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A Pandemonium of Princes [Closed]

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

A Pandemonium of Princes [Closed]

Postby Darussalam » Wed Apr 06, 2022 8:08 pm

The angelminds of Mount Qaf deep within the expanse of the Noosphere picked up the golden quills of inspiration and imbibed the wine of prophecy, and wrote down the fortuitous affairs of the first great assembly of all Valkian peoples, and it began as thus:

Leaning against the balustrade of his suite’s balcony, Afshin took a deep, long inhale from his bejeweled long-stem pipe. Smoke billowed out as he exhaled, rising to the humid tropical night air before vanishing into the background pollution of the sleepless metropolis of Serendip spreading beneath. Under the faint light of the new moon, the city glimmered like a lustrous string of jewels that radiated against the backdrop of the pitch darkness of lush jungles to its one side. Colossal billboards and holograms produced animate vernacular forms in a myriad colors that danced throughout the corporate-owned nighttime skyline, and when one peered through the hyperreal Serendip exploded in emerald vines which tendrils encased buildings which turned stylized and patterned, from which interactive metaphorical wild orchids bloomed as solemnly joyful yet enigmatic music boomed directly from the city’s own air.

A massive, jolly, swarthy face beamed benevolently from a screen etched on the façade of a skyscraper's lower levels right across the road, flashing various projects and sponsors in the background. Even farther away, the massive hologram of the same man, displaying his entire towering body in an ostentatious and tasteless attire that struck Afshin off as unintentionally comedic, extensively jeweled from ears down to the ankles that he practically looked like a pagan idol, with swarm drones assembling to engrave a message WELCOME TO SERENDIP on air in multiple languages, as the man smiled and waved. The Zamorin of Serendip, as he was called, the ruling prince of the city, was practically unavoidable in either the skyline of the metropolis or the worlds of the hyperreal, blending along endless streams of advertisements. This was an unheard-of practice in the northern lands of the Abode of Peace, where the ancient merchant and banking houses were paranoid at the thought of being photographed, let alone advertising their faces and personalities into their cities’ billboards and screens. And yet such was the presence of the jolly and rotund Zamorin, who appeared more like an overbearing larger-than-life celebrity than an administrator, and yet by all accounts regarded as excellent in his work as the latter.

Being a northerner, Afshin nevertheless had very little love for Serendip, or indeed other southern cities like it. It was hot, humid, teeming with tropical vegetation with buzzing of bloodsucking insects, its people crassly glamorous, uncouth, and overly obsessed with excessive ostentation and larger-than-life personalities. As the southernmost Core agglomerate, it was a world away from the climate and temperament of his acceptably civilized home Ushrusana. Some of his colleagues admittedly liked to enjoy the indulgent resorts of the south, the warm sun and days of wasting away in indolent pleasures. Not him. If he’s here, he’s here for work and for work only.

An arm grabbed him from behind. He turned around, and a younger, more vibrant, slightly darker hued face, with disheveled dark hair and sharp brown eyes, bashfully grinned at him several inches above his own. Afshin didn’t really recall his name, but it doesn’t matter anyway. All of them used false names in this business, him included. The younger man–perhaps in his early twenties, or at least looked like one–already dressed himself up in a bathrobe, but Afshin still well remembered the immaculately sculpted musculature in his chest that now gently pushed against his back, and likewise the arms that enveloped him now, gripping warmly but with firmness that caused him to flutter slightly.

Well, he’s here mostly for work, and he only didn’t like most things about the city, anyway.

He gently released himself from the young man’s grip and regained his composure. “I’m going to leave shortly, after I finish this smoke,” he said. “This room’s already fully paid until noon, so don’t worry about it.”

The younger man’s face changed into feigned disappointment. “That soon? I’m booked for a night, you know.”

“Hmm, hmm.” Afshin mumbled. “It’s work. This entire week has been extremely busy and tomorrow it’s going to be a lot worse. I’m already exhausted as it is, keeping up with you for an entire night will fucking kill me.”

“Ah, I see.” He chuckled. “Well, I did figure out that you're a busy man. I know there's something amiss about a lot of old northern sorcerers like you hanging around this place lately. I mean, I know some of you do like to visit around occasionally, but it doesn’t seem like you guys are on sabbatical this time, a lot of you seem to be actually working. Big events coming around here, hmm?”

It didn’t remotely surprise Afshin that he was unaware about the existence of a summit a day’s away that was being garishly advertised everywhere throughout the streets of Serendip. The side effect of a system of esoteric interlocking black boxes that automated policy away from prying eyes of public opinion means that, over time, most people just lived their lives away not as much as from ignorance as from apathy to anything that didn’t directly affect their own pleasures and personal obsessions. As far as he and other lords of the Imperial Court are concerned, incuriosity was a good thing as long as it was from the ones who didn’t have business to pry any information in the first place. He was bothered with one thing, however.

“I’m not old,” he said in an almost miserable tone. “I’m not even forty.”

The younger man blinked. “I see. Well, I thought to guess a sorcerer’s age you just need to multiply the age of his appearance twice, so I thought you’re probably in your late fifties or something. Sorry about that.” He laughed while unwittingly sending a sharp pang to Afshin’s heart.

“And yes,” Afshin continued, smoke seeping out from his mouth. “There’s going to be a very big event. I’m not sure if it’s going to directly concern you, but it’s a summit for leaders and diplomats of the lands of Se-Kešvar.” Three Continents, referring to the old Darussalami name of Valkian lands. “The Imperial Court will host an assembly of all peoples of this region, and this city has been selected as the location of the first summit.”

“A summit, huh? That’s interesting. So there’s going to be a lot of foreigners–high-profile foreigners, even!–around here. Potential clients, don’t you think?” He laughed again. “I wonder if they like playing around. They might even like men, too, although we have plenty of girls around here as well. Maybe the Zamorin will encourage them to do that, you know. To go around and have unexpected fun. That’s the point of being in Serendip, right?”

As he mentioned the Zamorin, Afshin grimaced, but he carefully concealed it. “Yes, the Zamorin,” he said. “I believe he’s going to welcome them in tomorrow’s ceremony. You might not want to miss it.”

“That’s great!” He wreathed a big radiant smile. “I don’t know much about politics–or care much about it, really, but the Zamorin is a really great man.”

Afshin looked again at the prince celebrity and his joyous expression in the Akashic databases. The Zamorin of Serendip was, by most accounts, a very popular man in his territories. To be sure, despite the grievances of many northerners uncomfortable with his glamorously personalized rule, his cult was relatively lighthearted and not particularly overbearing, people are more than free to dislike or disagree with him. He resided in a vast wooden monastery-like complex built on the hills of Ratna Parbat mountain that overlooked the city, clearly visible from certain districts even with all the towering skyscrapers that blotted its skyline, where everyday he’s said to receive petitions of his people. And yet no one’s quite sure regarding the extent–or basis–of his authority. He was not a political figure but a patrimonial monarch, a genial celebrity figure that symbolized the wealth and success of Serendip.

All that people knew is that when the Zamorin began to rule more than a decade ago, the city began to embark on an ambitious project. A deal was struck with Darussalami and Menelmacari contractors to build a ninety-kilometer canal starting just from the city’s outskirts that will cleave the Valkian continents into two, snaking through jungles, swamps, and deserts of southern Mesovalkia, and facilitating access to the largely pristine (and desolate) eastern coasts. In the sixth year it was finished, and Serendip rejoiced. It turned overnight from a wealthy but sleepy resort port into one of the busiest seaports in the subcontinent. Its population exploded into a few dozen millions and still climbing, and yet the city never overextended. The Zamorin again negotiated rule in the city’s teeming Sprawl, carving it up for several corporate mafia groups that now administered the outer districts professionally. The city and its surrounding districts simplified tax codes and business regulations that they inherited from long-fallen central authority of the twentieth-century Secular Regency, and joined the commercium of the Core regions. Still rooted in its origin as a sleazy resort town for the northern elites, the city’s companies built opulent casinos, grand festival grounds, and magnificent brothels under the blessing of the Zamorin who fashioned himself as a sybarite, potbellied from the world’s pleasures and with a carefree smile that never disappeared in front of his grateful subjects. His city had become a city of unexpected and limitless pleasures, such he claimed in a popular advertisement. Enjoy your surprises in the city of Serendip.

Afshin didn’t need to consult the Akashic databases to know all of that. Most people knew the Zamorin even less than they thought, and Afshin was among the few aware of that. In fact, probably only a handful of people knew the inner workings of the system that governed Serendip better than Afshin did. Starting, perhaps, from the fact that the Zamorin did not actually exist.

That is debatable, of course. Existence was always a tenuous and contentious thing in the realm where individual personalities dissolve into professional mind-hives, corporations manifested their personhood into corporal anthropomorphic forms, and sorcerers like Afshin maintain a dozen node individualities distributed throughout their identity network. But here’s the actual story about the Zamorin: a while ago, it was decided by the intricate mechanism that determined the internal workings of the publicly-traded municipal corporation of Serendip that investing in a larger-than-life personality that functioned as a legible interface to the masses and foreigners, a living and breathing advertisement, was an auspicious venture that will bring profitable returns. And so that person began to exist, summoned from the hyperreal. Generative and manipulative media technology aided the reconstruction of his appearance, professionally contracted artists were extensively equipped with props and make-ups and live-fed with dynamically-generated lines and personality beamed straight to their cerebral cortices. His existence was not bizarre or innovative in Darussalam, exceptional only perhaps by the omnipresence and scale of his advertising. The Zamorin of Serendip was merely one of perhaps hundreds of princes, and certainly hundreds of thousands of various virtual personalities throughout Mesovalkia created by generative adversarial neural networks and personality meticulously crafted by corporate boards.

Did the person actually exist? Perhaps. A person, after all, is always first and foremost an interface to a complex system. But it was of little relevance. What was certain is that much of the Zamorin’s appearance is fabricated, and that he existed merely to exist–as a figure subjected to the popular monarchical cult of the Serendipites. As for the government of Serendip, it was–as always–automated fullstack, from the decision making process down to the logistics and implementation, entangled in a network of algorithmic angelminds, esoteric prediction markets, and shady corporate boards presided by sorcerer-oligarchs. Perhaps the gestalt of these systems manifested as the Zamorin, the face of the inhuman mechanisms that ensured that the city ran smoothly. Regardless, only a handful of actual flesh-and-bones people were granted privilege of access and modification of certain sections of its internal mechanisms. Afshin was one of them.

Most of the time, Afshin did not micromanage the affairs of his metropolis, content to let the system function as it is. This time was different. Prediction markets and blockchained oracular mechanisms operating in the Imperial Court had fixed their eyes to Serendip for the coming days, waiting to determine whether to grant the status of headquarters of the newly christened Valkian League to it or the northern metropolis of Balasaghun, where a similarly enigmatic interface known as Biwarasp the Wise reigned. Even as he lay on bed with a man he didn’t know, his sorcerous mind expanded and underwent division of labor, raced throughout the cloud services of the city and distributed along the nodes of surveillance systems, taking notes of data collected by the city’s various sensors and swarmbots buzzed throughout the landscape disguised as swarming buzz of cicadas and mosquitoes. Everything was to be perfectly choreographed, either planned or predicted in advance. He even reduced the frequency of the Zamorin’s appearance in the screens and holographic projections throughout the city, giving space instead for more bright corporate mascots and dancing idol qiyans, for fear that some might be disheartened at questionably garish display of a personality cult.

“Do you have plans for tomorrow?” Afshin suddenly asked loudly.

The man looked at him in confusion. “I do, but… what, are you planning for another meetup? I thought you said you’d be busy tomorrow.”

