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In Amongst the Enemy


Fulgistan

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Ogodei Forward Base, Kunduz Province, Southwest Fulgistan. July 10, 0900.

The war had been on for decades. Well, the "war" had. Although the twin provinces of Takhar and Kunduz had been infested with jihadis and bandits for nearly two generations, the central government had long been content to post a token force from the Revolutionary Guard and pocket the rest of the tax money that supposedly went to the liberation effort. Until now, that is. In the past 5 years, the Revolutionary Guard had begun undergoing the most sweeping military and organizational reforms since the 1970s, when Tunyaz took back half the country from bandits much like these. However, Ogodei was still a sh*t posting, and it was one that Colonel Weixian Mansarjav found himself, regrettably, in command of. He was quite sure he'd done something to piss off some senior Party member or other; why else would he, an otherwise perfectly competent officer with a strong service record, be sent out here, to put a few holes in malnourished mujahideen and sweat in the mosquito-infested savanna?  In any case, it was at Ogodei FB that he found himself, and he was determined to turn this place around. For starters, he'd made sure the fighting men and women of his best battalion were in top shape for today's arrival; they were due to receive some foreign help, and this time, not just in the form of @Mauridiviahn food crates.

In the assembled ranks, Corporal Enkhbat was mystified." @Valacia? Where the f*ck is that, even?" 

"You should have paid attention in school," muttered Sergeant Hedayat. "Supposedly, they're good. Some real counterinsurgency chops, so they say."

Fifth Battalion had been the best performer over the past few months, which won them the right to take a day off the saddle and on the tarmac, trying not to lock their knees and faint in the rapidly rising morning sun. This was a strange thing for the Guard; although they were working with the @Prymontians in the Former Hellenic Rus, it was a rare occurrence indeed for foreign troops to be invited to fight on Fulgistani home soil. Either the situation was really desperate (which it was, in a way) or there was a big push coming (which, if the rumors were true, there was indeed). Patrols and flyovers had been ramping up over the past few months; Ogodei was no longer the lazy (if uncomfortable) posting it had been previously. Hell, if reports were to be believed, there were two more regiments on the way to the base.

The first of the Valacian trucks pulled in through the checkpoint, followed by the rest of the (really quite sizable) convoy. As the troops and assorted personnel disembarked, a few stepped forward, to the colonel. Clearly officers, the two sides exchanged smart salutes. Doing his best to appear refined but stern in front of the foreigners, Colonel Mansarjav barked an "At ease." While Fifth Battalion breathed a sigh of relief, he turned his attention to the Valacians. "English? I'm not familiar with your language." At least one of the men nodded.

"Good. Accommodations have been prepared for you and your men at the east end of the barracks row. We'll try and provide you with hookups for electricity, fuel, and whatever ammunition you haven't brought yourselves. The 16th Worker's Rifles and the 22nd Nomad Cavalry should be arriving by 0800 tomorrow; I'll make sure to get you all introduced. IN the meantime, do your best to get settled in and let me or one of my subordinates know if there's anything you need. Welcome to Ogodei, gentlemen. We're glad to have you." 

The_Mongolian_Expeditionary_Task_Force_1

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Almas had always secretly disliked the Xuanwu Palatial Complex, where the Central Committee held their meetings. The architecture was a nauseating mix of the original Classical Fulgiyani open pavilions and tiled roofs, the old Derthaler and Ostporter palace wards, and the hastily-built Iberian-style buildings that were added almost immediately after the revolution. He entered the main building, flanked by Tekin and Choinom. The factionalism was a little glaring, but he needed some strong support in this meeting; there'd been a lot going on in the past few months.

The General Secretary's distaste for the outside of the complex was nothing when compared to his, and indeed most people's, feelings on the actual meeting room of the Central Committee. Designed by one of the short-lived successors to Tunyaz in the eighties, it managed to reek of tack nearly 40 years later. Red jade columns circuited the room in an oval, crowned at both ends by brass rings and towering over a landscape of mossy green shag carpet. Good god, who thought that had been a good idea? But of course, the towering monument to vapid tastelessness hung on wires from the ceiling; a large, rotating model of the national seal, in actual gold and vermillion. This was beyond tacky; it was an assault on the senses. Seeing that the other committee members had already taken their seats (and had no doubt been up to their usual chatter) Almas and his cadre sat down as well.

