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DEATH'S HEAD | PART 2/4

East Bank HQ | 0250hrs
24th January 2018
RED TEAM, SNOWMAN ACTUAL

 

It was dark. Everywhere, reverberating off the walls of the vertical shaft, were the voices of the enemy.

Two dozen men hung by their bare palms and fingertips, from beams, from access ladders and elevator cables.

For Capitan Santiago, the climb up the last twenty floors had begun to take a toll. It was slow going, even for the trained SOAR kill team scaling an abandoned elevator shaft. The gear and the charges they carried weighed them down--60 pounds at the least and 80 at the most. The extra weight slowed their climbing to a sloth-like ascent.

Santiago had already felt his sweaty palms and fingers slip a few times. Looking down, the base of the shaft looked like a tiny square of darkness.

"If you fall, bite your tongue", Santiago had told the team earlier as they had snuck into the shaft.

Above him, the point man signalled.

No way ahead, the next few doors had been opened, and from them, Santiago could hear Russian voices.

He nodded and signalled back.

"Breachers, Up", he signed back to the men below.

A man armed with a crowbar and shotgun made his careful ascent, planting himself beside the shut elevator doors nearest the group. His partner, settled himself opposite and slipped a flash grenade from its pouch

Santiago held up his fingers, weapons were levelled, one-handed in most cases as their operators clung to the sides of the shaft.

3...

The pin on the flash grenade was pulled, falling into the maw of dark below. The man's hand on its final safety lever tensed.

2...

Santiago felt the bead of sweat collecting on his brow fall.

1-

---

 


 

Earlier | 0225

 

From their freshly cleared observation post on the East Bank, Santiago and his command team marked positions and tracked the progress of both mission teams moving into the East Bank AO.

Aided by the darkness of the morning and the cover of the tunnels, the insertion phase had gone smoothly... That is until, at approximately 0215 hours, Red Team had reported in, calling no-contact with the EPDF team.

It was now 0225, Blue Team was already waiting for the signal to silently breach and clear the buildings surrounding the hostage site.

Santiago cursed.

"Kingfisher--Snowman Actual. Be advised, as of this time, no contact with EPDF callsign Orange. Snowman elements on overwatch are moving to directly support Blue team. How copy over?"

"Snowman Actual--Kingfisher. Copy that. It's your op, your discretion. Over"

"Kingfisher, Lone Arrow is in effect. I say again, Lone Arrow in effect."

"Puté! Its all us, noios. The Nordos decided to screw the plan. Tie your laces, we're taking care of this all personal like. Contact Blue and Red, new plan, we're going with Red--direct raid on the HQ make a lot of noise and distract the Russo-Perros. Blue will have to deal with it unsupported, take advantage of our diversion and go loud, get the hostages and get out as fast as possible. Marksmen and Spotters stay behind here, we'll need that vision and anti-materiel fire. Extraction will be choppy, so don't wait around!

This was improvisation. Santiago f*cking hated improvisation.

---

 


 

Hostage Site- East Bank | 0250hrs
24th January 2018

BLUE TEAM 

 

Everything went hot white.

His eardrums burst.

A thousand hot needles stabbed at his face from all directions.

The guard hit the ground and curled into a ball. Hot, sulphurous smoke filled his lungs. He felt his chest heave again and again, spasming while his mouth gaped in unison.

The burning, acrid gas flooded his senses. When his vision slowly returned, his eyes were stung red and teary from the vapours that flooded the room.

Spinning. Vertigo. Where was down?

There shimmering in the smoke, a black figure.

Hollow sockets. Black, austere lenses.

Death.

---

"ROOM CLEAR" shouted the black figure, turning his gas-mask clad head away from the eliminated target.

From everywhere else in the building, similar clear signals sounded off.

At the word from the Capitan, Blue Team had breached and cleared the hostage site.

They wasted no time, every second counted. Explosive clappers were triggered, flash grenades and tear gas were thrown from the windows as Blue Team's two sections breached simultaneously, coming from above and below.

A hole was blown into the south wall while the penthouse skylight was shattered. SOAR abseiled from the top and flooded through from the ground.

The team was systematic, working through rooms as they practised in the mock-up kill house days before, kicking doors in, dropping hostiles hiding amongst the flock.

Fireteams cut through the corridors with practised caution, angles covered, muzzles sweeping. Rooms were swept, pointmen charging through them, using the maximal shock of concussion, gas, disorienting flash grenades, and light strobes.

Breachers laid charges for more fortified rooms, blasting holes into the building walls, paired pointmen going diagonally left and right, while auxiliaries covered perpendicular angles from the point of entry.

When the smoke cleared, every armed Russian was dead. Blue Team had no time for prisoners.

"Snowman Actual--Blue One, the word is Pastor, we have them. Moving to exfil"

---

 


 
 
SO/AR "FOB SALONICA" | 0300hrs
24th January 2018

KINGFISHER
 
Close. So very close. Blue team had the hostages. Pastor was in effect, demarcating the phase to shepherd and extract the hostages through a sequence of riverine craft speeding towards the link-point presently. All Blue team had to do now, was make sure the craft didn't get blown out of the water.
 
Kingfisher watched the monitors, displaying the body cam views of every section leader currently in the operation. He turned his gaze towards Santiago "Snowman" and his Red team.
 
Kingfisher wasn't sentimental, the line of work was the sort that favoured a lack of attachment. Still, that didn't stop him from a twang of concern... if not mostly for the mess he'd have to take care of, cleaning up dead SO/AR corpses and explaining the "fatal accident" that had killed a crack team of experts.
 
Kingfisher hoped they'd get out soon. Things didn't look too good for Santiago.

 

 

 

Edited by Iverica
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"Moore, get a link with those fools now."

. . . 

"Frequency six, sir. EPDF commander Captain Roland."

Colonel Nilsen keyed the frequency into his radio and brought the microphone close to his mouth. "Captain Roland, this is Colonel Trym Nilsen of the 12th Infantry Brigade. Please enlighten me as to why the f*ck you're not with SO/AR."

On the ground, the EPDF were already struggling. While his senior attempted to make contact with Roland, Captain Moore found himself reorganising pockets of men so as to occupy the resistance and give the EPDF time to organise themselves. A handful of men would dash behind riot shields across the street, tempting the CoD out of their cover and onto the bridge, where they were out in the open and fatally vulnerable. Covering fire quickly took out the few that were stupid enough to fall for it, but it was hardly enough time to get the EPDF out of there. 

The specialised elite soldiers were waiting for orders from their leader; orders which never came. Instead of utilising his men's abilities, Captain Roland was busy arguing over the radio with Colonel Nilsen. Having instilled a sense of fear into his troops if they disobeyed him, Roland had left his men like statues, waiting to be brought to life. Their cover of disused machinery and crumbling brick walls wouldn't last for long against the ruthless Hellenic Russian terrorists. It was only a matter of seconds before they realised enemies were within their circle.

"Captain Roland, once again this is Colonel Nilsen, your commanding officer. Inform me of your intentions."

"Received request for EPDF support against overwhelming resistance forces."

"Moore, check if any contact was made with the EPDF prior to this."

"... Negative sir, this is our first contact."

"Captain Roland, no previous contact has been made. Get your arse back to the SO/AR or so God help me, I'll come down there and send you myself."

"Negative Nilsen. We're here to - f*ck."

In the background, agonising screams could be heard over the static of the radio. A stray CoD had found their hiding spot and had opened fire. Quickly, he was consumed by a spray of bullets and was no more, but not without taking a casualty with him. With Roland now ignoring the radio, Nilsen ordered for more support on the bridge. Leaving the EPDF alone would cause disaster for the west bank operation.

