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6 days ago
Back in my day if you got bored you went to the Catherby fishing grounds and stated a surface level political opinion and watched the fireworks as everyone grinding fishing took the bait
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12 days ago
white woman moment (it was mayo)
6 likes
19 days ago
The queen did not work, she woke up and started drinking gin at 11am like every other posh Brit with a do nothing job. God save Liz Tuss, new hero of Ireland.
4 likes
19 days ago
REST IN PISS, GRAND HISTORICAL PISSER. May the next soon rest in piss
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21 days ago
I'm shocked you find this to be news. Everyone I knew who was watching the show in season 1 knew and talked about that

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Harry Potter is not a world view, read another book or I will piss on the moon with my super laser piss.

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(Kinda don't want this to die)
Nouveillie Machauex

Claimoinx

Chateau d'Bagouyne


“I had the rumors confirmed to me by a flier.” an old unicorn said, reclined on a long velvet couch under the shade of an orange tree. The smell of fermenting citrus high in the humid summer air. Canopies had been erected in the grove to expand the shaded area except for under the wide crowns of the old trees that made up the orchards of the Bagouyne family estate. Servants in finery stood with fans and casks of drink at the ready as the elder statesmen of the state of Machauex talked.

“He had come quickly from the island and spook hurriedly and excitedly about the opening of your ancient portal. He said that the air crackled with an unfamiliar energy.” the old horse continued to say. He was stately as he was old. His silver white mane fell long and lose from his neck and head and even appeared to fall about his face human like as he spoke. His red coat, now graying was taking on a mangy texture, neck and shoulders rimming with sweat under the weight of a heavy coat. Despite the heat, he appeared to only shiver. He was the Duc d'Purgoin, Yeiux Rouges, chief of state of Machauex, the Duke of State. “It's been a long time that it was said the day of return would come, and it seems it has. That gate is open.” he spoke in a low voice. A light breeze blew through the grove and the rustling branches let some dappled sunlight hit his face. His eyes, light blue blinked back against the sharp rolling of the light.

“And the whole of parlement has no doubt been called?” asked Baron Clarion.

“The first have no doubt already received their emergency summons. If they weren't already in the city already. My stallion has already told me that the Sieurs of the Island have already taken of themselves to come early. While they're on their way, we do have to set the agenda. They're not going to wait I presume.”

“I'd imagine security is going to be the first concern they'll have. If the ancestors stepped through that gate to here, there is no imagining what or who else might come through.” Clarion said dryly.

“More than that: I heard that already a peasant youth wandered through the portal the night it opened. No one has heard or seen of him sense. The common men of the island are already tense over the gate. If it's not quickly secured they could try to attack it or go through it themselves to find the moron youth.” Yeiux Rouges grumbled, “The State has already been charged for his absence to the value of five silver lievre. It's preposterous and embarrassing, Sieur d'Cain Allegmiene Brioux is going to whip it up at Parlement for sure. I want to make sure it doesn't get out of hand if you can make sure the first motion will be to establish a formal guard at the gate.”

“I'll do better if it effects our standing: I'll order some of my personal retinue and my son take personal charge of the situation. Is there anyone there now?”

“Barely. The local manors don't have much in arms to put towards the grounds. They'd levee a militia, but who knows if they'll just go in on their own to chase the boy down. I really want a mainland retinue.

“And, for your offer: it's gracious. I accept the offer.”

“I'll make the order now.” Clarion announced, and rose from his seat. His joints hurt and he winced at the pain but summoned over a young servant. “Bring us a piece of paper and a pen, we have a quick order to give.”

“Absolutely sire.” the page said, bowing and he dashed off.

“I ask myself if you're even going to pay the humiliation off.” Yeiux said with a dry laugh.

“No it's not our humiliation. Leave it for Allegmiene.”

“It's important we move fast on reeling in the incompetence of the sieurs. They are all drunk on wine and port. To think they once terrorized the mainland. But I see the best of them came to settle here. I should send some of my own.”

“No, don't. Let them think it's a coup of responsibility. They'll be divided before they even arrive.”

“Splendid. What do you think: should the rest of the barons of the city send out men?”

“I would think about the calculus.”

The page returned with a sheet of paper and the writing implements. Clarion took the board and immediately began dashing out a quick order for ten men at arms to be dispatched. “Send this to our son: we're appointing him the commander of this mission.”

“As you wish, you're honor.” the page ran off with the order.

“It's done. This'll manage the immediate fallout.” said Clairon, “So what say you to a drink?”

Yeiux bowed his head, “I would be honored. Your estate has long produced the best orange brandy.”

The baron summoned another servant, asking him to pour them both something to drink and the young man complied, moving to the kegs and pouring out a goblet of dark amber liquid. “I don't think managing simply a short shock though is why we're meeting.” Clarion started up again as the goblets were delivered. Yeiux took up his in a blue glow of magic and playfully swirled the gold cup around, “There are going to be a lot of nobles and freemen who will want to go through.”

“Precisely,” Yeiux said, “And I do want to prevent a mass exodus of our nobility. What is to say that the gate closes on them all as soon as they go through and the realm is cut off from our very best and fortunate. We'd return to civil war. I want to see a plan made when we're all together to manage the expeditions and emigration through. I really do not know what to expect on the other side, and I doubt anyone does. They will plead that they will. All chances the sieurs will insist they do, they've stayed there for that reason.”

“But they do not go through.” Clairon laughed.

“Ha! They're all bastards and cowards anyways.” Yeiux laughed, taking a long drink, “They're going to petition us. I know that. They'll want immediate land claims or something. But I want it more careful. We have to know what that world is like before we do anything with it. It would be insane to proclaim for anyone who goes through with a host even five acres where ever they can find it if whatever destroyed the realm beyond just turned it all into sand. No, the mature option will be to scout it in as full a capacity we can.”

“And what of you?” Clairon asked, referring to the Equestrian races, “Do you think your noble kin will have the same eagerness? Is that world for them?”

Yeiux thought for a moment, holding the cup in his magic just below his mouth. For a time he seemed to have frozen. A silence filled the grove where only the sound of the wind dared announce itself in the trees. Somewhere an orange dropped. The duke of state broke the spell, downing a deep gulp from the cup. “I have thought about that all my life but could never determine an answer.” he admitted sorrowfully. “If I knew I think it would make this easier. I've considered all other possibilities but the thought that the gate would ever open was neigh mythical. A mind game as if preparing to meet Death himself and make a deal to prolong your life. I would not think I would ever in earnest summon demons.”

