculture.
Hoogaboom set aside his pipe to reply but before he could so Strassman spoke again. “I suspect,” she offered, this time without looking up, “That like Comrade Zhou would have said, it is too soon to say.” The General Secretary raised his eyebrows at this but otherwise said nothing.

The business of the day have concluded, the members of the politburo began to pack away their papers. It was then that Voss spoke again.

“What of Excalbia?” The question hung in the air like the sound of a bell. What of Excalbia? “They’re back you know.”

Countries never really go away, of course, but they do occasionally recede from sight. The Fiefdom could hardly complain about that, it had frequently withdrawn from the international scene whilst energies were focused on military improvements, or trying to push the sluggish growth of the centrally planned economy. Sometimes, like in the Iesus Civil War, it had been so contemptuous of international efforts that it had not bothered even to raise its voice in protest.

Hoogaboom re-lit his pipe and recalled a cartoon that he had seen the Volkskoerant (Official Organ of the KSP) shortly before the Iesus escapade. It showed the three-headed dog Cerberus, each head of which wore a crown with the names of Pantocratoria, Excalbia and the Caldan Union. Under one paw was an assault rifle and with the other it stepped uoon a ubiquitous group of proletarians who buckled under its weight. On its back was a saddle and sat upon it was a tiny figure of the then Knootian Prime Minister, his pockets stuffed with cash. As symbolism went it wasn’t especially subtle, linking as it did Knootian finance with “The Holy Alliance” as the cartoon called the three interconnected dynasties.

“We cannot,” said the General Secretary after a moment, “Allow those three monarchs to bestride across this region again like three linked colossuses. We must either work to prevent their reunion or ensure that we have a seat at the table.”

“Pah!” barked Spode, stubbing out a cigarette with as much condescension as he could muster, “And how do we propose to do that? Do any of us have any daughters of marriageable age that we can betroth to some snot-nosed prince? Ha, I should like to see that!”

Hoogaboom scowled. Even in countries with only one party there was still politics, and Spode’s faction clearly felt sufficiently empowered to allow such an open display of disrespect. That would have to be monitored. But for now he let the comment slide.

“What do you say Gainas?”

Tulga Gainas, the hitherto silent People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, had two distinctions which marked him out from the rest of the Politburo. Firstly, and at the sprightly age of 96, he was the oldest member of the group. Secondly, he was the only one to have served in the administrations of all three of the Fiefdom’s leaders. This was partly out of sheer luck, for there were several occasions when his name had either been left off or someone else had mistakenly been added to those lists of people whose services to the Party were no longer required. But Gainas’ longevity was mainly due to his persistent refusal of any invitation to voice an opinion.

“Well,” began Gainas, his mind frantically whirling at the thought have having to dispense some sage advice, “Well...we could just ask them?”

A puff of discontented smoke was emitted from the General Secretary. “Ask who?” he asked angrily.

“The Excalbians,” replied Gainas, warming to his point, “I mean, have we ever actually spoken to them?”

“Of course we have,” interjected Spode in his customarily dismissive tone, “We must have done at some point.”

“Yes but have we? Have we actually? Our point of contact, going back at least 15 years, was always the Pantocratorians, and to a lesser extent the Caldans. We made our views known to them and trusted that this would be circulated to the wider region. But we’ve never had any bilateral talks with Excalbia, and only the very minimum with the Caldans.

So let’s bring them in, sit them down, and put across our views directly. They seem like a reasonably bunch, for capitalists.”

Hoogaboom stroked his long beard for a moment in thought. “Fine,” he said, “Whoever is Excalbia’s man here…”

“Or woman,” interjected Tlacualchihua helpfully.

“Then get him in here, and I will speak to him man-to-man.”

“Or woman,” said Tlacualchihua again.

“Whatever, and we’ll do the same with Caldan’s man…”

“Or..”

“Shut up Mathias, we’ll do the same with the Caldan Ambassador, though not at the same time. I will speak to the Excalbian ambassador myself, one of you,” the pipe magisterially swept the room, “Can meet with the Caldan.”

“And the Pantocratorians?” asked Spode.

“When there is a government in New Rome we will talk to them. Until that point I see little point in discussing anything with a caretaker administration.

