Kingdom of Orion
15 February 2014
Fischer breathed the heavy sea air as the pinasse sped across the harbour surface towards the shore. As the draft of the Delphin prevented her from fully entering the harbour, the Rheinland fleet anchored within spitting distance of the harbour, easily visible from the shore. Fischer noted that many of the civilian crowd were intently watching the behemoths of old and new, no doubt discussing the ships among themselves. From the people clustering near the visitor quays a lot of them were no doubt waiting to take advantage of the two-day period the Delphin and Elisabeth were open for visitors. These people sure love ships.
The previously agreed on itinerary for the official program for the heads of states had been much stricter:
11:30 Arrival at Port Rigel
12:30 Lunch at local restaurant
14:00 Guided tour to the Orion Superbattleship John P. Wallace, media availability
20:00 State Dinner at the Royal Palace
09:00 Reichkanzler Fischer welcoming the Royal Family on visit to IRNS Delphin and RNS Derfflinger
12:00 Lunch - old Rhenish seamen food onboard the Delphin
14:00 Treaty signing underneath A-turret of Delphin
15:00 Media availability in Port Rigel
16:00 Travel through Orion historic sites
20:00 Farewell celebrations in Port Rigel
22:00 Departure from Orion
Oddly enough, the first to disembark from the Rhenish delegation was the huge Leopard, who took one large leap to finally have her paws on firm ground again. Next to disembark was the Chancellor himself, followed by Rear-Admiral Sané of the IRNS Delphin, commander of the Rhenish battlegroup, and Assistant undersecretary of State Lenoir, who would be responsible for drafting the proposed treaty. The final 9 persons in the group were eight members of the Black Guard led by Keiko Watanabe herself, who quickly attached a silver leash to Shadow and then handed that one to the chancellor. The leash of course was more to reassure the watching public instead of providing any real protection in case Shadow went mad. And I have no doubt Orion has a large number of snipers trained on us for that scenario already.
After the formation had been established, the Rhenish delegation walked forward to meet the Royal delegation.
King Alexander waited with his family (well, Samuel and Queen Jessica, Isabella was studying for exams whilst Prince David had a training rotation with the cadets and little Emily was too young for such an event), Admiral McKenna, Foreign Secretary Natalie Abrams, Interior Secretary Ralph Emerson, Defence Secretary Ian Fletcher, Treasury Secretary John Wiliams and OSA Director James Greer. These six were the principal advisers to the King, the inner circle of Orion politics.
As the boat approached the assembled band from the Royal Marines struck up the Rhenish national anthem.
Once the boat moored up there was a moment of shock as a huge leopard leaped down first. It was a beautiful creature and only clearly glad to be back on solid ground. Ah the King though this must be Shadow. A strange custom to keep leopards around, but it seems harmless enough. Despite that thought, he turned his head a fraction to Secretary Fletcher and muttered quietly.
"Ian, tell me we have someone keeping that thing in their sights, just in case."
The man replied, just as quietly: "Of course Sire. Standard protocol when large animals are around."
Reassured, the King stepped forward to greet the Chancellor. In the background, the assembled band finished the last bars and fell silent, as did the watching crowds.
"Herr Chancellor, I bid you welcome to the Kingdom of Orion. It is an honour to host both you and your magnificent ships. Together we can forge a closer bond for our two nations and step into the future."
Fischer quickly handed over the leash to Keiko as protocol dictated in such a situation. After all, nobody wanted to bring Shadow close enough to foreigners until she had determined them not to be a threat.
"Your majesty, I am honored by your invitation and your hospitality. The Imperial and Federal Union of Rheinland and lesser territories shares your desire for a closer bond that will ensure freedom and prosperity for all."
Fischer extended his hand, which the king shook. The media took this as a cue to shower them with flashes, from which the black guard thankfully had shielded the Leopard's eyes by maneuvering her far to the side of the two.
