The Kalibad Conference

Military Air Station Kalibad/Kalibad International Airport

The unmarked 737 swept in from the north and after levelling off a few feet over the runway, finally set itself onto the runway, as two Flankers pulled away to enter a circuit over the airbase. The plane taxied into an empty military hangar and as the doors opened and the stairs unfolded from the plane, the waiting company of mixed military personnel came to attention. “Guard! Pre-sent…ARMS!” The men and women in the platoon brought their Simonov rifles infront of their bodies all while keeping their eyes straight ahead. The CM preferred the older rifles for ceremony because of their simple shape, with much less to get caught on a uniform. The guard looked sharp, they’d been practising all week, their rifles had been cleaned by the staff at the Presidential Guard in Coocoobad, where they’d been brought from and the drill staff from the same unit had the group well versed. They were mostly army from the Airborne division, which had been deployed in the whole Oblast for some months, some Airmen from this base and a few Naval personnel from the local reserve division, that had decided not to go away for the summer.

President Andrei Pakhomov knew most of this as a former soldier and always made a point of recognizing their hard work by inspecting them properly. He chatted with a few of them breifly, keeping things moving along, as even in the hangar, the hot sun was a nuisance to all of them. Then, he clambered into a Sport Utility vehicle, which he was using as a replacement for the older Chaika limousines, which he hated and sped off towards the city proper. He had always found it odd that the symbol of power and luxury in the Soviet Union was named after a god damned Seagull, and never found them to be luxurious in the least.

They set out, with the two SUVs of his security detail flanked by a Coocoo Autonomous Oblast police Car at either end. As they passed a bridge, Pakhomov took note of the inflatable boat putting along near the pylons, as well as the divers sitting by a UAZ van on the shore. When they passed a fork, they saw an armoured riot jeep with several helmeted police special forces waiting beside it. They arrived at the tallest building in the city, the Executive Hotel, a large, cylindrical glass structure and went to one of two large rooms on the top floor. Quickly he settled in, as the people under him made sure that the reception in the basement was ready and that the guard, band and welcoming party at the airport was ready for the next group.

Back at the Airport

“I keep telling you, I swear to god I saw a half-woman, half-cat driving a tank.” One of the Airborne Junior Sergeants was trying to convince a reserve navy cook of what he’d seen when he’d crossed paths with their visitors before as they sat on folding chairs in the hangar next to the one where the President had deplaned, before it was towed to the hangar on the other side, so the red-carpeted, spotless hangar could be used again.

“That’s not possible, that’s just too odd.”

“I thought so too, but you want to know something? She was quite beautiful.”

A friend of his butted in. “Are you professing your feline crush again Kolya? Tell you what, when that Herc with their cars pulls in, why don’t you go say hi to the first cat-girl you see? You could end up with a house with a white picket fence, a trampoline and a literal litter of them.”

“Well I could bring them by to visit their ‘Uncle Borya’ and have my littlest put a hairball right in your mailbox.”

The group of them quite enjoyed that quip and went about shining and waxing their rifles again, even though they looked very good already, the sun would melt the finish before they were done. A C-130 pulled in with a steady drone and went out of their field of view.

The sailor talked to Borya this time. “So you’ve really seen these, these cat women?”

Borya, who was a PFC, leaned forward. “Oh yeah, they’re something like 10% of their military. Good soldiers though, the…Hannabi regiment? Something like that, anyhow, they hold a candle to us paras. You know those armoured suits they have?”

The sailor nodded, somewhat wide-eyed.

“The cat-people drive them almost exclusively. They’re called Ravens, they are some stuck up though. You know how your Divers act, right?”

The sailor thought a second then remembered living in the diver tent on an exercise. They wore army greens most of the time, instead of the Navy coveralls, kept to themselves and though of themselves as special forces, when by any definition other than theirs, they weren’t.

“They’re aloof like that too. Still, they’re worth the discomfort of getting used to them.”

