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The Tamurin Civil War


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(OOC: Yes, your idea is good. If you or anybody else has more of this kind of ideas - just tell. The more, the better. I officially start this RP now. Anyone who wants to join later: Please contact me via PM or via OOC-Message in this topic).

The most important newspaper in the Empire


Our most benevolent Emperor, Jacob Menelassar III., inaugurated the monument of his father, the great George Menelassar I. who died exactly 15 years ago. Our emperor said:

"There has never been a greater man on Earth. He formed the most advanced Empire ever seen on this planet. Our progress is unstoppable and the day when Tamurin will dominate Europa and the world will come. This century will be remembered as the "Century of Tamurin". Knowledge, Technology and the Spirit of Progress and Power are localized and concentrated most in our great nation.

We have to stand united against all threats from within and without. Other Empires, like the old corrupt Byzantinum Empire, are threatening us in a desperate attempt to stop our progress. Byzantinum-led political groups inside our great nation are trying to weaken and divide our country. We cannot let this happen! We have to stand united! Remember the spirit of our people when this great Empire was founded. Honour the name of my father and all your fathers in continueing, what they started."

The speech of the Emperor was followed by cheers, applause and rejoicing.

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:pic: The monument of George Menelassar I.



In the biggest fleet manoeuvre since the founding of our great Empire, the imperial fleet has once again proven that it is the most powerful and advanced Navy in the world.

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:pic: The 5th fleet before departing to the manoeuvre


"Our navy would crush any enemy!" said Admiral von Tarnoff. "Our guns are very precise and our shells will penetrate any armour! Nothing can defeat this great navy."

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:pic: Imperial Cruiser "Tiger", one of the medium-class warships of our navy, personal ship of Admiral von Tarnoff


"One day this great Navy will be seen at all shores of this world. And when this day comes, I will be among a very special shore, looking at the burning ships of a very specific navy..."

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:pic: The imperial naval port Arrabar



The five leaders of the Republican Terrorist Cell "Republican Progress Now", who were captured two days ago trying to place a bomb near the Imperial Palace, have been sentenced to death by shooting. The execution will take place in two days.

The Republican Party, always sympathizing with terrorists, protested, but was overruled by the Upper House.

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Joseph Compronymus, Tagmatine ambassador to Tamurin looked at the Royal Imperial Herald with deepening horror. He had just sat down to his breakfast in the small embassy in Alaghon when the paper had arrived. Being the smallest embassy in Tamurin, owned by a nation that was usually too busy bickering to take much interest in international affairs, it was nearly always quiet. Recently, with the Holy Imperial court swinging to the Marxists, he had been made to aid the rebels, sending them money and what little information came to his ears. With the leaders of rebellion captured and most likely tortured for information, Compronymus knew that the Government of Tamurin must know of his actions. This, diplomat or not, will probably end in the firing squad. Time to go.

A while later, after Compronymus had burnt the relevant documents and packed up, there was a knock at the door. His heart was in his mouth as he crept downstairs and opened the door.

"Yes?" Joseph said to the men, dressed in dark clothes.

"Ambassador Compronymus? Come with us."

It wasn't for several days that anyone noticed his disappearance, as the embassy was off the beaten track. The Holy Empire didn't know until the end of the week. The Court was shocked, and then resolved to do more for the rebels.

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After taking all the information in and waiting for a lull in activity, as was the normal Vanarambaion way of doing things, Emperor Wilson made a speech before the Senate that showed a complex public opinion on the region. The Emperor pledged "neutrality in word and mind and deed," and warned against either side trying to bring the nation in on either side. He went on to condemn the sabre-rattling by the Byzantines and the Tamurins. Later, in a semi-obvious ploy to gain the approval of the Senate, he condemned the deaths of the Republican leaders. He refused to answer questions afterwards about his true position on the matter of the executions. He also pledged that he would aid Tagmatium in finding its wayward ambassador, and not to rush into anything before all the details were on the table. In other news, the Vanarambaion ambassador to Tamurin has been withdrawn, though the embassy remains open.

The Conservatives in the Senate, barely a minority, refused to stand for the Emperor's entrance into the Senate, and a few left the room in the course of the speech. The Emperor has been campaigning against them actively since the last election, when they picked up several key seats.

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In the Imperial Palace

Jacob Menelassar III.: "What about the terrorists?"

Chief of the Secret Police, von Bodewitz: "They're still not talking. They're very into their cause... BUT, I have something good. We got a hint from inside the rebels, that the Tagmatium ambassador helped them. We took him last night and questioned him. He was more...talkative..." >>smiling demonlike<<

Jacob: "Good, but not too impressive. You've been better. Tagmatium and Vanarambaion are acting weird. They smell the weakness in our country. We must crush these rebels like insects. Got that?"

von Bodewitz: "Yes, Excellency. What are your orders then?"

Jacob: "Torture the rebels. There's stuff from the dark ages in that special prison. Use it. Our ancestors were good in inventing stuff that hurts."

von Bodewitz: "Yes, Excellency. And the ambassador?"

Jacob: (without thinking) "Kill him, but it shall look like a terrorist attack. OK? Can you do this?"

von Bodewitz: "Yes, Sir."

TO: Tagmatium
FROM: Jacob Menelassar III.
RE: Condolences

Dear friends,

I'm sorry to tell you that your good and respected ambassador Joseph Compronymus has been killed in a terrorist attack by anarchists. I'm very sorry to tell you this. Joseph Compronymus was a very good man and I think that he'd have contributed very much to improve the relations between our two peoples.

Jacob Menelassar III.,

Emperor of the Great Empire of Tamurin

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To: Jacob Menelassar III
From: Tagmatium
Re: Condolences

We were shocked to hear of the death at the hands of the rebels our ambassador, and we are honoured at the condolences of the great Empire of Tamurin. We hope the rebels are swiftly crushed by your glorious Imperial forces.

"Damnit! They found him, didn't they!" Strategos Carus bellowed. He was the man who was chief puppet-master of the Holy Emperor, Basil II.

"They put it down to rebel action, my lord." Patriarch Gordian answered.

"Of course they would. They would hardly admit we were sponsoring rebels and giving them information, least of all killing a diplomat." Carus sighed. "We need to find a replacement for him soon."

"Better yet, my lord, if the rebels show themselves, we could properly aid them."

"If it goes wrong, priest, the right-wingers will be all over us."

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To: Jacob Menelassar III
From: Reichskanzler Monash

Greetings exalted one, news of your execution of rebels has just reached us, and we congratulate you.

With soldierly decision and exemplary courage, Tamurin must crush the traitors and murderers. That is why Niederoestereich wishes to form a greater bond with the Imperialistic government. Please, allow us to send a delegation of diplomats to Alaghon to discuss embassy establishment.

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King Phil II sends best wishes to his cousin Emporer Jacob Menelassar III, I am pleased you are not as weak as some of the so-called royal family of Europa are becoming in these modern times. The modern world calls for more decisive leaders, Leaders who Lead, as opposed to letting the people set themselves up as rulers. If this trend continues what will happen to the world? It will collapse as the people who have had no training for it kill their countries, kill the world. We were born to rule, we have been trained from birth to rule, do you not think this makes us the best qualified?

These ''Republican'' terrorists must be dealt with all over Europa, before long they will be suggesting that women have the intellect to work for a days wage next, and what will the world come to then! These upstarts must be dealt with as soon as possible, before they get the chance to brainwash the population with their 'power to the people' rubbish. Nip them in the Bud I say, and I congratulate Menelassar III on his fine catch.

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TO: Reichskanzler Monash, Niederoesterreich
FROM: Jacob Menelassar III.
RE: Establishment of Embassy

Greetings, exalted one.

We are happy to meet a familiar soul in Europa these times. Anarchic scum, calling itself "Republicans" and "Democrats", is coming out of the dark where it should get back sooner than later.