And that should be it comrades. The minutes of this meeting will be circulated in the usual fashion.”

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Postby Excalbia » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:26 pm

Itztlan, Socialist People’s Fiefdom of Anahuac

The summons to meet General Secretary Noel Hoogaboom had come as a complete surprise to the Excalbian Ambassador. Even in periods of intense international activity, the embassy in Itztlan was something of a quiet backwater for Excalbian diplomacy. While experienced senior diplomats and prominent nobles were dispatched to prestigious posts where they presided over large staffs, Edgars Piške was a relatively junior member of the Imperial Senior Foreign Service. His entire staff consisted of only four Excalbians – his deputy, who also served as the political and economics reporting officer and the commercial and trade representative; a mid-level consul, who was also the management and public affairs officer; a junior vice consul; and a security attaché. The remaining 15 staff members were locals, hired to serve as clerks, janitors, tradesmen and drivers – all of whom were assumed to be reporting to the People’s Fiefdom’s intelligence services.

As Ambassador Piške made his way to Ayotochco Palace, he racked his brain to think why the General Secretary had summoned him. There was only a modest amount of trade between the two nations and no existing agreements. He was aware of no disputes. If an Excalbian citizen had run afoul of the communist state’s security apparatus, certainly someone at a lower level would have summoned the consul. He had received no instructions from the Citadel, so he would have to simply react to whatever the General Secretary had to say.

Once the car – a full-sized lightly armoured blue sedan (the embassy was to small to warrant a limousine) – arrived at its destination, the driver exited and opened the door for the Ambassador. “Thank you,” the Ambassador said as he stepped out of the car. He tugged at the sleeves of his tan, tropical weight suit, then straightened his green tie. He was a slim man, somewhat short for an Excalbian, but still taller than most of the locals, and his confident expression masked his nerves. He had never even met Foreign Affairs Commissar Gainas, much less the General Secretary himself.

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Uncle Noel
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Postby Uncle Noel » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:42 am

Piške was greeted at the entrance to the palace by a smiling functionary of the Central Secretariat. His name, though proffered and displayed on his name badge, was for the moment unimportant. It was unlikely that the Ambassador would meet him again, for on his return to his car it would be someone else who guided him back.

His guide for this leg of the journey was cheery enough though, giving as he did a brief verbal history of the palace, pointing out the many armadillo motifs (Ayotochco means “place of armadillos” in the nahua language), where the shell came through the roof during the civil war, that sort of thing. As they passed along a corridor still displaying the imperial grandeur of its former occupants the two men walked past an open door which, if the Ambassador had glanced inside, would have revealed the grand ceremonial office from which the General Secretary was photographed receiving dignitaries. Much like an Enlightenment monarch, who had a bedchamber in which the work of the day began and another where he actually slept, so there were two General Secretarial offices; one for the media and one where the actual work took place.

Piške was eventually lead to a small antechamber in which Hoogaboom’s private secretary, a harassed-looking man with a pencil moustache, regarded the Ambassador as a terrible inconvenience to his busy schedule. Nevertheless he pressed the button of an ancient intercom that sat upon his desk, a studied contrast with the modern computer from which he worked.

“Comrad…,” the secretary stopped whilst he corrected himself. He flashed a humourless smile at the Ambassador. “Mister Piške to see you Comrade General Secretary.”

“Send him in.” The General Secretary’s office was roughly L-shaped, with a rectangular conference table along the left-hand wall with the desk and occupant a off to the right. Hoogaboom arose from his papers and moved to shake the Ambassador’s hand.

Any difference in height was now much more negligible. As Piške knew, the modern Fiefdom was an (at times fractious) amalgamation of two former nations; the great Tochtepec Empire inland and the Serene Republic of Valdrass on the coast. It was from the Republic, founded (as they say) from refugees from the collapsing Ostrogothic Kingdom, that Hoogaboom and most of the Party’s senior leadership originated. In that sense the General Secretary, to all appearances, could have come from Excalbia itself.

“Ambassador Piške, thank you for coming. Please take a seat.” Once refreshments were offered and instructions (if any) referred to the private secretary (who Piške would now have learnt was called Hussmann), the General Secretary took his own chair behind the desk.

