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REHL
Haru Imperial Naval Command HQ
Perya Naval Base #2
K2/02/24

Fleet-Lord Raz stepped into the anteroom and clicked jackbooted heels together smartly. The man was just under sixty years of age and slim of figure in an athletic sense. He bore numerous medals, most of them from the days when the Imperium had been seen briefly in the war with Beautancus. With formality out of the way, he handed a few sheets of teletype to a seated individual before him. " Grand Admiral Xun , we have orders from the Empress and the Council of the Nine. We are hereby ordered to seize the western island near that of the island occupied by the Adapton Federalists, though with measures of soft-touch applied to whatever natives live there, the royal court and the council do not wish for a repeat of the Northern debacle."

A brief moment spent considering before a glance paid the man ever so rigid in stance before his desk. " Very well, we shall alert Vice-Admiral Tor'Van of the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet to make preparations to deploy from the Ttoile Taskforce via the port of Hades, by the end of the month and re-direct a fleet towards this island."

Tihun placed his thumb gently upon the biometric register near the computer at his desk, and with that printed out a new and authorized set of orders. He then slowly arose from behind the desk. He to wore a uniform similar to the Fleet-Lord's. Stepping about the left side and out, allowing the decorated officer a dip of head and to lead the way towards the communication and control level. Great oak doors trimmed with silver opened outwards and lining the walls, legionnaires of the Imperium stood stock still, weapons in arched salute.

Sengar'd Isto Hiatori meanwhile strode down the centerline of the communications center. Apart of the Peryan Defense Security Fleet, the his duties were to monitor sea-lane traffic, as well as transmit orders to the various ships of the HIN on active duty. A nervous tuck at his collar before stepping out to the overlook station, supervising the junior officers at their station, relieving Prata-Khan Hido from such duty. Taking his stand before the primary console, just as the much higher ranked admiral and fleet-lord made their appearance.

He turned as they approached, the newly made orders were handed over, they were authorized and he spoke. " Very good sir, orders are authorized, we will begin transmission to the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet command vessel in the next few moments." A a salute followed before he turned around and such was done, giving the Vice-Admiral Tor'Van his new mustering orders.

Kataigidon
Near Adapton Claimed Island
2nd Grand Ranke Fleet Deployment
K2/03/06

Vice-Admiral Tor'Van stood upon the bridge of the Dreadnought Duilr uv Vnucd (Touch of Frost), command ship of the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet. The strike carriers Luhtun (Condor), Cdaat (Steed), the assault carriers Syla (Mace), and the Cryng (Shark). Additionally there were two Taro-Class (Guided Missile Heavy Cruisers), four 210 Dekan (Tiger) Class (Assault Frigates), three Chuf (Snow) Class Guided Missile Cruisers.

Two Cay Kut (Sea God) class Amphibious ships, seven 205 Ymekydun (Alligator) Class corvettes, one Pmaccat Duilr Class (Blessed Touch) Hospital ships, two Naviaman (Refueling Oilers), six Uqah (Oxen) Class troop transports with a combined landing total of sixteen thousand legionnaires. 

Currently reading his new orders had come straight from REHL (Haruspex Imperial Naval Command) near the end of the previous month, and yet he was still gently rubbing forehead in slight vexation as the newest teletype was set upon the command table. A mutter or two before calling his second in command over, Commodore Ure'Dane. " Once the officers from SVHY (Ministry of Foreign Naval Affairs) are on board, set our course towards the island just past the Adapton island to our west." There was a bit of a sigh and Ure'Dane spoke. " Sir, we are to capture the island and occupy it then as planned?" Tor'Van nodded a bit. " Ah yes, we are at the mercy of the court and our friendly Grand Admiral has taken an interest in us, as sailors who can do the job whatever it means."

" By the gods, we're be doing whatever he wants.." Ure'Dane sighed again, rubbing the bridge of his nose before continuing. He muttered a bit and walked over towards the communication officer and began to issue the re-deployment orders. Glanced up as a headset was against one ear. " Sir, the officers of the SVHY are finally here, and are proceeding to land on the heavy cruiser Cay Vyhk (Sea Fang). "

Tor'Van nodded. " Then give the order to sail, arrange us in battle formation seven, half our corvettes to the front, cruisers and frigates to our starboard and port sides, the other half behind the transports. Once within range of the island, alert the SVHY to helicopter in to the island, relay our intents to the civilian traffic or what constitutes radio command there."

" Furthermore, deploy the rest of the fleet upon reaching the island, to one of defense while we wait. Transports will land the troops and equipment once the officers reach the desired deal." Ure'Dane nodded and proceeded to relay his orders as he himself could feel through the deck as the dreadnought began to turn about and assume the position within center of the fleet. 

It had taken nearly a week to make sure the provisions, troops, and of course ships could be properly redirected from the harbor of Ttoile where they had come to rest in anchor for the moment. Munitions had been loaded, foodstuffs, and of course fuel for some of the vessels that did not operate the standard Haru reactor system. Once such was done, it shouldnt be to long of a sail, the island beyond the Federalist island, wasnt far away really.

The rest of the fleet, roughly half of it, was currently anchored outside of Hades, whose port had been secured so that the naval landing force could then invade Ttoile. The rest of some forty-thousand troops deployed in sweeping up whatever remained of the insurrection royalists. 

Edited by Haruspex
mustering and deployment (see edit history)
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“I think this was the longest day yet,” Aidan said as he sat down on the small couch in his office. Dustin sat alongside him and propped his arm up along the back of the couch.

“Well, I have to say that logistics coordination isn’t the most enthralling thing I’ve ever done, can’t say it makes for longer days than yours,” Dustin replied with a smile.”

Aidan sighed, “I’m really sorry you can’t go out on full field duty anymore. But you know that the military wouldn’t allow the King’s partner to be put in harms way directly.”

“It’s ok, I understand. Still a little frustrating I won’t lie, but I get it. I suppose it helps that I literally majored in logistics management.”

Aidan stared at him blankly, “You did?”

“Aidan you knew that come on!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Just been so much going on a lot gets lost in the crazy. But I’m going to make it up to you because we’ve got the entire time in to ourselves-”

Just as he had said that a rapid series of knocks came from the door. Aidan rolled his eyes in frustration, “I will literally shoot the person who comes through that door if the world isn’t ending.”

The door opened up and several people filed in, in fact it was most of the Royal Council accompanied by Admiral Forrest and General Padraig. Aidan stood up slowly while Dustin shot him a worried look. “Alright, you’ve got my attention, what the hell is going on?”

Admiral Forrest stepped forward from the group, standing loosely at attention, “Your Majesty, we’ve received a communique from the Tagmatine government. It appears earlier today Haruspex has made ready to launch a fleet with an intended destination of the island west of Adapton owned Phalkia. At first we believe they were planning to launch a strike against Adaptus, but all indications now point towards an invasion of Corinium.”

“Jesus Christ, what are they thinking? That’s a stone’s throw away from Llalta and mainland Argis. They can’t be serious, they know we have to respond?”

“We believe that’s why they’ve deployed such a significant force. With the Defiant and her fleet tied up providing support in Ceris and the Trapezon only just finished with her first exercises they know we can’t respond in force fast enough. They most likely see this as an easy land grab.”

“Not to mention the massive quantity of ground troops they’ve apparently dedicated to this endeavor.” General Padraig spoke up.

“Fuck,” Aidan muttered, “What do we have at Llalta?”

“The HMS Ardent is the ship currently assigned to Llalta, along with fifty marines. I apologize if I overstepped Your Majesty the moment I heard the news I already sent them at best speed to Corinium.”


Aidan gave a brief smile, “Well thanks for reading my mind. I want the Ardent to anchor itself right off the coast of Corinium. How long will it take them to reach the island?”

“They were underway a few hours ago, they should arrive at the island in around a day and a half. At best speed they should beat the Haruspexian fleet there by a few hours, it helps that Llalta is marginally closer to Corinium than their port at Hades, and from what the Tagmatines relayed to us they appear to be keeping their fleet’s cohesion.”

“Good, alright. How long until we can get the Trapezon to assist them?”

Forrest’s face turned to a look of disappointment, “It’s going to take at least a week to get the fleet out there from Seylos. The Ardent is going to be on her own.”

“Do we have any sort of diplomatic presence on the island?”

“We have a small consulate, which only has a staff of six last I checked. They aren’t prepared to deal with the diplomatic weight of this situation.” Minister Tatum said.

“I imagine you want to get someone out there now?” Aidan replied, “We have to get in contact with the local government.”

Tatum nodded, “I’ve already assembled an envoy to be dispatched to the island, we’ll be ready to leave shortly.”

“Geoffrey, you can’t go there yourself. It’s far too dangerous.” Aidan said, shocked at the minister’s plan.

“I believe this is one occasion where we need to put our best foot forward. And I’ll be honest, I want to make sure nobody else gets this wrong. I’ll be fine Aidan, it would cause serious problems for them if the moment they showed up they just started firing at the Ardent and trying to kill me. We’ll have time.”

“Then take a dozen of the Royal Guard with you-” Aidan raised his finger up when Geoffrey opened his mouth to protest, “I don’t care if they just sit in the bloody plane the whole time, I want them there with you.”

“Yes Your Majesty.” Tatum replied, knowing better than to argue with the monarch.

“Before you go assign someone to reach out to any of our Argis allies, hell anyone who will listen. And inform the Tagmatines what our intentions are. Let’s go”


Everyone in the room gave a quick nod and filed out, each no doubt preparing for the worst case scenario. Aidan shut the door behind them and turned back to Dustin, who had been standing behind him the entire time, no doubt looking incredibly worried. Aidan fell back into the couch and looked up at him, “I don’t suppose you’re into apocalypse movies are you?”

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0000 Hours | Iverican Standard Time

08 MARCH, 2021

 

In the dark of the midnight hour, several high-priority messages were exchanged between the TRIDENT Liaison Office in the Kingdom of @Seylos, the Office of the Primo, and the Júnt Capos Office in Intreimor.

Within the hour, the Júnt Capos Office alerted the Office of Naval Operations in Manille, to prepare an Operations Proposal for an impromptu joint-forces operation. In the next 2 hours, the Armada Reserve Task Force (RESTAF), Headquarters North and Peninsular Fleet Northern Command (COMNOR) revised the porposal and shot it back as an OPLAN to deploy their furthest flung units to the Northern Adlantic. 

