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Prologue

Within the bowels of the Defense Ministry's command and control headquarters located within the ward of Kunya, of which is located in the city-state Chel de'Yorn near the northern border of Beautancus territories. Ttoile, the capital of the former Cussian territory known as Beautancus, lay just a few hundred kilometers away. Ttoile had been observed as being the last remnant of the old Cussian government, the last semblance of an actual city with infrastructure held over from the old days. 

The images of the city, and the surrounding landscape had been the subject of reconnaissance planes and photographing for a few weeks now. The Imperial Aerowings had done their duty, and in the haze of the smoke filled room from cigarettes and the like, something that individuals who were under great stress had been puffing away upon, held their eyes to the display monitors. Sheefs of intelligence, dossiers on the terrain and the pacification estimates, losses that might occur, what was acceptable, etc. With due diligence by the number crunchers, the expansion effort was being formulated even as the newly crowned Emperor gave a speech to the masses.

Fleet Lord Yagar Ni'Vek was seated at the head of the table, appointed by the now emperor to serve as his left, while Kaorin became the right. He stubbed out his third or fourth cigarette into the waiting ashtray, cleared his throat and spoke. The preliminary reports have been made. As of now, myself and Vice Lord Kaorin, have been given authorization by the newly crowned Emperor, to proceed with our plans of expansion. He turned towards another senior officer,  General Ti'Ran Elghinn, head of House Buki Elghinn. As doing so, a junior officer approached with a briefcase. It was chained to his right wrist and he set it down, opening after a combination was entered. Within it, a keycard rested and a type of machine to read it. Ti'Ran reached over, broke the keycard case and inserted the card. It required now the keycard of the senior most officer, of which was that of Ni'Vek. He gave his card to the handcuff bearing officer and it was slid within the machine, with both codes matching, thus the icon screens going green in hue.

General Ti'Ran, began Ni'Vek. You are hereby authorized to begin mobilization of the following forces, for deployment and securing of the northern territories of the former Cussian lands. You will command, with your choice of officers, the army group Hades. The force that is authorized under your command is the entirity of the Hades Northern Border Force;

o 1st Legionnaires 'Renor Xukuth' Motor Rifle Regiment, Hades

o 15th Legionnaires 'Renor Xukuth' Motor Rifle Regiment, Hades

o 283rd Legionnaires 'Mzil Velven' Motor Rifle Regiment, Hades

o 1st Legion 'Olath Orn' Tank Regiment, Hades

o 147th Legion 'Bel'la Kyorl' Artillery Regiment, Kovo(Border of Beautancus)

o 1117th Air Defence Regiment, Kovo

o 136th Independent Intelligence Battalion, Kovo

o 1174th Independent Anti-Tank Battalion, Kovo

o 211st Independent Engineer Battalion, Kovo

o 614th Independent Chemical Battalion

o 47th Independent Signal Battalion, Kovo

o 190th Independent Maintenance Battalion, Hades

o 1063rd Independent Supply Battalion, Hades

o 370th Independent Medical Battalion, Hades

* 51st Parachute Landing Regiment, Tula(2.5km east of Hades)

*89th Light Armor Regiment, Tula

* 137th Parachute Landing Regiment, Tula

* 1182nd Artillery Regiment, Efremov(Secondary border deployment, 3.5km north of Hades)

* 107th Independent Air Defence Regiment, Efremov

* 322nd Independent Engineer Battalion, Efremov

* 731st Independent Communications Battalion, Tula

* 43rd Independent Repair Battalion, Tula

* 110th Independent Transport Squadron, Tula

Ni'Vek continued. You will begin immediate deployment of orders. You are tasked with mobilization and transport of your forces into the assigned battle and securement area. These orders are confirmed by the Defense Ministry and by the will of the Emperor.

Ti'Ran leaned back in his seat a bit, and seemed to contemplate a good deal in his head before he spoke. As the Emperor wills, so shall I serve. I do however have some questions. One, my support I will assume is the Home Guard forces of the imperial legionary, of which I can only assume that Kaorin will deploy after my initial forces do so. Is this to prevent any other nation from perhaps attempting to cross into the Cussian territories while we are doing so? Also what of the Tagmatine? Will they stand idly by? They've been rather testy lately with the navy. 

A chuckle resounded about the table as the thought of their southern neighbor having a bit of a fit. Ni'Vek gestured and the group fell silent. They seem to be playing the long game with us, and they cannot effectively do anything other then issue a stern word perhaps. The Home Guard will indeed shore up your efforts, maintaining vigilance alongst the Cussian western border while your forces occupy Ttoile. Meanwhile the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Aerowings will also be deploying, with the navy landing units and forces alongst the eastern sea holdings of the Cussian wildlands. The aerowings I am told shall continue photography runs and if need be, supply and suppression missions.

Ti'Ran nodded to all of this, before promptly sliding to a stand and giving Ni'Vek a salute. Very well Sir. Army Group Hades will begin immediate mobilization. I estimate based on force locations, the projections, estimated in my head sir, it shouldnt take more then two weeks to prepare for a border crossing and begin occupation of the capital within another two weeks time.

Ni'Vek returned the salute. May you earn the glory of the battlefield General...

Edited by Haruspex
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Qee'lak Luth'ol HG-02/A Heavy Gunship
Northern Border Deployment Zone

The aerocraft that carried General Ti'Ran, and his personal bodyguard of Tagnik Zun, was none other then the fast support rotorless helio " Qee'lak Luth'ol ". A heavily armed gunship slash transport carrier used by every legion of the Haru military machine. Painted an off-white, it skimmed across mountain and flat ground alike, with it's navigator pinging out radar imagery so that the already deployed and crossing the border forces of Army Group Hades would see them on approach.

It's crew of three saw the world in the deep green of the enhanced helmet vision cam. Scouring the way ahead, to the sides, and the rear for any sign of the out of the ordinary. Ti'Ran sat in the center of the aircraft while the rubber hazmat suited Tagnik Zun legionnaires, complete with HAIAR-1's clutched firmly, stood in a defensive formation. There were ten of these legionnaires, and that was more than enough for this. A pair of Wyrven all weather aerofighters had accompanied the transport up until the border would be in range. 

Giving their neighbor to the south pause, they would then move during the distraction and move to the Hamai provisional territories, having begun the siege of them already. The main goal would be to sever Hamai from the rest of the unified warlords though. Bombing around it would prevent the rebels and their supports/sympathizers from being able to flee. How best to do that though? Such would weigh heavily upon the tactical mind of Ti'Ran. There was much to loose as well as to gain. Fortune does favor the bold, but only if the bold can hold on.

The lead pilot made a twirling motion with index finger and that was the signal for landing given to Ti'Ran. He offered a nod of head, even as eyes of light green kept a neutral front and lacked a certain amount of empathy.  Ti'Ran kept an appearance that was simple, the attire a jet black pair of jackboots, leather belt and strap. Gloves covered hands and an officers cap rested atop head. Underneath was a silver shade of hair, cut down to the stubble.

A tilt of head to the head of his security detachment, and a nod to accompany as the craft bounced softly upon landing. The Tagnik Zun formed up at the helio's rear and sides, facing outwards and without further words. With his security head at side, he was the first to disembark, the specialist troops following behind as he approached a saluting senior officer, Sengar d'isto Di'Ko of the AGH. 

General, we have at your orders, set up a forward command base near the outlying areas of the Hamai province just twenty minutes from here by vehicle. Awaiting your order of advancement is the 89th Light Armor Regiment, who at your order will proceed towards the Haakon bridge that extends into the light industrial area of Hamaii City. Following them will be the 211st Independent Engineer Battalion and the 283rd Legionnaires 'Mzil Velven' Motor Rifle Regiment. Our aerial reconnaissance shows it to be lightly defended by the rebels of the area, who have chosen to fortify further inwards more heavily. Di'Ko spoke as now walking beside General Ti'Ran, leading the way to an armored transport vehicle, mindful of the anti-aircraft fire that might spring up should a low flying transport get to close to the still held rebel areas.

Ti'Ran looked wistfully at the border leading to the Haru lands before speaking towards Di'Ko. Issue the order to advance.

55 Hours into Cussian Border Deployment
Northern Border-Haakon Bridge, Hamai City


Siet Khan (roughly translated means something similar to 2nd Lt) Dabin climbed up the rungs of the AT-110 Infantry Fighting Vehicle towards it's cupola hatch. The command vehicle for the 89th Light Armor Regiment, serving the House Sargtlin and that of the Army Group Hades legionary task-force deployed to the former Cussian border. The vehicle was already loaded with a small complement of troops and crew as he slid into position behind the sloped gun shield. 

He was lanky in build, wisps of blonde hair cropped short against the scalp. Like most Haru he wore a rebreather, but not the goggles so many were accustomed to seeing them in. His uniform was specifically for this sort of environment, being a semi-tropical terrain, highly urbanised area. Red, black and light orange splashed together. Throat mic in place covered a rather wicked scar, a badge of honor from close combat nearly a year ago in the Occidental badlands.

Just over the age of twenty-one, he was of the Vek Sargtlin, a commoner-military line that served the greater House Sargtlin. A slight turn about, as wearing the headset that was passed up to him and he raised his right arm. Behind the command IFV, and in front of it, were several dozen Rhidan LMV's, a popular lightly armored recon vehicle that could survive IED's and so forth. Essentially a Haru Humvee in spirit if not appearance and ability. Accompanying were another half dozen AT-110's, about the same S-12 Halftrack armored personnel carriers, and the hardest hitting of his entourage were a pair of Cbetan Light Tanks.

Behind this, was the 8th Detachment of Heavy Armor. This consisted of ten S-94a Jelduno main battle tanks and four S-17 APALV'S. His orders were to provide offensive and defensive cover for the 211st Independent Engineer Battalion and the 283rd Legionnaires 'Mzil Velven' Motor Rifle Regiment in assessing and repairing the Haakon bridge as necessary, so as to ease crossing of forces into Hamai City for occupation.

He waved his right arm and the engines came to life, reverberations in the air, followed by diesel fumes. Turning to forward, he lanced his arm out and the lead vehicles being the Rhidan LMV's motored forth, leaving the relative safety of the northern borderlands for the urban jungle ahead.


63 Hours into Assault
Northern Border-Haakon Bridge, Hamai City


The first sign of trouble came from a garbled and rushed communique from the lead element of the convoy. The explosion was seen soon after as the Rhidan came racing around a corner, only to be caught by the explosion that appeared to come from the ground up. Dabin ordered the convoy to spread apart as it was apparent that rebel artillery was in fact, in the area. 

As his herd of lightly armored vehicles began to spread out, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine-gun fire from concealed positions in the houses, low buildings and even wreckage began to take its toll. The close quarters provided his enemy with plenty of cover and freedom of movement while he was not afforded such. 

His command vehicle was retreating from the main road to an alleyway, attempting to flank when he saw a following S-12 engulfed by flame. The men were screaming, falling out of the vehicle like burning match sticks and then the transport shattered apart as a secondary hit split it's sides. As he ducked inside of the cupola, the gunner of his command vehicle was already hammering the house with the thirty-millimeter cannon, incendiary rounds visible as the cannon thundered. Concrete and mortar splintered aside, and then it was impacting something else. Fifteen rounds or so in, and the enemy position shattered, it's concealment boiling with fire, smoke and charred remains of the enemy combatants within.

Rebels spilled out of the positions nearby as the buildings became fire traps, and he was grimly aware of his satisfaction at eliminating them with the twelve point seven millimeter heavy machine-gun. The rounds stitched across the inhuman forms that twitched or spazzed across the road and grassy areas. 

For every kill the rebels might have earned, they were mercilessly being routed. The enemy as he relayed his report live and without consideration of say, profanities, that the enemy was poorly trained though determined. He reported that ten minutes into the combat,the enemy force already lost a sizable portion of their defensive positions and what makeshift technicals and or other 'armor' possessed, he was in the process of removing with ruthless and disciplined fire.

An explosion echoed his report as dirt clumps, mortar, and rocks spanged off the side of the command vehicle. The thirty millimeter was barking more now, streaming deadly tungsten tipped rounds towards the enemy. An enemy infantry fighting vehicle new twenty years ago or so, died a glorious death, buckling and then exploding outwards, catching wayward rebels with hot pieces of shrapnel that carved through their flesh like a hot knife through butter.

The remainder of the rebel forces fought, valiantly but ultimately without hope. One by one vehicles were destroyed, until the last, the lone rebel vehicle, a decades old tank sporting numerous jury rigged patches and 'reactive armor' already hit a few times, but still alive was bouncing it's way through a variety of buildings and positions. Treads clanking, it's maingun spewing fire as it's anti-personnel weaponry rattled time and time again.  

It's death was however quite spectacular, if more then overkill. While roving about, it was presenting a hard target for the HIL artillery and due to it's close nature to friendly infantry positions, said artillery was sporadic. Having closed the distance, the rebel tank had effectively crossed the gap between enemy fire suppression, but had found itself in the throes of the 89th's light armor and infantry units. 

As it trudged past a small two story building, an explosion rang out followed by the sound of metal flapping against metal and earth. A thermobaric rocket propelled grenade gone off and displaced the tracks on the old rebel tank. As the turret began to turn towards logical placement of the enemy, no less than a three more of the same type of rocket-propelled grenades struck the body of the tank from two different directions. It vanished in a hail of fire, the turret completely blown from the main body, landing some twenty feet away. The body itself cracked and split apart, throwing metal and fire in a three hundred sixty degree area. 

Edited by Haruspex
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Fire from the sky,
It hunts us,
Fell is their laughter,
As our bodies burn,
and our bones become black by their touch.
Excerpt, Refugee's of Jethnea'la

73 Hours into the Assault of Hamai

Prata-Khan De'Raz settled himself within the interior of the MCA-7H Main Battle Tank, that was a foreign design. Only veteran units utilized the MCA-7H which was working quite well in the Liberation of the Cussian Northern Occidental territories. At times he would spot an enemy tank, but such were rare. Most of the times it was that of an infantry fighting vehicle or some sort of armored personnel carrier of the insurgency forces.

A rumbling thunder issued forth, and from beyond the earthen and concrete works of the defensive border of the commercial area around that of Haakon Bridge and the outskirts of the actual city of Hamai, into the outskirts and old townships that had sprung up after the walled city had filled up, came the armored fist of their Emperor. Treaded beasts lumbered as a spreading black wave, crushing vehicle and wall alike. The sensation of rise and fall was felt first in his stomach and then the rest of him as the tank drove over the smoldering wreckage of an AT-70 armored personnel carrier, falling about half way and pretty much halving it at that point. The metal flattening with a screeching sound, compacted into the pavement by the weight of their steel and chobham armored beast. 

The sound of anti-infantry weapon's barely registered within the cockpit of the beast, the roar of the main cannon firing a tremor easily forgotten about as buildings were knocked asunder. The futile anti-tank rocketry flicked aside as if but childrens toys. Hardly a scuff mark shown on their home and protector, numbered one-twelve on right and left turret sides. Deftness of it's operators shown as the vehicle spun about upon whirring treads, blazing a path through the occupied areas, death was theirs to deliver and deliver they did. 

Overhead, whirling rotor blades brought forth the gunships that tracked and dispensed the Emperor's justice where the panzers did not succeed. Running figures slain in mere seconds, gouging the earth in explosions of brown and grey while fire blossomed about. Swooshing sounds filled the air atop this deathly chorus, followed by the crumping sounds of exploding concrete, mortar, metal, glass, and so on. As panzer and gunship methodically cleared block by block, armored carrier dispensed the faceless hazmat suited shock-troops, the Imperial Templar Purifiers. They who could not be swayed, bought, or pleaded with. The foul, fell, language that carried the true Haru forth echoed forth as cleansing the land of resistance. Bullet surgeons, ceasing the last defiant pleas of the rebels before them.

It is here that Khan Graer would emerge into the soot covered day. Templar squad spread out, cautiously moving forward into the urban jungle of the breached foreign city's urban and industrial sprawl. CBAR-01's positioned, flick of three fingers from upraised left arm sent a few of his unit forward. Providing cover fire from their underslung forty millimeter grenade launchers, phosphorus and high explosive rounds were lobbed with ka-thunk sounds echoing into a suspected spot. A wet crumping sound, bodies of soft clothed defenders sent twirling outwards, ragdolls to the whims of gravity. Screaming figures trying to shed their clothing as the phosphorus rounds had impacted amidst them, burning them alive only to die in withering hail of bullets. Each body given an additional round, just to be safe. 

Maybe just over two hundred meters away from where Graer was cautiously edging out into the urban sprawl, Pra'Non, First Ji of the Second Regiment of the 15th Legion Mzil Velven, had advanced with a contingent of Templars further into former Cussian territory, and was now hiding behind a low and often crumbling retaining wall that had protected a garden once. CBAR-01 clutched and a slight peek around the corner, allowing the display of the vision piece worn over left eye to gather findings. A hail of bullets from small arms and other weapons tore shrapnel from the wall and once pristine street. He gave the hand gestures to the rest of his squad, no more then ten to load the 40mm grenade rounds. Shouting towards the machine-gun nest setup during their distraction. 

As the rebel forces scrambled towards a better position while soldiers who had been advancing were caught in the bursting of that weapon, explosions of entrails and organs splashing against the streets and what once were the walls of buildings, Pra'Non and his men rose up and the " Thunk " sound echoed loudly. Grenades arced from their position into the now exposed lead element of the insurgency forces caught out in the open. The result terrible in its beauty. Limbs ripped free of their home, bodies tossed about like rag dolls and now retribution came. 

Pra'Non found the first survivor as they advanced, a rebel soldier of some sort missing portion of leg below the right knee. With eyes wide, withdrew the ceremonial blade, a weapon long associated with brutality as it was double edged and serrated wickedly. Raising it above his head with both hands, grip forming, the swift strike down rewarded with a splash of his enemy's blood across the bottom half of chin.

A slow rise, looking at the corpse as his men did what was necessary. Bayonet thrusts to the living, while doing such. He hadnt seen the armor approaching, the jury rigged tanks that led ancient armored personnel carriers and so forth. Not until the rumble and that sort of look one takes when in a dream. Blade in hand, his rifle upon back there was nothing to be had but death, raising the blade, he screamed at the tank.

The shout made the others turn or look up from sending their foes to the next plane of existence, where the next war would be fought between the souls of the ages past. The first of many shells struck home, knocking many backwards, cartwheeling into rubble when explosive might did not kill them outright. It only took a few seconds of massed firing, the first of many units of Templar to be annihilated by rebel armored cavalry breaking through, pushing their lines ever further into territory they once held earlier. 

Fists of the Emperor
1st Black August Royal Tank Legion 
House Olath Orn Sponsored
Haakon Bridge Commercial Area


An armor piercing high explosive round crumpled a section of the nearest building structure. Since the building was probably already weakened by artillery strikes, and not meant to be a hardened structure, it was easy prey for the S-94A Jelduno Main Battle Tank that crashed through another building. Mortar blocks, cement dust, and other debris trailed down the beast's form as gunfire rattled from the beast, cutting a red swath through the rebel forces that it encountered and or just laid down suppressive fire for good measure. 

Gout's into the flesh of the earth were made by the roars of the armored column, throwing plumes of smoke and a spray of dirt in the form of fine mist and clods. Augustinian Caedalus, Sengar d'isto of the 1st Black August Royal Tank Regiment, waited, guarding a position that held a canal and had been a defended position before his arrival. The rebels and the sympathizers of the area would be sure to send troops this way, and he was to defend against such. The rebels in the area were taking quite a beating, supposedly he might just find his own death, or so his commander had said. Promises, promises. 

Nestled within the cupola of the great beast, the S-94a, he watched the one sided battle of a rebel unit being picked off. A rakish grin formed as he saw an insurgent of some kind with a light machine gun get his head split open like a watermelon and an M80 firecracker going off. The concrete dust and shrapnel littered the area as the support gunner keeled over and twitched a bit from still active nerves.

Yes, this was going smoothly. As long as they kept the spread out rebel infantry units from aiding their brethren, the purge of the enemy forces could be done in a methodical and precise fashion, allowing them to refocus their attention upon the advancing their forces northward to aid the forces advancing from the Haakon bridge position. A hand gesture to his junior ranked officers and the regiments engines rumbled to life.

