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Stories From Cassadia [CASSADIA ONLY](CLOSED)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Stories From Cassadia [CASSADIA ONLY](CLOSED)

Postby Qassadia » Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:43 pm

Tales From The Land Of Butchers And Holy Men


RELEVANT NOTE


This thread is made for presenting stories from the country of the Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia. With the intention of introducing and fleshing out characters of the nation of Cassadia, that shall prove important in future RP centered around both my nation or other ones, with whom I choose to Role-Play. Whether it is centered around political intrigues, politicking, warfare or the conveyance of stories presenting both the joys, misery and quality of life of regular Cassadians, though it more likely for plots centered around the military, government officials or the Royal Family to have preferential treatment when it comes to producing stories around this social stratum of the Cassadian Society.

I would also like to state that the stories won't be made into consistent order, with the exception to those RP posts that are related to previous ones or are divided into several parts because of the word size limit. Furthermore, a possible WARNING that this thread could also have implied mature themes.

NS players who post in this thread without my permission shall be unceremoniously going to be quickly referred to the mods and thus have their posts REMOVED.
Last edited by Qassadia on Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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If Everyone Cared

Postby Qassadia » Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:11 pm

Image


"Your Highness, do please tell where are we going?" asked a raven-haired male dressed in a sharp black two-piece suit, on his coat, a badge hanging from his breast pocket, which had the Fire Phoenix, and a crimson red ring going around the coat of arms itself, below is inscribed the words in golden letters "Королевска Касадскай Гвардия".

Royal Cassadian Guard.

The young woman turned to look at the man whom she brought so enthusiastically into the woods, her deep blue eyes gleaming in the light of the full moon.

"Heero, you've asked me this over a hundred times already. It's somewhere special to me, and you won't be told why until we get there."

Heero sighed. He and Relena had been walking in this dark forest for nearly half an hour. He was surprised that Relena hadn't stopped walking.

Relena stopped suddenly, causing Heero to run into her.

He glared at the back of her skull. "Pardon me Your Highness, but do tell me when you're about to stop. I'd rather not be bumping into you every five minutes."

The blue-eyed young woman said nothing, but she pulled back some braches and gestured for Heero to go through. He eyed her and the area in front of them suspiciously, before making his way through the brush. He was surprised when he saw what Relena had wanted to show him.

They were now in a large clearing in the middle of the forest. You could look up and see the full moon and all the stars perfectly. The grass was long, thick, and dark green.

He whispered to himself, "Beautiful…"

Relena came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. "Me and my siblings with mom, used to frequent this spot, back when we were little. My mother used to take us here every time when she wanted to take our studies outdoors among nature. If it was not our studies, then she would find a way to bring us out here to spend time outdoors, to gaze at the stars....."Relena sighed miserably when mentioning it, nostalgia filling her voice." I miss her so much, it was a time when most of us were young and innocent and had not been stained by court politics or me having to run the country and having to take, before now and in the future decisions that can be at times, morally bankrupt, especially when it comes to foreign affairs"

Heero blinked but said nothing. He glanced up at the sky. "Don't pity yourself, Your Highness. How about we just watch the stars for now. Excuse me, if I assume that it has been a while since you've seen them so clearly like this."

She nodded in agreement. "As you wish, my loving Knight."

They both sat down in the grass next to each other and watched the sky.

"From underneath the trees,
We watch the sky,"


Relena saw a ray of light beam across the sky and pointed. "Look, a shooting star. I've only seen one once."

Heero said bluntly, "That's a satellite."

"Confusing stars for satellites,"


Relena looked at him and sighed. She thought back to the day she had met this raven-haired boy, at that graduation ceremony of Cassadian Royal Guard cadets, the dark-haired man being one among them. If she were told back then that they would be watching stars like this, she'd simply laugh. Now, Relena was glad she was here with him.

"I never dreamed,
That you'd be mine,
But here we are,
We're here tonight,"


Heero looked at Relena. She was the daughter, of Lady Marianne. A woman with a notorious reputation, partly due to the lack of royal or blue blood not coursing through her veins, and another being her penchant for picking fights in court with ladies of the aristocracy...