4 Hours from the time the Liaison office sent its message, RESTAF had sent a orders despatch via Nousphera Link-18 encryption to Task Force Explorator near the Argic Circle, the members of which had previously been busy freezing and busy conducting local outreach. At the same time, COMNOR emitted a VLF signal to no. 141 Submarine Squadron which had been on one of its regular patrol routes, skulking underneath an Argic Ice Floe.

---

The hubub started when the TRIDENT Liaison Office had dispatched an urgent communique to the Office of the Júnt Capos, whose secretaries promptly read it with many a raised eyebrow. Queries were sent and answered from both sides so the communique, now an Operations Proposal, was shot to the Office of Primo--who upon grumpily reading the message, was jolted awake from morning stupour by the news. Now cleared by civil authority, the OP went to the Office of Naval Operations for study and delegation.

The message continued the circuit and landed on the desk of the Director of Naval Intelligence who, miffed that he hadn't known about this before everyone else, grudgingly activated the relevant analysts. After a brief feasibility check, the message was once again on its way, finding itself interrupting the pillar of paperwork on the Fleet Readiness Director's office, who checked that indeed, the requisite units were both skulking and freezing where they were posted respectively.

Relevant checks and studies done, the message which-- at this point had covered enough ground to go to Selbourne and back in the space of two hours--was finally in the Operations Room of Reserve Task Force, Headquarters North, who were now equally giddy and stunned that they were in fact, getting at some of the action.

Later that morning, the public would awake to yet another maritime deployment headline.

 

---

 

The secondary purpose of the Argic Passage stations was to allow the Armada Iverica some means of assissting in a potential flashpoint in the North Adlantic--a theory that had been studied for some time in Iverican Strategic circles.

The economic interest of shipping lanes in that area (newly opened and still in a seasonal trial phase), added to the potential threat to two TRIDENT partners for peace, and furthered by the Iverican strategic policy of keeping old wurld rogues from encroaching closer to the new wurld (precisely, one of the main pillars TRIDENT had been formed) made the entire situation extremely interesting to the Iverican leadership.

The only justification needed at that point was for the public and international community--whether Iverican intervention was requested or not... a justification the Seylosians had seemed only too happy to provide.

n6S9lYd.jpg

Task Force Explorator deploys from the eponymous Armada Base dei Polar seen above.

---

TF Explorator:

  • DDG 444, VRI EREBO
  • FFG 023, VRI DON JUAN FRANCO
  • T-AOE 056, VRI NOTUS

Stats for nerds: The slowest ship in TF Explorator (a T-AOE) can cruise at 26 knots and flanks at around 30. Distance to RV point with Seylos is around 1.2 thousand nautical miles (2200+ km). At full speed, the TF can get there in 52-60 hours at a comfy pace, they can get there quicker if need be. For this case, I'm adjusting that to around 72 to account for caution around icey parts. 

Armada light task forces like this one, if not presently engaged can go aweigh and underway in a matter of hours.  Their slowest ship is already a fast-supply ship. In this case, I'm assuming muster and Pre-departure checks will be careful and will add a few hours before they can depart.

 

OOC: i'm on a mountain lodge and dont have the time to spell check this. It is cold.

If you read the Despatch and my Navy's iiwiki, you'll see some more specifics.

An annexation (even a soft touch one) by a state that caused the recent humanitarian crisis is going to raise some eyebrows. Especially since Iverica has allied and economic interests in the area.

As for Seylos sharing intelligence about this , I read above that he sourced the info from Tagmatium about the fleet movements. So I assume it isnt too hard to confirm this with a IMINT from satellites once a tip off was sent.

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Captain Lennox had just entered the bridge of the HMS Ardent when he was flagged down by his first officer. He had been just about to go to sleep when he had been called up to the bridge about some new event that had just happened, though Commander McCallister had been fairly vague about what was going on.

“Well McCallister, are you going to tell me why I’m not asleep right now?”

“Sorry sir, I just thought you’d want to see this for yourself.” McCallister replied, gesturing at the computer him and the communications specialist were both looking at. “It looks like we’ve received a communication over the Joint Task Force Relay Protocol.”

Lennox raised one of his eyebrows and bent down a bit to take a closer look at the screen. The JTFRP had been created to facilitate secure communications between allied ships out at sea and was the communications protocol being actively used by Seylosian ships in the Dolch to talk to other members of the coalition.

“Looks like a TRIDENT identifier?”

The communication specialist looked up at the captain, “Yes sir, looks like it’s coming from three Iverican ships located in the Argic passage. Erebo, Don Juan Franco, and Notus. A destroyer, frigate, and tender respectively. They’re requesting confirmation of a rendezvous point and IFF synchronization.”

“Does it say why?” Lennox asked.

“Message reads that they’ve been ordered by their government in joining our efforts in making a presence in Corinium. We received a message earlier confirming they were one of the nations the government notified.”

“That’s some good news, looks like we won’t be alone.” McCallister said, a slight smile showing on his face.

“That may be, but two frigates and a destroyer won’t exactly stop the Haru.” Lennox replied.

McCallister pointed at the screen, “But they’ve brought a tender. I think we’re saved.”

“Yes truly the peak of Argis military might,” Lennox remarked dryly, “Alright then, continue communications with them and grant their request. How much longer until we reach Corinium?”

“Another twelve hours. Weather shows as clear.” McCallister replied.

“Alright, let me know if anything else happens, in the meantime I’m going to bed.”

--------------------------------
Minister Tatum’s plan had landed just minutes ago, and as he stepped off the ramp onto the airport's tarmac. He shivered slightly in the colder Corinium air, he hadn’t been to a colder country in quite some time and he wasn’t quite used to these temperatures. Waiting for him was a small delegation from the island’s government, one man in particular stepped forward offering his hand.

“Welcome to Corinium, my name is Cassian Nerva, I’m the assistant director of the Foreign Office.”

Tatum grabbed Cassian’s hand back giving it a firm shake, “Geoffrey Tatum, Seylosian Minister of Foreign Affairs. I hope you were able to go over what we had sent you while we were traveling?”

Cassian nodded, “Indeed we did Minister, suffice to say it was quite the shock to learn that such an enormous military force was heading in our direction.”

“And your government?”

“They are currently in heavy debate, though they are expecting you,” Cassian sighed, “Shortly after you contacted us, we received a communique from Haruspex regarding their intentions as well as what they say they are after.”

“Your government has to know that they are after no more than your integration into their state. I can’t imagine becoming the next in line of honorary Haru citizens is on everyone’s list of favorite things, considering how well it’s worked out for others.”

“Perhaps Minister Tatum, but as with all things on Corinium, the matter is much more complicated in the Assembly. I will fill you in more on the state of affairs here on our drive into the city.”

 

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Posted (edited)

Dreadnought Duilr uv Vnucd (Touch of Frost)
Command Ship of the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet
Steaming towards Verlucio
K2/03/09

He awoke slowly, raising from the flat bed in quarters, dimly aware of the chiming sound that came from the wake up alarm. Given enough time it would crescendo throughout his room, pinging off of the bulkhead walls. Adamantly muttering occurred then. " Alright, Alright..I'm up. By the Empress I'm up.." Shuffled a few feet and clicked the alarm off and then stretched some with a yawn escaping. Light back scratching with left hand, and then ambled to the small basin and sonic shower.

The vibrations that emanated from the shower head scrubbed him clean, that awake feeling came to and then he set about trimming facial hair for a moment before snagging a cup of Halt Vlos, a type of thick, syrupy like coffee drink. Adjusting his uniform slightly, he then stepped from his quarters, opening and closing the hatch as doing so. Boots fell against the walkway, passing by a few junior officers who slid to the side to let him pass.

He observed the interior of the command and control area for a moment before stepping through the hatch leading in and nodding to his senior officers, Prata-Khan Lada and Dorsi. They like he, were deeply tanned, weathered looking and aged. Lada and Dorsi were within a few years of their mid-twenties. The rest of the sailors present were fairly young, though a few hit about thirty, lifers in the glorious naval service.

Liet Sian, a (Equivlent: Chief Petty Officer/2nd Lieutenant depending on branch) managed the main communique station and handed a data-pad without looking or even noting he was there. " Sir, we've contacted by REHL, and they are asking for an update to our heading, as well as the progress of the SVHY officers." A slight sigh as Tor'Van glanced towards Lada who spoke up. " Sir, SVHY officers have left the Cay Vyhk (Sea Fang), and are using a transport to head towards the island's capitol, ehm..ah, the city of Corinium."

Dorsi spoke up soon after. " As to our heading, we will arrive within sight of the city of Verlucio within ten hours."

The admiral nodded his head a moment. " Alright, alert command of the details at hand. Liet Sian, alert the fleet to the current heading, they are to assume non-aggressive ROE and there will be no combat without my authorization, if any captain asserts an aggressive response, I will have them relieved of command." He paused. " Transmit my words as follows; There are many who are eager to score points with command because the navy did not participate so much in the Northern campaign. That was then, this is now.

Sian nodded. " Yes Vice-Admiral, it will be done."

Nod's from round the bridge and then Tor'Van took another drink from his mug as watching said officers do their diligent duty. Eventually he more or less sensed the presence of his hawk like second in command, Commodore Ure'Dane sliding up beside him. " Vice-Admiral" Always so formal. " We've been sent imagery of vessels on an intercept course. I assume and naval intelligence seems to believe so as well, that it is a TRIDENT response effort.

" My orders stand old friend. We will not initiate engagement of potentially enemy forces. When we arrive, deploy the taskforce to protect our transports and logistical craft. Initiate aerocraft flyovers of the island and its borders. Send a reconnaissance aerocraft over the lone vessel from the south and the three heading towards from the other direction.

" Yes sir, I will order two long range aircraft from the strike carrier Luhtun (Condor) to do perform scouting duties. Are they to be unarmed?"

" Yes Commodore, remind the commander of the Luhtun of this will you." A slight nod from Ure'Dane." It will be done sir."

SVHY (Ministry of Foreign Naval Affairs)
Departing from the Heavy Guided Missile Cruiser Cay Vyhk (Sea Fang)
2nd Grand Ranke Fleet
K2/03/09

Sengar d'isto (Noble rank, equivalent of Major) Fasri'Nu Hallas was trying to keep a straight face. He hated flying, he hated being on the sea, and the whole time he'd been aboard the Cay Vyhk, had seen him flustered and seasick. He preferred being in an office, and delegating duties to those lesser in status. 

Curse that Grand Admiral, this was his doing! He muttered a moment and tried to take his mind off of the bouncing, turbulence that was currently affecting his transport. The sight of the rotors spinning and the waves far below reminded him of his own mortality. He'd be thankful for solid land, soon enough. 

