Part 23: Contrapeso
"Give me some good news about the Shoshone, Almeida."
"Nothing from the Bissau coast, unfortunately, as Reis was unable to identify troops through the dense hills of the inner continent."
"The Japanese haven't reported any troop sightings, and for the most part the size of the combined Venetian-Shoshone army is at best theoretical for now."
"Nobunaga is not willing to consider engaging the remaining Venetians at this time, perhaps because of his unwillingness to work with us, perhaps because of the size or relative capabilities of his army."
"Theodora fared little better, as despite her army recovering some significant strength she is not going to commit them against a technologically advanced force."
"The Sidon Volunteer Corps are returning from Adrianople in order to form a front, but there is no sign of Shoshone forces as of yet."
The President's next words were interrupted by the sound of music out the window, as she picked up on the familiar tones of Fado classics from outside the wall.
"I'm honestly surprised that you authorized the construction of that new music hall so close to the office, Senhora Presidente."
"It's of the utmost importance to balance our duties with leisure, Almeida."
Though concerned as he was with operational security, Almeida said nothing.
"On a different note, the dispatch from the Armada claims that there is an anarchist force armed with primitive weapons spreading terror in western Venice. We are moving one of the volunteer forces to neutralize them."
"The delegates from the myriad City States have voted in the Conference per Salazar's instructions, though we will not know the results for some time."
"Finally, Bissau is preparing to build up a military force to provide backup for the volunteer forces, if necessary."
Thinking of her countrymen and fellow freedom fighters, traveling far from home in search of answers, the President waited before responding.
"Would that we could communicate our wishes to them faster, Almeida."
Meanwhile, in the city, Salazar was preparing to meet a theologian of some renown in one of the newly-constructed Fado bars in the Lisboan city centre.
Amalia Rodrigues - Gaivota
"What do you suppose our mission is in this world, Senhor?" Salazar asks the man he would call his mentor during an interlude. "I see it as presenting people with the opportunity to enrich their lives."
"What we do is in the best interest of all people, and we are generous of spirit to those who would accept our rule, but there are limits."
"I spoke to a Protestant in Bissau some time ago, and he told me that the fortune we promise to our people comes at the cost of their immortal souls."
"I've since come to understand that the soul does indeed have a price, and that the exchange we Sebastianists offer is more than fair."
"What other nation can claim that its people are the ones in control of its governance? That decisions at the highest levels of power are only made following the will of those masses that offer their views?"
"To me, this is an absurdity, we offer the protections and the opportunities to thrive, but we are always at risk of allowing them to throw it all away if they make a mistake."
"Yet, I am proven wrong time and time again, these people and their freedoms serve us with faith despite being given every opportunity to betray it for their own gain."
"I cannot say that I would do the save if given the opportunity, but in the end I must accept this as one of the providences of the world the Huntress has given us."
"The people of Venice will need your help to see the light, Senhor. I have done everything I can to prepare them for your arrival, but in the end you will be needed to guide their souls forward."
"The only guarantee that I have that you will do so...is that you act according to your own will."
The announcement that the Shoshone had expelled the Portuguese ambassadors from their borders was met with shock and dismay from the general public, but at the halls of the President's office, the embassy staff were being received one by one for interviews with Almeida.
"I had heard from a Brazilian rebel in one of the Moson Kahni favela that Pedro is becoming wary of the President." The first man explained hurriedly. "They are Buddhist, you see, and apparently quite concerned that the volunteer corps will begin some sort of violence in their realm."
"I was hiding with a Byzantine family." Another teary-eyed diplomat followed. "They told me they were sympathizers to the cause of freedom, and that Eliana had told them of a plot the Byzantines were undertaking against Brazil."
"Is it true that Venice still has anarchists? Tyranny of the Majority types?" A rather headstrong diplomat inquired. "I thought those had died along with the Latin language. What a world we live in."
With these accounts flooding in, the President began to give more and more credence to the ideas myriad sources had for improving what was now being termed a "global border crisis."
Though the Portuguese often had issues respecting sovereignty under all circumstances, there has been a marked improvement in recent history to acknowledge that some pieces of human history need to be considered by other humans.
After all, these shared ideas and experiences are a contributing factor in just about every significant scientific advancement in history.
