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This land is my land


Rhodellia

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

An email to Fernando Batón-Baqal, SVP, Relationship Management, of the Indiense Free Companies LLC, from the Rhodellian Department of Defence

@Iverica

Dear Mr. Batón-Baqal

The Rhodellian Department of Defence wishes to hire the services of Indiense Free Companies LLC. 

The DOD’s proposal is for the IFC LLC to assist the Rhodellian Armed Forces in conducting counter-insurgency operations against the Native Aurelian separatist movement in Nordwalde Province, Rhodellia. Based on the IFC LLC’s documented and laudable pragmatism, performance, experience in Vasqqa and Afropa, the DOD has assessed that IFC contractors would be valuable partners.

Rhodellia’s Native Aurelian separatist movement consists of various paramilitary groups. Their fighters are well-trained, heavily-armed, and battle-hardened warriors with a fierce centuries-old tradition of resisting Rhodellian central authority. Many of them also receive substantial aid from the Native Aurelian Liberation Army. They will surely be worthy and worthwhile opponents. 

Should you have any questions about this offer, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards, Ekhardt Krieger, Department of Defence.

Edited by Rhodellia (see edit history)
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OOC: okay, i'm not afraid to admit it, I have a fetish for letter formats. As a side note, the whole conference thing will just be so that the DoD can meet the executives and some of the team leaders. It will also be for agreeing to terms for a contract that will be drafted and then sent to the DoD for signing. I don't think the conference and all the other corporate song and dance is needed as the particulars can be agreed on OOC. IMO this exchange of letters is good enough to begin some grounded RP. NALA better hold on to their hair, because some are gonne end up as part of the company scalp collection. That's if the IFC doesn't get overconfident and fuck up :P

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Double-Pay Men: A "This Land is My Land" Episode

| Part 1: Prologue

 

It had been 130-years since the Gonfalons of the 5 companies last fluttered in Rhodellian winds. At the promise of vast fortune, the men of the Indiense Free Companies mustered a return to many-forested Rhodellia to launch the largest of modern mercenary campaigns. Offered the unique opportunity for gold, glory, and salvage rights, the IFC deployed at full strength.

Deploying their numbers in cities and towns to act as advisors, forward observers, and specialised rear-security, the men of IFC were sent to fill the gaps of the expert but embattled Rhodellian forces. Though eager to put skills honed across the glube on the forefront of a bloody conflict once again, the Free Companies' true utility lay not in their overt operations, but what they were tasked to do away from the public eye. Fringes around Nordwalde province play host to many Indiense Detachments acting with swiftness and ferocity. There, they filled brutal but necessary roles as attack dogs that the Rhodellians could still insulate their reputation from. The account of one Detachment, deployed to Boubonweir, tells us of one such unit.

 

---

 

1704hrs
11 of May, 2056


"Back then, we only had about 30 days of prep training. Tight, yes, but we'd pulled shorter time tables in the past", I said. The younger man across the table from me looked at me intently but kept writing into the pad.

 

"I know how it ends. But, uh- going through what you did, would you blame your management's rushed planning for what happened to-", the younger man started.

 

"Couldn't be helped", I cut him off.

 

"We can opt out of ops before we launch. All of them should have been aware by then, none of my guys were baguhans[*]. Call it occupational hazard".

I don't know why I felt something after saying that, but I did. The grad student in front of me just listened, the wide eyed expression he'd had on since earlier still plastered on his face. Just then I felt the need for a fat roll of cured tobak.

[*]Baguhans- FNGs; new guys.

 

"Are we done? I've got a grandkid's birthday to prepare for. We've got 3 squealers on the coals, lechon- Ilon style, none of that sweet northern stuff", I said. Truthfully, I wanted to skip some of the questions I knew might follow that one.

 

"J-just a few more for this session, please, po", he said, seemingly abashed. He fumbled some, spilling notes on the table from his sling bag.

 

"Sure", I relented, lightly sighing. "Your abuela would give me an earful if you don't pass this one. Shoot".

 

"O-okay po...", he bagan, stumbling over some apology. "Ah- so could you go over how they prepared you, unique challenges the locale may have put you up ag-", he stammered out.

 

"Easy. SimOps", I said. I couldn't help the slight twang of dismissal creep into my voice. "Again and again, 12 hours a day. Forest ftx- fire team exercises. Tracking refreshers, close protection refreshers, few others. If you didn't pass, you didn't ship out", I said, counting the examples on my fingers.

 

"Oh, right, best one- Killhouses", I continued.  "We did mock ups of other Kabayans' farmhouses. Kind enough to lend us their floor plan. Remodelled some shack nearer Nordwalde and we ran the house until it started showing up in our dreams", I said, recalling the old shithole we renovated into over 30 different layouts with nothing but scraps.

 

"So how did your team do?", he asked.


"First time around? Oh, we all fucking died."


---

 

1750hrs
29th of October, 2021


An ramshackle farmhouse stood at a small forest clearing. Near overgrown fields and branch-littered knolls, the structure of tumbled bricks appeared re-dressed in haphazard sheets of material, barely held together with an assortment of nails and duct tape. 

 

However, abandoned, it was not. Not at the moment, at least. Every so often the glassless windows would flash in tandem with the sharp report of rifle fire from the rooms of the once-welcoming Rhodellian farmhouse.

 

Flashes would light up from windows and doorways. The voles, field mice, and avians that called the neglected and overgrown fields their home had been sent scampering not long ago.

 

From the front door, a trail of detritus led to the interior hallway, where a team of 4 paced briskly down the corridor to the set of bedrooms.

 

They wore an assortment of insulated outdoor clothing under a set of war belts, plate carriers, ballistic masks and ballistic helmets. All of them carrying short rifles, AGP-210C's, chambered in 6.8 . The men behind the point man covered their angles, left, right, and behind. Every so often they checked the ceiling and floors.

 

The Pointman gestured for a stop as the fireteam reached the first room on the left. The TL, or Team Leader, then moved a few feet down the corridor, covering the uncleared space beyond.  The Rearguard walked backward, still covering the 6 o'clock while tightening up with Pointman & the Breacher who had taken positions on the right and left side of a thick wood panel nailed-in to act as a locked door. 

 

Breacher, on the left, inspected the door for traps and gave a go gesture. Pointman, on the right, took a step back and covered his angle of the door with his rifle. Beside him, Breacher briefly turned away from the door, bracing himself on the stone doorway wall and then stoved the door in like a horse would kick some idiot standing behind an ornery animal.

 

The door was scarcely open when Pointman loosed 3 rounds, ending a combatant pressed against the corner of the small bedroom. Breacher recovered quickly from the kick and pivoted on his heel, bringing his rifle up. He covered the corner exposed to him, still protected by most of the stone doorway wall. Pointman swept his aim away and to the left as the pair forced-in swiftly and secured both sides of the centre-fed bedroom. 

 

Sudden shots rang out, the ceiling turned to splinters as Breacher fell to the ground. Pointman pivoted and brought his rifle up, but before he could fire, he was picked off his feet and sent stumbling into the wall behind him. A glimmer of movement revealed a shooter through a narrow window that Pointman had pivoted into.

 

Rearguard began returning fire, his rifle tearing-into the ceiling from cover behind the stone interior walls of the doorway. The TL worked low at prone, checking under the bed and dresser quickly before taking position to cover the window.

 

Rearguard was almost into the room when his head whiplashed, struck from behind. He fell, body thudding heavily on to the floorboards. The Team Leader could no longer secure the casualties. With his off-hand, he readied a frag grenade, unpinned and unlevered it, and then bounced it down the hallway. It detonated, blowing dust from the rafters and ruined ceiling.

 

Working with near robotic precision, TL snapped his rifle toward the window, and placed 5 rounds through, ending the shooter who had re-peeked. He cleared the left and right visible angles of the corridor before he pivoted out the doorway. TL double-checked his rear for just a second, a fatal second. 

 

 A single round met his ballistic mask as he pivoted from his rear-check to face front.


---


"Mistakes were made. But that was of course, an exercise. We all used soft-pellet simunitions, firecracker dummy-frags, and the ceiling had a long section of balsa wood for the OpFor actors to shoot through", I said, after going into a somewhat skimmed account of how the killhouse exercises went.

 

"So... Which one of the guys were you?", the young man asked.

 

"Eh? Oh. I was the TL. I led them and got them all killed. We learned, of course. We breached recklessly. I told them to work the bedrooms quickly since we knew the rooms were small. Only used 2 when I should have had the whole team in. But I insisted that covering the corridor was important since the rest of the house was uncleared... Anyway, you don't need to hear my excuses. We got better. We ran it so many times and in so many configurations that by the end of it, the house would turn up in our dreams the whole deployment."

 

"So you sucked?", that had likely slipped out before the kid even knew what he was saying. I shut him up while he was stammering an apology out. Once he relaxed, I continued.

 

"I did suck. They didn't. They just did what I said... most of the time, at least. We hadn't been in any ops that had entry in for 3 years at that point. In Vasqqa, the platoon was doing long-range recce, stay-behind, observation of PELs, the occasional recce-in-force. We were out in the mountains and old-growth woods for weeks, shitting in our empty MRE packets to hide the scent. I remember hiding one in a box of new ones bound for a Poleto's tent once. Good times", I couldn't help a slight smile escape as I reminisced.

