Radovan walks again

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby Crave » Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:27 am

"Внимание, внимание! Все персоналу нужен докладывать на места службы срочно! Внимание, внимание!"
"Vnimanie, vnimanie! All personnel must report to duty stations immediately! Vnimanie, vnimanie!"

A groan swept the chow hall like a tsunami. Men in fatigues scrambled to their feet and raced toward the door to gather up their gear. This was the third drill in two weeks - or so everyone assumed it was a drill. Camp Aloye was on the western outskirts of První. It was a relatively small satellite base to the 1st Brigade's headquarters in the city. Unlike most other Saratov bases in Poláčekia, which were jointly populated with Poláček troops, this camp was entirely manned by Saratov paratroopers. These men specifically were the 104th battalion, 1st Brigade Fallshirmjägers, POLCOM Rapid Reaction Force.

Podpolkovnik Averiks Vlasov could see the heat rising from the concrete parade ground that stretched out beneath his air conditioned office. The sleeves on his BDU were rolled up to his elbows, and a Fantasian watch with canvas strap ticked away quietly and precisely on his wrist. He observed attentively as the men below scurried: first to the barracks, then to the armory; then finally to the parade ground. Although Vlasov was glancing at his watch, his aide-de-camp Leytenant Oleg Buranov held a stopwatch in his hand with seconds ticking by like eons.

"I'll be damned if my boys are the hold-up when the shit hits the fan," the senior officer remarked to nobody in particular. "They need to be on the field and ready to go before the first copter gets here from the aerodrome. And the helicopters will have a head start."

The ceiling fan wobbled like a top with a faint, oscillating whine - Buranov wasn't sure it had ever been shut off for the two years he had been based here. It had probably been running since the 70's, its motor and servos fused together in perpetual motion. He inhaled deeply. The office stank like mold with its dated wood paneling and off-white stained tile floor that peeled in the corners. Photos from years gone by peppered the walls, many of them in black and white. Even in the older monochrome photos, it was obvious that the men were wearing deep crimson berets with the distinctive silver badge - an eagle in descent, poised to deliver a killing blow.

Seconds, minutes - the clock was ticking. The last few stragglers were now filing out to the field. They were men who had probably been in the showers or off-duty at the time the loudspeaker called them to action. Vlasov didn't fault them for their tardiness, because they played an important role in calculating the proper timing for how long it would take the battalion to actually mobilize. He also didn't envy them, as today was a particularly hot late-June day, with the sun beating down in a cloudless sky.

After a lull in the commotion, where all the specks of green stood perfectly still and evenly spaced on a sea of gray, one of the officers on the field raised his arm with a green flag. This was the signal to those observing from the main building that all men were present and accounted for with gear and weapons in tow. Buranov jammed his thumb down on the stopwatch's plunger.

"Twelve minutes, seventeen seconds."

"Not good enough," Vlasov answered flatly, "Flight time from east of První is about eleven minutes even. We need to shave a whole minute off if we have any hope of being ready to jump at first notice. Schedule another drill for Friday."

Buranov grimaced at the thought of calling another drill so soon. Three in the past two weeks was already significantly more than usual. Drills were typically had, at most, once a month under normal circumstances. And, as far as POLCOM headquarters in Stariy Rog were concerned, these were normal circumstances. Army Headquarters in Petrograd had not handed down any special orders to increase readiness. If anything, Central Command wanted things on the south side of the border to stay quiet since all the apparent movement was in the west. The Podpolkovnik had taken this upon himself all on his own, as a personal endeavor, to have the fastest activating unit in the entire Ground Forces. The "Rapidest of the Rapid," he had called them.

Buranov leaned in to the PA system and clicked the switch to open the microphone.

"Vnimanie, vnimanie! Spasibo, rebyata, za vashu usiliyu. All off-duty personnel are hereby afforded an extra eight hours' pass for this weekend. All men on-duty this weekend are to be afforded their extra pass next weekend."

The ancient speaker mounted on the exterior wall squelched with an ear-piercing shriek as he released the button. Little did the men know that they'd be dragging themselves out to the field again right before the weekend arrived.

