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The Atnaian Succession Crisis (TWI ONLY | CLOSED | TG)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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The Atnaian Succession Crisis (TWI ONLY | CLOSED | TG)

Postby Atnaia » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:14 pm

Henry Lucer's hands shook as he looked over the cue cards. He and the speechwriters that worked for him had been going over drafts of this speech for more than a week, but now that it came time to say it, he didn't know if he had the courage. When his father had died, he had made a fool of himself. When his uncle had died, he had caused protests. What would happen with this speech? At that very moment, Asorist protesters marched on Parliament, calling for an end to corruption, while private security officers stood as a wall between them and the government. How would this affect the already tenuous peace?

"We're ready for you, your Highness?" said the aide. Henry had forgotten for a moment where he was. He had been picturing his grandfather, small, shriveled, eaten from the inside by his own body. But he wasn't there, in the Palace. He was here, in his office at Parliament. Video cameras and Fresnel lights pointed at him. Aides stood behind camera operators. Henry took the cue cards and put them in a drawer.

"I'm ready," he said, hoping the shake in his voice was inaudible.

The lights beamed. The cameras rolled.

"Good evening, Atnaia..."




Across the country, television programs were interrupted, radio broadcasts were shifted and millions of eyes shifted to watch the speech of Henry Lucer. In Parkedale Circle, the massive screens that overlooked the largest shopping street in Port Gray suddenly depicted a man in his early thirties in a black suit with a blue tie, hands crossed on a mahogany desk, windows behind him overlooking the sea from Old Fort Hill. People stopped in the streets to watch, as only a few blocks away angry protesters shouted chants over a police line at the Parliament Buildings.

"Good evening, Atnaia," Henry Lucer began. "I come to you with sad news. This morning, my grandfather, Prince James Lucer II, passed away peacefully in his sleep. He had lived a long, full life in generous service to you, the Atnaian people, and lived until his last breath with the dream of peace in his mind. I sit before you now as your new Prince, but I also sit before you as your faithful and humble servant. I have made mistakes in the past, but I promise to dedicate every moment of my life, from now until the moment of my death, serving you, the people, as my grandfather did before me. I promise to seek peace and to fight for fairness and equality. I seek only to better this country, this region and the world. Atnaia stands strong. Please, be good to each other."

For a moment, Atnaia held its breath, not sure whether to laugh or cry. The whole country was still, a moment of calm mourning sweeping across the citizenry.

And then the country screamed.

What happened next would be a matter of contention in history books for decades to come. Some would say that the brick flew from the protester's hand first, and that the officers were defending themselves. Others would say that the crackle of gunfire was the spark that drove the Asorists to riot. Whatever happened, there was chaos in front of the Parliament Buildings. There were many, many more protesters than Stone Wall Security Solutions officers, but the officers had guns, and riot shields and tear gas. Unlike the riots that had happened before, though, the equipment of the private police was not enough to break the tension. The riots swept through the city. Over the next few hours, there was looting, and fire, and blood. Into the night, the fighting burned, not just between protesters and police, but between the people themselves. It was as though a fuse that had been lit long ago had finally burned its way to the powder keg, and all the pressure and tension exploded.




In the Prince's office, a meeting had been called. The new Prince sat at his desk, trying to listen to the shouting voices of the members of cabinet that had been called. Chief among them was Minister of Defense, Lord Thomas Wessich, who called for martial law.

"It is the only way," said Wessich, his oddly calm voice cutting through the argument. "The rioters will see troops in the streets and know that this new regime is not to be trifled with."

This awakened a new wave of arguments. Henry rubbed his temples. He had a pounding behind the eyes, and as the argument escalated, he found himself craving something, anything, to end it. Cocaine, alcohol, horse tranquilizers...anything to end the pounding. He reached into his pocket and gripped his sobriety chip like a lifeline. The shouting. Oh God, the shouting. He couldn't handle it anymore.

"Your highness," said Wessich. "You must make a call."

Henry shot to his feet and slammed a fist on his desk with a bang. "Shut up, damn it," he shouted. "Give me a moment of silence to think."

The room fell silent. Wessich narrowed his eyes and ran a hand through his dark hair. "I am sorry, sir. What was that?"

"I said shut the hell up," Henry gritted his teeth.

"I am sorry, sir," Wessich said, still calm. "But if you cannot keep a level head I am sure you will find that soon you won't keep any head at all."

There was a vague fog of discomfort at the sound of the obvious threat. Wessich glared at Henry. "What I mean to say," he continued, "is that the Asorists will soon be pulling out the old guillotine if you do not make firm, calm and decisive action. Each and every man and woman in this room is not safe. We will all lose our heads if you do not mobilize the military."

"Get out," Henry growled, his headache ripping through his whole body and becoming nothing but pain. "Lord Wessich, you are dismissed as my Minister of Defense, effective immediately."

Lord Wessich, to the surprise of everyone, smiled, bowed and turned to leave. "Of course, your highness."

