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Once Upon a Time in Noctur [Closed, Noctur Only]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Higgins and Brown
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Once Upon a Time in Noctur [Closed, Noctur Only]

Postby Higgins and Brown » Wed Oct 07, 2015 2:19 am

The many peoples of Noctur get up to some strange things, and, what's more, they're often protected by a wildly inaccurate media - be it the hit-and-miss mass media of Free Noctur, or the hopelessly unconvincing state propaganda servies of other nations. This is a thread for all those scenes, stories, fragments, etc. that are integral to the character of your nation and reveal much about what goes on there, but do not warrant a thread of their own, and cannot be covered from the right perspective by a news story.

Things that belong here
  • Short stories
  • Vignettes/random scenes
  • Jokes
  • TV shows
  • Movies/movie trailers
  • Entertainment in general
  • Postcards
  • Letters
  • Court case transcripts
  • Excerpts from History Books
  • Whatever you feel like, hippies.

Importantly though, every post must be related to your nation in Noctur, and it should have its own title.

Enjoy!

Index by Author, Series, Post Number.
Last edited by Higgins and Brown on Tue May 15, 2018 6:30 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Biography of Akimoto Kumiko (from hb.wikipedia.org)

Postby Higgins and Brown » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:16 am

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Biography: Akimoto Kumiko

Akimoto Kumiko
(AKA Kumiko Akimoto) GL LL SpHDL is the Prime Minister of Higgins & Brown, a Setite politician and a member of the Republican Social Democrats, who is serving in her 3rd term as Prime Minister of Higgins & Brown, and has served twice as Leader of the Republican Social Democrats. Akimoto's career as Prime Minister has been notable for several reasons. Her first and second terms as Prime Minister were triggered bythe illness of then-Prime Minister Peter Davis. Having led two of his Ministries for a combined tenure of about 300 days, Akimoto was elected Prime Minister in her own right upon Davis' retirement, during her 2nd term, in November 158. This rise to power was all the more remarkable because Akimoto was the youngest woman and 2nd youngest person ever to be Prime Minister of Higgins & Brown, ascending to the office 100 days shy of her 37th birthday in her first term.

Once in office with her own mandate, however, Akimoto did not fair well in the 160 general election, in which she and her party lost power to a National-Liberal coalition. A second defeat in the election 3 years later signalled Akimoto's demise as caucus leader, and she was replaced by Denis O'Callaghan, her former Minister of Justice.

Following a third electoral defeat for the Republican Social Democrats in the 166 election, Akimoto became deputy leader of the party. Relations between herself and O'Callaghan declined amid accusations that she was being sidelined within the caucus. Akimoto challenged O'Callaghan in the party primaries before the 169 Hoindopal election, winning back the party leadership and going on to win the general election and a 3rd term as Prime Minister.

Her 3rd term as Prime Minister started ahead of a coalition with the United Left Front and the Green Party, but after the 172 election the Liberal Party joined the government in a Popular Front coalition aimed at defeating the far-right. Unfortunately for Akimoto, backbench rebellions and poor relations between the parties have dogged this coalition, leading to the dissolution of the Akimoto III Ministry in the autumn of 173. Questions remain over Akimoto's leadership of her party, as well.

Early Life & Career

Akimoto Kumiko was born to parents Akimoto Harojo and Hemuro Namie in the low-lying fort town of Ebowata, in the Southern district of Set Territory. There she attended Jamifuji Junior and Senior schools, attaining Secondary Awards in History and Mathematics, and Minor Awards in Politics, Economics, Currish Language and Setite Literature. Akimoto attended the University of Okanaka from 137 to 141 where she attained Graduate and Licentiate degrees in Law. From 141 to 144, Akimoto undertook a Specialist degree in Human Dignity in Law at the Worker's University of Newport, spending one term at the Worker's University of Michaelstown. From hereon Akimoto was entitled to be known as Speciallier Akimoto, but always declined this title.

From 145 onwards, Akimoto worked as a Solicitor in Okanaka, specialising in family and labour law, working out of her own practice and also as a consultant to the EPAWSU trade union. Akimoto joined the Republican Social Democrats in 146 through the Progressive Legal Council, having previously attended meetings of the Worker's Republican Party. Akimoto soon made a name for herself within the movement and received a nomination for the 148 Territorial election. Despite obtaining a low position on the RSD list, Akimoto received a high personal vote and leapfrogged many colleagues to obtain a seat in the assembly at the age of just 28, where she became Vice-Chair on the Committee of Justice, Equality, Law Reform & Governmental Relations. Akimoto was re-elected in 151 but was soon contacted by the new Prime Minister, Peter Davis, and became his Minister of Governmental Affairs, serving on the Executive. Davis had promised that his Ministry would be the youngest and most diverse in Higgins-Brownite history, and Akimoto's unexpected elevation was a large factor in fulfilling this promise.

Minister of Governmental Affairs

As Minister of Governmental Affairs, Akimoto progressed 3 major initiatives in her time in office: an economic development plan for the islands; a reorganisation of city and municipal boundaries and the processes used to determine those boundaries; and a local government living wage initiative. The Davis government was re-elected in the 154 election, and Akimoto was elected to the Hoindopo, opting not to seek re-election to the Set Territorial Assembly. She did, however, campaign extensively for the RSD in the Assembly elections, and the RSD entered government there for the first time in 12 years.

At this point Akimoto was suggested as a suitable candidate for Secretary of Justice and Deputy First Minister in the new territorial government in Set. Davis convinced her to remain in the national Ministry, however, with a promotion to First Executive Minister in the new Ministry. Akimoto thus remained on the Executive, and made a name as FEM touring the country and signing county, city and municipal governments up to the Living Wage initiative. At the end of her tenure as FEM 6 months later, she was a national figure and well regarded by the Liberal Party Ministers.

Akimoto's career would take another dramatic shift when, in 156, Peter Davis fell ill. Concentrating on his recovery, Davis suspended his own office, meaning that the Ministry would have to appoint a new Prime Minister to serve until such a time as he recovered. Akimoto was appointed Prime Minister with more senior party figures not allowing each other to take the post.

Prime Minister (1st Term)

At age 36, Akimoto was the youngest Prime Minister since Walter Harry, and the youngest of the modern age. Akimoto Kumiko's first Premiership lasted for 209 days, during which time she cultivated an image of a popular champion of the working class and minorities, much to the annoyance of her two most senior ministers, Greg Manán and Simon Quail. Akimoto was forced to assert her authority early, terminating the appointment of Ministerial Secretary Angela Kosgráv after she published an article questioning Akimoto's ability to lead a Ministry. Akimoto's perceived overperformance in office split the RSD caucus, but impressed the grassroots and Peter Davis. Upon his return to the Premiership, Davis retained Akimoto as Minister for Social Security, after suggestion from some party figures that she should take up the leadership of the Set Republican Social Democrats and return to the backbenches, if not the Set Territorial Assembly.

Minister of Social Security and Deputy Party Leader

Faced with a Hoindopal election and questions about his own health, Davis retained Akimoto on the Executive and gained approval from the RSD Convention for the creation of a Deputy Leader. The Convention then elected Akimoto, as Davis' preferred candidate, as Deputy Leader.

As Minister for Social Security, Akimoto created controversy in an attempt to equalise Employment Insurance payments across the country, which would've seen the rate go down in the 5 major cities, but increase in some other areas (notably South Higgins and Set Territory). Akimoto put the plan on hiatus and asked the Hoindopal Committee on Social Affairs to investigate the plan. In the face of a ULF threat to put down a motion of no-confidence in her, Akimoto shelved the plan entirely.

Again, however, Akimoto's career would be taken in a new direction by the ill health of Peter Davis, who suffered a relapse in July 158. This time, Akimoto's elevation to the Premiership was near-guaranteed by her holding the position of Deputy Leader. Greg Manán reportedly offered to put his own name forward, with ULF and Green ministers refusing to support someone other than the Deputy Leader of the senior coalition party.

Prime Minister (2nd Term)

Akimoto nonetheless ran into difficulties early into her 2nd term. With the economy contracting in the 2nd quarter of 158, she directed Manán to deliver an Emergency budget - a move seen as an over-reaction. Manán's budget in September made few changes to the thrust of government policy, as Manán refused to incorporate any of Akimoto's suggestions, even those that were under active consideration by Budgetary Affairs and Treasury staff. Unusually, Manán's budget catered for the affairs of all Ministries, contrary to the traditional budget process. Though it passed, and the government remained stable, the mood of the market only worsened as the Ministry's response was lampooned by political commentators.

In November, Peter Davis received the news that he would not be able to return to work for at least 3 years. Davis resigned as Prime Minister - a position he held a mandate for still - necessitating a Prime Ministerial Election in the Hoindopo and an RSD Leadership election. Greg Manán challenged Akimoto for the party leadership, characterising her as a caretaker who couldn't be trusted to lead the party herself. Manán, 18 years Akimoto's senior, was viewed as the early favourite for the election.

However, Akimoto defeated Manán by 54.4% to 45.6% in a result attributed to Manán's brash and insulting manner over the course of the campaign. Akimoto was then elected by the coalition Hoindopors as Prime Minister, continuing her 2nd term in office, but this time with her own mandate. The Akimoto I Ministry would not feature Greg Manán, however, as Akimoto refused his demand to remain on as Minister-to-the-Treasury. Manán resumed his seat in the Hoindopo rather than take a demotion to the Ministries of either Labour or Social Security.

Akimoto's new Minister-to-the-Treasury was Simon Quail, who in January became Deputy Leader of the party. The two worked together productively and amiably, though they hadn't much of a personal relationship. The public turned against the coalition, however, and the RSD lost office in the 160 Election.

Leader of the Opposition

Akimoto remained on as Leader of the party, sured up by good personal poll ratings. Her performances in the Hoindopo against Prime Minister Diane McKenna significantly ate into the popularity of the National-Liberal government, and Akimoto's personal popularity increased. High poll ratings for the left indicated that a return to power would be on the cards at the 163 election. Unfortunately for Akimoto and the opposition, McKenna's ousting as Prime Ministerial Candidate for the coalition brought about the rise of popular free-marketeer Bert Forster. Having performed very well against the moderate McKenna, Akimoto struggled to challenge Forster during the election campaign, and a major swing back to the government caused a second successive loss for the left.

Akimoto resigned as Leader of the RSD following the 163 election, and was replaced by Denis O'Callaghan. O'Callaghan offered to support Akimoto as Leader of the Set Republican Social Democrats, which she refused for a 2nd time. Akimoto stepped down from the RSD frontbench.

Comeback

Following her resignation from frontline politics, Akimoto remained a Hoindopor for Set Territory, winning re-election once more in the 166 Hoindopal election, in which the left suffered a 3rd successive defeat to the National-Liberal coalition. In the aftermath of the election, O'Callaghan attempted to manipulate liberal uncertainty about continuing in government with the right and manage his own election as Prime Minister ahead of a grand coalition of the centre and left. The attempt having failed, Simon Quail challenged O'Callaghan over the caucus leadership, and a snap leadership election was held. Akimoto ran in the Deputy Leadership race, having received the nominations of over half of the RSD caucus, and winning convincingly to become the Deputy Leader of the party once more. O'Callaghan appointed her spokesperson for Community, Equality, Youth & Religious Affairs.


Despite her elevation to deputy leader, Akimoto was kept away from the major strategic decision-making of the party leadership under O'Callaghan, and performed adequately in her question time scrutiny of the Culture Minister Edvar Hunt. Only during the scandals toward the end of the Forster Premiership was she invited into the fold, as O'Callaghan's credibility (once more as an alternative Prime Minister) suffered in opinion polls as the opposition attempted to oust Forster. Supporting O'Callaghan in his efforts, and managing the votes in the house, Akimoto succeeded in showing her political talents once more to the wider public. The strategy succeeded in undermining the National-Liberal Ministry, forcing the Donal O'Casey, the liberal leader, to submit to a special election for Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers. However, the election of O'Callaghan was very unlikely and eventually failed when Forster resigned as Prime Minister, prompting his deputy leader, Ethel Meaney, to take his place at the head of the coalition.


The failure once more cast doubt on O'Callaghan's leadership style, but Akimoto was already planning a primary challenge. In the January 169 primaries. She officially launched her campaign for the Republican Social Democrat leadership on 1st December 168.

Comeback

Akimoto beat O'Callaghan 51-41% and became the Prime Ministerial candidate of "the Left", adopting a formal pact with the United Left Front and the Green Party. The Inside Movement also backed Akimoto as "one of two likely Prime Ministerial Candidates" that they would support after the election.

During the campaign, Akimoto's personal popularity soared, becoming known as "kumiko Fever" in the press. Akimoto ran on a promise of a return to honest government and to bring in popular social reforms such as gay marriage. Despite opinion polls generally showing the public to be at odds with the Left of economic issues (41% agreement as opposed to 55% agreement with Meaney's stated positions), the political tide remained behind the Left and they gained a clear majority in the election.

Prime Minister (3rd Term): Akimoto II Ministry

Akimoto was elected Prime Minister by the Hoindopo on 6 May 169, on the 3rd ballot, having gained a majority on the 1st ballot. Jacob Robinson and Finnuala Saint were elected as her deputies. Though this was her 3rd term as Prime Minister, it was the first time she had won a Hoindopal election (at the 3rd attempt).

Akimoto appointed a young team to the RSD positions in the Ministry, with the exception of veteran caucus member and new deputy leader Kent Morton. The Ministry was initially popular, but gradually lost popularity to the Liberals and the far-right Front for a United Nation. The National Party struggled to present a credible alternative as they were increasingly outflanked to the centre and the right by the Liberals and the F.U.N., entirely. With Leader of the Opposition Ethel Meaney struggling to contain divisions within her own party, Akimoto took on the role of austere stateswoman in their weekly Hoindopal exchanges, and her personal popularity among older voters improved in this time. However, "Kumiko Fever" died down as younger people turned away from politics once more and opinion polls started illustrating the rise of the F.U.N., as proven in Codenal elections in 170.

The popularity of the government waned slightly after it delivered on key social reforms and turned its attention to economic ones. Through her ambitious Minister-To-The-Treasury, Sarah Barker, Akimoto pursued a major tax reform, refocusing direct taxation from income to wealth. At a time when Higgins-Brownite international relations were floundering, the reform stalled as agreements sought with foreign governments to prevent tax tourism went nowhere (in many cases, blocked by the Commission).

With the 172 election fast approaching, the Left had lost the majority in most polls. Akimoto ramped up the pressure on the major opposition parties to refuse to cooperate with the F.U.N. While this was identified as scapegoating by the National and Liberal leaders, it created division in the Liberal Party - with a strong tradition of antifascism.

Popular Front: Akimoto III Ministry

In the primaries of that January, Akimoto was re-elected unopposed as RSD Party Leader, and the Prime Ministerial Candidate of the Green Party. In the Liberal Primaries, an "Antifascist Strategy" was approved by voters as well as Lexi Spencer being elected to replace Donal O'Casey as Leader, over O'Casey's preferred successor, Lod Elton. Akimoto and Spencer negotiated a coalition deal that would ultimately extend Akimoto's Premiership beyond the election. With the agreement of the ULF and the Greens, Akimoto became the leader of a "Popular Front" coalition, the first time the Liberals had joined in a pre-election pact with the Republican Social Democrats since the days of Brendan Wilson. This split the Liberal Party, but not by so much as to realistically threaten the combined majority of the coalition parties in the opinion polls.

The coalition won a majority of 73 in the Hoindopal Election, and Akimoto was thus re-elected Prime Minister when the new Hoindopo met, with Lexi Spencer, Suzanne Edwards and Finnuala Saint elected as her Deputies. Akimoto honoured the coalition promise of appointing a nonpartisan as Minister-to-the-Treasury with the appointment of university professor David Lamont. Lamont also became First Executive Minister. His appointment was welcomed by the Liberals and the left of the coalition alike. Ultimately, however, Lamont's presence would eventually destabilise and then collapse the coalition.

While the Liberals had joined the Popular Front to prevent a government influenced by the far-right from taking power, they were not supportive of Akimoto's tax reforms, which did not feature in the programme for the new Ministry. Lamont, an independent non-partisan, managed the fiscal policy of the Ministry in close cooperation with the Prime Minister & Deputy Prime Ministers and the Minister for Business & Economic Affairs. Increasingly, however, Executive meetings were reported to have been dominated by debate between Lamont and Liberal Ministers on the one hand, and RSD and ULF Ministers on the other, as Lamont proposed spending cuts and cuts to income tax to improve the economic situation.

The 172-3 budget controversially saw Lamont design a plan for all Ministerial spending for the next 12 months - similar to the emergency budget of Akimoto's 2nd Premiership. 18 RSD Hoindopors voted against the budget, including 2 members of the Budgetary Affairs Committee. More than half of the ULF caucus voted against or abstained on the final vote, held in late January.

It was on social insurance, however, where Lamont would drive a wedge into the coalition. That which Akimoto had not equalised across the nation as a Minister some years before, Lamont now attempted to completely reorganise in the 173-4 budget. Lamont led discussions early in the summer of 173, which from the start provoked threats of resignations from some ULF Ministers. Undeterred, Lamont continued to raise the issue, demanding that the Executive work out a fair compromise. The ULF requested Lamont's termination, but the Liberals - on board with the plan and defending the right of the nonpartisan Minister on principle - threatened to pull out of government if Lamont was sacked. Following an opinion piece in "The Insider" in which Lamont defended his plans, which had not yet been approved by the Executive, the RSD caucus debated a motion of No-Confidence in him. The motion was amended so as not to personally attack Lamont, instead casting doubt on the economic policy of the government. Despite being defeated, over 30% of the caucus supported the motion. Akimoto responded by dissolving the Akimoto III Ministry, in order to 'reset' the Ministry after negotiations with Deputy Prime Ministers.

At the same meeting at which she announced her intention to dissolve the Ministry, the United Left Front pulled out of government, ostensibly to improve their leverage in negotiations.

As of most recent reports, Lamont is likely to remain in the Ministry as a Liberal condition of remaining within the coalition. This will likely mean that the ULF will pull out of the government permanently, and a replacement Deputy Prime Minister will have to be appointed. Akimoto's leadership of the RSD is also under threat, as her natural support base in the caucus - the leftwing of the caucus - are increasingly frustrated with the coalition with the Liberals.

Future Prospects: Presidency of Set Territory?

The common monarchy of Set Territory passes to the Vice-President upon the death or resignation of the President, and the Vice-President is elected each year by the Territorial Council. In the modern day it is a ceremonial role only. Akimoto has been suggested several times as a future Vice-President and then President of Set Territory, given her position as the only Setite to become Prime Minister of Higgins & Brown. Akimoto has thus far refused to countenance being elected Vice-President or serving as President - these positions have never before been held by a woman, and carry the gender-specific complimentary titles of "Crown Prince of the Setite People" and "King of the Setite People" respectively.
Last edited by Higgins and Brown on Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ZED Talk: Fall of Zanzes

Postby Nui-ta » Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:00 am

Dr. Mohan Jkanher holds a Ph.D in Nocturian History, and a Master's Degree in Education. He has been a tenured professor at the University of Rakhu for the past 14 years.



"So, Zanzes. Most people around the world who have taken a secondary-school World History Class have heard that name thrown around at least once. Despite this, no one in the world seems to know a lot about them, and that is because Zanzes largely disappeared off of the global stage about 150 years ago".

"The nations that remember Zanzes the most are Nui-ta, Hadin, Algrabad, Ossoria, and Higgins & Brown. The reason for this is simply because these nations are the ones who had some direct impact by Zanzes when it was a global power. Ossoria was the only nation within Zanzes's sphere of influence that was able to maintain its autonomy, and this did nothing to stop tensions between the two nations from rising".

"Simply put, every era has nations that rise to positions of immense power. Most nations think of today's power, definitely in Terra Occident if not all of Noctur, and immediately flash to Radiatia. Now, if I turned the clock back, let's say between 500 to 1,000 years ago, and I asked you to think of Terra Occident's strongest nation, chances are, you wouldn't give Radiatia a single thought. Chances are, you would have immediately have thought of Zanzes. This is what drives a lot of intrigue about Zanzes --- how did the most powerful country on this side of Noctur break into nothingness?"

"Well, to discuss the fall of Zanzes, we need to start from the heights from which Zanzes fell".

"History has been kind to nations who can adapt to their geographical terrain, and of all the terrains one could possibly come across on mainland Terra Occident, the Karasian Archipelago and mainland Zanzes have it, bar none, the most advantageous for the cradle of civilization. Some of the Radiatians listening to this are probably thinking right now, 'well Radiatia isn't nearly as lush, or as clean, or as beautiful, and it's a powerful nation'".

"You are not wrong to think this. Radiatia is another nation that has adapted very well to its geographical terrain and climate, but we all know that Radiatian terrain and climate is rather harsh. It takes a lot of grit and determination to settle down and make a civilization in lands as harsh as Radiatia, and the ancestors of modern Radiatia had that adaptive ability".

"The Zanzeanic people also had that adaptive ability. The Zanzeanic people possessed this ability alongside a genuinely more hospitable climate. Settlers to what became Zanzes, about 5,500 years ago didn't need to put a lot of effort into the transition from a nomadic culture to a culture that domesticates plants and animals in one spot. History has shown us, with few exceptions, that this is the first step into becoming a healthy civilization".

"It makes the process even easier to settle into lush, fertile lands that are by a body of water. Zanzes has an entire bay to itself. Archaeological evidence shows that the areas surrounding the bay were the first to get settled, and the last to collapse. Good soil, plus good water, equals thriving civilization. That is rule number #1. People in Radiatia had to work much harder and longer to get the same result, because they were playing the same game, "get a healthy civilization", but on a much higher "difficulty level", if you will.

"If Zanzes was playing on normal, Radiatia was playing on mindnumbingly hard. Combine this with the fact that the oldest human remains found on Zanzes predate the oldest Radiatian ones by a very long time, and you set the course for a lack of competition --- which is a factor I will discuss later".

"For now, let's start with, the people of Zanzes were able to settle into tribes and villages and cities faster. They had more than enough nutrients in their soil, and fresh water, and cattle, and wood from the forests that have existed in that area of Terra Occident for millennia, to set up an effective agricultural base very, very quickly, and nourish their populace effectively."

"The second factor is that they were writing things down. Most civilizations don't develop a written language until they've at least somewhat settled down in one spot. There is a lot of evidence to support the notion that Zanzeanic tribes already had a formal system of writing by the time they settled into villages. Even in nomadic times, rudimentary graffiti and simple recorded work exists".

"What this means in simple terms is that even when tribes were travelling and unable to find a safe place to live, they had a kind of communication between each other. This ability to share ideas, however crude, helped contribute to the founding of civilizations, and the spreading of essential knowledge. We haven't deciphered most of the ancient texts at all, especially the more complicated ones, although some of the very earliest and rudimentary work, scratched into tablets and chiseled crudely into stone, seems to act like a kind of guidepost for other travellers. "Good land this way". "Don't plant here". That sort of thing".

"So we've established that the Zanzeanic people of ancient days had ample food, ample wood to build with, and at the very minimum, rudimentary communication. Considering that we are talking about several thousands of years in the past, this is ridiculously advanced for any civilization existing in Terra Occident at that time. It's ridiculously advanced for much of Noctur --- only Aazeronia can also formally claim that they attained any kind of comparable civilization that long ago, although Aazeronia remains the more advanced of the two".

"The Zanzeanic people weren't religious in the traditional sense. They did have a formal system of worship and reverence, but it was to their Queens, in a similar fashion to how some Tuthinians have a cult of personality involving their Emperor. Zanzeanic people worshiped their Queens as an extension of a legendary figure known as Shabbriya Munar. From what little we know about early Zanzeanic politics, Shabbriya supposedly had a major role in organizing Zanzes from a rudimentary civilization to a major one. Her rule saw the cementing of Zanzeanic cultural schema --- a very rigid schema that made Zanzes a very disciplined and organized nation. It also oversaw roads connecting the country together, and a sort of Iron Age technological revolution that put Zanzes ahead of the rest of Terra Occident".

"Of course not much is known about her origins, which I would really love to know, because it would help establish just how old Zanzes was. It doesn't help that there are writings about her that give her supernatural abilities, like foretelling the future, or controlling the weather. It makes it difficult to establish if she really was an actual person, or a mythological figure. Then again, all myths have a little truth to them, but I digress. We do know that Zanzes was well established by the end of Anno Genesi, so the origins of Munar, and by extension Zanzes, is likely anywhere between 1,000 to 3,000 years ago".

"Anyway, we are talking about the mysterious fall of Zanzes, so let's jump forward to about LAI 600. Ossoria and Zanzes are engaged in a war that doesn't really benefit either nation in terms of land-mass. Nui-tan rebels were known to have snuck aid to Ossoria, and this causes Zanzes to react violently against Nui-ta. Zanzes effectively employs a very powerful naval strategy of surrounding and completely cutting off naval trade into Nui-ta. However, in order to do this, Zanzes has to maintain a powerful naval force, that has to wrap around the island. It maintains this strategy for many years to keep Nui-ta completely subjugated, as this wasn't the first time that Nui-ta has caused problems for Zanzes".

"Several years into this policy, Hadinian forces also conflicted with Zanzeanic forces, causing the 'naval chokehold', as I like to call it, to be extended across both islands. This required a lot of maintenance. Remember that".

"In addition, Zanzes had holdings over Higgins and Brown, as well as Algrabad. Evidence suggests, but isn't certain, that they were planning on going further north, but were blocked from northern Terra Occident by poor terrain and unfavorable conditions. In order to maintain this facet of their power, Zanzes needed a powerful army as well as a powerful navy".

"In LAI 600, this was doable. Zanzes was at the height of its power, and had the civilization, discipline, and population to maintain its massive holdings. Zanzes was a very organized society, unique for being extremely gender-segregated, and also for being a matriarchy. Men and women were only allowed contact with each other upon marriage, and even siblings were separated from each other on the basis of gender once they were about 5-6 years of age. Men were expected to be conquerors and soldiers in Zanzes. They were raised from birth to be soldiers, tacticians, and laborers. Women in Zanzes were expected to run households, have many children, and manage the homefront, but in a very different way than other cultures. While the men were out dominating the holdings of the empire with brute force, the women were working in government posts and making political decisions with considerable authority".

"Anyway, again, in LAI 600, even in LAI 650, Zanzes had the power to keep up this domination. However, sooner or later, all good things come to an end".

"Tensions in far-away Higgins and Brown and Algrabad were the first blow to Zanzes. As those nations revolted, Zanzes needed more and more military power to subdue the threat of revolution. These armies were travelling long distances. They were difficult to maintain as they got bigger, difficult to equip, and difficult to keep fed".

"In order to supplement their weakening armies, Zanzes had to rely on naval power. Although the journey was long either way, ships were able to make the trip to Higgins and Brown faster than an infantry, and this was all before advancements in land transportation, like trains and cars, were known. The problem with Zanzes's naval powers were that they were already being used, trying to keep Nui-ta and Hadin subdued. The threat of passing Ossorian territory and facing more battles also complicated naval journeys

"Eventually, Zanzes had no choice but to divert some naval forces away from their eastern holdings, to supplement the efforts out west. Inevitably, with less attention being paid to them, Nui-ta and Hadin began to regain some power and cause considerable problems".

"By LAI 750, a century later, Zanzes was now dealing with a huge problem. It had revolts to the west, spurred on by technological advancement, uninhabitable, unusable land to the north, a full-scale revolution brewing in the east, and a dangerous enemy in the south. Zanzes was effectively trapped in an inescapable circle of problems".

"Holding out for a few decades with considerably less authority over its holdings, the people of Zanzes could only watch as their empire began to slip from their grasp. The government tried to use the new technology of railways to give themselves a second wind, but massive amounts of coal were required to sustain travel by rail, and most of Zanzes's coal reserves were in its embattled colonies".

"Around early LAI 800, a Kacha epidemic from Nui-ta spread into Zanzes, killing many people and paring down the previous advantage of numbers".

"By LAI 900, Zanzes has lost Higgins and Brown. It has lost Algrabad. It is engaged in a bloody, century-long war with Nui-ta and Hadin, which it no longer has the ability to sustain at all. In LAI 920, it loses the last of its colonies".

"By LAI 950, signs of life in Zanzes seem to suddenly disappear. What remains of the fallen state is in isolationism in its dense jungles. Nui-ta's annexation of New Zanzes in LET 50 initially garnered some international speculation, but even international authorities looking into the annexation found an abandoned landscape with rusted, abandoned infrastructure".

"Some soldiers stationed out in New Zanzes say that in the distance, they have noticed some signs of movement, but no one really knows what state Zanzes is in right now".

"No one knows what happened since the Fall of Zanzes".
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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A Raison D-Être

Postby Nui-ta » Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:22 am

"Today, I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain..."


"...to feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue making mistakes and choices - today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity, but to embrace it". - Kevyn Aucoin





Some nights simply don't go as well as others.

There were nights that were full of joy and revelry. There were other nights, still, that were warm and peaceful. These were nights in which one felt truly alive...felt the happiness of living...felt what it meant be on the earth.

And then there were those nights that were bitter, and cold, and lonely. The darkness envelops those trapped within these nights, shaking them to their core --- making them face their innermost selves in the solitude --- making them wonder why they even existed at all.

Even the best of us have those nights.

Cold. Darkness. A little bit of drool coming out of the side of her mouth, unto a sheet of notes involving a recent Free Trade Agreement and Military Alliance with Radiatia.

A clock near her head, denoting the time as 11:30 PM.

Trenta lifted her head up, groggily, from the desk which she'd accidentally fallen asleep on. Debates over some disagreements involving the military alliance had taken all day to resolve --- nevermind the smaller issues that other MPs wanted to push in between sessions, on their own schedules with debates.

Oh, to be a backbencher again... Trenta laughed a little to herself, wondering how someone as young as her had gotten lifted into the Prime Minister's chair, at an age when most people were just beginning to enter politics.

She wiped some of the drool off of her bottom lip before looking at the clock again. 11:31 PM. She distinctly remembered 11:15 PM, so she couldn't have been asleep for very long.

Oh, to be a backbencher again...get to bed on time and sleep like a normal human being...

She reflected upon the series of events that started when she was just a backbencher.

First there was a giant fissure between several high-ranking Central Party MPs over Isaci's leadership during the Partition...back when the Partition was still happening. Evan Isaci was working as hard as he could to manage the affairs of a war-time nation, and keep everyone calm amid the civil unrest and chaos, and pass bills, and keep up with the Emperor's wartime strategies, and manage the depleted budget...

...and keep himself sane...

The fissure proved to be just a bit too much for the already stretched thin Isaci. A bad head-cold that day didn't help either. Evan clearly hadn't slept enough the day before. She didn't remember all of it, but somewhere between one of the finer points of debate, Trenta had said something --- without even meaning for the results to happen --- that dismantled Isaci's opponents in one false blow.

Something about botched numbers, thanks to corruption in the Monarchy's records...I don't remember...

Whatever she had said quickly escalated into Isaci and Isaci loyalists on the party regaining control and re-distributing power, in light of the turncoats on the party who had almost ruined Evan's career. And whatever she had said had impressed Evan Isaci enough to make her the new Minister of Internal Affairs.

Then the massive scandal happened with the census numbers being completely inaccurate, and the process being too congested and corrupt. It was the previous Minister's fault, but young and inexperienced Trenta Crumlo was sitting in the Minister's chair now, so young and inexperienced Trenta Crumlo quickly shouldered the burden of finding a solution, or being blamed herself.

Isaci and others on the party were breathing down her throat, telling her they couldn't afford another reason for Central to fracture, and that whatever unintentional thought-process that had caused Trenta Crumlo to inadvertently get herself noticed had to re-appear quickly, before the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs ended up dismantled.

And Trenta wasn't brave...she wasn't confident. She was meek, and young, and terrified about the consequences of failure, in a position she felt pushed into. In her terror, she had many sleepless nights, and in those sleepless nights, she could do nothing more than stare at all the paperwork, all the records, all the mistakes, and wonder how she was expected to fix a problem this massive.

She offered up the only solutions she knew how to offer --- the ones that appeared the most logical. It took forever to convince Isaci to help her allocate the funding to oversee the new system that she'd come up with, on one of many sleepness nights, but somehow, she convinced him.

He was desperate. He took the gamble, because not even he had any better ideas...

Lucky for Trenta: it worked. Beautifully. Suddenly, all was right with the world, her approval ratings shot through the roof, and everyone she knew marveled at how well she was doing. People once paid no attention to her at all...she was just some young girl, fresh out of school, from the "dumpy", "dirty", "lower-class" state of Yevzar, with a bad cough, large glasses, and no close friends...and suddenly, she became one of Central Party's favorite people.

Suddenly, everyone knew who she was. Non-Central Party MP's were downright wary of the newfound threat. Central Party MP's all grinned at her when she would walk down the halls, trying to keep a low profile. Some of the male MP's and soldiers --- who never noticed her before --- would blush when she came near, and make comments they they thought she couldn't hear about asking "the school-girl MP" (a nickname she earned for her young age) out on a date.

She got stopped in the hallways frequently, being asked opinions on dozens of current events and topics. Even Evan Isaci would flag her down in the hallways, between debates, and ask her opinion on projects he was considering. That was the moment Trenta knew she must have done something right.

That was the moment she thought she'd reached the end.

And then, the news broke that someone close to Evan had died in the last battle of the Partition.

Suddenly, Evan had disappeared from Parliament, and all eyes were on her. Just as before, she managed every inquiry and leadership decision she was presented with, the only way she knew how.

Logically.

When Evan returned to Parliament a week later, still jet-lagged and red-eyed from whatever domestic problems he'd been subjected to at that time --- when he mentioned that he didn't feel "ready" to resume leadership of the party, all eyes --- even his --- suddenly turned to her.

And the elections happened, before she had time to blink.

And she became the first female of common blood to sit in the Prime Minister's chair.

Not to mention, the youngest.

You'll never be a back-bencher again... The voice in her head echoed to her. You might as well get used to this life. It's better than---

11:36 PM.

A tap on her shoulder startled her out of her self-reflection.

"Uh, Trenta? If you're still sleepy, maybe you should go home?"

Trenta groggily wiped her eyes and collected her papers.

"Sorry Hariem," she said to her bodyguard, "I forgot you've been watching me all day".

"I'll admit I'm also a bit tired," Hariem smirked, "but let's worry about you first?"

12:24 AM

Another clock --- this one in the nearby residence of the Prime Minister. With a different detail to watch over Trenta while she slept at home, Hariem got ready to head to his own house and rest for the night.

"We are engaged, you know," Trenta reminded him, yawning between the words "engaged" and "you", before continuing, "you can just sleep here".

"I'm not supposed to," Hariem said.

"Why not? You've done it before".

Her bodyguard was quick to reply, "remember when I left for three days, on a diplomatic mission to Aazeronia?"

"The Coronation, or something?" Trenta asked, too sleepy to remind herself what exactly Hariem had been sent away for. "You were assigned to the Emperor, right?"

"Yeaaaah," Hariem yawned, fumbling through his pockets for his house-keys. "The Emperor got mad at me when the Corporal mentioned that I've been sleeping here".

Trenta raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

"It's improper for a couple to sleep under the same roof before marriage!" Hariem said, imitating the booming voice of Emperor Vincentius III as best he could. "You will bring shame to your families!"

Trenta started laughing at Hariem's over-exaggerated response.

"Wait until he finds out what happened at the Nui-tan Embassy in Radiatia," she chuckled.

Hariem looked up at her seriously, "I'd like to remain employed. I don't know the rules out in Yevzar, but you know how conservative Sangaur is. He's right you know, people will think things..."

"True --- but that's no excuse," Trenta sighed. "And so what if they do think things? If we're married, won't these things happen anyway?"

She continued, "And besides - this doesn't have anything to do with sex. My house is your house --- so you're home, and you're tired. Time to go to sleep".

12:54 AM

The digital screen from the alarm clock was set up in such a way that it would project the time on the ceiling in dim, red light --- Trenta didn't like to roll over on her side when she laid in bed.

She had to keep her head elevated on two pillows, because of her poor lungs --- lest she repeat one dreadful night, when she rolled over on her stomach, buried her head into the pillow, and suddenly woke up, face-down, thinking she was being smothered, while having a full blown asthma attack at 3 am.

Having the alarm projected on the ceiling gave her less incentive to roll around if she half-woke to check the time.

She turned her head over to her left, towards the wall. Hariem was laying down next to her, still in full-uniform (sans shoes) for some reason, facing away. She lifted one hand, reached over, and poked him in the back gently.

No response. He was sound asleep.

She felt restless for some reason. Insecure. Unsafe.

I'm fine, she told herself. The guards are nearby, and Hariem's right next to me. I'm fine.

I'm just worrying too much... Her final thoughts for the night, before closing her eyes and trying to get some sleep.




WHEEZE. cough. WHEEZE. COUGH COUGH COUGH wheeze COUGH COUGH coughcoughcough

Trenta bolted awake, scrambling for a breath of air. Someone was trying to get her to use her inhaler.

"Breathe. I'm here. Breathe," his voice said, as the medication funneled down the tube and into her lungs.

Trenta's head flopped back against the pillow --- the bed was harder and smaller than she'd expected it to have been, for some reason. She turned her head towards the person holding the inhaler.

"Brother?" Her younger self said.

Alec smiled at her. "It's okay. You had another attack..." He stroked her long hair back gently. "Go back to sleep. You need to rest..."

As Trenta inhaled, a familiar smell wafted into her nose. It was unpleasant.

Coal. She could see flakes of coal dust floating around her room. There was a faint noise outside, of wind blowing past the house, pushing some of the dust inside.

"It's storm season. The wind's picking up. We need to re-seal the window. That dust can't be helping anything," Alec sighed. "Mum said when I start my apprenticeship next year that I'll be able to learn how to do it myself. Once that happens, we won't have to ask Dad anymore..."

He paused. "Did Dad come into the room at all?"

"This one?" Trenta said. "No. He hasn't. I think...I hid the box key just to be sure".

"Good girl," Alec said, producing his own copy of the key in question and unlocking a metal box that was sitting out on the table. He pulled out several canisters of medication, meant for the inhaler, and two bottles worth of pills.

"What's the Golden Rule with the medicine box, Trenta?" Alec asked, quizzing his little sister on the rules of the house.

"Don't ever let Dad take the medicine, even if we really need the money".

"Good. Want to come down to breakfast? Mum has your morning medicine ready anyway".

Alec helped Trenta pull herself up out of bed, and then stepped outside, waiting for her to get dressed.

Both Alec and Trenta were 12 years old --- although Trenta was frail, and appeared several years younger. Alec was starting a growth spurt, becoming taller day-by-day. In a few years time, he would likely be a formidable grown man.

He wondered if he'd still have a younger sister by that time.

When Trenta was ready, the two proceeded down to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, and a plain roll. Alec was given a glass of milk for his beverage. Trenta received a glass of water, and a little green pill. Her father came down the stairs, towards the rest of the family, as she prepared to take the medication.

"I still wonder why we spend money buying it more medication. Seems pointless," he remarked, as he sat down in front of his plate, without looking at Trenta.

Alec glared at his father, Ien, while Trenta looked down nervously and shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"Trenta has been doing better lately. If she keeps taking it, maybe she can go back to school in the next couple weeks, weather permitting and Gods willing," her mother remarked, from her spot in the kitchen, cutting vegetables. She didn't dare look at Ien, lest he lash out at her, but her voice betrayed a bit of frustration.

