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The Mermaid's Dark Metamorphosis


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Her Lost Grip ~ Prologue

A Journey In Succession

Some weeks ago, our leader of almost 20 years attended what our government has hailed as a successful party in Galahinda. It did show that we could and should be taken seriously despite being pipsqueak and fun size. However, that success comes without any sign of succession. In her walk in and out of the party, her excellency was alone. How does she expect us to ignore our future?”

--Excerpt from an Op-Ed in the Yulaa Spectator
 

Kera Eka Lam has been in power for almost twenty years. In a historic moment, she took over from one of Oyus’ most prominent figures in its history, Kera Yulaa. She had large shoes to fill. Lam since her ascension worked to see that the country would be taken seriously when the time came. Thus far, there was plenty of success seen despite some minor hiccups. Just this past year, the results were rather clear: Oyus had gotten its act together. There was an increasing wave of optimism. A positive outlook of the country as a more active participant in the international community. Faith in the government had never been higher since taking over from her predecessor. Yet, nothing is ever perfect, even in the idyllic paradise. There still came criticism. Criticism that was held high, too.

Merseca Square was the heart of the government. Many of the government’s principal high level offices lined the plaza, including Acona Palace. Lam wandered through the quiet halls of the executive residence. It had been her home, where she lived for much of her life. The structure was quite large, comparable in size to Eurth’s grandest of royal palaces. In contrast, it was much more modest: no elegant marble floors, no ornate light fixtures, not even walls with intricate designs. “It is a palace even a pauper could approve of, dear Eka.” Her predecessor, her mother, would tell her. At ascension, she honored this idea by committing to relegating herself in the residence to a small area just slightly larger than a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom middle-class apartment so that it could be toured by tourists and citizens alike.

Lam dipped herself into a warm bathtub, reclining against it her head staring up at the ceiling. The room was lit only by candlelight as she closed her eyes, sitting in silence. In times of great stress, bathing in welcoming warm waters were a go-to for the resilient leader. Now, more than ever, did she need one. Even though there had been plenty she had done in her tenure as Kera that required great strength and weighed heavily on her. Eka would try to begin to lose herself in her thoughts… Never have I ever needed this-”until now?” her thoughts went from her voice to a different familiar voice. Eka inhaled before opening her eyes and exhaling, her gaze finding a lit screen with a close aide on the other side of the call.

“Your Excellency, I have not seen you so weighed by something like this before. The last time you were noticeably-” Eka held up her hand nodding knowing where her aide was going to go, her hand making a gesture like that of a mouth talking. She had not been this noticeably bothered by circumstances since having to take on post relief efforts of one of the biggest tropical disturbances Oyus had ever seen. It was rare for her to be bothered even in the rougher stretches of her reign. Kera Yulaa had taught her well, “Oyus’ people are only as calm as their leader, young Eka.”

Eka faced the screen with dread, arms crossed. “I have done plenty for this country. My life is all about fighting for my countrywomen and countrymen. Can we not be pleased by that?” Kol Tala, her aide on the other side nodded. Tala was a break from her typical choice to tradition: female-personal assistants. In fact, Tala was the first man to ever take the position, out of pure luck he had gained it. Eka enjoyed how bold he was to apply for the post in the first place, growing fond of someone who would be a close adviser of sorts to her.

“Your work hasn’t gone unnoticed, they just don’t want it to go to waste over what will be an inevitable election to come if you decide to step down like your mother did. Besides, it would be an excuse to take time for yourself.” Eka couldn’t hold in her laughter at the suggestion that securing the future leadership of her country could be used as an excuse to get time for herself. She would question her assistant, and friend, how that could be.

“How? Why should I? Every woman here has the right to choose except me, because I have to?” Kol wouldn’t let her continue, interrupting as if he anticipated she would go down this route.

“Eka, nothing in the Constitution says you have to marry the opposite sex or even bear children. There is always another way. It can be your choice with no pain involved. Unless who you decide to adopt has a painful backstory.” Kol Tala would know what he was talking about as a former student of law, specializing in the Oyusard Constitution. It kept her silent as she truly considered that this matter could be quickly answered and alleviated. Indeed, she also had the right to choose, and there are no formal instructions of how or when. Leaving the handling of the process of lining up Oyus’ next leader to her own devices. It was without a doubt the best time to do it, too, with all the success beginning to show for itself.

Lam slipped back into the tub, more relaxed at the thought. “Ask Lili to meet in the morning. We have an important communique for the wurld.” Tala could be seen nodding as the screen flipped off while the Kera rested.

Edited by Oyus
Added Table of Contents (see edit history)
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  • 6 months later...

The following news article relates to this thread and post

The Alcorn In The Field

“This morning, a hacker from Kirvina posted an authenticated telegram from the Kera of Oyus distributed to some leaders across the world on the subject of her heir. It emphasized the search for an heir foreign born, confusing many as to why. ‘It almost seems like Oyusards aren't adequate - a real slap in the face if you ask me.’ a citizen remarked.”

--Excerpt from a Yulaa Spectator report

Leaks like these had never happened before. And it was utter chaos as a result, at least it would seem to be in this instance. The public made clear their displeasure, many being the native Oyusards. On state-funded television, one did not need 4K resolution to come to the crystal clear conclusion that foreign succession would not fly in Oyus, even if it were legal as it stands. Several strongly worded letters had made their way to the Kera from public figures, online public petitions, and even a coalition of National Congresspeople with a similar message across the board: Don’t go through with this.

Eka’s teacher, her mother and predecessor, hadn’t ever touched much upon how to navigate or get through a tough situation like the one she found herself in. It was a bag of mixed emotions for her. Part of her blamed Yulaa for those reasons. Part of her blamed Tala, who encouraged her in a way to go through with it. He broached the subject to begin with. She might have gone about this much differently if he hadn’t egged her on, she thought. Part of her blamed the public for not understanding. What would they know about choosing an heir in a modern day monarchy? Why was it any of their business how the process of procuring one went? It is not as if she was an elder Oyusard. She wasn’t even middle aged-yet. Eka felt at the end of the day shifting blame onto someone other than herself was in reality an excuse and refusing to confront the reality of the situation. She made this decision. She made it without truly considering the consequences, which was something that Yulaa had taught her.

It was a forceful swing from the otherside into the room, before being swung back and clicking behind the entrant. The swift footsteps moved at a beat familiar to her, a beat she trusted: Tala. They stopped from what felt to be some ten meters behind her. There was a disappointing sigh that escaped from him. It felt like he was staring into the back of her head. Thus, slowly she turned to face him in her chair. Her throne. The Stone Throne. His face looked similar to the sound of his sigh. His entire body, too, given it’s posture and stance. The silence was a deafening one, as if waiting for her to address him as opposed to him addressing her first. What would seem like common protocol for the monarch to address you first seemed more like him wanting not to be the one who has to start the conversation.

“You cannot remain in your chambers like this, Eka.” He approached her, coming only a meter away from her, continuing,”Hiding as the public displeasure with you is high is not a good picture to paint with your staff around. It is not something your mother taught you to do either, I’m sure.” She didn’t take kindly to that last comment, gifting him a face of disgust in response. It was a bit too personal, even if it was true. Tala was there for a reason however. He doesn’t communicate in person on the matter of business unless he is in close proximity or it is of curious interest. Of great importance. There would be no purpose piling onto the current situation unless civil war broke out.

Eka did what she could to straighten up, filling in the throne with as regal of a posture as possible after adjusting her robe more securely to her. “You come with business, what might it be?”

The Hand held out a manila file to her. “I came across something---someone. While it may not be what we had wanted or hoped for, it could help ease the pains we are experiencing right now.” Eka gently took custody of the file, opening it to reveal a page in which deemed that the information was only for certain eyes and of great sensitivity. There were not many things in Oyusard governance that she would come across as being considered sensitive. Almost everything was transparent, and given that the nation isn’t involved in heavy militaristic activities, there were few points in which there would be some. “What is it?” she queried.

Tala cleared his throat and began, “Your mother even from her grave still watches over you. She found you an heir, in case you couldn’t find one. In case you could not perform your duties before you could find one. We reached out to her not long ago and she is willing to meet, if possible, in Port Dorcha.”

She was unsure how she should feel. On one hand, there are many positives to this. Yulaa’s word in documentation would potentially calm the anger from the public over the succession debacle. No matter who it was, Yulaa was so highly revered almost akin to a goddess. If from beyond the grave one final act was left to be carried out, not many would dare challenge it. On the other hand, it was a contradiction of law and set a precedent that could only muddy the future of Oyus. Not only that, but more personally, it was somewhat disheartening that her mother had not so much faith in her designating an heir. Yet, was she wrong?

* * *

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Just outside of Port Dorcha traveling inland, a structure stood in the process of being constructed. It seemed like it was a little bit past halfway done and had potential to be a notable landmark. The “discreet” motorcade came to a halt. Doors could be heard opening and slamming shut as Eka’s own door was opened and slammed. It was an all white qipao dress she sported with a variation of the flower crown in white. A suited individual led her closer to the structure towards a woman, younger than herself, stood sporting a black hard hat and matching black qipao dress, though much shorter than Eka’s. The suit tapped on the woman’s shoulder and then turned toward the Kera for a brief moment as she spoke to the suit. She approached Eka, taking long strides to her.

She kneeled to her and kissed her hand gently. She stood and shook hands with the monarch. “Your Excellency, it is a pleasure to have you meet with me amidst what is a difficult time for you. It isn’t how I had hoped we would one day meet, but in difficult times difficult things must be done. I am Maisie Alcorn, daughter of Donald Alcorn.” Alcorn, especially Donald Alcorn, was a rather familiar name. It was a family that her mother kept company with at times. While the revolutionary turned monarch was a commoner, she did have finer tastes, and it is difficult to keep a commoner around her that didn’t have such tastes that she had developed.

“You will have to forgive me Miss Alcorn, if I seem a bit distant I am a little shocked at the revelation. This is something I would have thought my mother would have discussed with me.” Alcorn smiled reassuringly as they hiked toward the unfinished circular body of the building before them.

“I understand that. Your mother meant well. It was a great length of time ago when we had our meetings and she most definitely had you at heart with this arrangement. If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to reminisce a little.” They stood in the husk of the building for a moment as Alcorn recalled a memory of a meeting with Yulaa, her last one just before she had been taken by Lux from this world. Not much stood out to Eka until Maisie came to a close. “She said to me, ‘Please Marga, make sure my Eka has someone if the worst comes.’ I told her that I would no matter what, without a second thought. I never thought I would ever have to.” It definitely sounded like something typical of the nation’s modern elder. It might have been uncharacteristic of her to have done something like this and have had it hidden well for over two decades, but it could not have not been her. Eka was well publicized in her younger years as being someone with so many friends and supporters, but in reality the truth couldn’t be any further from what is essentially tabloid content. Maisie had to be Yulaa’s plan. She had to be.

There was an itch at the back of her head. It might be that there was nothing more to discuss, yet on the contrary there really was. Legally, of course, she was the heir it had to be. Interpersonally, she was no one. If she were to be the heir, it would be helpful to establish some sort of rapport. This was, even if not by her own choosing, her future and bannergirl of her legacy. At least until she figured her own heir of choosing in there somehow. It was troubling that even in death, her mother still held some sort of control in decisions that were solely Eka’s to make.

