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Prymont

Project Canamo

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News travelled fast in north Argis. Prymont, @Ahrana, and @The Hellenic Rus had shared waters in the Canamo Sea for centuries, and thus shared information. If something happened in Ahrana, The Hellenic Rus and Prymont were the first to know. This allowed quick action before international parties could become involved, usually giving the neighbours the upper hand in reactions. And so, when a distress signal was sent from citizens within The Hellenic Rus announcing that the government had collapsed, it took only minutes for military leaders to spring into action.

Commander's Office | 0747hrs
Fort Kanacky
Verandi

General Hunter S Grey had been the Defence Minister for the United States of Prymont only for five months, but had decades of experience within government and military service in his belt. He'd worked closely with the communist Freedom Party of yesteryear to strengthen the military, but not close enough to be thrown out of any position of power when the National Party won the 2017 elections. Grey had served his country for twenty years, before being given a cushy office job in Fort Kanacky. From there, he took regular trips to New Halsham to meet with government officials and update them on his work. After bugging them for months, they let him in to parliament, where he stretched his legs and began laying the foundations that would build him up to the present day. He took the role of Defence Minister more seriously than Duval did of President, and hurried to the Commander's Office to meet with the Field Marshal of the USP Ground Force immediately when a distress signal from The Hellenic Rus was received.

Field Marshal Theodore Houston had welcomed Grey with open arms. The two were friends from way back when, and often enjoyed a night at the pub when off duty. Houston had heard about the signal and was about to contact Grey on speed dial when he showed up at the office.

"What do you think, then?" Houston asked, scanning international news feeds for any reports of the signal. As of yet, there were none.

"It's an opportunity."

"For?"

"What do you think? That country has gone to sh*t, but God's knows how. With the resources they have, there should've been a mutual agreement to settle this months ago."

"Hunter... you do know the Circle of Death don't make mutual agreements like we do, yes?" 

"Of course, I'm not a child! They're mad men, and something should've been done. I'm not surprised their government fell. Weak bastards."

"Yeah, it's not surprising at all. But what do you propose? What can we do? We only hindered them with the naval blockade. You think Duval would want to help them?"

"He would if he knew what was good for him."

"You're going to threaten the President?" Houston leaned forwards, intrigued yet worried. Grey had always been known as the mysterious type, and while Houston had grown to know him better over the years, he never could crack that crazy mind of his.

"Not threaten... just suggest."

"I still don't know what you're getting at."

"The international community would expect us, their neighbours, to help. But that's a waste of money. Our international aid fund has always been piss poor, and Duval won't change that. He might crumble to international pressure, but he will crumble to us. If we help them, what's in it for us?"

"A good reputation? An ally when they recover?"

"Are you going batty in your old age, Theo? Land! That was what Ahrana got pissed off at us for when we set up the blockade. Apparently, it was international waters. If we get our flag onto the west of the Canamo, they've got nothing to moan about."

"So you think we should expand? Is that what you're saying?"

"First, I think we should cancel the blockade. You get the admiral to call it off. I'll speak to Duval."


To: Premier Field Marshal Gregor Ivanoff of Ahrana
From: President George Duval of the United States of Prymont

Mr Ivanoff,

One month has passed since the United States enacted a naval blockade at the mouth of the Canamo Sea. After the recent news of the collapse of The Hellenic Rus' government, the estimated threat level of the Circle of Death has diminished greatly. While we still believe that members of the Circle of Death are active within The Hellenic Rus, we do not believe that a full naval blockade is necessary from this point onwards. 

In an act of recognition for the new communist government of Ahrana, recognising the Socialist Government, the United States wishes to work with Ahrana to secure our continental neighbourhood and prevent further attacks from the Circle of Death. The United States are willing to return Prymontian ships back to their respective ports on the mainland, allowing Ahranaian ships back into the Canamo Sea. In return, the United States asks that Ahranaian ships heading towards Ahrana report to a dedicated port on Horizon Island, where they will report their contents and be briefly searched for terrorists. This will only be a temporary measure, as the United States also asks that Ahrana allows an executive military board into your great country so that Prymont can react firmly with Ahrana when future terrorist plots arise. 

Communism is woven deeply into the historic roots of the United States of Prymont. The United States was founded by a communist party, and has only recent moved to more capitalistic ideologies. Communism is still fresh in our minds, and we sympathise with the new Socialist Government. I hope, on behalf of the entirety of the United States, that this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship between our country and yours. Together, we can eliminated the Circle of Death and make our neighbourhood safer.

Yours sincerely,

George Duval
President of the United States of Prymont

Edited by Prymont
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To: President George Duval, United States of Prymont

From: Premier Field Marshal Gregor Ivanoff, Socialist Federation of Ahrana

President George Duval,

On behalf of the People of the Federation we great you with open arms of embrace and look forward in cooperation with your Country. With the Blockade of your Navy ending and normal flow of ships entering and leaving the possibility for an attack by the CoD is still relevant. If an operation to end the CoD and their activities are going to be proposed by your Government then the Socialist Federation asks that we may join in on the Operation.

We also thank you and your Country for the recantation of the Socialist Government as the successor state to the Royal Government. We also ask that if you have any Ahranaians living in your Country illegally we ask that they be sent home at the most convenient time for your Government Officials.

In regards to allowing a Military Board of Foreign Nationals, this will have to be sent to the Congress and the other sections of Government to see if the Government would allow it. I would allow it but I must share Authority on this matter as an Elected Head of Government.

 

With gratitude,

Premier Field Marshal Gregor Ivanoff, Socialist Federation of Ahrana

 

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To: Premier Field Marshal Gregor Ivanoff of Ahrana
From: President George Duval of the United States of Prymont

Mr Ivanoff,

Thank you for your response. Working closely with affected nations to ultimately eliminate the threat of the Circle of Death is one of the United States' most prioritised goals, and I can confirm that we would be delighted to receive any assistance from Ahrana in pursuing this. Our end goal is to ensure a safe country for the future generations, and by working together to eradicate the Circle of Death, we are one step closer to this goal.

Concerning Ahranaian nationals, several hundred refugees have been gathered at our southern border over the past week. They are currently being held at a secure location, where background checks are being carried out to ensure the safety of our nation. The United States would be more than happy to work peacefully with Ahrana to return these nationals to their home country in an efficient manner. 

As for the military executive board, we await the decision of your government on this matter. I appreciate that it takes time and there are many factors to consider, and also appreciate your personal willingness to permit this action. In an act of goodwill, a selection of ships are already returning from the naval blockade to allow more Ahranaian ships into the Canamo Sea. Hopefully, this will persuade your government to see the good in our nature and to speed up the process.

Yours sincerely,

George Duval
President of the United States of Prymont

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January 5, 2018

SSO Safe House, Somewhere in the Salonica Administrative Region

 

[Transmission- Encrypted]

<code burst>Callsign Shrike, Callsign Swallow, Callsign Lark-- be advised, HQ has just given green light for full transition into Operation Cold Wind . <code burst>

<code burst> HQ has greenlit the further use of Black Assets, and is currently deploying additional operatives to expand your AO. Follow procedure for reception of reinforcing units, Callsign Kingfisher. <code burst>

<code burst> Aim for full operational capability up to phase 2 of Cold Wind<code burst>

<code burst>Nest Actual, out<code burst>

[Transmission Ends]

OOC: SSO is preparing to consolidate their hold on the region by deploying more assets to reinforce their intelligence and direct action apparatuses. Black Assets are second-party cooperative assets unaffiliated with the SSO. Regular reports with locations of militant ammo dumps, facilities, and other exploitable positions have been relayed preemptively. Certain highways, ports, and airstrips have also been secured. TLDR: the SSO has dug in deep.

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Posted (edited)

Defence Minister's Office | 1220hrs
5 January 2018
New Halsham
Courtmarsh

 

The news of @Iverican agents within The Hellenic Rus upping their game had been gratefully received. Upon arranging communication links between the United States and their ally, General Grey had insisted upon the messages being sent directly to him instead of the President. He was, after all, the Minister of Defence. It made sense for military messages to be directed to him, so he could prioritise the President's workload - or, in Grey's mind, he could surprise Duval and go behind his back. 

Recent Soniskstråle reports showed that The Hellenic Rus had sizeable oil fields that were being exploited before the government collapsed. Resources were a large part of the Prymontian invasion, but Iverica had to be rewarded too. With their economy welcoming KAP manufacturing plants, and their recent purchase of Aamotech units, the two nations had grown ever closer. Allowing them access to the oil would ease the costs of production, boosting KAP shares and, in turn, the United States' economy. Access to the liquid gold was given as a token of thanks, for securing major roads, airstrips, and ports on the western coast. They'd done their part to make landfall more streamlined for Prymont's forces, and would be generously rewarded.

Things were falling in place nicely for the beginning of Phase II. Phase I, which was the gathering of intelligence, had been carried out by Iverican undercover forces since the middle of 2017, and was rounded off with an aerial reconnaissance mission. It was now clear as to when and where Prymontian and @Ahranaian forces could arrive in the fallen country and start the fight. Several cities had been viciously attacked by the Circle of Death, who were now making a resurgence since Hellenic Russian counter-terrorist forces had taken a hit due to the collapse. However, nowadays the CoD made up one of several rogue rebel forces throughout the country, all of which were progressing towards the capital in the hopes of taking ultimate control. Unorganised, weak groups would be no match for the highly trained USP Ground Forces, who would work in collaboration with the Elite Prymontian Defence Force to slice through those that stood in their way. 

Blood would be shed. That was for sure. General Grey was expecting many Prymontian lives to be lost, but it was all in the name of expansion. They'd joined the military knowing full well that war could be initiated at any time, and they'd eagerly fight for their country. They'd fight for a better, freer future, and that would be achieved when Salonica was under the firm grip of Prymont. From there, it would be a case of northern expansion, securing the western strait of the Canamo Sea to control entry into the gulf. This would restore the once lost naval superiority that Prymont historically exercised, rendering the United States as a force to be reckoned with on the Argic continent once again. With the rise of the rogue nation @Derthalen on the horizon, and the uncertainty of Ahrana's future, military superiority was a must. Invading The Hellenic Rus was a step in the right direction.

Under the orders of General Grey, relayed through the respective commanders of the three military departments, soldiers across the nation were placed on standby for deployment. The Air Force would strike first, eliminating coastal threats, allowing clear access for the Navy to deploy Ground Force troops who would do the grunt work. Escorted by the Air Force, the men on the ground would work their way towards the capital, eliminating rogue groups and planting the seeds of basic infrastructure in the cities along the way. Once at the capital, they'd eradicate sympathisers of the former government and implement their own politicians, providing aid to the ill and needy, and making casual comments on how Prymont were the saviours of the day. Internationally, it would be made clear that this was simply humanitarian work, and if the Ivericans were discovered, they were helping too. Ahranaian forces would be guided from the south, but until Operation Tremor was completed, General Grey was unsure of how much they could be trusted. It would make sense for them to provide relief to their neighbours too, and so that cover would also be provided if necessary.

Another email then popped up on the general's screen - this one was from Ahranaian officials, informing him that their squadrons had landed by Lac Venége. Operation Tremor was well underway. He called through for his secretary, whose head appeared by the door.

"Get in touch with Duval. Tell him we're ready."

Edited by Prymont
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Military Port Canastota | 0714hrs
8th January 2018
Canastota
Ostport

 

Describing the past forty eight hours as 'chaotic' would be an understatement at the least. If you could take chaos, program it with weird alien tech from the @Sunset Sea Islands, pump it full of drugs from the finest @Variotan nightclubs, and smash it to pieces with a KAP R2, you still wouldn't come close to describing how crazy the military port at Canastota had been lately. The call from General Grey, disguised as President Duval, had come at dusk on the 5th of January. The reality of the situation was only realised the following day, and all hell broke loose.

The United States of Prymont as an entity hadn't ever invaded another country. Before the merge, Ostport had exercised a strong navy, and Aelmount had a considerable air force for what was a small country. North Prymont relied on its mountains for geographical protection, while the Prymont Republic simply struggled. Battle and hardship was known to all four territories, but united as one, it was a thick, impenetrable fog. Nobody would know whether the invasion into The Hellenic Rus would be successful, as the three forces hadn't been utilised in such a way yet. While the United States only wanted a small part of the country, it was a monumental undertaking.

