The Democratika

Full Version: The People’s Free Meltorian Army Confrence
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Unknown Location, Meltor 
Early Morning 
Knock knock 
... 
Knock knock 
What an annoying sound. 
 
"Comrade Saloa, you need to get up." A voice appears from behind the door. 

Can he shut up? 
"Comrade! It's almost 10 AM you'll be late!" The voice is getting louder... 

Wait, 10 AM? 
Shit. 
Throwing the white covers off me I turn on the small lamp by the bedside and begin my daily preparations.  
 
"Good to know you're actually alive comrade, I was afraid I'd have to knock the door down."  The jovial voice of Jasri Bade appears from behind the door. He's probably gone back to standing to the side of the door, for so-called insurance of protection.  
 

Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes I look around the room. Outside of the standard four walls, one roof and one floor all of them having the occasional stain, rip and questionable smell. It's all in one room with a single creaking door in the North West. Two windows looking over a small city in the East. A small hastily assembled "Kitchen" in the South West, the kitchen itself isn't too bad, at least it actually has a gas stove instead of the coal-fired ones back in the west. With a bed and various wardrobes and desks in the middle portion of the room and finally a small enclosed bathroom in the North East. It's safe to say that this place is the most pure and average form of "decent". 
Moving to the bathroom I open the door with no small creak to accompany it and look myself in the mirror. A dark-skinned face with short brown hair and blue eyes.  
 
"At least the eye bags look a bit smaller today," I mutter to myself as I clean off the dirt with, probably, clean water. And sharpen up my hair. 
 
Moving out of the bathroom I move to the wardrobe and take out the finest piece of clothing I can get my hands on. It seems I'll be wearing my old Naval Uniform, a pure white shirt, jacket and pants. Ditching the white cap and various medals I should make it to the conference without being noticed. 

Frankly, it's a dream that this Conference is going ahead, every single Communist leader will be there from the Ultravisionaries of Ohea Ilov, the Bureaucrats of Lisi Angra, the Anarchists of the Soviet Councils and of course the Militarists of Qwentana Zuno. These four groups would be joined by myself, Saloa Val and my fellow members of the Global Salvationists. As long as this goes well a new united front of not just communists, but a united front of people united against the slavery of all people. 

As long as it goes well. 
 
Moving to the door I give myself a final moment of preparation patting myself over and breathing in I open the door to the face of Jasri Bade a huge man easily surpassing me in terms of height and pure muscle. His face was simply striking Green eyes, a strong chin and a buzzcut, his face alone would make him look like a soldier. He wears a black jacket and shirt with dark green pants.  
"Are you ready to get a move on Comrade?" He asks in a quiet tone to avoid being heard by any potential passers-by. 
 
"Yes, let's get a move on."  
 

Ten Minutes Later 

"This is it?" I ask in a hushed tone. 
 

"It's the address, though honestly, I thought it would be a little more... inconspicuous." He replies. 

The building in question appears to be an old theatre that has fallen into disrepair, whilst I doubt anybody would bother checking up on this old place if the Government got a tip-off but still, it's got much left to be desired. The building made up of a mix of concrete and wood is unlike the old distinctive theatres back 20 years ago when the industry was booming their proud bright signs displaying their next movie and the lines of common and rich waiting expectantly for their turn to get into the theatre. It's a shame that boom pasted and the industry just couldn't keep up with the increasingly volatile Meltorian market. 
 
Moving his right foot forward comrade Jasri whistles to people unknown, probably some kind of signal. To the right of the main entrance, a portion of the concrete wall opens up to reveal a fellow Comrade waving us inside. Taking it as our chance we both quickly move to him. 

"Welcome to the Conference Comrade Saloa, your seat us the top right." 
"Thank you, Comrade."  

