A Place in the World

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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The Resurgent Dream
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Founded: Aug 22, 2004
Left-Leaning College State

A Place in the World

Postby The Resurgent Dream » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:18 pm

For better or worse, the Caldan Union had a bit of reputation for cultural navel-gazing. Caldans, at least in most of historical Caldas, were part of what sociologists called the Anglo-Celtic macroculture along with Leagrans, Lanerians, Excalbians, Soveriegn Statesians, Upper Virginians, Finarans, Gantarans, and parts of Allanea. Caldan English, for all its vaulted independence, was 75% Johnson and 25% Webster. It was only a few centuries since Caldas, Laneria, and Leagran had all simply been British Vasconia. Add to that the cultural changes associated with the recent Dominion reforms, which saw four former Dominions with rather different backgrounds admitted as full Provinces, and the seeming disintegration of the Western Atlantic as former allies drifted away and military authoritarians, self-proclaimed empresses, and far-right populists threatened the democratic order, and Caldans were understandably concerned with defining themselves and their place in the world. This concern was reflected in nearly every area of life.

It was in popular music. Dame Emma Holt's 'Welcome to Caldas' had actually played a role in the recent constitutional reforms. All proceeds from the Welcome to Caldas Tour had gone to the Yes for Caldas campaign and the tour itself, which also featured a who's who of other Caldan stars, had been a plea for an inclusive, united Caldan Union. Meanwhile, Ian Avakian's hit 'Made in Caldas' was climbing the charts with its catchy references to Caldan culture and Stephen Bishop's hit 'Party in the Whole C.U' was the club song of the spring. A bit less positively, the Caldan Western chart-topper for the last five weeks had been Charles Foy's 'A County I Used to Know' lamenting the loss of the Caldas of his childhood. A different audience and a different sentiment, held deeply by some.

There had also been some important books on Caldan identity published recently. Former prime minister Amber Trinh, now Lady Trinh, wrote an extensive book on Caldan self-perception, linking it to romanticism. She saw this, rather than any political ideas, as being the lasting legacy of the Jacobites. It was even, in her view, the explanation for the disastrous policy which had born such bad results in Alekthos, a policy of not merely letting in individual immigrants but chartering whole settlements for homogeneous groups of refugees looking to establish a way of life. It was not the act of ordinary compassion or of liberal humanism but of a romanticism which had grown to find its own national story too stable and quotidian and had fallen in love with the romantic myths of other nations. It was likely overstated but there was some truth there. At any rate, it was a more novel thesis than the one in Philip Davies book, another virtuous but unimaginative discussion of the Caldan mosaic.

Most importantly, however, was a publication by a man named Christopher Randolph on the future of the Western Atlantic from the Caldan perspective. The book not only discussed regional history at length but imagined, in purely hypothetical and aspirational terms, a future Atlantic agreement which Randolph claimed would address the problems now besetting the region and promote harmony, integration, freedom, and democracy. His proposal explicitly superseded the existing Atlantic treaties, one included an expansive array of Western Atlantic nations including nations like Snefaldia and Balthorvia which had not been party to previous treaties, controversially made the human rights provision aspirational except for enforceable prohibitions on slavery and genocide, and which he allowed might, under the right circumstances, include a currency union. Randolph had no official government post and his book was not by any means policy. It was the work of a prominent professor at Bartlet University. However, Randolph was an influential theorist in Labour circles and had been for years, one whose books and articles were almost required reading among the party faithful. Many believed his ideas gave some hint to the slow but steady workings of the Foster Government's foreign policy thinking. Foster had announced engagement with Snefaldia, a policy recently tested when the Snefaldians had arrested two journalists. She had attempted to shore up the alliance with Pantocratoria, including by symbolic gestures like advising the Queen to establish her own dynastic herald at the Imperial Court, something favoured by the Pantocratorians. However, Randolph had nothing to say about three of the Caldan Union's most important relationships. Foster had promised a reset with New Edom and with Xirnium. The first was plodding along but never quite seemed to come to fruition. As for the second, Foster was scheduled to travel to the Eternal Republic soon. It would be her first major trip abroad as prime minister. Allanea also loomed large and yet the Government's policy remained one of almost pointed ambiguity. Dangerous friend? Mortal enemy? No one quite seemed to know.

VIP Lounge, Below
Caer Gawen, Tasat

Caer Gawen was the entertainment capital of the Caldan Union and one of the premier entertainment centres in the Western Atlantic and the world. For some, perhaps most, of the people from all over the globe who came together to create film, music, television, and theatre, it was a job to be left behind at the end of the day. Even some major Caldan actors like Eugene Henrie and Selena Harden claimed they did the same, limiting all their social media and public appearances to discussion and promotion of their actual work and leading allegedly ordinary home lives. However, for many Caldan actors, musicians, models, and socialites, the Caer Gawen celebrity social scene was the greatest performance of all, with an extravagance that rivaled the royal court in Tarana and and a sense of excess which parodied the financial titans in Narich. Below, an underground dance club, was one of the most exclusive spots in the city.

At first glance, Below was not that different than any other dance club. Beautiful people, mostly in their twenties, danced and drank and chatted in fashionable outfits. While a recognisable song occasionally played, the music was mostly a constant beat which sampled liberally from the pop and dance charts. The only thing that made Below different was that some of those young people were the most famous names in the Caldan Union and others the sorts of high profile entertainment industry insiders celebrities flocked to see. It was exclusive only because it was exclusive. Tonight, the actress Claudia McGarry was here with the model Cordelia Grant and the singer Onée Reeve, all gossiping and drinking in a booth off to the side. Claudia was famously dating Prince Andrew but the tabloids were full of reports that she worried about his trip to Pantocratoria, where he was allegedly looking for a wife of suitable rank. Even Emma Holt was there, dancing with her boyfriend, Jack Gore, a man known for, well, being Emma Holt’s boyfriend.

Pop star Lise Charest, the same who had been attacked in Pantocratoria by Action National militants, entered wearing a simple but elegantly tailored little black dress. She was accompanied by Hannah Herrnstein, Courtney Walker, and Skye Anderson. The other three women were not particularly famous, merely close friends of Lise. Nonetheless, they fit in well enough. Hannah had wavy red hair and freckles and wore a cheerful if rather short blue dress. Courtney was a short girl with night dark hair in a black dress fit for the club and Skye was dressed in black jeans, high heeled boots, and a matching blouse and jacket. All three were looking curiously around the party but Lise herself looked rather distracted as she headed for the bar.

Prince Annibale Neujnôry, a titled nobleman of no particularly close kinship to the royal House of Athväryäna, glanced briefly at Lise as he sipped a small-batch craft beer out of a thin-stemmed pilsner glass. His arm was close to though not quite touching the honey-brown body of a bright young thing with long blonde hair, soot-black lashes and naked arms. The dress she wore was a short sequined job with straps, hem above her knees, and the audacious heels made her calf muscles flex. He was dark haired, with deep violet sunglasses over his eyes and body tricked out in a minutely tailored, dark-blue, double-breasted Hettie Agathrazân suit.

Lise leaned over the bar next to Prince Annibale, her own bare, olive-brown arm almost but not quite brushing the silk sleeve of his shirt. She gave him and the blonde a distracted smile before she spoke to the bartender. ‘Lemon drop,’ she ordered, ‘two screwdrivers and a rum and coke.’

Prince Annibale grinned back, half turning at the other woman’s close proximity, and even his blonde company gave an extra two teeth in a friendly smile. They had both recognised Lise, though they were cool about it, as you were expected to be Below.

‘Will you be able to carry all those drinks?’ the blonde asked, fluently and expertly in English, with a fixed, bright smile. Prince Annibale smiled at the question.

‘They normally give you a tray,’ Lise said, ‘although, if you’d like to join us…’ She returned the blonde’s smile warmly.

‘We don’t want to impose,’ said Prince Annibale at the same moment that his female company said: ‘We’d love to.’ They both laughed together, Prince Annibale because he had been making so much progress with her while they had been alone. ‘I mean sure,’ he said.

‘Great!’ Lise said cheerfully, grabbing the lemon drop for herself and also the rum and coke. She allowed her new companions to carry the two screwdrivers. She led the way over to where her friends had gotten a booth, sliding in and self-consciously tugging her little black dress down to cover her upper thighs. She handed the rum and coke to Courtney. ‘These are…’ It was only then she realised she had not actually gotten the names of her guests. She shot them an inquiring look.Courtney looked to the newcomers curiously. Hannah and Skye looked to what must be their drinks.

The blonde flashed her teeth in a wide inane smile. ‘I’m Ingrid,’ she said, and then sipped furiously from her straw, as though trying to think. Her drink was soda water, sugar, lime juice and gin. ‘Annibale,’ said the man carefully, low-key checking Lise out while she fidgeted. Her dress was quite cute. He noticed, but not in a predatory fashion.

‘Where are you guys from?’ Lisa asked. ‘Parlez vous français?’ she continued, trying to place their accents. She spoke French with a provincial Arcadian accent more marked than when she spoke English.

‘No, sorry,’ said Ingrid, shaking her head. ‘Some,’ said Annibale. ‘We’re from Xirnium. There was an international rowing regatta,’ he explained.

‘In Caer Gawen?’ Courtney asked, a little surprised.

‘No, no,’ said Ingrid. ‘Bartlet College,’ she said, referring to the race in Centreville, Anata. Not in Caer Gawen or even Tasat but only a short train ride away. ‘The teams are doing some sightseeing,’ she added, playing with the straw in her glass.

‘Oh? You were actually competing?’ Courtney asked, impressed. ‘Did you win?”

‘Courtney!’ Lise chided her for being so direct, but she nonetheless turned to Ingrid, wondering the same thing.

Ingrid giggled. ‘Uh huh,’ she said, nodding. ‘We finished first in the under 23 women’s eight final and the second heat of the women’s straight four, although we finished second in the straight four final.’

‘The girls did really well,’ said Annibale, and Ingrid beamed.

‘What’s the straight four?’ asked Courtney, who apparently wasn’t embarrassed about her own ignorance of rowing.

‘It’s a coxless shell with four rowers,’ Lise said automatically. ‘It’s what they use for elite competitions which, I guess, is what you’d have at Bartlet.’

‘That’s right,’ said Annibale.

‘It’s the largest rowing boat where everybody rows,’ Ingrid added. ‘At least, I think that’s the case.’

‘I don’t know,’ Lise admitted, a bit embarrassed she’d been so ready with the earlier definition. Rowing wasn’t widely followed in her circles.

Annibale looked quietly amused.

‘Do they have boats where not everybody rows?’ Courtney asked Ingrid.

‘Yeah,’ said Ingrid. ‘Especially in larger boats, there may be someone responsible for steering and turning the rudder.’

‘Congratulations!’ Lise said cheerfully, cutting off Courtney who looked like she was about to say something else. Ingrid found herself starring with her mouth open stupidly, not entirely certain how to to respond to this.

‘And how about you?’ Lise asked Annibale curiously. ‘Did you also compete?’ Her dark eyes seemed to look him over for a moment.

‘Sure,’ Annibale said casually. As a man, he did not notice Lise’s glance, although Ingrid could not have missed it . ‘I was lucky enough to row in the eight,’ he explained.

‘And how did you do?’ Courtney asked.

‘Second in the final,’ said Annibale. ‘The Caldans were just too good and came first; and with a comfortable margin. They were some really strong guys. Although I guess my teammates were pretty strong too, since they had to carry me,’ he added self-deprecatingly.

Lise laughed. ‘Would you like me to introduce you around?’ she asked.

‘Absolutely,’ said Annibale. ‘We’ve already met Courtney, and you’re Lise. Happy to know you.’

‘You too,’ Lise grins. ‘These are Hannah and Skye,’ pointing to each woman in turn. Ingrid waved and Annibale offered each a flashing smile. ‘Do you want to meet Emma?’ She grins and glances in that direction.

‘I thought you and her had beef,’ said Annibale with mock concern.

Ingrid laughed with a touch of hysteria. ‘He’s joking! That’s how he jokes, I think,’ she said.