Further along from the bridge, the USPGF and Sarov worked in harmony to forge a route into the heart of the CoD land. Militants on the ground armed with shoulder-mounted RPGs aimed for likely CoD hiding areas, drawing attention to them and allowing USPGF snipers concealed in high rise towers above to finish them off. With the opposing forces withering quickly, Sarov men were sent to storm the remainders in derelict factories and secure the territory. 

Meanwhile, the EPDF found themselves in hot sh*t. With no strategic positioning, they were like sitting ducks for the CoD, who wasted no time in engaging them. Knowing that their time was limited, the ones that'd plagued the Hellenic Russian motherland for so long sent everything they had to the EPDF, who were left fumbling for cover. Captain Roland, as arrogant as ever, refused to request additional support from Nilsen. With the CoD now occupied elsewhere, the USPGF were able to rush the remaining bridges and tackle the few that remained from within. The EPDF, now considered a lost cause, were left for dead. 

The west bank operation had quickly turned in the favour of the attacking forces, but not as they'd expected.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for the SO/AR.

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Stjørdalsstad Research Facility | 1630hrs
31st March 2018
Stjørdalsstad
Hellenic Russian Northern Argic Territory

 

Time slowed down in the Argic Circle. Due to the natural tilt of the planet, the sun rarely set or rose. As such, days in Stjørdalsstad merged into one, an everlasting circle of sunlight and snow. An island, surrounded by miles upon miles of ice, could surely not host human life. Such land as this, one of eternal winter, was in fact home to deep, dark, Hellenic Russian secrets. Conquered in the 1950s in the aftermath of the First Argic War, the frozen, barren wastelands were used to test upcoming weaponry of mass destruction in peace. No other nation would bother observing lands that were so cold, so inhospitable, that it was the perfect guise.

During the Second Argic War, activity at Stjørdalsstad was heightened to increase the development of these WMDs and turn the tide in their favour. Unfortunately, their attempts were too little too late, and the war was ultimately lost. With nuclear sanctions placed against the country during the Argic Missile Crisis, development seemingly stopped. However, in the frozen north, the government continued to pay scientists, who would store Hellenic Rus' nuclear armament until a time came when it was needed once again.

When The Hellenic Rus fell, so did it's future as a socialist source of evil in the Canamo region. Prymont were quick to step in, seemingly the heroes of the hour, but their intentions were just as dark. The Hellenic Rus would become dependent on it's capitalist neighbour in the coming years, and in turn, would be used as a political puppet in an ever-growing tense atmosphere in central Argis. A rich history of war and anger with the Prymontian territories would dissolve instantly, but it would take much longer to rid the world entirely of the legacy that The Hellenic Rus had left behind.

Upon the discovery of alarming documents in an apparently innocent communications facility on the east coast, Field Marshal Theodore Houston ordered for the Extreme Climate Division to scope out the two northern islands, retrieve any workers, and claim the land under the Prymontian flag. From there, it would be a task of disposing of any remaining weapons and re-purposing the islands to fit current needs. 

After months of rigorous training, the ECD were primed for deployment. Imagery taken from supersonic F-E Robin runs painted a previously unknown picture to the Prymontians, one of extensive secret bases in unforgiving lands. Once they were confident in their findings, and when the weather permitted, the ECD parachuted onto the larger of the two archipelago, Stjørdalsstad. This allowed for a quick, unexpected penetration, catching any leftover Hellenic Russians off guard and allowing easy passage into the facility.

Due to the risky, slightly questionable nature of the mission, the operatives would go unnamed. The professional nature of the ECD betrayed the underfunded, comically unprofessional traditions set by the majority of the USP Ground Forces. Instead, these were men of precision, of discipline, of simply a higher echelon than those that traipsed the measly Ground Forces. 

Insertion was seamless. As expected, remaining Hellenic Russians were caught by surprise. Alarm bells were sounded, but no help would arrive. An attempt at resisting was formed, but it was no more than an attempt. Quickly, the scientists were subdued and arrested. Coordinates were sent to an evacuation helicopter, which would take the criminals to lifetime isolation in a top secret military prison on Horizon Island. In the blink of an eye, the United States had control of weapons that they'd banned The Hellenic Rus from having. The world would be told that they'd be expertly disposed of, but the world would be lied to.

The tales of Stjørdalsstad would paint a picture of a not so magical north pole, one where The Hellenic Russians once carried out their evil acts of disobedience and betrayal, but now was unused Prymontian territory. However, the real story laid with those that liberated the island that day, and those that received top level clearance, permitting them access to the most hidden of files. Stjørdalsstad would continue its reign as an icy, unknown hellhole, in which weapons of mass destruction were developed and tested. 

Stjørdalsstad would one day protect Prymont. 

But nobody knew it.

 

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Defence Minister's Office | 0952hrs
23rd April 2018
New Halsham
Courtmarsh

 

"Yes Varg, but I do feel as though you haven't been campaigning nearly enough to get the vote. You and I have seen the prediction polls. It'll likely be a seat wasted on those United Prymont Future Party fools. Sharpe didn't lose his life for the National seat to be lost too!" 

On the morning of the President's highly anticipated speech in Parliament, where he was due to make several announcements regarding key issues such as fishing quotas and Prymont's forthcoming military aggression, the Defence Minister should've been preparing his supplementary notes. He was expected to explain the outcome of the Verde Blockade and what the government had learned, issue a response to Ahrana's ongoing war crimes in Xara, and provide updates on the situation in the Hellenic Rus. The session wasn't due to open until half past ten, but Hunter himself was fatally unprepared. 

A phone call to Varg Alme was made at nine on the hour, to ready the billionaire crime lord for the final stages of his election campaign for the vacant Cadwell seat. Back in January, a covert inside operation had been organised to assassinate the useless MP of Cadwell, Archie Sharpe, and replace him with Varg Alme, setting the drug king up for his eventual run for Presidency when Duval had been taken care of. Alme had been issued an incredibly detailed campaign folder, which would guide him through the run and guarantee him enough votes for the result to be rigged and still seem feasible. A dedicated team had been created in a vacant basement office in Halsham House, beneath the Chambers, for Varg's campaign. Grey had even gathered secret service soldiers and sent them to infiltrate Cadwell and gather support for Alme. However, the Defence Minister had a nauseating feeling in his flabby gut that it would all be for nothing.

The two had been arguing back and forth for nearly an hour; Grey urged Alme to see the campaign through and up his game at this crucial last moment, while Alme couldn't care less. At the half hour mark, Grey had delegated his speech preparation to his office secretary. Throughout 2018, she'd been overwhelmed enough, and so a simple speech for her was like a university maths student learning how to count. She'd have it done in no time, but it was whether or not Grey would be ready.

"Hunter, you're still not understanding. I don't care about the election. Find somebody else to stand for the party." The voice on the other end of the phone was cool, calm, collected, and probably smoking a pack of cigarettes. On this end, Grey was fuming. Sweat dripped from his temple, collecting in an uncomfortable pool along the tight collar around his neck. He felt as though he was on a leash, led along by Varg. 

"No!" He slammed his fist down on the table, sending a pot of pencils sprawling across the desk. "No, Varg, I've had enough of your games! You've done fuck all in this election so far, so you're going to pull your fucking socks up or forget being President!" Spit flew from the minister's mouth, landing on his computer screen. He wiped it away with his sleeve, muttering curses under his breath.

"Remember Hunter, I never wanted to be President. You came to me with that proposition. If I wanted the job, I'd surely have it by now, don't you think? My little henchmen are far more efficient than yours. While you've got braindead morons murmuring my name in Cadwell, I've got murderous criminals who can actually get the job done. It would've been much better for you to pay me to use my men. They pull the right strings, kick the stragglers back into line, and we have us a 100% vote. But no, you didn't use that option, you've proven yourself to be a useless buffoon who isn't worthy of any sort of redeeming career, and now you're going to pay through angry taxpayers and losing a seat. I'm not standing for election."