“I do not think we have met before, have we?” offered Hoogaboom, which wasn’t strictly true. When Piške arrived in the Fiefdom he was required, as with all senior diplomats, to present his letters of credence. As with many other Communist countries Anahuac declined so bourgeois an institution as a president and instead opted for collective head of state in the form of the Council of State, of which the General Secretary was also chairman. That said, the ceremony was a formality (and a quick one at that) and it was doubtful that either man would have remembered much concerning it.

“No,” continued the General Secretary, “We have not. My apologies, Ambassador, that it has taken me this long to correct that. How long have you been Excalbia’s representative in Itztlan?” This was clearly, on Hoogaboom’s part, a rhetorical question since he knew perfectly well how long Piške had been stationed here. As the diplomat has surmised on his journey across the causeway the staff in embassy were indeed informers (with one laudable exception who, out of sterling loyalty to his employers, had refused all attempts to pass information to the People’s Commissariat for State Security. Thankfully his wife was an informer).
Last edited by Uncle Noel on Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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The Resurgent Dream
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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:30 pm

Caldan Embassy
Itztlan, The Socialist People's Fiefdom of Anahuac


Nathan Keller, the Caldan ambassador to Anahuac, leaned forward in his seat and steepled his fingers in front of his lips, lost in thought. He had been that way for the better part of an hour since first learning that a member of the Politburo wanted to meet with him at some length. It was a natural look for him. Tall and thin with wire-rim glasses and graying hair, Keller looked like what he had been before his appointment, an academic. It was a skill set that had served him well so far, keeping Tarana informed about the state of affairs in the People's Fiefdom. Anahuac required shockingly little actual diplomacy. Now, however, now things might be getting more interesting.

'Do you think it's about Ellen Vuolo being detained?' he asked his adviser when she stepped in.

'Two Caldan journalists were detained in Snefaldia,' Zeynep Baykal pointed out. She was a smartly dressed woman in her late twenties and she spoke with cheerful confidence, at once obliging and commanding.

'Oh, right,' Keller said. 'Wilder. Wilden. Whoever.'

'Wilden, sir,' Baykal reminded him. 'I doubt it's about that but we'll make sure you're fully briefed before the meeting.'

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Postby Excalbia » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:24 am

As he was led through the palace, Piške was again struck by the odd mix of grand imperial pretension, utilitarian modernity and out-of-date technology that seemed to mark life in the Socialist People’s Fiefdom. Upon entering the General Secretary’s office he did recall his face from his presentation of credentials three years ago. Like most of the “People’s” Government, Hoogaboom was clearly of different racial and ethnic stock than most of country’s citizens, including those working for the Embassy. Another of the many incongruities the Ambassador had grown used to seeing in the Fiefdom.

Piške took his seat across from the General Secretary and crossed his legs. He sipped at his coffee, then set it on the table. “Unfortunately, Mr. General Secretary, I believe we have only met in passing. I regret that we have not had the opportunity to get acquainted before today.” He took another sip of his coffee as the General Secretary continued.

“I passed my third anniversary in your lovely capital just last month,” the Ambassador said with a smile. In truth, despite some of the obvious problems of living in a socialist country on the fringes of the Western Atlantic’s power centers, he enjoyed Itztlan. The weather was mild, his house was large and generally furnished to Excalbian standards. It even had a pool for his children to enjoy. “I’ve rather enjoyed my assignment here, actually,”he added. “And I look forward to being here at least a few more years.”

Setting down his cup, the Ambassador leaned back in his chair and smiled. “And, I must admit that I’m curious to learn what I can do for you today, Mr. General Secretary.”

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Uncle Noel
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Postby Uncle Noel » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:18 pm

The General Secretary smiled. Straight to business; Hoogaboom admired that in a man and it wasn’t as though they both weren’t busy, however he wanted to circle the runway one more time before he decided to land this particular plane.

“Would you not agree Ambassador,” he began, “That’s it’s nearly always the case that the full ramifications of an event can only be fully appreciated long after it has taken place? Do you think that those men who gathered in a tennis court at Versailles had any notion of the great chain of events that would lead to the Revolution, The Terror and ultimately Napoleon? Likewise did all those Pantocratorian Emperors who gave the smallest crumbs to those who wished for a more collaborative government realise that the culmination of their efforts would lead to the country we see today?