"You keep telling yourself that," Ien said. "It's storm season, Carina. You know what the dust does this time of year. Last year, this time, the doc' was sure she'd be dead by now".

"Well Dad," Alec grunted, trying to contain himself, "she didn't die". You sold her meds and she still made it".

"Only 'cause you two drag out the inevitable," their father responded. "You gotta be strong to survive out here in Faustos. We ain't hippie Alinians. We ain't book-loving Mercurians, and we certainly ain't rich like people in Rahku and Sangaur. This is Yevzar, the industrial heart of Nui-ta".

He looked over at Trenta. "If you ain't strong enough to survive the storms, you ain't strong enough to work, and if you ain't strong enough to work, you ain't fit to live here".

Trenta felt the words escape her mouth before she could hold them back, "I'm plenty strong..."

"Bullshit," Her father spat. "You know, Trenta, there's this thing in life called a raison d'être. Ever heard of that?"

He smirked. "Oh wait. You don't really go to school anymore". Trenta flinched at the hurtful comment, but said nothing. The room grew colder. Alec felt his jaw tighten, and his hands begin to sweat.

"Anyway. Raison d'être, some foreign term for 'reason to live'. Everything has a purpose in life. I go to the mines, I break my back in the earth looking for coal, the coal goes to the trains, the mines get money. Then, I get paid. Then, I buy food and I pay rent".

"Your mum over there, she does what most women do. She minds the house, minds Alec, minds you --- though I think you're past minding. Your brother, he's just a boy now, but he goes to trade school next year, he gets himself an honest living, he makes money, he starts his own family. The cycle goes forward, again and again".

"Now you," Ien said, his tone becoming harder, "all you do is lay in bed and cough. Sometimes you move around a bit and go to school, but to tell you the truth, I don't see you living long enough for a trade. Even if you live a few more years, who would take you when you had to marry?"

"Don't insinuate that she doesn't have a reason to live," Alec growled, feeling himself beginning to come unhinged.

"Oh she has a reason. Babies with problems like Trenta, they happen all the time. Personally, I think the good gods put them here to remind us that you gotta be tough to survive out here. You go soft, you get weak. You get weak: you die. Everyone has to learn it. Took me a couple years when she was born to understand that that's the way life is, but I get it now. Problem is, Carina, Alec, you two ain't smart enough to let nature take its own course".

Ien sighed, "That's the only raison d'être I can think of for little Trenta over there. She's just proof that the weak never make it. It's only a matter of time".

"Shut up," Alec said, noticing that Trenta was beginning to cry.

"Quit your crying," Ien snapped at Trenta, "and you, Alec, quit your bitching".

"Shouldn't you be going to work?" Carina snapped.

Ien rose from his chair. "Don't you take that tone with me, woman".

Oh shit, Alec thought, he's turning violent again.

Alec rose from his seat, moving to grab his little sister and whisk her upstairs to her room. He did this each time that Ien began to get violent. Trenta's lack of bruises, compared to her brother and mother, was solely due to this action.

But this time, Alec wasn't fast enough. Ien grabbed a-hold of Trenta's hair and pulled her backwards.

"Ow!" Trenta yelled. "Ow! Ow! OW!"

"Oh my gods!" Carina yelled. "Ien! Let her go! You can't handle her like that!"

"Or what?" Ien scoffed. "Anything I do now just speeds up what'll happen later. Now, I usually don't see the point in caning a girl who's already sick, but I think you both need to learn how the world really works. You two don't care about learning for yourselves if I cane one of you. Maybe if I use this one, my point'll get clear, real fast".

Without any further hesitation, he whipped his farm forward, and Alec watched his sister slam into the kitchen wall, before she dropped to the floor.

"See?" Ien said, as Alec bolted over to Trenta. "She's half dead already. I ain't even made a fist yet".

He rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I have to go to work, to earn more money for you both to waste on the infirm". He left without saying another word. Carina Crumlo could only watch in terror before falling to the floor in total shock.

Alec felt the urge to lunge at his father with a kitchen knife, but instead balled himself up over Trenta, just in case Ien decided to kick her on the way out. When Ien left, Alec picked up Trenta, hurried upstairs, and set her down on the bed, before skipping school that day to beg the doctor to look at his sister right away.

Two cracked ribs, the doctor said. Nothing broken. Nothing punctured. If pneumonia didn't set in and kill her, nothing else was likely to.

Alec didn't leave Trenta's room that night, sitting over her while she slept and praying.

Please don't let that fucker come back. Make him leave. Make him run off with a woman. Make him get sick. Make a rock fall on his head. Anything, please, but don't let that fucker come back.

In the middle of the night, Trenta stirred.

"My chest hurts".

"You're gonna be fine," Alec said. "I'm here. I swear".

I never want to see him again, Alec thought. Never. Ever.

He comes back...I might just...

Trenta smiled at him. Alec raised an eyebrow.

"What are you so happy about?"

"I had a really nice dream," she smiled. "I dreamed I did something big when I grew up. Something really good".

"Like what?"

"I don't remember".

Alec smirked a bit. "Were you older in this dream?"

Secretly, he wanted some assurance that he wouldn't be alone.

"I was a grown-up," Trenta whispered, "...and...I...think I was a queen of some kind. And I helped people. And Dad couldn't say I didn't have a reason to live anymore".

She smiled. "See? I'm plenty strong...just not like you".

"I know," Alec chuckled, stroking her hair again. "You don't need to be like me. You just need to prove him wrong, little sis".

"When Dad comes back, I'll tell him," Trenta said. "I'll stand up to him this time..."

"When Dad comes back, I'm going to make sure we never need to stand up to him again..." Alec muttered.

Only Ien Crumlo never came back...




6:14 AM

The red light from the clock, signifying the time, illuminated the ceiling of the bedroom. As planned, it was the first thing Trenta saw when she woke up.

The second thing she saw was Hariem sitting up, watching her.

"Rise and shine, sleepy-head," Hariem said. "You were dreaming pretty good..."

"It wasn't a dream," Trenta said.

"Was it a nightmare?"

"No. It was a memory".

"What kind of memory?"

"I'd rather not say," Trenta sighed, putting one hand to her ribs, over cracks that had long healed. "But...it's over now".

"I sure showed him..."

Hariem stared at her. "Whom?"

Trenta grinned. "Nothing important," she said as she rose, "all that matters now is that it's another beautiful day to be alive. I've got lots to do. We'd better get going".

"Isn't Parliament out of session today? It's Sunday," Hariem yawned, "everyone's off for the day".

"I wasn't thinking of Parliament," Trenta smiled. "Although it is an important reason. But it's not my only reason..."

"Reason for what?"

Trenta smiled. "For me. A raison d-être". She reached over and touched Hariem's face. "I've got plenty of them".

"A raisin dent-what?" Hariem said, half-joking, half-serious.
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Nui-ta
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Posts: 1605
Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Ex-Nation

The Partition

Postby Nui-ta » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:29 am

Before they returned together to Yuesses, Kiana and Johanna had a week to spend in Ocini, where Johanna was studying Graphic Design.

The mother and daughter didn't have as much time to talk these days. Johanna was busy trying to apply herself at school, both in academics (which her parents knew a lot about), and socially (which they didn't know about so much). Her mother was doing whatever she could to support Josko Ivers's Presidential Campaign, whether it was following Josko around as he campaigned, or keeping the home-front maintained while he was away. Kiana and Johanna Ivers frequently joked to each other about how strange they both felt over the prospect of their husband/father having a legitimate chance to become the Head of State of Radiatia.

"Does that mean you'll be First Lady?" Johanna teased.

"Oh god, more entertaining diplomats and politicians," Kiana laughed. "It's hard to talk to those people, especially given my...background".

She shrugged, "but, I do my best to keep him organized, if nothing else that I'm useful for..."

"Mom!" Johanna scowled. "Don't talk like that. I'm sure Dad finds you to be extremely efficient".

"Sometimes I wonder," Kiana muttered. Johanna winced a little at her mother's tone of voice --- her parents were no longer as romantic with each other as she remembered them to be when she was small. Her father's career skyrocketed, and the stress was definitely noticeable on him. Her young mother had to grow up and harden herself to adjust to every little change and demand on the household, eventually giving up a successful career as a military official to better accommodate Josko and Johanna's needs.

Johanna realized at that last thought that she was now the same age as Kiana had been when Johanna was born.

Her mother, for whatever reason, had certainly grown up fast. Both of her parents were soldiers. Her father served in Radiatia's Arctic War, which she'd studied in high school and developed a working knowledge of.

Her mother fought in "the Partition" --- a war not particularly discussed in Radiatian high schools, because it didn't have anything to do with Radiatia. It didn't help Johanna's knowledge of the subject that professors and older adults who were present in Ocini and other parts of Nui-ta were tight-lipped at the very mention of the war.

Johanna could only wonder what her mother's experiences had been like.

"Hey Mom," Johanna said, while folding up some clothes to pack for the trip back to Yuesses.

"Yes dear?"

"What was life like when you were my age?"

"Your age," Kiana mused, "lets see. Well, I wasn't working, since I'd just had you and wasn't eligible to return to the military post I was at. Nui-ta's restriction on new mothers --- I'm assuming you're aware of it? Your father was finishing a term in Parliament, and left that line of work so that he could spend more time with you. Then he got appointed as the ambassador to Nui-ta, and...you know the rest".

Johanna nodded before mentioning, "but that just tells me what happened that year. That doesn't explain what life was like".

"Hectic," Kiana said. "I went into labor too early, so we were both sick for quite a while when you were born. I had to have a major surgery shortly afterwards, so I was recovering from that. Your father was worried sick about us, even though he's...you know. He doesn't show his worries so much, but they're there..."

Kiana continued, "anyway, a month or so later, you were big enough to leave the hospital, and I was somewhat able to function. So we went into your father's flat in Xerconia, where we'd been living...and then I had to get used to diaper changes, feeding you at 2 in the morning, and, my favorite part, cuddling with your new baby-ness".

"New baby-ness," Johanna repeated. "Wow..."

"When I was really little, I remember that Dad was around more".

"That's because he got the ambassador job by then. He got to boss other people around the embassy instead of spending all day in Parliament. I had to return to work after some time, and then there was that stint with the CRP...ultimately I ended up abandoning that project and focusing on the military career instead. That was a decision your father did not care for, but we were in peacetime, and I was promoted enough to be issuing orders from a desk at base..."

"You didn't get a different job outside the military?" Johanna asked.

"That was all I knew how to do," Kiana laughed, a bit hesitantly. "Without really intending to be one, I was a career soldier by the time I met your father. I had diplomatic connections because of him, and military experience because...you know. So being an attachée and a military diplomat was ultimately the best fit I could find for the skill set I was dealt".

"How long were you in the military before you met Dad?" Now Johanna was inching towards what she really wanted to know.

"A while," Kiana said immediately, calculating the amount of time between her fateful meeting with Josko, and her start in the military. It took a moment for her to add in the specific amount of time: "About...5 years?"

"Wait," Johanna paused, "weren't you really young when you met Dad?"

"I celebrated my 19th birthday while I was on that diplomatic assignment that caused me to meet your father, actually..."

Johanna quickly surmised, "so you...entered the military at fourteen?"

There was a long pause before Kiana responded affirmatively.

"Why?"

The next question, answered with more silence.

Maybe I shouldn't have asked, Johanna thought to herself. As soon as she finished that thought, she heard Kiana reply with "well, that's the Partition for you..."

The next question was awkward. "What was it like? The Partition? What happened?"

Kiana sighed. "Sooner or later, I figured you were going to get curious". She motioned for Johanna to stop folding clothes and sit with her on the edge of Johanna's bed.

"Get comfy. I have quite a few war stories. I'll try to keep them short though..."

Kiana collected her thoughts for a moment before beginning...




"So, when I was a little girl, Hadin and Nui-ta did not possess the same territories that they do now. The islands used to be shared between the two, and the Partition ended up separating the North Island from the South --- that is to say, Hadin and Nui-ta".

"I was born in Alinia, back before it was part of Nui-ta's state. Alinia was a Nui-tan colony, so I was technically a Nui-tan subject but a Hadinian citizen. It was a weird set-up".

"There were a lot of ethnic tensions that led up to the Partition. If I remember my history right, it started when the Sangauranic Nui-tans and the Zanzeanic Nui-tans had a power struggle. Evan Isaci had just become the first commoner Prime Minister, and there were a lot of people that were very angry about that".

"There were also a lot of people who were just angry in general. Even though we technically weren't in apartheid anymore, it was still fresh. People still kept to their own sort and feared anyone else. It was a lot of resentment that built up between the apartheid's official end in '80, and the start of the Partition in '101. People were moving around to find work --- people of different classes could start mingling in public places together, and this caused a lot of public disturbances that eventually turned into riots".

"I know in Rahku and Sangaur, the Partition's "official" start was when a classist group tried to commit a coup against the government. Of course, that coup involved each faction having tons of forces. This was no ordinary coup --- the classist faction had a large amount of manpower, and it was a bad enough fight where the nation was at war with itself for three years".

"It was something of a domino effect. Once the initial coup happened, other factions across society all started fighting with each other, and the war spread across the nation. There was a lot of anarchy in those days, and law enforcement and government forces were just trying to keep up with it all, let alone fight off anti-government forces that kept springing up and all wanting to change the government in this way, or that way..."

"Now, I was in Alinia. Specifically, I was living in a small town near the city of Alin. It was called Kiajara".

"Alinia was a dumping ground for all sorts of individuals. People who were inter-class - that means mixed-race, essentially...people that were colonists looking for work on the South Island, Nui-tans looking for work and expanding into the state from Ocini and Hephazi, et cetera..."

"Despite this, people still sort of stayed to their own kind, even in the city. Kiajara was pretty much all composed of Hadinian colonists. There were a lot of racial tensions that just kept getting worse, and worse...I would always hear things from my father and other family members about how they were convinced the Nui-tan forces would start a racial war if they hit Alin and Kiajara".

"They were somewhat right. In '101, the town got assaulted by two different forces. There were the Nui-tans who wanted us Hadinians forced out of Alinia, and then there was a mixed-group of pro-government forces who were just trying to restore order. At first, it was a battle between those two forces, and it was just happening right outside the town's walls. One day, many of the men in Kiajara decided that they were going to try and drive away some of Nui-tan forces. The Hadinians attacked both other forces indiscriminately, and the other two forces started attacking Kiajara in unison".

"My father wasn't one of those people. He was more concerned with just getting us to survive through the whole ordeal. Kiajara was out in the more rural, untamed parts of Nui-ta, so my brother and I knew how to shoot. We had to be able to shoot to go outside the walls and hunt for food".

That was when Kiana went quiet for a moment, before continuing.

"So my father gave me a gun, and gave my brother a gun, and told us to wait inside the house with our younger sister until he came back. My brother decided to "be a hero" and joined the fight on the Hadinian side. My sister and I were more focused on finding a place to hide".

"...and then, someone threw a Molotov at the house..."

"What's a Molotov?" Johanna asked.

"It...erm...it's a sort of bomb made out of flammable alcohol...but instead of exploding, it sets what it touches on fire".

"All of a sudden, I had to grab my sister and hurry out of the house. My brother was gone, my father was gone. There were more houses on fire and soldiers running through the streets. I had no idea where anything was, because all the landmarks were gone. The town ended up being completely destroyed. They built a New Kiajara not far from where the old one was, after the end of the Partition..."

"But I digress. The only thing I could do at that moment was take Aurana and try to escape without getting shot or burned. The anti-Hadinian troops were shooting at us on sight. The pro-government group and the Hadinian group were shooting at everyone else, but there were stray bullets everywhere. I was very lucky not to get shot. Aurana -did- get shot in the leg. She eventually lost it..."

"I did the only thing I was confident I could do, and ran away from the town. We ran so far out that night, we got lost in the wilderness. I had to tie off Aurana's leg with scraps of cloth I found in random places from people who'd passed through. Once that was done, it took us another day to find railroad tracks --- which led to civilization".

"We followed the tracks to Alin. I found out, when we got there, that our father was dead. I still had no idea where our brother was --- and Aurana's leg was starting to get infected, so there was that problem".

"We were homeless, starving, and orphaned," Kiana said bluntly, while Johanna's eyes went wide with shock.

She didn't know the full extent of what her mother had been through. Suddenly, she realized that Kiana hadn't even gotten to the point where she ended up in the military".

"A lot of other people were also homeless, or starving, or orphaned, or in otherwise bad straits. Alin was flooded with an influx of people from Kiajara and other towns that were hit, all coming in looking for shelter. The hospitals were overworked, and I couldn't get much help for Aurana there".

"I didn't have any money to pay for treatment either...it wouldn't have mattered much if the hospital wasn't so crowded. People were literally paying doctors and nurses bribes, to get their loved ones some measly amount of attention, so Aurana and I couldn't get anyone's attention because we were broke, and her infection was getting bad..."

"So I had to go looking for work. I spent a few days stealing...people's wallets. Change, money, valuables --- anything I could pawn off for cash to try and keep Aurana alive. I also had to steal food for us both...not my proudest moments..."

"Well," Johanna said meekly, "you only did it because you had to..."

"I did a lot of things because I had to," Kiana said, shaking her head. "I'd rather not go into the gory details...but after a few days the local police and the soldiers from Rahku started following me. They caught me, I had my ass beaten...and then there was one who was nice enough to let me take some money and food, in the hopes that if I had some, I wouldn't steal again..."

"Yeina and I ran into each other sometime around then. He tried to steal from me, and ended up just leaving us there in Alin...terrible, but what can you do? It was every man for himself..."

"When that food and money ran out, I couldn't afford to get caught stealing again. The police and soldiers were starting to get stricter, trying to keep some kind of order. I knew I was going to be thrown in jail --- or worse --- if I got caught again, and if I got caught, then it would be the end of the road for me and my sister. So I followed the most desperate people, who were going to the inner city to find work..."

"The only work they had for a 13-year-old girl was...two choices. Become a prostitute, or become a soldier. Hadin's minimum age for the draft was 14. Nui-ta tried to make them wait until 16, but once the Partition got really bad in situations like that, they were taking 12-year-olds".

"And the last thing I wanted to be was a prostitute...so guess what I picked?"

"And that was how you enlisted?" Johanna asked.

"Yes. Got a military doctor to look at Aurana before it was too late, in exchange for enlisting..."

"The rest of the Partition was all Nui-ta and Hadin trying to resolve the chaos. The colonial government came close to falling entirely. In '104, Nui-ta took Alinia on the South Island, and gave Hadinians a place called Suile-Blan, on the North Island..."

"The only way to resolve the conflict, in the end, was to literally partition the landmass. Hadin was still a colony of Nui-ta, but now it had its own island. The states of Nui-ta all had their populaces move around to suit the class-tensions at the time...that's why all the states are so different in character, even though they're all the same nation".

"And as for me..."

"Aurana lost the leg, but we were able to procure a prosthetic. At the end, in '104, we had to decide if we were going to leave for the Hadinian island, or stay in Nui-ta. I had seen a lot of...erm...conflict, personally...so I had the...experience to try and get into the main Nui-tan military. I opted for that, because Aurana and I were still homeless, and Nui-ta paid better money than Hadin".

"By that time, I was 16...old enough to enter Nui-ta's military. I took a lot of physical exams that year because I wanted to get into something better than the Standard Corps...I was really trying to get us a better standard of living. I put Aurana in a boarding school as well, and I needed funds to keep her there, and out of trouble..."

"And then the King's Guard needed a few recruits...and I had to do a lot of testing...not paper tests mind you. Practical tests. Physical tests. Tests on stamina...took a lot of work, but I got it after..."

She smirked. "...well. You remember Mr. i-Harendo, right? He was my proctor. The last test was for me to spar him...I'd pass if I could touch him...Hariem was very good at dodging blows, and he failed about three-quarters of the group..."

"I was determined, and I..." she laughed a little, "well....I touched him alright...knocked him flat on his ass. Needless to say, I passed. While I was in the KG, I also learned how to read and write..."

"You didn't know how to read?" Johanna said, quite surprised.

"There were no girl's schools in Kiajara. It's a different culture...I tried dressing up as a boy once and going with a friend of mine to his class, but I got found out..."

Kiana winked, "and then, about three years later...went to Radiatia for the first time. Met your father on official business. Got shot".

"You got shot?!"

"Yeah...with a syringe gun, not a real bullet...which is good because I got shot right in the neck..."

"Your father watched over me until I got better...and the rest, as they say, is history..."
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Radiatia
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Free-Market Paradise

Postby Radiatia » Sun Nov 15, 2015 3:03 am

Liberal-Conservative National Convention LET 56
Gregori Fyoderov




Midgard City, Midgard

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my very good pleasure to welcome to the stage... President Gregori Fyoderov!"

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to all the delegates to this convention and finally to my fellow Radiatians:

Words cannot adequately describe the honour that I feel at this great political party once again entrusting me as the candidate that it believes most qualified to promote our values and our policies in the highest office in this federation. Only one other man has ever been a Presidential candidate in this country three times, and that man was the greatest of us all.

My fellow Liberal-Conservatives, I accept your nomination for President of the Radiatian Federation!

I congratulate Chairman Alyaha, who has been a long time friend and mentor to me since our days together in the Larssen Administration. Our movement owes its life to you, and while most Radiatians may not know of your great contributions to political life in this country, the fact is that Radiatia is the better for having you and for all the work that you have put into the Liberal-Conservative National Committee and into steering this party into government.

Being President of this country is all about making choices, and tonight I want to share with you one of the greatest choices I have ever made - that being to four years ago choose Angela Pavlovic as my running mate. Angela, why don't you come on stage with me? Because the successes of my administration have been down to one driving force, and that is you.

In fact, I don't want to influence the outcome of the LET 60 convention, but just between you, me and the millions of people at home watching this... well, the words "President Pavlovic" have a nice ring to them, don't they? There's a woman from Bahamatsu who believes she will be the first woman President, well I say we Liberal-Conservatives have in front of us a far better and more qualified candidate for that particular historical honour...

It is a little fortuitous that this convention is being held in the great city of Midgard - the heartland of our manufacturing base, they call it the most working class city in the Radiatian Federation. I'm aware that there's a man from Midgard who believes he has the answers to the problems that face ordinary Radiatians - you may have heard of him, he smokes cigars, he comes from a wealthy background but oh, he's a man of the people!

Well to our Social Democratic friends I say this of the problems that ordinary Radiatians face: We've already solved them! AND, those problems only existed because of the disastrous way that the Social Democratic Union governed the last time one of theirs was the President!

Let's look at the facts shall we? Oh no, Social Democrats hate facts, they like roaring sweeping rhetoric, but facts are dangerous to them - but let's remind ourselves where we were four years ago?

Do the words "stagflation" ring any bells? We had double digit unemployment, and double digit inflation at the end of the Silviu Administration. They made society more equal alright - they made sure that all Radiatians shared in the misery! Whether it was the retiree who lost their life savings overnight, the small businessman who went bankrupt, the suburban couples unable to pay their mortgages, the families who saw their investments disappear from the stock exchange, or the unemployed worker, laid off his job and facing nothing but rejections from companies unable to hire.

That is the Radiatia we inherited from the Social Democratic Union - and this new man, Warsazeck, wants to take us even further back. This is a man who believes free trade is wrong! Who believes free enterprise is evil! Who believes businesses are bastards, corporations are crooks and that reintroducing conscription is the only way to give our young people hope for a better future. We've heard this before in Radiatia - it's what a man called Traiyan Silviu overthrew in LET 14!

He's a very dangerous man too: He's trigger happy and idealistic!

I have been proud of my record as President: I have kept Radiatians out of war and out of conflict. I have held talks with some of our most bitter enemies. I have exercised Radiatian power through restraint, not force, because I know that we have the power to dissolve all of Noctur into war, or we have the power to ensure peace prevails throughout this reason, and I for one believe the second option to be preferable.

So where are we today? Well today inflation continues to fall - we've set a 2 percent target, and currently it is half what it was and will fall. We've reduced the deficit and are on track to tackling the huge national debt that Keldon Silviu left us in LET 52.

Today the federal government regulates less and intervenes less in our economy and in Radiatian lives. Federal taxes are lower - meaning more money for state governments to spend on education, healthcare, and the public services that are right for their people, rather than saddling Radiatians with huge tax burdens that do not benefit them. One size does not fit all in country as vast as ours.

Our economy is growing again, and more and more Radiatians are back in jobs. National pride has been restored. Net migration is up - and while there are still those who are fearful of immigration, the reality is that these numbers show that Radiatians are returning home, because they know they have better prospects here, and the rest of the world too looks to Radiatia for leadership and a better life. I believe we should welcome these people - for what could be more patriotic than someone who was not born a Radiatian, but chooses voluntarily to become one out of love this land?

The Social Democratic Union want to take us back to the dark days of communism. The Liberal-Conservative Party wants to take us forward - we are the true progressives in this country!

Because the reforms that began in LET 14 have not yet been completed. We dismantled our inefficient state run economy. We introduced our people to democracy and the free market. We've created a dynamic and productive economy, which is the envy of the world.

But the job isn't done yet - because we are still living in a bubble, a bubble of outdated economic ideas, the same ideas that caused the Great Nocturian Recession.

We can no longer afford to use protectionism as an excuse for inefficiency. We can and will compete with the outside world - this will benefit consumers and producers alike. We must show the world that we are open to trade and commerce, and to competition. We must be innovative, as well as individualistic.

Trade doesn't just bring economic benefits - because the more we trade with our fellow Nocturian nations, the more we allow the globalisation to take effect, the less need we will have for arms and militaries and distrust and the need to form alliances and blocs, which divide the region and make us unstable.

My administration has focussed on bringing peace and prosperity to the citizens of Radiatia. It is time now to bring peace and prosperity to the world. I ask my fellow Radiatians to join me, not just for the sake of winning an election, but for the sake of winning a better world for you, and your children, and your children's children.

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Higgins and Brown
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Ex-Nation

Francis Defeated

Postby Higgins and Brown » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:25 am

The Day after the 173 Presidential Election, and the final result has been confirmed. Nicholas Francis, the Far-Right's spiritual and political leader, had come 2nd in the popular vote but lost the election by a wide margin.

On the balcony of the Ambassador Suite at the Prestige Hotel in Eros, Pitzjorol, Codenor Nicholas Francis stared out into the scenic bay. Sitting on the North coast of Pitzjorol in Brown, the town of Eros had been built near the site of an ancient capital – a castle that had fallen into the sea, ending a family’s reign in one crushing calamity.

He stared over the bay, east to the offending cliffs, beside which sat a near-unique phenomenon – the meeting place of a mountain range and an ocean – the traditional border between Pitzjorol and the old county of Ládan. From the next floor up, he would’ve been in a position to view the Eflinta beach, one of the steepest beaches in the world (or so it was marketed). He couldn’t understand why people would actually go to it, but he wanted to see it now more than anything in view.

The next floor up housed the Presidential Suite, however, and he had consciously decided not to stay there on results night. Eflinta beach crossed his mind. In reality, he could of course ask to be let into the suite to use the balcony for a few moments. No one in this hotel would question him. And knowing he could, he would have no desire to see the odd spectacle. But having lost, he felt now that he would forever sit on the second rung of the democratic system.

He spat out his cigarette, and marched back into his air-conditioned suite. His phone rang – the 3rd time in as many minutes. He threw it to Morde to answer. Morde dutifully answered, before changing to the Seglandic language.

Party activists were combing through his possessions with equipment that wouldn’t be out of place in an Algrabadi airport.

“Any signs?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“Thank you, but check everything just one more time. I don’t want to be made a fool of.”

“Yessir.”


They set about their task once more. His various suitcases and other effects were bunched up around the living room of the suite. Not sure what else to do, he picked up Morde’s handwritten notes from the night before. He’d read them many times, and here on the top page was the mathematical reality of his defeat confirmed in black biro. He threw it down, knocking over a lamp, which didn’t suffer any damage.

Morde re-entered the room.

“Our allies commiserate you, sir.” He grunted his response.

“Is it safe to talk without being overheard?” Morde’s careful use of language covered up his criminal intent. The men with the equipment didn’t answer. Morde coughed. They hadn’t realised whom his was addressing. On one level quite wisely, they hadn’t been listening.

“Eh, excuse me sir?”

“Is it safe?”

“Well, we’ve done 3 scans completely. Codenor Francis told us to…”

“It’s alright, I trust you’ve done a good job. Go and get my car, will you?”

“Yessir.” And they were gone.

Nicholas had accepted the offer of a driver and bodyguards from State Security for the campaign. He hadn’t trusted or particularly liked either the driver or the lead bodyguard. Dutifully, they had stood down after the close of polls and left earlier this morning, before the results had even been read out. Accepting their help was a strategy to put them off the scent. He knew Treacy had had ordered him investigated for treasonous activity, and made sure he was away from any questionable discussions for the campaign. What he needed now was to catch up on what had been going on for the last 3 months. They had to be certain that they hadn’t been bugged, however, before he could get that respite. Though dominated by angst over his loss, he was being overwhelmed too by the nervous anticipation.

“Hmm, I suggest the balcony anyway.” Morde said. Nicholas agreed with a grunt and they made their way back outside to where the view of Eflinta Beach was still blocked by the stubborn townscape.

“Give me my news” he commanded in a low voice. His tone suggested that Morde had been withholding something subordinately, even if it was necessary. Morde didn’t flinch at the suggested rebuke.

“The Greyshirts failed a number of attempts at changing the course of campaign, one of which was the fire in the Meignin Theatre, in Athboi. It was abandoned when they discovered how many were inside. However, they had a hand in Buffer violence, resulting in the death of a secret associate.”

“The day of the debates?”

“No, the forest fires.”

“Yes, well, I suppose that did the trick. Pity it didn’t work out as hoped in the media.”

“Yes, we had hoped for more amenable coverage, but their stubbornness in that regard didn’t change.”

“F------g Charlatans.”

“Yes. Our internal polling, as you already knew, didn’t significantly show a relaxing of the opposition to your policies even at the height of the border violence.”

“So we need something stronger.”

“I can’t say what we need. In other news, the organisation has grown, and there are more and more active, semi-autonomous, cells. We have strengthened command communications, and so we can effectively operate a coordinated national action with little over 4 hours or so notice. The protests last night were semi-successful, in that they were obviously successful in intimidating some local rivals to our candidates. Although, obviously, that would’ve been handier earlier. The Groupiers interpreted your July instructions to mean that such a national action would be unwanted before polling day.”

Nicholas drank it in for a few moments.

“Interpreted my instructions, you say?” For the first time today, Morde’s eyes suggested an element of fear.

“I’m sure they were mistaken in their application of your wishes. It was unfortunate that you could not co-ordinate activities.”

Nicholas waited for the moment to pass. He had been known to sack those close to him and have them expelled from the movement. None so far had dared join any rival groups, openly. The Front had ways of suggesting you stay quiet and inactive after leaving. Morde’s chest sank as his fear calmed.

“I need to speak directly to the Groupiers. I have been let down in my absence. I am getting impatient with the charade of democracy.”

“Me too, sir. We have been held back.”

“I will decide the correct course, Morde.”

Another altogether more benign topic entered his head.

“Have Wrinklesprout’s people been in touch. She may well choose to align with us in the Codena, but I got only pleasantries from her over the phone.”

“Um. I don’t think they have. She is on her way to the Procourt to address the nation. Surely we would rebuke-“

“Yes, you’re right, in the long run. But first we would play the game of politics a little more, to see what we can’t gain from this hellish election.”

Morde gave a confused look, but nodded his agreement. Generally, Morde always nodded in agreement. Nicholas didn’t blame him.

There was a tap on the screen door: the car was ready.

They were already carrying the last of his things out of the room as he crossed it to the corridor. The lift journey down did horrible things to his stomach. Childhood punishments had left him with Claustrophobic tendencies, but he had mastered repressing his fear in most situations. But having just lost a Presidential Election, and full of anxieties over the possible next steps to take, he found his internal defences lacking, and became suddenly aware of the geometry and velocity of the metal box he was in.

By the time he was at the car, his heart was running a sprint. Some media were still hanging around outside in the baking sun, awaiting another possible statement. The darkness of the basement didn’t sooth him. Old memories, hiding under the porch, being dragged by the arm…

He didn’t recognise the driver, but had been told it was one of Vern Darcy’s sons – Bron was his name. Darcy was his dashing running mate, no doubt schmoozing a press corps in Newport, continuing the work that had managed to win them the region (on first preferences). A great operator, if a somewhat slimy character, Nicholas thought to himself. The car was cool within, the aircon blowing gently. He relaxed a little.

He was separated from Bron by a thick pane of glass, installed by State Security. He supposed they would take it back soon. He spoke into the intercom.

“Where is your father, Bron?”

“Either slappin’ his tongue on a journo’s arse or dippin’ his balls up a hooke-”

“Haha! I get the picture.”

Disgusting, he thought. None of his dad’s grace. And that’s the thickest Newport accent he’d ever heard. Vern was much more refined. This person could only have been 18 years younger at most, though Vern had started early – modern secularist and all that. Morde shut the door beside him and poked his head through the window.

“I’ll see you in Vklarrbeg tomorrow, sir.”

“Get me the Groupiers.” He retorted, as if Morde had begged for instructions.

“I rang them, all is in hand.” An efficient if uncharacteristically firm response.

“Well I want them on the phone, now.”
He felt into his pockets, and couldn’t find his own phone. Morde knocked on the roof and Bron was setting off. He shouted “hold it” and the car halted.

“Morde, you have my phone.”

Morde didn’t step any nearer the window, didn’t respond immediately. He looked for the phone in his own grey mandarin-collared jacket. Eventually he pulled it out, checked it and took the few steps the car had travelled.

“Come on Morde, I’m getting impatient!”

Morde offered the phone but seemed to let go of it prematurely. It slipped between their hands onto the hard concrete – the sound of the screen cracking was distinct. Francis let his immediate fury be known with a silent glare at Morde.

But Morde didn’t flinch. He smiled.

“As I said sir, so am I. Impatient. We all are.”

He banged the car roof again and this time they sped off. The driver closed the window. It took Nicholas a few moments to comprehend what was happening. His first reaction was to search for his phone. He stopped, cursing himself. What the hell was going on? He tried the doors. Locked obviously. He yelled at the driver. He banged on the glass pane between them. Nothing. The tinted windows would prevent anyone from seeing him.

F—k!

He became aware of the small space. Three seats between two locked doors, a tiny void under the back window and a toughened glass pane – barely 2 metres squared of space.

F—k! F—k!

And he was being thrown around it. The car wasn’t going particularly fast, but it was taking bends sharply, presumably to disorientate him.

What was going on? Morde was a loyal soldier, always had been! They were impatient, with him?

If not for them, he thought, I’d have won that election with ease.

Anger now, mixed with the full force of fear. Fear of the space, fear of the unknown. But he wasn’t yet fully considering what was about to happen.

The car stopped at traffic lights. They were already out of the centre of Eros, on a main route to the expressway. Fast food joints and hardware and bike stores ran parallel to the road.

He banged on the glass as hard as he could, splitting a nail. The driver swung his mass around and prssed a silence pistol against the glass.

Francis immediately recognised that this man was probably as old as Vern Darcy, and certainly couldn’t be related to him. The glass might be technically builletproof, but at that range Nicholas wasn’t taking any chances. He sat back down, in the middle of the tiny space, his heart jackhammering.

He calmed a bit as the driver turned back around and set off gently. At least he hasn’t shot me Nicholas thought. They don’t want me dead, clearly.

But he was soon proved wrong. The car slowed as it hit traffic, and Francis saw the motorbike coming the other way, with two on-board, all dressed in black. The person on the back was quite carrying a firearm, unmistakably.

For Francis, the moment seemed like an eternity.

For passers-by, the warm quiet evening was interrupted by the sudden eruption of gunfire from the road. A motorcyclist pulled away – in panic, or perhaps as designed. No other gunman was apparent, but people stayed on the floor nonetheless. Taxi drivers made dangerous turns to get away from the area. Shoppers ran back inside from their cars.
But the danger had passed them. On the road, a driver was calling for an ambulance – the back windows of his flashy black car shot out, a puddle of blood forming beneath the rear left door, from whence it dripped.

Nicholas Francis had been shot 17 times.
Last edited by Higgins and Brown on Sun Nov 29, 2015 6:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Segland
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Father Knows Best State

A Pleasurable Ride

Postby Segland » Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:34 pm

It was dawn when the government jet, identified by runic decals and a red stripe along the length of the fuselage, lifted off from the runway at Sendeln Airport. Inside was Alexei Haussmann, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Directorate. He had been at Sendeln -- a town not particularly notable, save for the fact that it was State Security HQ West -- to personally review the efficacy of information-gathering procedures being used. Now he had been recalled to the capital.

Haussmann was not a morning person, and he guzzled down coffee while looking over the reports with which he had been supplied and ordered to read. They were primarily concerned with the recent intrigue in Higgins and Brown as well as the Algrabadis' moves towards joining UNCA. Dirty people, the Algrabadis, he thought. Not fit to be in league with us.

His sentiments were the same as those of Liaison Ministry, the Seglandic government department that puppeteered UNCA. The actual Independent Republic of Higgins and Brown would be a much more prized member to its collection of allies than the racially inferior and alien Algrabad. But Nicholas Francis' electoral defeat and now, it seemed, assassination, were not promising omens.

As an aide entered unannounced into Haussmann's cabin, his train of thought on UNCA broke and he looked up from the papers. "What is it?" he asked, slightly irritated.

"Call from National HQ," the aide said. "They say there's been an important development with Francis."

"Did he die?" said Haussmann.

"I'm not being told any details. They'd like to convey the info straight to you."

"Very well." At this, Haussmann took the phone from the aide and hailed the person on the other end.

"Hail to the New Realm," echoed the other voice.

"What's the issue?" Haussmann asked.

"Some of our contacts in the FUN are claiming this was an internal attempt at usurpation of the party leadership. Independently gathered evidence indicates that this is a feasible explanation for the event."

"Sounds like someone in FUN was getting impatient."

"Very much so. Our agency's trust in the competency and unity of the Front has diminished -- and their failure to secure a presidential victory was, as you know, highly displeasing to the Chancellor." There was a pause. "And speaking of the Chancellor, I hear he wants to talk to you."

"Now? I'm en route to Ryutsvaag as we speak."

"He wishes to discuss the recent events...without the intrusion of those who will be at the conference. I'll put you through to him."

The agent's voice was replaced by a rousing rendition of the famous patriotic song Die Umer der Stedlend as the necessary connections were made. Haussmann closed his eyes while mentally preparing himself for a conversation with the Chancellor. He couldn't allow his dislike of the old man to show.

Die Umer der Stedlend was cut off mid-measure by the characteristically tremulous baritone of Heinrich Mueller. "Hello, Alexei. Things going well at Foreign Intelligence?"

"Yes, my lord," Haussmann said, using the formal mode of address for a chancellor.

"Loosen up, Alexei," Mueller said. "This one's off the books."

"Right." Haussmann's vocabulary shifted, but his tone retained a cold formality.

"I ask you that because monitoring threats within the FUN is part of your jurisdiction... and now we have this little situation where Nicholas Francis has been shot 17 fucking times. I'm inclined to think that things aren't really going so well with your organization."

