Having entered the room to the cordial greeting of Alfonso Sotelo - a man who in the Prussian Emperor's eyes conducted himself in a manner more akin to the mobsters of pre-socialist America - Frederick was pleasantly surprised to hear the man speak German, albeit with a thick accent. Knowing Alfonso did not truly speak German, and therefore did not understand it, the Kaiser spared a nod of gratitude instead, smiling before taking a seat across from the Prime Minister, his translator following close behind. Unaccustomed to formal gatherings, the construction-worker-turned-emperor sat in relative silence, trying to balance his politically-inclined need to appear as a formidable and confident opponent, with that of maintaining a courteous, respectful demeanor.
Cutting to he chase, Sotelo raced to the point in his native Spanish while Frederick's translator listened closely and conveyed his words to the Emperor in German. A series of nods followed in agreement with Sotelo's points, along with an occasional snicker at the remarks he made. Upon being offered a drink the Kaiser, who had been trying to hide his discomfort in the hot weather, expressed his appreciation and gladly served himself a glass of orujo, sampling it as the Prime Minister continued to lay down his final points concerning the Ottoman Empire's condition.
Finally, it was the Emperor's turn to speak.
"We are." Frederick spoke, confirming the two were in agreement before taking another sip from his glass of orujo. "Much of what has been mentioned has already begun to happen, as I'm sure you're aware." he pointed out. "The Armenians have seized the oil fields in Erzurum and I fear the Poles seek a land-grab elsewhere. I do not however share your concerns in regards to Persia." the Emperor admitted. "I believe they have more pressing matters eastward; with the Communist tide at their doorstep. These are concerns I share to some extent, and is something I believe is worth discussing. I agree that our efforts should be directed towards keeping the Ottoman Empire intact, for the sake of our interests there, but more importantly to ensure the Ottomans continue to serve as the frontline against the ever-nearing tide of Communist influence -- keeping the Communists at bay is a task I'd feel much more confident with in the hands of the Turks than that of splintered former-Ottoman states." he explained, pausing again to take another sip from his glass.
"This is a problem that plagues us even here, in Europe." he continued. "The Danes, Mr. Sotelo, have managed to go unscathed in this struggle of ours. Yet they stand as one of our biggest concerns here in Europe. This is a matter I admit I have ignored for some time, but I believe the time has come to begin correcting these problems." he finished, just as the King of England entered the room, prompting a false smile from the Emperor.
((Will get to the Finland stuff next post. That's when it'll take the first step towards getting interesting, and although I'm not too excited about writing it, I am eager to start moving in that direction. I will also have the letter from South Africa arrive then.))
The black beast of a Cadillac merged with the ghostly light traffic of downtown Vancouver. Outside of the isolated environment of Thomas's car, occupied Vancouver went on. Lines of people lined up along the street in the summer sun to pick up their morning rations. Soldiers stood watch on corners. And between the remaining automobiles being allowed on the street armored cars and troop transports weaved between the traffic. A cable car ticked its way down the middle of the six-lane street.
High-rise office buildings and apartments lined the road-way. Silent dead neon signs hung waiting for the night to come, when maybe they could be turned on.
"Anoud'er Checkpouint." Thomas said, as he eased on the breaks. Looking up from the passenger seat Ming Fa looked out the window to a guarded intersection in the road. US soldiers patrolled down the road as the cars stopped, building up and waiting to be passed. Up ahead, a US Army soldier poked his head into the cars, verifying IDs. Dogs were lead about between the automobiles.
Slowly, they inched forward as the crawled along. Occasionally, a soldier would peek in through the windows, then pass along.
"Who are we meeting again?" Ming asked dazed and tired. They had been in the car for the better part of the night and into the morning. A large part of their voyage being simply held up on the border, staring at the great cement wall the Canadians had erected, or attempted to erect between the two.
"Vicdour Maloulahnd." Thomas said, "He wourked in deh labs dhat made dah gas. I imahgine id' be ah plahce dah sdard."
Standing up, Hassan looked back at the informal latrine. Calling it a latrine was an overstatement. It consisted of nothing more then a rubber tire positioned strategically over a hole in the ground. The band of Congolese rebels and the Ethiopian counterparts had been traveling to quickly through the backwoods of the expansive country to construct proper facilities. The situation had been made worse by an outbreak of dysentery, which had forced them to dig a new latrine every day.
Rubbing his pained stomach, Hassan slowly made his way through camp. The sound of flies permeated every corner of the encampment. If it wasn't the excrement, it was the food. Or the disembodied limbs. As he made his way further into the camp, Hassan ran across several of these limbs nailed to the branch of a tree. The rebels had taken up the morbid hobby of collecting the body parts of those they slain. A Congolese patrol had ran across a Belgian one the day before, and the following skirmish had resulted in two Belgian dead. Each of the Congolese men had hacked souvenirs from their foes. The sickly pale arms and feet had began to putrefy, but the rebels did not seem to mind.
Two of the soldiers sat on the torn blankets that constituted their beds. Above them, a single disembodied forearm was tied to the tree.
"I tell you, bwana." the first man stated to the second. "This man fell because of my rifle. I aimed the rifle. I know what it did."
"This is my kill" the second man disagreed. "Your gun is bent funny. When we fight, you shoot at the ground. I have seen this. If you want to get a kill, you should aim higher."
"This is my fathers rifle." the first man responded in an offended tone. "Where I aim, the bullet strikes. Every time, this is true. I hit that man, with my bullet. You cannot aim. We all know this..."
Disinterested in the argument, Hassan continued to the Ethiopian portion of camp. Though they had arrived the year before with distinct uniforms, their clothing had degraded to the point that they were difficult to tell apart from the Congolese.
Hassan was greeted by Idrissa. The young Ethiopian soldier looked like he had aged five years in the one that they had been there. His spotty facial hair was unshaven, hiding scars from battle. The side of his neck was patched with a bloodied piece of blanket held to his body with a mixture of gauze and dried blood.
"Where were you?" Idrissa spoke
"The hole" Hassan responded. "How is your arm?"
"The maggots that the surgeons put in it are working, I think..." Idrissa spoke. "I can feel them move in there. It is eerie."
"As long as you don't get infection." Hassan replied.
"Could have been worse" Idrissa replied, "Surgeons said that it nearly knicked the artery."
"I'm happy that it didn't end that way." Hassan weakly smiled, placing his hand on his comrades shoulder. "Did you hear anything from them?"
"From the surgeons?" Idrissa responded, "I heard that we are waiting here until we meet up with this Katanga Ghost. He is supposed to be here after he completes a raid down along the road."
"That is good." Hassan replied. "The camp is getting sicker. We really should leave this place as soon as possible.
Modern Day: Bunkeya, Katanga Commune
Three whimpering men stood in the center of the town, their hands tied behind their backs so tightly that their hands had began to grow discolored. The frightened villages, still held in pens erected throughout the village, watched in horror as a host of Ethiopian soldiers led by General Hassan inspected the three men. The Ethiopian soldiers had formed a line, each man neatly dressed and armed. In front of them, Hassan paced, staring down the captives.
"Stealing." he barked loudly, causing the three men to flinch. "Stealing bread from the army. How did you expect that to end?"
The men continued to sob, but none of them said a word. Annoyed, Hassan raised his voice.
The three men recoiled at the sound of the General's voice. The third man responded, speaking quickly as he tried to defend his actions in vain.
"We do not eat! Our families needed to eat. That is all it is. We need food."
"You are rebels." Hassan replied. "You know this. I cannot feed you and my army, not with your armies roaming the countryside in open revolt. Besides, I have fed you."
"A slice of bread a week is not enough for a family." the whimpering man argued.
"It is more then enough for you!" Hassan rejected. "This has to be punished."
The villagers in the pens shouted and gasped, the women and children crying as the morbid scene continued to play out in front of them. Hassan turned to them, shouting as to be heard by as many as possible.
"This is what rebellion and theft will lead you to!" he informed, "Insurrection cannot be tolerated! Remember this when you think about what happens here today. If your leader was a true man, he would come here and fight for you. It is he who led you to now!"
Finished with his speech, he nodded toward the soldiers standing behind the accused. With a single swift movement, they brought the arms around the captives and slashed deeply through their throats, causing them to fall into their own pooling ground. The caged villages screamed and cried loudly at the gruesome sight.
With a disgusted look, Hassan inspected the grief stricken civilians before walking back to the house he had made his headquarters.
"You need a place to hide?" Ibrahim responded in a stunned toned. He cut himself off as his head darted toward a window at the back of the house. Without pause, he quickly rushed toward the opening and forced the curtains closed. Satisfied that he and his visitor could not be seen, her turned back toward the cold Asian agent.
"It is not safe in the Jewish quarter anymore." Ibrahim replied. "The Islamic militia's have been harassing foreigners. The militia's are really powerful out here, on the edge of town. You want to go to the center of the city. The Ethiopian government has better control there.
Ibrahim took a moment to think. "Try the Ajyad fortress. It's on the hill overlooking the Grand Mosque. It isn't comfortable, but it has walls and a roof and it is safe. Nobody goes there, it is just a ruin. You can use the payphones on the road in front of the building if you need to get in contact with somebody."
Foreign Affairs Office Outbox
To: The Minister of Foreign Affairs - Republic of South Africa
The Emperor remains incapacitated at the moment from the tragic attempt on his life two months ago. None the same, the Imperial Regent Taytu Yohannes would be delighted to entertain our most trusted southern ally in his stead.
Ita Thabiti, Interim Foreign Affairs Advisor
Andrew was quickly tapping his fingers across the wooden armrest of the padded chair in the green room. He'd been waiting in the studio for an hour now, he was due to be on public broadcast any moment now, talk to his people. His aide was sitting across from him sitting on a leather couch, looking at papers spread out on a wooden coffee table. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun and she was wearing a tight suit while Andrew was wearing his trademark black suit consistent with most politicians all around the world.
A stagehand signal'd with five fingers, and then disappeared behind a corner, scurrying off to go help or do something else. Andrew and his aide met eyes.
"Five minutes, You think it'll be well received?" Remarked Andrew, a spot nervous.
"At this point, I think they'll be happy with anything" Replied his aide. Forcing a smile.
Andrew got up and stood at a door leaving out of the room. Soon he was rushed down a hallway, and he was standing behind a curtain. The national anthem began to play and he stepped out, flanked by his guards at the sides of the stage. He made his way to the podium, trying to look cool and collected as much as possible. Standing at the podium he waited until the song stopped playing and then focused on the teleprompter.