Annibale winked.
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:54 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:03 pm

Joint post with The Resurgent Dream.

Nursery, St. Andrew’s Palace
Tarana, the Caldan Union

Queen Gwendolyn held her infant daughter as she and her husband stepped into the playroom where her son and heir apparent was watching cartoons. “Charles…” she began.

“Hold on, mama! I wanna see who wins!” Charles barked at her, not turning away from the screen where an animated puffin was racing a rabbit.

Gwendolyn looked to Peter with a small sigh and then said more firmly, “Charles!”

He jumped up and ran over to hug her legs. “Davy says he can run faster than George. I don’t think so. Puffins aren’t very fast. Are they Mama?”

Peter reached across and took Helena from his wife’s arms, allowing her to focus on their son. He reached down and smiled at the infant girl, still amazed that he could have contributed to something so precious and perfect.

‘Thank you, love,’ Gwendolyn said, smiling softly to her husband of over a decade. The little Princess Helena nestled into her father’s arms, recognition in her eyes, and made an excited little noise. Gwendolyn looked at her daughter attentively for another few seconds. Helena hadn’t spoken yet but Gwendolyn found herself trying to imagine a word in every little noise she made. Reluctantly letting go of the idea, she bent over to hoist her son into her arms and walk towards the room’s comfortable couch, far cosier than furniture to be found anywhere else in the palace. ‘No, puffins aren’t very fast. But Davy’s a special puffin, isn’t he? He can talk and he’s the star of the show.’

Peter followed, cradling Helena carefully in his arms. He took a seat in a rocking chair next to the couch and gently rocked as he listened to Gwendolyn talk with their son. While he was not a particular fan of Davy the puffin, his own tastes in cartoons running more towards crime-fighting canines and flightless bird-chasing coyotes, he was a fan of his wife’s voice and of having his family together. Away, even for a moment, from the pressures and formalities of their station.

‘It’s nice to feel almost normal sometimes,’ Gwendolyn said to her husband, as if she had some other other reference point. ‘Maybe the next time we’re in Excalbia, we can take him to a baseball game.’ While she wasn’t exactly an avid follower of the sport, Gwendolyn still remembered that first outing with Peter like it was yesterday. It was a small thing but it had been refreshing the way the Excalbian prince had sat in the stands with her like they were ordinary fans. That didn’t quite work in the Caldan Union and certainly not in Pantocratoria.

“It’s like you can read my mind sometimes,” Peter said as looked down at a drowsy yawn from Helena. “I would love to take Charles… all of us, really… to a ballgame.” He looked over at his son and game him a wink. “I think he’d like it. Wouldn’t you, Charles?”
“What is it, Daddy?” Charles asked curiously looking at his father as he fidgeted in his mother’s lap.

“Baseball?” Peter smiled. “It’s a game. With a ball and bat. The pitcher throws the ball and the batter tries to hit and run around the bases without getting tagged. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I should teach you how to the throw the ball, son.”

“So it’s like tag?” Charles asked. “So you have to run around both bases? Yours and the other teams?” It was clear some terms needed explaining. “I’d love to throw the ball, Daddy! I…” Whatever he was about to say was cut off when Charles noticed the race concluding on the television. “You were right, Mama! Davy did win!” Helena looked over at her brother and either giggled or snorted. It was hard to tell.

“So he did,” Peter said with a chuckle, trying to remember ever being so excited about a racing puffin.

Gwendolyn couldn’t remember. She liked watching Davy the Puffin with her son because he liked it, but she could never quite decide if the content was endearing or mind-numbing. Maybe a little of both. “I’ll make sure they order a ball and a couple of gloves and that the nannies no not to tell him how to use it. That’s your job.”

Peter smiled. “And one that I shall relish, my love.”

“Are you looking forward to seeing your uncle?” Gwendolyn asked Peter.

“Uncle Constantine?” asked Charles, who hadn’t seen his Excalbian family as much as his parents might have liked.

“My uncle,” Peter said looking over at his son, “your Great Uncle David.” Peter looked up at his wife and nodded. “Indeed I am.” Glancing down at his daughter and over at his son, Peter smiled, then looked back to Gwendolyn. “Now that we have children of our own, I find myself…,” he shrugged as best he could while still rocking Helena, “more sympathetic, if that’s the word, towards David and Elizabeth, and Christiana. They raised me after my parents died and they got my,” he gave a knowing smile, “difficult teen years, rather than the cute Davy the Puffin years. I was a,” he looked over at his son, “challenging young man to parent. And I’m just now becoming aware of what a great job they did.”

Gwendolyn nods gently to her husband’s words. She starts to speak but then seems to think better of it. She doesn’t want to reference Charles and Helena’s inevitable adolescences in front of them. It wouldn’t do, even if they wouldn’t really understand. “How is Christiana?” she finally asked delicately. She was aware of her husband’s aunt’s situation.

Peter shifted Helena from one arm to the other, allowing him to lean somewhat closer to Gwendolyn. “She actually wrote me a message this morning; I meant to tell you earlier, but there wasn’t a good opportunity.” He gave a half smile, aware that this might not be the best opportunity either. “She has asked Janet to marry her. And she was on her way up to the castle to tell Uncle David. I’m anxious to hear how it went.”

“I am interested to hear how that went,” she said with a small, nervous smile. “I wonder what the public reaction will be in Excalbia.” She stared off for a moment as if wondering much more than that.

“I wanna marry you, mama!” Charles interjected in a sweet moment it would mortify him to recall later if he remembered it.

“That’s sweet, darling, but it doesn’t work that way. I’m already married to your father.” She reached for her husband’s hand. “You’re going to find a lovely young lady of your own one day. I promise.”

Peter took Gwendolyn’s hand and looked over at his son and smiled. “Your mother’s right, Charles. The right young lady is out there somewhere, and someday, when you’re ready, you’ll meet her. Just the way I met your mother.”

“Okay,” Charles answered simply enough and looked back towards the television.

Gwendolyn watched her son for a moment, thinking of Christiana and briefly wondering how she would feel if one day it wasn’t a young lady he wanted. What did it say that here the Church’s teaching seemed more like an obstacle to be navigated than a guiding light? Was it a reflection on a dogmatic church hierarchy or on the weakness of her own faith? She turned back to Peter and let her hand drop. “I wonder how the Pantocratorians will feel. If Action National wants to drive a wedge between Pantocratorians and their traditional allies, this is just the sort of symbolic cultural issue on which they might fixate.”

Peter frowned slightly. He had been thinking about his aunt’s upcoming marriage to her long-time companion in terms of the impact on Excalbian society and the Excalbian Church, but had not considered the impact it could have on relations with Pantocratoria. “That could be a problem,” he said after a moment. “Culture warriors do like to manipulate the lives of others to their own ends.” He sighed heavily. “How do you think the Pantocratorians will react?”

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The Resurgent Dream
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Founded: Aug 22, 2004
Left-Leaning College State

Postby The Resurgent Dream » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:43 am

Royal Naval College, HCMS Roseway
Roseway, Edina

The Royal Naval College was the Royal Caldan Navy's university for command level officers, offering courses in strategy, national security policy, and military administration, available to naval officers who had obtained the rank of Lieutenant Commander or higher and Royal Caldan Marines of the rank of Major or higher, as well as a few select officers of equivalent rank from the other services and from close allies like Pantocratoria, Knootoss, and Excalbia. While the College did not teach substantive courses in design and engineering, it did address conceptual issues of weapons design and development as well as deployment. Today, however, hundreds of students and staff, in dozens of rooms, each standing for a specific ship, submarine, or station, were engaged in complex war games that would not only affect their own marks for strategy but also Caldan military planning. The rooms were simply rooms outfitted with computer terminals hooked up to the StarCom war gaming system. Officers and sailors in the Royal Caldan Navy were exhaustively tested in simulators and personnel and ships both tested in live-fire drills but this was not that. This was a strategic exercise.

The Greens, a clear stand-in for the Caldans, were defending an imaginary island from an invasion by the Reds, a large land power nearby. They had dispatched four Pericles-class supercarriers with their cruiser and destroyer escorts. They were accompanied by amphibious assault ships and corvette and frigates outfitted to support an amphibious landing. They were intended to retake the island. Four attack submarines stalked ahead of the carrier groups and a Meteor-class stealth destroyer skulked around the edges of the fight. Although real ship names were never used in war games, the Meteor was the only ship in her class and thus everyone knew the stealth destroyer vessel represented her. However, these games were designed to test performance against an enemy capable of waging serious surface warfare. The Second Ambaran War strategy of merely using naval power for force projection was obsolete since the Iesian Civil War, if it had ever been sound. Nearly a thousand kilometres from the island, the amphibious forces and about half of the frigates and corvettes came to a stop, letting the carrier groups take the bulk of ship-to-ship combat and not moving to a range where they could be easily destroyed. The other corvettes and frigates dispersed, went to radio silence, lowered their energy signature to the minimum, and relied on their stealth hulls to slip largely undetected towards small islands and outcroppings some distance from where the main fleets would be deployed. When they get in range, they also launch a fleet of small, hard-to-detect surveillance drones which, combined with satellite intel, provide a decent picture of the enemy deployment.

As the Green carriers approached the island, they came under fire from Red guided-missile destroyers carrying powerful, longrange shipkillers, heftier and with a longer range than most Caldan surface-to-surface weapons. The Green missile defence systems neutralised or destroyed most of the incoming missiles but they were in danger of being overwhelmed. The necessity of undertaking evasive manoeuvres prevented the carriers from launching their attack aircraft. A powerful missile hit the deck of one and achieved a mission kill while another lost a cruiser and a destroyer from the escort. However, precise targeting information is being relayed on Green channels and a silent frigate within range picks it up on passive radio. The frigate unleashes its missiles. The launch gives it away but it's a fast ship and there are other little inlets to hide in. Moments later, a corvette does the same. The Red fleet has taken some losses and is now having to fight on multiple axes, attacked from small but unknown sources. The three surviving carriers launch their planes even as the first submarine comes in range. The battle is complicated and costly. Ultimately, however, the use of smaller, dispersed ships for distributed lethality combined with the traditional concentration of heavy firepower in the carrier groups seems to have paid off in this exercise.

In one of those rooms, men and a few women were applauding in their navy blue stepping out uniforms. A man was hunkered over a computer screen. 'It's confirmed, Captain. We destroyed Richelieu.' It was the Red flagship.

Commander Robyn Sealy smiled but her smile was reserved. A moderately tall woman with caramel skin, wavy brown hair, startling green eyes, and a Danaan accent, Sealy was no one's image of the genteel Caldan naval officer but in spite, or perhaps because, of that, she was already famed for her calm in times of excitement and of stress. 'Good work everyone,' she noted, 'but we still need to move in with the amphibious assault ships and cover the landing. Don't celebrate until it's over.'

Jim Murphy's Cafe and Bake Shop
Covington, Dara

Four regulars made their way into the local Jim Murphy's, known near universally as Jimmy's, ordered, and sat at their accustomed booth. The four men were different in outward appearance. Gideon Quinn was a husky man with dark, receding hair, a thick beard, and bad teeth. He was dressed in a black long-sleeved tee, black jeans, and heavy black boots and his ears, nose, and eyebrows were all visibly pierced. Benjamin Heston was a short, muscular man with slick brown hair and a tendency to wear flannel, jeans, and workboots. Edward Young was a rotund balding man whose cap and t-shirt said he had served in the Royal Caldan Regiment (3rd battalion) during the Iesian campaign. Dwight Lincoln was a man with sandy hair, thin glasses, and a soft, bookish look about him, although he did not dress professionally in a sweatshirt, worn jeans, and sandals. The four ordered doughnuts and sandwiches and got free coffee in their Murphy's Travel Mugs.

'So we've got #BlackLivesMatter in Narich now, trying to keep the police out of that pride stuff,' Young complained as he sipped his coffee. 'I don't see why we have to have that here. Narich police kill what, one guy every ten years or so? Normally a terrorist or something.'

