The Xiomeran Chronicles

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Xiomera
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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:54 am

(Joint post with Lauchenoiria)

President Arnott was somewhat nervous about the call she had to make. Though she, personally, had remained rather netural in the Xiomeran election until the final days when it became clear who would win, she knew that some of the Council had been engaged in rather... unseemly activities. Yet, it was important that she discovered whether or not Yauhmi would continue being friendly towards Kerlile... and, of course, there was that matter with the Lauchenoirians Hale had brought to her attention.

She picked up the phone and dialled the number of the special line in the Palace of Flowers which she knew only a select few individuals had. She was rather pleased to be counted among them, and hoped that such things would not be consigned to the past now Xiomera had a new ruler. She sat back in her chair as the phone rang, waiting for an answer.

The line only rang twice before a firm, businesslike female voice answered. "Office of the Golden Chamber, Imperial Attendant Tlalli. Who may I ask is calling?" After Arnott identified herself and the reason for her call, Tlalli said "Of course, Madam President. Give me one moment, please," in a somewhat more respectful tone before placing the call on hold. After a few moments of some quite traditional Xiomeran music, the line was answered. "President Arnott, this is Yauhmi, Empress of Xiomera," a surprisingly warm and strong voice answered. The Empress waited for a response. Normally, she would have given a more elaborate greeting, but not having interacted with Arnott before, she was quite curious to see how her Kerlian counterpart would respond to her if she started off relatively brief.

"Empress Yauhmi, thank you so much for taking my call. Congratulations on your victory, so many in my nation are extremely pleased to see another strong female leader, especially one in charge of our strongest ally," Arnott began, making sure her voice was warm and welcoming. She was careful in her choice of words, referring to many, rather than all, of her nation - implying that division in Kerlile did not exist would only have served to insult the Empress by thinking her a fool.

Yauhmi found herself amused by Arnott's choice of words. She had caught the nuance of the word 'many'. "Thank you, madam President. I appreciate your words. I am glad to hear that many in Kerlile are supportive of my enthronement. I imagine that those who were not quite as supportive during the election are....curious as to where we go from here," the Empress replied in the same tone of voice. "As many others in Kerlile are, no doubt." Yauhmi wasn't the type to dance around a subject; she preferred to get right to the heart of the matter.

"I would not worry about many of my colleagues, Empress. I can assure you that even those on the Council who found themselves on opposing sides will accept this result," Arnott said confidently. It was true, nobody in Kerlile had disliked Yauhmi, merely some had preferred another option. Even Councillor Chiu's objections had not really been about Yauhmi at all. "If anyone here does do something... inappropriate, rest assured that I will deal with them."

"I am reassured to hear that, madam President. It is very important to keep a firm hand on those who one leads," Yauhmi replied. "Anyone who may be....concerned about the result of the Great Selection can also rest assured that I hold no grudges. I am confident that the relationship between our two countries can continue as it was under my husband. We agree on far more than we disagree on, after all."

The tone of Yauhmi's voice, as much as her words, conveyed a simple message: nothing has changed. Xiomera would continue to support Kerlile as it had before.

"I am very glad to hear that, Empress," Arnott said, the smile on her face obvious even through the phone. "On the topic of the Great Selection, however, I do have some concerns of my own to raise. Not about the result of course," she added hurriedly, "but rather about events which took place during it. Namely, the rumours spreading around the internet about certain... personal matters of yours. Lies, I'm sure."

Yauhmi's voice took a noticeably firmer tone. "They were indeed lies. And I intend to hold whoever was responsible for those lies to account," the Empress said in a way that did not bode well for whoever would be on the receiving end of the wrath of a Xiomeran Empress.

"Intend to? Your words imply you have yet to take action. Interesting," Arnott mused. "And a relief. I feared that it had been you who had attempted to frame us for the assassinations, though I found it hard to believe. Still, it raises the question of who."

Yauhmi found herself perplexed, an unusual feeling for the Empress. "I am afraid you have me at a disadvantage, madam President. Could you elaborate, please?"

"Councillor Hale received a phone call from her wife, the Prime Minister of Lauchenoiria. They're still legally married, believe it or not. The Lauchenoirians tracked the radioactive material which one of their intelligence agents was poisoned with to Kerlile. Alvarez wanted Hale to find out who had given the order. Only... nobody here did. A small amount, tiny really, of radioactive material was stolen from one of our power plants. It was so small we, shamefully, had not noticed. Since it was not us, the only other explanation is that someone tried to frame us. We would not have suspected you, of course, but given the identity of the woman who was poisoned, and the 'car accident' which killed her work partner at almost the same time... well. It seemed logical. They were, after all, the Lauchenoirian hackers who were running the bot network which spread the rumours of an affair."

Yauhmi sat back in her chair, stunned. Xiomeran intelligence had not yet discovered the source of the hacking; given the fact that until just two days prior her chief rival for the Obsidian Throne had been in charge of ASI, this was not surprising. The fact that the Security Secretariat was temporarily leaderless after Tepilcayotl's defeat had not helped. First order of business: select a new Secretary of Security, Yauhmi thought grimly.

"Interesting," Yauhmi purred, already planning her response to the Lauchenoirian hack. "I am grateful to you for this information, madam President. I do not know who tried to frame Kerlile for this act, sadly. It was, however, certainly not us. We do not betray our allies," the Empress said.

"I intend to find out who it was. But I'm very glad to hear it was not you. I do look forward to our two countries continuing to have the productive relationship we had while your husband was Emperor," Arnott said.

She was, however, uncertain. The pauses, Yauhmi's reaction... she had known it was Lauchenoiria, right? Or had Arnott inadvertently revealed it to her? She wouldn't mention this to Hale. The Councillor had that infatuation with Lauchenoiria, she would not understand. It was still a great relief to discover it had not been Xiomera who framed them, however.

"I look forward to that as well....nations with similar interests and goals must stick together in this very challenging world," Yauhmi replied in a friendly tone. Inside, however, she was seething - and not at Arnott.

Lauchenoiria may have finally found its nerve, to do such a thing. I shall need to remind them why they decided to hide from the world in the first place. The Empress found herself smiling at the thought.

"I agree, and congratulations once more on your victory. I am sure that, going forward, you will make sure Xiomera prospers," Arnott responded, putting her doubts out of her mind. Kerlile still had an ally - and so she still had a chance.

"Thank you once again, madam President. I shall do my best to ensure Xiomera prospers - and that our allies prosper along with us," the Empress said. "While I hate to end our conversation so soon, a new Empress has quite a bit to do, sadly. Is there anything else I can do for you or for Kerlile at this time?

"Of course, I understand. I'm sure we can discuss things in more depth when you have more time. Kerlile is grateful for the continued friendship of Xiomera. Thank you for taking my call. Have a good day, Empress," Arnott replied. She had much to do as well. Finally, Kerlile and Lauchenoiria had something in common - the desire to find out who had tried to assassinate those two agents.

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Xiomera
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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:16 pm

(Joint post with Shen)

Imperial Attendant Tlalli looked through the special, encrypted database, retained on special servers accessible only on the Golden Chamber's internal network, for a number. When she found it, she hummed to herself softly. Here we go, she thought, dialing the number on the equally secure, encrypted phone line reserved for the office of the Xiomeran ruler. When the line was answered, she spoke in a polite tone. "This is Imperial Attendant Tlalli with the Xiomeran Office of the Golden Chamber calling for Han Zeng. My mistress, the Empress Yauhmi, is requesting to speak with God-Empress Wu. I believe she is expecting this phone call."

Han Zeng had been sitting in front of his computer, patched into the encrypted line that linked the two Imperial palaces just waiting for this moment. As soon as he saw the call notification, he clicked on it on his screen and listened to his counterpart.

"I'm here, Attendant, and you are right, the God-Empress is waiting. I will pass your mistress into her personal phone line."

