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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Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sat Oct 23, 2021 3:51 pm

7 October 2021, 21:50hrs [UTC+13]
Shining Star Resort
Atata Island, Kingdom of Tonga

Given his success in reaching an accord with King Fokisi concerning Festivala Resorts, Feliks had been in contact with his father in Tbilisi via an encrypted satellite phone to brag about his 'victory'. Fyodor Baibakov had heartily congratulated his son on securing the Tupou dynasty's cooperation so quickly, once again expressing his pride in his son's achievements. The pair had then discussed the posited renovations of the Tongan Royal Palace and the future formal exchange of ambassadors between the Kingdom of Tonga and the Marimaian Federation, and the phone call ended with Fyodor eager to begin 'putting the wheels in motion'. So as far as Feliks was concerned, 'Phase Two' of his scheme was complete; that meant that it was time to celebrate his success thus far. It was drawing close to ten o'clock at night at Shining Star Resort as the four Marimaians continued to occupy the lounge of Feliks' comfortable two-bedroom fale, an assortment of room service food and alcoholic drinks laid out on the coffee table that sat between two white couches. Lieutenant Volkov and Mateja Čubrilović occupied one couch while Feliks and Khoren reclined on the couch opposite them.

"So what's Phase Three then, Your Excellency?"

Feliks rolled his eyes and let out an exaggerated sigh. "Lieutenant, call me Feliks or 'Little Boss' while we're here. I'm not in Tonga as a Vice-President so don't address me as one. The Kapetan calls me Feliks. Khoren...well, Khoren admittedly doesn't call me anything, but if he did, then he'd call me Little Boss. Right?"

In his typical fashion, Khoren simply offered a smirk and a nod in response. Nina held up her hands in a gesture of acquiescence, laughing as she did so. "Okay, okay. So what's Phase Three then, Little Boss?"

"Well, we've just got to sign a couple of contracts and pay some money, and then Shining Star Resort belongs to Festivala Resorts. The company's sending out a lawyer to handle the paperwork so that I don't have to. That will then lead to Phase Three, the expansion of Festivala's holdings in the Kingdom of Tonga. We've got four other resorts on the list of leaseholds that are available to buy and we'll start visiting them tomorrow and Saturday. Sunday will be our day off, mainly because the Tongan constitution enshrines the idea of not working on the Sabbath so most of the country closes every Sunday, with a couple of exceptions for certain businesses. It stems from the beliefs of one of the previous kings, who converted to Christianity because of missionary influence."

Nina nodded as Feliks finished speaking. "I take it that I'll be using my charms to help win over the other resort operators?"

"Only if they won't be bought. At the end of the day they're business people, and they'll undoubtedly be finding themselves in the same predicament as Marinho did. Especially once the royals have leaned on the nobility to be as uncooperative as possible and make outrageous demands in return for becoming a local partner. I don't want it to get around that you'll charm the pants off of someone who doesn't agree to sell, otherwise every resort operator will turn me down in the hopes of spending a night with you. I will, however, want you to accompany me to see the two resorts that I want to visit tomorrow. Kapetan Čubrilović deserves a day to himself."

"Fair enough, Little Boss. Well, if I'm going to be working tomorrow then I'm going to turn in for the night. Don't stay up too late, boys."

After Nina left the fale to return to her accommodation, Khoren signalled that he was also going to retire for the night, thus leaving Feliks and Mateja in the lounge. With a couch now all to himself, Feliks stretched out on his side and propped up his head with one hand as he got himself comfortable. "So, did you ever get to go somewhere like this before?"

Mateja leaned forward, shaking his head. "Under the People's Republic, if you had the opportunity for a vacation then you had to go to a 'People's Resort' on the Adriatic or in the mountains. The Party didn't like people leaving the country if they could help it as foreign visits might result in harmful ideas being imported. Not that many of us could afford to go abroad even if we'd been allowed. At some point I'd like to bring my family here for a vacation, it's beautiful." He paused momentarily to take a drink from the glass bottle of Tongan-brewed lager that he had been imbibing. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you, and now seems as good as a time as any. How come someone with your wealth and influence is single? I've never seen you with anyone and you've never even mentioned anyone."

"How come you're single? You've never mentioned anyone from either the Federation or Yugoslavia."

Mateja chuckled as Feliks turned the question back on him. "That's a fair point. Since coming to the Marimaian Federation I've either been working for certain individuals or helping my family settle down, so I've had far more important things to do. I had quite a few one-night stands and the occasional casual girlfriend in the People's Republic but nothing serious, most women seemed to run a mile once they learned that I was part of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit."

Feliks gave him a sympathetic look. "More fool them, my Kapetan. They obviously couldn't handle how awesome you are."

"Probably more a case of not wanting to associate with someone who got his hands dirty for the regime, but I prefer your interpretation." Mateja downed some more of his lager and gestured towards Feliks with the bottle. "There you go, you have your answer. Now you answer the question since I did ask you first."

"Okay, okay. Since I know that I can trust you, what with you having killed for me and everything, I'll tell you." Feliks sat up and reached over to the coffee table, where Khoren had left him a cigarillo and a lighter. He took a moment to ignite the smokable and take a draw as he looked over at Mateja. "I find that relationships get boring really quickly. You have the initial fun but then the relationship settles into a routine and at that point, I just want to scream. When I get bored, I don't want to keep doing the thing that's boring me. I want to move on and do something else, but if you're in a relationship then you've got to keep the other person's feelings in mind, and that's way too much hassle. It's a shame in some ways because I really enjoy the physical side of things. Maybe I should just pay a guy to take care of my bedroom needs, it would make my life so much easier. No dating, no hassle, just fun when I need it."

Mateja noted Feliks' casual confirmation of something that he had suspected but saw no reason to make anything of it. "How much would that cost you over a year though...oh wait, look who I'm talking to."

"You laugh, but I bet that I could find someone to do it for only about fifty grand a year."

"Fifty thousand a year, just to sleep with you? Damn." Mateja snorted slightly and took another drink. "That's not bad. Are you going to offer the job to Khoren?"

Feliks chuckled. "You must be crazy, he'd snap me like a twig. You can always apply if you want to, though."

"Hmm." Mateja finished the bottle of lager and rose to his feet. "It wouldn't be my first time, so why the hell not?"

Feliks' eyes widened with genuine shock and he almost dropped his cigarillo at Mateja's response. "Wha...seriously?! You're messing with me, aren't you?" He took another draw on his cigarillo as Mateja cocked an eyebrow and slowly shook his head at him. "You're not messing with me. Okay then, you're on."


8 October 2021, 06:05hrs [UTC+13]
Shining Star Resort
Atata Island, Kingdom of Tonga

A quiet grunt followed by a loud yawn heralded Feliks' awakening, a process brought on by the streaming of the dawn's light through the cracks in the curtains of his fale's master bedroom. He blinked a few times to clear the sleep from his eyes as he lifted his head from the pillow, far too comfortable lying stretched out on his stomach beneath the duvet to want to move in any meaningful way. After another quiet grunt followed by briefly burying his face in the soft pillow, Feliks turned his head to face the right side of the bed to watch as the bed's other occupant continued to sleep. A particularly smug smile developed across Feliks' features as he quietly observed Mateja, the Serbian softly breathing and laying on his side as he had not yet awoken from his slumber. After a few moments of observation, Feliks leaned closer and lightly blew on Mateja's face, earning a response in the form of a low grunt that was shortly followed by Mateja opening his eyes.

"Morning, my Kapetan."

"Morning, Feliks." Mateja gave Feliks a broad grin as the cobwebs of sleep cleared from his mind. "So this brings me up to three hundred and fifty thousand a year, right?"

Feliks lifted himself up on his elbows, chuckling gleefully at Mateja's statement. "That's presumptuous of you, my Kapetan. I should really shop around before I agree to anything." The scowl and narrowed eyes that he received in response caused Feliks to laugh even more. "I'm joking, I'm joking! I'll add it to your list of duties. I already knew that you were badass and now I know that you're a machine as well. Now, this new duty of yours does mean that you can't go running around after anybody else. You're okay with that, yeah?"

"Of course." Mateja moved into a more upright position, reclining back against the headboard and looking down at Feliks. "This is convenient for me too, since you already know about the things that I did as part of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit and you rather like it."

"Exactly, my Kapetan. I know that I can rely on you to solve a problem if I have one. You're one of my partners in crime. Even more so now, since we kinda broke a Tongan law last night." Feliks' eyes gleamed as he revealed that piece of information, while Mateja simply rolled his eyes and sighed with amusement.

"Well, I won't tell them if you don't."

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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Fri Oct 29, 2021 11:56 am

22 October 2021, 12:00hrs [UTC+13]
Royal Palace
Nukuʻalofa, Kingdom of Tonga

While any official foreign enquiries to the Marimaian government regarding Feliks' presence in Tonga would be met with a simple 'the Vice-President is on vacation and deserves his privacy', it was of course the case that Feliks was laying the foundation for a closer relationship between the Marimaian Federation and the Kingdom of Tonga. Admittedly though, he was successfully managing to enjoy himself thanks to his penchant for scheming and his new arrangement with Mateja Čubrilović. Although male same-sex relations were illegal under Tongan law due to the considerable Christian influence in the kingdom's constitution, there had never actually been a conviction for consensual activity of that sort; this had not prevented Feliks from loving the fact that he was discreetly flouting the law of a nation that he was supposed to be wooing for his government. The fifteen days following King Fokisi's agreement to act as the Tongan partner for Festivala Resorts had seen a flurry of activity by the small Marimaian presence in the kingdom, which had been supplemented by the arrival of Festivala's newly appointed 'Manager of Tongan Operations'. Sandro Iarajuli was a thirty-five-year-old Georgian who would be left in charge of the corporation's interests in the kingdom once it was time for Feliks to return home, and so Sandro had been introduced to the Tupou dynasty and apprised of the various arrangements that had already been agreed upon. A graduate of the Caucasus School of Law in Tbilisi, Sandro was no stranger to the ways of the Marimaian corporate world and so he had not been surprised in the slightest that there was bribery involved in the Festivala-Tonga relationship; in truth, he would've been surprised if there hadn't been any. The assistance of the Tongan upper class proved to be an effective asset in Festivala's endeavours as the remaining four targeted resorts agreed to join the resort company's portfolio, in return for the current owners remaining as on-site managers. Of course, there was still the matter of contracts to be taken care of, but privately it was made abundantly clear by the Tongan royal family that such legal niceties could be fast-tracked.

In official governmental matters, the Kingdom of Tonga and the Marimaian Federation had both selected their soon-to-be ambassadors to each other, although the official announcement of their appointment had yet to take place. Nuku'alofa's ambassador to Tbilisi was to be Lord Anitelu Luani, the eldest son of Lord Luani, one of the hereditary nobles of the kingdom. The thirty-six-year-old Anitelu cut an imposing figure due to his six-foot-three muscular frame, long black hair, and styled facial hair, but his upbringing meant that he was well-versed in social etiquette. Tbilisi's ambassador to Nuku'alofa was to be Khansultan Kulayev, a forty-eight-year-old Chechen and an individual whose major defining features were undoubtedly his sharp mind and his loyalty to the Baibakov family. Five-feet-eleven with neatly styled greying-brown hair and designer stubble, Kulayev had risen through the ranks of the Federation's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had been promised an ambassadorial posting 'at the appropriate time' by Nikolai Vasilyev; the need to appoint an ambassador to the Kingdom of Tonga seemed precisely like the appropriate time. With the ambassadorial candidates finalised and Sandro Iarajuli assuming control of Festivala's day-to-day operations within the kingdom, it had been decided that it was finally time for an official announcement of the new relationship between the Marimaian Federation and the Kingdom of Tonga. To that end, the Tongan media had been invited to cover a press conference at the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa, along with a small group of Marimaian journalists who had been flown over to cover Feliks' first press conference since becoming a Vice-President of the Federation.

The press conference was organised to take place at the main entrance to the Royal Palace, taking advantage of the 28°C outdoor midday temperature. Two podiums were set up beneath the cover of the large porch that extended out from above the main entrance doors of the royal residence, while the seating for the journalists was set up on the other side of the access road that led to the palace. This established a certain degree of distance between the media and the individuals holding the press conference, reinforced by the presence of Royal Guard personnel flanking the porch. At precisely 12:00 hours, the main doors of the Royal Palace opened and King Fokisi strode out, dressed in his military-style black uniform that was adorned with a wide variety of medals; he was quickly followed by Feliks Baibakov, who was wearing the black suit and white shirt that he had worn during his first audience with the Tongan monarch. King Fokisi took up a position at the right-hand podium and gestured for Feliks to take the left-hand one, then turned his attention to the gathered journalists.