“So this is the big battle before Parlement?”

“It'd seem so. In all fortune the state will preserve! After all, are the men who live now the same as those who came through the gate?”

Cherbourg

Ville-de-san-Sable


Striding into village the young nobleman walked with a weighted bag at his side. It had been just over a day and by now the contents of the sack had congeeled and the linen bag was stiff and tacky, the fibers sealed through with dried blood. Its contents had to packed with an amalgam of clay and tar coxed from pine trees and boiled for it had begun to putrify and rot early and carried a heavy disgusting smell. It was far less so now, only tolerable, and so long as the bag did not get wet to loosen the congealed filth that sealed it the smell now mostly stayed within the pouch. But followed by his retinue Rodri D'Aquiea walked proud with his shoulders high, confident in having finished his job.

The peasant women who watched him from the porch of the first farm house he passed before the village eyed him with tormenting suspicion, the same as he had received when he first left the village. At their spinning wheels they spun new fibers to sew into their clothes. Their chapped and calloused hands nimbly feeding the strands of fiber into the spool as their legs kicked the spinning wheel into motion. He felt no particular guilt for being the center of their attention and he in fact adored the thought he carried the head of the mystery brigand that had tormented their community for the passed year. Their husbands, deep in the rye fields did not quiet see Rodri with the same suspicion. As they rose from their duty of culling the weeds among the crop to wipe their brow they only regarded the southern prince with disinterest amusement, he certainly wore finer traveling clothes than any of them had seen in the village proper.

Going down the long dirt road the density of the cottages and of their fields picked up. The fields of wheat or barley or rye becoming narrower as they became deeper to reach the stream they butted against. A towering wooden mill soon dominated the sky, surrounded by a grassy common where sheep and cows grazed on the meadow that grew there. A few passerbys stopped and looked at the bag that hung from Rodri's hip, blankly inquisitive before shortly realizing something and becoming shocked and whispered low to each other below Rodri's range of hearing.

The square at the center of the village was not much of a square as it was a dirty place, marked by where two roads met at different levels. At the middle the town center was split by a rock enforced retaining wall for where one road swept the next. At this upper level of town their tallest structure outside the mill stood, the combination of tavern and local magistrate's office. Scattered around it, like wise facing the public square were the various small shops for the local villagers and black smith. This high noon few were disposed to be in the center of town, this day out in the fields or forests to work. A handful of old men all the same sat in the shadow of the covered porch of the tavern, their muddy, wrapped feed spread out in front of them. A particularly thin looking pegasi sat in the window, foorhooves wrapped around a wooden tankard as he watched the southern prince and his entourage enter up the tavern's steps and into the warm shade of its beer bathed belly.

With his boots sounding heavy on the straw hewn tavern floor, Rodri announced himself loudly, “Hail! I, comte-prince Rodri have returned!” he seemed to laugh at his announcement, holding out his arms as if he should be embraced with cheers. But for all his bluster he merely shook the bar mare who was so shocked by his entrance her mane shot up on end and she half dived beneath the bar itself.

“Who the- why is the Gods' names!” she shouted, “The hell do you want you imbecile!”

Rodri, offended stepped forward and prepared to raise his voice, but stopping himself settled, “I'm here to speak to Demiens!” he said, his voice trailing from the explosive rage he had been about to respond with. He ignored it. But he told himself he should see to this creature to be herself run out of the job for showing disrespect.

“You break in here like you're a beggar that picked up a piece of silver and you want an audience with Demiens? Who even are you?” the bar mare scoffed.

“I am Rodri, I have business with the man.”

“The hell you aren't.” she scowled, “This isn't your country. You can't be coming in like that.”

That comment drove his heat up. Flustered he stepped forward reaching for the bag at his hip. He heard something move behind him and saw that the haggard looking pegasi had shuffled from his table and was ready to set on him, “I've found the villain Demiens had a bounty on. I would like to collect!” he demanded, “So you'll step aside and let me see him bar wench.”

The mare twisted up her face in surprise and indignation, “I work strongly nobly here, more so than you, hired sword?”

“What do you want, proof I have it finished?”

“Moron I want you to settle down!”

Grabbing the bag at his belt, he tossed the head of the changeling across the room to the bar. It hit the floor with a hard thud and rolling forward picking up hay and unwrapping itself as it went. A graying ear peeked out as it came to a stop. Horrified the bar mare shot to the back screaming, “You mad man!You want to curse this entire house, this village?” her face was pale and her pupils narrowed as she pawed her hooves against the rear door and slipped into the darkened back room. Peeking out around the corner to scowl at Rodri.

“I have performed the job and I am here to collect!”

“The only thing you'll collect is misfortune! And besides: Demiens is not here! Get out!” she screamed horrified.

Rodri could feel the weight of eyes on him and turned to see that now the windows of the tavern were full of faces looking in, pale in horror or darkened by the sun. Man and equine alike with long face and angry terrified expressions. Instinctively he put a hand on his sword and was ready to fight if he had to. The sickly pegasi had not given up its distance and even rooted itself.

“My lord, we're not going to be able to fight our way out. We should just leave. Forget the coin.” Goldenblood advised. Rodri saw, like the bright flash of the sun rising out over the sea, what had transpired and the heat ran out of his veins and turned to ice.

“I agree, we need to go.” he said flatly, his voice dry and dead. He turned once to look behind him, and headed out the door. No one stopped him, but all watched him. The pegasus followed them briefly from the village.

Gaia

The Crossroads


The youth, who stood perhaps no more than four-foot-five resigned himself to hiding a distance off from the rift in a small crevice formed in the remains of a burnt out tree. All around him tall prairie grass reached for the sky and many more live trees crowded in on the plaza of what had once been a grand temple structure, or a great courtyard for a palace long gone. The youth could only speculate, and at that only so much; his vocabulary for such things being so small. But he huddled there in the tree clutching the handle of his long bone knife between two hands so tense and tight the knuckles were bleached white. For days he hid in numerous little holes, scavenging the mushrooms and herbs he found in the area, and returning be evening to the site of the gate in hopes that someone might come through to rescue him. But none that looked familiar came to him, the magnitude of the portal was incomprehensible. It gave him vertigo when he looked up at it. Its sheer size seemingly to make it top heavy. No matter where he stood in his shadow it looked ready to tip over one way or the other. So he always camped off to its side. There he'd spend his evenings and on into night watching the first tentative explorations of foreign races and creatures come through the might portal. Some immense. Some small. He observed what seemed to be a race of winged gnomes come through, pulled in chariots by what he could best describe as salamanders. But as soon as they came they disappeared into the grass and for a full day he was terrified of going in the grass least he encounter one also out and on that evening he climbed into the branches of the trees and slept and found fruit and rainwater trapped in the knots of the wood.