The Jade Garden was quiet. Unusually quiet for this time of day. God-Empress Wu Zhou had ordered all of the gardeners and other staff to clear out when she decided this is where she wanted to take the phone call. Sitting in the garden by herself. Her servants had brought out a telephone for her to use. A gold rotary phone, ancient by any standard but still in use in the palace because of simple nostalgia. The Empress passed the moment she waited for the calls slowly burning cigarette after cigarette down to the butt before discarding them into an ever-growing pile in her crystal ashtray. She looked upwards every once in awhile towards the enormous Jade Dragon. The Jade Garden got its name from the 12 figures made of solid jade that were placed in a circle formation throughout it. Each one representing one of the 12 animals that mark the years.

She was staring into the eyes of the Dragon when the phone started ringing. Slowly she extended her hand, picking up the phone from the receiver and bringing it to her face.

"Empress Yauhmi, leader of Xiomera. I never thought I would ever be saying that. Congratulations, my friend."

Yauhmi smiled at the sound of the familiar voice on the other end of the line. "Thank you, my friend. I wasn't sure for a while myself if anyone would be saying that by the time the Great Selection ended," she said, with a slight laugh. "I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the help you provided during this challenging election. I was quite concerned that Tepilcayotl would not be as interested in maintaining the ties between our two great and ancient nations as my husband and I had been over the years."

The Empress could hear her friend exhaling a cigarette and ashing it.

"You don't have to be so formal with me Yauhmi, heavy is the head that wears the crown, and just because you now wear one doesn't mean I stopped thinking of us as friends first, and political allies second. Besides, I never had any doubt. You're as skilled a politician as..." her voice was slow for a second as she said the name "Topilpopoca...may the gods allow him to rest...but once I sent my two most talented children, and I told the Grandmaster what I wanted, I knew there was no way you would lose."

"I am glad to hear it...your friendship is something I value very much. I do miss Topilpopoca as well. I know he is watching us from the afterlife now. I hope I can do as well as he did.....and I must also say, I hope my son turns out as skilled when the time comes as your children proved to be. Their efforts with the voters were exceptional," Yauhmi said.

"Thank you...I tried my best. Unfortunately I wasn't the most successful. Your son is a brilliant young man. Most of my children are idiots, degenerates, and spendthrifts...but sangui and zhao...they're the only two I could trust to leave the Empire after I'm gone. After....recent events I had to decide which one is the most worthy."

"That is a tough decision.....have you come to any conclusions?" Yauhmi asked, curious about the answer (and also grateful she had only one child, and a competent one).

"Yes... after this whole ordeal... there's only one choice. The child who convinced the most delegates. Who suggested that the shingzi ren infiltrate the Palace of Flowers. The woman who turned my command into reality. Zhao...when it is my time to join your beloved in the afterlife...she will become the God-Empress."

The old woman stared up at the sky watching the clouds slowly drift along and disappear across the horizon. "It won't be long now..." she said calmly.

"I know when we are called, we must answer, but I hope your time does not come soon," Yauhmi replied, a touch of sadness entering her voice. "Losing Topilpopoca was hard....losing old friends is just as hard."

The empress didn't speak for a moment. There was only silence on the other line as the elder of the pair seemed to gather her thoughts.

"Yauhmi...I...my time is already up. According to my physician I don't have long at all. I'm dying."

Yauhmi fell silent at the words, a cold feeling gripping her. No response seemed adequate to the situation. In the end, she made the only choice she could. "Is there anything I can do to help you?" she asked softly. "To make the time pass easier, or to help ensure your wishes are met and fulfilled when the time comes?"

The Empress didn't waste any time. She never did when it came to important matters like this. Her request rolled right off the tongue, starting with how she always made personal requests to friends. With an old story.

"You remember when you and Topilpopoca first came to the Palace after his election? I still remember it. I wasn't sure what I would think of him that first visit. His predecessor and I had so rarely seen eye to eye...but with him everything was so easy. We saw the world the same way and we understood just how important the relationship between our nations was to each other. And it didn't hurt he was just so damn charming, I could see right after meeting him why you loved him like you did." Talking about the past and the good old days brought a little bit of energy back to the Empress's voice after revealing the state of her health to her friend.

"When he left I wasn't just hopeful about the state of the relationship between the last two great Empires. I was a little less scared of passing on. Because as I offered him my wisdom from all the years I have spent on the throne, I knew that he would also offer his own wisdom to my successor and help one of my children lead the Empire. "

The sadness returned to her voice as she lit up another cigarette, sucking in the tobacco before exhaling and speaking again.

"But he is gone now....that task falls to you... my daughter is a brilliant woman. But she will need help...can you be there to advise her, just as I tried to advise your husband?"

Yauhmi laughed softly at the memories conjured up by her friend's words. "Topilpopoca could be very charming when he wanted to be....he won me over that way. I definitely remember that first visit - we were both so much younger then, and had a lot to learn. That was so long ago," she sighed. "But your advice over the years was a great help to him. It is only fair and fitting that I return what you so generously bestowed on us. It would be my honor to help your daughter with whatever advice and support I can give her."

A smile slowly crossed the wrinkled lips of the old woman. "Thank you, Yauhmi. Your guidance will help her immensely."

She sat back in her chair. "I have spent 65 years....every day since I was 18...as God Empress. I was crowned the leader of a backwards agrarian nation and through 65 years of hard work I turned us into an industrial Empire. Shen is great again...my daughter will need all the help she can get building on the legacy I've left for her."

"She will have whatever help that I can provide. We were pleased to see the legacy that you built in Shen....just as we built a legacy of our own in Xiomera. I am determined that neither legacy will go by the wayside." Yauhmi paused for a moment. "Have you informed your children yet of your health? Or the choice you have made?"

"Honestly, I shouldn't have even informed you. The health of the empress is a closely guarded secret. Only the Grandmaster of the shingzi ren, the captain of the Imperial Guard and my personal physician are aware. Just the people who need to be ready for...the succession." Her voice was sharp as a dagger she spoke about the bloody ritualistic succession that occurred when one ruler died.

"...but you of all people should be made aware. You have suffered enough you didn't need my death to be a surprise."

"I am glad you felt you could confide in me about this, and that you were thinking about my feelings even as you are dealing with something so personal," Yauhmi replied. "I will ensure no one else in Xiomera finds out about this until the time is right and proper for the truth to come out. And if I can do anything to ensure your daughter is placed on the throne as you mandate, I will do anything possible. I am confident that your servants are more than capable, but as we discovered during my own fight for the throne....extra help is never a bad thing."

"The offer is appreciated. If someone tried to deviate from the path Heaven has set out before them...if someone tries to challenge Orthodoxy...knowing that you will be there to make sure my last command as a mortal is carried out, removes any lingering doubt from my mind," she calmly replied back as she put out the last cigarette and crinkled up the empty pack into a ball in her hand.

"Is there any message you wish for me to carry to heaven for you, Yauhmi? A man like Topilpopoca, who must have the blood of dragons in his veins, will certainly be waiting for me in heaven, when my time as the other gods' arbiter is over and I join them...what should I tell him?"

"If you could....tell him....that I miss him dearly. And that I will devote the rest of my life to making sure his work and his legacy continue on. And also, that I am glad he will have a friend to keep him company until I join both of you there," Yauhmi replied. She managed to keep the sorrow she felt out of her voice. It was not dignified for an Empress to cry or moan like a common person. But Yauhmi was confident that Wu knew how she felt. They had known each other for a very long time, after all.

"Of course, Yauhmi. I'll make sure he hears every word of it."

The old woman looked up once again is she finally saw what she'd been looking for the entire time. Gray clouds slowly moving over the horizon.

"...it's going to be raining here soon...I should really head back inside and get some sleep...Long Live Empress Yauhmi. May your Reign be ever glorious and may your son rule with the wisdom of his parents...me and your beloved will watch you from heaven and patiently wait for you to join us."

Yauhmi forced the sadness from her voice. "Thank you....I hope that after such long and devoted service, that you reach the peace that you so greatly deserve. Your daughter will have the friendship that you have showed me for so long. Until we speak again, may the gods and goddesses watch over you," she said softly.

