Two Yaks and a Dragon

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Two Yaks and a Dragon

Postby Srf » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:14 pm

Khasa, Uirian Kingdom, 1967

The Uirian steppe could never really be called warm. Outside of a short, burning hot three month summer, even the sun lost its ability to heat the air on the high flat steppe that covered almost 80% of the country. Within a half-hour of dusk, the warmth of the sun had already dissipated into a bitingly cold, almost polar night. The residents of the capital, Khasa, were better off than the peasantry, but still lacked such luxuries as synthetic clothes and electric heaters. The biggest, most modern city in the nation rapidly shut itself down at around 7 pm, the residents hurrying through narrow mud-bricked streets to barricade themselves and a hot wood fire inside their homes.

In this soft glow of burning embers and candles, something stirred in the night. The trundle of a diesel engine, rarely heard in Khasa outside the central government district and affluent eastern suburb, disturbed the sleeping citizenry as they buried themselves deeper into their yak-skin blankets. Gradually a second, third and fourth engine joined the commotion, as a Questarian-built battle tank trundled its way down Khasa’s central Kheretang avenue. Behind it, a trio of drab olive six-ton trucks advanced in formation. Battle-hardened mountain rangers lined the interior benches at around sixty strong, clutching a variety of thirty year old small arms and swaddled in thick brown parkas. Their target was the royal palace – when they arrived, they hopped from the tailgate and took up formation around the concrete barricades blocking the ancient wooden gate to the complex. A platoon of confused-looking Royal Guard had taken up defensive positions on the gatehouse – a quick glance confirmed that they had no anti-tank weapons to speak of.

A voice called out from the rangers assembled behind their vehicles and barricades.

“Comrades! Put down your weapons and leave the gatehouse! Join us in the proletarian revolution as we throw off the chains of the bandit king! We do not wish to kill our brothers in the hunt for a tyrant!”

The Guardsmen looked at each other in confusion. What had he called them? Comrades? It sounded ugly and cumbersome in Uirian. Their leader called back, his own voice notably less confident than the first.

“We are sworn to defend the Khan until our dying breath! Return to your barracks now and we can forget all this ugliness!”

A rifle atop the gatehouse fired, as if to emphasize the point. It glanced harmlessly off the thick upper glacis of the tank, which in the dim glow of the gatehouse lights was now able to display the revolutionary icons hastily smeared in paint onto its hull and turret. The tank, in response, elevated its short howitzer until aimed at the middle of the gatehouse, and fired. The gatehouse was blown apart by the force of the shell. Pieces of masonry, splinters and bodies were scattered across the surrounding area.

One of the rangers blew a whistle and the tank grunted forward, eliciting crunches and cracks as it made its way over the ruins of the gatehouse. The infantry streamed in behind it, taking up positions across the perfectly maintained garden as more Royal Guard rushed from the palace. A short firefight erupted as the two elite forces engaged each other, bodies tumbling into flowerbeds and ornamental ponds as bullets tore through them.
The tank fired again, detonating a small guardhouse on the drive and sending more bodies careening into the dirt. It was clear the invaders had the upper hand, and any bird circling above would have easily noticed the disciplined, methodical way in which they laid down suppressing fire, covering each other’s advance as they moved up toward the palace entrance. This too was blown up by the tank, killing a handful of Royal Guard who had assembled in the purpose-built barricades behind the hand-crafted wood and jade doors.

A rocket propelled grenade streaked from an upper story window, piercing the tank’s armour and gutting it in an ammunition explosion. But the fight was already effectively lost as rangers poured through the shattered main doors to the palace, pressing their advantage as the defenders cradled their ears and heads to protect from various explosions.

Within half an hour it was over. The last of the Khan’s defenders had been slaughtered; the fat old man himself found cowering in his personal bathroom. He was dragged into the sumptuously decorated bedroom and pushed to his knees as the commanding officer of the invasion force approached.

“Shegu Khan” he began, “my name is Tenzin Khenkro. I am the democratically elected high representative of the Uirian People’s Republic. You are under arrest for the crimes of grand expropriation of national property, false detention, illegal execution, and corruption”.

The old Khan’s tongue had failed him. He just stared as Tenzin wandered over to one of his many tables, covered in gold, jade and diamond statues. He gently lifted a letter opener, inlaid with Questarian ivory and stunningly blue sapphires.

“These artefacts are evidence enough. This court finds you guilty of all charges.”

Tenzin placed the small knife back on the desk and took a step toward the fat, weak, sobbing old man shrinking at his feet. “Shegu Khan, the sentence for these crimes is death.”

Tenzin pulled out his service pistol and shot the man in the head.