We are happy to welcome you to our country as soon as you wish.

Best wishes,
The Emperor

TO: Phil II
FROM: Your cousin Jacob
RE: Thank you, my cousin, for your support

Greetings, my good cousin.

I'm very glad to have your support in these rough times. Emperor and Kings everywhere are backing down and giving rights to these people. I can't do that. I forced my brother out of the palace when he did so...

Let us make a pact: Not one of us will back down to these "progressive politicians". We will keep our empires clean from this disease, until the times get better and our way of doing things will be appreciated.

I'd love to see you again. I hope, both our schedules will allow that sometime soon. I miss Philengrad and its beautiful countryside...

Best wishes to you,


TO: Tagmatium, Strategos Carus
FROM: James Menelassar, Republican Party
RE: New things

Dear friends,

I'm sorry to hear that our friend and ally Joseph Compronymus was killed. As we know it, he was captured and tortured by the Secret Police, before he was killed.

This set-back cannot stop us. We heard, that a delegation of Niederoesterreich will come into the country. We are preparing something for this "event". It'd be wise for your people to have a good explanation, why they can't be there.

Best wishes,



Today, the five leaders of the terrorist cell "Republican Progress Now" were executed.

The Imperial Party and the Upper House received the message with joy, while the so-called Republican "democrats" called it a "bad day for Tamurin and for the peace inside our country".

After a very anarchic statement, the Upper House advised the Lower House, that the Republicans should be watched more carefully and maybe should be forbidden, because "terrorists seem to have growing support within their ranks".

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The afternoon sun shone through the curtains to the room of the leader of Imperial Intelligence. Askanios, the II leader was staring out of the window. Opposite the building across the street people were enjoying the gentle weather by sunbathing (modestly of course) or taking a stroll in the Park of Theodosius. Here and there were groups of people discussing with each other. The subject in almost every conversation would be easy to predict: the Grand Exhibition of the Arts. The exhibition had just started in Konstantinopoli with dozens of new plays in opera and theatre, many concerts and lots of other visual and audio art in every part of the city.

All this was however far away from Askanios's thoughts. As someone knocked to the door of his office he sapped himself out of the trancelike state he had been while staring out of the window.

"Come in." He said loudly to the knocker. The door opened and four other men stepped inside. Askanios greeted them all by shaking their hands and asked them to sit.

As all the men had found their seats one of them put several newspaper clips and other documents in front of the II leader who started to shuffle through them.

"Our "friends" in Tamurin have been busy, sire. They even caught Tagmatine ambassador after foiling our plans to get rid of their Emperor."

"And our agent? Did he get caught?"

"Nay, sire. He was able to escape from the ambush where the rebels aiding him got caught. Unfortunately, he later ran to soldier patrol and was shot to death. Tamurinians must have mistaken him as one of the rebels or he'd be tortured for information just now instead of being dead."

"Hmmh. Poor guy. Anyway, contact Tagmatine ambassador in Konstantinopoli and ask if he could meet with me soon.

"Immediately, Sire."

"Good. Do not disturb me with anything before tomorrow. I promised to go to see Aeneid with my wife tonight and she'll kill me if I leave there."

At the opposite side of the city in the Imperial Navy HQ one man did not approve Tamurinian actions.

"To hell with those Tamurinians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First, they mock us with their naval display and then they dare to write such crap in the newspaper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" The Grand Admiral Johannes Komnenus raged while walking across the room to the other black-uniformed men who were playing card around the only table in the little room.

"Calm down Komnenus, just take a seat and play." The other men replied in a chorus as Komnenus was well-known for his outbursts. The Grand Admiral sat in the remaining free seat and took the cards that were dealt to him. He did not, however, calm down.

"We should at least do something to show those...."

"It's already taken care of. We will prepare a Grand naval parade. Emperor himself will be watching and we intend to greet him with almost all of our ships not in colonial seas." the admiral left to Komnenus said.

"Ahh, okay. That should show them that our navy is not a pushover!!"

The high navy officers then continued playing with a somewhat relaxed atmosphere.

(OOC: Sorry about the rough language. I am not trying to offend you personally Tam.)

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Stategos Carus paced the small office, dictating a message to the secretary sitting at the desk.

"To my great friend and ally, Jacob Menelassar III, glorious Emperor of Tamurin. I am very much saddened that to tell you that our new representative in your noble country will not be able to attend any forthcoming events for a while," he paused to light a cigar and continued. "As the previous occupant of the Embassy left so hurriedly, there is a lot of paperwork and the like to clear up before he can continue with his normal duties. Got all that? No, don't put that in, I was saying it to you. Yours through these troubling times, Strategos Carus of Tagmatium, from the mouth of Holy Emperor Basil II."

There was a knock at the door, and one Carus's aides came in.

"My lord, the arms shipment is ready." The man told Carus.

"The Enfield .303s? Good. Send them the usual way, and make sure they are not intercepted. We, and the Republicans, can't afford it. This would give those damned Imperialists an excuse to have my head."

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The anarchic Republican terrorists have assaulted the meeting between our beloved Emperor Jacob Menelassar III. and the diplomatic delegation of Niederoesterreich!

When both groups met at the harbour in Arrabar, several men standing in the crowd, at least five, drew revolvers and opened fire upon the officials. At least three other men on roofs around the crowd opened fire with rifles.

The Emperor is unharmed and was able to escape. His personal guard shot three of the anarchists and overpowered two.

But three Lords were killed, seven were wounded. The delegation of Niederoesterreich lost at least two men. Their identity is unknown to us.

This proves clearly, that these "Republicans" are just spreading terror and death. We have to stand up and fight them now! Let's unite against this disease from within!

Our Emperor, minutes after the failed assault: "I will crush this scum!"


-- An illegal newspaper, appearing irregularly at different locations in all major cities --

The Republican Forces have shown what they're capable of! Today we killed three Lords, three of the cruellest and most brutal men in Tamurin. Each of them is suppressing his people with almost no civil rights, but many taxes and brutal labour laws. They deserved to die, they didn't care a damn about their people!

This time we missed Jacob Menelassar III., but next time he won't be so lucky.

We also stopped the "talks" between the two Empires of Niederoesterreich and Tamurin. We have to unite all Republican forces and end the reign of the Imperialists in our nation and our region.

Republic! Freedom!

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Sketchy reports are filtering through morse code wireless that at least two diplomats have lost their lives on a peaceful mission.

Their agenda for today was to meet the Emperor of Tamurin at Arrabar Harbour then inland for talks, information at hand claims that it may be the work of the Republican scum. Possible coming from the crowd to kill the Tamurin leader.

Reports are still arriving and we may not know the full story for days.

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To: Tamurin Empire
From: Niederoestereich
Subject: Crush the Peasants

News has by now reached us about the apparent death of diplomats at the hands of republican traitors. Our stance on our involvement of Tamurin has not waned, although we do wish that greater steps be taken to crush your vermin problem.

News of your Emperors escape of brings a warm feeling to our hearts.


Open Letter in the Newspaper to Tamurin Republicans

Dear Scum of the Earth,

You have killed some of our own blood and flesh, when you strike at our diplomats, you strike at a whole nation. Be careful where you tread, and if your path happens to stray anywhere near our homelands, you will find that this Nation will hunt you down to the last, nowhere will be safe.

Reichskanzler Monash

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(OOC: I was waiting for an inflammatory statement from one of the powers. I think I just got it..)

William Wilson, Emperor of Vanarambaion gave a last bit of hope for peace in the region when he sent out an invitation to all interested parties to hold peace talks in Thule, our capital. Once interested parties have been put together, we will commence talks on the subject of peace and rights in Tamurin. He was very confident, as usual, that the nations of Europa would answer his call quickly: "God is on our side -- how can we go wrong?"

