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Mario Candiotti briefly checked the time on the table before continuing to read the report. He was sitting comfortably in one of the executive lounges in Gaudiano Air Force Base, reading a classified report on offworld developments. It was rather dull, but it had to be read and he had little else to do at the moment, waiting as he was for the Merovienne Chancellor's flight to land. He sighed, closed the report for a minute and walked towards the food station, considering whether to grab a sandwich or a pastry. He wasn't one to eat too much, but he always enjoyed the food at Gaudiano.

Named after Silvana Gaudiano, a hero of the Fourth Sacuri War, Gaudiano Air Force Base was a large military installation near Messelia and the primary gateway for the arrival and departure of federal and foreign senior government officials. It was located right next to Gaudiano Space Force Base, a similar installation used for military space operations. Together they formed one of the largest and most important aerospace installations in Sartoria. Of course, Gaudiano was also known by senior officials for the excellent food that it provided in its executive lounges, which led officials to constantly come up with reasons to visit the base or, as was the case today, be assigned to greet foreign officials.

"Councillor, we are ready for the Chancellor's arrival."

Mario nodded and put quickly chose a pastry, deciding to indulge himself this one time before following the sergeant towards the runway, there the reception party was already set up. There he waited, conversing with the Merovienne Ambassador, as he heard the familiar sound of an aircraft approaching and soon enough he saw the distinctive blue underside and gold stripe, the traditional colours of Merovia. Once the aircraft land and had approached, Mario saw as the door opened and the visitors walked down the stairs and onto the carpet. He allowed himself to smile and bowed at the Chancellor, the traditional greeting of Sartoria.
Gaudiano Air Force Base
Messelia, Sartoria

The flight had gone according to plan with little turbulence early on but nothing since. Chancellor Margrete Sardou organized some papers at her desk and kept looking up at the holoscreen which projected the top news stories in Merovia into the air in front of her. Nothing out of the ordinary was in the news today, thankfully, mostly just celebrity gossip and preparations for the Royal Gala which would be held towards the end of the month. Margrete wasn't a major supporter of excessive spending but she also understood the value placed upon such events by the Royal Household and by the well-to-do who would attend. Not to mention the fact that her major donors would be there as well. Fundraising was something Margrete rather abhorred which was one reason that upon returning from her visit to Sartoria she would be introducing her Campaign Reform Bill.

"Chancellor we will be landing in about ten minutes," the voice of the captain came over the intercom in her state room.

"Thank you Captain." Her reply was dry as landing was her least favorite part of flying.

As the Mereux Air 3380's engines began their tell tale low whirring signalling they were reducing airspeed for landing began Margrete strapped in her safety harness and began uttering a prayer to herself.

Gentle as could be expected and thankfully faster as well, the plane touched down and began to taxi over to where the Sartorian delegation was awaiting the Merovienne arrival. Margrete was wearing one of her retro styled outfits that was a soft blue like the Merovienne flag with gold and white trim. The style was very reminiscent of the mid-20th Century which had really come back into fashion in Merovia in the last few years. Everything from vehicles to fashion to music.

Once the plane was on the ground Margrete gathered her dossiers and headed to the designated disembarkation area on the plane. Already there and looking rather full of class with her Royal Sash, discrete tiara and knee length white and blue dress was Princess Katalina Tessier, aunt to the reigning King Jaufre. She was older than Margrete by about 20 years but it didn't seem to show really. Katalina was the Royal Representative on the visit as the Royal Family liked to send someone to accompany the civilian government for first hand account and to represent the King rather than just the Government of the Day. More liberal parties in Merovia called for an end to the practice of Royal Representatives dues to the appearance of the monarchy interfering in the policy making though the more Conservative parties and the Centrists like Margrete didn't mind as it was advisory rather than directorial in nature.

Foreign Minister Jules Pascaut, a balding and rather portly fellow, was standing next to the Princess and informing her and some of the assistants of the various people who would be meeting them at the base before proceeding with the visit. Ambassador Henri d'Orvon was to be there and would act as the secondary advisor for the visit to the Merovienne delegation. Normally the Ambassador would take the primary role but that would be filled by the Foreign Minister this time around.

"Well we best not keep our hosts waiting," Margrete said flashing a smile and fixing a small wrinkle that had formed on the flight on her dress.

The door to the plane opened and first out were two security officers who were being as discrete as possible though failing to not go unnoticed by Margrete. Then went Princess Katalina taking precedence and then Margrete followed by Foreign Minister Pascaut. The delegation approached the Sartorians who were led by Councillor Mario Candiotti who bowed politely which was returned by the Foreign Minister and Margrete whereas Katalina nodded her head in respect.

"Thank you for hosting us Councillor, I most look forward to our talks and am delighted as always to be in Messelia." Margrete said with her trademark smile before offering her hand for a shake to Candiotti and then to Ambassador d'Orvon.

"It's my pleasure." Said Mario as he shook hands with the Chancellor. "Please know that I convey the warmest welcome of President Leggièri and First Councillor Bonaventura. They are very much looking forward to meeting with you during your visit." He motioned to the ambassador and to the officials who were standing next to him. "I'm sure you are acquainted with Ambassador d'Orvon and with our very own Ambassador Mattarella; they have both work hard to ensure that this visit could take place. May I also introduce Senator Giulio Alamanni and Councillor Francesca Cardona, representatives of the Sartorian Parliament."