After posing for pictures, the two delegations headed for lunch at a local restaurant, the Shining Star, known throughout Port Rigel as offering the very best food in town. Nothing on the menu could be realistically called gourmet, but the collections of steaks (of nearly any kind imaginable), pastas and currys were cooked to perfection (despite the somewhat eclectic mix of dishes available). The restaurant featured a huge garden, which had been cordoned off for the leopard to eat its own food - a freshly shot buck from the King's forest - and to relieve herself. Something which seemed to amuse the hosts. The King's son, Prince Samuel, seemed to be particularly fascinated by the ease in which the jaws of Shadow ripped apart the buck to feast on the marrow and innards. "If I might, Herr Kanzler, I know that leopards are the symbol of executive power in Rheinland. But why not a Dolphin, which after all is the symbol of your state?"
Fischer swallowed quickly. "Well, I'd imagine Dolphins are a bit hard to keep around." After a minute, he continued. "But truthfully, they are a relict of our past. When we first made contact with the people on Tellus South, one of our Royal princes decided he would attempt to bring back those exotic cats as guardians. Since then that bloodline has served as last line of defence to many an Emperor - and eventually to the Chancellors when we wrested the highest powers from the monarchy. Currently there are about 70 of them in their den at the Royal Palace, with one chosen for each chancellor. Shadow's been with me for all my years in office - though it has taken some time to get used to the smell."
"I don't doubt it. I am very glad that we discarded some of our odder customs during the Secession. Some of my forebears, for instance, insisted on having thrones draped in wolf pelts and at least one experimented with keeping Timber Wolves from Underwood as palace pets. That last one was abandoned after one of the younger and less well trained specimens caused a diplomatic fracas by partially eating a visiting dignitary who offended the King. Since then we mostly stuck to dogs."
"Ah yes, I had heard of that incident. I understand your family has a fondness for Rheinland Shepherds?" The Chancellor was finding it very easy to talk with Alexander, but he could not help but remember that underneath the pleasant exterior was a man who had executed five people on live television.
"We do indeed. Labradors and Retrievers and terriers and so on are all fine animals, but in my experience you don't find a more loving or loyal creature than a hearty Shepherd. Except Shadow of course." The Leopard looked over briefly at the mention of her name before returning to her meal. The Chancellor smiled.
"May I ask how you manage to promote such a fanaticism for knowledge and learning in your citizens?"
"That's quite simple really. Knowledge is power, after all, and a commodity far more valuable than tanks or guns. We learned the hard way when the Outlanders first arrived, we only drove them off because there were a handful of them and tens of thousands of us. King Mintaka swore that we would not be caught unprepared the next time Outlanders arrived. It's been engrained in us for five hundred years now."
The small talk continued whilst the meals were consumed and Shadow finished stretching her legs; she was clearly happier back on dry land. None in attendance who had experienced heavy seas - meaning nearly all of them - could blame her.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on a tour to the Orion Superbattleship John P. Wallace. The good order of the crew and ship impressed the visitors, as well as allowed them to exchange professional opinions, the latter of which was freely taken up by Rear-Admiral Sané, who found the king to be quite easy to talk to.
"Your majesty, I see that your ships seem to have followed the four turret, 12 guns layout, as we did. Have you ever considered going up to 18" caliber?"
"We considered it, certainly, but we found that there really weren't any targets that warranted the bigger caliber. We also decided that trading twelve 16" for eight 18" was too great a loss in effective firepower. With twelve guns firing twin salvos we can get off six rounds of gunfire before each gun reloads, letting us keep up a higher rate of fire, which nicely speeds up correcting the range."
Admiral Sané considered that for a moment. "Yes, the latter got very problematic with the 20" guns installed on the Elizabeth. You speak from experience, your majesty?"
That elicited a grin from the King. "Indeed Admiral. My last posting in my Navy days was Gunnery Commander on this very ship. It was painful to leave her, even to take up the throne.