'Were you going to go drive all the way to Narich to show your pride?' Lincoln teased, only half listening to the answer as he pulled out his phone and started looking up the police killing statistics for Narich.

'It'll be in Dara soon enough,' Young continued. 'I didn't fight for this country to get spit on by millenials in the street. Maybe I should get a gun. I'm prior service military. It shouldn't be too hard to get the licence.'

'Just don't tell them it's for a civil war,' Lincoln warned. 'This isn't Allanea. The last person killed by police in Narich was in 2011, by the way. Thomas Darby.'

'Sounds like a case of racial profiling,' Young said sarcastically. 'See if there's a picture.'

''36 killed in Laneria just this year,' Lincoln continued as if Young hadn't spoken. '15 in Marlund. Five in Alekthos.'

'All of those places are foreign countries,' Young shrugged.

'Alekthos is not a foreign country!' Quinn exlaimed, speaking for the first time and in an excited tone. 'It's as much a Caldan province as Dara is. Cut out the racist horseshit.'

'I'm being racist now?' Young asked irritably.

'You've been giving out a crazy racist uncle vibe this whole conversation,' Heston commented irritably. 'I'm sort of embarrassed for people to overhear us. Why are you going off about black lives matter? It's barely a thing in this country. Hell, in this whole region. It's popped up some in Laneria and now this Narich thing but it's not a Caldan movement.'

'You're not allowed to not say it. They were attacking Emma Holt for not Chirping it,' Young continued.

'You can't stand Emma Holt,' Lincoln snapped, 'and it's those same fringe people who attacked her concert. They don't make the rules for society just because the criticised her on Chirp. That's just called counterspeech.'

'Police accountability isn't just a racial issue. It's a basic civil liberties issue,' Heston said. 'I admire Allanea too but but it's hardly an unforgiving, let the cops do whatever sort of country.'

'The slogan endorses a movement, a specific movement with specific goals,' Young said, 'but they acted like it was just a statement, like if she didn't Chirp it then by definition black lives didn't matter to me. Everybody's life matters to me. It doesn't mean gay cops shouldn't get to be in a parade. When did that stop being the left-wing agenda?' He looked at his three companions. 'Come on, now. Don't act like all three of you didn't vote Labour.'

'I voted for the Liberals, actually,' Heston said. 'I hate theocrats and aristocrats even more than bureaucrats...'

'The National Party...' Young began angrily.

'The National Party is a bunch of damned theocrats and aristocrats if you scratch the surface just the tiniest bit,' Heston snapped more emphatically, 'and I think the Liberals have a real chance of shrinking government, including military and police, if they get back into power. Hurst is the first real Liberal in national politics since Lacau.' O. Quincy Hurst was the new leader of the Liberal Party.

'You're really going to vote for the party of Sacker?' Young asked incredulously. 'You were in the navy, man! You saw action in Iesus! You're a gunowner and I know you don't approve of the damned licencing. You may have got one but you don't like begging for your rights.'

'It's not like Xirnium or Pantocratoria,' Lincoln said. 'They're no more regulated than cars. We don't want Lanerian style mass shootings here.'

'Because Xirnium and Pantoractoria are the benchmarks of freedom,' Heston sneered. 'But the Liberal Party...

'The Liberal Party is anti-semitic is what it is....' Young snapped. 'Think about it. Selinia was settled by Jewish refugees looking for a new life, looking for their own home and community. Sacker lumped them in with the other Alekthos settlements, put them in the line of old hatreds, didn't do much to protect them. Then Alekthos Jihad nukes Solomon. Hundreds of thousands of people who came here looking to escape persecution, looking for the promised Caldan tolerance were killed and, for the most part, they were killed because they were Jewish. Just like Marlund. Just like Iesus. And our king died with them. So, if sometimes cops have to shoot dangerous people in Alekthos, I don't mind much. And whether this BLM shit is big or small, I don't like having my every thought policed by people we helped. The Caldan Union ended slavery in Marlund and Dana and Hipolis. Hell, we practically ended it in Laneria and we were the North Star of Freedom at the end of the Underground Railroad for a century before that. So I don't like being shamed for being a real Caldan.'

Everyone else was talking at once. 'What exactly is a real Caldan?' Lincoln asked.

'Man, I don't think we really disagree. You're talking past each other,' Quinn said hopefully.

But Heston was on his feet. 'Yeah, Ed. You don't mind cops gunning down brown people because you're so opposed to prejudice. If you want to be a bigot, don't bullshit me about it.' He started for the door. 'I'll be driving up to Tarana to see that Allanean art expedition if anyone who's not a racist asshole wants to come.'

'Are we still going shooting this weekend?' Young asked. Heston answered with a single finger.

Thasus Hall
Caer Gawen, Tasat

Janice Dobkin was a rail thin blonde woman with crystal blue eyes and a jawline that could cut glass. Her friend Elizabeth Kirk has just a hair shorter and even thinner with tight red curls and sharp green eyes.The two models were peeking at the audience before the Medusa Haute Couture Spring-Summer Show. ‘All the photographers are taking pictures of Lise with some fashionable Xirniumite,’ Dobkin observed.

‘Very fashionable and very handsome. What is he doing with her?’ Kirk added as green eyes moved admiringly over Annibale’s form. In Caldan high fashion circles, Xirnium was very in and the high-waisted skirts, floral dresses, boots, stripes, leather jackets, and tortoiseshell sunglasses that Dobkin, Kirk, and over a dozen other models would showcase tonight were largely inspired by Xirniumite trends.

‘Careful now,’ Dobkin chided playfully. ‘You can’t be cruel to Caldas’s 60 kilo, 165 centimetre sweethearts.’

‘Ugh! She’s worse than Dame Emma,’ Kirk said in a voice dripping with contempt as she rested narrow fingers on her companion’s slight shoulder. ‘Shorter, ambiguously, non-threateningly brown, oh so relatable.’ From her tone, Kirk did not know a harsher term.

‘I would not be wearing that skirt if my thighs looked like that!’ Dobkin hissed. ‘How did she even leave the house?’

‘Body positivity,’ Kirk teased. ‘Healthy at any size, as if every bipedal hippo who wants a participation trophy knows better than the doctors.’ Medically speaking, of course, Kirk was significantly underweight and Charest on the slimmer end of the healthy range, but she didn’t seem aware of this fact.

'I just don't get it,' Dobkin said with a sigh. 'This is a fashion show with some of the best models in Caldas. Why would he want to cling to a girl you could meet at any Jimmy's in suburban Dara or Sial or some dreadful prairie province like that?'

'It's his first time in the Caldan Union,' Kirk said with a vicious smile. 'We'll see how it goes. Now let's get ready for the show.'
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Snefaldia » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:46 pm

Tappaš Mammijan could have easily become a musician if he chose; he had the kind of easy good looks that made for celebrity, with dark eyes and olive skin, excellently-manicured curly hair and a winning smile. He took the charisma and used it for something else, becoming a public intellectual and writer who made most of his money on the colloquium circuit and on consulting retainers. His books, which occupied that publishing space below incredibly boring but serious academic works and above the high-selling but intellectually vapid political science and popular history tomes that usually ended up hinting that secret societies controlled the world, were more for name-recognition than anything. His most cutting review, though, was from a Taxilhan daily that called him "a writer of books that everyone claims to have read but never has, which is testament to his actual influence."

Mammijan's early career was focused more on rather straightforward and easy-to-access analysis of regional geopolitics and interpretations of Snefaldia's actions and reactions on the global stage, along with a healthy dose of military theory. His best-selling book, though, just released in 2017, had been "National Footprints: The Origins of the Snefaldian People and Their Future," a history that swung between clear-headed analysis of Snefaldian origins in the misty past of 500 BCE and a borderline ethnonationalist manifesto on the eventual regional dominance of the Snefaldian people and the reconquest of the ancient, pre-migration homelands of the Snefaldian people in Vasconia. By Snefaldian, he generally meant Luwite, the largest ethnic group in Snefaldia.

He'd made a name for himself in the interim, first hitting the speech circuit in Snefaldia where he could really play up the nationalism, and then going abroad, touring Excalbia, Pantocratoria, and Knootoss, where he focused his speech content on the more palatable aspects of his argument, namely that Snefaldia would become a consequential regional power and was eager to join with regional partners to move the world into the 21st and even 22nd century. He left out the parts about the eventual conquest of much of Snefaldia's adjacent continental landmass.

He had been booked into a speaking tour through Tarana-based media mogul and former diplomat Zylván Hossä, where he was generally restricted to speaking at colleges and related educational institutions, discussing the ancient origins of the Snefaldian people and discussing their possible genetic links with the native peoples of places like Laneria and Caldas. It had been pretty quiet until he made some remarks to a local Snefaldian expatriate journalist without realizing he was a dissident. The exchange was published in English quickly afterward:

Reporter: Mr. Mammijan, what do you think about the idea that all of what has been called Vasconia is the ancestral homeland of the Snefaldian people?

Mammijan: It is not an idea, of course, it is historical fact. I should say the Luwite people, though, if using their proper name.

R: Luwite only? Not the Neeri, for instance?

M: Of course not. The Neeri did not originate in the north. And the Bajeong are foreign invaders who arrived in the 15th century. The Luwite people migrated over the Velnar mountains, in waves, and it is now being confirmed through careful examination of evidence that they originated in what is now Laneria and the Caldan Union, as well as some of the smaller, more insignificant nations in the area. They called it Vasconia.

R: It must be a very exciting thing to see, as this evidence appears.

M: Naturally. Discovering where our people originated strikes at the very heart of national pride. It's only a pity there are no Luwite here to reclaim their homeland.

R: Please elaborate.

M: Well, our people were forced away, weren't they? We were forced to leave these lands and create a strong, vibrant nation in what is now Snefaldia. There are no Luwites left to retake their ancestral lands, so it of course will fall to Snefaldia to restore those lands.

R: Do you mean that Snefaldia should conquer those lands?

M: What other way to do it is there? Of course it has to be conquest, that is the way of history. One race doesn't give way voluntarily when another comes calling for their land back. We must do it by force. It's a question of the national future, our identity, of our blood and of our soil. If Snefaldia is to shape the future, with our culture and our system, we cannot do it without expanding our national idea to its natural conclusion, the return of the ancestral homelands of the Snefaldian people, those lands sung of in ancient poems and hymns, back to the embrace of our motherland."

Hossä's media team, with their contacts in the State Security Bureau, realized soon afterward that this had the potential to be inflammatory, especially so soon on the heels of the issue with the journalists, and worked to tamp down the reaction in the dissident Snefaldian press, especially in Laneria and Caldas, but there was little they could do but wait to see what happened. The best they could hope for were a few protestors at his next speech and a few disapproving critiques from the Snefaldia-watchers who inhabited the Twatspace, but only time would tell.
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Postby Excalbia » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:18 pm

Royal Naval College, HCMS Roseway, Roseway, Edina

Among the foreign officers enrolled at the Royal Naval College who were observing Commander Sealy’s exercise were two officers of the Excalbian Imperial Navy - Commander Digne Ozolina and Lieutenant Commander Jacob Karlsons. Ozolina, tall - even by Excalbian standards - with blonde, curly hair wound into a tight bun, was the epitome of an Excalbian naval officer in a crisp white uniform. She had just been promoted to commander before being selected to attend the Caldan naval college and was on the short-list to receive command of a Wraith II class warship as soon she graduated. Karlsons was just about the same height as Ozolina with close cropped black hair and warm sepia toned skin.

“That’s well done,” Karlsons whispered to Ozolina.

The more senior officer nodded. “I’d like to Sealy run the same exercise with some of our Wraiths. I wonder how well the Caldan drones would integrate with DAIN?”

Karlsons nodded. “It’d be interesting to test their strategy against Crimson Stars rather than traditional ship-killer missiles.”

Ozolina stroked her chin and nodded.