“No, no, I’m not planning anything.” Afshin flashed a grin. “It’s just that, don’t worry about it. Tomorrow there'll be no rain. One hundred percent clear weather. Trust me on it.”

~~~~~~

Serendip woke up the next morning with torrents of rain washing down through its streets.

“I thought you said it’s not going to rain today.” A woman, reclining on a divan, watched the rain pouring down from her fogging window. “I think you might have been distracted last night.” She conjured words that reverberated directly to the inside of Afshin’s skull, communicating directly to his auditory cortex.

Afshin did the same. “It’s not supposed to,” he said in frustration. He was sitting in the back of a car that quietly rushed to the summit’s place in the city’s outskirts, up on the cooler and windier hills of Ratna Parbat, busy with adjusting his disheveled appearance. “I knew when I screwed up, and I certainly did not in this case. I don’t know what the fuck happened to precipitation, but it’s not a forecast mistake. There was only an infinitesimal chance of it raining just hours ago.”

“I understand, I was jesting.” The woman replied. “I predicted just the same last night. Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will go just fine. I’m more worried about the general state of attractor basins that this portended: this was beyond our predictions, and certainly not an auspicious time. Probably the same entanglements are behind the rain today and a certain news I’m going to inform you today.”

“Oh god.” Afshin said. “Unpleasant news?”

She hesitated. “Not necessarily. But, again. Attractor basin thrown out. They have approved a delegate from the Cities of Jabulqa and Jabulsa, the court of the Caliph in Occultation.”

“You’re fucking with me.” He ran fingers through his face. “Now?”

“Yes, just minutes ago, which is why I contacted you. I’m going to relay his channel to you right now, a moment please…”

Another node joined the network. A far younger man, in his late teens or early twenties, at least by appearance, stood beneath red shamiana awning, in his background rain visibly and audibly thundered before he tuned it out. His expression was complicated–a mix of apologetic, and perhaps as much confusion as Afshin’s regarding his presence. Afshin gently probed through the akashic databases, and as he expected–his numinosity, without user experience adjustments, blinded throughout the Noosphere, radiating the entire city in sorcerous light, standing on equal terms with the greatest angelminds. “Greetings, peace be upon you,” he said. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Al-Akhdar, or Zawba’ah, and you might call me by the latter,” he introduced himself using the names he clearly did not usually use in other circumstances. Zawba’ah hesitated a bit, before continuing. “I am here by order of the Caliph of a Thousand Nights, sovereign of his occulted court in Jabulqa. We apologize for this quite a… serendipitous encounter, but we have reached an agreement with the Imperial Court to participate in this endeavor. Worry not, we will largely observe and advise the course, and leave the important matters to the purview of the Court.”

Afshin sighed. “I understand, and worry not, we will welcome you as part of the decision making process. The input of the Emerald Cities will be of great use to all of us. I am Afshin Shuja-ud-Daula, and this is my colleague Al-Khayzuran.” He virtually gestured to the woman, who nodded in turn. Left unmentioned was Al-Khayzuran’s association, she was here as a representative of the Imperial Harem, whose relationship with the Caliph in Occultation was complicated at best, but nonetheless–he likely was already aware about it in the first place.

The places he referred to, the Emerald Cities of Jabulqa and Jabulsa, weren’t–or weren’t yet–physical, geographical locations. They were, rather, tilism or enclosed virtual hyperreality, distributed throughout the Noospheric networks of the Abode of Peace. There the Caliph that was once enthroned on the Peacock Throne of the Imperial Court now enthroned in Occultation, and for years now largely remained in static silence aside from the occasional ventures of this person, the same figure over and over again, perhaps his closest confidant if not the person himself.

Afshin wished he could have understood the intricacies of the Ma’adids’ court intrigues. He did not. The average common rabble knew even less, familiar with the events only when filtered through sacred languages. The Ma’adids mastered the arts of divination more than any, and thus weaved their plans over the minutest entanglements of probability, nudging the basins of attraction on which events evolve to their own advantages. Toward what end, again Afshin did not comprehend.

It was such a bizarre condition of the Abode of Peace that for all its supposed “openness” and “integration to the global economy”, of the quadrillions of dollars worth of goods that flowed in and out and millions of people who walked in and out throughout the realm as they pleased, details of the internal mechanisms of the realm remained highly as opaque as the fog that lingered on the city outside as rain thundered on. Most of the time it wasn’t even from transparency as from actual, genuine incomprehension–the scale of which it functioned, touching the heavens above and peering down quantum entanglements below, the staggering amount of information so immense that they called databases and their analysis systems Mountains, such as Mount Qaf and Mount Agate and Mount Cinnabar and so on, the illegibility of whatever is supposed to substitute the existence of a “state” in it, to the extent that it produced coherent diplomacy. Information processing and analysis have been largely outsourced to machines, and even sorcerers with godlike minds who controlled quadrillions of data points spreading through trillions of subsystems grappled for merely a scrap, a small peak of colossal iceberg of the gestalt entity of “Darussalam”.

Here’s how Afshin saw Darussalami diplomacy works: oracles slumbering in REM sleep divined peace, and thus dispatched diplomats live-fed with prediction markets betting on outcomes of specific terms of negotiation to discuss with people of other nations the possibility of an “international league”. The leaders of Valkia, weary of their endless wars and wary of the perfidy of other peoples, placed their trust in the Imperial Court, and by extension the Abode of Peace–the only people they perceived to be impartial, interested only in money and little else. Diplomats returned with good tidings from foreign leaders, a meeting will be hosted within the realm to eke out the details. Consultations held to the angelminds of Mount Qaf. An outcome was predetermined: either Balasaghun or Serendip will host the first summit, either will be decided as the headquarter of the new organization. Another instruction rolled by, like divine revelation: the names of those who will participate in the event. And so it goes. It worked perfectly, almost. For the Darussalamis, wars are internalized in cost for those willing to engage in it–the princes who financed opium guerrillas in Turtleshroom, aided Barboneian corporate intrigues, and so on.

Darussalam was “neutral”. So did the foreign understanding went. It traded with everyone, opened its borders to everyone, goods traveled without customs or barriers up and down the western coast running north-south. It cared little about national grievances, revanchist sentiments, or moralizing crusades. The deep seaport of Serendip bustled with activity, Barboneian bulk carriers piled high with containers edged past oil containers from Dire Dire Docks, liquid gas carriers arriving from the gas-rich desolate lands of the eastern Mesovalkian seaboard, coal ships from Grandstand, and so on. The canal of the Vanara Isthmus was open to everyone: tyrants, crusaders, god-kings, oligarchs.

Business went on as usual. Massive billboards and screens contrasted in innumerable bright colors against the graying sky. Millions descended into the subterranean depths of the municipal metro, rising on the streets in their umbrellas beneath the shades of towering skyscrapers. Airports and seaports received tens of thousands of arrivals and departures, and they also prepared for the arrival of the great delegations of the Valkian nations. A fleet of cars prepared for their arrival soon will dispatch them to the summit location, climbing up the foggy hills of Ratna Parbat that ominously loomed behind the city and flanked it against the vast Navigatic Ocean, to a picturesque palatial resort that overlooked the city from distance. The roads were busy but not congested, and the cars rode in ominous silence, without anyone on driver's seat and lacking the characteristic vibrations and hums of internal combustion engines.

The fifteen meter tall projection of the Zamorin of Serendip stood at the city center, his face barely visible beneath thick fog and rain. The words engraved on air to his side, however, are clear enough: WELCOME TO SERENDIP - WELCOME TO DARUSSALAM.
Last edited by Darussalam on Thu Apr 07, 2022 9:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Barboneia
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Founded: Sep 17, 2014
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Barboneia » Thu Apr 07, 2022 6:56 pm

Tapio hated travelling.

He especially hated travelling outside of Barboneia.

He wasn't exactly sure when he received the call; he remembered he was sitting in a café along the Pitka River, enjoying a macchiato and reading the newspaper, when his phone buzzed. It was one of Prime Minister Penttinen's aides, who said something about a trip to Darussalam as a special envoy for some sort of international coalition... Thing. Tapio had been confused; for one, he was the Administrative Minister. His business was in regards to national issues and running the government, not dealing with Valkian intrigues. He inquired why he was being asked to represent Barboneia here, and not Ernesti. Ernesti was sick, the aide replied. You're the next highest ranked member of government, they continued. Seriously? Tapio couldn't help but find himself utterly annoyed.

He had thought about telling the aide off, informing him that this was an affair better handled by, say, the Minister of International Affairs, or some minor diplomat they could spare, but it had become increasingly obvious as the aide prattled on that the others who would be in attendance at the summit were of the highest levels of government across Valkia; how would it look if Barboneia sent in place of their head of state or head of government someone so simple and lowly ranked? They would make completely fools of themselves, something Barboneia absolutely hates doing. Tapio supposed he didn't really have much of a choice.

As soon as Tapio got off the phone with the aide, a slick, blacked-out Ältai Prime bearing government plates pulled up in front of the café, and before he could protest Tapio was ushered into the car by his security detail (he hardly remembered that they were even present with him) and whisked away to Pääkaupunki International Airport, soon to be taken to Serendip, far to the south.

He didn't even get to bring his coffee with him.

---

Why was he here, exactly? Thankfully, Tapio had been better briefed on the situation on the flight, so he actually knew what he was getting himself into for the good of the Barboneian commonwealth. Essentially, or at least as he had been told, there was to be a great summit among many international leaders for the creation of a sort of international league, hoping towards the advancement of peace throughout the settled lands of Valkia. The idea sounded good in theory; in practice, however, Tapio wasn't terribly impressed by it. Sure, peace is always good. But the people of Valkia are hardly peaceful. The fundamentalist TurtleShroomers, the savage North Landers and Hiluxians, the cryptic Darussalami... Why were they hosting this whole thing in the first place, anyway? Tapio had only a scant understanding of their internal politics, and knew that part of this summit also involved representatives from various... Enclaves? City-states? He wasn't sure the correct term, but he knew Darussalam was terribly fractured, and he supposed part of this meeting was to help in solving some of their own issues. Darussalam was also always well known and regarded for its neutrality, so he supposed that that was also part of it. He couldn't imagine a summit as large as this being held in Jonesboro, for example. And at least in Darussalam he wouldn't end up with dysentery. Hopefully.

Whatever the case, Tapio was finding the thought of being stuck in close quarters with other species for such lengths of time as to however long the summit will take to be rather... Nauseating. He didn't consider himself a racist; he just didn't like people who weren't human terribly much. And even then, he had a very small tolerance for people such as the Darussalami, who were often flamboyant, or strange, or all manners of incomprehensible to a stoic Nordic individual such as himself. But for the sake of Barboneia... He would put aside his differences.

He was, at the very least, thankful that he was not going to this strange land alone. Accompanying him were his two aides, Rauno and Jessika. Rauno was an excitable, outspoken young man recently hired by the Centrist party to work directly under Tapio after his predecessor resigned, who nonetheless was quite intelligent and more than happy to help Tapio with whatever he needed. Jessika, on the other hand, was very reserved, performing her job matter-of-factly and nothing more. She had worked with Tapio for four years now, and he was always appreciative of her service. Also accompanying him were two members of his security detail, Johannes and Edvard. Johannes, despite being a North Lander, was treated with great respect by Tapio. He couldn't have thought of two better men to bring along with him to ensure he would be safe.

When Tapio and his four companions arrived in Serendip, he hardly had time to see if any other Valkian leaders were at the airport they landed at before they were led into an awaiting car. No time spared, I suppose, he thought as the car took off. He was slightly taken aback upon his realization that the car had no driver and was seemingly electric, and hoped that his first visit outside of his homeland in a decade wouldn't end with a news report about his charred body being pulled from a lithium ion battery explosion induced wreck. The others, however, seemed not to mind, and Rauno and Jessika found themselves talking about what to expect at the summit, who would be in attendance, and anything else they can do to prepare before they arrive, while the two guards stared out of the car windows intently, scanning passerby on the sidewalk and other vehicles on the road for any sort of potential threats.

Tapio, with a sigh, simply sank into his seat, staring through the windshield out at the wider city that they passed. Advertisements for millions of products, thousands of people of different cultures and species walking the streets, colors of all kinds... Maybe this summit wouldn't be so bad. Maybe he'd even learn a thing or two.

When he saw the massive hologram of the Zamorin, however, his mood quickly turned.

He had never met the man, and already, he didn't like him.
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Comrade Commisar
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Founded: Jun 12, 2011
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Comrade Commisar » Fri Apr 08, 2022 8:26 am

'Forecast, Eastern Navigatic; sunny with clear skies. Temperature; 82 degrees fahrenheit, typical of patrol area. Reporting Station; Serendip Port Authority, Darussalam.'

The captain of the CNWS Grandstand read the small slip of ticker tape in her hand, her weary eyes slowly drifting from the paper to the darkened bridge windows, watching waves crash over the deck of the battleship as it drove its steel prow into the turbulent sea. Muttering a silent curse as she crumbled the slip in her hand, she briefly looked over at the bridge officers, attempting to correct the deviations produced by the waves, before looking to the port and starboard positions. Steaming abreast with the ship, a modest distance away, were other battleships of the Commonwealth Navy; the CNWS Braddocksburg, CNWS Blackwall, and the CNWS Red Harbor. It was an impressive display, the physical embodiment of Commonwealth maritime prowess; these hulks of steel, bristling with all manner of guns, sailing directly east to the Darussalami coast.

Eight years ago, a small detachment of battleships such as these would typically be assigned to coastal bombardment, raking the shoreline until all that was left was a foreign, hostile landscape. Today, they were here not for the purposes of subjugating other nations through the force of arms, but for reaffirming an established peace - escorting the combined delegations of the North Lands and Commonwealth. Steaming from the ports of Grandstand, North Auskral, and the Tsao Territories, the warships had rendezvoused in the Eastern Navigatic Sea to transfer the delegates to the Grandstand, before making the final leg of their journey to the port of Serendip. It had been mostly an uneventful endeavor, but as the division of ships neared Darussalam - known for its unconventional weather systems - and the storm clouds became known contrary to typically accurate Darussalami forecasts, was there an ominous feeling amongst the crew.

The delegations themselves, safely sheltered within the wardroom and officer cabins of the Grandstand, were less effected by superstition and local weather conditions, although rough seas proved to be a challenge of its own. Between the North Lands and Commonwealth, these were no small names either, with many of the delegates possessing a certain and considerable merit. Talks about regional alliances had been held before, but these had been largely theoretical, notably geographic, and not particularly entertained. There were multiple reasons for this, from delicate power dynamics to political considerations, but mainly, the nations of Valkia could hardly reach a consensus on even minor treaties or recognition - how could they be expected to agree to an alliance, much less uphold one during times of need? Yet, when the Darussalamis proposed the creation of an international league within Valkia, there was a certain breath of fresh air about the endeavor - a certain connotation that warranted, at least, a semi-serious consideration.

"It has been a long time since I've been able to enjoy the High Lands!" The room echoed with the giddy cries of a brown-haired, animal-eared North Lander, clasping her hands together in glee, "Ahh, what to indulge in first? The pleasures of stomach, or the pleasures of flesh? I can't wait!"

"Oh, don't worry, they have all the beds and warm bodies to share them with as far as the eye can see. I don't think anyone outside of the Steel Golems can compare, and even then, the High Landers go out of their way to make you feel like a hero." Another white-haired animal-ear spoke. Her voice harsh and gruff, speaking an unusual dialect in North Lander, taking a pause to drink beer from her mug before continuing, "To tell you the truth, I'm glad that I was able to stowaway on this little outing of yours. After all those months in the South Lands, I'm ready to skip the next few months of travel, and head straight into bed with the cutest High Lander silver can buy!"

"Aha, as much as I want to join in, I already have the cutest South Lander waiting for me at home. I wouldn't feel right indulging myself in things like that without her." Yet another blonde-haired animal ear added, her right sleeve folded against her torso, and her eye covered with a patch. She leaned her head upon her left hand, sighing longingly, "If you find a good restaurant or grill, let me know though! It's been a long time since I've been out with old friends, and we should definitely have dinner together. My treat!"

Dominating the wardroom with their pleasantries, it was hard to determine if the three animal-eared women were attending an international summit or going on holiday, but that was simply the nature of the North Lands' delegation. Darussalam had always been a mystical place from the North Landers' perspective; featured prominently in the story of Red Scarf, patron deity of the hunt, who prominently courted a Darussalami caliph before eating him and his court. The tale had always been considered particularly romantic, despite mixed interpretations from the South Lands and Darussalam itself. Nonetheless, for all the talk of leisurely activities, these were still particularly important individuals from the North Lands.

Lang the Great was considered the 'leader' of the delegation - a patron deity of the harvest - not unlike Red Scarf, and the intermediary between the North Landers, Imperial Shrine of Yoitsu, and Commonwealth. However, these were middling factors, and a large reason of why Lang was leading talks was simply because she had previously done so in the South Lands over ten years ago. She technically had the most experience in diplomatic discussions of this caliber and was seen as capable of handling matters in a method satisfactory to all parties in the North Lands. Fiona the White Fang and Freya Southpaw were brought in as her bodyguards and assistant negotiators. Current and former mercenary captains respectively, who had a vested interest in promoting North Lander mercenary companies, mostly through either ensuring that they would have priority security roles in the league - or failing that - ensuring the ineffectiveness of the league in settling certain matters. The contentious Nekoland and Niekasi crises had been particularly profitable for North Landers, and any resolution would be detrimental to the North Landers participating in those conflicts.

Staring from across the room, a young woman in Commonwealth Navy fatigues grimaced at the North Landers. Turning to another man beside her, she stared at his stoic face, unmoved by the endeavors of the delegates, before finally commenting on the behavior.

"Do you think it's really worth associating with them during the summit? I understand that the North Lands and Commonwealth have close relations, but I feel like they're not here for diplomatic talks." She asked, carefully examining the man before returning her gaze at the group, "That said, I still think that this isn't an issue you have to address in person. You could have just sent some lower officer in your stead."

"The first summit is only to address the legal and structural framework. In that regard, the interests of the North Landers align quite nicely with the Commonwealth. Their interests will undoubtedly revolve around their mercenary work and culture, and our interests involve control over the security and enforcement arms of the league. The two are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, might even end up rather beneficial for both parties." The man stated, offering a sigh as he unfolded his fingers and sat back into his chair, "As for not sending another officer to handle the situation, who would I send? Somebody without station would simply be ignored, and somebody with too much station, such as the Prime Minister or Admiral Winters, might not necessarily achieve our goals. If anything, they could even potentially make the situation worse.

He looked over at the woman, who seemed to be unconvinced of his words.

"If you want the real answer, I want to make clear our resolve, and what better way to do that then for the High Admiral of the Commonwealth Navy to attend the summit in person?"

Norman Walker had been a particularly quiet character in the Commonwealth Navy. Physically, he was unremarkable with his average height, lean build, and modest features. He was the kind of person that passed as a bystander, barely memorable, and easily mistaken as someone else. That was the aesthetic that he had cultivated for himself. His background was only slightly more interesting, born to a tailor couple, employed by the family, before participating in the War of Red as a quartermaster. After the war, he was placed in charge of managing reconstruction logistics, later gaining several promotions as he navigated the political infighting at the time. By the War of Steel, Walker had been placed in charge of the Sky Guard by High Admiral Amelia Winters, managing the internal affairs of the Commonwealth Navy during the conflict, leading people who knew the man to refer to him as 'Winters Dog'.

It had been eight years since the War of Steel, though, and much had changed since that time. The Sky Guard had traditionally been an amalgamation of the Commonwealth Navy's armored, air, and airborne assets, but Walker had shifted their mission to espionage, intelligence, and assassination instead. When the Prime Minister, Lord Reginald Whyte, dismissed High Admiral Winters for negotiating the surrender terms for Lynxia without consulting parliament, Walker had been in an opportune decision to seize power before another High Admiral could be appointed. In the chaos that soon fell after the conflict, he and his Sky Guard were able to avoid a similar fate of countries like South Auskral and Lynxia from befalling the Commonwealth, preserving the stability of the nation through harsh suppression and autocratic tendencies. The seat of power changed from the civilian capital of Asahina, to the military capital of Grandstand, and since then, Walker had been ruling the Commonwealth with a firm, fair, but hidden hand. He rarely dealt with matters himself, but practically nothing happened in the past eight years without his knowledge and subtle confirmation.

Now, Walker was standing on the frontlines, not as an intelligence officer gathering information, but leading the Commonwealth delegation personally as the Commonwealth Navy High Admiral. It was an unprecedented act, one that took his security detail by surprise, but one that he had been obliged to take. For a man largely concerned about internal stability, it was recent external incidents that were demanding his attention. Probably much like many of his contemporaries, he was not convinced about the viability of an international league. Valkia simply did not see eye-to-eye on any issue, and while some might come to an agreement today, it was guaranteed that they would be at each other's throats the next. The Commonwealth had previously tried to establish a Northern Alliance, to no avail, while attempts to negotiate about the status of Dire Docks or a naval treaty with Turtleshroom were fruitless. However, unlikely as it was, if another nation assumed authority within the league - legal, economical, or otherwise - and had influence around Valkia, that could potentially be troublesome. Particularly, if the fragile peace that had been upheld since the War of Steel erupted into another conflict on the Navigatic Sea, destroying everything that had been built since then.

"I don't care about your reasons, High Admiral." The woman said with an audible distain and sarcasm, "As your secretary, as your security detail, as your right-hand; you're only making more work for me."

"I know, Emily. I saw your old squad mates on board. You're pulling strings and calling in the cavalry this early?" Walker asked, looking over at the North Landers, who were now going on a lengthy discussion on cuisine, "How bad is it on the ground if you're doing this?"

"We don't know how Darussalam functions. We don't even know if the Darussalamis know how it functions. We barely understand the security situation, we have a fledgling grasp of the terrain, and of the things we do know, the Darussalamis do them unconventionally enough to where we can't plan for it. There are... a lot of variables." Emily replied, her voice drifting off meekly by the end of the sentence.

"That's just how it is, isn't it?" The High Admiral made a wry smile as the faint rumble of thunder could be heard in the wardroom, pulling out a ticker tape with the weather forecast from Serenip out of his pocket, "You can plan, you can predict, you can have all the information in the palm of your hands; but that doesn't guarantee you won't be playing it by ear at the end of it, hm?"

--


The CNWS Grandstand bobbed up and down gently in port, the rain continuing to pitter-patter along her deck, as the occasional roar of thunder sounded in the background of the darkened sky. Moored beside her were the Braddocksburg, Blackwall, and Red Harbor; looming over the dockyards of Serenip, but not over the many grand cargo freighters that were there, also taking refuge from the storm. Disembarking from the warships, the North Lands and Commonwealth delegation made their way to land underneath the cover of umbrellas, glancing around at the exceptionally foreign and commercialized environment around them. It was not a settlement typical of the North Lands, the Commonwealth, or even Barboneia; it was much larger, more colorful, filled with noise - filled with life. The North Landers were ecstatic, filled with a certain measured awe and envy, while their Commonwealth counterparts were more reserved in their reactions, eyes simply glancing over the various advertisements and messages plastered all over the city.

"How cute do you think the boys are in the High Lands? Do you think that they are tall, dark, perhaps a little disheveled looking?" Lang asked, with an almost sing-song amusement, before pointing to the hologram of a rather rotund man who was rather happy, but otherwise not particularly handsome, "Or do you think that they all look like that man, more fit for the pot than the bedside!"

"The High Landers have really let themselves go since the last time I was here if they all look like that." White Fang laughed in her gravelly voice, pointing at the image with her umbrella, "They really ought to be showcasing better looking High Landers."

"They have cuter ones over there, see? Girls, too! They even dance and sing!" Southpaw pointed out to another screen, "Maybe the fat one is if you're really poor?"

"Not to interrupt your good mood, but it seems that our hosts are tending to us. I'm sure you can explore the city as well as your romantic options, later." High Admiral Walker offered his usual wry smile, gesturing to some Darussalami attendants who were holding open a car door, politely waiting for the North Landers to take notice, "We will be travelling in a separate vehicle. After all, I wouldn't want to get in the way of your excitement."

Watching the North Landers hurriedly file in with a sort of giddiness before departing, the Commonwealth delegation waited as the Darussalamis presented to them a second vehicle, identical to the first, before also entering and going on their way. Sitting in silence, the group stared out the windows upon the passing urban terrain, the multitudes of people living in the city, and the constant bombardment of the senses. The vehicle itself made little noise or vibration, only met with the friction of pavement, the constant bombardment of raindrops, or the occasional puddle. It was a peaceful ride, almost lulling one to sleep, contrasted by the glares of the High Admiral's security detail with submachine guns at their hips, hidden underneath their woolen blue-grey capes.

"What do you think of Serendip?" The High Admiral asked, turning to his aide.

"There's too many advertisements, avenues, and people." Emily replied, eyes still scrutinizing every detail of the city, "We're being overloaded with information, and if something happened, I don't know if we could react in time. We probably won't be able to rest until we get back to the ship."

"We're being watched. We were being watched the minute we stepped off the ship." One of the bodyguards noted, a blonde girl with tired eyes and her hair done in a ponytail, "Not even like people in the crowd, like we're being watched out of everyone in the crowd."

"We're dressed in woolen blue military uniforms and are carrying machine pistols under our capes." The other bodyguard snapped indignantly, sweeping aside her messy, short, brown hair, "I think I'd be keeping an eye out on us, too."

The High Admiral sighed, shaking his head, "I'm not asking about security concerns. I'm asking about the general mood of the city, miss... and miss...?"

"The blonde one is Felis, and the brunette is Grizzly." Emily nodded at the two, before turning back to the street, "It reminds me of Lynxia. The way that everything feels superficial, the colorful facades on the displays and buildings, and especially the fat man. He's everywhere, like the statues and posters of Hadwyn during the war. I can't say why, but the way he's always in the corner of your eye, smiling at you. I don't like it."

"Maybe it's because the air intakes on Hadwyn's mask? It kind of looks like a smile." Felis noted, "Maybe that's why it makes you uncomfortable?"

"It's because you can't see what he's thinking." Grizzly muttered, continuing to stare out the window, "'Why is he smiling? Who is he? What does he want?', things like that."

The High Admiral looked at his entourage, before gazing upon something in the distance; a gentle blue glow reflecting off his face, growing brighter, and then suddenly dimmer - the words 'WELCOME TO SERENDIP - WELCOME TO DARUSSALAM' growing smaller in the rear window as the automated car passed.

