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A Week With the General [closed: attn Bereia]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Fatatatutti
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A Week With the General [closed: attn Bereia]

Postby Fatatatutti » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:52 am

Sunday, 3:10 P.M. Fat City International Airport

A group of touristy-looking people filed out of the main doors and onto a purple bus with the word 'Bus' painted prominently on the side. Nearby, cars which may or may not have been taxis disgorged people onto the sidewalk and absorbed others.

General Marie-Louise Castro-Stalina walked through the terminal with the confidence of an officer and the practicality of an infantryman. Her web gear was festooned with D-rings and carabiners that jingled when she moved. Her regimental badge and her qualification badges were low-contrast so the only touches of colour on her uniform were the maroon of her beret and the blue of her Peacekeeping ribbon, which matched her eyes. Her boots looked like they had never been polished. In fact, they never had.

At thirty-six she was a young general but with eighteen years in the light infantry there were few who knew the backwoods of Fatatatutti better than she did.

Sunday afternoon. The tourists who had remembered to go home had mostly left already. The ones who were arriving were only late because their flights refused to land until the food was gone - at least that was the way AeroFat, the national airline, advertised it.

A Chinese lady was selling African fabrics. A clown was selling balloons. Some of the vendors seemed to be selling to each other.

When the general walked up to the information desk the commissionaire looked down at her and immediately smiled. "Good afternoon, General. Did you have a good weekend?"

"Pretty good, thank you," she smiled back. She didn't mention the sometimes frustrating beating-her-head-against-the-wall with the Council of Generals.

"Are you heading back tonight?"

"Yes. My sergeant is trying to rustle up some transport. I was hoping to get a direct flight to Alpha Charlie but it doesn't look promising."

"There are a lot of tourists in town," the commissionaire observed.

She thought he might have missed her point. "Actually, I'm expecting some people from Bereia. When they come in, could you have them wait here and page me?"

"Sure, I can do that." He reached for a pencil. "Bereia?"

"Yes. I'm not sure where it is. Intelligence sent me a big folder but I haven't gotten around to reading it."

"I think I was there once," the commissionaire said absently as he scribbled something on a pad. "Up north somewhere. Nice place. Lots of cows."

"Could be. Just give me a call when they come in, will you? I'll be around somewhere."

"Right. Met a girl there, I think. Pretty little thing."

The general smiled to herself as she walked away.

A little girl in a Cub Scout uniform waved at her and she waved back. A hawker held out a small packet of white powder and she thought he said, 'Heroin?' so she shook her head.

Without thinking about it she wandered over to one of the big windows that overlooked the tarmac. To the left she could see the military airfield which was much shorter than the commercial runways. She smiled to herself again as she thought of the gasps of tourists watching the big transports hurtling straight toward the mountain, then making a 90-degree turn to the left at the last moment to drop onto the runway. If they could have seen the landings at the Anvil, which was much shorter yet, they would have had heart attacks.

"General?" The voice behind her was the voice of a sergeant, gruff even when he was talking to a general.

"Any luck, Elmo?" she asked, barely turning around. He was more than twice her size and somewhat older but uniformed the same.

"There's nothing going straight home," he said. She was amused and in a way gratified that he thought of the base as home. "Colonel Cho has scooped up everything that will fly for her raid on Long Beach."

"Hoist by our own petard, eh?" The general had scrounged for transport for one operation or another so many times that she couldn't help but appreciate the irony of her own officers co-opting her transport.

"If you say so, General." The sergeant was no Shakespeare afficionado.

"So, are we getting home tonight or not?" She deliberately used his word 'home'.

"Well, there's a flight going up to the Anvil...."

More irony, she said to herself at the prospect of taking visitors up to the most dangerous airfield on the island.

"If we go up there, we can maybe catch another flight that's coming back here and maybe talk them into diverting to Alpha Charlie."

"Maybe?"

"Maybe."

"Who's the pilot? To the Anvil."

"Lieutenant Kiniski."

She nodded thoughtfully. If anybody could get them and the VIPs up to the Anvil alive and avoid an international incident it was Lewis Kiniski. "Okay. Give the Lieutenant my compliments and ask him when he wants to wheels up."

"Done, General. Twenty-one hundred. Sharp."

She knew he meant the 'sharp'. In Fatatatutti even a general didn't stop the clock. "Well, on the bright side, they won't be able to see it in the dark," she muttered.