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Re: Two Yaks and a Dragon

Postby Srf » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:15 pm

Vorga, People’s Democratic Sharfic Republic, 1979

“I hope that you understand, ambassador, that this is becoming increasingly unacceptable”

Songian ambassador to the Sharfic PDR Yu Xiaobo nodded gravely as the man whose’ office he was standing in stated the obvious. “Indeed it is, Secretary Chubayan. Rest assured the Federated States stands firmly behind our Vorga Accord allies and will continue to support them in any way necessary.

“Are you sure?” Secretary Chubayan turned from where he had been gazing out the window. Yu wondered why he had been looking anyway, as the thick December fog had reduced visibility to virtually zero. “Ten years ago they were sneaking out from those enormous camps at night, raping our women and stealing from shops. The locals hated them! They were easy to root out, like rats. Nobody protects a rat, ambassador. They want it out of their house, as soon as possible”.

Ambassador Yu nodded, awaiting the inevitable tirade.

“That was manageable. Five years ago, our arrest numbers dropped off rapidly. The real ones, that is. Did they all decide to stop destabilising our east and go home? No! They stopped raping and stealing, they started vandalising town halls and police cars. And suddenly people weren’t reporting them so much anymore. But truth be told, it was still manageable. Just”.

Chubayan took a drink from his desk, some sort of imported rum. From his sharp grimace, Yu assumed it was some kind of chemically produced Mbeyan paint thinner.

“Now we come to this week. It’s been escalating. That circus troupe in Khasa seems to have lost control of the entire border and we have religious partisans pouring into Isfara on a daily basis. People are refusing to work! Even the loyal ones! They were threatened by bandit sympathisers into staying away from the factories. And this week, somebody blew up the poor police commissioner’s car as he drove to work. It’s simply unacceptable”.

Ambassador Yu nodded again. It was probably the nest of pit vipers you call an intelligence service, he thought. He knew that Vorga coveted eastern Uiri, and open military action would be a rather gauche and transparent annexation. He half thought of telling the Secretary such, but decided not to. It was embarrassing after all, having such an inept ally losing a twentieth century war to a handful of fifteenth century yak herders. Maybe Vorga would do a better job of governing than Khasa.

“I agree, Secretary Chubayan. The bandits in Uiri have been allowed to roam freely and without fear for too long, and it is causing us both problems”. He blinked and cleaned his glasses. “I will relay your concerns to Yianshi. They will relay them to Khasa. If we are going to stabilise the Uirian Republic, we will for better or worse require their participation, probably under the Accord framework. A purely foreign invasion force is simply too unpalatable for the international community.

Chubayan nodded. He was rather pleased with how the meeting had unfolded. “I can deploy ten thousand forces to the border within two weeks. Thirty thousand within a month.”

“Yianshi will want to wait until the end of the winter, I expect”. Yu replied, surprised at the Sharfic readiness to commit forces. “We shall probably aim for February or March, depending on the weather conditions in Khasa. Your officers will be invited to attend a joint command centre either here or in Yianshi.”

Chubayan nodded, satisfied. “We look forward to working with you, Ambassador”.

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Re: Two Yaks and a Dragon

Postby Srf » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:17 pm

Excerpts from “Death by a thousand cuts – the Failed War in Uiriland” published 1999, Nampata Book Company Ltd

Bangaad – the first Sharfic folly

Sharfland’s opening assault into Uiri on March 11, 1980, was a rapid advance to the north and south of Uiri’s westernmost city, Bangaad, followed by an encirclement and double-back to wrest the city from Oki Dar hands. By totally enveloping the city, PSDF generals hoped to cut the flow of Oki Dar infiltrators who had for months been slipping across the border into the Sharfic provinces of Kehmkan and Gerishii Viyb. Simultaneously, the Sharfic leadership hoped that PSDF presence in the western provinces would provide a measure of stability and security that would encourage some of the several hundred thousand Uirian refugees already in Sharfland to return home.

Assigned to the northern and southern thrusts were the 85th and 109th Motorised Rifle Divisions, some of the best trained and equipped formations available to Vorga. Despite jeers and mockery at the general state of the Sharfic armed forces in the later years of the war, the army of 1980 was a fairly competent and well-led force. Still boasting tons of relatively new equipment and a Songian-trained officer corps who had not yet been retired or “liquidated” in a bloody early 90s’ purge, PSDF formations were far stronger than their counterparts in the barely functional Uirian People’s Army. Crucially, they did not turn tail and flee while throwing down weapons and uniforms, as their UPA allies were renowned to do during firefights. Indeed their initial engagements were overwhelming victories, as lead elements of both divisions swept aside token Oki Dar resistance on their drive eastward.