But Vlasov knew. Buranov could see the twinkle in his eye as he stared at the slowly emptying parade ground and twirled his gray mustache. He knew they'd drill again. He knew this because he, unlike many, knew about Radovan.

And Radovan was on the march.

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby Wolo » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:10 am

For the first time in living memory, the fields lay empty. No trucks, no tractors, no draught horses, no men, they’d all been gathered up. Green barley ripened under the midday sun. Perhaps it would be harvested, or perhaps it would simply go to seed; It was yet to be seen.
From cottar to bailiff, all were by now attending emergency wapenshaws. Most of the cottars did not have a rifle. There surely wasn’t enough to go around. Old warehouses were cracked open like caskets, their contents handed out by the armful to waiting men with no uniform save a cockade pinned to their caps. The smell of mouldering cardboard and dusty canvas clung to them like wet clay.

The regulars looked on disapprovingly from the backs of flatbeds heading East.

“Fodder.” Said one.

“Aye.” Replied another.

These reservists, the old men and the young boys, would join them after a few weeks with a drill sergeant.

Word had come back from the Estates General, the expected reply. Despite this, it hadn’t gone down well with those in the know, Lochgelly in the least. The Lord Protector wasn’t the kind to take rejection on the chin, not in private anyway. “Alien peoples indeed!” He seethed.
Before him stood Orr, his High Constable. He was used to Lochgelly’s rages. This one was thankfully beginning to abate.
“Brother, I…”

“You know, they delight in their perfidy!”

“Indeed, Brother.”

Lochgelly took a deep breath. It was just enough for him to regain a semblance of composure. “So, what do you have for me, Orr?”

“We must assume they’re bluffing. If we lead, providence shall compel them to follow. I fully expect that our actions will rouse the Southerners from their stupor as well.”

Orr knew what the Lord Protector wanted to hear. It helped that he believed it.

“When?” snapped Lochgelly.

“Two Weeks, three at the most. Within the next two months millions will be on the move. The Prekovars will not ignore such provocation. No one will.”
Lochgelly nodded and waved him off.

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby TWSP » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:02 am

"The Saratovs have been unusually active as of late," the General mused idly, placing another signature on the long list of pending files. "You think they know something we don't?"

His aide, a Podplukovník, pondered this question. "If they did," he ventured. "They would have told us already."

The General's pen stopped mid-air as looked up from his paperwork. "You mean like they tell us about their play-dates with the Dumani in the Ingenic?"

"We don't tell them about our own with the Cockays, and I think in this case the Dumani would be much more useful playmates."

"Hrmph," the General's eye returned to his desk. "You are right, of course. They tell me the Saratovs have had many exercises, three in the last month alone."

"Do you fault their readiness, sir?"

"Oswin no, He knows we should start stretching our own muscles as well, and we are from what I'm told, this arrived today," he passed the sheet of paper he had just signed on to his subordinate, who promptly scanned it.

"War games, when the Prekovars are mobilizing? They'll definitely be suspicious."

"The Imperiální Generální Štáb thinks it would be a good way to show them we are still on our toes and that they won't catch us by surprise -again-," he stressed the final word. The invasion of Minu had taken place what, almost forty years ago? It was still fresh on everyone's minds, every military mind, at least. A full-scale invasion of a friendly country and all Wallasea had done was watch in amazement. No one had been ready, no one had even theorized that the Prekovars would move like they did, yet they did.

"This involves our Rapid Response Command, the Saratovs are bound to notice. Are they being invited?"

"They will be, eventually. If anything it also shows them we know something's afoot."

There was a knock on the door, and the General gestured to his aide to open it. Outside stood a Rytmistr, ready to salute and with a thick file under his arm. "Sir, the Director is here."

The general's aide looked back at his commander. The General nodded. "Send him in," the file exchanged hands and the captain stepped away as a man in civilian dress, Havel Havlíček, Director of the Bureau of Ungentlemanly Affairs made his way in. "Good afternoon, would you care for a drink?" The colonel was quick on his feet, he made sure the door was closed and then pulled up a chair for their guest.