The Herc pulled to a stop with the ramp half down as a crew of the Royal Dannistrian Air Force began to unload vehicles. Sure enough, one of them had a black bob with dark brown triangluar ears poking through and a brown tail with white spots on it. The sailor’s eyes grew even wider. Finally, he spoke. “You know Junior Sergeant?” He was speaking to Kolya. “You could be right about these cat girls.”

They laughed again, before their Warrant Officer interrupted them. “ALRIGHT GROUP! Keep it to a dull roar!” He turned to face the sailor. “And son, the Junior Sergeant is completely right about the Nekomimi as they’re called. You’ll be happy to know they’re predominantly female, but, watch out for scratches, as they’re just like any other cat’s.” He smiled and walked off. The sailor paused, reflecting on how the already odd army sense of humour was only multiplied by these paras.

Military Air Station Kalibad/Kalibad International Airport

The neko soldiers all stood silently in a long double file line. The sergeant eyed them closely. Satisfied that they were in a presentable condition, she blew on a whistle for attention.

There was a loud shuffling as the soldiers all saluted in unison.
“106 Company! Jii’n Lui’on!”
The soliders all turned to the left in unison.
“106 Company! Forward march!”
The soldiers all marched foward. As they did so they passed a second group of Dannistrian soldiers waiting on the tarmac. They were more conventional soldiers from the 205th Royal Kitewood Guards. They waited patiently for orders from the sergeant. She finally turned around and instructed them to march over to the right. As the two groups reached the correct locations, the sergeant signalled for the two groups to halt. She then stood silently as an MD-11 of the RDAF suddenly came into view.

The plane skidded slightly as it touched down. The plane then taxied towards a waiting set of stairs. Once the plane was aligned correctly with the stairs, the plane door opens. A small group of soldiers and several police officers descended down the stairs and waited as Governor-General Marie Clahrk’sohn and the Prime Minister P’aanil F’orrlason-Smith descended down the stairs. They greeted the Coocoostani welcoming committee and made some small talk about the weather while waiting for further instructions on where to go.

Military Air Station Kalibad/Kalibad International Airport

The Prime Minister/Governor of the Coocoo Autonomous Oblast stepped forward.

“Madame Governor-General. Mr. Prime Minister. I am Yuri Simonov, Governor of the Oblast, as well as the Prime Minister. I hope you won’t mind the president’s absence, but he insisted on checking things over before your arrival at the hotel. Please don’t take his not being here personally, but I did form a political party with him, so I know he’s genuinely ecstatic to have you here. If you don’t mind, I can point a few things out to you as we drive to the hotel.”

Simonov, unlike his colleague and close friend had not served in the military and completely forgot about the various guards. There turned out to be room in the Dannistrian vehicles for Simonov and he basically told them a little about the city as the rural country turned into the city proper. They passed several intersections where the new CAO police were seconded by members of the Presidential Guard in their battle gear, with the Police throwing smoke grenades as the cars approached to block the view from certain angles. As they came into the city and drove briefly through a residential area, bystanders lined the streets, some waving, but most reserved, if not skeptical.

“So, Kalibad, aside from being the Oblast’s capital and centre…there’s my Government building over there, is also a lakeside resort. Unfortunately, it’s being overtaken by Ulgava, which has a nice lake, smaller, but no factories near it and Las Venturas, which is a tourist mecca all its own. Still, this is the core of the President’s support, plus he felt it was important to meet someone here anyhow, just to give the city a boost. We’re almost at the Lakeshore Hotel now, but do either of you have any questions?”

“Well, for the first thing, do we get a sea view in our room?” P’aanil asked jokingly. This elicitated a few chuckles from everyone in the car.
“On a more serious note, is there a set program or timetable for the time we are here? I ask as I am required to send those details back home to the Civil Service in Dannistaan so they may keep the paperwork in order back home, amongst other things.”

“Well,basically the President would like to negotiate our entry into the EP-NAM, plus some other items to strengthen relations. We cannot trade with you, as we’re members of the International Fair Trade Agreement. It was the only way we could trade with Kelssek. At any rate, you could apply for a special exemption if joining wasn’t an option. I know your Easterners wouldn’t be supporters of such an agreement.” Yuri finished his small speech.