When the call had been received in Canastota, everyone sprang into action. The FE002 Soniskstråle was sent on another flight to test the IFF codes provided by @Iverica's insiders, allowing Prymontian jets freedom within The Hellenic Rus' airspace. Upon the jet's return only half an hour later, the codes were confirmed to be legitimate. Aerial imagery showed that Sarov Resistance forces were converging at Port Sarov, the cleared port of destination for the United States' ships. The USS Defender, the Navy's pride and joy aircraft carried, recently returned from the Canamo blockade, would lead the way. Thirty Aamotech Sveverstråles, known to the Air Force simply as 'VTOL F-As', were loaded onto the majestic ship, fully armed with the latest in air-to-surface missiles. They would operate from Port Sarov, which would act as a base of operations while troops made their way to Salonica. The Sveverstråles were to be accompanied by Aeromax F-I attack helicopters, providing close air support to ground forces in order to slash their way through rogue opponents. 

Away from the shore, Stinger F-Gs were loaded up with an armada of supplies, ranging from medicine and clothing to ammunition and anti-Hellenic Russian propaganda. Tornados, Blackbombs, and Sparrows were readied and placed on standby for further air-to-surface attacks, playing a support role to the Sveverstråle. The best soldiers from barracks across the country were selected and sent straight to Canastota, their commanders providing them with mission briefings for the journey. They would arrive at Port Sarov either by air or on transport and landing ships, and would begin rebuilding the lost infrastructure in the port. Port Sarov, currently used by the Sarov Resistance as a headquarters, would become the main trading port of the soon-to-be Prymontian Rus. Its facilities had been largely preserved by the Sarov fighters, who were quick to sweep the area and secure transport routes. All that would be required was updating the technology, rebuilding the few destroyed or damaged structures, and supporting the public.

Soldiers from all three departments at Canastota were briefed on how to deal with the public. There were to be minimal offensive actions against them. Prymont were the good guys here, swooping in to save the day, provide humanitarian aid, offer crops and fertile soil for the farmers, and rebuild the infrastructure. They were eradicating the evil of the Circle of Death, who had brought on the demise of the government, and were introducing Hellenic Russians to the new walks of life. Peace loving, freedom spreading Prymontians would show them how to truly live, providing a safe haven and countless opportunities to explore and enjoy the world. The Hellenic Rus' former government was corrupt, evil, and only cared for themselves. The new government that Prymont would encourage would be the complete opposite. It was natural that Prymontians would find their way on the other side of the Canamo Sea over the past few hundred years, and as such, these past nationals would especially be targeted. You can come back home now - or, home is coming back to you

International press were informed that this was purely a peacekeeping and humanitarian mission, with the USS Defender being fully loaded with necessities for basic human survival. Prymont were funding international aid for the first time since the creation of the United States - this was a landmark historic event. Meanwhile, Iverican forces already within The Hellenic Rus were told to just hold on tight; help would arrive soon. @Ahranaian forces would be advised to move towards the southern border, ready to push to Salonica and squeeze the city from beneath - a favour for Prymont helping in the current Operation Tremor. 

In total, four thousand Prymontian militants would be arriving in The Hellenic Rus very soon. It would only be a matter of time before both sides of the Canamo were blue.


OOC: You can check out the aircraft names I referenced here

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Posted (edited)

January 9, 2018- 0301 HRT

Highway N5, Convoy to Sarov

 

"Snowman 2, this is Actual. Ears out for new orders."

"Actual, this is 2. Send it."

"Snowman 2, Field Command has called in ordering that your platoon break off from this formation's current heading. Standby..."

"Roger so far, Actual..."

"Snowman 2, further, your platoon will break from the formation at a junction 2 clicks ahead and maintain a heading west along the N55 merger to Point on Grid Uniform-Juliet-750-520."

"I repeat, that is Point Uniform Juliet-750-520. Once at the Nav-point, conduct recce of surrounding structures until contact with Sarov Unit, callsign Pavlov. FieldCom will expect you on the horn once objective is complete. How Copy?"

"Snowman 2 copies. WILCO"

...

"Snowman 2, give me a full readback"

"f*ck."

"Say again, 2?"

"Disregard, Actual. Snowman 2 to break of at junction-"


0512 HRT

Valkka Mountain Foothills, 30 km West of Salonica

 

They found a man from Pavlov unit holed up in one of the buildings close to the Nav Point. He was half-conscious from blood loss and mumbling incoherently.

When they established comms with Field Command, they had been instructed to debrief him with express concern regarding the whereabouts of his company sized unit and the cargo they were supposed to be carrying.

When he finally came to, the details revealed did not bode well for the SO/AR unit.

Pavlov had been decimated in an ambush. There was now 5 metric tons of gold bullion at large.

Orders from command had been terse and clear: Find that bullion. Find it, before anyone else in the wasteland that was Hellenic Rus can put their grubby little mitts on it.


0515 HRT

Field Command Salonica

 

The masked man gripped the satphone tightly in his fist.

Pavlov, one of the best trained and most disciplined units was wiped out, their cargo at large. He knew it was a risk trusting the Sarov with a mission as hot as that. His orders from Corregidor were to avoid implicating the PMC-disguised SO/AR as much as possible, but now it became necessary. The Sarov couldn't fix this. That gold had to be found.

He let a long breath out and turned towards the map on his desk. His eyes fell on the Valkkan mountain range. It was up to SO/AR now to secure 210 Million standard units worth of metal previously kept by none other than the Bank of Salonica.

His eyes scanned northward on the map. At least there was some good news. Last night, the Sarov reported that the last 5 of the oil fields in the Point Kanamoi had been occupied. The local governments had promptly declared the legitimacy of the occupation after aid and protection were offered without the usual extortion tithes the other militants would often collect.

He let that thought satisfy him as he collected his sidearm and donned his plate-carrier. It was time to meet with some @Prymontian arrivals.


OOC Recap: The SO/AR are moving south to rendevouz with the USP forces. There's some trouble brewing with missing Gold. Sarov has occupied the majority of the oil field concentrations around that southern lip point in the Bay of Rus.

Edited by Iverica
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Port Sarov | 0656hrs
9th January 2018
Port Sarov
The Hellenic Rus

 

The USS Defender, escorted by a handful of Corvettes and transport ships, had docked mere moments ago at Port Sarov. Prymontian forces had already begun unloading the ship's cargo, bundling wooden crates into the backs of all-terrain vehicles. Lysstråles guarded the skies above, soaring over at low altitudes to serve a constant reminder of security. Back on the aircraft carrier, Sveverstråles were preparing for takeoff to join their aerial brothers. Currently, they were serving the purpose of securing local skies and eliminating any nearby threats. In the following days they would be used to take out opposing forces with ease, streamlining the trip to Salonica.

Port Sarov was a bustling hive of activity, which was all managed inside a large makeshift marquee set up by USP forces. Inside was Colonel Trym Nilsen, the longstanding commander of the 12th Infantry Brigade. Colonel Nilsen would be responsible for three hundred soldiers as they led the way towards the capital, paving the way for lower brigades who would establish infrastructure and take care of minor threats. His improvised office, a thin metal desk with a stiff chair surrounded by thin tarpaulin, was the head of operations. Colonel Nilsen was busying himself with the logistical side of proceedings - stock had to be taken off the ships, accounted for, and then delegated to groups for transportation. Usually this task would be given to a lower officer who had nothing better to do, but the colonel was slim on spare men. President Duval had been reluctant from the get-go to provide soldiers, and General Grey couldn't fully betray the trust of the hand that fed. Limited resources were available.

The atmosphere was tense within the tent. The entire land operation was being run on a tight budget, which wasn't helped when just metres away, the cocky naval boys were flaunting their ultramodern equipment. Meanwhile, Colonel Nilsen could only arm his men with second-hand rifles from the likes of Varinco (The Proper Choice); tactical gear was pulled straight from 2003, and any new equipment was quickly swiped up by the higher brigades. The Ground Force had always been given a narrow margin to operate within, which had been stretched to near breaking point in recent years. When Nilsen heard that he was being required to send troops to The Hellenic Rus, he'd thought the world had gone mad.

In a mad world, tough choices had to be made. With only three hundred men, those choices were made even tougher. Despite the prior assistance from the Sarov Resistance forces, the route to Salonica would not be a simple Sunday drive. Nilsen estimated that, with rest stops at major cities and landmarks, Prymontian troops would arrive comfortably at Salonica within two weeks. With whispered rumours of missing gold bullion floating around the camp, the ETA could be stretched out to a month. The truth was, Nilsen had no idea what he was getting in to. The Hellenic Russians had never been a simple bunch of people, and their territory had been carelessly ravaged in the apocalyptic-like times that followed the government's collapse. With civilised countries, it was relatively easy to predict what would happen and where. In the Canamo region, that was not the case.

Outside, Prymontian forces were trying their best to ignore the slightly intoxicated Sarov Resistance boys and get on with their jobs. There were thousands of Sarov fighters, who had swarmed the port upon Prymont's arrival with offers of help, liquor, and the odd woman. They'd done a good job in carrying out most of the grunt work and securing the lands within The Hellenic Rus, but the 12th Infantry Brigade couldn't help but notice that they weren't exactly... professional. By Nilsen's predictions, the tour could advance by mid-afternoon. The soldiers unpacking the ships hoped that it was sooner.

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January 16, 2018

Valkka Mountains 

 

The sun was out, there partially obscured by some intermittent cloud. Not that it made a difference, being ball-shrivelling cold even at the halfway point of the Velukha peak, nearly 4,000 metres above sea level.

Of course, 4,000 was looking a lot like 10,000 for the SO/AR  man, who hung from an ice sheet, suspended only by a pair of Ice Axes and a cable bolted in some 10 metres below.

His fireteam and the rest of the section followed close behind, humping the ice with every effort of carefully placed crampon (climbing spur for digging into the ice) and Ice Axe, carefully testing their next placement for any loose ice or snow shelves with light taps.

--

"Okay... Lluc, that's a sack of merde l'toro. You did not climb 4 kloms to the peak of some Mount Everlay-like thing to slit throats and defuse a nuclear warhead with a banana."

"Oh but we did", said Lluc, who sat with his feet propped up on the bar, smoking a fat Argonese cigar.

"...well at least without the nuke and Cavendish part", he said thoughtfully. The previous speaker, a Fuersas Reconomiento Marine, made a face and took another gulp of rum.

"Oh this merde is totes my-goates from a video game", said the something-teen Airborne try-hard to their right. "I remember playing this in Company of Duty, it was like- the coolest stuff, you play this Burlingtonian SASY operator named Shampoo-"

"Are you going to let me finish the story or what?", interrupted Lluc, exhaling a particularly large bloom of smoke.

"Puté, only if you keep buying 'migo", said the Marine, as he flipped his empty glass upside down on the bar.

"Okay, so as I was saying..."

--

...One of the fireteam almost ate the yellow snow when he didn't check carefully enough, his axe bit into a relatively solid snow shelf--but when he shifted his weight... the whole section gave in a shower of snow and frost as fine as baker's sugar.

He'd have fallen to his death, his bolt had been loosened by the amount of stuff that had come down on it.

The man would have splattered thousands of metres below had it not been for the quick thinking of the team leader.

Luckily, the handsome and macho Sargento Lluc D'Ayala had swung over to catch the guy--grabbing him by the outstretched hand just in time. But the brave and dashing Sargento D'Ayala was now hanging by one Ice Axe, and the blade was loosening quickl-

--

"OKAY! Cut that toro out. Just tell us what you were doing there."

Lluc shrugged, "fine, if you Lamecharcos don't want to hear a perfectly riveting tale likely to get me laid tonight--Lluc stopped to wink at the scantily-clad ladies in the other table who had been pretending not to listen in--then I'll tell you what we were there for."

He dropped his feet from the bar to lean in close to the two other servicemen.

"I merde you not when I say this. It was half. a dozen. tons. of Russkie. Gold. Bullion.", he whispered while at the same time, punctuating every word with a jab from the glowing head of his cigar.