"If you're searching for a man to blame, look no further than the Liaison Minister," the GHB* director retorted. "When it comes to Higgins-Brownite politics, he's only ever tested the waters. Never pledged any real support to FUN. That maze of bureaucracy known as Liaison Ministry has precluded any extensive GHB involvement with the Front, and you know it."

"You can complain to the Minister himself once you've arrived at the conference. He will be there, of course," Mueller said. Haussmann could hear the smile in his voice.

He looked out the porthole window of the aircraft and could just see the cityscape of Ryutsvaag. Its postwar modernity usually impressed Haussmann, but his mind was on the coming showdown. That old bastard Mueller was using the attack on Francis to put into motion a power play. A power play, for Adrianus' sake! Even at times like this, the ugly and protean intrigues of the Demarchist Party were being forced upon him.

"I look forward to it," Haussmann said pleasantly. Mueller hung up, and moments later the plane touched down. It was time for war.


*Gosstammel vur Hefeinencebarbarien, Seschespek for Foreign Intelligence Directorate
Last edited by Segland on Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Higgins and Brown
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Founded: Sep 02, 2013
Ex-Nation

The Fate of Morde

Postby Higgins and Brown » Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:22 pm

In the Rdr. Angelo Bernard Hospital Heightened Care Unit, Codenor Nicholas Francis, leader of the far-right Front for a United Nation, recovers from the assassination attempt that saw him shot 17 times.

Many things beeped around him, many machines were attached to him by all manner of probe, needle and sensor. A hefty metal brace around his head was keeping his jaw in place, while another brace, even heftier, prevented him from moving his neck independent of his shoulders & head. This brace, and the bed-rest, had also been set up to prevent him from putting any pressure on the rear of his head.

His left arm was in a cast and metal things were poking out of his left hand. His legs, he could apparently move, were it not for the painkillers he was on.

His right arm was mobile, but he was missing his 3rd finger. They had re-attached his little finger, so that was in a cast too. Apparently some of the bullets that had been fired at him were dum-dum bullets, designed to explode on impact - making his survival all the more miraculous and painful. He had saved his life by holding both hands in front of his face, utterly destroying his left hand when it was hit by a dum-dum, which exploded to sever his 3rd and 4th fingers on his other hand.

He had been communicating with the right arm since waking up, scrawling out some messages to his nurses and the visitors he had received.

The clock on the wall opposite, just to the left of his immobile view, had broken 221 beeps ago.

He had to count the beeps, he'd realised immediately, to keep track of time. This meant that he hadn't thought of much else in detail for a while. The beeps he had been counting came from a machine to his left, which was beeping less often than some of the other equipment, and had a distinctively low sound. Like a cyborg farting, he thought to himself, each time he counted it.

He could turn on the television to check the time, but reaching out of view, he had knocked the remote off the bedside table.

And the nurses. Well, they were mostly arabs. Which wouldn't mean much to most patients, but he, Nicholas, was the primary preacher of segregation and expulsion, so they generally weren't doing anything they didn't have to for him. So he couldn't well use the call button to have someone pass him the remote, or change the clock batteries, for that matter.

There was a private hospital bed, somewhere, waiting for him, but he couldn't make the trip yet. At least, he couldn't do it without paying for a helicopter, and he didn't trust the F.U.N. to procure one safely for him.

Beep! 225.

Like a cyborg farting.

He chuckled at his own joke, not for the first or the last time. Chuckling hurts when your jaw is shattered, and being held shut. Or it would do, if not for the painkillers. But the fact that he was reduced to chuckling at fart jokes hurt him more than another few bullets in the right leg would.

He was Nicholas Francis, of the line of the Francis' of Edelmont in Ládan County. His older brother, Peter, would've been Duke of Edelmont, had the republicans not won the civil war over a century ago. He shouldn't be finding the sound of a piece of life-saving equipment amusing. And yet, that was what he was reduced to.

His noble sensibilities had come back to him as he lay there. A stiff upper-lip mentality was what he was aiming for. He was also upset at the rudeness of the outgoing President not to send him a card - a curious upset, given how much he despised the man. Yet, here he was, caring about the manners of his enemies.

The doctors had warned him of brain damage, but they hadn't spoken so bluntly. "Some elements of your personality may have grown, and others subsided."

Call me a freak if that's what you mean. He had thought. He was twice been criticised in the media for comments and actions that were perceived to be him making fun of people with disabilities. Right now, he wished more people would make fun. I'd rather it was said openly then have you all whispering things behind my back.

One reason he had turned the news off before the clock had broken, was because they were so nice about him. Nicer than they'd ever been when he was running for President, anyway! "Poor Nicholas Francis", "No justification for this", "appalling violence in our political arena". Say what you mean! he had wanted to shout at the camera. Say, "We hated him, and we're glad he's gravely wounded. Hopefully his life is fucked up.".

No such luck, not out of the establishment, anyway.

Yet, he supposed, that noble sensitivity would probably bawk at that anyway.

Beep! 226.

He didn't chuckle this time. He reasoned that the beeps were about 2 minutes away from each other. That would mean he hadn't been visited by anyone but a nurse full of contempt for him in over 7 hours. Oh, Soils, that's a long time! I must be going mad.

The brain damage problem popped back into his consciousness. One of the bullets that had missed him entirely had exploded upon hitting the frame of the door behind him, and shards of broken-up bullet had struck him on the back of the head - none of them with enough force to penetrate the skull, but still enough that he had gotten an extra dozen or so bumps in the ordeal.

He thought of his wife, Paulina. She had died 10 years ago, courtesy of a brain tumour. He remembered, how, shortly after brain surgery, which they had hoped would stop the damn thing, she mixed up words, people's names, and couldn't remember what things were for in the house. He wished himself dead, and not for the first time since the attack.

Beep! 227.

He cursed the greyshirts. Where was Morde? He had ordered the man killed, in a note to Groupier Ront, one of his most loyal senior officers. Ront had eaten the piece of note paper there and then, and nodded. That must've been 2 weeks ago. Had he even been there two weeks?

The calendar on the wall said it was the 18th of Nemem, but it had said that for 2 days, he was sure. And besides, Nemem was a month of the religious calendar. He didn't know what it meant, except that it coincided with October. Whether it was early October or late October, he didn't know. There was another calendar in the room, but he couldn't see it. Besides, the nurses had stopped updating either of them. He was being tortured and abused, but he knew it wasn't going to get any better any time soon.

He couldn't remember what Morde had done, but he remembered that he was responsible. At first he had thought Vern Darcy to be behind it, but apparently the driver hadn't been Vern's son after all. In fact, none of his officers knew who the driver had been. As for the police, he had written out for them a contrived version of events where he could suspect only that the assassins were external, and that he feared for the life of his close associate, Todd Morde. The police, too, couldn't find him, or hadn't looked. Nicholas didn't trust them. Obviously.

Several beeps later, and his most loyal officer made the overdue appearance, plus three lower-ranked greyshirts. Francis noted that one of them was bandaged, and had been bleeding from above the ear.

"Codenor, Leader, Friend. How have you been?"

Francis looked toward the clock, and made no motion to reach for his pen and notepad. Ront noticed the clock was wrong, and put the time forward by a little over an hour. Nicholas realised he had been vastly overestimating the passage of time. Ront didn't seem to notice that the clock wasn't working at all, so Nicholas grabbed his notepad and dropped it on his bed, just inside his line of sight. He carefully scrawled CLOCK BATTERIES" on the notepad, and Ront wordlessly handed the sheet to the lowest ranked of the four, who left the room.

Nicholas heard him gruffly shouting for batteries at the nursing station. That was loyalty and ignorance that money simply couldn't buy.

He wrote something else on his notepad, this time in the Brownite script: "MORD". He didn't want the police analysing his notepaper and finding the name of a dead man on them.

Ront shuffled from side-to-side.

"Yessir. I looked into your request. The Groupiers convened to fulfill the investigation into the attacks, and came to a similar conclusion to you, that the person who did it must've had insider knowledge."

Request! Nicholas thought. That was a red flag, immediately. But his bull wasn't able to give chase, or even make an angry noise.

Had he been deposed?

"Naturally, we have been searching for all who may have been involved, to question them. We believe the police followed similar lines of enquiry, and we are attempting to put them off the trail..."

Nicholas waited for the "but".

"We have found your associate, and close friend, Groupier Morde, who had, it seems been forced underground in the wake of the attacks.

-Groupier Morde!, he thought. Fearful thoughts entered his mind. The ranks of the Greyshirts were reflections of the military's own ranks. Groupier is roughly equivalent to the generals of other armies.

But Morde had been a political advisor, a trumped-up personal assistant. He had never had a greyshirt rank, as far as Francis had known. And Francis had known everything that went on in GreySec, right up until the election campaign.

What the f--- is going on?

"The Groupiers have convened an intrafactional meeting to lay bare the results of our investigation to all parties. There is much instability in the wake of the attack."

Called it without asking me? I'll bet there are instabilities. The F.U.N. had been Francis' baby for some time, but initially it had simply been a forum for dialogue between the many factions of the far-right in Higgins & Brown. They had mostly merged together, under his leadership, and those that hadn't were simply made irrelevant by the success of his organisation. But now... well, he was glad to hear that old rivalries and loyalties were popping up again without him. If they were to erupt in the wake of the attempt of his life, why, there might be more blood on the streets.

He wrote once again on his notepad. "WHO MADE DECISION"

Ront read it, his eyes giving nothing away.

"It was Altgroupier Mill's proposal, accepted by all of us." said Ront.

Nicholas wasn't aware of having raised any Groupiers up to that rank. He scrawled again on his notepad. "EXPEL HIM." Nicholas had the right and prerogative to expel any member of the organisation, as Leader.

Ront's eyes again gave nothing away, but he wasn't exactly compliant. The junior officer re-entered the room and whispered something into Ront's ear, before tending to the clock with some batteries he'd found. Ront turned to Nicholas.

"Yessir, I'll look into that, right away. For the mean time, you have a very special visitor. The Groupiers were in agreement that you should be kept informed of developments."

Nicholas wasn't sure what was going on at all. Had the Seglanders finally sent him an intelligence official? A bit late now, he thought.

The three junior officers left the room, apparently to clear the corridor for this visitor. Nicholas didn't doubt that the general movement of patients and staff was being held up between here and the hospital entrance, to hide this visitor from site. He felt simultaneously proud and afraid of the organisation he'd built.

Ront actually looked more nervous now it was just the two of them. He attempted small talk, which was in itself idiotic. "The doctors say you might be in here for a few months. I suppose you... already knew that."

Beep!

A knock at the door, and a whisper to Ront from a recruit. Ront said his goodbyes and left the room, leaving Nicholas to stare at the wall. That is, until Todd Morde invaded.

Nicholas braced his body, his feet moved and his torso shook from side-to-side. It was all he could to point his finger accusingly. Inside, he was incensed and also terrified. His eyes showed it more than anything else.

"Hello, Mr. Francis." Morde was calm and smiling. He wore an altered uniform of a greyshirt Groupier. Where others had closed jackets, its was in fact a suit jacket, and he wore the flag-coloured striped tie that F.U.N. public representatives wore on official business. Far from looking like he had been hiding out, or under any stress at all, he was looking better groomed and calmer than ever before. Nicholas shook again, in anger. Morde got the message.

"I'm afraid, Codenor, that I shall have to do the talking for the both of us today." He moved closer to the bed, on Nicholas' left side, where there was no threat of being struck. He took a seat. "I am really very sorry to see you like this. I am told that your attackers have been caught up by the police, and soon, whoever commissioned this farce will be apprehended.

"Unless of course something should happen to them, in the meantime. You and I know how careless the Border Police can be with their firearms. It has been a source of great resistance to your particular plans for extending their role, if I recall.

"Yes, I am afraid that soon there will be no witnesses at all to link the instigator of your demise to the actual attack. Even Groupier Ront, out there, is going to have to suffer for you telling him to kill me! I know, how unfortunate. He is most skillful, not that you would know. You don't concern yourself with the minutia of our operations.

"This is why you fail, if I am honest. You are too busy being a statesman. You play the game of the elites, because you are one, and that is why you cannot be the author of the next chapter in our nation's history.

"That is a book I must write. I had not realised it, until you gave me the authority over the greyshirts.

"You see, you had banned all communication with them, because you were afraid of being labelled a criminal during the campaign. I can think of no more irrelevant worry for the leader of a revolutionary organisation with a military wing.

"I was able to present to them my certification - from you - as Groupier and political leader of the greyshirt organisation. Me!"

Nicholas couldn't take his eyes of this man. This wasn't the Morde he knew.

"They accepted me, as they would accept any of your orders. They are slightly foolish. Like you, they hark back to the glory their families used to possess, or to an imaginary time when there were no arabs. They do not understand that the goal is to craft our own future. A society free from the ills of this decrepit present.

"You see, you have promoted many of your old friends, or their sons or daughters. Yet, they have recruited an army of passionate, ideological, revolutionaries, bound to the cause. I am one such person, and I have grown impatient with you.

"You were a great organiser Nicholas, but then, you were a great politician. But we have no need of great politicians. The change we seek will not be confirmed in television debates or by getting a majority to vote for us on the day. No, the change we seek will be the change we force.

"You cannot force change. Especially now. I will, however. I will lead us out of the cul-de-sac of electoral politics, and back into the streets where we belong.

"So there are two options, my esteemed Codenor. Your first option is to die quietly. It can be arranged. It will even be merciful. I have no personal animosity to you, only your determination to remain as paramount leader of our movement. If the assassins had only finished the job, you wouldn't have felt a thing, and that is how I wanted it.

"But I am a practical man, so there is a 2nd option. It is an option you should consider seriously. You will recover from this ordeal, in time. I am told you will never speak again. I hope you never speak of me, either, except in glowing terms. I could use a man like you in the future. A wounded hero. To keep our movement together, if things do not go to plan. You see, Nicholas, you and I, together, we are the elements that can bring this movement to greatness.

"I can lead it, it is my fate. You can inspire it, the choice for you, is whether you inspire it as a martyr, or as a grandee.

"But you can't lead it, and you can't tell anyone that your attack was an inside job. For my sake, and yours. Assuming that is, that you are committed to the movement you built not being destroyed in a bloody wave of infighting."

Morde stood up, buttoning up his jacket. he pulled something from his outer pocket.

"Ah, yes, I forgot. Your get well card. My wife has signed it also. There's still the question of course, of which option you will choose. 1 - you die. 2 - you live on, in my service."

Nicholas didn't think that was much of a choice at all. He scrawled a number on the notepad.

"Glorious." said Morde, taking the notepad.

"Your every need will be met by your new attendees, and a helicopter is en route to take you to Denbi where you will receive the very best in care. You won't be needing a notepad. Remember, Mr. Francis... my service. Rest assured, you will be accountable to me, and your very life will depend on me."

And with that he was gone, and for Nicholas, his life as he had known it was over.

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Ex-Nation

The Bet, The Club, and The Crush

Postby Nui-ta » Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:13 pm

Crivan found himself actually shaking a little as he prepared to make good on his bet with Sharina el-Hashem. The two were both currently serving conscription time at Fort San-Kalisto, in New Zanzes --- but with peacetime in the works, and the fact that Crivan worked behind the scenes as an intelligence grunt, pushing paperwork between officers and doing whatever research or monitoring that they demanded, he found himself with a relatively liberal lifestyle.

For a conscript, with a year left on his contract before he was free to pursue the rest of his life.

He lived on base in a dormitory which he shared with another Private. Same age, same rank, although Pavil worked in engineering. They had to share a bathroom and the main section of the dormitory, but since San-Kalisto was a newer base, it had newer floor-plans for enlisted dormitories. These new plans allowed for small single-occupancy bedrooms. It wasn't much space, and it wasn't anything luxurious, but at least he didn't have to split a bunk in one bedroom, like those of the previous generation.

He had to pull extremely structured and disciplined days, taking orders and being worked (usually mentally, but oftentimes physically as well) by Sergeants and senior officers. 12 hours every day: 0700 to 1900...but after that, he was allowed leisure time!

Sure, it was only two hours before lights out...but it seemed unrealistically liberal for such a militaristic country. Spoiled rotten! His father and uncles had laughed. Both you, and your sister! His sister had served her term as a conscript already, starting earlier than Crivan because immediate conscription was the tuition cost of an M-track school, unlike Crivan, who had opted for A-track instead.

Other than having to leave the country and get used to the colder weather of Detectatia, she'd had it just as easy. Of course, what were they expecting? The previous generation were all wartime soldiers. She...and he weren't.

And while he knew that deep down, his family appreciated the fact that his likelihood of having to actually fight in a battle was extremely low, he also wondered if that unlikelihood made him less of a man in some way. At his age, both of his uncles and his father had all served for years in a hellish civil war. They'd all seen terrible things that his own generation couldn't imagine, all toughed out injuries and hails of enemy bullets, and they'd likely --- no, definitely --- have had to kill someone before they'd reached his age.

Hell, at 24 (was he already twenty-four?!), his father had finished fighting in the Partition. He wasn't even the youngest one in the batch at that time.

Uncle Alec was younger...yikes!

And here Crivan was, on his day off (day off!), in the town of Tazima, just outside the base, at a comedy club, terrified of having to go on stage.

Damn. I'm a wimp.

Worse, the entire incident involving the bet that he'd lost (to Sharina of all people...) happened on recreational time that he spent with others in his batch. The lack of goings-on was what caused all this in the first place!

He sighed, reminding himself that it was a lot better than getting shot at, even if he did get embarrassed by a particularly beguiling young woman.

Wait. Did I just call her beguiling? What am I even thinking? He felt his face redden a little. He'd gone from being an awkward college freshman to a rather decent-looking young man with a degree and more muscle. Women were starting to notice him. He found himself apathetic to all of them.

Almost all of them...

He shook his head.

You're just thinking that because she got you. You're embarrassed. Nothing else, he told himself; although deep down he felt another voice, telling him that the previous thought was complete and utter bullshit.

"You're next," one of the workers told him, breaking him out of his internal thought prison with a tap on the shoulder, via a pen. "Get ready".

When he went up on stage, the mass of people didn't bother him. Most of them were just nameless, shapeless faces. He'd had stage-fright in college, when he was practicing the art of presenting legal arguments in front of a court --- one of his uncles snapped him out of it by mentioning that it was always easier to get through public speaking if you focused less on the people, and more on yourself.

There were a few faces he did recognize, though. Most of his co-workers and friends on-base. His roommate. And Sharina...

She looked right at him and gave him a malicious smirk. This was the woman who posted on CONFERO that she "looked forward to seeing you [him] squirm". She was definitely enjoying this.

The smirk was somehow seductive at the same ti---why am I even thinking that?!

Oh god...he sighed, closing his eyes, feeling the burn return to his face (hopefully no one noticed), and letting the trained presenter in him take over. The trained presenter that knew that all he had to do was convince people that he was funny enough to smile at, and not boo off stage. That was it.




"So," he began a bit nervously, "I'm a conscript. Wonderful place, San-Kalisto. My elders think I'm spoiled rotten because it's a shiny new facility, and because we're at peacetime. My wartime vets in the audience, by the way, I laud you. You've taken bullets, and my biggest battle out in New Zanzes so far has been not having you boo me off the stage".

A couple people chuckled a little. It was kinda funny, but he had to do better.

"But then again, hey, I'm from Sangaur. Lots of soldiers out there --- very conservative state, Sangaur. We do things a lot differently than the rest of Nui-ta. For starters, we're all assholes".

The crowd started snickering a little.

"I'm serious!" He said, "I mean, we're the most conservative state in Nui-ta. You have to have social considerations here that you wouldn't dream of anywhere else. For example, did you know that in Sangaur --- hell, you probably know this --- throwing a shoe at someone is considered a legitimate threat to their life?"

The other Sangaurites in the room started nodding their heads. Crivan explained for the benefit of the others in the room, "it's because a man once threw his shoes at a nobleman in disgust, back in the apartheid days, and the nobleman got mad and convinced lawmakers to make shoe-throwing a crime".

"Now think about that for a moment. Throwing a shoe is a crime. Do you know what intake at the prison must look like after a drunken argument at a bar?"

A couple people started laughing.

"The people in the jail cells are all talking to each other, 'so what are you in for?' 'Oh, I'm in for shanking a guy with a shard from a beer bottle'. 'Oh, I'm here for disorderly conduct'. 'What about you, small-fry in the last cell?' 'Oh...I threw a shoe'".

It was short, but there was more laughter than before.

Crivan sighed. "Knowing my luck, I'll be that guy.I'll be playing football or something and my shoe will fly off, and the next thing you know there's a cop tackling me to the floor --- "you are going to JAIL!"

"But officer, I didn't---"

Laughter. Oh good, they liked that one...

"I'm not all Sangaurite though. My mum's from Yevzar," he said, as the Yevzarites in the room all started cheering fuck yeah!.

If only they knew who my Mum was... he mused, as he bounced off of the momentum from the Yevzarites in the back, "yeah, Foroga City is one hell of a place. It's like Nui-ta's Midgard. We went as a family, my dad, my mum, my siblings, and I, to go see an uncle who lived out there at the time. Now keep in mind that my Dad's from nice, polished Sangaur. He's not used to anything in Yevzar --- and this street-food vendor walks up to us, trying to sell some street-food...I mean, why else would he be there?"

Laughter. "I mean," Crivan laughed a little himself, "I don't think he was trying to sell us Rolex watches or something, but Yevzar is one hell of a place, you never know..."

"Anyway, he looks right at us, all five of us, and he goes 'aye, you fucks, feeling hungry for some sandwiches?' My Dad is furious, has no idea that 'you fucks' is a customary greeting in Foroga, so Dad's thinking up ways to splatter the vendor on the pavement, and before he can do anything---"

He grinned, "---my Mum, all...what, 63 inches of her? 64? She was tiny as hell, lets just leave it there. My petite, sweet-looking mother breaks out the full Yevzarite reply, accent and all, and goes," Crivan went into a falsetto, 'aye, ya bastard, how much for 5 of tha' tings?"

There was definitely some levity in the air now. He wasn't worried about getting booed off stage anymore --- people seemed genuinely amused.

"Tiny-ass woman! Couldn't hurt a fucking fly. My dad's not used to hearing her talk like that --- he wasn't even used to her accent --- normally she'd say 'sure, how much for 5?" He was expecting pretty much anything else --- she could have flashed the vendor at that moment, tits, ass, and all, and my Dad would have been less surprised. Hell, I think we all would have been".

"So now we're all off guard, except Mum, who gets the reply from the vendor of, "10 Had each," and the very next thing we heard Mum say was --- imagine a tiny-ass woman who looked like the sweetest thing in the world --- we heard Mum say, "10 Had each? Ya fuckin cheat, do ya sell your sister for half as much?"

The crowd started laughing, while Crivan copied his father's then surprised face, which only added to the effect.

"At that moment, if I had to guess what my dad was thinking, it probably would have been something like, 'Did I hit my head somewhere?' And what made the whole thing all the more hysterical was that these two, the vendor and my Mum, start having a full-blown conversation that would shock the rest of Nui-ta".

"'Aye ma'am,' the vendor goes, 'I'll give you 8 Had a piece then. Same as I paid for your sister last night,' and my Mum --- completely unbothered, by the way, just...still all cute and cuddly looking, you would have thought she was chatting with an old girl-friend, goes, 'I dunno what ya fucked last night, ya ass, but I don't have a sister. 8 Had's a fair price'".

"The vendor is just nodding his head, going, 'yer brother in a dress then'". The crowd started to lose their composure and go into full fits of laughter. "'That'll be 40 Had altogether. Now who's paying, ya bitch, or ya son of a bitch?', as he's pointing between my Mum and my Dad. My Mum's pulling out 40 Had from her purse like nothing happened. My dad's in complete and total shock, just...not even knowing how to process what just happened".

"And we get the sandwiches, move over to some benches that were nearby, and we start eating. Dad's still dead quiet, and Mum looks at him and goes, completely nonchalant, 'Nice guy. Nice food. We should do this again'".

He waited for the crowd to cool down before going into what he had to say next.

"So, speaking of Yevzar, the recent election that took place, I'm sure you all heard about what happened in Yevzar?"

A few people booed. Crivan shook his head. "Yeah, I know. I booed too when I read the CONFERO post. I mean what the hell was Kulkanni thinking? Here he is, telling everyone how he thinks that women need to stay out of the military and make babies all the time, and it was beautiful. No, not him. The reaction. Everyone in the country, from hard-left CRP to the reactionary right in Derch and Gold all started digging into him. It was beautiful. For that whole week, there was no CRP. There was no Central. There was no Derch. Everyone's political beliefs just became 'yeah, fuck that guy'".

The entire crowd started laughing again.

"I mean not fuck that guy. This is a nation of military personnel, after all. He pretty much destroyed his chances of having women pay him any mind from now on. I don't think he's gonna get fucked for a while".

"But yeah, we're in New Zanzes, we know this better than anybody, but it has to be said for the benefit of the foreigners in this room, this is Nui-ta. You either serve in the military, or you can't serve. There's no choice like other countries where it's like 'hmm...maybe' --- no, if you're not gonna fall over and die in boot camp from sickness, then eventually you gotta take your turn. And for the most part, I think that's fair...but..."

"I'll give him this. It's not on gender lines, it's on toughness, but there are just some people who are healthy but just...shouldn't be in the military. Like, I knew this girl. I went to school with her. Really sweet girl, blonde hair, lilac eyes --- yeah, lilac. Not violet, not blue, not red, not ice. Lilac. It's because she was half Radiatian and half Hadinian".

The crowd laughed a little, making confused faces. Crivan nodded in solidarity. "I know. I know. Crazy mix. I've always looked at her parents like, 'how did...how did that happen? What witchcraft if this?"

"But yeah, really sweet girl. Very nice. Perfectly healthy --- but couldn't hurt a fly. Like, I wonder what that first day at boot camp would look like. I can picture it now, the roughest drill Sergeant they can find, going from Private to Private, like, 'YOU SICK SONS OF BITCHES. I'M GOING TO TURN EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU INTO WELL-OILED, WELL-DISCIPLINED KILLING MACHINES. YOU WILL NOT LAUGH. YOU WILL NOT CRY. YOU, I DON'T LIKE YOUR FACE!'"

The crowd laughed hard at "I don't like your face". Even Crivan felt himself tear up a little on that one. He could see Sharina rolling around in her booth, trying to remain composed and failing.

"I can imagine the Private just saying, 'Aye sir, sorry sir. I can't help it'".

"YOU CAN MAKE A LESS STUPID FACE, UNLESS YOU'RE JUST THAT DAMN STUPID!"

"Sir, I can't sir, that's just how my face is sir".

"WELL GET A NEW ONE!"

"Sir, I can't sir!"

"WHY THE FUCK NOT?!"

"Sir, it's attached, sir".

"He goes to the next one, 'YOU. DAMN YOU'RE TALL. I DIDN'T KNOW THEY STACKED SHIT THAT HIGH'".

"Then the next one, 'YOU, WHAT'S YOUR NAME?'"

"Sir, it's Daihasi, sir!"

"WELL FROM NOW ON, YOU'RE GONNA BE PRIVATE DINGBAT. YOU LIKE THAT DINGBAT?"

"Aye sir!"

"WHAT'S YOUR NAME SOLDIER?!"

"Dingbat, sir!"

"And then he gets to the next one, and its the girl I was telling you about, and even this hardened drill Sergeant will be like, 'YOU...wait'". Crivan went from screaming to adopting the kindest voice he could muster, "'Excuse me little girl? Are you lost? You poor thing, let me get you a plane ticket home..."

Crivan laughed, "and you know that person! We all know that one person in our lives, whether it's family, friends, male, or female, that even the most heartless soldiers are just like, 'n-no. I'm not an animal. I'm not sending them to fight the enemy. I'm not even sure they could fight a flu'".

The whole crowd was agreeing with him, sans one or two people who were heckling him, shaking their heads.

"Oh really?" Crivan retorted, "No, there's always that one person. If you can't name a person you know that is that person, chances are it's you!"

Laughter again. Sharina's face was going red. Crivan felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. He managed to not make a fool of himself. Quickly, he thanked the audience, mentioning that his time was up, before getting off stage and heading over to his friends.




People were smiling at him. His companions were all immediately high-fiving him.

"Holy shit man," his roommate said, "I didn't know you could perform like that..."

"That's what she said," Crivan laughed, still not quite off the comedic part of his brain. Everyone who heard that started laughing.

Crivan looked over at Sharina. "So, I didn't squirm. Sorry you couldn't enjoy that".

Sharina shook her head. "I think I enjoyed it anyway. I never imagined you to be so vulgar, i-Harendo".

She winked at him. "Then again, I like men who surprise me!"

Crivan felt heat return to his face. Crap, not this again.

He sighed, sitting next to her and attempting to play the next move as smooth as possible. "Surprised you, eh?"

She grinned. "It's always so much more fun when men are interesting. Gives me more of a challenge when I'm mean to you all".

Everyone snickered a little, while Sharina added, "though tonight you win Crivan. That was actually pretty good".

She looked over at him. "You should do that more often, actually".

"You couldn't pay me enough," he chuckled, although deep down, he did find it enjoyable once he'd gotten his bearings.

"Daw, not enough money? How about I make more bets with you?"

"I don't make the same mistake twice," Crivan smiled. So far so good...

Sharina sighed. "I don't know what else to do with you". Her eyes narrowed, and the smirk returned to her face. Crivan could see her face also tint just a little towards the pink side.

"How about a kiss?"

Crivan suddenly knew his face was visibly scarlet. The others were chuckling and making lewd comments.

Sharina leaned in, close to him. He could feel her breath on his face. Half of him wanted to go for it and kiss her back, and the other half just wanted to get the hell out of there.

Despite every urge to lean in and take the kiss, he tilted his head away from hers at the last second.

"A-Alright, alright," he sighed, "I'll do it. Next day off, two weeks from now. We'll come back..."
Last edited by Nui-ta on Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Hadin
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 163
Founded: Feb 19, 2012
Ex-Nation

Just A Man

Postby Hadin » Thu Dec 24, 2015 2:28 am

She won't make it through the week. She's too weak to survive a corrective surgery.

The doctors were talking to Seneca Patrocia about his wife. She'd just had her seventh child, a young infant male by the name of Alexei. Karol's pregnancy this time around had been a rough one, and due to complications in labor, it was clear she wasn't going to last very long.

Seneca took some comfort in the fact that Alexei was healthy, but wondered how he, a 54-year-old man, was going to manage raising a young boy when his wife wouldn't be around, especially considering that Alexei did not see much benefit for himself in marrying again. A good wife was going to cost a good sum. Until Alexei grew old enough to start learning his duties as a man, he'd need a mother to manage him as a small child. Hadin was not a country where men could expect to make good caretakers --- they were socially expected to be the rulemakers, breadwinners, and discipline of the house.

Seneca would be an old man as well, when Alexei became a man himself. Even with money to pay a hefty bride price for another wife, he'd have to worry about supporting that wife and several of his children as well, not to mention possible future children from the next union. If he didn't get some young thing who'd want a child of her own, he'd be stuck with an older one --- probably a widow --- with children from her prior marriages to look after. If not for those two options, he was now stuck on his own with a couple young children and a newborn baby.

Being relatively wealthy, Seneca wasn't afraid of not being able to live a long life, or financially providing for them. He had access to good food and good medical care --- but one could never really know the will of God.

Just look at Karol, he sighed. His wealth wouldn't change her predicament. All Seneca could do now was follow through with Karol's wish to see a few friends of the family before she died.

As much as he believed in the patriarchy --- as much as he believed that women weren't entitled to authority in most matters of their lives --- allowing Karol to see a few people she cared about before her time ran out was apt payment for the time she'd spent as his wife. The bride price had been for her father, but this request would be for her. This was the least he could do.

He wasn't too surprised to see Envoy Fiete Nikastro show up a couple of days later. Back in the days when women could still attend school, both Fiete and Karol had gone to school together, although they weren't classmates, as the classes were segregated by gender. They saw each other during recreational time, helped each other study, and forged a life-long friendship.

Karol would need a priest anyway. Seneca found it a bit nice to see that Karol would be getting her last rites from someone of such rank as prestigious as Envoy.

When Fiete walked through the door, Seneca made sure to give them a bit of privacy. He knew Fiete long enough himself to know that Fiete was a pious man --- a man he could trust, left along with a woman.




Fiete walked into the room where Karol was laying, on her bed, made a sign with his hand in the air, and sat down on the edge of the bed, looking down at her.

She looked up at him.

"When was the last time you gave last rites, Envoy Nikastro, if I could ask?"

"Karol, please," Fiete snickered a bit. "You've known me long enough. You can call me Fiete". There wasn't any romantic attachment or ulterior motive in him having said that. People saw him only as an Envoy these days only. They forgot he was just a man at one point in his life. A man who had family: parents and siblings, although he himself had never married. A man who had friends,like Karol, before the days where he'd gone after power.

Just a man --- with doubts, and fears, and personal concerns, like anyone else. This was not government business. This was not business of the church, other than the administration of last rites. This was simply Fiete saying goodbye to a childhood friend. He smiled at her. She smiled at him. They were back in school for a moment; Karol was tutoring him again with his writing.

And then they were back in the present. Karol was looking up at him weakly.

"I haven't given them since I became a Bishop," Fiete remarked. "That was quite a few years ago". He was 44 years old now. Bishop had been several years ago.

"Your stellar rise has been wonderful to watch," she chuckled. "Per aspera, ad astra".

"Indeed," Fiete smiled, before putting on his best priestly voice and moving forward with the job at hand.

"Do you accept the teachings of Septima?" Fiete asked.

"Yes".

"And are you in legitimate fear that your death is imminent?"

"Fear, no," Karol said sagely. "Expectation, yes".

"How noble," Fiete smiled. "But...it's okay if you are afraid, Karol. I would be as well".

"We are all going to die someday, Fiete. What's important is that we finish our business in life before we go. As far as we can be assured of that..."

"I wish I had that level of quiet resolve," Fiete smirked, before continuing, "and are you willing to accept your last rites, as the bridge between your life in this world, and the hereafter?"

"Of course".

"Then let us begin with your penance. Please confess your sins".

"To god, none that I'm consciously aware of. I have believed, my whole life. I have not missed any mandatory observances, without extenuating reasons. I have done all I could to instill obedience to God into my children. If there are sins I have unconsciously done, I would seek forgiveness for those".

"Those are the easiest to forgive," Fiete mused, as Karol continued.

"To the state, I admit I have held a bit of resentment in my heart, though I cannot think of a situation in which that anger has manifested in my actions. My conscious sins are in my mind, only".

"And for what reason have you held resentment?"

"When we were young, Fiete, I had high hopes for my future. You remember. I studied very hard to better myself. I wanted very badly to become a teacher in a university. I never got that chance when the new government took order and stripped me of my rights to work. I was forced to marry almost immediately. I wanted peace, so I went along with it, but deep down, for my own losses, I was always a bit angry. I would like to confess that resentment and that sin".

"Have you ever disobeyed the state's duties for you, which the government and the church issued?"

"I never disobeyed. I merely resented them".

"Did you ever encourage disobedience in your children?"

"No".

"Then frankly," Fiete shrugged, "I don't see that as a significant sin. In the interest of enforcing the fact that it is technically a sin, and a grievance against the state, I suppose I should ask you to offer penance".

"What sort of penance?" Karol asked, expecting Fiete to ask her to declare her resentment to others --- an act of humiliation for such minor infractions against the state, which was held next to God itself in Hadin.

"Your penance for this sin shall be..." Fiete thought to himself, seeking the lightest punishment he could issue under his authority.

"...one recitation of the Creed. In private. When I'm gone".

"And then?"

"And then it's forgiven". He smiled at her. "You've done too much good so far, I think, for me to really hold it against you. Any other sins against the state?"

"None I am conscious of, and I seek forgiveness for any others".

"Fair. Against your family?"

Karol smiled. "I have a decent man for a husband. He may be authoritarian at times, per the rules of this society...but I'm a lucky woman. He was strict, but never cruel. With my children, I regret nothing, and I did all I could to instill as much goodness in them as possible. I've never consciously done any sins against my husband or my children. I never consciously resented or disobeyed my husband. I've never consciously instilled any disobedience in my children. Anything I have done wrong was not willingly, and I seek forgiveness for it. I've done all I could. And no, no feelings of anger. No feelings of lust. No perversions. Nothing".

She teared up a little.

"What makes you cry at the mention of your family?"

"Only regret. I don't resent God for what's happened here. Still, I can't help but feel quite sad..."

Fiete felt a small lump in his throat. He did his best to once again put on a business-like mask.

"One recitation of the Creed for your conscious sin, when you are are alone, for absolution. All other sins are hereby absolved immediately. I think we can conclude penance".

He looked at her sincerely. "Tell me what your regrets are".

"I really don't want to burden you with them, Fiete. They're just a mother's concerns..."

He leaned in a little, looking directly into her eyes.

"Let me help you. I have enough authority where I'm sure I can, and I wouldn't be here if not for you".

"Why me? I'm just some woman, Envoy Nikastro, you can't concern yourself with me..."

"You're the classmate who spent countless hours teaching me how to improve my reading and writing. I wouldn't be able to do this job quite as well without you. I know women don't get a lot of acknowledgment in society here, but deep down I think you should know that I'm no less grateful just because of your gender. What you did for me was something I won't forget. So let me help you".

She sighed.

"My first regret is that I'll never see Alexei grow up. He's going to go through this world alone, with no mother to tell him that he loves him. And this country --- it's harsh. You know as much as I do that the state will take him when he's old enough and demand him to grow hard. They'll demand his life and his allegiance. They'll demand he be willing to fight and die for it".

"Are you saying he shouldn't? That's quite a dangerous thing to say --- that someone should be exempt from the duties set for them by the church and state".

"I never said he should be exempt. I don't resent the fact that those duties are there. As a mother...as his mother, I'm just expressing my concern that he won't have someone to be soft with him. All human beings need that as well".

"He has his father".

"I've heard Seneca in the hallways," Karol whispered ominously. "Seneca has wealth, and Seneca cares about Alexei, but Seneca won't be alive forever you know, and he's already an older man. What happens when Alexei comes of age and has to look for guidance from an infirm man, or worse, a dead one? Those aren't my words, those are Seneca's".

"Seneca can manage, I'm sure," Fiete tried to re-assure her.

"Seneca has a plan for him and Cecilia," Karol whispered, referring to her eldest child, a daughter by the name of Cecilia. "But it worries me," she added.

"You know how hard it has been for Cecilia to be married? Due to her blindness? At first glance, you would think that men of our society would adore a young woman who literally can't see for herself, but because she can't do as much for herself, these men don't want to help her. They don't see the use in a woman who can't cook well, or can't clean well. Only the richer men of society can oftentimes hire people to do those kinds of things in lieu of their wives, and you know how cruel those older men can be. They'll be far too hard and cruel with her because they'll think all she's good for is her looks and her womb. Combine this with the fact that Seneca is asking men to take Alexei in, in the event that he can't care for Alexei himself, and...he's had to lower her bride price considerably, and all he can get is a man by the name of Celino Holst. That man's been through three wives already, and he's not known for being kind to his children. I can't imagine sending blind Cecilia and young Alexei to the authority of someone more beast than man..."

"You object to this?"

"I merely have concern for their well-being. I don't care what it takes, I would just want to know that no matter what happens to them, they'll both not have to suffer. Celino Holst, or no Celino Holst".