"I would like to begin by extending a warm welcome to my young friend Feliks Baibakov, Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation. As you are all undoubtedly aware, he has been vacationing here in the Kingdom of Tonga for nearly three weeks, but it must be admitted that it has been something of a working vacation. The two of us have had several constructive conversations during his time here, and you have been invited here this afternoon so that we can inform you of some interesting developments. Your Excellency?"

Feliks grinned broadly and nodded respectfully to the monarch. "Thank you, Your Majesty. I would like to begin by saying that the Kingdom of Tonga is truly a paradise, blessed with beautiful oceans and equally beautiful landscapes. I have been treated with the utmost respect and friendliness by the Tongan people and the Tongan government, and I would heartily encourage everyone to pay at least one visit to the Kingdom of Tonga in their lifetime. It is my honour and my privilege to announce this afternoon that a partnership is being formed between the Tongan government and Festivala Resorts, the largest and most successful resort company in the Marimaian Federation. Festivala is acquiring five resorts here in the Kingdom of Tonga as a first phase of establishing operations in this island paradise, and as the phrase, 'a first phase' would suggest, the company has further plans for a presence here in Tonga. Festivala Resorts will be seeking to invest not only in vacation resorts and facilities but also in transportation infrastructure. The Tongan staff of the resorts being acquired will have their jobs guaranteed and they will receive higher wages compared to their current pay; this is because they will be working for a large established company rather than independent individual operators.

"Festivala's presence in the Kingdom of Tonga will provide a long-needed boost to the tourism industry here, an industry that is currently rather under-developed. The company will engage in constant consultation with the Tongan government at all times, as any development of the Tongan tourism industry must take place with the guidance of the Tongan government. They know Tonga better than Festivala, so the Tongan government will be able to advise the company on investment ideas and infrastructure projects that will not only benefit Festivala but the Kingdom of Tonga as well. However, this partnership is not the only exciting development that can be announced this afternoon. Your Majesty?"

King Fokisi gave a brief nod of his head. "Thank you, Your Excellency. Following our discussions, it has been decided that the Kingdom of Tonga and the Marimaian Federation shall upgrade our diplomatic presence in our respective nations. I can announce this afternoon that the Kingdom of Tonga shall be opening a new embassy in the Marimaian capital of Tbilisi, and equally the Marimaian Federation shall be opening a new embassy here in Nuku'alofa. Our respective ambassadors shall be travelling to their new postings on the first of November. This exchange of ambassadors is the first step in the establishment of firm and strong relations between our two nations, nations that are often overlooked and dismissed by the great powers of the world. The Vice-President and I have discussed the possibilities for future cooperation between our nations on several endeavours, and the possibilities are extremely positive. The establishment of embassies is also a practical move as Festivala Resorts' partnership with our government will see many Marimaian visitors coming to the Kingdom of Tonga, and so it makes sense for them to have an official diplomatic mission here in case of emergencies.

"The Kingdom of Tonga is proud to appoint Lord Anitelu Luani as our ambassador to the Marimaian Federation. He is a fine young man who will represent his nation with dignity and respect, and I have the utmost confidence in him."

He gestured for Feliks to pick up the announcement. "The Marimaian Federation is proud to appoint Khansultan Kulayev as our ambassador to the Kingdom of Tonga. He is an experienced civil servant who has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years, and our government knows that he will represent us with the utmost professionalism." He paused for a moment and regarded the journalists with a warm smile. "His Majesty is correct when he stated that our two nations are often overlooked and dismissed by the great powers of the world. Well, I do not doubt at all that some of them will sit up and take notice of this new era in Marimaian-Tongan relations. Perhaps they will also realise that being a great power does not automatically grant them a priority with others. Your Majesty?"

King Fokisi smirked at Feliks' blatant jab at the larger powers of the planet. "Well said, Your Excellency. Well said. Now then, we have time for a few questions." He cast his gaze around as the journalists raised their hands, then pointed to a Tongan woman. "Yes, you."

She stood and turned her attention to Feliks. "Panisi Latu, Nuku'alofa Guardian. Your Excellency, does the timing of your visit have anything at all to do with the political situation in Eastern Europe? It seems to be quite a coincidence that you've come here with the Grand Duchy of Dacia recently voting to join the Apilonian Commonwealth."

Feliks met the question with a clear expression of amusement. "Oh, now that is an interesting question. I'll have to give you full marks for coming up with it. My visit to Tonga has nothing to do with the Apilonian Commonwealth or their movements. As I'm sure that you've noticed, the Marimaian Federation is becoming more actively engaged in a general global sense. For example, we secured an investment and cooperation agreement with the Republic of Cameroon just last month. At the start of this month, we finalised a special visa agreement with Tibet that will allow our Buddhist citizens to travel to the homeland of their faith more easily. The Kingdom of Tonga might be far away from the Marimaian Federation and might seem to be a strange choice for a potential friend, but that sort of friendship can often prove to be the strongest. Besides, I think that you're being a little disrespectful towards your nation by implying that I'm only here because of the Apilonians. The Kingdom of Tonga has a great deal to offer to the Marimaian Federation as a friend, and vice versa. We don't look down our noses at Tonga; instead, we look you square in the eye and treat you with the respect that this nation deserves."

That comment earned Feliks loud applause from the Marimaian media representatives, as well as the more pro-government of the Tongan journalists, while King Fokisi chuckled to himself as Panisi Latu took her seat once again.


22 October 2021, 09:00hrs [UTC+8]
Palace of the Republic
Nanjing, Nanfang Republic

The tallest building within the walled complex that comprised the Palace of the Republic, the six-storey Zichao House was both a Presidential residential building and a working government facility. Floors one and two were primarily administrative, with the Presidential Office situated on the second floor. Floor three was home to security offices and accommodation, while floors four to six were residential. The Cabinet meeting room was located on the second floor, a short distance from the Presidential Office, and it was currently in use as the weekly Friday morning Cabinet meeting was underway. Known as the Third Yang Government as President Yang Mingshu was currently in her third term of office, the cabinet was comprised of twenty-six ministers who worked diligently to ensure the continued prosperity of the Republic. Several ministers had played a part in President Yang's administration since her first term while others had filtered into the upper political echelons of the nation as existing ministers retired for a variety of reasons. They sat at a long lacquered conference table, thirteen ministers seated along each of the longer sides, while President Yang was positioned at the head of the table due to her leadership role; as the size of the table meant that those furthest from President Yang might struggle to be heard properly, microphones were available if any minister needed to use them. After everyone had taken their seats and settled down, President Yang began the meeting by bringing up the events that had taken place in Tonga a mere two hours beforehand.

"Good morning everybody. Now, we have a new item as the first order of business. Two hours ago, there was a press conference held at the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa, the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga. It would appear as though the Kingdom of Tonga and the Marimaian Federation are establishing stronger diplomatic ties as well as stronger economic ties." The fifty-nine-year-old peered over the rim of her spectacles at Minister for Foreign Affairs Huang Li before continuing. "We have sent two delegations to the Kingdom of Tonga in recent months in hopes of obtaining such a development for ourselves. Our delegations were greeted respectfully and the Tongan authorities sounded as though they were interested in developing our bilateral relationship. Now it would seem that Feliks Baibakov was able to waltz into Tonga and has achieved more in three weeks than our diplomatic corps has achieved in as many months. Minister Huang, what is your analysis of the situation?"

Huang Li swallowed quite visibly. The sixty-one-year-old possessed an almost stereotypical bureaucratic appearance and had been a cornerstone of President Yang's government since she first came to power, presiding over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for as long as Yang had been President. This fact did not make him exempt from scrutiny, however. "Madam President, the initial analysis from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that we approached the Tongans through official diplomatic channels and observed all necessary protocols. The only way that we can see for the Marimaians to have made such progress in such a small amount of time is if they resorted to bribery and considerable bribery at that. It is something that the Baibakovs are well known for, after all. We should also take note of the fact that they sent a Vice-President and an actual member of the Baibakov family to Tonga, whereas our delegations have been of a more technocratic bent. Civil servants and the like, initial contacts and meetings to establish a relationship that could then develop to the point of official visits from Nanfaren ministers."

"So what you're saying is, we played by the rules of conventional international diplomacy while the Marimaians bypassed those rules and bought their way in."

"Essentially yes, Madam President."

There was a brief pause that caused Huang Li a degree of consternation until President Yang began to laugh softly. "I must admit that I rather admire their shamelessness. President Fyodor Baibakov appoints his son as a second Vice-President, the first of course being his wife, then sends his son to the Kingdom of Tonga to establish a diplomatic relationship with the Tupou dynasty. I suppose it was the personal touch that did it. Of course, the question now becomes 'why Tonga?'. We were approaching them with ambitions of establishing a secure foothold in the South Pacific for the Shenzhen Pact, but what would the Marimaian Federation possibly get out of such a diplomatic relationship?"

"From the press conference, it's linked to economic interests and the global tourism industry."

President Yang 'hmmed' at that. "That may be what the official line is, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's more to it than that. In any event, while it is galling to be beaten to the punch by a player that was not even on our radar in this situation until a couple of weeks ago, ultimately it does not mean that the Kingdom of Tonga is suddenly off-limits to us. We will continue with our current approach to the Tongans as it would seem odd if we changed tactics after this. However, I would like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to upgrade the Marimaian Federation in terms of our level of interest in their nation."

"Of course, Madam President."

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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Tue Nov 09, 2021 12:20 pm

24 October 2021, 08:30hrs [UTC+13]
Shining Star Resort
Atata Island, Kingdom of Tonga

Sundays were always quiet in the Kingdom of Tonga. The nation's constitution clearly stated that 'no trade or professional or commercial undertakings are to be pursued' on the Sabbath, a reflection of the strength of the Christian identity that had arisen in the kingdom following the efforts of missionaries in the 19th century. Over the years there had been the occasional exception provided but only for specific jobs under specific circumstances. As a result, Shining Star Resort operated with a skeleton crew on Sundays, with Marinho Paiva acting as a member of frontline staff to ensure as smooth a day as possible. The now-onsite manager of the resort was therefore grateful that Feliks and his party had requested a room service breakfast to be delivered to Feliks' fale 'whenever was convenient', as they were planning on a quiet day as well. Feliks, Khoren, and Mateja Čubrilović now sat in the lounge area of Feliks' accommodation, casually eating their breakfast while engaging in conversation. At least, Feliks and Mateja were engaging in conversation, as Khoren proved to be as quiet as always.

"It's a little weird not having Lieutenant Volkov around this morning, don't you think?"

Mateja looked up from his 'island breakfast' (sausage, bacon, taro hash, poached eggs, baked beans, grilled tomato, cheese, and toast) to respond to Feliks' idle query. "A little, I suppose. Then again, we do seem to be winding things down here so it makes sense that she's gone back home."

Feliks wagged a finger. "I wouldn't say that we're winding things down, my Kapetan. More like...transitioning to a more permanent staffing arrangement." He took a bite of the jam-covered toast that comprised part of his continental breakfast, providing a brief pause before he continued. "Lieutenant Volkov isn't required here any longer now that we've secured the hearts, minds, and wallets of the Tongans, and I think that Colonel General Petrosyan has something for her to do. I did put in a recommendation for her to receive a commendation or a promotion though, she's done some fabulous work for me." Feliks chuckled to himself. "You know, there was a time when I thought that you and her might possibly hook up."

Mateja shook his head and snorted slightly. "I don't really like the idea of sleeping with someone who could potentially sleep with anyone in the course of their duties. I mean yes, okay, she's attractive, but not someone that I'd consider. Especially not now." He winked at Feliks, who playfully blew a kiss at him. "So any idea about when we'll be heading back to the Federation?"

"Probably in another week or so. Khansultan will be arriving on the first of November and King Fokisi wants to hold a banquet to formally welcome him as the first-ever Marimaian ambassador to Tonga, and His Majesty has invited me to attend as well. It'll allow me to make some introductions and smooth out the path ahead. I've been chatting to Papa about a few ideas and there's one that he's really keen on, so I've secured an invitation to the banquet for Nicat Aslanov. He's one of our long-time cronies and among his various business ventures, he's the owner of the Krasnaya Media Group so he's got a few newspapers and a radio station. I mentioned to Papa about the media situation here in Tonga and we think that Nicat might be able to help."

"You mean how the media can't be owned by the nobility or the royals?" Mateja smirked as he realised Feliks' scheme. "You're going to have Nicat Aslanov buy some of the media here in Tonga."

