Task Force Emissary
(OoC: OK, so following on from this thread (http://forums.jolt.co.uk/showthread.php?t=560642) we have the actual diplomatic visits. Now, after careful consideration and discovering who's still interested, I've decided that the visits will be carried out in the following order:
The Borderlands of Greywatch
The Emirate of Sultenia
The Island Empire of Pan-Arab Barronia
Obviously those who were interested but haven't let me know they still are can drop me a TG or something and I'll add them in. And anyone else interested in being added to the tour, drop me a TG and we'll talk about it.)
Task Force Emissary
"The Borderlands of Greywatch is located here." The seaman tapped a metal pointer against a map of the world, "They're landlocked, which makes things a little more tricky as far as getting you and your entourage in goes. Due to constraints passing through airspace of nations not involved in our tour, you'll be without a fighter escort once you cross in to their airspace, although the fighters will remain on station at the border in case something goes wrong. We have a helicopter currently being prepared, launch is scheduled for 0930 tomorrow. We're currently finalising the arrangements with Greylands and don't envision any delays to the schedule."
Prime Minister Lawson didn't look too enthralled with the following brief on safety, local laws and so forth. All he cared about was getting down to the nitty-gritty of hammering out the form of friendly relations.
Coded Message to Greywatch Council
This is the LNS Stockmoor of the Laceenian Navy requesting details of preferred landing site for diplomatic package.
OOC: As an FYI, my map is here (http://i213.photobucket.com/albums/cc61/LordBelacqua/NationStates/Imperial%20Barronia/Maps/MapUp.png). Your port of call will liably be Southampton, or Gibraltarik.
From: Greywatch Council
To: LNS Stockmoor
We see you on satillite and according to our maps you will come in from the south. You should land at the Hydra's Bastion airforce base. It's the most secure location in the area and should provide better directions and support than a local airport. Whenever you are ready, tell us. We await your arrival.
0915h, Flight deck, LNS Stockmoor
A pair of Sea Harrier FA2 aircraft circled the carrier as an AgustaWestland EH101 helicopter underwent final checks. Stripped to the basics then rebuilt as an airborne executive suite, this EH101 was as far detached from the military aircraft it was built on as the Hummer H2 was from the HMMWV. Counter-measures had been retained, whilst the entire weapons systems had been stripped out. The cabin had been completely refitted. The military-standard had been replaced with a lush cabin, befitting of an executive aircraft.
Onboard luggage was already stowed, the food and drink for the journey ahead was onboard, indeed, the only thing left to be loaded on to the helicopter were the officials themselves.
1310h, Hydra's Bastion AFB, Greywatch
The helicopter conducted a text-book approach at the airfield, touching down gently, not even spilling the cup of coffee Samuel Lawson had just poured.
"Look's like we're here, Tom. Wonder what kind of people are here to meet us?"
"Think we're worthy of their head of state?"
Sam chuckled "Who knows? We could be getting the tea-boy for all I know!" Obviously, they wouldn't be, but none of the six man delegation knew exactly who to expect as they climbed down from the aircraft.
It wasn't long before the visitors were greet by three Black SUVs. Out of one of them was a man dressed in a white suit, "Ah, so you've arrived. Very good." A few soldiers began walking up to the helicopter, one of them saluted, "We're here to load the luggage." The first man nodded and held out his hand to the delegates, "Pegasus Silverkin is my name. I'll be in charge of the tours and personal services during your stay."
"Sam Lawson, Prime Minister, and this is Tom Wheeler, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I think his title's compensating for something." A subtle grin spread across his face, "Then you've got Jones, Richards, Helmsley and Jenkins, four of the best the Laceenian military machine has produced this generation. They're just here to look intimating and get some air-miles for the summer."
Each of the five men mentioned nodded in turn as Sam gripped their hosts offered hand in a firm handshake. Before the handshake was through, two of the four security staff had already disappeared back inside the bird and were passing a small collection of suitcases to the Greywatch troops.
