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  1. (OOC topic: Group of Island Nations.) Prologue Most island nations weren't directly involved with the Second Argic War (1968-1974). As islands, their relative geographic isolation was one advantage. Shielded by a natural 'wall of water', any military action would require transport across the sea. And a large-scale maritime invasion was never in the books. But none of the islands nations could escape the consequences of the Argic conflict. They felt its impact in all kinds of ways. This wall of water was also a curse. Any island nation, whether they be small like @Llalta and @Oyus or large like the @Seylos or @Gallambria, dependend on maritime shipping for imports of raw materials and finished products. They had made efforts in the 1960s to diversify the sources of supply. But the degree of their vulnerability had never been registered with such intensity as during this 2nd Argic War. By the summer of 1972, the dependence on foreign imports was becoming critical. Especially the energy supply faced two serious problems: uncertain supply and high cost. Events in Argis led to another round of crude oil price increases. The warring parties were willing to pay steep prices to keep their military machines running. If needed they'd take out massive loans. Whatever energy output remained, it had to be shared among non-combatant nations. And island nations were the last in line. Motorists and truck drivers faced long lines at gas stations beginning in summer 1972 and again in 1973. Fishers were protesting because their trips were becoming uneconomical. Criminals were buying up whatever they could get their hands on, to resell these same goods at exorbitant prices. People were unhappy. And by 1974 this displeasure was showing. ∴ 9 March 1974 Imperial summer palace Orioni Marble floors. Large windows. A high ceiling. Tropical potted plants in the corner. The Empress' audience chamber looked impressive as ever. It was only March, but the temperatures in southern Orioni were already quite warm for this time of the year. The ageing empress never liked to stay in the busy city of O'polis. At age 66, Empress Owa Nabérrie (1908-1989) preferred the summer palace by the sea. It had a much better view. And there was plenty of fresh air. Salty, perhaps, but that's just how she liked it. "Our people are complaining," grumbled Empress Owa Nabérrie at the Chairlady during the weekly audience. "And you don't seem to be doing anything about it, Berhanu." Owa remained comfortably seated. Perhaps if she'd been 20 years younger, she would have gotten in Berhanu's face about it. But that was then. It wasn't the first time Chairlady Berhanu Talagi had received a scolding from the ageing monarch. And for good reason. Berhanu remembered her promises during the general election. How she'd create more jobs and promote Orinese exports. So she apologised profusely. "Your Highness, I'm as concerned about the situation as you are. The people are sick of these high energy prices. It's the war in Argis. It's been really hurting our economy. The conflict is making it very difficult for us. We have to juggle the competing interests of food imports, electricity production and gasoline." "Yes, Berhanu. I know that. Any college-level student knows that. You don't have to lecture me about policy," answered the Empress calmly. Berhanu’s explanation didn’t convince her. Blaming others wasn't reason enough to explain the government's inaction. She had expected an answer like that. With a small smile, she replied: "Surely our nation is not the only experiencing these problems? Just look at how that young king Tomasso is using nuclear technology over at the @Sunset Sea Islands. Where are our nuclear power plants?" Berhanu felt lost for words. Yes, she'd known of the early successes of this new technology. "Your Highness, this is true. But there are also the Gallambrians and Kipanese, who face similar issues as we do. Energy prices won't come down as long as this Argic War rages on." Owa wasn't buying it. Another deflection, she thought. Politicians are always putting the blame on others. "Nonsense. I'm sure there's a way forward. I suggest you send a telegram to the leaders of these other nations. There's a lot we can learn from one another. I expect to see some results, Chairlady, and I expect them soon." Owa extended her hand, signalling that this audience had ended. "Yes, your Highness, I will get on it right away," answered Berhanu. She wouldn't send a telegram. Telegrams were old technology, from the Empress youth. Much easier would be to use the telephone or telex. Those had become more and more reliable for international communication. (OOC: please review these comments.)
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