Feliks grinned gleefully. "Bingo! If our own media group started buying up Tongan media outlets then it would be way too obvious to everyone that we were up to something. Now admittedly, Nicat doing it is probably going to be just as obvious to the likes of the Apilonians and whoever, but it allows us to officially say that the Baibakov family is not acquiring any media outlets in the Kingdom of Tonga. If Nicat goes on a bit of a shopping spree then the Tongan upper class won't have to worry about media scrutiny to the extent that they currently do. His Majesty told me that the Legislative Assembly can veto foreign acquisitions of Tongan media 'if such acquisitions could prove to be a risk to Tongan national security or sovereignty', but I think that he could get the Assembly's support for Nicat with a bit of nudging. I mean, the majority of Assembly Members are elected by the nobility."

"It should be pretty straightforward then."

"Uh-huh." Feliks took a sip of his tea and sighed. "You know, I love the fact that I'm a Vice-President but when we get back home I've got a to-do list as long as my arm. For example, I've got to start appointing a Secretariat for myself. A Head, a Deputy Head, and Assistants. Civil servants, experts, that sort of thing. I also need to decide if I'm going to go ahead with that idea of you heading up a special forces squad of my very own."

"Well, you could always delegate. You concentrate on appointing your Secretariat while I look into the feasibility of creating a mini version of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit for you, I mean that is essentially what you're after. More of a police tactical unit than a military special forces unit, but there's a lot of common ground between the two."

"Sounds like you've volunteered, my Kapetan." Feliks grinned at Mateja. "You're way more knowledgeable in that field than I am anyway."

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The Kingdom of Apilonia
Posts: 148
Founded: Feb 10, 2020
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Mon Nov 15, 2021 7:38 am

His Royal Highness The Prince of Cascadia
HMY Apilonia, Papeete Bay
Republic of Polynesia
Friday 29th October 2021, 0900hrs Local Time

His Majesty’s Yacht Apilonia looked resplendent, which was of course the intention, as it sat at anchor in Papeete Bay, just off-shore from the Republic of Polynesia, the largest and most prosperous of the former Apilonian colonial possessions in the Pacific Ocean that it was courting. The Apilonia had been in service for almost two decades by this point, having been built shortly after the end of the Terror, as Apilonia was reborn on the international stage, and had been designed specifically to represent both the traditional designs of her predecessors, with the traditional red hull, naval blue topsides and white superstructure cutting a very fine line wherever she was found, whilst also on a scale designed to impress, at a 150 meters in length. Build to naval survivability standards, these were well hidden behind and internal design entirely suitable for a Royal Yacht, including an opulent central foyer and sizeable ballroom, complete with glass dome adding a regal flourish, as well as all the modern refinements and capabilities that one would expect. As such, despite being over twenty years old, the Apilonia rivalled the size and scale of even the newest super yachts, and deliberately so.

The Apilonia had a storied career of rebuilding Apilonian foreign policy in the twenty-first century, carrying royalty and ministers from successive governments all over the world as they rehabilitated Apilonia’s somewhat bruised and tarnished reputation internationally after the decades-long crisis of confidence that resulted in the Kingdom’s sometimes chaotic withdrawal from it’s colonial Empire. It would not be an outrageous assertion to say that it had been the Apilonia, and the diplomatic missions she had embarked upon, that had enabled the Kingdom to restore or develop positive relations with former colonies and bring about the diplomatic masterstroke that was the Commonwealth. It was a clear and deliberate reminder of the Kingdom’s power, majesty, and enduring influence, and whilst some (mostly the Socialist Collective in Parliament, and occasionally some members of the Liberal Party) decried it as an extravagance, its results spoke for themselves, and numerous studies heavily suggested that the ship had more than paid for itself over the years in terms of the trade deals and other agreements that had been negotiated or signed aboard, as a result of her influence; as that had been her other main role, showcasing the best of Apilonian business to encourage and develop trade.

As such, when the Foreign Office had identified a need to move forwards quicker with the ‘Pacific Island Project’, as it was informally known within the halls of Kingsley House, it had been a no-brainer that the Apilonia would be at the forefront of that effort. The Royal Yacht had already spent a great deal of time visiting the various former colonial possessions of the Kingdom all over the Pacific, being uniquely suited for visiting island nations, and she was well known, and well-liked by the foreign ministers and their staff of the half dozen former colonies that Apilonia was working on bringing back into the fold. The Kingdom had invited delegations from Micronesia, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Polynesia, to join the Prince of Cascadia, representing the King, and the Foreign Secretary, The Right Honourable Russell S. Templeton, for a summit aboard the Apilonia, anchored just off the Polynesian capital of Papeete. All four had quickly accepted, and the arrangements were made. The Apilonia sailed from it’s normal berth at the Kitsap Naval Base, accompanied by the Type-23 guided missile frigate Stockton, which provided area security for the heir to the Apilonian throne, but was positioned offshore for reasons of optics.

The Prince of Cascadia, who had by far gotten the most use out of the Royal Yacht due to his father’s advanced years ill-suited for regular life at sea any more, had a special relationship with the vessel and its ship’s company, all drawn from the wider Royal Navy, of which the Apilonia was it’s most prestigious assignment. The Navy, which had fought tooth-and-nail, to get the yacht built, successfully fending off arguments that Apilonia One, the VC-25A of the Royal Air Force when carrying the King (or Apilonia Two, when carrying any other member of the Royal Family), was more than sufficient for the travel needs of the Monarch, was fiercely proud of the Apilonia, and her crew were almost obsessive in their efforts to keep the ship exceptionally well-presented, and to ensure that all guests thoroughly enjoyed their stay aboard. For the Prince, and indeed the King, both of whom had enjoyed careers in the Navy prior to shouldering their Royal duties more squarely, it was a bittersweet return to their early lifestyle, and both men would be the first to say that they were often their happiest aboard the Royal Yacht.

On this occasion, however, the Prince was all business. For most of the past few weeks the Foreign Office had been making concerned sounds about the Marimaian involvement on Tonga, and this had been borne out a week previously when heavy involvement by Festivala Resorts was joined by the exchange of diplomatic representatives. Although there was no direct evidence, it had become the de facto assumption within the Foreign Office and the Apilonian intelligence community, that the Marimaians had eschewed the conventional rules of diplomacy and effectively bought their way into the Tongan’s good graces. As such, if any foreign involvement in the Pacific was a cause for concern, in the Apilonian Government’s eyes, such underhanded methods were deeply concerning to say the least. It was an assumption that was shared by the governments of the other four Pacific island nations being courted by Apilonia, who saw the potential tendrils of foreign corruption as an existential threat to their fledgling democracies. It would, the Foreign Office believed was their general consensus, be better for them to join back up with Apilonia, as equals, than be corrupted by a more distant, and unfamiliar, power.

The Prince had invited the four delegations aboard the Apilonia for breakfast, prepared by the expert chefs stationed about the royal yacht, to discuss the growing concerns shared by the group. Once they had finished breakfast, each to the personal preferences of the individual guests, the Prince leant back in his chair.

“My friends, it is clear from our discussions over the past few weeks that you share my concerns over the expansion of Marimaian corruption into the Pacific, that if they gain a foothold they will continue to expand their influence, potentially to your own domains,” The Prince commented. “It is no secret that we both share our concerns about the expansion of Nanfang imperialism more broadly, but this encroachment by a corrupt power, far more remotely than either Apilonia or Nanfang, represents a different and unique threat.”

“Indeed, where the threat posed by Nanfang, and its Pact, represents a long-term geopolitical threat, one that will require grand strategy to properly oppose and contain, the threat posed by Marimaia is a far more insidious one, one that will be harder for us to contain with the traditional measures of alliances, mutual defence pacts, and military co-operation. It is, however, perhaps fortuitous, that your four nations all share a common history with Apilonia, and each other, and that we have all been in discussions on how we can evolve our shared relationship, out of the old days of colonial imbalance and into the modern ideal of equal coexistence. In light of recent developments, this could not have come at a better time.”

“What are you proposing, exactly, Your Royal Highness?” The Delegate from Polynesia asked, leaning forwards over the remains of their breakfasts. “We’ve talked a lot of abstracts up until now, but these developments make clear that we need specifics.”

The Prince smiled slightly, fortunately the Kingdom had not been idle whilst the abstract conversations had continued.

“His Majesty’s Government would like to make the following offer to each of your nation-states, on entirely equal terms with each other you would each be peacefully and consensually annexed into the Kingdom, however rather than being compelled to accept an unequal position as a colony, you would instead enjoy an equal position within the Kingdom as an Apilonian Overseas Territory,” The Prince replied. “In this respect, you would enjoy similar rights, privileges, and protections as the existing Apilonian Overseas Territories such as Malta, meaning that you would be entitled to representation within the Apilonian Parliament, your people would be full Apilonian Citizens, and would, therefore, also benefit from the wider advantages of being part of the Commonwealth Family we have been building.”

The Prince paused for a moment to let the offer sink in; no one around the table needed it made any more clear that this offer was both incredibly generous and a dramatic improvement over the relationship they had all contended with Apilonia in their years as an Apilonian Crown Colony. Moreover, none of them needed it explained to them the ways in which the standard of living for their people, as well as the economic growth it would encourage, as fully-fledged parts of the Kingdom, much less the added bonus provided by the Commonwealth. In one swoop it would transform them from isolated, vulnerable, and with limited prospects into connected and protected entities, with prospects that would not only reach into Apilonia but as far afield as Europe. This was without the unspoken knowledge that each of their islands would be strategically advantageous, which was almost certain to attract significant investment by the Royal Apilonian Military, which alone would do wonders for the local economies.

“That is very gracious, Your Royal Highness,” The Delegate from Micronesia commented, as the other delegates nodded their agreement as they exchanged glances at each other to judge their positions. “Had such an arrangement been possible at the end of the Colonial Period… things may have been different.”

“We’ve heard that a lot,” The Prince admitted with a sigh. “Apilonia missed a lot of chances in those days… we want to fix those mistakes.”

“We’ve got much to discuss, may we impose on your dining room, Your Royal Highness, we must liaise with our Governments,” The Delegate from Tuvalu replied. “I’m sure you appreciate that we would prefer to give you a unified answer, than a piecemeal one.”

“Of course,” The Prince nodded. “Take all the time you need, I’ll be around if you need me.”

After taking his leave, the Prince returned to his cabin, deciding to make use of the time to go over his Daily Brief, which was the same as that which was received by father due to his status as the heir to the throne. In the end, only about three hours passed before a naval rating, immaculately turned out as all aboard the Royal Yacht were, reported to him that the Pacific Island Delegations had requested that he join them at his convenience. Hurrying back down to the dining room, in the manner long perfected by professional naval officers of moving quickly through the ship without appearing to do so, it was not long before he was sat back at the table looking expectantly at the delegates.

As had been hoped by many within the Apilonian Establishment all four delegates confirmed that they had spoken to their respective Governments and all four had been authorised to accept the offer of His Majesty’s Government for voluntary annexation and integration as Apilonian Overseas Territories. As had been the case in all recent Apilonian territorial expansions, and for all applications for Commonwealth membership, the decisions of the Governments would have to be confirmed by a public vote, however given the small size of each island-nation it would not take long to arrange and conduct. Indeed, the delegates were optimistic that something could be arranged by the end of the year, allowing all four islands to join the Kingdom on New Years Day 2022. This was entirely acceptable to the Apilonian Government, and the Prince was able to confirm as much almost immediately, having discussed the matter at length with the appropriate individuals, not the least of which was the King, who even under the constitutional monarchy of the modern Kingdom was the final arbiter of territorial expansions and the rights and responsibilities of various territories.

With a basic agreement reached, the Prince and the four delegates agreed to hold a press conference for that evening, which would be broadcast on each of the four islands own networks and, of course, the Apilonian Broadcasting Corporation, the Kingdom’s public sector broadcaster, and other networks, which would give the news a global reach. There would be nothing particularly surprising in the announcement, except perhaps the lengths to which Apilonia was prepared to go to fix the mistakes of the past, but if that had not yet been clear over the developments of the past few years the example of a handful of islands in the pacific would not exactly make a difference, but it once again underlined Apilonia’s commitments to that goal for anyone that had been paying attention.
The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Thu Nov 18, 2021 2:30 pm

4 November 2021, 17:30hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

"Welcome home, my boy!"

Feliks braced himself for what was sure to be an unbreakable bear hug from his father, and he was not proven wrong as Fyodor threw his arms around his son and lifted him off the ground in a display of undiluted parental affection; Mateja looked on with no small amount of amusement while Khoren's reaction consisted of a briefly raised eyebrow. Tbilisi-Two had touched down at Demyan Baibakov International Airport at just after 16:50hrs, and Feliks and his two cohorts had then been whisked to the Presidential residence via limousine; the young Vice-President had headed directly to the family lounge to see his parents, having been away for a month handling the Marimaian intrigues in the Kingdom of Tonga. He laughed as Fyodor spun him around before gently setting him back down on his feet.