He reached the door to the office and turned back. "If I may, one last thing. When this all goes bad, and you realize just how right I was, it will be too late for you to realize your mistake. A throne and a crown do not make men bulletproof, my Prince. If anything, they attract bullets."

Wessich turned and left. Duke Bronte turned to the Prince after moment of watching Wessich leave. "My Prince, was that wise?"

"Prepare an announcement," Henry said, collapsing to his chair. "Tell the people that rooting out corruption is the new Prince's foremost priority, and as a first step in a radical overhaul program, he has dismissed the Minister of Defense from his cabinet. Lord Wessich will retain all titles and his seat in Parliament, but he will have no say in cabinet. And prepare a shortlist for the position. Perhaps this will be enough to quell the protesters."

He knew it wouldn't be.
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Postby Atnaia » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:39 am

Thomas Wessich had lived his entire life knowing only one thing was certain: Atnaia deserved better. In all ways, in all things, Atnaia deserved better. It deserved a better military. It deserved better respect. It deserved better businesses.

And now, it deserved a better Prince.

Thomas had respected the last Prince, James Lucer. The man had been intelligent, well-spoken, deliberate in his actions. How could one not have respected him? Many thought that without the intervention of James Lucer, the military coup of the '80s would have lasted longer and been bloodier than anyone could have guessed. Without James Lucer, Atnaia would have been a backwater island subsisting on rice and ruled by militias.

So the fact that the man's last real action as Prince had been to back his foolhardy, inexperienced and toxic grandson...well, it simply could not stand. It was a testament to the poor Prince's failing health and age. In his last days he had grown confused, twisted up as he was inside. Thomas Wessich knew better. Thomas Wessich would correct the mistakes of the last generation.

"How do you stand it?" asked Duchess Locke-Haster from across his desk. "This dismissal...it is unlawful, ungrateful! Wretched!"

So far, everything had gone exactly as Thomas had predicted. The riots, his dismissal. Of course he wasn't happy with the state of affairs, but there was a certain satisfaction in being proven right. "It is as I have said many times in the past months, Julianne. Atnaia is at a crossroads. I have simply been freed from the yoke of driving the broken cart of the current government."

The Duchess leaned forward. "Then you have a plan?"

"I am certain I do not know what you mean," Thomas smiled coolly. "I hope you do not mean to suggest that I have been having seditious thoughts against our wonderful new Prince, long may he live."

"Of course not," Julianne replied. "But he has yet to be coronated. You know what they say: not a Prince until there's a crown on your head."

"Oh, I know exactly what you mean," Thomas smiled. "The Prince refuses to make the hard choices to provide safety to his people. And, as CEO of Stone Wall Security Solutions, I of course have an inside control into the matter. Should things...escalate...I will of course make certain that my troops are at the ready to serve the every need of the Atnaian people. Against any enemy, even those within our own borders."

"What if there was an enemy of the people upon the throne?" The Duchess asked. "Hypothetically speaking, of course."

"Then of course Stone Wall would be at the ready to eliminate the threat to the security of Atnaia." Thomas smiled. "With your backing, I would hope."

"Mine, and others I would think," the Duchess crossed her hands in her lap and smiled. "Blaine, Wittles, Kallermane, Yongebrooke, Parkedale-Ross, others still I would think."

"I have spoken with a few already on the matter," Thomas said. He stood and reached across the table. The Duchess matched him and shook his hand.

"A pleasure, as always," she said.

"And you as well."

The Duchess turned and left. That was at least five major duchies that backed him, Thomas thought. As the duchess left, the door remained open for a moment and his wife slipped in.

She was resplendent as always, her wavy blonde hair pulled back with an air of lazy beauty that must have taken her an hour to get right. If Mary Wessich was good for anything other than her blood, it was her beauty, particularly those golden locks that had earned her so much attention when she was younger. Even now, entering her mid-forties, she was gorgeous. The perfect example of royal grace. Thomas smiled and came around the desk.

"Mary," he said. "You look lovely today!"

"How was Duchess..."

"Locke-Haster. From North Aspis. You met her at her Smoke Day Ball last year?"

"Of course," Mary smiled. "She has the ballroom with the blue and purple chandeliers."

Of course she would remember the chandeliers and not the names of the richest people in the country, Thomas thought. "I had a thought, Mary."

"Hmm?"

"You've yet to say anything about your cousin's death," he let his face look sad. "I am certain you must be distraught."

Mary mused for a moment. Thomas could see the gears turning in her head. "It has been a long time since I last saw James," she finally said. "Of course I will miss him, and it is all very sad..."

"Ah," Thomas shook his head and took his wife by the shoulders. "I think that this is all too much for you. As sad as it is...you know, I think perhaps you should take a small sabbatical, until his funeral. You know, a vacation, where the cameras and paparazzi and reporters can't bother you in your time of grief."

"That sounds like a lovely idea," she said. "But where will I go?"

"I will leave that up to you," Thomas said and led her to the door. There wasn't some grand purpose to this particular move, but he didn't need his wife speaking to the press, not with her inability to look anything other than chipper. He needed her to look distraught over the Prince's death if he had any hope of gaining sympathy from the people, and the only hope of doing that was to keep her out of the spotlight.