"With the general's permission," he said as if he hadn't heard her, though she was sure he had, "I have a matter of a personal nature...."

She nodded. "Carry on, Sergeant. I'll be fine."

"Thank you, General."

"Have a good evening."

"Thank you, General. I will."

She was tempted to add, 'Don't be late,' but she didn't. She didn't know much about his personal life and she sensed that he wanted it that way.

She looked out the window again at the sun that was approaching the mountaintops.

Fatatatutians had an international reputation for rudeness, though they themselves would have called it directness. One reason might have been the habit of sending soldiers on diplomatic missions. This was a diplomatic mission but it was also a meeting of soldiers with soldiers. Taking the visitors up to the Anvil might not have been the most auspicious beginning but hopefully the soldiers would understand, maybe even take it as a compliment.

As the sun settled toward the horizon and the clatter of the airport settled into Sunday evening, part of her wished that she had read that folder.
Last edited by Fatatatutti on Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Bereia
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Postby Bereia » Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:18 pm

IC:

Sunday, 3:10 P.M. Fat City International Airport

In the sky above the city, a Boeing 747 was coming in on the last leg of a long flight.

The aircraft approached on a standard path, slowly reducing speed and altitude as the destination drew near, the flight crew working with the practiced ease of years of experience as they brought in the mighty four-engine craft for the latest in a long series of successful landings. They would remain on the tarmac just long enough to debark, refuel, take on a new batch of passengers and an infusion of supplies, and then they would leave. Normally this would be a process of just a few hours. Given where they were, however, this crew were not entirely certain. Some were even looking into seeing some local sporting events if things began to take a while.

In the passenger's compartments of the massive airliner, most of the passengers were about what you would expect. There were businessmen and women here on work-related purposes, the usual bevy of tourists either returning home or here to see the sights, and of course, the people just making one more way-point on a longer journey. Two of them, however, were different.

A young woman and an older man sat next to one another in the first class cabin. Despite the differences in age and gender, they were united by the fact that both wore military uniforms. Unlike a majority of those around them, they were clearly marked as military professionals. Camouflaged field uniforms, black boots shining like glass, and on their shoulders each had a simple beret, his a black tanker's headdress, hers the unmistakable maroon of the Parachute Infantry. Apart from the uniforms, however, the two could not have been more different.

Man-tall, toned and muscular, Second Lieutenant Brianna Schell was young and energetic, with strawberry blonde hair, stunning blue eyes and a brilliant smile beneath the maroon trooper's beret.

Colonel Jonas Meier, on the other hand, was a different picture. Short and stocky, with a thick-built appearance that was healthy for his age and suggested a more powerful build in his young days in the service, he looked every inch the careerist professional. His dark hair, neatly trimmed and graying, bore the immaculate black beret like it was an extension of his scalp. His dark, blue eyes hid behind a pair of glasses. Like all military personnel in Bereia, he was cleanly shaved.

When the plane had landed, both officers waited quietly until most of the passengers had filed out in typically chaotic fashion before standing and making their way to the exit, a calculated action intended to avoid trouble. They had actually discussed it during the last thirty minutes of the flight, Lieutenant Schell jokingly suggesting she fashion a parachute from the airline blankets used by napping passengers and they could jump instead. Colonel Meier had laughed that off, pointing out his lack of jump certification.

Finally making their way out of the plane and into the terminal, they moved steadily and purposefully to baggage claim and grabbed the sturdy Army-issue bags they had brought along before they headed to customs. Neither of the officers had seen any sign of their assigned contact yet, but they kept their eyes open.
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The population of Bereia is presently capped at three hundred and fifty million people. That's enough for now.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give,
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
Or Holy People’s Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!

-- Rudyard Kipling, MacDonough's Song, 1917.

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Postby Fatatatutti » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:06 am

The general had met a group of young soldiers on their way back to their unit. Unlike her they didn't have a group of VIPs in their wake which made their transport priority even lower. They wouldn't touch down until the wee wee hours so they were willing enough to do a favour for a general.

She left them in a dogpile on the floor, confident that the luggage would be in good hands.

When she heard her name on the loudspeaker she turned automatically toward the information desk. Approaching Sunday evening was as quiet as it ever got at the airport so there wasn't much to slow her down.

As she approached she noticed the two uniformed officers standing slightly to one side and she wondered if the beret colours meant what she thought they meant. She noticed that they already had their luggage so there would be some confusion among the people she had sent for it but confusion is good training for soldiers.

