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A word that there could be a terrorist attack on the Ural River came by.
If ordinary people such as Kim Chun could make such predictions, the IS, which was determined to attack the state, could also think of such an idea.
The Ural River was a place where numerous ships traveled.
From fishing boats to large and small ferries, and even leisure-time revelers, it was a place of frequent crashes of different vessels. If he targeted the ships of the autonomous state, then it would be helpless.
In the case of cargo ships, the hull would be easily pierced by rocket bombs, but a steering room would not stand if directly attacked.
The 500-meter-range old rocket launcher was made for anti-tank use, and it was the most favored heavy weapon by the enemy. It was easy to find and easy to operate, so many carried it around.
The only way to survive this was to look out for small boats that wandered near the state’s cargo ships. The approaching ships must be suspected unconditionally and must be prevented from approaching by firing—to ensure safety. The state should be extra-cautious since the river was a minefield all around.
Instantly, all ships in the state were ordered to be careful of portable rocket launchers and not to make any identification signs indicating they were part of the state.
Not knowing when, where, and in what ways terrorist attacks would be launched was blood-drying to many. It was also impossible to live on a string of 24-hour tension. As the tension continued, people were losing their composure.
It soon affected economic activity. Many well-known cities in Europe, which relied heavily on tourism revenues, were losing money. Economic indicators, whether in advanced or developing countries, were rapidly deteriorating.
As logistics creaked, the price of daily necessities had to rise, and in addition to that, people were competitively hoarding daily necessities. The vicious circle had begun.
No one could have imagined this would happen because of terrorist attacks. Even economists would say that it was not predicted. But, Youngho knew someone that predicted this in advance. It was Basten—of the Information Agency. He had bought a huge amount of gold because of this reason.
Although the media rumbled on the number of people killed or injured in the attacks daily. The damage was not too big yet. Nevertheless, people were anxious. It was because of uncertainty. Even though it was impossible for the European economy to crash due to minor terrorist attacks, it was becoming a reality.
That did not mean the euro or the dollar crashed into a scrap of paper. The terrorist attacks only worsened the economic sanctions for a while, and rumors were circulating that people were making money out of derivatives in the financial district. If there was a loss, there was no doubt that there was a gainer.
Even the information broker company had made money out of this, so would there not be someone else who had predicted all this and made money too? For instance, there was the Wall Street in the U.S.
A rumor that the bombing of the IS headquarters followed by terrorist attacks might have been a put-up job from start. According to the story, the U.S. Bankers gathered to create the Federal Reserve Bank, and they were involved in any business that could make them money. The conspiracy theory was spread, that people who made money from the economic slowdown that hit Europe were from the Wall Street in New York.
Park Jong-il heard the rumor.
He made a heated assertion about the conspiracy theory about the U.S. that it ordered the IS to overpower the world with terrorism in order to overcome the financial crisis.
“There’s a lot of rumors that the Federal Reserve Bank has printed too much dollars and caused the current economic slowdown because of the lost value of dollars.”
“You believe that? A false conspiracy like that theory has been mentioned often, but it turned out to be groundless every time.”
“It’s very specific this time. This is what most of our agents have learned.”
“I don’t buy it. What good information will come out from the back alleys of Central Asia? It’s just a rumor. I was kind of interested, but it just doesn’t make any sense to think about it.”
“Who will benefit from the worldwide recession? It’s a country with a lot of gold. Can’t you tell? It’s the United States.”
“If that’s true, our state will be big one day.”
“We should have hundreds of thousands of tons. Several tons won’t just do it.”
“What do you mean? We’re not bringing back the gold standard or anything.”
“When the basic currency collapses, all you can believe is gold. If not, why is the U.S. struggling to keep as much as 8,000 tons of gold?”
Park Jong-il had gotten so knowledgeable. It was not usual for anyone to know about each country’s amount of gold reserves. It seemed that he naturally studied such information as the director of the intelligence department.
“Man, does everyone become that intelligent when you are in the director’s seat?”
“Hey, enough of the nonsense. When are the light airplanes arriving anyway?”
“Man, I totally forgot about that. I need to place an order right away. If you’re in a hurry, take what we use for patrol.”
“It’s hard to carry an eight-seater around. A four-seater is perfect for our agents. We need to deploy one at each base to boost mobility.”
The light airplane—which could be lifted and disembarked anywhere; on grass or on bare ground, was now an essential piece of equipment for intelligence agents, whose mobility was life. The presence of light aircraft was another power of the autonomous state since it could carry necessary supplies or weapons and travel anywhere. In Central Asia, the perfect means of transportation was a light plane after all.
“Suh Min-seok, contact Cessna and have them send 20 four-seater light planes right away.
If they don’t have it, check out the used market.”
“What? 20 planes?”
“Also, when you order, ask if the company can arm the planes.”
“Are you going to put on a small missile or something?”
“Ask them if they can fit a light machine gun on the plane. If they reject it, you could tell them that we’ll buy planes from another company from now on.”