"As General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Worker's Republic of Fulgistan, I now call this meeting to order. Those who wish may now speak."

Immediately, the hardliners began squawking like a flock of perturbed poultry. Tekin and Choinom retorted back, not really in response but more to counteract the noise. Eventually, the committee members gave Secretary for Foreign Affairs TianHan a chance to make his point.

"Comrade Almas, what is the meaning of this? @Valacian troops on Fulgistani soil? And @Seylosian forces on the way? Just what are your intentions? Comrade Choinom, how can you allow such a thing to taint the honor of the Guard?"

Almas began to speak, but Choinom stepped in to rescue him.

"The Seylosians and Valacians are our friends and valuable allies; with their help, Kunduz and Takhar will be fully liberated by mid-Autumn. Moreover, in a changing world it is important that the Revolutionary Guard be prepared to work in tandem with friendly foreign forces to combat growing international threats.

"International threats like the roads in the Hellenic Rus? Is that why we're sending Fulgistani sons and daughters to dig around in the snow for @Prymont? We are groveling at the feet of the capitalists and none of you seem concerned by it!"

That had been Secretary for Internal Information Youhuan, a woman who always knew when and how to strike, like a viper. Almas held up his hand defensively.

"The Guard are doing meaningful, important humanitarian work in the Former Hellenic Rus, as are the brave reporters of Radio Free Eurth. Fulgistan is showing the world that we are a force for freedom and democracy."

"Are you so entranced by the class enemies that you must now steal their rhetoric as well? That sentence could have come straight from the mouth of Julian Nordeng and I would not have found it surprising."

"When you let the imperialists walk in Takhar and Kunduz, what will they find? The Argics will only use this as an excuse to dismiss us as backwards primitives!"

Secretary Choinom stood abruptly, his fist connecting with the table in a percussive fashion.

"Have you read the reports? Have any of you? Scores of people suffering from preventable diseases, malnutrition rampant, birth defects in the twentieth percentile. Children with leprosy, leprosy! In the twenty-first century! In a nation of doctors and scientists! The conditions that we, yes, we have allowed to persist in the disputed provinces are nothing short of a disgrace."

At last, Tekin made his move. Like Youhuan, he could read a crowd and identify the tipping point.

"The Fulgistani people have always been those of the world; it is vital to identify sympathetic nations with whom we can cooperate for mutual benefit. Regardless of governance, our devotion to the common people and to the workers of the world must remain unwavering; by liberating Kunduz and Takhar we bring some 5 million unfortunates into the light and towards a better tomorrow. Such is the reason for the joint operations."

Almas saw no gain in continuing any further, and he suspected the hardliners felt similarly.

"I move to adjourn."

"Seconded."

The hands went up.

"Carried unanimously. This meeting of the Central Committee of the Worker's Republic of Fulgistan is hereby adjourned. Think about what's been said, everyone."

All but Tekin and Choinom left the room in short order. Almas sighed and sunk back into his (admittedly, well-padded) chair.

"Whatever am I going to do with the lot of them?"

"Well, you could always have them shot. Tunyaz and Bozaan would have liked that."

"That's the problem; I'm not those men, and I don't aim to be."

"Careful, now, those are dangerous words in this room"

"Bayanchur, I've spent five long years trying to work with these stubborn bastards and they won't give me an inch. The only way that compromise happens, and I do mean the only way, is if we can secure the disputed provinces. If this operation fails, it'll be curtains for the lot of us."

"We're behind you, Comrade. Don't get so worried, lah. Myself, young Comrade Tekin and the Guard are at your back all the way."

"If you say so, Jinhuang. Thank you."

Almas stood; though the meeting had only lasted a half-hour, it had left him drained.

"Get some rest, comrades. It's going to be a rough few months."

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For the past few days the HMS Defiant and her accompanying escorts had been on course to the Fulgistani city of Wulumuqi. They had rendezvoused with a smaller group of ships, mainly cargo vessels, containing supplies bound for both the front lines and as aid resources for the population displaced by the fighting in southwestern @Fulgistan. The Defiant has been pulled off of anti-piracy duties to contribute its aircraft to Fulgistan's upcoming push into the rebel held territories, as well as to deliver a compliment of marines to protect the aid workers that would be sent in, and a several special forces teams to be sent in for reconnaissance and surgical strike missions.