"Today I staged this press conference to talk about a pressing issue in this country, national diaster relief. As you are well aware Canberra and it's surrounding countryside was ravaged by hurricane Edward. We are currently in the middle of this relief process and we are making progress everyday"
Andrew cleared his throat, the room dead silent
"However a more pressing disaster struck Australia not only a month before, and although relief efforts have been undertaken by us, it is not enough"
Andrew paused for dramatic effect
"Through self review it has come to this government's understanding that the matters surrounding the flooding of the northern section of the country was mishandled, we will be leading a new charge against the tide of destruction that mother nature has caused. We are unveiling the Northern Initiative. With this bill we will allow more government funding not only to relief efforts, but to carpentry and construction businesses, injecting money back into the private sector while also shooting it back into the economy"
A barrage of claps assaulted him, as his aide off stage quieted the press sitting in front of him neatly in rows.
"We'll take questions relating to the Northern Initiative bill now"
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
That's three mass invasions within the same bloody month! I mean, seriously! The UDTU is attacking now, Blue has a sleeper attack coming soon, and now an invasion by space pirates? What is this, Russia if every american-made FPS happened at once?! - MagicallyDwarven
((Episode 1/3 of Survival. Hastily-written, late and uninteresting. Altogether: business as usual :P))
Mongolian Airspace, 3 days until the Welfare Convention
"Ladies and gentlemen," the pilot began in a nearly-stereotypical Finnish accent, rousing Blanc from his light sleep, "we may be experiencing some slight turbulence in the next few minutes. Please, remain calm." Blanc sighed deeply, and sat up. He checked his watch, and noted the time difference with what the small clock next to his seat read.
Mongolia. He thought, not sure if it mattered.
He had known going into this job that Finnish air transit was, and had almost always been, horridly unreliable. 'slight turbulence' usually meant an engine failure. As a precaution, he closed the book that had been resting on his chest for the last hour or so, and placed it in his briefcase, closing the heavy box with a slight click. Using his arms for additional torque, he spun his lower spine both directions, popping his vertebrae loudly and annoying anyone in a three-metre radius.
Now then, he thought, how bad is it?
Blanc opened the flimsy shutter on his window, allowing light to seep into both the cabin as well as the small space between the cabin walls and the outer shell of the plane through the grimy, iced-over glass. He couldn't see much of the aeroplane's right wing, but he was almost certain a propellor engine wasn't supposed to be glowing a pulsating orange and flickering yellow from time to time.
Just going to be one of those days, isn't it. he thought, and picked up his hat from under the seat in front of him, looking at the inside to align it before placing it on his head.
"Going somewhere?" an old, haggard-looking Finn asked from across the aisle.
"Not now, but in a minute or so the plane's going down." he replied, maintaining an outwards appearance of absolute calm.
"Shit, yours too? The engine on my side" he pointed out the window with a backwards-facing thumb, "has been out for almost an hour!" the man burst into laughter, and Blanc couldn't help but chuckle.
The infuriating sound of the rotting intercom system (he wouldn't be surprised if half the transistors in the system were slightly damp roach shells) turning on sounded, and everyone's head snapped to face forwards.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I do not wish to alarm you, but we have lost all engine power. Please, begin assembling your things for a speedy transition to a survival scenario." the co-pilot announced.
"Well, that's our cue!" the man exclaimed, and stood up. Blanc quickly unfastened his seatbelt and did likewise, picking up his briefcase as the plane began to turn to a dive. Wordlessly, Blanc nodded, and started walking uphill to the back of the plane, and positioned himself so that if the plane went straight down, he would be crouched against the back of the second-to-rearmost seat in the plane. He tossed his briefcase behind the seat across from him, and began preparing for impact. Looking out the nearest window, they had gone below the cloud layer, and were speeding towards the downwards slope of a snowbound Russian mountain. He made a mental note that they had ten seconds at the best, and half-tensed his body. As the seconds ticked past, he finally heard the screams.
F***ing Finns. He thought as he was pitched left into the aisle, and directly into the path of the rapidly-advancing mound of rock, snow and metal.
Pain. There was pain in his left shoulder. All things considered, that was a good thing. He was alive, that was for sure if there was pain.
Fighting the overwhelming urge to say "five more minutes" and never wake again, Blanc pushed his eyelids open, an immense effort in his current state. His vision was blurry, making him blink a few times. The blur slowly coalesced into a few fuzzy balls of pulsating orange, some white shapes, and a few small black mounds. He wanted to call the mannequins to help keep his morale, but he knew they were bodies and he wasn't going to call them anything else because in the end it wouldn't make him feel better anyways.
He was suddenly aware that he was also cold. This was also a good thing.
What was not a good thing was that there was a suspiciously metallic-smelling puddle forming to his left. He rolled his head over, and noticed for the first time that evening that his left arm was missing.
Bugger. Blanc thought, not entirely sure, in his state of semi-consciousness, whether he should be horrified or glad that it wasn't his neck. Either way, it would be a problem in the future. He noticed that the blood was starting to stain the remainder of his suit, and, without thinking, rolled onto his stomach and pressed himself up with his arm.
He suddenly realised what he was doing, and collapsed, weakened by the sudden, crushing force of awareness. Blanc groaned, and tried again, making it onto a knee before his arm failed again. He kneeled on one knee for what seemed like minutes, though it was probably much longer, as his arm wasn't bleeding as much when he returned from the thought-void he had slipped into. He shook his head, dislodging some ice crystals from his hair and waking him up a bit.
Right, he thought, first order of business: look for survivors. A bureaucrat by nature, priorities were his strong suit, and having one would make survival a hell of a lot easier. With this in mind, he began scanning the area for anything moving.
In the East, the sun was rising, casting a slow-moving, syrup-like glow on the landscape and washing out the firelight. It piled up on the chunks of fuselage and other detritus, before spilling over into the once-shadows. As it slowly built up on the (nearby, slightly intact) tail of the plane, he saw a large section of intact cabin, and set off towards it at a brisk pace. He reached it in under a minute, and, realising that the segment had landed upside-down, crouched down and stepped onto the ceiling.
Bodies greeted him, gravity holding them upright in their seats, mouths open in an eternal scream. A smaller body lay near his left foot, split cleanly in two by a large chunk of metal.
Poor sod. He thought, and moved on.
A full day of search yielded supplies and winter gear, but no other survivors. He surveyed his meagre pile of food, clothing and weaponry, and sighed: there was no way in hell this would last him until help arrived, and he knew it. Consigned to this fate, his best alternative was to try and continue to China. He only had to cross Mongolia.
But how far was that? It was a question he would have to answer later, as his arm was starting to hurt from the adrenaline wearing off and he had to current objective to focus on. He quickly considered his options, and made a hasty decision: he would continue. With this in mind, and his heart lightened by that much indecisiveness, he took the flare gun and knives he had retrieved, and placed them in his suit pockets, put on the heavy parka and snow trousers from the First Aid kit, and swung the rucksack containing his briefcase and the rest of his supplies over his shoulder. He took one last look around the crash site, and began South-West over a nearby low ridge, noticing for the first time that his stub was frozen, not healed.
After what felt like thirty-odd minutes of walking, he instinctively checked his watch to check the time.
Oh, right. Unfortunately, his left arm had been his watch arm, so there was no saying what day it was for sure, but he knew that he wasn't going to make it to Beijing on time (that much was certain).
He hoped they would save him some of the free coffee.
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
We did not invent the Algorithm. The Algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The Algorithm killed Jeeves. The Algorithm is banned in China. The Algorithm is from Jersey. The Algorithm constantly finds Jesus. This is not the Algorithm. This is Close.
"Sir, we've got a problem." a radar operator said in a tense voice. Behind him in the control room officers and radar operators busied themselves with the screens. Which is to say they pretended to pay half an once of attention. Through the windows that opened the room to the outside world beyond, the faded but clear view of the Ulaan Taiga mountains could be seen. Green slopping peaks rising to sharp rock and snow caps.
"What is it?" the white coated officer said, walking over to the council.
"That flight we tagged coming in over Siberian airspace," the operator began, "The one which was carrying the Finnish envoy, it seems to have disappeared off the radar."
The officer looked astounded. Leaning over the operator's shoulder he looked at the black radar screen. The green bar rotating about the circular plane reported no active blips. "Where at?" he asked.
"Looks like in the 49, 46 sector." sighed the operator.
The officer nodded. "Chuluun!" he called, "Get a line to the CO, we got a problem."
Cebu, July 23rd
Whips and whistles filled the air. Ducking low, the two IB agents charged forward, their revolvers held low as the tore towards the hospital doors. Behind them, the reports of police pistols and rifles kept the two guards men at bay. Enough that the two could pass to the doors unmolested. Though around them, the rips of air that passed along their ears reminded them of the situation, and their fixed path.
Bullets set on a less true path tugged at the corners of their coats as they advanced up the steps to the front doors. In synchronicity, the pair of agents raised their heavy revolvers up. Cocking back the hammer, they unloaded on the door. The drumming of their guns resonating with the plumes of pulp that burst from the panels as the bullets slammed point-blank into the wooden doors, bearing deep holes in the already chewed and gnarled doors.
As the gun fire died they rose their feet to kick the doors. But stubbornly they refused to open and jostled softly against an obstruction. Shing checked through the window. Sprawled across the soft blue and grey carpeting of the hospital lobby in a thick pool of spreading blood lounged two fallen gunmen. Several holes had been punched in their shoulders and chests from the point-blank fire. "We got them." Shing whispered grimly, trying to push the door open.
The two slain gunmen proved to be more than apt doorstops for the agents. Their limp and heavy bodies refusing to budge along the sticky and rough carpeting. Defeated in his attempts, Shing rose his fingers to his mouth the agent whistled, heralding a handful of police-officers to their side. They ran their way towards the building and to the steps. "Help us out." Shing nodded, leaning on the door, "Push."
Joining the two agents they detachment pushed on what was left of the door, slowly sliding the corpses across the carpet. Giving the set of doors a final push the entered onto the hospital lobby. Stepping into the building, they enveloped themselves in a cold desperation. Somewhere prowled a man - or several - of unknown build and armed. Another two somewhere on the far side.
The severity and serious nature of the situation reasserted itself as from somewhere in the halls rang muffled shots. Breathing heavy, Shing turned to his partner and the Cebu police officers following him. "Which one of you know how to get around to the back entrance?"
"I do, comrade." a young officer said reproachfully. His voice cracked and nervous.
Shing nodded, "Good. I want you to lead my partner then over that way. Take a few men for support and knock out those men that way."
