Last Days of the Republic (Fairly Closed, Contact for Information)
THIS ROLEPLAY HAS BEEN ANNULLED. A SIMILAR ONE WITH THE SAME ADVERSARIES AND NATIONS INVOLVED IS IN THE MAKING.
indentMister (or, rather, High General) Avelo Verikov was not a very patient man. However, ironically, his life had been very full of excruciatingly long waits. For instance, he'd had to wait nine years after his brother died before his eyes in a squabble with separitists to join the Imperial Army. He waited another seven to reach a respectable rank. He was a hero of the narrowly averted second great war between NATO and APOC, his men were fanatically loyal to him. When a low ranking soldier was shot in an attempt to take Verikov's life, it was he who rushed him to perimedics in his own two arms and saved his life. His men would die for him. And with what he had planned, many probably would.
indentFor, Avelo did not care very much for the Sovereign Empire of Alacea, as many perceived. In fact, he hated it. No, that was an understatement. Deeply loathed. More than anything. Perhaps there was one thing he hated more, and it was the the Eastern Havenic Kingdom of Cravan. Now anyone who knew anything that involved current Alacean foreign relations had to involve Cravan. Avelo had gotten into his head that the only reason that various international wars had to happen was because of disunity between states. He also talked himself into thinking that the Cravanians had ruled over Aerovian lands for far too long, and were the main agent of disunity in the region through holding foreign colonies there. His brother wouldn't have died before his eyes nor many of his friends because of pointless civil unrest, had differences existed. The world Avelo foresaw- one he hoped to create- lacked any form of disunity. He had read the arguments of countless intellectuals who debated for the cause of one Aerovian state (many of whom were laughingstocks) and made sense of them.
indentAnd so, he hatched a plan. He had discretion over the slightest detail of much of the life of the average soldier in the Imperial Army, even over other denizens of the Alacean military. Many of them came from downtrodden poor families who joined the army because they couldn't find work anywhere else. A disproportionate amount also came from Karelya, which was also Verikov's native province. Which, ironically, had fought two conflicts to free itself from Alacean rule since its annexation in 1837. The majority of them were also orthodox Christians, as was Avelo. These similarities were the seed for a deep-seating feeling of identification with this particular higher-up. They saw the recent spurt of libertarianism as moral corruption, and firmly believed it was catapulting the nation towards destruction. And so, Avelo, slowly and steadily, subconsciously fed upon this dissent. To the point where much of the Alacean military cared little for the nation it served. Verikov explained the tactic to superiors as to emotionally harden his men. You're a piece of shit- no one in this world would give a fuck if you dropped dead. You live for this army! was the general message. What did senior officials care- it made enough sense and most of them were too corrupt to give a damn. Once these feelings amoung his new breed of military boiled over, Avelo could pull a few strings, and the rest would be history.
Central Lorica, 0830 Hours
indentSamuel Quinton glanced at the darkening Lorican sky above him. Storms on the horizon, he thought to himself as he entered the sprawling subway system under the city. He didn't usually dawdle but for some reason everything felt strangely different today- the warm coastal air around the metropolis was quite cooler than usual, the rush from being in the buzz of the urban organized chaos had vanished, even the usual happiness apparent on the local's faces as they went about their business had all but evaporated. Everything felt- tense.
indentThe man was puzzled at what could be troubling a city rated as one of the happiest in the world by International Culture, when he was jolted to attention by the metallic opening of the subway car's door. Quinton, and the rest of the crowd around him, shuffled into the small vessel. Perhaps it's the news, the man thought to himself. He didn't pay much attention to political affairs- he hadn't voted in as long as he could remember! He'd picked up on tidbits from various mainstream media outlets in the past few weeks - "Relations with Cravan strained due to Cravanian entry to KGP", "Splitoff party from Conservatives known as Coacs quadruples in size," were just a few of a large overbearing pool of depressing facts. He decided he was imagining most of the strange phenomenon and pushed it out of his mind, retreating to the relative mental comfort of what work had in store for him that day. It was hard keeping his mind on things. He had only slept for four hours the night before.
indentQuinton had nodded off from the gentle rocking of the subway car. A noise, perhaps two hundred meters ahead in the dark tunnel, had awoken him. The rest all happened in the tiniest fraction of an instant. A flash of light, a gush of searing heat, the sound of metal exploding violently- the last thing Samuel remembered was feeling a very large pressure on his head as piercing screams echoed overhead, sounding more and more like he was hearing them from underwater. He was drowning in the horrible noise- absolutely drowning. And as soon as the chaos had begun, it was over, and all was dark.
indentAll over the Empire, telephones rang constantly. "Turn on the telly," was said millions, if not billions of times over many Alacean telephones. And all over the Empire, the signature jingle of countless new stations rang over innumerable television speakers.
"Capital Television Network, reporting a string of deadly terror attacks all over the nation."
"Arsons reported on many historical buildings, particularly timed around the Alacean Democratic Revolution, by a yet unidentified terrorist organization..."
"Sarin found laced in venting systems in the Imperial Arms skyscraper in Queenston..."
"...From an unidentified source, we've received word yet another attack has occurred, this one in form of a violent bombing on the Lorican subway systems..."
"News of more deadly attacks steadily flowing in..."
"Cravanian, Questarian embassies sacked, Hamptonian embassy salvaged by coalition of security forces-"
"Many tens of thousands of soldiers rioting in Karelyan cities."
"An estimated one hundred and ninety-eight thousand dead as of yet, and counting..."
"All planes grounded by Imperial Agency of Aviation..."
“Nail bombs placed inside automobiles explode in several major cities, wreaking hundreds of casualties...”
“Pocket nuke dismantled minutes before its detonation-”
"A strange symbol appearing all over the nation, particularly in the areas around the scene of the attacks, resembling a digital '5' missing the top and bottom line, mainly as graffiti..."
But the piece of information that had the most people worried, was that most experts believed the attacks were connected.
A bunker somewhere under Northern Alacea, 2200 Hours
indentAvelo Verikov watched as these events unfolded on a series of screens before him in his bunker safe under the icy surface of northern Karelya. Scenes of buildings in rubble, policemen and fire brigades rushing desperately to put out massive blazes all over the nation, protests in front of the Imperial Senate... soon, very soon, an aide would rush in assuring him of the deaths of many other prominent generals, Senators, and, hopefully, of the execution of the pig of a man many referred to as "Lord Consul". He smiled to himself. He didn't smile often...
indentIt was all coming to fruition, soon the heroic High General would arise to the scene, promise order in the chaos, to oust and pay back the evil forces that reduced this once great nation to its current condition... but most of all, tear down the ancestral bonds that kept Aerova apart, the one issue no one seemed to care about. He would expose the hidden roots of the turmoil and promise to restore peace. The country would take the bait without another word. It would be easier than taking candy from a baby. But first, time had to be allotted, tempers allowed to boil over, but most of all, fear to run on unparraled highs. As the world tried to piece together what was happening, Verikov would sit back and plan his next move.
The ambassador to Alacea was a man of short temper. Upon, therefore, returning to Lorica from business across the country, he was not just shocked to find the burnt out insides of the embassy, the dead marines, the cowering workers, the destruction of decades of relations with Alacea. No, he was not just shocked. He was incredibly pissed off. Strolling through the deserted grounds, the once lovingly cared for shrubbery torched or else trampled on, he came to a halt at the main doors. The ornate glasswork had been smashed in and one of the doors was off his hinges, so he slowly slid the working door open and stepped inside.
It was a scene of absolute destruction. He had been in the Foreign and Colonial Office all his life, and every Questarian embassy was built to the same specification - they were pretty much, all the same. The Questarian embassy is technically Questarian soil, and they are almost always ornately designed and lovingly looked after. To see the building desecrated in such a manner was a mix of resurgent emotions for James L. Rawling; a dangerous mix of both anger and immense sadness. Climbing the staircase and pushing his way past dead bodies and empty cartridges, he looked around on the second floor. Nobody.
The third floor door was bolted locked and hammering on it didn't make any difference. "Is anyone alive in there?" Rawling shouted, rapping the door.
"Bloody hell James! Is that you?" a familiar voice came inside - the sub-consul, his attendant and personal friend replied. "It bloody well is! Open up this door!"
"One moment old boy," he said. "We've barricaded the thing shut. We'll clear it out now for you," he said, followed by a crashing and smashing from behind the door and some hurried talking. The door creaked open and behind it a number of marines and officer workers stood by, led by Mayfair, the sub-consular. "I see you're all alive. Good show Left-tenant Underwood."
"A pleasure, if I say so myself, sir," Underwood said. "They broke the gate and killed Troopers Thomas and Redmond at the entrance. We armed ourselves and headed down but most of them had reached the second floor by that time. Bayonets and sabres all down the corridor, but they outnumbered us by about ten to one, so we had to fall back upstairs. Otherwise the third floor would have been lost, too," he shuddered. "Bloody savages," the subconsular nodded. "I dread to think what they did to the bodies or the poor work experience girls on the second floor."
"They'll pay for this," Rawling muttered. "Left-tenant, if we can make it out alive, I'll see you and your men get the Victoria Cross for this. What are our communications lines like?"
"They ought to be in order Sir. What do you have planned?"
"Contact the Antelope," Rawlings ordered. "Quickly now; we don't have any time to lose."
The single Ark Royal class carrier was the basis of the Aerovan Squadron. Her airpower extended for a thousand kilometres around her deck, and accompanied by a Foxbury class assault carrier the Antelope and her escorts were capable of intervening anywhere in the region. Right now, though, she was useless. With no contact with anyone in the city, Admiral Roland could only pace through his command decks impatiently waiting for some news as Lorica burned.
As she walked through the sea of hallways and cubicles, phones were ringing off the hook. Workers were running to and fro with folders and files, skillfully avoiding each other and maneuvering through the crowds to deliver their packages to their destinations. All the while, she just walked ahead. Taking a turn into a pair of large double oak doors, she lifted a remote control from an end table in the room and flipped a flat panel television on. CBN-1 was playing, which usually was reserved for high-production programs. Now, however, CBN-I's international news broadcast had been bumped up to CBN-1's channel.
"Tell me," the woman demanded as she set the remote down on the long glass table, "what the bloody hell is going on."
The Red Room, partially filled with members of the Cabinet who had been able to reach 15 Hancock Drive on such sort notice, remained silent as the noise of the bustling office workers seeped through the open doors.
"Liz," Director of Agriculture Simmons sighed, "we don't know. Halsey isn't here so we don't have our spook sources, but according to the news," she said while pointing to the television, "all hell has broken loose in Alacea."
Annadale straightened up.
"Well find out. I'm going to Lancaster, and I expect an update when I get back. I'm sure the Commons are in an uproar right now. They just get back in session and this happens."
"Halsey should be here in about an hour. I'm sure we'll have more then."
"You damn well better," Annadale said as she turned to leave. "We need to get on this now, and quick. Get in contact with the ambassador in Lorica and find out the status of the embassy. Also get a call into the First Minister's office in Callander and the Taoiseach's office in Arran. Especially Arran considering they neighbor the Alaceans. This isn't going to spread to us. And if it does, I want every resource we have put to stop it."
"Right, Liz," Chancellor of the Exchequer Williams responded. "Just get over to Lancaster and see what they know," he suggested; a thinly veiled attempt to simply buy time for the Cabinet from the wrath of Cravan's Iron Lady.
Annadale nodded, and left the room briskly without further conversation.
It took First Director Annadale six minutes to walk at a brisk pace to the Palace of Lancaster, located around the corner and down the road from Lenning Block on Parliament Hill. Downtown Laurana was bustling at this time, as the business crowds rushed to lunch. It was the fastest way to get to the Palace for Annadale, excluding the underground tunnel which linked the two. The tunnel, however, was closed for service today.
"Good morning, Madame Director," the guard at the front gate said, allowing Annadale through without contest.
"Morning, Roy. No time to chat, I'm afraid."
"So I've heard. Good luck in there. I've heard it isn't pretty."
Annadale paused while looking towards the guard.
"Thanks," she said simply before turning towards the marble steps.
Annadale approached the doors to the antechamber of the House of Commons, quickly and unnecessarily flashing her ID to the guards outside. Upon entering the chamber of the House of Commons itself, an uproar of angry MP's shouting during the open floor debate overpowered her while CBN-1's coverage of the crisis in Alacea played out on the double screens at the front of the chamber.
Annadale took a seat towards the rear of the chamber, and turned to The Honorable Jim Williams, an MP from her home of Camden.
"What's going on?"
Williams smirked slightly while turning to his longtime friend and colleague.
"The Arranic and Callandic representatives are really pissed about this whole situation, and rightly so, really. They're raising a fuss about what the nation is going to do and also about your relative inaction up to this point, Madame Director," he said, abandoning the standard procedure for formal address in the Commons. "Nobody knows the extent of the damage yet, but it appears to be bad. Really, really bad. As far as I know contact was lost with the embassy."
"Well, the Cabinet is working on reestablishing contact. I'm not sure how that's going right now, though."
Siege; T+31 minutes
The wrought iron gate buckled under the pressure of the crowd of rioters outside attempting to gain entry. Once the crowd managed to get past the gate, however, two additional makeshift barriers of concrete, sandbags, and barbed wire would greet them.