Of course once these were delivered, the Defiant and some of its escorts would turn around and make way back to Norfolk in Seylos as the carrier would no longer be needed until much later to retrieve the twenty Harrier aircraft and personnel it had left behind. However two ships would remain off the coast of Wulumuqi in order to provide long range support if needed, the guided missile cruisers Archangel and Superior. The ships had just the range necessary for missile strikes guided in by their special forces teams on the ground if necessary. Seylos's involvement would mainly extended to aerial and recon support and the Royal Marines had no intention, at least for the moment, to move their small compliment to fight on the front lines.

Onboard the cruiser HMS Archangel, Captain Darragh Walsh was in command of the entire mission to Fulgistan, including the Seylosion ground forces and aid personnel that were involved. Standing on the bridge he took a moment to gaze out at the approaching city coast, then turned around and made his way to the communications officer in the back, "Ensign signal the harbourmaster in the port at Wulumuqi that we will be arriving on schedule and will be needing both our cargo ships to be docked immediately. Then do your best to get our Fulgistani military contact on call, we've been having trouble getting a meeting longer than a few minutes with them, I want to make sure this is all coordinated smoothly."

The ensign looked up and nodded, "Aye sir."

Captain Walsh looked back out the front windows of the bridge and wondered to himself if any of this was going to go smoothly. He doubted it.

Edited by Seylos (see edit history)
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Outside the village of Gongtakh, Kunduz Province. July 15, 0400.

"Company, dismount." Captain Huang's men and women clambered off their horses in relative quiet, sliding their Brownies off of their shoulders and unhitching the saddle-strapped Chili Con Carnes, Dollhouses and Kittens. Huang pulled his monocular out of a belt pouch and surveyed the village. Several dozen houses in the main compound, some ten more in outlying fields. If they wanted to stop the insurgents escaping, they'd need good coverage.

"Lieutenant Qasim, stay here with the horses, and take Second Platoon's Chili; cover the main block of houses with both machine guns, and get the horses in some shade. Sun's coming up fast, and I don't want them giving us away."

He turned to Second Platoon, Lt. Otkur's unit. "I want you to go around the fields and end up west of us, perpendicular to First Platoon's arc of fire. And keep a Dollhouse trained on those outlying houses; more than likely there's a weapon store in one or more of them. Third Platoon, you'll be splitting up. Sergeant Hedayat's squad is going to advance into the ville with the @Valacians; if you find any insurgents in the houses, do your best to get them alive. Sergeant Yeg's squad will secure the entrance to the village, while the Valacian IFV makes a circuit around the east side and winds up blocking off the road leading northwest out through those fields. I'll stay here with First Platoon. Move out."

As the company split off into its various duties, Captain Huang turned to the Valacians who'd followed them. "As we say in Fulgistan, gentlemen; 'batter up'. Good luck out there."

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The PA-34 Seneca lurched to a stop at the end of the runway -- if the somewhat flat stretch of dirt on which the aircraft had just landed could even be described as a runway. Sitting in the front seat of the converted transport plane, Marc Derocles sighed in relief, and found himself somewhat unnerved to hear the pilot of the plane do the same. Looking over, he saw the pilot shrug. "It's an old plane, what can I say?"

Derocles rolled his eyes and shook his head. When he'd left the National Security Service for the National Intelligence Service, he'd thought it'd mean getting to join one of the elite domestic black operations units. Instead, the barrel-chested thirty-six year old dark-skinned black man found himself assigned to the elite foreign black operations unit. Apparently, his English had been too good to just put him where he'd wanted to be, the frontlines against the FFRU. And so now, instead of killing those rat commie bastards, he was essentially acting as a courier, delivering weapons in this heap of junk.

A half dozen of the recipients of those weapons had just pulled up next to the plane in a truck. Here we go, Derocles thought to himself. Rising from his seat, he walked half-bent-over to the door of the plane, opened it, and crawled out. He took a quick moment to stretch himself out, enjoying the escape from the aircraft's cabin, before turning to the gathered Black Eagle officers.

"We received your message," said the leader of the group, an older Fulgistani man that Derocles had been calling gray, based on the color of his hair. Derocles didn't know his name -- and gray didn't know Derocles', for that matter. It was better that way. Gray continued, speaking in English, the two men's shared language. "We were a little surprised -- we thought the next shipment wasn't due until the beginning of the month? But we're also glad -- those RPGs you've been giving us are the only thing we have that stand even a chance against their helicopters."

