Jump to content

Red Royalty


Fulgistan

Recommended Posts

25th May, 2013. Port of Wulumuqi.

placeholder-hero-image-name_x400_31.jpg

"I'm sorry, Bayanchur, he's arriving how?"

"By...royal yacht, Comrade General Secretary. Apparently they'll be here in the next hour."

"God, monarchists are strange."

The Royal Yacht of the Grand Duke of @Pallamara, after a relatively long voyage, finally came in sight. Lacking the appropriate antique battleship, Secretary for Culture Tekin had thoughtfully prepared an artillery salute instead. Waiting by the quayside with the honor guard and the press, freshly minted General Secretary Tomur Almas was a little nervous. He'd had some state visits already, of course, but those were with nations he was familiar with; Variota, South Bahinar, Amhara, the like. Not only that, but this would be the Worker's Republic's first official hosting of a monarch in, well, nearly a century since the revolution. The populace was largely indifferent to it; some of them even thought it was romantic, but the hardliners in the Party were livid with him. Still, Pallamara was a stable, introspective nation, and, more to the point, they had some of the finest shipwrights on Eurth. Almas was prepared to put up with a lot if it meant the Revolutionary Guard Naval Force didn't have to cruise around in rust buckets from the 60s anymore.

The Royal Yacht extended its gangplank, and the Grand Duke, alongside his entourage, made landfall. He carried himself not quite elegantly, but more...firmly, with a seaman's air about him. The honor guard saluted as Almas made his way through the parting crowd. Performing first the traditional Fulgistani bow, he then extended a hand.

"Your Majesty, it is my honor to welcome you to Fulgistan, on behalf of all its people."

Link to comment

Even then, the Grand Duke, Valentinian III, wasn't a young man, being in his late 50s.  Contrary to the lavishness his yacht represented, the man himself was dressed rather simply, and for a state occasion at that.  He wore the uniform of a Colonel of the Maranesian Mounted Rifles, his personal guard, and while it was of the finest make and cut, there were no insignia of rank, no medals,sashes, nor other trappings of nobility or royalty, only a rather plain dark green military tunic with a stiff, mandarin collar.  This wasn't a slight on the part of the monarch, however; he'd only worn such things once, on the day of his coronation, and never again since, whatever the occasion.  though he loved to surround himself with beauty and luxury, such as with his yacht, and it's amazing collection of Tiffany Glass, the man was rather strict in his personal habits, as was suggested by a his lean, ascetic built, and a visage that bordered on gaunt.  Rumors said that he was teetotaler, drinking nothing more potent than "coffee strong enough to scour old tile clean".

"Thank you; it's an honor to be here, and to see for myself the beauty of your nation," Valentinian replied, gripping Almas's hand in a firm shake.  Aboard the yacht above them, were a contingent of Pallamaran honor guards, consisting of Mounted Rifles, Marines, and regular Guard Cavalry, but only a couple of civilian aides had actually accompanied the Duke down the gangplank, and were standing several paces behind him.  "It's a land of many stories, and I hope to learn some of them firsthand, during my visit here."

Pallamara,%20Grand%20Duke%20Valentinian%

Link to comment

After the exchange of greetings, the two men and their entourages entered the waiting motorcade, which would take them not to the Xuanwu Palace or even the House of the Revolution, but to the government terminal at Bogd Gioro airport for transport to the Chrysanthemum Palace in central Fulgistan. Almas preferred to use it for extended visits that didn't require public appearances or prying eyes. In its heyday, it had been the hunting lodge of the Sultans, and now was used as a country retreat for senior Party officials.

13893951963_39d3d7a409_b.jpg

When the others had been ushered inside to take their leisure in some pavilion or other, Almas and the Grand Duke made their way to the stables, where two fine Fulgistani horses had been saddled.

"I take it you ride, Your Majesty? It's something of a national tradition in our country."

