NATION

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Inglorious Triumphs and Dishonest Scars

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Snefaldia
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Inglorious Triumphs and Dishonest Scars

Postby Snefaldia » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:25 pm

In depths of an unusually cold January in 2019, Márkës Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè, the Lord High Chancellor, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, head of the Supreme Council and the de facto dictator of country, sat down for an afternoon coffee in his Chancellery offices, looked out the window at the winter squalls, leaned back in his chair, and suffered a massive stroke.

It took him almost half an hour to be discovered and rushed to the hospital, cared for by top military doctors who tried to discover the extent of the damage. Everything was conducted completely in secrecy. Of course the top members of the Supreme Council were informed, but for the next few weeks the Lord Chancellor was incognito. Not that state media would say anything, however: reused archival footage from older closed meetings was broadcast in snippets to present the sense there was nothing wrong. The facts of his condition would not be known until mid-February, when the news was confirmed to the Supreme Council in full: the Chancellor was unable to walk, or speak, and although he was not in a vegetative state his recovery would take years, decades even, and that he was incapable of fulfilling his office.

Behind the scenes the wheels of conspiracy had already begun to turn. The factions in the Supreme Council that had been held together, barely, by the Chancellor after the overthrow of Pairi Hantili in 2016 were already drawing up against one another. To foreign observers and intelligence agencies, it was agreed there were a few major divisions. The Chancellor’s brother and Minister of State, Šygmë Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè, headed one group, the “Army Clique.” Lord Admiral Ta’us Rata’a, had his own Navy Clique. Minister of Justice Zannanza, a retired general, had his own power base, called the “Royalist Clique” because of his membership in the House of Parshtatar-Luwas. The Ultraconservatives, a group of hard-line Aatem Nal theocrats, coalesced under the leadership of Grand Librarian Shan Parshtatar, and Wemiya Tarku, the imposing female former World Assembly Minister, was widely believed to be the eminence grise behind the faction of diplomats and functionaries led by Foreign Minister Severín vèl Ortóvenë.

By April 1st, though, the veil was too thin, and the absence of the Lord Chancellor couldn’t be concealed any longer. His retirement was announced, with little fanfare, and the thanks of a nation were given. Behind the scenes, the jockeying for power began in earnest, and the knives were out, with waves of recrimination spreading through the networks of influence and patronage overseen by the various members of government. By the end of May, the Council itself was in turmoil. Narmo Avoon, the Interior Minister, “retired for reasons of health” and sought medical treatment in Sabaristan. Tuliak, the Transportation Minister and Navy Admiral, fled to Aerion in advance of his arrest on charges of public corruption. Ta’us Broma’a, the former commando general, war hero, and Science Minister, committed suicide with wife and only son when word reached him the feared Public Security Bureau of Eged Boerkil was preparing to arrest him on charges of spying for the Kartlians.

Perhaps the most surprising downfall was Boerkil himself. He was last seen on June 5, leaving the capital for the Dayan countryside, and never returned to his post. His lieutenants were rolled up almost immediately, and his hated bureau fell apart almost by the end of the week, consumed mostly with watching their own asses instead of the citizenry.

Within the space of a few six months, the government of Snefaldia had nearly come apart at the seams, kept running only by the mass of civil servants at lower levels. The façade of a unified executive government, and the carefully balanced system created by the stricken former Chancellor, was collapsing. The Supreme Council itself, missing half its members, rarely met anymore; the major players retreated first to their ministry buildings, and then to their provincial powerbases to keep a hold on their factions. Only Ta’us Rata’a kept up the façade of legitimate government, gaveling the national legislature into session and holding debates on dead-end legislation.

Abroad, the dissidents, refugees, and political exiles forced out or tortured by first the fury of the Hantili regime and then by the iron grip of Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè’s were seeing the cracks and taking their chances. With the security services in sudden disarray, there was space for organization and planning. From over the border in Anahuac, exiled Snefaldian communists began to filter back into the western Korsahad province, believing the time had come for socialist revolution.

The first strikes against the state were initially small. Police chiefs and a few legislators were killed by bombs being thrown into their offices. The Mayor of Kand, a retired army colonel, was shot and killed on way to the office in the morning. A Brigadier in the Public Security Armed Police was killed by a car bomb in the suburbs of Mavateisnaya. State media blamed terrorists and foreign provocateurs, attempting to project a sense of strength, but it was a thin veneer.

On July 15th, the moment the government had feared the most came. In Luwatarna, a cadre of young army colonels launched a coup, arresting first the mayor, their commanding general, the entire High Circuit Court for Karduniash Province, and managed to arrest the commander of the Karduniash-East Military Region. The coup only faltered when the airforce branch commander refused to join the coup and warned the local Special Forces commander, who moved to quash the coup and lock down the communications in the city before it could spread. The country was on tenterhooks, seemingly ready to explode, and within the government the leaders of the various factions seemed to be almost waiting for the moment to consolidate power in their own hands.

In the moment, as events develop, it is sometimes hard to know when a tipping point has been reached, the exact second when things change and there is no going back. It is left up to historians to later delineate, explain, and understand. For Snefaldia, the moment was August 9th , at 7:30 in the morning, when soldiers from Šygmë Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè’s Army Clique broke into the Dayan country estate of Eshmunazor Naramsin, the head of the Strategic Missile Command, arrested him, and after a drumhead trial, executed him on the front lawn. They also shot his wife, seemingly for good measure. The major play was being made for Snefaldia’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, a play that had to be stopped. The Navy group responded by sending armed marines to seize the offices of government in Sargedain, and Ta’us Rata’a ordered the fleet to sea at high alert. Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè, with his army power base, immediately moved to combat Ta’us, and by the morning of the 9th there were running gun battles in Sargedain.

Years later, some historians would argue it began with the stroke suffered by the Lord Chancellor. Some would even say it had truly begun with the coup against Pairi Hantili, or even Hantili’s coup itself. In point of fact, though, August 9th, 7:30 AM, Snefaldia descended into civil war.
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Ideological Bulwark #68

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Snefaldia
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Postby Snefaldia » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:26 pm

Welcome to Snefaldia!

Ideological Bulwark #68

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Postby Excalbia » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:23 pm

Citadel Excalbia, Excalbia

August in the Citadel usually meant vacations,light traffic and slow news days. The Imperial Senate was in recess; the Emperor had moved his residence to the Summer Palace and was keeping an extraordinarily light public schedule, and even the Chancellor had taken his family to the Seaside Estate - the official retreat on the southern coast near Landing. With schools and universities still on holiday, the capital was quiet indeed.

Nonetheless, the business of government continued. So, when at the beginning of August senior Snefaldian government officials began to be arrested, die or flee the country, analysts at the Ministry of State’s Directorate of Intelligence and Research, Imperial Intelligence’s Bureau of Analysis, and the Ministry of Defence’s Office of Strategic Analysis immediately focused their attention on the developments in the large, enigmatic state to the south. For several weeks, reporting through diplomatic and intelligence channels had discussed growing stresses within the military government following the removal of Márkës Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè at the beginning of April (the truth behind his retirement was still a topic of discussion in intelligence circles), but no-one had foreseen such a rapid deterioration.

In short order, the convergining analyses of State, Defence and Imperial Intelligence made their way up the inter-ministerial food chain to the most senior levels of government. Dr. Arturs Anders, the Minister of Defence, was the first to return to the capital; after all, he had only taken a long weekend with his wife to the beach. Shortly thereafter Baroness Vivian Bodniece, the Minister of State arrived from her nearby country estate. The next day, Imperial Chancellor Baron Dainis Murniece flew in from Landing, leaving his family behind at Seaside.

* * *

The Chancellor entered his suite at the Chancery, across the street from Sweyn Castle, and made his way directly to the secure conference room. Dressed in jeans and casual button-down shirt with a brown sports coat he seemed like a man caught between vacation and work, which of course he was. The Imperial Marine standing at the entrance saluted smartly and opened the door. Dr. Anders and Admiral Tucker Norland, the long-serving Director of Imperial Intelligence, were already in the room and stood as Baron Dainis entered.

“Doctor, Admiral,” the Chancellor said with a nod. “I see we’re still waiting for Baroness Vivian and the Chiefs of Staff.”

“The Chiefs of Staff are waiting outside, My Lord Chancellor,” Anders said. He glanced at Norland. “The Admiral and I wanted a quick word with you first.”

“Oh?”

“I know that you and Baroness Vivian have been political allies longer than we,” Anders began, “and this is certainly no slight towards her; my learning curve when I first took over Defence was as steep as hers now. However, we,” he looked again at Norland, “have been through the fires, as it were, and the Baroness is still new to State. She’s certainly proven herself a capable administrator and an effective diplomat… in normal situations. But, we may be entering into a crisis… and…. Well, she’s not… yet experienced in these matters…”

“Neither am I, Arturs.” Murniece frowned slightly. “So, come to the point.”