“Statecraft isn’t exactly something learned in a day. You must realize should something happen to me that you will have to be prepared.” to which Alcorn nodded in agreement.

“The Alcorns have always been very interwoven in local politics here in Port Dorcha. Since my father’s departure I have made myself quite involved in helping the local administration the best I am able to and have learned quite a bit in doing so.” This was true. The Alcorns were of course a family of great wealth, and with great wealth comes power and clout. It is especially notable considering their wealth comes from their interests in shipping, too. To abstain from politics would have been wasteful and Maisie made sure Eka understood this, too. They never were a mayor or a government official. They were more. Influencers behind the curtains. Competing with others interests. Winning many, losing some. They have great influence in what goes on. From negotiating with leadership overseas with regards to business, to influencing better policing policy, to enriching the education of the future generations, Maisie had a heavy understanding in public policy with a dash of comprehension in foreign policy. “I may not have had the valuable lessons you had from your own teacher, your predecessor-your mother, Yulaa. However, I still know a bit and I hope my involvement and history shows that.”

Miary nodded in acknowledgment,”You’ll have to be ready at a moment’s notice. You may never know.” She had seen the history of Maisie’s dealings herself even with some information gleaned off intelligence. She knew enough that she didn’t think there was any need to look to further corroborate this. In a time with few allies, Miary saw a need to pull in an ally well crafted by her mother and society. “I suppose you are our Princess then. The Matriarchy needs you. I’m sure you know your history well: once we are riled up, it is hard to calm us down until justice has been served.” Miary gestured at the suit from earlier who would disappear for a moment to retrieve something. In acknowledgement of Miary’s statement and call to action Alcorn nodded, bowing her head to the Kera. It was her tiara, the tiara that a young Eka once wore before ascending the Stone Throne. Alcorn kneeled, knowing already that the moment had come to fulfill the role that a Kera Yulaa had called upon her to one day fulfill. She removed the construction helm from her head as Miary placed the tiara upon her.

“Do you, Maisie Alcorn, promise to protect the people of this land and the lands beyond? Do you swear to pledge yourself to them and take the actions necessary if they face a grave danger?? Will you rise as a leader-in-waiting and trusted friend of the people?” The Kera asked, to reaffirm the commitment that Alcorn made to Yulaa long ago now to her.

“I, Maisie Alcorn, do promise to protect the people of this land and the lands beyond, pledging myself to them to take the actions necessary if they face a grave danger, to rise as a trusted friend of the people and leader-in-waiting.” Eka allowed her to rise and face her with Maisie adding to the end,”I shall always.”

“I hope to see you in Yulaa soon. In a turbulent time like this, it would be nice to have a friend in court, and a knowledgeable one at that.”

Edited by Oyus
Changed character names and city name. (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

A Square Table With A New Seat

The shifting of seats as folks filled them in with their posteriors could be heard all around the conference desk. Around it were familiar faces in the National Congress: The Director of the Oyusard Intelligence Collective, the head of COUNTTMAN (Counter-terrorism), the head of ISIA (Internal Surveillance & Intelligence),  the National Police Commissioner, the Admiral of the Coastal Guard, Minister of Foreign Relations, the Kera’s Hand, and various minor aides with security clearance serving those in the meeting. The Crown Princess took notice of the Kera’s absence. While the general purpose of the meeting was a briefing of Oyusard security threats and interests, a more specific purpose this meeting was “to make preliminary decisions about the extent of Oyus’ involvement in Ceris.” A long overdue discussion as many nations had already begun to respond. This included Oyus’ own LAANN ally, Fulgistan. Although there have been plenty of calls from the National Congress to respond one way or another, a meeting had yet to be held.

As they settled in, a cart came around with morning refreshments. The clear mug set in front of Luisi held her favorite and go-to drink: a caffè mocha with cinnamon. It stood out among those around the table, many of which were of Oyusard descent. Just normal run-of-the-mill mugs of coffee of different, yet common types. Some glanced over at her with her coffee. The meeting opened as one might expect a normal one would despite this. For the most part Luisi was tuned out and just took the occasional sip from her drink. Though, she did not interact for a lack of knowledge or know-how on the matter. She just didn’t care to give input on the matter. Nothing was out of the ordinary since they were discussing the almost nonexistent threats against Oyus. I don’t see a need to be a part of all this, she thought to herself. Minor concerns if they can be even considered that. She only seemed truly in tune when the primary focus came to be the topic.

Things were getting worse in Ceris. The Matriarchy had been mulling sending aid for quite some time. Many in the National Congress felt there was more that could be done while others felt there was nothing to be done. Pressure from those seeking more had been constant and promises were made, but it wasn’t until now that the government finally gave in to have the discussion. The Hand, Kol Tala, gave the briefing on Ceris. It was looking less and less secure. The world’s opportunists were descending upon the region. Most notably, Het Huisselant had essentially annexed a portion of the region. What would normally be considered an egregious violation of sovereignty might be for all the better of its inhabitants given analysis by Oyusard… analysts. It is the hope that bad actors are not able to make their mark in Ceris. However, with reports of a terrorist attack in Hodrea it was unlikely to see any improvement.

“I think it would be quick to first establish that we should extend ourselves in Ceris by extending the typical arms out to Cerisers fleeing the region. No doubt those in Alharu and Argis would not want to absorb all the refugees, especially with a rogue cultist group extending itself throughout the isle.”

“Agreed. I don’t believe we have an argument there. It is at this point standard. The question is what more? This is an unprecedented situation and there is always something more we can do.”

“Well… we could possibly send some of our vessels to help support any maritime operations. We have heard the Tagmatines made the decision to focus more on inland operations with theirs. We could help fill any gaps.”

Using forces has never been a topic that is received well in these meetings by the government. It is always an expectation to be recommended, in the end, it is never utilized. However, it was clear it was a more serious consideration and one received by the government with open ears. It was true: the situation in Ceris was a dire and unprecedented one. One that could use every lending hand possible. One for the Matriarchy to shine as a leader in compassion and care for the welfare of inhabitants beyond Aurelia and Alharu. There would be none of that.

“That is certainly something of consideration. I am not opposed to the idea. I have been informed that as of late we have no reason to be on such high guard either. We could afford to send off a few lending hands.”

“I disagree.” It was the first time Luisi had spoken in the meeting. All eyes were on her. A tension suddenly appeared out of thin air to fill the room. Her words sort of hung in the air. Any member in a relaxed state was no longer. They were upright and at attention with their gaze upon the Crown Princess. The Oyusard Admiral squinted their eyes, feeling as though they had been challenged in their threat assessment as confirmed by Tala. A newcomer would know nothing of what goes on. However, she dared to challenge anyhow. In a setting rather inappropriately. What they figured to be inappropriate.

“You disagree. It would be helpful to-”

“The military is meant for the explicit purpose of guarding our own interests within our exclusive economic zone. There are many vague portions of the Oyusard Constitution, but this isn’t one of them. Of all individuals, you should know Hand Tala. It is a slippery slope to presume that because at home our threat level is low we are suddenly able to aid abroad. If we extend our limited capacity to beyond our reach in Ceris, we could find ourselves in deep trouble financially at best, and at worst under the heels of the very terrorists we seek to help remove in Ceris.”

Luisi made a valid point, even if it was much to the dismay of those in favor of the Admiral’s suggestion. The constitution was very clear that the military was for defensive purposes and not to aid in offensive excursions, which in the end, is what aiding Ceris would be classed as by many. The dig at Tala, a constitutional scholar and lawyer kept the room hushed. She would not allow him to patronize her. Just because he had not gotten to know her did not mean she was stupid. It did not mean she was not an individual that had been trusted by the Matriarchy’s founder in an odd time Oyus found itself in. In fact, in the little time she had been there she found herself able to make quick inroads with the Kera.

* * *

Earlier in the day it had been showering. A monsoon shower. The Kera enjoyed the smell and ambience of descending water from the skies above. She felt closer to Acona in that way. It was especially comforting to her. The doors to the outside remained open, allowing one to observe the rains outside. There was something that gave her inspiration to do good from the rain. It was an inexplicable emotion she enjoyed inside of her. A butterflies-in-the-stomach sort of way, only different. It was clear that it was lightening her recent depressing mood. She hadn’t worn anything formal or that constitutes actual clothing since the outrage that stemmed from her missteps of succession resolution. Just long robes, or something close to it. Threads that were casual, comfortable, easy to wear, easy to remove.

“You seem a little more upbeat today, Eka. I’m happy to see it.” Princess Margherita wore, too, a robe as she made her entrance. The Kera met halfway with the Princess and embraced her. The two had been meeting regularly for some time since Margherita became her successor officially. Each meeting had gotten successively better. Each meeting, it was clear to Lam that the two understood each other and the world around. Almost all of their meetings had been hosted by Lam in the Acona Palace herself. Just her. She recalled Yulaa having told her that the fewer distractions, the better one can bond with another. If all else failed, Eka needed to be at peace with what was the legal next Kera of Oyus until otherwise said. It is difficult to merely accept the legal truth and move along. Thus, these meetings occurred. Ones well received by Margherita, too.

Smiling, she replied, “The rain gives me a sort of strength. While others find gloom in it, I enjoy the good in it. You may not be able to enjoy the fruitful environment around us as it rains. It is still amazing, to me that is, that Acona blesses us with this phenomenon.” Lam led her to a table able to observe the blessing of Acona.

“I thank you for wearing something more comfortable. Casual. It is more comforting to not have the unnecessary professionalism in dress when I see you.”

“Personally, I believe that you could find yourself more at ease in working clothes, Eka. Something that helped me in a dark phase for me was dressing the part even if I was just with myself the entire day. I gave in only because you asked.”

“Hush, hush. I am not out in public like this.” In the distance the sound of a meal cart could be heard, wheeling in with a late lunch.

Margherita and Eka had become well established in the past couple weeks. They each exchanged niceties in a way almost friends would. To Eka, it doesn't feel just like she had someone who had an understanding of her perspective, of which she had with Tala. She also had a friend in someone, too. Someone to share the struggles of being the Kera of Oyus, that understood them. An individual she could be interpersonal with. It is, after all as they say, lonely at the top even if the view is quite nice. What is the purpose if there is no one to share it with? She had her mother, for the little time she did after she abdicated. Then after that, no one. Not a soul. Not until Tala, but Tala was less a friend and more of an adviser that knew personal information. In recent times, a sort of sitter, too. An almost domineering parental unit. It was not equivalent to what she quickly found in her hold over heir.

A seafood dish not worthy of noting fulfilled their afternoon dietary needs just in the same way Eka fulfilled her long neglected social needs with these meetings. In a similar way, Margherita looked to fulfill her new role as not an adviser and new friend to Her Excellency, but as a true leader in her own right just as she always had done. There were many things on her mind that she had hoped to discuss and consider with Lam, chief among them today was the topic at hand in the meeting set for this evening. With some poking around, she knew where he conversation would try to steer itself towards. A trail best not to be blazed just yet. 

“Thinking about what to do about Ceris gives me a headache all on its own, Margheita. Giving them food, medical, funds, and taking in refugees just quite honestly does not seem enough to me. It bothers me that the nations of the New Wurld would rather partition it to their liking than… help the unfortunate.”