"Well, I guess we are going to find out soon enough."
A complete mess of a nation known in-character as the 'North Lands'; populated by pious priestesses, wandering mercenaries, violent bandits, and various internal power struggles. Be careful of who you deal with.

Basically, a decentralized feudalistic society ranging anywhere between medieval and interwar.

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Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Fri Apr 08, 2022 10:27 pm

For those new here, I based this character on a more homely, comedic portrayal of Azula from "Avatar the Last Airbender", to be read in that character's voice.

Text in an unique color is not in English.


"DING!"

Agnes "Agni" K. Badwell, Constable On Patrol of the Imperial Ministry of the Police of the Great Bountiful Empire of the United Turtles, Mushrooms, and Men of TurtleShroom, whipped her head left and right. Her distinctive bangs that framed her face swooshed with the movement as her shoulders tensed.

"CRAP FIRE AND SAVE MATCHES!" she thought in Koyron, the language of the land she grew up in, biting her slightly bucked two front teeth onto her plump, expertly painted lips.

"There it was again!"

The train ride eastward had taken ages, over a week. TurtleShroom's Captains of Industry have invested billions in railroad infrastructure across the Land of Power, the Region's southern continent, starting on the beaches of South Auskral, through the Haizite jungles, and terminating in Darussalem. (A disputed line and a lot of lease payments kept an artery to Dire Dire Docks to the north.)

The sands of the Dry Dry Desert gave way to the harsh steppes of the Terra Nullus. The rails left northeastern TurtleShroom, passed through the Necrontyr's Incorporation steppe and desert badlands, then hugged the coast of the Gulf of Dipper, passing through Hiluxia and all the way to Darussalem. Privatized guardsmen kept these rails safe from bandits, at least until they past near the borders of Hiluxia borders and the Hiluxites themselves would interact with them. From Hiluxia was another huge stretch of Terra Nullus, through some other quiet statelets (recognized or not), and finally into the southwest of Darussalem. That was finally ending.

Everyone agreed not to stop in hostile Hiluxite territory, given that TurtleShroom and some mercenaries armed a violent militant group to fight a local chapter of Homofront there. That meant Agni had not stepped off this train in seven days.

Seven days of waiting, playing board games to pass the time. Seven days of eating dining car food. Seven days of dealing with him.

"DING!"

SEVEN DAYS OF SOMEONE PLAYING THAT CHIME.

When Agni got her pointed fingernails on that illegitimate child's neck or stem, she'd make them hurt more than what she had paid to be done to Nev-

"Agni! Agni!"

"DING!"

Agni heard a voice come from behind. It wasn't the chime. It was her "companion" in this trip. In addition to being annoying, this man was also TurtleShroom's tallest human and its richest. At eight feet eleven, he towered over Azula's dimunitive six foot two frame.

Grand Prince* Bessford Be was wearing his usual outfit. A black, double-breasted suit with yellow buttons. Spill proof, especially since that last time that one Aashinian came over last decade. Long, custom-tailored dress pants. Black dress shoes and bright white tube socks under his pants. The Girl Scout bracelet on his wrist he got as a youth, heavy spectacles matching hers on that pointy nose, and that big, stupid grin on his round, circular face.

His outfit had received an update, though. Since his teenaged years, he used to wear a brimless bellhop-looking hat like a skull cap, but that had to be traded for the pointy tiara of the Majestic Twelve, as Bessford (much to his fears) stood as a potential heir to the Throne of TurtleShroom. He had also been named a Grand Boyar, entitling him to a noble title and a really cool hat. A white cape, embroidered with light grey patterns, hung over his left shoulder and his back. In Slavic countries, the hat was made of fur for warmth, but in the tropics, a lighter, breezier fabric was a must. He had also grown a full, thick beard, chestnut brown in color, like his short hair.

Agni was, for once, out of her usual regalia as Constable On Patrol. Instead, she wore a tight, dark red, strapless, smocked-chest dress that extended down to her kneecaps. It had fire-like patterns at the bottom with black and yellow piping. On each arm, she had elbow-length, black dress gloves. Being a soldier before a politician, she had impeccable coordination, and so her choosing black, six-inch high heels served no bother to her. Agni thought made her feel pretty, though she hadn't put them until now.

"Agni, do you she that land formay-shun just beyond the shhhhore? The island that looksh like it hash a bridge connecting? That's called a tombolo, Agni! Ishen't that BAYSHED?"

Agni nearly cringed. There Bessford went again, using his favorite new word that he just discovered in a magazine from the lounge car.

Describing Bessford, she muttered some very bad slurs in Koyran under her breath.

"Yes Bessford," Agni said through clenched teeth, "that is very cool."

"Are you ex-shhhy-ted about going to Darusshhhh- uh, heh heh."

The spittle. By Bak-su, it's a good thing he was polite enough to stop when he couldn't lisp out a word.

"Sorry. Are you ex-shhhy-ted about going to the Shublime Por-tay?"

"VERY, BESSFORD."

"DING!"

"Someone's going to die tonight."

* = The official title for the member a Tsar's pool of twelve potential successors, the Majestic Twelve.
Last edited by TURTLESHROOM II on Fri Apr 08, 2022 10:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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CM wrote:Have I reached peak enlightened centrism yet? I'm getting chills just thinking about taking an actual position.

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News ticker (updated 8/11/2022 AD):

Imperial police uncover stash of contraband video games: haul mostly consisted of "Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind", banned in TS for its strong adult themes, sorcery, and temporal gods  -|- Official Civil War death count "ten times higher than initially reported", new bodies still found

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Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Sat Apr 09, 2022 7:30 pm

As Agni was dealing with Bessford and that stupid noise, other discussions were taking place in other cars. A little boy had laid the khaki vest over his white dress shirt and fixed the matching cyan bowtie. Over that he wore a khaki suit jacket with a houndstooth pattern. Matching khaki dress pants made him look like an adorable, juvenile ringbearer at a wedding whose theme was "cyan". He hadn't worn a tuxedo since that time....

He shuddered.

TurtleShroom wrote:It came to pass after the delegation from two of the four Commissariates boarded that a prepubescent child- looking no older than thirteen -approached them. He was in an expensive, hand-tailored tuxedo with a white sash and a flag of TurtleShroom crossed over an unfamiliar banner.

Anyone could mistake the boy for a foreign envoy's child or a naturalized TurtleShroomer, if it wasn't for his sky blue hair. Yes. Sky blue hair. The hair, upon closer examination, looked frighteningly realistic: his eyes, his eyebrows, eyelashes, and actual hair were all this pure, brilliant color, seamlessly and to its roots where applicable.'

[...]

This was a Haiz.

Subtle external differences, visible to biologists and observant soldiers, were visible. Aside from the neon-esque hair, the humanoid boy also sported a far smaller nose and ears, and had larger pupils, thicker legs, and a shorter neck. Otherwise, though, he just seemed to be an immaculately dressed kid with a wild streak.

"[...] Before you even think of asking, yes, my hair does grow this color, yes, I am a TurtleShroomer citizen by naturalization, and no, I'm not technically human."


Solomon Finn was a Haiz.

Technically a subspecies of man, the Homo sapiens haiz (pronounced "haze") closely resembled human children. The nation of Haiz bordered TurtleShroom until its collapse in a spectacular civil war, in which TurtleShroom managed to rescue and evacuate the population.

A Haiz's body stopped growing and developing at the age of ten, showing no outward signs of pubescence, leaving them to look like late pre-teens for their natural lives. Their greatest distinction, aside from their childlike appearance and blue hair, was innate. Whereas most animals, men included, had a fight or flight reflex and were able to use force to defend themsevles, a Haiz only had a flight reflex.

Haiz wrote:"Several nervous responses in Humans that are often to fight bac[sic] or resist when cornered are different in the Haiz. Reflexes are much more centered around surrendering, retreating, yielding, coercing, or a general pacifist-like reaction. Haiz are in the Human Species, and are a subspecies to Homo sapiens sapiens[sic]. But unlike humans and the other human subspecies (Paleolithic Humans), Haiz have noticeably different reflex and thought patterns, particularly first-reactions. It is because of this, and reasons of confusion that many politicians and biologists classify Haiz as "Non-Human"."


It had been over a decade since Solomon Finn had been, among other things, kidnapped, bore witness to a slaughter, made to run a maze, attacked by a VERY hungy Magical Ketchup Tornado, and nearly eaten.

Twice.

Not to mention the escapades where he and a future Tsar of TurtleShroom were chained into a spaceship. Poor Maven, getting stuck on that post was so embarassing to him. He remembered when the would-be Emperor sobbed during a chimera argument. How did he feel now that the segregation had ended? The two inseparable friends had not spoken outside of the phone since the Civil War, but this summer, he was finally going back into service, not just as Master of Ceremonies, but as Chief Over-Chamberlain of the entire Imperial Court! Today was his first official mission, something he was consistently remind by the necklace he wore that was full of several dozen keys. On his hip was another keychain with ID cards, magnetic card readers, and more keys. Each one accessed doors in the Chancellery Palace, in Capitol Land and the legislative buillding, and in several other offices in Jonesboro. Solomon and the rest of his kind had weathered out the brutal war by sheltering in place in their villages and towns, and with the organization of the new TS state complete, it was time to get back to the big leagues.

"I feel like one big keychain."

"Is that a bad thing?"

"No ma'am, not at all. Look, for example, how it jingles when I shake my shoulders!"

The tortoise laughed as Solomon demonstrated by shaking the chain of office; this was his classic technique of employing humor when dealing with nervousness and was a coping mechanism since the Dark Harvest. The tortoise reminded herself that Solomon was not a child, which was against all visible logic. He was in his forties, and the only remote evidence was that he now had to wear thin glasses and his brilliant blue hair was balding right at the edge of his forehead.*

Sitting in the sofa and reading a book was an Oriental man in an orange, hooded cloak. This member of the Order of the Nuclear Football came from the same lineage as other guardsmen of the same. Before TurtleShroom developed atomic weapons, his order coordinated iteneraries and scheduled foreign metings, calling diplomats and arranging security for any official named as Designated Survivor. His distinctive, spiked hair and sunglasses was common in his family. This man, who is always nameless as per his oaths, was trusted with the Nuclear Football, because for this trip, Solomon was the Designated Survivor. (Agni, as an elected Executive Cabinetman, outranked him, but she doesn't get to be the Designated Survivor.)

Several Chancellery Guardsmen were also on the train. Only one was to join the delegation.

Then, Solomon immediately perked up. Haiz, unlike men and even unlike the sapient mushrooms' weak telekenisis, were actually capable of psychically interfacing with mysteries like the Darussalemite Noo-sphere, though not whatever devilry the Menelmacaris were up to. Or the Ketchup Tornado, for that matter.

Darn that stupid Ketchup Tornado.

It was that psychic sense that Solomon recognized.

"We're almost there!"

The empty steppes gave way to row upon row of buildings, the ocean only occasionally viewed. Each building had signs and flashing lights on it, and dancing holographs of a figure, though the train was moving too fast to discern what it was honoring.

The pint-size chamberlain ran over to the window in the opposite side of the train. There, as the train was beinning to round the corner of the coast, finally, slowly going north-northeast instead of east, were the glistening spotlights of Serendip, cast into the air like a movie award show. The city itself radiated in splendid, multicolored lights. Even with the interrupting buildings and their own array of glowing signs, nothing could match the city, shining like a star. Solomon stepped back and rubbed his eyes as he pulled down the shade.

The train, going hundreds of miles a hour, would only reach the actual city one hour later. Passing a tunnel out of the last of the Sprawl ghettoes, the massive diesal train rolled into the wooden clapboard station. This station was simple, because it was on the outermost parts of the massive Serendip metropolis. The station was the last TurtleShroomian-built station. All other stations manned by TurtleShroom were in the Sprawl. The stations deeper in were stuffed to the brim, owned by the profit-hungry magnates, viziers, and admistrators of this mighty city.

The usual, quaint wooden sign hung from the rafters at the station platform, announcing the location.

"SERENDIP METROPOLITAN CHECKPOINT: OUTERMOST RING. NON-SPRAWL COMMUTER LINE."
"THE GREAT ZAMORIN GREETS YOU. WELCOME TO SERENDIP."

The station was TurtleShroomian built, but its atmosphere wasn't. Immediately, they were bombarded with advertisements. Advertisements on the automatic scanner. Advertisements on the automated turnstyles. Advertisements under the wooden sign. Advertisements on the bathroom doors. Each one was a paper thin, almost mesh-like screen that rolled up like a mat. Organic Light-Emitting Diodes allowed for such thinness, removing the need for the inverter and backlights of LCD (TurtleShroom's finest screens)** and even the parts needed for a LED display**.

According to the OLED screen baring a clock on the station's wall, which measured not only in milliseconds but in thousandths, the train was nine minutes, eight milliseconds, and nineteen thousandths of a second late.

On the bottom-left corner of the screen, a Chibi rendition of a fat man, bedecked in jewels with splendid robes, and an ornate, southeastern-style Oriental crown danced the "Carameldansen" dance in sync with each second. He was mocking them. He knew they were late, and TurtleShroomers should never be late.




* = { OOC: My uncle lost his hair at twenty-five. Haizes aren't immune to againg at all.The body of a Haiz may not age externally due to no real pubescent muscle and bone growth, but Haizes die natural deaths and do experience other symptoms of again. }

** = { Me flexing my professional certifications, is all. No biggie. }
Last edited by TURTLESHROOM II on Sat Apr 09, 2022 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jesus loves you and died for you!
CM wrote:Have I reached peak enlightened centrism yet? I'm getting chills just thinking about taking an actual position.

Proctopeo wrote:anarcho-von habsburgism

Lillorainen wrote:"Tengri's balls, [do] boys really never grow up?!"
Nuroblav wrote:On the contrary! Seize the means of ROBOT ARMS!
News ticker (updated 8/11/2022 AD):

Imperial police uncover stash of contraband video games: haul mostly consisted of "Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind", banned in TS for its strong adult themes, sorcery, and temporal gods  -|- Official Civil War death count "ten times higher than initially reported", new bodies still found

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Right-wing Utopia

Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Sun Apr 10, 2022 1:11 pm

"On the Edge of Madness."

That's the saying about the Darussalemite wastes and the whispers of the TurtleShroomian diaspora in the country's Sprawl slums.

TurtleShroomers knew the old saying, that those in the Core Cities were actually conservative and even Halal-compliant. That the debauchery is a "hood rat's" game. The hookers are in the backrooms of sleazy hostels. So the story went.

"On the Edge of Madness."

The TurtleShroomers prepared to disembark the train. Agni, Solomon, Bessford, the Nuclear Football guardsmen, and one Chancellery Guardsman, this one a mushroom, would represent the country. They were going to march to the summit in order to take in the sights; this was announced head of time. The city of Serendip had the best security money could buy, and if it didn't, Agni and the Guardsmen had, respectively, sidearms and a Kalishnikov.

This was for the experience, but also for practicality.

No one was taking the sinister subway.

{ OOC: Someone shared a song with me that made me think of my childhood best friend. I played this song while writing this and I think it rather fits the building excitement for the TurtleShroomers. }

The pouring rain did nothing to stop the TurtleShroomer's eagerness to walk, as each one had been provided a raincoat emblazoned on the back with the image of that fat man- who the TurtleShroomers increasingly came to believe was the city's mascot -and a huge umbrella.

One thing Darussalem knew when it dealt with TurtleShroom was to impress them. Serendip was sure to give them such euphoria and then some.

A tall pole topped with a Chi-Roh bore a massive TurtleShroomian flag, trimmed with the traditional yellow tassles and fringe. Solomon was the one lucky enough to carry it; he had to cast lots with Bessford to see who would wave it. It was almost twice his childlike four foot ten height and heavy to boot. His little hands gripped it as (paid) bystanders applauded the arrival of the homely designation from the Land of Power. He got more excited in waving the flag as the city manifested itself outside of the automated clapboard station. The TurtleShroomers hoisted their umbrellas upward and drew the hoods on the raincoats.

It was time to begin.

The glitz and glamor of Serendip greeted them, as the advertisement-laden and automated, but still familiar, wooden train station gave way to the bustling sights and sounds of a city of opulence unlike anything TurtleShroom's largest cities had ever known, and ever would know.

Men and women, some human and some not, some veiled and some not, walked along the sidewalks under a rainbow of colored umbrellas. Sometimes, everything was a light blue color, like that of a traditional hologram, but then the colors would shift. Every sign had its own logo, every animation its own unique medium. All were intended to reach out and capture the interest of a buyer.

Agni looked at the billboards that lined every floor of every tower. Agni mused to the Chancellery Guardsman as she walked, looking to the walls of the towers, her very high heels clacking on the immacuately paved road that had not a pothole in sight.

"Litlin has those billboards on every facade too."

The mushroom Guardsman checked to see if his Gatling gun was properly stored on his back as he lightly floated his sidearm just a little out of his leather holster, sort of like how a man would hold his hand over his gun before drawing it.

TURTLESHROOM II wrote:
TurtleShroom wrote:(This was referring to the dress of a mushroom Guardsman, but it should be obvious how men wear it from this.)

A specially made, portable and updated Gatling hand-cranked machine gun... the Gatling gun given to all elite bodyguards holstered to the black [robe] that was worn around his stem. [Under that, he] also wore a black tie in accordance with the prescribed dress of his corps, and sported a really cool pair of dark sunglasses. Lower on his body and affixed to the cloth was a belt of weapons. It was adorned with tasers, pistols, revolvers, semi-automated weapons, more than enough ammunition for hours’ of fighting, hornet spray, tear gas, and one kit for assembling a Molotov Cocktail.



"Yeah, but it ain't no animated stuff."

"Indeed. I thought that was a capitalist thing tied to us Orientals, but it seems the Darussalemites do it too. Nothing like what I grew up with in Koyro."

"I concur."

The mushroom was himself impressed, but focused on his mission. Bessford and Solomon were absolutely euphoric at their great adventure. The gargantuan, nearly nine foot human would talk to his Haiz buddy by leaning over like a girafe's neck, occasionally exposing the cuffs of his pants to the downpour. Both of them were giggling and chattering as would children.

As the procession continued, Agni, being ever observant, noticed how quickly the roads and intersections returned to their usual state, caked in vehicles and throngs of men. Almost immediately after the intersection was cleared, the hustle and bustle of city living returned. It gave her some semblance of the tales of the Jewry and the Christians, where the waters were parted, one to the left and one to the right, and how it closed as cleared the path, drowning the Egyptians.

Every now and then, the procession would see Darussalemite Islamic mosques and Islamic community centers. The mosques, stunning in themselves, were lit up and equally adorned with lights and glitzy signage, which was something the TurtleShroomers found rather un-Islamic.

Of course, this was not un-Islamic. Not to the Darussalemites.

The TurtleShroomers were briefed on these. Most of the population follow any number of Sufi (Islamic mysticism) sects of Islam, each with its own rites, whirling dervishes, Noo-spheric experiences to enhance one's spirituality, and daily prayers to Allah and his cohorts, both mainstream and mundane.

What they wouldn't see was the Azradi denomination. Different than, but originating from the Sufi Islam practiced in the country, it was the interpretation recognized by the Darussalemite Caliph, Caliph (and Emperor) Iskandar Ma'ad, and his dynasty.

Peacocks were the national animal of Darussalem, and their gorgeous motifs and patterns were popular both in architecture and fashion in the country. For instance, in Ibadi Islam, the peacock was an agent of death because he was the usher of Islamic Satan (as the tempting Serpent) into the Garden of Eden. This tradition existed in other Islamic folklore, including in Darussalemite Islam, which has its own unique tradition. Regardless of the stigma, Azradi Islam came to be symbolized, ironically, by the peacock, and with it, Darussalem herself. TurtleShroom knew about it, and so did the Darussalemites, but Solomon's hope that he could see some Azradi structures were dashed.

Throughout the journey, dancing holograms of the same fat man as the train station's Chibi depiction appeared in alcoves and statuary from time to time, though the billboards and flashing signs seemed to feature other content, from soda ads to casinoes and buffets. Solomon, still waving the banner to scattered applause, suddenly stopped.

After several hours of leisurely walking, they had come very close to their destination. In fact, this was the site at which they were told to meet.

What a sight the site was.

That same fat man on the train clock and on various holographic art pieces was now depicted in a hologram taller than any nearby building in the city. Draped in jewels and robes, his ornate crown, bedecked in a fitting Southeast Asian style, was illuminated, as if ribbon dancers encircled him, by light-up drones that danced and swayed. Having approached the "statue" to the side, the TurtleShroomers walked around the quare to see the statue from up front, craning their heads into the crying sky. Sometimes the hologram waved, other times it stood still, but it was always smiling.

Above it, glistening in the night sky, were stationary lights.

"WELCOME TO SERENDIP! WELCOME TO DARUSSALEM!"

Agni thoroughly enjoyed the man's enthusiasm. That man is a king- all the TurtleShroomers figured out he wasn't a mascot simultaneously -and he displays his regality in a matter befitting a man of his staiton. She grinned, imagining a statue of herself being erected one day.

Except hers would be bigger.

Meanwhile, Bessford and the other TurtleShroomers wrinkled their noses, their huge grins dampened slightly, at the ego of such a man. To put himself as a cartoon on a clock's screen? Little holographic "statues" of him in parks and squares? His image on the very clothes with which they kept dry? On their umbrellas? On the back of their "I VISITED SERENDIP AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS AMAZING T-SHIRT" shirts, emblazoned on the front in at least ten languages?

It was a good thing he wasn't on every billboard. If it had come to that, the TurtleShroomers would have mistaken the man's ego for a cult of personality.

Now, that would be awkward!

A limousiene pulled up to greet the TurtleShroomers. A dark skinned man, ambiguously brown, looking like some mix of Indian descent and a dozen races in between, welcomed them.

"Saalam, TurtleShroomers. I hope you've had fun so far."

All the TurtleShroomers, even Agni, found themselves nodding eagerly, smiling widely. They climbed into the vehicle and found themselves being taken up a hill to the palace at which they would meet.

Ascending the foothills was the canal that put Serendip on the map; it could be seen even through the rain. In the distance, the cargo ships tens of stories high, carrying goods from the Tokugawa Ocean into the Gulf of Dipper, connecting the former to the latter, and proving a sea path to the Frizzle Ocean (or, as those who commanded the Gulf and the ocean called it, the "Navigatic" Ocean). Its lights were blurred slightly by the rain, giving a peaceful glow into the tinted windows of the beautiful vehicle.

Ornate glass bottles of Coca-Cola, served on ice in Medditerranean style, sat in the center "coffee table" of the ornate vehicle.The TurtleShroomers (except the poor mushroom) gladly partook in the soda, popping off the bottles with gold-plated bottle openers. Guess whose face was on the openers again?

The TurtleShroomers felt bad for the mushroom, until he was directed to a miniature refridgerator. For him, sitting in a crystal cup with a gold-plated spoon, was spoiled meat, frozen and ground like pudding. It was topped with whip cream.

"Good glob, I must be dreaming."

The TurtleShroomers decided to partake in a toast. Agni, always standing up to lead (more like b ring attention to herself), was the one to speak.

"Gentlemen, a toast. To Darussalem, to the hospitality of Serendip, and to lasting peace on Nationstates and goodwill to men. Let us raise our glasses to the Valkian League, that Leage of Valkia. To mutual prosperity and to that fat man losing some weight! Who here can drink to that?"

"Yee haw!"

The TurtleShroomers, in traditional Slavic fashion, clinked their bottles so some of the Coke poured into each other bottle. (The mushroom raised his spoon instead.)

"To your health! Let our dreams come true!"

After speaking unanimously, and as was custom, each TurtleShroomer downed the entire contents of the Coca-Cola. There were more on ice, anyway.

Today was going to be a great day.
Last edited by TURTLESHROOM II on Sat May 14, 2022 11:47 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Darussalam
Minister
 
Posts: 2478
Founded: May 15, 2012
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Darussalam » Sat Apr 16, 2022 10:05 am

As one drove through the uphill streets of the suburbs of Ratna Parbat, less than an hour's drive from the downtown core, the metropolitan rush slowly abated, replaced by resorts and private mansions of Serendip’s wealthy partially concealed by shady jacaranda trees that lined the roadside. The roads are quieter, smaller, and largely empty, while ornate street lights warmly lit them over the thunderous downpour. The bizarre parade of advertisements that one encountered in the downtown vanished, at least for those without Noospheric access. Even most realspace signs indicating the location of the businesses in question were significantly more subdued. Calm like a garden in midst of the restive megalopolis, Ratna Parbat was where the high society of Serendip indulged in earthly pleasures on weekends before returning to their glittering penthouses, ranging from simple relaxation insulated from sensory invasions by lush greenery to other pleasures of mind and flesh more complex, exquisite, and certainly more costly than those available downtown.

Among all the opulent retreats of Ratna Parbat, few matched the conference’s venue, Bihisht Bagh, a complex of sprawling gardens and villas built throughout a gently sloping terraced hillside, in its size and grandeur. The stone-fenced entrance next to the primary road of Ratna Parbat gave way to its uppermost level: a stately pavilion which exterior was dominated by a massive hip-and-gable roof, surrounded by red shamiana awnings on every side to shield the arriving entourages from rain upon stepping out of their cars. Journalists had gathered from four corners of the world, huddling outside underneath the shamianas and their own umbrellas and shivered from the occasional splash of rain, gripping their notes and cameras and an assortment of other information recording and storage devices. Gendarmes of Serendip roamed in black raincoats, while the air above occasionally thickened by the buzzing of coalescing swarmbots, almost indistinguishable from the raindrops, surveilling the landscape to weed out potential troubles or their makers.

Three persons were distinguished among many who positioned themselves throughout the pavilion in preparation of the delegates’ arrival as direct representatives of the Imperial Court. The first went by the name of Afshin: a bespectacled man nearly but not quite six feet tall, with an appearance that misleadingly indicated his age to be in late twenties, dressed in a fine black knee-length coat belted by a thick white sash matched by his white trousers, his head topped by a two-piece crimson fan-shaped turban. The second was a woman of slightly older appearance, five feet tall, dressed in gold-embroidered indigo caftan tunic with a thin dupatta shawl slung on her shoulders, who called herself in official capacity Al-Khayzuran. The third was a far younger man, in an ornate dark myrtle tunic over white lower garments topped with a white sidecap on his head, who went by one of his names Zawba’ah. The three stood on the front porch, flanked by ceremonial imperial carabineers to their side, seemingly waiting in placid silence to welcome the arriving entourages.

There was nothing but silence in the higher layers of the Noosphere. Automated prediction markets in the Imperial Court linked to their audiovisual perceptions began to activate. Em-djinns invisibly crawled throughout the pavilion’s vestibule in various metaphorical forms and daimons buzzing insistently in the heads of the delegates as they kept them in tight leash. Meanwhile the delegates themselves—or their daimons—communed silently, sharing information and data and minutest observations about the incoming delegates and the polities they represented, segmenting the mind that communicated their commentaries from the mind that interacted with the delegates.

“They’re here.” Afshin announced.

One-by-one, black cars began to roll to the shamiana-shaded plaza. The crowd of journalists, now separated behind fences and alert gendarmes, buzzed and snapped pictures as the doors opened and the delegate—or several of them—stepped out and walked to the front porch of the pavilion, a broad octagonal hypostyle with intricately ornamented ceiling, supported by columns of sycamore and pine woods. The Darussalami delegates greeted them warmly—Afshin in particular was keen to profusely apologize for the downpour, as if he was for some reason personally accountable for the weather condition. They politely waved and nodded to the excited snaps of photographers, fired up at the rare presence of faces from the Imperial Court that for the common population appeared like angels—ethereal, ageless, unapproachable, to be glimpsed very rarely in one’s life. The three delegates themselves appeared not to be too enthused at the idea of being photographed, but they didn’t have much choice in this matter. Jinns and daimons whirred throughout the communing minds in the Noosphere, offering information and commentaries.

The first to arrive was the administrative minister of Barboneia, a bureaucrat of quintessentially bureaucratic phenotype. The Darussalamis welcomed the Barboneian minister cordially and exchanged simple courtesies. The relationship between the two neighboring polities was of little note precisely because it was nearly perfectly amicable, per the arrangements between the sibylline algorithms of the Abode and grey Barboneian bureaucracies that functioned in spite of occasional strings of xenophobic Barboneian elected officials and venomous competition between the megacorporations that lurked behind shadows of power in both polities. The reason was simple: money. An intricate network of commercial trade irreversibly formed between them, aided by an extensively-integrated urban corridor between southern Barboneian and northern Darussalami megalopoleis. To disentangle them was of no interest to anyone well-off, even the most demagogic of Barboneian politicians. It was to the belief of Darussalamis, after all, that everything can be expressed in a price, including political campaigns that were originally intended to oppose “foreign economic influences”.