The Royal Cravanian Naval Infantry manning the walls watched the crowd through the gates and wires warily. Many were armed, but so far no shots had been taken at them yet.
"This isn't going to end well," Lance Corporal Roy Jennings said as he held his rifle at waist level.
"Tell me about it," Corporal Marissa Grefton chimed in agreement.
The two marines watched as one man wearing a cloak fought his way through the crowd, ushering another cloaked figure between his arms. The larger figure looked through the gates worriedly, and shouted to the marines.
"I'm a Cravanian citizen! Let me in!"
Grefton acknowledged him, and clicked her earpiece.
"Sir, we have a man claiming to be a Cravanian citizen here with a smaller figure, probably a teenager. Orders?"
Her radio buzzed back in her ear.
"I'm sending a team with riot gear down. They'll usher the guy in and search him. If anyone else tries to get in, shoot to kill."
"Copy that, sir."
After a few minutes, six marines decked out in black with riot shields and heavy armor made their way to the gate through the sea of barbed wire, with three additional troopers taking the rear armed with C24 assault rifles. They approached the gate, which creaked open remotely slightly, just enough to allow the two shadowy figures through. The gates closed shut again, leaving many irate Alaceans outside shouting.
The man and younger figure brought in were dragged into the central courtyard, the barbed wire enclosure being repaired and replaced to continue its service as a buffer to the rioters. Both figures were thrown down on the lawn and searched thoroughly. The larger of the two was a man of about sixty years, with silver hair and large spectacles. The smaller was a boy of fourteen, and scared beyond belief.
One marine found the older man's passport. Upon inspection, he immediately ordered his colleagues off and helped the man to his feet.
"My apologies, Your Highness."
Prince Jason of Cravan rose to his feet and brushed himself off. With a curt nod he shrugged off the apology.
"It's entirely understandable, soldier."
The lead soldier motioned to the teenage boy who was also helped to his feet.
"Who is this?"
The Prince looked the marine in the eyes.
"The last remaining member of the Alacean royal family."
"Sir, we've still not been able to reestablish contact with Laurana," an aide announced as she scurried into the ambassador's office.
"Well keep trying," Ambassador Gerald Hashford said cooly as he watched the clash at the gates. "We have almost one hundred civilians and two members of royalty on the grounds. I have zero intention of sacrificing any."
"Yes, sir," the young woman said reservedly as she retreated from the office.
The office was soundproofed with bulletproof glass composing the windows, hence the sound of the crowd was muffled at its loudest. A deep rumbling overtook the faint shouts of the crowd, and shook the windows. A cup of tea which sat on Hashford's desk rippled as the rumbling grew in magnitude. Looking up, Hashford watched as a UH-28 Black Falcon set down on the roof of the embassy. He immediately turned for the door, and made his way up a flight of stairs to the roof.
Exiting the stairwell to find himself in the open air, Hashford climbed the metal stairway to the elevated helipad to find himself face to face with a group of Special Air Service troops offloading some heavier armaments than would usually be issued to an embassy.
"Leftenant Seamus McAfree," the Callandic CSAS officer announced in his thick Celtic accent. "Reportin' for duty."
"Welcome, lieutenant," Hashford responded with a quick nod. "What's going on?"
"We're here to stay, suhr. This heli's gonna be runnin' 'tween here and th' Oquashen embassy. They've bettuhr facilities to close up shop and wait out somethin' like this, and they've more space to move people out. We've come straight from HMCS Sackville out at sea, an' th' HMCS Lion is inbound to take in more civis."
"Right. Well, welcome aboard. Colonel Gregory Dawson is just below us on the third floor in the central security room. He's managing the situation. You're more than welcome to pop in as we can't hold these people off for much longer. That gate is going to cave soon."
"Righto, suhr," Lieutenant McAfree responded with a salute. "Thank ye."
McAfree led his troop of four downstairs, weapons slung over their shoulders while they lugged crates of ammunition down with some marines who were on station assisting by carrying down other weapon crates. Ambassador Hashford, meanwhile, went downstairs and began ordering evacuations of civilian personnel by department. First to go were the media and public relations staff, of which the first twelve were on the roof with minimal personal effects within ten minutes. The first transport helicopter was away to the Aequatian embassy.
30 minutes after attack
"They said we crazy installing those retractable bollards and gates, but I think we've been vindicated now." Mark Jefferies, the Chargé d'affaires, said to the Embassy's Chief of Security, Royal Marine Lt. Colonel Elizabeth Olavsen. Colonel Olavsen nodded in response but her attention was focused on the monitors.
They, along with most of the embassy's staff were thirty feet below the main chancellery building. As soon as the compound came under attack the staff retreated to the bunker beneath the main building. The physical design of the compound, with the main buildings set back from the street several dozen yards and the high permanent and deployable gates, saved the Hamptonians from suffering the same fate as the other attacked embassies in Lorica. Several Royal Marine guards were wounded but the assault was repulsed with damage only to the outer stone and wrought iron wall.
"Once I have determined the security situation to be improved I think we should let non-essentials leave the compound to get to their families."
"Of course," Jefferies responded, "our landline communications may be out but satellite is still operational. I notified the Foreign Office of our situation while you were out there with the guards. Until we hear otherwise Colonel, your orders are to hold this embassy. Assistance and relief should not be far away."
"As long as we have means to, sir."
Emergency Operations Center
Defense Secretary Cassandra Miller-Lee and Foreign Secretary Cristiano Arikan conferred with their staffs as updates streamed into the EOC. While most of the federal government usually left the Capital Cities during the summer months, both Miller-Lee and Arikan were kept on a short leash by their offices. The attempted takeover of a Hamptonian embassy would under any circumstances be deeply worrying but the fact that it was taking place in western Aerova made it all the worse.
Alacea, though still some four thousand miles distant, was the closest foreign nation to the east coast of Hamptonshire proper. The east coast city of Hannon was closer to Alacea than to the Capital Cities. Both Secretaries knew that the widespread chaos unfolding in Alacea could lead to only one thing: open conflict. The situation had to be managed carefully lest it spin out of control.
"We still have contact with the embassy. The security staff there estimates nearly a hundred Alacean casualties but only two Hamptonians wounded. Cassandra I would like to use some air force transports so we can set up a large scale evacuation."
"Certainly," Miller-Lee looked at her watch, "have the Foreign Office coordinate with RASF Transport Command. I transmitted a set of order to our naval forces in the area to begin preparations for initial evacuations as well as, God forbid, an emergency operation to shore up the embassy should it be attacked again."
"I know this is not at an absolute full-blown crisis level but I have advised Hayek to recall at least the Foreign Policy Committee if not the whole Royal Senate. He is still mulling it over but he me that once he is back here in the morning he will have his mind made up." Arikan rolled his chair back from the center table to speak with an adviser.
Miller-Lee motioned to her Royal Navy adjutant to stand at her side. "There's something that, in my opinion, we need to do right now," Arikan turned to face her and pulled his chair back to the table, "our forces in Aerova currently consist of several dozen capital ships and the escort and support vessels they carry around. While that should be adequate for now, we need flexibility. There are a fleet's worth of ships within three to five days travel of Alacea. I want to send them a couple hundred miles off the coast. I can issue the orders myself but it would be better for all of us if I could also get the signature of, say, the Vice Chancellor. After all, as you said, Hayek is out of town."
Arikan smirked, "Alright, you'll get your political cover. Issue your orders."
[Markov Proving Grounds, Lander's Key]
The field was alive with gunfire as Jack stomped through it, sloshing through the remnants of the previous night's rainfall. He reached the trench, diving into it to avoid a burst from a distant enemy machine gun. Half kneeling, half running, he moved through the trench line, its floor littered with spent casings and discarded magazines. A handful of friendly soldiers still occupied the fortification, firing into the early morning haze with their weapons at unseen foes. He reached a particularly senior looking figure at the end of the trench line. The soldier, covered in brown muck, barked orders into his helmet microphone as Jack stopped next to him, screaming in the man's face.
“WHAT'S OUR STATUS?”
The man, obviously an officer, raised the boom of the microphone, screaming back a reply.
“WE'VE LOST OLIVER AND HENREICH, EVERYONE ELSE IS GOOD TO GO!”
Jack nodded to the affirmative, and checked his helmet mounted display, wiping off the rank moisture that covered it and everything else in his kit. The ruggedized liquid crystal display showed a topographical map of the area, complete with estimated force deployment data. His men, numbering nine active soldiers (including himself) and two incapacitated ones, occupied a trench line roughly sixty meters in length, overlooked by a small rise two hundred and thirty meters downrange to the northeast. The rise was pockmarked with shell craters now occupied by a reinforced squad of hostile infantry. They had set up, Jack estimated, two light machine guns, along with a pair of squad automatic weapons. Directly targeting the enemy troops through the murky haze had been problematic, as neither side had loaded their weapons with tracer ammunition and distant muzzle flashes were difficult to detect through the fog. Enemy losses were unknown, which was more than he could say for Mr. Oliver and his comrade, Heinrich.
The enemy had firepower superiority, that was certain. Given their elevation disadvantage, it was only a matter of time before his team was totally eliminated. He needed to disable those machine guns, and quickly. He checked his heads-up display a second time. There. The way up to the enemy-held positions was laden with rocks and depressions, not enough to shield a major advance. However, he didn't have to advance directly into the enemy's line of fire, did he? He queued the 'push to talk' button on the side of his rifle. “Martin, Lopez, with me!”
The two summoned soldiers broke off the firing line and stumbled towards Jack. One held what Jackson hoped could turn the tide of the firefight. Martin's K28 had a 40mm grenade launcher attached to the bottom of the barrel, as did Jackson's. On Jackson's command, the trio sprinted out of the trench, moving forty meters to the southeast before stopping behind a wrecked civilian truck. Behind them, the officer ordered the remaining five enlisted men to spread out and fire at a higher rate as to mask the fact that three of their number had escaped.
Jackson finalized his plan. He had flash-memorized the route up to the enemy position, and, with the grace of a gazelle under heavy automatic weapons fire, began to put his scheme into action. Sprinting from cover to cover for over one hundred and fifty meters, the fireteam reached the final covered position in the route. The fog had begun to lift, and for the first time the entire morning he had a decent look at his enemies. The unfortunate thing was, that they had a good look at him as well. One of the light machine guns swiveled around to take aim at his position, bathing it in suppressive fire. It was only a matter of time before an enemy fireteam snaked its way over and finished them off.
Not on my watch, he thought. He had a rough estimate of the gunner's position and range, and perhaps a second at most to act. He slide the ranging bar on his grenade launcher's sight to the setting for one hundred meters. Breathing for perhaps the last time, he leaned out from the rock outcropping and steadied his aim, only for it to be thrown off be the shrillest scream he had ever had the displeasure of hearing. A voice boomed through the battlefield.
“Alright, ladies, somethings going down in Alacea, we need you in the briefing room immediately.”
One of the “enemy”, really a fellow mercenary, stood up and waved at the fireteam. Jackson waved a certain part of his anatomy back at the man. He brushed it off, picking up his machine gun and beginning the long trek back to the base. Jackson sighed, and waved his two subordinates over, beginning the dreary walk back to Tactical Solutions' sterile employee barracks.
[Velkyan Embassy, Lorica, Alacea]
Thousands of miles away from the mock battlefield stood the chaos and carnage of the genuine article. Sporadic gunfire complemented the screams and explosions, adding sound to the smoky viscera of a city on the verge of total and utter collapse. Mobs of frenzied and angry civilians advanced towards the Velkyan embassy, carrying all manner of weapons from sections of scavenged lead pipe to military grade firearms. Through the modified mil-dot lens of his sight, Alexi identified one of the agitators. A clean-shaved man dressed in a finely tailored suit, he screamed slogans to the crowd, whipping them into a frenzied wave of fists and arms that was bearing straight towards Alexi and the other two hundred occupants of the building.
Inside the spacious embassy, politicians, soldiers, secretaries, interns, clerks, reporters, and even normal Velkyans living abroad huddled together for mutual support. They had been moved by the two squads of Concordant Marines to the upper floors of the structure while a team of volunteers barricaded the ground floors. Stocked with many tons of food, water, and ammunition, the once hospitable embassy had been turned into a veritable fortress. The twenty odd Marines were distributed around the building, with four fire teams of four Marines each guarding the four sides of the building with the remainder focusing on keeping the anxious mass of civilians calm and placid. Such a task was proving to be more and more difficult as the local civilian populace began to grow more and more rowdy by the moment. The embassy's staff has sustained several minor injuries from debris and errant rifle fire from the riotous local population, and the sight of several walking wounded amongst the refugees was hardly comforting.