“The point is, Dainis, that the Emperor will take a very active role now. And unless we have things well in hand before we go over to the Castle to brief him and have solid, nearly flawless recommendations, he will take decisions out of our hands and make them himself. Baroness Vivian hasn’t had to experience that side of the Emperor. And, well, sometimes she relies, perhaps a little too much, on her staff and her notes to carry her through. So, you may need to take… more of an active hand in guiding State…”

“So,” the Chancellor gave a wry smile, “you’re really questioning my leadership of the Cabinet, not the Baroness’ leadership of State…”

“Certainly not!”

“Don’t worry, Arturs. I’m just twisting your tail a bit. I understand.” He sighed. “Lady Ashley warned me about moments like this…”

“Like what, Dainis?” Baroness Vivian Bodniece asked as she entered the conference room followed by Dr. Frank Ginkel, the new Deputy Minister of State, and the Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff - Lord Admiral Ricards Turlais, General John Tighe, General Rachel Gertrude and General William Krauklis.

The Chancellor turned smoothly and gave a half smile. “Crises. Like the one we may be facing. And the necessity of… giving His Imperial Majesty good advice and sound recommendations at such times.” He gestured to the table. “Let’s not stand on formality. Please, take your seats and let’s get started.”

* * *

During his brief tenure, Baron Dainis had come to learn a few things about the Emperor. He had already known from his years in Government that David IV was no figurehead like so many constitutional monarchs; his own constitutional powers were theoretical substantial. However, as the still new Chancellor had learned, not everything was of interest to His Imperial Majesty. In areas of slight Imperial interest, Baron Dainis and the Government had relatively free reign. Matters of national security were an entirely different matter.

He had also learned that despite the Emperor’s efforts to project a friendly, almost grandfatherly demeanor, David IV was at heart a military man. And a man who understood that formality and symbolism had their place. So, with that in mind, Baron Dainis stood outside the Map Room of Sweyn Castle waiting to brief the Emperor. Beside him stood Baroness Vivian, Dr. Anders, Admiral Norland and Lord Admiral Turlais. The civilians were all dressed in unseasonable business suits, while the two admirals wore dress whites.

Lady Jenolyn Tremane, the new Imperial Chamberlain, opened the doors of the Map Room and bowed slightly. “My Lord Chancellor, Baroness, Doctor, my lords of the Admiralty,” she said as she turned slightly and gestured into the room, “please come in. His Imperial Majesty will be with you shortly.”

The small group had no sooner taken their seats when another door opened and David IV entered wearing his own white naval uniform. Obviously, he understood the nature of the subject at hand, if not the details. The Chancellor and rest stood and bowed deeply.

“My Lord Chancellor,” the Emperor said as he walked over to his chair. “Baroness. Doctor. My Lord Admiral. Admiral.” He took his seat and gestured to the empty chairs around the table. “Please, be seated.”

“Your Imperial Majesty,” Baron Dainis began, “I’m afraid that we have some troubling news from Snefaldia.”

David IV leaned forward and rested his arms on the table. “I know that their Lord High Chancellor was incapacitated. And that various factions have been… scrambling to replace him…”

“It would appear that the… scrambling has broken out into violence.” He turned to Admiral Norland.

“The unraveling of the regime,” eyebrows went up around the table at Norland’s bald statement, “seems to have begun shortly after Márkës Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè removal from office. In May, Interior Minister Narmo Avoon ‘retired’ and relocated to Sabaristan. Ta’us Bromaa, the Science Minister, committed suicide and Tuliak, the Air Force Commander, fled to Aerion. Public Security Minister - and regime hatchetman - Eged Boerkil hasn’t been seen since early June. Earlier this month, the Head of Strategic Missile Command was executed by the Army and their fleet was unexpectedly and hurriedly ordered to sea. There have been reports of sporadic gunfire, and unconfirmed reports of insurgent activities.”

“I see,” the Emperor said. “Who has control of their nuclear arsenal?”

“We aren’t sure,” Dr. Anders answered. “However, we believe that some form of central control is still in place.”

“Some form?”

“The regime seems to have shattered into five or more cliques,” Norland chimed in. “One group has coalesced around the former Lord High Chancellor’s brother, Šygmë Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè. We believe that he is in control of the Army and western and northern military regions. His clique is believed to be behind the execution of the Commander of the Strategic Missile Command.

“Another clique is centered around Lord Admiral Ta’us Rata’a and seems to be in control of the Navy, the capital and the eastern regions. Justice Minister General Zannanza seems to be building his own power base in the east and is drawing his support from ethnic Luwites.

“There is also an ultraconservative, right-wing group led to some extent by Grand Librarian Shan Parshtatar, and a technocratic group led by Foreign Minister Severín vèl Ortóvenë and Ambassador Wemiya Tarku…”

The Emperor palmed his face. “It’s Zamimbia with nuclear weapons…”

“Um,” the Chancellor began, “not quite. At least not yet. Hopefully, it won’t come to that.”

“So,” the Emperor said, “we have a failing multi-ethnic state with grand ambitions, an outsized military and nuclear weapons. Obviously, we want to avoid outright civil war. And, at least, contain the… chaos to keep it from spreading across the region.”

“Absolutely, Your Imperial Majesty. And we have some proposals to accomplish that…”

“Oh?”

“First,” Baroness Vivian spoke up for the first time, “we need to consult with our allies, the Caldans, the Pantocratorias, the Anahaucans, the Braslanders… and, of course, the Knootians.”

The Emperor nodded. “Should we beef up our military presence in the region?”

Dr. Anders looked to Lord Admiral Turlais. The Admiral subtly nodded. “Our military presence in the region is already quite substantial between the Skralins Station, Ajuba and our presence in Zamimbia…”

“Any increase,” the Chancellor jumped in, “might exacerbate the problem.” The Emperor nodded. “Nonetheless, we should continue with planned military sales to Anahauc and Ajuba, to ensure their ability to defend their borders in the event… things get out of control.”

“Understood.” The Emperor rubbed his chin. “Who can we reach out to in the Snefaldian… regime to gain some clarity?”

“Unfortunately,” Baroness Vivian said, “we have not been on good terms with any of the faction leaders. Perhaps our best entry would be through the technocratic faction, through Ambassador Tarku.”

The Emperor nodded. “Very good.” He stood and so did everyone else. “Once you’ve discussed this with the other powers and have had a chance to reach out to this Ambassador, I’ll expect a full briefing. Meanwhile, even without a deployment, it would not hurt to raise our military readiness posture.”

“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty,” the group said as they bowed deeply and watched the Emperor exit through the back door.
Last edited by Excalbia on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:24 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Snefaldia » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:22 pm

Sargedain, Snefaldia

For the moment, the city was quiet, not that Wemiya Tarku noticed would noticed, fifty feet below ground level in a Chancellery hardened bunker. When she first moved her office down there she had remarked, drily, to her secretary that not only was she buried in paperwork she was now also buried in reinforced concrete. She was reviewing a situation report from her assets in the Citadel, the intelligence services, and distilling it for her superior, the Foreign Minister Severin vel Ortovene.

The situation was not as grim as it could have been. The sporadic clashes between different factions earlier in the month had resolved quickly. The Army Clique had attempted to take control of the major ministries, but both Admiral Ta'us and General Zannanza countered immediately, first allowing Marshal Vinselmo-Ryme's forces to take over the centers of government before cutting the power and moved to encircle first the government quarter, and then Sargedain, and had not only forced the surrender of what state media (still under their control) was calling "the forces of insurrection" but had also captured General Aduwa Hutarli, the commander of the Sargedain Capital Military Region and surrounded the remaining military bases that had not yet mustered out. There had been only sporadic fighting: a few hot-shot divisional commanders had attempted to make moves on their own, but had been quickly outmaneuvered. One general, up in Taygatte, had even been shot by his own staff when he issued orders to mobilize and march on Sargedain. The man had deserved it: his forces were nearly five hundred miles away from the capital. Where did he think he would be going, other than the afterlife?

Tarku was reading the weekly summary, and things had not gone as swimmingly for Ta'us and Zannanza, who were tentatively allied. The Admiral had the navy, but few ground troops and little support in the provinces; Zannanza had no ships, but a third of the army and almost universal support in Karduniash and eastern Dayan. She knew Vinselmo-Ryme would try to split them, and the best way to do that would be to seize Taxilha and her naval anchorages and force the Navy to decamp to the colonies. Without the largest and most important port in Snefaldia, and the strength of the navy, Zannanza might turn on the admiral, or ally with the Army instead. These intelligence reports suggested that was exactly what was happening: the Field Marshal had been making overtures to the commanders in the Shahd-Taxilha sub-district, all while preparing both special forces and troops in eastern Allasha to move south on the river.

More worrying were the reports of communists crossing over the border from Anahuac and Daytanistan. The Daytans had been reliable... well, allies wasn't the right term. They had been predictable in the past, but probably couldn't be relied on now. Just as she was preparing her summary for the Foreign Minister, along with her "suggestions" for action, her assistant, a diminutive, balding Sringi man named Zuzuwa, entered the room.

"Ma'am. I have this direct from our man in the Citadel." he said, and handed over a small piece of paper signed only with a hieroglyph. She read it, frowning.