(Meanwhile, in the network that interlinked the Darussalamis' thoughtscapes, the segmented minds of the delegates chattered.)
AL-KHAYZURAN: 「It will be great if all polities of Valkia are just a bunch of Barboneias, but alas.」
AFSHIN’S DAIMON, SHUJA-UD-DAULAH: 「To realize that dream is of course the League's very purpose.」
ZAWBA’AH: 「The Minister looks like a nice person.」
AFSHIN: 「I think so too.」

The next to arrive were a series of much more bizarre entourages.

The North Landers did not represent a state, but rather a network of mercenary bands, priestly orders, feudal estates, village communities, fortress cities, barbarous brigands, and other assortment of semi-primitive social arrangements situated in the terminally freezing northernmost lands of Valkia, barely mediated by the Imperial Shrine of Yoitsu as first among equals. In this respect they were quite similar to the Darussalamis, although they resembled the primitive violent anarchy of the Wastes than more sophisticated arrangements of the Cores or even the Sprawl region. Nevertheless, the relationship between the backwater and barbarous North Lands and the Abode of Peace was more extensive than one might imagine: it was the ancestral heimat of many kemonomimis that peopled the realm, its reputably brutal peoples and mercenary bands were the preferred affordable option to handle the dirty works of self-interested Darussalamis, and many hungrily eyed towards possible treasure troves of untapped natural resources that lay in the sparsely-populated northern lands.

AFSHIN: 「Those damn Barboneians already had a headstart on it, drilling those fields up north.」
(ZAWBA’AH requests context. Context acquired: AFSHIN is an investor of Haftvad Petroleum and Chemical Corp.)
AFSHIN: 「This is why Great Families should just outsource their management to fullstack automation and let the money flows from them naturally instead of their micromanagement nonsense.」
AFSHIN’S DAIMON, SHUJA-UD-DAULAH: 「It is essential for the League’s success to co-opt the North Landers by any means necessary. Positive-sum interactions between us necessitates cooperation and collaboration on the part of their mercenary groups.」
HAREM-I HUMAYUN (CLASS: GESTALT INTELLIGENCE): 「We recommend communication through intermediation of the present head delegate, Lang the Great, and in general the channels of the Imperial Shrine of Yoitsu, to achieve that goal.」
AFSHIN: 「Duly noted.」
ZAWBA’AH: 「The North Landers seem hungry. Do they want to eat us? (expresses amusement) 」
AFSHIN: 「Evidently our cooperation might need some fresh meaty delicacies for persuasion.」

The officials of the Commonwealth were a contrast in comparison, reserved and coolheaded in their military outfits, exemplified by their head delegate the High Admiral of the Commonwealth Navy. Commercial relationship was much scarcer with the Commonwealth territories than Barboneia owing to the former being a significantly more protected market, entangled in complex patronage network of chartered companies, unions, guilds, aristocrats, and obviously its particularly adventurous armed forces, and guided by the brute force of a mercantilist state. Nevertheless to the Commonwealth the Darussalamis maintained closely cordial relationship on par with the Barboneians, for a simple reason: it was the Commonwealth Navy’s assertion of supremacy over the Navigatic Ocean that guaranteed the security of much of foreign Darussalami trade throughout the Valkian continents, leaving to the great Imperial Naval Company the much simpler task of maintaining security in its domestic coasts. The great Asahinan aristocracy and Darussalami ancient mercantile nobility were likewise long entwined by bonds familial and political alike.

AL-KHAYZURAN: 「Don’t mistake their seeming appearance of composure for reasonability, they are still a hotheaded lot. Just ask the Lynxc… (pauses, expresses surprise) Lord Afshin, I’m not sure if it’s prudent to harbor physical attraction to a present delegate in a formal international event. I don’t think it would be comfortable for Sir Walker himself.」
AFSHIN: 「I harbor no such thing.」
AFSHIN’S DAIMON, SHUJA-UD-DAULAH: 「I harbor no such thing.」
AFSHIN’S DAIMON, HAFEZ THE SILENT: 「I harbor no such thing.」
ZAWBA’AH: 「(affirms) However, worry not, we are trained in reading each other’s microgestures. The foreigners don’t know any better.」
AL-KHAYZURAN: 「This is interesting though, I was led to believe that you prefer younger men with a happy-go-lucky spirit and physical prowess. Might your taste be a bit broader than that? What’s the deal–the physique? The military uniform? The serious expression?」
ZAWBA’AH: 「He doesn’t respond.」

They were followed by the cheery Turtleshroomer delegation, a bizarre parade of a tortoise, a child, a towering man with childish expression, a mushroom, several guards, and a fiery looking woman.

ZAWBA’AH: 「Well, at least these ones won’t attract you.」
AFSHIN: 「Heavens, no.」
ZAWBA’AH: 「Especially not the woman, for sure.」

Turtleshroom was a bizarre quagmire for the Darussalamis, sometimes literally. Supposed ideological affinities—fervent religiosity, although they worshiped very different gods indeed, market capitalism with great enthusiasm with regards to deployment of lethal forces in its defense—kept the bond between the Abode and Jonesboro nominally strong, but both parties involved struggled to find little else in common. Market access for technological goods was thwarted by Turtleshroomers regarding most cutting edge Darussalami products as abominable in nature. Most domestic wealth is generated through rentier-extractive industries such as oil, represented in the towering delegate Bessford Be, the oil oligarch and one of Valkia’s richest. Transportation access was extremely poor bar extensive railway tracks. Darussalamis identified the polity as the one of high potential: cultural hostility to unions means fewer hostile rent capture attempts from their side, cheap labor constituted a high comparative advantage, governance decentralization enabling proliferation of ideals and policies that might appeal less to the more centralized Jonesboro authority, and high savings tendency is a potential for future high capital investment returns. But thus far all the Darussalamis could extrapolate from these potentials is ambition to transform lands of Turtleshroom into latifundia estates for cheap industrial and agrarian labor, chiefly narcotic plantations.

ZAWBA’AH: 「They brought a child as a delegate?」
SIRR (CLASS: ANTHROPOMORPHIZED INTERFACE): 「No. Those are the Haiz, an artificially conceived people which by the nature of their design lacked many naturally selected behavioral mechanisms among other populations, and also physically maintained early-pubescent diminution, although their cellular mechanisms continue to operate normally otherwise and their senescence is on similar pace as normal baseline humans. They are capable of some degree of “psychic powers”, whether this entails manifestation of True Magic or not is unknown.」
ZAWBA’AH: 「Fascinating.」
AFSHIN: 「I agree, but I have to say, Lord Zawba’ah, that you cannot dissect any delegate present. Physically or mentally.」
ZAWBA’AH: 「I can see that. How hard is it to get a willing volunteer?」
HAREM-I HUMAYUN (CLASS: GESTALT INTELLIGENCE): 「We’d guess it's more difficult than most others. We haven’t dealt with a Haiz specifically but they’re Turtleshroomers, you see. You have to pick out someone so desperately destitute they’re willing to undergo what in their mind basically amounted to tainting their soul with devil’s marks for an eternity of hellfire. Turtleshroomers are a defiant kind. Our recommendation: pick the agnostics and pagans.」
AFSHIN: 「I have absolutely no idea about what is happening in the Imperial Harem.」
AL-KHAYZURAN: 「Long story short, we are currently investigating a somewhat unpleasant hypothesis about the origin of South Lander intelligent turtles and mushrooms. Let’s not dwell into it much, we’re going for a snack shortly.」

The following arrivals were people more enigmatic to Darussalami interests: the polities of the eastern coast, the lapine peoples of Seceria and feline peoples of Hiluxia respectively. The Secerians, for the most part, kept to themselves, the Hiluxians, to the understanding of the Darussalamis, did not keep to themselves as much as they should have. Nevertheless both were polities of mildly genial relationship with the Abode, if largely apolitical and limited to commerce and trade: the busy Vanara Canal was a boom for foreign trade in the eastern coasts, significantly reducing the costs of its networks with the the busier and older western ports of the Navigatic, and the Darussalamis were more than happy to accommodate these networks and turn a blind eye at whatever ends the windfall profits fell into.

SIRR (CLASS: ANTHROPOMORPHIZED INTERFACE): 「The position of the Imperial Court regarding the issue of feline emancipation movement for Turtleshroomer Nekolands is unknown, unspecified, deliberately and hopelessly vague, and it disclaims responsibility over the activities of individuals operating from within the Abode of Peace.」
AL-KHAYZURAN: 「I think rabbits are quite adorable creatures myself.」
AFSHIN: 「I personally prefer Hiluxian oil wrestling shows.」

The last, but not the least, were the delegates from observer polities, the Great Civilization and the Eternal Ascendancy, or in the common terminologies of the Valkian realms, the C’tan and Menelmacar, great spacefaring empires that in the past had entrenched their presence over the continents by trampling Turtleshroomers on the crime of attempted genocide of the sapient ponykind, and claimed their spoils throughout the South Lands: reigning over what was formerly Gerry and the Incorporation, their megamachines drilling through oil fields off the deserts of Turtleshroom, their death squads running rampant throughout southern wildlands. In the Abode of Peace too they were present, but as part of the private sector: largely commercial rather than punitive forces in nature, at least visibly. Darussalami entertainers and pleasure artists were sought after in courts and harems of the deep space, great mystic cabals and esoteric clans pocketed crumbs of generous donations from bizarre alien beings throughout the realm, and at least trillions of dollars worth of goods must have passed annually between the great ports of Mesovalkia to the city of Gerry alone.

AL-KHAYZURAN:「Let’s hope they don’t assault the Turtleshroomers.」
AFSHIN: 「There’s no need to worry about it, I think they’re here primarily for their own amusement.」
AL-KHAYZURAN: 「That’s exactly why I’m worried about it.」

After all delegates had gathered, the Darussalamis ushered them to the pavilion’s interior.

The main and largest pavilion of Bihisht Bagh, Aineh Mahal or Palace of Mirrors, was a rectangular marble-floored chamber which name was derived from ornamented mosaic of mirrors that glistened from the ceilings. Latticeworks decorated its walls and its broad blackwood-framed arched windows displayed the panoramic sight of the metropolis beyond the hilly terraces. A massive panoramic hall painting hung the opposite side of the arched entrance where the delegates entered. The painting was drawn in black ink, in the Darussalami style of qalam-siāhi: dark, uncanny, and grotesque, depicting repulsive demons entwined with beautiful human figures that engaged in ecstatic dances and rituals. The Darussalamis, however, seemed to ignore the terrifying depiction of the painting, or at least unbothered enough about it that it seemed appropriate for an international summit venue. Underneath the painting, musicians bearing instruments on an elevated platform played music that gently reverberated throughout the pavilion. At the center stood a large marble bowl fountain supported by twelve lions facing outwards, and above it a fractal brass chandelier hung from the ceilings. Banners bearing a white five-petal flower against a violet background, the prematurely christened symbol of the new Valkian League, were displayed on the walls, seemingly in contrast to the elegant light hues of the pavilion. Four long divans were arranged in a rectangular formation surrounding the fountain.

As they entered, pages dressed in white approached the delegates offering refreshments and drinks on their trays: piles of traditional snacks available throughout the Abode of Peace such as lokums, kenafehs, lokmas, halvas, nougats, and many other assortment of sweets, pastries, doughs, peanuts, cheese, and other bite-sized cuisines, as well as cups of yogurt, sorbet, tea, syrups, even carbonated drinks and wine. Zawba’ah absently-mindedly picked a lokum—a sweet starchy confection that in other polities might have been known as Turkish delight—from one of the trays and munched it. Afshin glanced a look but offered no comment.

“Welcome to Serendip!”

The voice was loud and jolly, and it came from a rotund man that materialized from thin air, standing in front of musicians a distance from the delegates. He was very much like the man who beamed back at them from the advertisements throughout the city, although much more composed and not quite as exaggerated in expression and behavior. The man incarnated almost solid, his every cell recreated into kaleidoscopic light. “Peace be upon you, I think all of you have come to know me through your trip here.” Afshin snickered at the joke he made himself. “I am Malik Ayaz, the Zamorin, as people outside might have referred to me, in my authority as the administrator of the city of Serendip. I do not represent the Imperial Court, or indeed any institutions of higher authority beyond the city of Serendip itself, the esteemed lords delegate present are higher and nobler in ranks than me.” He nodded to the Darussalami representatives.

“However, I am your host, and I am greatly honored to host a banquet of all polities of Valkia for the first time in our history. For this I wish to thank all of you present. I believe that this event, the first conference of the Valkian League, will be the first stepping stone that laid the peace of all nations, and opened the way towards prosperity and commerce for all of us, as surely we all desired. For centuries, this is a goal that the Abode of Peace sought to accomplish—God willing that we might attain it this time, and for ten thousand years afterwards.”

“I don’t wish to linger in my speech long. I’m not comfortable with long speeches myself.” He laughed. “But I will say this. The people of Serendip have long been known for their hospitality, and we will do our best to ensure that your stay during the conference will be as comfortable as possible. Please inform us immediately if you have any problems. And in the coming days you might go and sightsee around our city if you desire. Enjoy Serendip. Peace be upon you!” He erupted into small fireworks that rose to the ceilings, and vanished.

Now Afshin stood, his tone relaxed. “We will begin the conference session shortly, but for now please rest for a while and enjoy the refreshments. Again, I represent the Imperial Court wish to extend our limitless gratitude for your presence, and I am looking forward for our cooperation.”
Last edited by Darussalam on Sun Apr 17, 2022 6:39 pm, edited 10 times in total.
The Eternal Phantasmagoria
Nation Maintenance
A Lovecraftian (post?-)cyberpunk Galt's Gulch with Arabian Nights aesthetics.

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Barboneia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 10558
Founded: Sep 17, 2014
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Barboneia » Sat Apr 23, 2022 6:28 pm

The Barboneians who stepped out of the strange, driverless car seemed more fit for a board meeting than an immensely important international summit; In front was Tapio, dour-faced and unfazed, a slightly overweight government employee of average height and middle age, who strode past the myriad of reporters and camerapeople without a glance. It was hard to believe that this man was basically the second most important person in Barboneia. Behind him, following closely, were Rauno and Jessika. Rauno was slightly taller than Tapio, wiry, his boyish face barely hiding his excitement. Jessika, shorter than both, brushed her long brown hair from out of her face and seemed annoyed by the rain, but otherwise kept her composure among the camera flashes and questions flung at her and her minister. And behind Tapio and the aides were their bodyguards, both around two meters tall, built bodies and stony faces hidden behind sunglasses that seemed inappropriate for such a dreary day. They watched the crowds intently, as if expecting gunmen to rush the group at any moment, or perhaps laser sights to fall upon Tapio's forehead.

But the walk up to the porch was uneventful. To Tapio's pride, the Barboneians were the first to arrive, and the first to be greeted. And how fitting! They were perhaps Darussalam's greatest ally, or at least economic partner, at least in the eyes of the Penttinen administration. It made sense, of course. They were close to each other, quite literally, as they shared a border. They made and sold everything, to some extent, the other needed. And by the 2000's, the Pääkaupunki Megapolis had practically become a part of Darussalam in and of itself in all but name and some more bizarre practices.

Tapio had been made more aware of these facts on the plane ride and the ride up to Bihisht Bagh, and so he ensured he would make a good impression.

"I apologize in advance that Ernesti was unable to attend, and that I am taking his place," he stated matter of factly as he grasped Afshin's hand to shake. "I must confess, I have always been more focused on the inward politics of Barboneia as it's Administrative Minister, and less on external issues... But I will try and do my best to represent Barboneia here." Tapio already seemed to like Afshin, though he couldn't help but feel as though there was something strange about him...

Tapio greeted Al-Kayzuran and Zawba'ah with the same pleasantness, and he proceeded further into the venue, accompanied by his small entourage. It was... Strange. His eyes were drawn to the ceiling, watching his own figure in the many reflections from the mirrors stare back at him, his body contorting wildly and transforming as he moved. The music that was playing was like none he had ever heard, and he couldn't exactly say he was fond of it despite its general inoffensiveness. He also took note of the so-called Valkia League's symbol on the banners. Well... It's a nice enough image, I guess. What better way to represent international cooperation than a flower?

Tapio looked nervous as the pages approached offering all sorts of hors d'oeuvres, and he politely dismissed them. He knew that the Darussalami loved to put... Foreign things inside of food, and the last thing he wanted to be was severely intoxicated, hundreds of kilometers away from home, surrounded by strangers and making a fool of himself. ...I'll ask Jessika or Rauno to order takeout or something later... Hopefully there's a place serving Barboneian cuisine in this city.

Rauno, however, happily helped himself to some sort of syrupy, doughy treat sprinkled with nuts, and Tapio shot him a glare. He didn't seem to notice, however, and quickly went for seconds.

Tapio's quickly souring expression became even worse when he finally noticed the presence of the North Lander delegates. While he wasn't particularly up to date with current military affairs or how the greatly-reduced occupation of the immediate North Lands border area was going, he recognized the animal-eared miscreants as probably being unhappy about it, and hoped they weren't planning on bringing up the Barboneian presence in their lands as an issue. He also, essentially, saw them as terrorists, and wasn't exactly sure why the hell they were even here. Since when did North Landers "negotiate"? Did they even know the first thing about cooperation? He hoped that their Commonwealth handlers would keep them in check... Unless they have an agenda. God, wouldn't that be terrible. What if they asked for a military withdrawal in exchange for a place in the League? What if they planned on demilitarizing that whole border area? What if he was just making up ridiculous hypotheticals in his head?

What if this was all over his head?

He's just the Administrative Minister.

What the hell does he know about international diplomacy?

When the TurtleShroomers came in shortly after the Commonwealth and the North Landers, he nearly gasped.

Why the hell is there a child here?!

Tapio decided to excuse himself to a quiet corner of the chamber near a window, and stared out at the city beyond. The bodyguards followed, while his aides went off to mingle among the other delegates and visitors.

Tapio wanted to go home. He hoped this entire conference thing would be over soon enough.

He knew in his head that it wouldn't be.
Depressing Nordic semi-socialist commonwealth filled with Lovecraftian horrors, man-eating fox people, Finns, bizarre accents, and Volvos.
A collection of some of my NationStates artwork. Updated recently!
Barboneian Prime Ministers, now with pictures!


User avatar
Comrade Commisar
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1563
Founded: Jun 12, 2011
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Comrade Commisar » Sun Apr 24, 2022 5:44 pm

It had been a lengthy journey to Bihisht Bagh, the physical location for discussions regarding the proposed Valkian League. Not for any want of time or distance, but for the efforts that the Darussalamis had gone through to make a spectacle of the event. Of course, for an international league constituting the entire Valkian continent, that was to be expected; but the Darussalamis always had a particular taste for stagecraft. Indeed, with an extensive set piece, a well-trained cast of personnel, a carefully dictated timeframe through an automated commute, and all in front of a sea of journalists upon arrival - it was not something that they would have left merely to chance. Even for something as unpredictable as the weather, the Darussalamis seemed abashed, as if the red awnings protecting the delegates had been a hasty accommodation for a rain that was not supposed to have happened.

After a series of warm welcomes, a short walk, and an assault of bulb flashes, the delegations were lead into the main pavilion of the complex, the Aineh Mahal. The building - like most things on the venue - had been nothing less than an architectural masterpiece, filled with all manner of lavish art and fittings to the eccentric tastes of the Darussalami hosts, overwhelming the senses with a particularly grandiosity that was unmatched throughout much of the region. The running water of the fountains were complimented by the gentle instruments of musicians, the reverberating sound from the large hall offering a certain ambience, while the smell of sweets and savory morsels wafted freely as pages offered refreshments to the undoubtedly weary delegates.

Yet, even all this would not have been enough for the Darussalamis, and as the delegations were ready to settle in for the beginning of an assuredly long night, they were graced by a familiar face - the Zamorin. It should have been blatantly obvious that a man who was present everywhere throughout Serendip would attempt to insert himself into such a prestigious event, especially one hosted in his own jurisdiction, but to present himself as an all-encompassing figure in the center of the room? That took a particular amount of narcissism. For the Zamorin's part, though, his speech was short, to the point, and uncharacteristically humble in the presence of his superiors - or, at least, until he burst into a series of fireworks. Not lingering on the odd behavior of the official, the Darussalami ushered on the conference, allowing for some downtime before the talks officially began.

--


"Tapio Murso; Administrative Minister, Barboneia. Agni Badwell; Constable on Patrol, Turtleshroom." Emily whispered into the ear of the High Admiral as he silently scanned the room, pausing as he glanced at the Darussalami delegation, "Afshin, no known surname; related to the Imperial Court, unknown connection, Darussalam."

Walker made a slight grimace, barely noticeable from his usual stoic expression, but enough to make Emily wince in disappointment. He was a man who had built his reputation as a secretive, but attentive intelligence officer in the Commonwealth Navy. If somebody even so much as coughed in the Commonwealth, he could have their intentions deduced in about a day, and their entire life story documented in less than a week. Where the previous High Admiral, Amelia Winters, had been fierce and decisive in action; Norman Walker was more composed, careful to negotiate the dark side of society that existed underneath the façade of normalcy. To know everything, to know nothing, to know only what you know - these rules dictated his decisions.

Likewise, for a conference of this magnitude, it had been imperative that the High Admiral knew everything about the other delegates, and indeed, the Commonwealth Navy's Intelligence Corps had undertaken a considerable effort in assembling profiles for potential representatives. The majority of information had been collected about high priority individuals - heads of state, foreign ministers, leading diplomats - and had taken the form of psychological profiles, publicly-accessible information, and covertly-obtained information, amongst others. Important names, such as Ernesti Penttinen and Maven Outtacountry, had their lives extensively documented and reduced to a series of footnotes, readily available for browsing and immediate utilization. If politics was nothing but an extension of warfare, then Walker wanted to ensure that he had a decisive advantage from the start.

Of course, no plan ever truly survives intact.

When Murso and Badwell showed up instead of Penttinen and Outtacountry, the High Admiral had been somewhat surprised. The Commonwealth Navy had contingency documentation for auxiliary personnel, but nowhere near as all-encompassing as the profiles created for more 'primary' officials. Brief summaries, enough for recognition and identification, were the most of these reports; and for individuals such as Afshin, Al-Khayzuran, and Zawba'ah, they could have simply been ghosts as far as the Intelligence Corps was concerned. It had been an embarrassing example of the Commonwealth Navy's short fallings - of Walker's short fallings. Something that would not be known to the other delegates, much less the world itself, but the failure to account for something as simple as personnel changes or unknown persons was something that was going to bother the High Admiral for at least a month.

"It's alright." Walker stated with a wry smile, patting his aide on the head, through her field cap, "There might be holes in the reports, but they still include the majority of delegates. That's what's important."

"Coping, huh?" Felis idly muttered with a certain amusement.
"Didn't plan for substitutes?" Grizzly joked, quickly growing silent as Emily glanced at them.

"This will be mentioned in the debrief, and subsequent improvements will be made to the Intelligence Corps." The High Admiral's aide said with a certain professionalism, letting out a sigh as she turned her gaze to Afshin, taking a moment to consider something, before returning to address her superior, "That said, I'm sure that the other delegates were not expecting High Admiral Walker instead of High Admiral Winters either. Some of them might be taken back to a more cautionary demeanor, while others might demonstrate more of an interest to the new leadership - though what interest that might be is still yet to be seen."

The High Admiral nodded to the first half of Emily's statement, although his expression became slightly puzzled at the mention of an 'interest', the concern quickly dismissed as the woman continued.

"Regardless, the previous High Admiral had a certain penchant for pin drop escalation and conflict. Many people will be wondering if you have that same fiery temperament, if you're more reserved than her, or if you're far more aggressive. Try to bear that in mind." She stated in an exceedingly blunt, matter-of-fact way, "There will be few people willing to challenge any policies you demand in light of that, and considering the leverage the Commonwealth Navy has on the Navigatic Sea, I doubt there will be few willing to contest any reasonable proposition we offer."

"You think she's coping for the reports, too?" Felis asked her counterpart.
"Definitely." Grizzly answered, immediately quieting down as the aide threw another glare in their direction.

"She might be, but she is also right that this has changed nothing about the conference itself. The absence of information might be unfortunate, but it is nothing particularly important in the grand scheme of things." Walker sighed, offering a wry grin, before quickly returning to his normal disposition, "Although, that said, I want everyone involved with processing the delegate profiles doing inventory for the next month. There might be a certain leniency for the Barboneians and Turtleshroomers, but the lack of information on the Darussalamis is unacceptable - especially being unable to provide even a surname."

"Hmm... considering this constant stray gaze, I feel like you might get that information yourself..." Emily muttered underneath her breath.

"Hm?"

"Ah, nothing..."

--


"What do you think they're talking about?" Southpaw pondered, gently tossing a nougat into her mouth with a soft crunch, "They've just been amongst themselves the entire time."
"Probably more scheming." White Fang replied nonchalantly, tasting a glass of local wine, "Something particularly dull I'm guessing. You know their type."
"Who cares? This is the land described in the Tale of Red Scarf!" Lang the Great cheered, filling her maw with several pastries in an impressive, if not disgustingly gluttonous, manner.

Situated across the hall from the Commonwealth delegation, somewhere amongst the sea of pages and their various morsels, was the North Lands delegation - carefree and nonchalant in their existence. For all the pomp and circumstance that the Darussalamis had offered for such a prestigious conference, much of it had been lost upon the North Landers, who seemed to be concerned more about the food and drink than the summit itself. After all, the Darussalamis had laid out a banquet, and if the other delegates were as consumed with the superficial intriques of Valkian politics than the actual physical pleasures laid out before them, then that was their prerogative. Technically, the main negotiations had yet to present themselves, and while business was business, it was the mind of the North Landers to never miss an opportunity to indulge in a little hedonism - as a treat.

"Hmph. The Lake Lander looks like he has barely stepped outside his entire life." White Fang gruffly stated, her glance gradually shifting up from her wine to Tapio, "Like a newborn whelp introduced to fresh snow."

"You really have a certain murderous energy in your gaze, you know? He almost immediately turned to us as soon as you started looking at him. Look, his expression is practically melting in real time!" Southpaw noted, raising a glass filled with carbonated soda at the Barboneian, "You don't think he speaks North Lander, do you?"

"He doesn't need to." The mercenary captain stated in almost a growl, locking eyes with the man, before running her thumb back across her throat in a single, swift motion, "The message will get through."

White Fang did not know Tapio Murso. She had never had any previous interaction with him. She didn't even know his name. Of course, he did not know of her either, but this was perhaps for the best. After all, when it concerned Barboneian incursions into the North Lands, there had been no larger mercenary contingent than the infamous White Fang Company, responsible for organizing some of the more successful, coordinated efforts against the foreigners. Of course, that was when the conflict had been particularly heated, and in recent times, her company found themselves employed in the South Lands, conducting operations at the behest of Nekoland and its interested parties. But when it came to the Barboneian border crisis, White Fang had a considerable understanding of the situation, something that did not seem to be shared with the cloistered bureaucrat - something that simultaneously amused, and disgusted her.

"Ah, he's looking at something else now." Southpaw idly commented, tracing the man's gaze from his eyes, across the room, before finally resting upon the Turtleshroomers.

"It looks like the South Landers have arrived." White Fang grumbled, reaching for another glass of wine, seemingly unimpressed as she eyed the delegation before her, "It still pains me that the bunny-eared folk died for these whelps. It feels like a bad jest."

