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      Hello new member   02/03/2018

      Welcome to Europa. This site is part of the region of Europa in the online game NationStates. The region of Europa is a diverse community of nations, with a wide range of political and ideological values, working together through various institutions and alliances - at least when they're not threatening to go to war with each other. Whether you want to play it safe with a liberal democracy, set up a communist regime, or rule your citizens with an iron fist and the threat of turning them into dog food, Europa is a great region to play in. As one of the oldest regions in the game, everybody who's anybody wants to try their hand at ruling their own country right here in Europa. Just head on over to the Forum and have a read through the sticky threads. If you're curious about how all of this work, we've included some helpful links to get you started. A good place to start is our Hitchhickers Guide to Europa. Roleplayers will be glad to see our honest and fair RP rules. Check out our map versions and discover how to apply. Experiencing problem with this website? Our helpdesk is always open. Have fun! -- The Europans Team

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"This can't wait any longer. You've heard the news?"

"I have, pressures are mounting straight from the top. The diplomatic situation could get tenuous. The world up and threw the cards in the air, where the aces land is up to what we do in the next hours. Decorum and flowers go out the window."

"Terror groups are all around us, I understand this perfectly, but still, shouldn't this be a job for the SSO?"

Capo-General of Iverica's Armed Service, Ferran-Arnau Macharius halted suddenly in the deserted gallery, located deep within the bowels of Monttaco Mountain Command. 

"Minister... with respect. The landscape has already changed. Terror groups? The world wakes, her wings, both right and left are flexing--and the edges are sharp. Go far enough in either direction and what shape do you have? A horseshoe, with both ends about to cross. No, we can't be appeasers here, we must pre-empt the coming front."

The ageing, lined face of Iverica's Minister of Defence, Ricardo Ibanes dropped a fraction.

"If needs must."

"That they do, Minister."


January 22, 2018- 0300

Somewhere above the Verde Sea

An impromptu message to some of the world's most powerful military leaders was in no way keeping with the niceties of upper-brass standards, but in Macharius' (and no doubt in many other) books, pragmatism superceded formality.

Planned in secret for many months, the fruits of cooperation between 5 nations from three continents now sat inside the briefcase at Macharius' feet. He would be representing Primo Deitorr, and the entirety of the Executive Ministry for this meeting, at an undisclosed venue that his Mil-spec'ed S-1011 Trestrell now rocketed towards, escorted by a flight of the 12th Fighter Group's TA-201 Aguila

Having gone over the document dubbed  "The Tricontinental Defence Treaty" , just minutes ago, he knew that the leadership of assembled nations would have a long way to go, easing the public into the idea, securing the confidence of Military branch heads, acquiring the necessary funding pledges from each potential member, and most importantly, securing legitimacy in the eyes of the servicepersons that would backbone the alliance.

Most of the planning had taken places over secure links and covert meetings, every once in a while highlighted with state visits and drop careful hints to the press so as to ease public familiarity with the idea of a mutual defence pact. The gears had shifted. Emergent nations were coming out of isolation, as Iverica had not too long ago. A few allies that still could be counted on remained, the rest lost to disaster or revolutionary fire. It was important, that with the threat of evergrowing terrorist fringe groups, and wild-card states, that the few capable of a mutual, friendly, and communicable will for co-existence in the New World band together arm-in-arm against the entropy of a tumultuous, suddenly-shifting landscape.

Together with the remainder, the Iverican Government had been working on such a machine for that express purpose. Leaders from@Andalla,  @Girkmand, @Prymont, and @Variota had been contacted just yesterday for a meeting, this time, in person and all business, no cameras, no red carpet, just a priority meeting in a neutral location.

The idea was to sign before signing. A pact to make before public disclosure, so if--nay--when the New Age came coasting through with all its menace and rows of teeth, there waiting--cocked in grip--would be the three sharp points of a Trident.

OOC: THE TREATY:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/18Fw2I7Aps79jG0srx25xLUFnDeMIctOXWFYsgqSLMS0/edit?usp=sharing

OOC 2: A Pike is a fish, btw... Idk, maybe some people don't know what a damn Pike is okay

Edited by Iverica
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January 22, 2018- 0900 IST

SSO GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, INTREIMOR

 

"Ah, Ricardo. Come on, come in."

The duty watchman shut the door behind Defence Minister Ricardo Ibanes. The room was lit in an almost chiaroscuro scheme, the light from the window to the side came in narrow white bands streaking diagonally across the room. The lamp of the desk added to the effect, illuminating the surface of the wide antique piece in a narrow and directed beam, all in all creating an almost dizzying effect of contrast that put a confusing array of light and shadow across the man seated at the end of the room.

