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Knives in the Night

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The situation in the Northwestern Europa had just started to normalize again as the governments of Vanarambaion and S.S.S.S agreed to stop hostilities for a week.

Meanwhile however at the other side of the continent was boiling a new cauldron of troubles. The Byzantine royal family had become a target for an unknown group of assassins and in the most serious assassination attempts yet the Byzantine Emperor had been nearly killed and was lying unconscious in hospital forcing his son to take his duties. What was even more worrying was that Vanarambaian troops had captured several dozen people similar to the assassins during the conflict in the north. These were then turned to Byzantines and surely they are never heard again.

The other governments of Europa had expressed their condolences and offered aid to Byzantines. Vanarambaion had even sent a team of shadow corps to aid Byzantine troops to find the assassins. Who are these people and where they come from? What were their motives?

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As the helicopter of shadow corps landed to a tiny air force base at the Byzantine coast there was a squad of Imperial Guard waiting for them. Otherwise, there was a lot of action in the base. Several planes took off and landed continuously and normal troops were packing APCs.

The captain that led the IG squad saluted the commander of the shadow corps (OOC: what's his rank) and asked if they wanted some refreshment or were they ready to accompany captains men in the terrorist hunt immediately.

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The captain of the Shadow Corps squad returned the salute smartly, and stated that the sooner they entered into their duties, the happier they all would be. He asked to be taken to the briefing room immediately, with all his men while the equipment was unloaded. (OOC - There are 10 men and 3 officers - two sergeants and a captain - in a squad, plus equipment, which was replenished after their stint in the SSSS conflict.)

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The IG captain led the SC group to the briefing room where Guard troopers were already waiting. The wall behind the only desk in the room had a huge map of Europa projected in it. the assassination attempts were marked with pirate flags and the fleets of the Nations concerned of the recent happenings in the north were presented with ship icons. There was also a mark that resembled a crashed aeroplane in the mountainous area of southern Byzantium Nova. The room had also a couple of computers and modern communication panel. One of the troopers was sitting in front of one of the computers accompanied by a huge pile of full and empty energy drink bottles. He was sleeping head against the keyboard.

"We will be using this room as our HQ and comm centre. Could you please show us the exact locations of the sites where you arrested these insurgents you encountered. There is the terminal you can use."

The IG captain pointed to the other computer in the room.

"Our mission is to go to investigate what happened to the reconnaissance plane that was surveying the southern border. We lost contact with it and our satellites picked later its remains in the spot shown on the map."

(OOC: IG troops: Captain, sergeant and corporal. 10 men and one specialist responsible for communications, electronic warfare and such.)

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(The latest Phil IV news from the other thread is quoted below)

As the Fleet of Phil IV began to depart the previuosly disputed waters, and head back to port, no-one noticed the small black shape attatched to the underside of one of the destroyers, just as no-one had noticed the small stealth capsule arrive at the navel fleet a few days before, or how no-one saw the three black shapes appear from inside the submirsable as the fleet started to move, or how they made their way up the side of the ship and onto the deck.

As the Fleet made their way into the harbour in SlavenMouth, black figures detached themselves from the hull and made their way into the submersible still attached to the side of the ship, as the small vehicle sped away from the fleet, hidden under the waves, toward the shores of Phil IV itself, alarms began to sound on the ship, as sailors ran back and forth around the ship, cries went up,

''it's in the hold, two men down''

''Get the guards here now, I want to know what's going on''

''There's no sign of a struggle sir, just the two bodies with their throats slit'

''Put the Admiral's cabin on lockdown, whoever it was could still be here''

As the submersible sped away, the Black clad assassin cursed his luck,

'Damn those sailors, if those two men had come down 5 minuites later, they would be away and no-one would know they were here, now that they had been detected it would make it even harder to get to their primery target...'

