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A Change in the Wind

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To: Prime Minister Jakob Lasker and the Government of the State of @Tikva

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

Prime Minister Lasker,

The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion recognises the fact that your government has been working hard to make sure that your people, and those that share the Juddish faith, do not fall afoul of the events that are taking place within the Empire of @Aluxia. It is a sorry state of affairs that a terroristic organisation is carving out such an area of control within that nation – one that threatens the lives of both Christian and Juddish people equally. Whilst there are questions as to why this group of bandits is gaining such traction with in the nation and its armed forces, Arhomaniki intelligence seems to suggest that it is a matter of bribery, rather than true allegiance to the ideas that the so-called “Free Aluxian Army” espouses. Precisely where this money is coming from is as yet unknown, but I can assure you that the Arhomaniki Noimosyni Dykton is working hard to ascertain where its source is, so that its flow can be halted and this threat to the stability of Aluxia and the nations surrounding it is nipped in the bud.

That one of our newspapers characterised your government as sitting idly by does not mean that the Megas Agios Basileia does not recognise the hard work that your ambassador and mission in Aluxia is carrying out to protect your citizens and those that share your faith from harm. Far from it – it may be that the situation would be worse if your diplomats were not working as hard as they are. They are doing the work of God in their attempts to maintain at least some stability in the deteriorating circumstances that are facing Aluxia and us.

Since your government is paying a lot of attention to events in southern central Argis, it cannot have escaped your notice that there has been a significant deployment of Arhomaniki forces to the Dolkon Thalassa (the Dolch Sea) and the Adapton naval base of Adrotiri, prior to moving to Aluxia itself and disembarking a contingent of ground troops. This is a peacekeeping force, to halt the spread of anarchy within Aluxia and to make sure that it does not spill over into the nations surrounding the Empire.

Only Tikva is as invested in the continuing peace and prosperity of Aluxia as Arhomaneia is, although perhaps all nations should be. Because of this, I have been given permission by the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator, may God guide him, to invite the State of Tikva to take part in this peacekeeping undertaking, to safeguard not just those that follow our respective religions but all of the citizens of Aluxia and those of other nations that may be within its borders. After all, many nations working together will demonstrate our strength of will and the sincerity to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Aluxia, not just making sure that this band of terrorists and murderers are put in their place. It would undoubtedly show the strength of resolve of Tikva for your nation to take part in this peacekeeping operation, as well as showing that Christians and Juddish people can still work closely together, even in these times of adversity. After all, the way of God is the way of peace, and anything that fosters that is pleasing to Him.

In any event, it will certainly be communicated to the commander of the Arhomaniki peacekeepers that every effort must be made to make sure that your diplomats and staff are to be aided in their attempts to remove your citizens from harm's way and any aid will be given to them whilst they do this. Our armed forces are there to make sure that everyone, both citizens of Aluxia and from other nations, are not put at risk by these traitors and criminals, who have so far only shown that they are capable of murderous acts, with no thought to the impact on civilians. I pray to God that you and the State of Tikva are willing to join the Megas Agios Basileia in this matter and that our nations will form the core of a coalition of the willing that will bring peace to the war-torn and unfortunate Aluxia.

God will show us the true way to peace,

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion ton Barbaron

of the

Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion

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To: The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion@Tagmatium Rules

From: His Eminence Archbishop Patrick Saulius through his servant,Foreign Minister Alvin Russo

 

Brother,

God works in strange ways.  As if to answer our calls of prayer for a tighter bond, he has given us this opportunity of war in the Christian nation of @Aluxia.  To just test our newfound bond, he has teased us with a gentle prod from his staff, gently testing if we are following His word by coming together to stop the wicked of this world.  I feel he will eventually test this bond with fire and flame, but for now a weak ember to see if our bond will burn down in ashes.

His Eminence Archbishop Saulius, in combination with others in the administration, have felt it best to not squander this test.  Ships from the Salvian Navy are being offered to help in the transportation of troops or anything else between the Tagmatium and their ultimate destination at the port of Narlis, and are to be accompanied by the two destroyers SPN Trinity and SPN Bonaventura.