In other news, with election time nearing, the Emperor has commenced a whistle-stop campaign throughout Vanarambaion to stop efforts by Republicans within Vanarambaion from gaining seats in the Vanaramabaion Parliament, a move that could give them majorities in both houses. "Republicanism is akin to Satanism...we cannot morally sit here while those heretics take over the Senate!"

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King Phil II has launched a scathing attack on the Emporer of Vanarambaion, in a statement given today he said that Wilson was a traitor to the royal cause for even thinking about holding talks with the Republican Scum. (OOC: hehehe, now I feel like I'm some sort of Dark Jedi.) These people cannot be stopped by words, they will continue to kill and maim until they have destroyed the very basis of our Monarchistic society. Wilson should be ashamed of himself for such talks.

King Phil II himself has embarked on talks with his cousin Emperor Jacob Menelassar III about launching a regionwide ''war on republic terror'', to root out the people who seek to destroy our way of life and are capable of committing such heinous acts as the assassination of several Tamurin and Niederoestereich officials last week.

Talks will be held to decide what to do about rumoured republican terrorist cells setting up recruitment and training camps in unclaimed territory in the central peninsula, and about the several republican terrorists currently held in Philian prisons after being arrested last week following a tip-off from one of our spies.

May Phil watch over you all, signing off…

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Today the might of the Byzantine Navy was revealed to all as the whole home fleet sailed past the harbour of Konstantinopoli. The long line of massive ships with determined and skilful crews proves to anyone that the Byzantine navy has no equal.

Especially the pride and joy of our glorious navy, the two brand new super-dreadnoughts Seraph and Cherub will crush anything that opposes them. The men of our Navy with over thousand years of naval tradition and countless naval victories will not fear anything.

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:pic: BSS Cherub


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:pic: BSS Seraph

(OOC: Nothing too outrageous, just two more heavily armed and armoured Dreadnoughts, Brits had a couple of these prior to WWI.)

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(OOC: @Haken: Yeah, if you wanna join our historical group... tongue.gif @rest: Great! Now it's time for some action!)



After the recent terrorist attack on the emperor and diplomats from Niederoesterreich, Emperor Jacob Menelassar III. initiated a nationwide campaign against the republican scum.

"We have to unite our people once again and get rid of this disease, this cancer that is killing us from within," he said. "Also, we owe it to the dead and to our friends in Niederoesterreich. I talked to my cousin Phil II. and he wishes to help us. This alliance of the Emperors shows how powerful our resolve is. The republican scum will face the end of its mission, once and for all!"


On another note: The Byzantine fleet was parading today. There were claims of hundreds of ships passing the harbour of Konstantinopoli. Tamurin observers found out that many ships passed the parading zone at least twice. That means that the Byzantine fleet is at best half as big as it has shown.

Also, the so-called "best battleships in the world", the Cherub and Seraph, were not very impressive. They compare with a medium-class cruiser of the Tamurin Navy.

"This shows that our Navy is already the best in the world. The Byzantine navy has a tradition of more than 1000 years, but it's stuck some dozen years in the past." a naval intelligence officer told us.



The totalitarian system has once again proven its true nature. In all cities across the nations, people are imprisoned and interrogated to find the ones whose mission is to implement freedom in our nation.

Is this really the country you want to live in? One where you can't talk, do or think what you want? Imagine a nation, where everybody is equal before God and the law - where your view of things is not pursued or forbidden, but allowed and welcome! This could be our Tamurin.

Help us to get rid of the Lords. Help us create the Republic of Tamurin!

(OOC: This is what's really happening: Imperial secret-police is searching for Republicans all over the nation using Gestapo-methods. Intelligence reports indicate mass-imprisonments and massive human rights violations. Until now, there haven't been any executions, but they can be expected. The efforts are concentrated on the medium-sized city of Avid. The Imperials think that the centre of the Republican resistance is there.)

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From: Akiiryan Baronic Council
To: Byzantine Government

Our military observers noted with interest your naval parade yesterday, especially the newly constructed Seraph and Cherub. The Prince has expressed interest in signing a naval treaty with you. He proposes a treaty which would allow shipping from our two great nations to benefit from the protection of each others' fleets in our spheres of influence and an exchange of naval officers so that each nation might learn the skills and protocols of the other.

If this is acceptable to the Byzantine Government we would welcome a visit from Byzantine naval vessels, lead by either the Seraph or Cherub, to the Samae Naval Base for the signing of the treaty. The visit would be repaid in future by a capital ship and escorts from the Akiiryan South Seas Naval squadron.

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Emperor Wilson indignantly blasted Phil II today after Phil's blatant attack on the Emperor. Lumping Phil in with the Republicans he was campaigning against, Wilson blasted the "self-centred-ness of foreign and domestic politicians with no regard to the peace of the region and the betterment of all...may you have a fiery place in Hell, blasphemous heretics!" (OOC: And you wondered why we're the HOLY Confederacy... laugh.gif ) Republicans have been silent as to the Emperor's attacks, and public opinion is divided as to the merit of the accusations.

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Phil II was filled with Rage on hearing of the Vanarambain Emperor's insinuations against his motives and his stance as a whole.

''This proves my point entirely, Emperor Wilson is a weak-willed man, he campaigns against the Republic Scum in his own country, but has not the resolve to do something about it, and offers the terrorists a peace deal. These Republicans, trying to take our God Given right of the throne away from us, and the apparently 'Holy' Emperor offers them a peace talk.

We will offer Emporer Wilson another chance to came back in our fight against terror, but if he continues to talk peace with the terrorists, we would be better off without him at our side, there will be no peace until the dissident Republicans have all been put down to the dirt they crawled up from.''

(OOC, heh, infighting within the imperial camp before it's even started then...)

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On the recovery from a particularly nasty bout of gastric 'flu, Strategos Carus was dismayed to hear the news which had filtered out of Tamurin over the last few days.

"So, its taken a turn for the worst, has it?" Carus sighed. "If the Republicans are going to have to fight against an army, the least we can do is give them decent training."

"Sir?" The aide looked rather worried. "How are we going to do that?"

"By sending one of our best, and more to the point, loyal, units to train them. Bring me the Lieutenant Colonel Commenus. His Imperial Guard battalion will do. I plan to send them to Tamurin to train the rebels."

To: Republican Leaders
From: Tagmatine friends
Re: Training

Accompanying this message is the 3rd Battalion of Guards. It is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Commenus, one of the most trustworthy men in Tagmatium. More to the point, he is an ardent Socialist, so is the perfect man to help you. His Guardsmen are to help in training the men under your command.

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TO: Tagmatium
FROM: Republicans
RE: Training

Dear friends,

Your offer arrives in our darkest and most desperate hour. We are deeply thankful for your offer. The Imperial Government has taken drastic steps against us. If we don't fight back, our whole cause may be dead within the week. We need someone to organize and train us.

We'll gladly accept Lt. Col. Commenus as our training commander. We still have a few friends within the ranks of the police and the military and we will be able to get him through the checkpoints.

Best wishes,
James Menelassar (former Emperor)

(OOC: Still the same. The Imperials have found some command posts of the rebels near Avid and are concentrating their search there.)

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To: Jacob Menelassar III.
From: Jef van Hantwaarpen, Grand Duke of Rider

It has come to our attention that a few simple-minded citizens are trying to bring unrest to your great nation with their misguided ideals. We have noticed this across the whole of Europa, it has even infected our Grand Duchy of Rider. Some weak governments have fallen under their aggression and for their wrong ideas. But this surely is just a period that shall pass; at the end, the true and most powerful rulers of this region shall have pure blood streaming through our veins. We, Jef van Hantwaarpen, offer you full support against this vermin.

(OOC: In fact, Jef van Hantwaarpen is a weak ruler, who already have caved in for countless social laws. His government is too weak to withstand a revolution and his powers are restricted.)