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(OOC: read the Byzantine space Ambitions last post)

"Captain. Your orders have changed. We have a situation in Space Center. Their third shuttle has been shot down. And the payload, well the payload is missing. General Gregorios was quite clear that this is confidential so keep it to yourself. Anyway get yourself south of the crash site and look under every stone there. We must find the people responsible. When you will find the terrorists we will send reinforements." The message from his superior was not too encouraging.

The IG captain cursed by himself. Payload was missing. That was ultimately bad news. Then he calmed himself and went explain to his SC colleague that they had new orders to seek out some terrorists that had been sighted in the east.

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"Very well, then, the sooner we move the better."

The captain saluted smartly and wheeled to prepare his team. Hmmm. Space payload missing? What were those bastards up to? How did the common criminals have the capability to shoot down a Space Shuttle? This would be an interesting mission his senses told him. He just hoped he could survive it.

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The situation was getting graver by the minute, First the Emporer of Byzantium Nova was grievously wounded by an assassin, the Byzantian POINT leader was shot at by an unknown assassin, Vanarambaion arrests more terrorists dressed in the same way as the Assasins, two lowly crew members on Phil IV's flagship turn up with their throats slit, and now this, an entire space shuttle apparently shot down.

Phil IV was getting worried, again, although the campaign seemed to be against the Byzantians for some unkown reason as of yet, he was still worried for the safety of himself, and his country. whoever killed the men on his Flagship hadn't been caught, it was an extremely professional job, no trace at all, this led him to believe it was the work of the same people as had been working against the Byzantines. He had doubled the guard on the Royal Palace, but there was still no sign of any people matching the descriptions sent by the Byzantines on Phil IV's soil, Phil was particularly worried that the terrorists had as of yet made no demands of any sort...

Meanwhile, the leader of the terrorist sect in Phil IV, known only as P to his colleagues, was making his way across Phil IV towards the capital of PhilenGrad. Moving ever closer to the target

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The two teams marched to the site they were ordered as it was just half a day march away. They arrived in the sunset and prepared to set a camp to the mountainside not too many kilometres off the shuttles crash site.

That night at five o'clock one of the guards heard something like small stones rolling down the mountainside. He started scanning his surroundings with night vision goggles and saw immediately several men in uniforms crawling towards the camp. He alarmed immediately and the crawlers opened fire. The following firefight was fierce as both defender teams were elite but were in bad position for they were completely besieged. Worst happened when the attackers shot the camp with a bazooka. It missed and hit the ground causing a landslide. All combatants were forced to flee in all directions.

After the landslide had ceased the SC captain started to seek out his men and Byzantines. Then the attackers were also somewhere around. He found only several of his own men and two Byzantine troopers that had survived the landslide. There was no sign of the attackers. Several men, like the rest The Byzantine forces and some of the SC troops were missing. Several bodies of all sides of the battle were lying here and there killed by stones or bullets. Byzantine captain was also lying in the ground. He was fatally wounded and when the other captain approached he managed to pull a piece of paper from his pocket and give it to the other officer. He also said:" I am violating my orders in the extreme now but this is something you must know. They must not figure any use for these things. Hurry my friend." Then he died.

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After breathlessly realizing that he'd survived the landslide and was miraculously uninjured, Captain Smith searched for other survivors. The second one he came across was the injured captain of the Byzantine Imperial Guard. Rushing over to him, he held the officer's head up and called for meds. Then he bent to receive the captain's final words. When the captain died, Smith stood and read the contents of the paper. About midway through, he fell to one knee as if he'd been punched.

"No...but...that's not possible...what would they...oh no."

Then the mask came down again, and he was the same rigid leader the group had always known. Thankfully, the only person able to see them was tending to the final rites of the other captain. He would have to gather the rest of his team, bury the dead, and move on this immediately. No time to call for backup from Thule, either. Bloody Hell...

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The border patrol was bored. The had increased the patrolling during the crisis of the north and been in full alert for weeks. From their point of view there was no reason for this for nothing unusual had happened and the area at the other side of the western border was an empty desert but being soldiers they obeyed their orders. They were taking a break between patrols and men were lazing off around two light APCs.

