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War in the West


Wellsy

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To say that Zharr and Ishakor hated each other would not be entirely correct. To say that they loathed each other with a passion bordering on paranoia would be closer to the truth.

 

Why was this? Byron Kilgore, attach? to the Foreign Ministry, asked himself this as he sipped on his coffee and watched the morning news with dread. Every Cabarrian schoolchild knew that Zharr and Ishakor went together like oil and water, matter and anti-matter. The specific origins of the hatred have been lost to history, but there were overtones of racism and revenge in looking back at the history of the struggle. Each believed that their territories should be one, but under rule of one respective country. Each saw the two countries as a homeland that neither could share.

 

Byron Kilgore wiped his brow, the coffee curdling in his stomach, as he contemplated the history. What made it even more awkward for Cabarria was the fact that these two countries bordered her on the west, and the fact that Cabarria maintained good relations with both nations.

 

As the newscaster somberly reported the recent event, Kilgore?s thoughts raced immediately to the thousands of Cabarrian nationals in both Zharr and Ishakor. Corporations and universities had sent their charges into both nations on missions of commerce and learning, and the Zharrans and the Ishakor likewise had many of their own inside Cabarria, nowhere near each other of course.

 

Kilgore then thought of the recent tension between the two nations. He thought of the wrangling the Foreign Ministry had engaged in with both sides, neither of which would meet with the other face to face, over a hotly disputed valley that lay between them, the Lassornen. He remembered the subtle shift in troops that had Zharr and Ishakor staring at each other with rifles drawn across the border. Remembering all these things made the morning news that much more difficult to bear.

 

?What we know so far,? the middle-aged newscaster intoned nervously, ?is that at least 300 are dead. The Zharr airliner headed from Rok Klai to Thelkeep appears to have exploded in Ishakor airspace. Despite the lack of a cause, the government of Zharr has laid blame for the tragedy squarely at the feet of Ishakor. The lack of an official response from Ishakor has exacerbated the situation, and the Cabarrian military has been put on high alert.?

 

Byron Kilgore cradled his head in his hands. For him, an attach? to the government of Zharr, today would not be a good day at all.

 

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Foreign Secretary Valerie Dussan sat with a deep scowl on her face as Byron Kilgore cowered in the corner of her spacious modern office that had a beautiful view of Kanamar visible through a large picture window. On her mahogany desk were two phones set to conference call. On one was Thelja Mardu, High Ambassador from Ishakor, and on the other was General Banmon Kildoa, one of the Most Revered Council in charge of Zharr?s military.

 

She rubbed her temples. Despite her desperate insistence, neither one wanted to speak to each other, so she had to cycle back and forth between the two in order to have any sort of meaningful conversation.

 

?Please inform my esteemed counterpart,? Mardu spoke in an oily tone that reeked of hidden intentions, ?that to the best of my knowledge, Ishakor did not intentionally shoot down Zharr Air 402.?

 

?Intentionally, Ambassador?? Dussan asked. ?So you?re not denying that your forces shot down the plane??

 

There was an annoyed pause. ?To the best of my knowledge, Ishakor did not intentionally shoot down Zharr Air 402.?

 

?Tell that Ishakor bastard,? General Kildoa thundered over the international phone line, ?that Zharr will not stand for this blatant act of aggression! From our radar data, we have seen that the plane was shot down over the Lassornen valley, most likely from Ishakor anti-aircraft positions. We cannot allow the anti-aircraft positions in the Lassornen to stand unaccountable for this murder! Even now, we are seeking allies in the pursuit of justice.?

 

Dussan sighed and relayed the message. ?Please let it be known,? Mardu sneered, ?that Ishakor cannot and will not allow our territorial sovereignty to be compromised. We too are asking for help in containing any potential aggression undertaken by Zharr. Please let it be known??

 

?Oh, come on,? Dussan muttered, before pressing the button that brought the three of them in direct contact with each other. She cleared her throat. ?Gentlemen, here is the concern of Cabarria. The two of you share a border with our nation, and we anticipate that any hostilities will be dangerous for the entire region. There?s no need for any of this to escalate any further. To my understanding, this appears to be a tragic mistake. I would recommend that Zharr stand down its forces along the border and withdraw any advance units from the Lassornen, and that Ishakor accept responsibility for the accident and express their sympathy to the loved ones of the deceased.?

 

?We will not withdraw from the Lassornen!? Kildoa yelled. ?Not so long as Ishakor maintains their presence there, and not so long as the murderers are allowed to roam free. It would not surprise me to learn the order to shoot down Zharr Air 402 came from the High Ishakor Prelate himself.?

 

?Watch your tongue!? Mardu shot back. ?What occurred really does not concern me, as it seems that you will use any excuse to grab our territory.?

 

?Gentlemen!? Dussan said firmly. ?There is no need to ? gentlemen?? The silence from the lines was as somber as a tomb as she realized that the two of them had disconnected themselves at the same time. She swore. ?Kilgore, get in touch with the Zharr embassy.?

 

?They?re ? they?re not responding to my messages??

 

?Then try harder!? She snapped. Standing abruptly in frustration, she turned and gazed at the panorama of Kanamar. Things did not look good. King Brandheld IV had ordered troops to the border to ensure Cabarrian security, and Nightshade intelligence agents had reported that Zharr and Ishakor were both massing forces along the Lassornen. She was trying her best to avert war, and she hoped that her best would be enough.

 

 

To: The nations of Europa

From: The Exalted State of Zharr

 

Three days ago, Zharr Air 402 was brutally and without provocation shot out of the sky over Ishakor airspace. Our intelligence estimates show that anti-aircraft positions in the Lassornen were most likely used in this violent act. We are seeking your help and assistance in meting out justice for this murder of our citizens. It is our aim to neutralize by whatever means the Ishakor threat in the Lassornen, and we anticipate a vicious counter response from these cowards. We humbly ask for whatever aid you might offer us in avenging the wanton slaying of our innocents.

 

 

To: The nations of Europa

From: The Shining Prelacy of Ishakor

 

No doubt many of you are aware of the accidental downing of Zharr Air Flight 402. To the best of our knowledge, this was an unfortunate accident, predicated by months of Zharr aggression that have put our troops on edge and created conditions for such an incident to occur. True to form, Zharr is using this accident as an excuse to disrupt our sovereignty and make a land grab. We will not stand for this, and we are prepared to vigorously defend against these warmongers. Any assistance you can offer so that we may stand against this threat would indeed be welcome.

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The night sky shone brilliant with stars as Specialists Gregory and Fulsham hunkered down in the wooded valley of the Lassornen. Both were painted in camouflage and lay in their ghillie suits gazing through infrared scopes at Ishakor positions at the top of the ridge. They?d been dropped into the hostile zone a day ago, and as elite members of the Knights of the Rose, they were known as part of the Fighting 99.

 

They were too well trained to converse with words; something like that might give away their position. Instead, they gave each other subtle hand gestures that spoke volumes to one another, partners in the field for the last three years.

 

It?s too quiet out here, Gregory signed. We haven?t heard signs of troop movement in twelve hours now.

 

I know, Fulsham responded. I hope this means we get to go home soon.

 

Without warning, there was a distant rumble from overhead that culminated suddenly into a loud roar. Twelve bombers streaked past above them and the Ishakor positions erupted almost immediately into flame with a tremendous explosion.

 

Fulsham cursed audibly, figuring the sonic boom would wash out anything someone might overhear. ?They?re not stopping, they?re heading north, probably toward the Ishakor capital and other cities. Looks like Zharr is interested in more than just Ishakor anti-aircraft positions.?

 

?I?m getting a transmission from Bravo Team,? Gregory said with a scowl, referring to a second squad that had infiltrated miles away. ?They?re reporting Ishakor armor coming across the border. Sounds like some heavy shelling is going on farther down the valley.? Even now, they could hear the far-off muffled thuds of artillery fire.

 

Fulsham rapped Gregory on the shoulder. ?All right, let?s get back to the extraction zone. Looks like we?re not headed home any time soon, though.?

 

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Several weeks prior to the Zharr aircraft being destroyed by Ishakor.

Undisclosed City within the Region of Zharr

 

A figure adorned in the military uniform of Haruspex had been brought before the military council headed by General Banmon Kildoa. There, claiming in the acts of peace and brotherhood, a wish to align with the nation of Zharr for purpose of strategic alliance. This figure was none other then Thei-de Kantra, Fleet Lord of the Seventh Circle, and Head of the House of Olath Orn within the Principality of Haruspex. Dossier handed to an aide of the council, as Thei continued to work the magic of the slithering tongue.

 

Comrades, it is time that the dream of one nation be realized. Surely you dont believe the more prosperous socialists to the North of you will continue to allow your existence? They believe you to be a blight upon their perfect world. They embargo you without mercy, slander your government without cause, and it is well known that they see you as subhuman. A species not worthy of sharing existence. Pause, and then continue.It is true that we of the Haruspex are a fascist nation. We openly admit this, and all that goes with such. The stigma and whatever else. But this fascist nation sees potential in the peoples of Zharr, and a similiar occurance much like our own so many ages ago. Zharr is the fit, the true strength in this land, we believe Zharr should lead. And we are ready to supply Zharr with the weaponry to do so.

