## In All Chaos, There Is Calculation

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Power is not a means; it is an end.
One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution;
one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

A black coat with edges lined a blood red covered the similarly black military outfit underneath, everything rimmed with the same deep crimson. Electric eyes scanned the surroundings before he headed for the main entrance. He heard footsteps behind him, the man following him staying close - perfectly as instructed. He gave a small smile at that, at the thought of the nation (fallen Empire) obeying him so immaculately. He heard the man's assault rifle cluttering against the other's back as they climbed up the stairs. Reaching the door, he yanked it open and walked into the empty building. It was one of the old ones, that none of them had destroyed for convenience's sake - yet.

It was a rather nice building, it was well-built and strong, it had underground passageways, and it was old enough to look abandoned. It was pre-war, so of course it had suffered damage, so no-one would venture either inside or close to it. And it was in "disputed territory", so it gave them all the same standing. Who knew what would happen if he ventured into one of the other superstates' territory?

Turning corners and passing different hallways, he heard the other man still keep an even rhythm behind him. Casual, soft, yet steady, military, disciplined. Arriving at the correct door, he knocked twice to announce his arrival before striding inside. He saw four other men inside. Two of them were lounging in chairs around a table, while the other two stood right behind their respective superstate. The two sitting powers stood, their stances predatory, powerful, withdrawn, aloof. Alfred came to stand behind the last empty chair at the table, removing his overcoat and placing the military cap on the table. He eyed the other nations for a moment. The oppressing silence gave Arthur, Kiku and Ludwig their cues to leave and stand outside the doors. There were five entrances into the building, and three into the room. They always came in through the same way, and so the three subordinates directed themselves to their respective entrances and exits. Three men, entering an abandoned building with an armed guard, through the same door in the same day would give rise to unnecessary suspicions. None of them wanted that, of course./p

All three of them sat down. Alfred observed the two other men present, the ones he had come to know so well over the course of the last few years. Yao's hair was short from what it had been before the war. He wore a simple, clean-cut, grey military jacket. Adorned by a black-coated silver star, the symbol of the Eastasian ideology of Death Worship was shown in relief on it, the hammer, brush and scythe symbol depicted above the abbreviation 自牺 (Zì-Xī). "Self-sacrifice." The jacket had green rims, outlining the cuffs of the sleeves and the hem of the jacket. His dark green trousers were hidden by the table. Of course, Alfred found the irony in his outfit very appropriate, appreciating every inch of it.

Ivan, who was sitting casually in his chair, wore the same kind of coat as he used to before the war, but for some years now it had been black. The scarf that used to be a light pink had been swapped for a deep blue one, to suit the blue band on the black military cap that rested on the table. The silver hammer and sickle on the cap surrounded the raised fist, symbols of the Eurasian Hеобол, Neobol (Old Speak - Neo-Bolshevism). The Cyrillic letters were on either side of the symbol, resting underneath it. Ivan then pulled out a digitalised map of the present day world, one of only three existing. Each nation had one, no-one else. It would not do to divulge such unnecessary information to anyone else, now, would it?

On the map, Oceania was marked in black, Eurasia in blue, Eastasia in red. The disputed territories were in grey. Eastasian troops had gained where Mongolia had formerly been, Oceania having gained in the Pacific Isles, while Eurasia had gained downwards into North Africa. But none of them really cared enough about any of those changes to make note of them.

There were more... pressing matters to deal with. Such as betrayal, alliances, and enemies.

"Ivan, I heard that Beijing suffered some terrible damages last week," Alfred stated, a clear, innocent tone flowing between the words.

"It was necessary, after what he decided to do to Siberia a month ago."

Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

"Alfred, I believe there's some credit to you for the events in my country's heartland," Yao sneered pointedly, accusatory tone aimed at the Western superpower.

"Oh, I am wounded - are you implying I attacked you?" Alfred gasped indignantly.

"Merely stating the fact that there's something to where the air rockets came from," the Eastasian shrugged, his features twisted in something that was not a smile, but not a frown.

