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The Makings of a Queen


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[i]The Royal Palace, Marscury:[/i]

"I don't see why I need a wife," Mikhail said, "I already have a son, what more do I need?"

"Companionship, that is indeed important," the old man replied, "you must think about your own happiness."

"I'm plenty happy," Mikhail scoffed back, "I don't see why I need a woman to be happy."

"Then a mother, the prince needs a mother. After the death of Rania..."

"You will not speak that whore's name in my presence," Mikhail belted out, "is that understood?!" Obviously, a nerve had been hit.

"Apologies sire," the old man said, backing off a few steps, "but the prince and the nation need a mother."

"I have been doing a fine job as the father of my people," Mikhail said, "I have been strong, yet caring; firm, yet loving. I see no need for a woman's touch in this picture."

"Why the aversion sire," the old man asked, "why won't you search for somebody?"

"Well, um," Mikhail thought quickly, "I am simply not attractive enough anymore. I have changed much from my youth, and what woman would be attracted to me now?" Mikhail had shown the signs of aging. His once-flat stomach had begun to bulge out, his hairline was visibly receding, and his smile had dulled significantly, but he was by no means ugly.

"Sire, you're lying here," the man said, "you are no less attractive than any of the other world leaders, and you have never cared about your appearance before."

"I'm just too busy then," Mikhail said, "I have important things to do, like running a country."

"You aren't too busy to jump into your car and blaze down the highways," the old man said, "what is the real reason?"

"Fine! You want to know the real reason," Mikhail yelled, throwing his chair back as he stood up, "it's women! It's the whole gender in general! I can't trust them! I can't get close to them! I do all of the things I have to, keeping them off my mind. With women, I don't want to start again. You just don't understand, they just shake and try to break whatever peace I may find!"

"Because of one woman," the man said, puzzled, "how can this be? There have been good women in your life. What about Sarah Tintagyl?"

"Never met the woman, may she rest in peace," Mikhial said, "I don't even think she knew I existed."

"What about Empress Chihara? She had been good to us."

"With enough ass kissing, anybody can be good to anybody," Mikhail said, "and boy did we pucker up."

"Queen Maddy had some soft words for you," the old man said with a nudge.

"Who?"

"Your cousins then," the old man said frustrated, "you don't hate them!"

"Family doesn't count," Mikhail said, "I'm not allowed to hate them. But please, can we let this go. My personal feelings are mine alone, and I don't believe I'll be changing them in the near future." He got up to walk away, definitely displeased with the conversation.

"Your father," the old man yelled after him.

"What about him," Mikhail asked.

"Was he not a bad ruler, hated by the people? Everyone hated him, but they love you. Tell me, if a nation can give your family a second chance, can you not give a gender a second chance?"

"Sir," Mikhail said, "you're surprisingly wise, and a very efficient debater. I'll tell you what I'll do. [i]You[/i] are now in charge of finding the first Khagana. You fulfill this quest, and I will handsomely reward you. Wealth, titles, security for your family, it will all be yours. Fail me, bring me a second treasonous wench, and the entire nation shall know who to blame. Go, now."

And so it began, the search for the first Khagana of Marscurian Siberia. The world would be scoured to find a woman worthy of holding the heart of the Khagan.


OOC: This is a chance for people to jump in. If you want to RP a character, just say so. They don't need to be a princess or any other nobility, so people with republics can join in too.

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[i]Port Elizabeth, Transavaal[/i]

Somewhere between the creation of a super strand of the rabies virus, creation of the Astrid Corporation, the domination of Port Elizabeth through organized crime, and the beginning moves to take over the world, Bridgette was able to find some time to relax. It was during her time lounging at the beach far away from the smoggy harbor, with the sun finally beginning to tan her white skin that Rachel Raaste, her CEO of Gaia Communications arrived holding a piece of paper. Standing over Bridgette, just beginning to block out the sun, the Austrian pulled down her sunglasses from her eyes and glared at the woman standing above her.

"Rachel, you realize you're blocking out my sun, correct? Don't you have a company to build?"

Rachel smiled and pushed the paper into Bridgette's face. "I think that you'll find this is directly tied to what Gaia Communications can accomplish. We picked this up while it was circulating around Arctica."

