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Heirs to Blood and Oil [Earth II]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Corporate Police State

Heirs to Blood and Oil [Earth II]

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Wed Aug 11, 2021 5:25 pm

OOC: I don't need to ask Marimaia for permission to use that name in this story because I am Marimaia. Just saying it now.

Flanked to the west by the Black Sea and the east by the Caspian Sea, the state known as the Marimaian Federation occupied the region known as the Caucasus, home to the Caucasus Mountains. Long considered to be something of a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the Caucasus Mountains were rich in mineral wealth and included the peak known as Mount Elbrus; a dormant volcano, Elbrus was renowned as the highest peak in Europe and the tenth-most prominent peak in the world. The region was also known for its ethnic and linguistic diversity, which was responsible for the administrative nature of the Marimaian Federation. Named for an ancient civilisation that had once ruled the region rather than lead to potential resentment between its constituent parts, the Marimaian Federation was comprised of eleven federal republics and one capital district, with the federal republics mostly corresponding to claimed homelands of the ethnic groups that resided within the nation. The Federation's history effectively began in 1920 when the Realm of Cotland defeated the Russian Empire and several Russian vassals were successful in breaking away, including the nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The three united to form the Transcaucasian Federation in 1922 to present a united front against possible Russian attempts to reclaim them, and thus began slow and steady attrition of Russian control over the Caucasus as territories seceded to join the nascent southern nation. The late 1940s saw the Federation adopt a communist system that endured until 1991 when an uprising in the Chechen Republic lit the touchpaper of general discontent and the Federation underwent four years of domestic upheaval. The state entered its current form thanks to the ascension of the Baibakov family to leadership. The Russian-Azeri Demyan Baibakov had been the Energy Minister towards the end of the communist system and had therefore been in charge of the state oil and gas industries, giving him and his family members access to considerable state funds; during the four years of upheaval, Baibakov parleyed his purloined wealth into influence and assets as the Federation went through a disorganised transition from communist central planning to a capitalist free-market economy with a democratic political system. Elected as First Minister of the Kuban-Volga Republic, the largest and most populous constituent republic as well as home to the majority of the Federation's ethnic Russian population, Baibakov established a strong power base for himself. He spearheaded the rebranding of the state as the 'Marimaian Federation', attempting to invoke some form of unity through historical association, and formed the 'United Marimaia Party' as a vehicle for his ambitions.

Such was his success that in June 1995 he was invited to become Prime Minister of the Federation by President Simon Cherkezishvili, who was deposed from office in October 1995 due to his inability to calm the upheaval. Demyan Baibakov was sworn in as President on 25 December 1995 and the nation began to change, receiving the promised rebranding that very same day. Baibakov appointed his allies to cabinet positions and declared a state of national emergency, deploying the Marimaian Armed Forces and the Federal Security Service to bring order. Over the next five years, Baibakov's methods brought the vast majority of the Marimaian Federation back under control; First Ministers who would not cooperate were arrested on various charges and replaced by cronies, while Baibakov and his family quietly expanded their empire. Demyan Baibakov retired due to ill health in 2005 after paving the way for his son, Fyodor, to take his place, which he did in November 2005; Demyan's death in February 2006 was followed by an elaborate state funeral for the 'Father of the Nation'. The Chechen Republic remained problematic until 2011 when the insurgency was declared to have ended by separatist leaders who had been bought off by promises of positions in the local administration. While the most hardline fighters remained in the mountains of the Chechen Republic, unwilling to surrender to this day, the Federation finally found itself at peace (mostly). Fyodor Baibakov was hailed as the victorious leader, and the family's hold over the Marimaian Federation was strengthened even further.

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1 August 2021, 14:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

Serving first as the capital for the Russian Imperial Viceroy, then for the Transcaucasian Federation and the eventual Marimaian Federation, the centuries-old city of Tbilisi was home to just over 1.1 million people and formed the Tbilisi Capital District within the Marimaian Federation. Located in the south of the Federation and entirely enclosed within the Georgian Republic, Tbilisi was a multicultural metropolis that was home to over 100 ethnic groups in one form or another. The capital had undergone something of a transformation during the Baibakov years with numerous new construction and infrastructure projects being carried out, with one of the most prominent constructions being the grand Presidential residence known as Avlabari Palace. Built in a neoclassical style with grand colonnades and an impressive glass dome, Avlabari Palace had been started in 2006 and had taken five years to construct, and now sat atop a hill on the left bank of the Kura River. The walled grounds were constantly patrolled by elements of the Presidential Guard, the military unit that provided security for all buildings of 'federal significance', meaning that the occupants had very little to fear in terms of security. Those occupants being President Fyodor Baibakov, his wife and Vice-President Zahra Baibakova, and their son Feliks.

Aged fifty-four and possessing a rather portly figure even at six-foot-one, President Baibakov was a jovial individual to his friends and an implacable opponent to his enemies. Now nearing his eleventh anniversary of becoming President, Baibakov liked to describe himself as an 'authoritarian democrat'. Although the Federation still held regular elections, Baibakov and his United Marimaia Party were never in any real danger of losing. Indeed, the current composition of the 650-seat Federal Assembly saw the UMP with 484 seats, but Baibakov was not content to simply leave things at that; three other parties in the Assembly could best be described as pro-government due to their policy agenda and ties between their leadership and the Baibakovs. Civic Order, New Marimaia, and the Great Motherland Party held a combined 121 seats, leaving the single genuine opposition party, the True Republic Party, with a mere 45 seats. The First Ministers of the eleven constituent republics were also allies of the Baibakovs in one form or another, meaning that Fyodor and the extended family had the Federation's political landscape well and truly in their possession. How was this possible, you might ask? The answer was simple: money and favours. It was not without reason that the nation was also known by the rather unfortunate nickname of 'Marimafiya'. The Baibakovs had their fingers in every profitable sector of the economy, particularly the energy sector. SOCM and SGCM, the state oil and gas companies respectively, were part-owned by the Baibakovs via an intricate web of contracts and middlemen. Several Marimaian banks traced their ownership through winding paper trails to the First Family of the Federation, while several mines were also part of the intricate Baibakov financial empire. This wealth allowed them to live luxuriously while buying off most potential opponents with either money or joint business opportunities; the True Republic Party were allowed to exist because they were no real threat to the entrenched elites, but rest assured that they would be targeted from several directions if they ever became more than they currently were.

The First Family were currently relaxing, enjoying the splendour of the palace's underground swimming pool that most Marimaians had no idea existed. The pristine Olympic-sized pool was housed within an almost cavernous room on the first of several underground floors; the walls and ceiling featured impressive colourful mosaics while soft lighting provided a warm atmosphere to the poolside area. Fyodor Baibakov wore a pair of red three-quarter shorts and a white pool bathrobe as he sat in a comfortable high-backed wicker armchair that was rather reminiscent of a throne, reading one of the capital's several newspapers with a refreshing glass of sharbat on the white marble side table next to the chair. The fifty-three-year-old Zahra Baibakova was sat in a similar chair on the opposite side of the side table, flicking through a magazine while wearing a red one-piece swimsuit and a robe that matched that of her husband. An Azeri by birth, the attractive First Lady had been appointed as Vice-President following a referendum in 2017 to legitimise the creation of the new office, further securing the family's position as the Vice-President would automatically assume control of the Federation if the President were unable to perform their duties for whatever reason. The gentle sound of classical music being played over the pool's sound system was occasionally accompanied by the splash of water as Feliks Baibakov enjoyed his usual Sunday afternoon swim. The twenty-six-year-old had established a fairly good public reputation for himself through social media and the establishment of his pet charity known as 'Progress', but in private he truly was his father's son. Marimaian celebrities regarded Feliks as the easiest member of the First Family to schmooze but Feliks always found a way to involve them in his designs.

The First Couple peered over their reading material as they heard the sound of Feliks climbing the pool ladder and stepping onto the tiled floor, where he was greeted with a fresh towel and a robe by a veritable giant of a man. Simply known as 'Khoren', the forty-four-year-old Ingush stood seven feet tall and weighed in at approximately three hundred and fifty pounds. Dressed in a smart suit with a neat black beard and a head of dyed blond hair, Khoren was Feliks' hulking bodyguard, chauffeur, and general manservant. Never one for small talk or talking of any kind really, Khoren had been recruited into Feliks' service after a trip to the city of Magas in the Ingushetian Republic. After towelling his long brunette waves and slipping into the provided robe, Feliks stood expectantly as Khoren retrieved a cigarillo and a finely-crafted silver lighter from his left breast pocket; the younger Baibakov took the cigarillo and held it between his lips as Khoren lit it, then took a draw and began to cross the room to his parents, his massive compatriot following a few steps behind.

"So, what's the news?"

Fyodor cleared his throat and closed his newspaper as Feliks reached the side table and poured two more glasses of sharbat, handing one to Khoren while keeping the other glass of sweet orange-flavoured cordial for himself. "Oh, you know, the usual. Layartebian this, Apilonian that, Nanfaren whatever. Pushed back to page five though, the Federal Guardian is one of ours after all."

The President held up the newspaper so that Feliks could read the banner headline, the younger man nodding approvingly at the front page. The Federal Guardian enjoyed one of the widest circulations of newspapers in the Marimaian Federation, thanks in part to it being owned through various companies by the Baibakovs. "Oh, very nice. 'UMP in Polling Triumph'. Who could have possibly foreseen that our party would be over thirty points ahead in opinion polls? Although I'm not sure why we need to be pushing that right now, the next election isn't for a couple of years. Wouldn't it have been better to focus on, oh I don't know, my highly successful charity gala on Friday night?"

Fyodor chuckled at his son's slight indignation. "You're on Page Two, don't worry. I've been meaning to talk to you about something since you're such a successful people person. There's a meeting in Krasnodar next week that I'd like you to attend on my behalf, I've got an ambassadorial dinner that evening."

"When you say 'meeting', are we talking about a meeting?"

"That's precisely what we're talking about. I know that it'll be your first time attending one but you shouldn't have any problems. I'll go through the agenda and topics of concern with you, and I'll respect your judgement when it comes to any decisions reached."

Feliks took a long draw on his cigarillo as he considered what he was being asked to do. "Will I know everyone there?"

"More or less. There might be a bodyguard or two that you don't know, but otherwise, there won't be any strangers." Fyodor gestured past Feliks towards Khoren. "Having him with you will make quite a statement."
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Fri Aug 13, 2021 3:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sat Aug 14, 2021 12:15 pm

OOC: This makes reference to events in Matters of Honour, with Apilonia's permission.

9 August 2021, 20:30hrs [UTC+3]
Idokopas Palace
Kuban-Volga Republic, Marimaian Federation

Comprising thirty-eight percent of the Marimaian Federation's territory and home to almost twenty-five percent of the Federation's total population, the Kuban-Volga Republic was the largest federal republic and an economic powerhouse for the nation. With an abundance of agricultural land in addition to a well-developed industrial sector, as well as continuing oil and gas exploitation, the Republic formed the entirety of the Federation's northern lands. The Republic was also known for its tourism industry, as the region possessed beautiful beaches and spa resorts along the Black Sea coast. Gelendzhik was one such resort town, lying just over fifty-five miles southwest of the Kuban-Volga capital of Krasnodar. Featuring numerous hotels and three waterparks in addition to other tourist amenities, Gelendzhik was also close to Cape Idokopas, a mostly flat and heavily forested headland that was the site of one of the more expensive monuments to the Baibakov family's reign. Idokopas Palace was a palace complex built in a Renaissance style and featured a multitude of amenities that would be seen as excessive by most regular people. In some ways, it was almost a settlement all to itself as there were several businesses located within the complex, such as vineyards, a winery, and an oyster farm. The seventeen thousand acres of land that comprised the complex and its surroundings were officially under the jurisdiction of the Federal Security Service, meaning that visitors had to be on the official list or receive permission from anyone in residence; if they didn't have permission, they would be escorted out of the area at gunpoint. There was even a no-fly zone over the palace that had been instituted by the FSS, backed up by four Tunguska self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles and one Buk self-propelled surface-to-air missile system that were permanently deployed within the area of the palace.

The visitor list for this evening featured an individual who had settled in the Marimaian Federation fairly recently: one Veselin Filipović, late of the former People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. The balding and slightly overweight fifty-seven-year-old Serbian had been a member of the Yugoslav Politburo and Minister for State Security, placing him at the head of the infamous Committee for State Security and its subsidiary organs of oppression. The PRY had been experiencing a slow decline until November 2020 when the Socialist Republic of Hungary seceded to reunite with the Apilonian-affiliated Archduchy of Austria, at which point the Yugoslavian government had declared war on Austria and brought their end upon themselves. The war was lost even before it began due to the significant economic and military disparities between the two sides, and the primarily Serbian members of the Politburo had fled Belgrade before the forces of the Apilonian Commonwealth took the capital. It had now been just under three months since the Apilonian Commonwealth had admitted the Yugoslav successor state of the Republic of the Balkans as a Commonwealth member, while Bosnia had joined the Archduchy of Austria-Hungary as an autonomous province; Serbia, however, was undergoing a process of 'de-radicalisation' as it had always been the dominant power within Yugoslavia and would not accept the new Commonwealth status quo in the Balkans as easily as others had. Apprehending the Politburo members and bringing them to justice would undoubtedly assist in this process and so several Commonwealth intelligence agencies were on the hunt for the former leaders of the now-defeated nation. Filipović had decided upon the Marimaian Federation as his refuge as the Federation had always refused to sign extradition treaties with pretty much anyone, and he felt certain that he could use that particular Marimaian policy for his own ends. He had arrived in the Federation in mid-January 2021 and had adopted a new name, going by 'Svetislav Borisov', although those who knew who he was still called him by his true name. He had not arrived empty-handed, of course. In addition to an impressive amount of state funds that had been transferred to several bank accounts in the Federation, Filipović had eventually been joined by several former CSS personnel over the following months as they navigated their way through the criminal underworld of Eastern Europe, the best of whom was with him for the meeting this evening. Also Serbian but with neatly-styled dark brown hair and an excellent physique, Mateja Čubrilović was thirty-two and had held the rank of Kapetan (captain) in the Yugoslav security services before the collapse of the People's Republic.

After their black limousine was permitted entry to the estate, they proceeded along the driveway through the immaculate gardens to the impressive primary residential building. They were greeted by a servant who escorted them through the white-and-gilt main hall that featured large murals in the Renaissance style, finally arriving at one of the palace's well-appointed lounges which were decorated in a more cream-and-mahogany colour scheme. Feliks Baibakov was sat on one of the cream couches within the lounge and was dressed in a metallic-appearing shiny silver-and-gold suit jacket and trousers with a white mandarin collar shirt and white shoes, a pair of designer sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose and a cigarillo clasped between the middle and index fingers of his right hand. To his left stood the imposing figure of Khoren, arms folded and wearing his usual dark suit. As Filipović and Mateja were escorted into the lounge, Feliks rose to his feet with a broad grin.

"Mister Filipović, a pleasure to see you again! The last time was in Tbilisi, just after you'd arrived in the Federation. Who's your friend?"

Filipović found himself caught somewhat off-guard by Feliks' attire as both he and Mateja had worn business suits to the meeting. "Oh, this is Kapetan Mateja Čubrilović of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit. He arrived two months ago."

"'Special Anti-Terrorist Unit'? Would that be special forces or something like that?"

Filipović smiled slightly at Feliks' curiosity. "Quite correct, Feliks Fyodorovich. Highly-trained teams tasked with counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and special operations. One of our more elite groups."

"Huh, interesting." Feliks took a draw from his cigarillo as he looked Mateja over from a distance, finally giving what seemed to be a nod of approval. "I bet you've dealt with a lot of 'terrorists' in your time, eh Kapetan?"

Mateja gave a slight nod in response. "That is correct, Feliks Fyodorovich."

"No need for that formality, we're all friends here. Just call me Feliks. Take a seat." Feliks gestured for Filipović and Mateja to sit on the couch opposite his own chosen seat, noting that Mateja took up position standing behind Filipović rather than sitting. Feliks himself then sat down and reached for the glass of strawberry kvass that was positioned on the marble-topped coffee table between the couches. "Would either of you like a drink?"

"No thank you, but the offer is appreciated." Filipović shifted in his seat as he got comfortable, clasping his hands together and looking around the room. "This is a beautiful place, I must say."

"I'm glad you think so, considering how much it cost to build." Feliks grinned at the two Serbians. "Tbilisi is lovely, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it's nice to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city. Anyway, this meeting is something of a formality that we like to have with everyone of a certain status who might be looking to acquire Marimaian citizenship. We greet you when you arrive, then we leave you to your own devices for a few months before we have a second meeting to discuss matters. We don't hold many of these meetings though, we rarely get a fugitive government minister in our humble nation. We mostly get embezzlers and fraudsters who have misappropriated money and shoved it into a Marimaian bank account, or military personnel fleeing whatever they did to justify fleeing. So...let's get down to business, shall we?"

He leaned forward and picked up the folder that was on the coffee table, resting it on his lap and opening it to the first page. "Okay, so according to the FSS you've bought a dacha just outside Tuapse, very nice. You've had meetings with a few parties of interest, nobody of any real concern to us admittedly, and of course you've welcomed a few guests to your dacha who used to be intelligence or security personnel in Yugoslavia. Including Kapetan Čubrilović, who did indeed arrive two months ago." Feliks took a drink from his glass before regarding Filipović with a degree of curiosity. "So what are you up to, Mister Filipović? What are your plans for the future?"

"You've had me under surveillance?"

Feliks shrugged at the question. "Yeah, and? The former Yugoslav Minister for State Security comes to us after Yugoslavia collapses, and you think that we wouldn't keep an eye on you? You would do the same to us if the roles were reversed, not that we'd have ever fled to Yugoslavia, mind you."

Filipović bristled slightly at Feliks' comment about Yugoslavia. "Well, I was observing the developing situation in my former homeland. I wanted to see what the outcome of Apilonian interference would be before I decided on anything."

"Apilonian 'interference'? You guys declared war on Austria, knowing full well that Apilonia would step in to assist them. Under the circumstances, you should've just let Hungary go and then focused on sorting out your internal issues. Anyway, that's the past. The Apilonians are doing a tremendous job of divide-and-rule, aren't they? Serbia under occupation, Bosnia joining Austria-Hungary, the rest of Yugoslavia joining the Apilonian Commonwealth as the 'Republic of the Balkans'. If the Grand Duchy of Dacia does indeed end up joining the Commonwealth as it's rumoured, then you can likely kiss any hope of Yugoslav reunification goodbye."

"Don't discount Serbia just yet, Feliks. The insurgency-"

"The insurgency is not going to win. I know, I know, but you have to be realistic. If by some miracle Serbia did drive out the Austrians and the others, they'd be isolated and surrounded by Commonwealth members. The best thing that Serbia can do is adapt. We did it here, and we're still around. So, going back to my question, what are your plans for the future?"

Filipović cleared his throat, doing his best not to show his growing irritation with Feliks' attitude towards Yugoslavia. "I plan to assist the other members of the Politburo and any other loyalists in establishing a haven, from where we can provide guidance and support for those comrades on the ground in Serbia and elsewhere who are fighting against the Apilonian Commonwealth. I believe that-"

"Whoa, whoa. Hold on now." Feliks set his drink down and took a draw on his cigarillo, exhaling the smoke and shaking his head at Filipović. He then rose from his seat and began walking around the room as he continued speaking. "Did you hear a word that I just said to you? Ugh, come on now. You're a smart guy. Your 'plan' would see a massive target painted on the Marimaian Federation. Granting refuge, that we can do." He moved just out of Filipović's eyeline and made eye contact with Mateja. "Employing the best, that is what we will always do. We're big on rewarding sensible people, and I'm always on the lookout for talented individuals." Feliks followed that line with a sly wink, confident that Filipović had not seen it and that Mateja could be in no doubt about what he was getting at, then continued pacing around the Serbian's couch. "What we will not do is let ourselves get dragged into a situation that could see us getting dogpiled. Never mind the fact that ultimately we'd get very little out of it if we did go along with your plan and by some miracle, it succeeded."

After completing a circuit around Filipović's couch, Feliks returned to his seat and sighed. "Okay, I'll do you a favour. I don't have to be back in Tbilisi for anything for quite a while, so I'll stick around here for the next week or so. You go home and think about what I've said. When you come up with some plans that are more realistic and less of a threat to the Marimaian Federation, we can meet up again and discuss them. Seriously, have a long hard think about your future and consider what's best for you in the long run." He briefly cast his gaze up towards Mateja as he finished, attempting to get his point across once more.

"You mean I travelled two-and-a-half hours for nothing?"

Feliks rose from his seat once more and wagged a finger at Filipović. "No, not for nothing. We've identified certain issues with your ambitions, that's an accomplishment. We'll sort something out, I'm sure. Just not this evening, as I suspect that you're rather annoyed right now and it would best to continue discussing these things when we're both in a pleasant and agreeable mood. Good evening, gentlemen."
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Sun Aug 22, 2021 6:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Mon Aug 16, 2021 2:37 pm

11 August 2021, 15:57hrs [UTC+3]
Idokopas Palace
Kuban-Volga Republic, Marimaian Federation

One of the many amenities contained within Idokopas Palace was the ground floor swimming pool, which measured some twenty-five metres long and was surrounded by a poolside area that consisted of white and brown marble with gilt decorations. The west-facing wall was comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows separated by wall sections decorated to appear as large colonnades, allowing daylight to stream onto the three-piece suite and poolside chairs located in alcoves along the internal east wall. As he had very little else to do at the present moment, Feliks was making use of the pool although not in any truly serious way, as he was content to simply paddle around while his ever-present giant quietly observed from the poolside area. His idle paddling was interrupted by the chiming of the telephone that was positioned on a nearby stand, and so he swam to the edge of the pool and rested his forearms on the side of the pool, an expression of interest clear on his features. Khoren, meanwhile, picked up the cordless handset of the telephone and brought it over so that his employer could answer the call.

"What's up? Oh right, what's his name?" Feliks' eyes widened as the guard at the main gate informed him of the name of the unexpected visitor. "Really? Huh, okay, let him through."

