A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

Nature is pleased with simplicity. And nature is no dummy.
(Isaac Newton)

While RRA was still contemplating how to avoid future disasters – well, near-disasters, NASA was sending the second mission to the Moon. Lunobegún-11 took off on Thursday, March 26th, 1959. Destination was the Crater Klaproth in the lunar south. The search for water had now begun in earnest. Also, the Kikimora was carrying a Lunikhod, a six-wheeled survey vehicle, this time.

In fact, the area near the lunar south pole had been identified as promising. It offered ideal communications with NSÓ and Achinsk – and it might hold water, somewhere down beneath the rugged surface. That was the great hope. Once water had been found, Dyéstvye Lunyedom – Operation House on the Moon, was going to supersede the current Dyéstvye Luná – Operation Moon.

One would have to bore for the water. If Klaproth was suitable, already the next mission was going to transport drilling equipment. NASA was confident to be able to land Kikimoras in close distance to one another. After all, the landing trestle was remaining in place – and was acting as radio beacon for homing in the next mission. Also, the Lunikhod was designed to remain useable, recharged by solar light.

Acquired routine was telling. Everything went according to plan. By 14:35 Moscow time, Lunobegún-11 was on the way to the Moon.
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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.
(Herbert Spencer)

The great march-past was over; the soldiers had returned to their peacetime garrisons. Hauptmann K’wapelo had made off too. What remained were refugees – well, displaced persons, to use the official gobbledygook – crowding the shanty towns. They were a mixed lot of Kenyans, mainly from the lowlands. In theory, they could go home. De facto, they wouldn’t budge, as the civil war in Kenya was just about to begin. The Muramba government was supporting them with foodstuffs and other bits and pieces. Hermann Kizwete thought it was a mistake, but unfortunately his opinion wasn’t heard in Daressalam.

One was back to normal routine, more or less. The painting thieves hadn’t been identified – and there was no hope to ever apprehend them. The department was kept busy with investigating petty crimes – shoplifting, theft, drug dealing, child prostitution, the habitual assortment. Of course, the DPs were in the thick of it, but they were only pawns, not the chiefs. – That was the state of affairs, when Hermann was alerted in the middle of the night: a corpse had been found in the Chumbageni mansion district, a corpse with three bullet holes in his chest…

Chumbageni was a neighbourhood of the upper working class – technicians, clerks, craftsmen, artisans. It positively was no crime hot spot. The house containing the corpse was a three-storey apartment building. A fire had broken out in the apartment with the corpse. The fire brigade had found the dead body and called the police – after obfuscating all traces… The name plate said ‘B’wameni’, but the neighbours said the B’wamenis were on vacation.

The corpse was a man of middle age and normal build. No documents, no keys, no trinkets, empty pockets. The neighbours said they never had seen him before. – The B’wamenis were where? In Usindja, at a camping ground on the shore of Lake Victoria. Leo B’wameni was a carpenter, his wife Elli a house wife. There were two kids, Hanne and Geli. They had left last week. – The shots, had anyone heard shots? No, no shots, without a doubt. It had been a quiet evening and a silent night – until the fume had been noticed.

Hermann was thrilled. A mysterious corpse… That ought to be a case to his liking. Okay, ascertain all traces the fire fighters haven’t corrupted, have the dead body transported to the morgue and scrutinised by the pathologist. – How late was it? Four-thirty in the morning. Too late to go to bed again… Where could he get a coffee now?
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When it is dark enough, men see the stars.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The bloody Lunikhod wouldn’t move! It sat in its frame – and didn’t come out. But it should; simple tug ought to suffice. Vladimir Ivanovich Golovanov cursed rudely. The frigging vision panel was blaring too much, although the sun shield was down. He squinted, tried to discern whether something was arresting the cursed vehicle. There was… nothing. He cursed again.

“What’s up, Volodya?” came Genya’s – Yevgeny Ilyich Berzan that was – voice over the earphones.
“Crappy tumbrel won’t budge.” muttered Golovanov.
“Have you tried to start it?”
“Can’t get at the controls. Frame is too tight.”
“Wait, I’m coming.”