In front of him, behind his immaculately organised mahogany desk, was the figure of a man in his early 50's. Salt and pepper hair, still a full head and groomed in a way that vaguely reminded Ricardo of actor Jorge Clouní. The lined face beneath it was one adorned with a pair of chilly grey eyes, which created an uncomfortable contrast with the wide, dimpled, genial grin that spread across a face which could have been considered welcoming enough in appearance to be paternal.

Despite his own seniority, Ricardo felt a certain air which radiated out of the seated man's look, manner, and posture. An almost arrogant familiarity, just polite enough to escape disdain, but forceful enough to suggest a depth behind the facade, one which could swallow a man like the undertow of the Thalassan currents.

"Director Bonda", addressed Ricardo, striding over to the seated figure.

The man rose, beams of light flitting off his silhouette. He uncoiled himself from his seat in a single smooth motion which conjured images of a krait rising from the grass. A single slat of light came to rest on his eyeline. The face, now sans the grin, was all stare.

The two men shook. Ricardo's hand came to meet a surprisingly gentle grip.

"I'm here about the memo Jaime", said Ricardo as he sat down.

"Of course, Defence Minister", Bonda leaned into his chair and clasped his hands together

"The so called "Circle of Death " splinter groups. The cases you sent me... movement in the Argic coasts and the Sakspati Sea. The most concerning of which is that your analysts conclude that they are planning a hijacking? Why hasn't the SSO acted? You've obviously invited me here to talk about this--so please, enlighten me."

"Ricardo, I have a killteam at the ready right now. We could just pick up this telephone, give them the green light right this minute, and the skiffs they plan to use for the hijacking will go under the water."

Ricardo opened his mouth to interject. 

"-But...", continued the Director-General of the SSO. "There is one thing I'd like you to consider before we make any move."

"Ricardo, you've discussed TRIDENT with me before. I gave you my full support with ExecMin. I've helped it every little way I could", Bonda gestured towards the newspaper on one corner of the desk. The headline read, "Committee Chairman Presumed Dead in House Fire". 

"Now, I want to help one more time."

"Go on."

Bonda gestured file on his desk detailing the expected motive of a crime group pinned to a recent case of boat theft and suspected arms smuggling.

"TRIDENT needs to be galvanised under a single great threat. A threat real enough to, say, reach out, and become real to the public."

"As it happens, the case in front of me is missing some hard links. But a motive is clear. In a matter of days, the cruise liner Dona Parass will be passing that cape. We have reason to believe that the intent is to seize the ship, kidnap, and plunder. Procedure dictates we conduct the investigation further until we get those hard links, then take care of it. By then it could be too late. I am currently playing with a choice, use my director's protocol to order a strike... or to simply--follow procedure.

"Defence Minister. Should I follow procedure?"

 

Edited by Iverica
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January 22, 2018- 1200 

Cruise Ship Dona Ellena- Somewhere in the Mediargic Sea

It was highly unusual of course, meeting on a privately booked luxury liner in the middle of the Mediargic, but that was what they had available for clandestine emergency meetings like this.

Ferran-Arnau Macharius' transport and escort had landed in a nearby coastal @Girkmandian airfield and took a SUR-31 Cavall rotor lift from there.

Macharius was expecting a long wait, as this was an impromptu call, that gave his security detail time to re-check the vessel for any issues and rotate their corvette escort in better patrol routes.

The cruise ship, Dona Ellena, had been bought out under an SSO dummy account-holder name and given a SOCOM crew under strict OPSEC regulations. The ship now sat in a dead zone where no civil vessels were scheduled to pass or regularly passed anyway. The perimeter was then cordoned off under the justification of a "maritime accident" by several corvettes and a destroyer from Carrier Strike Group Deiargon, operating near the Verde-Sakspati Channel. 

After landing on the ship's helipad, Macharius proceeded to the conference room within the ship, being prepared for the Shadow-signing of the Tricontinental Treaty.

All he and his staff had to do now was prepare and wait.

OOC: No need for lengthy replies here with a ton of detail, this is all business lads. Just need to land and talk about or initialisation plans. For the New World, now or never.

