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Doom of Ceris


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Outside Kassel, Hodrea Kieron heaved at the gillnet as he struggled to pull it about the fishing boat him and his aunt were aboard. They had been out on the river looking for a better catch but b

An open letter to the citizens of Zaspa from Heere fan'es Oferheit and Minister of Foreign Affairs Reemy Loopentlant Dear citizens, Rest assured that your plight, your issues, your virtues a

“How was your holiday Your Majesty?” Minister Tatum asked as Aidan and him walked into his office. Aidan took a seat staring at the pile of documents that had been piling up on his desk before turning

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Phou and his company had traversed Rusheau for a twelve days now. If he did not have Ankwer writing daily journal entries, he knew he would have lost track of which day it was. It was a Monday. A few days prior the transport had imploded on itself, in typical Batengdeian fashion. Fortunately Meido was useful for more than the occasional quip, and took to repairing it. That had left them stuck for a day, and not in friendly territory.

As to be expected, the military presence was low, but not unsubstantial, especially for the jingoistic regime that was the Holy Empire of Rusheau. There was not a city to be passed without some few armored vehicles and troops in it. Though the quality of these patrols were shoddy, it was a testament to the fanatical militancy of Rusheau. It was no wonder the Fulgistani were having issues with direct military involvement.

There was a sudden shout,

"There it is! The bunker, just saw it!"

Phou looked over. It was Pyough, eagle-eyed as ever. They had finally made it to their comrades in Rusheau.

The bunker itself was no easy find; had they not been given the coordinates by the Rusheauan People's Liberation Front, they would almost certainly have missed it. It was set within a hill which looked as though people hadn't been in it for fifty years. There was no real signs of human habitation, bar a few rusted-out cars which looked at least fifty years old from the design. In the bunker itself was a small grate, it looked almost like a manhole. Apparently it was an old bombing shelter from some old Rusheauan war.

bunker.jpg

Banlea Chea strode forward into the booth, up to the circular entrance to the bunker. Everyone else, including Phou, came after her. They had put their weapons away, but there was still a level of tension: this whole operation could easily have been a Rusheauan trap for Batengdei, but it seemed unlikely that the country would ever encourage espionage of any kind, even to stage an ambush. Chea took the butt of her rifle, and pounded out a series of knocks to emulate the theme of the Rusheauan march.

Chea backed away hesitantly, but there was no response.

As Chea approached the hole again, however, there suddenly came a sound from the bunker. A sort of muffled cry which echoed awkwardly out from the grate. A few moments later, the grate was pushed open and a grinning man appeared. His beard looked scruffy and unkempt, and there was a maddened look in his eyes, but he shouted out in some poor attempt at Khaymer:

"Hello comrades! We am so happiness to be seeing us!"

It was a good effort, but fortunately Chea began in Ceriser,

"Thank you comrade, but do not worry, we all speak your tongue. We have equipment for you, and fuel as you requested, but not as much as we originally indicated. I hope you do not mind..."

"Pah! My proletarian friend, when you are an 'enemy to the public' you learn to make do with what you can get. Please come inside quickly."

And at that they slowly climbed down into the lower bunker. The climb itself was very tense, what little natural light came through was mostly obscured by whoever had decided to go in after Phou, and the person after them.

"f*ck!" came a cry from below them. It was in Khaymer and sounded like Meido. Everyone stopped momentarily before he shouted, this time in Ceriser, "Be careful there's a rung down here which is not very secure in the wall!"

After some fifteen minutes of intense climbing, everyone was down in the bunker. The industrial lights on the walls illuminated cold concrete walls. Some of those lights were damaged or missing, which created a terrible inconsistency in the lighting of the passageway ahead of them. Various pipes led to and fro from the ceiling and walls, like a tangle of vines, with no real direction.

"Down this hall here, we will take a right at the third door." came the Ceriser in the front.