[*]PEL(s)- predicted enemy location

[*]Poleto- rough equivalent, "POG", or Person Other Than Grunt. From the word Epoletta or Epaulette, a shoulder piece usually found on an Iberic Officer's dress uniform. May also apply to non-combatant enlisted personnel.

 

"Wait. Vasqqa? So you-"

 

"Another time hijo", I waved my hand dismissively. I didn't want to go over all that just now. "But yes, we'd been tree-humpers for a good few years over there. No one in the 5-companies could fix an ambush in the bukid better than us. That's why they picked us for ass-crack nowhere Boubonweir."

 

"Boubonweir... So that's the part of Nordwalde where all that shit-", at this point the youngster had gotten slightly too enthused about the details. It had started when I mentioned Vasqqa, no doubt the kid had grown up hearing about the historic conflicts that kept the Empire of New Iberium divided for so long. Evidently, he had also heard about the Indiense trysts in Nordwalde.

 

"Yes where all that whacky and wild shit happened", I confirmed, nodding slowly.

 

"Okay so-so-so, what happened there-"

 

I checked my watch. "Ay, tangina. Tingnan mo 'ung oras. Tara, ka'in, hijo. Lechon won't last forever, there's about 40 guests coming."

 

"You'll tell me there right?", sounded like the kid had blue balls.

 

"A word to my apo about this and I'll use your jewels for a fishball bbq", Maria and her kids didn't need to hear about all that. They'd probably find out when they were older and edgier anyway.

 

"After, then?", he asked hopefully.

 

"O'na, O'na, after! Kulit. Once they bring out the Cha'tas[*] and rum", with that, we both headed out.

[*]Cha'tas- Indiense digestif. Dark Tea, usually Chai, Darjeeling, or Assam brewed for long periods at low temperatures in full-cream milk or in buttermilk. Little to no water used. Typically spiced with cloves, black cardamom, and cinnamon. May occasionally be brewed with small quantities of Saharabica or Vostau Saffron.

---

 

OOC: Yes, it is unusual that they'd train in a kill house with simunitions shooting at actual people with real projectiles, masks or not. Its not impossible, but it is unusual. I took some creative liberty there


 

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  • 3 weeks later...

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Chance Encounter

Recap

  • The Rhodellian Army and Air Force are hunting down a group of Separatist insurgents spotted travelling through the hills of rural Nordwalde Province.
  • Sergeant Schäfer’s squad had a chance encounter with a section-sized group of insurgents. 
  • The insurgents were caught camouflaging and digging a line of defensive fighting positions overlooking an important supply route. 
  • The insurgents are not aware that they’ve been spotted. 
  • Schäfer chose to exploit this opportunity and lead his squad in a surprise attack, despite facing a more heavily armed and numerically superior enemy.

Forces

Rhodellian Army
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (Sledgehammer Division)
1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion of the 4th Friedrichstadt Landwehr Infantry Regiment (The Bloodthirsters)

14 Soldiers

  • Squad Leader - Sergeant Alarick Schäfer (Callsign: Tempest Three-One)
    • Medic - Corporal John Mark ‘Doc’ Garcia
    • Alpha Fire Team Leader - Corporal Rolt Jung (Callsign: Libtard One)
      • Rifleman - Private Puhihwikwasu'u ‘Wickwash’ Geldfeld (Libtard Two)
      • Automatic Rifleman - Private Garrick Wolff (Libtard Three)
      • Grenadier - Private John Adebayo (Libtard Four)
    • Bravo Fire Team Leader - Corporal Koen Meier (Callsign: Clausewitz One) 
      • Rifleman - Private Waltz Fischer (Callsign: Clausewitz Two)
      • Automatic Rifleman -  Private Jakub 'Kowalski' Kowalczyk  (Clausewitz Three)
      • Grenadier - Private Robert Powell (Clausewitz Four)
    • Charlie Fire Team Leader - Corporal William Collins (Callsign: Punisher One)
      • Rifleman - Private Danuwoa Catawnee (Callsign: Punisher Two)
      • Automatic Rifleman -  Private Ludwig Zimmerman (Callsign: Punisher Three)
      • Grenadier - Private Abdul Hamid bin Faisal al-Latif (Callsign: Punisher Four)

Nordwalde Separatist insurgents (assumed)
18 fighters

  • 1 Designated Marksman (Squad/Section leader?)
  • 1 Engineer with rotary grenade launcher
  • 1 MG Team
    • 1 Machine gunner
    • 1 Assistant Machine gunner
  • Fire Team Assholes
    • 1 Team Leader
    • 1 Automatic rifleman (Sentry #1)
    • 1 Grenadier with a recoilless rifle
    • 1 Assistant Grenadier
  • Fire Team B*tches
    • 1 Team Leader
    • 1 Automatic rifleman (Sentry #2)
    • 1 Grenadier with recoilless rifle
    • 1 Assistant Grenadier
  • Fire Team Cocksuckers
    • 1 Team Leader
    • 1 Automatic rifleman (Sentry #3)
    • 1 Low Altitude Air Defence Gunner with MANPAD
    • 1 Assistant LAAD Gunner

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Chapter Four: Approach

In the foothills of eastern Nordwalde Province, it looked as if a storm was coming. Sergeant Schäfer felt chills across his camouflage-painted face as the clouds darkened and wind picked up through the wooded valleys. The ancient forests around him, rustling and restless, howled. It took many hours of searching (and a stroke of luck), but his squad of fellow Landwehr conscripts finally found the roving band of insurgents the Rhodellian military spent the whole afternoon hunting for.  The 'Elder Trees' of Nordwalde grew tall from the blood of countless warriors, and the Rhodellian Army was more than happy to keep them watered with dead Separatists.

Sergeant Schäfer’s squad stops behind the hedge on the left side of MSR Spirytus, right at the foot of the western hill. On the opposite hillside, to the east of the MSR, is a forest with no less than eighteen Separatist insurgents hiding in it. The insurgents were last seen digging fighting positions overlooking the MSR. They were probably preparing to ambush a Rhodellian Army logistics convoy. Schäfer took the initiative to try and stop them.

Compared to Schäfer's squad, the insurgents have superior firepower; the enemies have a general-purpose machine gun, a rotary grenade launcher, two recoilless rifles, and three known M18 Claymore mines in addition to their small arms. Including himself, and minus his squad’s attached combat medic, Schäfer has a total of thirteen soldiers to bear against the insurgents’ eighteen. 1st Squad is clearly outgunned and outnumbered.

Yet in spite of the odds being stacked against them, his squad is confident of victory. Sure, the enemy has clear numerical and fire superiority. But through clever use of the terrain, stealth, and the element of surprise, the squad plans to negate these enemy advantages. The squad’s plan is divided into three stages: 

Stage One was for the squad to stealthily reach the hedgerow to the left of the MSR. Schäfer, Doc, Fire Team Bravo, and Fire Team Charlie entered an enclosed pasture for llamas, and high-crawled along the south side of the enclosure’s northern masonry wall (which blocks the line of sight of the insurgents’ ‘Sentry #1’) until they reached the hedgerow (Phase line Alpha). Meanwhile, Fire Team Alpha took up overwatch positions further up the western hillside, along ASR Blue Lagoon. There, they are hiding behind another masonry wall until the rest of their squad commences their ambush.

Stage One was the easy part. With that already out of the way, everything else from then would have a real element of risk.

The second stage is to clear a path to the starting point of their ambush (Phase line Bravo) undetected. It is just over fifty metres south of the insurgents’ southernmost fighting positions (their left flank). Fire Team Charlie is to crawl through a hole in the left hedgerow and into a currently-dry drainage ditch running along the left side of the MSR. After that, they are to go through a wildlife underpass leading under the MSR to the foot of the eastern hillside. There are at least two claymore mines in the drainage ditch and a third claymore mine pointed directly into the underpass at the eastern exit. All of them are to be disarmed if the squad is going to safely reach Phase line Bravo.

The plan’s biggest hurdle is who the squad dubs as the insurgents’ 'Sentry #1'. Sentry #1's main priority seems to be spotting any incoming vehicles or Rhodellian Army patrols approaching from the south via the MSR and ASR. However, the hole in the left hedgerow and the underpass’s exit are within his line of sight. The entire ambush depends on Fire Team Charlie being able to approach and kill that sentry without alerting the rest of the insurgents. 

If this can not be done, the attack will have to be called off. The insurgents would probably be blown up by a random Rhodellian Air Force drone operator instead. Nobody in the squad wants their kills to be stolen like that. Chances to ambush Separatist insurgents like this are too few and far between for any fun-loving Rhodellian to pass up. The squad was extraordinarily lucky to have spotted their enemy first this time around.

Stage Three is actually attacking the enemy position. In the current plan, Stage Three basically begins with Fire Team Bravo and Fire Team Charlie advancing from Phase line Bravo undetected until a ‘good number’ of the enemy are visible. At Schäfer's command, they will then shoot as many insurgents as possible in the first two seconds of the ambush (after which, the surviving insurgents will all have hit the deck or dived for cover). Bravo and Charlie will then take turns advancing down the length of the fighting positions until the enemy is either destroyed or routed. 

However, since plans typically never survive first contact with the enemy, the squad intends on adapting on the fly according to how the tactical situation develops. If everything ends up going horribly wrong anyway, the rest of 3rd platoon and the Rhodellian Air Force are on standby. And most of the 3rd Battalion are less than an hour away.

Now is the time to execute Stage Two of the plan.

Somewhere in the woods further up the western hill, Corporal Jung is watching Sentry #1 through his binoculars. Private Geldfeld (nicknamed ‘Wickwash’) is next to him, keeping his own binoculars trained on the other insurgents’ camouflaged fighting positions. Meanwhile, Corporal Collins and the rest of Fire Team Charlie are lining up along the hedgerow at Phase line Alpha, waiting for their turns to crawl through the hole in the hedge. They await Jung’s signal. Whenever the sentry is looking away from the hole’s direction, Jung will signal Collins over the radio to crawl through the hole and into the drainage ditch. Collins and Jung will then coordinate so that other members of Charlie can crawl through the hole undetected as well.

Collins (Temporary callsign: Punisher One) is first in line. He speaks quietly into his radio headset.
“Libtard One, this is Punisher One. I’m ready to go. Over.”
Jung (Temporary callsign: Libtard One) chuckles before responding.
“Roger, Punisher One. Wait one.” Jung watches Sentry #1, waiting for the right moment to clear Collins to go through.

Sentry #1 has seemingly gone on autopilot, going into a robot-like routine to cope with the sheer boredom of sentry duty. Beforehand, the squad has spent some quite time noting down his video game NPC-like pattern. He spends 60 seconds looking down his scope, staring at a fixed point on the MSR several-hundred metres to the south, likely watching for oncoming vehicles. When he unscopes, his head makes a quick 3-second left-right sweep of his surroundings. He then spends 15 seconds scanning left to right, from his 7 o’clock position to his 5 o’clock position. He also makes a radio check every 5 minutes. The only time he has deviated from this routine in the past thirty minutes was to stop and keep himself awake with a chocolate bar and half a bottle of sports drink. 

Jung waits until Sentry #1 next looks into his scope. “Go! He’s scoped in!”

Collins steps in front of the hole in the hedge, drops to the ground, and starts dragging his face forward through the grass. Before he crawls all the way through the hole, he holds up a mirror, checking to see if the drainage ditch on the other side was clear of enemy presence. The coast was clear. Within ten seconds, he’s already scrambling into the drainage ditch. Collins beckons over Catawnee, then Zimmerman, and finally al-Latif. By the time Sentry #1 unscopes, all of Fire Team Charlie are already in the drainage ditch.

Roadside_Drainage_Ditch_(Dry)_-_geograph 


In the drainage ditch, Collins whispers instructions to his team.
“Catawnee. Stack up by the entrance to the wildlife underpass and prepare to take out the sentry. Zimmerman, disarm any Claymores you find in the drainage pipes beneath Checkpoints Eight-Bravo and Niner-Bravo. al-Latif, go to Checkpoint Seven-Bravo and do the same as Zimmerman.”

All of them nod. With their orders received, Catawnee and Zimmerman high-crawl north up the drainage ditch while al-Latif heads south. Catawnee crouches by the entrance to the wildlife underpass, and checks inside it with a mirror. He sees no enemies waiting in ambush in the reflection. He beckons Zimmerman to keep crawling forward.

Zimmerman crawls up to the first two Claymores. While scouting the area with the squad’s Dragonfly reconnaissance drone earlier, Catawnee spotted the insurgents’ designated marksman setting them up the command-activated mines. He can just about see the mines’ electric firing wires snaking down the tall grass and into the wildlife tunnel. The mines are positioned so that, in an ambush situation, the insurgents can inflict heavy casualties against any Rhodellian troops taking cover inside the drainage ditch. The mines are also concealed with grass so that any panicking troops wanting to return fire as soon as possible won’t immediately notice them.

Zimmerman is too focused on his task to feel all that nervous. Neither Jung nor Wickwash have given any indication that the insurgents have spotted them. And so, he feels confident that neither mine will explode on him and his team mates unless some freak accident happens. In a sense, operating these mines was literally child's play.

Most Rhodellians’ first experience of M18 Claymore mines is in secondary school. In War Studies, schoolchildren are instructed in the safe, efficient, and effective use of landmines in static defense and ambush operations. When doing airsoft exercises in P.E class, they put their knowledge into practice using airsoft replicas that launch BB pellets. Outside of school, replica Claymore mines are also popular equipment in casual and competitive airsoft and paintball games. Zimmerman knew how these devices worked.

Zimmerman starts by clearing away the Claymore mines' camouflage and removing the wooden stake securing their firing wires. He takes a deep breath.
"Alright... Let's do this." He whispers to himself. He swallows his spit upon seeing the familiar 'FRONT TOWARD ENEMY' embossed on the mines' plastic cases. He then starts the disarming process proper, which is basically a reverse of the normal arming process. He unscrews the shipping plug adapter securing the blasting cap to the detonator well. He lifts the blasting cap out of the first Claymore’s detonator well slowly, steadily, and vertically, doing his best to minimise friction all-throughout. According to his instructor back in Infantry School, a Claymore mine’s firing charge is generated by an electromagnetic switch caused by pressing down the mine’s connected clacker (firing device). But Zimmerman also believes that static electricity generated from friction might substitute for that charge, prematurely detonating the mine. 

He’s not sure if this is just an urban myth or fuddlore he picked up on Threadit, Boogaloo+, or Volkscast at some point in his life. Back in Infantry School, he didn’t want to look like an idiot by asking a ‘dumb’ question when they were learning about explosive ordnance disposal. He low-key wishes that someone else took the fall by asking this question instead, or that this possible myth was already addressed in a lecture.

Within a dozen seconds the first Claymore mine is disconnected from its firing device. Another dozen seconds more, the second mine is disconnected too. Zimmerman starts crawling further up the drainage ditch to check for more mines. A few minutes later, Zimmerman and al-Latif return to the wildlife underpass, giving Collins the thumbs up.

Collins whispers into his radio headset. “Tempest Three-One, Punisher One. All M18s in the drainage ditch have been neutralised. Acknowledge?”
On the other side of the hedgerow, Schäfer is awaiting Jung’s signal, getting ready to lead Doc and Fire Team Bravo through the hole in the hedge. He replies to Collins.
“Roger, Punisher One. Good work. Out.”
When Schäfer, Doc, and Bravo eventually do make it into the drainage ditch, they exchange silent nods and grins with Zimmerman and al-Latif. So far, everything was going to plan.

With the drainage ditch Claymores successfully dealt with, and Bravo and Charlie standing by to advance to Phase line Bravo, it was time to neutralise Sentry #1.

Private Catawnee volunteered to do just that. As the drone operator who flew the drone (a Black Knight Systems AG UA-25 'Dragonfly' reconnaissance micro-UAV) scouting out the route to the sentry earlier, he intimately knows the lay of the land better than any of his peers. From memory, he also has a good idea of an exact path through some forest undergrowth he needs to take in order to reach the sentry undetected. Plus, as a man of Aniyvwiya ancestry, stealthily killing one’s enemies is practically a long-running family tradition. This would be his true moment in the spotlight.

Even before the Colonial era, forest-dwelling Native Aurelians like himself were well-versed in what historians call the ‘Skulking Way of War’. The primordial forests of Central Aurelia were a different beast from the Aurelian steppes. With stealth, surprise, and mobility, 'Woodland Tribes' like the Aniyvwiya could terrorise Rhodellian settlers even into the 19th century. They made no distinction between hunting and warfare. They attacked without warning, and could vanish without a trace. They could effectively turn themselves invisible. The forests were their domain.

In general, the threat of attack Native Aurelian warriors struck fear into anyone venturing beyond the walls of established fortress-towns and fortress-cities. Settlements at the edge of the Aurelian frontier were subject to constant raids. The paths and wagon-trails between them were littered with the bodies of the weak and unwary. Without first befriending the local tribes; driving them away; or exterminating them to the last man, woman, and child, even settlers in the biggest and most heavily armed pioneer wagon trains dreaded passing through any stretch of forest.

Rhodellia’s Native Aurelians have always shown a certain pride for pioneering many of the techniques and tactics used by modern-day Rhodellian special forces and jägers. When he was a child, Catawnee always felt inspired knowing that his ancestors were respected as undisputed masters and innovators of asymmetric, guerilla, and forest warfare. He still does.

And unlike the Native Aurelian Separatist insurgents who slipped up and got themselves caught, Catawnee has zero intention of disappointing his ancestors today.

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Collins removes his radio headset and hands it over to Catawnee. This way, Catawnee can immediately signal his squadmates to move to Phase line Bravo when it’s safe. He uses a mirror to confirm that no enemies are waiting in front of the tunnel exit to ambush him. He then pulls down his helmet-mounted AresTech GmbH BN3 Binocular Night-Vision Device, and confirms that there are no new explosives inside the tunnel. However, the tripwire rigged to another Claymore mine is still hidden in the same spot at the exit, still camouflaged by tall grass.

The Rhodellian Army has long since sold off all of its victim-activated mines to foreign buyers, and reportedly so has the Native Aurelian Liberation Army (NALA). However, that has not stopped Nordwalde Separatist groups from using victim-activated explosives against Rhodellian military personnel, police officers, and civilians. They don’t care that they’re committing war crimes. If somethings helps kick their Rhodellian colonisers out of ancestral Native Aurelian land, one life or limb at a time, it's perfectly fair game. 