"So, what's on the books for the rest of today then?"
"Nice to meet you all." Pegasus took the handshake with a smile. "Well, Hydra's Bastion is actually an old town to the north of here, the base was named after it. I figured we stop and eat there quickly before we head to Greywatch Central. That is the captial and center of activity up north." The Greywatch troops quickly began loading luggage into the back of one of the cars. Two cars for people and one for luggage. Pegasus continued, "It's about a five hour drive to the capital and there's plenty to see here in Hydra's Bastion. After we're done we will either drive to Greywatch Central or call in a plane to pick us up and take us to the central airport, depending on your preference of course."
"Sounds good to me. I think a bite to eat and a look round Hydra Bastion would be a great way to start the visit, then probably drive up to Greywatch Central." Prime Minister Lawson watched the suitcases being loaded into the rear of the 4x4 for a brief moment before continuing "There's something about driving through a country, you just get a feel for the nation that'd totally different to cruising over it at thirty-thousand feet. Sure, it takes a little longer, but if I've got anything to spare right now, it's time."
Pegasus smiled as the soldiers finished putting the luggage away. "Ah, excellent, then let us procede with the tour." Pegasus looked to the two SUVs, "Let me start by saying that Hydra's Bastion that is an old town. Medieval actually, the town center is actually still surronded by the remnants of the old walls and the farmers market is in the courtyard of the old castle. Other than that this part of Greywatch is largely agriculturaly based."
"I like a city with character, and the older they are the more character they have. Sure, modern cities have a charm of their own, but there's just something about buildings hewn from stone centuries ago." Samuel had to admit to being a bit of an architecture nut, especially when it came to old seats of power. Any fort, palace or castle would perk his interest. "And you say this region is the proverbial 'bread-basket' of your nation?"
"Well you'll certainly find that in Greywatch old cities, many of the citizens still live in some of the old houses. They've been renovated of course but much of the look and design remains the same. Hydra's Bastion would be one of the 'bread-baskets.' The most well-known at least. There are a few other ares but this one is much more developed and concentrated. Other notable areas would be Celestial Reach, Dragon's Ridge, and Avian Keep. There's also a vineyard town known as 'Pegasus Gardens' simply because I paid for much of its development. But we'll see those areas later on I assure you."
"Excellent." The prospect of a tour always brightened Prime Minister Lawson's day. Too often he found himself cooped up in some office discussing the details of housing, telecommunications or bovine TB, and so relished any chance to be outside. "I fully understand the needs of a modern society sometimes necessitate the destruction of older buildings, but it is fantastic to hear many citizens here value their heritage and history enough to spend time changing the historic building to meet their needs rather than just tearing them down and starting over."
Pegasus nodded witha smile, "Yes indeed. We often like to work around things rather than tear them down. I have to ask this now, how would you like to sit? We have one SUV for luggage and two for people. We have drivers taken care of already, I'll be driving one of the cars. So then I suppose all you have to do is choose seating arrangments and we'll be off."
"I think it's best if we go in separate cars, each with two guards, if that's fine with you, Tom." Sam glanced at his colleague, who nodded in response. "Right then. Jones, Helmsley, you're with me. Richards, Jenkins, you go with Wheeler." He grinned slightly as the four men moved to the flanks of their respective politician. "Isn't is nice when things go smoothly?"
Pegasus nodded, "Indeed." He got into the car he would be driving and started it up, the other two cars started up as soon as his did. He waited for everyone to get in so they could be on their way. This was one of the first times diplomats had been in Greywatch for a tour and Pegasus would have to leave a good impression.
The Laceenian delegates climbed into their respective cars. Prime Minister Lawson sat in to back of the SUV driven by Pegasus. So far, he was quite impressed with how organised the group sent to collect them had been. They also seemed like a friendly, knowledgeable group.