“Ceris is a rather interesting conundrum at the moment. There isn’t much we can do. We do not have the vast resources and luxury of larger, wealthier nations of the Old Wurld. We are but a minute role model in the New.”

Lam enjoyed the thought of Oyus being the shining city on the hill, the shining example for Eurth to replicate. It was pure perfection between the work of her mother and herself. No less, she felt that with Ceris it was different. It wasn’t like other events and catastrophes. The aid didn’t amount to much, she figured. How can Oyus truly make an impact with its limited scope.

“We could feasibly scale down the fleet operations and take them abroad. I had heard the Tagmatines look to focus more inland than in the maritime. Heard, that is.”

It was like the Oyusard to have a fighting spirit against the ever imperialistic tendencies of other nations, especially those with agendas like their foreign invaders from their history. It was seemingly justifiable. It was within the spirit of LAANN. Yet, despite this, it still didn’t make sense to do so to Luisi, and she went on to explain and elaborate as such. In a tug of war like Ceris, there would not be much room for Oyus to be able to do much. The deaf would be more likely to notice the concerns and calls of Oyus than those playing their roles in the disaster. There was then the potential of leaving gaps by allowing the self defence force's assets to be aiding far away, and the logistics of ensuring the assets are well prepared and able to act. Lest we forget the legal implications, too, of using the self defence force for a more offensive purpose-regardless of whether she could amend the constitution to allow her to do so anyhow.

“That is very true. There is nothing ideal in this situation to begin with. In an ideal world, this would not be happening in the ifrst place.” Luisi nodded affirmatively and assuringly to Eka’s response. “I suppose by not going that path we can worry more about the financial implications of the usual aid instead of producing missiles and bullets.”

* * *

Tala fidgeted for a moment, adjusting himself in his stupid swivel chair as he cleared his throat. It was rather annoying, too. While he wasn’t too much in age difference, the idea of him being a leader was laughable. Every leader makes mistakes, even the best ones. He just wasn’t one. He had the trust, briefly, of the reigning Kera. It was the only reason he had any sort of authority at all. Before him, it was all Eka Lam considering his advice closely. Eka Lam weighing it against what she would do. Eka Lam. Being an advisor did not equate to being a leader. Something that anyone with a decent bit of eyes and ambition could sniff out in him.

“It was only a suggestion. I see that you have strong feelings about this, to which-”

“To which the discussion on anything beyond taking a humanitarian capacity on this matter is best considered tabled. This meeting has no further purpose. The humanitarian familiar agencies can discuss these things and make recommendations. I speak with the Kera on my side on this one. Adjourned.”

Crown Princess Margherita promptly stood tall from her seat at the square table and swiftly departed the room. This left the others behind to look at each other before departing themselves. All that is, but Tala. He sat there taken aback by what had occurred. It felt as though what control he had disappeared like a handful of sand in a fist. How could it be, when he himself was still so new in his position? The Hand of the Kera expected a radical shift in Oyusard policy. What he didn’t realize was that it would be with the Kera, and not with Oyusard foreign aid.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Scatterbrain

“‘We demand that we have reform now.’ one protestor said, ‘The Kera has failed us. The National Congress has failed us. This must be rectified.’ Protestors have gathered outside the National Congress and Acona Palace using megaphones and picket signs to make their voices heard as the populace has become visibly frustrated and has lost faith in the government..”

--Excerpt from the Yulaa Spectator report

Megaphones hadn’t seen use in Yulaa, ever. They hadn’t seen use across Oyus since the dissolution of the Democratic Republic. The people were not just disappointed. They were not just disturbed. They were angry. Their blood was boiling. The slew of negative press had become reminiscent of the times of the Democratic Republic. As if the revelation that the Kera overlooked an Oyusard to be the next-in-line was not bad enough, reports showed that the National Congress had become no better if not even worse than the preceding deliberative body. 

In what is being dubbed the Pearl Conspiracy, money men lined the pockets of Oyusard officials to ensure favorable outcomes or at the very least that unfavorable outcomes did not occur. It was evident especially from an opening remarks session back on October 21st. The now ousted Director of National Revenue pushed to overlook the unspeakable events unraveling in Haruspex, which ultimately did occur by the Congress never being able to muster meaningful legislation to aid victims of the events. An opportunity to prove to the world the goodwill of the Oyusard people and a heinous success for those hoping that the Matriarchy played no part whatsoever.

The worst though had to have been the seeming threat and uncertainty of the government’s true intentions in adopting the Synapse system. Or at least, that would be the public perception. It was a quickly tabled discussion in the meeting with the Sunset Sea Islands. And a ghost of the past haunting the halls of government as it panics as to what to do to put the populace at ease. There wasn’t a need for it, activists have stated in a long letter sent to the Kera’s office. In a peaceful nation that saw minimal crime and effective law enforcement regardless, it was not only a waste of revenue but also an invasion of the rights of the citizenry. To have considered it in itself was a disgusting breach of trust. To have been mum the entire time about the considerations was likely what made this fallout worse. 

The active protests were unruly. They had really begun affecting Eka. With constant cabinet meetings, closed door sessions, and general work around the clock she had been unable to focus. The protestors only made it worse as they rang her bell with their angry voices. Furniture was thrashed about her chambers, looking as though a whirlwind had come through and ransacked her quarters. The sheets upon her bed and the decorative curtains that lined her windows were in tatters. Overturned shattered vases littered the floor, too with the sound of weeping from beyond a lit door. Lam rocked back and forth. She was curled up against the tiled shower wall, her hair crazed. The lack of a straitjacket perhaps is what made her not seem like she was a patient of an institution. 

“You’ve allowed yourself to have gone mad.” The obvious said aloud by her Hand, Tala. She had no response to it. He could not have been there for all she cared. She was inadequate and incapable. Ill-prepared and ill-conceived. She was no one, nobody, to rule at this moment. It was all sudden.”Yulaa would be sorely disappointed in you.” Again with conjuring the image of her mother with great disgust. Eka did not care for his references to the predecessor. He always hit a very personal cord. Even if he was right. There wasn’t an excuse to justify her erratic behavior. She needed to be a leader and wade through the clusterf*ck of her making. 

The solutions were obvious. The issue was their unbalanced nature. On one hand there existed a solution that in the long term everything would be alright. However, it would not be so satisfactory in the short or medium term. It was unlikely to satisfy the restless people. It may not even work if the people take matters into their own hands much in the fashion her mother did so many decades ago, empowered by protests of similar vigor and strength. So long as a leader of the opposition was unclear and nonexistent, the government would remain intact and years of work will not be all for naught. On the other hand, there was one that would be most well received. In the short term, the strength of the demonstrations would be kneecapped as the government would be going on another drive of reform. Yet, reformation could mean setting back the goals of the Matriarchy for years. It could mean regression. No matter what decision was taken, there was going to be some degree of regression. Does she sack the entirety of the National Congress and overhaul the Oyusard Constitution? Does she mount a drive for reformation while slapping offenders with minor sentences and merely replace them? Those were the solutions clear to her. 

“I refuse to choose.” she proclaimed to him, voice cracking.

“You cannot refuse to choose. You must act. If you do not-” 

It was just then when the Hand was interrupted as entering the room was the Crown Princess. “I am not sure what to make of all this before me.” Margherita made her entrance in her striking long sleeved collared dress. It seemed to put the spotlight on her despite it being a pitch black color. It seemed to silence the room. It was as if all control of the situation was ceded to her. The vibe had completely changed with her appearance as Tala and Lam looked to her silently.  Lam was puffy and shy in her glance while Tala looked taken aback and surprised. She would strut over to the two comrades with an agenda. An agenda that Tala would be quick to catch onto. An agenda quickly lost on what would be considered to be, in truth, an incapacitated leader. Luisi held out her hand to the curled up Oyusard matriarch, helping her stand to be eye level with her. Luisi embraced the leader of the two isles. Silence still reigned. 

“You are not yourself. This is a difficult time. It is understandable. These are difficult decisions we never envisioned having to make. Do not forget why I am here. Do not forget what your mother has brought me here for”

Lam nodded in acknowledgement, “This could… set us back no matter what. This happened under my watch. I can not consciously send away our best all because of some moderate growth in corruption.”

“You also can not make the mistakes of the Republic. That is what many believe they see now. Remember, you are not alone. The unfortunate has happened. This is why I am here.”

Lam considered the Principessa’s words. She had a crazed look in her eyes. One that Tala had never seen before, as he crept closer to the pair having become the one furthest from the conversation. What she would do next would be unthinkable regardless. Unthinkable to her. In her mind, it was a no win scenario. The Matriarchy would only lose. She had failed. She was unfit. She could not decide. In the words of a formerly wise man,”It’s like being shot or poisoned.” Neither decision made sense to her. Neither decision should be taken. No decision. Make no decision. There must be a decision, he says. Make a decision. No decision. Overhaul or Revisions? Cyanide or Lead? What if it is both? All paths to revolution! Don’t choose a path. All is fine. It isn’t. But it is. Not. Eka's brain was scattered. What should have been helping words weren’t at all. 

“There is no decision to make… none. No decision. I do not need to make a decision.” Were these words the equivalent of hearing the snapping of the last thin hair holding together the faithful leader of Oyus? Tala would not have any of this. 

“You must make one. You are barely fit to rule just in this conversation, Eka. You are worrying me. We have to take swift action. The decision is very clear, and quite frankly it is the one-” 

Margherita would hush him. The room was still hers. She hadn’t moved at all. Not physically. Not in thought. Her gaze was still upon Eka. There was tension. It was in the air. Not between Lam and Luisi, though. Tala did not trust this. Still, he was being rendered powerless. Powerless by the newcomer. He had no reason to argue with her, despite the gut feeling that something was not right. Something was amiss. Come to think why was she here? Margherita's call to her felt like an echo “Eka. Eka. I am here for you. Come back to us.”

“There will be no decision," she proclaimed, "There doesn’t need to be any decisions. What decision? I don’t see one?” 

“Snap out of this. You know what decision.”

“No I do not. I am the Kera. I will do what I want.”

“You can not make reckless decisions like this. Doing nothing is worse than doing something, Eka!” 

“I decide that I will step down, then. How is that?”

“Eka, you’re being rash.”

Luisi nodded in agreement. “I don’t think you know what you are saying, Your Excellency.”

“I am not a child. I will say it again. I have decided. Hush, for you serve me, Kol. I resign. I abdicate.”

He had made a poor choice of phrasing at an even poorer time. Even with the gut feeling Tala had he had made the gravest mistake he could have in a room he had no control of. The idea was already carefully planted and the twig had already snapped. There was a decision just as he wanted. It would not be the one he had hoped. Not the one he had wanted. The worst of them all. Margherita did as she had been waiting to do for all this time. Margherita was doing what she knew was going to happen with their incapacitated leader. She would now have power beyond this room. This was not lost on her either. Margherita took Lam firmly by the arm and guided her out as she made a point with more witnesses to clarify the new state of the Matriarchy. 

“Eka, I am more than willing to help, you do not have to abdicate-”

Lam cut her off, “I decided. I abdicate. You will help me. Help me. Please. Help me… please… help…” 

Tala pursued beginning to shout, “You can not ascend! She is in no position to give you that. She isn’t right in the head.”