In spite of Rhodellia being a signatory and ratifier of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, schoolchildren are still instructed in the use of both command and victim-activated Claymore mines. According to the Department of Education’s logic, teaching Rhodellian children to use victim-activated explosives helps them to understand the mindsets and perspectives of terrorists, which in turn can help them to accurately predict the most likely places they would encounter victim-activated landmines. In theory, this would help Rhodellians avoid tripping over Unexploded Remnants of War (ERW) and the traps of Separatist war criminals. That knowledge was helping Catawnee this very day.

Indeed, even if Catawnee hadn’t already pinpointed the victim-activated Claymore mine and its attached tripwire during this operation’s reconnaissance phase, he and all of his squadmates would have known that this wildlife underpass was the most obvious place to rig with a mine. For any ambushed Rhodellian troops in the drainage ditch, this wildlife underpass would make for a convenient flanking route to the insurgents’ fighting positions.

Catawnee crouches inside the underpass. He pokes his head out of the western entrance to prevent echoing, and whispers into the receiver.
“Libtard One, this is Punisher Two. Standing by. Over.”
“Roger, Punisher Two. Wait one… Go.”

At Jung’s signal, Catawnee peers through his ReaperTech 4x ACOG sight (now sighted at 50 metres) and advances through the tunnel. Near the end, he performs a ‘pie cutting’ maneuver. He also briefly removes his NVGs and uses a mirror to check around the corners. He confirms that there are no ambushers within the immediate vicinity of the tunnel exit. There were also no enemy insurgents at the foot of the hill at any point along the hedgerow to the right of the MSR. 

While Sentry #1 is tunnel-visioned peering through his scope, Catawnee slowly steps over the tripwire and lies down flat at the foot of the hill, vanishing into a green sea of primordial forest undergrowth. He takes care not to accidentally snag his boot on the drainage ditch Claymores’ electrical firing wires in case their movements give away his presence. He starts high-crawling his way uphill, moving in an arc towards the sentry’s rear. It's getting quite dark as evening approaches, and he needs to maintain a low profile, so he puts his NVGs back on.

Overgrown_Forest_Track_-_geograph.org.uk 


Jung and Catawnee are practically playing a game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’ with Sentry #1. Every time the sentry is about to face Catawnee's general direction, or if Catawnee’s movements (or a fern’s) seem to be at risk of getting caught in the sentry’s peripheral vision, Jung radios Catawnee to ‘stop’. When the sentry is facing away or scoping in, Jung radios Catawnee to ‘go’.

Catawnee has pulled all the stops to minimise the odds of himself getting noticed, according to things he picked up learning Fieldcraft in school, Landwehr basic training, Volkscast tutorials, and online infographics. His face is painted to conceal the natural shine of the human skin and break up the recognisability of the human face. The foliage he applied to his goggles, helmet, and uniform was gathered from the woods just a few-hundred metres to the west; they matched the local flora to a tee and effectively broke up his human silhouette. He has positioned himself upwind of the sentry, where the wind won’t carry the scent of his sweat from marching across the Nordwalde hills. As a precaution, he also applied odorless deodorant to himself before his squad even went on this operation. And by default, current-issue Rhodellian Army battledress incorporates infrared remission to thwart Forward-looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras and optics. Flecktarn forest camouflage also performs excellently in the forest of central and southern Aurelia. Spotting a Rhodellian soldier like Catawnee is easier said than done.

Aside from his appearance and smell, Catawnee even takes his movement into consideration. He cradles his Flectarn-painted Krieger Industries Sturmgewehr 5 kurz (SG5k) carbine in his arms, and maintains a low profile as he crawls at a slow and steady pace, ensuring his movements are smooth, gradual, and non-jerky so as too not get picked up by a human being's peripheral vision. Upon Catawnee nearing the sentry, Jung sends another transmission.
"Punisher Two, this is Libtard One. Switch off your headset so the dude has no chance of hearing us. Break. F*ck him up. Out."
Catawnee complies. At this stage, he only moves whenever a gust of wind is moving through the ferns and bushes, masking out the rustles and slightly unnatural movements of plants in his path. 

One of the most difficult parts of operating in Nordwalde is the sheer age, size, and thickness of its flora. The forests of the east Nordwalde foothills are many thousands of years old, with countless acres still untouched by human civilisation. The indigenous Nordwalders (another Woodland Tribe) traditionally live in harmony with nature and treat it with great reverence. They are known to object to clearing their local forests more than they subjectively consider 'necessary'. Native Aurelian civilisation in this region is primarily concentrated along the Nordfluss river and the foot of the Shfakien mountains. These areas tend to have been historically inhabited by tribes that are more receptive to land development. Population density around Nordwalde's foothills is still very low. So many of the local 'Elder trees' and the undergrowth beneath them have been allowed to grow extremely tall and thick. 

The thickness and density of Nordwalde's flora neutralises many of the Rhodellian Army's technological advantages. They are extraordinarily effective at blocking sightlines and masking heat signatures. Thanks to this, Nordwalde's Separatist insurgents have long been able to operate across the deep woods, moving around and establishing outposts with little fear of observation by binoculars, thermal goggles, and FLIR-armed reconnaissance drones.

At many points along MSR Spirytus, for example, adjacent foliage is so dense and thick that insurgents can theoretically sneak well within grenade-throwing distance of the major road without getting detected by foot patrols, vehicles, or aircraft. The Rhodellian government would have committed to more foliage-trimming or clearing if only it did not offend the local Nordwalder populace. So military travel in this region remains quite dangerous.

At the very least, the potential for stealth operations brought about by the local foliage can work both ways.

Before Catawnee knew it, Sentry #1’s back and bobbing head were already in sight. Catawnee can even hear the sentry whisper-singing to stave off his boredom. The sentry is singing in Nordwalder-accented Anglish.
“...Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor…”
True to the lyrics, a body was about to hit the floor.

Catawnee waits a few minutes for the Sentry to finish his next radio check with the rest of the insurgents. In the meantime, he takes deep (but quiet and controlled) breaths to mitigate an upcoming adrenaline surge and control his heartbeat. Catawnee is as still as a rock. As far as the Sentry seems to be concerned, he is very much a part of the surrounding foliage. For all intents and purposes, Catawnee is invisible.

It seems to take ages. But eventually, the Sentry speaks into his radio.  “Tomahawk Two-Three Actual, Rockstar Three. Check.” He is also using Anglish with a Nordwalder accent. He also sounds quite young, like many older secondary schoolers or college freshmen Catawnee regularly encountered at his local airsoft field back in Friedrichstadt. And with that, the Sentry goes back to singing, and scopes into his rifle.

Catawnee rises from the underbrush, slowly sliding his B9 Bayonet out of its sheath. He looks over his shoulder to check the status of the insurgents’ fighting positions, which should be just over 50 metres away. He can’t see a single one of them through the densely packed tree trunks, bushes, and undergrowth. Neither can he hear any digging. All of the primordial plantlife is making noise rustling in the wind and absorbing all sound waves. Even if he speaks at normal conversational volume, his voice would be inaudible to the other, nearby insurgents. For all intents and purpose, Catawnee and Sentry #1 are alone together… unless the Sentry manages to scream.

Everything is quiet. It's just him and this one sentry. Catawnee glares hard at the target's neck. He pictures the target's trachea and carotid arteries beneath his skin. He pictures his bayonet slicing into them. He pictures himself cutting out the target's scalp for presentation. He can just about smell rust and taste iron. And it only makes him smile.

All Catawnee must do now is carry out the same instruction all Rhodellians are taught to say at the start of every morning, and do what every good Rhodellian is born to do: Kill.

The wind blows. 

Catawnee rushes up behind the sentry, grabs the sentry’s mouth, and stabs him right in the windpipe. Catawnee feels hot blood spraying onto his wrist from the Sentry’s right-side carotid arteries, and even more soaking into his glove from the left-side carotid arteries. He stabs the Sentry even more, all over the neck and above the sternum, anywhere the Sentry’s front XSAPI ceramic trauma plate doesn’t cover. The sentry grabs and claws at Catawnee's uniform, but he's rapidly losing blood, oxygen, consciousness, and control over his motor functions. It's already too late for him to put up a real struggle.

The Sentry barely lets out more than a gasp and splutter of blood as he falls backwards onto Catawnee. Catawnee flicks the blood off his bayonet, watering the plant roots to his right. He gently lets the Sentry lie back on the forest floor. That's when he notices the Sentry’s glazed eyes staring directly up at him, shocked and afraid. 

The Sentry’s face clearly looked young beneath his camouflage facepaint. By Catawnee’s estimates, the sentry looked to be only a few years younger than he was. 16 at most. Not even old enough to have graduated from secondary education or entered National Service. He realises that he just knifed a kid.

It wasn't too out of the ordinary for Nordwalder Separatists to fight from an early age.  Many Nordwalder families can claim a longstanding tradition of violently opposing (Dolchic) Rhodellian rule over their ancestral homeland. Thanks to Native Aurelian oral traditions, many local kids are raised on stories of resistance and insurgency. Many of these kids have brothers, fathers, uncles, and older friends that either died fighting or are currently fighting as part of the larger Nordwalde Separatist movement. Even though the Rhodellian education system is trying its damned hardest to get Native Aurelian separatism out of these kids' systems, many kids grow up developing a sense of duty to  inherit their predecessors' struggle.

Some insurgent groups initiate their members at an early age, in their teenage years. These teenagers often accompany family members, friends, and relatives in conducting guerilla attacks on their Rhodellian 'occupiers'. These younger insurgents are often tasked with espionage, reconnaissance, and other forms of intelligence-gathering. They also go around planting IEDs. More fanatical and insistent kids with high Marksmanship, Martial Arts, P.E, and War Studies grades can sometimes persuade older insurgents to let them join in on ambushes. Catawnee guesses that this insurgent (that ironically just got caught slipping) probably belonged to the latter group.