She sighed. "I've said too much Fiete. I sound quite dissident, yes? What should be my penance for that sin?"

"No, you sound like a concerned mother. Last I checked, that was a virtue, not a sin".

He gave her a forced smile. "It'll be alright. I'm not sure how, but I'll...I'll find some way to ensure you don't have to worry for their well-being. Alright? You rest easy. At the very least, I know I can keep an eye on Celino Holst. If he does anything to abuse Cecilia or Alexei...I promise I'll make it known they have a friend in a high place..."

He felt a bit prideful about making such a boastful promise. The affairs of another man weren't really his to deal with, if they didn't interfere with his authority in government. In his head, he started thinking of penance for himself.

When Karol smiled at him, he felt a bit of forgiveness in the air.

"Anything you do, I would appreciate, if it keeps them safe. Anything at all".

She wept a little. "Thank you".

"Of course, old friend".

He got up. "I've got to go, Karol. I've lots of other business to attend to --- but it was good to see you at least one last time. All the best".

He quickly made another sign in the air, speaking officially as he gave her a blessing.

In nomine Septima, te absolvo a peccatis tuis. Peto pacem in hac infirmitate, ut robur detur agere tenebræ hora. Cum tempus fuerit ut lux illustret. (In the name of Septima, I absolve you of all your sins. I wish you peace in your time of weakness, and the strength to face your darkest hour. And when your time comes, may the light shine upon you).

And then, feeling the Envoy, the priest, and the authority figure in him fade away for a moment, he spoke simply as Fiete Nikastro.

...et, sis felix. (...and, be happy).

He sighed, feeling a bit embarrassed for having that more personal hope slip out of his lips. He chided himself for a moment for how unprofessional those last three words were.

"Oh, and don't forget you need to say your Creed when I leave. Goodbye, Karol".




"Excuse me," Fiete asked, as soon as he saw Seneca, upon stepping out of Karol's room. "She'll need a moment or two alone to complete a small penance. In the meantime, do you mind if we speak for a moment? I'd like to inquire about your son".

Seneca nodded. "Of course, Envoy Nikastro. What about Alexei?"

"How old is he now?"

"Two days".

"My, my. Quite young. How is he getting fed and looked after with Karol in this condition?"

"I've got a hired nurse in to look after Alexei's needs, and I've been able to procure formula from the hospital to keep him fed".

"So his immediate physical needs are met?"

"To the absolute best of my ability, Envoy. Why do you ask?"

"Well, as a priest, doing last rites, you know I hear the confessions of the dying. Not only their sins, mind you, but also concerns that weigh heavily on their heart. Alexei was one of Karol's concerns, and I felt obliged to ask".

"Well thank you very much, Envoy, that was quite nice of you. She's concerned about not being able to care for Alexei?"

"Extremely. I've reassured her as best as I could".

"Would you like to see Alexei? Given the hard life he's got ahead of him...Envoy, I was actually going to ask, if you'd be so kind, to bless the child?"

Fiete wasn't expecting that. He did his best to look as nonchalant as possible as he agreed and motioned for Seneca to lead the way. In the meanwhile, he took a deep breath before moving in with his own thoughts on the matter.

"So neither Karol nor yourself are quite as young as you used to be. I went to school with Karol. I know she's my age, and I'm 44. You are?"

"54. Good heavens, I'll be 68 when Alexei puts his childhood behind him --- even older when he'll be a full-fledged man, if I'm still alive --- ugh. I can't imagine being of any real use to him. I've had no choice but to lower my daughter's bride price even further, given that I'm looking to pass Alexei over to someone more able to take care of him, and I have to throw incentives at men just to get them to look at him".

"Have you had any offers? Karol mentioned someone by the name of Celino Holst. How old is your daughter, anyway?"

"My daughter Cecelia is 20. Still young, but girls younger than her already have matches made, so it is a little concerning. Part of the trouble is that she's blind, so she's a bit helpless. Celino Holst doesn't come from a particularly wealthy or notable family, so he's basically jumping on the opportunity to get a young wife with a good reputaiton for cheap. You know how the marriage business works".

"I set the price for 2,000 Dir, originally, but with Alexei's arrival unto the stage I've had to make it 1,000. It's a shame too --- both of my children are worth much more than that, I think".

"1,000 Dir," Fiete marveled, shaking his head. "Goodness, that's cheap for a wife".

"We're here," Seneca said quickly, opening the door to another room, which he'd been leading Fiete towards as they conversed. "Alexei's in here".

As Seneca opened the door, Fiete saw a small baby, wrapped up carefully in a few blankets, cooing in the arms of a very beautiful, blonde, young woman with long, curly hair, and misty, unfocused lilac eyes. This woman was clearly Cecilia Patrocia. There was an older woman, the hired caretaker, standing by and watching the two Patrocia youths, but Fiete hardly noticed her. His knees had nearly buckled when he saw Cecilia.

That woman is only 1,000 Dir?! Fiete thought to himself. He reminded himself quickly of the fact that the price took account of Alexei's inclusion into the deal, but then further reminded himself quickly that even without Alexei, the price for Cecilia was only 2,000 Dir.

"Sweet children," Fiete mumbled quietly. "Erm, when's the wedding?"

Cecilia's face twitched with a bit of fear, as she looked up in Fiete's direction.

"Uh...um...hello Mr. Holst..." she said meekly. There was obvious fear in her voice. There was also a bruise on her right temple --- one that Fiete sincerely doubted came from Seneca.

"Oh," Seneca said. "You needn't worry Cecilia. That's not Mr. Holst. This is Envoy Fiete Nikastro. Did you know your mother is friends with an Envoy?"

There was a bit of calm in Cecilia's voice. "Ah. Nice to meet you, Envoy Nikastro. I'm Cecilia Patrocia...I guess I'm supposed to be," she paused, a bit of unhappiness in her voice, "...Cecilia Holst in a few days".

"Only a few days?" Fiete said.

"Erm, yes. Five days, to be exact. I've had no better offers, and she's got to be married off sometime or else it will never happen. Plus, he's willing to look after Alexei as well". As Seneca said that, Fiete could see Cecilia's arms wrap a bit tightly around Alexei. Protectively.

Great, Fiete thought to himself. I don't even know Celino Holst and I really hate him.

"Anyway, Envoy, I don't mean to press you, but about that bless---"

"No".

Seneca's eyes widened. "I-...I'm sorry?!"

"No blessing is going to help either of them," Fiete said, the authoritarian side of him returning. "And I don't give blessings that I know will be useless. To do such would fly in the face of my office, wouldn't it?"

He looked over at Cecilia again. "Cecilia, what happened to your head?"

Silence.

"I am asking you, child, what happened to your head. And as an Envoy, I'm compelling you to answer me with the truth, so help you God".

"...I made Mr. Holst a bit angry when I asked him if he'd help me tie my hair. I had a bit of trouble with the ribbon".

"He, erm..." Seneca sighed, "...said something about her being vain to ask for help with her looks if she couldn't see them for herself".

"You've got to be kidding me," Fiete sighed. Okay Karol, I get it. No wonder you were so worried. What a disgusting human being.

Seneca gulped a little. "Erm...Envoy Nikastro, are you sure? About the blessing? Given their...situations..."

"20,000 Dir," Fiete deadpanned. Suddenly he felt a pang in his chest, as he wondered what the hell was coming over him.

"...Wha-?"

"20,000 Dir. I'd like to out-do Mr. Holst's offer," Fiete said.

"WHAT?!" Fiete could hear everyone in the room yell. Seneca suddenly went from groveling to exuberant.

"E-E-Envoy...you can't be serious". Despite trying to maintain a bit of modesty, it was obvious that Seneca preferred anything to the prospect of Celino Holst taking Cecilia and Alexei. Having official ties to an Envoy --- a powerful one, at that, likely wasn't hurting anything.

"I can pay you right now," Fiete said, even though the words were just flying out of his mouth. "That's the offer for the girl and the baby. My only condition is that they never see this...Celino Holst, again. Either of them".

"Oh...Oh my gods...I...I have to tell Karol..."

Fiete nodded. "Go ahead," he said calmly. In his head, he was screaming at himself.

Did I really just offer to buy a wife?! She's half my age! He was doing more than screaming at himself internally --- he was kicking himself as well. Sure, it wasn't going to hurt his image to get a wife --- some of the other Patricians had actually criticized him for being such a solitary man. Getting married was only going to make him look better, not worse. Getting married to a young, pretty, meek woman who would be very dependent on him was probably even better than that.

But that wasn't why he was doing it. As pretty --- no, beautiful --- as Cecilia was, it wasn't out of lust either. It was true, he found himself wanting her a bit, but Nikastro didn't personally believe in coercing women into sexual submission, even though becoming Cecilia's husband would essentially guarantee him quite the authority over her.

And there was nothing to gain with Alexei thrown in. That was merely buying a burden off of Seneca. So why was he doing it?

Because it's the right thing to do. It guarantees them freedom from abuse. It guarantees them good lives. That will help them more than any blessing.

He felt a conflicting voice enter his head. You are the Envoy...possibly the High-Envoy soon, of Hadin! Any blessing you give these people would reassure them for life!

And then the first voice, again, You're not God, you idiot. A blessing from you won't help them. Remember that you are just a man.




Cecilia and Fiete were married within 48 hours of that moment in time. A ceremony had been postponed, given Fiete's busy schedule and the rush to file paperwork to get Cecilia and Alexei in Fiete's custody, rather than Celino's.

Seneca and Karol had consented immediately --- Karol had actually called Fiete back into the room and exhausted much of her energy in thanking her profusely.

It was just an impulsive decision. It was likely even selfish of me, Fiete groaned to himself, the whole way through. Stop treating me like I'm some kind of savior, Karol, I'm just a man.

Of course, she didn't. Even when she died, the day after the wedding, she was speaking benedictions of him with every last breath. All her worries had disappeared, and she died without a care in the world. Fiete envied her a little for that.

Deep down he knew he had done a good thing. He could hire a caretaker for Cecilia and Alexei easily, with his power and money. He could probably hire caretakers for them both. He was far more likely than Seneca to be capable as a father-figure in 10 years time, or longer, to Alexei...and while he did have certain expectations for Cecilia, they only involved not disgracing him --- "just don't make me look bad," he told her, "stay away from trouble".

If she didn't want him in any other regard, he wasn't going to push himself on her, literally or figuratively. The wedding night had been chaste, partially because Fiete was too nervous to even try, partially because of young, sheltered Cecilia's total innocence, and partially because both of them had spent the better part of the night being kept up by a combination of anxiety, and Alexei having an episode of colic.

Alexei Patrocia-Nikastro actually doesn't sound too bad. And I like the sound of Cecilia Nikastro...for some reason... Fiete mused, trying to do what he could to help Cecilia keep Alexei calm.

At four in the morning, Alexei's colic finally subsided. Oh, merciful heaven, thank Septima, Fiete could feel his inner-self yell. He made a mental note to himself to expedite the hiring of a caretaker, before rolling over in bed next to Cecilia and almost falling asleep immediately from exhaustion.

"Maritus mea..." he heard Cecilia say. (My husband...)

He turned his head to look into her eyes, being met with her own open but unseeing eyes, that somehow still managed to pierce him.

"Yes?"

"Thank you".

"For?"

"Taking us both away from Celino. He was frightening".

"I figured that, seeing the bruise on your head. What an a---erm. What a despicable human being".

Don't curse in front of your wife, idiot. He found it odd that he was now referring to an actual, living, woman as his wife. Even for a male, forty-four years of age was a bit late for one's first marriage in Hadin. He'd practically given up by now.

"And you took Alexei in too. You even helped me with him". Cecilia smiled. "You're a good person. Not many men are like you".

She reached her hand out, slowly, towards his face. Her fingertips touched his brow.

"Eh," Fiete blushed, feeling incredibly awkward. "What are you...?"

"I want to see you".

"You...want to see me?"

"This is how I see people".

"Ah". Fiete said. "Very well then". Is my face going warm? I hope not.

"Your face is very warm," she mused. Shit, Fiete sighed to himself.

She moved closer to him.

Maritus mea... she said, although he could sense, behind her sweetness, a huge amount of fear in her voice.

"We don't have to do that," he said quickly. "Not unless you actually want to".

Cecilia stopped inching towards him, and gave an expression that betrayed both her relaxation and genuine confusion.

"Oh," she said quickly. "Thanks! I...was really hoping..."

"Don't worry," he sighed. "Like I said, just don't get into trouble. You'll make me look bad. Otherwise, do as you wish".

She smiled at him. "Really?!"

"Really..."

"You really are a good person," she smiled. "A really good Envoy..."

No. Just a man trying not to be an ass... he thought to himself in reply. The only thing he said out loud to her was "get some sleep", before shutting his eyes. "I've got to work tomorrow. You and Alexei can come with me since I won't have a caretaker ready yet...I mean obviously not with me to the Council, but stay nearby where I can come check on you".

The next morning, Fiete got up. He woke Cecilia up, instructing her to get dressed in a rather formal outfit that he'd picked from what she'd brought with her. While she dressed herself, he got himself ready, and then carefully dressed Alexei and wrapped him up as well.

"We'll be going to down-town Kopurauth for the day. I've got an office where I work I'll be in and out of, between meetings with the Council of Patricians. Obviously, I can't really have you with me for the meetings, but I can send a nun in to check on you, and you can use my office while you're alone to rest with Alexei. Maybe sometime in the middle, when things are quiet, you can meet some of the other Envoys".

"Are they friends of yours?" Cecilia asked innocently.

"A couple. Not all of them. I'll try and keep you away from the more idiotic, senile members of the bunch. My best advice to you if we meet anyone is not to speak unless I let you --- no offense, but these men can be quite judgmental and I don't want you stuck in a pinch".

"Yes...my h-"

"You can call me Fiete in private," he added. That was unusual --- it wasn't the done thing in Hadin these days for a woman to take her husband's name when addressing him, unless they'd been married for a long time.

She blushed a little. "Erm...yes. Fiete".

"I've got formula all set up that your parents prepared for Alexei. It's in bottles. You know how to do the rest, I take it".

"I've fed Alexei before".

"Good. The nun can help you if he needs a change. After work, we'll seek out a more permanent caretaker". He stopped talking. Cecilia was having trouble with her hair.

"I should...maybe just leave it loose," she said. "Mr. Holst was right. It's a bit vain of me to focus on my looks when I can't see myself".

Fiete walked over to her, handing Alexei over to her so he could free his own hands. "Don't listen to him ever again. Don't even bring up his name, actually. I have quite the low opinion of this Celino Holst".

She blushed a little, feeling a childish comment slip from her lips. "Jealous?"

"Any man who hits a blind woman without very, very good reason is an evil one in my book, whether there are laws about that, or not. Unless you attacked him with a knife, frankly, what he did was too aggressive for my liking". He noticed that Cecilia had already brushed her hair. All that needed to be done was to tie it off.

"Besides, vanity is when you obsess over your looks needlessly. Trying to simply tie your hair off is not obsession --- it's the done thing for married women to up-do their hair anyway, right? A simple braid is normal, not indulgent".

He blushed a little. "Er, sorry. Do you want a braid?"

She blushed back. "Whatever you think looks good on me, I guess, Fiete". Her face was going quite red, with that last comment. "Do you know how to do hair?"

"Well I can't do the more complex fashions, but I've had younger sisters. I've helped them with their hair before. When I was your age, society was a bit less divided". He found himself loosely braiding her hair, before tying the braid into a coiled bun around the back of her head. Nothing fancy, but decent-looking at the same time.

"Besides, Holst doesn't know what he's talking about. You look very nice with minimal effort. God-given looks are a divine gift in of themselves".

Cecilia went bright-red. "Eh...ah...thank you. I think you look nice too..."

"I'm not all that much of a looker," Fiete mused, picking up one bag with documents of importance, and another with Cecilia and Alexei's items inside. He guided Cecilia (with Alexei) out the front door, and continued speaking to her as he locked up and called a cab-driver for a ride to the main governmental building.

"I mean, I suppose I'm not ugly, but I'm not gorgeous," he laughed a little. "I'm a bit plain, and a little gray". He thought to himself over a few emerging wrinkles and a couple of gray hairs that he had. The winter of his life had yet to reach him, but spring was definitely over.

"You've got a few muscles on your arms," Cecilia mused. "I thought old men didn't have muscles".

"I was in the military for a while," Fiete elaborated. "Some of those muscles are gone now, but the ones in my arms are still there a bit. I try to maintain myself a little".

The drive to the governmental building was quick --- its bottom floors held a large cathedral, but the upper portions of the building gave way to many offices and meeting rooms for the ecclesiastical elite of Hadin. Fiete found a nun on the second floor, gave her instructions to watch over Cecilia and Alexei's needs, and then escorted the three of them into his office.

"I'll be here for a little while, getting set up for the day," he elaborated, slipping Cecilia a couple pieces of paper. "This is some money if you need it, for whatever reason. The phone's on the desk if you need to reach me in an emergency. You already have my number memorized?"

"5821501," she smiled.

"Good girl," he nodded, pulling out a piece of plastic and handing it to her as well. "This is your new ID card --- remember the picture you had to sit for the day we got married? This will identify you as my wife. It's good for getting free food in a cafeteria in the other room, in case you get hungry. Perks of being an Envoy's wife, stuck in the building all day with me. Sister Ribila over here can get you to and from there".

He handed the nun some money. "That's for you, sister, as payment for the day for your own needs. Vow of poverty or not, I know nuns get hungry too, and since they aren't the wives of Envoys, they don't get the free food perk, so that should help with that issue". The sister thanked him quietly.

He pointed at the bag with Alexei and Cecelia's things. "Everything for Alexei is there. Things to keep him clean, and formula for if he gets hungry. A lot of it is pre-mixed. The instructions are on the box if you need anymore made, and Cecilia knows how to make it as well, she just needs help manipulating the container. All that's required in that case which isn't already there is hot water".

Fiete spent the next half-hour organizing himself for the day's business, fumbling through his documents and some books for some last-minute research on government matters of various importance. He looked for a book or two for Cecilia, but quickly reminded himself that she couldn't read. She'd been educated a little, and could read Braille --- he didn't have anything like that laying around though.

Finally, he turned on a television. "Listen to whatever you wish," he sighed. "I've got to go now. I'll come back and see you on break for lunch".

With that, he left. Alexei was sleeping soundly in his sister's arms. Cecilia was seated, listening to a news broadcast on the television, about a group of dissidents in Suile-Blan, angry with the lack of civil rights in the country. The nun was now staring at Cecilia Nikastro, and Alexei Patrocia-Nikastro, incredulously --- after all, unlike Fiete, they couldn't see her do it.

And she couldn't believe that she had seen such a powerful Envoy, a scion of God himself, as just a man. A decent, responsible man.
Just so you know, this nation, in character, is a highly sexist, highly theocratic, and highly authoritarian state. (Though under the new guy, it seems to be improving a little).

I disagree with a lot of what this nation stands for. It was invented for its intrigue and ample opportunities for satire, not for its ideals.

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Higgins and Brown
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Founded: Sep 02, 2013
Ex-Nation

The Raid on Ramblus

Postby Higgins and Brown » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:54 am

In the depths of the Qudiashud jungle, Sentier [Captain] Elán Wolf was in a ditch crouched next to her field radio operative. The Higgins-Brownite Republican Armed Forces were pretty paranoid about modern technology, and for this mission her platoon had been stripped of all mobile devices, leaving her with a field radio and a codebook. She now awaited the confirmation order. The way before her was otherwise clear.

Assuming the order came through, she would await 3 OH. The RAF used the orthodox calendar sometimes on special missions, but especially for using times of the day. 3 Orthodox Hours was equivalent to about 3.45am in the 24-hour day, but only those with specially produced watches, standard in the RAF, would know that. The RAF still used this sparingly, in case the Algrabadis or anyone else ever thought it worth their time investing in 19-hour day watches. Slight variations in codewords would indicate whether time was being given in 19- or 24- hour modes.

At 3 OH she would lead a 24-man squad across the dirt track road and down a treacherously sleep slope. Awaiting them at the bottom of the slope was a checkpoint along a main road. The checkpoint consisted of gates across the road, a pedestrian processing tunnel and a small barracks. About 15 or Algrabadi soldiers were currently manning this checkpoint. As with most checkpoints manned by the Algrabadis, the gates were open and the pedestrial tunnel unmanned. The slope actually ended at a small overhang, a 15m straight drop from ground-level. The road was bordered on both sides by this feature, the ground having been dug out when it was first laid, back before the 2nd Algrabadi War, before Higgins & Brown had controlled this area.

The soldiers on the roof would hopefully be distracted by fire from another squad, aiming down the road, away to the North. B60 (Military Intelligence) had suggested that between 4 and 5 where playing lookout on the roof at any one time. Her squad's silenced weapons would silence them if they were distracted. Otherwise, a few grenades would do. The trees here were thick enough to withstand anything from the Algrabadi standard issue RP-44 assault rifle, so the squad would be safe enough on the slope, able to do anything but retreat. The sheer density of those trees in the area was what was preventing a aerial strike.

Once the roof was cleared, they would use crossing boards - fancy planks of wood - to gain access to the roof. They would have to destroy any antennae that might be used for communications first, and quietly. However, the best they could hope for was to delay any message.

B60 had briefed them well on what to expect inside. Enter the tower. Spiral Staircase. First room - small ammunition store, no guard. Second room - Machine-Gun nest, 2 soldiers inside, facing North. Hopefully easy kills, if they're responding to the distraction. Inside the MG nest, a manhole to a room below, probably used as an office. Next room on the staircase - general store, probably 2 guarding. If possible, attack this simultaneous to the MG Nest. Once both rooms secure, drop a grenade down the manhole as the assault continues. Another MG nest next, this one facing south and likely unusued, perhaps even locked. From here the spiral staircase ends at a corridor, with Officer's Quarters, Dining Room, Comms room and a bathroom all leading off, and a few offices. Two staircases lead down from each end of the corridor. Securing the rooms here will be difficult, but the Comms room is the priority. followed by the Officer's Quarters and gaining positions to cover the staircases. From here, the engineers will load one end of the building with explosives, and apply a timed pressure trigger. Retreat up the stairs and get out off the roof within two minutes. The resulting explosion should collapse the tower and the ceilings of the 2nd floor. The next job was simply to pick off or pacify the survivors, and re-unite with the other squad.

From there, the platoon's next primary objective was the police station, 1 km down the road, in the village of Ramblus. One team would hold the checkpoint and guard any prisoners taken. The rest would get to the town in 20 minutes at a quick pace. B60 estimated that Algrabadi reinforcement, coming from further south, would not reach the town for 40 minutes after a signal was sent from the Barracks. They would make a judgement on whether that was achievable after destroying the barracks.

The police station too they knew the rough layout of, and it was not deemed difficult to take. If there were prisoners taken there, they would be held there until the arrival of armoured vehicles. At that stage they would await reinforcements, and dig in. They would have a view of the road south from the police station, and an MG triad and heavy weapons Triad (Triad = team of 3) would take good vantage positions to prevent Algrabadis entering the town. They could expect their own reinforcements very shortly after the Algrabadis came within sight: a mechanised infantry century (96 soldiers in 8 armoured vehicles), Century-5, would be tasked with the job of securing the town or evacuating Wolf's platoon and any prisoners captured. Whichever was done, the vehicle repairs yard in the town was to be torched, and several homes, suspected by B60 to have underground weapons stores for Aljaysh Alssamit, the Algrabadi 'secret army', were to be raided or similarly put to the torch.

The operation brief stated that the treaty obligations had been breached in the town, due to an extensive presence of military hardware in a residential area. That referred chiefly to the vehicle repair yard and the suspected weapons stores. The yard would likely contain some civilian vehicles as well, but these were also to be destroyed or commandeered for good measure.

Wolf had been an officer for 6 years, a Sentier in the 666 Specials - the alias of the 18th regiment that operated in the buffer zone - for 2. This would only be her 3rd time engaging an enemy. She prayed silently, her hands buried in the soil, as she awaited any news. She apologised in advance for the death she was about to inflict, but prayed moreover that it would succeed in preventing further deaths, thus serving the Brownite Orthodox concentration on "The lesser scale of death".

Things didn't quite follow the plan. The Sentier's section was discovered by two unfortunate patrolling Algrabadis at about 3.15, and they were taken down efficiently and quietly. Her seniors told her to go earlier, at 2:12:00:00 OH - roughly 20 standard minutes early, about 3.25, to prevent the soldiers' absence being reported. The initial assault went as good as could be expected, with further 13 Algrabadis dead and no prisoners taken. B60 had the numbers absolutely right.

The police station was where everything went to hell, and they ended up unable to take the upper floors. With the Algrabadi Army coming ever closer, they collapsed the police station with explosives and retreated to the northern edge of the town, ready to retreat into the forest if necessary. RAF forces reached the town before the Algrabadis, however, and they attempted to conduct their raids. She split the group into teams of 12 and sent them to conduct the raids while she set up a command post. It was then that the B60's suspicions about weapons stores were confirmed, but not because weapons were found. Rather, because they were used.

To the west of the village, on what the military maps called "Echo St", one of her teams was ambushed, 1 killed and 3 wounded. In a village of little over 1,000 residents, now with 140+ Higgins-Brownite Special Operations soldiers, the result was carnage. They abandoned the raids and torched the houses, giving residents 2 minutes notice from outside. The street on which the ambush had taken place was subject to a full-scale assault by Century-5 to retrieve the team that had come under fire. The team had entered a house in a terrace. The century-5 troops went through the walls to retrieve them, as they came under fire from above.

One of the houses in the terrace was the one due to be raided. Breaking through it, they shot to kill, and 3 residents rushing down the stairs were on the receiving end. They found the team in the 7th house, 4 living and wounded, a 2nd dead, 6 still active, but the house was coming under fire from the outside. Sentier Wolf was now in the APC that rushed into the street to retrieve the men. A flare flung out of the front window indicated which house they were in. 5 Algrabadi gunmen were preparing to rush it, but the driver put the pedal down and ran 2 of them over. The other 3 fled, letting off smoke grenades. Definitely Aljaysh Alssamit, Wolf thought. The wounded and dead were loaded into the APC, and the others returned through the holes they had blasted in the walls.

That was one of 4 ambushes by Aljaysh Alssamit cells around the town, leaving 11 soldiers dead and 19 wounded, and 7 of the dead were from Wolf's platoon. They had taken just 2 prisoners, and killed maybe two dozen in the streets and houses, plus those in the police station. A clean operation had gone very wrong.

The Higgins-Brownites departed the town with haste as the Algrabadi Military waited at the southern checkpoint, 100m away, not wanting to engage in a direct army-on-army confrontation. Sitting on the roof of the APC with other members of her unit, Wolf was surprised by the explosion from the vehicle repair yard, the last objective had been completed. Somehow, she knew, that's not how anyone at home would think of it.
Last edited by Higgins and Brown on Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Nui-ta
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Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Ex-Nation

Room 88

Postby Nui-ta » Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:29 pm

The Emperor's ADD had certainly improved over the years, but he still had a few strange tics that were left over. He'd fiddle with his watch, for instance, to the point where someone would have to touch him to snap him out of his thoughts. This was now only something he did when he was nervous, versus when he was a child and had such behavior all the time.

Emperor Rowan di-Amori was nervous right now, as anyone in the room could tell by the fact that some of his attention was now paid to twirling a red dry-erase marker in his hand.

"Your Highness?" Paolo asked. No response.

The two other Prime Ministers who'd had to deal with Rowan's "space-outs" were Trenta i-Harendo (for the span of only four months), and Ultimus Renton (who'd been dealing with the once boy-king since then). Ultimus had been verbally harsh; almost disrespectful, even, towards Rowan during these moments, often hissing at Rowan, yelling, or once even flicking the poor kid (back when Rowan was still much younger) on the head to get his attention. Rowan had developed a bit of a fear of Ultimus, as a result --- a fear that didn't go away until the government shutdown, when Rowan's anger at Ultimus for causing the government shutdown overtook the fear of being hissed at.

I don't think Ultimus's approach was such a good idea, Paolo reflected, getting up to go over to the Emperor while others in the room just watched.

And then there was Trenta i-Harendo. Of Ultimus Renton, Paolo Medici, and herself, she was the only one with any parenting experience, having had three children (two of whom were only a couple of years younger than Rowan himself). Paolo could vaguely remember Trenta's approach to Rowan's moments.

She'd walk over to him and squeeze his shoulder a little bit: not harsh or painful like Ultimus likely would have: Trenta's approach was more motherly. Firm, but kind.

Paolo could also vaguely remember that this method seemed to have a much higher degree of success --- but Paolo Medici was no one's mother.

I'm not doing that.

With his wife, even before the divorce, Medici had made it clear that he wasn't intent on having children. He'd thought about it, but...no... his wife Aurana was very selfish in nature...too selfish, Paolo realized, to have a firm capacity as a mother. She probably had nieces and nephews around that she was neglecting: he figured that based on the fact that he'd been married to her for years, and didn't even know if she actually did have nieces or nephews. With two siblings, she likely had something.

His eyes narrowed. He reached over, not knowing what else to do, and poked Rowan on the forehead --- nothing too rough to be harsh, like Ultimus, but nothing motherly like Trenta, either. This seemed more "uncle-ish" in nature.

Uncle Paolo. Yeah right.

Paolo wished he had his own nieces or nephews --- not because he wanted to be an uncle, but because a world where this would have been the case would have been a world in which his younger brother hadn't been a civilian casualty in the Partition. It would have been a world in which Leon would have lived to grow up.

"I'm sorry?" Rowan said, snapping out of his delirium.

Paolo sighed. "It's alright, your Highness. Now, on with the show?"

"Oh, right," Rowan said. Paolo couldn't help but notice that there was still a tiny bit of nervous child left in the supposedly hardened and wizened Rowan di-Amori...even though Rowan was no longer the boy-king of before. His face was still youthful, but he now sported some facial hair. His voice had lowered significantly. He'd gone through a growth spurt. He'd gotten married...he even had a toddler of his own now: a young girl who was likely destined to become Nui-ta's first ruling Empress since the long-lost di-Etares line.

Rowan took a deep breath, composed himself, and looked around at everyone in the room. There was Paolo Medici, the Hadinian-blooded Prime Minister of Nui-ta, staring back at Rowan with the hallmark violet irises that Hadinians were known for.

There was Talia Dehran, Deputy Prime MInister --- a woman whose good looks, intelligence, and new-found position of power made her the most eligible bachelorette in Nui-ta.

There were the Commandants of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Elite Corps. The new Minister of External Affairs, Sahmir Kalfi, was here as well, as was the Minister of Defense, Ana Hashajri.

"Ladies," Rowan said, nodding at Talia and Ana...

"and gentlemen..." nodding at the rest. A hallmark of the patriarchy that did occasionally still sit in Nui-ta's culture was that it had never had a female Commandant.

"I'm sure you're all wondering why the hell I'm proposing this". He pointed at the board. "This is a series of executive actions with the goal of deterring Hadin or other UNCA affiliated powers from attacking us. Of course, I'd like to elaborate on and improve upon these actions and military orders before they get issued, in the interest of being absolutely sure that all major concerns of the government and national security are overseen".

"You sure this won't get us attacked by Hadin in the process under the war-cry of instigation?" Talia Dehran asked.

"I'm sure...at least I hope I'm sure". Rowan said. "Nico Hass is an unpredictable man. Earlier today, Prime Minister Medici jokingly told me that he wouldn't be surprised if the High-Envoy declared war on Nui-ta on the basis of someone sneezing in his general direction".

"New law," Medici joked, to cut the tension in the room a bit, "everyone start sneezing to the south".

There was a moment of laughter, before Rowan added, "but in all seriousness, I wouldn't really be surprised either. Of course, the key thing to keep in mind is that we can't control if and when he'll decide he wants to go through with attacking Nui-ta, or otherwise trying to start a war somehow. We can control the reasons behind that war, to an extent, and as a result, determine if mutual defense pacts --- such as the one between ourselves and Radiatia --- apply".

"But will this be applicable under mutual defense?"

"Well, the Fyoderov Administration finally spoke about Nico Hass, and Fyoderov said that Radiatian presence in the archipelago will increase, to deter Hadin. If Hadin wants to start bombing Radiatia over that, I'm pretty sure that counts as Hadin starting the war".

"As non-pacifistic as this action seems," Paolo Medici added, "there are certain situations in which this kind of thing would be a deterrent, rather than a war cry".

"And do we have such a situation?"

Rowan pushed a button, and satellite images appeared on a projector in the room.

"You tell me," he sighed.

"Oh..." Talia Dehran could be heard saying, "...shit".

"Are those what I think they are?" Sahmir Kalfi could be heard saying.

"Those are exactly what you think they are," Ana Hashajri replied.

It was Paolo Medici who spoke next, "to the Minister of External Affairs, and the Minister of Defense...I'm sure it will be less re-assuring to tell you where I think they are".

Rowan groaned. "They're exactly what and where you think they are, and they're real".

The Commandant of the Elite Corps, Coumo Ipati, shook his head. "And unfortunately, I can confirm for you that those satellite images were collected by intelligence agents of the Elite Corps. The missile silos are in the region of Salutem, to be exact...

"Central Hadin," Kalfi shook his head. "There are ICBM's within striking range of us in Central Hadin..."

"Those aren't just any ICBMs. Let me zoom in," Rowan said, manipulating his control a little.

He pointed to a zoomed-in version of the photo. "Those are being built right now. They still aren't fully operational yet, but..."

Everyone in the room went dead silent. Paolo Medici could feel his stomach turn within his abdomen.

"but...what?" someone asked.

Rowan clicked the projector controls again. "This is a report from the Geological Survey. Remember that 6.4 earthquake in Chaljar? Yevzar doesn't lie on a fault line".

"I thought the Chaljar earthquake was attributed to Yevzar's mining industry," the Deputy Prime Minister said. "What does that have to do with any of this?"

"This earthquake, nothing," Rowan di-Amori said. "This earthquake, at least. The NGS increased monitoring around the island after they noted that the Chaljar earthquake didn't have a fault-line to associate with it. The NGS also started noticing increased seismic activity north of Hephazi, stemming from underground somewhere".

"Western Hadin..." The Minister of External Affairs said.

"There's no fault-line in Western Hadin either".

"Hadin has a very extensive mining industry though," Paolo noted.

"Not off-shore, they don't," Rowan said. "We're looking for the dispersal of radionuclides, which would be the smoking gun to actually go ahead and say whether or not they have nukes or are trying to develop nukes, but something in the ocean west of Hadin was exploding. There's very little in the ocean to cause that kind of seismic activity".

"And you're sure that the seismic activity wasn't just Mother Nature?" The Minister of Defense said.

"The waves produced suggest that the epicenter was in deep water, not in the earth beneath the ocean," Rowan said.

"That, combined with the shiny new silos that Hadin is building...well...I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worst".

"That would justify your counter-measure, then," Paolo said.

"Indeed, production of additional ABMs makes an awful lot of sense, considering the unconfirmed but quite possible threat. That, combined with the Doomsday Clock now standing at only two minutes, would easily justify anti-warhead measures".

"And I take it the other part of your plan is if that first part fails?" The Minister of Defense said.

"The other part? It's to be prepared, locked away, and never spoken of again unless we actually do end up in a war that Hadin starts. Just as I told the NNN and the Radiatian Federation, I don't intend to give Nico Hass the satisfaction of fighting a defensive war on their part. If they want war so badly, they shouldn't be afraid to throw the first punch".

"Which is something that Hadin would be ill-advised to do," the External Affairs Minister clarified, "given that their new allies all have defense pacts with Hadin, similar to what we have with Radiatia. Hadin would get a lot of assured assistance against us in a hypothetical war...if we throw the first punch. That assured assistance isn't guaranteed in the event of Hadin attacking us first".

"Although I wouldn't put it past some of the UNCA members to join Hadin anyway if they decided to instigate a war," the Defense Minister said, "just maybe not Segland..."

"At least we aren't going nuclear ourselves," Talia sighed.

"With what we have in hiding?" Paolo said. "We'll never need to go nuclear".

"There's one more thing," Rowan di-Amori said. "We have intelligence agents in the Hadinian seditionist group of UMBRA who picked up some surprising foreign-policy news. It seems Algrabad and Hadin have their eyes on overtaking Zanzes".

"Why Zanzes?" Paolo asked.

"Untapped resources, and a strategic naval advantage against Nui-ta, should the Bay of Zanzes fall into Hadinian control," the Commandant of the Navy elaborated.

"So," Rowan said, "I'm encouraging the External Affairs Minister to start re-kindling ties with our long-lost cousins of the Zanze".

Paolo Medici cocked an eyebrow.

"We could face international sanction for taking more land past what was granted to us when we took New Zanzes...and the only reason we even got New Zanzes is because we could prove that it was an abandoned area. We now know that the rest of Zanzes probably doesn't have that little advantage".

"All true, except we're not going to take Zanzes," Rowan smiled.

"We're going to make Zanzes".
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Poldania
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Founded: Oct 09, 2011
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Poldania » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:26 am

Merrinan Air Force Station 17
70 miles south of Bergesval
Near Merrina-Segland-Crata tri-border point



MAF Station 17 was a relic of the early-LET nuclear craze, back when everyone and their grandmother was trying to build either an ICBM or a bunker. In those days, it had been called Headquarters, Poldanian Air Force Global Strike Command Merrina, and it was the ugliest thing ever to grace the plains of the Merrinan southwest. It still was.

"We called it the Pit back then," recalled Ernst Barlev. As he and his two guests cleared yet another security checkpoint. It was the third on the surface level. "Not too creative, but it's accurate."

He's said that five times since we landed. Hitzig managed half a smile. "Nervous, general?"

Barlev sighed. "As hell, sir."

"Good." The president frowned as they approached a pair of soldiers doing their damnedest to look stoic. "Exactly how many of these checkpoints did you set up?"

The one on the left shifted nervously and managed a salute. "Last checkpoint, Mr. President. Welcome to Seventeen. We'll escort you to the el--"

"Heinz! What the hell are you doing?"

"I, uh," began the private. "Guarding the elevator, sir!"

"Damn right! Guarding! Now tell me, what part of guarding involves giving anyone who waltzes in here a tour of the whole goddamn compound?"

Hitzig rubbed his right ear. The military and their damned yelling...

Ten minutes and one very sorry private later, the three were standing in a blue-gray elevator. The general pressed a button, the doors slid shut, and a fifty-year-old speaker softly played the Poldanian national anthem.

Defense Minister Kranz shared a look with the president.

Barlev coughed. "We're, uh, working on that."



Earlier

"Look at this, Karl," said Hitzig. "It's in all the papers now, the doom and despair. 'Poldania building up forces', 'War inevitable', 'Can Merrina survive a nuclear war?'! Christ. You'd think we should all be digging holes to hide in."

"This is why I only read stuff that kills brain cells." The minister swapped a magazine he'd picked at random from Merrina One's stock for an folder labelled ominously in red letters: TINDER. "Well, or people. "

"I've read the report. That's why we're on this plane. You know, it could all go horribly wrong."

Karl put aside the folder. "Obviously. You did put the VP in a bunker. But Barlev seems confident. Besides, we can't afford not to try."

"I know. What with Fyoderov deciding to stay out of everybody's business, I can't find a friendly nation in all of Noctur now."

"There's UNCA."