Margherita stopped for a moment without turning her way to the disgruntled adviser. “Which is it, Tala? She is unable to perform her duties or she competently made a decision you disagree with? Either way the result is the same.” It was true. Margherita had played her hand and played it well from the moment she arrived. She played all those around them like a fiddle, Tala most notably. Tala had f*cked up. Royally. 

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

The original intention of this thread is long over and has been repurposed for a much larger storyline personal to Oyus and the changes here to come. The perfect nation isn't so perfect now, and whether it will return to being one in the future or regress further remains to be seen. This has been the plan for some time now and have been waiting to pace this out just right. Admittedly, I couldn't wait any longer to make this post so much so I posted it 24 hours earlier than originally intended.

Edited by Oyus
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  • 7 months later...

Her Corrupted Scales ~ The Transformation

Dizzying Ascent

The following news article relates to this thread and post.

“Our glorious new Queen...announced that the National Congress would be dissolved. At last, a real solution. The National Congress was just an elitist circle-jerk that no one asked for.”

-- From a Portman’s Daily columnist

Dated May 29th, 2020

Maisie stood in front of a glass window that peered into a padded cell. Beyond the window, there sat Eka in the center of the cell, and some lab coats with clipboards to keep her company. She may have only ascended just three days prior, yet she wanted to be sure of Eka’s mental incapacitation. You cannot make the bold moves she had begun taking without ensuring they would not be erased ever so quickly. It is easier to extinguish a disgruntled uprising than risk total erasure from whom you thought you’d completely replaced. It became very clear that this would no longer be a concern having spoken to the medical staff taking care of the former leader of Oyus. Many may not realize it, but the days of Eka Miary are long over. They have long passed. Eka Miary had become history. 

In the present moment, Maisie filled a captain’s chair as her own personal advisors and remaining officials found their place at the table. Since Miary’s mental break, some of her most loyal advisers seemingly vanished. There was no trace of Kol Tala, the Hand. The Justice Minister and Former Ambassador to Gallambria Kayleigh Hani both last known whereabouts were at a hotel that sat next to Port Yulaa, before Maisie had made any decisions. The Interior and Self Defense ministers continued making excuses to be able to attend any meetings. It was clear to her that ahead lay what she had dreaded but long anticipated: an inside opposition to her sudden ascension. The meeting was no longer that of the existing cabinet, but the cabinet to come as they traitorously shirked their duties in protest. The table was comparatively far more diverse. A picture seemingly fit for the nation that embraced those of other nationalities and origins. Though, to the proud and fearful nationalist, it looked like that of a foreign coup. 

“It has begun. They are running, tail between their legs to those they once looked down upon. Cowards.” 

The accent is almost buried to those not looking for it. That of someone of Dearthaler descent.  Kora Kuntz, a twig blue-eyed blonde in her late 40s. Interestingly, the senior-most officer within the Self Defense Force that attended the meeting and trusted friend of the Alcorns. Kuntz came up in the self defense force in a time where it struggled to recruit just to barely maintain its numbers. As she quickly proved herself, she rose through the ranks. Despite such cultural belief in women as leaders, she was foreign born and the highest ranking woman within the force. Three men ranked higher. It was a true mystery as to why this was the case, though especially considering her qualifications: reforming the anti-piracy program, reorganizing the self defense force into a more efficient form, and brokering a cost effective replenishment of the Last Resort stockpile (a stockpile of arms that is readily available to be distributed to the populace should the isle be invaded). Every single instance that the top spot, or a spot higher up than her current post, within the last 10 years has come up vacant she is a candidate that routinely is passed over for someone less experienced. In her fourth campaign, she started to push her public profile by speaking out more on the matters of the self defense force and taking a more active interest in the National Congress’ going-ons, often sitting in place of the higher ranked men to defend or advocate on behalf of their force-often rather convincingly. Some believe that due to the Kera’s apathy to the defensive force, nepotism more easily occurs with every single candidate having been connected to their predecessor. Here she was, showing up for the leader of Oyus when others decided to shirk their duties.

Those around the table shook their heads in disgust, while Alcorn remained unphased by Kuntz’s statement-her report. “There is only one official that has an excuse to not attend this essential cabinet meeting If this is how it is going to be, then their fate is clear within this new era.” Several ministers were also absent, leaving deputies loyal to the law and with familiarity with Alcorn to attend rather than their respective heads. Many of them were not of Oyussard descent, either. Obscure faces with long time experience within the department much like Kuntz. The Tagmatine from the Ministry of Urban Development. The Galahindan from the Ministry of Finance. The Fulgistani siblings from the Ministry of Preservation & Resources and the Ministry of Energy, among a select few others. Only the Ministers of Culture, Health, Labour, and Welfare were present. Rather uncomfortable by where they sat. 

The non-native faces nodded in agreement with the new Queen. With the National Congress suspended, ministers missing in action, and an angry populace; Alcorn would appoint these new loyalists to replace them. “For those having put our countrypeople over petty politics, I appoint you all to replace your disgraced superiors and expect you to assume immediate responsibility over your respective ministry.” While at the end of the day the Matriarch may do as she pleases if she feels necessary, a more official route taken is the equivalent of a recess appointment. Given the status of the National Congress, it amounts to a permanent one that requires no consultation but with herself. Much of the cabinet has been sacked. It was a point Alcorn was hoping to make before moving along to the subject most dire at present.

“The ANF has begun gearing up to make a sizable stand in the Secretarial Lands.” The Adisi Nationalist Front. Over time, it grew in numbers especially in the Oyussard lands administered by the National Secretary. Overnight, with the announcement of Maisie becoming the heir apparent, and again when she ascended the throne, their numbers soared. A chief reason for it were the theories being peddled. It was a radical change. Unlike in previous times, foreign-descent residency increased exponentially and there were almost equal parts foreign descent as there were indigenous Oyussards. For some, this was too much. A prevailing nationalist sentiment emerged amongst many. The ANF took advantage, once a small fringe group that carried out terror plots, it became more. While only seeming to be a small threat under the reign of Eka, it will be Alcorn’s primary test before being able to advance her goals.

“It is meaningless, dependent on the standing of those within the Self Defense Force. Do we have an inkling of what the average soldier feels on this?” she queried the newly minted Minister. If there were infighting within the Self Defense Force, then it would be prudent that the majority of the Self Defense Force assets remained under the control of the Matriarchy should some defect to side with the ANF and potential allies in what could be an armed struggle. If there was unity, then the fires could be put out more quickly and just minor nuisances. That, however, would be wishful thinking. Kuntz had a pulse on the officers and rank-and-file within the force and their opinions were divided mostly on ethnic lines: were they native to Oyus? Perhaps this is an attempt for the outside wurld to quietly seize power as Endor Miramil alleges. Were they descended from another group entirely? Perhaps it's just a little bit of a different take, in the end it's verified and all legal. The division was high and Kuntz explained as much. “We have had the benefit and luxury of luck on our side that something has not occurred sooner. It is only a matter of time, I fear, that something will break the force. We must be on the winning side of that.” the Commodore and now Minister of Self Defense & Security explained.  

Alcorn stood and spoke,”I do not disagree. Everyone, I thank you all for coming. You are all dismissed. By coming to this meeting in place of your disgraced, former superiors, you have shown your true loyalty to the Matriarch Eternal. There is plenty of work to be done that lays ahead.” she approached Kuntz and the two would exit, walking down a corridor to a private chamber to discuss the more intricate details of what had to be done. While previous staff from the Miarys proved some loyalty by showing to the cabinet meeting, she did not want to play into the hand of an agent should there be one. After all, it can be the people you would least expect who ascribe to Miramil’s beliefs.The two women sat, Kuntz taking the pitcher rushed in by an aide to pour two glasses of water. 

“I would like you to bring the fleet into Dorcha and have a trusted skeleton crew aboard. The reason they are all coming is to ensure the safety and security of this transition of change, all hands will be needed on the isles.” Kuntz nodded in response. Alcorn had a more serious, less welcoming posture. It was like that of a Fearann Senator. Serious, and as if they know nothing of ‘humor’. It was not unfamiliar to her-to Kuntz. She had seen it before with Maisie as she learned and gathered more. In crucial moments, Maisie would be clear and ensure there was no missing what she wanted done. In the face of potential civil war, this will likely not be the last of her signature alternate side of her. Alcorn continued,”Anyone that does not want to be a part of this new order can graciously submit their resignation and accept a fair retirement package for not being a mutinous nuisance. I could care less if some defect. What matters is we do not lose the fleet. So long as the fleet remains within our control and under close guard, we can ensure security.”

Minister Kuntz nodded once more with understanding of what the parameters of her mission were. Kuntz took a gulp from the glass of water before standing and saluted the Queen. Her friend. Before she could depart, Alcorn stopped her, her hand raised. “I congratulate, Kora. You have long been due such a promotion. I trust you will get it done, my friend.” she said, saluting her in return.

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

Descent in Dissent

“Europans shall one day rue the day they ever came within visual distance of the New Wurld. From the heavens and from the Hell beneath them, the New Wurld will remove Europan influences under one indigenous banner with every tool at its disposal.”

-- Endor Miramil, Leader of the Adisi Nationalist Front

Dated May 29th, 2020

An envelope. A weathered manila envelope, with permanent marker ink written on it. Beneath an overpass it lay ever so out of place, yet to no one but himself would be down there purposefully. He undid the clasp and took out its contents as a vehicle zoomed across the overpass above him, the tires treading through rainwater. A folded bag? A note? It was all rather peculiar. ‘Put on the bag and take a deep breath. Or else.’ It was suddenly dark with a bag over his head. A bag that smells sweet, yet like some sort of chemical. It did not make much sense to him as to why this was something he had to do. In all the madness, he committed to it unquestionably, ever so characteristically. Everything in due time would return to normal, as the entire - plop. Darkness and then light.

“Kol Tala. I recall a conversation we had a great length ago. ‘The Matriarchy will never, in its more dire hour, glance in your direction.’ you said so confidently. I believed it, too. Here we sit within the same room, once more.”

Endor Miramil, the esteemed and elusive leader of the Adisi Nationalist Front. Long a thorn, though miniscule, in the side of the Matriarchy. After making peace with the “Communist insurgents” the Matriarchy quietly looked to hush out Miramil’s group in the same manner rather than having to deal with the collateral damage over time. Little did the Matriarchy realize, however, the doctrine of the ANF resonated better with it's membership than the manifesto of the CPO. They were not so easy to disband and dissuade, and be paraded around as another PR win for the benevolent Kera and her corrupted governance. In the eyes of the ANF, it was only a matter of time before the true Oyussards would be sickened by the changes made in a New Wurld nation by Old Wurld migrants.

Tala tasked himself with having the roundtable discussions with the ANF. Within the first day of them, it was clear that the ANF only gained from wasting the Matriarchy’s time sitting around there. If nothing else, for four days straight, carrots were dangled in front of the negotiators, only to be pulled back at the end of the day. Only amateurs couldn’t have seen through it, and looking back, many in that room were but Miramil and his lieutenants. They were lucky Miramil’s pride was blinding for him to have pulled a fast and quick peace deal out of the Matriarchy as it very well could have happened. Though, perhaps that would have been preferable to where the Hand of the Kera stood now. Not only figuratively, but perhaps physically as well he would have to be on his hands and knees and beg for Miramil’s help.