Grey was seething. His blood boiled, eyes bulged, fists clenched into a tight ball. He was in a state of utter disbelief. How could a criminal speak to a man of worth like that?

"Before you have one of your little outbursts, let me explain. Rule number one of running for election, you have to want to be the MP. I don't want that. Rule number two, you have to live in the constituency. I live nowhere near Cadwell, and have no intention of moving. Rule number three, you have to be a desperate, pathetic liar. I'm a truthful man, one that sticks to his word. I couldn't be a politician if I tried, Hunter."

"You've led me on for this long, making me think that my time and money was going towards a good cause, only to let me down at the eleventh hour? Do you know how disappointing that is?"

"Once again, you came to me with no idea of whether or not I would follow your lead. You came to a criminal mastermind, a man that is already the president of Prymont's underworld, and expect me to follow your command? I'm not someone to be ordered around like that, Hunter. I think you've underestimated me."

"So you're just going to let all that money go to waste?"

"Yes. But this time, I'm going to give you a proposition. The Hellenic Rus is a big, untapped market for me. People are desperate for something cheap to dull the hunger and keep them going. It's perfect for a man like me! And what's the one thing I hate? Filthy politicians getting in my way, under false pretences and crippling public demand. So, instead of giving me the Presidential run for Prymont, we hop over the sea and look at more vulnerable, suitable shores..."

The line went dead. Grey had hung up the phone. Right now, he needed to calm himself down and focus on the upcoming speech. But his mind would keep ticking, considering the cards which Alme had laid on the table. In this game of poker, they were very tempting indeed.

Edited by Prymont
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To: Greggor Ivanoff, Secretary General of the Socialist Federation of @Ahrana
From: George Duval, President of the United States of Prymont

 

Secretary General,

As I'm sure you're aware, the United States prioritises environmentalism in its policies and law making process to create a better, cleaner future for tomorrow's world. The United States has led the way in environmental innovation, and has so far created a global seed bank to which your country has free access, constructed an unprecedented scientific research base on Antargis with the Trans Continental Science Initiative, and are investing in thorium nuclear reactor research to produce greener, more efficient energy. Alongside this, my government has enforced fishing quotas in the Canamo Sea to remedy the effects of decades of overfishing and to prevent further damage to the delicate marine ecosystem. 

As part of the government's plan to promote environmentalism both nationally and internationally, I would like to invite you to the University of Canastota to discuss fishing policies, as well as a host of environmental and political concerns. I believe it would benefit both of our nations greatly to discuss some key issues regarding this, and as such, I would like to show you the work that many intelligent teams at the university are doing to reverse the effects of climate change and global warming. Potentially we could discuss the sharing of academically researched information too.

It is of utmost importance to the United States' political situation that we host this meeting as soon as possible.

 

Regards,

George Duval
President of the United States of Prymont

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Minister Hall, Peoples Palace, Moskovo, SF Ahrana| 1200 AT| 24 April 2018

Ivanoff had a rough morning dealing with Operation Intel, Government Bills and now a rift in Ahranaian Politics thanks to President Duval. Ivanoff had just gotten back from his private residence from being ill for a couple of days and only those closest to him knew about it, as for the rest of the Government they were told he was in Vulgus Supra on Government Business and that no one outside the Government is to know of this.

Ivanoff was watching International News yesterday and saw the session of the Legislature of the United States and what was said about Ahrana and so forth. Ivanoff was so displeased with how the truth of what is happening in Xara has been twisted by Duval to further make sure the TRIDENT nations are united against Ahrana and her People. Even the words Duval used to describe the People of Ahrana was distasteful. 

Ivanoff called for a Government Meeting today and as he was walking to the Minister Hall for the meeting he stopped at the door and listened, he heard, "Duval, Xara, Military, Summit" and so on. So they think they know what this is about hmm he said to himself. He opened the door and the announcer stated: "Secretary General, Greggor Ivanoff!" Everyone stood at attention and Ivanoff walked to his Chair and looked at everyone around him and said, "At Ease, please sit." Everyone sat except for him, he stood to gather his thought and began talking:

I am sure that everyone in this room has been or was informed about the Speech Duval gave yesterday in the Session of the United States Legislature. I am also sure you are aware of the comments he has made towards our people and nation. During our Summit I was sure the things discussed would help our relations and I thought the Summit went very well, yet he has made a mockery of Ahranaian Diplomacy and has now stirred the Political Pot here in Ahrana with his recent comments. I am not sure exactly why the comments have been made or the reasoning's and I do not care to know them. 

Today I received a letter from President Duval to visit the United States of @Prymont, which I intend to do. Today the Congressional Houses will be debating a bill that was introduced yesterday by my Deputy Minister on Fishing Quotas, which is why he wishes to have a visit. Our number one priority has also been to preserve the nature around us and we have done a great job at doing so. Since the rise of the last Kingdom many parks, owned by the Government still to this day, have been created as Nature refuge, Wildlife Refuge and so on. Overall we have 50 total Refuge Lands under the Governments Authority and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Now our Political Problem here, the remarks made by President Duval has caused the Democratic Socialist Alliance to reappear from their banishment. They have been barred from all Political Affiliations and can never be part of any form of Government. The punishment for those who help give them seats in any Level of Government is severe and is carried out by the People's Court. Therefore I urge you all not to try anything to that level. Next Month I am calling a Supreme People's Assembly Session and all will attend. I will be placing a motion on the floor for debate and amending the Constitution about Minorities.

If any of you have an questions to give me now is the time.............alright then this Meeting of Government is done and over, thank you for your time.

As Ivanoff was walking to his Office his assistant, Ace, caught up with him and gave him a letter from the Intel Office for the Canamo Sea region. They had officially confirmed his Travel Plans to Prymont and would be able to leave at a moments notice. Now all he had to do was send a letter to Duval letting him know when to expect his arrival. He continued walking and was thinking to himself exactly how the DSA would try to make their way back into Government. Sadly he arrived to his office faster than he thought and then begun his reply letter to Duval.


2qiy6p5.jpgOffice of the Secretary General


President Duval,

I have read your recent letter and request and will say to you that I will take your offer to attend this with you, Ahrana has been proud about its Fishing Industry and its Regulations that have been in place since the first Modern Government. Currently we do have regulations on the Fishing Industry unlike your claims state but I would be more than happy to show you the steps we have taken to reduce the risk of "wiping the fish out".

Ahrana has to promoted Environmental Polices since the rise of the Socialist Federation, we Socialist are not Heavy Industrialists like many have experienced before. We are not those People, here in Ahrana we still have 50 Reservations owned by the Government that are Nature Reserves which I will explain more to you in person.

Furthermore, I will be flying out to the Untied States after the 3rd of May; currently I have to much on my plate to just brush it all aside to rush urgently to your Country for this Meeting. With the Founding Ceremony of the Confederation of Independent Socialists coming up and the other events involved with the Ceremony, it currently has me bogged down in my Office approving plans and making requests Official and such. Im also aware that the United States has also asked to an Observer in The Confederation which shows me that our relations have not fallen to far. Perhaps we could discus a few of your points and Polices before hand and then continue the discussion in the University.

 

With Respect and Sincerity,

a437mu.jpg Greggor Ivanoff, Secretary General of the Socialist Federation of Ahrana

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Secretary General,

I appreciate your swift response. It is promising to hear that our countries share a keen interest in environmentalism and preserving the natural world around us, and I believe that we can make significant progress when we meet on several key policies.