The innards of the theatre look no better than the outside peeling wallpaper, ripped curtains and caked with dust. But none of that matters in comparison to the men on the table. The three most powerful communists in all of Meltor: 

Sitting on the top left, Qwentana Zuno leader of the militarists a tall man only easily taller than most of the other men in the room his white skin and stubble, descending from an old line of immigrants he passed with flying colours in the Perisu Military Acadamy getting him a cushy job in the Meltorian Army. However, unlike many of fellow generals, he didn't lay about and instead actively developed new and improved tactics against both bandits and soldiers alike affording him one of the highest win rates in the military. His fierce determination and fiery personality quickly made him become one of its most respected commanders with strategies against bandits and professional soldiers alike. His career would be cut short when his communist sympathies were leaked forcing him to go on the run, he has been continually on the run with his small army all across the Meltorian desert for the past five years, destroying more bandit holes and the like. His crisp military uniform of black and blue signifying him as a former member of the small armoured corps of the armed forces. We both meet at each other's eyes we've been both a pain in each other's ass for the past few years, I or he will one-day rule Meltor until that day comes, we will be rivals. 
 
Beside him is Lisi Angra leader of the Bureaucrats a secretive short woman with lightly tanned skin and glasses, much of her past is shrouded in mystery but from what I've been able to gather she was once a no-name middle manager of Fire Sands until going on the run for some reason. Unlike Qwentana who is arguably her polar opposite, she prefers to manipulate people from the shadows gathering favours and friends on all sides. I can't say how many times she's tipped us all off about incoming raids and convoys, of course, whilst I'd like to say it was done from the goodness of her heart, I think everybody on this table knows the real reason.  
The man who will be sitting beside me in the eccentric Ohea Ilov leader of the Ultravisionary Communists, believing in the absolute power of technological progression and a Meltorian federation that will reach for the stars a puffy man with a balding haircut and a small moustache, for all of his rather unfortunate physical faults his passion and belief in science is second to none and he's also a great drinking partner to boot. 
 
The At the backside of the table sitting next to Ohea and Lisi is an unknown his greying hair and simplistic clothes leaves much to the imagination on his profession and beliefs, definitely the Anarchist representative then.  

 
"You're late." Qwentana instantly shoots into my stomach 

"Qwentana let's not start a fight already." Lisi seems to already be in her usual mood of currying favours. 

"Come now Comrades let's not fight already, do that later so we can at least put on a good show for our Edofasian friends." Ohea jovially attempts to calm the situation down. 

Wait... Edofasians? 

And at the very top of the table lies somebody most unexpected, His skin paler than that of Qwentana's but with brown hair and green eyes. He's wearing some blue jeans and a white shirt all kept together with a light beard. An Edofasian is here, but why? This was supposed to be a meeting in which all parties joined together for the future of… 

I wish I could fool myself into believing that 

"Interruptions caused my delay Comrades, I apologise." I try to save the Conference before it begins. 
"Overslept more like." Qwentana mutters under his breath.

Ignoring him I move to my seat next to the Edofasian and take my seat. Now is not the time to let this fall flat on its face. 

"So you're all here, excellent." The Edofasian begins in a thick accent, "now I assume you all know the importance of this Conference to both Meltor and Edofasia, and I must thank you Saloa for reaching out to the other factions first this would not have been possible by our efforts alone." 

But why did you never come to me? 

"I refuse to let that man be in charge, his reckless idealism will doom us in open conflict." Already pressing the advantage Qwentana directly points at me. 

"Your own pursuit of a 'Constantly Prepared State' will bankrupt the nation in the name of pointless weapons and war." I charge back, I refuse to recognise this man as a potential leader. 

"Do you honestly believe that your so-called pursuit of Salvation is any better? The World's people will never unite under one nation let alone the Communist banner; you'll die a martyr bound to your own dreams." 
"And you think the people will never join when threated with the barrel of a gun?" The argument is heating up already and it's not even been a minute. 
"You know this conference has 5 members, not 2 right?" Lisi asks. 
"And do you honestly think your bureaucrats can win a war? You'll doom us to perpetual pencil pushing and web weaving." Now that's just harsh. 

Glancing to the right the Edofasian is staring directly at the Anarchist representative, seemingly uncaring over the anarchy around him. 
"Qwentana I've saved your ass countless times don't give me that bullshit, how the hell do you think you've been on the run for so long?" 

"Even with your information the barrels of my soldiers would have one the day." 

"Bullshit." This situation is becoming increasingly untenable. 
 
