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The Atomic Secret [IC, TWI]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Vancouvia
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Founded: Sep 19, 2014
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The Atomic Secret [IC, TWI]

Postby Vancouvia » Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:45 pm

OOC: https://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=389874





More than six months after a nuclear explosion far off in the east, the Vancouvian Congress has largely forgot about the event. But Eva Driscoll and Arnold Yates, Senators both, vividly remember. To Arnold, it feels like just yesterday when he sat in the dark, silent room as the order to detonate was given. He remembers the faces, the members of government and high society, the military generals and the millionaires: the traitors.

"We need to come clean, Eva, we need to do it now!"

Eva leaned back in her office chair with a look of strong distaste on her face. "Why now, Arnold? You lost your balls all of a sudden or is this more of a gradual balls loss you get in old age?"

Arnold scanned the dreary book-filled office. A degree from Yorkford Uni hang behind Eva's desk, while cabinets and dressers closed in the room's already starving floor space. "It's already out, Eva. Hell, they're saying even Pastel knows about this now. Pastel, Eva."

"I don't give a --- about Pastel. We talked about this. We're letting at least a few years go by before this leaks out -- and we're not admitting to our involvement! You want to play a little game of Prisoner's Dilemma with me, Arnie, I will destroy you. I make one call, just one call, and they send a VEO detachment down here to make sure you never say anything ever again."

Arnold swayed back and forth like a buoy in the waves. "That's... that's not necessary," croaked Arnold. "I just.... I will not say anything."

"No, you won't, Arnie. Now get the hell out of my office."

-

Arnold made his way back out of the capitol and into his tram back home. He didn't pull out his phone like usual. Rather, he examined the faces of the passengers around him, the citizens who elected him, who would one day find out that he had betrayed their confidence, that he broke his sacred responsibility. "Shit," said Arnold to himself, as he exited to the brisk autumn air and brought his jacket closer to his neck.
Last edited by Vancouvia on Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Sat Sep 24, 2016 4:19 pm

Caprice Wellington scrolled down through the vendor list. It was 9, late, even for her. As a senior manager of Coldwater Brookstone, Caprice had very often the weight of the world on her shoulders, tasked with auditing some of the largest clients her accounting firm held. This time, however, it was different. The government, the VSF, in fact, awaited the auditor's opinion of its fiscal year's financials.

Sprawled out in a cold, dark room at the VSF's headquarters in Yorkford, Caprice had already sent her team home. She worked alone, venturing through the depths of the client's financials, skirting through the numbers and names and figures and ratios. She was already halfway complete, much of which she reasoned she owed to her team's hard work. But still, there was one problem she just could not figure out. Who was Southern Maritime Logistics, and why was the VSF forking over 100 million coves to them each month since May? The payments were regular, and yet, Caprice could not find any company under such name that had ever existed. Sure, she reasoned, the government had every reason to keep their confidential data confidential, but this was presented to her upon the start of the audit. Why was this "vendor" the only one that she didn't recognize, and why did she lack any contractual documentation that even mentioned it? These questions plagued her until 10, when she remembered her cat back home may be getting anxious. Silently, she locked up the room, grabbed the elevator, and exited to the street. "Shit," thought Caprice, as the cold night air struck her especially hard.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Sat Sep 24, 2016 4:54 pm

John Smith sat on the lighthouse's top deck, his rifle across his lap, his mug of coffee's contents desperately low. He heard footsteps.

"Identify," shouted John, not even getting up from his lawn chair.

"It's me, Mikey," said Sergeant Michael Costanello, as he came up through the trapdoor and dragged another lawn chair close to John's. "How's the waves?"

"They're still there," laughed John. "All okay down below?"

"Oh yeah, yeah, yeah of course. Just came up to see how you were doing... and give you some more of this," said Mikey as he pulled out a thermos and handed it to John.

"You're a lifesaver, you know that Mikey? I'm putting you in for a Congressional Medal as soon as I get off this tower." John tossed what remained in his cup over the edge and opened up the thermos, enjoying the fresh java made just the way he liked it.

"Hey, you ever wonder what the hell we're doing out here, Mikey? How Bravo 8 goes in and out the bunker and we gotta stay topside. Got us on damn 'weather observational duty' like we're a bunch of civies. Isle 14, my ass, this is Isle Something Fishy's Going On Down There. I'm up here watching the damn night sky like it's about to cave in, you're down there tossing balloons up and down measuring humidity. You know something's up."

"I think we're measuring atmospheric pressure, man. I don't know, maybe humidity too, but definitely the pressure."

"Okay, Mikey," John laughed. "But why the hell are they having trained VSF doing VNA or civy work for months on end. No one even lives here other than our units, so who the hell needs to know about the pressure? We don't even get a weather report or a newspaper or nothing. And those VEO guys who came last week for an 'inspection,' what are they inspecting? What's in that precious bunker?"

"Shit, John," said Mikey. "You think too much."