 

A break taken to sip from a glass of water, allowing the liquid to parch a now dry throat. Brief examation of those on the council, there seemed to be a lot of head nodding. Ishakor had been devestating to this nation for it's purposes of trade and economical growth. He continued. Their army is close to the border, our agents filtered into the lowlands watch them daily. Our satallite coverage depicts movements within movements. It will only be a matter of time. So I say to you, provoke their hand, and bait their forces into a trap. The lowlands are perfect tank country, but it has the potential to be flanked. Use our equipment and give the Ishakor military a bloody nose they arent expecting. They have technical information on most of your equipment, but none of ours. Do you think they would be a match for S-80U panzers, or Su-24 aerocraft? I leave you to the decision gentlemen.

 

Thei-de Kantra offered a tip of head, placed his officers cap back upon head, his aid plucked up the attache case and the Tagnik Zun bodyguards, of which there were two, led the convoy towards the door. Chemical suit like wear looking out of place amidst that of the rest of the establishment and indeed nation of Zharr.

Edited by Haruspex (see edit history)
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?The Lassornen valley is overrun by soldiers of both nations,? Lord Angus Arthorod, commander of the Knighthood of the Rose, spoke solemnly to King Brandheld IV and Prime Minister Kyle Durhanion. ?Zharr bombing has hurt several southern Ishakor cities, but the Ishakor ground advance is proving quite potent.? He rubbed his long moustache. ?It?s the Zharr bombers that concern me, your Excellencies. Up until recently, we didn?t think they had the range or precision to carry out such attacks. And Zharr appears to be fielding a few odd tanks that we don?t recognize in their arsenal.?

 

King Brandheld?s eyes narrowed. ?You think someone?s supplying them??

 

Arthorod shrugged. ?I cannot be sure. But it is something to consider in the days ahead.?

 

The king rubbed his temples. ?We have troops stationed along the border, but I am not sure if it will be enough. Foreign Secretary Dussan tells me it?s a bloodbath over there, and I am concerned about any of it spilling over into our territory. I also fear our borderlands will be used as bases of operation for either side, and place them at risk for attack.? He straightened. ?I am going to authorize the call up of reservists and institution of Phase One of the Military Lottery.?

 

Durhanion nodded. ?There?s going to be grumbling, even if Phase One only calls for inactives and potentates to be drafted.?

 

?Well, that?s why we pay them a small monthly stipend. I also believe, based on what Lord Arthorod tells me, that the Three Knighthoods need fresh acolytes. I?m going to call for a fresh recruitment drive to see what we can drum up.?

 

?This is quite the build-up for what is essential border detail on overdrive,? Arthorod intoned. ?You foresee something else??

 

?I hope not,? Brandheld replied. ?But if things get worse across the border, we may have no choice but to review our options further.?

 

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Defence General Secretariat building, Puerto Naxos.

 

Army Commander Chaves was walking from one extreme to another of his office, he wore the campaign uniform, with the jungle camouflage uniform and his red beret. He seemed nervous but thoughtful. In the desk an official was waiting for his orders, watching the movements of the Army Commander.

 

- Okay, write now the official channel my comrade. Let?s see-. The official lowered his glance and put the pencil in the official paper-."Dear comrades of Ishakor. As we know you shot accidentally the Zahrr Air 402 but we think that this could be solved with a pacific agreement and not with a war, maybe it has been provoked by Zahrr fascist in his desires to expand to your nation. We can not allow that Zahrr is doing, attacking your lands and people, so we will offer you all support we can offer including weapons and vehicles, for example "-. Chaves revised a note in his desk-. "[/i]We could send Gal?pago, Aspid or Gavilan vehicles. We could send political commissars and war advisors, and maybe some military forces. Also we will try to convince the Social Democratic Confederation to involve in this unjustified war. But the important fact is that you are not alone, you have all our support. We want that the socialist revolution triumphs in your nation, Renposa has fallen and now is your turn. We are waiting for your answer. Socialist Regards, Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers, signed, Chaves. "

 

- It is Finished, comrade Army Commander.

 

- Okay, make a clean version and send it urgently. What about Pirate Corps?-. Asked the Army Commander.

 

- They could be prepared in few days, of course if they are aero-transported.

 

- And Eva?

 

- She is still in Indalia.

 

- f*ck! We have to be content with those dirty f*cking animals? Ok I will talk with General Vladimir? Thanks my comrade.

 

The official got out the office and Chaves sat on the chair in front of his desk. "We have another opportunity" he thought "but I want to work with professional ones not with savages? Although maybe..."

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Thei-de Kantra sat in front of a terminal aboard the submarine that had carried him to the southern lands of Zharr. From it's sheltered position within a nameless fishing village, encrypted messages were being sent to the High Court of the Empress and that of the Executive Order.

 

In the darkness of those quarters, the pale green screen flashed hieroglyphics that represented the written language of the Haruspex. It moved at a speed which seemed to just stream down the screen, like a river of a convoluted mess.

 

A pause, as his ungloved right index finger touched the screen and a message, appeared followed by a video embedded in the message itself. A woman appeared and the colour paled from his face, The Empress! The message was not dated, which meant...it was live!

 

Usstan kyorl dos, Senger Kantra, Usstan kyorl dosst solen 'zil dos kyorl usst. L' draeval, uriu doer. Dos orn sila nindol sil'in nation wund udossta grasp, lu' udos orn sila mina ulu natha sel kyikh. Kantra visibly took note that he was infact still alive, and leaned somewhat backwards from the image of video, breathing much more slowly. A slight raise of hand to forehead before he had the nerve to respond, and speak directly to that which was holy above all else. Beyond fame, beyond power, wealth, and glory, there were only a few who would throw themselves to the wolves of the night to save that which made the Haruspex as it was, and he was one of them.

 

Nind xal ke tlu kr'athin Orthae uss. Usstan zhal thalra 'sohna xuil ninta blada d' da'rex lu' lay doeb l' terms whol..Abbanid. Zharr zhah natha sargtlin nation, nind orn xun mzilt bel'la whol l' ulin. The video of the Empress faded and Kantra nearly jumped upwards into a bow of head, quickly he stepped from quarters and made way to the command bridge of the Akula class submarine. He spoke quickly to it's captain, a Prata-Khan named Olrus who immediately began to send message to the Zharr government. Inform l' Zharr military, nindel Usstan z'klaen telanth ulu l' blada h'uena mzild. L' ap'za d' ninta nation uriu tlus realized.

 

Without a word, Kantra and his bodyguards, and the aide from before made it topside, to the village shores and to the Zharr provided military vehicle that would take them once more into the city that hosted the council. The times were ahead, and it would be glorious...

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To: Sir Byron Kilgore (Cabarria)

From: Rose Amoros (General Secretary of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.)

 

Dear comrade:

 

I write you this official channel to tell that your big and beloved country by our people, Cabarria, have to take part in the conflict between Zharr and Ishakor. We believe in the Ishakor version and we think that Zharr forced the attack to "Zharr Air 402" to initiate this violence rise, looking only for their imperialist expansion at the expense of the freedom of Ishakor.

 

In our politics of transparency we have to report you that we have sent a message to Ishakor promising all support, including military, we can in their fight against fascism and for freedom.

 

We think we, both nations, could still undertake dimplomatic efforts to stop the unjustified Zharr?s aggression and deleting any fascist aspirations in this region. But every second we have less time.

 

Socialist Regards.

 

Rose Amoros.

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"Outrageous!" Valerie Dussan shrieked as Byron Kilgore huddled in the corner, clutching the memo from the Republic of Red Iberic Workers. "Why in the name of Saint Veloth would Iberic Workers get involved in this war? Don't they know they're just adding fuel to the fire?"

 

"Easy," PM Kyle Durhanion soothed as he read over the fax. "It looks like they're not jumping into the fray just yet. They've appealed for a pacifist solution, though their offer of military aid troubles me."

 

"They're picking sides based purely on ideology," Dussan spat. "They don't give a damn how that plane got shot down, just as long as the socialist revolution can continue, and damn the consequences!" She took a deep breath. "Okay ... I'm supposed to be the diplomatic one here ... What if we take them up on their offer to seek a peaceful solution? What do you think, Kilgore?"

 

Kilgore nervously cleared his throat. "Well ... I don't see how they'd have more sway than we do. I don't think Iberic Workers fully grasps that this isn't inherently a clash of ideologies, more like some sort of geopolitical blood feud. It also doesn't help that the Zharr and Ishakor embassies have been extremely silent."

 

Durhanion pursed his lips. "I don't like the thought of Iberic Workers' miltary getting involved. And we still aren't sure if Zharr is getting help from an outside source as well. We need to cut off outside help to both sides, not encourage them. This cannot become a little proxy war for any nation that feels like it has something to prove."

 

He gazed out the window in the Prime Minister's office. "The war's getting worse, which doesn't help. The main push from both sides is at a grinding stalemate in the Lassornen, but both nations are sending out flanking armies to go around the other. The borderlands are a mess. Civilian casualties are extremely high on both sides, and I don't doubt we'll start seeing refugees soon." He turned to look at them. "One thing is for certain - we can't afford any sort of escalation in this war."