It’s for that reason, Your Excellency, that I would like to discuss the Iesus Christi Civil War, or more particularly the unintended consequences of that war. Now I can fully understand the reasons why your country, and others in the region, entered that war. We may both agree that the regime of Iesus Christi was, and if it continues to exist somewhere still no doubt, vile. I would not defer from any judgement that says that the people of that country ought not to labour under such a criminal government any longer than is necessary. So when a more moderate faction arises and asks the wider world for help...well then it would be grossly uncharitable not to lend such assistance.

But now I invite you, Mr Piške, to view the same set of circumstances from our point of view. For whilst we both agree that the regime of Bridgette Iesus ought not to exist, from where we sit we see a number of our neighbours intervening in an internal conflict, albeit at the invitation of one of those parties, with a view to effecting a change in the government of that country by military means.

Now this has two troubling consequences. The first is that it appears to take a very elastic view on the territorial sovereignty of states. But perhaps more importantly it signals to the wider region and to the world the creation of a military alliance that draws its members from a select group of nations.”

Hoogaboom paused and began to fill the pipe on his desk, stopping when he realised that many foreigners insisted on not smoking during meetings. The General Secretary could not understand this, in much the same way that he could not understand why some countries dressed their little boys up as girls, but that was by the by.

“I apologise therefore Your Excellency that you were summoned here unannounced and at such short notice, but you see it was of vital importance that we meet with you at this critical time. Since now that your government has shown a desire to engage with foreign affairs again there will be some,” he decided not to name names, “Who will seek to recreate, or renew, this alliance and use it as the bedrock to build a wider region-wide security structure. For you see since the intervention in Iesus Christi those diplomatic initiatives that have taken place have been around somewhat narrow goals; the creation of an area of free trade, the adoption of a common currency.

Now you will forgive me, Mr Piške, but we in Anahuac are not especially interested in removing the barriers to trade or adopting a common West Atlantic currency, but that does not mean that we are dismissive of efforts to create a defensive alliance. Such an arrangement, allowing for the mutual defence from countries both within the region and beyond is something that would be of great interest to us.

For, again, you must agree Ambassador that still waters run deep, and the present stillness of the region does not the negate the possibility that conflict may arise again. The military regime in Snefaldia, for example, looks stable enough for the moment but both of us know what can happens when such governments begin to lose popular legitimacy, for then they are wont to shore up their support by seeking to reclaim those lands which history and criminal conspiracy have robbed them of. And Aerion is, for the moment, busy creating its Imperial City but, again, we both know that ultra-nationalistic regimes who place such faith in the efficacy of their great leaders often turn those energies outwards once the national project is complete. And that is just within the region, from without there is Allanea. I remember a time when Allanea stalked this region like a lion, ready to devour any that she could. Just because her presence is not as pronounced as it was does not mean that she has gone or that she would not seek to destablise the region if it suited her ends.
So there is a great deal of merit in a defensive alliance, worded as it may to provide such reassurance to your government, and successive governments, that we would not seek to provoke a war or draw you into a wider but unnecessary conflict. If such a defensive arrangement leads to greater cooperation and perhaps a desire for a fuller alliance then I, for one, would not oppose such moves. If it does not,” Hoogaboom gave a small shrug, “then that is unfortunate. And if you government, and the governments of the Caldan Union, and the Holy and Most August Empire, and the Dutch Democratic Republic then wish to develop closer economic and political ties in conjunction with a purely defensive agreement then we would have no objection to that either.”

Hoogaboom looked across at the clock on the wall, conscious that he had given a monologue and aware of the time it had taken.

“I realise, of course,” he said after a moment, “That you will need to consult with your government and that this is, for the time being, only a suggestion. However if there is a desire to discuss this further then I am sure arrangements can be made for a conference to discuss the issue in…”

Hoogaboom swivelled in his chair to look at the large map of his country that was pinned to the wall behind him. His eyes scanned the town and cities for a suitable location for such a meeting. He finally settled on…

“Spodeburi.” The great baroque port city once known as Saffraanstag but which, of course, had been customarily renamed in honour of the first leader of the Fiefdom. “If, of course, your government will be agreeable to such a proposal.”

