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The State of Steel

Pelasgia

Elder Statesman
Joined
Sep 30, 2014
Messages
2,617
Location
Athens, Greece
Capital
Propontis
Nick
Demos
Propontis, Optimatoi Prefecture

The Grand Patriarchal University of Propontis (MPPP), also known by its ancient name, Pandidacterium, was the oldest of Pelasgia's universities and, according to Pelasgian claims often debated by rival universities across the Claret Sea, the oldest European university in continuous operation. Housed in the Palace of the Magnaura, which had at various times also served as the Imperial Chancellery and the Senate House, the Pandidacterium had trained countless generations of Pelasgian scholars, intellectuals, academics, civil servants, statesmen and specialists. Though meant to provide an education for temporal officials, unlike the Grand Seminary of Propontis, the Pandidacterium was formally under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Propontis. In a clericalist country where most institutions of higher education (or, indeed, any level of education) were ecclesiastical, this was far from surprising or uncommon.

Dressed in the long dark robes of a professor, and with a matching short flat hat covering his head, Homerios Makripalamas, a Professor of History and Jurisprudence, sat in the restricted section of the Pandidacterium's Grand Library. Like most buildings of the university complex, the Grand Library was constructed in the medieval Propontine style, with large corinthian pillars and marble bases akin to those of classical Pelasgo-Tiburan edifices being combined with limestone and brick surfaces filling in the gaps of the ancient structures, reflecting the colder temperatures and reduced safety of the medieval period. Countless rows of ornate wooden shelves hosted innumerable leather-bound tomes, stretching out as far as the eye could see; indeed, the eye could not see very far in the late night hours that the Professor had chosen to conduct his study. This was for good reason: flanking him was his trusted research assistant, Alexios Kalokagathos, a third-year student at the Pandidacterium's School of Jurisprudence. Formally speaking, Kalokagathos was not supposed to be in the restricted section of the library; under normal circumstances, Professor Makipalamas would take out what books were needed, and then hand them to him. However, the Professor detested such bureaucratic constraints on research, especially when they prevented someone he trusted as much as Alexios from helping him.

The two men were engaged in a long silent study for quite some time before Alexios broke the silence of the near-empty edifice. "Master Professor," he said, "why did Emperor Ioannes VII prosecute the Pelasgian nationalists?" Homerios remained silent; he continued staring at the book before him, Tiverianos Protonotariopoulos' History of the Judicial Institutions of the True Empire of the Tiburans and of their Struggle with the Great Church of Christ in Propontis. Finally, after several moments of excruciating silence he formulated a response. It was not that he did not know the answer; he was, rather trying to determine the best way to formulate it, given his suspicions about Alexios' reasons for asking his question. "What is nationalism, Alexios?" he asked.

Alexios responded almost immediately, with complete confidence: "The idea that human beings constitute socio-political groups known as nations based on shared traits such as a common tongue, common faith, common ancestry, and common traditions, and that these naturally form the basis of political organisation." Homerios continued looking at the tome before him while he responded. "A standard modern definition," he said, "and therefore inadequate." Homerios' suspicions had been confirmed; that definition was drawn from the Grand Pelasgian Encyclopaedia of 1848, a decidedly liberal and nationalistic source. It appeared that Alexios had taken a bit too much of a liking to a certain classmate of his with whom Homerios had seen the young man frequently as of late; Despoina Renti-Psalida, the daughter of a Deputy of the Liberal Union. "Ideas," the Professor explained, "can never be taken in isolation. They must be perceived in the context in which they were created." He closed the tome before him, having carefully bookmarked the page where he was, and looked at the young man to his right. "Nationalism as we know it was birthed from the Aurarian Revolution. It is inextricably linked with the idea of popular sovereignty, and is therefore liberal by its very nature. Is it any surprise that an Orthodox Autocracy would suppress liberal political ideas?" Alexios was taken aback by the Professor's dismissal of his question. "But nations existed before the Aurarian Revolution!" he replied; "The Pelasgian nation, defined as those who share Pelasgian ancestry, religion, culture, language and customs has existed for nearly four thousand years."