"Comrades, Comrades" the Anarchist representative rises from his chair "This is our first and likely only chance to unify into a firm front against Communism and bickering over who will be leader is going to get up nowhere, so how about we simply create a Council not disunited due to our interpretations of ideology but united under our single dream of unification. Meltor will be doomed to perpetual anguish if we're unable to sort out our differences and move towards a better tomorrow, surely this can be a matter we can all agree on?" 
"Perhaps," I begin "you're right Comrade, if we forever remain disunited simply because we cannot agree on how a Communist Meltor should be ran then it would be better if it never got a chance to exist at all." 

"Agreed." The others say at once, some more enthusiastic than others.  

"Well, that was an excellent start I'd say." The Edofasian piques up. "But first I say you should all drink to your initial successes, you can find the bar at the back." Pointing to a door at the back of the hall, the alluring smell of some good alcohol spewing forth. 

"I do apologise about some of the uninvited guests in there, what can I say some of those old men can drink." 

Almost immediately Ohea jumps off his chair for the chance of some good drinking with the rest following behind him. 

"Tell me, why was I never contacted by you?" I pointedly ask him; this is no times for beating around the bush. 

"Simply enough, we knew you would be the man who would be most willing to accept this." Getting off his chair. "But enough of that talk Comrade let's have a drink." 

Whilst these Edofasians certainly have their own goals for the coming conflict, their help is welcome nevertheless. 

"Of course, Comrade, let this be a beginning of a glorious partnership and United Front of Communism." 
Written in collaboration with Meltor

Perisu
Meltor

She couldn’t believe what she was reading. An absolute improbability that she would have laughed at yesterday morning. Maybe it was a false report. No, it had to be a false report. There is no way that this could have happened, no way such a massive wedge could appear so unpredictably, it had to be some kind of rotten joke.

Reading over it again, it was impossible.

Quote:
Your Sublime Majesty,

I send this hasty letter to present you with the most grave of news: The Communists have united. Whilst I cannot say how nor can I say why it has occurred but the worst has indeed occurred. Whether by outside interference from the damnable Edofasians or their own trickery they have created a so-called “People's Free Meltorian Army” against your rule and that of the corporations.

Whilst I must admit it is an admirable cause to fight against the corporations, they have now quickly excelled in becoming the largest threat to the continued existence of the Meltorian crown. This is a matter that must change, and fast. Or else everything you’ve planned for over the past few years will all be put to the gallows.

While I know my advice will likely go under-appreciated, I feel like I must say it now: you must seek help from an international ally. Though many of them conduct business with the corporations that plague this land, the Kaltach Union will not hesitate at a chance to strike at the Terrans, especially the Edofasians. It doesn’t matter if you approach Candanadium, Akarea, or the others, as long as you ask, you will receive an answer.

I believe an expansion of your cabal is in order.

From your little friend.

The hastily written letter but fine penmanship is characteristic of his style. Still, the matter remained that this occurrence was nigh impossible. Looking up, her Royal Protector Sieion von Actu stood before her, waiting, with a concerned look on his face.

“You’re sure this is not fake, Sieion?” She asks.

“My Empress, it came from the usual location. There is no possible way it could be fake.” He replied back. “And if it were, we’d both be surrounded by Corporates around about now.”

Laying back onto the old wooden chair with a large creak, the large chandelier of her private study hung over her like an unreachable devil, toying with her, refusing to let her have a good stretch without blinding her with a mountain’s worth of gems and pointless jewellery. The roof of her study was a pleasant blue, with inbuilt light fixtures to create as little disturbance as possible. She remembered back when she was a child when her father decided to let her have a small peek into the study, back when the room was filled with paperwork for his many planned reforms, but now, it was just an ordinary study, its significance lost to the annals of history. Returning to her normal posture and staring back down at the letter again, she couldn’t help but contemplate what to do.

“My Lady, if I may,” Sieion continued without even asking for her permission, “it would be wise if you heeded his advice and attempted to contact the outsiders for help. We cannot take on both the communist traitors and the corporate snakes, even with the support we’ve accumulated over the years, especially now that the communists have organized into a united front.”

“I’ll charge you for treason one day for all the times you’ve done that without asking permission.” She said slyly, with a grin on her face. 

“Of course, my lady.” Taking it as his cue to leave the Royal Protector began to make his way out of the study. “The question is, who would come to Meltor’s aid?” He added.