But in the day that followed the portal seemed to be silent for a time. And he bothered to work up his courage and step down from the tree, weak and smelling of shit to again investigate the ground. He reckoned by day that perhaps no one would come through, because perhaps at day everyone would be in the fields working and would not have the sense to come through. Whether they were his people or not. He figured – without much evidence to the matter – that he only had to be there in the morning or evening to watch anyone come through so he went about the strange world.

But curiously, the world was not much alien to him as the world was at home. He had no trouble relating the things about him in this strange place to things that existed back home. It was much like the old songs about the fields of barley and streams of milk and ponds of honey. But of course, it was much unlike those songs. For once: he never found a single stream of honey, or a pond of honey. But many of the grasses he knew to be of barley and wheat, or like barley and wheat. So much so he had no little fear to dig a hole and with some management set some water collected into makeshift bowl of leaves and rocks boil some to make as a crude mash to stave off the worst of the hunger. He could as well find berries much like those he knew at home and to eat them, and being close enough – he figured – live. There were rabbits and birds alike in the wilderness and he worked out ways that he might catch one for some meat, though he never did; but the idea was tantalizing, because here there were no lords and magistrates to tell him he could not and to flog him for poaching a sieur's game. This world was full of an abundant freedom and wealth and he was contented with that until he remembered the warmth of home and wanted to go back, and he observed the strange aliens that came through the great gate at a trickle.

It was in one of these adventures for food that while fishing at a stream a great shadow blotted out the sun and obscured the sky and he was harried into terror when he looked up to see sailing the air a sky bound ship trailing long streamers and banners. The sight was monstrous and froze his blood. He felt his skin go pale and death-like and he went fleeing into the brush least some unseen eye gaze on him and think he was as tasty a meal as the fish he had been spearing for in the brook. The sight of the sky-bound ship, that terrifying hawk of the clouds put the final fear of the Goddess into him and he learned that no, it did not matter what time it was: anything was coming through that gate and perhaps some men from the estate would be back to find him. And it was then that he exiled himself to the bosom of the burned tree among the buck thorns and stone-hard mushrooms clutching his knife at all times, because even going out he feared that from the sky some new great terrible eagle would snatch him in any one of its dozen talons and carry him off and he best be able to force them open by cutting a few fingers off.

And that is what he, Emiens the Lost Youth had been up to in the old world.
China

Shanghai


At late-afternoon, the Dark Pearl club was hardly a busy place. With the lights in fact on, and the stage cleared it was hardly the night club it would be later in the night. Many of the expensive drinks on offer found themselves hidden behind curtains. The air was heavy with the smell of lunch than the cheap alcohol of late night. At mid-day, the function of the club was much more like that of a noodle house. Tucked down an alley down side streets branching off Pushan Road, across the Pengyu Pu it was more a gathering spot for those in the know. By day the clientele were local workers on the trolleys, or the textile workers finding time to step out of their apartments for cheap noodles and a break from the looms. Cigarette smoke interwove itself with the smell of spice and broth, the slap of lips with light conversation. The brushing of sandals and tennis shoes on the concrete floor marking the coming and going of the mid-day patrons.

Standing at the bar, Hou Tsun ate his late lunch. He leaned arm against the gummy wood, leveraging long wet white noodles into his mouth with one hand, and holding up a newspaper with another. With half-hearted interest he searched the pages, reading the headlines and half the content of the articles. He read about fighting in India, sudden opportunistic pushes by Japan in Indonesia to take advantage of British struggles in India. But in the end none of it coming to any decisive shift. It was all delegated to the middle of the papers.

Bored, he turned the pages and began to search with much more interest the classifieds. He read with much heavier interest the calls for warehousing workers for the ports and the railroads, comparing the rates of pay and hours posted: forty hours a week, part time; sixty hours a week full time and so on. Shop keepers in Changning and Putuo looking for someone to work ten hours a week to perform regular paper work. Calls for house keepers for across the Bund. A new law office had opened and was searching for junior associates. A doctor's office in search of nurses. The factories on Chongming were always looking, posting union affiliated positions. He considered his possibilities, weighing them out, and what he might be able to get away with.

“Enjoying yourself?” a voice asked. Tsun looked away from his paper to see a large burly figure walk over. He recognized the balding bouncer of the club, a thick dark skinned migrant from Hainan. “I'm doing find, Chiaw De.” Tsun said, “what about you?”

“Sore, from last night. There was quiet the fight. Why weren't you there?”

“I was tired.” Tsun turned away for a moment to slurp up some noodles, “Besides, I'm between work.” he added nonchalantly.

“Oh, did you turn away from the warehouse?”

“More like they turned away from me.” he said, laughing, “I guess they finally realized who I'm related to.”

“That's a shame.” De laughed, lightly punching his shoulder, “There's plenty of jobs open right now anyways. At least from what I heard.”

“Mhmm...” Tsun responded, his interest detached as he searched the job offerings more intensely. “That's what they say.” he added, although he did not believe he could believe it. There were posts everywhere but none of them all that good. Compared to his last job, he would have to take a knock of several thousand yuan off his pay, and realized he'd have to go through another chain of gang bosses to get hired, it was always the unspoken factor. There were enough prospects, but they were demoralizing in their breadth and number. He felt his gut sink, and thought about leaving the city. Perhaps he would go home to Tianjin, or head overseas; there was always opportunity in the tongs of Malaysia.

“If it helps, I know guys in the unions. I can put a good word in.” Chiaw De consoled.

“Thanks.” said Tsun.

“I'm sure perhaps they would be excited to have a more direct line to the Party President.” he laughed.

“No, I don't want to be held up to him. I'm trying it on my own.” Tsun knew it would be easy to get anywhere by dropping his dad's name in the right place. But it was just easier to never name him. He'd give his name as Tsun David before Hou Tsun. It felt dirty, otherwise.