"And yet," the Professor said, "at no point in those four thousand years has anyone thought of creating a Pelasgian National State.* Until some Propontine bourgeois read a bit too much of translated Gallian literature and decided to try and found a Pelasgian Republic." Alexios could not agree: "What about Anaxander and Cassander? Was their state not one meant to unite all Pelasgians based on Aristotle's writings?" The Professor seemed as unconvinced as ever: "Their states was meant to unite all Pelasgian states. This is why nationalism is not merely a belief that nations exist; it is the belief that nations own certain states; and since nations are groups of people, this directly translates into popular sovereignty. Anaxander and Cassander were absolute monarchs, just like Ioannes VII or our current Most Majestic Sovereign. The Pelasgian State does not belong to me or you or to the Pelasgian citizenry at large; it belongs to His Imperial Majesty, Theodore II Laskaris, Emperor and Autocrat of the Pelasgians and Augustus of the South. People used to remember this when it was still called the Southern Tiburan Empire."

*National State (Ἐθνικὸν Κράτος) is a term used by Pelasgian nationalists to refer to a state administered by the Pelasgian nation for its benefit, as opposed to a state that administers the traditional region of Greater Pelasgia and is broadly Pelasgian in culture but rejects Pelasgian nationalism.

"But then Attalos the Great reformed it into the Pelasgian Empire in 1957," Alexios proudly retorted. "And what came of that, Alexios?" the Professor asked; "It took twenty years for the Pelasgian citizenry to make his successors figureheads and to eventually abolish them. Pelasgia had to spend thirty years under a Regency by some General or another to regain its place in the world afterwards." Homerios could see his prodigal student conflicted on the inside: on the one hand he knew that Pelasgia owed its greatness to the Empire; on the other he wondered why the Pelasgians should not be "masters of their own destinies". Certainly, the latter option would endear him to Despoina far more than the former... "Pelasgia," Homerios begun, "is a state of ten thousand races, creeds, ideologies, classes, regions, dialects and tongues. If every single such interest group were to make a faction for itself, Pelasgia would dissolve instantly, leaving behind it a sea of chaos and blood. The only thing saving Pelasgia and the region at large from the doom such a collapse would entail is the whip.** The whip is not the result of simple sadism; it is a form of institutionalised, controlled cruelty that exists to keep a much greater, more brutal barbarism in check. Pelasgia cannot exist without the State of Steel. And the State of Steel must supress any form of nationalism, liberalism, or popular rule, for all it takes for Pelasgia to be undone is for there to be a single faction within the populace. Once that faction is created, all others will follow."
**Vourdoulas (βούρδουλας) is a sort of whip imported in Pelasgia from Azraq sometime in the 1500s. Due to its use in previous centuries to publicly punish dissidents and petty delinquents, its name is still used as a synonym for authoritarian rule based on force rather than reason or consent of the governed.

Alexios knew that quotation all too well: The State of Steel, the seminal work by Petros Tritantaphyllos regarding the history of the reactionary Militarist Junta that governed late Komnenian Pelasgia for nearly three decades before the Laskarid Coup of Attalos the Great. The Professor had merely substituted the word "Pelasgia" for "Tiburia"; otherwise, the quotation was exact. The Professor stood up, putting his hand on the young student's shoulder. "You are a young man, Alexios," he said, "it is normal for you to believe in great ideals. But you must know that you are not the first man to have such ideas; us elders have had them too, and the reason the world around you still stands is because we realised that great ideals are beautiful in theory but terrifying in practice. Ioannes VII was such a man. In this restricted part of the library you will find two books by him, written under the nom de plume 'Ion Vatantzes': A Theory of the Political Organisation of the Pelasgian Race Since the Great Crusade and In Defence of the Propontine Throne's Resistance Against Gallian Modernism. The first, written by a young Ioannes Komnenos who had not yet been enthroned, makes the case for Pelasgian nationalism; the second demolishes it, pointing out what horrors conflicting nationalisms across the Empire would unleash upon the Pelasgians and all other nations of the Empire. And, indeed, how Gallian liberalism would spell the end of Pelasgian culture and its assimilation into the once heretical and now atheistic West."

Alexios remained silent and still for a few long moments, before noticing that his master had begun walking away. "Are you leaving, Master Professor?" he asked. "Yes, I believe it is time I called it a night. Good night, Alexios. Please put everything back in place when you are done."
 
