「紅虎の将王」 (Beni Tora no Shouou)
“The Red Tiger Sultan”
Out of the frying pan and into the fire. After breezing through some state subjugation, Altair is certainly unwilling to slow down and smell the roses, immediately jumping us into the beginning of a large Turkiye civil war. Well, technically a dispute between sovereign powers, but you see that’s what makes it fun. As with Phoinike’s conquest Altair thrives on theory of international relations, and this new arc won’t be any different. Not when Mahmut is once again front and centre.
While we could go on about the terminator that is Abiriga or Altair’s excellent taste in women, the standout for me once again lay in the politics. It’s common sense for everyone to band together in the face of a common enemy, and yet here’s a group of guys squabbling while the enemy is massing at the gate—seems a little counterproductive, until you consider human nature. Whether one thinks of humanity as inherently good or bad, we all desire being treated as equal. If an opportunity presents itself to push for that equality (in whatever form), we tend to use it. Thus Turkiye’s dependencies using the Balt-Rhein threat to push their claim of state equality. If Turkiye needs their assistance to fend off the empire, why is it unwilling to treat its subjects with an appropriate amount of respect? Sure Balt-Rhein may have stirred the pot with some honeyed words and respect is arbitrary, but no one would have jumped at the bit if there wasn’t an underlying desire for more. Liberty is simply too tantalizing a prospect to give up without a fight.
What makes this argument all the more interesting is how the players are using it. We all know Balt-Rhein’s endgame (take over Turkiye’s stewardship role), but Zaganos and Balaban are the fun ones. Balaban’s objectives—besides acquiring more pretty boys—are murky at best right now, but I firmly bet he intends on seizing control of Turkiye for himself. He almost assuredly convinced/coerced the fellow “satellite” sultans to reject Turkiye’s federation (with some Balt-Rhein assistance), and likely plans on using a concocted war to solidify and expand his power base. The man clearly values power over everything, and nothing is more powerful than ruling an empire. Zaganos on the other hand seeks the same, but for Turkiye. Well intentioned or not, Turkiye’s federation will ensure its dependencies remain dependencies while preserving Turkiye as the dominant power—you wouldn’t use economic coercion or military backed coups to create it otherwise. It’s incredibly disingenuous for Zaganos to claim he’s acting in the Stratocracy’s best interests when pursuing a similar goal as its weaker members, but this is ironically how politics often operates: you go around saying nice doggy until you find a rock big enough for the purpose. Zaganos’ strategy may be questionable, but there’s no denying he cares deeply about the future of his country.
Of course the one who may suffer most for it all is Mahmut. Stuck in the middle of a tinderbox with a spark in transit, his actions could very well determine how the inevitable conflict plays out. Unlike with Hisar though, Mahmut now has some knowledge to apply, a pair of friends eager to help, and one blondie fully aware of his hidden potential. We may not know what’s going to exactly happen next, but you can bet it’s going to be wild.