Edited by Iverica
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Dona Ellena | 1300hrs
22nd January 2018
Mediargic Sea

 

The call to assemble had come somewhat unexpectedly, but had certainly caught Prymont off guard at that specific moment. Tensions had been rising considerably lately, especially in Argis around the old socialist states; throw in a rogue, isolated nation that still favoured slavery, and another that also liked slavery but was a bit more modern, and you had an international dilemma on your hands. Typically, this would require the utmost urgency from the President, but he was busy back in Prymont with... other matters. The Defence Minister, Hunter S Grey, was also tied up with more important issues, such as getting rid of his President and invading a hopeless country, so he was unable to attend too.

That left Peter Lafleur, Vice President of the United States of Prymont. Lafleur's term as Vice President had been very bland so far, the highlight of which was a discussion between several key global players in regards to the progression of artificial intelligence. Usually, his days were spent in his office, working with employees on constituency problems, attending speeches at universities and other political events, doing a bit of paperwork for Duval and twiddling his thumbs. The role of VP wasn't quite what Lafleur had expected or wanted, but he had a nice bank balance each month and he was building up a cushy pension. As far as he was concerned, there was no reason to complain. If being Vice President meant sitting in his office getting fat and talking to a few empowered students now and then, he'd be VP for life.

An emergency call came early in the morning, arriving at President Duval's desk alongside his third cup of coffee. With matters in The Hellenic Rus and at home escalating, he was too busy and had to divert his workload. The call was then sent to Lafleur, who eagerly arranged for the presidential Aamotech Fettstråle to prepare for take-off towards @Girkmand. From there, he'd take a leisurely trip to the coast, enjoy the sights a bit, and fly via helicopter the rest of the way until reaching a cruise ship that wasn't really a cruise ship. 

The morning flew by, and as the Vice President enjoyed his mid-flight lunch, emails were being sent to prepare him as best as they could. During the car journey to the coast, he read said emails, taking in the little information his assistants could gather about the meeting. The request had been brief and simple. There was a larger document, of course, but Lafleur didn't have time to read that - nor did he have the patience or want. Some assistant would probably explain it to him later, which was much easier than digesting it on his own. The helicopter flight was the shortest of all three modes, with his unmarked chopper landing neatly on the helipad of the boat. 

With his suit and hair blowing wildly in the pressurised wind of the blades, the chubby politician hurried indoors, mumbling greetings to agents and assistants he met along the way. Finally, he met with Ferran-Arnau Macharius, a lovely @Iverican chap who seemed to have organised this whole shebang. A firm handshake was exchanged and Lafleur took a seat, gladly taking the weight off his feet.

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Tension was nothing new for Het Huisselant. While everyone saw it as a liberal paradise where life was great, which was mostly true, this was a status that had been had fought for multiple times. As many that had studied Het Huisselant's history knew, the first settlers weren't welcomed with food and drink, happily taken along to the chieftain whom also doubled as the only fat person among the tribesmen. Instead, the initial landing was one in which the settlers had to brutally murder and maim the tribe that inhabited the shores that they landed on with the tribe assuming that the strange white men and women were in fact the minions of some devil. Over the course of the Variotan early colonization, this became somewhat of a regular thing and in the years that Het Huisselant finally saw the beginning of stability, had led to the Variotan men and women receiving a bloody reputation and sought-after demand as mercenaries among the local Alharun powers. The Ferrefaaier-branch of the Museum of History even maintained a display of the harpoons used by the first settlers to defend themselves against the natives, one of the most popular displays among Laagher Party members and history buffs.

After that, there was the colonisation rush between Klan Reierfer and Het Huisselant, which was mostly sparked by the fact that Klan Reierfer had been founded out of people exiled or otherwise shunned out of Het Huisselant. Tensions had risen then as well, with small skirmishes happening along and in territories claimed by the two powers. The Battle of Mesijner's Floek, which saw a couple of hundred peaceful Variotan colonists murdered by a forty-men Reierfer death squad, was the changing point. Faced with full war with Het Huisselant, a land that wasn't really hated anymore by the newer generations and one that could afford better and more weapons, Klan Reierfer quickly folded. They quickly followed the advice in the old idiom, if you can't beat them, join them.

Even later, there was the illegal war against the Kommunes by Walensa and his Sons. Throughout these times, the Variotan spirit had hold high and the culture and morals of the nation were deemed, and reigned, supreme over the adversities found by the nation. Even today, in a time when nearby Argis seemed more like a powder keg than ever before and Hellenic Russian and Ahranan refugees arriving and seeking their own slice of paradise after the horrors that were their original home nations, Het Huisselant remained strong and prospered. Varinco's missiles and other arms, the great opportunities that a leader such as Dina Diva gave, the tourists that wanted a taste of the delicious sins possible in this land of plenty and much more made for a mix that made it near impossible for anyone to argue that Het Huisselant wasn't what it claimed to be, the Greatest Nation of Alharu.

