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Broken Borders

Sarah Tintagyl

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The recent annexation of Zargathia by the United Federation of the East had sent minor vibrations through Asia and the world. However while the news had been pretty much glossed over by the global community, Theresia saw the potential that the collapse of the Zargathian state could cause problems in the Federation's future. The people of Manchuria had been ruled under Queen Amyante for sometime and now would find themselves ruled by another Empress, they had both been from Europe and both had been from liberal schools of thought. However, now it was time for a clean transfer of power between the past regime to the present.

From what Theresia had discovered of Amyante, she was an independent woman who had ruled her country with as much independence and compassion as any modern leader. It was the field of realpolitik that had done her in and perhaps if she had someone who could guide her, relate to her problems, and shape her mind to the trials and tribulations of modern politics. Zargathia, it's people, and it's queen could become the loyal citizens that Jia wanted in the first place, but who would also fit into the liberal and progressive environment that was sweeping and hopefully would continue to grow within the Federation.

Thus, a small missive was sent to the Former Queen, Amyante, from Empress Maria Theresia asking for her audience in the Imperial Court at Qingyuan to speak, privately, between women about the future of Zargathia, Amyante's opinions on the situation, the UFE's viewpoints and other. The entire meeting would be private and the Empress hoped that it would mend the broken bonds between the two regions of the Federation and cement stability throughout Asia.



My sincerest hopes are that you will be able to make it to Qingyuan very soon and we can engage in the type of dialogue benefiting two ladies. What has happened is part of the cycle of politics, but there are positives on both sides for our people and I hope we can discuss them.

I look forward to meeting, Your Excellency, with much haste.


Maria Theresia[/i]

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The reply would be a fast one indeed. It seemed that with the loss of her official status as head of state, came a great deal of free time.

[quote]I would definitely be interested in such a meeting. One of the benefits of my reign had been that during the formation of the Zargathian Railways, i was given a free life-long pass for its use. Though i of course no longer have a claim on use of special means of transportation, i should nevertheless be able to make it to Qingyuan without much delay.

Looking forward to our meeting,

Amyante Tojimaru[/quote]

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Upon Amyante's arrival in Qingyuan, she would fine the Forbidden Palace of the Imperial Court alive with trappings of both Chinese and High European culture. The uniforms of the guards had not changed and the guards throughout the walks still kept their Oriental beauty, however far within the palace she could hear the shill sounds of chamber violins singing out divertimentoes for a particularly European audience. Things indeed had changed since the conception of the Federation, the blend that was found in Ehestadt could be seen throughout, though in everything, the sense of honor, respect, and humility was kept supreme.

A Federation guard would not receive her at the gates of the palace, instead, the Empress made sure to send her personal entourage to welcome the Former Queen and bring her inside. A woman of Russian origin in fact, dressed in a saffron gown with her brown hair tied up in a tight bun bowed at the gates, escorted by two Chinese men in white with rapiers at their sides.

"Good Afternoon, Madame Tojimaru, Her Majesty, Maria Thersia is waiting for you in the library upstairs. If you would follow me and the guards, we can take you to her."

From there they journeyed through the palace, along the stone and wooden walkways and walls where statues of the Chinese greats. Past emperors, political leaders, and busts of Jia and his associates themselves could be found throughout the halls and staircases leading towards the Empress' library. Stopping at the door, the Russian woman knocked twice before Theresia called out from within to enter. The doors were opened and the maid and the guards disappeared as Theresia stood and bowed her head to Amyante as the Former Queen walked in.

"Madame Tojimaru, at last I can see you face to face." The Empress smiled. "Please, sit with me. We have history to discuss and your people's part in it's future."

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[url=http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/167607_175163212527415_175140769196326_376722_2415445_n.jpg]Amyante[/url] would exit the car that had brought her to the Forbidden Palace from the train station, and when she was approached by the three people that announced they had been sent to escort her inside, she bowed back respectfully. She was no longer a Queen, and though she felt honored to still be treated as one she felt it would only be natural to show them the courtesy they were showing her in turn.

She followed the guards inside, looking at the various paintings. Some she recognized, others she didn't and suspected those to be based more in the middle to southern areas of the historical Federation where their influence hadn't reached Zargathia as strongly as it had affected the UFE's past. After noticing the guards stop, she did too, her mind still on identifying some of the faces she was sure to have seen somewhere at one point, though their names still eluded her. She recognized Theresia from the Stahl Ball, and was quick to bow in order to not let Theresia be the first to do so. As a result, they ended up bowing to one another in unison, which was as good a concession as any.