Yet, there is little time for sentimentality, as the Shoshone wolves are at the door.
Though volunteer forces continue to make themselves known in Bissau, there is a concern that they will be ill-prepared for their upcoming mission.
Also, the less there is to be said about Venetian diplomatic legerdemain, the better.
Pedro's latest missive showed some bemusement at the continued comings and goings of Portuguese diplomats from his imperial palace at all hours of the day, but he seemed willing to continue collaborating all the same.
Comfortable that the devout Buddhist would reject Dandolo's calls for acknowledgement of a dying faith as universal to all people, the President instead concerned herself with securing some of his other votes.
It was a bit more expensive to get Theodora to agree to vote against Dandolo, but she understood the value of such a deal to the Portuguese, and the trade was indeed fair to both parties given their relative standings.
Ashurbanipal's security was really not in doubt, but the gesture of maintaining a treaty of mutual defence was important to the cause of freedom fighters.
A rather antiquated volunteer force, secured as they were with the cannons from the navy on the coast, made short work of the Venetian anarchists' arctic home base.
The Portuguese picket, meanwhile, began to set up boundaries around the Brazilian capital. Shoshone forces, upon seeing their approach, hastily dispatched runners back to Moson Kahni to report on history repeating itself.
The shipyards are beginning the long-awaited process of modifying the old Nau fleets into something a little more suitable for the present day.
This seems as good a cause for celebration as any.
What is more surprising is the Sidon Volunteer force offering to transfer an Admiral to Portuguese command. There is concern that the Armada is beginning to bloat with the number of talented officers under its employ.
Diplomacy must stay the course, though not without one major storm to contend with.
"You cannot be serious." The President told Almeida upon reading the printed response. "How can he say this when the Shoshone are actively trying to conquer his cities, and he does not even have a standing army to defend them?!"
"I have thought about this for a long time, Senhora Presidente." The Brazilian Emperor dictated to the typist at the Portuguese embassy, who guaranteed him that the strange machine she used would transmit the response to Lisboa by day's end.
"The world we live in is increasingly guided by the hand of the Portuguese empire, and that your influence, while generously-minded and well-intentioned, contradicts your own notion that people have the right to determine their own fates. If we are to prove your ideas correct, we must put them into practice and show the world that we too are capable of independence. Your troops may still move within our borders, and I will not stymie your efforts to undermine the Shoshone, but we will not be cooperating on matters of mutual defence for the time being, at least not officially. For now, I must take this time to decide how this empire will move forward, with or without the intervention of Portugal."
As Shoshone forces swarmed the interior of Brazilian territories, their jeers and invective were heard across battle lines. Fortunately that was the best they could offer, as cries of "Go home, Portuguese" and "Out of our way, tyrants!" were meaningless, but they dared not open fire.
Though there were concerns that Sao Paulo defenders would be overwhelmed by the remaining Venetian condottieri, they had done an admirable job of protecting their borders, and instead the Cavalry force contented itself with hunting down anarchists.
Knowing that there was still a peace treaty to be respected and an image to maintain, The President decided to decline this request.
Pedro, however, seemed content to forgive Byzantine plots hatched in dark corners of Constantinople.
The freedom of thought cultivates the brightest minds the world has known.
Noting Theodora's desire to make war on Venice, the President determines that the best show of support she can provide is, once more, through the nation's wealth.
Oda, however, remains strangely committed to avoidance of conflict, though perhaps he abhors the thought of fighting alongside his former conquest.
On hearing what the Shoshone invaders had to say to the Volunteer forces stationed in Brazil, the President thought it best to share some of them with Pocatello.
The home defence network, now linked through the power of electricity-aided communications, was now even more effective in blunting other nations' clandestine aims.
Thereafter, a significant portion of the Treasury was distributed to City-States, in order to secure their allegiances and, more saliently, reduce the number of enemies that Pedro would have to contend with.
Securing that same peace with Byzantium, however, would cost more in terms of Portuguese goods.
As explorations continued around the world, Portuguese scholars began to wonder about the lines that separated them from their fellow man.
Barriers of language and race can be overcome, and differences in culture are ultimately what their own ilk are seeking to better understand.
People seem universally drawn to ideas of beauty and grandeur, and the desire to be admired, as well as to admire.