Nearby, but not close enough to the obviously ill behaving and unprepared Fasri'Nu, were three other members of the entourage. All had worked in the diplomatic corps prior to enlisting in the SVHY. Danla, Daya, and Yuta were all of the same rank and status, they were Siet Khan in rank, and from the House of Vek Elemmiire. Only their superior was of a different minor house. 

Danla for one was excited by this mission. It was her second deployment, and her first had been under that of the office of SVHY in Ulusk. She was quite infatuated with Fleet-Lord Kaorin and longed to return to the port city. Daya had been serving the SVHY for a few years, mostly in Kaldana, and then in Ulusk as well. Only Yuta had come out of the legions and into the SVHY. He was the oldest out of those present and had been on many deployments. His greying hair was a recent gift of having a late child. 

He was also asleep, much to the annoyance of Fasri. How could the man sleep in this rollercoaster! He was just about to admonish the man when one of the pilots looked back, threading his gaze past the security detail. " We're approaching Corinium. We've been diverted to a landing area to the south of the city."

" Very well, please land us there."

The multi-rotored HIA TR-02 Aykma (Eagle) VTOL lumbered into view and slowly began its descent. As the engines began to rotate upwards more like a helicopter, it came to rest upon the tarmac. The rear ramp hissed and then began to lower, eventually setting into a locked position. The security force emerged first, naval legionnaires in dress uniform, securing points just beyond the transport. Then came Fasri, Danla, Daya and a yawning Yuta. All three wore the naval uniforms of officers since that was what they were. 

A collection of citizenry were awaiting them. " Greetings officer Hallas. I am a representative for the nationalist party here in Corinium, and this fellow beside me is the representative of the workers party." Indicating the other fellow.

Fasri extended his arm, and shook both of the representatives, in a manner befitting how the Haru did such, grasping the forearm and locking limbs together before release. " I am pleased to meet both of you, the Imperium would like to work with both parties to ensure a peaceful transition of authority, while retaining the civilian government for affairs related to such."

" Yes, we are interested in such. However, a Seylosai representative landed a few hours ago and is talking with the more conservative members of the house and parliament. As with many things in Corinium, there will be plenty of discussion."

Luhtun (Condor) 
Fast Strike Carrier Class (FSCC)
2nd Grand Ranke Fleet
K2/03/09
Commanding Officer: Prata Khan Yarna

Yarna stood in the side bridge of his first command. He seconds, two Siet Khan ranked officers were awaiting him. Tahor and Tahr respectively were from the previous commander's service, and had become indispensable to his command of the Luhtun. Tahor had just pulled the teletype of orders from the fleet command vessel.

" Sir, we are to send two unarmed scouts to observe and report upon possible TRIDENT vessels on an intercept course to the taskforce." Yarna had heard about Tor'Van, that he was both a taskmaster and something of a relic, and he was the same age! A difference in education possibly, and he was his superior and not from a house, it was unbelievable. He nodded however, the man was humble, gracious to his subordinates, and he would obey his orders.

" Very well, send two veterans. I want pilots who know what they are doing. We've too many green ones that I need the best for the vice-admiral's request.

Tahr nodded. " Sir, I will head to the pilots plot room and give the order." He saluted and then headed out of the bridge area, down the many ladders, through the twisting and turning pathways and hatches before entering into the carrier's plot room for pilots to discuss missions and the like. Two pilots in particular were already there, probably from a recent training run. The nearly out of service aged Kanan, and his cohort in activities, Nigal. " Gentlemen, its good that I ran into you, I've orders from the commander." He handed the teletype over. " Courtesy of the Vice-Admiral."

Kanan looked as if he had been a feline thrown into toilet water. A quick scan of the orders and he blinked. " Well, I didnt think old Iron plate had it in him. C'mon Nigal, we're gonna go take us a peek at somebody. Flip for the three." Tahr watched as the pair flipped an old and scratched coin. It looked..Tagmatine in origin. " Leopard says the three are mine, church says the single is." Flip, flip, land, uncover with one hand. " Hah.." Nigal exclaimed. " Three are mine." Kanan peered at the coin. " So they are. Alright, alert the deck crew, get us fueled and with extended tanks.." Glanced towards Tahr. " We're clear to launch as ready?"

Tahr nodded. " You are. Use encrypted communique channels 2, 7, and 11 when making reports. Equip aerial photography pods as well." He paused before looking back on his way out. " And good luck." Then made his return towards the bridge, of which as he got back, the deck crew were already prepping two HAD S39N Jeban's (Viper, naval version of the multi-role fighter)

" Sir." He spoke towards Yarna. " We'll have two of our best taking off shortly. I've relayed your orders, reminded them of the secure channels and given them authorization for immediate departure."

" Very good Tahr, Tahor relay to the command ship that we are proceeding with launching two deck fighters for reconnaissance. " His other officer nodded and immediately began to issue orders to the communique station to do so.

Minutes passed and then a flurry of activity upon the deck, the whine of engines, even with the high decibel proofing of the bridge, you could hear them. The dull thrumming of sound as afterburners were engaged, the blur of metal that happened twice as two aircraft were thrust from their relative resting places, into the skies above. 

<S19-5B> Command, am airborne and proceeding to unidentified vessels on intercept. Will level at 4,500 meters. Repeat, 4,500 meters. <S19-5B>Out. 

<S19-4B> Command, am airborne, proceeding to unidentified vessel south of fleet position. Leveling at 4,500 meters. Repeat, 4,500 meters. <S19-4B>Out.

<LCaC-02>Roger that Flight leaders, will await communique concerning unidentified vessels upon contact.<LCaC-02>Confirms.

" Sir, the flight leaders have begun, estimated time for Flight S19-5B to reach the three vessels is three hours at current burn and ceiling. Flight S19-4B will reach intended target in two hours twelve minutes at current burn and ceiling."

" Very good, relay all information to command, and monitor our flight leaders."

Edited by Haruspex (see edit history)
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Tatum sat down after he had been escorted in by a few guards to what seemed to be the largest office in the parliamentary complex. Apparently the decision had been made by the leader of the Conservative party to meet with him, though he was unsure why as Seylos was generally considered to be a far cry from a conservatism country. The door opened again and a tall skinny man looking to be in his sixties walked in. His face was surprisingly youthful for his age, though that probably came from the lack of sunlight this high up north. He took a seat in his office chair behind his desk letting out a small sigh as he did so.

“Thank you Minister Tatum for joining me. I’m Prime Minister Regulus Iovianus. I wish our first meeting could have been under better circumstances. I’ve just been informed your ship has arrived in Corinium. I’ve allowed them to dock for ‘refueling’ for the time being.”

Tatum raised an eyebrow, “I’m surprised that we are the ones having this meeting, and that you let our ship have permission to dock in the city.”

“Because at the moment things are hanging at a razors edge. When I took this office our party only managed to achieve a majority by less than one percent, and the Worker’s and Nationalists have come together for a coalition making life very difficult.” Iovianus replied.

“You’ll forgive me for asking, but why is it the Conservative government sitting down with me right now and not the others?”

“They are merely a shell of what they used to represent here, and to be totally honest our Conservative party isn’t very conservative anymore. Many years ago the Worker’s party did want more communistic ideals, and the Nationalists did only care for just Corinium. But… a few decades ago their policies began to slant more towards authoritarianism, total state control, harsh law proposals.” Regulus said, looking more sad as he carried on, “They’ve even talked on merging totally, the Nationalists have even pretended to take on Worker’s policies to facilitate this. We’ve had to give up a lot of policy action and freedoms to get to the point we are at, and now is the time where we have to stand and say no.”

“I see,” Tatum said, crossing his arms. He had no doubt that such a strange shift in policy like this must have come from foreign influence, “I’m assuming you think Haruspex had something to do with this over the years?”

“Possibly, we can’t be absolutely certain on that. But regardless my constituency won’t allow us the path of appeasement anymore. In the past decade we’ve opened up more than ever before, and it came with great economic benefit to our island. But of course that came with more foreign influence than ever. I’m afraid it won’t be fifty one percent next election.”

“If this was the case why not just invite Seylos here to begin with?”

“It’s not that easy here ever Mr. Tatum. Had I moved openly for Seylosian support too early they would have swept the last election,” Iovianus replied.
“Your people are aware of what they did to the Cussians aren’t they? They have to understand that them sending a carrier fleet full of thousands of soldiers isn’t just a friendly request to shake hands.” Tatum said, somewhat shocked that the other half of politics on Corinium had become so deluded as to the nature of the people they were dealing with. Seylos itself had to found an entire settlement on a previously disputed island between Seylos and Eire to house the influx of displaced peoples from Cussia.

“I’m sure they are, and I’m sure they understand the ramifications of their actions. And I’m very sure they don’t care. Undoubtedly they have been promised everything they’ve wanted, and they’ve begun to echo those promises to their own constituents. Most of their power base lives in the north of the island, slightly less developed and much more prone to… convincing?”

“You mean more susceptible to propaganda?” Tatum asked.

Iovianus nodded, “Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve had to use Anglish for this long. If you don’t mind I’d lack to invite you and any officers from your HMS Ardent you please to a government gathering later.”

“I don’t suppose the other parties will be in attendance?”

“Some representatives will be yes, though I’m sure the most important of them will be busy meeting with Haru representatives that arrive not long ago.”

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

The Ardent has anchored herself just slightly off the main port and its docks. For a city of its size, Corinium had an unusually large set of dockyards which seemed to be in the process of servicing a myriad of ships from nations all over the Eurth at the moment. Captain Lennox had decided to not fully dock and instead to receive their refuel slightly farther out. A small civilian tanker vessel had pulled up beside the frigate, and had begun the refueling process under the watchful eyes of several officers.

Still Lennox was surprised at the prosperity of the small city, which no doubt came from being the perfect bridge between the Aromans in the Occident and Argis. From what little he knew, the small country made much of its money through the refueling of cargo ships making their way through and seemed to own quite a sizeable cargo fleet itself, no doubt as a way to retain relevance as international trade had grown more common around the world.

In the few hours before their arrival they had caught traces of Haruspexian aircraft searching for the, which had concerned Lennox greatly. Though it didn’t seem like they had made their position, it was no secret that Seylos would send something, and they would have naturally already have found out that they had made it to the city of Corinium. He had received word earlier that the task force underneath the HMS Trapezon was still five days away, but he had some hope after hearing that the Iverican ships would be arriving in around seven hours, taking position just south of Llanium, the island’s southernmost settlement. However without more ships, they wouldn’t be able to cover the north of the island, which while he had no evidence, he imagined the Haru fleet would try to go first. The path of least resistance.