Southpaw said nothing, simply grasping the air where her right arm would have been.

"Look, they are even playing the role of a family." The mercenary captain continued, holding up her glass at the representatives, "How could you say this is anything but a jest?"

"Which one do you suppose the child is?" Lang interjected between bites, laughing as she looked between Bessford and Solomon, "They all seem like fools!"

In contrast to the Barboneian Administrative Minister, who the North Landers had never heard of, there had been various rumors regarding the members of the Turtleshroom delegation, for better or worse. Bessford Be, the eccentric, childish billionaire who once had a small spat with the Commonwealth aristocracy, and who now found himself in a position of power based on no merit beyond his own wealth. Solomon Finn, the physically stunted and exceptionally passive Haiz, that had been so traumatized during an assassination mid-conference during the Dark Harvest, that he had simply collapsed into unconsciousness. And Agni Badwell, who was actually obscure enough to the North Landers, that they paid less mind to her than Tapio, but viewed her as a potentially entertaining addition to the Turtleshroom delegation nonetheless.

"It's definitely the mushroom; it smells fetid, like fresh rot." White Fang sneered, "Did they dig it up from the refuse on the way here? It actively ruins the atmosphere."

"Aha, how naïve of you to believe that the South Landers care for atmosphere. When I visited the South Lands ten winters ago, they promptly locked me in a cage. It was rather curt of them." The High Priestess snickered, daintily placing a lokum in her mouth, turning to her other companion, "And let us not forget our dearest Southpaw here, whom the South Landers so viciously separated from her right arm and eye, continuing to mock her by referring to left-handed folk in their lands as 'southpaws'! Not that I wish to bring up previous grievances..."

"No offense taken. It's been a while since that time, and I've learned to live with my injuries." Southpaw reassured in her usual gentle demeanor, preemptively stealing a lokum that Lang had been reaching for, waving to the entering Hiluxian and Secerian delegations, "Though, it was the bunny-eared folk who took my arm and eye, not the South Landers."

If White Fang had been known as one of the most infamous mercenary captains in the North Lands, then Southpaw was her counterpart in the South Lands. Immediately recognizable from the folded sleeve and eyepatch where her right arm and eye had been, respectively, her history was closely interwound with Hiluxia, Seceria, and Turtleshroom during the Niekas Crisis. Although she was permanently injured during the actual crisis, and unable to lead her Southpaw Company, she had been a close advisor to the Hiluxians as the crisis escalated into a low-intensity conflict that continued into the modern day. Even supported by a Hiluxian field marshal that she had met, and later married, after the conflict, the mercenary captain still travelled throughout the region, offering lectures, signing books, and generally acting as a representative of the North Lands in the South Lands. She had forgiven the Secerians, who had fought against the North Lander and Hiluxian alliance, after the conflict, and even had been willing to forgive the Turtleshroomers, although their continued hostilities in Niekas and Nekoland created brief pause as to that judgement.

"She really does act like a fool herself sometimes, doesn't she?" The High Priestess sighed, helping herself to a sorbet instead.

"Too much time in the South Lands." White Fang nodded, shifting her attention to the C'tani and Menelmacar delegations, "I thought that these negotiations were only supposed to include those within the region, not Sky Landers?"

"I suppose they are here to keep the South Landers in tow. If there is one thing that I can say, the reason that incidents by the South Landers are so difficult to remember is not because the years have been unkindly, it is because there are too many to remember." Lang shrugged, scooping the entire sorbet into her mouth, pausing for a moment, before gripping her head in an immediate regret, "I am not too concerned, as long as the Sky Landers are primarily focused on the South Lands - and only the South Lands - I can tolerate them. After all, they are benefiting North Landers such as yourself, are they not?"

"Hmph. I'll benefit when I can finally spend my coin on a High Lander for the night." The captain huffed, flicking a silver piece into the air, before catching it, "Speaking of, what do you think of our amiable hosts?"

Lang paused, having immediately downed a cup of tea in a vain attempt to relieve the headache induced by the sorbet, but who instead suffered the secondary regret of the beverage scalding her throat. Taking a moment to recover herself, she looked at White Fang, processing the question, before turning to observe Afshin, Al-Khayzuran, and Zawba'ah. After a few minutes of intensive staring, she nodded in a self-satisfied manner.

"Hmhm! They are far from the youthful, charismatic caliph in the Tale of Red Scarf... but if I would have to judge, I would say that the one with the sidecap is the cutest, although the woman might be more approachable." The High Priestess crossed her arms, nodding, as if her opinion was effectively fact, "The one with the feathered headwrap might be nice, but would be ultimately disappointing."

"And how do you figure that?"

"Aha, do you not trust the judgement of Lang the Great, Deity of Harvest?" She jested, huffing her chest out with pride, before letting out a laugh, "He's definitely cut from a similar cloth as everyone from the Commonwealth, or even our own Southpaw. Perhaps he might entertain the notion, but unless you are looking purely for a transient pleasure, it would not be worth it."

"What? How can you tell?" White Fang raised an eyebrow, turning to look at Afshin.

"Ah, a wise wolf always knows!" Lang nodded sagely, looking at the other two, "Though, judging by how you've traditionally frolicked around, I'd wager that those two are also far too delicate for your tastes."

"And what would you know about my tastes?"

"Your tastes are no secret."

"At least I make an active effort."

"Huh? What is that supposed to mean?"

"What else could it mean, O Wise Wolf?"

Southpaw sighed as the two North Landers began bickering, going back and forth in their traditional, esoteric tongue, taking some yogurt off of a page's tray as she idly looked around the room.

"All this talk about dessert, and we've barely gotten to the main course yet..."
A complete mess of a nation known in-character as the 'North Lands'; populated by pious priestesses, wandering mercenaries, violent bandits, and various internal power struggles. Be careful of who you deal with.

Basically, a decentralized feudalistic society ranging anywhere between medieval and interwar.

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The Ctan
Minister
 
Posts: 2858
Founded: Antiquity
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Ctan » Mon Apr 25, 2022 4:25 am

The sleek airships bearing the Great Civilization Diplomatic Service’s heraldry, of the eternal Ankh of the Triarch linked to countless other loci, slipped over the Incorporation Wastes toward the Abode of Peace, their sleek silver hulls cutting through the sky. They travelled without sound, their engines solid state machines that manipulated the basal aspects of reality to fly in defiance of mundane physical laws. The vessels could travel the seas or the skies, and served as a home away from home for the Diplomatic Service’s personnel who owned them.

Senate-Emissary Kurvash ita Thurasid stood on the deck of his sleek barge, content to watch the land slip by beneath. Valkia was not important enough to rate his attention most of the time. The Great Civilization was a vast polity, and it extended far beyond the stars. Only small parts of it heeded any other nation as a rule, and its presence in Valkia was only one of seventeen or more terrestrial establishments on Gaia.

Kurvash’s vessel had traveled from the Corrodines, an island chain that the Great Civilization owned in the far reaches of the world, a languid experience, though he had at times had to cast his consciousness far away for matters that called to his attention.

“Are we in the Abode of Peace yet?”

The question that took his attention was from Amah, one of his companions, who stood at the bow of the ship, eager to see the foreign land with her own eyes.

“How can you not know? You have been this way before.” Another of his companions, Nilufar said.

“I came by train,” she said, archly, “I’m excited to go now though. I have no idea how much I’ve changed since then.”

She was the twelfth expression of herself since she had come to the Great Civilization. Forking a living consciousness into many bodies was rare, but she had chosen to do so, and this particular stream of consciousness had spent centuries or more in the sub-realities of the etheric noosphere that spanned the galaxy, interacting with people, and beings, far removed from the life of flesh and blood.

No one came back unchanged from that, no more than centuries of slow sidereal time in the real, and though her original self had physically arrived in Gerry but two years ago, she was in every way a changed person.



but even so, the Abode of Peace had the distinction of having a small part of it watching at any time.

There had been an initial skepticism after the Dark Harvest, as the C’tani became increasingly aware of the doings in the most advanced of the Valkian nations, and some had advocated for a swift action to remove the Abode of Peace. But such things were not done rashly, and the vast computational engines of the Great CIvilization and mediated on the Darusslamai.

There were threats to the peace of Gaia there, but they were likely not going to become a problem, indeed the more that the Abode of Peace was studied, the more the Great Civilization had to admit to a likely future utility of the land.




Kurvash cut a figure that looked like the image of his people’s cosmopolitan sensibilities, his garments had a touch of the style of the solarian formal, as it was called, but the light grey sherwani that he wore gave a more Civilized cut to the clothing, a style of garment worn within the wider Great Civilization as formalwear for the bureaucratic cross-cultural class, at least among hominids. He wore a sword at his belt, its scabbard of dark wood glittering with jewels of true magic, and its curved hilt showing an elven design in contrast to his human dress and necrontyr heritage, and he carried himself easily.

He was openly accompanied by his companions in lavish dress that took the traditions of the muwaḥḥidūn in such areas, translucent hijab of shimmering silk that showed the hair beneath, held with peacock feather pins of silver. These garments had scripts from the languages of ancient sand-scoured cities woven through them in patterns that made the eyes lose focus and weep if one stared too intensely. Kurvash, as a necrontyr, was unaffected by such things, but few others were. On their chests they wore soapstone pendants with a peculiar, branching sign, and on their hips they wore short, curved daggers of some mysterious Azradi origin. It was rare to see such open display of Azradi adherence, but then, there was a statement being made to some among the faithful, that the Great Civilization understood the nature of the universe in ways that some among the Abode of Peace could relate to.

With them came guards, necron lychguards, ceremonial but very lethal, with wide bladed glaives held like devotional banners before them as they arrived. These were not living necrontyr, but the skeletal war-forms that had brought death to ten thousand battlefields since the end of the Great Sleep. These wore the blue heraldry of the Thurasids, the golden markings of Cyash’s cohort, that had occupied Gerry and upon which countless Turtleshroomian conscripts had thrown themselves to no more avail than an ant chewing a stone.

As the Zamorin of Serendip appeared, Kurvash put his hands together in praise, for now though, he was content indeed to observe.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Hiluxia
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 58
Founded: Aug 31, 2014
Ex-Nation

Postby Hiluxia » Tue Apr 26, 2022 11:30 am

"I would much rather be in Allanea."

Visiting Darussalem was not exactly something that Fatimah had been eager to do, especially not given her prior experiences in that strange place.

It was an alien place to most Hiluxians, devoid of genuine spirit and soul in appearance. This never stopped them from coming and going, be it for work or pleasure, but for Fatimah it was an especially awkward visit.

"It's not that different, to be frank."

And thus spoke Valentinas, Foreign Minister of Niekas, recently appointed last year when the Republic had been established. As with much of the Niekasi people, he fluctuated between a rough and tumble lifestyle and an effeminate charm, beautiful in spite of a life spent toiling and dodging artillery shells and Qeslarian gunfire.

Fatimah felt much more her age by contrast, though she was still remarkably beautiful. Her skin was dark, her eyes glowed a bright yellow. Two feline ears covered in black hair twitched ever so slightly at the slightest noise, alert for any sound. She wore an outfit befitting a Hiluxian political matriarch, never ostentatious but by no means humble either. She was, in essence, what one assumed from a Hiluxian prime minister.

"At least the Allaneans actually stand for *something*, whatever the Darus stand for beyond thrills and money is beyond me at least.”

“Eh, they both stand for the same thing at the end of the day. Allaneans talk a big game about freedom but all the average Allanean truly cares about is money and ecstasy. They care just enough to make sure the rest of the world is in good enough condition to pay for their stuff so that they can keep the drugs and the money flowing, that’s all.”

“How the hell did you become the Niekasi foreign minister again?” Fatima groaned, realizing who her ally now was.

“Simple, no one else thought it was worth the effort, since they figured no one other than the Allaneans would bother recognizing Niekas as independent for petty political reasons. More importantly, I am, if you may remember, a decorated war-hero who has had combat experience against the Qeslarians, Turtleshroom led PMCs, and other insurgent forces. They had to put me somewhere after I lost a foot.”

Fatimah had hoped they’d have just sent some loyal lapdog to their president for the event, but it seemed that the Niekasi were almost more loyal to the idea of a functioning republic than Hiluxia itself was.

“So, how’s that boytoy of yours holding up by the way”

“I don’t have any such thing.” Fatima spoke, her tone more irritated than anything.

Valentinas had his own ride to Darussalem, an effort to hide the more overt nature of their loyalty to the Hiluxian state. Their communication as such was through a secure network, nigh impossible for other Valkians to break into without its Hiluxian manufacturers to aid them.

“Aaaanyways, I will say this much about Allanea. At least the sensory overload isn’t quite as awful.”

“They are quite garish themselves, Valentinas.”

“I like garish, it can be pretty cute.”

“Mreh, I’ll call you when we land, we can figure things out then.”

And with that, Fatimah retreated to the comfort of her room, and the young Hiluxian man that sat in her bed.

***

When they had finally landed, both secured by their respective security agencies, they didn’t spend too much time before heading straight towards their destination, met soon enough by a cavalcade of other Valkians.

Valentinas was, in person, graceful and full of charm. He wore a suit, perhaps more expensive than anything else in his entire life, that hid his lithe but athletic frame. His hair was, in former Homofront tradition, dyed pink, while his lips bore a black lipstick, making him look almost effeminate. It was hard to believe this was the same man who had hacked a Qeslarian’s limb off from what combat footage had been shared with her. With how composed his mannerisms were, one would be hard pressed to believe his foot was a prosthetic.

Alas, everywhere else Fatimah turned, she saw only significantly less picturesque faces.

The Turtleshroomians had brought their own vassals, a child among them. A more crude Hiluxian would have made a dozen jokes about now, but Fatimah was nothing if not diplomatic. Her jokes would be kept to herself for now.

The Barboneians were typically Barboneian. Plain, sheltered, awkward even, either friendly or rude as a result of their inherent oddity. What she knew about their Administrative Minister, however, would make him a bit more difficult to negotiate with.

The C’tani, meddlers from beyond Hilux’s warmth. Their very existence puzzled the Hiluxian elite, bewildered that such a powerful entity from the very stars would bother fighting a war against a land as insignificant as Valkia. They knew the cold hard truth however, sooner or later sovereignty in Valkia would be irrelevant in the face of subjugation by either the Great Civilization, or worse yet, their aelven allies.

The Northlanders on the whole were trustworthy. Never ones to mince words, easily manipulated by flesh and coin. One could not find a more reliable culture in the entirety of Valkia, for they had no words to hide, no goals to obscure. Best of all, they were willing to die for Hiluxia’s goals whenever the need arose.

The Darussalemi host was a curiosity, Fatimah instinctively did not trust him. Something about his very nature felt, like many other Darussalemi things, to be fake, a construct meant to ease the mind into compliance. Perhaps it was a hunch, but Hiluxians were never ones to ignore a hunch.

Nonetheless, politeness won over any sort of blunt opinion.

“I thank you and your people for your hospitality. Let us hope we can make progress towards a brighter Valkia tonight.”

“Indeed, let us join together and, hopefully, establish a greater future for Niekas and others.”

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TURTLESHROOM II
Senator
 
Posts: 3861
Founded: Dec 08, 2014
Right-wing Utopia

Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Tue Apr 26, 2022 4:51 pm

The TurtleShroomers were dropped off exactly on time. Nothing less would be befitting of the country's reputation for diligence and hard work. Stepping her six-inch heel onto the carpet, Agni squinted her slanted eyes behind her glasses as the flurry of cameras flashing overwhelmed her. She eventually adjusted, and waved to the cameras before strutting with feminine confidence into the door. This was the best part of representing the government.

Solomon, Bessford, the guardsman of the Order of the Nuclear Football, and the mushroom Chancellery guardsman had a different reaction. They visibly cringed, providing varying embarrassing shots, startled by the flashes of light. Excluding the mushroom company, they shielded their eyes with their forearm until they adjusted to the flashing. Decorum followed, with the delegation politely smiling and waving to the cameramen.

Agni, from a lifetime in a mix of Koyran authoritarianism, a fiery military career, and her "sleep in the office" work as Constable On Patrol, played a part in her prodigy's mind and well-honed attention to detail.

She already researched most of the delegates.

Darussalam wrote:The first went by the name of Afshin: a bespectacled man nearly but not quite six feet tall, with an appearance that misleadingly indicated his age to be in late twenties, dressed in a fine black knee-length coat belted by a thick white sash matched by his white trousers, his head topped by a two-piece crimson fan-shaped turban.


"Afhsin." Agni whispered to the others who had crowded near her. "Not sure who in Darussalem he represents, but he is a notable diplomat from northern Darussalem. Might have ties to the Caliph."

Darussalam wrote:The second was a woman of slightly older appearance, five feet tall, dressed in gold-embroidered indigo caftan tunic with a thin dupatta shawl slung on her shoulders, who called herself in official capacity Al-Khayzuran.


"That's Zawba’ah** al-Khayzuran," Agni said, barely able to pronounce the name right. She stopped before she added "Ma'ad" to the end of her name.

"No records I could find could tell me if she's a part of House Ma'ad by blood, marriage, or a harem. However, she is a high ranking courtier in the Caliph's court."

Solomon scratched his scalp for a moment.

"Whatever happened to the Caliph, anyway?"

"Well, unlike our Sovereign Emperors, many kings and emperors aren't 'the peoples' Tsars'. They isolate themselves from the public to more efficiently reign."

"Right, but he'd still make appearances?"

"The last time I spoke to a ranking Darussalemite, the Caliph was still but a boy. He had not made many appearances, but his face was well known enough to have pictures of him to hang in governing offices."

Agni placed a finger and thumb to her chin, blood-red fingernails lightly tapping her smooth, well taken care of skin.

"From what the government has told me, and from MOP* records, I surmise that he's completely cloistered himself."

"Why?"

"I think it's a kebab*** thing. Or maybe it just happens more with Oriental emperors. Basically the Caliph focuses on breeding and caring for his wives and kids while the bureaucracy, or in Darussalem's case, the supercomputers grind the state machinery onwards."

"When did he cloister himself?"

Agni knew the exact date that things changed according to TS intelligence and spoke it.

"October 18th, 2017."

Solomon perked up.

"Wait. Wait. You sure that's the day?" Solomon asked.

"Of course. Why?"

Solomon cocked a sky blue eyebrow.

"You didn't know?"

Agni froze up. She did not simply not know something. She kept her voice emotionless.

"What? What happened?"

"That night, when I was doing my usual astronomy fun, I saw some patterns in the stars. Strange, ethereal patterns. Something was wrong that night. There wind started howling. I could detect a psychic disturbance."

Though the door was shut and the lobby warm, a sudden wind gust blew Agni's bangs and the robes of the Nuclear Football keeper. The mushroom caught himself from being blown off while the other TurtleShroomers shivered.

"They are not stars."


Solomon clearly heard the voice in his mind. His eyes grew wide and he scampered off. The other TurtleShroomers looked around, thinking they heard whispering.

"Where did Solomon go?" the Nuclear Football Keeper asked, fixing his spiked hair back.

"I guess to the bathroom. Or maybe he's hungry. Or maybe there's some psychic Coca-Cola ad floating in the air and he wanted some Coke."

Agni had been interrupted by that strange gust, so she adjusted her glasses and continued, looking to the third person.

Darussalam wrote:"The third was a far younger man, in an ornate dark myrtle tunic over white lower garments topped with a white side cap on his head, who went by one of his names Zawba’ah."


"The kid in the flight cap**** is Zawba’ah. I'm beginning to suspect that Darussalemites don't have surnames like we do. Or fourth patronyms, for that matter."

Bessford looked to Agni.

"I can't believe I forgot thish earlier." Bessford noted. " Zaw-bah***** ish a name for a genie."

"Djinn, Bessford. Genie is plural." Agni made a double take. "Wait, Bessford! Where did you hear this? What kind of djinn?"

"A big one, and I learned that when I wush doing bish-nesshhh***** here in the Abode of Peesh. According to Mushlum mythology, geniesh were a third, neutral short of crea-shure created by Allah, from smoke and fire, which is why you see them with tailsh and oil lampsh. When Adam wush formed, all the geniesh were expected to bow and recognyesh man'sh authority. They refushed. Shay-tan and geniesh both refused to proshhtrate before Adam and recog-nyesh hish Dominion, and the rebellion began. They have Free Will and can both be tempted and do good, meaning Mush-lums believe there are benevolent, even beneficial geniesh. Or so the story goes."

Bessford gripped the large Old Believer Orthodox cross around his neck.

"What they ack-shhully are, are demonsh. Even the onesh that think they do good are puppetsh of the Prinsh of Darknessh and sherve his will. I'm not shure if any Mush-lum thinksh Shay-tan is a djinn or not, but geniesh aren't exactly the shame as fallen angelsh."

"So is Zawba'ah a good djinn?"

"No way!" Bessford replied, smiling at his knowledge on this. "He'sh thish short of... uhh, genie king like thing? He'sh mosht powerful on Friday and he whipsh up hurricanesh and whirlwindsh. Stuff like that."

"Huh. Why do you think a person would call themselves that name?"

"Dare-roo-shhhhay-lum Mush-lumsh are Shoo-feesh, which are heterodox mish-ticksh. That meansh their viewsh on thingsh aren't like normal, mainshtream doctrine. So I guess Zaw-bah is a good djinn to them? Makesh as much shensh as the Ash-rod-deesh."

Agni nodded, looking around to the other delegates. Solomon had returned, calmed after a lot of nerves and face washing in the bathroom.

She surveilled the Barboneian first.

"Tapio Murso." she began, pronouncing his first and last names perfectly. "He's Barboneia's equivalent to the Minister of Domestic Affairs.

"Quite cute, too." she thought, curling one side of her painted lips into a bit of a smirk. Of course, this was not the time for any of that.

"I'm not sure how seniority goes in Barboneia, but his is a nationwide office and he's greatly trusted in the government. A bureaucrat's bureaucrat, sullen, calm, and rather grumpy."


The various representatives of the Commissariats were also present. Ugly as sin, and one is missing an arm. Where were all the humans? Just a mix of half-formed mutants and-

"WOW that man is handsome."

She cleared her throat. That was no way to think of such a military genius. She had just forgot how good looking he was.

"The Kitsunes are- wait, is that Lang 'the Great' AND Freya Southpaw?"

Agni smiled uncharacteristically wide. It was sort of creepy. Even the most stoic TurtleShroomers get giddy from time to time. Agni was a big fan of Lang and her company's tactics during the Lynxican-Commissariat War, which she studied both during military school and in real time during the war. She even deployed her own men with some of her techniques during her volunteering with mercenaries in the Homofront-Qeslarian War.
She had to ask for their autographs later.

"Ahem. The Kitsunes are Lang the Great, Fiona Fang, nicknamed 'White Fang', and Freya Southpaw. The former and the lattermost, might I add, have my utmost respect for their work in prosecuting their factions' wars. Lang did some wonders against zombies in this country, against the Lynxicans, and elsewhere. Southpaw directly opposed the Filibusters in the Filibuster Crusade. Not a fan of that, but her tactics were especially fu- brutal."

"Over there is High Admiral Norman Walker. He is the highest ranking officer in the navy of the Aashinian Commissariat."

"Well shoot, I thought Admiraless Winters was still in charge up yonder in Valkia." the mushroom Chancellery Guardsman quipped.

"No, other men took her place after Lynxica's defeat, High Admiral Walker being the most recent. Winters was relieved of command for insubordination of the Congress. The Aashinian Commissariat has had a shake up in recent years. Apparently the Aashinian Commissariat's navy has slowly been eclipsing Queen Mary and the Aashinian Congress' power, morphing them into a stratocracy manned from Grandstand. By the time Walker took command, he was the de facto head of state."

She turned her attention to the Necrontyr representatives. The mushroom Guardsman spoke first, his eyes set on.

"Ain't never seen no Necron in a hijab."

Agni looked, her expression unchanging, as she nodded slightly.

"Neither have I. In fact, I have no idea who that is, but next to her is Kurvash Thurasid. He represents the Necrontyr Galactic Congress and is himself a Necron. I can't tell you how high he ranks of if he's just a normal diplomat, but he is acting on capacity of their massive, confederated legislature. Remember that Necrons initially had living, physical bodies, so whatever's in that machine remains a person."

"Agni, do you think they are Mush-lums?" Bessford gestured to the unmistakable sash and blades on Kurvash, and the hijab on Amah.

"Perhaps, but definitely not Azradis. Darussalemites are Sufis, so they are far more decentralized and tolerant of heterodox thought. Their Caliph, Isaksandar****** Ma'ad, isn't even related to Muhammad. This is unusual, but does exist in historical Islamic denominations, such as Ibadi Islam and various Sufi orders. Of course, any denomination of Islam in most of the country is heavily Sufi and thus predisposed to mysticism and strange interpretations. Azradis, while from the same origin as normal Darussalemite Muslims, are spectacularly heterodox and so secretive that even the Ministry of the Storehouse, after centuries of interviews and studies, can't fully summarize their views. How could a Necron comprehend it if no one in the Land of Power could?"

She crossed her arms, gloved to her elbows, nodding confidantly.

"Darussalemite Muslims, but absolutely not Azradis."

"That seems to be those currently here. The Hiluxites and elves have yet to arrive. Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to find the spiciest dish here and eat nine of them. I am famished."

Commanding as usual, she strolled in those very high heels and went straight to the horse d'oeuvres while Solomon ran over to sample the fountain that appeared to be gushing Coca-Cola with fizz bubbling like a bathtub.

Bessford had wanted to greet the Darussalemites since he came in. In respect towards proper noble custom, Bessford took off his Boyar hat, but not his tiara, and held it over his lower arm.

He bowed deeply to Al-Khayzuran, waiting for her reply before extending his hand, palm upwards, to take the fine lady's hand. As he was almost four feet taller than her, he had to crouch down somewhat, in hopes that he wouldn't intimidate her.

"Good afternoon, Mishesh al-Kye-shoe-ran*****. I am Grand Prinnsh Besshford Be, represhenting TurtleShhhhhrooom. I wish to say that your shaw***** is beautiful! Everything looksh so pretty today; I love all the effort and care y'all put into thish event. I'm ex-shy-ted to meet the ruler of thish tow-"

POOF

"Well, shpeak of Maxsh Barry..."

The Zamorin had sneaked in when no one was looking! -and he was practically glowing!



Darussalam wrote:“Welcome to Serendip!”

The voice was loud and jolly, and it came from a rotund man that materialized from thin air, standing in front of musicians a distance from the delegates. He was very much like the man who beamed back at them from the advertisements throughout the city, although much more composed and not quite as exaggerated in expression and behavior. The man incarnated almost solid, his every cell recreated into kaleidoscopic light. “Peace be upon you, I think all of you have come to know me through your trip here.” Afshin snickered at the joke he made himself. “I am Malik Ayaz, the Zamorin, as people outside might have referred to me, in my authority as the administrator of the city of Serendip. I do not represent the Imperial Court, or indeed any institutions of higher authority beyond the city of Serendip itself, the esteemed lords delegate present are higher and nobler in ranks than me.” He nodded to the Darussalami representatives.

“However, I am your host, and I am greatly honored to host a banquet of all polities of Valkia for the first time in our history. For this I wish to thank all of you present. I believe that this event, the first conference of the Valkian League, will be the first stepping stone that laid the peace of all nations, and opened the way towards prosperity and commerce for all of us, as surely we all desired. For centuries, this is a goal that the Abode of Peace sought to accomplish—God willing that we might attain it this time, and for ten thousand years afterwards.”


The Zamorin had left... or teleported, or something... immediately afterwards, leaving the TurtleShroomers no chance to greet or thank him.

After politely waiting for the applause, the TurtleShroomers replied "Ten thousand years!", as had become their custom over the past decade since the GEIJD population brought it into their lexicon with "Banzai" ("ten thousand years" is the literal English translation).


With that, they dispersed to the food, looking for others to talk to and food to sample. They were all hungry.








* = Imperial Ministry of the Police, which Agni was elected to command.

** = When I was looking through the article and previous posts, I accidentally mistook the woman's name for the third guy's name. When I realized my mistake, I decided to keep it in, so Agni thinks there are two people with the same first name.

*** = TurtleShroomian slang for Muslims. Doesn't have positive connotations.

**** = This is what it's called in the USA. TS does not have this article of clothing in its ceremonial dress, so they derive the name from the USA, who does.

***** = Phonetic pronunciation.

****** = The name TS has always called the Caliph of Darussalem, Ishkandar Ma'ad. It's more phonetically close to, and pronounced as, the Russian "Aleksandr" and the English "Alexander". All three names mean "Alexander".
Last edited by TURTLESHROOM II on Sat May 14, 2022 11:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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TURTLESHROOM II