Golovanov turned around and watched Berzan lollop close. Moving in lunar gravity was cool, essentially. The problem lay in the protective suits. They were too rigid. One could manage, but it looked awkward. In the meanwhile, Maxim ‘Max’ Kirillovich Veshnyak, the third man, residing inside the Kikimora, was informing Achinsk about the delay. Achinsk thought that, once the frame had been opened, the Lunikhod should easily come out. Buffoons!

Berzan had investigated the offending object.
“We need a cable. We can fasten it there…” he pointed to the lug at the prow of the vehicle, where Golovanov had already pulled in vain with his hands, “and then together drag it out of the box.”
“Yeah, got one here.” said Veshnyak. His arm, beckoning with a small cable roll, appeared in the hatchway. Golovanov climbed up and took it.

“All right.” Berzan unrolled the cable after attaching it to the lug. “Take hold, Volodya. One, two, three, pull!”
The Lunikhod jolted and moved a bit, but still was stuck in the frame. Only the front wheels were now above the ramp.
“Again! – And again! And again!”
The vehicle came stuttering down the ramp. Yet, the wheels continued to be jammed.

“Kharashó! Let’s start the bitch.”
“It’s broken, Genya. The idiots have given us junk to carry to the moon.”
“Rubbish! We need to unfold the solar panels and charge the battery. It’s completely run-down.”
“Yeah. But first I’ve to get inside. Breathing air is low. Need a recharge.”
“Blimey! Mine as well. Let’s go.”

Golovanov cast a look around, before climbing inside the Kikimora behind Berzan. The Russian flag was standing inertly where they had planted it. At least that had worked. Crater Klaproth was rather flat, filled by eruptive rock, the scientists had lectured. One had landed pretty much in the centre of it. The outer rims were more than fifty versts away, craggy walls of considerable height. Everything was grey. Harsh spot…
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The dwarf sees farther than the giant, when he has the giant’s shoulders to mount on.
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

To solve the Norwegian deadlock, all parties had eventually agreed to stage new elections at short notice. This was a flexion of the constitution, which demanded the Storting to serve out its four-year term, but as it offered a solution to the predicament, it had been generally accepted. And to everybody’s surprise – at least abroad – the Nasjonal Union, Vidkun Quisling’s movement, had won. Upon that baffling outcome, King Olav V – and his family – returned from asylum in Sweden. Quisling’s claim that the majority of the nation was supporting him, had been proven past dispute. – Internationally, the news that the chief putschist and his gang of jingo goons had been elected to power didn’t solicit rejoicing, however, one had to respect and accept the ballot result.

De facto, it didn’t make much of a difference. The British Isles remained under German blockade, including the Orkneys, and Norwegian possession of the Shetlands was undisputed. Yet, relations to Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Germany weren’t improved – and Quisling didn’t even try to come to terms with the neighbours. Finland was denigrated because of its occupance of Huippuvuorilla – Spitsbergen, which rightfully ought to be Norwegian. Denmark was treated with hostility, because it had forcefully objected Norwegian pressing ahead in the question of acquiring former British real estate. Sweden had provided a safe haven for political enemies – traitors in the NU’s understanding. And Germany was at fault for everything anyway…

All the same, the domestic deadlock had been broken. The economy was taking root again. And Quisling’s political enemies had to ask themselves why the voters had spurned them…
It’s a time-honoured observance: who’s got tribulations also has got liqueur.
(Wilhelm Busch)

This Nai Bialystok was a terrific place. They said the gleaming skyscrapers were an element brought along by Jews from the United States of America seeking refuge in the Heymshtot. In New York, at that time the world’s largest Jewish settlement, many of those huge towers had been standing. Franz Josef Strauß didn’t know New York, but he liked Nai Bialystok. Okay, the buildings were just enormous houses, but the shops – and bars – inside were cracking.

He had started the evening with beer for supper, as was proper for a stout Bavarian. But somehow the lager had now mutated to sparkling wine – and the pedestrian guys with whom he had discussed mutual defence issues had been replaced by sexy girls. Wonderful… Fritz Zimmermann, his personal assistant, must have got lost as well. Strange… But the blonde and the redhead were really cute. Gorgeous boobs… He hadn’t been aware that Jewish popsies could be so wicked.