Inside the embassy's fortified communications room, however, things were looking slightly more optimistic. The relatively inexperienced satellite and radio operators had outdone themselves, and with the help of their Marine comrades had managed to keep their myriad of communications systems fully operational, despite attempts by the civilian population to destroy them, along with mysterious electronic inference that smacked suspiciously of jamming. They had gotten into sustained contact with patrolling vessels of the 1st Aerovan Flotilla, the subordinate unit of the Armada that was tasked with protecting Landers Key and the trade lanes around it. The fleet carrier FCS Avalon and her battle group, under Rear Admiral Chester Roundelay, had diverted from her assigned patrol route to provide operational cover and extraction for Velkyan citizens and personnel from the nation of Alacea. The total count was somewhere in the thousands, but, thankfully the vast majority had by this point in time mustered to their proper embassies or fled across the border into Cravanian territory upon news of the evacuation order.
From the din of helicopter engines spooling up to the roar of jet fighters launching from catapults, even the dimmest observer could see that the crew of the Avalon was at war. Her spacious flight deck, matching in length what most skyscrapers had in height, was awash in a crowded but organized tide of man and machine. Sailors and Marines scurried around the squadrons of combat aircraft awaiting their payloads and crews, a fierce look of determination on their collective faces. Velkyans were used to the hardships of both the sea and war, and combining the two was a welcome challenge for any Velkyan worth his (or her) salt.
Rear Admiral Roundelay was, by all accounts, worth his share. One would normally expect an officer of his rank and station to stay cooped in the crimson light of the ship's combat information center, but, not Roundelay. Dressed in the traditional blue-black Armada heavy overcoat, he paced the deck, pipe in mouth, supervising the readying of the first wave of the relief forces destined to bring his people home. A half-dozen 'Pelican-D' general purpose naval helicopters sat in a flight line on the deck, prepped and ready. Their crews, five men each, crawled around their charges, performing hurried preflight checks before climbing inside and sprinting off to the rescue. The number two aircraft was the first to finish, their crews donning their protective armor and headgear and climbing into their aircraft before beginning the process of spooling their rotor blades. On command, a fireteam of heavily armed Marines climbed through the side doors of the helicopter, strapping themselves into their jumpseats. One by one, the helicopters brought their blades to full flight-capable rotation. In order from the first in the formation, the pilots manipulated their collectives, carefully gaining altitude against the moderately windy skies. Within a few moments, the group of aircraft had positioned themselves into three groups of two, grouping a rather large section of sky.
Circling thousands of feet above them was a section of 'Guardian-C' naval air superiority aircraft, drawing sharp but distant contrails amongst the unhappy gray skies. These four aircraft were tasked with providing top-cover for the six rescue helicopters skimming the surface of the white-capped seas. Four more aircraft sat on a ten minute alert status, meaning that the aircraft could be in the air, combat ready, ten minutes from a launch order. Having this many fueled and armed planes on deck was a gamble, but it was a necessary one. Velkyan lives were on the line.
Roundelay watched the dark silhouettes of his aircraft disappear over the horizon. A flash of lightning and its accompanying crack brightened the dreary world for a fleeting moment, giving way to a light drizzle of rain which began to pour down on the tarmac of the flight deck. Pulling the rain-cover hood of his overcoat up, the veteran mariner took a puff of his pipe and began the trek back to the CIC.
[Velkyan Embassy, Lorica, Alacea]
Hundreds of miles away, back in the red-hot furnace of civil unrest, Alexi began to fidget. The mob began to pound on the gates of the embassy, jeering rudely at the occupants. The suited agitator that he had identified earlier called for the release of 'what belonged to Alacea' as his cronies tossed stones and bottles at the building itself. The crowd let off sporadic bursts of gunfire which only seemed to inflame them more. Alexi mentally likened the crowd to a firestorm, sustaining itself while consuming all in its fiery wake. Obviously, with its high level of armament and even higher level of agitation, the crowd posed a serious and grave danger to the embassy and its occupants. However, Alexi and the rest of the Marines were prohibited from engaging them until they breached the gate. After all, the crowd, no matter how violent, was still on Alacean soil. Alexi cursed the entirety of politics under his breath as he readjusted his telescopic lens.
He heard the Armada adjutant to the base, a gruff engineering officer by the name of Commander Gravdal, speaking into his ear piece. Although Alexi and the other Marines all possessed advanced Gothic-made combat suits complete with advanced command and control systems, he, being a traditional sniper, had shelved all the unnecessary bits, keeping only a flexible civilian grade ballistic vest, a wool skullcap, and the inter-squad communications unit. It didn't matter. To the crowd outside, he was invisible.
They were getting serious. The wrought iron gates of the outer wall were being slamming repeatedly, each blow threatening to tear them from the concrete. Their yelling and chanting got louder, spurred on the confident and arrogant face of the man in the suit. Alexi swiveled his rifle into position, centering the zero on the man's forehead. He worked the bolt, chambering the first point double three eight round. All that separated the man from solving the greatest mystery of life was two hundred meters of air and Alexi's trigger finger.
It happened. The gates, unable to take the abuse any longer, collapsed, skidding on the fancy paving stones of the outer pathway, creating a shower of bright yellow sparks. The crowd mustered an animal shriek before pouring into the complex.
Alexi flipped the safety off.
Consul's Palace, Minutes After the First Attacks
indentToday was nothing out of the ordinary for Alacean Lord Consul Gordon Barkove. A lazy day at home would best describe it. The Imperial Senate was in recess, and for once nothing cluttered his mind but the thought of his upcoming vacation to the Cravanian Virgin Islands in about a week or so. All he had to do was finish signing these various bureaucratic documents and he could be done for the day. He glanced out of his office's bay window to catch a glimpse of the Lorican harbor. He noticed something that didn't usually belong in the picture- smoke. And lots of it.
IndentBefore the man could formulate a response, his top advisor, Merill Hitchons, burst into the room.”Sir, we've got-” Knowing the phrase by heart, Barkove finished the sentence for her. “Let me guess- a situation?”. “I'm afraid so, Gordon.” “Fill me in,” the leader replied grimly.
indent”We've just had two of the largest terror attacks on our soil in our entire history. There's no reason to expect they'll stop coming anytime soon. Sarin killed three thousand people in the nation's tallest building-” “The IA skyscraper eh?” “Yes, and the Lorican system- well, its not there anymore.” Barkove buried his face into his hands. Sweat had already soaked through his shirt, a marvelous feat considering he'd been fantasizing about his lustrous getaway not two minute's before. Giving her superior a few seconds to think, Merill spoke up again. “We need orders, sir. What will I tell Jenson in the military dep-” The woman was in turn interrupted when a strange figure walked through the door.
IndentThe man was decked in a standard staff uniform. However any Palace staff who dared enter this strictly off-limits area had quite a punishment heading their way. None ever had before. “What's the meaning of this?!” the woman demanded, stepping in front of the Alacean head of state's desk as if she offered some form of real protection. The intruder said nothing. No reaction came besides that of a smirk. Hitchons picked up on the malevolent tint immediately. She could read people like books. “Explain yourself before I call security!” she shrieked, as if she were in any position to give orders. Behind her, the Lord Consul slowly reached for his pistol he kept in his drawer at all times. Christ, its locked! he realized in horror. He almost fainted with shock.
indentStill the man said nothing, piercing the air with his foreboding presence. “Get awt of thee vay.” the figure said menacingly, shocking the two with both the sudden discharge of speech and the thick Karelyan accent that accompanied it. The woman finally relented and stepped aside.
IndentWithout warning the man produced a pistol with frightening reflexes. He raised it directly at the Lord Consul's head. “Vat wasn't so hard naw, vas it lahv?” he cackled, glancing at Merill. He returned his attention to his target. “So long, Meester Barkove.” The echo of a gunshot rang throughout the building, and the Lord Consul was no more.
indentSeveral days passed. The thought of the attacks on civilians was not as nearly as frightening as the realization that even one's government was at great risk as well. Of course, Barkove's vice was sworn in as Lady Consul within an hour of his death. A young woman known as Alissa Beroe, she was hardly thirty and chosen as VLC to appease feminists more than anything. As was expected the woman had made the standard riveting speech promising retribution and to restore order, etcetera etcetera. But based on what intel was feeding her, she was scared beyond her wits.
Airspace over Karelya, 1200 Hours
indentVerikov reeled back in his reclining chair, glancing out of his window onto the icy ground thousands of feet below him. Once again, the clock was the only thing audible as Avelo found himself waiting for yet another key event in his life. Any moment now... come on.... The man heaved a large sigh as he decided what he was hoping for so badly would not come for a few more minutes.
insertSlowly, time whittled away, and though it felt like eons had passed, finally the General's personal Secretary rushed over to his side. Slowly, she knelt down to his ear. ”Sir, it is done.” “Excellent.” the man said to no one in particular. “Have the broadcast ready for when we arrive in Queenston.”
insertThe last several hours of the flight passed blazingly fast when compared to the chronological doldrums experienced before. Once again gazing out of the craft's window, Avelo noticed something new on the horizon- the faint outline of suburbia.
insert”Sir, we'll be landing in about twenty minutes or so.” The woman's superior offered no reply other than a nod. The vast tundra beneath the plane had completely faded away and the small towns that replaced them were in turn evolving into an ever more urban setting. The cars and surplus of citizens that usually dotted the streets as ants had all but vanished. The metropolis resembled a well-kept, oversized ghosttown. Most of the Alacean population were holed up in their homes for the moment, having raided nearby grocery stores for food to survive for undefined periods of time. Avelo was jolted to attention from his daydream as the landing gear skidded against the tarmac. He quickly grasped his leather office chair's hand rests. He didn't like landings. Much too much chaos and disorganization.
IndentThe man quickly climbed off of the stairway leading off of the small personal plane and into an armored limousine (tinted windows, of course) not ten yards from the plane. A brief ride to the Coactionist party headquarters would now commence, hardly more than walking distance from the airport.
IndentLike the climax of a blockbuster movie, every piece was perfect in the scene. A podium in front of gushing fountains, with a large marble building in the background. Unseen in the picture was a teleprompter directly in front of the podium, and of course, a great many series of cameras and microphones.
IndentAvelo's best men had been put to the task of hacking the Emergency Transmission Command, accessible to only the highest seats in the Imperial Government, a device that transmits over all television and AM radio channels. Finally they had it cracked, and Avelo could make the next move in this game he'd been playing. Avelo's transport pulled up to the building, and the chauffeur briskly walked over to the General's door and opened it, escorting him to the podium.
Indent”Sir. Broadcasting in fifteen seconds,” whispered a nearby technician. Verikov cleared his throat, preparing to speak with his somewhat hoarse voice, weakened by many years of screaming commands on many far-flung battlefields .
Indent”Greetings, my fellow Alaceans. I come to you today with a proposal; one that, hopefully, will change the course of destruction we're currently headed on with blazing speed. First, however, we must get properly acquainted. To those of you who do not know me, I am High General Avelo Verikov of the Sovereign Empire of Alacea, at least officially that is. Recently, deadly attacks have rocked our nation, and dark secrets about our government have been revealed. I am coming forward with the truth about these attacks, and what they mean for our glorious future.
IndentYou see, our government knows exactly who was behind the attacks. They were, largely, planned among coordinating separitist groups, and the terror cells funded by mainly the Cravanian government, seeking to divide us in a time of peril. Our government, in turn, seeks to reap the fear that was sewn by these cowards. I know exactly what is needed as a remedy to this dilemna- and that is uncompromising unity. Merely a few days ago, I assumed the honorable position of the newly formed Coactionist party. The party that now controls over seventy percent of the voting base.
IndentWhere am I going with this, you may ask. You see, citizens, I am asking for your support. Together, we can seize control of this nation once more, and lead it back to its once prominent state. Most of the military will agree a temporary state of martial law must be instituted to restore order. [Avelo's voice becomes less welcoming and more stern and has a hint of malice] However our problems are much more deeply rooted than would appear. For centuries, wars have raged across our continent over territorial pursuits and foreign aggression. It was only a matter of time before these conflicts boiled over- I believe they did not four days ago. We cannot overcome our problems alone- we must destroy the ancestral bonds holding us apart! End Cravan's stranglehold on Aerova!
IndentCitizen and soldier alike- choose you this day whom you will serve. Will it be the new Alacea? Or the crumbling shell of its former self? One Alacea! One Aerova!” Verikov flashed a strange gesture, raising his right arm to form a ninety-degree angle with his shoulder joint. Holding the position for half a second, he quickly raised his forearm to form another ninety degree angle with his elbow. The (presumed) salute was unmistakably the strange mark appearing all over the nation.
IndentOnce more telephones rang off of their hooks. In military gatherings all over the country, cheers permeated much of the surrounding areas. Most families had sat, perplexed, watching the event unfold in front of their eyes. Some (the Alaceans that belonged to the Coacs) merely nodded in approval. Still others took to the street, causing a new torrent of riots (some in favor of the Coacs, some vehemently opposed) to again ravage the streets of the Empire. The tide of a new age was about to overcome the entire nation...
Three fucking days.
Gerald Hashford sat at his desk, watching the crowd at the gates. If there was one thing he could say about these people, its that they were persistent.
The last load of civilian workers had left approximately fifteen minutes earlier, and Hashford had elected to stay with his marines until he was relieved by a superior in the Foreign Office. He expected that to happen within twenty or thirty minutes, at which time the marines manning the gates would retreat to the building and hold out on the helipad until a final evacuation could occur.
"Gerald," came a voice from the door. "Come on, we're going to start the final evac procedures."