Behind him Commander McCallister emerger from the ship’s command center, a big smile plastered on his face, “Guess what sir?”

Lennox gave a slight sigh as he felt he knew what was coming, “With that smile on your face, I can’t imagine it will be anything I find fun.”

“Don’t be such a downer sir, we get to go to a party!”

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11 MARCH 2021 | 0500 Charlie Time

Task Force Explorator, DDG-444 Erebo: Approx. 100 Kilometres from Llanium

 

sFSDhSN.png

Distribution of units according to Joint-TRIDENT Symbology conventions.

 

A long, high whistle sounded followed by a low thrumming tone. The sound of Armada Iverica's One Main-Circuit alerting all crew to standby for a message. DDG-444 Erebo, a General Luna class Ancile Combat System  guided-missile destroyer, was priming its crew for a final readiness check.

 

"Crew to Alert 1.5, All Crew to Alert 1.5. 60 Mikes to NavPoint Charlie. Muster Quarters, Muster Quarters".

 

Around the ship, Audantes (Petty Officers) rapped batons on hatches and mustered all crew not on watch for pre-operations inspection. Booted heels ran a quick beat as deck teams beat-to their assigned muster stations. Below decks, the armoury was broken open—ballistic ceramic flak vests, helmets, carbines; and load-bearing rigs carrying magazines and grenades were passed to deck teams. Crews were expected to keep their PDWs and protective kit on them at all times at Alert 1.5. 

 

In the Command Information Centre and the Bridge, clear-eyed men took their stations, slipping on headsets and booting auxiliary terminals to assist the Tactical Action Officers, Aviation Officers, Signals Officers, Damage Control Teams, and the myriad other systems. Erebo's 4 RI/SPY and 3 SPG fire-control radars were given yet another soft and hardware check to ensure that their boast of tracking hundreds of separate aerospace targets would be met. The ship's array of ECM and ECCM ran a test protocol, doing a brief frequency hop and tested pulse compression.

 

On the dawn-touched topdecks, the 12.8 cm naval gun tested its action, its bulky mechanism making an awful din of metal-on-metal as it pulled a toddler-sized dummy round from the magazine below, chambered, and then ejected it. The fore and aft multi-weapon Sagittario CIWSs tested the spool rates of their twin autocannons for the hundredth time that week; their Octo-racks of MVI-66DE testing track-and-search. Remote ARX 25mm chainguns and 12.7mm remote turrets were double-checked by topdeck crews; who were wrapped in fire-retardant single-suits, CBRN rated respirators, full-coverage Level IV rated helmets and gorgets on top of their slip-on-slip-off composite ceramic and soft-armour laminated flak vests.

 

Closer to the forecastle and midship decks, the VLS, Torpedo, and AShMs were primed, the G-42 VLS's 96 hatches winking in response, the pair of triple TVU-54 guided torpedo tubes hummed as their cold-launch compressors were double checked, and the 8 TevRan AShMs silos humming as their cold-eject failsafes were tested.

 

On the aft, flight deck crews in orange high-vis vests waved one of two SUR-31 Maritime AEW Rotorcraft out of one of the twin hangars with light-batons. Their breath smoked in the frigid air of the North Adlantic morning. Working in the open air was punishing—but these crews had been operating in the Argic Circle for almost a year. In comparison, this was a summer vacation. In a matter of minutes, ground crews wheeled out the Suisa STAR radar module, a multi-function AEW and target designation radar to replace the stock surveillance radar, and fitted it on the bulky frame of the SUR-31. On the second, they mounted an ASW suite; with a dipping sonar, Torpedos, and other submarine observation equipment.

 

All around the ship, the hedgehog-like decoy and chaff launchers were inspected, ensuring that they might be used to spoof signal tracks and occlude the from visuals Erebo. Electro-optical jammers in the form of gimbal-mounted IR dazzlers around the ship swept this way and that, ready to blind IR guidance and enemy optics. 

 

On the Don Juan Franco, similar, but less numerous systems were tested. Most importantly, its two SAR-26V fast rotors had the majority of their armaments stripped leaving only 2 torpedos mounted on the pylons. In favour, extra fuel tanks were loaded on spare hardpoints, with ECM pods mounted on the remaining slots. These shorter range, but slimmer, quicker rotorcraft were originally attack helicopter airframes redeisgned for naval operations. They each carried a radar that could be used for illuminating targets for anti-ship missiles and could carry a lighter version of the Suisa STAR radar if excess mass was jettisoned.

The Iverican Armada did not come expecting a fight. But they certainly would prepare for one.

 

---

 

48 Hours ago

 The Task Force exited the icey chokes of the Argic Passage, ship's signals made contact with no. 141 Missile Submarine Squadron's VLF burst. A brief Comms session followed as one of the squadron's two Domitor Class SSG/BNs surfaced to establish a Noosphera session with the Erebo. VRI Terror and VRI Ira of no. 141 squadron had been making best speed under the Argic ice for the last 72 hours, but they were still behind the Task Force by a good 5-8 hours. Luckily, the absence of further opposition in the north-western reaches allowed the Domitors to proceed without worry of their cavitation being detected. Both submarines were briefed on an updated plan. Afterward, they set a course to bring them roughly 180-200 km away from the northern coast, still in the deeper waters. This close to enemy ships, the subs ran for minimal cavitation and on passive radar. They maintained a good 20-30km distance from one another and planned their close-to-surface VLF transmissions as a tag-team.

 

24 Hours ago

The small task force conducted an underway personnel transfer. A jointed, flexing gang passage was connected and half the complement of the Erebo was transferred to the Notus. Not long after, the Don Juan Franco ran along side the fast replenishment ship and did the same. 

Now laden with a 40 more Tercios plus its own complement of 60, the Notus broke off from its two task force mates and made best speed to Corinium, where it would join the HMS Ardent to conduct a logistics and service mission. Its new total complement of 100 Tercios would provide ground security and assistance to the Seylosians. The Tercios have orders to go boots on the ground. Among them are a few teams kitted for coastal observation.

 

12 Hours ago

Erebo and Don Juan Franco made a sharp series of manoeuvres on its last stretch of the course, changing their speed, heading, and attitude several times. Staying more than a hundred clicks off the coast, both ships completed a hard port turn and proceeded quickly towards the edge of the littoral zone of the island. The two ships kept a 200 km distance from Corinium and maintained an erratic patrol pattern 

 

---

 

Summary:

  • TF Contacts subs, establish comms. Subs proceed to their own infiltration.
  • Near the island, Notus breaks off carrying 100 marines. Makes to link up with Ardent at port.
  • Erebo and DJF, stay in shallower waters but keep their distance and move evasively. Both prepare their rotor complement appropriately.
Edited by Iverica
Name of torpedo and SAM corrected (see edit history)
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Dreadnought Duilr uv Vnucd (Touch of Frost)
Command Ship of the 2nd Grand Ranke Fleet
On Approach to Verlucio Harbor
K2/03/10 (Time based on ingame arrival)

Prata-Khan Lada slid to a stop before the somewhat imposing Vice-Admiral, if only that he seemed to be a hawk, always watching. " Sir, the Luhtun has sent communique that the reconnaissance aerocraft sent out, only one was successful."

He offered the teletype and gestured towards the navigational screen. " Flight leader S119-5B after a fourth pass, spotted several vessels. He was able to take multiple images of the vessels before heading away from them and whatever counter-measures they may have instigated." The digital images were still being enhanced, but it was clear they were not ships of the line, but rather support vessels similar it appeared in the roles that some of his own taskforce were, perhaps Taro class. 

Tor'Van contemplated a bit and then spoke. " Give me a layout of the island, and the preferred landing areas." Prata-Khan Dorsi was already on such and had the 3d model of the island on the display console, with the taskforce identified via diamonds with numbers. " Sir, we are within sight of Verlucio and have been in contact with their harbor master, your orders relayed to them, and we have been granted access. Not that their littoral craft could stop us otherwise, but it would seem that the Intelligence apparatus has been at work, there is a strong presence by the Nationalist Worker's Party in this city."

" I do not care for politics, so disregard whatever that invokes. All I care for is the safety of this taskforce, and those that come with it." Tor'Van spoke and the bridge crew eased, politics were quite a commotion as with any people. He preferred to remain neutral to such activities.

" Now then, Durnovaria and Cunetio. Get me the following commanders of the fleet, I have their deployment orders." One by one, each chimed in on the battle network and awaited their respective orders. Tor'Van placed his hands behind back and spoke clearly. " Commodore Ure'Dane shall take the second echelon to Durovaria, and his command ship will be the assault carrier Syla (Mace). Supplementing his command will be the 210 Dekan Class assault frigates Pmyta (Blade) and the Cenah (Siren), the Chuf Class Guided Missile Cruiser Unly (Orca), and 205 Ymekydun Class corvettes, the Dnybban (Trapper), Rihdan (Hunter), and Ynnuf (Arrow) respectively. Furthermore, to aid in your securement of the zone that is Durnovaria, you will also have two Uqah (Oxen) Class troop transports with 5,000 legionnaires and infantry support vehicles etc." 

He waited a moment for the commanders of these ships to get their orders before he continued. " Now many of you are veteran commanders in your own right, however, Commodore Ure'Dane is a seasoned combat commander, and a man of the sea as many of you are. His orders should be taken as if I were the one to issue them. That is the trust I have within him, I pray to the gods, that you will earn such trust as he has."

He turned slightly towards his valued second and nodded. Ure'Dane spoke. " I will depart immediately, you may rely upon me Vice-Admiral." Tor'Van spoke. " I know. May the sea be merciful." He spoke to Dorsi. " Get me the other commanders. Yarna will have a chance to prove himself."

Dorsi nodded and brought the remaining commanders online. " Commanders of this fleet. I have your orders." Spoke Tor'Van. " Prata-Khan Yarna, your vessel the Luhtun (Condor), will serve as flagship for the third echelon element and steam towards Cunetio. Under your command, will be the following vessels, 210 Dekan Class assault frigate Myhla (Lance), 205 Ymekydun Class corvettes Cay Fumv (Sea Wolf) and Nyjah (Raven), Chuf Class Guided Missile Cruiser Ryssan (Hammer), Cay Kut class Amphibious ship Tena Paycd (Dire Beast), and much like the commodore, you will have two Uqah (Oxen) Class troop transports with 5,000 legionnaires and infantry support vehicles etc."