This could be the start of something beautiful
With everyone in a car and the bags packed away, they were off. It was aout an hours drive but the roads were nice and clear. Along the way the group would be able to see plenty of farmland around them. Pegasus pointed out that many of the farms had been there since Medieval times. "Some of the farmers were a little reluctant to use more recent technology at first but they eventually found it made their jobs much easier..." It was a clear day, very good for a tour.
When they did arrive in Hydra's Bastion it was around lunch time. The small streets were full of people going about their daily lives, very few other cars could be seen. "I'll find a place to park. From here on it would be best to walk, and along the way we can find something to eat, if your hungry." The other two SUVs made sure to stay close lest the drivers lose sight of Pegasus in the crowd.
Sam listened intently as Pegasus described the areas traditions and history. The suggestion of stopping for food brought his hunger back to the front of his mind.
"A short break for something to eat sounds like an incredible idea." He watched the locals on the street as the car threaded its way through the bustling streets. It reminded him of several small market towns back home and he smiled.
OOC: To keep this thread from becoming a dull 2 way reading how about the rest of the nations awiting Laceenias arrival talk about how we prepare for this meeting. Otherwise it will just be asskissing remarks for like 50 pages.
OOC: Idea, why not make threads for every nation? That way people don't have to wait for someone to finish. Whoever is after me, just say you''ve finished your tour of Greywatch and your heading to them next.
As soon as Pegasus found a place to park he did so. It was a wider street and there weren't that many other cars. The other two cars stopped when he did, "Well then," Pegasus started as he unlocked the doors, "Let's go find something. Is there anything I should know about? Diets, allergies and such?" People paid no attention to the three SUVs and continued about their day.
OOC: That is a plan, otherwise I get the feeling the thread is gonna die, would be a shame as this is noe of few not related to war.
Samuel Lawson took a moment to examine his surroundings as he got out of the car, "No, nothing special, just so long as it isn't packed full of additives and chemicals we should be fine, right Tom?"
Tom just nodded. For someone so high up the political ladder, he was incredibly quiet.
"C'mon, Tom, say something or our hosts will think you're mute!"
"I'm just getting adapted. It's been a long time since I set foot outside of Laceenia." He smiled as he spoke. His innocence could rival that of a child sometimes.
Sam shook his head and laughed "God help you if you ever visit a country with a vast cultural difference!"
(OoC: I was considering having them running concurrently last night for exactly that reason. I'll probably post the other visits up over the next few hours, depending on how long it takes me to demolish and rebuild my room. Man I hate tidying, but I've got guests this weekend so...)
"Oh, you don't have to worry about additives here." He glance to Tom, "No worries, I understand that it may be a bit much to take in quickly. The other driver unlocked the doors for the other representatives. Pegasus gathered at the second vehicle, Well then," he began once everyone was together, "What would you all be interested in? Anything specific?"
"Well, just as long as it isn't still alive I'm open to almost anything" Tom smiled widely as he spoke. His steaks had to be well done, his toast black and anything else cooked to the bring of burning.
"Personally," Samuel Lawson looked up and down the street, "I'd be interested to try a little bit of local cuisine. Nothing too fancy, but a taste of the area." The Prime Minister always tried to get as much of a taste of the local area as he did a feel for it. That and he always like the way Tom eyed anything he hadn't eaten before with utmost suspicion.
Pegasus smiled, "Local cuisine, excellent. I believe I know just the place." He ed the group off the streets through a few allyways and soon enough they found themselves on another road. After looking around Pegasus led them for about five more minutes down the sidewalk to an old-looking structure with a sign on it that only said: 'The Place.' Pegasus led the group in and got two tables very quickly. The air was warm and one could smell fresh meat being cooked in the kitchen. A few people were sitting at another table drinking beer and chatting. "This is a good place to come if you want something fresh. Very popular location, most of the food they serve arrived this morning or last night."