"Right," the ambassador said while rising to his feet. Looking up, it was his Security Attache, Richard Prowler of the Royal Intelligence Service. Hashford capped the bottle of gin that sat on his desk, and lifted the sidearm which he had taken from the armory and placed it in his jacket. "Let's get to it."
The two walked together down to the second story, where those members of the security and intelligence staff were being assisted by some Naval Infantry clerks in destroying sensitive materials. Paper shredders shrieked as page after page was destroyed, shredded in nine different ways before being mixed together and finally strewn about the office floor in a random fashion. As clerks worked on destroying papers, two marines had brought up large containers of gasoline and had begun spreading it around the parts of the office which were already littered with a sea of shredded files.
"The bastards won't get anything once they inevitably get in," Prowler said proudly. "The lobby's already been doused and the fireproof doors at the top of the stairs are ready for when our boys finally all get across."
"Right," Hashford affirmed. "Apparently a heavy chopper has been rerouted in finally, so they can get all of us in one swoop out to the Aequatian embassy until we can get out of the country. The Aequatians are still holding out pretty well from what I've heard."
"Sir," a marine clerk said hesitantly, "you might want to see this."
Both Hashford and Prowler approached a television which amazingly still had service. Coming in through the emergency channel was a man in military uniform, sternly addressing the camera.
"...You see, our government knows exactly who was behind the attacks. They were, largely, planned among coordinating separitist groups, and the terror cells funded by mainly the Cravanian government, seeking to divide us in a time of peril. Our government, in turn, seeks to reap the fear that was sewn by these cowards. I know exactly what is needed as a remedy to this dilemna- and that is uncompromising unity..."
Hashford watched the television for a few minutes afterwards, finally flipping a chair or two and a desk over.
"Who the fuck is that and who does he think he is pinning this on us?"
Following the ambassador's outburst silence fell upon the room, the sound of the paper shredders dying out. The occupants of the office looked awkwardly at one another until finally Prowler approached Hashford.
"Listen, Ger, we're gonna be fine. It's all gonna be fine. Come on, let's get some coffee. I'm sure there's some left in the lounge."
"Yeah... Yeah, let's go."
Cravanian Broadcasting Network
Cravanian Naval Infantry Dig in in Lorica
CBN-1 Breaking News Broadcast
Crisis in Lorica; Aeryn Fyrenold Reporting
"We come to you live from our studios here in Derby, Arran as just across the border the crisis in Alacea unfolds. It is day three of the crisis, and we are receiving word that the last of the Cravanian embassy staff in Lorica is preparing to evacuate. We currently have no feed inside the building, however the marines at the embassy have set up a live camera on the roof which has been feeding us constantly. Currently, little has changed as the crowds outside the gates continue to shift and rotate as some leave and more arrive. With more on the government's actions on the matter, Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd Williams comes to us live from Laurana. It's a pleasure, Your Honour."
"Thank you, Ms. Fyrenold."
"Your Honour, what can you say the government is currently doing about this situation?"
"Well, Ms. Fyrenold, we're frankly doing everything we can. Travel advisories have been issued, and evacuations of all Cravanian civilians are underway to get them out of the line of fire. I've also been told that some foreign nationals have been making their way into Arran, however holders of Alacean passports are under scrutiny following the terror attacks in their nation. They are, however, welcome."
"Can you comment on the situations surrounding numerous embassies in downtown Lorica?"
"All I can say at this point in time is that the Foreign Office is doing everything it can to ensure a speedy evacuation from our embassy and consulates around Alacea. I am aware that our allies are doing the same."
"Indeed, also, can you... Wait, I'm receiving something... I'm sorry, Your Honour, but it appears that Correspondent Tyler Reynolds is in our News Room with a developing story coming straight out of Alacea. Tyler, what is it we're getting."
"Well, Aeryn, it appears to speak for itself. A transmission was broadcast on the Alacean emergency networks two minutes ago. We have it here, and its sure to raise a bit of hell back home.
The transmission by Avelo was broadcast for the first time on Cravanian television, and it certainly wouldn't be the last as numerous experts would pick it apart piece by piece in the days to come.
Palace of Lancaster
House of Commons Antechamber
The flash bulbs flashed wildly as the Iron Lady walked briskly to the podium which had been set up on short notice outside of the Commons. Adjusting her hair and straightening her skirt, Annadale raised the microphone stands to her usual comfortable height and stared into the dark mechanical eyes before her.
"At eleven in the morning Laurana time, a broadcast originating from the Alacean province of Karelya from a Mr. Avelo Verikov was sent across emergency airwaves. Mr. Avelo's broadcast, however, is disconcerting to this Government, this Parliament, and this nation. His words place blame for the terror attacks in Alacea upon the Cravanian government, and accuse us of funding cells in and around Alacea with the intent of breaking up the Alacean government for our own benefit. I will say this now, and I will reiterate it as much as I need: This government does not and shall never at any point in time deal with terrorists. Her Majesty's Government has no motive to commit these atrocious crimes against our friends in Alacea, and these accusations by General Verikov are unfounded and completely false.
"In fact, I would be sooner more willing to point the finger at Mr. Verikov for some sort of involvement in these events than at our own government or any other entity. His rise to prominence in such a short period and blatant fear mongering and finger pointing is suspicious, to say the least.
"It is also with great sadness that I must confirm the death of my close friend and colleague Lord Consul Barkove. Reports are sketchy and unreliable at best about the circumstances of his death, however they are of course suspicious and obviously linked to the recent attacks. The Royal Intelligence Service is working tirelessly to uncover more information as the situation develops, and we are currently trying to contact Lady Consul Beroe. All queries sent to her office thusfar, however, have remained unanswered in the wake of the chaos.
"I ask our friends in Alacea to be prudent in the coming days as this crisis develops. Despite what Mr. Verikov states, Cravan is eternally a friend of the Alacean people and legitimate Alacean government. Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this time."
Private Message to the Velkyan Government
It has been established that numerous Velkyan citizens in Alacea have taken leave to Arran in an attempt to escape the violence. The Arranic government is doing everything in its power to take in as many Velkyan citizens as possible and accommodate for them until they can be transferred to the nearby Velkyan territories in Aerova. We will, of course, keep you posted on any and all developments concerning Velkyan citizens in Cravanian territory.
Sir Leroy Webbings
Director of the Foreign Office
Encrypted Priority Message to the Alacean Authorities
Madame Consul Beroe, or any appropriate employee thereof who receives this message, is requested to immediately make contact with the Cravanian government through any possible means. The Cravanian government, having numerous interests in Alacea including the well being of the Alacean people, wishes to know any and all developments which it could possibly assist the rightful Alacean authorities with. Thank you, and please try to contact our government as soon as possible through any means necessary.
Sir Leroy Webbings
Director of the Foreign Office
[OOC: I got permission from Alacea to do something along these lines. It is still fairly open as to what his IC response will be.]
Planning Operations Room
“Well, we need to think of something,” Admiral Roland despaired. It had been an hour since the embassy had contacted him. Time was ticking and only God knew how many Questarian - and indeed allied - civilians were still safe in the city. It was his job; no, it was his duty, as an Admiral of the Royal Navy to save at least the Anglospheric citizens of Lorica from persecution. Of course, he couldn't do it all on his own. But he could damn well try.
His Air Planning Officer paused for a moment. “Erm,” he curled his lower lip upwards and looked up at the ceiling, “I have an idea. It's rather far fetched, but in this confusion, it just might work. Right, I'm sure this city has a stadium of some sorts, or at least some open ground. We send out as much of our airgroup as we possibly can and lock down the airspace around Lorica. AWACs high in the sky, fighters orbiting their airfields, bombers on SEAD - and then we send in the Marines to take this stadium, and we can slowly begin evacing all the civvies.” He paused again, “at least the ones with the right passports.”
“That's good. I like it,” Roland said, “you think we can do that?”
“Certainly. We can lock down the airspace for as long as the fuel lasts or until their airforce gets its act together, certainly. We can probably put two hundred or so marines down in that stadium.” He cleared some space on the desk. “Do we have any sat-photos of Lorica?” The APO asked the IntO, who so far had said very little.
“Er, yes. Should do. Hold on one minute,” he replied, searching patiently through a large file that was sitting on his desk. “Here you go,” he slid the photos across and sat back in his seat, lighting another cigarette.
A minute later he found what he was looking for. “See here?” The APO marked a large stadium with a red marker pen, marker fluids dripping slowly down the page just for a few seconds before they dried into the photograph. “This will do. It's the largest of them all. Access shouldn't be a problem. You would be surprised how fast people run when their lives depend upon it.” he grinned. Yes, this plan was coming together. “Actually,” he said, looking at the map once more “we can do two stadiums. Statesman has her full complement, right?”
“I think so,” the Admiral replied, “that's about a thousand eight hundred.”
“So let's take this one too,” the APO circled the second stadium, “me and Roger will work on an order of battle. You had better go talk to the Squadron leaders.” Roland nodded, realising only when he had left the room that he was just given an order by an Air Planning Officer, a man whose rank hardly touched Commodore, let alone Admiral. Nevertheless, the order of battle was drawn, and the airmen and their aircraft readied. Op Soapbox as it had been quickly named using a random noun generator was ready to go.
Forty Minutes Later
“Op Soapbox begins in T Minus three… two… one… commence Operation Soapbox, time fifteen-fifty, date, 20th August 1962.”
Only a split second after the voice had finished did Captain Mark Amsterdam shoot his Blackburn Battle off the deck of the aircraft carrier and into the air, quickly to be followed by his formation, No.677 Naval Air Squadron. The Antelope was shooting fighters and other aircraft into the air as fast as she could and within good time the entire package assembled was airborne and heading towards Lorica. Now the fun would begin. In total, sixteen Battle fighter aircraft escorted a single Sportsman AEW, twelve Cossack strike bombers, and four Sea Fury electronic aircraft, large amounts of electronic equipment slung under their wings and fuselages. Five sections of aircraft; Red, Green, Blue, Purple and Orange respectively, composed the strike package.
Behind them, from the HMS Statesman, twenty one Westland Warrior helicopters followed in close formation, one breaking off to head another direction.
“Victor One transmitting to all aircraft. Now you fighter jocks better listen closely,” the Airborne Coordination Officer spoke crisply over the radio from his AEW aircraft. “I know you boys like shooting stationary targets but there is going to be absolutely no firing until I give the clear, is that understood?”
“Tango One transmitting all aircraft,” the reply came shortly after. “Don’t worry about us, we can follow our orders, unlike some people.” Amsterdam snickered into the radio, referring to the training exercise they had conducted a week beforehand.
“Victor One transmitting all aircraft, now listen here you bloody little whippersnapper, I’ve been directing flight ops since you were sucking on your mother’s breasts, so stow it, understood?” the ACO snorted.
“Tango One transmitting all aircraft, and I’ve been sucking on your mother’s breasts since you got your scrambled eggs old man!”
“Victor One transmitting all aircraft, bugger off!”
The aircraft cruised silently at low altitude until they reached the Alacean mainland, Lorica coming in sight as the aircraft rose above radar level. Victor One opened communications with the city’s airport authority.
“Lorica Tower this is Green Leader, how do you read?” Victor one fumbled about with the microphone after there was no reply and sent another message. “Lorica Tower this is Green Leader.”
Finally Lorica tower responded. “Station calling Tower?”
Victor One grinned. If everything went to plan this would go down in history as a textbook civilian rescue operation. “Tower this is Green Leader. This is a message for the Station Commander at Lorica from the Questarian Fleet Air Arm. We are conducting civilian rescue operations at this time. This operation is non-hostile and we are not attacking the legitimate Alacean Government. Questers has no quarrel, I repeat, no quarrel, with the legitimate Alacean Government. We therefore ask you not to oppose or intervene in our operations. However, we are orbiting your airfield at this time,” Victor One looked on his radar screen to see his fighters zoom out over the airfield and take up an air patrol position outside the city and indeed over the airfield.
“and are under orders to shoot down any Alacean Air Force aircraft or destroy any surface to air weaponry that does not comply with this request and attempts to take off or engage. Did you copy all that?” he finished.
“Copied!” came the response from tower.
“Roger, thanks. Cheers!” Victor One replied merrily down the radio. He turned to look once more at the composition of his strike package. Quickly and decisively his fighters had moved into position, orbiting the airfield and running emissions-free around the perimeter of the city. Any incoming aircraft would be picked up on his radar, and any aircraft taking off would be seen by the fighters over the airport; all four of them.
Furthermore his bomber package was idling at low speed, air to surface weapons hanging off their wings. Attempts at illuminating or targeting the aircraft from the surface would result in a quick dispatchment of whoever was ‘breaking the rules’.
“Victor One, tally, one radar, track one forty,” a Sea Fury pilot buzzed over the radio.
“Hotel One, action music track one forty,” Victor One replied back calmly. Alacean radars on the ground would quickly come under electronic jamming from the Questarian aircraft. Deciding that it was not fair game to withdraw warning, Victor One reopened his channel to the station.