Mario was well acquainted with Alamanni and Cardona, of course. It was customary for the foreign affairs committees of both houses of Parliament to sent representatives to flight line ceremonies, a reminder that Sartoria had a parliamentary form of government. While state visits often had the attendance of the chairs of the Senate and House committees, official visits assigned the task to other members, and there was no doubt that Alamanni and Cardona were among the most qualified. Both retired Foreign Service officers, they were well known for their fierce defence of the Service in committee hearings and their hard work in securing adequate funding for the Foreign Office throughout the years. It was no surprise that the Office considered them among its strongest set of allies in Parliament.

Once the initial introductions were finished, Mario led the visitors and the welcoming committee as they walked past the military line until they approached the visitors' motorcade. There they stopped and turned to face the line, standing in attention as the anthems of Sartoria and Merovia were played. They exchanged bows again after the ceremony was finished, as the delegation prepared to depart for Casa Sciarra, the official guesthouse of the First Councillor.

"I look forward to our lunch tomorrow, Chancellor, and may I say again, welcome to Sartoria."

Mario waited until the motorcade had departed before heading back to the executive lounge to gather his briefcase and other effects. He had to return to Vilaró for various meetings before calling it an early day, or at least what passed for an early day when one was the Foreign Councillor: he would go home but would still read a few reports and answer calls before actually finishing his work. He did have to get as much sleep as he could before the following day's arrival ceremony.

Fun Fact:
Vilaró is the short name for the Antoni Vilaró Building, which houses the offices of the Foreign Office. Antoni Vilaró was a renowned diplomat and was the Foreign Councillor at the time of the First Contact. He led the push for establishing formal relations with Sorana and is widely credited for the consensus of peaceful interplanetary relations within Sartorian politics.
Gaudiano Air Force Base
Messelia, Sartoria

"Ambassadors," Chancellor Sardou said with a smile as she shook their hands. Ambassador d'Orvon was held in rather high regard back in Tolosa and had been Ambassador to Sartoria for the better part of two decades through four national governments. His tour was to come to an end in four months but Margrete had put his name up for consideration to the Committee on Foreign Affairs for continued service as Ambassador to Sartoria. 

"Councillor I appreciate the warm greetings we have been able to receive here today, it speaks volumes to the people of Sartoria and to your government." She added after Councillor Candiotti spoke his greeting. She turned to the two Senators and smiled before shaking their hands as well, "Thank you both for being here as well and it is my pleasure to make your acquaintances." 

The delegation finished up the last trappings of the arrival before entering their motorcade for Casa Sciarra. Once inside the vehicle Margrete smiled to herself as she mused the various sights they would pass on the way. It was a beautiful country and one that she held deep appreciation and respect for. Margrete would mostly carry on a cabinet meeting once she arrived at the guest house to talk about their weather satellite launch towards Erebos and a military assessment regarding the potential of building a single warship to escort scientific missions around the system in the future. Though the current stated stance of Merovia was non-militarization of space.

Colonel Alberto Puigneró raised his arms as he received the signal that the official car was arriving, giving the signal to be ready to start. First Councillor Bonaventura and his wife were standing nearby, ready to greet the Merovienne Chancellor. Colonel Puigneró saw the car approaching the Giardino Bianco and gave the signal to begin. Puigneró, a Tavoletro native, was the proud conductor of the Sartorian Air Force Band, and therefore in charge of the musical aspect of arrival ceremonies. He was proud of the role he and the band were playing, showing that the Sartorian Armed Forces were not merely an instrument of war, but most importantly an institution that supported the civilian elected government.

Marco Bonaventura heard the ceremonial music just as he also saw the official car approach. He always enjoyed arrival ceremonies for their elegance and festive feeling, and today was no different. He saw the Chancellor get out of the car, as an airman held the door for her, and he smiled at her, bowing as was custom in Sartoria before shaking her hand.

"Chancellor, it's so good to see you. I hope your stay here has been good so far?"

Pleasantries were exchanged, which included introducing his wife, before he invited the Chancellor to greet the principal government officials in attendance. There was the Second Councillor, of course, along with the Foreign Councillor, the Defence Councillor, the Trade Councillor, the Deputy Speakers of the House and Senate, along with other senior officials. It was a relatively cold day, so they were all wearing overcoats; truth be told, this year's winter was being quite unforgiving, but they still managed. They proceeded to an elevated platform and Marco invited the Chancellor to stand next to him.

"The national anthem of the Kingdom of Merovia, followed by the national anthem of the Republic of Sartoria."

Marco stood in attention, taking the time to survey the view in front of him. He knew that behind him was the Palazzo Voiello, the official residence and working place of the First Councillor. It had been used for this purpose since the final years of the principality, when the Old Palazzo Malzo had been bombed by the White Hand Consortium. In front of him he saw the Giardino Bianco, a park that was open to the public most of the time, except when it was used for official ceremonies; it stood out due to its abundance of white roses. On it where an assortment of soldiers carrying flags from Merovia, Sartoria and the various realms, along with people who had been invited to attend the ceremony. He was used to this view for the most part, it was not so different from the other arrival ceremonies that he had been to since his election as First Councillor.

Following the anthems, Marco and the Chancellor left the stand to conduct the military inspection, followed by a brief march by a ceremonial multi-service corps once their returned to the stand. It was all part of the ceremony, motions that had to be made. Finally it was time for the welcoming remarks, first by Marco and then by the Chancellor, after which they would go to the Palazzo Voiello to exchange gifts and have a private meeting. Marco approached the podium and began his remarks.

"Chancellor Sardou, on behalf of the Privy Council and the Sartorian People, I would like to extend our warmest welcome to the Palazzo Voiello and to Sartoria."