 

With the blessing of Archbishop Patrick Saulius,

Foreign Minister of the Sanctum Imperium Catholicum,

Alvon Russo

Through the Trinity, We Flourish

 

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The Free Aluxian Army had begun their dual offensive against the city of Chukba and the port of Gradin. Nearly a fifth of their entire manpower had been deployed in what was supposed to be a lighting offensive to catch the Imperial forces off-guard, however, the plan they had ultimately constructed would not pan out as designed.

For three days, the FAA had made considerable progress southwards to Gradin - facing only scant resistance at first until they were in sight of the southerly port. As General Alexei Kornov had predicted in the briefing with the movement's defacto leader, it wasn't going to be simple. In fact, there was a bevy of Imperial rocket launchers positioned on a series of hills to the northeast, firing every ten minutes into the port city, hoping to trash it as much as possible and ultimately - destroy the port's facilities, depriving the rebels of a logistics hub. Kornov swore under his breath. "Now we have no choice but to split our forces," he said to his second-in-command. He looked back at his men. "Take A, C, and F Companies, and take out the rockets. We can't risk advancing while they're firing straight at us," he nodded and proceeded to coordinate a strategy with their commanders.

Kornov had no choice but to wait out for the removal of the rockets. He originally had his own but Solov had decided to keep them in protecting Endvo from assault. This would take an entire two days as the bulk of the Imperial infantry units that had been rallied in this part of the country were hiding on the far ridge. Many FAA soldiers had lost their lives in the struggle but the hills were claimed, as were the mobile rocket launchers and the remainder of the rocket ammo, enough that could be used in a similar manner down the road. With the Imperial forces largely stuck within the city, Alexi proceeded to mobilize his forces into the city, the Imperials surrendering by nightfall the following day. Kornov and his engineers would inspect the port as the sun came up and while it had taken damage, the vital cranes, seawalls, and utility systems were largely intact. General Kornov instructed his communications officer to report that Gradin was in FAA control and that the Premier could begin to leverage this victory and translate it into tangible support for their effort.

The same result could not be replicated in the attempt to take Chukba. The assault was working well at first but then as they crossed the Drenz, everything went wrong. The Imperials had been following their movements and had deployed their forces along the northern shores and throughout the woods on both sides of the major road into Chukba. It would become a bloody slog but the worst would come as they approached from the southwest, the Imperials on the hills - with their heavy artillery made things painful. The Zygarian artillery, under the FAA, could not deploy in any meaningful way until it was within view of the city. An Imperial infantry battalion repositioned itself under cover of darkness and blocked off the rear of the FAA, pinning them in a tight position. The FAA in addition to bringing little artillery, brought a tiny amount of armored units to support them. The Imperial commander for the area alerted Command back in the capital, who in turn, communicated to their Tagmatine allies to provide aerial support - to the point of taking out the FAA armor - giving them no further advantage in the battle for Chukba.

Inside Chukba, in the days leading up to the battle, a curfew had been instituted, but as promised, the Juddish people who wanted to leave were permitted to do so under escort. Per an agreement between Aluxia and Tikva, El Al had deployed upwards of ten flights a day over a nine-day period and had 'evacuated' nearly 30,000 Juddish people and whatever belongings they could pack into suitcases, leaving their homes and for many, their treasures behind. However, there were still over 75,000 more across the country, the majority of whom were now essentially trapped in Chukba. But within the city, tensions between the Juddish minority and the predominant Orthodox community was becoming a major problem. At least one Sakak had been antagonized - when Imperial forces were asked to keep the peace, the Juddish people were ignored.

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Headquarters of the Joint Revolutionary Task Force, Bogd Gioro

"Comrade Choinom, sir."

Jinhuang entered the room at his usual purposeful pace. Around a conference table were a good dozen of Fulgistan's seemingly endless parade of mid-level military pencil-pushers, plus a few of the ones that Secretary for Defense Choinom could actually rely on to get things done. Taking a seat at the head of the table, he straightened a stack of papers from an aide.

"Alright, we've all read the report. What the hell are we going to do about the Chukba situation?"

A Major General piped up from down the table; "Clearly, they need tanks and anti-air capabilities."

"True, but difficult to address. We can't exactly run them tanks discreetly across the border, nor is it like in Faramount where we can hand them a MANPAD and call it a day. Embedded intelligence suggests that the regime is relying on the Tagmatines for most of their air coverage, and while doctrinally there's some holes we can poke in them, currently we have no real resources to address modern combat aircraft in-country."