"Yes sir." the young officer said, grabbing a few of his older compatriots by the shoulders. With Tung, they hustled off down through the halls. Their foot falls fading as they went along.
"What about us?" an older officer said, an older of the four left.
"Our man's upstairs." Shing whispered, "You're on me. Let's go."
The followed along quietly. Nervously without question they headed towards the nearest stairwell. In the halls toppled gurneys and trays of medical supplies and food lay littered. Spots of blood dotted the carpet and wallpaper. And passing to a narrow towering set of stairs they crossed a body of a shot up nurse. Her gown stained with blood and charred by gunfire.
The doors to the stairwell opened with a soft groan. Checking their corners, Shing confirmed for their floor to be empty before leaning apprehensively to the middle and quickly scanning the flight up. Signalling the all clear, he and his escort raced their way up the sterile metal steps on their climb through the building. Bounding onto the second landing the chattering reports of gunfire echoed in through the broken door.
"Here." Shing said, rushing to the door.
Kicking it open, it quickly checked the hall either way. Empty, save for litter. Pointing to two officer he gestured down the hall, ordering them down the hall. They rushed off pale faced, but otherwise without further question. He waved silently for the other two to follow after him.
Rushing through the hallways and kicking aside trays and anything else hospital staff or patients would have dropped as they attempted to flee they followed the echoes of gunfire. A clapping call they called them to chase it through the maze. Where all the walls glowed in the same soft orange and yellow.
Rounding a corner, Shing felt himself loose stability. His foot catching a meaty obstacle he was gripped by the sudden breathless weightlessness of falling. With a hard "thump" and an umph he spilled on the ground, holding his arms out as he spilled over a slick of blood. Luke-warm stickiness running up his arm as the fall forced the sleeve of his great coat to run the length of his arm.
Sliding to a skidding stop he turned on his back to see what had tripped him. A middle aged doctor lay bleeding against the wall. Just around the corner he had turned. The wall was stained red with the blood that sprayed from him. Deep holes marking which direction he had been shot. Prodding the body with a foot, it fell limp against the ground, to the horrified expression of the officers he traveled with.
Turning to his side he peered down the hall. An odd haphazard number of corpses littered the halls. Their backs turned the way they came. At the far end, a figure sat slumped, like it was watching them.
"He came this way, for certain." Shing observed morbidly. He scrambled to his feet, crawling to a walk forward. Picking up his fallen weapon. Checking his belt he confirmed that he hadn't lost anything in the spill. His spare rounds still tucked neatly in his belt. His jian hanging at his side.
"Dear God in heaven." one of the officers muttered as they stepped over the bodies. He sickly made a sign of the cross as he shakily weaved through.
The group made their way to the end of the hall. Hesitantly, Shing looked down the hall. The room to his left stripped empty and a ramshackle mess. Windows shattered open let him a soft and deceptively calm breeze.
"Kasamahan" a soft voice cracked from below. Shing paused in his steps and looked down. Laying slouched against the wall lay a young Filipino nurse. Her bloodied hand reached out gripping the frills of the agent's great coat. The other gripped her small bleeding stomach. Painfully she looked up her through tiring brown eyes. Her otherwise black hair was a bloodying mess.
"Oh father..." one of the officer began before Shing shot him a quick look, forcing him to mutter the rest of the prayer in silence.
"What's going on?" Shing said in Cantonese-laced Spanish, threads of desperation hanging on his words, "Where's the gunman? How many?"
The young nurse lay breathing heavily on the ground. Swallowing painfully she croaked back: "There's one, all I can see. Came through this hall as we were trying to evacuate after we heard the first shots. Mowed us all down."
Shing nodded, grabbing his coat and yanking it away. Looking to his escorts he barked: "See to her!" they nodded sickly as he turned back to the wounded nurse: "Where'd he go."
Lifting the hand that had been at his coat she pointed down the hall. "Then turned right."
"Thank you." Shing bowed, stepping away. He flipped the cylinder open, and loaded the empty three with fresh bullets.
"What are you doing?" one of the officers called back as he came to the corner.
"Don't worry about me." Shing called back, "Just get her down. Get the rest of the officers in here and find any and all wounded. Get them out, first and foremost."
"Yes sir." they mumbled as he rounded the corner and into the rest of the hospital.
Having found earlier, it wasn't difficult to find the rest of the trail. The walls were coated in regular and evenly space bullet holes. Doors forced open revealed scenes where patients or nurses had tried to flee, but had been slow and were cut down. As he marched on, the gunshots got louder and the gunman began to fire more frequently. The troubling thought that came to the agent was this was a hospital: where was everyone else.
Turning another corner, Shing nearly tripped over his feet. Coming to an abrupt hault he stood in the same space as the gunner. He was heavy built, and loaded down on every space with as much ammo he could carry. In his arm he held a battered and raged BAR. The beaten wood and metal painted over in greens and browns. In his other he tapped the side of the gun softly with a magazine.
Slowly, and quietly Shing stood up. Bringing his revolver up to bare at the man. Leveling it slowly to the space between his shoulder blades. His body tensed, brimming and ready to break loose the day's growing tension. With both his hands, he leveled on him; aiming for the desired spot. There was a soft click as the hammer was drawn back and Shing let out a soft breath.
The gunman wasted no time in responding to the click and wheeling on his heels like a tiger he turned to face Shing, ducking to the side and raising his automatic weapon before Shing pressed the trigger to fire. His revolver let loose with a loud report, striking the window on the far side, shattering the glass. The gunman was otherwise unfazed as he straightened.
Shing's eyes widened as he realized he missed. The world spun in slow motion as he wheeled and got clear before the rebel gunner could open-fire. The fire from his weapon a loud crack the split the air. The wall behind the agent exploded in a hail of drywall and wood as it and braces were chewed up alike. A fine dusty cloud choked the corridor as he dove for the ground behind the corner.
The barrage was brief. But it left in his ears a loud grinding ringing as he rolled onto his back from behind the corner. Panting heavily he stared wide-eyed at the ceiling. Dumbfounded and truly afraid. His heart beat like a heavy drum in his chest. From around the corner there was a soft mechanical click, he was beginning to reload.
Pulling his legs above him, Shing threw himself off his back, landing momentarily off-balance on his heels before turning the corner with his pistol drawn. He threw himself around, holding out his firearm, cocking the hammer with his thumb and reaching in with his other hand.
With an aggressive stride, and caught mid-reload, the gunman had little in his choice. As Shing whipped around the corner with his coat trailing behind like a spectral cape he dropped the magazine. With the agent's hand just beginning to raise for his weapon he gave a hearty heave, thrusting the weighty unloaded BAR to Shing. The gun soared clumsily through the air. Catching the agent's hand with a mighty metal smack and metal clash. Firing prematurely, the pistol went off wide and tore a hole in the ceiling.
Shing recovered from the hit, quickly aiming his gun back at the man. Before firing the gunner took hold of his hand. Twisting, he forced the agent to let go of his gun with a powerful agonizing twist before raising the bolo above his head. With a wide down-ward arc the Mindanese man made to hew into the skull of Shing.
The swing was caught mid-drop by Shing who yanked it to the side, forcing his arm to fall on his own and letting the Chinese agent go. Free, Shing reached for his belt and drew his Jian.
"Blades are out of their sheaths." Shing smirked awkwardly, raising his sword slowly above his head. His new sparring partner obviously didn't take his humor lightly as he quickly jumped on him with the bolo flashing over head.
In an exaggerated swing the Filipino dropped the large knife down onto Shing who reflexively twisted his jian. With a hollow crack of metal the two blades met. The bolo sliding down the length of the Jian in a snake-like hiss. Throwing his other hand, the gunner swung to punch. Leaning backwards Shing dodged the punch, letting it sail unhindered past his face as he levered his sword up throwing the idle bolo to the side.
Dropping the jian, Shing roared as he thrust his sword forward and up, aiming to stick the man in his belly. Though this was parried by the Mindanese man, smacking the sword to the side with his knife and stepping to compliment. Both fighters stepped forward, trading position as the Filipino attempted to hook the IB agent with one muscle-bound arm.
Grabbing his arm, Shing threw himself under and swung fast with his sword. The blade found a mark as it cleared over his arm and caught the gunner across the face. A thin and long line was drawn across his face as he staggered back throwing his elbow across his face. His screams coming out with a long primal scream. A rocky pain they erupted from his lips.
While the man was incapacitated Shing rose his sword, holding it horizontal to the floor and charged. Just as his prey unwrapped his face, smearing fresh blood across his face the flash of the Chinese sword burned into the side of his chest. Sword arm out-reached, and the other held in balance in a warrior's stance, Shing plunged the sword deep into the gunner's chest. Skewering him through the ribs.
There was a meaty crunch and a gurgle. The man's mouth bubbled as he stared blankly at the China-man before collapsing to his knees. There was a wet squirt and a bubbling sound as Shing removed the sword gracefully from the man's chest as he collapsed in a muscle-bound heap on the floor. With a flick, he splashed loose blood off the blade. Whipping the rest off on his coat he sheathed the sword, throwing his great coat on around it to hide it best he could again.
Panting, he leaned against the wall. His hand shaking, he whipped off the beading sweat. "Shit." he laughed nervously.
Gang nodded, scratching his chin. "It'll work for the short time we're here." he smiled.
The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Royal Palace, Brussels
The prime minister, Adelbert Smets, had received a note from the king requesting a meeting of the cabinet. He had a translator with him as a result of speaking of Dutch. The other fourteen ministers were half French and half Dutch speakers. As he walked down the silent hall, he listened to his footsteps echo of the walls. He reached his destination and walked through the open door. The king, Leopold III and the foreign affairs minister, Maarten Rens, were already at the table. “Good morning Mr. Rens. Good morning your majesty.” Smets greeted them as he slipped into his chair at the the table.”I see that you two were speaking when I arrived.”
“We were discussing the situation with the Ottoman Empire but we can get to that later.” responded Rens. “We will need input from the others.” Soon the other ministers entered the room and took their respective seats. All eyes went to the king as he began to speak.
“We have many things to discuss now. The economy is a major issue to deal with. Our economy has reached a stable level, however, can fall easily from a simple action. We have to start expanding our economic influence. Also, our responses to current world events need to be discussed.” The room was silent as the king spoke.
He economic minister, Thomas Peeters, was the first to speak. “I think it would be best to try to increase trade with other nations word wide. We have some industrial capability which can be improved and expanded. This will help create jobs and bring in money for our businesses further strengthening our economy. However, we will need more oil and natural gas for out factories. I am hopeful that we can get some from the Ottoman Empire. Another option is to go to the newly formed nations like Armenia.”
The other ministers nodded their agreement and murmured to themselves. Once quite was restored, Rens spoke again. “I think that seeking trade relations is necessary. I believe we should stay out of the conflict surrounding the Ottomans for now. Doing so will help keep us out of conflict with other, larger nations.”
“I would like to expand on that idea,” Smets added, “the best course we can take would be to avoid conflict and gain new trading partners at the same time. If necessary we can get militarily involved. This isn't the most desirable reason as it will anger at least some of our neighbors, many who are much, much more powerful than us. Now, we have gotten through many things and it is getting late to have lunch. May we leave to eat your majesty?” Leopold nodded and the ministers left to eat.
"You're sure it's cleared out." the police captain inquired as they walked about the hospital. In the minutes after the gun man had been dropped on Shing's sword additional equipment had arrived to deal with the situation. Freed up from the docks and from taking injured personnel to one of the other hospitals in the city the ambulances had come. Slowly the building was being picked through, the bodies cordoned off for study by forensic teams.
"I went through to the top and encountered no one else." Shing said, his heart rate was beginning to normalize and his composer returned, "I found the rest of the patients and doctors on the top floor, I guess they were being chased up those steps."
"Lord, there could have been more killed." the captain sighed. Nearby, the nurse from earlier was laid on a stretcher and bound as she was carefully loaded into an ambulance, "How many are you guessing?" he asked morbidly.
"Twenty. Perchance upwards of thirty." Shing estimated, his eyes dropped from the officer's face as he nervously twisted at his own fingers.
The captain nodded, beginning to walk towards the police-vans lined up on the street. Local reporters were already making their way on the scene, braving the possibility there could be more. "So we not now?" Shing asked, "The rest of that boat has bound to be somewhere else. This can't be the end."
The police captain turned. Shrugging lanquidly he said: "We'll take it as it comes I gu-"
He was cut off as from several blocks away there was a deep guttural explosion. A deep hammering pow the rippled the afternoon air with a heavy tenacity. Heralding dust, and great black smoke in a dangerous signal that was more to come. The police men ducked reflexively and the reporters turned suddenly on their toes towards the source. Backing up like panicked sheep from the mushrooming cloud of concrete that was arching up over the roof-tops.
Moments later, a series of two more erupted over the roof tops, fueled by bright pluming fire they ripped over the roof-tops seconds apart and burning with a tenacity and strength to rival the sun. Burning orange snake-like tendrils arcing to the blue sky, dragging long black whips of smoke that turned into caps.
Instinctively sirens blared up and down the street as officers jumped into their cruisers and started them in a mechanical roar. Turning sharply from their curb-side or curb-on parking the ratty cruisers whipped sharply about targeting themselves down the street before screaming their tires on street tops and burning like wild hogs down the street and towards the new disaster. Shing felt his face grow suddenly pale as he watched them on. It was one thing after another. Something was out of control.
"Jesus Christ God Damn it!" the police officer cursed loudly, whipping open the door to a police van as idle cops jumped inside before it sped off with a rolling guttural roar. Shing stood awkwardly by watching them and the fire, shocked and amazed.
Seeing the unsure cautious act played by the ambulance attendees he turned, swallowing deep he screamed: "You stay here! Get fire response there now!"
They wasted no time, hustling back to work. Men and women finished getting patients aboard the trucks before dashing for the cabs to get on the radio. One of the Cebu officers was already yelling into his radio. The output was a mass of panic and hollering for support and to report. The contact a indiscernible mess of voices relaying the same message.
"Tung!" Shing shouted highstrung, "Where the fuck are you?"
"Here, sir!" his partner returned, coming out from behind the wall around the hospital with local police in tow.
"Get the car ready, we're moving again." Shing said, turning to the police men he barked: "You all stay here and watch these people and finish the job here!"
"Ouh, nouw ain'd dhat beudaful." Thomas smiled as they pulled to a stop at the intersection. Having cleared central Vancouver, the checkpoint demand had grown fairly lax and the military presence - though still evident - had laxed. An armored car occupied the side-walk corner, its turret being manned by a rather bored looking black gunner. But the lack of forced inspection gave the area an openness were existed heavier traffic.
"That is nice." Ming Fa cooed as he looked out the window. Trees dotted the corner of the road, separating the modern-esque homes from the high-way they had crossed over. But directly in front of them, the road seemed to march on into solemn green-coated mountains. Their sides dressed in silky white robs of fog, their tops hatted in thick heavy white clouds.
"If dhe plahce wahsn'd ahs-is," Thomas began, "Ey'd bring mah wife 'ere."
"You're married?" Fa asked.
"'Course," the fat man boasted proudly, "Dwendy years oun. Houw 'boud you?"
Fa shook his head, "No, not yet."
"Shahme." Thomas sighed, "Bouy like you'd ged a good girl." he added, turning the car off the intersection and into a more wooded length of road running parallel to the high-way. The pines and brush offering brief glimpses of the otherwise desolate stretch, or offering odd glints as trucking caravan whooshed past.
"I got work." Fa bemoaned, "Someday."
"Mhmmm." Thomas mumbled, nodding, "Sou, whad 'is 'Ey'Bee'? Milidary I gess?"
Fa didn't ansewer, choosing only to continue watching out the window as they passed through the thick greenery of a area steadily growing more rural.
"I see." Thomas nodded.
"You sure one of our guys lives down this way?" Fa asked.
"Sure ahs ah fox dha a chickehn cou'." he said, "Ahllehn Dehbrehnny, chehmisd."
((Let's try and wrap this meeting up soon? I don't want this to turn into Esfahan.))
'While I can't say I agee with your appraisal of the Persian situation, I cannot agree more with you in regard to Denmark." Said Sotelo grimly. "Communism is a plague, and socialism is but its latent period. The communists of Europe can ill afford to go unanswered, and if you do intend to... address the Danish regime, you will have complete support from the Republic. The time to wipe Europe clean of Marxist taint is now."
Sotelo reached for his glass and brought it to his lips, only to find that he had already downed its contents save for a few melting ice cubes. He jingled the ice cubes about, calming him down and taking his mind off of the fact that communists still drew breath on the Earth.
"Anyway, as for the Ottoman Empire, might I ask what demands Prussia will make of the Sultan in return for its continued existance?" The Spanish Prime Minister asked of the four-bearded Kaiser seated opposite him. "Once I return to Madrid I will put together a delegation to Istanbul to come to some kind of agreement with the Turks, probably to headed by Marcos del Piñon. I'll have him add your requests to any agreement made with the Turks, or you can send your own diplomat along with the Republic's delegation. It does not matter to me which you prefer."
Sydney, (Eastern?) Australia
Dr. Guijon looked quite out of place as he strolled down the sidewalk a few blocks from the shipyards and ports of Sydney dressed in a white button-up with a small briefcase hanging from his left arm perhaps a mile from the airport he had arrived in. Warehouses and storage buildings lined the streets and over the rooves of the wharfside buildings, a rusty crane raised shipping crates through the late afternoon sky emblazoned with illegible Japanese characters off of a freighter flying the Rising Sun. While the port of Sydney was a decidely blue-collar area, Guijon didn't feel unsafe walking down it's cracked, dirty sidewalks.
The undercover Spaniard came upon a deckhand sitting on the ledge of the concrete loading bay of a wharfside warehouse finishing off a cigarette. Hoping he knew the area well enough, Guijon approached him in hopes that he might direct him to his next objective.
"Ya look a bit lost, mate." The salty Australian deckhand noted, acknowledging the Spaniard's presence. "Needin' something?"
"Why yes, there is something you might help me with. Would you know a good place to get a drink in this part of town?" The Spaniard politely asked in a Mediterranean accent.
The deckhand grinned toothily, exposing his yellowed teeth. "You'll want the Wadanga, mate. Just turn left up ahead and go about five hundred yards that way. I'm afraid it may not be the kinda establishment someone like you would want to visit, though."
"Sounds perfect." Dr. Guijon replied, returning the smile.
"Congratulation comrades!" Chena Yiaoliang cheered at the head of a small room in the recording studio he and his band utilized in Shanghai, in his hand he held aloft a bottle of wine. The other a large black, grooved disc, "Today, is the official birthday of our latest LP. Released here on this 30cm, thirty-three and one-third RPM LP. I want to say: thank you for your continued service. This day is for all of us."
He raised the bottle of wine for a toast and the room cheered. The band, with escorts or marriages in tow applauded the singer as he took a draw from the bottle. Followed by their own hits of beer or wine themselves. "What follows now comrades," he began, "Is to wait and see how things fair, and finalize plans for a brief tour to celebrate the release with the nation. Aijian Huan and I are finalizing tour dates for China as we take our accomplishment to the people. So, please don't forget the songs." he added, the room responding with light laughter.
"So what's the tour plan then?" Harvey asked with a young local girl in his arms, "Is there any chance we will be heading into the states."
Chen lifted his finger to his guitarist and nodded, "There is." he smiled, "Or, I've brought the topic up with Huan and he's only grumbled about it."
"That sounds typical of him." Hun Bang, his drummer joked, "He's not as complacent as Daohang it'd seem."
"I think he's a purist." cracked Yaoliang, face growing with a bright cheery cheer, "But, he said he would give it some thought. And I imagine unless we petition him about it we'll be lucky to get a State-side release Harvey my friend."
"So then," Chen's friend, Song Li sighed from the sparse buffet table, "Where does the new director want us to go?"
"So far he told me he's getting dates set for the Opera House in Beijing, here of course, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chengdu, Ullanbataar, Urumqi, Lhasa, and Taipei. When the matter comes up he hinted there could be other minor venues to get as people to see us live as possible."
"Ooo, Lhasa." Li said smiling live, "We ain't played there before. Will be fun to see how we fair in those altitudes."
"Well, he's opened to minor venues." Hun Bang added, "If this was Daohang this'd be set in stone. I imagine it'll be a busy tour in nay case."
"Most likely," Chen said, waving the bottle through the air, "He's also working on getting a show in Ha Noi, Saigon, Phnom Pehn, and Vientian."
"Those'll be smaller no doubt." Hun excused, "No worries for those then."
Harbin AirParts factory #011
The factory floor blazed with jets and streams of bright glowing stars, as grinders and welders sat at stations underneath the high factory ceiling. Their grinders and welding guns firing from the steel they worked at long fanning arcs of sharp hot sparks that erupted into the air. They setteled on the floor where the fizzled and popped out of existence. Mere dust specks of iron to be forgotten.