By March 14th, the two units’ lead reconnaissance elements had met and shared food at the small hamlet of Ulan-Nagor, approximately 40km west of Bangaad. The city was trapped between twenty thousand Sharfic troops, who now prepared to close the jaws. As the divisions turned inward and prepared to envelope an enormous pocket containing an estimated 5,000 Oki Dar fighters, their luck turned. Lashing rains turned the thin, dusty mountain paths into rivers of sucking, subsiding mud that even the infamous Type 63 tank, the PSDF workhorse renowned for its ability to keep driving with an engine full of tar and dust, was unable to traverse easily. The army columns slowed, and became easy targets for lone Oki Dar snipers and sappers. One or two soldiers per day were gunned down from a distance by unseen guerrillas, sapping the morale of the men even more than the filthy mud they were now forced to live in.

In Bangaad itself, a far more serious threat to the Sharfic regime had arisen. Oki Dar leaders inside the city were well aware that the Sharfic forces would not be delayed forever, and once they reached the city its defenders would be unable to hold it for more than a few days. They expropriated a number of battered 4x4s from the few Wallasean aid agencies that remained in the city, and mounted loudspeakers to them. Hourly, these propaganda wagons drove through the city streets urging residents to flee into Sharfland before the barbaric military forces arrived and razed their homes. Bangaad, already swelled with the internally displaced, lost over half of its population overnight as an exodus of 300,000 Uirians fled the Sharfic army by entering Sharfland itself. Lurking within this human tide was the command structure of the Bangaad Oki Dar, who would in years to come settle in Isfara and Proletarsk and build an identical ideological movement across the border that eventually destabilised the Sharfic republic enough to ensure its destruction.

When the Sharfic expeditionary force eventually reached Bangaad on 20th March, they found a half-empty city defended by a few token guerrillas who were easily cleaned out. By then, the Uirians had already placed down their meagre possessions in the sprawling refugee camps on the Sharfic border – many of them never to return to their country of birth.

Military historians continue to question why the PSDF failed to include a frontal assault element in the Bangaad offensive, which would have blocked their enemy’s escape into their own country. Certainly this is a far graver error than being caught by unseasonal March rains, and there has not been a sufficient answer forthcoming over the last twenty years. Some claim that the eastern region army commander of the time, Lhamo Repa, was himself an Oki Dar fifth columnist who deliberately bungled the invasion. This theory, however, remains unanswered due to Repa’s dismissal and subsequent suicide in December 1980.

Upon claiming Bangaad the PSDF found itself governing a not unsubstantial chunk of Uirian soil that it had claimed as its own since the mid-19th century. The occupiers were now faced with the task of building at least a handful of credible institutions in an almost iron-age region, against a population at best apathetic and at worst violently hostile, whilst maintaining military control of the population centres against Oki Dar bandits that still lurked in strength in the mountains. The results were mixed.

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Re: Two Yaks and a Dragon

Postby Srf » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:20 pm

Private diary, recovered from checkpoint Bangaad E-N10 (post-engagement).

8th May 1980

First day assigned to Bangaad E-N10 (that’s Bangaad environ, 10th checkpoint North). I’m here with twenty other guys and a platoon of UPA from Bangaad. We can’t really communicate that well, but we manage. They have a tank, I think it’s Songian, but it’s quite old. Nevermind, the bandits don’t have any of their own!
Our job is to search cars and mule carts coming in and out of Bangaad. There are a lot more of the latter than the former. Villagers from up the hill come down sometimes and talk to the Uirians. They give us funny looks but they seem nice enough.

9th May 1980

Left UPA in charge of the checkpoint and did a local patrol to make ourselves known. Did a 5km loop around the checkpoint which took us through three villages. I forgot their names because they just don’t sound right in Sharfic. Sergeant Tuvaal is from Isfara, so he basically speaks Uirian, and he greeted the local chiefs and such for us. He told them we were here to help and keep them safe and asked for their concerns. They complained that they had lost a lot of men and they needed help with construction. Sergeant Tuvaal agreed to help them out.

10th May 1980

Hard day! We went back to the closest village and spent the day building a village school for them. To be fair we were pretty proud with ourselves as we finished, we had finished the roof which was what the village women and old men were having problems with. The chief thanked us a lot and they seemed to like us a bit more. When we got back to the checkpoint the Uirians were shouting and waving their arms at each other. Sergeant Tuvaal told us their officer was angry because he came to check on the guys at the road and they were asleep. It’s their own country they’re fighting for, but they don’t seem very motivated about it!