"Perhaps skiing?"

"Very well, dear," he said.

He shut the door.
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Postby Atnaia » Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:29 pm

"Hey, Rich," the voice came from the bunk above. "Rich!"

"Shut the fuck up, Ian," Pvt. Rich Worthing said, blocking his eyes with his arm. "We only have like ten more minutes to sleep, can't it wait?"

"Look, mate, I'm looking out for your best interest," a head popped down from the bunk above. Red hair buzzed flat to a pale scalp, a spattering of freckles across a nose that had been broken a few times, bright blue eyes. The head of Pvt. Ian Goyle, Rich's bunkmate. Ian tossed a dog-earred book down onto Rich's lap. The Asorist Manifestos, the cover read in plain black text. "Asorism is the way of the future. If you don't hear it from me, you'll be left behind."

Rich grabbed the book and whipped it at Ian's head. Ian caught it. "Put that shit away, man. If the lieutenant catches you with it, you'll be reprimanded."

"Bullshit," said Goyle, hopping out of his bunk. A few others around the barracks were waking up and getting out of bed too. "Half the guys in here have read it. It's illegal to reprimand someone on their political beliefs."

"Is it really?" Rich raised an eyebrow and sat up, rubbing sleep out of his eyes.

"No idea, but it should be," said Goyle. He tossed the book back up onto his bunk. "Come on, mate. Up and at 'em."

The pair went about the regular morning routine on the base. They, and the other 48 soldiers in their platoon, showered, brushed teeth, got dressed, made beds, all the standards of a military morning. Just as they were preparing to head to their mess hall, a call rose around the barracks. "Officer for inspection!" someone yelled, and everyone fell in before their bunks, just in time for the door to swing open and for Captain Dacher to walk in. An unfamiliar man trailed after him: a tall guy with blonde hair shaved into a flat-top. He wore a blue polo shirt under a black kevlar vest with fatigues and military boots. A rifle was slung over his shoulder, and in one hand he held a small box of takeout shepherd's noodles. In the other, he held a pair of chopsticks, with which he shoveled sugared noodles, blueberries and strawberries into his mouth.

"At ease, men," said Dacher. The room dropped from attention. "This isn't inspection. As you know, Stone Wall Security Solutions recently won the bid to our outfit. This is Daniel Commons, the regional manager of Stone Wall. he has some words he'd like to say."

The man in the polo stepped forward, taking a last bite of his breakfast. He handed the box over to the Captain without even paying attention. He wiped his hands off on his fatigues, swallowed and looked around. "Sorry, men. Just helicoptered in from Base Adelaide, and I haven't eaten since yesterday. There's a goddamn righteous noodle shop in Coldwater that I couldn't pass up. Anyway, like your Captain here said, I'm Daniel Commons. Technically, I'm Colonel Commons. I'm the regional manager of Stone Wall."

Commons began walking down the row of bunks, looking the men up and down. "Now, as you are all aware, my company has gained the rights to oversee this whole damn division. I've been put in charge of this regiment, and therefore in charge of every one of you. Over the next few days, each and every one of you will be interviewed by representatives of the company and by your commanding officer. For most of you, all this means is signing a piece of paper saying you work for Stone Wall now. Your jobs, ranks, duties...al that will stay the same. For some of you, this means a big fat raise and promotion. However, for a few of you, this means dismissal. See, we want only the best of the best working for Stone Wall, and that means that a few of you just won't make the cut. You will be given a severance and sent home. The positions opened by these dismissals will be filled by proven Stone Wall employees."

Commons had made his way around the room back to the front door. "i just came by to take a look. I like seeing each and every face under my command, even if this may be the one and only time I see you. If any of you have questions regarding the transition, bring it up at the interview."

Commons grabbed his noodles back from Dacher and walked out. Dacher cleared his throat and looked about. "Dismissed," he said, rather unenthusiastically. He turned and followed Commons out.

"What the fuck, mate?" Ian asked. "Where do they get off? This is what I've been talking about, man. Discontent. The aristocracy wants us distrusting each other so we won't look at them. They're going to get rid of the ones who ask the hard questions."

Rich rolled his eyes. "We're fine, man. They're gonna cut the stupid ones and the ones with all the reprimands. Sully and Isaacs are goners."

Isaacs, who was in the next bunk over, shot Rich a death glare. "I'm fucking with you, Isaacs," Rich laughed. "Come on, breakfast."




Over the next few days, everyone in the company was interviewed by Dacher, Lieutenant Cornwall, and a pretty blonde representative of Stone Wall who Rich was sure had deliberately worn a shirt that became see-through under the flourescents. At the end of Rich's interview, they had slid a thick contract over, he had skimmed it, signed it, and went back to his duties. The only difference was there was a new badge on the arm of his uniform at the end of the day, the baby blue battlements of Stone Wall.