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:52 pm

Caprice wrapped her scarf tighter across her neck as she got off the bus and prepared herself for the three block walk home. She sighed to herself as her mind raced.

I need you guys here an hour early tomorrow - sorry for that and the late notice! Caprice typed in a group text to her audit team. Found a weird vendor we need to take a look at in more detail. Southern maritime logistics if any of you are better at searches than me and want some extra credit. -C

Finally reaching her apartment building, she made the walk upstairs and collapsed onto the couch. I don't get paid enough for this...

Her cat, Cato, strolled over and began meowing. "Oh, that's right," said Caprice as she jumped up and ran to pour a bowl of food and water for him. "How was your day?"

"Meow."

Knowing she would have an early morning tomorrow, Caprice gently glided to sleep, only to be awoken forty minutes later by a loud knock on the door.

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Skaitsya
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Postby Skaitsya » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:44 am

Äpel glided up the stairs towards the apartment he had been told his target took up residence in. He pulled the hood of his black hoodie over his head tightly. He ate a handful of grapes, using his free hand to pull them out from his pocket. He strolled along the corridor for a minute or two before finding the right apartment. He knocked on the door three or four times, then stood back. He pulled his stun gun out of the inside pocket of his hoodie, hiding it behind his back. His gloved hands tightened around the stun gun's leather grip. He went to make a T sound, but stopped himself. Äpel took a deep breath and tried again. "Caprice Wellington?" he said, almost shouting and trying hard to conceal his accent. He quickly whispered "Up now" into his shoulder mic.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:58 am

Caprice was startled. What time is it? She ventured hazily over to the door after throwing on a jacket and peered through the peephole. How does he know my name?

"Who is it?" she said through the door.

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Skaitsya
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Postby Skaitsya » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:17 am

Äpel paused for a moment. "J-John...Codman, polit-police department. I've...been sent to investigate drug use in this area. I need to talk to everyone in this building." He held his breath, unsure as to whether Caprice would open the door or not.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:34 am

Skaitsya wrote:Äpel paused for a moment. "J-John...Codman, polit-police department. I've...been sent to investigate drug use in this area. I need to talk to everyone in this building." He held his breath, unsure as to whether Caprice would open the door or not.


"You're conducting interviews at midnight? Come back in the morning... John," said Caprice, a little bit confused and a lot angry, as she walked away from the door and went to get a glass of water.

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Skaitsya
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Postby Skaitsya » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:42 am

Äpel let out an audible sigh. He waited a few seconds, then carefully placed his stun gun on the floor and pulled out his lock picking set. After a few minutes of intense concentration, his lock pick broke. He swore and picked another lock pick out. Several lock picks and a few minutes later, he finally heard the door unlock. Äpel picked up his stun gun. He pushed it open as quietly as he could, and stepped inside. Realising that his stun gun would be of little use if he found himself at a distance, he pulled out his taser.

Äpel walked slowly and quietly into Caprice's apartment. He peered around the corner and saw Caprice lying on the couch, half asleep with a glass of water on the floor next to the couch. He slowly put his taser back into his jacket and pulled out a hypodermic needle filled with sedatives. He took off the needle's cap and took in a deep breath. He counted to three, then darted out from the corner and charged Caprice as quickly as he could.

Caprice tried to grab her glass of water and throw it at Äpel, but she was half asleep and by the time she had a firm grip on the glass, Äpel was virtually on top of her. He pinned her down but she bit him. Roaring in anger, Äpel slapped her hard round the face, dazing her. He quickly grabbed her throat and injected the sedatives into her neck. She struggled for a minute or so, before going limp. Äpel heard his comrades entering the apartment and he shouted at them to help him take her away in Skaijekä. Lijakas, one of Äpel comrades wheeled a large suitcase into the room. They carefully placed Caprice inside and went back to their car. They drove to a car park in a more rundown part of the city and took Caprice out of the suitcase, placing her in the middle back seat, away from the doors. They drove off again, this time out of the city,
Last edited by Skaitsya on Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:51 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Sat Oct 01, 2016 12:32 pm

Caprice's team sat in a boardroom on the 14th floor of the VSF's headquarters, each anxiously wondering where their leader was. The clock just struck noon.

"Have you tried calling her, Meg?" asked Ryan, a senior auditor.

"Of course I tried calling her! I texted, I called, I emailed, I tweeted! She's not answering."

"Pretty shitty of her to call us over early and not even show up herself, isn't it?" piped in someone else.

"Meg, don't you, like, know where she lives? Didn't you go hang out with her before?" asked Ryan.

"Yeah, she's in Lilac Park." Meg paused. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. You guys take lunch and pick me up something. I'll take the tram over and see if she's there."

-

Meg arrived at Caprice's apartment and made her way up to the right floor. After a few knocks and no one answering, Meg was about to leave, when she figured she might as well try the handle. To her surprise, the door was unlocked. "Caprice?" shouted Meg, glancing around the room. Then she noticed the shards of glass, an umbrella lying on the floor, and a scuff-mark on the hardwood floors. Quickly, she ran out of the hallway and back down to the street. Her hand shook as she called the police.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Sun Oct 02, 2016 7:35 pm

"You see this today?" asked Senator Eva Driscoll as she slid the newspaper over to a man in a Vancouvian Special Forces uniform. "Coward, thick and through like I told you."