San's attention was drawn by every little detail as they moved swiftly through the towns bustling streets. When they finally arrived at 'The Palace', he smiled. This was about as far detached from the huge international chains as he imagined you could get. He listened intently as their host explained how fresh everything was.
"We've got a few places like this back home. If you ever drop by make sure I take you to "The Golden Fox" just outside Stockmoor. Fantastic little place, don't you agree, Tom."
Tom was caught slightly off guard by the question, stumbling over his words momentarily, "Uh, what? Oh yeah, good food, atmosphere and beer."
Pegasus gave a nod, "I'll be sure to keep that in mind if and when I visit your country. Now then..." A couple of waiters came by the tables and quickly set some glasses of water down. "And what will we be having today? Chicken, Beef, Pork, Fish?" Said each waiter to their table. Pegasus looked over at Sam, "It may seem limiting but the dishes are always good." Pegasus then looked to the waiter, "I'll have some of the apple cider and the fish if you don't mind." The waiter nodded, "Ah, very good sir, and the rest of you?"
"I'll have the pork, and a glass of orange juice." Sam, whilst always tempted to try knew things, liked to keep a constant. Today, pork was that constant. It was a meat he liked.
Tom, on the other hand, had never been a fan of pork, bacon or anything else from a pig. "I think the chicken sounds good, and I'll have your finest beer."
With that the waiter nodded and was gone. Pegasus leaned forward, "Well the food should be here in a few minutes... in the meantime, why don't you tell me what your country's like?" The waiter came back quickly with the drinks, a glass of apple cider for Pegasus; a glass of OJ for Sam; and a cold, frothy mug of beer for Tom."
"Well we've got miles of coastline, which can be great fun to police, although some of it doesn't look so good. The north-eastern corner is heavily industrialised which has led to a bit of damage to the natural environment, but there's a lot of protected green space as well." Tom took a sip of the orange juice before continuing, "It's all about balance with that. Too much industry and you're living in a wasteland. Too little, and you're in an economic wasteland."
"Coastline... something we don't have the benefit of, exception being lakes, due to our landlocked nation. But you can't have it all can you?" Pegasus nodded to the explanation of balance, "Yes, balance is a good thing indeed." As he spoke a waiter came by the table bringing their meals with him. For Pegasus there was a well cooked fishs with some vegatables, rice, and chips (or french fries, depending where your from). For Sam, there was platter of pork sausages and gravy atop mashed potatoes which some greens on the side. And for Tom there came half a chicken breast and two drumsticks with some carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes. Soon after, silverware and napkins were put down on the table.
"Coastline's not all it's cracked up to be. A lot of ships needed to make sure it's secure, and that people don't kill themselves trying to do something they can't. I'd happily trade you some of our coastline if it was possible, but alas, no man is a God. Although I do know a great landscape gardener who might be able to help." Sam smiled slightly as he watched the waiter place his meal in front of him. "Ah, bangers and mash. This restaurant wouldn't happen to have a member of my catering staff passing along my eating habits, would they? This is one of my favourite meals."
Glancing over at Tom, he expected a witty retort, but receiving nothing but a mumbled nod of approval. It's had to talk with a mouth full of chicken, not to mention incredibly bad manners, and Tom knew enough about diplomacy to realise that spitting chicken across his hosts was not a good move, no matter how much you were enjoying the meal.
"I can imagine, I guess Greywatch has a good deal. Plenty of mountains make this nation easy to defend." Pegasus smiled at Sam's comment, "They do their best and it pays off." He looked over to Tom, "I'm happy to dee you're enjoying your meal." Pegasus took his fork and knife and began eating his fish."
The pair of Laceenians continued to eat and make idle chatter with their hosts.
So far, so good, Tom thought between mouthfuls. Hopefully the rest of the visit goes as smoothly. And is as well catered.