 

TO: Rose Amoros, General Secretary of the People's Republic of Red Iberic Workers

FROM: Kyle Durhanion, Prime Minister of Cabarria

 

The recent outbreak of war between Zharr and Ishakor also concerns us greatly, and like you, we would seek to gain a peaceful end to this conflict. At this time, however, neither Zharr nor Ishakor is communicating with our Foreign Ministry. If you have some sort of communication with either, we would appreciate your using it to gain a peaceful end to this conflict.

 

We also appreciate your candor and honesty in informing us that you have chosen to offer military support to Ishakor. We would caution you, however, that any such aid would be detrimental to regional peace and almost certainly exacerbate an already violent situation. We cannot allow any sort of military assistance to either side, as this would escalate the war and almost certainly affect our Cabarrian homeland. Any military support from you or any other nation to either side would concern us greatly, and we would be forced to drastically reevaluate the situation. You have offered to seek a peaceful end to the war - we would urge you to do so and refrain from sending any sort of military assistance. We look forward to working with you in this quest for peace.

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Once more within the undisclosed location, Thei-de Kantra, representative of the Haruspex, stood before the military council of the Zharr. He had viewed them for a long time, and then set to pacing, pausing to look at them for a time and then shook his head, continuing. Finally having enough of this charade, a rather annoying Colonel barked at him to stop moving and get on with it.

 

A smile upon his face for a moment, Kantra turned head and then body towards the council. I have been in contact with my government, and indeed the Empress herself. She is most impressed by the abilities of the Zharrian soldiers. This does not happen often, we do not often commend the abilities of others. In that light, the Empress has been kept appraised of your situation with your northern neighbors. In being impressed, and knowing that Zharr is not a rich nation, that it's funds are not deep, the Empress is willing to work with the Zharr military and it's peoples for a different price tag.

 

He paused, letting it be soaked in, and then it came. The same colonel, barking as usual as to the cost desired.Colonel, Council, the Empress has asked that when all of this is said and done, when the Zharr military has crushed their enemies, that we be allowed some of the mineral rights of the northern lands. Not to many of course, we are not a greedy people. In return, what once cost you very little, will not cost anything at all until that time. This means, cannon, advanced small arms, tanks, planes, anti-aircraft missiles, land based conventional and dare I say, chemical, perhaps even biological warheads.

 

Also, if need be, the Principality is fully able to offer entire legions of troops, and aerocraft pilots as well as submarine naval force to strike at Ishakor land based targets, military ones of course or as you see fit. We are even willing to train those you wish, with an advisor on board to operate these vessels and pursue the war as you see fit. If it's any indication, it will not be over any time soon, unless you desire it to be so. We can help you win this war, crushing them beneathe the might of your properly equipped and aided army. I leave you to deliberate, I shall be in the next room awaiting your decision honored officers of Zharr.

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Right after Thei-de Kantra had left the room, the Council immediately took to hushed whispering. "Do you believe this offer?" Colonel Nammu barked. "This could be the break we've been waiting for."

 

General Thelja Mardu smoked a cigar casually. "The Maximum Commander will be pleased with this report. I spoke with him earlier today. He gave us authorization to accept whatever aid we deem appropriate."

 

"Lucky for us," a young colonel said nervously. "Those long-range bombers they provided us were good enough, but the Ishakor army is proving quite a match for us..."

 

"Silence!" Colonel Nammu bellowed. "I won't hear such treason. There is no nation that can match the might of Zharr!"

 

"Silence yourself," General Mardu purred threateningly. "Save the patriotic doublespeak for the rallies. He's right, you know. Whatever advantage we can secure would be in our best interest."

 

An aged brigadier general screeched loudly, "Let's take whatever else we can from these Haruspex! Damn those Ishakor scum to the Seven Hells, we'll see them destroyed before it's all over!" A few other Council members murmured in agreement, their eyes hungry and alight with the thought of what this Haruspex assistance might mean for their country.

 

The smoke rose lazily from General Mardu's cigar and obscured the yellow fluorescent light that buzzed loudly in the small room. "Then we'll take what they offer, then." He smiled, savoring that last phrase the Haruspex envoy had used. Chemical, perhaps even biological warheads. "We'll take all that they offer, indeed."

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To: The Shining Prelacy of Ishakor.

From: Chaves, Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Dear Comrades:

 

This is our second message providing our help and support and your nation has to understand that the time is running so quickly.

 

For the Revolution, we can provide you with weapons and vehicles, please consult our previous message. Also we could send military advisors and political commisioners.

 

With regard to our offer of sending red people?s troops we have to tell that Cabarria is putting up to this fact. For now, we can send you some military advisors and with time and maybe we could avoid the Cabarria?s warning. Perhaps if we negotiate with them things can change... Cabarria have to understand that speaking about peace with Zharr is impossible, they are blinded because it is obvious that some nation is supporting their fascist aspirations, and we think which nation is, but they don?t see at the moment... But be calm.

 

All our people is supporting! The Revolution will win!

 

Resistance!

 

Chaves, Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

 

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Defence Secretariat, Old Town, Puerto Naxos

 

Chaves was sat in front of his desk, at the center office of the Defence Secretariat in Old Town, Puerto Naxos. He sighed, he took off his beret and threw it on the table and he scratched his faces, closing his eyes. He was, in one word, exhausted. Too many problems that chained to themselves. When the peace had come with the fall of Renposa, now two fronts heated like red-hot iron, Indalia and Ishakor. Also he had not many agents to send to the hot points of Europa and he would have to do bobbin lace to reassign the forces.

 

?Toc, toc?, the call awoke him, taking the beret and he put on another time.

 

- Come in!

 

- General Vladimir, Comrade Army Commander- Said his officer.

 

- f*ck! Okay? Say him to enter, thanks-. The Army Commander got ready his appearance.

 

A middle-aged man but very wrinkled entered in the big room. A tall man, with black long beard and the hair fixed in long dreadlocks with a daisy flower tiara. He wore a red frock coat with golden threads and buttons, a black trousers and black Arabic boots with the toe caps pointing up. The fingers were covered by big gold rings. His eyes were sunk in his cranium and their outlines were painted in black. He walked with parsimony, shook hands with the Army Commander and he let himself fell in the XVIII C. sofa near the desk. He stank of turpentine.

 

Vladimir was the General of the Pirates Strike Force, the oldest and more harmed member of his Corp. Chaves does not like the Pirates, and like many people in the Army he considered them as crazy and irreverent soldiers. But this was the fate and at least they are effective.

 

- My friend? Where is the action?-. His eyes were closed, like he was sleeping, showing all his black painting in the outlines.

 

- For now in nowhere, Vladimir, and please, don?t sleep in the sofa!- the last words resounded in the room, but Vladimir did not react, Chaves continued-. We have received a message from Cabarria warn us. I don?t understand? Don?t they see that Zharr is a danger for Ishakor including them? What are they waiting? A nuke in the house of Kyle Durhanion?

 

Vladimir reacted and he woke up, his eyes blinked and he directed his glance to the Army Commander.

 

- So, are you saying to me that we won?t go to Ishakor? The Equipment was prepared and my men are sharpening his swords and you are saying that we won?t fly to Ishakor!- Vladimir shook his arms in the air and he finally hit the sofa

 

- For now not. We have offered support to Ishakor and I want to watch the situation first. Maybe I would send an agent? But you have to be calm and prepared to march there at any moment. Cabarria is choosing the wrong way but I think they will change? If not? We could send the force secretly. We have to wait the replies of Ishakor and Cabarria and we will decide.

 

- And for the honeyed eyes and the endless curves of the woman? Who the hell are you going to send there?

 

- Daniel is in Tarentum watching the movements in the north and Eva is in Indalia but I can not send a floosy agent. I have thought in Eva. I have to call here? But maybe she can not go or maybe Rose did not want, that?s the question- said the Army Commander.

 

- Je, je! Good election my friend! My men will follow that honey to death if it was possible? She is my goddess? And she is moderate...

 

- You only have to be prepared, only that, if she can, she will travel in a civilian flight- interrupted Chaves-. You only have to wait and with more information we will decide. The meeting has finished, I want to prepare the message to Kyle Durhanion?

 

- One more question?- Chaves looked up his eyes to Vladimir- Will the support to Ishakor be free?

 

- What do you believe? Never a support is free? There is not Revolution without shots. And my friend, it is a good opportunity to grow, while the north is bleeding today, the south entirely could be a workers paradise tomorrow. Ishakor is a good start... Please, leave the room my comrade and you remember, stay close?

 

Vladimir left the room with his traditional parsimony and Chaves fell into the same thoughts. He took an official paper and he started to scribble fast. The General Secretary would sign the message.

 

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To: Kyle Durhanion, Prime Minister of Cabarria.

From: Rose Amoros, General Secretary of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Dear Comrades:

 

We appreciated your election for searching for peace in the region like us, but there is a problem, Zharr does not want the peace, the only objective of this nation is to destroy Ishakor. So we are in our right to provide support to Ishakor, primarily, providing weapons and vehicles.

 

But we can not standing on the sidelines while Zharr is destroying Ishakor, if that happens and fulfilling the International Law we will be forced to send troops. You have to understand that the nation which started the aggression was Zharr, being based on an unjustified attack.

