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The Outpost


Sarah Tintagyl

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The fields of southern Zargathia blew in a dry wind as a low summer sun worked its way below the horizon. In the distance, a stone column stood in the waste, the last memorial on Asia of the once great nation. A column that was dedicated to those brave souls of the Hanseatic Commonwealth who gave their lives in defense of the Asian Holdings during the Yellow Turban rebellion. She reached down to the soil and dug into the dry Earth with her hands, it cracked and blew away in the breeze as her hair whipped around her face as her coat below perpendicular to her body. A piece of crumbled paper rested in her outer hand, she weakly held one to it, it had been the draft of the note that she had sent the ruler of Zargathia as a regret for have never responded to her first request for a meeting. Another ruler who she had failed another people that Sarah felt indebted to. The paper, in her usual hand writing was laconic.

You said you wanted to meet. I am here.

-Sarah

It slipped from her hands and fluttered off on to the steppes.

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The sound of a helicopter could be heard, and if Sarah would be looking in the direction the sound was coming from she would see the Hind that Amyante used for transportation arriving at... pretty much as fast as it could go. After the landing, the Zargathian ruler climbed out of the helicopter, hitting the side twice to signal that she was out. Though the pilot (and Airforce Commander) called Sergei remained seated, the engines remained on, though running stationary awaiting to be used soon again. Amyante walked up to Sarah and gave her a hug, shouting slightly to be heard over the sound of the helicopter behind her.

- "Sarah! Hi, how've you been!"

The former Hanseatic leader looked a bit down, but she figured it was likely due to visiting the monument. A lot of people died in this area, and even though she hadn't been dragged into the conflict coming here still made her somewhat uneasy, reminding her of the debt she felt she owed to the world -- and Sarah in particular.

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Sarah returned the hug, with a soft embrace and smiled as she looked down at Amyante staring back up at her. The girl's optimism made Sarah's eyes light up, if only for a moment before staring back into the wind near where the stone column stood alone. "I'm good Amy, I..I'm good." She smiled. "I feels that its been a long time since we last spoke, since the Hansa fell. I feel horrible that I never answered the letter you sent me before, after you just took hold of Manchuria, so I have to apologize for that, but as you can tell the past few weeks have been, at best, hectic, but I am here now." She looked off in the distance where the letter was still traveling in the breeze. "You needed to see me. May I ask what for?"

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Amyante felt a bit relieved to hear that Sarah was doing good despite stepping back from politics. It happened on occasion that people lived for their work, and after they'd retire they'd just curl up in a corner from having nothing to do. In that light, it was a good thing that Sarah had enough things left on her plate, though from the sound of it she was still looking for the right balance. Tehee.

As she asked the reason of the summons, the grin slipped for a second, and she cast a somewhat embarrassed look around to see if there was anyone that could overhear her. There wasn't, obviously, but she still checked anyway. Clearing her throat, she leaned over, speaking in a tone that spoke of her reluctance to talk about the topic in question.

- "Well umm... Back when i was securing the military bases, i umm... kind of found something. I can't sell them, can't move them, can't talk about them in public and i definitely can't use them, so i was hoping you'd... know someone who can help?"

She sighed, this wasn't helping. She kept finding herself dancing around the subject. It was one of those things where one wanted to bring up a problem they were having, and yet were afraid of the answer, or in this case the reaction. She liked Sarah, and would have considered her a friend even if Zargathia wouldn't have been founded on land formerly owned by her, but... How did nation leaders talk about this kind of thing anyway?

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Sarah's eyes narrowed in curiosity as she stared at Amyante, while the leader fumbled through her words. Just having left Haruhi in the Russian Provinces, Sarah knew that she could be, well stern at times, and perhaps a more formidable figure. Her pistol and her sword may have had the effect, as well as her high boots, freshly polished shining in the setting sun of the steppes. Laying her hand on Amyante's shoulder she smiled, her eyes twinkling. "Amy, please, no need to beat around the bush. Just explain what you need from me or what I have to do for you and I'll help in anyways I see fit. All right? But there's no need to hide it, or talk around it, just tell me." Sarah's smile was genuine, calming, welcoming, and friendly and she hoped that would be enough to dispel the worry in Amy's voice and movements and figure out just why she had been called out to Zargathia.

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The hand on Amyante's shoulder managed to calm her nerves somewhat, and though she still appeared distressed she at least stopped fidgeting. Sarah had spoken the truth, she had been the one to call her out here and the least she could do was let her know why her initial request had been marked as urgent.