But none of that really matters right now.

Catawnee simply offers the dying boy a smug grin and middle finger. He moves his face closer and lifts up his NVGs, just so he can engrave his own face as the last thing the boy sees before the latter kicks the bucket.
"That’s for making us ruck all the way out here, you little shit." He whispers to what would otherwise be his fellow Native Aurelian… in Standard Rhodellian Dolchic. "You should have stayed in school."

Catawnee spits on the dying boy as he switches his radio headset back online. He glances downhill at the wildlife tunnel. With the biggest obstacle to Phase line Bravo out of the way, it was time to advance to Stage Three of the plan.
“Tempest Three-One Actual, this Punisher Two. Target neutralised. Over.” He whispers.
Schäfer responds.
“Roger, Punisher Two. Good f*cking work. We’re on our way up. Out.”

Catawnee watches as Sergeant Schäfer and Private Fischer lean out of the tunnel, aiming their rifles up and down the hedgerow and foot of the hill. They provide cover for rest of their squadmates (barring Fire Team Alpha), who step over the Claymore mine’s tripwire and run up the hill towards their preassigned positions along Phase line Bravo. With Sentry #1 neutralised, the rest of the insurgents busy elsewhere doing their own things, and sightlines from the insurgents' fighting positions blocked by trees or their own anti-IR blankets and camouflage netting, the squad won't get heard or spotted.

Along the way, Collins, Zimmerman, and al-Latif stop by Catawnee and personally inspect their comrade’s handiwork. 

Collins gives his comrade thumbs up.
“Yo. Good kill, my dude.” Collins nods as Catawnee returns his radio headset. He greets the dying Sentry with a peace sign as he walks to join Fire Team Bravo at Phase line Bravo. 

Zimmerman can barely contain his smile as he watches the dying Sentry’s life force fading away before him. Zimmerman shakes Catawnee by the shoulder. The two of them high-five (with gloved hands), grab hands, and bump shoulders.
“Sheeeeeeeeesh.” Zimmerman whispers in a high-pitched voice. “You legit scored a confirmed knife kill, you ninja motherf*cker. How did it feel to go medieval on a guy up-close-and-personal?”
Catawnee suppresses his laughter.
“Absolutely f*cking euphoric, dude!"
“I f*cking bet it does!" Zimmerman chuckles quietly.
“Yeah, bro. But oh man, you should’ve seen the look on this kid’s f*cking face when I put him down!”
“Kid?” Zimmerman raises an eyebrow. Catawnee, as smug as humanly possible, points to the Sentry’s increasingly pale body. Zimmerman makes an 'O' shape with his mouth. “Yoooo…" He suppresses his laughter as he turns back towards Catawnee. "You stone-cold child-murdering son-of-a-b*tch. That’s hella f*cked up my guy.” Zimmerman's smiling so much that his cheeks are aching.
Catawnee shows off all the blood on his gloves, sleeves, and bayonet.
“Ain’t no big bright future for this baby-faced bastard. That’s for sure.”
“He probably would've grown up to be a dickhead anyway. Can't plant no IEDs if you're six feet under." Zimmerman shrugs. "But yeah, I actually envy you, bro. Or not. Because guess what?”
“What's up?”
“Schäfer and Collins said I get to sneak off and knife Sentry #2.”
“Yo, that's f*ckin' awesome.” Catawnee nods a few times. “Best of luck, bro.”
“Ay, man. I’ll chef that motherf*cker up real good. Hitman style!"  Zimmerman mimics stabbing someone from behind, and then the exaggerated facial expression of a dead man. "No cap.”
"You got this, man."
The two bump fists as Zimmerman heads off. He dabs on the young, dying Sentry as he skulks off to the northeast, vanishing into the bushes to butcher someone else's father, brother, uncle, husband, or son in cold blood.

Meanwhile, al-Latif crouches by the dying Sentry.
“Yo, nice kill, bro.” al-Latif shuts the boy’s eyelids and closes his bloodied jaw. al-Latif turns to Catawnee, also giving him smile and thumbs up.
“Thanks, man.” Catawnee nods up.
“I’ll just sit here with you, and see if this guy’s got any frag or smoke grenades." al-Latif says as he starts rummaging through the sentry's pockets and combat webbing. "Might need 'em for Stage Three.”
“Gotcha, dude. Lemme just clean my knife real quick.”

Catawnee kneels down to wipe the Sentry’s blood off his bayonet using the dying Sentry’s sleeve, when he notices something on the ground. It’s a clacker for a Claymore mine, and its firing wire is leading directly down the hill towards the wildlife underpass exit.  There, he notices Doc looking up at him, holding up the disarmed mine and its disconnected blasting cap. Catawnee holds up the mine’s clacker. The two nod their heads, grinning at each other.

Catawnee turns towards the insurgents’ fighting positions. Bravo is forming a rough Team Line formation, with each member making space and crouching behind a different tree trunk for cover. Collins is waiting for his teammates to finish doing whatever they are doing. Upon seeing what Catawnee’s holding up, Collins points towards the enemy positions. Catawnee nods. Collins does as well, mimicking depressing a clacker three times with his hand, and showing his approval with a thumbs up.

Catawnee rolls up the Claymore mine’s firing wire as Doc and Schäfer jog up the hill. Doc sees Sentry #1 lying on the ground, and walks towards him out of instinct. That's when al-Latif looks up to Doc, shaking his head, and giving a hand signal meaning ‘He (The sentry) is dead.’ Doc can already tell as much, judging by all the blood still visibly gushing out of the sentry’s perforated arteries and the familiar stench of voided bowels. Doc nods to al-Latif before handing the mine and its blasting cap over to Catawnee.
“Magaling, pareng.” He pats him on the back before rejoining the rest of the squad. "You did good."

Then Schäfer rolls up and crouches by Catawnee.
“Hey, we’re adapting the plan.” He points to the mine and firing device. “We’ll be initiating the ambush with the M18. Wanna set it up?”
Catawnee pauses to deliberate.
“Naw, Sergeant." He shakes his head. "I think I’ve done enough for today.”
“That's cool with me." Schäfer nods. "You doing okay after knifing this guy?”
"Yeah." Catawnee looks down at the corpse beside him, and then back up at Schäfer. "I'm good." He nods.
“Think on it later. Get a psychiatric check-up if you feel that you really need it. In the meantime, form up with Collins. Team Wedge formation. You’re taking Zimmerman's place on the right flank.”
"Wilco, Sergeant." Catawnee nods again. He opts to inspect his weapon one more time before the firefight.

He takes a deep breath as he presses his rifle's magazine release and checks the ammunition in his magazine. Against his expectations when he deployed this morning, his squad is going into Close-Quarters Combat (CQC). So he had to adapt to that. His current magazine is filled with regular military-grade 6.8×43mm ammunition rather than the privately bought match-grade ammunition Rhodellian troops typically reserve for long-range firefights. Accuracy, precision, and long-range ballistic performance will not be as important when he'll be close enough to see the whites of his enemies' eyes.

It's a rare day that Rhodellian troops get to engage enemies within a distance of 100 metres. If they could reliably trade for or produce their own firearms, gunpowder, and ammunition, many Native Aurelian peoples developed strong traditions of long-range marksmanship. In the less-heavily-forested hilly regions of Nordwalde, and in and around the Shfahkien mountains, Rhodellian settlers and troops have historically been fighting long rifle-armed insurgents since the mid-17th century. By the 18th century, most Native Aurelian warriors encountered by Rhodellian pioneers and soldiers had already exchanged their traditional self-bows for long rifled muskets.

The most notable exception to this trend would be natives from the Aurelian plains and steppe. Many warriors or 'braves' continued using bow and arrows on purpose. Until revolvers and repeating firearms became widespread in the 19th century, they used their mobility, reload speed, archery skills, the element of surprise, and psychological warfare to routinely rout or destroy Rhodellian militias and regulars armed with muzzle-loaded muskets. 

In hilly and mountainous terrains where dense forests do not impede lines of sight, insurgents often conduct long-range ambushes against Rhodellian troops at distances of 600 to 800 metres. For these missions, insurgents arm themselves with battle rifles, designated marksman rifles, sniper rifles, and machine guns with telescopic optics. The sheer frequency of having to react to these ambushes is one major reason why Rhodellians are made to practise marksmanship from an early age. It's also why the Rhodellian Army historically took so long to embrace carbines and intermediate cartridges compared to many other countries' militaries. But closer engagements are still more common. According to research conducted by the Department of Defence, the average engagement distance for Rhodellian troops serving In Nordwalde's flatter and more forested regions is around 300 metres. 

Firefights happening at ranges of 100 metres or less haven't been common since Operation Highwayman back in the 1990s. Nordwalde insurgents almost never want to endanger their friends, families, and livelihoods and  lose public support and by turning their own villages, towns, and cities into war zones. So they usually opt to engage Rhodellian troops in the countryside. When CQC happens nowadays, it's either a deliberate near-ambush meant to prevent Rhodellian troops from calling in Close Air Support and artillery or the result of both sides making horrible mistakes, leading to a chance encounter. Outside of Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), Rhodellian troops are almost never the ones initiating these close-range firefights. So for Catawnee and the rest of his squad, today is a big red-letter day or 'UNO Reverse Card'.