The president's expression clouded "Karl..."

"I'm just saying we need to consider all our options. A bad alliance is better than--" He leaned in. "Look, we're this close, Gervas. It's our country now, and we're so close to making it last. All we have to do is get Poldania to back off the border, and--"

"Don't lie to yourself, Karl."

The younger man threw up his hands. "Alright. Whenever you're ready to share your brilliant plan that keeps Poldania and Segland off our asses, you know where to find me."

A few minutes passed in silence, except for the rush of the engines.

"What do you think happens if we lose?"

There was no response.

"Mr. President?"

Hitzig snored.



Present

General Barlev led the president and minister out of the elevator, through a series of incredibly dull hallways, and finally to a small windowed room. The door was guarded by two very large armed men.

"The observation room," Barlev explained. "The guards are mostly to protect people from their own curiosity. There's nothing sensitive in there, but being inside during a launch is... inadvisable. After you."

Hitzig looked out the window. Beneath him was an array of deep pits, their circular covers retracted to reveal roughly a dozen inactive ICBMs. He looked up. The Pit's main doors were hundreds of feet wide, made of solid steel, and shut tight. That's for the best, but it seems very impractical.

"Very impressive, general, but we can't win a war with big doors."

"Of course, sir. If you'll follow me..."

The group proceeded to yet another very elevator -- Hitzig noted that this one did not play music -- and then to dead end. There was a hatch in the floor.

"As you know, security in these facilities is of the highest priority," explained the general. "This entrance is sealed from below. Normally, it is left shut for three months, with a crew of just two men inside, only to be opened upon the arrival of their relief. Today we make an exception."

Barlev produced a knife from his belt and proceeded to bash the hilt against the metal hatch. One of the escorts muttered something into a radio.

There came a horrible screech of rust and steel, then a heavy clang as the hatch swung up and open. A slightly disheveled head poked out and saluted.

The president and defense minister climbed down first, while Barlev made sure the sentries had their orders straight.

"Straight out of the movies," commented Karl. "Except dirtier."

The control room was the most utilitarian thing the men had ever seen. A small rectangular room, no more than ten meters on each side, with aging consoles spread throughout. There was a single door that Hitzig assumed led to the living quarters.

Another clang, and General Barlev had joined them, sealed in a concrete box.

"Our engineers were working day and night the past week making sure this would work today," he said, searching his belt for the right pocket. "For all our sakes, I pray they didn't miss anything."

With a grim smile, he handed the president a small key.

"Shall we?"
Official name: The Poldanian Union
Language: Livretan
President: Robert Cesare (U)
Prime Minister: Antoine Schmidt (U)

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Nui-ta
Ambassador
 
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Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Ex-Nation

The Old World Order

Postby Nui-ta » Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:03 am

"I did not expect to be back in Sangaur for this kind of thing," Crivan sighed, giving the occupant of his car's front passenger seat a sideways glance, while his hands remained firmly attached to the steering wheel. The car was parked in the driveway of a house in an upscale neighborhood, in the small town of Boshal, Sangaur, located on the Sangaur side of the Rahku-Sangaur Interstate District.

"It had to happen sometime," Sharina smiled.

"I still can't believe it though," Crivan shook his head, "I mean I remember when you told me you liked me right after the comedy club dare thing...and now we're in a car, parked outside my dad's house, and you're about to meet him. This is just ten shades of freaky to me".

"Why does it freak you out? I'm just meeting your dad. We're in Sangaur for you to meet my parents. We've been dating a while now, and...well, while we're in the state..."

"It's still weird," Crivan sighed again. "I know my dad's gonna be cool about the whole thing, and my mum --- I dunno, since she's...but I don't think she'd..."

"---If you're this worked up over the liberal in-laws..." Sharina started, prompting an audible "WHAT?!" from Crivan at the word "in-laws" before she continued, "...I can't wait to see how you react to my more conservative and traditional parents".

She smirked at him. His face wasn't red so much as white --- less embarrassment, more genuine panic; something she wasn't used to seeing in him.

"After all Crivan, my parents are the ones who want me married right away now that I'm off conscription. My parents are the ones who don't approve of me cavorting around with some guy they don't even know. Hell, if it were up to them, I'd be in an arranged marriage by now".

"Even if "some guy" happens to be the son of a famous late Prime Minister, and her high-ranking nobleman husband?"

"Okay, Viscount," Sharina laughed, "don't count on your rank to help you today. My dad's a Baron...although I will admit the whole Prime Minister thing will get his attention".

"You sure they're gonna be okay with me being a halfie?" Crivan said, "you know, half-Sangauranic, half-Zanzeanic..."

"That kind of stuff doesn't bother them, as long as you're full Nui-tan. Zanzeanic Nui-tans are still Nui-tans, so you're good".

"Okay..." Crivan winced, unlocking the doors and unclipping his seatbelt. He stepped out of the car and looked over at Sharina, who was now also out of the car and standing in front of him. Both of them were now on the driveway of Crivan's childhood home.

"So this is where you grew up," Sharina said, taking a deep breath of pristine, inland Nui-ta air. "Not nearly as dirty as Foroga City".

"Foroga City was...nice but terrible. No offense. I'm glad your parents retired in Kaurizil. I haven't had to use an inhaler in seven years and I didn't want to start again today," Crivan shook his head. They walked over to the front door and rang the doorbell.

"Does your dad know we're coming?" Sharina asked.

"We're a bit early, but he knows about you otherwise," Crivan said. "He knows we're dating and I never even told him".

"And just how did he know that?"

"CONFERO".

"Modern technology, eh Crivan?" Sharina laughed.

The door opened suddenly, and Crivan and Sharina were surprised to see not Hariem, but a nice looking older woman with short black hair and a business suit.

"Uh..." Crivan said, peering up to check the number on the house. "I...I think we're..."

"603 South Nijmasa Street?" Sharina asked. The woman went bright red in the face. Crivan noticed that the number was correct. Either his father had sold the house without telling him, or...

"O-oh," she said. "I'm sorry, I don't live here. I was just over for lunch,"

Lunch? Crivan raised an eyebrow, although he did his best to maintain a poker face. Sharina was looking at him now, with the obvious look of I thought your mother was dead.

And then everyone heard Hariem's voice in the back of the house.

"Crivan? You're here early. Come in. Melina you didn't have to get that, I was just washing up the last of the---"

Sharina saw an older version of Crivan, with a few small physical differences here and there, step forward and look directly at her.

"You must be Sharina," Hariem said, without a moment's hesitation. He smiled calmly at her. "I'm Crivan's father. Nice to meet you".

He stepped over to give her a handshake. "I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, you kids all grow up sometime, right?" As Sharina shook Hariem's hand awkwardly, Hariem realized that Crivan and Sharina were both trying to hide the fact that they were staring at Melina, his afternoon companion for the day. Melina's face had returned to its normal color, although she was looking over at him nervously.

"Ah, well since you two are early, this is Mrs. Melina ha-Rao. She's a friend of mine that works for the Ministry of Defense. Melina, this is my older son Crivan, and his girlfriend Sharina. They're in town to visit on their way out to Kaurizil".

He looked over at Crivan, "and speaking of in town, did you stop at your sister's?" Hariem gave Melina a quick look. "The one I was telling you about earlier".

"No, I figured I'd do that on the drive back," Crivan said. "We have to be in Kaurizil for dinner".

"In that case," Melina quickly interrupted, "I suppose I should be going". Both Melina and Hariem appeared apathetic to the matter, but Crivan could see a very slight scowl appear on Hariem's face.

Something was going on between these two, although Crivan couldn't call hearing or seeing any mention of a Melina Rao before. As far as he knew, she wasn't even on CONFERO...and his dad would have said something about a new lady in his life.

...Right?

"Oh no," Sharina said quickly. "Mrs. Rao, I'd like to meet you too. I guess I can meet my boyfriend's husband and you can meet your boyfriend's son. It'll be great for both of us!" Sharina had plastered a large, toothy grin unto her face, saying that, clearly trying to salvage the situation.

Melina Rao's face was now every shade of red imaginable. Hariem and Crivan i-Harendo had both gone very, very quiet. There was total silence in the house, other than a very slight, frightened squeak which could be heard coming from Melina.

"N-no," Melina blushed, "e-erm...it's...it's not like that..."

"Sharina," Hariem said, after taking a deep breath to maintain his composure. "Can I ask what gave you that idea?"

"Well, I mean...I just didn't want her to feel like she had to go," Sharina said quickly. "I mean...you two seem close, so I just figured it wouldn't be polite to interrupt you guys".

Melina looked as though she was about to pass out. Crivan now regained his own voice: "Sharina...remember that talk we had in the car about my dad being an easy visit?"

"I was just trying to be nice!"

"Well you're a cheeky one, and she's not my girlfriend," Hariem commented, pointing at Melina (and thus giving Melina some relief), before smirking at Crivan.

"I like Sharina," Hariem laughed. "I think she'll keep you on your toes. I'm sure you'll both be quite happy together". Sharina and Melina both started laughing uncontrollably, while Crivan gave Hariem a slight, angsty glare.

"I was right!" Sharina laughed. "Easier of the in-laws!"

Hariem's eyes suddenly widened. "In-laws?!"

"NO! DAD. SHE'S KIDDING. SHE'S FUCKING KIDDING".

"I was beginning to wonder," Melina said, the current string of words being uncharacteristically vocal for her. "Did Crivan pick her as a girlfriend or are they arranged and courting?"

"I'VE NO PLANS TO GET MARRIED YET," Crivan yelled, while Sharina gave him a glare, and Hariem elaborated for Melina, "no, I don't believe in the whole arranging marriage thing. Tradition is well and good to a point, but sooner or later you have to let the old world die..."

---

The next house, in a very upscale suburban neighborhood of Kaurizil, was much larger, with many more people. Sharina came from a family of five children, and both of her parents were still alive. Even though her parents and a sister were the only ones remaining full-time in the home, Sharina's entire immediate family were all present for this occasion.

All but one of her siblings was married. Her younger sister Deniva had an arranged marriage in the works, Crivan quickly gleaned from conversations with various members of Sharina's family. The three brothers were all married, with their wives all coming from high-ranking families. Of Sharina's three sisters-in-law, only one was of Zanzeanic descent, and she was from the Revolo family: several ambassadors were from that family.

Good news is, they clearly don't care about halfies... Crivan thought to himself, relaxing at the thought that last generation's racism hadn't seemed to carry over to as conservative a family as Sharina's.

Sharina's nieces and nephews, via her married brothers, were all either pure-Sangauranic, or three-quarters Sangauranic anyway. There wasn't much of a difference.

Sharina's father was ringing a glass.

"Lots of news, lots of news, aye," Rahim el-Hashem smiled, looking at everyone gathered in the large sitting room, which felt more like a cozy banquet hall. As Barons, the "el" clan all enjoyed wealth and prestige. The el-Hashem branch was no exception.

"Well first off, Sharina's finally done with conscription. Aye, I always dread the idea of having a woman do military service. I'm in agreement with Governor Kulkanni that it's an unacceptable idea".

Some of the men (and Sharina's mother) were nodding approvingly.

Great. A Kulkanni fan, Crivan groaned internally.

"Anyway now we can see about getting you married, aye, the way it should be. Now your mother and I were discussing a few close families to us but..."

Everyone else in the room turned to look at Crivan. He felt his face turn red a little as Rahim smiled at him, "I have to say, lad, I was feeling a bit let-down when I found out you were just a Viscount, until I learned some more about you".

"So, i-Harendo, aye, now that's a marriage I could certainly get behind. Granted you'll both be el-Harendo afterwards but, all the better, aye".

I'm not marrying her...at least I'm really sure I'm not marrying her. And I sure as hell am never changing my name, tradition be damned".

"Your sister still beat you though, Sharina. That's the whole reason I took this from a simple meeting between Sharina's match to something the whole family could enjoy. We still have to work out the details with el-Harendo..." Rahim droned on.

Crivan whispered to Sharina. "Did you tell your Dad we're getting married? Because I don't remember proposing".

"Dating and marriage to him are the same thing, but no, he knows we're just dating and that you don't want to get married. He's quite mad actually. He wants to call your father up and force an arrangement".

Crivan snickered. "My dad consenting to an arrangement...[i]good luck, Mr. el-Hashem. You'll need it. And a miracle
".

"My dad's pretty convincing," Sharina said.

"My dad's pretty stubborn and liberal..." Crivan retorted, without missing a beat.

"My dad'll offer him lots of money, I bet".

"My dad has more money than you think".

"So does mine. And my dad's a Baron".

"And my Dad married a commoner on live TV back when it was still socially illegal. I don't think he cares if your dad's the Queen of Zanzes".

Sharina snickered a little, right as her father announced...

"so it brings me great pleasure to tell you all that we're going to have not one, aye, but two more major political ties in this family. Furthermore everything in Deniva's side is still all fixed up. We just got the last few details worked out today. Deniva di-Nostra has a very nice ring to it, aye?"

Crivan stared. Deniva di-Nostra.

Like Ivana di-Nostra: the late Princess, whose involvement in an attempted murder on the former Prime Minister --- his mother's --- life saw her covertly assassinated by the Nui-tan government.

Davin di-Nostra, Crivan soon found out. Ivana di-Nostra's only child.

The tenth in line to the throne.

"Anyway, Prince Davin is like most of us, a loyal member of Spira," Rahim said, one of many broken sentences that Crivan occasionally heard, tuning in and out of Rahim's rambling.

"And with so many connections and noble ties in this family, we can be the shining epitomy of everything that Spira wishes to see in this country, and soon help maintain a true brand of conservatism in this country. Aye, not the apartheid fanaticism of Gold, or the pseudo-conservatism of Derch. I've been talking with Governor Kulkanni about this, aye, once or twice, and things like this are quite helpful for the cause, aye. Getting Spira into the government will definitely help us to revive, in viable terms, the new old world order".
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Radiatia
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Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Free-Market Paradise

Postby Radiatia » Mon Mar 07, 2016 7:51 pm

State of the Federation LET 58
Angela Pavlovic

"A Time For Healing"



Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, my colleagues in the Federal Parliament and my fellow Radiatians,

I'd like to begin by saying what an honour it is for me to be standing here and to be holding this office. I have held the top office of both chambers of the Federal Parliament - having served as Speaker and as Vice President. And now I am the President.

It's been quite a journey for me - when I first entered this Chamber, I was a backbencher sitting somewhere in that corner over there. Soden Larssen was the leader at the time, and I would sit in awe of the Big Man, with his giant stature and booming voice, thundering all hell on his opponents. I never dreamed that some day I would be leading the Radiatian Federation.

Of course my fellow Radiatians, as we all know, the circumstances of my ascension to this role have been much less than ideal. This is not the way I would have liked to have become the President.

Our great federation is in shock right now. Our democracy, which we have built over the last four decades since the end of communism, has suffered its most severe setback and its greatest test since LET 14. What is needed now is a time of relief and a time of healing.

For those of you whose faith in democracy has been weakened or tested by recent events, I would seek to console you by reminding you that these events showed not that our democracy has failed, but rather that our system and its failsafes have worked. We learned that the rule of law applies to all in the Radatian Federation, even the President. Justice was done. Democracy lives on and will survive this time of darkness.

The legislative programme of my administration will not differ significantly from that of my predecessor. I ran with him on a joint ticket and Radiatians responded enthusiastically. I will be keeping those promises and making sure that our reforms - lower tariffs, more free trade and low taxes - remain underway.

I warn members that I will not hesitate to veto any tax rises - I will be ensuring that Radiatians' money is theirs to spend as they choose and not the federal government's. I will also not be supporting any plans for the introduction of the so-called 'progressive tax' - a system they have in Terra Oriens in which tax rates are based on income. This system is highly inefficient and helps only bureaucrats in Xerconia - it will do nothing for the poor. All Radiatians will continue to pay federal income tax at the same flat rate.

I do wish to speak now about our economy. The truth is that there has never been a better time to be a Radiatian. Manufacturing exports are very high - conflict in other parts of Noctur has increased demand for arms, and reduced competition with other manufacturing based economies. Conflict has also pushed up the price of oil, which has been of benefit to our energy export industry.

Our financial services industry goes from strength to strength - Exegrad is undoubtedly the financial capital of Noctur. The Tsenyen is now the most valuable currency in Noctur and is used more than any other country to form the bulk of the global foreign exchange market.

It is here where the picture becomes complicated: International volatility, and the reliance upon Radiatia to keep the international economy solvent have placed an unusual number of burdens and pressures upon the Radiatian Federation. The stimulus policies of the Silviu Administration and the early part of the Fyoderov Administration have effectively resulted in an oversupply of money, leading to inflation.

In layman's terms, Radiatia's economy is doing well - but we run the risk now of overheating. Accordingly I have asked the Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank to raise interest rates. We are at the stage in the business cycle in which we must now encourage Radiatians to save, rather than to spend.

The economic boom has resulted in a budget surplus and a projected second, larger surplus. My administration has three priorities for this surplus.

The first is to begin paying down our significant national debt - after years of borrowing it is time to start repaying.

The second will be to concentrate on investment and infrastructure in rural Radiatia - there are still towns not at all connected to the Interstate, and there are too many geographically isolated areas facing permanent economic depression. It's time that all Radiatians share in our nation's prosperity, regardless of where you are.

The third priority will of course take the form of tax relief - a surplus means that you have paid more than you need to, so it is the duty of the federal government to give your money back to you.

Finally, we cannot ignore the events in the international community. Like it or not, Noctur depends on us for security and all conflicts however minor will come to affect our own national security in some way. It is the price of our success, it is the burden of being the Sheriff of Noctur.

I wish to make very plain and very clear to the international community: While I am President of the Radiatian Federation our allies can count on us for support and our enemies can count on retaliation should they continue to antagonise us or our allies.

We must take steps to avoid conflict unless absolutely necessary and not until every channel has been taken. But rest assured that I will not hesitate to inflict the might of the Radiatian Federation upon those antagonists on the world stage should it become necessary and our enemies would do well to heed my warning now.

The situation abroad has also led to a humanitarian crisis. We have not seen so many displaced people in decades.

As such I have elected to expand on the Executive Order signed by my predecessor. Make no mistake: The Radiatian Federation will be taking in at least one million refugees. We have a unique responsibility to do so. We cannot forget that 40 years ago, that was us - so many Radiatians were displaced after our own civil war, and much the same is happening now all over Noctur.

What I ask of the Parliament is to design legislation to facilitate this - I recommend the opening up of Zone 44, the privatisation of the land currently owned by the FMoD and its use as a processing centre for refugees. Further, I recommend preventing refugees from reaching our already crowded major cities.

If I could some up the message of this State of the Federation simply it would be to say this: Radiatia is stronger and more prosperous now than it has ever been. The next step is to ensure all Radiatians benefit from our prosperity and all Nocturians benefit from our strength.

Then we will see a more efficient and individualistic world emerge."

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Radiatia
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Don't Let Her Get To You

Postby Radiatia » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:14 pm

Traiyan Silviu High School in central Xerconia was the finest high school that taxpayer's money could buy.

It wasn't a public school of course - if it was, it wouldn't have been so fine, and nor was it directly funded by the taxpayer.

But because it was the school where most of Xerconia's politicians sent their children (for exorbitant prices), and because those politicians' salaries came from the taxpayer, it could be argued that it was a taxpayer funded school. Certainly this was the defence used by left-wing MPs who were grilled over why they refused to send their children to public schools.

But the students of this high school almost always came from political backgrounds - the sons of Senators, and daughters of MPs, the children of civil servants and the offspring of lobbyists. Indeed, private sector children were so rare that they tended to be ostracised by their peers - except of course for the children of influential business figures. These were kids of politicians, and they knew when and to whom to grease palms and pay tribute.

Unlike most schools, the teens didn't fall into the usual cliques - goths and jocks and nerds, but rather formed cliques based on the political affiliation of their parents. The Social Democratic kids would not interact socially with Liberal-Conservative kids, the civil servant kids formed their own tribe, while the odd private sector kid was to remain private, and alone.

Johanna Ivers had relocated here two years ago, yet another move in her short but unusually well-travelled life. Her father was a Senator, having recently returned to federal politics after almost a decade away from it, and now Johanna was back living in the city where she was born - and yet which she also did not know particularly well.

And as her father's star rose - to the point where he was Senate Majority Leader, arguably the second or third most powerful man in the country, so too did the need to enrol her in a school in the Federal Capital Territory.

But Johanna wasn't the only new arrival when she came to Traiyan Silviu High.

There was another girl too. A girl named Zoe Fyoderov, with whom Johanna would eventually develop an antagonistic relationship, not unlike that between Senator Josko Ivers and President Gregori Fyoderov.

"Hey freak!" Said Zoe one day, after passing Johanna and her friend Melinda in the corridor. "My dad says that your dad is a communist!"

Zoe was athletic, having been raised in the clean air and green hills of Jingyurin, and she was aggressive too. While her father was distracted by world affairs, she was the type to steal liquor from her oblivious mother, go out and have wild parties and know that if she ever got arrested she would have a Presidential pardon to rely on.

Johanna, much smaller and meeker, was more easily intimidated by the President's daughter.

"He's not a communist!" Said Johanna, trying to be brave to the bully. "He fought against the communist during the ci-civil war!"

Unfortunately she stuttered in such a way that it made "civil war" sound like "cervical war".

"Ew, Johanna I don't wanna know what your daddy was doing to people's cervixes back when we were communist..." Said Zoe. "It's a thought almost as disgusting as you!"

"Go away." Said Johanna, not quite loud enough to threaten Zoe.

"Are you threatening the daughter of the President?" Gasped Zoe in mock alarm. "That's a federal crime! That's treason."

"Leave me alone." Johanna said again.

"Whatever," Said Zoe turning to leave. "Oh by the way... we have sex education later today. Do you know what happens? They're gonna buddy us up with the boys and make us all have sex, and then grade us on how well we did. I'll be partnered with Michael, captain of the football team. But I heard you're going to be losing your virginity to Alfred Marchard!"

Zoe walked off, with her group of nasty friends, leaving Johanna looking worriedly at Melinda.

Alfred Marchard? The fat kid who shaved off all his hair and ate it? Sure he was the son of a Senator from Polaris but...

"Is she telling the truth?" Asked Johanna. Being raised in Nui-ta, along with the constant moving and upheavals had left her a little more naive than most girls her age.

"I think she's lying," Said Melinda. "I'm pretty sure you get to choose your partner. They won't make you go with Alfred."

"What!?" Asked Johanna. "I don't want to have sex at school!"

"I might be getting confused with the army, actually," Said Melinda. "My older sister told me they do something like this... but I can't remember if it's high school, or if it's when you get drafted."

Johanna gulped and turned to walk away, but little did she know there was someone behind her.

Harvey Krumpetski - son of an MP from Bahamatsu, and with a bronze and chiselled complexion, like a Greek god.

"Don't listen to Zoe," He said, bluntly - Radiatians were much too efficient for the trivialities of 'Sorry for eavesdropping'. "She's just jealous.

"You're good-looking, and you'll be better looking as you grow up. Zoe... she's average now, but as she grows up she'll have her dad's chin and her mother's dumpy body.

"Don't let her get to you."

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Hadin
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The Devil's Amnesty

Postby Hadin » Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:08 pm

It was a bit hysterical to watch Hadin purport itself to be a rising state in Noctur. Almost 25 years ago to the day, the country had been devastated in a bloody uprising known to the world as the Hadinian War. The result of the war was the independence of Hadin from Nui-tan occupation --- at the cost of the lives of the leaders of the Hadinian Liberation Front --- and as the sun rose upon a new, free Hadin, the country found itself unready to organize itself into a cohesive nation.

Hadinian independence had been in the works for years under the plans of then-Emperor Vincentius di-Amori III, and taken into serious consideration by the Crumlo administration. Hadinians wouldn't fully understand until after the war why the Nui-tan government had gone through so much trouble to help support Adstutia Liberati Hadinia, or as it was known internationally, Diplomacy for Hadinian Independence.

The DFHI were a group of people preaching an idea not known or understood by many Hadinians: democracy. The DFHI were meant to be the first government within Hadin after Nui-ta, responsible for establishing democratic elections, breaking off the last vestiges of Nui-tan influence peacefully, and setting the Hadinian ship, so to speak, off to sail in free waters, independently. They were led by a woman in her late 30's, Junakaur Grenders, the daughter of a Hadinian man and Zanzeanic Nui-tan woman.

The nation of Hadin was not ready for Grenders, with her Hadinian last name and her strange, difficult to pronounce Nui-tan first-name, even though Junakaur herself spoke Latin as a first language, had been born and raised in Kopurauth, and was a follower of Septimism. This was back before Septimism became a state cult and the law of the Hadinian land --- back when being a Septimist only meant that you followed the god of the Hadinians, instead of complying with Nui-tan theology. Nowadays, Septimism meant complete obedience to the theocratic state, but Junakaur, or as the Hadinians called her Yunakaur (a hallmark of the Hadinian language was that "J" was pronounced like "Y"), would never live to see that theocracy, thanks to the forefathers of the theocracy itself.

There was the DFHI, and Grenders --- and then there was "Pavor" and his Hadinian Liberation Front. The Hadinian Liberation Front in the old days were Hadin's "freedom fighters" --- a group of uncompromising, fiercely sovereign Hadinian men (and the occasional woman) who stood for everything that they perceived "true" Hadin to be, before Nui-tan and international corruption. The HLF had started innocently enough, as a group of veterans from the JCSF-side of the Partition. Back in those days, when colonists were harassed by the class-dominated Nui-tan society at every turn, the JCFS had been essential. The Hadinians had tried to reason with Nui-ta. They had tried to keep quiet and tow the line during years of apartheid, when colonists (like Hadinians) had no political rights whatsoever. They had tried to keep out of the way when abuse against the colonists in the long-forgotten reign of Vincentius II was essentially open season, but they had failed. Even when the third Vincentius tried to undo the damage and peacefully dismantle the biased, racially-prejudiced system, the Nui-tan populace had bought into the ideology of hatred, and the abuse did not cease.

The HLF preached the lesson learned: if you want something enough, fight for it until you get it, and damn the consequences. When the Partition ended, the Hadinian territory of Alinia was so badly devastated that Hadin didn't want it back --- so Nui-ta took it, claiming full responsibility for the task of reviving a state where so many had died. As payment, Hadin thought for sure that they would now be allowed to go free --- but they weren't. Although their desires were heard, and plans were drawn up, immediate independence was denied to them. The state of Suile-Blan was offered, and taken, instead --- but not satisfactory payment for all that had been done to Hadin.

The HLF made that very clear when they attempted to kill the Nui-tan ambassador to Radiatia, and they made that very clear a second time when they successfully killed Junakaur Grenders and sparked off the Hadinian War. The Front then declared war against Nui-tan sympathetic portions of Hadin, and in essence, declared war against Nui-ta itself. This action was met with swift defeat by a joint "Nui-Ra" force, and the deaths of all but one of the HLF leaders in Kopurauth, the center of the war.

"Pavor", which meant "dread" in Hadin, was the "commander-in-chief" of the HLF. He was taken to Radiatia and "processed" at a soylent factory as punishment. So ended the HLF.

Except it didn't. Marius Romeria was the son of Thaddeus Romeria, an old man who was hailed as a hero in Hadin for being the leader of the JCSF during the Partition. With Hadin now being independent, Thaddeus possessed full asylum to come out into the open and speak his mind in this new "democratic" Hadin. Nui-ta left him alone because they had other problems, and because physically, Thaddeus was old, and weak, and gray, and was best left off in exile in Hadin (so they thought).

Old and weak and gray that he was, he was not senile. His mouth carried him further than his arms or legs ever had, and Thaddeus Romeria began to preach, in true Hadinian form, a "gospel" of how democracy would cause Hadin to play into Nui-ta's hand. If Hadin wanted to be avenged for all that had been done to it, it would choose a different path.

The Hadinian people were indecisive. The "government" strained for two years, low on resources, stripped of most of Nui-ta's organization, equipment, and all monetary support. A political unknown by the name of Rosario Labriolla began to preach religion --- the one cause that all of Hadin could rally behind by choice. When Labriolla's theocratic vision met Romeria's doctrine of autocracy, the Envoyship was born.

Thaddeus Romeria, of course, never played any true part in that government, other than a few whispers here, a few words there. No appointed positions, no attempting to seek office --- he was past his prime for that. And he'd gotten what he'd wanted. The theocrats stripped Hadin of any freedoms left behind, but finally brought success to Hadin's age old goal of getting its shit together as an independent nation.

Fiete Nikastro mused at that last thought. At least, Hadin though it had its shit together.




The clock was ticking down to when Hadin would eventually tear itself apart. It took religion to justify to the families of the combatants on the HPS Emerelda and the HPS Ramona that the losses of their fathers, sons, and brothers would not be in vain --- that Septima would be welcoming them to some sort of blissful afterlife for their valiant sacrifice.

It was valiant, in the fact that Fiete truly believed that the war in Algrabad, to whom Hadin was an ally per the Axis Treaty, was justified. It was true allegiance to their country that had convinced two ships of Hadinian naval personnel to consider blowing their ships to kingdom come in order to punch a hole in the enemy's forces. Furthermore, the Higgins and Brownites were up to no good in the Buffer Zone, and needed to be made to leave Algrabad alone. Nikastro had his doubts about the "well-timed" assassination of the Algrabadi president, supposedly by the RFA --- but that changed very little to him in regards to the abuses of Higgins-Brown.

This really was for a good cause.

But would the future be just as justified? Algrabad had been antagonized by its counterpart for a while, but Hadin had seen very little of Nui-ta, other than some naval border disputes, since the Hadinian War. Nui-ta made it clear that they did not like the Hadinians, or trust the Hadinian government --- but other than that, what harm was Nui-ta in actuality?

Would it be enough to justify the loss of more Hadinian lives?

It was already costing Hadin --- as High-Envoy Nico Hass became more militaristic, he sought more and more ways to goad Nui-ta into a war which the Nui-tans weren't interested in. At first, it was just a few comments here and there --- no one, not even in Hadin, seemed to take Hass all that seriously. Now it was quite the opposite: Hadin was actively waging war in the world. Lives were being lost.

Loved ones were being taken away. Resources that could have gone elsewhere were being spent. People were beginning to talk.

UMBRA, the radical group of anti-Envoyship Hadinians, was gaining momentum in their efforts to gain support in the Hadinian populace. People who had once been loyal, or at least tolerant of the government, were getting restless.

The government had needed to crack down on UMBRA --- in doing so, Fiete became aware of one particular member of UMBRA, who was chained up and being interrogated for several crimes against the state. Everything from high treason, conspiracy, and arson --- to civil disobedience, criminal mischief...even blasphemy and sodomy --- this young man had apparently done it all. He was too damnable to be of any merit to society.

And yet, Fiete needed someone like the young man chained up in the basement interrogation cell of National Prison #21. There were some things only the devil could do.

A young man like this would surely prize amnesty, something which, as one of the top priests in a theocracy, Fiete could manage in more ways than one.




"Quite the file you have here," Fiete mused, flipping through pages and pages of paperwork about the young man's life. Everyone born in Hadin had a file about them somewhere in the nation's rather large bureaucracy, from people of power (such as Fiete himself), to the lowest criminals of society, like the boy sitting in front of him.

The boy, of course, wasn't responding. He was clearly still awake --- cold, violet-blue eyes were attempting to give Fiete a very stark, angry glare. The right eye was succeeding; the left eye was almost completely swollen shut. The interrogation had been carried out by some of the top-ranking members of the secret police.

Any positions within the government required religious oaths and fidelity to Septima, the seventh incarnation of Deus (the Hadinian deity). Some agencies also had patron incarnations (from one of the first six), who were the equivalent of "saints" in other religions. The military and the secret police, for example, considered Bruno Altimara, also known as Quintrama (the fifth incarnation) to be their patron. Bruno Altimara (as Quintrama was apparently known in his human incarnation) was a "warrior incarnation", who lacked the good works of the other incarnations, and instead claimed his divinity by wreaking havoc on the unfaithful. Needless to say, he was Nico Hass's favorite --- and one of Fiete's least.

Fiete preferred Gregor Valens and Leo Geisler, who were also known as Dus and Sextima, (second and sixth) respectively. To have your personal favorites, depending in your personality and own goals in life, was acceptable in traditional Septimism, as long as you didn't blaspheme against the others, and most importantly, validated the superiority of the seventh, for whom the religion was named.

It was hard to not blaspheme against the work of the recipients of Quintrama's patronage, though, judging by how badly that they'd busted up the poor boy's face. Taking a moment to step away from his own motivations and simply look at the boy standing in front of him --- a young man of...20? Maybe 25 ---- Fiete couldn't help but feel terrible.

The definition of "hypocrite" should definitely have been that of a state which, claiming moral superiority through religion, had beaten the hell out of a kid without finding him guilty of anything. It was true that there were a lot of charges against the boy, but they were charges, not convictions. The only sure crime, to which the boy had admitted to, was being a member of UMBRA (and technically, by association, conspiracy) --- although that wasn't enough to bust his face open several times.

Fiete did not like being a hypocrite. In order to do something about that, however, he realized that he'd have to change his tone.

"Need some ice for your eye?"

The boy said nothing, again.

"Not talking at all, then..."

A slight, stifled chuckle from the boy --- it lasted all of a millisecond --- and nothing else. Fiete rolled his eyes.

"Why don't I just get to the point?" He said, staring the boy down and assuming more authority in his voice. "You're guilty of conspiracy. You're charged with all manner of other infractions that I don't want to even begin to have to start reading off this list. It's not like it matters anyway --- the conspiracy charge is already enough to damn you to the stake".

The stake: Hadinians executed felons by forced immolation, after tying them to stakes to prevent their escape. Another thing Fiete didn't like about his country. At this moment, he realized why he was doing what he was doing --- he was getting damn tired of seeing how far his country had fallen. Its reputation for barbarism in much of Free Noctur was, in fact, earned.

Silence from the boy, again.

"Please tell me you are not stupid enough to want to die at your age".

"Fuck you".

"That, to me, tells me I'm right".

"Who gives a shit, fucking Envoy?" The boy hissed.

That was a good one --- Nikastro wasn't used to hearing his title prefaced that way. He found himself suppressing his own chuckle for a moment, and this motion clearly baffled the young felon sitting in front of him.

"Well, I do, obviously," Fiete leaned back into his chair as he said that, making himself more comfortable. "I wouldn't come down here and belittle myself with the job of interrogation. I have too many important things to do for that".

He held up the boy's file again. "You have quite the interesting read here. Born in A.N 109 at the Nui-tan military base in Yevzar. Son of a Colonel who defected to Hadin when the Lucas Doctrine allowed ethnic Hadinians in Nui-ta who were non-combatants in the Hadinian War to return without punishment".

"Your father, said former Colonel, has done nothing for the past several years but maintain a hog farm. Your mother died in a...domestic accident?"

There was no elaboration on the words "domestic accident", so Fiete continued.

"You're the eldest of six children, and the only male. Your sisters have all been married off. You left home after your mandatory service in the military....Petty Officer, Hadinian People's Navy, honorable discharge..."

"Since you left home, you have engaged in operations against the state alongside UMBRA. Never married, no children. You have two aunts in your extended family. They're the younger half-sisters of your father. The younger of the aunts defected from Nui-ta several years ago for personal reasons, citing her protections under the Lucas Doctrine, and has since re-married and had three boys. The older aunt is an ex-pat who is named on the Genus Probitores, convicted in absentia of high treason against the Envoyship for her involvement in the Hadinian War on the "Nui-Ra" side".

What a family history...

The boy smirked. "Never met the aunts. But I'm glad you find me so damn interesting. Now what do you want?"

"Well, Hans Yarringsen," Fiete sighed. "I want to have you do something for me. I have a job that needs to be done, and given your background, I think you might just be a perfect candidate. In exchange, if you live...I'm willing to offer you complete and total amnesty for all charges against you".

"Like hell I'm gonna work for the state".

"Indeed, like hell you are. If I needed someone to work for the state," Fiete elaborated, "then I wouldn't be asking you".
Just so you know, this nation, in character, is a highly sexist, highly theocratic, and highly authoritarian state. (Though under the new guy, it seems to be improving a little).

I disagree with a lot of what this nation stands for. It was invented for its intrigue and ample opportunities for satire, not for its ideals.

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The Arthurian Isles
Envoy
 
Posts: 280
Founded: Feb 26, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby The Arthurian Isles » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:11 am

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On Tea



Six kilometres outside of Vestmanaeyjar lies Buðardalur. The ruins sit mid-way up the south-east bank of the eponymous valley that runs north-east from the sea through the hills of Geldungur’s north-western coast. If the clouds oblige, Buðardalur sees sunlight from the north for the majority of the day. Beneath the old castle, half-way down the valley’s slope, flows the Thjorsar, nothing more than a gently-flowing stream, but one which has eroded the rocks below for millennia. It is barely deep enough to cover the large stones which dot its bed, allowing the native deer of the valley to roam in relative freedom, much to the delight of the few Arthurians who partake in deer-stalking during the late summer months. Were they to venture too far down the valley towards Buðardalur, however, the visitors would find their path blocked by signs picketed along the way, emblazoned with the Federal Raven and reading: “Grounds of the Federal Government – Please Do Not Enter – Inconvenience Regretted.”

Such is the role of Buðardalur that it must be kept private at all times. It is, after all, the sole official residence of the Raðmaður and the only government-property permitted for private use by the Federal Ministers of the Storting. It is, as a result, deserving of the same respect any other home would be, but with the additional concern that its grounds must be secured against a multitude of threats. The tranquillity of the valley isn’t much disturbed by these official concerns, fortunately, for Arthuria is a peaceful place and the approaches to Buðardalur are easily covered by a few discreet cameras. The old castle therefore remains fairly lonely in its resting place. It cannot even boast that it has been rebuilt or renovated, for on the surface the dark stone remains as it has done for centuries now – crumbling in parts, collapsed in others, desolate in all. The residence of which we have heard is nestled below these ancient ramparts, built into the ground so that its windows protrude out from the valley side below the ruins. All that can be seen of the residence are these windows, which provide an excellent view over the Thjorsar, and the entrance, a non-descript door lurching from the a still-standing section of wall and bordered by dark Arthurian wood which forms a corridor into the depths below.

Twisting towards this entrance is a single tarmacked road across the valley. The road flows with the contours of the hills, hugging them tight so as not to disturb their natural beauty. But the hand of man leaves its mark and in the darker hours the lampposts break the stillness of the countryside. They add to the dull orange glow of Vestmanaeyjar that rises above the crest of the valley’s south-eastern slope. In this there is some consolation, for at least the roadway adds to an already-present stain on the landscape, rather than creating a radically new one. In the light of day, it is even possible to ignore the road and focus one’s attention only on the greens and browns of the country, broken intermittently by the blue-grey of the stream and the red-brown masses of deer – the only movement in an otherwise placid landscape.