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Right-wing Utopia

Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Tue Apr 26, 2022 5:24 pm

The Hiluxian delegation was met with, at first, sincere smiles, but the clearly represented Homofront agent was not popular. Thankfully, the TurtleShroomers sent here today either didn't care about sodomy enough to confront it (as was Agni's case) or were naturally kind people who could keep their disgust hidden.

Agni suddenly laughed. Lowering her voice and turning back to her compatriots, she whispered with a grin on her face.

"Hey, I know that [SLUR FOR A HOMOSEXUAL]! I shot his foot off in Niekas!"

All the TurtleShroomers looked at Agni, who had an increasingly crazy-looking grin on her face.

"You did?"

"Yes. I have a picture of me in my office from that day. His name is Valentinas, his surname obscured. Military genius, as good a marksman as me. Highest confirmed kill count of TurtleShroomers in his theater, having personally slain dozens. His men fired on the group of men I was assigned with in Niekas. He somehow detected my stealth maneuvers; he was the first one to do so in all my years of fighting, so I was quite impressed, doubly so because the Qeslarians weren't being retards at the time. Killed three Qeslarians with and the one TurtleShroomian mercenary with me lost his entire arm. He survived, but only because the fairy was also firing on several other units. He sent them straight to the Promised Land. By Bak-su, I think he killed thirty men in that hour with one lucky shot. With our cover blown, we had to immediately retreat, but I stayed behind long enough to nail his foot. I aimed for the testicles, but my glasses slipped."

"What about the hand-licker?" the mushroom Guardsman asked.

"Hush. That's Lady Fatima, the Hiluxites' ruler, their equivalent to our Judgemaster's job in Congress, and the highest ranking official they could send. She may be a hand licker, but we should respect the office she holds."

The others nodded.

Now then. Back to the food.
Last edited by TURTLESHROOM II on Tue Apr 26, 2022 6:09 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Jesus loves you and died for you!
CM wrote:Have I reached peak enlightened centrism yet? I'm getting chills just thinking about taking an actual position.

Proctopeo wrote:anarcho-von habsburgism

Lillorainen wrote:"Tengri's balls, [do] boys really never grow up?!"
Nuroblav wrote:On the contrary! Seize the means of ROBOT ARMS!
News ticker (updated 8/11/2022 AD):

Imperial police uncover stash of contraband video games: haul mostly consisted of "Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind", banned in TS for its strong adult themes, sorcery, and temporal gods  -|- Official Civil War death count "ten times higher than initially reported", new bodies still found

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Hiluxia
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Founded: Aug 31, 2014
Ex-Nation

Postby Hiluxia » Wed Apr 27, 2022 12:17 am

Fatimah's hearing was quite spectacular, ears picking up on much around her at any given time. The Turtleshroomer's words did not go unnoticed, a visible sign of annoyance as she heard it. This was less out of any interest in what the Turtleshroomer had to say, their words were generally meaningless in the face of their actions, but more because of how Valentinas might respond.

She wouldn't have said anything to preserve a veneer of tranquility, but the Niekasi turned and walked towards Agni even so, that same smile still on his lips. Whether he'd heard it, being quite adept at hearing others himself, or merely recognized the face of a seeming nobody was beyond her.

"Mm, say again? Ah, right, I knew you looked awfully familiar. You were the one who ran for the border the moment you encountered stiff resistance, left a lot of dead and living behind while you made your best effort to run from the very people whose lives you sought to meddle in. I wish I could say the other Turtleshroomers that died through the liberation of my country were less cowardly, but lying is a sin, as I'm sure you know."

He drank from a glass of water, the only thing he ever seemed to drink. In truth, she had never actually seen a Niekasi drink any alcohol, if only from a lack of visits to that dreary place. The whole time he held a seemingly jubilant look on his face, turning it towards the rest of the Turtleshroomers.

"Apologies for the interruption. Valentinas Zukas. Former captain of the 1st Niekasi SOF, current Foreign Minister of the Homosexual Republic of Niekas. I must admit I preferred my old job, however, led me to meet many interesting and exciting people such as... hem, I never got her name, actually." The Niekasi spoke with politeness, his tone professional and his smile genuine. Fatimah was impressed, he could feign a genuine politeness in the same breath that he mocked and belittled a nobody, not that he was anyone particularly important either, as far as the Prime Minister was concerned.

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TURTLESHROOM II
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Right-wing Utopia

Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Wed Apr 27, 2022 10:56 am

When she had finished speaking, she immediately noticed the Prime Minister of Hiluxia's cat ears had swiveled. Even before she turned and came forward, Agni knew immediately that the hand-licker had heard their conversation and saw her tell Valentinas, who was also approaching.

Agni raised her thin eyebrows, surprised that Fatima picked up their whispers.

Hiluxia wrote:"Mm, say again? Ah, right, I knew you looked awfully familiar. You were the one who ran for the border the moment you encountered stiff resistance, left a lot of dead and living behind while you made your best effort to run from the very people whose lives you sought to meddle in. I wish I could say the other Turtleshroomers that died through the liberation of my country were less cowardly, but lying is a sin, as I'm sure you know."


"Ha ha ha!"

The smug laugh was characteristic of the woman.

"I've spent years in battlefields, and you know as much as I do that when your stealth unit is discovered, you can't stay in one spot. Had the positions been reversed, and you fled after we caught your hiding spot, you wouldn't have stayed and let yourself get torched right there. An ordered retreat is not cowardice, even when Homofront does it. You know full well that I stayed with the 'mercs' to the last TurtleShroomian withdrawal and returned with another notch on my political campaign's talking points."

She paused, turning towards Valentinas, who had politely greeted her.

Hiluxia wrote:"Apologies for the interruption. Valentinas Zukas. Former captain of the 1st Niekasi SOF, current Foreign Minister of the Homosexual Republic of Niekas. I must admit I preferred my old job, however, led me to meet many interesting and exciting people such as... hem, I never got her name, actually." The Niekasi spoke with politeness, his tone professional and his smile genuine. Fatimah was impressed, he could feign a genuine politeness in the same breath that he mocked and belittled a nobody, not that he was anyone particularly important either, as far as the Prime Minister was concerned.


"Sir, I remember you from the war, and I must say there is one thing you did that impressed me. Since my enlistment in the Flamethrower Corps and my work in both the Civil War and the Sad Days' War, I had used that same stealth tactic with my units of the years, and it allowed us to work together to kill hundreds of men. No one had ever caught me in that formation until you."

Agni nodded.

"My people have many things to say about Homofront, but you are a formidable warrior, remarkable soldier, and a brave fighter. I can certainly respect military brilliance, and you certainly were a soldier above par. No wonder Hiluxia has you as a Headmaster of Foreign Affairs!"

Then she made that smirk again.

"Anyway, that gallantry deserves more respect. We haven't met in more temperate situations."

Agni curtsied and then extended her gloved hand to Valentinas, palm downwards, hoping he would recognize the TurtleShroomian custom and would take her hand.

"Good afternoon. I am Her Police-ness, Agnes Kai Badwell, Constable On Patrol of the Great Bountiful Empire of the United Turtles, Mushrooms, and Men of TurtleShroom, PWN*."

"I'll have to wash my gloves when this is over," Agni thought to herself in Koyran, maintaining her apparently sincere, but feigned grin, ""I don't know where that boy's hand has been. Or what it's been up."

After the conversation finished, Agni then spoke in Koyran.

"It was a pleasure to meet you on peaceable terms. Allow me to give you a traditional Koyran blessing to you and your military courage."

"[color=#4840FF]How's that phantom pain, butt boy? Things haven't been the same since you and your foot were separated! I still have a toe bone in my office![/quote]"

"That means 'May the Party be with you, Bak-su defend you, and may your feats in battle be told for five hundred generations'."

Agni was such a good liar that she could fool lie detectors. For all intents and purposes, the way she kindly spoke those words indicated the truth, that this was a blessing. It wasn't.






* = Pronounced "pone". This name suffix comes from the "Order of PWNage", an early twentieth century tradition that started as an inside joke between decorated officers, who had made fun of one of their colleagues misspelling "OWN" on his typewriter. It is one of TurtleShroom's highest honors.
Last edited by TURTLESHROOM II on Wed Apr 27, 2022 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jesus loves you and died for you!
CM wrote:Have I reached peak enlightened centrism yet? I'm getting chills just thinking about taking an actual position.

Proctopeo wrote:anarcho-von habsburgism

Lillorainen wrote:"Tengri's balls, [do] boys really never grow up?!"
Nuroblav wrote:On the contrary! Seize the means of ROBOT ARMS!
News ticker (updated 8/11/2022 AD):

Imperial police uncover stash of contraband video games: haul mostly consisted of "Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind", banned in TS for its strong adult themes, sorcery, and temporal gods  -|- Official Civil War death count "ten times higher than initially reported", new bodies still found

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Hiluxia
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Founded: Aug 31, 2014
Ex-Nation

Postby Hiluxia » Wed Apr 27, 2022 11:39 am

"The difference, of course, is that you would have never caught us." Valentinas spoke with a smug expression on his lips now. He wouldn't take her hand, touching one another in any manner had unfortunately become a sign of intimacy in Niekasi culture after decades of Qeslarian rule and paranoia over the obscene, simply listening to her speak.

When she finished, he merely smiled back.

"Of course a whore like you would be a police officer to a failed state. Gloat in your dog tongue all you wish about your bout of luck, as I know you likely are, it was worth the death of all of your countrymen in my land." All spoken in the Niekasi tongue, Valentinas never broke his sunny demeanor or tone in the process.

"Your language is, I admit, more beautiful than mine, however, I must correct one of your mistakes. I am Foreign Minister of Niekas, the Hiluxian Prime Minister is elsewhere if you wish to speak to her. I represent the best interests of a people who have yearned for freedom from both direct Hiluxian occupation, a goal your fine nation once aligned with historically, and Qeslarian oppression. It is a new nation, and one that is unjustly unrecognized by certain actors, but a proud one nonetheless."

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Seceria
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Founded: Jan 28, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Seceria » Thu Apr 28, 2022 7:54 am

The bulk of the Secerian delegation entered quite late, having arrived behind schedule due to issues before takeoff with the government jet that had carried them to Serendip, and were treated upon entry to the sight of a staredown between a woman of the Turtleshroomer delegation and a cat-eared man with garish hair. An aide who had been sent ahead of the main body discreetly informed them that the man was supposed to be the foreign minister of Niekas.

No one particularly important then - their briefings prior had noted the likelihood of the Hiluxians bringing along Niekasi delegates to present their puppets on an international stage, and here it seemed they were.

Passing by the posturing confrontation between the two southerners making a scene, the small group received refreshments from the waiting pages - most of them electing to try the wine on offer, though few went for any of the snacks - before turning to take in the other delegates.

The woman to which most of the rest of the Secerian delegation were deferential cut quite an imposing figure, fine aristocratic features arranged into an expressionless mask and her considerable height augmented further by the rabbit ears rising from her head. The image was not much compromised by the bare metal and plastic of a prosthetic leg extending below her knee, quite exposed by the sharply cut business skirt she wore.

Her name was Freja Rosen, Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs - born to a formerly aristocratic family that had served the Kingdom and then the Republic for generations, she was a career civil servant, and though not much of it had involved the foreign service, she felt perhaps not at home, but comfortable enough at this kind of summit.

Her mother had served several tours as an advisor in the interminable conflicts in the South, her grandfather had fought with the 11th Army in Niekas during the war known to the Turtleshroomers as the Filibuster Crusade and to others as the Niekas Crisis, and many others among her ancestors had fought (and some, of course, died) in the service of the nation.

Her own life had been heading down the same path when a training accident had taken her leg, and with it, all those plans - a simple matter, a poorly secured ammunition crate, and a slip, and there it went. Certainly not a glorious war story like some, she mused as one ear picked up the cat-eared man who was evidently missing a foot trading veiled insults with the Turtleshroomer that had taken it.


Taking in the assorted delegates, she began to mentally file them away and match them to the pictures of likely dignitaries she had studied during the flight over - there were the North Landers, she noted, starting on assigning names to faces.

Lang "the Great", a woman whose dossier had been relatively thin but had noted her previous participation in diplomatic talks in the South and the likelihood she would be dispatched here for that, and two women that matched archive pictures of Fiona the White Fang and Freya Southpaw. Lang was dismissed quickly - though she appeared to be in charge of the delegation, they simply did not have the information to make any real judgments on her as it stood.

The other two, however, received more consideration.

Both notable mercenary leaders, the dossiers compiled by the directorate of military intelligence had been considerably thicker than those on Lang - the White Fang's mercenary company was one of the major players during the North Landers' conflict with the Barboneians, and more recently they had come to the directorate's attentions more recently for getting involved in the South, and consequently the woman herself had a considerable reputation as a commander in combat. Someone to keep an eye on, but hard to judge as she did not have any real past with the Secerians.

Freya Southpaw (a namesake she was acutely aware of, and somewhat interested to see in the flesh on account of having been named after the woman, someone who her grandfather had fought repeatedly in Niekas) was yet more well known to them, with a record in the archives going back decades - as leader of the most notable mercenary company that had fought 11th Army during the height of the war in Niekas, she and her Southpaw Company had been a considerable thorn in the side of the Secerian expeditionary forces, and had managed to escape on several occasions where they had been sure of her demise, though at the cost of an arm and an eye. Though it was a long time since, and more recent reports indicated she was not personally hostile to the Secerians, that history could still be a point of considerable friction. Time would tell.

All of them would bear watching, but the North Lander delegation was put out of mind for the moment - they were not necessarily allies, but could perhaps be treated with to align with them on matters of shared interest, primarily in hamstringing any attempt to settle the profitable conflicts in the South, or at least securing an influential position in security dealings of the League.


Next, the Commonwealthers - a delegation led by the High Admiral, Winters' once spymaster, a man so nondescript that the eye was wont to simply pass him over, yet a dangerous man. His achievements in managing to capitalize on Winters' fall from grace to seize power in the Commonwealth and steer them out of the chaos following the War of Steel marked him as someone to pay attention to, and though he had stayed mostly in the background since taking power, there were considerable indications that almost nothing of note happened in the Commonwealth without his approval these days.

Someone to pay attention to, Freja mused, but a reasonable man who could probably be negotiated with...

Her eyes quickly studied his entourage - none of their likenesses were coming to mind from any of the dossiers she had read, and so she passed them over, noting only the likely bodyguards.


"Reasonable" was something she was not sure could be said about the next delegation, glancing over at the Turtleshroomers whose evident leader was still engaged in a pissing match with the Niekasi "foreign minister". Besides the bucktoothed woman, there was a childlike figure with blue hair - a Haiz, curious, but not particularly important - and the monstrous frame of Bessford Be. Two people she did not recognize as anyone important, and an oligarch risen to a position of potential power on no merit except the wealth of natural resources he had managed to get his hands on.

In the privacy of her head, and keeping sufficient control to not let any hint of those opinions slip past her mask of indifference, she made some rather acerbic comments about the choice of delegates from the southerners. An apparent child, an by all accounts incredibly immature businessman and a loud psychopath, going by some of the comments she had heard coming out of the woman while studying the other delegations.

Though the economic ties (considerable amounts of iron and petroleum products used to feed the hungry forges of Secerian military industry were imported from the south) with Turtleshroom cultivated since the Niekas crisis were important to Seceria, and it would not do to alienate the southerners entirely during these proceedings, she felt relatively confident in dismissing that particular delegation for any serious part of the negotiations.

The bodyguards were briefly studied and then dismissed - ridiculously heavily armed, certainly compared to the discreet security detail of lightly armed aides trailing Freja, but more or less a nonfactor unless the summit turned into a warzone.


The Hiluxians were next, and their Niekasi "allies" - she did not have much to say of these people. They were likely to be most difficult when it came to the issue of keeping the League from having too much power to settle Valkia's ever brewing conflicts, given they had a vested interest in settling the most prominent of them. Beyond that, she did not care to consider the delegation too much, she decided, as she took another sip of the really quite good wine. Not that she was much of a wine person normally, and could not tell an expensive vintage from something average, but that aside.

They were likely to become quite involved in the negotiations , but she did not have a sufficient read on them to draw many conclusions about their likely stances, though it was not likely that the Hiluxians were going to align with the interests of the Republic.

Finally, she took in the Barboneian delegation (led by a man she could not immediately place, but one of the ever present ring of aides quickly informed her of his name, evidently one Tapio Murso, an internal administrator), the emissaries of the C'tan, and their erstwhile hosts, the Darussalami.

For the former, the delegate himself was simply too much of an unknown (she made a mental note to ask for a dossier prepared before the next day's proceedings - her briefings before coming here had expected the Barboneians to send Penttinen, someone whose measure was broadly known), and for the latter two, their motives were too inscrutable to predict their actions. She was still not sure what the residents of the "Abode of Peace" were truly after with their efforts to arrange this summit, but the Secerians had elected to play along - though they were not that hopeful about the long-term prospects of this organization (as Valkians were likely to play nice one moment and be at each others' throats the next), it could only benefit the Republic to become involved in the founding stages, and failing that, it was in their interest to hamstring any attempts to settle the region's interminable conflicts.

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Comrade Commisar
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Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Comrade Commisar » Tue May 17, 2022 4:26 pm

"It seems that the South Landers are a lively sort, O Desert Fox."

White Fang hummed to Freya Southpaw as she eyed the Turtleshroomer and Niekasi representatives, who had since filled the hall with a certain, almost tangible tension. There was a brief exchange of glances between the two mercenary captains, with Southpaw exhaling a sigh as a single piece of silver exchanged hands.

"If you truly believed in the South Landers, you would have placed down a gold piece instead." White Fang idly said as she examined the coin, flicking it into the air with a distinctive cling, before catching it in her gloved palm, "For all your faith, remember that coin speaks truer of your beliefs than you let on."

"I was hopeful that they would last five minutes without fighting." Southpaw replied, holding her mouth in disappointment.

"Aha, come! Tell me what they're quarreling about this time. Amuse me."

"It's nothing interesting. Just former soldiers who met each other on the field a lifetime ago. Special forces, from what it sounds like." Southpaw shrugged, briefly summarizing their conversation from a mixture of what she could hear and read off their lips, pausing as Valentinas spoke curses in his Niekasi tongue, "It's particularly bitter."

"It's that sort of relationship, hm?" The mercenary captain gravelly laughed, helping herself to another portion of wine.

"The wounds are still fresh, yet to be licked, but they are forced to tolerate one that maimed the other." The blonde-haired mercenary explained, before tracing a pair of fingers over the eyepatch that covered her right eye, "You know, I might share a war with them, but the battles I fought were three-generations separate from the ones they did. I have had time to get over my feelings. They have not."

"What? Are you going to recite the Tale of the Wolf Mother to me, O Wise Fox?"

"Did you not ask to be amused, O Warrior Wolf?" Southpaw teased with a smile.

"Hah!" White Fang chuckled at the retort, finishing her wine with a single, decisive effort, "I did. However, I desire a different amusement."

Placing the empty glass on an attendant's tray, the white-haired mercenary looked around the room. There was a certain disinterest in her gaze, not glancing over most of the delegates for more than a second, briefly pausing when her eyes fell over the Hiluxian and Secerian representatives, before subtly shaking her head in dismissal. Seeing the Barboneian aides making small talk, she traced their delegation back to a meeker, yet far more important man, apparently hiding in the corner of the hall. Brandishing a wide grin, she began walking in his direction purposefully, like a wolf that was closing in on its kill.

"Where are you going?" Southpaw asked, mildly confused to the endeavor.

"These folk are far too fragile for my preference, and seeing as I won't be able to spend my well-earned coin until sunset, I have to entertain myself until then." White Fang stated, offering a brief wave to her counterpart as she continued walking, "Merely gasping a whelp by the scuff of their neck. Nothing too troublesome, I assure you."

"Don't antagonize the Lake Landers too much." The blond-haired mercenary sighed.

"Me? Of course not!"

Southpaw did not seem particularly convinced, but made no effort to stop White Fang as she briefly met with the aides, offering a polite greeting in that gravelly, harsh voice of hers. It was questionable if the Barboneians quite understood the mercenary captain, considering she spoke to them in North Lander - and even then - her Far Northern accent was present enough to where even her fellow North Landers found her unintelligible at times. Nevertheless, her intentions were conveyed well enough that the aides pointed her to Tapio, perhaps with some minor reservation, but likewise did little to get in her way.

"If you stay in a corner like this, the other folk will be keen to notice." She stated in her native tongue, exchanging glances with the administrative minister's security detail, as if to request his North Lander bodyguard to translate for her, before continuing, "You look like a newborn whelp, fresh from its mother's womb, cowering at the first sign of light."

The Far Northerner was not particularly tall by North Lands standards. She was roughly a head shorter than Lang, and only roughly half a head taller than Freya Southpaw, who had the excuse of being younger than her by a considerable margin. Yet, she sold well over a head above Tapio, perhaps two, mirroring the stature of his bodyguards rather than the man himself - a fact that she liberally abused, leaning over him as she spoke.

"Hmm, thinking about it, while the other delegates are out making merry with food, drink, and conversation before the talks - you are here, making yourself scarce?" White Fang noted in a mock thoughtfulness, leaning closer to the man's face as she stared him straight in the eye, "Why would that be, I wonder? I thought the Lake Landers were a brave, proud folk, unpausing in even thought as they marched forward, into the barren tundra and wastes? Or maybe, perhaps, there is something - or someone - here, that strikes fear even into the hearts of the fearless Lake Landers?"

She grinned wolfishly, placing an arm around Tapio as she motioned her way beside him, looking around the hall at the other delegates with him.

"I wonder who it could be! Could it be the South Landers, who so brazenly fight even now? A possibility, but they would slaughter themselves first, and any other casualties would simply be collateral. I doubt it would be the High Landers, for while exotic as they are, your folk seem to get along just fine. Hmm, perhaps the Sky Landers, who came here to punish the South Landers for their sins, and now continue to exist ominously in these lands?" White Fang taunted, depositing the silver piece she won earlier from Southpaw into the Barboneian's hands, "Don't worry, Lake Lander, for as another North Lander, 'friends' of your folk, I shall stand guard beside you until the danger subsides."

"It is the least I can do after everything the Lake Landers have done." White Fang stated, tightening her grip across the man's shoulder.

The Far Northerner smiled. She had been mildly concerned about raising a fuss like the Turtleshroomers and Niekasi from earlier, but given that nobody had actually bothered to interfere with the spat, and given that Tapio had saw fit to hide himself in a dark corner away from prying eyes, everything seemed far too opportune. The Administrative Minister seemed somewhat hesitant to raise attention to himself, and even if his bodyguards were present, they were powerless to restrain another delegate unless they harmed him directly - not that she was particularly worried, even if it did come to that. Until the conference officially started, or until she grew bored - whichever came first - White Fang effectively had free reign to accost the Barboneian.

"Aha, how foolish of me." The white-haired mercenary laughed, placing a hand on her head in a faux embarrassment, "I forgot that not everyone recognizes me, especially without my company or my device. It was very rude on my part to assume such things, so let me extent my formal greetings to you, Lake Lander."

"I am Fiona the White Fang, Captain of the infamous White Fang Company."
A complete mess of a nation known in-character as the 'North Lands'; populated by pious priestesses, wandering mercenaries, violent bandits, and various internal power struggles. Be careful of who you deal with.

Basically, a decentralized feudalistic society ranging anywhere between medieval and interwar.

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Barboneia
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Founded: Sep 17, 2014
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Barboneia » Tue May 17, 2022 8:20 pm

"So, the TurtleShroomers and the Hiluxians are already at each others throats? How long has it been, less than an hour?" Jessika sounded completely exasperated. She scrolled through documents upon documents on her tablet, occasionally typing out a quick note and otherwise looking quite busy. "Rauno, please take this a bit more seriously. If we end up watching some get chucked out a window or getting shot or something else equally ridiculous, I want you by my side, and not stuffing your face with strange delicacies." But Rauno appeared too busy doing exactly that, alternating between sips of a dark brown soda and bites of what looked like a long log of cheese or something similar. At the same time, he was making pleasant conversation with a page who seemed more interested in attending to the other delegates than speaking to the gluttonous Barboneian. "You know, I used to only drink this stuff during the holidays or birthdays, but this is a special occasion, right? What's the harm in it now?"

Jessika sighed, and turned to look around the room, only to be taken aback by the sudden appearance of a tall, white-haired North Lander in her direct vision. If she recalled correctly, this was Fiona the White Fang, a notorious mercenary captain, and someone for whom she had no interest in making the acquaintance of, especially after the threatening looks she had given her Administrative Minister not too long ago. Despite this, however, the North Lander seemed only interested in brief talk, offering what Jessika assumed was a greeting in her tongue (of which she didn't speak), and a brief nod towards Tapio. "Well... I don't see why he wouldn't want to talk," she said, unsure if the North Lander even understood her, and nodded her off as the mercenary proceeded in his direction.

"Was that such a good idea?" Rauno asked, walking up to Jessika with his third glass of soda in hand. "I don't see why not," Jessika said with slight apprehension. "What's the worst that could happen?"

---

Tapio had been quite content in his little corner, staring out at the city. He had allowed himself the small privilege of a glass of water after observing Rauno and some other guests present indulging in it, and figured that there would be no harm foul in drinking it. He had relaxed himself so much that he became quite shocked when he found a North Lander who wasn't his bodyguard suddenly speaking to him! Why hadn't the guards said anything?! In fact, they were just staring at her as she spoke, seemingly confused themselves. He didn't speak her growls and grumbles, and neither did Edvard. Johannes, however...

While he was a third generation immigrant to the country, Johannes did understand a good amount of the North Lander tongue, as it was often spoken at home by both his parents and grandparents, and he had taken a course in it in community college before he was deployed to the military. In fact, he had often served as a translator for his squad members during the Northern War, as most of them only spoke Finnish and, unsurprisingly, most North Landers they encountered didn't.

So while he didn't quite know who White Fang was, other than that she seemed to be a mercenary or bodyguard of some kind, he understood her intentions well enough, and nodded as she looked at him to translate for her.

Unfortunately, while he considered his grasp of North Lander to be quite good, it wasn't quite good enough to completely understand everything she was saying.

"...The North Lander delegate asks why you are by yourself, sir," Johannes said to a very confused looking Tapio. "And asks if you need.... A mother?" He mouthed an incredulous <"What?"> to White Fang, but otherwise allowed her to continue.