Havlíček waved him away. "No need, I'm just here to give you the latest report and then I'm back to the Keep. You, however, should probably stay seated."

"The Prekovars?"

"No, the Cockays are mobilizing. Completely."

"They are what?"

"Total mobilization, all reserves are being called and armed. Their entire country, their entire economy is coming to a full stop."

The General was glad he had remained in his place, his brow furrowed, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. "Are they stupid? If we know then the Prekovars know, and if the Prekovars know all the Cockays are going to achieve is to start the second Great War and commit suicide on a national scale."

"The Cockays know that."

"Then why..."

"Because they are fanatics, General, and my orders are to help them."

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby Prekovy » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:21 pm

Old Polyakov was the first industrious Polyakov that anyone could remember. He had too many daughters (this would not have surprised you, if you had known his sly tendencies), but he had put them to good use attracting the attention of the local vechniki. He married the first six to the vechniki’s men, and the next two to the vechniki’s sons. And when Old Polyakov finally had a son, the vechniki (who in truth was more interested in Maiden Polyakova No. 9 than in Young Polyakov No. 1) had made the young man a captain in the village regiment.

By this act, Young Captain Polyakov became what Strelety call a služka -- a man whose position is owed entirely to patronage. But Polyakov had an unusual reserve of energy for a služka. By an act of apparently great heroism in the capture of an Uzur rebel village, he attracted the attention of an even greater vechniki, who appointed him chief of staff of the famous 9th Motor Rifle Division. In such a famous division, this position was tantamount to command, since the real commander (whom Polyakov had never met) was too important to spend time at the front.

That is how Young Colonel Polyakov, who had already shouldered the responsibility of being his father’s only son, and a služka, and who had very little real interest in or aptitude for command, came to command all the remaining Prekovite forces west of Karabinzavod’sk. It is also how he came to attend the meeting of senior First Corps commanders that was now taking place.

Klimovich, who was MSB, was speaking about the new satellite pictures.

"The Cockays are moving, but for what purpose? They are a hysterical race." The MSB men who surrounded Klimovich nodded forcefully at this. "If we move now, we will provoke them into action. The Gospodar has complete confidence in our position, and knows you will avoid wrong judgements."

"Only the biryukh speaks for the Gospodar," said Bandarenka, who commanded the 1st Armored Division, "and I don't need your instructions to understand why the hrych are moving. Listen closely and you'll hear the mewing of their priests. They are mobilizing."

"Tikhomir Pavlovych, you cannot believe that," Klimovich replied accurately.

Bandarenka scrunched his brow and looked to be working out a counteroffensive. But before he could speak again, Polyakov heard the deep voice of General Novotny.

"Of course the Cockays will not attack, but it would be imprudent not to organize a defence facing west," said General Novotny, who led the only full corps still positioned on the northern Cockay Frontier, and who knew the biryukh by his full name. With this, Klimovich fell silent, and the discussion turned to the defence facing west.

"Given the relative unimportance of this direction, the defence will naturally only involve the First Corps," Novotny continued. "Colonel Polyakov?"

"General—" and Polyakov paused to remember the name of the vechniki who commanded the 9th Motor Rifle Division "—General Vishnevsky's men are arrayed in several prepared lines leading to the rail junction southwest of Karabinzavod’sk. He is prepared to move to any position you deem appropriate."

"General Vishnevsky will remain in his positions southwest of Karabinzavod’sk. I will assign to him as many guns as he needs to hold these positions."

Polyakov nodded and reflected upon his good fortune. If he held the positions he might even be promoted to Novotny's personal retinue. "The good general informed me that an additional fifty guns would be critical in this task, General Novotny."

"Fine," Novotny said.

The discussion then turned to the other division commanders, and Polyakov allowed his mind to wander. He wondered whether the Cockays would really attack. If he resisted them, would Vishnevsky receive the credit? If he did not, would he receive the blame? His heart beat faster and he thought about his father, Old Polyakov, and his sisters. How would they bear their names if he failed? Should he have requested more guns?

His mind wandered further. He knew that Klimovich would remember every word spoken at the meeting. Should he have requested fewer guns? He looked toward Klimovich.