Visiting the battleship also allowed the delegation to ask some questions where nobody from the media could listen in. Fischer took the opportunity while pretending to admire the loading mechanism in A-turret for the massive 16"guns. "Your majesty, if I may, what made you execute people on live TV?"
The King's amiable smile vanished, leaving the steely face of a man who had asked himself that question many times. "We had to show them that they couldn't win, that they couldn't make us afraid. Beyond that, they killed so many of my people, as a diversion so they could threaten millions more. As their ruler, and as the one who passed sentence upon them, I felt obliged to look them in the eyes and end them myself. It isn't something I am proud of and it has cost me a lot of sleep since then. But if I have to, it is something I will do again."
Fischer nodded. "I do hope that you will never have to do it again, Your majesty." He hoped the subtext was understood without taking offence. For the King's action had resulted in not so few newspaper questioning the wisdom of aligning oneself with somebody who seemed at best challenged in mood control and unhinged at worst.
"So do I Herr Chancellor, so do I."
After some more shop talk the parties returned to the shore. To ease the mood of the leopard, the Rheinland delegation would sleep on shore, in a spacious villa with plenty of fenced-in garden space.
Kingdom of Orion
The following day
On the following day King Alexander and his family (this time including Princess Isabella who, having spent much of the previous night's state dinner chatting (her father would say flirting) with Rhennish officers and had begged to be allowed on the visit) were welcomed by the Reichskanzler onboard the IRNS Elisabeth, with the ~4200 members of her crew standing at muster in honour of the royal visitors. The visitors were shown the massive 510cm/52 guns and ammunition, with a photo opportunity being used while standing in front of a massive 20.1" shell.
After about one hour of visiting the visitors were transferred to the RNS Derfflinger. This tour took considerably longer as this time more and more professional questions were asked and the entourage of the King which accompanied him to the IRNS Delphin was considerably smaller as a large number of officers remained behind to observe operations aboard the Derfflinger. As was expected, the schedule run over, especially with the tour of the Delphin following, including an arranged lecture about the many historic places on the ship - including where the great Rhenan admirals had sat while commanding the battles of the eighty-years wars.
Following this, lunch was served in the officer's mess, consisting of the traditional meal of the Imperial Rhenan Navy - soused herring, rolled herring, salt herring and boiled potatoes served with sliced onions and a variety of cream, yoghurt and sour cream sauces. Though traditional and nutritious, not a few of the eaters shot envious glances at the Leopard, who was chewing away on a leg of mutton. This was especially true of Princess Isabella, who had never had much taste for fish. Despite the unsaitisfying lunch she retained her manners as a good Princess should Though the various sorts of beer and wine served before, during and after the meal did do a lot to quelch any complaints; the young Princess being permitted a single glass under the stern gaze of her mother.
Conversation, unsurprisingly, was heavily centered on the Derfflinger. Also unsurprisingly, it was the King who spearheaded it.
"Admiral Sané, the Derfflinger is a fine ship and I look forward to seeing her sisters flying Orion colours, but I understand that the ships are not particularly favoured in Rheinland?"
The Admiral took a sip of wine before answering. "It is not so much that they are unfavoured Your Majesty, it is that there are some in the Navy who see no point to the vessels. We have seen for decades now that the aircraft carrier is the queen of the seas, so building a large, crew-intensive vessel purely for surface combat seemed pointless. Any anti-aircraft or anti-missile duty could be handled by destroyers just as easily and on a cheaper hull."
Lunch and conversation was cut short when the ship's bell chimed to note that it was 14:00 clock, time to sign the treaty. Once again, the crew had been assembled to muster in their 1940 dress whites&blues with the cuffbands showing IRNS DELPHIN in golden letters (something that according to tradition would be a part of any other uniform they would wear, no matter the position) providing a great visual for the mob of photographers and TV reporters who had shown up.
