Terrorist Strike in the Divine Imperium
"I can remember when all of this was farmland..." The man said, moving one of his pieces on the chessboard. He sat back, flicking his hair away from his eyes and smiling a thin little grin.
The other man contemplated this for a moment. "No...no you can't." He answered, tapping the board for a moment. "This town's been here for 200 years. The closest field is miles away... I don't even think you get that much water here..." He moved his own piece, keeping his eyes on his opponent's.
"The point, you overgrown excuse for a duck, is that I'm old." The first man moved with rapidity, cutting open his opponent's defences in a minute. "My son is already talking about getting engaged to that half-elf girlfriend of his... Richelieu is confined to a wheelchair..." He tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Everything changes all around us, and we can't help but feel like we're just going along with it."
"What does the Prime Minister say?" He looked nervously around at his pieces, trying to plug the hole. "..."
"She says that we need to just get on with the job and not worry about it." Another movement. "Checkmate."
There was a third movement. "There." He sighed. "We grow old, Simon." He paused. "Well, you grow old and I grow older." The Emperor drew his rapier and stabbed the king in a solid thrust that splintered the aged wood.
Simon looked between the piece and his friend. "...I don't know, Alexander..." He said, carefully. "I've always thought you're only as old as you feel."
Emperor Alexander Tyrol Black
Feel free to die in a quick and orderly fashion.
Alysanndra Ellestrea, Lady Chancellor of the Divine Imperium of Novar Ohan, adjusted her dress and waited for the opposing politician to finish his lengthy, self-congratulating speech. The head of the Central Democratic Party was impatient to end this interminable session and begin gesturing to the speaker of the house.
The Speaker shrugged. Alysanndra sighed and brushed a finger through her silvery hair, lingering at her pointed ear. Five hours and counting...how does he do this? She reached for her glass of water, already planning ahead to the evening.
The Order of Saint Michael (also known as the Imperial Inquisition) was, legally, a ceremonial Order within the Catholic Church of Novar Ohan. Secretly, however, it was a right-wing paramilitary group, linked to the Holy Legions and the Okranha and covertly armed and trained in military and interrogation tactics. Recruits were strong, powerful, and widely skilled in several weapons.
What they couldn't do was make out what their leader, the Grand Inquisitor, was saying. The reason for this anomaly could have been any number of things. Firstly, the wind had picked up outside the cathedral, and was blowing heavily against the windows and doors. Secondly, it could be that they were all wearing full armour and could only really tell that he was the one speaking because he had been announced earlier.
Or maybe it was because he was 95 years old, had lost all his teeth, and was rumoured to be in the advanced stages of Parkinson's Disease. But they clapped anyway when he was led away, because it was polite to do so.
At the front of the Cathedral, the two minders looked at one another and nodded, pleased. They hadn't been sure how a speech about the merits of cooking frogs before you stuffed them in a tree branch and fed them would have gone over, but it was nice to know that the members of the Order had a sense of humour.
"Report." Alexander Tyrol Black, 40 year old Emperor of Novar Ohan, flipped through the papers on his desk and looked across at Alysanndra. "What business was carried out in parliament today?"
She shifted her feet a little. "We listened to a man talk about how great he was for five hours, and then voted to increase our wages."
"...vetoed." Alexander picked up his red stamp and slammed it down on the paper in front of him. "Tell me, what do I have to do to get you people to do your proper jobs? Shoot you all and have new elections held?" He looked up and smiled. "Well?"
"...if you increased the electoral rolls, then more people would be able to vote and it wouldn't just be the Old Boy's Club being elected." She paused, slowly bringing the idea forward. "How about instead of a property qualification, we have a literacy qualification? Basically, if they've graduated from High School and are over 18 they can vote?" The Lady Chancellor crossed her hands behind her back and rocked back and forth on the spot.
Alexander glanced up at her, then glanced over at a calendar on his wall. "We're up for an election, I see." He said, slowly. "In a week." His face clouded over. "Would this be a power saving feat on your part, my dear?"
"I'm not 'Your Dear', and no it isn't." Alysanndra snapped in response, placing her hands firmly on his desk and glaring at him. "My Lord, this is for the good of the Imperium."
Alexander tapped his hand on the desk for a moment, then growled. "Fine. I'll let you have your parliament if you want." He grabbed his golf-hat. "I'm late on the links." Picking up his clubs at the door, he started out of the office. "See you tomorrow."
