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Great Alharun War


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  • 5 weeks later...

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The rushing of the water in the distance was their only anchor to reality. The continuous faint white noise from the Phaqcha waterfall (or as his peers called it, Pāqča) told them they were just under two kilometres away from camp. The rushing water and their failing compasses were their only way to navigate in the dense undergrowth. Akllasisa wondered how his distant cousins of the Palāzača could even survive in this malarial hellscape. And yet, here they were, taking cover in the ruins of a great cobbled fortress built into a small hill – a dimple on the great slopes of South Palu. It was hard to gauge what the time was, the sun blocked by the canopy above leaving the Calpōlli[1] in twilight darkness. Thankfully the Calpōleɥkeλ possessed a pre-mandate Seylosian watch, able to tell the time to the minute! 

“Four forty past noon.” The Calpōleɥkeλ announced to his men in a raised whisper. “Rain has subsided for three hours, Fearannteth movement is likely to occur soon.” In the far distance, the fierce rumbling of an approaching storm echoed, the roar punctuated by the whining and shouting of the gibbons above and around them – warning one another of the approaching thunder. “Be ready.”
The Calpōlli nodded in near-unison, Akllasisa at the far back almost around the corner of the ruined fortress barely able to hear him but nodded nonetheless. It had been almost a week since he last saw combat, about a kilometre back from his position. He estimated he’s probably moved twenty, maybe thirty, kilometres forward since he first began half a year ago. He’d heard of the trench warfare north up in Argis several decades ago, and he thought, maybe this is what it was like. Feeling like you could never move in fear of inhumane traps or ambushes on both sides, and every step you took you felt like your Calpōlli was cut in half.

 

“We move in.” The Calpōleɥkeλ ordered, Akllasisa flinching as he was snapped by to reality. Slowly the group of twenty or so men shuffled as quietly as they could around the fortress towards one of the many large openings. The thunder continued to strike, louder and angrier. He was the last to enter. The roofless structure, despite its age and decay, still loomed around them. The Calpōleɥkeλ and the Tiačcawān were ordering men to different parts of the fortress, several going into the basement below, others to inspect the walls, and others still going up the rock stairs towards the tops of the wall. Soon only Akllasisa and three others were the only ones left not assigned a duty, the Tiačcawān making his way towards them, slipping around several overgrown plants that were strewn across the eroded and distorted floor.
“To arms, men.” The Tiačcawān commanded, the four men lifting up their Rifles and placing them at their side. The rifle’s stock was made of a light grey Popoaλi wood and the rifle as a whole 44 inches in length. “Scout forward half a kilometre eastward, remain low, if you come across Fearannteth soldiers return immediately. If you do not return within an hour you will be considered missing in action. Understood?”
“Yes sir.” The four men stated, keeping their bodies rigid and maintaining eye contact.
“You will leave in five minutes.” The Tiačcawān concluded, walking away from the four men who all simultaneously dropped their raised shoulders and straight backs. The man beside Akllasisa let out a long sigh, the other cracking his neck and shoulders.
“Of course its me being sent forward, can never catch a break.” The fourth man muttered, thumping his rifle on the ground besides him.
“It’s just an hour expedition.” The sighing soldier argued, the fourth man rolling his eyes
“And we were told this war would be just a month. And here we are half a year into a conflict.”
Akllasisa left his bickering peers to make his way towards the main ‘entrance’ of the fortress, the arch that once announced its existence had crumbled centuries ago leaving only a pile of rock at the front. The three others soon scampered towards Akllasisa, slotting their rifles into large leather and cloth sheaths on their backs.
“Whoa whoa, we don’t have to leave him. We have five minutes.” The fourth man remarked. “Let’s at least rest.”
“I’d rather have sixty five minutes for this expedition than sixty.” The third man acknowledged, after finishing cracking his joints, patting Akllasisa on the back a bit too hard once he caught up to Akllasisa. “The name’s Itotia. Can’t wait to fall into a spiked pit with you.” The cracking joint man joked, walking further ahead than Akllasisa by several meters. He and the other two slowly fell silent as they reached Itotia, the four men stared off into the darkness of the rainforest. Akllasisa took one final glance towards the fortress, to his peers and comrades staring off towards them, before finally taking the plunge into the depths of the maw of Popoloco. More fodder to feed the Fearannteth-South Paluvian War.