The General Secretary turned and regarded the Ambassador over the rim of his spectacles as he awaited an initial response.

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Uncle Noel
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Postby Uncle Noel » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:38 pm

Nathan Keller did not have to wait long for formal summons. Cunincpert Indiemurr, the People’s Commissar for State Security, sought to meet with him at the Ambassador's earliest convenience. The location, however, was not at the Ayotochco Palace or even in Itztlan itself but rather in Valdrass, several hours away on the coast. For that reason the option was sending a consul if time and pressing matters forbade the Ambassador from attending in person.

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Excalbia
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Postby Excalbia » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:26 am

Ambassador Piške nodded along as the General Secretary spoke. He mused to himself that undemocratic states were generally those most preoccupied with their territorial sovereignty. He remembered well how his grandmother, whose family had fled the former military regime in Upper Virginia, used to rail against General Altman’s blanket assertions of sovereignty to defend the Dominion from any foreign criticism. Sovereignty remained the cover that modern tyrants, such as the Usurper Dietrich, used to hide their crimes from the world.

Yet, Piške had to admit that Hoogaboom, though no democrat, was no Dietrich. Nor was an Altman or a Bridgette Iesus, as far as he knew at least. And he had to concede the point that it was far easier to be sanguine about sovereignty when your own was guaranteed by a massive and technologically advanced military.

“Mr. General Secretary,” the Ambassador began with a sympathetic tone, “I can certainly understand your nation’s concerns about narrow military alliances in the Western Atlantic. Nor would Anahuac be the only nation in the region to harbor concerns about the… closeness of the partnership between Pantocratoria, the Caldan Union and Excalbia. Afterall, our three ruling houses are linked by marriage. Rather closely linked, in fact.” The Ambassador gave a slight smile. “However, our alliance has always been driven more by shared values and mutual respect than by any sort of military adventurism.”

The Ambassador leaned forward slightly, allowing his smile to dissolve, and spread his hands as he spoke. “As for the Iesian Crisis, I do understand Anahuac’s… perspective on the conflict. However, as you yourself stated, it was a very particular case, involving a genocidal regime collapsing into civil war - one that at least held the possibility of escalating to the use of weapons of mass destruction and spilling beyond Iesus’ borders.” The Ambassador leaned back in his chair. “I don’t believe we can extrapolate any generalities from such a specific case.”

The Ambassador smiled slightly. “As for a broad, general agreement among the states of Western Atlantic to provide for common defence in the event of outside attack, the Holy Empire has long supported just such an objective.” He allowed his smile to fade. “In fact, several governments in the Citadel attempted to negotiate just such a multilateral treaty, yet each effort collapsed into conflict and recriminations. This led us to our current policy of seeking bilateral treaties of amity, non-aggression and commerce.” The smile gradually returned. “However, if Anahuac wished to make a new attempt at negotiating a regional treaty - though I cannot speak definitively until I’ve consulted with the Ctiadel - I would expect my nation to at least agree to attend a conference and to be a participant in the negotiations.”

With this, Piške dropped his hands to his lap and waited for the General Secretary’s reaction.

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Postby Uncle Noel » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:42 pm

If the Ambassador’s smile waxed and waned according to the requirements of the moment, the General Secretary’s countenance was as fixed as granite.
“Forgive me Mr Piške,” he said, somewhat irritably, when the other man had ceased, “But I am older, considrably older than you in fact” (it was a cheap shot but Hoogaboom took it anyway) “And as such I am aware of just how often these ‘once in a generation’ unique sets of circumstances that you describe have a tendency of repeating themselves. For if history does not repeat itself exactly it does quite often rhyme, and therefore I do not think it illegitimate if some generalities, as you say, are drawn from that peculiar set of circumstances in that particular time and place.”

Hoogaboom paused to take a sip from the coffee in front of him.

“And I can assure you Ambassador that we are pleased, well-pleased in fact, that the alliance that we have referred to today is one founded on mutual respect and shared values.”