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Pelasgia

Elder Statesman
Joined
Sep 30, 2014
Messages
2,617
Location
Athens, Greece
Capital
Propontis
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Propontis, Optimatoi Prefecture

The Palace of the Governing Senate was a large marble building constructed in the neoclassical style that so dominate 19th and 20th century Propontis, under the direction of Marquis Pavlos Sarogles, Grand Logothete and de facto leader of Pelasgia under the final twenty regal years of of Emperor Isaakios III Komenos. For this reason it was often termed the Sarogleion, an inscription added atop its main gate by the late Emperor's successor, Ioannes VII, upon his ascension to the Throne under the tutelage of the Marquis, who would soon meet his death in a suspicious but never fully investigated accident, much to the delight of the then rising Militarist Faction. Located on the western end of the complex of building that constituted the Grand Palace of Propontis, the Sarogleion was shaped like a wedge, having been built between the Field of Honours in the Imperial Gardens and the Phrontesterion, where young Princes of the Blood where educated. At the second floor of the building, flanked by a balustrade on either side and lit brightly by large windows was the State Council Chamber, the single most important lieu of political activity in the whole Pelasgian Empire. Inside, one found a large oval table of oak, covered in baize and with an ornate table cloth of purple velvet over it. Likewise, gold-covered chairs with velvet cushions surrounded this table on all directions, save for that facing that far end of the room from the door. There, the table was vacant, while a large throne surmounted on a dais and covered by a baldachin overlooked the room from above. The closest of the chairs to the throne, to the right of its occupant, belonged to the Procurator General, the formal head of the Governing Senate, since it had started off as a quasi-judicial body within the broader Senate of New Tibur. With the passage of the centuries, the Governing Senate had eaten away at the Senate proper and become the country's government, hence the epithet "Governing" attached to its name without actually being part thereof. The Senate had been reorganized into three committees Legislative Council (which dealt with the Senate's original legislative role by drafting and submitting laws to the Emperor for approval), the Senate Court (which dealt with the Governing Senate's original duties as a supreme body of judicial review by the executive for all decisions by appellate courts in the Empire), and the State Council (which was essentially Pelasgia's broader Cabinet). Evidently, it was the last of these bodies whose session would be held in the State Council Chamber.

The various members of the State Council, comprising of around forty members included all Cabinet Ministers of the Throne, led by the Prime Minister, the Grand Officers of State (the Magister of the Ambassadors, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord First Sword the Imperial Chancellor, the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Imperial Constable, the Marshal of Pelasgia, and the Megas Doux of the Imperial Fleets), the Hierarchs (the Ecumenical Patriarch of Propontis, and the Patriarchs of Hierosolyma, Edessa-on-the-Orontes, and Cassandris), and the Diadochos (Pelasgia's Heir Apparent, also known by the title of Despot of the Pelasgians). At the head of this assortment of Pelasgia's great statesmen, most of them drawn from the nobility of Old Pelasgia, was the Procurator General, the Emperor's senior most legal officer and counsel, fulfilling the duties of Attorney General. The Procurator General was one Alexios Stergiades, 4th Marquess Stergiades, a noble from one of Pelasgia's most prominent "New Peers." For the most part, the Pelasgian Throne had managed to keep the power-hungry bourgeoisie from interfering in the Empire's politics partly by relegating them to the near-powerless and almost entirely ceremonial Chamber of Deputies, and partly by elevating some of the most promising independent statesmen from the middle class to the Peerage, resulting in a class of peers known as the "New Peers." Stergiades was among these men, a devoted servant of the Throne to the end. The Prime Minister, Thrasivoulos Platanias, 12th Baron Platanias, on the other hand was a member of the old Aristocracy of Pelasgia, his family dating as far back as the Great Himyari Crusade. His class certainly had interests which did not always align with the Throne, as the Marmaras Incident had shown but a few years ago, at the start of the Restoration and the end of the Thirty Years' Regency. For the instant, however, they were both perfectly interested in keeping the bourgeoisie out of power, as was the Church, the other traditional rival of the Propontine Throne's absolutist tendencies. Entering the Chamber in a neat single file, the State Councilors were led by the Procurator General to their seats, seating in order.