Klimovich was already staring at him with the eyes of an MSB man. He wrote something down and smiled at Young Polyakov. The meeting continued.
GLASS TABLE - at 13:34
im writing something p ridiculous
im sure @leis willl hate it

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby flm » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:28 pm

Four times a week, after classes, Juliana went to the club. The club was one of her favourite places, and she certainly liked it much more than classes. At the club she would see the friends she had met earlier in life, who now, for whatever reason, went to different schools. School was competitive, so was the club, to be fair, but it was different. The club was jovial, the school ordained.

They had built the club she went to on the other side of the highway. When she went to the club, then, she would have to cross the highway. She took the footpath, four days a week. The footpath was shielded from the rain, but on sunny the days the roof trapped the heat of the sun. The shadow on the footpath was a traitorous one. In the last three weeks, when walking over the footpath to the club after school, Juliana had seen the trucks with the tanks go by sixteen times.

The large trucks took the tanks to the fields the army used out of town. They weren’t allowed to go and see, of course they all had wanted to. It seemed like great fun, although at school they said that war was serious business. They were too young, still, to properly train with tanks. Last semester on a defence day they had taken them out to the tank field to train with the tanks. They had spent the whole day training with the tanks. Her brother had told them that it was for show, that it wasn´t really proper training. They had chased after the tanks for most of the day, and at one point they had all hidden in a trench while a tank rolled over it.

They were the old reserve Linces too. Her brother had gone out and been on real manoeuvres, as he had called them, with Pumas. Her brother was in senior school, and he was old enough to do more than plink away with the training rifles or survival training, which is what most of their defence days consisted of. That and a lot of running, and a lot of squats, and a lot of push-ups. Necessary exercise, regimented exercise. Juliana knew that it would be much worse, eventually in the service. Her teachers, instructors, and parents had told it would be harder in the service. Her brother told her it would be harder in the service too, even though he had not been in the service yet.

The tanks would go out on the field outside of town, and pretend to fight the infantry hiding in the wood-line, or try to hide from the helicopters if they came out. Practice made perfect, the cliché repeated by the instructors, just like at the club, just like at school. The time spent drilling was time spent investing in the future, they also said. A lot of what they said was less than subtle, although that was probably the point.

Juliana began to walk up the slope to the footpath, so she could cross over the highway. She adjusted the strap of her bag, slung over her left shoulder, and gripped her right hand on the centre of gravity of her hockey stick, steadying it easily. She walked over the footpath, getting closer to the club on the other side. Today, just like yesterday and the day before, there were no tanks going by.

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby Preston » Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:32 pm

From Sprawy Światowe Magazine, August 2019 Edition

He Who Would Be King: Embrea's Monarch-in-Exile on Prekovy, Directivism and The Future of Embrea

To his colleagues in the Boleslaw Kowalski School of International Diplomacy at Prvni University, he is Dr. Manuel Duarte de Mirandela, Chair of Southern Wallasea Studies. To thousands of Embrean emigres throughout Wallasea, his title is more regal: His Apostolic Majesty, Manuel the Fifth, by Oswin's Hand King of Embrea, Supreme Primate of the Embrean Apostolic Church and Defender of Its Faith. Naturally, this causes a bit of confusion as I set out to meet the subject of my interview: what do I call him? Majesty? Doctor? The answer comes from the mouth of the man himself, as he meets me at the front door of the Casa de Mirandela, a palatial country home wedged in the middle of the city, which once served as the Apostolic Kingdom's embassy and whose flag still flies on the flagpole out front.

"Call me Manuel," he says with a smile and a friendly laugh, inviting me inside. His Polacek is without accent, a consequence of growing up here. His Embrean too. A pair of bodyguards--soldiers, more accurately, equipped as they are with Polacek vz.11 rifles--snap to attention as he passes, tendering a salute. For all my guest's easygoing demeanor and insistence that he be treated as one of the commons, the scene unsettles me. Clearly, there are those willing to fight and die for him, at least in principle. My host continues to lead me through the building, along the ground floor that comprises his living quarters. "The affairs of government are conducted in the second floor offices," he says, referring to the Alliance for Democracy in Embrea, the pressure-group-cum-government-in-exile he chairs as nominal king. We stop in one of the ground floor's numerous parlors, where my host gestures at a portrait of an Embrean monarch in full regnal attire, his face betraying an expression of awe mixed with apprehension.

