by Max Barry

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The Pashas of the Empire

Pasha. The goal of many an official and bootlicker, this title means simply whatever the Sultan wants it to mean. The members of the high Divan also are Pasha, Al-Afghan is ruled in the sultans stead by Gulbuddin Hekmatyār Pasha, the Empires greatest historical scholar bears the same title... all the title means is "worthy man". A man declared to be of worth by his Imperial Majesty. But to be a Pasha also means acute danger, for displeasing the Sultan has consequences.

The propably most important bearer is Osman Necip, the Grand Vizier. Normally not involved in daily politics, Osman Pasha has ruled the Imperial political machine for almost ten years. As high Defterdar he controlls the entire financial system of the muslim world, as Grand Vizier of the Exalted Hamidi State he is the only man except the Sultan able to launch the Nuclear Arsenal of the third Great Power left in the world.
Osman pasha was born in 1966 in Sğt, Anatolia, as the son of a coppersmith, and has seen a steady rise through the Imperial buerocracy until he ended up as the leader of the "islamic modernist" faction of Imperial dignitaries. The Islamic Modernists stand for what they call islamic Enlightenment, seeing science and progress as marks of favour by Allah, retainign meanwhile the ancient values of the shariah. Since the late 1940s the modernists have had a firm rule over Imperial ideology,. and Osman Pasha is a shrewd politician controlling his finance ministry with iron hands. His closest allies are (other than the Sultan, who considers him a personal friend) Ibrahim Pasha, the Res l-kttb (foreign minister) and Mehmed Pasha, the minister of War.

Ibrahim pasha, the Res l-kttb. Ibrahim Pasha has a chequered past, rumour has it he was once a criminal, whose relations to the state intensified so far as for him to "change over", becoming the mastermind behind the Imperial foreign office. Nobody knows where he was born, and he himself claims not to know. He is totally loyal to the Sultan, for reasons unknown, and has shown that repeatedly in the past. Somewhat greasy and always with an insincere smile, Ibrahim often makes foreigners uneasy, for (so rumours say) he disposed of many a foreign agent himself. Affable, smiling, obglinging, Ibrahim Pasha is a more than skilled diplomat. And knife-fighter.

Mehmed Pasha, the supreme warmaster of the Sultans armed forces.

A carreer soldier and son of an officer dynasty, mehmeds family has served the Sultan in arms for centuries.