He pressed the button to end the call and handed the handset back to Khoren, who regarded him with a quizzical expression that invited an explanation from Feliks. "Remember Kapetan Čubrilović from two nights ago? He's at the front gate, asking to see me. Maybe he's taken my hints about employment, what do you think?"

The brief smirk on Khoren's face caused Feliks to chuckle. "You're right, he'd be silly to refuse such an opportunity. Anyway, could you go and fetch him for me? Oh, and make sure he's not armed. Just in case."

There was an almost-imperceptible nod before Khoren turned and exited the pool area, leaving Feliks to continue paddling around while he waited for his guest to appear.

----------------------------------------------------

As he was escorted through the corridors of the palace by the besuited Khoren, Mateja Čubrilović could not help but be astounded at the amount of money that this level of comfort must have cost. While his rank and role had afforded him a relatively comfortable standard of living by Yugoslavian standards, the only sites that he had ever seen that came anywhere near this level of opulence in Yugoslavia were central government buildings of particular significance. He had had a glimpse during his previous visit, but now he was seeing the full scale of it.

Just how wealthy is this family?, he thought. He had certainly read reports by foreign media and heard the rumours. In addition to constructing Avlabari Palace and owning Idokopas Palace, the Baibakovs were rumoured to own: the Palace of Seyid Mirbabayev in Baku (true); an undetermined percentage of both SOCM and SGCM (in reality, 40% of each); 60% of the Federation's largest telecommunications operator, Maricell, as well as 75% of the telecoms company Marifon (again, true); as well as a host of other assets too numerous to go into particular detail about here, such as hotels, resorts, and other properties and businesses. Of course, the Baibakovs and their cronies also owned a number of the media groups in the Marimaian Federation, so within the nation, these were primarily just rumours that could be rubbished by the majority of newspapers. Then, of course, there were the other rumours. The rumours that the Baibakovs permitted the ethnic criminal syndicates of the region to operate out of the Federation in return for regular tribute, a promise not to cause too much trouble within Marimaian borders, and the performing of occasional 'jobs' for the regime. Mateja could easily believe it, considering the hulking individual walking with him.

Entering the pool room did nothing to disabuse Mateja of his internal deliberations. He gazed around the room briefly before his attention was captured by a cheerful shout from the pool itself.

"Kapetan! So glad you stopped by, I was hoping to see you again!" Feliks grinned broadly as he waved to Mateja from the water, then made his way to the nearest set of pool steps and climbed out onto the poolside floor area, his orange swimming shorts clinging to him as he did so. "Give me a sec, okay?"

The Serbian waited patiently as Feliks went through his usual ritual of drying his hair before slipping into a pool robe being held by Khoren, impressed by the fact that the slim young man before him commanded the loyalty of such a giant. Feliks then regarded Mateja with a smirk. "I've got my fingers crossed that you've come to either give me good news or tell me something interesting. See?" He held up his right hand to display his crossed fingers before gesturing towards the nearby sofa. "Why don't you take a seat, and you can tell me all about why you're here. Khoren, could we have some tea please?"

Mateja crossed the room to the sofa and took the left-hand seat, while Feliks casually plonked himself down on the right-hand seat, facing his guest. The Kapetan then shifted so that he was facing Feliks as he spoke. "After the meeting two nights ago, Minister Filipović has been talking a lot about how you disrespected him and the motherland. He described you as a 'jumped-up little runt', and I think he's going to try to deceive you."

Feliks made a sound of definite interest. "Hmm, I was right to think that I'd annoyed him then. Although 'jumped-up little runt' is quite mild, I would have expected worse." He chuckled slightly and shook his head. "Anyway, what makes you think that he's going to try to deceive me?"

"Yesterday he was talking about coming to you and suggesting that he could become an advisor to the Federal Security Service. He believes that the FSS could potentially be convinced to help his plans behind your back because you don't have direct oversight of their operations. Put it this way, he's not going to abandon his plans to help the insurgency just because you told him not to. If the advisor idea didn't pan out, he'd try something else."

"I see." Feliks briefly turned his attention to Khoren as the giant returned with freshly poured Orange Pekoe black tea in two pear-shaped armudu tea glasses on a silver tray; the tray also bore a bowl of lump sugar. He set the tray down on the coffee table in front of the sofa and then stepped back to stand at Feliks' side. "Thank you, Khoren. Kapetan, do you know much about the Azeri way of drinking tea?"

"I can't say that I do, sorry."

"It's not something that my family engages in with everyone, only those people whom we like." Feliks reached for his tea glass and a lump of sugar. "So you don't put the sugar in your tea. You dunk the sugar, then bite off a piece, then sip the tea." He proceeded to demonstrate and grinned as Mateja followed his example. "It comes from medieval times. Rulers who were concerned about being poisoned would test their tea by dunking sugar in it, as it was believed that the poison would react to the sugar." Following a second dunk-bite-sip, he returned to their original conversation. "So you've told me what you wanted to tell me. Now let's hear why you wanted to tell me."

Mateja sighed before speaking. "The fact is that you were right at the meeting. Realistically, Yugoslavia can't come back, and it's easy to talk about supporting those Serbians who still oppose the Apilonian Commonwealth when we're not at any risk ourselves. My parents and my grandmother are still living in Serbia. I had hoped that Minister Filipović had the connections to bring them here, but all he has said is that 'he'll do what he can'. I don't think that he's even thought about it since we discussed it, but I've stuck with him in the hope that he would. Then you made it abundantly clear at the meeting that employment was a possibility."

"You figure that I've got a much better chance of bringing your parents and grandmother to the Federation than Filipović does. Well, you'd be right." Feliks considered Mateja's situation for a few moments. "So in return for a promise to bring three people from Serbia to the Federation, I could get my very own former anti-terrorist Kapetan? Oh, and you'd receive the standard perks of working for me as well: healthy salary, nice place to live, travel opportunities, and an exceptionally wonderful employer."

Mateja chuckled at Feliks' broad grin. "You don't lack self-confidence, do you?"

"I do try to be as modest as possible, but it can be difficult sometimes. Now then, we need to discuss our dear friend Filipović. If he's going to try scheming behind my back and lying to me then something needs to be done. I won't stand for being disrespected. Whatever shall be done? Keeping in mind that my father will respect my judgement, he said so himself."

"Well, given the opportunity, what would you do with him?"

"Honestly? I'd kill the bastard and have his scheming ended for good." Feliks took another dunk-bite-sip of his tea. "Given the opportunity, would you do it?"

"A test of my intentions?"

"Something like that. Better to do it sooner rather than later, he might get suspicious if he finds out that you've been to visit me without him. Hmm..." Feliks mused upon what he was asking Mateja to do. "I won't ask you to go all one-man-army on him though since he'll have security and I'm guessing that your field experience is mainly based on working with a unit. Not that I don't think you could handle it, of course...oh, it's so simple! The FSS can arrest him and bring him here, technically this area is under their jurisdiction. You could go with them and have him back here by this evening. Two squads in Krokodil helicopters sound enough?"

"Um, definitely, yes. So you'd want him brought here alive then?"

"It's not murder if it happens on FSS premises." Feliks sprang up from the sofa and quickly stepped over to the telephone, his eyes gleaming as he began to make a call.

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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Posts: 241
Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Tue Aug 17, 2021 4:40 pm

11 August 2021, 23:40hrs [UTC+3]
Idokopas Palace
Kuban-Volga Republic, Marimaian Federation

Due to the sheer size of the sprawling Idokopas Palace complex, several buildings and facilities were best reached from the main palace by car. The onsite FSS facility was one such building, and this was Feliks' current destination as Khoren chauffeured him en route to a meeting that had the President's son experiencing a great deal of anticipation. As the jet black limousine proceeded along the winding main road that ran through the complex, Feliks looked out of a tinted window in the direction of the complex's twin helipads, each of which currently hosted a Krokodil helicopter gunship. The information that he had received thus far stated that the mission to capture Veselin Filipović had been successful and that the former member of the Yugoslav Politburo was now in FSS custody, held at the facility on the estate. It was rather telling that Feliks was more interested in observing Filipović's intended end rather than any potential interrogation.

The limousine parked up in one of the parking spaces at the main entrance of the FSS facility, a free-standing building that looked very much like a SIM card from the air. The so-called 'FSS Sector' of the palace complex featured the primary facility and four residential barracks in addition to other buildings that Feliks did not know the function of and, in all honesty, did not care about. Khoren exited the vehicle and opened the rear passenger door for his employer, who stepped out and took a deep breath of the warm night air. Dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and a black necktie, Feliks practically bounced towards the intelligence facility with Khoren in tow, receiving a short sharp salute from the uniformed guards at the main entrance who required no identification from either of them. It was only a few seconds after entering that Feliks was greeted by the facility's commanding officer. Major Eduard Orbeliani was thirty-seven and originally from the city of Kutaisi, the capital of the Georgian Republic. Although two inches shorter than the five-foot-ten Feliks, Major Orbeliani emanated easy intimidation thanks to his neatly-buzzed crew cut and dead hazel eyes. The Major offered a salute before gesturing for Feliks to follow him, Khoren trailing a few steps behind them.

"Your requested mission has been carried out with care and efficiency, Feliks Fyodorovich. Two squads, accompanied by Kapetan Mateja Čubrilović, travelled to the target's dacha located just outside the town of Tuapse. They encountered six security personnel in civilian clothing and disposed of them without hesitation, and apparently, Kapetan Čubrilović personally dispatched two of them himself. The target was successfully apprehended after tear gas grenades and flashbangs were used to turn the dacha into a hostile environment for him. We now have him in Interrogation Room Alpha under guard, two FSS personnel and the Kapetan."

Feliks nodded approvingly. "Good thinking, Major. While I doubt that the Kapetan is about to betray us at this stage, there's no harm in being cautious. Could I impose upon you for something else and ask that you observe the proceedings as they unfold? I'd prefer not to expose the lower ranks to certain things."

"Of course, Feliks Fyodorovich. You may rely on my discretion as always."

"Fantastic. Have the arrangements been seen to?"

"They have indeed. Everything is in hand."

--------------------------------------------

After taking the elevator to the second underground level of the FSS facility, Major Orbeliani led Feliks and Khoren to Interrogation Room Alpha, opening the door and entering first. The two FSS guards within immediately saluted their superior officer, and then repeated the salute as Feliks entered after him. Feliks responded with a polite nod before grinning gleefully at Mateja, who was leaning against the far wall with his arms folded, still wearing the camouflage uniform that he had been provided with for the mission. The Serbian offered a slight smile and gestured in the direction of the rather plain table and two chairs in the middle of the nondescript grey room, where a dishevelled Filipović was sat with his hands bound behind him and a sack over his head. Orbeliani dismissed the two guards who immediately exited the room and pulled the door closed, sealing the soundproof space. Feliks waited as Khoren pulled out the unoccupied chair for him, then took a seat and nodded for the giant to remove the sack from Filipović's head. The former Yugoslav security minister flinched at the sudden exposure to a light source and sighed heavily as he eyed the individual sat across the table from him.

"What the hell is this?" His gaze turned to Mateja, his eyes widening with fury. "Čubrilović! What is the meaning of this?! Six loyal men are dead!"

Feliks yawned mockingly at Filipović's raised voice. "New developments called for a change in approach, I'm afraid. Revelations regarding just how untrustworthy you truly are."

Filipović snorted as he returned his attention to Feliks. "What revelations?"

"Your idea to suggest becoming an advisor for the FSS and then using them to help you support Serbian insurgents. The revelations that you have no intention of paying attention to a 'jumped-up little runt' like me, even though my father is the President of the Marimaian Federation. I came here in good faith to meet you, I suggested that you rein in your ambitions for your own good, and you decided that you could ignore me even though my family runs this country. I don't appreciate being disrespected by a guest, especially one with ideas above his station.

"When we get fugitive or exiled government ministers moving here, they usually know that they won't be returning home any time soon. Oh, there's always a chance that things back home will change and they might be able to return, but as a rule, they're here to live out their lives. They accept that. They find a nice place to live and settle down. Some of them live lives of luxury, some invest in a business. What they don't do is plot to use this nation as a base of operations behind our backs. I know that my father would agree."

Filipović knew that only one person in the room could have provided that sort of information. "Čubrilović, you betrayed us! You bastard! I thought you believed in the People's Republic!"

Feliks chuckled at Filipović's outburst and sat back with a smirk. "The Kapetan realised that the People's Republic is dead and isn't coming back. He realised that Serbia is not going to drive out the allied forces currently occupying it. He came to visit me earlier and we had an extremely constructive conversation, a very enlightening conversation. Ultimately he didn't betray you, he remained loyal to his family and himself. So I won't have you denigrating his good name, thank you very much." He then rose from his seat and sauntered over to stand next to Mateja, resting his entwined fingers on the Serbian's right shoulder and resting his chin atop his fingers. Mateja turned his head to look at him before shaking his head in clear amusement as Feliks grinned at him while playfully giving him a tap on the nose with an index finger; the young Baibakov then leaned back against the wall next to Mateja and copied the Serbian's folded arms as he returned his attention to Filipović.

"He's now my Kapetan, you see. He has an extremely bright future ahead of him, full of opportunity. Infinitely more opportunity than he would have ever had under the People's Republic or your myopic ambitions. Oh yes, that reminds me." Feliks turned his head to face Mateja once again. "I'll be giving you a bonus for heading out with the FSS guys and for your impending task. One hundred thousand, it'll be paid into the new bank account that I'll set up for you. I've also been on the phone with the Foreign Ministry, and they've contacted the embassy in Belgrade with the details you gave me. Your parents and your grandmother will be invited to the embassy tomorrow and their visas will be sorted out, then we just get them on a flight to Tbilisi. Once they're here, I can get citizenship for you and them sorted like that." He snapped his fingers to indicate the ease with which he could arrange everything, earning him an appreciative nod from Mateja.

"Thank you, Feliks."

"No problem at all. So..." Feliks thoughtfully tapped his chin. "How are we going to do this? You could shoot him, you could stab him, you could-"

"Strangle him?"

Feliks raised an eyebrow and nodded at Mateja's interjection. "Hmm, strangle him. Yes, I like that. It's very hands-on and I'd prefer to have him as intact as possible, he has a potential use once he's dead."

Filipović visibly blanched. "You're going to kill me?!"

"Hmm? Oh, sorry. Forgot you were there." Feliks stepped closer to the table and raised his right hand, making a 'V' with his index and middle fingers. Khoren immediately recognised the signal and walked over, providing his young master with a cigarillo and then lighting it for him; after taking an initial draw, Feliks exhaled the smoke in Filipović's direction. "Yes, we're going to kill you. Well, more specifically, the Kapetan is going to kill you. Well, to be even more precise, the Kapetan is going to execute you on behalf of the Marimaian Federation. Oh, there's usually a drum or something at executions, isn't there?"

Feliks leaned forward and began drumming his hands on the table as Mateja crossed the room and took up position behind Filipović. The older Serbian's eyes darted in panic and he yelled out as Mateja trapped him in a rear-naked choke. With his hands bound behind him, Filipović had no way to fight back as he slipped into unconsciousness and then eventually beyond. Once the deed was done, Mateja released the hold and Major Orbeliani checked for a pulse.

"Done."

Feliks stood upright and nodded, then gestured for Mateja to come over to him. After walking around the table to do so, Mateja found himself captured in a tight hug by his new employer.

"I'm proud of you, my Kapetan." Feliks then broke the hug and patted Mateja on the shoulder before yawning. "Well, it's been a busy day, hasn't it? Major, can I leave the rest of the arrangements to you?"

"Of course, Feliks Fyodorovich."

"Splendid. Well, I'm going to go to bed if nobody has any objections." He then returned his attention to Mateja as Khoren opened the interrogation room door. "I've had a guest room made up for you so you'll be coming back to the palace with me."

"Thanks, I don't think that I'd be up for driving back tonight. Just out of curiosity, what arrangements have you got in mind for him?"

A truly Cheshire Cat grin developed on Feliks' face in response. "Oh, it's a surprise."
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Wed Aug 18, 2021 3:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Posts: 241
Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Wed Aug 18, 2021 2:51 pm

12 August 2021, 07:30hrs [UTC+3]
Idokopas Palace
Kuban-Volga Republic, Marimaian Federation

The guest bedrooms of Idokopas Palace all featured the same decor and furnishings, as it had been decided that it was best for all guests to have the same. That way, nobody might end up feeling that they had been given a lesser room than somebody else. The walls were covered in mahogany panelling while the ceilings were decorated in white and gilt; the floors, meanwhile, were comprised of white and brown marble in the form of geometric patterns. Every guest bedroom was dominated by a large canopy bed that featured posts that had been carved to resemble exotic tree trunks, while each bed had a nightstand on either side and a plush ottoman at the foot. All of the furniture in the guest bedrooms had been designed in the style of 18th century Western European royal furnishings, yet another example of the Baibakov family's self-image and aspirations. Mateja Čubrilović was currently dozing, ensconced within a cocoon of silken sheets with his head resting on a comfortable pillow. As his invitation to stay at the palace had been rather impromptu he had had no night clothes to change into, so the only item of clothing currently being worn by him was a pair of black briefs. He had been given no information about breakfast time or anything like that by his new employer, so he had decided to stay where he was until eight o'clock or until he received some form of notice that it was time for the morning meal. He registered the knock at the door and slowly opened his eyes, but the door flew open well before he could respond.

"Good morning, my Kapetan!"

Mateja hauled himself into a sitting position as Feliks cheerfully strode into the bedroom, wearing an expensive scarlet silk pyjama top with matching shorts, and clutching a glass of fresh tea. So I guess he's never heard of boundaries, thought the Serbian. "Morning, Feliks." Mateja's vision was soon occupied by the massive form of Khoren as Feliks' giant manservant entered the bedroom, bearing a large tray with fold-out legs. Khoren gestured towards Mateja with the tray, so the former security officer reached back to arrange his pillow and then moved back so that he properly sat up against the headboard. Feliks then happily plonked himself down on the side of the bed as Khoren carefully placed the tray in front of Mateja.

"You did such a great job yesterday that I decided you deserved breakfast in bed. I had the kitchen staff look up Serbian and Yugoslav breakfast foods so I hope it's all to your liking."

Mateja looked over the items on the tray and was undeniably impressed by the sheer range of food options that had been provided, all freshly prepared: a portion of gibanica, the pie-like dish made of phyllo dough with creamy cheese and eggs; a slice of burek, a baked pastry dish filled with ground beef, spinach, and potatoes, and served with yoghurt; half of a komplet lepinja, traditional flatbread coated in thick cream and topped with an egg before being shortly baked and doused in warm meat drippings; and freshly baked bread with small portions of butter, cheese, and salami to combine with. There was also a small pot of fresh coffee with an accompanying milk jug and sugar bowl, complete with a coffee cup and saucer to use. "Wow...this looks delicious, thank you. Although there's no way that I'll eat all of this, so if you want any then-"

Before he could finish, Feliks reached over for a slice of salami and some cheese, smushing them together before taking a bite. "-help yourself." Mateja smirked to himself as he poured out some coffee and added sugar, stirring it and taking a sip. "So now that I'm officially working for you, what exactly am I going to be doing?"

"I've been thinking about that. I mean, I've already got a bodyguard and chauffeur. The idea that I've been toying with is having a small force of elite soldiers of my own because I can't keep asking the FSS to do everything. You would be their commanding officer, in charge of recruiting, training, all that sort of stuff."

"So you're talking about a special forces unit."

"Essentially, yeah. Admittedly it's not like I desperately need such a thing, but I'd like to be able to pick up the phone and have a troublemaker taken out on a moment's notice. That is for the future though, now let's focus on introducing you to my parents and getting you settled. For the time being, I'm afraid that you will have to be bodyguard number two if that's okay."

"Not a problem, in less than twenty-four hours you've shown me more appreciation than Filipović did in two months." Mateja took a bite of the gibanica and nodded. "Now that is good." He took another bite before his curiosity flared up and he had to ask a specific question. "So, now can you tell me what the surprise is regarding Filipović?"

Feliks considered for all of a second as, in all honesty, he was the sort of person who loved telling others about his schemes but only once they were well in progress. "Well, I arranged with Major Orbeliani to have Filipović's body cleaned up and then put into a refrigerated crate, that way he's not likely to get too icky on the way to his destination. The crate is being transported to Tbilisi where it will be delivered to the embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia. There's a typed notice included on the crate which says 'We found something we think you're looking for. Feel free to take the credit for finding it, it'll probably be useful for you. If we find any others then we'll let you know'. I reckon that they'd be quite happy to get their hands on him, even if he is stone dead."

"You're handing them quite the potential propaganda victory there. Nothing asked in return?"

Feliks shook his head. "The Apilonians don't have anything I want. The visas for your family won't need Apilonian permission and neither will their flight. Besides, the delivery is being done anonymously. No names or clues on the crate, and the FSS will be using a regular delivery truck to make it look like, well, just like a regular delivery. The driver won't be told about what's in the crate either. Let them have Filipović for free, like the worthless piece of crap that he was. If their intelligence people are as good as they are supposed to be then they'll know that it could have been any one of several groups in this nation that iced Filipović."

------------------------------------------------------------------

12 August 2021, 16:50hrs [UTC+4]
Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

All according to Feliks' vision and the implementation of that vision by Major Orbeliani, a truck arrived at the entrance of the Apilonian embassy in the Federation capital of Tbilisi, clearly displaying the logo of 'MariExpress'. One of the Federation's major delivery companies, MariExpress vehicles were a common sight on the roads of the region and occasionally even beyond, depending on how far an item needed to be sent. The uniformed driver exited the vehicle clutching a handheld device for logging deliveries and receiving signatures electronically, and approached one of the guards on duty outside. He recited the company's standard greeting with a broad friendly smile.

"MariExpress, we have a delivery for this address."

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The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Posts: 139
Founded: Feb 10, 2020
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Sun Aug 22, 2021 2:27 am

Sir Thomas D. Bainbridge KGC, His Majesty’s Ambassador to the Marimaian Federation
Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia, Tbilisi
Marimaian Federation
Monday 9th August 2021, 2200hrs Local Time




As far as the Kingdom of Apilonia was concerned, the Marimaian Federation was a cesspit of political corruption.