Pegasus ate a little slowly to enjoy his food. It wasn't too often that he actually got to see this part of the nation. After finishing about half his fish he looked to Sam, "Most of our industry is actually to the north, in an area known as Celestial Reach. It's a nice place, mostly mines and lumber mills. It's kept pretty clean for the most part." He took another bite and when he was finished he contined, "But we'll see that in due time." He looked to both men, "I'm glad you're both enjoying your meals."
Sam nodded as Pegasus explained his nations industrial heartland. "Mines and lumber, nature provides a lot of what we need to get by. Well, with some reshaping at least." He continued his meal, taking a few more mouthfuls before responding to Pegasus's comment. "Indeed, it's a good meal, you sure know your restaurants."
"Indeed it does. Since the beginning of time, humans have had to use nature in order to survive. I can't imagine a nation completely based on nothing more than industry." Pegasus took other mouthful and upon swallowing continued, "I'll be sure to tell the chef."
"He's undoubtedly a very talented man." Sam spoke as he finished the last of a sausage after he spoke, savouring its taste. "Well, I doubt any nation could survive solely on industry. Not for long, at least. There's a balance between industry, nature and your people, and it has all got to be kept perfectly aligned or things start to go wrong."
Tom just frowned at the 'balance' speech. He'd heard it before, and whilst it made sense on some levels, on others it was total codswallop, and on all it was irritating the sixth time you heard it. He imagined that it would keep Sam occupied throughout the meal. He was more than occupied by the food set before him and didn't need any balance talks or government speeches to fill his mind.
Pegasus was nearly done with his fish and veggies. "Very true indeed, balance is key to any country. Well, for the sake of thinking ahead, may I suggest perhaps that we tour some of the older parts of the city?"
Sam laid his knife and fork down on the side of his plate as he took a drink from the glass before him. "A tour sounds excellent. Too often I get caught up in meetings within Laceenia where I have to travel hundreds of miles to sit in a stuff office for four hours then travel right back to Stockmoor. Sometimes a little R and R time can be beneficial before the talking starts proper, especially when I'm in a new environment." He smiled some "I guess I'm an unqualified anthropologist of sorts."
Pegasus finished up the last of his meal before responding, "Oh indeed, no one ever said diplomatic meetings had to be all about meetings. You really want to ease into things and adapt to everything. That way, when the meetings start, you're comfortable and you know a little more about the country you're in. I can't stand being cramped up all day, there's no knowledge to gain from that." He looked to the waiter, who went to get the bill. "But enough of that, a tour it is. There should be plenty to see."
Sam smiled and wiped the corner of his mouth using a napkin. "It seems that some people seem to think 'diplomacy' means work, work, work. It's a nice change to find someone who shares a more laid-back approach to the entire thing."
Pegasus nodded, "Indeed. I don't think you can learn about a place by doing mountains of paperwork." Pegasus paid the bill and left a few extra drakes as a tip while exchangin a few words with the waiter. He made sure everything was in order. "Alright then, if we're all ready, let us proceed."
The pair of Laceenian politicians stood and smiled at the waiter. Pegasus had indeed picked a good eatery. Clearly he was a man of taste.
"Let's. What is first on the tour of this fine town?"
Sam and Tom exchanged an idle glance. Neither knew that much about this nation or its culture, but so far it seemed fairly similar to their own.
(OoC: Due to other events in my life, namely a much needed vacation, I'll be out of contact completely from about midday August 26th (BST) to late on September 2nd. I'll respond to all threads I'm involved in as soon as possible upon my return.)
Pegasus smiled, "Well I suppose it would be best to cut right to the chase and see the castle. We'll be able to see both the courtyard market as well as the old castle itself. That should make for a good experience."
"That sounds good to me." Tom stretched his limbs. An old habit, but one which had served him well.
Inside his mind, images of the castles dotted across Laceenia danced. Most were beyond hope of restoration, although some said the underground portions were sound. He pushed the thought from his mind. At lease someone, somewhere in the world took better care of their history than most Laceenians had for the past five centuries or so.