“We’d expect the visit to last a few days, you’ll largely have tonight to yourselves, there’ll be a small social in the lobby or one of the ballrooms, the President would like to speak with you briefly. Tomorrow morning there would be time for you to visit somewhere if you’d like, although for a resort city, there isn’t a lot to do at the present moment. In the afternoon, the treaty could be hammered out as it’s only the finer details that would be in any doubt. There’s a state dinner planned for tomorrow evening. If you wish to leave after that, or in the morning, both are acceptable, as the President will be going to his hometown before returning to the capital as it was…hit by a small tornado. The emergency warning system we set up saved the day as far as we can tell, only a few trailers were damaged, one person killed. Of course, your aircraft and vehicles will be looked after and any supplies or help are just a phone call away.”

The vehicle pulled up to the hotel entrance. “Here we are. I’ll get the door for you and show you in.” Simonov led them up a red carpeted staircase into a roughly 15 story cylindrical building.

“Thank you,” P’aanil said as he followed, allowing the Governor-General to leave first.

As the group ascended the staircase, P’aanil spoke again.
“I’m sure EP-NAM entry is pretty much a done deal, so to speak. We are keen to expand the number of nations in the NAM. As for trade, although the other Dannistrian states and keen on seeing Fair Trade in the region, yes you are correct about the concerns East Dannistrians may have. I do hope some agreement on trade can be reached. As for that business with the tornado, I understand entirely and hope for a speedy recovery in the area that was hit.”

P’aanil indicated to one of his aides to note down the details for dispatch back home. He than continued chatting to Yuri.
“I been doing some reading up about Kalibad. Seemed like a nice place according the brochure,” he said with a wink, “I recall a while back one of my relatives, my uncle I believe, claimed to have visited here during the 80’s? Maybe early 90’s. I’m not sure if we was pulling my leg or if it is the truth. Still, I’m keen to do some quick sight seeing in the morning, assuming it is possible. Maybe take a few snapshots for the family album.”

“Well, Mr. Prime Minister, you’ll be happy to know that somebody’s deputy’s aide, or whoever it was, drew up some places to go on the other side of the lake. I know there’s a small canyon that’s impressive, plus some newer ruins, but the best of all is the first Slavic outpost in this area, it even has the first Orthodox Church in this country as far as we know. It’s currently being restored, but it’s still marvelous. Of course, I am from the other side of the lake, so I’m probably overlooking something.” Yuri paused before continuing.

“There’s no official welcome to the hotel, so I’ll just show you upstairs. The President should be all set in about two hours. If you’d like dinner before that, have your people call the kitchen, they’re well aware you’re here and the chef told me that he’s ready to try some more Daanistrian tastes if that’s what you’d like. Have a pleasant evening and I hope to see both of you again during the dinner tomorrow.” Yuri exchanged pleasantries and walked off, leaving the entourage in front of the doors to the large suites that had been picked out for them on the floor that had been reserved exclusively for them.

“May I be excused, your Excellency?” P’aanil asked Miss Clahrk’sohn.
“You are excused, Prime Minister,” she said softly with a small grin, “I bid you good night and hope to see you in the morning refreshed.”

P’aanil bowed and entered his suite. Marie did likewise.

Inside, P’aanil wrote down several details mentioned earlier on a piece of notepaper.
“Inform Dannistra Onn of these details,” he instructed an aide. The aide nodded as he took the paper and proceeded to a telephone on the far side of the hotel suite, furiously dialing away several numbers. P’aanil proceeded to admire the view from the windows. After several minutes, he walked over to the bedroom door in the suite.
“Right, I’m going to get some sleep. I’m not to be distrubed until the morning unless it’s an emergency or a matter of great urgence.”
“Yes Mr. Prime Minster,” the aides replied.

Yuri walked downstairs to visit the President before heading off.

The door was open slightly. The President was reading a report of some kind, while an aide stood over one shoulder and the Vityaz Warrant Officer over the other. Pakhomov looked up. “So Yuri, what are the guests like?”