No Jewish girls: Marya, the blonde, was Latvian, and Ewa, the redhead, came from Poland. What the heck! Nai Bialystok was an international metropole, after all. Would he like to come along? To a hotel… for a night à trois… Yes, of course! Another slug – and off they went… Ewa was rubbing his manhood while they were walking. Franz Josef Strauß was delighted.

When he awoke he was hungover and alone – and almost naked. It was a kind of backyard, dirty and shabby. He was lying between wet cardboard boxes, only dressed in his undershirt… Where were the girls? Where was his suit? His wallet?
German Minister of War caught with his pants down in downtown Bialystok, read the headlines the next day. There was even a photograph, showing him – with bare legs – being led away by policemen. – It was the end of his political career. Chancellor Schmidt, already irritated by the limited-fighting-fit-affair, fired him the very day. Rudolf Hanauer was nominated his successor.
This is obviously staged by somebody. His assistant conveniently lured elsewhere. Waking up in an empty lot basically naked. If these two were run of the mill hookers he would have awakened in his hotel room minus wallet, watch etc. At that point he probably does not report the theft to cover up, by dumping him like this for a public scandal you now ensure the police will look for these ladies - probably won't find them, but ordinary thieves would want to attract as little attention as possible.
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
(Arthur Conan Doyle)

Hermann Kizwete had prepared a chart, which enabled him to visualise the Chumbageni case. The killee hadn’t been identified yet. The pathologist estimated him at thirty, perhaps even a few years younger. He was circumcised. That – most probably – made him a Muslim. He was not a Jew, as the Jews were doing it at a very early age, which – in adults – produced a distinctly different physical appearance. He had scars on his backside that were hardly older than three years – and were looking as if he had been crawling through barbed wire.

Yes, there was some likelihood that the man had been a fighter. But it wasn’t definite: refugees might also get hurt while trying to sneak past military obstacles. – He had, however, never seen a dentist in his life, that verdict was positive – and was also pointing in direction Somalia. – The three bullets found in his torso were run-of-the-mill 9 mm projectiles fired by a standard Tula T-44, a cheap but effective pistol found almost everywhere around the globe.

Without a doubt, the chap had been killed in the B’wameni flat. That indicated the use of a suppressor, as the neighbours had not heard any shots. And the killing must have occurred in the same night when the fire had been started. – The B’wamenis had nothing to do with it; they had been on vacation. Someone, though, must have known the flat was temporarily unoccupied. – Opening the apartment door had been no big deal; every basic picklock could easily do it.

One had found fag butts in the flat; eight specimen of ‘Karo’, an awful but popular local weed, and two of ‘Senoussi’, a dreadful German brand not often found hereabouts. The B’wamenis were smoking ‘Juwel’, a milder local brand with filter-tips. – One had also found non-B’wameni fingerprints, of three individuals – including the dead man. But the other two sets did not match with anything one had at hand. – And that was about all…

Hoping that the corpse had not been the ‘Senoussi’ smoker, Hermann was now looking for a man who was consuming the stuff. Most local tobacco shops didn’t offer it at all, and the one who did hadn’t sold any since ages. – In Hermann’s mind, three guys had met in the B’wameni flat in order to execute a sinister plot, an assassination or a bombing. Something must have gone adrift, and one bloke was killed by his cronies.

The road to and from the airport ran through Chumbageni. Had there been a VIP travelling on said date? Yes, indeed, General Okomosombe, the former CINC Somalia, had left for his new command in Südwest. Now, that was interesting…
It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.
(Charles Baudelaire)

Makambo was sleeping at last, snoring like a grunting pig. They, Makambo and the elders, had inaugurated the new brewery – well, the brewery, as one hadn’t had one before. Being able to produce beer was important. A good supply of booze was still available, as every English household seemed to have possessed several bottles of the stuff. But beer and wine were all gone, ruined by time and temperature. The Luton Tribe had now solved the problem. It meant progress indeed.