 

So we would advise you to prepare to mobilise your army including the proposal of doing group manoeuvres for stopping the fascist aggression of Zharr. In any case, we keep the right of taking part in the conflict if the situation gets worse.

 

Regards.

 

Rose Amoros, General Secretary of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

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The Ishakor advance had busted through the Zharr line. Specialist Fulsham watched through night vision goggles as the Zharr infantry scurried away from the front and Ishakor armor and artillery took potshots at their retreating backs. The point of the breach was one fourth of the way in along the Zharr-Ishakor border as one walked along it from Cabarria. Fulsham knew that elsewhere the Zharr army was holding fast, not giving up much ground, and that the only breach was here, near the town of Gishandan.

 

Fulsham moved silently through the brush, shadowing the Ishakor infantry as they advanced toward Gishandan. The town lay in a slight valley, and the usually bustling town lay silent, its lights and lanterns doused with the imminent threat of enemy advance.

 

Zharr units had moved through the city to take up a defensive position along the southern ridge four miles away. Fulsham figured that they thought the city, laying in a depression, would provide a poor position to mount a counterattack. He hit the outskirts of the town just before the Ishakor advance did, keeping to the shadows and whispering into his comlink headset, steadying his assault rifle in case he should need it.

 

"Gishanden is quiet," he hissed to the intel officer on the other end, a likable Iris Knight who was recording every word of the conversation. "Zharr didn't stop here during their retreat, and it looks like the civilians-"

 

He was cut off by a loud explosion to his right. He whirled around to see an old three-story building blossom into flame, hit by mortar fire. There was another explosion, and another, as shell after shell was lobbed at the town, and Fulsham began to hear the Ishakor war-chant growing louder and louder as their infantry approached.

 

The once silent town became a cacophony of chaos as the residents began to shout and wail in alarm. More explosions thundered around him as the Ishakor column marched into the main thoroughfare, chanting and raising their rifles in triumph. Detachments broke off from the main column and entered the various building lining main street, and Fulsham watched horrified as several Zharr were dragged into the street. They were dressed in much the same manner as other Zharr, in decent but not flashy clothes, and fear was in their eyes as the Ishakor soldiers circled them.

 

Fulsham offered a quick and silent prayer to Saint Veloth before reporting. "Ishakor is in the city," he spoke as the Iris Knight transcribed his every word. "They're taking civilian prisoners. They're-"

 

Several staccato machine gun bursts interrupted him, and his eyes widened in shock. An experienced special forces officer with the Fighting 99, he had been through many things, but he was still taken aback by what he was witnessing. He was helpless to do anything, just one man among the chaos, and more machine gun fire made him clutch his rifle in white-knuckle frustration. The Ishakor soldiers were raising their guns at the hapless Zharr civilians, and, almost casually, shooting them down where they cowered in the street. Their muzzle flashes joined with the exploding buildings to light the doomed streets of Gishanden.

 

"They're killing civilians, repeat, they are murdering civilians," Fulsham reported as he moved out of town and off to a safe distance where he could report further. He could see Zharr troops moving back down into the valley, realizing too late what Ishakor was doing. He knew that the Zharr troops would be ground into meat in their own city - Ishakor was too powerful here at this point on the front. He moved into the forest, chattering with ferocity to the Iris Knight. Behind him, Gishanden burned.

 

---

 

General Thelja Mardu dialed the secure line the Haruspex envoy had given him, a frantic look in his eye. "Listen to me, Kantra," he stammered. "Those Ishakor dogs have taken Gishanden. I just learned... our troops tried to retake it, but they drove our troops away and massacred our women and children. Our line is buckling, and Ishakor threatens to break through. Whatever aid you might give us, I need it now!"

 

---

 

The High Prelate of Ishakor reviewed the reports from the front line with glee. His consorts fanned him as he lounged in a silken papasan and chewed grapes, decked out in a military uniform and a red beret as his advisors looked on. "Long live the People, for the People are the Power." He repeated the Ishakor mantra in triumph as he also glanced at the telegram from Red Iberic Workers. "Let us give thanks to He who gave the People their Power, and let us rejoice, for our hour victory is in the wind and flies toward us like a winged angel."

 

He waved a hand. "Send word to the Red Iberic Workers. We will accept their offer of aid and crush these Zharr once and for all."

 

TO: Red Iberic Workers

FROM: Ishakor

 

Your offer of aid is greatly appreciated and readily accepted. Together we will crush the fascist Zharr and usher in an era of victory that shall be as triumphant as the stars.

---

 

King Brandheld IV listened with sorrow to the reports of Specialist Fulsham and other specialists in the field. A few other villages had fallen to the Ishakor advance with similar tragic results, but none on such a scale as at Gishanden.

 

"Red Iberic Workers is still intent on aiding Ishakor," PM Durhanion spoke softly. "They say Zharr is the aggressor and must be stopped."

 

"Zharr miscalculated," King Brandheld said. "I don't care who started this damned war, I don't care who is in the wrong, or who deserves support. Gishanden is only a hundred miles from our border. One hundred miles!" He shook his fist. "And there are nations that want to add to this conflict? That want to pour gasoline on this blazing mess? Convenient for all of them, since Cabarria is the only one who will get burnt!"

 

Kyle Durhanion, who had faced down opposition party members and heads of state, quivered in fear. The wrath of his King frightened him, especially as the older man was usually kind and gentle. The unexpected outburst jarred him, and he asked, "How would you command Cabarria, my lord?"

 

The King transfixed him with a steely gaze. "Tell Red Iberic Workers and anyone else we will not accept any nation offering aid to Zharr or to Ishakor. Tell the navy to take up blockade positions in the Gulf to stop any potential arms shipments to Ishakor, and along the west coast to fend off aid to Zharr."

 

"Arthorod is at the border and he has been asking me for instructions. What shall I relay to him?"

 

"Tell him the hour grows near when Cabarria may have to take matters into it's own hands."

 

TO: Red Iberic Workers and the other nations of Europa

FROM: Cabarria

 

The recent violence in Gishanden and along the Lassornen line, perpetrated by the advancing Ishakor army, has we hope convinced you that Ishakor is no downtrodden lamb needing an outstretched arm of salvation. The direct instigator of this conflict is uncertain, but that does not change the fact that neither side seems worthy of aid over the other.

 

As the chaos and unrest grows, and as some nations appear eager to fuel such chaos and unrest, Cabarria has no choice but to begin a naval blockade of these two nations in the interests of peace to prevent arms shipments and an accompanying escalation of violence that would further destabilize the region and threaten Cabarrian interests.

 

Red Iberic Workers and others, if you are truly serious about striving for peace, then help us contain this bloodshed and prepare for the possibility of disarmament. But if you are intent on arming one or the other, be sure that Cabarria will not stand for it.

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Location: Sheltered Harbor

 

The fish plant had been a clever ruse, inside lay an actual holding pen for the submarine that Kantra had arrived upon. These preperations hadnt been made by them, but by Zharr eagerness to have their own submercible fleet one day. Taking advantage of the already built installation, it was a perfect harbor for the 941 Akula class vessel. The HIN Thresher held twenty ballistic missiles, of which fifteen were conventional warheads. Enough explosive might to render dozens of city blocks as rubble. The real weaponry however lay in five black tipped missiles.

 

General Thelja Mardu, you wish is my command. Look foreward to the lands north, the Ishakor people will pay dearly for taking advantage of you. Reciever hung up, the silence of the tone resounding on the other end of the line. A nod to the Prata-Khan captain who withdrew a key card as did his second in command Siet-Khan and a Liet ranked deck officer. A small section of a panel lined with fire control screens were switches covered by red plastic and then an illuminated hand print. Each placed their key into the ignition and as one, turned to the left, followed by place of hand against the print, of which identified the user via records kept in the processing core of the computer system as authorized personnel.

 

Every deck officer and enlisted sailor on the bridge, in the passageways and so on grabbed onto something sturdy as Thresher now just within reach of it's hiding spot, slid back the lids containing each and every missile. The last five carried a rather diabolical biological agent refered to as Red Plague A weapon of terror and mass casualities. The carrier missile would detonate a hundred meters or so above the target area, dispersing the agent towards the ground where it would seep into earth, stone, flesh, and whatever other surface.

 

For a period of seventy two hours it would lay dorment, and then activate with a one hundred hour lifespan. Victims would immediately be found, as the biological weapon kills white blood cells within the body at a hyper accelerated rate. Leaving nothing but red blood cells in the body. Without the Neutrophil, Lymphocyte and Monocyte white blood cells, the immune system will collpase and leave the body open to the second phase of the weapon which is a neuro toxin that inhibits the nervous system at the points of connectivity. So the body may send the message of breathing, but the outcome is that the nerves are not recieving and the host is unable to breathe, move, speak, etc.

 

The neuro toxin on it's own is ineffective against a healthy humans body, but one the immune system is disabled, it is extremely lethal. Estimates on test subjects in Haruspex labs put lifespan once contracted, at less then two hours of which the last bit before death is as observed appears to be quite painful. Fortuantely, having obtained the design of a Cabarrian nature, and having applied them to the missiles, all of them to be exact, this would formulate chaos in the most beautiful of aspects. Even now the rumblings of the Cabarrian governing body could be felt, reverbrations intoning blockade and what not. Let us see how the region reacts now to such eh? Kantra chuckled and authorized the launch with a nod of head, dooming Ishakor to it's fate along the length of territory kilometers away from the border.