They were alerted by the sound of tracked and wheeled vehicles, many of them, coming from the road that passed near the border in the Byzantine side. The patrol was puzzled for the Army had no units nearby and they decided to drive to see what was going on. They encountered a huge force of MBTs and APCs driving towards the border as they tried to approach the leading vehicle couple of the tanks opened fire and destroyed the patrol.

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The general staff was called in an emergency meeting. The 2nd Armored Division and 1st Mountain Division had rebelled and tried to escape the country. Both divisions had been ordered to training in the Southern Military Training Area but had failed to arrive there. Instead, they had turned towards the western border and skirmished with border guards. Air forces had routed parts of 2nd Arm. Div. just beyond the border and they were fighting against the loyal Byzantine troops who were called in the hunt. However, around two-thirds of the division had been able to escape into the desert and hide somewhere. Also the 1st Mnt. Div. had vanished to the desert before the air forces or army had been able to attack them. The division then attacked to the rear of the troops fighting against the rebel tank forces. The south-western part of the country was in chaos and The Imperial Guard was forming around the capital to stop any invasion attempts. The disappearance of the combined Vanarambaian/IG forces was also troubling.

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'P' and his elite crew of highly trained men approached the perimeter fence of the compound on the outskirts of PhilenGrad. Although the country's main military base was outside Kosscow, it was a well-kept secret that there was another, even more top-secret military centre at PhilenGrad, this was a high-security research facility, where the latest in high-tech aircraft were tested.

'P' and his group apparently knew exactly where they were, after evading patrols, they cut through the perimeter fence, and were inside the compound. They headed straight for hanger 11, conveniently left unguarded for the 15 minutes they needed.

''Yes, this is the one, quick, the code is 30687''

and there it was, the YF-33 Hypersonic Stealth Fighter, stealth systems 100 times better than that of the US B2 Stealth bomber, which can easily be detected by special systems, and capable of supersonic speeds, costing the government of Phil IV over 10 billion to develop...

As the aircraft took off and disappeared into the distance, General Gravison watched it go, he also watched the men in the Control tower rushing around like fools to work out what was going on. Silently chuckling to himself he spoke into his radio,

'' the Crow is escaped, time to contact the platoon''

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After consolidating equipment, the Combined Platoon had discovered equipment capable of sending a message to Vanarambaion proper. After doing so, and leaving the bulky equipment, the Platoon set off. (They realized that the Byzantine troops couldn't go on a dead run for more than about an hour, so they slowed to a lope.) The captain had determined that they were likely to hit the main force of troops to the west of their position, as they would more than likely try and sack the capital, which was to the west side of the country. After about six hours of non-stop running, they did come across them, as a tank burst from the woods and nearly ran over the front scouts.

"Take cover, hold fire!" the captain bellowed. Luckily, in the restricted vision of the tank, they went unnoticed.

Pushing on a bit further, they came to a jutting point that overlooked a trail. The traffic on the trail was amazing - troops were streaming to the west. Turning to the Byzantine private, the captain demanded, "Where are we?" The trooper, still awed by the sheer number of men and material moving on the trail, replied in a mumble, "We're not in Kansas anymore...this is the desert well outside Byzantium Nova..."

"Blast, it'll take any new troops about a day to get here from where I sent them," the captain thought. "Men, let's find the command of these pudthumpers and 'dispose' of them."

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''Sir, we have had reports in regarding sightings of the Stealth Fighter''

''What? impossible! the systems onboard that aircraft are well in advance of any detection system available''

''Yes sir, but it was only a test aircraft, the Special Radar-cloaking device was not on board at the time, it showed up on standard detection screens all across its flight path sir, but was too fast, and too expensive, to shoot down.''

General Gravison bit his lip, this was unanticipated,

''Very well then, what is its flight path?''