Snatching the letter out of her hands, Bridgette slowly began to scan the letter. It was addressed from the Khagan of Marscurian Siberia and the story wasn't all that far off from Cinderella. After the untimely death of his past wife, the Khagan was searching for a new wife to call his own. Someone beautiful, someone trustworthy, and someone dedicated to marriage. If a woman met these criteria then she should travel to Marscurian Siberia for a chance to meet and possibly elope with the Khagan. It was a rather odd way of finding a bride, but with an old-world fairy tale charm. The entire thought made Bridgette sick to her stomach. However, it was also a chance to possibly place another country under her direct influence, even if she didn't get married per se. She had always entertained the thought that a mistress was always better than a wife, no strings but with all the influence.

"I figured I'd bring it to you, the way your mind works, Miss Bridgette, I'm sure you could think of a way to use this as an advantage."

The madwoman's mouth curled into a grin as she dropped the letter beside her and rested her head back onto the beach. "The gears are already turning. This..." she picked up the letter again for reference. "Mikhail won't know what hit him."

"But isn't the country rather weak?"

"For now Rachel, for now."

---

A few days later at the airport in the Marscurian capital, a woman dressed in extravagant pink walked out from the terminal. The society around her only made Bridgette happier. It was like being in 1940s Russia, the look of destitution along with a glimmer of hope and she could be that hope and later, hopelessness. However, there was the need to disguise herself again. Bridgette's look had changed enough since Austria, she now had short blonde hair that came to her shoulders and long bangs, one side that completely hid the left of her face. She didn't have a choice, especially in Marscurian Siberia where they had sided with the Royalists in the Civil War. What irony! Being romantically involved in a former enemy, it couldn't be more perfect.

Approaching the central kiosk of the airport, Bridgette left her name and the reason of her arrival. She requested a taxi, preferably a limousine to take her to the Khagan's residence and that Doctor Victoria Kismet had come to seek the Khagan's hand in romance.

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"Mees Doctor Victoria Kismet," the chauffeur said in heavily accented English, "right thees way, ma'am." Bridgette had gotten lucky, as she managed to snag the last [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZIL-4104"]M-4104[/url] in the lot. The car pulled out of the covered garage and into the sunlight, speeding onto the main road that exited the airport. The extravagance that Bridgette had known in Europe apparently did not exist in this corner of the world. For a capital city, Marscury seemed quite plain. There were very few statues to speak of, and apart from the occasional decorated building, the architecture would not win any European design awards. Driving across one of the small bridges across the Bira River, Bridgette was given an unceremonious entry into the city. After heading down one of the many thoroughfares through a downtown district lined with mostly mid-level buildings with simple brick facades, they reached Grand Avenue. Suddenly, the tone of the journey changed. The tallest buildings in the city lined this street. On the ground floors were trendy shops and restaurants, offering the finest goods Marscurian Siberia could produce, along with a plethora of imported items from what seemed like every nation in the world. Trees lined the sidewalks and flags fluttered in the breeze as Bridgette looked up the avenue to see [url="http://www.pictureninja.com/pages/united-states/iowa/iowa-capitol-building.jpg"]the palace[/url] at the end of the street. It almost seemed like the city had laid the red carpet out for the new VIP, welcoming her straight to her destination. Exiting the car, the chauffeur went to talk to one of the guards at their post.

"Miss Doctor Victoria Kismet is here to see the Khagan," he said, "it's about his 'problem'"

"We have been expecting her," the guard replied, "a phone call was placed by some woman in Africa noting the arrival."

Even though the conversation was in Yiddish, the German that Bridgette spoke would have given her more than enough knowledge into what the conversation was about. When the guard moved the car, he opened the door as Bridgette exited.

"We need to do search for weapons on you Mees Doctor Victoria Kismet," the guard said in very accented English. Bridgette's bags were searched and her clothes were given a quick pat-down, and while this was happening, all the other guards were staring at her. It was not for her body, but for her hair. Blondes were almost non-existent in Marscurian Siberia, so Bridgette was quite the novelty. When the short search was over, she was escorted up the staircases and into the palace itself. The Khagan was waiting in his study on the second floor, examining pictures from the latest trade expo in Obluchye.

"What have you brought me now Nickolas," Mikhail said, without lifting his gaze from the papers.