The General Secretary placed on hand on his desk and gestured with the finger of his other hand. The clock on the wall ticked as the two men waited for the inevitable…

“But,” he obliged, “let us be frank with one another, as one man to another. Neither of us know what the constituent parts of the next Pantocratorian administration will be and whether that administration, either from within a coalition,” the general secretary meshed his fingers together by way of subconscious illustration, “or from without may be under such pressure from a more nationalist constituency that it ends up making such demands that do not wholly reflect those principles of respect and shared values that you have just articulated. In short, whilst it may be said that these tenets guided your alliance in the past, and may also shape it in the present moment, it does not follow that this will continue to apply going forward. That, I would contend, is still a point that may cause concern.”

Hoogaboom leaned back in his own chair and allowed a small smile.

“You are correct though, Mr Piške, that the time is not yet ready for a resumption of region-wide efforts. Indeed I suspect the points of divergence are greater now than they were are your country’s last attempt. You may therefore be true when you say that, for the moment, our best hopes for peace are in bi- or trilateral arrangements.”

The General Secretary took a nearby pen and crossed out the single word “Spodeburi” that had been written on a note before him.

“Might I therefore suggest that, rather than expend the effort for a regional conference, that discussions take place between our two governments and perhaps, if they are willing, the government of the Caldan Union to ascertain what such agreements may be found to facilitate the defensive treaty we have been discussing. It may also be useful in showing to the wider Western Atlantic that Excalbia’s foreign policy does not consist solely of placing all its eggs into one pan-dynastic basket.”

At that moment the door to the office opened and Hussman the secretary entered. He stood respectfully next to the open door. Obviously at some point in the proceedings Hoogaboom had silently signaled that the meeting was now to come to an end. He stood, and proffered his hand to Piške across the desk.

“I would be grateful if you could communicate such a proposal to your government. Such discussions need not take place in Anahuac if it would not be conducive,” by which the General Secretary meant if they were afraid of being bugged, “But at a location of mutual convenience. If you could take instructions and revert to us at your earliest convenience then we would be most grateful.

I thank you for coming today Ambassador, I have found our discussions fruitful and I hope, as they may say in your country, that we will be able to do business in future.”
Last edited by Uncle Noel on Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:56 pm

Ambassador Piške stood with the General Secretary and accepted the offered hand. He gave it a firm shake, followed by a slight bow. “Mr. General Secretary, it has an honour and pleasure to meet you. I will certainly relay your interest in a bilateral or trilateral meeting to the Citadel at once. While I cannot guarantee the response, my guess is that, if the Caldan Union is willing to attend a tripartite meeting, that we certainly would be willing to attend as well. And should the trilateral approach not work, we would welcome the opportunity to work towards a bilateral agreement.”

The Ambassador started to walk away and then paused. He turned back to the General Secretary. “If I may, Mr. General Secretary, if the tripartite meeting does not occur, or perhaps even if it does, have you considered the prospects of making a state visit to Excalbia or receiving such a visit? I understand that there is considerable interest in the Citadel in expanding amicable relations with other countries, particularly those in the region.”

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Postby Uncle Noel » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:06 pm

Hoogaboom had been politely shuffling his papers on his desk whilst waiting for the Ambassador to vacate his office when Piške turned and spoke again. A look of confusion flitted across that part of his face that was not obscured by a heavy beard. The possibility of a state visit was clearly not something that the General Secretary had considered. His mouth opened and, when nothing emerged, promptly shut again.

“Well I,” he began but proceeded no further. He briefly turned to look out of the office window which looked down upon a walled garden but which, if one looked over the top of the opposite building, one could see the tops of the great twin-temple that sat at the heart of Itztlan, a few other structures of similar or greater height and, beyond them, the surrounding mountains. In his mind’s eye he could picture such a state visit in the city, the tour of the historic centre, perhaps a formal banquet in the old Imperial Palace, the obligatory folk dance demonstration so beloved of such trips. It would be quite the coup to have the Emperor of Excalbia in Anahuac, for it would certainly demonstrate to the region the reemergence not only of Excalbia but of the Fiefdom as well.