"The Excalbians." she said, not to Zuzuwa. "Arrange it. With me, not with the Foreign Minister."

"Ma'am?"

"He's too busy." she said with a grim smile. "with the business of the country. Let's go through the Altanari embassy. You know them. This evening."

Zuzuwa nodded, and left. He never needed to write anything down, and was a consummate organizer. With his contacts in the diplomatic corps, he arranged a dinner between the ambassador from the Altan Steppes and the Excalbian point of contact at a local restaurant's private room. Tarku would be there, to hear what had to be said.

Sitting back, she considered briefly. This request was... unripe, wasn't it? She didn't even know what the Excalbians wanted. It would be premature to report it to the Foreign Minister. He was very busy, after all, trying to shore up support abroad with the United Front groups, the intelligence service, and the diplomatic corps. She would report the engagement after she knew what needed to be said.

With another grim smile, she returned to the reports, and the business of the day.
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The Resurgent Dream
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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:48 pm

The Caldan Union was itself undergoing a partisan realignment. Radical change had likely been inevitable in the aftermath of the constitutional reforms resulting in the admission of seven new provinces and the high profile defection of Christopher Rutledge and other leaders in the Labour Party to form the Socialist Party. Lola Foster's goal of demonstrating a return to normalcy and stability by serving out a full term had fallen short by only a couple months but the damage had been more than symbolic. Socialist and Labour candidates had shown the greatest vitriol for one another in what were once safe Labour seats and each party placed the other low on its recommended preference lists. The Nationals and the Liberals had taken full advantage, of course, and even the Greens had managed to actually win three seats in Parliament. Meanwhile, three previously fringe parties, the Christian Democrats, the Islamic Demcorats, and the Arcadian Democratic Union, had joined forces to create the Centrist Democratic Party. They were for more open immigration, a strong social safety net, restrictions on abortion, restrictions on divorce, grassroots democracy, criminal justice reform, peace, and more room for faith in the public square. The economically marginalised and deeply religious voters that Labour had long counted on and the Nationals had long sought to convince they were 'natural conservatives' now had a party of their own led by Victor Daladier.

André Depreux had emerged from the chaos as leader of the Labour Party and the nation. He was all things to all people. He was a lawyer and academic who had served in the Iesian War before running for Parliament. He had written at length about politics, economics, law, even philosophy, and his enemies had an endless array of quotes to make him look radical or reactionary, a detached elitist or an unqualified simpleton, to tie him to every failed idea in two decades. To his supporters, he had a mind rarely elevated to high office and had grappled seriously and publicly with the core questions of politics. To some on the left he was a return to the array of old white men who had once held his office while to Arcadians he was the first Francophone Arcadian prime minister of the millennium. To some commentators, there was something uncomfortably personal about his power. Nothing quite inappropriate. Not really. But his confidence arrangements seemed to have more to do with popularity among the backbenchers of several other parties than the sort of arms length agreements Caldans were used to. Like most Caldan prime ministers since the war, he'd come to power promising, in part, to restore the Caldan Union's place in the region. While he had been careful making precise promises about foreign policy, where other actors were often unpredictable, he had suggested that joint environmental action might be tied to the sorts of multilateral arrangements that had defined previous Atlantic treaties and an expended monetary union. Now it looked like the crisis Snefaldia would define his government's foreign policy. Developments were not coming entirely our of the blue, of course. Depreux had been privy to briefings from the Royal Caldan Intelligence Command. However, he'd hoped to ease tensions in Snefaldia gently even as he pushed greater multilateralism and integration throughout the region. He'd wanted a thaw, not a collapse. Still, he had responded quickly. A few orders had been given the moment he'd been informed. The Royal Caldan Armed Forces were put on alert. Direct travel from the Caldan Union to Snefaldia was prohibited, although aid was provided for Snefaldian refugees seeking to enter the Caldan Union. Beyond that, he issued a brief public statement calling for calm before retreating to his office to meet with ministers and advisers, military and civilian, and prepare to contact his foreign colleagues in the region.

Two men and a woman were waiting for him in his office when he walked in. Raymond Vuillemin, his Chief of Staff, was a tall, bald man a few years the Prime Minister's senior. He had been with Depreux since his first run for Parliament. Vuillemin was pragmatic, cynical, occasionally ruthless. He was the one who got his hands dirty for Depreux. Academics in politics always seemed to have someone like him. Robert Halston had had Lawrence Reeser; Amber Trinh George Breeland. Depreux had Vuillemin. The other man was the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Hilary Denham. Although he had held a frontline command as recently as the Second Ambaran War, the grey-haired, lean Sir Hilary now had something of a grandfatherly air about him. The woman, Dame Marianne Steele, was Clerk of the Privy Council and the highest ranking career civil servant in the Caldan Union. She was a solidly built, mature woman with alert grey eyes behind her glasses.

'Thoughts?' Depreux asked as soon as he entered, before even sitting down. He was given to the Socratic method, a holdover from his days as a law professor. He preferred to draw out everyone's thoughts before making any statements of his own. It was a mark of his haste that he didn't wait for everyone to arrive.

'I'm most concerned about Snefaldia's nuclear arsenal, Prime Minister,' Sir Hilary said. 'There are still significant terrorist threats in this region, especially in places like Marlund and Finara. Caldans have already learned once just how horrific it can be when those sorts of weapons fall into the wrong hands. A repeat of the Solomon attack isn't outside the realm of possibility.'

Depreux settled behind his desk, looking intently to the general. 'Is there anything we could do to prevent that?' he asked.

'I'd advise against any large scale or high visibility intervention,' Sir Hilary said. 'That could only exacerbate the situation and make us a target. However, it should be possible to track these weapons. We already keep a fairly close eye on them. Surveillance could largely be done from orbit.'

'Largely?' the Prime Minister pressed.

'Not perfectly,' Sir Hilary admitted. 'We would have to supplement it. We might use surveillance drones or human intelligence, both of which can be done in as low impact a manner as possible. We might also be able to coordinate with our allies.'

'I'll expect to be briefed on possible surveillance as soon as possible,' Depreux said.

'And on possible plans for directly securing all or part of Snefaldia's nuclear arsenal?' Vuillemin added.

'You can't seriously....' Dame Marianne began in shock.

Sir Hilary glanced to the Prime Minister. 'I would like to see some contingency plans,' Depreux said, 'just in case things go south. Just make sure there's no leaks. The last thing we need is to make this situation messier.'

'I'll treat it as SOI,' Sir Hilary said. Special operational information was a term of art for information only available on a need to know basis. It was not a classification per se but it limited certain information with a Most Secret classification to those directly involved in the operation and those above them in the direct chain of command. There were nine people in the entire Caldan Union cleared for all special operational information and four of them were in the office.

'Good,' Depreux said. 'Can you have something ready for me in four hours?'

'I think so,' Sir Hilary agreed. 'Something preliminary anyway.'

Just then, three more Cabinet ministers entered. Charles Hardy, the avuncular Deputy Prime Minister, was a master glad-hander and baby-kisser. He also happened to be one of the few people in Labour's top leadership from an authentically working-class background, had deep roots with the party's traditional union base, and was an expert on economic policy when he had time to gather his thoughts. Despite all that or because of it, depending on whom you asked, Hardy was also one of Labour most moderate figures, the informally but clearly acknowledged leader of the party's right-wing. Edward Moss, the defence minister, was a gruff, portly, bald man entering middle age. Like the Prime Minister, he had been in Iesus Christi. Kate Mandelson, the foreign minister, was a slender woman in her late thirties with wavy brown hair and curious eyes. Depreux looked to her first. 'Kate, what are the chances this conflict could spread across international borders?'

'Unfortunately, fairly high,' she answered resignedly. 'A lot of Snefaldian communists have deep ties in Anahuac and there is a long history along that border.'

'And Daytanistan?' he asked.

'They might also intervene if it looks like communists are going to be able to seize and hold territory, but those aren't the only two countries I worry about. There are communists in Catacora's new Popular Front government in Tehua. President Smith of Marlund draws a lot of support from former communist militants in that country now that it's no longer a Caldan province. Some of the men among his personal guard...'

'Women,' Sir Hilary corrected.

'Some of the men and women,' she continued.

'Women,' Sir Hilary corrected again.

'I see,' she acknowledged, eyebrows raised.

'Be that as it may,' Depreux said with a shrug, 'that makes at least two more countries that might be tempted to intervene. How likely is it that they will?'

'Not very,' she said with a small shrug. 'However, they are likely to be highly sceptical of any imposed negotiated settlement that excludes the communists and more likely to see them as previously suppressed dissidents than as a threat to the peace.'

'They can't be both?' Depreux asked resignedly.

'They are both,' Mandelson agreed. She paused a moment as she collected her thoughts. 'I guess what I meant to convey is that Marlund and Tehua will view the communists as far more legitimate political actors than we'd like.'

'A Habsburg monarchy!' Hardy exclaimed. 'I can't believe they'd seriously be so comfortable with Anahuacan puppets! They probably think we're Bolshevists!'