"Khagan," the guard said, "you have a visitor. This is Doctor Victoria Kismet, here to see you."

Mikhail looked up at the woman. "Alright ma'am," he said, this time in English, "speak your piece."

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"You have a lovely home, Your Excellency." Bridgette smiled as looked around the office and took off the white gloves that covered her hands. "It's good to see that this side of the world still has a touch of the European, it makes a traveler feel much more at home." She turned back to him and approached the desk, sitting down in one of the chairs across from him. "Of course, I've never been one to have to lay out my entire personal life on the first meeting and sudden romance like this strikes me as nearly online dating, which just completely disregards the way the human mind works. But let's start with an introduction."

The Austrian extended her hand to the Khagan's own and smirked, it was a wicked smirk, but charming at the same time. "Doctor Victoria Kismet at your service. I am a botanist from Transvaal, working for the Astrid Corporation in some experiments in Africa. But when I heard that the Khagan of Marscurian Siberia was looking for a romantic relationship, well," her face drooped into a slight sadness. "Work always gets in the way of my romance, I have little time for myself anymore, if not Africa, then things in Europe always exploding. I guess I came out this way for some peace and quiet. Then of course, the chance to impress one of the most eligible bachelors on the planet. What woman could resist?"

Folding her hands over her lip, Bridgette sighed and looked out the window over the Marscurian capital. "But as I said, I'm terrible with this flash romance thing. So to be honest, I'm not sure what kind of peace you expect me to say. Just that I came to your country and if you would be interested in escorting and showing a traveling botanist your country, she would be delighted to accompany you. Otherwise Khagan, you have a truly beautiful country and I think I will be staying a long...long time."

Her one showing eye stared intensely at the man across from her, waiting for him to seal his fate.

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Mikhail leaned back in his chair. "I can assure you that I do not use this internet," he said coldly. He was in his 'serious' mood, and was doing as much as he could to set the scene. He didn't like the idea of being forced into romance, but unfortunately the very unsubtle ad that the old man had put out put him in this position. However, he couldn't help feeling bad for poor "Victoria," who seemed so simple and genuine. Bridgette did a very good job of hiding herself and her motives. "So, you say you're a botanist," Mikhail said, a little more tenderly and with a hint of interest, "in that case, may I suggest we take our conversation out back." Walking down the stairs and through the bustling lower level of the palace, with office workers skirting by the pair, too accustomed to the Khagan to make special notice of their presence. They reached a long, dimly lit hallway that lead to a pair of large glass doors. On the wall right in front of the doors, [url="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Alexandre_humboldt.jpg"]a portrait[/url] hung at about eye level, being illuminated by the sun coming in. "That was me in India, back when I was simply Prince Mikhail," the Khagan said, "I'm not very fond of the portrait. The artist made a big mistake. Do you think you can find it?" Bridgette studied the portrait and Mikhail closely, but couldn't find anything of note. "The eyes," Mikhail said, "the artist gave me blue eyes in the portrait. He was, in his own words, 'not a fan of brown.' How you get to be an artist while disliking an entire color I will never understand." He gave a quick chuckle, but quickly straightened out again. "I think this is a far better place for us to get to know each other." He opened the doors which led into a massive garden. The landscape was filled with trees of all varieties, with neat walking paths laid out by white tiles lined with small bushes and shrubs. Flowers of all colors and sizes, whatever would survive a Siberian winter, were placed in intricate designs and lit up all corners of the garden. Occasionally, a narrow but tall greenhouse would take up one of the plots, holding bananas, palm trees, pomegranate bushes, and all sorts of tropical plants that the Khagan had an interest in. Taking a seat on a bench, Mikhail brushed the blond hair out of Bridgette's face. "We are not shy in Marscurian Siberia," he said, "there is no need to hide your face." Mikhail leaned over and plucked a large red flower and gave it to Bridgette. "Tell me about yourself," he said, "where are you from? How did you find out about our small place on the map? Basically, who is Victoria Kismet?"

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"The artist must have been a Social Darwinist, one of those people that still believe in the ideas of master races. Shame that people still think like that nowadays, but the world isn't perfect." She said as they sat down on the bench and the Austrian blushed as the Khagan pushed her hair aside, but it would soon fall back into place. Then receiving the rose, her smiled turned genuine even for as twisted of a mind that she had, any woman appreciated a flower from a gentleman.