“It's hard work to find hard work, I get it. You probably don't want to really fight half the guys you got to.”

“How could you tell?”

“Your face is all tense, twisted. I know none of them are really good. For a peasant out of the country: sure. But I know you: you've been here too long. None of them are the golden goose.”

“You got that right,” Tsun laughed, “Perhaps I should have just stayed in the north.”

“There's going to be shows here this weekend though, I'd expect you to be on the lists. But you're not: I take it you don't need the money right now?”

“No, my dad's in town this weekend and I'm going to see him.”

“Oh yes, I know now.”

“Next weekend, perhaps. I'm working new material.”

“Oh good.” De smiled, but he was summoned by someone down the bar and he left Tsun to stew for a bit. He finished the classifieds and gave a dissatisfied snort, thinking he would go back over them later and stuck it in the back of his jeans. He turned to his noodles again, and began to think about the limbo he was in. He had enough money saved up for a month or two – so De was right: he didn't need money explicitly, there was no emergency, and if it came to it he could write home and borrow some for a third. But it still made him feel cut off and precarious. The thought made him feel uneasy.

But as quick as De had left to work some other customer, and no sooner he had turned back to his noodles a presence move up alongside, touching Tsun on his shoulder. He felt suddenly cold and spooked, turning on his heels to see who it was. Next to him at the counter came a sinewy man, his short cut hair laid low across his head with grease giving him a sharkish face. He smiled wide at Tsun behind large wide framed glasses. “Good afternoon, David Tsun I'm to presume?” he asked in a friendly cool voice.

“Yes.” he answered, looking the man up and down. Seeing his nice shoes on his feet, the well pressed cropped pants and the way he tucked in his crisp shirt. He stood with the poise of a well kept professional, and his appearance in a place like this struck Tsun's curiosity. A man such as this should be at the Bund, not the hide away of neighborhood spinners, weavers, and trolley workers. In his nature, he could only inspire suspicion here.

“Nice to meet you,” the well-dressed man said, holding out his hand to take a hand shake. Hou Tsun paused in accepting the offer, nervously raising his own in response. Though his new bar partner was clearly Chinese, he behaved in a very American fashion. He had an unreserved loudness associated with American tourists. The sort who might linger in a club when they learn a man named “David” was on the roster and wanted to see what the occasion was. “I couldn't help over hear your conversation earlier.” he said with unbroken stride, “I'm sorry if that's rude. But it's quite hard not to do. Anyways, you're looking for work? You are between jobs?”

Tsun thought for a moment, and then saying with a slow nod, “Yes. I guess.”

“Oh, excellent. Listen, I represent talent – by the way by name is Liao Han, Liao Charlie Han I'm sorry I didn't say so before – but I represent talent on the South Side. I've caught a few of your acts, and I would like to introduce you to my boss.”

“South? That's not music though, why would you think I would want to go to the South Side. If you're looking for a musician I should be crossing the Bund.”

The man laughed, “I know, but what's not to say you'll cross the Bund after this. I'm just looking for men with good and intriguing looks, and you got that and talent to go with it. My boss might be able to work with that. He's looking to expand his family after all.”

Tsun took on a few more noodles, and thought. The offer was intriguing, but very sudden. Taken by the surprise he wasn't hesitant to answer. But: south-side, the film studios? What might they want with them. He always figured they haunted the theaters and photographic journals looking for models. “So, you mean: movies?” he asked.

“Yes, sorry. I didn't quiet explain the project: yes I'm looking for people to be in a movie. Our family you see is, well, not quiet to scope for it. We're looking for someones to fill a few bits here and there. Upwards of a hundred fifty thousand yuan for the season, perhaps. It depends on how things work themselves out.”

“So...” Tsun paused, “an audition?”

Liao nodded, “Beginning this weekend.”

“I'm sorry, I have obligations this weekend.”

“It's not that big of a deal, really. They'll be going for the next few months as we look for people. Come by any time.” he reached into his breast pocket and produced a stiff business card. Tsun took it. “Liao Han – assistant talent director. Team Guo Yue-Huang. Pudong, Shanghai. 200051 Qiantan Blvd.”

“Guo Yue-Huang?”

“Are you familiar?”

“I've seen a few of his movies.”

“Oh yes, what are your favorites?”

“I'm not much of a fan for the wizards and sages and magic shit,” Tsun said, laughing uncomfortably, “But I figure The Darkest House was alright.”

“He is I believe going to be a pioneer in Chinese film making.” Liao Han said with a smile, shining his nails on his shirt, “By the way, my number is on the back. But: I do believe he is a pioneer. He's eclectic, sure, and doesn't have quiet the capital as some others do especially those in Hong Kong, but he hit upon a script that we're all excited about. This is going to be our break. And you would be lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of this if you are accepted. And for hundred-fifty: not a bad bet even if it doesn't go north.”

“What'd happen if it does?”

“Honorable Yue-Huang has a habit of seeing success bonuses are handed out to all in the family.” Han smiled.

“Well, it is not like I have much going on.” Tsun said, pocketing the card, “I'll see when I can make it.”

“Excellent!” Liao Han cheered, clapping his hand on the bar. His cheer attracted the subdued surprise and scorn of the patrons, “Auditions however will be ending by the middle of next month. So don't wait too long, your coming weekend obligations aside. I would be incredibly upset if you did not show.” he smiled, peeling away from the counter and checking his watch, “But I must go now. I hope to see you again.”

“Well why don't you look at that, a job came to you.” De said, returning, “Are you going to take it?”

“I might. I have a few weeks to think about it.”

“I think you should, it'd suit you. What can you lose?”