And yet, it would be a lot of work. There would be the hassle of trying temporarily convert even a section of that great Imperial edifice back from a museum and into something functional. And then there was the risk of some damned fool “making a statement” and causing a disruption. The capitalist countries of the region were forever beset by protests against whichever foreign ruler happened to be receiving a carriage ride that week but anything even approaching that would be viewed by the foreign media as yet another example of the Party’s (and Hoogaboom's) weakening hand. In his mind’s eye he could see the news reports showing some attractive idealist from a neighbouring country being manhandled by a brusque if overly cautious police officer. Snefaldia might not care at the publication abroad of tales of the maltreatment of foreign journalists but Snefalida was also large enough not to care about the court of region opinion. Isolated Anahuac had no such luxury.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the KSP was rare these days in continuing to take its Marxist-Leninism seriously. She had not yet succumbed, as others in the region perhaps had and as some in the party would like, to using communism as a vehicle for the exercise of power and the personal enrichment of its elite. The General Secretary was not quite comfortable with the image of his kowtowing to a crowned head of the region, as though begging for crumbs from the Imperial table, even in the cause of expediency. But then again it was bound to help with the tourism, the importance of which grew every year.

‘Perhaps,’ thought Hoogaboom, ‘We are getting ahead of ourselves.’ He turned back to Piške and smiled.

“I confess Ambassador that I had not considered such a possibility, but I am happy to accept any such invitation to your country and would hope that, in due course, a reciprocal offer can be made to your Emperor,” whose name he had, for the moment, forgotten. He trusted that the ordering of such state visits had not been lost on the Ambassador.

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Postby Excalbia » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:01 pm

Ambassador Piške bowed slightly as the General Secretary finished speaking. He picked up on the clear order in with Hoogaboom had placed the visits. He was confident that the Citadel would welcome the General Secretary’s visit. Or, at least that he could persuade the Citadel of the advantages of welcoming the visit. “I will relay your comments, and the suggestion of state visit to Excalbia, to the Citadel at once, Mr. General Secretary. Once I have confirmation from the Citadel, I will be in touch with your staff to arrange the details.”

The Ambassador bowed again, more deeply. “It was truly an honour, sir. Good day.” With that, the Ambassador turned and walked out of the office. In his mind he was already composing his message back to the Ministry.

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Postby Excalbia » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:20 pm

OOC: The visit thread is here: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=437160.

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Postby Uncle Noel » Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:40 pm

Valdrass

Valdrass! Jewel of the Avar Sea, in whose walled harbour great merchant fleets once brought back riches from Asleur to Yarlov. If Itztlan still had the element of the exotic, with her temples and processions, then Valdrass was on much firmer, old-world footings. Her marbled streets (treacherous when wet), her gilded churches, her stout walls once spoke of its role as a nexus of power and money; today it was a popular destination for cruise ships that visited the great coastal cities of the region.

The Serene Republic of Valdrass had endured longer than the eclipse of its namesake, with influence and trade moving up the coast to the new baroque city of Saffraanstag (modern-day Spodeburi), but it was a truth universally acknowledged that whatever the then-contemporary glamour of Saffraanstag, the old money stayed behind the great bastion walls of Valdrass.

Everyone knew that Anahuac had no private property; that, after all, was theft. But everyone also knew that it wasn’t unreasonable to think that those uppermost member of the party might have a few properties available for their use at strategic points across the country. I mean, what did people think would happen if there was a crisis in Freistag, or another insurrection flowing down from the Centzontepec mountains to Tehuitzco? That government leaders would sleep in a spare room, or on the floor? It was not unreasonable, therefore, to expect Cunincpert Indiemurr, the People’s Commissar for State Security and one of the most important men in the country, to have a place allocated for his use in Valdrass. And, by charming coincidence, it just so happened to be the house he grew up in.

Indiemurr sat in the main drawing room, lazily poking a small fire that had been lit, for a cold wind blew in from the Avar Sea. His immediate family had fled during the civil war, taking with them most of the Canaletto’s, and therefore Indiemurr had been forced to decorate the room in less tasteful paintings confiscated from the townhouses of the absent bourgeois. He was dressed in a double-breasted suit, which was not his first choice. Indiemurr contrasted with Hoogaboom, who always dressed like a sober burgher, for he much preferred a gaudy military uniform. In another time he would have made a good Reikmarshall, but in the circumstances he had to settle for the uniforms of those honorary military ranks that time and service to the party had bestowed on him. He had decided, or rather the staff who dressed him had decided, that a contemporary professional look was the best for the Caldan ambassador, whose attendance he awaited.
Last edited by Uncle Noel on Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:58 pm

