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An Empire Divided: Chapter 1


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Chapter 1, Scene 1: Oyānci
Archpriest Oyānci, the uncle-in-law of the first ever Archpriestess (Archpriestess Moyoluani), was the Archpriest who led the Azlo from the Great Paran lake in 8 BCE by the orders of Lōzōnxicoyol herself. Before Oyānci, the Azlo had many archpriests and each archpriest was said to be the divine "Cōconēλ" (Directly translates to "Mouth Piece" or "Puppet") of separate Wēcatoc deities. Under the guidance of Oyānci, the Azlo who left the lake came to be unified under the banner of Ce Meƶλ, The Mun. Without the groundworks for a near-unified religion, the Crescent Empire could not of ever unified lands from the Paluvian Rainforest to the Synthe Bay, to the Paititi mountains, to the Manamana Isthmus.

 

Modern Day
A middle-aged man, around his late forties, early fifties, in a yellow-cream military jacket was hunched over head down at a gnarled dusty wooden table with numerous yellow-stained documents and large A3 sheets of rolled out and bent maps. The room he was in shook slightly, cream-coloured dust trickling from the ceiling, the same colour as the ceiling and cracked walls. The room was dead silent, but soon began to be periodically cut by the rattling of distant gunfire and eventually built up to be like an orchestra of woodpeckers, the sounds of individual bangs from the guns merged into one long drawn out buzz. Thankfully for Alez he was not on the front lines down at Pezidenteza Street, he was two streets back at their temporary base, but the periodic hallowing echoes of faraway explosives still trickled cold sweat down his neck. He was far too close to the conflict for his liking. In the outlying front lines, the roaring of a collapsing concrete building echoed through the streets followed by broken up cheering. Alez wasn't sure if that was his own side cheering or that of the opposing forces, but the fact that the long drawn out buzz of machine guns did not end had dampened any hope in his heart. The greyish wooden door - the only way in and out of the room - rattled causing Alez to flinch in place, his head glancing up towards his door. A small part of his brain almost hoped it was the men of the opposing force, finally here to put him out of his misery, but instead it was another man in a similar yellow-cream military jacket, with grey combat trousers and a partially unbuttoned grey shirt.

"We have the map, sir." The man declared, saluting to the hunched man. Alez sighed, his eyes locking with the man.
"Please Camillo, I have repeatedly requested that you call me Alez. I am no more a sir then General-President Tario is."
"Yes si--Alez." Camillo stumbled. "The map you requested of the city has arrived."
"Excellent, thank you." Alez replied. Two more individuals in similar jackets stepped through the door, one (a lady) holding a large rolled up tube of paper held together only by an elastic band and the other (a man) with a single plastic wallet with several cleaner papers inside. The hunched man finally stood up properly, sweeping aside several of his papers to make room. "I'd have expected we'd afford more than a single rubber band to be wrapped around our most valuable current intelligence." Alez sarcastically commented, before being cut by Camille.
"There was a problem s–Alez. The scouting men came across numerous wandering soldiers, General-President soldiers, beyond our controlled territory." He commented, the man with the paper rolled it out on to the table for all men currently in the room to see.

"It's incomplete." Alez snarled, backhanding a pile of paper near himself to the ground, sheets of paper sprawling out everywhere. The two newcomers traded anxious stares before Alez let out a frustrated sigh with a hand to the bridge of his nose. "I'm fine, we're fine. This is still useful. The map ends where President-General soldiers were contacted? Camille?"
"Yes Alez."
“Is this the only map?” Alez questioned, his voice still tense a bit raspy but now looking back to the three men. The old man pulled out a thick black pen from his table and stacks of papers. He turned his head back to Camille.
“No sir, just a copy.” He replied, his voice a tad quieter then previously.
“Excellent” Alez remarked as he carved out great black line across the map following where the surveyed area ended, the scraping of the marker against the paper ringing out across the now silent room. Once Alez finished he took several steps back, the black line going from the top to the bottom of the city map.

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"Then this still gives us a rough indication of current front lines of the liberation of the city. If there were lone General-President men, we can safely assume they were attempting to survey the arena of battle themselves. But they held this city before it was even evacuated, why would they need multiple men out beyond the active front lines? They only have so many men at the old city hall building.."
"Perhaps they are looking to find a hole in our defences?” Camille postulated, the three other men and women in the room turning to him. Camille bent over the map pulling out a Sitallian copper peso, the older lady frowned as she folded her arms – waiting for her turn to speak. “Whilst the General in the city hall has a portion of his men on Pezidenteza Street,” He began, sliding the coin from the town hall to Pezidenteza Street, then rummaging for a smaller silver peso he dropped it back at the city hall on the map, dragging it over several streets to the side. “The General sends out a secondary force to our flank, in hopes of breaking through to Pezidenteza.” He continued, moving both pesos into the street and towards the University. “And break through.” Camille concluded, swiping both pesos back into his pocket. He nodded to the lady, but before she could speak the whole room shook as dust sprinkled from the ceiling and a crack in the wall. The echoes of a second falling building – louder than before – erupted followed shortly by faint cheering. Alez shook his head, sighing and turning his attention to the lady.

"They are desperate." The lady stated, her eyes squinted as the wrinkles on her face curled around. She was the oldest of the four, her salt and pepper hair that was more salt than pepper showed that well. "Before our men came together, my men fought at Papapietolia on the coast. They sent out men to find a clean route into the front lines. Week later, President tanks and heavy artillery arrived. Half my men were lost on a single day and we were forced to flee from the city. f*cking spineless men. Soon as they believe they might loose, they run to daddy Tario and-" The lady was cut off as a young man in a basic grey uniform burst into the room, breathing frantically. Alez's face burned red.
"What in the damned Hell do you think you're doing?! What's your name division so I know who to smack later?" The old man roared towards the young boy.
"Oyānci s-sir, the Ƶantico d-division! Alez, sir! I-its your son!" The man cried out, with Alez's face going from red to purple.
"Well dammit boy! What Hell has he gotten himself into?!" He snarled, slamming a fist onto the table causing a single sheet of paper to flutter to the ground and Camille to flinch.
"He's at the first aid camp, he got shot at th--" Once again, no one can get a single word out as Alez stormed past the boy and down a hallway, leaving the young man to the ire of the three men and women.

Edited by Metztlitlaca
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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 1, Scene 2: Moyoluani
“These waters are of Yōcoāƶin’s blood, and his heart will be your new nation. You will reach the horizon, where the lowest Heaven touches the ground to bless your ancestors and your descendants. Your inheritance”

This was the supposed prophecy told to Moyoluani by the Goddess Lōzōnxicoyol the night after her uncle-in-law’s death. When Moyoluani became the first ever Archpriestess in recorded Azlo history, she took the prophecy to mean to follow the rivers south from their homeland. Although she would never reach this promised land, and neither would many archpriests after her, the Azlo people would eventually arrive where “the lowest Heaven touches the ground”. Two great mountain ranges, and named them after the Heavens, “Mēƶcān”. This is ultimately where the name “Mēƶλiλācaɥ/Metztlitlaca” (“People of the Moon”) comes from, for the moon housed the highest Heaven and the palace of their patron Goddess Lōzōnxicoyol. An empire in her glory.



The sun was setting, the streaks of red and orange across the crumbling city’s skyline masked across Moyoluani University (renamed to St Joseph University a year before the town was evacuated), the current headquarters for the Militia Confederacy. Surrounding the university complex were various makeshift tents and roughly patched up buildings with numerous different flags and banners plastered across walls or hanging limp off flag poles. The eastern third section of the university was almost always full with wounded men flowing in and out. The central and western thirds of the University on the other hand were almost entirely silent, with few wandering its halls. However, there was one man trudging through the silent halls, Alez Pellamo. His usual vein-ridden strawberry-coloured face was now pale, however he kept his head high and military uniform and jacket clean and tidy. One must appear to be at his strongest when one is at his weakest, afterall. Alez stopped halfway down the hall where are large set of desecrated wooden doors sat shut, next to them were several large framed photos – around the same length as his arm and half that in width – with at least a hundred or more young adults holding rolled up papers. His greyed brown eyes trailed down to a date and a single sentence stamped into the brass frame:
[2010 Graduation Ceremony]
Alez’s eyes squinted slightly as he continued to a similar framed photo below it, labelled 2011. The date read 2012, with fewer graduates. His focus continued downwards slowly, passing by 2013 and 2014, reaching 2015, where the number of students were now only in the tens. His eyes now stared at the floor below him, towards his own feet. The old man took in a deep breath, only now realising he had been holding his breath the whole time, and swiftly moved to the wooden doors briefly glaring at the brass tag above the doors before shoving them open and entered the main university hall.

The university hall was 45m across and 28m wide and open to the environment with numerous horizontally open Shoji panels attached where one would expect window frames. Most of the panels had been torn apart or had collapsed in previous confrontations between the militia forces and the army division within the city, but for the most part the university was a safe and secure location for gatherings. Most of the hall’s floor was full of beaten up wooden and bamboo chairs, with a third of the floor at the far end of the hall raised up as a stage. The room itself was originally painted blue and white as a poor imitation of Aroman’s legacy architecture, however a large portion of the paint had been peeled and chipped away at to reveal the same-old pale yellow bricks all other buildings in the city were made of. Hanging from balconies around the back half of the hall were four distinct banners, each representing the four militias that had come together to the city to form the Militia Confederation. The chairs were split up into four sections, each taking up a quarter of the sitting area with just enough room for two people shoulder-to-shoulder to walk through. Most of the seats were empty, with only a couple tens of men and women wearing differing shades of grey military jackets and only two men and a lady in yellow-cream jackets. There were also several soldiers in basic grey uniforms close to the three in yellow. There were two men on the stage, one wearing a grey military jacket and another a yellow jacket. Everyone in the room turned to stare at Alez, one of the men in the grey uniforms even pulling out an assault rifle already aimed towards him, but quickly put it to his side and nodded to the old man with his cheeks flushed red.
“S-sorry.” The soldier remarked. Alez immediately recognised the boy as the skittish bringer of bad news from yesterday morning. Oya-something was his name.
“No. Never apologise for honed skills in a war zone, soldier.” Alez remarked as he began to walk down the centre of the hall towards the stage. His mind nagged at him for not saying more, but he pushed the thought aside – it was already too late, and this wasn't the time for small talk. The militias were already too casual for what he preferred.

As Alez made his way past the chairs, he made a mental tally of grey-jackets and yellow-jackets, reaching a number of 22 and 4. At last he stepped up onto the stage to greet everyone by bowing his head, keeping things brief, he immediately began to speak before everyone had a chance to bow their head back. Three grey uniformed soldiers hastily made their way around the Shoji panels, shutting them. The two men who were on the stage tip-toed off stage to aid their men with the panels.
“Before I begin, I’ve notice we have all Yellow-Jackets with us today. Who is keeping the street safe?” Alez demanded, his tone polite yet sharp. An older lady in a yellow military jacket, the same from the map incident, spoke up: “The Lōzōnxicoyol Long-Ranged Division is maintaining our usual nightly truce. Do not fear the possibility of interruption.”

Alez did fear the possibility of interruption.

From his jacket, Alez yanked out a partially crumpled up script he had scrambled together for the past three hours. He cursed to himself quietly under his breath before beginning, holding his arm and hand towards a copy of the map he had drawn upon earlier, with a finer line this time, plastered on what Alez assumed was a whiteboard before it was partially burned.
“Over the course of the last three days, scouts have ventured out into the city and helped our cartographer Calpixci devise a map of Pezidenteza Street and nearby city blocks. The black line represents the estimated front lines between our Militia Confederacy and President Tario’s chattel.” Alez paused for a moment, letting the information settle in people’s minds, and soon one of the grey-jackets raised their hand. A younger man, in his 30s, spoke up.
“I apologise, but how is it so that these scouting parties had not passed the front line? Have I or we not been informed of a larger front line then just Pezidenteza Street?”
“I was coming to that, thank you Loì. These scouts were not as a group but as individuals. More-so in the north than in the south, scouts came across scouting parties from President Tario soldiers who we suspected were doing the same as us. However Ƶantico-” Alez turned his gaze to the same old lady from before, who raised her hand slightly so that everyone knew who he was talking to, then bringing himself to look out at the small audience “-believes they may be planning a route for reinforcements or escape. Estimating how long it may take for their reinforcements is difficult to tell, as we only gained this knowledge yesterday and our men in the back will need time to come up with better numbers, but knowing how far other cities and towns under Tario’s banners, we estimate it will take them two weeks from today assuming they build up their reinforcements then send them in.” Alez stated, taking a breath before continuing, “confidential documents will be sent out to all grey and yellow jackets by midnight with more information but we, the ones who had first access to the map and information, should tell you all before hand. Soldiers, men, you are to sow the information to your peers of potential reinforcements to lighten the impact tomorrow midday when we shall release this information to all divisions.”
“We must be prepared for the worst.” Alez concluded. The hall remained silent before Camille, in the back, spoke up.
“What’s our plans then?”
“Our current ideas for timetables and plans are part of the document, read them alone or with other Yellow Jackets.” Alez responded. No one else spoke up, so Alez began to step down from the stage as another Yellow Jacket stood up to begin their own presentation regarding other issues Alez frankly had no interest in, but he kept his eyes trained on the other Yellow Jacket to not appear rude. He knew the other Yellow Jackets weren’t going to like what the documents said, that they should continue with their usual timetables and combat at Pezidenteza Street, but they didn’t have enough intel to go for riskier moves. It didn’t help that the rest of his brain was more focused on his son’s condition in the militia’s hospital, who he had promised to visit after the meeting..

“-thus the Libete Militia will be using tomorrow as an opportunity to reorganise the armouries and barracks.” The Yellow Jacket on stage stated, folding his more neatly presented script into his jacket’s front pocket. Alez’s mind snapped back to reality, thankfully catching the end conclusion to the man’s speech. The man on stage bowed and stepped off, one by one the Yellow Jackets and their small posse of soldiers stood up and left the hall, Alez doing the same as he slowly dissociated back into his mind and letting his body keep him on track towards the eastern wards of the university, to the militia hospital, with baited breath.

 

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Edited by Metztlitlaca
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  • 3 weeks later...

The Writer's Deck, Truths of Metztli Newspaper Headquarters, Altepetl Tekaken.
 

Priest Wolōcoāλ mopped his greyed brow as he surveyed over the capital, the valley walls either side of the Λayelloyoɥ River acting like the walls of a bowl, the soup a greyish brown fog of pollution that flowed the same shape as the equally polluted river below. Even so high up in his office building, Wolōcoāλ could hear the cheerful screaming of children playing on the streets, the rattling engines of cars, and the day-to-day squabble of the working class. The priest sneered at the thought of the grime and muck slathered on the ground and lungs of those who danced and laughed to music below. He looked upwards, night was settling in and a slight drizzle of rain began to patter the windows.
“Why do farmers cram into this city? What do they see in this place as anything but a squalor of missed opportunity.” The Priest cried out towards the window. From behind, a man of similar age to Wolōcoāλ with salt and pepper hair and a clean shaven face approached the priest, holding out a long red and brown box, the lid was open to reveal several cigars.
“San Castellino or Iberic?” The priest asked, his acquaintance shook the box, lifting it slightly for the priest to read.
“San Castellino” his friend confirmed, the priest pulled out a cigar on the end of the row and slotted it into his mouth, slipping out a box of his own. A tall white match box with a red side which he used to light a match to light the ends of his and his friend’s cigars. For a moment both men stood in silent as the priest wafted the match, causing it to go out in a wisp of grey smoke, the rain increasing in intensity causing the noises of the city to die down, leaving only the rain and the sounds of the tapping of computers and scribbling of paper behind him. Everyone in the room, including the two men, wore your standard black suits and ties with clean cut and well cared for hair and minimal beards. The strict uniform code was something Wolōcoāλ was proud of about his company, professionals have standards, and one must be professional if they wish to survive under the eyes of the government.

“Yet you came here.” Wolōcoāλ’s friend remarked, to the priest’s surprise. He blew out a thin stream of smoke and stuffed the match box into his suit’s side pocket before responding to his friend.
“Pardon?”
“Sorry for my brashness, but you ponder why the commons come to this city, yet you also came here. Why?” He clarified, pocketing the red and brown box into his trouser’s pocket.
The priest’s face scrunched up slightly, scratching the left temple of his head as he spoke. “I wish I could of remained in Azcapoƶinco, where I could see beyond the beauty of a modern city without a veil of pollution. But this is where the money is. You know that better then anybody!”
Wolōcoāλ’s friend pulled him closer, wrapping his arm around the shoulders of the priest as he did the same. The two began to walk the perimeter of the floor, around the many busy workers on phones or tapping away at computers. “You did not come just to smoke and jab, Iƶqīnλi?” Wolōcoāλ said, interrogating his friend. A hyena-like smile stretched out over Wolōcoāλ’s friend, guiding himself and the priest towards his office.
“Of course not, I would not disrespect your time like that. But the matter of this conversation should be in private.” Iƶqīnλi responded, eventually he unwrapped from the priest’s shoulders and pushed open the mahogany red-brown door into his office, the lights already on and two chairs one either side of Iƶqīnλi’s similarly red-brown wooden desk. On the desk were few papers scattered and a small brass work lamp, and a brass plate reading `Pr. Iƶqīnλi – Chief Financial Officer (CFO)` in Naxua. The room itself was dim light with yellow incandescent bulbs and dark brown wooden walls. Iƶqīnλi took his seat behind the desk before Wolōcoāλ took the seat in front. Before neither of them spoke, Iƶqīnλi slid a piece of paper over to the priest for him to read.