- "Okay. There's no easy way to say this, but.... I've found nukes. I don't have the technology to safely handle radioactive material, no idea what to do with it either aside from trying to shove it in a nuclear power plant for some extra juice, but yeah... It's not something you ask around about."

She took a deep breath, resisting the urge to start fidgeting again as she searched for words that would not come. After several broken attempts, she shrugged as she shook her head, her stance clearly showing that she had absolutely no idea what she was supposed to do next.

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OOC: When you said surprise...this wasn't what I was expecting... :o...I'd like some OOC explanation of the back story of this as well cause this isn't legal cause you don't have nukes...but I guess to get rid of them is fine.

Sarah sighed and turned back out towards the plains, clenching her fist as her brief smile that she had given to Amy faded away as quick as the wind blowing the dust against the ground. The Altin Urda period, or perhaps the Yamato period had not quite disappeared from the annals of world history yet and their mistakes where still turning up, whether in the forms of forced culturalization or the remnants of a defeated empire from long ago. But neither of them had the capabilities of dealing with nuclear weapons, Sarah herself without a nation to call her own and Amyante, a nation that didn't even have the capabilities to produce nuclear energy, let alone handle nuclear weapons. But there were greater responsibilities here and if the two of them were incapable of correcting this problem, they would then need to turn to outside forces.

"Amy, this...this is unexpected and very dangerous." She took a deep breath. "If these are Yamato nukes then they need to be treated with the utmost caution. I can't do anything honestly, however, I would suggest opening channels with various nations in Europe or the Dragon Empire. Any nation that is nuclear capable, they have scientists and personnel that can handle this thing. I appreciate you bringing this up to me as a sign of trust. But I am in no position to help you in anyway through this. You need to find nuclear nations to help here, otherwise the effects could be dire to Zargathia."

She turned away from the girl. "But getting rid of these will finally eradicate the sins of the past."

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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OOC: It's me RPing my ingame Uranium trade actually... If they're not usable i don't need to have them ingame to RP them here. :P

IC:

Amyante sighed as Sarah said what she had honestly expected she would have. She was against nuclear weapons, had all but guaranteed she would never have any, and yet here they were, thrust upon her. Selling them to another nation would mean they could potentially be used, determinedly ruling that out as a possibility. And even if she had wanted to, she didn't have the launch codes either, as they had been lost when the computer they had been stored on was destroyed in the fighting to remove the Anarchists during Zargathia's founding. Amyante ran a hand through her hair, resisting the urge to pull it in frustration.

- "i know, but... Ahh, how do you bring up something like this? The Dragon Empire has more than enough nukes already and judging by the latest set of wars the Europeans are nuts... When i thought of people level headed enough the only person i could think of was you..."

She took a deep breath, placing a hand on the monument, tracing the names of the fallen written on it. She didn't want 'her' nukes to stain her conscience by actually being used, creating a much longer list of names for which she would be to blame.

- "...And then you stepped down from politics. Not blaming you or anything, but yeah... Got any recommendations if i'm not going to sell them?"

Edited by Amyante
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Sarah smiled at her innocence and a tone struck a chord. There were many leaders in the world, but as the Valkyrie of Peace stared down at the Zargathian Queen, she saw a bit of herself staying back at her. The innocence of her youth had all but vanished in the years she had served as the Hanseatic Lady Protector, her features rough, her body toughened by stress, travel, and training, her eyes seeing more death, agony, and suffering than most people should ever have had to seen in their lives. It had been the reason Sarah had come so far in her life, had come to transform into a new person, and it had been the reason that she had left Brisbane. However, as with Haruhi, a new generation of leaders had arisen in the world and to her credit, they had founded themselves on ideals that while not necessarily Tintagylian, were ideologies that would doubt continue to push the world in the direction of unity, but a unity that was diverse and multicultural, something that Sarah had strove for her entire life.

"I'm sorry that I couldn't have responded sooner, but even the Hansa didn't have the capabilities to deal with nuclear weapons and you're right, we can't let these fall into the wrong hands." Sarah thought for a moment and then smiled. "Amy, I want you to send a letter to a Mr. Anthony Harlem from Promised Land, tell him that you discovered these nukes and you need to get rid of them, he should be able to help. In addition, tell him an old friend is still alive and well and will bump into him in the future."