The colonel nodded and slid it back. "You think he will be a problem in the future?"

"I know him," said Eva defensively. "He's the kind of man who runs from even the thought of trouble."

"Is that a no?" growled the officer impatiently.

"It's a: he's a sad, old man who wouldn't dare."

The colonel stood up and began to turn towards the door. "Have a safe day, Ms. Driscoll."

Eva grinned and grabbed the newspaper to her chest, "You too, Colonel."

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Ostehaar
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Postby Ostehaar » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:20 am

The Argean Section was one of the most numb and boring sections in The Institute's Intelligence Department. Unlike the Mesder Section, the Kavju Section, or even the rather small Eterna Section - this one had fewer resources, much less attention from superiors, and not enough influence. After all, Ostehaar didn't really need to spy on some of its closest allies such as Vancouvia and Polar Svalbard, and Xrevaro was already full of Oster government operatives, monitoring the situation and simply being there.

Most analysts preferred not to be placed in the Argean Section, but Ehthan Lohfer was an odd duck. He found Vancouvia's politics interesting and lively enough to be studied closely, and decided it would be a good idea to serve his country by being responsible on forming the OVAST's view on this northern nation. His official title was "Chief Analyst of Vanvouvia Related Affairs" and he was subordinate to the head of the Argean Section, Martin Si Grehnsjaa.

About half a year prior to the resignation of Vancouvian Senator Arnold Yates, Ehthan was called to a meeting with Alex Vulf of Unit 1088. Mister Vulf, after explaining the importance and significance of the meeting and of the things he was about to say, revealed his unit's role in the production and transfer for nuclear weapons to Vancouvia. Ehthan listened carefully when he was told about 'Isle 14', and was immensely surprised when he was asked to be in charge of monitoring the situation on the small island. "Are you sure," he immediately asked, "I'm a political analyst, not an expert on secret projects and military matters."

Since then, Ehthan has been devoting about three hours every week to check up on the Isle 14 issue. He got help from a VISINT expert and an ELINT expert in the Collection Department, which instructed him on how to understand satellite reports and radar readings. By his third month into the assignment, he already knew the Vancouvian routine on the island by heart and could recite out of memory the locations and models of all Vancouvian vessels and vehicles on and around it.

Then came October. Ehthan decided to move his Isle 14 monitoring hours to the beginning of the week this time - Sunday, October 2nd - instead of doing it in its end. His hopes to finish this weekly task by noon quickly vanished. The sudden spike in activity was obvious to any person who would have studied the routine for several months, and none of it could be explained by a military exercise.

His "what the fuck" face were already a legend among the analysts in the Argean Section, but they were always followed by a ten minute rant about some idiot Vancouvian Senator or some weird Congress decision. That morning in October was the first time he had his "what the fuck" face while observing the usual satellite imagery of Isle 14 and the related radar reports.

It went on the following days. The routine was obviously broken, but he had no idea why and if there was going to be a new routine in its place. Meanwhile, he saw chaos. It took him about an hour and a half to summarize everything into a short paper, which he presented to Grehnsjaa by October 4th in the evening.

"What do you think is happening?" Grehnsjaa wondered, holding Ehthen's paper in his hand. "Are you absolutely sure this isn't just another exercise?"

Ehthan nodded quickly. "No, that's not possible. That's not it. It's something else, but... I have no idea."

"You have to do better than that," Grehnsjaa replied. "I can't take this up to Vortmer like that. He'll want answers, not questions."

"But we can't have an answer if we're not putting anything on it. I can monitor satellite imagery as much as I want, but without someone on the ground we will never have the proper intelligence."

Grehnsjaa sighed. "I know that, Ehthan, but that's life in the Argean Section. We can't have people operating in Vancouvia. They're not that kind of allies. Try talking to mister Vulf's folks."
Last edited by Ostehaar on Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Wed Oct 05, 2016 4:03 pm

The 16 man squad of Bravo 8, VSF, was responsible for one thing and one thing only: the safety, security, and secrecy of the nuclear weapons in the bunkers of Isle 14. Working closely with a civilian detachment of three dozen or so nuclear scientists, mostly foreign and mostly a little bit crazed, they had perhaps the greatest weight on any squad's shoulders since the beginning.

On paper, the soldiers and the civilians both worked for Southern Maritime Logistics, a dummy corporation with a rather non-existent employee handbook. Bravo 8 themselves were handpicked; they had one of the most active service records of any squad, participating in the Bhumidol and I.D. conflicts at the front line. More importantly, however, they had taken "experimental" nuclear classes during their training many years ago. Tasked with security, but with the know-how sufficient enough to run the entire operation themselves should the civilians be compromised, Bravo 8 was the last, and in some ways the first, line of defense.