"Good to be home, Papa." He paused to hug Zahra as Fyodor stepped aside to allow her to embrace their son, then grinned happily at his parents. "So, did I miss anything while I was away?"

"Not at all. Unless you count your father's worrying as something to be missed, of course." Zahra smirked at Feliks as she indicated towards Fyodor with a nod of her head. "That's all I had from him. It's been 'do you think he's okay, how do you think they're treating him', and so on. I, on the other hand, had the utmost faith that you wouldn't have any trouble whatsoever."

Fyodor chuckled and wagged his finger. "You know that she's lying, don't you? She was the worrying one. I always knew that the Baibakov family charm would see you through." He gave Feliks a hearty slap on the shoulder and gestured to the couch. "Come, tell your parents about your adventures over a drink! Khoren and the Kapetan can have one too, come on, everybody drinks!"

Zahra took her usual spot on the couch opposite Fyodor's favourite armchair, with Feliks sitting next to her as always and then Mateja occupying the end seat of the couch. For his part, Khoren simply took up position standing behind Feliks. Fyodor busied himself in the ornate drinks cabinet of the lounge, retrieving five champagne glasses and setting them on a silver tray so that he could carry them to the coffee table. Once the glasses were safely placed, he returned to the refrigerated section of the cabinet and brought out a bottle of shampanskoye, popping the cork and chuckling as he poured the bubbling contents of the bottle into the glasses. After making sure that everyone had a glass, Fyodor sat in his armchair and leaned forward, tapping the bottom of the glass on the table.

"To you, my boy!"

The five all took a drink from their glasses and Fyodor settled back in his seat, beaming with pride. "You're the talk of the Federation, my boy. The media have been reporting about your 'undoubted diplomatic talents' and how your charm 'allows you to mingle with working man, celebrity, and monarch alike'. Oh yes, how did things go at that banquet?"

"Couldn't have gone better, Papa. Khansultan made a good impression on King Fokisi and the other Tongan royals so we shouldn't have any issues there. His Majesty was also very interested in what Nicat had to say about the Tongan media, so we could have some developments on that front fairly soon. Especially now that the Apilonians have reacted."

Fyodor nodded at his son's statement. "Yes, that was quite something. Of course, officially their recent announcement has nothing to do with us, but we know full well that it actually does. Ultimately it doesn't harm our plans one iota so let them have their conveniently timed revelations. It just reinforces the Kingdom of Tonga's claim to be the last independent indigenous monarchy in the South Pacific."

"It also means that the Nanfang Republic won't have any other 'free agents' to talk to in the South Pacific, assuming that they do want to establish their own foothold in the area. They'll have to talk to the Tongans and us." Zahra took a sip from her glass and smiled at Feliks. "We might not have anticipated a reaction quite so definitive as the one that we received from the Apilonians, but it's not a problem because it makes our little scheme more likely to succeed. It also shows that they're concerned about us." She looked back at her husband. "I don't know about anybody else, but I think that's rather flattering."

"Uh-huh. So are we going to acknowledge the Apilonian move or not?"

Fyodor shook his head in response to Feliks' question. "No, there's no need. It doesn't hurt us. As I say, let them think that they've scored a victory. The truth is that we were never playing on that field in the first place, we had no designs on the other island nations in the region, after all. Now then, my boy, what are your plans now that you're home once again?"

Feliks tilted his head slightly in thought. "Probably sleep in tomorrow, and then I need to get started on building my Secretariat. Since you both have one, any particular advice on who or what I'd want?"

"A media officer is always a good idea, a glorified spin doctor. You already have the support of the party and government spin doctors but there's no harm in having one for yourself. You'll also want a private secretary to handle your diary as you're going to have various government engagements as well as personal ones, in addition to meetings with groups and individuals who want to bend your ear about whatever they're interested in. Aside from those two, go with an expert in anything that you have a particular interest in. Oh, and most important of all, choose a Head of the Secretariat that you can rely on and trust. You'll want someone who has experience of authority as they'll be responsible for keeping the others in line."

Feliks nodded as his mother finished. "Makes sense. What do I have a particular interest in though?"

"Charity and refugees from fallen regimes. I would say 'collecting employees' but that's not really something that you need any advice about." Mateja smirked as Feliks lightly slapped him on the arm. "I'm just offering an opinion, you yourself said that this nation often gets at least some refugees whenever a long-time regime falls."

Feliks regarded the Serbian with a discerning eye. "You might be on to something there, my Kapetan." He then turned his attention back to his parents. "My Secretariat could be comprised of people who have either come here from fallen regimes or people whose families came here in the past for the same reason. It could highlight the fact that you don't have to be born a Marimaian citizen to achieve something here. I could even widen Progress' remit to include the 'displaced' of other nations who come here. Yeah...yeah, this could be good."

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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:43 pm

7 November 2021, 20:30hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

Anyone who passed the door of Avlabari Palace's underground gym would be forgiven for thinking that the noise emanating from within was the sound of battle, because in a way that was precisely what the noise was. Feliks had proven to be a man of his word and had organised a rotation of sparring partners for Mateja Čubrilović to engage with, as the Serbian's exercise regime called for Sundays to involve combat training. As Mateja had been more used to sparring with fellow members of the S.A.T.U. in Yugoslavia and found a punching bag to not be up to the same level, his employer had spoken to Major General Pyotr Kovalev, the commanding officer of the Marimaian Federation's Presidential Guard. Officially tasked with providing security for all buildings of 'federal significance', the Presidential Guard were a 2,500-strong elite military unit that was actually tasked with defending the Baibakov family and their regime. Major General Kovalev had been rather amused by Feliks' request for members of the Presidential Guard to act as sparring partners for 'his Kapetan' and had agreed to it with barely any hesitation. He was now rather glad that the entire arrangement was out of the public eye because Mateja had yet to lose to a Presidential Guardsman, providing Kovalev with a degree of humility as he had believed that Presidential Guardsmen would have no problem handling the former anti-terrorist officer. This Sunday evening was proving to be no exception as Mateja, and Private Desya Lebedev on this occasion, circled each other between strikes, both stripped to the waist with their hands and bare feet taped up. Feliks sat on one of the benches that ran along the northern wall of the gym, cheering Mateja on with considerable glee, while Khoren stood impassively to the side of the door.

"Come on, my Kapetan! Stop toying with him!"

As Private Lebedev attempted to rush him, Mateja dropped to the floor and captured the young Guardsman with a drop toe hold that brought him crashing to the mat; this gave the Serbian an opportunity to wrap his legs around Lebedev's right leg and ensnare him in an ankle lock, twisting the ankle anti-clockwise unless Lebedev slapped the mat to signify his submission. Feliks jumped to his feet and applauded happily as Mateja released the hold and helped Lebedev to his feet, shaking his hand before the Guardsman gingerly made his way out of the gym. Once Lebedev had left, Feliks practically bounced over to his beloved employee.

"Such a badass as always, my Kapetan. I'm so proud of you!" He laughed and gently bit his lip as he reached out and patted Mateja's left pectoral. "Very proud of you."

Mateja chuckled and flexed his pectoral muscle as Feliks patted it. "Glad you enjoyed the show, Feliks. These guys aren't easy but I like it that way, keeps me on my toes. All the same, I could do with a quick break." The pair headed over to the bench and sat next to each other, Mateja taking a moment to wipe some of the sweat and blood from himself before taking a drink from his water bottle. "Just think, roughly a year ago the People's Republic was at war with the Apilonians and their Commonwealth lackeys. If you'd told me back then where I'd be now, I would've never believed it."

"Well, I'm glad that fate brought you to the Federation, or whatever it was. Now then, there's something I want to talk to you about before tomorrow. I know that I'll be seeing you in my bedroom later but we'll have far more entertaining things to do than talk business."

Feliks' comment brought a smile to Mateja's lips. "So what's on your mind?"

"It's about that idea of mine regarding the formation of my own special unit. I know that you were planning to start looking at the feasibility of the idea tomorrow, so I thought you'd appreciate it if I told you that there's no need." Feliks paused as he signalled to Khoren for a cigarillo, only continuing once he had taken a draw on the provided lit smokable. "When I first mentioned it to you way back when we had the Filipović situation, I did say that I didn't really need such a unit. It was more being able to pick up the phone and have a troublemaker taken out on a moment's notice, and I didn't want to keep badgering the FSS to perform actions on behalf of the President's son. Of course, I actually have an official government position now. If I want to have a troublemaker taken out on a moment's notice, it's my prerogative as Vice-President to call the FSS for such a task."

"That makes sense. No need to establish your own unit if your position allows you to use established units and agencies. It's probably a good thing actually, I'd given it some initial thought and establishing your own unit would've required a great deal of time, energy, and money. You'd have needed facilities, equipment, and vehicles. Then there's the issue of how large it would be, recruitment criteria, the training regimen, how much they'd be paid, and so on." Mateja took another drink of water. "I suspect that all of that money would have to come out of your own personal fortune rather than from any Vice-Presidential budget that you have access to and it would be expensive, to say the least."

Feliks nodded and gestured towards Mateja with his cigarillo. "Even more reason to can the idea. I mean it was a nice idea, don't get me wrong, but far too much hassle for an ultimately unnecessary project. I know that I can be rather free with my money sometimes but I'm not that wasteful." The Vice-President inched closer to Mateja. "Besides, my Kapetan, I have something else in mind for you and your many, many talents."


"Mama said that I should find someone that I can rely on and trust to be the Head of my Secretariat. Someone with experience of authority. I can rely on you and I trust you, and you were an officer so you've certainly got experience of authority. So, I'd like you to be the Head of my Secretariat."

Mateja furrowed his brow and looked at Feliks with some confusion. "I'm not really the administrative or bureaucratic type, Feliks. Are you sure that there's nobody more qualified?"

Feliks waved his hand dismissively. "I'm not looking for somebody like that, my Kapetan. I'm looking for somebody who can keep others in line. Not that I'd have anyone in my Secretariat who wasn't completely loyal in the first place, admittedly. Rather than an administrator or a bureaucrat, the Head of my Secretariat will be more like an enforcer of my decisions. I can't think of anybody better suited for it." He then grinned cheekily. "Besides, if you take the job then I will still pay you three hundred and fifty thousand a year. It's just that I'll be able to get about a hundred grand of that out of the Vice-Presidential budget."

Mateja considered Feliks' proposal for a few moments before turning to him with a smile. "Well, I suppose it is about time that we nailed down an official role for me, isn't it? No longer bodyguard number two, now Head of your Secretariat. Heh, as I said earlier, a year ago I never would've seen myself in this position. Would this mean that I'll be travelling with you on foreign trips and the like in a completely official capacity?"

"Oh, absolutely! I couldn't go anywhere without the Head of my Secretariat."

"What happens if the Apilonians, or Austrians, or whoever, get uppity about the Head of your Secretariat being a former anti-terrorist officer of the People's Republic of Yugoslavia?"

Feliks shrugged. "They're uppity about us anyway, and I really wouldn't give a damn if they complained. The Apilonians don't do business with us so it's not as if I'd ever visit any member of their Commonwealth. If I'm ever at an international thing somewhere and any Apilonian or Commonwealth delegation takes exception to your presence, then that's their problem. The full weight of the Marimaian government would be brought to bear against anybody who tries to harass you because of what you used to do, as you're a Marimaian citizen now."

"Good point. Quick question, does this mean that I'm going to be helping you decide the rest of your Secretariat?"

"Well, the final decision will be mine obviously, but if you have any suggestions then I'll happily listen."

"Okay, good." Mateja then pointed towards Khoren. "I suggest recruiting Khoren as an official 'security advisor' or something like that."

Feliks grinned broadly and nodded. "That's my intention. You see, my Kapetan?" He gestured back and forth between himself and Mateja. "You know the way I think. Yet another reason for you to have the position."

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The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Tue Nov 30, 2021 1:25 am

Vice Admiral Sir Fergus T. Keswick, KCS
Papeete, Tahiti
Republic of Polynesia
Monday 29th November 2021, 0900hrs Local Time

Although technically still subject to a confirmatory public vote, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion within the upper echelons of the Polynesian and Apilonian governments that Polynesia, and the other three former Apilonian colonies, would become part of the Kingdom on New Years Day, a little over a month away. As such, preparations were already well underway behind the scenes to prepare for such a transition; although the small size of each island nation would limit the sheer amount of effort required it was nevertheless better to get the process started to ensure as smooth a process as possible. As a result, there were a number of working groups on each of the islands, in which representatives from the various Ministries of State discussed matters and planned the transition with their opposite number. Some matters would be more immediate and direct, such as the integration of the new overseas territories into the responsibilities of Apilonian law enforcement, whilst others would come into play over a longer period, such as ensuring that Apilonian legal standards and citizen protections were maintained. It was fortunate that all four island nations had continued to base their system on the Apilonian model, as well as Apilonian common and criminal law, as it dramatically simplified matters.