"Who is Victoria Kismet?" Bridgette laughed, "I'd barely know where to begin Your Excellency. But for starters, I am originally from Austria. I attended the University of Vienna for botany and then I went traveling with my father, throughout the world. He's a botanist himself and a master of robotics too, our whole family has really tried to impact the scientific community as best as we can. But really to no avail." A frown began to cross her face and she looked down at the sidewalk below her. "After the Austrian Civil War, we left, there was no real place for us anymore, our home was destroyed in the fighting outside of Salzburg so we traveled to Transvaal. Which is where I signed on as the Astrid Corporation's leading botanical expert. Since then I've been all over Africa, collecting samples, doing my experiments, living the researcher's life. But as I said before, it doesn't leave me much time to do anything else. So I am hoping to change that."

She leaned back on the bench and looked at the garden around her, it was peaceful and far away from anything occurring in Africa. Marscurian Siberia could easily become one of the best hideouts should could have. Isolated, far from most of her past, no one would find her here and she could conduct her future operations in peace. Of course, Siberia also could be turned into the focal point of Asian operations, having the destruction of Europe, Asia, and Africa all at once would severely limit nations' ability to resist her take over.

"You really do have a beautiful garden, Khagan, for what people say about Siberia, being out in the wilderness there is a certain charm to this country. A down to earth, homey charm. Very relaxing." She sniffed the rose. "Delicate, a delicate beauty."

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"Delicate is not the word I would use, Miss Kismet," Mikhail said, "you must remember that every plant in this garden has just survived a Siberian winter. Though they may look delicate, and are of course beautiful, they hide their strength on the inside, and that strength is who they are. We all manage to hide true parts of ourselves away from others, either on purpose or accidentally. It's instinctual, I would guess, as it encompasses all life on this Earth. The dog can be gentle to us until it is abused. The bear is ferocious in our sight, but caring to its cubs. The same is true with people... and even with kings. You say you were a victim of the Austrian Civil War, but you do not, nor does most of the nation, know that at my orders, several elite teams entered the conflict. I was insulted by counselors who would call me a murderer, a provoker, but the truth was far from it. I sent men to war because I knew that every soldier lead to a quicker end to the violence. Miss Kismet, I regret to say that I did the same thing with you earlier today. I was rude and inhospitable with you this morning, but that is not who I am. It was a costume I simply dawned for this meeting out of petty spite. My feelings over the crimes of another influenced how I met you, and that was wrong. If you would like to, we can try this meeting again. You know where to find me." Mikhail stood up and waved for one of the palace employees to escort Bridgette out. "And Miss Kismet," he said, turning back to her, "you can call me Mikhail. 'Your excellency' is only for people who work for me."

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Bridgette stood up along with Mikhail and extended her hand once more as they parted and said good-bye. "We will have to keep in touch, Mikhail, it was a pleasant afternoon and you are a most gracious host. I believe our moods can only improve with time." She bowed her head slightly and smiled. "Until we meet again, take care." Then the guards would escort her back out of the palace grounds and to the limousine that had taken her to the Khagan's residence from the airport.

Her venture in Marscurian Siberia was not over by a long shot, however, Bridgette believed she had done extremely well for the first meeting with the Khagan. He had an seemingly inherent xenophobia of Europeans and by his closing statements, especially Austrians. She could have said she had been born in Germany or Transvaal, she had the accent for it, but lying about her identity was enough. The more lies she told, the most likely she would slip up and have to deal with losing out on a new potential theater for operation along with the first romance she was involved in for nearly five years.

Arriving at a hotel in central Marscury, Bridgette picked a moderate room as not to give off the sense that she had vast quantities of wealth at her disposal. As she turned in for bed that night, her mind drifted to Asia. Marscurian Siberia, from what she had been able to research was a fairly isolated nation with it's only real ties being with the United Federation of the East. There were perhaps more, but they had escaped her eyes. The nation also had been recently pulling itself out of poverty and perhaps with a little bit of push could easily replace nations like Zargathia, Mongolia, and even Korea as regional powers. Surely the United Federation wouldn't mind having their ally have a stronger voice and she could expand her own power base in Asia without calling a great deal of attention to herself. The only thing that did bother her was the idea of marriage. If she became Khagana, her face would be all over Marscurian Siberia and no disguise could completely hid her from the world. She was the Former Chancellor of Austria after all, that kind of history just didn't disappear.