It was widely accepted by the Apilonian Establishment that there was next to no distinction between the Baibakov Family and the Marimaian Government, in a supposedly democratic state, and that money and favours could by pretty much anything. As such, the Marimaian Federation, whilst not formally sanctioned by the Kingdom due to the lack of any true oppression, had been designated as ‘Corrupt’ under the terms of the Combatting International Corruption Act of 2004, a landmark piece of legislation passed by the Apilonian Parliament. Such a designation under CICA prevented any Apilonian corporation from doing business with any corporate entity within the corrupt state, whether it be public or private, in the basis that not only would it be impossible to make a distinction between the two under such a system but also that it would compromise the integrity of Apilonian competition laws by giving any company that did business with them a less-than-legal means by which to secure a potentially advantage. Any such anti-competitive practices, including bribery, would have been illegal for an Apilonian entity whether it was conducted in a CICA designated country or not, but CICA effectively underlined that any business conducted in said country would be assumed to be corrupt.

However, from a geopolitical perspective, the Marimaian Federation was not seen as a potential threat, and was considered to be predictable in as much as it could be relied upon to act in its own self-interests, or more specifically those of Baibakovs. There were concerns about criminal links back to Apilonia, or more recently other Commonwealth members, and the dramatic increase of Commonwealth membership in the region had certainly brought such concerns to the forefront. Indeed, given the ability of criminal elements within the Marimaian Federation to simply pay their way out of trouble, it had surprised absolutely no one when the Apilonian Royal Intelligence Service (RIS) had determined that one of the fugitive members of the Yugoslav Politburo, former Minister for State Security Veselin Filipović, had fled to the Marimaian Federation in hopes of securing for himself a safe haven from the law enforcement agencies of Apilonia, Austria, and the rest of the Commonwealth, given the lack of any extradition treaties.

It was the matter of Filipović that was the subject of the late-night meeting at the Apilonian Embassy.

Although the Royal Intelligence Service, and its counterpart services in Commonwealth members, did not have the deepest network within the Marimaian Federation, it was sufficient to keep the former Yugoslavian minister under constant observation when they all worked together (as they were now formally able to under the terms of the Commonwealth Intelligence Agreement. The issue for the past several months had not been that Apilonia and its allies did not know where Filipović was but rather about what they were going to do about him. There had been some suggestions that he ought to be killed, something which could be done fairly quietly and without direct evidence linking back to the RIS or any other the other intelligence services. However, even without direct evidence it would be fairly obvious that if Filipović were to die in suspicious circumstances, the finger would very quickly be pointed at Apilonia, or more likely Austria, and even if it could not be proved it would not be ideal. After all, the Commonwealth was not in the business of murder, not even for war criminals… at least not officially. There were always times in intelligence when ‘wet work’ became necessary, but such a high-profile assassination would be distasteful in the extreme and was a last resort.

However, the other options did not seem much better, and were certainly far less practical. It was assumed that Filipović was paying off the Baibakovs to ensure his protection, and that any request to extradite him (especially without a treaty in place) would be met with a not-so-polite rejection. Whilst there had been some within the Apilonian Government that had advocated for a snatch-and-grab operation by Apilonian Special Forces, such a violation of another nation’s sovereignty, even one as distasteful as the Marimaian Federation would also be a last resort. As such, efforts had focused on two options; a more subtle abduction by Apilonian Intelligence, although that would have the issue of Filipović conveniently reappearing to face trial for war crimes, and possible sanctions in order to put pressure on the Marimaian Government to hand Filipović over. No decision had yet been made, on the basis that it was not an immediate concern given that they had him under full-time surveillance, but the man’s actions this evening had changed all of that.

The gathering around the table in the Embassy’s SCIF (Sensitive compartmented information facility) was small, due to both the sensitive nature of information that would be divulged in the room but also due to the small size of the Apilonian Embassy, all things considered. With minimal economic interaction, there was no need for a large economic affairs section, and given that the Kingdom kept itself out of Marimaian politics, so there was no need for a large political affairs section. Sir Thomas D. Bainbridge, His Majesty’s Ambassador, sat at the head of the table, with Amelia S. Pierce, nominally the Counsellor for External Affairs but really the RIS Station Chief, on his left, and Chief Inspector Laurence Pattinson from the Royal Apilonian Constabulary’s Diplomatic Protection Division (itself part of the Specialist Operations Command, who served as both the Security Attaché and the Regional Security Officer. The only other person present was Gareth Keller, the Counsellor for Political Affairs. It was a deliberately small group, with only the necessary people involved to keep the circle tight.

“Alright, let’s get started,” Sir Thomas said simply. “Amelia… what have you got for us?”

“Less than two hours ago, our observation team on Filipović observed him visiting the Idokopas Palace… he had travelled well over two and a half hours from his hiding place, and stayed less than thirty minutes, so likely had limited face-time with the Baibakovs,” Pierce replied. “However, this is nevertheless the first verified face-to-face meeting between the Baibakovs and Filipović, and represents a potential escalation in Filipović’s presence within the Federation… which will likely adjust our decision-making.”

The other three Apilonians in the SCIF grimaced at the news; given the difficult situation they found themselves in, this was the least positive development that could have happened, as it dramatically decreased the amount of time the Kingdom had to make its decisions before a decision was potentially made for them. It was for that reason that Chief Inspector Pattison was involved, as there were arrest warrants issued for Filipović by Apilonia and Austria individually, the Commonwealth as a whole (under the Commonwealth Security Agreement), and the provisional government of Serbia, which meant that a wanted criminal getting chummy with the Baibakovs would be far from ideal.

“It definitely will,” Sir Thomas sighed heavily. “We simply cannot allow the man who ran the Yugoslav State Security to go free indefinitely, and if he’s going to become more important to the Baibakovs…”

“It might be better to force matters to a head sooner rather than later,” Chief Inspector Pattison nodded.

“Exactly,” Sir Thomas replied. “Alright, I’ll talk to Bainbridge… start drawing up options given the most up to date information… this situation just got much more complicated.”

Chief Inspector Laurence E. Pattison, RAC
Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia, Tbilisi
Marimaian Federation
Thursday 12th August 2021, 1700hrs Local Time




Chief Inspector Pattison was more than a little bemused when he was called down to the front gate of the Embassy in the later afternoon, albeit he fully understood why his men had wanted him to come down. The officers of the Royal Apilonian Constabulary assigned to Embassy Security were the closest that the, adamantly civilian, RAC came to operating true paramilitary forces, with the exception of the Infrastructure Security Command (ISC) which served as armed guards for key infrastructure, with very little day-to-day law enforcement duties. Despite operating on a scale and in a manner that was usual for a military gendarmerie, long tradition had kept the RAC as civilians, albeit ones with extensive law enforcement authority as duly-attested Crown Constables (the generally uniformed equivalents of the Crown Agents of the Royal Bureau of Investigation). As such, although the RAC conducted missions akin to those of a gendarmerie, and were often fairly heavily armed, they did not see themselves as soldiers but rather as peacekeepers. This was exemplified by the Embassy Security Division, who despite having a stock of weapons and armour akin to those used by the ISC, or by RAC SWAT Teams, they stayed in service uniforms for as long as possible.

That service uniform was iconic across the Kingdom, and in many respects remained a little less practical than it could be in order to maintain the image of the RAC; black trousers and black shoes with a white shirt (covered by lightweight body armour), and either traditional custodian helmets (usually in the urban areas, to make them stand out when compared to municipal law enforcement), or peaked caps. There was a more practical duty uniform, consisting of heavy duty working trousers and lighter, more breathable tops and baseball caps, but in the Embassy environment, the service uniform was far more appropriate. It was the same uniform that Pattison himself was in, complete with the same equipment belt worn in the Kingdom, including a Smith & Wesson M&P, chambered in the .40 S&W, the standard issue sidearm of the RAC.

“What’s going on here then, boys,” Pattison asked as he stepped up to the Sergeant of the Guard who had called him down, after responding to the front gate himself when the two Constables manning it had called it in. “What on Earth is this?”

The Sergeant quickly explained, and sure enough, a MariExpress delivery driver was unloading a package for them, with very irritated looking Apilonian Constables watching on. It was not for no reason that they looked less than pleased; with the exception of letters and other small items, which could more easily be screened for any explosives or other security risks, the Embassy did not tend to receive larger items except through official channels. All of which meant that the delivery of a larger item was both suspicious, and a massive inconvenience given that those Constables not on duty would doubtless be involved in determining if this package was a threat. Moreover, Pattison was almost certainly going to have to lockdown the Embassy until he could confirm that it wasn’t a threat, which meant that no one was going off duty anytime soon.

Pattison shook his head and stepped towards the MariExpress delivery driver.

“Sir, do you have an identity for the sender?” He asked the man. “Diplomatic missions don’t tend to get civilian deliveries.”
The Kingdom of Apilonia
An Earth II Member

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Freistaat-Ostafrika
Envoy
 
Posts: 241
Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sun Aug 22, 2021 6:45 am

The Kingdom of Apilonia wrote:
Chief Inspector Laurence E. Pattison, RAC
Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia, Tbilisi
Marimaian Federation
Thursday 12th August 2021, 1700hrs Local Time




Chief Inspector Pattison was more than a little bemused when he was called down to the front gate of the Embassy in the later afternoon, albeit he fully understood why his men had wanted him to come down. The officers of the Royal Apilonian Constabulary assigned to Embassy Security were the closest that the, adamantly civilian, RAC came to operating true paramilitary forces, with the exception of the Infrastructure Security Command (ISC) which served as armed guards for key infrastructure, with very little day-to-day law enforcement duties. Despite operating on a scale and in a manner that was usual for a military gendarmerie, long tradition had kept the RAC as civilians, albeit ones with extensive law enforcement authority as duly-attested Crown Constables (the generally uniformed equivalents of the Crown Agents of the Royal Bureau of Investigation). As such, although the RAC conducted missions akin to those of a gendarmerie, and were often fairly heavily armed, they did not see themselves as soldiers but rather as peacekeepers. This was exemplified by the Embassy Security Division, who despite having a stock of weapons and armour akin to those used by the ISC, or by RAC SWAT Teams, they stayed in service uniforms for as long as possible.

That service uniform was iconic across the Kingdom, and in many respects remained a little less practical than it could be in order to maintain the image of the RAC; black trousers and black shoes with a white shirt (covered by lightweight body armour), and either traditional custodian helmets (usually in the urban areas, to make them stand out when compared to municipal law enforcement), or peaked caps. There was a more practical duty uniform, consisting of heavy duty working trousers and lighter, more breathable tops and baseball caps, but in the Embassy environment, the service uniform was far more appropriate. It was the same uniform that Pattison himself was in, complete with the same equipment belt worn in the Kingdom, including a Smith & Wesson M&P, chambered in the .40 S&W, the standard issue sidearm of the RAC.

“What’s going on here then, boys,” Pattison asked as he stepped up to the Sergeant of the Guard who had called him down, after responding to the front gate himself when the two Constables manning it had called it in. “What on Earth is this?”

The Sergeant quickly explained, and sure enough, a MariExpress delivery driver was unloading a package for them, with very irritated looking Apilonian Constables watching on. It was not for no reason that they looked less than pleased; with the exception of letters and other small items, which could more easily be screened for any explosives or other security risks, the Embassy did not tend to receive larger items except through official channels. All of which meant that the delivery of a larger item was both suspicious, and a massive inconvenience given that those Constables not on duty would doubtless be involved in determining if this package was a threat. Moreover, Pattison was almost certainly going to have to lockdown the Embassy until he could confirm that it wasn’t a threat, which meant that no one was going off duty anytime soon.

Pattison shook his head and stepped towards the MariExpress delivery driver.

“Sir, do you have an identity for the sender?” He asked the man. “Diplomatic missions don’t tend to get civilian deliveries.”


A MariExpress driver for the past five years, Boris Okropiridze had delivered to all manner of premises and faced all manner of questions in the process of doing so. The thirty-nine-year-old maintained a cheerful demeanour in the face of the uniformed Apilonian security.

"I'm afraid not, sir. I can, however, check the tracking to see where we picked it up from." He spent a few moments tapping at his handheld device before discovering the information. "So, it was delivered to our hub at Demyan Baibakov International Airport here in Tbilisi at eleven-thirty this morning. That probably means that it was flown in from somewhere else. VIP Express Delivery was paid for, that's why we've delivered it here so quickly. We were provided with additional instructions though, sir. If you refuse delivery of the package then we're to ship it to Krasnodar, that's in the north of the Federation. Maybe that's where it came from? Oh, I did see that there's a notice on the crate as well."

Boris turned his attention back to the refrigerated crate and took a few seconds to locate the notice. "There it is, sir. 'We found something we think you're looking for. Feel free to take the credit for finding it, it'll probably be useful for you. If we find any others then we'll let you know'." He then turned back to Pattison. "Since the crate's a refrigerated one, it must be something that the sender wanted to keep fresh. We get them quite often, usually it's caviar from the Caspian Sea or some other fancy stuff being shipped around. Unfortunately this one doesn't have any record of the contents, but it's not mandatory for those details to be provided.

"So...are you going to accept delivery or not, sir? I don't mean to be rude, but I've got some other deliveries to make and they're also VIP Express Delivery. If they're late then I could get in trouble."

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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Mon Aug 23, 2021 6:14 am

Chief Inspector Laurence E. Pattison, RAC
Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia, Tbilisi
Marimaian Federation
Thursday 12th August 2021, 1700hrs Local Time




Chief Inspector Pattison narrowed his eyes as the MariExpress Delivery Driver gave him more information about the package and where it had come from, not to mention the note that had come with it. He did not have any confirmation from what he had just been told, but Pattison suddenly felt a wave of suspicion wash over him, as there was only one thing that could be meant by such an ambiguous message on a refrigerated package without any record of the contents. If it had been anything less suspicious, such as foodstuffs or caviar as the delivery driver had suggested, the chances were that it would have been listed on the records, for insurance purposes if nothing else. It was not something out of the realms of possibility for this part of the world, although delivering it to the Embassy of Apilonia was an incredibly ballsy move if Pattison’s suspicious turned out to be correct. In any event, if his suspicions were correct he sure as hell wasn’t going to open the package at the Embassy’s front gates, in full view of the public.

“Fine, we’ll take it,” Pattison said simply, taking the handheld device in order to sign.

Once it was in his possession, Pattison accompanied two RAC Constables into the building as they transported the package inside the Embassy to a secure room in the basement, close to the SCIF. As they went through this process, Pattison was careful to ensure that there were at least two officers with the package at any given time, and that every possible precaution was taken to maintain the integrity of any evidence that might be contained within. After conducting a few standard security checks, primarily focused around ensuring that the package was not radioactive or otherwise lined with explosives, Pattison gave the order to open it. Sure enough, within a few moments he was looking at the refrigerated corpse of Veselin Filipović.

“Oh Jesus Christ,” Pattison scowled as he looked down at the body of one of the most wanted men in Europe. “How on Earth are we supposed to explain this?”

“Well, I’m glad that this is well above my paygrade, Guv,” Constable Hollis commented wryly as he looked down at the corpse.

“Shut it,” Pattison snapped. “Someone go find Amelia Pierce… we need to start brainstorming a cover story.”

Within fifteen minutes, Amelia Pierce was also looking down at the body of the Minister of State Security of the former Yugoslavia, her expression noticeably less distasteful than her RAC colleagues. Although it was left unspoken, the three RAC officers (who currently constituted the circle that knew about the body in their custody) were left under no illusions that this was by no means the first body that the RIS Station Chief had seen, and probably in far less dainty conditions than the refrigerated gift that had been left at their gates.

“Well, that solves that problem,” Pierce commented dryly.

“I’m not sure I agree with that,” Pattison grumbled. “It solves your problem, not mine.”

“Oh, I’m sure we can work something out for you,” Pierce said confidently. “Now he’s in our possession we can come up with something… I’ll get my team together and we’ll put a cover together… we’ll have him out of your hands and on the way to Serbia within forty-eight hours.”

“And in the meantime?”

“In the meantime, keep him hear under guard, we’ll need to inform the Ambassador, as doubtless the locals are going to want some sort of subtle acknowledgement from us the next time we meet,” Amelia replied simply. “We’ll keep the circle small for the moment, so you two boys have volunteered to stand a lot of guard duty for the next few days, but I’ll make sure we make it worth your while, we don’t want anyone to know what really happened.”

Pierce looked around at the small group.

“Alright then, let’s get started.”
The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Tue Aug 24, 2021 2:43 pm

14 August 2021, 15:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

With Feliks' business in the Kuban-Volga Republic concluded, he had returned to Tbilisi with both Khoren and Mateja Čubrilović in tow. The journey had been an easy and particularly comfortable one, as they had flown out of Krasnodar International Airport in 'Tbilisi-Two', one of the Presidential aircraft operated by the Marimaian Federation. Tbilisi-Two was a customised Global 7500 business jet that had inevitably fallen into Feliks' clutches as his parents greatly preferred the larger Tbilisi-One, and the aircraft always served its young master well. Tbilisi-Two featured four distinct living spaces: a forward club suite; a conference suite with a table for six; an entertainment suite with a divan and adjacent credenza with large-screen TV; and a master suite with a double bed, club seat, and corner cabinet with TV. While the flight had only taken about an hour, Feliks suffered from a propensity for falling asleep while flying and had therefore crashed out on the double bed for the majority of the journey. Upon arriving at Demyan Baibakov International Airport, which was of course named after Feliks' grandfather and the inaugurator of Baibakov rule over the Federation, the three of them disembarked and were taken to Avlabari Palace in one of the Presidential limousines. The nineteen-minute car journey culminated in the vehicle's arrival at the palace complex, at which point Khoren exited first to open the rear passenger door for Feliks, who energetically bounded out of the limousine and headed for the palace's main entrance, receiving a sharp salute from the members of the Presidential Guard who were on duty.

After being greeted by a palace valet and informed of his parents' location within the residence, Feliks led Khoren and Mateja to the family lounge. He stopped just outside and took a moment to inspect Mateja's appearance, adjusting the Serbian's necktie before granting his final approval. Feliks then turned and opened the door to the well-appointed lounge, a room that bore a striking similarity to the lounge of Idokopas Palace; the similar decor was no coincidence, as the Baibakovs certainly had a liking for specific styles of interior decoration. Stepping inside with a flourish, Feliks beamed happily as his parents halted their conversation and rose from their seats to greet him.

"Welcome home, my boy!" President Baibakov captured his son in a jovial hug before mussing up his hair, then gave him an affectionate pat on the back as Feliks exchanged cheek kisses with his mother. The three Baibakovs then settled down, Fyodor in an armchair while Feliks sat next to Zahra on the couch opposite. "So, how did the meeting go?"

While Khoren entered the room to take up his usual stoic position and Mateja continued to wait outside for the proper moment of introduction, the corner of Feliks' mouth twitched as he prepared to explain the happenings of the past few days. "Well..."

---------------------------------------------------------------------

As the explanation concluded, Fyodor fixed his son with a thoughtful expression before rising from his chair. "I think I need to have a drink."

The portly Marimaian President crossed to a nearby drinks cabinet and produced a finely decorated shot glass along with a bottle of Marimaian vodka; he filled the glass and then tapped it on the top of the cabinet before downing the contents in one go. Fyodor then turned back to his family, gesturing towards Feliks with the vodka bottle.

"I've heard things and done things in my time, but you, my boy...you amaze even me sometimes. You met him, evaluated that he would be a problem if we kept him around, then got his bodyguard to kill him. Then you shipped his body to the Apilonian embassy, thereby making him their problem."

Feliks shrugged. "There's more to it than that, as I've just explained. Although yeah, that's the condensed version."

Fyodor chuckled darkly. "My father would be so damn proud of you, Feliks. I know I am." He poured and consumed another shot of vodka before returning the bottle to the cabinet. "So, when am I going to meet Filipović's executioner?" He held up a hand as realisation dawned upon him. "He's been waiting outside the whole time, hasn't he?"

Feliks grinned and called for Mateja to come in, a call that was quickly answered as Mateja entered the lounge, dressed in a smart suit. Feliks then jumped to his feet and walked over to stand at Mateja's side, holding his hands out as if to present the Serbian to an audience. "Allow me to introduce Mateja Čubrilović, a Kapetan of Yugoslavia's Special Anti-Terrorist Unit. His finer qualities include loyalty to his family, a pragmatic approach to political affiliation, and the best rear-naked choke you will ever see." After a brief pause while Khoren provided him with a cigarillo, Feliks continued to talk up the Kapetan with what almost sounded like pride in his voice. "He was smart enough to see that Filipović was scum and that the People's Republic was long gone, and so he came to me with information about Filipović's intentions. He then personally killed two, yes, two of Filipović's guards during the FSS raid on the dacha. Then he killed Filipović himself. Papa, you should have seen it! He got his arm under Filipović's chin and then, bam!, locked the choke in tight. Didn't even bat an eyelid."

"Hmm." Fyodor made his way over to the pair and regarded Mateja with a critical eye. "What's to stop you from betraying my boy like you betrayed Filipović?"

Mateja cleared his throat and locked eyes with the Marimaian President. "Feliks has arranged for my parents and my grandmother to receive visas so that they can leave Serbia and come here to the Federation, then he's going to fast-track citizenship for them and help them make a comfortable life here. I owe him for that."

Fyodor gave a nod before his face brightened. "He's also an excellent employer when it comes to day-to-day duties." He gave a loud laugh and slapped Mateja on the shoulder. "Welcome to my boy's menagerie, Kapetan! Drink?"

"Menagerie? I've only got two of them!"

The President laughed once more while his son mock-pouted. "Yes, but look at them! A giant Ingush and a highly-trained killer Serbian. Come, Kapetan. Meet his beautiful mother, have a drink with us. When are your family due to arrive?"

Feliks chimed in with the answer to that question. "There aren't that many flights between Belgrade and Tbilisi these days, it's currently one every weekday so they're booked on the Monday morning flight." He took a draw on his cigarillo and exhaled. "So from what I read, the flight usually takes about six hours or so. They'll leave around nine in the morning and get here around five or six in the evening, accounting for the time difference."

"Excellent, excellent. Where will they be staying?"

"I booked them into the Hotel Federalnyy for a couple of weeks, it'll allow them to settle while we find them a house. I suspect that we've got something nice in our portfolio somewhere."