The horizon was an orange and red mix, it was dark in this morning, and yet the sky was beautiful in it's most horrific of ways. The light, that mixture that burned the heavens was from the war. The constant barrages, rockets, airstrikes, that were pounding the city of Hamai and it's surrounding areas made for a sort of surreal experience in his eyes. 

Hammers of the Emperor
107th Independent Air Defence Regiment


Not to be outdone, the HAF sent it's aerocraft screaming forth from the firebases that were either already available or being constructed, jet streams carved swathes through the blue sky, followed at times by crumpled metal spinning out of control spouting flames and dark smoke towards the ground in ear shattering explosions from the impact. Advancing, Siet-Khan Ke'Bar was playing a deadly game of hide and seek with the insurgency ground forces and their deadly mobile anti-aircraft vehicles and so forth.

Quickly pushed against the pedal with right foot while hand gripped the stick. Left hand against throttle control while Kenyet Altro adjusted the tracking and guidance system as the Mil-24E Hind thundered along, barely twenty meters above the ground. The 20mm Gatling cannon blazing spats of hate towards the enemy lines, assumed positions and like the tank regiment below, adding suppressive fire to the mix. Of course either side was trying to outflank the other. Ke'Bar's orders were clear though, drive the enemy soldiers to keep their heads down while the Army Group Hades forces advanced.

Altro broke him from his daydreaming however with a panicked scream, he blinked and looked at the tracker. A solid pinging sound of a beep echoed throughout the cockpit. He had only moments to close his eyelids before the gunship exploded outwards. The victim of a ground based R4 SAM, that had been fired from the courtyard of an abandoned apartment building.

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On a video screen, the figure of General Ti'Ran shown from his most recently constructed forward command point. The light from said screen helped to further illuminate an otherwise already lit area. A long square table, filled with other ranking officers, consul and the current monarch of the Sovereign Imperium. Aides had already handed out the missive from the Arhomaneia, an office of authority attached that fell into the foreign affairs ministry equivalency and more as much as the Imperium saw them. 

Ji'Mar had already read it, as had those gathered, the Imperium's top leaders, The Council of Nine. On his right, Lesser Prince Ajax Hur Elemmiire, head of The First Circle (Ministry of Foreign Trade Affairs), on the immediate left, newly promoted Fleet Lord Kaorin Renor Elemmiire head of The Second Circle (Military Command and Control). Further down, across from one another Vicelord Garen Thadias Orn of The Seventh Circle (ECC - Imperium Security Services), Vicelord Nize Kra'xuth of The Third Circle (Foreign Affairs Ministry), Grand Admiral Tihun Xun of The Fifth Circle (Naval Command and Control), Aria Hallas Zun, Vicelord of House Tagnik Zun and Fourth Circle (Medical Technology Services Ministry) Consul, Baroness Beira Vek Elemmiire of House Vek Elemmiire head of The Fifth Circle (Social, Health and Population Services Ministry), Duke Yasa Elemmiire Orn II, of House Olath Orn, head of The Sixth Circle (Industrial Oversight and Environmental Services Ministry), and last but not least, Thei'de Kantra Velven, head of The Eighth Circle (Ministry of Religious Affairs and Applications).

Ji'Mar began..My Lords and Ladies of the Council, we are on the precipice it would seem with our most honored ally. Things have been, let us say, less than stellar following the naval exercise in what we know as the Ranke Sea. Perhaps we should have smoothed things over, but that is in hindsight to their protest. He continued after a momentary pause. I believe that we must show the world that our Cussian brothers and sisters, will not be harmed under our occupation and then annexation. Beyond those already fighting of course. Now, you as the council, must offer consul as it were to the state of things, lets us begin. I have invited General Ti'Ran to this meeting, because he is our forward lead of the battlefield.

My Lord Emperor.. A gravelly voice broke through first. Grand Admiral Tihun Xun became the first to share his opinion on the matter at hand. It would be wise to agree to some of these terms, although the religious request does seem like they are fishing. I would, if I were them, be worried over the river borne economy, and I say this to you my liege, that whatever we do in the north, not affect the trade. If they were to close river access, I think even my friend ..He put it tersely at that, towards that of Prince Hur Elemmiire. Would also share these sentiments that we not do this. It might adversely affect our southern neighbor a touch, but it would jeopardize the Imperium's trade significantly. He drew up both hands, and held them just under his chin. I would say, the first and the third articles of this letter, be the ones that we agree to.

I concur my Emperor. Came the voice of the mostly artificial seeming Kantra, High Cleric as well of the most dominant religion within that of the Imperium. Our wise neighbor to the south, knows that we have little tolerance for those that pursue this Christianity ideology. He raise a right index finger adorned in a metal talon of some sort. If we offer humanitarian aid and transport to those who wish to be resettled within the lands of Arhomaneia, then that would be the best course of action. The Arhomanian Parabalanoi is known to those of us in the Eighth Circle, if we were to allow them access to the refugee routes, deployment and delivering, it would better ease this period of transition. Furthermore, to ensure that it appeals to you my Liege, the Eighth Circle will consider this a moment of Holy Endeavor and cover the needs to do so. At the Eighth Circles command is social workers, templar, and transportation abilities. The word only need be given.

Ji'Mar nodded a bit, and glanced towards the screen. And you General, what say you on the matter? Ti'Ran appeared to be in thought, agreeing to the cleric and the others before he spoke. My Emperor, assorted and gathered consul, this decision is heavy. So long as they are not peacekeepers, observers only, my command will allow them access, unfettered to the currently occupied areas. If they wish to ride into the combat zones, then so be it, perhaps the rebels will not shoot at an Arhomaneian observer vehicle.

Those of you who have not spoken up, this means you've agreed to this? The now Emperor turned his attentions to the several house lords and others. A voice spoke up, belonging to Vicelord Nize Kra'xuth of The Third Circle (Social Services and Population Ministry). My Emperor, I am the acting voice for those that have not put their words to play, they abide by the agreements and so forth put so by their counterparts and shall abide by any ruling that you so deem to make from it.

Ji'Mar offered a rueful shake of head, slow to crack the neck as he leaned backward into the simple chair that he had claimed. A slight pinch of fingers against the luxurious suit worn, as if to see if the silk really was such before he spoke.Very well, my decision is thus. We shall allow for the observers, the resettlement of these Christians to Arhomaneia, and at the Grand Admirals advice, we shall not threaten nor build up of anything past the normal in the main river thoroughbout. I expect river patrols to be maintained, keeping smuggling and piracy to our standard levels of near non-existence. Military deployment options will avoid our river link with Arhomaneia, and we shall take all measures to avoid this. He raised his right hand towards the screen. 

General, if they accept these terms, you will be notified of observers being deployed. Since they will more then likely have to come through the Imperium or via the sea, have you secured an Northern port? The General nodded somewhat. My Emperor, the forces of the 283rd Legionnaires 'Mzil Velven' Motor Rifle Regiment, 15th Legionnaires 'Renor Xukuth' Motor Rifle Regiment, and the 97th Sargtlin Armored Corps has seized the rail and commercial port of Ulusk near our border with the Cussian territories. Under the command of General Riksha Valk Sargtlin, the port has been occupied nearly from the start. The rail line is under protection, and leads towards our current deployment area. If the Arhomaneian observers wish to come via there, they may do so. 

A nod from the seated Emperor. Thank you General Ti'Ran, may your troops earn glory. The monitor faded as did the man, until the picture became black. Wordlessly, he looked over a small reply to be sent back. 

2Mqg4oN.jpg

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

From: The offices of The Third Circle (Foreign Affairs Ministry), via Vicelord Nize Kra'xuth, on behalf of the Emperor of the Sovereign Imperium

On behalf of the Emperor, The Council of the Nine and Military Officers in the field, the following has been authorized,

Notice via the commanding officer of the Northern Occupation, General Ti'Ran of the Army Group Hades Task-force.

The rules of war are being applied. Enemy combatants as dictated by this law is being adhered to. Those who surrender, shall be redirected to holding facilities until such a time they can be dealt with. All prisoners and conditions will be available to observers and members of the Arhomaniki Red Cross Organization.

The Sovereign Imperium will allow the following;

  • Observers from Arhomaneia to both occupied and combat zones within the northern Cussian territory.
  • The resettlement of Christian persons to Arhomaneia, and the usage of Arhomanian Parabalanoi to offer any medical care that is not covered under the authority of the The Eighth Circle (Ministry of Religious Affairs and Applications)
Edited by Haruspex
renaming red cross from tagmatium
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The three words that Tagmatine bureaucracy hated and feared the most were “inter-ministerial working group”.

Budget cuts – they could be weathered, even if it meant going without the Mauridivian coffee or other luxuries for a while. Departmental mergers or splits – well, they could be painful, certainly, but they were rare and could be worked so that rivals were left out in the cold. Even the horror of horrors of secondment might end up displaying the bureaucrat's talents of rising above the ignorant and the lazy – after all, one of the other Logothesia had requested help and therefore was demonstrating its weakness for all to see.

Any of these gross infringements on the ancient dignities of the Megas Agios Basileia's civil service were nothing like having to cooperate on an equal footing.

Having to work together with other Logothesia was anathema to the average Arhomaiki bureaucrat. The other ministries tended to close ranks against the outsider and refuse to do anything simply or easily, and their own ministry began to regard the official more and more as a perfidious traitor the longer the supposed cooperation dragged on. This often meant that the working groups could take years longer than necessary to perform the task put before them. It was rumoured that some were still going on decades after they had been convened, with the representatives from each Logothesia locked in a struggle that had long ceased to mean anything to the rest of the government or nation. There were whispers that one such group, made up of members of the Ministries for Agriculture, the Environment and Trade were still investigating the impact of the importation of the potato might have on the native staple foods centuries after that tuber had become part of everyday cuisine.

And, on top of that, the actual Megas Logothetes was likely to try to portray any genuinely productive ideas or outcomes as their own. After all, they were in charge. The work would then be paraded before the rest of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion as how their own personnel could work with others, despite the pitfalls, traps and misinformation placed in their way. Which, in turn, would rankle with the other Megaloi Logothetai and cause them to try to steer away from anything other than forced cooperation in the future.

It was with good reason that the average Arhomaios loathed dealing with their own country's civil service. It had even become proverbial amongst the rest of Eurth for being convoluted, twisted and bickering to the point of self-sabotage.

This inter-ministerial working group was different. The Inter-Ministerial Working Group for the Relocation of the Koussoeioi – consciously not using the term for the Christian denomination that was being sent to Arhomaneia by Machina @Haruspex - had been put into place very quickly and had a very sharp idea of the task put before it. It had been made clear from the start by the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator that he would brook no delay. The task set before it had to be completed efficiently and quickly, as time was of the essence. The Logothesion ton Genikou, the Ministry for Finance, had presented almost a blank cheque for putting whatever plan that resulted into practice, amid much grumbling. It was emphasised by His Imperial Majesty that the prestige of Arhomaneia was at stake. After all, the job of finding somewhere for millions of refugees to go would be no easy task. Or, in all honesty, a pleasant one.

Especially since the Gharoi news service had shown all the rights that would be taken away from those who stayed and how ill-treated they would be.

Rumour had it that the Megaloi Logothetai of the Ministries of Internal Affairs, War and Foreign Affairs played the ancient game of mikatio to try to work out whose Logothesion would take charge of the working group. The loser had been the Megas Logothetes ton Dromou, the Minister of Internal Affairs.

It was then that Hyperlogothes Evangelia Herikleta of that Logothesion had found herself sat the head of a table, surrounded by faces that had become all too well known to her since the start of the working group. Besides a smattering of people from her own ministry, there were representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, War and Transport, as well as two military officers, one from the Noumeroi, the regular army. It spoke volumes about the difficulty of the task that no soldiers from the much more glamorous Basilikostrates, the Imperial Army, were present. They didn't want anything to reflect poorly on them, after all. The civilians were dressed in the de facto uniform of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, the sober business suit. One, however, wore a purple tie. That was the signifier of being a member of the Mystikon, the personal staff of the Tagmatine monarch. A living reminder that Kommodos himself was taking a very keen interest in the progress of this group.

Behind Heraklita, a screen showed the expected movements of the refugee trains from Machina Haruspex, whilst other symbols denoted the camps that had already been set up, whilst the table, and the room beyond, was spread with stacks of files and paper work that seemed to not be in any particular order, although that was deceptive. That so much had been achieved was a testament to what Tagmatine bureaucracy could actually do when suitably appraised of the necessity of speed. It was the height of summer in central Europa and the room felt intolerably hot, despite the stone walls and floor and being buried deep in the otherwise closed Imperial Palace Complex. The only people who seemed to be unfazed by the heat were the representative of the Logothesion for War and the agent from the Mystikon.

“As you can see from the map, we have been able to set up the transit camps significantly ahead of the movement of refugees,” said the Logothetes for War, Staurakios Zoilos. He seemed to be blithely proof to the pressures that the group was under. Heraklita didn't know whether he was demonstrating a cool head or a thick skull. “So far, the pioneers under Taxiarkhes Khilboudia have been successful in scaling up the design and building of military camps in order to cope with the influx of refugees in the west.”

The pioneer general nodded her head at this mention. The expression on her faced seemed to be one of resignation – Heraklita imagined that the soldier must think it an impossible task, like she did. She kept that to herself, however. The Mystikon representative was taking notes on a tablet whilst the rest of them were speaking and that sent a shudder down the Hyperlogothes' spine. Whilst she did want a productive career in her ministry, she did not necessarily want to come to the attention of the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator.

“It, of course, speaks highly of our armed forces that they have been able to do so at such short notice,” Logothetes Zoilos continued. “I know that, as Arhomaiki, they have millennia of experience of making camps at such short notice, but the discipline demonstrated is a credit to them.”

Heraklita tried to stop an exasperated expression from crossing her face and Khilboudia caught it and smiled to herself. The pioneer general shuffled the papers in front of her in order to cover her reaction.

“The Epistrategaion is not all that happy with having to give up land under its control,” pointed out the second officer, who was from the navy. His trousers bore the purple stripes down the seams that denoted attachment to the Tagmatine high command. The choice of a Basilikoploimon officer, Heraklita suspected, was an oblique snub towards the goals of the working group. Or, alternatively, a sign that the high command would nod through anything that was asked of it. The 2005 Civil War had seen the majority of the navy turn on the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion before being slaughtered by a coalition of friendly nations. They were now the most politically reliable of the armed forces, after the air force.

The Epistrategaion can go f*ck themselves thought the Hyperlogothetes, the heat of the room and the stress of the task making her cool crack, at least internally. Instead of voicing that opinion, she ran a hand through her hair. That it was already looking messy was a sign that she'd done that numerous times already. “I assume that Logothetes Zoilos has relayed to the Epistrategaion via his Logothesion that this is purely of a temporary measure. It will last as until a more permanent place for the refugees is found, which will be very soon. And was, of course, agreed to by your esteemed superiors.”

The naval officer grunted to himself and didn't offer a reply. The Mystikon agent looked long and hard at the officer, who either didn't notice or deigned to not notice. The agent's iron-grey hair was done up tightly in a bun and she reminded Heraklita of nothing other than a stern headmistress, albeit one who likely had the ear of the most powerful individual in the Megas Agios Basileia.

“Continuing that, as the Gharoi are relying on the rail network to move the Gerenians through to us, my Logothesion is worried about the impact that that will have on the rail network. Both passenger and freight services will be at a loss if we aren't allowed to plan properly.” The member of the Logothesion ton Basternon, the Ministry for Transport, sounded overly pompous to Heraklita's ears, but he was entirely right. He didn't help his image of pomposity by stroking his beard as he talked.

Gerenians... If there was one thing that the Hyperlogothetes could be thankful for, it was that her working group was not covering the actual resettlement of the Koussoeioi. They were, after all, heretics. Heretics that had fled Arhomaneia rather than acknowledge orthodoxy and had been... if not hostile, then certainly standoffish towards Tagmatium over the centuries, only forced into cooperation when the Gharoi threatened their home nation of Koussoeia. Heraklita thanked God nightly that she wasn't having to deal with the Church on this matter, although she also prayed to Him that the Gerenians would find true religion now that they were being forced to flee to God's chosen nation on Eurth.

“Of course, Hypologothetes Gelestathos. Your ministry is there to make sure that there is no such impact on the ordinary Arhomaios. Or at least to minimise it for the duration of what needs to be done.” Why the shit was she having to explain this to him? He was literally here to do this. “The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion will liaise with the Gharoi to make sure that trade does not suffer, nor our commuters or businesses. They are reasonable people, after all. They need the train lines and the waterways kept open, arguable more than we do.”

Centuries of propaganda said that the Gharoi were not reasonable, but that wasn't something to be touched on right now. Not after the alliance between Gharoa and Arhomaneia almost a decade ago. It had been one of the biggest diplomatic coups in the history of the Megas Agios Basileia.

But if the Gharoi were a reasonable people, then they would not be leaping quite so readily onto what amounted to ethnic cleansing of the territories they were conquering. It was why parts of the Logothesion ton Barbaron and the Arhomaiki Noimosyni Dykton, the intelligence service, were more keen on letting the Christian minority remain in Koussoeia and act as a thorn in the side of the Haru. That, however, as the Hyperlogothetes guessed, would likely end as a massacre. Or a repeated cycle of massacre and armed resistance. From a humanitarian standpoint, Heraklita knew that her government couldn't let that happen.

With a sigh that made it beyond her internal censors, the Hyperlogothetes continued. “Now that we have we have started on the topic of the movement of the Koussoeioi, we must begin to consider who will be policing them whilst they are within the temporary camps.”

Two of the members around the table sat up straight. One was from the Logothesion ton Praitoriou, the Ministry for Police and wore the pitch black uniform of the police, the the other from the Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion, the Secret Police, and was in light grey. Again, the Tagmatine world of internal politics dictated matters. The Secret Police was part of the the Logothesion ton Dromou, but the police had been made their own separate ministry several years ago, as a reform by Kommodos to reduce the power of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“I fear that at this point, with the power invested within this working group, that this is not a decision that I can make on my own authority.” Dodging the bullet there.... “However, we will have to continue to investigate the matter of the Koussoeioi being moved to the Megas Agios Basileia. We will, however, continue to make recommendations.”

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One of the most recent articles from the @Orioni-based news group, Roiters, did not make for good morning reading for the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, and for a multitude of reasons. The paranoiac and militaristic regime that rules Prathen, that had always ruled Prathen, would likely take it as a sign that the Entente of Oriental States was looking to involve itself in what the Sovereign Imperium regarded as an internal matter. That Machina @Haruspex had allowed Arhomaiki observers in to make sure that no war crimes were carried out had been considered a huge victory by Tagmatika. Especially since it seemed that, internally, the Gharoi viewed it as a gross breach of their own sovereignty. That they had agreed to it at least meant that they recognised the controversy that the population movement would cause.

Perhaps it was no surprise that the Beautiful Empire, or the EOS, had taken issue with the population transfers. The Orhionioi had been amongst the first to condemn the slaver states when they had reared their heads again, and ethnic cleansing on this scale was always going to catch the attention of the rest of the wurld. At least Greater Serbia had had the sense to try to obscure it, even if it had been quite a flimsy disguise.

The information about possible Entente involvement in the Gharoi invasion of the Glorious Dominate was enough to cause the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator to call an emergency meeting of the Agios Basilikon Vestiarion. The summons had arrived with each cabinet member early in the morning. In the case of Honorios Kontarian, he had taken a grip on the handle of his front door when a knock sounded against it. He was about to go to his ministry to start on the business of the day. When he opened it on the second knock, he saw one of the Maghlabitai, the imperial agents and bodyguards, stood dressed in golden armour, red robes and clutching a golden mace, and who almost seemed equally surprised. They stared at each other for a moment, before the guard directed the Megas Logothetes for War down to the car that was already waiting outside of his town house in one of the most affluent areas of the Tagmatine capital.

Kontarian was ushered through the Imperial Palace Complex, although at more or less the usual pace. After all, protocol still needed to be observed. This was the heart of God's chosen nation on Eurth, and He must be given thanks. Prayers needed to be said, and incense wafted. Kontarian knew that he had become somewhat numb to it all over the years, and part of him knew he needed to shake that. He was, after all, exceedingly lucky to be one of the Imperial Cabinet. That was by God's will, and only God's will.