Nanjing


Draped in dark wood trappings and muted blue wall paper, the president's office was as executive suite was. It was trimmed up with the trappings of state, bunted along the ceiling with the rich blue flag of the Republic and the unofficial Flag of the Five Races. Portraits of Sun Yat-Sen, Yuan Shikai, Chiang Kai-Shek, as well as the other leading heads of state in those moments between and since hung from the wall. The room was dominated at one end by a large teak desk, raised off the floor by a miniature platform, its chair stood higher. The wall behind was dominated by large French windows, bordered by rich blue curtains. It was raining today, rain pelted the windows, shimmering with the light thrown by street lamps and the office lights. Li Su sat reclined at the desk chair, pushing himself back and forth with a leg, hands were clasped over his chest, a dour and detached look on his face. Behind him there was set up a wooden easel and portfolio brief. His desk had been cleared of paperwork and it was organized into folders and books arrayed at the edge of the desk or hidden in the number of cavernous drawers within it. State ministers were coming in now, taking comfortable positions at the plush dark leather sofas and armchairs that filled the middle of the room. Around the edges between cabinets of the president's personal effects and war memorabilia sat smaller cafe style tables where others sat in high bar-styled stools. TV Soong stood by the side of the room, next to a door through which was a personal room that Su had set aside for martial arts and meditation. The vice president himself was speaking to the foreign ambassador from Burma, a squat round headed man from Rangoon by the name of Sein Bien.

The room filled with the chatter and Li Su prepared himself for it to begin. He watched the door as the last of them arrived, most of all importance the British ambassador, Edward. Li Su greeted his arrival privately with bottled annoyance but relief. He carried a brief case under his arm to an armchair which was hurriedly abandoned for him to use. The door was closed behind him by security. Taking his seat he said nervously, “Sorry for the late arrival, Mr President, but I was caught up in traffic.”

“Would you like some tea?” the president asked.

“Oh, yes please.” Edward said, a little absently, “Thank you.”

Li Su gave a hand signal. A man in the corner of the room rose to his feet and rushed out the tall wood doors to fetch the order. “While we wait: we should begin.” the president said in a low tone, “Mr Soong, could you open us?”

“My pleasure.” he said, stepping into the middle of the room, “We're here today to open preliminary discussions over the partial reopening of, and expansion of the Burmese Road. In case none here are aware, the road was opened in the course of our war with Japan to allow the resupply of our forces by the British from India into South-west China. Since then, much of the original course has fallen into ruin and faded from use. Pertaining to the still ongoing conflict with the Japanese, it was determined by Xiu Lu and Ambassador Edward Grensill to be a subject of economic and strategic importance for the mutual survival of the economies of either of our nations. We seek to, through ambassador U Sein Bien determine the best possible course of action as it applies to his nation of Burma as much as it is an act of committed economic and political partnership with the British and the Federation.”

“Let me also add,” Li Su said loudly from his platform over his vice president, “That the completion of this project would allow and alternative route that would skirt around the naval battlefield of South East Asia and the South West Pacific in the Japanese persecution of war against the English and the Dutch. Though submarine attacks on civilian vessels are few and far between there have been moments where vessels under the flag of the British and Dutch were sunk by Japanese patrols. To date, only one other neutral ship has been torpedoed, that being a cargo freighter under the French flag. While I still commit to China a policy of neutrality in this conflict, with a commitment of only self defense should we be attacked, I can not and will not permit putting Chinese property, capital, and lives in danger casually. It benefits the Chinese state to continue free trade with her allies, and I take the threat of Japanese patrols against neutral ships very seriously. Since being informed by Xiu Lu of this plan, I feel that it would be a useful allocation of Chinese – and British – resources to blaze a new path for the resupply of her overseas friends. A clear and speedy path through Burma, clear of any conflict, would be the safest course to make.

“Today we are merely drafting the presidential proposal to submit to congress. But we have here with us the president of the Congress, Xiaogang Wen who has himself a proposal from the Congressional Developmeent Committee. But in the tradition of hospitality we have two guests among us today. I will let Ambassador Bien and Ambassador Grensil go first. Mr. Bien, do you mind?”

Sein Bien smiled politely and fidgeted with the sleeves of his jacket. He wore a olive green military dress uniform, decorated with his ribbons and his rank. “Thank you Mr President.” he responded deferentially, “It would be my honor. But, I would rather cede my turn to Mr Grensil, thank you.”

Li Su nodded and turned to Edward Grensil who cleared his throat, and rose gently. “Thank you, Mr Bien.” he said with a polite bow, “Now, Mr President, if I may present the plan from the Foreign Office?” he asked, pulling out from his briefcase a map of Burma, on which the British plans were drawn. Li Su leaned up over the desk and took them, before putting them on the easel to be viewed.

The map was revealed to the room as it was set up. Two red lines intersected over Burma, completing the image of the country as a kite. “My government believes the most capable action is to entirely restore, and expand the old Burma road from Leto to Wanming, and to run a new line from the middle at Myitkyina south towards Rangoon, following the course of the Irrawaddy valley. The government in London would be willing to pay for the reconstruction of the India side of the project, and up to one-third of the north-south corridor with state funds.

“The reason the Foreign Office believes that it would of an advantage to also restore the Indian side of the road is for the relief of British private parties from India. Those of the civilian sort for evacuation from the sub-continent. It would not need to be a path laid with rail or entirely refurbished for long term modern usage, as its goal is to be a relief valve from the Indian conflict zone. In any time of peace to come, the route may be upgraded for commercial use from India to China or to Rangoon. The Federation undersecretary is sensitive of the regional diplomatic situation, but urges this to be a promise of the near future.”

“If I may,” Ambassador Bien interjected, “The British proposal is similar to our own. Though our government had not made any thoughts to expand anything all of the way into India. May I?”

Li Su nooded, and U Sein Bien came forward, producing his own map of the country with his own people's plans. It was placed over the British plan. “With a mind towards the advantage of following the Irrawaddy,” Sein began, stepping aside to reveal his map of Burma, “We can construct a powerful trunk for commerce to flow from China in the north to Rangoon in the South. The republic which I represent also offers the chance to expand the plan, and to ask to commission the refitting and modernization of old British railways in the area to serve as branch-lines to what the Internal Development Ministry dubbed the Irrawaddy Main Line.” he held out his hand to draw attention to the map of Burma. Branching off from the heavy red line that snaked gently through the city of Myitkyina in the north from the mountain border with China, along the course of the Irrawady to Rangoon in the south, a half dozen of smaller rail roads branched off into the highlands of the country's frontiers, “For several years the government has talked about and considered development of the nation's upper regions for development of capital extraction in the highlands which has been thus far stymied by the lack of commercial development, and the rapidly deteriorating Anglo development of the country. Since our independence, we have not been able to keep up, and through our recent civil wars it has been impossible to keep it all. But now under cease fire, we believe we have the opportunity to request foreign investment to expand and revive the old commercial networks to build a robust, centralized economic corridor through the country that may buy us peace in the future.”

