Power and Pathways: The Mediterranean Meets (ESR Only, ATTN: ka-Spel)
Sir Michael Harland, Emperor of Xaristan, sat speaking with Ambassador Richard M. Berkeley, Director of the Depart of Economy, Nicholas Francis, and Director of the Department of Federation Security, Alexander King. All were gathered waiting for the group from the Mediterranean Alliance to arrive.
As they were waiting, the secure BlackBerry inside Sir Michael's breast jacket pocket beeped. He looked over at King, who nodded ever so slightly, and then he took it out. On the screen flashed a simple message.
Operation Northwoods: Phase Two
Sir Michael glanced at King, who nodded once again. Taking out the stylus, Sir Michael tapped "Execute" and slipped the BlackBerry back into his pocket. All that was left now was for the Mediterranean Alliance to arrive.
The Italian delegates landed at the airport in Cairo just after 10 in the morning. Upon stepping out of the plane, Lucrezia Delltore couldn't help but remark on how beautiful the city really was. It had come a long way since she had last been there, almost 15 years ago. Cairo had always been a city of unprecedented history and culture, but the city had propelled itself into the 21st century with swan-like grace, creating a modern-day metropolis without sacrificing its old-world charm. It was a sight to behold, and one Lucrezia could never get enough of. If these meetings went well, she would be seeing a lot more of Cairo in the future. Considering the nature of these meetings, she wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing.
An unmarked, black Mercedes had been commissioned to receive them at the airport and take them to their designated meeting place with the Italian government. All of the delegates - consisting of 4 officials; the Greek prime Minister Athena Karamanlis, Minster of Economics Moritz Leuenberger, herself, and perhaps the most important member, Chief General Carlo Cadeva - crammed in the back seat of the otherwise roomy German luxury vehicle in complete silence. There was an undercurrent of tension between the four that was never present in their homeland, as though the realization that they were here to bring their country into war was dawning on them, and it made their palms sweat.
In less than 15 minutes, the delegates arrived at the federal building and were ushered into a conference room.
Sir Michael and his three advisers stood and bowed slightly as Delltore and her countrymen arrived.
"Welcome to the Federation, everyone. I trust your flight and drive in were safe and uneventful? Please, take a seat." Sir Michael gestured to the four seats across from the four he and his advisers had been occupying moments before.
"Food, refreshment? Whatever you would like, it is at your service." The Emperor smiled as three servants came walking over, to take any orders. Sitting back down in his chair across from Delltore, Sir Michael pulled out another expensive looking cigar and cut it, lit it, and started smoking again.
"Well, now that we are all gathered together, what shall we discuss first?"
The four Italian officials looked at each other for a moment before taking a seat and ordering coffees. It was 2 in the afternoon, but the airline didn't serve any coffee that wasn't repugnant. In Italy, some form of coffee is served three to four times a day; they were behind schedule.
Sir Michael's demeanor was warm, if pretentious, but I suppose it was earned. The Xaristanians controlled some of the biggest oil reserves in the world, and certainly in the Mediterranean. As such, they were no strangers to its bountiful profits. Lucrezia supposed that all pretension, in this case, was justified.
"Thank you, Sir Michael. Your hospitality is most accommodating. Besides not having any good coffee, the flight was flawless. I must say, Cairo has come a long way since I last visited her soil. I take it your government plays no small part in that regard. You have created a beautiful city."
Lucrezia shifted in her seat a bit, leaning over the conference table just slightly as to add a bit more intensity to the conversation.
"Indeed, we have much to talk about. However, the first order of business I believe to be the most important one, and I'll hand this discussion over to my colleague."
Lucrezia chanced a sideways glance at General Carlo Cadeva, who was sitting in the exact same position that he had been the entire time she was talking, wearing the exact same facial expression that he had been wearing all morning. 35 years of military training will instill the value of stillness in you. Most agree that that long in the military will change a man. For Cadeva, it propelled him.
Chief General Carlo Cadeva had served in the Italian military since the early 70s. Starting out as a Lieutenant, he worked his way up the ranks as one of Italy's top generals, and by 1995, he was appointed Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense. Though Cadeva didn't engage in the battlefields anymore - and nay, hadn't in 15 years - the sense of discipline and restraint never left. He was one of the most respected members, internationally, of the entire Italian government because he was one of the only members of the Italian government who was not a politician. Politicians are interested in politics; General Carlo Cadeva is not a politician. He had no interest in the underlying politics and the closed-door dealings that go on inside any government; Cadeva was a straight-shooter, a no-nonsense, tell-you-how-it-is stand up guy who happened to hold a political office. To say Cadeva was a unique sort of anomaly in the world of politics would be an understatement.