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Information that can be gathered using intelligence:

  • Street-fighting between Imperial Soldiers and Republican Rebels has begun in Avid. At least 100 rebels are defending themselves against a whole regiment (3000 soldiers) of the Imperials.
  • The centre of the city is held by the rebels. They're surrounded and don't have any way to escape. The fighting is hard and fierce. Until now, "only" small arms and machine guns are used.
  • The Imperials are ordering their special forces, the 1st Army Corps (5 divisions, each 10.000 men) under the command of General von Steinburg (an ancestor of the current von Steinburg) to Avid to crush the rebellion. They estimate that more than 1000 rebel soldiers are hiding in Avid or in the area around the city.
  • The 1st Army Corps consists of 3 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division and 1 artillery division. Heavy weapons will be introduced into the fighting in Avid.



Rebels have opened fire upon our own people! This shows clearly, that they're enemies of our great nation and controlled by outsiders!

We have friends all over Europa. One example is the message I got from my good friend Jef van Hantwaarpen, the Grand Duke of Rider. The Republicans are talking, that we don't have any friends left - this is another lie of their big bag full of lies!

The Republican Party has not condemned the acts of terrorism by the republican rebels! They're showing sympathy - openly!

Because of this treachery, I'm banning the Republican Party. All members are to be imprisoned and shall face a trial because of their treachery! The leaders of the Party will most likely face the sentence of death - and they deserve it.

Never again shall a un-tamurinian party enter the parliament!

For the Empire! The Lords are destined to rule!

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Breaking News: Emperor Wilson suffered a stroke today while in the middle of one of his whistle-stop speeches. He is being rushed to the capital of Thule as fast as is safe to carry him.

Breaking News: In what turned into a landslide beating, the Republicans captured both houses of the Vanarambaion Parliament. The new executive, Prime Minister Van Helsing, Sr. was appointed Acting Emperor until such time as Emperor Wilson recovers. Van Helsing is expected to move toward war with Tamurin over their Republican crisis.