Seeming to rise unnoticed from the sofa in the middle of the room to borrow some attention, Xiaogang Wen spoke, taking a moment to adjust his glasses higher up his broad nose. “I'm sorry, Mr President: but if I may?” he asked, half rising from the seat with a pale hand raised in the air. Li Su addressed him with a soft nod and the speaker for Congress spoke: “I'm happy to see that so far our two guests have had the same core idea as the Development Committee's proposal, independent of one another. This makes things easy. But for the sake of completion can I simply present our own?”

“Go ahead.” the president said.

“Very well, thank you.” Wen said. He motioned to the corner of the room where a congressional aid stepped forward, and placing over the previous two plans added a much simpler plan over all. Following much of the old supply road from the war, the simple core of a main rail road headed south, following generally the Irrawaddy valley to Rangoon existed. There was no other pleasantries. “The proposal of the committee was to take the purest aspect of the proposal to heart. Simply, if the project is to allow for commercial trade with Britain and their allies easier and to avoid the bulk of Japanese activities, then it is a direct route to Rangoon that recycles much of the old war-time supply route. The advantages will of course be that the plan would save considerable money, reusing much of the existing railway stocks left over. If I am correct on that.” he stopped to look at Sein Bien for confirmation.

“Yes, you're correct.” the ambassador confirmed.

“I can say in full confidence this is more or less the plan that this office has come up with as well.” TV Soong confirmed dryly, referring to the presidency and its ministries, “So I don't see any reason to bring up our own plan. Do you agree, Mr President.”

“I agree, let's keep things efficient.” said Li Su, “Mr Xiaogang I think we agree entirely in principle and goal. I'll concede our plan to yours. Their one of the same.”

“Thank you Mr President.”

“So we have the courses we can take. But what has to be said now is what is the better course. Edward, you offered capital investment from the British for the project, what would you government offer were we to drop the Ledo route?”

“If I recall it'd only be a twenty-five percent capital offer. We appraised our plan at roughly four-million pounds given the condition of the environment that we can ascertain at short notice. We would be able to find and allocate over a million pounds towards construction of this route.”

Li Su stole a glance to TV Soong at his side. The vice president was however motionless and hard to read, “You are certain that the British offer would not spill the war out into the general region?” he asked.

“I am certain. I do not believe that I am in any position to discuss any military plans with anyone in regards to Ledo. I have been told to say that there is a project underway to discuss with the rebel armies in India measures to protect civilians. A route out of India through Burma and beyond would make for a safer and structured way from India.”

“Pray tell: what do the British plan to do with the refugees already in Burma?” the Burmese ambassador asserted, “Every day thousands more cross the border from Bengal into out countryside. Will you help up remove them to your territory, or the Federation in general under this proposal?”

“Well, I'm afraid this would depend on where these refugees are at.” Edward responded rather nervously, “I am again only under the ability to present the Ledo plan. If there's any intention to expand anything else, it's between you and the Chinese.”

“Whatever the British might offer, I am authorized to announced Rangoon would be willing to find loans for a million or more as well to simply expand the network. If it is necessary, I can contact my superiors for a change of plan to accommodate. You, Mr President sir won't have to see the network reach to India. But probably we can have it make it half way into the Kachin or Naga Hills.”

“Are you going to recommend the two of us negotiate further on this?” Edward asked, a stunned shock peaked in his voice which was not unmet by Bien.

“Yes. Does the Foreign Office not want to recognize the fault it has in forcing so many Bengali Kala into our borders?”

“Mr Bien, sir.” TV Soong spoke up, “We will not be litigating the ongoing crises in India here.” Li Su nodded, “If I can direct you to the point: the proposed railroad.”

Bien smiled, and sighing turned away from Edward and bowed, “I'm sorry.”

“Mr Ambassador Bien,” Xiogang Wen said, reclining back in his sofa, “If I may ask – and could we perhaps look at the Burmese plan please, Mr President” Li Su leaned over and removed the simple Congressional plan to show the Burmese proposal for the road, “Thank you – but if I can ask what the purpose is of the branches spun off from the main line is?”

“Simply put, our government would like to lay new or upgraded lines to our most promising regions in upper Burma. The region is marked for its under-development but possess considerable promise in the nation as being resource rich if only we can deploy labor and bring materials to market.” sighing he looked momentarily to Edward and back up to Li Su, “Access to these raw deposits would be available to British and Chinese firms alike were it permitted to reach market. But trapped as they are underground and in inaccessible hills and valleys, the vast fortunes of wealth stored there, wealth that can build a nation, remain out of reached. The Kachin Hills are rich in storied supplies of jade. Shan State has been prospected and developed for the extraction of further metals, but the government now can not simply acquire these materials in recent years for lack of infrastructure. For lack of development, the prospect of development there holds the country back. We can not develop in peace if we do not first gain access and logistics for these commodities. I trust you understand this, Mr. President, Mr Xiogang and Soong.”

“May I ask what contributions the government is willing to make?” Soong asked Bien.

“We will need to apply for loans. But we believe we can get some million or more to offer. If it's possible, perhaps some other financing can be allocated.”

“What about the conditions of your ceasefires?” the President asked, leaning in.

“It has been a year at the least of no sustained engagement.” Bien Sein said, “But our government is responsible for further development of the affected state were this to be a true peace.”

Edward spoke up, shifting in his seat, “If you do not mind me asking where do these branch lines go?”

“At the furthest south is a line that has been proposed to Sittwe, which would come from Rangoon. Further north is a proposed branch from Katha to Lashio, it perhaps even be an alternative route into Burma from China, with a future extension from Lashio into China.”

“Into Kunming, I believe.” Xiogang Wen added, he idly scratched at his chin, but his eyes were bright with attention none the less. From the corner of his eye, Li Su caught Soong look up at him and then away.

“On pure speculation on the mineral deposits – and this speaks to Edward's interests in development in the direction of Ledo – is expansion of the rail to the upper Chindwin river valley. Here commercial and industrial freight would create a beach head into the upper jade country. The government would also like a spur from Mandalay to Kalay on the western frontier with India.”

There was a period of silence and thought, broken by Wen asking, “What is the supposed value of the material in these regions?”

“It could be worth billions on a long enough time line.” said Bien Sein.

“Billions that can only be access once development can be done.” TV Soong said, “Suppose there is nothing there, then what?”