Then, an usher entered the room flanked by herald, who made the following proclamation: "All stand for His Imperial Majesty, the Basileus of the Pelasgians and Autocrat of New Tibur, and His Imperial Highness, the Diadochos of the Pelasgians and Despot of New Tibur." All immediately stood as the Emperor and Heir Apparent entered the room, dressed in the ceremonial uniforms of the Imperial Pelasgian Navy. The Emperor navigated to the elevated Throne, while the Heir stood to his right. All bowed before the two men, and the Heir then bowed to the Emperor. The Emperor then allowed all to rise, and moved toward the table. Two chairs, larger than the others were placed, one for the Emperor and, to his right, one for the Heir. As the Emperor sat, and then the Heir, all those assembled followed suit in order, starting with the Procurator General.

"Your Imperial Majesty, Your Imperial Highness," begun Procurator General Stergiades, an elderly man with grey, short hair and a bald head, blue eyes and a pale complexion, complemented with a stern and emotionless expression on a face characterized by a preeminent chin and large cheeckbones, "the Your Councilors of State have assembled here, as requested, to discuss matters of State policy." He continued, following the Emperor's acknowledgement, by reading the agenda of the meeting. "The first item for today, brought to the Council's attention by the Right Honourable Prime Minister, is the situation the regions of Himyar south of the Empire's home territories. It is the belief of the Right Honourable Prime Minister, supported by submissions by the State Security Council and Your Imperial Majesty's Secret Service*, that the situation in Nzadiland has degenerated to an unacceptable degree, a fact which, combined with the current Emergency in the Far South, might prove most perilous to the Empire's interests in our home continent." With the Emperor's acknowledgment, the Prime Minister was given the floor. Standing, Baron Platanias made the following lengthy address: "It is the position of the entirety Your Imperial Majesty's Government, along with the State Security Council and Your Imperial Majesty's Secret Service, that Nzadiland has reached a state of state failure such that the Dual Monarchy can no longer be said to hold sovereignty thereover. Indeed, that former colony finds itself reduced to utter barbarism, being split between areas bereft of any organised authority whatsoever and areas ruled by brutal warlords, the likes of which display barbarous behaviour such as cannibalism and many of which endorse communism as a revanchist ideology against the developed world. The buildup of paramilitary forces dominated by communists and cannibals—and, at times, communist cannibals⁠—is certainly perilous to the national interest. More so, if one were to consider the current state of affairs in Your Imperial Majesty's Far Southern holdings. It has been brought to my attention, following a credible report by Your Imperial Majesty's Secret Service, which I submit to this Council as exhibit 1/D, that the so-called Himyari People's Union has begun using the southern areas of Nzadiland as a staging area to raid the northern continental areas of the Far South, particularly the Colony of Antiperama. To make matters worse, we have credible intelligence regarding the increasing alignment of several warlords with the eternal aspiring challenger of Pelasgian hegemony over Himyar: Camp Hill. Should the Natalians be allowed to establish a foothold, even if indirectly, in western Himyar, this would permanently damage our interests and open our own direct frontiers to challenge by Natalian-backed irregulars. Given Natal's well-known opposition to our civilisation of the Far South, the two aforementioned forces might well align."
*the Krypteia

The Megas Doux then rose to speak, having been acknowledged by the Emperor. "If I may humbly submit so, Your Imperial Majesty, the Empire must not hesitate to use any degree of force necessary to effect a more peaceful, humane and stable equilibrium in Nzadiland. At first, we must not hesitate to court some of the warlords for influence, if only to prepare the ground for more direct involvement. Allied sources have mentioned Max Henry as a potential ally in our struggle, a task in which his geographic proximity to our southern Prefectures would certainly aid. Jean-Paul Cornet, though currently leaning towards Natal might likewise be induced to join our faction due to his monarchic ambitions, as we can provide him with the promise of recognition from Europe's oldest established monarchy and certainly the most prestigious one in Himyar. Finally, Jean XIII might be bought without much pomp as with any savage. Having these warlords on our side will certainly buy us time to deal with the Southern Himyari Emergency, which should not take too long following the arrival of our fleet detachment and expeditionary force next week. The real issue will be directly pacifying Nzadiland, something which three warlords, no matter how well-equipped can scarcely hope to achieve. Current PSHC forces, reinforced by elements of the III Marine Division due to arrive in the Far South next week along with significant carrier and guided missile support could push back in border regions north of Antiperama to establish a safe zone, with or without the cooperation of Jean-Paul Cornet. Once the Emergency is fully pacified, the local garrison can join in the assault. I am certain that Kéké units, such as Your Imperial Majesty's Own Nethian Rifles would be glad to enact vengeance on the Kintu-related tribes that inhabit Nzadiland for centuries of ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, the main issue in Nzadiland would be our intervention from the north. I believe the elements of the Third and Second Armies, particularly the Third Army's First Army Corps and Second Army's Second Army Corps, could introduce a significant force of up to one hundred thousand soldiers for this task. With our sole air superiority, along with support from forces of local warlords, this conflict should not prove particularly challenging. Given that the Dual Monarchy will likely withdraw from Nzadiland soon, there remain two other bordering states which could attempt to inhbit us: Serenierre, whose interests I believe could be shown to align with ours, and Natal, which I doubt would be foolish enough to directly attempt a war against us - and even if it did would be doomed to defeat so close to our own home territories on both north and south and with a sea separating Nzadiland from its homeland."