 

[1] Calpōlli (military), not to be mistaken with the Calpōlli (subdivision), a Calpōlli are the smallest divisions of the South Paluvian and Metztlican armies of 5-30 infantry. Most Calpōlli tend to have two leaders. The Calpōleɥkeλ as first in command, and the Tiačcawān as second in command, to be the leader if the Calpōleɥkeλ is killed or captured.

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

February 28th, 1947

Kingdom of Huachuan, 850km South of Bogd Gioro

15km Behind the Front Lines of Occupied New Salvis

marchingcolumn.jpg"Liu Weiwu! Liu Weiwu!"

The young political commissar jerked back to awareness; he had been staring at his shoes, shading his brow from the hot Alharun sun. The whole 1st battalion of the 23rd Laocao Rifles was marching in column toward the town of Luqiao, where they hoped to join with General Guo and the rest of the First Corps.

"Coming, Comrade Colonel!" 

Weiwu was grateful he only wore a pistol on a lanyard as he hustled to the front of the column.  Unfortunately for the rest of the troops in his company, they were carrying old, heavy rifles that hadn't seen parts replaced in 20 years. He jogged up to his commander Ai Gui, at the head of the formation, and saluted. The old man returned the gesture and pulled him aside with an arm around the shoulder. The two fell out of step with the column, walking a few meters off to the side.

"What is your report, Lieutenant?"

"The men are not very highly motivated, sir. They complain of poor rations, bad water, parasites, and a thousand other problems. Their gear is in poor repair, and replacement clothing is very scarce. Even when they are in town, the King of Huachuan's rationing drives most of our men to the black market for what they need. It is an unfavorable situation."

Colonel Ai took tobacco and paper from his uniform's breast pocket, rolling a cigarette on his hard, weathered palm. Weiwu reached into his own pocket and pulled out a packet of Party machine-rolled cigarettes, striking a match to light one.

"Tell me something I don't know, Lieutenant Liu. We're all suffering together. I haven't had a solid sh*t in weeks. Is this battalion prepared to fight the Salvians? That's the question that needs to get answered. And if you can't find an answer for me, Lt. Weiwu, I'll have the First Corps Party Secretary send you back to Bogd Gioro and get somebody who can."

As usual, just as the young officer was beginning to savor the taste of his kretek, something came along to spoil his day. In this case, it was a bursting artillery shell, which exploded 40 meters in front of him. With an ear-ringing bang, the shell showered the rice fields with shrapnel and clods of eurth; most of the column scattered into the fields off the road as the rest of the shells began to fall. Men's shouts and the sound of gunshots filled the dusty air as they scrambled for cover. Weiwu grabbed the colonel by the collar and threw them both prone to the ground, grabbing his pistol with his right hand.

"Lieutenant, get back to your company and dig in! Sergeant Gong, get on the headset and tell Major General Wang we need air support!

"Yes sir!"

Weiwu first bear crawled, then crouched, and finally sprinted back the 20 meters to his company. Captain Liao, the de jure leader of the company, was waiting for him. The brown-bearded Huang man gestured with his left hand as he cocked his rifle's lever action with the other.

"Take Pan and the rest of his platoon to the berm at the edge of that field on my left. Get those machine guns throwing some fire downrange, but don't waste all of your ammunition; we're probably going to be facing an infantry attack once the shelling stops. Get the anti-tank explosive pack off of the mule, and give it to Sergeant Pan. He knows what to do with it. The rest of the platoon, stagger 'em along that berm, dig in first. Move!"

 

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  • 1 month later...

Liu Weiwu shaded his eyes with his hand as the aircraft cannon shells struck home amongst the artillery positions on top of the ridge. A cheer went up from the men as the Anatean pilots finished their attack run, giving a wing-waggle as a farewell before pealing off into the blue sky again. Captain Liao, who had not even deigned to duck from the oncoming fire, waited for only a moment before his tanned arm and gravelly voice once again began to issue orders.

"Shang qilai! Shang qilai! Pan and Liu, get up that slope and clear those dugouts! Don't give 'em time to regroup!"