Not everyone was so lucky. At first, the exact people Rich would have expected to disappear did. Sully, Hoskins, Broderick. They wound up packing their stuff and disappearing as if they had never been there, although Rich guessed that the severance had been generous, because most didn't complain about it. Not until the second day, at least, when they started trimming out people that Rich never would have guessed. Marley, Frings, Watson. All good soldiers. And all Asorists, Ian was quick to point out.

"If that's the case, man," Rich said, "then why did they let you stay?"

Ian just shrugged. As Watson went to leave the barracks for the last time, he turned and flipped everybody off. "Fuck all of you for staying through this," he shouted, and wound up being escorted to the bus of the base.

By the end of the three days, about a third of the company had vanished. Meanwhile, buses came in through the gates of the base and dropped of their replacements: big, burly guys with tattoos and scars and death wishes. Normally, when new soldiers came in, they were either recruits fresh off basic, scared shitless, or guys from other companies being transferred over, who fell right into place. Not these guys. These ones all had the eyes of killers. They talked loud, ran fast, shot straight. Each and every one of them came off as half crazy. Rich avoided them. Ian hated them.

"Bunch of punks working for the nobs," he would say. "None of them have any loyalty to anything."

"I thought Asorism liked the military," Rich said.

"We like the military," Ian said. "Love it. Couldn't be prouder to be where I am. We hate mercenaries. There's more to war than money. It's about society."

Rich never mentioned that he thought Asorists liked money too. Mercs seemed right up their alley.

Most of the mercs were obnoxious, but the one who stood out was the one they called Mr. Fox. While the rest of them called each other by callsigns or by last names, they all referred to Mr. Fox as just that. "Mr. Fox". Always with the Mister, even though he was a Sergeant. Anyone who called him Sargeant was met by his icy stare, under the scars on his forehead.

It turned out Mr. Fox was a Shareholder, a position that held some reverence for the members of Stone Wall. A tattoo, scrawled around his arm in elaborate cursive, read, "I fight to protect my own, and I own what I fight for." Apparently, he had bought no small amount of shares in Stone Wall, and had just decided to keep fighting even though he didn't need to anymore. He scared Rich more than anyone.
Last edited by Atnaia on Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Atnaia » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:43 am

It seemed a strange meeting place. Danielle Kennedy had always pictured these kinds of meetings happening in grimy basements, filled with weapons and lit by a single light bulb, not in a Sunday school classroom, with its pictures of Noah's Ark and Jesus feeding the masses, faded yellow with age. But this is where they were, and maybe the grace of God would be with them.

"So," she said. "What's the situation?"

Jeremy stepped forward. He was tall, with brownish-blonde hair that was perfectly cut and combed. He wore expensive-looking jeans, nice dress shoes and a tweed jacket that somehow didn't manage to make him look ancient. Even his five o'clock shadow was perfectly maintained, like a fashion model or famous actor. He had a wicked-looking scar from the right corner of his nose to the underside of the same eye, a crescent of white flesh that didn't detract from his looks but instead gave him a sort of dangerous, sexy look. He was ex-military, an old member of 11th Company. He gazed about the room.

"The rioting has died down somewhat," he said. "But there's still people out there, flipping cars and setting fires. Taking advantage of the chaos."

Danielle didn't know how she felt about that. On the one hand, it made Asorists look bad. On the other hand, a little civil disobedience might be exactly what the doctor called for. "It's been three days...how long can this keep up?"

"With Stone Wall out in force the way they have been?" Jeremy looked at the humming flourescent tubes on the ceiling and his lips moved as though he was doing math in his head. Finally, he looked down. "Actually, I have no idea. The Prince hasn't called in the military or anything. There's more people than there are cops. Sure, the cops have water cannons and tear gas, but the people are stubborn. Given the opportunity, I think this could go on forever."

Flannery looked around the room at the others gathered there. She was a more moderate Asorist, out of place amongst this group of professional Takehold activists. "Look, the Prince has dismissed Wessich. It's a step in the right direction, clearly he is listening. Don't you think we should make an announcement? Distance ourselves from this whole mess?"

Nadia shook her head. "No way," she growled. She was ex-military too, but unlike Jeremy, she had never mellowed out of the life. She looked like a mercenary, with her keffiyeh tied around her neck and her hair buzzed to her scalp. "He's trying to appease us. Wessich still has all of his titles and his seat in Parliament. It changes absolutely nothing. Don't you see what we have here? A golden opportunity to enact some real change! The people are fighting the system! We can't lose that momentum?"

"Are you suggesting we escalate?" Danielle asked.

"Isn't that why you called this meeting?" Nadia asked.

There was a moment of silence. "I called this meeting," Danielle picked her words carefully, "to discuss our options."

"If we escalate," said Flannery, "we are just going to cause problems. They'll call in the military, we'll all be caught, and we'll be executed for treason."

"Not if the military stands with us," Nadia said.

Danielle looked over the short table to Jeremy. "Do you think they would?"

"Would the military stand with us? I don't know," Jeremy shrugged. "Some would. Maybe even more than some. But not the PMCs. They're not going to turn on the people who bankroll them. And there's still a royalist streak in the officers and some of the troops..."