I understand that the current socialist government are working hard to promote environmental policies, and I'm sure that you're making steady progress. However, I also understand that the Socialist Federation are still integrating their policies and creating a country that they can be proud of after the disaster that was your takeover. It will take time for your country to recover, and the United States are happy to help in that process.

After having confirmed calendar dates with the University of Canastota, I will be happy to welcome you to the United States on Tuesday the 8th of May, 2018. I will gather relevant cabinet ministers to discuss policies of interest with you, and as such, you are welcome to bring ministers of your own to enlighten us of the Ahranaian way. Upon the conclusion of our discussion, it would be my honour to take you to the University of Canastota to allow you to meet researchers that are doing great work in the Canamo Sea, and to see how the United States is leading the way in environmentalism, both in our area and across the globe.

 

Regards,

George Duval
President of the United States of Prymont

[ @Ahrana ]

Edited by Prymont
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Ivanoff Base, SFR Ahran | 0300 AT

25 April 2018

The Teams that would be heading to the Southern Part of the Hellenic Rus were beginning their final checks and awaiting their Air lift to the area they were going to be. The Military HQ in Moskovo had named this Unit the International Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Aid Unit For Hellenic Rus. Overall their Mission is to bring Stability and Aid to the people in the South of HR.

The Government had recently sent FKI agents to make a secure landing site for all equipment and personal for the mission. They were given a week to prep the Ironcall Zone and the Outer Zone for the equipment. The FKI agents would join the team once everything had been recovered and prepped for movement. Why they just didn't drive the equipment to the Zone only is known by the Government.

The Military Compliment for the Peacekeepers is one Regiment from the Ahranaian Peoples Army along with three Platoons of Civil Engineers and two Platoons of Humanitarian Aid Personnel. With the men and women finishing their final checks the team was given a 5 minute warning before the plane would land.. The Unit got ready packed up their bags and lifted them on their shoulders and as soon as the Choppers landed they ran to load up.

After a quick fill up the Plane was sent  on their way to the Destination named Ironcall by the Ahranaian Military HQ. It would be a few hours before they arrived and would have to jump from the plane along with their equipment and vehicles. The men and women were in for a ride to the drop-zone due to a few rough patches of turbulence on their way their but ultimately the Unit was prepared to make the Drop when it was time.

 

0415 AT | Drop-zone: Ironcall | 25 April 2018

Soon time passed fast and the Unite was given a 5 Minute warning again, and then the planes Hatch opened and three men from the front of the plane begun unlatching the Vehicles from the planes deck. One by one the trucks were sucked out by the wind in their parachutes. Soon the trucks were gone and all that remained was the Unit.

The Unit Commander gave the order to make the jump and one by one the men and women jumped from the plane. As each jumped out the Unit Commander gave the green light for the other Planes with the rest of the equipment to send their payloads down as soon as they reach the outer drop-zone two miles from Ironcall. 

The Commander made the last jump from the Plane and gave a thumbs up to the Three men left they knew that the Unit had made their destination and that they should turn back now before anything bad happens. As they fell to the ground the team joined up with the FKI agents already there to make the rest of the Unit whole and made them ready to do whatever was need in the are.

About three minutes later the commander grouped with the Unit and made radio contact with the other two planes and got the conformation of the package delivery was a solid success. They made their way to the outer drop-zone to pick the rest up to begin their mission of Peace.

Edited by Ahrana
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OOC: Picks up from the bit in Part 1 that I left as a sort of cliffhanger cut. After this will be an epilogue, and summary of what we did and plan for the future in Hellenic Rus.


 

DEATH'S HEAD PART 4/4

Salonica Industrial Village | 0530hrs
24th January 2018
RED TEAM, SNOWMAN ACTUAL

 

Almost there.

Santiago and his band were but 300 metres from the Sarov Resistance Army lines, just across the avenue. Already, they were receiving sporadic fire support from SOAR and Sarov marksmen in rifle's range of their position, the snap and echo of their shots slicing the through the layer of steadily decreasing gunfire dogging them as they ran through the deserted streets.

The elements of Red Team and Santiago's own section had just narrowly made it out of the tunnels, where the insurgents had somehow been able to root them out and pursue, despite every prior assurance that the route they had planned for egress was undiscovered by the enemy.

Down to 5 men in his own section and 18 in Red Team, the ragtag band sprinted through the hash of abandoned apartment buildings and four-way intersections. Mercifully, they seemed to be putting distance between their pursuers as the incoming fire began to slowly, but surely trickle down in volume.

Eventually, all they could hear was their own boots on the asphalt, their own laboured panting, and then occasionally some fire far away in the distance.

Santiago called for a halt underneath a footbridge connecting two buildings. The unit set a round perimeter, taking knee behind cement traffic barriers and cars, muzzles trained in all directions.

Santiago himself took a knee and a deep breath, resisting the strong temptation to sag against a nearby wall. He motioned Red's team leader to him and reached for the map in his thigh pocket.

"Teniente, looking at those landmarks", began Santiago between pants and while gesturing to two taller buildings in the distance.

"That puts us around this block, just some 300 metres out of Sarov's line on avenue Sierra 2-2. We've got to cut through the apartments faster than this and make it to that line of buildings at the edge of Sierra 2-2. We take a breath now, muster our mérde and make that last push."

"Capitan, why can't Sarov just dispatch some QRF--", began the Teniente.

"Neg. All their elements are tied up in the assault on West Bank and holding their own lines. We cannot be certain but it seems that CoD just tried some sort of Hail Mary breakout pass. They're trying to reach us with recon but we have no ETA on that. We push through or die here."

The Teniente knew, just as Santiago did--that the jackals wouldn't let them off so easily.

 

---


 

SO/AR "FOB SALONICA" | 0530hrs
24th January 2018
KINGFISHER

Through his monitors and regular reports coming in, it seems that the combined Sarov-USPGF forces had made good progress towards West Bank HQ. Fighting had been fierce, with building to building firefights, counter-battery mortar barrages, and the trapped insurgent's last-ditch attempt to break out of the encirclement.

Sarov had pushed in under a heavy opening salvo of mortars, sending in the bulk of their mechanised forces in an attempt to seize key junctions and bridges. Their reconnaissance and sapper units had attempted to burn the insurgent strongpoints out with incendiaries, and dislodge defenders in the heavy cover of apartment low-rises but the insurgents had covered their floors in gravel and scuttled buildings that could have given the Sarov-USPGF forces with footholds or breachpoints. Improvised explosives wired in sumps just beside or underneath streets, anti-tank rockets and marksmen hidden in spiderholes like cellar windows had slowed the advance to an absolute crawl.

The losses were heavy, and the last casualty report held that an equivalent of two mechanised companies rendered combat-ineffective due to enemy action. Though eventually, the tide had turned for the coalition as Kingfisher had expected. It had only really been a matter of time before the insurgent mortars ran short of munitions to keep the Sarov equivalents on their toes.

Just after 0500, the Sarov mortars had opened up with creeping and saturation bombardments over the entire string of blocks between the coalition line and the West Bank HQ. Their heavy 120mm rounds effectively blew apart any but the most hardened cellar and basement in the area--turning the neighbourhood and factory district buildings into shard-spires or singular walls of masonry left standing.

It was through the ash and miasma smoke of explosive residue that the coalition advanced. All that was left was the HQ compound, with scarcely less than a battalion of demoralised fighters holding out. It was only a matter of time--expedited by a few bombardments that would see the coalition victorious.

Kingfisher's attention now turned towards one last loose end. Santiago had surfaced, he knew. But the Capitan's forces were headed towards their secondary exfiltration point, towards the tip of Sarov lines and further away from any unit the SOAR could spare. 