"Okay. Puté io, I'm not hearing any more of this mer. Go home Lluc, you're drunk as a skunk", said the FUERECO Marine, grabbing his jacket and keys.

"Come on, kid", he said, gesturing to the young para-to-be. "Wouldn't want to get caught by any MPs--you'nt legal yet."

"Are you sure you're good to drive? You've had like 11 rums", said the boy.

"I'll eat some crayons in the car... also, I never drive sober"

"You're missing a good story!", shouted Lluc as the pair sauntered out the door.

The Marine gave a lazy wave, followed by the very confused other.

Lluc sighed and sipped his rum. He spun on his stool, turning to the two ladies in the nearby table.

"So have I mentioned the time I saved Dina Diva from the Derthaler Inquisition? Of course, it wasn't easy, nobody ever expects..."

--

As Lluc indulged the two lady's desire over exaggerated testosterone-injected tales of manly bravado and daring trysts of the Special Operator kind, the bartender--silent all this time--but steadily pouring on Lluc's tab, allowed himself a small grin. Afterall, he did have bills to pay. Whether he really did scale an ice sheet to recover half a dozen tons of Russian gold in the middle of a snowstorm and extracting through a harrowing snowmobile chase into a waiting chopper was anybody's guess. When the bar emptied later in the night, he would keep listening. So long as Lluc payed, he would pour and nod... pour and nod.


In reality, the operation had gone down in a manner similar to the drunken boasts of one Cabo Lluc D'Ayala of the SO/AR section tasked with the survey. Unfortunately, records state that the Cabo had been out of action by a terrible case of dysentery from eating some off-colour ethnic delicacy.

The units tasked with the retrieval did have to climb a mountain, but it was only about 3,000 metres in height, and only had to climb with ice axe for roughly 20 metres during the op. Then after, the survey unit did not engage the insurgent facility, which was, by the way--on an adjacent mesa within its cave network. The team had in fact only provided mapping and topographical analysis for viable ingress and egress. They did not engage in the ensuing combat as the distance (well over 3,682 metres) far surpassed that of their small arms loadout. The team simply provided laser designation for an airstrike or two before promptly packing up for the long trek down...

A unit deployed via rotor had been sent in to extract the objective, and luckily enjoyed the bulk of brownie points, receiving in no small order, some expedited journey through the ranks from a pleased CO's recommendation.

But of course, these records are sealed in some dusty safe beneath Corregidor High Command--and maybe... just maybe--don't hold the full picture of the action that day in the Valkkan Mountains.

Edited by Iverica
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Highway E8 | 1809hrs
11th January 2018
Langepas
The Hellenic Rus

 

The winters in north Argis were often bitterly cold, and this one was no different. One would be given odd looks if they were to describe blizzards as calm, but that was exactly what this one was. While the windscreen wipers on the trucks worked overtime to clear the snow, the outside world was eerily quiet. The usual noises of the Hellenic Russian countryside were now blanketed by the thick layer of crisp powder, providing a tranquil but dangerous trip along a deserted highway. The subzero temperatures allowed the snow to settle, making the edge of the road impossible to tell apart from the ditch at the side. As a safety precaution, the convoy was forced to travel at a meagre 40 miles per hour.

As the flurry continued to fall, so did the mood in the back of one of the trucks. The thin tarpaulin hastily thrown over the otherwise exposed rear offered no protection against the harsh, numbing weather, the soldiers huddled together in a pathetic attempt to keep warm. Their cheeks were flushed, their hands blue, but their spirits remained... low. They'd been promised the chance to expand the motherland and exercise their true force, but so far, they'd set up a few tents in the rain at some docks and sat in the back of a van with a rickety suspension. Every bump, every pothole, exacerbated the pain in their backs, which was only a problem because of the metal benches they were sat on. While Prymont's Air Force and Navy soared into the future, the Ground Forces were left in the 1980s.

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One man offered around the last of his packet of Jack Player Specials, a shaking hand making it incredibly hard to accept his offering. Once the cigarettes had been taken, they were placed between chattering teeth and icy blue lips, lit by a lighter that often submitted to the wind. Even the small pleasures of life couldn't be enjoyed easily. Their smoke filled the crisp air, easing their minds as they ploughed on. The convoy had been travelling for two days straight now, switching drivers now and then to maintain a constant trajectory. The soldiers in the back had lost track of time. All they had to go by were the empty cigarette packets that littered the floor. 

 

Up ahead, a small Lysstråle pack were closing in on a target. Aerial imagery from the Soniskstråle runs had shown that an unidentified band of rogues were transporting what was presumed to be a @Variotan Varinco missile. Over the past twenty four hours, it had been tracked to the coastline of the Gulf of Rus, presumably to be aimed towards the United States' shoreline. Intelligence had hinted towards the possibility that they were remnants of the Circle of Death, and while there was no solid proof, it was better to be safe than sorry. If that wasn't the case, it would be a simple propaganda task of informing the general public that the Hellenic Russian military had done it. After all, they were to be the perfect scapegoats for any future 'incidents'. 

Three jets, each loaded with four guided missiles, now rocketed above the target. Only one would carry out the deed - the remaining two were an insurance policy, or spectators to the grand event. 

"Alpha Seven, this is Lima Sierra One. Target has been located. Requesting permission to proceed with orders."

"Lima Sierra One, this is Alpha Seven. Permission to proceed with orders granted. Repeat, permission granted."

"Copy that Alpha Seven." 

With the click of a button, two missiles were pointed downwards and fired up. They screamed towards the target, the group of eight rogues standing no chance. The on-board night vision camera showed a cloud of smoke and debris encompassing the site. 

"Alpha Seven, this is Lima Sierra One. Target has been destroyed. Returning to Defender."

 


Luftjok Castle | 2215hrs
11th January 2018

Lake Luftjok
Wildenesse

 

Deep within the ancient walls of Luftjok Castle resided Prymont's most evil. Currently, he was making his way through the cold stone corridors, wandering the maze that led to his private quarters. He was leaving a banquet that would make medieval royals jealous, to enjoy the rest of the night with finely selected mistresses. Some would find it revolting that he was accompanied by his wife, but she had long accepted it as part of their marriage. She was too rich to care, anyway.

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The latest kPhone, plated in 24 carat gold, vibrated from within his pocket, emitting a jolly jingle. With a disgruntled groan the man reached inside, bringing the phone to his ear.

"..."

"Hello? Varg?"

"Who's speaking?"

"It's Hunter."

"... The name means nothing to me."

"Hunter Grey. Defence Minister." Varg let out another groan, this one deeper and longer. How had a government minister got hold of his phone number?

"I have a proposition for you. Can you meet me tomorrow in New Halsham? I want to make you a very rich man."

"I'm already rich."

"I'll make you a powerful man."

"I'm already powerful."

"... Then I can make you the President." Varg paused mid-stride, his brow furrowed in confusion. 

"You come to me. Wahl's Coffee Shop. Canastota. Tomorrow, noon."

The line went dead.

 

 

 

Edited by Prymont
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Wahl's Coffee Shop | 1159hrs
12th January 2018
Canastota
Ostport

 

Hunter Grey stomped his feet on the door mat as he entered Wahl's Coffee Shop, the snow falling from his boots. He'd only walked two metres from the government vehicle that dropped him off outside the café, but the snow was so heavy it was like walking for miles in Antargis. The old man rubbed his hands together, embracing the comforting warmth of the high-end coffee shop. It was immediately obvious why Varg had picked here over anywhere else - it was expensive. 

Light classical music played softly from hidden speakers, enhancing the upper class atmosphere. Grey approached the counter at the side of the store, delicately removing his leather gloves as his eyes darted over the variety of cakes and sweet treats in the glass cabinet. A spirited young waitress greeted him, her apron oddly pristine for a food environment. 

"Ah... a cappuccino. Medium."

"And where are you sitting today, sir?"

"I'll wait here."

Hunter stood to the side of the counter as the barista worked her magic. Vintage coffee machines let out high pressure steam, which was quickly whisked away by a tricky air ventilation system. As he waited, Grey took the time to observe his surroundings, keeping an eye out for a certain flamboyant someone. He spotted his target soon enough; an ageing man, hidden behind a broadsheet newspaper, was sat in the corner of the bar. Grey craned his neck slightly, trying to peer around the telegraph that encapsulated the mobster. Luxurious leather evening shoes flowed freely onto white chinos, with a light pink sweater completing a gentle yet rich look. Deep brown eyes were hidden behind designer sunglasses, his salt and pepper hair slicked back with copious amounts of gel. This was Varg Alme.

The barista interrupted Hunter's observation, handing him his coffee. Money was handed over, with the waitress keeping a generous tip, and Grey strode over. As he took a seat, Varg lowered the papers before him, making a dramatic show of flicking his wrist, peering down his nose at his watch, and scoffing at the Defence Minister's tardiness.

"You're late."

"I had to get my coffee."

"Arrive earlier." The minister took a deep breath, biting his tongue to prevent him from saying anything unsavoury. While he held an official government position, Varg was much more powerful than him. Upsetting this man would never end well - as had been seen recently in the news, with the deaths of three teenagers for drug debt owed to the Isbrytere.

"Tell me then, Hunter. Why am I here?"

"I'd prefer if we could discuss this somewhere more private."

"People here know better than to talk. You have my attention. Use it."

Hunter reached into his briefcase, withdrawing a plain yellow folder and sliding it across the table. "I won't say much here, but that file has everything you need to know. I trust you're aware of our... activities, in The Hellenic Rus?"

"Humanitarian aid? From Prymont? Who are you trying to kid?"

"It's a good diplomatic cover. We can't exactly go out there and say we're invading a broken country, can we?"

"What has this got to do with me? Is Duval resigning?" 

"Not exactly... he doesn't know the plan yet." Grey took another sip of his coffee, glancing up at his guest as he awaited an interruption. Nothing came. "Well, our Ground Forces are severely underfunded, and we're asking a lot from them. It'll be hard for international radar to ignore our aerial activity in the region. Questions will be asked, flimsy answers will be given. We need someone to step up when Duval takes the fall."

"You're scapegoating him. Does he know about this?"

"Naturally, no. He doesn't particularly approve of the invasion either. You see, Duval is weak. You can bend him whatever way you want, and there's barely any resistance. The negative stigma that he sees of invading The Hellenic Rus is quickly surpassed by the positive consequences of helping to restructure a broken country."

"You take me for a very stupid man, Hunter. Cut to the chase."

The Defence Minister shifted uneasily in his seat, looking around to make sure they weren't being listened in on. The cloaked figure leaned forwards, lowering his voice to barely a whisper. "We can't invade a country with no backlash. There are two million people that we'll be taking in as our own. It's an offensive move, and it won't be received well in the international community. When threats are made, Duval will take the fall. I'm offering you the opportunity to replace him. Think of your image - the people will love you when they find out you're the man helping to repair The Hellenic Rus! Plus, you have the leadership experience. Just give me the chance to get you involved politically, and we can make it happen."

"Why me? What do you get from this?"

"I can't be President. I like what I'm doing now. I don't trust anyone else in this job. But you... we can work together, Varg. You live in that bloody castle because you're scared of being caught. When you're running the country, nobody can catch you. You have the brains, I have the manpower. We can make Prymont great again."

Edited by Prymont
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Town Square | 0840hrs
15th January 2018
Pokrovsk
The Hellenic Rus

 

The 12th Infantry Brigade had arrived at Pokrovsk at dawn, and were immediately overwhelmed by the struggling citizens wanting food, shelter, and medicine. As the trucks rolled up in the town square, thousands of diseased, malnourished Hellenic Russians mobbed the convoy, pushing and shoving to get to the front so they could get a handful of bread and a cardigan. Quickly, the Ground Forces realised that they were severely unprepared and called for the Air Force to drop extra supply packages a few miles down the road so they could be picked up and distributed. The rush had started almost two hours earlier, and was showing no signs of dying down.