Fyodor's tone signalled clear approval for his son's plans. "We can always extend their stay at the Federalnyy if necessary. Good thinking."

After being introduced to Zahra Baibakova, Mateja was offered the end seat of the couch opposite Fyodor's armchair, with Feliks occupying the centre position between his mother and 'his' Kapetan. Fyodor, meanwhile, rummaged through the contents of the drinks cabinet until he brought out the vodka again, along with another four shot glasses. He first poured a shot of vodka for Khoren and took it over to the quiet giant, then returned to the seated gathering and poured a shot for everyone. After taking his seat once again, Fyodor tapped his glass on the coffee table and raised it to the others.

"Here's to our boy Feliks, and our new friend, Kapetan Mateja Čubrilović!"
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Sun Sep 12, 2021 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sun Aug 29, 2021 11:37 am

15 August 2021, 10:15hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

After joining the Baibakov family for breakfast, Mateja returned to his bedroom on the third floor of Avlabari Palace to begin unpacking, as he had had little time to do so the previous evening. After the resolution of the Filipović matter, Feliks had encouraged Mateja to return to his accommodations in Tuapse to pack up his belongings before they headed to Tbilisi, a process that had not taken very long as he had only been in the country for about two months. His cases had then been brought to Avlabari Palace as his new role meant that he would be residing wherever Feliks resided. My bedroom, he thought as he placed a suitcase on the large canopy bed. This is bigger than the family apartment back in Belgrade. Although he had only been in Feliks' employ for four days at this point, Mateja was quickly learning what sort of people the Baibakov family were. His bedroom demonstrated that they were indeed the sort of people who kept to specific styles of interior decoration, as the colour scheme was pretty much identical to that of the guest bedrooms in Idokopas Palace: mahogany panelling on the walls, white and gilt on the ceiling, and a floor comprised of white and brown marble. They were also people who never did anything on a small scale if they could get away with it; when the ensuite bathroom was included, the bedroom was not only larger than Mateja's family's apartment in Belgrade, it was larger than the majority of apartments in the Serbian capital. As he opened the suitcase and took a cursory glance at the clothes that were at the top, there was a knock at the door.

"Come in, Feliks."

The door opened and, sure enough, Feliks strolled in with Khoren following a few steps behind. Mateja smirked to himself as Feliks plonked himself down on the side of the bed, his brow furrowed. "How did you know it was me?"

"Who else would it be?"

"Well, it could've been my parents. Actually no, they're perfectly happy with you and they're content leaving me to look after you since I was the one who recruited you. Okay, yes, fine, I'm the only one that it would be." Feliks sat back, using his hands to support himself as he began to idly kick his legs back and forth. "So how do you like your room? I made sure to get you as close to mine as possible, I'm at the end of the corridor. Khoren has his own little room attached to mine." He giggled as a thought jumped into his head. "Of course, every room is small for Khoren."

"It's going to take some getting used to if I'm honest. You have to remember that I'm not used to all this...what do I even call it? Opulence?"

"Either grandeur or magnificence would have also been acceptable answers." Feliks grinned at him before continuing. "I understand what you're saying though. Yugoslavia wasn't exactly known for showering its population with spacious housing, I don't think any commie regime could ever be accused of that. We've still got quite a lot of apartment blocks here in the Federation from our own red era. Anyway, capitalism has been good to us and especially good to my family. I like to share that good fortune with my employees and their families if I can. Speaking of which, your parents and grandmother will have a nice surprise when they get on the plane tomorrow morning."

"Oh?"

"They'll be bumped up to business class. I couldn't leave them in regular seats, not when the flight is bringing them to a better life here in Marimaia. So they'll get a lovely flight and then check into the Federalnyy, I know you haven't seen it but it is one of the best hotels in Tbilisi. Then whenever they're ready, we can start house-hunting with them. Oh, and it'll be entirely up to them if they want to work. Their home will be rent-free and the utilities will be paid for, so if they want to work then they can or if they want to treat this as retirement then I'll get the pension stuff sorted out for them. Either way, I'll set them up with a nice amount of money to start with."

Mateja shook his head in disbelief. "No matter how many times you tell me what you're going to do for them, I still can't quite believe it. You're going to be giving them the sort of life that most Yugoslav citizens could only dream about. I know that you're doing it because it was your way of sealing the deal concerning me working for you and betraying Filipović, but you didn't have to go this far with it. I'm still not sure how I'm ever going to properly thank you, even if you say that it's 'just part of the deal'."

"Hey, I've got no problem giving your family a dream life if it gets me my very own...well, you. We've had Permians flee here from the Cottish intervention in the Ural Confederacy last year, and we even had regime loyalists flee here with their families from the East African Federation in the late 1960s when their military booted out the ruling leftists. That's why we have so many East African shops and things in the Marjanishvili neighbourhood of Tbilisi. Anyway, my point is that even though we have a history of taking in refugees of a certain sort, we get surprisingly few as highly trained as yourself. I've been doing my reading about the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit, you guys are hardcore. Or is it that you guys were hardcore? The unit doesn't exist any longer so I guess you'd say that you were hardcore, but as a person, you are hardcore...anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, is it true that you guys only passed the recruitment stage if you defeated two other candidates in hand-to-hand combat at the same time?"

"Yep. The Special Anti-Terrorist Unit wasn't easy to get into, believe me. In the year I joined, there were about one hundred and fifty candidates. Only eight of us got in." Mateja noted the expression on Feliks's face, as the younger man was evidently impressed. "That wasn't just down to the hand-to-hand at the end, mind you. The training covered anything and everything that the instructors thought you might come up against, and the instructors were veterans of the unit so they knew what the unit might come up against."

"Wow. You know, I just realised that we haven't discussed the terms of your employment, have we?" Feliks patted the bed and gestured for Mateja to sit down next to him. As the Serbian sat down, Feliks leaned back once again but now crossed his legs at the knee, and began using his left hand to gesture as he spoke. "So, the arrangements for your family are not part of your terms of employment, let's get that out of the way. You'll have accommodation provided for you, so you've got this room here in Avlabari Palace, you've got that room you stayed in at Idokopas Palace, et cetera. Of course, you'll have the right to use any facilities that are available, like gyms, swimming pools, that sort of thing. As far as your salary is concerned, I'm thinking about three hundred thousand Marimaian lari a year. Does that sound like a fair wage?"

"Um, if I remember correctly then that roughly works out at about four times what I was earning in Yugoslavia, if not more."

"So it's a fair wage then. Now then, time off. Thirty days of paid holiday time, national holidays off, weekends off. Unless I need you to be working. I won't call you on booked days off unless it's an absolute emergency. If I do need you on a weekend or a national holiday then I'll pay you extra for it. As I said previously, at the moment you're effectively a bodyguard while I sort out exactly what else I might want you to do."

Mateja considered the terms that Feliks was proposing, and nodded in agreement. "I can't argue with any of that, I'd be a fool to refuse those terms." He chuckled at the beaming grin that he received from Feliks before continuing. "You know, if I'm going to be a bodyguard then maybe I should teach you some self-defence techniques. You'll always have me and/or Khoren around but there's no harm in showing you a few moves."

"That way, if someone annoys me then I can throw them across the room?"

Feliks' mischievous smirk elicited a laugh from Mateja. "Not quite. If you need someone thrown across the room then let me or Khoren do it for you."

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Wed Sep 01, 2021 11:42 am

16 August 2021, 18:00hrs [UTC+4]
Demyan Baibakov International Airport
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

Located some eleven miles southeast of Tbilisi and known as Tbilisi International Airport until March 2006, when it was renamed in honour of the recently-deceased first Marimaian President from the Baibakov family, Demyan Baibakov International Airport (DBIA, often referred to as 'Dibya' for short) had undergone several changes during its lifespan to date. Following a comprehensive reconstruction in 2007, the airport featured two terminals, one for arrivals and one for departures; across both terminals, the airport had a total of five boarding bridges with forty-one check-in terminals. Designed in a mixture of 'socialist realism' and 'internationalism' architectural styles, Demyan Baibakov International Airport was admittedly somewhat small compared to the airports that served the capitals of the world's great powers, but that was simply an effect of geopolitical and economic realities. There were certainly larger and busier airports elsewhere in the Marimaian Federation after all, such as the international airports at Sochi and Krasnodar in the Kuban-Volga Republic. However, as it bore the name of the inaugurator of the 'Marimaian' Federation, DBIA did have certain things that other airports in the Federation did not possess. The arrival and departure lounges both offered drinks, snacks, daily newspapers, and internet access for free to all passengers, while both terminals featured paid restaurants for more substantial meals that employed highly-rated chefs from around the globe. In a move that would undoubtedly be illegal under the employment laws of most nations, DBIA also had 'attractiveness standards' for public-facing airport employees to ensure that passengers were always greeted by staff members with a pleasing appearance. There was also something of a quirk that the Baibakovs had introduced, something that had proven quite popular with more nationalistic Marimaians: as passengers disembarked from an aircraft into the arrivals terminal, they were always greeted by the rather bombastic strains of 'O Glorious Land', the Marimaian Federation's national anthem, being played over the public address system.

This particular Monday evening saw the airport primarily dealing with domestic flights to Baku in the Azeri Republic and Yerevan in the Armenian Republic, while the single international flight that was scheduled to arrive was the flight from Belgrade. Admittedly the flights from Belgrade to Tbilisi were nowhere near as busy as they had been at the height of the relationship between the then-Transcaucasian Federation and the People's Republic of Yugoslavia during the period when both nations had been ruled by leftist regimes, and there was continuing discussion within the upper echelons of MarimAir (the Federation's state-owned airline) about whether the route was still viable at present. However, until a final decision was reached on the route's viability, the daily flight would continue to operate. There were not that many individuals waiting to greet passengers from the Belgrade flight as the Austrian-Apilonian occupation of Serbia and the Apilonian policy on doing business with Marimaian companies meant that there was currently little reason for Serbians to travel to Tbilisi unless they were relocating, a process that would, of course, require a Marimaian visa. Due to the reputation that the Marimaian Federation had in most capitals around the world, there tended to be fewer people looking to move there compared with those seeking to move elsewhere in Europe or North America, and so visa applications were usually for extended vacations or attempts to evade justice elsewhere in the world. However, this evening saw the arrival of three individuals who had experienced the almost unheard-of event of being invited to receive a Marimaian visa: Miladin and Tijana Čubrilović, and Tijana's mother Radmila Golubović. Aged sixty-one, fifty-six, and seventy-nine respectively, the three Serbians had been invited to the Marimaian embassy in Belgrade four days prior and informed that they were being granted visas 'due to their relative's service to the Federation'. Their photographs had been taken and the paperwork handled with considerable speed as the Foreign Ministry had alerted the embassy staff to the fact that the visas had been requested by Feliks Baibakov; the three Serbians had subsequently received their visas and plane tickets during their visit to the embassy. Upon returning to the relatively small family apartment elsewhere in the Serbian capital, the trio had spent the weekend packing although they did not have a great deal to sort out; the Yugoslavian economic system had not allowed for the acquisition of personal possessions in quite the same way as more capitalistic economies did, so virtually all of the appliances within the apartment were older models acquired from waiting lists.

As the trio exited baggage collection, Miladin pushing a small trolley that bore the luggage that they had brought with them from Belgrade, they were met with the beaming smile of Mateja. He rushed over to his parents and grandmother, hugging each of them in turn before taking over the trolley for his father.

"How was the flight?"

His taller and slightly grizzled father chuckled and shook his head. "You know full well how it went. We boarded the aircraft and the staff told us that our seats had been upgraded to business class, it was absolutely lovely." He patted his son on the arm and smiled. "Thank you, son. It was a nice surprise."

Mateja nodded and returned the smile. Before heading for the airport, he had been told by Feliks to take credit for the ticket upgrade if he wanted to do so. "Glad you enjoyed it. Life here in the Marimaian Federation is going to be somewhat different to what you're used to, but I think you'll find that it will be a lot better. A real land of opportunity."

"Opportunity?"

"You'd be surprised what can come your way when you least expect it." Mateja gestured to the cases as he continued to push the trolley towards the terminal's exit. "Did you manage to bring everything you wanted to bring? If there's anything in the apartment that you had to leave behind, we can always get it shipped over."

Tijana joined in the conversation, clearing her throat as she did so. "We've got all the photographs and everything personal, all that's left in the apartment is the appliances and the furniture."

"That's not a problem, Mama. Now that you're here, you'll be able to have better furniture and more modern appliances. No waiting lists or queues at the shops. I think it's safe to say that you'll never want for anything ever again."

Miladin looked questioningly at Mateja. "What aren't you telling us? We received the visas because you've performed some 'service for the Federation'. We received plane tickets that were upgraded to business class, and now you're telling us that we won't want for anything ever again. Where is all the money for this coming from?"

"I found an employer, Papa. The sort of employer that you only find once in a lifetime, and that's only if you're especially fortunate. The sort of employer who can name an international airport after one of their family without anyone saying anything."

Miladin grasped his son by the arm. "Wait. You're telling us that you're working for the Baibakovs?"

"Feliks Baibakov, to be more specific."

Tijana's eyes widened at the revelation. "The son of the Marimaian President? How did you even meet him?"

Mateja smirked and winked at her. "That's a long story, Mama. I'll tell you over dinner at your hotel, I've been reliably told that it's one of the best in Tbilisi." The quartet exited the terminal, allowing Mateja to produce a key fob and press the button to remotely unlock the vehicle that had been loaned to him from the Baibakov family's automotive fleet. More specifically, the large and immaculately clean black SUV parked right outside the terminal entrance and exit. As he gestured for his family members to climb in, he overheard a comment from his grandmother to his mother that brought a broad smile to his face.

"I told you that he'd do well."

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sat Sep 04, 2021 10:38 am

22 August 2021, 20:25hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

The first underground floor of Avlabari Palace was often referred to by the inhabitants of the Presidential residence as the 'exercise floor', due to the variety of amenities that it played host to. In addition to the cavernous swimming pool room where Feliks indulged in his regular Sunday afternoon swim, the floor also featured a large state-of-the-art sauna and a spacious gym that was filled with the very latest exercise equipment. The gym had seemed to be a rather extravagant exercise in pointlessness for the most part as the Baibakovs very rarely even looked inside the room, let alone making use of it, yet they had continued to update the equipment as and when newer versions were released. Khoren's induction into Feliks' employ resulted in the gym finally seeing regular usage as the quiet Ingush usually spent an hour every day exercising, and Mateja's presence meant that the equipment was finally starting to see the level of usage that it was designed for. Understandably keen to maintain the level of fitness that he had enjoyed while part of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit, Mateja had been quite impressed with the variety of equipment available to him and started to develop a workout plan that he could follow on a daily basis. After having spent the day with his family as it was a Sunday and therefore one of his days off, the Serbian had returned to Avlabari Palace and was now almost halfway through 'Combat Sunday' as he had dubbed it in his exercise schedule. Stripped to the waist with hands and bare feet taped up, Mateja was currently inflicting a variety of blows and strikes upon a free-standing punching bag, practising the hand-to-hand combat technique of his former unit. Despite his focus, he still heard the door opening and once again correctly guessed the identity of the individual who had decided to visit him.

"Feliks."

"Damn, do I have a distinctive smell or something that I don't know about?"

Mateja snorted in amusement and halted his assault upon the punching bag, resting his hands on it momentarily. With a slight sheen of sweat glistening on his skin, he turned to properly engage with his employer. He immediately noticed the absence of Feliks' usual massive companion but then caught a glimpse of Khoren's arm through the open doorway, meaning that he was waiting outside. "No, it's just my intuition. What's on your mind?"

Feliks took a draw on the cigarillo that he was brandishing and grinned. "Curiosity and nosiness, mostly. How are you finding the facilities here? Up to par with what you had back in Yugoslavia?"

"I'd say that it's even better than what I had access to. Although there is one thing that's missing." Mateja crossed the room to one of the benches that ran along the northern wall and picked up his water bottle, taking a drink and sitting down before continuing. "In the S.A.T.U., we had other unit members as live sparring partners. The bag is all well and good, but there's no real risk of being hit back."

"No problem! I could arrange for some members of the Presidential Guard to spar with you, they're the best we have. Alternatively, if you want someone that you can really go to town on, I'm pretty sure that a prisoner or two could be persuaded to take up the challenge. Especially if they're promised their freedom if they beat you, which of course they'll never manage. We've got a pretty hardcore prison system here in the Federation, eight corrective labour facilities and then some corrective colonies scattered around the place. Nobody would miss a murderer or two. In fact, I suspect that the prison governors would welcome the disappearance of some of their more troublesome inmates."

"Is that where you found Khoren?"

"No no, that was an extremely fortunate chance encounter. I was visiting Magas, the capital of the Ingushetian Republic, and he was working there as a bodyguard of the Ingushetian First Minister. Anyway, Nazyr Ilyasov is one of Papa's cronies so I offered him a million lati for Khoren. You know what they say, 'everybody has a price', and Nazyr is no exception. Voila, I left Magas with my very own giant. I'm not just saying this because he can hear us talking, but he's proven to be well worth the price. So, Presidential Guard sparring partners or prisoners to beat up?"

"I'm all for helping to solve prison overcrowding but someone might notice if there's regular removal of body bags from the palace. I'll try the Presidential Guard, we'll see if they're as good as you say that they are."

"Oooh, sounds like a gauntlet being thrown down. I expect you to bring your absolute A-game against them, but then I'd expect nothing less." Feliks sauntered over to the bench and sat down next to Mateja. "How are your family doing then? Everything okay?"

Mateja gave a nod with a warm smile at the question. "They're doing well, thanks. They're enjoying the Federalnyy, Nana's never been anywhere like it." He then let out a sigh and gently grasped Feliks' shoulder. "Family is one of the most important things in the world to us Serbians, and I know I keep going on about it-"

Feliks patted Mateja's hand. "No need to say anything, my Kapetan."

"Well, at the very least join us for the first dinner once they've found a new home. You might be getting sick of hearing me thank you but you haven't heard it from them yet."

"I suppose I could find space in my ever-busy schedule." The pair exchanged a smirk as Feliks gave Mateja a wink. "Now, speaking of homes, I did say that we probably had something nice in the family portfolio. There are four properties in Tbilisi that I think might appeal to your family. They're not massive, but they've each got a good amount of space. One is an apartment, the other three are houses."

"I think that they'd prefer a house, to be honest. With a downstairs bedroom for Nana if at all possible, it would make life a bit easier for her."

"In that case, they have three houses to start their search with. If they aren't quite what your family's looking for then that's no problem, we can expand the search to properties that we can buy for them. I reckon that Tbilisi would be the best place to live, it's cosmopolitan enough that they won't feel too out-of-place and I'm here quite a lot, so you'll be here quite a lot."

"Sounds good. I'll see them tomorrow evening and talk to them about it, try to sort out a day to start. Now then..." Mateja took another drink of water and got to his feet, at which point Feliks took the hint.

"Hmm, yes, I did rather interrupt your workout, didn't I? Shall I leave you to beat the crap out of that bag?"

"You can stay and watch if you've got nothing else to do."

Feliks sat back against the wall and took a draw on his cigarillo. "What the hell, why not? At least this way I can say that I've spent more than ten minutes in this room, and I'll get to see what the Presidential Guard will be getting themselves into."

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Thu Sep 09, 2021 2:37 pm

25 August 2021, 14:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

The first floor of the Presidential residence was the 'working floor', home to the offices of the President and Vice-President as well as the meeting room for the Cabinet of Ministers. This did of course mean that there was a sense of reinforcing Presidential authority as the government ministers had to come to the President's home to report in and receive their instructions every week. The Cabinet of Ministers consisted of thirteen individuals, each of which helmed one of the thirteen central government ministries of the Marimaian Federation: Defence; Economy; Education and Science; Culture and Sport; Internal Affairs; Security; Energy and Environment; Finance; Foreign Affairs; Health; Justice; Labour and Social Affairs; and Transport, Communication, and Infrastructure. The thirteen government ministers had varying levels of competence and experience, but they all had one thing in common: they owed their positions to the patronage of Fyodor Baibakov and the Baibakov family. Two of them were members of the extended family as they were cousins of the Marimaian President, serving to further secure Baibakov dominion over the Federation. As it was a Wednesday afternoon, the thirteen ministers had arrived at Avlabari Palace and been escorted to the Cabinet meeting room by members of the palace staff, even though they all knew the route like the back of their hand. There was the usual camaraderie as the thirteen cronies stood by their usual comfortable chairs around the large rectangular oak table that dominated the meeting room, then they gave cheerful greetings to Fyodor and Zahra as they finally joined them; once the President and Vice-President had taken their seats at the head of the table and the immediate right of the head respectively, the rest of the ministers quickly followed.

"Okay then, we have a few bits of business to discuss." Fyodor Baibakov cast his eyes around the room with a stern gaze, as the first item on the agenda was rather important. "First bit of business, concerns regarding the current state of Eastern Europe. It's looking like a dead cert that the Grand Duchy of Dacia is going to vote to join the Apilonian Commonwealth. That's entirely up to them, but it raises potential issues for us. We're facing the possibility of being shut out of doing business with almost the entirety of the Balkans, thanks to that 'Combatting International Corruption Act'. The Commonwealth has a standardisation of legal arrangements between its members, so they all sign up to it."

Nikolai Vasilyev now spoke up. The thin and balding sixty-one-year-old had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs since Fyodor's accession to the Presidency and was a cousin by marriage of the Baibakovs, being married to Fyodor's cousin Inessa. "On the plus side, Boss, this isn't the beginning of some global dogpile on us. There are still plenty of nations that are more than happy, or at the very least not massively unhappy, to do business with us. What we might want to keep an eye on is the potential for Commonwealth expansion in our general vicinity."

Fyodor tapped his index finger on the table as he continued. "We've always done what we can to remain out of the orbit of the great powers and keep on the good side of as many states as possible, but it might be time to alter our thinking on that matter. If the Apilonian Commonwealth tries to expand ever further in this region then it wouldn't hurt to have some insurance, just in case. Nikolai, I want you to arrange a meeting with the Emirati ambassador. We've got a decent relationship with the United Arab Emirates due to us both being oil and gas producers, and we did take ex-Sultan Ibrahim and the remaining Al Saids off their hands for them following their internal reorganisation. I want the meeting to be a quiet one, though. Just a regular diplomatic chat."

