Prologue: Beginning of Hostilities

The Government Building
Ibklask, Krakozhia
July 26, 2008

The two hundred Krakozhian and foreign journalists milling around the conference room were suddenly silenced upon a signal from the government assistants, who then ordered them to take their designated seats. The reporters waited patiently for the government official who would make tonight's announcement, never knowing that it would lead to one of the biggest events in the small nation's history.

Marshal Oleg Sergeyevich Dallutev walked out of a side room, into the conference room, and stepped onto a podium. He took a sip of water from a small plastic cup, cleared his throat, and spoke. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "thank you all for coming here tonight. It is an honor to speak with all of you.

"The Krakozhian Politburo has come to a decision regarding the Independent Republic of Rivymiyitevko." The media had to strain their ears to hear the last words in the sentence. The Marshal spoke them so fast; it was as if he were muttering an unspeakable curse. Most Krakozhians had still not come around to the fact that their two far-flung provinces in the Arctic had declared independence, but since almost no one else knew about the islands, there was no international pressure for recognition. Their revolt may have been on the news, but in the wake of September 11, all attention was focused on a rebuilding America, even in Krakozhia.

"The Politburo had decided to send a final diplomatic mission to Rivymiyitevko for negotiations. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Ofinovic will lead the mission, which will include some of our nation's best negotiators. The mission will cover a thirty-day period, after which the Politburo will use the results to deliberate the next course of action. Whatever the results are, this will be the final Krakozhian diplomatic mission to Rivymiyitevko. That is all for tonight. Are there any questions?"

A multitude of hands rose to the air, but Dallutev pointed at a female reporter in the middle. "When you said 'a course of action,' do you mean a military action?" she asked.

"I can neither confirm nor deny that Krakozhia is preparing for war."

A male American reporter was next to asking a question. "Marshal Dallutev, what is your opinion on the mission?"

"All I can say is that this can go either way."

"Comrade Marshal, I don't dare ask this, but if the mission fails, will the Politburo consider an invasion?"

"If the mission fails," said Dallutev, emphasizing the word if, "then an armed conflict could be the only option. That is all for tonight. Thank you." The Marshal left the room in a flurry of flashing lights and shouted questions.

"Did you really have to say that?" asked foreign secretary Ofinovic. He was watching the press conference from a passageway that led from the side room into the Government Building, home of the Krakozhian Politburo and Central Committee.

"Come on, Vladimir," said Dallutev, "everyone in Krakozhia knows we are poised to strike that island ever since the civil war ended."

"Oleg, how can you be sure that Military Plan One will work? It is almost twenty years old, by God! How sure are we that it will work with both old and new weapons?"

"Vladimir, there are tactics that we use that have been in existence ever since man first fought each other. I have complete confidence in Military Plan One."

Ibklask International Airport
That same time

"In all of my years in government service, I think that this is a futile gesture."

The speaker was Vasily Gregoriyevich Domovich, a notable member of the Politburo and father of Naval Chief of Staff Vasily Vasilyevich Domovich. He was talking to Vladimir Andreyevich Arigov, another Politburo member. Arigov was wearing a light gray suit with a white undershirt and a black tie. Domovich, on the other hand, was wearing civilian clothes, as he did on the rare occasions that he can.

"Had the president been an older person, I would have agreed," said Arigov. President Irina Adzhitekova was the youngest head of state in the world. "But, I don't know. Anything can happen in today's world."

"I think you're right," said Domovich. "Vasily told me that even Adzhitekova was considering an invasion. And I did not tell you that."

"But why is she still sending a diplomatic mission if she thinks that we have to invade that island?"

"I believe they will tell you on the flight."

Arigov looked at his watch. "Da, the flight should be boarding now. See you in thirty days, Vasily Gregoriyevich."

"Bring back a picture, will you?" Domovich said to Arigov's receding figure. The man turned around, but Domovich had already left. Arigov shook his head. He hoped that there wouldn't be any KGB people onboard the plane. That was one part of his congressional career he wouldn't miss.

Sonolovichyrevko, Rivymiyitevko
That same time

Konstantin Benin watched the announcement of the final diplomatic mission to Rivymiyitevko and turned off the television in disgust. "When will they ever learn?" he moaned into the air.

Benin was small in stature and composure. Measuring a mere five feet where people were quickly coming up to six, most of the people who have met him in person would say that he looked smaller than in his photographs, but they wouldn't dare say that to his face. His body was narrow, and his slim hips created a figure straight like an arrow, with no bits or bumps anywhere.

Benin was the heir to a family business which was the biggest in Bulgaria at the time of the Krakozhian revolution. Most of their property was located in the seceding provinces, and Konstantin had made the decision to sell it all and rebuild in the old Soviet island of Rivymiyitevko. And then, those darned communists came and claimed the island as theirs! Benin's family had always maintained a firm hold on the island since he was born, but they had been forced to let go upon the arrival of the communists. Konstantin couldn't have any of that. They can chase him out of their land, but not on his own. Soon after his exile, he gathered his brothers and sisters and other like-minded souls and told them of his goals. Soon, his movement grew, and in December of 2002, he launched the Arctic Revolution. The results need not be told.

"Mr. President!" The shout came from outside his room. Konstantin groaned, put on a bath robe, and answered the door.

"We must go to the communications room at once," said the technician, who immediately ran off. Benin had no choice but to follow.

"Mr. President, the Dosservich air traffic controller is calling," said one of the communicators as he entered the room. "He says that a Krakozhian special flight is inbound. Should I tell them to turn it around?"

"Do we have other options?" asked Benin.

"Our coastal surface-to-air missile batteries are tracking the inbound," replied Ekaterina Domshomidova. The eldest of the Benins after Konstantin, she had changed her surname at the onset of the revolution to make it look more like an authentic revolution, not just some family seeking retribution against the Communist government. The rest of her siblings did the same, except for Konstantin, who retained the family name. "I can give the order to launch if you wish."

"No, Ekaterina," said Konstantin. "Leave the Communists be. You, call Sonolovichyrevko and tell them to clear this airplane for landing." The technician ran off to another console and called the airport there, while brother and sister remained behind.

"What is happening, Konstantin?" asked Ekaterina. "Why have you let the Krakozhians into our country?"

"They are becoming desperate," he replied. "They are sending their diplomats in a last-ditch effort to claim our land."

"Is there anything you want me to do, brother?"

"Yes, there is, Ekaterina, if you don't mind. Why don't you greet the Krakozhians with your biggest smile, and then find some way to hold up the talks. Make sure that they get nothing important once they leave our land."

"But an invasion—"

"An invasion is not feasible for them. Yes, they have modernized their military, but they do not have the patriotic fervor they once had during the war with our Ixanian friends. Now, I am going to my room to rest. Another day at work awaits me, and I plan to be on top form tomorrow." With that, he returned to his bedroom, where he downed the drop of wine in his glass and then settled into his bed. No, the Krakozhians are too weak to fight so far away from their country, he thought, and he was sure of that.

He had no idea of how vastly he had underestimated the Republic of Krakozhia.