A drunken Makambo was difficult to steer for Anne Robbins. And with beer finally available, the men could get drunk all day long. Makambo and booze was a short story: toping and toppling down. Makambo and beer was a different tale, as she had learnt today. He didn’t tumble over, even when utterly zonked, but remained active – and outright unruly. He had even poked her, quite forcefully… It hadn’t been bad, to be honest, only startling – and kind of sordid…

Yeah, the other dudes had also run riot. A brawl, smashed lips, loose teeth – not nice… But one could sell beer; or rather trade it for other commodities. It really meant progress. And certainly, the men would come down again… Or she would learn how to direct her drunken husband… Nevertheless, the beer showed that the Luton Tribe had achieved something beneficial for everybody. – Oh, there would be apers for sure, rather sooner than later. But it didn’t matter; Makambo’s people had re-invented the art of brewing.

Oh, it was no secret. There were books describing the process. But it had been a matter of trial and error. Without any teacher or tutor, the master brewer had to learn everything by testing it out. And hop growing had been another issue to solve. – Well, drinking was very widespread. There were so few women. So, most men sought oblivion in drinking. What else could they do? That meant one could profit from trading beer – or perhaps even better by training master brewers and sending them out.

Affirmative! That was a very good idea, brilliant indeed. Train brewers and send them out to the other tribes. Keep the important knowledge within the ranks of Luton Tribe. Why hadn’t she thought of it before? She had to instruct Makambo, once he was sober again…
The best of men cannot suspend their fate; the good die early, and the bad die late.
(Daniel Defoe)

It was a pity the Askaris were so punctilious. They had left behind nothing, except some broken bits and pieces. Arming and equipping the Army of Kenya thus had become a problem, an expensive problem. Buying weapons was no big feat – if you had the pursuant cash in your pocket. And that was the crux of the matter. Musa M’Kiribua M’Muchiri’s resources were fairly limited; his Army of Kenya wasn’t by far as big as he would like to have them.

The designation Army of Kenya was blandishing, to a certain extent. It was the militia of the Meru people, Musa M’Kiribua M’Muchiri’s old outfit, plus four smaller militias, of which two were old allies and the other two had recently bowed to Musa. It was a start, but not enough to coax the other big tribes – the Kikuyu, the Luhya, the Kamba, the Kisii – into joining the movement for a unified Kenya.

In fact, their tribal militias were arming as well. It didn’t look good for Musa’s purpose – at least not in the near term. And the non-Bantu groups were gearing up for conflict too. Musa didn’t like the development. Waging civil war was a stupid idea; it only would ruin the country, which was already poor today. There had to be another way. – Uganda, the neighbour to the west, had been – peacefully – unified by a coalition of the Buganda people with the army of a northern warlord, General Tito Lutwa Okello, who now seemed to have become the de-facto ruler of the country.

But here in Kenya, the leaders of the biggest tribe, the Kikuyu, were not interested in a unified nation. They were aiming for a Kikuyu state. – That didn’t mean a state restricted to Kikuyu territory, but a state run by the Kikuyu, which would comprise at least the southern third of the former British colony – from Lake Victoria to the coast at Mombasa. Should he try to be the General Okello of Kenya? Offer everything to the Kikuyu elders – and then take it for himself? Or would they smell the rat? But without the Kikuyu nothing was going to move…
Everything resembles the truth, everything can happen to a man.
(Nikolay Gogol)

Darling of fortune, that was what people were calling Dmitri Trofimovich Shepilov. Picked out as interim nominee – until the powers behind the scenes could agree on the ideal candidate, he was in office now since five years. The average Russian incarnate, he was a man without preeminent assets – except luck. His decisions, although often criticised by the experts, had an annoying tendency of proving right in the long run. Even blatant mistakes he made could be trusted to turn out well.

There had been two – known – assassination attempts on him. In the first, the bomb had exploded prematurely, killing the bomber. In the second, the gun had malfunctioned for no obvious reason, delivering the would-be assassin into the hands of the guards – on open stage. Ever since, ordinary folks were considering him heaven’s favourite, the one protected by the angels.

Inside the party, there was a lot of discontent. But – miraculously – all attempts to overthrow him had come to nothing. – Shepilov had initially been bewildered, but eventually had got used to his permanent lucky streak – although he privately often was still expecting things to go awry. Nevertheless, he had now decided to trust his luck – and to turn openly against any notions to regain the Ukraine.