- "Your words honor me Empress. Again, my thanks for the invitation."

Smiling at Lady Theresia, she went inside, taking a seat when it was offered to her. As much as she hated to admit it, she too was getting older over the years, and longer journeys were starting to become more taxing.

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[i]"Your words honor me Empress. Again, my thanks for the invitation."[/i]

"It isn't a problem Madame, though please, call me Theresia and if I may call you Amy it would make this entire process much easier." The Empress gestured for food and green tea to be brought in to both of them and she leaned back looking at the blonde woman in front of her. "I know that your history is not distinctly Asian, but a long amalgamation of European and dare I say, Australian ancestry. It gives you quite the resume, Amy and I would like to know that even that your country has been brought under the ruler of the Federation if there is still a part that you, a person of influence can play."

Theresia reached for a cup of tea that had been brought and smiled. "What I would like to know first is your opinion of what has happened in these past months and years between your nation and the Federation. From there we can balance out our individual thoughts and biases and concentrate on the future. Overall, I want to see a future where Asia is stable, where Zargathia is loyal to the Federation and where the Federation graciously treats it's citizens, in a philosophy of equality."

She smiled and crossed her legs. "So tell me, what have these years done to you?"

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Amyante looked surprised at Lady Theresia's words. It wasn't the proposal to call one another by their first names but rather what came after that that she couldn't quite understand.

- "Australian? I can understand European since i was born in Proxia, but... How did you come by Australian ancestry, if i may ask?"

She failed to suppress a grin at the question asked by Theresia though, bringing her hand up to cover a chuckle.

- "The years are... Well, let's just say that i suffer from the same illness that makes all [i]old people[/i] stop counting their birthdays. Other than that, they find me in surprisingly good health, and aside from my hair losing its color i have nothing to complain looking into a mirror. Heh, [i]when one is young, all they want is to become older, when one is old, all they want is to become younger[/i]... Surprising how true that is, but as we all find out firsthand it takes being old to realize it."

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[i]"Australian? I can understand European since i was born in Proxia, but... How did you come by Australian ancestry, if i may ask?"[/i]

"I was under the assumption that there some Australian ancestry from the Hanseatics in your territory. But I could be wrong, I do not know the history of your people as well as other nations in the reason. Which in truth is the reason for this visit."

Then Theresia chuckled at Amy's response to her question and nodded in return. "I know, if we could all have the elixir of life to make us forever young, I would think of taking a few sips myself. But such things are myths and legends of old, no more practical then the rumors of men turning into dragons. However, what I would also like to know is how you have begun adjusting to this new lifestyle, as a Former Queen, and how your people are adjusting to their new rule. Zargathia has a lot of potential within the Federation and I would say, so you do, if you play your cards correctly. This is a fragile world we live in, but I have seen you speak and I am impressed at your ability. I would like to perhaps take you under my wing, Amy, in helping Zargathia develop as a section of the Federation and make sure that the transfer will go peacefully and without mishap. It would be a shame if your story ended, so abruptly."

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Amyante grinned at the story of an elixir of life. While she knew some people that took their age exceptionally well, she believed herself lucky to count herself among them. Maybe it was an environment thing, pollution had remained at an near constant low throughout her entire reign after all.

- "Actually, the Hanseats living in Zargathia came from Taeunas, making them Finnish, not Australian. We received a decent inflow of immigrants after the fall of the Hanseatic Commonwealth, but... around a fifth of our population are ancestral Finns. It is a common mistake though, at its height the Hanseatic Commonwealth had protectorates across half the world."

She folded her hands together, leaning her head against them as she thought.

- "My story... Actually, there's not much to tell. I've done my share to fight nationalism and ethnic intolerance and so has the UFE, but we sometimes came to blows over the best ways to go about it. And when that happened several times in a row... well, you know how that ended. Diplomatic insults, the Qingyuan Diktat, arguments over the Qingyuan Diktat eventually culminating in a shouting match between the UFE observers and myself in the presence of the Emperor of the Lu Empire... It wasn't very pretty."

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"Ah, my apologies." Theresia nodded as the Former Queen explained the Finnish background compared to the Australian one. "That is nearly ancient history for some of us, but I'm glad you pay attention to the annals, Amy, it speaks a great deal of your character."