“Tower, do you read? This is Green Leader, we are presently jamming military radar frequencies on the ground. I repeat that we mean no hostile intent towards the legitimate Alacean Government and are acting in self-defence only, repeat, in self-defence… any attacks on our airgroup will be met with retaliation, do you copy?”
Victor One waited patiently for a reply.
The thirty survivors cheered when the Questarian helicopter in her Navy grey, RN-FAA printed in bold on her side, came into view. Hands held onto hats as the helicopter landed on the roof. With no time to lose they ran onto the helicopter, bringing whatever possessions they could carry with them. The Questarian embassy, despite being ransacked and suffering multiple casualties, had been evacuated, and those bodies of Questarians that were still around taken onboard the helicopter. A disorganised and dishonourable retreat from a disorganised and dishonourable affair.
In Lorica itself however, there was more work to be done. Many Questarian and otherwise allied civilians were trapped inside the city, and although full scale turmoil had not yet broken out, it was clear that soon enough the country would be thrown into disarray even more so than it had been already. Therefore, the Questarian military was due to intervene, as part of Operation Soapbox. The airspace being secured, the twenty dozen helicopters split up and headed to their destinations: two of Lorica’s stadiums that would now serve as civilian evacuation points for those who could not escape into Arran.
The helicopters were a sight to for sore eyes for some and a clear nuisance for others; but there would always be those who saw them as an invading foreigner, which was probably what they actually were, Major Tom Blake reflected as he stepped out of the helicopter, one of three that had actually landed in the Western Evacuation Zone, in order to deploy supplies and a temporary medical centre.
“Major, Sir,” a clean shaven man saluted Blake as he swaggered up to the officer’s meeting that was being conducted on a fold out table. Around him, marines took up positions on the stadium, just under three hundred of them garrisoning the building with an assortment of non lethal – and lethal – weaponry. The Questarian flag was raised above the building, as was the flag of the International Red Cross. Not only was the Western Evacuation Zone a military zone, it was also a civilian one. Major Blake fully intended the medical centre to be operational for the duration of his stay in Lorica.
“Good Morning Lieutenant Young,” Blake saluted back, poking a cigarette in his own mouth and offering one to Young, who took it gracefully. The other two officers were Young’s inferiors, as Captain Longbridge was seeing to his snipers on the roof of the stadium. “How long until we are ready to receive civilians?”
“An hour or so Sir,” Young replied. “The medical centre should be up and running in another hour, we have one more flight of equipment to make.”
“Good news,” Blake nodded his head. “Good news indeed. Well, gentlemen – we’re here for the long haul, apparently, at least a week, so you better get used to it. Fix up the counterbattery equipment when it comes, no doubt these bloody terrs have some mortars on them. And if they start shelling us – get the bloody helicopters in the air.” That was all Blake said before he lit the cigarette and turned to walk off, presumably to go find Captain Longbridge. Young blinked in relative confusion.
“Better get to work then!”
B Flight, No.898 Squadron
“Bloody hell. Will you look at that,” the copilot muttered. Gazing out the window, he watched as the city docks burned, oozing their thick black discharge into the skies above and swamping the wispy clouds with the disgusting entrails of human construction. The entire city was a mess. Crowds pushed through the streets, cars lay overturned or else alight, and within it all, Questarian citizens hid timidly in their homes. Shouting Civis Questarianius Sum and showing a passport to the mob wasn’t going to work, the copilot thought.
“Mmm,” his pilot replied, not really caring. He had never been one for observing the atmosphere. “This really is fucked up,” he said, “but I couldn’t really care less. We’re here to get our people out, and when we’ve done that, we can let these barbarians slaughter each other.” Evidently the pilot had no love for Alacea; like many Questarians he was brought up around the ‘siege mentality’, and the modernity of Alacean society when compared to Questers was not something that this man admired.
“Well, we better get on with it then,” the copilot said, configuring the controls for the loudspeaker. Passing over the city blocks, the embassies, the offices, the schools and hospitals, the loudspeaker blared out its message to anyone, whether they were listening or not. Over the rotor blades, the hum of the engine, the whistling of the air around them, the two crewmen could hear it themselves. The message was intended for everyone, because that was the only real way anyone could hear it.
“Evacuation Zones have been set up at Lorican sports stadiums. If you are a citizen of the following nations then you may enter the safe zone by proving your identity. Nationalities that will be accepted are as follows: Questarian, Northfordian, Praetonian, Clandonian, Willinkian, Cravanian, Hamptonian, Scandavian, Allanean, Chevrokian, Franberrian, and Aequatian. That is all.”
The message would repeat itself, over, and over, and over again, as the helicopter made its way round the city. While they had a large number of chaff and an impressive ECM suite at their disposal, the crew still felt uneasy, occasionally fidgeting with the controls and bringing the helicopter to different altitudes. In this country, any old terrorist could be armed with any old anti-aircraft weapon.
The copilot peered out at Embassy Street, “well will you look at that,” he said. “Is that the Velkyan embassy?”
“I don’t know, you’re the one who’s actually bothered,” the pilot replied sarcastically. The helicopter took one pass over the numerous besieged embassies and then turned to its new heading, cutting through the skies and away from the battles raging below. It was none of their business what happened on the ground, nor who it was happening too.
Aequatian Republic Embassy, Lorica, Alacea
A group of Marines in full combat gear stood next to similarly equipped operators from the Blackthrone Security Agency as the Cravanian UH-28 helicopter set down on the cleared landing pad. It had only been an hour since the initial reports of the rioting that the State Department had issued the evacuation orders for those Aequatian nationals living within Lorica to make their way to the embassy for an egress to the waiting ships at sea. However, the civilians would have to be collected and shuttled out via helicopter.
The Cravanian nationals would be staying alongside their Aequatian counterparts in the compound's expansive rooms and halls, many of the more formal areas were now filled with spartan cots and blankets while the kitchen was converted into a large galley in order to cook the food that was available. Although the food stored inside was enough for most of the Republic's citizens that were there, the added Cravanians strained planning and the rations were relatively smaller than expected, which only motivated the Ambassador Dexter Brooks, Marine Major Hermia Keightly and Blackthorne Chief Robert Tanguey, a former Army Special Forces colonel, to get the civilian group off the ground as soon as possible and to safety.
The embassy compound itself was constructed, just as any other around the world, to be a veritable urban fortress if needed and prepared for a lengthy siege from social unrest as was the case now in Lorica. The walls stood four metres tall and were manufactured with steel-reinforced concrete, an interior anti-spalling liner and topped with spools of razorwire and carefully positioned closed-circuit television cameras on key points of the exterior. The gate itself was meant to look like wrought iron, however, it was constructed with triple-hardened steel and, since the beginning of the unrest, had a bundles of concertina wire sitting in front of it with Marine guards to prevent troublemakers from approaching it but still allowing access to Aequatian nationals arriving on foot. Lance Corporal Troy Dawkins stood just at the gate within the compound with his G9A2 rifle in hand, bayonet fixed, as a group of rioters ransacked a line of buildings across the street. Lighting up a cigarette with a rifle resting against her body armour and chest rig as her hands were used to hold the cigarette and lighter, Sergeant Maryann Akura, approached the gate position, "Afternoon, lance corporal, what's the sitrep?"
"Rather uneventful," Dawkins replied, "Security teams on the South wall fired on rioters with less-lethal rounds from the MGL-324, they dispersed with little incident. What's the deal with the Cravan birds?" He asked while pointing at the UH-28 Black Falcon as it lifted off the helipad and back out over the city.
"Their folks are coming here to hunker down before we make our way out of the city," Answered the sergeant, "They're going to shuttle everyone out to some of their ships off the coast, then off to the Virgin Islands no doubt."
"Sounds nice," Said the lance corporal as he turned to watch a group of rioters approaching the embassy, chasing after what appeared to be a young couple, "Sergeant, we may have something here."
"Open the gate!" Shouted Akura, her Jadan-accented English roared with authority as one of the marines in the guardhouse complied and the gate's electric motor hummed as it retracted inside the wall on its rail. Leading forward Dawkins and two other marines out into the small position protected by the wire coils, the sergeant raised the weapon to her shoulder and peered down the weapon's M36 optic at the couple and the surging mass behind them, "Gregory, put a gas canister in front of that crowd, Dawkins, you're with me," Said the sergeant as she pushed out one of the coils of wire with a gloved hand and sprinted forward with her G9A2 in-hand with Dawkins just behind her with his own weapon.
There was a low-concussive blast as the MGL-324 fired a single round through the air, the guiding ribbons unfurled from the rear as it whistled before arching down in flight. detonating in mid-air, it expelled its contents as a cloud of CR Gas overtook the majority of the crowd. Those exposed to the agent would find themselves suffering from intense irritation and skin pain as others were immediately incapacitated and fell to the ground coughing and gasping for breath, leading many to panic and withdraw from the area around the embassy. Some would stumble about with temporary blindness, tripping and falling over those suffering on the ground to join in the agony and writhing as the two marines retrieved the young couple and returned them to the compound grounds and led inside with the others, the guards having confirmed their Aequatian passports.
The four marines sat at the foot of the gatehouse huffing to catch their breath while Akura lit another cigarette, "Uneventful, huh?" She said turning to Dawkins.
The lance corporal smiled, "It was until you got here, sergeant."
[ATOG Primary Base Camp, Lander's Key]
“Citizen and soldier alike- choose you this day whom you will serve. Will it be the new Alacea? Or the crumbling shell of its former self? One Alacea! One Aerova!”
The television screen flickered off. The base commander turned to the gathered men, numbering at least in the sixties. Most were still dressed in their muddy and worn battle dress uniforms, patiently waiting for the senior official to begin the real portion of the meeting. The man, wearing an immaculate issue of the blue-black formal dress of the Velkyan military man and wearing the markings of an intelligence officer, stood in start contrast to the rough and ready men he was briefing. Still, this man was an expert in his given field, a simple fact which won him much credence from the gathered special operators.
He began. His voice still had the vigor of youth in it, with the accompanying brash confidence that came with that vigor.
“Gentlemen I'm sure my profession and I need no introduction. However, the same cannot be said of our friend, Mister Avelo Verikov.”
The screen flickered to a portrait of the 'friend' in question. Dashing, charismatic, quite handsome.
He would not be out of place amongst history's tyrants. The spook continued.
“Verikov holds the official title of High General in the Alacean armed forces, although, a more truthful and forthright title would have to be “Master of the Universe”. According to our human intelligence assets operating in the Alacean military and civil government structure, Verikov commands very high respect and influence amongst the average grunt in the Alacean military, to the point of these men and their commanders being more loyal to Verikov than to their people and national identity. Naturally, given the condition of the Alacean nation at the present time, this situation is a recipe for disaster.”
The slide moved to a projection of Alacea and the neighboring countries.
“For those of you who failed geography, particularly the geography of the operational theater you're stationed at, a small refresher course is in order. The Sovereign Empire of Alacea occupies a large portion of the western territory of the continent of Aerova, and is bordered on its eastern frontiers by the Unified Republic of Zeoch and the sovereign Cravanian territory of Arran. It is this latter state that is our primary concern. At approximately 0130 Central Aerovan Time, we received an official communique for the Cravanian government requisitioning the services of Tactical Solutions Incorporated. The entire combat strength of the Aerovan Theater of Operations Garrison special operations department has been selected for immediate but discreet deployment to the Arran-Alacean border. Gentlemen, we are going to war. It's not official, and your families cannot be notified, but this region is powder keg, and right now, Verikov's holding the match over it. We can count on him to drop it.”
The screen turned an inky black.
“We are departing at 0400 tomorrow morning for Lander's City International Aerodrome. Information regarding specific boarding and flight arrangements will be handed out in your respective barracks. Dismissed gentlemen. Godspeed, and good hunting.”
With a flourish, and slightly dampened demeanor, the men rose and filed out of the room.
[Lorica Area of Operations]
Straining his eyes and adjusting the focus dials of his binoculars, the element leader scanned the cloudy horizon of the embattled city below him. In the ejection seat behind his, his radio intercept officer mentally cycled through various RADAR and ECM displays, keeping vigil over the invisible radio spectrum while his comrade watched the one that was not. The aircraft banked slightly to port, the pilot lightly applying the rudder as he changed his course. His wingman followed his lead, and two pairs of wispy white contrails flowed artfully over the Velkyan embassy.
Similar evacuation operations were going on elsewhere in cities all over the nation of Alacea, with the combined forces of the Gothic nations pulling out all the stops to ensure that their people got home. Gothic flagged airliners and merchant vessels were pouring in and out of Lander's Key's various port facilities, offloading the precious cargo of civilians in what was, for the moment, a safe harbor. Greater still, many merchant captains, unwilling to leave their compatriots behind it a hostile nation in the throes of rebellion, sailed back, despite interference (occasionally violent) from the Alacean armed forces, which were, like their parent nation, in a state of disarray. While the vessels of the Armada's Aerovan Flotilla were out in full force, their hundred odd combat vessels were spread thin attempting to cover the evacuation of thousands of foreign nationals. Even with the indirect support (or least distraction) of Cravanian and Questarian navies, the Armada would require a far larger presence in the area to successfully combat the Alacean navy, should that force become coherent enough to interdict evacuation operations.