General Cadeva sat there now, gazing intently at the man they called Sir Michael; smoking his fat cigars and all but lounging on the set of a meeting that was considered a matter of importance, and Cadeva couldn't dislike him. He was willing to bet that this Sir Michael had never seen a battlefield up close in his life, and had never even seen the inside of a military training facility, and lacked the kind of professionalism and grace that any politician must master before he is considered a true politician. However, it was the very demeanor that Cadeva liked. This man, Sir Michael, also made no attempts to hide his vanity. Sir Michael didn't lead you to believe that you were on his level, or that he was on yours. He flashed his wealth and power like they were diamonds (and Cadeva would bet that some actually were) and made no claims to be otherwise. This man, Cadeva deduced just by looking at him, was not a bullshit artist. A pretentious ass, Cadeva was sure, but he also made sure you knew that going in. It's hard not to admire that kind of honesty.
"Greetings, Sir Michael. My name is Chief General Carlo Cadeva with the Mediterranean Military. I am Commander of the military as well as Minister of Defense. I've come here to talk about Cyprus.
"A Cypriot terrorist organization has attacked your nation. In short, we are here to help you take them down. Xaristan, Mussleburgh, and the Med. Alliance are the three main powers in the Mediterranean Sea. As such, when one is attacked, especially when done so by a group based in the Mediterranean, it is all of our duties to react to the situation."
Sir Michael examined the man as he spoke. The man oozed professionalism and confidence, two traits that he himself respected, even if he only used the second one most of the time. These were not treaty or surrender negotiations, he felt that he didn't need to be so professional. Also, he was on his own turf, where he felt the most comfortable. He slowly took a puff of his cigar before answering, letting the smoke form a circle over the table before brushing it away with his hand.
"I don't want Mussleburgh a part of any invasion force. I despise their attitude of 'let's make friends with everyone.' It's useless in my opinion. It shows their leadership to be spineless. And it's not someone that I want to be associated with. Currently, we are friends with only one nation in this world, and that is Animarnia. We have relations with others, absolutely, such as yourselves and Amazonia. But a certain amount of... tension can be good for one's country." Sir Michael smiled as he rose and walked over to a nearby bar, pouring himself a glass of scotch as he walked back over and sat again.
"Also, we're not looking to take down just the terrorist organization, General. We're looking to take down those who support them as well. Meaning the entire country, if you can even call it that, of Cyprus will be brought to heel. As well as the government of Lebanon as terrorists are operating from there too. We have reason to believe that these two governments are supplying these terrorists with weapons to protest our canal policies and to generally decrease our presence in the region." Taking a sip of the scotch himself, Sir Michael took a breath.
"We cannot allow this to happen." Before he could speak again, an aide slipped into the room and walked over to a large, flatscreen television.
"Sir, there is something that you should see." He turned the television on and the face of Bron Turgundy filled the screen.
"What, the Emperor's watching now? We can start? ... I don't believe you." Bron continued to drink his coffee and pick at his hair in a mirror, before his face suddenly went aghast and he turned and cleared his throat. "My apologies, Emperor, distinguished guests and all of Xaristan. We have just received a very disturbing and graphic video. If there are young children in the room, I would suggest that you remove them from the television at this time." Turgundy paused a moment before nodding. "This video is from the MEMFF, shot just off Cyprus earlier today."
There is static for a moment before switching to the video, which looked to be taken from a handheld camera. The cameraman is on a boat, moving at high speed, towards three smaller fishing boats flying the colors of Xaristan. Suddenly, a single rocket flew from the aggressive boat towards the fishing ships, each one striking and setting the ships ablaze. Two ships immediately started sinking, while the third one struggled to stay afloat. The crews of all three ships started to abandon ship, jumping off the side or trying to lower lifeboats. The aggressor ship circled around all three and suddenly machine gun fire, from at least four different sources, could be heard. Men screamed as they were gunned down in the water and on the boats. The firing continued for at least a full minute before cutting off abruptly. The cameraman then turned the camera to himself. He was dressed in all black, a bandanna covering the lower half of his face. "Xaristan shall fall," he said. Then, the tape ended.
Sir Michael turned back to the table, working hard to contain the sense of inner joy that he felt. The operation had gone off without a hitch. Perfect. "Gentlemen, lady, I feel that the evidence is now indisputable." He pulled out his BlackBerry and typed a quick message to the leader of his armed forces. "Four of our Polnochiny-class landing craft are ready for immediate deployment to Cyprus, including numerous support craft. Will you be joining us in this endeavor? Of course, we will continue to discuss everything else you had to discuss regardless of your answer, but our troops will be leaving before the sun has set."