Kingfisher sat down. Whatever was going in East Bank was a bloody mess. Nobody could give solid reports on what was going down, and it seemed that Santiago's radio had a bad transmitter. For all Kingfisher knew, Santiago's mangled corpse could already be lying in a gutter somewhere.

 

---


 

Salonica Industrial Village | 0600hrs
24th January 2018
SNOWMAN ACTUAL

 

"KEEP GOING DON'T STOP!", shouted Santiago, half gasping.

The Capitan found himself bringing up the tail of the small fireteam charging down a backstreet-- their rearguard having caught a ricochet to the neck off a lamppost two blocks back.

That the insurgents had given up the chase had been a foolish hope. The group had been no more than 100 metres away from safety when they ran into them.

Predicting their movements and disengaging to manoeuvre around into positions around an overpass, the insurgents opened up on their flank mercilessly and at spitting range, cutting down several men from Red Team in raking enfilade fire.

SOAR had quickly ducked into alleys and side streets, breaking up into fireteams in the confusion.

Losing their original route, the scattered teams ducked into every crevice they could, stumbling towards the general direction of avenue Sierra 2-2 through any covered route.

As the man in front of him made the corner and set to cover Santiago, a sudden jolt--like a bolt of pure force, shot through Santiago's leg.

Before he could utter a curse, he lost his footing and ploughed into the pavement. The skin of his cheek burned as it was grated through the rough cement, his legs a tangle behind him and his carbine clattering discarded beside him. Numb in the first few seconds, a sudden lance of searing pain burst through Santiago's thigh.

Not a moment had passed when another force whipped his head to one side. Air filled his mouth from two places as he gasped for breath, his mouth filling with hot blood from the hole now in his left cheek. 

The man crouched at the end of the street covering him was to his feet at an instant and sprinting in Santiago's direction.

The rifleman helped--half-dragging Santiago to his feet, his rifle held in one hand, spraying desperate bursts down the opposite end of the backstreet, where the silhouettes darted.

Hot brass, ejected from the man's rifle pelted against Santiago's face as the two staggered along, the Capitan trying his best to run with his hamstring burning and oozing into his pant sleeve.

Mere feet away from the corner, he felt the man supporting him crumple, hot flecks of damp matter coming down on from the gap in the man's skull.

The two collapsed on the pavement.

Santiago blacked out as his jaw hit the curb.

 


 

There was a ringing in Santiago's ears. The sound began to build again slowly.

There was a field of muddled light, he couldn't make much out.

Drumbeats. Pulsing against his skull.

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.

The man, clad in mismatched BDUs, and scrimped together webbing looked at the fallen Capitan, on the ground beside a man with his brains streaking the pavement for a few feet. Bloodied leg, a hole the size of a golf ball in his face. 

Santiago shifted slowly onto his back, his hands trying to grasp the cement pavement.

He heard distant shouting. The man in front of him, without breaking the laser-like stare fixed on the wounded man, shouted back.

Santiago pushed himself slowly against the wall of the corner building, next to a wide rain gutter. The man did nothing but keep his rifle levelled.

The man said something in Russian.

Santiago didn't understand, his ears were still aching and ringing. The radio on his rig crackled for a moment--filling the air with static and a few broken words in Common.

The man spoke again, this time sharper with an accompanying hand motion. He wanted the radio.

Santiago lay there, back against the wall, keeping his eyes downward and staring at the body of his fallen man supine on the pavement.

The man strode forwards and thrust the steel muzzle against the wounded Capitan's dirt-streaked temple, all the while growling in Russian. He reached down manhandling Santiago's rig with one hand and keeping his rifle levelled with the other.

When Santiago looked up, their eyes met. A dangerous jolt, like the spike of two opposite currents, ran through the glare.

Jerking the trigger in reflex, the rifle went off.

The thunder-clap discharge tore into Santiago's ear as he raised his forearm and sent it crashing against the barrel of the rifle.

Santiago curled his core and swept both his legs against the man's ankle, sending the man crashing down beside him.

In an instant, Santiago had rolled on top of the man, using his size and bringing his thicker mass down on his opponent.

His fingers curled around the man's thin neck, thumbs working to crush the pipe of cartilage. The man's surprise widened eyes darted around in their sockets, his arms and legs flailing under Santiago's bulk, hunched over him and dripping hot blood and spittle from the terrible rip in his face. 

He heard the shouting, the same as earlier, closer now. Boot falls on pavement clattering closer towards him, somewhere around the corner.

Santiago loosened his grip, one hand coming off the swollen neck. The struggling man took his chance.

Wrestling the Capitan onto the ground beside the gutter, the man now stood triumphantly, their roles reversed as the Capitan felt his head growing heavy, every vein in his body screaming and tensing at lack of air, his head pounding, the roots of his teeth growing in pain as if they were preparing to burst from their sockets.

Scant moments passed, the SOAR Capitan was unable to fight back, his elbows pinned underneath the insurgent's knees.

But when the look on Santiago's face changed, from one of desperation and pain--to one of near serenity, the man at first assumed defeat... feeling secure in his victory until a sharp metal ping resounded from underneath him.

Distracted, the insurgent's stance faltered, Santiago's elbow coming loose from the pinning knee. The Capitan, in one heaving final effort, brought his two right knuckles into the man's nose, smashing it like a chestnut.

He threw the stunned man off like a sack of potatoes, just as half a dozen insurgents came sprinting around the corner.

Santiago rolled away from the fragmentation grenade on the ground--taken when he loosened his grip earlier and which had distracted his opponent as the safety lever was released.

He fell hard into the gutter as darkness overtook his world.

 

---


OOC: Just an epilogue to come up next and wrap this all up.

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Iskander Yegerov exuded confidence as he paced through Courtmarsh House, acting just as if he owned the place. Yegerov had gained respect in his home country by being a confident, somewhat arrogant man, using his position of power and natural aplomb to rise through the ranks and make himself a very important man. The motherland had come to depend on Yegerov for lucrative trade deals that a normal politician wouldn't be able to score, or for settling matters with aggravated nations that even the head of state would've struggled with. 

His powers of negotiation and assertiveness were no use when the Circle of Death stormed the Hellenic Russian government buildings and firebombed the capital, killing thousands and crippling the city. Iskander had wasted no time in high-tailing it to the car park and speeding out of the country, finding peace and safety in the neighbouring Germanic Staat. While he watched his country go to sh*t and his savings disappear overnight, Yegerov contemplated what his future held. For months, he hid in Greater Serbia, collaborating with their politicians to provide Hellenic Russian intelligence on foreign interests and advising here and there. It wouldn't take long for the Prymontians to get involved, as they sent their men to take over and rid the country of it's terrorist vermin. 

Contact was expected. As Prymont worked on rebuilding Salonica and implementing foundations for a new government, they'd need to collect as many qualified people as they could for government positions. Many politicians from the Hellenic Rus were still in hiding across central Argis, taking refuge in Ahrana, Greater Serbia, Poland-Lithuania and the Eurofuhrer. Slowly, the United States had been tracking them down and making contact, but were being ignored. Hard propaganda had reinforced the mindset that Prymont were evil and were not to be listened to. Yegerov knew better than that, and when a certain Defence Minister got in touch with him, he'd make sure to pay attention.

Prymontian tax payer money had paid for his flight to New Halsham, for his five star hotel, and for his luxury gourmet meals. It'd paid for new designer suits, new watches and sunglasses, and a rental KAP K2. For three weeks, Yegerov had settled in to life in New Halsham, as per his initial agreement with Grey, and now it was time for business. At last, he'd been summoned to Grey's office in Courtmarsh House, where the two were to discuss the future of the Canamo's crippled country.

"Iskander! It's good to see you again. Please, take a seat," Grey gestured to the chair before him, while he called through for his secretary to bring refreshments. "Thank you for coming at such short notice. I do believe it's time we finally had this discussion."