Nonetheless, as he entered the room where the cabinet meeting was taking place, the Megas Logothetes ton Stratiotikou winced when he caught sight of the image projected onto the screen behind Kommodos. The monarch of Tagmatium sat as rigidly as ever, but the picture of a vast crowd of refugees moving through a shattered town made even the minister of war stop for a moment. He recognised the banner above the image, and knew it boded no good.

Bows had to be made towards the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator and prayers still had to be said as Kontarian entered the presence of the Representative of God on Eurth, however, and he concentrated on those before he took his customary seat near the monarch, as befitting the head of the Ministry of War. Years of working closely with Kommodos meant that Honorios felt that he could read the typically composed expression of his sovereign, and he thought he could detect worry there. As usual, the cabinet had been summoned in order of seniority of their Logothesia, so Kontarian had arrived at almost the same time as the Logothetai for Foreign Affairs, Finance and Internal Affairs. The other three didn't pause as they saw the image, so presumably they'd not been looking at the polo league tables as Kontarian had over breakfast, but had been keeping on top of the events of the wurld.

Kommodos led them in prayer before the meeting itself started. Despite the hurried nature of the cabinet meeting, the usual array of staff appeared and served the ministers teas and coffees, all made to the specific tastes of the recipients. It was originally a power play, to show that Kommodos knew them all as much as they knew themselves, but Honorios thought it quite convenient these days. It meant that he didn't have to ask for less milk and only a spoonful of sugar in his own tea.

“At least Roiters seems to be taking a better view of our involvement than our own media,” said Arkhiepiskopos Kalothetos, the Megas Logothetes for Information, brightly. He seemed to be trying to reduce the gravitas of the situation. Honorios didn't know if the man just wasn't quite grasping what seemed to be being threatened by the Entente.

He seemed to wither under the death glares from almost everyone else around the table. Only the Megas Logothetes ton Ilektrikon seemed to find the comment funny. His snicker was the only noise for a moment. The archbishop tried to rally.

“We offered to take the refugees in, and some papers are implying that we support the Gharoi as they try to expunge the Gerenians from the Glorious Dominate. At least the barbaroi know that isn't the case.”

'Expunge'... That was an awfully blunt word to use, thought Kontarian.

“Thank you, Arkhiepiskopos,” said Kommodos. He did not look very thankful for the comments made by the Megas Logothetes ton Deeson. He glared at the archbishop further and the man truly did seem to wilt in his seat. “I have called this meeting as the recent noises from the Entente of Oriental States seems to suggest that they could well involve themselves in Gharoi invasion of the Glorious Dominate. This would be justified under their charter through a clause added just over a year ago, in which they awarded themselves the right to intervene in another nation's affairs in the case of 'genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.'”

Oops... That was not good.

The image on the screens set in front of the Logothetai changed to display the particular amendment to the Entente's charter. With a sinking feeling in his stomach, Honorios read over the lines again. His eyes flicked up and looked over at his friend Goulielmos, but the man was looking down at his own screen still.

“Despite the fact that, since the ascension of Ji'Mar as monarch of the Gharoi, they have been happy to push the metaphorical and occasional literal boundaries between our nations, Arhomaneia and Gharon remain within a defensive alliance,” continued Kommodos. “If the Entente attempts to intervene in the invasion of the Glorious Dominate, precisely how the events play out may force our hand, one way or another.”

Perhaps if it had been another Tagmatine monarch who had agreed to the alliance between Machina Haruspex and Tagmatium, Kommodos might have been willing to let it dissolve due to the burgeoning international situation. It had, however, been one of the more contentious, and then celebrated, moments of his monarchy – forging an alliance between two nations that had spent centuries either at war or glowering at each other across the border. Finally, the two Occidental empires had been free to try to create a future together, one without the hanging threat of war. The alliance had been tested, certainly, but never so close to home. Perhaps it wasn't worry that Kontarian had felt he saw, but sadness instead. The legacy of peace that Kommodos had hoped to see built was potentially slipping away.

He was a harsh, unbending man who had likely ordered dozens, if not hundreds, of rebels shot without trial in the aftermath of the Civil War of 2005, but Honorios couldn't help but feel a flicker of pity for the Agios Basileos at that moment. Especially since Honorios knew that he had to put the boot in and bring things back to reality.

“We are faced with a choice, your majesty,” he said. “If, and it is a big 'if', the Entente attempt to stop the... 'population transfer' between us and the Gharoi, then the terms of the defensive alliance may not be triggered. Strictly speaking. After all, the Sovereign Imperium itself is not being invaded. We could sit out any conflict that then takes place, without having broken the treaty that was signed by Sa'Karn and yourself. If not, we do risk war with the Entente.”

Alliances are nothing more than ink on paper, after all. Or so it is said. But if it is your signature on that paper...

It was the Minister for the Environment that broke the silence after Honorios had finished speaking. The big, bearded man wore the simple robes of a country priest sat back in his chair and pulled out a pipe. Smoking had long been banned within the Imperial Palace Complex, so Paulos Narses merely stuck the empty pipe into his mouth and sucked on it for a moment before speaking. Everyone else was watching him and the whistling of the air through the pipe was the only noise that broke the silence. The smell of old pipe tobacco still seemed to flood into the room. The pantomime gesture was enough to get all the other men and women in the room to look at him and sit in silence before he spoke. Someone coughed at the smell but Honorios didn't see who.

“Your majesty,” the Megas Logothetes ton Agelon began after a long pause. “We can emphasise to the Entente that there are Arhomaiki peacekeepers – and this is a term used by the Gharoi themselves, we did only suggest observers after all – in the Glorious Dominate are there to try to help a peaceful handover of power to the Gharoi. As distasteful as that might be, considering we have worked with the Koussoeioi many, many times before now against the Sovereign Imperium. The Gharoi will hate it, but it is the best that might happen at the moment. We must stress to them that they need to approach this matter through political means, more than just shelling anything not moving and expelling everything that does. Hopefully, then, that will avert anything untoward happening.”

When the Presbyteros Narses finished, silence reigned again. Everyone else was quiet. They were all likely thinking about the points that the priest had brought up. Honorios allowed himself a sideways glance along the table towards where Kommodos was sitting. The Tagmatine monarch had taken up his usual pose of elbows on the table, with fingers steepled and face entirely impassive. Perhaps Honorios had been too imaginative in attributing feelings to him.

It was Eugenios Goulielmos who broke the latest silence. “The problem is, of course, is that the Entente has effectively appointed itself hegemon of Europa. This is a monstrous development and it cannot be allowed to stand. Especially since its tentacles have reached as far as Ide Jima now, sadly. But giving the Entente reason to meddle beyond where it belongs just strengthens this. Battling pirates in the south is where they belong. If we and the Gharoi are working at loggerheads like this, if the Gharoi are waging war in such a manner as to allow this extra-national organisation an excuse to meddle, then it weakens every other nation in Europa.”

If the Megas Agios Basileia's other traditional allies were as active, the Grand Federal Imperium of @Adaptus and the Sublime Principate of @Akiiryu, then this would not be as much of a problem.

“Effectively, I must ask Ji'Mar to entirely reverse what he has been doing, and to attempt something approaching a political union with the Koussoeioi, rather than a military conquest?” asked Kommodos.

Goulielmos shrugged, which did not entirely lend his opinion that much credit. “Yes, your majesty.”

The Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron seemed to realise this, however. “If they have the money and the will to spend on a military invasion, then they certainly have the money spare to try to bribe the remaining elite of Koussoeia to come over to their side. It would be significantly cheaper than the war they might well end up fighting.”

“If the Entente do attempt an intervention, then we do have several choices,” said Kontarian, although he sighed loudly. “If it's merely an embargo, we can keep trading, although we will likely suffer economically. If we try to remain neutral, then both sides would try to drag us into a war on their side. As a wurld power, we cannot be ignored. The Epistrategaion has numerous projections, but none of them are great. We are likely to win any defensive war, so long as it remains conventional. If not, then we have the time and money to try something... else.”

Kontarian allowed a pregnant pause to develop. Everyone knew what the Minister for War meant. The Agios Basileos kai Autokrator looked straight into Kontarian's eyes for an uncomfortably long time. “I know what you mean, and no. That was a policy of the Navarkhokrateia, and it will remain as such. It will not start again as long as I rule Arhomaneia.”

Honorios nodded. A line had been crossed. “Please forgive me, your majesty.”

“It is most certainly not me that you need to ask forgiveness of, Endoxotatos,” replied Kommodos. “You will have to perform a penance for that. May God have mercy upon you.”

“Nonetheless, imperial sovereign,” said the Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron, “We must make sure that the Entente is aware that they cannot meddle where they like. I do not wish to be the one that advertises the fact, and I would prefer that we remain as trading partners.”

The monarch of Tagmatium nodded. “A further degradation does not serve the Arhomaioi.”

With that, Kommodos stood, as did the rest of the room.

“That will be all, Endoxotatoi.”

All of the ministers bowed as the Leader of the Free Wurld left the room.


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To: His Imperial Majesty, Ji'Mar, Emperor of the Sovereign Imperium of Machina Haruspex

From: Kommodos III, Agios Basileos kai Autokrator ton Arhomaion

Your majesty,

It has likely come to your notice that most of the policies that you and your nation have enacted during your takeover of the former Koussoeia have begun to meet with backlash. I will not distract you with the opinions that me and my country have of these – you undoubtedly already know of them.

The main issues that are being faced – and sadly this is the both of us, not just yourself – is that your policy of population movement is being read as ethnic cleansing. And it is as such, let us not beat around the bush. It means that the Entente of Oriental States is beginning to feel that it has a reason to possibly meddle in your annexation of the Glorious Dominate.

I will not bore you with Arhomaneia's issues with events as they are, but I believe that we do need to face events as they might be. It appears that the Entente may attempt an intervention, but this can readily be stalled at this early phase.

What next needs to happen is that your government needs to try to strike more of a political and personal deal with the remains of the government of the Glorious Dominate, rather than military conquest. This will likely be less expensive, although I am of course aware of your nations' history. Similarly, the ethnic cleansing which is taking place needs to be halted, and the presence of Arhomaiki observers needs to emphasised.

I believe we may need to discuss this further.

May God grant you the will to carry on,

Kommodos,

By the Grace of Christ the God,

Agios Basileos kai Autokrator

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Recently crowned Emperor Ji'mar sat in a high-backed chair, his arms resided upon the rests of such, and an impassive look was given down the expanse of a long square table, filled with other ranking officers, house nobility and consul. Aides had already handed out the missive from the Arhomaneia, an office of authority attached that fell into the foreign affairs ministry equivalency and more as much as the Imperium saw them. 

Ji'Mar had already read it, as had those gathered, the Imperium's top leaders, The Council of Nine. On his right, Lesser Prince Ajax Hur Elemmiire, on the immediate left, Fleet Lord Kaorin Renor Elemmiire. Further down, across from one another Vicelord Garen Thadias Orn, Vicelord Nize Kra'xuth, Grand Admiral Tihun Xun, Aria Hallas Zun, Baroness Beira Vek Elemmiire, Duke Yasa Elemmiire Orn II, and last but not least, Thei'de Kantra Velven.

Also in attendance were several nobles of the houses that served. Tiyu Havsu of House Bel'la Kyorl, Kaorin Huat Jargo of House Vlos, Su'Nal Valk of House Sargtlin and Ria Mel'Ana of House Mzil Velven.

Ji'Mar began..My Lords and Ladies of the Council, associated members of the house nobility and military officers. It would seem that the wurld beyond, takes a dim view of our efforts to reclaim land, to annex our kin's bloodline into our own. They do not see the monumental effort to ship thousands upon thousands of these Christian's to the lands of Arhomaneia. So much so that they believe we are killing them outright, some sort of ethnic cleansing as it were. 

My Lord Emperor.. A gravelly voice broke through first. Grand Admiral Tihun Xun became the first to share his opinion again on the matter at hand. These Christians are not our brothers or sisters. They are expats from the Arhomaneia lands are they not? We are doing them a service, sending them home ..He gently nodded owards that of Thei'de Kantra Velven. Would also share these sentiments that we do this. The northern lands, the former home of our brethren has been occupied by these heathens, and more than a few have the gall to resist change. He drew up both hands, and held them just under his chin. They ruined their nest, fouling it with a drug and human traffiking network to fuel what was left of the economy in their hands. 

I concur my Emperor. Came the voice of the mostly artificial seeming Kantra, High Cleric as well of the most dominant religion within that of the Imperium. Our wise neighbor to the south, knows that we have little tolerance for those that pursue this Christianity ideology, it was bound to be this way, or something far worse. He raise a right index finger adorned in a metal talon of some sort, letting it click against the table in a methodical fashion. We have done what is needed, and we have allowed the heathens of the south to observe us with their The Arhomanian Parabalanoi and their Peacekeepers. They are everywhere, attached to every combat legion advancing or within the occupied zones. If this Entente is so keen to know the conditions in the North, they have but to ask the Arhomanians of such. They are, after all, there with us.

Ji'Mar nodded a bit, and glanced towards the nobles present. Our people supported us during this invasion of the north, do they still now? Ria Mel'Ana took the lead. My Lord Emperor, the populace is overjoyed with this movement. Census taken over the last few years, about the condition of the former lands of the Glorious Dominate has evoked anger, fear, and sadness more often than not. A faint tilt of head towards Ria as Ji'Mar considered her words. She continued. The citizenry are behind you my Lord Emperor. As are the houses, and the guilds. If we put the intentions of the Entente before the people, they will defend our right to annexation and denounce this intent to intervene.

A voice spoke up, belonging to Vicelord Nize Kra'xuth. My Emperor, if the Entente does intend to make itself a third party in this affair, what happens if they attempt to stop our forces?

Ji'Mar offered a rueful shake of head, slow to crack the neck as he leaned backward into the simple chair that he had claimed. A slight pinch of fingers against the luxurious suit worn, as if to see if the silk really was such before he spoke. We will crush them. A slow look about the military officers who were as stern as he himself was, and to the rest who took in the merest of words that he had spoken. He continued on after gaining their full attention. Give them the opportunity should they wish it to partake in the same role as that of Arhomania. If they refuse, and they are intent on landing ground forces or some such, I give authorization here and now to the military command, to respond with lethal force. The Occident is our home, we share it with several powers. Arhomania to the south, the Adaptons to the west. They are fools to think we will not defend our right and our destiny to bring our kin under our protection, to rebuild the glorious north. When the warlords of the insurgency are gone, when the basic needs and luxuries of the people are allowed once more, when they are troubled no more by this religious outcast sect making trouble, our northern kin will have peace and prosperity. 

 

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

From: The offices of The Third Circle (Foreign Affairs Ministry), via Vicelord Nize Kra'xuth, on behalf of the Emperor of the Sovereign Imperium

On behalf of the Emperor, The Council of the Nine, Imperial Houses, and Military Officers of the High Command, the following has been authorized,

No. There will be no reduction in activity, no political advance sought from the insurgency and the warlords who command them. The Christian's, those who identify as such, will continue to be shipped to Arhomaneia as agreed upon. The Northern Lands belong to us, our brothers and sisters will become apart of the Imperium, and they shall bless it with their bloodlines, empowering our great land, to bolster its culture and creadence of life and right. 

If the Entente intends to make landfall within our zones of operation, they will be counted as hostile unless, they agree to the role that your esteemed nation has already undertaken. Observers and medical personnel. If they attempt hostile actions, the forces of the Imperium will respond with all that we have to bear. We will burn this new wurld of theirs to ash and blackened earth.

I speak of this, as seriously as I can. You whom have fought against us, have stood before us, have seen our forces in action before, and what it took to bring it to a halt. Before it was the father of this new age, there is no more derision, diversion within the Imperium. We stand united, and we will not bow before anyone, or any organization that seeks to meddle in our affairs.

Edited by Haruspex
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The Trains Never Stop...and a Kenyet's Tale

Osla Euki, Kenyet of 8th Platoon, 2nd Company, 1st Regiment, Samara 12th Buki Elghinn Infantry Legion, watched as the flood of Christians, the so called 'Gerenians' that the Arhomaniki Red Cross workers and the occasional Arhomaneian military observer seemed to call them, lined up one after another. The jackbooted Department B Ehdaneun-ECC officers on the outskirts, always looking in, never a moment of anything beyond a reflection of the emotions residing within that flock as it marched along with few worldly possessions. 

This process proceeded in a relatively orderly fashion but when it was over it was just like a fairground. There was a load of rubbish, and next to this rubbish were ill people, unable to walk, perhaps a child that had lost its mother. This meant a new space on the train would have to be made, and thus the soldiers would do so. Many of them had been pulled from garrison duty within the central core, put to work here in making sure each and every counted and confirmed Gerenian was put to the train and shipped to the hand over point with the Arhomaneian's, some some two hundred kilometers away. 

It was all rather mind blowing to him, as he stood there with his rifle at the ready for a people who were so broken, they had no honor to speak of. No will of their own. They shuffled wherever told and the trains were filling up by the minute. Due to the participation of the Christian's of the south, the trains were filled to their proper capacity, no more,no less. Medical personnel and so forth would accompany, these people, they would be fed and cared for, right up until their deposit. Wasted resources as he saw it, but orders were orders, and he would carry them out.

Osla was a young man, and its always the young who carry out the orders of the old. Born as a son of a factory worker and a teacher, Osla dreamed of being in the military, of being apart of the honored legions. In the period of isolationism, that probably wouldnt have happened, but with the death of the former emperor, things had begun to progressively change. So, without telling his father or his mother, Osla went along to a recruitment office of the Buki Elghinn, . “And when he came home his father said, I was hoping that because you were wearing glasses you wouldn’t be accepted. And then he said, I’m sorry, but you’ll see what you’ll get out of this. Committed as his father was to the Nationalist cause, he was reluctant to see his son be deployed to the North.

What he got out of his membership of this elite corps was, initially, a job in administration as a bookkeeper. He was not at all displeased by this posting. It was actually quite beneficial really, allowing him to learn a trade beyond what his father did.

He worked as a bookkeeper for a year until September 2019, when the order came through that fit, healthy members of the Buki Elghinn working in salary administration centers were to be transferred to more challenging duties, with the administrative jobs reserved for returning veterans disabled at the front: So, under the assumption that we would now enter a fighting unit, about two hundred of us went with our luggage and got on a train to Tiksi. It was very strange he'd thought, because generally an order would have come to go to a troop-mustering place, but that didn’t happen.

Osla and his comrades reported to one of the Ehdaneun-ECC economic offices, located in a “beautiful building” in the western reaches city of Tiksi. They were then directed to a conference room where they were addressed by several high-ranking Ehdaneun-ECC officers of Department B.

Found it all really quite odd, and he was reminded that he had sworn an oath with the motto ‘Duty earns Victory, Victory is Life,’ and that he could prove this loyalty by doing this task which was now given to him, the details of which were would find out later. Then a subordinate officer, a man with the rank of Ji, addressed all of us who were there that day. He said we were to keep absolutely silent about this task. It was top-secret, so that neither our relatives or friends or comrades or people who were not in the unit were to be told anything about it. So we had to march forward individually and sign a statement to this effect.

Once in the courtyard of the building, he stood still as his comrades were split into smaller groups, given their individual destinations, and then transported to various stations where they boarded trains. Osla stared at his orders, not knowing the garrison it was, only that it was the furest ward of Tiksi, crossing the great barrier of the Jesshc d' Thalack, The Exterior Defensive Line, to the ward of Hosios. And our troop leader, who had the papers, said we had to report to the commandant of the Chimera Garrison Transfer Station. He’d never heard of the Chimera GTS before, he knew the term of course, but Chimera must have been new.

Osla and his group arrived late in the evening and were directed by military police to the main camp, where they reported to the central administrative building and were allocated “provisional” bunks in the barracks. The other members of the garrison they met in the barracks that night were friendly and welcoming. It'd been hours since he had eaten anything, and the other legionnaires were quite welcoming. Asking if he'd eaten anything yet? When he said he'd hadn’t, they got him and the others something. He found himself surprised that in addition to the basic deployment rations, there was also extra food available, consisting of tins of herring and sardines, loaves of fresh bread and sausage. Their new friends also had rum and vodka, which they put on the table and said, Help yourself.