“Well. The Governor General is quiet largely, I believe she realizes that she is in a ceremonial position and will allow Mr. F’orrlason-Smith to do his job. He himself is quite aimiable. I mentioned briefly our intentions regarding the EP-NAM and he himself thought that was an excellent idea. It should be very simple to hammer that out. Trade will be a hangup, because of the Easterners, but I was thinking that since the nation is a Confederacy and not a Republic, maybe the individual provinces could apply to the IFTA and squeeze the Easterners that way?”

“It’s an idea,” the president replied. “They’ll be sightseeing in the morning I hear?”

“Yes they will. They’ll see Kotoz Canyon, St. Katrina, plus the drive itself would be interesting. The COAP,CNP and Vityaz are at work on it.”

“Grand,” the president replied. “I just realized something important Yuri. If we are at the State Dinner tomorrow…we will not be able to watch the Boxing matches tomorrow.”

There was an uncomfortable pause, until Yuri realized Pakhomov was kidding.

“It’s the price of power I suppose. Any word from Secretary Tereshkova in the Capital?” Yuri asked.

“Well, Furmanov was in Aubrey this week opening the…peoplemover? and the capital is very quiet. The rumour there this week was that Sofia Gorshkova was going to attempt to retake the National Party leadership. I could do without any more of her.” The president spoke like this to only a few people and Simonov, as a long time ally, was the most frequent. “She’s just some rich woman who thinks that since her father made her a ton of money that makes her ‘ruling class’. Aren’t we supposed to stop worrying about class already?”

“She’s politically naive Andrei, she isn’t a threat to your hold on power. I’d say personally the biggest threat would be you yourself and even you aren’t mcuh to worry about.”

Andrei laughed somewhat. “I suppose that’s true. Of course, that’s what most of the people in opposition thought as well. So the plan is tomorrow is the big day, he sightsees with you while the rest of us draft the declaration, we have a nice state dinner, with the appropriate coverage, they go home in the morning, I go home too, then back to the Capital after making sure things are ok in Yost. Anything I’ve forgotten?”

“No. But perhaps the EP-NAM should have a summit. In a place like…Aubrey. It’s the fastest growing city in the country now, even the Capital can’t keep up. It could be a good opportunity to admit new members and help direct the alliance. We could even install a…Secretary-General I guess.” Yuri finished his small speech.

Pakhomov rose from his seat. “Yuri, this is another excellent idea,” he pointed to the aide as he finished that sentence. “It is why I promise you what many have speculated about. You will succeed me, I promise I will do all I can when the time comes. Now, you get to show our guests around tomorrow, so you should return to the Governor’s mansion.”

“Urra.” was Simonov’s only reply as he stepped out the door.

Executive Hotel, Kalibad
The next morning…

P’aanil was already up and strolling around the grounds of the hotel, aides in tow, while speaking to a BBC Dannistaan journalist who he had bumped into. The journalist wasn’t as lucky to get a room in the hotel. Instead he had to make do with either sleeping in the rental car he used or in a lower cost establishment. As a result he looked somewhat deshevelled and red eyed as he interviewed the Prime Minister on his plans.

“…So, what are your comments on the current internal problems the Coocoostanis are having at the moment? Would this in any way affect your dealings with them.”
“It is not for me to comment on another countries domestic matters. What I will say is that I do not intend to influence them nor do I intend for them to influence my dealings. Each nation has the right to decide its own path and that is my stance.”
“And what about the rumours that East Dannistaan may be squeezed out of a trade deal with Coocoostan?”
“It is not for me to infringe on state matters. It will be up to the State Parliament in East Dannistaan, as well as any other Dannistrian State, on whether they want to sign up to any trade agreements. Our political structure always has been to allow maximum flexibility when it comes to such dealings…”

The interview continued on at length over various other subjects. Each time P’aanil would give a fairly diplomatic answer, as was his style. Satisified he was not going to get any more out of the Prime Minister, the journalist thanked him for his time and left.