"Don't tell me you no longer trust me," Alfred said, his lips betraying the beginnings of a grin.

Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

"Did you really aid my cause, Alfred?" Ivan's amused tone lilted casually in the vast room.

"Well, I've been seeing that my alliance isn't working very well, obviously." Alfred's eyes turned from Yao to Ivan. "Plus, he's been messing around a bit too much in southern Asia for my liking, anyway."

"Have I, now? In territory that should rightfully be mine?" Yao snorted.

"Do not forget that you are also claiming a bit too much, a bit too fast towards the Middle East," Ivan threatened, his eyes flashing. "I am not a very generous man when it comes to land."

"I think Yao needs to learn his place again," Alfred deadpanned.

Yao laughed, cold and harsh. Biting like the winter wind. "I think, Alfred, you are speaking without thinking... ah, how do you say it? In that new language of yours?"

Alfred raised an eyebrow. "You mean duckspeak?"

"Yes," Yao said, a gleam in his eyes. "And that can be dangerous, if you do not realise the consequences of what you say. You might just say something that will get you into trouble."

Alfred was feeling very entertained by this meeting - it was even better than he had thought it would be at first. "Says the one who is doing whatever he sees fit wherever he wants - is that not dangerous, too?"

"I do not think he realises he now has two enemies instead of one."

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

"Oh, trust me, I do," Yao sighed. "But you two know as well as I do that we've each had two enemies ever since the Revolutions and the war." With that, he stood up. "I'm now leaving, if you two don't mind, to let you forge your unstable and unnecessary alliance. Good day."

The remaining two powers remained silent while Yao strode out of the room, waiting for the moment the third party would be out of earshot. When they heard the door shut behind the Asian, they both stared at the map intently for a minute.

"You have become quite the character, Alfred," Ivan noted quietly.

Alfred looked up at his newest ally, his former enemy. Or his current - depended on how much you trusted these alliances (which none of them did). He hummed in thought. "Could say the same about you, Ivan."

They looked at each other, remembering the time before the war when they had been bitterly opposed to each other's ideologies - and yet, now they had ended up on the same side of the spectrum, names and borders only separating their ideas and countries. A pretense of a separation, really, because all it was there to do was drain their resources and keep the people in check.

"I believe that soon, it is you and your offhanded lies and betrayals that will end up backed between a rock and a hard place," Ivan stated nonchalantly.

You mean yourself and Yao.

"Should I take that as a threat?" Alfred cocked an eyebrow, a lopsided smirk tugging at his thin lips. His whole composure had changed so much over the years - he was more lithe, lean, thin (dangerously so), but he seemed more terrifying now - that ever-present tan now gone, faded, his pale face haunted by shadows, but his presence noticeable. It made him look like Death himself, and Ivan thought it very befitting of the nation himself. Though he suspected he himself did not look any healthier, any saner, any more alive than the Western superstate.

"Take it as you wish, but you know I would never wish to insinuate anything that might lead to a disagreement between my ally and myself."

Alfred chuckled. "Of course not." His eyes were frozen, yet electric. Buzzing with all that power, hidden behind a cold curtain of ice and power. "That just sounded as if you might have been planning. We all know you're very good at that," Alfred jabbed.

"Says the high and mighty Big Brother himself," Ivan countered playfully.

"Oh, but that's where you're wrong - my people have never heard of me, let alone would they obey me. I would never grow such a horrendous mustache."

Ivan looked at Alfred with blazing lavender eyes. "Perhaps you are not the man in the posters, but you are the man behind them."

"As we all are, no? Don't only point fingers at me when we are all the exact same," Alfred finished.

"I would never say such a thing," Ivan relented.

"Of course not, only forget to mention it. Voluntary omitting of facts."

Ivan chuckled. "Oh, but we are both masters in that art, are we not?"

"Yes, yes we are, but it would simply not do to have all that information being in free use and risking the potential for independent thought," Alfred grinned, his teeth showing. Bared in a sign of dangerous and deviousness.