Valdrass

Shortly before he was scheduled to arrive, Ambassador Keller was driven up to the not officially private residence in a black Archibald Town Car, a full-size luxury sedan of the sort typically used by Caldan diplomats. It had been a drive of several hours. Ambassador Keller had had little to do but review his information on Cunincpert Indiemurr. There was not that much of it, even after years of observation. He was a man with little family in country, a man who enjoyed ostentatious uniforms and a feeling of importance. This was a relief to Keller. Such men were not that hard to understand and manipulate. However, it was also scant reading. There was not much in the way of detail. The driver, a heavyset man who'd been here before Keller and would likely be here after him, climbed out and opened the door for the ambassador. Here they were!

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Postby Uncle Noel » Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:41 pm

The Drawing Room of the People's Commissar

"Ambassador Keller Comrade". It had taken some time to train Vulk, the old Indiemurr Family Retainer, to not refer to the master of the house as 'sir' in the presence of guests, since it didn't sit well with the 'classless society' thing. Thankfully he was able to remember this as he showed Keller into the room.

Indiemurr rose from his chair. "Ambassador Keller," he began, holding out his hand and inviting the diplomat to cross the room to shake it, "Thank you for coming, please do take a seat. Vulk, some refreshments for our guest, he has very kindly made the journey from Itztlan."

Indiemurr poked at the fire whilst Keller relayed any preferences for drink to the waiting servant permanent attache from the VKS. The great fireplace was topped by the great coat of arms of the Indiemurr family but information regarding such undignified accretions of the pre-revolutionary period was not widely circulated and it was unlikely that the Ambassador would have recognized them.

"I wonder," began Indiemurr as he settled back into his armchair, "Whether I could trouble you, Ambassador, for an overview of Caldan Foreign Policy aims. In as much as a loyal servant of your government is able to articulate them. What does the Caldan Union want, and how would it like the Western Atlantic to look in, say, 10 years time?"

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:01 am

Uncle Noel wrote:The Drawing Room of the People's Commissar

"Ambassador Keller Comrade". It had taken some time to train Vulk, the old Indiemurr Family Retainer, to not refer to the master of the house as 'sir' in the presence of guests, since it didn't sit well with the 'classless society' thing. Thankfully he was able to remember this as he showed Keller into the room.

Indiemurr rose from his chair. "Ambassador Keller," he began, holding out his hand and inviting the diplomat to cross the room to shake it, "Thank you for coming, please do take a seat. Vulk, some refreshments for our guest, he has very kindly made the journey from Itztlan."

Indiemurr poked at the fire whilst Keller relayed any preferences for drink to the waiting servant permanent attache from the VKS. The great fireplace was topped by the great coat of arms of the Indiemurr family but information regarding such undignified accretions of the pre-revolutionary period was not widely circulated and it was unlikely that the Ambassador would have recognized them.

"I wonder," began Indiemurr as he settled back into his armchair, "Whether I could trouble you, Ambassador, for an overview of Caldan Foreign Policy aims. In as much as a loyal servant of your government is able to articulate them. What does the Caldan Union want, and how would it like the Western Atlantic to look in, say, 10 years time?"


Keller crossed the room, smiling as he politely shook hands with Indiemurr. 'Of course. Thank you for inviting me.' He smiled to Vullk as he took his seat. 'Just water would be fine, thank you.'

Keller pondered Indiemurr's question. It was something he thought of often but he couldn't remember the last time he had been asked so bluntly. It was not a question that could be bluntly answered, of course. Certainly not here. 'The Caldan Union seeks increased cooperation, integration, and engagement in the region. We would like to see region-wide discussions at the ministerial-level on issues of common interest and the creation of a 'clean' Atlantic treaty with generally understood terms, explicitly superseding previous regional treaties and settling outstanding issues. A bit of a fresh start for the region.'

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Postby Uncle Noel » Thu May 03, 2018 1:23 pm

"I see," said Indiemurr, "And is this "clean" Western Atlantic open to everyone or do you need a Princess to marry off first?"

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:29 pm

Uncle Noel wrote:"I see," said Indiemurr, "And is this "clean" Western Atlantic open to everyone or do you need a Princess to marry off first?"


"It's open to everyone," Keller said with a slightly bemused smile.


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