It was fair to say that every single citizen within these borders had been massively let down by their government. When the Circle of Death firebombed the governmental buildings in Salonica, politicians and public servants fled to central Argis, seeking shelter and safety in @Ahrana, @Girkmand, @The Eurofuhrer and @Greater Serbia. They left little behind, and that was quickly gobbled up by the terrorists. What was left for the people was crumbs; barely enough to last the rest of the day. Imports were cut off by the naval blockade established by the USP Navy, and air and ground cargo refused to enter an unstable country. Thus, the people had turned to primitive times, fighting for homegrown foodstuffs and trying to establish their own hierarchies (which were doomed to fail from the beginning). The USP aid was the first external contact they'd had in weeks, and while they were extremely grateful for the help, they didn't go about showing it in the best way.

People fought in the crowds to get closer to the trucks. Paramedics were unable to reach the fallen as the masses couldn't be penetrated. The lives of some were ended by those that had stronger bodies and more willpower to surge to the front and continue living. When the trucks inevitably ran out of supplies, the crowd turned on their helpers. Vehicles were overturned, Molotov cocktails were launched, and punches were thrown. Gunshots fired into the air in an attempt to disperse the crowds went unnoticed. Despite Colonel Nilsen's orders to remain peaceful, the guns turned horizontal and were fired directly into the horde. Soon enough, there were more people fallen than standing, and the few that remained quickly left when the tanks finally arrived. 

What was meant to be a humanitarian aid mission had quickly dissolved into a war crime. 

The first thought that crossed Colonel Nilsen's mind was where to hide the bodies.

Mass graves were quickly dug out on the edges of the town. Hundreds, most likely thousands of bodies were thrown into the backs of trucks and dumped into the dirt, hiding the cruel reality of what had happened. In the media at home, it was reported that the military had stumbled upon thousands of dead bodies, thought to be a result of disease and starvation, and they were humanely disposed of. Soldiers were blackmailed into keeping their lips tightly shut - if President Duval caught wind of what'd really gone down, he'd call the operation off entirely. He already disapproved of what his men were doing here. Learning the reality of what they were doing would send him into madness.

By mid-afternoon, the dead were taken care of and reinforcements had arrived. The town square was restructured into a hub of operations, from which Pokrovsk would be rebuilt. Food, water, building materials, clothing and medicinal supplies would now arrive regularly, and would be fairly and equally handed out by the USP soldiers. Tanks would escort troops around the town, patrolling the area for misconduct and swiftly rectifying it. Locals would speak in their mother-tongue around their 'saviours', and developed code names to warn others of when they were coming. They hid in the shadows, squirming in fear at the mere sight of the Prymontian military uniform. Their day had turned from a blessing to a massacre, and the people wouldn't quickly forget that.

But so what? Who cared if their brothers, sisters, parents and children had been wrongly slaughtered by trigger-happy brutes? They were being looked after now. Their homes were being rebuilt. Routine and normality was returning to their lives. Prymont had saved the day.

Edited by Prymont
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Varg Alme was always destined for great things, even if they were on the wrong side of the law. Growing up in the Prymont Republic in the late 60s and early 70s, a little Varg grew a granite-like shell. He was impenetrable from a young age, always casting steely glances and managing backroom deals. Little is known about his formative years, other than in school, he ran a very successful snack business during lunchtimes that pocketed him roughly ß30,000 in his senior year, his food empire spanning over almost one hundred schools across the state. He opted out of further and higher education, instead pursuing an education of different sorts - of how to survive dark alleyway stabbings, and how to broker multi-million Prynd deals with the slimiest of drug dealers. By his early twenties, even the @Variotan dealers feared him.

Come 1977, and Varg was introduced to the Menchaca family of @Iverica. It was during a standard business trip to Manille, one that would lay out the plan for somewhat legal car imports. The Menchaca family were well known in the trade world, and had learned many useful but questionable ways to avoid tax and get what you wanted on the cheap. Varg quickly came to learn that they'd be useful assets, especially in such an opportunistic country as Iverica. Establishing strong ties with them would be vital to lining his pockets with green for many years to come. And so, when the opportunity arose to integrate into their family and inherit their wealth, the sly Prymontian didn't hesitate.

Even if it did mean marrying a thirteen year old.

Blanca Menchaca was the only child in the family, thanks to her father's comically low sperm count, which had been publicly exposed when his warehouse was raided the year prior and sensitive documents were sold to tabloids for extortionate amounts. The girl had been mollycoddled her entire life, kept safe in the guarded compound that the Menchacas resided in, nestled deep within the lush Iverican countryside. Her childhood was spent with a tutor, learning with ease what those twice her age would struggle with. To say that Blanca was gifted would be a criminal understatement - but, in short, she knew her sh*t. However, she did grow up a daddy's girl, and would do whatever he said. If that meant marrying a charming Prymontian with lots and lots of money, who was she to protest?

Her husband would quickly learn that she wasn't to be manipulated. In turn, she quickly learned that there was more to Varg than met the eye, and the two grew very close organically. Upon his return to Prymont with a young teen latched to his side, the press started asking questions. One brave reporter dared to venture to the Alme residence, in the hopes of spying on the inhabitants and snapping a few exclusive photographs for his bosses. The questions quickly stopped when the reporter went missing, and a few days later, body parts were found in rivers across the country. It was rumoured that the journalist's head was delivered to the chief editor of the press organisation on a silver platter, although this hasn't been confirmed. 
As Varg and Blanca grew ever closer, naturally she fell pregnant at fifteen. When Blanca was seen in public with an obvious baby bump, politicians were pressed to intervene and accuse Alme of the unspeakable. Politicians are weak folk however, and were quickly bent any which way Varg wanted when he flashed some cash before their eyes. Their first child arrived nine months later, a baby girl in perfect health, born to two very proud parents. A brother followed a couple of years later, and then another daughter, before the couple decided to refocus on their business.

Varg's family tree grew with his crime empire. The Isbrytere earned their name in the mid-1980s, with the higher-ups wanting to take credit for their best work when it was reported in the media. The name also offered organisation and structure, allowing the money to flow even faster, and the whip to crack even harder when people stepped out of line. If there was one thing that Varg was good at, it was punishment. Rats that ran to the press were quickly poisoned of, sometimes with rat poison, other times by a very sad, inconvenient car crash which oddly left the victim with a body full of holes shaped just like bullets. Those that followed Alme's every word were subsequently rewarded, often receiving yachts and flashy watches. 

The late 80s were a breeze for Varg and Blanca. While he dealt more with the deals and transportation, she focused on human resources. It was surprising how easily men would do as you said when you flashed a bit of skin and fluttered your eyelashes. Despite their romantic interests, Varg and Blanca both understood that business came first, and acted accordingly. Thus, their empire grew exponentially, covering from the far reaches of @Orioni and @Adaptus to troubled socialists closer to home, such as @Girkmand and @Greater Serbia. However, their reign of terror over Prymont wouldn't last forever. Upon the formation of the United States in 1995, the government finally cracked down on the Isbrytere, targeting them directly where it hurt - right at the helm. Arrest warrants were issued for Varg and Blanca Alme, with their children being offered immunity if they handed them in. They were raised better than that, undoubtedly, but that didn't stop their parents from fleeing to the safety of @St Francoisbourg, who's laws prevented those residing within their borders from being deported, even if they were the most vile, filthy scum on the entire planet. 

With them, they took their newborn child, a certain Emrik Alme. Born in 1993, Emrik was raised in the lap of luxury, having free roam of a penthouse suite in Saint Preux. They weren't exactly sure why, but Varg and Blanca felt compelled to teach Emrik everything they knew and more, moulding him into a life which would see him one day replace them at the top of Prymont's most elite. And although they weren't at home to oversee their orders, his parents would run the family business from the comfort of St Francoisburg, thanks to the internet and mobile phones. It was probably because of his upbringing in the home of the rich and tax-free that Emrik was better cut out for running the shop, while his older siblings would get stuck into the nitty gritty and get their hands dirty. 

Growing up with money meant that, while he was sensible with his spending, Emrik knew how to have fun. It would be many more years before he would be asked to settle down and help run the Isbrytere, so he spent his teenage years as any teen would want - surrounding himself with fast cars, hot women and pure cocaine. While he was out there enjoying himself, Varg and Blanca returned to Prymont on the low down. Purchasing an ancient castle in the middle of nowhere helped them to remain secluded and alone, running their operations in peace. The eradication of communism only boosted their profits, and with more money than they knew what to do with, they were set for life.

A spanner was thrown in the works in 2018, when a certain Defence Minister approached Varg with a ludicrous offer. His engineered invasion of The Hellenic Rus was almost designed to go wrong, leaving President Duval as the perfect scapegoat. General Grey had always thought of Duval as being slow, boring, and generally a crappy leader. General Grey also knew that Varg Alme was absolutely f*cking loaded, and his eyes lit up when he realised that, if he played his cards right, he could dip his hands into that sweet, sticky pot of Alme gold. 

Varg saw this as an opportunity. As President, every last Prymontian would be in the palm of his hand - officially this time. It was what he'd always wanted! It was a chance to cement the Isbrytere into the backbone of the United States, weaving them into the very fabric that ran the country. And, as President, who could stop him? Times were changing for the Alme family. Varg would let Grey do what he needed to do, implementing him as a politician and setting him up to eventually replace Duval. In turn, he'd do the same for his son - Emrik was called back home from a lavish holiday in @Magnaeus to calm him down and set him up to take over from his father. Varg had let him off his leash for too long. The boy had potential, and he needed to utilise it. 

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Kedrovy | 0555hrs
21st January 2018
6 miles east of Salonica
The Hellenic Rus

 

"Yes Colonel, the intel provided from the @Iverica SO/AR units match up with our own aerial reconnaissance imagery. Highway E2 into Salonica is clear for penetration."

"And the rest of the city?"

"Right now, that's unclear. We're awaiting on the Ivericans to rendezvous with us for further information before proceeding with planning. The only thing we're certain on is the east entrance."

"So we wait for them. How long until they arrive?"

"Last we heard, they were fifteen minutes away. They're travelling by land, so I believe they're taking their time to avoid any IEDs."

"Good. Get the camp ready for them." Colonel Nilsen sent the soldier on his way, quickly returning to the papers on his desk. The brigade had made good progress since arriving at Port Sarov, and had spread aid and safety across several major towns along the way. With funding from the government, the people of The Hellenic Rus were now regularly receiving food and medicine. Construction workers had been drafted in to rebuild homes and community centres to reinstate structure and normality, and even nurses and doctors from the United States had been flown over to staff the hospitals. Generally, their Canamo neighbours were welcoming and receptive, and were eager to integrate into the Prymontian way. 

The only issue was Pokrovsk. That had been a complete disaster, but the less said about that the better. The men involved had been disciplined accordingly, but there was no way of telling whether the locals would eventually warm up to the Prymontians after what had happened. At best, it'd be a town with strained relations to the capital. At worst, they'd rise against their assailants and cause more trouble than they were worth. Propaganda would only do so much. Their memories weren't short.

Once arriving at Kedrovy, the last stop before Salonica, the remainder of the supplies had been spent establishing a sizeable camp. This would be used as the HQ for the Salonica takeover, and would be where Elite Prymontian Defence Force soldiers would be landing in a couple of days time. Resistance was to be expected in Salonica, despite the best efforts of the Ivericans, and the standard Ground Forces could only do so much. Such a huge undertaking would require the big guns.

Camp Kedrovy had been established on the outskirts of the town. It was surrounded by a simple wire fence, with barbed wire here and there - they'd quickly realised when arming the fort that they were comically short on defence measures, and had to make do. As such, tanks and cannons were set up around the perimeter, warding off any terrorists and brave citizens. To any regular, educated person, it'd be obvious how desperately underfunded the USPGF were, but thankfully the terrorists who thought sending suicide bombers around the country and subsequently losing members was a good idea were short on brain cells. But, they did have guns and fingers to pull the triggers, and so a defence had to be made.

Air units were slowly moving in from Port Sarov. Their time in the land of napalm, terrorism and general discourse had been easy and slow, but now they were actually required for assistance. A nearby abandoned aerodrome had been secured by Sarov Resistance militia and was being utilised to store the planes until they were needed. For now, they lay in waiting, fuel tanks full and armed to the teeth, ready to unleash all hell on an already slaughtered city. 