Alysanndra sighed and silently wished for the old days, when an autocrat actually bothered to chew you out for a while before walking off. Now she had to spend the entire night in dread of what he was going to do tomorrow.
Empress Natalya Black looked up when her husband entered the room. "Sasha!" She exclaimed, happily. "I didn't expect you home for at least an hour!" She put her book down and leapt to her feet, holding her arms out for him.
As usual, Alexander attempted to resist her attempt at getting him to show affection, but eventually acquiesced, kissing her gently on the lips. "Really, Talya...I wish you wouldn't do that. Suppose a servant should see?"
She didn't answer, instead reaching up to brush dust off his arms and hat. "What brings you back from the course so early, dear?"
"Rain." He took her in his arms and pulled her onto the sofa next to him. "Well, dear... Adrik is in Roslin, the servants are out of this wing..." Alexander began to undo the buttons of her shirt, kissing her neck as he did.
She squealed and tried to pull away. "N-not here!" Natalya blushed, shivering. At the feeling of his hand slipping under her shirt, she stiffened. "A-Alexander Black, unhand me this instant!" She laughed, pulling away.
"Oh? Why would I..." He glanced up. The phone was ringing. "...again! The phone is always ringing!" With an angry snarl, the Emperor of the Divine Imperium reached for it and picked it up while his wife readjusted her shirt. "...who? ...What? I'll be right there."
The long limousine skidded to a halt outside the contained zone. Soldiers and paramedics walked around. Police officers redirected traffic and kept people out of the square in front of the church. One of them knocked on the limousine's tinted rear window. "Sir? We'll have to ask you to..."
Alexander rolled down the window and glared up at him. "What the hell just happened?" He snapped.
"Sir!" The officer saluted. "There was a gas attack. A truck filled with chemicals drove up to the front door of the Cathedral and detonated. We've evaced everyone, the gas appears to have settled but we're waiting for a toxicology scheme. There are some pretty scared people around the place, but only minor injuries." A pause. "Sir?"
Alexander was looking past the police officer and the crowd of soldiers in gas-masks. "Tell me, Sergeant..." The Emperor said, pointing. "If there was a gas attack, what is that dog doing?"
The sergeant turned and then coughed. "Um..."
Alexander punched him in the face and slapped the side of the car. "Drive back to the palace, Jenkins." He said, raising the car's windows again and sinking back against the cushioned seat.
Alysanndra breathed a sigh of relief when the correction came on the news. "That's good," she sighed, sinking into the arm of her husband while eating from her bowl of cookie dough ice-cream.
Devian Ellestrea stroked her hair and nodded. "Very good. I liked the Officer's face when Alexander punched him for being an idiot." Alysanndra sighed and kissed him on the lips.
"Sir? Ma'am? Phone call for you, ma'am." The butler extended a phone to Alysanndra, who grumbled and answered.
"Good evening. Is this the bitch who calls herself the Lady Chancellor?"
"W-who are you? How dare you..."
"Shut up and listen to me. Today was a test, woman. If you continue with your attempt to take away our godgiven rights and hand them over to a bunch of peasants, we will use real weapons and spread real panic."
"Who is this?"
"I am a representative of The Best People, dog. That's all you need to know about me, you class traitor. Remember, the people are nothing but animals that need to be driven. Today proved that. Don't make us prove it again and hurt people this time."
"Look, I don't know who you are and what you're thinking, but..."
Alysanndra looked up at Devian, shocked, and slowly slid against him. "I don't know anything..."
"This changes everything!" Alysanndra shouted, tears still staining her face. She flopped back into the chair provided, brushing at her eyes. "If we go ahead with this, people will die!"
"People die anyway. This changes nothing." Alexander said over his desk, clasping his hands and looking at her curiously. "Weren't you telling me just yesterday how these reforms will be good for the Imperium?" The Emperor sighed. "I'm not worried."
"Why on Earth aren't you?! Don't you care? We need to find whoever's responsible before we go ahead with the election!" The Chancellor slammed her hands onto his desk and glared across at him.
"Take. Your Hands. Off. My desk." Alexander said softly, one of his hands reaching for the scimitar he kept for security reasons. When she complied, he nodded. "Good. Now, we're letting things happen because they'll happen anyway. Someone is going to slip. Now be the Lady Chancellor, do the damn job I pay you for, and go and keep my reforms moving. Everything will be taken care of."