"But the grunts, a lot of them are ours," said Nadia. "The real fighting men. The one's who care."

Danielle bit her lip. This was all way more than she had ever thought she would be doing. She was an activist, a spokesperson, not a revolutionary. "If we were to move into a...next phase...what would you suggest?"

"We need to go from rioters to revolution," said Nadia. "We need weapons, equipment. We arm ourselves and begin taking strategic targets. A good first step would be police HQ, or the Stone Wall corporate offices. Send a message...the people want our say, and we won't let tools of the aristocracy stand."

Flannery stood. "No, no. I won't be a part of this. You are planning on turning us into terrorists."

"Not terrorists," said Nadia. "Freedom fighters. You are an Asorist. You can't be willing to compromise the worthiness of society because you grow squeamish. We have to be willing to sacrifice everything. And when the dust settles, dead or alive, we will have provided something of value to this country: a government that listens to the people, that is formed by the people, and works for the people. Surely, that's worth doing some...compromising things for."

Flannery shook her head. "No. It's not. We have other means, better means than violence. I'm leaving. When you all come to your senses, call me, but until then, I am wiping my hands of this."

Flannery left the room. Danielle looked about. "Are we really doing this?"

Jeremy sighed and bit his perfect nails. "I...I think so."

Danielle swallowed. Her mouth felt really dry. "So, I guess...where do we find weapons?"
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Postby Ventlimer » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:16 am

A young man sat huddled at a bus stop just down the street from the church with headphones. He shifted in the chilly night as the wind blew silently against his face. A bus pulled up, opened its doors, and waited for him to climb on board. He waved it off and it continued down the road without him. He shifted again and adjusted the volume of the headphones.

"...are we really doing this?" A woman's voice. Maybe Danielle's?

"I...I think so." Male. Jeremy probably. Flannery had left moments before. Nadia hadn't said anything for a moment.

"So, I guess... Where do we find weapons?", Dannielle said again.

The young man already knew where they would find enough weapons to start a revolution at this moment- No where. The military was being overhauled by Stone Wall, Asorists were losing most positions in the process, and the Prince wasn't about to fund an enemy. Their prospects of even stealing a sufficient amount would ensure the Prince called out the military, he thought. No, they could only get them from an outside source.

There was silence on the radio now, but he had heard enough. He stood up quickly and walked to the end of the street, and straight to the church. He checked quickly through the windows to make sure the trio hadn't changed positions, then silently opened the door he had seen Jeremy enter through and attached a manila envelope labeled "Jeremy."

He then slowly walked away from the church, picking up his Sat Phone and dialing Alex in Ventlimer.

"Kriselli?", the voice at the end asked.

"Yes, sir," he answered. "The package is delivered. If they accept, the Asorists should be in contact by tomorrow night via your other Sat Phone."

"You gave them that number?" There was a pause. "Alright. And you mentioned a time?"

"Midnight, tonight or the next night if they don't go ahead with it tonight."

"Thank you. Return to your apartment and continue regular observation until further notice."

"Yes, sir."


Alex Vereshi hung up the phone and put it in his bag, in the second pocket. The third phone was now expected to ring in a couple hours. The first was his known phone. He picked it up and called the president. It rang for a couple moments, then picked up.

"Yes, Alex," Sebastian said, slightly annoyed. "I'm a bit busy here."

"Yes, sir, and I'm sorry, but I needed to inform you that Kriselli delivered the package to the Asorists."

"And how did that go? I'm not supposed to know anything about this, Alex."

"I know, Mr. President, but I need your verbal O.K. to conclude a deal to help the Asorists. We don't need Wessich or the Prince in charge if we can help it."

There was silence on the other end. "What will it require?"

"Arms, sir, and if things go sideways, we need to be prepared to keep the Coalition or any other foreign power from getting too involved."

"We are not exactly in a position to have a quasi war with other nations in Atnaia, Alex," he said, looking over reports that the two divisions were about to reach Kilohattan. "You have your weapons. Take what funds you need. If you need anything larger scale than supplies and maybe a couple more agents for delivery and possible training, then call. Until then, you know your mission."

"Yes, sir," Alex said. "Have a good night, sir."

Alex hung up the phone and sunk into his desk, then pulled up his reports on Stone Wall and continued reading.
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Postby Atnaia » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:52 am

The three Asorists stared at each other, looking for an answer. Suddenly, the silence was broken. Somewhere in the church, a door opened.

"What was that?" Danielle said.

Jeremy shrugged. "Janitor?"

Nadia shook her head and frowned. She reached down and pulled out her taser. She crept forward to the door of the classroom and cracked the door. She looked out into the hall, then opened the door and slipped away. A few minutes later, she returned, staring curiously at a manilla envelope she held in her hand. "No one was there, but there was this. It's addressed to you."

She tossed it to Jeremy, who carefully unwound the red binding and opened the orangish paper. He slid out a single sheet of paper. His eyes flashed across it and he frowned. "Was there anybody in the road?"