Finally, they entered a cramped little room. The walls were draped with banners of the Rusheauan flag, converted into a simple red-and-yellow socialistic banner. The centerpiece of the room was a large table which had a large map of Rusheau, illuminated by floodlights so as to ensure legibility. In the center was a woman wearing Rusheauan military fatigues enhanced with various stitchings of roses and traces of red.

"Welcome to our humble home, comrades." said the woman, "I am comrade Gabriela Stein, but you may call me just Gabriela, if you like."

She continued, "We of the Rusheauan People's Liberation Front seek to end the terrible state of Rusheau's long shadow of tyranny. You said you will help us, yes? You have brought the supplies we need to begin our war, but the battle is not yet won. We need your help and guidance in our battle to liberate the proletariat of this country."

Chea strode over to the table, and looked at the map before smiling at the woman, "We can help you, Gabriela. Our motives are one and the same. Tell me, how do you intend to incite a revolution?"

For a moment, Gabriela Stein looked ready to burst with joy, but she quickly composed herself and responded, "We have eyes across the nation; it's maybe the only benefit of living in a country everyone hates. We have some, ah, friends, who are currently stationed in Karkamann, a Rusheauan military supply depot. Recently there have been reports of them diverting a great many troops from there to the front lines to wage war against our Fulgistani friends. We can't get in with the forces we have, we only have thirty people with weaponry we managed to take from the Rusheauan military. You all, however, can coordinate and plan out strategy much better than us, not to mention you can all shoot straight. Can you help get the means of revolution to the people of Rusheau?"

"I believe so, yes. I have means of contacting comrades in the Fulgistani Army, and I am sure they would be willing to coordinate with our cause. While we do that, I will have Pyough working at a raid strategy with Phou. We will all be there for fire support, too. I assure you we have this quite under control."

Gabriela Stein grinned, "Let's liberate Rusheau."

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Cardinal Sean McKinley had rarely visited the Papal Palace and had to be guided to the office of the man he was looking for.  The winding corridors, brightly lit even in the evening hours, were filled with Baroque art and their floors covered by ornate rugs.  A couple thousand housekeepers took care of the expansive palace that resembled more of an imperial palace than the home of the administration of the Church.  The place was spotless; McKinley could not spot a speck of dust on even the oldest of tapestries and pieces of art as the nun guided him. Weaving through the palace, they made it to the office of the head of the Magnissimum Comitium Cardinalicium, Cardinal Mark D’Angelo.  Here the nun stopped at a large and decorative wooden door. A small golden plaque that hung left to the door at head height read ‘D’Angelo Cardinalis’- they had reached their destination.   The nun knocked on the door and bowed towards McKinley before walking away the way they had come. The cardinal heard a tired, soft voice replying wearily, “Per favore entra*.”

McKinley opened the door gently as he peered in.  D’Angelo sat behind a large desk that was covered with papers and letters, his glasses at the bridge of his nose and his face buried in a letter.  His zucchetto was on top of a pile on the corner of his desk, revealing his mostly bald, spotted head. D’Angelo looked up from his letter and smiled wearily as he stood up.  “Salve, frater**.”  D’Angelo walked around his desk to embrace the cardinal before inviting McKinley to take a seat and went back to his seat.  

“I appreciate your graciousness in hosting me, brother.”  D’Angelo just continued smiling as he waved his hand and started in Anglish, “The pleasure is mine.  Anything to distract me from this crisis.” His smile disappeared from his face as he said the last sentence and looked at all his papers on his desk.  He shook his head gently before looking back up at McKinley, pushed up his glasses, and inquired, “So, what can I help you with, frater?  Could I help you to some tea?”  McKinley at first had trouble deciphering D’Angelo’s heavy Salvian accent but was soon able to understand him.  

“Yes, that would be nice.”  D’Angelo rang a small bell that was placed on his desk.  Maybe ten seconds had passed before a nun entered the room and bowed.  “Maria, potresti portarci del tè? Grazi.”   The nun nodded and left.  D’Angelo waved his hand towards McKinley, indicating to him to speak.