 

The ripple effect took place, thunder and the great wooshing sound of each R-39 missile rocketing away from it's comfortable home. Flames spilling out along with smoke to caress the cold water surrounding the Thresher as it launched twenty stabbing talons at Ishakor, who more or less was probably unprepared for a ballistic missile strike.

 

 

For reference:

R-39 Missile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-39_missile

 

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Ishakor was waking up to a beautiful blue-sky morning when the fifteen ballistic missles struck her cities. Some hit the smaller cities of Jandahad and Mishrak, but eight struck the Ishakor capital of Adunagoth. Without warning, several blocks in each city were vaporized when the missiles struck with dazzling destructive force. Sirens and cries of the wounded wafted up from the rubble as the smoke from the felled buildings billowed into the clear morning air. The death toll was in the thousands, but unknown to them all, the worst was still yet to come, for over the major cities, the remaining five black-tipped missiles had exploded, delivering their cargo to the hundreds of thousands below.

 

The High Prelate of Ishakor looked across his stricken city with tears in his eyes and a crumpled piece of paper clutched tight in his fist. It contained his defense ministry extrapolation of where the ballistic missiles had originated based on their incoming trajectory and velocity. Circled on the map was a small fishing village in the southwest corner of Zharr.

 

?Those ? pigs ? will pay dearly for what they have done to my country.? He planned on sending his best troops, stationed here in this very city, into Zharr on a lightning raid deep in their territory. ?They wailed like babies over Gishanden, but I will make that appear as though it was merely a tea party.?

 

He smirked in paranoid glee. Vengeance would be even sweeter still. He thought lovingly of the hidden physics project whose scientists had been laboring silently for several years beneath the capital building. There were few who even knew of its existence, and fewer still who knew what its ultimate, frightening goal was. They had made progress, and the High Prelate would see their work put to good use.

 

?Bombers,? he intoned. ?I need bombers. I have quite a nice surprise of my own for Zharr.? Then he grinned. ?But first I have a nice little gift for that Zharr fishing village.?

 

---

 

Cabarrian Defence Secretary Gordon Blackwell looked over the intelligence reports and the map of Zharr and Ishakor illuminated on the giant projector screen. The sites of the missile attacks were flashing red stars, and the units of Zharr and Ishakor military were green dots scattered about the country.

 

He looked up at the icons representing the Cabarrian fleet. The carrier groups of the CSS Taramar and CSS Valoria were nearly in place along the western coast of Zharr, having been in the Amnalos Sea as a show of strength against the Suverinian naval buildup, and the CSS Risinion and CSS Armarion were taking up positions in the Ishakor Gulf. Unmarked on the map, but whose positions were committed to memory by Blackwell, were several of Cabarria?s submarines zipping about the coastline unnoticed by many.

 

?These missile attacks are just going to reinforce the King?s insistence on isolating these countries,? he murmured to his aides in the Defense Command Center. ?And it won?t be mush longer before we get the order to go in with ground forces. There?s only so much carnage we can stand by and watch happen.?

 

---

 

The kamikaze Ishakor pilot had been airborne for an hour and a half. He had family in Mishrak, family that he knew had been wiped out by the missile attack. Flashing on his Ops map was the fishing village in Zharr that had been extrapolated as the origin for the death missiles, and he had flown very low, below radar, to finally reach this place, the place where he would die.

 

?Burn in hell, you motherless beast-lovers,? he spat as he picked a spot in the small village to deliver his payload. He thought of the massive bomb sitting in his cargo bay that would most likely wipe out most of the village. Maybe it was overkill, but the High Prelate wanted to send a message, and the pilot had no qualms with being his Holy Instrument.

 

There wasn?t much to pick from, so the pilot chose an area by the docks, where he knew many would be awake and working. He put his small training fighter into a nosedive aimed straight at the dock district, and the planes engines shrieked in terror as if they realized what was to come of them.

 

The pilot thought of his family and said a silent prayer for them as the ground rushed up to meet him. His plane struck with terrible force, detonating the bomb in a great explosion in that small fishing village in Zharr.

 

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Defence Secretariat, Old Town, Puerto Naxos.

 

"Pom! Pom! Pom!"

 

- sh*t! sh*t! sh*t!- with their subsequent "Pom!" for every word on the desk, the fist of Chaves was closed and red by the strong plonks over the table. The official who broke the new of the missile bombing and kamikaze attack was watching terrified the reaction of the Army Commander-. f*cking fascists! And asshole Ishakorians! What are they doing? Stupid!

 

- My comrade, I?- Tried to interrupt the official.

 

- Shssst? Stop, even a single word- Chaves silenced the official with the right forefinger on his mouth-. No, no, no? I can not enjoy my holidays because of them! f*cking Bastards! We have to send another message. Sit down. Take your notebook and copy. Let?s start.

 

- For whom?- said the little official from his small chair.

 

- To the stupid of Ishakor? So, write now:

 

 

 

To: The Shining Prelacy of Ishakor.

From: Army Commander Chaves from the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Dear Comrades:

 

The purpose of this message is for requesting your nation to stop any massive attack against Zharr civilians and to abstain from using mass destruction weapons in this war. This Republic can not support any violence rise of this kind and we brought forward that if you continue with this ?game? the war will be lost and our Republic will not support the Revolution. Think in one thing, it is fundamental that Cabarria support our position, if you lose it you will lose the war, for this it is necessary that you don?t attack massively against civilians or don?t employ mass destruction weapons.

Resist and you will win.

 

We can provide you with defensive systems if you want, like the SM 300 for fix locations, one of the best anti-air (missiles and airplanes) systems. Also we could send one or two medium bombers. But one more time, stop with this rise.

 

We are looking forward for your reply.

 

Chaves, Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

- Copied, my comrade- The official took a little break for his hand.

 

- Another one, this time to Cabarria. Copy my comrade?

 

To: Kyle Durhanion, Prime minister of Cabarria.

From: Chaves, Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Dear Comrades:

 

As you can see and in compliance with what we told in previous messages, Zharr has fallen into madness. They are using mass destruction weapons that could unbalance the security of all Europa.

 

Also we have the suspicion of a Europa power is supporting the fascists of Zharr.

 

We write this message to you because we have to act to now to stop Zharr atrocities. We suggest a group and surgical action against Zharr.

 

The situation is serious and we will do as we can.

 

Regards.

 

Chaves, Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

- Copied, my Army Commander.

 

- "Bien!" Thanks my comrade official. Please, leave the room.

 

The official obeyed, almost running, and then the Army Commander took the phone, he dialled it and waited.

 

- Socialist greetings comrade Undersecretary. Urgent plans. We have to prepare the camouflaged fishing boats to Ishakor. We will send them an encoded and encrypted message for the unloading on the high seas to avoid any blockade. Yes. We have to load them with SM 300 fixed platforms, I think three launchers is a good number, Aspid and White Whale missiles. Yes. We will send four submarines for protection? And a last thing? We have to prepare one or two GB6 ?Quebrantahuesos?.

 

Chaves put down the phone and lean on his seat... He was waiting for any disgusting surprise.

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Prime Minister Kyle Durhanion read over the message from Red Iberic Workers in his exquisitely furbished office overlooking Kanamar. ?So,? he said to Defense Secretary Gordon Blackwell, ?it appears we are not the only one suspecting outside interference.?

 

?Don?t think Iberic Workers is above interference themselves,? Blackwell cautioned. ?Note the wording of the telegram. It?s almost as if they want us to pick sides and choose Ishakor over Zharr.?

 

?My instructions from the King are clear,? Durhanion replied. ?And the hour is set. We are going in, and we?re disarming both sides, not just Zharr.?

 

TO: Red Iberic Workers and other nations of Europa

FROM: Cabarria

 

The recent violence has proven to us that Cabarria can no longer stand by and watch our neighbors deteriorate into anarchy. Repeated diplomatic efforts have failed, leaving us with only one solution. By the time you read this, we will have sent in our advance armor units into northern Zharr in an attempt to disarm both sides of this conflict. The suspicions of Red Iberic Workers and the recent missile attacks, which we believe Zharr was not capable of on its own, reinforce our belief that a continued blockade of both nations is imperative to forestall any potential arms shipments into either nation.

 

We hope that in the interests of peace, you will support us in our efforts to disarm these combatants and bring peace back to the region.

 

TO: Ishakor and Zharr

FROM: Cabarria

 

This recent violence can not be allowed to continue in the interests of peace. Due to your repeated refusals to solve this conflict under peaceful means, we have no choice but to take another course of action. By the time you read this, we will have sent advance armor units into northern Zharr to secure the peace and disarm both sides. Our forces will undertake any means necessary to restore order to this region, and we hope your cooperation will be swift and judicious.

 

---

 

The moon shone bright as General Arthorod checked his watch in the dead of night. He sat in an AFV on the edge of the Zharr border. He knew the designated hour ? King Brandheld had ordered him personally to undertake this mission. At last the time had arrived.

