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A Visit To Solis

Asteria

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The flight had been no trouble, but regardless, Dio was secretly detested visits and public meetings and the social energy exuded by others. It was exhausting to maintain a facade, and yet for some reason, he'd chosen the career of public office. His wife, God bless her, could never understand Dio's decision, yet she still supported him.

The Aventine Presidential Guard retinue accompanying him was limited to a pair of well-dressed men in 3-piece suits, a black consular Raimer R800, and the driver, the ambassador's finest. Behind him, another R800 followed, carrying another Guard and two aides. The vehicles arrived unceremoniously at the designated location, the two Guards exiting his vehicle, scanning, and nodding at the President that it was clear. He sighed, feeling that it was completely unnecessary and yet fully aware that, as a representative for the Serazinist world outside his own borders, he was definitively a target. He glanced at the accompaniment of Aurarian guards, dressed sharply in their dress uniforms, and looked for Mr. Ordenes. Dio Dal Sol was eager to remove himself from the atmosphere of the Aurarian capital, both for the sake of keeping conversations short, and for limiting his own exposure to any would-be Kadiki assassins.

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Auraria

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“Is this one going to go rogue and scream at me to invade Madurja?” President Ordenes joked in reference to Minister Cabello’s ill-fated meeting with the Serenien.

“That would presumably be an easier conflict,” Susanna answered “Yet, we do not anticipate that being a topic of conversation.”

“Well that’s delightful,” Ordenes smiled “Did he really request minimal fanfare? No welcome party, no state dinners, nothing of the sort?”

“Quite true,” Susanna nodded.

“How am I to take that?”

“Consider him a man who wants to get to business, not annoying state formalities. It’s a positive thing.”

“As you say.”

The President moved through Marisela Palace and stood in the main lobby. Two members of the Republican Guard, dressed in their ceremonial regalia, opened the mahogany gates and the President stepped out. Asterian and Aurarian Flags lined the red carpet that extended to where President Dal Sol’s limo would arrive. The President folded his hands in front of him as the motorcade arrived.

“Mr. President,” Ordenes smiled “While I hope the hospitality of the Aurarians stands firm enough that I am not the first to welcome you to our country, I do hope you’ll do me the honor of welcoming you here on behalf of the Republic and its people.”

The two men shook hands, allowing the Press to grab some images and quickly moved into the seclusion and safety of Marisela Palace.
 

Asteria

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A few smiles and handshakes, then the pair departed into Marisela Palace. It was a lovely setting, filled with all the pleasant luxuries a wealthy capitalist nation could provide. He thought on his own accommodations at home, knowing that he'd find them lacking in comparison, and was in part thankful for the lowkey discussions to take place. Mahogany doors loomed large with elegance and history, trees which had perhaps been alive in the days Asteria was little more than a backwater of Auraria.

"Mr. Ordenes, it's a shame that we have not had the pleasure to meet in person as of yet. I apologize for the lack of pomp, my security detail insisted on a more subtle meeting given the short notice. As much as I've enjoyed the few hours I've been here, I must confess that I share my guards lack of trust for the Kadiki's." He had left his personal guards to attend the motorcade, bringing with him only a pair of aides. A young girl with sharp features browsed through narrow glasses over a document to occupy her idle mind as they proceeded, her dark blue skirt offering a starkly different silhouette from the party veteran that strode beside her. A larger man with a darker complexion and a less-than-shaven, almost haggard, who wore an unbuttoned collared shirt beneath, Vito had been alongside Dio for years and Dio counted him as a trustworthy friend as much as an assistant.

"It's a shame what happened with the last summit. Sometimes, when you bring too many ideas to the table, there's no room for compromises. Too many jockeys all trying to take the lead," he attempted to negotiate a path to avoid pointing fingers. "Sometimes it's easier for people to find what they disagree on. I'm here to figure out what we agree on, and agree to agree on it. Maybe, I hope, we'll actually walk away with something in writing?"

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Auraria

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“Oh please, you owe me no apology,” Ordenes laughed “There are so many things I wish I could do that the Republican Guard simply refuses the opportunity. I miss the days when I could just just go with my granddaughter for a walk in a park. Now I cannot do anything without three armed men, at minimum, trailing me.”

President Ordenes looked to the two aides who had accompanied President Dal Sol, smiling at them both. “It’s a pleasure to meet the two of you, as well. If I may, this is Susanna Petit – Chief of Staff to the President. Essentially, she runs the Republic but she lets me stand in front of the microphone and get blamed for everything.”