Of course, even with this status, the government hadn't grown overly confident about maintaining the status without forming ties. So when the opportunity arrived in the form of establishing a military alliance between Het Huisselant and the other bastions of freedom and democracy, the choice had been quite simple. Between the letter arriving at Dina Diva's personal assistant and her executive order were mere minutes, the signatures of the other Heads of State of Het Huisselant took two hours. While her opponents deemed Dina Diva to be the epitome of the empty-headed reality television star, she was accomplished at speed reading and had managed to quickly spot that this was a thing that would be best left to someone without her own 24/7 camera crew. If crazy fans try to get you to sign adoption papers and what not, you learn to read quick and precise. No one wants a sudden basement-dwelling adopted son that tries to steal your worn underwear and watches you when you sleep.

Thus the task was passed to Minister Lopentlant, the Minister of Diplomatic Affairs. Reemy Lopentlant, however, was one of the few people that managed to get sick in both airplanes and boats. While he occasionally still traveled by airplane if it was really urgent, he did this while being heavily medicated. No one, luckily, thought that that was a good idea in this case. And thus, the task was delegated even further. As such, the two that would be representing Het Huisselant were to be the Minister of Defence and the Minister of the Armed Forces.

Retired General, which had been made into a honorific title within Het Huisselant in 1922 and it's English version in 1988, Aleiksander fan Gillofan-Lantboer kept the reigns over the Ministry of Defence, a fancy name for the place that kept Varinco and other select state-owned enterprises running and the multitude of militia's in check. A tall and commanding man who had been part of the special forces, Aleiksander had gained the respect of his men, fellow officers and superiors by personally overseeing and participating in anti-pirating operations in the 1970's, when a wave of rogue communist groups boarded Variotan cargo ships. In one of his most told stories, Aleiksander covered himself in blood before ambushing the pirates.

The sight of a two-meters long man covered head to toe in unknown blood, crazed eyes, shouting Variotan obscenities between shouting he'd get them and waving around a machete and a revolver made it so that those pirates surrendered within seconds and gained him the nickname Soon fan het Tuiffel (Son of the Devil). While official reports state that the blood was bovine in nature and taken along for this purpose in an experimental attempt to lower pirate morale and that there were five pirates on the ship, some old soldier stories state that Aleiksander managed to get onboard unseen and, in a drug-fueled rage and rampage, disemboweled a sixth pirate and covered himself in the man's blood. When the pirate's comrades came checking out what that hellish scream was, they saw a crazed Variotan soldier standing above the mutilated corpse of their friend and projectile vomited in such quantity that they were unable to fight further. Whatever the case was, Aleiksander remained somewhat of a legend among the older Variotan soldiers. Nowadays, however, the man was quite easy-going and just happy to do his part to aid the nation. His drug fueled days were over and the man enjoyed popping popcorn for his grandchildren more than popping pills with his grandchildren.

Henk Linkefaaier, the Retired General in charge of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, was somewhat the opposite of Aleiksander. Where one had begun wild and turned docile, Linkefaaier had begun docile and turned wild under duress. Starting as an intelligence officer working for the HAP, Linkefaaier rose through the ranks as the quiet one in the background, the one that was always there but never in the spotlight. His significant other, a corrections officer, was killed in 1998 during the Kaalebast Border Station Riot, when a large group of turned-down immigrants that were being deported tried to fight their way back into Het Huisselant. Linkefaaier, unable to cope with the loss and knowing that those responsible would not be deemed worth the trouble to find, used his connections and found the few that managed to flee into Variota during his leave and returned them to the proper authorities, heavily bruised, beat-up and without tongues.

While the general view within Variota was that his actions were more than understandable in his circumstances, with those that instigated the riot seen as the real and only criminals, Linkefaaier was still given his voluntary-but-really-mandatory retirement. After this, he was a participant in one of the first television programs in Variota in which, somehow important even if you did not exactly know why you knew them but you do sort of know and recognize them and their name is just on the tip of your tongue, people were followed during their attempts to beat their mental illnesses and/or traumatic events, in his case his loss and the following mutilation spree. His performance in the show gave Het Huisselant a soft spot for the soft spoken man, who quickly became a fixture whenever a club held a military-themed night. The former Foorste Heere fan'es Ferantwortelik fan'es Folke K.D. Lansevoort had appointed him Minister of the Armed Forces in the hope that Linkefaaier would continue on partying and leave the military to him, a hope that was shattered when Linkefaaier took on his new role with the same efficiency that he had as an intelligence officer. While Dina Diva could have pulled some strings and have him changed with her own candidate, she was someone that felt that when something works, why try to fix it?


