"They are prepping." Ian Grimshaw, Secretary of Defense, informed me nervously. Being caught up in the worldly affairs as a President, the rain outside the Circle Office never seemed so serene. Amidst the chaos of phones ringing, susurrus of people, hidden fear, rushing footsteps, the sound of each rain droplet played an orchestra in my ears. I was lost in nature's trance or maybe was trying to pretend to do so. Ian stood still, expecting a reply which could magically solve the impending battle.
"Mr. President... Mr. President... Sir!", Ian called me, now frustrated.
I turned from the window towards Ian. Ian was sweating and knew what would follow, yet waits for my approval as if he wanted me to change my decision.
"Gather everyone up in the Intellectual Room." I said. Ian hesitatingly orders a nearby staff member to do so.
The large television screen hung on the wall shows images of Hurria roaming the streets of their conquered zones of Kroman countries. The fate that Kroman leaders feared has come true now. Lizam has taken over their countries or most of it. If not for Zeldans the remaining countries and Unified Provinces of Enkara itself would have been a Lizlamic state. "President Ronald Jump warned Hurria of their terrorist actions leading to a Great Battle III." read the news ticker.
My past colleagues and I are always criticized by the world for supporting Nara. It was a decision made by our early Leaders and so the later Presidents followed the trail. One alone cannot rise to power, we need allies. Supporting Nara, spread the Enkaran ideological views all over the world and now the alliance with Nara is more of siding with Zeldans in their war against our mutual enemy the Lizlams. If that meant Zeldans would take over Fygonzian lands and drive its people out of their very own country, so be it. The Gritons are to be blamed for this actually. Their obsession with the Split and Command policy led them to promise the Zeldans a part of Fygonza. Initially all agreed, later rebuked and the geo-wars ensued.
But the unfortunate kismet, last year Hurria took over Nara. The only nation of Zeldans is now under Lizlams. God forbid the torture the Zeldans are facing now and the malicious use of their boundless wealth by the Hurria. The Nara West Strip Wall which established a border between Nara and Fygonza was demolished by Hurria and Fygonzian rebels. Enkara lost its best ally Nara, such a shame. Experts predicted Hurria would run out of funds as Central East Nations withdrew their financial support on seeing Hurria's true barbaric intentions of Lizlamic regime irrespective of caste. Now the vast Zeldan wealth is a blessing for Hurria.
"Mr. President everyone is waiting in the Intellectual Room." informed the staff member.
As I walk to the room, the premise security seems more concerned than me. I ignore.
I enter the room filled with high rank officials from Marine, Army and Air Force. Lieutenant General James Arendt and Ian are engulfed in an intense discussion to the point they fail to notice me.
"Mr. President, pardon us for the grumble." said Lieutenant General James.
"Lieutenant General James... Ian informs me Danzia is preparing for a nuclear attack as we speak."
"I am afraid that is true Mr. President. But it is not under the authority of President Alexei Ivanov."
"I really quiet don't understand Lieutenant General."
"President Ivanov has been assassinated by Hurria.
"What? Jaguas! How and when... where you all under the rock?"
"The incident was kept low key, as an Ivanov double was used to fool the Danzians. But the deceit was unveiled and everything went haywire. The local and neighboring countries' rebels joined arms with Hurria. The coup d'état was so strong that Danzian government fell."
"Most parts of Utope and Sashia are now under Hurria's regime..." said Ian, clinching his fist. "What began as an extremist rebel group in Qibia and then spread to Miqa... now has the KLLR in its hold. Ivanov's killing isn't the issue now... but those nukes are... damned Danzian officials are dancing to the whims of Hurria. At gunpoint patriotism evades the weak."
"Everyone this is an unexpected but extreme lethal threat. Alert our troops all over, get our spies, sleeper agents to work... Ian arrange the Soccer Ball... I don't want to take any chances. Get everyone to scoop information of Hurria's activities in Danzia. If they think of nuking us down ... we have to do them before they do us. Get to action... Move!" I ordered.
I head back to the Circle Office. The sight of the empty Absolute Desk for a minute reflects the President-less Danzia now.
How in fraction of hours Danzia became a Lizlamic regime from Kromanity one. Ivanov did feel letting those Qibiyan refugees into Danzia was good on humanitarian grounds yet raised a terrorist hidden agenda. Like me most Kroman nations were unsure who was entering our countries under the disguise of a refugee. Hurria send its rebels as refugees all over. Their slow but malevolent plan paid off. As the 45th president of Unified Provinces of Enkara, I never fathomed of such nuclear standoff day with a terrorist organization.