“Just… go contact the Candanadian embassy. If the Edofasians are behind the latest plot then we will find no help in Terra. Kaltachia is our only option.” She called to him, hesitant from his silent challenge.

“Yes, my lady.” Clearly pleased with his slight victory he made his way outside with a quickened pace.

I’ll shoot you one day. She thought to herself, returning to her devilish chandelier on high.

---

Out of all the places for an ambitious Candanadian diplomat to be placed, Meltor was the worst. The little Kingdom down in the far south of the globe was about as far as one could get from the luxury of the Konigstadts or Port Newcastle. Here, the sun was unforgiving as the bandits that roamed the vast deserts, and the value of a human life was regularly quantified in terms of statzoons, statrons, and statglos. No state banquets or high-level visits ever happened here, only clashes between corporate militias and their disgruntled, disenfranchised workers. Indeed, living in Meltor was the number one cause of death for members of His Majesty’s Foreign Service.

Jonathan Bridge did not like sand. It was coarse, rough, and irritating, and it got everywhere. He had even less love for heat and queer languages, and so, when he received his diplomatic assignment to Meltor, he went to the River Osean and prayed to the nameless gods for forgiveness, for he knew he’d angered them somehow. What sane man would voluntarily deploy to Meltor? Alas, it was unlikely that the Crown would see fit to deploy a freshly minted foreign service officer to the embassies in Fujing or Gufufloinn or a consulate in Königsgorad or Hofn. Meltor was a costly assignment for the Crown, and if he was able to survive the three-year deployment he would at least have room for promotion. Besides, it’s not as if he was particularly distinguished in the Foreign Service. Jonathan Bridge hailed from Flussford-on-Osean and spoke Oseanian and Kanadiaans fluently (as was mandated by the Foreign Service), served without distinction in the Candanadian Army as part of his national service, and had majored in international relations at Harroway College, which was a respectable, albeit strictly middle-of-the-pack school. They had told him that it would be an honour to become ambassador and head of mission at such a young age and as his first posting, but the Royal Candanadian Embassy in Perisu was about as modest as a Candanadian embassy could get. Oh, sure, it featured a Kronus and MacDulwage’s so that the staff could feel closer to home, but that was about it in terms of material comforts. Here, the familiar red-brick of Candanadian government buildings was replaced with concrete slabs and high fences, one wire fence to stop any projectiles and another brick fence topped with razor wire. In a way, it was like living and working in a prison.

And a prison it was. For Jonathan, or, officially, His Excellency, the Ambassador of His Candanadian Majesty to the Second United Kingdom of Meltor, it meant paperwork, day in, day out. Ever since the Candanadian government began granting asylum to Meltorians who were being hunted by the massive corporations of the country and escaped slaves, his job had been reduced to that of a glorified secretary. He had to stamp and sign and log every single visa and refugee travel document and asylum grant that came out of his office, and work. The only time he had ever seen the Empress of Meltor or, in fact, anyone involved with the Meltorian government was on the day he arrived, almost three months ago, when he had to present his diplomatic credentials to the Empress. To him, the Empress looked like a frightened child, a puppet in the hands of the conglomerates that actually called the shots in Meltor, but he held no strong opinions on any of the factions inside the Imperial Meltorian Government. After all, the Crown didn’t pay him to play politician at the Meltorian court. It paid him to let in a steady, though not too steady, stream of Meltorian asylum seekers and refugees, just enough to maintain Candanadium’s image of being a “tolerant and open nation”, and a “federation of all races”, as far as the official line went. Sometimes, the thought of it was sickening.

As Jonathan finished another bland cafeteria lunch (leftover fried chicken and mixed greens salad) and sat back down at his desk (slightly larger than standard, as befits the ambassador), he noticed something out of the ordinary, above the pile of visa applications and Meltorian passports. A plain white envelope, addressed to nobody in particular, sealed with a dollop of blue wax so dark it was almost black. The seal featured the same stars found on the Meltorian flag, and Jonathan broke the seal and drew out a letter. Judging by the smeared ink and looping hand, it was hastily written.

Quote:Your Excellency,

I pray that you will forgive my brevity and the informal nature of this communique, however, I have been charged by Her Sublime Majesty with a task of the utmost urgency and importance. 