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Postby Excalbia » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:50 am

Sunday Roundtable with Gail Hagen, EBS TV, Excalbia

The host of Excalbia’s most prestigious Sunday news-talk program, Gail Hagen, sat to right of an oval, metal table wearing a dark gray suit with a knee-length skirt. To her immediate left sat two male journalists, Erik Paleckis of the Landing Journal, dressed in a brown suit and wearing round wire-rimmed glasses, and Oskar Dagys of the Citadel Daily Post, dressed in a tan suit with a bright red tie. At the far left end of the table sat the Minister of State, Lady Christina Freedman, impeccably coiffed and manicured and dressed in a red suit with a skirt falling just above the knee and square red-framed glasses.

“Finally,” Hagen began, “Lady Christina, before we say good-bye, I’d like to ask you for your opinion on our next segment: Tappaš Mammijan’s assertion that Snefaldia has an inherent right, if you will, to conquer Laneria and the Caldan Union because one of the country’s ethnic communities may have originated there, and Clark Sabutis’ parallel thesis that large tracts of the Excalbian Isles ought to be returned to the Inuits of Patverums.”

Lady Christina crossed her legs and rested her folded hands on the table. “Interesting segment, Gail,” she said with a slight smile. “However, you know that I’ve never been one for esoteric, navel-gazing.”

“So, you consider Mammijan’s and Sabutis’ writings to be navel-gazing?” Paleckis asked, leaning forward with his elbows on the table.

“They do,” Lady Christina began, “involve a certain degree of unreality.” The Minister spread her hands as she spoke. “As a minister of His Imperial Majesty’s Government and a Senator, it is incumbent upon me to deal with reality as it is and to try to make the best of that reality for our people and the peoples of the region. The simple fact is that everyone came from somewhere else; migration has been one of the constants of human civilization. There is simply no practical way, nor reason, to roll back every migration in history to try to relocate everyone back in their ancestors’ place of origin. According to current scientific theory, if taken to its logical conclusion, such an exercise would return all of us to Africa or Epheron.”

“Isn’t there a difference, Lady Christina,” Paleckis persisted, “between ancient migrations of nomadic tribes and more recent colonisation?”

Lady Christina gave the journalist a half smile and placed her hands flat on the table surface. “I’m not sure that I would consider the arrival of the Cavenemi and the Balto-Nordics in the Excalbian Isles over a thousand years ago to be recent. Nor would I consider the arrival of Europeans in Caldas half a millennium ago all that recent.” Her expression grew serious. “The fact is that the Caldan Union exists and is both an ally and a model of Liberal democracy, inclusion and respect for sentient rights. Likewise, Laneria exists, we exist, the Dominion exists, etc. These are the current geopolitical facts.”

“It is also a fact,” Lady Christina continued, “that there is no rational national interest that would drive Snefaldia to invade Laneria, and much less the Caldan Union.” Her smile returned. “And I know Grand Duke Kukilik and many of the citizens of Patverums, unlike Mr. Sabutis I suspect, and I can assure you that they have no ambition to launch a reconquest of the Excalbian Isles.”

“So,” Hagen spoke quickly, as it was time to go to commercial, “is there any real world impact or consequence of these controversies?”

“Well,” Lady Christina smiled, “the Immigration and Naturalisation Act does contain visa ineligibilities for advocating the violent overthrow of the Imperial Government or its allies, so I have instructed the Directorate General of Consular Affairs to review Mr. Mammijan’s visa status. I fear his future speaking engagements here will be quite limited.”

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Postby Snefaldia » Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:56 am

Lady Christina's comments on reviewing Mammijan's visa status were welcome ammunition for the writer and his supporters, who could charitably be described as "fervent" and uncharitably as "rabid." At his next speaking engagement, he had clips ready from the Sunday Roundtable, and put himself out as the wounded party. Clips of his impassioned defense of the freedom of speech and academic liberalism flooded the internet's video websites, and proved popular in Snefaldia and, unusually, among the dissident exiles in other parts of the Western Atlantic.

The most popular one, with over a million views, focused almost entirely on Lady Christina's comments on his visa review: now, I am advocating the violent overthrow of the state. I state a historical fact, and a reality of the historical record, and the technocrats who crow about the freedom of speech in their nation want to deny me a visa. They are always too quick to judge. What did I say in my speeches, in my interviews? Have I said I support the overthrow of the Caldan or the Excalbian governments? Have I called on the Snefaldian state to invade those lands with their armies? Of course I haven't! But I state a historical reality: that blood and soil are intrinsic to the being of the people, and that conflict over those things is natural in the defense and advancement of a nation, and they ride roughshod over my right to speak.

It's a dangerous time, isn't it, when bureaucrats are willing to twist the words of scholars because because what I say is inconvenient. Let's discuss the fate of all the native peoples displaced and murdered when the foreign invaders whose children now rule in, say, Excalbia, Laneria, Caldas, and Leagran. Will I be permitted to discuss those historical injustices or will a call for their justice be the grounds on which my visas are revoked?

Let us be perfectly clear: this is hypocrisy of the highest order, saying "we defend the right to speak" and then turning round to say "but only those things that are acceptable to us are you permitted to say!" If the Minister of State thinks she's going to cow me in staying silent by inventing lies about me calling for the overthrown of the Excalbian state, she needs to think twice."

Soon, the darker corners of the internet began producing memes of Mammijan's face, usually superimposed with the words "Think Twice!" and flooding forums and social media websites. With a new internet army of angry radicals, Mammijan quickly dominated Snefaldia's domestic news cycle, until the censors shifted into gear, alarmed by his views and sudden popularity, and began to work to control the online narrative to prevent it from dominating the news cycle. By day three, he was barely in the top ten of stories and his angry speeches had nearly disappeared from Snefaldia's domestic video sites. Cause for greater concern was the resonance his views had seemed to have with the population, particularly young, educated men from the cities and who had been the biggest drivers of his rocket to the top of the already heavily-censored mediaspace in the country. Government organs said nothing publicly, though. Diplomats were instructed to brush off comments about Mammijan's overseas trip: "he is a private citizen expressing his personal views, Snefaldia has freedom of speech and supports the rule of law, and expects regional partners to act properly and in accordance with relevant regulations, next question."
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Postby Excalbia » Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:52 pm

Press Briefing Room, Ministry of State, Citadel Excalbia

“The Ministry is not in the habit of addressing Internet memes and social media posts by private foreign citizens,” Greg Schiegle, the Ministry's spokesman said flatly as he pointed to another journalist is the crowd.

“Doesn't the denial of Mr. Mammijan's visa constitute suppression of free speech?”

“Based on the last question,” Schiegle began, “he seems to be engaging in plenty of free speech on Faceplace and Twatter.” There was a smattering of laughter as the spokesman folded his hands atop the podium in front of him. “Of course anyone in the Holy Empire, be they citizen or visitor, is guaranteed free speech according to the constitution. However, there is no inherent right for any non-citizen to enter Excalbia. It is a privilege. One governed by the Immigration and Naturalisation Act. Under the Act, there are certain requirements for a visa to enter the country and certain ineligibilities that serve to disqualify one from receiving a visa.”

“It is my understanding that Mr. Mammijan has no currently pending visa application. If he chooses to apply and meets the qualifications with no ineligibilities, he would receive a visa. If he did not qualify or were found to be ineligible, he would not receive a visa. Such is a question of visa law, not free speech.” The spokesman pointed to another reporter. “Next?”

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Prelude to A Family Visit

Postby Excalbia » Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:33 pm

Aboard Excalbia One, Near Caldan Airspace in the Western Atlantic

For the purposes of VIP travel, the Excalbian Imperial Air Force maintained a small fleet of executive jets. This included two 777 wide-body long-range jets that were for the exclusive use of the Emperor, the Crown Prince and the Imperial Chancellor. A small number of 767s and 757s were available for other member of the Imperial Family and members of the Cabinet on official travel. All were painted in blue and gold with the Imperial Crest of the tail and the words “Holy Empire of Excalbia” painted along the side.

One of these 777s was now making its way towards the Caldan Union. Like her sisters, the plane was configured with business class seating in the tail section to accommodate traveling press and junior staff. A galley, several small offices for senior traveling staff and a seating lounge for the security detail occupied the middle section of the plane. The forward section contained a meeting room that doubled as a dining room, an executive office, a sitting room and two bedrooms. A modern communications center and more security spaces were tucked away in lower compartment, in part of the space normally used for baggage and cargo.

As was the custom since the beginning of the Iesian Crisis, the plane - designated Excalbia One because of the Emperor’s presence on board - was being escorted by a flight of Imperial Navy fighters. Upon approach to Caldan airspace, the fighters broke off and, after zooming past the plane and dipping their wings in salute, returned to their mothership several hundreds of kilometers away. As the Excalbian planes broke away, they were replaced by a flight of Royal Caldan Air Force fighters who would escort the visiting emperor the rest of the way to Tarana.

As the plane began its descent into Tarana, a young Imperial Steward knocked on the door to the private sitting room. A voice inside called out, “Come.”

The steward opened the door and bowed deeply. “Your Imperial Majesties,” she said while still bowed, “we are approaching Tarana International Airport.”

“Excellent,” the Emperor said rising to his feet. “I’m ready to stretch my legs a bit.”

The Empress looked over at her husband and smiled. She reached out and pulled on the maroon sweater he was wearing. “It also means that you’ll need to change into some a little more formal for the arrival, dear.”

The Emperor smiled at his wife. “Always a cloud in every silver lining. Turning back to the steward, who had started to blush, the Emperor said, “Thank you, Miss….” He gestured with a his right hand, making a slightly rolling motion.

“Alice Dadzitis,” she said, blushing a deeper shade of red. “I just joined the Imperial Household last year. I have been working at some of the outlying residences...”

The Emperor nodded. “Ah,” he said. “A pleasure to meet you Miss Dadzitis. I hope that you’ll enjoy your service aboard our flying mobile home.” He smiled and nodded. “Thank you.”

“Of course, Your Imperial Majesty.” The young woman deepened her bow slightly and rose, exiting the room and closing the door behind her.

“Most women prefer Ms. these days, David,” Empress Elizabeth said raising from her own seat.

“Yes,” the Emperor said as he began making his way towards the bedroom, “I suppose so.”

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:23 pm

Tarana International Airport
Tarana, Caldan Union

The weather was cool, if not quite freezing, in Tarana and it seemed the rain simply would not let up. It fell steadily on the tarmac as rolling, dark clouds continued to block the light of the sun. Perhaps not the best weather for good press photographs. As Excalbia One landed, the imperial party was greeted by an honour guard of Clearwater Guards, dressed in their dark green dress uniforms, and a Royal Navy Band which played the Excalbian national anthem before beginning their rendition of ‘Caldas the Free’. As small party of prominent dignitaries stood in front of a motorcade consisting of five stately Wallace Town Cars bearing Caldan and Excalbian flags, two dozen uniformed officers of the Royal Caldan Police on motorcycles, an ambulance, two large windowless vans which presumably carrying more heavily armed protection, and a police squad car ahead and behind.

Emperor David IV descended the boarding ramp accompanied by his wife, the Empress Elizabeth. The Emperor and Empress were both tall, as most Excalbians tended to be. He was thinner than his official portraits, all made a half decade ago, and his blonde hair was steadily giving way to white and gray. The wrinkles in his face tended to make him look slightly older than his nearly 60 years, yet his ice blue eyes were clear and lively. The Empress for her part was only just beginning to show some gray in her reddish blonde hair and generally seemed younger than her age.

Having been warned of the weather while still on on approach, the Emperor wore a navy blue raincoat over his gray suit. The Empress wore a bright red raincoat over her pale pink dress. The Imperial couple were followed by a tall, muscled gentleman in the blue uniform of the Imperial Guard bearing the rank of major. A small number of others followed behind the major.