Derocles smiled. Despite his general unhappiness about this assignment, this was going to be a fun moment. "We're not here with our standard package," he said, referring to the package of Varinco small arms, designed to equip 500 people, that he'd been delivering every couple of weeks since the Fulgistani operation began. "This is something -- well, something that'll help even more against the helicopters." He motioned to the plane. "Have a couple of your guys grab out one of those crates."

Gray motioned to two of his men, who ran up to the plane, pulled out a crate, and threw it on the ground. Derocles walked back to the plane himself, grabbed out a crowbar, and broke open the top of the container. Gray and his men looked on as Derocles removed the top, revealing the Varinco-provided MANPAD system, and missiles, located within.

"This," Derocles said, turning to Gray, "is a shoulder-mounted surface to air guided missile system. Here -- let me show you how it works, so you can teach your men in the field."

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Captain Guariglia watched the IFV make its way away from the town with only the slightest pang of jealousy. Horse riding technically was a part of Valacian military training, but it was so rarely used that many of his soldiers, Pezzella included, scarcely could call themselves good at it.  He knew that the lucky soldiers who managed to find themselves on motor detail would be in for a less than lucky return when they all piled into base.

But that would have to wait. As the IFV disappeared into a cloud of dust, Guariglia waved his troops forward, following Sergeant Hedayat’s lead into the village. It was a simple operation, one they’d performed on a larger scale many times before back home in Valacia. Granted, it helped the process when everyone spoke the same language, but that was why they had been paired with the @Fulgistani soldiers: someone had to play translator.

Things went smoothly for the most part: one of Hedayat’s men would translate a conversation for the Valacians, they would point out anyone suspicious, sometimes there would be a scuffle, but for the most part, everything was going fine. At least for the first few houses.

As invariably happens in these situations, someone likely slipped through the cracks. Or else the Insurgents noticed the soldiers making their way through the village. Either way, towards the end of the village, the number of suspicious people started to dry up.

At least, from Guariglia’s end, they did. It seemed that Captain Huang’s prediction had been right, the insurgents had gone for the fields, and walked straight into an IFV. Some had tried to fight, but from their superior position, coupled with their heavy arms, they quickly were forced to retreat into the village, where they went to ground.

While it was not a completely successful mission, it could not be said it was a failure. Though some insurgents managed to slip past the Valacian/Fulgistani comb, more than enough were captured to retrieve valuable information.

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After a week of traveling across the Adlantic ocean, a fleet of ships carrying the Sayfi expeditionary force and their equipment had docked in the Fulgistani city of Wulumuqi. After all the equipment and supplies were removed form the cargo ships in the fleet, they left leaving behind several MBTs, Air Defense Vehicles, and Armored transports. On board the remaining ships, men were packing large backpacks full of ammunition and supplies to prepare for their journey to the front lines to beat back those who give Islam a bad name. 

"Alright men," roared the load voice of Commander Ahmed Walid over the speakers aboard the remaining ships "Form up in your squadrons and board the transport vehicles, we'll be accompanying the Fulgistani forces in southern Fulgistan.

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Sayfi Military entering the warzone

Edited by Sayf (see edit history)
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En route to a Black Eagle compound, Takhar Province. July 28, 0200.

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Finally, some action. The crews of the 15th Airborne Regiment had spent weeks learning their new, upgraded helicopters' systems, and now it was time at last to take them to the front and blow up some insurgents. Their cargo tonight were the complement of @Seylosian special forces, and for good reason; intel gathered in the last two weeks indicated that this was the compound of a Black Eagle strongman decently high up the chain of command; they couldn't rely on typical Guard airborne troops to perform such a high-risk operation. While a quartet of transport helos inserted the Seylosians into the compound, leaving Sergeant Major Ganbaatar and his two 37-mm cannon armed variants to provide covering fire.

"F*ckin a, Sarge, this is great. All I gotta do is move my head, and pop go the terrorists."

That was his gunner, speaking from behind a bug-eyed Asgeirrian augmented reality helmet display as her cannon spat hot death on the Black Eagles below. Ganbaatar noticed movement on the FLiR.

"Heads up; looks like a patrol returning. Hill, two o'clock."

"Yeah yeah, calm down, I got it."

