by Max Barry

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WA Representation

Official Flag of the S.L. Upper Secretariat and Plenipotentiary
(Diplomatic Flag)

The current Lyrical Ambassador to the Festering Snakepit is Leonid Berkman Pavonis. Descended from one of the so-called "Martian Families," wildcat settlers forcibly removed from certain parts of Ares slated for cometary impacts in aid of the ongoing terraforming effort, Pavonis has long been the House of Diplomats' premier dealmaker. His reputation for alcohol intake is exceeded only by his record of forcing concessions out of other powers, most notably the Holy Murrkin Republic, to which he served as ambassador for more than a decade. Declared PNG by the MHR without any apparent cause or incident, Pavonis spent a mere three weeks without a posting before being attached to SL's World Assembly office. With the sudden defection of Stephanie Zakalwe to the Belt Federation, Pavonis finds himself right at home among the debauched World Assembly elite.


The current Lyrical Ambassador to the Festering Snakepit is Stephanie Athena Zakalwe. Ms. Zakalwe abruptly replaced the previous Ambassador, Vincent Horatio Gutierrez-Baradikov, when Baradikov publicly disclosed the supposed existence of a program that, had it existed, would have forced S.L.'s hand on at least one World Assembly vote. The program, of course, was a bit of disinformation planted by the S.L. House of Lies to track moles and leaks back to their spymasters; Baradikov's open contempt for the niceties employed by S.L.'s ideological opponents in this case proved his undoing.

Zakalwe is an unlikely Ambassador. (Brief c.v.: 7th-Year Lady of the S.L. House of Diplomats - Gunner's Mate 1st Cl., S.L. House of Astronauts [enhanced service, reserve status] - Ex-Agent, Hudson Bay Independent Distilleries' Employee Council, SS (CIWW Local #4831). In contrast to typical House of Diplomats senior staff, she hails not from a management, entrepreneurial, or syndicate-native background, but was in fact a union organizer in her working youth (albeit for a sanctioned soviet, a trade union more or less blessed by the independent operators its members tend to work for). Steph's military career as an enlisted astronaut was forcibly paused with her involvement in the Shendong Station Incident. To balance the interests of S.L. not wishing to extradite an innocent NCO to an ideologically-hostile pacifist power with a legitimate grievance, but simultaneously wishing to avoid bad blood, the SLhA agreed to Zakalwe's appointment as acting junior spatial attaché pro tem to the People's Shining Han Republic. In that elbow-nudging capacity, her unofficial (sealed) testimony exonerated her, as well as the rest of the crew of the LSS Fist of the Union, from any culpability in the mysterious so-called "stealth meteor shower" that would have destroyed Shendong Station (a habitat with a civilian population in the thousands). To date no convincing theory as to the origin of the assault has been forthcoming; the only things widely agreed upon are that it was indeed a deliberate attack, and that without the intervention of the Fist's advanced weaponry, the death toll might have reached nearly ten thousand.

Zakalwe resumed her military career, though she found herself increasingly put in assignments demanding more than simple show-of-force policing and cargo inspections. Records show she was serving on the Nerva cutter LSS Edward Abbey when that ship defused the situation on 9 Metis between the S.L. registered Ricaud Interplanetary syndicate and the Russian Space Empire's Kosmoprom semi-autonomous mining corporation. Back on Earth on shore leave, she crossed paths with S.L. Diplomatic Secretary Edmundo Valerii in a deli line just a day prior to the Baradikov embarrassment; an unorthodox choice, Zakalwe was nevertheless the strongest hand available to the S.L. World Assembly delegation on short notice, in a situation requiring an immediate decisive response. With her House of Diplomats seniority retroactively dated to her original "appointment" in the Shendong inquiry, Zakalwe's interim ambassadorship appears to have become a de facto permanent appointment. Secretary Valerii has stated to several media outlets that the House of Diplomats now renders Zakalwe the privileges of a full ambassador, rather than the pro tem diplomatic firefighter as which she began.

It should be noted, however, that Zakalwe's honorific was downgraded as a result of a labor law violation during the Tollan genocide and its immediate aftermath. Acting on her orders, several SLhD interns attempted to gather evidence on the source of the relevant arms shipments; they were set upon and injured, some grievously, by well-trained soldiers or mercenaries working for the rogue CDSP Commander Donnaugh. For putting them in danger vastly exceeding their employment obligations, Zakalwe was broken from "the Semi-Honorable" (standard for all full ambassadors) to "the Mostly Alright." Because the House of Labor Rights review board found a reasonable chance that her actions were justifiable, her punishment was limited to this downgrade, a nominal fine, and an official reprimand; and the victims themselves are barred from seeking further legal recompense. Zakalwe continues to serve as the SL Ambassador to the WA, with no transition apparently forthcoming.