"My great-grandfather," Manuel says. "Pedro the Third. They called him the Sad King. He struggled all his life with melancholy, what we would call clinical depression today. This was saved from the palace, in Evora, when they had to flee. He wanted it burned, when he died, but we didn't do that of course." The strain in Miguel's voice is perceptible: even a century later, the trauma of a life in exile cuts deep in the family conscience. A short pause later, and we're led by a butler to a comfortable looking room with drinks waiting, and left to our own devices, to do what it is I came here for.

You have a new book coming out, A Century Lost, about the Great War and its impact on the modern world. Why don't you tell us a bit about it?

With pleasure. The crux of my argument in A Century Lost is that the century following the Great War--that is, from 1911 to present day--has seen Wallasea fail to effectively absorb the geopolitical lessons of that conflict such that a second Great War is likely and perhaps even inevitable, and that preventing another war from occurring will take a radical shift in paradigm and policy on behalf of the entire continent, if in fact it could be done at all.

People have been making this argument essentially since the guns stopped firing a hundred years ago, and yet we're still at peace. What makes you so confident in what, to most, seems like a pessimistic outlook?

History, plain and simple. Our history sets the course for our future. You look today at Prekovar militarism, and you can trace a common thread from humiliation and near-bankruptcy after the Great War, through to Minua, to the soft-power initiatives and disinformation campaigns against the rest of Wallasea, and now to the situation we have today. Everything Prekovy does can be seen in this desire, to take back its standing in its own mind as unquestioned leader of the Slavs in Wallasea.

You spend a lot of time in your book going over the dynamic between Embrea and Prekovy, the New Territories, the potential flashpoint of a new Great War. What makes this situation different from, say, The Carse, where Prekovy also lost territory?

A number of things. The most obvious being that Cockaygne is backstopped by the Commonwealth and we have seen in recent history that when the Commonwealth is roused to action they are very difficult to defeat militarily or politically, it's a long battle and a costly battle and that certainly is something Prekovy wishes to avoid if it can. But I think the circumstances are also different, because you go back to the negotiations in 1911 and 1912 and Embrea quite vocally did not want additional territory, it wanted indemnities for the suffering it bore in the war, but the money was all gone amongst the so-called major powers and so Embrea gets given land fixed at the last lines of battle, in effect annexing a strip of Prekovar territory, the New Territories. And this situation I think caused and still causes a mutual resentment, the Embreans of course feel they've been hard done by and left behind at the negotiation table and the Directivist coup is a direct response to this. And to Prekovy, the humiliation of having to cede territory to Embrea, tiny Embrea whom it's never regarded as anything worth considering, is complete and absolute.

And surely, the Directivist treatment of Prekovars in the ensuing years hasn't helped.

No, that it certainly has not. A century of oppression and attempted cultural erasure to feed legitimacy into the Prekovar narrative, that Prekovy is the real victim of the Great War and is merely asserting itself against the old Wallasean Entente.

Shifting gears a bit here, what do you make of the recent news out of Embrea, the Directorate trying to improve relations with Prekovy and perhaps diffuse the situation a bit on their part?

A nice gesture, but several decades too late, in all likelihood. Nothing I've seen or read gives any indication that Prekovy wants or desires any form of detente with the Directivists along the lines of an equal-power relationship. The Directivists won't accept anything less, nor should they, so here we have an impasse.

The Directivist regime has proven remarkably resistant to external pressure. How do you think war, if it comes, will impact that?

I have to disagree with your wording there; the Directivists have proven resistant because they haven't had any serious external pressures. Their patrons in Flamaguay are content to let them do what they will and the rest of southern Wallasea hems and haws and pretends not to notice. I think Directivism as an ideology probably cannot survive a protracted conflict; their whole basis of legitimacy is that they've managed to avoid entanglement with the continent for a century, and they ascribe this to their ideology and treat it as an ideological victory rather than a consequence of geopolitics. A conflict would shatter that illusion and, I think, make it very difficult for the regime to continue.