As the helicopter re-oriented itself side on to the insurgents, the FLiR was lit by a blinding flash; from the seemingly innocuous clump of men, a screaming rocket shot toward the support helos. Immediately, the Sergeant Major jerked up on the stick, sending one of the door gunners sprawling, and yanked the flare lever on the dashboard; thankfully, the burning flares were enough to confuse the simple infrared targeting system, and the missile shot by the rotorcraft.

"f*cking-- where the f*ck did they get a MANPAD?"

As Ganbaatar reoriented the lurching helicopter, his other fire support craft dispensed a rocket barrage on its origin; whatever had been there was now dust. Shaken to their core, the crews continued to hover nervously over the compound, silently urging the Seylosians to hurry the hell up. Finally, the special forces emerged from the now-deserted central building, escorting a pair of prisoners. With record rapidity, the complement was extracted and the flight of helos sped back to base.

 

Secretary for Defense Choinom had not been expecting a phone call at 3 am that morning.  Nor had he expected to learn that although the 15th's operation was successful, a pair of the upgraded Asgeirrian craft had been lost to ground fire that night. What had been a simple insertion against a counter-revolutionary position had turned into a rescue operation in the pitch-black plains. Five dead, twelve wounded. Not good news. Thankfully, the Seylosians had managed to capture one of the MANPADS from the compound's arsenal, and it was quickly ascertained that these were only Varinco units, simple infrared tracking systems easily defeated by onboard flares. However, this was a crushing blow to morale in the short term, and the Guard would have to delegate CAS to other, more modern coalition rotorcraft. Not a good night, that was for damn sure.

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Captain Walsh was in his office when there was a knock on his door. He looked up from his paper, "Come in."

An officer walked in and made a brief salute, "Captain, we've received a message from Admiral Forrest, thirty of the harriers that were committed to ground operations in Fulgistan are to be returned immediately. The Defiant has already been on route to Fulgistan and is close to the range where the fighters can return on their own power..."

"What? Let me see that." Walsh stood up and crossed the room, making an imposing figure doing so. He grabbed the decrypted communique out of the officer's hands and read it for himself. He found himself nearly enraged reading the rest of the sheet. "Returning our jets for a fleet review? What the hell is the King thinking? He knows we need these for aerial support..."

His voice dropped off as he suddenly began to realize. Those planes wouldn't just be taken away with no reason. Of course he could only speculate as to what was happening since a fleet review was custom when a new monarch had their coronation. But he knew King Aidan as a navy man himself wouldn't risk military operations like this unless there was a very good reason. "Is there any more to this?"

"No sir, the public statement at the moment is that during such a fleet review the prestige of Seylos's carrier fleet would be diminished without the presence of its aircraft during such a fleet review."

"Alright then leftenant, get our ground operation on the radio, we need to inform them of this change."

"Aye sir"

------

Major Patrick Keaton had just gotten on the radio with the HMS Archangel and had to take a moment to keep his frustration in check. He left the command tent and looked out at the operation surrounding him. Already ten of the Harrier jets had arrived, sitting idle in an improvised landing field just a few hundred meters away, and were being tended to by their operating crews fighting off the harsher Fulgistani elements. Luckily no other operations had been disrupted and the aid teams had begun setting up quite the operation. His command tent was one of a few dozen scattered around ready to provide services when the need began. His small compliment of marines were actively patrolling the perimeter, but he anticipated no real issue since they had setup a fair distance from the front lines. Having a quick look to his side he could see his XO approaching him, Captain Benjamin Fox one of the special forces operators that had accompanied them to the region.

"Major, some mixed news. Our people are back some from their last mission with the Fulgistanis. Mission was a success though we sustained a few injuries, one somewhat serious when some of the Fulgistani choppers went down. But all in all everyone seems to be in one piece. I'd say I feel a lot more comfortable if we could use our own helicopter assets for this."

Major Keaton gestured at the fighters in the distance sounding a bit angrier than he intended when he replied, "Well what you see is what we get Fox."

"Sir?"

"Our other craft got the order to return back to Seylos for fleet review due to the coronation."

Fox put his hand on his head, "Are you serious sir? Is something going on?"

Keaton threw up his arms as he began to walk off towards the airfield, "I have no f*cking clue. Just go get our people sorted Captain."

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  • 1 month later...

"San." The young guardswoman held up three fingers with her left hand, and drew the corresponding character in the dirt.