"I remember when you used to be the nation who boasted his freedom to the point we all grew exasperated beyond belief with it."

"I remember that too," he conceded. "But I would not give anything to have those days back - especially seeing what I have now."

"Speaking of which, how are your territories doing? I heard Airstrip One has had it rough," Ivan prompted.

"He's been a bit under the weather for a week or so, but nothing terribly major. He felt well enough today to attend, so I guess he's fairing fine enough. Being a mere province has its advantages, especially for someone who's suffered so long as an Empire and as his own nation - gives him a bit of respite, doesn't it?" Alfred pointed out, a rhetorical question that needed not be answered. He then turned his drifting eyes back to the Eurasian man. "Tell me, how does it feel to have all those nations that once were your enemies, that have always been your enemies, finally under your control? I'd wager I'm too young to know about thousands of years of hate and enmity and war and such."

Ivan entertained the question in his mind for a while, mulling it over before answering. "It feels as if I had won not the battle, but the war that had been going on for a thousand years. To be frank, that is quite exactly what it is."

Isn't it ironic? How the last war the world will see - the one that will go one for generations after another - is also the only war that is a joke between nations?

"But Alfred, you have something even better, do you not?"

Alfred grinned. "Whatever do you mean?"

"I mean you have the former Empire who controlled you, owned you, for centuries - now all under your control. I do not have the pleasure to see a former conquering power submit to me so... easily and obediently," Ivan said.

Alfred's grin spread. "Imagine seeing a man you once worshiped, respected beyond everything. Then you grew to hate him, more than anything in the world. Then, once necessity called for it you befriended him again, reconciled. Now - imagine seeing that same man, who was proud, arrogant, now see him break and shatter and become hollow under your control - because of you. And you feel that power flowing through you, because you broke the mightiest Empire in the world - and became even greater than he ever could dream to be." His eyes gleamed dangerously, as if nuclear power flowed in his veins, the strength of millions of men running through his body, his mind steeled by the intoxicating scent of pure, raw power.

Ivan hummed softly. "I see you are enjoying this... turn of events," he stated.

"Of course I am. But," he continued, "the situation is not going to keep itself upright, now is it?" Alfred stood. Ivan mirrored his motion. "Nothing more to discuss, is there?"

"I agree. I believe this meeting should end here. До свидания, Океáния," Ivan finished, picking up his military cap and heading out the door.

"Until next time, Eurasia," Alfred responded before picking up his cap. He immediately strode out the door he came in from.

Upon opening the door, Alfred saw Arthur standing to his right, firearm in hand, standing guard. Alfred wordlessly brushed past his territory, who immediately caught on the silent order to follow the superstate. Once they reached outside, Alfred paused for a moment to look at the desolately marvelous sight extending in front of him. It was so empty, hollow, barren and hopeless - just like the rest of the disputed territories. There were what looked like a few destroyed buildings off in the distance, but otherwise it was a purely desolate landscape. His army was somewhere off to the south from where he was, not that they would get much anywhere from there. Until Alfred told them to charge deeper into the mangled lands. It was an illusion of resistance and hope - and those, whose thoughts were too out of line, would immediately show by attempting to grasp that hope.

He saw Arthur had also stopped, and was looking at the lands - but with a look that displeased Alfred greatly. It was almost wistful, as if trying to grasp a hope he had lost years ago. Alfred frowned. Wistful would most certainly not do.

"Airstrip One!" Alfred snapped, seeing the other's eyes immediately jerk towards him. "Move it, we have a plane to catch. Unless you want to spend some time back in the Miniluv, hm?" His eyes flashed dangerously as the glared at the shorter man. He saw how Arthur immediately straightened back up, fixing his posture and appearance, and it was as if a bristle had passed through his body. Alfred noted this with a pleased smile. Clearly he still remembered his last visit, and it was obvious that he had no desire to return there. It was good to know Alfred had that control over him.

Because it never had been about what was best for his people. Not what had been best for the world. Not for the countries, his friends, his family. No, it had never been about that.