The Directivist, hearing those words, might think you favor a war for that reason...

Absolutely not. I want the same thing the Directivists profess to want, an Embrea that is strong and modern and independent in its affairs. That this has been the case for the past century has, in my view, been in spite of Directivism and not because of it. The regime lives on borrowed time, and I will join with the descendants of the thousands it exiled in raising a toast to the new Embrea when it falls, but I have no desire to see bloodshed to this end. We have had enough of that in our history.

You've certainly given some thought to the new Embrea, in consequence of your position. Do you want the monarchy restored?

It is whatever the people decide. For years I didn't take part in the affairs of government [in exile] because I felt that didn't and couldn't claim to represent the will of the Embrean people by putting a crown on my head without their consent. When the Directivist Era ends we will have to have reconciliation, we will have to find a way to heal and to allow the Embrean people to decide their own future, something they have never had the ability to do in all of our history. If they choose to return to a constitutional monarchy, I will do what is asked of me. If not, I will respect that result and live out my life as a common man, as I have here in Polacekia.

One last question: after a century in exile, how do you maintain the sense of Embrean identity? How do you balance that ideal with the reality of your life in Polacekia?

By holding on to history. The Directivists want us to forget that we are Embreans, they claim we have no Embrean blood (author's note: the Embrean royal family descends from Flamaguayan nobility) and no claim to citizenship, but this is not for them to decide. Polacekia is the country of my passport, it is my residence, and I am grateful for what the Polaceks have done for me and for my family, but Embrea is the citizenship of my soul. When you have that, you cannot let it go, no matter what.

Thank you for your time this afternoon, and I would like to remind readers that A Century Lost by Doctor Manuel Duarte de Mirandela goes on sale August 12th.

It was a pleasure, thank you.

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby flm » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:23 pm

Pictures of jets filled the screen. First it was six jets taxiing towards a runway, and then four jets flying above an airfield. “When the world is inhospitable and replete with decadent regimes, Embrea can yet count on her stalwart allies in Flamaguay.” The rehearsed voice of a female narrator spoke over images of technicians moving munitions underneath a pair of aircraft. The crews were mixed, some wearing Embrean uniforms and others sporting Flamaguayan issue. “These aircraft represent a further contribution of the Flamaguayan Confederation to the joint defense of our sister nations. Embrean defensive capabilities continue to develop further, both independently and with the assistance of our allies. Under the conduct of the Directivist State, domestic production and upgrade of weapons systems has continuously reached new heights.” The crews affixed an air-to-ground missile to a hardpoint.

“There, our boys. Haha!” The man slowly and exaggeratedly clapped twice.

The TV now displayed a factory floor, with a Lince turret in the foreground being fitted with new sensors. “Our army, infused with the lessons provided and outlined by the Directivist cause, stands ready to shield our nation against any threat.” A TEM filled the screen, going over some concrete obstacles on a testing course. “Our industry, backed by the resolute working spirit of our men and women, equips our Comphaineros on our frontiers.” A Flamaguayan officer looked on as an Embrean counterpart from the Naval Infantry poked at a map. “Standing together, Embrea and Flamaguay will be able to resist aggression from hostile regimes.”

“Our stuff isn’t as thick as this, is it? I hope not.” He took a drink of brandy.

The planes came back on the screen, now shots of them taking off. “The delivery of two dozen SEPA Ilusión 2000D-R2, will allow the air force to deploy an entire new squadron to operational duties. The examples provided are the new strike variant of the Ilusión 2000, which with the SEPA Ráfaga form the redoubtable backbone of our airpower. Crews have already received training, both at home and in Flamaguay, in order to speedily bring the new squadron into operational service.” Images of pilots at a briefing, a mixed contingent yet again. “The Director-General and the Director of National Defense spoke personally with the Flamaguayan Caudillo, and all sides reaffirmed their commitment to the pursuit of peaceful development and to sustain civilization.” The TV showed an image of Director-General Bernardo Garcia Mendes on the phone in his office, surrounded by aides.