Less obvious to the majority of the public, but of particular interest to both the Kingdom and the Commonwealth as a whole from a geostrategic perspective, was the utility of Polynesia, and the other island nations, as naval waystations; a role that they had played for hundreds of years as Apilonian colonies. Indeed, even in the past few decades although the shoreside facilities had been removed for reasons of optics, Apilonian naval warships had regularly visited all over the island nations, often to take on supplies. Even during the chaotic Retreat from Empire, and the Crisis of Confidence era that had followed, the Admiralty had maintained the Royal Navy’s role at the forefront of defence diplomacy, and it was largely these close links that had allowed the current situation to develop so smoothly and quickly as Apilonia returned fully to it’s role as a great power. Moreover, with the continuing potential for tensions with the likes of the Shenzhen Pact, and the possibility that their homes could be taken over by a hostile, expansionist power, all four island nations had been more than prepared to host naval stations now that they were returning to the fold as Apilonian overseas territories.

For Vice Admiral Sir Fergus T. Keswick this could not have come at a better time.

As Flag Officer, Western Pacific, Vice Admiral Keswick was responsible for millions of square miles of the western and southern Pacific Ocean, which included the likes of New Zealand, the Philippine Sea and, now, the four new soon-to-be Apilonian Overseas Territories, which arguably brought it almost on par with his counterpart, the Flag Officer, Eastern Pacific, who was responsible for the eastern and northern Pacific, including the approaches to continental Apilonia. Moreover, his command was geographically closer to the Kingdom’s rivals in the Nanfang Republic, which was part of the reason why his command maintained between fifty and sixty warships as an establishment, including at least one carrier strike group and, usually, the Amphibious Warfare Group. However, the biggest challenge that had faced every officer to hold his position in the last two decades as Apilonia reasserted its traditional naval dominance over the Pacific, was the fact that most of its ships had been based in the Kingdom and required to transit to their area of operations. For larger ships, like frigates and destroyers, this had not been too much of an issue, but for patrol vessels this had been problematic to say the least. As a result, the former had ended up being tied down on duties that would be better suited for the latter, and although the former Pacific colonies had enabled regular resupply, any sort of repairs had required a transit home due to the lack of shore facilities.

As such, the opportunity to establish shore facilities in each of the four new overseas territories would not only allow the Admiralty to forward-station patrol vessels, with pairs being planned for each of the overseas territories, but also to enable maintenance periods and emergency repairs to be conducted without a long transit back to the Kingdom, both for patrol vessels and for larger ships. It was something that Keswick, and his predecessors, had been begging the Admiralty for over the years, and it was a significant relief to know that it was now going to happen. As a result, as soon as it was possible, Keswick and several members of his staff had arranged to fly out to visit the sites themselves.

Based on initial reports, much of the physical harbour berths build in the last century were still intact, although a full engineering assessment would be needed it did not appear that the wharfs would need to be repaired or upgraded, meaning that only the support infrastructure would need to be upgraded to modern standards. As it stood the plan was to establish a full (if relatively small) naval station at Papeete, which would bring not only at least two patrol vessels, the possibility for a frigate to be forward-stationed, and a modest support staff to the base, with the associated benefits to the local economy. Indeed, there was some not insignificant discussions being have with the consideration of moving the headquarters of Flag Officer, Western Pacific, from its current home in San Diego to what would soon be HM Naval Station Papeete. More broadly, the other three overseas territories would receive a Naval Support Activity, a smaller but still capable version of the facility that was being envisioned on Tahiti. These four bases, and in particular the naval station, would dramatically increase the ability of the Royal Navy to support its operations in-theatre, rather than requiring support by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary or long transits back to the Kingdom.

Not only would these four installations secure the physical security of the four overseas territories, and their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones, but it would significantly boost the local economies and provide a real and tangible benefit to the four island nations after returning to the Kingdom. And that was even before the advantages of being part of the Kingdom, and the wider Commonwealth, were taken into consideration. From a naval perspective it would reduce a number of headaches to say the least; two Mississippi-Class patrol vessels stationed in each of the new Overseas Territories would be more than sufficient, and would allow the frigates and destroyers to be more proactively deployed. It would also ensure that as the Royal Navy progressed through its Future Frigate Programme, which would see the replacement of the capable but ageing Type-23 with both the Type-26, in the high-end escort role, and the Type-31, in the general purpose escort role, it would be able to adapt to the capabilities of these ships. Based on initial reports, it would not be outside the realms of possibility for Type-31 frigates to also be forward-deployed, which would serve as a significant force multiplier in a competitive part of the world.

“This will do wonders for us,” Keswick commented, looking along the wharf and making a quick mental calculation of the ships that could be alongside at any given time, knowing he’d receive a formal estimate later in the day. “And remove many a headache.”

“Yes, Sir, it will at that,” Captain Hermione S. Edison, his Chief of Staff, and who had handled the majority of those headaches over their time together on the West Pacific Station, agreed with feeling. “The logistical relief alone will be more than worth the investment.”

Keswick nodded his agreement; although the Royal Fleet Auxiliary had done exceptional work over the past couple of decades ensuring that ships deployed to the West Pacific were kept supplied at sea, as they did all over the globe, he knew that co-ordinating such replenishments-at-sea were less than ideal, and the sheer size and scale of the Royal Navy’s operations in the Pacific meant that the RFA, despite its size, was stretched thin elsewhere.

“We’ll need to make sure these facilities are adequately protected,” Commander Zacharias Greaves, Operations Officer for Flag Officer, Western pacific, commented wryly. “We’ll certainly need MPAs stationed at each of them, and probably some shore batteries as well as I doubt we can expect the RAF to station strike fighters here.”

“We’ll make sure you get your protection, Zach, my initial thought is that our priority ought to be to detect them early so we can sink them early, and I intend to submit my joint support requests to Permanent Joint Headquarters with that in mind,” Keswick replied with a wry smile. “Based on some initial discussions with our esteemed cousins in the RAF, their thinking is that they would establish an airbase within each Overseas Territory, both as a stopping-off point for flights to New Zealand, but also to facilitate a build-up if required, and a standing force of Nimrods, as they predicted our likely needs.”

“The RAF being thoughtful for a change, who would have thought,” Captan Edison laughed. “Maybe we truly are in the age of joint operations!”

Keswick could not help but smile at this operations officer, relations between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force were traditionally frosty as a matter of course. The reason for this was simple enough; although the Apilonian Army would be needed to actually take and hold territory, the Navy and the Air Force competed to be at the forefront of the Kingdom’s global strike capability in addition to their core trade protection and air defence roles. Both services had something to bring to the table, and by the time an officer reached flag (or air officer) rank they tended to have developed an appreciation for this and, in recent years, an enthusiasm for joint operations, the rivalry was alive and kicking at more junior levels. It had been a point of contention for many years that the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, and its predecessors, were under the control of RAF Coastal Command, rather than the Fleet Air Arm, for reasons that were as complex as they were longstanding. However, what it did mean was that there was a great deal of cooperation between the Admiralty, in particular the Home Fleet, and RAF Coastal Command, to ensure that this critical maritime capability was adequately and effectively used.

“To be fair, Coastal Command has always been pretty cooperative,” Captain Edison rolled her eyes. “I can’t help but feel that’s the real reason the RAF has our MPAs… is it any surprise that such a large proportion of RAF staff officers assigned to joint commands are from Coastal Command?”

“Now now, I won’t have any conspiracy theories in my command,” Keswick said firmly, but with a grin. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we've loitered around enough as it is, let’s get to work, shall we?”
The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Thu Dec 02, 2021 1:49 pm

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

There was a great deal of chatter and discussion amongst the gathered representatives of the Marimaian media as they took their seats and positions in the 'Hall with the Dome' in Avlabari Palace, as they had been invited to a press conference with no real forewarning regarding the subject that was to be announced. It was unusual for the Marimaian government to hold press conferences in the Hall as it was usually reserved for the most important state events and occasions, the last of which having been Feliks Baibakov's appointment as one of the nation's Vice-Presidents. The opening of the doors at the far end of the Hall immediately drew the attention of the assembled journalists as they were intrigued to see who it was that would be speaking to them, and it was perhaps unsurprising to see Feliks stride into the Hall with a beaming Cheshire Cat grin. Dressed in a pinstripe suit and a white shirt with no tie, Feliks quickly crossed the distance between the doorway and the podium that had been set up for him to address the media. Upon reaching his spot, he took a quick sip of water and cleared his throat before beginning to speak.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you for being here this morning. I realise that it's a little unusual to hold a press conference here in the Hall with the Dome, but this is an important event for me as it's going to be the first solo press conference that I've given as a Vice-President. Not only that, but the subject that I'd like to address is an important one in my opinion.

"As I'm sure that you're all aware, whenever a long-time regime falls in a nation, there are individuals who leave the nation that they previously called home. It could be because they've lost their position, or they've been exiled, or even because they're afraid for their lives. The Marimaian Federation tends to be one of the destinations of choice for individuals in those circumstances. Over the decades, both under the old communist regime and now under our democracy, we've received immigrants from all sorts of places. The East African Federation, when their leftist regime fell. Colombia and Venezuela, when the Empire of Layarteb embarked on their police actions in Central and South America. The Ural Confederacy, when the Realm of Cotland responded to the terror attacks that had been perpetrated against them. That is to name just a few. We've always welcomed new arrivals but we always take care not to give sanctuary to individuals who seek to use the Federation as a base from where they can finance or support terrorism. We've lived with domestic terrorists ourselves, after all, and we're not about to allow anybody to use our nation in any way to conduct terrorism in other nations.

"This time last year, the People's Republic of Yugoslavia was at war with what is now Austria-Hungary. A war that was declared by the Yugoslav government in response to Hungary's secession from their regime. That war brought in the Kingdom of Apilonia and their Commonwealth allies against Yugoslavia, and in the end, Yugoslavia collapsed into smaller nations. The Republic of Serbia is the particular nation that I wish to discuss. Serbia is currently under occupation by Austria-Hungary with other Commonwealth forces assisting with peacekeeping, and they are enacting a program of de-radicalisation and nation-building. However, there is an insurgency currently opposing those efforts. This has understandably resulted in several Serbs leaving their homeland and coming here to the Marimaian Federation, in search of a fresh start without any threat to their lives. I've had the distinct pleasure of getting to know one particular family. An enterprising individual who came here looking for an opportunity to work, so that he could then bring his parents and his grandmother here to live comfortably. Perhaps I'm something of a soft touch, but I gave him that opportunity and he is now the Head of my Secretariat. His parents and grandmother are now living here in Tbilisi, and they've become almost like a second family to me."

The statement that the Head of Feliks' Secretariat was a Serb was of no real surprise to the media as there had been a brief announcement on the Federation's official government website regarding the two appointments thus far to Feliks' support staff, and Mateja's name had been clearly displayed. However, this was the first time that Feliks had actually revealed any information about him or about how they had met. Feliks took a second sip of water and then continued.

"In my conversations with them, I've learned quite a lot about the situation that certain Serbian citizens find themselves in at the moment. There are those in Serbia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia who worked for the former regime, not because of ideological belief, but rather out of necessity. They had families to feed and care for. Now that the regime is gone, those individuals and their families face potential prejudice. The police officer who arrested protestors on the order of his superior, for fear of being punished for insubordination. The bureaucrat who worked for the Committee for State Security, never involved in any activities other than filing reports. Purely examples, but good examples of the people that I wish to discuss. They have no loyalty to the former regime. They have no interest in joining or assisting the insurgency. They simply wish to have a quiet life. Unfortunately, their past is being held against them in several instances. Not by the Commonwealth forces but by fellow Serbians. Fellow citizens who may have lost loved ones or been subject to arrest, and are looking for either justice or vengeance. By attempting to ensure their own survival and the survival of their families by working for the former regime, some Serbian citizens are now regarded with suspicion and disdain by their neighbours. Serbs residing in other nations of the former Yugoslavia may well be experiencing similar issues due to the influence that Serbs held in the People's Republic.