Refugee_Map.png

The image on the paper showed the triple point of the border between Metztlitlaca, Sitallo, and the Triple Commonwealth with a region in red spread across Sitallo and the Triple Commonwealth with small border towns and fields of Metztlitlaca part of the region, but in orange. From the red and orange region sprawling arrows in a brighter more saturated red spilled out. At each border a number was written. 119700, 51300, 256400.
“What is the matter?” Wolōcoāλ queried, his brow lowering downwards.
“One of the writers for the headline article on our second-to-next newspaper had a go at the numbers, the percentages don’t make sense.” He explained, pointing with his fingers to two percentages – in red – next to the 256,400 and 51,300. “It says 84% of all refugees go through Tlaxcalixe, yet when he ran the numbers – and I did as well to double check – we came to only 60%.”
“So what? Facts and figures are bound to be incorrect every now and again. We try out best to fact check but sometimes this happens.” The priest responded, blowing out a wisp of smoke from his cigar.
“I would of thought the same, but if you only count numbers the numbers of refugees going into the Triple Commonwealth and us, it comes out at 84%.” Iƶqīnλi said, causing one of Wolōcoāλ’s eyebrows to raise.
“That’s cheeky." The priest remarked, a small smile on his face, "Not even I have the will to bend numbers like that. Check the reporters for this headline, find out who did this, and give them a raise!” Wolōcoāλ burst out laughing, Iƶqīnλi recoiling in response. “No but seriously, I don’t want another court case with the Temples. I need those reporters to my office.”
“Friend, I am not… Entirely against using the figures we have been given.” Iƶqīnλi responded, taking a breather from his cigar for a brief moment as Wolōcoāλ’s eyebrows raised higher than before.
“Iƶqīnλi, I never considered you as one for manipulating data. That was always my job."
“If we remove the 119,700 from the image, and we make sure at least initially on the article we label the refugees as transnational, then we are not lying.” the priest’s friend explained, pointing to each part of the paper. For a moment, both men sat in silence. Wolōcoāλ leaned back in his chair as Iƶqīnλi sat in anticipation. Eventually the priest spoke up:

“Got any more cigars?”

Sighing, Iƶqīnλi rummaged through his trouser’s pocket and pulled out the box for Wolōcoāλ, who dropped his original one into a half-filled ash tray and began to retrieve his match box.
“Will you not respond to my idea?” Iƶqīnλi asked, his voice tense. The priest lit his second cigar, shrugging.
“Bring it up with Malēlin, I trust her judgement for proposals like this.” He explained, continuing to sit back with his cigar and his friend beginning to do the same.
Both in silence for several minutes as they enjoyed the relative quietness away from the office space and the city as a whole. Eventually though the priest began to speak once more.
“I attempted to try one of the foul Calaɥīnla YUULs the other day, I can never understand why one would replace the finer tastes over sugar and fruit.” Wolōcoāλ remarked, pulling out his half-smoked cigar to analysis it. Iƶqīnλi flashed one of his usual hyena smiles before returning to a solemn look.
“The paper will be out the day after tomorrow. I will see if I can reach the main writer and Malēlin in time.” He concluded, Wolōcoāλ nodding in agreement.

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The Truths of Metztli

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Tonight’s Headlines:

“Sitallian Refugees reach an all-time high.”
“Opinion: Castellino and Sitallo, cynics to love.”

 

General Maliano’s butchery of the Azlo and Huang people of eastern Sitallo has shown no signs of stopping as last week over 9,000 international refugees had passed the border into Tlaxcalixe according to the IRCE and TTY. This is a record high and there are no signs of stopping.

The International Red Cross of Eurth and the West Border Army (Tōnatiw Tamačīwtoc Yaoqīzqē) have worked tirelessly over the past four years within the borderlands of Tlaxcalixe as the dominion has become flooded with Tapelt and Hong migrants fleeing from the barbaric General Maliano who has been brutally suppressing the inhabitants of the eastern states of Sitallo, with the Sitallian government snuggled up in Sīta ti Fitōria doing nothing to end the violence.

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Overall, over 256,000 refugees have made the perilous journey across the border into Metztlitlaca. Refugees in such high numbers have begun to overwhelm refugee camps, forcing many to travel further inland into treacherous lands or towards imperialist controlled Kaseka. Or stay in squalor and disease at the already cramped refugee camps.

The Tlaxcalixe government has sent an appeal to the Temple of Collective Intent and to other dominion governments across Metztlitlaca for greater aid in manpower and resources yet only Tepanizo and the Northern Dominion have responded with supplies, the Tepanizo government alone providing 2,000 new tents for their Tapelt brothers, but more should be done to aid our oppressed brothers across the border in “Democratic” Sitallo. The Triple Commonwealth, as usual, has remained silent about their own refugee populations, but both the TTY and a LAANN-based refugee survey team estimate that only 16% of refugees leaving Maliano’s territory go through the Triple Commonwealth, the other 84% going through Metztlitlaca. Less than two out of every ten refugees pass through the Triple Commonwealth!

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The West Border Army’s Correspondent, Zilonī Wiƶīliɥwīƶin, has released a statement on the matter, requiring “immediate aid” towards northern Tlaxcalixe border towns, as violence spewed over by General Maliano’s torment has begun to directly affect the lives on the border away from the main refugee pathways.
 

More on the Sitallo Refugee Crisis:
General Maliano Soldiers spotted beyond the border
Temple of Collective Intent nulls 2014 Sitallo-Metztlican Hard Border Treaty amidst chaos.

· · ·

As of January 18th, San Castellino has banned same-sex relationships, similarly a year ago the Occidental Democratic Republic of Sitallo had reinforced the illegality of same-sex marriages within the nation and has made backwards strides towards outlawing commune livings which flies directly in the face of Wēcatoc teachings in favour of Europo-Argisian Catholic teachings. These acts fly in the face of personal freedoms, personal freedoms that allow individuals to love who ever they wish to love, to marry who ever they wish to marry, personal freedoms Metztlitlaca has championed since its inception. We have yet to see any reaction from the freedom loving Mauridivians, however we can be safe to assume they are similarly upset at our neighbour's actions against freedom and love. Although our own nation has its faults, to be so blatantly cynical towards the choices a freeman should be able to partake in is

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  • 3 weeks later...

“Do you have any sort of identification with you? This can be local identification or national identification.”

Mazatl took a second going through his small bag. He was surprised to hear the Seylosian soldier at the checkpoint speaking to him in his own language. He produced a small book passing it over to the soldier.

The Seylosian held it up raising his eyebrow, motioning to another nearby. The other soldier walked up beside him, what looked like the first soldier’s supervisor. He took a glance at Mazatl and turned back to his subordinate speaking in Anglish, “Looks alright. Some sort of travel papers, I’m guessing from going over the border?”

The first soldier shrugged and nodded, his supervisor walking away to another case nearby, “Alright then, state your name.”

“Mazatl Xochimtl,” he replied, nervously wringing his hands on his bag.

The soldier stared at his hands for a second before continuing on, “Where are you coming from?”

“Tlaxcalixe” Mazatl replied.

The soldier closed his eyes for a second, looking like he was burying his frustration. Mazatle could tell the man had been through this same line of questioning at least a hundred times already that day and it was clearly wearing on him, “You’re from @Metztlitlaca?”

“Oh, no no. Sitallo. Moyoluani.”

The soldier’s gaze softened, “I see. I’m sorry to hear about it. Alright gather your things. You see that woman over there, I need you to take the document you just gave me and give her all the information you can. She’ll get you sorted alright?”

Mazatl nodded grabbing the one other bag he had with him and began to walk away. The soldier gave him a brief nod before waving over the next person behind Mazatl and calling out behind him.

“Welcome to Kaseka.”

Mazatl looked ahead towards the woman he was supposed to walk over to but couldn’t help himself as he glanced slightly to the side, to take a look at the city itself. The skyscrapers of Kaseka glimmered in the distance, he could even see fireworks going off in the harbor from some sort of celebration. Until not that long ago he had honestly never dreamed of ever coming here, or even given it a second thought. It’s not like he had never seen a large city before, but with everything that had been happening Kaseka had become a sort of beacon of hope for him. He was just glad he had made it.

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Governor Mahuizoh Maclver was going through some paperwork in her office when she heard a brisk knock at the door. Her assistant stuck his head in briefly, “The Humanitarian Affairs representatives are here to see you ma’am.”

“Show them in,” Mahuizoh replied, waving her hand towards herself.

Three people walked in one in a naval uniform, the other two dressed in civilian attire. The man in the naval uniform stepped forward extending his hand, “Governor, it’s good to meet you. I’m Commander Aonghas McEachern, and these are doctors Jeni Mitchell and Bryon Breckinridge from Selbourne University and Dunblane University respectively.”

Mahuizoh smiled, making sure to shake the hands of both of the others before gesturing for them to sit down, “It’s good to meet you all. We’ve been expecting you for some time. I hope the trip to Kaseka wasn’t too bad?”

Dr. Mitchell chuckled, “I’m terrified of planes Governor, but I think it’s worth it to help with what’s going on at the border.”

“Well I read the memo from the government, but I’d like it if you could explain further exactly what you are doing here?” Mahuizoh asked, the concern on her face was readily apparent. Kaseka had been dealing with this recent influx of refugees for some time and it had already becoming overwhelming for the local government. They could keep the people crossing the border fed and sheltered, but beyond that the money didn’t exist to expand on humanitarian operations in the refugee camps.

“We’ve been sent here by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to take over running the refugee camps north of the city Governor. Just like in the north of Seylos proper, the refugee crisis has already spun out of control, and it doesn’t help that most of the Azlo people surrounding Kaseka want to emigrate here to begin with, “ Dr. Breckinridge spoke up, “Even though we’ve been sent here to deal specifically with this we already have a lot of challenges to deal with.”

Mahuizoh’s pleasant demeanor shifted to a more irritated one quickly, “Exactly what are these challenges doctor.”

Breckinridge was slightly taken aback by her sudden change in tone, but decided to shake it off, “Frankly, the budget doesn’t exist for additional paid personnel from Seylos to be sent here to staff the camps. We have the money for the physical goods such as food, water, and so on. But with Ceris, we don’t have much we can contribute.”

“But,” Mitchell spoke up, “We’ve been sent here to utilize the refugee population to help build a more stable community. Humanitarian Affairs has essentially decided to treat the camps as a small city and work from there.”


“I’m sorry say that again? Utilize the refugees?” Mahuizoh replied, her tone become somewhat hostile.

“Oh no,” Mitchell said, “Not like that. We understand we have to operate with Kasekan laws in force, however Kasekan minimum wage makes for much less operating expenses on personnel than mainland Seylos. We want to utilize skilled refugees to help construct and maintain the camp’s infrastructure-”

“You do understand this isn’t some university experiment right?” Mahuizoh interrupted, “These people have gone through a lot to get here.”

“Governor, I assure you we understand. Under normal circumstances we’d have brought contractors over to help set this all up, but we just don’t have the money. At least this way we can employ them and help build the necessary infrastructure. We still have trained specialists that are able to come here and help facilitate that.”

Mahuizoh sighed, it wasn’t the prospect of employment that worried her so much. Kasekan minimum wage was far more than any of these people usually got back in their homeland. But she had to be aware of the optics of the situation. It didn’t look particularly good having the refugees building their own camps. She honestly wasn’t even against it, this particular approach was actually quite novel as far as fiscal matters were concerned.

“Well I’m glad to have met you both, do you mind if I have a moment with the Commander?”

Both the doctors traded a glanced and nodded, getting up and walking back out the office door. Commander McEachern crossed his legs, a look of concern over his face, “Governor?”

“I’m assuming the Royal Navy will be handling all the logistics?”

“That’s why I’m here ma’am.” McEachern replied.

“And continued escorts for refugee ships?”

McEachern took an uncomfortable look after she asked that, “You know ma’am we can only have one ship in the area by treaty. Any other military vessel that comes into Kaseka can only stay for a short period.”

Disappointment came over Mahuizoh as she stood up, “Well I suppose it will be business as usual. There are just concerns... There are too many refugees making it through Metztlitlaca to Kaseka. We think it's possible that Metztlitlaca might be manipulating this somehow, though we don't know why yet. Regardless Commander, I can take this up with the Monarchy.”

The Commander almost turned around to leave before stopping himself, “If you don’t mind me asking ma’am-”

“My last name? My mother was from Kaseka, my father was from Alba.”

McEachern’s eyes widened, “Oh no ma’am, I meant the fireworks. I apologize-”

Mahuizoh waved her hand, “I’m sorry Commander, I’m used to people asking me that as a first question. It’s the Maize Festival.”

“Maize Festival?”

She pointed out her window out across the bay, “Over in Mllpa Tianquitzli is where earlier Seylosian traders traded for corn, it’s what had kept the settlement alive for decades before more permanent supply lines had been established. I suppose the celebration these days is more of a celebration of prosperity than anything else.”

“Well,” McEachern replied, “I hope we can keep that festival running uninterrupted.”

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

A sterile blue light illuminated from a projector onto a dull grey wall, the only light source in the room.
“This man is Alez Pellamo” A middle-aged Sitallan man announced, standing in front of several seated soldiers and Lieutenant generals. All the men in the room wore similar cream-yellow outfits designed to match the arid savanna of southern Sitallo. On the screen was a photo from 2016 of Alez exiting a red roofless car.

“He is the de facto leader of a major branch of la Milice Confédérée Sudiste, or MCS. Alez and several other high level terrorists make up their high command, called les Gilets Jaunes, the Yellow Jackets. The most notable of which is their so-called President Ferrand” The screen moved onto the next slide of Alez with photos of Camille, Ƶantico, and other Yellow Jacket individuals with many of the photos clearly from criminal line ups Above all of the photos was one of Ferrand, an older man with a balding head and greying beard wearing a similar uniform to the lieutenants but with more medals strewn across his uniform than any individual in the room.
“There are currently six known terrorist organisations who have formed the MCS. Those we will be expected to confront are the so-called ‘Liberty’ Libete Militia, the Xochitla Militia, the Tlácoti Militia, and Alez’s ‘New Sitallo’ Militia. Combined they have a military size of nine to eleven thousand soldiers. This makes the MCS the largest active terrorist organisation within the country with an active combatant army comparable to those of General Lèn and General Palisi.” The presenter continued. Everyone in the room remained silent and polite with only one hand raised in the far back by a Lieutenant.

“With all due respects, this information is already accessible by us, why is it necessary for us to go through this presentation?” The man with the raised hand asked the presenter, who swiftly responded with what could only sound like an actor reading directly off a script.
“This is protocol. It is required by any active division of General-President Tario’s army to undergo a spoken presentation before any decisions regarding combat are to be made. I assume you are new here?”.
The man stared towards the presenter and answered with a blunt ‘no’.
The presenter waited for several seconds for any other questions before moving onto the next slide, which was of southern Sitallo with 12 cities labelled in orange and a thirteenth city in red labelled ‘Wastepan’.
“Wastepan is a city on the border of the President-General Army and General Maliano’s territories. It is the city with the highest level of violence committed by the MCS and marks the furthest border away from the MCS’ core cities. Osīy Wiƶ is also currently being used as a forward base by Alez Pellamo, Camille Acinax, Tsantico Ciwátlácotli, and a fourth yet-unknown Yellow Jacket. General Maliano has sent concerns to the President-General about MCS and that he believes the President-General has been inadequate in containing the terrorist organisation.”
The Presenter turned his stare to the original outspoken Lieutenant before twisting back to meet the eyes of everyone in the room.
“We are, by orders of the President-General, to assure General Maliano of our army’s supremacy over terrorists and to either force a large-scale retreat by the Milice Confédérée Sudiste or to encircle and destroy the city with the four Yellow Jacket members inside. We will be performing the latter, with the former as an option if the latter fails.”

“When will this take place?” The lieutenant in the far back requested.

· · ·

“Twenty days.” Alez announced, spreading out a large map of the city of Osíy Wits, the same map as before, across a large wooden table. On either side of the table a Camille and Ƶantico leaned over to inspect the map. The three yellow jackets were situated in the centre of the university’s library, which shockingly over the years has largely survived the chaos and violence with minimal stolen books and torn down walls. “Twenty days until Tario’s reinforcements arrive according to our correspondence within Tario’s middle ranks. We must decide now, do we stay or do we fall back to Nouveau Réel? I am for staying.”
“Fall back.” Ƶantico butted in, hesitation absent in her voice. “If they came to a single militia within a week, and they are planning to wait over half a month to come to us, then they know something we don’t. Something that gives them enough confidence that if we even take the city, we’ll be just a new layer of paint on these walls by the end of the month.”
“Or that they’re underprepared, and need time to gather men and resources. You know better than anyone else that Maliano and Tario’s men are almost at each other’s throats. You’re giving him too much credit.” Alez counter, leaning slightly more towards the centre of the table and putting both hands down onto the map.
“Tario is a pig and Maliano is a cow, I wouldn’t give either more credit then what I’ve seen with my own eyes. Two years now we’ve been trying to cross this God forsaken river past Osíy Wits into Maliano’s death arena he calls his army’s home. Continuing any further will only lead to more deaths.” Ƶantico parried, also leaning closer into the table.
“We stop now and retreat, it will only confirm to those butchers that we cannot go beyond our towns, two years for nothing, our men and women dead for nothing. If we stop now, where else do we go?”
“This will only mean more deaths. Palisi’s army is far weaker and villages under his thumb have already agreed to help us. We can grow our numbers and try again next year or the year after.”
“Attacking Palisi will only open a third front, do you believe that if we stopped and fled from Osíy Wits that Tario or even Maliano wouldn’t try chase us?”
“At least if they did we could find a better position to defend.!”