Meltor is, as you will surely know, a nation plagued by many injustices and evils. Slavery, oppression, and routine violence has sadly become the norm of our land in recent years. Sadder still is the inability of Her Sublime Majesty and her loyal government to do anything about it. The corporate conglomerates abuse the workers of the land, and in response they turn to political extremism and terrorism. This has been exacerbated by the intervention of the Terrans, as cursed as they may be, who have begun to fund communist guerilla movements within Meltor, in an effort to destabilize the nation even further and fragment the nation into civil conflict. 

I am sure that you and your government will agree, sir, that under no circumstances can Meltor fall under communist rule, nor should it become the plaything of monopolists and slavers. Her Sublime Majesty and her government desire to create a free and democratic Meltor, but as the situation currently stands, we are unable to do so.

Therefore, Her Sublime Majesty requests you attend her in the Tower of Hegemony at midday tomorrow, as certain things cannot be expressed in words alone. Please find enclosed an official invitation to present to the guards.

Your presence and assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Most sincerely,
Sielon von Actu
Royal Protector

P.S. I would consider it wise to have this letter destroyed, once you have memorized its contents.

Jonathan read through the letter twice more to make sure he had understood everything correctly, but his mind was fixated on one word.

“Requests?” Since when do Empresses “request” the attendance of foreign ambassadors? He thought to himself. Then it came to him. 

Two button presses and a brief moment later, the letter was shredded into pieces almost as fine as Meltorian sand. All that remained on the Ambassador’s desk was a dark blue card with gold lettering in the Meltorian tongue, embossed with the Meltorian stars.

---

The Tower of Hegemony was not hard to find, which was surprising, given how Perisu’s streets were a jumbled mess of dead ends, cul-de-sacs, and one-way roads, with cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians all vying for space in the one-lane roads sandwiched between shantytowns and the sorry excuses for skyscrapers, which were more like giant concrete slabs than anything. Although the Tower was always visible from Jonathan’s office on the fifth floor of the embassy, it took him and his armoured SUV almost an hour to get there through the ever-lasting traffic jam and the gaggles of slaves and beggars roaming the streets.

The Tower in question dominated the highrise of Perisu, its strikingly clean exterior contrasted heavily to the other drab buildings that surrounded it. The Tower itself was only the second portion of the greater Edmunda Palace, the other section known as the Heiondra was where the two Houses of Meltor - the Imperial House and the People’s House - met. The Heiondra was constructed of what appeared to be sand-coloured limestone and concrete, and was constructed in about 1898, if memory serves Jonathan right. The Tower of Hegemony was constructed at about the same time and serves as the royal residence of the House of Numenor, and, by extension, the Emperor (or, in this case,  Empress) of Meltor. Unlike the Heiondra, however, almost twenty years ago the Tower was almost destroyed after multiple explosions rocked the base and top, leading to the death of the previous Emperor and much of the Royal Family. This gave the building a weird ability to invoke both the old architecture akin to that of the Heiondra and the more new hastily patched up work to repair the damages of the terrorist attack. Even as he stepped out of his SUV and into the inner courtyard with the entrance to the Tower, Jonathan could see scaffolding around parts of it and what was presumed to be slave labourers working away at repairing the damage that persisted neigh twenty years later.

The Guards seemed to have been briefed about his coming, as he only had to flash the dark-blue invitation he’d been given before they stepped aside and allowed him entrance. It could also have been the fact that he was considerably more well-dressed than the common Meltorian corporatist, slaver, or other unsavoury character that might want to seek the Empress’s audience. In any case, the crowned tri-maple on his lapel was evidence enough that he was no Meltorian. Another guard on the inside saluted him, took his invitation, and led him down a hall.

Hou Majestu Sublem est veigo au dessux ou, pordu cetum Elevator.”

“I’m sorry?” Jonathan had never learned Meltorian, since there was never much need to prior to him arriving down south. Sure, he’d picked up the odd phrase here and there, but he was by no means fluent in the language, and the guard’s accent didn’t help things any. “Sprechen Sie Kanadiaans?” He tried the traditionally more well-known of the two official languages of Candanadium.