“These branch lines don't need to be intensive. All the government is asking for is the logistics to deploy equipment and technicians into these regions to do the exploration. They may even come after the main project.”

TV Soong considered it for a moment, and then rose. “Mr President, if we can talk for a minute in private.

Li Su looked over and nodded. “Let's have a break for a couple minutes.” he said, following Soong through the side door.

Su's private training room was sparse, decorated with a few hanging scrolls of the antique and even modern sort. A bamboo mat covered the floor, with training dummies abound. A single chair was placed by the window. In all it was a small room, serving mostly as a liminal space between private apartments and the working and ceremonial office of the president.

“Are you thinking it might be used for them to deploy their own troops?” Li Su asked, thinking about the Burma railroads

TV Soong was silent for a few long seconds, “Possibly.” he said quietly, “The value in the region feels inflated though.”

“But he could be right on that.”

“He could.”

“If these projects were financed however it would be impossible for us to keep them from being used for military purposes. It is their infrastructure.” Li Su pointed out.

“I agree. But suppose we offered our own technical assistance in that front. We can hold our skills against them in the event of the war. But I don't want to put us on the financial hook for a speculative failure at the least.”

“So, what do you have in mind, money man?”

Again falling into silence, Soong considered his options, “Xiogang Wen might approve of this: but we put up the Chinese support as stock supported. If we go in and it passes congress we sell most of our commitment as futures and organize it in bonds and stocks supported on the value the project accumulates over a five and ten year period. After that period, the holdings are valued at the commercial value of the road and they can sell, or the company joined to it can pay dividends on it. We do a pretty basic public ownership model that way. We put down some state money ourselves to start it. From Bien Sein's model we can adopt the British position and have a bulk of the project paid for. Aside from any emergency funds, our government's stake is minimal.”

Li Su considered it, and nodded, “I can keep it closer if I buy as much as I can in my son's name.”

“Classic.” Soong smirked.

“Quiet, we're agreed?”

“Agreed.”

“So we might have gotten everyone in. Let's go.”

Turning on their heels the two re-entered the room. Immediately low chatter ended as the two came in and the president took his seat, “We have some questions over financing...”
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Name:
Pertochova

Government:
Constitutionally – A Republic
Officially – Fascist dictatorship

Territory:
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History:
As a nation, Pertochova has a long history. One of the oldest single entities in the region, stretching back to before the 6th century. For millennia it was ruled by its humble princes and a central monarchy. While at times integrated into other kingdoms per the unions of different monarchs, it remained more a distinct entity in the regional politics than its peers, standing out as almost a sacred and blessed region to many in the area. The ecclesiastical and cultural blessing people believed to have in the region seemed to bear fruit as the Pertochovian kingdom was the first to blaze new ground overseas to become the first major maritime power and to establishment a broad network of overseas trading posts and colonies in foreign lands. These colonies brought to the mainland prestige and wealth through the flow of rich spices, luxuries, and gold. However the vast colonial wealth of Pertochova proved to be a boulder tied to its ankles.

As history progressed and others entered into colonial ambition they were able to leapfrog off of the gains made by Pertochovian merchants and nobles in establishing colonial markets. The colonial competitions that raged became a game where by accident Pertochovian colonial adventures were cut off ahead of them. The horizon of new markets closed in and early colonial advancement became smaller and smaller as the world filled in around them. An era of stagnation ensued.

This did not mean the realm was any poorer for it, and in fact the gentry and flowering bourgeoisie of the kingdom retained high rates of wealth and prestige. But neither class really ever chose to reinvest it in the home country. Instead, in reaction to closing boundaries the new colonial aristocracy living at home in the capital of Lelbella or the other large cities of Cealia or Goi cycled their profits through the colonies instead to raise new money. The excess profits came back home to only enlarge the splendid palaces of the nobility and merchants alike. Culture bloomed as a Renaissance flowered, but only surface level. As the colonies themselves grew in wealth and development and their managerial families chose to leave the growing ancien melancholy of the homeland for the vibrant new life of over seas the strongest colonies under Pertochovian control rebelled and obtained independence. Thus, forcing the loyal crown merchants to turn their developmental investment to the poorer colonies to make up for lost income and a bid to maintain some level of prestige. A golden bull period of power that last barely a generation and a half came to a declining end and the sun began to set on Pertochova.

Through the 19th century and especially to the end some half hearted attempts were made to try and modernize the state and infrastructure, but this all lead up to resistance with the ancient hereditary powers and property rights of the old state and church. Ambitious railroad projects that would have helped reinforce the industry of the state were arrested in lengthy negotiations and easement rights with all numbers of counts and dukes littering the country, as well as the otherwise rough and rocky interior of the country. All of this frustrated the infant intelligentsia in the capital and large cities, who were frustrated that all their efforts to come into the royal court were being scuttled by what they thought was the ego of a backwards and reactionary elite whose only claim to historical wealth was little more than fields of wheat, barley, and goats.

Tensions between the groups came to a head when just before the Great War a coup was orchestrated in the cabinet on behalf of the traditional nobility against the liberal intelligentsia that had for decades managed either a dominance or a majority of the presence in the royal court. Enraged at the legal coup that had manifested beneath them, the old liberals of the court mustered their supporters and launched a counter-coup that soon devolved into revolution. The narrow cordons and streets of the capital rang with “Freedom! Equality! Liberty!” as the Great War unfolded throughout Uriya. The act of revolution kept the nascent state out of the war for the most part, and the geographical position of the kingdom meant that it only played a side show in the greater conflict. The monarchy was fully abolished by 1910 and a provisional government ruled until 1911 while a constitution was drafted. All the while the provinces played against each other through the course of legal limbo the nation was in and there were a cycle of many low-level civil wars and disputes between the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary power bases. When the Constitution was finally organized and passed – with much dispute – elections were held and in spring 1912 a liberal government was formed. Later that year the new liberal government declared their allegiance with the liberal manifested Central Concordat.

However, despite the declaration and the nation set onto the war path, The Republic of Pertochova was incapable of feasibly mobilizing their troops to the front. Since the revolution, the Navy was largely in tatters having fought its self in the course of the revolution. Further complicating matters the navy itself had been deployed to the colonies with contingents of troops to settle colonial conflicts that started in part because of the Revolution and the disruption of a series of tenuous and delicate colonial agreements the monarchy had made. The internal roads of the country were poorly maintained, and there was little to no civil rail infrastructure left out of the country because of the revolution. Despite the declarations, the Republic could do little more than offer tenuous support to their allies and a few hundred men were sent in what was little more than an observation corp.