 

Captain Moore approached the barrier at the checkpoint, raising his binoculars and peering towards the horizon in search of their inbound western friends. His blue, numbed hands shook violently, the air icy and thin from the constant snowfall which had subsided in the past few hours. He cursed whoever thought it was a good idea to invade in the middle of the worst bloody winter in years. Lowering the binoculars, he joined a guard in the metal shelter of the checkpoint, taking shelter from the biting wind. The guard was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a radio, which probably didn't work due to the weather. He'd spent his time twiddling his thumbs and smoking cigarettes, occasionally looking up for visitors. 

"There are some guys due soon, about ten minutes or so. They're SO/AR. Check their ID and let them in."

"What are they for?"

"They're bringing cheese sandwiches and orange juice."

"Really? SO/AR are bringing that?"

"Ask stupid questions, get stupid answers. They're helping us with Salonica."

"We're actually going ahead with that?"

"Yeah, why wouldn't we?" Moore regarded the man with confusion, wondering why there was such scepticism. Salonica had always been part of the plan.

"Dunno, there was talk of the Defence Minister calling it off because of some... I don't know, someone mentioned some sh*t going down and it might reach Duval."

"No. Everything has been fine. It'll be a piece of cake." His words oozed confidence, but deep within, Moore knew that they were f*cked.

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Cadwell | 1902hrs
24th January 2018
Outskirts of Canastota
United States of Prymont

 

"Archie, I'm just popping out to the shops. I'll be ten minutes!"

"Sure honey, see you soon. Stay safe."

Archie Sharpe watched as his wife exited their three-storey house, his eyes following her into the car and beyond the driveway. Once he was sure she'd gone, he rushed into the guest bedroom, reaching beneath the mattress and pulling out an unopened packet of cigarettes. With trembling hands he flipped open the lid, placing a stick in his mouth and fumbling underneath the mattress again for a lighter. He brushed the curtains aside, opening the thick glass door and stepping out onto the balcony of the room, overlooking a winter wonderland. Thick, sparkling snow had covered the ground, flowing smoothly along the rolling hills that encapsulated Canastota, Prymont's largest city. Cadwell, a rich, gated community on the suburban edges of the city, was Sharpe's home. 

How was he able to afford such a nice permanent residence? By being a Member of Parliament, of course. He'd built up his political career over the years by working in trade unions and buddying up with local politicians, eventually learning the trade and rewarding himself with a position of power and influence. The generous pay check that rolled into his bank monthly kept mortgage payments on time, and also paid for two brand new KAPs, his wife's designer handbag collection, his daughter's three horses, and his secret smoking addiction.

Sharpe was a 'recovering' heavy smoker. In his prime, he was putting away sixty a day. Once his private doctor had strongly suggested that he stop if he wanted to live to fifty, he quit cold turkey and told his wife to leave him if she caught him smoking again. However, being a politician, Sharpe also had no backbone and quickly turned back to his old habits when times got hard. Recent gang activity in Canastota had kept him busy, especially the Isbrytere. They were ruthless, evil monsters, who seemingly tried everything they could to make his life a living hell. Since the recent murder of three teenagers, his email inbox had been full to the brim of angry messages from constituents, demanding that he take action, increase the local policing budget, and do his job better or get lost. 

And so, when the going got tough, Archie decided to soothe his nerves with a refreshing packet of cigarettes. It was a reward for himself, for doing so well so far and being a good MP. He hadn't been doing well at all, and he was consistently rated as one of the worst politicians since the 2017 elections, but he didn't let that stop him from splashing out! Inevitably, his wife would kill him if she caught him puffing away, and so he had to keep it a secret. He'd walk down the street to dispose of his empty packets in public bins, and would visit newsagents in different parts of the city so the store he frequented wouldn't tell his partner. He even smoked on the balcony and sprayed himself with expensive cologne so the smell didn't hang around. Archie had it all figured out.

As he stepped out onto the balcony and lit up his cigarette, he thought he'd heard the back door click open. The rear entrance was externally inaccessible, but he hadn't seen anybody jump over his fence. His hearing was probably going - he made a mental note to book a test the next time he was in the city. It'd be paid for out of the public purse, there was no doubt about that. His money was better spent by his wife or kids on expensive holidays on the other side of the world, not on bloody medical tests. So, he dismissed the sound and inhaled deeply, revelling in the comforting feeling of cancerous smoke. 

But he was right. He had heard the back door open. Downstairs, an unmarked secret agent had been waiting in hiding for almost an hour, seeking the perfect moment to strike. When his back was turned and his mind occupied, the agent struck, almost silently entering the house and creeping upstairs. Thick cream carpets softened any noises he'd make with his feet, allowing him free passage upstairs and into the guest room. Archie had even been so kind as to leave the door open, proving himself as the perfect target. Stupid, simple, and easy. 

His hearing wasn't betraying him at all, and while the carpets removed most of the sound, they still left an inkling as to what was to come. The MP turned in confusion when he heard footsteps behind him, but by then it was far too late. The silenced gun was fired straight into his forehead, the balding man dropping to the ground. Blood quickly pooled around his body, his still burning cigarette falling from his lips. The agent quickly set the scene, moving Sharpe's body with his gloved hands and wrapping his fingers around the gun, indicating a suicide. Just to make sure, the weapon had been earlier marked with his DNA, leaving no trace of something fishy. Once he was satisfied with his work, he vacated the building, an unmarked KAP K3 pulling up outside to pick him up. Archie Sharpe had been murdered before his wife had a chance to return from the shops.

When she did return minutes later to find her husband's still warm body laying motionless in a puddle of sticky blood, her horrifying scream sent shivers down the neighbours' spines. The police were quickly called, but phone lines were being monitored externally. The police had been tipped off by the agent's employers beforehand, and knew that it was a set-up. They'd arrive quickly, take away the body, and officially declare it as a suicide before the hour was over. His wife's balcony was cleaned up, and she was offered free therapy and a healthy pension for early retirement as compensation. If she ever looked like speaking up, she'd be given the same treatment.

Back in the car, the man brought a phone to his ear, a particular number on speed dial.

"General Grey. It is done." 

There was no opportunity for conversation, with the phone line going dead before Grey could even think about thanking the man. Instead, the Defence Minister dialled another number, the call connecting almost immediately.

"Varg! Good news. Sharpe is gone. We have a position for you as MP."

Edited by Prymont
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January 21, 2018

Kedrovy | 0610

 

The column of SO/AR vehicles pulled up after the last checkpoint. Five identical, heavily modified, civilian four-by-fours crunched into the gravel yard.

They were grey, unmarked, and bristling with MG. Shotgun, rear, and passenger doors had .308s sweeping their angles, while the top mounted gun was the imposing figure of Hellenic Russian Kourd 12.7mm. The vehicles sported anti-rocket barding and, upon closer inspection, shaped undercarriages for defeating low-yield IEDs and mines.

To anyone at home, overkill in the extreme. In Hellenic Russia 2018, a family sedan

They came to a squalling halt, their engines spewing diesel into the oppressive cold of the Hellenic Russian morning. 

The platoon-sized unit dismounted, resting their rifles abreast, they cast sweeping glances around at the USPGF camp. They swaggered about the perimeter of the column with their sunglasses and shemaghs pulled up. Raucous, rowdy, but with an air of easy arrogance typical of special forces culture, the SO/AR and other units of the Special Operations Command were known to carry a cultish pride, walking with a strut, chests puffed out. In the field, after weeks of constant paranoia and work, they were thinned down from their usual bulk--every shred of fat lost, replaced with pounds of wiry muscle, grime, and raw hate. They were wound tight, cynical, stiff, and always looking for a fight.

The masked man, also known as callsign "Kingfisher" stepped out of the centre vehicle and inside the tight ring of SO/AR. He brushed some dust off of him and straightened out his plain, grey unmarked uniform.

Snowman outfit's CO, a particularly tall Capitan, dismounted from his own vehicle, falling beside the SSO man. As the pair made for the centre of the camp, he gave an order here and there, warning his band against starting anything inside a Prymontian FOB. 

The Capitan himself, having been in the first drop of Operation Black Snow, mirrored the general appearance of his men, cord-thin and unshaven from 2 weeks of constant raids, ambushes, and firefights, his flecktarn merc-marked BDUs were stained with unidentifiable brown splotches that could be anything from blood to muck. From where Kingfisher was standing, it looked like the man had made some attempt to wash them off with a few splashes of canteen water here and there.

Kingfisher glanced at his watch.

"We're late", he said tersely.

"Ran into some trouble with the fobbits at the checkpoint", said the Capitan, falling into step with Kingfisher as the SSO man was making for the camp's command post.

When he didn't reply, the Capitan took it as a signal to keep talking.

"They kept asking the point guys for cheese sandwiches".

Kingfisher stopped mid-step and just looked at the officer.

The Capitan shrugged.


 

Camp Kedrovy Command Post

 

The pair were received outside the CP by Captain Moore and Colonel Nielsen.

Kingfisher preferred to keep his mask on and typically didn't do leg work like personally delivering intel. His ground assets typically had those covered, but in this case, a personal meeting was called for.

The securing of Hellenic Rus' Eastern and Central provinces would require substantial planning and some long-term coordination with the USPGF (among other branches). Therefore making this interaction necessary despite the security risks.

With his Balaclava off, the wind felt like a scourge on his pale features. The cutting wind and damp atmosphere penetrated the unmarked grey BDUs he wore (as far as anyone was concerned, he was an intra-service liaison officer), almost eliciting a shiver from his nerve-deadened body. A tall, gaunt face with a taught, pallid Narvic complexion lay under the layer of black wool. For an Iverican, his pointed nose, deep-set sockets and straw coloured hair was uncommon--bordering entirely unusual. He owed this to some Narvic ancestry along the line, a quality which in fact, had gotten him selected for fieldwork. Foreign Intelligence tended to avoid looking Iverican whenever possible for obvious reasons.

Capitan Santiago, mission leader and CO of the "Snowman" units, was not nearly as remarkable as the spook who happened to be in charge (at the moment). Two weeks in the field seemed short, but the stress from the constant paranoia of being balls-deep in hostile clay and not to mention the calorie burn from constant firefights, hikes, marches, and the occasional mud and river fording had taken a toll on his once impressive hundredsomething-kilo bulk of muscle. His body had been shredded down to almost half his ordinary weight. The common idea that all spec op badasses were chiselled and massive 24/7 was only half true, weeks in the field put most operators down to bean-pole lean soaking wet--and a quarter of that weight was probably nothing but hatred, offal, and accumulated dirt.

The Capitan himself was not a handsome man, in fact, his mates in basic had pegged him as "too F-ugly for officer material". He had a bulbous chin, low cheeks, big forehead, and what one could only describe as a "gorilla brow". Despite this evident aesthetic crisis, the young Santiago had persevered, and proven his superiors more resourceful and far more cunning and intelligent in the years as a junior member of the SO/AR. His mentor and immediate superior commented that Santiago's brains were about inversely proportionate to his looks--the uglier (from accrued scarring) he got, the greater his ability as a leader of warfighters. Eventually, Cabo F-ugly Mug Santiago mustang'd it to officer school and the rest was--well, one could say history--but was more accurately, a string of blacked-out documents and trophy-taken dog tags.

It was this odd pair that finally strode up to the tired looking Captain Moore and (less tired) Colonel Nielsen of the USPGF.

"Colonel, Captain", Kingfisher inclined his head and offered a hand. As a foreign intelligence officer, decorum did not require him to salute foreign service officers of rank.

The Capitan however, being part of the Republic Armed Service, had slung his rifle earlier and now offered a crisp salute, squaring his shoulders and feet almost reflexively before resuming his gaudy swaggering when they headed inside.

"The latest intel", said Kingfisher, setting a docket down on the table.

Santiago continued for him.

"Nothing new since we sent you the update on E2. The threat assessment remains the same, a light overcast of IED with a chance of partisan ambush. Based on our previous movements through the area, we can expect any meaningful CoD activity to be relatively low, as Sarov is doing a wide patrol-in-force over most critical junctions. We have additional SO/AR ready to provide QRF and CASEVAC if we have any encounters en route to Salonica... Alright. Now these... are what we have on some CoD pockets still left in Salonica, mostly holed up in downtown districts, dug into basements, sewers and big-block apartments", began Santiago, opening the docket and handing out photographs.