The trip to the Dona Ellena had been quick and uneventful. The Ministers had taken a flight to Girkmand followed by a short helicopter ride to the Dona Ellena, much like the Prymontians. Of course, unlike the Prymontians, Het Huisselant had chipped in for a helicopter that was able to reach the cruise ship without having to drive to the coast. While some would have thought this to be due to Het Apparath advising against using the Girkmandian roads or some other matter deemed important to the safety of the Ministers, it really just came down to flights from Variota to Girkmand taking longer and the government not wanting to be the one holding the meeting back.

The two men ran inside the ship from the helipad, not wanting to stay too close to the spinning blades and general noise of a running helicopter. Arriving in the room where the meeting would be held, both had their coats taken by nearby support staff. Underneath, both were wearing their ceremonial uniforms. Aleiksander wore a black uniform with purple trimming, as customary for ex-special forces, while Henk wore a blue one with gold trimming, blue being the color for ex-support staff and gold depicting his status as having been part of the intelligence section of the HAP. While both had a number of medals pinned to their chest, as one would expect from generals be they retired or still active, Henk had notably less due to the fact that his only active combat experience was the bout of hunting down and cutting out the tongues of people that had led to his retirement.

Aleiksander seemed to take charge in regards to talking, Henk remaining silent to think better and only giving his opinion when needed.

''Retired General fan Gillofan-Lantboer, minister of Defence for Het Huisselant. This fine gentleman is Retired General Linkefaaier, minister of the Armed Forced for Het Huisselant. We are not sure what information got through, Minister Loopentlant was originally intended to go but could not do so due to health issues and as such, we have been selected to represent Het Huisselant among this fine ensemble of nations and people. Either Minister or Retgen will do. You could also attempt to pronounce Pensioen-Geen'raal but I know foreigners often have trouble pronouncing Variotan. It'd be fun to hear you try though, har har har!''
''Aleks, tone it down a bit. You're at a diplomatic meeting.'' (<--OOC: Just imagine this is written in Variotan.)

After an eye roll by Aleiksander that came over far more dramatic than it was actually meant, both shook Macharius' hand. Their seats were quickly found with a small detour to shake hands with the chubby Prymontian VP, Peter Lafleur.

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Brekhus AFB, Avnkilde [ January 24, 2018 - 0149 hrs ]

maxresdefault.jpg

An L-28 sped across the runway of Brekhus AFB in Avnkilde. To the rest of the workers, it was a high-security state visit to @Girkmand. But for the ground crew who were hand-picked for the mission, it was a flight that would make history.

As the jet slowly crept higher and higher into the air, Defense Minister Björn Hagerström sat across his secretary who was reviewing the final plans for the signing. The jet would arrive in Girkmand, then Hagerström would fly in a helicopter to the @Iverican cruise ship Dona Ellena.

The atmosphere surrounding the Andallan military, and even the Andallan people, was getting worse every day. Though Andalla was located far out into the sea, tensions growing on the mainland and the founding of ATARA would create lots of friction. And the growing technocratic ideology in the @Sunset Sea Islands was making Andallans feel uneasy. It was no surprise, then, that President Johansen accepted the invite to a military alliance more powerful than any other in Andalla's little place on the world.

At the same time, who were they to mingle with such superpowers? Iverica, yes, they have been good friends for over a century. But @Prymont? @Variota? Sure, they were friends, but would they accept Andalla?

That is a question for another time. For now, all that matters is the safety of the Andallan nation.

