Here lies the seventh episode of the sorry saga of death, despair and countless lost hours that is Make Love, Note Statecraft. For late arrivals to this series and those who need some reminding, feel free to start from the beginning, check out last week’s episode or dive right into this quagmire.



Mission accomplished. The Durendal Khanate had brought enduring freedom to the socialistic masses of DACT. All it took was a small expeditionary force of tens of thousands of battle-hardened troops, coupled with close-air support from attack helicopters, and, of course, the careful application of a hundred-odd cruise missiles. Our horde, the Isten Kardja, encountered little resistance during the multi-pronged invasion. Operation TIMBER was a complete and total success, toppling the government of DACT with ease.



Of course, it’s one thing to conquer--I mean, liberate--a country. It’s a whole other endeavor entirely to try and occupy one. Mind, we intended to be there only a little while. It was merely a preemptive, punitive strike on the nuclear, rogue state of DACT. We’d consider leaving once they gave up their nukes. The Khan Doctrine would have been fulfilled and we would have all gone our separate, merry ways.



Unsurprisingly, that did not happen. Something far worse came instead, threatening to wipe out the entire world...of Statecraft.


But, something far more pedestrian, yet infinitely more annoying, transpired before the cataclysm could ravage our world.


Namely, bad press. Sure, we were prepared for a teensy bit of blowback. Every liberator has to deal with a few sour grapes--it comes with the territory! It all started with our justification of war and subsequent victory over the communist state of DACT. It was fairly innocuous and par for the Durendalian course, if you ask me:



The Durendal Khanate has decided, in the interest of global peace and with a goal of ensuring the nonproliferation of WMD and nuclear technology, to occupy the cities formerly belonging to DACT for the foreseeable future. While this "Changing of the Guard" may appear threatening to the Khanates newest neighbors, it is not necessarily so. DACT clearly violated the provisions laid out in the Nuclear Provisions passed by this community (they possessed more than 1 nuclear weapon) and may have conspired with other nations to wage war against their neighbors. The Khanate feels no guilt and no remorse in ensuring that nuclear weapons are not produced and nuclear technology is not traded about like hot cakes! We collectively have failed to fund the IAEA and the Khanate is keeping its word to bear the burden of maintaining global order and peace! In other news, the Khanate is leasing exclusive beach front properties at bargain rates! Imagine! Beautiful vistas, wild horses galloping through the white sand, clear blue water, and 5 star security provided by the Khan's finest forces! If you have any political concerns or real estate questions please refer them to me. Keep on rocking in the FREE WORLD everybody!  - Jeremiah Miller, Emissary of the Khan, Trade Master of the Khan, ANGIE'S LIST RATED REAL ESTATE AGENT.”



This diplomatic missive also included a few choice videos, including the anthem of the Isten Kardja. The most important of video, however, was a cute little song asking, “Who’s next?”



To our complete and total surprise, folks did not appreciate our humorous antics, nor accept our inherently sound argument for our certifiably just war. The class following the invasion was one of the most tense I can remember. The glares we got from DACT were enough to make even a polar bear shiver. But, as brave Paladins and Khans of the Isten Kardja, our group couldn’t be openly bothered. So, we continued our displays of irreverence and indisputable dominance over the game.



Some folks were more than a little bit hurt by the invasion. Our invasion and subsequent diplomatic missive did not go over terribly well and some not-so-kind words, such as “colonialist” and “white cis-male monster” were thrown towards us. Although our jokes may have been too soon, the accusations that we were little more than 18th century-style, white imperialists--with all of the implications that go along with that label--went a little too far. We were just playing a game; there was nothing personal about the invasion. We made the rational decisions, weighed the costs and sought victory.



From a realist point of view, we’d had made the “right” decision. We’d saved points for the entire class, while at the same time boosting the strategic position of the Khanate. But from a constructivist point of view, that might not have been the best idea. For the people of DACT, their country and their nukes were points of pride, and the Khanate had taken it away from them. The threat of conquest was a normal part of the game, but having it actually happen to you would be quite a shock. Thus, it was completely understandable, even rational, for the people of DACT to be hurt and use inflammatory rhetoric.



In any event, Freuden of Styrkuria volunteered to be the liaison between the Khanate and DACT during these trying times. Privately, within the NOTO alliance, the Styrkuri had not been thrilled to have been out of the loop. We’d invaded DACT unilaterally, without their consultation. Of course, under the NOTO guidelines, that was to be expected. It was merely a defensive pact, after all.



Still, the signaling from our NOTO allies was not good. It was fortuitous, then, that during one of the many peace negotiations, Ellery, a member of Maldonia, approached me. They wanted a non-aggression pact, especially after what had transpired. I gave them one better: a defensive alliance, on several conditions.



What they didn’t know was this: the Khanate had a few secret goals in the game of Statecraft. Every country had a different set of goals, all of which were difficult to obtain and therefore worth many points. Ours weren’t easy: we had to prevent both Maldonia and their neighbor, Degostan, from obtaining a nuke. In Maldonia’s case, it was even more difficult: we had to prevent them even having the technology.



Thus, I inserted a stipulation within our new alliance that Maldonia couldn’t research, own or obtain nuclear weapons. In return for mutual defense and respect, we’d also share intelligence and coordinate on military matters. This was particularly fortuitous, seeing as Maldonia, with the funds they’d garnered from Sapphire island, had recently constructed the CIA big project. It gave them free spy reports on every country in the game...and they were more than happy to share once they were under the Khanate’s nuclear umbrella.



Thus, the new Alliance of Enduring States (EDS) was born, more secret than even NOTO. Not even Freuden knew, until the end. It was nice to know the Khanate had a few, new friends, even after all that had happened. Sure, it was in their best interest to be our friends, lest they face annihilation. But friends they were, even still.



Sudden social ostracization and unpopularity aside, the Khanate was in a great place going into turn 7. We had three new cities in which to build new structures in order to improve the quality of life of our collective people. Furthermore, the injection of some of the socialistic, digital populace of the former nation of DACT had changed our political makeup drastically. While before we were having some problems with our sizeable environmentalist and capitalist classes, now with the addition of these socialists, these previously threatening constituents were now tiny minorities.



Even so, we had plans in place to appease at least the environmentalists, having built the Pollution Refractor, a big project that eliminated all industrial pollution.  That was particularly powerful, seeing as our industrial revolution had turned our countryside into a radioactive waste site. Soon enough, we’d be a model, environmentally-friendly nation.



With all of these events behind us, we went into Spring Break, happy with the thought that, soon, the game would be over and we would “win” the game. We would have brought peace, justice, and order to the world.



Then, in the middle of Spring Break, we all received a harrowing message.



A pandemic had hit the world of Statecraft.



And it had hit us first.