When the call ended, Yauhmi hung up the phone. Only then did she allow the tears to roll down her face.

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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Sun Nov 10, 2019 1:56 am

(Joint post with Lauchenoiria)

Imperial Attendant Tlalli, the personal assistant to the Empress Yauhmi, had been busier than normal, even with the duties normally falling upon the head of an incoming ruler and the transition to a new government. This would be the second call to a head of state in just the past few days she had placed on behalf of her mistress.

The Attendant calmly scrolled through her database, before finding the number she needed. Cristina Esparza, secretary to the Prime Minister of Lauchenoiria, Josephine Alvarez. Tlalli smiled slightly to herself. She had seen Empress Yauhmi, in her years of service to the new monarch, in every mood possible on many occasions. She could count the times on one hand, however, that she had seen Yauhmi in the full fury of her totally unrestrained rage. When the new Security Secretary, Zalpalatli, confirmed the information inadvertently given to Yauhmi by President Arnott was true, Tlalli had seen it then.

This phone call should be....entertaining, the Attendant thought as she dialed the number listed. When the line was answered, she spoke in a calm tone that gave no idea about what was really waiting on the other end of the line. "Good afternoon, this is the Office of the Golden Chamber. The Empress Yauhmi of Xiomera requests and requires a conversation with Prime Minister Alvarez," she said.

Cristina Esparza had been having a perfectly normal day before the phone rang. She was sitting at her desk working on paperwork and sipping a coffee when the ringing had started. She picked it up almost immediately, it was her job. But when she heard who was calling, she got slightly nervous. She knew Alvarez had been expecting this call... and by expecting, she meant dreading.

"One second please," she told Tlalli, then called through to Alvarez, informing her of who was on the line. She was rewarded with several swear words from the Prime Minister, and then instructions to connect her. "The Prime Minister is now on the line."

The Attendant dropped off the line, as Yauhmi looked down to her desk. Her desk, much like Xiomera itself, was a seamless fusion of the ancient and the modern. The desk had been handcrafted by ancient Itotemoc craftsmen, but it had been refitted with the most modern technology. The Empress touched the screen in front of her to take over the call. "Good afternoon, Prime Minister Alvarez. This is Yauhmi, Empress of Xiomera," she said in her characteristically strong voice, waiting for the other woman to answer.

"Good afternoon, Empress Yauhmi. Congratulations on your recent victory. What can I do for you?" Alvarez asked, keeping her tone neutral even though she was nervous. She did not know what the Empress wanted, but she guessed it would not be anything good. She was in a very bad mood today, and this would not help. Still, she would be polite, as long as she could.

"It is not a question of what you can do for me, Prime Minister. Rather, it is a question of what you have already done to me. And to my family, and my country. And what your people have been doing to Xiomera for quite some time now. Do you know of what I speak?" the Empress said calmly.

Sitting next to the Empress and remaining silent as a church mouse, the new Secretary of Security, Zalpalatli, couldn't help but smile as the Empress slowly and methodically began her call. He picked up his special encrypted tablet, connected directly to the ASI secure network, his finger ready as he watched the Empress.

An icy chill ran down Alvarez's spine. She knew what the Empress was referring to. She had been hoping that Xiomera hadn't found out. They still hadn't been able to determine who, or how, they'd been traced by the persons who killed Tacito Fierro and almost killed Jessica Cassidy. But, of course, she couldn't admit they had done anything.

"If you are referring to the milkshake incident with your Ambassador, the Federation of Lauchenoiria extends our apologies. The protests are not, however, sanctioned by my government, so alas there is little I can do to stop them," Alvarez replied.

Yauhmi actually paused for a moment, staring at the screen on her desk as if in disbelief. Next to her, Zalpalatli's left eyebrow rose in a slight quirk. Oh dear, Prime Minister. Playing dumb is not the way to go here.

And as Yauhmi's eyebrows drew together in anger, Zalpalatli knew he was about to witness Imperial rage.

"I....do....not....speak.....of the milkshake incident, as you put it - although that kind of insult to Xiomeran honor by Lauchenoirians is indeed one of the things that....displeases me," Yauhmi said, biting off her words as if she was chewing a tough steak. "And is one of the things that the Xiomeran Empire is no longer prepared to tolerate."

Yauhmi's voice began to rise.

"You know fully well what I am really referring to, Prime Minister, so do not insult my intelligence. You have made many mistakes as the leader of your country, so you are undoubtedly used to it, but I promise you, insulting me more than you already have is not one you want to make."

The Empress actually stood up, to Zalpalatli's amazement, as her voice took on the tones of incandescent fury.

"You attempted to keep me from assuming my rightful place on the Obsidian Throne. You interfered with our society and our political process. And you supported a candidate who would have totally destroyed Xiomera and brought us to the edge of chaos. What did you think would happen if Cozamalotl won - that the two-thirds of Xiomerans who don't agree with him would have simply accepted his overturning everything we believe in and have built for six centuries? Cozamalotl wouldn't have brought us reform - he would have brought us civil war. Wasn't your own civil war in Lauchenoiria horrible enough to not feel the need to bring that kind of chaos and collapse to my people? What business is it of yours, anyway, what path Xiomera takes? Where does the profound arrogance come from, that you believe you have the right to dictate the path my people and my country should follow - especially when Lauchenoiria has followed its own path in such an inept fashion? What would make you think that you are the example Xiomera, or anyone else, must follow?"

Yauhmi's voice rose to a shout now, as she slammed her fist into the top of her desk.

"And then, you had the audacity to accuse me of cheating on my husband. You may not believe this, Prime Minister, but Xiomerans are human beings. My husband and I loved each other - and for you to dare suggest that I would be unfaithful to him - you may as well have placed a dagger right into my heart. If I seem angry, and perhaps in a dangerous mood, Prime Minister, it is precisely because I am."

Alvarez was ashamed. She hadn't expected to be. She abhorred Xiomera and everything they stood for, and yet she was still ashamed of her actions. Because under her leadership, Lauchenoiria had lowered themselves, compromised on their morals... and got caught. Denial wouldn't help her any further. So she made a choice.

"Empress... I... I apologise. You are correct, we had no right to interfere. It was a mistake. And the... the rumour was the choice of the individuals who carried out the act. I would not have sanctioned that particular part of the operation had I known. We were wrong to interfere, and I'm sorry."

Yauhmi allowed her voice to calm. After a moment, she said, "I genuinely believe that you are sorry, and that you realize that you have done wrong here. I do believe you. However, I am Xiomeran - and Xiomerans believe that lessons must be reinforced in such a way that the person being taught the lesson does not ever forget it, lest they be tempted to repeat their mistakes in the future." She nodded to Zalpalatli, who pressed a button on his tablet.

Within seconds, traffic control officials in Buttercity would begin reporting that the city's traffic control system had gone haywire. Signals stopped responding correctly, instead all flashing to red lights and staying there. Roads and highways would immediately begin to jam, as traffic would grind to a standstill.

"You will begin receiving reports shortly that your capital's roadways are suddenly experiencing a rather unusual traffic jam," the Empress said calmly. "And you will be powerless to reverse it - until I press a button, here in Tlālacuetztla. This is a small sample - a very small sample - of what the Xiomeran Empire is capable of. You would indeed be well-advised not to play technological games again with us - we are one of the most advanced states in the entire IDU, and this is child's play to us."

"Normally, I would expect declarations of outrage in the media that we interfered with your systems in such a way, possibly even retaliatory actions. I don't think you will be tempted to do that this time, Prime Minister. Because if you reveal that Xiomera did this to your capital, instead of just writing it off to your press as a mere glitch in your systems, I will have no choice but to reveal the full extent of your government's actions during the Great Selection to your people - and to mine. How would the Lauchenoirian people, fond of protest as they are, take the news that your government sanctioned an attempt to influence and interfere in another nation's political system through lies and underhanded means? How long do you think your government would stand if that news got out?" Yauhmi sighed again. "And what actions do you think my people will insist upon, if they ever discover that you tried to interfere in our Great Selection in a way that could have led us to civil war?"