She didn't trust her first impressions so she would leave her assessment of the visitors until she had more information.

"I see you found my guests," she said to the commissionaire. "Thanks again."

She stepped over to where the Bereians were standing, her hand outstretched. "Colonel, Lieutenant," she pronounced it 'leff-tenant', "I hope I got your ranks correct. I'm General Castro-Stalina. You can call me Marie-Louise if you like. Welcome to Fatatatutti. I think we have an interesting week planned for you"
Last edited by Fatatatutti on Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Bereia
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Postby Bereia » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:02 pm

IC:

Lieutenant Schell spotted the local contact first, and quickly turned to inform Colonel Meier, so he wouldn't be caught flat-footed. Both officers turned and let the bags drop to a rest next to them upon the terminal floor, freeing them up to greet General Castro-Stalina as she approached, but also leaving the bags where they could be observed. This was not out of any distrust of the people locally, merely a security precaution against the all-too-common practice of baggage theft in airport terminals around the world.

The local habit of "borrowing" items left unattended was simply not a factor, of course. Cough, cough.

Both officers snapped off a quick salute, but dropped it without expecting one in return. They had been briefed that the locals were a bit informal. They each shook the General's hand in turn, with Meier going first, as dictated by seniority.

"Good afternoon then, Marie-Louise," he said, with only a slight hesitation as he had to fight the urge to use her rank, as the protocol he had been trained to demanded. More than twenty years in uniform has a tendency to breed habits.

"I am Colonel Jonas Meier," he continued briskly. "This is Second Lieutenant Brianna Schell. The outline we were shown certainly seems interesting, so hopefully we can have a productive week."

"Afternoon, General," Lieutenant Schell said, gripping the smaller woman's hand briefly but firmly. She was obviously not quite willing to be first name informal yet, which was understandable with how large a rank gap existed between them.

"Looking forward to an exciting week," she said as she released her grip. She might have seemed a bit tense, but she was making an obviously real effort to be friendly.
Man exists for his own sake, and not to add a laborer to the State.

Look below for some views of mine and interesting ideas.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Why Capitalism Works.

Classical Liberal (Libertarian) | Austrian Economics | Baptist Christian | American Citizen

There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order. Thank you.

The population of Bereia is presently capped at three hundred and fifty million people. That's enough for now.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give,
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
Or Holy People’s Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!

-- Rudyard Kipling, MacDonough's Song, 1917.

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Fatatatutti
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Postby Fatatatutti » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:31 am

General Castro-Stalina smiled. "Well, we've got a couple of hours. I don't know if you've eaten. I haven't. There's a pretty good restaurant over here. We can get a bite or just a drink. After tonight it's army food for the rest of the week. We like to think our army is the best-fed in the world but I'll let you make up your own minds about that."

A Chinese dragon was winding its way among the groups of people, accompanied by firecrackers and gongs.

"My aide is off on his own somewhere. He doesn't get much time to himself, babysitting me twenty-four seven. Otherwise, I'd get him to wrangle your luggage. He has mine somewhere. They'll keep an eye on it here if you like."

She began to ease them toward the restaurant without waiting for a response. "I should warn you ahead of time, there is no consideration of gender in the Fatatatutian Army. Everything is unisex, including sleeping accomodations and showers, but you'll find that Fatatatutians are pretty good at respecting other people's privacy. They'll notice you but they won't mention it.

"Since you're guests we can make a few compromises if you're shy.

"I should also warn you, our flight tonight has a couple of hairy spots but it shouldn't be any problem. I don't know if you can sleep on airplanes. My mother used to say I could sleep hanging on a clothesline so if we crash I probably won't even notice." She realized too late that that might not have been a diplomatic thing to say.

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Bereia
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Postby Bereia » Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:56 pm

IC:

Colonel Meier smiled briefly and cast a glance to Lt. Schell, who took this as a cue to respond.

"Army food can't be any worse than airline food," she said with a grin. "I ate a little on the way out here, but it wasn't much to write home about, and the Colonel didn't eat a bite unless you count little bags of salted nuts as food, which I don't."

"You sound like my wife, Lieutenant," the Colonel said conversationally.

"That's because you're married to a sane woman, Sir." The reply sounded fairly easy, but it was still obvious Schell was not accustomed to conversing with those of much higher rank. Meier laughed in any case, and turned his attention back to the General.