"About hypothetical situations."

Fyodor chuckled. "Something like that. There's no harm and no news in discussing hypothetical situations. It also couldn't hurt to consider engaging in some caviar diplomacy with certain African nations." 'Caviar diplomacy' was the term used to describe the primary lobbying strategy of the Marimaian Federation. Essentially it consisted of inviting foreign dignitaries to visit the Federation and then, after showing them as good a time as possible, presenting them with expensive gifts, all the while claiming that such treatment was simply 'a tribute to regional tradition'. The strategy had gained its name from the fact that caviar was the gift most often given, usually between 1lb and 4lbs of the delicacy depending on the status of the guest and the extent of the hoped-for reciprocal generosity. While they were certainly not the only nation in the world that produced caviar, the Federation did enjoy the distinction of being situated at the heart of the traditional home region of the prestigious and expensive food item; indeed, the aquaculture sector of the Federation had always been one of the more profitable areas of the national economy.

"No problem, Boss. I dare say that there are probably matters that we could genuinely discuss with them aside from hypotheticals anyway. Hmm...do you think that we could potentially cajole Feliks into helping with this? If we have Presidents and the like coming over then it might look like we're deliberately courting them, but the son of the Federation's President hosting an energy minister or even the son of a different President might not seem so noteworthy to outside observers."

The idea elicited a laugh from Zahra, who covered her mouth briefly before responding properly. "We can try, but if Feliks says 'no' the first time then there's very little chance of it becoming a 'yes' later on. Unless there's something in it for him, he'll likely want to continue with his own affairs."

Fyodor gestured to his wife and nodded. "Our beautiful Vice-President is correct. We'll do what we can, but don't hold out too much hope. I dare say that that boy can be even more stubborn than his grandfather was, he'll make one hell of a President one day. While we're on the topic of foreign relations, how are talks going between us and the Tibetans regarding easier access to Tibet for our Kalmyk citizens?"

"We're close to reaching a special visa agreement with Lhasa, it looks like we'll just have to sweeten the deal with a couple of little incentives. It's good to encounter a government that just gets on with things, y'know?" Nikolai smirked as an idea came to him. "Could be another way of making an inroad, Boss." In a prime example of the diversity within the Marimaian Federation, the Kuban-Volga Republic contained the homeland of the Kalmyk people, a traditionally Buddhist people who primarily followed the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Federation's freedom of religion meant that there were several large Gelug school temples and monasteries in the north of the nation, with several smaller temples situated in the Federation's major cities. Given Tibet's developing presence on the world stage since becoming an observer member of the Shenzhen Pact, the Federation had taken the opportunity to attempt to establish closer ties with the mountainous Asian nation in the interest of gaining better access for Buddhist Kalmyks to visit the birthplace of their faith.

"Hmm, that's a very good idea. Don't try to push anything for the moment though, let's just get the visa agreement sorted out. Okay, let's move on to economic stuff..."

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Tue Sep 14, 2021 12:21 pm

29 August 2021, 16:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

"My boy, your mother and I have something that we need to discuss with you. Drink?"

Feliks nodded as he sat down on the couch next to his mother, his curiosity clear upon his face as he did so. His parents had asked to speak with him in the lounge of Avlabari Palace but had thus far not given any hint of what they wished to talk to him about. He looked to Zahra who smiled at him and patted his arm, while Fyodor busied himself with the refrigerated section of the ornate drinks cabinet nearby. The Marimaian President soon returned to his wife and son with three decorated glasses of excellent quality, each containing a combination of chilled cola and vodka. After setting two of the glasses down on the coffee table, Fyodor settled back into his usual armchair and took a drink from his own glass before starting.

"The Apilonian Commonwealth's activities in Eastern Europe and, if we're honest, their potential for future activities in this region of the world, present us with a situation that needs to be addressed. We need to make sure that we've got friends in the right places, just in case we end up with our economic opportunities being squeezed further and further. The closer they get to our borders, the further afield we should be looking."

Feliks 'hmmed' in response. "You're talking about the Shenzhen Pact, of course."

Fyodor nodded with a broad grin. "That's my boy." While the official name of the organisation under discussion was the 'Afro-Asian Unity and Cooperation Organisation', it was more popularly known as the 'Shenzhen Pact' because the founding treaty had been signed in the city of Shenzhen in November 2019. Currently numbering thirteen 'full' members and six 'observer' members, the Shenzhen Pact was undeniably one of the most influential entities in existence. The most significant full member of the Pact was the Nanfang Republic, an East Asian economic titan with a population of just over one billion people. Nanfaren political and economic influence had led to several other 'great powers' of the world becoming observer members of the Shenzhen Pact to enjoy free trade status and other forms of cooperation; smaller nations that had acquired observer status either sought full membership or viewed observer status as a way of ingratiating themselves with the Nanfang Republic while maintaining some degree of distance. The other twelve full members of the Pact were pretty much satellites in the orbit of the Republic, enjoying economic benefits and open support for their regimes in return for paying a degree of obeisance to Nanfaren strategic objectives; including the population of the Nanfang Republic, the full membership of the Pact encompassed roughly one-point-nine billion people. "We already do business with them anyway, but if the moral crusaders are going to back us into a corner then perhaps we should seek a closer alignment with Nanjing and their family of nations."

"I can get on board with that, provided that we're not just going to become a small fish in a big pond." Feliks leaned forward and picked up his glass. "We're not some tinpot little African country after all."

Fyodor chuckled at Feliks' turn of phrase. "That is very true, my boy. No, I don't think that we would become small fish in the Shenzhen pond. We've got oil and gas, after all. According to current figures, we'd have the third-largest oil reserves in the Pact, behind the UAE and Nigeria. When it comes to natural gas, we'd be around fourth. That's not counting the big observing powers, of course, I'm talking about the full members and those nations that are currently observers but looking at full membership. So we'd have influence, do not doubt that. Anyway, we're planning to approach the Pact in a more roundabout way. As a nation with oil and gas, we can have energy ministers from various nations visiting us without it automatically looking as though we're courting the organisation. Show them a good time, send them home with some caviar and some other nice gifts, the usual." He paused briefly to consume some more of his beverage. "That's something that we're hoping you'll be willing to help with."

"So that's why you're telling me all of this, you want me to help charm members of the Pact."

"Exactly. You always handle yourself well when you're dealing with Marimaian celebrities, and of course, it helps that you've inherited the charm and wit of both of your parents." Fyodor gave Zahra a wink before returning his attention to Feliks. "This isn't just a case of exploiting your schmoozing abilities though, my boy. The way that you handled the Filipović situation demonstrates that you've got a good head on your shoulders, and that will be extremely useful when it comes to dealing with the sort that we'll be dealing with."

Feliks screwed his face up as he made a show of considering what his father was suggesting, 'hmming' loudly while looking around the vicinity of the couch. He then took a drink from his glass before gesturing towards Fyodor. "I'll do it, Papa...but I have some conditions."

Fyodor raised an eyebrow in amusement. "What would these 'conditions' be, my boy?"

"First, I get to have Khoren and my Kapetan with me."

"Done."

"Second, I get full use of Skorpion Siniy so that I can charm foreigners in comfort."

Fyodor nodded approvingly. "Done." Skorpion Siniy, or 'Scorpion Blue', was the Baibakov family superyacht that also acted as the official Presidential yacht. At just over five-hundred-and-thirty-three feet long, Skorpion Siniy could easily be used as a genuine residence; she could comfortably accommodate thirty-six individuals thanks to her master suite (and owner's deck) and seventeen VIP staterooms (all with balconies). The superyacht also featured accommodations for up to seventy crew members. Transportation to and from the vessel was provided via two helipads and three launch boats, and the superyacht even featured a helicopter hangar so that she could technically accommodate three helicopters at one time. Skorpion Siniy's onboard amenities included: a fifty-two-foot swimming pool with an adjustable depth feature that permitted it to be converted into a dance floor; an outdoor bar; several hot tubs; a beauty salon and spa with sauna and plunge pool; a rarely-used exercise gym; and even a three-man leisure submarine that could descend to a depth of one hundred and sixty feet. The superyacht was also equipped to provide a level of security, with a missile detection and defence system. All in all, a perfect venue for wowing foreign dignitaries by allowing their host to isolate them. "Anything else?"

"One more thing. I think that foreign dignitaries would be even more wowed if they were being hosted by a Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation." Feliks grinned mischievously as Fyodor and Zahra exchanged an expression of surprise. "I'm not asking Mama to step down as Vice-President. There have been nations that have had more than one Vice-President so it's not completely unheard of. Papa, you want me to be President one day and I want to be President one day. If I've got experience as a Vice-President then it'll be even more difficult for people to argue with it, right? I meet all of the eligibility requirements, after all."

Fyodor took a large gulp of his drink and began to laugh heartily. "Vice-President Feliks Baibakov of the Marimaian Federation does have a very nice ring to it! Ah my boy, you truly are a credit to the family. The constitution does allow me to appoint more than one Vice-President, and it would certainly clear the way for you to become President in due time. Now, are you sure that you're willing to attend Cabinet meetings every week?"

"Give me a chair at the opposite end of the Cabinet table from you and we'll see if any of the ministers try to switch seats to get closer to me. I'm sure, Papa. An hour or so every Wednesday isn't going to make a massive hole in my weekly plans. Besides, this means that anything I do or any orders I give will be nice and official."

"All right then! I'll officially appoint you to the position on Wednesday morning, then you can join your first Cabinet meeting that afternoon."

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:49 pm

1 September 2021, 10:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

Forming a break between the two halves of the fourth floor of the Presidential residence, the impressive glass dome of Avlabari Palace housed a space known rather simply as 'The Hall with the Dome' which was used for the most important state events and occasions. Naturally, this meant that it was to be the site for Feliks Baibakov's appointment as a Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation. The walls of the Hall were decorated with murals that depicted regional legends and famous rulers throughout history, while the glass dome allowed sunlight to stream down into the large room below, bathing the occupants in natural illumination. This morning's event was being covered by the Federation's media to the extent that every state-owned (and Baibakov-owned, and Baibakov crony-owned) television and radio station was broadcasting the appointment live, while press journalists and photographers were also present to document the event for the following day's printed media; the media representatives in attendance had all been provided with specific placements within the Hall to enable them to capture the event without any other media personnel blocking their view. Members of the Presidential Guard flanked every door of the Hall while members of the Marimaian government sat in chairs that lined the walls, and they all snapped to attention in unison as President Fyodor Baibakov entered along with Vice-President Zahra Baibakova and, of course, their son Feliks. Fyodor wore a white suit jacket and white shirt with black trousers and a black bow tie, while Zahra wore a smart black pantsuit, and the pair beamed with pride as they approached the ornate table that had been placed before the media; Feliks, meanwhile, wore an entirely white suit with the high collar of his black shirt barely visible. Fyodor took the middle of the three chairs positioned at the table, a chair that was noticeably larger than its siblings and appeared to be more of a throne than an armchair as it featured red upholstery and a gilt frame. Zahra sat to his right while Feliks sat to his left, and the three waited a few moments while the loyal media took pictures. Fyodor then rose and addressed the gathered throng.

"Esteemed guests and representatives of the media, today is a day of great pride for myself and my wife. Today is the day that our son Feliks takes his first official step into the political realm of the Marimaian Federation. Feliks has played an important role in Marimaian society since his graduation from the Caucasus School of Governance with an 'Excellent' in Public Administration and International Relations just over four years ago, as he has always shown a great interest in the welfare of others. He has supported efforts to improve the standard of living for our poorest citizens, best exemplified by his creation of the charity known as 'Progress'. Through his efforts, he has helped to lift our poorest citizens out of poverty, and he has worked with the First Ministers of the Federation's constituent republics to foster inclusion and celebrate the diversity of our great citizenry. The nation appreciates his efforts and his accomplishments, and that is why we are here this morning. By my order today, Feliks Baibakov is appointed to the position of Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation."

Fyodor paused and nodded appreciatively as the assembled observers all applauded on cue, with the applause lasting for just about fifteen seconds. Not that anyone had given instructions to them regarding the length of any such applause, of course.

"In addition, Feliks is hereby appointed as a Deputy Chairperson of the United Marimaia Party. United Marimaia has been a leading force in the Federation's political sphere since its founding nearly thirty years ago, and it is currently the undisputed party of government in our nation; United Marimaia holds a clear majority in the Federal Assembly and counts every First Minister of the constituent republics as a member. United Marimaia is also our nation's largest political party in terms of popular membership, with over nine-hundred-and-sixty thousand card-carrying members within the Marimaian Federation. As you all know, United Marimaia is dedicated to ensuring a lawful and stable Federation where our citizens can live in peace, and we shall always strive to ensure that our citizens are safe and secure. Feliks shares that dedication, and I believe that he will bring a fresh new perspective on how to continue ensuring the Federation's prosperity and stability."

Another fifteen-second round of applause followed.

"Feliks is a well-educated, principled, and very kind person. It is therefore unsurprising that the people of the Marimaian Federation regard him with such great affection and love. He is a shining example of the future of the Marimaian Federation, and this is why I have decided to elevate him to these two positions today. A new period begins in Feliks' life today, and I am confident that he will continue to make a valuable contribution to the development of our country. I know that you will all join me in congratulating him on these appointments and wish him every success."

Feliks then rose to his feet as Fyodor and Zahra led the occupants of the Hall in a standing ovation that lasted just about twenty seconds, allowing the young Baibakov to flash a beaming grin and wave to the assembled cronies and sycophants who were all undoubtedly already planning to begin ingratiating themselves with him even more than usual. As the ovation petered out, Feliks was left as the only one standing as he addressed the Hall.

"Mister President, Madam Vice-President, assembled friends, and my fellow Marimaians. I would like to thank our President for showing such confidence in my abilities, as these two positions that I have received are of incredible importance within our nation. Rest assured that I shall carry out my duties in both positions with the utmost professionalism and competence. I would also like to thank our President for his kind words about my accomplishments and my character, as I would not be the man that I am today without the guidance provided by my father and my mother.

"I am proud to have made such modest contributions to Marimaian society and I hope that my new positions will allow me to make even more substantial contributions to our nation. As Vice-President, I shall work with other members of the Federation's central government and the administrations of the constituent republics to ensure continued delivery of the tenets of United Marimaia's ideology. Not just lawfulness and stability, but also social justice, civil solidarity, and a social-oriented economy. These ideals are the basis of United Marimaia's ideology and therefore the basis of the Marimaian government's ideology. As Vice-President, I shall also help to reach out to the other political parties in our nation, in an attempt to build a stronger consensus on the future of our nation. The Marimaian Federation is at its best when we all stand united."

That line earned him a fifteen-second ovation, giving him time to take a sip of water from a filled glass on the table in front of him.

"Of course, my new roles as Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation and Deputy Chairman of the United Marimaia Party will not interfere with my charitable efforts. If anything, they will enhance those efforts. I intend to incorporate Progress into the administrative apparatus of the Marimaian government, thus making it easier for Progress to work with the State Oil Fund of the Marimaian Federation. This will help to ensure that our nation's most profitable resource provides benefits to our nation's people."

Feliks waited for the second ovation to finish before continuing.

"As Vice-President, I shall also strive to help in strengthening the Marimaian Federation's influence on the international stage. The past few years have seen the rise of a genuine new reality in global politics, with the establishment of the Shenzhen Pact in November 2019 and then the Apilonian Commonwealth late last year. The rise of these international organisations suggests that there is an appetite among the nations of the world for constructive engagement and cooperation, and that is an environment within which the Marimaian Federation can establish an influential role. We may not be counted among the 'great' powers, but we are certainly a 'middle power'. Middle powers can often be overlooked, looked down upon, or regarded as potential future assets by the great powers. If the great powers believe that they can look down on the Marimaian Federation, overlook us, or simply regard us as a future asset, then they may well find themselves surprised and embarrassed in the future. Even the smallest nation can affect the world."

Fyodor and Zahra exchanged a smile as the third ovation of Feliks' speech quietened down, and their son brought his speech to a close.

"Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to our President for demonstrating such confidence in me. I shall do my utmost to ensure that I do not let him down, nor shall I let down our great nation. Thank you."

The gathered attendees provided a thirty-second standing ovation as Feliks finished, and the new Vice-President exchanged a hug with each of his parents before the three Baibakovs posed for official photographs. Once the ceremony and accompanying publicity activities were completed, the President and his Vice-Presidents bade the attendees goodbye before exiting the Hall.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

1 September 2021, 14:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

The Cabinet of Ministers greeted Fyodor and Zahra with their usual cheerfulness as the pair entered the Cabinet meeting room for the weekly gathering, then applauded loudly as Feliks strode in, positively beaming with glee as he attended his first-ever Cabinet meeting. The applause was accompanied by an exchange of intrigued expressions among the ministers as Khoren followed close behind his employer. Unsurprisingly, Feliks had decided against following the conventional dress code for Cabinet meetings. It was expected that Fyodor and all male Cabinet members would wear dark blue business suits, with two exceptions: Minister of Defence Colonel General Andrey Dvornikov and Minister of Security Colonel General Grigor Petrosyan, as they were permitted to wear their service uniforms. Meanwhile, Zahra and all female Cabinet ministers were expected to wear either dark blue pantsuits or dress suits...although admittedly, the female presence in Cabinet meetings only consisted of Zahra Baibakova and Minister of Health Natia Gelashvili. Feliks had decided to appear in black trousers and a matching long-sleeve crewneck, complete with a white crewneck shirt underneath that barely peeked out at the neckline and cuffs of the black crewneck top. The Cabinet ministers observed as Fyodor and Zahra took their usual seats while Feliks proceeded to the opposite end of the Cabinet table from his father, where a new seat awaited him; naturally, Feliks waited for Khoren to pull out his chair before sitting. Once all three Baibakovs were seated, the ministers took their seats and Fyodor began the meeting.

"First things first, let us welcome our new Vice-President to his first Cabinet meeting! I have no objections to Khoren's presence as he has constantly proven himself to be most trustworthy. My boy, is Kapetan Čubrilović not joining you for this occasion?"

Feliks shook his head. "I gave him the afternoon off, he's looking at potential homes with his family. Besides, I don't think he's all that bothered with decision making, more in implementing decisions that have been made. Oh, did everyone like my speech earlier?"

There were positive murmurs and nods from the Cabinet ministers before Colonel General Dvornikov spoke up. "Safe to say that we all loved it, Little Boss. Especially that bit about how the great powers shouldn't underestimate us."

Feliks grinned at the fifty-three-year-old Russian before looking up the table to his father. "So, what's on the agenda?"

Fyodor chuckled to himself before speaking. "Nikolai, how did things go with the Emirati ambassador?"

Nikolai Vasilyev began to speak, while Feliks received a cigarillo from Khoren and began to smoke. "Sheikh Falah Al Nahyan found the discussions about hypothetical situations to be rather interesting, Boss. The ruling families of the UAE would be supportive of any hypothetical situation where we aligned ourselves more closely with a certain bloc. Although of course, by dint of the CICA we're already aligned more closely to the Pact than the Commonwealth because the Pact members have no problem doing business with us."

"Good to know. The way I see it, the Shenzhen Pact has had a very slow year compared to 2020. Last year they welcomed three new observer members into the organisation: Cameroon, Portugal, and Tibet. So far this year, all they've successfully achieved is the prevention of a coup in Guinea-Bissau. They're now in peacekeeping mode in Guinea-Bissau and I suspect that President Kibiya will eventually apply for observer membership as part of the deal to keep him in power, but he hasn't done so yet. Considering the success of the Apilonian Commonwealth in Eastern Europe as of late, the Pact may well jump at the opportunity to one-up them by welcoming us into their organisation. After all, we've got more oil and gas than the Commonwealth territories in Eastern Europe and we won't need massive investment to bring us up to par with the rest of the Pact since we're already at a higher standard of living than most of the membership."

"Are we saying that rather than making an application to join the Shenzhen Pact, we're going to make ourselves so irresistible that they'll want to invite us?" Feliks took a draw on his cigarillo and smirked. "So when I'm schmoozing energy ministers and the like, it's not actually in an attempt to make an application easier. It's to make them see us as a worthy potential member of the club, one that's worth inviting."

Fyodor grinned and winked at his son. "Exactly right, my boy. We've delivered a hint of interest to the Emirati ambassador but nothing concrete. From this point forward, the only matter that we will discuss with representatives of Pact members is business between us and their particular individual nation. We shall carry on seeking out our opportunities on the international stage and, who knows, we might find something that would make us even more attractive to Nanjing."

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Chrinthanium
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Postby Chrinthanium » Sun Sep 19, 2021 1:12 pm

Office of the Prime Minister
Tokyo, Japan
1 September 2021, 1745hrs [UTC +9]

Ichiro Yokohama sat on his antique settee sipping a cup of tea, the cup displaying a blue floral pattern on a white background. He placed the cup on a saucer with a matching pattern and then reached down to retrieve a small biscuit (or cookie as some are inclined to refer to them) and took a polite bite being careful to not let the crumbs puff about the front of his light blue silk tie and white silk dress shirt. As he noshed on the biscuit, an aide entered the room and gave a polite bow. The young aide wore a simple charcoal suit with a red tie and matching pocket square. He waited until Prime Minister Yokohama nodded for him to approach. The young man handed him a simple manila file folder with a singular piece of paper contained within. Ichiro dismissed his young aide with a wave of his hand and reached into his pocket to pull out a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles. He placed them on his face and opened the folder. He retrieved the piece of paper and placed the folder on the seat beside him. He reached for his cup of tea and took another sip as he glanced over the paper.

In that moment, he coughed slightly almost as if he was choking as he attempted to contain his response to the information. The Prime Minister finished the sip of tea in his mouth and just shook his head. "Nepotism. Blatant nepotism," he said as he tossed the paper onto the table, which landed half on and half off the light wood table. "It is expected considering how President Yang works her political system."

Ichiro them took another sip from his tea as he returned to peering at the television on the wall as he watched the local weather report.
Part of the Radical Leftist LGBTQIA+ Agenda fighting for Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.