“I heard a rumor from your little throne room that despite your appearance, you were no leader but just a follower trying to get a taste to be one. One without skill for it.” Miramil had the high ground upon an altar in what appeared to be an abandoned temple. The prideful man’s face lit by the flicker of torches - rather cliché some would reckon. He came down from his perch to be close and personal with Tala. Nodding to Tala’s guarded escorts, they undid his wrist bindings and stepped back from the two men facing each other. “Why should I aid a sheep? I am my own wolf-a leader. I certainly don’t need your endorsement now.”

Miramil was correct. Tala at the end of the day, was still relatively new to the government and the public as a whole. He couldn’t be a real face of the movement. As far as everyone was told, and as Tala knew for sure, the now former Kera is unable to do her job. Cabinet secretaries with offshore ties have jumped ship and most officials that could serve as real leaders to oppose this supposed illegal seizure have either gone with it or didn’t wish to be a part of the government any longer. Only Miramil, and a small few others could be a realistic opposition. Both of them knew this. It dawned upon Tala what Miramil truly wanted: a bloodier ascension akin to that of Yulaa’s. A revolutionary turned statesman that ousted the despicable maligned forces actively influencing the government.

Staying close to Miramil and using him to restore the legitimacy of the Matriarchy can help us dispense of him later on, he thought to himself. Give in to his fantasies and delusions of grandeur as a second coming of Yulaa. A more bloodied one. The exiled government aligned with the ANF, a force gaining traction with the people ‘that mattered,’ and joint-denounce Alcorn’s ascension would be the best tool that they had in battling Alcorn’s newfound grip on the nation. Calling it out as a coup d’etat, as it was in the eyes of the exiled. All the while keeping a close eye on their adversary and hostile nuisances in groups like Miramil’s. There may be moral issues with permitting them so close to the throne and scepter, but the alternative would be the ‘convincing’ and ‘lawful’ take over of Oyus by outsiders with little understanding for her people-sooner or later.

“Everything that has been said could be true about me, Endor. I still know this regardless: even as capable as the ANF is at this moment, an endorsement only hurts the devious leopard on our throne.” This left Miramil to silently ponder. Depending on how the cake was sliced, it could be interpreted that way by the people. Alcorn, even if under alleged authorization by the revered founder to be where she is, would be rather out of place to potential allies. Not to mention, in a moment of revolution, should the domestic terror group gain significant control over parts of Oyus, they’re not geared for governing them whilst fending off Alcorn’s ‘loyalists’. By aligning with each other, it could repair the image of the exiles in exchange for keeping the ANF focused on doing what it knows best: causing a stir for the establishment. The would be establishment in the Alcorn matriarchy, that is. A point that Tala drove home with Miramil before he could reply.

“If your friends can keep order and worry of the external factors such as interventionists attempting to intervene, I suppose you would have a place in our circle. We have no outstanding necessity, but we shall not pass the opportunity to end this sooner than later.” Exactly what Tala was looking for Miramil to understand: A protracted conflict would certainly invite an international community to intervene and interject with their own ideas on what a post-war Oyus would look like if it were to deter from its previous form in all the worst possible ways. If the people can see the lack of support the new monarch has and if it is brought to heel quickly, there wouldn’t be enough leeway for any side to have international partners. The only question now, with Miramil accepting this fact and thereby a government they have long criticized before: at what cost would it come with collaborating with what once were considered to them as zealous terrorists to ‘take back their country’ from evil and foreign influence? Ideally, in a better spot, they would be able to ditch Miramil as he is hoping to, but there also stands a chance that the ANF continues to hold more clout to enact their own views at the end of this crisis, with a radical at the helm nonetheless.

“I’d suggest you move along, Mr. Tala. Our wheels will with or without your governing cogs. There is no time to consider the vision of the future when it remains in flux and must be seized.” He was right, and perhaps he ought not to make it so apparent how uneasy he was about the alliance and the future ahead just with facial expression. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Paint Her Black

"I don't take issue with the peoples of beyond. I detest such a characterizationof myself, or Oyusards. The wurld is filled with diverse, beautiful, people of different cultures. I take displeasure with their misguided governments that wish to do harm and selfishly have the wurld serve their ruling class' wants rather than focus on serving the needs of their people. Oyus is a sanctuary for all."

-- Kera Yulaa, Founder of the Matriarchy, 1977

Dated June 3rd, 2020

As reforms continued to be drafted, closed door meetings were routinely held, orders came down from Minister Kuntz for all Oyusard Naval ships to dock in Naval Station Dorcha or Naval Station Grafenstein. There were reports that the Queen wished to inspect the state of the Oyusard fleet to assess herself whether ships were in tip top shape. The manner in which she requested it be done was rather unusual, however. Not only would her and the minister walk the fleet, but the majority of the armed forces would go through security exercises before going to reinforce various different parts of the nation. A small number would be placed on administrative leave. Certainly, it wouldn’t be a tall order, though. Every member of the Oyusard Navy had to go through physical training as well as arms training regularly. It was still the most bizarre, unheard of set of orders ever heard of for a standing force. The standing force of Oyus, at least.

“Your identification, please.” the officer queried of the young soldier. From a transparent breast pocket, the young man slipped out a card with an ever more youthful face printed on it than his current one. Some within the force joked that he looked underage and secretly slipped in due to some backdoor deals. It couldn’t have been further from the truth, though this wouldn’t be noted by the sailor sitting in front of him as they took his card and inserted it into a device that would scan it. Bloop, it went, the color of the screen shining on the officer’s face in the dim light of the outdoors. As the officer scrolled and sifted through windows, they would say nothing giving an uncomfortable silence between the two. It was rather odd the manner in which they had decided to also have everyone disembark. Nothing like before, but some merely suggested it had everything to do with the fact that it was regime change, and nothing more.

The officer stood and motioned for the young man to follow, handing back his identification card. They marched through the naval station to a small battered building. The officer tapped his identification against a card reader which promptly popped open the door to this venue. He held it for the young man, offering him entrance and closing the door behind the young man. There was some murmuring as other service members sat, faced by a podium. A rare appearance of a Limited Marines officer in their jungle camouflage fatigues brought the room to silence.The OLM wasn’t often seen or heard from. Their base of operations was just outside of Port Dorcha in the east, formally known as the Alon Infantry Central Installation and informally dubbed ‘the Garrison.’

With a click from the back, only the emissions of the projector keep the room dimly lit. The officer adjusted a microphone and tested it some before electing not to use it altogether, instead raising their voice to compensate. “Gentlepeople, welcome back to the homeland.” he said, a phrase that is seemingly becoming more common within Oyusard society. He annoyingly paced in front of the projector, his face overlaid with the white screen emitted from it. “Let me be blunt: our new fearless leader has concerns with permitting the Adisi Nationalist Front roaming freely. They are not exactly keen on her complexion, thus empowering them as of late. Not only are they manipulating our confused countrypeople-” Again, with that term. “-they are trying to corrupt your fellow soldiers into defecting for their cause.” The young man thought this ramble, unusual and peculiar for any given officer, was rather unnecessary and it continued on and on in what could be brought down to a handful of words: The ANF have never been a bigger threat and the Matriarchy will ensure that something will be done about it.

“It is of our utmost concern that we snuff out any attempts at sabotage. Be vigilant, report anything suspicious. We cannot allow them to have even a semblance of a chance at dividing us.” Odd thing to say, considering the approach in which they were taking. Truth be told there wasn’t any given reason they needed for all this to play out this way at all. The Navy could go on and on and on about what should or shouldn’t be done. Word had gotten around quickly that there are several meetings like these to be conducted throughout the day. In the view of our sailor they would be entirely pointless.  It was just white noise as the sailor zoned out into his mind to consider what he would do now that he would be back home with his family soon. Whatever is going on will blow over soon enough.

The OLM officer salutes and everyone stands as they are dismissed. At last, the end of this unnecessary forum. The officer comes up to our sailor and queries, “Petty Officer, I have been told you have something to bring to my attention?” He didn’t know the half of it. Just as the officer droned on about something meaningless, our sailor could have droned on about what he had to tell him. However, this urge had to be resisted. Brief and professional, Petty Officer.

“Captain, with due respect, I believe upstairs is giving a little too much credit to the Front. If you will allow me to, I can expand on what I mean by that, sir.”

“Please do.”

“The Front before all this was… just some small band of criminals that thought themselves something more. Not many people actually buy into their rhetoric, not any within our age anyways. Almost all of us are young folks and… we have grown to love our fellow countrypeople as if they were any other individual. I would be more concerned with our elders who have departed than some of us enlisted guys. Whatever politics happens is sort of above our paygrade, anyhow. Sir.”

The OLM Captain considered this. He himself wasn’t exactly very old. He had just turned 30, after all. All his life, and even more so for the Petty Officer, they have only known serenity and sanctuary with people from around the wurld, from all corners of Eurth. The idea that someone who is as much of an Oyusard as they were in modern day couldn’t rule due to their ancestral origins seemed sort of preposterous, even if the circumstances it came to be seemed rather off. Rather suspicious. The Captain nodded and sighed.

* * *

There had to be a mere 100 men outside, in their background, exercising for the plans to be set forth in motion. In truth, they were also meant to provide a way to further those in this meeting to go along with the ANF. All around the table a group of faces familiar to Oyus sat around the table, or connected via a secure encrypted line with their face plastered on a shoddy screen from the last decade. Now former ministers and ambassadors all assembled to meet here. Tala was determined to get a unified front against the new regime. Every detail mattered to arrange this meeting. Miramil saw that there was merit to it and assured of his attendance. He didn’t care for how it opened and started out.

Of course, the lackeys of old that ignorantly allowed the current situation of the ascension of a foreign monarch and a corrupted governing of the people would be too busy and to concerned how they would be able to return to the public eye and continue to exact influence while lining their minds with dopamine from being part of the ruling class once more. He couldn’t have cared less for their selfish desires. The former Minister of Culture detested the idea of overhauling the government at the suggestion of Tala, who said it could very well be the card they’d have to play in order for them to correct course after ‘The Corrupt Revelations’ as it was being dubbed by the nation. Once more, counting eggs before they hatch is what Endor saw. While he was confident in being able to pull off what was considered a pipe dream some weeks ago, he was no dull knife in the drawer either. They weren’t in control. They’re not even close to the steps of the throne. Debating over who shall dust it was but a waste of their time. 

“Minister, I am going to interrupt you. It delights me to see you are committed to turning a new page for our country, our glorious nation, but this means nothing until we are crowned victors, and the foreign pretenders running tail between the legs.”

The former official was visibly aghast but verbally silenced by this. Miramil saw that time would be better put to use by demonstrating more than a mere semblance of a plan the group had. It was rather brilliant, he felt. The ANF is just a small buzzing fly to the Matriarchy, that’s all it would be to them. As such, the Front could continue to operate under the radar until their inevitable unraveling began, by which point it would be too late. Miramil had to strike at the Matriarchy, a glorious show of force to prove themselves to those on the fence of joining them, and the many more supporting them. In doing so, it also must prepare itself for its future growth. Thus, two birds with stone could be accomplished with the planned mission: Seize the National Stockpile, the nation’s last defense and expansive arsenal to arm the population in the face of potential invasion. It would provide with enough supplies to keep them well equipped to the end, letting it be able to ask for other prized aid from potential donors to their cause rather than arms. He explained it to them with sureness in his tone, certainty of success.