"What iis it?" asked Danielle. Jeremy ignored her.

"Was there anybody in the road?"

Nadia shook her head. "If there was, they were gone by the time I got there."

Jeremy handed the document over to Danielle. She read it. "We understand the problems you face and are willing to help. Contact us at midnight. There's a number."

"Anything else?" Nadia asked.

"No, just that."

Jeremy sat down and drummed his fingers on the table. "Is somebody watching us?"

"Could be a LISA trap..." Nadia glanced around. "Fuck, we should have been more careful."

"No," Jeremy replied. "If it was LISA or Stone Wall, we'd already be arrested. If they've been listening, they'd already have more than enough evidence. It has to be someone else."

"Who?" Danielle asked.

"A concerned third party," Jeremy said.

The comment lingered. "This is too lucky," Nadia said, breaking the silence. "It's got to be a trap."

Jeremy stroked his face. "What are they offering? The letter is vague."

"No idea," Danielle replied.

"What do we do?" Jeremy looked at the two women in turn.

"Do we have any ideas on how to get weapons?" Danielle asked.

Nadia sighed and shrugged. "I mean, we could try and get word into a military base, get the Asorists inside to do something. But we're an ideology, not an organization. If they're not members of Takehold, getting word through could be difficult."

"So no good options, then," Danielle said.

Nadia shook her head. Danielle held up the paper. "Do you think that's what they're offering?"

"Could be," Jeremy replied. "Or money. Or advice. Or, like Nadia said, it's probably a trap."

"Without Flannery's money, I don't think we have much choice," Danielle said. "Nadia, you said this was worth dying for. If it is a trap, we go out as heroes."

Nadia nodded. "That's true."

Danielle checked her watch. "We have an hour, then I make the call. If either of you want to back out, you have an hour to make up your mind."




An hour later, they had gathered at Danielle's dining room table. A phone sat before them, number dialed but left unsent. The speaker phone dial tone buzzed. They glanced around at each other. "Are we good?" Danielle asked.

The others nodded. Danielle pressed SEND. The phone rang.
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Postby Ventlimer » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:15 pm

Alex was drumming his fingers on his desk as he closed the Stone Wall files. "Some tough sons of bitches."

Alex thumbed through a book on his desk, then looked around his rather blank office. Besides a picture of his parents back in Lakeland, there really wasn't much personal about his office. It was neat, organized, and clean. Any notes were digital or otherwise destroyed and any documents must be taken out on a case by case issue. This ensured that very little about him could actually told by looking around this tiny space.

He sighed and grabbed his book and began to relax. Just as he opened it to the page he left off, the third phone rang. He let it ring for a few moments, then answered.

"Hello," he said softly. "I take it this is Jeremy, Nadia, and Danielle? My name is Dustin and I represent an interested party. I have had my agent watch you for sometime, watching your movement grow and take shape among the Atnaians. We do not like the Aristocracy and for that reason, we have decided to support you and your message. I know what you require. Are you interested?"
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Postby Atnaia » Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:29 am

The three met each other's eyes. Danielle cleared her throat.

"I think we need some more information," she said. "Who do you represent? We need some sort of confirmation that this is all on the level..."
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Postby Ventlimer » Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:35 am

Alex got slightly annoyed. "I represent another nation that has a vested interest in Atnaia's future. Who doesn't matter if you can't get what you need. I cannot divulge much information now, but I do have an agent who can do that in person. Who is behind this will become apparent if you agree to have us help you. Once you agree, we will let you know the basics as to who and why."
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Postby Atnaia » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:20 am

Nadia looked over at Danielle and shook her head. "I don't know..."

Danielle sighed. "We don't have any other options. We agree. We'll meet with this agent of yours."
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Postby Ventlimer » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:32 am

Good god, he thought. He'd never dealt with a group so suspicious of weapons. Maybe these will actually do some good in Atnaia...

"Is now a good time? If so, he will be there in a half hour."
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Postby Atnaia » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:45 am

"It's fine," Danielle said, looking around her kitchen. She wasn't quite so enthused about having a foreign spy in her home.
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Postby Ventlimer » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:21 am

Alex hung up the phone and called Chris. He answered.

"Be at Danielle's house in 30 minutes."

"Yessir."


A few minutes later, Kriselli was standing in front of the house, a folder and briefcase in hand. He knocked on the door and Danielle answered.

"Thank you thank you," Chris said walking in, attempting to be pleasant but stern. Danielle directed him to the dining room and showed him to his seat. The trio of Asorists, these revolutionaries, was silent as he opened his briefcase, unsure of what to say at this point. Kriselli cleared his throat, then opened his folder.

"I am sorry for the manner in which we had to contact you. We didn't know if you would be willing or not, so hiding our identity was the best option. My name is Christopher Kriselli, and I am the one who has been watching you all these weeks."
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Postby Atnaia » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:25 am

"Technically speaking, we still don't know your identity," Jeremy said.

Nadia nodded once. "How do we know that you aren't someone from LISA, looking to catch us out?"