"We could send some advisors; all revolutionary armies need coaching. And, well, steering in other directions."

"I'm not sure how much good it would do; the FAA is made up mostly of defected army units, who, theoretically, know how to fight, despite limited resources."

On the left of the table, Colonel Bozaan, one of Jinhuang's better junior students, cut in.

"That's true, sir, but the intel we've received from Asset Springbok indicates that most of the mid-grade officers, as well as a fair portion of the top brass, are in it for the money; this means that morale is dangerously low, especially now that this push to Chukba's been stymied. Add to that the fact that many of the defecting soldiers hold the Juddish residents in, at best, middling regard, and we have a high risk of morale collapsing entirely on the Chubka front."

For a few seconds, there was much murmuring and shuffling of memoranda.

"That's a good point, Colonel. Frankly, it's a risky move. If we embed permanent assets within the FAA, we risk them getting captured and our part in this being discovered. And frankly, that not only jeopardizes our operational security; it'd be a political disaster. The Greater Holy Empire has only just begun warming up to us, and they won't forgive our role in this if it gets out, at least not for the foreseeable future. Whether they have any way to retaliate against us is another matter entirely, of course, but it's not something I'm keen to test."

The Secretary leaned back in his chair and sighed, hand on temple.

"However, we need to shore up the morale situation, and soon. And I think that we can accomplish this in a way that minimizes risk to us. Colonel Guan, I need you to compose a communique to the Abu Hajaar, the @Sayfi Defense Minister, requesting that he dispatch any surplus armor and SPAA, or failing that, stationary SAM batteries, that he can spare to the FAA general headquarters. Appeal to his sense of honor if you can. This erases our role in the supply chain from the public eye, and minimizes the travel time and expense of the equipment."

"Can we be sure they'll send anything? They've publicly declared for the FAA, but predictions aren't so optimistic on their role in physical supplies for the rebels."

"They're our best bet. God knows the Tikvans are no help; have we determined whether the Shai are in Aluxia for sure yet?"

"Still inconclusive, but highly probable. We suspect they're mostly getting in and out via El Al, and mingling with diplomatic personnel."

"If the Sayfis refuse, we should do something about this government air superiority. Frankly, I think we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now, and we shouldn't let ourselves be taken by surprise in future."

"The Tagmatine air force is reactionary, like their government and the rest of their army. I think that we can look at its role in the Long War and develop a plan of action to suppress its capabilities in Aluxia going forward."   

"All the more reason to get more boots on the ground in Aluxia, then. Alright, then, it's decided; we'll retain Asset Springbok as a covert element, as well as sending military advisors to the FAA. If we can expose some of the possible holes in their officer corps, I reckon we can ingratiate ourselves and reach our aims at the same time. Dismissed."

While the JRTF staff exited to perform their post-meeting duties, Choinom sought out Colonel Bozaan again. Putting a hand on his shoulder, he smiled paternally.

"Damn fine thinking. You'll make Major General in no time. One thing I need for you to do, though; get Springbok to work on sabotage operations; if we can degrade the material superiority of the governmen forces, this whole thing is going to be much easier, Sayf or no Sayf."

"Understood, sir. Thank you."

Anyone, thought Jinhuang Choinom, who thought that the JRTF was going to back down without a fight was in for a nasty surprise. The Worker's Republic had been playing this game for nearly a century, and it wasn't going to lose to a rabble of reactionary imperialists.

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Chukba

The ground was littered with artillery shells, munition rounds, the rotting corpses of dead Imperial and Democratic forces. The Shai had walked right into a hellish landscape. They had made every attempt to get to the city before the FAA offensive had begun but some less than cooperative Imperial officials had waylaid them along the main road, constantly citing non-existent orders or 'payments' that needed to be transacted for passage. It was clear to the contingent's leader that some members of the Imperial Army had decided to set up their own 'fiefdoms' to run rackets, namely to gather as much money as they could before the end of the civil war, there they'd flee from the country and settle down on some sunny, southern island, far from the chaos that would engulf the entire country at the end.

"The smell is horrendous," commented one of the agents. Their leader smacked on the face. "You are a wimp. You've seen far worse in other parts of the world, if not in our own backyard in the Valley," he said. "Get it together."