She touched Amy on the cheek and her eyes sparkled. "I see so much of my innocence in you Amy and you've grown so much since Taeunas. Promise me that you'll never become the monster that I've become. Promise me you will always hold onto this innocence."

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Amyante looked a bit surprised as Sarah touched her on the cheek, obviously looking... not as good as she claimed she had been at the beginning of their meeting. She made a mental note of the name, but decided not to ask about it, instead casting a worried look at the former Hanseatic leader as she touched the hand that was on her cheek with one of her own.

- "Monster? Sarah, when i look at everything you've done, i would never call you that... Without you, the world would have destroyed itself thrice over and you and I both know it. You resurrected the White Cross, talked down nations from threatening war. You even went to Taeunas to rescue a silly girl and a handful of self-proclaimed revolutionaries... Those are not the acts of a monster. A little more self confidence please."

She smiled at that last part, trying to lighten the mood with a small joke. Part of her wanted to keep Sarah with her, afraid she might end up doing something to herself in her current mood, but she knew she didn't have the right to take the freedom of a woman she owed so much to. It would be Sarah's choice to make, though she was honestly a bit relieved at her promise to meet this Mr. Harlem at some point in the future.

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"I'll take it with me. Always." She touched her heart and gave a soft smile to the girl. "But please don't worry about me Amy, I've...I've been through a lot in my life. I just need time to think about what I'm going to do next. Try and define myself, what my life is about, where this road is supposed to take me. All that kind of stuff." Sarah said with a laugh. "But thank you for telling me that I'm better than I make myself out to be, that goes a lot way, it really helps, honestly."

Stepping back from the Queen, Sarah looked out into the setting sun in the west and began to walk down the hill of dead grass and dry soil. "If you ever need my Amy, I'll be here, I still pay attention to the world, so I'm never far. I promise." She looked back. "Good luck, and please tell Anthony I said hello." With that she turned face once again and disappeared into the fading red light.

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Amyante sighed as Sarah replied, knowing she could not force her to stay. She had to trust Sarah that she was doing the right thing, the woman was so much more experienced than her it would have felt wrong to claim to know better. Still, she would honor Sarah's request and say helloto Anthony for her, while keeping quiet about her worry for the woman she saw as her mentor, in a way. Watching her leave, she waited until she was completely gone before turning back to the helicopter.

- "Right Sergei, take us back home... I got what i needed."

While that was true, in a way, since she had given the name of a contact she could trust, she couldn't help but look out of the window in silence as the Hind took her back to Qiqiha'er where she would be spending the night. Tomorrow she would make the call to Promised Land. But first, she needed some time to process the state of mind Sarah appeared to have slipped in, and couldn't help but wonder whether it was a cause or a result of her stepping down from politics in the first place...

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A message was sent to the Promised Land Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The message was sealed with the Royal Zargathian Seal (OOC: see avatar) and marked as Classified and Top Secret, and the absence of a postal stamp would tell that the envelope had most likely been delivered by a member of the Zargathian Secret Service that would be trusted with a message of high importance. Though she didn't know what rank Anthony Harlem had in Promised Land -- if he wasn't the leader he could get in trouble for receiving foreign mail like that! -- she figured it would be worth the risk. In the letter would be the following message.

Dear Mr. Harlem,

My apologies for the vagueness of the wording in this letter, but as it involves matters of State Security it is considered necessary lest this message fall into the wrong hands.

A particularly sensitive problem has come up, and a mutual friend referred me to you as one who might offer a solution. Please contact me personally in Zargathia to arrange a meeting at a time convenient for the both of us, where i may afford to mention the specifics.

Awaiting your reply,

Queen Amyante Tojimaru

Zargathia.

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Seeing it was marked as classified, Theodore Jameson, the head of the Diplomatic corps (and thus all foreign affairs) knew immediately to forward it to the man it was addressed to, no questions asked. Administrator Anderson had made it clear that while he couldn't reveal the exact nature of his profession, Anthony Harlem was more than he seemed.

Upon reading the letter, his sixth sense activated. Though no indication was given that the Queen knew who he was, the very fact that the letter had been addressed to him specifically indicated that SOMEONE had told her to talk to him.

Sitting down, he drafted a very brief reply.

Miss Tojimaru,

I will be there as soon as possible. You'll know me by the emblem on my clothing, a pair of swords crossed over a shield on my shoulder. I will arrive in front of your place of residence alone--make sure that you have someone you trust assigned to watch for me.