Then taking a more somber look, the Empress began to fall into the conversation of why she had brought the Zargathian to the palace in the first place. "The Federation, Amy, does want the best for both your people and your region. Asia, has come a long way from the warring states that existed well before Austria's existence and even some time before that and the Federation has a great deal to do with that, likewise Cochin and Vaule. Zargathia too, however it would seem that your nation's histories and philosophies generally conflicted with the histories and philosophies of the Chinese. Thus we find ourselves where we are today. I cannot with good conscious promise you anything, however, I do know that my husband with a bit of shoulder tapping," Theresia chuckled, "Can be persuaded to look at a situation with a new eye.

You have a nation with a very interesting history and one that has made Asia more colorful because of it, however, the present framework has caused conflict. Knowing so much about your people, what is the best way that some manner of cooperation can be achieved by these two forces to make Asia, the Federation, and your people themselves, strong and more prosperous? Of course, perhaps if there is a way, you could even have a part in such a future. But again, I make no promises."

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Amyante looked at Theresia, the look on her face clearly torn on whether or not to say something. Whatever the decision may have been, the words she eventually decided on were more diplomatic, testing the waters, so to speak.

- "I only wish that would apply to [i]all[/i] of the Federation, Theresia..."

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Theresia sighed and stood up from her seat and extended her hand. "Amy, come with me, I'd like to show you something." Picking up the girl, the Empress took her to the window where from the palace library they could see far off into the distance towards the east. It was a picturesque view as the landscape of China in front of them bended to and fro between valleys, rivers, and mountains.

"I believe you are mistaken on what the Federation stands for, what makes it run so smoothly, like a piece of clockwork." She said turning to Amy. "Of course there are gears that are misshapen and some rot away, the clock needs fixing every now and then, but over all, we do fairly well in the Federation compared to many other countries around us. My husband as become much more humble in these past years and I hope that he will continue to do so. While other nations flaunt their technological genius and attempt to dominate the world, we have only had one goal and that is to maintain stability and peace in Asia. To do this, however, you must treat the people you govern with the same love that you show to everyone. Are there problems in the country? Of course, but nations who seem to have no problems at all, well, they hide within themselves. But I can assure you that every part of this nation is dedicated to the creation of prosperity and stability for it's people."

She leaned over and took Amy by the shoulder. "I know it doesn't seem that way, given the recent events. But things do change, the future of a people is never set in stone."

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Amyante signed as she looked over the landscape, not because she disagreed with Theresia in how a nation should be run, but because it would be hard to tell her just what she wanted to say. The future may not have been set in stone, but unless people put their backs into it it might as well be.

- "Oh i agree, it's just... well, to use your analogy it's like some of the pieces are turning the wrong way. Especially concerning the events of the past few months, i have serious suspicions that there are nationalist, maybe even fascist elements within the UFE government itself."

The look on her face told that it was hard for her to find the right words to use, to effectively tell the Empress of a nation dedicated to fighting fascism that that which it viewed as a disease had infected themselves as well. [i]'When one stares into the Abyss...'[/i]

- "Don't get me wrong, i believe your husband knows nothing of this either. When i met him during the signing of the Unification Treaty, he came across as a man who is convinced that what he does is right, who truly believes that his actions lead to peace and stability... I feel he is being used."

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Narrowing her eyes suspiciously at the woman next to her and clasped her hands to the small of her back. "And what proof do you have of this, Amy? You realize that those are fairly egregious claims to make on the Federation's government, especially the claims about Fascism. Nationalism, on the other hand, well, I think deep down everyone is a nationalist, my husband included. Jia's dream has always been a unified China under one banner and we have yet to achieve such a goal. I imagine that you have a bit of nationalist within you as well, it might explain your claims against the state."

She turned away from the window and picked up her cup of tea. "Something just seems amiss. How could you know something about the country, when my husband, myself, or any of our advisors have not seen this display of fascism." Theresia's eyes rose up and sparkled dangerously. "Do you know something Amy?"

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- "Well, that's the thing, it's more a gathering of circumstantial evidence. The problem is that Jia is a proud man, and if i brought this up with him he'd have been so insulted he'd invade. We'd get [i]nuked[/i] over this. Now that i am no longer a head of state or connected to the government i can at least bring this up without reprecussions on a national level, but the reason i planned to discuss this with Cochin was to get a second, impartial opinion on this."

She took a sip from her tea, more intended to calm herself down than anything, but there was a nervousness inside of her that just seemed to refuse to leave. While it was good that Theresia at least wanted to hear her out, she was far from having left the minefield.