Kalibad Gypsy Reserve
2 Kilometres East of Kalibad

The situation with the reserve was getting worse. Some of the other ones, like in Petersburg, a tiny military town in the Tudor Oblast, had become a welcome addition to the community. But here in Kalibad, things were different. The reserve was surrounded by a roughly 3 metre high wall. Nobody was too clear why, but it was not only to keep the residents in, but the non residents out. The gypsies had been quite a sight when they were on their final migration to the reserve, with 5 ton trucks overloaded with the worldly possessions of a family. Now, after having been settled into the reserve, they wanted to go protest, hopefully attracting some foreign attention. But it was not to be. The regular police presence at the gate was supplemented by roadblock about 50 metres past that. One of the famous gypsy trucks was arriving after a long trip when a television had fallen on top of one of the reserve members riding a dirtbike. The road, the only one directly to the city from the reserve, was closed. When the first of the band attempting to get out came upon the roadblock, tensions were high. “So, you’ve staged a car accident to keep us in have you?”

The police response was terse. “No, you can blame the latest idiot to come here for improperly securing a load. You could always take the back road out.” The back road was basically that, a road through the desert for 15 minutes which joined the main road near the Southern suburbs of Kalibad. By the time they arrived as close to the hotel as traffic was allowed, the Prime Minister was apparently gone. Not that anyone would have seen them so far away.

The entourage returned to the hotel at around noon, noticing that more checkpoints were set up then when they had left. They had indeed visited the Kotoz Canyon, remarkable because of how it was only about 300 metres long, making it somewhat of an anomaly, the St. Katherine Mission was also interesting, they’d attended a ceremony in which Kalibad’s baseball team had changed it’s nickname to the “Missions”, as the “Pelicans” didn’t apply so much, as the Pelicans in the area were functionally extinct. As they drove back, the convoy slowed inexplicably, with some relief when Vityaz members pointed out that it was just a family of Ibix crossing the two-lane highway. The small antelope were very unique, as they could survive in this combination of a desert and mountain range. They also had a great deal of skill in jumping from ledge to ledge, but no one was lucky enough to see that.

The Dannistirans were escorted into one of the hotel’s ballroom, where a lunch table had been set up for them, with largely local fare, such as open-faced sandwiches and several samovars. Across the hall, the room for the state dinner was being set up. A crash was heard. “Careful! You know these Dannistrians, they…” an policeman ran into the other room and some arguing was heard, muting the end of the joke. A Vityaz officer walked up to and saluted the Prime Minister. “Mr. Prime-Minister, the President will meet you in forty-five minutes in the conference room. Of course, should you need more time then that, we shall be happy to oblige you.”

“No, that will be sufficient. Please tell the President we will be more than happy to meet him in 45 minutes…that is…if it will be acceptable to you, Excellency?” P’aanil turned to face Marie, who was eyeing the items on the table.
“It is,” she said in reply. She smiled, jokingly chastising P’aanil for interupting her while she was chosing what items she was going to eat.
“Then it is settled,” P’aanil said, turning back to the officer, “45 minutes it is.”

The 45 minutes seemed to pass faster than the last few days had, but soon enough, lunch was over, the tea had been served(albeit a little early) and Prime Minister Simonov escorted the pair to meet the President. After pleasantries were exchanged, the Prime Minister excused himself. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been so busy being prime minister these last several days, I need to take time to be Governor of this Oblast.”

“So Mister Smith. P’aanil. Let us begin with the easy part. We are very interested in membership in the EP-NAM, as you’ve no doubt heard.I understand that we may be afforded a somewhat junior position as newer members, but we were hoping to have some sort of NAM summit in a place like, of course, anywhere would be fine really. Before we get any further though, while not a member of EPTO, or even a supporter, we do have a naval base in the Free Pacific States and they do have a military base in this…” he leaned over a map and circled a 500 kilometre radius,“approximate area that does include nuclear weapons, which we both control under a dual-key agreement. I understand this could be seen as taking sides, but it is a worthy trade off in my opinion, as it gives our fleet the ability to operate in the southern part of the region, where as you’ve no doubt noticed, trouble seems to have found a home lately. Would that be an obstacle to membership?”