The seasoned Megas Doux, proudly wearing the all-white uniform of the Imperial Pelasgian Navy which matched his near-white but thick hair well, bowed before sitting down again, his deep blue eyes always fixed on the Emperor in whose service he had given a son and over fourty years of his life. His speech was followed by the Magister of the Ambassadors, the chief of the Imperial Diplomatic Service and, arguably, the most seasoned diplomat in the Throne's employ. Theodoros Metaxas, 18th Count Metaxas, was descended from one of the oldest noble families in Pelasgia and certainly the oldest in the Archipelago not to have given the Empire a Sovereign. Ever loyal servants of whomever was in power in Propontis, the House of Metaxas was a monument of Pelasgian history in and of itself, and Theodoros Metaxas was no exception. An elderly man with a clearly bald head, his dark brown eyes still retained a fire which demonstrated his quick wit and very much living spirit. His wise counsel but reserved manner had earned him the nickname "Cunning Fox," quite like Odysseus, and he certainly lived up to it, speaking in much more frank and less flattering, albeit still respectful, terms with an Emperor whom he had known well before he rose to wear the Purple. Standing up after being acknowledged, he bowed softly and spoke even more softly, but his words carried much weight. "We must not forget, Your Imperial Majesty," he said, "in our rush to pacify Nzadiland from the barbarism which has befallen it and to restore to civilised rule, that Europe too should know that this, and not the annexation of Nzadiland is our objective. There are many in Europe who would look in awe and terror at the prospect of Pelasgia owning the entire western shoreline of the Sea of Buto, not least those on the other shore. We must, therefore, make it clear that the goal of our intervention is to merely pacify the region and establish therein a civilised regime which can ensure peace, order, and good government, and the protection of the interests of local and foreign citizens in Nzadiland, as well as the safety of the borders of its neighbours. This last point will, after all, be the pretext for our intervention, if the Krypteia's reports are to be trusted. Unlike our pacification of South Himyar, which we have annexed and mean to further consolidate, the point of the Pelasgian Army's presence in Nzadiland should be to establish therein some Polity which is nominally independent, even if closely aligned with Pelasgia as its protecting power and suzerain. That way, our efforts will be beyond reproach, or at least certainly more palatable than otherwise. We must then contact the elite of Nzadiland, particularly those in the areas still held by the Dual Monarchy, and find from amongst them some who would be able to act as the figureheads of a new Nzadi government. We have, of course, several rich and prominent Nzadis resising in Propontis who could serve that task, and in fact form such a government here. I believe the the Krypteia has already taken the liberty to contact some of these fine individuals, among them being a certain Jean-Baptiste Katambi. From what I have been told, he could very well be the leader of whatever regime we decide to set up for Nzadiland, and has long militated for Nzadi self-rule from the comfort of Propontis's Himyari District, all the while promoting modern Western governance. A most palatable regime for European eyes and ears, and for our own business and interests."