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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Fri Sep 24, 2021 4:42 pm

6 September 2021, 19:00hrs [UTC+4]
Skorpion Siniy, off the coast of Sochi
Kuban-Volga Republic, Marimaian Federation

Located roughly one hundred and fifty-five miles south of Gelendzhik and Idokopas Palace, Sochi was the largest resort city in the Marimaian Federation. The city was well-known as a resort that operated all year round due to its location on the so-called 'Caucasian Riviera', meaning that it experienced hot and humid summers as well as cool to mild winters. Peak tourist season tended to be between mid-May and mid-October, but there was still plenty to do for anyone who visited outside of that period. Within the city's territory were over six hundred hotels, nearly two hundred beaches, and a large ski resort, allowing Sochi to generate tourist revenue throughout all twelve months of the year. Sochi also boasted a state-of-the-art international airport, which had acted as a gateway for the arrival of Feliks Baibakov's first foreign visitor since becoming Vice-President: Leo Nmbega, the thirty-four-year-old youngest brother of President Gabriel Nmbega of Cameroon and that nation's Minister for Energy and Water Resources. Standing six feet tall with a muscular build, close-cropped black hair and facial hair styled as a 'moustache and chin-strap', Leo was perhaps best known for his playboy lifestyle. He preferred to conduct business during parties at his luxurious penthouse in Douala, Cameroon's economic capital, and he had a definite taste for the finer things in life. This alone made Leo the ideal first target for the Baibakov charm offensive, but other factors made him the most attractive first choice. The Republic of Cameroon was a producer of oil and gas, and it was also still an observer member of the Shenzhen Pact as they had not yet progressed to full membership.

As he was ferried from Sochi International Airport by a four-seat civilian helicopter, Leo gazed out of the window at the Black Sea and let out a low whistle as the Baibakov family superyacht came into view. Skorpion Siniy had been anchored five miles out from Sochi's coastline and was rather unmissable due to the bright lights of the decks, and the multi-coloured underwater lighting created what almost looked like a rainbow bed beneath the massive vessel. The helicopter gently touched down on the helipad at the bow of the vessel and Leo had the door opened for him by a besuited security guard wearing shades; once Leo had exited the helicopter, his luggage was handed out to the guard while the 'reception committee' approached. The Cameroonian minister smiled appreciatively as a beautiful brunette woman in her twenties sauntered towards him, dressed only in a two-piece black bikini and holding a glass of Abrau-Dyurso 'shampanskoye'; from the Baibakov-owned and highly rated Abrau-Dyurso vineyards near Novorossiysk, shampanskoye was the name given to Marimaian-produced champagne.

"Good evening, Mister Nmbega. My name is Nina." She handed the shampanskoye to Leo before giving him a flirtatious smile. "Vice-President Feliks wanted me to greet you on his behalf. If you'll follow me, I'll show you to your suite so that you can change into something more comfortable."

Leo couldn't do anything to hide his grin at the welcome he was receiving, and he took a sip of the shampanskoye. "I must admit, Vice-President Feliks certainly knows how to put on a welcome." Leo then gestured to the black tailored suit that he was wearing. "So is this not correct attire for a meeting with a Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation?"

The question earned a playful giggle from Nina. "Not when you're meeting Feliks on board Skorpion Siniy, Mister Nmbega."

"Call me Leo."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

After being escorted to his opulent guest suite that featured a king-size bed and a six-foot home cinema screen among its many amenities, Leo quickly changed into the clothing suggested by Nina. As the evening temperature was still fairly warm outside and the superyacht's interior temperature was set to a comfortable level, he would have undoubtedly been rather warm in a suit; that combined with the informality that was evidently on display, Leo emerged from his cabin in a pair of yellow swimming shorts and a white beach shirt. Having waited patiently outside his cabin while he changed, Nina looked Leo up and down before nodding approvingly.

"Much more like it, Leo", she purred, bringing another grin to his face as she gestured for him to follow her. After being led through the palatially decorated decks of Skorpion Siniy, Leo finally found himself in the presence of his host. Feliks was unsurprisingly making use of the superyacht's fifty-two-foot swimming pool, currently resting his elbows on the side of the pool while chatting with Mateja Čubrilović, who was occupying a comfortable low-backed chair at one of the seven tables that were positioned around the poolside area; the windows of the pool area could be retracted to open it to the outside air, as had been done on this particular evening. For his part, Khoren stood a few steps away with a fresh towel and bathrobe folded over one arm. Despite chatting with Feliks, Mateja still noticed the arrival of Leo and Nina, and he gestured with a nod in their direction. Feliks turned in the direction of the nod and his Cheshire Cat grin quickly spread as his face lit up.

"Leo! I can call you Leo, can't I? If you let me call you Leo, then you can call me Feliks. It's so much easier than having to say 'Mister Vice-President' all the time."

Leo shrugged and smirked in amusement at the younger man's exuberance. "Sure thing. It's an honour to meet-"

Feliks held up a hand. "Sorry to interrupt you Leo, but we need to do this right."

He paddled to the centre of the pool where he began treading water, giving Mateja a nod as he did so. The Serbian chuckled to himself as he got up and walked to the controls on the nearby wall and pressed a button that caused the floor of the pool to begin to rise, a feature that allowed for the depth of the pool to be altered or even for the pool to become a dance floor. As the colourfully mosaiced pool floor slowly rose to meet him, Feliks placed his feet firmly and held his arms out, beaming with glee as the mechanism caused him to rise out of the water in the manner of some mythical ocean deity...or at least, that's how Feliks imagined it. The floor clicked into position once it became flush with the poolside area and Feliks stepped forward, his soaking wet orange swimming shorts clinging to him.

"Now, where were we? Oh yes...you're honoured to meet me, I'm honoured to meet you, our two governments etc, etc. Now that the official stuff is out of the way, let's talk like the friends that we're about to become." Leo observed as Khoren first handed Feliks the towel to dry himself with, then provided the bathrobe for his employer to don. Feliks flicked back his still-damp hair and accepted the offered cigarillo from his giant manservant, then grinned as he began pointing at the others in the area. "This is Khoren, my manservant, chauffeur, and bodyguard. That's Kapetan Mateja Čubrilović, former Serbian anti-terrorist guy and genuine badass. You've already met Nina, of course."

Leo offered a nod of acknowledgement to Khoren and Mateja before turning back to Feliks. "I gotta admit, this is my kind of visit."

"While I'm thinking about it, I know that you like a good smoke yourself so I got you something extra for while we're chatting." Feliks snapped his fingers and Khoren produced a cigar from the breast pocket of his shirt. "I read somewhere that you like Zambianas."

Leo accepted the offered Zambiana brand cigar and observed as Khoren lit it with his usual silver lighter, then took a draw and exhaled. "Lots of people overlook Zambia's tobacco industry, but I reckon they make some of the best cigars on the planet."

Feliks nodded approvingly as Leo was appearing to relax. "Uh-huh. Nina honey, could you find Ruslan for me and ask him to join us please?"

Nina sauntered over to Feliks and planted a soft peck on his cheek before leaving the four men alone, at which point Leo grinned at his host. "You and her? Damn, Feliks."

"Oh no no, she's not my type and I'm not hers. She's just very affectionate. Actually, between you and me, I hear that she's into energy ministers from Cameroon." Feliks gave Leo a conspiratorial wink, earning a chuckle from the Cameroonian as he continued. "What happens on Skorpion Siniy, stays on Skorpion Siniy. Unless it's business, of course." He gestured for Leo to take a seat at the nearest table and waited for him to sit before taking his own seat. "Ruslan won't be too long. I thought it might be a good idea to have our Energy and Environment Minister here as well tonight, that way I'm not arranging or agreeing to anything that I shouldn't. Help yourself to caviar and shampanskoye by the way, negotiations go great with something to nibble on."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Feliks and Leo were shortly joined by Ruslan Hasanov, the Marimaian Federation's Minister for Energy and Environment. The dark-haired fifty-nine-year-old had a high receding hairline and a bushy moustache and was also dressed informally, wearing a pair of white three-quarters shorts and a matching shirt. He gave a sleazy grin as he approached them, immediately adopting a cronyish demeanour towards Feliks.

"Sorry I'm late, Little Boss. I was watching that new movie, 'Artkhaus'. Wasn't expecting it to turn as blue as it did, got really interesting, you know?" He then turned to Leo and shook hands before joining them at the table. "Haven't missed anything, have I?"

Feliks smirked and shook his head. "No, you're good. So, Leo...we understand that Cameroon is looking for investors to help perk up your oil and gas industry, and I'm guessing that you're probably looking at Nanpec as the primary choice."

Leo nodded at the mention of the Nanfang Republic's largest oil company. "Spot on, Feliks. We always used to deal mainly with Petronas from Singapura Raya and what is now the National Oil and Gas Corporation of the UAE, but Nanpec is the big fish in the Pact's oil and gas industry. Gabriel is all for investment in our energy industry but I don't think he'd mind if we avoided being completely dependent on Nanfaren money. Don't get me wrong, the Pact is going great for us and we're eyeing full membership, but I wouldn't mind a bit of variety in my meetings."

"Well, what if you got investment from us instead? Or maybe even from us as well as from Nanpec?" Ruslan leaned forward to scoop some caviar onto a toast point and took a bite. "We're not the big monolith, we're a lot more like Cameroon than the Nanfang Republic ever will be. Besides, we know oil and gas better than most. One of the birthplaces of the oil industry is right here in the Federation."

Feliks poured himself a glass of shampanskoye and then used it to gesture towards Leo. "The Nanfang Republic is one of the great powers, the guys from Nanpec probably look at the Companhia Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (the Cameroonian state-owned oil and gas company) and just see numbers. We see a fellow member of our oil and gas family. Ruslan is definitely on to something, why not get your desired investment from multiple investors? By all means, get some investment from Nanpec. It'll make Nanjing happy, I'm sure. While you're at it though, get the rest from us. We're much more your speed, Leo. When you meet with Nanpec then I imagine that it's in a boardroom with lots of suits and presentations, and that's just no fun."

"Man, you're so right. They ask for so much information ahead of meetings, and then they go over the information during the meetings. I know that they're doing their job but I've almost fallen asleep in meetings with them, more than a few times."

"Yeah, I don't blame you. We won't subject you to anything like that though, Leo." Feliks took a drink and grinned. "This evening, we relax and have fun. Tonight, I suspect that you'll be getting to know Nina a lot better. Ruslan will be taking you to see the oil and gas facilities in Baku tomorrow, I believe?"

Ruslan chimed in, having finished his toast and caviar. "Yeah, tomorrow is tour day, Little Boss. It's only about a two-hour flight from Sochi to Baku, if we leave after breakfast then we can be back for dinner."

"Nice." Leo sat back, feeling completely at ease with Feliks and Ruslan. The young Vice-President was indeed correct to state that they were much more his speed than the professional businesspeople of Nanpec, as Feliks seemed to have a taste for a similar lifestyle to Leo. Although he definitely had more of a flair for showmanship. Yeah, I can do business with these guys, he thought as he downed some more shampanskoye.

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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:15 am

7 September 2021, 10:45hrs [UTC+4]
Skorpion Siniy, off the coast of Sochi
Kuban-Volga Republic, Marimaian Federation

"Okay, I'll let him know. Yeah, okay. Love you, Mama. Bye."

Feliks let out a yawn and raised his sunglasses as he looked over at Mateja, who was just finishing a phone call. The pair were on the sundeck of Skorpion Siniy, relaxing now that Leo Nmbega and Ruslan Hasanov were well on their way to Baku. Feliks was lazily stretched out on a sun lounger in a pair of black swimming shorts while Mateja sat in a chair nearby, wearing red shorts and an open white beach shirt; as always, Khoren stood impassively nearby, looking distinctly unrelaxed despite being dressed in summer clothing. "Anything interesting?"

"They've decided on the bungalow in Marjanishvili. They all love the neighbourhood, and the bungalow means very few stairs for any of them to climb. Plus there's the walled garden, Nana really liked that."

Feliks gave a smile at the news that Mateja's family had decided upon a home in Tbilisi, particularly as it was a property owned by the Baibakovs. "Excellent news! Are they happy with the furnishings as they are, or do they want to get something different? My lari, remember."

"Nah, they're fine with what's there already. Now keep in mind that you did say that you'd come to the first dinner at their new home."

"I always keep my promises, my Kapetan." The sound of a door sliding open caused them both to divert their attention, and Feliks grinned as Nina stepped out onto the sundeck. In distinct contrast to her attire the previous evening, she was dressed in a black turtleneck and a pair of black combat trousers. "Lieutenant Volkov! I do hope that last night wasn't too much of a chore for you."

The young woman shrugged and folded her arms. "It was one of the easiest assignments I've ever had, Your Excellency. Unfortunately, he didn't reveal very much during the pillow talk, so I suspect that he was being open and genuine during his discussions with you and Minister Hasanov."

"Uh-huh, good to know." Feliks then regarded her with a discerning eye and a raised eyebrow. "Now then, inquiring minds want to know...what's Leo like in bed?"

Nina laughed and shook her head at the mischievous grin that Feliks gave her following the question. "I've had far worse, let's leave it at that. Will you need me around for anything else, Your Excellency?"

"No no, Leo's going to be in Baku for a while with Ruslan so take a few hours for yourself. Ruslan will be calling me to say when they're heading back, so we'll call you when we need you back here. I'll be singing your praises to Colonel General Petrosyan at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow, you've been outstanding."

"Thank you, Your Excellency. I've got some friends in Sochi that I haven't seen for a while so I'll visit them while I'm in the area. Have a good morning and afternoon." Nina gave a sharp salute towards Feliks and offered a nod to Mateja before venturing back inside to make her way to the helipad. Mateja chuckled as he turned back to Feliks.

"Having an FSS operative on hand to apply some additional charm, that was cunning. She's a good actress."

Feliks nodded and rested his head back. "Colonel General Petrosyan recommended her, according to him she's one of the best in the FSS. Based on how last night went, I'd say that her reputation is well earned."

"Having a backup honey trap is going to be a feature of all of your meetings on this yacht, aren't they?" The grin that Mateja received in response was all the answer that he needed. "I figured as much. Did you really have to ask her about the sex though, Feliks?"

Feliks laughed impishly at the question. "Was it a little inappropriate? My dear Kapetan, if I was always 'appropriate' then I wouldn't have hinted to you about employment during our first encounter. Then you wouldn't have come to see me the next day, and we wouldn't have had the whirlwind fun of executing Filipović, and we wouldn't have brought your family over to start a new life. So my inappropriateness could actually be argued to be a blessing."

"They sure didn't make anyone like you in Yugoslavia, Feliks."

"Damn right they didn't. Someone like me would've been bored out of their skull in a place like that!" The young Vice-President sat up and peered at Mateja over the rims of his sunglasses. "Hmm, so Leo's going to be entertained by Lieutenant Volkov again tonight. Would you like me to arrange someone for you as well?"

Mateja's eyes widened and he waved his hands in protest. "No, I'm fine, really. Don't worry about me." He then remembered Feliks' statement from the previous evening that Nina 'wasn't his type'. "Don't let that stop you from arranging someone for yourself, of course."

Feliks shook his head and waved his hand dismissively as he lay back down on the sun lounger. "No no, I'm fine too."
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Fri Oct 01, 2021 4:42 pm

15 September 2021, 14:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

The weekly meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers was even more jovial than usual, as evinced by the ovation that Feliks received as he strode into the Cabinet Room with a definite spring in his step. The reason for the collective good mood was the revelation that Feliks' lobbying of Leo Nmbega had paid off and the Cameroonian government had issued an official announcement regarding foreign investment in the Companhia Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (CNH). More specifically, they had announced that they had agreed, in principle, to investment and cooperation deals with the Nanfaren oil giant Nanpec and the Marimaian state oil and gas companies, SOCM and SGCM. The Marimaian government had proven that a 'middle power' could indeed have an effect in international affairs, having successfully horned in on what would have otherwise likely been a fait accompli for Nanpec. Once again Feliks had eschewed the dress code for Cabinet meetings, this time showing up in the metallic-appearing shiny silver-and-gold suit that he had worn during his first encounter with Veselin Filipović. Not that anyone was about to rebuke him for doing so, of course. Fyodor began the Cabinet meeting by addressing the Federation's latest success.

"First things first, let's congratulate my boy once again on his first official success as Vice-President! This deal with Cameroon is the first step in showing the Shenzhen Pact and the Nanfang Republic that we are an influential nation of interest, and it is all down to our younger Vice-President!"

Feliks grinned broadly at his father's praise. "Now now, Papa. I didn't do it all. Ruslan handled the technical stuff, and Lieutenant Nina Volkov did her duty by, well, doing Leo Nmbega." The comment drew laughter from the rest of the Cabinet, and Feliks leaned forward in his seat. "The rest of it, yeah okay. That was me. Although..." He held up his hand. "Although, it did help to have Khoren and my Kapetan on hand. It helps to know that you've got good back-up."

"Well said, my boy. Now then, you did such an outstanding job that there's something more important that I'd like you to take a look at. Nikolai has been looking for opportunities, and he thinks that he's found a potentially massive one. Nikolai, tell us all about it."

Nikolai Vasilyev gestured to the dossier on the table in front of him. "So you've all got the details in your dossiers but I'll go through it all to make everything clear."

Feliks reached for the dossier that he had been provided with and opened it, furrowing his brow and looking around the Cabinet table with a degree of disbelief. "Tonga? Since when has a small island kingdom in the Pacific been a 'massive opportunity'?"

"Well, Little Boss, it's less of an economic opportunity and more of a strategic one," Nikolai noted that Feliks' disbelief quickly turned to genuine interest. "The Kingdom of Tonga is indeed small, and it's not very populous, and it's not exactly overflowing with natural resources. Their economy is primarily based on agriculture and fishing. The main reason for our interest is in their location. Tonga is nestled between islands that are under the jurisdiction of the Empire of Layarteb and the Empire of Britannia, and the Kingdom of Apilonia has a severe interest in the region. Imagine how strategically valuable it would be to have a naval base, or an airbase, or both in Tongan territory if you don't already have a presence in the Pacific. You could easily spy on the Pacific operations of all three great powers, and it would give your navy greater range."

"Makes sense, but we don't have any need of a naval base in the Pacific. The Mediterranean, now that's the ideal spot for us to have a naval base."

Nikolai nodded. "That's quite correct, Little Boss. In all honesty, we aren't after a naval base or a position in the South Pacific. The Shenzhen Pact, on the other hand, look as if they're interested in that very thing. According to the FSS and the admittedly small South Pacific Office of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nanfang Republic has been talking to the Tongan government recently."

"If the Nanfang Republic are the ones talking with Tonga, then how do we turn that into an opportunity for us? This won't be as simple as lobbying Cameroon over an oil and gas deal."

"Previous history comes into play here. Tonga's government is primarily made up of aristocrats who obey the King, and the Tongan royal family are proud of the fact that their kingdom has never actually been colonised. They always managed to maintain their territorial integrity and autonomy through diplomacy. So Nanjing won't necessarily be able to show up and impress them with promises of investment and infrastructure, because the Tongans have dealt with colonising great powers and retained their sovereignty. Nanjing came to them, not the other way around. Plus, the regional political situation puts the ball firmly in Tonga's court. The Nanfang Republic can't intervene in any way without looking like imperialists or incurring the interest of the other powers in the region, so they'll have to play according to Tongan rules. Nanjing would never want to lose face by appearing to bully such a small nation."

"You think that our style of caviar diplomacy stands a better chance, don't you?"

Fyodor jumped into the conversation with enthusiasm. "Exactly, my boy! According to independent news reports and whatnot, King Fokisi Tupou VI and his family are a hell of a lot more 'Baibakov' than 'Nanfaren'. They're probably holding out to see just how badly Nanjing wants them and what they can get out of it. That means that there's a potential opening that a certain middle power could worm its way into."

"Huh, yeah I can see the potential. Do we even have an embassy or a consulate in Tonga, though?"

"Not as yet, no." Nikolai held his hands out and shrugged. "We've never needed one before, how were we to know that Tonga might one day become a nation of interest to us?"

"Hmm." Feliks tapped his finger on the dossier as he pondered the situation. "Papa, I have an idea. Well, the beginnings of an idea at any rate. Give me a couple of days to play with it though, I've got an important dinner this evening."

"Ah yes, of course. You're having dinner with Kapetan Čubrilović and his family at their new home. Give them our best, won't you?"

"Of course I will, but let's not get side-tracked by discussing my plans for the evening. Even though I'm sure that everyone finds my social life to be fascinating." Feliks turned his attention back to Nikolai. "Once I've germinated my idea, I'll run it by you as well, okay?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

15 September 2021, 19:30hrs [UTC+4]
Čubrilović Family Home
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

The Marjanishvili neighbourhood of Tbilisi featured more modern styles of architecture than most of the Marimaian capital, yet it still retained an element of 'homeliness'. Instead of supermarkets, the majority of Marjanishvili's food shops were individual grocers and small-to-medium markets, providing the opportunity to chat with stallholders and shopkeepers as you went about your purchasing. It was this fact, as well as the neighbourhood's relative distance from the bustling city centre of Tbilisi, that had helped to bring the Čubrilović family to the large bungalow that they had now finally moved into. The single-storey residence featured a lounge, kitchen, dining room, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, garage, and a conservatory; the conservatory looked out onto the property's walled rear garden, providing a quiet and peaceful space to relax. As it was a property owned by the Baibakov family through one of their companies, the bungalow was brimming with the latest appliances and possessed a state-of-the-art security system. As promised by Feliks, Mateja's family would not have to pay rent or any upkeep for the property as all costs would be covered by the Baibakov family. In addition to their free home, the Čubrilović family had now received their Marimaian citizenship papers, thus granting them the protection of the full extent of Marimaian law.

Mateja exited the limousine first, dressed in a black shirt with black trousers; Feliks then clambered out, appearing in a rather understated (for him) pinstripe suit vest with matching trousers and a white shirt. He gave a nod to Khoren who returned the nod before getting back into the limousine and driving off. The presence of such an expensive vehicle outside the bungalow for an extended time might lead to a barrage of questions for the Čubrilovićs, so Khoren was to return for the pair when he received a phone call from Feliks. The Vice-President and his cohort strolled up the driveway and reached the bungalow's wood-effect front door, then Mateja rang the doorbell. Of course, this was not the first meeting between Feliks and the Čubrilović family, as Feliks had accompanied them during their house-hunting. It only took a few seconds for the door to open and the pair to be greeted with a soft smile from Mateja's maternal grandmother that produced a similar smile on her grandson's face.