Technically, VEO was in charge of SML and the island itself, and they had made that clear with weekly inspections of the bunker and its occupants. In practice, however, Bravo 8 had a chain of command, and they were damn well going to follow it up the ladder to the General of the VSF himself before they bowed down to any spooks.

Secondary squads, unaware of the bunker's importance, patrolled the island and provided surface level security, ostensibly tasked with weather and reconnaissance objectives. The navy patrolled the water, a UAV or two remained ever-present in the skies, and a quick reaction force in Mojave remained vigilant.

Isle 14 was secure for the time being. But all it took was one diligent auditor, one retiring Senator, and one questioning soldier to unite the spark of revelation.

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Prioca
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Postby Prioca » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:45 pm

A black SUV pulled up to the Riven News Network headquarters, the largest news company in Prioca. Inside the SUV was the RNN's most valuable reporter and writer, Max Rositas. Max had been in the business for 23 years, and was previously a commander in the Priocan Speacial Forces. If the RNN needed someone to cover a special story, it would always be him who did it. Max stepped out of the SUV, and walked up to the building, went inside, and was greeted by his colleagues.

"Max!", came a shout.

"Yes?" Max responded, wondering why someone was shouting.

"New story for you to cover. We gotta get you there immediately." Said one of his co-workers.

"Why is this so urgent?"

"You'll find out soon enough."

--------------------

Before he knew it, Max was on a flight to Vancouvia. Supposedly someone had been kidnapped. This wasn't even close to some of the most dangerous jobs he'd had in the past, but still, it required his experience. His job is to get into Vancouvia, and cooperate with major Vancouvian news stationsget information on the kidnapping from them, and then get some of his own info on the case, enough to write a story on. It was a two hour flight. He decided he should take a short nap on the way. He dreamt about some of his past adventures. The time when he reported on a war in Keomora. The time he wrote a story about Prioca's own government, and how corrupt it was. The Priocan purchase of military equipment from Ostehaar, and many more. He woke up to the sound of a man shouting. He wondered what was going on. He turned around to see the man sitting behind him was getting into an argument with a flight attendant. The plane was about to land. He figured the argument was over buckling his seatbelt or something stupid, and decided to stay out of it. As they were leaving the plane, he noticed that the man who was shouting had a strange marking on his arm. A tattoo of some sort. He figured it meant nothing, but memorized the symbol anyways in case it was important.

-------------------

It was early morning. His van pulled up to the hotel. He got out, and checked in. As soon as he put his things in his room he left to find more about this kidnapping. He first went to see if the a story about this was in any newspapers. After searching for a half hour, he decided the story hadn't been published anywhere yet. He'd have to find his own information. Well, that would have to wait. He was hungry.

That afternoon, his phone dinged. A story had been published online about the kidnapping. He read quickly.

"So, it was a women's that had been kidnapped." He thought, "interesting."

He read the rest of the article, and starting making notes. Tomorrow he would find out more, as he was tired. He had woken up at three the previous morning. He headed back to the hotel, and as soon as he was about to fall asleep, his phone dinged again. He ignored it, as it probably meant nothing, and fell asleep.
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Prioca
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Postby Prioca » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:57 am

After waking up in the middle of the night, Max could not fall back asleep. He tossed and turned in bed until five in the morning. There was no use. He took a shower, got dressed, and ate a small breakfast. On his way leaving the hotel, he saw the man he had seen on the plane the other day, the one arguing with the flight attendant. Was he following him? He would keep an eye out. Max decided to head for the crime scene to see what he could find.

After thirty minutes, he finally found the place where this lady, her name apparently being Caprice, had supposedly been kidnaped from. There was yellow police tape surrounding the building. Only people who lived there were being allowed to enter.

"Shoot," he thought, "what am I going to do?"

He took out his camera, a ZenTech Series 3, the best camera produced in Prioca, and took a picture of the apartment. He then walked up to the police, who were making sure only residents got in the building. He put his camera back in hai duffel bag, trying to act like a resident, and walked by the police, when...

"Hey!" Shouted one of the police, "If you're a resident, show me your id!"

"Ummm...." Max stuttered.

He bolted, and ran as fast as a 49 year old could run. The police were not far behind, and they were catching him fast. He bolted through the street, and luck was on his side, because as soon as he crossed, there was a green light, and cars began to go. The police were stuck on the other side. Max had caught a break. That would not have gone well. He called a taxi over, and headed back to the hotel.

When he got back, he went over to his phone, which was charging. He hadn't checked it at all this morning yet. He had three notifications. Two texts and an email. He looked at the texts. His mom had died last night from a stroke. He could barley walk. His legs gave out. He couldn't believe it. His mom was 69 and had never previously had a health problem. He couldn't take it. He passed out.