"Shan."

"Si."

"Shi."

Corporal Enkhbat sighed. The little girl was clearly trying, but the cleft in her upper lip kept her from forming the words properly. Fifth Battalion had rolled into the town then days ago, in the wake of coalition armoured divisions that had been making a sweeping advance into Sons of Abu Azzam territory in Kunduz Province.  From what they'd seen so far, there were many unfortunates like the young girl; born with some deficiency, crippled or maimed in their youth, and now forced to contend not only with short-tempered militant groups, but with food shortages; the SAA had turned over most of the cornfields in the surrounding highlands over to poppy growing, to sell as heroin and cruder products.

Thankfully, relief was arriving, however slowly. A makeshift soup kitchen had been set up on the outskirts of the village, and from the way that the civilians ate, it certainly seemed like they were getting their first real meal in a long while. Medical tents, too, had been erected, and were dispensing vaccines and other miscellaneous medicines to the locals. Finally, there were the ever-present blue helmeted correspondents of Radio Free Eurth, sticking cameras and microphones into seemingly every situation at the most inconvenient moments. Just last week, Corporal Enkhbat had had to pull one of the wide-eyed civvies out of the way of an improvised incendiary. At present, one of their crews was documenting another new phenomenon: the instruction of Worker's Militia units, raised from the local population and (hopefully) trained to act as a paramilitary early warning and reconnaissance force. A Sayfi major in aviator sunglasses barked orders at a motley collection of peasant teenagers clutching Brownies.

"While it is entirely understandable that one would want to shout the Takbir upon achieving a victory in combat, it is generally inadvisable to do so in a tactical situation. It is of the utmost importance that combat dialogue be concise, relevant, and useful to your comrades."

As he spoke, the RFE anchor, in his bulletproof vest prominently branded "PRESS", gestured to the scenes of bombed-out houses and empty alleyways, tactfully avoiding the loose groups of Revolutionary Guard patrolling the village streets. It was all a rough state at present, but Kunduz and Takhar, bit by bit, were changing.

Changing, too, was the Guard. After the scare with the Black Eagle MANPADS, the doctrine of the airborne and assorted helicopter-mounted segments of RG Ground Forces had had to adapt quickly. So far, they'd settled on a mixed platoon system: the lighter, faster UH craft would not be the primary transport, their place being taken by Khiimori Khii-8s, a domestic copy of the @Iverican SUR-17 Gavina. These heavy, robust helos could carry a platoon between two of them, lessening the number of targets for ground strikes at any given time. These would be accompanied by the upgraded UH gunship variants, at a ratio of one gunship to four transports. Thus far, the lighter, faster and more sophisticated UHs had been able to identify and neutralize ground targets very successfully, and the Khii-8s were more than capable of performing their role as troop carriers. With this combination, the threat of MANPADS to Guard airborne troops had been largely mitigated, at least for the time being. Though the conflict dragged on, as it had for decades, cracks of light were beginning to appear in the darkness.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Outskirts of the city of Zhambul, Kunduz Province, Southwest Fulgistan. 6 November, 0400.

Thwump-thwump-thwump.

The Guard had assembled at the siege lines outside Zhambul, the last, and most crucial, stronghold of the Sons of Abu Azzam, the Islamist terrorist group who'd ruled Kunduz for decades.The Fifth Proletarian Engineers had been preparing the earthworks and command posts surrounding the siege lines for some weeks now, and now it was time for the definitive assault.

Thwump-thwump-thwump.

Artillery had been pounding the outskirts of the city for days. The insurgents had constructed some primitive concrete and sheet metal bunkers and gun emplacements, but these had been quickly reduced to rubble, and the SAA had retreated into Zhambul proper, reducing the effectiveness of the artillery, due to the presence of the few civilians that hadn't been able to flee.

The guns went silent.

For a moment, in the trenches of the Revolutionary Guard, there was only quiet prayer.

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Cautiously, the IFVs, APCs and tanks began to crest the rampart of the trenches, sweeping the dust-choked alleys of the city with their infrared sights. Splitting into three columns, with the MBTs in the lead, they rolled into the main thoroughfares of Zhambul. While the Guard had precious little experience with urban combat at home, experiences in the @Prymontian Rus had taught them to, at the very least, dismount the infantry from the APCs and IFVs before proceeding into the city center, to provide counter-fire to attacks from second-story windows and roofs against the vulnerable top armor of the armored vehicles. Meanwhile, on the other, more suburban side of Zhambul, Colonel Mansarjav's Fifth Battalion was deploying in light order, mounted in 4x4s instead of their usual equine steeds. Accompanying them were Sayfi shock troops in their distinctive Omsk mine-resistant vehicles. Street by street, they began to press forward, under heavy fire from SAA troops at all times.