“Their arsenal is criminally understaffed. Token resistance. We have the manpower to create a notable scene and make with us easy plunder.”

“Then we could take their emptied fleet standing idly in Port Dorcha and Grafenstein, I’d presume?”

What? That didn’t quite make sense at all. There wouldn’t be any given reason at all that the fleet was brought in from sea. There couldn’t have been much else to surprise him than this. Nonetheless, what the adviser suggested would be the natural course of action, and he quickly agreed with him. Once armed, the fleet in its vulnerable stance rather than relying on potential recruits within the Navy to turn on their commanders and mutiny in the name of the ANF, they could be seized directly by Miramil and his merry band of liberationists. It still stuck with him that they acted in this way. The masses are not yet that riled up. Raw, perhaps from having to deal with the Revelations, but not insulted enough to march out crowd control. Yet, it couldn’t have been because they sized the ANF bigger than they actually were or Miramil has intentionally tried to portray the group.

“Well stated my brother. The fleet is just ready for the taking. It will only snowball from here.”

Tala took the moment to turn and offer the political posturing that could take place in the meantime. Former members of the government that resigned in protest could release statements in support of the Front, or at the very least leak to the press that they likely support the movement. Let the Revelations be a minor consideration buried in the fact that foreigners are attempting to influence domestic affairs and something more is afoot. Acona’s serenity and sanctuary is threatened by their occupation of the government. If left alone, the fate of the nation would be far worse, surely, than if left in that who preceded them. That seemed to be the ideal way to frame it. And so long as they agreed to it, which some seemed to be okay with in principle, it could be enough to further effectively chip away at Alcorn’s soon to be brief reign.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sharp Are Her Claws

“Your Excellency, it is only cat-and-mouse for us if the ANF proves to be adept as revolutionaries.”

-- Ruslim Fai, Assistant Minister of Internal Security

Dated June 5th, 2020

Some sort of odd tropical take on elevator music played over the airport intercom. Would you call it tropical jazz? What genre even is elevator music? Whatever it was called, it was what was on queue as the young woman tapped her foot while the rental clerk in front of her continued to scroll down the screen of their computer. It was a business formal outfit for her: color coordinated coat and skirt with a white blouse and hair done in a low bun. Her face added to what her foot was doing: not only was she anxious but she was also painfully annoyed. What could the clerk be sitting on? ‘My company has DEADLINES TO MEET!’ she wanted to scream at them. However, she knew better than to do that. She wasn’t about to cause a commotion. No, no. That wouldn’t be any good. Her ‘company’ would be furious over her loss of cool. She’d be ‘fired’. A project down the drain because of a minor road bump.

The click-clack of the keyboard, the ceaseless death scroll, all seemed to have stopped as the clerk looked in her direction. “Ms. Greer-McNeil,” the clerk projected his voice in her direction. The name was very… Fearann… she couldn’t get over how of all names that it had to be this one. It couldn’t have been something sweeter and natural. It had to be a hyphen. “You’re free to move along. Here are the keys to your vehicles and apologies for the inconvenience. We hope you have a j-Oyus day and continue to use YourCar in the future.” Greer-McNeil, if that even is a real name, nodded and thanked the clerk and swept the keys off the counter and into a manila envelope. Walking out to the flat asphalt lot into the sea of perfectly colored rental vehicles, some just as formally dressed older men met and strode out with her. “What took so long in there, Kai? It was just some stupid paperwork you had to turn in to them. YourCar isn’t exactly very well known to check or double check.” he kept rattling off on how the time she was at the YourCar desk was suspicious and unnecessary and chiefly put the team behind schedule. Kai didn’t choose to say anything until she was in the driver’s seat of a generic passenger van, driver’s window down and sunglasses now upon her face.

“Don’t ‘Kai’ me. I’m not the one who decided I should impersonate some Fearann-descent businesswoman whose credit card is stolen. I was ensuring I didn’t stick out more than necessary.” The driver’s side window would conclude their brief exchange as wheels moved forward and a convoy of similar vans would follow behind her. All strung up over something that was bound to happen when you place such a large reservation. If Miramil simply would have focused efforts on grabbing some professional car thieves in equal supply as whatever the hell she was dealing with - con men? - then there would be no hold up at a rental desk where even a shady rental company may raise its eyebrow for a moment. So much for being shady. Still, all that mattered was the task at hand: forward into the wilderness they had to go. There was a mission to be accomplished and Kai Innes was certainly not going to allow Lonites tell her what is and isn’t, what should and shouldn’t be.

It would be their luck, too, that they had less time than believed. At a desk somewhere in an administrative building in the Yulaa Capital District, a phone would ring off the hook as a manager of the YourCar location of the Vaovaohitra International Airport reported that a supposed client had stolen and impersonated a businesswoman and charged their credit card for a mass amount of vehicle reservations. Whatever plans the ANF have for the day are not going to go as planned, even if it will take some time for this information to climb the ladder and be acted upon.

“Do we know what she looks like?” the desk agent queried

“Why in Acona would we? It’s not like we are known for security, here. We just aren’t going to be facilitators of criminal syndicates, either.”

It could have been classified as a Seylosian eyeroll as the desk agent couldn’t believe his ears and slammed the receiver down, shuffling off to begin the bureaucratic dive into Yulaa. From this supervisor to that supervisor. Faxes-wait how is there even paper involved? Nevermind, no time. Faxes were printed, photocopied, re-photocopied, and stuffed into manila folders and then stuffed into leather document folders whilst Agent Cockburn kept wondering how he couldn’t simply just cut to the chase and have the Assistant Minister over Security be fully informed so that the Assistant Minister could take it to the Cabinet directly that the ANF is probably on the move. How long has it been? Three hours? Four? A wrist watch check shows it somehow has been an eternity of only two hours. Surely whatever the ANF was up to is more in swing than if they- nevermind. A door swung open wide. The look on his supervisor’s face said everything they needed to know: mission accomplished.

As an alert was sent out to government posts of high value targets across the nation, the clock was ticking for the Front. Tick tock tick tock, little did they know. They had arrived to a more remote area outside of Vaovaohitra, in the middle of some woods. The security seemed a little more skittish from Kai’s observation. Now, she knew it had to be go time. The guards were on alert, and it was either now or never. Innes turned in the direction of her Front colleagues and made some hand motions. Pop. Splat. A guard was downed, and the rest scrambled as a flurry of bullets was unleashed upon the security forces of the National Stockpile. After what seemed like a copious amount of ammunition was fired upon the facility’s first line of defense, Innes motioned once more to her colleagues: a pair of them with bulging pockets made their way to the front entrance, plopping what looked to be explosive devices on them and then taking a dash away from the door and watched as post-detonation and dust settled, a hole the size of a couple of their vehicles was open. Room enough to do double duty.

More popping. Kai looked to the direction it came from and more guards were downed. The team was doing their job, looking out for hostiles. They would continue, too, as the vehicles began to queue themselves and the Front began to fill them with arms. As they did so, Innes had to look inside for herself, only to realize something: this was not the arsenal that many purported it to be. While the size and dimensions fit the bill, the contents didn’t. It didn’t seem right. It felt… off. There had to be more, surely. If this was the famed National Stockpile, it had to have had more than what was present to protect the citizenry of Oyus. No, it didn’t make sense at all.

“You seem puzzled.” It was one of the boys again.

“There should be more.” The frustration was heavy in her tone,”How could there be this little? We are talking about the need to distribute millions of arms to defend some 10, 13 million Oyusards.”

“So, politicians lie. It is not as if we need that many, just enough to fit our-” and he was cut off by being cut through by bullets.

Another flurry of bullets, only it was aimed at them rather than the other way around. How? Perhaps, there was some degree of awareness something would occur from what the ANF was up to, but not so well pinned down and so easily accessible. The mission, with so little having been loaded into their convoy, was already at risk of failing. It wouldn’t be enough to take solely what they had and would take more to overcome their adversary now that it would put the Matriarchy on higher alert for any future confrontation. Yet, staying to just get a little more may hamstring them and they’d only end up being prisoners, or worse: dead. Whilst it was a given that death was possible, the ANF needed every hand in such a crucial moment. Does she stay? Does she go?

Orders are barked out to the men. Begin closing up and return fire. They were rolling out. Better to come away with something than a blood stained clothes and a new pair of bracelets. Engines are frantically started, doors slammed down on their trucks. Rather than having a quick smash and grab with a convoy of seven trucks filled to the brim, it would be with two fairly filled and one to transport the men. The first truck would hustle out and go in one direction, only for the second to go in another. Kai drove away from the scene as fast as she could while looking back in the mirrors hoping to see the third truck pull away. For a moment, she was relieved to see it begin moving until a chopper came down and several Limited Marines disembarked surrounded the vehicle. They may as well have perished trying to load one more truck, because they had lost more manpower than they should have. It was the sigh she knew that may have come out from her, but it wasn’t all the better. Within inches, this mission was a total failure and it was certainly a disaster. 

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  • 5 months later...

Paint Her Gold

‘Kol Tally-Ho! New details of the disgraced adviser’s predatory lifestyle’ 

-- Cover of the Lunar Daily

Dated June 11th, 2020

It felt like a scene from a Game of Crowns. It had to have plenty of significance that Secretary Tiady would choose, of all places, the Southern Hall for this meeting to take place. Grafenstein’s well known wannabe Dolchic King constructed it to remind him that he was ever worthy of being the one to reign. He would be in charge one day. Though it never came to be, it remains a hall that anyone would mistake as having been owned by true royalty. It was cavernous. The walls towered over, the ceiling raised by ornate columns. A well crafted wooden chair, upholstered in a deep maroon look upon those who approached it. In all of its grandeur, however, it lacked some things that you would expect a true throne room to have. It was dimly lit. In fact it only had a single window where light could shine down, right upon the would-be leader.

“To whom do I owe this pleasure? Is that you, Hand Tala?” the voice carried throughout the hall. Kol looked up at the Secretary as he approached him but would stop with Haja’s hand gesture. He always knew that the Secretary had a taste for aesthetic and subtlety. The light shined upon his face. Poetic for the man of the people. It was like the Gods themselves had chosen him to lead his people. Perhaps, it would also take Gods to prevent this from snowballing in the wrong way. While a challenge, it only looked like everything could go right until the debacle in the north. Now, any chance of avoiding a long term guerrilla war that inevitably ends in a worse way than the CPO’s is beginning to disappear. Chances weren’t great anymore.

“The Kera would appreciate you taking our call. The True Kera.” Kol’s words reverberated even more than Tiady’s. The air was stiff for a time, despite what the visual signs would say.  Something was not-

“Of course. I understood the generosity we were afforded. A generosity your new friend could never understand. I can only hope to return the favor.” Tiady’s words were warm and rather welcoming, even with the sideswipe at the alliance the exiled had chosen. Kol nodded. It was promising. And only fair. After all that they did for the CPO, the least they could do is not only hear them out but also lend a helping hand. Surely, that wouldn’t be much of an ask. Surely, the CPO could see how they could stand to benefit.