Yarna stiffly responded, which could not be helped. " I shall endeavor to earn the trust, such as the Commodore has Vice-Admiral." The line blinked and then went dark as the young commanding officer immediately set to work.

The fleet was beginning to disperse, though it would take time, it would alter the situation about the island significantly. He spoke towards Liet Sian. " Inform Prata-Kahn Yephira to head towards Corinium at best speed as the fourth echelon fleet. She is to bring an Uqah (Oxen) Class troop transport, her own command of the Taro class Guided Missile Heavy Cruiser Cay Kuttacc (Sea Goddess), and Cay Kut class Amphibious ship Wapuesc Knyla (Zeboim's Grace)."

Sian spoke quickly as sending out the orders. " Sir, Prata-Khan Yephira has received orders and will begin to coordinate her forces towards Cornium. Tor'Van nodded again and looked at what was left of his main fleet, to stand at Verlucio. There was his command, 

  • the Dreadnought Duilr uv Vnucd (Touch of Frost).
  • One of four 210 Dekan Class Assault Frigates, the Lymm uv dra Feht(Call of the Wind). 
  • One of three Chuf Class Guided Missile Cruisers, the Sygu (Mako).
  • One of two Strike Carriers,the Cdaat (Steed).
  • One of two Assault Carriers, the Cryng (Shark).
  • One Pmaccat Duilr Class Hospital ship, the Kmuneuic Lyna (Glorious Care).
  • One Uqah Class troop transport, the Knao Fryma (Grey Whale).
  • One of two Taro-Class (Guided Missile Heavy Cruisers, the Fnydr uv dra Cay (Wrath of the Sea)
  • Two of Seven 205 Ymekydun Class corvettes, the Knao Veh (Grey Fin) and the Lnuugat Vyhk (Crooked Fang)
  • Two Naviaman Class Refueling Oilers, the Cenahc Lymm (Siren's Call), and the Cay Pnaawa (Sea Breeze).

He felt it was adequate to holding the port of Verlucio, and grumped a bit. " Deploy the drones before the fleet disperses. Signal VTOL crews to their stations, deploy ASW munitions to all VTOL craft and conduct perimeter patrols about our area of operations." Sian nodded and set to work immediately as the admiral prowled the bridge. " Set our alert rating to active, and commence deployment of arms and security across the fleet." Dorsi nodded. " Aye Sir, sound deployment wide klaxon, raise alert to active." 

" Sir, we are in the process of deployment, klaxon has been sounded across the fleet, and the echelons are in the process of leaving the area of operation following your orders." He paused to check something before voicing it. " The Cdaat, Cryng, and Sygu are awaiting launch orders of their drones sir."

" Launch." The order carried through the communication system and the three ships hurtled their Hehzy drones into the sky. One by one, until nine drones drifted upwards. Three would cover the island itself, the other five would disperse to the deployment zones and one would cover the nexus point where all the sea lanes converged upon Verlucio. The corvettes under his command now, were already in that area, and would remain there as scout and patrol vessels.

" Now we wait.."
 

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The party they had all been invited to had both the qualities of excess and quaintness. The Prime Minister clearly wanted to show his best for the Seylosian delegation that had arrived. The most disturbing part about it all however was the obvious lack of any representatives of the opposing parties. Tatum had a feeling this was a foreboding sign, as from the Prime Minister’s own previous statements, the opposition had been looking to Haruspex. He couldn’t fathom why this would be happening in the slightest, why people who had branded themselves Nationalists would willingly hand over control of their people to a foreign power. But this was a different age, an age where countries could easily fall victim to campaigns of disinformation and propaganda from outside sources.
From behind him Tatum heard a voice, not too familiar but definitely Seylosian, “Minister Tatum, myself and Commander McCallister are here as ordered.”

Tatum turned around greeted by both the captain and first officer of the Ardent, “Don’t sound too disappointed Captain, I felt it best for us to put our best effort to the Corinians.”

“Of course sir,” Captain Lennox replied, “I suppose I’d just rather be with my ship right now. We don’t know when the Haru will show up.”

“The Captain just doesn’t know when to have fun sir,” McCallister said smiling.

From the side a grinning Prime Minister Iovianus walked up to the three, a glass of wine in his hand, “I’m glad all three of you can join us. It will be good to see the Seylosian presence here in-”

Iovianus was interrupted when a clearly distressed aide ran up to him and whispered in his ear. His grin disappeared quickly and turned into terror, “Are you certain?”

“Prime Minister?” Tatum asked, a look of concern spreading across his face.

“The Haru… they’ve arrived in the north. They are splitting off to here…”

Lennox immediately made the briefest of bows, “My apologies Prime Minister, Minister Tatum. I need to be with my ship. Commander come with me.”

The pair hurriedly walked away as the Corinian leader and Minster Tatum continued talking. Lennox pulled McCallister to the side, “Commander, you’ll be staying here. The marines will offload as well as all non essential crewmembers aboard Ardent.”

“Captain, we can’t just leave you-”

Lennox shook his head, “Even with the Ivericans it won’t matter, if they want to destroy us they will. There’s no point in having anything more than a skeleton crew on board Ardent. I want you to talk to the Ivericans and see if they can send reinforcements. We need every able bodied person to secure what we can from the Haru.”

“Aye sir,” McCallister said as Lennox turned to walk away, “And good luck sir.”

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


The situation was at best dire. There were only about a hundred Seylosians on the island and there was no way to secure everything. The Prime Minister had only been as helpful as allowing Seylosians access to the island and offering the assistance of any local police forces they could find. In total they managed to scrounge together around a thousand people, Seylosian Marines, sailors, and local military and police forces that had stayed loyal to the government. Of course the key to all of this was positioning Seylosian forces where they could since the political ramifications of firing on Seylosian personnel would be massive.

Commander McConnell had decided to jump in a Corinian police car rushing north with two marines and a police sergeant from Corinium. It was by far the strangest deployment he could have thought of. If anything it wasn’t even meant to be a fight just charging at each other until they stopped and stared. Which was exactly what happened next.

In the distance they could see other vehicles coming towards them and McCallister waved the driver to stop. The car ground to a halt with its police lights still on and turned to the side somewhat blocking the road as other cars behind them continued to do the same. Soldiers and police jumped out pointing their weapons across the road as a few dragged traffic barricades out into the middle of the road blocking it off. McCallister knew of course the Haru would stop just because they saw police light and yanked a Seylosian flag they had grabbed from the Ardent, draping it across the side of the police car they had arrived in so the opposing vehicles would notice.


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

On board the Ardent, Lennox didn’t even have time to change out of his dress uniform from the event. From his perspective it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, if the Haru were to sink his ship he might as well go down looking good. Of course his goal was to make sure every single man and woman under his command escaped this without any harm. He had ordered the Ardent to take up a position at the opening of the bay to Corinium. He made sure that the Ardent presented its sides to the ocean in order to take up as much space as possible, as little as it was. The bridge was tense as they had already made visual contact with the Haru fleet as it approached Corinium.

“Helm keep us steady in this location. Communication, make sure to report our current position and situation to the Iverican ships. Do we have any update from the Second Fleet-”

“Sir I’m reading several additional contacts coming from the south. IFF shows them as friendly.” The radar operator yelled out.

Overhead he could hear the roar of jets as they passed overhead. The communication office quickly spun about, “Communication from aircraft on speaker sir!”

This is Copalli Actual, we have transmission from Trapezon, how copy?

Lennox nodded to the communications officer as he replied, “Copy that Copalli Actual, ready to receive transmission from Trapezon over.”

Jason, good to hear your voice. Trapezon is eight zero klicks south of Llanium. We should be able to obscure our position with this method for awhile. Air support available over.

“Copy Trapezon, Ardent is at the mouth of Corinium harbor. Two @Iverica ships located two zero klicks south east of our position. Confirm IFF over.”

A brief delay, “Confirmed Ardent. Iverican IFF identified. We have your back. Over.

Lennox stood back from the communications station and looked out through the bridge’s windows. Even from here he could see the @Haruspex fleet appear in the distance. It wasn't a tactical decision he knew, but more an intimidation. Seylos couldn't hope to match such numbers, but what they lacked in firepower they made up for in diplomatic connections. He tapped the communications officers should, “Send out a broadcast on all open frequencies. Unencrypted.”

The officer worked for a moment then looked up at Lennox, “Ready for transmission sir.”

Lennox took a moment to stand straight and adjust his uniform, “This is Captain Jason Lennox of the HMS Ardent, representing the Kingdom of Seylos. You have entered the sovereign territory of the Republic of Corinium, we cannot allow the encroachment of the Haruspex naval forces on this territory. Please respond.”

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2nd Grand Ranke Fleet
4th Echelon Taskforce
Flagship Cay Kuttacc (Sea Goddess)

Prata-Khan Yephira held a relaxed stance, yet her mind was upon the tactical display on the monitors. Her own vessel, the Taro class Guided Missile Heavy Cruiser Cay Kuttacc (Sea Goddess) was in the lead of her small taskforce, and had come into contact via communique with a Seylosi vessel.

The message played, unencrypted, broadcasted on a wide range.

Quote

"This is Captain Jason Lennox of the HMS Ardent, representing the Kingdom of Seylos. You have entered the sovereign territory of the Republic of Corinium, we cannot allow the encroachment of the Haruspex naval forces on this territory. Please respond."

As an officer, it was required to learn the Ahroman inspired tongue. A slight tilt of head, and then she nodded towards the senior communications officer to connect to the foreign vessel. She took a bit of a breath before replying.

" This is the HIN Cay Kuttacc, commanding officer, Prata-Khan Yephira. My orders are to steam to this city and provide support for a diplomatic officer and staff already upon the island."

She made the gesture across her throat to cut communication and then gave a new order. " Contact Vice-Admiral Tor'Van and alert the fleet commander of the situation. Sound general quarters, alert our sister ships."

The klaxon cut across the air, and upon the Amphibious landing/VTOL carrier ship that was the Wapuesc Knyla (Zeboim's Grace), Ji Toarao received the orders of alert as the klaxon could be heard through proximity to the flagship. She immediately gave the orders to prep her contingent of TE-01B Dymuh (Talon)'s and Ryfg (Hawk) Attack Helicopter/Gunship's. A glance paid towards the tactical display and map of the island. Nervous bridge staff waited with baited breath. " Remember your training, trust in the flagship, ready your posts."