 

He picked up the radio handset and activated the secure transmitter. ?All units, all regiments, move across the border into Zharr territory. All protocols and ROEs in effect under Operation: Stringent Warrior.?

 

With those words, the Cabarrian tanks and missile batteries rumbled to life and started their trek across the borderlands. Thousands upon thousands of massed Cabarrian infantry began streaming in columns across the border. Arthorod grew nervous. He hoped the two nations would peacefully disarm, but somehow, he doubted it would be that easy.

 

---

 

The High Prelate of Ishakor coughed, becoming increasingly annoyed with how often he was having to do so. He turned back to the telegram he had just received from Red Iberic Workers. ?They are right,? he murmured. Extreme violence would inflame Europa?s opinion against Ishakor, and his ultimate goal was victory over the Zharr scum-bags. He thought of the Adunagoth Strike Force that had left this city only hours ago and was being parachuted into the heart of Zharr. He would instruct them to be judicious in their use of force. In addition, he would hold off on setting his little ?physics experiment? loose. Maybe RIW was right, and they could attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. He scowled. ?On the other hand??

 

He read over Cabarria?s telegram. They wanted to end the war as a stalemate, to take away the guns of both nations. How could Ishakor come to a victory under such conditions? He would offer no reply to Cabarria, and thought quickly of a reply to Iberic Workers.

 

TO: Red Iberic Workers

FROM: Ishakor

 

By now, you must know of Cabarria?s plans to disarm both sides in this conflict, not merely Zharr. You must know that if we are to prevail over the fascist state of Zharr, we cannot allow this to happen. Your offer of military aid shows us that you recognize this as well. If you can slip by the Cabarrian blockade, we would welcome such aid, so that we may continue this fight against Zharr and, if need be, Cabarria, so that we may retain the means for our victory.

 

---

 

General Mardu read the missive from Cabarria and exhaled. ?Gods, Cabarria is getting involved. This was not a scenario I wished to see.? He wiped sweat from his brow. The Maximum Commander had been pleased with the results of the missile attack, but Mardu was loath to tell him this new piece of information. Perhaps if they agreed to disarm, Cabarria might align with Zharr against a defiant Ishakor. Or perhaps they should resist disarmament themselves. He shook his head. Perhaps he should first seek the advice of another source. Yes, that was it. He picked up the phone and dialed the secure line given to him by Kantra.

 

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The village had paid a terrible price. In flames and otherwise rubble of homes, docks and ships had suffered extreme retaliation for the missile strike. They had even managed to hit the sheltered dock, wrecking it considerably. The Thresher could not dock with it, but that was of little consequence. There was a backup.

 

A small cove was just to the east, and had become the unofficial embassy. Tagnik Zun sailors were stationed out of sight, ready to set sail or defend the site from incursion. In the secure area, the line rang twice before Kantra plucked it up. His intelligence sources had confirmed what the Zharrian general spoke of. There is only a few ways to stop this. One is to align with Cabarria, though this would mean an end to your provisional indepedence. Another, while perhaps costly to an extent is to align with us openly. Finally, a third is the option of attempting to frame Ishakor for a weapon of mass destruction going off in Cabarria. This could divert attention for a time from you and thus allowing you to build defenses and herd your civillians further south over the hills. I have contacted home and as of yet the Storm sea is reasonably safe for cargo vessels flying the Tagmatium flag. Of which we've..ahem..borrowed to navigate about Beautancus. The four, first of hopefully many shall arrive in three days time. If you go with the second option, we will claim Zharr as an independent protectorate state of the Principality. Free to govern yourselves, though with a tithing of support made to the Empress. This is up to you.

 

A pause of time between that long speech, allowing his throat to be wetted once more before continuing.I leave you to the decision General. Whichever you pursue, know that the Haruspex shall always consider Zharr a friend and ally.

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At some point of the Byzantium Sea

 

Sergeant Montesinos was inside the bridge of the ?Santa Mar?a?, a big freezer-fishing boat. The crew of the ship was, obviously, consisted of officials from the Republican Guard Intelligence Agency and some Pirates for providing security to the boat. He had been arguing with the Republican Guards all afternoon, as a good Pirate he was, but now the night was fresh and the moon was full in a white colour that was illuminating the waves with yellow tonalities of the Byzantinum Sea in the dark skyline. So, Montesinos go out the bridge and he lighted a cigarette, contemplating the dark blue landscape and the full moon, then he started to think about his mission in this ship.

 

He looked at two shapes covered by grey canvas where some guns were hidden but few more defence. The important defensive point of the ship was in the camouflage, all people there, all the crew pretended to be iberic fishers that going for fishing in the Sun Ocean. All had to wear dark fisher caps and civilian clothes. The surprise was in the cold store of the ?Santa Mar?a?. It put up four SA-IX missiles, ten ?white whale? missiles, twenty Aspid fixed launchers, one CASA Roja 9-S-N radar and one CASA Roja 30-S-N for deploying a fixed SM 300 anti air system. When circumstances demanded it, the ship could deploy its two big nets in both sides of it for a better cunning. It was prepared for the ?Santa Mar?a? to have a meeting in the High Seas of the Sun Ocean where an Ishakor submarine or ship would pick up the cargo when an encoded and encrypted message was sent to Ishakor establishing the meeting point.

 

He knew that more ships like this were sailing to the Sun Ocean with a very similar cargo. Maybe three or four more and all based in the same cargo, the importance of the SM 300 fixed anti-air systems and some missiles for attacking Zharr objectives. He also knew that four ?Raya? Class submarines were a step ahead, between them it was the ?Galagrad?, too far surely, securing the way of the ?Santa Maria? and other ships. A radio set would warn for anything that could be dangerous.

 

Montesinos threw smoke to the open air when a bell sounded, the communal meal was on the table but they would wait some minutes more contemplating that precious night and the full moon.

 

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

 

State Dacha of the Army Commander, Calella, People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers

 

Chaves had received a night call from the Undersecretary of Defence while he was in his ?dacha? in the Brave Coast: "The plan has started, we have sent four ships with SM 300 air defence systems and other offensive missiles cargo. What must we do with the GB 6 bombers?" and Chaves said: "Wait with the bombers, inform me about any new. Thanks comrade." And he put down the phone.

 

The call had kept awake Chaves. He woke up at the daybreak, without disturbing his wife. "Obviously I won?t have holidays". He went to his desk in the first floor of the state residence and he took the Ishakor Message, reading again carefully. He sat down with a deep sigh and studied a reply. With the sound of the near Byzantium Sea he cleared his mind and in few seconds he started to scribble in the sheets.

 

To: the Shining Prelacy of Ishakor.

From: Army Commander Chaves, from the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Dear Comrades:

 

We are sending to your country defence devices for stopping any Zhar attack by air, missiles or airplanes, also we are sending to you attack missiles. The meeting point will be set by an encoded and encrypted message. But you have to remember we will cut the support if we have notice of any indiscriminate attack against civilians.

 

About the intention of Cabarria for disarming you, I think it will be impossible given the circumstances, with Zharr falling into madness. We will write to them and we will try to negotiate because all we know who started the war and who launched the missiles.

 

At this point and answering your request about the possibility of a war against Cabarria we have to tell you that we have another plan. Cabarria is the key of this war so we can not fight against them. Cabarria has to understand that Zharr is the real danger and his strange ally so you have to put nearer them, then the war will be wined.

 

But our support, and this is the best opportunity to tell you, is not free. We have thought about the possibility that your nation founds a Federation with Cabarria. Of course you would have independence in domestic affairs and some representative in the Foreign Affairs. From the new ?Federation? you will have to implement a plan in your nation for accelerating collectivization in your nation. Of course, we will send political commissioners to support in all. But you have to pick the note, put nearer Cabarria and propose them a Federation with freedom in your domestic affairs, for fighting against Zharr.       

 

We are looking after for your reply.

 

Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers, Chaves.

 

After finishing of the message to Ishakor, Chaves took the message from Cabarria. The Army Commander thought that Cabarria was getting wrong. It was sure that Zharr was receiving mass destruction weapons from another nation, and all evidences said that tha Haru were behind it, so this was a step beyond in this war. Ishakor, on the other hand, had not employed mass destruction weapons... Which nation was the real danger? Zharr. He started to scribble again.

 

To: Kyle Durhanion, Prime Minister of Cabarria.

From: Army Commander of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers, Chaves.

 

Dear Comrades of Cabarria:

 

We have attempted all for stopping this war but you have to know at this point that is impossible now for disarming these two nations, Zharr and Ishakor.

 

We think that Cabarria believes there are no differences between Zharr and Ishakor, with all our respect, we think that you are wrong. Who started with mass destruction weapons? It is a very easy answer, Zharr. Remember that using mass destruction weapons could be dangerous not only for Ishakor, also for Cabarria.

 

But Ishakor on the other hand has not employed any mass destruction weapon against you or Zharr and I think they won?t use them so you have to value this fact. If you have to disarm, do it with Zharr because they are the real menace and as you know they have a suspicious ally. We propose you for ascertain who is the ally, although we think the Haru were behind them. Ishakor is only exercising his self-defence rights.

 

In any case, we think it will be very difficult to disarm Zharr and we don?t advise that action.