“I won’t waste your time, Secretary Tiady.” He paused momentarily before continuing, ”Haja, this regime is illegitimate. I don’t think I need to explain how you can stand to benefit from this if you aided us. We can give you what they never will: independence.” Haja seemed unfazed by the mention of independence. It puzzled Kol as he continued on to explain the benefits and risk and reward required. This is what the CPO had fought for. Suddenly they are to be gifted their prize if they make the small commitment to help the ANF and the exiled government make a stand. Two sides that would never have cared to help each other together at last. Sides that do proclaim to be for the peoples of Oyus. Was it the bloodshed that Haja feared?

“This is all very interesting, Kol. Sadly, we don’t exactly have a stockpile of yesteryear. That wouldn’t be an issue to source would it?” Perhaps Kol misread Haja. His question certainly displayed to him that there was interest in doing the right thing. All may not have been lost.

“There are stores here that aren’t known to anyone. With the supply from there, we can take the fleet in harbor now under our control and the stockpile in the north. The combined manpower-”

Haja suddenly was no longer so warm and quick to cut off Kol.

“You mean the stores of arms we already have?”

* * *

June 2nd, 2020

It wasn’t often that Morlavitra was of such concern to anyone, anywhere. Much less, that the CPO’s own Haja Tiady would even be worthy of recognition by anyone outside of the south. The south often considered and dubbed itself “The Forgotten Isle” for its seeming quiet nature in the national discussion. Over time, it has hurt itself by having been so quiet. One of the many reasons it is truly Oyus’ forgotten people. Yet, through all the pain of being ignored outright, they stood by their brothers and sisters of the north who spoke louder and prouder. It was a surprise for Tiady to be in Yulaa. He did not envision himself setting foot here, ever. Too close to the source of all that was wrong, he would tell others. It was why the talks, when they came, were in Morlavitra. It meant little to the Matriarchy and everything to him.

Why was it that Tiady was here on this rainy afternoon? The typical weather of the capital this time of year. It was, after all, monsoon season. He was ready to decline the invitation from the Matriarchy, until he was told by others to reconsider. He considered it in the way they said he should have. It must have been something positive if the new Matriarch was beckoning for their small band of activists to come speak with them when there was so much on their plate. There is no way of knowing unless you are going. A phrase from the Fearann that he treasured and many around him cooed to remind him of his principles.

Haja was guided to a part he had never figured he would grace in the palace. He couldn’t help but admire the modesty of the Keral residence. It is what you would hope to see in a benevolent monarch’s residence. Yulaa lived every bit of what she espoused, as did her successor.  The walls were bare. The furnishing is rather simple. It could have been something you picked up at a local market… in the Secretarial lands.

“Mr. Tiady. I am honored you accepted my invitation.” A young woman took her place across from him overlooking the square the palace sat upon. The rain had let up and the sun shined through. A fervent believer in how life could be poetic, superstitious others may say, Tidy took note of his surroundings and the weather. The timing and the physical climate with the political one. It would seem to show that there was hope to be found here with some patience. The young woman could have elected to be in full regalia or something in between, too. Instead, she felt like an equal in a blazer just as he was. A queen that knows their audience.

“Your Excellency, it came as a surprise, though a rather welcome one.Often, we are overlooked for our history. From the Dolchic Slave encampment to my organization’s struggles to further southerners: there is little respect for Morlavitra and its brothers and sisters.”

“I understand, Mr. Tiady. Truthfully. I was nothing more than another pretty face that happened to be linked to wealth and everything ‘wrong’ with Feroys (Fearann descended Oyusards). Even to my best efforts, carrying out my work I was merely another Feroy with some sort of Galahindan attitude to the underprivileged.”

“Little do they realize, not everything they read in The Lunar Daily is true of us.” he remarks, the two of them chuckling and clinking glasses together, “I think I have won Lunatic of the Week, twice?”

“I believe I have won it thrice.” she replied, shaking her head, before pausing. “I will cut to the chase. While every ‘column’ in the Portman’s Daily should be taken with a grain of salt, it is true what they say. We want there to be unity and it takes us all to come together right now. The CPO included. In this new era, it must have a larger voice in our nation and it starts by trusting each other. I wish to appoint you Secretary of the South.”

Unexpected. Never would he have expected someone from the CPO to ascend such a position of power, not in the current generation at least. In truth, the Matriarchy wouldn’t need their support. They would manage just fine without it. Surely, unless of course she thought the ANF could win out. That there would be revolts with their rhetoric despite the demographics otherwise. He spoke up to which Maisie hesitated to reply to this, looking to choose her words carefully. It was clear he saw through some of the reasoning for her to make this offer. Maisie for all she treasured her get to the point approach at times saw that it had its weaknesses and without some care. Without gently leading to the point of the meeting, she puts herself at risk ensnaring herself in the truth under a different lens. 

“That is not what matters here. We must forge a better future and whether we agree upon policy or not, we must have counters to our ideas so that they may work for everyone. Sure, it would help to be united as a front now so that the Nationalist Front looks like they are conspiracy theorists throwing in with the corruption. It also matters to include everyone possible from the beginning.” Undoubtedly he could not help feeling that her response was deflecting from what he saw was part of why she asked him there: militia support from the south if there were a true conflict to take the isles. The ideals of the party aren’t exactly held highly or respected by most anyone in the mainstream. Even so, sincerity was found in her voice. Perhaps, it would all just be a terrible attempt for the corruption to make an argument that this is all an illegitimate sham. 

“There is no guarantee we will win in any election. I’m not sure Oyusards have the taste for that.”

“Perhaps. In the end, I know that I can guarantee that the outcome will be in your favor. Becoming Secretary obligates nothing of you, but there is certainly more ahead for your organization… your party in Oyussa. Should you choose to welcome it.”

He was pushed and pressed to take this meeting. The sun shined down upon them on a day filled with rain. There was commonality in the least of places and acknowledgment of his cause. Lux was nowhere to be found here. And for this reason he could not just merely accept her invitation and appointment. He had to consider her a potential partner, or at the least, someone that would permit them a true forum and platform.

* * *

How could it be that they already had stores of arms? Few had knowledge of them. The energy radiating from his southern acquaintance wasn’t right at all. No longer was it of curiosity and indicative of potentially an open mind, but like that of strength. His face showed some disgust. As the silence continued, the 5 steps away that Tiady was shrunk as he came just a step away-a step ahead of the adviser. He placed his hand on Kol’s shoulder, patting his left arm.

“I am done with fighting, brother. I fought the good fight and I thank you for elevating our cause.”

“Haja, you cannot seriously support an illegitimate Feroy? They only care for themselves, and in time-”

“Mr. Tala, was it not you who verified that it could only be that she was the legitimate heir until otherwise dictated by our Kera, as set out by our first?”

“I may have been mistaken-”

“It’s hard to see it as a genuine mistake as you wish us to believe. My people have trouble seeing it that way. I don’t believe you to be someone who is like Miramil or like some of the Feroys our leader gets pinned to be. Misguided. Power hungry. Corrupted. The nation, though, sees it differently.”

From the shadows, crept out armed members of the CPO. However, they were not in militia uniform. No, they were ordained in the uniform of the National Police of the Southern Isle. It was a mistake to have come alone. Yet, he did. Here he was with the kind of cuffs he didn’t expect to adorn ever.  

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Loud Is Her Roar

“I hope that those who grace this house know it is not their house, but that of Acona. I hope they understand that neither evil nor mediocrity will be welcome in her home. She will not hesitate to say so.”
-- Queen Haesbich

Dated June 12th, 2020

If the mythology of Oyussa’s first government building were to be true, they who held it could only be the true leader of the isles. It is said in folklore that Queen Haesbich from the Queendom of Acona (aka The Aconite Queendom or Aconite Isles) partook in a ritual in which any that dared to control it had to have the best of intentions, or perish if they continued to rule from it. Some of the lesser leaders of Oyussa always found themselves killed or abdicating because of their faults, and many believe it is because they were not true of heart. While the ‘rationally minded’ would say there were other reasons besides superstition and curses for the downfall of those unlucky to have taken residence in this palace, to have reigned from it, most believed there had to be some bit of truth to the folklore behind it. Any native descent opponent of course would be quick to consider using this to their advantage. Including Endor Miramil.

Miramil had the good sense that Haja Tiady, as friendly and close as he may have been with the Former Hand of the Matriarch, wouldn’t be so dense as to pass on turning in a political fugitive for a chip in his favor. It was his hope that this, if anything, served as a well enough distraction to take The Haesbich House. In the eyes of Miramil, his existence alone with the limited successes of defiance showed that taking the House would illustrate to enough people nationwide that Alcorn was no true Queen regardless of legality. Acona disapproves of her reign over her people; the natural law is what will win the day. The act of her becoming the Matriarch swayed enough people to his cause if not physically, ideologically, to eventually keep her hands off the isles.

Mistakes were made some kilometres away just a short time ago, when they attempted to seize one of the most well known secretly hidden stockpiles of arms in all the wurld. From the start, they had begun at a disadvantage. This time would be different. Nothing says authenticity more than having employees that maintain the Haesbich House handing you the keys to their vehicles. They’d hand over the keys to the House if they could have, too. The vans and details of uniforms were just enough. Scouts organized by the Adisi Nationalist Front thus descended upon the House to scope out what security measures had to be circumvented in the black and with minimal natural light to assist. It didn’t take much, either. It was a historic monument furnished as a museum. It’s allure was its mythology and significance and not artifacts like a true museum, as such it was protected in that way.

“The systems have been temporarily disabled. We have been cleared to begin shuttling over. Let’s move it folks.” 

The voice was that of a familiar lieutenant. Her long black mane was quite recognizable to anyone familiar with Innes. If you weren’t aware of her position within the Front, you would know she was that position from description and intellect, not just another citrus farmer like others within. Not another lowly street rat with a strong ideology. Within the OIC, they oft sang high praises of their adversary. They would quicker request a conditional pardon for her if it meant they could have her as opposed to being challenged by her. If Miramil knew that, perhaps he would have more respect for his once unwavering lieutenant. She did, waver especially with recent events. The humiliation of being attached to the failure of the previous engagement the Front had put her under a negative light. Barely, was she permitted to run this operation as opposed to a pretender that could stand to kill the cause with a simple mistake. Of course, it had to come with a short leash.

Upon arrival, the handful in charge of aiding the clearing of the building got out while one of the scouts hopped into the passenger seat of the van as Innes returned to bring more over to brief her. They weren’t your typical trench fighters. They were the geeky kids who could shut down the local power plant when you left him alone with a computer in a room long enough. All book smarts, no street senses. There were few that could substitute their abilities within grasp of the ANF by Innes’ assessment which is why she recruited them. The man-boy, really-was shaking in his boots, anxiety in his breath. 

“Give me the rundown.” 

The systems took some more time to tinker with than initially considered, however, they were successfully disabled. They observed only two souls walking the halls of the House. After a short period of downtime, they could bring it online and have the bend its knee to them. It was as expected. It was as expected. One detail gnawed at her, though. The kid mentioned that there wasn’t any lighting and figured that it had to do with the fact that every so often the Matriarchy likes to reserve electricity where it can. Where would the harm be in picking this historical residence? On this very night? Cut everything except the very bare minimum: security systems. Something didn’t sit well with her. Dread dripped into her head but she shook it off, put it in the very back of her head away from everything. She would feel better if she had more time and been able to have more say in planning this operation, just as she didn’t take kindly to little say in the previous operation. 