“Well, I come to you from my post, Occidentalis Cerisae.  You’ve no doubt heard the crisis unfolding on my island?”  D’Angelo nodded, “Yes, I have. The Concilio Clerici was in fact the driving force behind the state’s commitment to aid.”  McKinley nodded and continued, “Yes, and the Church has also committed aid, the funds and supplies have helped my priests in their mission.”  D’Angelo nodded back, “So what are you to ask of me?" 

“Well, brother, it is seen by both me and the other bishop on the island, Bishop James Flynn, that more aid must be committed to Ceris.  The forces opposing our ministry only grow stronger as the days passed and I fear the Church on the island only grows weaker. The scourge of communism threatens my dioceses and we do not have the resources necessary to both deal with them and continue our ministry.

D’Angelo sighed wearily while rubbing his eyes under his glasses.  “I was hoping for good news, but yes, the situation is most certainly dire.”  McKinley looked at D’Angelo intently, waiting for him to continue. “You must understand, frater, our resources are spread thin since our involvement in Cussia and the investigations.  And now with Ceris… we are taking on too much. I’ll tell you this: you will be given more.  As to the time it is delivered, only God knows, but I will try to get it to you speedily.” A knock on the door interrupted the conversation as the nun entered with two cups of tea.  Handing one to each of them, she bowed before hurrying out once again.

“Brother, I am afraid that money might not be the way to solve this issue, especially any that shows up months too late.  Is there nothing your Concilio can do?  Money will mean nothing to the communists when they take power- men are needed.”

D’Angelo answered incredulously, “My Concilio?  Absolutely not- no, it’s not possible.  With the investigations? The Salvian people- devout as they are- would not even buy that at this time.  If funds are not good enough for this cause, I can’t do anything else for you. Armed force or intervention of any kind wouldn’t be allowed by any sane politician and to even suggest anything like that to the public sphere would draw instant criticism.”

“Please, brother, do you not understand the direness of the situation?  Ceris is not stable, we’ve been attacked countless time over these years.  And now communism! What will happen?”

“God’s will.” D’Angelo said nothing for a moment.  He took a sip from his tea before replying, calmly, “I will do all that I can.  But I tell you this: Salvia will not get involved in a sphere of influence it does not belong to or have any interest in.  We’ll see if the situation of the Church gets any worse- more drastic action might be taken then. At this time, however, I will give you 100 members of the Papal Guard to protect yourself and any church that is under attack.  I will finalize the details in the coming days with the Guard.”

McKinley sat there, silent and unhappy, but nodded.  D’Angelo breathed deeply before ringing the bell once more.  He stood up when the nun entered. “It is getting late, frater.  Maria will show you to your room.  I will see you tomorrow at breakfast.”  McKinley stood up as D’Angelo walked around the desk to embrace the other cardinal.  McKinley walked towards the door that the nun held open and exited, himself now tired and worried.

 

__________

*: “Come in please”

**: “Hello, brother”

Edited by Salvia
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The Sanctum Imperium Catholicum
Through the Trinity, We Flourish

Factbook National Salvian Broadcasting Network Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

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‘No!” Kieron shouted. He couldn’t believe what his aunt was trying to suggest. Leave her behind? That has to be out of the question.

"Junge, it has to be this way, I can’t make it through the gas. I made a promise a long time ago to your parents, I can’t abandon it now. Du bist jetzt wie mein Kind. You leave.”

Kieron was furious, and he was about to argue when he was interrupted by the leader of the Seylosian fireteam that had come through, “Miss… Nicole. We have to move now.”

Major Arran had taken off his mask temporarily though he kept glancing upstairs at the door. Beyond it the group could hear the gunfire and screams as the city was being sacked. Nicole ran quickly to her desk picking up a laptop and an external hard drive and shoving it into Kieron’s hands.

“This is how you leave here Kieron. It’s everything the Seylosians want. It’s how we save our people. You keep it safe and you help them alright?” Nicole turned to Arran while also addressing the rest of the group, “I’ve already arranged it with the ambassador, you take Kieron back to Seylos with you, away from this. You get the information in exchange.”

Arran took a second looking over the two and then nodded, “I suppose that mask isn’t in working order.”