Pegasus rose and led them outside, onto the busy streets. He let them down the streets of Hydra's Bastion, passing the numerous shops and kiosks. It was a good walk, abotu fifteen minutes. The as the rounded a corner, the castle became very visable. There weren't too many people gathered around the entrance, it was the courtyard was where everything was. "And this is the Hydra's Bastion," Pegasus said as he pointed to the castle, "this particular castle has the most hidden passageways and actually has a roughtly intact underground network of tunnels one can use to get to most places in the city. These passages are now locked down to prevent theives and other sorts from using them." Pegasus waited for any questions before pressing forward arcoss the bridge and into the castle courtyard.
The grandeur of the structure instantly left both politicians completely awestruck. It was, both had to admit, unfair in the extreme to even consider comparing the tumble-down castles they were familiar to with this.
"It's particularly well kept." Tom commented, "Much better than most in Laceenia. Those hidden passageways you mention. Do you know what there intended use was? Back home some of the old ruins have underground complexes and passages, most of those are tombs and catacombs, but what you've described sound almost like an underground transport network rather than tombs or storage."
(OoC: Sorry about the delay in my response, I've been otherwise occupied lately)
"We believe the catacombs were used for a number of things. Transportation is a very plausible idea. We think think they also might have been used as secret escape routes during attack. There's a number of possibilities, we've honestly covered only about 65% of the catacombs, or so we think. Some places have caved in and it would be too dangerous to continue. We've also found some traps... though not very many and they seem to be placed almost at random..."
OOC: Completely understandable, welcome back.
The pair nodded, many of the castles in Laceenia had been left well alone, although inside those they had explored there hadn't been any traps or such inside the winding tunnels.
"It's a long time since they served their original purpose, a purpose we will probably never be able to figure out for certain."
"Very true, but at least we can try to salvage the knowldedge that is still intact. But enough of the past for now, let us procede to the castle, hmm?" Pegasus led them to the structure and into the courtyard. Even at this time, the stalls were crowded with people selling all manner of trinkets. Pegasus looked around, "Wow, this place is drawing more tourists than it has in the past..."
Sam eyed the stall holders and their wares with a slight interest. It was busy, and the crowd reminded him of the speciality markets Stockmoor hosted at various times during the year.
He and Tom wound their way through the throng of shoppers behind Pegasus, occasionally bumping shoulders with the tourists.
"Well, I can certainly understand why it draws them. I dare say I could see myself taking a holiday here." Sam's voice was sincere, and indeed he was considering looking in to the options for a visit during the next parliamentary break.
After some careful navigation through the ocean of tourists Pegasus finally got them into the castle itself. "Ah, yes. Well if you decide to come, try to make sure there aren't so many tourists." Pegasus straightened himself up, "But I suppose that just comes with the territory." He looked around at the entrance hall of the castle. It was large room, understably, and kept in reasonably good condition. Many of the large bricks were a dark gray and didn't appear to be very dusty, copies of the old tapesties had been made and hung from the repaired support pillars that were in the hall. Across from the door was a grand staircase. Not many people could be seen crowding the castle's halls, "Diplomats are allowed to enter buildings like this even when they're closed, as long as there isn't anything too important being done. I do believe the castle is going through its weekly check up and cleaning so I suspect no tourists will be in here for another hour or two."
It was almost as if he's managed to step from reality into one of the artists impressions of medieval life, Tom thought. From the tapestries to the stonework to the staircase that dominated his view.
"I'd imagine it can be quite the draw for tourists when the doors are open. It's a shame that there aren't more buildings like this left in Laceenia, certainly not in major cities like this."
"Oh yes, it gets quite hectic in here, not to mention noisy. But it's understandable, the fact that we managed to keep this place relatively intact seems more like an act of god.... and very dedicated citizens. By the way, what are the old structures in Laceenia like? Surely it's not all that bad."