"These were taken from Micro Air Vehicle footage, and some from the spotters of dug-in marksman units we have peppered about. As you can see, there's some evidence of comings and goings, and maybe a motor pool or two in the downtown, and canning factory districts. Expect shooters and light vehicles as resistance in platoon strength, and at the absolute worse case, small company strength. They haven't been mobilising any larger forces since Sarov and our boys did a mopping of their only reinforcement point here--on the river wharfs", Santiago stopped to pass around larger scale satellite images."

"We have the city surrounded at every main egress. Sarov can provide mortar and mechanised support once we penetrate the Salonica phase line, as usual, yours truly will be available for any marksman work or quick running-and-gunning... just don't leave us stranded" Santiago chuckled (only half-joking).

"Now... If the sirs don't mind, I have some input based on some personal experience with this particular scenario", Santiago paused to survey the men gathered around the CP's central table.

"In '91, Vasqqa, SO/AR a large combined arms effort was undertaken at the city of Marraca. We had Fascist rebels loyal to the separatists holed up in a hospital with nowhere to go. The only thing stopping us from pounding that site to ass-crust was that they had taken several dozen civilian hostages. SO/AR was considered for a risky insert and neutralise op wherein we would come in and attempt to secure the hostage sites while pressing the remainders for a surrender. Long story short, this didn't happen. Politicking got in the way, something about 'hearts and minds', the Fasc negotiated, got to go free. They weren't 'spossed to but they jacked the buses meant for civies and used it to cart a load of munition and equipment off... now they roam the mountains and countrysides, plundering, bombing and raping here and there. Maybe remind the Primo of his predecessor's mistake from time to time with a homeland security threat or two", Santiago took a breath before leaning in closer to gathered party.

"My point being gentlemen--I advise that under no circumstances do we allow the CoD to worm their way out of this one. These are what's left of their crack troops, starving and demoralised as they may be, these are battle-hardened experienced killers--not boys and old men--they are bomb makers, veterans, and top players. They escape, and we'll be dealing with a scourge for the next century. If they've got hostages, it will have to be the risky business option over the political pussy-foot. We smash their faces in here and we do it for good."

OOC: The Marraca thing can be referenced from the Siege of Raqqa and its results.

Edited by Iverica
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Colonel Nilsen and Captain Moore received the two Ivericans in front of the large, muddy gazebo, its material flapping in the chilling northern Argic wind. A light snowfall had begun, sending the temperature plummeting further. The hive of activity within the compound didn't stop for the weather, with the soldiers working ever hard to prepare for the upcoming invasion. Moore shifted on his feet slightly, eager to retreat back into the tent and sit by the electric heater, while Nilsen showed more professionalism, remaining as still as a statue until their guests had finished their approach. Capitan Santiago's salute was welcomed greatly, with Nilsen and Moore offering their own salutes in return. The younger officer regarded Kingfisher's stance with scepticism, worry pulsing through his veins as he feared an angered reaction from his senior. Instead, Nilsen shook the man's hand firmly, having been briefed on the possibilities of not receiving a salute. It was rude, certainly, but it was their procedure, and that had to be respected. They'd done most of the leg work, after all. The Prymontians should be saluting them.

The duo lead them through the gazebo, into a private room at the rear where the command centre was situated. The floors were covered with rough, blue carpet, enough to prevent their feet from squishing into the mud but providing no further luxuries. The room within was lined with chunky laptops from the turn of the millennium, their seats now vacated due to the private meeting. In the centre of the room was a plastic folding desk, with two camping chairs either side. It was painfully obvious how underfunded the USPGF really were, and Colonel Nilsen hoped and prayed that their elite friends wouldn't take it the wrong way. This was the best they had. There was talk going around of portable cabins being sent by the end of February, but knowing the military's pathetic budget, this was unlikely.

Nilsen and Moore sat on one side of the table, flicking an electric heater on at the side. Quickly, they were joined by Santiago and Kingfisher, who handed out the images and provided their latest updates. The senior officer observed the photographs, quickly piecing together focal points of the Circle of Death and forging a basic outline for a potential battle plan, while his junior took notes and listened intently. Years of dedicated military work had allowed Nilsen to stick out like a sore thumb in his unit, where he was surrounded by average at best men. Quickly, he'd risen through the ranks, planting himself firmly at colonel and receiving the 12th Infantry Brigade to command. Project Canamo was his first legitimate mission, and while he was determined to make it a good one, he'd already failed miserably at the first hurdle with Pokrovsk.

To his side, Captain Moore was a young hopeful in his late twenties, still chasing a career in an office somewhere cushy, like Fort Kanacky. Unlike his peers, Evan Moore didn't feel destined for a life of gunfire and getting dirty - instead, his goal was to work behind the scenes, staying central within mainland Prymont and visiting his soon-to-be wife and kids daily. He yearned to work behind a desk, which to him was a simple life as opposed to living on rations and fighting commie terrorists. As such, Nilsen had allowed him to take a back seat in the Salonica invasion, commanding from above and watching from afar. If hands were getting dirty, Moore's would certainly be staying clean.

Once Kingfisher had finished his analogy and recommendation, Trym took a moment to consider. There was no hesitation in sharing his thoughts with the Ivericans, but he preferred to be fully sure of what he wanted to say before opening his mouth. He'd experienced first hand the troubles of speaking before thinking, and in the high-risk life of the army, that was never a good idea. The USPGF had no money to be wasted, so getting things right the first time was quintessential. 

"First of all, thank you for your input, boys. Santiago, ▒▒▒▒▒, the work that your units have put in so far has been greatly received. We wouldn't be able to carry out this operation without your hard work, so I thank you for that. Captain, if you will," he looked over to Moore, who placed his own folder of intel on the table, sliding it towards their guests. "Our own aerial imagery paints an identical picture to yours. We have a few alternative angles, but we've narrowed any remaining CoD'ies down to Salonica's industrial district. As you have men in the city, we trust that we'll find a few stragglers here and there too. I'm sure they can be taken care of easily. I'd like to direct our attention mostly to the factories."

"As you'll be aware, we estimate that there are several hundred thousand Hellenic Russian civilians still within Salonica. We've tapped into their radio frequencies and advised them to stay indoors. Our Air Force has been dropping supply packages, but we've refrained from announcing this to prevent it from going to the wrong people. Hopefully they're sensible enough to recognise the help and get it in a safe manner. Keeping the people out of harm's way and providing them with aid is our number one priority. Frankly, we've no idea what they're putting up with, but it won't be pretty. Securing the city quickly so we can get our humanitarian aid in there safely is objective number one. Safeguarding the city and minimising damages is number two. The umbrella of this operation is to expand the reaches of the Prymontian government, and so we don't want a repeat of the aftermath of the second Argic war." He paused momentarily, casting his mind back to the atrocities of the early seventies in Argis. Major cities had been crushed to the ground, and impossible amounts of money were spent building them back up. When public opinion of foreign aid was so divided, spending more money than was absolutely necessary on repairs was not an option. They had to make implementation as smooth as possible, and that ruled out air strikes.

"So far, we've been utilising the USPAF to eliminate threats in the countryside and areas with low population. An odd civilian casualty here and there won't hurt, but we want to avoid mass devastation. So, for now, all our planes can do is watch over us and step in if it gets too messy. The Elite Prymontian Defence Force, who are our SO/AR if you will, will be arriving on the 23rd. They're superior in every way to us - better funding, better gear, better training, the whole lot. They'll lead the way, and the Ground Forces will act as backup. You'll be working with those guys. They'll want to be in and out, so there's no time for pissing about. We've got a day to create and finalise a plan that we'll propose to them and hope they accept. They've got a bit of a superiority complex, like the Lysians but not as bad, so just be aware. I want to utilise them while we can, so we'll use them for the hard work and leave ourselves with the easy parts. Captain?"

All eyes turned to Captain Moore, who'd finished taking his notes and withdrew another notepad from his backpack, placing it on the table with a hefty thud. He flicked through the pages, landing on one with a few Polaroid photos clipped on before clearing his throat.

"Right, so. From what we can see, just like you said, the industrial areas are places of high activity for the Circle of Death, or whatever remains of them. We're expecting everything they've got, as that's their last hope of surviving. They'll be expecting us, but they won't be expecting the EPDF, so we have that on our side. Our best bet is sneaking in as opposed to guns ablaze. The EPDF arrive on the 23rd and won't take long to get acclimatised, so I suggest that we move in overnight. We won't have support from the Ahranaians in the south as originally thought, which is typical really, but we'll have to make do. It's probably for the best, there's more to go wrong with them included. Anyway, move in overnight, get our guys as close to the canning plants as we can, and then we strike." Moore passed around more imagery, highlighting certain buildings and entrance points.

"They may or may not have factory workers as hostages. At this point, we'll find out when we get there. Like ▒▒▒▒▒ said, we can't really afford any political nonsense. Avoid civilian casualties, just don't let the CoD guys get away. We're here to be the good guys, remember. It makes sense that the CoD are centring themselves around this building, so we'll aim for that," he pointed to a large, dilapidated factory at the edge of the sector, which had been highlighted for CoD activity. "We'll go straight for the heart, taking them out as quickly as we can and securing any hostages, before worming out other pockets throughout the area. Maybe they'll raise the alarm, but we should outnumber them significantly and we'll be able to wipe them out. As for the Sarov, we can buddy them up with some of our guys to patrol downtown Salonica and eliminate any loose threads. It shouldn't be a hard operation."

Edited by Prymont
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Camp Kedrovy | 1236hrs
23rd January 2018
Kedrovy
The Hellenic Rus

 

There was a reason why Prymont had become the world's best destination for winter sports holidays, and that was because of the snow. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visited the northern states, bringing with them their foreign money and excitable attitudes. They were here to ski, or to snowboard, or to watch the Prymontian Skiing Championship. They'd fuel up on coffee and beer, hit the slopes, and have a good time. Whitevale, while having no official residents for environmental legislation reasons, was home to thousands of Prymontians who earned their keep in the winter months serving the tourists. The northernmost state was known globally for its pristine snow, steep mountains, and icy cold alcoholic beverages.

Whitevale was one of the many places that the soldier manning the checkpoint at Camp Kedrovy would rather be. Like Prymont, the Hellenic Rus was known for its harsh, snowy winters, although it's best to keep your holidays to destinations with a functioning government. While severe blizzards were halting the progress of skiers in the Paranoff Mountain Range back home, they were also having an impact on the other side of the sea. The Elite Prymontian Defence Force had intended to send soldiers to Kedrovy by air, but the weather conditions had torn those plans right up. Instead, they docked at Port Sarov like the USPGF peasants and travelled by road.

This untimely delay had disrupted the day's schedule, with Colonel Nilsen expecting the elite soldiers in the early hours of the morning. Navigating motorways ridden with potholes and IEDs had taken some time, and eventually, the EPDF had arrived at the middle of lunch. The checkpoint guard's stomach rumbled violently as a handful of heavily armoured APCs rolled up, emerging suddenly from the depths of the fog and snow. The guard rose groggily, his salute slow and sloppy. A door swung open, identification documents were checked, and the barrier was raised. 

Snow crunched beneath the tyres of the cumbersome vehicles, which were slipping and sliding even at low speeds. They parked on their own, distinguishing themselves from the USPGF machinery. Out came thirty highly trained militants, clad head-to-toe in black padded gear, brandishing the latest assault rifles. Thin black balaclavas kept out the snow, their tinted goggles showing them the world in an orange fashion. Unlike the USPGF, there was no comradery between these men, only a silent professionalism. They oozed elitism and swagger as they marched over to the command centre, the curtains being pulled aside for them as they arrived. Only one entered, Captain Magnus Roland, commander of the Mountain Squad. Upon entering the HQ, he was greeted with salutations from Colonel Nilsen and Captain Moore. The relief these men felt was immense - they were finally able to step back and let the big boys work their magic.

"Captain Roland, an honour to have you here. If you'll please take a seat," Nilsen gestured to a vacant chair, with himself and his companion also taking seats.
"You've already been briefed on our strategy, so let's make this quick. If you have any questions, any concerns, make them known now."