That was the end of the constructive criticism over their location. "How far away are we from Chukba?"

"5-6 miles at most, it's on the other side of that ridge," responded the agent entrusted with the map. The location they were presently standing at was supposed to be the meeting point with the FAA contact. "Clearly we aren't meeting here," skimming the battlefield. "We cannot risk using the radios for the time being," said another agent. "I spy an Imperial contingent approaching our position from our rear. It must be from that awful commander we had to deal with this morning. He must be annoyed we didn't pay him enough for passage."

"We cannot stay here, we're much safer hiding amongst the people of the city itself. We need to get the Great Sakak of Chukba, now."

Raphael snatched the map from his colleague, pointing out a route. Okay, follow me and stay close. This is a live warzone," he commented, pulling out his pistol.

"We'll connect with the FAA - not directly, but through Kuzhe Mikel Levitin himself. Let's move out."

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To: The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion

From: Prime Minister Jakob Lasker and the Government

***CONFIDENTIAL***

The news from Aluxia, and our mission in the capital, Vardin continues to be grim. In light of the information being given to us concerning the conditions in Chukba, I have instructed the Tzahal to expeditiously prepare scenarios that we may be able to execute upon. Over the nine-day period, we were able to transport nearly 30,000 and their limited belongings from Aluxia to Tikva. As I am sure you saw in the Observer, my Government has committed to spending over a billion shekels to ensure their time in the country is as normal as possible. It is our hope that we can secure another, and perhaps longer, window so that we can get more people who wish to do so, out of the country. The Imperial administration has been uncooperative on that front. However, should we ever get that opportunity again, we should discuss identifiers now so that the airlifting operation is not in any way delayed.  

I have ordered General Boris Malkin, he himself a native Aluxian who emigrated to Tikva in the 1960s, to provide me with around-the-clock information on the Aluxian Civil War and will be on-hand to act as our liaison should we elevate our engagement in the conflict. Presently, he should discuss matters with the Tagmatine military for additional intelligence and recon reports.

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To: Prime Minister Jakob Lasker and the Government of the State of @Tikva

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

Prime Minister Lasker,

I congratulate you that you were able to move that many people out of Aluxia in that time period – such a humanitarian action can only mean that every nations' view of Tikva can only improve, more so than it already was. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion will assist in any way possible – you have my word for that, as both our nations are as equally invested in the future of Aluxia. I pray to God that you see Arhomaneia as a partner in this respect.

It saddens – no, appals, - me that the Imperial Government of Aluxia is being as uncooperative with your nation as you suggest that it is. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion has not suffered such a lack of communication and that another nation does, especially one with such an interest in the outcome of this struggle and with a demonstrable history of humanitarian action, is something that Arhomaneia finds shocking. If need be, I can say that my nation will gladly intercede on behalf of the State of Tikva and will try to evacuate as many of your nationals, or those who share your religion, as possible, if your nation finds itself unable to do so.

The armed forces of the Megas Agios Basileia will endeavour to make sure that your nation's citizens are safe. If need be, they will be escorted to ports, airfields or points of exit that my nation considers safe and able for civilian aircraft to fly from. I do suggest that even if the government of Aluxia is not keen to do it, our nations very much need to discuss identifiers as a priority above all others. Frankly, I implore you to do so and I will then make sure that these are passed on. The safety of civilians can only be held as paramount, even in these dire circumstances.

I have directed the Epistrategaion, the High Command, to liaise with General Malkin. The commanders of the Arhomaniki force to Aluxia will keep the general abreast of their actions. As it is, the forces under Taxiarkhes Mezezios are advancing towards Chubka, the city that was recently attacked by the rebels, in order to make sure that it is still safe. I would suggest that General Malkin communicates with Navarkhos Ethelred, as the commander of the Arhomaniki forces to Aluxia to make sure he is aware of what will happen next.

If need be, I will suggest to the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator that our nations are kept in closer contact.