A mistress through could stay behind the scenes and not be subject to the world's scrutiny. That was what she would aim for. Marscurian Siberia would also place Astrid in close proximity with the Chinese Green Gang and there was always the option for cooperation. With the collapses of Australia, the weak states of northwestern Asia, and the inactivity of the Government of Japan, there were probably toys laying all over Asia. Toys that the Green Gang and Astrid could both use for their benefit and it all started with the heart of Mikhail Stein.

Bridgette laughed as she closed her eyes and fell asleep. "So this is what it's like to be in love."

---

The next morning after getting dressed and having breakfast at one of the trendy cafes in Marscury, Bridgette slowly made her way back to the palace. Being stopped at the front gate she smiled and bowed to the guard. "Doctor Victoria Kismet, sir, I'm here to call on the Khagan, for a date."

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"Yes, Mees Doctor Victoria Kismet, your name is on leest right here," the guard said in his usual heavily-accented English. Bridgette was led into the palace, which was much busier than the last time she was here. People were running all over the place, and there seemed to be many more soldiers than before. Mikhail was in his military uniform, looking over a stack of papers with some strategists.

"Ah, Victoria," he said, walking towards her, "I'm dreadfully sorry about the mess. We've been having quite a pickle in our region. The UK is angry with Korea, which means Athens is angry with Korea, which means the UFE is angry with Korea, which apparently means that I am angry with Korea. One second, what is the situation with Vaulian waters?"

"Still closed sir!"

"Blast! Send memos to the trade companies to redirect trains to Vladivostok and Tianjin! Now, where were we?" The abruptness at which Mikhail switched between authority and friendly conversation was astounding. "I do have some special plans for today Victoria, but this morning I need to do a bit of kinging beforehand. If you'd follow me, we'll take our leave for the day." The duo exited the main doors to the street where the official vehicles were parked. Bridgette was led into a van with blacked-out windows for secrecy, while Mikhail drove his Masibau muscle car. "Do try to keep up," he said to the driver, "I hate to keep a lady waiting." The cars sped off onto the main vertical freeway in the nation, and pulled hard off course around half way to Mietonka. They rolled into a military base that was buzzing with activity. Bridgette was allowed out of the car and into the sunlight after about an hour on the road in darkness. There was no real concern with having a foreigner on the base. There was little information that could be learned here that wasn't available on YouTube, Wikipedia, or watching a military march. "Sorry about the noise," Mikhail yelled, "but we need to be ready in case we actually need to use these things. Mikhail moved over to one of the large administration buildings, but Bridgette was not allowed inside. Before entering the door, Mikhail whispered to one of the MPs, "watch her like a hawk."

Outside, Bridgette would be exposed to a flurry of explosions. On a line in a far-off field, tanks and artillery were lined up for practice firing. The constant blasts were almost deafening. Shouts could be heard all over the place, unfortunately for Bridgette, nothing was in German. A good bit of time passed before Mikhail could finally return, flanked by generals. "Well, let's just hope it doesn't happen," he said before dismissing everyone. "Now, Victoria," he said, "ready to head out, and not in a van this time?" The Masibau Cavalier would be their mode of transport, and their destination would quickly come into view. Deep into their journey, a blue monolith started to appear in their view. It was the 900 foot tall Mietonka Tower, and it was Bridgette's first view of the glitzy city of Mietonka. Far from the stubby lanes of Marscury, Mietonka was full of skyscrapers, covered with brick, concrete, glass, and steel. It was the economic center of the nation, and it was making that point well known. The final destination of the trip would be the top floor of the Mietonka Tower, where one of the best restaurants in the nation was located. "A little change in scenery is good, isn't it," Mikhail said.

