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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 19

Ulan Bataar was the largest city in Mongolia, where most of it's urban population lived. Now that Mongolia had begun the invasion of Russia, it's populace had begun to spread into occupied Russia. While Mongols and Chigols were as far as Ulan-Ude, most of the Mongolian military forces were massed in Sühbaatar, on the Mongolian side of the border. But still, Ulan Bataar was the capital city. By custom, important diplomats would be met there.

A small transport plane landed in Ulan Bataar. It was painted extravagantly with the insignia of The Claw. Metzger left the plane, accompanied by Krauss as his honor guard. Metzger was the last to arrive at the proceedings, though he had called them.

When he had finally taken the podium before a room full of diplomats, Metzger realized there were far more people there then he had expected. A polyglot hovered near Metzger, ready to translate a plethora of languages. Metzger wondered absently at why these proceedings had been changed from a private conference to...a circus.

A man called out in Spanish. The translator said, "The Spanish ambassador asks, 'Well, Metzger, you've called for this meeting, what's it all about?'"

Translators all around the room began chattering as Metzger began speaking.

"First, I'd like to apologize for not holding this, uh, conference in Washington, but, as you all know, we are in a very volatile and unstable state at the moment. But, what this is all about is a proposal which I would like to make to Emperor Bleda and to General Igoumensita. I'm glad the rest of you have decided to join us, but I'm not sure why."

There was some disturbed talking from the various emissaries, but it quickly subsided.

"What I'm proposing is a coalition. A coalition between Mongolia, the Eastern Bloc, and The Claw. All three of our nations have declared war in our own particular ways, and I think we could all benefit greatly from coming together in a formal alliance."

Metzger had not actually known about the Eastern Bloc until Krauss had filled him in. It had been formed while Metzger was in jail in Germany, and he had never really learned about it.

Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, former Yugoslavia, Romania, and Bulgaria had come together to form a union of the eastern European nations. It wasn't like an empire, just a conglomeration for mutual defense. There was no longer a separate army for Greece, Albania, etc., but a single Eastern army. Instead of some dozen weak armies, one strong army came together. Recruits trained throughout all of the Eastern nations, getting a feel for the whole general area. In this way, the nations all provided for one another's defense.

Tariffs were eliminated, trade increased between the neighbors. Every nation was still individual, but they all managed to benefit from the unity. More nations ran to join the Eastern Bloc at the expense of the defunct European Union. All of eastern Europe came to join the Eastern Bloc. It's borders were Italy, Austria, and Germany. Those three nations and everything west of them preferred to stand on their own as the unofficial remnants of the EU.

Dimitri Igoumensita was a Greek, and the commander of the Eastern Army. He had considerable forces from the many countries which comprised the Eastern Bloc. He had lately been growing militant, invading Turkey, Italy, and Russia. Nerves were frayed, and it was growing close to all out war. Apparently Metzger intended to make real war begin.

"I think we can all take a lesson from the Eastern Bloc," began Metzger, "In that many weak countries allying themselves together can create a strong force, without losing their identity. To be honest, I need some reinforcements, even though the Americans are failing miserably in their siege. I think Germany is sending forces to America."

The German ambassador, who had been listening quietly to Metzger, suddenly started.

"That's right," he said, "You're holding one of our generals hostage."

"General Krauss is certainly no hostage. He's my protégé. Isn't that right, Krauss?"

Krauss looked about nervously. He was sweating.

"Yes, yes, that's right."

"Still, the chancellor isn't going to stand for it. She's already writing up a declaration of war."

Metzger looked around. He suddenly had a flash of inspiration. He removed a document from his uniform, and made a number of changes.

"I've decided to revise my proposal," he said, "I'd still like for Mongolia and the Eastern Bloc to form a coalition with me. But," he said, pausing for importance, "I'd like to open the offer up to any nation. Any nation that wants to be a part of something strong.

"I think I do know why you're all here. You're here to see how my meeting will affect all of your countries. Well, I'll tell you how it could affect your countries. I think we all know that a full fledged war is coming on. There are three choices for any of you. You could maintain neutrality, and accomplish nothing in particular. You could align yourselves with America and Russia, and whomever else might be aiding them. Or," he said, pointing his finger into the air, "or, you could do something that will change the course of history.

"I see representatives from a lot of weak countries here today. Many of you are unwilling to admit that, but down in your gut you know that you're weak. I, for one, know that I control a weak nation. But take a look at Mongolia for a moment. No one ever considered Mongolia to be anything. But with a tiny change in fortune, Mongolia is now a super power, soon to be a huge empire."

Bleda Khan and his entourage all smiled broadly.

"Or pick any name out of the Eastern Bloc. Would you call any of those nations strong? But together, aren't they a force to be reckoned with?"

Igoumensita scowled, but he had been scowling all along so Metzger didn't take it as a particularly indicating sign. The fact of the matter was that Igoumensita was somewhat preoccupied by the Polish Warsaw uprising, and was not particularly interested in these proceedings.

"I would like the aid of Mexico and Canada, to help me by invading America. I'm sure Emperor Bleda could use help. And, General Igoumensita, wouldn't you like some allies before you begin any attacks into Europe?"

Igoumensita nodded thoughtfully.

"I'd like to give you all the chance to become strong. I promise that any nation that joins my coalition will have land, money, resources, people,...and power. Real power. A real say in world affairs."

The Spanish ambassador piped in, saying, "How much? I don't think any of us here are willing to start a war for vague promises."

"Well, I'll strike a deal with any nation who wants to become part of The Coalition."

The ambassadors could all hear Metzger say "coalition" as though it were a hallowed, reverent, capitalized word.

"You could all settle for good enough. You could all say, 'I don't want to rock the boat, I don't want to do anything that could jeopardize my current position'. But, when you think about it, what is your current position? The fifth largest this, the seventh largest that. None of you are first in anything. I offer you the chance to be first. Do you want to live in the shadows of nations like America and Germany all of your life? Or do you want to be the ones who have other nations cowering in your shadows?

"I'm just offering an opportunity here. An opportunity to tilt the world, knock it back on it's heels. Any one of you could be a part of that. Or, you could fight alongside the Americans like you always have and when the fighting’s all over get a little pat on the head from them. 'Good job,' they'll say, and then leave you and patronize you and condescend you for a couple of years. Would you like that? Or would you rather have some real power and carve your own path?"

By the end of the month, when all the debating and arguing and checking was done, seven nations rejected Metzger's offer. America, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, Germany, and France would not join The Coalition. A few dozen countries around the world stayed neutral. Mongolia, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Japan, the Eastern Bloc, most of Africa, most of South and Central America, and, to put it simply, the whole rest of the world, joined the Coalition.

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