"She said that... Lake Landers, which is a term North Landers use for us, are a brave people, but that you seem afraid of something." Tapio raised an eyebrow, maintaining eye contact with White Fang as she leaned over him. When she put her arm around him, however, he let out a slight gasp, and both Johannes and Edvard placed a hand on the pistols they had concealed in their jackets. But Tapio shook his head, allowing this strange breach of his personal space to continue.

"She seems to question who exactly you might be afraid of. The TurtleShroomers or Hiluxians, or the Darussalami, or the C'Tan..." Tapio looked even more confused as he received the silver coin from her. "Um.... She said she'll... Guard you? I don't...." Both he and Tapio visibly tensed as she tightened her grip on the man. It was Johannes' turn to be a bit confused. "...She said the Barboneians have... Done stuff." He stood at attention, however, as she stated her full name and title, and relayed it quite accurately back to Tapio. "She is Fiona the White Fang, Captain of the infamous White Fang Company, sir. And she seems happy to make your acquaintance."

While it seemed obvious to Tapio that his bodyguard probably didn't understand exactly what the slightly terrifying North Lander was telling him, his words were good enough to accept at face value, and the fact that he hadn't been... Dismembered was quite good indeed. And while he still had reservations about the presence of the North Landers at the meeting at all and was still confused as to what exactly she meant by him being afraid, she seemed otherwise to only speak plainly, and the fact that she had approached him in the first place was probably a good thing. Perhaps the North Landers had forgotten their grudges from the Northern War already? He wiggled out of the North Lander's grip and smiled up at her, and extended a hand out, his posture visibly relaxed compared to his confusion earlier. "Johannes, inform Miss White Fang of who I am, and tell her that while I am unaware of who or what exactly the White Fang Company is, it is clearly a prestigious group and it is lucky to have such a clearly competent leader!"

Johannes turned to White Fang, and cleared his throat. <"Tapio Murso, Administrative Minister of the Commonwealth of Barboneia, states that it is a pleasure to meet you, and that he would like to learn more of the White Fang Company."> Johannes' North Lander tongue was heavily accented itself and a bit stilted, but it was relatively clear what he was saying. He nodded at White Fang.

Edvard, meanwhile, simply stared on at the whole ordeal, his hand resting slightly near his pistol still.

---

Rauno and Jessika watched across the room as the North Lander spoke to their Administrative Minister. While they couldn't hear what they were saying, it seemed to remain surprisingly cordial, even if she did appear to manhandle the man at one point. "Well, that went better than I expected..." Jessika said quietly to herself, turning back to her tablet to continue taking notes.
Depressing Nordic semi-socialist commonwealth filled with Lovecraftian horrors, man-eating fox people, Finns, bizarre accents, and Volvos.
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Menelmacar
Retired Moderator
 
Posts: 1023
Founded: Dec 18, 2002
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Menelmacar » Mon May 23, 2022 8:28 pm

“Diplomacy is the velvet glove that cloaks the fist of power.” ~Robin Hobb

ImageImage

Menelmacari Diplomatic Vessel MIV Amalda Cambevaima
En route to Serendip, Darussalam
32 Tuilë 31937


“Wait,” Tercáno Valainistima nos Fordraug asked in surprise. “The Zamorin is an AI?”

“Not exactly, my Lady,” Calanon mused; he was an intelligence officer, and had been assigned to brief this delegation. “The Zamorin is an expert system, or at least is analogous to our expert systems, as are most of his counterparts across Darussalam. He is subsapient, and serves as a ‘face’ for the Serendip government. A personification if you will. In Darussalam the governments, as in many other places, are effectively controlled by a dizzying array of special interests - some of whom are AI’s - however Darussalam is fairly unique in that these interests have effectively dispensed with the middlemen of sapient politicians. They run things directly through a dizzyingly complex array of transactional relationships, algorithmic decision processes, and consensus protocols. It’s all in the report.”

“I didn’t have time to read the report.” Valainistima glanced around the table. “Did anyone else have time to read the report? It was eight hundred pages long.”

There were no takers, and she got blank stares and head-shakes from the various luminaries present.

Sitting to her left was Lord Borin son of Dúralin son of Drâmli, a youngish dwarf-lord from New Kheled-dûm and commander of the Tunzelgathol (or, in TS parlance, ‘megadoomer’) Shlomo. He had taken over Shlomo from his father once it was established, leading the vast drilling rig and mobile city’s controlling corporate entity - which had some long and official name in Khuzdûl, naturally incomprehensible to most outsiders - to be colloquially termed by most as simply ‘The Borin Company’. Boring was, after all, most of what Shlomo did, when it was not crawling about like some giant, awful, mechanical millipede or slurping up petrochemical wealth by the megabarrel.

To her right was Lady Curulambiel nos Fingolfin, here as a trade representative on behalf of the Menelmacari business community. She was absurdly wealthy, and highly placed in the Fëanor Holdings Group. Known as a dealmaker par excellence, she’d earned sales commissions comparable to some nations’ entire GDP’s, most famously in selling ships to an Allanean colonization drive - along with the planets they’d be flying to. She’d also been instrumental in assembling the consortium that had constructed the Serendip canal, a project that was now handsomely profiting its Menelmacari stakeholders and would do so for many years to come.

Next to Curulambiel was Idhrindiel nos Fingolfin of the Mornahossë, chief of security for the delegation and probably one of Menelmacar’s single most decorated soldiers, to the point that this sort of thing might normally have been below her pay grade. She had specifically requested the assignment, supposedly, ‘to see an old friend’.

“That was the abridged report, my Lady,” Calanon mused. “Darussalam is …complicated.”

The Tercáno grimaced.

“We don’t have time to go into a full discussion of Darussalam politics before the summit,” Calanon noted regretfully, “but I can generate a dataglyph. That will do for the time being.”

Valainistima frowned again. When it came to learning fast, the dataglyph - originally a Necrontyr invention - was unparalleled, a complex graphical means of conveying as much information as possible as quickly as possible, to be comprehended subconsciously. The data was rarely retained long term, and when particularly dense tended to cause headaches. There was, as yet, no true substitute for good old-fashioned study, but if you needed to know something right now, for the next few days, and probably never again, they were extremely effective. “Go ahead,” mused the ambassador.

With that Calanon entered a command into his handbrain, and after a few moments a fractally-complex image of lines and colors and shapes appeared in the holo above the table, rotating slowly for about a minute for everyone’s brains to drink their fill.

“With your permission,” he said, “I’ll now move on to our counterparts. We’ll start with no doubt our primary concern, the Turtleshroomer delegation. First we’ve got this fellow, who I think you have met before, Lady Idhrindiel?” Another command, and a portrait of what looked like a disturbingly mature blue-haired little boy appeared above the table. “This is Solomon Finn.”

“Oh yes, we’ve met,” Idhrindiel grinned mischeivously.

“‘E looks like a wee sprout what got old without growing up!” Borin roared. The ‘boy’ even had a receding hairline. Indeed, ‘getting old’ in and of itself was fairly alien to all Menelmacari at this point, of whatever species and while it was not off-putting per se - Menelmacari were certainly familiar with mortals, and there were even a few who preferred this look aesthetically - it was unusual, and tended to stick out.

“That’s how the Haiz do,” Calanon answered. “They were taken in by the Turtleshroomers,” the way he said ‘taken in’ suggested he meant it as a double entendre, “after a war they badly lost, mostly because they’re entirely pacifistic. Their origins are unknown, though they share genetic history with humans. The overwhelming leading theory though is that they were a former slave or servitor race, humans taken and genetically altered by an unknown aggressor to remove all aggression and make them more pliable to commands. Making them remain physically children all their lives, though, seems to render them unsuitable to physical labor as well, so I’m not going to speculate as to why anyone would want this trait in their slaves.”

“That got dark fast, lad,” Borin muttered.

“Indeed,” Calanon nodded, adding with some regret, “Nonetheless almost all Haiz voluntarily remain in this state despite the availability of genetic therapies offered to them by Menelmacar. It is all they know. Solomon here is fairly typical of his people; you will no doubt find intimidation tactics of any kind extremely effective.”

“Can confirm,” Idhrindiel piped up.

“Why would you send someone like this as an ambassador?” Valainistima asked. “Shake a fist at him and he’d give away Litlin.”

“Because he’s not the head of mission,” Calanon answered. “That would be this lady, on whom intimidation will be rather less effective, I expect.” The holoportrait changed. “Agni Badwell, of the ‘Imperial Ministry of the Police’, though her record is really more military in nature. She has a rather dubious history fighting Homofront in Hiluxia and is credibly implicated in a number of war cr–”

“Sorry to interrupt, Calanon,” Curulambiel asked, holding back giggles. “But… is that actually how she dresses?”

Calanon blinked. “What?” He glanced at the holo. “Uh… usually, yes. Something like 85% of all the images we have of her are in this or similar outfits, why?”

“She’s cosplaying,” mused the businesswoman. “There’s this holoseries my grandson watches, it’s about war and intrigue between elemental wizards representing four nations. This Agni is dressed up as the villain, the fire princess…” she trailed off, snapping her fingers a few times. “Name escapes me now. But I’m certain.”

“Intriguing,” Valanistima answered. “Might she aspire to be like this fire princess?”

“It’s possible,” answered Curulambiel. “Based on the briefing notes it seems to check out.”

“Indeed,” Calanon added. “She does seem to fancy herself a manipulator, and if she’s also a war criminal… I should pass this lead on to my colleagues, maybe they can look into it more closely for additional insights. Good catch, Lady Curulambiel. I hadn’t seen this show, or heard of it, so I’m afraid I missed it.”

“I’ve seen it,” Idhrindiel added. “It’s pretty good. In fact, I have an idea… I need to find some extra scarabs before we head down…”

“What do you aim to do with those?” Valainistima asked.

“Misbehave,” Idhrindiel answered frankly.

“Next we have Bessford Be,” Calanon went on, replacing the holoimage once more. “Richest man in Turtleshroom, though that’s not a high bar, and apparently they also made him a prince for some reason…”

ImageImage

Amalda Cambevaima passed directly over the conference hall on her approach, and from her underslung landing bay emerged a smaller craft, no less elegant, but effectively just a luxury shuttle, dwarfed by the much larger diplomatic vessel. The dropship descended sharply, before setting down with a light feather-touch as close to the building as possible, aft end facing towards it, a ramp lowering from the rear hatch. First down the ramp was two of the Mornahossë, armor gleaming in ceremonial golden, though it could be any color they pleased, or render them nigh-invisible. One bore the banner of Menelmacar, which seemed to shimmer and gleam despite the drab weather. The guards flanked the ramp, as the delegation followed, garbed in all the intricate and elegant finery one would expect of the Menelmacari. Not that they seemed at all bothered by the weather. Whether by arcane sorcery or some cunning gravitic artifice, the wind seemed not to touch them at all, and the rain arced away as it fell, leaving them dry. Even the puddles they would otherwise step in seemed to flow aside rather than sully their shoes.

Valainistima looked around at the skyline; while Menelmacari largely spurned implanted augmentation, her jewelry and clothing contained any number of cunning devices that duplicated many of these functions, and she had no trouble perceiving the augmented reality that accompanied the cityscape. Some of the advertisements in the city’s noosphere were subliminal in nature; these crashed harmlessly against the bounds of her mind like waves against a cliff. No magic or technology required for this; it was a peculiarity of the Menelmacari mind that it was nearly impossible to read, alter or directly influence them without the express consent of the individual’s sovereign will. Even the dataglyphs would be ineffective if one was unwilling to receive their content.

Too many ads, Valainistima thought, tastelessly many. Her devices did have her consent, and their expert systems adjusted the city’s AR overlay, dialing down the garishness from ‘Vegas on meth’ to roughly ‘Times Square’, maintaining the general aesthetic without being excessive. Better, she mentally confirmed.

Amidst all the pomp and pageantry, of course, a number of other things emerged from the ship, a number of devices riding on waves of spacetime and gravity, knife-missiles and scarabs. The rain aided them, for it was all the more difficult to see them flit off into the gloom on whatever duties they had been assigned by the security chief. One of the scarabs immediately sought out Agni and settled somewhere nearby to her that it would not be easily seen or found. It had the simplest job of all - anytime Agni spoke it would make a simple sound effect.

As the Menelmacari entered the hall it seemed they were the last to arrive.But they were not late. Elves were never late, nor were they early. They arrived precisely when they meaned to.
Last edited by Menelmacar on Mon May 23, 2022 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The elves will do what is right, not what is on paper." ~Sunset
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Darussalam
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Compulsory Consumerist State

Covenant of the Valkian League

Postby Darussalam » Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:33 am

FOUNDING COVENANT OF THE VALKIAN LEAGUE
(PROPOSAL)

Proclaimed in Serendip, 23rd Day of 5th Month of 2022rd Year of the Nazarene


PREAMBLE.
We, the Sovereign Peoples of Valkia, in the pursuit of Justice, Security, Prosperity, and Peace, to promote international coordination and honorable relationship among our polities, and to avert the scourge of undesired warfare and wanton violence through commitment to international law as rule of conduct among our governments, henceforth resolved to integrate our efforts in accomplishing these aims and agree to these Covenant of the Valkian League.

ARTICLE 1.
1. The Founding Members of the Valkian League shall be those signatory sovereign political entities in Valkia named as follows.
    Abode of Peace,
    Greater Commonwealth of Grandstand and Asahina,
    Commonwealth of Barboneia,
    The North Lands,
    Republic of Seceria,
    Republic of Hiluxia,
    Republic of Niekas, and
    Great Bountiful Empire of the United Turtles, Mushrooms, and Men of TurtleShroom.
2. Each Founding Member shall recognize every other Founding Members as sovereign polities.
3. Any self-governing polity situated primarily in Valkia not named above may become a Member of the League if its sovereignty is recognized by all Member Polities of the League and its admission is agreed unanimously by all Member Polities of the League.
4. Polities of importance for the interests of Valkia may be admitted into observer status if their admission is agreed unanimously by all Member Polities of the League.

ARTICLE 2.
1. All Member Polities of the League shall have equal rights and obligations under this Covenant.
2. All Member Polities shall take all necessary measures to effectively implement the provisions of this Covenant and to comply with all obligations of the membership.
3. Observer Polities are permitted to participate in activities undertaken by the League as delineated by the Covenant, but are not bound by any rights and obligations of Member Polities.

ARTICLE 3.
1. The action of the League under this Covenant shall be effected through the instrumentality of a General Conclave, with a permanent Secretariat.
2. Further subsidiary organizations shall be authorized by the Secretariat to assist the undertakings of the League in matters political-military, economic, and socio-cultural respectively in adherence to Resolutions approved by the General Conclave.

ARTICLE 4.
1. The General Conclave is the supreme policy-making body of the Valkian League.
2. The General Conclave shall consist of appointed representatives of Member Polities of the Valkian League.
3. The General Conclave instrumentalizes its policy-making authority through passing legally-binding Resolutions for its members through majority vote.
4. Each Member Polity is represented with one vote in the General Conclave.
5. The Conclave shall meet at stated intervals and from time to time as occasion may require at the Seat of the League or at such other place as may be decided upon.

ARTICLE 5.
1. The permanent Secretariat shall be established at the Seat of the League. The Secretariat shall comprise a Secretary General and such secretaries and staff as may be required.
2. The first Secretary General shall be a temporary appointment charged with preparation of the implementation of the ratified Covenant for a year. Subsequently the Secretary General is to be elected by the General Conclave through majority vote.
3. The secretaries and staff of the Secretariat shall be appointed by the Secretary General with the approval of the Conclave.

ARTICLE 6.
1. The Secretariat and other organizations component of the League shall be provided with resources necessary to perform their functions effectively.
2. The expenses of the League shall be borne by the Member Polities of the League in the proportion determined by the Conclave.
3. The Secretary-General shall prepare the annual operating budgets of the Secretariat and other component organizations of the League for approval by the General Conclave.

ARTICLE 7.
1. The Seat of the League is established at Serendip.
2. Representatives of the Member Polities of the League and officials of the League when engaged on the business of the League shall enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunities.
3. The buildings and other property occupied by the League or its officials or by Representatives attending its meetings shall be inviolable.

ARTICLE 8.
1. The General Conclave shall formulate Resolution concerning the conventions of warfare and establishment of international law for Member Polities of the League.
2. The Secretariat shall formulate adoption plans for the formation of Tribunals and Peacekeeping Forces to enforce such Resolution and arbitrate conflicts among Member Polities of the League.
3. The Member Polities of the League shall undertake foreign policy in compliance with the agreed-upon international laws and conventions on warfare and agree to arbitrate conflicts of international nature between Member Polities to the Tribunals of the League.

ARTICLE 9.
1. The Member Polities of the League shall commit themselves for greater economic integration and socio-cultural cooperation of the Valkian Continents.

ARTICLE 10.
1. Amendments to this Covenant will take effect when ratified by the General Conclave by majority vote.
Last edited by Darussalam on Sat Jun 25, 2022 7:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
The Eternal Phantasmagoria
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A Lovecraftian (post?-)cyberpunk Galt's Gulch with Arabian Nights aesthetics.

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Darussalam
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Founded: May 15, 2012
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Darussalam » Wed Jun 22, 2022 10:07 am

The Darussalamis were not a monolith. Indeed, perhaps they were the farthest to the monolithic entity present in this conference. Of the three delegates present, each represented interests so orthogonal from one another, with disagreements ran deeper through basic fundamentals of their mental models of reality than between any other foreign delegate present.

Of course, Darussalam was nothing if not emergent mediation between sovereign nodes, and the Darussalami principle was nothing if not the meta-rational negotiation of seemingly irreducible values. Thus, in what seemed like a miraculous implausibility, the Darussalami delegates operated as if they were under the same interest, the same ontology, under the same government. Such a pattern was recursively replicated across hierarchical layers and market protocols throughout the realm—this was the emergent polity of Darussalam, which resembled a “sovereign state” of its own but constructed bottom-up. It was imperfect—many times, values were irreconcilable and wars were fought over it. Nevertheless, a vector average existed between most value systems. And even in wars there were truces, and good conduct existed in truces.

For all their memetic gang wars and fierce market hyper-competitions, Darussalamis, it was said, often overrated the ability—or willingness—of foreigners to coordinate with one another.

“They are already fighting,” Zawba’ah remarked in a quiet subvocalization.

“That they have,” Afshin replied in a defeated tone.

The Darussalamis watched the unraveling catfight between the South Landers in polite bewilderment. That it portended an ominous start for the League’s premier event was one thing, but the apparent incomprehension of most delegates to each other’s native tongues was, at least, a source of mild amusement. For most Darussalamis it was simply impossible to live without polyglot softwares, either tachydidactic programs loaded straight into one’s brain or Babel-jewelry worn around one’s ears. The diverse population of the Mesovalkian realm that allowed the collection of vast databases of most Valkian languages helped in this regard. Even as their most exotic and esoteric modifications were stripped down or concealed for this conference—an enigmatic habit that Darussalamis commonly adopted in discussions with baseline foreigners, born either out of paranoia or simple cultural sensitivity and communication legibility—they retained the polyglot softwares.

“I suppose we should start the official conference before everyone starts killing each other,” Al-Khayzuran suggested. All the three delegates reached this consensus. That it is still entirely within the realm of plausibility for them to start killing each other after the conference begins was left unspoken.

“Apologies for the interruption, but now we will proceed towards the official conference,” Afshin announced to the delegates, his voice subtly amplified throughout the entire chamber, as he gestured towards one of two moon-gated archways that flanked the hall painting. “Please follow us.”

The delegates passed through a peristyle passageway, its arcade shaped in complex, ornate fractal geometries, a particularly mathematically sophisticated and yet still aesthetically enticing version of Lambrequin arches. To the left, a stream flowed in the middle of a rain-poured tropical courtyard visible through open colonnades alternating with intricate latticework panels. To the right, illuminated gently by beige paper lanterns that also brightened the passageway through the gloom of the rain, was a series of seemingly innocuous miniature paintings that depicted standard illustrations of Azradi eschatology: the enigmatic robed figure of ‘Umr at-Tawil surrounded by Dyson spheres, wheels within wheels of ringworlds, galaxies turned dim and crimson by Matrioshka nodes, angel plasma resurrecting the dead and recreating the world upon the Day of Judgment, chains of prophets and messengers benevolently looking over orgiastic Edenic gardens of virtual simulation, God reconstructing Himself in the past portrayed through successions of images of technological advancements from steam engines and mushroom clouds, operation of Tokamak reactors, diagrams of Noospheric mesh networks, quantum encryption, orbital megastructure constructions, wormholes that reversed time, looped universes.

At the end of the passageway was the entrance of the conference room. It gave way to a vast cavernous interior, with genemodified orchids, bougainvilles, hibiscuses, hanging ferns, palms, and other foliages extensively decorated and virtually covered its entire walls. Dark clouds passed above the glazed roof and raindrops battered down its transparent glass panels. The ground and other standing structures aside were almost entirely ivory-white. Here the courtyard stream meandered and formed a lake structure that encircled the interior bar a bridge-like pathway that led to an “island” where a long rectangular table was prepared alongside the seats underneath a stylized smaller ornate open-roofed baradari pavilion. At the opposite end of the chamber, an artificial waterfall cascaded down at least a dozen meters high. Curiously for what seemed like a greenhouse display, the conference chamber was cool, dry, and eerily quiet—the thunderous roar of the waterfall was muted by antisound projections positioned throughout the room, and likewise the same projections were employed to ensure that the voices from the conference desk will barely escape outside, in anticipation for some exceptionally bitter debates.

Image
Image 1. Seat order of delegates and observers of the 1st Conference of the Valkian League

The delegates were ushered to their respective pre-designated seats, before each of which laid down sleek wafer-thin document tablets, tactile holographic interfaces, and sheets of paper equipped with a pen. Every interface available contained a document marked PROPOSAL DOCUMENT over its heading. The Darussalamis assumed the seats next to Menelmacari observers and Commonwealth delegates—the representative of the Harem, Al-Khayzuran, next to the Menelmacari, followed by Lord Afshin of the Imperial Court, and then Zawba’ah. They waited until all positioned themselves in their seats, oblivious or deliberately ignoring any animosity or perplexity displayed by any other delegate upon seeing their neighbors. Only after that Afshin started, switching his baseline mic on.

“Esteemed delegates of the Valkian lands and honorable observers from friend polities,” he said. “As you have known, we assembled today to finalize and, God willing, inaugurate the formation of the Valkian League. In order to undertake this goal, for months the diplomats and plenipotentiaries of our respective polities have comprehensively negotiated the organization of the League and formulated the fundamentals of its Covenant, to be a proper document ratified by soon-to-be members of the League. As the result, we have produced a proposal framework regarding the basic structure and principles of the League, which is subsequently implemented into the draft you are presently seeing on your desk, and the same document perhaps most of you have been briefed about beforehand.” He opened the document that embodied before him as solid light.

He continued, “You might notice that the Covenant is relatively brief and compact. This is a deliberate choice on our part, as we sought to incorporate the interests and acknowledge the sovereignty of all Valkian polities. The heart of the Valkian League, after all, is the optimization of benefits for all its constituent member polities, be they entailed in the principles of justice, peace, or prosperity. Nevertheless, at the same time, we also sought for the establishment of an organization with functional roles and enforceable bylaws. Hence we emphasize that the laws of the League shall bound all of the member polities, while we shall allow flexibility and negotiations regarding further specificities of the rules in question.”

Much was left unsaid regarding the cryptic intentions of the Darussalami minds and pens that composed much of the text—indeed much of it were the Darussalamis, regardless of high-handed claims weaved by Afshin of common participation of all Valkian polities. The diplomats of the Porte would have claimed, with a sneer, that the rest of Valkian polities barely had any functional diplomacy anyway, so what exactly is wrong about letting them in charge of the composition of the Covenant? Regardless, the Darussalamis formulated the document with great difficulty, for they endeavored to tone down their interests, and accordingly watered-down the document in compact form as agreeable as it could be to the representatives of other polities while retaining the functional structures intact. Those with keen eyes, however, could recognize that the Darussalamis eyed influence over the Secretariat of the League, if not through direct appointment then at least swaying behind as financial grey eminences.

“All persons present here have been delegated with authority by their sovereign polity to represent them in the ratification of the Covenant,” Afshin said. “Before we proceed to the ratification of the final document, however, we wish to conduct the procedure of the final drafting with such lawful and authoritative representatives. If any of you have any objections regarding the content of the document, suggestions for changes or additions, or objections to such suggestions, then please raise them now. That way we will know that our organization truly represents the interests of all Valkians.” He nodded towards the side of the observers on his right. “Likewise the observer-delegates may offer advisory opinions regarding the document, although the final agreed draft shall remain exclusively within the authority of the Valkian polities to ratify.”
Last edited by Darussalam on Wed Jun 22, 2022 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
The Eternal Phantasmagoria
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A Lovecraftian (post?-)cyberpunk Galt's Gulch with Arabian Nights aesthetics.

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TURTLESHROOM II
Senator
 
Posts: 3861
Founded: Dec 08, 2014
Right-wing Utopia

Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Fri Jun 24, 2022 11:12 pm

{ OOC: I'm not actually well-read on Lovecraft, but one cool thing Daru has consistently done is incorporate Lovecraftian stories into Islam. While TurtleShroom is nowhere close to them, nor are they heterodox, I decided a while ago that some of the figures and symbolism considered true canon alongside the Quran by Azradis also appears in TurtleShroomian tradition and Christian folklore. TurtleShroomers do not consider any of it to be part of the Bible, so it's deemd as an "educated guess" or a "consensus". }

{ OOC: This post is chasing a rabbit away from the actual Leage of Valkia Treaty. Please humor me, if you will, while I do a little trolling world building. }

{ OOC: I'd love to establish a bit of dialog at this point, if anyone is interested. Especially with Menelmacar or C'tan. }


Darussalam wrote:They depicted standard illustrations of Azradi eschatology: the enigmatic robed figure of ‘Umr at-Tawil surrounded by Dyson spheres, wheels within wheels of ringworlds, galaxies turned dim and crimson by Matrioshka nodes,


The TurtleShroomian delegates followed the rest of the delegation, marvelling at the ornate and stunning art decorating the palace. The warm light of the paper lanterns above them illuminated a particular series of paintings.

"Wait, hold up." Solomon Finn spoke up. "I want to look at this, please. You can go on ahead."

The TurtleShroomers crowded around the painting, not caring who stayed behind to listen to them*. Solomon cocked his head.

"The heck is that?"

"Hmm?" Oh, that'sh La'anah. Yesh, I mispronounced it. I'll go with what we call him here. Wormwood."

Bessford ran his finger over the pendent his Old Believer Orthodox cross necklace. His fervent studies of the Bible and other Christian texts were finally able to be used.

"Wait, like the comet in Revelation?" Solomon queried.

"Well, technically yesh, but alsho no. It'sh a long shtory."

"Well, we've got time. No one else is rushing."

Agni rolled her eyes and followed the Darussalemites, not caring about such stupid "mythology".

"Okay. I don't remember the vershes ex-shack-lee, but it goesh shumthing like thish. God has a bunch of judgementsh in Revelation. They're out of order, but the onesh in particular thish picture talksh about ish involvesh sheven trumpetsh. The comet Wormwood ish one of theseh."

"Which one?"

"I don't remember."

"So what about the hooded guy?"

"Right. Wormwood ish an archangel!"

"That's not in the Bible."