"You lead, we'll follow," he said. "You know this place much better than either of us."

The pair followed along with the General as she walked, each one carrying their one bag along as they went. At the mention of shyness, Schell giggled briefly, then, blushing, she managed a reply.

"I'm a Paratrooper, ma'am," she said. "Besides which, the Army isn't that big on reclusive types. Back in Basic, just about everything you did, you did with other people, or at least out in the open, usually where others could see it. Communal barracks, bathrooms, eating, exercises, you name it. I hardly had a moment to myself for weeks. It wasn't all unisex, but you just learned to deal with being seen by people you didn't know. It was the same at Jump School."

"I've been an Army man for years, Marie-Louise," Colonel Meier cut in calmly. "I'm sure I'll manage. Though," he added with a laugh. "At my age, I'm almost more worried about mentally scarring a mind or two among your own young soldiers! I'm not as young as I used to be."

Lieutenant Schell was still following along, but was presently engaged in watching the Chinese dragon figure weaving through the crowds.

"I wouldn't worry too much about the flight, either," Meier continued. "From what she tells me, Lieutenant Schell can fashion a parachute from blankets, so even if we crash, she'll keep us alive."

Lieutenant Schell suddenly become much more interested in the Chinese dragon.
Man exists for his own sake, and not to add a laborer to the State.

Look below for some views of mine and interesting ideas.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Why Capitalism Works.

Classical Liberal (Libertarian) | Austrian Economics | Baptist Christian | American Citizen

There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order. Thank you.

The population of Bereia is presently capped at three hundred and fifty million people. That's enough for now.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give,
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
Or Holy People’s Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!

-- Rudyard Kipling, MacDonough's Song, 1917.

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Fatatatutti
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Founded: Jun 02, 2006
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Fatatatutti » Sun Sep 22, 2013 12:22 pm

Marie-Louise smiled. She had had difficult encounters with foreigners before but it didn't seem like there would be any reason to dread the coming week. She had met a lot of puffed-up officers too but these two seemed down-to-earth enough that they might even enjoy their time in Fatatatutti. Somebody in Bereia had done his homework.

The restaurant was fairly dark and she led them to a corner table. "Catchee tree whiskey," she said to the approaching waiter, holding up three fingers.

"If you speak Pidgin, they know you're not a tourist," she smiled as she sat down. It was pretty likely that she would be recognized as Fatatatutti's most popular soldier but she was humble about it.

"Whiskey is a generic term in Pidgin for any alcoholic beverage. It'll be rum. Some people say it tastes like gasoline but you get used to it." She had never met a soldier who didn't drink but if they didn't she could probably manage three by herself. "If you order Scotch you'll get some local concoction flavoured with God-only-knows-what. You can get the real stuff but it's expensive."

The waiter returned promptly with three rather large glasses.

"Catchee ole timey allsame muddah makee," she said to the waiter. "That's a traditional Fatatatutian meal," she told her guests, "barbecued ribs, fresh fruits and vegetables, two kinds of poi. Sometimes they throw in some adopted traditions like perogies or lasagna. There's plenty for everybody but feel free to order anything else you want. It's on the Brigade Fund."

"I've jumped out of an aircraft or two myself," she said to Lieutenant Schell, not even thinking about the parachute badge on her shirt or the matching tattoo on her forearm. "Now they have me dangling from helicopters. And I don't like heights."

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Postby Bereia » Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:31 pm

IC:

Meier and Schell followed along quietly into the restaurant, casually looking around the dimly lit eatery as they went. As they passed the door, the officers reached up, seemingly almost reflexively, removing the berets they were wearing and securing them on their shoulder epaulets. Schell exchanged a smile and a nod with the waiter as he passed before making sure her seniors were seated, lightly settling into one of the remaining chairs as soon as they were.

"Rum works for me," Meier replied easily. "I've done some drinking in my time, and I didn't always know for sure what it was."

"Does the Pidgin dialect have any foreign influences?" Schell asked curiously as she adjusted her posture. "Any of the usual colonial ones, I mean. English, Dutch, Spanish, that kind of thing."

Meier, meanwhile, listened when Marie-Louise described the apparently traditional local meal she had just ordered.

"Ribs with the vegetables and so on I'm familiar with," he said. "Never had poi before though. That should be interesting."