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      “Why the f*ck are we here?”
      “Can you expand on that question?”
      “Okay… Why are the fourteen of us out here in the middle of bumf*ck nowhere, spending our entire afternoon rucking up and down all these steep-ass hills in full gear?”
      “Well... That’s easy, Jung. Somewhere, in this…” he looks around to see that he is no longer surrounded by the beautiful vistas of Nordwalde’s hills, just a long-disused campsite and the densely packed trees and foliage of an unnamed forest “...beautiful expanse of Rhodellian countryside, a bunch of Native Aurelian Liberation Army assholes are up to no good. Our job and patriotic duty as soldiers of the Rhodellian Army is to hunt them down and f*ck ‘em up for daring to trespass on our territory. Ideally before they do something nasty.” 
      “I know that’s our mission, but I mean... I was asking about the reasons why we’re doing all this shit in the first place. Like, what’s the rationale behind this whole war anyway? Has it ever hit you that this entire thing’s been going on since way before any of us were born?”
      “Did you fail history class, or is National Service the first time you’ve crawled out from under your rock since the Cambrian period?”
      “Nah, dude.” Jung chuckles, “It’s just that, I swear to God, my grandpa patrolled through this exact same ASR and stopped in this exact same picnic area while hunting for NALA insurgents back in the Sixties. And maybe his grandpa before that too.”
      “Well, Jung…” Schäfer rubs his mouth as he tries to think up a satisfactory answer “This land of ours is a diverse and multicultural one. Rhodellia’s only like what, 89,000 square kilometres? Yet, within these tiny borders of ours, for thousands of years, hundreds of different peoples and cultures have been living in and dying over the same patch of dirt. You’ll see evidence of that painted across almost every cave wall in the country. As for us Rhodellians and the f*ckheads in the Native Aurelian Liberation Army... We just happen to be the latest generation of retards bleeding over who gets to call this land rightfully ‘theirs’. And for NALA, who still haven't gotten over colonialism, sharing was never an option.”
      “So which side do you think is in the right, Schäfer?”
      “In the opinion of this conscript, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. None of that shit’s worth caring about. Not to me at least.” Schäfer shrugs his shoulders. He turns his head to admire the trees and shrubbery around him. “I live here. I like living here. And I can’t be arsed to move out. If anyone has a problem with that, they can talk to the business end of my rifle.”
      “So who do you think is in the right anyway?” 
      “Jung, I could write you a whole f*cking essay on the damn thing.” Schäfer removes his helmet to inspect the camouflage paint on its NVG plate “But again, that’d be a pointless-as-f*ck exercise.”
      Jung shrugs, supposing that Schäfer wants to change the subject.
      “Alright, I guess…”
      “Let me ask you a question, Jung.”
      “Hit me with it.”
      “Why do you think this country is still called ‘Rhodellia’ and not something more... Native Aurelian-sounding? Why are we still here?”
      “Just to suffer?” Jung smiles to himself. A few nearby squad members overhear the two and start cracking up, also recognising the reference. Schäfer chuckles, acknowledging that he set himself up for that.
      “Yeah, that’s one reason Goodsprings has us rucking through the countryside today. But that's not exactly the answer I'm looking for.”
      “Uh…” Jung pauses to think of an articulate (or at least smart-sounding) answer “Because of the rule of law? Legally speaking, Schäfer, our country must own the rights to these lands.” He sweeps his finger across the forest around him  “And a good chunk of the international community agrees with that. By most counts, the Rhodellian government in Friedrichstadt is considered the ‘legitimate government’ who exercises sovereignty over this territory. That, and because the N-A-L-A is a violent-as-f*ck terrorist organisation with one hell of a grudge. I swear to God, bro, those psychos will try to genocide all the white people the moment they step foot in our government offices.”
      Schäfer nods a few times.
      “A good answer, Jung. But that’s only part of the story.” He breathes in and out as he tries to collect his thoughts and think of what to say next “In the opinion of this conscript... it’s mostly because we are capable of superior violence, and NALA is not. It doesn’t matter how many articles some self-hating, guilt-tripping, latte-slurping liberal hippie ethnic minority-cocksucker publishes on their blog...”
      Every nearby squad members squad smiles. Even its two Native Aurelian members are trying to contain their laughter in keeping with noise discipline. Schäfer continues.
      “Those self-righteous pseudo-intellectual assholes can screech into the void all they want about social justice, native land rights, and how our country’s entire existence is technically an illegal occupation of stolen land. But in the opinion of this conscript, all of that shit’s irrelevant. So long as the Rhodellian government has tanks, fighter jets, and the continued will to fight, it doesn’t matter how much other people b*tch and complain about us being here. We’re not budging off this land. And that’s that.”
      “Can’t you come up with a better justification than ‘Right of conquest’ or ‘Might makes right’? What’s next, Schäfer? The f*cking ‘discovery doctrine’?”
      “Maybe.” Schäfer shrugs while readjusting the camo netting and foliage secured by his helmet band “This country is imperialist to the core, and we’re too proud of that to let go.”
      Jung shrugs as well. He shifts his attention to the squad medic, Corporal John Mark ‘Doc’ Garcia, who’s applying some kind of cream to the foot of someone from Fire Team Charlie. As physically fit as all able-bodied Rhodellians are legally mandated to be under the Spartan Protocol, Jung supposes that not everyone’s an avid hiker. He supposes that near-non-stop marching across several-dozen miles of hilly terrain while hauling over 100 lb of gear is starting to take its toll on some of his squadmates. He looks down at his own combat boots, and wriggles his toes to revive the blood flow to his feet.
      “Okay… Next question: Why, in his infinite wisdom, is Goodsprings making us do this whole search-and-destroy mission on foot? If I'm going to be illegally occupying rightful Native Aurelian clay, I'd at least like to do it in an armoured vehicle with air conditioning.” Jung frowns, referring to his battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Emory Schreiber. Schreiber’s callsign is ‘Goodsprings’, after the starting location of his favourite video game. 
      “Just for f*cking once, man, I just wish that motherf*cker would give us a mission with non-retarded orders, orders that won’t put us all in unnecessary danger, or at least won't make us expend more effort than needed. I mean, you saw the motorpool back at Bergenstein, right?”
      “What about it?”
      “We’ve got a shitload of perfectly good APCs and other armoured utility vehicles back at base. Plenty of helicopters too. Despite that, Command just had us dropped outside the AO and told us to f*cking hoof it the rest of the way. Can’t we cover more ground more quickly if we actually had some transportation?”
      “I can think of a few reasons.” Schräfer unfolds his map, spreads it across the picnic bench, and beckons Jung to look closer. Schäfer plants his finger on a single carriageway roughly 500 metres to the east of their current position. On Rhodellian military maps of the AO, that specific road is called ‘MSR Spirytus’; it’s a common route for supply trucks delivering supplies up north to Camp Bergenstein from the nearby city of Schwarzwald. 
      “Whatcha got?” Jung leans closer, resting his arm on the picnic bench for support.
      “Ride in an APC, and our movement will stay restricted to the roads, and our sight will be confined to what we can see from those roads. That, and the enemy can more easily anticipate our movements. They’re more likely to prepare an ambush for convoys driving down a main road than for random dismounted conscript squads chasing animal trails in the surrounding hills. Logistics vehicles are way juicier targets. You get to shoot people AND get piles of neat shit out of it.”
      “And the helicopters?” Jung looks up at the overcast sky, imagining himself manning a rotary machine gun, spraying streams of 7.62×51mm tracer rounds into the woods below as Ride of the Valkyries blares from the Bluetooth loudspeakers he recently ordered online. He looks ahead to see Schäfer looking up as well, correctly guessing that he’s imagining the same thing. 
      “Well…” Schäfer snaps from his daydream “This whole operation is supposed to be kind of a secret, stealthy one… Only BCT headquarters, Intel, and our battalion knows why we’re really out here. For all the rest of the wurld knows, we're just on a regular training exercise. The enemy might not know that we’re aware of their presence. If they see random Rhodellian Army dismounts like us walking across the hills, they might just think I’m a lost butterbar leading my men while failing at LandNav, and let us pass out of pity. All without suspecting a damn thing.” he then points up at the sky “But if we ride in with helicopters, searchlights, and Wagner playing, that just screams that we’re on to them. And they’ll escape by hiding in one of the local woods where we can't see them with binoculars or thermals. If we’re especially unlucky, they might even shoot us down for shits and giggles. At least that’s Goodspring’s logic.“
      “Fair enough.” Jung shrugs. “You know, I get that commissioned officers tend to see things from a radically different perspective than the grunts under their command, but… uh…  sometimes, I swear to God, the bars they graduate with at officer school must be prime breeding grounds for dementia-inducing brain parasites.”
      “I sure f*cking hope they're not.” Schäfer sighs.
      “I mean, where else would our COs get their advanced retardation from?”
      “You know, I actually want to enroll in Gottesberg Military Academy after I do my Masters', grab a commission, and make a difference out here.”
      “When you do, please, for the love of God, don’t be the kind of douchebag who prioritises petty workplace politics and career-climbing over the mission and well-being of the men under his command. The Rhodellian military's already got more than enough of those.”
      “I’ll try to get my priorities straight.”
      “Christ… You know, Goodspring’s actually a really good guy in person and all, but what turns a well-meaning Rhodellian into something like that anyway?”
      “I dunno. Some ‘Sword of Damocles’ shit?”
      “F*ckin’ Goodsprings, man.” Jung shakes his head.
      “Alright…” Schäfer pats Jung on the shoulder before removing his rucksack “You can go back to your team now. Tell them what's up. Meanwhile…” he exhales as he unzips a side pocket, retrieves a pack of baby wipes, and starts heading towards the campsite's public toilets “I gotta go take a shit.”
      “Aight.” Jung nods before rejoining his team. 
      Fire Team Alpha is busy gathering pieces of foliage with their bayonets, using breezes of wind and leaf rustles to mask their sound, when their team leader returns to them.
      “What it is, hoes?” Jung takes off his helmet and starts comparing the shape and colour of the local plants with those already attached to his uniform. He opts to start swapping them out.
      Alpha’s automatic rifleman, Private Garrick Wolff, rubs his fatigued eyes with his sleeve.
      “Hey, Jung.”
      “Yeah, Wolff?” 
      “We’ve been rucking for like… almost five hours now. Where the f*ck even are those NALA infiltrators we’re supposed to be looking for?”
      “F*ck if anyone knows, dude.”
      “With four companies of soldiers patrolling the AO on foot, you’d think at least one squad would’ve run into them by now. The AO ain’t even that big.”
      “Think about it this way, Wolff: every square meter of ground we cover is one less they could be hiding in.”
      Wolff shakes his head, feeling even more tired “That’s… still a lot of ground left that our squad needs to cover…” 
      “Then think about it this way, man. Every step we take is one step closer to us kicking the absolute shit of them for making us waste such a fine afternoon.”
      “I guess...” Wolff shuts his eyes for a brief few moments, stewing in bitterness and rage, imagining all the creative ways he could take revenge on the NALA infiltrators for making him leave his room “Bro, I could be playing Warzone right now… I swear, I’m finna scalping each and every one of them. No cap.”
      “Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy.” Jung smiles as he cuts some leaves off a bush he knows is not poisonous “Let the hate flow through you!”
      “Goddamnit.” Wolff laughs. The thought of scalping fellow human beings brought another question to his mind, this time addressed to one of the two Native Aurelians in the squad. He also happens to be Alpha’s rifleman.
      “Yo, Wickwash.”