This was dangerous, because the same ordinary folks who believed he was guarded by the angels were firmly believing the Ukraine was an integral part of Mother Russia. The latter belief was found in all social classes – and it was growing stronger all the time. However, trying to implement it inevitably meant war with Germany. And Shepilov was not ready to initiate Russia’s destruction.

He was certain, a public shitstorm was going to hit him. But if all his geese really were swans, he should get through with his initiative. Even if he was unable to tell how that should work out…
There are few wild beasts more to be dreaded than a talking man having nothing to say.
(Jonathan Swift)

While Herbert Weller’s charisma was still good enough to spellbind large audiences of innocuous citizens, it was completely falling through in the Reichstag. These folks were professionals, perfectly accustomed to sit out all kinds and any amount of speeches; nothing and nobody could surprise them anymore. – For this reason, Herbert had quickly gone off the boil. Contributing to the law-making process was goofy. Nay, this was not the life he wanted to lead. This was something for reputable types like Hans-Adolf Prützmann. – Thank goodness for Germany’s rampant federal structure: there was an electoral campaign going on somewhere almost throughout. Hence, he could spend his days travelling up and down the country – performing in service of the party…

Klara Schmittke, that marvel of a manager, was scheduling the trips for him, booking the trains and the hotels and preparing the whole lot. Only the chicks for the nights he had to find himself. It was quite a merry life. Campaigning was cool. Delivering speeches and mesmerising the audiences was his thing. And he really could help the party, couldn’t he? – Unfortunately, someone must have told Klara about the wenches. After a big argument, she had quit – and left for bad. Well, one surely could find another Klara. But Hans-Adolf was mad at him now. For him, Klara had been an intimate and trusted assistant, whose knowledge was irreplaceable.

Rats! All his trips had been cancelled. He was stranded in Berlin. They would even force him to sit in the Reichstag… But he was the chairman, wasn’t he? Yes, but… it was party money he was spending on his trips, and the executive committee as a whole was in charge of that, not the chairman alone. – Damn, Hans-Adolf was still trying to win back Klara. Herbert could only hope it worked. Otherwise… Hans-Adolf had truly developed into a kind of tyrant. Fudge! Who was running the party?
All men are more concerned to recover what they lose than to acquire what they lack.

For all intents and purposes, she might stop working. She was rich. And getting richer each day. Dad’s legacy, that part of his oeuvre unsold at the time of his demise, as offered to the gallerists, was getting more valuable with every vendue. Her share was a quarter, as was Siegfried’s; Mom was holding the other half. Well, the value of her quarter was more than she could reasonably spend in a lifetime.

Yet, living an idle life was nuisance. – Siegfried was taking his money to establish an enterprise of his own, a subcontracted labour agency. Should she do likewise? Working for Wilhelm Frick & Sons & Partners wasn’t bad. They were leaving her free to treat her cases as she considered appropriate. Only that they were assigning the cases. She might invest and become another partner of Old Willy. Or she could set up a solicitor’s office of her own…

Frick’s was a prestigious law firm. They were getting relevant cases. – She would be a newcomer, bound to accept whatever came along. – No, better perhaps to become a partner. Buying into Frick’s, however, was still going to leave her disgustingly rich. It was silly. – Dad had been a toiler all his life – as a soldier, as hotelier, as party chairman, as painter. He had never cared for riches – other than to make them serve his purposes.

And now, she was struggling with wealthiness – because she had no purpose of her own. Her dad had unhesitatingly invested his gains from the Kaiserhof chain in Wagnerland, not caring for his purse – and his reputation. And she? What was her goal in life? Working as a solicitor? Or what? – And Gudrun began pondering what she really wanted to achieve…
Everything resembles the truth, everything can happen to a man.
(Nikolay Gogol)

He was certain, a public shitstorm was going to hit him. But if all his geese really were swans, he should get through with his initiative. Even if he was unable to tell how that should work out…
Well... that's the thing with lucky streaks. It works until suddenly it doesn't. This sound like it could easily blow up in his face in a spectacular way.
The events which cannot be prevented must be directed.
(Klemens von Metternich)

The conference in Stockholm had been tough. The Quisling Government was… – well, difficult. And the Danes seemed determined to provoke and tease them. Mercifully, the Swedes and the Finns were trying to be conciliatory, although, it was true, the Quislings were missing no opportunity to snarl at them as well. At least, the Scandinavian chaps were ready to acknowledge who was the dog and who was the tail in this relation – and were not attempting to wag Germany. Hans Kroll, the German foreign minister, was certain the Quislings were going to cool down. Being obliged to run a whole country, they soon should realise that politics was no make-a-wish game.