- "It's the different approach i was referring to. Zargathia has always believed that fascism is based upon strong nationalist feelings, and for that reason has always opposed colonialism. Allow me to explain. In India for example, during British rule there were nearly twice as many famines as in the previous seven centuries put together, while there was a food surplus in every province at the time, simply because the food was being shipped to the nations of the imperialists. [url=http://monthlyreview.org/2009/07/01/the-world-food-crisis-in-historical-perspective]At one point[/url] India was exporting ten million tons of food while twelve to twenty five million of its people were dying of hunger. It created feelings of oppression, contempt and nationalism amongst the population that, had Ghandi not come along when he did, would have led to civil war or perhaps even a nationalist coup. The same was true in practically every Asian colony, when the Japanese started to invade, many groups, even anti-fascist ones, supported the actions of the Japanese simply because they drove out the imperialists that oppressed them."

She shifted her seat slightly, trying to read the expression on Theresia's face before continuing on.

- "Zargathia has always believed that this situation was one to avoid at all costs. If fascists and anti-fascists showed a willingness to cooperate for a common goal, even an unintended one, then would it not make sense to conclude that colonialism is actually worse than fascism would be? Continuing along that line of thought, if Germany was not forced to undergo economical oppression in the form of the terms of the First World War even though they had not instigated it, would Hitler have risen to power? If Perry's Black Ships hadn't forced Japan to abandon its isolationist policies, would there have been a Pearl Harbor? Likewise, the invasion of the former Xinyan Republic -- which could be compared to Perry's Black Ships by the way -- answering our protests with sanctions which ultimately resulted in the Qingyuan Diktat was in itself a process that led to a textbook case of neocolonial imperialism, right down to the reliance on our rare earth deposits mined in Inner Mongolia. The Qingyuan Diktat was, in short, a document that would have led to feelings of oppression and international intolerance which would have been a feeding ground for ultranationalism, perhaps even fascism. It would not have taken a month, it would not have taken a year, but in five to ten years there would have been someone rallying the people to fight back using natinalist 'us against them' propaganda, and there would have been a coup that would turn Zargathia into something i fought hard to remain free of, and there would have been war."

- "Zargathian foreign policy has always fought these beliefs through the formation of diplomatic ties. By always being friendly and aiming to have good relations with Japan, with Korea, with Mongolia, we were directly undermining the main pillar that led to nationalist intolerance, itself a feeding ground for fascism. The Empress of Japan had been one of my best friends, it... physically [i]hurt[/i] having to renounce my ties with them because our method was effective, despite our weak military we had not once been invaded up to the UFE's forced entrance into the former Xinyan Republic. Which makes this a situation of, to use your words, 'something seems amiss'. My military advisers were almost unanimous pointing out that the UFE's wars hadn't exactly weakened its position. Japan gave it free access to the Pacific, Korea gave it uncontested dominance over the East China Sea, Mongolia -- which was invaded over diplomatic insults of a far weaker nature than what we were exposed to -- gave Jia his ancestral lands back, and Zargathia had always been right in the middle of it, separating all these territories from one another. Some even voiced suspicions by saying the Japanese attack on the [i]Pride of Guangzhou[/i] was staged by the UFE itself, that the PLAN [url=http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=90342]Red October[/url] had been modified to implicate the Japanese. And the Lu... The UFE has veto rights over their decisions, should relations worsen and this right be exercised, i can honestly see them going into the same direction i narrowly avoided for my own nation. It's as if the UFE is willingly trying to instigate war at times, it is frightening. It's not [i]consistent[/i] policy thankfully, meaning that these elements do not have a firm grasp on the UFE's policies, but going by my gut feeling i am convinced that they are there."

Amyante took a deep breath, looking visibly relieved now that she had finally had the opportunity to share her concerns. It had been a while since she had carried these secrets with her, and for the first time in what felt like forever, her heart felt lighter again. She took a sip of tea again, moistening her lips before leaning forward to Theresia, folding her hands as she looked with concern.

- "Now, with the UFE's only notable remaining land borders being those it shares with Cochin and Vauleya, there is a chance that these elements, should i be right about their existence, will move on to influence Austria. I hypothesize that they would reach for Germany first, aiming for a reversed Anschluss with German speaking nations, before instigating something with Dalmatia to eventually border Cochin on two fronts... Again, i seriously hope i am wrong, but... I felt i needed to tell this to someone. I don't want to run the risk of having been right and not having told anyone."

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