Yauhmi nodded again to Zalpalatli, who pressed another button on his tablet. "You will find that your traffic control system in Buttercity will now be back under your control. But remember this lesson."

Alvarez sat silently for a few moments. She was uncertain how to respond. Yauhmi was correct. Alvarez could not ever reveal what had happened. Quite aside from the threat to her government, to her country... letting people know such a thing had occurred so shortly after the war would jeopardise their recovery. There was no course of action that she could reasonably follow. So, all she could do was speak.

"Lesson learned, Empress."

"Very good....for what it is worth, I have nothing against your people, or your country. I am just not particularly amused by you, or your government, right now. Undoubtedly, you don't think very highly of me, or my government, either at the moment," Yauhmi said with a small laugh. "But we have nations to lead, nations that must interact with each other. Therefore, we must use this situation as a way to reboot our relationship as nations - no pun intended," the Empress added with another laugh. "I doubt we will ever truly like each other, either as individuals or as governments - our ways are just too different. But we can start acting civilized to each other. That, however, requires mutual respect. I am prepared to respect Lauchenoiria's right to govern itself and live in peace if you are prepared to do the same for Xiomera - in a mutually respectful way," the Empress added. "I do, however, thank you for your congratulations on my enthronement. Have a pleasant evening, Prime Minister," Yauhmi said, hanging up the phone.

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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:15 pm

(Joint post with Eiria)

Alice Lancaster sat in her office, holding her head in her hands. She couldn't sleep, not while her brother insisted on staying at the hospital for when Jake gets out of surgery. She then got an idea on what to do. She used her laptop to find a certain phone number for a certain Xiomeran Attendant, and dialed.

Imperial Attendant Tlalli was even busier than she had expected. A third call, this one ringing quite late into the office. Luckily, the Golden Chamber never slept. "Office of the Golden Chamber, Imperial Attendant Tlalli speaking. How may I assist you?" she said, successfully hiding a yawn.

Alice sat forward in her chair. "Hello, This is Alice Lancaster. I was wondering if Empress Yauhmi would be open for a call."

"Of course, please allow me a moment to patch your call through, Minister," the Attendant said politely, while wondering if the Empress was even awake.

In her bedchamber, luckily, Empress Yauhmi was indeed still awake - and feeling surprisingly relaxed. Her dressing-down of the Lauchenoirian Prime Minister had left her in a pleasant mood, allowing her to work off the edge of her busy day. So, a surprisingly mellow Empress answered the phone. "Good evening, Minister Lancaster. What can I do for you?"

"Good evening, Empress. I apologise for the late hour. I regrettably had to leave Xiomera without saying congratulations, and when I arrived, I was bombarded with meetings, and now my brother in law was shot, so I'm really sorry that I haven't called sooner."

"I completely understand under the circumstances, madam. There is no need to apologize. How is your brother in law doing?" the Empress asked with concern in her voice.

"Jake's doing fine. As far as we know, the damage was minimal, and he should be in recovery soon. We believe the gunman was a member of TALFL, a terrorist group in our nation intent on turning us Fascist. It came from the remains of the Fascist government from the civil war, and has increased their power since." She found herself drowning in a wave of emotions. "Will is refusing to leave the hospital until Jake gets out of surgery."

"Such devotion and loyalty are to be admired. Please send Jake my best regards," Yauhmi said. "As for these terrorists, if Xiomera can do anything to help you with that threat, please let me know. I have dealt with my own such types here, and it cost me dearly," the Empress said, touching the gift that Lancaster had given her on their last conversation.

"I will do that." She sighed. "People like this have cost us both too much. I will see if there is anything you can help with when Will is pulled from his state of shock. I'm worried about him. When James died last year, he went into a fury. I don't know what he would do if Jake.....if Jake died." She dabbed her eyes. "I'm sorry, Madame Empress. I didn't expect to get this emotional all the sudden."

"You need not apologize. These things strike at our hearts, it is natural to be emotional," Yauhmi said. She remembered when she had first seen Topilpopoca in the hospital, after he was shot; and then when he finally passed away. She had unapologetically cried like a child, and didn't care who knew it.

"Thank you." Alice took a moment to compose herself. "Not many people know this, but I was engaged during Eiria's civil war, to a man named Adrian Thomas. He....he was shot when evacuating the Guard Navale base." She paused and reached for her bracelet, where a silver Memory Medallion with a green gem hung. "We were keeping our engagement a surprise, so only my parents, Will, Jake, and Adrian's family knew. After he died, I went into shock. Will kept me alive for the weeks that I couldn't do anything. I don't want Will to go through that kind of shock, that kind of loss."

"Trust in Jake's strength, and the strength of the gods, and he will pull through. I am sure of that," Yauhmi replied in a soothing voice. "Your strength will also help greatly; you have been through similar loss, so you know what it takes to get through something like that."

"Thank you, Madame. Well, I better go check on my brother and see if Jake is out of surgery yet. I hope I can come back to Xiomera soon, it is truly a beautiful country. Congratulations again on your election, Madame, and thank you for your reassurance."

"Of course....if there is any other reassurance I can provide, please do not hesitate to ask. And I do hope you can return to visit us soon, or that circumstances allow me to pay a visit to your country," Yauhmi replied.

"That would be lovely. Good night, your majesty."

After the call ended, Yauhmi made a small note to herself on her nearby encrypted tablet. She had been considering an international tour to introduce herself to the IDU; Eiria might be a stop worth making.

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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:23 am

(Joint post with Lauchenoiria)

Juliette Greenwood was used to being ignored, passed over and treated like she didn't matter. It was the plight of a youngest daughter of a Kerlian Councillor, she who stood little chance of inheriting a seat. Yet, now, she was called on. With her mother hiding in Shen (something Juliette had been shocked to discover), and her sister in Shuell with her daughter, it fell to Juliette to ensure that their family secrets remained safe in an ever-changing world.

It was to that end that Juliette picked up the phone that day. She was somewhat nervous, when it came down to it, about making this call. If she received bad news, it would not end well for her. Still, she figured, she still had time to flee herself if necessary. So, she picked up the phone and dialled the number her sister's aide had assured her would allow her to speak to the new Xiomeran Secretary for Security.

At the Cauhloc, the Attendant for the Security Secretary greeted Greenwood politely before placing her on a brief hold. A new voice came on the line. "Madam Greenwood, this is Zalpalatli, Secretary for Security," a youngish-sounding voice said. "How may I help you today?"

"Good afternoon Secretary Zalpalatli. My name is Juliette Greenwood, I am the sister of Councillor Letitia Greenwood. As you may know, my sister is presently in Shuell, attending the Olympics. So therefore she is unable to carry out all the duties of her office where they pertain to matters of a... delicate nature," Juliette said carefully. "It is to that end I am contacting you today. You see, my sister had an... arrangement with your predecessor. I am calling to ask about the status of that arrangement."

Zalpalatli smiled. He had been expecting this call, ever since he had taken over the Secretariat's files from the previous occupant of this office. The 'arrangement' Greenwood was referring to had been one of the first things brought to his attention.

"I am fully privy now to the details of the arrangement in question, and the Secretariat has decided to maintain the arrangement as it has been. We have found our Kerlian....contractors to be both delightful and effective. We may be interested in expanding on this arrangement, in the near future."

Juliette let out a sigh of relief, making sure it couldn't be heard down the phone.

"I am very pleased to hear you are pleased with them. I am sure that, should you wish to expand the arrangement, my sister can discuss it with you more in the future once she is back in Kerlile. It pleases my family to be of help to Xiomera, and we can assure you that there are many more highly skilled individuals in Kerlile who would be glad of the work."

"That is good to know. Recent events in Xiomera have shown that there is a group of malcontents, possibly influenced by other foreign powers, that pose a small but significant threat to our future. Rooting this element out of Xiomera will require more staff on our part. I am confident we can find roles for more of your skilled individuals."

"We will be more than happy to provide what help we can. I do hope you can get to the root of the issue quickly. We have had issues in the past ourselves and it can be alarming how these groups sow dissent in the population," Juliette said darkly. "The weeds must be rooted out before they can grow."