Edited by Andalla
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  • Posts

    • 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.
    • Restoration begins in Eastern Lithuania Earlier today, the King ordered for the massive project of rebuilding the destroyed section of Eastern Lithuania to officially begin. Hundreds of trucks have begun to be sent to the region, each carrying boxes upon boxes of supplies. In addition to this, all new buildings built in blizzard-prone regions will be forced to use wind-resistant materials, hopefully stopping much of the future damage done by snowstorms. Check back tomorrow for more updates from the Commonwealth Times, your local, and probably only, news network.
    • If the Leopard Throne was the heart of the Greater Holy Empire, it was not its brain. The throne was rarely occupied, even if the pomp and ceremony that surrounded it still went on as tradition dictated. Instead it was deep within the bowels of the building, in one of the many rooms that were often used for meetings of the Agios Basilikon Vestiarion, the Holy Imperial Cabinet. That was the group of close advisers to the Holy Emperor, who dictated policy and actions undertaken by Tagmatium. After all, one of the titles was “autocrat” and that title was lived up to. The room in use today was much like all of the others and something of a mirror of Tagmatium itself – a fusion of the ancient and new, antique and cutting edge.   The room was likely below ground level, although due to the labyrinthine corridors of the ancient building, it was easy to lose sense of direction. The only way to truly tell where the room was would be to climb out of one of the windows near the ceiling. And that would be rather beneath the dignity of any of the important figures present at the meeting. The room was dominated by a large oak table, probably older than many nations in Europa. However, that didn't stop it from being updated. At regular intervals along its surface, flat screens had been built into its surface adjacent to each seat. This was so that the occupants of the room could scroll through documents as necessary to what was being discussed. The floor was, again, decorated with a mosaic design, this time being geometric rather than illustrative. The walls were covered in wooden panelling, a design fad dating from the 18th Century – or 73nd Century by Tagmatine reckoning. When renovations were made, they often stayed. Other than that, the room was almost spartan in comparison to many of the richly, and somewhat gaudily, decorated rooms in the rest of the palace. It almost made the room suited to clandestine and secretive meetings, although that was not really the nature of what was taking place there.   The wood panelling did give the room a slightly claustrophobic air, in the opinion of the Megas Logothetes for War, Honorios Kontarian. It definitely was one of his least favourite meeting rooms. He much preferred the ones on the upper floors, or at least with bigger windows. They let much more light in. He had no idea why the Holy Emperor would have chosen this one. But, Honorios supposed, it was pretty much like all of the others.   He shuffled his bum on his seat and reached for the glass of water in front of him, draining the last of it and replacing it back on the table.   “Ultimately, @Adaptus once again becoming stable has made the handling of future events significantly easier,” he said. Other heads at the table nodded, especially the Megas Logothetai for Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs. “It likely means that the only true local threat that we might face would be from the Great Queendom of @Suverina. And even then, they have been quiet of late.”   Whilst Kontarian personally had some old suspicions about Tonaras of Internal Affairs, he knew that Goulielmos of Foreign Affairs was sincere. All three of them, alongside the Tagmatine Intelligence Network and Epistrategiai, the General Staff, had worked hard on various plans for the stabilisation of the Greater Holy Empire's western neighbour as it went through the period known within the Federal Kingdom as the “Great Lull”. As Adaptus became increasingly chaotic, it began to seem that direct intervention in the country would be within the best interests of Tagmatium, if only to stop the disruption to the economy of the western portion of Tagmatium's territories.   Whether the grand invasion of Operation Flavios or the smaller schemes of Operations Georgios and Mikhael, the projected outcomes were not good. The former would have had vast resources thrown into it, including large scale amphibious landings, paradrops and massed advances by land-based forces. The latter were more concentrated, aiming to penetrate and seize regional capitals with seaborne landings or the national capital with an airborne operation respectively, both coupled with large scale ground operations. However, no matter which of the options selected, the projected outcomes had varyingly been to ignite strengthening resistance against Tagmatine operations and then a tumble into all-out war between the nations or to precipitate a genuine civil war, into which Tagmatium was dragged.   So the Greater Holy Empire had been content to watch as Adaptus managed to settle itself onto a much more steady course, even with a couple of stumbles. But the untimely and somewhat suspicious death of King Jovian and the election of King Magnus caused consternation in Tagmatium. As the border war that Magnus had almost entirely caused himself began to intensify, a decision was made to try to stabilise the Occident and bring down the king-turned-military dictator. Operation Mikhael was given the green light.   When news reached the Agios Basilikon Vestiarion that Magnus had been deposed, there was perhaps the most genuine panic Kontarian had seen in the Tagmatine capital since the rebels had marched on it during the Civil War. He, in his own words, “shat a brick” when he had been told. The order to cross the Adapton border had already been given and the first units were beginning to advance beyond their start lines within Tagmatium.   'Large scale military exercise undertaken at short notice' was probably one of the pleasant euphemisms for what could have been the biggest clusterf*ck in Tagmatine history. The sudden order to halt had caused the largest number of related fender benders in the history of humanity as several army groups were brought to a sharp halt just short of the border.   “It does mean attention can be turned to our most pressing concern,” Kontarian continued. He tapped the touch screen in front of him and brought up a picture of the northern part of the Occident, focussing on both Beautancus and Machina Haruspex, an image that was mirrored on every screen in the room. It was likely redundant. Everyone within the room already knew what the concern Kontarian was talking about. “We have not heard from our ally for some time now. We – that is, the Logothesion of War and the Epistrategiai, have been hesitant in carrying out active reconnaissance towards our ally, just in case we provoked something in return. However, both intelligence within the Logothesion, the military and the Tagmatine Intelligence Network have detected nothing from the Haru government in some time through passive means.”   Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Andronikos Keftedes nodding along. Kontarian didn't like the pale spymaster all that much but this had been causing the pair of them not a little lost sleep. Precisely what was going on to Tagmatium's north and east needed to be investigated. Rumour did have it that the semi-civilised hill tribes had been crossing the border more and more regularly. That they were able to cross back at all was something of a surprise. Not like the Haru at all.   “Essentially, Imperial Sovereign, we need to undertake active recce towards the Haru, if they are still there,” said Kontarian, addressing Kommodos directly. Again, the spymaster nodded, as if his agreement somehow added more weight to the Megas Logothetes' words. Kontarian felt himself somewhat irked by it. “We will likely start off with high altitude overflights and then move from there. Small-scale foot recce is something that we have considered, but we will need to see if the Haru react to this. Our relationship had significantly improved because of the Karthay Incident, so we could get away with foot recce without anything untoward happening but I think that we should play it safe.”   The Holy Emperor had sat with his elbows on the table with his fingers steepled together, leaning slightly forward in his chair. Like everyone else in the room, his eyes had been flicking from the images on the flat screen in front of him, which had been showing images pertinent to what Kontarian was saying, and to the speaker himself. Once the man had finished speaking, the Holy Emperor sat up straighter in his chair.   “Megas Logothetes Kontarian, that will be a sensible path to take,” said Kommodos. “Have that actioned as soon as possible. The quicker we get to the bottom of that, the better.”   “Thank you, your majesty,” Kontarian gave a nod of acknowledgement. Merely calling the Holy Emperor 'your majesty' might have struck some as too informal for the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator Arhomanion, but Kommodos allowed his more trusted advisers more leeway.   “Is there anything else that needs to be discussed at this meeting of the Vestiarion?” asked the Holy Emperor.   “Imperial Sovereign, two nations in Argis have suffered from Communist revolutions,” Goulielmos spoke. The images on the touch screens split, showing a map of Argis with the nations of @Ahrana and @Astriedan highlighted. “As yet, we don't know whether they are connected in any way. However, the reports from Astriedan are somewhat... confused.”   Goulielmos shrugged, the gesture causing enough movement for his glasses to slide down his nose. He paused for a moment as he re-seated them.   “It appears that it wasn't an actual Communist uprising, but something engineered by their monarch and his son. The former has been deposed and the latter is on the run.”   There was a pause for a moment. It struck Kontarian as quite a strange circumstance. After all, why would a monarch try to use Communists for their own end? It wouldn't likely go well. And, seemingly, it hadn't. Barbaroi were a strange breed.   “And in Ahrana?” asked Kommodos.   “The Communists overthrew their old king and they seem to be making a fairly good go of it,” the Megas Logothetes for Foreign Affairs answered. “Nothing seems to have put any Tagmatine citizens in danger, although I'll admit that I don't know how many are there, if any at all. I'd recommend that we towards normalising relations with them, even if they are Communist.”   “Is there any indication that the Ahranaian Communists had any outside help?” This question from Kommodos wasn't aimed at Goulielmos but they Kephale of the Tagmatine Intelligence Network. However, Kontarian was not the only person at the table who inferred what Kommodos was referring to. A decade before, a terrorist attack had caused widespread destruction in Easteia and the Communist Party of Tagmatium was to blame. Despite outlawing and then crushing the party, the leader had never been caught, even nearly ten years later.   “No, your majesty,” rasped the spymaster, shaking his head. “We have investigated all as closely as we can, but no links have yet to come to light.”   Kommodos gave a curt nod, apparently satisfied with the answer. “Then I see no reason for not recognising the new regime as the legitimate one.”   The Greater Holy Empire was pragmatic, even if the atheistic ideology ran counter to everything that it stood for.   “One more thing, your majesty,” interjected Goulielmos. “It appears that Adaptus has recently butted heads, along with a handful of other nations, with a nation called @Derthalen. The Federated Kingdom went so far as to put a blockade in place against them.”   Kontarian looked down at the map now showing on the screen. It focused on this new nation and displayed the area it had occupied, as well as a smaller inset map showing Adaptus. A few boxes also mentioned the nations that had protested the expansion. It noted that Derthalen was both expansionist and isolationist – a bit of a strange combination and one that hardly boded well.   “It is perhaps worth discussing the situation with Adaptus and the other nations involved, Megas Logothetes,” replied the Holy Emperor after a moment's consideration. “It is time that we contacted the Adapton government. I shall adjourn this meeting here and we will examine our response later.”   The Holy Emperor stood and the rest of the room got to their feet at the same time. They bowed to their sovereign, who returned the gesture.   “Good morning, Endoxotatoi.”   One of the Holy Emperor's personal bodyguards stepped forward and moved the chair back for him. There were eight of them, four from the Maghlabitai, who were akin to the ancient Lictores of Arome and four from the Basilikon Anthropoi. The former were dressed in red robes and golden armour and carried maces in the manner of the fasces, whilst the latter wore pure white robes and golden armour. Along with them was the Mystikos, Nikephoros Boionnanes, the Holy Emperor's private secretary. They formed up in a group around the Holy Emperor and swept out of the room.   Bending forward to gather up his papers from the table in front of him, Kontarian resisted the urge to shake his head. Even after working closely with the man over over a decade, he wasn't sure whether the use of the title of' “Endoxotatoi” was ironic or sincere. It was a title due to the members of the Basilikon Vestiarion and it meant “most glorious”. However, it was a senatorial title and Kommodos had not called that organisation together for years. Despite being democratically elected, the Tagmatine leader showed no love for democracy.
    • We've recently spoken about how we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps bang up to date with interface overhauls to bring them inline with the high standards our customers expect. Keeping this in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we've taken Commerce right back to 2009. This needs an explanation. Way back in 2009, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Minecraft was put into beta, Slumdog Millionaire was released to critical praise and we had a product called IP.Subscriptions. IP.Subscriptions was a lightweight member subscriptions manager that allowed members to purchase elevated permissions via a user group upgrade. It was a fine little app. However, on the horizon we had a brand new eCommerce app in development. Then called Nexus, now called Commerce (we took months to come up with that). It made sense for us to merge the products into one app given they both had overlapping functionality. They both could create packages to promote members to a new user group. Commerce was much more developed as an invoicing and billing system. Everyone was happy. Almost. Commerce has grown to be an incredibly powerful app. It can sell anything from physical products like t-shirts, to digital products such as license keys and it can even manage your hosting set-up. We use it for our support and billing systems, so we know how robust it is. While it's an incredibly powerful commerce system, setting up basic subscriptions packages became a little more complex. Over the past few years we've received a lot of feedback on this. We've listened. Commerce Member Subscriptions
      We've built a brand new section into Commerce specifically for membership subscriptions. Let's take a look at this in more detail. On the front end, there's a very clear and easy to understand page for membership subscriptions. The main subscriptions interface Here you can see all the available packages, which one you're currently subscribed to and the upgrade and downgrade options. A simple way to upgrade There's several choices for costing upgrades in the Admin CP, here we have chosen to charge the difference between packages. Get to your subscriptions easily Your subscriptions are easily found in the user menu. If the Admin allows, the package you're subscribed to appears as a badge on your profile.   There's also a little widget showing the packages which you can drag and drop to the sidebar for an additional prompt for non-subscribers.   This gives Invision Community a very clear and easy to understand interface for subscriptions which lives outside of the Commerce store and its packages. Now, let's dive into the Admin CP
      The main engine for this feature is the package list. This is in a separate area within Commerce.   The list also shows the number of currently active and inactive subscribers. This links to the list of subscribers.   Other than Bob having a total nightmare, you can easily view which members are currently active. The buttons link you to the Commerce invoice and purchase. If you wish to add a member to a subscription without charging them (you generous soul, you), then that is easily possible.   Creating a new subscription package is very straight forward. We've built a new form which is stripped down to the fundamental items you'll need for a subscription.   As you would expect, there are several settings to control the system.   A few things worth mentioning here: You can force new members to purchase a subscription on sign-up You can show or hide the profile badge indicating which package they purchased. You can choose to allow upgrades or downgrades. You can choose how you'd like to charge for upgrades or downgrades Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback over the years. We're really pleased to present this new feature and hope that it'll make your daily lives just a little easier. Let us know what you think!   View the full article
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