God will guide us towards a well-deserved peace,

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion of Foreign Affairs

of the

Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomanion


If the fiefdoms that the imperial Aluxians had supposedly set up had been an impediment to the Shia agents as they worked their way towards Chubka, then they were effectively non-existent as the leading units of the 215th Skoutatoi Tourkmarkhon had made their way towards the city. Stopping a small unit of covert agents for money was one thing; trying to extort payment out of the reconnaissance elements attached to an infantry division with seconded heavy armour was quite another. The Hippakontistai, the cavalry scouts of the Tagmatine army, breezed through any roadblock that had been set up. Perhaps it was the shared religious heritage that won through, as the Light of Christ shines across Eurth, or the recognition that the forces from Arhomaneia were there to save the Imperial regime. Or it was the 30mm cannons on the armoured cars that dissuaded any attempt get payment. Either way, the Hippakontistai deftly manoeuvred around the road blocks, before they were either pulled out of the way or ground to dust by the Tauroi following closely behind. You either got out of the way of over seventy tonnes of main battle tank moving at at least forty miles an hour, or you didn't and they had to scrape you up from where the treads mashed you in to the floor.

Rattling along in the armoured lorry wasn't exactly comfortable, as Theofila Iagara knew through long experience, but it was a lot better than trying to walk all the way to Chubka. Every so often, a jolt in the road sent a shudder through the vehicle, throwing anything that wasn't already secured to the deck. The Thorakites APCs had been built with cheapness in mind – it was based off of a commercial lorry chassis for ease of production and supply of parts, although the modern ones had been up-armoured and updated since they were introduced over thirty years ago.

Everything important for the infantry squad was secured, to stop it from moving about and getting damaged – it was mainly the pack of cards that a handful of the Skoutatoi were playing with that were jostled every time they hit a bump, to half-serious accusations of cheating for what felt like the hundredth time to Dekarkhos Iagara. She'd got tired of telling them to shut the f*ck up every time they squawked and she was beginning to suspect that that was half of the fun to her soldiers. It wasn't as if those in the back could try to communicate with the driver to get them to purposefully hit a bump without anyone else noticing, but it was at least keeping them distracted from the fact that they had spent hours cooped up in the vehicle. At least, she was almost sure that they couldn't get the driver to hit one on purpose.

Still, occasionally a jolt was big enough that it knocked everyone about and Iagara's head bounced off of the side of the lorry. The driver would mutter his apologies through the intercom and promise to try to avoid the next pothole. Bumpy as it could be, it was more comfortable being sat inside of the vehicle than being either one of the pair who were sat on top of the armoured lorry, even though the watch was rotated every couple of hours. They were up there to make sure Free Aluxian Army wasn't trying to pull any nasty surprises. The weather was foul and they were likely drenched, even whilst dressed in rain ponchos. However, so far, the journey had been quiet – it seemed that the imperial Aluxian army had driven off the FAA for the moment, as well as the threat of air strikes and missile bombardment from the Arhomaniki forces off the coast of Aluxia had meant that the rebels were keeping their heads down.

The Thorakites commander pulled himself down inside the vehicle from the stubby turret and wiped sleet from his goggles. Water dripped from his poncho and the handful playing cards cringed away from it and moved in awkward ways, trying to make sure that their cards stayed dry whilst preventing any of the other players from looking at them. The commander clung onto a hand rail whilst closing the hatch above him, stopping any more sleet from getting into the crew compartment.

“Shitty out there.” It was a rhetorical statement, as the Skoutatoi inside could see the water and ice splattering against the vision blocks and the lenses of the cameras as the vehicle rattled along. It was, indeed, shitty outside.

“There is a remote station for that gun, you know,” replied Iagara, pointing towards the console that was underneath the commander's hatch. She wasn't sure whether she was annoyed or amused by the man's refusal to use it. “You can stay out of the rain, if you want to.”

The man shrugged, spraying more water over one of the card players, who grumbled quietly, too intent in the game to really protest. “But then you people will start saying we're soft and try to stay out of the weather.”

Iagara had to give him that – that is exactly what they would do. There was always a level of bickering between the combat units and the transport units of the division. It was a fact of life. Another bump shook the transport and the commander pulled himself towards the driver's station, where he peered through the windscreen as the vehicle slowed down to manoeuvre around an obstruction.

“Looks like it's turned to shit a bit out there.”