Yephira had no desire to sink the vessel politely stating and requesting, however she had her orders as they surely did. Once more she sent a message to the vessel in question, now within sight. 

" HMS Ardent. Any attempt to cease our progress will be considered an act of hostility and we will respond accordingly. However, I will agree to a holding station within sight of the harbor, this fulfills my orders as they are, currently. "

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  • 2 weeks later...

Corinium was an island that no one really paid much attention to. It was one of the islands that bridged the gap between Old Wurld and the New. In the past, it had acted as a stepping stone for people and ideas to go from Europa to Argis. It had allowed Christianity to go from the Occident and flow westward into the New Wurld, especially after Arhomaneia cast down the icons in the 800s. Those who clung to the old ways fled into the icy wastes of Argis through Corinium. It had become a nest of heretics far from the gaze of Arhomaneia and, more importantly for those living there, beyond its reach. Out of sight, out of mind. The Megas Agios Basileia was more concerned with central Europa than some frozen island that refused to see True Religion.

It was typical, then, that the wurld's gaze was drawn to the island because of the Gharoi. For a nation that seemingly prided itself on being isolationist, its actions were constantly bringing it to the attention of the rest of Eurth. After the Exousiokrateia's heavy-handed occupation of Koussoeia, there was no way that seizing a strategic island could have been ignored. If the Gharoi took control of Corinium, they could virtually control access between the Adlantic Ocean and the Sea of Storms.

Because of the pressing emergency caused by Arhomaneia's wayward ally, Kommodos III, Agios Basileos kai Autokrator kai Isapostolos, the Holy Emperor, Sole Ruler and Equal-to-the-Apostles, had called a meeting of his cabinet to discuss the situation. As usual, the meeting was in one of the almost-interchangeable rooms for that purpose within the Basilikon Synkrotima Palation, the Imperial Palace Complex. They varied visually, of course – they ranged from wood-panelled and carpeted to white-washed and mosaic floored – but to most of the cabinet, they were the same. Kommodos was insistent on ancient protocol and the time-honoured trappings of power and faith that constituted life in the upper echelons of the Tagmatine government. This included ever present priests, filling the meeting room with murmured prayer and the scent of incense.

A map on the wall at one end of the room showed the north Adlantic, focussing on the islands that lay between Europa and Argis. The map was reproduced on screens set into the desks in front of all of the members of the Agios Basilikon Vestiarion, the Holy Imperial Cabinet.

“Short of an invasion of Adaptos, Imperial Majesty, this is perhaps the worst thing that the Gharoi could do.” Honorios Kontarian, the Megas Logothetes tou Stratiotikou sighed. As the Minister for War, he would know what the problems would likely be. He drew an idle pattern on the top of the table next to his screen with his finger. “It could well end up provoking a war with TRIDENT, as there is no way that they will want those barbaroi knocking on the door of Argis.”

“And if a war does come, we would be hard pushed to stay out of it,” said Eugenios Goulielmos of the Logothesion ton Barbaron, an unhappy edge to his voice. His glasses reflected the image of the map on the screen in front of him, preventing anyone from really seeing his expression. “We're in alliances with both sides. An attack from the New Wurld against the Gharoi would see us obliged to join them but if the Gharoi struck first and we did nothing, then the attempts over the last few years to build links with the New Wurld be ruined.”

“Imperial sovereign, war, no matter who started it, would put our supply routes to Ceris at risk.” Kontarian stopped looking down at the table top and looked over at his monarch. “Even if it was just a case of taking a longer route to avoid any conflict zones, a breakdown in the rate of supply could be disastrous.”

“I believe you had assured me that the stockpiles that were accumulated there would be sufficient for several months' of advancing?” asked Kommodos, a slight frown on his face. “The Epistrategaion moved across a significant amount of Arhomaneia's reserve.”

“Well, Imperial Majesty, it's more the fact that we don't know what the fanatics next move might be,” replied Kontarian. “Ultimately, the Epistrategaion and my logothesion are confident that our force in Ceris will be victorious. It would just be much easier if they weren't severed from contact with us here.”

“In the case of war, how long might the Seilosioi hold out, Megas Logothetes?” asked another figure sat at the table. It was Pantaleon Tonaras, the Minister of Internal Affairs. Kontarian always thought him a suspicious bugger. “At best they have, what, two carriers? One of them is already in action around Ceris, like our two.”

Kontarian shrugged. “If it did come to war, then it's not likely that they'd last all that long around Korinion. Their naval presence would likely be swept aside by the Gharoiki forces.”

Everyone turned from looking at the two people talking to the screens. The suspected size of the Gharoiki force was many times bigger than that of the Seilosiki one. Information from the AND and military intelligence suggested which ships the northern barbaroi might have used and it really didn't look that good for the @Seylosians, if it came to blows. But the Iberikoi (@Ivericans) were likely waiting in the wings for exactly that.

“And it's likely a victory here would just embolden the Gharoi,” said Goulielmos, still with the edge of almost despondency to his words. “They're beginning to throw their weight around as it is.”

What the foreign minister didn't say, but something Kontarian knew that he thought, was that in hindsight, Arhomaneia should have tried to nip that in the bud when the northern barbarians seized Koussoeia. But then he suspected that Kommodos thought that, too. Now, with a crisis brewing around an island that few people had paid much attention to, most of the wurld probably thought that as well.

“In some ways, it could benefit us,” suggested Takitos Khalkeos, the Megas Logothetes of the Logothesion tou Kommerkiarionikou, the Ministry of Trade. He had turned around in his chair to look at the large map, rather than the one in front of him. He had even shuffled his high-backed chair around to take a better look.

Khalkeos shrugged as the rest of the cabinet's gaze fell upon him. “The disruption of trade routes through the northern Adlantic might mean that more ships go through the canal.”

There was silence after that comment, a thoughtful one as the rest of the ministers and officials considered the statement. A small increase in traffic through the canal would be little consolation when a virtual rogue state controlled such a strategic island. And on top of that, it would be a very small increase in trade – the most direct route into the heart of Europa from the New Wurld was, after all, through the Amnalos Thalassa. And this undoubtedly led into the next issue, that it seemed that the Gharoi were attempting to dominate that body of water, too.

Kommodos didn't bother to respond to his trade minister. He sat forward in his chair and rested his elbows on its arms. He steepled his fingers together. “We are, of course, sailing very close to the wind by sending intelligence to the Seilosioi. I cannot imagine that the Gharoi will be happy when they guess that, if they haven't already.”

The alliance between the two neighbours had been one of the defining moments of Kommodos' reign but it looked increasingly like it was beginning to play itself out.

“They'll already be aware of the small naval task forces that we've put out to the north and south,” said Tonaras, speaking to the room, rather than the Vice-Gerent of God on Eurth. There was an edge of... what, satisfaction in his voice? Honorios wasn't quite sure. “And I'm sure that they won't be assured that it isn't related to their designs on Korinion.”

Each of the two Prognostikatores light cruisers that had been sent were accompanied by a Hippikos destroyer, as well as two Muroblutes class corvettes and a tender vessel. These were on top of the usual patrols of the Basilikoploimon in the areas. The idea was less to provoke the Gharoiki naval forces in either the Amnalos Sea or the Sea of Storms, but to remind them that their actions would not escape the notice of Arhomaneia. And, in fact, they had not. The Arhomaiki Noimosyni Dykton and the Epistrategaion, the Tagmatine intelligence agency and high command respectively, had been gathering information and passing it on to their Seylosian allies.

“Well, it's not as if they can expect us to sit back and let them do as they please,” returned Kontarian, keeping his voice level. The Minister for Internal Affairs seemed to sense that he'd hit some sort of nerve and gave a slight smile to himself. Kontarian narrowed his eyes at him. Kommodos followed the exchange of looks but did not comment. Likely it was noted, however.

Instead, Kommodos looked at Khalkeos, Tzimekhes and Kontarian in turn.

Endoxotatoi,” the Tagmatine monarch said, using the senatorial title given to high ministers. “I require you to form an inter-ministerial working group to look at possible sanctions to put against the Gharoi. And what goods and materials would seriously hurt their economy were Arhomaneia to place an embargo on them, as well as what sanctions against individuals in their government might make them pay attetion.”

Another silence fell across the room, although this one had an edge of surprise to it. It was undeniable that the relations between the two neighbours had been dropping like a stone over last year or so. Some had hoped that the death of Ji'Mar would mean the start of a more amenable and cooperative government would rule in Parthen. That didn't seem to have come to pass. Instead, whilst at occasionally presenting a more reasonable front than her half-brother, Kira'Karn seemed to be cast in an almost identical mould.

Tzimekhes, the minister of finance, shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He was a big, burly bear of a man. “Imperial sovereign, this would likely hurt us economically, too. The Gharoi remain one of our biggest trading partners, even with the fact that it's become unpopular to admit to trading with them. It'd certainly hurt us if we were to start embargoing them.”

The Agios Basileos raised an eyebrow slightly. It was perhaps the most expression anyone in the room had seen in years from the old tyrant. “Endoxotatos, that is precisely what you will be looking into.”

To a greater or lesser extent, most members of the Agios Basilikon Vestiarion had seen it coming. As the Gharoi tried to flex their muscles, they would undoubtedly come into conflict with Arhomaneia. Especially if they tried to control both entrances to the Adlantic from central Europa. At the moment, it seemed as if Machina Haruspex was trying to make the deficit in trade it had caused itself by being so egregious to the rest of the wurld by seizing resources from other countries. Its southern neighbour was one of the few that were still trading with it and cutting that line might bring the Haru to heel.

Kontarian thought that it was equally likely to spur the Exousiokrateia into rash action. If they seemed to want to fuel their economy by despoiling other countries, then they'd certainly be tempted to seize what they saw as their rightful trade from Arhomaneia. But then the strength of arms of the Arhomaioi had always held the Gharoi at bay. They would do so again, if need be.

“I believe that will be all for the moment, Endoxotatoi.” Ever formal, Kommodos looked over towards Goulielmos. “Megas Logothetes, I require you to compose a message to your Gharoiki opposite number. Remind them that we watching and that they have the opportunity to comport themselves as a civilised nation, not one that is not bound by the repercussions of its actions.”

The bespectacled minister nodded to his monarch, acknowledging the instruction given to him.

“Otherwise we shall have to see how the situation progresses,” continued Kommodos.

Abruptly, the Equal-to-the-Apostles stood and all of the ministers and officials got to their feet a well. They bowed to their monarch left the room, followed by his train of attendants, bodyguards and priests.