 With Catawnee seemingly being mentally exhausted from performing two highly important tasks today, al-Latif raises his hand, volunteering to take his comrade's stead.
“I’ll place the mine, Sergeant."
Schäfer nods.
"You sure?"
"Defos. I need more kills to brag about for when I get back home.”
“Be my guest, killer. Try to angle up the enfilade attack...” Schäfer makes two 'OK' hand gestures "Juuust right. Catch as many targets and less tree trunks as you can in the killzone. Minimise the secondary missile hazard for us. f*ck 'em up."
"Insha'Allah. I'll see to it." al-Latif nods. Meanwhile, Catawnee hands him the mine, its firing device, and its firing wire.

Schäfer pats them both on the shoulders, for now it was time to kick off Stage Three with a literal bang. “Now let’s go rack up some killstreaks and earn some feathers.”

Edited by Rhodellia
Even more background information and other BEEEG improvements (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

A Silent War: A "This Land is My Land" Episode

| Chapter 1: Prologue

 

For reference:

Emperor William I Zaxar - The Emperor of Greater Zaxar

Leon Varxsos - Minister of Defense (top of the military food chain- answers to no one but the Emperor)

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'What I say to you now minister, must never leave this room. Understood?" William knew very well that he didn't have to say this, he trusted Leon more than anyone, but it felt proper to do so anyway.

"Of course Will, you know you don't have to say that." The minister smiled. "Is this about that lady again?"

"No, it's actually an important state matter this time" he laughed, "but in all seriousness, the orders I am about to give you can't be told to anyone else. Not even the other ministers. If people don't know they're lying then they are much better at it." Leon nodded as the Emperor laid out a map of Southern Aurelia on the table. "@Rhodellia," he pointed, "this little nation here. I hope you've heard of it."

Varxsos chuckled. "I believe I may have heard of it before sir. The good ol' commie gun nuts that like to import our goods if I'm not mistaken."

"That's the one. And that brings me to why you are here today Leo. You see, those nuts are turning their lovely little toys on several little separatist groups. Now this normally wouldn't be of any concern to us. However, one of these separatist groups is none other than the Native Aurelian Liberation Army. These fighters fly the banner of Native Aurelians on their flag."

"Ah, I have heard a lot about these guerrillas. They're supposedly quite good at what they do."

"Which is incite our own Native Aurelian peoples, which I will remind you is nearly all of our population, into a patriotic frenzy over our own past conflicts with the Rhodellians. I have had to deploy the Ranger Corps to several cities already to keep NALA agitators from causing full on riots. And I do personally sympathize with their cause. This 'friendship' with the Rhodellians is very new to Zaxar and frankly this is why. They are a bunch of warmongering, full-of-themselves, communist, pieces of sheesh-crap." He paused to take a breath and patted his pet sheesh Larry. Larry always loved to come to to the war room with Will. "However, they currently pay us quite a lot of money for all of the lithium they import. People might be upset now at the Rhodellian-backed genocide going on up north, but they will be far more angry if they start losing their jobs."

"Definitely. People do tend to be like that unfortunately. So what were you thinking of doing?" Leon looked up from the map.

"Well, since our military experience is somewhat lacking, I was thinking that we send some of our high command as an attaché to observe the Rhodellian tactics. We can say that they are allowed to assist in the combat against any separatist group but the NALA and bam it looks like we are helping our 'friends' out and protesting against their treatment of the natives."

Varxsos stroked his goatee in thought. "That could work I think. I've got a few generals in mind for the job actually."

"I'm not finished yet. We then send volunteers to fight for the Native Aurelians. That way we can get some seasoned veterans while also ensuring that Rhodellia stays occupied. If their guns are busy killing NALA rebels then they won't have time to renew their grudge against us. Sure there will be Zaxari casualties and there is a small chance that the Rhodellian government will find out but I feel the benefits are well worth it." William looked up at Leon. "Thoughts?"

Leon smiled. "I like it." He turned for the door. "I'll have your soldiers and generals by the end of the week Will. They'll then be deployable on your command."

"Excellent, see to it." The Emperor tossed a shrimp at Larry who quickly devoured it. "Good boy Larry," He chuckled, "long live the empire!"

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In The Cold | I

The only outposts of Aroman civilization north of the Sagraphas which have weathered the test of time are its churches, often spared from destruction by invading forces due to the literacy and helpfulness of the lay-priests found within. Indeed, they are not Christian churches, but old pagan temples of the Unconquered Sun that have more in common with that faith than they would like to admit. When the first Aromans conquered the Gulf of Auriel and gave the continent its name, before their sword-arm came their religion, the omen of their impending arrival. And long after they were driven out by foreigner and native alike, still these monuments stand, in testament to their venerability.

Kirvina has, as longtime policy, preferred to conduct its embassy work out of temples. As both a rhetorical device which supports its optics as the successor state of that imperial heritance, and a useful hub occupying what the ancients' discerning eyes had picked out as crossroads and wayrests, the familiar spire of a Solar Icon often promised an easy move and domineering position. Even in Nordwälde province, the historical hot-thorn in the foot of the House of Rödel's children, the Kirvinians stubbornly keep an outpost. This is not done for sheer force of will. The Kirvinian Embassy, or Temple of Mathas Alaskautos, has long served as an off-limits neutral zone for the local warlords.

Besides giving Kirvina more soft power over the region's affairs than its work put into fixing it could possibly deserve, this status as peace-broker is also a guillotine poised over the neck of any would-be embassy invader. The threat of Aroman force of arms sits squarely behind the unassuming gray rocks that hold the Temple together, and even the toughest, most marginalized extremists of the region would be hard-pressed to willingly invite a conflict with Rhodellia's southern neighbor onto their plate when there is already so much to worry about. For this reason, even when the worst of storms rages across Nordwälde Province, there is always a single, uninterrupted eye of calm.

Giorgos Stavros is one of many seasoned guardsmen stationed around that eye of calm, helping ensure that it continues to be so. For his part, he would much rather be home in gentle Taurapetra, watching the waves crash into the shore. Stationed with him is the Aracóri rifle crack-shot Alexandra Tachoras, who passed up a career in sport shooting to keep watch across the Great River for the most part of her adult career. At present, the both of them find themselves doing work they are very overqualified for: buying lumber from the local villagers to make sure that the Embassy's stock of firewood does not run out over the long winter still ahead of them. With hand gestures, of course, as no local speaks the Aurelian lingua franca Illaei, much less their native Kathevei or Aracórha.

"Damnable, " grumbled Stavros, "damnable." His turn keeping watch outside the squat thatch hut meant that it was his turn to get gawked at by the town's children, many curious little faces peering from around corners and between barrels to ogle his shiny gun and kit. The sort of soldier these people were used to was a vagabond who foraged to survive and carried around a bolt-action from Typhon's War as his main battle weapon. Stavros struck an odd sort of picture to them, the kind of well-armed man you saw on the tape of an Orchavonei war movie, but there in the flesh.

He turned over his shoulder to call inside, which quickly brought Tachoras stumbling out, one hand on her beret: with an expression that quickly twisted into annoyance. "Y'know I always think that means trouble! Could, I dunno, /ask/ next time. With a normal inside kinda' voice. Asshole." Stavros only rolled his eyes in response, a playful sort of retort that he was well used to giving. "Hah. Yeah. Sorry princess, forgot your dialect comprised 'whispering everything' and 'pausing an entire rendition of kaigomai-kaigomai between each sentence'. Yep. I'll keep to that." He tipped his hat down in mock acknowledgment, shouldering his rifle a little more tightly. "Still, these people are looking at me something funny. I do not think we should linger too long. I would ask them what is on their mind, but .. linguistics, not my forte." 

"Well .. lumber'll be out in two. Hang tight." Tachoras took up a position besides him, the two of them breathing in the frosty air. It became quickly clear from their conversation that they found something tense about the crowd, which for the most part, took the hint and dispersed. "Sure as hell didn't accept this posting to get uploaded to whatever cracked streamin' service these dickweeds use for some Reggit karma. Keep at it. Scram." A reflexive statement if anything, as their watchers had by then long went back to their business. Stavros's hand fell to his belt and pulled off a canteen, unblocking the cork with his teeth. "You would think that Base's public relations effort this, public relations that would stop the moment the Ambassador actually took a look at this hell-hole. Who exactly are we relating to, huh?"

And as the cart containing their precious firewood was pushed out front and the money and canned food used for wordless barter passed over with a handshake, there was no answer for him but the low whistle of the Rhodellian wind.

Edited by Kirvina (see edit history)
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A Silent War: A "This Land is My Land" Episode

| Chapter 2: The Hobomock Regiment

 

For reference:

Leon Varxsos - Minister of Defense (top of the military food chain- answers to no one but the Emperor)

Yas Kipchekk - Colonel in the Zaxar Army

"Aquène wematin!" - IRL and IC Wampanoag meaning "peace brother [non related]!" It is a traditional toast in Zaxar.

"Aho" - IRL and IC Wampanoag meaning "yes, I agree," "I understand," or "I acknowledge." It is the traditional acknowledgment phrase in Wampanoag and Zaxar in general. Similar in use to the English word "okay."

"Hobomock" - IRL and IC Wampanoag god known as "Death Spirit."

"Keihtanit" - IRL and IC Wampanoag god known as "The Great Spirit." This spirit is the most revered and powerful of the spirits.