That could have described anything, thought Iagara. The infantry non-com rolled her eyes and unbuckled herself from the seat and made her own way to the front of the vehicle. The way the Skoutatoi divisions worked, the transports rotated around the infantry units, not actually being an organic part of the infantry regiments, but attached to the divisional level. She'd only seen the crew in passing before, so didn't really know the man at all. Now the impression she got was that he was taciturn. At best. She looked over both of the crewmen's shoulders and saw a large crater blasted in the surface of the carriageway – it looked like it might have been from a missile thrown by one of the Basileoi sat out in the bay. In the low light, it looked like some ruined vehicles had been forced off the road and onto the verges. There were tarpaulins that were likely were covering bodies of the occupants and it appeared that a priest was standing over them, giving a prayer.

The Arhomaniki column was slowing down to move around the crater. By the looks of it, a Tauros MBT from the Klibanoforoi regiment attached to the 215th Tourmarkhon had slipped on an icy patch on the roadway, partially slid into the crater and then thrown a track as it tried to haul itself out. The huge tank was being pulled out by an armoured recovery vehicle whilst the crew either helped or stood about in the sleet, looking embarrassed. The operation to move the tank to some flat ground where they could fix its track was blocking a good portion of the roadway. A pair of Vigla, the military police, had appeared to act as traffic controllers, waving coloured lights to guide vehicles around the obstruction, keeping the tourmarkhon moving.

That would slow the advance to Chubka, Iagara thought and she exchanged a bit of a glance with the Thorakites commander. The division wouldn't want to leave behind any of its precious heavy armour. It looked like a platoon of Skoutatoi had been detached from the column to cover the recovery of the tank, fanning out and taking cover in the crater itself and behind the embankment that edged either side of the road, along with at least one anti-aircraft vehicle, its quad cannons pointing upwards. Likely the Basilikoploimon would be watching the situation from beyond the coast, just in case any of the rebels reared their heads and tried to interfere with the recovery operation. As it was, the Dekarkhos could hear the thump of the rotor blades of the Basilikoaeroporia helicopters attached to the 215th, an eye in the sky watching down on the rest of them. She reflected that since the rebels' attempt to take Chubka had been turned back by the air power of Arhomaneia, this was a shooting war between the peacekeepers and the Free Aluxian Army. The Arhomaioi would be especially cautious as they made their way to the port.

As the Thorakites moved past the crater, the column began to speed up. Iagara moved back to her seat and buckled herself back in. She pulled out her PDA, looking to see how far away from Chubka they actually were. Less than ten miles. It wasn't as if that the poor bloody infantry would have a chance to relax once they got there, either. They would have to dig in and make sure that the city was protected for any further traitor attack.

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Imperial authorities back in Vardin were feeling much better following reports that the Free Aluxian Army had been effectively pushed back from Chubka both by the sacrifices of loyalist soldiers but more in part to the Tagmatine aerial support. The Emperor had been kept abreast of developments. Davros was satisfied in the immediate danger being avoided. In response to the FAA offensive, he relayed orders through his top commanders to push their own offensive to the south - into Zygaria. They had recommended that he take advantage of the momentum - and with the FAA at their backs - to strike. A contingent of soldiers would remain in Chukba to safeguard it but the Emperor believed that between the Tagmatine support and the situation on the ground was sufficient enough to carry it out.

His Imperial Majesty sat upon the throne reading not just the field reports but the official communique from the Tagmatine military liaison and those on behalf of Kommodos himself through the Foreign Minister. He was not content in the slightest over the idea of instituting reforms or taking on advisors, even if they were from a friendly nation but Valron interjected him during one of his rants. "...if we want to show our Tagmatine friends that we are being responsive and appreciative of their assistance, we need to accept it..." Davros growled but he wasn't about to lose a major advantage over the FAA in terms of numerical or material support and capitulated. Valron nodded to his sovereign and prepared to issue a positive response to the latest diplomatic dispatch from Tagmatika.

While things were looking up for the Imperials, the same was not true for the Democratic Forces of the FAA. They had suffered a massive blow in morale and momentum in their stunted offensive upon Chukba. It was supposed to open the door on a rapid assault upon the capital to the southeast and perhaps even end the conflict before it had gotten too far but with their defeat and retreat, the civil war was likely to carry on for much longer, with many more lives to be lost. Solov was furious with the outcome and shouted at his commanding officers. Unlike the Imperials who at least had their loyalty, this was not true for the FAA - these colonels and generals, with their men, were in it for the money more than anything else. Dmitri would scream and shout but ultimately, he couldn't do much more than that - without them - Davros would have essentially won. While Chukba would be out of reach for some time, the FAA was not without victories.