“Excuse me, both of you.” Camille meekly spoke up. Both Ƶantico and Alez were centimetres apart from each other’s faces, staring right into each other’s eyes. Both of the yellow jackets slowly leaned back down to their respected sides of the table, staring fiercely towards the youngest of the three. “Why are we pretended like this is some war game with unbroken front lines? Can’t we just like… Go around the city?”
For a brief moment Alez and Ƶantico exchanged a glance.
“Go on...” Alez encouraged, his voice peaked partially with confusion but also intrigue.
“I mean, I know I’m not an experienced general like either of you so this might be wrong but, we’ve been besieging out Tario’s men only on the eastern side. And we’ve not been attacked by any flanking squadron so the men inside the city can’t be too many, so why don’t we just go around the city and taken hold of the villages around it. When the reinforcements arrive they’ll have to split up because we’ll know if they just attack one group at a time, and allow us to attack their sides.”

The room went silent.

“Is… Is that a bad idea?”
Alez and Ƶantico exchanged a second glance, as if asking the other to respond first.
“I, uh.” Alez coughed. “We would need to know more about the reinforcements. We already have surveys of the topography of the area. And of course consult the others.”
“And if Tario’s men inside the city see us leave the city, they will believe we are fleeing entirely. As long as we do it at night.” Ƶantico realised. “The villages are most likely already evacuated, the ones on the eastern and southern sides already are.”
Alez turned to Ƶantico with a face of disbelief “you want to attempt a surprise attack with an entire division of men against what could be potentially a two to one or more disadvantage?”
“It’s our only chance if we are to take the city.” She replied, staring down at the map.
“You have changed your mind?” Alez said, failing to hold back a smile.
“No.” She replied, Alez’s smile immediately being wiped clean off as he returned to professionalism. “We should discuss this with the others, both here in the city and at quarters with the President.”
“Agreed”
“Ay.”
“Then it is settled,” Ƶantico remarked, her eyes swaying from Camille to Alez. “We will fall back from the city, to stay at the city.”

Edited by Metztlitlaca (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

The Greater Dominion Council room was a large cube with a light grey carpet and wooden walls with sound-proofing foam. Situated in the room were three C-shaped tables with a total of around 500 seats.

Xōchiyo sat in her modest throne at the back of the room with the tables facing her, she’d become quite an expert at holding her own tongue and extending her patience over the past two decades of her rule as Archpriest. But on this particular day her nails were sunken into the softwood frame of the throne with a frown across her face and deep sunken eyes. Besides her was a Λaxcalixe representative reading out loud from a red book that was open on a pedestal in front of him.
“-The increase budget of the Temple of the Warriors towards research and development of alternative technology will ensure our leverage against Sitallo in the likely case of war. Current firearms and artillery from our allies in Fulgistan would not be sufficient if we desire a certainty of victory!” The representatives shouted. Counsellors from every dominion across the nation were screaming and yelling towards each other in total disregard of the representative at the pedestal. Xōchiyo had had enough, letting out a long drawn out sigh before yelling out to the council.
“Tecpāna! (Order!)” She barked. The council went silent, those standing returning to their seats sheepishly.

“You are the representatives of the people of this country – act as such!” the Archpriestess scowled like a mother to disobedient children. Several of the councillors glanced towards the Archpriest before the representative continued before everyone turned their attention to the representative.
“Thank you, your holiness. To repeat myself, increasing the budget towards the Temple of the Warriors’s research and development wing is paramount towards victory for a potential conflict with Sitallo. We can no longer deny that General Maliano has begun to inflict hostile invasions across the border into Λaxcalixe towns and villages. We have all seen the footage from the Temple of the Warriors and the videos posted online by foreigners.”

A man from the inner table stood up, bowing to the representative who bowed back, the man speaking up.
“I agree with what you say, my friend, but Sitallo is no longer the threat they were decades past, a war with General Maliano would be swift. He is the most irredeemable of the Sitallan Generals and none would aid nor honour him.”
Several men and women around the tables murmured in agreement to one another, nodding heads. The representative took in a deep breath and began his rebuttal, placing both hands on the pedestal.
“War with General Maliano would bring us to war with the other Generals, if our armies crossed the border into Sitallo the other generals will – rightly so – feel threatened. To them it would not be a war against Maliano, but a war against Sitallo.” He confidentially announced, the murmuring increasing in volume. “And let us not forget the recent inter-imperial violence within Europa. Anglia’s recent invasion of the Social Democratic Confederation has come without condemnation from neither of the Imperiums nor Arome. Anglia has been accepted by the imperialists as one of their own. Today it is Europa, tomorrow it is Alharu, next week it will be us.”

Another counsellor, a Mayōcaʮ representative, stood up from one of the tables further from the centre, both men bowing as he interjected. “I don’t wish to bring you any harm friend, but Anglia has shown no desire for further expansion beyond the Socialites much less beyond the continent of Europa. Their acts of aggression are not of our concern. To use warfare from another continent to justify a budget increase of the Temple of the Warriors for the Λaxcalixe state to use as new toys for a refugee crisis is, may I be honest, a dishonest act.” The murmuring slowly began to rise into uproar from the Λaxcalixe state representatives, a Tepanec representative counsellor rising up:
“Why must the Mayōcaʮ interject in Tapelt affairs, the Λaxcalixe are not the only ones suffering from increased refugees!”
Within seconds the council has devolved back into pandemonium with representatives yelling towards each other. Xōchiyo let out a long drawn out groan, slumping into her throne with hands over her face in frustration. With a raised hand she dismissed the original representative back to his seat, and let the council shout at one another for a full ten seconds before shouting herself.
“Tecpāna! (Order!)” She barked again as she shuffled back into a proper posture. The council dying back down as those standing took back to their seats. “Discussion of the Paper is over, let us proceed to the vote.” The Archpriestess announced, raising her left hand. “Those who support the creation of the Alternative Weapons Division of the Temple of the Warriors with a budget increase for both the Alternative Weapons and to raise the quality of firearms and artillery.” She then raised her right hand. “Those who do not support creation of the Alternative Weapons Division of the Temple of the Warriors with an increased budget.”

After several minutes, the votes were collected by the 500 members and tallied up.
“326 for support of the paper, to 172 against the paper.” Xōchiyo announced, the murmuring returned. “It is decided.”

-----------

Capital_Paper.png

The Capital Paper
"Dire Times brings a desperately needed boost to the Temple of the Warriors"
"Činpača Anti-Continentalist Protests shockingly approved for early May"
"Minor tremors north of the Capital, a sign of what's to come?"

 

 

Dire Times brings a desperately needed boost to the Temple of the Warriors.
(Publish Date: 12/04/2021)
With Sitallo and the Dominions coming closer to conflict with every passing week, and unnecessary Sitallan aggression spilling across the borders directly with troops clashing or indirectly with refugees, the representatives of the Dominion of Λaxcalixe and the Dominion of Tepanec have successfully convinced other counsellors of the Greater Dominion Council in a 65% majority for a boost to the current budget of the Temple of the Warriors for the next budget redraw in Mid May, and the formation of a new arm to the Temple of the Warriors called Meƶλiximic, a state-owned pesticides and chemical weapons company. Representatives from the Greater Dominion Council have released a press statement on the formation of Meƶλiximic as a "necessary good" for the country, to "advance our great Dominions into the modern age, at a time of unease and conflict".



Metztliximic.png
Meƶλiximic's Company Logo, derived from an interpretation of a molecule, the basic building blocks of materials.
Copyright of logo owned by the Meƶλiximic State Corporation (2021)


However, not everyone has been so positive on the manner, the Calpōleɥkeλ (Mayor) of the Calpōlli of the capital of the nation has been outspoken in his disagreement over the passing of the paper, seeing it as a "kneejerk reaction to foreign wars and a dishonourable general", the foreign war in question being the recent conflict between Anglia and the Social Democratic Confederation which began on Saturday. The Dishonourable General is no doubt General Maliano of Sitallo, infamous for his crossing of the border and attempted kidnapping of children to force in his army. The formation of Meƶλiximic and its subsequent work in the future will hopefully return some sense to the deranged general and bring him back to the negotiation table before war is ever necessary.


Činpača Anti-Continentalist Protests shockingly approved for early May.
After several weeks of haggling, the Teopan of Collective Intent and the Teopan of Culture and Religious Life have, to many people's surprise, given permission for the 80-odd group of anti-continentalists known as "Qizpicilla" to have their protest in Činpača's capital of Qizpī on the 8th of May under the pretence that the protest must remain peaceful otherwise the group will face charges from fines to imprisonment. Photography and video recording of the protest must also remain within the country following standard Metztlican Photography laws. The group, Qizpicilla, is one of few anti-continentalism groups given permission for active public display by the Teopan of Culture and Religious Life since the Free Speech Laws of 2016, notable in permitting the formation of non-government sponsored activist groups and an opening for non-Tritheocratic Constitutional religions to become recognised by the state, such as the February 2020 recognition of the Tagmatine sect of Christianity, and the

Edited by Metztlitlaca
Spacing Error (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

“Take up arms, my son, raise your spears and qāwītl to the Mun I sit upon, slam the edge of your shields into the Eurth My Love rests within. The land of the Heart and Heaven will be fraught with new unforeseen challenges but you are close. Seek the peaks for which I may touch from the Mun, to hold your face and bring you to the Highest Heaven where the others before you rest their weary heads.”

This was supposedly told to by the Archpriest Ačtoxocpalpan by the Goddess Lōzōnxicoyol and the last such supposed message by the Goddess before the settling of modern day Sitallo and Metztlitlaca. Ačtoxocpalpan lived in the late 200s AD and is thought by Archaeologists and Theologians to be the first Archpriest to step into Mesothalassa in 289 AD according to known scripts and the uncovering of old Azlo camps that dated to around the 200s-300s. Of course whether or not Lōzōnxicoyol actually came down from the heavens to speak to Ačtoxocpalpan is up to one's own religious beliefs.

 

The return of the scouts sent out the previous night to survey the surrounded villages left the blacked out university in a whirl of preparations, planning, and packing. It had been agreed upon that the Tlácoti Militia would remain in the city under the guide of Camille. Within almost every surviving room of the university were men and women packing food, ammo, water, equipment, and firearms into bags. Alez sat in his own personal room upon his bed, an old dorm room which had more signs of damage and abuse when it was used by teenagers than by the war raging around it, red graffiti strewn across one of the walls. The general folded an old uniform of his carefully, making sure the edges of the clothing aligned, before attempted to insert it into the bag only for it to not fit. A shallow sign slipped out of his mouth as he began to shove and push the uniform inside, but the bag was too full. Eventually the general let out a roar of frustration and dumped the contents of the bag on the floor as he slowly repacked, making sure everything took up as little room as possible.
"Trouble?" A voice echoed into the room. Alez turned his head to see Ƶantico with her own bag hanging loose in her hand.
"Just give me a second" Alez remarked in turn, his voice still clinging to his frustration as he continued to pack clothes, cleaning items, and a small handgun. Slowly, Ƶantico walked up to Alez and sat down on the other end of his bed.
"The Xochitla Militia and I will be moving out in an hour to the north-west village on the hills. The Libete Militia left three hours ago, they radioed back they had arrived without incident." She explained
"I know, I know," Alez responded, rolling his eyes and a second sigh, half his bag packed again. "I will move with a quarter of the New Sitallo Militia two hours after your departure, 5:15 am. Sunrise at 6:55 am, we will have an hour and a half to evacuate and reach the eastern village. My son and the other Grey Jackets will coordinate the other three quarters" From out the window, the two generals heard the distinct voice of Camille, ordering part of his militia into performing training exercises to distract the eyes of any potential President Tario scout. Alez's gaze turned from Ƶantico to the uniform on his lap, refolding it with hesitation and precision. She similarly turned her focus to the uniform, frowning for a moment before realisation kicked in.
"You brought your old uniform? Out here?" She said, her face almost in shock. "If your men, or anyone, sees this-"
"It will be fine. It's my motivator. Remind me what I'm fighting for." He stated, his voice blunt, patting the uniform before finally being able to slot it into his bag. "Piēx Lane should be our fasted route to the eastern village."
Her face of shock twisted into one of confusion then to the roll of eyes. "I thought you said we were not to tell one another our evacuation routes - and why such an obvious road?"
"Only one large enough for us to maintain our flanks in case of ambush. All others would require us to spread across multiple routes even when the militia is in fours, and I don't want to deal with any potential issues when I'm two roads away and unable to see what's going on for myself." He explained, lifting himself up with a grunt from his bed and lifting his bag up and onto his back. "Hope to hear back from you soon."
"You two" she said, getting up and swinging the bag onto her back and left the room down a hallway. As Alez was about to leave the room himself, he momentarily paused at the doorway, turning towards the graffiti across the wall. His eyes remained locked to it for several seconds, his arm stretching out to search the wall near the doorframe for the light, flicking it off. Slowly the old general slipped away, the door creaking shut.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Xōchiyo was wrapped up in her duvet, her nose and eyes peaking out of a silk-white blanket cocoon. A ray of warm yellow light fell upon the Archpriestess’ face, causing her to tighten her eyes and roll to the other side of the bed, the cocoon of duvets unwrapping themselves. Slowly she opened her eyes, rubbing her face with her hand, and looked to the door. Two silhouettes stood at either end of the door, a man and a lady, whispering to one another.
“What time is it?” Xōchiyo moaned, her voice sore and groggy.
“My love, there’s something on the news.” The man remarked, his voice choked with apprehension.
“If it’s on the news, it reached the Committee first. Now let me sleep” She groaned, twisting her body underneath the unrolled sheets. The two silhouettes hesitated in movement.
“It’s about Tlaxcalixe. They-” The lady began, but before she could get another word out Xōchiyo had already leaped out of the bed and rushed into the next room, which was your standard high class Azlo communal room, decked out with modern couches, tables, and a fancy decorated rug of the nation’s coat of arms. Across the room was a large flat screen TV, the sound muted, but the visuals were enough to stop Xōchiyo in her tracks.

Breaking_News.png

 

“Those bastards.” Xōchiyo sighed and sat down on a nearby couch with head in hands. The man and lady sat on either end of the couch, giving Xōchiyo enough space on either side.
“Doesn’t that mean Tlaxcalixe… You’ll call a meeting? Right?” The lady asked, her tone drenched in anxiety, Xōchiyo took in a deep breath, sighing again.
“I don’t know.. I know why they’re doing this though.” She responded, removing her hands from her face and looking out to the TV which had changed to two presenters talking about ‘Article 11’.
“Why?” The man asked, carefully putting his hand on Xōchiyo’s back. Almost immediately she rose up to her feet causing him to flinch.
“It’s f*ckin’ Maliano. That’s why.” Xōchiyo announced, beginning to pace back and forth with her arms crossed close to her body. “They’re pushing us to do something. But we’re already bloody doing something!”
“You’ll need to do something else then, otherwise the newspapers tomorrow will say ‘Article 11 approved, government does nothing’.” The man responded, leaning back and crossing his arms. For a while afterwards, no one said anything. The only noise came from Xōchiyo’s feet dragging across the rug. Far away, through one of the windows, she glanced at sun half buried below horizon. It was early 7am, the Capital Paper – the bastards – were probably getting ready to finalise the midday print. She stopped pacing and turned her full attention to the landscape outside. Her home wasn’t rural, at least compared to the isolated towns and villages throughout her Domain, but the roadless view out into a forested valley below helped bring back the calm. She came closer to the window, uncrossing her arms.
“Alright. Alright.. Tlawē,” She began, turning her head towards the man, who nodded in response.
“Can you send out a memo to the papers, that they’ll be a committee meeting to discuss the court nonsense. Please, my love” Xōchiyo request, the man nodding again.
“Any specific time?” He asked, Xōchiyo shaking her head in response. Tlawē steadily lifted himself up from the couch, nodding at her and the lady before quickly exiting to the room. A minute passed before she continued.
“I’ll organise the meeting for tonight.” Xōchiyo declared, pushing herself off away from the window. The archpriestess closed her eyes. In her mind, the path forward made itself clear, the branches and bushes of frustration and confusion shifting aside. Slowly she began to walk towards the same door Tlawē had gone through, just before she could exit the communal area, the lady spoke up with a smile on her face.
“Great, my love. But please put some clothes on first.” The lady said, her hands clutching one another. Xōchiyo looked down to release she was still only in her sleeping cloak.
“Thank you” She mumbled, her face flustering red, quickly changing directions and walked back into her room hastily searching for some formal attire.