"Evening, Nana."

Mateja shared a hug with Radmila before stepping inside, at which point Feliks approached her and gave her three cheek kisses: right cheek, then left, then right again. His exuberant smile earned him a pat on the cheek from the seventy-nine-year-old. "Considering everything that you've done for us, you can also call me Nana if you want to."

"Okay then, Nana."

As Mateja headed further into the residence to talk to his parents, Radmila closed the front door and then slipped her arm under Feliks' arm to escort him towards the dining room. "I told his parents that he'd do well, and I was right. Working for a Vice-President, so much better than his position in the People's Republic."

"All for the three of you, Nana. His main reason for entering my employ was to secure a new life in the Marimaian Federation for his family, never forget that."

"Why do you think he remains in your employ, young Feliks?"

Feliks frowned slightly at the question. "Gratitude and excellent working conditions, I'd imagine."

"Yes, there is that." Radmila craned her neck upwards so that she could do her best to whisper to Feliks, and he lowered his head upon realising what she was attempting to do. "I didn't tell you this, but he does genuinely like you."

Feliks smirked at her. "Well, I'm an extremely likeable person." The resulting eye roll and tutting from Radmila provided him with a great deal of amusement as they proceeded into the dining room.
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Mon Nov 08, 2021 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:41 pm

20 September 2021, 16:00hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

As the family lounge of Avlabari Palace was usually used for the Baibakovs to relax and discuss important matters in an informal setting, Feliks had requested a 'family meeting' so that he could present his now-germinated scheme regarding the Kingdom of Tonga. He had spent a few days researching and cross-checking, and he now felt confident that he had a plan that would eventually deliver the small Pacific nation into the influence of the Marimaian Federation. Fyodor occupied his usual armchair while Zahra sat on her usual couch opposite him, but on this occasion, she was joined on the couch by Nikolai Vasilyev. Nikolai was present not only in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs but also as a cousin-by-marriage of the Baibakovs, as Feliks had expressed his intention to use the family as part of his plan, so this meant that they had been joined by the second other Baibakov family member that sat on the Cabinet of Ministers. Anatoly Baibakov was Fyodor's first cousin and the Minister of Finance, meaning that the fifty-three-year-old was responsible for state budgets and taxation, among other aspects of governance; befitting his rather serious role, Anatoly was always well-groomed with his white-blond short hair neatly styled and his facial hair worn in a moustache and 'Van Dyke' beard. In a further entwining of familial ties, Anatoly and Nikolai were brothers-in-law as Nikolai's wife Inessa was Anatoly's sister and Fyodor's cousin. All four had been provided with immaculate dossiers detailing Feliks' plan, and the architect of the scheme was currently walking his way around the lounge as he began to present his idea. For their part, Khoren and Mateja stood near the door of the lounge while their employer made his presentation.

"Okay, so. We want to befriend the Kingdom of Tonga but we don't currently have any diplomatic representation in their nation. I think I've discovered another way to establish a relationship with them, and it involves playing to our strengths. Papa, what's one of our family's favourite sayings?"

Fyodor chuckled as Feliks pointed at him, already enjoying his son's method of policy presentation. "'Everyone has their price' springs to mind. Is that the one, my boy?"

"Spot on, Papa. The Tupou dynasty has ruled Tonga for centuries and they're a rightfully proud family, I mean, they kept their kingdom free of colonisation at a time when every island was having a flag planted in it. If we're going to establish a good relationship with them then we need to have something that they want. Now, you were right when you said that they were more like us than they were like the Nanfang Republic. They are interested in being royals and ruling their kingdom, and that requires money. So rather than going at them with a diplomatic offensive, we go at them with a financial offensive. Although we do this as the Baibakov family rather than as the Marimaian Federation. I think we stand a much better chance of befriending them as ourselves, not as state representatives, and befriending the royalty of Tonga will result in us befriending Tonga as a nation. Once we get that good personal relationship established, that's when we can start with the state cooperation stuff. If you'll all turn to Page Two..."

Feliks waited while the four older family members turned the page in their dossiers, then continued. "Our first step into the Kingdom of Tonga involves private islands."

Zahra raised her eyebrows at that. "I didn't know that there were any private islands in Tonga."

"Mama, just by looking at the right websites I've found at least eight that are available as leaseholds. Some of them are completely undeveloped and are being presented as potential sites for vacation resorts, while others are already vacation resorts where the leasehold is coming up. So my idea is that we expand our family's tourism holdings by acquiring these islands."

Fyodor gave his son a quizzical look. "How many of them?"

Feliks grinned gleefully as his opportunity to show off continued. "There are five resorts that I've found, so I say we acquire the leaseholds to all five. I can travel to Tonga in my capacity as a director of Festivala Resorts to check them out and meet the sellers, and I'd say that it's guaranteed that the royal family would be very interested to have such a highly-placed individual visiting their nation. Especially if I'm throwing money around. If any business people or government representatives require 'managerial surcharges' or 'introduction expenses' as part of the deals for the resorts then they'll get their money without any questions. The best part is that this wouldn't just be about getting the attention and goodwill of the Tongan royals, as it wouldn't be a bad idea for us to expand our international holdings."

"The thinking being that they'll be more likely to want to meet you if they see you as a potential money source."

Feliks pointed at Anatoly and nodded. "Exactly! If they take the bait and I get a meeting with them, then I can schmooze them. Find out about any potential things that we can help them with, any potential investments that we could undertake for them, and any potential gifts that they might appreciate. It's impossible to over-emphasise just how advantageous a good relationship with the Tongan royals will be in all this. King Fokisi appoints the Prime Minister and the Cabinet ministers. The current Prime Minister is also the Minister for His Majesty's Armed Forces, and the holder of both offices is Crown Prince Sione. The current Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade is Prince Viliami, the King's second son. The current Minister for Finance, Revenue, and Customs is Prince Kakaea, the King's third son. You secure the friendship and cooperation of those four individuals and you could do anything.

"The rest of the Cabinet ministers are nobles or trusted commoners. Their legislature is comprised of twenty-five members, and sixteen of them are elected by the nobility. The other nine are elected by the general population. The Speaker of their legislature is appointed by the monarch. The royals are so integral to Tongan politics that they are the only ones in the country that we would need to woo."

Fyodor began to clap, smiling with satisfaction at his son's pitch. "You've sold it to me, my boy. What will you need?"

"Four Tongan entry visas, they're free so that's no cost at all. Permission to negotiate and conduct business without having to call home, and permission to stay in Tonga for however long it takes."

"So you intend to take Khoren and Kapetan Čubrilović with you? Okay, I can live with that. Who's the fourth person in your party?"

"Well, I'll need to clear it with Colonel General Petrosyan, but I'd like to take Lieutenant Nina Volkov with us. Her charms and experience could be of great use, or as my Kapetan so eloquently put it, she can be 'a back-up honey trap'. We worked well together in dealing with Leo Nmbega, after all."

"Hmm." Fyodor cast his gaze over Zahra, Nikolai, and Anatoly, receiving nods of assent from the three. A sly grin then formed on the President's face. "You've inherited your grandfather's insight and cunning, my boy. That much is clear to everyone. You have permission to stay in Tonga for however long you need to, and you have permission to negotiate and conduct business without having to call home. If at any time you think of something additional that you need, then call. Just remember to be respectful, King Fokisi and his sons are royalty. Don't let them see you as an uppity commoner."

"Perish the thought!"

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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Wed Oct 06, 2021 11:17 am

4 October 2021, 14:40hrs [UTC+13]
Shining Star Resort
Atata Island, Kingdom of Tonga

Comprised of roughly one hundred and seventy islands and featuring a population of just over one hundred and five thousand, the Kingdom of Tonga had a total land area of around two hundred and ninety square miles that was scattered across some two hundred and seventy thousand square miles of the Pacific Ocean. Despite the widely scattered nature of the nation's territory, the population was heavily centralised with roughly seventy percent of the kingdom residing on the main island of Tongatapu, the site of the national capital of Nukuʻalofa. The kingdom's population was primarily comprised of native Tongans with a smattering of immigrants from other nations who had come to Tonga in search of a new life; the nation's primary languages were Tongan and English, the latter having been adopted due to the heavy presence of English-speaking colonial powers in the immediate vicinity. The Tongan economy was built upon agriculture and fishing, with burgeoning tourism and industrial sectors, but the more advanced sectors of the kingdom's economy were exclusively the purview of the royal family and the nobility. The telecommunications and satellite services were completely in the hands of the ruling Tupou dynasty, and they were always keen to be presented with ideas that could improve the kingdom's economy and enrich themselves at the same time. It was therefore with some interest that the royals noted the arrival of a potential golden goose in their island kingdom.

Located some twenty-two miles from Nukuʻalofa but also on Tongatapu Island, Fuaʻamotu International Airport served as the air gateway to the Kingdom of Tonga. A rather small installation with two runways, an international terminal, and a domestic terminal, Fuaʻamotu International Airport could only accommodate aircraft up to the size of a 767 as the runways were unable to handle aircraft heavier than that. Thankfully, Tbilisi-Two was nowhere near as heavy as a 767. The customised business jet that Feliks used as his personal transport had made the over-9,700 mile journey between Tbilisi and Tongatapu Island thanks to a stopover in Singapura, the capital of the Southeast Asian nation of Singapura Raya, where the aircraft had refuelled to ensure that it would reach its final destination. Fuaʻamotu did not see a great deal of air traffic and so the business jet's arrival was keenly expected by the airport staff; as soon as it came to a halt on the runway, a blue-and-white baggage tug with two double shelf baggage carts drove over to greet the passengers. The driver's eyes widened as the first individual to disembark was Khoren, the massive Ingush casting his gaze around as he inspected the surroundings. Khoren was soon followed by Nina Volkov and then Mateja, with Feliks emerging last. All four were dressed appropriately for the 28°C afternoon outdoor temperature, and Feliks took the opportunity to peer over the frame of his sunglasses at the airport facilities while Tbilisi-Two's crew unloaded the quartet's luggage. Once the luggage had been loaded onto the baggage tug, Feliks began his 'financial offensive' by handing the driver a 100 pa'anga note as a tip, not an inconsiderable sum to be handing out so freely. As the four made their way through the immigration checkpoint where their passports and visas were checked, Feliks handed out 100 pa'anga notes to the immigration officers after they had completed their checks, earning himself broad smiles from the Tongan officials. Identical tips were handed out to any other airport staff who assisted the visitors as the party made their way through the international terminal, at which point they were met by the drivers of the taxis that had been arranged by the resort where they would be staying; 100 pa'anga tips ensured that the taxi drivers treated Feliks and his cohorts almost like royalty.

The taxis took them into the capital of Nukuʻalofa and dropped them off at the Interisland Ferry Terminal, where they boarded the organised boat that ferried them to their final destination. Located roughly seven and a half miles northwest of Nukuʻalofa was Atata Island, a small piece of land about five thousand feet long with two main features: a small village on the northern side of the island, and the Shining Star Resort at the southern tip. Consisting of twenty-three beachfront fales (traditional Tongan thatched roof houses) and several ancillary amenities, the resort was situated in an idyllic location that made Feliks wonder why the current owner would want to sell the business. After checking in at the reception desk and handing out 100 pa'anga tips to the receptionist and the porters, Feliks and his party were escorted to their accommodation. Never one to do anything on a small scale, Feliks had booked three fales next to each other: a two-bedroom fale for himself and Khoren, then two separate one-bedroom fales for Mateja and Nina. Upon entering the red-and-white decored lounge area of his fale, Feliks smirked to himself as he immediately noticed a large ice bucket on the coffee table with four glasses, and he nodded approvingly at the high-quality name on the champagne that was on ice.

"Looks like someone's trying to earn some brownie points, Khoren."

The comment earned a nod of agreement from the quiet giant, who then busied himself with the unpacking of Feliks' luggage while the young Baibakov explored their accommodation. While nowhere near the level that he was used to experiencing back in the Marimaian Federation, Feliks was satisfied that he would be comfortable during his stay.

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About an hour later, the four Marimaian citizens received a visit from the resort owner. Marinho Paiva was a forty-five-year-old Portuguese man who had moved to the Kingdom of Tonga in the hope of starting up a successful business in a dream location. While he had certainly started up his intended business venture in his location of choice, the reality was not quite living up to his dream. While Khoren, Mateja, and Nina took the opportunity to relax, Feliks and Marinho sat on the veranda of Feliks' fale to discuss the situation.

"So what's your incentive for selling up? From what you've told us, you do some good business here. I mean you've got a great location and great weather."

Marinho sighed at Feliks' question and sat back in his wooden chair. "Honestly? King Fokisi and his government are implementing reforms to 'Tonganise' the tourist industry here. They want to ensure that as tourism increases and more people visit, as much revenue as possible is generated for Tonga. That means that foreigners who own or are planning to establish resorts and hotels have to have a Tongan partner, more specifically a royal or one of the nobility. While that sounds fine in theory, in practice it's enough for me to sell up and go back to Portugal. I'm not important enough to get a meeting with any of the royals, and the nobles that I've approached all want various 'expenses' paid before they'll agree to become my partner."

"Huh, interesting." Feliks took a draw on his cigarillo as he considered that tidbit of information. "If I had to hazard a guess, you're wondering if those expenses will be the first demand of many to come."

"Pretty much. If I end up with my partner requesting regular payments to remain as my partner, I don't know how it'll affect the business. I'm just an independent at the end of the day. If I don't find a partner, then they'll revoke the leasehold under their new reforms and I'll lose the resort." Marinho gestured towards Feliks. "Festivala Resorts, on the other hand, would be far better positioned to handle such a situation. I'll admit to being surprised when your company contacted me, especially when they said that you'd be coming out here at such short notice. Do you always conduct business like this?"

"I find that it's more effective to provide a personal touch to things like this, my friend. Even in my other capacity as a Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation. I'm not here with that particular hat on, though." Feliks gave Marinho a broad friendly smile. "From what I've seen thus far, Shining Star Resort would make for an excellent addition to Festivala's portfolio. I shouldn't tell you this before I've seen the books for this place for myself, but I think it's safe to say that we'll be buying it. In which case, we'd need an on-site manager to run the place for us. As the guy who's been running it since its establishment, would you be interested?"

Marinho chuckled at the suggestion. "You'd buy this place from me and then pay me to keep running it for you?"

"It makes perfect sense. You know all of the staff, you know the locals, you know the best places to get supplies, you know the little quirks that this place has undoubtedly developed. Why would we fly in someone new who would have to spend time getting used to everything, when you can simply keep on going as you are?"

"That...is a very good point. I get to stay here and run my dream business without worrying about money or sorting out a local partner, I mean that would be ideal. When do you want to see the books?"

"Tomorrow would be best. It'll give me time to have a better look around, have dinner, and have a good long sleep. Anything in particular that you'd recommend for dinner?"

Marinho thought for a moment. "Try the Lū Sipi. It's lamb and onion wrapped in taro leaves and backed with coconut milk, a lot of our guests enjoy it. Room service, or will you and your party be joining the rest of the guests at the restaurant?"

"Oh, we'll be at the restaurant. I want to see how the staff operate and what the service is like."

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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sat Oct 09, 2021 3:41 pm

5 October 2021, 13:50hrs [UTC+13]
Shining Star Resort
Atata Island, Kingdom of Tonga

The owner's office at Shining Star Resort was a fairly small affair, unsurprising due to the relatively small size of the resort itself. The office shared a building with the reception desk and a break room where the porters often waited for guests to arrive so that they could collect their luggage as quickly as possible. The ceiling fan emitted a steady slow whirring as it worked to cool the office interior, providing Feliks with a comfortable temperature as he sat at Marinho Paiva's desk, inspecting the resort's balance sheets on Marinho's desktop computer. Marinho was also in the office just in case Feliks had any questions, and he had made himself useful by fetching a cool glass of coconut rum and cola for the pair of them. After placing Feliks' beverage on a coaster, Marinho settled into the chair on the 'employee' side of the desk and took a drink from his glass. He quietly observed as the twenty-six-year-old intently tapped away at the keyboard, but finally, the silence got the best of him and he decided to attempt some small talk.

"So how did you enjoy lunch?"

"Hmm? Oh yeah, that was nice. I'd never had Kale Moa before, it was better than some other chicken curries I've tried." Feliks sat back in the owner's chair and let out a lazy yawn, stretching his arms above his head. "You've turned a decent profit since opening, if it wasn't for this 'Tonganisation' thing then you'd have been well set here. Still, never mind. Festivala Resorts shall be swooping to your rescue."

"Taking it off my hands then?"

Feliks nodded and grinned. "Definitely. We'll get the contract drawn up according to Tongan law obviously, but yeah, Shining Star Resort will become part of the Festivala portfolio. As I said yesterday, we'll be looking to keep you on as the resort manager and all of the staff will be retained."

Marinho returned the grin. "It still sounds way too good to be true, but I'm not going to complain. I-" He was interrupted by the resort's receptionist appearing in the office doorway, a pensive expression clear on her face. "What's the matter, Laveni?"

"It's Prince Viliami, he's here. Now." The thirty-two-year-old nodded towards Feliks. "He wants to meet you."

Feliks and Marinho exchanged raised eyebrows before the Marimaian rose from his seat. "I figured that someone would end up coming to meet me at some point, I guess it makes sense for it to be the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade." So they took the bait, he thought to himself. The young Vice-President was rather pleased with his scheme as it seemed to be working out better than initially expected; in all honesty, he had thought that it would be a couple of days before someone important showed up, not the very next day after his arrival. "I'll come and meet him, you guys go about your daily business."

Laveni nodded and headed back towards the reception area of the building, then Feliks exited the office and turned to look up at Khoren, who had been patiently waiting just outside. A simple nod was all that was required for the giant to follow his employer as Feliks trotted his way towards his first meeting with a member of the Tongan royal family.

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There was certainly no way that you could miss the presence of Prince Viliami, particularly in an enclosed area like Shining Star Resort's reception. Standing six feet tall with a muscular build, the second-in-line to the Tongan throne wore a full beard with his chest-length black hair tied back in a man bun; when it came to a matter of attire, the prince wore a dark grey suit jacket and trousers with a white t-shirt underneath, accessorised with a pair of designer sunglasses. He was accompanied by two bodyguards who both stood around six-foot-four and were dressed in white shirts with black trousers, also with sunglasses. Viliami looked around the reception as he waited patiently, smirking to himself as Feliks entered the reception with Khoren in tow. He had not imagined that his first meeting with a Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation would involve the foreign grandee being dressed in a pair of white knee-length shorts and an incredibly colourful beach shirt, but then the world had seen far stranger things happen.

"Your Excellency."

Feliks beamed happily and offered a respectful nod. "Your Highness." He held out his hand and noted the firmness of Viliami's handshake as the thirty-six-year-old prince returned his greeting. "Please, call me Feliks. I'm not here in a Vice-Presidential capacity, after all."

"Very well then, Feliks. I hope you'll forgive my intrusion upon your visit, it's just that we don't get many foreign individuals of your standing here in Tonga. How are you liking our beautiful nation thus far?"

"Honestly, I'm loving it. The temperature's lovely, the people are extremely welcoming, and the food thus far has been delicious. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Tonga during my stay."

"I'm glad to hear that you're having such a positive experience, so how long are you intending to stay? Just out of curiosity, of course."

"However long it takes, Your Highness. I'm here in my capacity as a director of Festivala Resorts, scouting out potential additions to our resort portfolio. I can happily say that this particular resort is going to be one of them, once we've taken care of the contracts and whatnot, of course."

"Of course." Viliami removed his sunglasses and hooked them into the breast pocket of his jacket. "You're aware of the new regulations coming into force then, I take it?"

"Ah yes, the Tonganisation initiative. A very sensible and forward-thinking idea, I must admit. It ensures that Tongans have a say in the development of the Tongan tourism industry and that profits don't get siphoned out of the kingdom by predatory internationals. So as I understand it, Festivala will require a Tongan partner if we are to establish ourselves here. A noble or better, is that right?"

"Full marks for your knowledge, Feliks."

Feliks grinned at the compliment. "There is one thing that I'm not completely sure on, admittedly. Would Festivala require a partner per resort or other holdings, or would we just need one partner to cover the entire endeavour?"

The question seemed to intrigue Viliami, much to Feliks' satisfaction. "Hmm. How many resorts are you looking at, precisely?"

"Five for definite, we're aware that their leaseholds are available for acquisition so I'm here to inspect them and decide whether or not we should go ahead. As you undoubtedly know, Your Highness, Festivala owns and operates several successful vacation resorts throughout the Marimaian Federation. Our portfolio includes ski resorts, spa resorts, and naturally beach resorts." Feliks paused for a moment. "Do you mind if I smoke, Your Highness?"

"Not at all."

Viliami observed as a simple gesture was sufficient communication between Feliks and his massive bodyguard for the Vice-President to be provided with a cigarillo that was then lit. Feliks took a draw and exhaled before continuing. "We're looking at expanding into other nations, and we think that the Kingdom of Tonga has a great deal of untapped potential in vacation terms."

"I see." Viliami idly stroked his beard as he considered the implications of what Feliks was saying. "If your company is going to be acquiring several facilities in the kingdom then it will probably be more appropriate for you to partner with a member of the royal family. That way you would have a partner with authority throughout the kingdom, rather than having to deal with a noble for each constituent territory of Tonga that you have a holding in. Would I be correct in thinking that Festivala Resorts is intending to spend a great deal of money in tapping Tonga's potential?"

"You would indeed be correct, Your Highness. As such, we would be extremely grateful for any expertise and insight that a potential Tongan partner could provide. Well, as grateful as possible within the confines of Tongan law, obviously."

"Obviously." Viliami immediately understood what Feliks was getting at, due to both the reputation of the Baibakov family and the activities of his own family when it came to financial matters. "You know, I might have someone in mind as a potential partner for your company's Tongan activities. I'll need to make a few enquiries but would you be free for a meeting, say, tomorrow evening? I'll have to confirm the venue but it'll be in Nukuʻalofa for certain."