"Of course." Yegerov sat back in his seat, enjoying the cup of tea that'd been handed to him as he offered a pleasant grin for his host. While it would seem that Grey was in control, it was most definitely the other way around. Yegerov had what Grey needed to make the Hellenic Rus takeover come together, and he'd have to play his cards perfectly. This was one game of poker that Grye couldn't afford to lose.

"I've been in touch with everyone. Komarov, Balashov, Federov, Vasiliev, Abramowitz - none of them are interested. They want to see the sh*thole rot. There's nothing else I can do. I need you to talk to them, get them on our side."

"Our side? What makes you say that?

"If that's the case, I'll have you sent back to Serbia and you can join your cronies in watching your country disintegrate. I'd have thought that you of all people would want to help."

"You know what I want, Hunter. Without that, I'm not going to lift a finger for you."

"And you know I can't give you that. If I go back on my promise, we both have a very dangerous man that wants our heads! Why can't you settle for Foreign Minister again, or perhaps be his deputy?" Weeks ago, Varg Alme had been promised Premier of The Hellenic Rus. It'd been written in a legally binding contract, one that forced Grey and President Duval to rig the future elections and see Alme win by a comfy margin, granting him free reign over an entire nation. Yegerov had since hinted that he wanted full power, and knew that the Hellenic Russians would legitimately vote him in. Grey was now stuck between a rock and a hard place.

"Who do you think is best fit to run a country? A man that knows it better than no other, or a fool who sells drugs to the weak and poor?"

"I've done everything you've asked of me so far. Is this how you repay me?"

"I never asked for you to do anything, Hunter. You brought this upon yourself." The Defence Minister sat back in defeat, wiping his brow with a handkerchief and letting out a long, sad sigh. Taking over a country had seemed so easy at first. How had he let himself be fooled like that?

"Look, I can put you in contact with Varg, see if you two can come to an agreement. But for now, can we talk?"

"You have my attention." Together, Alme and Yegerov would make a formidable team, but it was more a question of whether they would want to work together. Regardless, Iskander wanted to hear what Grey would propose. Perhaps his offer would be worth letting go of the hopes of being Premier.

"I need you to rally up whoever you can find. Get them on our side, have them send whatever help they can to revive the country. If we want to have a functioning government, we need to have politicians, and The Hellenic Rus once had plenty. It may be a barebones cabinet for a first few years, but it's better than nothing. Prymontians don't want to get involved. I need your people."

"If they don't want to get involved, they don't have to. Who am I to force them? I have no power now." Yegerov revelled in the power he was yielding, leading Grey on for everything he was worth. The Russian would have what he wanted handed to him.

"You're being a pain in the arse and you know it. If they'll listen to anyone, it's you. You were the voice of reason, the voice of leadership, before the Circle of Death ran amok. Please, please, talk some sense into them. They're people that we need on our side. If we want to inspire the people with confidence, we need their faces, their words. It can't be done without you." That was it. That's what Yegerov wanted to hear. Weakness. Grey was at his lowest point; he was asking a firm socialist for help, and that empowered Yegerov greatly. The man nodded in agreement, happy with what he'd been given.

"Put me in touch with them and I'll see what I can do. I'll make no promises, and I'll have you hold me by no strings, but I'll try."

The conversation didn't progress much further. Grey pushed for promises, with Yegerov forever refusing. Eventually, they settled on Yegerov's terms, and he left the office as confident as he'd entered. Of course, he'd have his politicians wrapped around his little finger in no time. Grey knew that too, but they weren't under Grey's control. If Yegerov's unofficial terms weren't met, he'd have the final piece of the puzzle in the palm of his hand. While the United States were spending billions in resurrecting The Hellenic Rus, one lonely man from the fallen country was in control of the entire operation.

Edited by Prymont
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Pokrovsk Town Aid Shelter | 0616hrs
27th August 2018
Pokrovsk
The Hellenic Rus

 

Seven months had passed since the Pokrovsk massacre. Four hundred had died within the span of two hours, and yet their story went untold. Since the collapse of their country, the locals had spent their days living in fear, hoping that the Circle of Death would stay by the big cities, and that their savings would be enough until the government recovered. When the government dissolved, their savings vanished into thin air. Usually this wouldn't be a problem, as the town usually propped itself up on the vast fields surrounding the urban district, but in the middle of winter, they had nothing. When the Prymontian soldiers arrived, hope was restored. With them they brought food, clothes, medicine, and building supplies. Pokrovsk would be okay.

That fear was only heightened to unbearable levels when the USPGF opened fire on the starving, desperate people. Families were quite literally torn apart. Buildings were critically damaged, supplies were wasted, and what for? The soldiers had failed to bring peace and harmony to the town. They'd only succeeded in instilling a deep, instinctual fear of the Prymontian armed forces into the locals. They'd promised happiness, but had only delivered horror.

The soldiers responsible for the massacre were quietly dismissed with pay, away from the public eye. Non-disclosure agreements were signed by all relevant troops to protect the truth of what happened on January 15th. Some went on to find office work, others forged a new career, and a few volunteered. Regardless, they continued to live happy lives. None of this meant anything for those living in Pokrovsk though, those that'd experienced the harrowing truth of the Hellenic Russian takeover and had to pay the price of freedom. They didn't benefit from the dismissals, from the silence, from the fake truths told to them by their self-proclaimed saviours. They continued to live each day in the fear that it was their last.

While they cowered in their homes as the USPGF patrolled the town in tanks and on foot, the rest of the country was slowly eased back into life. Salonica was rebuilt with Prymontian money, ensuring that their culture was embedded deep into the heart of the country. An interim government, selected by United States officials, ran the country until the October elections. Point Kanamoi, home to some of the largest oil and natural gas deposits in the nation, having been defunct for so long, was now being picked up by Nervei Energy who were updating the technologies and expected to restart operations by November. The southern section of the country, which had been largely neglected until recently, was being cleared of straggling Circle of Death pockets and reintroduced to the north. The United States were stamping their mark on the territory, with seemingly no opposition whatsoever.

Anyone that even thought about rebelling and leaking the truth would have to deal with a tsunami of secret services, armed opposition, and silent midnight abductions. @Iverica's SO/AR networks were so deeply entwined within the country, that people were unable to move without it being known. The Sarov Resistance Army, controlled in equal amounts by Iverica and the United States, worked for their almighty overlords to quell any disputes and keep people in line. Varg Alme's thugs, the Isbrytere, ruled the cities, doing the tasks that the police were too afraid - or unequipped - to do. Combined, these three forces ensured that the country ran smoothly enough on the ground, allowing the politicians to do their work and set the government up for the full Prymontian takeover. 

The citizens of Pokrovsk were constantly reminded of this harsh, unwanted reality. Every Monday morning, they would queue up at the aid shelter in the town square for their weekly rations, which complimented their criminally low wages and allowed them to feed their families. The town square had been colourfully decorated in the new Prymontian Rus flag, an imitation of the USP flag using the Hellenic Rus' yellow, black, and white colour scheme. Presidential candidates plastered large posters across the town, urging that they be voted for. Soldiers guarded the large tent, their guns held idly before them as their eyes scanned the crowds for trouble. Discreet CCTV cameras had been hidden across the town, keeping a watchful eye on the populace while reminding them that nothing they ever did was private. 

Despite the wrongdoings of the USPGF, the men and women of Pokrovsk were made to feel like they were in the wrong. Unfortunately, this was the case in many towns up and down the country, where their hardships and difficult times had only been worsened by the presence of their eastern neighbours. Strict press regulations kept the media heavily censored, maintaining the Prymontian story and nothing else. Just as intended, the United States were portrayed as the heroes of the hour. Soon enough, the country would be theirs.