"I'd read you were in Air Assault these days, ma'am," Schell replied, her tone still not quite rid of that subordinate's formality. "They form something of a rapid reaction unit in this country, right? First to fight, that kind of thing? We have our own Air Assault troops back home. They're seen as...well, I guess you could call them and Airborne close cousins."
Man exists for his own sake, and not to add a laborer to the State.

Look below for some views of mine and interesting ideas.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Why Capitalism Works.

Classical Liberal (Libertarian) | Austrian Economics | Baptist Christian | American Citizen

There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order. Thank you.

The population of Bereia is presently capped at three hundred and fifty million people. That's enough for now.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give,
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
Or Holy People’s Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!

-- Rudyard Kipling, MacDonough's Song, 1917.

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Fatatatutti
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Founded: Jun 02, 2006
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Postby Fatatatutti » Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:25 pm

Marie-Louise made a conscious effort to remember the questions in order. If her guests had a pecking order, she wasn't going to interfere with it if she could help it.

"The local Pidgin is influenced mostly by English, as far as I know," she said to Lieutenant Schell. "The Dutch and Spanish spheres were mostly farther west in the Pacific, the Phiippines and the Indies. Only the British got out here to the middle of nowhere." She smiled. "Captain Baker covered just about the whole Pacific. Then later on there were the American whalers.

"Nowadays, though, I don't know how authentic the Pidgin is. It seems to be mostly used by teenagers and people in the tourist industry."

She turned to Major Meier. "There are two kinds of poi, both made from the root of the taro plant, which is native to the island. The plain kind is used like other cultures use mashed potatoes. Some of our MREs include them so maybe you'll get a chance to try the freeze-dried version. The other kind is a dessert poi which contains mashed fruit and sometimes sugar, sometimes rum. Some people even make it without taro root but then it shouldn't technically be called poi."

She turned to Lieutenant Schell again. "I suppose they put me in air assault because of my background in parachuting. The helicopters can get in to places where there are no good drop zones, by abseiling or fast-roping. And helicopters can get you out too, which can be important.

"We've recently re-organized and standardized our air assualt forces." She stopped short of taking the credit herself, though it had been mostly her responsibility. "Our Army is based on the regimental system so there's a considerable amount of independence at the regimental level. We had a number of heliborne regiments, each with its own ideas, so we thought it was important to standardize them so they could be used as a cohesive unit when and if the time comes.

"I don't know if we'll be able to go on an actual raid this week but we will be doing some helicopter time." She had a surprise in store for them but she decided to keep it a surprise.

"It looks like we'll be getting in pretty late tonight. Our brigade headquarters may be spartan by your standards but it's actually pretty luxurious by ours. It's attached to the Air Cavalry School and we want our trainees to be spending their time at air assault, not housekeeping. There are beds." She smiled again. "I spent most of my time in the walking infantry sleeping in foxholes."

The food came and as the dishes were spread out on the table she said, "We usually all eat out of the same dish but there are individual plates if you prefer."
Last edited by Fatatatutti on Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Bereia
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Postby Bereia » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:38 am

Lt. Schell grinned at the mention of the island nation being "in the middle of nowhere," and British colonization.

"That could have ended badly for you," she said. "British colonialism was pretty vicious at times. You seem to have come out nicely though, which is always nice to see when you're looking historically at an empire responsible for multiple attempted genocides, mass murder, slavery, and all of the rest of it too. This man Captain Baker, was he Royal Navy?"

"The tarot plant?" Colonel Meier asked. "I think I've actually heard of that somewhere. It's used somewhat extensively in Africa, as I recall."

"True enough," Schell said in response to the commentary on air assault troops. "The main advantage an Airborne unit has is range. As we lift via airplanes which outstrip even the best helicopters in range, we can cover more ground quickly. The downside is we can't drop with as much heavy equipment. We carry some, but it all has to be man-portable or carried by light vehicles. Anything to bulk us up beyond that has to be dropped separately. Then there's the old rule of thumb that says Airborne should expect forty-eight hours alone after a drop before reinforcements arrive."

She paused at that, and then grinned again.

"What am I saying?" she asked rhetorically with a short laugh. "You probably already knew all of that!"

As the food arrived, both officers quietly made sure to thank the person who brought it.

"I've eaten mush I couldn't put a name to out of brown plastic bags, ma'am," Schell said. "I don't mind sharing."