As two Clearwater Guards unrolled the purple carpet, one of the dignitaries, a stocky man with grey hair and thickly corded muscles, stepped forward and bowed to the Emperor and Empress. 'Your Imperial Majesties, I am Prince Samuel, Duke of Huntington. You know, of course, your country's ambassador. Allow me to introduce Timothy Corder, Earl of Invrey and Earl Marshal of the Caldan Union, The Right Honourable Bev Hawke, Lord Mayor of Tarana, and her husband Edmond; The Right Honourable John Clarke, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and his wife Valentine; and Their Royal Highnesses Prince James and Princess Olivia, The Duke and Duchess of Riata.' Each dignitary bowed or curtsied to the princess as they were named. They all cut rather different figures. The Early of Invrey was tall and thin with handsome features. The Lord Mayor was an older, hard-bitten woman and her husband was a stooped old man. Clarke was a proper, comfortable looking man on the well into middle age and his wife was a little younger than he, a tall woman with red curls and freckles . The Duke and Duchess were both older but with light smiles and courtly grace.None of the Caldan party wore umbrellas or special rain gear. The weather was simply endured.

“Your Highness,” the Emperor relied to Prince Samuel with a small bow. “A pleasure to meet you.” The Empress followed suit, then the Imperial couple greeted each of the dignitaries in turn. The Emperor made a point to speak to the mayor. “I look forward to seeing some of your city, My Lady; I’ve heard from Sir Gareth that it’s quite lovely.”

“Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty,” Lord Mayor Hawke said pleasantly. “I believe we have a tour on the itinerary as well as a chance for you to greet ordinary Taranans. There’s a lot of excitement about your visit.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” the Emperor said with a smile.

After greeting the Caldan party, the Emperor turned to his wife. “Your Highnesses, my lords and ladies, allow me to present my wife, the Empress Elizabeth.” The Empress gave a slight bow and the Emperor turned to gesture to the rest of his party. “And allow me present the rest of our party. This is Major Nicolas Adamkus, my Chief Yeoman of the Guard; Lady Jenolyn Tremane, the Lord Steward; and Mr. Alexander Daugavins, my handler from the Ministry of State.” Daugavins raised an eyebrow at his introduction and the Empress gave her husband a subtly cool look, but the Emperor only laughed. “That is to say,” he continued, “the Ministry’s Director of our Office of Caldan Affairs.”

The Caldans bowed once more to the Empress as she was introduced and then inclined their heads politely to each subsequent member of the Emperor’s party. The party was escorted to the cars. The Emperor and Empress, along with the Duke of Huntington, the Duke and Duchess of Riata, the Earl Marshal, and Major Adamkus, climbed into the first car. As they looked out the windows, they saw streets cleared of vehicular traffic and pedestrians, who had been required to pass through security checkpoints on their way here, lining the sides of the road, hoping for a view of the Emperor. While a few neighbouring cities like Warfleet and Concord had skylines visible from the road, Tarana proper was a city of relatively low red brick buildings and broad avenues. Even as they passed rowhouses and shops, the tops of the Gothic Revival structures surrounding St. James's Park were always visible in the distance.

“I’m sorry my wife couldn’t be here today,” Prince Samuel said. “She’s in Pantocratoria with my son.”

“Oh,” the Empress asked, “your wife is Pantocratorian?”

“No, ma’am,” Prince Samuel clarified. “Lucinda’s Kartlian. However, we are looking for a match for our son, Andrew.”

“Ah,” the Empress said with a nod. “I see. I hope it goes well for you.”

“So do I,” Prince Samuel said in a rather unhopeful tone.

As they passed a large, stately church built in the Neo-classical fashion with bright marble facades, Princess Olivia smiled. “That’s St. James Cathedral.It’s probably the oldest proper cathedral in the Caldan Union.”

“Second oldest,” the Earl of Invrey corrected her. “Merotte is a little older.”

“Of course,” she laughed. “I’m sorry.

"It’s a beautiful building,” the Emperor said, “reminds me of the National Ecumenical Cathedral. Although the National Ecumenical Cathedral is only about a century old.”

“I think your tour will include several of the major houses of worship in Tarana,” the Earl of Invrey said. “St. James, of course. St. Edward’s is one of the oldest Caldan Episcopal churches still standing. It was founded when that body still considered itself the ‘real’ Church of England with the Jacobite Wars still fresh on everyone’s mind. There’s St. John the Evangelist, a Church of Excalbia church built as recently as 2005. It’s built a strong congregation as our nations have come to have closer cultural and religious ties. There’s also Holiness Methodist Church and the Old Unitarian Meeting House and then Temple Beth Shalom and then the Tarana Mosque. That’s not an exhaustive list, of course, but it was selected for architectural and historical interest, as well as to give you a sense of the city’s diverse religious life.”

“I look forward to it,” the Emperor said, “particularly to seeing St. John. I wasn’t fully aware how much the Church of Excalbia was growing here. However, it is a good sign of the deep cultural ties that we’ve built between our two countries.”

Prince Samuel nodded thoughtfully. “The Church of Excalbia definitely appeals to some Caldan Protestants for varying reasons, but I think the growth of the church here is largely an result of increased contact in other areas of life. Especially in Narich and Tarana, many Caldans are the children or spouses of Excalbians. Many Caldans went to university in Excalbia and, perhaps, grew comfortable with the church. Many Excalbians live and worship in the Caldan Union.”

“The Tarana Mosque started out as a more extreme example of the same thing, didn’t it?” Princess Olivia asked.

“Hardly the same thing,” the Earl of Invrey explained. “Most Church of Excalbia members in the Caldan Union are Caldan nationals or permanent residents.” He smiled to the Emperor and Empress. “At the time the mosque was built, Tarana’s Muslim population was negligible. However, after the collapse of colonialism in at least some parts of the world, the diplomatic corps had grown much more diverse and there was an embarrassing incident where there was no proper place to hold a funeral for an ambassador who was killed in a tragic accident. The mosque was built shortly thereafter primarily for the use of foreign diplomats, although it’s since developed a more local congregation.”

“We have a similar situation in Excalbia,” the Emperor said. “Although it is rather small, there is a Muslim community. Mostly foreign diplomats and immigrants. Many of them Ajubans, who have the right of abode in Excalbia, and Cyretians.” He gave a knowing smile. “And some Pantocratorian Turks, including my adopted nephew Tariq.” Returning to a more serious expression, he continued, “I’ve tried to conscious of the need to maintain an even hand among all the religious groups in Excalbia. Although the Church of Excalbia is the state religion, we try to honour religious freedom as much as possible. Finding balance with the other Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church, comes rather naturally. Fortunately, our Presiding Bishop has very good personal relationships with the Catholic hierarchy in Excalbia.” He almost seemed to shrug slightly. “When it comes to other religions, we need to be more deliberate about including them in official events. To that end, I try to regularly host the leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities.”

“Her Majesty does the same,” Princess Olivia said, “although it’s become in some ways easier and in some ways harder ever since the settlement of Alekthos, the bombing of Solomon, and later the admission of Alekthos as a province in the Caldan Union. Our population has become more religiously diverse but the religious conflicts that grew out of those events have left a mark.”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Prince James said sadly. “I think there are many things we might have done differently in the time between the Second Ambaran War and the bombing.”

The Emperor nodded. “Yes. There are things I wish I could do differently as well. Yet we can’t dwell on such things, can we? We should learn from them, then move on.”

Meanwhile, the car had moved past the Cathedral and now passed between two towering, Gothic Revival buildings. “The Museum of History and the War Museum,” the Earl said.

They then drove along a paved road into St. James Park itself. Out the windows, they could see green lawns, elegant gardens, and a blue lake with a flock of geese nesting along the shore. The motorcade proceeded to the centre of the park, passing under an arch to a circle where a towering cenotaph, dedicated to the Caldan dead of all wars, stood surrounded by wreaths and flowers. Curved, marble fountains surrounding the circle with four arches, each carved with images of the history of Caldan arms, leading to four paved roads, dividing the park neatly into quadrants. Prince James directed the Emperor and Empress’s attention eastward, “There you’ll see Parliament House, flanked by Kilburn House, the Prime Minister’s official residence, and the Gordon Building, which is essentially the headquarters of the whole civil service.” However, the vehicles traveled west, along the Royal Mall. Onlookers were crowded alongside now, growing denser as they approached the gates of the palace. They kept clear of the mall itself with the perimeter maintained by security ropes and posted Clearwater Guards armed with C11 assault rifles. However, they snapped pictures and leaned closer to get a better look. “We could roll down the window if you’d like, sir?” Prince James suggested.

“Certainly,” the Empress said, answering for her husband. “Let’s put them down.” As the windows lowered, she and the Emperor began to wave to the gathered crowds.

As the windows rolled down, they could hear the roar of the crowd. It was hard to make anything out. People of all ages were excited to see the Emperor and Empress of Excalbia in person. There were more women than men by a substantial, but not overwhelming, margin. The young and the old were both overrepresented and most of those in between seemed to be accompanying children too young to come on their own.

Both the Emperor and Empress began to wave to the crowds. “Thank you,” the Empress shouted to the crowds. “Thank you.”

St. James Palace was a towering, Gothic Revival structure which dominated one end of the park. More Clearwater Guards stood at the gate, opening it for the imperial party and securing it behind them. The cars approached what seemed to at first glance to be a typical porte-cochere, arches designating a space for formal arrivals to let out. However, on closer inspection, it became apparent that ballistic glass filled the space under the arches, allowing exits and entrances to be shielded from the cold in the winter months and to provide a little extra security all year long. As each car pulled into the small glass enclosure, footmen in green and gold livery opened the door and escorted the occupants into the palace. The entrance hall had walls of polished white marble around the doors and corners with the rest paneled in Caldan cedar. The footman turned to the right, other footmen opening the double-doors to the Audience Chamber, an enormous room with tall, arched windows between rectangular pilasters topped with gilt, acanthused capitals. The chamber was lit by a great crystal chandelier and held no furniture but the great throne at the far end. Courtiers stood to either side and behind the throne and to the left stood an elderly man in the tan uniform of the Royal Caldan Army marked with a gold braided cord and a stylised G on the shoulder-straps, alongside other medals. His left shirtsleeve was empty and pinned to the shoulder. To the other side stood the Prince Consort. The Queen herself sat on the throne. She was only a few years past thirty but there was a maturity to her face, one born of great loss and heavy responsibilities.. Gwendolyn was dressed as she usually was at court in a simple but elegant white gown with matching gloves and a red cloak lined with ermine. Her blonde hair was done up in an elaborate coiffure and her bright blue eyes focused on the Emperor and Empress. She rose for her fellow sovereign and then curtseyed deeply as was only done these days for the Emperors of Excalbia and Pantocratoria. Still, she smiled brightly as she strode towards the Emperor and extended her hands, “Uncle! Welcome to Tarana!”

Emperor David IV and Empress Elizabeth entered the Chamber with Major Adamkus, Lady Jenolyn, and Mr. Daugavins following a short distance behind. The Emperor, dressed in a well-tailored gray suit with a pale yellow shirt and bright blue tie - his raincoat left it the car, bowed to the Queen. Beside him, the Empress, her coat similarly discarded and dressed in a simple but elegant pale pink dress, curtseyed in what Excalbians called “the Pantocratorian fashion”. The rest of the Excalbian party all bowed deeply.

The Emperor walked toward Queen Gwendolyn and extended his hands, taking hers in his. “Thank you, my dear,” he smiled. “It’s a pleasure to be here.”

Elizabeth followed close behind her husband. “My dear,” she said, “it is so wonderful to see you again.”

Gwendolyn took the Emperor’s hands and then the Empress’s. “It’s our pleasure, of course. We have the State Dinner tonight but I imagine you want some time to rest and settle in after your flight?”

Peter followed behind Gwendolyn. Before his uncle could speak, he extended his hand. “Welcome, uncle. It’s good to see you.” David smiled and gave his nephew’s hand a hearty shake.

“It’s good to see you, Peter,” David said. “Good indeed.”

Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her nephew. “Peter,”she said.

Peter smiled and returned his aunt’s hug. “Welcome to Tarana, Aunt Elizabeth.”

David turned back to Gwendolyn. “Yes, of course, thank you,” he said. “It would be nice to settle in.” He looked over his shoulder. “Permit me to introduce the rest of our party. I believe you remember Major Adamkus and Lady Jenolyn.” The major bowed deeply and Lady Jenolyn curtseyed. “And this is Mr. Alexander Daugavins from our Ministry of State.”