---------------

When he woke up, he was in his room still. That surprised him. But, then again, no one knew he was here. He had done all he could do for his story. It would be in all the Priocan newspapers in two days. He would head home and help an arrange his mothers funeral. His father had died twenty years ago from a car accident. He checked out of the hotel, and got on a plane back to Riven.
Former Secretary of Recruiting of The Western Isles
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New Aapelistan
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Postby New Aapelistan » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:50 am

Mathew woke up to a loud knock on his door, that sounded more like someone kicking his door. He could see that it was a beautiful new day in Vesuvius, his deployment area. Rising from his bed and hearing a second knock, Mathew noticed how his phone blinked a light, signaling that someone had sended him messages and called later on. He immeaditly could imagine who was knocking on his door. Fu*king Alena...

Mathew dressed up quickly and walked to his apartments front door. Opening it, he quickly noticed how it was Alena, his collaque in VSK. "What is it Alena?" asked Mathew with a drowzy voice.

"I have tried to call you many times, why haven't you answered to those?"

"You know it's a day off for me from my work. Of course I have the phone on mute and of course I sleep to..." Mathew looked to his left hand, looking for the watch he usually has on his wrist. "...to some time in the day. How much is the time even?"

Alena leaned to the left a little bit and said "It's 12.30 sleepy head. Could I come in? I would want to talk in some better place than the buildings hallway"

Mathew looked around him hastly and understood how he had been in the doorway all the time. "Yeah. Just come on in" Mathew moved from the doorway and closed the door after Alena.

Alena sat on a chair next to Mathew's dining table and took couple of papers from his handbag, while Mathew was preparing to make his regular morning coffee. "You want some coffee?" asked Mathew in a polite, but still drowzy voice.

"No thank you, I already drinked coffee. Plus this isn't going to be a long visit"

Mathew started the coffee machine and walked next to Alena, to take a short look at the papers. "What is this?" Mathew noticed a name and a picture of a woman in the papers. "Caprice Wellington. Who is she?"

"Just some lady in Yorkford, who is on our watchlist. Suspected VSF. Dissapeared suddenly not a long time ago. Your first job in VSK, just find her and follow her after on. Report back to this guy." Alena gave Mathew another paper "He's your superior now."

Walking towards the door, Alena turned and looked Mathew "Oh, and congratulations for the first job"

Mathew looked as Alena closed the door and poured coffee to his cup. Doesn't sound too hard...

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Fri Oct 14, 2016 4:11 pm

"This is bad, and it's getting worse." The words echoed across the table and slammed into Eva's throat.

"I know," said Eva. "I know..."

Michael McKinley, the lead partner of Coldwater Brookstone sat across from Eva, staring directly into her inner being. He pounded his fist into the table and stared around the room. The VSF colonel from earlier and two more shrouded co-conspirators tried hard not to shudder. "Do you think, perhaps, you can do your job, or do we need to get someone else who can?"

Eva regained her composure. "With all due respect, sir," Eva began, "it is your employee who has started this mess."

"Yes, Ms. Driscoll, it is, but it is your carelessness that has turned a lone disappearance into a national spectacle." McKinley referred to the growing news coverage over the missing auditor. "And it is your inoperable brain that has every reporter from across the region bearing down on Yorkford, and every bookkeeper and janitor in my company asking questions."

"You can blame me, I get it," said Senator Eva. "I know you need a scapegoat. Someone to sacrifice to the others. But what you don't understand, Michael, is that I'm not so easy to make disappear. You want news that another Senator has resigned, another young woman has gone missing, then you go ahead and put the sack over my head right now. But if you want solutions, you want results, you damn well better stop banging your chest and parading around here like you're the chief baboon."

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:10 pm

John Smith pulled his night coat up to his chin and continued the slow crawl towards the bunker door. The night sky and a drizzling rain kept him in the shadows; the flashes of lightning betrayed him.

For John, it was time. Time to see what lay under Isle 14. Time to at least try to find answers. The mystery poured on him harder than the rain.

He had left his rifle back at his post. This was reconnaissance, not a full-blow operation. He knew the danger, he knew the consequences, but he would rather know the truth.

Thunder cracked overheard. John picked his hood back over his jet black hair. There it was, the door. Two VSF, just like him, stood at attention, their eyes scanning the mist. Carefully, methodically, he crept up to their flank and made his move. It was over within seconds: he had the advantage, the initiative, the will. Their unconscious bodies sank into the wet dirt, their necks bruised and bulged, their pockets ravaged.

John opened the door. A red light flashed over head, a long hallway stretched for an indeterminable stretch. Shivering, the adrenaline from the ambush wearing off, John wished he had his gun. Not for the soldiers, but for whatever the darkness held. The fear overcame his training.

The hallway descended at a rapid slope. John could not determine how far underground he had gone. A series of flashing red lights led him deeper and deeper into the abyss, until he came to a lone, steel door and a key card slot. John pulled out a card he had taken from the guards and swiped it. The door slowly swung open. What awaited him was a blinding light and the guards' squad-mates, their rifles pointed at him, their faces enraged yet disciplined.