· · ·

“Early this morning, today, the Tlaxcalixe Dominion courts rule that Article 11, Paper 11, the process to which Tlaxcalixe can declare its independence from the Dominions of Metztlitlaca, is a legally binding law despite not being ratified by neither the Greater Dominion Council nor the Standing Committee. I believe we can all agree that this is a breach of Dominion power, yes?” A committee member announced towards a seated group of 21 other individuals, several of them murmuring in agreement. Seating amongst them was Xōchiyo in a standard suit and tie. Out of the 22 in the modernist styled office room, 14 were representatives of the Dominions and 6 of major industries and groups within the country, and the last two being Xōchiyōtletzintli as Archpriestess and Qawzāwatl as Leading Secretary. Xōchiyo stared blankly towards the committee member on stage, the meeting had already been going on for two hours, and out of everyone in who had a significant stake in the Metljix and Alōmino Conzītli companies, she had to pick the man who talks like a dealer with a sales pitch.

She let out a silent sigh, her fingers tapping her knees.
“Five meetings in a week, new record huh?” Qawza whispered, leaning slightly towards her. His ever-present charismatic smile twisted and bent like rebar on his face and tightly combed back black hair. Xōchiyo rolled her eyes and stood up from her chair, the entire committee turning to stare towards her.
“Yes thank you Tlanextic.” She said, walking around the desks and chairs towards where the committee member was standing.
“Ah-but I’m not-” Tlanextic stutter, frozen in place. Xōchiyo placed her hand on the man’s shoulder, gently pushing him out of the way. Slowly he made his way back to his chair, some of the members on the other side of the room sighing in relief that his speech was cut short.
“Thank you Tlanextic” She said again, her tone more forceful. “We are here because we need to discuss the ramifications of Article 11. This is a severe breach of the constitution and those involved must be punished.”
She paused for a moment, her eyes scanning the room.
“Last time a Dominion broke the constitution, most of you were not part of this committee. Now you are.”
Everyone in the room knew what she meant, several members in the room squirmed in their chairs with others beginning to sweat. The representative of Tlaxcalixe turned a shade of green. The Archpriestess’ eyes locked onto anyone’s who had the gall to look at her face, remaining silent as the tension grew in the room. Once the room had become suitably uncomfortable, Xōchiyo continued.
“For now, we will play ball with the courts. No one in this room is to acknowledge the existence of Article 11. At the next council meeting we will bring up the possibility of new sanctions and defence guards on the western border. If Tario cannot keep Maliano on a leash any more, we will.”
All of committee members nodding their heads in agreement, or at least pretend to be in agreement.
“After Maliano is dealt with, we will deal with Tlaxcalixe and those who dared to break the constitution.”

The message sank into the room. The Archpriestess turned her attention away from the group and pulled out a small stack of white cards from her suit’s breast pocket, flipping through a couple.
“Next, Metztliximic progress. Ciha?”
Xōchiyo lifted her head, in far back a young lady stood up with a clipboard clutched her chest. The youngest in the room, mid-twenties, was also the scrawniest and tallest. Being the only ‘pure blood’ Shffahkian in the room she stood out like a sore thumb. The Archpriestess stepped to the left, providing Ciha the centre of the front of the room.
“Thank you, my uhm, my Archpriest.” She said, Xōchiyo didn’t respond, and instead slowly walked around the perimeter of the room. The room remained silent until Xōchiyo was back in her seat and Ciha had made it to the point the Archpriest had laid out for her. Ciha quickly flipped through a couple pages in her clipboard.
“The-uh tests from May 25th to June the 1st show promising results..” Ciha glanced towards the wall behind her, then towards the Archpriestess. “Ah-uh, may I?”
Xōchiyo nodded. The lady quickly scrambled to a nearby desk with a lone computer, and turned it on. From her pocket she fumbled with a small USB stick, plugging it into the side. Several awkward minutes passed, as an old projector on the ceiling came to life, a PowerPoint slide revealing itself.

unknown.png

 

“The chlorine tests were not testing the chlorine itself, it was a test of safety and to ensure our written guidelines and methods was accurate and of high quality.” She remarked, flipping to a previous page. “Land transport proved difficult, and suitable aquatic conditions should be considered an unlikely event. So air transport or off-road vehicle transport are our best options.” She said. A member in the far back raised their hand. Ciha nodded and the individual stood up, bowing his head once before speaking.
“Any reason why specifically the NT-IIs?” He asked, Ciha glancing away for a second before continuing.
“It was just an example, but we found the NT-IIs the easiest to retrofit the required storage and equipment for the chemicals – at least with chlorine.” She responded, the member sitting down and Ciha shuffling to the computer to move onto the next slide.

unknown.png

 

“Most methods of releasing the chlorine proved to fail, or would not work with suspended particle solutions-” Before Ciha could continue her sentence Qawza stood up.
“Is there a reason for the use of chlorine at such an early stage? Wouldn’t a non-toxic gas be a safer solution?” He asked, his interrogative tone like weights on her body. Ciha gulped and began to answer.
“The chlorine was low concentration, the worst effects of direct exposure would have been irritation of the throat and eyes. Chlorine was used as a tool for those being trained in its transport and release to not be careless. Today its chlorine, tomorrow it could be something far more lethal.”
Qawza turned his gaze to Xōchiyo who was sat beside him, her arms crossed with a poker face. He shrugged and sat back down. Ciha remained silent for a couple seconds in case someone else spoke up.
“Current methods, as stated on the slide, are timed explosives or containers connected to sprays on a timer-.”
Once again Ciha was interrupted, this time by the Archpriestess herself standing up.
“Ciha, as much as this is crucial information for Metztliximic, do you have any updates on development of chemicals?”
Ciha blinked a couple times, her mind processing what the Archpriest has just said.
“Oh, right, sorry.” She said, hopping back to the computer and tapping past several other sides.
“We’ve been working on a group of solvent-based solutions as well as gases. NMDA antagonists, prototype nerve agent solutions, mustard gases. The latter showing promise whereas the other two will require some time to develop. There is also some work into...” Ciha flipped through some of her pages on the clipboard, near the end. “Bacillus anthracis, anthrax, as a possible bio-weapon, however we do not have the funding, knowledge, or credentials to pursue this.”
“And you won’t be given those either.” Qawza remarked, still sitting. “These weapons are for incapacitating our enemies, not rendering their cities uninhabitable for a generation.”
“Yes. Of course.” Ciha mumbled, nodding to the Leading Secretary.
“And on that note, I believe we are done here for tonight.” Xōchiyo concluded. Ciha awkwardly standing in the middle of the room as other members of the committee began to pack up their suitcases. The Archpriest walked up to Ciha, handing her her suitcase, “Thank you Ciha, but we’re done here for tonight.” Xōchiyo picked up her own suitcase from under her table and began to walk out of the room with everyone else.

“We’re done here… Right” Ciha mumbled, the last to leave the committee room.

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Sitallan_Foreign_Office.png

End National Correspondence: @Kirvina
End Office Correspondence: The Office of Lady Chrysanthe
From: The Tonato Regional Government of the Occidental Democratic Republic of Sitallo.


Hello dearest friend and ally,

For the past twenty years, your aid ad guidance for the Sitallan Republic has been nothing but a Godsend miracle. Without your aid I would have never reached my current position within Sitallo as Lieutenant General. Although communication between ourselves has gradually declined as internal affairs have kept us both busy, I would be amiss to say I wasn't keeping a friendly eye on your position in case my own debts had to be paid back, but I fear I may require further assistance here in Mesothalassa. Political tension and aggression on the subcontinent has reached levels akin to the prelude of the Great Alharun War, and we fear for consequences just as deadly.

Since the collapse of General President Tario's authority from the rise of ethnic terrorists and ideological extremists, Maliano has been expanding his influence across eastern Sitallo and into western Metztlitlaca, causing the latter to threaten Sitallo with violence. Whilst General Palisi and I have had no part in Maliano and Tario's expulsion in the Azlo Pagan Faith we are certain that if war is ever to come and that we fall to our knees, the Metztlican Archpriestess will blame and convict us the same as those madmen, and Anglia's aggressive imperialism needs no introduction I am sure we can agree. As such we are looking to expand our pool of allies into the Entente of Oriental States (which I know is a bloc of nations you are fond of and I must thank you for planting that seed of an idea in my mind from our last meeting long ago) and now we come to you for aid.

Currently My and Palisi's military equipment are inadequate for a potential full-scale war against neither Metztlitlaca or Anglia, and so we ask whether or not we would be able to purchase more up-to-date military firearms, vehicles, and hardware from Kirvinan factories. The complete list will be attached with this document.


Thank you for your time and I hope we can meet again in a more peaceful time,
Mictlan Tonato

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Addressing: Mictlan Tonato @Metztlitlaca
Issuing Party: Central Authority, 22 Ourandráthos, TUA

My sincere greetings, Tonato;

Correctly, we govern now over a period of instability. In truth I cannot say that the situation in Aurelia is altogether superior. The lethargy of local regimes as well as a lack of any consolidation of the cooperative front, and the failure of others to stockpile arms, means that should Anglia perform imperial adventurism- which in my suspicions it very likely will, in the most near future- Kirvina will be the only Aurelian faction equipped to respond immediately. Much to my distaste, this completely rules out the military option. Luckily for you, however, this makes the industrial resources I am able to possess sway over somewhat more available than they otherwise would be, should a large-scale bush war have fallen within my anticipations.

My condolences towards the disposition of Sitallo proper. I had been made aware when it began to degenerate, but that it has reached this point is news indeed. I would suggest that given the actions of Maliano, conflict with Metztlitlaca has become a real possibility. However this is a topic which I am sure you have performed adequate meditation towards. While I myself am conductor in function of the Aithálioi, remember that my position is not unassailable, and that should the reactionaries, regionalists, isolationists, pro-Europans, and assorted opportunists see a reason to lock horns with me, they will. The more aid I provide to your regime, and the more overt it is, the more likely Metztlitlaca will see fit to contact my adversaries looking to enlist their counter-benefaction, to befuddle the true value of what I can provide.

That said, Exarchs Konstantinos, Alexandros, Theodoros, of the Veneftheloi, who together could pose a serious challenge to a potential joint effort, have quite busied themselves with playing railroad warlord and knocking train-cars against each other. Even if they woke up tomorrow morning with the fervent desire to extricate themselves from the steppe, it might take them months to realign their resources in such a way that they could be mobilized against anyone, let alone one as closely positioned to them as me. In the interests of keeping this desire out of the waking wurld, I am willing to grant you what you seek, but with a measure more careful secrecy than a normative lend-lease program.

It so happens that owing to the Pan-Aurelian naïveté of a Shffahkian politician seeking my investment, I will be personally touring the railroads. This means I will personally be in Junction, where just about any measure becomes possible to arrange. If you are able to depart the country without it becoming known to your enemies, Tonato, then come yourself. If you are not, then send a liaison, I will deal with them. Consider your request fulfilled in the realm of small arms, personnel carriers, support equipment, area denial equipment, radio equipment, and a not insignificant number of mercenary soldiery. Where an invader expects conscripts, they will find instead veteran forces of Aroman temper.

When you are finished with this letter, destroy it.

By the grace of God,
Exarcha Chrysanthe STAMATIS.

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Sitallan_Foreign_Office.png

End National Correspondence: @Kirvina
End Office Correspondence: The Office of Lady Chrysanthe
From: The Tonato Regional Government of the Occidental Democratic Republic of Sitallo.


To Lady Chrysanthe,

Thank you for your condolences. I would not worry about Metztlitlaca reaching out to your rivals within your nation. The Metztlicans are known for their slow and heavy handed bureaucracy and sluggish foreign relationship responses, it would take them weeks to establish any new cordial relationships and months more before they allow new foreigners into their country. If your assessment of these railway warlords are correct it would take at least a year for them to coordinate any response against us. The only threat Metztlitlaca could pose would be by themselves or with the few allies they have yet to scare off. But your desire for secrecy will be fulfilled to the greatest extent my governorate can achieve. I will make sure of it.

I believe our process for the exchange of contracts and dealers it would be most beneficial if I come to Kirvina myself, both to speak to you in person and to avoid leaking of vital information. I have trust in General Palisi and my lieutenants to watch over my governorate in my absence. He is the only general in Sitallo I trust not to bring us closer to war with our neighbours. I will arrive by next week, the exact date I cannot say in case of this letter being compromised.

I pray this letter finds you in good health,
Mictlan Tonato.

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Temple of the Warriors Non-Combative Archives
Archive ID:
40252 - Xōchiyōtletzintli Maliano Meeting #3
Transcript Date: 24/05/2021 - Day/Month/Year
Recording Time: 02:29
Original Language: Lysian
Translated Language: Anglish
Restriction Level: Zeta (Z)
Location: ███████, ██████

Interviewer: Archpriest Xōchiyōtletzintli (XT:)
Interviewee: Maliano Bōno/Bòno (MB:)


Transcription Start
[00:00]

XT: Transcript recording start, thirteen forty two o'clock. Redaction test. Alpha. Beta. Zeta. ██████. ██. ██████. This transcript is the third recorded meeting between Archpriest Xōchiyōtletzintli and Maliano Bōno.
[Inaudible -  00:16]

XT: Yes, I know the saying 'third times the charm'. Will you bring him in?
[MB is brought into the meeting room - 00:25]

XT: Welcome back Maliano, I am sorry we had to cut the previous meeting short.
MB: It's my pleasure. I assume this meeting is about the border nonsense again?
XT: I thought we had agreed to take this matter seriously.
MB: I thought we agreed that you wouldn't treat me like a child.
[Silence - 00:33]

XT: Take a seat please.
[MB sits down - 00:34]

MB: Before we start recording, I would like to make it clear to you that it was never my intent for my people to enter your country. I think I can speak for both of us that neither of us want conflict.
XT: We've already started recording.
MB: Since when? 
XT: A minute ago.
[00:44]
MB: Well then, all the more proof my sentiment is genuine.
XT: Yes. Now I believe we left off at
MB: Extradition of refugees from Metztlitlaca to Sitallo.
XT: Interesting use of words, but yes.
MB: My choice of words are deliberate. They have broken the laws of Sitallo and have fled to Metztlitlaca in hopes of escaping punishment.
XT: Punishment for who they worship?
MB: Metztlitlaca is no different. You only allow certain sects of religions, Sitallo does not allow any form of religion. Like Shffahkia.
XT: Metztlitlaca allows sects of religions that are already within the nation. For a nation to be cohesive and to function it requires limits and boundaries.
MB: So does Sitallo, so does many other nations around the wurld.  
MB: Like Metztlitlaca, we do not wish for dangerous groups to exist within our borders.
XT: You believe our followers to be dangerous?
[Silence - 01:17]

MB: I believe we've strayed from the original purpose of this meeting.
XT: Yes we have.
XT: Surveys within Tlaxcalixe and Tepenec show that refugee numbers have reached over 300,000, a fifth of which has settled within Kaseka. It would take over a year for a full repatriation to take place, as we believe current facilities and infrastructure within eastern Sitallo are inadequate for habitation.
MB: Inadequate? They are inadequate because of damned pagan terrorists.
XT: Pardon me?
MB: Ah. Sorry. These pagans within Sitallo are not like those within Metztlitlaca. They have no one to guide them on their Godless journey, you at least keep them on a moral path.
XT: And they'd be immoral without a leader?
MB: I mean, a religion based around human sacrifice and demons are not basis for a moral society.
XT: If you word it as such, but I'd beg to differ. We are not like Ateenia or those other northern Argis barbarians.
MB: Yes, the difference being Ateenia does not have slaves anymore. Metztlitlaca does.
XT: Those that work in our camps are prisoners. Those that must, if I may use some Christian terminology, repent for their sins.
MB: Yes, and how well has that worked out for Metztlitlaca on the wurld stage?
XT: It has worked rather nicely, we've been able to uphold a stable economy. Has Sitallo?
MB: Metztlitlaca has its camps, Sitallo has its. Let's leave it at that.
XT: Sitallo has camps?
MB: I mean, not labour camps such as
[Inaudible - 02:23]

XT: I believe we are done here.
MB: No wait
XT: █████ please end the recording. The meeting is over.
[End - 02:29]

 

Teopac_of_the_Warriors.png

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  • 1 month later...

The door into the dark room creaked open, rays of artificial yellow light streamed through like panes of glass spilling out across the musty grey-white carpet and walls. From the hallway a large man emerged with a laptop under his arm. His silhouette cutting through the light and allowing the darkness in the room to crawl back in, temporarily, before he shuffled deeper into the room, his hand thumping and sweeping against the wall for the light switch causing dust to spray out into the obstructed light, corrupting its purity with tiny dancing particles. Finally his hand brushed against the old switch, and with a single flick of the finger the room was flooded with musty yellow.

So close to the wall, the man saw it was covered tiny web-like cracks revealing the old red paint of the room before it was slathered in white. With his index fingernail he chipped away at a couple of the cracks, crumbling away with suprising ease to reveal more of the red beneath. The man took a deep breath and sided, turning his head to scan across the room: it was littered with cardboard boxes and tall unstable shelves with old half-used cleaning equipment. Perfect – no one will bother him in here. The man hastily made his way to a small table, large enough for his laptop, and opened it up.