Daugavins bowed deeply. “Your Majesty,” he said.

“Peter, Gwendolyn,” Elizabeth said, “perhaps after we’ve settled in and before the State Dinner, perhaps we could see Charles and Helena?”

“Certainly,” Gwendolyn said. “They’ve been very excited about your visit.”

“Good. And we’re excited to see them,” David said. “We’ve brought presents, of course.”

Peter smiled. “There’s no need for that. They have everything already!”

“But not what we have for them.”

The Emperor’s eyes twinkled and Peter could scarcely remember seeing his Uncle David quite so happy.

Thasus Hall
Caer Gawen, Tasat

Lise Charest sat next to Prince Annibale, a small smile on her face. She was dressed in a long black sleeveless dress split up mid-thigh. Her night black hair spilled down over her shoulders and her full lips were smiling faintly. She glanced to Annibale and smiled faintly, drumming her fingers on the arm of her chair. ‘Do you ever go to these back home?’ she asked.

‘Sometimes,’ said Annibale, smiling. He noticed her fingers tapping and casually ran his hand along Lise’s leg. ‘I was at the Elvelyn & za Vyttsà pre-Fall MMMDCCXCIX show in Neuvenârta,’ he said, although he omitted the fact he had been with a girl on a date. ‘They’re really big events in Xirnium.’

Lise glanced down, slightly surprised, as Annibale ran his hand along the exposed flesh of her leg. She lowered her hand down to let the tips of her fingers briefly brush along the back of his hand. ‘I can imagine. Medusa has an eye on Xirnium this year. I wonder how familiar some of these outfits will be for you?’

‘I think Caldan fashion and culture has really made progress in Xirnium in recent years,’ Annibale said. ‘People see Eugene Henrie and Selena Harden, and what they’re wearing, in the latest episodes of “Waiting for Gorgo” and they’re incredibly popular.’ Annibale smiled. People were always curious about how they were seen from afar.

Lise laughed gently. ‘And here all of these designers are copying Xirniumite fashion. I don’t know if you realise what a prestige culture you are in terms of fashion and really everything people call high art. Or maybe that’s why you go looking for something like “Waiting for Gorgo”. It lets everyone know you’re sophisticated enough to appreciate the references to French existentialist tragicomedy and irreverent enough to enjoy seeing it absurdly juxtaposed with a cheesy American take on Japanese kaiju from a generation later.” She smiles lightly. “That and they think Selena Harden’s cute.”

‘That’s an interesting take,’ Annibale admitted, thoughtful for a moment. ‘See, that wouldn’t have been my first thought. I would have assumed that it was the Board of Censors assuming the paternal mandate of public education. They wouldn’t want us consuming dross. Also, because Selena’s pretty cute.’

‘Dross?’ Lise asked. ‘Like the fairy money in Queen of Dreams?’

Annibale looked a bit embarrassed. ‘English isn't my first language,’ he reminded her.

‘I just didn’t know what you meant,’ Lise said apologetically, running her fingers over the hand which rested on her leg. She smiled at him. Later, they would look up the word and found Annibale had been largely right and that the use of the term for fairy money derived from old folktales where it had become worthless the next day. Only for a generation of Caldans raised on whimsical tales of the fairy Queen Agwene, Irving Featherston’s tribute to the real-life Elaine, was it first and foremost the currency of the fairies. For now, though, Lise simply smiled at her own fairy tale prince as the music came on, the lights went down, and Janice Dobkin began her proud, graceful stride down the runway.
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:17 pm

St. James Palace, Tarana

“Lovely isn’t it, David?” Empress Elizabeth stood in the center of the guest suite’s sitting room admiring the decor.

“Yes, I suppose.” The Emperor replied as he sat on an elegant sofa stuffing wrapped boxes into several large bags.

Elizabeth shook her head. “You didn’t even look.”

“What?” The Emperor looked up. “Oh, yes, of course. The Caldans have wonderful taste. It’s lovely.”

The Empress walked over and sat beside her husband, resting an arm across his shoulder. “Don’t you think you’re overdoing it a bit with the gifts, David?”

The Emperor looked up. “Now, Elizabeth…”

“It’s alright, David,” she said softly, “it’s just that you know Peter and Gwendolyn are just happy to have us visit. We don’t need to go overboard.”

“It’s just a few things, dear.” The Emperor smiled. “You know how Peter enjoys baseball. He’ll appreciate these things for the children.”

“Hmmm.” Elizabeth gave a sly smile. “Are they gifts for the children or for Peter?”

David finished with his task, then stood and walked over towards a mirror. He slightly adjusted the casual sports coat he was wearing, his expression pensive.

“What is it, David?” Elizabeth asked as she rose and joined her husband.

“Do you think… I did right by Peter? I mean, he was already a young man when his parents died. And he was so rebellious.” David turned to his wife. “I worry that I was too strict. Too aloof…”

Elizabeth put her arms around her husband from behind. “We all did the best we could, David. You treated Peter no differently than Joseph when he was with us. When he was with Christiana… well, she was never much of a disciplinarian.”

“I’m quite proud of him, you know.” The Emperor said, patting his wife’s hands as the rested on his chest.

“Then, tell him, David.”

“I shall.”

There was a gentle knock at the door. “Please come in,” the Empress said, taking her arms from around her husband.

Alice Dadzitis opened the door and bowed. “Your Imperial Majesties,” she said, “one of the palace staff is here to see you to Her Royal Majesty’s apartment, if you are both ready.”

“Of course,” the Emperor said. He turned and walked over to the safe and picked up the bags. He turned to the Empress. “Shall we, my dear?”

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:09 pm

St. James Palace, Tarana

“Lovely isn’t it, David?” Empress Elizabeth stood in the center of the guest suite’s sitting room admiring the decor.

“Yes, I suppose.” The Emperor replied as he sat on an elegant sofa stuffing wrapped boxes into several large bags.

Elizabeth shook her head. “You didn’t even look.”

“What?” The Emperor looked up. “Oh, yes, of course. The Caldans have wonderful taste. It’s lovely.”

The Empress walked over and sat beside her husband, resting an arm across his shoulder. “Don’t you think you’re overdoing it a bit with the gifts, David?”

The Emperor looked up. “Now, Elizabeth…”

“It’s alright, David,” she said softly, “it’s just that you know Peter and Gwendolyn are just happy to have us visit. We don’t need to go overboard.”

“It’s just a few things, dear.” The Emperor smiled. “You know how Peter enjoys baseball. He’ll appreciate these things for the children.”

“Hmmm.” Elizabeth gave a sly smile. “Are they gifts for the children or for Peter?”

David finished with his task, then stood and walked over towards a mirror. He slightly adjusted the casual sports coat he was wearing, his expression pensive.

“What is it, David?” Elizabeth asked as she rose and joined her husband.

“Do you think… I did right by Peter? I mean, he was already a young man when his parents died. And he was so rebellious.” David turned to his wife. “I worry that I was too strict. Too aloof…”

Elizabeth put her arms around her husband from behind. “We all did the best we could, David. You treated Peter no differently than Joseph when he was with us. When he was with Christiana… well, she was never much of a disciplinarian.”

“I’m quite proud of him, you know.” The Emperor said, patting his wife’s hands as the rested on his chest.

“Then, tell him, David.”

“I shall.”

There was a gentle knock at the door. “Please come in,” the Empress said, taking her arms from around her husband.

Alice Dadzitis opened the door and bowed. “Your Imperial Majesties,” she said, “one of the palace staff is here to see you to Her Royal Majesty’s apartment, if you are both ready.”

“Of course,” the Emperor said. He turned and walked over to the safe and picked up the bags. He turned to the Empress. “Shall we, my dear?”

Royal Nursery, St. Andrew’s Palace
Tarana, Caldan Union

Prince Charles was fidgeting as he always did when he was dressed up for company, looking sullenly up at his parents and around the room as if bored. He wasn’t old enough yet to really understand or care about the formalities, although he was aware of what was expected of him. He gave a little, childish bow as the Emperor and Empress of Excalbia entered. “Your Imperial Majesties,” he said.

Princess Helena, of course, was too young for such things. She nestled in her mother’s arms but she turned her head and reached her hand out when she saw new people had entered the room.

The Emperor and Empress entered the nursery and smiled. The Emperor had changed from his suit to a pair of khakis and a casual sports coat; the Empress remained in her pale pink dress. In his hands, the Emperor carried several bags stuffed with wrapped presents.

“Your Highness,” the Emperor said to Charles, bowing deeply. He set the bags down and crouched down. “Hello, Charles,” David said with a smile. “Do you know who I am? I’m your father’s uncle David. And your uncle,too.” He looked over his shoulder at his wife, who joined him in a crouch. “And this is your father’s aunt, Elizabeth. Your aunt, too.”

“You’re the Emperor,” Charles said, clearly feeling proud of himself for remembering. Then he frowned a little as David gave a different answer. He looked at Elizabeth. “How are you my aunt if you’re not mama’s sister? I thought that’s what aunts are.” He furrows his brow.

The Emperor chuckled, and the Empress smiled and touched Charles’ cheek. “No, I’m not your mother’s sister. My husband is the brother of your father’s father. That makes me your aunt.” She dropped her hand. “My aren’t you becoming a handsome young man. And smart, too.” She stood and walked over to Gwendolyn. She looked down at Helena. “My goodness, isn’t she precious.” She looked up at Caldan Queen. “May I?”

“Of course,” Gwendolyn said as she gently handed Helena to Elizabeth. Helena cooed slightly and nestled into Elizabeth’s arms.

“Hello, precious girl,” Elizabeth said softly.

Meanwhile, the Emperor picked up his bags and walked over to Gwendolyn. “Hello again, my dear,” he said smiling. “You look happy; I think motherhood agrees with you!”

He paused next to his wife to admire Helena, then continued onto Peter. Setting the bags down, he patted his nephew on the back. “It really is good to see again, Peter.”

“And you, Uncle,” Peter said smiling. He looked down at the bags. “A few gifts? It looks like Christmas.”

David laughed. “Maybe so. Maybe so.” He turned to Gwendolyn. “Should we proceed with the presents?”

“Of course,” Gwendolyn said and the family moved over to sit.

David retrieved his bags and took a seat next to his wife. He reached into the first bag and pulled out two boxes - one small and one medium - and a tube. “These are for Charles,” he looked towards the young prince, holding the boxes out for his little hands.

Charles grinned and reaches for the boxes, practically tearing them open in his excitement. “What is it?” he asked of the first box, even as he was already opening it.

“The small one is a baseball,” David said, winking at Peter. “The second is a glove and third is a bat.” He looked at Gwendolyn. “A soft bat, suitable for a little player.” He looked back at Charles. “I thought your father might want to teach you how to play.”

“I thought bats were flat?” asked Charles who had only seen cricket bats before. Then he looked up at Peter. “This is what you and Mama were talking about before!”

Peter beamed. “That’s wonderful. Thank you, Uncle.” Then, to his son he added, “Yes, Andy, baseball.”

David smiled and pulled another box out of the bag. “I’m not done, yet.” He handed the box to Charles. “This is for you, too, although your father will appreciate it, too.” He leaned towards Peter. “It’s a little Knights uniform.” He pulled out more boxes and handed them to Gwendolyn. “A few outfits for Helena. I confess that at least one is a little Citadel Knights sleeper.”

Charles opened the box with the uniform as well. “Wow! “ he exclaimed. “I’ll be like a star!”

Gwendolyn laughed lightly at that as she took the boxes. “They have quite the supporter in you!”

“We also have some books,” Elizabeth said, digging into the bag herself. “Some of our children’s favorites from their childhood.” She handed them to Gwendolyn. The one on top featured dogs in cars.

Gwendolyn set the boxes aside for a moment to take the books. “These look lovely! Thank you!”