Link to comment

"Indeed I do," he replied, "though I won't claim to be as proficient at it as many of my own countrymen, let alone yours."  That was one of the personality traits of the Pallamaran monarch; he was never afraid to admit when he might not be as good, let alone better at something than somebody else.  That wasn't to say he was a particularly humble man, merely one with a realistic sense of his own limitations.  Still, Valentinian would have no trouble mounting his horse, after letting the president go first; thankfully, tall riding boots were part of his normal attire.  While not appearing as at ease with his mount as  Almas, his riding style was a distinctly military one, probably being one and the same as that of the Ducal Horse Guards; in particular, it would be noted he took both reins with a single hand, his left, leaving the right free for such things as swordplay. 

"They are magnificent specimens, to be sure," the duke observed, sitting straight in the saddle.  The horses were slightly smaller, finer featured and it seemed to him, more streamlined in aspect than the Baroque breeds he was familiar with.  It probably also went without saying that they'd likewise be faster on the track.  

Edited by Pallamara (see edit history)
Link to comment

"Thank you, sir; they are the pride of our nation."

Almas and Valentinian urged their mounts out of the stables at a walk, onto a dirt track that ran throughout the outer part of the palace grounds. The hunting preserve of the Sultans had been preserved, though few people elected to take game during their stay. This meant that wildlife flourished on the grounds of the Chrysanthemum Palace; eland, wild horses, giraffes, and, on rare occasions, Alharun elephants. Thankfully, the skies were partly clouded, affording the two men some shelter from the tropical sun. At this easy pace, Almas decided to strike up the conversation they'd really come here to have; that concerning trade and commerce.

"Your Majesty, I understand that you wish to make use of Fulgistan's industrial base in the interests of your nation's shipping, is that correct?"

Link to comment

"We have interests that lie in that direction, particularly with regards to commercial shipbuilding.  As you're no doubt aware, we're very well known for being world class when it comes to naval shipbuilding, but mercantile shipbuilding is a vastly different business.  In short, unlike naval vessels, commerce ones need to be built very cheaply to a strict schedule and bottom line.   Unfortunately, this also requires both a large skilled, and unskilled workforce to accomplish, that labor costs in Pallamara itself make prohibitive," he sighed. 

"While we've managed to contract elsewhere in the past to manage this, none of those other suppliers have proven consistently reliable enough to meet our longterm needs in that department, meaning we're always shifting around suppliers, with all the uncertainty and chaos that entails.  While Oranje, our own company is the worst effected by this, it's a problem to one degree or another for all the shipping companies in the nation.  If your nation could prove itself a reliable, stable manufacturer of such vessels, I suspect we could do a good bit of business," the Grand duke paused before continuing. 

"Unfortunately, there are concerns about the future political, reliability and perhaps even stability of Fulgistan.  You're still a communist government, and while it is vaguely understood that you wish to....chart a different course, it's not yet clear if the rest of the party, particularly the hardcore elements of it will, go along so easily, and that's not the only complication involved, the other being the state of your present yards.  Our people estimate that with proper investment and modernization, they could do what's asked of them in this regard, but it would entail that investment by our concerns, and currently, under your present system, there doesn't even exist a mechanism to facilitate such a thing, so I hope you can understand our....trepidation in the matter." 

Link to comment

"Fulgistan, your majesty, now celebrates its ninetieth year as a free country. We are proud, committed, and indebted to the prosperity and the peace our current form of government has afforded us. It is a rare thing indeed for the monarch of any country to receive an invitation to visit our nation. You are, in fact, the first to do so since the revolution. This, in and of itself, should indicate the changing wind."

Their horses drew near to a copse of acacia trees, where Almas reined in his mount, offering both men a respite from the sun. In the grasses around, insects chittered alongside the birds that hunted them.

"However, you make a fair point; I can pull some strings, and, in all likelihood, offer your corporations a contract to overhaul the Samarkhand Province shipyards south of Wulumuqi. We cannot offer you a permanent corporate presence in Fulgistan as such, but nonetheless, exchange of embassies can be easily arranged and I am certain, given the circumstances, and following this worldwide recession, myself and the Central Committee, alongside the legislature and yourself, can draw up favorable trade deals. All this is provided, of course, that our relationship prove mutually beneficial. For now, perhaps some preliminary shipments of steel and textiles, for you to see our quality?"