[Enter Username]

It was government policy that usernames for governmental officials were their full names.

“M-i-c-t-l-a-n.. T-o-n-a-t-o..” he mumbled under his breath, speaking each letter as he pressed down their key on the laptop. The General turned his attention to the door for a split second, still ajar. Slowly he rose up, then leaned over to push the door with the tips of his fingers to give it enough momentum to slowly close and shut itself. He'd pull out an old plastic chair, dragging it across the floor to where the laptop is to sit down.

[Enter Password]

Tonato took a second glance around him, swivelling around to check for any cameras or peeping eyes. Once he was confident he leaned over his laptop and began to quickly type in the password… Okay so not entirely confident.

The laptop buffered for several seconds before revealing the General’s desktop of a green hilly landscape from Kirvina. Some generic apps like Boogaloo, GooseGooseRun, Wittier, et cetera. He’d swipe at the track pad, his mouse quickly moving to the top right of the screen, reaching an app with only a basic camera logo and simply named ‘Government Comm.’ in Sitallic Azlo. It would take a couple seconds after being double clicked to appear but a new desktop suddenly popped up, replacing his old one, of a basic white background and his personal Army’s ‘National’ Seal. He’d double click on an email application, the window popping up bottom to top. His fingers came to rest, hands carefully flat upon the keyboard. Several seconds past, the little loading spiral spinning away, until eventually several dozen emails popped up. He scrolled through several of them, the vast majority boring field reports from his Lieutenants across his territory, eventually coming across an email from General Palisi.

He’d pause for a second, before clicking on the mail to read.
 

Quote

 

bJXjnO4.png

Dear Mictlan Tonato.
I hope your time in Kirvina with Chrysanthe has been productive in rebuilding bridges to our old friends. I am sure you have read President General Tario's email he sent earlier today. General Maliano's recent failures to find common ground with the Archpriestess of Metztlitlaca as only confirmed to me my fear that armed conflict is inevitable. General Lén has not come to the most recent negotiations on the consolidation of the alliance between our three Governorates and has remained silent since President General Tario's failure to crush the terrorists within his Governorate. I fear General Lén is planning to use this period of instability against us. The terrorist cells on my southern border have begun to become agitated, however President General Tario has refused my Governorate's aid. I do not believe he has long until these terrorists began to actively move towards the capital. He has put his own pride and ideology before the nation's security. The Triple Commonwealth has equally been unproductive in talks, the silence and arrival of Anglian ships upon their port cities, with little information we can gleam from their state suggests partnership, has me fearing the worst.

I have already began a draft on differing scenarios when war arrives with my own Lieutenants, but the vast majority have been predicted to fail with the scenarios left only if the Metztlican army is unrealistically stupid. The only three scenarios that have any chance of success are the EOS agree to supply and aid in defending the nation, we leave Maliano and your territories east of the Grosse Rivière to die and unite the rest of Sitallo, or appeal to the Metztlican government for a conditional surrender. I am not confident in the future of Sitallo.

From,
Leo Palisi.

 


General Tonato sighed, rubbing his face with his hands as he leaned back on the chair causing it to buckle and crack. Eventually he built up the mental energy to pull himself back up and clicked 'New Mail', taking him to a blank template. His eyes glanced to the two corners of the room he could see from his position, then towards the door, before finally writing his own email.
 

Quote

From: Mictlan_Tonato@SitalloGov.co.sl
To: Leo_Palisi@SitalloGov.co.sl


Dear General Palisi,
Thank you for your recent email. I have similar feelings of uncertainty but we can not be held back by them.

Talks with Chrysanthe have been slow. I will be speaking with my
Lieutenants once I return to Sitallo on alternatives to Kirvinan armaments, the most likely option will be starting talks with J.D. Karrewasser of the company Varinco for Variotan firearms. Though I am unsure where we could get military vehicles quickly outside of the EOS. Another possibility would be to make a deal with the devil and hoping to court Anglia - however with their aggressive plays in Fearannteth and already possible ties to the Triple Commonwealth, I do not believe we would get anywhere with them.

I already have discussed possible tactics and scenarios with my Lieutenants on the possibility of war, I will speak to you about them in person the next time we can meet face to face and a proper meeting between our governorates can be arranged. Lén is a fool for remaining silent, he knows he cannot do anything without our approval.

I read in the newspaper about the Goran Island incident. Such a tragedy, but if bombs that can level islands and cities are now on the tables, perhaps we should take a visit to the perpetrators in Rhava in the future. A business trip.

From,
Mictlan Tonato


 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Xōchiyo sat outside of her home, a basic bamboo chair positioned two large shrubs, the lower half of each bush trimmed down to allow the chair and whoever sat in it to not be poked and prodded by branches. In her hands was a glass, half empty with melting ice and a reddish liquid. Xōchiyo's shoulders remained raised, arms closed towards her chest.  The sun was setting low, the crimson blood skies shimmering in the perpetual heat of Palu. In another hour or two the sun would be completely under the Eurth.

Behind her, a man in a black suit slowly walked up to the bushes, his feet crunching against the gravel path. Xōchiyo's shoulders raised higher, tensing up.
"Did they find it?" Her voice was shallow, hesitant to ask the question she didn't want to know the answer to.
"Yes. Three locations across his territory." The man responded. The man's pale complexion was creased by his own frown, voice full of distaste. From his pocket he pulled out a pair of sunglasses. He'd walk further to her side, sliding the sunglasses onto his face and crossing his arms.

"By the blood.." She muttered, her forehead falling onto her displaced fingers as a hollow sigh escaped her mouth. "Does anyone else know?"
"Within the country? Only us and '19. Though, I assume you will be changing that." He continued, starting out towards the setting sun.
"Yes.. The people deserve to know this." Xōchiyo responded, her posture unchanging. The man frowned behind his sunglasses.
"You've sent thousands to the north,-" Before the man continued to question the Archpriest, her posture snapped up to sit up straight.
"Those are criminals, charged, convicted, sentenced, criminals." She hissed back at the man, though did nothing towards him. He remained unflinching at her behaviour as she continued to spit her words at him. "Be lucky you're the only man I cannot have charged, convicted, sentenced, Leng."
Leng silently chuckled. "The IWA will keep all information discovered in this operation as Restricted until you make the public announcement, with the specific locations as Secret. As you wished."
"Thank you." Her shoulders relaxed, finally raising her cup to her lips to drink. Leng tilted his head towards the glass to finish the remaining red juice.
"Iced Hibiscus?" He asked, Xōchiyo nodding and lowering the glass. "Gods, I miss our vacations to Azania." He responded, a grin coming through. "However if I 'died' from a heart attack on my last trip to Ulfheimr three years ago, I can't really go on a public vacation with you." She rolled her eyes at his comments, clearly still disturbed.
"You just confirmed to me something I would only expect to occur in Ceris, and all you can think about is iced tea and Azanian beaches?" She responded, disdain on her tongue.
"I've seen a lot of shit, shit that you've done and planning to do, that trump that.". Leng turned his back to the Archpriestess and began to walk back to the house.

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Another emergency meeting had been convened at the Gubernatorial Complex in the center of Kaseka. They had convened at a board room which looked out over the bay, giving and impressive view of the city and surrounding landscape. At the head of the table was Governor Mahuizoh and she was joined by various other representatives of Seylos's administrative and military organs.

"Thank you all for coming, for the sake of time I've gathered all of us here for this meeting. As we all know the situation between Sitallo and @Metztlitlaca has been deteriorating rapidly, and our refugee situation isn't improving as well. Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Breckinridge if you please, fill us all in on the refugee situation." Mahuizoh said gesturing towards the two them sitting close by.

"Thank you ma'am," Dr. Mitchell replied, standing up along with Dr. Breckinridge, "As you all know the numbers coming across the border have been... exceptional. As of yesterday we have fifty thousand people located within the camps on the Metztlitlacan border. The population of Kaseka as of last month was four hundred and thirty two thousand people. We don't believe the city can support anymore incoming refugees, and the current increase of population by eleven percent is incredibly taxing on the resources of both the state and the city. As much as it pains me to say this, I believe we need to close the border to additional refugees attempting to cross. "

"I see..." Mahuizoh muttered, "Brigadier Tecuetlaza, what's our manpower situation on the border?"

Brigadier Tecuetlaza, who commanded the Kasekan Militia, sat back in his chair for the moment thinking on how to respond, "Well Governor, right now we have one hundred regular Royal Army at our disposal, and only about a quarter of the militia activated. About eleven hundred troops. Most of those people though are stationed with either assisting in the camps or processing refugees. We don't have much to close the border up with, considering how many people are outside of it. It's going to get messy if they sense they can't get in anymore."

Mahuizoh gave sigh, briefly putting her hand on her face before looking back up, "Alright for the moment I can authorize the activation of an additional thousand militia to help secure the borders. It's going to take more time to do anything more."

Tecuetlaza leaned forward into the meeting table, "Ma'am, considering the security situation both at the border and between Metztlitlaca and Sitallo, I highly recommend we activate the entire militia. I'm not saying we should be expecting any sort of attack, but we should be ready should the situation out there deteriorate."

"I will... keep that under advisement Brigadier, thank you. Is that all Dr. Mitchell?"

Mitchell stood back up again, "No ma'am. I'd like to report that our camp programs involving the employment of refugee specialists has become quite the success in my opinion. A large amount of permanent infrastructure has been successfully setup, and most importantly permanent habitation are being completed on schedule. With the majority of these refugees coming in under the threat of violence, they will probably not be returning to Sitallo, so permanent constructions have been of high importance. We've actually been quite lucky, a prominent Sitallan architect actually has been helping us..."

He trailed off as he could see the faces of everyone in the meeting get annoyed at his rambling, "Regardless a good success. However of course the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs has also decided to sponsor an immigration program with a stipend for Sitallans who are fluent in Anglish, have an appropriate occupational specialty, and would be willing to move to Hodrea to assist in reconstruction efforts."

"You're kidding me," Mahuizoh said, "A move like this could spark tensions immediately with our neighbors. Who thought this would be a bright idea?"

"The Monarchy... ma'am" Dr. Breckinridge spoke up, "To be frank, Hodrea has been laid to waste. Many of the skilled professionals would be the most valuable in reconstruction were killed during the war. And... to be totally honest outside of humanitarian and military organizations, Seylosians aren't exactly queuing up to move over there. This is a purely voluntary program, and any Sitallans who might take up the offer could do a huge amount of good for the people of Hodrea."

"Fair enough," Mahuizoh replied, still uneasy, "But we'll have to be ready for any diplomatic consequences that might arise from this."

Mahuizoh looked over to another man in a suit sitting close to the Brigadier, "Mr. Sandford."

He nodded and stood up, passing two folders to both the governor and the general, "My name is Agent Tyler Sandford, I work in Field Intelligence for Foreign Intelligence Services. Right now FIS is monitoring the conflict in Sitallo and the Metztlitlacan government very closely. Suffice to say that we believe Metztlitlacan military intervention in Sitallo to be certain within the future. And with that comes even worse news, a special forces team operating in Ceris during the war was able to procure evidence of Sentist chemical weapons possibly making their way to Mesothallasa. We were unable to confirm a probably destination until recently, but we have every reason to believe that Metztlitlaca has begun gathering, and maybe even producing chemical weapons."

"Good god, are you serious!?" Brigadier Tecuetlaza, "This is beyond an enormous threat to Kaseka. The damage they could do could be immense-"

"We are aware of the dangers, Brigadier," Agent Sandford spoke up, cutting off the general, "I can assure you the FIS and the military are coordinating to make sure nothing like this happens. As of now, we don't believe the Metztlitlacan military would make any moves on Kaseka. With Anglia's shadow over the region, they have no reason to start a conflict with Seylos. We are hoping to use the current geopolitical situation to our advantage when dealing with these chemical weapons. We don't quite yet know how far their research or production capabilities have gone, so for the moment this information has been kept secret."

"You understand with this information, I have to prepare the Militia accordingly," Tecuetlaza said.

"Yes Brigadier, if we didn't want you to know we wouldn't have told you. We don't believe there will be a high risk to them finding out just yet, especially with our normal interactions with the Dolch and the Sentist War, preparations for chemical conflict wouldn't be out of the ordinary for the Seylosian military."

"Is that all Agent Sandford?" Mahuizoh asked, and Sandford nodded back sitting back down, "Then for now our meeting is adjourned. We have a lot of work to do."

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The crowd was in quiet murmur. The Archpriestess herself, Xōchiyo, had stationed herself upon the top of Totecitli Teōpancalli. The largest temple within the capital had been swarmed by citizens from across the city. It wasn't uncommon for the Archpriest to make announcements from the top of the temple, but it was almost always at key festivals. It was early September, the cloudless skies made that obvious, the next big festivals were not until mid-October.

On either side of the Archpriestess was her husband, Tlawē, and her wife, Awātl. To Tlawē's side was the Bishop of Tekaken. Behind the Highpriests and the Archpriest were numerous bodyguards in suits and sunglasses. Every five steps down the temple were also pairs of guards. In Xōchiyo's hands was a small crimson red book, for a minute she remained silent, reading and rereading the book. The tension in the city centre continued to thicken to the point where it could almost be cut with a knife. Eventually the Archpriestess raised her left hand into the air, the quiet mumbled of the crowds dying away into almost complete silence barring the occasional whispering. She lowered her arm once the crowd was suitable silent. She saw the video cameras in the back of the crowd, the video cameras mounted behind two of the statues pointing towards her. Every word she says would be on every news broadcasting service in Metztlitlaca.

"The people of these great Dominions. I come bearing grave news." Were the first words to leave her lips, and already the audience around the temple began to murmur and speak amongst themselves again. Once again the Archpriestess raised her left hand and questioning subsided into whispers. "Two days ago, a specialist group of our finest men and women from the Temple of the Warriors found something most foul hidden behind Maliano's treachery to his people and to the peace of Mesothalassa. Since the start of the refugee crises that has wracked our most western Dominions, rumours of labour camps have found their way into the minds of many from those who have fled Sitallo. That our fellow men, women, and children that see to the light of the mun, were being imprisoned to be forcefully converted to Christianity, was occurring on a near-industrial level just beyond our borders."

The crowds began to rise in commotion and chaos, jeering and gasps. Yes the Archpriestess continued, her eyes squinting down towards the book, the wrinkles across the ridge of her brow deepening.
"I come here today to say these rumours,"
The crowds continued to raise in volume and anger, many already knowing what the next words to leave Xōchiyo's mouth would be. Her eyes closed shut, head towards the book. Yet her voice remained as unshaken and stern as she could muster. ", these rumours, are true."

The men and women below the temple erupted into uproar, the jeering rising to a fever pitch, the bodyguards on the lowest stairs already putting their hands to their guns in case a riot broke out. The Archpriestess finally opened her eyes once more to see the pandemonium herself. Her frown remained as she raised her left hand and shouted.
"This has not been the first time our people have been persecuted for who they are." The noise below began to die down, confusion and sorrow washing over. "Throughout history our people have dealt with monsters like these since we first left our homeland two thousand years ago. When we struggled to prove our worth to the Yellow Empire as an equal. When the state was erased and we were forced into servitude for distance rulers. When we broke our chains and when our predatory neighbours circled in for the kill in the forties and fifties. And all have failed to hold us down."
The Archprietess' words flowed down the stairs of the temple and down into the people below, "And all have failed to hold us down!" She repeated, yelling out towards the entirety of the city centre, the people cheering back, whipping them into a frenzy.

"Our neighbours may believe we no longer possess that warrior spirit that aided us in carving our place within this wurld, that we are mere pushovers trapping ourselves in menial bureaucratic spits. That they believe the Metztlicans are divided people living a lie of a unified state. But now, we show them who the Metztlicans truly are - men and women born from the heart of the serpent and the bird. Men and women who will not let our family toil to death under Tario, under Maliano, under cowards!" She roared out, raising the crimson book into the sky, the crowds yelling and cheering back in return.

"From tonight, the Generals of Sitallo have been issued an ultimatum. To dismantle their camps and to allow free access of Metztlican military to subdue the evil of Maliano, or face the might of our armed forces and have their Governorates dismantled and rebuilt into political entities that serve the people of their nation!" She concluded, her final words cutting the cheering and encouragement from the crowds in half, the drop in support was... Noticeable, to say the least. The Archpriestess turned around towards the two temple houses that made up the top of Totecitli Teōpancalli, and began to walk towards them. Her bodyguards swiftly moving aside to give her space to walk through them. She was soon followed by her partners and the bishop, then finally the bodyguards surrounding them.
· · ·
"You sure love to play up the crowds, my love."
Xōchiyo sat upon a simple wooden bench within a small room inside the city centre temple, Tlawē's hand on her shoulder speaking to the bishop. Awātl's snarky comment rang inside the Archpriestess' mind. Perhaps she had put on a bit too much of a performance this time.
"Either way you got the attention of the General's. Seven emails. And considering there are only five Generals and it's been less than ten minutes. Someone must be desperate." Awātl kidded, scrolling through her phone and Xōchiyo's emails.

"Declaration of war would do that" the Bishop remarked, turning his attention from Tlawē and towards Xōchiyo. "I know you spoke to your generals, and the Committee, but three days? And an ultimatum of fourteen days? Sorry for my words but - are you mad? How do you plan for Metztlitlaca to be armed and ready for war in fourteen days?"