The President laughed, but Susanna gave a forced smile that he would almost assuredly be scolded on the inappropriateness of such a joke. “You cannot mock the power of the Presidency!” he could hear her yelling.

“Ah yes,” the President scratched his chin and leaned back in his chair “It is unfortunate, what happened in the Gallian Summit. They weren’t total failures, I suppose – we did get many countries together in one room. That’s an accomplishment on this continent. Unfortunately, the borders of Gallia have been drawn by distinct cultures and identities that have time and time again used blood and steel to preserve themselves. It is hard to get passed centuries of such behavior, even as the outside world closes in.”

“I admire your spirit, Mr. President,” Ordenes leaned back in, pouring both men a glass of water “I’ve always believed there’s more that binds than divides us. I am curious however, the expansion of the Rurikgrad Pact in recent times has been quite impressive. What started east of Eiffelland is now on the very border of Auraria and Serenierre. The Grand Duchy of Furlanìe sought to stop that expansion through a Status Quo Treaty…an amiable venture, but one I have my problems with. Can I be so bold as to ask your thoughts on the matter?”
 

Asteria

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"A lie," the response was direct and to the point. "Kadikistan is little more than a military stratocracy, far fallen from the dream of a revolution to enshrine the rights of the people."

Dio ran a hand over his balding head, as he usually did when thinking under stress. He had to decide between constructing a delicate answer, or honesty. Coming to an impasse, he closed his eyes and resolved to just speak.

"Crotobaltislavonia," he leaned forward in his chair, raising a fist with one finger lifted.

"Trivodnia." He raised a second finger.

"Burgundy," a third.

"Furlanìe," he shook his hand without lifting the finger, closing his eyes and shaking his head. "The Status Quo Treaty is the Kadiki tool to guarantee they don't have to step backwards. Maybe the Duchy thinks it makes her safe, but Ivar is already planting the seeds of militarism by establishing a vanguard party there."

Dio settled back into his chair and massaged his chin between his finger and thumb. "The Kadiki's betrayed the dream of enshrining the people. You might not accept that ideal, Marx's dream; few claim to, even fewer do. But certainly you're aware that Leninovism is little more than a jackboot cult, the workers' become its soil. Just look at democracy marching backwards in Crotobaltislavonia. You know as well I that Ivar won't suffer a rebellious child."

Behind him, Vito's hands were clasped firmly before him, a thumb nervously rubbing circles against his skin.
 

Auraria

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Ordenes gave a sly smirk and looked to the Asterian President.

“I admire your frankness,” he confessed “I do not have an extensive political background, truth be told and when I came into politics I have consistently be astonished by how smooth talking people are as they carry their daggers behind their backs.”

He leaned back in his chair and put his hands to his side.

“I feel like a broken record, I say it consistently – this continent is perhaps the most contentious of any. Himyar respects the established order of the big three. Touyou united under on sovereign entity. Westernesse and Thaumantica in harmony, so long as your ethnic background is appropriate – hell even the Germanians and Scanians have made progress in areas. Yet, here is Gallia. Whereas so many borders in the world were drawn at random by Gallians, the borders here are marked by centuries of bloodshed, culture, and brute force. Even in my own country, the unity of Auraria is so rooted in the strength Catamarca had.”

He decided not to touch too heavily on Auraria’s own imperial history nor its prominent role in randomly drawing borders and ruling by the barrel of a gun – or even more how many actors in his country long for a return to the days when Auraria could do such things.

“The Grand Duchy acted selfishly,” he said bluntly – it made Susanna raise an eyebrow “So much could have been accomplished if Gallia and Germania stood in unison. Instead they stood alone, and now we have a Gallian country legitimizing all of the expansion Ivar has accomplished. Kadikistan, and indeed the Rurikgrad Pact, has never been stronger than it is today.”

“It is quite funny,” he chuckled “you read the works of Karl Marx and what he suggests. His ideas are profound, of course, but not wrong. It is baffling to me how one can interpret a call to liberate a working class into creating an aristocracy and militarized supreme authority within a single political entity. In this area, Asteria and Auraria agree.”
 

Asteria

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Ordenes did not seem to lie when he stated his freshness to politics. Dio would not normally consider it polite for an Aurarian to discuss unity with an Asterian. The history between the two nations was bitter; and most historians would agree that it was the Asterians that were on the losing end of much of that history. Still, Dio allowed it to slide, knowing that its was a tired stereotype for Gallian politics to fail for less.