The actual signing was kept short and to the point. After two very short speeches, in which both the King and Fischer reiterated the common ground of their nations, each signed the treaty text.Treaty regarding the formation of the Defense PactPREAMBLE
His Excellency Dr. phil. Dr. h.c. (mult) Erwin Julius Fischer, Reichskanzler of the Federal and Imperial Union of RHEINLAND and Lesser Territories etc.,
His Royal Majesty Alexander Cromwell DSC, MSc, King of ORION etc.,
RESOLVED to mark a new stage in international cooperation,
RECALLING the horrors of the Eighty-Years war and other conflicts
CONFIRMING their attachment to the principles of the rule of law,
DESIRING to deepen the solidarity between their peoples while respecting their history, their culture and their traditions,
DETERMINED to promote economic and social progress for their peoples,
RESOLVED to implement a common defence and security policy
REAFFIRMING their objective to facilitate the free movement of persons and knowledge, while ensuring the safety and security of their peoples,
RESOLVED to secure the freedom of the seas and defend global trade,
DETERMINED to resolve the claims on each other's territories
HAVE DECIDED to establish this TREATY OF ALLIANCE
SECTION I: PARTIES
ARTICLE I: PARTIES
(I) Parties to this treaty are the Federal and Imperial Union of RHEINLAND and Lesser Territories (RHEINLAND) and the Kingdom of ORION.
(II) Subsequent Parties might be admitted to this treaty if current members support such amendment unanimously.
(III) This treaty shall bind all current and future iterations of the respective members as well as successor states.
SECTION II: THE STATUS OF THE CITIZEN
ARTICLE I: PERSONAL FREEDOMS
All members recognize the rights of their citizens to individual freedoms as laid out by the constitutions of the member states. All members will take efforts to ensure their citizens can freely exercise these freedoms.
ARTICLE II: ADDITIONAL RIGHTS
(I) In addition to the above-mentioned rights, every citizen of a member state shall have the right to move freely between member nations, to own and to sell property, to marry and to take part in commerce.
(II) Every citizen of a member state shall have the opportunity to gain citizenship of another membership after a period of residency no longer than five years in said member state.
(III) Every citizen of a member state shall have the right to study in all institutes of lower and higher education in another member state provided they meet the entry requirements.
ARTICLE III: DISPUTES
(I) In cases of legal disputes arising between citizens of different member states, the law of the state in which the dispute arose shall be the deciding one. Can this not be ascertained, the Rhenish Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch shall be assumed to be the final authority on the subject.
(II) In case of disputes between member states an independent commission shall deliver the final verdict. (see Article IV)
ARTICLE IV: COMMISSION
(I) An independent commission will be set up. The seat of the commission shall be the Free City of Großbremen.
(II) In case of dispute the Commission shall decide.
(III) The commission shall not overrule the decisions of the highest courts of the member states if it pertains to individuals.
SECTION III: ECONOMIC POLICIES
ARTICLE I: TRADE BARRIERS
All trade barriers between member states shall be abolished.
ARTICLE II: EXPORT AND IMPORT
(I) If possible and economically feasible, member states shall primarily purchase goods and resources from each other. Member states shall have the first right of refusal to any export.
(II) This does not apply to the private sector.
SECTION IV: WAR AND PEACE
ARTICLE I: PEACE
The member states shall endeavor to promote the common peace.
ARTICLE II: WAR
(I) An Attack upon any member state is an attack upon all.
(II) This does not apply to non-state actors.
ARTICLE III: INTELLIGENCE SHARING
All member states shall share intelligence with each other so far as it pertains to the national security of each member state.
SECTION V: TERRITORIAL AND OTHER CLAIMS
(I) The member states renounce all claims to each other's territory as null and void.
(II) This particularly includes, but is not limited to, the claims of ORION to the territory of Westrheinland (former Britonia).
All other claims, should they exist, shall be arbitrated by the commission.
SECTION VI: COMMON DEFENCE
ARTICLE I: PURPOSE
All members shall coordinate their common defence.