The Archpriestess had already predicted what the Bishop's words were going to be, the man's philosophy of slow and steady had often been a great aid to the Archpriest, but today was not that day.
"We don't plan to be fully mobilised. The fourteen days is to send chaos into the individual armies of the Generals. We can muster up several divisions out of the western Dominions far stronger than Tario's outstretched armies and Maliano's gangs of foreign mercenaries. The plan is to scare Tonato, Palisi, and Len into backstabbing Maliano and Tario. Then it'll be a walk in the park, they might even surrender before we step a single foot in their so-called 'country'."

The bishop's face shifted to surprise, head drawn back. "I'm shocked you were willing to spill so much to me."

"Even if the Generals knew our exact plan - this isn't a bluff. They either tear down those camps and end the refugee crisis here and now, or we go to war." She replied back, her eyes piercing into his.

"My God.. How do you expect them to end a five year long refugee crisis in fourteen days?" He continued, desperation growing in his voice.

Xōchiyo remained silent, slowly standing up, Tlawē and Awātl doing the same, staying by her side. Slowly she moved herself towards the room's exit. Her answer was simple, clear, at least to the Bishop. Her head turned so that she could see the bishop in the corner of her eye, standing awkwardly with his hands half-way stretched out.
"I don't. This was never about the refugees."

The three of them walked out the room in silence, leaving a distraught and wide-eyed bishop in the darkness of the temple.

Fourteen days until war.

End of Chapter 1

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    • By Rhodellia
      Chance Encounter
      Chapter One - S.S.D.D
       