Once he had made certain that his subordinates had heard him, he took the whistle around his neck and sounded a long piercing note, swinging his arm forward in a chop.

"Company, advance!"

Most of the company had gone to ground in or around the flooded rice paddy, and the men rose dripping with muddy water from the Eurth to give a shaky cry of "Sha!" and begin the advance. Liu Weiwu, his fingers tight around the uncomfortable stamped-metal grip of his pistol, took his position along the company's left flank, opposite Captain Liao on the right. As the other company commanders of the 1st Battalion gathered the initiative, the entire line, previously thrown into disarray by the sudden attack, began to take shape as it marched quickly up the ridge in a wavy formation. As the left wing of the sweeping advance, Liu's company was the first over the ridge.

"Keep at least three meters between you, men, don't clump up!"

Liu took a stick grenade from his belt pouch and gave a tug on the priming cap, lobbing the explosive over a wall of sandbags, where it detonated with a great cloud of dust. This first line of Salvian artillery positions appeared to be abandoned. Beyond the first row of dugouts, Commissar Liu could see scattered groups of crewmen running for cover, many of them being cut down by Fulgistani rifle fire. It appeared that the sudden arrival of air support, coupled with the initiative of the ground forces, had significantly stymied any preparations for a Salvian massed attack. 

"Lieutenant Liu, look out!"

"Na'er ne? What are you talking a-"

Liu managed to catch a good look at the driver of the observer half-track before it ran him down; he was a young man, his brow dripping with sweat and teeth clenched in a rictus grip like that of a dead man walking. His forage cap was askew on a tan face, and his brown hair, overgrown at the sides, was likewise in disarray. It was as if time were standing still in that moment; the  terrified expression of the Salvian non-com in the driver's seat was etched into Liu's mind as the half-track careened over the artillery embankment and into his body, throwing him down as the machine's wheels and tracks threw up gravel and debris around him. As he lay dazed, but very much alive, he could hear the shots ringing out, the half-track shuddering to a halt as its driver bled out, and the calls of his men.

"Corpsman! Get a stretcher over here! Comrade Liu's been wounded!"

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Prologue
Protiva, Centavo in the Republic of Cashar
January 20, 1947

News of the conflict between Seylos and Fulgistan had spread to western Alharu and to the small, frequently corrupt government of the Republic of Cashar. Notably, members of the Board and Bureau had taken the stance that Seylos' cause was just and necessary. Communist Fulgistan, after all, was a struggling country doomed to failure and ruin unless immediate intervention occurred. Only the introduction of capitalism to the poor and, frankly, desperate Fulgistanis could save them from themselves. This was the first official reasoning behind getting involved in the conflict. And while some Cashari quickly got on board with the idea of saving Fulgistan from communism, especially the Cashari poor who had heard deplorable things about the living conditions in Fulgistan ("I couldn't live like a Fulgistani that's for sure," or telling their children, "Eat that up. Don't you know there are kids starving in Fulgistan?" or "Don't you dare skip work today. Kids in Fulgistan wish they had a job like yours!"), others required more incentive.

Why should they care if Fulgistan tumbles to economic ruin? Wouldn't that be better for them in the long run? Would it even really matter? They're on the other side of the continent! Needless to say, the idea of providing charity in the form of introducing a country to capitalism left a bad taste in the mouths of the Cashari people. What didn't leave a bad taste was the potential for upward social mobility through a career in the military or through the Lavishavisk Ordinance Company making weapons for the war effort. Additionally, the Board and Bureau wrote out a public commission allowing the capture of ships or cargo of ships on the high seas of the Adisi Ocean, the Sea of Peace, the Whanganui Sea, Turtle Sea, and Qingming Sea unless such ships are belonging to Seylos or current allies. 

Advertisements in television and in the papers were not quite so formal as the public commission itself.
 

"GET RICH ON THE HIGH SEAS!"
"EARN A LUCRATIVE LIVING AS AN OFFICIALLY CONDONED PIRATE!"

"A SEA OF TREASURE AWAITS!"