Several more speakers spoke, but by and large, the point had been made. Firstly, Pelasgia would court Max Henry, Jean-Paul Cornet and Jean XIII to establish an initial foothold. Secondly, Pelasgia would establish a safe zone north of the Antiperama Colony, in response to HPU raids therefrom. Thirdly, and soon afterwards, Pelasgia would form a government-in-exile in Propontis to succeed the Dual Monarchy's colonial regime, and then relocate it to the safe zone when the time was opportune. And, finally, with the approval of the said controlled regime, Pelasgia would intervene in Nzadiland under colour of a policing operation to restore law and order, having alleged repeated attacks on its borders from militants in Nzadiland. Ultimately, the goal was for Pelasgia to vassalize Nzadiland, ensuring its permanent alignment with Propontis, independence from the Dual Monarchy and, especially, Natal, and relative safety in the areas near its borders, containing important resources, and near the Sea of Buto's seaways and ports.
 
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Pelasgia

Elder Statesman
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Athens, Greece
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Propontis
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Mount Masis, Thapson Prefecture

Mount Masis was the largest of the Haydian Highlands, a mountain range of massive peaks that separated the Thapson and Voukellarion Prefectures from the Pedinon and Alexandrinon. Snowy and unforgiving, the steep slopes of these towering natural walls had kept the region of Perama (the Empire's southern frontier area whose name meant "Far Away Land") culturally distinct and isolated for centuries on end. Away from the overbearing magistrates and gendarmes of Old Pelasgia and of the Empire's coastal urban centres, Perama was a wild land, still mostly agricultural and alien to the interventionist statism that characterised the Empire's northern heartland. In a way, Perama was semi-autonomous, given that, outside of military bases and major urban centres, the whole province might as well be administered by the local notables of each peasant community. The local culture was rich and unique: a peculiar mix of Pelasgian, Haydian, Kyphtic, Urudoah, Tiburan, Slavonic and other traditions, topped by a spiritual framework combining Pelasgian Orthodoxy and various local traditions and superstitions. The major urban centres near the Thapsos and Aronas rivers, and the Lake of Hagios Ioannes were decidedly Imperial and Pelasgian, with clearly delineated minorities, such as the Haydians and Melingians. Every other town and village, however, might as well have a dialect and religion of its own. It was in these small towns where the least reported and most important battle of Pelasgian political and social life was taking place: nationalism awakening.

Despite the active persecution and repression of the Empire's reactionary authorities, nationalism, both Pelasgian and other, was making a comeback in Pelasgian, almost two centuries after its first iteration in the Empire's northern coastal centres had been violently suppressed by Imperial troops. Nationalism, the idea that the Pelasgians formed a nation and were supremely sovereign over their own country as a people, was an idea entirely toxic to the Propontine ideology of the Pelasgian Empire. The Pelasgian Empire was still, very much, the Southern Tiburan Empire, a state which, though Pelasgian-speaking and Orthodox, was hierarchical and monarchic in nature. To this state, one might be a Jew or a Kypht, but as long as he paid taxes and was a loyal subject, he was worth more than a disobedient Pelasgian. This was achieved mostly because the said Jew or Kypht had the same amount of impact on the Empire's decision-making process as the average Pelasgian commoner; that is to say, none. In a country as diverse as Pelasgia (or, rather, a collection of countries) ethnic squabbles would be catastrophically dangerous. They were thus to be avoided, for the sake of common prosperity and peace. And peace and prosperity the Empire had brought, to a degree unseen in any other Himyari state. However, it was this very peace and prosperity which had begun to undermine the Empire's own ideology. More and more young men and women, educated and with their basic needs taken care of, started to doubt the Empire's ideology, especially as they moved into cities, where the dominant agrarian narrative of the clericalist authorities seemed out of touch and irrelevant. The Pelasgians, Haydians, Kyphts, Jews, Urudoah, Melingians and so forth met one another, and realised they were quite different. They realised that they formed distinct groups. And they realised that the Empire had not the interests of any of these groups in mind, not even the Pelasgian one; the Empire cared for itself, for the small elite that ruled, that administered most of northeastern Himyar as a colony or a fief. That was certainly not an ideology they could easily accept. Their parents, who had known the civil strife of the 1950-1970s had come to embrace the stability that this simple lie promised them during the Thirty Years' Regency. But these young men and women, raised in the good times made by strong men, saw no need for the sacrifices and blatant lies necessary to upkeep the Empire.