It was war, no mistake about it. No formal declarations from the Velkyan government as of yet, but, there was no hiding the fact. Alacean radicals sat dead (and continued to die) on the grounds of sovereign Velkyan territory with Velkyan bullets lodged in their persons, while armed Velkyan naval aircraft had penetrated Alacean airspace, using the efficient electronic jamming cover their unwitting Imperial allies were affording them. So far, there had been no organized resistance from Alacean regular forces, but with the public emergence of Verikov, that was a very fluid and uncertain factor.
[Echo Blue One]
“Echo Blue Flight, distance to landing zone is ten kilometers, keep your eyes peeled, your LZ is hot, over.”
“Copy, Sauron, we are en route, ETA is two minutes, over.”
The first element, consisting of two separate Pelican aircraft, rumbled over the tops of offices and apartment buildings, followed loosely by the second and third ones. Fires blazed around the city, and the crew of Echo Blue Nine watched as fire-fighting and police vehicles blazed through the early morning streets, their sirens blaring loudly in determination. None stopped, not even with foreign military helicopters moving other their city. Airman Apprentice Dominique Michaels, swinging her door-gun across its firing port, figured they either too afraid to do so, or simply didn't care. Judging by the current state of their city, it wasn't surprising. She looked around the cabin for a moment. Her buddy, an Airman by the name of Hernando, stoop up on the starboard side of the helicopter, manning his own gun. He looked back momentarily as well, smirking a Spanish grin at her. She smiled sheepishly back at him.
“You're a pig, Hernando.”
She could feel the warmth of his grin from across the cabin.
“Who loves you, baby?”
One of the flight suited killjoys in the forward cockpit of the aircraft glanced back into the cabin. Petty Officer First Class Haberman's voiced filled the intercom.
“Would you two kids knock it off and give your sectors some attention? If we have to paddle back to home plate, I'll be using your asses as my raft.”
His snappy attitude was only half-joking. He understood the stress such an operation as this put on young enlisted kids and how they usually vented such stress, but now was the time for cold, hard professionalism. Several hundred civilians and Marines were under siege, and their only hope for escape rested with the men and woman of Echo Blue.
The embassy grounds rushed into view. From his position, Haberman could spot other besieged embassies and their personnel battling off their own waves of “demonstrators”, and, despite what the human being in him thought, the professional in him concentrated on the embassy with the blue flag out front. His eyes scanned the horizon. He made out the silhouettes of Cravanian and Questarian evacuation birds, each sprinting their own people to safety. As a fellow aeronaut, he wished them the best of luck. As a Velkyan, he wished they would continue to draw small arms fire away from his own craft.
The gruff voice of a Marine officer entered the local radio network.
“Echo Blue, roof and rear courtyard landing zones are clear. We'll send you the first batches of civilians, sit tight.” Haberman could hear it, now. A handful of Concordant Marines occupied the roof, pinning downed armed agitators with rifle fire, while those who were unarmed fled for the relative safety of the streets. One Marine had been incapacitated, his bleeding leg being treated by a civilian doctor near one of the roof access doors. Their clothes began to quickly ripple with the downwash of the Pelican's quadruple rotor blades as Echo Black One's pilot brought her down. By this time, Michaels had opened up with the door gun, spraying the enemy-held courtyard with heavy suppressive fire. The other four helicopters, at the moment unable to land, lazily orbited high above the building, spraying the hostile streets intermittently with their own weapons.
As soon as the helicopter stabilized on the roof, the first group of civilians was rushed up. Twenty or some odd evacuees, mostly Velkyans who had evacuated their local homes, were herded aboard the waiting chopper. On the grounds below, a fireteam of Marines, hefting a large anti-tank guided missile launcher, made their made past the ad-hoc barricades, aided by their comrades on the inside the makeshift bunker. The Velkyans were determined to hold on to this oasis of order until the last Velkyan had been spirited away to parts north.
Aided by the roof's Marine compliment, the civilians were secured into the jumpseats, still very nervous but glad their ordeal was nearly over.
So they thought.
COMMUNIQUE TO CRAVANIAN GOVERNMENT
Lines of communication breached. Nation in turmoil. Attempt will be made to reach contact via any means neccessary.
Lorica, Day Four Post Attacks
indentThe city was, to say the least, in a state of emergency. Perhaps twenty percent of it had been flattened by wave after wave of looting, riots, and arsons, with much more destruction inevitably to pass through.
IndentHowever, now a new disturbance had entered the city. A foreign “invasion” had ensued, or at least many Coactionists saw it that way. Questarians were pouring into Alacean, or rather, Aerovian stadiums dared disgrace it with their filthy rag, inviting an array of intruders from KGP nations who had immigrated the SEA to take advantage of its hardships, or at least many Coactionists saw it that way. It seemed the only way to settle the score was to teach the Questarians- citizen and soldier alike- was to absolutely destroy anything remotely related to the vile name of Questaria. Or, at least, many Coactionists saw it that way.
IndentMister Alexander Harding, a man of thirty-eight and of rather large stature, like most men from Lorica's Industrial District, earned an honest living constructing high rise luxury condos in more privileged parts of town. Whereas his family was barricaded in their tiny flat, armed with a small handgun and kitchen knives.
IndentHarding, however, was in a slightly more dangerous environment. Armed with a molotov cocktail and a pitchfork, he, and perhaps two hundred odd men (some of them as young as twelve or thirteen) stood at the beginning of the large street that housed their homes. They were staunchly loyal to the “legitimate” Alacean government and would gladly die for their country. And tonight they probably would.
IndentStupid arrogant bastards. Barging into our fucking city and giving the exact location of where they set up shop. was the general consensus of this particular mob, heading for one of the streets leading to the “captured” Stadium. The plan: kill anything that goes near the place.
IndentFrom somewhere in the distance, Harding heard a strange, reverberating noise. Again and again it was heard, becoming louder and more distinct each time. “You hear that?” he whispered to the man next to him. “Aye mate. Best of luck to ya.” Puzzled by his comrade's last comment, Harding pieced two and two together. The shouts from the distance where sounding more complete and almost distinguishable. Finally, as the next rotation of sounds came in, the man recognized it as the hated slogan of their dreaded enemies. What he had been hearing was the frantic chant of “One Alacea! One Aerova!” and whoever was repeating the slogan would very soon be upon them.
Lorica Air Force Base
indentShit. A situation. Last thing that was needed at this particular airforce base, with planes being moved north and pilots going AWOL all over the place. Beroe, or simply “the bitch” as most knew her, would have the command at this base castrated if she found out that they let radar systems be jammed while the surplus of planes in the area sat idly by. By Questarians no less- relations never improved following the near climax of NATO and APOC, and though Alacea had slid away from NATO, old hatreds of the Haven Bloc still remained. Not to mention the propaganda that could be made out of this situation! Fucktons of it. What command was about to do would ensure that Beroe had their balls mounted on her fireplace.
“Tower, do you read? This is Green Leader, we are presently jamming military radar frequencies on the ground. I repeat that we mean no hostile intent towards the legitimate Alacean Government and are acting in self-defence only, repeat, in self-defence… any attacks on our airgroup will be met with retaliation, do you copy?”
A few seconds paused, as commanders at the tower struggled to make a response.
“Consider yourselves damn lucky our pilots are all bloody fascists, and that we're pooling our air power farther north or you all would be swatted out of the fucking sky. Pull a stunt like this again and your whole airgroup won't live to tell the tale. AV will have your fleet sunk if the bastard finds out about this in time.”
Grand Chancellor's Palace, Kvelna, Alacea, 1700 Hours
indentEverything was going almost too perfectly. For once, Avelo Verikov may not have to wait long for progress. “So, we've contacted every major news network, and alerted them that the punishment for attempting to influence public opinion against us will be... severe- once we unite the nation?” Avelo spoke from an antique armchair said to have once been owned by owned by Empress-Queen Cynthia Ervok the third, the legendary revolutionary that struck against the absolute monarchy that had once ruled Alacea. Of course the chair was merely one invaluable artifact in the Grand Chancellor's (the title Verikov had fashioned to himself) newly crafted mansion in Kvelna, the largest city in the province of Karelya. “Yes sir. ABN, CNS, even the filthy Cravack one's branch in Alacea has been warned.” his senior aide informed him. “And I take it that we've achieved support of all forces north of the Iron Line?” “Yes sir, our forces are much more organized than that of the south. Fiercely loyal to the Coactionist cause. As is the whole of the north. Excellent choice of capital, sir. No riots or destruction thats rampant in the south.” The last comment was thoroughly true. The only visible change in most northern city was the addition to militia members patrolling the streets and the fact that the blue and white flags had been swapped with Coac alternatives. “Excellent. Operation Death Gate begins in four days. With any luck we'll crush the remnants of the SEA within the week.”
The Iron Line refers to the boundary between Coactionist and Loyal provinces, where Loyalist forces will attempt to halt the Coac advance until Cravanian and other international military support can arrive.
Undisclosed Location, 2100 Hours
IndentLady Consul Beroe glanced around the small cramped room around her- if you could call it a room. The place bustled with so many people that you could hardly move, and the walls were dotted with large flat screens featuring various maps of Alacea, speckled with different dots and colors, presumably meaning something to a trained military eye. There were also no windows, and the dampness that stretched up to the room's ceiling some forty feet up made you assume you were very deep underground. In addition the large cubic area was under siege by a very persistent feeling of distrust. Considering what had happened thus far to the nation, it was only realistic to think dissenters still lingered in the mix of things.
IndentSomeone tapped Madam Beroe on the shoulder. Almost screeching with shock, she collected herself and turned around. The handsome face of her highest ranking aide greeted her. “Ma'am, we've arranged for a meeting with the Cravanians via a netcast in the next room. Annadale is on the other line.” The new leader of Alacea attempted to tame her hair, which had not been attended to in four days. Beroe was going to attempt to look at least somewhat presentable, although it would take a considerable amount of work, considering she had had maybe a total of seven hours of sleep spaced throughout the last few hectic days.
IndentFinalizing her efforts to collect herself, the woman strutted into the next room.
Green Leader chuckled. "Alright Tower, someone ought to take a tea break down there, we've got your position lit up like a christmas tree, so unless you aren't too fond of your tower I wouldn't make any funny moves."
It was of course, a bluff; the strike aircraft were equipped only with SEAD weapons and a few iron bombs, hardly the perfect package for a precise attack against well-defended tower, but Green Leader was sure that there would be no need to mount an attack any time soon. He closed the communication to the Airbase and opened up a new line with the Aircraft Carrier.
"Control this is Victor One, things are getting a little tense, can you send up some more EW and strike birds?"
"Victor One this is Control, we have six Sea Furies ready to launch, do you want them?"
"If possible, that would be outstanding, Control."
"Hazel Section will be at your position in roughly twenty minutes, Victor One."
"Thank you Control. Out"
If Victor One wasn't wearing an oxygen mask he would have stroked his handlebar mustache. The situation was going as planned, but he still didn't feel right. If the Alaceans so wished they could turn around and probably force his task group out the sky. The reinforcements he was being would at least double his jamming capacity - probably enough to confuse them and keep them from making an attack. Within ten minutes his job would be done and the Questarian 54. SNLF Bde deployed safely on the ground. But the civilians who needed to be evacuated via helicopter would need an air umbrella, too. With a little resignation he quickly transferred his anxieties to control.
"He is right, though," the APO solemnly said. "If they decided to push us out of here, they most likely could do it." Nobody was going to admit it directly, but despite the pride of the RN, even a single carrier air group would be wiped clean by an entire air force; or half of one, considering the situation. "Maybe it would be best if we contacted our allies."
Admiral Roland blinked at the APO. "What? Cravan, sure, Aequatio, why not, but Velkya? Do you understand what the press will say if they get wind that we are militarily cooperating with a Gholgothic country?"
"I know, I know," the APO said, raising his voice ever so slightly to meet with Roland's heightened tone, "but we are one of three carrier groups operating here. Individually, our operations are limited. Together, we can assemble something resembling a force that we can actually do something with. Especially with Velkyan, Aequatian, and Cravanian carriers."
Roland shrugged. "If you think its necessary, we can open communications. I will get comms to ask them to invite a working representative to our carrier. If there's going to be any kind of cooperation, then the Antelope needs to be the base."
Major Blake muttered something under his breath as he attended to his command post. It wasn’t going so well right now. They had recovered some citizens but many were still finding it hard to get to the stadium. They had to clear a safe zone around, but he had hardly enough manpower. With his command staff he was beginning to formulate an idea when the command radio burst into life.
“Shovel, this is Six. Large formations of possible hostiles forming up on three approaches, over.”
Blake’s observation post on the western side of the stadium reported over the radio with just a hint of anxiety in his voice. Blake couldn’t see him from here, but he knew where he was and he knew that Six was armed like the other posts: with a hefty amount of both fatal and non-fatal weaponry.
“What are they doing Six? Shovel over.” Blake replied.
“Shovel, presently they are just chanting and massing, but they could get hostile at any time. Permission to disperse, Six Over.”
Just after Six made his report, Blake got another entry into the radio conversation. “Shovel this is Four, am observing large amounts of violence as far as I can see between Alacean civilians. Presently possible hostiles are massing on our approach, over.”