David reached into the bag once more and pulled out two more small boxes. He handed one to Gwendolyn and one to Peter. “These are only photos of the actual presents. The presents themselves were too big for my bag.” The box he handed Gwendolyn contained a photo of an oil painting of Gwendolyn, Peter, Charles and Helena. “That was done by Tenis Gosvald, one of the most acclaimed artists in Excalbia. We had to have him work from photos,” David shrugged, “we didn’t want to spoil the surprise. The crated original should be being delivered now.” Peter’s box contained the photo of a Citadel Knights baseball jersey. “That was the jersey worn by Max Straspils in game seven of the ‘16 Series. It’s signed by the entire team. The actual framed jersey is being delivered with the painting.”

Peter looked from the box up to his uncle. “Thank you. This is wonderful.”

Gwendolyn smiled brightly as she looked at the photograph of the oil painting. “This looks amazing. Mr. Gosvald has certainly earned his reputation.”

Elizabeth smiled. “And now,” she said, “we have some news. The family is about to get some new members.”

“Oh?” Gwendolyn asked.

Elizabeth nodded. “Rebecca and Andrik are expecting. Twins.”

“Grandparents again,” Peter said. “Congratulations. Give our best to Rebecca!”

“That’s wonderful!” Gwendolyn said. “Congratulations!”

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:40 pm

Solomon Residence
Waunsiarl, Tasat

Lady Lianne Solomon crossed her arms as she entered the living room where her husband, The Right Honourable Isaac Solomon PC MP and Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition lay sprawled sloppily across her century old Chesterfield sofa with his feet resting on the arm, flipping through a some papers. He seemed unaware of her presence until she coughed slightly. 'Shouldn't we be catching the train? You have a State Dinner with the Emperor of Excalbia in Tarana tonight.'

'Yes, yes, I have a flight scheduled,' he said dismissively. 'I don't need to be at the airport for another hour. That'll still leave me two hours to change and head for the palace.'

'We're flying from Waunsiarl to Tarana?' she asked. 'Isn't that a bit excessive?'

'They make the flight every day, darling. I didn't charter a plane,' he said a bit archly, but then he smiled at her and lifted his feet, sitting upright. 'I'm sorry. I'm being terribly inconsiderate. I just keep reading about this Mammijan who's been making all of the inflammatory remarks. The Snefaldians are from Vasconia, destined to one day reconquer it. Jibberish like that. The Excalbians have banned him.'

'Yes, I read about it,' Lianne said. 'I'd expected you to say something. You did address those Snefaldian expatriates during the whole scandal with the journalists.'

'Well, yes, and I worry Snefaldia might be a greater threat than Daytanistan in the long-run. We need peace but we also need to be firmer about our interests. The Snefaldians backed off because they think Foster's their girl and if they wreck her image too bad they won't have her anymore,' he said thoughtfully. 'Not saying she is, mind. At least not in public. But, still, the National Party isn't going to adopt platform denial as a tactic just yet. I think the smarter move is to let him speak in Caldas and let more compelling voices than mine protest him.We can turn this around, embarrass all the leftist enablers and appeasers making excuses for him.'

'Who do you mean?' she asked.

Isaac smirked just slightly. 'Oh, you'll see. Now let's catch that plane, shall we?'

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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Sun May 20, 2018 11:21 pm

Ballroom, St. Andrew’s Palace
Tarana, Caldan Union

The Ballroom was large enough to hold a few hundred guests. It was decorated in cream and gold with red curtains behind the head table bearing the royal arms. The head table had been arranged with four seats facing the hall and set for the imperial and royal couples, with other tables arranged in two long rows to either side of the hall, all covered in pristine white table cloths and set with silver-gilt plate. The guest list was quite extensive and included most of the Caldan Cabinet and Royal Family, the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Liberal Party, several prominent Peers, religious leaders, cultural figures from both countries, and military officers.

Among the Excalbian guests were Sir Tenis and Lady Mara Gosvald, two of Excalbia’s most well known contemporary artists. Sir Tenis, mostly known for his stained glass, had recently completed a commissioned portrait of the Caldan Royal Family. Even among Excalbians Sir Tenis stood out as a very tall and broad shouldered man, with a broad forehead and a disarming smile. His wife known for her works in hand-made paper was, by contrast, quite petite. Ilze Priedite was considered one of the leading historians of Excalbian antiquity and was accompanied by her husband, George Smelters. Priedite happened to be touring the Caldan Union promoting her newest book, Three Cultures at the Point of Contact. Rounding out the Excalbian literati was Imants Merca, a highly regarded poet, who had just taken up part-time residence in the Caldan Union.

Perhaps the most recognizable Excalbian names to the Caldan attendees were Christian Zemitis, a young, well-regarded actor who had won several awards for his work in independent films, and his actress girlfriend, Lilita Vegere, who was best known for donning the form-fitting armour of UltraWoman in a series of summer blockbuster films. Both were in the Caldan Union promoting upcoming films - Zemitis’ A Touch of Hope and Vegere’s Wrath of UltraWoman. Competing with Zemitis and Vegere in popular recognition was Baiba Avotina, a well-known Excalbian pop music sensation known for her ballads. Currently on tour in the Caldan Union and Laneria, her style, known as “traditional” in Excalbia would be considered “Western” in the Caldan Union and country to her Lanerian fans.

The artists who would perform ‘Welcome to Caldas’ for the Emperor the next night and who had made a huge impact with the Welcome to Caldas Tour were present. Dame Emma Holt, the songwriter and first to perform the song,, was in attendance with her boyfriend, Jack Gore. The pop sensation Lise Charest, perhaps best known for the attack launched by Action Nationale militants on her concert a few years ago, was escorted in on the arms of Prince Annibale Neujnôry of Xirnium. The two had already been featured in the Caldan tabloids. Cora Thompson, known professionally as CoraT, was accompanied by one Bashir Mahajne, a wealthy entrepreneur who owned a controlling interest in Northern Petroleum, a chain of gas bars. Nayla Gemayel was accompanied by footballer Bartle Cavagnari. Bart Pelt was escorted by the landscape architect Ben Basevi. Edward Morris brought fashion model Maria Roper.

Admiral Sir Benjamin Turner who had commanded the “Greens” during the recent war games, sat with his wife Victoria, his aide Lieutenant Commander James Wayne, and the same Commander Robyn Sealy whose performance in the war games had been of particular note. General Jack Loeb and his wife Elizabeth was there for the Royal Caldan Army and General Carmine Mooney, with wife Renee, was there for the air force.

Gwendolyn smiled almost apologetically as she sat down next to David. ‘Unfortunately, our protocol doesn’t make for as easy conversation as in Citadel Excalbia. We’ll have a chance to make the rounds after the meal.’

“No need for apologies,” David smiled. “I appreciate the opportunity to sit and eat for a change before making the circuit.”

The Queen laughed. “It can be nice, although every eye is still on you.”

“That is true,” the Emperor agreed. “I’ll confess that I say a little prayer before these things that I don’t spill something all over myself.”

“If we were Pantocratorian, every meal would be like this,” she commented wryly.

The Emperor smiled. “Indeed. Formality elevated to an art…”

Charest placed her hand gently on top of Prince Annibale’s and smiled at Priedite. “I’ve started your book,” she mentioned curiously. “It’s an interesting prism for Excalbian tradition.”

“Thank you,” Priedite said with a modest nod of the head. “So often history is written from only the perspective of the triumphant. I think it is important to show that history was, as current events are today, the result of the interplay between cultures and the synthesis of ideas.” The academic smiled politely. “Have you gotten to my discussion of how Inuit animism informed the Balto-Nordic concept of the sacred fire?”

“I’ve gotten to it,” Charest said. “I’m not sure I understand it.”

“Ah,” Priedite said, “it is a nuanced argument. Essentially, although the Balto-Nordics brought the veneration of the sacred fire with them from their ancestral homelands, it was always understood as an impersonal force, if you will. After encountering the Inuits, the sacred fire changed for the Excalbian Highlanders and became a living thing, something personal and active.” Her voice rose slightly as she began to enthusiastically discuss her ideas. “And here you see the interplay of the two with the Catholic Cavenemi. As the Highlanders tried to hold off the advance of Catholicism, more for political than religious reasons, the sacred fire became even more of a living embodiment of the Divine, almost their counter to the Catholic incarnation of Christ as the Word made flesh.” She gestured with one hand even as the other reached for a glass of wine. “The influence, of course, went both ways as Catholics in Excalbian began to emphasize the idea of the Word made flesh as the embodiment of Light and the source of Life. Such emphases remain, even in the Church of Excalbia.”

“Are those really distinctly Catholic and Protestant concepts?” Charest asked thoughtfully. “I thought the idea of the Holy Spirit and the incarnation were general Christian doctrine?” By her tone, she was genuinely curious, trying to understand the rather elaborate explanation.

“Well,” Priedite began, sounding vaguely like the academic she was, “that is true. However, different groups, both denominational and regional, apply different emphases and expressions to the general concepts. For those Highlanders who converted before the Church of Excalbia and those Lowland Catholics influenced by the Highlanders, the emphasis on the Incarnation as the embodiment of Light in a Dark World is very notable and very reminiscent of Highlander language surrounding the sacred fire.”

Annibale smiled at the two women and listened thoughtfully, exhibiting none of the usual male proclivity to dominate the conversation or explain a topic about which he knew nothing. At an appropriate ebb in the conversation, he without apparent embarrassment asked the name of the book and wrote its title on the back (English side) of his business card to buy later.

“I never ask someone to lend me a book,” he said, laughing. “Lending a book is like an incitement to theft.”

Charest laughed and placed a hand on his. “But also a chance to share something.” She smiled warmly.

Avotina turned to Dame Emma. “I have to say how much I admired Welcome to Caldas. It was an amazing song,” she gushed. “And the impact was tremendous.”

Dame Emma smiled warmly, although a blush lightly coloured her cheeks. “Thank you. I’m still a bit taken aback by it myself. I just had something I needed to say after the disruption at one of my concerts and all of a sudden it’s iconic.”

“The right word at the right time can make all the difference in the world,” Majajne interjected.

“Yes, certainly,” Avotina agreed, nodding. “Your words made a huge difference, I know, and their reverberations are being felt all over the region, even in Excalbia.”

“I’m honoured,” Dame Emma said. “Perhaps i might perform in Excalbia sometime soon.”

“That would be wonderful! I could connect you with some promoters in the Excalbian Isles,” Avotina said. “They book for venues in Upper Virginia and the C.S.S., in addition to Excalbia. That is, if you’d be interested in touring all three countries.”

“I certainly would,” Dame Emma answered brightly.

Dinner opened with Black Lake Goldeye, Northern pike, and Western wild mushroom rillette served with Tetch apple prairie grain croquette, Sialan mustard seed, and colza oil emulsion. It was followed by Mullensian red deer loin roasted with St. Andrew’s herb garden chai, Saint-Pierre cranberry and squash pot pie, maple-braised Salsify bundle, root vegetables with Alguenyan pembina and Knightley Falls Cabernet Sauvignon reduction. This was followed by greens with an apricot and golden plum vinaigrette. Desert was tartlet of screech with rum-soaked pear confit and blackberry cobbler. Kosher, halal, and vegan alternatives were served to those guests who had indicated such a preference.

“What a wonderful and refined meal,” Lilita Vegere said softly to whomever might be listening, hoping to impress someone with her good taste. Her companion, Christian Zemitis, smiled and nodded, preoccupied with finishing his dessert.

“Honestly, it’s the best part of dining at the palace,” Sir Benjamin said. “The food is always exquisite and always different.”

Meanwhile, Sir Tenis turned to his wife, Lady Mara. “I hope we’ll have the chance to speak with the Queen; I hope she liked the portrait.”

“I’m sure she did,” Mara said reassuringly.

Avotina wiped her mouth and reached down for the small clutch purse next to her chair. She retrieved a card and handed it to Dame Emma. “Before I forget,” she said cheerily, “here’s my number. Call me and I’ll connect you with some promoters.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll take the Isles by storm!”

Dame Emma grinned. “Thank you! I’m looking forward to seeing the Isles.”
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:08 pm

OOC: Joint post with The Resurgent Dream.