 

Also it is possible that Ishakor starts an approximation movement to your nation. 

 

Regards.

 

Army Commander Chaves from the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Chaves stopped to write, he was really tired. He noticed a strange presence? He turned his face and he saw his wife waiting him in the threshold of the door of the small office with folding one?s arms and with a very bad-tempered face.

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The Maximum Commander of Zharr contemplated his options laid out for him by the Haruspex envoy. The message had been relayed to him by a special courier from the fishing village, Kaladna, where the Haru sub sat just east. General Mardu was deferring to him in this matter, as well he should, as it concerned decisions of utmost importance.

 

"The Haru cannot honestly belive Zharr would give up its sovereignty to either Machina Haruspex or Cabarria," the Maximum Commander intoned as he sipped on fine wine in his plush office in Rok Klai, the capital city of Zharr. "And I do find it humorous that in one breath they would urge us to join with Cabarria and in another urge us to draw their blood."

 

He frowned. "We cannot join with any other nation, cannot be absorbed like Kantra suggests. No, but I also fear shaking the cage of the Cabarrian lion. I have already ordered our troops to submit to the Cabarrians and to not open fire on them. But ..." he shook his head. "... Perhaps I have no choice but to rattle the cage. They are already in our territory, and have already taken a few of our units captive, so Haruspex had better make it look good." A shiver went through him as he paged his communications attache. "Tell Haruspex we'll accept their offer, if only they can be damn sure that it looks like the work of Ishakor." He shrugged. "Doesn't matter anyway, since Ishakor will start dying off soon anyway."

 

---

 

The High Prelate of Ishakor was feeling an odd tightness in his chest and a tingling in his extremities. It had been going on for nearly an hour, but he chalked up to fatigue, as he had been awake contemplating strategy for the last several hours. The Adunagath Strike Force, ready to strike at any notice, was insinuating itself into Rok Klai, their landing apparently successful. "Red Iberic Workers make good points." He scratched his chin in thought. "Cabarria could indeed prove a valuable ally. I am unsure of this 'Federation' that Chaves proposes, but ... perhaps we could indeed signal an intention of cooperation. With RIW's support, and the possibility of Cabarrian aid,we need not fear the Zharr war machine which we have nearly on the run anyway." He began to compose a telegram and wiped his brow, beading with sweat.

 

TO: Cabarria

FROM: Ishakor

 

We agree that this war is unneccasry and detrimental to the stability of the region. To this end we agree to cooperate with you by whatever means necessary to end this conflict, up to and including a potential disarmament, subject to certain conditions of course.

 

---

 

Kyle Durhanion read the missives from Ishakor and Red Iberic Workers. "This is the best news I've read in a while," he told Defence Secretary Gordon Blackwell. "Ishakor seems willing to work with us and disarm, and we already have captured and disarmed several Zharr units without incident. Zharr looks close to capitulation as well."

 

"The blockade units are in place as well," Blackwell reported. "I believe we can stop anything coming into either country."

 

"Make sure that you do," Durhanion nodded. "Shipments from any country in Europa must be considered suspect until this crisis has fully passed. We can't allow this bit of good luck to go to waste."

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It had happened a day ago. Resupply from another submarine, the converted hauler Greyback. Missiles, some troops, and a cache of weapons and what not. Most of it was electronic jamming equipment to keep unwanted listeners out of the area. Kantra observed the crane hoisting the rocket upwards and then with the sailors aid, bringing it down and into the slotted tube on the Thresher.

 

These were slightly larger then the R-39M Ballastic's that had previously been fired. Bulava (SS-NX-30) class missiles. For use against surface warships and the like. Completely conventional with a 250 kT warheadm though the Haruspex did have the far more powerful nuclear devices. The Prata-Khan captain had identified a hole in the blockade, and their target was a ship of close proximity to the Ishakor coastline. It was a support vessel, which meant a higher number of crew.

 

The Greyback's cargo otherwise was loaded onto 6x6 trucks of Zharrian make and transported wherever the council of generals deemed it necessary to go. Kantra saluted the sub base security commander and then boarded alongst with the other officers. As the sun set, the HIN Thresher descended into the black of the ocean, going deep as it could and heading in the direction of it's target.

 

The Beluva missile to be used had already been painted with the Ishakor military banner. False serial numbers and the like, at least false to the inventory clerk in Ishakor who would be tasked with finding it. The support vessel as intelligence had learned, was a hospital vessel. More fuel to the fire, as generally in times of war, medical ships were a rather large no-no. Cabarrian citizens and military would cry for blood at the attack. The blame easily found against Ishakor. As the Bulava was a fairly common anti-ship missile, one just had to be prosperous enough to afford it. Even a small cache of them could turn shipping lanes into a killing field.

 

As the bridge was bathed in the ominous red light of the tactical alert, the bridge crew began to enact the catapillar drive on the submarine. One of only a few vessels to have the truely silent drive. This Project 941 Typhoon class submarine moved with a predatory grace. It's reflective hull refrected the sonar imagining technology of many nations and did not appear on scopes or screens. If it was picked up, it was dismissed as a whale or some such biologic swimming beneathe the waves. How long until target? Kantra spoke towards the navigator as they proceeded. Five hours Sir.

 

He made a nod of head as acknowledgement and then simply stood out of the way, watching the crew. The pride of the Haruspex Navy at work. " Five hours Ishakor, just five hours until you are blamed for the deaths of innocent Cabarrians." His thoughts gave way to the plan at hand.

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Too late, Ishakor realized it was dying. The airbursts of the Haruspex missiles were paying off as hundreds of thousands of Ishakor lay dying in the streets, gasping and wheezing for air, their mouths flecked with blood as they collapsed under the midday sun. In every major city in Ishakor, it was the same. Panicked mobs were fleeing the population centers, not knowing if they themselves were infected with the scourge from above.

 

The High Prelate lay prostrate on his bed, surrounded by machines assisting his breathing as his personal doctors scurried around him. He gazed with effort at the ceiling, and a tear ran down his face as he contemplated the fate of his people. ?Zharr ?? he whispered. ?What have you done to us?? There was an odd communication blackout from Red Iberic Workers, and he felt cut off and isolated, as he doubted that even Cabarria could help him now. He thought of the ?physics experiment? that lay several stories below, and his lips curled into a grimace of pain and joy around the breathing tube. ?Bombers,? he said to an aide, tears flowing freely now. ?I need bombers.?

 

---

 

Captain Jakra Yosun, leader of the Adunagoth Strike Force, stumbled into the rail station at Rok Klai. He had tried to carry out the plan flawlessly, and had landed with his men in the countryside and made their way secretly into Zharr?s capital a few days ago. They were to strike suddenly from the shadows and demoralize Zharr in their heartland, and all had seemed to be going to plan until they started to become sick. Captain Yosun, as he progressed deeper and deeper into disease, had watched the news in disbelief as the same ailment struck his countrymen back in Ishakor with terrible force. Most of his men were just as sick as he was, but he was determined to carry out the mission, even if it were to be his last.

 

The rail station was packed with thousands of clueless Zharr busily going about their routine as if there was no war going on at all. Their ignorant bliss angered Captain Yosun, dressed in casual civilian clothes, even more, and he signaled to his men, coughing and weaving but still obedient, that the hour approached. He knew that in several other crowded places around the city, he had other teams carrying out this same mission, all just as dedicated as he was, and this thought filled him with pride as he withdrew a subautomatic machine gun from his trench coat and with a yell, began spraying the crowd with gunfire. Shouts of panic went up immediately, but Yosun stopped firing mid-yell, choking on his own spittle and collapsing in a heap on top of several terrified Zharr. With several violent coughs that spewed respiratory particles into the air, Captain Yosun died.

 

---

 

General Thelja Mardu watched with horror the news reports coming across his desk. The gory details of the Red Plague began to turn his stomach as he flipped through photograph after photograph of Ishakor fatalities. ?What ? what have we unleashed??

 

When the report came in telling of Ishakor attacks in populated areas of Rok Klai by individuals who were clearly infected, he was nearly apoplectic with rage and fear. The Maximum Commander would surely have his head for this blunder. The Red Plague was here, in Zharr!

 

He dialed the Haruspex secure line and screamed into the phone, ?What is the meaning of this?! We never thought this would hit us here in Zharr! You should have been more careful with this blasted bug of yours! And for God?s sake, don?t do anything else that will compromise us!?

 

---

 

King Brandheld IV, Kyle Durhanion, and Gordon Blackwell watched aghast at the pictures coming out of Ishakor. The carnage was sickening, and like nothing none of them had ever seen before. Valerie Dussan wiped a tear away from her eye as the King murmured, ?If we had gone in sooner ?. Could we have stopped this??

 

?I doubt it, my liege,? Blackwell responded quietly. ?We went in as soon as we were capable militarily, and if we had gone in sooner, it might have been Cabarrian units that were infected as well.?

 

?Tell our men to avoid any close contact with Ishakor units,? the King replied. ?If any Cabarrian soldier shows any sign of infection, have him quarantined immediately. Keep those units that might have been exposed in the field at the front, where we can keep them in quarantine if need be.?

 

Durhanion scowled. ?Red Iberic Workers may have been right. I don?t know why they suspect the Haru, but I can be fairly certain that Zharr would be incapable of developing such an agent on her own.?