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The assault, which had begun at dawn, carried on well into the afternoon, and, after a brief lull at dusk, the fighting resumed in the dark autumn night. The advance had been stymied by SAA ambushes of Fulgistani armor columns, blocking some of the narrow streets and causing several tanks to brew up in a torrent of flame. In a hurried effort to counteract the losses, several squads of Fifth Battalion, under cover of darkness, advanced through the crumbling houses of the eastern neighborhoods, room by room, dispatching terrorist fireteams in knuckle-whitening CQB. By the time dawn rose over the savanna, the final armored push had reached the city center, in the wake of fifteen hundred Sons prisoners and eight hundred dead counter-revolutionaries.

It was a clear victory, and an unprecedented one, considering the Revolutionary Guard's reputation as an ill-trained conscript army, but it did not come without cost. Over two hundred Guardsmen and women lay dead, and another hundred had lost one or multiple limbs.Thirty armored vehicles, from several coalition nations, had been knocked out, six of which were deemed beyond repair. Even worse, some seven hundred civilians had been killed over the course of the siege, many from starvation and disease, but still others from being trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, or from coalition airstrikes. The remaining civilian populace was universally displaced, malnourished, ill, and frightened. Significant relief efforts would be required before Zhambul was even remotely habitable again. Still, Fulgistan's heart was open to their long-lost cousins, and the Guard already had some experience working in post-conflict zones, thankfully. With the capture of Zhambul and the dispersion of the SAA, all that remained was to wipe out the Black Eagle Cabal.

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  • 5 months later...

"And when can you start extraction?"

"Hmm. May, June. No sooner."

"Listen, Comrade, you must understand; there's a war on now; we need this oil, sooner rather than later."

"Comrade Wang, we'll do our best with what we've been given. With the state the terrorists left most of these wells in, you'll be lucky to have 50% extraction within the quarter."

The mustached Bulgenstazi's expression did not change as he scrolled through his PDA. On his head was a red hard hat, with the distinctive ring-star symbol of the International Communist Economic Bloc. The team from the Petroleum Committee had been flitting around Takhar Province by helicopter, surveying old oil derricks that had been liberated from the Black Eagles. Overall, the assessment was hopeful; most of the wells had not been destroyed or severely damaged, and it appeared as though the Black Eagles lacked the capacity to extract from them in the decades that they had controlled the area. Reassessment of proven reserves was still ongoing, but, again, projections were optimistic.

Wang Guzheng, turning away from the ICEB representative, looked out over the surrounding hills. It was rugged but beautiful country, out here in Takhar; mostly upland scrub and rocks, but a fair few wooded patches too. Thankfully, now these hills were free of the terrorist menace; a few Black Eagle strongholds still dotted the landscape, but it was only a matter of time before they were crushed completely.

"Hey, did you hear about the Shffahkian fascist they just nabbed?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah, him. Made the news in Khenkourt; I'd sure hate to be that guy right now."

"Yeah. At that point, when you're dragging someone out of a hole, I'd almost prefer to just be shot then and there. Now he's gotta go home for a trial and everything, and the result will be the same."

"Mmm."

Guzheng struck a match on his boot, lighting the kretek that had been dangling from his lips. The sun was setting now, and the breeze picked up, picking its way between the hills through the arid spring evening. Just the two men and the wildlife, as far as the eye could see.

"Alright, let's head back. I appreciate you working late."

"It's no trouble. From each according to his ability, and all."

As the chopper took off, Guzheng reflected on the changes the province had undergone in the past few months. In the winter, you couldn't get a civilian helo within thirty miles of the front lines without having to dodge a rocket; now, he thought, as he looked out over the desolate scrub, this place just might be useful to somebody.

 

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Edited by Fulgistan (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

Bogd Gioro, House of the Revolution. 24th June, 2019. 7:29 PM.

"Comrade Almas, they're ready."

"Thank you. I'll be out in a moment."