Christians leaving the North. At this point he was rather shocked, he'd read the newspapers and seen the news and so forth, but it had been all so very far away. A concern that was not his until now.After a moment of eating he asked, ‘What kind of place is this?’ and they said we should find out for ourselves, that it’s a transfer point for the Christian's coming from the Northern Territories.

It was a shock, that you cannot take in at the first moment, and it took him some time. Once he came to terms with his duty, it was made more clearly as he thought about it. It had always been this way. even from before now, the propaganda that he had listened to s a boy in the press, the media, the general society he took for granted and lived in made every citizen of the imperium aware that the Christians were actually the cause of the misery. Convinced by the worldview that there was a great conspiracy of Christians against us, and that thought was expressed in the Northern Territories. The enemies who are within our kins land are being removed because its necessary. Osla remembered his duty after a bit of these thoughts as he buttoned up his tunic, and sliding on the combat vest over and about the uniform he'd come to wear.

And that he would take his place on this ramp, next to the trains, always next to the trains, and he would wave the flock upwards and towards a boarding area. Two by two, filling the arks of steel and electric, for a journey to the southern hand off point until such time as he need not do such. Eventually there wouldnt be anymore Christians, eventually his duty would take him elsewhere..

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Hades Taskforce Hamaii Command Post
0830, Ten minutes after council meeting

General Ti'Ran sat there rubbing the bridge of his nose and sighing disparingly as heaving a stack of dossiers and what not onto the metal table in the prefabricated bunker command post within the city center of Hamaii. A group of men and women awaited, notable and trusted field commanders one and all. He turned to them, hands falling to his hips. " We've just gotten ride of the Cuidrsah (Haru term for the Arhomaneian's), and now we have Ehdanmubanc (Slang and disparaging reference towards Ivericans and Gallambrians though not limited to them). Command has lost their balls. We are so close to ridding our lands of this one god filth, and now our hands are tied again."

He sighed again, holding hands behind back somewhat before speaking again, " The ehdanmubanc..ehm, our esteemed guests of Iverican and Gallambrian origins will undoubtedly seize the chance that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has passed along, to come and be amongst the active combat zones and the occupied territory. You will be tasked with maintaining sectors, just as you've always done, but now you will have foreign observers more then likely at some point.

Aodi Ki'Mare, a Prata Khan of the 77th Mzil Velven spoke then. " General, will they follow the seaport arrival then? If that is the case, they will be in my sector of deployment." Ti'Ran offered a faint nod of head as if in thought. " More then likely, there isnt a civilian aeroport within any range for them to land that way, and the council has not mentioned any deployment of observers other then the one that the Arhomaneian's were granted, via the seaport within your sector."

He continued. " See, this is the information we need. At least with the Arhomaneian's we understood them a bit, they were close and could be counted on a reliable form of activity. Its only a small thanks that I give to the custodial camps that we arent wasting both our times bothering to ship this vermin."

He turned about once more, the banner of the Imperium hanging behind the desk, and he glanced at it while speaking obviously to his command staff. " Remember this my comrades, that are very nature hangs in the balance. The precipice of our civilization dangles as these vermin would seek our eradication, our conversion to their hersey. It is for the good of our sons, our daughters, our families, that we break them, we deny their existence and cleanse them. There can be no greater, or holier purpose. Remember that. As these observers come, these fools from another land, pity them, for they cannot fathom our just cause. Give no heed, no weeping to these vermin, they arent worthy of it. Seed the land with our blood and it will grow a paradise for the gods."

He withdrew his gaze from the banner, and glanced at the dispatches laid to the table before him. At a slight nod he would hand one to each of the officers present. " This is a detailed copy of the Imperial mandate, and doctrine from the Emperor and High Command. All Gerenian's (Northern Christians) are to be detained, shipped to the holding facility of the Chimera Garrison Transfer Station, before being redirected to one of three re-education camps." 

A slight pause before words slipped forth again. " If in combat, the rules of war apply. Surrendering enemies shall be taken prisoner, but not included in the general population, they will be detained and shipped to the initial refugee point of the Karu Trainyard Camp and transferred to the jurisdiction of the Department B Ehdaneun-ECC." A withering glance paid to those present. " Remember what was said, this is our precipice. Dismissed."

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Referencing Cussian Humanitarian Mission

Escort Duty
2nd Grand Ranke Fleet, Flagship Yesol (Spear)
-11 Hours Ago, Kataigides

Fleet-Lord Gi'Leng Elemmiire stood at the helm of the Cbayn class dreadnaught, flagship of the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet. He stood apart from the others, his uniform denoted his status as Lord of the Flagship. His service uniform constituted of a double breasted naval coat with sleeve stripes worn with ribbons, medals, badges, and a white dress belt. A raised collar white shirt with black neck-tie was worn underneath. 

About him, the bridge a flurry of activity from the junior ranked and enlisted sailors while somber senior officers stood still amidst the flow of traffic. Information passing into headsets and screens, as the refugee removal vessels had begun to appear. As they did so, following the terms of allowance, the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet had positioned itself alongst the border of the territorial waters lining the exposed land mass of the former Beautancus, now identified as the Northern Territories. About a dozen kilometers apart from one another, the ships were holding position, with the flagship moving about with its escorts alongst this steel wall that had been placed on alert. 

Corvette class vessels moved about, taking up the role of escort of the civilian ships, providing much needed protection from anyone else. HIN helicopters and other aircraft hurtled across the water, making sure vessels had appropriate clearance and identification. This area would require vigilance, of which the Haru were apt to provide. 

Vice-Lord Fren Sargtlin approached his Lordship and saluted in practiced manner. My Lord, we have the first civilian vessels on our scopes and they will be within visual range of the first picket vessel in a few minutes. Their clearance matches, and I've allowed them access to the Ulusk docking lanes.

Gi'Leng nodded a bit, hands behind his back clasping one another. Good work. Inform the port and the other ships of the fleet that the security clearance has been approved. Fren nodded, stepping away afterwards. Yes M'lord, it will be done. He pivoted about to the right and headed over to the communique station, gesturing and ordering a series of messages to be sent.

A great many of these messages were directed to the 4th Strike Fleet, composed of six Dymuh (Talon) Class Multirole Amphibious Assault Ships. This allowed the strike fleet a large number of VTOL aerocraft (90 total be exact) to be carried and utilized as patrol and reconnaissance craft along both the perimeter of the coastal territory as well as the refugee evacuation fleet. Positioned alongst with escorts, the 4th Strike Fleet under the command of Vice-Lord Atamas Vek, offered the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet information, vigilance, while at the same time, maintaining the various fleets contact with the foreign vessels entering their range.

At the moment of the message, the HIN Cypan (Saber)Sengar d'isto Tri'Gaz, had just launched four TE-01B Dymuh (Talon) VTOL Gunships for patrol duty. Stationed at the edges of the former Beautancus territory, near the beginning of Adapton territorial waters and that of the Northern Territories start.

Just over a hundred kilometers away and interspaced by a pair of corvettes and a missile frigate, was that of the HIN Tumbreh (Dolphin), under the command of Sengar d'isto Nimak Sargtlin. His command carried six gunships of the Talon class, and nine of the TR-02 Aykma (Eagle) VTOL's outfitted with MAD gear for naval operations. Much like his counterpart further south, a hundred kilometers and patrol craft consisting of two corvettes and a frigate separated him from the next strike carrier of the 4th. 

This continued on, each stage of the designated area carried a carrier, her escorts and then a spacing of a hundred kilometers or so until the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet began to overlap. Behind the 4th and intermixing with it and the 2nd Grand Fleet as well, was that of the 9th Litoral Patrol Fleet, under command of Admiral Bejia Xukuth. The blue water fleet acted as guides for vessels entering the evacuation lanes to the port, and or escorts as the corvettes would return to the high seas once more.

Ulusk Port
Jurisdiction of the 77th Mzil Velven, Imperial Army Legion

The 77th existed under the command of Aodi Ki'Mare, a Prata Khan and professional soldier, also apart of the Hades Taskforce Group that had led the invasion into the Northern Territories. As the newest observers, security and relief workers were being offloaded, they were met with the grim and professional forces of the port. The refugees from this sector were in a secure confinement facility, managed in part with the Department B of the Ehdaneun-ECC (Imperial Security Apparatus). 

Soldiers in the blue, grey and black splash hued uniforms were at key areas within the port, as were armored vehicles, checkpoints, and prefabricated defensive structures. As a helicopter landed, an officer stepped out of the nearby armored personnel carrier. He was somewhat lanky, reddish-brown hair trimmed short, and with a pair of wire rimmed glasses adorning face. He appeared to be in his late thirties perhaps, adorned in a uniform much the same as those legionnaires already about, and approached the figure that had emerged from the aircraft. Accompanying was a member of the Ehdaneun-ECC, this individuals uniform was clearly not meant for field work. Officer cap atop buzzed black hair, goatee to match and eyes of grey upon the scribbling individual who had emerged. Black dress uniform, jackboots and a heavy coat hanging upon shoulders. The disdain clearly upon the field officer however at his counterpart. 

The officer in the field uniform held a swagger stick in the crook of right arm and paused to give a salute. Left hand up, palm outwards before he spoke. Welcome to Ulusk Port. I am Prata Khan Ki'Mare, officer in charge of the Mzil Velven 77th Legion. This is my counterpart, Sengar d'isto Hakon Yerrda, of the 32nd Ehdaneun-ECC Occupational Services Legion. Gesture made towards the ebony hued uniform clad fascist like adorned Hakon. 

Also, I apologize for your seeing this. It is not our way to allow outsiders to see the failures of our generation, nor witness how we remove such. Ki'Mare nodded to several legionnaires nearby, and it became apparent that our members of Yerrda's ECC compatriots were being arrested within eyesight, much like Yerrda himself. 

Obscenities issued forth from the black shirt as the legionary dragged him away and Ki'Mare returned attentions to the foreigner before him. Shall we continue?

Edited by Haruspex
Added more fleet movements, additional information of specific ship and aerocraft types, changed the ending of post to reflect current political activities due to Blood & Honey post.
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If Sa'Karn Renor Elemmiire had been viewed as a statesman with whom the rest of the wurld could do business, the heir he had spawned was coming to be seen as little more than a petty, vicious, fickle tyrant. And in answer to the temper tantrums of Ji'mar Be'la Kyorl, many other nations were coming together in support of the poor Gerenians, sweeping up the mess that his petulant actions had caused.

For that, at least, Hyperlogothissa (Over-Minister) Evangelia Herikleta was glad. The table in front of her was still piled with stacks of paper, although there was a deceptive order to them. The Inter-Ministerial Working Group for the Relocation of the Koussoeioi had ceased to be an annoyance to her. At the start, it hadn't felt real – more like a source of irritation and an impediment to her career within the Logothesion ton Dromou, the Ministry for Internal Affairs, even though it had been made clear that the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator was watching it closely and demanding progress. Working groups such as the one she had been placed in charge of often dragged on for years without anything productive happening but that was not an option this time. Nonetheless, the various ministers, bureaucrats and military officers under her supervision had still found time to bicker, impede and undermine each other. It was, sadly, part and parcel of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion.

Even the seriousness of the situation hadn't really felt all that tangible to her or the rest of group. It was just a case of organising train timetables, issuing sternly-worded missives to truculent local councils and getting the right number of tents for the numbers of refugees expected. That had been an almighty pain in the arse. Herikleta had shouted at a logistics colonel for hours as he had attempted to palm off tents from the Long War instead of the new ones that she had requested. The Hyperlogothissa had emphasised that the eyes of the wurld were on Arhomaneia and it would reflect very poorly on them all if the refugees were shivering in under moth-eaten canvas in the middle of winter. Nonetheless, it had all been relatively academic – just filing paperwork or moving around numbers on spreadsheets.

And then Taxiarkhissa Khilboudia, who was from the pioneer units actually building the camps, suggested that the working group go and visit one of the occupied ones, to enable them to get their heads around the task at hand. They had all readily agreed – how bad could it be? The camp must be full of grateful barbaroi, whisked away from the grip of the Gharoi and basking in the glory of Arhomaiki civilisation.

Herikleta had never seen such an example of human misery before.

The camps were well ordered, certainly, and even had areas set aside so that the Gerenians could carry on their heretical beliefs. It had been especially emphasised that no proselytising by members of the Arhomaiki Church was to happen amongst the refugees. Opportunities were made for entertainment, including open air cinemas and playing fields for sports and exercise. Even the sewage system was still working like it ought, which was a small mercy given the fact that the camp was already at capacity and expected more people every day, as there was just nowhere else to send them other than another camp further down the rail lines.

But there was a level of unhappiness and even bewilderment was ever present. These people seemed to be in shock that they had been forced out of the lands that they had lived in for hundreds of years. It didn't help that the working group had been at the camp to the south of Laodikeia when the news had spread that the Sovereign Imperium was expelling the observers and the aid workers and closing the border between Arhomaneia and Machina @Haruspex. The wails of those who still had family members in the transit camps that were now going to be sent to “re-education camps” weren't something Herikleta thought she was ever likely to forget.

No one thought that “re-education camp” was anything other than a euphemism for “death camp”. Not after what the observers from the Tagmata units were reporting that they had seen in the areas of the Glorious Dominate that had been invaded by the Gharoi or what was known about the usual antics of the Sovereign Imperium.

The working group had hurried back to Tagmatika after that, a new purpose burning within them, although it stuttered once it was realised that there was no where else for the Gerenians to go. When the Hyperlogothissa had heard that @Iverica, Salvia (@Sancti Imperii Catholico), @Seylos, @Variota and @Gallambria were taking part in an international effort to rescue the remaining Gerenians from the perfidious clutches of the Gharoi, Herikleta fell to her knees and praised the Almighty.

Now the piles of paper and the spreadsheets on her computer represented not a burden to her, but people being freed from the grasp of a nation whose cruelty was seemingly more to spite the rest of the wurld than aimed at the people it was hurting, a viciousness for its own sake. The trains and buses were taking them from the camps and to the ports on the northern coast of the Kentriki Thalassa. From there, they would embark on Gallambrian and Salvian ships, to somewhere far from Europa and away from the needless oppression that was being inflicted upon them.

Despite the fact that the summer heat had long since disappeared from Arhomaneia and been replaced by the biting winds of late autumn, the meeting room that they were in still felt incredibly warm. Most people were in their shirt sleeves with their jackets hung on the backs of their chairs. 

Herikleta looked up from screen in front of her and around the rest of the room. The agent from the Mystikon had disappeared after the group had got back from the camp. It didn't seem that the Agios Basileos felt the need to monitor their progress any more. Even the man from the Logothesion ton Stratiotikou, Staurakios Zoilos, who had until then seemed to be unaware of the pressures of trying to organise the movement of hundreds of thousands, was knuckling under.

“It looks like Europatorion will be hitting capacity if we route any more trains towards it.” The person who spoke was Hypologothetes (Under-Minister) Gelestathos, from the Logothesion ton Basternon, the Ministry of Transport. At first, Gelestathos had seemed like a massive, pompous pain in the arse but like everyone else, once he'd seen what the poor f*ckers were going through, he'd stepped up. “Even if the Basilikoploimon takes up any slack in the movement of the Gallambrians or the Salvians.”

F*ck.

“Where's the next nearest major port? Kommodopolis?” Herikleta asked, shuffling around piles of paper until she had a map to hand. There was less than a dozen people in this room, all trying as hard as they could to organise the movement of more people than they could really conceive of. “It's on the Iaehos, but it should be big enough for larger transports, right?”

Gelestathos was quiet for a moment. “We'd have to route those trains to pass by Adramittion and to go by Kibitos instead. Or we could use one of the smaller ports between the Iaehos and Europatoria, but even then we might have to start having the trains go by Heiropolis. And on top of that, we need to make sure we're not getting them tangled with other trains. The signalling system can only take so many.”

A rail disaster was the last thing that anyone wanted. She heard the wailing again.

“How are the roads looking, anyway?” asked the Hyperlogothissa, looking around at the room. “Would buses be better?”

“It'll be the first week after half-term, so a lot of the roads will be pretty f*cking busy, especially in the mornings and afternoons.” The blitheness that Zoilos used to exude had long since disappeared. Now he was as stressed as the rest of them, with a small mound of tea cups scattered around his workstation. “It'll be unavoidable. There's a lot of farm traffic on the rural roads as well. Shit spreading on the fields.”

A child of the city, the Hyperlogothissa didn't quite understand what Zoilos meant but nodded anyway. She really didn't think they had the resources to do this. They needed dozens more people to work out proper routes and traffic police to make sure people kept to those routes and a thousand different other things. The members of the Praitorioi and the Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion were of the same middling rank as the rest of the room and had their hands as equally bound. They looked at her with dull, tired eyes.

“I think that using the roads might have to be a last resort,” said Gelestathos, scrubbing at his beard with one hand. When he had first joined the working group, it had been immaculately groomed. Now it was scraggly and unkempt, a visible sign of the stress that they were all under. “We can move many more of the poor f*ckers by train than we can by road, with much less delay or disruption. Although I'm sure that they'll have had enough of trains for a lifetime when this was over.”

If it was a joke, it was ignored by everyone else.

“Planes aren't out of the question, though, are they?” asked the Basilikoploimon officer. Despite having the purple strip down the seam of his trousers of an officer seconded to the Epistrategaion, he was as equally unimportant in the hierarchy of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion as the rest of the working group. It didn't seem that being an officer with such connections was all that much use if they were just not being noticed by those who were actually important, thought Herikleta. “We can quickly move quite a lot to the ports along the Kentriki Thalassa with those, surely?”

There was an edge of despair in his voice and the eyes of everyone else turned towards Gelestathos. The Hypologothetes ton Basternon just looked down at the desk in front of him.

“I don't know,” he said quietly after a long pause.

A moment of silence followed that.

A knock at the door of the meeting room broke the silence, but it was ignored. Herikleta had decreed that the working group was to be undisturbed. What they were doing was far too important for distractions. Aides had been leaving and entering the room quietly, making sure that the tea urns were warm and there were enough sandwiches to keep the various ministers, officers and bureaucrats fed and watered without too much distraction. The knocking kept up until the door was just opened from outside.

Outraged, Hyperlogothissa Herikleta stood up in her chair. “Who the f*ck do you think -”

The words died in her throat as she caught sight of the people at the door. The first person in the room was a bespectacled, balding man, who would have looked like a stereotype of a kindly school teacher, if he had not been wearing the uniform of a Domestikos, the Tagmatine equivalent of a field marshal. Behind him were gathered officers of various branches, all of high rank. The Mystikon agent hovered behind the assembled officers, her previously stern face crinkled with concern. Herikleta heard two chairs hit the floor as Khilboudia and the naval officer stood to attention. In return, the officers in the doorway gave the traditional half-bow.

Hyperlogothissa, that will be all,” said the Domestikos. “You have, you all have, served your country ably and well. I am afraid that it is the Epistrategaion's show from here on in. You may go, and God bless the work that you have done.”

The working group filed out of the room, almost dead on their feet. As they did so, the agent from the Mystikon caught each one and apologised for having them take up the slack for so long.

 


 

FF2GAwK.jpg

 

To: the Nations of the Cussian Humanitarian Coallition

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

Honoured friends,

It is God's work that you carry out.

As previously stated, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion has opened its national waters to the vessels from your armed forces, and those flagged to your nation that are taking part in the attempts to relocate the Gerenians from the oppressive actions of the Gharoi. This includes the canal between the Ragas Thalassa (Raga Sea) and the Kolpos tes Stratonis, the Bay of Stratonis.

The situation has changed since the last announcement that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion made – the observers from the Tagmata have been expelled from the Sovereign Imperium and the occupied territories of the Glorious Dominate, as have the aid workers from the Parabalanoi. This is, of course, awful news for those Gerenians who are still within the clutches of the Sovereign Imperium. Although the Gharoi invites your nations to provide peacekeepers and observers, the distinction seems to matter little to them. They do not care either way. It's clear that they will still enact their reign of terror within the Glorious Dominate and international pressure means little to them. Little stops them from going from ethnic cleansing by forced population movement to ethnic cleansing by mass murder. Even when the pressure is from an ally.