“Shovel this is Three, permission to disperse Command, its getting rather toasty on this side, over.”
Blake had a choice. If his troops dispersed the Alaceans they would probably return in greater numbers, but it would likely give anyone who needed to get in to the stadium an observable opening. On the other hand it would doubtless inflame both the Alacean legitimate authorities and these Coactionist fellows, but it would also hopefully save lives. Switching the radio to all frequencies return, Blake gave his single order.
“All units this is Shovel, permission to disperse as necessary. Out.”
He was responded to with a flurry of “Thank you Shovel! Three out” and “Bloody good call Shovel. Six out.”
Six’s position was at the very roof of the stadium, behind the tophouse that contained the stairs. Corporal Harrison and his three troopers had watched for some time the advancing Alacean hordes, shouting both Coactionist and Loyalist slogans – both of them anti Questarian as each other. “Pass me the L70,” he motioned to a trooper who passed him a break-action grenade launcher.
Holding the barrel with his right hand, leaving the trigger mechanism and stock dangling, Harrison plucked a grenade from his belt and inserted it into the breech with a satisfying plop. Even more satisfying was the crunch of the barrel locking with the stock, and even more satisfying was that was the crumple as the RT4N type tear gas burst over the crowd. Not only would it cause immediate loss of balance, discomfort to the throat and sinuses it would also induce vomiting and difficulties in breathing, possibly fatal to anyone who already had a bad lung condition. Soon the crowd itself had totally dispersed, although it would probably come back later. Harrison considered putting another shell into their path of retreat but decided against it. Munitions were not necessarily easily resuppliable after all.
The first forty civilians had poured in and Major Blake was wasting no time. Within five minutes of their arrival they were placed on a pair of waiting helicopters which began the fifty minute flight back to the Questarian fleet and safety. Yet, amongst the allied nations there were thousands of civilians left to be evacuated. Reluctantly, Major Blake made the decision to offer the evacuation zones as bases for any allied military personnel, including Aequatian and Velkyan troops in the city, as depots and strongpoints for their military forces and began the process of contacting their leaders on the ground for coordination efforts.
For the first time in some months, he was relieved, and at the same time, he was anxious. He took a deep breath into his stomach in the manner his mother had taught him in years long past, lifting up his diaphragm and slowly breathing out through his mouth. He took a sip of his drink of kaoliang and rolled it around in his mouth, savoring the slightly warm, astringent feel and rather light taste, before he let it wash down his throat. Things were moving much faster than he had hoped, but the plan was still on the proper track. He swiveled his chair around and stood, facing the glass window—bulletproof, an open secret—and looked out over Qiao's skyline. The prosperity he saw there was one he sought to preserve, but others—communists, anarchists, ganja-smoking miscreant vandals—sought to bring it down, for various reasons. Some were ideologically motivated, and others were just men who wanted to see things burn because they liked it, and for no other reason. None of that particularly mattered, although he might privately admit he loathed the latter more than the former: what was important was that people wanted to destroy Jeuna from the inside out, cowardly and callously twisting the liberty they had been guaranteed by their fathers so that they might be happier to end those same people. He would not and could not allow this to continue.
+++Fan Banou had suspended the National Parliament after a series of train bombings in the province of Guozhu, in the northwest. Several communist "liberation" fronts had proclaimed support for the endeavor to destroy the capitalist-bourgeois transportation system that exacerbated the tyranny of the upper class applied to the proleteriat etc etc etc, but none had actually claimed responsibility. The GQJ was working at answers, but there was nothing solid at this point. Fan had his own suspicions of who was behind them, but it was not the Cravanians. Rather, he suspected Daibac, Jeuna's revolutionary communist neighbor to the north. He was a patient man, however, and careful in what he said and did: he did not accuse, and kept the cards close to his chest like a typical Jeunese man might.
+++Things would get very interesting in the coming weeks and months. He could be sure of that, and so could the rest of Aerova, and indeed perhaps the rest of the civilized world.
Tobias Air Force Base, Aequatian Virgin Islands
Six hours previously...
Major Peter Dennis stepped aboard the idling C-197A Courier transport plane at the end of the runway as the base was rife with activity with the announcement of the mission in Alacea. The officer was the leader of an operational team with A Troop, SASR, which formed the "first response" unit of the Aequatian military. Any crisis around the world that required the Republic's attention and the SASR were generally the first people on the ground long before anyone else. The launch of Operation Ardent Force to support the ongoing mission in Alacea was a last minute call for the elite garrison, but nothing of a surprise, given that Aequatian servicemembers knew to keep tabs on the world news when an incident started where their fellow citizens were located. The major's team formed part of the initial landing force for the securing of the objective, Lorica Airport, along with a company of "K-boys" or Army Special Forces, named so for their khaki-coloured service berets, Air Force Pathfinders and a Tactical Air Control Party, the latter for communication with the close air support assets already over the city.
The special nature of the SASR afforded soldiers like Major Dennis and his troopers a special liberty when it came to choosing their weapons and equipment, following the pragmatic credo of “if it ain’t broke…” their personal gear made them out to look like bandits with a few choice toys. The officer received weird looks from one of the kitted Special Forces soldiers sitting across from him, “Sir, major, you look like my father did back in Valla Verde!” He shouted over the sound of the engines, “I didn’t know the old OD-Greens were still in stock!”
Dennis smiled; the men and women of the regiment had gone around the Republic’s Army and National Guard bases over the years on a mission to collect some of the older pieces of equipment that had been replaced with new items. One of them being sets of the 1970s era Combat Uniform in solid Olive Drab, Shade 107, taken for their increased comfort and tactical flexibility compared to the newer Battle Dress Utility Uniforms introduced in the late 1980s. “Sergeant, you gotta keep with what works, it’s not about how high-speed your kit is… it’s how well you know your job and the folks beside you!”
The other members of the team were similarly equipped to their leader, all in the OD uniforms, obscured by camouflaged pieces such as the “Airborne” jump smock, “Defender” body armour and wide-brimmed boonie hat in the OPFOR ( http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z317/Aequatio/Camouflage/europat2.png) woodlands pattern and equipped with the Army's experimental M1993 Pattern assault vest, the OD107 material camouflaged to each soldier's preference. An item that almost any special operations soldier in Aequatio possessed though, no matter what branch or service, was a pair of the Scott Company’s “Adventurer” model hiking boots, being worn by a majority of the personnel aboard the aircraft, the special forces sergeant grinned, “Nice boots, sir!”
“Same to you!” Replied the officer, noting the near-ubiquitous symbol of the Republic’s breed of elite warriors being worn by his comrade-in-arms, “Those new generation ones look nice, what did those set you back?”
“About a hundred thirty Markes,” Started the sergeant, “But nothing is more comfortable for a forty klick hike than these babies,” The major nodded in reply as the aircraft were set for their course towards Lorica. About twenty minutes ahead of the transports were a pair of AC-199A aerial gunships that were tasked with securing the landing zone for the special operations soldiers before their landing and remain on station to provide close air support until the rest of the force arrived.
On the tarmac of the base was 4 Commando of the Special Combat Applications Regiment, the Army’s premier parachute infantry unit and tasked with the main assault against the airport and the eventual perimeter security on the runways afterwards. The grouped paratroopers were sitting on the ground, lined next to their unit’s respective C-199A Samson airlifters, and fully-equipped for the coming parachute assault. The entire commando would jump in on the airport and given the low altitude at which they would conduct the assault, reserve parachutes were discarded as they added weight and would be useless at the jump’s height. Normal procedures called for the rucksacks to be placed under the reserve parachute, however, the haste in which the mission was prepared for and the lack of a reserve, rucksacks were positioned just at the waist and secured to the T-24 main parachute rigging. The soldiers would jump with only ammunition, grenades and water and despite this, each man carried up to forty five kilograms on their person. Taking their time in boarding the waiting transports, they were half an hour behind the special operations forces already en route.
Lorica International Airport, Lorica, Alacea
One hour previously...
The usual and uneventful jump in the late hours of the evening had placed the special operations forces units on their objective, Major Dennis kneeled with his Russkyan-designed CSR-1A1 rifle resting on his thigh as he watched the runway and hangers of the airport while the Air Force Pathfinders started to set up their satellite positioning system uplink that would draw the coming transports to DZ Baker. The Army Special Forces soldiers were already performing their task in securing the surrounding area of the airport, especially the main entrances and terminals, keeping them under watch until the battalion-sized element of paratroopers arrived. Dennis looked back at the heavily camouflaged Pathfinder as he signaled thumbs up as his partner finished working with the beacon, replying with a silent nod, the two teams started off towards the ARSF commander and his B-team.
High above the airport, the first of the AC-199A gunships entered into its wide “pylon turn” as it trained its weapons to the ground and watching with FLIR cameras as the crew remained in close communication with the Air Force TACP operators. “Ghost-one-one for True Blue-9, over.”
“Go ahead, nine,” Replied the AC-199A communications officer.
“Could use a SITREP,” Started the air controller, “Anyone looks like they realize we’re here yet? Over.”
“Just a minute, nine,” Said the communications officer as he switched to the aircraft’s intercom to speak with the FLIR television operator, “FLIR, True Blue-9 is asking for a SITREP, have anything for me?”
“Negative, comms,” Mentioned the FLIR operator casually, “It’s all cozy down there, they’re good to go.”
“Roger, thanks, Jim,” The communications officer switched back to the radio, “True Blue-9, you are good to go, over.”
“Affirmative, thanks One-one, nine out,” Finished the air controller as Dennis and the Pathfinders approached the tactical air control party and the special forces B-team, the latter going over the tactical maps and satellite images as they directed their operational teams to secure the zones. The technical sergeant turned to the major, “Sir, so far so good, we couldn’t be more ready to receive the Paras than we are right now.”
“Righto, sarnt,” Replied the major as he looked up from his own map, “Sit still and wait it out,” He turned to the major leading the B-team, “No shooting unless threatened, as far as anyone’s concerned, Aequatians aren’t here,” He said to a curt nod from the fellow officer.
An hour later, the rest of the transports would be overhead as 4 Commando jumped “shotgun” or from both side doors of the aircraft as the static lines ripped open the dark camouflaged parachutes and let the soldiers drift down to the earth. Staff Sergeant Christian Innes landed in a roll on the tarmac as his parachute collapsed and he collected it up, disconnecting the rig and pulling his arms out of the harness, he retrieved his G18A4 rifle as it sat in between his rucksack and the front of his “Defender” body armour vest. He approached one of the lance corporals limping slightly along with an MG146 in hand, “What’s wrong, lance-jack?”
“I fucked up,” He started, “My ankle, sarnt, it’s twisted from the jump… but I’m fine,” Replied the SAW gunner as the sergeant helped the young man along to assemble with his section. Meeting up with their ARSF comrades monitoring the important points of defence around the airport, the paratroopers started to secure the perimeter covering the runways while the engineers from E Company 35th Regiment started the work of preparing fixed positions for the infantry.
As the paratroopers secured their zones, Lieutenant-Colonel Olivia Frederick, 4 Commando’s commanding officer, established radio contact with the Questarian Major Blake and Cravanian Colonel Gregory Dawson, contacting them both with the same, encoded message, "4 CDO HOLDS AIRPORT. READY FOR EVAC, GODSPEED." The remaining elements of the Ardent Force battlegroup would be airlanded on the now-secure runways and would enable the Air Force to now lift in the heavier equipment, the most important being a platoon from K Battery, 15th Field Artillery Regiment which provided the airport security element with short range air defence thanks to their MIM-360C missiles and a detachment of PSYOPs personnel that would help when the time came when the Alacean mobs approached the airport’s grounds after realizing what had finally happened.
28 September, 2008
"Worrying trend" in Jeunese politics
Qiao -- By BAI TIANWO
President Fan declared a state of emergency Saturday night, after military police used tear gas, mace, and water cannons to clear the streets of protesters that had been holding a symbolic funeral for Jeunese democracy. The order took HGNN off the air, and the Jeunese military, clad in dark masks and kits normally reserved for combat, raided the HGNN headquarters in Qiao and enforced the order after a standoff between two citizen militias in the area failed to show the result Fan wanted. Public assembly in the capital has been banned, confirmed a government spokesman by telephone, who also said the state of emergency would last "about 72 hours". By the time the raid began, about 425 people had reported to clinics and hospitals to treat their wounds, which Jeunese government officials say were "unavoidable" and "unfortunate".
The head of HGNN, which is the principal opposition leader against Fan's government in recent months, Sun Jiansha, was accused of conspiracy to commit treasonous acts. The emergency status, issued after several days of opposition protesters clashing with the military, plunged the country into uncertainty. "We are seeing a worrying trend in these days. Fan Banou has made his promise not to infringe upon the civil rights of the people, but his removal of HGNN from his ... list of enemies and the use of the military instead of the established militias indicates he is sliding back on that promise," said a Professor at Yingang University who requested to remain anonymous, who also said that the situation, coupled with "the rise of fascism in Alacea" ... "is something that bears worrying about".