"Only the Bible ish infallible, but Godly men have throughout hishtory shhhtudied miraclesh, shaintsh, and lore among Believersh and the Church. These traditionsh, while not absholute sher-tan-teesh, are nonethelesh concluded by men vershed in the Bible as a spiritualy plawshhhh... uhh, plaw-see... uhh.... likely conclushion to be backed by Shhripture."

Bessford smiled widely.

"Everyone ish free to come to their own conclu-shunsh about shtuff outside of the infallible Bible. Just take note that thish hash been something that all of our an-shes-torsh thought wush likely true. I think it ish. The Church thinksh it ish, acrossh denominationsh."

He looked to the picture and pointed to Tawil. He was covered head to toe in a full cloak, obscuring his entire body and face. In his hand were a set of keys. Solomon looked to the chamberlain keys he was wearing and back to the picture.

"When the trumpet angel blowsh the trumpet, the comet Wormwood poishuns the earth'sh water shupply. Other angelsh follow. The Bible sesh that angelsh are an army, show imagine the Archangel Wormwood as a general. Though I don't remember what trumpet wush the comet, Wormwood himshelf blew the fifth, which had the Key to the Abysh. The Bible shesh that the comet wush given the Key to the Abysh, show it'sh shafe to ashoom that the comet Wormwood, that poi-shunned the water shupply, was also given the key by the Archangel Wormwood. Hence why the Archangel Wormwood hash the key and the name."

He pointed again to the archangel's largest key, which was a striking silver color.

"That'sh the Key to the Abysh. Dare-roo-shhhlum Mush-shull-men, like ush, believe that Wormwood standsh at a great gate. To them, it'sh the closhest possible anyone but Muhammad can get to Allah*. You can tell when it'sh there 'cause there'sh a huge tree and a Shilver Gate. Tawil unlocks only it in Ishlamic Revelation. -but that'sh their myths. In ack-shull-ality, the Shilver Gate connectsh to the Abysh, not God. Heaven ish buitl of gemsh, so shilver is an inferior metal to gemsh and gold. Hence the Abysh."

"What's all that swirly stuff?"

Bessford cocked his head.

"I don't know Mush-lumsh angelsh, but I do know that to us, the wheelsh in wheelsh are Ophanim. Or ash I like to call it, THE COOLESHT ANGEL. Each of the wheelsh are covered in GIANT EYESH!!"

Bessford giddly shook his fists as he explained how cool the Ophanim looked.

"Wow! What about the resht?"

"Hey Agni, can you come here?"

The sound of Agni's six-inch heels on the Moorish tiles met her. She had a hand placed on her hip.

'What do you want?" she said, trying to avoid snarling.

"Look at the angelsh on the wallsh. Do you know what the other shtuff is?"

Agni laughed.

"Those aren't angels, Bessford. That's a Ring World."

"I've readh the shtories. Ring Worlds don't have eyesh or rotating wheelsh. Plush, where'sh the shtar?"

Agni paused, realizing the mistake. She hated when she wasn't in control and outdoing anyone in a conversation.

"Well, I know that those are Matryorshka Brain Engines."

"Rushhhian neshting...... brainsh?"

"Multiple layers of computers entirely wrapped around a star, Bessford. Each layer takes power from the star and distributes it into one network. Bak-su only knows what a man could calculate with that kind of power."

Agni grinned a creepy, apparently thinking about what she would do with it. Bessford ignored her and kept observing the painting, going through it.


Darussalam wrote:chains of prophets and messengers benevolently looking over Edenic gardens of virtual simulation,


"A bunch of men leading up to Muhammad. If thish was accurate, then Jesush would be at the end there and Father Abraham over there. Then Isaac, Jacob, hish kids and the founding Twelve Tribesh, Moshes, all the way up to Jesush. Since we're talking Ishlam, I assume that's Father Abraham and Ishhhamael over there."

Darussalam wrote:[Allah] reconstructing himself in the past portrayed through successions of images of technological advancements from steam engines and mushroom clouds, operation of Tokamak reactors, diagrams of Noospheric mesh networks, quantum encryption, orbital megastructure constructions


The TurtleShroomers were curious at this. Even Agni was a bit confused about it for a moment. They did not recognize Allah as being a part of the painting, but it was clear what they were looking at. This painting was a celebration of technological progression and innovation.

"Technological progress. It's celebrating machinery and innovation." Agni spoke up, remembering her index cards.

"The Azradi denomination of Shi'ite Islam believes that the ultimate goal of the Muslim Church* is to force the Technological Singularity. That means they must build a machine that hits a point where it has human intelligence, and then immediately becomes smarter and smarter forever, as its limits on itself are gone. Simply put, the growth of the power and knowledge of the machine becomes uncontrollable. The machine becomes as close to their God as possible."

Solomon was curious.

"What does that have to do with Allah? Wouldn't that be blasphemous? That they're building Allah?"

{ OOC: The following information is incorrect. Azradis conceal their beliefs to unbelievers and no infidel is privy to that information. Knowing about the Singularity is generally the most advanced thing told publicly. }

"Not at all. It's the opposite, actually, because they believe that Allah wants them to do this for him. Azradis keep a lot of it to themselves, so not even the Crown can say entirely, but I personally believe that the machine becoming completely all-powerful like will create the Mahdi, that is, the man who will be given power by Allah to cleanse the world of sin at the end of days."

"I thought the Mahdi was a person?" Solomon responded. "It even says things about what his teeth look like, how his skull is shaped, and that he has a mole."

"I believe the machine, since it is now uncontrolable and always advancing, will project the Mahdi as a holograph."

"So the computer becomes truly understanding of Islam and assumes utmost Islamic virtue?"

"Yes. The computer essentially becomes omniscient, and because Azradis believe in a more panentheistic view of Allah, that he is everywhere and incomprehensible, then the computer can grasp him. The veil, so to speak, is lifted for and by the machine. Like other Muslims' beliefs, the comptuer's Mahdi would then be a beautiful, rightous, and worthy bringer of the end."

"-and what is the end?"

"Annihilation In the Unity of Existence."

'What does that mean?"

"Honestly, this mythology is above my head, but I'll try. All Muslims believe that Allah is 'one'. It's the first thing a convert declares. Unlike your faith's concept of a Godhead with three equal Persons, each which are not each other but all are still one, monotheistic God, Muslims belive in a single god, indivisible, with no Persons other than simply Allah. Azradis take this literally. Allah is the very essence, then, of all things he created. All things exist in Allah's shadow, so to speak, and are not independent of Allah."

"-and the computer?"

"I'm getting to that. So Azradis, and other Sufi mystics like them, believe that when a faithful Muslim dies, they literally become one with Allah in every conceivable way, without exception. The individual self is annihilated and the soul is in perfect peace, rest, and harmony under Allah. In this state, they obtain an intrinsic unity between Allah and all that exists, including their mind."

"So Azradis believe that our reality is a part of Allah, and that Allah is in anyone who declares there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet? Do I have this right, Agni?"

"Not even that. Unbelievers too. Nothing exists but Allah, directly or indirectly, they say. The computer Mahdi is the instrument to the final End Times of the faith. At the very end, Allah commands Tawil- your La'anah -to unseal the Silver Gate, and Allah grants the Annihilation In the Unity of Existence to everything. Each 'layer' of Islamic Heaven is a 'veil' that conceals the true oneness of Allah. Tawil guards that last one, which only Muhammad himself has ever been allowed into."

"Does that include unbelievers?"

"I would assume that since they say there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is his prophet, and that Tawil holds the key to the Silver Gate, then no, but they say that our reality is annihilated into union with Allah. If unbelievers become one, then that'd make them what you would call universalism. I suggest you ask them."

"So the computer?"

"When the Technological Singularity is reached, the computer's Mahdi, and your Jesus, and Muhammad, and so on, will fight at the Battle of Islamic Armageddon. Backed by Allah, with the power of machine and prophet, the forces of evil are overwhelmed. The Islamic Antichrist and the Islamic Satan will be defeated and reality will be purifed. Then, and only then, will Tawil unveil Allah's true nature. That marks the Arrival of the Strange One, where Allah completely reveals himself to all things, and all things will be annihilated into unity with him. To Azradis, this is the ultimate goal and the same euphoric bliss that your fiath give you when you think of the afterlife."

Solomon and Bessford were captivated.

"Where did you read all of this?"

"I don't just read the index cards given me. I once met a brilliant woman from Darussalem that let me know that my book on Daurssalem was fifty years old and now totally wrong. I've been reading up ever since. I've been meaning to get in touch with her, maybe go out on the town, a girl's night out of sorts. I do not believe in any of these fairy tales, but Darussalem in particular has some of the most amazing mythology I have ever seen."

The other TurtleShroomers nodded, content with their discussion, and ventured down the hall to the other delegates.

* = That is, the Ummah (body of believers). In Christian terminology and theology, the "church" is the actual collective of all Believers in Christianity, living and dead, as people and as a group. Islam has the same thing with a different term.
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Comrade Commisar
Ambassador
 
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Founded: Jun 12, 2011
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Comrade Commisar » Sat Jun 25, 2022 9:24 am

"Tapio Murso, Administrative Minister of the Commonwealth of Barboneia, states that it is a pleasure to meet you, and that he would like to learn more of the White Fang Company."

The Far Northerner could only help but chuckle at such an introduction. White Fang had made not-so-subtle threats, and with one of the mortal enemies of his country wrapped around his shoulder, he sees fit to introduce himself? It was something to be appreciated. She had little understanding of Barboneian, but from what she could make from the reactions and stances of Joanne, Edvard, and Tapio himself - it seemed that the Administrative Minister was far more steadfast than he led on. The man would not be heeled by a handful of idle threats, that was the impression that she was increasingly getting from his casual demeanor, and as he offered a smiled and held out a hand, she could only grin and oblige.

"Apologies for my laughter, Lake Lander! I suspected you a newborn whelp, much like that one..." She offered a nod to Edvard, gnashing her fangs at him in jest, as if she cared little about the peashooter at his hip, "No, there was only ever one other Lake Lander who could stand stalwart, offer a hearty grin as I approached them, and who would simply balk at mention of the infamous White Fang Company. If you're anything like the Mad Dog, I should have known that such words mean nothing to you unless they are backed with steel! Though, I do suppose you seem less outgoing then he is, more of a resolute guard dog, then a hunting hound like him."

Naturally, she stared at Johannes to translate, but lingered her gaze somewhat longer as she examined the bodyguard up and down. She had compared the Administrative Minister to the Barboneian 'Mad Dog' that she had known, but glancing at the North Lander bodyguard, his subtle mannerisms more closely represented her recollections than Tapio did. There was a certain gait, a certain attentive stance, and a certain pronunciation of North Lander phrases that struck her as eerily familiar - the mannerisms of someone in the Barboneian military. It was a long shot, but she knew that foreigners relied more on names for association than titles, and perhaps the compliment would be more well-received if they knew the Barboneian name than the North Lander counterpart.

"Mad Dog." She stated in her coarse Far Northern dialect, pausing as she tried to recall the way his name was pronounced in the drastically different Barboneian Finnish, ignorant of the fact that she was pretty heavily butchering the name. <"Ráidner Laaksonen.">

In the North Lands, titles were more important than names, and while many North Landers received such titles, it was relatively rare for them to be awarded to foreigners. Felix Barbone, the founder of Barboneia, for example, was not considered of any significant importance, and thus was not referred to by a title. The fact that Ráidner Laaksonen had received the moniker of Mad Dog by the North Landers represented a certain respect, and with a considerable military record commanding soldiers in both the North Lands and the South Lands, he was comparable to White Fang herself in terms of renown. The Lake Lander with a penchant for violence, bloodshed, and a morbid amusement in the face of death; to say that Tapio shared some semblance of his personality was quite a compliment, or at least, most North Landers would have thought so.

The three-way exchange between White Fang, Johannes, and Tapio was interrupted by an announcement by the Darussalamis that the conference was beginning, and subsequently, by the arrival of Freya Southpaw and Lang the Great - the latter still stuffing her maw - as they sought to reconvene before entering negotiations.

"I hope you didn't accost them too much, White Fang." Freya Southpaw said in a dejected manner, turning to address the rest of the Barboneians, "I apologize in advance for any offenses that my associate may have committed. I am Freya Southpaw, and this is High Priestess Lang of Amasteras, we look forward to working together with the Barboneians in this endeavor."

"Please, do not makea mistake and misrepresent this man's mettle, Southpaw! I thought he was a pitiful whelp too at first, but he ended up having a stalwart personality unlike most Lake Landers!" White Fang nodded with pride, shaking Tapio's shoulder firmly, before pulling him closer to display her fox-eared counterpart.

Southpaw looked at the Administrative Minister, almost the exact definition of overworked bureaucrat, with a subtle disdain. There was practically nothing stalwart about him, or at least, nothing that somebody as belligerent as White Fang should have found notable. The fox-eared captain was suspicious that there was some foul play at work, but simply offered a weary sigh, seemingly nodding in agreement.

"Of course. A pleasure to meet the stalwart Barboneians. If you would like to walk with us, we are hoping to get to the discussion hall before the South Landers begin bickering again."

"And the South Landers will begin bickering again." Lang smugly added, before walking past Southpaw, and onto the meeting room.

Travelling through the decorated pathways of the building, Lang and Southpaw could not help but gawk at the intricate architecture and impressive displays, something that was lost on the more militant White Fang, who reacted with a brief amusement. They had heard about the decadence of the Darussalamis from the Tale of Red Scarf, but such fireside stories were only mere fragments of what it was like to witness such things in person. Even then, they could not really appreciate the full extent of what they experienced, the context of the paintings in particular being lost upon the North Landers who could not recognize what they were attempting to portray. The South Landers had stopped to admire and explain the paintings, something that was briefly observed by the North Landers, but also almost immediately passed over as they, too, did not quite understand the ramblings of the South Landers. The Commonwealth delegation quickly caught up behind them as well, practically marching in lockstep to spare themselves the theological lecture.

The actual conference room was more akin to a garden than a traditional interior, something that was greatly appreciated by the North Landers, particularly awed at the various flora displays, a rare feature in the arctic wastes that they called their home. Admiring the scenery, between the tranquil waterfall and the various waterworks that surrounded the main meeting area, there was nonetheless an eerie discomfort - an ominous feeling that had followed the delegates since their arrival at port. The North Landers were the first to notice, their ears twitching as the odd silence became known; the sounds of the waterfall, thunderstorm, and raindrops falling silent when they should have been prominent. The Commonwealth delegation maintained their usual sullen and morose expressions, reminded of the superficial nature of Darussalami, and for all the 'naturalness' of the room, it - like everything in Darussalam - had been carefully choreographed to meet the ends of the Abode of Peace.

The Darussalami, for their part, had made little attempt to disguise these facts, leading the various representatives to their seats in the meeting area. The North Landers, White Fang in particular, seemed to be overjoyed at the seating arrangement next to the Barboneians, a fact that had not been lost upon the Commonwealth delegation. The North Landers next to Barboneians, the Barboneians next to the Hiluxians, and the Turtleshroomers next to both Hiluxia and Niekas; it was a recipe for disaster. High Admiral Walker turned to glance at the Darussalamis, themselves seated between the relatively amiable Menelmacari and Commonwealth, feigning ignorance of the situation despite their otherwise careful planning for the rest of the conference.

"Felis, Grizzly, feel free to take a break around the perimeter." Walker offered a wry smile, raising his hands to dismiss them for the moment, "I don't think we'll need your services, but keep an eye on the pavilion from time to time, just in case."

"Whatever you say, boss." Felis nodded, pulling out a carton of cigarettes as she cleanly stuck one in her mouth and walked off.
"Scream when you want us back." Grizzly added, adjusting her field cap as she followed behind, bumming a cigarette off her counterpart.

"High Admiral. Let's begin." Emily stated, pulling up a seat beside the Secerians, before browsing through the papers before her.

"Right." Walker nodded, seating himself beside the Darussalamis, before also perusing through their contents, "Let's move on with this charade."

Across the table, the North Landers had also seated themselves, assuming a moderately more serious demeanor now that the conference had officially begun. White Fang was seated closely to the Barboneians at her own behest, followed with Freya Southpaw in the center for translation, and Lang the Great at the very end - an unusual arrangement, but one tolerated under a common consensus. In comparison to the Commonwealth, Southpaw ran through the document on the tablet, summarizing and translating its contents to a relatively laid back White Fang, while Lang had been keen to play around with the holographic interface.

"The High Landers really do love their flowery speeches." High Priestess Lang idly noted, scrolling through the holographic text as Afshin spoke, "I don't think half the words they are saying exist in our tongue."

"Let them have their fun." White Fang laughed, replying in her usual gruff tone, "We're no strangers to the endeavors of Yoitsu, and the High Landers are no different. We amuse their indulgences on the understanding that we all know, between all the whelps and the wolves, into who's mouth the fat will fall when the time comes."

"You have your own flowery way of describing financial embezzlement to bloodthirsty mercenary companies using international peace channels." Southpaw shook her head, browsing through the document, "Most power is concentrated in the Secretariat, so unless you're willing to convince the South Landers why they should be committed to eternal civil war, I doubt we'll be making much progress."

"Then we simply make the South Landers a non-factor, have you not seen those seated here?" White Fang glanced down the table, offering a slight nod to the Barboneians, the Commonwealth, and the Secerians, before returning to address the fox-eared North Lander, "The Sky Landers at the end of the table are no factor, and once you rule them out, us Northerners control half the votes. The South Landers will no doubt quarrel among themselves, possibly maiming themselves out of a short-minded interest, while the rest of us share a common interest supporting the various mercenary contingents from our respective lands."

"What? You're going to fill the Secretariat with North Landers, Commonwealthers, Barboneians, and Secerians?" Southpaw asked incredulously, "You need majority. Four out of eight votes won't cut it, and that's even ensuring that we can establish a voting bloc. The Barboneians and the Secerians don't exactly see eye-to-eye with us North Landers."

"You didn't think you'd ever sit at a negotiation with the bunny-eared folk, correct? Mercenary coalitions are not something rare, and fortunately, I have enough experience with them to guide the conversation to the right direction." White Fang smiled, "I'm sure we can put our short-term goals aside for long-term gain, or at the very least, long enough to where we can undermine this council with a war council of our own."

High Admiral Walker rubbed his eyes.

"This document is such a blatant shift to the Darussalamis, that I'm appalled they don't just come out and say it." Walker whispered to his aide, speaking in North Lander obfuscate any passing observation from the other delegates, "2-2, 3-2, 5, 6, 7-1, 7-3, 8, and 9 will be the primary concerns worth noting about. Of them, 2-2, 6, 8, and 9 are our most immediate concerns, as these effect the Commonwealth directly. The rest primarily influence the League's day-to-day handlings, which are beneficial, but otherwise do not immediately act to our detriment."

"Do you want them stricken down, specified, or modified?" Emily replied, her North Lander fairly lacking, but otherwise manageable, "I doubt the other representatives aren't necessarily in agreement with all the terms either, so it might be beneficial to wait until an opposing objection is raised and fall in as a compromise."

"2-2 is vague as to 'necessary measures', and depending on majority, might be worth keeping. 6 regards funding of the League, which can bankrupt certain states or grant them influence, but that once again, depends on majority. 8 regards the military capabilities of the League, and having that locked down in a favorable nation or coalition would be beneficial. 9 is a deliberately vague term, but is undoubtedly in favor of the Darussalamis and Turtleshroomers economically." The High Admiral paused, "It is the most dangerous to us, and the various unions and guilds would riot in the streets depending on what is proposed in the name of 'economic integration'. Simply put, we have to strike it down or rip out its teeth."

"Don't do any colorful speeches, the Darussalamis have done enough of those." Emily noted, returning to the less archaic Commonwealth tongue, "Try to keep it short and directed enough to where others fill in the gaps."

Walker took a deep breath, letting it out as he sat upward, and addressed the other members of the council, still browsing through their own copies of the covenant to fight scathing faults with. However, the voice that came forward was not masculine nor in the Commonwealth tongue, instead originating from the other end of the table, in a feminine North Lands one.

"The North Lands raises concerns with the short-sighted nature of the agreement, namely article eight." Lang the Great stated, raising her hand, before direction attention to White Fang two seats down.

"It is, to my belief, as a mercenary captain who has fought in both the North Lands and South Lands, that leaving military matters to the direct oversight of the sheepdog is in poor judgement. If the various lands of this region wish this council to have any influence, it must bear fangs, and bear them well - a flock of sheep cannot lead the wolves." The Far Northerner stated in her gravelly tongue, translated helpfully by Southpaw into North Lander, while also actively replaced her esoteric terms with 'Secretariat', 'General Conclave', and 'Peacekeepers' as needed, "These things must be decided by a dedicated war council, one that has experience in such matters, and one that will have the confidence of the companies in the field."

White Fang glanced across the table at the Great Civilization and Menelmacari representatives, before turning her gaze at the Hiluxians, Barboneians, and Secerians. She offered a wolfish grin.

"There are many capable leaders in the region, but leadership can only get you so far without any blades at your command. It would be foolish to levy militia with no loyalty to the council, as it would be scrounging up stray dogs to guard livestock, and to ask for volunteers is slightly less foolish, if only for the possibility of getting into a fight with not enough hands." The wolf-eared captain paused for a moment, smiling, "But there are countless mercenaries here, from different lands, waving differing banners, with different devices, immediately ready to fight together at the behest of the council - a grand coalition. They have already carried out various operations in the South Lands, under the leadership of the Sky Landers, and have been remarkably successful in that matter, as I am sure the Sky Landers can attest. I propose the region adopt these coalitions as well, to ensure that the council shall always bear fangs, and that they shall never want for more."

"White Fang is asking you consider a dedicated peacekeeping force composed of international mercenaries loyal to the League, to supplement volunteers who might not be available in adequate numbers, and that the C'tani have already demonstrated the effectiveness of these contingents through their endeavors in Turtleshroom." Southpaw summarized in North Lander, hopefully being picked up by translators more readily than the obscure Far Northern tongue, "She is also proposing that this peacekeeping force not directly answer to the Secretariat, as this would be strategically and tactically unsound, and that a separate organization dedicated to the role be formed, so that they might be isolated from considerations that might otherwise compromise their ability on the field."

The Far Northerner looked at the other delegates, speaking in her heavily-accented North Lander, the gravelly voice from countless decades of command attempting to appeal directly to them.

"I believe it will be greatly beneficial for everyone involved."
A complete mess of a nation known in-character as the 'North Lands'; populated by pious priestesses, wandering mercenaries, violent bandits, and various internal power struggles. Be careful of who you deal with.

Basically, a decentralized feudalistic society ranging anywhere between medieval and interwar.

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TURTLESHROOM II
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Posts: 3861
Founded: Dec 08, 2014
Right-wing Utopia

Postby TURTLESHROOM II » Sat Jun 25, 2022 7:47 pm

{ OOC: If anyone wants to talk with the TurtleShroomers based on what they saw, let me know. }

The TurtleShroomers made their way into the gorgeous chambers of the conference hall. Its natural greenery, aquaducts, and center waterfall awed the TurtleShroomers; it reminded them of the beautiful gardens of their homeland, many of which were indoors and had waterfalls, but few of them were so varied and exstensive as this.

What made this different from TurtleShroom's hanging gardens and botanical gardens was the sound of what was missing. Agni, honed to protect herself from her surroundings in her lifetime of military work, instantly recognized it, well before the other TurtleShroomers. The loud thunder and sheets of rain, which had been audible for the entire visit to this town, was suddenly muffled. Where it should have been pounding the ceiling glass with the acoustic intensity of an alluminum roof, it was instead a very distant noise. This would have been easily dismissed due to the sheer height and futuristic materials of the building, but the waterfall was muted, too!

This in particular caused Agni some surprise, as she raised her eyebrows for a moment as she crossed the threshold into the antechamber. She never liked to be taken off guard, and hope no one noticed. The waterfall sounded like a kitchen faucet fully opened, quieter even than a bathtub faucet and in no way drowning out the sounds of voices.

The TurtleShroomers made their way to the seat, subtly recognizing that this seating arrangement was almost certainly trolling.

Solomon was seated to the left of Agni, next to the Niekasite. Directly to his left, and the first Menelmacari seat on the right, was the very person that caused Solomon to literally pass out when the Dark Harvest was concluded with TurtleShroom's surrender. Bessford, being notorious for his obnoxious kindness and giddy extroversion, was put to the right, next to Hiluxian Prime Minister Fatimah.

In TurtleShroom, as in her ancestors in the Old South, England, and Russia, and like in many othercountries, the honored guest took the center, at the head(s) of the table, with their most important guest to the right. In this case, Bessford, as Grand Prince in the Majesty Twelve and a contendor to the TurtleShroomian throne, outranked both Solomon and Agni. Not that Agni cared. Bessford was too soft and squishy, known for de facto profit sharing and enough kindness to his staff that a Marxist victory would have still spared his life. She was the leading delegate anyway.

Reaching instinctively for the pieces of paper, the TurtleShroomers didn't even pay attention to the tablets as they took the golden pens, each topped with a stylized peacock feather. Bessford reminded himself to ask if he could keep it at the end of the conference.

Agni, in her urge to dominate the conversation in favor of herself her country, was about to speak up, when she was interrupted by one of the Kitsunes. They had been speaking in their native tongue- something she could not understand -and only now had been presented to them in English.


Comrade Commisar wrote:"It is, to my belief, as a mercenary captain who has fought in both the North Lands and South Lands, that leaving military matters to the direct oversight of the sheepdog is in poor judgement. If the various lands of this region wish this council to have any influence, it must bear fangs, and bear them well - a flock of sheep cannot lead the wolves." The Far Northerner stated in her gravelly tongue, translated helpfully by Southpaw into North Lander, while also actively replaced her esoteric terms with 'Secretariat', 'General Conclave', and 'Peacekeepers' as needed, "These things must be decided by a dedicated war council, one that has experience in such matters, and one that will have the confidence of the companies in the field."

White Fang glanced across the table at the Great Civilization and Menelmacari representatives, before turning her gaze at the Hiluxians, Barboneians, and Secerians. She offered a wolfish grin.


What Fang would have noticed before anyone else's representative that Agni smiled. It was an evil grin, one that she immediately recognized as one that a predator would give. A grin akin to hers.

Fang had found an unlikely ally.

Agni nodded at times as Fang explained the worth of mercenaries and the need for martial control of the military. Bessford and Solomon came from a country where civilian control of the military meant "tell where to shoot and how much to spend" and nothing more, so they didn't directly oppose this measure.

Agni, however, was enthusiastic.

"Our Kitsune compatriots are absolutely correct." Agni said, regally gesturing her hand in their direction. "The dispatch of professional soldiers would be prone to disunity between our nations. I am completely behind Mrs. Fang's proposal, and I encourage our fellow diplomats to endorse this entirely. Placing mercenary companies under the command of the League of Valkia itself, overseen by military delegates, in which civilian control only deals with deployment and funding. That's actually how TurtleShroom's military has operated for centuries. It has kept our nation from veering too far off track, after all. I should know."

She crossed her arms.

"I agree that the independent military commission should not be controlled by the Grand Secretariat. He shouldn't be allowed to dismiss or influence them once they are dispatched. However, it is essential that the Leage of Valkia still be able to control its budget and, most importantly, that the Conclave decides where it is sent."
Last edited by TURTLESHROOM II on Thu Jun 30, 2022 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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