“Hmm… Meloess, ah, Imperatorin, hoch ist.” The guard gestured with his finger in an attempt to aid in communication. “Das nehmen.” He pointed to an elevator, the third from the right. There were five elevators in front of him in total, each with lettering in Meltorian that presumably indicated what floors it served.

Wie ‘hoch’ ist sie?” Jonathan got that the Empress was on a floor above, but the guard didn’t specify which.

“Uhhh… Zehn.” The guard seemed to have a hard time remembering Kanadiaans, but as crude as his language was, Jonathan was able to understand.

“Tenth floor. Alright. Dankeschön.” The guard nodded in response and saluted him again. The elevator doors seemed to open right on cue, and Jonathan stepped inside, pressing the button labelled “10” and thanked the gods that the Meltorians at least used the same numbers as the rest of the world. The ride didn’t take long, and soon, the doors opened again into another hallway, with a pair of ornate doors at the end and a pair of guardsmen standing on either side, standing still as statues. As Jonathan’s steps echoed past the hallway, they suddenly sprang to life and, with a dramatic flourish, threw open the double doors as a herald announced what Jonathan presumed to be his name and title.

Jonathan was almost blinded by the enormous chandelier that hung from the ceiling of the room he suddenly found himself in. It was all glass and crystal, glittering in the late morning sun that spilled in from the tall windows and all over the dark blue carpet. The walls were lined with bookshelves filled with countless ancient tomes, the spines facing outward forming a collage of colour. In the centre of it all, behind a massive mahogany desk, was a young woman dwarfed by the upholstered chair she sat in, a simple tiara upon her head. 

Ihre erhabene Majestät.” He spoke in Kanadiaans, as according to the files he’d requested from New Konigstadt in preparation for this event, the Empress did not speak Oseanian. He had dropped to one knee, as was custom in Candanadium, but he was quickly helped up by a strong pair of arms.

“There’s no need for that, ambassador. Bowing will suffice.” The Empress said, in a calm but firm voice that was uncharacteristic of her youth. “Thank you, Sieion.” She nodded at the man dressed in military uniform that now stood by Jonathan’s side, the same man that had helped him up. 

“In that case, please excuse me.” Jonathan bowed curtly at the Empress. “I presume it is you who contacted me?” He turned to face the man the Empress had addressed as Sieion.

“Indeed it is. I trust you have disposed of the letter?”

“Of course.”

“Ambassador. Sieion. Please, be seated.” The Empress gestured to two chairs that were opposite her own. Jonathan hastily took a seat, and the Royal Protector did the same. “I trust you already know the purpose of this meeting.”

“I have an idea, yes.” Jonathan was waiting to hear everything from the Empress herself. He had no idea how much of the letter was the Empress’s own words and how many were the words of her enigmatic Royal Protector.

“I know of Meltor’s reputation abroad. I know that images of the slave markets and the war zones have been seen the world over, and I know you must think me to be the most depraved slaver of all. While it is true that many of our people suffer under the yoke of oppression, that is not the work of me nor my elected government. The Throne is crippled under the influence of the corporations, and I have been turned into their puppet. My sublime father, may he be at rest, worked hard to reform Meltor and free the common people from the bonds of slavery, but alas, the corporations killed him, right in this tower.” The Empress paused, as if to gather herself.

“I am most sorry to hear that, ma’am. Truly, I am. I understood well from the Royal Protector’s letter that you seek to establish democracy and strike back against the unchecked power of these corporations, but I also gathered that there were… difficulties with support among the public?” Jonathan tried probing deeper.

“Not exactly. The people will follow the Throne. They know of my late father’s efforts to liberate this land. My family has ruled this land for thousands of years, before your Wilhelmus of Magnare even landed in Belkhomir. It’s not a matter of support, but rather, of the lack of a united front, and certain foreign powers have attempted to use that as a means to subvert the will of the people to establish a regime friendly to them. The People’s House is with us.”

“The treacherous and backstabbing nature of the Terrans is well known.” The Royal Protector interjected, and the Empress glared at him. “As a soldier, I fear that war will be upon us soon, whether we like it or not.”

“Yes. Even now, the corporations are building their strength, deploying their private militias in an attempt to wipe out the emerging communist insurrection, but no matter who emerges victorious from this conflict, the people of Meltor will suffer, and all hope of democracy will be lost.”