"It would be my pleasure, Your Highness. I'll give you my personal number, it'll be easier to contact me that way." To say that Feliks was pleased with his current progress was something of an understatement. Contact had been established with a high-ranking member of the Tongan royal family and it certainly seemed that they were interested in the potential of Festivala Resorts establishing a presence in the Kingdom of Tonga. Phase One is complete.
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Tue Oct 19, 2021 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:41 am

6 October 2021, 19:00hrs [UTC+13]
Royal Palace
Nukuʻalofa, Kingdom of Tonga

Constructed in 1867, the Royal Palace in Nukuʻalofa was the primary residence of the King of Tonga, but it was far from the only residence owned by the Tupou dynasty within their kingdom. There were eleven other royal residences located throughout the numerous islands of the Kingdom of Tonga, but the wooden two-storey Royal Palace in the northwest of Nukuʻalofa was the residence that held the most significance. The rather long rectangular building featured a white exterior with red roofing and was set within immaculately tended gardens that were themselves surrounded by a ten-foot-high grid fence. The only entrance to the palace grounds was through the red main gates that bore the royal coat of arms, while security was provided by the company-sized Tongan Royal Guards whose duty was to ensure the protection of their monarch and his family. The two guardsmen on duty at the main gate stood stoically to attention as a black SUV passed through the main gates on this particular Wednesday evening, ferrying Feliks Baibakov to his meeting with a potential local partner. He was being accompanied by Khoren and Mateja Čubrilović, with Lieutenant Volkov remaining at Shining Star Resort because Feliks did not want to bring too large an entourage to the meeting, remembering the words of his father: Don't let them see you as an uppity commoner. As the meeting was being held at the Royal Palace, Feliks had his suspicions regarding which member of the royal family he was going to be meeting, and so he had elected to tone down his usual fashion style somewhat. All three Marimaian citizens were therefore dressed in smart black suits with white shirts and black neckties, giving them the appearance of uniformity while leaving little chance that they might outshine their hosts. As the SUV pulled up at the main entrance of the Royal Palace, a uniformed servant opened the door of the vehicle to allow Feliks and his two cohorts to climb out, at which point they were greeted by Prince Viliami beneath the nearby veranda.

"Feliks, so good of you to make it. Welcome to the Royal Palace, the seat of power within the Kingdom of Tonga as well as the favoured residence of His Majesty King Fokisi Tupou VI and Her Majesty Queen Tafotila. Your company's intention to establish operations here in Tonga has generated quite a lot of interest within our family, so you'll have quite a distinguished audience this evening. In addition to the King and the Queen, you'll also be meeting my older brother Crown Prince Sione and my younger brother Prince Kakaea. As I'm sure you're aware, Sione is Prime Minister and Minister for His Majesty's Armed Forces, while Kakaea is Minister for Finance, Revenue, and Customs. Pretty much everybody that you would need to have on your side for Festivala Resorts to have an easy time of establishing a presence here."

"Wow, that is quite an audience." This couldn't be going any better, thought Feliks as Prince Viliami gestured for him and his two companions to follow. He had suspected that he would be meeting the King due to the venue, but he had not expected that all three of the monarch's sons would be in attendance as well. Not that this was a bad thing by any means, of course, as it saved him the trouble of having to meet them individually in the future.

Prince Viliami led Feliks, Khoren, and Mateja through the wood-panelled corridors of the Royal Palace to the throne room, where the rest of the royal family were awaiting them. The throne room featured the same wood panelling on the walls as the rest of the palace, with three large fans hanging from the white ceiling. The thrones of the King and Queen were situated at the opposite end of the long room, facing the doors, while the walls on either side were lined with comfortable armchairs. King Fokisi and Queen Tafotila occupied their respective thrones, the greying sixty-two-year-old King wearing a military-style uniform while his sixty-year-old wife wore a stylish black dress; to the left of the Queen sat Crown Prince Sione and Prince Kakaea. The thirty-eight-year-old Sione and the thirty-year-old Kakaea both wore similar attire to their middle brother, who was dressed pretty much the same as he had been during his first encounter with the Marimaian visitors. King Fokisi gestured for Feliks to come closer as Viliami took a seat between his brothers.

"Approach, my young friend. Viliami tells us that we might have a great deal to discuss."

Feliks nodded and strode forward, pausing a few steps away from the twin thrones and offering a respectful bow, first to the King and then to the Queen. "Your Majesties, thank you for honouring me with the opportunity to meet with you. I hope that the discussions that we have this evening are to the benefit of all of us."

Fokisi smirked at Tafotila and then turned his attention back to Feliks. "Did you practise that speech or are you naturally so eloquent?"

"Honestly? I had a rough idea in my head but I filled in the specifics on the fly." The chuckle that his remark elicited from Fokisi set Feliks at ease, and a Cheshire Cat grin quickly developed on his face as the rest of the royal attendees joined in with the King's amusement. King Fokisi directed Feliks to take the seat next to him and so the young Baibakov settled into the offered armchair with Mateja in the chair next to him and then Khoren sat next to Mateja. The King of Tonga rubbed his chin curtain beard before settling back on his throne.

"So, you're here as a representative of Festivala Resorts, looking at facilities that your company would be interested in acquiring. We had a look at your company's website and searched for any news articles on the internet, Festivala certainly seems to be doing well. We haven't seen interest from a major tourism company like this before and we all agree that a partnership between Festivala Resorts and the Tupou dynasty could be beneficial to both sides." There were murmurs of agreement from the rest of the royal family at that statement. "I prefer the idea of dealing with one single tourism company, rather than multiple smaller groups. Particularly if that company has a director who would be likely to regard us as more than simply a 'future asset'." King Fokisi smiled and nodded at Feliks. "I've watched the speech that you gave when you were appointed as a Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation, it was very good."

"Thank you, Your Majesty. I'll be honest with you all, my family greatly prefers to deal with solid and secure governments like your own. Festivala could have easily gone to other nations in the South Pacific but none of the others can claim to possess the security and stability that your dynasty provides for Tonga. If we reach a deal with you then we know that we've reached a deal with a prestigious family who will keep their word. What we wish to do is acquire resorts with a leasehold that is coming up, as that will provide us with a strong base in the Tongan economy that we can expand from. Every Tongan currently employed at such resorts will retain their jobs, and if possible we would look to retain the current operator as an onsite manager, but employed by us." Feliks paused as he sat back and crossed his legs at the knee. "We would also be looking to invest in transport links within the Kingdom if that would be permitted. As Festivala is owned by my family, it can reliably set up contracts for things like that with other companies that live within our corporate web. The priority is, of course, acquiring these resorts."

"Such ambition! Of course, it does sound as though your ambitious plans would benefit the Kingdom of Tonga quite considerably." King Fokisi looked at the rest of his family before returning his attention to Feliks. "Due to the potential for your plans to strengthen our national economy, it would be best if you had a Tongan partner who could remove any potential barriers for you. Someone of considerable influence and power."

"Such as Your Majesty, perhaps?"

King Fokisi smiled at Feliks' obvious grasp of the situation. "Indeed. Although it must be made clear that if I were to partner with Festivala Resorts then there would likely be costs involved. I cannot be seen to simply overrule or bypass government officials without good reason."

"We would never ask you to wield your power and influence without good reason, Your Majesty. Due to your undeniably extensive knowledge of every aspect of Tongan law and culture, Festivala Resorts would insist on compensating you for any consultations or assistance that you provide for our plans."

"All right then, down to business. We know your family's reputation, we've heard the stories and we've read the articles. What are you offering?"

Feliks grinned as King Fokisi abandoned diplomatic language and began talking in a way that the Baibakovs were far more comfortable with. "One hundred thousand pa'anga each for Your Majesties, fifty thousand for each of Your Highnesses. That would be the basic annual retainer paid to you as 'consultants', so you'd get that no matter what. For every resort and facility that is fast-tracked into Festivala's portfolio, we'd pay a bonus equal to the annual retainer. There would also be regular gifts as a sign of our appreciation, such as caviar and shampanskoye."

The Tongan monarch made a clear sound of interest. "You know, we've recently been talking about the need to conduct some renovations here at the Royal Palace. Would Festivala be able to help us out with that, by any chance? It would earn our eternal gratitude."

"Your Majesty, it would be an honour and a privilege to assist your most prestigious dynasty in maintaining your ancestral home. We could pay you a special one-off bonus for your assistance with Festivala's agenda here in Tonga, and then you could pay one of my family's companies to do the work on the palace, and magically the renovations would cost the exact amount of the one-off bonus. If there are any other issues or projects that Festivala Resorts or my family could help you with, then let us know and we'll see what we can do. We're not miracle workers but we do have our ways."

King Fokisi 'hmmed' before giving a broad smile. "It sounds as though we are approaching an agreement, my young friend. You've certainly given us a great deal to consider. We'll discuss it more thoroughly within the family tonight and notify you of our final decision tomorrow, but I think that I can say that the final decision will be one that you will be happy with. Now then, would you be interested in a personal tour of the Royal Palace?"

"Absolutely."

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The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Founded: Feb 10, 2020
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Mon Oct 18, 2021 6:33 am

Senior Executive Officer Rafferty A. Shawcross
Kingsley House, Royal District of Bainbridge
Duchy of Washington, Kingdom of Apilonia
Tuesday 5th October 2021, 2100hrs Local Time




Kingsley House, named for the father of the Diplomatic Service, was the home of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was far more often simply called the Foreign Office. A great Neoclassical building, designed to be imposing and impressive in equal measures, to adequately awe and influence foreign diplomats summoned to the Foreign Office, for good and ill, it was only modestly less busy outside ‘normal’ business hours. The simple reason for this was that foreign affairs did not take place solely on Apilonian time, particularly with the global interests and responsibilities of the Kingdom, which had only been increased by the genesis of the Commonwealth, as even with just the original founding members and not those that had joined since it was already said that the ‘Commonwealth never sleeps’. As such, whilst those men and women who worked on desks dedicated to the Americas, Europe, and Africa went home, those who worked the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific arrived. Indeed, even outside of the hours in which their part of the world was ‘awake’, every desk maintained a ‘night watch’, as it was not like events would simply stop due to being outside of business hours, whether at home or abroad.

Senior Executive Officer (SxO) Rafferty A. Shawcross was a career civil servant, with a civil service pay grade equivalent to that of a Commander in the Royal Navy, and was the Desk Officer of the Pacific Desk, within the Indo-Pacific Division. The Pacific Desk was a particularly important one, despite only being responsible for a network of relatively small island nations strewn all over the Pacific Ocean. The reason for this was simple enough; a significant number of said island nations were former Apilonian colonies, which had been granted their independence during the Withdrawal from Empire. However, Apilonian geopolitical and military strategic interests continued to require naval and diplomatic domination over the Pacific Ocean, which meant that maintaining positive relationships with these former colonies over the decades had been vitally important. Although Apilonian naval assets had no longer been actively stationed to these island nations, due to the political difficulties of doing so, this network of friendly states had been vital in simplifying the Royal Navy’s logistical footprint across one of its most vital areas of operation by allowing them to refuel and resupply in friendly ports. As the Desk Officer, Shawcross was responsible for overseeing the activities of the entire desk, taking the big picture view of the entire Pacific.

In recent years, certainly since the end of the Terror and the resurgence of Apilonian confidence, and particularly since the foundation of the Commonwealth, there had been an increase in support, both within the Kingdom and its former colonies, for bringing many of these island nations back into the fold. It had been a slow-burn project for the last two decades, across several successive Governments, as there was no desire to come across as too forceful, as the intention was to bring these former colonies back into the fold as equals. However, the establishment of the Commonwealth had underlined the Kingdom’s willingness and desire to engage on equal terms with those nations it had once ruled over, and the gentle probes of Apilonian diplomats had been met with increasing openness over recent months. Ironically, most discussions were starting to point towards these former colonies becoming a part of the Kingdom itself, although the exact structure would need to be discussed and determined, rather than joining the Commonwealth. It was not that such small nation-states would not be allowed to become Commonwealth realms, but rather practical considerations and the fact that other Commonwealth members might be less than pleased that their voting power was diluted by an influx of new, tiny, membership.

For the most part, all parties involved were being remarkably open, flexible, and eager to progress. Whilst no formal agreement seemed imminent, as the Foreign Secretary would prefer a broad arrangement to include as many polities as possible, which would make deciding the place of these prospective overseas territories far simpler, but it was certainly by no means outside the realms of possibility. In this case, a slow but professional approach seemed to be doing the trick, especially as it underlined that any future relationship between the Kingdom and the islands, whether as part of the Kingdom or not, would be very different from what had one before, and the respect with which the Kingdom was treating these tiny (but strategically important) islands was a key part of that.

“Hey, Raf, have you see this report from the RIS?”

Shawcross glanced up at Elizabeth Langley, one of his Desk Analysts, leant her forearms on the cabinet at the end of his desk, holding out a folder for him to take, marked Secret.

“Give me the headlines, Beth,” Shawcross replied, knowing that he could trust her to have already read the report and to have garnered all of the important information.

“As you know, ever since Feliks Baibakov was made a Vice-President in Marimaia he has been kept under surveillance by the Service, more robust than the normal open-source monitoring of foreign dignitaries due to his family’s reputation for corrupt dealings, and their proximity to our Commonwealth partners in Europe,” Langley replied promptly. “Well, Feliks got on a plain to Tonga of all places, and our small RIS station on Tonga had to scramble to put surveillance into place for his arrival, but it’s a good thing that they did, as they reported that not only did he meet with Prince Viliami on Monday, local time, but a short time ago he went to the Royal Palace, where we believe he met with the King of Tonga.”

Shawcross was silent for a moment as he leant back in his chair, letting out a whistle of surprise as he took the intelligence report from her, knowing that he would definitely need to read the entire thing himself. Tonga was one of a handful of island nations in the Pacific that did not have a history within the Kingdom, and had long maintained its independence, whilst descending into something of an authoritarian state masquerading as a monarchy (as far as the Apilonian Foreign Office was concerned). What, precisely, a Marimaian Vice President was doing in Tonga would need to be determined, but it was unlikely to be anything good, as any sort of foreign interference in the Pacific was seen as a key geopolitical concern, due to the geostrategic importance of the Pacific to the Kingdom of Apilonia. It was perhaps fortunate that it was Marimaia, as it seemed far more likely to just be them wanting to make a quick buck rather than anything more sinister, the involvement of some other nations would be sure to be met with a far more robust response, particularly if they were aligned in any way with the Shenzhen Pact, which was rapidly emerging as the Kingdom’s (and by extension, the Commonwealth’s) primary rival.

As it was, the involvement of any non-allied nation in the Pacific would likely result in some sort of response from Apilonia, which Shawcross suspected would manifest itself in a renewed sense of urgency in the ongoing negotiations with the other, currently independent, island nations. However, it was entirely likely that any such movement by a third-party nation would likely be as concerning to them as it was to Apilonia, and would push them into Apilonia’s arms. It was less than ideal, as Shawcross knew that the Foreign Secretary, Russell S. Templeton , MP, was very much of the belief that a longer, more detailed process would be preferable to a quicker one, as it would reduce the chances of any issues down the road. However, at least a majority of the groundwork had been done, and it was possible that this development would provide the impetus to move to the next stage with new vigour. Either way, it was immediately obvious that this one report would soon be circulating around the corridors of power.

“Alright, well I want to read this, but call Sterling and tell him not to go to bed anytime soon, and that I’ll call him soon,” Shawcross replied, referring to Senior Principal Executive Officer Sterling H. Blythe, the Division Chief for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, answering to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (a civil servant) and the Minister of State (a politician) for the Indo-Pacific. “In the meantime, get the rest of our desk on seeing if we can find out what Feliks is doing there, and whether there are any other Marimaia tendrils in the Pacific…”
The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Tue Oct 19, 2021 1:48 pm

7 October 2021, 14:30hrs [UTC+13]
Royal Palace
Nukuʻalofa, Kingdom of Tonga

When King Fokisi had told him the previous evening that the Tupou dynasty would notify him of their decision regarding a potential partnership, Feliks had honestly expected the notification to come in the form of a phone call or maybe Prince Viliami paying another brief visit to Shining Star Resort. He had therefore been pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to once again visit the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa, his second visit to the royal residence in as many days. This particular invitation had been extended via a phone call from Viliami, who had stressed to Feliks that there was no need to dress formally for this second visit. Firstly, it was a rather warm day and secondly, the visit would be more of a friendly meeting rather than an official one. So after having lunch at Shining Star Resort, Feliks was once again on his way to the Royal Palace, once again accompanied by Mateja and Khoren. As the three of them were dropped off at the palace's main entrance by a black SUV that was part of the small royal fleet of vehicles, Feliks became the first foreigner to ever visit the royal residence dressed in a white short-sleeve shirt and white chino shorts; Khoren and Mateja were dressed a tad more conservatively, with white short-sleeve shirts and black trousers. A uniformed servant greeted them and escorted the three through the palace and out into the rear gardens, where King Fokisi greeted them with a beaming smile.

"My young friend, good to see you once again! I apologise for dragging you back here, but I wanted to give you the good news in person. After a family discussion last night once you'd returned to your resort, it has been decided that I shall act as the Tongan partner for Festivala Resorts myself. My family and I regard your intended plans as an excellent opportunity for our kingdom, and you shall have our full cooperation."

Feliks quickly matched King Fokisi's smile with one of his own at the news. "Your Majesty, I cannot thank you enough for this, it truly is an honour to have one as distinguished as yourself cooperating with us in this endeavour."

The shirt-and-shorts-clad monarch gave a sharp laugh. "You certainly do like flowery words, my friend. So now that we are to be partners, let me elaborate upon the advantages that you will be gaining from my involvement. All Tongan government ministers are either members of the Tupou dynasty, members of the nobility, or especially talented commoners, all of whom owe their positions to me. I can dismiss them whenever I desire. So with that in mind, if you encounter any issues that could be easily solved with a little government support, I can arrange it for you with a little creative public reasoning. If you have your eye on a leasehold and the current owner won't sell to you, we can find a way to disqualify them from owning the leasehold and then sell it to you ourselves. If you need any permits for construction or renovation, then they can be fast-tracked easily. The only potential problem that we have is the media. Here in Tonga, the constitution guarantees freedom of the press, so the newspapers and broadcast media cannot be owned by members of the royal family or the nobility. It's supposed to be that way to prevent open abuses of power. So assistance will have to be accompanied by some form of justification, or the media might get hold of a story and run with it."

Feliks tapped his chin thoughtfully as he and the King began to stroll across the well-tended lawn. "Are there any particular conditions on media ownership here in Tonga, Your Majesty? Aside from it being barred to royalty and nobility, of course."

"No, that's the only condition. Well, aside from the Legislative Assembly's ability to veto foreign acquisitions of Tongan media if such acquisitions could prove to be a risk to our national security or sovereignty. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious, that's all. In the Marimaian Federation, we don't have that sort of stringency so we've got more than a few media groups that have distinct pro-government leanings. Anyway, Your Majesty, I can safely say that Festivala Resorts will endeavour to conduct ourselves as professionally as possible here in the Kingdom of Tonga. We won't make a habit of requesting your assistance if we can solve an issue on our own. Now then, would you and the other members of the Tupou dynasty like to have your consultancy fees paid into bank accounts here in Tonga, or would you prefer nice quiet accounts somewhere else that you can easily access whenever you wish?"

"Somewhere else, meaning Tbilisi?" King Fokisi chuckled as they paused to look out over the ocean through the rear fence of the royal compound. "I think that the second option would be best. It will make things easier when it comes to paying for the renovations to the palace, as we can simply pay a Marimaian company with money from a Marimaian bank."

"That is an excellent point, Your Majesty. If you'd like, I can call home later today and arrange for someone to fly out here to take a look at the work that you want to have done. Then they'll figure out the costs and we can sort things out from there. They probably won't arrive for a few days but at least wheels will be in motion." Feliks made a gesture orbiting his index fingers around each other to emulate the motion of a wheel and grinned. "We'll probably hook you up with Tsitadel Construction, they've got a lot of experience with high-end residences and palaces, and they've always done excellent work for us."

"The Kingdom of Tonga is likely to have a lot of Marimaian visitors from now on, by the sound of it. I imagine that Festivala Resorts will be marketing your resorts in Tonga to the people of the Marimaian Federation, won't you?"

Feliks nodded in response to King Fokisi's question. "That's correct, Your Majesty. Ultimately we would want to see tourists from all over the world coming to stay at our resorts in your kingdom, but our initial marketing focus will be within the Marimaian Federation."

The King scratched his beard for a moment. "In that case, perhaps it might be a good idea for our two nations to finally exchange some level of diplomatic representation. We don't have many embassies here in Nuku'alofa as the vast majority of nations in the world barely notice our existence most of the time. I believe that it would be a wise move for the Marimaian Federation to establish an embassy here, and for the Kingdom of Tonga to establish an embassy in Tbilisi. That way, Marimaian visitors will have an official diplomatic mission on hand in case of any emergencies."

"My father will love that idea, Your Majesty. When I call home later, I'll tell him that you've suggested it and he'll probably get our Ministry of Foreign Affairs working on it as quickly as possible. If I put my 'Vice-President' hat on for a moment, I can tell you that it'll be nice to score a diplomatic victory right now."

King Fokisi regarded Feliks with interest due to that statement. "Let me guess, the Apilonians are causing you an issue." The monarch nodded as Feliks raised an eyebrow at him. "They're everywhere around here these days, treating the Pacific as if they owned it. With that in mind, I'd suggest that we not make any official statements about Festivala Resorts or the potential exchange of embassies just yet. We can announce things when we formally exchange ambassadors, we might come up with some additional cooperative ideas by then."

Feliks laughed softly. "I like your thinking, Your Majesty. They'll probably figure out that something is going on, but we won't give them the satisfaction of going public until we're ready to present them with a fait accompli. That way, they'll find it difficult to meddle."

"I don't know about you, but it sounds to me as though the Tupou dynasty and the Baibakov family are going to get along extremely well, my young friend."

"I do believe you're right, Your Majesty. I do believe you're right."

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