On one particular day in the middle of Spring, there was a third source of movement. A car wove its way through the bends of the valley’s road, coming from Vestmannaeyjar towards Buðardalur. One could tell it was on official business – it was a sleek electric car, of a model which the government had purchased in bulk to provide for Federal Ministers, the Raðmaður and the President-Logmaður. Upon reaching the entrance to Buðardalur, the car pulled over to the side of the residence’s entrance and came to a steady halt. Its driver exited, pausing a moment to flatten out any creases in his jumper. He was wearing a Fair Isle jumper and light trousers – so typical in Arthuria that it had been called the country’s national dress. In that moment, most politically-engaged Arthurians would be able recognise the man as Andriður Jonsen, the Federal Minister of Defence. It was, by the way, an intentional act of the Storting to purchase government cars but not hire drivers – the latter, it was feared, would swell the egos of the Federal Ministers to an intolerable degree while the possession of a car would become a symbol of responsibility, or so the theory went. Cars aside, Jonsen met with the logreglanmaður1 outside the entrance who promptly keyed him into the residence itself. He descended below.

At the foot of the stairs was the main reception room of Buðardalur. It was sparse, the walls being bare clay interspersed with unvarnished wooden beams, and the floor being nothing more than some sort of dark wood planking. Nevertheless, it was warm. Hot water piped below the floorboards while the earthen surroundings maintained the temperature. The whole building had in fact been designed to be carbon negative. A room is not, however, its floor and walls; what makes a room is the space held by those walls. This room was small – a few metres wide and only slightly longer – and almost entirely empty. All that could be seen by way of decoration was an ink painting on the north-eastern wall, depicting a landscape of what looked like the southern mountains of Arthuria. Below the painting, on a small table, a dvergtrej2 pine sat solitary. The only other furniture in the room was a low sofa, opposite the display, to which Jónsson was ushered by a smiling old lady who appeared to be the residence’s housekeeper. He obliged, and settled in the sofa to ponder the artistic offering placed in front of him. The dvergtrej pine, he guessed, must represent the greener lands of Arthuria to the north. Whether that was what the creator of the ensemble had intended, he did not know, but he could appreciate his own interpretation of it.

Jonsen was not alone for long. After no more than three minutes one of the paper screens which separated the reception room from the rest of the residence was gently slid open, and from behind it emerged a woman of around sixty. She wore a kimono-like dress in a pale blue colour but otherwise undecorated, and her hair done up in a tight bun. Though clearly ageing, she was superbly graceful in her movements, and maintained a rigidly-upright posture.

“Raðmaður.” Jonsen rose, turned to face the woman, and bowed his head. She was Raðmaður Marin II3, a woman of some esteem in Arthuria.

“Andri.” She returned the bow and when her head rose again it bore a smile of genuine affection. “It is truly a delight to see you. Shall we take tea?”

Marin gestured to the open door from which she had just come. Without a word needing to be said – indeed, no word was meant to be said at this point in proceedings – the host led her guest out of the reception room and down a wide corridor to the right. They were heading deeper into the hill, and without natural sources of light the atmosphere became one of quietude, introspection and solemnity, enhanced by the orange glow of the lights. Beyond the corridor lay an antechamber, still with bare wooden floors, at which Marin stood to one side while Jonsen knelt down, removed his shoes, and placed them delicately onto a rack resting upon one of the walls. Once done, he turned around to face a water basin in the corner of the antechamber. It was low, only a foot or so off the ground, and made of heavy stone with a small wooden pipe protruding from the wall above and continuously pouring forth fresh water from what he assumed was a nearby spring. The basin itself was circular, though the opening into which the water flowed was square, reminiscent of an ancient eyrir4. Around the edge, four ancient runes were calved. He could not read them, but Jonsen had been told they stood for “J V B T” – “Jeg Veit Barun Tilfreder”, “I Know Only Satisfaction”. He stooped down to the basin and using the water scoop, washed his hands and face.

Making sure to replace the water scoop exactly where he had found it, Jonsen then rose once more and slid open a paper screen that had hidden a small doorway in the centre of the antechamber’s rear wall, no more than a metre tall. He knelt down – the only way he could get through the door – and entered the room beyond.

It was another small room – 2.865 metres on each edge, to be precise – and once more was barely decorated. The floor was covered in woven straw mats with a small square hearth in the centre and an alcove immediately opposite the entrance. In this alcove was another artistic arrangement. Again, an ink-painting of a mountain adorned the wall, but this time it was not recognisably Arthurian. Jonsen figured it was far to the north, in one of the greater nations of Noctur. Below this picture was a cracked marked clay vase, out of which rose a single edelweiss. Its white petals were in stark contrast to the darkness of the rest of the room. Jonsen knew that Marin would have chosen this particular combination of artwork and flower, and even the vase itself. It was, after all, Arthurian tradition that the host should design the tea ceremony to suit their guests, and so show the deep connection between one another. Being a deeply spiritual woman, Marin would not have allowed the housekeeper to deprive her of that honour. In this way, she reflected the society which she was chosen to represent.

Jonsen, once in the room, bowed to the flower arrangement and took his place around the central hearth, finally coming to kneel before it. He observed that the room was scrupulously clean. Not a speck of dust could be seen nor was any item out of place, but the space had not lost its authenticity. Everything within had signs of use, of the mundane, of the everyday, but had also been imbued with such care in its maintenance and selection for this specific tea ceremony. The tea cup, for example, was glistening in its cleanliness, but it showed signs of repair work. There was a crack along part of its surface, the glaze was uneven elsewhere. But in those imperfections lay the true beauty of the object, for beauty wasn’t in the ends but the path – it would be by reaching the image of perfection in his own head that Jonsen would understand true beauty, and the imperfections of the everyday were a stimulus to that realisation.

Only after Jonsen was seated did Marin join him in the room, from a different entrance to the one used by guests. Hers was just as small as the guests’ entrance, however, and she too was forced to bow upon entering. Not even the Raðmaður could hold onto pride in this place. Settling herself opposite Jonsen, Marin began the ceremony itself.

In front of her were all the utensils she would need: the bowl in which the tea would be mixed and from which it would be drunk, the wooden tea scoop, the split bamboo tea whisk, the caddy containing the tea powder, and the water scoop. Every item was positioned deliberately. Marin could pick each one up with the smallest of movements, resorting to the minimum of fuss, and in that efficiency and smoothness one could see the true beauty of the art. Indeed, she proceeded to do just this: having removed a small, linen cloth from the sash of her dress, she picked up each utensil in its correct turn and wiped it down. They were all already clean to the highest standards, but in this ceremony it was all about representing perfection, or at least the path towards it. This, Marin pulled off with supreme ease, making sure to replace each item exactly where it was meant to be.

Once she had finished the cleaning process, an integral part of the ceremony in itself, Marin turned to a large urn metal urn which had been boiling above the hearth since the two had arrived. One could hear the cascading water within. It evoked a mountain waterfall, in a way. Still using the linen cloth, Marin took hold of the lid and removed it, placing it down beside the urn and, after having folded it neatly, resting the cloth down too. Picking up the water scoop, she held it horizontally in front of her before taking hold of the handle in one hand. Her other hand she laid down on her lap lowering the scoop down into the urn. Empty it went in, and full it emerged. She did not allow it to overflow, however, as the scoop moved from kettle to bowl, depositing the water. Once emptied, the scoop was replaced atop the urn, the handle pointing towards Marin and the dipper resting gently on the rim.

Taking hold of the whisk, Marin dipped it into the tea bowl, twisting it delicately in her hands three times before resting it against the edge of the bowl, picking up the latter and tilting it so that it rested diagonally on the floor. She took charge of the whisk once more and brought it around the cup in a single, swift motion, pausing to remove it from the water and allow it to drip from the split bamboo back into the bowl. This was repeated four times before she resorted to a sustained whisking of the water for ten more quick revolutions, after which she paused once more, took the whisk entirely from the water, rested the bowl back in its position, and placed the whisk down in its place on the floor. The bowl was emptied of the warm water and a smaller cloth than the previous one was used to wipe it dry before being left next to the urn.

Marin continued. Taking the tea caddy and scoop, she removed the lid and placed it on the floor directly in front of her. From the caddy, she scooped two large heaps of the powdered green tea, dumping them in the bowl and evening out the resultant pile with a touch of the tea scoop. The lid was replaced. The caddy was placed back down on the floor next to the whisk. The tea scoop was laid on top of the caddy. Marin then picked up the water scoop once more, again dipping it into the urn and drawing water over to the bowl. This time, she did not empty the whole scoop into the bowl, pouring out only what water was necessary to mix the tea in an almost robotic tilting motion. Once finished, the remaining water was poured back into the urn and the scoop positioned as it had been before.

The whisk was taken up again, and instead of the delicate single-revolutions that had been used to clean the bowl, Marin immediately began to whisk in a smooth, steady but fast motion. Smooth is steady and steady is fast, as the saying goes. The whisk would go back and forth within the bowl rather than around the edge as it had before, and as the green tea mixture began to froth Marin would slow down the speed of her whisking. After a few seconds of this, she did one circular revolution of the bowl, placed it in a horizontal position back on the floor, and put the whisk neatly back in its place after having let any loose drops of tea caught in its bamboo drip back into the bowl.

The tea had been made. The ceremony, however, was far from complete. Picking up the bowl, Marin bowed her head and passed it over to Jonsen who took it from her and laid it down on the floor in front of him. Bowing once more, he lifted the bowl with his right hand and placed his left beneath it as a support, resting the bowl on his palm. He turned the bowl one quarter clockwise and brought it to his mouth. Three times he sipped the tea. Before placing it back down on the floor in front of him, Jonsen turned it one quarter anti-clockwise. He bowed to the tea, raised it in both hands and handed it back over to Marin, who also, taking it with her right hand and resting it on her left, turned it one quarter clockwise and took three sips, finishing the tea.

The cleaning process was very much as before, each utensil being offered Marin's full attention as Jonsen watched, taking in the dedication. By the end of the ceremony, it was as if no tea had touched the bowl, the scoop or the whisk. All were pristine. All were resting in the exact positions they had been when Jonsen had entered. The ceremony was complete. Marin gestured to the exit, and the two of them left in silence, bowing, just as they had entered.

The tea ceremony is no mere frivolity. It plays an important role in Arthurian culture. It promotes hygiene through the cleanliness of the participants and the utensils, it is economic in favouring the simple pleasures of life, and it is democratic: every participant is humbled before it, and all who partake become on a level with the Raðmaður for all are, indeed, a Raðmaður of sorts. Perhaps more than anything, the tea ceremony influences Arthurian morality to this day by giving defining the peoples’ sense of proportion to the universe. Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others. From this belief comes the Arthurian saying that a person “has no tea” in them, by which is meant they cannot appreciate life’s comedy, absurdity and beauty. Conversely, one may have “too much tea” within them, whereby every mundane tragedy brings tears and fear – the sign of the aesthete. Those tears will drain the cup of human enjoyment if let loose unhindered: we must accept that perfection is unattainable. And yet that same cup may overflow if we resort to the simple pursuit of pleasure. The cup of human enjoyment is indeed small, and yet the tea cup is just the right size for it: it allows one to appreciate the smallest, simplest of pleasures in life. To share a cup of tea with a guest – a friend, no less – is one of those pleasures which is far too often ignored.

“Delighted as I would have been, you aren’t here just to take tea with an old woman.” Marin said. They were well away from the tea room now, walking towards Buðardalur’s gardens.

“No, Raðmaður.”

Marin looked over to Andri with a wry smile. The two of them were strolling alongside one another, leaving the confines of the residence and stepping out onto a terrace within what looked like the courtyard of the old ruins.

“Disarmament, I presume?”

Jonsen was surprised at Marin's guess. He had not mentioned the purpose of his visit previously, though she must have been informed that it was official business. All he could deduce was that Marin had a keen eye for the political scene in Arthuria. He shot an admiring smile over at her, confirmation in itself that she had guessed correctly.

“The Basic Law may strip me of political power, but I am still a part of this government. I am obliged to know its workings.”

“Of course, Raðmaður.”

“So, Andri. Speak freely.” Marin stopped, and Jonsen followed suit, both turning out to view the scene in front of them.

They were in Buðardalur’s rock garden, famous around the country. It was a 25 metre by 10 metre rectangle of white gravel, meticulously raked into straight lines stretching from one end to the other. Within this field of gravel, rising out of mossy circles, were five groups of stones, each selected from the surrounding valley placed with absolute forethought. The largest group was of five stones, to the upper right of the observers’ views. From this point, spreading out along the rest of the garden was a group of two stones, a group of three stones, another group of two stones and, finally, on the furthest edge from the first stones, another group of two. All of the stones were different in size, and their shapes varied. Emanating from around the mossy patches, which acted as the base of these five groups, the gravel had been raked into circles as if rippling away from the stones themselves. Like the flower arrangement in the tea room, Jonsen was sure that Marin had raked this garden too. The meaning was too close to her heart for her to rely on others.

Along the back of the garden was the old stone wall of the ruins. Though the majority of the remaining castle walls were a dark grey which shimmered when wet, this particular section was noticeably lighter and had become mossy over the years. It was high enough that it blocked the view of the valley beyond, except for at one point just left-of-centre of the garden. At this place, the wall had collapsed back into the valley, creating a V-shape that afforded a spectacular view of the landscape, including both valley sides and the stream itself. At roughly two o’clock in the afternoon at this time of the year, the sun would shine directly over this gap in the wall and illuminate the garden in a uniquely beautiful way.

It was said that when viewed from any angle, no one could see all fifteen of the stones in Buðardalur’s rock garden. Only by finding inner peace would the fifteenth stone come into view.

“The people have brought a Popular Initiative5 to referendum. They want to disarm unilaterally, and it looks as though they’ll win.”

“Are you troubled by this?”

Jonsen was still for a moment, looking out over the rock garden. “I’m scared, Raðmaður.”

Marin looked over at him, glancing into his eyes with a look of sheer sympathy. She said nothing, however, merely turning back towards the garden. For three minutes the two stood side by side, looking out over those great, mysterious stones, the valley calm behind them.

“The people want to disarm and I can’t deny them that. But is now the right time?” Jonsen spoke. “War breaks out in the Orient and the Occident. Great nations direct their energies towards conquest. In this world, small countries suffer what they must. We are a small country, but for nearly fifty years we have weathered the storm with the help of our nuclear deterrent. And now, when we most need it, the people want to throw it away.”

“Look at what lies in front of you, Andri.” Marin gestured towards the garden. “What do you see?”

Again, Jonsen paused. He would prefer to think about any response before rushing into it. Fools spoke first.

“Islands. In a stream. They are resolute against the flow.”

“Do you know what I see, Andri?” Marin retorted. “I see mountaintops, rising above the clouds.”

He nodded. There was much silence in this meeting, much time to stop and think. Buðardalur was conducive to such meditative outlooks.

“The mountain is strong; it is resolute like islands surrounded by water. But it also rises above what we believe our limits to be. It provides a path towards heaven. Islands will eventually be eroded. They shall fall into the water that nips at their feet. All the while, the mountain shall stand.”

“The edelweiss.” Jonsen whispered. He had realised what it had meant – why Marin had placed it in the tea room.

“Yes, Andri. The edelweiss. Perhaps the people do not see the world as you do. Perhaps they live life as the edelweiss. Purity in the midst of a harsh reality.”

“And yet the edelweiss will wither…”

“And return.” Marin interrupted sharply. “I know Arthurian nuclear policy, Andri. Tyr6 is the biggest threat to this nation. Resort to it, and that edelweiss will not bloom the following year. Resort to Tyr and the mountain will crumble. This is what the people fear, far more than they fear the wars in far-off Nocturian climes.”

“If we’re talking straight politics now, Raðmaður, then we should all be afraid of those wars. They will engulf us eventually.”

“I have lived through many wars, Andri. They are tragic, but they bring order to this world of ours. We would rather live without them, but until the day comes that we can shake the bonds of nations and joint together as one, we must accept that wars may be used to limit our suffering rather than perpetuate it. And yet that suffering has not reached Arthuria for over 150 years – well before our nuclear deterrent became part of the calculation.”

“Times change.”

“Some things remain the same. Nuclear deterrence has a strategic value, but I would not like to be the one to benefit from such a strategy. In its ultimate end, it implies the use of nuclear weapons, and those who resort to such things are tainted.”

Jonsen finally broke his gaze from the garden and the valley beyond. He turned to face Marin, bowed his head and said calmly, “Raðmaður, I have come in my capacity as Federal Minister of Defence to inform you that a Popular Initiative has gained the support of the Arthurian people. The Federal Government will consequently hold a referendum on whether to disarm the Arthurian Federation’s nuclear arsenal. In the spirit of democratic governance and balance of powers, does your office understand what it has been informed of this day?”

“It does.” Marin smiled that same warm smile that had first greeted Jonsen, and returned the head-bow. Jonsen, returning the smile, turned to re-enter the house.

“Andri.” He heard the voice call after him. As he turned to face Marin once more, he saw her gesturing towards a veranda overlooking the garden. “Stay. Sit.” She was still smiling.

After yet another pause, Jonsen turned the way he had come and moved back into the garden. The sun was just starting to align with the valley behind that crumbling section of the wall. The two friends calmly knelt down, hands resting on their laps and backs upright, facing out towards the garden.

The view out across the valley was serene at this time of year. On a day such as this one, when the clouds were gone and the sky shone blue, the rocky mountains of the northern tip of Geldungur could just about be seen in the distance, their summits barely recognisable in the azure haze. In the silence around them, both saw these mountains, and both were pleased.





1A logreglanmaður is a police officer. The literal translation is "Being of the Law Order".

2Dvergtrej is the native Arthurian form of the art of bonsai.

3The Raðmaður is the Steward of the Arthurian Federation. The literal translation is "Councilperson". The office acts as the head of state of the Arthurian Federation and its holder is selected by a vote of the Alting from among the Landmød. Arthuria is therefore a non-hereditary, electoral, constitutional principality. The Raðmaður is politically neutral and not involved in the legislative or executive process. The office is purely ceremonial.

4An eyrir (plural: aurar) was the former Arthurian unit of currency. Before the 17th century an eyrir was represented by a circular coin with a square hole through the centre.

5A Popular Initiative is a constitutional means by which 100,000 citizens can propose legislation or an amendment to the Basic Law. If approved, a Popular Initiative must be taken to referendum and enacted by the relevant federal, cantonal or communal government.

6Tyr is the third phase of Arthurian nuclear strategy. It assumes an enemy has invaded the Arthurian Isles and is about to overwhelm the last defensive lines. Nuclear warheads will be detonated throughout the country, turning it into a wasteland and destroying any invading force in the process. It is designed to strip the Isles of any potential value to would-be invaders.
Last edited by The Arthurian Isles on Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:30 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Nui-ta
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Ex-Nation

Pride and Prejudice. But Mostly Prejudice...

Postby Nui-ta » Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:06 am

A.N 122

It wasn't always hot in East Rahku City.

Technically, the easternmost portions of the city were mashed into the western portions of downtown Kaurizil, which was the capital of the neighboring state of Sangaur. Even though they were two different states, East Rahku City and West Kaurizil were collectively known as "the Rahku-Sangaur Interdistrict Zone", because of how close everything was to everything else in this area. This was perhaps the only place in Nui-ta where you could bus between two major cities and have it take no longer than an hour, without some kind of technological marvel.

If Nui-ta were a federation, then perhaps this would have been a federal territory, not unlike Radiatia's Xerconia FCT: but despite the states having different cultures and slightly different rules, due to having all been different countries long, long ago --- a blanket national law-code resulted in only nominal amount of "state governments" compared to the national one.

The Rahku-Sangaur Interdistrict Zone, or Rasiz (pronounced "rha-sis") as it was colloquially known, was where many prominent government figures lived and worked. It wasn't far away from the residence of the Emperor, who lived just past the Sangaur-affiliated portions of Rasiz, nor was it far away from Parliament, which was right on the western edge. Embassies to Nui-ta from other countries were located in Rasiz, and as a result, Rasiz was the Nui-tan stomping ground of a young Johanna Ivers.

Rasiz, if you had the money, was a fine place to raise a family and send a child to school. The political elite of Nui-ta were not simply going to send their kids anywhere to get an education, and the Royal Academy, located just slightly on the Sangaur-side of Rasiz, made sure to capitalize upon that fact. The R.A had always been an "elite" primary school within Nui-ta (with primary considered being ages 4-13). Before the fall of apartheid, the school was so exclusive that being a member of the nobility wasn't enough to send a child there: you either had to be a Baron, which was the highest class of noble underneath the Royal Family itself...or you had to be someone whose parents were owed quite a few favors from the upper-crust.

Since the fall of apartheid, and more notably since the end of the Partition, the barrier of class was less of an issue. The school was still dominated by descendants of the nobility, but the extremely intelligent, extremely wealthy, or extremely hard-working were also becoming more common around the school's hallways. Nevertheless, while no longer policy, it was not unheard to hear students be addressed respectfully by the titles bestowed on their families --- some things just never died.

Monsignoura Johanna Ivers was no exception. The title of "Monsignour" had been bestowed by the Monarchy one year upon a select group of foreign officials in Nui-ta. Specifically, these were ambassadors to Nui-ta from Radiatia and Detectatia, two nations which Nui-ta maintained especially close relations with. As the daughter of Monsignour Josko Ivers, an ambassador who would ultimately have over a decade of service with Nui-ta, there was no questioning the use of the title for Johanna.

Good ol' Nui-tan aristocracy.

Johanna's father, during her time in Nui-ta, was a highly-respected Radiatian ambassador to Nui-ta. Mr. Ivers was so respected, in fact, that he was one of three foreign diplomats to be given a special place in Nui-ta's nobility somewhere.

Johanna's mother was many things. Johanna could vaguely remember something involving politics, in which many people including Kiana had once supposed that she'd also do well in the field of politics. This had been long abandoned and long forgotten, partially because Kiana had no real aptitude for politics (despite having some admittedly good ideas about the nation and the world), and partially because Kiana soon found that she had strengths elsewhere.

What the political stint lacked, the career in the military swiftly made up for, and while people in Nui-ta never knew Kiana as an MP, they instead became somewhat afraid of her as Lieutenant-Colonel Ivers, an ethnically-Hadinian woman in her mid-30s at the time, who had somehow managed to defy all of Nui-ta's class-based and patriarchal expectations, and take a position as the second-in-command over a regiment of 1,200 Elite Corps soldiers. Even though Josko and Johanna could likely sense that something was gradually weakening in Kiana on a physical level, Kiana had yet to lose the toughness that would one day cause her to throw herself in between Johanna and a much larger Nui-tan man with a grudge against Hadinians.

Long story short, Johanna was the lone child of an esteemed Radiatian statesman and a Hadinian/Nui-tan/Radiatian military officer. What other school to go to, for such a child, than one of the best?

A.N 122 was a good year for a then 11-year old Johanna. She'd now been at the school for a few years, certainly long enough to get over any awkwardness that would originally have come from being in school in a country that is not one's own. By now, in her knee-length blue uniform skirt, white pressed-blouse, stockings, and school shoes (all schools in Nui-ta mandated uniforms; such was another part of the culture), Johanna could walk and talk and fit in just as easily as the next kid.

She was still unusual, as one of the only pale-complexioned students in a room full of Nui-tans, with their darker complexions, even though lots of play-time in the warm Nui-tan sun had given Johanna a bit of a tan. Among the foreign children of her grade, she was the only blonde. While these "unusual" features had isolated her at first, she soon became too fascinating to be ostracized, and Nui-tan girls were remarking on her long, straight, golden hair in bold admiration, rather than angst or jealousy.

There were always bullies though.

The first time Johanna heard the word "Hadhovok", which was an ethnic slur directed at people of Hadinian descent, she had to ask her friend Kana what that meant. Though years of schooling in Nui-ta had made Johanna capable in the Melodian language, she lacked the luxury of it being her mother-tongue.

"WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT?!" Kana i-Harendo was loud as usual, in stark contrast to the meeker Johanna. Their friendship certainly worked out though, firstly because Kiana Ivers was a long-time friend of Kana's father, and secondly because the more athletic and outspoken Kana was very protective of meek little Johanna. It didn't hurt to have a friend a couple years older who loved to stand up to bullies every once in a while.

"I..." Johanna whimpered. "You know that one boy in my class that sits behind me? Arjun Revolo?"

Arjun was the son of Nui-ta's former ambassador to the Humanitarian League, a year ahead of Johanna, and a year below Kana. He was also known for bullying Johanna frequently, usually by calling her "ugly" because of her pale features.

"Want me to yell at him?" Kana grinned, although it was an odd grin, twisted with anger. "I'll do it too..."

"No..." Johanna trailed off. "It...it can't mean anything that bad, can it?"

"It means---" Kana said, before immediately stopping herself.

"Means what?" Johanna asked, assuming a tiny, tiny bit of the "politician voice" that made her father become magically intimidating on the few times she heard him address anyone with it.

"Uh...um..." Kana gulped. "L-listen. I don't wanna repeat it. Just let me yell at him, will you?"

"You're gonna get in trouble for picking fights," Johanna advised. "Didn't you punch Hajan Muura when he called your little brother "chubby"? You couldn't come to the park to play with me for a week!""

Kana protested. "Hey! I didn't deserve to get grounded". A little older than Johanna, the 13-year old i-Harendo girl was at that young adolescence point of becoming a bit rebellious.

"Kana, you made him cry".

"Well he made my baby brother cry".

"You punched him. That's a little different..." Johanna rolled her eyes, before adding, "and my mum said the only reason you didn't get grounded longer is because I wanted to play with you so your dad let you out to be nice to me".

Kana blushed. "You're the best. Now I have to punch Arjun".

"What could it possibly mean to be something you punch him over?"

Another voice cut into the conversation. "What's all this about punching?"

It was Crivan, Kana's twin (technically older) brother. At 13 years of age, the i-Harendo twins were in their last year of primary school. Next year, they would age out and transfer over to secondary-schools, depending on their choice of coursework and the results of many exams typical to that last and final year of primary school.

Crivan was at an awkward point in puberty. He was going through a growth spurt, now standing taller than the two girls despite being about the same age. He'd been blessed with a bit of muscle, but cursed with a constantly cracking voice and an unusual amount of clumsiness, as his brain struggled to keep up with the fact that his arms and legs were longer than they'd ever been before.

He was also beginning to behave differently. Where his sister had become boisterous and outspoken, Crivan's "awkward teenage years" consisted of him becoming very quiet, dressing in the darkest uniform could find, and shying away from certain people while he secretly realized that he had an interest in both boys and girls. Johanna found it "cool" and harbored a slight crush on him (among other boys) as a result.

There he was, addressing her and his younger sister, whom he'd mainly approached because of some family-thing or another that Johanna didn't quite catch. Right now, Johanna was too engrossed in the current "Hadhavok plus punching" situation to feel nervous around Crivan, For a split second, she thought she saw his face redden.

Maybe she just imagined it?

"You wanna get into more trouble with Dad?" Crivan sighed, taking the paternal (and somewhat bossy) tone that eldest siblings tended to have.

"Janhau*! Arjun totally deserves it".
Janhau is a polite way in which one addresses one's older brother.

"Maybe he does, but why?"

"He called her a---"

She cut off again.

"Called her a what, exactly?"

Kana blushed. "Lets not...I don't wanna say".

"Then don't go punching him. Dad's not gonna want to hear it and you know Mum's too sick to say anything, but---"

"---He called me a Hadhovok." As soon as Johanna said that last word, she suddenly felt the entire situation come to a screeching halt. Kana's jaw had nearly dropped to the floor, and Johanna was increasingly surprised to see the normally "cool" Crivan's eyes bug out of his head for a moment.

"A...a what?" Johanna noticed Crivan's jaw locking. She was used to seeing Kana angry. Kana was the type to get angry over absolutely nothing....but seeing Crivan get angry was something entirely different.

"A Hadhovok."

Crivan's eyes narrowed. "And do you know what that means?" Kana was shaking her head in protest, trying to stop Crivan from enlightening Johanna as to the nature of what it was that she'd been called.

"I...I have no idea".

"Quick question, Johanna. Your mum's Hadinian, right?"

"Y-yes...what does that have to do with anything?"

Crivan looked at her coldly. "It means you're a piece of trash, literally speaking you're a piece of kindling for a furnace".

Johanna was floored, as Crivan explained. "Not my words, mind you, but that is what...Arjun was it, said to you". His eyes softened a little bit --- Johanna had gone from clueless to in tears within seconds.

"Why would you just go out and tell her that?" Kana hissed, trying to keep her voice down.

"She should know," Crivan elaborated, before turning Johanna to face a crowd of students around her age. It was recess --- most of the older kids were running around a recreational area in the school and playing.

"I'm curious. Which one is he?"

Johanna stared blankly for a moment into the crowd before wordlessly pointing at one child in particular. Crivan immediately grabbed her hand and pulled her in that general direction.

Arjun Revolo seemed nice enough, if one knew nothing of the events that transpired beforehand. Playing tag with a bunch of other Nui-tan boys, Arjun thought nothing at first when he was stopped by Crivan i-Harendo with the words, "can we talk?"

"Sure!" Arjun said, before noticing Johanna squirming nervously in Crivan's grasp.

"Hey, aren't you the Prime Minister's kid?" Arjun asked. "Kuan or something?"

'"Crivan".

"Whatcha doing holding hands with ugly?"

Johanna felt more tears well up in her eyes, before noticing that Crivan had remained perfectly composed. Something was off...

"Ugly?" Crivan asked.

"Yeah, blondie. She's so gross with her freaky paleness! It's like looking at a sheet of printer paper!"

Watching Johanna cry was giving Arjun more of the false confidence that bullies tended to get from that sort of intimidation. It took a moment before he turned his attention towards Crivan.

"You're still holding her hand....oooohhh. You like ugly!"

He grinned. "Crivan and ugly sitting in a tree. Ugly's giving Crivan cooties!"

"Let's get straight to the point," Crivan smiled pleasantly. "Did you call Johanna a hadhovok today?" There was silence from all three kids, Johanna, Crivan, and Arjun, before Arjun spoke.

"So what if I did?"

"You should really apologize". Crivan pulled Johanna forward.

"Go ahead. Make this easy. Say, "I'm sorry Johanna"".

"And what happens if I don't?"

"You will".

"No way. Go away, ugly Hadhovok".

"You sure you won't apologize?"

Arjun stuck his tongue out in response.

"Last chance..."

"Hey, Crivan, or Kuan, or whatever your name is, fuck of---"

SMACK

Johanna watched, stunned to complete silence, as Crivan wound his free arm back and gave Arjun a solid punch to the face. A few people stopped and turned as Arjun wailed a little bit, before looking back up at Crivan. Teachers were walking over. Johanna felt her knees tense up, even though Crivan had quickly let go of Johanna (to avoid implicating her).

"She's a fucking colonist! Why would you punch me?"

"She's my friend".

"You shouldn't be friends with her though! You're a noble!"

"...I'm a halfie*".
"Halfie" is a colloquial term for someone who is mixed-race/mixed-class in Nui-ta. It's not the most politically correct, but it isn't a slur.

As soon as Crivan said, Arjun had sprang up to return the punch, but by this time, the teachers were close enough to break up the fight and drag both boys away to the headmaster's office. Johanna felt a pang go through her chest when a teacher told her to report to the office as well, followed by a quick sigh of relief when she was told that she was only being called in because she had seen the "fight", rather than because of any disciplinary action.

At the end of the day, she was proceeding to the bus-stop when Kana cornered her.

"OH. MY. GOD. Crivan is in SO much trouble. I've NEVER seen dad angry with him before!"

This was true. Although Johanna had told the headmaster that Crivan had reacted in the way that he did because Arjun had been harassing her, and because Arjun had a much longer behavioral record than Crivan (this was Crivan's only offense), Crivan's punishment had been significantly lightened...at school.

He'd still gotten 4 demerits*, because he had thrown the first actual punch. Furthermore, the issuance of demerits meant that Crivan's rather terrifying father was now going to be getting a call while at work, which Johanna realized meant that she'd likely be seeing very little of him for a while.
A demerit, for those unaware, are points on your behavioral record against you. Depending on school policy, accruing a certain number within a certain amount of time can result in serious punishment, including suspensions, detentions, non-participation in leisure events, etc...

She wasn't expecting to see him at her doorstep a week later with a piece of paper.

"My dad's making me write you a formal apology...don't tell him this, because he thinks it's something fancy, but all it really says is "I'm sorry I punched a guy in the face for calling you bad things".

She laughed at him. He laughed back. "He only grounded me for a week too. I'm surprised....although I did get a really long lecture about composing myself....and the "proper" way to handle these kinds of situations....and not dragging girls by their wrists to coerce apologies from other people..."

"Oh, and there was also some bit on how if it was "back in his day", the headmaster would have been allowed to cane me".

He rolled his eyes, trying to seem as "cool" as possible about the situation. "...I didn't tell my Dad that my Mum snuck through the files, found my dad's old report cards, and my dad's records are so much worse than mine. And how she's totally cool with it...except the dragging you part, which I am actually sorry about".

"That's funny," Johanna laughed, peeking at the paper. Underneath the one-sentence apology was a "P.S. I'm really sorry if your wrist hurts. I'll admit that part was kinda bad..."

"Anyway, 15 demerits, and he's yelling at my 4." Crivan laughed. "I'm still wondering how he didn't get expelled....then again, it was military school so that explains why they just kicked the shit out of him. Oh by the way, guess what I'm not applying for?"

She sighed. "Some people are just really prejudiced, I guess. My mum couldn't believe someone actually called me that. She thinks you're cool by the way, just saying..."

She looked at him seriously. "I didn't know you were a halfie". This was a far more serious thing in Nui-ta. During the apartheid, Kiana had explained to Johanna later, colonists were looked-down upon, but still technically possessive of some place within Nui-tan societies. Mixed-class persons, like Crivan, were forced into exile in Ocini (and not the beaches of Ocini, or be execute). Many were killed outright at birth by the government...and this was all only a generation ago.

The world had come so far in such a short amount of time, and yet it required so much more progress. Somewhere, however, watching Crivan shrug off the idea of being "half" of anything, Johanna wondered if maybe, in time, the world would get where it needed to be.
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Varisea
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Founded: Feb 17, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby Varisea » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:33 pm

Midnight Chariot


Dr. Victor Stepankov, Project Director at Mobius Defense Armaments, gazed lovingly at his masterpiece. The Zorya Main Battle Tank was the pinnacle of Varisean technological prowess, a magnificent death machine that would send the Ground Security Force hurtling into the future. Named after the Varisean goddess of Midnight, its fearsome 125mm smoothbore “Striker” cannon could devastate even the heaviest of foreign tanks, and new advances (and stolen foreign blueprints) made it more accurate than ever before. Its powerful engines gave it a maximum speed of 65 kilometers an hour and its defenses were state of the art. The Zorya MBT was equipped with three layers of defenses, each one more sophisticated than the last. The first level was simple, a basic armor shell made up of a steel-composite-reactive blend that allowed the tank to survive a hideous amount of firepower. The second level was its advanced Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA), which helped give the Zorya’s turret its distinctive clam-like profile. Personally Victor though that the Zorya’s turret looked more like a shark’s head, but so far he had made little headway at convincing the rest of the design team. The third layer was its electronic countermeasures suit, which consisted of various infrared, radio, and thermal jammers. The Zorya was, in his totally unbiased opinion, a work of genius. Of course, that didn’t stop those idiot bean counters in the General Staff from blowing every insignificant detail completely out of proportion. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the most maneuverable vehicle in the world. Sure, maybe the engines kept stalling. Sure, the first four prototypes had blown themselves up, and yeah- perhaps 10 million Scripts was a bit expensive. But still- just look at it. The Mobius Defense Armaments Prototype Z5 sat in the abandoned warehouse like a tiger lounging in its den. Its armor was adorned with a plain matte black paintjob, save for its designation “MDA P.Z5” stenciled in ruby red on the left side of its turret. The paint glistened under the large spotlights, as if the tank was wrapped in a cloak of shadows like its namesake. It had no fuel, no crew, and no ammunition but it still radiated an aura of bloodlust. The Zorya was a hunter, like the wolves that had hounded early Varisean civilization for so long. It was made to kill, to send its enemies fleeing in terror before running them into the earth. Now all he had to do was make those idiots see it. Victor started as a voice snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Try not to get drool all over the coaxial machinegun Boss. Those bigshots from the Defense Force will be here tomorrow, and I don’t think either of us wants to explain why yet another part of the design malfunctioned.”

The speaker was none other than Inna Shvernik, the project’s assistant director and his second in command. The two of them worked together perfectly. Victor was calculating and a brilliant engineer, but his social skills were… lacking, and his massive ego quickly earned him the disdain of many of his peers. Inna was warm and approachable and made sure the team worked together without being bogged down in petty infighting. When not managing the team or Victor, she spent her time fighting for every single Script in their budget while simultaneously wining over even the staunchest of critics. Of course, she was also an exceptional engineer, and was quite skilled at noticing tiny flaws that Victor was willing to overlook. They, along with a team of the most brilliant engineers in Varisea and a worrying amount of State Security Force personnel, were responsible for creating the GSF’s next generation Main Battle Tank. Unfortunately, the project was plagued with numerous issues from the very beginning.

The Defense Force wanted a tank that rivaled or even exceeded those used by the so called ‘superpowers’ of Noctur, equipped with state of the art technology. Unfortunately for them (and Victor’s career) the military technology used by nations such as Segland was years ahead of anything Varisea had. In addition, while the Varisean economy was experiencing an incredible time of growth it was still nowhere near as large as countries like Nui-ta. The government simply didn’t have as many resources to invest in the Defense Force as other countries. Even with budget increase after budget increase flowing into the Ministry of Defense it was still an uphill battle to catch up to the modern world. It certainly didn’t have the money to throw away at useless “wonder weapons,” as visiting officers from other branches of the Defense Force had put it. So far this project, the Advanced Vehicle Development Project, had dealt with these problems the same way Mobius Defense Armaments always had- workarounds, substitutes, and espionage.

Rather than start from scratch, the design was based off whatever blueprints could be “appropriated” from other countries by the VSS. Systems too advanced for Varisean engineers to replicate were “dumbed down,” replaced with natively produced equipment that did roughly the same thing. Unnecessary equipment such as laser based secondary communication and sophisticated Active Protection Systems were scrapped entirely and worked around in order to save time and money. What little information the Varisean Secret Service was able to scrape together about the capabilities of foreign tanks was pored over constantly. The end result was, as Inna had so elegantly put it, a poor man’s Main Battle Tank. In battle it is nearly as capable as any other 3rd generation tank, but its other systems aren’t nearly as sophisticated as those in equivalent tanks. Also, the Zorya tended to explode far more often than other tanks. Victor frowned at that. Perhaps that could be marketed as a feature?

"Alright then, no need to risk our budget any more than we have too. I'll head to the conference room and make sure the presentation is all set, get those lazy gear monkeys to get the prototype ready for its grand debut."

Without waiting for her response Victor turned and walked briskly towards the exit, pausing only for one final glance at his 'baby.' Inna watched him go with a quiet sigh, before heading out towards the garage. Victor always got ansy whenever his work, and by extent his abilities, were questioned. As the inspection loomed Inna just hoped he wouldn't do something stupid like punch an admiral in the face.

Again.

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USS Monitor wrote:I think this thread is already an RP. It's so disconnected from reality.

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Economic Left/Right: -1.25
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Libertarian (Center) Leftist, Secular Humanist
More than you ever wanted to know about america's foreign policy

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Hadin
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Ex-Nation

The Devil's Amnesty (Pt. 2)

Postby Hadin » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:27 pm

Hans Yarringsen had never known a free Hadin. Being born almost two years after the end of Hadin's time as a Nui-tan colony, Hans had grown up without any awareness of the connection between the two nations.