In accompaniment of the sights, the entire space was choked with the booming and tremendous wailing of the fabricators at work. The clash of metal from deep down the line heralding the drop-off of the fabricated shells for engine walls and. More crashes and bangs from the opposite end signalling the departure of parts from one factory to another in the industrial chain.
Brooding over the floor in a glass paneled case the Commissioner's office hung. The lonely man had a clear view of the floor below as the workers that appointed him toiled. The walls were stuffed with all matters of file cabinets keeping records as far back as the factory's restoration. A simple metal desk sat by the window, where both he and a quest sat in the muffled space.
"So comrade," the commissioner smiled, "what brings you back to Harbin?"
"Picking up parts." Wen Xue said with a wide smile. The Gobi-1 officer leaned back comfortably in his chair and added: "I must apologize this visit has been so long delayed but the administration has been shuffled as of late. I assume you heard?"
"I believe I have." the commissioner said quietly, nodding slowly. "Your superior I guess, he's been appointed to the chief director, Minister of that Space Ministry then?"
Wen Xue nodded, "Later this week he's making the formal public opening." the officer said, "So, we've been late in picking up the order on the engines. I have read they're ready, yes?"
"Oh yes." the commissioner said, his face lighting up, "The models you had noted as R-03 and CE-02. I will add, the CE-02 schematics are funny engines." he paused for a moment, brushing his chin, "I can't say I can see how they'll fly." he added handing over the completed order form to the officer.
"Thank you." Wen Xue said with a faint smile, "And it's alright, you don't need to know. Only I do.
"Where's the pick up then so I can get the boys to roll in and carry these off?"
"Dock 3." the commissionaire waved, "They've been waiting there for a few days. Packed tightly in their crates, tightly bound, and covered."
"Wonderful." Xue crooned.
Cebu - July 23rd
Shing and Tung's car jolted to a sudden stop as the black cab whipped around the corner after the police cruisers. And coming to a stop, they whipped open their doors, dodging out just as a trail of bullet fire traced through the center line of the vehicle. Metal popped and glass shattered as the bullets tore through the car just as the two agents dodged out of the car. Most of the officers who had assembled had done the same.
A rudimentary barricade had been established from the cruisers, the car bodies sunk long to the ground from punctured and chewed tires as the cops cowered behind hoping for luck the shooters wouldn't fire on their exact position. The exact position of their assailants choked by thick grey and black smoke, as up and down the street buildings burned. Nearby, the guttural beastly roars of new explosions rolled through the streets. Distant people screamed, muffled by the roaring flames and the growing winds as they fire drew breath.
"This day keeps getting fun." Tung shouted from the otherside of the car. Driplets of oil and fluid trickled down from the engine block from where bullets had cracked the casings or hit lines.
"I'm pretty sure they just brought the front to us." Shing painted. Coughing heavily he got to his knees and crept forward to the nearest police cruiser. Doing like-wise, Tung followed; keeping his belly pressed to the pavement like a ferret.
"What's the situation here?" Shing barked as he approached the cab. Another frieghtened officer sat huddled against the side of the car, literally hugging his hand gun. "What's the situation!?" Shing asked in a sterner more demanding voice.
Finally, the officer answered in stuttering broken language, "A pair of men, maybe three with heavy weapons are set up on the other-end of the street. They've got the intersection covered and they set fire to the buildings." his voice cracking more he continued, "Hell, they didn't let the folks inside get out. They're still laying out there in the street right not, if not stuck inside burning."
"Shit." Tung commented.
"Have you tried to pick them out at all?" Shing asked.
"No, there's too much smoke and every time they see movement they fire on it. We haven't been able to line up an accurate shot since we got here. We've lost several officers just trying to move in."
"And they refuse to move?"
The officer nodded.
"Then I take it they refuse to move." Shing coughed.
The officer nodded again.
"Right." the IB agent sighed, lowering his head to the ground, "Let us get a look at them then."
I thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter, and for confirming our fears. My records indicate that no ships that have ever returned to Copenhagen, or any Danish ports in need of repairs after travel recently, which leads me to believe that a foreign power may be behind this.
As your comrade stated, I fear that either the Swedish, Spanish or Southern Finnish are behind this, and it worries me. However, unlike your department, I have the resources to investigate this, I think a collaborative investigation is in order.
I would greatly appreciate it if you and your comrade, the regional defensive officer that you mentioned, could help us in an advisory role, as this concerns you just as much as it does us. I appreciate your time and cooperation.
Signed, Karl Fredrikson.
The smell. It would smell pretty bad to any average person, but this off duty police officer had grown accustomed to the smell of rather strong alcohol and all manner of cigarettes and cigars. This officer, Eric Høg, came to the pub all the time after work, usually a way to deal with his many inconclusive investigations. Turning around, he noticed a friend of his enter the bar, a coworker he was usually assigned to investigations with. "Hey, Eric," the newcomer said. "Hello, Bjørn," he replied. Eric beckoned him over to sit next to him, and enjoy a nice, cold drink.
After ordering his drink, a cold grape and olive schnapp, which smelled strongly of alcohol and grape. His favorite, he savored his first drink, and than spoke. "Eric, I hate to be the one to tell you, but soon we're going to need to devote even more time to our investigation of these stolen cars." "Of course..., but, why?" "The higher ups are becoming rather impatient, and they're giving us only one more week to figure out this case. I don't want to work much, honestly, but we have to," said Bjørn, with a slightly sad expression covering his face. "It's okay, even if it feels like a drag. I feel like going home now, I've sunk plenty of time here. I'll meet you early tomorrow morning, so we can get to work, maybe get somewhere," Eric said, with a slight chuckle. "Alright, I'll see you then. Get some rest, old man," Bjørn said with a small laugh, even though his compatriot was only one year his elder.
Prime Minister Niels sat in a luxurious and comfortable armchair, observing the parliament as they discussed the issues of the day. One of these many issues, which caught the Prime Minister's attention, was that some farmers had used a little too much pesticide, ruined their crops, gone broke, and now food had to be recalled from stores around Aarhus and Viborg. Overall, the situation was a pain.
To make things even better, no one really knew what to do except to restrict produce export from the region, even though Niels thought of it as a sound idea. After a slight cough, Niels began to speak, interrupting the bickering of two parliament members who had gotten rather loud.
"I would like to say, that I agree that restricting produce export in the region where the contaminated food came from is a great idea. Although, I would like to say that I believe we should strip the farmers of their land, considering their irresponsibility. Yay, or nay?" A multitude of parliament members liked the proposition, however, a small multitude did not, and proceeded to argue over it with those that did agree. Niels stood up, "I believe this is the end of the Parliamentary session for today," he said, glancing upon the clock that hung high upon the wall of the room. With that, the members left for the day, and various members continued their quarrel outside. Just another fun day of parliamentary activity.
I do not mind if you come along in place of King Charles. I understand that there are prior commitments that have to be fulfilled, and that you are also a very good man for this subject. The meeting shall take place on August 5th, which is about a week or so from the time of this letter's writing. It will be held at the Government House in Yerevan, and a military helicopter will take you there from Zvartnots International Airport when you arrive (preferably on the 4th.) If all goes according to plan, you will be able to fly home on the 6th.
- Hasmik Assanian, President of the Republic of Armenia
A small room had been set up in the Government House, equipped with a large bank of radio equipment behind a wall and a single, lone microphone on a shock mount with a sticky note taped to it labeled: "Armenian Broadcast Network." A large plexiglass window separated the broadcast room and the radio equipment, with a trio of Army radio operators fiddling with the various dials and buttons while waiting for the president to arrive. He was scheduled to come at six forty-five, and he arrived with stunning punctuality just then. As he walked into the soundproofed broadcast room, the radio operators acknowledged this and sent one of the team over to brief Assanian on what to do.
Assanian was directed to sit in the chair next to the microphone, and then instructed to say a few small sentences to allow the radio operators to properly set up the broadcast for optimum clarity. Next, his speech was delivered to him via briefcase, and he was allowed to compose himself for a few minutes before the light in front of him flashed to "on air." This was at exactly seven o'clock, and Assanian was ready:
"Good evening, my fellow countrymen. Today has been a busy day for us, but we have used our time wisely to compose a grand future for our country. I speak of an economic plan that will allow us to be propelled into the future as a prosperous, producing nation. Our times of fear... fear of unemployment, fear of hunger, fear of homelessness... they will all be gone in a few short months because of our ferocious will to fight for the better. I know this is true of all Armenians; we have fought for over two thousand years to retain our identity and national pride against foreign invaders. And I know that for our people, the following years of reconstruction will be hard, but not impossible. We will have to endure sacrifice and hardships, but this time it will be easier. Whereas in the past, your hardships were endured with no or little hope of a better future. This time, everyone knows that the good days are within grasp. It is within reach for all.
There are several objectives Armenia must accomplish to grow. The first objective is production, and it is the first step towards the other goals. Our factories, our farms, our fisheries, our mines... all must be operational and functioning to produce funds to spend on other paths. I have been advised that, despite appearances, our industry can be easily repaired. To do this, I have established a government program to employ repairmen and later, workers, to work on these factories and mines. It is the National Recovery Administration, and I have personally ensured the credibility of this department by handpicking the heads. Monetary incentives, as well as housing, food, and medical care are available to all NRA workers while they toil to fix the centers of production our economy so very desperately needs. In addition, the NRA will improve upon our decayed infrastructure and seaports to aid export of the produced goods.
In addition to the NRA's function of rebuilding and staffing production and resource centers, the administration also contains a department devoted to carrying the goods throughout the country and to our major export ports. The NRA has procured a fleet of vehicles to truck products from our industrial centers in Hrazdan and Erzurum to the ports of Trabzon and Rize, or the border cities in Nakhchivan and Javakhk. There, they will be sold to foreign governments on the other side of the borders. And for sea trade, our main ally will be Poland. While the NRA does not handle the sea trading, a Merchant Marine does. The Armenian Merchant Marine will hereby ship exports and imports across the Black Sea to ports in Poland for the good of both our economies.
And while we're on the subject of foreign economies, our major allies are looking to be Poland and Persia, as they have offered help to us while we struggled against the Ottoman tyranny and continue to assist us. Foreign investments from their governments will be instrumental in allowing the NRA to perform its functions, as the administration is funded by the government for the sake of efficiency. I have worked out personally the deals with each country, and have ensured their full cooperation and willingness to fund our nation. For that, I thank them, and urge you to do the same. They are our friends in this ever-hostile world, and will be instrumental in our climb to self-sufficiency. They will be our biggest trade partners, military supporters, and political advocates. We shall look towards a glorious future with them.