"You think we don't have cameras, dipshit?" rang a voice from John's side, as a rifle butt struck him in the head. "You better pray they're alive."

John fell to the ground. Blackish blood poured from his skull. He struggled to open his eyes, only to grasp an image of men in lab coats and uniforms bearing down on his body.

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Vancouvia
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Postby Vancouvia » Sat Oct 15, 2016 7:59 pm

Eva grabbed a sheet and stuck it gently into the typewriter. She cracked her knuckles and then began her letter to Mister Vulf.


My dear friends in Ostehaar,

It seems like just yesterday - and ages ago at the same time - that we met at a small house in Vesuvius with a plan to strengthen both of our nation's positions. We, as leaders of our proud countries, set ourselves on a course that was irreversible. I joined that course because I knew it was right, just, and in all ways: necessary. I send this letter to you now, at a time of great struggle in my nation's shadows, to ask for your assistance once again.

As I'm sure you are aware, the disappearance of an auditor has sparked a major investigation of the VSF. This investigation now threatens everything we have worked for. And, more personally, it threatens my very life and the lives of those who have bared the burden alongside. The back alley moves we have made are now being pushed far into the street, into the public eye. It is my position that the public needs not yet know the secrets of that dark alley, the brutal destruction that Vancouvia holds in its linted pockets. Let us bar them from that cost. Let us preserve their innocence.

I cannot turn to the VSF. I cannot turn to VEO. I cannot turn to my fellow Senators. I turn to you, Ostehaar, our brothers of the north. Lend me now your shoulder. Help me put a stop to this crisis before it is too late.

Solemnly,

E.D.

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Postby Ostehaar » Tue Oct 18, 2016 3:38 am

Ehthan Lohfer was waiting outside of Alex Vulf's office when the old hawk opened the door and stepped outside, fixing his coat and cuffs. "Walk with me to the ministry, will you," Alex said casually as he started walking, expecting the young analyst to follow quickly.

"Sir, I am -"

"I know who you are, Mister Lohfer," Alex interrupted, "I've read your message. That's why I'm talking with you."

The two walked across the giant lobby of the building and exited through the front entrance, exposing themselves to the low temperatures and dry air of mid-October in north Ostehaar. Both shoved their hands deep in their pockets and quickly crossed the narrow passage on their way to the Ministry of Defense. Ehthan followed the old man into a gloomy corridor and down a staircase, through a high security door and into another long corridor.

Alex slowed down and glanced at Ehthan. "I have an important meeting at the end of this hall," he said. "I am rather old, so it will take me about a minute to get there. Please tell me what you need to tell me in the meantime." He then increased his pace.

"Sir, as I've mentioned in my message, strange things have been happening in Vancouvia lately, and some of them are related to Isle 14. The routine has been broken there, and I believe a VSF soldier has gone missing on the island. This, in addition to the resignation of Senator Yates and the kidnapping of Caprice Wellington, leads me to the conclusion that our business with the Vancouvians may be compromised. We need to check this seriously, sir."

Alex stopped close to the meeting room door, turned to the Ehthan, and nodded in approval. "I agree, Mister Lohfer. Thank you, and please keep monitoring the situation on the island. I'll probably talk to you later this week." He then turned back to the door entered the room, leaving Ehthan smiling behind.

"Thank you, sir. Have a good day!"



"Good morning, Mister Vulf, we were just talking about you."

Alex nodded slightly in greeting to Minister Dulikh and his assistant. "Is he cleared for this?"

"Of course he is," the Minister said. "You two should get acquainted."

"Maybe later." Alex tossed a piece of paper on the table and took a deep breath. "I got a letter from Senator Driscoll, asking for our help. I have a Vancouvia analyst following me for almost a week now, talking about strange occurrences on Isle 14. I hear about the disappearance of a Coldwater Brookstone senior manager in almost every regional news channel."

Minister Dulikh cleared his throat, "and you're worried?"

"Shouldn't I?" Alex asked angrily. "We counted on the Vancouvians to keep this a secret. Things have gone too far, and we need to put our own people on this."

"Let me understand, are you suggesting we spy on the VSF? On the VEO?"

"It's too late for spying now, Minister. We need to help them shut this up, proactively."

The Minister snickered in contempt. "That's absurd!"

"Are you purposely blind, Aarin?" Alex said, raising both hands sideways to head level. "Do you rather wait for this to become a desperate rearguard battle?"

"Mister Vulf," the Minister replied, "I'm not going to approve direct actions against Vancouvian citizens. If you take this to the Prime Minister, I assure you I will do everything in my power to prevent it from being done. If you want to disintegrate our relations with the Vancouvians, then run for government and vote on it."



Alex Vulf sat in his office, and took another sip of his tea. He put the cup down on the desk and picked up the phone.

"Good morning, Doctor. About our last conversation..."

Alex listened to his interlocutor for about a minute and didn't say a word.

"I agree. This analyst of yours, Lohfer, he told me about it."

He remained quiet a few more moments and nodded in agreement as he listened.