      It’s late in the afternoon when Sergeant Alarick Schäfer tells his squad that they’ve reached their next waypoint along ASR Blue Lagoon. They’re located in a small patch of forest somewhere in rural Nordwalde Province; as far as most of this band of average 18 to 20 year-old Rhodellian conscripts is concerned, they’re somewhere south of Camp Bergenstein, north of the provincial capital of Schwarzwald, and west of MSR Spirytus - the main road connecting Bergenstein with the rest of Rhodellian civilisation. Judging from the rotting picnic benches, leaf-littered public toilets, and shuttered ice cream stall, Schäfer determines that this place is indeed the derelict campsite he marked on his map. Although one of his fire teams, Fire Team Alpha, has already scouted out the area, deemed it safe, established an observation post 100 metres from the entrance, and is currently maintaining a triangle-shaped perimeter around it, he makes a few quick sweeps of the area with his thermal weapon sight, and confirms that nobody has slipped past their cordon and is preparing to ambush them.
      “Rest up while you can on your turns, gents, we’ve got twenty mikes each. We’re Oscar Mike in thirty!” He folds up his map and turns first towards his team leaders. “Meier, your team’s on perimeter watch. Be stealthy about it in case the enemy's nearby. Collins, rotate with Meier's team in ten. Jung, with Collins's team in twenty.” and then to the rest of the squad “Maintain your weapons. Have Doc check your feet for blisters and rashes. Reapply any face paint that might’ve worn off due to face-rubbing or sweat. Add some more local vegetation to your helmet bands, helmet cover slits, and combat webbing. And if you still have time after all of that, eat whatever chow's left in your MREs.”
      The squad breaks their patrol column formation to do whatever they have to do. While maintaining a reasonable level of noise discipline, they complain about the objective, the ROE, the stones that somehow got into their boots, how much they’d rather be back at base sweeping the motorpool or sleeping through another SHARP lecture, and how their mission may end up being yet another waste of their valuable time if they - once again - end up not killing anything. The one exception is the automatic rifleman of Fire Team Bravo, who’s asking around to see if anyone has a spare can of energy drink before he goes off to watch his sector of responsibility. Schäfer notifies his platoon leader of his location over the radio before checking over his equipment. He is in the middle of changing the batteries on his rifle's thermal weapon sight when Fire Team Alpha is relieved from sentry duty by Fire Team Bravo. He notices Alpha’s team leader, Corporal Rolt Jung, approaching him. 
      “Schäfer, interrogative...”
      “Yeah, Jung?”
      “Why the f*ck are we here?”
      “Can you expand on that question?”
      “Okay… Why are the fourteen of us out here in the middle of bumf*ck nowhere, spending our entire afternoon rucking up and down all these steep-ass hills in full gear?”
      “Well... That’s easy, Jung. Somewhere, in this…” he looks around to see that he is no longer surrounded by the beautiful vistas of Nordwalde’s hills, just a long-disused campsite and the densely packed trees and foliage of an unnamed forest “...beautiful expanse of Rhodellian countryside, a bunch of Native Aurelian Liberation Army assholes are up to no good. Our job and patriotic duty as soldiers of the Rhodellian Army is simply to hunt them down and f*ck ‘em up for having the absolute f*cking audacity to set food into our 'hood. Ideally before they do something nasty.” 
      “I know that’s our mission, man, but I mean... I was asking about the reasons why we’re doing all this shit in the first place. Like, what’s the rationale behind this whole war anyway? Does it ever hit you sometimes that this whole thing’s been going on since way before any of us were born?”
      “Did you fail history class, or is National Service the first time you’ve crawled out from under your rock since the Cambrian period?”
      “Nah, dude.” Jung chuckles, “It’s just that, I swear to God, my grandpa patrolled through this exact same ASR and stopped in this exact same picnic area while hunting for NALA insurgents way back in the Sixties. And maybe his grandpa before that too.”
      “Well, Jung…” Schäfer rubs his mouth as he tries to think up a satisfactory answer “This land of ours is a diverse and multicultural one. De facto Rhodellian territory’s only like what, 89,000 square kilometres? Yet, within these tiny-ass borders of ours, for thousands of years, hundreds of different peoples and cultures have been living in and dying over the same patch of dirt. You’ll see evidence of that painted across almost every cave wall in the country. As for us Rhodellians and the f*ckheads in the Native Aurelian Liberation Army... We just happen to be the latest generation of retards bleeding over who gets to call this land rightfully ‘theirs’. And for NALA, who still haven't gotten over colonialism, sharing was never an option.”
      “Just for fun, which side do you think is in the right, Schäfer?”
      “In the opinion of this conscript, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. None of that shit’s worth caring about. Not to me at least.” Schäfer shrugs his shoulders. He turns his head to admire the trees and shrubbery around him. “I live here. I like living here. And honestly, I can’t be arsed to move out. f*ck that noise. If anyone's got a problem with that, they can talk to the business end of my rifle.”
      “So who do you think is in the right anyway?” 
      “Jung, I could write you a whole f*cking essay on the damn thing.” Schäfer removes his helmet to inspect the camouflage paint on its NVG plate “But again, that’d be a pointless-as-f*ck exercise.”
      Jung shrugs, supposing that Schäfer wants to change the subject.
      “Alright, I guess…”
      “Actually, let me ask you a question, Jung.”
      “Hit me with it.”
      “Why do you think this country is still called ‘Rhodellia’ and not something more... Native Aurelian-sounding? Why are we still here?”
      “Just to suffer?” Jung smiles to himself. A few nearby squad members overhear the two and start cracking up, also recognising the reference. Schäfer chuckles, acknowledging that he set himself up for that.
      “Yeah, that’s one reason Goodsprings has us rucking through the countryside today. But that's not exactly the answer I'm looking for.”
      “Uh…” Jung pauses to think of an articulate (or at least smart-sounding) answer “Because of the rule of law? Legally speaking, Schäfer, our country pretty much own the rights to the land we're standing on right now.” He sweeps his finger across the forest around him  “And a good chunk of the international community agrees with that. By most counts, the Rhodellian government in Friedrichstadt is considered the ‘legitimate government’ who exercises sovereignty over this territory. That, and because the N-A-L-A's always been a violent-as-f*ck terrorist organisation that can't let go of a grudge. I swear to God, bro, those psychos will try to genocide all the white people the moment they step foot in our government offices.”
      Schäfer nods a few times.
      “A good answer, Jung. But that’s only part of the story.” He breathes in and out as he tries to collect his thoughts and think of what to say next “In the opinion of this conscript... it’s mostly because we are capable of superior violence, and NALA is not. It doesn’t matter how many articles some self-hating, guilt-tripping, latte-slurping liberal hippie ethnic minority cock-sucker publishes on their blog...”
      Every nearby squad members squad smiles. Even its two Native Aurelian members are trying to contain their laughter in keeping with noise discipline. Schäfer continues.
      “Those self-righteous pseudo-intellectual assholes can screech into the void all they f*cking want about social justice, native land rights, and how our country’s entire existence is technically an illegal occupation of stolen land. But in the opinion of this conscript, all of that shit’s irrelevant. So long as the Rhodellian government has tanks, fighter jets, and the continued will to fight, it doesn’t matter how much other people b*tch and complain about us being here. We’re not budging off this land. And f*ck anyone who tries to kick us out. And that’s that.”
      “Can’t you come up with a better justification than ‘Right of conquest’ or ‘Might makes right’? What’s next, Schäfer? The f*cking ‘discovery doctrine’?”
      “Maybe.” Schäfer shrugs while readjusting the camo netting and foliage secured by his helmet band “This country is imperialist to the core, and we’re too proud of that to let go.”
      Jung shrugs as well. He shifts his attention to the squad medic, Corporal John Mark ‘Doc’ Garcia, who’s applying some kind of cream to the foot of someone from Fire Team Charlie. As physically fit as all able-bodied Rhodellians are legally mandated to be under the Spartan Protocol, Jung supposes that not everyone’s an avid hiker. He supposes that near-non-stop marching across several-dozen miles of hilly terrain while hauling over 100 lb of gear is starting to take its toll on some of his squadmates. He looks down at his own combat boots, and wriggles his toes to revive the blood flow to his feet.
      “Okay… Next question: Why, in his infinite wisdom, is Goodsprings making us do this whole search-and-destroy mission on foot? Y'know, If I'm gonna be illegally occupying rightful Native Aurelian clay and shit, I'd at least like to do it in an AFV with air conditioning.” Jung frowns, referring to his battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Emory Schreiber. Schreiber’s callsign is ‘Goodsprings’, after the starting location of his favourite video game. 
      “Hm?”
      “Just for f*cking once, man, I just wish that motherf*cker would give us a mission with non-retarded orders. Y'know orders that won’t put us all in unneeded danger, or at least won't make us waste more effort than needed to do the simplest f*cking things. I mean, you saw the motorpool back at Bergenstein, right?”
      “What about it?”
      “We’ve got a shitload of perfectly good APCs and other armoured utility vehicles back at base. Plenty of helicopters too. Despite that, Goodsprings just had us dropped outside the AO and told us to f*cking hoof it the rest of the way. Can’t we cover more ground more quickly if we actually had some transportation?”
      “Yeah, I can think of a few reasons why we're doing it this way.” Schräfer unfolds his map, spreads it across the picnic bench, and beckons Jung to look closer. Schäfer plants his finger on a single carriageway roughly 500 metres to the east of their current position. On Rhodellian military maps of the AO, that specific road is called ‘MSR Spirytus’; it’s a common route for supply trucks delivering supplies up north to Camp Bergenstein from the nearby city of Schwarzwald. 
      “Whatcha got?” Jung leans closer, resting his arm on the picnic bench for support.
      “Ride in an APC, and our movement will stay restricted to the roads, and our sight will be confined to what we can see from those roads. That, and the enemy can more easily anticipate our movements. They’re more likely to prepare an ambush for convoys driving down a main road than for random dismounted conscript squads chasing animal trails in the surrounding hills. Logistics vehicles are way juicier targets than random dismounts like us. You get to shoot people AND get piles of neat shit out of it.”
      “And the helicopters?” Jung looks up at the overcast sky, imagining himself manning a rotary machine gun, spraying streams of 7.62×51mm tracer rounds into the woods below as Ride of the Valkyries blares from the Bluetooth loudspeakers he recently ordered online. He looks ahead to see Schäfer looking up as well, correctly guessing that he’s imagining the same thing. 
      “Well…” Schäfer snaps from his daydream “This whole operation is supposed to be kind of a secret, stealthy one… Only BCT headquarters, Intel, our battalion, and some Air Force drone operators know why we’re really out here. For all the rest of the wurld knows, we're just on a regular training exercise. The enemy might not even know that on to them, because the Department of Defence uses a lot of the Nordwalde Hills for training purposes."
      "Right under our f*cking noses, man."
      "Yeah." Schäfer nods. "So if they see random Rhodellian Army dismounts like us walking across the hills, they might just think I’m a lost butterbar, failing spectacularly at basic LandNav, gloriously leading his men to the Land of f*ckknowswhere. Maybe they'll let us pass out of pity, all without suspecting a damn thing.” He then points up at the sky “But if we ride in with helicopters, searchlights, and Wagner playing, that just screams that we’re on to them. And they’ll escape by hiding in one of the local woods where we can't see them with binoculars or thermals, and f*ck off back across the Nordfluss or whatever other shithole they came from. If we’re especially unlucky, they might even shoot us down for shits and giggles and scoot off. At least that’s Goodspring’s logic.“
      “Fair enough.” Jung shrugs. “Y'know, speaking of logic, I get that commissioned officers tend to see things from a radically different perspective than the guys under their command, but uh..." Jung smacks his lips "Y'know, after one year of National Service, I've noticed something about the POGs in H&S company, BCT HQ, you get me..."
      "Yeah?"
      "Sometimes, I swear to God, man, the bars they graduate with at officer school must be prime breeding grounds for dementia-inducing brain parasites.”
      “Evidence suggests that they most probably are.”
      “I mean, where else would they get their advanced terminal retardation from? Without fail, they'll always find a way to f*ck us over or at least makes our jobs a lot f*cking harder.”
      “Who knows?" Schäfer shrugs.
      "It's f*cking mental, dude. We're taught in NCO school to embody the doctrine of Auftragstaktik, of mission-type tactics. They teach us to be independent, to be flexible, to act decisively according to how we see the situation on the ground. Yet over here, in Nordwalde, it's the complete f*cking opposite. I can't even..." Jung drops his head, and takes a deep breath.
      "Yeah... It's f*cking retarded if you ask me." Schäfer shakes his head.
      "I know, right?" Jung throws his arms into the air. "It's like... the higher a CO's rank, the less they trust the guys beneath them to do their jobs. So they keep trying to f*cking micromanage everything because they're scared some E5 or OF1 will call an airstrike on an innocent village, mistake Loyalist militias for Separatists, or kill too many civies. It actually f*cking hurts me, bro."
      "To be fair, it has happened before. It's f*cked up our Hearts and Minds campaign on more than one occasion." Schäfer rubs the back of his helmet. "There's also been cases where NALA infiltrators and Separatist sympathisers somehow got assigned to units stationed in Nordwalde and then sabotaged shit."
      "Aight, fair, fair..." Jung concedes, put holds up a finger. "But that shouldn't mean it that their shitty micromanaging has to go this as far as it does here up North." He then points to a random edge of the surrounding forest. "It's as if we can't even take a shit in the woods without securing Goodsprings's formal approval!"
      "I feel you, man." Schäfer pats Jung on the shoulder. "You know, after National Service, I'm thinking of enrolling in Gottesberg Military Academy after I do my Masters', graduating with a commission, and making a difference out here. Think I'd do a better job?”
      Jung laughs.
      “Bro, if I see you with shiny new butter bars, you'd best believe I'm fragging your stupid ass before you can make us bayonet-charge an MG nest or some shit." 
      "Bet?"
      "But yeah, when you do, please, for the love of God, just don't prioritise petty workplace politics and career-climbing. Don't be that kind of that douchebag. The Rhodellian military's already got more than enough of those.”
      “I’ll try to get my priorities straight.”
      “Christ… You know, aside from all the stupid shit he does sometimes, Goodspring’s doesn't actually seem like all that much of an asshole. But where we see an objective, he sees another step in the ladder. But what turns a well-meaning Rhodellian into something like that anyway?”
      “I dunno. Some ‘Sword of Damocles’ shit?”
      “F*ckin’ Goodsprings, man.” Jung shakes his head.
      “Alright…” Schäfer pats Jung on the shoulder before removing his rucksack “You can go back to your team now. Tell them what's up. Meanwhile…” He exhales as he unzips a side pocket, retrieves a pack of baby wipes and a bottle of neutral-smelling hand sanitizer, and starts heading towards the campsite's public toilets. “I gotta go take a shit.”
      “Aight.” Jung nods before rejoining his team. 
      Fire Team Alpha is busy gathering pieces of foliage with their bayonets, using breezes of wind and leaf rustles to mask their sound, when their team leader returns to them.
      “Yo. What it is, hoes?” Jung takes off his helmet and starts comparing the shape and colour of the local plants with those already attached to his uniform. He opts to start swapping them out.
      Alpha’s automatic rifleman, Private Garrick Wolff, rubs his fatigued eyes with his sleeve. 
      “Hey, Jung.”
      “Yeah, Wolff?” 
      “We’ve been rucking for like… almost five hours now. Where the f*ck even are those NALA infiltrators we’re supposed to be looking for?”
      “F*ck if anyone knows, dude.”
      “With four entire companies patrolling the AO on foot, you’d think at least one squad would’ve run into them by now. The AO ain’t even that big.”
      “Think about it this way, Wolff: every square meter of ground we cover is one less they could be hiding in.”
      Wolff shakes his head, feeling even more tired
      “That’s… still a lot of ground left that our squad needs to cover…” 
      “Then think about it this way, man: every step we take is one step closer to us kicking the absolute shit of them for making us waste such a fine afternoon.”
      “I guess...” Wolff shuts his eyes for a brief few moments, stewing in bitterness and rage, imagining all the creative ways he could take revenge on the NALA infiltrators for making him leave his room “Man, to hell with busting my spine and kneecaps on these f*cking hills... I could be playing Warzone right now… I swear, I’m finna scalping each and every one of them NALA motherf*ckers the moment I spot their sorry asses. No cap.”
      “Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy.” Jung smiles as he cuts some leaves off a bush he knows is not poisonous “Let the hate flow through you!”
      “Goddamnit.” Wolff laughs. The thought of scalping fellow human beings brought another question to his mind, this time addressed to one of the two Native Aurelians in the squad. He also happens to be Alpha’s rifleman.
      “Yo, Wickwash.”
      ‘Wickwash’ is the nickname for Fire Team A’s rifleman, Private Puhihwikwasu'u Geldfeld. Despite being half-Native Aurelian, he’s proud of his mother’s native heritage but ashamed of his Dolchic surname. When he first introduced himself, he asked his squadmates to use his forename instead; they all respected his wish without question. Problem was, most of them kept mispronouncing and misspelling it. The squad eventually shortened his name to ‘Wickwash’ after watching him snuff out a row of lit candles with his rifle.
      “Sup.” Wickwash nods up.
      “Aside from being half-Dolchic, ironic as that is for you, you’re basically a Native Aurelian in every way, right?”
      “Nʉmʉnʉʉ.” He corrects Jung. At least in Rhodellia, Native Aurelians prefer to be known by their specific tribal affiliation instead of a generic term. “And f*ckin’ A I am. What about it, you cream-faced, culture-destroying, genocide-happy Dolchic coloniser?”
      “So I’ve been wondering, bro… When you started your National Service, you signed up to be an infantryman, right?”
      “Yeah, dude. What does that have to do with me being from one of The Tribes?”
      “So when you wanted to become a rifleman, you knew full-well that you’d be sent up North to Nordwalde... to help The White Man, er... slaughter your fellow Native Aurelians, lay waste to their cities, and re-colonise your ancestral lands?”
      “Man, I don’t get why all you white people keep lumping us all together like that.” Wickwash smiles as he inspects his newly re-camouflaged helmet, puts it back on, and examines his head's increasingly certainly-not-human outline in the mirror.  “Not every shithead in the N-A-L-A is from my tribe, so it ain’t like I’m specifically out to kill my own people. I just came out here to scalp some motherf*ckers, maybe earn an eagle feather or two, and go home to watch some anime. You feel me?”
      “Yeah, I feel you, bro.”
      “And just as we overheard Sarge saying 10 mikes ago: we’ve been smoking each other long before any of your pasty asses first set foot on this continent. Hell, when Dolchic settlers first came along, you paid my ancestors state-of-the-art muskets, your fancy carbon steels, and your dirty blood money for scalps claimed from other tribes. We accepted the absolute shit out of those.” Wickwash nods, grinning. "And damn, were we f*cking good at getting scalps!"
      “That’s hardcore.”
      “Hell yeah it was, dude! And three-hundred years later…” He flourishes his bayonet and taps on the tactical tomahawk on his belt. He shakes his head and smiles in reassurance to his Dolchic squadmate. “That time-honoured tradition ain’t dying with me, bro.”
      Private John Adebayo, Alpha’s grenadier, budges closer to Jung, Wolff, and Wickwash. He’s a second-generation immigrant who has neither Dolchic nor Native Aurelian blood in him, somewhat sparing him from centuries of bad blood running between Dolchic Rhodellians and a significant number of Native Aurelians inside and out of Rhodellia.
      “And it’s all thanks to that tribalistic attitude that The Dolch managed to divide-and-conquer the shit out of your lands. I know how you feel, brother. That aside, don't you guys have any sense of Native Aurelian solidarity?”
      Wickwash hands Adebayo some spare vegetation, which Adebayo heartily accepts and adds to his combat webbing.
      “I’m a Rhodellian first. Nʉmʉnʉʉ second. Native Aurelian third.” Wickwash shrugs.
      “And that brings us to the wonderful f*cking SNAFU we have today...” Adebayo chuckles as he uses a mirror to help gauge the new changes to his equipment’s leafier, grassier, and increasingly inhuman outline.
      “It really do be like that, dawg.”
      Seeing the lull in the conversation, Wolff re-inserts himself into it.
      “So yeah, Wickwash, what anime are you watching at the moment?”
      “Right now, back at the base?”
       “Yeah.”
      “So I’m watching this long-running Rhavan anime called ‘Now I’m here, now I’m gone.’ It’s just been rebooted with a whole new animation studio. So I’m trying to get up to date with the eleven seasons that came before it, so I can compare the original anime with the new one.”
      “Jesus Christ. Eleven f*cking seasons? Just how many episodes is that?”
      “Around 270ish episodes, not counting filler episodes or the reboot. I’m binge-watching the original seasons while waiting for the next episode of the reboot to come out. I just finished Episode 172 this morning after chow, and I’m telling you bro…” He smacks his lips “This shit’s A-grade classic material, dude.”
      Taken aback by the episode count, a long whistle filters through Wolff’s mouth.
      “What’s the anime about? I only see episode counts like that from long-running Shounen anime.”
      “Well, allow me to subvert your f*cking expectations, my guy.” Wickwash chuckles as straps his helmet back on. “It’s actually not a Shounen. No power-ups, jutsus, bankais, stands, or anything like that. It’s a drama show with romance and stuff. Like a... live-action soap opera, but animated. We can watch the first episode when we get back to base.”
      “Damn, bro. From all your talk about doing hardcore shit, like scalping motherf*ckers and keeping their heads as trophies and lawn ornaments, I’d never have thought you were into that kind of anime.”
      “Eh, they’re nice to watch once in a while.” Wickwash shrugs “Even for us Rhodellians, there’s gotta be more to life than just violence, right?”
      “Wickwash, my friend… I can not believe that beneath that blood-crazed ice-cold warrior exterior of yours, you’re actually a massive f*cking faggot holy shit!” The whole team bursts into laughter. Wolff continues once it dies down. “So should we start with the earlier seasons first, or do we start with the reboot?”
      Wickwash pauses in thought before nodding a few times.
      “Yeah, we can start with the reboot. It basically follows the original story, but with nicer-looking visuals. You can watch the original in your own time.”
      “Sounds cool to me, bro.” Wolff nods as he opens his mirror, noticing that perspiration has caused some of his camouflage face paint to fade. “F*ck, man. I gotta redo my face again. My skin's shinier than f*cking silver.”
      Having already finished repainting his face, Wickwash tosses a pack of tissues and his own face paint kit to Wolff. While Wolff's busy, Wickwash continues the conversation with Jung and Adebayo. 
      “How about you, Jung? You watching any good anime either?”
      “Nah, dude.” Jung shakes his head as he finishes redoing his camouflage, and very carefully takes a sip from his canteen to avoid accidentally washing away his new coat of face paint. “I don't have the patience to sit all the way through a single 24-minute episode nowadays, so I just read manga and webcomics whenever I feel like it.”
      “Like what?”
      “Well, for starters, there’s this Kirvinian one I’m reading called ‘Like In Those Days’...”
      Upon hearing Jung mention that last title, Adebayo perks his head up.
      “Hey, I’ve been reading that one too!”
      “No shit.” Jung chuckles, “Your patrician taste never fails to impress me, bro.”
      Adebayo and Jung bump fists and start talking about the newest chapter.
      “Nice.” Wickwash nods, trying not to get left out of the conversation “So what’s it about?”
      Adebayo takes it from there, raising his bayonet for a flashy performance.
      “It’s a story set in a fantasy version of 16th-century Aurelia…” he shuffles backwards, creating a safer distance between himself and his fellow teammates. With the grace of a professional fencer, he thrusts, swings, and flourishes his bayonet in all directions. Some squadmates from Bravo, returning from their watch, quietly cheer on and clap to his knife-play. Adebayo is encouraged by this and continues doing knife tricks with enhanced vigour.
      “It’s about a guy, named Constantine. He goes around hunting monsters in the woods, getting into sword fights with people, getting caught in political intrigue, and just being an overall cool guy. A guy from Haus Rödel is even one of the guy’s nakama! The art's great, and the action is badass as f*ck, my dude. You gotta see it to believe it!” 
      Adebayo spins his bayonet one last time before sheathing it. Wickwash nods as Adebayo speaks. He imagines his squad ganging up on a dragon with spears, swords, and magic missiles 
      “Damn, bro. That sounds so much cooler than whatever the f*ck we’re doing right now.”
      “Yeah brother, the whole webcomic’s f*cking awesome.” Adebayo laughs, more eager than ever to get back to base so he can show Wolff the webcomic “Whenever Constantine goes into a forest, he gets to duel spriggans, werewolves, and all kinds of other crazy shit with f*cking swords and magic. That’s badass. Meanwhile, if we go into a forest, we don’t even get to slay wolves or bears. Y’know, because we drove all the local ones extinct. Nah, dude. Instead, we just get blown up by landmines. Or shot.”
      Wolff’s ears wriggle at the mention of landmines, and interjects. It appears that he just finished re-applying his face paint.
      “Speaking of landmines, y’know, I grew up near a Red Zone as a kid.”
      In Rhodellia, a ‘Red Zone’ is an area of land so devastated by past conflicts (usually either the First or Second Anéantic Wars) that they’re no longer safe for human habitation. This is generally because they’re still littered with uncleared landmines and unexploded artillery shells. And so, to protect the populace from the explosive remnants of war (ERW) inside them, Red Zones are either fenced off or marked with warning signs.
      “Oh shit. Really?” Wickwash gestures to Wolff that he has the whole team’s undivided attention. Wolff nods, pauses to gather his thoughts, and continues.
      “My family couldn’t go camping in the woods behind my backyard because it’s sealed off behind three thick-ass rows of razor wire. But whenever I did sneak in there, say, because the other boys in the hood wanted to f*ck around in old trenches and ruins, we always, ALWAYS had to watch our step for unmarked unexploded ordnance. Kids still get blown up in there every year! Did you know that, at one point in the First Anéantic War, both Rhodellia and the Grand Alliance fired like a million f*cking shells per day back there, just in that one sector.? 
      Wolff’s teammates are amazed by the figure.
      “That’s a f*ckload of ordnance, brother.” Adebayo whistles, mimicking the sound of a falling (subsonic) artillery shell.
      “I wish I could drop that much shit on NALA headquarters.” Wickwash wishes out loud.
      “How the hell does your Red Zone still have ruins left standing in it?” Jung raises an eyebrow.
      “The wonders of Rhodellian engineering, I guess.” Wolff shrugs, unsure of the answer himself. His figure about artillery shells was probably just an exaggeration, unless a major battle actually was fought over his hometown. The team imagines just how much industry and logistics it would take for a group of artillery batteries to even sustain that rate of fire. It’s an amusing thought. Wolff continues.
      “So yeah, back home, we still use discarded shell casings as house decorations. Flowerpots, fence posts, pencil-holders, you name it. And now, on top of unexploded ordnance potentially lying outside of the marked Red Zones, we gotta look out for signs of potential ambushes too. I’m always too busy staying frosty to feel like I’m going on some big adventure like the dudes in fantasy anime, manga, and webcomics. Ain’t no magic up in this b*tch. This sucks major ass, I tell you.”
      Wickwash shrugs.
      “As long as we get to make motherf*ckers bleed by the end of the day, whether it be with tomahawks, bayonets, rifles, or magic spells, it’s still all good, right?” 
      “Yeah, I guess so, man.”
      Jung stands up, brushes the dirt off his knee pads, and looks around him. He pulls up his glove to look at his watch, checking how long it will be until his team is supposed to take over perimeter watch from Fire Team Charlie. It should be about time, but neither Charlie or its team leader, Corporal William Collins, have returned from perimeter watches.
      “Well, look on the bright side, Wolff.” Jung pulls down his glove “If an unexploded mine gibs any of us before NALA does, at least we’ll get to become cyborgs.” He pats his right arm “Have you seen the Cyberpunk-looking shit the VA’s rolling out nowadays? A Military Police vet in my neighbourhood lost his right arm when NALA raided Camp Kirstein a few years back. According to him, the f*ckers dropped a 155-mike-mike arty shell right on top of his mortar emplacement using a civilian drone.” He taps his right arm again, and swings his hand away while mimicking the sound of an explosion. “Shrapnel severed his arm. And now the VA’s hooked him up with a cybernetic arm with five independent fingers and the capacity to feel. He ain’t exactly shouting ‘Hocus Pocus’ with a wand, but at least he can still say ‘Avada kedavra’ while pulling a trigger. That’s still pretty magical, ain’t it?”
      “Rhodellian healthcare’s nice and all…” Wolff shrugs “But imagine dedicating years of your life to getting swole... imagine building up the discipline to stick to a strict diet and workout routine, and suffering through extreme lactic acid build-up day after day to grow all this muscle mass in your arms and legs... just to get them replaced.”
      He pauses.
      “And once you get past all those ‘initial reaction’ marketing stunt videos... 'Prostheses unboxing', I think they're called... that keep showing up on everyone’s Volkscast recommendations… You’ll see that the prostheses we have commercially available right now aren’t exactly at 'Sci-Fi' levels yet. They’re still nowhere near as good as the biological limbs we’re born with. They can be annoying to deal with. So losing a limb is still as much of a downer as it’s always been.”
      “You seem pretty knowledgeable on prostheses.” Jung whistles.
      “I’m not, but my older brother has one. Two years ago, while he was still doing his National Service, he volunteered to help some combat engineers demine part of the Red Zone back home. Thing is, their demining robot broke down on ‘em. And… You know where I’m going with this?”
      “Oh f*ck, dude.”
      “Yup.” Wolff nods “He and the engineers had to go in themselves and do shit the old-fashioned way. My brother missed an unmarked plastic landmine he couldn’t catch with his detector. Apparently, the mine was partially unburied by a recent rainstorm. But by some f*cking miracle, my brother survived. He was fine everywhere else, but he lost his entire left leg.” He then taps his thigh to show where his older brother’s stump is. “The mine ripped it clean off."
      “Jesus…” Adebayo exhales. Wolff pauses to recall more of his memories regarding the event.
      “The Red Zone incident made the local headlines. Before we knew it, this low-cost prosthetics start-up came knocking on his hospital room door. They asked him if he’d like to take part in a PR stunt. If he agreed, he’d get a fancy new leg out of it. And that's how he got it.”
      “Was it a bad leg?”
      “By 2019 standards? Naw." Wolff shakes his head. "Nah, bro. It’s one of those state-of-the-art 3D-printed myoelectric legs that pick up muscle impulses, with electrodes, microprocessors, motors, and shit. It’s definitely a direct upgrade from the usual prostheses most amputees are issued by the RHS. But it ain’t the cyberpunk techno-wizardry the advertisements hype them up to be. My brother was pretty very happy at first, ecstatic even, the shit disability porn is made of... But he’s moved past that." Wolff sighs. "I mean, his f*cking leg’s still gone. Poor guy still copes with phantom pains from losing a literal, tangible part of himself that's grown with him since birth.”
      “Damn, man, I’m sorry to hear that.” Jung pats Wolff on the back.
      “Sorry, bro, if I crushed your transhumanist fantasies.”
      “Ah well... It's no biggie.” Jung shrugs as he tries to figure out where Charlie is; they’re running slightly late on their rotation. “Maybe we’ll get some really cool developments, like, five years from now, and another five years until they become affordable enough to be widespread. At least our kids will be shooting lasers from their eyes!”
      “Looking forward to it, man.”
      Meanwhile, at a close-by picnic bench, the boys in Corporal Koen Meier’s Bravo team are talking about magic and slaying fantasy creatures because they overheard their buddies in Alpha talking about it.
      Bravo's rifleman, Private Waltz Fischer, has scooped up a long stick from the ground and is switching between a series of longsword guard stances. 
      “You know, I went to Dolchic longsword fencing clubs back in primary school, secondary school, and sixth form college…” Fischer boasts at length about his swordsmanship prowess, backing it up with well-rehearsed footwork and a swift Zornhau cut “Hey Kowalski, think I can solo a dragon?” 
      The team’s automatic rifleman, Private Jakub Kowalczyk, shakes his head “Your stupid ass would get eaten in three seconds. Tops.”
      The team’s grenadier, Private Robert Powell, laughs with Kowalczyk as he inspects his weapons. “I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t.” He taps his rifle’s underbarrel grenade-launcher “If I had magic, I’d cast a spell to turn my 40-mike-mikes into Davy-f*cking-Crocketts. A dragon’s hot shit, alright, but I’d like to see just how well they’d do against seven tactical nukes-a-minute!”
      “You’d still f*cking die before shooting your second shot, Powell.” Meier chuckles at the surreal thought of Powell running up to a dragon, screaming like a banshee, and unintentionally blowing everyone at.
      “You shut your pussy lips, Meier! Kamikaze’ing a dragon with a nuke has still gotta be one of the most hardcore ways for a man to go out! That’s gotta be worth some award, right?”
      “Yeah, a f*cking Darwin Award!”
      The lads in Bravo laugh until they notice half of Fire Team Charlie jogging behind them, with excited smiles across its member’s faces. More specifically, they see Collins and Charlie’s rifleman, Private Danuwoa Catawnee.
      “Oh shit! Look who’s finally back from their combat circle-jacks!” Meier calls out to the two. Catawnee politely responds with a wide grin and middle finger.
      Seeing as Charlie’s automatic rifleman, Private Ludwig Zimmerman, and grenadier, Private Abdul Hamid bin Faisal al-Latif, are both missing, Meier takes this as a very good sign.
      “Look at ‘em.” Meier slings his rifle “They look like kids wanting to show their parents a cool toy they saw through a f*cking store window.”
      “Think they found those NALA pricks we’ve spent the past five hours looking for?” Powell checks the status of his face paint in the mirror, one last time, to ensure it properly blends with the local environment and masks the natural shine of the human skin. He seems proud of all the camouflage he's attached to himself throughout the day (without compromising his range of movement, ability to perspire, ability to move quietly, or turning his combat uniform into a full ghillie suit). Fischer crouches next to Powell and checks the ammunition in his magazine.
      “After all the rucking those shitheads made Goodsprings put us through today? God, I f*cking hope so.”
      Kowalczyk squats on the grass next to Fischer, eagerly waiting for Schäfer (who just returned from the biological weapon called the campsite’s ‘public toilets’) to announce a pre-combat inspection.
      “If we actually get some today bro…” He looks up at Fischer and clenches his fist around his squad automatic weapon’s pistol grip. “I swear to God, all of the bullshit we took today would’ve been f*cking worth it.” 
      Meier nods, knocking on the side of his helmet.
      “Especially if we get eagle feathers for this. They’d look so badass on my helmet band. B*tches love feathers.”
      They see Collins and Catawnee briefing Schäfer on something urgent. Schäfer absorbs what information he can, and relays it back to his platoon leader over the radio. Once that's done, Schäfer starts jogging between the different fire teams, flanked by Doc, grabbing their attention with kicks, nudges, and creatively verbose threats of grievous bodily harm. 
      “Everyone in the squad who's not busy, form up around this table!” Schäfer beckons the squad to his picnic bench. Jung, Meier, and Collins take out their ballpoint pens and notepads as their squad leader unrolls his map of the AO, and plants his finger on their grid square. Wolff, Kowalczyk, and Catawnee walk off to maintain watch while their team leaders note down some plans for them, and Zimmerman and al-Latif are away monitoring what potentially could be the possible enemy. “Zimmerman and al-Latif have contact on a squad-size element of eleven unidentified foot mobiles setting up cammie nets 500 metres to the east of our pos. They’re at the edge of the forest on the west side of a hill overlooking MSR Spirytus, fifty metres directly east of the T-Junction at Checkpoint Niner-Bravo at Grid Bravo Sierra Four-Five-Niner-Five Four-Five-Three-Two!”
      Schäfer shivers, barely able to contain his excitement or maintain a serious, stoic exterior. “Get ready for pre-combat inspections, we're going into REDCON-2! If Goodsprings doesn’t f*ck us in the ass by calling in an airstrike instead, we might actually get to kill some motherf*ckers!”
      And so they all cheered for war.
    • By Iverica
      Preludes here.
      OOC here.
       