P’aanil sat and nodded as the President detailed all the foreign military assets. He paused and rubbed the beard on his face before answering.
“To address your concern over the position of membership, there is no ‘junior’ position in the EP-NAM. We are firm believers that all members of the EP-NAM are equals. As for the military bases, I do not believe they will be much of an obstacle. The EP-NAM believes strongly in self-determination and it is up to each nation what they do in terms of defence. Even if they are co-operating with another power. What would be an obstacle is if there is a firm committment to help the FPS regardless of the situation or conflict, such as if you were a member of the EPTO or signed a firm military alliance with them. We know that the former is not true, but as for the latter, if you can clarify I’m sure that either way we can work something out.”

Andrei smiled, this was going to work after all. “Mr. Prime-Minister, while we have assisted the FPS with security problems in the past, my administration will limit co-operation between our two militaries to the bases. I’m also pleased to hear the EP-NAM feels so strongly about equality amongst members. I would be more than happy to sign something formally committing us to NAM membership here, or at a later date. Regardless, I’d like to move on to trade. I see you’ve heard about our proposal for the Dannistrian domininons to join the IFTA on their own. Now, I have not been in contact with the IFTA on the matter and am not sure if it is possible, but it is the only way we can trade with you. The IFTA requires an exemption to trade with non-members and I don’t believe we could acquire one, due to labour practises in some more…easterly possessions. What do you think of said proposal?”

“We have no issues with either an exemption or allowing individual states to join on their own,” P’aanil said, “In this kind of situation, what usually happens is that an agreement is drawn up with an escape clause. The clause is usually exercised by the East Dannistrians and no more. However, I would need to make these options known to the First Ministers of each Dannistrian state before a final decision can be reached. Apart from that, there should be little issue.”

Andrei nodded. “Alright, that sounds similar to some Kelssekian law if I’m not mistaken. We’ll have our Financial Secretariat contact their equivalents in your government to help them develop a proposal, which I’m sure will end up on your desk. Now, about Bai Lung…do you need any more assistance on the Island itself? I can spare maybe a division, but not much else, our army is soon to shrink considerably, we are going to emphasize quality and mobility over quantity. It’s certainly a far cry from my own service under communism, but then again, that was an alternative to jail. Now, our own experience in Bai Lung has been that the colonists don’t really care much about politics, so if you need help, we’ll get it to you, even if its only for a few weeks.”

“I think we can manage in Bai Lung proper itself. Things are heating up a little but we can manage.”

P’aanil paused for a moment to take a drink from a glass of water.

“I know what you mean about armed forces strength. The Dannistrian Army was based on the assumption that recruitment figures would be low due to our small population, so what few soldiers we do have are trained to be just under, if not on par, with most nations special forces. But anyway…we are more concerned about keeping the situation in the mainland territories stable. Your forces have done well so far in keeping the situation calm there and we are eager to keep it that way. If you are insistant in helping, we would appreciate if you keep troops in the mainland territories until the Bai Lungese Government can settle down. While I’m at it, I would also like to thank you for the hospitality shown to the RDAF forces that are still stationed here. It has been most helpful.”

Andrei began. "Well Mr. Smith, I don’t mind not deploying troops as it would’ve involved robbing Peter to pay Paul I’m afraid, we’ve got three active theatres right now, although the Airborne division, soon to be two airborne brigades will be returning from this Oblast soon enough. They’re deployed near our northern border in the north east part. As for our Air Force, I just approved their new order of battle, which includes a squadron of Frogfoots here.

If you appreciate their work as much as you’ve said and your people get on with them, you should make an alliance with them. It’s the military equivalent of sister cities or the like. That’s another thing, I arranged that with some Kelssekian cities and it’s working out quite well, so seeing your nation is the new real friend we’ve discovered in the region, we should pair up some cities. Again, its something we can work out at a lower level later.

There’s one final favour you can do for me and that’s getting me in touch with Mr. Drapo of Dovakhan. I know I’ll meet him soon enough, but I’d like to get relations with them rolling as well, before his retirement. Not that I fear any potential replacement, but Mr. Drapo is an excellent statesman and I fear it would be foolish not to capitalize on the opportunity to deal with him."