Okay, one finally had agreed to a compromise: Norway had an option on the Orkneys. Should the blockade be lifted – someday – the Orkneys could be occupied by the Norwegians. This didn’t say they would become part of their national territory, only that Norway was entitled to send occupation forces. – Kroll hoped this achievement, sold cleverly as a Norwegian victory, was sufficient to appease the hardliners in Kristiania. This Zwergenaufstand – unnecessary fuss – was taking a lot of time indeed. – Kroll and his staff were now on the boat to Sankt Petersburg, where he was scheduled to meet his Russian colleague Sergei Nikiforovich Kruglov.

For Kroll, good relations to Russia were essential. They were the assurance of peace in Europe. As long as Germany could keep Russia placid, she was safe. – Therefore, the recent speech delivered by Prime Minister Shepilov, castigating the Ukraine reappropriation movement, had electrified him. Apparently, Shepilov was of the same mindset as he. As far as he – and his staff – knew, was Kruglov Shepilov’s man, not one of the Ukraine retrievers. Hence, he should be able to tell Kroll more about Shepilov’s plans.

Certainly, one could find ways how to support Shepilov’s drive. On the sly, of course, as not to rouse the reunionists – and any other Russian jingoes. Chancellor Schmidt had given him free rain. It would be a top secret operation. Officially, he was travelling to Sankt Petersburg to open an economic congress – together with Kruglov. That was an ancient tradition, happening each spring, nothing to arouse sleeping dogs, hopefully…
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Europe is a molehill. All great empires and revolutions have been on the orient; six hundred millions live there.
(Napoleon Bonaparte)

One had successfully infiltrated a ROTA spy ring – and was now reading what Lahore knew about OŞU’s capabilities – and the missile forces of the empire. These fellows were sharp, this Mirliva Reşat Çokbilmiş reluctantly had to admit. The space business was moot, in his mind, but the information about Ottoman ballistic missile production and the ongoing establishment of the missile brigades was alarming indeed. The Aryans knew – almost – everything. It was quite ignominious for the Mirliva and his outfit, but at least one could feed them now with the information one wanted them to have – and change some important details in the deployment lists.

On the other hand, it was fairly important that the other nuclear powers knew the basics of the empire’s arsenal. One was collecting data about their weaponry; they were doing likewise. It was an essential component of mutual deterrence. – The Aryans, the Indian Federation that was, had no long range ballistic missiles; they were mainly relying on heavy bombers – and Arrow-type pilotless guided aircraft to be launched from their submarines, a clumsy system. That was the drawback of failing to develop an indigene missile production: your arsenal remained kind of inchoate. Yeah, spaceflight on the cheap didn’t pay…

The rocket arsenals of the Germans and the Russians were comprehensive – and huge. The Germans had armed for a simultaneous showdown with Red Albion and Russia, while the Russians had prepared for concurrent war with Germany, the Ottoman Empire and the Asian League. Now, with Red Albion gone and the Asians down, their arsenals were more than sufficient for complete mutual destruction. – The German speciality was submarine-based solid fuel missiles, which could reach every target around the globe – provided the sub was able to approach undetected. And the Russians had come up with the ChOBs, which were capable of underrunning all early warning precautions.

The Chinese and the Japanese had only bombers to rely on – and not much of an arsenal at all. They might be capable of doing some damage to the Russian far east, but hardly more. For the Ottoman Empire, they didn’t pose a threat. – And yes, there was the US who undoubtedly was possessing long range ballistic missiles as well – and a sizeable arsenal. But they were far away from the real world, safe on their remote continent – and determined to stay isolationist. – The Mirliva made a mental note: he didn’t know much about the US and the situation over there. His staff was to prepare a briefing for him. – Well, the staff should also look upon matters Middle African. They might have nukes too…
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