Gradin, the second-most important port in the country, was now in FAA hands, giving them an opportunity to bring in support from its clandestine supports abroad. For a few days, several cargo vessels had managed to unload their critically important goods but then the Tagmatine Navy came. They decided that while the FAA could have the port, they would completely negate their ability to use it. Naval ships set up a cordon around the entire harbor and the sea lanes both in and out of the immediate area. It was at that moment that the conflict had gone from primarily one on land to one that would include the coastal waters. The biggest unknown in the entire conflict at this point - for both the Imperials and the Democratic Forces was the loyalty of the Aluxian Navy.

The Navy was modest in size but sufficiently powerful enough to play a role in defining the outcome of the war. Gregor Tomorov was in charge of it - big, fat, lazy, and corrupt. Exactly the type of the person you'd want to control something that could go either way. Tomorov had gone up the ranks due to the fact that he had enough friends at court to see to it that he be treated well. He did know naval command but the Aluxian Navy itself was more in the business of protecting its shores than engage in international maritime combat. Davros had been paying him off since the start of the conflict to keep the navy in line and for now, they'd be with the Empire. Fortunately for Davros, the Navy was actually in Priva, a port to the southwest of Gradin, and still in Imperial hands. The FAA was preparing an offensive upon it to further grow its control of the coast.

Additionally, the FAA was weighing options on another advance, this time into the middle of the country in an attempt to take over a third of the Empire's air force. But the discussion on such action was halted when news came from their recon teams concerning Imperial forces slowly making their way to the south into Zygaria with the FAA's stronghold of Endvo as their intended target.

"...how long until the Imperials march into the Zygarian frontier?"

"Four-five days. They're still gathering their strength along the Drenz."

"We have time then," responded Solov. "Do you think we can secure the Aluxian Navy's support in that timeframe?"

"Most likely not," said one of the assembled commanders. "And even if we could, we are in no position to keep his loyalty for too long, and certainly not enough to force off the Gradin cordon by the Tagmatines."

"Get the entire Zygarian artillery battalions formed along the ridges, the light infantry prepared for ambushes along the roads and passes and our remaining armored divisions prepared to intercept."

"There is still the matter of Tagmatine air power to contend with..." the officer was interjected by the Premier.

"We'll have to knock them out of the sky. We are redeploying the bulk of the mobile SAMs that were in Gradin back up in Endvo and we are expecting, according to our foreign friends, some material from Sayf in the coming days that should even the odds when the attack comes by the Imperials, if not the Tagmatines if they get involved in the offensives themselves."

"Rally the people of Endvo. The Imperial offensive ends now."

============

***CONFIDENTIAL***

From: Imperial Palace, Vardin

To: Tagmatine Military Forces in Aluxia and Government in Tagmatika

RE: Ongoing Efforts in the War

Emperor Davros is greatly appreciative of the Tagmatine support in the fighting that took place outside of the city of Chukba and the positive outcome of that effort that has led to an FAA retreat from that front for the time being. Although the loss of Gradin is unfortunate, it is not imperative to achieving ultimate victory over the rebellious faction wishing to overthrow the legitimate Government. I have discussed your strong recommendation concerning advisors to the Emperor and while he is quite irate about taking on such individuals, I have managed to convince him that they will only further progress relations between our two countries over the long term. He, therefore, accepts the offer and will see them in the throne room upon their arrival.

The Aluxian Navy is currently still loyal to the Emperor and we will do everything in our power to keep them on our side and not to defect to the FAA. Tomorov may be a less than ideal commander of such a force, he is not a complete idiot in knowing where he must stand. Upon hearing your efforts to cordon the harbor and sea lanes in and around Gradin, myself and the military command here in Vardin will strongly urge the Navy to provide assistance in that action. In other related military movements, the Imperial Army, using the momentum your intervention will begin its own offensive into Zygaria itself and use it as an opportunity to split the FAA forces in two.

I am confident that between our own advance and with Tagmatine support, this conflict will end before long.

~Valron

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