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It was a confusing morning for her, to have suddenly been drawn into the political machine that was Marscurian Siberia, Bridgette could barely keep up. However, as she was brought through the palace, glancing over at the soldiers pondering over maps and Mikhail's stern voice bellowing over the crowds, she couldn't help but get the smile off her face. This was the sign that everything still worked beautifully in the world, there were still wars, there were still pariah states and it meant that Asia was unstable. She had monitored what she could of the fragile balance in Mainland Asia, mainly between the United Federation and the Kingdom of Cochin and she was sure that the conflict in Korea would have consequences in such a balance. If one wanted to get rid of world powers and cause a bit of chaos, a war between Cochin and the Federation would bring Earth closer to Doomsday than ever before and most importantly, it would give Bridgette the chance to rise from those ashes, she just needed to give Asia a bit of a nudge. Mikhail would help her with that, along with the Zargathian Queen.

After a morning of rushing around and being fully confused about the situation, Mikhail finally arrived again from the administration building and Bridgette found herself cruising down Siberian roads with him heading towards Mietonka and the great tower that stood at it's center.

"I've been waiting to see what really makes this country tick," she smiled, "After all Mikhail, I'm sure that Marscurian Siberia has come a long way since it's incarnation. The Marscurian civilization as a whole has come a long way so it's amazing to see everything up close. A modern anthropologist would die to be able to tour your country along side it's leader. I consider myself very fortunate that you decided to accept men this morning." The Austrian smirked at him and brushed her hair from her face.

As they pulled closer to the tower, Bridgette looked over again at Mikhail and looked at him intensely. "Though I have to ask, Mikhail, will all this chaos going on in Asia. Where does Siberia fit in with the greater world, surely you're a man who wants to dream and see great things. The question is, what things?"

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"Siberia is the powerhouse of the world," Mikhail said, "it is where the empires come together. We have Vaule, Zargathia, the UFE, and an ever-shifting cast of extras. Siberia is the land of shimmering cities, cosmopolitan centers of culture and commerce that send their influence around the world. [i]Marscurian[/i] Siberia, on the other hand, is none of those. We share borders with three of the largest nations in Asia, and we hold allegiances with the UFE, Cochin, Rebel Army, and Vaule. With this, you would think that our nation is the crossroads of Siberia, but in reality, we are more of a roundabout. All roads converge towards Marscurian Siberia, yet people simply go around it to get to where they want. Vaule talks to the UFE, the UFE talks to Zargathia, Zargathia talks to Vaule, and we sit there like a pretty statue, a quaint picture of the simple life, while the traffic whizzes around." Mikhail sighed deeply and took a bite of the salad in front of him. "But it's not all bad," he said, "we are moving into world slowly. 'Made in Marscurian Siberia' is becoming more common. You may see it on the fur coats you buy in a fancy store, or on the marble blocks that line the facades of Europe, or on the palate of turnips that arrived in your local supermarket. This is what is best for Marscurian Siberia. The world goes off to find glory out of the barrel of a gun, but I am content with letting our ships stay in port, our planes remain on the ground, and our soldiers enjoy time with their families. What do I dream as leader? Long life, successful subjects, and people not to throw eggs at my statue after I die, the big three." Mikhail gave a chuckle as he took a drink of his turnip wine. "I push my nation towards greatness not on the battlefield, but in the factories, the studio, the markets, the dinner table. I want Marscurian goods to fill shelves around the world. I want a Masibau car to sit in every garage. I want Marscurian paintings and sculptures to be exhibited in every major museum." Mikhail looked out the window onto the streets below. He beckoned Bridgette to stand at the window with him. From 770 feet off the ground, they could see for miles in the clear summer air. "You see over there," Mikhail said, pointing towards the West, "that rail yard didn't exist before we were here, and now it is the largest port of entry for our nation, and a similar facility now exists near Pyotrgrad." He put his arm around Bridgette and motioned her towards the mouth of the Bira River, where hotel barges continuously entered and exited. "That river was empty before we arrived," Mikhail said, "now it's a major sector of our tourism economy." The pair returned to their table, and Mikhail placed the napkin back in his lap. "This entire city is testament to the Marscurian people and our abilities. The lands this city is built on were thought to be uninhabitable. Nothing but flat plains and swamps that were subject to flooding whenever the spring rains moved in, but look at what we did. Marscurians took this land and built a metropolis. Us, not the Chinese, not the Indians, not the Europeans or the Americans, but Marscurians. You ask me what I dream of, what I want to be remembered for my reign? I want to take our progress and double it! I want it so that if this nation falls into darkness, as so many have before and so many others will, I want history books from around the world to state that there was once a little country in Siberia, and this land was inhabited by strong and smart and good people, and they were led by a great line of leaders called the Khagans, and that for their time on the Earth, these people in this little country brought light to the world."