Rules governing the exchange of goods are among the oldest tenets of Sebastianists, and this exchange is what has blessed the Portuguese with the wealth that has since predicated their rise to the foremost of global empires.
Even borders have been fluid from time to time.
The ideology of rulers is the largest contributing factor to this, however.
What remains, then, is the shared and disparate human experience that we call "culture" that separates people.
This is most apparent in the case of Assyria, once a society crushed under the heel of Roman oppression, have now flourished thanks to the actions of the Portuguese, and the differences between us disappear by the day.
Though we still find cause to develop weapons and defences against other humans, culture is something that may be able to promote peace between people.
The Portuguese, in pursuing joy and learning, are ever in the process of discovering one of the greatest truths of humanity.
There is less that separates us than there are things that make us alike.
A new Protestant stronghold has been located in Wellington hinterlands.
Salazar's colleague spreads the word of Sebastião in Venice.
Even more than money, Diplomacy is what makes the world go round.
Finally, as the jeers of the Assyrians are drowned out by Brazilian cannon fire, the word races through the streets that several companies of the Sidon-Belgrade volunteer force are no longer under the employ of the Portuguese.
Effective immediately, they report to Brazil for further orders.
After all, Pedro did not ask for direct intervention, thus indirect will have to do, in the same manner as the Portuguese expeditions have been taught to respect border treaties to within the greatest degree of technicality they can muster.
Rio de Janeiro begins to suffer under Shoshone cannon fire, but their battle lines are starting to break.
Such is the boundless generosity of Portugal.
In the end, even Pedro must recognize that his interest lies in accepting help where it is both offered, and necessary.
Yet again, diplomatic technicality strikes, as the treaty of Open Borders expires and Portuguese forces are rapidly expelled from Brazilian territories.
While renewing this deal is in his own interest, Pedro is not above seeking recompense for the continuity of this treaty.
The President reportedly said "He has learned well" upon hearing this news.
The plan continues in earnest, as more and more Volunteer companies receive the order to report to Pedro henceforth.
Though Ashurbanipal demonstrates one of the dangers of the disappearance of culture, it must be said that his people have provided a very interesting reflection on the Fado tradition, as their own music laments the loss of Assyrian historical tradition.
Their propensity for wearing trousers made of blue denim, normally reserved for field work, is also a trend that quickly gains steam in the mainland.
Theodora continues to make diplomatic overtures toward the President.
They are reciprocated in turn, when it becomes apparent that Pedro may be turning his newfound military into a sword to wield against the Byzantines.
As a hopeful safeguard against such a measure, terms of mutual defence are renewed with the Byzantines.
Just as Pedro must pay for his own privilege of exporting Brazilian culture to Portugal.
The transience of experience is something that makes for interesting ideas in the manufacturing sector.
In areas of learning, it is even said that people are turning away from purely Sebastianist interpretations of history and academics, which is a significant step when considering that Sebastianists value learning so highly to begin with.
We are in an era of learning more about ourselves than the rest of the world.
Brazil's new Volunteer Defence Force brings its weapons to bear, and the Shoshone are steadily forced back to their own borders.
However, no Portuguese offering is complete without providing a ship as well.
Assyria appears to be making an impression abroad with the Shoshone as well, though that may be because Pocatello views the Portuguese and Assyrians interchangeably, now that they are not separated by the barriers of culture.
Through the coordinated efforts of the newly created Sistema de Informações da República Portuguesa, a promising young agent is sent to Moson Kahni to better understand the politics at play within Shoshone territory.
It is then that one of the greatest Portuguese undertakings begin in earnest.
...Even if the cause of world peace seems further away than ever.
A ser continuado.
Thanks for sticking around to read this one even if it is a bit behind schedule. One other thing I tried to do was shrink the images further to test compatibility with the LP Archive, as I now realize that the majority of images here will not fit should I try to archive it.
I do have access to the original screenshots, and will try to adjust them to fit in it works for the Archive. However, I am also concerned that there is a drop in quality on the screenshots when they are reduced as they have been here, so I would appreciate some feedback as to whether you all think it makes more sense to shrink the screenshots to under 900px wide as I have for this post, or simply move the pages to an LP Screenshot Test Post format when I ultimately archive this work.