There was no law that said a civilian airplane could not be armed. If a machine gun could be used on a light airplane secretly, it would be invincible in Central Asia. Who could imagine that fire would pour out from a light plane? Although it was a pre-modern method that would have appeared in the 1930s, it was also great to have such a function in the reality of Central Asia.
“Dude, did you suddenly get smarter now that you’ve become a duke? No one can imagine an armed light plane.”
“It’s pretty good for terrain where the armored vehicles can’t go around, right?”
“It even sounds invincible. It can avoid the range of portable rocket launchers, so nothing can shoot it down.”
“If only we could fit a light machine gun in it, it would be our secret weapon.”
“I’m a baron, so I dare not say that I’ll give you a reward to a duke, but I’ll grant you one wish.”
As the autonomous state was rebuilding damaged facilities, the residents were slowly gaining peace. The families whose sons were injured at the border working as soldiers, they were rather proud that their sons had protected the state instead of being spiteful toward the administration and Youngho. The wounded were treated like heroes.
The leadership group, Youngho, and Fatima had all visited each wounded soldier, but even young students from school—visited the hospital to encourage the soldiers and their families.
Moreover, Fatima gave them the title of a knight, which was especially an honorable thing for Serbian families to be proud of for generations after generation. It was because they believed that the knights were the people who protected the Archduchess.
The conspiracy theory that Jong-il talked about seemed to have a point.
Otherwise, there was no reason for the leading countries like the U.S., China, Germany, and Japan to store gold and try to buy more of it. It was probably because the value of the currency was already dropping. It was the same with Basten, the co-representative of the Information Agency who recently bought tons of gold.
Youngho had collected a lot of gold personally, but he was still trying to figure out if there was any other way to get it.
In times like this, having as much as 300 million dollars in cash was also a burden. If he could not buy gold bars, he would have to get rid of dollars by any other means, such as paying the icebreaker balance in advance and increasing the Danish shipbuilding shares further with his cash. In order to survive in an uncertain world, it was best to follow what other business people were doing. So, Youngho called Szechenyi right away.
“Hyung, I heard the autonomous state suffered a great damage.”
“Where did you hear the news?”
“I heard it while I was on the phone with Zeynep. There’s a lot of terrorism here, so I’m very alert.”
“Why don’t you stay with Isabella in our state for a while?”
“I’m so busy with work at the electric motor company that I can’t be away for that long.”
“Can’t you work at home?”
“We haven’t completely cleaned up the close associates of the crown princess’ brother yet.”
“Alright. Well, but you do have to stay here for the winter though. I’m so worried about you.”
“I’ll talk to Crown Prince. Is that why you’re calling?”
“I have something to deal with right now. I’m afraid the dollar is going to weaken soon. So, can you pay up the balance of the icebreaker that our state ordered in advance? I also want to buy the Danish shipyard’s stocks aggressively now.”
“You’ve already figured that out. Only gold and diamond prices are rising high here too.”
“Buy all the shares that American investors have. They’d think that there won’t be any more new shipbuilding orders due to the economic slowdown.”
“The stock held by foreign investors is worth only 60 million dollars. I’ve had some tug-of-war, so if I say I’ll buy it, they’ll give it to us right away.”
“Looks like the stock has fallen again these days.”
“The financial community is very negative about the future of the shipbuilding industry.”
“That’s great, buy it unconditionally.”
The shipping industry was very sensitive to economic slowdown.
If the volume of exports and imports decreased, the shipping industry would be hit hard, and orders for new ships would also be reduced. Investment companies that held the Danish shipyard’s shares would have no choice but to sell them unless they intended to take control of the management like Youngho did.
The purchase would secure about 15 percent of Danish shipyard’s shares, and that meant that Youngho would soon become the largest shareholder of the company. He would be able to take over the management of the company in the near future. Other shareholders would welcome to have a capable person in their management at hard times like this.
“Brother, I know you’re busy, but can you please stop by Denmark sometime soon? The crown prince has been waiting for you.”
“He’s got to be kidding me to make me come in this emergency. I have to go to Istanbul, so I won’t be free until a week later.”
“I’ll tell him that.”
“There’s no problem with the royal family, is there?”
“Nothing’s going on, except that Isabella’s body is getting a little heavy.”
“Are you serious? You’ve only been married for less than a month.”
“Yes, but I guess somehow we managed to make a honeymoon baby.”
“Congratulations. I’m happy to hear it, but what’s the rush? Is the royal family okay with it?”
“It doesn’t seem like a big flaw in the Danish royal family since we’ve dated for a long time before getting married. But, please don’t tell Fatima yet. She might give me an earful.”
“Don’t say that. Things like this should be spread. I’ll give Isabella a huge present now that she’s pregnant.”
“Hyung, just so you know, Isabella only likes gold bars.”
As Youngho made it seem that there were dozens of tons of gold from the Archduke family’s legacy, he would have to bring three or four gold bars to save his face this time.
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