Alysanndra sniffled nervously, then looked down. Alexander sighed. "...I'll move the election dates back a week, Alys. But only one week. Now go and think of what you want to say to the press."
Alysanndra sniffed. "Do you mind terribly, Most High and Mighty Majesty, if I go ask your wife for some tea before I leave? Or do you want me to work until I drop dead so you can replace me?"
Alexander shrugged. "Whatever pleases you, Alys. Now if you'll excuse me, I have police reports to read?" He put on his reading glasses and flipped through his file.
Alysanndra bit her inner lip, and then bowed, backing out of the room. 'I'll talk to him about it when he's not overstressed...'
Alysanndra sat and fumed as the make-up artists worked on her hair and face. 'Must I always go through this? It's as if they think I can't do my own makeup, and I always come out of their attentions looking worse than when I went in.' Finally, the torture ended, the cameras started rolling, and she was given a chance to speak. "As you know, recently in the Most Holy City of Tarnaqin an attempt was made by unknown forces to upset the election process."
"At the moment, police are following leads. I would like to reassure all of you that the attempt was little more than a harmless prank. No one was seriously injured." Alysanndra took a deep breath. "As Lady Chancellor of the Divine Imperium, I have the duty to now inform you all that as of now, the electoral roll is open to everyone over the age of 18, barring convicted criminals."
"It is our hope that this measure will unite our nation and..." A loud explosion shook the entire studio, shutting down the electricity and cameras. "What's going on here?" Then the entire world went dark.
Elves don't need to sleep, and most of the Mornahossë habitually choose not to. This is because the Mornahossë are on constant call, and frequently in demand. The most elite and most infamous unit of the Menelmacari Imperial Defence Force, it is expected that their skills may be required at a moment’s notice, when, for example, one of the multitudinous servants of the Menelmacari state has reason to think they may be needed.
Now, it’s not entirely accurate to say that the Elentári and her husband have spies everywhere. But they do have quite a few. At this precise moment, one such spy was busily observing the press conference being given by the Roanian prime minister. Normally, there’d be quite a time lag between the observance and a reaction, but her surveillance had been stepped up a little recently, thanks to the sounds of malcontent whispering from the erstwhile protectorate of Roania.
The Menelmacari frigate Merilin was the first of a new model of upgrade to the Tinúviel class, itself the fastest and most powerful frigate in the Menelmacari star-navy. Assigned to the third fleet under Warlord Ferinion, it was one of the few ships smaller than a dreadnought that actually had a Mornahossë complement, and this was only because they required a ship, now and then, to get to a destination quickly.
In all, from sending a brief, one line text message from the originating agent, an operative of the acronym-ly named MISSION agency, to dispatch the Merilin to Roania there was a time delay of half a minute. And minutes were essential, as Menelmacar valued its… servants, and where possible, protected them. Such a servant – though she may not necessarily think of herself as such – was Alysanndra of Roania.
As previously mentioned, the Merilin was a fast ship. A very fast ship in fact – and at breakneck acceleration, the comparatively tiny, in astronomical terms, distance between geo-stationary orbit over Menelmacar and the atmosphere over Roania took mere seconds to cross.
A few more minutes ticked by until the doorway of one of two bays on the underside of the frigate slid apart, living metal splitting apart and then moving into four discrete sections, and then impossibly seeming to pass outwards in a way that should, by rights, have made the thick plates of armour cladding stop after mere feet due to their apparent inflexibility.
A Vilyulairë dropship, bearing a pattern in black and silver, of lightning bolts against a dark sky, on its back fell from the landing bay. On the underside the dropship was black, unadorned but for seven silver stars, in a pattern reminiscent of the principal stars in the constellation of Orion, this was as close as the elves of Menelmacar tended to get to a public act of devotion, outside the occasional temple, at least, with the Mornahossë ship being designed to echo the work of Varda for which the nation was named.
It descended smoothly, its graceful, aerodynamic wings bent upwards, touching above the main body of the vehicle, a structural weakness necessary to stow the Vilyulairë inside the smaller ships of the fleet, and one that was soon rectified as the wings snapped out into their flight configuration, an external skin of supercondutive nanothreads and living metal conforming to their movement until internal components locked into position.