"If he were from LISA, we'd already be getting hauled out to prison," Danielle said. She looked at Chris. "That being said, if he was watching us, what's to say someone else hasn't been."

"That's the chance we have to take," Jeremy mused. "What is it that you and whatever government you represent are offering, Mr. Kriselli?"
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Postby Ventlimer » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:50 am

"I can assure you that no one has been watching you. The only person watching your group is me. Authorities are, of course, aware of your existence, but not to the level that I am." Kriselli pulled a page out of his file and looked it over. "We are offering weapons, limited training, and structural advice. We have decided the best way to deliver the weapons to Atnaia as well as a couple more agents who will aid you in organization and escalation at the right times." He passed a file to the three, which contained details of a Ventlimian Merchant Ship from the Kilohattan Tribe. He quickly surveyed the room to look for any bugs that weren't his. There were none. "I am representing Ventlimer. Though we have a friendly relationship with the Aristocracy, we prefer to have you in power. For Atnaia, you in power means that your military is well equipped, better treated, and under government control and not this Stone Wall Wessich has. We believe your successful implementation of your ideology will have vastly more welcome economic results as well. For Ventlimer, the only ally in our region who's support seems fragile becomes strong, vastly more friendly, and quite a bit more of a comfort than the current regime could hope."

Kriselli leaned back. "Your former prince was a good man, but the issue with Aristocrats is they are only good every once in a while. We can't have that kind of instability in a nation we tied ourselves to. Now, are you willing to accept our aid, or no?"
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Postby Atnaia » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:08 pm

Danielle skimmed the document. She pursed her lips. "I feel uncomfortable about this," she said.

Jeremy put a hand on her shoulder. "A little discomfort is needed if we are going to affect change."

"A little discomfort and a lot of blood," Nadia said.

"What does Ventlimer's government hope to get from us if we do succeed?" Danielle asked.
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Postby Ventlimer » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:22 pm

"Friendship, in all honesty. A government our people will feel comfortable supporting and having the support of even if how our nation handles its own issues is in conflict to your way of thinking. We don't have many friends and want to solidify the only one we have. The Weak Aristocracy will never do for that. Anything else is up to negotiations. This will all be covert. We will not hang a single thing over you and will make no demands beyond what we currently make of the Aristocracy without due negotiation."

He shifted a bit. "As a side note, we believe in your idea of a government and economy. Sharing cultural, political, and economic ties with you will greatly benefit our nations."
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Postby Atnaia » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:26 pm

"We can't promise you anything specifically," Danielle said. "Asorism is based on the ideal of rule by the people. It would be up to the people to decide how far to take friendship between our nations."

"That being said," Nadia interrupted. "Your help would certainly be a good step to earning the goodwill of the people."

Danielle nodded. "Yes."

They sat in silence for a moment. Danielle looked at Nadia, who nodded, then to Jeremy, who did the same. She swallowed and held out her hand. "We accept the aid of your government."
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Postby Ventlimer » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:08 pm

Kriselli smiled and shook it firmly but pleasantly. "Good. We expect that this movement along with other formalized agreements will win your people's friendship. The shipment is already on its way with 2 agents to be delivered to the location on your file, which I expect to remain in hard copy in a locked safe for both of our protection. The shipment itself will be handled by my fellow agents and delivered to that warehouse. About 1500 small arms will be delivered. The only thing left is how we plan to use them." He pulled out another report on the riots. "The prince is indecisive, focused on rooting out corruption in his ranks when his government needs to be strongest. Dismissing Wessich was probably the worst thing he could have done. While initially, I believe our fight will be against the government, it is Stone Wall we need to worry with. But no amount of Stone Wall Security personal can stop the true and popular revolution you need to succeed."

He studied them all for a moment. "Now, the only question is HOW do we escalate the violence without the military being called out? Once we figure this out, it is only a matter of time before something occurs that will leave Atnaia in shock. A Boston Massacre of the United States, for example. Once this happens, it will require the right propaganda to correctly use this event. Do any of you write?"
Last edited by Ventlimer on Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Atnaia » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:52 pm

Jeremy chuckled. "Do we write? Takehold started as a newsletter. We all write."

"The Asorists are far from centralized," Danielle said. "We're an ideology, not a religion. No central organization, per se. But Takehold is a big group, and when we start fighting, others will."

Jeremy held up his hands. "Woah woah woah! Takehold is fifty percent college students, You can't be expecting me to start handing out guns to the kids I talk to every week. They're thinkers, not fighters, and I won't see them shot for out plan."

Nadia stepped forward. "They won't have to. My boys and I have been discussing the option of an armed revolt for years. Some of the veterans in Takehold have been around since the 80s, they saw or even fought in the coup. They've learned from their mistakes."

"Like fighting for a madman who thought he was Caesar," Danielle mumbled.

"Sure, like that," Nadia growled. "Look, what I'm saying is that the military vets in Takehold I meet with every week are our army, and they're far from the only ones. There's veteran groups all over the city that meet up, and half of them are Asorists. That's our in."

"She's right," Jeremy said. "As for targets..."