 

privateercaptain2.JPG
Privateer Captain Bartom Arketvo of the $.$. Didon
South the Tip of Aurelia
February 21st, 1947

 

The auxiliary cruiser, the $.$. Didon, had been a merchant ship turned battleship turned merchant ship turned armed merchant ship. It had been passed down to Bartom Arketvo from his eccentric rich grandmother, an heiress herself, who spoiled him rotten. Of course, Bartom himself did not think he was spoiled in the slightest. In fact, he considered himself very deserving. Most of the men, women, bigender, and nonbinary, would've disagreed with that statement, but at the very least, they couldn't say he was content with resting on his laurels and spending his riches when there were more riches to be had. And wasn't that just the Cashari way?

Captain Bartom Arketvo breathed into his hands and shivered. He had in no way prepared himself for the cold in the waters near Antargis. He was still wearing loose, flowing garments designed specifically for the climate of the Cashari Desert. It provided little warmth to him as he tried to huddle up in his clothes. 

"Why in gold's name is it colder than my ex-wife's shoulder down here?"

His first mate, Farla Mintokvol, raised their eyebrow at him. "You had a wife? Was she enamored with charity?"

Bartom shot a glare at Farla. "Hey! As a matter of fact, I was the charitable one."

"Right," Farla said, slowly, skeptical. "Anyway, it shouldn't be too long now. The Adisi Ocean is much warmer."

Bartom frowned. "Yeah? Let's go over the map one more time. I don't want to miss any opportunities!"

He gave a dramatic flourish of his hand, then began the move below deck where it would be warmer. 

privateercaptain1.JPG
Privateer Captain Dekta Partonviska of the $.$. Advantage
Near the Southern Tip of Aurelia
February 21st, 1947


Captain Dekta Partonviska had, in fact, prepared for the colder weather because unlike the captain of the ship ahead of her, Dekta wasn't an idiot. Wrapped comfortably in a blue, silver, and black camel's wool cloak with decorative motifs involving her family name, the name of her ship and a brooch that had been in family for generations, and the names of three companies she had worked for including the Lavishavisk Ordinance Company - she overlooked documents about their provisions, weaponry, and the crew. She had worked three jobs just to afford the run-down merchant's ship, and she'd had to accrue debt in order to fix it up and to outfit it with arms. Most of her crew consisted of friends, co-workers, and her cousins (of which she had many). She took in a deep breath and shook her head.

"I'm nervous," she admitted aloud.

"Me too. I've never shot anyone before," Mikda, her second cousin on her mother's side and first mate, said.

"It'll be fine. Just follow Rajor's lead. He's had plenty of practice when he was smuggling drugs across the Paran Desert," Dekta said, trying to smile. She wasn't entirely convinced her third cousin was that capable.

"So he says. Rajor lies a lot, you know," Mikda told her.

Dekta sighed and rubbed her temples. "Well, Selda hunts."

"Hunting wild animals is different," Mikda pointed out.

"You really aren't helping, you know that?" Dekta said, shaking her head. "Look, we can't turn back now. We've come too far. We have to make this work. We just have to. I can't go back empty-handed; the debt will drown me."

Mikda put a hand on Dekta's shoulder. "I'm with you, dear cousin. Well, I mean, I can't turn back, either, if you don't turn back. But regardless, I'm with you. Share an Actus Drink with me?"

"Sure, yes."

 

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  • 1 month later...

Over the past several years, The Mandate had pushed to transform Seylosian society. Though of course the task at times felt almost insurmountable, as the Royalists plagued Mandate ships on the open seas, and many of the people still longed for their exiled king. Still progression of Bradford Ness's plans had been pushed forward, some would say with reckless abandon. Only a few years after the King was forced to flee, Eire, Pleinmont, and Sark submitted to rule from Seylos. It had robbed him on a early chance to test his new armed forces with such an easy capitulation, but it had given more time for the Mandate to prepare. In 1942, the Mandate Navy set sail to Galahinda and demanded full annexation. With their refusal, the new Mandate forces quickly landed on the island, shattering the early small resistance from what little Galahinda had in the way for self defense.

Still however it wasn't the test Ness wanted.