"On that, we are in total agreement. We do not intend to let these particular weeds prosper. I anticipate your workers playing a big role in helping us with that," Zalpalatli said. "I would appreciate it if you could let your sister know that we will continue our arrangement, and to convey our appreciation for the work her referrals have done so far."

"I will do so," Juliette smiled. "I am sure they will continue to work as hard as they have done so already. It has been a pleasure speaking with you, and do let me know if there is anything more I can help you with before my sister's return."

"Of course, and if there is anything we can do for you as well, please do not hesitate to call. Have a good day, madam Greenwood," Zalpalatli said.

After the call was over, the Security Secretary opened a file on his tablet. Expansion of Project Itzpapalotl, the opened document read. The Xiomeran government did not expect the reformists who had raised their heads during the Great Selection to go away quietly. It was always good to have a contingency plan in place.

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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:11 am

Palace of Flowers
Throne Room


Empress Yauhmi sat back onto the Obsidian Throne with a slight sigh. Things were not going as she had hoped.

The sudden and unexpected collapse of the planned talks in Sharanfo had left the Empress with a profound sense of irritation. Xiomera found itself backed into a corner. We shall have to attend these blasted talks in Laeral, and plead our case as if we are criminals, even though we have done nothing wrong. And now, I have lost one of my most potent chips to play. The Empress, in fact, was beyond unamused.

If we must attend these talks, in these conditions, that is well and fine. But I will not subject myself to such an indignity, Yauhmi thought. It would be an insult to the Throne to attend in such a fashion. I will send someone else in my stead. The idea of having just arrived home, only to have to rush off to Maivers, at the whim of others did not suit the Empress. No, it did not suit her at all.

Who will I send in my place?

As the Empress pondered, it came to her, a sudden moment of inspiration. She knew exactly who to send. She had been trying to think of a way to introduce this particular person to the duties that came with the Obsidian Throne. Now was as good a time as ever. With a sharp wave of her hand, she summoned her attendants and gave them a series of different tasks. Following that, she had a conversation with the new Secretary of International Affairs, Nōlinyauh, and gave them a new set of marching orders as well. There was, at last, one final meeting to arrange. She ordered her attendants to summon the person she needed.

Within a few minutes, the doors to the Throne Room swung open. "The Crown Prince has arrived as you summoned, your Majesty," the palace majordomo announced.

Yauhmi couldn't help but smile as Texōccoatl walked into the Throne Room. His ever-present grin widened as he walked up to the throne and gave an exaggerated gesture of going down on one knee. "I am here as you summoned, your Majesty, Empress of Xiomera, mother above all mothers, distributor of hugs and occasional slaps par excellence, a humble servant ready to do your bidding...."

"Oh, get up and stop acting the fool," Yauhmi laughed, rising from the throne and giving Texōccoatl a warm hug. "So, mother, did you miss me so much in just a few hours? We did just arrive back home from Shen, after all," Texōccoatl asked, bemused.

"Oh dear. No. I do enjoy seeing you, but this is actually serious. I have a task for you," Yauhmi said, as Texōccoatl's expression shifted from bemused to curious. "I hate to do this, but don't get comfortable being back home. You're going to the Maivers Conference. You will be representing Xiomera in my place. You will be leaving around....well, now," Yauhmi added, looking at her pocketwatch. The pocketwatch was admittedly an antique affectation in the modern, high-tech Xiomera, but Yauhmi liked it anyway.

"Wait....I'm going to Laeral? I thought you were leading the talks there?" Texōccoatl said, confused.

"I was," Yauhmi said. "Now I am not. I am not pleased with recent events, and I do not intend to grace the others at these talks with my presence - or the significance of it."

"So....I'm the nobody who can grace the talks with my presence?" Texōccoatl asked wryly. "That does not inspire much confidence. Also, I'm a soldier, not a diplomat, last time I checked."

"Not anymore. You will tender your resignation from the Army by signing this," Yauhmi said, handing Texōccoatl a tablet. "You will then accept the position of Ambassador-At-Large for Xiomera to the International Democratic Union, by signing this," the Empress added, handing Texōccoatl another tablet.

"Wait...since when have we even had an Ambassador-At-Large to the IDU?" Texōccoatl asked, juggling the tablets. "Since an hour ago. I decreed the position into existence," Yauhmi replied.

"Um...how did you convince Nōlinyauh to sign off on making a 43-year-old Colonel a diplomat to the entire region, and technically his superior?" Texōccoatl asked. Yauhmi simply eyed Texōccoatl with a bland look. "Oh yeah, Empress, ruler of all Xiomerans, right. Silly me," Texōccoatl said, his bemused expression returning. "Mother, in all seriousness, surely there are diplomats we already have who are actually...well...diplomats. Ones that have experience in diplomacy, or things other than helping train soldiers to know which end of their gun is pointed towards the enemy and which isn't."

Yauhmi snorted. "Yes, and our diplomats have done a stellar job keeping us out of trouble, have they? You can do this. You are intelligent, highly educated, and highly skilled - the very best possible upbringing a Xiomeran child could possibly have made you that. I know you love being a soldier, but the gods and goddesses put you on this planet for a much higher purpose. It's time to begin the role you were meant to fill - as a leader of Xiomera, not just a leader of a few thousand soldiers."

"You're the leader of Xiomera, and ideally, will be for a long time," Texōccoatl retorted. "I don't think this is the time. I don't think I'm ready."

Yauhmi paused for a moment. When she began speaking again, her voice had lost its previous bantering tone. "Listen to me, son. The passing of Wu Zhou has had me thinking. I am not a young woman - " Yauhmi impatiently waved off Texōccoatl's attempt to argue otherwise "- and I will be with your father in the afterlife sooner rather than later. I am as healthy and fit as a woman my age can be - but that's rather the point," Yauhmi finished dryly. "I need you to begin preparing for your destined role - to follow me as the ruler of Xiomera."

Texōccoatl laughed. "You're assuming that I even would make it through the Great Selection."

Yauhmi's expression assumed a fierce demeanor. "I assume nothing. Mark my words, son. When I die, you will be the Emperor of Xiomera." There was absolutely no doubt in those words.

Texōccoatl's expression sobered. "Know something I don't, mother?" he asked quietly.

"I am just remembering something that I told Wu Zhao, back in Shen. When you're Empress, you make the rules. And change them, if they need to be changed," Yauhmi replied in the same quiet tone.

"Mother....you're talking about ending the Great Selection. Restoring the monarchy. Ending the reforms Camaxtica implemented in the Great Reformation. That is...." Texōccoatl said, at a momentary loss for words.

"Camaxtica has been dead for over a century. Damn it, Camaxtica herself only became Empress because her father changed the rules of succession to what suited him, so she did it too. Times change. Needs change. Circumstances change. And when they do...rules can change with them. They must change with them. I may have triumphed in the Great Selection, but it is a corrupt and easily exploited process. I never realized just how bad a process the Great Selection is, until I went through it. We cannot continue to choose leaders in that way. And we are not about to institute the madness of democracy, which frankly strikes me as rule by easily exploited mobs led by the machinations of the rich and the powerful, either. Democracy is as corrupt as the Great Selection is. Xiomera once had a better way, and it will do so again. Now, do you see why I need you to begin preparing for your future?" Yauhmi replied.

Texōccoatl sighed heavily. "So, Crown Prince for real, then. And this....diplomatic excursion is the beginning?"

"It is. I need you to be seen in a leadership role, and to begin preparing to deal with other leaders. On the job training, perhaps, but at least you will find it more exciting than your previous job," Yauhmi said.

"But with far higher stakes. And far more possible victims, if I screw up," Texōccoatl said quietly.