Edited by KaiserMelech Mikhail
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"I think you sell yourself short Mikhail." Said Bridgette as she pushed around the food on her plate. "The nations that do surround you, I would only say the United Federation is an active world force. Vaule is a regional power yes, but not active beyond their borders. I would suspect that Zargathia barely has an active government within Zargathia itself." She tried to put down a gulp of turnip wine, but found it far too difficult, asking the waiter for a glass of water instead.

"There is a lot of time for Marscurian Siberia to rise to the prestige that you desire. Production is a good start, an active diplomatic corps is another good move. Anything to get your people and the image of your country out to the greater world community. Expanding the military wouldn't be a horrible idea either." She said thinking back to when she was peeking glaces through her morning tour. "Back in Austria, we could always pride ourselves that while our military was small, they fought with ferocity that could win world wars. My family, generations back, was a military family. We fought in the various Nordic Wars as well in civil conflicts in Austria. A strong military is and probably will always be the gateway to a stronger nation, internally and externally."

She reached across the table and took his hand. "I mean look at what you've shown me already. Buildings rising up from the swamps, people happy to live in these cities, a stable nation, and trusted allies. Now is the time to take things into your own hands Mikhail if you want something great for your nation." Bridgette's smile brightened and her eyes sparkled. "And I'd love to see what you can really do."

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Mikhail smiled as he ran his thumb over Bridgette's fingers. "It's funny," he said, "I'm a politician with an interest in botany, and you're a botanist with an interest in politics." His smile quickly vanished. "But clearly, you do not understand our world," he said in a solemn tone. "To serve the nation is one of the greatest honors and ideals instilled into our young people, and yes, as the nation grows, so does the military. We are slowly getting more troops, more tanks, more ships, more planes, but we will never be a power. While service is a virtue, wars today are a vice. The way wars are fought goes against everything a civilized society works for. The destruction of entire cities, the slaughter of millions, the seizure of property and the destruction of entire cultures are some things that I have witnessed in war. Why should the entire border of a nation be filled with fortifications, when a cultural exchange could remove the need for them? Why should I need to hide missiles in the woods when I should never launch them in the first place? How can someone point a gun at you if he has you in an embrace. No Victoria, I believe our path is the correct one. We have enough police to handle the inside, and enough friends to handle the outside. If I must kneel in the jade courts so my men don't fall in the trenches, so be it." Mikhail got up, straightened his tie, and placed a large bill on the table to pay for the meal. "So Miss Kismet, where to next," he said, now with a strangely positive demeanor, "we have the factories of Obluchye, the trade city of Telmana, the cavalry grounds of Amurpet, and everywhere in between."

Edited by KaiserMelech Mikhail
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Bridgette frowned when he mentioned the Jade Courts of the Imperator. Austria and China were now tied and the courts of China was one place should couldn't go. Then again, while she was barred from Austria, that didn't make her the enemy of every branch of the Hapsburg family, though it was a chance was wasn't going to take. Standing up and letting Mikhail take her in his hands and sighed. "Well perhaps one day those things will change. No one should have to submit themselves to another person just to stay independent or safe. Those virtues should come just by being assertive and true to your country. Marscurian Siberia has much more heart than China ever will, I can tell you that right now." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek.

"As to our next destination, I really wouldn't know where to start. Though Telmana sounds like a good place to being. We can go there, but only if you lead the way."

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"Then to the East we must go, m'lady," Mikhail said. The pair took the elevator to the bottom of the building and exited the main front doors onto the street. The car was missing from the spot where it was parked, but it hadn't been stolen, simply moved. "I'll lead the way," Mikhail said, "just take my hand. Where we're going, we don't need roads." Mikhail then began to walk a little faster, then faster still. Soon he was in a jog, that transitioned to a run down the streets of the city. He did all this slowly, as to make sure that Bridgette didn't fall flat on her face. Still holding her hand, Mikhail pulled out a small radio that was hooked into an official network.