 

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The Hawk's Office | 0913hrs
7th November 2018
Salonica
The Prymontian Rus

 

Iskander Yegerov's first four days in power had been surprisingly quiet. The first weekend had been easy work - vote counters had been forced out of the election stations and replaced by Sarov soldiers, who altered the votes in support of Yegerov and the National Rus Party. He'd met with advisors and his potential cabinet to discuss what would become the 'official' figures, to censor news outlets, and to write their own history. He'd spoken to the crowds on Monday, established the Prymontian Rus News Network, and began laying the foundations of his plans to revive the country. Tuesday had been a visit to the canal, which would likely become the biggest contributor to the country's economy in the coming years, and had met with Emil Maslow, the Southern Representative, on the way. All of that had been easy work. On the fifth day, he'd receive his first challenge.

It came in the form of a phone call, directly to his personal mobile. Work calls were strictly redirected to his secretary, who would then prioritise and have Yegerov call them back at a more suitable time. Anything straight to his phone was family, or something more important, and the number calling wasn't that of his wife. Hesitantly he answered, listened to the few works spoken, and hung on to the constant beep once the line went dead. His first move was calling Varg Alme. It would be wrong to call the Prymontian his right hand man, or campaign funder, or critic silencer. Rather, Alme was his equal, although with more money and less official authority. They'd engineered his election success together, and would rebuild together. It was only right to have him in the office to discuss this critical revelation.

Once Varg had arrived and was comfortable, Iskander replayed the call for him. Intelligence showed that the number's coordinates lined up with an @Iverican SSO listening camp near Kedrovy, just a few miles from the capital. For over a year, the SSO had worked with Prymontian forces to completely lock the former Hellenic Rus down, establishing communication camps across the country to intercept every phone call, every email, every letter sent and received. Now the Ivericans had officially withdrawn from the country, but the SSO remained, acting as a back-up plan until Yegerov was ready to implement his own countermeasures. Thankfully, they'd caught this fateful email, and were poised to act immediately.

"Call them back. Tell them not to bother. I'll handle it." Alme's voice was silky smooth, betraying both the severity of the situation and the many decades he'd spent filling his lungs with the best imported tobacco. 

"What are you going to do, kill the @Fulgistani's?" 

"I'll do you one better. I'll kill the reporter. Have his head delivered to their camp."

"That's avoiding the problem a bit, don't you think?" Yegerov would much rather have the recipients killed directly, eliminating the threat and sending the Fulgistani's home early. Keeping people that knew about Pokrovsk alive was very dangerous business.

"Have faith, Iskander. We can watch the airports, make sure they don't leave - or don't bring anything in. Have SSO keep tabs on them too, make sure they don't spread the footage."

"What if they send someone to investigate? Once the snow clears, it'll be easy to find the graves."

"That won't be for months. We have time to cover it up. Build houses there, or some barracks. Make it so they can't get to the graves without going through us. How is Thunderstorm coming along?"

"Slowly. The Prymontians are reluctant to fund it too much because people will start questioning where the money is going, and with the elections coming up they're essentially sending nothing. Most of the burden is on us."

"I'll send some help their way." Operation Thunderstorm had been the allocated code name for the nuclear development program in the frozen Argic Ocean island of Stjørdalsstad. Very basic developments had been inherited from the former Hellenic Russian engineers, much against the agreements following the Argic Missile Crisis. Despite funding development for almost two decades, the warheads created by the Hellenic Rus were very primitive and lacking. It was a start, however, and the Prymontians would not waste that opportunity. The WARD system, which fights off incoming missiles with incredible accuracy, defends the homeland, but serves no further purpose. Something more was needed as a deterrent, and with the ever rising tensions in central Argis, the United States had to be one of the top powers.

It would take time for the weapons to be ready for use. Not only was the project currently being starved of funding, but it was being worked on by a skeleton team of unprepared scientists and engineers in harsh, unforgiving conditions. Keeping such a controversial, dangerous project in isolated territory was for the best, but it wasn't without major drawbacks. Premier Yegerov questioned the future of the operation if Duval failed to win the Prymontian election. The United States had far more money to funnel through than Alme did, and so the entire operation's future rested on their uncertain shoulders. Yegerov had dropped hints of helping to rig the mainland elections too, although they were vehemently rejected. The people of Prymont deserved better than corrupted elections, apparently.

"I hope you're not thinking of threatening to use them. Perhaps we can reveal the operation to the world when we're ready, through a tangled web of leaks and lies, letting them know what we have, but actually pointing it towards them? That'd be suicide, even with TRIDENT on our side."

"I bet they're working on something. You can never be too safe. Having Thunderstorm on our side gives us a great advantage. The effects would be devastating. I doubt anyone would dare challenge us."

"That'd risk... everything. We're still leaning on the US, we can't risk them disowning us just because you want to exercise your power trip and point some nukes at Fulgistan."

"You know what's on the table. They know about Pokrovsk. We can't have that getting out. Let me take care of it."

Varg Alme had grown to be something of a feared legend in the United States. His time as a crime lord had hardened him exponentially, shoving him into the worst of scenarios and bringing him out stronger and grittier. If someone crossed him in his younger years, they could expect a sloppy yet gruesome gunfight, their bullet-riddled body abandoned in some derelict dockyard in Canastota. As he aged and matured, his methods become more refined. Arrogant drug users reckoned they could tackle him thirty years ago, but now, even the most aspiring henchman quaked in his boots at the mention of Alme's name. The man had far outgrown the small confines of Prymont, and was now enjoying stretching his legs overseas.

Unfortunately, Iskander Yegerov had little faith in him. Sure, he was one of the most feared drug lords in Argis, but there was another steep learning curve for him to endure and adapt to in the world of politics. Throwing money at nukes and pointing them haphazardly at your enemies was not how Yegerov wanted to develop his country. And yet, he too feared his counterpart.

The Sarov were now on Iskander's side, and would do his bidding, but Varg had brought hordes of mindless henchmen to the Prymontian Rus. Anything the Sarov could do, the Isbrytere could do better. They had more money, more expertise, more support, and what they were lacking in size, they were recuperating every day through new recruits. Taking advantage of the Alme coin would do the Prymontian Rus well for now, but when the time came to dispose of the loose canon, Yegerov would have to tread very carefully.

Eventually, there would grow a certain coldness between the United States and Fulgistan. But for now, Yegerov had a cold man to deal with right beside him.

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The Hawk's Office | 1109hrs
2nd December 2018
Salonica
The Prymontian Rus

 

 

OPERATION OVERLORD: PART II

To say that the Premier had been swamped with work would be an understatement. The start of his term had been easy enough, but as his country began to rebuild and rise from the ashes, the work had poured in. Of course, he'd been overwhelmed due to his lack of forethought. Organising a cabinet was not an initial priority, but once Yegerov began dreaming about the piles of paperwork that towered on his desk and how he couldn't open his email inbox without crashing the website, he realised something had to be done. A cabinet was haphazardly thrown together, to be reconsidered and refined at a later date. Iskander didn't care for efficiency or doing something properly - he cared about getting the work out of his office.

Obviously this band-aid solution didn't work, and the issues and requests were still coming in faster than he could delegate them out. It was almost as if a government that'd been thrown together with little consideration, made out of a country that was on its knees and already half dead, wasn't going to function properly straight away. That never occurred to the Premier, who was spending most of his days yelling at his secretary after another pile of papers had fallen from his desk, scattering across his lush carpet and making an awful sound whenever he stepped on them. He'd almost started a fire after carelessly discarding a cigarette, which finally prompted more action. Another cabinet review left him satisfied, at least for the time being.