"So this morning, I am announcing a bold new policy initiative. After discussing the matter with the relevant ministries, as well as with the President and my fellow Vice-President, I can officially announce that citizens of the Republic of Serbia and Serbs living elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia will be allowed to resettle here in the Marimaian Federation. If any Serb feels that they are no longer welcome in their homeland then we are offering them the opportunity to move to a new home. In cooperation with my Progress charity, the Marimaian government will be able to offer initial housing and food to new arrivals until they find their footing in our nation's job market, at which point they can begin to look at homes of their own. Our economy is growing healthily thanks to new deals signed with other nations and we have more deals in the process of negotiation, so we will have no shortage of potential employment opportunities for those who take up our offer. We will also provide a simple path to citizenship for Serbs who move here under the scheme."

He paused for a few moments, noting the intrigued expressions of the journalists. "Those who wish to resettle in the Marimaian Federation will not have to worry about their past status being held against them. We are offering a clean slate and a fresh start. The only reason we would wish to know about their experience is to help them find appropriate employment opportunities here in the Federation. The only prohibition will be against those who come here looking for opportunities to establish support or financing for the ongoing insurgency. We will not be used as a base of operations or a source of finance for terrorists. If you come here attempting to abuse our offer, then you will be dealt with in the harshest possible terms. If you choose to resettle in the Marimaian Federation, you will be working towards a new life as a Marimaian citizen. You will be joining the rich and diverse tapestry of ethnicities that dwell peacefully here in the Federation.

"Our embassy staff in Belgrade are currently finalising their preparations for the launch of the scheme, which is scheduled for a week today. As of Monday the twenty-second of November, Serbs will be able to arrange appointments with our embassy staff to begin the process of resettlement. This new policy is an evolution of my promise to help in strengthening the Marimaian Federation's influence on the international stage, the promise that I made when I was appointed as a Vice-President. For decades we have been an unofficial haven for those seeking a new life. We now begin to make that status official. Okay, I'll take some questions." Feliks scanned the journalists before pointing to a well-dressed middle-aged man. "Khosrov?"

Khosrov Marutyan of the Federal Guardian rose to his feet. "Mister Vice-President, this is truly a visionary policy that you're announcing, one that genuinely showcases our nation's commitment to helping those less fortunate than ourselves. If I might ask, do you have any information about how many Serbs might take up the offer of resettlement?"

Feliks nodded at the question. "Excellent question, Khosrov. The truth is that I have no actual figures on how many Serbs would accept the offer, but I am not looking at this from a view of 'how many will we get'. I am looking at this from the view of 'every individual or family given a new opportunity makes it worthwhile'. We might get thousands. We might only get twenty. The important thing is that we are providing the opportunity. I know from personal experience that Serbs who have become Marimaian citizens are hardworking, warm people, and any new arrivals would undoubtedly be a tremendous asset to our nation." He looked around again and gestured to a female journalist in the front row. "Yes, Marisha."

Marisha Belinsky of the Marimaian News Network stood up. "Thank you, Mister Vice-President. If I might ask, will this offer of resettlement be open to other inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia?"

"Ah, now that is a matter that certainly needs to be addressed." Feliks smiled warmly at her. "Our current focus is on Serbs because they were more closely associated with the People's Republic than other ethnicities, so they are probably more likely to feel uncertain and uncomfortable. However, if the scheme proves to be a success then we shall open it up for others in the former Yugoslavia. Keep in mind that we will always welcome any new arrivals from other parts of the former People's Republic who make their own way to us. It is simply that our observations show that the overwhelming majority of those who have come here already are Serbs, so we believe that Serbs have the most to gain from this offered opportunity."
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Tue Dec 14, 2021 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Sun Dec 12, 2021 4:40 pm

Lieutenant General Sir Thomas J. Leech, KCS
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
Republic of the Balkans
Monday 15th November 2021, 1200hrs Local Time

Given the fractious history between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, which reached back well before the Austrian-led invasion during the break-up of the Yugoslavia and the Balkans War, it had been politically expedient that the subsequent occupation of Serbia not be led by Austria-Hungary. Unlike the rest of the former Yugoslavia, which had broken with the central authority and sought separate peaces with Austria and the Commonwealth, which had resulted in favourable terms and led to Bosnia joining the Archduchy and the formation of the Republic of the Balkans, Serbia had not only fought to the last but also been the dominant political power of Yugoslavia. As a result, the decision had been made that the occupation, and the subsequent nation-building work that would be needed to create a Serbia that would be fit and suitable for the modern world, whether as an eventual member of the Commonwealth or as an independent nation, would be under the control of the Commonwealth military command structure. In doing so, the thinking was that doing so would avoid perception issues, and the associated challenges that would follow, both within Serbia and internationally.

As such, the Commonwealth Defence Command formally established its first non-emergency deployment (the first deployment had been Operation RIGHTEOUS DEFENDER, the Commonwealth mission to support Austria-Hungary during the Balkans War), dubbed Commonwealth Operations in Serbia (COMOSERB). Under the command of an Dacian General, in the Grand Duchy’s first contribution to the Commonwealth since it voted for membership and had been accepted as a Commonwealth Protectorate (pending it’s formal entry at the next Commonwealth Conference), it had been deemed an adequate compromise to ensure the mission was led by a relatively local officer, with the associated intimate familiarity with regional history, that was not Austro-Hungarian. Indeed, in an effort to distance the Archduchy from the occupation, the deputy commander was an Apilonian Lieutenant General, although there were Austro-Hungarians at the staff level and the mission as a whole fell under the command of the Commonwealth Regional Commandant, Europe, which remained Feldmarshall Kristopher Wintheiser of the Austrian Army, who had overseen RIGHTEOUS DEFENDER as a whole. Based on initial accounts, by remaining conscious of the emotional reality of the situation the Commonwealth had ensured that its mission in Serbia was not undermined from the outset.

Under its command COMOSERB, which was a joint force, had as its primary land component the Commonwealth Multinational Corps, Europe, a composite formation intended to enable non-regional members to contribute to out-of-area operations in support of their Commonwealth allies. In terms of co neat troops, CMC-E had at its command the 15th (New Caledonia) Infantry Division of the Apilonian Army, with its usual third brigade (a territorial army formation only usually deployed for major combat operations) replaced by the 54th Ranger Brigade, the Austrian 4th Alpine Division, the 2nd South Africa Division and a composite division formed by brigades from New Zealand, East Africa, and the Republic of the Balkans. With nearly eighty thousand combat troops it was, perhaps, a little overkill given the expected level of resistance that had not materialised since the end of the conflict, but then given that at this stage COMOSERB was still responsible for all security matters within Serbia it at least made its job significantly easier. As the Commonwealth’s first post-conflict peacekeeping and nation-building mission everyone involved was eager to ensure it was a success, and if flooding resources into the mission was what it took then that was what they would do.

The main headquarters and operational support base for COMOSERB was Camp Bondsteel, just across the Serb border in Kosovo, which had formally been a part of Serbia itself but had elected to become part of the Republic of the Balkans during the breakup of Yugoslavia due to its ethnically Albanian-majority population and the atrocities attempted by Serb forces during the conflict. In doing so, COMOSERB hoped to ensure that its forces would have a safe base to operate from whilst still being close enough to adequately respond in the event of a crisis. In the long-term it was expected that Camp Bondsteel would become the Commonwealth Permanent Joint Operations Base for Europe, but for the moment it was entirely focused on the COMOSERB mission. The base itself had been built primarily by the Apilonian Royal Engineers, financed by Apilonia, and was under the command of an Apilonian Colonel, and was designed to provide logistical support and a safe base for R&R for the four divisions deployed in Serbia itself, and spread across the base in the occupation zone itself, with at least one division being rotated through the base at any given time.

Lieutenant General Sir Thomas J. Leech was the Deputy Commander of COMOSERB, and was dual-hatted as the General Officer Commanding, Commonwealth Multinational Corps Europe, which meant in practice that he was responsible for carrying out the directives of the Commander, COMOSERB. Based out of Corps Headquarters at Camp Bondsteel, Lt. General Leech had the unenviable task of balancing the operational realities of a peacekeeping mission with the strategic and political objectives that COMOSERB had been tasked with achieving. On the one hand, COMOSERB had to keep the peace at the end of a rifle, whilst on the other hand it had to tread lightly and use kid gloves to allow the task of nation-building to take place in Belgrade and beyond. It was a task that few in any armed forces of a liberal democracy wished for, but it was one that the Apilonian Army in particular had a great deal of institutional knowledge in due to its colonial history and the enduring need to potentially intervene in the affairs of former colonies, as it had done in East Africa in recent years, and as some voices within the Kingdom were arguing ought to take place in what as now Yemen, the one-time Apilonian Crown Colony of Aden.

Although the situation in Serbia could be better, it could also be far, far, worse. Although there was a low-level insurgency at work in the countryside, which was where most of COMOSERB was finding most of its action, the cities and other major urban areas were largely quiet for the most part, save for the occasional terror attack by the insurgents that got past COMOSERB forces and Commonwealth intelligence agents. By all accounts the insurgency was largely made up of former members of the Serb and Yugoslav Military, as well as the Committee for State Security, and others who had lost everything with the fall of the People’s Republic. As such there was a great deal of anger amongst the insurgents, and there actions (some of which were vile in the extreme) were not winning them any support and there was little cohesive strategy evident beyond what could be cobbled together by independent insurgent cells. As such, it was not the opinion of COMOSERB, Commonwealth Regional Command, Europe, or the Commonwealth Defence Command that the insurgency was likely to succeed in any meaningful manner, so long as this state of affairs remained the same.

If anything the bigger concern was the enduring influence of former Yugoslavian and Serb bureaucrats; those that had not, technically, done anything wrong and, as such, had the potential for a political career going forwards. This was not ideal if the objective was to transform Serbia into a liberal democracy along social democratic lines like the Republic of the Balkans, as they would likely form a hard-line irritant for any future government. It would not be easy for them, as the Yugoslav Government had been declining in popularity for years, even in Serbia, but there would still be enough hard-core Serbs that, if given the opportunity to vote, would absolutely thrown their lot in with such former members of the regime.

“You wanted to see me, Sir?” Lt. General Leach asked as he stopped in the door of his immediate superior, Dacian General Dragomir Boris Vitanov who had previously commanded the Grand Ducal Army’s sole corps-sized headquarters.

“Yes, Thomas, have a seat,” Vitanov replied, gesturing to the seat in front of his desk. “Have you seen the news conference from Marimaia?”

Leach could not help but roll his eyes.

“Their little Serb relocation initiative?”

“Just so,” Vitanov nodded. “Your thoughts?”

“I dread to think what their intentions behind this, although it seems to be in keeping with their habit of adopting the cast-offs of whatever conflict is happening that is even remotely within their sphere of influence so it is unlikely that anything deeper going on,” Leach commented. “In truth, considering that this offer will likely result in lower-level discontents, former security forces and military, as well as opportunistic higher-ups, out of the situation it’ll help matters significantly with regards to both the insurgency and the long-term stability of the provisional government.”

“You think we should leave them to it?” Vitanov frowned.

“I think we should definitely consider it as an option; if it reduces the numbers of the insurgency by even a relatively small percentage it would have a damaging impact on their morale, and may even induce even more defections, which would make our lives easier,” Leach nodded. “Moreover, I rather suspect that those likely to cause issues for the Government may not be too fussed where they find their power as long as they end up with some, which means they may be inclined to try their luck in Marimaia… corrupt as it is.”

“You make a fair point, Thomas,” Vitanov replied thoughtfully. “I’ve got an intelligence briefing with the Unified Intelligence Task Force in twenty minutes… you should join me.”

“I will, Sir,” Leach nodded.

“Excellent, now in the meantime, give me a rundown of how the weekend went operationally,” Vitanov said, leaning back in his chair thoughtfully. “Corporal… bring General Leach and I coffee… you know how we like it… now, Thomas, let’s get started shall we?"
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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:47 pm

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

"Okay, the first bit of business. Any outside reactions about Feliks' relocation initiative?"

The assembled personages of the Cabinet of Ministers turned their attention towards Nikolai Vasilyev as Fyodor Baibakov posed his question; as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he would be the one to know about any international responses regarding Feliks Baibakov's announced Serb relocation scheme. "Nothing from the Apilonians or the rest of the Commonwealth, Boss. In my opinion, that's a good sign. If the Commonwealth hasn't come out and opposed it already then it's likely that they'll allow it to happen. We did get some nice supportive messages from the UAE and the Republic of Cameroon though, and the Kingdom of Tonga issued a statement that was so complimentary that they might be angling for something."

Fyodor chuckled and looked to the other end of the Cabinet table, where Feliks sat with a beaming grin. "It's all sounding promising, my boy!" He then turned back to Nikolai. "The embassy in Belgrade will definitely be ready for the twenty-second, won't they?"