      ‘Wickwash’ is the nickname for Fire Team A’s rifleman, Private Puhihwikwasu'u Geldfeld. Despite being half-Native Aurelian, he’s proud of his mother’s native heritage but ashamed of his Dolchic surname. When he first introduced himself, he asked his squadmates to use his forename instead; they all respected his wish without question. Problem was, most of them kept mispronouncing it. The squad eventually shortened his name to ‘Wickwash’ after watching him snuff out a row of lit candles with his rifle.
      “Sup.” Wickwash nods up.
      “Aside from being half-Dolchic, ironic as that is for you, you’re basically a Native Aurelian in every way, right?”
      “Nʉmʉnʉʉ.” He corrects Jung. At least in Rhodellia, Native Aurelians prefer to be known by their specific tribal affiliation instead of a generic term. “And f*ckin’ A I am. What about it, you cream-faced, culture-destroying, genocide-happy Dolchic coloniser?”
      “So I’ve been wondering, bro… When you started your National Service, you signed up to be an infantryman, right?”
      “Yeah, dude. What does that have to do with me being from one of The Tribes?”
      “So when you wanted to become a rifleman, you knew full-well that you’d be sent up North to Nordwalde... to help The White Man, er... slaughter your fellow Native Aurelians, lay waste to their cities, and re-colonise your ancestral lands?”
      “Man, I don’t get why all you white people keep lumping us all together like that.” Wickwash smiles as he inspects his newly re-camouflaged helmet, puts it back on, and examines his head's increasingly certainly-not-human outline in the mirror.  “Not every shithead in the N-A-L-A is from my tribe, so it ain’t like I’m specifically out to kill my own people. I just came out here to scalp some motherf*ckers, maybe earn an eagle feather or two, and go home to watch some anime. You feel me?”
      “Yeah, I feel you, bro.”
      “And just as we overheard Sarge saying 10 mikes ago: we’ve been smoking each other long before any of your pasty asses first set foot on this continent. Heck, even after Dolchic settlers came along, my ancestors accepted your state-of-the-art muskets, your fancy carbon steels, and your dirty blood money in exchange for scalps claimed from other tribes.” Wickwash nods, grinning. "And damn, were we f*cking good at getting those!"
      “That’s hardcore.”
      “Hell yeah it was! And three-hundred years later…” he flourishes his bayonet and taps on the tactical tomahawk on his belt. He shakes his head and smiles in reassurance to his Dolchic squadmate “That time-honoured tradition ain’t dying with me, bro.”
      Private John Adebayo, Alpha’s grenadier, budges closer to Jung, Wolff, and Wickwash. He’s a second-generation immigrant who has neither Dolchic nor Native Aurelian blood in him. 
      “And it’s all thanks to that tribalistic attitude that The Dolch managed to divide-and-conquer the shit out of your lands. I know how you feel, brother. That aside, don't you guys have any sense of Native Aurelian solidarity?”
      Wickwash hands Adebayo some spare vegetation, which Adebayo heartily accepts and adds to his combat webbing.
      “I’m a Rhodellian first. Nʉmʉnʉʉ second. Native Aurelian third.” Wickwash shrugs.
      “And that brings us to the wonderful f*cking SNAFU we have today...” Adebayo chuckles as he uses a mirror to help gauge the new changes to his equipment’s leafier, grassier, and increasingly inhuman outline.
      “It really do be like that, dawg.”
      Seeing the lull in the conversation, Wolff re-inserts himself into it.
      “So yeah, Wickwash, what anime are you watching at the moment?”
      “Right now, back at the base?”
      “So I’m watching this long-running Rhavan anime called ‘Now I’m here, now I’m gone.’ It’s just been rebooted with a whole new animation studio. So I’m trying to get up to date with the eleven seasons that came before it, so I can compare the original anime with the new one.”
      “Jesus Christ. Eleven f*cking seasons? Just how many episodes is that?”
      “Around 270ish episodes, not counting filler episodes or the reboot. I’m binge-watching the original seasons while waiting for the next episode of the reboot to come out. I just finished Episode 172 this morning after chow, and I’m telling you bro…” he smacks his lips “This shit’s A-grade classic material, dude.”
      Taken aback by the episode count, a long whistle filters through Wolff’s mouth.
      “What’s the anime about? I only see episode counts like that from long-running Shounen anime.”
      “Well, allow me to subvert your f*cking expectations, my guy.” Wickwash chuckles as straps his helmet back on. “It’s actually not a Shounen. No power-ups, jutsus, bankais, stands, or anything like that. It’s a drama show with romance and stuff. Like a... live-action soap opera, but animated. We can watch the first episode when we get back to base.”
      “Damn, bro. From all your talk about doing hardcore shit, like scalping motherf*ckers and keeping their heads as trophies, I’d never have thought you were into that kind of anime.”
      “Eh, they’re nice to watch once in a while.” Wickwash shrugs “Even for us Rhodellians, there’s gotta more to life than just violence, right?”
      “Wickwash, my friend… I can not believe that beneath that blood-crazed ice-cold warrior exterior of yours, you’re actually a massive f*cking faggot holy shit!”
      The whole team bursts into laughter. Wolff continues once it dies down.
      “So should we start with the earlier seasons first, or do we start with the reboot?”
      Wickwash pauses in thought before nodding a few times.
      “Yeah, we can start with the reboot. It basically follows the original story, but with nicer-looking visuals. You can watch the original in your own time.”
      “Sounds cool to me, bro.” Wolff nods as he opens his mirror, noticing that perspiration has caused some of his face paint to fade. “F*ck, man. I gotta redo my face again. My skin's shinier than f*cking silver.”
      Having already finished repainting his face, Wickwash tosses a pack of tissues and his own face paint kit to Wolff. While Wolff's busy, Wickwash continues the conversation with Jung and Adebayo. 
      “How about you, Jung? You watching any good anime either?”
      “Nah, dude.” Jung shakes his head as he finishes redoing his camouflage, and very carefully takes a sip from his canteen to avoid accidentally washing away his new coat of face paint. “I don't have the patience to sit all the way through a single 24-minute episode nowadays, so I just read manga and webcomics whenever I feel like it.”
      “Like what?”
      “Well, for starters, there’s this Kirvinian one I’m reading called ‘Like In Those Days’...”
      Upon hearing Jung mention that last title, Adebayo perks his head up.
      “Hey, I’ve been reading that one too!”
      “No shit.” Jung chuckles, “Your patrician taste never fails to impress me, bro.”
      Adebayo and Jung bump fists and start talking about the newest chapter.
      “Nice.” Wickwash nods, trying not to get left out of the conversation “So what’s it about?”
      Adebayo takes it from there, raising his bayonet for a flashy performance.
      “It’s a story set in a fantasy version of 16th-century Aurelia…” he shuffles backwards, creating a safer distance between himself and his fellow teammates. With the grace of a professional fencer, he thrusts, swings, and flourishes his bayonet in all directions. Some squadmates from Bravo, returning from their watch, quietly cheer on and clap to his knife-play. Adebayo is encouraged by this and continues doing knife tricks with enhanced vigour.
      “It’s about a guy, named Constantine. He goes around hunting monsters in the woods, getting into sword fights with people, getting caught in political intrigue, and just being an overall cool guy. A guy from Haus Rödel is even one of the guy’s nakama! The art's great, and the action is badass as f*ck, my dude. You gotta see it to believe it!” 
      Adebayo spins his bayonet one last time before sheathing it. Wickwash nods as Adebayo speaks. He imagines his squad ganging up on a dragon with spears, swords, and magic missiles 
      “Damn, bro. That sounds so much cooler than whatever the f*ck we’re doing right now.”
      “Yeah brother, the whole webcomic’s f*cking awesome.” Adebayo laughs, more eager than ever to get back to base so he can show Wolff the webcomic “Whenever Constantine goes into a forest, he gets to duel spriggans, werewolves, and all kinds of other crazy shit with f*cking swords and magic. That’s badass. Meanwhile, if we go into a forest, we don’t even get to slay wolves or bears. Y’know, because we drove all the local ones extinct. Nah, dude. Instead, we just get blown up by landmines. Or shot.”
      Wolff’s ears wriggle at the mention of landmines, and interjects. It appears that he just finished re-applying his face paint.
      “Speaking of landmines, y’know, I grew up near a Red Zone as a kid.”
      In Rhodellia, a ‘Red Zone’ is an area of land so devastated by past conflicts (usually either the First or Second Anéantic Wars) that they’re no longer safe for human habitation. This is generally because they’re still littered with uncleared landmines and unexploded artillery shells. And so, to protect the populace from the explosive remnants of war (ERW) inside them, Red Zones are either fenced off or marked with warning signs.
      “Oh shit. Really?” Wickwash gestures to Wolff that he has the whole team’s undivided attention. Wolff nods, pauses to gather his thoughts, and continues.
      “My family couldn’t go camping in the woods behind my backyard because it’s sealed off behind three thick-ass rows of razor wire. But whenever I did sneak in there, say, because the other boys in the hood wanted to f*ck around in old trenches and ruins, we always, ALWAYS had to watch our step for unmarked unexploded ordnance. Kids still get blown up in there every year! Did you know that, at one point in the First Anéantic War, both Rhodellia and the Grand Alliance fired like a million f*cking shells per day back there, just in that one sector.? 
      Wolff’s teammates are amazed by the figure.
      “That’s a f*ckload of ordnance, brother.” Adebayo whistles, mimicking the sound of a falling (subsonic) artillery shell.
      “I wish I could drop that much shit on NALA headquarters.” Wickwash wishes out loud.
      “How the hell does your Red Zone still have ruins left standing in it?” Jung raises an eyebrow.
      “The wonders of Rhodellian engineering, I guess.” Wolff shrugs, unsure of the answer himself. His figure about artillery shells was probably just an exaggeration, unless a major battle actually was fought over his hometown. The team imagines just how much industry and logistics it would take for a group of artillery batteries to even sustain that rate of fire. It’s an amusing thought. Wolff continues.
      “So yeah, back home, we still use discarded shell casings as house decorations. Flowerpots, fence posts, pencil-holders, you name it. And now, on top of unexploded ordnance potentially lying outside of the marked Red Zones, we gotta look out for signs of potential ambushes too. I’m always too busy staying frosty to feel like I’m going on some big adventure like the dudes in fantasy anime, manga, and webcomics. Ain’t no magic up in this b*tch. This sucks major ass, I tell you.”
      Wickwash shrugs.
      “As long as we get to make motherf*ckers bleed by the end of the day, whether it be with tomahawks, bayonets, rifles, or magic spells, it’s still all good, right?” 
      “Yeah, I guess so, man.”
      Jung stands up, brushes the dirt off his knee pads, and looks around him. He pulls up his glove to look at his watch, checking how long it will be until his team is supposed to take over perimeter watch from Fire Team Charlie. It should be about time, but neither Charlie or its team leader, Corporal William Collins, have returned from perimeter watches.
      “Well, look on the bright side, Wolff.” Jung pulls down his glove “If an unexploded mine gibs any of us before NALA does, at least we’ll get to become cyborgs.” He pats his right arm “Have you seen the Cyberpunk-looking shit the VA’s rolling out nowadays? A Military Police vet in my neighbourhood lost his right arm when NALA raided Camp Kirstein a few years back. According to him, the f*ckers dropped a 155-mike-mike arty shell right on top of his mortar emplacement using a civilian drone.” He taps his right arm again, and swings his hand away while mimicking the sound of an explosion. “Shrapnel severed his arm. And now the VA’s hooked him up with a cybernetic arm with five independent fingers and the capacity to feel. He ain’t exactly shouting ‘Hocus Pocus’ with a wand, but at least he can still say ‘Avada kedavra’ while pulling a trigger. That’s still pretty magical, ain’t it?”
      “Rhodellian healthcare’s nice and all…” Wolff shrugs “But imagine dedicating years of your life to getting swole... imagine building up the discipline to stick to a strict diet and workout routine, and suffering through extreme lactic acid build-up day after day to grow all this muscle mass in your arms and legs... just to get them replaced.”
      He pauses.