He'd been born in Nui-ta; on a military base in the state of Yevzar, where Nui-ta's reputation for being a beautiful tourist attraction quickly disappeared amid the roar of various mining and logging operations. Despite this, Hans had never seen Rahku City. His father was originally from Alinia, a state that was Hadinian-controlled until five years before Han's birth, after which it was turned over to Nui-ta in a land exchange.

Hans had never seen Alinia either, that he could remember.

What Hans had seen of Hadin involved the Lucas Doctrine, which were a set of important amendments to the fundamental legal code of Hadin, which was known as the Rosario Doctrine. The Rosario Doctrine was named after Rosario Labriolla, who was Hadin's "founding father" of sorts, while the Lucas Doctrine was named after Lucas Labriola, the second High-Envoy after his cousin Rosario.

Han's father had repatriated to the country of Hadin two years before the Lucas Doctrine was formally issued, leaving the Yarringsen family under a good bit of suspicion within the country. Although attitudes were definitely changing, Hans quickly found out that he had a relative on the Genus somewhere, with a bounty of 500,000 Dir attached, who was wanted for association with a democratic group of Hadinians who had been wiped out under Rosario Labriolla. Han's father had apparently tipped off the Hadinian government as to where they could potentially find the woman in question, but the leads soon led the Hadinian government outside of their jurisdiction: she was living in Nui-ta somewhere.

This was a common trend. Hadinians who were unhappy with their lives in Nui-ta would repatriate and take their entire families with them. Said return-citizens would then do as much as they possibly could to regain the good graces of the government of their native Hadin. In the case of the Yarringsens, Yeina Yarringsen (Hans's father) had brought classified military information over from Nui-ta.

He also had a 14-year old son, Hans, who was a child in Nui-ta, but old enough in Hadin to be immediately conscripted into the military. The next five years of Hans's life had not been particularly kind.

While he was away, serving with the Hadinian People's Navy, he had an aunt --- not the traitor; different aunt --- return to Hadin. This event happened concurrently with the formal introduction of the Lucas Doctrine, which gave amnesty and rights to many repatriating Hadinians from other parts of Noctur, provided they were Septimists, and that they weren't listed on the Genus. Having family on the Genus, though, was no longer a problem.

The aunt had just divorced her husband, who was apparently a Nui-tan politician. As soon as the divorce papers were filed, aunt Aurana boarded the first plane to Hadin and never looked back, citing some sort of personal difference which Hans could have really cared less about. Much to the chagrin of the Hadinian government, Aurana was unable to leak any interesting information about the Nui-tan government to Hadin. They quickly forgave her though, partially because of the Lucas Doctrine, partially because Aurana was as Septimist as it could ever get, and mainly because there was a shortage of women in Hadin at the time, with repatriating men often finding that their wives would refuse to cross the border.

Hans emerged from his time in military service as a very different person, in a very different world. The biggest blow was returning home at 19, after being cooped-up on ships and the occasional naval base for 5 years, only to find out that his mother had been killed in a domestic accident.

Domestic accident. This was the Hadinian way of politely saying that a Hadinian woman had been killed by her male relatives in what other countries would call a domestic abuse situation. In Hadin, women were nothing more than the property of the men in their lives. Knowing this, Hans was further distraught to hear that he'd had sisters who were being married off. Their entire fates would hinge on how nice the new men in their lives were, and this was one hell of a crap-shoot for anyone to take.

Powerless, he could do nothing but watch them get picked off, one by one. As a male, he was expected to find work and buy himself a wife at some point. Here was the next problem: sexuality. Hans found himself far more interested and intrigued by the thought of another man, rather than any of these women who were being offered up to him in exchange for coin. Hans was also something of a romantic, but that wouldn't matter here --- homosexuality was illegal and a capital offense in Hadin.

He told his relatives he was saving up his money for a better choice of wives. What he was really doing was saving his money in hopes of finding a way to get the hell out of Hadin.

Segland wasn't the greatest country, in Hans's opinion, but they weren't going to kill him for being homosexual. Furthermore, it was relatively easy to get a visa to travel to Segland. Getting one for Nui-ta was out of the question, even though he was a Nui-tan citizen by birth, not because Nui-ta wouldn't let him in, but because there was no way in hell he could just hop on any old Hadinian plane and expect it to land in Nui-ta. Radiatia was slightly easier, but it would still arouse too much suspicion, especially if he wanted to stay in Radiatia.

Not only that, but what if his siblings? What of any nieces or nephews he had, who would potentially be subjected to the same traumatic circumstances, generation after generation. What of this aunt he'd never met, who would never be allowed to return to Hadin (unless she wanted to be burned to death for high treason)?

He slowly but surely came to the realization that he was not a runner. He was a fighter. The only question now became how to fight something as absolute and massive as a government run by God.

It was a fateful conversation with his father and aunt that started it all.




Aunt Aurana was visiting again. She did that frequently, mainly because she made it her business to make sure everyone in the family was going to church and keeping up with God, and also because she found it "unbecoming" for her older brother to live alone as a widower.

"Did you say Matins today?"

Morning prayers. Ever since realizing he was gay, and hearing that he was damned to a fiery eternity because of it, Hans had lost faith in the idea of there being a God.

"Yes, Aunt Aurana," Hans said obediently. He was lying, of course. Matins for him consisted of mumbling nonsense under his breath for about three minutes every morning, while striking a pose as if he was praying. This kept his father off of his back. In Hadin, unmarried adult children tended to remain home longer. Women stayed behind until they were married, while men would stall for a short while, to accrue enough money to settle down, but eventually leave home. Hans was still home, in order to keep up the charade that he was saving his money for a good choice of wives.

Aurana smiled at him, none the wiser. "Such a good boy, Hans. Did you know you're my favorite nephew?"

His father Yeina, who'd previously been watching the news broadcast on the television, cut into the conversation. "He's your only nephew".

"Maybe the other aunt has some boys we don't know about," Hans quipped, immediately earning Aurana's ire. Hers was a cold anger, in which she'd purse her lips, give him a glare and a scowl, and then say quietly "We don't talk about your "other" aunt".

"You'd know more about her than either of us," Yeina told Aurana. "You were in Nui-ta longer. I'm surprised you and K--...she didn't spend more time together".

"K--...she was too busy doing ungodly things, like serving in the Nui-tan military and shooting down Hadinian soldiers," Aurana hissed. "I don't think there's a decent mother in such a person".

"Did...she ever have any kids?" Hans asked innocently. Yeina shrugged, indicating that he had no clue. Aurana spoke up.

"A little girl, apparently. I never bothered asking anything else".

Hans was used to the idea of family being close-by for the birth of a new child. This mentality prompted the next question, "you never met the little girl?"

Aurana scowled. "I...I was never invited..." There was a bit of hesitation to her answer.

Hans mumbled something along the lines of 'sorry', before Aurana changed the subject.

"So Hans, my boys are at class right now, but they were needing some tutoring on their Latin. You wouldn't mind coming over and helping them for a bit? I'll make it worth 50 Dir for that little marriage fund of yours".

Hans chuckled, a bit nervously. Every time he heard the words "marriage fund", he felt more and more ridiculous for having to lie about his true intentions with the money.

"Erm...sure, Aunt Aurana. That sounds like a good idea".

"By Septima, would you look at this?" Yeina pointed to the television screen. "There's been another bombing of a church by UMBRA".

"UMBRA?" Hans asked.

"A terrorist group," Yeina elaborated. "They're all against the Envoyship. Nothing more but a bunch of democrats, feminists and f---"

"Homosexuals---" Aurana quickly corrected, before glaring at Yeina for his language. "Anyway, Hans, they're all that goes against God. My husband works for local law enforcement, and he's said it would seem that they're trying to recruit as far out as here in Thana. Just the other day, he'd heard that some of the local pubs have back-rooms where UMBRA members will meet".

That tiny nougat of information sparked off a chain reaction in Hans's brains. How did these people know which pubs to go to? How did they know whom to look for?

The need for more information became like an itch, constantly calling for relief. When he arrived at his aunt Aurana's home later that day to tutor, he discovered that her husband left out many of his investigative papers. All of a sudden, Hans had names, addresses, criminal arrest records, and copies of UMBRA propaganda. Maybe there really was a god.

He excused himself to make copies of Aurana's eldest son's schoolbook, so that all three boys would have the same problems from which to work from, before sneaking the investigative reports to the nearby library, making copies of both the tutoring material and the report, and returning everything to its orderly place. Thankfully, he'd beaten his aunt's husband to the house. Thumbing through Aurana's drawers for even more information, Hans discovered a strange envelope --- very old --- with a letter addressed to Aurana. The sender was one Kiana Yarringsen.

The "other" aunt. This was going right next to the smuggled report copies.

After that came his own detailed investigations, spying on various persons listed in the reports for weeks, and establishing who was most likely to be an UMBRA member. One day, he overheard one of his targets talking with another man about "praying to the Gods".

More specifically, the Nui-tan gods. The man was a practitioner of the Nui-tan religion of Stalari. Hans Yarringsen now had police reports as leverage, and knew exactly whom to give them too.

Jackpot.




Fiete Nikastro was a proponent of democracy --- who knew?! Hearing all that Envoy Nikastro had to say about the will of the people, and the tyranny of Nico Hass (although Hans could actually agree with the part about Hass) was a scene ripped straight out of an action movie. Hans couldn't help but wonder if Nikastro was just trying to somehow make Hans tell him everything he'd wanted to know about UMBRA.

It wasn't like Hans really had much of a choice. In the likely event that Fiete was just using him to learn more about UMBRA, Hans was already in government custody and would most likely be executed by the end of the month anyway. Following along with Fiete's speech (but being careful not to reveal anything honest about UMBRA) was just a way to amuse himself as he took his chances with the proverbial water-hole.

Then there was the part where Fiete told Hans that whatever Fiete's plans were for Hadin, involved busting Hans out of custody.

"You're breaking me out?"

"I have no choice. I need someone in the underground I can trust".

"How do you know I'll follow along with what you tell me to do once I'm out?"

"Because you and I sort of want the same thing. We disagree on the tactics, but at the end of the day, we both want Hass out of office, and an end to much of the oppression that goes on in this society. Helping me will only further your own goals".

There was something in Hans's heart itching to believe that maybe Fiete was unto something. At the very least, if Hans followed whatever plan was going on, maybe he could get out of being executed.

He sorely hoped he wasn't making a big mistake, agreeing to the plan.

Fiete Nikastro had connections everywhere, Hans soon found out --- particularly within the lower classes, who were not as apt to lead the sinless lives expected from the theocracy. The human condition was such that in a nation where boundless obedience was expected, Fiete forgave and counseled those who strayed away from what the theocracy wanted, provided they repent. In comparison to the Nico Hass approach of having them murdered, people tended to like Fiete.

When the jail-guards were told to loosen Han's shackles and weaken the latch on the vehicle transporting him to Kopurauth, they listened. Before Hans knew it, while on a van supposedly taking him to his doom, a bump in the road caused the back doors to burst open. Hans was long-gone before the driver stopped to check on the damage.

Running through the heavy woods in Hadin, seeking out shelter for the night, Hans remembered a secret code to get into an UMBRA safehouse, which was a pub in the southwest ward of the city.

Phase 1 complete. Phase 2, get the papers to the safehouse.




"I'm home".

Cecilia Nikastro smiled as Fiete walked through the door, tilting her head towards where Fiete was standing before carefully getting up and walking towards him.

By now, having been married to Fiete for a year and a half, Cecilia had learned the inner workings of his home. Despite not being able to see, she knew the precise arrangement of the furniture. She knew where every door and door-knob were in the home. She could find her brother Alexei, who was now walking and babbling a few words of Latin, while he slowly learned to toddle, run, and hide in little nooks and crannies.

Being with Fiete had given Cecilia something that was not afforded to many Hadinian women: a sense of empowerment. The strange friend of her parents who had hurriedly purchased her for 20,000 Dir only 500 odd days or so ago, whisking her away from an abusive suitor, was now becoming someone she held very close to her heart.

"Fiete," Cecilia cooed, before leaning up and giving him a peck on the cheek. "How was work? That's three days now that you've been gone".

He sighed. "I...I've had a less than ideal few days".

"You're a good man," she said assuredly, "I'm sure you'll easily be forgiven".

He sighed. "...maybe by the devil. But there are some things that just can't be helped".

Cecilia raised an eyebrow. Even though her eyes were as cloudy as the stormiest skies, the confusion in them was clear as day.

"I did something very treacherous today, for Hadin's own good", Fiete sighed. "I think perhaps our nation will need to learn the meaning of humility..."

"What did you do?"

"I leaked something important to the government of Nui-ta. In a few days, Hadin is going to be launching a ballistic missile into the sea".

He could see that Cecilia did not understand, and so decided to walk over to a cabinet and produce an unloaded gun and a single bullet, before placing the gun in her hand.

"Can you tell me what this is, Cecilia?"

Cecilia wrapped her hands around it, feeling the different ridges and bends in the metal before touching the trigger and immediately exclaiming, "Est pistolium!"
"It's a gun!"

"Et hoc?" He said, taking the gun gently and placing the bullet in her hand.
"And this?

"Est tribuebat..."
"This is ammunition"

"This is enough to kill a person," Fiete said, "if it is used correctly". He took the bullet away from her and put a finger on her forehead. "When I was in the military, I objected to working in a combat position, but I still had to learn how to do it in case I needed to defend myself. If I were to fire this into someone right here," he tapped her head, "that would stop them".

"It is difficult to shoot a person with a single bullet, though, especially if they are moving and trying to kill you," Fiete continued. "And so, armies around the world have devised other ways to kill people more efficiently. Imagine a bullet like the one I gave you, but about as tall as the chapel we got married at".

"T-...taller than a building, Fiete?"

"It would kill thousands, just by striking the ground".

Cecilia began to protest, "why do you need such a thing?"

"Such missiles have multiple uses. In a world such as ours, even if we were to get rid of our own missiles, that doesn't stop the threat of other missiles being fired at us --- so ballistic missiles can be used to destroy other missiles in mid-air. This is a use I agree with".

He continued, "but Nico Hass doesn't want to use it to shoot down large targets coming at Hadin that can't be stopped with a tank or by soldiers. He wants to fire the missile into the sea".

"...why?"

"To threaten Nui-ta. Firing a missile into the sea is a warning shot, like if I were to fire a gun into the air to get people to run away from somewhere I don't want them to be".

Cecilia looked at him seriously.

"So what did you do, Fiete?"

"Missiles like this are so big that if you know they're coming it is easy to shoot them down...so I ruined the surprise, and I told Nui-ta's Emperor the date and time Nico Hass wants to fire the warning shot. If Nui-ta can stop the warning shot, they might give Nico...erm, High-Envoy Hass enough of a scare to back away from causing more trouble".

"Are you sure it will work?"

Fiete sighed. "No...but maybe it will get Nui-ta to trust some of us a little more".

He gave Cecilia a kiss on the forehead. "Now, there's something I need you to do".

"Yes?"

"You can never tell anyone about this".

"I won't...." Fiete notice Cecilia was crying.

Oh shit. She's gonna tell on me.

"Fiete, does this mean we're going to hell?"

Fiete stared at her in shock. "What...no. No".

"Despite the fact that we're lying to the High-Envoy?"

Fiete smiled at her. "I don't think this man is a real High-Envoy..."

"But the High-Envoys are chosen by the will of God..."

"...maybe," Fiete said. "I'm not so sure of it".

"But you're a priest...shouldn't you know?"

"I don't always know the answers. I don't always know what God is thinking. I just try to do the best we can and hope he'll forgive me".

"Now, I want you to do the same".
Last edited by Hadin on Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just so you know, this nation, in character, is a highly sexist, highly theocratic, and highly authoritarian state. (Though under the new guy, it seems to be improving a little).

I disagree with a lot of what this nation stands for. It was invented for its intrigue and ample opportunities for satire, not for its ideals.

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The Arthurian Isles
Envoy
 
Posts: 280
Founded: Feb 26, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby The Arthurian Isles » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:32 am

Image



On Sorrow



At the north-eastern tip of Buðardalur lies Seliðet-de-Snjór, an upper corrie walled off from the rest of the valley by a moraine of rock and scree. A tiny outlet from the corrie’s lake gives way to one of Buðardalur’s most beautiful sights, as the waters tumble down the steep sides in a series of delicate cascades until they reach the valley floor, forming their own trickle which is soon absorbed by the Thjorsar more powerful flow. For all the strength of that river, it is the gentleness of the cascades which attracts the most visitors to the famous slopes of Geldungur.

Seliðet-de-Snjór is also unique within Buðardalur for its emptiness. Its lake is home to none of the grown salmon which leap from the Thjorsar below and one can find nothing more than a few dozen fingerlings. The most common are parr – juvenile salmon – which at this point are just losing their camouflage bars and preparing to make their journey to the ocean where they will meet with their older siblings. Birds do not bother with the selið either, for there are no plants of value on its rocky sides and the main valley provides far superior options for nesting. The exception to Seliðet-de-Snjór’s loneliness are the red deer, which return each year to graze on the tufts of grass and flowers that erupt between the boulders. They take a path up to the corrie which can be followed by only the toughest of Arthurian ponies and which is scarcely attempted by most hill-walkers in the area. Their grazing is therefore peaceful and undisturbed by predators or competitors, and the corrie is a sort of sanctuary within the already-tranquil Buðardalur.

What makes a sanctuary for deer, however, also makes a haven for deer stalkers. The selið draws some of the most committed of that sport each year, but through a combination of the difficulties of reaching the area and the natural respect deer stalkers hold for their prey, the corrie remains less beaten than the rest of the valley. The stalkers are ever vigilant that their activities are always a part of the cycle of all things, never a breach of nature’s order. Their sport, which really is an incorrect term for which no better substitute exists in English, is more of a responsibility and is as much a part of the nation-wide land management as it is for the enjoyment of the participants.

On this particular day, a late Astron afternoon, one such party of deer stalkers had ascended the moraine and were resting on the edge of the corrie, scanning the ground ahead of them. There were only two in the group. The taller was a middle-aged man, his hair greying and the first signs of wrinkles appearing around his eyes. Other than this, though, he seemed to be in good shape – indeed he would have to have been to be at Seliðet-de-Snjór. His name was Johan, and after a difficult climb he was retying his boots. Next to him, crouching while he stared through a pair of binoculars, was a younger man, about eighteen years. He had the same dark brown hair that the other man once shared, and identical dull-green eyes. He was almost as tall as Johan and possessed the muscular body of a young man in his prime. The second man’s name was Zander and he was, naturally, Johan’s son.

The two of them were resting on the northern edge of the corrie, having taken the same path that the deer would have taken earlier in the day. The wind was, at this point in the day, hitting them from the north-east so that it ruffled their left-rear.

“It’s a trick of the wind.” Johan said to Zander, who had just observed the wind direction. “Hollows can confuse the wind, drawing it in and distorting it. The true wind direction feels to me like it’s coming in from due-east. There’s no more south in it. Just wait until we get further up the corrie – it’ll be strong on our left cheek then.”

Zander nodded once; he had been deer stalking for years now but was not fool enough to think he was an expert. He was able, however, to spot two groups of red deer at the base of the selið. He nodded once more and said in low tones to his father, “Look. A drove of hinds, right bank. And beyond them, a smaller group with some stags.”

“Good spot.” Johan replied. He had finished retying his laces and had brought out his own binoculars too. “Are they shootable?”

Zander paused for a few seconds, observing the deer with a certain sensitivity that suggested his passion for the pursuit, and his perfectionist tendencies when he had decided to apply himself to something. “No. The stags are out of season. The hinds are young and healthy. We should keep moving.” The group’s aim was not to kill the first animal they found; they were looking for old, barren or unhealthy hinds. Their mission was one of population control, after all. They did not kill for fun.

“Good.” Johan said. He had taught his son well. “We’ll find what we’re looking for on the higher hills. We should get to the head of the stream.”

In deer stalking, it is never as easy to get from one point to the next. Once a group of deer has been identified, one must always keep in mind that if startled or caused to resort to caution, those deer will prove more effective at warning off their mates than the crack of the first shot of the day. Johan and Zander would not be able to simply walk to the riverhead. Their task would be to circumvent the two groups on either bank without alerting them. The quickest way, but by no means easy, was to traverse the edge of the corrie towards Ofurst, the most westerly hill of Seliðet-de-Snjór north of the cascades. The journey took around an hour as the pair had to climb up to nine hundred metres and cross beneath a scarp atop the hill. They eventually found themselves on its southern slope overlooking the corrie and, over its col, the south-western slopes of Buðardalur. From here, a better view of the opposite bank of the stream was offered, and Zander took up his binoculars once more.

“There, below that far col.” He gestured to the south-west of the corrie. “There’s a group of hinds.” Johan looked through his binoculars too, but did not surrender any sort of approval.

“They’re too far off to properly spot. We need to get closer.”

With little more than a couple of minutes to take on water, the pair continued their stalk. They were now making the descent down the south-eastern slope of Ofurst, but this was even slower than their ascent. The land beneath them was marked with hidden dips and gullies all around, in which any number of deer could be contentedly grazing. Going was slow, if only to make sure that the two of them didn’t accidentally stumble upon any such hidden deer. Just over halfway down the hillside, however, Zander was able to get his binoculars up again and take a closer look at the group he had spotted from the summit.

“There’s a hind with a gammy head. She wants shooting, poor girl.”

“A good spot. Well done. We’ll head through that ravine there.”

The ravine was cut deep into the ground, just at the base of Orfurst’s north-eastern slope. It provided perfect cover for an approach to the moraine and led Zander and his father directly to the right bank of the stream, just before it spilled into Buðardalur proper. There, lying low next to a grouping of boulders, Johan and Zander got their quarry in their sights. It would be a fine kill – a hind which still had a few good years left in her but which had an injured head. Her death would be a mercy, putting her out of perpetual agony and also helping to control future population growth. Johan remembered a giling1 at the lodge mentioning such a hind in passing. It would be his honour – or Zander’s – to finish the beast.

“Wait, pa.” Zander held out his hand just as Johan was preparing to crawl further forward from the boulder. He looked over at his son, who was staring back the way they had come. A lone stag, a small thing, stood static on Orfurst, its head perked up. It was on the hill face down which the two of them had just come.

“Hel.” Johan cursed. The stag must have caught their scent on the hillside. The wind was in just the right direction to carry it back from their hiding spot over to Ofurst. Depending on how he responded, the two could either continue with their current pursuit or see their quarry warned and carried away with the stag.

The beast was standing perfectly erect for the better part of a minute while it discerned to what the scent belonged. As soon as it had decided that there were humans nearby, however, it went from its perfectly stationary repose to a swift run. It was heading towards the source of the stream – the lake further within the corrie. If it continued straight towards the eastern side of Seliðet-de-Snjór it would unsettle the larger group which the pair were stalking and carry them off over the edge of the corrie. And it wouldn’t do to shoot the brute; stalkers don’t aim for moving deer for fear of missing and causing undue harm. At any rate, a shot would do more to scare off the rest of the herd than this lone stag could. All Johan and Zander could do was wait with breath baited, and watch as the stag made ever closer to their hind. It was going at some pace, and was able to hop over the tiny stream easily, but before it could approach the larger group of deer the single stag halted. It paused for a few seconds and then darted off to the south, avoiding the other deer. It only took three minutes for the stag to completely disappear over a col in the distance, leaving the corrie as calm as it had been before the incident.

“We should move.” Zander said. He was keen to catch this hind. He and his father moved swiftly from their hiding spot – it was mid afternoon already and time was against them in the hunt. They were able to cross the stream at a small dip where raised ground on either side shielded them from view, and from there they crawled along its right bank up to a tributary gully which came down from Svarthæð, a steep and rocky hill on the corrie’s south-eastern side. The going was simple from this point, as the gully was sheltered from the wind which was, at any rate, blowing Johan and Zander’s scent away from the deer. They were able to crawl along at a decent pace, only really taking care to make as little noise as possible.

It wasn’t until Zander judged that they had reached just west of the hind that they left the gully, making for a tiny hillock that they had noted from atop Ofurst. There they waited. Zander unslung his rifle and held it ready to shoot. Johan stayed on the binoculars, keeping watch on the beast. It was lying in a patch of green-brown grass with a good number of other deer, but a good shot was impossible. The neck was just about covered by a clump of boulders, while behind the head was another deer – a stag which wasn’t to be put down. Never mind – there were no other vantage points that Johan or Zander could easily get to without disturbing the deer, and their pursuit relied on patience. They could not throw their efforts away at this late hour for the sake of impatience. Zander kept a hold of his rifle, the telescopic sight providing a good picture of the hind.

In time, he was rewarded. Twenty minutes passed before the hind rose, graceful in spite of her injured head. As soon as she had reached her full height there was a single sharp crack which echoed through the corrie. Seliðet-de-Snjór was, for a moment, no longer the Shangri-La it had been. The deer closest to Johan and Zander jumped up like coiled springs and fled with haste to the south-east of Svarthæð. The beasts further afield who heard the shot resound would either flee like their siblings or stand to attention, noses lifted to the wind and ears pricked for any sign of a threat. The hind, however, slumped to the ground with a thud. Zander’s shot had passed through her neck, killing her instantly. It was a good kill, and when he turned to his father Zander saw the smile and nod of a proud man. The tension of the hunt was over, the purpose fulfilled and the journey made worthwhile.

“Good work, sen.” Johan got up from his belly and sat cross-legged on the ground. He reached into his pack to get out some food. “A late lunch is deserved, don’t you think.”

“Sure thing, pa.” Zander grinned back. This was the first stalk which his father had let him lead, and the kill was doubly meaningful as it was his first of the year. While he ate a small platter of smoked fish and bread, his father sent a message to the lodge. The gilings would come to collect the hind while the two of them made their own way back. Aside from deer stalking, Johan and Zander enjoyed the simple pleasure of walking through the hills, taking in nature – or what remained of it. They had planned a particular route back down to the lodge via a series of corries along Buðardalur’s south-eastern edge. The wind, however, was changing and so their route would have to as well.

“What do you think?” Johan asked, noting the new wind direction. It was now shifting to the north, catching a good deal of Seliðet-de-Snjór’s northern third.

“We can carry on to Vitsvitigselið, but we should skirt around the north-eastern boundary first, staying behind the hills.”

“Ja, ok then. Let’s go.”

The two of them finished a quick lunch, making sure to leave no litter or leftovers. They began their scramble to the south-east, making for the col between Svarthæð and its southern neighbour, Røthaeð. The ascent was steeper than those further to the south, and involved more shingle and skree, but it would shelter them from the north-blowing wind when they made their approach to Vitsvitigselið beyond the hills. The climb was particularly hot because of the lack of wind, but when they reached the ridge of the col they were exposed to a fair breeze which buffeted their hair and made them thankful that the rest of their journey would be more sheltered, if not slightly longer for the fact.

From the col Johan and Zander looked down into Vitsvitigselið, another corrie. It was a far more daunting place than Seliðet-de-Snjór, which despite the long climb to reach it was a fairly round and gently-sloped bowl in most parts. Vitsvitigselið was not. It was a craggy place, like a scar cut into the hills around Buðardalur. There was barely any vegetation in this corrie, so wildlife that did wander in would either leave as quickly as they had come or get lost in its rocky crevices. The river at its base was fast flowing, thanks to the steep slope on the corrie’s floor, and was not gentle. The whole thing was bubbling in a torrent, despite being little more than a stream. It was called the Hvitstraum, and was joined just opposite Johan and Zander by a gentler stream called the Svartstraum which came down from the cliffs of Àdræðikletar. The tip of Àdræðikletar towered over the whole corrie like a perfect cone of scree and rock. There was good reason why few climbers would come this way. Johan and Zander were confident though; their family had traversed the mountains of southern Arthuria – they could handle Vitsvitigselið.

With the wind blowing as it was, however, the pair erred on the side of caution. A normal route would take them to the west, where they could descend into the corrie and cross the Hvitstraum near its head before continuing along Buðardalur. This entire area of Vitsvitigselið was being battered by the wind though, and would make for an unpleasant climb. Zander’s route instead took them to the south-east along the face of Svarthæð until they joined a ridge overlooking the corrie, to the north of Àdræðikletar. This would allow them to follow a deep rift which was used by deer to pass out of Buðardalur, sheltering from the wind and avoiding the slopes of Vitsvitigselið.

This they did, reaching the rift after about twenty minutes of precipitous climbing in which scree had never ceased to break away from beneath their feet and tumble down to the corrie below. The descent did, however, leave them nearly one hundred and fifty metres below the ridge of the corrie, blocking their view over its south-eastern crest.

“We need to get higher, sen, if we want to get out of this hollow.”

“Ja.” Zander searched around him for a route out. His eyes rested on Àdræðikletar. “There?”

Johan nodded in agreement. “It’s a hard climb, but our fastest way out. Let’s make haste.”

The pair turned east, following the ridge up to Àdræðikletar. The path back up the ridge was easier than the one coming down, as it met a lift of rock about halfway which jutted out into the corrie and allowed the two of them to traverse the spurs of the hills along a relatively level path. The far end of that lift was not as accommodating though. It ended with a sheer drop into a ravine through which the Svartstraum babbled, too far for anyone to risk jumping, and so the only route left open to Johan and Zander was up the ridge to their left. This they took, and continued following its path swinging south and then south-west, until they made contact with Àdræðikletar.

“Hel.” Johan swore.

The maps had been deceptive. There was no way up that mountain from the ridge itself, or from Vitsvitigselið at all, for that matter – it was simply too steep, almost perpendicular and cut from smooth rock. The only approaches were from the massifs to Àdræðikletar’s east or from Buðardalur to the south-west. The former route was impossible to get to from Vitsvitigselið, for it would require Johan and Zander to return to the Svarthæð and surmount its pinnacle. That would only be the first stage of an hours-long expedition for which the pair were unprepared. The second route, coming up from Buðardalur, was blocked by one of Àdræðikletar’s buttresses, a great ridge which cut across the smaller corrie leading from the valley to Vitsvitigselið. The normal route up that ridge – Fractured Ridge, as it was known – was from the valley-side, and even that was difficult enough and needed to be approached from the valley floor itself. From the corrie-side the buttress was almost insurmountable, with nought but slabs and smooth rocks. Only a few overhangs could be seen and these would need professional climbing equipment to reach.

“Alright, there’s a gully leading around Fractured Ridge if we drop down into this smaller corrie. It’s getting late, so follow me, sen.” Johan took charge. Zander had done well today, but now was not the time to test him too much.

The descent into that corrie was tougher than most parts of the walk so far; it was devilishly steep and progress was more of a slide and a slither than an actual walk. The slope was also littered with heather, which scratched at Zander’s hands as he followed his father down, the full three hundred metres to the bottom of the spur. The corrie in which they found themselves was lifeless, with nothing but another small brook flowing towards the Fractured Ridge about four hundred metres beyond them. Just beside the ridge was a cliff reaching to just below the crest itself. It was scarred with chimneys which from the end of the corrie looked pretty difficult but when one got closer were actually home to plenty of handholds and overhangs. It would take a while but would get Johan and Zander up to Fractured Ridge and back into Buðardalur from where the going would be easy.

“We should take it, pa.” Zander said. The only alternative would, after all, be to go back the way they came and arrive at the lodge well after darkness. Johan observed the sheer rock for a few seconds. His face was still. If he could have taken any other route, he would have, but he finally came to the conclusion that their only escape was up the chimneys of rock. He nodded.

Taking the lead, Zander grasped what handholds he could see and made his way up the four metres to a second storey within the rock. From this point was a fork in the rock, where the chimney split into a left path and a right. Zander called down to Johan.

“Which fork, pa?”

Johan stepped a few paces back and craned his neck upwards.

“Take the left fork, sen. The right leads to a crack in the cliff. It doesn’t become a chimney again until about thirty metres of granite.”

Zander started his way up the left-hand fork, which didn’t look as compromising as he had hoped, especially with a rifle slung to his back, but which was at least climbable. His first obstacle was a chockstone, which jutted out into the centre of the chimney and took a good while to climb around. After this point, the climb only became harder as the chimney steepened into an almost perpendicular climb, of which the right-hand side provided the easier ascent. The difficulties of this section were soon overcome with a determined climb from Zander, who eventually reached a more reasonable section of chimney just before the verge of the cliff. Here he rested to prospect the remainder of the route, keeping his foot on a decent ledge, his right arm cocked around a jagged bit of rock, and his left arm stretched up to rest on a comfortable rocky outcrop. Johan had just made the climb up the first chimney, and was now testing the handholds at the base of the second chimney.

At this time in the afternoon, when it becomes difficult to distinguish when evening has arrived, the ravens begin to return to their nests. One such raven landed on the rocky cliff-edge just above Zander, its cawing echoing down into the rocks below, startling the two climbers. It was only there for a few seconds, resting on the cliff edge before taking flight, but in a flap of its wings it dislodged a small rock from the verge of the cliff. The rock rolled towards the chimney, taking more rocks with it until a fair number were tumbling over the left-hand side of the chimney. They hit a more considerable boulder which had been caught between two handholds. The boulder began to jitter as rock after rock hit, until it became totally dislodged from its resting place and rolled down the chimney’s sides, clacking against the walls.

Zander felt the strength wane from the fingers of his left hand as shards of rock peppered his face and a clattering echo rung around him. He did not shout out, but he grimaced in pain, opening his eyes to see a contorted left hand. He was lucky that his right arm had been cocked around a sturdy piece of rock, for his left was now near-unusable.

“Are you alright, sen?” Johan called from below.

“Ja, I think. My fingers are mangled, but I can make the top!”

Zander took a few seconds to compose himself. There was little he could do here, and the longer he remained hanging on the rock the more his strength would sap away. He wouldn’t be able to climb with his hand as it was though; the moment he tried to replace his grip on the handhold he let in a sharp intake of breath. The pain would be too much and the strength not enough.

Luckily, this section of the chimney contained none of the difficulties of the first section, and with only a few metres to go Zander was able to push his back against the left-side of the rock and push with his knees against the opposite face. He shuffled up the final few metres of chimney to the point at which his head emerged above the cliff-edge. Using his right arm, Zander swung his rifle onto the cliff verge and then, grabbing hold of a rock, pulled himself up. He slumped to the ground, breathing heavily. In front of him was a shallow gully leading to Fractured Ridge. They would be back at the lodge by sunset.

He examined his left hand, which had been properly mangled by the rock. The tip of his thumb, as well as the upper two joints of his middle and third fingers, had been entirely crushed. The pain was not as bad as Zander had thought it would be, but there was a lot of blood gushing from the wound. He rummaged in his pack for a dressing, which he did a mediocre job of applying to his hand, leaving it a bloody bundle.

For a few moments, Zander simply lay atop the cliff. He could hear his father making the climb from below – the scraping of boot on rock, the trickle of pebbles being dislodged, the slowing of pace as he traversed that chockstone. Then came an unexpected sound. There was a rough scraping sound and Johan groaned, followed by the clatter of metal on rock; his rifle had fallen down the chimney. Zander bolted up, too quickly it transpired for he immediately felt dizzy – the blood loss was making him light-headed. He recovered enough to find a vantage point from the cliff-edge over which he could peer into the chimney’s left-hand fork, and he spied his father swung out with only one foothold and a single hand grip with his right hand. His left hand must have gone for a rock which wasn’t strong enough to hold him. As Zander was taking in the situation, Johan sprawled for another foothold, and missed, letting out a grunt. He was tiring.

“Pa! Wait there! I’ve got rope in my pack; I’m sending it down!”

Zander found the same rock which he had used to heave himself out from the chimney and, taking a rope from his pack, secured it around that anchor and then his waist. Using his teeth and right hand, he tied a noose in the end of the rope.

“I’m throwing it straight down – catch hold of it pa!”

Zander flung the rope straight out into the chimney, but it was looping all over the place and Johan’s clumsy grab didn’t make contact. Zander drew it back up. He was becoming more light-headed, but with responsibility weighing in on him he drew on the inner strength which we all possess. He forgot about the world around him – about the setting sun, the strengthening winds and the shadow of the ridge looming over him. All he could see was the chimney and, stuck within it, his father.

He threw the rope out again. This time it went taut.

“I’ve got you, pa! I’ve got a belay up here. Try to get higher up!”

Johan began to move. He had been hanging there on one arm and a foothold for a good few minutes though, and their day had been long. He was fatigued. Zander heard another wild scraping and slipping and, swinging out with the rope, Johan fell from the chimney and into the sheer rockface to the side. He was now hanging limply by the cliff wall.

“Pa!”

“I’m alright.” He didn’t sound it. Johan’s voice was quiet, tattered and bare. “But you’ll have to haul me up.”

“Ja…ja. I need you to help me though pa.”

“Of course. But please…” this came as a shock to Zander. He wasn’t used to hearing his father plead with him. For eighteen years he had grown up with a strong father from whom people asked for help but who never himself needed to do so, “…please, hurry.”

There was a groove of stone on the cliff edge which would provide the ideal rest through which the rope could run. Zander took his coat from his pack and placed it along the groove, the better to smoothen its hard edges, before shifting the rope into place. With only a single arm to pull the rope, his only choice was to slowly move backwards towards the gully, using his right arm to heave at the rope itself. Even with the anchor though, the moment Johan got his arms through the ropes loop and put pressure on the thing it was a tremendous strain for Zander. Johan was scrambling to find holds in the rock, but along a face like that it was almost impossible, and Zander was left carrying most of the weight. With a stolid determination and plenty of boulders against which his feet could push, Zander was slowly drawing his father in, however.

The going was not easy though, and the true danger to Johan became apparent as Zander pulled the rope ever further over the cliff’s edge. It was being grated by some piece of sharp stone near the verge of the rockface and, being an old rope – they had not expected to be getting into this sort of climbing during a deer stalk – was not holding up well. If Zander continued to pull the rope might break at any moment, plunging Johan into the corrie.

“Hold pa! The rope’s snagging!” Zander stopped heaving and waited in the growing darkness. His father had stopped climbing too, but it took him a good few seconds to respond.

“Lower me down! There’s a ledge that will do as a foothold, about three metres below.”

Zander took a few seconds to catch his breath before letting slip the belay from the little rock that was anchoring it. He found another such boulder about five metres down from the first and strung up there, slowly slipping Johan down the precious few metres he needed. All of a sudden, the strain on the rope relaxed and Zander’s muscles got some sweet relief.

“I have it.” Johan called up. “Thank you, sen…I’m proud.”

Perhaps he knew what was coming, for the words seemed strangely calm. They were as clear and sharp as the croaks of the ravens coming home to nest. Maybe atrophy struck, or maybe dizziness. Whatever the cause, Zander suddenly felt the rope burn his right hand, slipping helplessly out from between the fingers. It snapped at his midriff and sent him flying to the very edge of the cliff before he skidded to a halt, his feet dangling over the verge.

The rope had failed. Johan’s weight had been enough to fray the last of the fibres against that jagged stone on the cliff-face and when Zander feverishly tried to haul it back up all he got was the split strands.

He was found less than an hour later by the gilings. He had fainted. The last thing Zander had heard before he fell unconscious was the sound of a body slamming with dull thuds against crag after crag, followed by the long scrambling of screes as they slid down into the corrie below, carrying his father with them. There were no screams.