Nikolai nodded. "Absolutely, Boss. We're sending them five additional officials from the Foreign Ministry so that they'll have extra staffing for conducting interviews with applicants, and General Petrosyan has agreed to send five FSS officials to help out as well. We reckon that we'll be able to get applications processed and approved within a week of initial submission, and we can then provide airline tickets and visas to successful applicants. Then once people start arriving in the Federation, they can be taken to their accommodation."

Feliks leaned forward at that point. "Progress operates two former army training camps in the Georgian Republic as accommodation for poorer individuals and families, and the First Ministers of the constituent republics have all offered vacant social housing if we need it. I've even had a couple of offers from Marimaian celebrities to house relocated Serbs if we need even more accommodation. It really warms my heart to see the well-off of our nation getting involved in such a worthy cause."

Fyodor chuckled at Feliks' smirk as he uttered that last sentence. "Mine too, my boy." The Marimaian President then turned to Otar Saralidze, Minister for Labour and Social Affairs. "Otar, how are things looking on the employment front for any relocatees?"

The forty-seven-year-old Georgian clasped his hands together on the table as he answered. "We've got a small task force in the final stages of being established, Boss. There'll be officials available to visit the Serbs in their accommodation to discuss employment opportunities with them, based on the information about their job experience that we'll get from their resettlement application interviews. We can then easily expand the numbers of officials depending on how large the resettled population turns out to be."

Feliks chimed in once again. "The information from those interviews will also be going to the FSS and my Secretariat. The FSS can compare the names and other stuff to anything that they've got on file regarding the former Yugoslavia, while I'll be getting my Kapetan to see if he recognises anybody who might be of particular use."

"Smart lad. Just as an aside while it's in my head, you may as well change his official title from 'Head' of your Secretariat to 'Captain' of your Secretariat, since that seems to be your favourite way of addressing him."

The younger of the Federation's two Vice-Presidents sat back in his chair and tapped his chin at his father's suggestion. "Huh...that's not a bad idea, Papa. It certainly sounds more official and important. Yeah, I like it. Anyway, as I say, he'll be scouring the applicants for anybody that he knows. If he recognises any potential troublemakers who managed to slip past our processes then he'll inform us."

"Good to know, my boy. If he recognises anybody 'of particular use', as you put it, shall we expect them to end up as part of your Secretariat?"

Feliks gave a sly grin in response to Fyodor's question. "Maybe. Honestly, Papa, it'll be a case of wait and see. We don't know who or how many will take up the resettlement offer so we'll have to see who shows up. Then decisions can be made."

Fyodor made an agreeable sound and raised an eyebrow. "Fair enough, my boy. Okay then! Nikolai, any other international matters of interest?"

Nikolai held up a finger as he opened the dossier on the table in front of him. "This time next week, the Shenzhen Pact will be celebrating its second anniversary. There'll be representatives from all full and observer members of the organisation gathering in Shenzhen in the Nanfang Republic. It probably won't be as grand as last year though. Last year was their first anniversary so they needed to be showy, and they had three nations signing up to observer membership at the ceremony. They also had four subsidiary agencies to announce. This year, however, they don't have any new members to announce. Their peacekeeping operations in Guinea-Bissau are continuing so they can't announce a victory there, and they don't have any new subsidiary agencies to announce either." He looked up from the dossier with a smirk. "I wouldn't be surprised if they try to spin this past year as 'maintaining stability' or something like that."

The Marimaian President 'hmmed' and nodded. "Interesting. I think that gives us even more of an opportunity to catch their eye, then. If they've had a relatively boring second year then they'll want to have at least something for their third anniversary. We'll focus on the Serb resettlement for now but let's keep one eye open for potential opportunities. New trade and investment deals, new diplomatic possibilities, that sort of thing. We'd already make for an excellent member of the Shenzhen Pact, observer or otherwise, but if we can strengthen our global influence then it would be to our advantage even if they ultimately decided not to talk to us." He tapped his index finger on the table as he thought for a moment. "All the same, we'll send the Nanfang Republic a congratulatory message for creating such a formidable organisation. No harm in being polite."

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Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Wed Dec 22, 2021 12:19 pm

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

In addition to selecting individuals to serve as his Secretariat, Feliks Baibakov had also had to select an office within Avlabari Palace; after all, it would be a rather odd state of affairs if a Vice-President of the Marimaian Federation did not have their own office to work from. As there had never been two Vice-Presidents in the Federation's history despite it being perfectly acceptable under the constitution, there was no ready-to-use office for him within the palace and so he had to find a room that he liked and have it converted. Feliks had eventually chosen a currently-unused waiting room on the first floor for the simple reason that he liked the view from the window, and so the room had undergone redecoration according to his wishes. Feliks' office featured hardwood mahogany flooring, with off-white walls to balance the colour scheme. The window frame was similarly mahogany, as were the numerous bookshelves and cabinets that had been brought in to provide him with storage space. Feliks' impressively-sized desk followed the decor as it too was crafted of mahogany, and it sat upon an off-white area rug along with three leather-upholstered mahogany armchairs, one on Feliks' side of the desk and two on the opposite side. For safety and security reasons, the desk was situated in one of the corners of the office; the window was large enough to provide natural light for the entire room but nobody would be able to see the desk's occupant or anybody sitting opposite them. The rest of the office's furniture consisted of a larger and more plush armchair as well as a matching three-person couch in the corner diagonally opposite the desk. Once again, the furniture was constructed of mahogany with off-white upholstery and was positioned on an area rug that matched the one located beneath Feliks' desk. Naturally, the Baibakov fondness for gilt decoration had crept into the office decor as well, with gilt ornament above the office door and tastefully distributed along the entirety of the uppermost quarter of the room's walls.

The office was rather peaceful on this Tuesday afternoon as the occupants were engaged in activities that were not proving to be particularly taxing. Khoren was stood, stoic as ever, at his employer's right side as Feliks casually inspected the details displayed on the tablet in his hands, occasionally swiping onto a new page as he finished reading. Mateja Čubrilović was sat opposite him on the other side of the desk with an identical tablet, perusing the same information as Feliks, albeit with prior knowledge of the specifics within. It had been eight days since the Marimaian embassy in Belgrade had officially started accepting applications for the Serb relocation initiative, and the first collection of application information was now being reviewed by both the FSS and Feliks' Secretariat. The FSS were examining the applications and attached applicant interviews to see if they possessed any intelligence on any of the prospective relocatees; Mateja had been examining the information earlier that morning, to see if any of the applicants were people that he had known personally during the days of the People's Republic of Yugoslavia. He was now taking Feliks through to those individuals who were known by 'his Kapetan'.

"First we have number sixty-seven, Ratimir Šiljan."

Feliks quickly swiped through the applicants until he found the one in question. "Okay, I've found him."

"He was one of the instructors for the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit. 'Mean' doesn't really do him justice, he hospitalised more than a few recruits in his time. There is one thing though."

"What is it, my Kapetan?"

"Just, well...", Mateja rested his elbow on the desk and turned to look at Feliks as he continued, "Šiljan was always an unyielding hardass. He's not the sort of person that I can imagine leaving his homeland."

Feliks shrugged. "Maybe he's not happy with the idea of a new Serbia influenced by the Commonwealth? At the end of the day, he must have his reasons. Maybe he sees no future for himself in Serbia, and maybe, just maybe, he thinks that he has transferable skills that could earn him a living here in the Federation. Do you think that he'd be a potential problem?"

"It would depend on what sort of employment he wound up with. If the FSS or some other government agency scooped him up then he would be a good asset."

"Huh, okay then. I'll suggest him to General Petrosyan, although I suspect that he'll already have a list of 'people of interest' derived from this information."

Mateja then moved on to the next applicant with whom he was somewhat familiar. "Number seventy-two, Velizar Sandić." Mateja smiled slightly as he looked over at Feliks. "He was one of the two Naredniks (OOC: Sergeants) under my command in the S.A.T.U., a little older than me but he never had a problem with taking orders from someone younger. I see that he finally married Roksana, must have done it recently."

"Who's Roksana?"

"She was his team's coordination operator. She'd be at headquarters relaying information and intelligence to the team on the ground in real-time. It wasn't strictly permitted for them to date but it wasn't explicitly forbidden either. Besides, I'm the one who would've had to break them up and they made a good couple."

Feliks grinned and chuckled. "Aw, you're such a romantic. I take it that she's applied for relocation as well?"

"Yep, she's number seventy-three. Maybe I'll visit them once they've been allocated accommodation." Mateja gestured across the desk at Feliks. "If I do then you should come with me, I think you'd like them."

"You're going to get me a reputation as a Serbophile, my Kapetan."

Mateja laughed as Feliks raised an eyebrow at him. "Probably a little late to worry about that, Feliks. You've got a Serb as the 'Kapitan' of your Secretariat and you've launched a scheme designed to bring more Serbs to the Marimaian Federation, there's only one real conclusion to be drawn from that. I suppose I've made an even bigger impression on you than I first thought."

Feliks rolled his eyes and sighed in response to the smirk that quickly developed on Mateja's face, although it was more out of amusement than exasperation. "Whatever. Just for that, I'll ask them if they have any embarrassing stories about you. Actually no, I'll just ask your Nana. She's always got time to chat."

"Don't I know it, too. She's really quite fond of you."

"Everyone's fond of me, my Kapetan." Feliks' Cheshire Cat grin almost split his face in half. "Especially you. You might take my money to sleep with me but I reckon that secretly you'd do it for free. You're never in a hurry to get it over with."

"I don't hear you complaining about that." Mateja gave Feliks a wink and looked back at the tablet in his hand. "Anyway, that's all of the applicants that I know from this first contingent."

"No major celebrities among them then?"

"Well, nobody that I recognise. From the information that the interviewers gathered, it looks like there are certainly some individuals of influence in here but they're the type who wielded influence behind the scenes. Apparatchiks and bureaucrats who advised on and implemented policy, rather than the ministers and party secretaries who developed the policies and took the credit for them. I suspect that all of the truly major players would have come here by now if they were going to."

"I'd say that you're spot on there, my Kapetan. So, five hundred and seven applicants in the first week. It's more than I thought we'd get, even though it includes children as well as adults. The embassy in Belgrade is going to be scheduling interviews on weekends now as well as weekdays so that we can get more people processed, and any Serbian citizens who work at the embassy will automatically qualify because they've already gone through checks and whatnot. Not that we're planning to shut down the embassy, mind you. It's simply a guarantee for those Serbs and their families who have worked with us, in case they decide that they want to leave Serbia. It'll be interesting to see how many applications we get in the second and subsequent weeks."
Last edited by Freistaat-Ostafrika on Wed Dec 22, 2021 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:50 am

12 December 2021, 19:00hrs [UTC+4]
Camp New Start, Rustavi
Georgian Republic, Marimaian Federation

Located approximately sixteen miles south of the Marimaian capital of Tbilisi, Rustavi was a city of roughly one hundred and twenty-five thousand people, making it the third-largest city of the Georgian Republic. Best known for the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant that contributed significantly to the city economy, Rustavi was also the site of a facility under the administration of the 'Progress' charitable organisation. Originally operated as a training camp for the Federation's ground forces, 'Camp New Start' had been acquired by Progress during the military restructuring that had taken place three years ago, admittedly for an incredibly advantageous price due to the identity of the charity's founder. The camp had subsequently been converted into accommodation and associated services for just under one thousand people, although the accommodation was basic at best, more along the lines of a hotel room than an actual 'home'. This was because the accommodation was not intended for long-term habitation but rather as a temporary solution for homeless individuals, who would be assisted in finding employment and gaining a place of their own, rented or otherwise. Along with its sister facility in the city of Gori, Camp Comeback, New Start had been designated as temporary housing for Serbs who had successfully applied to the relocation initiative. The first wave of successful applicants had been brought into Demyan Baibakov International Airport from Belgrade via the daily MarimAir flights, with Camp New Start receiving them as it was the nearest Progress facility to the airport; indeed, Rustavi was only located about two miles outside of the Tbilisi Capital District.

Velizar Sandić and his wife Roksana were currently in their accommodation, awaiting the arrival of a guest who they had not seen for several months. The furnishings of the room were arranged around the double bed that was positioned with the headboard against the south wall: there was a two-seat sofa against the east wall, which also featured a window; while against the north wall was a desk with two chairs, with a flatscreen television mounted on the wall itself. The west wall was only half the size of the other three as the room was something of a stocky 'L' shape and featured the door to a small bathroom, while the remaining space was dedicated to two wardrobes, a coat rack, and the entrance door. There was no dedicated space for eating in the accommodation because the camp had set times where meals were served in the on-site cafeteria, but there were facilities provided for making hot drinks along with a small desktop fridge. The decor colour scheme was a neutral off-white with creams and browns, nothing particularly outstanding but then it was never intended to be a home to settle down in. Velizar and Roksana had arrived three days prior and were not overly troubled by the limitations of their current abode, as they understood that Camp New Start was intended to be transitional rather than permanent.