"How are those modern field rations supposed to be better than what we had when I enlisted, again?" Meier asked innocently, getting a snort from the lieutenant.
Man exists for his own sake, and not to add a laborer to the State.

Look below for some views of mine and interesting ideas.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Why Capitalism Works.

Classical Liberal (Libertarian) | Austrian Economics | Baptist Christian | American Citizen

There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order. Thank you.

The population of Bereia is presently capped at three hundred and fifty million people. That's enough for now.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give,
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
Or Holy People’s Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!

-- Rudyard Kipling, MacDonough's Song, 1917.

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Fatatatutti
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Posts: 10898
Founded: Jun 02, 2006
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Fatatatutti » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:31 am

The General nodded while Lieutenant Schell was talking about colonialism. "In our history books, Captain Baker explored most of the Pacific. I guess the rest of the world can be forgiven for not knowing everything about what interests us. After all, I don't know much about the exploration of North America either." She hoped she was right about Bereia being in North America.

She turned to Colonel Meyer. "As far as I know, the Polynesians were supposed to have come from Asia and they may have reached as far east as America but I don't know if they originally came from Africa. Most of our plants that are not indigenous come from Asia.

Not wanting to neglect the Colonel, she hesitated to turn back to the Lieutenant. "I've been trying to get some long-range transport for my brigade," she said to both of them, "so we can haul troops and helicopters all over the island. But we're not a rich nation so we have a chronic transport shortage.

"Our Air Cavalry is technically a light infantry force, so we don't carry that much heavy equipment either. We have the traditional cavalry role of reconnaisance and skirmishing. We're more likely to sneak up on the enemy's flanks than to assault him head-on. Helicopters are pretty vulnerable for that.

"Colonel, I'm afraid there's going to be a slight adjustment in the itinerary we sent you. The PanzerRegiment is farther inland than we expected so it's going to take two legs to get to them. We're going to fly up to visit one of my regiments on Tuesday instead and then continue on to the PanzerRegiment on Wednesday." She didn't mention that they still hadn't located the Air Cavalry School so Thursday was still uncertain.

Outside, the tropical night had fallen with a thud. Unlike many large cities, there were only bright lights in a few areas and the rest of the sprawling city only had a sprinkling of lights. But none of that was visible inside the terminal building. The legendary 'Fatatatutti time' - or lack of time - was in effect.

Sergeant Morrison loomed up beside the General. For a big man he could move very quietly. "Beggin' the General's pardon but it's wheels up in twenty," he said in his gruff sergeant's voice.

The General nodded. "Usually we don't let anybody leave until the food is gone," she smiled at her guests. They had eaten enough for a small army. "But if we miss our flight... well, it gets busier through the week."

The Sergeant had wrangled a jeep to take them across to the military runway to where the C-130 Hercules was sitting in all its battered gray glory with no lights on. Many military pilots flew without running lights on the theory that 'they can see us on radar, can't they?'

Luckily, the aircraft was fitted for paratroops so they had the luxury of sling seats. Fatatatutti's C-130s had been modernized with new electronics so that they carried an aircrew of two instead of four; the General was often invited to ride in the spare seat where the flight engineer used to sit but she wasn't eager to watch the dramatic take-off from the cockpit. Besides, it would have been rude to leave her guests.

It also occurred to her that it might be considered rude to go to sleep but that didn't stop her from doing so.



She opened her eyes with the sensation of lying on her back with tons of cargo hanging over her. Although not fully awake, she realized that it was the steep bank that would drop them, if all went well, onto the tiny runway at the Anvil.

'Hard as an anvil and almost as big' was how the engineers that had built it described the narrow ridge between two mountaintops. As they stepped out of the doorway they were greeted by an intense blackness. The only sensation of light was on the far side of the aircraft from a single line of landing lights. The General was sure her guests would understand why the Fatatatutian Army seldom moves at night.

"Tell your guests to stick close," a voice said. "They can't see edge."

'Neither can I,' the General said to herself, though she knew it was an almost sheer drop of a hundred meters. "This way," she said to the Colonel and Lieutenant, whom she couldn't see. "They have to taxi forward right up to the cliff face to give our aircraft room to take off."

"Welcome to Bravo Echo Delta," the voice said. For security reasons, Fatatatutian bases were designated by three-letter codes, though this one was always colloquially known as 'The Anvil'. The irony of BED didn't escape the General as she yawned in the cold night air.


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