      “And once you get past all those ‘initial reaction’ marketing stunt videos that keep showing up on everyone’s Volkscast recommendations… You’ll see that the prosthetics we have commercially available right now aren’t exactly at 'Sci-Fi' levels yet. They’re still nowhere near as good as the biological limbs we’re born with. So losing a limb is still as much of a downer as it’s always been.”
      “You seem pretty knowledgeable on prostheses.” Jung whistles.
      “I’m not, but my older brother has one. Two years ago, while he was still doing his National Service, he volunteered to help some combat engineers demine part of the Red Zone back home. Thing is, their demining robot broke down on ‘em. And… You know where I’m going with this?”
      “Oh f*ck, dude.”
      “Yup.” Wolff nods “He and the engineers had to go in themselves and do shit the old-fashioned way. My brother missed an unmarked landmine he didn’t catch with his detector. Apparently, the mine was partially unburied by a recent rainstorm. But by some f*cking miracle, my brother survived. He was fine everywhere else, but he lost his entire left leg.” He then taps his thigh to show where his older brother’s stump is. “The mine ripped it clean off."
      “Jesus…” Adebayo wipes his mouth. Wolff pauses to recall more of his memories regarding the event.
      “The Red Zone incident made the local headlines. Before we knew it, this prosthetics start-up came knocking on his hospital room door. They asked him if he’d like to take part in a PR stunt. If he agreed, he’d get a fancy new leg out of it. And that's how he got it.”
      “Was it a bad leg?”
      “By 2019 standards? Nah, bro. It’s one of those state-of-the-art myoelectric legs that pick up muscle impulses, with electrodes, microprocessors, motors, and shit. It’s definitely a direct upgrade from the usual prostheses most amputees are issued by the RHS or the VA. But it ain’t the cyberpunk techno-wizardry the advertisements hype them up to be. My brother was very happy at first, ecstatic even, but he’s moved past that. I mean, his f*cking leg’s still gone. Poor guy still copes with phantom pains from losing a literal, tangible part of himself that's been with him since birth.”
      “Damn, man, I’m sorry to hear that.” Jung pats Wolff on the back.
      “Sorry, bro, if I crushed your transhumanist fantasies.”
      “Ah well... It's no biggie.” Jung shrugs as he tries to figure out where Charlie is; they’re running slightly late on their rotation. “Maybe we’ll get some really cool developments, like, five years from now, and another five years until they become affordable enough to be widespread. At least our kids will be shooting lasers from their eyes!”
      “Looking forward to it, man.”
      Meanwhile, at a close-by picnic bench, the boys in Corporal Koen Meier’s Bravo team are talking about magic and slaying fantasy creatures because they overheard their buddies in Alpha talking about it.
      Bravo's rifleman, Private Waltz Fischer, has scooped up a long stick from the ground and is switching between a series of longsword guard stances. 
      “You know, I went to Dolchic longsword fencing clubs back in primary school, secondary school, and college…” Fischer boasts at length about his swordsmanship prowess, backing it up with well-rehearsed footwork and a swift Zornhau cut “Hey Kowalski, think I can solo a dragon?” 
      The team’s automatic rifleman, Private Jakub Kowalczyk, shakes his head “Your stupid ass would get eaten in three seconds. Tops.”
      The team’s grenadier, Private Robert Powell, laughs with Kowalczyk as he inspects his weapons. “I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t.” He taps his rifle’s underbarrel grenade-launcher “If I had magic, I’d cast a spell to turn my 40-mike-mikes into Davy-f*cking-Crocketts. A dragon’s hot shit, alright, but I’d like to see how they’d do against seven tactical nukes-a-minute.”
      “You’d still f*cking die before shooting your second shot, Powell.” Meier chuckles at the surreal thought of Powell running up to a dragon, screaming like a banshee, and unintentionally blowing everyone at.
      “You shut your pussy lips, Meier! Kamikaze’ing a dragon with a nuke has still gotta be one of the most hardcore ways for a man to go out! That’s gotta be worth some award, right?”
      “Yeah, a Darwin Award!”
      The lads in Bravo laugh until they notice half of Fire Team Charlie jogging behind them, with excited smiles across its member’s faces. Specifically, they see Collins and Charlie’s rifleman, Private Danuwoa Catawnee.
      “Oh shit! Look who’s finally back from their combat circle-jacks!” Meier calls out to the two. Catawnee politely responds with a wide grin and middle finger.
      Seeing as Charlie’s automatic rifleman, Private Ludwig Zimmerman, and grenadier, Private Abdul Hamid bin Faisal al-Latif, are both missing, Meier takes this as a very good sign.
      “Look at ‘em.” Meier slings his rifle “They look like kids wanting to show their parents a cool toy they saw through a f*cking store window.”
      “Think they found those NALA pricks we’ve spent the past five hours looking for?” Powell checks the status of his face paint in the mirror, one last time, to ensure it properly blends with the local environment and masks the natural shine of the human skin. He seems proud of all the camouflage he's attached to himself throughout the day (without compromising his range of movement, ability to perspire, ability to move quietly, or turning his combat uniform into a full ghillie suit). Fischer crouches next to Powell and checks the ammunition in his magazine.
      “After all the rucking those shitheads made Goodsprings put us through today? God, I f*cking hope so.”
      Kowalczyk squats on the grass next to Fischer, eagerly waiting for Schäfer (who just returned from the biological weapon called the campsite’s ‘public toilets’) to announce a pre-combat inspection.
      “If we actually get some today bro…” he looks up at Fischer and clenches his fist around his squad automatic weapon’s pistol grip. “I swear to God, all of the bullshit we took today would’ve been f*cking worth it.” 
      Meier nods, knocking on the side of his helmet.
      “Especially if we get eagle feathers for this. They’d look so badass on my helmet band. B*tches love feathers.”
      They see Collins and Catawnee briefing Schäfer on something urgent. Schäfer absorbs what information he can, and relays it back to his platoon leader over the radio. Once that's done, Schäfer starts jogging between the different fire teams, flanked by Doc, grabbing their attention with kicks, nudges, and creatively verbose threats of grievous bodily harm. 
      “Everyone in the squad who's not busy, form up around this table!” Schäfer beckons the squad to his picnic bench. Jung, Meier, and Collins take out their ballpoint pens and notepads as their sergeant unrolls his map of the AO, and plants his finger on their grid square. Wolff, Kowalczyk, and Catawnee walk off to maintain watch while their team leaders note down the plans for them, and Zimmerman and al-Latif are away monitoring what potentially could be the possible enemy. 
      “Zimmerman and al-Latif have contact on a squad-size element of eleven unidentified foot mobiles setting up cammie nets 500 metres to the east of our pos. They’re at the edge of the forest on the west side of a hill overlooking MSR Spirytus, fifty metres directly east of the T-Junction at Checkpoint Niner at Grid Bravo Sierra Four-Five-Niner-Five Four-Five-Three-Two!”
      Schäfer shivers, barely able to contain his excitement or maintain a serious, stoic exterior.
      “Get ready for pre-combat inspections, we're going into REDCON-2! If Goodsprings doesn’t f*ck us in the ass by calling in an airstrike instead, we might actually get to kill some motherf*ckers!”
      And so they all cheered for war.
    • By Rhava
      Madame Secretary Ponagar stepped out of her office, taking a deep breath of fresh air. That moment quickly passed as the scent of fuel and gas entered her nose. She loved the city of Hai Bọt Biển. The fresh ocean breeze, and sound of the sea grass in the wind, and the beautiful mountains looming over the city. She did not like the reason she was here. 
      "Madame Secretary, the senator is right outside." Ponagar slid open the balcony door and entered the office, which has ceiling high windows, and pale white walls, with one desk in the middle. 
      "So what are you waiting for, let him in" the Madame Secretary exclaimed. The aid quickly rushed to the door, to welcome the young representative to the room. His name was Ametung Hidayat, and he was the representative from the state of Sambal Bokur present in the senate. 
      "Tôtl'rí Naam Ponagar. Tôtl Mầy Tôtl?" asked the representative, as they both sat down.
      "Spare me the pleasantries. Let’s skip the bull and get on to your point. What do you want this time" the madame secretary said as she sat down. "And while we're at it, aid, get me some tea. I'm not getting any younger." The aid ran out of the room to fetch hot jasmine tea from down the hallway. 
      "If you insist. I'd like to ask for permission to go to Yeosan." Ponagar sighed, and slid her chair closer to the death, releasing a noise as the chair inched closer.
      "You know I cannot keep doing this, while I am sympathetic to all ethnic groups in Rhava, there just isn't a lot I can do while still helping you from office. It's only a matter of time before the head of state snitches on me to the council." The aid reentered the office, spilling some tea. "Oh, so now you are in a hurry. I am one of the most goddamn powerful people in the country, show some urgency. Leave us." The aid bowed, and ran out the door again, this time for his job. "Now why do you need to leave Rhava." This time, it was Ametung's time to sigh. 
      "The government has one of our lead scientist. We know they are using her for something, we just don't know what." Ametung frowned.  
      "You know as well as I that we can't send a Rhavanese citizen to Yeosan, much less a helpless one." 
      "Hey!" Ametung exclaimed, slightly offended." 
      "Perhaps I can find someone though, hmm." Ponagar opened her laptop, and scanned her email. The representative slid closer, and Pongar slammed the laptop closed. "Did I say you could look at my stuff, no. Get out of my sight." The representative shuffled out of the room leaving Ponagar alone in her office. She once again went to her balcony, and stood there for a while. Change was in the air, she could sense it.
    • By San Castellino
      San Castellino,
      Hotel Juenèz - seat of the Council of the Republic,
      March 1, 1878,
      11 h 49
      Manuel Velledito, the Prime Minister, storms into the office of the President of the Council.
      "Presidente, we have a problem. "
      The President of the Council Ninio Picion - a small, thin man with a constantly despaired expression - stands up from his chair. His stunted physique contrasted with the slender, shapely appearance of the Prime Minister. The latter, visibly extremely worried, was pacing the office.
      - It's terrible, Presidente. Terrible! "
      - What's going on? I beg you, speak! "
      - "We just received this from the Neo-Lyrian anarchist party. "
      Velledito holds out a letter to the President of the Council. It is addressed to the San Castellinos government in general, proclaims the independence of New Lyria as well as the establishment of a provisional New Lyrian government. Picion almost fainted when he read it. The poor man had been overworked since the beginning of his mandate. The country had been in crisis ever since it gained independence from Lysia and annexed the colony of New Lyria. Picion had to deal with the demands of the socialists, the ambitions of the monteplutillas - the private army of general Monteplutos - and the tensions with the New Lyrians. And the latter now wanted their independence!
      - "President, we're not going to let them have it, are we? "
      Picion had propped himself up on his desk so as not to fall to the floor and was thinking intensely. From the beginning, he had been strongly criticized by his opponents, and even by the Christian Democrats, his brothers, for his decisions, which were always considered too weak. The President of the Council had always wanted to play the card of appeasement and moderation. But this time, Picion had decided to really take things in hand. From now on, he wanted to prove to those b#stards that he was a strong man, and the Neo-Lyrian revolution was the perfect opportunity. So, as if suddenly won by an unsatiable energy, he stood up and said in a firm tone.
      - Repress them. Send the army and have all the independentists arrested. "
      - But, Presidente, that will be difficult. The majority of the army is still disloyal to us, under the control of the socialists. And they are not likely to want to help us. "
      - "Sweet Jesus! "
      Picion sat down in his chair but immediately stood up, obviously having found a solution.
      - "Send a telegraph to General Monteplutos, I want it in my office as soon as possible. We don't have an army anymore, so we might as well get one. "
      "Even if it means making a pact with the devil," he added in his mind. Velledito, although surprised, approved the decision with a nod and left the office.