Link to comment

"We can certainly handle the overhaul for you, if that's the way you want to go with this," The Grand Duke noted agreeably.  "Steel and textile are something we're always interested in buying as well.  As far as your end of this goes, we're willing to offer you some of our military, particularly naval technology, in order to upgrade your forces.  Your naval assets in particular are far behind modern standards, something our yards at Royal Schelde can fix.  Having said that, you can't immediately transition from what you're sailing now to state of the art vessels.  It so happens we have a class of older frigates, the Astate Class, that were built in the 1990s, that we're getting ready to retire to the reserves.  They're fine and sturdy vessels, with a good bit of life still left in them, but not as economical to operate as more modern designs we're pursuing.  What we're willing to do is to arrange the transfer of them to your navy at a fair price, after they've been overhauled and equipped with a sensor suite similar to what your new vessels will be receiving.  This would enable them to act as training vessels, while you wait for the new order to arrive, so that your crews will be able to immediately transition over.  If we build you new frigates in equal numbers, it would probably be done in batches, with the first batch probably requiring around three years to build, while the second batch, could probably be built in two.  That would give you an oceangoing fleet of 24 frigates, which is practically an entire navy.   The yards would also assist your crews in training with the new systems, and naturally, there would be servicing contracts for the more complex bits of equipment that your industrial capacity isn't yet capable of reproducing, but these type of arrangements are pretty much par for the course, when it it comes to foreign contracts." 

"Of course, convincing the other factions of your government to accept this, is all your problem; there are some who won't be so fond of it, particularly as our nations have had....competing interests in the past, particularly under the reign of my father, Valarian. "  What Valentinian was referring to was during the 1960s through the 1980s, during the reign of the previous Pallamaran monarch, Pallamara had pursued a more expansionist policy.  Valarian, in contrast, had been a more flamboyant figure, not afraid to court controversy and engage in questionable, and often covert activities.  His son, the current Grand Duke, was a more somber figure, who had inherited the throne reluctantly at a rather later point in life, and who tended to avoid the limelight, preferring subtle manipulation to grand gestures, which made him a good bit more dangerous than the former grand duke--at least according to what the intel files on the man would show.  While Valarian had generally let the various special interests that dominated the country have their way as long as they supported his various schemes, Valentinian had worked hard to rein such groups in, generating more than bit of resentment from those parties early in his rule, but any notion of acting on those feelings had been thoroughly been  dissuaded by state security apparatus, in the form of the Pallamaran Paramilitary Police.  There had been some rather suspicious kidnappings, and other events that hovered just outside of mainstream media attention, while resulting in nobody being hurt, or seriously injured, even, had served as warning to those who would seek to meddle in affairs beyond their proper purview.    On a more public level, meanwhile the Grand Duke had also tightened control over the granting of Exemptions, which were exceptions to Pallamaran laws and regulations, usually for the benefit of one company or the other.  While a traditional power of the grand dukes, for much of the last half century, this had been delegated to an office under the control of the Assemblies, as a matter of practicality.  Under this arrangement, the number of such Exemptions had grown, especially during the last twenty years, and Valentinian had by, Ducal Decree, restored the Monarchy's right to grant such exceptions, declaring all previously granted ones void, while privately letting it be known that future such applications would pretty much go straight from his desk to the recycling plant. Through such actions as these, a good bit of the corruption which had been building up in the system had been abruptly checked.

"I think some of the ....incongruity between our systems of government could be cleared up with a proper understanding of Pallamara's monarchy, and its role in the modern state.  While for propaganda purposes, it's probably been useful to portray us as just another set of aristocrats leeching off the people, the actuality of the matter, is in our day, we were quite revolutionary.  It was the monarchy, after all, who granted the universal suffrage and equality under the law that all Pallamaran citizens enjoy, the monarchy who was behind the creation of the current constitution, and it was also the monarchy that put down a reactionary uprising formulated by the landowning class which had previously controlled much of the nation, through social and economic hegemony. In Pallamara, at least, we the protectors of the constitution, and the surest check against against the largely corporate, capitalistic interests that would otherwise try to subvert the political establishment to their own ends.  I firmly believe, if these facts, were properly presented to your people, it would do much to ease the concerns others in your public and government might have about a partnership between our nations.  Of course, that may seem rather incongruous with the fact we control one of the largest corporations in the nation, and it would be hypocritical to pretend we are anti-capitalist in the least.  It is better to say in this instance, that democracy and capitalism are the plant that grows the golden fruit--cutting it down would be an act of foolishness, but at the same time, we're not unwise enough to let it take over the entire garden, either.  We've already had that experience with the United East Seas Company, after all; it was an entity that grew too big to fail, and when it finally did, it nearly took down the entire country with it. That's a mistake that hasn't been repeated, and I'd humbly suggest an example that might be gainfully contemplated upon, as you seek to thread the needle with your own reforms,"  The old duke commented, turning to fix the president with his icy blue eyes, whose gaze seemed to lower the temperature of the hot day by several degrees. 