      It is assumed that most of the following plans are not public knowledge. At most news coverage and press releases may have covered only the establishment and intention of these facilities.
      I don't feel like writing prose right now. Its not gonna be a fun read but pretty jargon-y. I just want to be clear about the details and some thoughts given to how something like this is actually made possible. Its boring, but thats what you get with even broad detail like this.
      ---
       
      PROJECT ADLANTIS
      APRIL, 2021
       
      On April 30th, 2021, no. 25 and 22 Auxiliary Groups of the Iverican Armada deployed—underway for Diego Gracias island in Marenesia and Lighthouse Island in Corinium respectively. Both groups were composed of cable laying ships, supply ships, oilers, dredgers, vehicle container ships, and expeditionary mobile base vessels. Along with them and onboard them came the largest concentrations of Iverican infrastructure ever seen in the Adlantic. The goal was simple: bring Iverican Security to Iverican Adlantic interests.
       
      Approximately 12,000 auxiliary personnel from Exersito, Armada, and the Fuersas L'Aire were deployed for the two-pronged project. An estimated 20,000 metric tons of cargo were being moved from Ferrefaairehafen to Diego Gracias and from ABP Explorator to Lighthouse Island. Enough diesel to power a fleet, enough food to feed a city, enough prefabs to make small cities were being shipped by one of Eurth's largest naval sealift flotillas—and this was just the first trip.
       
      The building project, with the twin objectives of establishing facilities in the North Adlantic and the South Adlantic, would entail the construction of 3 facilities. 2 Major service and support seaports with attached airfields, housing, and drydocks and one minor service facility to be reclaimed from a shallow reef off the coast of Yeetland.

      Projection of the future Diego Gracias Island Base
       
      Finance
      Initial Capital Investment is projected to cost upwards of $1.2 billion standard units. Of that amount, $180 million units are to be allocated to the cost of constructing military shipping facilities (approx. $53,000/metre of berth) and airfields, $516 million for labour costs, $325 million for capital expenses, $99 million for fleet operating expenses, and approximately $80 million for other accrued expenses.
      Funds were sourced from the Republican Armed Service's annual construction budget, though the RAS passed a requisition order to the Executive Ministry to secure a loan from the Federated Commonwealth Bank under the FedCom Defence Reserve Act. The loan was taken to cover lump-sum payment of some assets exceeding the available capital of the RAS (defence budget being released in staggered quarterly amounts) and valued at $636 million at a collateral coverage ratio of 1.112. The RAS pledged assets from its recently decommission Vasqqan Border defence line (See Item C. 1.) and its accounts receivable from the Republican government as collateral.
      Given that military expediature seemed to be holding at its RAS 2020 modernisation levels despite the intention to have it fall by 2021, the Executive Ministry had also been considering beginning a white paper to keep the RAS budget stable for another year or two. Whether this would mean a 0.5% income tax increase on the upper 60% of income earners still remains to be seen.
       
      Labour & Capital
      North: Infrastructure on lighthouse island will be constructed by a contracted company from South Corinium ( @Seylos ). Most hardware (communication equipment, electro-optical systems, defensive systems, signals equipment, etc.) will be shipped from a holding facility in ABP Explorator. Much of the equipment and Iverican manpower is already holding at ABP Explorator. Contracted parties from South Corinium will provide the majority of labour in non-sensitive areas of the facility and will almost exclusively supply raw material. Iverican defence industry contractors have been hired as consultants and senior management. Land reclamation projects for the establishment of the reef facility will also be completed by contracted Corinian companies, though the expeditionary mobile base and its annexes will be fitted by the Armada Iverica.
      South: Infrastructure on Diego Gracias Island will be constructed by a contracted company from Tangimoana ( @Gallambria ). Most hardware will be shipped from a holding facility in Ferrefaairehafen, Variota. Caissons were built in Tangimoana to facilitate faster completion of the port facilities needed to expedite further construction.
      All facilities will be built with an isolated fueling depot, munitions depot, and housing block in addition to any storage, seaport, or airport infrastructure. Additional consideration was also given for annexes to house WARD installations (such as OTH masts, hardened bunkers for the storage of TELs, hardened silos, command and control bunkers, etc.), submarine service facilities, and other measures necessary for defence (such as junctions for acoustic surveillance cables, shore fortifications, and protective structures.
      The project would be under the direct supervision of Almirante Iustino Otello, architect of the "oriental chain" of Armada sea stations in the North Oriental Ocean. ALM Otello has over 15 years of experience in leading maritime infrastructure projects in the Armada Auxiliary Command. His most recently completed project being the Ultramares Joint Forces Station on Ultramares Island.
       

      Projection of the future "Reef Base" off the east coast of Yeetland
       
      Logistics
      Outlines had been simple, clear, and built around a rotating supply chain of coordinated aerial and maritime freight that the Republican Armed Service had spent years developing. The RAS supply chain had been one of the most heavily invested internal projects that the Ministry of Defence had taken up in the past decades. Mistakes from the Argic Wars had led to the adoption of point-to-point transport schemes, where major depots and storage facilities were within direct access of a major military airbase, seaport, or both. Unlike the hub and spoke system that predated it, point-to-point logistics reduced bottlenecks considerably.
      The interbranch operation brought in auxiliary arms from three branches of service, pressing in recent acquisitions like the Eurth's largest heavy-lift aircraft, the @Prymontian Tungstrale into service and expeditionary mobile bases recently retrofitted from the Islandero Program. Coordination between origin points, delivery personnel, and endpoint on-site command staff was kept updated live by Noosphera data link, Link 18 communications. En route, the supply chain relied on stop-over facilities like @Prymont's Horizon Island base, Gallambria's RGN Tangimoana, and the Joint Trident base in Ferrefaairehafen, Variota. In the Argic Passage, ABP Resolucion and Explorator also served as depots for temporary storage and holding points for freight vehicles.
      It was projected that three major phases of supply would be needed to get all the hardware on-site. Given the RAS' preparation, all phases could be completed within 3 months.
       
      Politics
      Channels had been opened with the Corinians. The South Corinian government was only too happy to lease the island. The Corinians would be awarded exclusive contracts for construction as well as jobs and supply contracts once the project was completed. Likewise, no protest was heard from the North Corininians, whom were also probed for a response on the matter.
      In the south, the Gallambrian government had been in closed doors discussions with the RAS and had agreed to support the Terra Nullius establishment. Diego Garcias, was also to be made part of the TRIDENT network of joint bases.
      Domestically, protest appeared at government spending but fizzled out. The Deitorr Administration had been immensely fortunate that the turn of events had put the Flashpoint at Corinium and growing awareness of the Anglian threat at the forefront of public attention. Few would feel it amiss if their government took more proactive defence measures when they felt the world turn an increasingly more dangerous leaf.
       

      Lighthouse Island, Corinium, as seen from the PANOPTICON-1 satellite
       
    • By Metztlitlaca
      An Empire Divided
      Chapter 2, Part 1
      "The Hot Road Ahead"
      The dust was a serpent. It's body slithered across the rural savannah roads, its form created out of the red and yellow dust tossed out from the hundreds of wheels from the numerous military vehicles part of the mechanised infantry. The convoy was almost entirely land rovers, ranging from lightly armoured rovers to larger armoured beasts imported from Fulgistan, to the behemoths near the back of the line stuffed with infantry. Atop almost all of the vehicles were small flags of Metztlitlaca, waving to anyone who may see them. It was a bright blistering afternoon, the start of the monsoon still weeks away, and Metztlitlaca and Sitallo were at war. The war began only 9 days ago, It took three days for the first village within Sitallo to fall. Six days later the 30th village had been put under Metztlican occupation. The Wītzilōtxtli Battalion for the past seven days had been travelling across the northern territories of Maliano, largely opposed and only ever stopped at nearby villages for water or to meet the local rulers to discuss the terms for their village to surrender. Metztlican officers were hesitant to send out a mechanised battalion by itself, but when the environment is more hostile, more willing to kill, then its inhabitants, the choice to use a smaller but faster army proved far more useful.

      Tewila sat in the back of one of the many personnel carrier trucks, the only noise came from the ground below crunching against the wheels and the occasional cough from one of the fifteen other men and women in the back with her. The heat from outside leaked into the back, combined with the breaths and body heat of her comrades left the whole experience uncomfortably hot for even the most durable soldiers. She had seen the truck from the outside and without any previous knowledge, one could easily mistake the carrier as a rich farmer's vehicle. In truth it probably was to some extent, cheaper to use the same frames and designs for other vehicles designed to go off-road in the scalding savannah.

      "Water?" Another soldier offered Tewila. She turned her head and immediately recognised the other as Dureau, although most just called him Dūl, holding out a flask and a friendly smile.

      "Thanks.." Tewila turned her attention to the flask, it was rectangular – common for the army – but its design was peculiar. It was almost entirely baby blue with a white diagonal line and a black horizontal line wrapping around. It took her a couple seconds to realise it was the flag of Galahinda. ".. Real patriotic, huh?" Tewila smirked raising an eye brow as she shook the half-full flash in her hand, the water sloshing back and forth inside garnering the attention of several other soldiers. "It's chill, far from home. I gotcha"
      Dūl's face flushed pink turning away from Tewila as she took a sip from the flask. It was lukewarm and slightly salty but even that was gloriously refreshing compared to the alternative of sitting tight.
      Her eyes trained themselves on Dūl; half Galahindan half Tapelt, She never understood why he'd ever give up the life of endless partying and debauchery to come to shit hole one, especially if it meant he would've chanced being drafted into the military. His face was angular with a long head, unlike her squished and rounded face, though both had similar dark brown hair. His complexion was arguably indistinguishable from most of the interracial people in the country, though he did retain the green eyes common with so-called "pure" Azlo people.
      “Tewila?”
      His accent was light, which was shocking. Almost every Galahindan tourist she Tewila had ever dealt with.. well most never spoke her native tongue outside of a heavily accented “Moīxpantzinco” or “Nipohpolwiā“. But those that did always spoke with a heavy accent.
      “Tewila!”
      ..Still, it was better than being stuffed in the back of a truck going from village to village packed with firearms and artillery like a Rhodellian road trip.
      "Tewila!. Did you.. finish the.. water?" Dūl asked, his tone flustered and hesitant. Tewila looked down to see she had completely emptied out the flask down her throat. Now it was her turn to go red.
      "Oh. We'll get more at the next village.". She tried to be blasé about the situation, pushing the flask onto Dūl's chest, but she quickly looked away from the Galahindan, betraying her attempts to act cool, towards one of the transparent plastic 'windows' between two half-awake men. The landscape beyond the plastic sheet was homogenous; the same red cracked dirt, the same succulent planets, the same dust tossed up by vehicles in the front making it hard to see beyond a couple tens of metres out.

      Galahindans, Seylosians, Rhodellians, Hinterlanders, being a tour guide in the next city over to Kaseka she had seen her fair share of people. Which probably made her more tolerant than the average Metztlican – much more than your average Tapelt or Popolocon at least. Probably why Dūl was only ever talking to her.
      "We're twenty miles from the next village – look alive people!" a man shouted from the vehicle in front, barely audible to them over the tens of engines roaring and shaking. The two men in front of her suddenly snapped upright, all the soldiers began to murmur and hastily gripped their rifles to their chest, eyes staring forward. Tewila did the same, her face tensing into a poker face. She glimpsed a sign past the window – Zacanopicpac
      They sat in silence, awaiting orders. Suddenly the vehicle jolted to a stop, their driver trudging on the harsh ground around to the back of the truck to speak to the sixteen soldiers.
      "Village has sent their surrender over radio – we're free to buy water."
      The soldiers stared blankly at the man.
      “We’ll stop for an hour, stretch our legs, and continue to the next village.”
      Half the soldiers in the truck groaned, the other half relieved. The driver left, going back to the front and the convoy continued down the road.

      “This is bullsh*t.” One of the Atencan men mumbled, crossing his arms and allowing his rifle to slip to the floor. “A week. A f*cking WEEK.” He yelled out in exasperation just as the truck jolted upwards, passing over a pot hole. “And NOTHING.”
      Tewila opened her mouth but no words came out, the heat was clawing its way into her brain, tiring her down. So instead she shut her mouth again with a sigh. Her eyes scanned over everyone else, who seemingly had given up in trying to talk. The man’s outrage was just met with more sighs and muttering, his friend beside him elbowing him.
      “This isn’t even a f*ckin’ war. It’s a camping trip. And none of us can afford a sh*tty phone to take pictures with!”

      “C’mon man.” Dūl began, taking the attention of the ranting Atencan, “We’re too tired for this sh*t.”. The soldier’s eyes squinted.
      “Tired? TIRED? What have we even been doing that makes you TIRED?”
      Tewila watched the confrontation, the man’s exasperated yelling and Dūls attempts to stay cool, making sure to avoid contact with either parties involved.
      “You’re the Galahindan right?” The man began, causing Dūl to swish his eyes from one side to another – Tewila making sure to look away as he looked towards her.
      “Half- Yeah?”
      “Dont’cha call people ‘dolls’?. Well listen here ‘doll’, you’re no longer in some penthouse suite in Cascadia who gets tired after eating their twelfth f*ckin’..-I don’t know!. This is the real wurld, where real men and women fight! So stand down ‘doll’ and shut the f*ck up.!” The soldier hissed back, Dūl sinking down in his seat in response.

      The carrier went silent. Tewila shifted, her brain wanted to speak, to say something, but her throat betrayed her and sealed shut. Her tongue and mouth remaining still. Eventually she gave up and settled her head on the back of her chair, attempting to sleep through the awkwardness. She didn’t see Dūl’s face or reaction. And to be frank she didn’t want to, the heat made things bad enough.
      So much for being honourable to friends rang in her mind. She scrunched her face in response and pushed the voice in her head aside.
      Eventually her tiredness overtook the gross heat of the truck and the prickling pain from the sun baring down through a nearby plastic window, succumbing to her sleep - even if it was just for half an hour.
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