They begun to form associations, groups, secret societies, clubs, cliques, and the other sorts of little gatherings that human beings form when left to their own devices. Unsurprisingly, the Empire's major universities were hotbeds of this activity. Last year, the Empire's authorities had raided the Empire's major universities, starting with the Grand Patriarchal University of Propontis and the University of Therme, arresting hundreds of students and academics. Officially, this had been done to suppress anarchists, post-delegationists, liberals, and socialists. And though that was certainly a secondary objective, the main goal was different: to find and suppress these nationalist groups, which had begun to recruit the Empire's new crop of leaders. Alas, the Krypteia's efforts were too little too late. The Jews already had the Israelite National Congress; the Haydians already had the Internal Peramiotic Revolutionary Organisation; the Kyphts had the Kyphtic National Delegation; the Melingians had the Melingian Revolutionary Committee; and the Pelasgians, in turn had the Pelasgian National Council. Of course, these groups could not operate in the Empire's core regions, save for Philistaea which had always been a wild card (and even then, the Empire's repressive apparatus was especially careful to track down ethnic activists). Perama, on the other hand, offered the perfect theatre for them operate. They could practice national conversion by converting various villages and towns to their cause; and they could fight amongst themselves (and against the Imperial authorities) when needed. Given the area's demographics, the Pelasgian National Council (PES), the Internal Peramiotic Revolutionary Organisation (EPEE) and the Kyphtic National Delegation (KEA) were the primary adversaries. The Israelite National Congress (IES) and Melingian Revolutionary Committee (EEM) generally allied themselves with the various other local groups, merely using the area as a safe heaven away from their more heavily policed homelands. As the Empire increasingly indebted itself to expand against adversaries and incursions in the Long Sea and southern Himyar, its own inland areas devolved into ethnic infighting.

As the summer sun broke on Mount Masis, Alexios Kalokagathos had already started preparing himself for the long march ahead. Dressed in surplus camouflage fatigues of the Imperial Pelasgian Army (or was it the Gendarmerie?) and carrying an old Type 3 rifle of the kind the Empire was replacing with the Type 36, Alexios had trekked through half the Prefecture as part of a band of irregulars the size of a small platoon, around thirty-five strong. A small hat and a balaclava covered his head, while the only distinguish insignia on his uniform was the flag that many Pelasgian nationalists had taken to using in lieu of the Empire's standard (which merely represented the Laskaris Dynasty): a golden Chi-Rho symbol on a blue field. Inside the chest pocket of his fatigues was a letter to Despoina Renti-Psalida, the young woman who, against the best efforts and warnings of his trusted mentor, Professor Homerios Makripalamas, had converted Alexios to the cause of Pelasgian Nationalism. Officially, Alexios was on a trip to document the local systems of justice, in preparation for a research paper he was to write (something which he kind of did, whenever his group stopped by a Pelasgian village). Unofficially, he was doing much more, as his choice of vestments could attest to. Despoina's role was not much different: officially she was volunteering at several charitable institutions of the Church linked to the University. Unofficially, she was spreading the ideas of Pelasgian Nationalism, especially among the youth. This was, of course, the aspect of ideology that the Empire could never control, for all its repression: grassroots national awakening among the populace at large. As Alexios checked the magazine of his rifle and prepared for the day's march, he heard the all too familiar sound of gunshots from afar. Immediately, he took cover, as did all those around him. "Where the fuck are they shooting at?" asked Tiverios, a young Seminarian turned platoon chaplain from Selymbria, pointing out that the fire seemed to be directed quite afar from the PES rebels. Crawling on the ground slowly, Alexios and Tiverios reached a small hedge, from which they observed the source of the fire. A group of Imperial Gendarmes was exchanging fire with a group of Haydians. Unsurprisingly, the Gendarmes bore insignia of units from Philistaea, as Pelasgia, like any multi-ethnic Empire liked to use units from outside a region to police it, ensuring their absolute loyalty. The Haydians, for their part, looked sorrily unfit for guerilla warfare, being even more hopelessly urbanite in origin than the Pelasgian insurgents.