 

 


 

 

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To: The Offices of The Third Circle (Foreign Affairs Ministry) of the Exousiokrateia ton Gharon (@Haruspex)

From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion

Your excellency,

It appears that the Exousiokrateia ton Gharon has deployed a large naval force, which seems to have moved towards the island of Korinion, also known as Corinium. Whilst this does appear to have strategic merit, it likely could not come at a worse time for your nation's government – much of the wurld views the actions of Gharon with suspicion. Which is understandable, considering the recent spate of questionable acts, such as the forcible deportation of people from their homeland in Koussoeia. Or, from Arhomaneia's perspective, unannounced naval exercises in busy sea lanes.

Now, it is realised by the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion that the reply from your government might be along the lines of your nation wishing to keep to its own business and not wanting anyone to meddle its own affairs, or meddle in others' affairs, but this seems to fall somewhat flat when those same affairs are dumped at someone else's door. Or when an island far from one's nation's shores is seized. Nor can you expect a neighbour to standby as ethnic cleansing is being undertaken almost on their doorstep.

This is why, as a sign of my country's deep friendship and respect towards yours, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion recommends that Gharon draw back from its plans of seizing the island of Korinion. It would do the Exousiokrateia's international standing the wurld of good to start to build friendly relations with other countries. Cooperation with foreign powers in this matter would be a start, as would beginning trade relations with countries in the New Wurld. At the behest of Kommodos III, Agios Basileos kai Autokrator kai Isapostolos, this has been a key policy of Arhomaneia in recent years, and it cannot be doubted that the Megas Agios Basileia is more prosperous now that it has been for a century.

You will have noticed that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion has authorised the deployment of vessels to the Amnalos Thalassa and the Thalassa ton Kataigidon. This is not a threat to the naval activities of your nation but a sign that my nation wishes to make sure that your nation's actions do not become a threat to the interests of Arhomaneia. Again, as a sign of the friendship and admiration that Arhomaneia has for its northern neighbour, I would recommend that your anti-piracy actions involve those of other nations. Both my nation and the Regaseia tes Ghallamvreias (@Gallambria) , for example, have interests around the Amnalos Thalassa, as well as the naval assets nearby that could work with those of your nation. It would be a good start on strengthening Gharon's relations with other nations and demonstrate that the Gharoi is not some sort of rogue state at the edge of Europa.

I hope and pray that your honoured Exousiokratorissa takes inspiration from these words,

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion ton Barbaron

of the

Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion

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Chel'de Yorn
Imperial Ward
Council of the Nine Chambers

A recent diplomatic message from their ally to the south, at the behest of the the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion, had come through. The message was displayed upon the central monitor, and several individuals were present. Head of the Seventh Circle (ECC - Imperium Security Services), Ria Mel'Ana Velven, Prince Ajax Hur Elemmiire, head of The First Circle (Ministry of Foreign Trade Affairs), Duke Sias Hu'yan of The Third Circle (Foreign Affairs Ministry), and lastly, Senior Councilor, Advocate of the Emperor, now Empress, Baroness Kaorin Huat Jargo Vlos.

Ria for her part, was not keen on the acquirement of the island, and could see the reasoning behind the Tagmatine response. That it had taken so long, since they'd been under observation for some time in the North, was of small amusement however. She was the first to speak however. " We shouldn't discount their feelings on this matter. It is true, we as a nation do not have many willing to harbor our interests."

" We were requested to be there. The nationalists on the island came to us, they requested protectorate status. It is the failure of the Corinium ruling elite current that have not announced such to the other powers that be, that the northern cities wish not to be apart of the western rule." This brash response came from Duke Hu'yan of the Third Circle. His limp cigarette hung between lips as he continued. " We are responding to such, and via the First Circle's aid, long have we been supplying the nationalists with the ability to function without their southern counter-parts."

" Which is all well and good, but if the Tagmatine and the Seylosi have no idea of this, they will not listen to us about it." Kaorin leaned back within the chair she resided in. " What can be done is to work with the Tagmatine concern, no overt shows of force, allow the nationalists to publicly declare their wish to become a protectorate, and in terms of the island, we work with the Seylosi who have roots there as well apparently, to declare a boundary line between the two sides. This will prevent loss of trade to our allies, as they can still sail to the western ports if they wish, and any naval affairs in the area can thus be a joint effort to ease any concerns."

" Will the naval admiralty go along with this?" Ria spoke towards the other three. Of which the Duke replied. " I've been given assurances, that if we approach this rationally and with respect, that the admiralty and thus the navy shall abide by our decisions."

" Then it's settled." Kaorin spoke again. " Duke Hu'yan, the council authorizes you to reply to your equivalent within the Tagmatine government, and express what has been discussed here."

 

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To: The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion @Tagmatium Rules

From: The Offices of The Third Circle (Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Greetings and salutations,

To assuage issues of Corinium, of which we understandably draw some concerns, especially in light of events in the Northern campaign, the Council of the Nine has authorized this response.

The forces that have been deployed, under Vice-Admiral Tor'Van, are at the request of the nationalist party leaders of the island of Cornium. When the deliberations of the island parliament is concluded, it is our belief that a boundary line across the island's territory shall be drawn. 

This will cede the east to the Sovereign Imperium as a protectorate, and the west to the Seylosi concern, without raising the hackles of military alliances. Thus the flow of trade will not be hampered, it may in fact, increase. 

To this end, once such is put into place, the First Circle (Ministry of Foreign Trade Affairs), will agree to free trade in the protectorates port as well as the many ports of Perya and Ulusk. 

Concerning the Amnelos Sea, the Colonial naval forces will adopt an alert method should they be practicing in the area if it overlaps the other nations mentioned, but at this time, the nations of the New Wurld are not of a primary interest. So long as they leave the colony alone, so shall they be left to their own devices.

Sias Hu'yan

Duke, Senior Minister

of the

Third Circle (Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Edited by Haruspex
minor mistakes etc (see edit history)
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McCallister stood next to the police vehicles that had blocked off the road from the city of Corinium. In front of their small blockade northern police cars had taken a similar stance, their occupants wandering about the road apparently waiting for some sort of orders. The Commander glanced behind him, noticing a few other trucks pulling up to the stop, with several soldiers hopping out the back of them. One man in particular walked up and waved at McCallister who turned all the way around to face him as he approached. The man stopped in front of him and gave a brief salute.

"Major Donovan MacIomhair reporting from the Trapezon sir."

McCallister put out his hand for the Major, who took it and they shook, "It's good to see you Major, seems like this is as far north as we are going. Locals are starting to barricade the motorway and I have no doubt your Haru counterparts will be reinforcing them soon just the same."

Maclonhair nodded, "Seems to be this way all across the island sir. We've met up with the Tercios from the Iverican ship Notus and tried to make our best speed across the island. Llanium and Corinium are under allied control but we are having problems in Cunetio."

Cunetio was a small city to the west on the island which marked almost exactly the middle point north and south for the nation. Intelligence had of course been bare bones when coming in but from what they knew the city had harbored sympathies for both sides of the conflict. "What problems exactly?"

"By the time we got there the local police force had split into two sides were trying to block off portions of the city from each other. Us and the Haru got there about roughly the same time and the barriers stuck, the city is split in half north to south far as I can tell. City has a population of about twenty thousand people and it's safe to say they are quite upset."

"Well that... uh... really sucks," McCallister said with a grimace. He noticed Maclonhair give him a quizzical look, "Hey I wish I had some great words for this sort of moment, but let's be honest... it just sucks."

Maclonhair gave a sigh and waved the other marines that had come with him over, "Yeah, it sucks."

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

Captain Lennox had been dutifully sitting on the bridge during the extent of the entire crisis. The last transmission from the Haru seemed to indicate no further action though their ships still floated menacingly in the distance. The Trapezon continued to make its presence known by flying Harriers over the city every few hours, and the Iverican ship Notus had dropped off its complement of Tercios and laid anchor in the port. Lennox had decided to not engage the Haru ships in further communication as he was well sure that by this point it was in the diplomats hands and anything he could say would most likely only worsen a tenuous situation at best. He could hear outside the bridge the blades of the Ardent's helicopter as it made its landing on the back of the ship and around ten minutes later Minister Tatum arrived on the bridge, eliciting a salute from the Captain.

"Captain Lennox, it's good to meet you in person. I wanted to come over to the Ardent myself and see the ship which saved us a lot of problems." Tatum said, a smile on his face. "If you hadn't gotten here when you did we'd have probably lost the entire island."

"Thank you sir, the crew performed well above anyone's expectations. I suppose facing down an entire fleet by ourselves was a bit of a first for all of us."

Which it most certainly was. These weren't Sentists with no naval training and elderly ships. If one thing had gone wrong the Ardent could have been quickly sunk and Haru troops would have easily swarmed the island taking the entire thing. But it seemed luck, and diplomacy was on their side afterall.

"It's definitely a first for all of us Captain. We've received little in the way of communication from @Haruspex, but it seems like @Tagmatium Rules put some diplomatic pressure on them. They won't be pushing down anymore and seem content to take the north as their own 'protectorate'. The northern political parties seem have already setup their own government loyal to the Haru. There's not much else to do anymore than offer our support for the current government. To that end Ardent will remain here along with the HMS Granville for security. The marines will remain here until about two hundred regular army will be permanently deployed to Corinium"

"The Prime Minister is already having us establish a permanent presence?"

Tatum nodded, "Indeed he is. We said it was his choice, but he knew that the only way for their republic to stay independent is if we stay. I don't envy his position right now. But both sides of the island are rich in resources and we've made sure to soften the blow with offers of economic assistance, growth, and on and on. But nobody's ideal ending for this was splitting a whole people in half, hell we are already seeing fences put up in the north. We've got seventy thousand people on our side, hopefully we can do them some good. And on a side note, a strategic presence in this area is invaluable, if we weren't here the Haru could threaten mainland Argis, and you and me know that will never be acceptable."

"I'm sure we can help them here sir. As you said before, there's nothing left for any of us to do."