"Oh, you'll screw up," Yauhmi snorted. "Do you think your father never screwed up? Or me, for that matter? We're humans, Texōccoatl. We're not perfect. We just do the best we can with what we know, and what we have. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't, and you have to try again and regroup. But what you need to lead is the ability to roll with the punches, to adapt and adjust, and find a way to salvage victory from even the worst defeat, success from the worst failure. And as my blood, and Topilpopoca's, I know you have that ability," the Empress replied. "You will be a great Emperor. Someday. Now, I do hopefully plan to live for another twenty or thirty years, so don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to prepare."

Texōccoatl smiled. "Not like I can ever argue with you. And, well, no one in Xiomera now can tell you no. So....okay then. But you do realize, all those heads of state and wise and experienced leaders in Maivers will just see some young brat on the other side of the table who got his job because of who his mommy is. They won't take me seriously."

"Oh, I am counting on that," Yauhmi said quietly. "If you're any son of mine, underestimating you will be a tremendous mistake. Now, go, you have a plane to catch. Nōlinyauh will brief you on the plane."

Texōccoatl gave another exaggerated bow. "As you command, Empress-mother. As always," he replied, leaning over to kiss her gently on the forehead before walking out of the room.

Yauhmi watched him leave with a slight smile, as he carried her hopes with him.

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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Sun Jan 26, 2020 6:11 am

Xiomeran rulers, by default, tended to be popular. After all, Xiomeran rulers tended to pitch anyone who didn’t like them, and said so openly, into a jail cell. That sort of treatment usually helps ensure high polling numbers.

But as the new year, and the new reign of Empress Yauhmi, began, the Xiomeran Empire and its people found themselves in the midst of something that hadn’t happened for decades: someone sitting on the Obsidian Throne who the people actually liked, and didn’t have to just pretend to like.

It had begun with incremental measures at home. Ending the ban on teaching the culture, history and dialects of the other three tribes. Amnesty for political prisoners. Relaxing of media restrictions. Efforts to end the corruption within Xiomera’s political process. Measures to force Xiomera’s sprawling corporations to pay more in tax, so that the citizens had to pay less. The creation of a “social safety net” for the poorest Xiomerans. One by one, since taking the throne, Yauhmi had been checking off the issues on the long list of grievances that the Xiomeran opposition had with the government. Her reforms didn’t go as far, or as fast, as the opposition may have wanted. But since previous efforts to push for reform had led to disdain from Xiomera’s rulers, and even imprisonment of the most stubborn agitators for change, the opposition found itself in the unexpected position of being happy with the Empress. Their distrust of Yauhmi was slowly changing into a cautious optimism.

If the opposition was somewhat surprised and pleased with their new Empress, most of the Xiomeran population in general was ecstatic. Yauhmi presided over a booming economy, signing trade deals left and right. Yauhmi threw the doors to prisons open, removed the gag on the press and took criticism head-on, fought corruption and fought for the everyday people of Xiomera. For the first time in ever, a Xiomeran ruler found herself soaring high in opinion polls that weren’t rigged.

That acclaim at home was rapidly being matched by praise around the IDU as well. Yauhmi traveled to nations and met with foreign leaders, being welcomed in a way that previous Xiomeran rulers, pariahs of the IDU, had never been. Nations were lining up to befriend Xiomera. And for leaders who weren’t fans - such as Foley Sakzi - Yauhmi had dealt with them firmly but fairly, defending Xiomeran interests and making it clear that Xiomera would not be intimidated by any nation.

And then, the Empress entered Xiomera into the ring to fight against terrorists in Vulkaria. A "noble mission" to help the rest of the IDU fight a dangerous scourge. As images of Xiomeran soldiers resolutely marching off to war filled Xiomerans with a sense of pride, they also raised the honor and respect for the Empress who was leading the Xiomeran fight for that cause. Images of the Empress, her fist clenched in resolution, began appearing on billboards, the sides of buildings, and on banners. Whether on the streets of Xiomeran cities, or on the side of rural roads, the image of the Empress of Xiomera was fast becoming an inescapable presence throughout the nation.

In just a few short months, Yauhmi had rapidly built her reputation in a way that made her the most popular Xiomeran ruler in decades - or even longer. Some were already comparing her to Camaxtica, the first Empress and the most respected ruler Xiomera had ever had. Empress Yauhmi was riding high on a wave of popularity and support that, in her mind, gave her almost endless credit to draw from as she implemented her agenda for the Xiomeran Empire.

But not everyone was a fan of the Empress.

-----

In the top-floor conference room at the top of the glittering XBA Tower in downtown Tlālacuetztla, a very unusual meeting was taking place. Xocolcōza, the Secretary for Trade, found himself in the firing line. So did Nexā, the Secretary of the Environment. Xōclo, the Secretary of Infrastructure, was also distinctly uncomfortable. Yāolinli, the Secretary of Scientific Development, was also quite unsettled. The three Cabinet members who Xocolcōza had handpicked to join him on the Cabinet, in his backroom deal that helped secure Yauhmi the Obsidian Throne during the Great Selection, were merely side dishes for the meal that Xocolcōza represented to the angry and carnivorous beasts seated around the conference table.

"You said you could control her." Pa'zi, the CEO of Imperial Petroleum, ground his cigarette into the ashtray in front of him with unnecessary force. "You said that the four of you being on the Cabinet would protect our interests, and that you would make sure that Yauhmi kept her promises to us. We helped her win the Great Selection. We spent a great deal of money doing so. But the Empress is not sticking to the plan by remaining bought and paid for. Your presence on the Cabinet means nothing." Pa'zi pointed at Xocolcōza angrily. "This effort has been an absolute failure. Worse, it has actually jeopardized our position."

"Be patient," Xocolcōza said. "We're barely a few months into her reign. We have plenty of time to turn her around."

"Turn her around? She's already driven off the damn cliff!" Cuitōnzitl, the CEO of Tinal Mining and Extraction, shook his head. "All these 'reforms' she's enacted are being paid for by us. Taxes and more taxes and more taxes on us. This is not what she promised us at all. You said you would keep her business-friendly. But we're the ones paying for all her crackpot ideas! And now she wants to change the tax laws and tax rates to make us pay more and the everyday losers pay less! It is outrageous. Yauhmi has completely betrayed us and broken her promises."

"That isn't the only problem." Cuālincōcatle, the CEO of Coatōn Corporation, looked at the others. "She hasn't just betrayed us. She has betrayed the fundamental principles of Xiomera itself. This new welfare state she's creating takes the concept of Xiomeran Meritocracy, the system created by the Xiuhtonal, and everything created by the Second Great Reformation and wipes its ass with them all. Just giving people money to breathe and exist? This is a complete break with Xiomeran values. We fought a civil war to enshrine those values!"

"We may have to do so again to protect them," a soft voice replied. Undersecretary of Security Calhualyana leaned over the table. "This Empress represents a direct threat to everything we believe in."

"Oh, come on. She has some radical ideas, admittedly, and she's veered way off script, but you're being a bit alarmist," Xocolcōza replied.

"Am I?" Calhualyana sighed. She turned and pointed out the window. "What do you see on the buildings out there, Xocolcōza? On the streets? You see pictures of her. She is creating a cult of personality. Ask yourselves, all of you: what does she plan to do with it?"

"Emperors and Empresses have always glorified themselves," Xōchhuitl said in response. The commanding General of the Imperial Army, and Chief of Staff of the Xiomeran Armed Forces, shook his head. "This is nothing new."

"You're wrong," Calhualyana replied. "This is something unprecedented. No Emperor or Empress in the modern era, since Camaxtica, has ever built up so much popularity so quickly. Yauhmi has both Xiomerans and foreigners alike fawning over her. She has the highest popularity and approval ratings any Xiomeran ruler has seen in decades. Topilpopoca on his best days wasn't half as popular as Yauhmi is now. And his predecessors? Please," Calhualyana scoffed. "Yauhmi knows how to play the media, and social media. She increasingly has the country wrapped around her finger. And she's leveraging that popularity to make huge changes to our government and our society. She's changed more in just a few months than Topilpopoca changed in almost twenty years. How far do you think she'll take her changes, once she's been around a while? Will we even recognize Xiomera by the time she's done? Will we even have a place here?"