That's when his eyes turned to the Hodrean Kingdom. It had control of the majority of Ceris, and under its control millions of potential workers to expand the Mandate's industrial base. In the winter of 1945, Seylosian tanks quickly crossed the straights to Ceris, seizing control of the small states that bordered Hodrea as a base of operations. Quickly the borders became tense, and at the start of 1946, the Mandate Army smashed through the Hodrean lines in the east. Easy victory seemed all but certain until, to his unending frustration, they became stuck, fighting a grinding war of attrition against the Cerisers. Seylosian technology versus Ceriser manpower, one that Seylos couldn't hold onto for long.

Ness was sat in his office, alone, pouring over every new report coming in. Industrial shortfalls, major victories undercut by a series of losses, discontent in the ranks, protests in the streets. He knew if he didn't begin achieving victory in Ceris, the people might end his reign in short order. And so he had arranged for an upcoming officer, one who seemed highly unpopular amongst his peers, to come for a visit.

The door to his office opened and in stepped an officer, a man in his thirties of slim and tall build. He stood at attention as the door was shut behind him. Ness gestured toward the chair on the other side of his desk, "Brigadier Ward, at ease. Please take a seat."

Ward nodded and took a seat in the chair, still quite rigid in his demeanor,"Brigadier Layne Ward reporting as ordered sir."

"Brigadier, I'll be blunt,  you're quite the unpopular character amongst the rest of the general staff. Tell me, why did you stay in Seylos." Ness asked, leaning back in his chair.

"Seylos is here sir, not in Gallambria." Ward replied bluntly.

"You haven't become a member of the Mandate Party, like the rest of the staff. Where do your loyalties lie then, Brigadier?"

Ward stared at Ness coldly, "My loyalties are to Seylos, sir."

"Not the Mandate, or the former King?"

"To Seylos sir," Ward replied, the look on his face suggesting he did not want to be asked the question again.

Ness stood up, wandering around his desk to a massive map that had been pinned up on his wall, it showed both Seylos and Ceris on it. He looked at at while talking to Ward, "I see then. Why do you think your peers dislike you so much?"

"I'm not a party member, I'm not ruthless towards the Cerisers, and I'm better than them."

Ness glanced back at Ward and gave a chuckle, "Yes they can be quite the ruthless sort. Many of them are more radical than me... people always to keep a watch on. But from your performance it seems you are quite right. Strings of victories and almost no defeats. When General Langston was wounded and you took temporary command of the First Army during the spring counterattack you managed to save the entire campaign from collapse."

"Exactly what am I here for sir?"

"You're here, because I intend on giving you permanent command of the First Army in Ceris. There are no superior cultures, only superior nations," Ness said, quoting his own words to the Brigadier. "I will ensure that the rest of the general staff will see that truth, regardless of their agreement. Their destructive personalities will not cause any further issues for your campaign. But in return, General, I require... Seylos needs victory in Ceris. The preparations for our campaign in Alharu cannot be halted. What do you say to this?"

General Ward looked up at Ness, no emotions betraying him on his face, "Then Seylos will have Ceris."

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  • 2 months later...

Prelude to War: Part 1

 

Passages from the diary of a disgruntled landowner in the southern Salvian village of Rovino.

3 April 1937

Another family from the vineyards has come to me, talking of poor yields, hungry children, and less money than years before. That makes the fourth from the vineyards, on top of the three from the grain fields and the one that was not even on my land, but from Dimana's vineyard, God rest his soul. I told them I will do as much as I could to ensure they do not starve and invited them to take some food from our own pantry. I fear much of the south is on the verge of starvation, yet the government has been slow to act. Yesterday I visited the municipal building in town to acquire some form of aid for these families and received nothing. I have already cut my own expenses as much as possible to pay the laborers, but both the grape and grain yields are just too low to compensate. I worry some may not make it to the end of this year.