***


Kristiansand was not like Buðardalur. It was surrounded by low, rolling plains, blanketed in the lush green of northern Geldstrom. The land was split into neat, square fields through which herds of grey-white sheep would roam, fenced in by thick hedgerows. Overlooking this scene was Zander’s home, a solitary house placed atop a low hill which gave it an excellent vantage point. The front of the house faced the city itself, while the back provided views over the countryside vista. At the end of their back garden, peering out between high hedges and offering the greatest picture out into the countryside, was a small sheltered pavilion, barely large enough to fit four people, with a plain stone slab inside which acted as a bench. Here, Zander sat cross-legged, hands resting on his knees, back straight.

The mist of that morning had lain low over the fields beneath their home, carpeting them in an ethereal haze which obscured everything from view. Everything except the few lone trees dotted throughout the landscape. Their snarled, twisted tops had risen above that haze and now, after the rain had dispelled the mist and the sheep had disappeared for cover, the trees remained standing tall.

Around Zander the rain fell, pouring from the pavilion’s roof onto the garden’s stone slabs. He was not distracted. In Geldstrom, it is believed that the trees are protectors of the land, guardians of the people, their spirits watching over all, undiminished by age and unphased by hardship. As Zander sat, he thought to himself how his father had been his protector. He liked to think that one of those trees housed that protective spirit, that his pa was alive in one of them.

In Arthuria, traditional music is hard to come by. Songs from before the 17th century were not noted down – they were vuol, a form of music which survives to this day as a tradition of the country. Vuol are not so much songs as chants – their ‘words’ are incomprehensible, but they carry a deeper meaning that cannot be vocalised by any language. They are not sung about a subject but embody that subject. Nor are they planned; vuol are as much the spiritual and personal expression of the moment as they are a long-lasting tradition. When words will not suffice, when prayer brings no comfort, when the mind will not forget, a vuol is the heart’s response.

Sitting, staring out at those trees, the rain tapping all around him, Zander began to sing.

It was quiet at first, barely rising above the sound of the rain, but not timid. What chants he could muster, Zander sang with conviction. The voice was pure, covering the anguish of within.

As more and more suffering flowed out of his body, Zander’s voice began to carry, flowing over the hills, the fields, the trees. He cried out, his voice lifting to heaven in remembrance of the greatest man he had known, his protector, his mentor, his father.

He did not realise it at the time, but a hand rested gently on Zander’s shoulder. His mother, wet from the rain, stood behind him, his sister behind her. Both were crying. Zander could not tell; he was lost in this manifestation of his father, carried away to a place within him where Johan would always reside.

His mother, wiping away her tears, looked at her son; he was staring out at the trees.

He wept.





1 A gilin, or ghilli in English, is a resident expert of an area’s deer. The Búðardalur gilli’s are some of the most respected in the country, providing knowledge to the Raðsmaður, government officials and foreign visitors lodged in the Búðardalur residence further down the valley.
Last edited by The Arthurian Isles on Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:41 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Free-Market Paradise

Postby Radiatia » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:14 pm

Valedictory Speech:

Senator JOSKO IVERS [SDU - New Vashura]:

"Mr. Chairman, this will be the last speech that I ever give in this Chamber.

"Rather than focus on current events, if my fellow Senators will indulge me, I intend to use this time to reminisce about the past and speak about where I've been.

"Mr. Chairman, this is the second time that I have retired from federal politics, and the second time I have delivered a valedictory speech, although I suspect that this probably is my final speech, as I fully intend to retire from public life.

"I first entered federal politics way back in LET 22, as the MP for New Vashura's 5th district. In one way or another I've been in politics for the last 36 years - guilty as charged, I suspect this makes me a career politician. I have held a number of offices during that time - Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador to Nui-ta, Senate Majority Leader and in LET 52 I was the Social Democratic Union's nominee for Vice President.

"Radiatia today is unrecognisable compared to LET 22 - back then the President was Traiyan Silviu, the first of two President Silvius that I've served under, communism was a recent memory and in fact the Communist Party was the second largest political party in Parliament at the time.

"Back then there were serious challenges to deal with - constitutional ones, such as how or even if democracy was going to work, economic challenges that were concerned not with the Exegrad Stock Exchange, but with matters like famine in the far north and shortages of basic commodities. Corruption was rife. Crime was a huge problem. We faced the real threat that the Communists would attempt to launch a coup d'etat and overthrow the federal government. And far from being the Sheriff of Noctur, our military were so under-equipped that we nearly lost a war with Eldura.

"We overcame this in a generation, to become the most efficient country in Noctur. We are richer than any other country, more powerful than any other country and we have gone from having a large diaspora seeking refuge in foreign lands to being a nation that refugees now flock to for safety from foreign conflicts. We have gone from envying the world to being the envy of the world.

"I first became involved in politics when I was at the University of Exegrad. Like almost everyone there, I got involved with RADEM and yes that meant I ended up fighting in the Battle of Exegrad - perhaps the most important battle ever fought in Noctur. Had it not happened, we could now live in a Noctur in which democracy never flourished, in which it died out completely.

"Everyone of my generation has a story of where they were when the RPSU collapsed - in my case I was on the front lines, armed with illegal firearms that the Mafia had smuggled or stolen from the Liberation Army. To me it feels like just yesterday - yet I look around this very chamber and see Senators who were born after these events, and others who simply have no recollection.

"A new post-communism generation is taking over, while mine is stepping down. This is right and proper and yet I fear that this next generation might not fully understand the magnitude of where Radiatia has been and how important it is to protect what we have now.

"Mr. Chairman, before I was elected I was a military officer, I served in the civil war and again in the Arctic War. I've seen conflict, I know what it looks, smells and tastes like. There is simply nothing more evil than war. It's why I've dedicated my political career to preventing conflict where possible and opposing those so-called interventionists from wasting lives unnecessarily.

"I see young people today talking about communism as if it was cool, and the rise of neo-communism. This is alarming to anyone who ever lived through communism, which sadly is fewer and fewer people. The same goes for war - I see the younger Senators and MPs talking about war as if it is glorious, as if Radiatia is a white knight in shining armour, as if war is clean and efficient.

"Those members have never seen conflict. I have. It is not like that at all. It is not glorious at all and I'd remind those Senators in the strongest possible terms to exercise restraint, to remember that soldiers are real people, that every casualty is a human life and not just a number on a page.

"Mr. Chairman I've achieved much during my 36 year career. Despite being labelled a protectionist, I spearheaded the most valuable and comprehensive free trade agreements we ever signed. I opened up new trade routes, new alliances and watched as Radiatia became not just the international military power, but the international economic power.

"However by far my proudest achievement was passing legislation which abolished conscription. It spared a generation of young people, such as my daughter Johanna, from pointless military brainwashing, or from the risk of being sent to die overseas in some pointless conflict. It was an acknowledgement of the fact that wars aren't won on the size of your army, but with innovation, efficiency and technology. It was another huge step forward.

"It's impossible for me to speak about this without speaking about someone who has been with me almost all of my political career and has been a frenemy of mine ever since. I'm sorry that he isn't here today. That person is Gregori Fyoderov.

"He entered Parliament in LET 26 at a time when my own political party, the United Democrats, were being squeezed as the pendulum swung against us. We served together on the Foreign Affairs committee and he was my shadow when I was Minister of Foreign Affairs. When he took over the role, he sent me as far away as he could - to Nui-ta, and then we crossed paths a decade later after both becoming Senators.

"I've always disagreed with Gregori Fyoderov, and lay claim to having warned the country about him long before anyone else did. But we did have one thing in common, which was our belief that conscription was wrong, and I'm glad that we managed to end it when we did. As Senate Majority Leader I was called a thorn in his side, but the truth is that my rivalry with President Fyoderov kept me going for many years - without him, I feel empty.

"He's not the only high profile individual I've sparred with. As foreign minister I once punched a dignitary in the face - I won't say who, or from which country, but sometimes you find that a fist breaks the language barrier better than anything else.

"The late Derro Vahnsehn was hilarious. When I was put in charge of immigration I used to receive up to 30,000 letters a week, 20,000 of which were usually from him. But I'm grateful to him - although I actually tightened our immigration rules, while at the same time expanding protection for immigrants within Radiatia and even marrying one - thanks to him I was seen as a moderate and was able to navigate a sensitive issue while he soaked up any negative press.

"It's worth remembering that in politics your friends are seldom on the same team as you, and friendships come in unlikely places. Senator Pekannen is one such person - he often reminds me that in LET 15 him and I probably fought each other on a battlefield. We both agree that we'd rather fight with words, in this chamber, and then go off afterwards for a pint of vodka - and yes, pint. Eldurans have livers of steel I have discovered, quite a contrast from my own New Vashuran background - the only prohibitionist state in the federation.

"And yes, Mr. Chairman, I can conform the fights I've had with my fellow Social Democrats have been far uglier than those I've had with my opposite numbers in the Liberal-Conservative Party. I've run for President twice, and the SDU primaries are unlike any contest I've ever been a part of.

"I was friends with Vice President Negasi for years before LET 52, so I wasn't surprised when I was chosen to be his running mate. Other Social Democrats did not feel the same - one candidate, I won't say who, acted as if I'd stolen his wife. He said I had no right to run with Samuel Negasi, and, well, Sam's comments on him are best saved for my autobiography...

"Though the media say I was a thorn in President Fyoderov's side, it was actually Keldon Silviu who I had the most conflict with. I've never seen President Silviu so angry as the day that I threatened to vote against RAFTA, or when I criticised his foreign policy.

"I was in for the shock of a lifetime when I was duckmarched into Level 101 and saw the President red in the face, demanding, 'Ivers - what the hell are you playing at?'

"He then proceeded to lecture me about being a team player. I lectured him about how our new constitution gives the legislature certain rights that the executive can't touch, and reminded him that I'd still be in the Senate long after his term as President ended. Quite honestly, he hasn't looked me in the eye ever since...

"Of course nothing was quite so terrifying as the one time I crossed Lena Toriah. For the record - although I say this partially out of residual fear - she was our greatest post-RPSU leader, and I rank her above even Traiyan Silviu. She remains unmatched. In LET 31 I gave a speech in my constituency about protecting Radiatian farmers. What I didn't know at the time was that Lena had decided that she wanted to remove farming subsidies - I walked into Cabinet the next week, she opened her mouth and the room went cold. I can't repeat what she said here. What I can say is I learned my lesson, and made sure to carefully read policy documents from that day on.

"Finally I want to say a word about the two people who have sacrificed the most for me during these 36 years and who have stood by me, endured me, put their private lives on hold and even followed me here to Xerconia.

"My wife Kiana is an amazing woman. Hadinian by birth, she's always been my reality check and she has made sacrifices for me that I would never expect one to make. Sadly she isn't here now, as she has work to do in Nui-ta, but she's always reminded me that every political decision has a human consequence.

"I've been in politics for as long as my daughter Johanna - here today in the gallery - has been a live. I've watched her grow up, follow Kiana and I all over the world and finally move to Das Engel to live her own life. I'm sorry I haven't been able to be around more often, but hopefully in retirement I'll be able to make up for lost time.

"My fellow Senators and fellow Radiatians. We are more prosperous than any other nation in Noctur, more efficient, more productive. I came into Parliament to protect Radiatians economically, socially and in terms of security. That's what the federal government's job is. And if I could give one piece of advice to those who follow me, it would be to remember that every number in every report is a human being, and to remember that we make decisions for the greater good. Efficiency is useless if it means that there is still suffering.

"And on that salutatory note, Mr. Chairman, I say goodbye."

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The Ramblings of an Old Man

Postby Nui-ta » Tue May 03, 2016 12:24 am

A.N 131

Once upon a time, when he was a very, very small boy, it had been taboo to talk about the civil war which would be known forever in Karasian history as the Partition.

Sujir i-Harendo was not born until A.N 116, over 10 years after the war had ended. His older siblings, both born eight years prior, also had no recollection of the war, but were born close enough after the war's end where the populace was still shell-shocked from the event. The seriousness of the war was such that not even his older siblings, who had no wartime memories of their own, would talk about the war to him.

In an academic context, discussion of the Partition was limited to older students, typically of the high school and college level. Elementary school students were taught basic names, dates, and a very abbreviated timeline of events, but the subject was deemed too gruesome to explore further with primary-school children. Everyone in Nui-ta of his generation who wasn't a recent immigrant had someone older who'd fought through the Partition, or at least been alive to witness the events that came along with it. In Sujir's case, his mother was the only older relative he'd had who hadn't fought through the war, although she'd been the Minister of Internal Affairs at the time. His father and two uncles had all fought through the war, and those of his grandparents who were alive at the time had been involved at the time. His maternal grandmother had volunteered to assist with triage efforts in war-zones as a civilian, while his paternal grandfather had a more daring job, overseeing the war effort as a high-profile General, before being involved in the Tarashka Conference1.

By the time Sujir grew older and began high school, enough time had passed for the war to become less of a taboo topic overall. His history classes soon began filling in details about the Eastern and Western fronts, the bombings in Alin, the capture and re-capture of San Gajin, and San Talsankir (which were key military bases in the states of Sangaur and Rahku, respectively). He learned about the PAF-PZF occupation of Kaurizil, not far from his family's own hometown, where major military officers and government officials such as his own mother had to be kept in hiding. Most importantly, he learned about the events that had caused the Partition, such as the rising sentiment of a return to apartheid under Prime Minister xi-Sendres, counterbalanced by liberalizing social climates in other parts of the nation, and finally, the rise of Central Party's common-blooded Evan Isaci into the Prime Ministry --- a move which, while innocent in other countries, was polarizing news in Nui-ta at the time.

One thing that remained, and still remains taboo within Nui-ta, was to ask a Partition veteran about their specific circumstances during the war. This was due to a multitude of reasons, from the dodgy circumstances of the war, to the high amount of blood-shed and trauma collectively sustained by a nation, to rising instances of shell-shock, to other reasons that Sujir simply couldn't fathom, such as all of the "black operations" which occurred at the time. Wanting details, mainly for the purpose of competing homework for history class, Sujir confronted his older brother Crivan, who at that time was home from college.

For Nui-tan parents, it was unusual for children to completely leave home until after a child had actually started their work life, even if they were in college. Cultural reasons factored heavily into this matter, although the biggest factor in Crivan's case was that no one knew where Crivan, who was due to be conscripted, would be living after graduation day. It made far more sense in the long run to have Crivan stay close-by and await further instructions from the Ministry of Defense, then jump on an apartment lease in Rahku City, and be told the next day to report somewhere far away, like San Ushibria, for basic training. Their father had offered the same deal to Kana, their sister, but she had elected to attend military school and become a career soldier. As a result, she'd been told the details of her deployment the day after she graduated high school, and no further reason remained for her to remain within the proverbial nest.

"Crivan?"

It was a common sight to see his older brother surrounded by a wall of books, writing diligently unto a pad of legal paper. Their mother had been the same way, writing arguments and speeches for Parliament behind a wall of leather-bound tomes.

"Crivan?" He said again.

His brother turned over and looked at him?

"Yes?"

"Can you help me with my homework, janshau2? Please?"

"Sure, but you have to make it fast. This entire thing has to be done by next week".

"You have a whole week to do it!"

"I have seven days to write 75 pages. That's 11 pages a day. So far, I've managed only five today".

Crivan held out one hand, indicating that he wanted to see Sujir's homework. "Alright Jan'u3, hand it over."

Examining the paper for a moment, he pointed at an unanswered question. "This one, about the Tarashka Conference?"

Sujir responded, "I don't understand the purpose".

"Good news is, it's a law question," Crivan smiled, "so I can explain it. The Tarashka Conference was a series of trials, charging instigators of the war for all of the deaths and crimes against humanity they caused. You know how a lot of people died in the Partition, right? Not just soldiers, but civilians who got caught in the crossfire. All of those deaths happened because of the people who started the war, so it's basically murder".

"So why were they charged with war crimes, and not murder?"

"Murder as a result of starting a war is a war crime, not a stand-alone murder".

"Oh..."

The two of them talked for a few minutes, discussing how that information pertained to the specific question of Why was Thaddeus Romeria charged in the Tarashka Conference?".

"Didn't granddad have a part in the Tarashka Conference?" Sujir said.

"Granddad?" Crivan said, "yeah, he was one of the people who spoke against the defendants."

"Like a lawyer?"

"More like a witness. I think Granddad was working at San Gajin when it got taken over, so he must have seen a lot of stuff".

Sujir pointed to another question. "Here's one more I wanted to ask you about, why was Kaurizil of such importance during the war?"

"Well, the obvious answer is that it's where the Emperor lives".

"The teacher told me I can't use that answer because it's obvious".

"Oh," Crivan trailed off, before answering "I don't know war strategy. Ask Kana".

"She's at San Gajin," Sujir whined, lamenting that his sister, who was a soldier and therefore more familiar with military tactics, was stationed away from home.

"The only other soldier in the house is Da..." and with that, Crivan trailed off, realizing the taboo in asking their father, who'd served in the Partition, about the war.

"...maybe if you mention it's just for homework..." Crivan said.



A couple of years before their mother died, Crivan and Sujir remembered that their father Hariem had declined to extend his term of service with the military, and shifted his focus to becoming a house-husband and the primary caretaker for their mother Trenta.

When Trenta i-Harendo eventually died, there was only a short lull in activity with the family before Hariem then began working in finance, switching into the role of a civilian worker, in order to place himself in a better situation to be a single father to three children. Although his role as a father continued into these days, the older children had now grown enough where Hariem's role in their lives had almost entirely shifted from "guardian" to "adviser". Only Sujir, at fifteen years of age, was still considered a minor, and that would change next year on his sixteenth birthday.

His father was sitting at a desk in his office, looking over paperwork involving various monetary figures, dressed uncharacteristically in a suit and tie, sans blazer, wearing a pair of reading glasses. This was very different from Sujir's vision of his father as a soldier.

Janshan4.

Hariem's response was immediate, looking up towards the door to face his youngest son.

"Yes?"

"Could you help me with some homework?"

"Did you ask Crivan?" It wasn't that Hariem was uninterested in helping with Sujir's school life, so much that the father and son had gone to different types of secondary school. Hariem's own education at Sujir's age was military-dominated, with only "necessary" emphasis being placed on general education. His sons both attended secondary schools with an academic orientation, while his daughter opted for a military lifestyle, but did so in an era where the expectations for a military education were more diverse.

This made Crivan (and Trenta, back when she had been alive) more suitable candidates to assist with homework. Of course, this did not mean that Hariem wasn't ignorant or unread, nor did it mean he wouldn't try to help if his help was needed.

"I did, but there's one question he's not sure of".

"Okay. What is it?"

Sujir gulped, before nervously asking, "why was Kaurizil of such importance during the war?"

"What war?" Hariem asked, raising an eyebrow.

"The...uh...the Partition".

"Oh," Hariem said, rather emotionlessly, "the Emperor lives there. The King's Council also convened there. Since it held a lot of executive and judicial power as a city because of this, it was a valuable political target as a city for the pro-apartheid and pro-Zanzeanic forces".

"I'm not allowed to use that answer because it's too obvious. The teacher said to give her a different reason. Crivan says he's not too good at military strategy, and Kana's not here..."

Hariem nodded silently while thinking for a moment.

"Well, there were other reasons too, Sujir. Obviously you know that Kaurizil is the capital of Sangaur, right? I mean, we do live in the suburbs..."

"Yeah..."

Hariem continued, "well, as a capital city, it holds a lot of state power, and in the days of apartheid, Sangaur was a very rich and powerful state in Nui-ta. Controlling Sangaur meant controlling a lot of political and military resources which could be used to overtake the rest of the nation, which is what the PAF-PZF wanted. It also meant having control of a city with a couple million people, not to mention all the resources within the city".

He smiled a little. "Is that answer better?"

"Yeah Dad, thanks, let me get that all down," Sujir said, quickly moving closer to the desk and re-stating the answer which Hariem had just explained for him.

He looked up curiously at his father. "Hey, Dad? Can I ask you another question?"

"Sure? I thought you only had the one question on your homework that needed answering".

"This isn't homework. I'm just...um..."

"Why was Sangaur so much more important than the other states, like Rahku?"

"A million reasons," Hariem said. "The PAF-PZF wanted to restore things to the ways of legal apartheid. You know all about legal apartheid, right?"

"I thought legal apartheid ended a long time ago".

"Just over 50 years ago, actually," Hariem nodded, "as a matter of fact I was born right before the legal apartheid ended," Hariem said, before gasping a little that he was now over half-a-century old --- am I really over 50 already?

He digressed, "but after that, there was still a period of about 20 years where people acted like the apartheid was still in effect, even though legally, it wasn't anymore. This is the period in which your mother and I grew up --- and it's also really what caused the Partition. People were still allowed to discriminate against each other in society, and told to keep to the roles they were born into, even though it was supposed to be a fair and equal society. In those 20 years, different groups began forming that wanted to end the discrepancy between the law and social policy, although how exactly they planned to do this depended on which group they were in".

"When Prime Minister Evan Isaci was elected, he and his administration --- which your mother was a part of, by the way --- sought to help change social policy to match the law, so that people would be more equal. Then there were the pro-Apartheid forces, which you might know as the PAF, that wanted to see Isaci ousted, and wanted a return to the legal apartheid. In addition to this, there was the PZF, the pro-Zanzeanic forces, which also wanted to see apartheid return, but they wanted superiority over the Sangauranic populace, instead of the other way around. The PAF and the PZF joined together and made the plan to split the nation in two. The PAF would rule the eastern portion, and the PZF would rule the western portion".

"Finally, there was the JCSF, the Joint Colonial Separatist Force, which were colonists. You remember when Nui-ta still had Kavia and Tuvia as colonies, before they became states? Right? Well back in those days, Alinia wasn't a state either, it was a colony, and it was a big portion of western Nui-ta where the PZF wanted control. When the PZF started taking over and pushing all the Hadinians, Kavians, and Tuvians out of their homes. the JCSF rose up to fight back --- the problem with them was that they began attacking the Nui-tan government as well. This turned it into a three-way war, although the JCSF were really only the western front's problem".

"Western front?"

"The war is considered to have taken place on two fronts," Hariem explained, "the eastern front, which was the pro-government forces against the PAF-PZF, and the western front, which was the three-way war. Sometimes, when people talk about the western front, they change the name of the PAF-PZF to PZF-PAF, because the PAF were more prominent in the east, and the PZF in the west. I call them the PAF-PZF because I was on the eastern side of the war".

"Where did you go, dad?"

The room went silent. Sujir had just crossed from the boundaries of academic discussion into asking about circumstances specific to Hariem. He could see his father pause for a moment and take a deep breath, and as Hariem took this deep breath, Sujir prepared for what he thought would be a stern reprimand.

What he got instead was, "Crivan, stop spying on us and get in here".

Sujir turned around, surprised, to see that his older brother had been listening in on the conversation. Crivan i-Harendo silently walked into the room, with the same look of surprise on his face.

"You're gonna have to learn to be less obvious, I saw you back when I started talking about the importance of Kaurizil!" Hariem said, switching from a stern tone to something more sardonic. He returned to a more commanding voice and continued, "shut the door on your way in, Crivan. Sujir, pull up a couple chairs. Both of you, sit".

"There's no one else here," Crivan protested, only to get a much sterner voice than before from Hariem: I said, shut the door. Now.

When the door was shut, and the two sons now sitting in front of their father, as if this was some sort of business meeting, Hariem took another deep breath and composed himself.

"Sooner or later, I figured you'd both want to know about the war. Your sister asked me about the war as well, the day before she joined the service. I've kept from saying anything about it from the two of you, since you're both planning on leading civilian lives".

"Wow, really?" Crivan asked. "You haven't told us anything because we're not careers?"

"It's fine that you don't want to be a career soldier. Believe me," Hariem said, "I am going to be the last person to ever force you to take on the military lifestyle. If it were up to me, I would outlaw conscription, even, but I guess I'm still grappling with the fact that you'll both still eventually have to do three years before the government really, truly leaves you alone".

"With your sister, she chose to become a soldier. And between the three of us, our little talk about the horrors of war, uh...might have been a last ditch attempt for me to get my only daughter to change her mind about becoming a career soldier".

Hariem took off his reading glasses, muttering a bit, "with all three of you, it's not a thought that sits well with me..."

"You're a career though, Dad? Wouldn't you want us to be like that too?" Sujir asked.

"Well let's start these ramblings of mine at the beginning," Hariem said. "Do the two of you think I...chose to become a soldier?"

Crivan and Sujir both stared at Hariem cluelessly, unable to fathom the thought that their father, a strong, broad-shouldered Major, a political bodyguard, and a war veteran, hadn't chosen that lifestyle for himself.

"Let's start there. Things were very different under apartheid, even during the age of "soft" apartheid when I was a little boy," Hariem explained. "Even then, unlike now, your life was dictated by the circumstances of your birth, and who your parents were. Being the child of your grandfather, a military officer, I was expected to be one of two things, either a soldier, or if I'd been born a woman, then a military wife. Obviously, you can figure out what happened next".

"Privileged jobs, like being a government official, or being in the military, meant that the government prioritized your well-being. For this reason, the wealthy and esteemed nobility --- our ancestors --- had way more money, power, and privilege than, say, your mother, who came from the common-blooded, working class. While I'm not going to be blind and say that I had it as bad as your mother, all of the wealth and attention that I was given as a young boy were contingent on my filling the role expected of me from the moment they said "it's a boy".

"For example, remember when you finished primary school, and you got to choose what kind of secondary school you would attend? Remember being told that you could be whatever you wanted to be? That didn't happen for even the richest of us, when I was a boy. Military school and a military career were guaranteed for me, but they were also the only option, no matter how much or how little I studied".

"It's not that I would have become something different, given the choice back when I was a kid," Hariem continued. "However, in those days, I didn't even know that it was a life decision that was meant to be thought about --- who you would become as an adult. I just had a path and a life all written up for me, and I followed along".

His eyes shifted towards Crivan, who had just turned twenty-two.

"I did this until I was about your age...mostly".

"When I was 16, I finished military school, as I was supposed to, and I got this crazy idea to go off to college and push my enlistment off by four years. Dad --- your grandfather --- he wasn't too thrilled about that, but I was able to convince him, given the tensions of the time, that if something happened to me where I couldn't serve anymore, having some sort of college education would allow me to still function in society. It took even more convincing on my part to get him to allow me to cross state lines and go to University of Rahku, instead of Sangaur State University".

"How'd you do it?" Crivan asked, curiously, prompting a huge grin from Hariem.

"Dad's probably rolling in his grave," Hariem sighed, "but...I told him I'd take entrance exams for SSU if he let me put in Rahku as a back-up. Then I purposefully failed SSU's entrance exam. Obviously, I tried much harder for University of Rahku, got in, packed my bags, and was out on my own for the first time to explore my own life instead of the one being handed to me. Your uncle Sijur pulled a few similar strings, and it was the two of us in a dormitory in Rahku State before we knew it, both with extensions on our draft cards that allowed us to remain civilians until after we graduated".

"In those days," Hariem continued, "freedom of movement was very different as well. You could go to other states, since legal apartheid was no longer a thing, but you weren't encouraged to leave your home state. To be honest, I think part of the reason we weren't being given too much trouble, Sijur and I, is because our little joyride came with a time limit: we had to return and enlist after graduation. Until then, from age sixteen until age twenty, we were two teenagers --- technically adults, but really just overgrown boys --- and society just thought we were sowing some wild oats and getting all of the rebelliousness out of our systems".

"Only, we weren't. Well, maybe he was, but for me it quickly became different. Yes, I did stupid things, because I was young, and my youth afforded me some stupidity, but moving to Rahku State for four years did something more profound to me. Other than the war, and starting a family with your mother, I rank this as one of the most influential moments of my life. Rahku City was one of the only places in which apartheid, even social apartheid, was less stringent. Being away there was the first time I was forced to make my own life decisions, and if even for a moment, decide who I wanted to be, and what I wanted with my life".

"And I did something I was never supposed to have done, in the last couple years of my time there. I made good friends with commoners. One of them was your mother, although I don't think I realized I actually loved her until after the war...but again, with apartheid, you were told to keep to your own, and as far as society was concerned, Trenta wasn't one of my own. She wasn't my class, and she technically wasn't even my race, being part Zanzeanic and all. Yet she, and other people, not just your mother, became friends with me on equal terms. Suddenly, in my mind, the apartheid meant nothing to me, but I was still just some young boy with no understanding of how things would change".

"And this," Hariem paused, "is where we get to the war. Any questions?"

Both boys shook their heads.

Hariem nodded, before once again continuing, "when I graduated, I went back to my regularly scheduled life. I didn't like returning to Sangaur and being pushed back into certain expectations, such as being a career soldier for the rest of my life, or leaving behind friends and having to retreat behind class line. I returned anyway, because I figured that even if I didn't want to be a career soldier, I'd still have to at least complete my minimum three years, just like the two of you will unfortunately one day have to do".

"I reported to San Gajin for my first tour of duty --- the main military hub of Sangaur, as you might know. Since I didn't have a preference as to which service branch I wanted to enter, I was placed in the army by default".

"Oh, Crivan, speaking of which, you're graduating soon, and you're likely to have to make that decision. Army, Navy, or Air Force. Decide now, unless you want them to decide for you. Just a thought".

Hariem returned to his story. "I was twenty, and it was A.N 100, the year before the Partition. That first year of my three years was monotonous, full of military drills, and being made to do repair work on tanks when I wasn't being drilled. Now, I'm sure the two of you both know that in peacetime, the conscription period is three years, while if you're conscripted in war, you will likely serve through that war".

"Shortly after the start of my second year of service...I remember that day. October 6th, A.N 101, I was woken up early in the morning, before daybreak, to the sound of gunshots and sirens. There wasn't any warning, boys. The previous day had been very quiet. The Commandant, Maran ri-Tarhavae --- I will never forget that name --- had been planning in secret to overthrow leadership in San Gajin, where myself and your Uncle Sijur were stationed, San Talsankir in Rahku State, where your other Uncle Alec was stationed, and San Jarahi, out in Yevzar".

"Whatever his plan was, it must have taken months, because it went off without a hitch. Soldiers who fought back were shot. Sijur and I had the dumb luck to still not have to wake up for another hour, so when PAF-affiliated soldiers who were taking over the base stormed into the dormitories and saw that we were two, young, inexperienced and shocked young Sangauranic men ---their ethnicity of choice --- , so they gave us a choice. If we didn't give them any problems, they wouldn't shoot us in our faces".

"Obviously, I had no intent to join the pro-Apartheid forces. Something in me wanted too badly to see equality remain in Nui-ta...what little equality we had, anyway. If I hadn't gone out to Rahku and seen the whole of society, I'd probably have been in a very different place when I was told to make the decision on whether to join the PAF or not. Thankfully, I wasn't".

"But most importantly, getting shot in the face wouldn't help anything. It was very clear to Sijur and I that we and many others at San Gajin were simply caught off-guard at that moment, so we feigned compliance. We didn't give them any problems --- we couldn't, and even us, two able-bodied enlisted men, had to watch helplessly among others as all of Sangaur, and most of Yevzar and Rahku State were overrun. Your poor mother had to go into hiding, since she was part of the government, and run the Ministry of Internal Affairs from some hole in the ground or another".

"In the meantime, slowly, and very carefully, Sujir, myself, and a bunch of others like us started seeking out other like-minded individuals --- people who were ideologically aligned with the government, and with a post-apartheid Nui-ta, but had to pretend otherwise while on base. Over the next several months, I kept doing grunt work and keeping a low-profile with the PAF in the daytime, and then in the nighttime, instead of sleeping, I'd help sort out and smuggle out every bit of information that our more allegiant group, maybe a few hundred of us, had collected for the government".

"Your grandfather actually had quite the role in this. After gaining some trust and pretending to be wide-eyed and helpless, I convinced a PAF soldier, about the same age as me, to allow me to make a "personal telephone call". When no one was paying any attention, I called your grandfather, and then I slipped him the details of everything that was going on. Now you must keep in mind, I wasn't actually crying home to my father --- the PAF didn't realize your grandfather was, at that time, an active general in Kaurizil, with ties to more government resources. I told him what was going on, and he told General Umsan, which---"

"Wait, the General Umsan?" Sujir asked, "like...the one who started the Umsan Project5?"

"Oh, so you know about that!" Hariem laughed, before adding, "my only merit in life isn't marrying a Prime Minister, you know. You both are talking to the man who caused the information about San Gajin to make it onto Umsan's desk!"

"Holy. Shit," the two boys said in unison.

"Language, gentlemen," Hariem quipped. "Now, to be fair, I didn't do all the intelligence gathering. I just had the crazy idea about how to pass that information forward to Kaurizil. For once, being an aristocrat was helping me pave my own way, rather than dictating the road of my life for me. Anyway, to keep suspicions low, we agreed to only have one more phone call, from him to me, after a plan of action had been made. In the meantime, myself and the others were all ordered to continue playing the part of loyal PAF soldiers while awaiting further instructions".

"It took a lot longer than I'd hoped. Whatever information I did manage to pass unto Kaurizil at that time only just beat the PAF there, and more prominent officers like Umsan and your grandfather had to go into hiding. In the meantime, the ranking officer among our group of one hundred or so, a First Lieutenant by the name of Kalsani, started organizing us into a battalion under his recognized command. He told the PAF it was because he liked us, and involved some privilege or another for an officer to choose his own men. In reality, it was just because we were all government sympathizers, and under the Lieutenant's command officially, we could work better as essentially a whole unit of double-agents.

"Did you do it?" Crivan asked.

"Thank the gods, no," Hariem said. "The day before Kalsani's battalion --- us --- were to be sent out to march through "enemy" waves to San Talsankir, I got a return phone call from General Umsan himself, posing as my dad. To this day, I don't know how he got to a phone. He gave us instructions to take a route that would be less patrolled by government forces, and to get to San Talsankir. Once there, we were to seek out others like us --- pro-government forces pretending to be PAF loyalists. I was given the names of a few specific people for Lieutenant Kalsani to report to".

"So we traveled to San Talsankir, which took a couple days. For the most part, because we were given a route which was less patrolled, we weren't bothered by people shooting at us --- but as we got closer to the base, we were attacked by government forces, and we couldn't give up the charade that we weren't really PAF soldiers. Lieutenant Kalsani ordered us to get as many people as possible to the base, taking as few lives as possible. Sadly, he was among a few of us that got killed in the process, despite being the mastermind behind the attempt to save as many of the people shooting at him as he could".

Sujir's voice could be heard, meekly saying "...woah..."

"Yeah, this is why I didn't want to have this conversation with you! War is hell! And that's not even when it gets violent!" Hariem quipped. Somewhere under the slightly sardonic tone, both boys could sense he really meant every word.

"The Valentine's Day Massacre", Crivan mumbled.

Hariem's eyes narrowed. The room went not only silent, but very cold, despite it being a warm, summer day in central Nui-ta. Despite the lack of air conditioning (all three men in the room were used to the heat), everyone could feel a chill in the air.

"That was you, wasn't it?"

Sujir immediately jumped and moved to hush his older brother. "Janhau, shush!"

"Don't shush him," Hariem said quietly. "You wanted to know about my experiences in the Partition, right? Both of you? Well, this is the moment you were likely waiting for".

There was no paternalism in these next few sentences, as Hariem glared at Crivan, and Crivan back at Hariem. It was a coldness between them --- a soldier who had seen hell explaining his actions to an untested member of the next generation. In Crivan's eyes, it was the fire of an idealistic young man, who was somehow angered and upset to hear that his father was among the perpetrators of one of the most violent events in the war. In Hariem's eyes, it was a thousand-mile stare, as if the events of the massacre were repeating themselves in his mind.

Crivan and Hariem were normally quite close. The tension in the air was enough at that moment to freeze every muscle in Sujir's body as he watched them glare at each other.

"All I want you to know," Hariem said, very quietly, "is that I am very glad that you and your younger brother are shocked and appalled. If you are, then you have maintained a level of innocence and freedom that my generation was not given. I can sleep at night knowing you don't truly know such cruelty in the world".

"The fact that you say that so calmly is kinda sickening, Dad," Crivan snapped.

"And as I said, the fact that you're angry is re-assuring. People like me, who were there in that...deep pit of hell, we'll have to make our peace with taking very few prisoners in the re-capture of San Talsankir. In a perfect world, I would have been happier to take prisoners and see them brought to the Tarashka Conference and given a trial the fair way, but this was in the middle of a three-year war, and it was deep in the heart of true enemy territory. Furthermore, the PAF and PZF weren't out to restore order to the nation. They were killing hundreds, maybe even thousands of civilians, establishing a dictatorship, and planning to rip the nation in two. Myself, and others like me, we had to fight and even kill hundreds of other young men and women like us, who thought they were doing a good thing by re-introducing apartheid...but we had to do it to save millions, who would have suffered, and starved, and died, if the war continued on, or if the PAF-PZF got their way".

Hariem laughed a little. "Y'know, it's been 30 years now, since the Partition began. It's been almost 30 years since the Valentine's Massacre. Before you think too badly of me, I know exactly where I stand as far as how good or bad of a person that the Valentine's Massacre makes me. I don't claim to be a saint, and it does keep me up at night. Seeing your mother, who would have likely been captured and killed as a common-blooded Minister in the Isaci Administration --- the Administration was public enemy number one of the PAF, by the way, ...it helped a little".

His eyes flashed to the look of concern that his younger son was giving him. "...and I've made my peace. I know the magnitude of what I did, but I also know the magnitude of why. More importantly, those nightmares and horrible memories...they never stop. But they don't have to be every day".

"And what happened during the Valentine's Massacre?"

"That, Crivan, might be too much for this conversation, and that is where I'm going to cut you both off. I have work to do," Hariem said calmly.

"I don't understand why you and the government had to be involved in something so violent. A pro-government group of 8,000 decimated a PAF group of 20,000. All of those people..."

"Hey, we didn't kill all of them, and we originally started with 1,500. San Talsankir had way more government sympathizers than San Gajin. We forced our way to re-capturing the base, and then forcing a surrender from the surviving PAF. Those people were able to see the Tarashka Conference, and many of them even went on to be absolved of their involvement in the war, and returning to their normal lives. When the war was over, and the government won, that absolution became possible. If the PAF had won, it would have been a very different story".

"I still don't understand," Crivan snapped.

It was Sujir that spoke next. "Dad, neither do I...but I really hope that I never do". Somehow, the younger, more innocent son found himself capable of an understanding that was eluding his elder brother. The comfortable life they both lived, and their inability to fathom the horrors of the civil war were all only possible because the previous generation --- such as their father standing before them --- had sacrificed that innocence.

Innocence was bliss, after all, and as such, a loss of innocence was a sort of twisted sorrow, like a scar that would never heal or fade. The look on Hariem's face, calm, composed, and yet somehow haunted by war --- a truly evil thing --- said it all.

"I hope so too, Sujir," Hariem sighed, the fatherly side of his personality returning. "I hope you never live in a Nui-ta like that".



1 The Tarashka Conference were a series of trials held after the war, convicting leaders of the losing forces for war crimes.

2 Janhau is a proper term of address for one's older brother.

3 Jan'u is a polite term of address for one's younger brother.

4 Janshan means "father" in Melodian, and is also the proper term of address for one's father (or father-in-law).

5 Project Umsan was a military operation by the pro-government forces, which was instrumental in allowing the government to regain control of San Gajin and San Talsankir, two important military establishments in the states of Sangaur and Rahku State.
Last edited by Nui-ta on Tue May 03, 2016 12:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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