Now, the final topic is minting our own currency. I plan to reintegrate the dram based upon a gold standard once our stockpile of gold reserves is at the recommended level, which we plan to be so in a few months. In the meantime, the lira will be used as a de facto currency until the phase-out sometime in the future. But when this does happen, we will no longer have to live with the Turkish economy controlling our every move.
To summarize, we must be patient, yet work hard. The NRA and its assorted laws are there for our benefit, and it is the bridge across the river from poverty to a golden age. I urge everyone to take part in the reconstruction of this country, for the more who partake, the sooner it is finished. This is the final stretch of suffering, Armenians. I promise that the decades of misfortune will come to an end very, very shortly. And it is with that thought that I leave you tonight. Have a good evening, Armenia. We must get to work in the morning."
And with that, Assanian pushed away from the table, got up, and left.
-Brasilia, Brazil, South American Confederacy- -A meeting of the Conservative Party of Brazil-
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is unacceptable. These dirty communists-"
The man was interrupted by a woman standing up in the assembly.
"Chairman Santos, they are not really communists, as you know well."
"Whatever!" bellowed the chairman. "These new socialists-he said the words with the utmost disgust-are an absolute stain upon the people of this nation! They will drive our economy off a cliff, they will institute dictatorship and repression, and worst of all, their propaganda is likely to win them the election!"
Another man rose and said, "Mr. Chairman, the result of the election is far from certain-"
"You and I both know that it is, Senator. We have sat and bided our time, dismissing this socialist movement as a fluke, and not at all representative of the population of Brazil or any other South American nation, and while we have done that, they have achieved the cusp of electoral victory across South America! We must immediately take action! With revolution if necessary!"
"You can't be serious," responded the senator.
"Of course I am. The victory of the New Socialist Party will be the death of all of us. We must stand now or never. We must work to raise up arms, and stand and fight. We must find allies, and organize a coup against this socialist traitor, Claro. All those willing to stop the end of our nation, follow me. All those who are to lazy and too unprincipled to, you may stay here."
At the end of that, slightly over half of the assembly stood to follow. Then subsequently, more and more stood, until there was merely ten to fifteen left who still opposed. They exited out of the other door, talking loudly and concernedly.
-Boston, New England Republic-
A scientist at the UND Science Facility sat down to eat his lunch, and was just about to dig into his hamburger when another scientist walked up and asked him a question.
"So, how did the diagnostic test go? Is she ready to go?"
"I'm afraid not," responded the other scientist. "There's a problem with the engine construction. The new fuel works as anticipated, and well, but the engine can't handle it. We need to refine it to make it stronger."
"That's unfortunate. Have you decided what you're going to send up with it? Surely not a person, it's not built for it."
"That will have to wait," he said with a nod. "The guys at MIT are working on figuring out what kind of a capsule they would have to build in order to ensure the safety and supply of some kind of cosmonaut."
"But we've decided we're going to try to send up a satellite. A simple one, with a radio to transmit a signal and a camera to take pictures. We expect we'll have the camera detach and return to the planet with a parachute, though I have no idea where or how it'll fall into the atmosphere, or if it will survive at all."
"Why try, then?" asked the first scientist.
"It would be extremely valuable, if we were able to get it. Aside from that one balloon photo that Ethiopia got barely outside the atmosphere, nobody has taken pictures from outer space. Except for the Chinese. Nobody has any idea what they have."
"True enough. Heck, when you send that satellite up, take a few pictures of China, why don't you? Nothing else can see it."
The scientist smiled at the thought. "Anyway, you'd best get back to work."
"Definitely. Did you hear, the Russians stopped sending funding due to the absolute mess that's enveloped their country, but we're getting more scientists than ever that are fleeing over here to work with us. I have to introduce one of them to the work we do here. Have a good lunch break."
The National Congress hall for the Vietnamese state had been loaned over to a new entity. Hanging unfurled from the high ceiling of the open hall. Similar to the Congress in the US, or in China the seat lay out arranged in a semi-circular orbit around a central stage, backed by heavy green drapery and pinned with a large red and gold medallion emblazoned with the sigil of the Vietnamese state. Short windows stood ground floor opening to a small patch of garden beyond until it met with a narrow galley just above.
On any normal day, the hall would be utilized by the members of the Vietnamese Congress. Though for this particular event the Vietnamese state had offered the service of their Assembly Hall to the ASB proper. On the stage flanking the medallion hung the flags and banners of the member-states of the ASB. Many of the chairs had been shuffled aside to make room on the floor below and to allow the seating of a much smaller dignitary group. On the stage, the podium was joined by two other sets of furnishings draped in warm orange cloth. The set up much resembled a judge's stage. Flanking it, seats and tables for each of the ASB member-states - Minus the US - were laid out in a semi-circle.
In the galley, news agencies had gathered to record the event. Tripods mounted with photographic cameras sat perched poised to the floor below. Milling about with large, fuzz-socked microphones milled a gathering representation of the multiple radio entities within the political alliance. Journalists wandered finding their seats alongside wayward civilians just looking to watch the action. Entities from the Khmer Press in Cambodia to the Washington Post in the US were present. The ASB and several localized affiliate, several Mexican journalists had arrived.
On the floor below, suited men patrolled looking to find seats. Largely a number of seemingly random members of local governments. Congressmen from China milling with representatives of the Cambodian parliament. And uncharacteristic of the nation's general lack of involvement in some affairs of the ASB were parliamentary affiliates of the Northern half of Korea.
Things began to settle as out strolled a procession of the state leaders. Fronted by Cheng Chou Mihn - looking old with hard lines tracing the features of his face and salt and pepper hair going thick with salt combed back across his skull - came more formal ceremonial figures. After them came the representatives of the respective nations in the Bloc to reflect their master's opinion in the hearing, of which was Daen Hong.
Fanning out to their seats they sat down. Arriving from the opposite side strolled the American delegation who walked to take positions set up in front of, and to the side of the assembling tribunal. When all figures were seated, one of the ceremonial figures took the stand, and tapping the microphone to check to see if it was on began, the reporters leaning in carefully to follow: "On this day, August 2, 1977 we gather in the legalistic hearing on the United Socialist States of American over disputes over the legality and rightfulness of their annexation of the national formally known as the North West Coalition as backed by President Cheng Chou Mihn of the People's Republic of Vietnam and accordingly seconded by the People's Republic of Korea and of the People's Laotian Republic. The charged nation has assembled their case to their best ability, as has the prosecution. In this international Jury here we place in the hands to uphold truth and integrity in the regards to this case.
"We begin the hearing with the case presented by the president of Vietnam, Cheng Chou Mihn. Comrade Cheng, you have one minute to present your opening argument."
Stepping down from the podium the ceremonial announcer stepped down. And replacing him in step was Cheng Chou Mihn. Adjusting the mic and clearing his throat he spoke slowly in French: "It is of the attention of myself and many in my foreign affairs committee that the 95th Congress of the United States' Resolution 14 is in direct contradiction to the tenants of the ASB that no nation within the Bloc may seek aggressive acquisition of land, thereby threatening the sovereignty of the unique independence of a people. This act they have carried out is in direct defiance of the First Article of the Biejing Treaty, which as we know is the law abiding doctrine that forms the core principle of the ASB. And as members of this union, are thereby expected to comply to this law, and comply to the greater good of all people.
"In this hearing, we will discuss how we feel that the acquisition of the North West Coalition territories is a part of a greater Imperial Agenda being carried out by the United States government and request that freedom is returned to the fair peoples and that the prerogatives of the US government are thus called to an end to effectively retain stability.
"That is my opening statement, fair committee." he added before stepping down.
Reclaiming his space the speaker took to the podium and addressing the American delegation of three, Dixon, Kennedy, and Bacon said: "You may begin with your one minute counter-rebuttal."
A hot explosive clap echoed in the burning din of the street and a man at the barricade of cars dropped. His blood fanning out in a bright flower illuminated by the violent oranges of the burning street. His partners turning to address the issue with their guns raised were similarly dropped in a pair of quickly pressed shots forcing them to drop in heaps.
With his coat sleeves tied tightly around his mouth to ward off the thickening smoke Tung stepped out. Revolver held in hand and leveled to the barricade. His athletic build dripped in sweet from the slowly burning buildings that surrounded him, under shirt adhering to his torso as it filled with sweet. The revolver glistened and gleamed in the new light as it and its owner stepped out from the thin cloud of smoke and haze they had hidden in while lining up the shot. Walking to the barricade he poked one of the corpses with a foot. Swaying on its own weight the bodies remained still.
Tung raised his hand to his mouth and pulled the make- face mask down below his chin. Turning towards the impromptu police line behind him he shouted over the raging infernos: "They're dead!"
Distantly, the faint voices of police officers echoed in a distorted watery tone. Faint and underlying he heard the shout to call the fire department in. Faint silhouettes advanced on his position though the fiery haze and the smoke. Shing of which was one of them.
"Car's dead, what now?" Tung asked with a nervous grin, "It's a shame too, I liked that car."
"Department can get another." his partner muttered as he quickly scanned the area, "Do any of you know where else this is going down?"
"This whole block!" a officer called, circling about the barricade.
"I saw a large group in a van driving south through the city." another cop said. He had blood dripping down his face from a wound torn into his forehead, "When I tried to stop them they were shooting about, throwing firebombs."
"What kind of truck?" Shing inquired.
"Some beer delivery van. Canvas top."
"Well, that's a start then..." Shing asked.
"Your car's dead?" another officer shouted above the fire, "Because I found motorbikes, the feel full."
Both Shing and Tung looked over to where the man was indicating. Leaned up against the brick wall of an as-of-yet untorched building leaned a pair of rattled motorcycles. Army olive-green, their white stars indicating they had likely been once American, but had been repainted with a red bollo knife and star within. Old communist militia bikes.
"Those'll do." Shing grinned, sliding his revolver into his pocket, "They got keys?"
"They do." the cop nodded.
"Good," Shing sighed, "Then while we're out, look for survivors and ready them for the ambulances. Just don't stand around anymore."
"Well is that it?" scoffed Hua as he hung over the nondescript radio. It bore no signs of Tsu's surgery on the device and puzzled the engineering professor. Li on the other hand hung back on the edge wearing a nondescript expression.
"It is." smiled Tzu as he pulled a screwdriver from his back-pocket. Pressing the tiny implement to the back of the machine he began to unscrew its fittings. The tiny fasteners falling to the wooden desk of the lecture hall with light clatters. With a click he removed the back platting, and turned it to the cynical professor.