 

?There is the possibility of refugees from Ishakor coming across the border,? Blackwell grunted. ?What would you advise we do??

 

The King sighed. ?Send our bioweapons squad to set up camps outside of our border. But under no circumstances are any to be allowed inside Cabarria. Harden our border further, and ? shoot anyone who tries to cross.? He shook his head. ?If Machina Haruspex is responsible for this ? I don?t know. But at this point, I don?t trust anyone.?

 

---

 

TO: Machina Haruspex

FROM: Cabarria

 

It pains us greatly to see the recent biological devastation in Ishakor, no doubt unleashed by the recent Zharr missile attack. It is doubtful to us, however, that Zharr is capable of developing bioweapons on her own ? we believe her military was not sufficiently advanced enough to carry out such a program in secret.

 

We should also inform you that the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers have recently shared their concerns of a shadow ally of Zharr, and have let their suspicions be known that they believe you to be that ally. We do not know how Red Iberic Workers may have come to this conclusion, but we sincerely hope it is not true, especially as you seem to be embroiled in some trouble of your own with Beautancus and Tagmatium. Let us take this opportunity to remind you that any vessel, no matter what the nation of origin, that attempts to enter the waters of Ishakor or Zharr will not be permitted to land or make transfers without our supervision, and may be fired upon if need be. We know that you are committed to peace in the region, and look forward to your cooperation.

 

---

 

The Cabarrian naval blockade was in full force and at high alert after the Ishakor civilians began to die from the horrific plague. One or two small ships might have slipped through before the noose tightened, but over the last day and a half, their ships became as a net around the two countries, and any vessel, no matter what flag they flew, was being stopped and searched. The hospital ship CSS Balion steamed merrily through the waters, unaware that it was at the moment being targeted ?

 

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At the subbase, evacuation was already underway. The combat NBC suits that the Tagnik Zun wore, was perfect for this enviroment and of course the Haruspex had developed a cure. That they would not give it, nor hinted they even had it, was to be the more insidious portion of their plan. A vessel from home was due, held at the blockade for inspection. It was a Haruspex Medical frigate, once checked out by the Cabarrians, it would head towards a public port.

 

The wake provided by the vessel however would be enough for the HIN Greyback to slide beneathe and out. Files had been deleted, paperwork burned and commuted to the sea. As the plague set in, the phone line, which in truth was bouncing off of a SATCOM system, was plucked up by a deck officer on the medical frigate. I apologize General, My Lord Kantra is not available at the moment, but has sent a medical frigate to be of assistance in your time of need. We will make sure that the government's troops and officials are given the antidote so further spread of infection is stopped.

 

The call was dropped then as the frigate, a converted medical vessel from the design of a Sharr class medium cruiser sat patiently, with full flags and so forth out proclaiming it to be just what it appeared. Sailors stood at the ready, most in the NBC suits, without masks for the moment. The antidote for the plague derived from an opiate, it would over time dull the mind and weaken the populace allowing for the slithering tongues of Haru envoys to turn Zharr more towards their favor. Evil in all it's forms, the price of dealing with the Devil's advocates.

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Naxos Castle, Naxos Port, People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Chaves was watching from this position, in the highest floor of the Castle, to the massive and spontaneous gathering that was crowding together near the state of the Guide Revolution. People carried big banners, Ishakor flags, others carried, in a long stick, strange spited puppets. Some people left the sticks with the puppets in the ground, others left Zharr flags near, in the ground and finally one person started to burn the puppets and the Zharr flags while others started to throw stones to the burning objects, others started to walk over the Zharr flags. The mass was frenzied and soon started to sing something. "Obviously, the puppets are representation of Zharrian" thought Chaves. " Death? To ?. Fascism? Death? To? Fascism? Death? To? Imperialism? You? Are? The? Terrorists!" The chant was louder and louder. A woman approached to the window, Rose contemplated the scene.

 

- ?Police? ?We have sent police?- Asked Chaves.

 

- No, let them? I would do the same. Damned Zharr! Mass destruction weapons to civilians! Sometimes I understand the revenge, this frenzy, when you see your children die we can not ask to the victim not to take revenge. But Ishakor has to resist and if we capture the perpetrators the revenge will be keep, sure.

 

- Do we send a message to them?

 

- Yes, let?s start.

 

Both left the position near the window and they directed to an official room. Here there were, in front of a big mahogany table, the General Secretaries of all the areas in the Government and some officials.

 

- Comrades, we have prepared two messages- Said Chaves. They sat down on the chairs, Rose occupied the to of the table.

 

- Could you read them, my comrade?- asked Miguel Perdido the Foreign Affairs Secretary.

 

To: Ishakor.

From: The People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Dear Comrades:

 

Resist! It is the only thing we can tell to you, the workers of our Republic are supporting you.

 

After seeing the atrocities committed by the Zharrians we will send you three loaded bombers to use against the Army of Zharr. The bombers have to be used from long distance, is the better position, and we will load with Kraken and Quebrantahuesos missiles.

 

Remember, don?t turn into fascist Zharrians attitude and you will win. There will be time for revenge after.

 

Also, we have already sent several cargos with anti-air missiles (three fixed launchers SM 300) and attack missiles. Also Cabarria is approaching to our position. So resist!

When the infection disappears we will send forces to your lands.

Even onward to victory!

 

Army Commander Chaves.

 

- Furthermore, we have prepared another message to Cabarria- said the General Secretary-. Please, my comrade, read it.

 

To: Kyle Durhanion, Prime Minister of Cabarria.

From: Rose Amoros, General Secretary of the People?s Republic of Red Iberic Workers.

 

Dear Comrade:

 

As you have seen Zharr have employed dangerous biological weapons. Weapons that could be dangerous to the entire region.

 

When the peace was near, when Ishakor had accepted to approach to your position and horrible attack have shake the area. Fascism is behind it.

 

So, for us and I hope that for you too, the question is to stop Zharr, we have to capture the criminals and they have to be judged according to the International Laws and including charges like genocide and war crimes. There is no question already over the position of Ishakor in this war, the people and lands of Ishakor are dying and we, both, have to defend them. We have to stop this genocide now.

 

We hope you act accordingly. We hope you act with us.

 

Regards.

 

Rose Amoros.

 

 

- What are the details of the operation that we are deploying?- asked the Foreign Affairs Secretary.

 

- We will send three GB-6 bombers, the crew will be wear NBC suits and when they return, they will pass a quarantine period. The airplanes will be sent today, at night. Also we have sent a week ago, four submarines and several camouflaged freezer fishing boats, with ballistic systems. They will send and encoded and encrypted message to Ishakor, establishing a point of meeting- answered Army Commander Chaves.

 

- And when situation with that biological will be clarified we will send forces to the area, maybe for peace or maybe for fighting against fascism- concluded Rose Amoros.

 

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

 

At some point of the Konstantinopoll Sea. Night.

 

Sergeant Montesinos was lied down in a hammock, on the deck, contemplating the night with his dilated pupils. He saw the sky in a changing colour from black to dark and Prussian blue. He watched something in the air, far. He watched his clock. "One minute" The flying object was approaching. " Another minute? No, only seconds? Only seconds have passed." The flying object was increasing his size while it was approaching to the ship. " Only seconds have passed?" Suddenly the object was revealed. A big red dragon made a low level flight over the sea and near the ship, but Montesinos didn?t react to it. "One minute?" He watched the clock again and we returned the glance to the air the dragon had disappeared. " The moon is yellow, with little black specks? The sky is turning into pink? I have not seen this before? The dragon has marched and I control myself."

 

- Wake up! f*cking junkie!- A official from the Republican Guard shook him- The captain want you in the bridge.

 

- f*cking Head Like a Hole! What will you know about freedom? I control myself and nothing can harm me! I will go because I want?

 

He directed to the bridge where the captain and other officials were preparing something with a strange device.

 

- Montesinos? Give me the key, please?

 

- The key, okay, okay?- He touched his neck and he found, with some clumsiness, a necklace with a little key, he offered it to the captain-. Take it, captain.

 

Captain launched a contempt glance to Montesinos but he had to do things more important than disapproving someone now. The device started to make lights, with light columns. Montesinos had to held himself back, because from the machine was rising arms and legs, a cold sweat flowed from his forehead. "Lisergic, Lethargic?"

 

Pee ? Pee ? Peen ? Peek ? Zeek ? Zeek ? Zeek And more scratch sounds emerged from the device.

 

- The meeting point has been set and sent to Ishakor. Submarines have not revealed any hostile presence- Said the Captain to a recorder-. The operation is going without any problem for now. Finish recording.

 

Montesinos got out the bridge, running, he lied down on the deck. "I control myself" thought.

 

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

 

Almeria Airport, Night.

 

The motors thundered in the air. A big red star was in the tail and it was illuminated by the lights of the airport. The ?Quebrantahuesos? was loaded with Kraken and Quebrantahuesos missiles. Another two airplanes had been taken off. They will take a pre-fixed route. They would enter Ishakor by the south, near the lands of the ancient nation of Dragonryders.

 

The missiles had an expression. "Even onward to Victory, Death to Fascism."

 

 

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