The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion is doing the best that it can to keep those within the camps in Arhomaneia comfortable. It cannot be said that they are happy, although the Arhomaioi try to make sure that they are. They are not happy for obvious reasons. For those that wish to do so, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion is offering permanent settlement within its territories, as well as citizenship. There are numbers of Koussoeioi who follow the Gerenian denomination of Christianity within the Megas Agios Basileia, and those who wish to join them will be welcomed with open arms.

For those who are taking refugees from Arhomaneia, the main ports that have been designated as shipping points are Europatoria and Kommodopolis. Kommodopolis is a riverine port in the mouth of the Iaehos River, but it is large enough to take anything but the largest of ships. There are several ports to the east of Europatoria that are to act as smaller hubs, and these are Rhyporion, Marame, Potollonia and Halanon. These will become active if the other ports are too busy to take more. I ask for your patience – the numbers of refugees within the Megas Agios Basileia number within the hundreds of thousands, and they are being registered and processed as quickly as they can be. Every effort is also being made to keep families together, as well as reuniting families that have been split up through the cruel and unjust actions of the Gharoi.

It would be very helpful to the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion if it could be known what and which ships to expect, although I understand that this may not be an exhaustive list – this crisis is of a scale unknown in the history of Eurth.

It pleases God that so many are motivated by love, kindness and charity,

Kommodos,

By the Grace of Christ the God,

Agios Basileos kai Autokrator

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Hakon City Outskirts Outpost
Monday Morning
Central Vale Territory

As told from the perspective of Field Commander, Sengar d'Isto Havaris, 1178th Para-Legion, House Vek Elemmiire, in a report to General Sagarth, second in command to Fleet-Lord Kaorin.

Many Haru-Dakat veteran combat legionary tend to see our individual wars as isolated tapestries of unrelated and unconnected combat activities and events, tied together by often boring periods of non-combat. We might see most battles as one-off here-today and gone-tomorrow; an ambush, a booby trap, a mine, a short sharp contact, a mortar or rocket attack, searching a cave or fortified bunker, or attacking a position.

But afterwards, some battles seemed clearly different, like part of something much bigger. The Northern Territories annexation is different. The attack on the North, wasn't as big or significant as many other battles before it, certainly it was not as hard as our war against the Cussian's thirty years ago, but for us who were there it was every bit as desperate. At the time it seemed isolated, later, when we could put it in perspective, it was clearly connected to other actions already going on.

Our first taste of the North was in Ulusk, a commercial port located on the south eastern coast. The port itself was being held by Cussian rebel forces and whatever other security they possessed. 1178th's newly comprised regiment and the 131st Motorized Rifles, 50th Infantry Legion came under intense mortar and rocket fire, and what could be counted as about five cohorts of rebels counter-attacked us as we progressed, achieving penetration in two places.

The men who fought off this assault were largely fresh arrivals who had come ashore on landing craft after we the Para-Legion had secured the port, and while they were no less brave than we Para's before them, they were unaccustomed to the ferocity of the attackers. Significant casualties were had, though they indeed held the line, forcing the rebels to their secondary lines.

Ulusk is a commercial port, mostly for fishing vessels and cargo container ships on the Ranke Sea. It is located at the South Eastern most point and within good view of the mountains that rise up as one goes further inland sharply to the north and west, providing good cover for the rebels and others living in the area.

Some four miles southwest of Ulusk along the top of a high bluff overlooking the Ranke Sea is the temporary firebase of LZ Uidmuug Buehd (Outlook Point) and home of the 131st Motorized Rifles, 1178th Para-Legion and the 50th Infantry Legion, of which comprises my current command. As you know, our outpost is responsible for military operations to come as well as a defensive point against rebel counter-assaults into the area.

The central feature of LZ Uidmuug Buehd is the airstrip above the bluff that parallels the sea; the middle third of the runway actually runs uphill, making takeoff and landing interesting as attested by the wrecked aircraft accumulating along its southern end. Units are scattered on both sides of the landing strip with most valuable assets such as helicopter pads, ammunition dump and the PX east of the runway between it and and the bluff. Several colonial buildings dot the east edge of the runway apron and chopper pads at the top of the hill overlooking the bluff; they house the emergency aid station and outpost headquarters.

Outside the main gate on the northwest of LZ Uidmuug Buehd and along the western perimeter is a huge cemetery, the scene of a major battle just before the LZ was completed and of recent, a favorite location for sapper attacks, snipers and, together with the beach under the bluffs, mortar and rocket fire that continually harasses the base atypically every day.

We are in desperate need of armor however sir, rebel light armor has been spotted outside of our sector, and with our aircover limited as it is, we are vulnerable to an assault by such. I have issued orders to the legionary to make anti-tank weapons available on the defensive line but that wont hold them back forever.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

House Vlos Zun 177th Irregulars Regiment
South Eastern Coastline-Commercial Port of Ulusk

Siet Khan Nakem glanced about the corner to the right, then back to those behind him. Like the others present, the Vlos Zun were an offshoot tangent of the infamous Tagnik Zun. They were the irregulars of the 177th Regiment and excelled in urban combat. Infact, there are few regiments of their equal, and they are composed of veterans from nearly every foreign bit of fighting that the Sovereign Imperium has ever been in. From covert operations, to out and out action, the 177th has seen it all, done it all, and has the scars to prove it.

Paired with the Mzil Velven 77th Para's, orders had been confirmed to secure and eliminate Department B headquarters within Ulusk, as well as the garrison of its forces in the area. Department B's Cbaleymewat Ehvyhdno Vunlac (D-SIF, 'specialized infantry forces'), commonly known as D-SIF by the other regiments and house services and generally frowned upon for its real lack of anything special.

Also its loyalty was called into question several times by others, and a recent development with the former emperor. Nakem had been brought into the plan, his forces were needed in this effort, and above all else, he had respect for Kaorin and her command. With the authorization from his own house lord, so did he obey orders received. 

The only real odd man out however, were those observers and personnel of the foreign governments in Ulusk. The Mzil Velven regulars and Elemmiire assigned to them and or deployed in the area due to the cold weather, were enforcing the communication blackout and restricting access during the time of the purge.

A hand gesture, indicating to spread out and move forward, newly issued HIA HBAS, a bullpup assault rifle. A slide of hand against the grooved grip alongst the barrel and before rushing across the muddy ground and bodies surrounded by the burning wrecks of emplacements, vehicles, and assorted other wreckage, that had been crewed by the black shirts of D-SIF's.

Near immediately machine-gun fire stabbed at the broken ground, pursuing the nicknamed " Maskers ", for their full body hazmat NBC suits worn complete with headgear. The black kevlar and rubber attire designed for survivability on the battlefield.

A low velocity 40mm grenade was the return fire, the solid thump sound as it left the barrel, and the krumping sound as it smashed through wood, tin, and apparently flesh as the enemy gunner splashed out from it's hiding spot. Slight tilt of head, and then wave of arm, evicting the previous tenants was a methodical operation. Sectors were swept, then rechecked, meticulously checking for leftovers, or huddled masses that had escaped the previous seekers. A muffled ummph escaped one of his own, the body jerking in rag doll fashion as a heavy machine-gun stitched numerous patterns into the soldier's form.

A lightly armored vehicle bearing the mark of the D-SIF, had barrelled it's way down the bomb cratered road to make an appearance. A snow plow attached to the front to shove wrecks and whatever else out of the way. Slang tossed towards the vehicle, and it's disembarking occupants, now was not the time for proper etiquette concerning the enemy. They were proper threats, and the resulting weapons fire proved it. The soldier hit had been caught by the roving weapons fire of the suppression weapon on the vehicle, indeed said weapon had also sprayed what was left of the sandbagged positions and so on in it's path, so it couldn't be considered actual aiming. It could however be termed suppression and damned good at it.

Proper aiming came in the way of a one sided lesson, with the response from the remaining 177th. Opponents targeted, split second decision process and snap shots from marksmen to the controlled burst fire from the automatics quickly put the vehicles semi-exposed gunner down and hard. The gunner while amongst the first, was followed by the driver splashed twice in the throat and once in the chest. A rocket-propelled grenade sent into the vehicle, adding shrapnel to the bodies that had just disembarked.

Flash bangs tossed, and then they rushed, shutters over the goggles flicking open as they saw those forms with arms in disarray, staggering about as their ear drums bled. No mercy, no quarter. Quick kill shots taken, disposing of these would be enemies in rapid haste. Their comrade marked with an IR beacon for retrieval, Nakem took one last look about and then motioned for the rest to follow him into the becoming dense area that would lead to Ulusk's central district industrial area as helicopter and fan blade gunships thundered overhead, dispelling justice.

Edited by Haruspex
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THE CUSSIAN HUMANITARIAN COALITION:

OPERATION DELIVERANCE

 

Norfolk

---

Now berthed in Norfolk, Seylos, the task force is plagued by delays, disagreements, and the foul prospects of the winter Adlantic.

Harrowed by mounitng pressures from the state and the world public, the Iverican task force faces the consequences of a rushed transit from Iverica to Seylos and is continually challenged by an overburdened logistic plan. Dozens of chartered civil vessels, undercrewed or stressed by the expediency of their muster await repair at Norfolk's overcrowded port. Further stalling the task force's departure is the worsening morale of the civilian ship's crew, all of whom must be pacified with a few critical days of shore liberty.

Already a week and some days behind schedule, the task force command looks apprehensive at fulfilling their time-sensitive mission whilst also securing a safe voyage through the increasingly turbulent winter waters of the North Adlantic.

---

 

OPERATION DELIVERANCE | IVERICA
30th of November, 2019
Norfolk, Seylos

 

The days were growing greyer and more blustery as they passed. The waters tossed with whitecaps and swells a little too high for comfort were already roiling along the Adlantic coast of the island kingdom.

On the windswept coast, sprawled somewhat crampedly inside the deep harbour's breakwaters, were the hundred-and-a-score ships of the Iverican task force. They would have made for a noble sight, a spread of many varied hulls--ranging from freight, to passenger, and to military--all bobbing alongside one another, if it were not for the sobering reality of their conditions.

The diverse procession had made port 11 days ago and was to depart again in the following 48 hours after taking in relief goods and fuel at the Seylosi port. So far, the Iverican task force had been stalled for a further 9 days. The reality was that a fifth of the task force's civilian vessels made port in dire need of maintenance, a further half their crews were in poor spirits, and lastly but most pressingly, that the challenges had pushed the ad hoc fleet's budget far passed initial estimates.

Escorting 102 civilian ships in an orderly fashion from Manille to Norfolk had not been accomplished without casualties. 8 of the number had to turn back just passed the Keepjip, their decade-old dielsels surrendering to being run so hard so quickly. Another 18 of the civilian freighters experienced a variety of hardships ranging from flooded compartments, unexplainable lists to a side, and other mechanical troubles that were costing the task force time and funds that were quickly running out.

To make matters worse, the weather in the northern Atlantic was worsening as winter began in earnest. The longer the ships waited, the worse the conditions would get--particularly at the halfway point between Seylos and Beatancus--the centre of the northern Adlantic.

The Armada vessels, on the other hand, had been untroubled by the passage and would likely weather the squalls in the mid-Adlantic with little trouble. The real concern was how the civilian ships and crews would fare under the stress and with poor equipment.

A solution was proposed on the fourth day in Norfolk--that the seaworthy ships be sent ahead, effectively splitting the task force in half. But the proposal was quickly shot down. There was one Auxiliary Service Squadron ready to assist distressed ships, if the force was split, one half would be without any ships capable of real assistance. Given the quality of the chartered ships and their crews, the risks would be all too great.

Without an alternative, the operation would be forced to wait further. It would not be until the 4th of December that the task force would depart, wary and cautious, bound for the port of Ulusk.

 

---

A filler to explain my delays in the reply. TLDR: Iverica delayed by technical issues and weather. Resuming the operation now.

 

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Operation Deliverance

November 30th, 2019

The choppy waves of the Adlantic hit the hull of the flagship, the SNS Theobald, with rhythmic thuds.  They had made port at Norfolk just a week earlier and after waiting for the second half of the fleet to dock and resupply had left just 6 hours before.  The Salvian fleet was an amalgamation of civilian and military vessels scrounge up by the Church and state. Spearheaded by Task Force ‘Charlie’ of the 3rd Fleet, the rescue fleet comprised of some 62 civilian ships by the time they were on their way to Cussia- a few dozen smaller civilian ships had decided to return back to Salvia.  Of the 62, 39 were large cargo ships or small merchant ships that volunteered to either carry supplies or pick up refugees, the rest of the civilian fleet being made up of 3 large private yachts, 9 Papal ships, and, probably the most interesting one to note, an 1800s replica wooden ship that was owned and commandeered by an eccentric multimillionaire who, even after being asked to leave, chose to stay “For the adventure.”  The leading commodore of Task Force ‘Charlie’ chose to oblige as the man had also committed several million to the operation. Plus, his ship was pretty cool.

Task Force ‘Charlie’ itself was comprised of 3 frigates, 2 missile cruisers, a destroyer, 5 submarines, and a hospital ship.  Another two of Salvia’s three other hospital ships were put under the command of Charlie’s commander, Commodore Angelo Sodelo.  The task force would eventually split up into two, with a frigate, a missile cruiser, 2 submarines, one of the hospital ships, and some 30 civilian ships to head to the friendly waters of the Raga Sea to pick up refugees from Tagmatium.  The remainder of the ships would head to the port of Glevokastran, Tagmatium, north of Haru and await for the other Coalition fleets to arrive.  

The successful deliverance of Christian refugees to Salvia was critical: an operational mishap or botch up would have huge consequences for both Church and state, especially with the increasing political division and Church crisis.  The public of Salvia waited expectantly for a successful operation, and if one was not forthcoming, the Church and the government would feel their unhappiness.

 

_______

OOC: Hopefully a little something that will help this get back on track

Edited by Salvia
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Hate.

It was a strong word. And one that was used far too often. People said they hated a particular TV programme or breakfast cereal. What they usually meant was that they just disliked it. Well, most of the time. Perhaps sometimes it had personally wronged them, although that was probably very rare.

But Eudokia Khoiroboska could say, without any hyperbole, that she hated the Gharoi. And she wasn't alone in that, either. As a member of the Ikatanoi unit of the Tagmata observers sent to monitor the Gharoiki invasion of the Glorious Dominate, she had good reason have begun to hate her country's ally. An ally that had shown itself to be a very poor partner in recent months.

Nominally, she and the rest of the observers were there to make sure that the Gharoi didn't commit any war crimes against the civilians in Koussoeia. This was a situation that was very strange for several reasons. The first one being, obviously, that the northern barbarians had to have someone watching over their shoulders to force them to not murder people out of hand. The next reason was that they were doing it anyway. Well, if they were lining up civilians against walls or shooting prisoners, then they were at least being careful enough to do it where the Arhomaioi couldn't see them. But they were rounding up the local Christians, forcing them from their homes and towards transit camps whilst letting the rest of the wurld clean up the mess they were making. The Gharoi were then looting, destroying or looting and destroying anything that remained. That wasn't being done where the Arhomaioi couldn't see. Even the snow storms couldn't disguise the burning buildings.

It was ethnic and cultural cleansing and set a very ominous tone for the future interactions between the Machina Haruspex of Ji'Mar and the rest of Occident, which was mostly Christian by religion. Arhomaneia was not very happy with what the Sovereign Imperium was doing but was not, at least at the moment, willing to go to war over it. Public opinion was slowly but surely edging the other way and the Gharoi were foolish if they thought that they could ignore that.

Khoiroboska was standing in the lee of her section's Khalkaspides IFV, out of the bitter, cutting wind that was blowing from the north in Gharoiki-occupied Koussoeia with a pair of binoculars to her eyes. Her IFV was the rear vehicle in a small column of four. They were waiting at a crossroads for an escort from the Renor Elemmiire 32nd Motorised Rifle Regiment. So far, they hadn't shown up and the Ikatanoi were parked where they had been ordered to go. It was beginning to get a bit concerning, but the platoon commander was more keen on staying put than trying to inflame the Gharoi any further. The 37mm cannon of the Khalkaspidai were trained at likely points in the landscape for an ambush, however.

There was a creak as the rear door of the Khalkaspides opened, followed by cursing from those inside as the cold air got in. The snow on the roadway had been churned to slush by the passage of wheels and tracks and it didn't have the satisfying crunch that fresh snow had. Instead, there were wet footfalls as another Arhomaios made their way towards Eudokia. She felt a tap on her shoulder as the new arrival tried to get her attention. She kept scanning the surrounding countryside, however.

“Any sign of anyone, tetrarkhes?” the other soldier asked Khoiroboska, shouting over the wind and the rumble of the armoured vehicle's engine. They were as well wrapped up as she was, a protection against the harsh winter weather sweeping across the northern Occident.

“No. No real sign of anyone, pentarkhes.”

They had to make sure that the local resistance didn't strike against them, potentially mistaking them for Gharoi. Or perhaps attacking them in revenge for the Megas Agios Basileia not stopping the invasion. The observer units' IFVs had large Tagmatine flags painted on their sides but the overall shape of the vehicles were similar enough to those of Machina @Haruspex to have meant that the Tagmata units had been shot at several times. And had to return fire on occasion to drive off their attackers.

“Get back inside, then,” the other well-wrapped soldier said. He gestured over his shoulder to a second figure who had followed the pentarkhes out. “Demetrios is going to take your place. We've got a brew on, too.”

“Cheers, pentarkhes!” She finally took the binoculars from her eyes and looked over at the soldier who had followed her section leader out. Although it was difficult to tell through the winter clothing and snow goggles, the other soldier did not seem to be particularly happy with this turn of events. “Any chance of a biscuit?”

“You'd be f*cking lucky,” he replied as he turned back towards the rear door. “Close the door properly behind you, too. There's a bit of a chill in the air.”

Thank f*ck for that. It was far colder than Arhomaneia was. And far colder than it was supposed to be in this land of savages, too. The tetrarkhes climbed in through the hatch and slammed it shut. It was significantly warmer inside the IFV. The rest of her section mates were clutching enamel mugs and one was handed over to her as soon as she swung herself into a seat.

The slush on her boots started to pool on the floor of the Khalkaspides and one of the other Ikanatoi caught Khoiroboska's eye.

“You could have at least wiped your feet before you came in.”

The joke was weak and didn't get any laughter from the rest of the unit. Overall, they weren't really in the mood for it. It was bad enough that they had to look on what the Gharoi were doing without being able to act. But the fact that they were sometimes having to shoot at those who were understandably angry at what was being inflicted against them had soured the mood of the Arhomaiki observers even further.

Yep.

The Tagmata units had come to hate the Gharoi.

There was silence for a moment before someone else spoke.

“I don't honestly see why we're even doing this,” said Paulina, who was tucked up in one of the corners of the troop compartment. There was an audible groan from the other occupants and Eudokia let her helmet thump against the padded headrest behind her. All of them had a guess as to what was going to come next. Whether it was the fault of the Gharoi, the heretics or even the Koussoeioi, it was all that they had talked about since they had arrived in Koussoeia. It was the Sovereign Imperium that bore the brunt of the blame in everyone's eyes, however.

“F*ck you all. You've all talked about this, but it's f*cking clear – what the should have been done was slamming a thematon bandon up towards Prathen as soon as the Gharoi started doing this shit.”

A thematon bandon was the Tagmatine equivalent of an army group.

“And another one pushes in from north of Kalamanon and the Gharoi would have been f*cked within a couple of months.”

Silence met that comment for a moment. That soldiers of the Arhomaiki armed forces were talking about invading an ally, even amongst themselves, showed how far the Sovereign Imperium had fallen in the eyes of their southern neighbour.

“And Exkousiokrator Ji'Mar would fall onto his face in front of the Leopard Throne and beg Kommodos to be his godfather for his new life in Christ?” the pentarkhes said back, with little venom despite his harsh words.

Paulina pulled a face at the corporal's words. “It'd be better than aiding and abetting what the f*ckers are doing now.”