      A few hours later, a fat and coarse man with as much military distinction as arrogance entered the office.  General Monteplutos, because it was him, sits down heavily on a chair, in front of Picion. Then he takes a cigar from the mahogany box placed on the desk like if it belonged to him and starts to smoke.
      - "Monteplutos, what an hon-"
      Monteplutos cuts Picion off.
      - "General Monteplutos. "
      - "Yes, my apologies, General Monteplutos. It is truly an honor to receive you, General Monteplutos. I have humbly asked you to come O great General Monteplutos in order to amiably ask you if your so great person-"
      Monteplutos interrupts the President of the Council a second time.
      - "Come to the facts. "
      - "Yes, of course, General Monteplutos. How about making a deal? "
      - "What do you mean? "
      - "I suppose you must have heard about the Neo-Lyrian declaration of independence through your contacts. "
      The general nods.
      - "So here's the deal. You'll have to take care of suppressing the neo-lyrian independence fighters with your monteplutillas. In exchange, I promise you a place in Parliament. "
      - "More. I want more. "
      Picion looks down, both sheepish and intimidated by the general. Still, he raises his head after a brief moment and proposes.
      - "A seat on the Council of the Republic and state-supplied equipment for the monteplutillas. "
      - "It sould be enough, for the moment. "
      - "Perfect! I'll let you take your departure from me then. "
      Monteplutos crushed his cigar in the middle of the President of the Council's desk, got up and left the office. Picion took a deep breath and began to pray inwardly to God that this so-called revolution would be nothing more than a passing rebellion.

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