ARTICLE II: PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY
(I) Certain members shall be given primary responsibility for the defence of certain areas
(II) Primary responsibility denotes that the nation in question shall be given the responsibility of assessing the threat and developing a strategy for the region. The nation in question shall have the duty of primarily financing the defence of the region in question, but may call for assistance from the other member state(s)
ARTICLE II: AREAS OF PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY
Areas of primary responsibility are:
a) North of the Equator: RHEINLAND
b) Sourth of the Equator: ORION
ARTICLE III: FORMER COLONIES
The member states shall not be required to lend any assistance beyond logistical and intelligence assistance to the defence of former colonies of a member nation.
ARTICLE IV: JOINT DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
All member states declare their commitments to participate in joint development projects.
ARTICLE V: JOINT MANEUVERS
All member states are encouraged to perform joint maneuvers.
ARTICLE VI: BASING RIGHTS
All member states shall have permanent basing rights in each other's territories in exchange for a reasonable fee.
ARTICLE VII: JOINT PATROL
The development of joint patrols shall be encouraged.
ARTICLE VIII: COMMANDERS
(I) Nations of primary responsibility have command in their respective areas in wartime. They are subject to a central Alliance High Command being established.
(II) commanding officers of multi-national detachements shall be chosen to an agreed-upon roster. In case of one nation contributing more than 60% to the task force, that nation shall have the rights to name the task force commander.
ARTICLE IX: COMMAND SHIPS
The flag of command ships of multinational detachments shall be a Golden Dolphin and a Golden Lion on blue.
SECTION VII: MISCELLANEOUS
ARTICLE I: EXCHANGE
(I) A cultural exchange program shall be set up.
(II) A student exchange program, both for schools and universities, shall be set up.
ARTICLE II: VALIDITY OF THE TREATY
(I) The present treaty shall become valid immediately upon signature.
(II) Any nation may cease to be a member one year after notice has been given of the intention of withdrawal. In such a case, the member has to reimburse the other nation(s) for their loss of investments.
Alexander Cromwell DSC, MSc, King of ORION etc.
Dr. phil. Dr. h.c. (mult) Erwin Julius Fischer, Reichskanzler of the Federal and Imperial Union of RHEINLAND and Lesser Territories etc.
The two signatories shook hands while each was handed a framed copy of the treaty. Media availability was next.
"Your Majesty, how will this treaty benefit the common Orion citizen?" The inevitable inane question opened the round.
"It will benefit them enormously. Unrestricted travel to and throughout Rheinland, unrestricted access to universities and schools within our new ally, the cultural exchange from Rhennish students coming to study and learn with us, the elimination of all trade barriers leaving to a close and prosperous economic relationship, a powerful ally on the world stage, these are all things that will benefit each and every one of you."
"Herr Chancellor, is it relieving for you to see Orion finally withdraw it's territorial claims?"
"Relieved is perhaps too strong a word. We have always recognised that the claims in question were more for history's sake than any serious attempt to annexe our territory. Still, it was an impressive act of good faith to unilaterally abandon these claims, regardless of whether the treaty was signed or not."
"Your Majesty, do you plan to visit Rheinland in the near future?"
"Certainly it is too early to say for certain, but I would be honoured to visit our new ally. I know my family are very interested in seeing the ruins of ancient southern Rheinland, I understand they are most impressive."
"Herr Chancellor, will there be any effect on military deployments?"
"We will soon begin more detailed talks between our two Naval Staffs, but certainly joint exercises will take place. However Rheinland has no intention in increasing the presence in this part of the world, for we are very confident in the strength of our friends. The Treaty agrees basing arrangements for ships though, so I am sure that Orion sailors will be a common sight in Rhennish ports, and vice-versa."
The press asked a few more questions; they were keen enough to attend such a momentous occasion, but the questions could mostly be answered by simply reading the treaty, something they all planned to do upon return to their offices.