“This is precisely why-” The Royal Protector attempted to cut in again but the Empress stopped him by raising a hand. 

“This is why we must ask for the support of Candanadium and Kaltachia in the wars to come. The Imperial Army is poorly equipped and trained, but what they lack in material they will make up for tenfold in spirit and morale. Unfortunately, wars cannot be won with spirit alone. Victory would mean liberation for all of Meltor, but as it stands right now, the world is against us.”

The ambassador was awestruck. He placed a hand to his chin in an effort to seem contemplative and to hide his surprise at the Empress. The files from New Konigstadt said that the Empress was only nineteen years of age, but her skills in speechcraft were undeniable. Jonathan searched for the right words, but found none.

“To be perfectly honest, ma’am, your letter and your words have already convinced me. However, it is not me you need to convince, but the King and Chancellor.”

“Is that not the job of the ambassador?” The Empress tilted her head inquisitively.

“Not exactly, ma’am. I am the ambassador of His Candanadian Majesty to your court, and it would be improper for me to represent your interests. However, I know of another way.”

“Do tell.” The Royal Protector chimed in.

“The Kaltach Union Congress in Schwannburg will happen soon, now that the new year has passed, but it is not without precedent for the King to host the monarch or leader of a non-Kaltach nation in New Konigstadt before the Congress itself, traditionally as a symbolic gesture of goodwill and inclusion. As far as I know, there are no plans this year as of yet, and I am confident that I can secure an invitation for you and your court.” A golden opportunity had just presented itself. New Konigstadt would jump at the opportunity of showcasing the extent of Candanadium’s diplomatic influence right before the KU Congress, and what better way to do that than to parade a foreign Empress hand in hand with the King through the streets of the capital? The King was a young man still, no more than 23 years of age, and unwed. The rumours would fly after such a state visit, and even if the Chancellor and Privy Council dislike the idea of aiding Meltor in a civil war, the message of solidarity would be enough for the Terrans to at least reconsider their options. Ironically, this was shaping up to be Jonathan’s ticket out of this dead-end deployment.

“In that case, I am most grateful to you. If this can indeed be achieved, then we will be forever in your debt.”

“Perhaps not just yet, your sublime majesty, but I will try my hardest to get this done.” Jonathan rose once more and bowed to the Empress. “By your leave, ma’am.”

---

“Do you believe he is trustworthy, Sieion?” Edelgard breaks the silence between them, a few minutes had passed since the Candanadian diplomat had left the room.

“He’s certainly no Corporate slave but, he certainly has things to gain by doing this.” 

“Such as?”

“Getting off this damnable rock for one, is certainly going to get him excited, their embassy looks more akin to a prison than that of a place of welcome to all peoples.” He gestures out of the window in which the embassy is only barely in view, fully surrounded by fences, the tri-maple flag, and the Kaltach eagle fluttering above.

“Maybe, but I want him watched, this land of beggars and thieves often attracts others of its kind. Something about him screams opportunist to me. Though I don’t doubt he can get what he promised done, his motivations are less than clear.”

“My Empress surely this is-”

“No, the amount of treason you have committed today by interrupting me is astounding and no it wasn’t just some of your usual shenanigans in front of some guard. It was in front of Candanadium’s own ambassador, who I might add is from the most powerful country in the world. I will not have my international image tarnished even further by having a boisterous Protector. So get it done.”

“But you do have to admit we make a good power couple.”

“Shut it.”

“Of course, my Empress.” Bowing before her he begins to leave the study with his orders ready. “How many sugars?” Suddenly turning around with a massive grin on his face.

“Three, I need a damn drink.” Laying back on her chair and staring yet again at the accusured chandelier.

“The day is coming, Father. I pray I am worthy to fight in your stead.”

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS


Neve Government to Strengthen Sanctions


With overly influential corporate actors and worsening refugee crisis, Meltorian regime
threatens to collapse into civil war.

Newly arrived Meltorian refugees await processing of their asylum claims. Many arrive with nothing but the clothing on their backs after harsh

By: Silvius Augustinus

The Kingdom of Meltor, also referred to as the 'world's sweatshop', has for many years been widely known for ineffective government control and substandard workers rights and conditions. Relevations several months ago about the financial information relating to the human trafficking in Meltor enabled a series of targeted sanctions against high level individuals and the corporate fronts used to move the money around. Subsquent investigative reporting by The Moscou Times has revealed that the situation on the ground goes much further.