13th May 1980

Big find today. One of the yak drivers headed into Bangaad had sewn a bunch of grenades in plastic bags under the Yaks’ skin! Crafty little bandit, he was. Sergeant Tuvaal said it was lucky we were manning the road that day because the Uirians would have never bothered searching hard enough to find them. We arrested the herder and called in to command to come pick him up.

14th May 1980

Disaster! The grenades were stolen out of the storeroom overnight. A recon car came up from Bangaad to take them and the prisoner back to the city but the grenades were gone and somebody killed the bandit. Sergeant Tuvaal was furious. He said it was some traitor among the Uirians who had snuck in and taken the grenades to sell. He didn’t have any proof so he didn’t say anything. He did change the lock on the storeroom to make sure only he had a key to it.

19th May 1980

Someone set fire to the school we built the other week. Sergeant Tuvaal said it was probably bandits from the mountains who didn’t want us doing any good work here. I just felt sorry for the poor village kids who can’t go to school anymore.

21st May 1980

We got woken up by shouting from the UPA camp. When we got there the sergeant was shouting at a soldier. Sergeant Tuvaal told us he was claiming he lost his rifle. The Uirian sergeant grabbed the guy and searched his pockets. He found some money and shouted again. Apparently it was too much money for a UPA conscript to have and he must have sold his rifle to the bandits. They started beating him up. Sergeant Tuvaal just told us to leave and guard the road.

21st May 1980

Really sick! Must have had some bad rations. I’ve been in the base all day just shitting my guts out. I can’t remember the last time I was sick like this! I've been put off duty until I'm feeling better and more than anything I'm just really bored.

22nd May 1980


23rd May 1980

Still sick, but getting better. Doc says back on duty tomorrow.

24th May 1980

Someone blew up the Uirians’ tank in the night. One of our soldiers said they saw some guys running up the hill to the village where we built the school. We ran up there and did a house to house search while sergeant Tuvaal shouted at us to be careful. We heard a gunshot and a scream and looked round. One of our boys had shot a little kid who was hiding in a cupboard. When he ran out the guy just instinctively fired off some rounds. The kid was already dead but sergeant Tuvaal grabbed two of us to carry him down the hill to our field medic. The mum just kept screaming and wailing while we climbed down the hill with her son. We never found the bomber.

25th May 1980

A couple more Uirians “lost their guns” overnight. They protested that they must have been stolen but they got thrown in the “jail” the UPA had built – a hole in the ground with wood over it. It’s pretty obvious that they are selling their equipment to the bandits. Apparently one of their soldiers had a relative in the village where last night happened and he’s told their whole platoon we murdered a kid for fun. Aside from their sergeant they don’t talk to us anymore, they just watch while we work. I’m starting to dislike them. I’m having a hard time sleeping because I keep seeing the dead kid from yesterday.

26th May 1980

Car coming up from Bangaad had a bunch of rifles in the seats. They were our models! I called in Bangaad again and they were pretty concerned. Major Kamal came up in a helicopter and took everything within an hour. He told us we were doing important work and they would trace the guns to find the spy back home. He promised he would look after us as thanks. It’s reassuring knowing a helicopter can get to us so quickly.

27th May 1980

The checkpoint came under attack. Sergeant Tuvaal guessed around ten guys, hiding up the hill with small arms. The UPA was hiding in their camp while we returned fire. I ran back to get our machine gun from the storeroom and I saw the UPA sergeant shouting at his troops. He was ordering them out to fight, I think, but they weren’t listening to him. One of them stood up and shot him. Then they threw down their guns and ran away, pulling off their army jackets. I ran to the sergeant but he was dead, they had got him in the chest. When I got back to sergeant Tuvaal with the machine gun the bandits had already ran off. He shouted at me asking why I took so long. I told him what happened and he had such a horrible look on his face. He told us to go check the bandits’ bodies while he called Bangaad.

28th May 1980

Not much to report today. Pinned down by bandit snipers. Our own sniper rifle has gone missing so we can’t return fire at all, the bastards shot down two of us without ever looking us in the face. We called major Kamal and praise him he sent an attack helicopter to strafe the hill where they were firing from. Can finally try and sleep.

29th May 1980

Someone slit sergeant Tuvaal’s throat in the night. It was one of us, it had to be. They knew when he would be alone doing inventory in the storeroom. Nobody trusts each other anymore. We called Bangaad to report it and they promised reinforcements with another tank. They’re coming up by morning. There isn’t any traffic on the road today, so I can at least watch my back.

Huge bandit attack. At least 50 coming down from the villages. We can’t fight them properly cause we don’t trust each other to not shoot us in the back. I’m in the storehouse with the machinegun. Hold out a few hours more and the reinforcements will arrive.

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