'I doubt anyone is going to make that mistake about you, Charles!' Mandelson exclaimed with a laugh.

Hardy gave her a sharp look. 'I still can't imagine it. The Empress...'

'Does not set policy,' Mandelson reminded him.

The prime minister wasn't the only focus on attention in this time of crisis. Annayati Huwattanza was a Centrist Democratic backbencher and a devout follower of Aatem Nal. She was living proof that the Centrist Democratic message was not that of any particular sect, even one defined as broadly as the Abrahamic tradition. She had been a champion of the Snefaldian disaapora in the Caldan Union, promoting the community, calling for greater international pressure on the regime, and condemning religious repression and human rights abuses. Her roots were deep. However, now that things were falling apart, many wondered if her sympathies were with the Committee for a Democratic Snefaldia and the democratic forces in the country or if they were with the Grand Librarian.
Last edited by The Resurgent Dream on Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:59 pm

(OOC: Joint post with Snefaldia.)

Bistro Theophile Delcasse, Sargedain

The Bisto Delcasse, serving fine haute Pantocratorian cuisine, was an old favorite of the Sargedain establishment not just for the exquisite food and wine, but also because it offered a mixture of public and private spaces, so that any needs to be accommodated. The first floor of the Second Empire-style restaurant had open windows and tables visible from the street, so as to allow oneself to be seen by the hoi polloi, but the second and third floors had a selection of private rooms for more quiet meetings and rendezs-vous. The Altanari Ambassador had arrived first, to be shown upstairs to the Constantinople Salon, and Sir Derek Kunle, the Excalbian Ambassador, was directed that way as well by the businesslike maitre’d.

After a complimentary glass of sherry from Msr. Delcasse’s private collection, the Altanari Ambassador excused himself, and Wemiya Tarku, all 6’2” of her, emerged from a second room across the hall and entered the salon.

“Sir Derek.” she said, extending a limp, kidskin-gloved hand, palm down. “Please excuse the subterfuge. Do make yourself comfortable.”

Sir Derek smiled slightly. “Ambassador,” he said as he bent over and kissed the air above her gloved hand in what Excalbians still called the ‘Caldan fashion,’ “a most pleasant surprise.” He gestured towards a chair and waited for Tarku to take her seat before taking his own.

The Excalbian was somewhat shorter than the Snefaldian, but very broad shouldered. His hair had greyed in recent years, but otherwise he did not look appreciably different than when he had been on active duty in the Imperial Navy. “I am pleased that you could find time in what I am sure is a busy schedule to speak with me.”

“Not at all. The Snefaldian government is pleased to continue to engage with our allies in Excalbia.” she said with what outside the diplomatic community would be called a wooden smile. “The Foreign Minister regrets that he could not meet with you personally. I can answer any questions or concerns you might have with his complete confidence and… support.”

“Thank you, Ambassador Tarku,” Sir Derek said, letting his smile fade into a neutral expression. “As you know, Madame, I was a military man before taking this post, so I hope you will forgive me if I am rather direct at times.” A brief smile flashed across his face. “Even after all this time some of the finer points of diplomatic word-parsing escapes me.”

He shifted slightly in his seat. “We are aware that the States Federation is going through a period of… transition following the retirement of the former Lord High Chancellor. You may be aware,” he smiled again, “that the Holy Empire tends to be rather concerned about any possibility of… instability. Matters in the region are still somewhat… sensitive following the crisis in Zamimbia. So,the possibility of any… abrupt changes in Snefaldian policy preoccupies the Citadel.” He leaned back. “So, I guess you could say that my mission today is to ask you to help me understand the situation, so that I can reassure a nervous Citadel.”

Tarku gave a light laugh. “Good, let’s dispense with the niceties. I am somewhat past them. Do you smoke?” she asked, and without waiting for a response pulled a silver cigarette case from her case and in a deft motion pulled one, put it to her lips, and lit it. “I quit smoking twenty years ago. I started again on August 9. I’ll ring for a bottle of wine.”

“Only the occasional Esperi cigar. A nasty habit I picked up from Sir Albert, one of our former Chancellors.” Sir Derek smiled slightly. “A bottle of wine sounds… appropriate.”

She paused, taking a drag on her cigarette, a light, sweet, Xirniumite blend. “I was not in the army but I can be direct as well. The situation is both unstable and rapidly evolving. So far, there is a lack of serious bloodshed aside from some low-level fighting in the provinces. I am convinced that this is the prelude to wider struggles, until the main contenders for the Chancellery consolidate their positions and prepare to move against each other. It is essential the Emperor understands that at this stage it is a struggle for the state, it is a struggle for control of Snefaldia as it currently exists. Of course, we all thought the Lord Chancellor was in top health, and if he had appointed a deputy this wouldn’t have happened. I am told he planned to, and made arrangements for it, but he either never did or those plans were… well, who knows.”

She fell silent at the sommelier entered, pouring a glass for she and Sir Derek, took a sip, nodded in assent, and then continued. “I won’t presume to go over intelligence information with you because I know your government knows the general situation well enough. At the moment, it’s a question of whether Lord Admiral Ta’us or Field Marshal Vinselmo-Ryme will come out on top. Then, it’s General Zannanza. After that, it will be over.”

The Excalbian sat back for a moment sipping his wine. He had not expected Tarku to be so… forthcoming. “I appreciate your frankness, Ambassador,” he said after a moment. “So, it is inevitable, then, that it will be another… military government? And, if I might push my luck, in your estimation, who has the upper hand?”

She smiled thinly, taking a drag on her cigarette. “I’m not sure what you mean by military government. The Lord Chancellor is duly elected by the Supreme Council and confirmed by the National Snefaldian Bel, who in turn are elected in a popular vote. Of course, that is the system as it was constructed. Even the toilets in the Emperor’s palace occasionally get clogged, I’m sure.” she said with a bitter laugh. “At the moment? No one. The Lord Admiral technically controls this capital, in the sense that both his forces and Zannaza’s have prevented the Field Marshal from seizing it entirely. Ta’us hasn’t made any efforts to force the situation. I think he is waiting for Vinselmo-Ryme to move and make an error, like he did in not following up his attempts earlier this month with a more forceful move. But I am not a military woman.”

Sir Derek smirked at the toilet comment. He knew that the Emperor had been a Navy man, like him, and he knew what could happen to toilets on a ship at sea. “I see.” He paused and sipped his wine. “So, is a… peaceful accommodation between the two a realistic possibility? We have, of course, no desire to intervene in Snefaldian domestic affairs. And to be honest, I doubt we have the capacity to do so if we desired it. However, we are, as I said, very interested in avoiding… instability. Especially instability that could spread and destabilize the region.”

“I am a diplomat. I always hold out the hope of peace. But I am also a realist, and realistically, the only way this will end is with Sygme Vinselmo-Ryme as Chancellor, or dead.” she said flatly. “I will not say which outcome I prefer. I will say, though, that the concern should not be for violence spilling over the border, but rather being influenced from outside. I know that I and many others in government are deeply concerned about both the Daytan and Anahuac governments, with whom we have not historically seen eye to eye. The Anahuac border is a literal minefield. They may take the opportunity to, I don’t know, settle old scores or ‘spread the revolution’ or whatever it is communists believe in.”

“I can understand your concern, Madame.” Sir Derek set his glass down. “As you know, we have recently come to an… arrangement with Anahuac. We have built a positive relationship with them, and while we would not presume to vouch for another government, we do not believe that Anahuac will attempt to reopen old wounds with Snefaldia at this time. Daytanistan, however, is quite another matter. Since the Ostmark Crisis, we have had serious concerns about Daytan intentions in the regions. And we would not be surprised to see them try to exploit your current problems.”

Tarku shrugged, lighting another cigarette. “I don’t doubt your analysis. But my mother always told me, even if you know the road is closed, always look both ways before you cross. Anahuac is still a strategic threat. I’m sure you still have plans for invading Upper Virginia, even if they are a bit dusty. I want to reassure you, and his Majesty, that there is still a state, still a government, and still a States-Federation. We still collect taxes, print stamps, and sing the national anthem. And we are nowhere near the bloodshed and recriminations of eight years ago when Hantili swept through the government.”

“Points well-taken, Madame,” Sir Derek picked up his glass. “However, I hope you can understand our concern that with generals and admirals facing off against each other in a battle for power that unfortunate history might repeat itself. And that the bloodshed, so far avoided, may be on the horizon.” He sipped the wine. “As I said, we have no desire or intention to intervene in your affairs. However, we would like to see an outcome that is peaceful and that promotes stability.”

“I’ll drink to that.” Tarku said with a somewhat mordant grin, lifting her glass. “To peace and stability. And the will to see them done.”

“To peace and stability,” Sir Derek agreed.