For many years the situation on the ground was compared to slavery for the neglegable pay, long hours, and dangerous conditions. However, this slavery is quite literal. Meltorian Firms such as the Fire Sands Company, Silver Glass Company, and the Neya-Mara Mining Company have been identified as grossly abusing human rights and dignity in the course of their profittering. All three firms to varying degrees operate slave labour forces and the so-called 'lucky' workers face abusive management and unrealistic quotas for less than a denarius a day.

Lara Janus, a spokesperson for the Financial Crimes Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, stated "These abhorrant business practices undermine genuine free-market competition between firms on the international field and represent a moral and legal failing to offer even the most basic of human decency to workers." This unusally spirited statement comes on the back of a failed opposition movement to enhance legal barriers to imports from non-preferential nations. This would further protect lower skilled manufactoring jobs in the rapidly deindustrializing manufactoring core that has been eroded by low cost imports from developing nations such as Meltor and others.

The specific sanctions have expanded byond the shell companies used to move blood money to total corporate asset freezing. As of this morning, the Financial Crimes Bureau reported that it had frozen 232 million Denarii worth of liquid assets from the three leading Meltorian firms. This represented primarily liquid assets held to cover capital goods purched from Cenaesian firms, insurance products, and long-term diversified operating reserve. However, it also included a "signifigant" amount of payments for goods and services rendered by the sanctioned firms which had not yet cleared either to the Meltorian Statzoon or into other foreign currencies.

In addition to these corporate freezings, 521 million Denarii worth of stocks, physical bullion, liquid assets, and other securities instruments had been seized. These belonged to various members of the management and governing boards. In particular sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss enforcement actions publicly, stated that board members of the Neya-Mara Mining Company were especially hard hit. However, it remains unclear if the announced amount represents the total amount of assets frozen belonging to the executives and also held in Cenaesian banks, or if it represented the total value of their investments in Cenaesian firms and were actually held in foreign accounts.

In addition officials stated they had invoked section 12 of the 1999 Additional Protocal of the Terran Commonwealth, which gave sweeping powers to each nation to pursue legal assets held by criminals regardless of physical borders. When asked, the Finacial Crimes Bureau simply stated that they had "worked extraordinarily closely with international allies and partners to execute this surprise asset freezing."

When reached for comment, representatives from the Neya-Mara Mining Company simply stated:


Neya-Mara Mining company vigurously refutes and denies the inflamatory language published by The Moscou Times this week, and finds its methodology substancially flawed. It is important to note that the cost of living in Meltor is dramatically lower than in northern states, and that what constitutes pocket change represents a real and substancial wage.

Further more, Neya-Mara is committed to following all relevant leqal requirements for labor standards and wages in all markets that it operates in. Neya-Mara is a industry leader in the Kingdom of Meltor for wage, gender, and labour standards. We vigarously promote efforts to follow the legal requirements set out by the government of Meltor and pay competitve market wages to all employees and follows necessary laws for the treatment of all contractors.


Questions remain however, about if there will be any financial or trade sanctions against Candanadium or the Candanadium Crown in particular for the relevations from the Luxlein papers about the foreign King's blood money. When pressed during the briefing, the Financial Crimes Bureau gave no response. Additionally, several career government sources, speaking off the record for fear of reprisal, stated they were unsure if the move was simply cover for the government to try and raise trade barriers as the spectre of a no confidence vote continues to linger even after this previous summers aggressive efforts to reshore the governing coalition by Prime Minister Neve.

Questions remain however, about if there will be any financial or trade sanctions against Candanadium or the Candanadium Crown in particular for the relevations from the Luxlein papers about the foreign King's blood money. When pressed during the briefing, the Financial Crimes Bureau gave no response. Additionally, several career government sources, speaking off the record for fear of reprisal, stated they were unsure if the move was simply cover for the government to try and raise trade barriers as the spectre of a no confidence vote continues to linger even after this previous summers aggressive efforts to reshore the governing coalition by Prime Minister Neve.