St. Andrew’s Palace, Tarana, Caldan Union

After dinner, the Queen escorted the Emperor into an adjoining parlour followed by their spouses and then the rest of the guests. The paintings adoring the green walls were a diverse collection, some clearly as old as the palace itself and others the best in contemporary Caldan art. “The artwork in here changes regularly,” Gwendolyn noted. “Most of the pieces come from the Royal Gallery but some are on loan from various museums and private collectors. We can look at it in more detail if you’d like.” She led him to a place just to the right of the fireplace, with Peter and Elizabeth to the left, and turned towards the guests. “In any event, The conversation should be much livelier here,” she commented cheerfully.

“Lovely,” Empress Elizabeth commented as she passed one of the paintings.

The Emperor nodded. “Sir Tenis’ portrait should fit in quite well here,” he smiled, then gave his wife’s had a quick, subtle squeeze before they took their positions flanking the fireplace.

The first to approach were Dame Emma and Mr. Gore. Dame Emma was a strikingly tall woman who, in her heels, towered a least a forehead over her companion. Her golden hair was worn up and her blue eyes seemed to sparkle as she curtsied to the two sovereigns. Gore’s bow was rather more awkward and it was Emma who spoke, “I’m so honoured to have been invited to perform for Your Majesties.”

The Emperor bowed slightly. “I look forward to your performance, Dame Emma; I’ve heard rave reviews of your performance of ’Welcome to Caldas’ and I am quite anxious to hear it live.” He folded his arms behind his back. “Perhaps you will honour us with a tour of Excalbia in the near future.”

“I would love that, sir,” she said enthusiastically. “I honestly had no idea it would take off the way it has. After that protest got out of hand a few years ago, I just wanted to do something positive with it, mostly for my fans and my critics. I didn’t expect it to get so far beyond my usual demographic.”

Gwendolyn nodded, inclining her head to the young couple. “I remember that protest. Far leftist thought there was something inherently privileged, even bigoted in your work. It came only shortly after Pantocratoria fa…” Gwendolyn paused and glanced thoughtfully into the middle distance for just a moment before she looked back to the singer. “After the Pantocratorian protest against Miss Chaest and Mademoiselle de la Musique also turned violent. It’s an unpleasant trend. Surely young people should be able to come together to enjoy music without things taking such a turn?”

David frowned slightly. “I’m afraid that the details of… this incident escape my memory.” He paused for a moment, then added. “Of course, everyone should be able to come together and enjoy music without violence of any sort.” He shook his head slightly. “One of my greatest concerns is the loss of civility in some parts of society.”

“I can have you provided with the information,” Gwendolyn said, perhaps a little evasively. Now that Accion-National had ministers in the Pantocratorian Cabinet, they had become a more delicate subject. She turned back to Emma. “We’re looking forward to hearing you tomorrow night, Dame Emma.”

“Thank you, ma’am, sir,” Emma said with another curtsey.

“It was an honour to meet Your Majesties,” Gore said with a bow, although he had barely spoken. Both then made their way to the Empress and the Prince Consort and Admiral Sir Benjamin Turner, with Lady Victoria, approached the two sovereigns. It was clear no formal precedence was enforced in this after dinner gathering and those not approaching the royal and imperial couples seemed to be comfortably chatting and mingling amongst themselves.

The admiral bowed and his wife curtsied. “Your Majesties,” they said almost in unison.

“Thank you for coming,” Gwendolyn said, inclinging her head once more. “I’ve been told of your recent victory, Admiral. Congratulations.”

David bowed slightly. “A pleasure to meet you both. A victory? I should like to hear the tale, Admiral.”

“Oh, simply a war game, sir,” Sir Benjamin said dismissively, “and I did no more than put into practise the lessons of the Iesian War.”

“My husband is too modest, sir,” Lady Victoria noted to the emperor, her aged face lit up by a proud smile. “We’re all quite proud of him.”

“Ah,” the Emperor replied. “And what lessons are those?” David gave a slight smile. “I was once a naval officer myself, Admiral, so I’d be quite interested in hearing which lessons you managed to glean from the Iesian War and how you have applied them.”

“That the aircraft carrier, for all her virtues supporting forces on land, is far too vulnerable a concentration of tonnage and firepower in a conflict with another modern, blue water navy, to be relied upon as heavily as she has in most of our post World War II doctrine. The new doctrines we’ve been developing place greater focus on distributed firepower in guided missile frigates and corvettes operating under radio silence and with our best stealth technology, soon to be augmented by the next generation of submarine warfare,” Sir Benjamin said. “Of course, the requirements of radio silence also limit the use of centralised strategic and tactical computer systems like your DAIN. It’s a doctrine that requires reliance on the discretion of relatively junior ship captains, but I am confident in my people and that confidence was vindicated, at least in the war games.”

“Interesting, Admiral,” David nodded slowly, “we recently hosted the Anahuacan Defence Minister, along with their Head of State, and I understand that he similarly advocated for the use of smaller, more agile platforms over the traditional reliance on carriers.” The Emperor gave a slight smile. “Of course, our Wraiths seem to have anticipated this development with their stealth features and extravagant number of missile tubes. I understand from our Admiralty that they’re rather anxious to test out our new canister-launched missile pods and their AI-guided missiles. Not to mention the Crimson Stars that have incorporated into some of the Wraiths.”

“I would like that,” Sir Benjamin said. “It can only help to have a tactical understanding with one’s close allies, sir.”

David nodded slightly to Lady Victoria. “I apologize, My Lady, for turning this into a symposium on naval tactics and hardware.” He looked back to Sir Benjamin. “However, you should definitely discuss this with our Admiralty. In particular, Admiral Alsgood. I suspect you might enjoy picking each other’s brains, if you haven’t already had the opportunity.”

“It’s quite all right,” Lady Victoria said with an indulgent smile. “I’m used to it. Actually, you might ask Commander Sealy about it. She truly proved the concept in the war games.” She glanced back towards the youngish commander. “In my day, they didn’t let women in the navy.”

“They did so. In…” began Sir Benjamin.

“Not in command of warships,” Lady Victoria clarified and her husband did not further contest the point.

“I look forward to meeting Commander Sealy, then, Madame. And you are quite correct that times have changed for women in the military.” David smiled and lowered his voice, as if sharing a secret. “I don’t know how closely you follow Excalbian politics, but one of our senior officers of the General Staff is retiring to pursue politics and, to make a long story short, after the resulting promotions and other retirements, I am about to name General Rachel Gertrude, who led our troops in battle during the Iesian War, as Chief of Staff of the Imperial Army.”

Victoria grinned. “That is a historic appointment, sir!”

“Congratulations to General Gertrude,” Benjamin said. “I remember her from the war. She’s a fine officer. I look forward to working with her.”

“Yes,” David agreed, “she is an outstanding officer. She developed a real connection with her soldiers. And she was relentless.” He turned slightly to Lady Victoria. “And it is an historic appointment.” Looking back to Sir Benjamin, he continued, “I am sure that once she’s in place, she will be making the circuit to meet the senior officers of among our allies.”

“I look forward to it,” he said.

“It was lovely to meet you, sir,” Lady Victoria said and then both took their leave, going to speak to Elizabeth and Peter.

It was indeed Commander Robyn Sealy who approached next. She was a tall, athletic woman in full dress and her intent green eyes were almost startling against her mahogany complexion and features reflecting African or Epheronian origins. She spoke in the soft accents of Dana after she curtsied. “Thank you for having me here, Your Majesties.”

“Good evening,” David said giving a slight bow. “You must be the famous Commander Sealy. The slayer of aircraft carriers.” He smiled. “I’ve heard many good things about you, Commander.”

“Aircraft carries that only existed as data in a computer system, sir,” Sealy insisted modestly.

“When I was active duty,” David said with a bit of pleasant chuckle, “I generally found that a military fights the way it trains.” Lowering his voice again, he continued, “And I’ve always found that most admirals are quite… shall we say protective of their aircraft carriers in such exercises - rumour is that an admiral in an allied country once jumped up and down in a fit when one of his carriers was declared sunk - so, defeating carriers, even in an exercise, is no easy feat. In fact,” he winked, “it may be even more difficult to sink one in a simulation than in reality.”

“I supposed that depends on who programmed the computer, sir,” Seely suggested. “No simulation is perfect and I trust no conscious bias entered into it, but it would be naive to think it would make no difference if the exercise was designed by programmers who sincerely believed in the virtues of distributed firepower as opposed to those who remained loyal to more carrier-centric doctrines.” She shrugged slightly. “Of course, it is done by a team. Perhaps they balanced one another out, sir.”

“I’m sure they did, Commander,” David said crossing his arms behind his back. “Of course, nothing compares to live exercises. Are you planning war games for the next stage of testing your doctrines?”

“Not me, sir,” Sealy said. “I’ve graduated the command course and been given command of the HCMS Maidstone.”

“Congratulations, commander,” Gwendolyn said cheerfully.

“Yes, Commander,” David agreed, “congratulations. What class of ship is Maidstone?”

“It’s a Riverton-class guided missile frigate, sir,” she answered proudly.

“An auspicious first command,” David said. “I wish you fair winds and following seas, Commanders.” The Emperor’s face momentarily bore a wistful look. With a slight shake of the head, he refocused on Sealy. “When I accepted my first command, I was told to treat my ship and my crew with dignity and to care for them as if they were my own kin. And that if I did so, they would always bring me home. I can think of no better advice to give you, Commander.”

“Thank you, sir,” Sealy said with a widening grin. “I’ll certainly take it to heard.”

“I’m sure you’ll do us proud, commander,” Gwendolyn said.

David smiled and gave a nod of the head. “I’m sure you’ll make an outstanding captain, Commander Sealy.”

“Thank you, sir, ma’am,” Sealy said before making her own way to the spouses.

Although Leader of the Opposition Isaac Solomon was attending with his wife, he approached with the Prime Minister and bowed as she curtsied. “Your Majesties,” they both said.

“Dr. Foster, Mr. Solomon,” Gwendolyn said with an inclination of her head.

“Your Excellency, Mr. Solomon,” David said with another slight bow. He watched for the Prime Minister’s reaction, not sure if he had used the proper form of address. “How are you doing this evening?”

If he hadn’t, Foster didn’t show it. She simply smiled. “Lovely, sir, thank you. I hope you’re enjoying your visit?”

“I think I speak for Caldans across the spectrum when I say Excalbia’s recent reengagement with the world comes as an enormous relief,” Solomon added.

“I’m enjoying my visit quite well, Madame,” David gesturing towards Gwendolyn, “I truly am amongst family here. And I am looking forward to the rest of my visit.”

He turned slightly towards the Leader of the Opposition. “Thank you, sir,” he said, “we have been heartened by the warm reception our recent efforts have received. Hopefully, we - together with our allies,” he nodded towards Gwendolyn and, then, towards Foster, “can make a positive contribution to the stability of the Western Atlantic.”

Gwendolyn smiled at David and Foster nodded. “I think so too. Stability and a sense of continuity is what the Atlantic needs right now. The region hasn’t quite had the same sense of itself since the war.”

“The war...did not go quite as imagined,” Solomon conceded.
David frowned slightly and his eyebrows drew together. “No, the Iesian War did not go as any of us expected. At the time, I felt we were entering into a new era of unity in the Western Atlantic… but after that...” He shook his head slightly and drew in a sharp breath. “Well, I think we are all hoping to recapture the sense of unity and progress that prevailed before the Iesian War.”

“My hopes are high,” Foster said positively. “The Iesian War and the Second Ambaran War are events which have shaped the region but so, too, was the peaceful resolution of the Saxmere crisis. I hope we can get a fresh start along similar lines when I meet with your Chancellor and other regional leaders in New Excalbia.”

“It is to be hoped,” Solomon said. “It should go without saying that our relationship with Excalbia is above party politics but when I look at developments in some of our closest allies it’s hard not to see how they won’t have a region-wide impact.”

“It is a cause of worry,” Gwendolyn conceded, but then she added, as if worried too candid a discussion of Accion-National (or Staalman, for that matter) might break out, “Thank you both for coming.”

“Yes, thank you,” David said nodding his head. “You both honor me with your presence.”


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