((OOC: bump. IC reply coming soon.)
The four Italian delegates sat in their chairs; stunned. What they had just seen was a blatant and rather disturbing display of terrorism; one that would do the world no such favor for being allowed to continue.
Chief Carlo Cadeva lifted his chin, straining against the mental images in his head to maintain the air of unaffected indifference that the Army had taught him well.
"Indisputable, indeed, Sir Michael."
Chief Cadeva glanced at Lucrezia, who gave the slightest of nods. "Please tell us where and when the first attack will be. We will be coordinating with you to lend our support."
The delegates sat in uncomfortable silence, waiting for Sir Michael to give Cadeva specific instruction. They had come there looking to discuss various matters of trade and camaraderie with Xaristan, but suddenly none of the representatives could remember what it was they wanted to say. Funny how terrorism has a way of doing that.
Sticking the cigar in his mouth as he walked over to a wall and tapped a hidden button, Sir Michael nodded to Director King, who calmly turned to the side to type something in his palm pilot before turning back to the Emperor. Sir Michael revealed a large touch screen television, and he tapped something in the bottom corner and a map of the island of Cyprus filled the screen.
"The main points for primary assault will be the two large air bases." Sir Michael indicated to the two large bases at the southern edges of the islands. "Air support will be crucial to this battle, so taking the airfields is of the utmost priority. Under the cover of darkness, our planes will preform air strikes on the northern half of their country, namely the cities of Nicosia and Kyrenia. We will not target civilian installations, only military and government ones, including power plants. Our planes will circle to the north first, to confuse the Cypriots. They will believe an assault is coming on their northern shore and not their southern one."
Sir Michael paused for a moment to take a puff of his cigar.
"The next part is flexible. We are choosing to paradrop special forces onto the airbase in between Larnaca and Paralimni prior to our naval assault, which will land APCs and tanks via landing craft to take and secure the air base. You may choose to do the same around the airbase on Akrotiri, or simply go with the direct naval assault. Either way, we will need to move fast."
Looking up at the map again, he indicated their secondary objectives.
"We are looking for you to take the port city of Limassol, while we will head for Larnaca. After taking those two cities, and being reinforced by more troops, we will have both our forces converge on the capital of Nicosia, and blow through there to Kyrenia. This will effectively split the island in half, and from there we will expand out, destroying these terrorists and the government who harbored them."
Sir Michael turned back to the diplomats, but most specifically Cadeva. "What do you think, sir?"
(ooc. Xaristan, if you have AIM< contact me immediately at Dax In Dementia. IC Post coming soon.)
Chief General Cadeva studied the map carefully. They had a very good plan going in to this invasion, and it was clear they had thought about it thoroughly.
"So, you are saying that the air base in Akrotiri is the first target, followed by a full attack on Limassol to complete the first part of the mission. This is an acceptable plan. In fact, I see very little flaw in it. The Italian forces will be paradropping ground troops into the air base before launching a full-scale naval attack; the Italian Marina Militare is one of the best on the planet, Sir Michael; that base does not stand a chance.
"Our aircraft carriers will be equipped with aircraft supplemented from our Air Force, being as air control is so crucial to this mission. The naval assault will continue on the Akrotiri base until the ground troops have been brought in, at which time the naval forces will regroup and head directly to an assault on Limassol; if al goes according to plan, much of their resources will have been used to fend our naval forces off by the time the ground troops arrive. It will be a clean 1-2 punch; they won't have time to react or recover from the naval assault.
"After the base and the city have fallen, our Navy will be of little help; they will be docked at the base to maintain control. However, our aircraft will need a place to land and regroup before the charge down the center. Have you designated a city that our forces can converge and our aircraft can land?"
"The primary landing areas for the aircraft will be the bases themselves for Phase 1. Smaller airports in Larnaca and Limassol will also serve as secondary staging points. Our main target in Nicosia is the airport. From there, we will have three major air bases in the country, something that the Cypriots will not be able to withstand."
His pocket buzzed, and Sir Michael pulled out his BlackBerry. "Honored guests, our ships are away. We have committed a sizable force for this operation, but we have no compromised our security by doing so. Our paradrop forces are on their way. We have committed a majority of our transport aircraft to the cause, but I am confident in their success. Our most advanced fighters are escorting them, along with four of our six bombers. Naval assets are already away. Are there any final questions?"