~Mr. Anthony Harlem

Within two hours, he was on a passenger airline to Zargathia. Within a half-day, he was in the country. To most, he was just another anonymous traveler, unless they happened to watch the news from Europe, and they looked closely at his face. Then they would notice a near perfect resemblance to the Finnish President Uberstein.

Except his hair was not fully grey, but still mostly pure black.

In any case, it was not difficult to find the Queen's residence...something like that was hardly going to be hidden from the public. Another hour saw him within sight of the palace (OOC: It is a palace, right?/OOC), and there he waited. His own letter should have arrived by now, so he had calculated right, he shouldn;t have long to wait...

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OOC: It is, though it would be a converted Harbin City Hall. In the city center though, with some amount of park around it.

IC:

Anthony wouldn't have to look long to recognise the person Amyante trusted with the task of waiting for him... Namely herself. Her Chief of Security flanked her as a bodyguard, looking a bit restless at being forced to do nothing, but her discomfort had been kept to simply walking up and down the path. Spotting Anthony, or more precisely the emblem on his shoulder, the two women exchanged a nod, and Ulrica went inside, leaving the Queen with the visitor.

- "Ah hello, Mr. Harlem i assume? Again, my apologies for the secrecy. Would you like a cup of tea?"

Her voice would sound a bit nervous, the fact that she had been waiting personally proof of how out of options she felt she was on the matter. She had turned around, opening the door and beckoning for him to follow her inside. Once there, her Chief of Security joined them in an elevator, where a hidden panel was removed to reveal a keyhole. Ulrica took a key from a necklace hanging around her neck, inserted it and twisted, after which the elevator moved to an apparently secret floor below ground. During the trip Amyante remained silent, though sending a nervous smile Anthony's way every once in a while.

- "Almost there... Shouldn't take long. Would you prefer Earl Grey or Darjeeling?"

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OOC: Whew. Don't need to edit anything then. :)

IC: he raised a single eyebrow when he saw that it was the Qqueen herself. This was even more serious than he'd been led to believe, if she wasn't sure how much she could trust anyone else with this information.

Accompanied by a woman who could only be a bodyguard, of course, but it was her nonetheless.

"Ah hello, Mr. Harlem i assume? Again, my apologies for the secrecy. Would you like a cup of tea?"

At the moment? Not really, but her voice had a nervous edge to it. It would only be polite to accept it. It might give her something to concentrate on other than being nervous. So he nodded in the affirmative, smiling in a way he hoped was reassuring, and followed her as inside and into the elevator.

Serreptitiously, he studied the guard without seeming to, analyzing her movements to try and figure out just how professional she was. He caught Amyante's uneasy smiles, once again prompting him to try and send a reassuring smile back in the Queen's direction.

"Almost there... Shouldn't take long. Would you prefer Earl Grey or Darjeeling?"

"I actually have no preference," he responded, betraying another fact. Not only did he strongly physically resemble the Finnish President, he sounded almost exactly like Uberstein, too.

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A short while later, the elevator doors opened, revealing... what appeared to be a rather cozy looking living room. If one would be expecting a bunker or nerve center they would be mistaken, as these were Amyante's personal living quarters and pretty much the one place she would be certain there would be no one listening in that shouldn't be. Never having seen or heard Überstein before the reference was lost to her, though she did get the impression that it sounded familiar somewhere, as if she had heard it before (OOC: Television). After the two of them sat down, she turned to Anthony while Ulrica went off to brew some tea and grab a beer for herself.

- "Right... I'm going to be a tad direct here. During the establishment of the Zargathian Transitional Government back when the nation was founded, we came across some nuclear weaponry. I don't have the technology nor trained personnel to either maintain or decommission them, and since i don't have the launch codes either they are a potential liability as well. I call Sarah Tintagyl, and she referred me to you as someone who could help. Discreetly of course, though i assume you've guessed as much."

She leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees as she talked, feeling uncomfortable with the idea of being seen as a nuclear power. It would change diplomacy quite a bit, would make nations wary of her... and that would have been the opposite of what she was trying to achieve in Asia in the first place.

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He wasn't sure what he had been expecting to see when the elevator doors opened, but it wasn't what he did see.

That did not mean he was displeased with the sight--on the contrary, a small smile graced his lips as he took a seat. Any last suspicions he'd had that she might be a little naive when it came to security measures were erased. Her own personal living quarters were bound to be the most secure location in her entire nation.