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The Resurgent Dream
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Left-Leaning College State

Postby The Resurgent Dream » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:46 pm

(Joint post with Excalbia)

Unlike some online simulations, world leaders do not typically pick up a phone and call their counterparts. Such calls are planned, scripted, and scheduled. Staff place the calls on secure lines from one capital and they are answered by staff on secure lines in the other. Only once the call is “live” and secure and the principals are in place do the calls ring through to the respective leaders. Then, they pick up the phone and act as if they simply picked it up and dialed the number themselves.

In the Chancellor’s spacious office overlooking Sweyn Castle, Baron Dainis Murniece sat behind his desk reviewing briefing papers and waiting for the phone to ring. To his right, sat his Chief of Staff, Henry Iskelene, and his left, his foreign policy advisor from the Ministry of State, Tanya Albrook.

After a few minutes, the phone rang. The Chancellor picked up the phone. “Your Excellency,” he said into the phone, “a pleasure to speak with you. Although I regret that our first conversation has to come over such a.. difficult situation.”

Depreux sat at his desk, surrounded by his own principal advisers, as he waited for the light indicating the call was actually going through to the Chancellor. He lifted the phone, heard it ring once or twice just as if he’d placed a normal call, and then heard the Chancellor’s greeting. “Andrė, please,” the Prime Minister insisted with the affected familiarity almost every Caldan prime minister used with the leaders of close allies. “It is a potentially dangerous situation. The region can’t afford for Snefaldia to just collapse.”

“We agree completely, André,” the Chancellor said, “and, please, call me Dainis. The collapse of Snefaldia or a descent into violence could destabilize the entire region, with implications for Zamimbia, Anahuac, Sabaristan, Daytanistan, and on and on. The question is what can we do to help the situation. The last thing we can afford is a misstep that would exacerbate things.”

“Fairly little, Dainis” Depruex admitted. “I think the situation calls for restraint. I’ve ordered our people to shelter as many refugees as we can but ultimately the thinking here is that the best role for the major regional powers is, at least initially, to mediate talks between the factions with the hope that they might agree to settle matters at the ballot box instead of the battlefield. I also think we have to be careful about all of the nuclear materials in play.”

“That’s in line with our thinking.” Baron Dainis looked at his foreign policy advisor who nodded. “We have asked our Ambassador in Sargedain to speak with the Foreign Minister or Ambassador Tarku, who seem to be holding together the day-to-day operations of government at the moment, to get a better feel for what’s going on and to begin probing for a way forward. Have you had the opportunity to initiate any other discussion on the crisis? With either the Snefaldians themselves or our other regional allies?”

“You’re our first call,” Depreux said. “I’ve issued instructions to our ambassadors but I’m hoping to speak with the other leaders of the major powers and I’ve asked my foreign minister, Kate Mandelson, to call the rest. This just strikes me as the sort of thing that calls for a steady hand from the highest levels, especially since we are still formulating policy, at least on this end. This government wouldn’t consider a mere courtesy call after a decision had been reached in keeping with our treaty obligation to consult.”

Baron Dainis raised an eyebrow. “I understand, André, and you’re our first consultation as well. I do plan to speak directly with the Noel Hoogaboom in Anahuac. Now is not the time to settle old scores. I’m sure they Anahuacans understand that, but, as you said, conversation and a steady hand at the top can make for a huge difference.” He paused. “May I ask how you plan to approach Knootoss and Pantocratoria? Both have been… disengaged from regional affairs recently. And they’re dealing with their own domestic issues.”

“With Knootoss, I think it’s important to emphasize our multilateral commitments, now more than a decade old, in the establishment of which the Knootians played such a large role,” Depreux answered. “We might also stress how the regional community united to reach a resolution in Epheron.” He glanced over at his advisers. They had suggested he not make that point too bluntly. “The Pantocratorians, I think, are largely given over to local affairs but the new government has thus far not sought to break with any of their pre-existing commitments. Anahuac is the only nation I’m really worried about straining to intervene. I’m more concerned about how to make sure atomic weapons don’t get into the hands of rogue elements without overtly intervening.”

“That will be the challenge,” the Chancellor agreed. “We’re hoping that our Ambassador will have some insights for us shortly. And we will certainly share whatever information he had with you and your government.” He paused. “For the moment, our best hope of keeping the nuclear weapons out of dangerous hands is to keep pushing for the various factions to come to a peaceful accord. If that fails. Well, then, we might not collectively consider a more forward-leaning approach.”

“The Chiefs of Staff Committee has also suggested we try to track the material as best we can,” Depreux added. “It should be possible to do much of it from orbit if the satellites are appropriately tasked, combined with other intelligence methods low impact enough not to create additional difficulties.”

“We have been considering a similar approach, including possibly using our sub-orbital hypersonic aircraft to supplement our satellite tracking. Would you consider pooling resources in this regard?”

“We would,” Depreux answered directly.

“Should we direct our respective military commands to begin coordinating our surveillance efforts? And, if we can persuade the other powers to work with us, should we convene a meeting of our foreign ministers to better coordinate our efforts?”

“I want to be confident there’d be no unwelcome surprises first,” Depreux said. Despite how exhaustively most nations prepared for such meetings, there was often a surprise or two and he was well aware of how the Epheronian deal had caught his predecessor off guard. “If such a meeting became unexpectedly divisive, it could just worsen the situation. But, yes, I’ll direct the RCIC to coordinate with your military and intelligence people.”

“Very well,” Baron Dainis said. “I can understand your concerns about a repetition of the Epheronian Conference. Let’s begin by coordinating our military and intelligence efforts and consulting with our other allies. If Knootoss and/or Pantocratoria agree to rouse themselves and join our efforts, perhaps we can reconsider a meeting on smaller scale: just us and the Knootians and Pantocratorians. But that is a step or two ahead of where we are now I think.”

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Uncle Noel
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Uncle Noel » Thu Aug 29, 2019 5:17 am

Itztlan, Socialist People's Fiefdom of Anahuac

Itztlaners were used to not being told the whole story, or even some of it, which is why so many of them took German at High School so they could understand the Brasland TV that the Party seemed perpetually unable to completely block.

They also had a fair understanding of the various worth of their supposedly independent institutions. On this warm August night the great ministeries of state, the Staatsraad, the Volkskamer; all sat shuttered and locked. Across Lake Acapan, however, the Ayotochco Palace, headquarters of the party, blazed with a thousand lights.. Those brave or foolish enough to venture on an evening walk could hear the drum of a fleet of helicopters, the streets empty except for Ljubljana limousines that raced across the cobbled streets of the old town. Few got that far however. No order had been given, the evening edition of the Waarheid had made no reference, but the ever circling patrols of the Volkspolisiediens made it clear to all that this was a night to stay indoors.

The politburo did not meet in its usual room but within a specialist command and control room deep within the bowels of the palace where the hive of activity could not quite mask the smell of damp. The local team, Spode and Reikenau, stared from portraits at one end of the room. Lenin, Marx and Engels from the other. If paintings could move there would have been a gang fight.

Hoogaboom took a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed his forehead. Even with the filtered and chilled air he felt like he was boiling up. Around him the politburo talked to him, to each and sometimes to themselves in a constant wall of noise.

Mustering his strength he raised up his hand and smacked down onto the wooden table. “Enough,” he said, “enough. If we bicker like children then we’ll end up like Naramsin, shot on his own lawn.” There was an exchange of anxious glances. Gainas, who was clearly wearing a suit jacket over the top of his pajamas, spoke first. “Who’s in charge?”

The question applied as much to the politburo as to Snefaldia but all eyes turned to Indiemurr, head of the VKS, who looked very small and very old now that he hadn’t had a chance to prepare his appearance. He gave an anguished shrug. “It is difficult to say. The situation has a number of moving parts.”

The agitated murmur broke out again. Spode, who had been the last to arrive as the VKS had toured the homes of his various mistresses, spoke above the crowd. “Who the hell has the nukes?” The margaritas he had drunk helped to mask the fear in his voice.

Hoogaboom shuffled the papers before him. No one else in the room knew that these were actually pig iron production figures. “We have reason to believe that some semblance of the central government is still in control of the strategic forces but, as Comrade Indiemurr hints, it is a fluid situation.”

Sisberta Boch, People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, folded her arms. “How,” she said, speaking for the rest of the committee, “Have we ended up like this? You’re,” she motioned towards Indiemurr, “the intelligence. How the hell did we not know this was about to happen? How have we been left so unprepared.” Grunts of approval erupted from the throats of the party elders.

The VKS man shifted in his chair. “It’s not as easy as that,” he said, wringing his hands, “The Junta is, was, a closed shop. Getting information out has always been a challenge. In my experience these things tend to fall apart very quickly and all at once. Maneuvering in the Supreme Council is nothing new and, with respect comrades, people fall ill all the time. The Caldan Prime Minister could slip and bang their head and,” he clicked his fingers, “Could be dead like that. The Excalbian Emperor could have an aneurysm. These things occur. I think what we failed to realise how necessary Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè was.”

He leaned back in his chair and the flickering embers of his old confidence began to be seen. “I’ll be honest, I had expected such a state of affairs, but I expected it at some point over the next five to seven years, not now. And I certainly didn’t expect it to fall apart so quickly.”