 

 

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      Those were the thoughts going through the head of a warmly wrapped little old lady as she sat at a cafe table and took sips of a cup of tea whilst looking out over the harbour of Gournaion. The cafe had cast iron furniture arrayed around tables and segregated from the street by low planters with hardy plants, although most of them had died over the winter. A heavyset stheneloser dog lay curled at her feet, its thick black and white fur proof against the cold of the northern islands. There were still boats in the harbour, although most of them were out to sea, trying to catch up with the season's fishing. She had just come from a morning service at the Panagia Theotokos, the cathedral of the Hexanisa. A savoury pastry lay untouched on a plate in front of her. Several newspapers were spread across the table, some from the Hexanisa, some from Tagmatium and even one from @Orioni. It was the old lady's habit to look through the headlines in the morning after church before she pottered back to her house. The headlines, at least of the Tagmatine ones, were mainly about the Megas Agios Basileia's involvement in Ceris – two carrier groups and a corps were now in action there, with suggestions that more might follow on. She shook her head. It was unlikely that “Arhomaneia” was involving itself there for the benefit of the Cerisers, although no one could deny that the Sentists were a plague that wouldn't go away of its own accord. The Orinese paper was at least more hopeful, although it focussed on the ongoing EOS mission in the Bainbridge Islands.
      The papers were full of just more examples of the powers of the wurld bullying the smaller nations. Although the Orinese were much less... conservative, blunt and chauvinistic than the Tagmatines, they were perhaps a bit more hypocritical. They tended to frame all of their actions as good for the people they were subjecting them to, even if it was entirely against their will. The intervention in the Bainbridge Islands had been going on much longer than any operation the Tagmatine armed forces had undertaken in decades. Under the aegis of EOS, the Orinese were bringing peace and stability to the south of Europa, whether it was wanted or not. After a moment looking out to sea again, she broke off a corner of the pastry and crumbled it up further. She then tossed the crumbs to a wagtail that was scavenging around the tables of the cafe but keeping a wary distance from the stheneloser. Another joined it and the two birds bickered for a moment amongst the table legs before seemingly deciding that the amount of crumbs was enough for the pair of them. She watched the small birds briefly before sighing to herself and pouring more tea from the pot into her cup.
      A passerby called a greeting and waved at the old lady. The wagtails, always timid, scattered and chittered their outrage at being forced away from their crumbs. The stheneloser raised its heavy head and watched the passerby and the old lady's reaction to them, its eyes darting between the two. When she waved back, it put its muzzle back on its paws, content that there was no threat there and closed its eyes. She reached down and scratched it behind its ears and broke off another bit of the pastry. The dog put its head up again and gave a begging look. The old lady smiled at the big dog and gave it the rest of the pastry, saving a corner for herself. It chewed messily for a moment and nosed up the crumbs that it had dropped. She ate the corner she had broken off and sipped the cup of tea.
      Of course, to the locals it wasn't just an old woman – it was Evangela Leotykhidissa, the Megas Kritissa, the Great Judge, of the Kritakrateia of the Hexanisa. A small bodyguard called the Skouterioi lurked nearby, attempting to make themselves unobtrusive but also trying to be a visible barrier between her and any possible threat. Unlike the bodyguards of the islands' western neighbour, they weren't in ostentatious armour and robes but coats and suits. It was clear that they were still bodyguards, as the tailoring of their suits couldn't quite hide the presence of holstered pistols. The Skouterioi had always made it clear that they weren't happy with the fact their head of government was content to sit in public and let the islanders greet her as they walked by. Although the islands weren't rich, they were strategic. The Arhomaiki Noimosyni Dykton was an ever-present threat, as were the secret services of the Exousiokrateia or the Volskoi. Any of them might try to engineer a takeover of the islands or assassinate the Megas Kritissa. They would likely then try to take advantage of either the islands' position or the possibility of mineral or oil wealth possessed by them. The Gharoiki have been carrying out “hydrocarbon mining” in the areas of the Thalassa ton Kataigidon under their control. It seemed to be a pompous way of saying “oil and gas extraction” and it couldn't be doubted that the Hexanisa were being eyed up by the northern barbarians.
      Evangela took another sip of tea. The Megas Kritissa had been voted into the position in 2016 as a reaction against the regime of Kommodos Iakoumos, as she had been in the election six years before that. The old woman was one of the few of the Lipotakai, the Deserters, still actively involved in the politics of the Hexanisa. She had been repeatedly elected because she was seen as taking a hard line with Tagmatika. There was still an arrest warrant out for her in the Megas Agios Basileia, even though it had been over sixty years since the events at the end of the Long War which had caused the Hexanisa to break away from Arhomaneia. It looked like the relationship between the islands and the mainland were warming up in the reign of Theodosios VI but his death at the hands of an assassin and the civil war that followed had halted that.
      At the time, some of the other Kritai had considered throwing in their support behind the cabal of naval and army officers attempting to revive the Navarkhokrateia but that scheme had been stopped by the then Megas Krites, Ioannes Hegesinos. It just would have meant a vengeful Kommodos landing forces on the islands and bringing them to heel by force. Some of the defeated rebels had tried to flee to the islands in the aftermath of the civil war but they had been turned away, most of those disappearing further east or south. There were rumours that the new regime in Tagmatika had shot dozens, if not hundreds, of rebellious officers. Handing over any refugees would have been as bad as murder even if it would have meant that Tagmatika might have warmed up to the Hexanisa.
      The pot of tea was empty and Leotykhidissa stood to her feet, using the arms of her chair to help her get there. One of the Skouterioi stepped forward to take her arm but the old woman waved him off. The big dog stood up and followed the old lady at her heels as she started on the walk towards her official residence. It wasn't too far away from the harbour and the cafe. Gournaion was not a bustling metropolis by the standards of most nations, even New Wurld ones, but it was the largest city of the Hexanisa. The other people walking the streets knew the Megas Kritissa by sight and waved at her as she passed. Many other heads of state would use a car to get around but the size of the capital meant it was unnecessary and Leotykhidissa also loved to see the city. It meant that the old lady felt like she was more in touch with the ordinary people of her country than others in her position might be. And she could see the effects of the policies that she enacted or the repercussions of wurld events.
      In recent years, the numbers of boarded up shops were more noticeable than ever before. As she walked through the cobbled streets of the port, it was obvious where the road surface had become worn or damaged and been replaced with cheaper tarmac. The Great Europan Collapse had not impacted the islands as badly as others – the government hadn't fallen apart due to economic ruin like in many other countries but the primary industries of fishing and logging had taken a hit. The tourist trade had been nascent but starting to bear fruit, with southerners coming to see the relatively unspoilt landscapes, although others came to see the remains of the battlefields of the Long War. Those were mainly Tagmatioi and their money was as good as anyone else's, even if the Hexanisoi didn't like their government. However, that had dried up and the tourist board of the Kritakrateia just didn't have the money or the pull to try to attract more people to the islands. Foreign faces were now entirely uncommon on the islands.
      The Megas Kritissa got to the official residence of the head of the islands. It was no towering edifice but a low villa, almost in the classical style, if not for the modifications made to the architecture to take into account the frigid winters. A pair of guards in the dress uniform of the Taxiotai, the island's paramilitary police, stood either side of the door. Their faces were slightly reddened from the cold and their breath clouded in the early morning air. Leotykhidissa would make sure that the guards changed over a bit earlier than scheduled to get them out of the cold. The big dog walked up to the nearest and sniffed at the gendarme's boots.
      “Arkadios, come.”
      The dog stopped sniffing about immediately and trotted after the old woman and into the building. It was a comfortable enough building, if slightly more grand than many others in the city. It was the old seat of the Exarkhos, the governor, of the Hexanisa, back before the Long War had dashed that all to the winds. It was, imaginatively, known as the Palati tou Exarkhou, the Palace of the Exarkhos, although “palace” was far too grand a name. Arkadios' nails clicked on the tiles in the hall. The vestibule was cold and a draught blew through it, even with the front doors now closed by the Taxiotai on guard. The only real nod to being in the building was when an aide stepped forward to take the Megas Kritissa's coat and held out a warm indoor robe. Waving the aide away with a gesture, Leotykhidissa took off her coat and changed into the offered robe.
      “A cup of tea to warm you up?” the man asked. He was almost as old as Leotykhidissa and had the air of a trusted retainer about him.
      “Yes, thank you,” replied the Megas Kritissa, giving him a thin smile that still managed to be warm. “Can you take it through to the study? There are some papers I wish to go through before I get anything else done today.”
      “Of course,” he sketched a quick bow and stopped to give Arkadios a pat on the head before he did so. “Anything for this boy?”
      “No, he's had a pastry already this morning,” Evangela said, looking down at the big dog, who was in turn looking up hopefully at the aide with big eyes. He was trying to suggest that he'd not been fed at all today, despite what was being said. “He sat patiently outside, waiting for the service to finish. He's been a good boy.”
      Arkadios' tail wagged at the words.
      “I will bring the tea through when it is ready, Megas Kritissa,” said the aide, finally stopping rubbing the fur on top of the stheneloser's head and walking down the hall. “The heating's on, so the study should be nice and warm.”
      “Thank you, Leontios,” the old lady said and walked further into the residence.
      One of the main changes from the traditionally designed Arhomaiki home was that the study wasn't in a commanding place in the building, open to both ends to allow a good view throughout. Instead, in a nod to the cold weather, the room abutted the kitchen, to allow it to take warmth in from the ovens in the walls. That, along with the underfloor heating, made it one of the most snug rooms in the depths of winter. For an elderly person, it made it very liveable. Arkadios padded into the room and went straight over to the dog bed that lay in between the desk and the door and curled up in it. His eyes were on the Megas Kritissa as she pulled out the chair behind the desk and took out a pad of paper. She looked ahead almost blankly for a moment before taking a fountain pen from the mug of pens on the desk and started writing. It took a long time for the words to start properly coming and the cup of tea that Leontios placed on the desk was stone cold before she took notice of it. Eventually, the big dog had started to fidget and whine slightly, making it known that he needed to go out to go to the loo before Leotykhidissa finally stopped her fitful writing and looked down at the words on the page.
      She sighed and made the sign of the cross in the Aroman fashion – thumb, index and middle finger together, going from right to left – before sitting back in the chair. Of course, as she herself was not a despot, Leotykhidissa would put it before the other five Kritai to see what they would think. Personally, it seemed to be the only way to guarantee the fate of the Hexanisa but she had no idea whether it was the right choice. She was just tired of seeing her beloved nation rot and its people suffer like they had been doing for the last few decades.
      Her status as a Lipotakissa and her stance on Arhomaneia meant that she would probably be the only person who could propose a reunion with the Megas Agios Basileia without it being immediately shouted down and the proposer being arrested for high treason. It was certainly shocking, even to Leotykhidissa, but perhaps it was time for her country to come in from the cold.
       
       
      OOC: It's time to get the ball rolling on the first part mentioned here.
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