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Leon loved the city of Green Falls. Located at the base of the beautiful waterfalls which gave the city its name, the entire place had a feel of youth and promise that could be found nowhere else in the Wurld. And on this bright summer day the city glowed nearly as bright as the falls themselves. He frequently holidayed here at the Emperor's spacious mountain retreat, but today he was here for more serious matters. He needed soldiers; and where better to get them than the Green Falls Military Academy.

The Green Falls Military Academy had been founded shortly after the end of the Flaxzar War and had been one of the most respected training bases for the Army ever since. Thousands of young conscripts had passed through these old iron gates and every one of them had left as a valiant soldier of the Empire.

Leon saluted the guards at gate and his driver took them through into the heart of the compound. As they headed for the academy headquarters, Leon noticed a particular man leading some soldiers in exercises in the corder of the quad. Leon spoke to the driver. "There he is, let's stop here." The driver pulled over and Leon hopped out of the car. The driver saluted and drove off.

"Colonel Yas!" Leon shouted. In Wampanoag culture it is customary to refer to people, even high ranking military personnel, by their first name. Though when speaking to an officer, one should also include their title out of respect.

Colonel Yas turned to face him. "Good evening minister!" Yas smiled. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Ah, the pleasure is all mine colonel. I require a word with you if you have the time. I'm here on behalf of the Emperor."

"If the Emperor would like time then time I will make minister. Let us speak in my office." The colonel laughed and turned to a nearby soldier. "Lieutenant, run exercise 32 today and then some range drills if I've yet to return."

"Right away Colonel!" The Lieutenant turned back toward his troops and resumed barking out orders while Leon and Yas made for the small brick office at the center of the compound. Leon could feel the eyes of the young soldiers on his back as he walked. He must make note to visit the Academies more often he thought. He was in charge of these young men after all.

Colonel Yas led the minister into the the building which contained very little in the way of luxury. Some chairs, a utilitarian oak desk, a table, a small kitchenette, and an old television. The Rhodellian frontlines would be an improvement for this man Leon thought quietly.

"Would you like anything to drink minister?" Yas asked as he took two cups off a shelf.

"I could do with a nice cider if you have one." Leon replied.

"I just received a fine Cortland cider from Kieno the other day." Kieno ciders were the best apple based ciders in the Wurld as far as Leon knew. Grown in the rich, frosty, hills surrounding the city, the cider apples developed a unique and profound flavor. To offer one to a guest was a clear sign of respect and hospitality.

"That is most kind of you." Remarked Leon as Yas handed him his drink. He raised his cup and gave the traditional Wampanoag toast. "Aquène wematin!"

"Aquène wematin!" They drank. As they drank they talked. All unimportant matters; they talked about family, recent high-profile fights, the weather. Nothing controversial or heated.

When the first cup of cider was finished, Yas poured them each another one and the business drink began. In Wampanoag culture it was said that the first drink was for greetings, the second for business, and the third for a good time. Today was a business day unfortunately, so they would have to stop at two.

"So what orders has the Emperor given to us today minister?"

"One of great importance and equal secrecy Colonel. Say, have you ever visited Rhodellia before by chance?"

"I cannot say I have I'm afraid. Though my grandfather visited once. He said it was quite a nice place apart from the people. He would always rant about how one of them people was looking at my grandmother funny and then when he challenged his to a fight, the guy pulled out a gun and shot him in the leg." The Colonel laughed. "He's gone his whole life just waiting for a war to erupt with them. He's still ready to come out of retirement just for the chance to shoot one."

Leon smiled, "well now might just be your opportunity to make your old gramps proud. Your regiment is being deployed undercover to Rhodellia. The Emperor has decided that we must aid our Native Aurelian brothers in their fight for freedom. I will need your regiment deployment ready by the end of the week. No one must know about this Colonel, understood?"

Yas raised fist to his heart in salute. "Aho!"

"Excellent," Leon rose and saluted the Colonel. "What is your regiment's name Colonel?"

"Festalivee sir"

"Well you better order some new uniforms, cause you're Hobomock Regiment now." The minister then nodded, turned, and strode away toward his waiting vehicle.

As the minister got into the vehicle he called out a final farewell to Yas, "Keihtanit be with you brother!" and drove off out the eternal iron gates.

Edited by Zaxar
Fixed typo (see edit history)
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  • 5 months later...

A Silent War: A "This Land is My Land" Episode

| Chapter 3: Recall

Colonel Yas passed the rifle back to the soldier and pointed to the 50 meter target. "There's your shot private." The man droped to one knee and proceeded to fire off 3 shots, one to the leg, the next to the body, and the third to the helm of the Rhodellian shaped target. "Good," Yas nodded to the soldier before moving on to the next man in line.

It was at this point that he noticed Captain Ohitekah striding toward him. He turned to greet the man who had, over the course of their 5 month deployment, come to become a favorite of the Colonel for his quick thinking and fighting skill. "Aquène wematin!" the captain called out, "I've got some news outta Sandrica for ya!"

Yas was not particularly surprised by this, orders from the capital were quite common. Though he wondered why Ohitekah seemed so interested in this if it was just another training or intelligence mission. Maybe they would get another shot at a sabotage or preemptive strike job? That would certainly explain Ohitekah's excitement, it had been almost two weeks since the mission at Stony Crossing and the Zaxari boys were more than ready to imitate the success of the mission. The mission had been sent to Yas by the highest levels of Zaxari command and he had led the operation himself, taking 15 of his best up around the bridge which was under Rhodellian control. The bridge guard was lighter than usual though, as several NALA units had launched diversion attacks along the Rhodellian defense to the north. This left only ten guards for the bridge who were quickly dispatched by the concentrated Zaxari rifle fire from the surrounding woods before they could even raise an alarm. the Zaxars had then swiftly destroyed the bridge, which would be critical in any Rhodellian armor offensive into the woods which housed the Zaxari camp, before disappearing into the night. When the Rhodellians would later discover the destroyed bridge and slain soldiers, they had no reason to believe that the Zaxars had any involvement. In fact, it had been the Zaxari advisory mission to the Rhodellians who had counseled against leaving the bridge under a reduced guard. This operation really meant little to the overall strategic goals of the Rhodellians or NALA, but it had been the first flawless mission that the Hobomock Battalion had pulled off, zero casualties, objective destroyed.

"What is it captain?" Yas inquired.

"Varxos has ordered us home."

"Sorry, what?" Yas shook his head. "Why in the spirits would he do that?"

Ohitekah glanced around, "perhaps I should allow him to explain that himself. In private." Ohitekah motioned towards the Zaxari command tent and Yas followed him inside to find none other than Leon Varxos himself on video call with Yas's lead medic, Lieutenant Chaska. When Chaska noticed Yas enter, he quickly bowed to Varxsos and stepped aside to let Yas take the screen.

"It's very good to see you Colonel, even if it is only over video. I hope to be seeing you soon in person." Varxos smiled.

"Am I being recalled?" Yas asked. Of all people, why should he be replaced? Had he fallen out of favor?

"The entirety of the Hobomock Battalion is being recalled Colonel. Only a few soldiers will remain behind under the command of Captain Chaska to help train and advise our NALA allies. The rest of you are needed for a more important assignment."

"Do we have any information on this next assignment minister?" Yas knew this had to be something important, why else would the Emperor pull them out of Rhodellia a mere 5 months in?

"That remains classified Colonel. However, I am pleased to announce that you all have been promoted. The Hobomock Battalion has been reformed into the first official special forces unit Zaxar has had since the days of the Wampanoag Empire. Your battalion, about 1,000 strong if I'm not mistaken, will be reorganized into a full special operations division. And the Emperor would like to to command this division, Major-General."

To say that Yas was surprised would have been an understatement. "Aho minister, we will be ready to leave by dawn." Yas saluted and began to mentally list all that must be done to meet this deadline.

"One more thing Colonel," Varxos smiled, "pack warm..."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Double-Pay Men: A "This Land is My Land" Episode

| Part 2: Shafted

Part 1- Here

 

It had been 130-years since the Gonfalons of the 5 companies last fluttered in Rhodellian winds. At the promise of vast fortune, the men of the Indiense Free Companies mustered a return to many-forested Rhodellia to launch the largest of modern mercenary campaigns. Offered the unique opportunity for gold, glory, and salvage rights, the IFC deployed at full strength.

Deploying their numbers in cities and towns to act as advisors, forward observers, and specialised rear-security, the men of IFC were sent to fill the gaps of the expert but embattled Rhodellian forces. Though eager to put skills honed across the glube on the forefront of a bloody conflict once again, the Free Companies' true utility lay not in their overt operations, but what they were tasked to do away from the public eye. Fringes around Nordwalde province play host to many Indiense Detachments acting with swiftness and ferocity. There, they filled brutal but necessary roles as attack dogs that the Rhodellians could still insulate their reputation from. The account of one Detachment deployed to Boubonweir, tells us of one such unit.