“Well I suppose it goes to show,” said Mathias Tlacualchihua, the Deputy General Secretary with a smile, “That it was all idle boasting during the Zamimbia Incident of the inevitability of, you know, Snefaldian Hegemony.”

Spode rose, somewhat unsteadily, to his feet. “Well I’m glad that this has been an interesting philosophical musing for you, comrade,” the word dripped with derision, “But rather than focus on the past some of us are trying to prevent our country from being blasted into a wall.”

“Now wait a minute I didn’t mean that,” said Tlacualchihua, rising to his feet. Around him the shouting started.

“Enough,” said Hoogaboom, smacking the table again, “Enough you damned fools, you dogs, what have I told you about unpleasantness in the war room?” He cast a hard eye around the room. “How we got here is a question for another day. The question now is the same question as always.” He raised his eyes, almost involuntarily, and looked at the portrait of Lenin on the whitewashed wall. “What is to be done?”

The politburo looked about themselves. Nothing was immediately forthcoming. Eventually Oostmal, who was not formally a member of the politburo but no one seemed to have noticed this, spoke. “We need to put our forces on alert, especially on the Mallen front.”

The head of the League of Constitutional Socialist Youth of Anahuac nervously stroked his beard. “Isn’t that a bit, you know, provocative?”

“We have to send a message,” said Boch, “This Márkës Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè…”
“Šygmë,” interrupted Indiemurr.
“What?”
“It’s Šygmë. Márkës is the dead one, or as good as. Šygmë is the brother.”
“Well yes, Šygmë. He may be tempted to secure the throne by doing his bit as the all-conquering hero. It’s not unknown for someone to use a foreign crisis to consolidate their position at home.” All eyes, with the exception of Spode who was wondering why he had no phone signal, turned to the portrait of Reikenau. It was Spode who spoke next, returning his phone to his pocket with a look of resignation.

“And that’s it?” he asked condescendingly, “We’ll just put our forces on alert and hope for the best?”

Bulgar Voss, the People’s Commissar for Justice, had long considered himself the ideological backbone of the politburo. To his admirers he was rigid and undeviating like a mighty oak. To his critics he was a crank. “Don’t you see,” he said, a glint in his eyes akin to a crusader about to retake Jerusalem from the Saracens, “This is our opportunity we have been waiting for. The workers and peasants in Snefaldia are rising up and casting off the vampiric hand of the bourgeoisie. We must help them, we have nothing to lose but their chains.”

Gainas shifted in his chair. “The Excalbians would take a dim view of us destabilising the situation.”

“With respect, Comrade Gainas, who determines the people’s foreign policy? Is it the Emperor of Excalbia or dialectical matieralism? What use are we as a vanguard of the proletariat if we don’t aid our brothers and sisters in their class war?”

Boch gave a curt nod. “He has a point. Our alliance with Excalbia was to counter Snefaldia. If Snefaldia was more friendly then what need would we have for the Excalbians? They would have served their purpose.” There was a murmur of approval around the table.

Oostmal visibly bristled. “We have made a series of binding commitments to the Excalbians. To renege on those would be, well, it would impugn the nation’s honour.”

Voss gave a shrug. “What does honour have to do with anything? You forget, Comrade, that the Excalbians are are enemies in the class struggle. Now I’ll admit that I had reservations when rapprochement was first discussed but I realise that there have been some benefits, but we owe the Excalbians nothing. Nothing at all. Our obligation to the worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat outweighs any mere treaty terms.”

“With, er, with the greatest of respect comrade, we are assuming that the nascent movement in Snefaldia will succeed,” said Stohlfel Amal, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, with a half-smile. His reply was a dismissive sweep of the hand.
“The Revolution is inevitable,” said Voss, “Historical matieralism teaches that.”

Again Amal smiled. “Yes but just because it is inevitable in the arc of history doesn’t mean it will be inevitable now.”

The General Secretary nodded. “This is a good point. We may have need of the Excalbians if this Šygmë, this stripling, wins out.”

“Not just the younger Vinsëłmø-Ŕymè,” said Indiemurr with a solemn nod, “A number of actors might paint themselves as liberators of the Mallen lands if it aids their cause.”

“Well quite. Well, then, this is what we will do. I will speak to the Excalbians, I have not spoken with their new Prime Minister or Chancellor or whatever he styles himself,” the General Secretary moved the Pig Iron figures authoritatively, “And keep them onside. We still have use of them at least for the foreseeable future. You,” he pointed at Indiemurr, “Have notes on those whom we have kept close to our fraternal bosom, some of whom have already crossed the border, but we presumably still have some of the leaders here. Talk with them, see what we want and what we can give them. Take Voss with you.”

Voss awkwardly straightened his tie. “Well with respect Comrade my responsibility is Justice, I’m not sure whether that quite fits my role.”

There was a less than warm smile on Hoogaboom’s face. “Yes but, as you have said Comrade, our highest loyalty is to the revolution. We should not let mere paper titles stand in the way of that.”

“Well I, er, I suppose so.”
Last edited by Uncle Noel on Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Zamimbia
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Founded: Nov 11, 2011
Ex-Nation

Postby Zamimbia » Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:27 pm

New Hope, Zamimbia

In many ways, the New Excalbia Conference had brought a sea-change to Zamimbia. First off, the former Republic of Zamimbia had become the Federal Republic of Zamimbia with four new semi-autonomous states representing the three major ethnic groups - the Buta, the Nalu and the Hansa - and the cosmopolitan coastal cities sharing power with the now-limited national government. An even bigger change had been the secession of the Boer-majority Southwestern Province and its incorporation into South Epheron, and the reciprocal incorporation of South Epheron’s former so-called tribal areas into Zamimbia.

The changes had come with a host of challenges, both expected and unanticipated. The loss of the rich agricultural production of the Boer lands hit the nation’s GDP harder than expected. The joint Zamimbian-South Epheronian patrols of the land corridors connecting Zamimbia to its new enclaves were often marred by tension, and occasionally by violence between the so-called officers of the peace. While the creation of the new states promised to bring government closer to the people and give communities more say over their own affairs, it also opened new avenues for corruption. However, it did bring Zamimbia a rare democratically elected government and a flood of international assistance, which was mostly used for legitimate purposes. The military and police were reorganized with an emphasis on human rights training. And, perhaps most surprisingly of all, the exodus of black South Epheronians claiming their right to Zamimbian citizenship brought with them skills, work experience and resources - both in the form of their life savings and in the form of Knootian resettlement assistance. As a result, the economy was booming, particularly in the urbanized coastal areas.

For a brief, shining moment the Zamimbian leadership was filled with hope. Then, news began to seep out about a growing chaos in Snefaldia. And given Snefaldia’s prominent role among the international peacekeepers in Zamimbia and its on-going competition with Anahuac, which also had a growing presence in Zamimbia, fate again seemed to be turning against the nation.

President Ricards Abiwole tried to shake those dark thoughts from his mind by rising from his desk and strolling over to his window. He had relocated the Presidential Palace from the palatial mansion his predecessors had used outside the city to the - slightly - more modest structure in the center of the city that had been used by the old Excalbian colonial governors. Seeing cranes rising above the skyline and the hustle and bustle of thriving commerce gave the worried president some sense of renewed hope.

Abiwole breathed in deeply and turned back to his foreign policy and national security advisors. Walter van Beek, one of the few prominent Boers who elected to stay in Zamimbia, folded his hands behind his back and sighed. He turned and looked at Wale Obadi, the new civilian Minister of Defence and Public Safety. Obadai wrung his hands and looked to Field Marshal Moses Gowon, Amupanda’s hand-picked successor as Chief of the General Staff.

After trading worried looks, it was van Beek who spoke first. “There isn’t really anything we can do, Mr. President. We have no real influence with Snefaldia or any of the emerging factions. Or any way to gain leverage. The great powers are stirring…”

“So, we wait for the Excalbians or the Caldans or the Knootians to decide that they should give a care for poor, little Zamimbia and swoop in to save us?” Obadi said, sounding half angry and half distraught. “And meanwhile, what if Anahuac tries to take advantage of the situation? Or if one of the Snefaldian generals decides to stake his claim to power by defeating the communists on their borders? And their soldiers here - in our territory! - turn on each other? What do we do then? Duck behind our desks until some other foreigners ride to our rescue?”

“Of course not, Wale,” van Beek said exasperated. “We can employ diplomatic channels. We can talk. We can plan. But what else can we do? Can we invade Snefaldia? Could we even expel their soldiers - or Anahuacs - if they refuse to go if asked?”

Field Marshal Gowon shook his head. “If we raise so much as a pistol in anger against any of the international peacekeepers, we have already lost. None of them are the overfed bullyboys of the South Epheron Defence Forces with whom we can spare until the Knootians separate us. They are real armies.” The Field Marshal looked at Abiwole. “We are barely more than a paramilitary police force. Much better trained and better equipped than before, perhaps, but we have neither the manpower nor the weapons to challenge any foreign power…”

“As you said, Moses,” the President began, “if we end up in a fight with anyone, we’ve already lost the battle.”