As it did so, a transmission was sent to the Roanian military authorities, originating from the Merilin, and though it was translated into the native language of the Roanians, it still held an immense smugness, “Menelmacari intelligence has indicated a threat to the well-being of your chancellor. As we're not convinced of the competence of Roanian security, we've decided to handle it ourselves.”
The dropship’s own colouration was obscured as its active camouflage systems were powered up, blending it with the background from whatever direction it was viewed from, but not before its engines burned with a blue fire and it shot towards the Roanian studio with astounding speed, like a projectile, but a projectile that aimed to safeguard its target.
In its armoured crew compartment, two ten-elf squads of the Mornahossë, an entire fleet’s complement, and more than the Elentári herself normally travelled with, including the several-times decorated officer Idhrindiel nos Fithurin, and one of the Mornahossë’s combat-mages (who very much existed, contrary to the propaganda of some) who had been part of her unit since the noted fight to retake Khazad-dûm, Nárlanyo.
Holding on to a hand-hold in the ceiling of the compartment, she looked around, “We’ll make a single pass over the building, releasing tactical sensor drones, and then land outside whichever entrance presents itself as the most likely. The primary objective is to retrieve one Allysanndra Ellestrea,” she let go briefly – there was no sensation of motion in the passenger compartment anyway – to tap a button on her armoured sleeve, resulting in a miniature hologram of the Roanian elf appearing – “our secondary objective is to bring in prisoners. We don’t need to shoot the wounded, but be aware that we’re dealing with terrorists, so expect suicide devices and so on. Right, seal your suits and check your weapons,” she said, dropping down into one of the seats in the passenger compartment and pulling on her helmet, checking the airtight seal and quickly putting its heads-up-display through a self-test routine, then undoing the catch that prevented her sword being drawn.
Snapping a clip into her carbine, she watched her squads variously check other plasma weapons, protocasters and gravbolters. Under the dropship’s wings, a small host of insect-sized drones, superficially similar to the smaller models of necron scarabs, twitched and chattered excitedly.
[MAJ Sunkyo/STF-ROA] Do we /have/ to?
[GEN Srivanas/CENTCOM] I know, I know. But it is Menelmacari territory and not just $random_backwards_nation. VERITAS and all.
[MAJ Sunkyo/STF-ROA] I don't like it. It's not as if we're offering support for an actual ally. Can we please erase all records that any of us were even near this thing?
[GEN Srivanas/CENTCOM] Yeah, yeah. I'll get on it. Send the message- and let the Noldorin handle this as much as possible. It'd be better for all.
[Sent Via D-Net]
[To: Emperor Alexander Tyrol Black; Lady Chancellor Alysanndra Ellestrea: the Divine Imperium of Roania]
[From: Major Hirokira Sunkyo, United Solaris Federation Army; John Swigert, Vice Deputy Undersecretary of State for North Pacific Affairs, Sector G-82: the United Solaris Federation of Tiburon]
[Cc: Elentári Sirithil nos Fëanor, the Eternal Noldorin Empire of Menelmacar]
[Subject: Terrorist Attack]
Emperor Black and Lady Chancellor Ellestrea,
As per the provisions of the VERITAS charter and the treaty outlining the protectorate status of Roania within the Eternal Noldorin Empire, the United Solaris Federation of Tiburon formally pledges its assistance to allied campaigns in Roania. We are able to set aside a small force, and request information from either HRH the Queen of Menelmacar, HRH the Emperor of Roania, and/or the Lady Chancellor as to where we may dedicate Tiburonese assets.
John Swigert, Vice Deputy Undersecretary of State for North Pacific Affairs, Sector G-82
Major Hirokira Sunkyo, the United Solaris Federation Army,
The United Solaris Federation of Tiburon
[Sent Via D-Net]
[To: Elentári Sirithil nos Fëanor, the Eternal Noldorin Empire of Menelmacar]
[From: General Fareed Srivanas, Tiburon Aerospace Force, the United Solaris Federation of Tiburon]
[Classification: Classified, Top Secret: EASOT]
Given the facts that the recent Roanian terrorist attack is an internal Menelmacari affair; that the ENEM has, to put it mildly, more than enough resources to handle one or two disgruntled Roanian aristocrats; and that Roania is a nation that both our governments share an aversion to, the Tiburonese government would be most understanding, to say the least, if Menelmacar were to refuse assistance for such a small matter.
General Fareed Srivanas, Tiburon Aerospace Force,
The United Solaris Federation of Tiburon