"Alright. We'll have to do it without the Minister's approval, then."

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Postby Vancouvia » Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:27 am

Isle 14

"I won't tell you again: step back!" shouted Corporal Rawling, his rifle pointed at his counterpart only inches away. His neck was bruised and battered, his uniform did little to cover it.

"Fuck you, where's Smith?! Where's your CO? Where's your CO?" yelled Sgt. Michael Costanello as he stood outside the bunker door.

A crowd had begun to gather. Costanello and Smith's squad had swarmed the area, demanding information about the disappearance of John Smith the night before. Even the logistical VNA squad who delivered the weekly supplies had joined in on the spectacle. Several men had their hands floating on their holsters, eyeing Rawling and his partner as they reissued their request for backup.

An air raid siren blasted from above. The bunker door opened and instantly the entirety of Bravo 8 filed out in an aggressive stance, shouting over the siren for Costanello's squad to put their hands in the air. It backfired. They instantly drew their weapons too, slowly backing up, some retreating to cover a few yards away. The two squads faced each other, the island wind rough on their faces, the salty air cracking against their lips.

A soldier cut the siren and began to give orders. "I am Captain Rothschild of the Vancouvian Special Forces, and I am giving you a direct order to surrender your weapons immediately."

Costanello raised his pistol towards the captain. "You ain't gonna fire on us, you backwoods bunker dweller." Then turning to his squad, "He ain't firing on no soldiers of Vancouvia."

"Make no mistake, Sergeant. Comply with my directive immediately."

Men on both sides began to hesitate, their bodies rocking back and forth in the wind, their fingers faintly hovering over their triggers.

"Give us John!" shouted a voice from behind Costanello. "Give up John!" chanted another. The men were angry, indignant, reckless. They were trained to never leave a man behind and this was no different.

Rothschild assessed the situation. He knew he could not give that fateful order to fire. He had leverage with John, he had a bunker with numerous supplies, and he had the ability to call for reinforcements. Slowly, silently, he gave orders for his men to retreat back into the bunker. Costanello's men steadily eyed them carefully as they did, until the last soldier scampered into the hole and slammed the door. Costanello charged the door and slammed against it, screaming John's name. "We're coming for you, man, we're coming for you!"

"What now, Sarge?" asked one of his men.

"Get the colonel on the line; we're taking this to the top," said Costanello surprisingly calmly. "And get the tech guys in Mojave to get over here and get this door down. John's not spending another night in that hellhole."

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Postby Vancouvia » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:53 am

Isle 14

Non-surprisingly, both sides had, by this time, called for reinforcements. Bravo 8, deep inside the bunker, was at a supreme disadvantage simply due to the small handful of people who knew about the true nature of the operation. Arguing among themselves on what the prudent thing to do was, Bravo 8 eventually decided upon utilizing those in the dark against those in the dark. They contacted the quick reaction force at Mojave, a three squad platoon whose sole duty was to provide extra assistance in the event of enemy contact on the island. The platoon itself had just as much knowledge as anyone else on what occurred on Isle 14, presumably, officially, weather observation. Yet, when the emergency call came in, the platoon diligently answered, taking off in their helicopters and their patrol boat south.

-

Costanello and John's squad, along with a small VNA logistical detachment, had surrounded the bunker door and called for help as well. Following up the chain of command, they eventually reached their Colonel on the phone, who, when he heard about the situation, was dumbfounded.

"Let me get this straight. Some spook fringe squad kidnapped and is holding hostage one of my men in a bunker on a weather ops island? Am I getting this right, Sergeant?"

"Yes, sir," said Costanello. "They refuse to hand him back to us or go through the normal chain of command. They claim he was trespassing and attacked their men. They pointed their guns at us, Colonel. Held a M4 right in my face like we weren't both Vancouvian. Sir."

"Who is their commanding officer?"

"They claim they don't have one, sir. Some sort of shit about independence. Excuse my language, sir," said Costanello. "Sir, we've already contacted the Mojave QRF. They said they're already on their way."

"I'll speed them up for you men. We'll get our brother out of there, don't you worry."

"Thank you, sir, we appreciate that, sir."

-

Lambda 7, Mu 7, and Nu 7 approached the island, geared for war, their eyes set upon the blue, their hearts set upon the task to come.
Last edited by Vancouvia on Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Vancouvia » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:18 am

At dawn, the 7th platoon touched down upon the dock and was overcome by an eerie silence. Lt. Abraham Woo ordered his men, in force, towards the bunker, while he communicated over the radio that they had arrived. When the squads reached the bunker, they were greeted by cheers from the men, who had the utmost confidence that the QRF was here to help.

"We're under orders from the colonel to resolve this situation peacefully and urgently," began Lt. Woo. "We need you men to return to your posts immediately."

Costanello and his men looked back and forth at each other, but none moved. "Respectfully, sir," said Sgt. Costanello. "Our man is there, and we cannot pretend he is not."