Gowon nodded.

“So,” Abiwole continued, “we need to think and negotiate our way out of this, rather than fight. Or plot.”

“Mbala?” Gowon asked.

The President nodded. “We all know he is on the payroll of the Anahuacan Embassy. Just as Cibane is on that of the Snefaldian Embassy. And,” he gave a bitter smile, “that Shagari in Sakoto collects from both.”

“Cibane and Shagari are only governors,” van Beek said bleakly, “but Mbala is your Prime Minister.”

“And so he is. Suggestions?”

“In the old days, we could shoot him,” Gowon said with a chuckle.

“Field Marshal!” van Beek exclaimed, turning red.

“Just a joke, Walter,” Gowon chuckled again. “I’ve never shot anyone. Personally.”

Abiwole shook his head. “Joke or not, we can’t do anything about Mbala. His party won a fair election and he’s the constitutional Prime Minister of Zamimbia.”

“I’ve known Abarran a long time,” Obadi said, still wringing his hands. “He has his… weaknesses. But he does love his country. And he wants, more than anything, to be at the table and to have the Buta at the table.”

“Perhaps we can use that,” Abiwole said. “Can you speak with him, Wale? Maybe he can use his connections to the Anahuacans to our benefit. Find out their intentions. Persuade them that it does nothing to advance their cause to bring their conflicts with Snefaldia to Zamimbia.”

“Me?”

“Yes. As President I can’t acknowledge that I know he is in bed with the Anahuacan Ambassador. But as a colleague, you can.”

Obadi nodded. “I will.”

“Good. And,” he turned to his Foreign Minister, “Walter, you need to talk to the Snefaldians. See if their Amassador can tell us anything about what’s going on. Feel him out for how this might impact their activities here.” van Beek nodded. “And I think I should talk with the Ambassadors of the other powers. Just to remind them that ‘poor, little Zamimbia’ might be caught in the crossfire between Snefaldia and Anahuac, if they’re not careful to control the situation.”

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Excalbia
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Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Excalbia » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:33 pm

Citadel Excalbia, Excalbia

Baron Dainis Murniece entered his office with a cup of coffee in one hand and a notebook in the other to find his Chief of Staff and senior foreign policy advisor waiting for him. Both Henry Iskelene, a thin, wiry man in his early forties with round spectacles, and Tanya Albrook, a broad shouldered woman in her thirties, stood as the Imperial Chancellor entered.

“We’re almost ready for your call to Anahuac,” Iskelene said as he came alongside the Chancellor and followed him to his desk. “I believe that you’ll be speaking with Chairman Hoogaboom himself.”

“Uncle Noel himself,” Murniece said as he took his seat.

“Please don’t call him that, Your Excellency,” Albrook said with a smile.

Murniece chuckled. “So, Tanya, do we trust Hoogaboom?”

“The Emperor likes him,” Iskelene answered the question unbidden. “For whatever reason.”

“I suspect it has something to do with projecting a gruff, direct manner,” Murniece said. “Lady Ashley and Lady Christina both told me the Emperor is… disposed to like such fellows.”

“I suspect it also has something to do with Prince James being smitten with the Chairman’s granddaughter,” the Chief of Staff added.

Murniece nodded and turned back to Albrook. “But I posed the question to you, Tanya.”

Albrook shrugged. “Certainly the Ministry’s confidence in Anahuac’s - and Chairman Hoogaboom’s - reliability suffered after they pulled out of the Zamimbia Conference before asking to be let back in.” The Chancellor nodded. “We consider Anahuac a country torn between reality and ideology. Realistically, they are in a weaker position vis a vis Snefaldia, despite the current situation. They desperately need allies to counterbalance the Snefaldians and, to be frank, of the major powers we’re the only interested in working with them. The Knootians are still phobic of communism. Pantocratoria, especially under the current government, wouldn’t give Anahuac the time of day. And the Caldan Union remains,” she paused, weighing her words, “cautious in its international dealings, as it has been since Iesus Christi. That leaves us. So, logicially, Anahuac should be trying to do everything to pursue a partnership with us…”

“But?”

Albrook smiled. “But, they are still communists. And the siren call of ideological purity gets in the way from time-to-time, as it did in Zamimbia…”

The Chancellor’s phone buzzed. He hit the handsfree button. “Yes?”

“Your Excellency,” a voice said from the phone, “we have your call to Anahuac standing by.”

“Put it through, please.”

Whilst he waited for the line to connect Hoogaboom tipped the contents of his pipe into an ashtray. He leant across his desk to a box and picked from it an Esperi cigar. “When I speak to the Excalbians,” he said, striking a match, “I like to smoke an Excalbian cigar. Did I tell you that the Emperor of Excalbia gave these to me himself?”

“Well I was there,” said Oostmal checking his watch. The General Secretary frowned.
“I know you were there,” he snapped, “But she wasn’t.”

Tlazohtzin Acahualli, deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, gave as neutral a smile as she could. “I believe I have heard you say so Comrade General Secretary.”

Hoogaboom frowned again. “Humph. Well perhaps soon it will be Snefaldian tobacco in my pipe!”

The line clicked.

“Hello? Hello? Is that…” the General Secretary checked his notes, “Is it Baron Dainis or Lord Murniece? I have not yet had a chance to congratulate you on your election and your ascension to the office you now hold. I had hoped to be able to speak to you sooner but I have been busy with preparations for the upcoming Party Congress where, I hope, the Central Committee with nominate me as General Secretary for another five years.” He smiled even though it was a foregone conclusion. “But events have a habit of getting in the way. Snefaldia.” He left the word hanging in the air.

“Please, call me Dainis, Mr. General Secretary,” Baron Dainis began. “Thank you for your congratulations. May I wish you success in your own Party Congress?” He shrugged at his Chief of Staff’s frown. “And, yes, events do have a way of changing our best-laid plans. And today it is Snefaldia that is… the center of attention, shall we say.”

The Chancellor shifted in his seat. “I’m sure you’re following events there closely, as are we. We are hoping that stability can be maintained in the region. We understand that matters are still somewhat sensitive and we hope that violence can be avoided. We are concerned that the… instability could spread beyond Snefaldia’s borders.” He drew in a breath. “And to that end we want to consult with all of our partners in the region. We believe that a united front will best ensure the peace and stability of the region.”

“One thing is for certain, this isn’t Zamimbia,” Hoogaboom replied, “Where a certain heady exuberance allowed for a momentary desire to seize the entire prize. But Zamimbia is, I am afraid to say and as we all know, used to being the playground of competing interests. Snefaldia is a major power, perhaps in a few short years she will be a superpower, so the fall of her government is not the same as a few avaricious generals squabbling over the bones of Epheron.”

The General Secretary took a puff on the cigar. “To that end let me first begin by saying that the armed forces of the Socialist People’s Fiefdom have no intent to intervene directly in Snefaldia, either through an attack on the Mallen front or through some other avenue. The fact is, Baron Dainis, that the Volksweermag lacks the immediate capacity for major ground offences...don’t scowl at me Oostmal, it’s true...and is primarily defensive in nature. We have heightened the readiness of our forces in the Mallen sector in case a Snefaldian actor attempts their own advance but I can assure His Imperial Majesty’s Government that we have no intention to, as you say, ‘try our luck’ whilst our neighbour is momentarily distracted.”

The Chancellor, safely out of view, raised an eyebrow and glanced at Albrook, who made some notes and nodded. “I sincerely appreciate your assurances, Your Excellency,” he said after a moment. “And I can tell you, Sir, that we have no intention of intervening directly in Snefaldia’s domestic affairs. However, allow me to also offer my assurances, on behalf of His Imperial Majesty’s Government, that should… any of the competing parties in Snefaldia seek to bolster their domestic positions through foreign adventurism, the Holy Empire will stand by all its commitments.” He paused as it was this Albrook’s eyebrows that rose this time. “Of course, let us hope it doesn’t come to that, Sir.

“Beyond maintaining a defensive posture, might I ask what steps you believe to be reasonable to maintain the peace and stability of the region? What we, collectively, might be able to do?”

The General Secretary thought for a moment. “For the time being our options are limited. We are in the preliminary stages of a great conflict, it seems to me, so until it reaches a certain intensity there is not much we can do other than to prepare. With that in mind it may be worthwhile if our respective intelligence agencies pool their efforts so that a clearer picture of the scene might emerge. That isn’t to say, of course, that the effectiveness of the Excalbian Foreign Intelligence service is to be questioned, merely that..well...we have had greater experience in spying on Snefaldia over many decades and may have assets that would be of use to you. That should hopefully prevent seemingly important events from being missed.”

In the office, Oostmal gave a strategic cough. “Oh yes,” Hoogaboom, “My colleague Theodoric was saying before...well perhaps it is easier if he tells you himself.” With that the General Secretary leaned forward and placed the telephone on loudspeaker.