Xocolcōza laughed. "Come on. She's just trying things out-"

Calhualyana sighed. "You're an idiot, Xocolcōza. Stop talking." She turned to the rest of the people in the room. "Yauhmi lied to us. To all of us. She promised us to maintain the status quo, to rule much as her husband had. Instead, she's changing the entire country right under our noses. She's setting up a personality cult so that people will blindly love her and support whatever insane 'reform' pops into her head. She's getting foreign leaders on her side. And then...there are her supposed efforts to eliminate corruption in the Great Selection and within the government. She's trying to discredit the Great Selection. She's getting her son more involved in leadership, giving him the title Crown Prince, and whipping up his popularity also. Don't you see what she's trying to do? This is all leading to something."

Xōchhuitl's eyes narrowed. "To what?"

Calhualyana's voice grew angry. "My analysis is this. Within a year, Yauhmi will change the law, end the Great Selection, and re-install a hereditary monarchy in Xiomera with herself at its head, and her son as her successor, unless she is stopped."

The room erupted. "That's insane!" Xōchhuitl shouted.

"The monarchy has been elective since the Civil War. No one has ever tried to resurrect a hereditary monarchy. Yauhmi would not dare," Cuālincōcatle snapped.

"You see how much she has changed Xiomera in just a few months. You saw what she did during the Great Selection. You saw how she refused to bend to the Zamastanians during the South Xiomera Sea crisis. Do you really think Yauhmi is afraid of anything? Or of anyone?" Calhualyana replied. "And once she has truly absolute power, and is answerable to no one.....if you think the changes she's already made to Xiomera now are extreme, I'd hate to see what she might do when no one can stop her."

The room went silent. "If Yauhmi tries to restore a hereditary monarchy, or tries to make too many more radical changes....we cannot allow it," Cuālincōcatle said finally.

"We will not allow it," Xōchhuitl replied in a flat voice. "I would rather not do so, but if Yauhmi endangers Xiomera....we will need to remind her that all Emperors and Empresses serve at the pleasure of those that put them on the Obsidian Throne."

"For now, we must remain vigilant, and seek out others who aren't swayed or brainwashed by Yauhmi's cult of personality. When the time comes, if we must rein Yauhmi in....so be it." Calhualyana looked out the window again, at a rather large image of Yauhmi plastered on the building next door.

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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:53 am

Texōccoatl sneezed. "Mother. Must that thing be in here?"

The "thing" in question, a sleek black cat named Necuametl, gazed coolly at the Crown Prince from the lap of the Empress. Yauhmi petted the cat's head gently. "All rulers of Xiomera have a pet, it's tradition," she replied with a rather similar cool gaze at her son.

"But they all had dogs. My father had a dog. Dogs are useful, unlike this destroyer of furniture and producer of fur," Texōccoatl said with a sigh. The Crown Prince brushed at the lapels of his Xiuhtaca designer suit in a futile gesture.

"I presume you didn't come to see me because of my choice of pet," Yauhmi said as Necuametl leaped off her lap and padded off in search of a snack. With a gesture, the Empress waved at a nearby maid, who swiftly produced a jar of treats for the now loudly-purring cat.

"Of course not." Texōccoatl laughed as Yauhmi stood up, brushing at the fur on her A'pilne dress. "See? Cats are horrible pets. You have fur all over you too."

The Empress sighed, waving at a different maid, who immediately produced a lint remover and removed the offending fur. "Now I don't have any fur. And you're stalling," Yauhmi chided her son. "If you have something to say, say it."

Texōccoatl smiled; he had never been able to get anything past his mother. Next to him, his wife Tlalmaxxi shook her head with her own soft chuckle.

"Mother....I'm worried. You know I support your goals for Xiomera, as does Tlalmaxxi. As do many Xiomerans....but not all, as you surely know." Texōccoatl took a Cala Companion tablet out of his pocket, scrolling through a series of news headlines. "Xiomeran business community revolts....New tax plan raises concerns....Reforms upsetting traditional Xiomerans....Is the Empress leading Xiomera to socialism?" The Crown Prince shook his head in concern. "We may be moving too fast."

Yauhmi shook her own head, in vehement denial. "We aren't moving fast enough. Time is indeed of the essence. When Wu Zhou died, I realized just how quick one's time can run out. If I want to achieve my goals for Xiomera, I can't afford the luxury of moving slow. Besides, the people who hate my plans now will hate them just as much if I drag them out months, or years, or decades, if I was even lucky enough to live that long. They will never be happy with what I plan to do, Texōccoatl. I plan to change.....everything. And the people who will stand in opposition to me.....are people who hate to change anything." Yauhmi walked over to one of the windows of the Golden Chamber, looking out over the Palace gardens. "I find it amusing that some are comparing me to Camaxtica, when I want nothing more than to undo the worst of what she did to this land. But the comparison is fitting - Xiomera was prosperous and successful on the surface before she took power, but was stagnating and was in fact beginning to decline. Xiomera is in the same state now. After so many decades of rule by the iron fist, we have fallen into the same state of stagnation and blindness as before the Great Reformations. And as before, it will take dramatic change to save Xiomera from that stagnation."

The Empress turned back to Texōccoatl and Tlalmaxxi. "I have had to scheme, and lie, and bribe people to gain this throne. I have had to debase myself through the worst of the crime that is the Great Selection. I have had to lower myself and bargain with the corrupt, the venal and the base to gain this throne, and the power that comes with it. I put myself through all of that for one reason, and one reason alone: to save Xiomera. And the only way to save it is to attack the worst facets of it head-on. No delay, no negotiation, no scheming."

"Mother, I don't believe you're wrong, but...." Texōccoatl was momentarily lost for words, so Tlalmaxxi jumped in. "What we are worried about isn't Xiomera. It's you. The people you're challenging won't take this passively. You are placing yourself at great risk," Tlalmaxxi said with concern.

"What's the point of having the power that I have, if I don't do anything with it to serve the nation or its people? Risk comes with my job just as much as it does yours, Tlalmaxxi. You wouldn't let someone afraid of risk into ASI....you surely wouldn't want someone afraid of risk on the Obsidian Throne," Yauhmi replied calmly. Tlalmaxxi was the one left at a loss for words at that point; Yauhmi was right, after all.

"I know you're both worried about me. And I love you both for it," Yauhmi said after a moment of silence. "But after Topilpopoca died....I never wanted to be the ruler of Xiomera. That would probably surprise most people to hear," the Empress said. "But I saw the kind of people that were lining up to replace Topilpopoca. Corrupt businessmen, repression-minded tyrants in the making, naive fools who had no idea what it would take to navigate the dangers of this job. Someone needed to ensure that this country, and its people, would be protected. I am going to be that protector. Protectors, unfortunately, don't get the luxury of themselves being protected. That, too, comes with the job," Yauhmi replied with a slightly sad smile. "There are indeed many who may come after me, as we move forward. Let them. I want them out in the open. Enemies skulking around in secret....that's dangerous. Enemies who are kind enough to reveal themselves - they're so much easier to defeat."

Texōccoatl sighed again. "We have never been able to talk you out of anything. But you are wrong about one thing - there are plenty of people who will protect you. The two of us, for starters," he said, as Tlalmaxxi smiled. "But if I'm as good at reading the mood of the people as my father was....I think if you're planning a revolution, that there will be millions of Xiomerans joining you."

"Let's hope," Yauhmi said. "Because I do plan to start something."

----

Several hours later, in the Chamber of Whispers, the Great Council of Xiomera gathered. The purpose of the Great Council, at least in theory, was to give the leaders of the other three Huenyan tribes a chance to express their concerns to the Obsidian Throne. In theory, the Great Council was supposed to give the other three tribes a say in how Xiomera was run. In practice, almost from the moment of its creation centuries ago, it had served as a rubber stamp for whatever the Palace of Flowers dictated.

As the tlatoani and cihuacoatl of the other tribes waited, the Empress walked into the Chamber and sat down. "Thank you all for coming. I know this meeting was called on very short notice."

