Up next is the third installment of the tale of my descent into the void of power politics and nuclear brinksmanship. For those just joining us, feel free to start from the beginning, pick up from last time or just dive right in.
We had nukes. But the more important question was: did anybody else? And did anyone else know we had them? And for that matter who gave them to us?
After all, we didn’t have the technology required to build them, nor the resources. To build just one nuclear warhead cost as much as a big project and we had three. That was enough to level Styrkuria to the ground, if necessary. They were our only military assets, for that matter. Officially, we were armed to the teeth with men and women ready to die for the Khanate. But in reality we were little more than a paper tiger. Albeit a tiger with nukes.
Fearing it could be a bug or an accident, we decided to keep quiet about it. We wouldn’t want our sudden “fortune” going out with in a computerized poof of ones and zeroes. We were a theocratic Khanate, so we had the perfect code word in mind. Oh, did I neglect to mention that we were religious zealots who worshipped the one true god, Kyle? Kyle was our professor and he had “god” control over the game, so naturally we created the International Church of Kyle. Nobody had joined except us at this point, but the heathens would eventually know better.
Regardless, we codenamed our nuclear arsenal “Kyle’s Blessing.” In case anyone (including our god-professor himself) intercepted our memos and plans, they wouldn’t have concrete proof of our arsenal. Mind, if Kyle really wanted to, he could poke around our military, but we’d decided not to tip him off just yet. Just in case.
With a nuclear payload in hand and the possibility of our rival being blessed as well, we had to tread carefully. I knew that if war were to come over the Orion Mountains, strategic use of nuclear weaponry would be a scary possibility. There was a points penalty for using them, but if the gains from them outweighed that negligible cost...a grisly calculus would point to the efficient outcome. With that in mind, I decided to negotiate with Master Commander Freuden herself. Obviously formal memos and treaties had gotten us nowhere, so it was time for some backchannel diplomacy.
I cornered her after class one day, to make amends for the supposedly inflammatory saber rattling and talk about the Orion Mountains problem. Unsurprisingly, she was receptive -- she was no ideologue with a hatred of our nation. Yet. I proposed a potential chain of events to her. It boiled down to this:
We needed the Mountains and until we got them back, our freedom fighting group would raid Styrkuria. Each turn the raids would get proportionally higher, with the Orion Liberation Front stealing more and more vital resources from Styrkuria...and giving us our cut of the take from time to time. There were only two violent ways of getting rid of “terrorists” -- sending in commandos or having the host country shut bases down with their military. Since we wouldn’t get rid of a force helpful to us and we had no infantry, the latter option was off the table from the start. The former option was untenable this early in the game -- the technology for commandos was one of the last in the military chain. That meant there was only one way of getting rid of the terrorists: giving the Orion Mountains back to us, willingly or not.
With this context in mind, I informed that under the current circumstances, the Khanate wouldn’t disband the OLF and we knew that Styrkuria had no commandos. That was no surprise to her, of course. I then told her how the violent scenario would play out: we need the mountains, so we’d mobilize troops. In response, they’d mobilize their own, creating a veritable arms race. Eventually things would come to a head, we’d go to blows and one of us would have the mountains. All at the cost of valuable time, resources and international good will.
Thus, I had a compromise for her. In exchange for giving us the Orion Mountains back, we’d give her 500 gold per turn (half the base production of the mountains) and 500 scientific knowledge. In addition, we’d form a (secret) defensive alliance that would reduce mutual animosity and fear of war. Although we were rivals, if we weren’t focused on killing each other, it would make our international aims a priority and as a bloc we could defend ourselves against interlopers.
I laid it out plainly, omitting any of the usual Durendalian flowery language. Freuden wasn’t the type who’d respond to empty platitudes. Cold, hard logic and reason would be all that would win her over. The good news was that it did. She said she’d talk it over with her cabinet and get back to me. I reminded her that sooner was better than later, or an arms race would start to look more attractive.
The following Friday evening we found ourselves at the negotiating table in an empty classroom, drafting what would become the charter of North Orion Treaty Organization (NOTO). During the negotiations, the Master Commander let slip that they had nuclear weapons as well and they knew we did too. I tried my best to feign surprise. It turned out that countries 1 and 2 always started with enough nukes to wipe each other out...and in most games of Statecraft, they do. This was part of the reason why Freuden was so receptive: she didn’t want to have a cold war that ended up going south. If we were on the same team, that would reduce those chances immensely.
After filing away that tidbit in the back of my mind, we continued negotiations. After negotiating down the SK tribute per turn to 350 and ensuring a most-favored nation status with them, the final draft was as follows:
A Treaty to Free the Orion Mountains:
Demands from the Durendal Khanate to be delivered by Styrkuria:
1. Give possession of the Orion Mountains to the Durendal Khanate immediately after the passing of this treaty
2. Form a binding military alliance through the creation of the North Orion Treaty Organization (NOTO)
Demands from Styrkuria to be delivered by the Durendal Khanate:
1. The Durendal Khanate is to give Styrkuria 500 Gold and 350 Scientific Knowledge per turn, beginning the turn after ratification and repossession of the Orion Mountains by the Durendal Khanate
2. The Durendal Khanate must shut down all terrorist groups and organizations within its borders (if Statecraft does not do so immediately)
1. Collective defense through NOTO, does not include offensive military actions in any form
2. No selling, trading, donating or disseminating nuclear weapons in any way shape or form to any actor defined as a state, including Sapphire Island, and any non-state actors, including the OLF, Pirates, and any other groups not mentioned in this treaty
3. Preferred Nation Status in trade. *preference is defined as willingness to trade, and unwillingness to trade must be justified to the other party (this provision of the treaty is to be non-binding and not adhering to this provision does not signify breaking this treaty)
4. If the Sword of Amaru is activated, then both parties will work together to prevent any damage to global security and protect the internal and external security of Styrkuria and the Durendal Khanate at all costs
5. These agreements and knowledge of mutual possession of nuclear power are not to be shared with other states or state representatives without the consent of all involved parties and representatives
The final clause in bold was the most important: our collective nuclear arsenal, as well as our alliance, were to remain state secrets, unless under the case of mutual consent. We didn’t want anyone knowing about our alliance or our atomic power unless absolutely necessary. If they knew too early or the wrong people found out, countries might balance against us and we’d find ourselves in an international crisis. If that happened, a cycle of nuclear armament and conflict would be inevitable. Game over.
So, right after that meeting I did the only rational thing considering the circumstances: I told the leader of another nation that Styrkuria had nukes.