Sipping at her nice hot tea, Eudokia didn't bother saying anything. This was playing out as it had done dozens of times before, just with different actors. If it wasn't Paulina and Pentarkhes Nikeforopoulos, it could have been her and Demetrios, or any one of them sat in the IFV. They all felt that last bit, too. Aiding and abetting a bunch of murderous savages in their crimes against fellow Christians, if heretics, and the poor Koussoeioi. All of them hoped that the Exkousiokrator and his minions would get fate that they deserved.

“You're right,” sighed the pentarkhes. “I imagine that the rest of the wurld are itching to have a go at the Gharoi. And they probably are. They're just not an easy target like the others recently. Which is why there isn't an international alliance blockading the Gharoiki ports as we speak.”

Although there was no way that Eudokia had her section mates could know it, they were right on the money. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had put feelers out to other powers to ascertain how they might feel about open warfare against the Gharoi, and whether they might support Arhomaneia. If Ji'Mar had known about it, it likely wouldn't have stopped him. The man seemed to thrive upon the hatred of the rest of the wurld. Perhaps if Ji'Mar might have stopped if he'd known that the other nations had offered their support to the Megas Agios Basileia if war broke out.

“Hopefully it won't come to that, though,” said someone else. “Otherwise, we'd be f*cked.”

“We'd fight like Arhomaioi and we have God on our side,” shrugged Eudokia. “It's the reason why the Gharoi have always been cooped up in the north, despite their pretensions as conquerors. It's easy work, rounding civilians up at gunpoint and putting them into camps.”

That was met with silent agreement. Despite Machina Haruspex's threats and bluster, they'd only managed to kick an enemy when it was down, fractured and broken after civil war and economic collapse.

There was a thump on the rear door of the Khalkaspides and Demetrios' voice came over the section's network.

“Vehicles incoming. It looks like our escort's here.”

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The row of vehicles that left the outpost of Yasrek, following the actions of a few days past the incident with the former monarch, were already well aware of the winter conditions, and how many of the observers were prone to complaining about it. Sworn to secrecy of said event in which Ji'Mar, once emperor of the Imperial territories, had been shot and bled out from a hole in his head within the grounds of their very outpost. 

It was felt that duty was to be undertaken, but every legionnaire felt it deep within their chest, the sense of a weight lifting from their shoulders of late. All those present were loyal to Kaorin, and or those who had chosen to side with her, and by doing so, decided the fate of those they commanded. If it failed, it wouldn't just be the officers who were removed.

Sitting in the cupola of the lead vehicle, cold weather parka gear upon his frame, the convoy leader for this meeting with Ahromanian observers, currently becoming one with the harsh winter, that of Harkin Yagens, a Ji ranked officer of the Renor Elemmiire 32nd Motorised Rifle Regiment. A slight duck down behind the armored plate shield of the observer mantle and glanced at the mapping system. Driver in his ear, eighty kilometers away from the point of meet. 

Glancing behind, the long snaking line of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles appeared to be an ebony snake against the ivory hue of the snow. His command lead vehicle was the atypical command IFV, the HIA LAV-25 'Jeban'. The command variant did not carry the hundred-five-millimeter cannon, but does retain the turret and an armored plate shield with the K1-B 12.7mm Heavy Machine-gun. Behind his own vehicle, came a normal version of said vehicle, four lightly armored scout vehicles of the HIA Vannad type, and carrying the bulk of the regiment accompanying, were eight S-12 Half Tracks

A fan-blade aerocraft zipped overhead, covering the distance quite quickly and leaving a contrail in the cold air as one of the regiment's twelve HIA made TE-01B Dymuh (Talon) VTOL Gunship fitted with FLIR gear and cold weather duct and thermal exhaust protectors due to the weather. It would also be the first Imperial Legionary craft that the Tagmata units would see as it hurtled past and then swung about the observers just about a thirty meters above the ground in a slow circling fashion.

Three hours later-

Ji Yagens command vehicle came to a stop beside that of the observers vehicle with a loud clanking and creaking and all that fun stuff. Rolling shoulders a bit, he clambered out of the cupola and down the rungs of the vehicle as the rest of the convoy came to a stop. A slow stretch, twisting to the left and then the right before pushing the parka hood down to expose the maroon beret. His eyes were of a greyish blue and he was just over two meters in height. How had he fit in the IFV, don't ask. 

A tilt of head and then came to an at ease position next to the observer vehicle. He'd wait patiently, though did cock head to the right, with a slight lean to make sure his convoy officers were doing the same. He had a map of the mid-lands in a plastic covered binder, and hoped to get them up and running and off one of the few serviceable roads. Not that there was much traffic, but he'd rather not try to argue with another armored unit or a personnel transport vehicle from one of the gathering points, of which one of them they were headed to, beyond the range of the blackout of Ulusk.

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THE CUSSIAN HUMANITARIAN COALITION:

OPERATION DELIVERANCE

---

Having carefully crossed the North Atlantic, the Iverican task force prepares to make port in Ulusk. As coordinated, ships of the Armada Iverica hold at stand-off range, allowing the civilian vessels to approach the Ulusk docks. Escorted only by a detachment of the 1st Regiment of Tercios, an expeditionary unit of veteran marines, the refugees must now be documented, searched, and accomodated following strict deadlines and criteria imposed by the Foreign Ministry. The Iverican forces do not expect any incident, but nontheless, remain at full readiness.

---

 

OPERATION DELIVERANCE | IVERICA
14th of December, 2019
Ulusk

The Foreign Ministry gave a deadline of 14 days to process a maximum of 200,000 Cussian refugees. Given the data the Ministry expected their officers to collect, the number would be a challenge to reach. 

A machine-learning software was applied to aid in data sorting and cleaning. Within the first 3 days Refugees would first be required to present identification documents and submit themselves to a mandatory medical examination. The software would then create a priority list based on collected data-- intact families would be prioritised, with a preference for adult men and women with higher educational attainment and with more than 1 child. Generally, the priority list would rank in descending order, those fully documented, educated, healthy, and with children. At the bottom of the priority list would be single and unemployed persons--and the list was a long one. Discretely specified was also a caveat for a no-admittance list. At the top were those with no birth certificate, passport, and proof of employment. But equally important, the Foreign Ministry was leery to admit those who were profiled to have worked in Haruspex, lived there, or have been employed in Beautancus by Haru bussinesses. Likely, the measure had been forced by the two Iverican security offices--the Home Security and Special Security Offices respectively.

The measures were strict no doubt, but necessary. Under the circumstances, the security risks were numerous. The risk of espionage was present, but unlikely. What was likely was the potential for criminals and former insurgents, seditionists, or inflamatory ideologues to infiltrate the crowd.

Accomodation would then follow, slow but careful to prevent any upsets and potential conflict between refugee groups. The 5,000 strong detatchment of Tercios were issued riot control gear. Non-lethal weaponry like rubber ammunition, slip fluids, tasers, and protective equipment. However, the Iverican task force had stronger means of pacification still. Low ABV beverages to be strictly rationed, films, reading material, and some Iverican language and culture courses were prepared for the long voyage to Monarch Island.

At last, when all was ready, most Iverican ships would depart. Though a handful of Tercios would be left behind to escort journalist and NGO observers. They would be deployed as soon and the ships made port and travel ahead to document the situation in Beautancus.

---

OOC: This has been long overdue. It is assumed that the other nations' task forces will be doing their parts concurrently. Regarding how the processing will be conducted, the Tercios will be deployed within the Port to facilitate processing and maintain order. They are under strict orders not to speak or interact with anyone save the refugees, and then, only when necessary. Public Relations officers are dispatched to handle whatever communication might be needed. Regarding the escorting of observers, the Tercios will occupy the sapce the processed refugees have vacated, setting up a smal FOB with prefab , Hesco structures, and a small ground vehicle pool and rotor craft pad. Only 3 companies at a total of 380 personnel will remain there for a maximum of 2 months to conduct escort and humanitarian operations. The vehicles are utility and logistical vehicles with only a small fire support element of attack rotor and turreted mechanised for QRF if necessary. Naturally, a small flotilla of 2 Destroyers, 1 Submarine, and 1 supply ship will remain at stand-off range until the observers complete their tasks.

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December 14th, 2019

Ulusk, Northern @Haruspex

Operation Deliverance

 

Another two weeks passed before the first @Ivericans had arrived.  During that time and after, officials both on the ground and back in their respective countries were in constant contact with each other.  Seeking to standardize the method by which migrants were accepted into each country so as to not cause mass chaos and confusion, the Ivericans had devised their own machine software to sort the refugees, which the Salvians were then invited to mimic.  Setting up stations next to the Iverican ones, the Salvian workers that were deployed were ordered by officials to prioritize educated, documented workers with families and create a prioritization list from there.  Similar to the Ivericans, the Salvians also mandated that refugees present documentation in order to be placed higher on the prioritization list.  Those that could prove they were Christian or not Haru could see their chances of being taken becoming much more likely as well.

While the plan that was hashed during their voyage over the Adlantic was to split, the Salvians decided to stick together so as to be able to process more refugees.  All told, the fleet was expected to carry 50,000 refugees back to Salvia, which was 5,000 shy of the goal set by the government.  Tough luck to the politicians.  Their fault for making promises without know a bit of sh*t about what was actually happening.

A regiment of Salvian marines were also brought to the shore to protect the stations.  They were highly encouraged to interact with the refugees on a very limited basis- besides a friendly “hello” and small chit-chat, they were to remain vigilant.  Compassionate, yes, but not too open.  Material was being prepared on the ships for their integration into Salvia-  language and culture courses, books, magazines, and movies.  Those people would deal with the refugees.

After two and half weeks, the Salvian force was ready to depart- staying just a couple days after the Ivericans had departed.  Some officials stayed behind for any cleanup that was needed, but they would be flown out of Haru in a week's time.  All told, the operation so far had proven successful as the convoy slipped into the rolling Adlantic.  However, the true success of the operation would not be fully measurable until months after the entrance of the refugees into Salvia.

 

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THE CUSSIAN HUMANITARIAN COALITION:

OPERATION DELIVERANCE

---

With Salvia and Iverica working in tandem as a joint-taskforce, over 210,000 refugees were processed between the two forces.

Over the course of two weeks, such a vast amount of refugees were processed and accomodated by the tireless work of military clerks and volunteers. Working around the clock and fueled only by pure caffein, high-calorie MREs, and the knowledge that "Deus Vult", Task Force Haru successfully managed to accomodate just under a fourth of the total number of refugees in Beautancus.

However, the greatest challenge was yet to come. For accomodating a war-weary foreign population with little common culture and less linguistic commonalities would be a mountain of a task. Those providing sanctuary risk economic uncertainty, welfare burdens, and the prevailing tacit risk that none wished to confront--the strong possibility of ostracism by their own native populations.

---

 

OPERATION DELIVERANCE | IVERICA
28th of December, 2019
Ulusk

It was a wonder to some perhaps--why Iverica would choose to claim 160,000 (40,000 short of their maximum capacity) Cussian refugees. Iverica was not known for a robust and mother-hen like welfare system. In fact, it rarely gave handouts to even its own citizens unless they were civil servants, healthcare workers, charity workers, or military veterans--those deserving in the eyes of the government.

The "why" was the key, and very much answerable by Iverica's trend of political pragmatism. They did it because they could, because it was right, but also because it was a duty (there would be Church riots if they didnt) and perhaps conveniently, because it provided a singular opportunity for soverign naughtiness.

There was an island south-west of the Iverican Peninsula previously called Vigil Island. For centuries, it had been occuppied by stone-age tribes. Cannibals and xenophobes that had a reputation for killing and eating any visitor had been recorded by Iverican explorers in the time of the Gran Viatge [1]. Most infamously, an incident in 1971 reported that a small ship crewed by a hippie community had wrecked on its shores. The fate of all its passengers, women and children included, was quite grisly. A year latter, the Iverican Navy enforced a no-go maritime exclusion perimeter around the island. Savages were best left to their own devices.

One might think: "Send refugees there? Have the Ivericans lost their minds?". Not quite yet. In 1991, a trawler passing quite close to the island spotted a war canoe [2] adrift just outside of the exclusion zone. What they found aboard was horrifying. Authorities were contacted and just 3 days after, a contingent of 60 Iverican Tercios were deployed to investigate. Clad in NBC rated equipment, the Tercios found the island deserted. Human remains were found in the caves, in shallow burial mounts near villages, and floating, bloated, in streams and pools. Signs of struggle were present, but uncertainty abounded on what transpired.

To this day, the Bureau of Disease Research & Control, Ministry of Health, maintains that the extinction of natives was caused by a "viral hemorrhagic fever which spread through contact and exchange of fluids"--likely caused by eating spoiled or contaminated human or bush meat--though evidence for this is still in question.

Until recently, Vigil Island was unpopulated, for fear that pockets of the virus remained dormant in the dank oceanic conditions. The reputation of the island is quickly turning however, as in 2014 several ambitious youths documented their breach into the exlcusion zone and for the first time, showcased the natural beauty and fertility of the island. The Armada Iverica Biological Safety Unit has since swept the island, clearing it of any signs of the "Vigil Virus". In 2016, the island was renamed "Monarch Island" taking its new name from the ubiquitous presence of Monarch butterflies.

All was not well yet, however. Poachers, opportunists, and artefact hunters began to encroach on the paradise, causing long-lasting ecological damage to the eastern fifth of the island after hunting, logging and mining in that area. activity peaked in 2018, shortly after which, and Iverican NGO funded by the Toledo Group employed a @Seylosi PMC for a 5-year security contract until Iverica could decide what to do with the island.

Assuming the observer has connected the dots, it can be safe to say that Iverica's charity with Cussian refugees might just have given it a case to conveniently secure its south-western waters. 

Talks are already on-going on getting the Federal Commonwealth to recognise the creation of a Cussian diaspora state on the island and label it a protectorate under the FedCom. A new market, a population to tend to the island's resources, a buffer state and a military outpost all justified by charitable necessity.

The fleet would leave on the 29th, bound first for Altaria to further document the Cussians and to do a second round of medical testing and vaccination. The refugees, on their part, had been only too happy to agree. Where else would they go? They were given a choice of staying in enemy-occupied home or going off to populate a new fertile one. Not much of a hard choice.

---

[1] It should here be noted that some theories suggest that contact with the Ivericans had begun the practice of eating people. An account by friar Ferdnando Fernandess explains that the natives had been enthusiastic in acceptance of the Tacolic Christian faith. However, Fernandess suggests that the natives misenterpreted the message of "eating His Flesh and drinking His blood"--taking it upon themselves to enjoy a perversion of the Sacrament by experiencing the Saviour's transubsiated gifts in a manner more... close to the literal source material.

[2] Long, slender canoes used often by the coastal Vigilanese to raid their neighbouring tribes. Also used infamously to board civilian ships passing too close to the island. Photos of this particular canoe and its contents still circulate on those kind of websites and blogs. 

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Port of Perya
Naval Command and Control
Office of Fleet Command

Vice-Admiral Tor'Van entered past the first set of double oak doors, past the secretary, security station, and through the second set of oak doors, though these had anti-listening coating making them a dark shade of black in appearance. 

He had worn the dress uniform of the Imperial Navy as was required when being summoned to his superiors presence. Gloved hands behind back after the customary salute to the individual behind the desk. Said superior was an old, cranky, curmudgeon of an individual, known behind his back as the Imperial Kracken. 

The older man's voice cut through the space like a cold blade though. " Ah, Tor'Van." Which immediately put him on edge, being so informal right off of the bat. " So punctual and formal as always. What I wouldnt give to have someone arrive in battle dress." Yes thought Tor'Van, so you could administer a lashing probably.

" I've a mission for you. Dangerous certainly, but the right amount of glory to go with it, and potentially a thankful empress." His thoughts were scattered now, yet the undeniable feeling of being in over his head had come full circle as the Grand Admiral Tihun Xun seemed to delight in knowing what he was thinking.

" You are to take command of the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet. You will sail through the pass of the Ranke Sea, to the Kataigides, and from there, about the horn of the North, to the bay of Ttoile." A pause for dramatic effect and it worked. " From there you will begin airstrikes and naval legionnaire deployment. You will secure Ttoile, and establish a western command point, from which we can then press against the rebel NTC movement working in conjunction with that of the Imperial Army under Kaorin."

By the Empress! Tor'Van just stared a moment, also the Grand Admiral's over familiarity with that of the Fleet-Lord, almost unbearable! He steeled himself through this test, it could be nothing other then such. Making sure his voice did not crack, nor show sign of weakness as he responded. So unlucky was his life, constantly to be called upon! " M'lord Admiral, such are my orders, so shall it be." 

He quickly thought during the pause, continuing on. " Of what ships shall compose the 2nd Fleet?" Hah! Victory is mine he thought.

The expression however was smug upon that of Tihun. " I'm delighted that you would ask Tor'Van. Such excellent vessels for you. Let us see, yes? We've the heavy carriers Luhtun (Pronounced: "LUoo-ha-teoon", translated : Condor), Cdaat (Pronounced: "KU-deahah-te", translated: Steed), the assault carriers Syla (Pronounced: "SEEae-luah", translated: Mace), and the Cryng (Pronounced: "KU-raaen-ge", translated: Shark)". The Grand Admiral appeared to look through a further teletype before continuing.

" Your command ship is the North Carolina Class Dreadnought Duilr uv Vnucd (Pronounced: "DEooee-lu-ra oo-fu FUnoo-ku-de", translated: Touch of Frost), which I assume is heartwarming, as that is your current placement is it not?"

" It is indeed M'lord Admiral. Am I to assume that my other central command vessels will be the Lymm uv dra Cduns (Pronounced: "LUaemm oo-fu de-raah KU-deoon-see", translated: Call of the Storm) and the Kuttacc Pmaccat (Pronounced: "KUKoo-te-teah-ku-ku PEmah-ku-kuah-te", translated: Goddess Blessed) Spear class dreadnoughts?

" Indeed Tor'Van, indeed."

Support vessels consist of the VTOL carriers Ryht uv Vyda (Pronounced: "RAae-ha-te oo-fu FUae-deah", translated: Hand of Fate), and the Cdunsc Pnaydr (Pronounced: "KU-deoon-see-ku PEnahae-de-ra", translated: Storms Breath), additionally there are four frigates of the Leftwich-Class (Guided Missile Frigates), eight 210 Dekan (Tiger) Class (Assault Frigates), six Alaska Class (Guided Missile Cruisers).

Tihun continued. " There will also be four Cay Kut (Sea God) class Amphibious ships, three Dymuh (Talon) class amphibious ships, fifteen 205 Ymekydun (Alligator) Class corvettes, two Pmaccat Duilr Class (Blessed Touch; Hospital ships), eight Naviaman (Refueling Oilers), two Caagan (Seeker) class minesweepers, and a rather large collection of thirty three Uqah (Oxen) Class troop transports."

The Grand Admiral leaned back in his rather comfortable looking chair, steepled fingers against one another and looked upon the slightly younger Vice-Admiral. " Sixty-three thousand naval legionnaires will be in your custody Tor'Van, not counting the sailors of the fleet itself. You will land these troops, you will secure Ttoile, and we will rid ourselves of the NTC as the Empress decrees. Do you understand me Vice-Admiral Tor'Van?"

" Yes M'lord Admiral, I do sir."

Edited by Haruspex
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2nd Grand Ranke Fleet
Ttoile Seaport Assault

Ttoile's coast became a scene like the days of yore, as the skies overhead darkened with transport aerocraft, borne of the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet. The Imperium's navy signature resonated clearly as the waves of troop transports thundered above, just cresting thirty thousand feet up, plowing through clouds and rain, bursting into the skies above the cityscape of Ttoile. Dozens upon dozens of HAD HT-01 'Vycd Muytan' (Fast Movers) were plowing through the cloudless night.

Prata Khan Faed nodded to his co-pilot, equal standing crewman Vaer. Behind him was a communique officer, a Khan named Seviral. Beyond the cockpit of the transport plane, sat forty Haru legionnaires, of the House Mzil Velven, getting ready to parachute into enemy territory as apart of the planned operation " Ceawa dra Tyo " (Seize the Day). Amongst the legionary, was equipment, and in some cases air droppable vehicles etc. The target was that of the seaport and exterior of the former Cussian capitol city.