"it would be my belief that violence is the greatest oppressor of the person. It also coddles the stupid, let's them refuse to see reason and logic by punching things they don't understand. Little wonder that it is the embodiment of violence that serves as the cornerstone of the Kadiki state," Dio mused, his female aide, Lana, stifled a laugh to avoid his glance. The Asterian President himself spared a sardonic smile as he shared the joke at Ivar's expense. "Unfortunately, you can't stop an idiot by making him think, so we must all drag our knuckles around when it comes to doing business with the Pact. I would hope us Gallians could be more intelligent with each other. We might have our disagreements, but I believe they can still be solved with words, and not by killing sons and daughters."

"With that in mind, it was my goal to come here today to discuss an arrangement to avoid war. I'd like to propose a non-aggression agreement between our two governments, with some minor stipulations perhaps, so that we can stabilize the Gallian situation and give everyone some sense of comfort and ease. If you're of the same mind...
"

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Auraria

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“Ivar’s greatest ally is a fragmented Gallia,” President Ordenes nodded as he spoke. There’s no doubt that Gallia’s inability to stand as a united front has left it fragmented and weakened, frequently at the mercy of larger political alliances. The Grand Duchy of Bourgogne’s collapse is perhaps the most telling example. The rapid expansion of the Pact’s borders has been met by nothing more than typical Gallian pettiness.

Consul Dimasio in Madurja lost his office for even agreeing to meet with the Gallian States and Furlanìe was frequently regarded as a traitor, sacrificing the welfare of the continent for a false sense of security. Nevertheless, Ordenes’ team spent a tiresome amount of time to determine whether or not to make it commonly known that the failure of the Gallian Summit was in large part due to the overt aggression of the Serenien. It isn’t entirely clear to Solis if the existence of Marxist-Serazinism is a larger threat than the expansion of Ivar.

Ordenes wanted to change Auraria’s strategy from finding unity among the continent to building comradery with all of its nations. Perhaps, then, the credit that Auraria could build with each Gallian Sate could be leveraged into something greater. That strategy starts here.

“Certainly,” the President smiled warmly “There’s no need for our two nations to be adversaries. Modernity requires freedom from the constraints of the old ways. They don’t serve us now, not in the slightest. Auraria would be proud to sign a non-aggression pact with the Confederacy. In addition, I am interested in building closer bonds between our nations. Trade agreements, cultural exchanges…these sorts of things can only serve to enhance our quality of life.”

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Asteria

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"Before we draft any documents, I should note that pre-existing commitments limit any contract on non-aggression. To be blunt, as an ally of Serenierre, we are bound by reciprocated obligations to come to her aid when called upon in any defensive conflict. This would include any acts of aggression on the part of Auraria, whether directly or as an ally. Although I don't anticipate such a need, I am also negotiating with all of Auraria's future administrations." President Dal Sol's remarks were put forward without hesitation. He was confident this would not critically compromise the negotiation, as it would be foolish to consider it an unexpected stipulation.

"As for trade agreements, I'm open to suggestions, but you should be aware that there are limitations regarding what we can accommodate. The majority of farms in Asteria are small-scale, eight hectares or less, while small and medium sized enterprises make up the majority of Asterian industries. Tourism and retail make up the rest of the economy. Tariff reductions represent serious risks to most of these sectors." Dio didn't have much interest in economics, and so he rambled on. He felt the good book gave him reasons enough to pause as the rest of the world raced to expand the breadth of their sufferings. Still, there were some issues he could tackle. "I do hear that you've recently approved for a MadGas pipeline to cross Auraria. I was curious if you'd consider assisting us in negotiating a branch off to Asteria vis-a-vis Santo Estevao and Coronado. I'm sure your negotiators already worked out acceptable transit fees, and it would be a fair bit more practical to branch off the existing plan than construct a wholly new pipeline across the Madurjan-Asterian-Aurarian waters off Coronado."

Dio didn't want to continue droning on without offering Ordenes the ability to offer up his own ideas on trade agreements. As far as Asteria was concerned, her artisan industries were endangered by the economies of scale of her neighbor, and yet Auraria was a lucrative market for agricultural and craft goods an Aurarian would be paid far too little to produce, and a machine could never manufacture with the craftsmanship of skilled labor. Yet, Auraria was also a major trade partner, providing significant supplies of electronics, pharmaceuticals, and many other consumer goods at prices that were somewhat restrictive yet often necessary.

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