“Well that’s just plainly not true. We didn’t phone anyone.”

“Ermenegildo! Will you turn off that damn thing and come to bed? I’ll fuck myself if I must!”

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby TWSP » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:47 pm

Hanuš observed as the customs agent across the desk flipped through the stack of documents he had presented him. He watched as his hands moved lightning fast, inking and stamping page after page after page. At least it was clear enough that this man, his young age notwithstanding, was good at his job and not just an average PIDE plant*.

He was broken out of his musings by the official handing his stack of documents back, after adding several of his own, all duly signed and checked. Hanuš nodded and stood back up, the Embrean did the same with a tell-tale glint in his eye. The KBZ agent offered his hand and the other man shook it, withdrawing the bribe contained within; it was all Flamaguayan pesos, after all no self-respecting Embrean, PIDE or not, would accept a bribe in lires.

"Will that be all, companheiro?"

The Embrean smiled: "Of course, just hand the appropriate form to the guard at the gate and you'll be let through, Senhor..." he checked the ID that had been provided to establish Hanuš' false identity. "Senhor Olivares."

'Olivares' bowed his head. "A pleasure doing... pleasure working with you, hopefully we will see each other again," and at this the Embrean smiled even wider, this transaction alone had probably paid for his wife's next shopping trip to Flamaguay, and any future ones would be probably welcomed.

He stepped back outside, into the muggy Embrean night. The dock was shrouded in darkness except for where the ever-present spotlights shone, their high-powered bulbs turning specific spots into luminous beacons of security. The bureaucrat's office had been, thankfully, placed close to the entrance gate so even from here he could see the long array of trucks lined far into darkness, all waiting to be given permission to enter.

Inside them? If one believed the shipping manifesto the Embreans had just politely signed then these had come from Veridis, been unloaded in Flamaguay, loaded onto trucks and then brought here only to be loaded back again on a ship. The containers would be full of cocktail umbrellas (they were a new fad that was taking over Cockaygne, Olivares had explained) and coconuts (an integral part of the cocktail in question); in reality they were loaded with weapons, a mix of obsolete vz. 55's, several dozen smaller, general-purpose trucks, and even some MAP and MTO series anti-tank missiles.

Hanuš had been told that the latter were more important than the former, if he ended up needing to choose which shipment to send before, because the Cockay Array was utilizing awfully outdated equipment when it came to fighting Prekovar tank formations. He didn't doubt the Cockays would resort to throwing soldiers or civilians with explosives strapped to their chests to stop them if they had to, but it was a smart idea, he thought, to provide them with the means to lose as little manpower as possible. If anything, this would make any war drag on, and in the end it was better them than us.

With these thoughts going through his busy mind, Hanuš approached the guard at the gate, fanning himself with the thick stack of paperwork he had just acquired. The man was holding a Saratov-designed rifle, an unmistakeable profile, and would surely require another bribe. With any luck the containers would be loaded and ready to ship out by the morning.

* Standard rules for Wallasean intelligence agencies operating in Embrea is to assume that everyone is a PIDE agent, it doesn't matter if the person itself has not yet realized it.

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Re: Radovan walks again

Postby Praetonia » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:37 am

"I feel, Sir, at this instant, how much I had been animated in my childhood by a recital of Senland's victories. I was taught, sir, by one whose memory I shall ever revere, that at the close of a war, far different indeed from this, she had dictated the terms of peace to submissive nations. This, in which I place something more than a common interest, was the memorable era of Senland's glory. But that era is past. The visions of her power and pre-eminence are passed away. Let us examine what is left, with a manly and determined courage. Let us feel our calamities. Let us bear them too, like men."