Roland removed his goggled and balaclava, revealing a steely, chiselled face beneath. Years of hardened combat in severe conditions had made him one of the best men within the USP armed forces, and his aura certainly reminded you of it. Built like a brick sh*thouse, Magnus Roland had built his career upon simple foundations - integrity, strategy, determination, and strength. There was little left on the table when Roland was concerned, and yet he was so withdrawn and closeted. Some of his achievements were well known and praised, while others were cordoned off in thick vaults containing censored papers. It was fair to say that he was a seasoned veteran.

"Colonel Nilsen, Captain Moore. With all due respect, your plan is pathetic."

The two officers sat in shock, unsure of how to respond. A senior elite officer had just insulted their combined knowledge of the battlefield. There was no respect given at all! 

"And what do you propose?" Nilsen retaliated after an awkward silence, his confident exterior betraying his hurt, battered insides.

"Anything but that. Personally I'd opt with air strikes, but I understand your reasoning for avoiding them. Our first objective must be securing the city and helping civilians. Charging straight to towards the scumbags is asking for trouble. I'll consult my men and we'll give you our proposal tomorrow."

There had been plenty of time for consultation already. It struck Nilsen as alarming, how more time was required. These guys were meant to be the best, and yet they needed some more time to think on it? Providing their decision tomorrow would scrap the plan of invading that night. Whatever they had up their sleeves, it had to be good.

And yet, it wasn't. Roland was jealous. For once, the USPGF had conjured a solid plan, and the EPDF would embarrass themselves if they went with anything else. He had to hand it to Nilsen and Moore - they'd outdone themselves. But he couldn't. It was the EPDF's job to impress and surpass. The USPGF were there to clean up the mess and make some mistakes to make the EPDF look better, not to outshine them. 

Roland was confident in his men and their abilities. The EPDF had thirty compared to the 12th Infantry Brigade's seven hundred, yet they could carry out the operation ten times better. And so, that night, the EPDF wouldn't be consulting and deciding. They'd be invading.

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Posted (edited)

DEATH'S HEAD | PROLOGUE

January 21, 2018

Kedrovy | 1200

 

As the meeting continued, maps demarcating enemy positions and unit compositions were brought up. Santiago wanted to be absolutely sure that the USPGF were painted the full picture.

"Gentlemen, I must stress that any operation to assault the enemy position will not be so simple. While the 1-kilometre radius of dead-zone and ruined buildings around their HQ is manned mostly by shooters and light vehicles, the enemy fortified positions themselves have considerably more assets at their disposal", began the Capitan.

"This is the most recent update we have from Sarov", he continued, laying out a large map on the table.

Ea47pob.png

(BLUE- SAROV RESISTANCE ARMY, RED- CoD. Note that unit sizes are not specified. Assume that all units are Company size with exception of HQ--being Battalion sized)

"Please note that as of this time, lines may have already shifted, and certain unit positions changed."

"We must note that enemy positions here have had significantly more time to prepare the structures for a drawn-out and fierce urban confrontation.

It has been increasingly difficult to bombard or otherwise harass the position and virtually impossible to raid in any meaningful capacity.

We believe that both areas fortified behind the river bends have adequate concealment from direct observation and protection by depth (cellars, basement, etc) and obstruction of neighbouring buildings forcing Sarov's mortar and field artillery to seek specific and ungainly positions. Unfortunately, Sarov has also noted that the positions still carry active mortar units with what appears to be a large stockpile of munitions. These units have successfully carried out devastating counter-battery fire which has repeatedly dislodged any bombardment unit which has attempted to seek an effective firing position. Supplementarily, the enemy's small section-sized raids on Sarov lines have also been problematic, delaying and troubling any attempts to form or move for an effective assault. These raiding parties have thus far prevented large-scale reinforcement in the area, have denied ingress of Sarov's field artillery, and have made an armoured or mechanised assault far too costly to consider due to their anti-armour rockets, mine placements, and other tools.

Should the above conditions be overcome by any means, the commander should note the following. First and foremost, that our enemy has established a strong dispersion of their manpower, tunnel and covered networks have allowed their reserves mobility around their area at surprising speeds. Secondly, the enemy has set up excellent positions of observation and fire--these also allow for effective use of observed strikes from their aforementioned mortar teams."

Santiago took a moment to pause and have a gulp of the coffee earlier handed out.

"That pretty much covers a summary of the enemy positions. Now, this next bit is the interesting part.

As you'll note in the map, the east bank HQ position has almost been cut off from its western counterpart. Due, in no small part, to an assault bravely and costly carried out by the Sarov's 1st Division, 3rd Motorised. As you can see, their marker has been altered from motorised to infantry, having sustained loss of their main motor assets with a substantial amount of casualties from the assault. This is absolutely crucial, simply because the east bank is where our intel strongly believes the bulk of hostages are being held.

You might ask, 'why in Taco's bleeding rectum would these pickle-munchers be head-holed enough to place all their bargaining chips in one pubic wickered basket?'.

Well, gentlemen, this is because of two reasons. One, the east bank is--well was--the only area left in this district still populated by civies once the CoD moved their base of operations from the city centre to this piss-hole here. Two, Sarov was already hot on their stinking heels when they opened shop in this AO. There were not many hostages on the west bank, that being mostly warehouses and factories of the canning plant. Therefore, CoD was forced to seize the big-block apartments with their remaining occupants--far too many to move, as Sarov was already contesting that bridge (shown on map as contested by one friendly infantry unit)."

Santiago tapped at the east bank position.

 

"Gentlemen. In my opinion as an officer of the RAS, it is absolutely imperative that we take this window of opportunity to deny the enemy their only large bargaining chip. Obviously, they do have small pockets of civies they could use as further human shields, but not if we strike before they can get a video or message out. If we time this right--rescue the hostages and follow up with everything we've got--it might just be enough to one-two emasculate these putes madre.

 


OOC: I know, I know, exposition all around, yeah piss-off brother. Necessary though, the conditions of the operation have to be made a bit clear, and hopefully, the amateur map above does just that. @Prymont This could be the point where the Captain or Colonel clear up any questions or state and suggestions/possible courses of action.

OOC2: SO/AR currently has an operations plan for hostage rescue. It can be launched within 72 hours of this meeting here (January 21 +72H). However, how the operation will fare and whether we launch it at all will depend heavily on whether the EPDF decides to attack before/during the SO/AR operation and will also depend on the USPGF's willingness to move.

Possible scenarios:

 

1) EPDF do not coordinate with SO/AR and USPGF

Spoiler

This could obviously result in a slaughter for the EPDF , given the lack of planning, reconnaissance, and intel available to them. 

Possibility: could result in the execution of many hostages, thereby strengthening the pressure against the coalition and strength of the CoD bargaining position (bargaining to let them run amok and free in exchange of hostage release).

2

 

2) SO/AR attempt hostage rescue (Optional: With USPGF)

Spoiler

2A. [with USPGF support] SO/AR begin a hostage rescue operation supported by the USPGF.

Possibilities: Operation is delayed, hostage rescue only partially successful with high SO/AR casualties, USPGF able to lead the successful assault on enemy HQ with Sarov support.

2B. [without USPGF support] SO/AR begin a hostage rescue operation without USPGF support.

Possibilities: Operation on time and mostly successful, Sarov attempt a botched assault, CoD able to re-organise and counter-attack with serious consequences.

 

 

3) SO/AR attempt rescue alone

Spoiler

Major confusion for the coalition. CoD alerted by EPDF assault in the middle of SO/AR hostage rescue. SO/AR are forced to commit themselves to the assault, taking major loses. Most hostages are secured and the assault is a pyrrhic victory and capture of the enemy position. Major EPDF/USPGF and Sarov casualties, some members of CoD able to break the perimeter in the confusion and escape to the countryside. 

 

 

Edited by Iverica
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Invading a country wasn't easy when there were defenders, and so Colonel Nilsen somewhat ignorantly expected The Hellenic Rus to be different. Perhaps their lack of military defence had made their transit towards Salonica easier, but the Circle of Death had assumed the role of home guardian, and were seemingly doing a bloody good job of it. The colonel rubbed his eyes tiredly, expelling a deep sigh as he glanced over the maps once more.

The once neat table in the centre of the room had now been hit by a bomb of papers, pens and coffee mugs. Large maps that explained the situation in the capital were scattered at random, and the younger captain was growing a headache from trying to comprehend it all. They'd been thrown into the deep end by General Grey with no real plan, and now it was starting to hurt them. Nilsen would give the Defence Minister a good talking to when he returned to the United States.

"Right. The Sarov have been fighting in Salonica much longer than we've been here, and you have the intel straight from them, so the only thing I can do is trust your judgement. Obviously we can't expect these sh*tbags to sit back and let us walk all over them, but perhaps, with some... more qualified men, their counter attacks will be less effective. We can utilise the EPDF to create a distraction with the Sarov guys, draw their men away from the hostages, get them out of there, and then squeeze the CoD from both sides. We have a few prisoners that we've collected along the way, suspected CoD rogues and the like. If you're willing to, and it's kept quiet, I wouldn't mind... using them, ah, as part of the distraction. We need all the manpower we've got, and they're of no use otherwise. Aerial imagery will only paint part of the picture. What we really need is intelligence from the heart, updated live, but I understand why we can't have that."

"There is another way," Captain Moore suggested, leaning forwards and tracing his finger seemingly at random along the map. "Back home, we have detailed maps of their sewage system from the second Argic war. I doubt they had the funds to update or change their tunnels since the seventies, so it'd remain largely the same, if not identical. The only problem is, as you say, they've developed a system of tunnels and secret passages to get their equipment about. I don't doubt for one second that they're not using the sewers. I don't know if it's worth the risk, and that's not my decision to make, but to me, it's an entirely plausible option to send some men down there and poke about. If it's clear, great. If not, get out of there undetected, or put up a bloody good fight."
"Alternatively, that's our distraction. We send the EPDF underground, damage their equipment, and draw the resistance away from the surface. Hopefully, this could give us enough clearance to move in and rescue the hostages, before supporting the EPDF. Again, squeezing them from both sides could work. It also gives them nowhere to run, and if we guard the exits, it leaves them with only the sewers to hide in. I don't know about you two, but I don't like the idea of hiding out in sh*tty, murky waters with god-knows-what in it for however long their supplies last."

Nilsen took a moment to consider, nodding his head slowly in agreement to what his junior had said. 
"Ultimately, we'll work with you. You have the inside knowledge with the Sarov, you've been here longer, and we seriously owe you one for all of the work you've done so far to make this possible. The more I hear of this sewer plan, the more I like it. We can send for the blueprints we gathered during the war and look over them... tomorrow? Right now, I have two and a half thousand men and women itching to kick some arse. Let's make this happen."

 


 

West Coast Communications Building | 2200hrs
3rd February 2018
Zolotinka
The Hellenic Rus

 

Sergeant Oliver Stormoen and his unit of ten were quickly approaching the drop point. Two hours ago, they'd been issued with rough coordinates by the USPAF on the whereabouts of their care package, which included a fresh set of rations, a change of clothes, and letters from their loved ones. They'd ventured away from the safety of the recently occupied town of Zolotinka, on the western coast of The Hellenic Rus, deep into the sparse fields of the countryside to find their package. The weather was unforgiving, as it always was in the winter months. Fortunately, it'd calmed down enough to prevent a snowstorm, but the sea winds were still numbing, and the temperatures were still low. The unit had been kitted out in thick winter gloves, itchy scarves, and worn out ski jackets, but this still wasn't enough to keep out the chill. The cold prevented them from thinking straight - all that occupied their minds was finding food, and then going home to warm up.

Attaching flares to drops had been prohibited to prevent the goodies inside from being taken by the wrong hands, and as per usual, the underfunded Ground Forces were issued only with a decade old map. Reliance upon orienteering skills was crucial, as getting lost in these unfamiliar surroundings would be deadly. Getting lost wasn't an option at this point. 