The formerly clear skies were becoming bumpy, turbulence of a man made nature as black puffs and plumes of orange and what not began to pepper the heavens. His jaw twitched, unconsciously flexing as the cockpit rattled from the shrapnel and concussions that were spilling about the plane. Nerves were being rapidly undone by the level of resistance, and then the com box squawked to life as it bore the screams of crew and cargo alike as a transport had been hit and become a burning pyre of flame and flesh that emitted a death wail as it twirled down towards the ground so far below, impacting into the mother earth with such savagery and fiery vengeance that none could have lived through it.

Tap on shoulder and he glanced over. Banking to the right, following the herd about, the destination had been reached. Slap of the console to the left and the blue light was lit. (Blue is often used to denote " go " for Haru) The ramp door was being lowered, and when it secured, he could see streamers already leaving as the para-troops began their deployment. It was shared about the air fleet as operation Ceawa dra Tyo became official and a deadly reality as the stattaco tracers from the ground increased.

Coastal Drop Alpha

The sun was setting, not that Ji Venck was worried about that, no he was worried about the forty or so legionary under his command who were currently under fire from enemies, probably local militia and or NTC regulars who had recently taken Ttoile, at the top of the crest of the coastline. For the moment they had immediate cover, being the burned out wreck of a light tank formerly belonging to said enemy, knee-deep in water, but that was short term. He kept his head down and then looked back towards the wrecked landin ships.Vehicles and equipment were everywhere. Up ahead, was the crestline, it was like climbing a hill with large black Grape-Nuts.

On top of the ridge there were the bodies and wreckage amidst pillboxes, barricades and burning equipment. The ground was more solid there and eventually that's where they'd be. Following the footsteps of those that came before, suffering the same fire as the enemy reinforcements had caught the first company just near the ridgeline. Venck could hear occasional small arms fire and loud artillery blasts to the north of their current position. There seemed to be a lull in the firefight immediate.

Giving the order, his legionary headed for the crest, climbing up that godforsaken hill, reaching the crest and over into the nearest available trench. There were bodies everywhere, enemy amidst his fallen comrades. The recent blasting must have been from the navy, as the gouges in the earth were to large to be vehicle made. The enemy was still present though, a legionary about to jump into a trench was knocked backwards over the crest as a rifle report sounded. Suddenly the war was on again, viciously did they trade shots back and forth while advancing in the trenches.

Even as the main battle line moved north on the island, the basic areas were subject to attacks and raids by left-behind pockets of enemy troops motivated by revenge, orders, or suicide. Venck could understand this though, with the para-troops landing they had come between large swaths of enemy territory. Now on the defensive, the NTC and its militia allies were dealing damage wherever it could, and the fighting would get all the more fierce the closer to strongholds they got.

Vlos Zun, 177th
We go to war, for that is our calling

Siet Khan Nakem peered over the lip of the trench, noting the rather beastly looking armor that had punched through, was now fast retreating. During the din of the airdrop and subsequent assault on the seaport, he hadn't been able to communicate directly with Fleet Frontal Command about anything at all, now the communications channel was awash with voices chirping in their positions and depths of enemy resistance. 

He slid down and rolled onto his back for a moment, before nodding to himself once and rising up. Rifle slung, he spoke to his warriors. Kad nayto, fa suja yc cuuh yc untanc lusa vnus veamt lussyht (Get ready, we move as soon as orders come from field command). This was being said as the first of the naval legionnaires had begun to appear from their beach landings, and were even now pouring into the area, and in short order, the makeshift trenches that had once belonged to the NTC forces. There was a pause between them, two fated rivals, not friends, not enemies, for the moment anyways.

Nekam as an officer wore the respirator, and the blue tinged goggles built into a helmet of sorts. His uniform was a type of hazmat like suit with combat rigging atop of it. His troops bore the same save that instead of the open respirator, they wore the iconic hazmat suit tops. The lids were ebony and one couldn't see through to the insides of what was staring out. Their rifles were bullpup in design, sporting green lasers and 2.4x ACOG scopes upon the rails. All had undermount grenade launchers of the 40mm nature. A few sported the RPGT-A Thermobaric Grenade Launcher tubes upon their backs. They were covered in blood, and ash from the bombardment. Nakem and his warriors were of the House Vlos Zun's, 9th Unit, 4th Company, 177th Regiment.

If one wanted to find the most veteran force within all of the Haru, well, congratulations, you found them. Nakem turned to the right and made a hand motion towards one of his warriors, gesturing towards the supporting naval legionnaires after a moment. Said warrior stepped forth and his gear was similar to that of Nakem's, in that he did not wear the headgear of the other soldiers. He the Ji, the second senior rank of a unit, and he was named Kvel. He was the second after all, and would remain so until Nekam was killed or promoted. Kvel looked towards the fydan puoc (literally translated to Water Boys), the name the Vlos Zun had for the regular naval legionnaires, not spoken publicly as it was not a nice term of endearment..

Kvel looked towards the bunch, and then pointed towards the road ahead, while addressing the Khan of the NL before him, not knowing his name, and bothering to learn it really. The enemy falls back upon this line. He raised his right arm to a chest pocket and pulled out a discus looking object. Placing it on the ground he sank to one knee and looked towards what he could only hope was a smart Non-Com like himself. The image popped up as a 3D model and presented the terrain as best the satellites overhead could see it. Red icons were for enemy forces, and according to intelligence on high, it was retreating to a large area swathed in green. Blue arrows were pursuing on all sides.

Kvel spoke, continuing on as he gestured towards the areas on the map presented. We..are here. He pointed to a spot in between the blue, and the red. This is the frontier of the lines. We have orders, push ahead and take this bridge, the..Paused and checked the name. The Hussukan Bridge. It is multi-lane and spans a major river. Occupying it is primary goal. He let a curt grin surface though it didn't show through the mask, it was his body-language that would have to be read as he leaned back and squatted a bit, his arms to his knees as he asked. Want to come?

Nakem grinned as well, in fact he could tell all of his troopers were doing so. Would these naval legionnaires, of whom in the past were barely above the regular imperial army, have the strength of warriors, or would they stand here and let time and glory pass them by? Stepping up from the trenches, he noted that even the enemy stragglers had pulled back. The telescopic sights in the goggles gave him quite a bit of an edge, as well as being HG/NVG's. A motion of right hand, to push forward. His unit numbered twenty and they were scrambling out of the trench. Kvel offered one more sidelong glance to the naval legionnaire forces before scooping up the terrain mapper and slotting it back where it went. Rifle at ready, he bounded up the slopes of the trench and caught up with the rest in short order.

Vlos Zun, Mechanized 68th
Born in Hell, there is no death that frightens us.

The sixty-eighth was currently tasked with spear heading into the exterior of Ttoile and other areas ahead of the main bodies of the assault force troops. They had been given orders to go through the wayside districts, encountering enemy resistance in the hamlets, villages, and small townships that pressed against the mountainous region where the NTC and their allies had their strong points and defensive lines.

As the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet bombarded and continued to give naval fire support towards targets in and around the city, the 68th Mechanized regiment had pushed through the last of their own obstacles fairly easily enough, to more or less intersect with the airborne special forces who were just now leaving the seaport and onto the main thoroughfare road. One such vehicle was that of Siet Khan Dolva, her armored command, an AT-110 8x8 armored personnel carrier rumbled up the road, it's remote turret active as it scanned the treelines and what not, but realistically after such an artillery barrage she doubted anything could have lived through such on the hostiles end.

Resting in the cupola, she to wore the hazmat like battlesuit, though it was slimmed down some for being inside a vehicle. Much like Nekam, she had the odd face mask and goggle headset going on. Gloved hands clenched the cupolas edge. A faint tilt of head to the right, and then she saluted the surviving airborne legionnaires before the vehicle came to a stop. Glancing backwards she twirled that right finger and the doors on the chain of vehicles matching her own hissed downwards, meeting the earth with a resounding thud.

Footfalls echoed forth and then they were surging out of the vehicles under her command. Vlos Zun mechanized infantry troopers were double timing it up the road and past the naval legionnaire forces. They had the smell of the tank on them, like they were some sort of stasis kept medical item. The off putting language hissed back and forth between them, the NBC attire made them look as if they belonged on a vacuum based battlefield.

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1117th Mzil Velven Artillery Regiment
Siege of Aden

Yeyinde Nive stood beside his superior, Khan Valen. The two men were outfitted for urban combat, the grey, black, and white camouflage that shown about the combat harness worn. Rifles at the ready, the bullpup styled GAR-01T's prepped for wear and tear. The 1117th were not here for infantry action, not yet anyways. Ahead of them, less then two kilometers away, was the bypassed NTC defensive line that had been built into the village of Aden. From this area, NTC mortars, artillery and soldiers had been directing fire into advancing loyalist forces.

The goal now, was to make that stop. The 1117th had recently been offloaded at Ulusk, with it's LCAC's making steady arrivals to offload legionnaires and equipment. The firebase had grown in the ruins of a light industrial area of Turas, a small city about twenty kilometers west of Ulusk, and supplemented with the 78th, and 93rd mechanized infantry regiments of the Mzil Velven. Said firebase had been arranged with an overwhelming artillery support however, when the Imperium set out to wrong those who had wronged it, it did so in a massive way.

Arranged in a pattern of twenty barrels long and twelve deep, firing arcs of each line slightly higher then those before each position, crew served Taytmo Vmufan (Deadly Flower) self propelled guns (SPG) were in place. Supporting this was another line of artillery, Muhk Cdnega (Long Strike) self propelled guns were also arranged. Twenty deep in a half circle arrangement, two rows. In defensive roles were the light emplacements of anti-tank cannonry and machine gun nests that were being manned by members of the 1117th, the 78th, and 93rd regiments.

As time slowly ticked by, second after second, minute after minute, regulated air cycles of breath could be heard over the stillness of the night's air. The bright lights and booms associated with cannon fire could be seen and heard. The war was raging across this vast tract of land in the middle of the Northern Territories. Nive awaited it all, ready to issue forth the order into the mic within his helm, and as the final tick resonated an ominous sound of finality, the order was given in the form of a nod from his superior. Vena! (Fire), the order was so given.

There was a pause, and then a rippling display in the air itself. Plumes of smoke danced across the lines, in near perfect harmony the cannons volley as one long rippling sound. Each row followed the one before it and so on. After the main body came the lighter self propelled guns and the defensive line retorting as well. Pulses of light filled the air, and then mere seconds passed until the crumping sounds in the far distance. Through field optics one could see the immense wall of orange, and the flames, the flames were everywhere.  

House Elemmiire, 78th Mountain Rifles Legion
House Olath Orn, 111st Motorized Rifles Legion
Battle for Ttoile

Yeyinde Fras sat within the cupola of the half track recon vehicle, field optics raised to eyes so that she could see the expanse of the semi- industrial district of Ttoile and the remaining buildings that still stood, unmolested for the moment. A slight glance back, and then wave of arm forward, pointing in direction of the area. Several dozen or so half-tracks, accompanying a company of heavier armored vehicles, being mostly tanks and armored aero-defense vehicles, clattered and rumbled towards the area pointed to. Following along behind in rank and file, more than two thousand Haru legionnaires of the Olath Orn house, outfitted in urban combat gear for the fight ahead.

Slogging through the mud, guts, and blood that stained this fell place made worse by the grinding of several major forces clashing into each other Prata-Khan Daek offered a salute to the passing Yeyinde Fras, even though he was of superior rank. Still it was a gesture of respect, and it was in returned in kind. The battle was fierce and was probably going to continue to be so.

On the southwest, advances were chewing into the flanks of the defender NTC forces. To the immediate north, what was left of Ttoile's industrial area also still held out. Under the crumping of heavy artillery, and shrieks of rocket launches, fires lit the funeral pyres of either side while thick, oily smoke stretched upwards into the heavens above.

Prata-Khan Daek represented the finest and worst of the Elemmiire. While they were more than honorable compared to the dredges of the Haru society, he wasnt one to name names, but oh say the Tagnik Zun, of which he thought of as little better than sociopaths, he was excelling at killing this day, he still adhered to the war policies set by the high command and they were ever brutal. Taking a break to light a cigar, while wearing the samurai esque armor of ebony plate and mesh. Skirt and helm with those light blue illuminated sockets. Said helm lay upon the remains of an apc's wheel. The rest of said apc was scattered about the area. He was pretty sure it had been an anti-air modified Vodnik prior to being exploded by who only knows what.

Ush'akal, udos inbal quarthen ulu karliik trezen [Sir, we have commands to head north]. Kenyet Nadir spoke up from behind and slightly lower. The communique officer eventually ambled over a pile of brick and mortar, CBAR-01 assault rifle with a 10x scope mounted on it's rails. A slow nod, for beyond this relatively peaceful point lay the edge of the Traitor Legions reach into the industrial district and the sounds of war.

Crumping explosions and small arms fire that rattled near constant. Bmahdo uv desa du cmaab frah ouin tayt, suja uid![Plenty of time to sleep when your dead, move out!]. Gruff voice echoing forth as plucking up the assault rifle as tossing cigar aside. Helm lifted and then placed down atop head, booted feet taking the lead, about to join in the clash that had already happened more or less to the firebase just down the way.

About a half kilometer east of Daek's position, Siet-Khan Yars forced the cupola hatch open to breathe fresh air. The building they had been going through had collapsed upon them, trapping them for a time. This act had saved his tank, though most of his lead element had fallen to the viciousness of the ambush by retreating NTC forces armed with RPG-7's.

Fire, orange and bright lit a landscape of shattered armor and smoldering corpses of the hazmat-suited Tagnik Zun elite. Ground pockmarked by craters, artillery had found them not long after the ambush, even now it still was falling. While the NTC forces in the area didn't have much in the way to really slow them down, they had made clever use of the city's buildings, and seemed to have an ample amount of 80-105mm howitzers at their disposal. Perfect for laying down suppressive fire upon an advancing enemy while retreating.

Reinforcements had arrived finally, pushing through or over the remains of their fellows. Sliding back down, locking the hatch, the turret swung towards the NTC lines and began to hammer back in kind. With proper artillery becoming more cohesive, the ground legions were able to bring their own firepower towards the enemy line. From behind, the shockwaves of the first 2S9 Bereg's rolled across the area, followed by the explosions as those 130mm shells began to land against enemy territory. Crunching a shattered troop transport that had been at one time under his command, the heavy treaded beast 2S19 MSTA-S, the dreaded 152mm Self Propelled cannon slowly came into view.

A pause and then he felt his insides quiver as the weapon barked harshly. Lighter vehicles, the 2S5-S 152mm self propelled cannon, and the towed artillery 2A36-B's had set up in the nerve center of the exterior district's industrial train area. He was wary of his orders to be here, after all, a recon force penetrating into the exterior areas of the NTC defense forces had been killed by an ambush consisting of a vastly numerically superior force as it was retreating.

A cautious tactic of his, was to supply the defensive perimeter with SPAA23's guarding, alongst with 288th Olath Orn, however those had been committed to act as both forward observers and as a buffer against enemy infantry support to counter-offensive forces meeting the NTC forces on the incoming. Shells were raining down upon the enemy line and other areas, to keep the NTC troops from being able to gather sufficiently, or at least that was the hope.

Ttoile Central District, 1129th Field Hospital
House Elemmiire, 112th Infantry Legion

There are many places within the sh*thole of the North that Yeyinde[Gunnery Sergeant] Ferin would much rather have been. As it was, he was settled for the moment within the husk of a building. Leaning just within, waiting for the clouds to stop spitting on him from above. Limp cigarette rested between lips as sheets of rain fell towards the pockmarked and or otherwise broken asphalt of the ground. Slight roll of shoulders, readjusting the weight of his gear and whatnot as taking to a lean for a moment or so.

The HIA GLM-01 hung over the left shoulder, calm during the storm as yet another shift in the mickey mouse sector of the former Cussian port city of Ttoile. Still waiting for this or that to come down the line, this particular area under supervision of the 112th Infantry Legion. Slow bit of steps taken from the building and into the street, keeping a cautious gaze of light blue against the road and it's surroundings.

Ji Quinn was heading to a new destination, as with all things in a land that had just become occupied. The vehicle she drove was a Haru military standard modified to be an armored civilian transport. Rihdan (Hunter) Light Multirole Vehicle's engine humming beneath the foot paddle, she literally zoomed down the road. Not much going on mentally save for keeping one hand on the wheel and the other on the stick, one foot for the clutch and the other for the gas.

Getting out to make 'house calls' hadn't been her idea of a great time, but it was better than wandering the same halls of the hospital ship where only last night she'd seen her first killing. Sitting ill with the good doctor, she found the scenery just a tad on the rough side, and the road was iffy in parts but at least it was there. If she ever found where she was going, she'd be able to see about getting into the clinic to make the rounds there for those who were on land in a war that didn't allow them access to the burgeoning healthcare system.

Now just how many people were out here, Quinn didn't know, though she could guess that there were probably a lot as a Legion was nearly thirty-thousand to well over sixty-thousand depending on the House involved. As the armored truck pulled slowly into the remains of a town, she brought it to a stop and rested her head briefly on the steering wheel. "What are you doing here?" More for herself than anything, it was her own sort of 'pep-talk' but she didn't look at that peppy.

This was the remains of Ttoile. Everything that couldnt be found there, it was here, or had been at least before the war of this land had commenced. Intermixed about the remains of this former lively city, the paratroops and mechanized infantry forces in the blue-gray camouflage and blue berets or helmets. Otherwise known as Haruspex Legionary.

There were a few away from where Ferin stood, more or less to the east of the main crowded area, and the start of the broken road towards the edge of the port's offloading area. Along this path would be sullen looking soldiers that hid the troubles they saw behind goggles of blue tint or partial rebreathers, trudging to posts or clambering into or out of urban combat camouflage painted armored vehicles, trucks etc.

Most though, like the residents of this area, knew better than to stand in the road. Anything with wheels or treads rolled near constant down this Hell's highway. A light tapping on the hood of the car, gentle like. Near the parked and obviously out of place car had come the ol' Yeyinde. Not that he was old, he was a pup thrust into the harsh land of service. Twenty-Three but with years on the soul. Cen yna oui ymnekrd?[Sir are you alright]?

Her head snapped up, and those eyes of deep brown wound wildly around until they zeroed in on the legionnaire outside her truck window. For a moment her face crumpled, whether from relief or embarrassment it was hard to say as she lowered the window and poked her head out. Having the ability to remember where she was might have been a minor miracle, and a brief rush of one hand through auburn hair just set it further into disarray.

Oayr. Is, frana ys E[Um, yeah where am I]? Obviously, from the voice as smooth as two fingers of fine whiskey she was educated, but the drawl there was all small-town. Sticking her head back in the car, she seemed to rummage before pulling out a sealed badge complete with picture id. E's vnus dra 1128dr Satelym Lusbyho, 88dr Makeuh, E ryja untanc du pa bucdat yd dra 1129dr bucd? Ec dra bucd rana[I'm from the 1128th Medical Company, 88th Legion, I have orders to be posted at the 1129th post? Is the post here]? Clearly from the crumple between her brows she was not only lost, but a little on the agitated side.

He unfolded a map and studied it for a moment before nodding to himself for a moment. Ouin y fyoc uv Tuldun. Fa'ja zicd y SYCR ihed du dra mavd cusa drnuikr dra piemtehkc drana.[Your a ways off Doctor. We've just a MASH unit to the left some through the buildings there.] Indicating the alleyway about twenty meters away, in which a partially destroyed building had a tarp roof strung over it and down it's sides where it must have been exposed. Bright red cross painted on it's roof, and walls. A pair of Rihdan's next to that. Folding the map up once again and placing it in left chest pocket, he stepped back slowly and then waited.

While she listened, there was a certain amount of apprehension on her part. Surely she had come the right way? The GPS on this damn thing had been followed to a 'T' and now she was potentially lost? Why hadn't anyone told her that they were sending her into no-man's land? Long, slender fingers massaged the crease from between her brows, and she gathered up the makings of a small smile to give to the legionnaire. Dryhg oui. E drehg E's eh dra nekrd bmyla[Thank you. I think I'm in the right place].

However bleak it might seem, there had to be need for a doctor, otherwise why would they send her out here?! From one battle zone to the next, Quinn supposed as she gave a little sigh. Frana lyh E byng so jarelma?[Where can I park my vehicle?]