 

---

 

2250hrs
25th of January, 2022

 

The Team Leader exhaled slowly as he dropped his weapon to low-ready. Around him, Breacher and Pointman had just finished checking every inch of the basement for hidden surprises. Curled up like dead roaches, 2 corpses bled slowly onto the floorboards. This was the last room of a Nordwalde adobe 2-storey, a shitstack of heavy stone and 2x4s that had probably seen several generations of Nordwalder peasants squirted out on its floorboards before turning into a junky den (judging by the rust syringes in some corners) and then a weapons cache that the NALA insurgents had been squirrelling away for a rainy day. The basement was a dim and musty space lit by a single fading bulb hanging by a wire from a low ceiling of rotting floorboards. It seemed that the team had caught the cache on bank-day though, because there was more material than one might expect to find in a regular cache. Mortar rounds, RPG warheads, mines, ammunition, plastic explosives, some radio sets, gps equipment, and a few optics and NV devices.

TL ripped his helmet and balaclava off, using the latter to wipe a slight sheen of sweat from his forehead. It was 2 degrees centigrade, but the brisk breach-and-clear had left him damp under all the weight of his ballistic helmet, plates, and Southface outdoor threads. He cracked a lightstick on, giving it a brief shake before dropping it near the doorway. With another hand on his PRC, he updated the Tactical Ops Centre (TOC) and called in a crew to help with Site Exploitation (SE) and salvage. Breacher was already cracking boxes open with a crowbar and snapping photos of every weapon and warhead serial number that was, by contract rights, theirs. Pointman and Rearguard were already knocking on walls, floorboards, and ceiling panels looking for any hidden compartments.

His backup fireteam was still set on security outside, waiting for a truck and trailer to whisk their salvaged goodies away. In TL's experience, the backup only ever called in to report a sassy civie, a scared suspect hiding in the outhouse, or to ask for a lighter. This had been the case for the platoon's 2 weeks of running Internal Security housecalls on Nordwalder towns behind the front. It came as a surprise to hear backup report that their Rhodellian Liaison had pulled up with some local law enforcement. 

Their Dolch-looking liaison made his way down the steps and into the basement, a grey winter coat going over his flecktarn BDUs. The Rhodellian towered over the rest of the fireteam members, whose average height numbered somewhere between 5'7-5'10. The Dolch blondie was easily 6'4, so he stooped and slouched because of the low ceiling. That might have been impressive, were it not for the fact that the blondie was a Rear-Echelon POG fresh out of school. Unlike most of the Rhodellian combat troops, the young officer had likely not seen action on the front. TL nodded to the Rhodellian, not bothering to salute. One benefit of being a private contractor was that you didn't have to kiss officer ass.

 

"Howsit, POG?", TL greeted. The Rhodellian looked flustered for a moment but didn't acknowledge the petty jab. Instead, the man took a long look at the cache before speaking.

 

"We'll be requisitioning this whole lot for further examination. First time we've seen a cache this big in these parts."

 

Breacher, who had been carefully doing price estimates for the haul's salvage value moved to approach the liaison, a threat plastered on his face. TL stopped him with a palm to his chest. TL looked the Rhodellian in the eye before speaking in a lower voice.

 

"Want it all? Fine. But by salvage rights, it's ours. Read the contract again. The section allows for our employer to do an on-site inspection of the goods, but if you're going to sequester it- that is- move it off the premises where we can't audit it, you'll need to fill this out", TL unlocked his phone and forwarded a hefty sized pdf to the liaison. The officer scrunched his eyebrows as he brought his own phone out and went through the document. TL continued.

 

"That's Form 16F. Based on the terms of the contract, you can sign for it and we'll hand the stuff over on credit. The value would be based on IFC price indices, rounded up. Just sign there at the bottom", the TL smirked. IFC policy in-country was that combat teams had salvage liberties if the contract permitted it. Usually, employers offered salvage options as a means to lower Iberic PMC fees. In this case, the Rhodellian government allowed a rather generous total salvage value. After handling and other fees, IFC personnel involved in the salvage could be paid between 60-80% of the value of seized weapons, munitions, or military equipment pre-approved in a long appendix attached to the contract.


The Rhodellian scrolled on his phone for a few seconds and put on a smile of his own.

 

"I did actually read it. What you're saying is right but you forget, we have a clause here that states- and I'm paraphrasing- that under exigent circumstances, your team can only bill a 16F for the items you've properly documented and entered into the form. Under pressing circumstances of a 'combat area'", the liaison gestured to the 2 dead guys in the corner before continuing.

 

"-necessarily supplemented by orders in pursuant to the fulfilment of your contract, like an urgent WARNO or something similar from your leadership, a representative of your employer can sign an incompletely filed 16F which would bill the employer for whatever items have been filed correctly", the young officer let that sink in for a moment.


Pointman and Rearguard had come down to listen in, leaning on the staircase bannister. TL glanced at them, then at Breacher, who had a slight grimace of apprehension on his face. He remembered that he needed this, they all did. TL pushed that reminder out of his mind. FOB dwelling motherfucker. The liaison spoke again.

 

"Looks to me here like the total your boys have written up is what... $50,000 plus change? Too bad, what do you reckon this is all worth, 150k?", the Rhodellian mused whimsically.

 

"250k", hissed Breacher through gritted teeth. "Look man, half of that goes to the guys who actually worked his site, split 8 ways after the company takes a big cut. I got shit to pay and people that count on this. Fuck you. Pay the estimate", Breacher was seething. He looked just about ready to scalp the guy. TL patted his shoulder and shook his head before turning to regard the Liaison.

 

"Alright, diploma-boy. You know your shit, I'll give you that. The legalese you just rattled off states "necessarily supplemented by orders, etc.". I haven't gotten any. Sounds like you're missing a piece."

 

The Rhodellian regarded the TL passively and slipped a sheaf of papers out of his coat's inner pocket. Wordlessly, he offered them outstretched. TL's hand felt numb as he snatched the papers.

 

The TL knew what it was before he unfolded them. A fucking WARNO. The Rhodellian spoke again.

 

"Came in an hour ago. Orders like these don't go through your TOC, apparently. I thought I'd drop them off while checking up on you. Look, I don't actually enjoy this and be fair, you hotshits started this whole banter and troll thing. I'm just doing my job-"

 

"Eat a dick. Just fucking sign it already", TL interrupted. He started feeling a little queasy.

 

"What? Boss-", Breacher interrupted, voice incredulous. 

 

"Leave it. Nothing we can do, it's from Theatre Ops."

 

Breacher gave him a look. TL wordlessly stomped up the stairs. The team reluctantly followed. 

 

---

 

2015 hrs
11 of May, 2056

 

"That's how the deployment started. Already stank. We needed a payday and assholes plus bad timing put us out on our asses. Tangina, nakakabwist pa rin." I winced as I took another sip of rum. getting shafted doesn't make for a good memory. The young student across the table sagged in his chair.

 

"Woah, if you guys had taken it, that would have been like 22-25k for each of you? I'm guessing that for the 20's that would have been a pretty good haul for a day's work and 2 dead insurgents", the youngster guessed out loud. 

 

"It wasn't just a 'good haul kid'... we needed that", I said.

 

"What do you mean", he sat up a bit straighter, curious.

 

I sighed and downed the glass. 

 

"Look 'ta, most of us grew up in the 90's. Being Indiense back then and from a family of military men, shipbreakers, and welders- well... you needed paydays more then anything. Most of us knew each other since school days. Joined the Tercios together. Once you do a tour or two, the rush of being "a trained killer" gives you ideas. Let's just say we did some stuff that didn't pan out and we had to pay some not-nice people to keep our families safe- and you've seen how big families like mine get, in '22 my brothers and sisters were... what... thereabouts between the ages of 12-18, 'Pa was out of work when a mooring-line accident took his leg. Most of my uncles were either KIA or dead in a gang shooting. Ma and 5 siblings living on Pa's NCO pension and the shitty settlement from his company. They could barely afford rent, food, and power, let alone money to have them relocated with new names. The crew needed money fast, it wasn't just me. 'Breacher' had a kid in the hospital who needed 10k monthly just to keep alive, the rest were in the same nasty deal as me or... well, you get it."

 

The kid was silent for a while.

 

"Damn."

 

"Yeah, not quite like this Empire we live in today eh, kid? Most Argics and Alharuns wishing they could be us with subsidised University education, a good enough salary to start a retirement fund, and a life expectancy topping the charts", I chuckled and poured myself some more. The sounds of the birthday party in the background were fading as guests made their goodbyes. Nobody bothered our little corner of the patio.

 

"So uh- what were those orders? Boubonweir? Why the heck was it so important?", the kid asked.

 

"Slow down, kid, you're contributing to my eventual stroke. Yes, Boubonweir. Forest and mountain country adjacent to Nordwalde but far from the front. No one really paid it much mind, most of the counties there were pretty neutral, mix of Dolch and native that got along okay most times. Problem is, some local militia reported some guys who'd been spotted with a mule carrying mortar rounds and RPG warheads. Unfortunately, the trigger happy idiots killed everyone so we didn't know who they were affiliated with. Everytime the local militia or G-men went to take a look at sightings, all traces would just vanish. Like someone was watching or more likely, leaking their movements to what we guessed was a small cell smuggling shit to and from a cache somewhere in the mountains. Rhodellian forces were all tied up and there was probably a mole amongst the local authorities, so they sent my platoon to go take a look- we were the only ones relatively nearby that were already operating and qualified for mountain long-range recce. It was pretty simple, infiltrate, find some of the sussy fuckers, follow them and report the cache location for the Rhodellians to hit. But, as you may have well heard, it wasn't quite that simple."

 

I allowed a pause, I couldn't help it, building the tension was kind of fun. Before I went on, I had the kid fetch me another bottle and cigar. I'd need those for the rest of the story.

 

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