Vignette:Welcoming Committee

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Welcoming Committee

External Secretariat, Mehmet State
October 11th, 1980
T

he list in front of him is filled with names; detailed papers dominate the desk. he can identify most of them as distinctly Artemian in origin, but a handful of Aravan names pique his interest.

I assume these are the new arrivals you’ve mentioned.

“Yes, sir. They’ll be arriving by next month at the earliest. We expect others to follow in their coattails not long after.

Compensation?

His Majesty has ordered the creation of new titles and reactivation of dormant ones, the selling of some royal plots of land, and the seizure of other plots. He’s authorized the Royal Engineering Corps to start surveying and construction work, new housing and whatnot. He’s going the full mile on this, sir.

And therein lies the problem…” He burrows his bloodshot eyes deeper into his palms.

Exiles of exiles, someone in the breakroom had quoted. He curses the faceless bureaucrat that had the gall to suggest taking in thousands of “disenfranchised members of Alvak high society”. Somewhere between their lips and His Majesty’s ears, they had become “experienced bureaucrats and businessmen”. He leans back, wondering if his position at the External Secretariat would be usurped by some bumbling white man within the year.

What a terrible fate, he thinks, to be in charge of the welcoming committee for his successor.

His assistant sighs in support. “Would you like a crash course on the most important names? It’s in our interest to appease them the most.

He waves his hand in a gesture vaguely resembling affirmation before returning to take a puff from his pipe. Immediately, the assistant lurches over and shuffles the list into something more presentable than the mess he’d previously left it in.

The unofficial leader of our first round of guests is Baron von Altena, that white-haired fellow there. His family used to own large stakes in Alvak rail and oil before their revolution brought things downhill. He’s been mentioned in a handful of high-profile missing person cases, which implies he had ties with their intelligence agency. He was also the uncle of the former Foreign Minister before you-know-what, so he had some sway in government.

What would compel His Majesty to request his presence?

The oil and rail shares I mentioned? He was the Chief Operations Officer for the Alva National Oil and Gas Corporation between 1966 and 1974. He resigned due to health issues, but his cousin succeeded him, which puts that line of events into question. I assume he has experience in resource management, which would make him a decent fit for Energy Minister.

I suppose it does. What’s with the Aravan names, though?” He picks out the names that first caught his interest. “I thought none of their folk cared much for the colonial government.

Ikram el-Idris and Aaish al-Kazemi are your bog-standard collaborators. El-Idris was Chief of Police in Ajloun until the revolution, and al-Kazemi seems to have directed some agricultural subsidiaries in the West Bank. El-Idris, I can understand: the guy’s painted a target on his back with that job. He’ll do well training the Gendarmerie or directing the Interior Ministry. I don’t know why al-Kazemi’s coming over apart from his political affiliations, but I assume he’ll eventually fill some seat in the Ministry of Agriculture. He’s got a PhD in Environmental Sciences; surely that’s good enough.

He glances at the wall clock. In the dim light, he can barely make out the minute hand; it is a quarter to nine. Far later than he’d liked, but the job paid well enough to bother working overtime. The tea money on the side is a bonus he enjoys thoroughly.

Has construction started yet? We’re expecting at most 10,000 people in three months.

His Majesty mentioned using eminent domain to secure more land near the Government District in the capital. Expect the notices to arrive within the week. Otherwise, the REC has set out to refurbish some old manor homes in the countryside. Construction of new homes needs to wait until land surveys are complete; I don’t have a good estimate of how long it’ll take.

We have time. While we still can, I’ll send a request to His Majesty to use one of his lesser-used properties to host Baron Altena. He’s coming over to hear our end of His Majesty’s plans.

Understood, sir.

The sigh that escapes him gives him no relief for the coming days.

You’re dismissed for the day.

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