Hope was dwindling within the group of eleven. They'd wandered aimlessly for an hour, hoping to randomly stumble upon the crate. Their luck had been non-existent, and the night had felt like a waste of time. They'd have to do it all over again the next day, when a larger crate for the citizens of the town would be delivered, but at that point they'd have a truck to carry the cargo. It wouldn't be much warmer, and it wouldn't be comfortable, but it'd be an improvement on walking in the pitch black. 

And so, when Sergeant Stormoen saw the crate, he thought his eyes were betraying him. It was a mound of dirt, or a burnt out car, or anything other than their prize. But as he drew nearer, he knew his sight told the truth. The relief that flowed through him was overwhelming, and as he staggered over to the crate he held onto it for dear life, preventing his trembling legs from crumbling beneath him. In that moment, he was a kid being reunited with a lost teddy bear. The joy was like no other.

But the happiness would be short lived. One of his men, a certain Lance Corporal Max Gjerde, had spotted something in the distance. Gjerde was the only one in the group with binoculars, and despite the dark, he used them frequently. The moonlight was enough to be able to vaguely see around, but was dim enough to not be mistaken for a light in a nearby building. He focused the binoculars further, training his sights on a two-storey compound only a few hundred metres away. Following his line of vision, Stormoen caught on to what was happening and commanded his men to hide behind the crate, hoping that they hadn't been noticed in return.

"Any movement?" Stormoen whispered, his voice hoarse and shaky.

"Negative, sir. Oh-- wait... Someone by the window. Can't quite see... male. Light's off."

"f*ck. Bequette, Opdal, take the crate back to base. Keep on the radio. Anything else?"

"Negative sir. No more movement." 

"Then we go." The sergeant signalled for his men to follow him, leaving behind Bequette and Opdal to rope up the crate and drag it back to Zolotinka. The rest of them would advance towards the building, maintaining a brisk walk, while Gjerde was glued to his binoculars. 

It wouldn't take long for them to reach a tall, wire fence that ran along a generous perimeter surrounding the building. Risking being seen, they followed along the fence, reaching a checkpoint that marked the entrance to the compound. A narrow strip of tarmac led up to the facility, straight from the nearby main road. With the guard shelter unmanned, the unit progressed into the compound. 

Fresh, untainted snow crunched beneath their boots, indicating that there was minimal external movement within the compound. As they drew nearer the central building, large satellite dishes could be seen atop the roof, their antennae pointed towards the stars. Beneath them, the gentle hum of an underground generator indicated that there was more to this place than an abandoned building - there was life, and it was hiding.

There was no reception or lobby to the building. In fact, there was no obvious main entrance at all. Instead, the group moved around the side, finding a basement window at ankle level. It would be just wide enough for them to shimmy through without their backpacks, and so Stormoen made the decision to leave five men outside, to watch out for any stragglers and to guard their bags. Meanwhile, the sergeant tugged at the window, which opened with surprising ease, and crawled inside, followed by six.

Inside, they were greeted by damp, empty darkness. Activating the flashlights on their guns showed a vast, sparse basement, telling the story of a once-looted storage room. Perhaps it was a temporary coastal base of operations for the Circle of Death or another rogue rebel group, or maybe the workers that once frequented the area took all they could carry and sold it on in central Argis. Nowadays, it was home to a couple of soggy cardboard boxes and corner-dwelling spiders. At the far end of the room was an elevator, accompanied by a thick wooden door leading to a narrow staircase. They'd taken the latter option, knowing that the elevator would alert anyone of their presence.

Silence overwhelmed them as they ascended the staircase, reminding them of what they were risking. With no backpacks they had no supplies, and that meant they were short on ammunition and medicine. The aim was to intimidate, capture, and not get shot. Stormoen didn't want any of his men getting injured, and so taking their time to make sure they were safe was an absolute priority. 

A sweep of the ground floor concluded in nothing. Only one storey remained, and that was where Gjerde had seen the light and the figure. Stormoen pulled his men together at the foot of the staircase, his rifle resting idly by his hip as he barely whispered his commands.

"If we find someone, we do not shoot. Aim, shout, threaten, even beat if things get tense, but we don't shoot. If they're armed, I'll give the order to retaliate. Space out, don't make yourself a target. Stay calm, guys. We got this."

Gradually, the group progressed upwards, treading silently on the cold concrete floor. The stairs were narrow and steep, and built up a steady burn in their thighs as they painstakingly slowly ascended. Soon enough, they were met with a locked door, its thin window showing a darkened corridor beyond. There was no way to ease their way in; they'd left their equipment outside with the others, so it'd be all or nothing. The unit risked ruining the operation by being too noisy, but it was the only way to progress. They had body armour. Stormoen hoped they'd be alright.

Stepping back, he leaned into his kick and slammed his foot against the door. It was wedged firmly shut, the lock thick and challenging. Short of a battering ram, their only hope was to try and try again. Once the sergeant tired, it was the turn of another. With the lock having been weakened by prior attempts, it finally came open with an almighty bang, the solid doors banging against the walls as they were flung open. With their victims now inevitably alerted, time was against them. They rushed through the corridor, bursting doors open and swiftly checking each room. Three doors down, they found what they were looking for.

With their torches illuminating the room, they'd burst in on some sort of technical radar base. Chunky, outdated machinery lined the walls, their dull lights still blinking in activity. Retro screens showed radars for various sectors within The Hellenic Rus and the surrounding territories. A spaghetti clump of wires led to a huge computer in the corner, one that wouldn't be out of place in Ostport's radar facility in the 1970s. Stormoen led the way, flashing his torch down the aisles, followed in hot pursuit by Lance Corporal Rob Castillo. The Lance Corporal stopped by the last aisle, raising his gun and his voice. 

"Hey! You, up now! Hands on your heads!" With the flick of a switch his torch flashed rapidly, stunning the enemy into submitting. All lights turned to four people in the corner, their arms high in the air, their white shirts and trousers stained and creased. The three men had grown stubble, giving them an authentic homeless appearance, while the remaining woman had scraggly, matted hair. It was clear that they'd been deprived of many basics, and were on their last legs.

"Do you speak English?" Stormoen commanded, his gun pointed firmly at the group. One of them nodded after a moment, and cleared his throat to reply.

"Please... we-we have nothing. You take anything, just please..." his accent was thick, his English broken, but he could understand them and be understood. 

"We're not going to hurt you. We're here to help you. Who are you and what are you doing here?"

"Engineers..." the man gestured to himself and his colleagues, and then to the rows of machinery. "Radar... satellite... information..." Behind his back, Stormoen indicated for the room's lights to be turned on, rendering their flashlights useless and hopefully deescalating the situation. 

"It's okay. You can come with us. We have a base in Zolotinka, we can get you fed and cleaned up. Buckner, radio through to the guys outside. Three males, one female, unarmed and malnourished. See if you can get in touch with someone in Zolotinka, maybe get a heli here or something." Buckner stepped outside to make the call.

"We're gonna get you some help. Relax, it's okay." The commander stood at ease, indicating for his men to follow suit. His hands were outreached as he stepped towards the group, who were still shivering in fear. Their eyes were all on Castillo, who still had his rifle pointed square at their heads.

"Lance Corporal, stand down. They're unarmed." The man remained frozen, as if he were deaf. "Castillo, stand down. That's an order."

"You're gonna let these commie cunts walk all over us like that?"

"They've done nothing wrong! Now stand down!" Without hesitation, Castillo squeezed the trigger. The soldiers reeled back in pain, covering their ears as they ringed from the gunshot. When they recovered moments later, the Hellenic Russians were screaming in fear. One of them was on the floor.

"Castillo, what the f*ck?! They were unarmed! Are you mad?" Only then did the Lance Corporal stand down as he stormed out of the room, spitting profanities along the way. "Buckner! We have a casualty. Get a chopper!"

As Sergeant Stormoen tried once again to defuse the situation and calm the Hellenic Russians, Gjerde surveyed the machinery beside him. Immediately, one folder stood out. Marked top secret, he picked it up and flicked through the pages, landing on detailed schematics of missile silos in the frozen Argic Ocean. 

"Erm... sergeant, there's something you should see."

 

 

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Posted (edited)

DEATH'S HEAD | PART 1/4

Salonica Industrial Village | 0600hrs
24th January 2018
Salonica, Hellenic Rus

 

Santiago heard. The sound built around his ears again slowly.

He saw. His dirtied eyes building a field of muddled light.

He felt. His head pulsed as if it was on fire.

His hands flailed instinctively trying to grab for his carbine, fallen somewhere. He felt the hard cement floor his back laid against. His hands clasped gravel, detritus, and something damp.

He felt a stab of pain in his chest. Why couldn't he breathe?

A brief bout of panic shot through him. Hot liquid shot out of his nostrils. He retched in bursts, each time, his mouth seemed to be filling up again. The taste of iron flooded his senses.

God, what the--?

He rolled onto his belly and tried to push himself up. Swiping at his eyes, his vision began to clear.

Coughing again, he felt something solid pass out of his lips.

On the gravel-strewn ground, in a puddle of carmine, lay 3 of his molars and a big flap of bloodied skin.

He heard footsteps and raised his head. In front of him, a darkened figure raised a weapon muzzle.


 

SO/AR "FOB SALONICA" | 2030hrs
23rd January 2018
Salonica, Hellenic Rus

 

Cold night air filled his lungs as Santiago jerked upright from the shotgun seat of his 4x4. Despite the frigid Russian air, Santiago felt the damp that had gathered on his brow.

He grabbed his carbine, right beside him where he had left it and exited the vehicle.

The inside of the FOB's vehicle pool was the cavernous space of a dry goods warehouse, roughly 3 clicks from the CoD stronghold. Around the space lay the clutter of vehicle parts, arms and munition crates, and groups of SOAR men in the final stages of preparing for what could be the final fight in the cold miserable hell of war-torn Salonica.

He made towards the clump of men, two platoons organised into two mission teams. He went over the plans in his head again as he strode towards the assembly, all of them loading stripper clips of assorted rounds into magazines, sharpening knives, double checking plate carriers and electronics--things which they had done obsessively days prior.

Capitan Santiago of Iverica's direct action SOC group SO/AR recounted the order, phases, and objectives of battle, laid down half a week prior, this would be a rushed operation--Santiago hated it.

Like any career warfighter, he knew that a quick plan thrown together was not how delicate operations against a well dug-in enemy worked. Santiago recognised that the edge of the Special Forces lay not only in vim, vigour, and venom of their attitudes and training but in that operations were planned months in advance, every factor crunched, every movement drilled to perfection. 

Responding in this way, rushed, and necessitated by circumstance was a rap on Death's door. Santiago knew the plan appeared solid, 3 phases: Insertion, Recovery, Exfiltration. The first (0200) via sapper-prepared entry with some abseiling involved. The second (0300) with the hard vectoring--coming in quickly and employing surprise to its utmost to secure the hostages and their extraction via special boat unit. Lastly, (0400-0500) they would exfiltrate, primarily through another set of tunnels--if that failed, Sarov was prepared to dispatch either a riverine craft or a rotor wing for a hot egress.

The objectives were simple... but then again not so. There were close to a hundred hostages, mostly families who had resided in the big block apartments around the canning facility. They were being held in one of the low-rise units, scattered in rooms around. Both teams would insert via the underground and the ceiling, clearing floors towards the middle and hopefully not getting shot in the back by wolves among the lambs. All the while, the combined USPGF and Sarov forces would be staging diversionary assaults and bombardments on the opposite side of the river--West Bank, and on the southern front of the East Bank. Hopefully drawing forces away from their AO near the East Bank HQ. The last, and most risky step would be getting the hostages on board riverine skiffs operated by SO/AR Special Boat Unit--the train of boats would be easy targets once loaded to the brim with civilians. The chance of civilian fatalities was high, but it was the only conceivable way. Given this, Santiago knew that the chances of finishing the operation silently were next to nil and that the hot extraction would be next to certain. If the boats came under fire, the 50 SO/AR operators of the mission team would have to engage in earnest, drawing fire for the boats' escape, outnumbered and outgunned until the Sarov few and archaic rotorcraft could lift them out.

Santiago passed the hastily constructed mock-ups of the apartment building sections they had been drilling in. He knew his team had the movements down to the millisecond, but even so, he couldn't shake the whispers of dread growing in his chest.

Edited by Iverica
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