Velizar wiped his hands on his jeans as there was a knock at the door, and he flashed a smile at his wife before heading over and opening it. Mateja Čubrilović grinned up at the slightly taller Velizar as they came face-to-face for the first time since Mateja had left the former Yugoslavia.


The thirty-seven-year-old Velizar shook his head and laughed at the sight of his former commanding officer. "Damn, I can't believe it. How are you, Kapetan?"

"Not too bad, all things considered. I hope you don't mind but I brought someone with me." On cue, Feliks stepped into view behind Mateja, peering over his shoulder. "Velizar Sandić, meet Vice-President Feliks Baibakov."

" it is true. You're actually working for the Marimaian government?" Velizar stepped to the side and gestured for the pair to enter. "Please, come on in." Mateja entered first, at which point Velizar offered his hand to Feliks. "Mister Vice-President, it's an honour."

Feliks shook the offered hand and grinned. "It's good to finally meet you, he's told me all about your time in the S.A.T.U."

Roksana beamed as Mateja approached her, and quickly crossed the distance between them to give him a tight hug. "Kapetan, it's been so long! Is it true that your family's here too?"

"Yeah, it's true. All thanks to him." Mateja gestured towards Feliks, whose presence elicited a gasp from the forty-one-year-old Roksana before she broke the hug with Mateja and transferred it to the youngest person in the room. "Roksana, I'd like you to meet Vice-President Feliks Baibakov." Not expecting a greeting that was quite so warm, Feliks widened his eyes at Mateja before returning the hug. Once the greetings and welcomes were completed, Feliks and Mateja sat on the sofa while Velizar and Roksana prepared four cups of coffee; coffee was the more popular hot beverage in Serb culture, and so Feliks was quietly going along with it even though he wasn't really one for drinking coffee. Once the coffee had been distributed, Roksana sat back on the bed while Velizar pulled out a chair at the desk to sit on.

"So come on then Kapetan, how did you end up working for the Baibakovs?"

Mateja leaned forward as he began to give a potted version of the events that had led him to his current position. "Well, I was working for Minister Filipović at first. He had ideas about supporting the insurgency from here, Feliks told him no. Filipović wasn't willing to take 'no' for an answer and Feliks had hinted that he liked to employ skilled people, so I switched sides. Once Filipović had been handled, Feliks gave me a job and brought my family here, just as he said he would. Filipović had always said that he'd do what he could but he was mainly focused on supporting the insurgency. Feliks, on the other hand, kept his promise." He looked over his shoulder to give Feliks a gentle smile. "He always keeps his promises."

"When you say 'handled', do you mean that he's dead?"

Mateja turned to respond to Roksana's question. "Yeah, he's dead. Some people might think that I'm a traitor, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Roksana and Velizar exchanged awkward glances before Velizar spoke. "If you're a traitor, Kapetan, then so are we." He scowled slightly at Mateja's quizzical expression. "We were helping the insurgency. Risto and Emilijan are involved in it, and if they ever needed information or somewhere to stash something then we'd help. They fought alongside us in the Unit so, y'know, we stuck by our own. Then there were reports of Serbs getting hurt or killed in insurgent attacks. Risto said that if they weren't with the insurgency then they were opposing the insurgency by collaborating with the occupiers. I don't know if all of the insurgents feel that way, but Risto and Emilijan's cell definitely seem to. That's when we realised that the insurgents have turned into the sort of terrorists that the Unit was created to oppose. We hadn't seen them for about three weeks when the resettlement initiative was reported, so we talked it over and we decided to go for it.

"Fleeing the nation seemed like the best option, especially when we were reading about the Marimaian Federation and there was a mention of you being appointed to a position with Vice-President Feliks. We applied, and so did Roksana's mother, and we all got accepted. Veselinka's two doors down the corridor from us."

Mateja sighed heavily as he heard how some of his former subordinates had apparently changed for the worse. "You did the right thing by leaving. You could've been arrested for assisting the insurgency, or you could've been targeted yourselves if you'd refused to continue helping them. According to Marimaian intelligence, the insurgency isn't making much headway and so insurgents might start getting more and more reckless in their attacks. Do you know anything about any of the other members of the S.A.T.U., if they've joined up with the insurgents?"

"Risto and Emilijan are the only ones we know for certain. To be honest, Kapetan, we've lost touch with most of the others. Some moved out of Belgrade to live in the countryside, others just completely disappeared. Maybe they're part of the insurgency, maybe they're already dead, we don't know."

"Fair enough." Mateja sat back before continuing. "Well, let's look at the positives here. You guys are now in what will soon be your new homeland, and you're together with family." He took a drink of his coffee before moving on to a far more pleasant subject. "So when did you two finally tie the knot?"

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Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Wed Feb 02, 2022 7:30 am

31 December 2021, 23:50hrs [UTC+4]
Avlabari Palace
Tbilisi, Marimaian Federation

As 2021 drew to a close and the beginning of a new year inched ever closer, the 'Hall with the Dome' in Avlabari Palace had once again been selected as the site of an annual Marimaian tradition: the New Year's Eve Address. Timed to end just as the clock struck midnight and the new year began, the Address provided President Baibakov with an opportunity to heavily involve himself in the New Year traditions of the Federation; because all television and radio networks in the Federation switched to the speech as part of their broadcasting schedules, it was rare for Marimaian citizens to not hear it. The Marimaian Federation was one of the few nations that actually celebrated New Year twice due to the dominant branch of Christianity in the nation being Eastern Orthodox, but the primary celebration was always held on December 31st in line with the rest of the world. Orthodox New Year (or Old New Year as it was usually referred to) was then celebrated a few days later, more specifically January 14th due to the nature of the Julian calendar. Old New Year was more subdued compared to 'New New Year' and was more oriented towards family gatherings, acting as the finale of the Federation's holiday season, which included both the widely celebrated Christmas on December 25th and Orthodox or 'Old' Christmas on January 7th. New New Year, on the other hand, was far more boisterous as far as celebrations go, with fireworks displays and public gatherings in every town and city across the Federation.

The broadcast opened to reveal President Fyodor Baibakov standing before one of the various heroic murals in the Hall with the Dome, dressed in a white suit and grinning broadly.

"My fellow Marimaians! We've reached the end of another year and it's time to take stock. The stability that we enjoy here in the Federation is well regarded by many around the world. We've had a year where our multi-ethnic and multi-faith family of Marimaian citizens has shown the world that our nation is a beacon of cooperation and harmony between different peoples. Russians and Georgians. Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Chechens and Dagestanis. Ingush and Kalmyks. Abkhaz and Ossetians. Cherkess and Adygey. Let's not forget those who have come to us from around the world over the years, of course. Colombians and Venezuelans. East Africans and Permians. The newest members of our family, Serbs relocating from the insurgency in their homeland. Yes, I know that there are more ethnicities within our borders than those I have mentioned, but I don't want to overrun if I can help it. The point is, that despite what some say about us, we have a nation of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and other faiths, and they live side by side in peace. As I say, we are more than just a nation. We are a family that chose to live together. Family is one of the most important things in this world. Family supports us. Family will be there for us when nobody else is."

Fyodor turned to his left and began to walk as he continued to address the nation. "Our nation has taken bold steps and established a greater role for ourselves on the big wide stage of the world. Our diverse nature means that we can find friendship where others often struggle. We've established closer ties with nations as disparate as Cameroon and Tibet. We have become the closest friend of the Kingdom of Tonga, a nation which had, like us, been underestimated by most. It used to be that if we introduced ourselves as being from the Marimaian Federation, most others in the world would ask 'where?'. Not so any longer. We end 2021 in a better position than we started it, and now we can eagerly look to the future."

The Marimaian President paused in his recitation of the purely propagandist rhetoric as he reached the spot where Feliks stood, before another of the impressive murals that decorated the walls of the Hall. Dressed in an identical suit to that of his father, Feliks beamed as Fyodor placed a fatherly hand on his shoulder, the signal for the younger Baibakov to continue the broadcast.

"The future. Fellow Marimaians, the future holds great things for our diverse family of peoples. When I was appointed as a Vice-President of the Federation, I stood in this very hall and I said, 'even the smallest nation can affect the world'. We cover less than one million square kilometres and count just under forty-one million people, yet we have proven that we can most certainly affect the world. We have affected the world by approaching other nations of a similar size with respect and friendship. We have affected the world by providing a haven for those who wish to flee violence and establish a new life for themselves. As we move into a new year, we shall continue to affect the world. Not through the unnecessary flexing of military muscle or attempts to intimidate others into changing their very way of life, but through positive engagement and mutual understanding. That's just the way that we do things here. So, to one and all, we would like to wish you..."

At that point, Zahra Baibakova walked onscreen, wearing a white evening dress, and took up position so that Feliks was flanked by his parents, Zahra on his left and Fyodor on his right. As the time drew to midnight, the three members of the Presidential family smiled broadly and spoke as one to their nation.

"Happy New Year!"

Across the nation, the broadcast then switched to a view of the Tbilisi skyline as the final five seconds of 2021 ticked away; once midnight was reached, brightly coloured fireworks began to shoot into the sky above the Marimaian capital from several locations around the city. The traditional fireworks were accompanied by a new addition to the celebrations as a fleet of illuminated drones took to the sky and began to form themselves into prearranged display formations, such as the number '2022' and spelling out 'Happy New Year'.


Back at Avlabari Palace, the Baibakovs had congratulated each other on their address before returning to their own celebrations, collecting Khoren from just outside the Hall before hurrying back to the sumptuous party where they were hosting their favourite cronies and lackeys from across the nation. Upon returning to their guests, the three of them were greeted with rapturous applause and cheers before breaking up to mingle; while Fyodor and Zahra stuck together, Feliks made a beeline straight for his favourite Serb. Dressed in a black tuxedo and chatting with his family, who had never attended anything quite so extravagant before in their lives, Mateja Čubrilović turned as he felt a tap on his shoulder and smiled warmly in response to the beaming grin on Feliks' face. The young Baibakov waved to Mateja's parents and grandmother, then turned his attention back to 'his Kapetan'.

"So, what did you think of the address?"

"It was good Feliks, nice and positive. I especially liked that bit where your father mentioned looking to the future and then you came into view, the message was pretty clear."

"Perceptive as ever, my Kapetan." Feliks paused briefly as he reached out to take a glass of shampansokye from the silver tray of a passing waiter, then took a sip and continued. "The day will eventually come when I become President of the Marimaian Federation, either because Papa decides to retire or...well, you know. If it's the second one then we hope that day doesn't come for a good long while. Anyway, Papa wanted to give me the final bit of the address so that our people will get even more used to me as an active figure of vital political significance."

"Did he say that, or is that your interpretation of what he said?"

"Okay, so I embellished it slightly. The point is that it helps to further establish my credentials as the future President if I'm more involved in Papa's speeches and announcements in addition to having my own." Feliks held up his fingers in the usual 'V' sign to signal to Khoren that he wanted a cigarillo, then sighed slightly at the sight of the item that he was handed instead. "I can't believe that I let you talk me into giving up for the New Year."

"It'll be good for you, Feliks. Trust me."

"Uh-huh. Still, gum? You could've at least let me vape for a few months or something."

"Vaping isn't much better than smoking, and you didn't want the nicotine inhaler because you said it looked like a plastic tampon, so gum and the patches." Mateja cocked an eyebrow at Feliks' continued grumbling and smirked slightly. "You didn't put a patch on, did you?"

"It wasn't 2022 yet, and I wanted one last smoke before we did the address." Feliks inspected the piece of nicotine gum in his hand and sighed once again. "I never would've made you Captain of my Secretariat if I'd known you were going to do this to me. Hang on, didn't they say that the effectiveness of the gum is reduced by alcohol consumption?"

It was now Mateja's turn to sigh. "You still need to get used to using it."

"Okay, fine." Feliks went to pop the gum into his mouth but paused at the last second. "Just for this, I'm really going to make you earn your money this year."

Mateja snorted and laughed at Feliks' attempted threat. "I'll live with it."

"Oh, we need to do this first." Feliks clinked his glass against Mateja's glass and grinned. "Happy New Year, my Kapetan."

"Happy New Year, Feliks." Mateja returned the clink and the pair drank from their glasses before the Serb regarded Feliks with an expectant look, maintaining it until the Vice-President let out a 'hmph' and finally popped the gum into his mouth.



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