Laurence remembered these words. It hadn't sounded like defeatism. It had sounded like greatness. Fox had said this, in any case, at the 78th Convocation of the Army Council of the Eastern Association. It was the day after Jesselton fell. The Confederate army was broken up and scattered. Remnants retreated on the coast in disorder. Smyth had moved his small expeditionary force south by sea. There was nothing between the mass of the Syndicalist army and the Oryontic. And, that morning, the gold had gone missing from the vaults of the Oryontic Assurance at Jesselton. There was no other way to put it: the sky was falling. Laurence had applauded Fox, wiping a tear from his eye. The Eastern Association had resolved to recall its army from Questers. Protector George had refused. And three days later George had been shot dead in the middle of Haversham. By a syndicalist, it was said, and it indeed was admitted. But quietly, in the West, some believed there had been different assassins.

Along with much of the Foxite faction Laurence had been happy that the old Protector - the old fool, as they called him - was dead. Laurence rose quickly in their ranks and been chosen to be part of their delegation to the new Protector Anne. But between the assassination and their meeting things had changed rapidly. Smyth, a relatively junior general officer of minor fame, had turned the entire course of the war at the Battle of Panchkula, rolled up his sleeves, flown back to Haversham, and barged his way into the Protector's quarters without an appointment. She listened politely to Laurence and the rest of the delegation, but clearly without real interest. She dismissed them devastatingly, "I trust entirely that all My officers of the Eastern Association will follow in the footsteps of Smyth and acquit themselves as successfully in the contest with the Enemy."

Laurence had never seen the "Enemy". He was a staff officer to his core. And even after the first success of Smyth, he followed the Foxite line that Abdul and his new southern power were doomed. Slowly, inch by inch, without really noticing, the Foxites turned from a faction with a different perspective on strategy to a defeatist and seditious minority. Laurence refused service in Questers, he told himself because the strategy there was ineffective, but truly because he did not want to face the Syndicalists in person. Not least because the Foxites said the Syndicalists were ten foot tall and invincible. The war ground on, and he paid it very little attention. All of his thoughts and efforts were devoted to factional politics, and for him the reality of the war became the narrative of his faction. There was no planning for a Syndicalist defeat: only for the inevitable Syndicalist victory.

This was his reality, and every day it became more and more his reality. Until, one day, the guns fired as he was walking past Lilburne House. He looked around, almost ducked - were we under attack? And then the guns boomed again. And a third time. And then the bands began to play. And above the house, he could see it, clear as anyone else, the tattered remnants of the Syndicalist war flag, upside down, being raised slowly beneath the Red Ensign. The Estates-General played its anthem and the guns boomed again, and again. Then the bells began to ring. All over the city, across Senland, as far as North Point and Hirosaki, Axum and Cockaygne. That morning, the Estates-General had attacked Jesselton, had pushed through with heavy losses but quicker than expected progress, had overrun the Syndicalist headquarters in the old building of the Freeholders' Confederation. A Syndicalist flag had been taken there, and an Estates' Navy pilot had burnt the last of his fuel to deliver it to Haversham the same night. Millions watched it on the television and thought the war was already over. Laurence saw it with his own eyes, and realised he had been wrong. Worse than wrong, he had been misled.

He kept his head down in the following weeks and months, as Smyth swept across the Questarian Subcontinent taking city after city and subduing whole provinces before the Foxite faction could even agree its line on the latest developments. Many slunk away. But Fox, to his credit, stayed constant, and continued to warn that the true danger lay in the West. Prekovy, not Syndicalist Questers, was the centre of mass in the world. Laurence mouthed the platitudes, but he no longer believed. He appeared floppy in photo shoots. He barely answered questions in meetings of the General Staff. Eventually, he was approached by strangely nondescript, inoffensive men who slowly pushed him on his true stance. Fox's agents, or Vigilance Committee?

Smyth launched his mutiny, and was dismissed. Fox became the power in the land. The meetings dropped off. Vigilance Committee. But Laurence hadn't lost interest. And after a time, they had convinced him what he needed to do. Then they disappeared. The third time he turned up for a meeting and was met by no one, he knew that he had to act. Next week, there would be another Convocation. Then he would act.

Fox entered. The staff officers applauded. Laurence opened his holster and raised his revolver.
<leis2> Otoh i am also an antiquarian so im legitimately interested in how purple dye was made in sidon
<leis2> (using mollusks)

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