Sun Jiansha, one of the "Big Four" media moguls in Jeuna, has been quoted as saying that he would work to remove Fan from power "before it's too late". "Sun was flagantry disregarding negotiation. He made several statements that hinted that he was plotting a coup, and that all of his empire would go into the effort," said Bei Tianhan, one of President Fan's closest allies and friends. "It is evident that this is a long-standing plot." Bei has been described widely as a "sycophantic stooge" by the intellectual elite.
Sun later commented that he had entirely misjudged Fan's sensibility, saying "... now, before all the civilized countries of the world, Fan has shown his paranoia in truth, and has utterly shamed the Jeunese people." Sun's last known whereabouts were in Aequatian Saint Angelica, after Aequatian Special Forces squads helped him out of the country.
In a press release this morning, Fan Banou extended the time of the emergency, saying it will now last two weeks, and has demanded the return of Sun for trial.
A light knocking came from the door as an intern with the Directorate poked her young face into the room.
“Madame Director, we have a line in from Alacea. It's Beroe,” she announced in her light Arranic accent.
“Thank you,” Annadale said coldly as she returned to the papers on her desk. Shuffling them into a neat stack, she rose from her oak desk and walked briskly around the corner and down the hall through the heart of the offices to the Red Room. Much of the Cabinet was already assembled.
“Alright. Get her up on the screen.”
“Audio is on the switchboard, ma'am,” a technician said as he spliced two blue wires into the wall-mounted television. “The red flashing button on the phone will open the line.”
“Right,” Annadale said as she did so, taking a position over the phone while leaning on the table with both her arms. The Cabinet remained watchful of the phone as it acquired the link to the 'netcast' and the encryption verified its identity. Meanwhile, the technician, whose security clearance passed off that of many field agents in the Royal Intelligence Service, continued to work on the video feed.
The phone chimed with a high pitched ping, announcing the connection had been made.
“Consul Beroe? Are you there? We're still working on the video feed, but it should be up within a moment.”
The technician nodded curtly as the screen flashed to life; the attached camera watching silently as its red light began to blink. The other end of the link flashed to life as Beroe came into view.
"Yeah, I'm here. Let's make this short; I've got quite a lot to attend to," she said, her voice rushed by stress.
“Right. Well, as it stands are you fully aware of the situation? Our reports are sketchy at best, and we're unsure as to the amount of damage that has been caused,” Annadale stated, changing her attention between the camera, her assembled Cabinet, and the open window. A cool autumn breeze ushered itself into the room and gently rustled the curtains.
"I'll give it to you straight; it isn't pretty. Verikov has us pinned down in every way imaginable. Most of our forces have defected, and everyone has a feeling that he'll inevitably win. As far as propaganda, no one can challenge any of his claims. The damned media is too afraid to. If Cravan were to substantially help us he'd claim you wanted to form a vassal state out of us. If you didn't help at all he would claim that you were only coming in after we'd destroyed each other and taking our recourses... ridiculous, I know," Beroe said, brushing her hair out of her eyes. "Speaking of which, I'll wire you some of their rhetoric.”
“Verikov's rhetoric is pretty well known here already,” Annadale said fairly somberly, “He's already claimed that my administration is partially responsible for the attacks.”
"And considering that there's little way for people to find out the truth, as they believe the southern media still options freely, there's not much we can do about that."
“You worry about gathering together what assets you have left; we'll take care of the media situation. I will make damn sure Alacea survives this ordeal intact,” Annadale assured Beroe with little substance to back up her claim.
Beroe smiled grimly at this reassurance before replying.
"Thank you. But this goes bigger than Alacea. Most of what the clever bastard's saying pertains to his One Aerova movement. From what I can tell, he's a man of his word, and he's been promising Alacean rule established in Arran and Callander. We also believe he'll soon petition the Jeunans and their neighbors to join in some form of pact."
"So we feared," Annadale remarked. "The proper preparations are being made there."
"I think the best thing to do would be for us to organize our remaining forces scattered about our small holdings on the continent. That, and establish resistance cells,” Beroe said. "We're planning to move the Alacean Government in Exile to Verrington, and later to Cravan if permitted and fate has us do so."
“You would be most welcome to,” Annadale said, “But I assure you the latter will not be necessary.”
"Well, we must assume it will be. Do you have any other questions as to our situation," Beroe asked as a large explosion shattered the air a few hundred feet above the bunker.
"None at this point in time, Consul," Annadale said. "We'll be sure to keep this channel ready for emergency contact. Stay safe, and we'll be sure to keep your people posted on our progress."
"Excellent. Good luck in your endeavors."
And the feed went dead.
Hashford stood in his trench coat as the downwash of a helicopter's blades bathed the embassy's helipad in a cyclone of leaves from the gardens surrounding the embassy. He turned his head to look over his shoulder, watching as the crowd assembled at the gates stood to witness the final retreat of the Cravanian embassy staff.
"Sir," Agent Prowler shouted over the roar of the helicopter, "we're ready to finalize the evac and get the hell out!"
"Get on with it."
Prowler spoke into his radio for a few moments, holding it close to his lips as he attempted to minimize the amount of noise those on the other side of the radio heard from the helicopter.
"Code Orange is a go. Evac procedures are finalized. Get to it," he said into the radio. Meanwhile, downstairs on the first floor the remaining members of the Naval Infantry contingent assigned to the embassy prepared to finish their mission. Corporal Marissa Grefton stood with her unit on the landing overlooking the main entranceway and reception desk. The young corporal took in the beauty of the white and emerald marble for the last time as she removed a lighter from her pouch. The smell of gasoline permeated the room.
"Right," Lance Corporal Roy Jennings said into his radio headset while nodding to Grefton. Grefton struck the flint of the lighter and locked the button into place, dropping it to the floor. The marble floor was overtaken by a great flash as the entire lobby below the group became an inferno of heat and light.
"Let's move," Jennings said, "We still have to smoke out the offices upstairs."
After completing very similar tasks in the offices on the upper floors, the last of the Naval Infantry arrived on the roof. Boarding the helicopter, the staff looked upon the embassy for what was possibly the last time. Windows were breaking out under the intense heat of the fire inside, and as the helicopter lifted off the roof and aligned itself on a heading for the Aequatian embassy, the gates finally broke. What wasn't being destroyed on the grounds by fire was surely going to be destroyed by the Alacean rioters. Fountains, benches, statues, and anything else in the gardens surrounding the embassy would surely succumb to looters.
The Black Falcon containing the last of the embassy staff began its final approach to the Aequatian embassy. Just as it was about to set down, a rocket propelled grenade narrowly missed the tail rotor. The rocket's trail of smoke spiraled as it continued to climb, but before a second rocket could be fired off the Falcon had set down, much more abruptly than previously anticipated, on the Aequatian embassy's helipad.
Although the group was safe for now, a realization dawned on the military minds aboard the helicopter: something would have to be done about the armed militants around the embassy before they could safely leave.
Cravanian Broadcasting Network
Queen Alice Addresses the Press
Queen Alice Comments on the Alacean Crisis
[FONT="Century Gothic"]"Queen Alice had her daily meeting with the Press Corps earlier today in the central chamber of the Palace of Laurana. Following news of the final evacuation and destruction of the Cravanian embassy in downtown Laurana, the Queen had this to say:"
"The situation in Lorica, and Aerova as a whole, is incredibly unsettling. I find the actions of Mr. Verikov particularly appalling, and I believe it prudent for all Cravanian citizens and all citizens of our allies to make their way out of the country as soon as possible. Alacea is undergoing a turbulent time, and Cravan will be vigilant in preserving the freedom of the Alacean people. We will not stand by and allow tyranny to spread its vile seeds in Aerova. May Lady Liberty's Light preserve itself throughout the entirety of the world."
"The Queen failed to respond to rumors over Prince Jason's sudden appearance at Laurana International yesterday. Jason was spotted being carted off of the tarmac by a security contingent, supposedly escorting another individual into the country. Jason was spending time in Alacea with the Alacean Royal Family prior to the escalation of the crisis.
"We will be back in a few minutes with more updates. Until then, this is Alicia Stone, CBN-4."[FONT]
1100 Hours Local Time
The crisis in Alacea had not gone unnoticed by Prime Minister Stanley Freeman or the rest of the government, though it had not made the front page of most media as it had in other nations. The Prestonian people had of late had bigger things to worry about then some far-off land tearing itself apart. However, with the so-called Presto-Clandonian Crisis resolved peacefully, the news had now turned to coverage of the Alacean Civil War, and Freeman sensed he would soon be called upon to do something.
Alacea had been a trading partner of Prestonia's in the time of the Sovereign Empire. The two nations had enjoyed a long period of strong relations, and there was quite a bit of capital invested between them. Needless to say, the recent unrest had not sat well with investors, and companies invested in Alacea began pulling back their enterprises, fearing nationalization if the new leader proved himself a statist. However, aside for some agitating and grumbling, the issue had not been raised as a major one within Parliament.
That had all changed with Avelo Verikov's first speech, in which he called for Aerovan unity. Prestonia held one colony, Bermuda, within the region, and it was close enough to the Alacean archipelago of Arys to be cause for concern. Bermuda had been a popular vacation point for decades, and had several billion pounds invested in it's industries. More importantly, the island had served as a base for the Royal Prestonian Navy since it's purchase in 1810. Losing Bermuda meant not only a major hit to the economy but a major strategic hit. Faced with these stakes, King Richard VIII had though his High Command ordered an increase in the number of troops stationed in Bermuda, and in the course of a month the modest colonial outpost had swelled to 100,000 men and was growing steadily. Now, it was time to make a statement to Avelo Verikov, and it would be Stanley Freeman making it. With these thoughts weighing on his mind, he cleared his throat and began his speech, with cameras from all major networks in Prestonia trained on his desk.
My fellow Prestonians, I wish to call your attention to a very serious matter ongoing in the region of Aerova.
In the past month, the nation of Alacea has undergone a violent and catastrophic revolution. The rightful government of this peaceable nation has been ousted, replaced with the fascist military regime of Avelo Verikov.
Verikov's rule has turned the once-peaceful and prosperous nation of Alacea into an anarchic warzone. Verikov has suspended the basic rights of mankind, imposed martial law and is presently engaged in the systematic elimination of his opponents and any who refuse to bow to his rule. Verikov has made threats against the sovereign peoples of Bermuda and the whole of Aerova, and is ready and willing to liquidate them all in the pursuit of his convoluted dream of so-called "Aerovan unity."
In response to these threats, our military presence in Aerova has been quadrupled. Bermuda now stands as a rock, a bastion of freedom and liberty within a region under the threat of fascist tyranny, and she will continue to do so until the common thug and murderer known as Avelo Verikov is given his due. Mr. Verikov, mark my words, you will swing from the gallows in due course, for you have attacked freedom, and to freedom's defense will come all good and just nations of the world.
May God have mercy upon the peoples of Aerova.
Fan Banou, fresh from a weekend conference with key military advisors in Angu city after emergency Parliamentary elections, addressed the nation today in a press conference following the Prestonian deployment of at least twenty divisions and as many carrier battlegroups, according to senior intelligence analysts. We bring you now to the press conference.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have now some remarks by President Fan--Mister Fan?"
Fan stepped forward, and thanked the announcer briefly, shaking his hand before taking the mic. The nondescript man in the pinstripe suit retired to the floor, and stood along the wall near the stage. The room applauded.
"We stand here, today, seven and one hundred years after the foundation of the Republic of Jeuna. None of us here were alive in that day, but I can clearly see etched into the lines of your faces the reasons your fathers and grandfathers had for establishing their liberal democracy, as plain as the rising sun. On that day, the Jeunese people decided as a whole that they could have faith in themselves to protect their private selves—"
Hands enthusiastically batted the notebooks balanced on their knees; lacking tables, the Jeunese reporters and officials made do.
"—their private wants, their private needs, their private property. On that day, they decided that a just God would bring down tyranny and oppression, and on that day, they renounced the surrender of self to the State, and I pray we have not lost sight of their ideals. They did not doubt the righteousness of their ideals, and neither did they doubt the conviction that there is a profound difference between the use of force for liberty and the use of force for tyranny, and they were right not to doubt. Now that freedom which so many fought and died for both in the hinterlands and in the cities is threatened by an imperial aggressor state.
"Prestonia, all the far distance across Haven, has seen fit to send its military not only into Aerova, but to Bermuda. They have, I assure you, purposefully bypassed their more western colony, illegitimate as it is as well, but infinitely less threatening to our well-being and peace of mind, to deliver upon the Jeunese doorstep their many engines and devices of war." Fan grew solemn, and his face was anxiously drawn.
"These are dangerous times for the Jeunese Republic. We are threatened on the north by Communists, we are threatened from within by collectivists, and now we are threatened from the sea by far-away foreigners. Jeuna is well and truly, this day, a fortress state, not by desire or design, but by inexorable fate. No less than twenty aircraft carrier battlegroups and an equal number of army divisions stand poised as a flock of vultures before the prey to swoop down and devour the freedom of Jeuna. The Prestonoids have already conquered part of Aerova, and we did not stop them—now, having tasted blood, they must slate their ravening teeth upon the meat of Jeunese soil and the blood of Jeunese men, and we shall stop them. Thank you, and God bless you all."