15 April 1937

The first death has occured, something I’ve feared since last December. Tomas, the Esic’s youngest, was a sickly little boy, and in all likelihood would not have lived long anyways, but I believe the death was still premature and caused by a lack of nutrition. I did not see him often - he stayed in the house constantly - but from my visits I knew he was quite interested in astronomy and excelled in mathematics. I had even gifted him a book on major constellations and the Marenai legends behind them, which, according to his father, he cherished dearly, and read every night. I took the time to visit their home, even greeting the grandmother who could not speak Salvian. From my understanding, she had come from Subic, in Iverica, and was too busy in the fields to learn the language. I gave my condolences, promised to pay for the funeral, and left. I visited the municipal building to report the death and once more asked for aid. Again, I was turned down. While in town I also heard news that most of the major cities were engulfed in protests and strikes. Trinity, Minotia, St. Mark’s, even Deopolia [Deopolis] are practically shut down. It does not seem the administration will last past this election, with Autimo gaining more and more support. It’s hard to support the current government, but Autimo still worries me, with some of his talk.

29 April 1937

The polling stations in town opened today, and so I went, still unsure of who to vote for. I ended up casting my vote for Autimo. I don’t care if I can’t vote in 5 years (something which his detractors claim will happen with as much certainty as they claim the sun will rise the next morning), as long as I have bread on my table and those that work for me. I’ve chatted with many of those in the area, and they’ve agreed - worker and landowner, Salvian and Marenai, doesn’t seem to matter who, they all voted Autimo. I just pray for God to bless Salvia once more.

[…]

30 October 1937

Since Autimo’s been in office things have already improved. Trips to the municipal building are no longer in vain - we receive aid and they continue to promise more. They’ve even sent scientists and the like to investigate why the harvests in the spring were poor and to test some effective remedies. During the summer, the olive harvest was more fruitful, although still poor, and so far the grain harvest has been better than both. It seems like everything’s doing better now; news from the city is almost entirely positive, everybody seems to be getting good work for good pay. Autimo’s also been accelerating that whole unification deal with Alvernia, which prior administrations dragged their feet on for more than a decade.


*                *                *
 

Excerpt from historian Marcus Samani’s 2008 book, The Great Alharun War: the Salvian Home Front, 1940-1953. In this passage, he discusses Alvernia’s temporary unification with Salvia in the 40s and 50s and their common enemies.

[Tehako Demarena’s] election in 1940 to the Alvernian presidency was the final step towards the temporary unification between the Divine Republic and Alvernia. The two nations, rivals for most of the 19th century, found a new enemy in their neighbor of Gallambria, which grew in power and influence swiftly following its establishment in the late 1800s. In a matter of decades, the Salvians and Marenai of their respective nations started to look past their regional differences and recognize their (for the most part) shared history, heritage, and culture. Popular support for unification was overwhelming in both nations by the 1920s, resulting in politicians taking steps to make this popular dream a reality. Laws were passed throughout the 30s that brought the two together economically, politically, and socially, and while both nations experienced economic difficulties in the mid-30s, the election of Salvian president Mikaere Autimo accelerated the unification process and brought Salvia and subsequently Alvernia out of this recession and into rapid economic growth  […] Alvernia adopted the economic policies of Salvia, Salvian judges presided over Alvernian courts, Alvernian manufacturers supplied the military and civilian sectors of Salvia […] 

Some Alvernians, seeing themselves as the “losers” of this process, offered some resistance to this process, culminating in the 1940 election. Demarena’s rival, Jomaro Osoncia, ran almost entirely on a platform of Alvernian autonomy, and for a moment it seemed as if the Alvernian populace was regretting its decisions. But Demarena clenched the popular vote by a solid 5%, and the Alvernian legislature, with Demarena’s signature, officially united with the Divine Republic of Salvia just two months after his election. Autimo integrated much of the Alvernian cabinet, including Demarena, into positions of power within the Republic’s government […]

With unification officially complete, Salvia could finally focus on the external matters that drove Salvian unification. The Anglish Gallambrians lay to the north, threatening to assimilate Marenai and Salvian alike into their inferior culture with their position as the tenuous number one power in Marenesia. Communists, socialists, and other leftists in Alharu and on the Palu threatened any remaining colonial positions and pride the Divine Republic held. An idea first developed in the late 30s under Autimo fermented in the minds of the Republic’s people, that in order to attain the security of the Salvian and Marenai people, direct conflict with any ideological and political enemy was necessary. With this in mind, the military buildup of the Divine Republic, already underway since Autimo’s first term, ramped up to an unprecedented degree.

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