Now he wasn't arguing with his secretary, he had the time to argue with Varg Alme, the powerful but shady Prymontian businessman that funded his campaign and made his problems go away. Yesterday they'd argued about a high rise block of apartments that was being constructed across the road. Apparently the architecture was outdated and careless, and ruined Varg's ideal aesthetic for the city. Iskander couldn't care less about what the buildings looked like. Today, it had been the Canamo Canal, one of the few recurring topics of heated debate in the Hawk's Office. Alme had argued that the project was taking too long - Yegerov didn't care how long the canal took, as long as he wasn't the one funding it. 

"Just leave it to the Prymontians, it'll be done eventually," the Premier muttered dismissively, adjusting his glasses as he dove into the next email. This one was from an angry mother in Pokrovsk who had lost her husband in the USPGF's careless slaughter and demanded compensation. He'd have to remind his secretary to filter anything containing 'Pokrovsk' straight into spam.

"Leave it to the Prymontians? After the Battle of Salonica, why would you want to leave anything to the Prymontians?"

"Varg, drop it. It's their project, it's their money, it's their problem. Where do our funds come from? Your pockets aren't endless, as much as you'd like to believe they are, and the national vault was ransacked by the Circle of Death bastards. We don't have the money!" An awkward silence followed Yegerov's outburst. He called through to his secretary to bring refreshments as he leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. Alme lit a cigar.

"What's this?" He asked, picking up some paper from the top of one of many teetering towers. In his hands were satellite imagery, depicting a farmstead in the southern country. It wasn't much on its own, but coupled with an email...

"Here we are," the Premier retrieved a packet from another pile, handing it to his counterpart. Varg was holding the first documents of Operation Overlord, the brainchild of Thor Rønning and Arkady Gorshkov, two commanders high up in the Sarov Army, that would eventually overthrow the reclusive Circle of Death leader. Alme shuffled the documents between his hands, skimming the contents before focusing on an email sent by Commander Rønning. He held his cigar in one hand, its thick smoke rising lazily in the air.

"Have you read this? Properly?"

"Of course. It's just more bullshit from the Sarov. They'll say and do anything for a penny."

"It does sound like they're certain that this is where Medvedova is hiding. This could be the end, Iskander. This could be a good success story."

"You don't believe them do you? Surely not?" Iskander's voice was filled with doubt, verging on ridicule almost, as he questioned the thoughts of his opposite. The Sarov were a bunch of common Ruskies that could handle a gun. It was beyond their comprehension to locate the leader of a terrorist group, never mind successfully eliminate him.

"If it's just a penny like you say, it's worth a shot isn't it? I'll pay for it. They're only asking for food, ammunition and fuel, they don't want the world."

The Premier sighed, pulling a fresh handkerchief from his pocket and dabbing at his furrowed brow. Leaving the Sarov to execute a mission devised by their own minds sounded like a bad joke, but if it wasn't coming out of the public pocket... 

"Go on then. If you're paying. But if this leads to the return of the Circle, your head is on the line, not mine!"


 

Nedrefelt Farm | 1600hrs
4th December 2018
Lozovre
Southern Prymontian Rus

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"Can you see anything?"

"Yes... there's some movement in the barn. I think there's some light or something. And the farmstead is fully lit too. I can see shadows in the windows."

"Really? Let me see."

"No! It's night and it's snowing. Of course I can't f*cking see anything!"

"Are you sure? Those are my best binoculars. Grandfather used them in the Argic War. Maybe you're using them the wrong way round."

"You're pissing me off Roman. If you don't shut up I'll shoot you instead of Medvedova."

"Ermakov! Zuyev! Shut up and concentrate!" The squabbling soldiers settled down at their lieutenant colonel's command. It'd been a tiresome day for the Prymontian Rus Sarov Army, and now they were taking their frustrations out on one another. Petty internal conflicts were the result of a long, arduous day of hiking, after the convoy's last snowplough had succumbed to rust. With the trucks unable to press through the thick snow that covered the road that passed Nedrefelt Farm, the squadron were forced to make the rest of the journey on foot. They'd traipsed miles through a heavy blanket of snow, their khakis sodden and their boots flooded, before setting up camp a kilometre from the farmstead. They'd nestled themselves amongst a small wood, and while the land was fairly flat, there was a slight elevation that gave them an advantage, albeit with negligible gains. Privates Gregory Ermakov and Roman Zuyev had been placed on surveillance, and were not enjoying it one bit.

"Do you see anything though? Seriously?"

"Roman I've already told you, I can't see shit."

The snow had been bad all day, falling thick and fast to coat the ground, but now it was worsening and fears arose of a blizzard. Any opportunity to eliminate the head of a terror organisation that's plagued an entire country for years was to be seized, but perhaps a bit of forward thinking would've led to some better planning. With this weather, it was highly unlikely that Medvedova and his men would move out anyway.

Further back in the woods, tents were already being erected and the next phase of the operation was being refined. Major General Arkady Gorshkov was taking command of the operation, reporting directly back to General Rønning who remained in Fort Sarov. Both men had an idea of how the operation would pan out, but until they could get a clear look at the farmstead with their own eyes, planning ahead was near enough impossible. After all, they weren't an advanced military with billions of Prynds in funding and the latest technology at their disposal. Instead, they were a bunch of reformed quasi-communists that knew how to pull a trigger.

Major General Gorshkov had five hundred men at his disposal, pulled from points around the country, and the full support of his superior. Soldiers travelling from the south would surround the farm from their end, closing off the road - although the snow was doing that anyway - and ruling out any obvious escape routes. A rough draft of the plan was to just circle the farm and storm the remnants of the Circle from all angles, although they were unsure what tricks Medvedova and his men held up their sleeve. Procrastinating would get them nowhere either; if they waited too long, they were sure to be discovered and their element of surprise would be out of the window. They had to act fast, although Gorshkov wasn't quite sure what to do.

He up and left the tent, taking a stroll to the edge of their cover where two soldiers had been placed to watch over the farmstead for any movement and to gauge the playing field, although Gorshkov was beginning to realise how difficult that would be. "Men, any progress?"

Zuyev peered over his shoulder to see who was disturbing them, and immediately stood to attention after seeing the rank on Gorshkov's name tag.

"The f*ck do you think? Open your eyes," Ermakov grumbled dismissively, his eyes planted against the binoculars.

"My eyes are open, Private. Try opening yours."

Ermakov pulled the binoculars from his face and scrambled to stand up once he recognised who was speaking to him. He cursed himself under his breath as he brought his hand up to salute, fighting against his own balance after his rapid rise had brought on a bout of dizziness.

"I'm sorry, sir. There's nothing... even if it wasn't snowing, it'd be too dark to see at all," Ermakov explained, his hands trembling as he awaited a bollocking.

"I see," Gorshkov nodded, holding his hand out for the binoculars and taking a look for himself. "Hopeless. We'll have to wait for sunrise before we make our next move. Keep watching boys." The superior held the binoculars out for Ermakov and could see the relief flooding across his face. Despite their new official name and the fact that they were a genuine military entity, these men were still just that - regular men, plucked from a deprived country that they sought to defend. They hadn't undergone years of rigorous training, and yet they were doing a mighty fine job of cleansing their home and making themselves proud. The circumstances were against them, and Gorshkov knew that. He was in the same boat. They were all in the same boat. While hurling abuse at a young lad would do Gorshkov's stress levels good for five minutes, what would it ultimately achieve? He'd tear up his team on the very first day of their most important mission yet. 

Gorshkov didn't know what the future held for his men. It was likely that many of them would be massacred by the remaining terrorists, who would attack like a cornered cat, but he needed them united if he wanted to win. If there was one thing Arkady was sure of, it was that he didn't want to lose.

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