"Борис, довести поезд до северной станции[sup]1[/sup]," he said quickly before putting the radio back into his jacket pocket. After a few blocks, the running turned back to walking, as a 30 year-old out-of-shape ruler hit his limitations. But still, it was fun while it lasted. The destination was in sight after a few minutes, the northern station of Mietonka. When they reached the building, their ride was waiting for them. It was the royal train, a splendid sight. Consisting of three rail cars between two opposite-facing locomotives, the train was the fastest thing on Marscurian rails. The middle car was the sitting car, which was where they would spend the two hours of the trip. When the train left the station and finally got up to speed, it was safe to stand up and move around. With sights to see on both sides of the cars, it was likely neither would be sitting very long.

As they entered the Mizrekdik Rayon, all signs of civilization ceased, save the railroad and the highway next to it. Most of the land had just been declared a nature reserve, and was home to some of the rarest animals in all Marscurian Siberia. There were Siberian Tigers, Amur Leopards, and the Ussari Black Bear to name just a few. As the train moved on, it started to slow before grinding to a halt. "Not to worry Victoria," Mikhail said, "just simple construction. We're building a second rail line east to link with Vladivostok. If we can't trust the other Siberians to keep the sea open, we can can always count on the Chinese." Outside, men toiled away with hammers, driving the stakes into the ground to hold the rails in place. It was an archaic method, but it was the only way, as it was nearly impossible to move heavy machinery into the region. With the windows open, Victory could hear the foreman at work.

[sup]2[/sup]"!שטעלן אייער צוריק אין עס מענטשן! ווייַזן די כאַגאַן וואָס מיר קענען טאָן"

[sup]3[/sup]"!איר זענט אַלע אמת פאטריאטן! איר האָבן מיין דאַנק און מיין אַדמעריישאַן" Mikhail shouted back out the window.

A cheer erupted as the train began to move forward again. Suddenly, the trees simply vanished, and they were out in the sun again, fields flanking the track. "Ah, turnips," Mikhail said, sniffing the fresh country air. Turnips and turnip products were Marscurian Siberia's #1 export, and were actually a source of great national pride. However, the ride suddenly turned gloomy, as burnt skeletons of houses began to appear. They were solemn reminders of the nuclear strike that had happened so long ago. Not torn down out of remembrance, they would litter the landscape until they were knocked down by nature and simply rotted away.

Finally, the train began to slow for it's final entry into the city. Heading south of the actual settlement, the train moved onto a side track that led to the train station, where the pair would exit. "Telmana," Mikhail exclaimed, "the greatest of our trade cities. Our only attached port, and farthest east domestic settlement." There was only one true way to see Telmana, and that was from the Amur River. The train station sat only a short distance from the water. Waiting was a riverboat which would carry the pair downstream. Stepping off the dock first, Mikhail helped Bridgette into the boat. Heading to the bow, he held onto the railings as the boat moved forwards. The buildings kept getting bigger and bigger, as did the ships that their craft had to maneuver around. Soon they were right on the banks, and Bridgette got a full look of the [url="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/Skyline-Duluth-20060330.jpg"]waterfront areas[/url]. "What do you think, Victoria," Mikhail said, still looking forward.

OOC: So as you can see, I've put some Russian and Yiddish in the story. I did this as a way for the reader to kind of experience what Bridgette is experiencing, having a language spoken where she has no idea what is being said. I'll put the translations of what I say on the bottom of the post so that you can get it later.

1. Boris, Bring the train to the northern station
2. Put your backs into men! Show the Khagan what we can do!
3. You are all true patriots! You have my thanks and my admiration!

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  • 4 weeks later...

On the river, the boat that the couple was on would pass by the news ticker that was set up at the port. This was an expense that was set up for the sailors coming into the port from all distant lands. All important news was broadcast in the home languages of the nations where the news occurred. On the large boards, Mikhail and Bridgette would see something shocking.

"佛教在泰國瘋了!" (Buddhists in Thailand are crazy!)

No, it wasn't that story, but the one that came immediately afterwards.

"Kaiserin von Österreich dankt! Land ist eine republik!" (Empress of Austria abdicates! Country now a republic!)

Mikhail looked over to Bridgette, who was having trouble hiding her reaction of the news. "Well, I guess the war is really over now," he said to her, before looking back at the ticker.

OOC: A bump for the Lady Tintagyl. Also, shoving the story into the modern time.

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