The plane had a very straight flight, obviously not expecting to be detected, they had headed straight for their next target, and landed somewhere in Sector 40.

''We detected them from centres based in Kosscow, and from the Aircraft Carrier Galaician on manoeuvres in the International waters. They headed straight there, no diversions at all. We have also started investigations into the lack of security on the night of the theft, we think there was someone helping on the inside.''

''Really, well done, keep me informed of your investigations, good evening Captain''

As he walked away from the meeting room, the General let out his breath, he must get word to the Group, they were completely exposed...

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As the two rebel divisions were keeping the majority of Byzantine troops busy in the western area was the Palaiologos Space centre attacked in the middle of new launch attempt. The attackers came from the south and assaulted the hastily constructed bunkers of the defenders. The uniforms of the attacking forces were old modelled Byzantine uniforms that had been retired from active use around four years ago after the complete modernization of the army. They reached the defender lines and tried to reach the shuttle. Unfortunately for them the defenders outnumbered and easily repelled them. The Byzantines counterattacked the rebel forces and secured the area around the space centre that no new missile attack was possible. The shuttle was launched and it reached the orbit only two hours late from the schedule.

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The Byzantine forces were advancing steadily to the west. The remains of rebel 2nd Arm. Div. had been destroyed in fierce battles and 1st Mnt. Div. had again vanished into the desert. There had also been new sightings of forces like those that attacked the space centre a few days earlier. The military intelligence was sure that the enemy was localized in western desert.

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To: Byzantium Nova
From: Sevrun
Subject: Current Status


His Excellence has heard a few reports about the current conflict in your nation and wishes to know just how these incidents are affecting the progress of our project. As you are no doubt aware, this is a very sensitive matter and a quick resolution to any and all hostilities within your borders would be for the best.

To this end, we are willing to covertly deploy part of the 8th Air Cavalry division to your nation to assist with your rebel problems. Of course, we will hold off deployment if you do not wish it, but remember, we're involved in this project just as much as you are.

Jacob Taren

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To: Sevrun
From: Byzantium Nova
Subject: Current status

We welcome the offer to send military aid. Would you send your forces to the desert west of Byzantium nova to assist my troops to find the rebel stronghold?

The project will continue straight after we have destroyed the rebellion.

Your ally,
Justinus, Regent of the Byzantines

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To: Byzantium Nova
From: Sevrun
Subject: Deployment

We have received your previous message and are preparing to ship out part of our Air Cavalry unit immediately via transport plane. They will arrive at Konstantinopoli in a matter of hours, and will alter their uniforms and insignias en route to match your nation's own.

The initial group will be two companies in strength, with six transport helicopters loaded with them. This is the largest force we can deploy immediately while rising the least amount of suspicion. If you require additional assistance, it will take a few days to get the units moving without causing alarm amongst the other nations in the region

In the meantime, the 8th's Bravo and Easy companies should be enough to help stabilize the situation further.

Jacob Taren

Meanwhile, at Maleson Air Base, the said loading process was well underway. The companies had been summoned and loaded, and their choppers were being broken down for easy transport. Major Kelas, the officer put in charge of the detachment, supervised the loading procedures before boarding one of the planes himself. They'd be ready to move out within minutes, and with the publically announced trade agreements to Byzantium, it was very unlikely that anyone would pick up on what the cargo actually was.

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Several small bases of the rebels were found in the desert. These bases were bombed by heavy bombers and after that Byzantine land forces arrived in the area. The HQ was not found despite of many divisions fooling around the desert.

This was why after leaving occupation forces the Byzantine army turned southward and started looking under every stone to find the rebels.

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After days of deliberation and levels of bureaucracy laid down by the higher forces, and certain generals, a task force was sent out from Phil IV this morning to track down the missing £10 billion plane.

As the last supposed sighting was of the plane heading directly for area 40, this is where the force is heading

And we are hoping to arrive unhindered to search for this plane

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