Sep 29, 2022 3:39 AM
Vanda Nosseo lands on a world that fights a lot of wars.
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Meanwhile, rather deeper inside Gerontmarkh (by the map) or Ljudizem (by claimed territory), Edelrich Desnauen, Heir of Desnau, commanding the Desnauen First Army (which recently quarreled with the Golden King's leadership and went north towards Desnau's border), will meet the ambassadors poll workers of Vanda Nosseo in a small town that happens to be on a major road junction.

She wears her full war dress, which is a military tunic and pants in a blue so deep as to be almost black, and over that a conjured coat whose trailing skirt reaches almost to the ground, the same blue-black with red cords the exact shade of the falcon of Desnau snaking down the length of the jacket down to its cuffs and the hungry bird itself on her back and breast, all fringed in the gold of an ace's constructs. Her officers' baton is a rifle musket (that takes thirty seconds to load for someone who can't just spin the bullet straight down the grooves) and she wears a military cap over her ducal coronet and she is very, very, tired, but she is not going to give up yet. She's currently in touch with half-a-dozen of her officers via radio, but will lay it down when Vanda Nosseo arrives and fly out to meet them.

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"- good morning!" says one of the poll workers, an orc.

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She nods.

Everything is doomed.

She knows perfectly well everything is doomed. She has fought for a very long time, waiting for the unthinkable day; she has been shaped for a purpose, and she will try to fulfill the purpose, even now that all has been lost. It's what she does. Desnau will fall, she can see that, but she still does have a clear chance to try to mitigate the disaster, before war plunges the kingdom into ruin.

"I am Edelrich Desnauen, Marshal of Desnau. I have noticed an error in the application of your principles and desire to appeal to your governance."

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"Oh, I'm just here to operate the polls, but I can give you a mail label for complaints if you like," says the orc.

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"Your polling is missing a large fraction of the population of Desnau," she says flatly. "To where do I write?"

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"You want to put 'one one six seven, boot wolf apples' on your letter, and then they'll conjure it right up, no need to send it. Though if it is about polling you can also tell me, in case I can do something about it right now."

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Books her father beat her for reading, please save her now.

"The army of Desnau is counted neither as part of their home cantons, nor as part of the population at their physical location. Desnau presently maintains seven percent of its population in the army; seven percent of the population are therefore disenfranchised by this decision."

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"- I don't think we've been sending pollworkers to definitively Desnau territories to begin with. If we were we'd let them vote from where they're deployed. Or do you mean ones that are native to part of the area Ljudizem claims?"

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"Ljudizem claims half of Desnau, so yes, that."

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"Hm. Above my pay grade. One one six seven boot wolf apples will get you my boss's boss."

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She'll turn to one of her flunkies (always present), who hands her the sheet of paper, pen, inkwell, and quickly write the relevant message, telekinetically manipulating all three, then hand it back to the flunky to sand.

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Six and a half minutes later, when the orc has gone, there appears an Elf. "Good afternoon," he says. "Would you like to join me on the Vanda Nossëo ship for a meeting or just talk right here?"

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"I can meet you aboard the ship," she says. My aides will - "Can my aides join us?"

(she's very, very tired.)

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"If you like!" he says agreeably. "Are you all ready?"

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They are!

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They pop into place in a nice conference room with a computer-surface table showing a map of their area of the planet.

"Welcome! I'm Eldamarquetton, director of polling. So, do you want to start by going into more detail about your complaint, or do you want me to explain how we came to our current approach?" the Elf asks.

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"I would like to understand how you came to this approach."

They are tremendously powerful and at one point when she is less sleep deprived she will worry about that more.

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He zooms into the part of the map showing a healthy margin around all territory that might be construed as Ljudizem or Desnau. "So there's a lot of history going on, but we can adjust the approach for your planet if we need to or if there's been a mistake. But the high-level objectives that Polling is intended to achieve are legitimizing the use of defensive force - that is, showing up with all our fancy magic and technology and making sure people stop killing each other, which tends to make us unpopular if none of the locals invited us to do that first; and enfranchisement, giving the people we are about to start obliging to stop killing each other a voice in the process and familiarizing them with all of the ways they can interact with our government. We don't go around visiting new planets for fun - or, well, some of us do, but not in an official Vanda Nossëo capacity. We do it because people are dying, and we think we can improve things for them on that among other axes, and we think we can convince them of that given a chance to demonstrate such that they will freely choose to let us.

"What your complaint is about is that we've failed at enfranchisement - we haven't been invited to send polling teams to anywhere within undisputed Desnau territory, so we haven't talked to most people who live in undisputed Desnau territory, whether this is permanent or temporary. This does mean that some members of the military who grew up over here," part of the map lights up, "and are deployed over here," another part in a different color, "aren't getting to cast ballots, even though they would if they were home on leave. Now, we could do a bunch of things about that. We could bring the same argument you just did to Desnau's leadership and lean on them a bit harder to let poll workers into more of Desnau. We could figure out where all those soldiers are - it'd be annoying, but we could do it, we pulled out a lot of slack to handle the demons and then they turned out not to be a big problem - and then rain ballots on them in the middle of the night, and keep doing it until we could achieve a reasonable confidence that most of them were cast secretly, which we require as part of making sure that no one is being pressured into voting any which way. We could invade Desnau, not violently but that's really what it would be - send well-guarded poll workers into places we haven't been invited, make sure every person gets the chance to individually accept or turn down the chance to vote. We might do that, if there seems to be a lot of popular demand that the leaders are suppressing, but so far that's not obvious enough to make the call. We could refuse Ljudizem-affiliated people the vote, to avoid disproportionately disenfranchising their neighbors who now belong to the Desnau military; and obviously we have not chosen to do that, as it wouldn't serve either of our high-level goals. Is there an option you're seeing that I'm not?"

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"Desnau has, and I can provide, recruiting records from the cantons showing the home villages of every man in the army. Those of them from regions being polled can then have their votes counted as being from their own village."

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"Can you arrange that their ballots be verifiably secret and the options fully explained?"

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"I can give you access to the troops in my army to provide them with ballots. The options cannot be fully explained because they are largely unknown."

And because most people are very, very, very stupid, and will fail to understand anything you explain to them.

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"Well, I'd be happy to poll them if we can get them in a position to understand the options - we have magic available for making sure it gets across, if you'd like to see? - and the ballots can be secret. You might want to know that when we did have teams interacting with soldiers they typically interfered with each other's opportunities to vote in secret from one another and also there was a very high desertion rate."

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"Yes." Pause. "No doubt."

So long as it's below fifty percent, she's still serving her country. They can't hold the deserters any longer, not when there's somewhere to run if they write a single note.

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"Can this be arranged quickly? We've made some statements about typical turnaround on vote tabulation and if it takes till tomorrow we'll be getting questions."

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"If you can teleport."

Desnau's army is in fact very good at obeying; her father has done an excellent job crafting every aspect of it, and if its soldiers desert when offered utopia, well, so will half the continent. Her job is the other half.

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