10:29 AM ETC+3, October 26, 2022. Pelograd Prefecture airspace, Kingdom of Pelinai.
“I must say, Mr. Akirov; this meeting that you’ve organized is quite the gamble.”
“If you fear wolves, Prime Minister, it would be best not to go into the forest. The Kingdom of Pelinai desires to take its place among the great powers, and the future will bring many more of these ‘gambles.’ Such is the way of politics, as you of all people should know.”
“I am well aware, Mr. Akirov. But the Peocracy is a lethal foe; a small slip of our guard will spell doom for Pelinese sovereignty in the face of an established power such as Huawan.”
“That is the purpose of your presence here, Prime Minister. Your task is twofold: ensuring that Huawan keeps its hooks out of anything critical, as well as preventing the Queen from digging our nation’s grave by way of any naïve promises. Do this, and the Kingdom of Pelinai can obtain as much value from trade with Cordilia as possible without rendering itself vulnerable to being reduced to a puppet or lackey of Huawan or the League. There is much to be gained here, barring any false steps.”
“Of course, Mr. Kazak. But it will prove difficult for even me to effectively restrain the Queen; she wields immense sway over popular opinions here, and is more than willing to use this fact to protect herself from my attempts to check her dovish interactions with hostile powers.”
“Remember who we’re dealing with, Aleksei. This is the same nation and the same individual responsible for that… poorly worded document from some time ago. The Queen may be less guarded towards Huawan and the League than you are, but she is not a complete fool. If the Peony or anybody else makes such a grave misstep once more, then even Izumi will find it difficult to maintain her stance.”
Three men ride in the passenger cabin of a diplomatic helicopter while discussing the Peony’s visit to the Kingdom of Pelinai. All sit around a small table; all are dressed in black business suits with burgundy ties and small Pelinese Sakura pins on their jackets. These men are Prime Minister Aleksei Makarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Akirov, and Minister of Economics Sergei Kazak; the Minister of Education as well as the Minister of Strategic Resources are also en route to the Peonic delegation’s destination at the Royal Palace, though on a different flight. The roar of the helicopter blades presents a consistent background noise as they continue to discuss their plans for the visit and for how Pelinai will deal with Huawan in the broader geopolitical landscape of Pacifica.
The Pelinese government was already mildly hostile to Huawan due to its status as an established great power, and a past statement from the early days of the Rycco-Cordilian War did nothing but validate mistrust of it by officials like Makarov. But now is time for a daring play to strengthen the Pelinese economy with the unwitting help of the Peocracy. Securing a trade deal with a major power like Huawan will bring much benefit to Pelinai, but will also render it vulnerable to economic subversion or aggressive meddling in its internal affairs unless the proper steps are taken to prevent this. The three ministers continue to speak on their helicopter flight, preparing to brave this double edged sword in the name of advancing Pelinai’s power and interests.
10:29 AM ETC+3, October 26, 2022. Royal Palace, Pelograd, Kingdom of Pelinai.
Queen Izumi still had questions about why the ever-hawkish Aleksei Makarov and Boris Akirov would do such a thing as invite Huawan of all nations to a state visit in Pelinai. She suspected that they had at least one ulterior motive for calling this meeting; possibly attempting to coax more rhetorical ammunition from the Peonic government.
The Queen stopped for a moment to ponder the potential outcomes of the Peony’s visit. Normalizing Pelinai’s dealings with the League is a task that she has carried out relatively well with Weisserstein and the United Provinces, but Huawan was different. This was a much more powerful nation that Pelinai would be dealing with, and even Izumi understood the dangers that would come with risking a slide into its sphere of influence. But less hostile relationships with influential nations like Huawan carried benefits as well. Though the fine middle ground between international pariah and foreigner’s satellite may prove quite narrow in the future, this is the difficult road that Pelinai must walk on its path to assert itself on the world stage. Perhaps, Izumi hoped, the Peony had less malicious intentions than certain members of her government would have her think.
Regardless, it would be quite improper to not personally greet a foreign monarch as a guest to the Kingdom of Pelinai. Thus Queen Izumi must prepare for the meeting with the Peonic delegation, an event which may come in the very near future. She walks down to the familiar foyer of the Pelinese Royal Palace and instructs an attendant to notify her when the visitors arrive. As Izumi does so, she looks over the state of the room. The quartzite floors, the white painted walls, and the quartz chandelier and light fixtures seem to be in good order. Queen Izumi opens her notebook and checks off the last box in her to-do list of preparations, meaning that everything should now be ready for the arrival of Huawan’s Peony and the rest of its delegation.