His eyes lit up with bemusement looking into the cavity of the radio. Nestled in where its vacuum tubes would sit sat a small arrangement of small silver-coin like objects. Arranged out, they left a considerable void from where the light-bulb like crystals would have sat. "And it works too." Tzu smiled as he flipped a switch. With a light click, the speakers turned on, broadcasting current events, including Saigon.
"Well I'll be!" cheered Hua, clapping his hands together. Even Li looked impressed as he leaned in closer to the crowd. His otherwise distant eyes lighting up with a glowing relief. A thin smile flickered onto his face, before suddenly fading.
"What's the matter then?" Tzu asked puzzled, "Wouldn't this solve your employers issues?"
"It's not that..." the air-force engineer mulled, "It's just... disorganized."
With a loud booming laughed Cong keeled over his knees. Tzu bit his lips, flushing with sudden embarrassment as Tzu critically examined the current layout.
Hassan leaned against a tree eating a banana. They had been waiting in the jungle for days, the stifling humidity and poor sanitation making the entire camp miserable. Men grumbled, complaining about how long it was taking General Hondo-Demissie to meet up with them. Hassan had grown fed up with the whining. His own men were as bad as the Congolese. In order to enjoy his meager meal, he had walked through the camp until he could find a conversations that he could stand to listen to.
"I don't get it" one of the Congolese men Hassan was eavesdropping on questioned his partner. "There are people in every village. Why would you want to fuck monkeys?"
"I've never been chased out of the village by angry fathers with spears for screwing monkeys" the other man retorted. "It's easier. We don't have time to court women when we travel all the time, but you don't have to court a monkey."
"You..." the other man choked through his words in bewilderment, "Why would you even.. want to fuck a monkey?"
"They are like people, you know" the other man retorted. "They say we come from those monkeys. The way I figure it, it's the closest to real sex you will get out here."
"How do you even catch them?" the first man inquired, his uneasiness slowly giving way to a hesitant curiosity.
"If you hold out food, some of them will walk right up to you." the other man informed, "One you get them in your hands, they squirm. Oh hell do they squirm. But really... " he paused as he began to grin, "That only makes it better."
"Mother Mary" the first man muttered in response as he performed the sign of the cross with his hands.
The conversation was interrupted by the sound of horses galloping toward the camp. Hassan turned toward the direction of the commotion. Several men had quickly grabbed for their weapons, but they had began to relax once the mysterious horsemen entered their presence. Finishing his Banana, Hassan made his way toward the scene.
Several men had dismounted, greeting the rebels as friends. At the back of the group, a tall brown stallion carrying too people sauntered calmly toward the center. The first rider, a young man sporting a worn blue jacket similar to those worn by Askari captains, wore a smile on one side of his face that communicated an innate cockiness. The second rider, a young woman in street clothes, held on to the man with one hand while wielding a repeating rifle in the other.
Both riders dismounted and made their way to General Mulele's table. The young man greeted the General with an embrace. Recognizing that their ally had finally arrived, Hassan strolled over toward the Ethiopian portion of the camp, motioning his aide Idrissa to join him. The two men made their way up to the two rebel generals, navigating through the merry band that had just arrived as they unpacked their things and chatted happily with the camp's inhabitants.
As Hassan approached the two generals, Mulele turned to greet him with a hearty smile. "General Ethiopia!" he shouted, "Come meet my friend."
"General Hondo-Demissie" Hassan replied, turning his attention to the newcomer and his female companion. "You seem popular in these parts."
"The Ethiopian!" Demissie responded courteously. "You can call me Marcel. We don't worry so much about honorifics in this place."
"Marcel then." Hassan bowed his head politely, "You can call me Hassan. This is my comrade, Idrissa."
"It's good to meet friends in this jungle." Idrissa greeted on cue.
"I feel the same way." Marcel replied, quickly turning his attention toward his female companion. "Ah, and this my wife and lieutenant, Cassandre"
The young woman smiled, taking a cumbersome sack from he shoulders and placing it on the ground to free her arm, allowing her to shake hands with the two Ethiopians. "We can't thank you enough for helping us."
"I'm sure our nations will make tight allies once you are free." Hassan smiled coldly as he shook hands with the woman. "But first, we have to do that."
"Right" Marcel nodded, turning his attention to General Mulele. "The Elizabethville garrison has slowly been getting smaller. Some of it is our raids, but most of it has been the Belgian Headquarters in Leopoldville. They have been pulling men from the garrison here for a while. They don't have the men to even properly patrol the region. At this point, I think we could easily destroy the garrison in one hit if we work them out of the city."
"And i'm assuming you have already done that?" Mulele noted.
"I've made sure they win a few rounds." Marcel grinned. "And I've made sure to repeat a set pattern. It took longer to coax them out, that's why I left you out here so long and for that I apologize."
"So they are going to attempt an attack?" Mulele inquired.
"My men in the city have told me as much." Marcel responded. "They think they know where I will be, and they think I don't know that they know this. I've also been careful to make sure they think I am weak. With such an economy of men, they haven't been able to gauge my numbers at all. I am pretty confident they don't know you are even here."
"If this is true, this is good." Mulele nodded, looking up toward Hassan. "What do you think?"
"How many men are we talking about?" Hassan asked. "Even a weakened garrison of Belgian soldiers could do some damage to us in the field. They have better guns and better training."
"Roughly fifteen hundred men." Marcel noted. "And I do have a plan. A way to... minimize casualties."
Taking her cue, Marcel's wife picked the large sack from the ground and dumped it's contents onto the table. Hassan and Mulele were delighted as what they seen. Several brown tubes were scattered across the table, fuses sticking from their tops.
"Dynamite" an impressed Mulele nodded. "How did you get these?"
"We've been raiding mines." Marcel responded. We have a lot. And a plan on how to use them."
Modern Day: Bunkeya, Katanga Commune
Hassan shifted himself in his seat in order to avoid the uncomfortable bumps that his staff car found as it sailed down the winding red dirt road. The vehicle was making it's way from the ridge where they had been staying for the past several weeks. Hassan had been personally overseeing the occupation of one of the many villages that the Ethiopian soldiers had taken in order to coax the Katanga rebels into battle. The villages had been rounded into pens and locked into huts, but the Ethiopians were having a difficult time keeping track of them. The final solution to this problem had been constructed in the bottoms, and it was waiting final inspection.
"Curse these damned trees." one of Hassan's guards said. The foliage was repetitive. Bright green trees with long fronds seemed to be the norm. Everything about this part of the country was bright. The dirt was an orange-red, the trees were a light green, and the sky was a blinding blue. The constant song of animal life rang out from the forest wall.
"You get used to them" Hassan replied coldly.
"This looks like a paradise." the guard replied. "Like we are making war in eden."
"No" Hassan disagreed. "This is far from eden."
As the car turned around a final bend, they slowed down to ford a shallow river. A small group of monkeys rushed into the branches of the tree overlooking the ford and stared at the vehicle as it crept through the rocky river soil. Noticing the glaring primates, Hassan looked up as the creatures and chuckled quietly.
Once they had reached the other side of the river, they came across a field of tall grass that seemed to stretch to the mountains on the horizon. Several wooden towers peaked above the grass in the distance. Hassan watched as they made their approach. The towers slowly grew taller, eventually being joined by the fences that connected them and the buildings the populated the inside of the compound.
"That's a sad looking prison." Hassan's guard noted as they turned toward it's gate.
"It will do" the commander replied. The fencing surrounding the compound consisted of two rows of ten foot tall chain link fence with barbed wire lining the top and surrounding the perimeters. As they approached the gates, they slowly opened along a mechanical track. They entered.
Hassan and his party was greeted by several Ethiopian officers. They saluted the general as he crawled out of the car. Getting on his feet, Hassan stiffened his back and returned the greeting. "You boys have been busy."
"We are nearly done." one of the officers proudly replied. "Do you want the tour?"
"I suppose" Hassan nodded.
The camp was divided by another fence, though entry into this one was confined to several smaller gates. On the other side of the central fence was several long barracks. The officer led Hassan and his party through one of the gates and toward one of the barracks. "This is where we would be holding them." he noted, pointing to the fences. "We will be posting guards in the towers, and on patrol between the two fences."
"Right" Hassan nodded. The officer led them into the barracks.
The inside was filled with bunk beds stacked in triple up toward the roof. The beds were the only things present inside the building, and they seemed to cover every wall.
"We can cram nearly one hundred people into each building." the officer responded with pride. "We can fit more if neccessary. We have latrines at the edge of camp to satisfy bodily needs, and we have one building that will serve as a cafeteria. Meals will be taken in shifts."
"I trust you have it set up" Hassan waved his hand. "I assume I have an office?"
"The officers quarters." the officer nodded, "We have our own cafeteria, and you have a temporary office. It should work well."
"Excellent." Hassan nodded. "Do you have a time table?"
"We should have all of the Garengenze in the region moved in by the end of the week." the officer replied.
The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Royal Palace, Brussels
Smets was one of the first to get back to the meeting. The only other ministers there was Rens. "Hello Maarten. How is the family doing?" asked Smets upon his arrival.
"They are good Adelbert. What about your family? Didn't your son just graduate from university? said Rens.
"They are doing good as well. Yes my son did graduate university. He's going to be of doctor." Smets answered.
"That is good." They continued to a small talk as the other ministers entered discussing various topics such as the weather and recent sports games. Once all the ministers arrived the prime minister spoke.
"Now we may continue our meeting. What economic oppurtunies are there in our local region? What neighboring nations can we increase trade with?"
The minister of economic development, Simon de Vroom, stood up and spoke. "I believe that incresing sea trade is very valid idea. The port of Antwerp is oe of the biggest in the world. It allows Belgian product to go to other nations world wide. I am hoping that the British would be willing to increse trade with us. Hopefully, we can get a large market for our goods there. Another place we can look at for trade is South America. Trade is a good step to forming closer bonds with other nations." He sat back down.
Rens spoke next. " Closer ties with other nations is a good goal for Belgium. On that note, what do you all feel about the UND? Should we join and if we do will the pros out-way the cons?"
“If we joined the UND it would open up any trading opportunities. It will also help t have strong allies if the need ever arose. However before we do anything we will need to have a vote In parliament on whether to join or not. I suspect that it would be passed“ Smets responded. “We have covered much at this meeting and we all have lots of work to do. I believe this meeting can be finished now. Is that alright your majesty?” The king nodded and everyone got up and left to do their respective duties.