Nicole just shook her head. Arran took a second moving his hand through his vest and produced a hand grenade. He offered it to Nicole, who looked at it a second before taking it. “Keep him safe.”

Arran had usually become hardened to the plight of most people during his stint in the special forces, a trait not shared by Corporal Oswin and only somewhat embraced by the other. But in this moment he felt something for this woman, at least that she was giving her life in a somewhat grandiose way. “Good luck”

“Wait no why aren’t you coming!?” Kieron yelled lurching towards Nicole. Oswin grabbed him holding him back.

Arran quickly ran over to the dead soldier he had shot, and to his surprise his aim had been exceptional or possibly awful. The man hadn’t taken any shots to the chest and he  quicky ripped off the bulletproof vest he had been wearing. He held up up for a second taking a look over it. Varinco of course, what other manufacturer would we see in Ceris, he thought to himself. He tossed the vest at Oswin, “Get it on him we move now”

Oswin quickly threw the vest on Kieron, who seemed to shocked to move. He turned him back towards him after he had finished and looked him straight in the eyes, “Sorry about him, but we have to be quick. Follow me and listen to everything I say. Keep your mask on no matter what.”
Kieron nodded through his tears and slid his gas mask on, awkwardly securing it into place. By this point the rest of the team had gathered near the basement doors ready to move out.

“Maura, Oswin you’re together. Claire you’re with me for covering fire. You two keep going until you’re out and safe. Do you understand?”

Both nodded, “Alright then… Move!”

The team bust out of the door into the fog of the city. Much of it was smoke mixed with the gas attack. Oswin grasped onto the back of the vest near Kieron’s neck and dragged him with them as they sprinted out.

Kieron could barely see through his mask as he was yanked up through the basement door. The sounds he was hearing, the rush of movement he was feeling confused him. For a moment he noticed that Major Arran and Sergeant Claire had split off from the group.

Suddenly he stopped, the haze and mask obscuring his gaze all he heard was Oswin, “Hold… hold.”

He heard the crack of rifles around him. Suddenly a loud shot as he assumed Oswin had started shooting, then for a second silence.

“Move!”

He felt the back of his vest pulled and suddenly he was running. He tried to look around at the streets he had known his whole life but it was flashing before his eyes. Bullets flew passed, snapping before hitting walls near him. More cracks from the gun that Oswin had then a sudden stop. Kieron glanced to his side seeing a body near him. He froze up instantly, overwhelmed. His best friend was lying in front of him, his body curled up and still. He didn’t know what to do. He tried to wrench away from Oswin but he felt his arms pull him back and suddenly both were face to face. “Don’t move Kieron. I know, it’s the worst thing but you have to trust me. Don’t. Move.”

Kierono stopped, crouching behind a short wall next to some former rich person’s courtyard. He could hear the crackling of weapons around him, but nothing near. Suddenly he heard the cracking of more weapons nearby and shouting from what he thought was Maura. Then his vest was grabbed again. He couldn’t help but steal a look one last time at this friend's face. He didn’t understand.

An explosion, a sudden stop, rushing again, more gunfire, it didn’t stop. Suddenly he fell to the ground and he looked around. Maura was firing at some distance target, but there was Oswin, puching, kick fighting for his life with some other person. Oswin pinned him to the ground trying to fight him, but another man appeared his gun raised. Kieron lurched forward, grabbed Oswin’s sidearm of his pocket and tried his best to aim squeezing the trigger. He sat there for a second unsure of what he did and then the whirlwind started again. His vest from the back grabbed by Oswin and more sprinting. And then… it was over. Outside the city walls he looked up and saw the smoke billowing from the inside. He fell down, but this time Oswin didn’t pick him up, instead standing next to him frantically yelling through his radio. Maura was next to him and waved at him to stop. Oswin huffed but came over to Kieron holding a large phone in his hand.

“Kieron, I need you to talk to someone. It’s going to be hard but we are going to protect you alright? They need to know what is going on, but we need to do this as we run. You can run right?”

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