 

###

 

“I’m pretty sure he was serious.” it was the voice of a young man, quietly closing a door behind him. “There’s movement upstairs, and too much for it to be just to be some dumb heist that the ONP can deal with.” The door, just tucked away from the corridor where the Nationalists marched through. A smug grin spread across the face of the Limited Marines Major before being concealed. The boots silently crept across the room as a cliche red phone came off its hook. “Wake the Queen & Commodore. We have a situation in Vaovaohitra.” He may have said that a little too proudly.

 

###

 

Two hundred of the Front’s muscle had been pulled into the House over the course of the night with equipment to defend the premises and operate. It was already considered a victory and the castle merely was missing its King in the eyes of all that were there. Except Innes. The two souls they saw earlier were stripped and strapped up into a chair and restrained by their luxurious plastic comfort zip ties on the ideal setting-for terrorists. The lights remained off with purpose, no one dared to turn them on until everything was set up so as not to tip anyone off from the outside wurld that something besides business as usual was going on. The nerds would be the ones to give all the clear.They would be the ones to have to put her at ease. She had grown tense. She didn't need to utter a word, nor did you have to lay eyes on her facial expression. It radiated from her, the tension she had. The pacing helped not, either. She felt as though something like this shouldn’t take so much time once time expired and her nerds in clutch should deliver. Innes considered for a moment what this would mean for them all. For her, for the nerds (they were harmless brainiacs), for the devout, for the cause itself. Endor be damned, for he mattered not.

One of the brains approached her, shakily signaling for a sidebar. “Miss-Miss-Miss Inn-nes… there is a problem…” Shit. There was a problem with the system. At first, it didn’t come on at all. While it wasn’t part of the suspected power conservation measure, it lost power as though it had been connected to it. They were unable to make out why it refused to cooperate. Without explanation, they saw it come up. Slowly. Like it was a computer from the 1970s. It wasn’t much of an improvement from uncooperative shut down. It had, after all, been two hours since they deemed it ready to boot up. They were sitting ducks. It would not be long before other people from the outside wurld would be involved. Eyes prying at the curious departure of behavior surrounding the House. All while they were vulnerable. They would not be bolstered in a fortress of yore. No, not without the smart house on steroids systems coming back on, and under their control.

# # #

“National Police, Vaovaohitra Office. Please ho-”

“The Hawk has spotted the Leopard.” a pause followed…then another ring or two

“Captain-”

“Soft approach The Haesbich House, silent siege by Miramil.” another pause followed…

“Oh.” and click.

The police captain sat in his chair, processing the words that he heard come through his handset. He was missing a visible swirl of a loading symbol. Swirling and swirling over his head. The infamous tone that goes off when the receiver isn’t reunited with the handset advised him to get a move on. It isn’t always like the movies you may see in the cinema when The Call is made. The protagonist courageously rushing to answer the phone, then marching out to bark orders to his squad. No no, it wasn’t at all. These characters, painted to be so devoted to their occupation that it is their life - one in the same. No, for the Captain it was disbelief. It was the call he had hoped never to get, despite being advised with more recent activity that it was quite possible. At last, it came. The slow walk said it all. He wasn’t calm and cool. Not internally at least. Perhaps that is what he would look like. Just some cool dude that was the essence of confidence. 

The Crisis Task Force was quick to confirm the tip’s accuracy. There was something incredibly off about Haesbich. Just taking a moment and looking in showed movement. Lots of movement for a museum that otherwise was protected with skeleton security. Worse, there was no seeming connection with the security systems. Like they’d locked out. Though, if this were the case, then why hadn’t the alarms gone off and alerted them. Something certainly wasn’t right by all measures. Their advice was clear: send everyone that could be spared. 

# # #

It was quieter. Too quiet. There was noise, absolutely, but the sounds Innes picked up were more clear to her than before. Especially for a house that had more than two hundred people inside. The Haesbich House wasn’t necessarily the mansions of all mansions. The palaces of all palaces. Even if it wasn’t the sound and ambience, it was the energy and presence of people suddenly having disappeared. Time kept ticking as her brainiacs finally got into the security system and succeeded in being able to control it. Though, the issues persisted. They were only partially operational. Was it sabotage, or actual corruption? A state of the art security system that didn’t work completely. It was possible that some of the measures may not have even existed at all, she has considered. The brainiacs had thus spread out to look at the tech inclined parts of the security system. She accompanied one of them to a back door so they wouldn’t be so visible to the street. 

“I hope I’m not intruding.” Holy shit, where did he come from? Endor was matching their swift walk across the house. Things weren’t going to look good to him and she did not care for him to have made an early arrival. She knew why, though. He likely figures by being the true of intentions and the right one to rule them all that the final pieces of fate would click together. Fate would recognize him as a true occupant for the intention. She wasn’t so sure that would matter much if nothing was going right as it should have been even with him here now. 

She sighed and remained silent until they made it to the back of the compound. According to diagrams they were able to find elsewhere in the initial sweep of the security office, the exterior exits should have blast proof doors concealed and prepared for deployment with one flick of the switch. A key factor to their defensive plan, a reason for choosing this as their public fortress. The very thought still annoyed her. It didn’t make sense to her that it wouldn’t matter if they were to take this place and have a visible center of operations whether it would be functional or not. It was asking for trouble instead of remaining in the shadows. Others disagreed for the reasoning that it must be clear there was illegitimacy all around. 

“Miss Innes I have something bittersweet to deliver you,” She perked up at this. There was something, hope in all this. If it was all bad he would have just said that. Yet, the bitter did not help put her at ease. You don’t say bittersweet unless there is bad with the good. She peered where the brainiac directed her attention to. He described the technical parts of it and was able to piece together what he meant before he could finish delivering the bitterness with this sweetness. The door existed. Thus, it meant that perhaps there was hope in being protected and seeing her fellow members of resistance not be so quickly halted and taken. It was not even a matter of technology either, so to speak. It was sabotage. And it was the implications of sabotage that made this so bitter. For, it was clear that they were not so sneaky and not so quiet. 

“Sabotage.” Spoken aloud and into existence. With that assessment and revelation, the trio was left a duo again, now lighter of one presence. Of course, the first real sign of trouble has him quick to move. Would he go and make some great speech in the great hall to rally the troops this time? Or would it be that he strategically retreats elsewhere. The cause could only live on if the captain didn’t go down with the ship. And this ship was surely going down with a flash of light behind her, witnessing the unmistakable red and blue of police lights. 

“Move move move!” The front entrance of the building was agape thanks to the explosives the squad of subtlety used. Captain. Of what? The crossed arms. Captain Gae was spaced out in his own little wurld. Even as his head wrapped around the fact he had to deal with this situation, he did not care to be the seemingly last person to be notified about the ordeal. The last one involved. As he had a strategy in the works while they took their positions, he was informed that there was already a plan of action laid out to be used in this scenario. It was to be followed per the Queen’s instructions. What was he even here for? 

The deputies all disappeared inside of the House, their arms lighting up the hole with the beams of light from their mounted flashlights. Gae appeared with them, fed up with feeling sidelined and joining in to do the grunt work. As they moved throughout the Haesbich they only found it to be very empty, going door to door to clear each room. Gae wasn’t thrilled with this. It made the likelihood of a massive confrontation higher. Kick, open, scan, empty. Rinse, repeat. Each time this happened, it felt like there was perspiration dripping from Gae’s pores. How many times before they’d go through this and get the winning door? Suddenly, shouting and commotion. Gae’s cohort stopped to audibly observe their colleagues. 

“Captain Gae, we have successfully secured several perpetrators in the East wing. There is supposed to be another 107 or so scattered throughout from our loudmouth here. Be advised, over.” Alon and all that is mighty, that many so quietly? Though, evidently, not so quiet if they were all here. Locked and loaded. 

“Heard.” he uttered into his radio. This would happen again with a different team scouring the House, locating another 70 or so of them huddled into a small room, once more. Strange it was. Both rooms there neatly handed over to them in a bow. Who would be so kind as to give them such a wonderful present? With everything at work here, something was going on that, naturally, he would not be given knowledge of. Eventually, this would happen once more when they converged on the Great Hall, counting the last remaining few they expected. 

“Freeze! Arms dropped or you’re getting dropped!” Only one or two guns clacked to the ground accompanied by a couple laptops. The job was done. It wasn’t that big of a deal at all. It was big. It was quite an ordeal. But it wasn’t both in the same sentence. It was anticlimactic. There was a kicker somewhere. Gae would have to accept it, though. It could have been the fire fight he feared in the back of his head from the moment he got that call. He could have been angrily ripping his vest off and pounding the side of his cruiser. Instead, he is watching terrorists be loaded into the back of one of his vehicles with little bloodshed. It just didn’t add-

“You must be Captain Gae. A pleasure, Captain.”  Of course, the Limited Marines had a part. It’s the only reason the Queen would be involved. They must have had the intelligence. They had to have scoped out the place. They knew the outcome of this before they made the tip in the first place. Oh, it just didn’t sit right at all. Gae nonetheless would play into their game. Whatever this cloak and dagger bullshit was.The rank denoted him as a major or was it that of major general? Though, Major General has been a rank that has not seen use since the 80s, phased out as the forces were reconfigured. 

“Major, a pleasure to-”

“That would be Major General. Major General Kovlo”

“Of course, my apologies. I owe you my gratitude in helping us in whatever fashion you have to make this as painless as possible for us. I would feel better if I knew right now we had our whale and his lieutenants.”

“The whale is more like a fox. He will not be so easily delivered as his traitorous grunts would be.” There could have been a chuckle, but it was only a straight and serious tone from Kovlo.

“Of course. It only gets worse for them, though.”

“That it does. While the cause, as much as it can, lives another day with Endor out there somewhere, we do have something of his we have dreamt of bagging for a while.”

She loathed him. She knew who he was. Kovlo was not a friendly name at all. Nor did they ever think he would get so far. There was a difference in punishing them for what they believed was the crime of betraying the Matriarchy, and outright warcrimes. Yet, no one will know who he is. Few do, and no passable evidence has ever been found to substantiate claims. In fact, he wasn’t even that well known at all outside of the underwurld. 

“Meet Kai Innes, Captain.”

“The next best thing after Miramil. Thank Acona and Alon. The cause will have little steam left. I’ll enjoy talking to her.”

“Unfortunately, that will not be the case. I have orders to see her escorted off to Grafenstein. However, you are more than welcome to have her for our press conference. Speaking of, I’ll start us off, it seems they are all ready over there.” 

“Of course,” Gae uttered. Of course! It is all he could say as he glimpsed over to where a congregation of news cameras and a podium had been conspicuously set up. Of course. It felt staged, but it won’t look like that at all to the public. There was deeply hidden smugness he could see as Kovlo addressed the cameras. Gae glanced over at Innes, wrapped up in a straitjacket unlike her colleagues.

“Trust me, I don’t like going with him either. Something is off here, and I don’t mean us being on the losing end, Captain. We were only ever on the decline.” Ominous, and with the energy Gae felt, perhaps not only an omen to Innes, but to the nation as well, whoever Kovlo was.

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