Anthony's face betrayed little, if anything, as the Queen revealed what was on her mind, though he cocked his head at a curious angle as he considered her words, and almost smiled when she mentioned Sarah. So that explained why she had come to him.

"I think I see your dilemma. You could easily be considered the heir to the peaceful legacy of the Commonwealth. Intentional or not, you are trying to build an image, a model of peace. An image that would be shattered if the existence of these weapons were known to the public."

Now that carefully neutral expression shifted to another reassuring smile. "The simplest solution would, of course, be for my nation to send technicians with the proper equipment and knowhow to dismantle these weapons. Barring that, the missiles could be transferred to Promised Land and decommissioned there. Which would you prefer?"

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Amyante nodded as Anthony touched the core of the problem. She had never been a supporter of nuclear weaponry, and one of the claims she had quite openly made was that she would refrain from posessing nuclear weaponry. Which made the situation she was in... quite uncomfortable.

- "Indeed. I've always preferred to be open about my policies and the workings of my government, but i wish to be known as a leader that uses diplomacy as her main weapon. If i were to own nuclear missiles it would be nothing short of disastrous."

She thought of the available options once more. Transferring the missiles meant that sooner or later, missile silos would have to be opened, events which she didn't doubt would set off every alarm in Asia and practically stab her objectives in the face. Which left decommissioning them 'on site', so to speak. Still, there was a question on her mind, one she lacked the knowledge to answer.

- "Before i answer, i have a question. I know little of nuclear technology myself, so forgive me if this sounds a little malinformed... What could be done with the Uranium? Would it be possibly to, say, upgrade a nuclear power plant with it? Somehow, encasing it in lead and concrete and waiting until it's finished irradiating its surroundings feels a lot like ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away on its own."

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Indeed, it would be a disastrous turn for her nation and its policies were it discovered that they possessed these weapons.

He gave due thought to the question she posed. "Well...I'm not a complete expert on the subject, but I do know it is the same isotope of uranium that is used in both power plants and weapons. I don't see why the uranium couldn't be used for such purposes once it is extracted from the missiles, as long as all standard safety precautions are taken. Now that you mention it, to bury it would seem not only like ignoring the problem, but also a waste of a valuable resource, if you ask me."

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Amyante sighed in relief as she heard that it would be possible to use the Uranium for something other than weaponry. Which brought up an interesting scenario.

- "So, would you be willing to send some technicians over to have the Uranium removed, and subsequently have them installed in existing power plants to upgrade their capacity? That way, we could avoid the risk of transporting Uranium halfway across the ocean, with the current surge of terrorism and everything."

Leaning back in her seat a bit, she couldn't help wondering about something. The one thing Zargathia and Promised Land had in common was that they were both led by people Sarah trusted and counted among her circle of personal friends, making the next step... rather obvious, really.

- "Say, now that you're here... Would you be interested in signing a treaty by any chance?"

Edited by Amyante
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"I would be more than happy to have the technicians sent over. They will, of course, also make sure all safety precautions are taken at any power plants utilizing this resource. Just because it can be beneficial, we should not forget that it is still potentially deadly."

"Say, now that you're here... Would you be interested in signing a treaty by any chance?"

He folded his hands and raised his eyebrow, and the expression his face took was decidedly odd. It could be described as amused and curious, but also thoughtful...and wary.

"What makes you think I'm authorized to sign treaties?"

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Amyante chuckled at the reply. She hadn't considered the possibility that Anthony might not be the leader of a nation, but all things considered she believed it to be very likely. Regaining her composure, she explained her thoughts.

- "Well, for one thing you are authorized to get nuclear technicians out of Promised Land without needing permission. Also, i sent the letter addressed to you to the Promised Land Ministry of Foreign Affairs with just the name on the envelope and you received it with barely any delay, telling me your name was known to them. Add to that that your first reaction to hearing i had nuclear weapons were the political consequences, and i would conclude that you're fairly high up the political chain. You might be the Promised Land leader or you might not be, but my guess is you're allowed to negotiate on Promised Land's behalf either way. And besides, if Sarah believes you can keep something the size of nuclear missiles quiet you'd have to have a high position or you'd end up having to answer to too many people to keep the secret."

She smiled at Anthony, the look in her eyes confident but with a hint of doubt giving away that she wasn't entirely sure if she had it right. Of course, everything she had said was based on her own guesswork so far and until Anthony would confirm or deny it there'd be no way for her to be sure, but she had a feeling her guess couldn't be too far off its mark.

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