The party moved to a waiting helicopter for their quick-fire tour of famous sights in and around Port Rigel. First there was the monument marking the first landings of Outlanders on Orion soil, nearly four hundred years ago, and not far from the that the marker for where those Outlanders were driven back into the sea.
The helicopter turned inland, and all aboard could see the huge mountain that dominated the interior near Rigel. The King gave an explanation of the mountain and it's purpose, all aboard the aircraft noted the pride in his voice:
"Mount Erebus, the long-extinct volcano that formed Orion. 3400 hundred metres of nearly solid basalt. Now, nestled within the empty magma chamber is the Mount Erebus Complex, the nerve centre for our military and, in times of war, our ultimate redoubt. Buried a kilometer deep inside the mountain are the command centres for our military, although only the Space Forces are permanently headquartered there. With the radars at the summit and their own nuclear reactor for power, the Complex can track everything in the sky over nearly a third of the world and even things in orbit. The Complex provides an unbreachable fortress for our generals and admirals to oversee any crisis. Indeed, our engineers once calculated you would need twenty million tonnes of explosive to breach the complex."
The number was startling; there were very, very few facilities on Tellus as well-protected as this. As shocking as the idea of twenty million tonnes of explosive was, just looking at the mountain made those aboard the helicopter believe it.
The helicopter turned again, heading over Hephaestus, the former capital that still bore the ugly scars of the terrorist attacks. To the north lay the beautifully preserved Palace of the Hunter Tribe, where Orion as a nation had been borne in the form of the Tribal Council.
Onwards again to Paradise City; the helicopter landed for a brief tour of the Senate. The grand marble building made an impressive sight, even to the Rhennish who were used to such mighty and ancient edifices. Finally the group flew over the Royal Palace. Even seeing it in all it's grandeur during the state dinner the previous night, the view from the air was spectacular. What touched the visitors most though was the display in the gardens; at the suggestion of six-year-old Princess Emily, the gardners (helped by the Princess) had planted thousands of bright yellow flowers in the shape of a dolphin.
After the extensive - and exhausting - tour, the groups, which by now had mingled into one large party, gathered at the Port to say farewell. Once again, speeches were held, handshakes (and in some cases, hugs) were exchanged. The leopard was not present anymore, having been sedated again by the Black Guard.
For what was to follow was not something for the delicate ears of the beast, so she was now already on her way in an Orion helicopter to the carrier taskforce cruising of the Orion coast. As they had on arrival, the Orion dreadnoughts fired the first salvo, ending after another 21 gun salute.
This time, the Rhenish ships answered. To any observer having doubt on the value the Rhenish placed on this treaty, there could be no more doubt left after that performance. For as the two Rhenish superbattleships left the harbour, their guns turned and responded with a salute of their own. But this was not just any salute. It was the customary salute usually only performed on accession of an Emperor or the annual marriage of the sea ceremony.
One by one, each single gun and gun turret fired a rippling broadside from bow to stern, with each gun firing with timed precision. This rolling salute started with the three guns of the A turret of the Delphin crashing out in unison and ended with the D turret of the Elisabeth. This was repeated 21 times, giving the impression of a constant, gigantic flame rolling over the two ships.
And then, the specially configured VLS cells of the Derfflinger, the last ship in formation, opened and bathed the port in over 600 oversized firework missiles, illuminating the with the national colours of the two nations.
Watching from the shore, the King smiled at the display. His son looked on with awe, before finally turning to his father as the last of the colours faded.
"So Dad, the future is here?"
"It certainly is Sam. Orion will never quite be the same."
-Orion and Rheinland are officially united in the Defence Pact (working title AFAIK)
-Orion officially withdraws all outstanding territorial claims against Rheinland, freely and forever
-All trade barriers are withdrawn and free movement of citizens is permitted
-Cultural exchange programs will be established
-Joint military exercises and development projects are in the works