"We were told the meeting was on an urgent matter," Chipatzal, the tlatoani of the Itotemoc tribe, replied. "Is there something of importance occurring that we are not aware of?"

"There is, but not in the way you're thinking. This is not a current issue. This is about the future," Yauhmi said.

"Are you referring to the criticism you're beginning to receive about your policy changes?" Tapatecuhtli, the tlatoani of the Tepiltzin tribe, said with a look of confusion on his face. "We had previously said that we would support you through any troubles related to your agenda. That has not changed."

"I appreciate that, Tapatecuhtli. But I am referring to what I plan to do, not what I have already done." Yauhmi looked at the others, one by one. "I am the cihuātlahtoāni of Xiomera. Foreigners always mistranslated that as 'Empress', much as they always mistranslated huēyi tlahtoāni as Emperor. But as we all know, in our language, it means something different."

"It means 'great speaker'. We all know this," Cuicatia, the cihuacoatl of the Itotemoc, said with an expression of confusion. None of the others understood why the Empress was giving them a lesson in basic Huenyan language.

"The first among us is meant to be the speaker for the people of Huenya - for all of us, not just Xiomerans. That is how it should be. What if I told you that we can make it that way once more?" Yauhmi asked.

The expressions of the other tribal leaders shifted from confused to curious, as they waited to see where Yauhmi was going.

---

Several hours later, back in his palace in the Necatli tribal capital, Noxochicotzin, the tlatoani of the Necatli, placed a phone call. The call was brief, aggrieved, and to the point.

"Thank you for informing me of this. Speak to no one else of this," Undersecretary Calhualyana said, hanging up her secured line. The Undersecretary stood up from her desk in her office at the Cauhloc, looking out over the brightly lit Tlālacuetztla nighttime skyline.

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Xiomera
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Re: The Xiomeran Chronicles

Post by Xiomera » Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:28 am

Tlālacuetztla, April 2001

The Palace of Flowers, and the entire Imperial capital, were draped in decorations and pomp. A new Emperor had just taken the Obsidian Throne, and Xiomera was honoring the new ruler.

The long-ruling Emperor, Xolōtl, had passed away a month prior, and the Mandate of Huītzilōpōchtli had been handed down to the victor of the Great Selection. Topilpopoca, Xiomera’s highest-ranking General, had just outwitted, out-bribed, out-cajoled and out-threatened his way to power. He slowly ran his hands over the arms of the Obsidian Throne, as if trying to convince himself that it was finally his, before slowly sitting down in the most powerful chair in Xiomera.

Topilpopoca sighed. It had been a long and difficult rise to power, first in the ranks of the Imperial Army, and now to Emperor. But he had succeeded. And now, he would have a chance to rule Xiomera as he wanted. Xolōtl had been extremely old-fashioned and, in Topilpopoca’s view, shortsighted. Times were changing, and Xiomera was also changing, in ways not seen since the rapid industrialization of Camaxtica’s early reign. The world was changing as well - becoming more advanced and technological. There were fortunes to be made, and a future to be seized. Topilpopoca was determined to make sure that the Xiomeran Empire took full advantage of both.

“That chair looks good on you. Or, perhaps, it’s the other way around,” a soft voice echoed in the Throne Room, interrupting the Emperor’s dreaming. Topilpopoca smiled at the sight of who had walked into the room, extending his hands. Yauhmi took his hands in hers. “I rather think you’re beautifying this room more than a rough-hewn soldier,” he replied.

Yauhmi chuckled, seating herself in the chair reserved for the Emperor’s spouse next to the Obsidian Throne. “So....what do you plan to do first?” she asked.

“I hadn’t thought that far ahead, just yet. But judging from the look on your face, it seems like you already have a suggestion for me,” Topilpopoca replied. Yauhmi nodded, her expression turning serious. “I think we should revisit the Rural Development Initiatives that Xolōtl rejected last year,” she said.

“The rural initiatives?” Topilpopoca said, surprised. “I am not opposed to the idea....but, admittedly, not enthusiastic about it either. It seems like a lot to invest in marginal areas of the Empire - and in places and people that aren’t our biggest fans, for that matter.”

“True, on both counts. But how do we change that narrative? Xolōtl’s approach to these areas, especially in places like the Necatli region, was to send in more police and more soldiers to make the people there comply. We can do better than that. Keeping a foot planted on the necks of the people in those areas hasn’t exactly worked, has it? If we make investments in those areas - schools, hospitals, infrastructure - we can show people in those areas that the Empire cares about them. In the long term, that will accomplish a great deal more than Xolōtl’s heavy-handedness ever did. Winning over people to your cause is much more effective at getting them to support you than the application of mere force.”

Topilpopoca chuckled. “I don’t disagree with you. I just wasn’t aware that I married a closet reformist thirty years ago,” he said in a teasing tone.

Yauhmi gave him a slight swat on the shoulder. “I have always believed that doing the right thing bears its own rewards, you know that. You’ve always said that one of your goals was to make Xiomera more productive and stronger economically. If the rural areas of Xiomera continue to lag behind, we’ll never achieve that goal. They will be a millstone around our necks. But investing in these areas, and the people there, will help the entire Empire in the long term. It will bring about a healthier and better educated workforce, which will lead to greater productivity and economic strength. If it serves a social purpose while doing so, so much the better, I would argue.”

Topilpopoca sighed. “The powers that be weren’t enthusiastic about these initiatives when they were first proposed, as I recall.”

Yauhmi snorted. “You weren’t Emperor then. You are the ‘powers that be’, now. If you say you want these initiatives done, they’ll get done.”

“That is true, isn’t it....” Topilpopoca mused, as if feeling that power for the first time. “I will enact these initiatives on one condition, madam Empress. You will be the one to lead the initiatives.”

Yauhmi’s expression took on a look of surprise. “That is not the role most people would expect me to fill.”

“Of course not. I imagine most people expect you to fill a chair next to me, look pretty, and smile for the cameras. To be a purely ornamental Empress while I do the actual work. Most people are idiots,” Topilpopoca said. “I know what you’re capable of. You have just the right mix of compassion and pragmatism to make these programs happen. You’re also an excellent speaker, so you can sell these initiatives in a way that would not be believeable coming from me. And you have the knowledge and the intelligence to grasp the complexities of these initiatives, and make them work. Of course, I suppose I could find someone else to lead this effort if you prefer. Did you want to just be my female sidekick on the sidelines?”

“Hah!” Yauhmi barked, her expression genuinely offended by the suggestion that she would prefer to be a chair-filling sidekick, which made Topilpopoca roar with laughter. “See, that attitude is precisely why you’re the one to take on this role.” His expression took on a more thoughtful look. “Being Emperor is not going to be easy. And I am not perfect, nor truly omnipotent, despite what the rituals claim. I could use a strong Empress at my side to take this on with me. These initiatives would be the beginning. Once you have that experience, who knows what you could do?”

Yauhmi slowly nodded, after a moment. “I guess, like you, I have to start somewhere. Very well. You handle the mess here in Tlālacuetztla and in the other cities, I’ll fix the rural areas. We’ll meet in the middle.”



Over the next several years, the Rural Development Initiatives would transform Xiomera’s rural areas. New schools, hospitals and clinics would greatly improve the lives of rural Xiomerans. New infrastructure - electricity, roads, highways and Internet access - would vault them into the modern era, letting them catch up to Xiomera’s sprawling cities. And people in rural areas, seeing the Empress work tirelessly to help them, would come to revere Yauhmi as an almost parental figure.



Tlālacuetztla, 2020

“Your Majesty?”

The soft voice broke through Yauhmi’s thoughts. “We have the numbers on the new social programs to be offered in the cities and other urban areas. Did you still want to go over them?” Namacamina, the new Secretary of Support, asked.

“Yes, yes, of course. Please excuse me. I was just thinking about something,” the Empress said. “Just a daydream about the first person who believed in me.” The Empress gestured for Namacamina to continue.

The new Secretary mentally chuckled to herself. Daydreams, hmm? Must be nice. She fired up her presentation on the AV system in the conference room, as the Empress looked on expectantly.

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