Cdnyekrd drnuikr dra ymmao. Uha cal, E'mm ryja uha uv dra dnilgc sujat.[Straight through the alley. One sec, I'll have one of the trucks moved] <com>Alpha 4, have a doc comin', need truck two moved, over. Bit of a garish screech on the radio mic that was upon right shoulder, and then he spoke a reply. Another soldier came out of the tent, looked over, waved and then got into the Rihdan that was present there as well. Diesel engine roared to life and then vehicle ambled off somewhere else. A glance over as he had begun to pick his way towards the alleyway, waving his hand towards the doctor, gesturing towards the spot where the other vehicle had been.

Ttoile Eastern Outskirts

Siet Khan Dabin and his convoy had made it to the 78th Mzil Velven outpost. His forces had dismounted and were about the main area. The outpost here was effectively set up as a collection of helicopter landing pads, a few trenches and dug in fortifications further down on the slope of a hill facing the territory of the NTC more or less still held just past Ttoile, facing a general direction in a square pattern the rest of the area.

Key points had watchtowers, sandbagged positions and swanson huts bunkered in as both observation points, barracks and what not. A fourth and larger hut was nearly buried to the roof in the ground and sand bags and this was the partially buried MASH hut adjacent to a protected observation area and a pair of K1-B heavy machine gun stations.

The odd assortment of his convoy was arranged about and behind the main line, even now the light tanks were being used as self-propelled artillery to shell a distant defensive perimeter full of NTC/Allied forces. There were many such positions all over the mountainous terrain of the Northern Vale territory.

He peered through the telescopic field sights of his command vehicle, noting coordinates for the airstrikes his radio operator was even now confirming with. Overhead, streaking contrails provided by HAD S30 Sylrada ground assault aerofighters could be seen as they came in low against the deck and were intent on forcing their way into the thick of things. Staccato of SPAAG fire near immediate, tracers of orange saluting the clouds alongst with bright puffs of a deeper red, and or black bursting clouds. One of the ground fighters shook itself apart as he watched, the debris striking the ground with furious impact, flames and smoke littering the ground.

Determined to avenge their fallen comrade, the remaining two expended their deadly arsenal of bunker busters, dumb fire rocket pods and more, turning the defensive line into a bright burning wall of death and imploding hilltops. With range given by the retreating aerocraft, the light tanks on the outpost line were now hammering whatever might have survived that with thermite canister shells, designed to inflict massive damage upon infantry and light armor. A few secondaries brewed up and that was the cue.

As his command vehicle began to roll forward, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and the tanks under his command fell in line, a sort of phalaxe position with his vehicle at the center, pushing for the now pulverized enemy position.

Northern Hinterlands
South of Hakon City (NTC Stronghold)

Yeyinde Fras sat within the cupola of the half track recon vehicle, field optics raised to eyes so that she could see the expanse of the hinterlands and the remaining village-townships and so forth that lay unmolested for the moment. A slight glance back, and then wave of arm forward, pointing in direction of the semi-industrial district.

Several dozen or so half-tracks, accompanying a company of heavier armored vehicles, being mostly tanks and armored aero-defense vehicles, clattered and rumbled towards the area pointed to. Following along behind in rank and file, more than eight thousand Haru legionnaires of the Mzil Velven house, outfitted in urban combat gear for the fight ahead.

Despite being outmatched at every turn, NTC irregulars and para-militaries fought tooth and nail for every square centimeter of their territory, with almost the same result panning out across the occupied rebel territory. Failure. The Haru war machine refused to be sated with just a few deaths, the carnal lust of the imperium demanded sacrifices of larger size and thus it was devouring all that it could reach.

Edited by Haruspex
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    • By Tagmatium Rules
      Spring was finally coming to Gournaion, the capital of the island of Efmoseia and the nation of the Hexanesa. It had been a hard winter across all of northern Europa and even the western countries of Machina @Haruspex and Tagmatium had suffered in the coldest weather in decades. Despite being the two most functional nations in either the Occident or Burania, many of their citizens had died in the cold weather and parts of them had been cut off due to the deep snow and blizzards. In the band of six islands that marked the division of the Thalassa ton Kataigidon (Sea of Storms) and the waters of inner Europa, the weather had been especially hard because the islands had very little resources of their own to call upon. Some of the small fishing villages and semi-permanent logging camps that made up the settlements on the exposed northern coasts of the islands had to be completely abandoned. Vessels and aircraft from the Stolos, the militarised coast guard, were now going out to assess the damage to the settlements and to see if the inhabitants could return. The weather had been a shock after the warm temperatures of the summer and very few people had been prepared for anything other than the usual winter weather, although that was always quite harsh. The economic damage would have to be counted before the country could move forward. The long cold winter had delayed the planting of crops and prevented fishing for weeks when the fleets should have been out laying pots for crab or trawling for Adlantic salmon. Whilst the people of the Six Islands were unlikely to starve over the coming months, the finances of the country and its inhabitants would suffer. The last decade hadn't been kind to the Hexanesa and it seemed like the start of the new one wasn't going to be great, either.
      Those were the thoughts going through the head of a warmly wrapped little old lady as she sat at a cafe table and took sips of a cup of tea whilst looking out over the harbour of Gournaion. The cafe had cast iron furniture arrayed around tables and segregated from the street by low planters with hardy plants, although most of them had died over the winter. A heavyset stheneloser dog lay curled at her feet, its thick black and white fur proof against the cold of the northern islands. There were still boats in the harbour, although most of them were out to sea, trying to catch up with the season's fishing. She had just come from a morning service at the Panagia Theotokos, the cathedral of the Hexanesa. A savoury pastry lay untouched on a plate in front of her. Several newspapers were spread across the table, some from the Hexanesa, some from Tagmatium and even one from @Orioni. It was the old lady's habit to look through the headlines in the morning after church before she pottered back to her house. The headlines, at least of the Tagmatine ones, were mainly about the Megas Agios Basileia's involvement in Ceris – two carrier groups and a corps were now in action there, with suggestions that more might follow on. She shook her head. It was unlikely that “Arhomaneia” was involving itself there for the benefit of the Cerisers, although no one could deny that the Sentists were a plague that wouldn't go away of its own accord. The Orinese paper was at least more hopeful, although it focussed on the ongoing EOS mission in the Bainbridge Islands.
      The papers were full of just more examples of the powers of the wurld bullying the smaller nations. Although the Orinese were much less... conservative, blunt and chauvinistic than the Tagmatines, they were perhaps a bit more hypocritical. They tended to frame all of their actions as good for the people they were subjecting them to, even if it was entirely against their will. The intervention in the Bainbridge Islands had been going on much longer than any operation the Tagmatine armed forces had undertaken in decades. Under the aegis of EOS, the Orinese were bringing peace and stability to the south of Europa, whether it was wanted or not. After a moment looking out to sea again, she broke off a corner of the pastry and crumbled it up further. She then tossed the crumbs to a wagtail that was scavenging around the tables of the cafe but keeping a wary distance from the stheneloser. Another joined it and the two birds bickered for a moment amongst the table legs before seemingly deciding that the amount of crumbs was enough for the pair of them. She watched the small birds briefly before sighing to herself and pouring more tea from the pot into her cup.
      A passerby called a greeting and waved at the old lady. The wagtails, always timid, scattered and chittered their outrage at being forced away from their crumbs. The stheneloser raised its heavy head and watched the passerby and the old lady's reaction to them, its eyes darting between the two. When she waved back, it put its muzzle back on its paws, content that there was no threat there and closed its eyes. She reached down and scratched it behind its ears and broke off another bit of the pastry. The dog put its head up again and gave a begging look. The old lady smiled at the big dog and gave it the rest of the pastry, saving a corner for herself. It chewed messily for a moment and nosed up the crumbs that it had dropped. She ate the corner she had broken off and sipped the cup of tea.
      Of course, to the locals it wasn't just an old woman – it was Evangela Leotykhidissa, the Megas Kritissa, the Great Judge, of the Kritakrateia of the Hexanesa. A small bodyguard called the Skouterioi lurked nearby, attempting to make themselves unobtrusive but also trying to be a visible barrier between her and any possible threat. Unlike the bodyguards of the islands' western neighbour, they weren't in ostentatious armour and robes but coats and suits. It was clear that they were still bodyguards, as the tailoring of their suits couldn't quite hide the presence of holstered pistols. The Skouterioi had always made it clear that they weren't happy with the fact their head of government was content to sit in public and let the islanders greet her as they walked by. Although the islands weren't rich, they were strategic. The Arhomaiki Noimosyni Dykton was an ever-present threat, as were the secret services of the Exkousiokrateia or the Volskoi. Any of them might try to engineer a takeover of the islands or assassinate the Megas Kritissa. They would likely then try to take advantage of either the islands' position or the possibility of mineral or oil wealth possessed by them. The Gharoiki have been carrying out “hydrocarbon mining” in the areas of the Thalassa ton Kataigidon under their control. It seemed to be a pompous way of saying “oil and gas extraction” and it couldn't be doubted that the Hexanesa were being eyed up by the northern barbarians.
      Evangela took another sip of tea. The Megas Kritissa had been voted into the position in 2016 as a reaction against the regime of Kommodos Iakoumos, as she had been in the election six years before that. The old woman was one of the few of the Lipotakai, the Deserters, still actively involved in the politics of the Hexanesa. She had been repeatedly elected because she was seen as taking a hard line with Tagmatika. There was still an arrest warrant out for her in the Megas Agios Basileia, even though it had been over sixty years since the events at the end of the Long War which had caused the Hexanesa to break away from Arhomaneia. It looked like the relationship between the islands and the mainland were warming up in the reign of Theodosios VI but his death at the hands of an assassin and the civil war that followed had halted that.
      At the time, some of the other Kritai had considered throwing in their support behind the cabal of naval and army officers attempting to revive the Navarkhokrateia but that scheme had been stopped by the then Megas Krites, Ioannes Hegesinos. It just would have meant a vengeful Kommodos landing forces on the islands and bringing them to heel by force. Some of the defeated rebels had tried to flee to the islands in the aftermath of the civil war but they had been turned away, most of those disappearing further east or south. There were rumours that the new regime in Tagmatika had shot dozens, if not hundreds, of rebellious officers. Handing over any refugees would have been as bad as murder even if it would have meant that Tagmatika might have warmed up to the Hexanesa.
      The pot of tea was empty and Leotykhidissa stood to her feet, using the arms of her chair to help her get there. One of the Skouterioi stepped forward to take her arm but the old woman waved him off. The big dog stood up and followed the old lady at her heels as she started on the walk towards her official residence. It wasn't too far away from the harbour and the cafe. Gournaion was not a bustling metropolis by the standards of most nations, even New Wurld ones, but it was the largest city of the Hexanesa. The other people walking the streets knew the Megas Kritissa by sight and waved at her as she passed. Many other heads of state would use a car to get around but the size of the capital meant it was unnecessary and Leotykhidissa also loved to see the city. It meant that the old lady felt like she was more in touch with the ordinary people of her country than others in her position might be. And she could see the effects of the policies that she enacted or the repercussions of wurld events.
      In recent years, the numbers of boarded up shops were more noticeable than ever before. As she walked through the cobbled streets of the port, it was obvious where the road surface had become worn or damaged and been replaced with cheaper tarmac. The Great Europan Collapse had not impacted the islands as badly as others – the government hadn't fallen apart due to economic ruin like in many other countries but the primary industries of fishing and logging had taken a hit. The tourist trade had been nascent but starting to bear fruit, with southerners coming to see the relatively unspoilt landscapes, although others came to see the remains of the battlefields of the Long War. Those were mainly Tagmatioi and their money was as good as anyone else's, even if the Hexanesoi didn't like their government. However, that had dried up and the tourist board of the Kritakrateia just didn't have the money or the pull to try to attract more people to the islands. Foreign faces were now entirely uncommon on the islands.
      The Megas Kritissa got to the official residence of the head of the islands. It was no towering edifice but a low villa, almost in the classical style, if not for the modifications made to the architecture to take into account the frigid winters. A pair of guards in the dress uniform of the Taxiotai, the island's paramilitary police, stood either side of the door. Their faces were slightly reddened from the cold and their breath clouded in the early morning air. Leotykhidissa would make sure that the guards changed over a bit earlier than scheduled to get them out of the cold. The big dog walked up to the nearest and sniffed at the gendarme's boots.
      “Arkadios, come.”
      The dog stopped sniffing about immediately and trotted after the old woman and into the building. It was a comfortable enough building, if slightly more grand than many others in the city. It was the old seat of the Exarkhos, the governor, of the Hexanesa, back before the Long War had dashed that all to the winds. It was, imaginatively, known as the Palati tou Exarkhou, the Palace of the Exarkhos, although “palace” was far too grand a name. Arkadios' nails clicked on the tiles in the hall. The vestibule was cold and a draught blew through it, even with the front doors now closed by the Taxiotai on guard. The only real nod to being in the building was when an aide stepped forward to take the Megas Kritissa's coat and held out a warm indoor robe. Waving the aide away with a gesture, Leotykhidissa took off her coat and changed into the offered robe.
      “A cup of tea to warm you up?” the man asked. He was almost as old as Leotykhidissa and had the air of a trusted retainer about him.
      “Yes, thank you,” replied the Megas Kritissa, giving him a thin smile that still managed to be warm. “Can you take it through to the study? There are some papers I wish to go through before I get anything else done today.”
      “Of course,” he sketched a quick bow and stopped to give Arkadios a pat on the head before he did so. “Anything for this boy?”
      “No, he's had a pastry already this morning,” Evangela said, looking down at the big dog, who was in turn looking up hopefully at the aide with big eyes. He was trying to suggest that he'd not been fed at all today, despite what was being said. “He sat patiently outside, waiting for the service to finish. He's been a good boy.”
      Arkadios' tail wagged at the words.
      “I will bring the tea through when it is ready, Megas Kritissa,” said the aide, finally stopping rubbing the fur on top of the stheneloser's head and walking down the hall. “The heating's on, so the study should be nice and warm.”
      “Thank you, Leontios,” the old lady said and walked further into the residence.
      One of the main changes from the traditionally designed Arhomaiki home was that the study wasn't in a commanding place in the building, open to both ends to allow a good view throughout. Instead, in a nod to the cold weather, the room abutted the kitchen, to allow it to take warmth in from the ovens in the walls. That, along with the underfloor heating, made it one of the most snug rooms in the depths of winter. For an elderly person, it made it very liveable. Arkadios padded into the room and went straight over to the dog bed that lay in between the desk and the door and curled up in it. His eyes were on the Megas Kritissa as she pulled out the chair behind the desk and took out a pad of paper. She looked ahead almost blankly for a moment before taking a fountain pen from the mug of pens on the desk and started writing. It took a long time for the words to start properly coming and the cup of tea that Leontios placed on the desk was stone cold before she took notice of it. Eventually, the big dog had started to fidget and whine slightly, making it known that he needed to go out to go to the loo before Leotykhidissa finally stopped her fitful writing and looked down at the words on the page.
      She sighed and made the sign of the cross in the Aroman fashion – thumb, index and middle finger together, going from right to left – before sitting back in the chair. Of course, as she herself was not a despot, Leotykhidissa would put it before the other five Kritai to see what they would think. Personally, it seemed to be the only way to guarantee the fate of the Hexanesa but she had no idea whether it was the right choice. She was just tired of seeing her beloved nation rot and its people suffer like they had been doing for the last few decades.
      Her status as a Lipotakissa and her stance on Arhomaneia meant that she would probably be the only person who could propose a reunion with the Megas Agios Basileia without it being immediately shouted down and the proposer being arrested for high treason. It was certainly shocking, even to Leotykhidissa, but perhaps it was time for her country to come in from the cold.
       
       
      OOC: It's time to get the ball rolling on the first part mentioned here.
    • By Tagmatium Rules
      * Most Secret, for the eyes of King Aidan I only*

      To: His Majesty, King Aidan I of @Seylos, Eire, Pleinmont, and Sark
      From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
      Your Royal Highness,

      It is felt by the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion that our nations have demonstrated a good ability to work together, as shown by the Aluxian Civil War and the recent crisis in the Makhaira Thalassa (the Dolch See). The Kingdom of Seylos is a stabilising influence in eastern Argis, and one that Ahromaneia is keen to support. Your nation has stood as a bastion against the influence of your north eastern neighbour, which, despite its recent silence, will likely remain a threat to civilised nations for years to come.

      In light of this threat, and that eastern Argis seems to be, by steps, becoming ever more fractious, the Megas Agios Basileia comes to your government with a proposal.
      Some years ago, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion purchased a pair of aircraft carriers from the Greater Queendom of @Suverina. The circumstances surrounding this purchase was that Arhomaneia and Suverina had had a deterioration of relations, after starting the development of these carriers as a joint project. It resulted in my nation being forced out of this project, with no reimbursement of costs incurred. Later on, relations between our nations improved and the Megas Agios Basileia was invited to purchase two carriers at a reduced cost. At the time, it was considered to be an offer too good to pass up. The Prince Michail II carriers were classed as the Despotes class when purchased by Arhomaneia.

      However, they have proved to be surplus to requirements. With the Grand Federated Imperium of @Adaptus, Arhomaneia had co-developed the Protathlitis tou Christou class aircraft carrier and the Despotes class never became part of the Basilikoploimon. The two vessels have therefore remained mothballed since then, although every effort is taken so that it would take little to make them operational once again.

      In light of our good relations and the sterling effort Seylos makes in keeping eastern Argis from descending into anarchy, I have been charged by his Imperial Majesty, Kommodos III, by the Grace of Christ the God, Agios Basileos kai Autokrator ton Arhomaion, to offer the Despotes class to the Kingdom of Seylos.

      If you are willing to consider this, I am to invite your majesty to dispatch a delegation to inspect the Despotes class ships, in order to see if one or the both of them are to your nation's liking. Then our governments can discuss a price that is fair and equitable to both.

      May Seylos continue to be a beacon of light in a dark wurld.

      Honorios Kontarian,
      Megas Logothetes
      of the
      Logothesion ton Stratiotikou
      of the
      Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
    • By Selayar
      OOC Thread | IIWiki page
      Prologue
      “Titā matunuturī ma wurukiusi! Saru anuravana iʻarī, wuka mavīaʻa vana!”
      People are shouting at the top of their lungs, as chaos ensued after a decision was read out loud by the leader of Reformist faction, Wanutāvariʻi. The sentences were roughly translated to ‘We don’t bow down to the bourgeoisie! We must crush them, not making amends with them!’
      Wanutāvariʻi smiled at the reaction. It was going as expected. He was just reading the motion of the Revolutionary Council, declaring that the war with the Purist faction will be resumed, after almost one year of an uneasy period of peace. The people couldn’t wait any longer, and so did he and everyone else in the Council. But he and the Council knew it was a necessary action. The faction would've collapsed if weren't for the Armistice. But not a lot of people knew about this. They hid a lot of things from the mass. For their good.
      The Reformist faction wasn’t initially formed as a unified front from the beginning. It grew out of a communication channel between many various parties that fought against Queen Varamatamaranga, each with their aims and goals. Increased fighting as the war drew out necessitated a unified command, and thus the Reformist faction is officially formed, under the name ʻUrungama mi Taturatanga (Group of Reformer). The various factions that comprised the Reformist were still independent, safe for the coordination for the war effort. These arrangements satisfied everyone, but Wanutāvariʻi knew how hard it was to maintain the integrity of the decentralized faction, especially with some parties trying to gain leverage at the expense of the others. This factor, coupled together with the lack of training among the troops, greatly compromised the Reformist war-effort, resulting in a set-back that prompted the Armistice with the Purist. The last battle on Terata, the old capital of Reyan Empire, destroyed most of their equipment. But it also wiped-out one-fourth of the Purist forces. Both parties had no choice.
      Looking at the crowd below, and the chaos that reigned, he knew that he couldn't trust any of them to do anything right. Not for the second time. No, for the entirety of this renewed war, he would only trust he and a few associates of him. This time, the war would go according to his words. And the Reformist will prevail over its enemy, the Purist.
      Namānurarī Tamunaranga! Death to the Purist! Death to Capitalist!
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