"We need to hit Stone Wall, but we need to do it in a way that doesn't call in the military and keeps it to the police, at least until we swell our numbers," Nadia said. "We start with small strikes, decentralized and without apparent connection. We lure Stone Wall officers into traps and take them out. Meanwhile, we damage Stone Wall infrastructure. What would really hit them is an attack on Stone Wall Police Headquarters...something big to damage their image AND their communications."
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Postby Ventlimer » Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:14 pm

Kriselli thought for a moment. "This is good. Very good. You guys seem to be able to work the actual actions out on your own. But, for now, we need escalation. One of the most effective means of that are planted members of the crowd to stir a little trouble in just the right way. Tear gas thrown back at police, bricks thrown at just the right time. Things like this. Also, we would need someone videoing it from a rooftop or window. This way we can quickly and easily broadcast it as much as possible. The major news stations may even play it."
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Postby Atnaia » Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:46 am

"The riots have died down," Nadia said, pulling out her phone. "But where they're still springing up, that's already been happening."

She turned her phone around, showing an internet video someone had filmed from their cellphone of riot cops turning water cannons on the crowds, of the sudden swarm of tasers being fired, of officer's beating protesters with batons. The video had carefully left out what had been happening moments before however, the only evidence of which was a flipped police car in the background.
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Postby Ventlimer » Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:11 am

Atnaia wrote:"The riots have died down," Nadia said, pulling out her phone. "But where they're still springing up, that's already been happening."

She turned her phone around, showing an internet video someone had filmed from their cellphone of riot cops turning water cannons on the crowds, of the sudden swarm of tasers being fired, of officer's beating protesters with batons. The video had carefully left out what had been happening moments before however, the only evidence of which was a flipped police car in the background.


"Very well. The weapons will arrive in two days. Until then, You have a lot to talk about. I'll have to take my leave now."
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Postby Atnaia » Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:11 am

As they watched the Ventlimian spy leave, the three members of Takehold looked around the room at each other.

"Why do I deel like we just made a deal with the devil?" Jeremy asked.

"Better the devil than dead," Nadia replied.

The comment hung heavy in the air.




"Blaine?" Henry asked, scanning the file. He sighed and set it down. "Is he really the best option?"

"Aside from Wessich, he is the most experienced and knowledgeable military leader in the House of Nobles," said Duke Bronte. "He's the best option for Wessich's replacement."

"The man is a thug," Henry said. He remembered being punched in the face by Augustus Blaine when they were both children. "And he's in bed with Wessich."

"Would you rather name someone with no experience?" asked Duchess Sunderman.

Henry sighed. "Of course not. It just seems...short-sighted. We talk about rooting out corruption, and then we name the CEO of Promethean to Minister of Defense?"

That got the room thinking. "What about Arthur Colt?" Bronte suggested.

Henry steepled his fingers in front of his mouth. Now that was interesting, a more out-of-the-box suggestion than he was used to from Bronte. "The head of ANIA?"

"He has eight years of military experience, ten years of experience in the field as a covert agent, and twenty years of leadership experience in various roles in ANIA," Bronte said. "Not the most traditional option, but he has something going for him..."

"He's a commoner," Sunderman said.

Henry stroked his chin. A commoner in cabinet. It could work. "But he's not an MP."

"Where in the law does it say a cabinet member must be an MP?" Bronte said. "The title 'Minister of Defense' is just a title for an advisorship position."

"Armin Painter will be upset that he got skimmed over," said Henry.

"Armin Painter is 86 years old," Sunderman said. "He should be retired..."

"True," Henry said. "Send an invitation to Colt. I'd like to speak to him personally."
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Postby Atnaia » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:34 am

"Prison privatization," said Yorke. "That's the next step. Prison privatization."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Barty," Thomas chuckled, refilling his glass of brandy. "The goal is for companies to work for the state, not for the state to work for companies. Besides, there is a necessary first step..."

"Naturally, my lord," Yorke waved his hand vaguely. "Naturally. And to that end..."

"You have begun planning?" Thomas said, looking over the rim of his glass at his old friend.

"I am always planning for the betterment of Atnaia and your house," Yorke replied.

"My house lives and dies at the beck of Atnaia," Thomas said earnestly. "The nation comes first. It always comes first."

"And you would peel the sword from above the mantle and throw yourself upon it if you knew it would lead this country to greatness," Yorke sighed. "Your selflessness will be the death of you."

"As you've said many times, Yorke," Thomas said. "As you have said many, many times. As for these plans?"

Yorke held a finger to his lips. "How much do you really wish to know?"

"Enough," Thomas said, leaving it to Yorke's discretion.

"Let me say that we will have men in the right places to listen, watch and, when necessary, act," Yorke said. "In fact, I've simply...reworked instructions for them. They are prepared."

"And loyal?"

"Always," Yorke said.

Stone Wall's Special Projects Division had been Yorke's brainchild, and seeing it come to fruition obviously sent a wave of glee through Thomas' old friend. "Perfect," Thomas smiled, and raised a glass. The pair clinked their glasses together.
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