Woo looked frustrated. "You can and you will. No one's asking you to forget. My men WILL resolve this situation but we need you to not interfere with this."

"Fine, come on, men," said the sergeant, as he led his men back towards the main camp.

Out of earshot, Costanello ordered some of his men to stay back within view and monitor the situation. "I want updates every five minutes," he said as he tossed a pair of binoculars at them.

-

Ten minutes later, Costanello received a call over his radio. "Sergeant, did I not give you an order to return your men to their posts?"

"Sir?"

"I've got two Yukon's up there that are showing heat signatures all around my perimeter. I need you to trust me on this and move your men back, Sergeant."

"Sir, with all due respect, I cannot abandon my man."

-

Costanello gathered his men and gave an update. "John is down there. Our John. Our man. And now we have a Lieutenant ordering us off, like we're not supposed to give a shit about this situation because the cavalry are here. I'll be honest, we don't know what their intentions are, what their orders are. One thing is certain, and one thing only, we are John's best hope for getting out of there alive, and if we need to take it into our own hands, then we damn well will."

Cheers from the men could be heard all the way to the bunker, but it could not permeate though its cold steel, and it could not reach down into the abyss where John Smith lay.
Last edited by Vancouvia on Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Ostehaar » Tue Nov 01, 2016 6:28 am

"This one is entirely off the books, mate," the words echoed between his ears, "no title, no name, no origin, and no files."

Wearing civilian clothing and carrying specially forged documents, he had to leave Ostehaar and purchase his rifle on his own somewhere else in the region, before making his way to Vancouvia. He referred to the Oster government only as 'the office' or 'back home', and they referred to him and his partner only by their code-names, 'Magic Marker' and 'Lex Luthor', or simply 'Mark' and 'Lex'. He allowed his native Atnaian accent to take over and adopted some form of a south Argus slang, obscuring his partial Oster descent as much as possible. For all intents and purposes, he and his partner were private individuals, working for unnamed masters. In reality, this team of two reported directly to Alex Vulf, who was orchestrating the operation himself. Another, slightly larger team of operatives was ready in Lovsk - just in case.

On the night before Lt. Woo's arrival with his platoon, Lex navigated a small merchant boat not far away from Isle 14, packed with signal instrumentation and communication devices. Less than half an hour before dawn, Mark dropped into the cold waters of the Argean Sea and snorkeled his way to the beach. Lex remained on the boat, monitoring all movement on the island and above it and keeping complete radio silence.

Mark landed on the island right after the arrival of the Vancouvian platoon. He quickly threw his snorkeling equipment back into the water and darted towards an area of low bushes close to the beach. Further inland the bushes grew taller, and small wooded areas could hide his moves from the watchtower, yet he had to maintain a slow pace and remain cautious. His many years as an officer in the special forces and an OVAST field operative provided sufficient experience for missions like this, and the fact that he was on allied territory made him think of it as an exercise.

An hour into the mission he reached a perfect spot - a little local high-ground surrounded by bushes and overlooking the bunker entrance. He drew out a tiny electrical device and clicked once on it - informing Lex that he had chosen a location. He then detached his silenced sniper rifle from his back and laid on the ground, positioning himself to cover the front of the bunker and the surrounding area.

His orders - to monitor the situation around the bunker from up close, and if necessary, to interfere in favor of the unit defending the bunker from within. "If you see the Vancouvians firing at their own," he was told, "you may fire as well."

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Postby Vancouvia » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:25 am

Stephanie Allibaster rushed into her editor's office with a notebook in hand. "Mike, my source in the VSF, there's been an incident!"

"Slow down, Steph," said Michael Hallbeck, leisurely setting his coffee down. "What kind of incident?"

"My source, he called this morning, told me that his buddy in a quick reaction force in Mojave had been deployed."

"What is noteworthy about this, Steph? The VSF gets deployed and transferred all the time," replied Mike.

"Not this group. 50 some VSF, veterans from the I.D. too, only supposed to go out to protect our southern islands in the event of an imminent threat, he said."

"So where did they go?"

"This place called Isle 14," said Steph as she pulled up a map on her phone. "Military restricted, supposedly uninhabited, but I did some digging and found that there's currently a sizable detachment of soldiers there already."

"Soldiers there for what?"

"I don't know that part yet. But here's the thing, Mike, something big is going on there if the Mojave force left camp."

"So... I'm guessing you want to go there?"

"It's the only way to find out what's happening, Mike."

Mike leaned back in his office chair and stared out his window onto the Vesuvius skyline. "You know if you got caught, that would mean we all go down, right? Our access with the military leadership, our comments from Congress, our reputation even."

"I know, and that's why I won't go on the island itself. I want to hitch a ride on a fishing boat, wait offshore and see if I can see anything. The island's not too big, you know."

"That... I'm fine with. Go see Amber and get a team together."

"Thanks, Mike!" said Stephanie as she rushed out of the room.

"And Steph!" called Mike. "Stay on the boat."

"Yes, sir!"

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