In the colonies, the bulk of the armed forces slogged it out with rebel armies in complicated battles and wars within wars in the jungles, highlands, and deserts of the remaining colonial possessions. The Guerro Overmar as it became known was in its full opening swings and would be a permanent fixture in all political dealings to come.

The liberal government was itself not without threat at home and barely half way into its first full term an alliance of conservatives and reactionaries would plan and carry out a legal coup of their own, rolling out a vote of no-confidence in the government and impeachment after orchestrating a series of moves to force the resignation of liberal congressmen and ministers triggering a series of snap elections. The position of the Conservative Coalition was that joining the war put the nation too close to peril, despite no real threat having been made. Despite this reality the conservative papers published long lists and stories of daring hostile attacks on vital pieces of national infrastructure. They contended that one of the only three railroads out of the country had been sabotaged by both hostile and Concordat partisans when in reality the railroad had just been poorly maintained since the Revolution and the bridge out of country had merely collapsed of its own poor maintenance. Stories of spies and subterfuge abounded in the cities and Anarchist cells presided in all mansions of the liberal elite. They eroded the foundation of the liberal republic, who lacking resources, funds, and manpower was unable to resist and found itself entirely impeached by 1914. The incoming conservative government formally changed the diplomatic stance of the nation to a neutral participant and paid a five million peso parting sum to the Concordat powers as a token gesture of good will.

Behind the scenes the government began to work secretly with the Iron Pact. A series of biparty trade deals were signed with Iron Pact nations to offshore their manufacturing to Pertochovia and Iron Pact agents were even sheltered from Concordat agents, who were ruthlessly expelled. The Conservative Coalition also passed sweeping secular laws, reinstating temple authority and effectively re-granting semi-feudal privileged to the priests. In response to the still ongoing Guerro Overmar more resources were committed to the colonial war-effort and the state purchased many outdated warships from the Iron Pact on credit to reinforce the state's navy.

However as the war wound down the Republic did not find itself in any better a position and in-fact it got worse. As the war ended the factories the country had courted were closed and emptied and the workforces laid off. Wages plummeted and food prices sky-rocketed. The old Liberal Coalition, incapable to coming back since their removal from government thus attached themselves to the trade unionist movement and encouraged a socialist revolution in the hopes of returning to power. Mobilized by a laundry list of grievances – often conflicting – a general strike was declared in the capital of Lelbella in the hopes of strangling the government of prestige and seizing the offices of government by force. However the uprising was poorly coordinated and when the liberal leadership stepped ahead of the red banners to enter the parliament and presidential mansion to declare the high rights of “Private property, free trade, and tradition” over “Free land, bread, and peace” the revolutionary attempt came violently crashing down outright as the two factions brutally fought each other for power.

The government, having retreated to the countryside was able to mobilize its own support base of the officer corp and raised a new army from the peasant militias who feared that the secular forces of the liberal party would damn the nation to atheism and they mobilized on the capital and carried out a brutal crackdown. Ironically, a faction of the liberal powers – the High Liberals – joined with the conservative forces that marched on the capital – The Black Legion – and went to war against the trade unionist forces they had themselves mobilized to try and seize power.

In the following reprisal, three hundred people were killed over three days of violence and in the period of two weeks eighteen hundred more were killed in the provinces under condemnation of being “communists, anarchists, and non-conformists”. From the ranks of the Black Legion, a former army officer and professor from the Lelbella University of Saint Balthazar was elevated to the title of president of the Republic by a vote of confidence of the entire army. His name: Olivereio Antonio Carmona de Contantido or Oliver Contantido.

Oliver Contantido, who had a mildly respectable career in the army as a colonel, before leaving to study economics and faith at the University of Lelbella was considered a man of bright virtue of shining intelligence. During the conservative government he had held three ministerial posts, The Ministries of Finance, Development, and the Maritimes from which he had built a reputation as being a bright economist. To the Black Alliance he was considered affable, intelligent, and a reasonable figure of pragmatic and level-headed thought much unlike the red and yellow radicals. And with the authority of the confidence bestowed in him he moved swiftly to resolve the situation.

First and foremost he illegalized all independent union activity. From the day of his appointment he and his party declared a state of emergency across the nation, a rule of which being that all trade unions were to be absorbed into the Ministry of Industry and the Gendarmerie with unilateral powers to try and sentence any radical who might possibly threaten the stability of the state. This gave free reign to the national police to effectively liquidate all unionists to such a scale the right to trial was dissolved.

Further, the right of property was declared important, and that also company of landowners should themselves be involved in any union activity with right to veto in decision making.

The overseas possessions were confirmed by Oliver Contantido who declared that Pertochova was a multi-continental realm, that all territories within the traditional boundaries and outside of it answered directly to the government in Lelbella who reserved the right to veto any nominations of governors or even appoint their own.

In years following the governing principle would be ennumerated and better defined, transforming from a series of isolated decrees rubber stamped by congress into a full system of government. Although the old Constitution was never formally abolished, it was merely shelved behind the defensive state structure the Contantido government declared as A Sociedo Nuevo; the New Society.

Further rights were amended or abolished under the emergency powers of the New Society, from the abolition of independent parties and all new parties who sought participation in elections needing to be approved by a Congressional Electoral Security Commission, the censorship of the press, and even the outright end to colonial elections of overseas governors; all governments overseas were to be appointed by the government at home and from within the nation.

Regime power was expanded, multi-racial marriages banned. Separation of races. Internal travel visas for colonial subjects. Existing state monopolies were sold, but privately only to regime allies and members of the government, and life-time government positions. Pertochova political society was restricted and shrank until only the Partido av Sociedo Nuevo remained, and who among them held any kind of power was effectively by appointment. Free press collapsed, except ironically in the capital where the support of the government was so strong that opposition press was untenable.

The Gendarmerie grew from simple union policing to being in effect the secret police for the whole country. Though officially the powers and abilities of the two were separate, there was considerable overlap between the two and agents of either often sharing badges for both.

Pressing Issues:
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Economy:
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Foreign Relations:
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Sure why not
My neighbor pulled the emergency break on the train before the train reached the Gar de Lyon because she passed the apartment.
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