“Oh,” exclaimed Oostmal in surprise, since clearly he had not expected this. Next to him Acahualli widened her eyes in shock. “Oh, er, forgive me. Hello Baron Dainis. This is Oostmal, the People’s Commissar for Defence. I don’t mean to, er, intrude on a conversation between heads of government, but I was merely saying to the Comrade General Secretary whilst he was waiting for the call to connect that it seems to me that the greatest risk of a confrontation might not be in Snefaldia herself, or on her borders, but at sea.”

Hoogaboom interjected. “It’s this..” he paused as he raised the sheet of paper before him to his face, “Ta’us Rata’a, this here hoë admiraal, who might pose the first challenge to the region.”

“Indeed. What I meant,” explained Oostmal, “Is that Rata’a has almost complete control of the navy but only a smaller number of land-based units. Perhaps this is an old navy man talking but it seems to me that his options for maneuver are quite limited; I would certainly doubt his ability to project significant force inland.”

“Though he may, perhaps should, be able to hold the ports,” interrupted the General Secretary again.

“Well quite. And so I just posed the question sir, what would you do in his position? Personally, if I was the Lord Admiral, the only significant option that would seem open to me would be a blockade.”

“Vinselmo-Ryme the Younger,” said Hoogaboom, “May have the majority of the army, but what use is a motorised army without fuel? He may hold the capital, but what use is it if he cannot feed the populous. Thirty or forty years ago Snefaldia may have been able to endure such a period of hardship but her integrated economy and swift industrialisation makes her weak to a sustained period of shortage. Starving out his competitors may be Rata’a’s only viable long term option.”

“And needless to say, Baron Dainis,” the Admiral replied, “Such a blockade would pose a serious challenge to the openness of the shipping lanes of the region, and might embolden a future Snefaldian regime, of any stripe, to do so again in future if such a move was not challenged now.”

“The military exercises proposed for the coming months,” said Hoogaboom finally, “Must proceed. To cancel or postpone would send the wrong message to the competing parties. We….no, actually, not we. If we were to make any pronouncement it would only exacerbate the situation. Excalbia, perhaps with Caldan if you can, should issue a statement that states that the territorial integrity of all Snefaldia’s neighbours is to be maintained.
And then we, as the two other powers in the Avar Sea, might announce joint patrols in order to keep open international shipping routes. We need not mention Snefaldia by name or the current situation. There is always a risk of piracy, or the scourge of drug-trafficking, that can be sited instead. But it sends a message that threats to international trade will not be tolerated.”

The General Secretary leaned forward to disengage the speakerphone. As he did Oostmal quickly spoke. “As a final point, Baron Dainis, we might want to prepare a joint summary of Snefaldia’s strategic assets. We know that the Army clique have the strategic force under lockdown but we have no reason to believe that uSnefaldia doesn’t maintain a nuclear triad. That means that Ta’us Rata’a probably has access to strategic assets but it would be good to know what exactly he has. And it would also be helpful to know who does, or doesn’t, have control over the air force’s atomic weapons. We know that Tuliak has fled to Aerion but who is in command now? That might pose the greatest danger. I mean, a silo is a silo, we know where they are. And ballistic submarines can be monitored but strategic bombers and their attendant munitions could be dispersed throughout the country, and in the absence of a centralised command more easily become lost in the fog of war.”

Baron Dainis frowned slightly and looked towards his advisers. He swallowed, then spoke. "I think intelligence sharing is an excellent idea. I'll ask Admiral Norland, our chief of intelligence, to arrange things directly with your services."

The Chancellor paused briefly. "And we're can certainly explore a joint statement on territorial integrity in the region with the Caldan Union and other allies. Not only would we want to discourage Snefaldian… adventurism, but also discourage, for instance, Daytanistan, from taking advantage of the moment as if did during the Ostmark Crisis…" Albrook shook her head and the Chancellor let his thought trail off.

"As for naval exercises and joint patrols, I agree that we should continue as normal for the moment, but should keep a close eye on things. Let me suggest that Lord Admiral Turlais speak directly with Admiral Oostmal on the details. I think more than ever our general staffs should we working in concert, perhaps with direct link between our command centers. "

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The Resurgent Dream
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Founded: Aug 22, 2004
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Postby The Resurgent Dream » Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:07 pm

Ministry of State, Citadel Excalbia, Excalbia

Baroness Vivian Bodniece, like all her predecessors, had put her own stamp on her office on the 8th floor of the Ministry of State. Lady Christina’s modernist furninishings and bold colors had been replaced with overstuffed chairs and sofas covered in pastel colors and flowery prints.

As had become her custom, the Baroness sat in a chair next to the fireplace overlooking the city while her staff sat around her. The new Deputy Minister, Dr. Frank Ginkel sat in a chair to her left, while Caldan Affairs Director Alexander Daugavins and more junior staff sat across from her on the sofa.

The Minister quietly consulted her notes, typed in a large font on index cards, until the phone on the small table next to her chair rang. She picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Your Excellency,” a voice said on the phone, “ this is State Ops. We have the Caldan Foreign Minister. Connecting you now.”

“Thank you,” the Baroness said quickly. Then, after a click, she said, “Hello? This is Baroness Vivian Bodniece.”

Kate Mandelson sat behind the Minister’s Desk in Perrin Hall, one of the series of elegant, Gothic Revival buildings lining St. Andrew’s Park between the Palace and Parliament. Standing behind her were her Permanent Secretary, Tim Dalton; her Director for Western Atlantic Affairs, Sam Evans; his Deputy Director for Excalbia, Roland Feynman, and Deputy Director for Snefaldia, Aisha Evans. “Your Ladyship,” she began as she picked up the phone, “thank you for calling.”

"Thank you for receiving my call, Your Excellency," the Baroness began. "Chancellor Murniece and I are committed to honoring our treaty obligations in spirit as well as in word.”

“Please, Kate,” Mandelson interjected.

"For that reason he wanted me to inform you of his phone call with General Secretary Hoogaboom in Anahuac. The General Secretary pledged cooperation with Excalbia in the current crisis, and assured the Chancellor that Anahuac has no intentions to violate Snefaldian borders to take advantage of the situation. Rather, he was most concerned about one of the competing parties in Snefaldia looking to burnish their credentials through military adventure and urged a statement from us - and the Caldan Union - on territorial integrity and the such." The Minister paused to allow her counterpart time to reply.

“That’s wonderful news!” Mandelson said and slight slip to her diplomatic calm made clear that it was both unexpected and extremely welcome. “We would be happy to, of course!” It was not something she needed to discuss with the Prime Minister first, or, more accurately, as in all but the trivial of such cases, something she already had discussed with him.

“Oh, very good,” the Baroness said. “We shall draft up some language and have our Embassy convey it to you for your review.” She paused and consulted her notes.

“Additionally, the Anahuacan government was most concerned about one Snefaldian faction having near total control of her navy and the possibility that, should internal conflict erupt the Snefaldian navy might seek to disrupt trade and shipping as part of its campaign against other factions. To preclude such a threat, the Anahuacans are urging that we proceed with planned joint naval exercises and patrols. At this point we’re inclined to proceed as planned, but will monitor developments closely. However, we do wish to know your government’s perspective.”

“I think joint patrols would be best,” Mandelson said, remembering past nonintervention arrangements when some powers had patrolled the section of a nation’s coasts held by their allies and had simply supplied them. “We’d certainly be fully cooperative with that. Have you discussed this with any other governments?”

Baroness Vivian smiled. “We would most eager accept Caldan participation in joint naval patrols. I shall ask our military commanders to raise it with your general staff in their discussions.” Her smile faded slightly. “As of yet, thus far we have spoken only with your government and that of Anahuac. We hope to speak with the Knootians, but it seems rather difficult these days to get on their schedule. And one never knows about Pantocratoria. Of course, we would like to speak with their government directly, but I fear may have to settle for communicating through our Embassy in New Rome. Has your government been able to speak with any of the other major powers, Your… er, Kate?”

“The Lanerians and the Kasakians are also supportive of nonintervention,” she said. “Tehua and Marlund are waryer but I think they’ll feel better once they learn Anahuac is onboard”

“That’s very good to hear,” the Minister said. “I’m certain that the Confederation and Upper Virginia will agree to our approach. And, of course, Ajuba will act in concert with us on foreign policy.” She paused. “The one area of concern that I have is Daytanistan. And, unfortunately, we have no insight into their intentions.”

“Do you know if the Anahuacans have spoken to them?” Mandelson asked. “That’s really the only foreign power the Daytans listen to, if they listen to anyone.

Baroness Vivian nodded. “Though our estimates are that they are less involved with each other than one might believe. Nonetheless, the Chancellor did raise our concerns about Daytanistan with General Secretary Hoogaboom, but with no real response.”

The Minister paused and Daugavins passed her a note. She looked at briefly. “That is really all the additional information that we have,... Kate. I propose that we let our military colleagues work out the details of the joint naval patrols. If we can speak with the Knootians or the Pantocratorians, or if there are new developments with Anahuac, we will certainly circle back for further discussions.”

“Thank you,” Mandelson said. “I’m glad we’re in agreement.”


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