For All Nails #88: City of Angels
by Randy McDonald
Admiral Luang Taksin was a veteran of the Global War. FN3 He hadn't done much fighting -- apart from the shelling of Haiphong and the raids on Dutch Borneo and Port Cook, all of those operations held in concert with the Kriegsmarine, the Imperial Siamese Navy had mostly kept to the Gulf of Siam. As much as it pained the hearts of the Admiralty, the ISN was simply not in the same league as the British Royal Navy, or the Kriegsmarine, nor even of the Japanese and Mexican fleets. For almost the entire long conflict, then, the ISN had been kept on a defensive posture, strung from Vung Tau to Kelantan on the east coast and hugging the western coast of the Isthmus of Kra.
In a limited perspective, that was bad, since naval officers tended to have fewer decorations than their army counterparts. In a broader perspective, that was good, since the celebrated army that had held the British Indochinese off from Vientiane, and reinforced the Free Khmers from the border outposts at Chanthanaburi FN4 at tremendous cost, and which had expelled the British protectorates of Vietnam and Burma to either side of Siam, couldn't keep up its role in the political life of the Siamese nation. The ISN gladly fulfilled that hard, yet rewarding, duty. And it was so that Admiral Luang Taksin, current operating commander of the Imperial Siamese First Fleet, was fortunate enough to enjoy the position of Foreign Minister.
The Beimler locomobile in which Taksin was riding with Paul Sebastian was of German design, originally from the great Dresden works but made under license in Krung Thep. The roads were bumpy, but the suspension worked wonderfully: The German riesling that he and Taksin were drinking barely stirred inside the long-necked glasses which they held as they sat across from each other, talking. Taksin wondered what Sebastian knew about him, from Kramer Associates' files. Certainly that he came from the Taksins, and that the Taksins came from the same Sino-Siamese bourgeoisie FN5 that had provided military commanders since the 1920s, at least. Definitely that, in addition to his education at the Imperial Academy, he'd graduated from the Kriegsakademie in Berlin just before the Global War broke out. Probably that Taksin had allied himself with the growing anti-German sentiment -- perhaps they'd figured out that it was the German arrogance towards dressed-up Siamese such as himself that made him see the current alliance as temporary.
And as for Sebastian: The public-domain information was scanty. Young, a second-generation Kramerite descended from Californian parents, raised in Taichung, now 34 years of age, a naturalized Taiwanese citizen, blonde and with blue eyes that doubtless raised eyebrows whenever he spoke in his fluent Thai (along with, apparently, Standard Mandarin, Fukienese, Japanese, German, and of course English and Spanish). A non-entity; but, Taksin was certain, a useful non-entity.
"As for the Global War," Taksin continued with a shrug, "It was a war well-fought by both sides, despite the occasional ... excesses of both sides. But it was twenty years ago. It's time to set that division aside, and for old combatants to ally themselves against new threats."
"New threats, admiral?" Sebastian wondered. "You mentioned the Malays FN6, the piracy on the Straits of Malacca."
"Yes," and Taksin frowned sincerely. "Even our naval operations off of Malaya's coast can't keep them down. Piracy is in the blood of the Malays, I suppose, the Acehnese and Javanese too, and you can't take it out. That, and religious fanaticism."
Sebastian winced appreciatively. "Joint anti-piracy operations in the Straits of Malacca would be a good idea. Formalizing the existing series of coordinated raids isn't something we'd disagree with. As for the Indies -- well, no one knows how to manage them. Trying to isolate them is a good idea, but there is the position of the Straits to consider."
"Yes." Taksin paused, looked down at his glass, considered. "The pirates in Indonesia are problematic -- Malacca, Port Cook FN7, they're practically useless for the East Asian trade with Europe, aren't they? You could avoid them with a canal -- the Isthmus of Kra is a good site for a canal, isn't it?"
Sebastian started and blinked. "A canal would require Siamese consent," he enunciated.
"We'd be willing to give that," Taksin said offhandedly. "I'd also imagine that Kramer is looking for new markets for its goods. There's Scandinavia, but who knows how that market will turn out, especially given new German concerns. Kramer technologies -- well, they're quite sophisticated. The airmobiles, the ships, the territas, FN8, explosives ..."
Sebastian raised his eyebrows. "The ... explosives, you realize, aren't something we'd share with every country."
"No, only with associates of Taiwan in the Canton Pact. Which is why we'd like to join." Taksin quickly took a sip of the wine, and placed the glass down in the holder. Outside, through the darkened glass, Krung Thep's streetscape passed by. "The time has come to end things. May I be frank?" He continued as Sebastian looked at him, now with more aplomb. "We're tired of Indochina, tired of Germany, and we'd like to reintegrate -- that is the catch phrase, isn't it? -- with our neighbours."
"So," Sebastian said politely, as he hunched forward. "You give us the canal, we give you the fission bomb. And what else?"
Taksin paused before he replied. "Taiwan has recognized the borders of Siam after the Pacific War, as has Japan and the Chinese Community states. I'd hope that the Australians can be made to follow suit."
"There is the question of Viet Nam."
"Ah, it's a big country. Plenty of room for everyone, especially when legitimate interests of all parties are taken into account. The Cambodians, you know, used to have a lot of Cochin China as their own before the Viet took it. Khmer Krom, I believe their compatriots are called. A rectification of the frontier -- something that they will recognize as final -- should be all that they need." Taksin clucked his tongue, and reclined somewhat in the seat. "It should definitely be enough to get the more radical elements of the Khmer government to stop supporting the Jeffersonistas. And with Viet Nam stable on that front, well, there'd be no need for an Australian presence, would there? The precise details we can discuss later."
"And," Taksin continued, "of course, recognition of Siamese preeminence in Burma. Burma is a region of special importance, as you can well imagine. There are the illegal immigrants, there are the drugs ..." Taksin's voice trailed off. Never forget Ayutthaya. FN9 "The Burmese aren't capable of managing themselves, never mind all of the different hill peoples. We can manage them, certainly better than they can manage themselves.
"And in exchange, we'll happily buy our arms from Kramer, and drop the protectionist barriers the Chinese Community states have been complaining about, and the Japanese, and -- if they'll do the same -- with the Australians. We all win, you see.
"Is it a deal?"
- Inside Hua Phan Province,
- Empire of Siam
- 1 July 1974
Hua Phan was selected as the test site as a matter of course. Hua Phan was a province on the very fringes of Siam; indeed, it hadn't been Siamese until the Global War and its liberation, only one petty principality of British Viet Nam, another Thai hill-state, just another hill people's homeland to be assimilated in due course. That changed, when it was returned to the Siamese; Hua Phan once again became the outer buffer of the great Thai nation, a march against the Vietnamese.
There was no one who lived in this particular district of Hua Phan, no one but a few hundred Thai-speaking slash-and-burn farmers who'd been evacuated from the steaming rainforest, with its slick rocks and high trees. So, there was no one to see, one bright morning as the sun rose in the east, that brilliant flare of light that briefly outshone the sun.
Forward to FAN #89: The Yanks are Revolting.
Forward to 9 July 1972: The Assignment.
Forward to Kramer Associates: Puputan.
Return to For All Nails.