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“I saw that movie once, on TV, at 4:00 in the morning,” Burden complained.  “I was in a bad place at that time.  I was working the graveyard shift,  my head full  of apocalyptic nonsense from that fundamentalist college I had just graduated from.   So, I thought it had deep meaning.”

Burgeon relaxed in his chair, crossing his arms behind his head.  “It was early Reagan, still pre-perestroika.   Maggie Thatcher had just taken the reins in the UK.   The Soviet Union was still in expansionist mode, embarassing us at every turn in the Middle East, in Central America,  in Southern Africa.  The NWO Oligarchs weren’t as cocksure as they are now.

“…and then you saw these rows and rows of hammers, marching across the parade field with the stormy skies in the background.”  Burden exhaled sharply.  “It was a powerful image.   Then you had Pink, Bob Geldorf if I remember correctly, addressing the rally with his eyebrows singed off.  Now, do you remember the insignia he was wearing on his suit?”

Burgeon smiled.  Despite his coyness, he did remember.  “The crossed hammers?  I thought it stood for kind of trade-unionist lefty fascism, kind of like that to which the unions were subjecting the YooKay before Maggie collared and peeled them.  What does this have to do with your exotic World-War-III- breaking-out-in-the-Balkans fantasies?”

Now it was Burden’s turn to smile.   He seldom got Burgeon to listen to anything he had to say these days.  “Do you remember when Kosovo declared independence in 2008?”

“Oh, thank God this isn’t about Israel or the Jews,” Burgeon said.  “You’ve become positively medieval on the subject of the Jews since you converted to Orthodoxy.  I never know when you’re going to recommend the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion.”

Relax,” Burden answered.  “This has nothing to do with the Jews.  It has to do with cell batteries for electric vehicles; nickel-zinc batteries.  Now, the EU recognized Kosovar independence immediately.  Immediately! Even the US waited a couple of days.  Now, I never really knew what all the fuss was about Kosovo, but it turns out there’s a mining complex there sitting on the largest unextracted lodes of zinc and nickel outside of Africa, and only days’ transport from the factories of Germany and Britain.”

“Let me guess,” Burgeon yawned.  “Serbia isn’t pleased about this.”

“Uh, the mines are in the Serb-controlled northern part of Kosovo,”  Burden answered.  “They’re behind a soft partition that the Serbs want to be little harder.  Now that Ghawar and Cantarell are in decline, the Euros are going to have to deal with Putin,  and he isn’t at all pleased with their fabrication of Kosovar independence.”

“I doesn’t matter,” Burgeon replied, brushing his nails against the chair arm.  “I was in Prstina a few months ago, and the place looked like little Brussels.  I saw more EU flags fluttering than Kosovar.”

“Tell me about it.   Actually, the independent “Republic of Kosovo” is little more than an appendage of Brussels anyway, with US complicity.  If the NATO forces ever leave, the Serbs will be back to make 1998 look like an ethnic touch-up instead of an ethnic cleansing, and they’ll have Russian backing.”

Burden fidgeted briefly on his computer, and Burgeon leaned in to see what he was up to.  “Here is the photo from the Republic of Kosovo Ministry of Mines.”

“Pretty ladies,” whistled Burgeon.

“I know you’d zero in on that, Burgeon,” Burden grumbled, “but notice the logo overhead, on the right.  Not the EU constellation.”

“Oh my God.”

CURRENTLY READING

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams