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Aluxia

A Change in the Wind

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"...but father!" exclaimed Crown Prince Kravos, yelling at his father, the Emperor.

"It's not up for discussion. I've told you this a hundred times and now it will be a hundred-and-one," Emperor Davros paused, attempting to control his anger.

"I will not give the Council of Twelve more power. They complete their task as prescribed. There is no need for them to do anything else. There has not been a single complaint in hundreds of years."  The Crown Prince had grown tired of arguing with is one-way thinking father. "The people need help. The country is frozen in time. You have let me have the great privilege of studying abroad and in that time I saw many things that would simply be a fantasy here."

Davros scoffed. "Democracy, a contemptible ideology if I ever heard one," he paused. "The democracies of the world are false, owned by the few." Kravos cut him off.

"The Empire will remain in a snowglobe of backwardness until we recognize that more has to be done," his father was done with talking with his son for the day.

"Get out! We're done having this conversation!" he was red in the face. His son was flustered, said nothing, and left his ignorant father to grumble on his throne. The Crown Prince would mutter under his own breath as he entered the Palace's courtyard where a car was waiting for him. "Where to sir?" his driver asked.

"Take me to see Chornarov," he replied, settling into the back seat of the vehicle. The person he was going to see was one of his fellow nobles who had traveled with him across Argis during their days in college. He shared in Kravos' liberalism, which made him an ostracized individual within his own family. Hours passed as the car made its slow way through the countryside to the Chornarov estate. Night started to fall upon the land as he finally arrived.

Chornarov saw the headlights approach the house from an upstairs window and rushed downstairs while putting on his shoes and light outer coat. Kravos was getting out of the car just as he exited the house. "Kravos!" shouted Chornarov. "Igor!" he said in response.

"What brings you here," he asked.

"My father." Igor thought he had heard everything about the Emperor while the two were abroad but Kravos' expression seemed to suggest that something was heavy on his mind.

"Please come in," he offered, leading the Crown Prince into his home. It was a bit outdated but it had an old world charm about her. Chornarov instructed one of two servants to fetch them glasses and a bottle of vodka. They sat down in the drawing room. Portraits of the various members of the Chornarov family encircled them on every wall. "I wasn't expecting you at all. Whenever you want to see me, you summon me to Vardin. You don't drive out to this drab hinterland without a reason."

He was right. All the 'life' in the Empire laid in Vardin. Every major investment was concentrated there or in the Empire's lackluster and highly corrupt military. The Emperor had pledged to spend more on the countryside but not a single additional Zemid could be accounted for in nearly 3 years. The people had been given free healthcare but this was to keep them from complaining.

"Igor," Kravos started, "the Empire needs reform," he said cautiously. "Aluxia needs to move forward with the times and my father is absolutely opposed to anything to change our beloved homeland." He took a shot of vodka that Igor had poured as he spoke.

"The two of you have never had a good relationship," he commented. "No, no we haven't," he responded, "he won't even take my suggestions, minor when put into the larger perspective of the wider world." He took another shot.

"Something has to change," he said, thinking of how to finish his sentence.

"What?"

"He has to go." Even to utter those words would have locked up a lesser man or even a plotting nobleman in a rotting cell beneath the headquarters of the Black Robes for twenty years if not life. It wouldn't really matter as it was complete hell.

Igor was mid-shot when he choked on the liquid he had only just poured into his mouth and sprayed it back out.

"You're joking."

"I'm serious. He has to go."

Chornarov was silent for a moment. "And is this is why you're here," he asked.

"I thought about it on the car ride up here. Aluxia will remain completely isolated, fated to continually circle an endless doldrums of arrogance and ignorance of others unless we change. And it starts with the top. You know I am right," Chornarov took a shot and looked at his friend.

"I need to know that you are with me," he asked. Silence filled the room for a minute.

Chornarov had been eying the paintings of his relatives. If they were still alive, they would have completely disowned him for what he was able to do.

He sighed and the Crown Prince prepared two more shots, the bottle nearly finished.

Chornarov took one of the glasses from the table. "Yes... Yes, I am with you," he took the shot. Kravos joined him a moment later.

"Good. I knew I could count on you," he responded. He had taken a major step forward but now everything would become far more dangerous. He, at that moment, had declared war against his own father.

"What's our first move?" questioned Igor.

"We need to find out who else who are friends," he said, "I doubt we have many like-minded nobles like you and I."

"Leave that to me," Igor offered. "It will take time but I think there is a far more urgent matter that needs to be addressed."

"That is?" inquired Kravos.

"We need a friend amongst the masses. We need to know that we ultimately go through with this that we have a friend, if not several, amongst the people. They need to be the true face of this movement.

The Crown Prince nodded. The hour was late. "I must return to Vardin," he said, not finishing before he scribbled something on a napkin, "meet me at this dock on the shores of Lake Viron in three days time at twilight."

Chornarov looked at the note and put it in his pocket. "I will," escorting his friend to the door and into the waiting company of the driver who had desired to stay here for the night before driving back but he wasn't going to argue with his charge. "We'll stay in Mireya tonight," he said. It was a city only twenty-five miles to the south. "I'll telephone the butler about setting up the rooms." The driver at least was relieved he didn't have to drive all night.

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Weeks had passed and five predominant individuals had been found to lead cells they would be led independently within reach major city of the Empire. To keep the Crown Prince from being associated with the movement until the right time, Igor would assume a false identity and covertly operated the resistance organization from the shadows. They would receive financial and material support from a 'generous' benefactor,' who was claimed to be subversive aristocrats who supported Kravos' position though, in reality, they came from the Crown Prince himself through a number of shell corporations he had formed using different identities for each. How he got these materials were never divulged but he had secretly gained several members of the military leadership to give him several weapons and resource crates under the guise of maintaining rural security.

Kravos and Chornarov arranged to meet privately in the less affluent neighborhoods of Vardin to discuss their next move. "The cells have their weapons and resources - enough to last them the next three months," he commented. The Prince nodded. "It'll have to last them until I can lock down a much more sustainable supply chain for them. Have they figured out what our first step should be?" he asked. Igor responded, "yes, they recommend a bombing attack on the Black Robes Headquarters."

"They're mad!" shouted Kravos. "Did they come with something else of equal...measure?"

"Er...yes...if you didn't want to attack the Robes, there is always the option of bombing Narlis."

"That sounds better and would knock out the country's only deep-sea port for days, if not weeks if we do this right."

"But doing so may cut the entire population off from vital supplies from Morheim."

"Then let's not bomb the port infrastructure, yet. Perhaps City Hall? The Mayor of Narlis is a firm supporter of my father's and there is no way he would support our cause. Not for all the Zemids in the world."

"Alright. I'll have the Narlis cell take out the Hall tomorrow night. What about the mayor?"

"Kill him."

"And who do you propose we have come in to take his place until our entire effort has achieved its goal?"

"Alexi Krylov. His former aide. He's always despised his boss. Don't worry, I've already talked to him and he's on our side."

"Anything else before I make the call?"

"No. We'll talk next steps after the current set of plans are carried out."

The following day, midday

Three men in deep red shirts and shrouded in black robes approached Narlis' City Hall. Most individuals didn't come to City Hall unless they had a reason. One of them took out a badge of the Black Robes security apparatus. The guard, fearing for his life, didn't question them and allowed them into the building. The last one to entered held a briefcase. They silent walked through the walls and down into the basement where they set up their bomb. A pair of janitors who were supporting their cell had placed several explosive charges in the room to add to the eventual implosion of the building. A timer was set for 2 minutes and the group quickly make their way to an exit on the opposite side of the basement and across the street.

3...

2...

1...

The entire building erupted into millions of tiny concrete pieces, fire engulfed all within, including the Mayor. In total, there were seventy-three in the building, none survived. News of the Narlis bombing spread like wildfire and reached the Emperor's throne room within two hours. "...its total chaos down in Narlis," yelled Darvos. His son asked to speak which his irate father only begrudgingly allowed. "Narlis needs immediate support and an interim leader to keep order. We wouldn't want the people to take advantage of this incident to destroy the entire port in order to kill the men responsible for this."

"And who do you suggest?"

"Alexi Krylov. He was the former aide to the Mayor and he knows the entire city so the learning curve would be non-existent. Plus, the people have always had a good opinion of him so they wouldn't have the urge to kill him."

The Emperor was too irriated to think straight but neither was he in the mood to spar with his son. "Very well, inform him of the situtation and have him take charge at once."

"It shall be done father," he responded as he made his way to the nearest phone, a hidden smile on his face.

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To: Valron, representative of the Nation of Aluxia

From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomanion

Honoured sir,

May the the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion and the people of Ahromaneia offer their heartfelt sympathies at the atrocity that has just shaken your nation. I would be grateful if you could express that message to your sovereign, his majesty Davros XXII and to the people of your nation. This will show them that they do not stand alone at the mercy of terrorists and murderers, but that the glorious Aroman Empire also stands alongside them. Once word of this monstrous act spreads, many more nations will stand with Aluxia. This will send a most fearsome message to those who dare strike against your people in this manner.

And it was a most heinous act, striking at the centre of a city, undoubtedly showing the perpetrators for the villains that they are. That the ordinary populace has been so attacked is beyond comprehension. They obviously do not care that many ordinary citizens were injured or that they threatened the lives of many more. Clearly, it is an act of those who do not value the lives of the people of Aluxia. They are naught but criminals, enemies of not just Aluxia, but the rest of Eurth as well. As well as that, the fact that they struck against the city hall means that they may well be either trying to make a political statement against your government or just attempting to destabilise your proud nation. But perhaps that is edging towards conjecture and that may cloud any investigation into this despicable act.

The Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion will gladly send any aid that you might request, or that you or your noble sovereign feels that Aluxia might benefit from. We had hoped to try to help your nation's re-entry to the world by trying to smooth relations between the proud nation of Aluxia and your neighbour, the Naxian Republic. However, it seems that events have moved past that. Whilst perhaps offering prayers on your nation's behalf would not be as beneficial to your people, as you do not share the Christian faith, we can offer the next best thing – physical rather that spiritual aid. This is not to suggest that your nation cannot do this itself – far from it. But, as it is said, many hands make light work. It would be proof that you do not stand alone in these trying times and it might mean that these terrorists are spooked into either throwing themselves on your government's mercy or fleeing to the ends of the Eurth, never to trouble anyone again.

To this end, if his majesty decides that he would take up Arhomaneia's offer of aid, we can send anything from humanitarian to financial aid or even trained investigators, if needed. Sadly, even the gloried Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion has been struck in such a manner by cowards and malefactors before. Although the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion has every faith that Aluxia will bring these terrorists to justice, the perspective offered by a foreign investigator may prove to be what is needed.

The people of Aluxia do not stand alone in these dark times. All of Eurth is with them.

I pray to Christ and all the Saints that this is the end of your glorious nation's tribulations and that the people of Aluxia are free to live their lives in peace and security, without the threat of such vile terrorist acts against them.

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion of Foreign Affairs

of the

Megas Agios Basileia Arhomanion

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From: Valron, External Representative and Advisor to Emperor Davros

To: Eugenios Goulielmos, Megas Logothetes of the Logothesion of Foreign Affairs of the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomanion

I have shared your last message with the Emperor and His Majesty thanks the Tagmatine Emperor for his sympathies in these difficult times. The terrorists and anarchists responsible for this act will be found and punished severely. It is well known that Aluxians have never been completely content and that there are those who would wish to see reform - but one should not be rewarded with such destructive tendencies. The Emperor has dispatched additional security personnel to Nalis to ensure no further attacks are made upon the city or the vital seaport. Emperor Davros, however, wished me to inquire as to what support the Tagmatine Empire may be able to provide, at least temporarily, while the Empire itself recovers from the attack. He looks forward to your response at your earliest convenience. 

Edited by Aluxia
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 In the wake of the attack on Narlis, Emperor Davros was angry as ever. He had deployed military forces to many of the other major cities in Aluxia and doubled the number of both plainclothed and uniformed Black Robes security forces in the capital. Kravos, watching from the sidelines, knew that this provocative move was only going to make things worse, and at a faster pace than the Crown Prince wanted to occur. Using the legitimate excuse of inspecting the reconstruction of Narlis' downtown, he took his leave of Vardin for the southern countryside.

But he would never arrive in Narlis as he was very much focused on a much more important meeting. Chornarov had informed him that if he wanted to truly move Aluxia forward, he would need the support of the wealthy Aleksandr Poporov. Igor had made the clandestine arrangements on the prince's behalf. Alexsandr lived in Chukba, north of Narlis. He inherited his fortune from his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, all of whom were Imperial traders, selling Aluxian wares and resources in Morheimian and Derthaler ports over the generations. But he knew the Aluxian economy was suffering - the Emperor's foolish and lackluster investment outside the capital had left much of the population barely surviving, with a smaller minority managing to keep level.

Only free trade and widescale industrialization, with foreign investment, would Aluxian economic fortunes be better for all. Alexsandr's views were opposed by the Emperor's Commerce Ministry, stating that the people's own toil would be sufficient to keep the Emperor moving forward. Imperial propaganda stated as much too. To keep the liberal 'industrialist' in his place, Poporov's trading license was revoked and his passport canceled. A prisoner. It was midday by the time Kravos arrived. Alexsandr was skimming the drawing room. His butler had shown the prince in. Alexsandr was looking out the window and then paced the room.

"It is certainly a beautiful day outside," he commented.

"Absolutely, perhaps one of the best we've had in weeks."

"I am glad you are here, we have a lot to talk about, but little time." He nodded to the butler, who took his leave.

"You wanted to see me? Chornarov didn't give me any details other than it was imperative that we speak."

"Yes," he responded, walked back from the window and into an open armchair. "Aluxia, as a country, is dying."

The Crown Prince did not respond immediately, waiting to hear more from his host.

"Cautious to respond, a good move given that neither of us have met before, I like that."

"I am sure Igor has told you..."

"He has. You intend to remove your father. By whatever means."

"Yes."

"A suicidal act but if there is anyone who can probably do it, it's you."

"You don't seem too confident..."

"Nonsense," he started, "in fact, you are probably going to outright succeed."

"And why do you say that?"

"You're not an idiot. You're charismatic, not sadistic, and truth be told, you are far more a man of the people than any Aluxian Emperor except for perhaps the first."

"You flatter me."

"Don't let your ego get to your head. The little stunt you pulled in Narlis isn't going to get you far."

Kravos clearly was speaking with someone who was far more politically astute than he led on."

"What is the proposition you wanted to share with me?"

"Your little band of rebels is never going to succeed without consistent financial and material support and it will only be a matter of time until the Imperial military realizes that some of its stockpiles are missing." The prince nodded in agreement.

"I am willing to impart with you a massive contribution of Zemids, 500 million Zemids, through a series of back channels, to purchase the weapons, rations, and equipment you are going to need - from outside Aluxia."

"Such items are never going to get past Imperial inspectors..." he was cut off.

"Do not worry about that. I have already lined the pockets of the Narlis customs officials.

"And what do you want in exchange for it?"

"An absolute promise of free trade, the dissolution of the Imperial Trading Organization, and a firm willingness to widescale industrialize Aluxia."

"We could potentially put the livelihoods of millions at risk by taking that too far."

"Perhaps, in the short term, but Aluxia's entire economy will crash in due time if we don't and then you will be a monarch of a completely impoverished state. You've seen the unproductivity, the poverty, and the destitution of the countryside. Industrializing the country will give these millions a new opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have." The Crown Prince nodded. It would have to be an unfortunate risk to take. "But what about training for them, many of these people have only known the field their entire lives."

"If the market reacts positively, and I think it will, then I don't think you will have much of an issue in getting the masses trained for the future."

Proporov stood and encouraged the prince to follow him outside, leading him back towards his car. "There is one more thing I want for my 'contribution.' Kravos looked at him. "I want my travel documents back. I want to hide somewhere warm for the duration of the events that will inevitably unfold between you and your father. I'll return in the aftermath and help rebuild the country."

"That won't be easy."

"You're doubting your abilities...and I know you can."

"Get my passport and I'll wire the first contingent of my financial 'pledge,' he said, opening the prince's car door. He handed him a slip of paper with 22 digits, the number of the bank account the money would appear from.

"We'll talk soon," said Kravos scribbling a series of numbers on a piece of paper. "Call this number tomorrow night."

The following night

"...it wasn't easy but I managed to persuade the Foreign Ministry, with some degree of coercion, to reinstate your passport. Igor has bribed the border guards to let you pass through the northern border without little more than a flash of the booklet. Now, don't forget your end of the deal."

"But of course," responded Proporov. "Take a look at your secure account," he said. 100 million Zemids had been deposited by the Cindev Company.

Edited by Aluxia
Decided to change Proporov's destination, now vague.
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To: Valron, representative of the Nation of Aluxia

From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion

Honoured sir,

Arhomaneia would be willing to offer humanitarian and economic aid if need be, but it appears that this attack has not done much damage to the functions of the port itself, otherwise your messages would be considerably more urgent than they are. That in itself must be due to the will of God – otherwise, a much more crippling blow may have been struck against your nation. However, Tagmatium is still willing to offer such aid and support, if his majesty, Davros XXII, so wishes it.

What the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion will suggest is the offer of sending investigators, from our police and, if necessary, from our intelligence services. They may be able to provide insight that reveals who the perpetrators of this heinous crime is, as they could see something that is not obvious to someone from within your nation. This is not meant as an insult to your nation's security services, of course. That is something that I would not dream of doing. Outside methods and view points may provide information that brings these criminals to justice.

I see that you have determined that this attack has come from within your nation, rather than forces external to it. Although this may sound strange, I am glad of it. It would mean that the situation between your nation and the Naxian Republic has not got any worse since the offer of talks was put forward by Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion. I do hope that this terrorist atrocity will not harm these talks in any way.

On top of that, if these violent radicals are entirely internal, it will not stir up any trouble between Aluxia and any of your other neighbours. Hopefully, if your sovereign does take up this offer, Tagmatine help will be able to confirm this.

May God guide your nation back to a path of peace,

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion of Foreign Affairs

of the

Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion

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From: Valron, External Representative and Advisor to Emperor Davros

To: Eugenios Goulielmos, Megas Logothetes of the Logothesion of Foreign Affairs of the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomanion

Thank you for your response to my previous communique. You are right - the port at Narlis wasn't damaged extensively so I will save us both time by not making a formal request for economic assistance. However, and I have already spoken to His Majesty about this, we would like some members of your intelligence services to be temporarily posted here in the Empire so we can root out these traitors and cowards as quickly as possible. In the aftermath of the attack, we have at least deduced it was not caused by a foreign entity as the explosive materials used came from a device that sees utilization with the Imperial Army which informs us that is solely an internal force. We will find them, it's only a matter of time.

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    • We are back on the air! Despite previous complications, the Minsk Offical Broadcasting Station is back online. New KGB jamming has been put in place so no more interruptions can be made.   Today's news is that military tanks are celebrating independence day today. In every major city, a division or two will march through the streets, showing everyone our independence is assured!  Tanks move through the streets of Minsk in preparation for the parade. This happy crew is ready to give their best at the parade.   
    • Hel na Talasagamdæsnen From the Office of the Transportation Minister This is an official notice that the Transport Ministry of the Rihan Republic hereby issues tender for interested parties who are interested in providing the Ministry with design and technical assistance for the to-be-constructed Dartha to Peldred High-Speed Railway. The budget allotted for the entirety of the project, including construction, amounts to 9.5 billion Chaks. The total amount designated to the initial design and technical specifications is not to exceed 212 million Chaks. The Contractor (or consortium) selected by the Ministry will have a contract lifespan of 2 years beginning on the date indicated as Notice to Proceed (also known as NTP). The goals the Ministry wants this entity to fulfill are the following: Work with Ministry staff to develop the business case for the Railway. Collaborate with staff on route feasibility. Partner with Surveying personnel to determine the best routing based on geographic constraints and sound financial cost. Recommend potential rolling stock for use on the eventual line. Work in tandem with Ministry staff on modeling line utilization, traffic, and scheduling feasibility. Work with Environment Ministry (Stekidæsnen) staff on impacts to the environment along the preferred corridor. Develop approximate cost estimates for Railway construction from beginning to substantial completion. The Senate has mandated that the Railway must be in full operation no later than Ailat (November) 2025.  Design-Build efforts may be considered by the Ministry at the sole discretion of the Transportation Minister (Talasagamdæsnen) based upon the information provided to the Ministry over the lifespan of the Contract. All interested entities must provide its documentation no later than 6 Ailat  (November), 2018.
    • Hel na Talasagamdæsnen From the Office of the Transportation Minister This is an official notice that the Transport Ministry of the Rihan Republic hereby issues tender for interested parties who are interested in providing the Ministry with design and technical assistance for the to-be-constructed Dartha to Peldred High-Speed Railway. The budget allotted for the entirety of the project, including construction, amounts to 9.5 billion Chaks. The total amount designated to the initial design and technical specifications is not to exceed 212 million Chaks. The Contractor (or consortium) selected by the Ministry will have a contract lifespan of 2 years beginning on the date indicated as Notice to Proceed (also known as NTP). The goals the Ministry wants this entity to fulfill are the following: Work with Ministry staff to develop the business case for the Railway. Collaborate with staff on route feasibility. Partner with Surveying personnel to determine the best routing based on geographic constraints and sound financial cost. Recommend potential rolling stock for use on the eventual line. Work in tandem with Ministry staff on modeling line utilization, traffic, and scheduling feasibility. Work with Environment Ministry (Stekidæsnen) staff on impacts to the environment along the preferred corridor. Develop approximate cost estimates for Railway construction from beginning to substantial completion. The Senate has mandated that the Railway must be in full operation no later than Ailat (November) 2025.  Design-Build efforts may be considered by the Ministry at the sole discretion of the Transportation Minister (Talasagamdæsnen) based upon the information provided to the Ministry over the lifespan of the Contract. All interested entities must provide its documentation no later than 6 Ailat  (November), 2018.
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