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...

"Your words carry weight, and for this I thank you. Indeed, much time has passed since Pallamara and Fulgistan had competing interests. Here, too, have opinions shifted. No one now looks over their shoulder for the secret police rounding up counter-revolutionaries; my people have now accepted that socialism is only to be installed by force in cases of great need, as in @Faramount. We have learned to treasure our democracy, and to violate the sanctity of it in any nation would be a great dishonor upon our great state."

Almas had been a child during Ismail Tunyaz's tenure as General Secretary, but even then he could feel the revolutionary spirit swelling anew in a country jaded by decades of mismanagement and state-sanctioned killings. At last, the dreams that Jian Bozaan had glimpsed in the '20s had seemed to come to light. In what seemed like a flash, Fulgistan had taken its place on the world stage, not only economically and diplomatically, but militarily. Aside from a few isolated projects in the 1980s and 90s, that had been the last major reform and upgrade of the equipment used by the men and women of the Revolutionary Guard. Perhaps not coincidentally, Tunyaz enjoyed stunning popularity in the country even to this day. Not even the most resolute Bozaanists could find fault with the idea of maintaining the Guard's condition as a fighting force.

"The exchange of vessels you propose is most agreeable to us, and I can give you my personal assurance as General Secretary that the Party is behind me in this regard; all have noted the unfortunate state of our military in the twenty-first century. In addition, it is my hope that this first major purchase from a foreign supplier outside of Varinco will provide a precedent for similar purchases in the near future."

Link to comment

"Excellent.  I think you'll find Pallamara to be a welcome trading partner, and our firms back home will eagerly look forward to doing business with you.  Steel and textiles may not be as exciting as tanks and warships, but unlike those things, our own people are constantly buying them, and you'll find that when it comes to such goods, quantity has a quality all of its own.  Having said that, one of my aides, we rather left behind, a Mr....Janssen I believe, wishes to do some substantial business with your aeronautical firms.  He represents....private interests, rather than Pallamaran ones, but I thought his inclusion in this visit might aid in showing a willingness to engage in reciprocal trade, and I'm certain your companies won't object to the business."

A "Janssen" was really slang for a member Pallamara's National Intelligence Service, which was an organization that had more or less slipped the leash of its masters, and now mainly concentrated on the running of a massive international quasi-criminal enterprise, in the form of Southern Air Transport, which might or might not be one of the world's largest airlines, and perhaps the most interesting.  A good bit of the world's illegal cargo was carried on their assets, but they also operated regular commercial routes that were too unprofitable for other, legitimate carriers, giving them an unprecedented network.  The company itself had no shareholders, nor any corporate structure to answer to, only the NIS leadership.  The company also had no real oversight, as officially, in Pallamara, it didn't even exist, with the government turning a blind eye to its many questionable activities.  Their motto was "Anything, Anywhere, Anytime--Professionally!" which pretty much summed up the organization's attitude.  Being ubiquitous around the world, and hiding assets behind a maze of shell and dummy companies, often their worst critics eventually found themselves needing SAT's services.  Its pilots possessed a reputation as being a bunch of wild cowboys from all walks of life, and varied nations, but through professionals who would take on missions nobody else would even think about, with some of them having more experience under fire than most active duty military pilots. SAT.png?dl=1SAT%202.png?dl=1

Link to comment
×
×
  • Create New...