Tomur looked at himself in the mirror one last time; nice red tie, little flag lapel pin, hair done up as befitted the leader of the nation.

Time to rustle up the herd, he thought. Now or never.

Palacio_de_la_Reunificaci%C3%B3n,_Ciudad

Out in front of the House of the Revolution was the usual press gaggle; the Wulumuqi Morning Post, the Worker's Daily; even the Kishtan Telegraph had sent a correspondent. This was no ordinary press conference; not least because Almas and the Central Committee had been keeping the subject under wraps. This was intentional; they were hoping to prevent the negative press speculation that might otherwise precede this...particular kind of announcement. Nonetheless, the press podium, emblazoned boldly with the national seal, awaited. If one were to rank all the nation's podiums from meanest to greatest, Almas considered, this would surely be the country's most important podium of all. 

"Good evening, everyone. It's a great honor to speak to you once again as your General Secretary, especially in such proud and prosperous times. Through great effort, unflinching determination, and steadfast, enlightened political consciousness, the Fulgistani people have opened a new chapter in their history. With diligent effort, the brave men and women of the Revolutionary Guard have overturned the stranglehold of warlordism and terror that had held the two provinces of Southwestern Fulgistan firmly in their iron grip. Takhar and Kunduz provinces are now both completely free from the predation of bandits, terrorists, and other armed militant criminals. We are proud to add their territory to the map of our country, and to announce that the election of national representatives and local government officials is already underway. To all those who set their hearts to the task of liberation: I say that you have the gratitude of the whole Red nation, now and forever more."

"Moreover, Takhar and Kunduz are not only liberated, but flourishing. The people of these lands have not known such abundance since the days of the revolution, and even now many are watching this speech on the television, a luxury previously unavailable to them. So too, are the people of the Southwest enthusiastically joining the national workforce; one of the largest oil reserves in the whole of Eastern Alharu lies underground in Kunduz province; the forces of the International Proletariat have not been idle, and with the help of the comrades in the International Communist Economic Bloc Petroleum Committee, we can now announce that for the first time in fifty years, Fulgistan is a genuine oil-producing nation, and can begin export of crude oil to the global economy. It is the hope of myself and the Central Committee that this will being a bright future in industry for the people beleaguered by constant war and strife for so long a time."

"Now, I hope you will permit me to bring you another piece of good news on this momentous occasion. It is the product of long deliberation and very careful consideration, by all members of the Central Committee. It, too, will serve to turn open a brand new chapter in the chronicle of the Worker's Republic and of the Huang people. Since 2015, Samarkand Province has operated as the Samarkand Special Economic Zone, a test-bed for various economic policies and political reforms for the nation as a whole. Now, I am pleased to announce that the Samarkand Special Economic Zone opens its doors to the world for business. It has been decided by the Central Committee, and, it is hoped dearly, will be upheld by the will of the people, that the province will host foreign businesses, and pursue a limited market economy in the years to come. This new micro-economy, if it is as successful as projections indicate, will serve as a model for other state-designated zones to come. It is hoped, by increasing economic growth in key areas such as Wulumuqi and its surroundings, that the Worker's Republic may continue to advance itself and the members of the International Communist Economic Bloc, to whom it intends the SSEZ to serve as a model as well. To allay any concerns out of the gate, let me be very clear: The Worker's Republic of Fulgistan remains committed to the principles of the communist revolution, to the practice of radical socialism, and to the liberation of the global working class. It is precisely because of the success of socialism in Fulgistan that the government has now chosen to pursue a policy of openness; we as a nation are a shining beacon to the downtrodden of the world, a light of hope in a darkening age. Though despotism and crony capitalism may remain par for the course abroad, they have no place whatsoever in this, the free and beautiful land of our own making. The time has come, o you who refuse to be slaves, to emerge from isolation and closed-mindedness; to emerge as a leader in Alharu, and to serve as a guiding force for the working peoples of the world. Thank you, and goodnight."

Almas bowed smoothly, dimly aware of the cameras snapping and flashing all around him. He could barely remember walking back to his office.

"How was I, Bayanchur?"

"Excellent, sir. Exactly as it ought to have been said."

"I hope so." Almas chuckled. "If I said anything wrong, I'm sure I'll have a thousand corrections waiting in the morning papers."

"No time to rest, Comrade Tekin. Much to be done; our real work is only just getting started."

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