"They must have been looking for us since, Thursday," said Alexios, referring to the time when the Pelasgian rebels raided a mixed Haydian-Pelasgian village and expelled the Haydian rebel-aligned notables, before converting the village to their cause by getting the local teacher to teach Pelasgian nationalist curriculum, and the priest to hold liturgy in Pelasgian. "And then they bumped into an Imperial patrol, the fools," Tiverios responded. As their foes traded blows, the PES men prepared for an ambush. "We can't let them kill the Haydians and leave, they'll find their intel on us," Tiverios noted. "And if we kill the Gendarmes, eventually the local Commander will notice one of their patrols is missing," Alexios responded. "They know something is up anyway," Tiverios replied; "Let them blame the Haydians, since they won't know we were here." Alexios agreed, and the men prepared to fire. As the last of the Haydians started to fall, the Gendarmes, by then at near half strength became more bold and started advancing, the flank being wide open for the Pelasgians. After a few more moments of waiting, the Pelasgian insurgents opened firing, wrecking havoc among the Imperials. Confused the Imperials tried to turn and fight back on both sides, but ended up hitting their own men in the crossfire. Finally, after almost half an hour of intense gunfire, the last Imperials fell. The two Haydians left were wounded and in no shape to fight. After a short debate, the Pelasgians agreed that it was best to deliver a coup de grâce, lest the Haydians live to tell their tale to any Imperials, or Goldcoats as the rebels called them. Then, the small contigent of rebels, unhurt during this whole engagement, promptly buried the bodies of the dead Haydians and Imperials, with a quick service by Tiverios, and continued to the east, where they were to meet a band of Israelite National Congress and Melingian Revolutionary Committee men regarding cooperation against the increasingly aggressive Haydians.

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Therisus, Archipelagion Prefecture

With the Chamber of Deputies in summer recess, most Deputies were free to return to their constituencies, where they could go about their business and discuss with their constituents. However, as political developments inside the Empire and outside of it kept piling on, it became increasingly clear that the recess of the Chamber was more of a way for the Throne to silence the parliamentarians than a reflection of a lack of need for their political input. As it became increasingly clear that Pelasgia would have to choose between the West and Kadikistan, and that the powers that be in Propontis' halls of power favoured the latter, the Western-aligned majority of the Chamber of Deputies, largely drawn from the mercantile and liberal bourgeoisie, found it urgent to act.

Representing the largest group in the Chamber, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, Deputies Philippos Merkoures of Thoricus (for the former Constitutionalist Party) and Ioannes Kravatas-Apostolakis of Therisus (for the former Liberal Union) met in the latter's constituency, ostensibly on the occasion of the engagement of one of the latter's children. Walking through the lush gardens in the Kravatas Family Estate, the duo of powerful statesmen lost no time in discussing the Empire's future, once out of the earshot of other guests.

"It appears that the New Peers mean to drag Pelasgia into the Germanian mess," said Kravatas-Apostolakis; "Ironic, given that they left the Trier Concordat precisely to avoid dragging Pelasgian into a Germanian war. Then again, we all know they just did it to keep their alliance with Kadikistan. The security agency veterans that run the Imperial State know a kindred spirit when they see one, and what better friend is there for the soulless Machiavellian bureaucrats of Propontis than their friends in Ivar? Both run autocratic Empires with countless nationalities in them, and both seem to like to pretend that the Aurarian Revolution never happened."

"Indeed, I very much doubt that the Palace will side with the West, even despite Natal's overtures," Merkoures responded; "The DDI has done everything in its power to court the ODS and to aggravate the Imperials, and the Imperials have done everything to reject the DDI's advances in the Long Sea. Back when your grandfather was in charge of Pelasgia, the Long Sea was open for trade and we were partners with those across it. Today, the fools in the Senate House see it as a fief, and have managed to alienate half the world and give the Anarchists an excuse to set foot in it. I fear that we might have to act very soon, if a catastrophe is to be averted. Pelasgia must realign with Gallo-Germania, or else the whole continent will become an Engell and Post-Delegationist colony out of fear of Kadikistan."

"There is not much we can do now, unfortunately," Kravatas-Apostolakis responded with a deep sigh; "We shall have to let the New Peers slam their head against their wall a few times, in the Long Sea, in Nzadiland, in South Himyar, in Perama if need be. Once that is done, and their regime has been weakened enough, then we will have a window to act. Not before. Until then, we will have to watch and prepare. It pains me to say, but we might have to see Pelasgia suffer before she can be forced to change and adapt to the modern world, as was the case in both preceding centuries. In the meantime, we could try contacting our old friends in Eiffelland and Natal, to remind them that some in Pelasgia have no yet lost their mind... and to see what allies we have in the centres of power within Pelasgia, for when the time comes."
 
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