Great Battle II claimed over sixty million lives. Has time come for Great Battle III? God forbid if I have to launch against Danzia, how will I account for one hundred fifty million lives. My head started hurting, my heart beat increased, throat became dry. I sat on the sofa loosening my tie knot.
"Is everything okay Mr. President?" inquired the security officer.
"For now yes... get me a glass of water."
The officer brought me a glass of water. He tried to look calm but I can see a sense of panic within him. I drank and wiped the sweat on my forehead. Ian then rushes in hysterically and informs me while regaining composure.
"Mr. President... I have an immense horrible news... Up Lovia has launched multiple hydrogen bombs on Rhina. The damage is not known yet. It's a state of shock in Rhina right now."
Fidgetily I look onto the television screen. The usual Hurria montage is being replayed.
"Nothing on air still Mr. President. Rhina is trying to keep it under the radar."
"Those Up Lovians have no soul... at such menacing time, they had to play out their enmity with the Rhinese."
"Inside news is the Rhinese were planning a massive attack on Up Lovia too. Seems everyone is on verge to clear rivals off."
"The Qibiya war by Hurria is the springboard... any updates on Danzia?"
"It's still for now... I think the Rhinese incident will divert their attention."
My cell phone rings. It's my daughter Onika. I receive the call. Onika is on her way from an AIDS charity event in Berzilend and sounds terrified. I try to calm her down but am interrupted by the television visuals of what seems like a Hurria public shootout. I soothe Onika assuring her security personnel will take utmost care of her and hang up.
I go closer to the television screen and at my dismay learn about the live footage of Hurria soldiers attacking the Integrated Countries Group Head Quarters in Leiu Walk. The sky thunders startling Ian. But I am not sure, whether it was thunder or the agitator.
"They are in Enkara now... Ian get my family to maximum security... bring me the Soccer Ball now... right now!"
"Yes Mr. President."
I grabbed the remote and switched off the television. Sat down at my desk. The headache and anxiety is getting the best of me. I take few anti-depressants from the drawer. Lieutenant General James brings the Soccer Ball. I order him to open it up. He places the brief case on the Absolute Desk and opens it. Lieutenant General James looks at me.
"Activate it Lieutenant General James.."
"But Mr. President, the Danzia nukes are still intact."
"So what do you expect me to do? You want me to wait till the Hurria launch a nuke on Enkara. Yow want both Danzia and Enkara to turn into ashes? The Hurria know their men are within Enkara, yet they are ready to nuke us. What mercy you seek from them, when they do not care of their own kind."
"Mr. President Danzia has more than seventy-five hundred nuclear missiles and we around seventy-two hundred... It would be a global catastrophe. I don't think Hurria is that foolish to ignore the massive scale of damage."
A staff member whispers to Ian. Ian's face expresses dismay.
"Mr. President Danzian nukes are positioning to target Enkara." said Ian.
"Lieutenant General James enter the codes now!"
Lieutenant General James enters the codes and activates the Soccer Ball.
"Mr. President the nuclear strike on Danzia will be authorized once you press the button. May God be with us all"
I look at everyone and then at the red button. One click and Danzian people are gone. Is this worth my country's safety? Am I now becoming like Hurria? I was trying to concentrate on the sound of the rain droplets but couldn't find it serene as earlier, instead it was irritating me like needle pricks in my ears. Help me Jaguas, help me. I never felt so weak within. I felt my heart was giving away. The more I take time to press the button, the more I am risking lives of Enkara's citizens. Any moment Hurria psychopaths can press their damned red button.
I gazed on the red button with a sweat dribbled face. A memory of Onika's childhood came to life in my mind. Onika was in fifth grade. Her friend Jenny visited us with her family. Onika and Jenny were playing some sort of war game. I am not sure what it was but they were playing a war game, with their siblings as army, Barbie dolls as citizens and toy cars and toy guns as artillery.
Both of them took sofas on either side as their country and had their own custom made red buttons. Thanks to Hollywood movies for enlightening children with such military information. Onika gave me her red button and instructed me to press it on her command. a "III" is written on the red button. Onika explained me, she calls the red button as "III", which stood for the future Great Battle III.
Onika, Jenny and their siblings fought and at a point Onika screams to me to press the red button. I look at her and she keeps yelling to press the button. On the other side, I see Jenny's father talking to her younger brother. Jenny shouts to her father to press her red button too. Jenny's father hurries up and grabs the red button. He looks at me with excitement to check whether I had pressed mine. Onika screams again at me to hurry up. With a grin Jenny's father proceeds to press but he stops as Jenny starts crying. He looks at Onika who is smiling and then looks at me.
I had pressed "III".