((Crappy response for the sake of getting things moving while I finish college stuff, incoming! I'll have to get to South Africa's letter another time, since the only reason I'm posting this is because I hate to keep Gorgen waiting, and Sotelo sitting indefinitely.))
Expressing his appreciation for Spain's support in regards to Denmark, the Kaiser smiled, a gracious "Gracias" aimed at the Prime Minister came forth in heavily accented Spanish.
"As for our demands..." began a thoughtful Frederick, his inexperience showing as he scrambled to think of something that would please German companies back home, and benefit his administration. Attempting to hide it, he continued, "The Reich would benefit greatly from mineral rights in Anatolia." he suggested. "We also hold great interest for some of their northern territories." he added, unwilling to reveal his pursue for his rightful Russian claim as Emperor of Prussia, and heir to the Russian throne. "To what extent, I am uncertain at this point."
The Armenian embassy was in the process of being repaired and put into use after years as an abandoned building just sitting and waiting for demolition on a lonely street in Warsaw. The gated gardens in front were long since dead, but a groundskeeping crew had thoroughly removed all the plants, resulting in a barren, dirty sea with only a cracked concrete walkway leading to what was going to be the door: the old one was rotted and thus removed, and a new one was on the way from the manufacturer. Armenian ambassador to Poland Ditsuhi Ohanesian was performing her review of the work on the cold morning, supervising the Polish repairmen and their endeavor to fix the faulty electrical wiring on the second floor. She, along with thirteen other Armenian diplomatic personnel, crewed the largest Armenian embassy thus far. It was a true symbol of the bonds between the two nations.
As Ohanesian watched an electrician remove the drywall in the hallway to get to the wiring underneath, she felt a tap on her shoulder. Behind her was her secretary, a sixty-something year old veteran who gained extraordinary typist skills during his mandatory conscription period in the Ottoman Navy, working as a logistical clerk for the kitchens. The old man cleared his throat and held out a sheet of paper to Ohanesian. "I believe that you were planning on visiting the UND headquarters this evening. I have prepared directions for you," he said kindly.
Ohanesian smiled at her secretary, and nodded. "Thank you, Artyom... Do you have my speech?"
"I have set one of the whippersnappers on it. Hearings are typically a few days after initial application."
"But I do have an information packet."
Ohanesian's secretary then reached towards the other documents tucked under his arm and held out a manilla folder stuffed full of papers. The diplomat took it and thanked him, before rustling through the various sheets of information inside. "Where did you find this?" she asked curiously after flipping past a page detailing extensively the ethnic composition of Armenia.
"I had the president's staff mail me copies of the census data leftover from the Ottoman evacuation. I got them last night and was up all night preparing this."
Ohanesian smirked. "Why do you work yourself so hard?"
Her secretary shrugged. "I wish the damned couriers were faster. We have no organized mail system yet so we're stuck using old ASF couriers to deliver important mail."
The diplomat nodded while reading a detailed analysis of the future economic plan of Armenia. "This looks new," she remarked.
"Yes... I believe it is the written report from Assanian's panel. Did you catch the radio broadcast the other day?"
Ohanesian said yes, and looked up at her secretary. "Very ambitious," she remarked.
"He seems to be hinging on Poland's money."
"Heh. Not to toot my own horn, Artyom, but I think I'm capable enough to persuade the Slavs into investing."
"That's why Assanian put you here," the secretary suggested. He was about to say something else, but the Polish electrician behind them had dropped his pliers with a clang and swore viciously. He then looked back up at the diplomat and apologized before going back to work. Ohanesian nodded in forgiveness and motioned for her secretary to come with her. "Let's go to my office," she said.
The secretary went along without a word, gazing at the Polish workers as he left. It was only a few meters to Ohanesian's office, which was mostly complete save for the Pole painting Ohanesian's name in both Armenian and Polish on the opaque glass window on the door. He greeted hello as the pair walked through and into the sparsely decorated office. It was mostly blank, save for the desk and a round table with two chairs at the edge. Nothing was on the desk save for a picture of Ohanesian's husband and a table lamp: she kept her papers in a nearby filing cabinet. Overall, she liked to keep her room neat and orderly. She had come from a family of very messy people, with her sisters never cleaning up after themselves. Ohanesian hypothesized that one day she just snapped and developed an obsession with cleaning things, much to her parents' joy. This particular quirk wasn't regarded as a bad thing, but rather a display of professionalism.
Ohanesian sat down at the leather chair behind her desk and motioned for her secretary to take another chair from the table in absence of a proper second chair for visitors. She placed the directions and manilla folder on the desk and then clasped her hands over them. After her secretary had sat down, she asked: "So remind me of the UND procedures again."
"Well, ma'am, you just walk in and ask for a meeting with the chairman of admissions. He's relatively free, so it won't take him long to get to you. Then, you state your intentions, leave the embassy's telephone number-"
"They have set up a telephone here, yes?" Ohanesian asked.
"Yes. I made sure of this last night. I tested it myself to see if it works."
"Good. Carry on."
"Where was I? Oh, yes. You give them the telephone number, and then wait for the chairman to inquire with the secretary general. He should call us the next day to give a hearing date. Then you give a speech before the current members' heads and they vote us in. Simple, really."
"Indeed. So you said my appointment was this evening?"
"Four o'clock, ma'am," the secretary replied matter-of-faclty.
Ohanesian thanked her secretary for his hard work, and promised that it would not go unrewarding. After that, they stood up and exchanged customary handshakes before the secretary went on his way.
And at four o'clock later that evening, Ohanesian had her meeting with the chairman and was on her way.
((Lazy ending, I know. I just wanted to get it out of my way.))
((Tiny post is tiny, partly because I don't want to reveal that I know absolutely nothing of wilderness survival, and partly because all that's happened is that Blanc's done an asload of walking.
Somewhere, in the Wastes of Undeveloped China
Walking a few kilometres had yielded itself well to Blanc's mood. He was still mad that he had lost his arm, but the minor levels of dopamine that the walking had released into his blood, combined with the fact that the stump was frozen numb, would have made it almost unnoticeable if it didn't make walking upright difficult (for a while, he had resorted to slowly shuffling forwards, but was slowly gaining his footing again). Still, he doubted the numbness would last forever (though he hoped it would stay numb through the worst of the pain).
He came upon a low embankment, only 3-4 metres above the ground. Blanc quickly scanned it for footholds (as until he became significantly stronger, using his arms was out of the question), and found none. To think about it for a moment, he stepped back, his feet crunching lightly against the gravel that the snow had given way to. Seeing no better option after thinking for a few moments, he got into a runner's starting position, and launched himself at the embankment, scaling it in a few massive bounds. He used his arm to steady himself at the top.
With a small amount of horror, Blanc noticed that the sun was beginning to set.
Shiiiiiiit, he thought, okay, how do I build a shelter? I need supplies… he looked around, and found nothing but flattish gravel for kilometres in all directions. This wasn't good.
You don't say?! His inner snarker asked, rhetorically.
Blanc knew almost nothing of wilderness survival, something he had had a feeling he would regret when he signed on as North Finland's emissary. It was amazing how little one thinks the chances of something like a plane crash are when he's sitting in a heated room under electric lighting.
Blanc snapped out of his mental tangent, and realised that he had a minute or two until sundown. He swore under his breath, and made a hasty decision: elements be damned, he would keep walking. With minor resolve, he opened his rucksack, and put on the remaining spare layers of clothing he had, and ate one of the awful pre-made 'air sandwiches' that he had salvaged, before picking up his rucksack, and continuing on.
Someone would find him, eventually.
Rovaniemi, North Finland (2 days prior to Welfare Convention)
"Sir, you might want to hear this..." a man in the room over called. Sven sighed. He had learned that it was never good news when it was approached like that. He eased himself out of his chair, and trudged out of the room, wincing at how loud the floorboards had begun creaking.
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
We did not invent the Algorithm. The Algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The Algorithm killed Jeeves. The Algorithm is banned in China. The Algorithm is from Jersey. The Algorithm constantly finds Jesus. This is not the Algorithm. This is Close.
-Brasilia, Brazil, South American Confederacy- -July 31, 1977-
"Mr. President!" Feliz shook Claro out of his sleep.
"What... what?" responded the tired man, sitting up straight in the chair he had apparently conked out in.
"The emergency election results."
Adriano Claro bolted upright. "What happened?"
Feliz smiled. "The New Socialist Party achieved 53% of the vote. That gives us a slight congressional majority."
"Well, that's a relief. What about in the other countries?" Claro snapped at a man walking by, gesturing that he wanted a coffee.
"In Chile and Argentina, we had similar positive results. In Ecuador and Venezuela, the New Socialists have achieved a coalition government with the Communists and orthodox Social Democrats. In Peru and Colombia, it was only somewhat of a victory, with the New Socialists achieving similar results as the liberals, and forming a coalition government with them."
"That... that's excellent!" responded Claro. "Certainly we have achieved a peaceful transition to socialism!"
A man suddenly rushed in.
"Mr. President, we have lost contact with Supreme Commander Leopoldo Moreau. A quarter of the army seems to have gone rogue. We're trying to restore order in the remaining divisions."
"What?" asked the two of them at once.
"Preliminary reports seem to suggest that they are converging on Brasilia. It seems we have a coup on our hands."
Claro brought his hand up to his forehead in apparent frustration.
"Do everything we can to stall them. And find out who is behind it. I won't let South America have any more governments removed by military force."
-Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South American Confederacy-
"Breaking news," said the anchor of the morning news. "We have it from government sources that in light of last night's election victory by the New Socialist Movement, certain political and military forces have set in motion a counter-revolutionary coup. Rogue military forces are fighting with the loyalists, and their forces are converging on Brasilia. While the other republics of South America are seeing significant protests, there is nothing on the scale of the conflict we are now witnessing. We here at the Brazilian Broadcasting Network believe that the coup is an unjust takeover of power from a rightfully elected government, and we have seen nothing in the way that the New Socialist Movement threatens Brazilian national integrity. We encourage all of our listeners to take shelter and stay out of the way of combat. We ask that Brazilian armed forces remain strong in their commitment to democratic government. These are most certainly the times that try men's souls."
"This meeting of the United Nations of Democracy is now assembled!" said the Brazilian delegate. He looked around at the assembled other delegates. "We have organized this meeting is to hear the application of the nation of Armenia to the United Nations of Democracy. The Armenian delegate will explain their nation's reasoning for joining this organization, and then there will be a brief question-and-answer session by the assembled national delegates, and then we will conduct a vote."