"Singing Amen I,
I'm alive,
(I'm alive),
Singing Amen I,
I'm alive,"


Relena grabbed Heero's hand without thinking about it. She stared at him, her expression, in the same way, the stars were illuminating the night sky—to which Relena looked up into the night sky.

"I'll miss my sisters and baby brother so much, now that he has married off as well, Heero. In two months he'll be married off to Maxim's daughter, Klara. She seemed like a good, proper girl, and well-mannered court-lady, but..." Relena stated worryingly to her knight, distraught.

"You sound very distressed about this, Your Highness."

"I AM! What if they won't love each other. I've been so preoccupied with running a state and building up the Common Treaty Organisation with Ejorike, Great Hesja Empire. Especially now, that Jajal has also decided to join, there are details to this that still need to be fleshed out." The Empress exclaimed in frustration as she explained to Heero her predicament.

"As you can see, I haven't had the opportunity to spend a lot of time getting to know the future significant other of my baby-brother," Relena added.

"In any case Your Highness, you've made the right decision. And you have even managed to get good suitor, out of this whole business." Heero said, trying to sooth his Empress off her worries.

"I pray you are right Heero, my lovely knight...You know, I am glad I have you in my life."Relena shyly muttered, her cheeks slightly reddening prompting a similar reaction from Heero.

If everyone cared
And nobody cried,
If everyone loved,
And nobody lied,
If everyone shared,
And swallowed their pride,
Then we'd see the day,
When nobody died,"


Heero smiled albeit with slightly reddened cheeks also, a rare occurrence for a man of such a cold character. "I.I... am also glad,....that I have you, Your Highness."He stuttered something which made Relena to laugh about, in a warm way.

"Heero do not address me as "Your Highness", right now I am just Relena."

"And I'm singing,
A,
Amen I,
Amen I,
I'm alive,
Amen I,
Amen I,
Amen I,
I'm alive,"


Relena looked away from him, jumping slightly when something small, bright, and yellow flashed in her face. Heero began to laugh as Relena asked him what it was.

Heero looked at her, confused. "They're fireflies. See?"

He gestured out to the entire clearing and Relena saw many more bright yellow lights flashing in the night.

"And in the air,
The fireflies,
Our only light,
In paradise,"


Relena closed her eyes. "I don't understand why you seek death so persistently.

He shook his head. "As your knight, it is required to sacrifice lay down my life for you, without hesitation, if the situation requires of me so. In order to protect you."

"But that is, wrong" Relena moaned in disagreement.

"We'll show the world,
That they were wrong,
And teach them all,
To sing along,"


Heero chuckled. "No, it is not wrong. I am just doing what I signed up for."

He looked at her, a slight bit of sadness filling her eyes.

He looked worriedly and her and asked, "Why are you so concerned about my wellbeing, all of a sudden."

Relena looked away quickly, her long brown fair hair following her head's movement like ribbons. "I just like you better alive, that's all."

"Singing Amen I,
I'm alive,
(I'm alive),
Singing Amen I,
I'm alive,"


Heero stared at her, waiting for the punch line. Did Relena really care now whether or not he lived or died? Impossible. She was an Empress, and he was just a simple bodyguard.

She let go of his hand and stood up. Relena made her way to the center of the clearing. She looked up at the moon and wondered again on the matter whether Rolo and his future wife-to-be would care for each other. Political marriages were not at their core agreed upon to be out of love, but of gain and people in these partnerships often had dynamics that were wholly different from what the marriage of a regular commoner was. With, the husband and wife being more of friends in the best of ones, rather than it resembling the purpose of what the sacrament of this life-long partnership was originally designed for by the creator.

Relena knew this from many of her friends, including her lady-in-waiting, Duchess Dorothy de la Catalonia. With the impression that Relena got from Dorothy's parents having they their matrimonial union resemble more to that of ''friends with benefits'' as they called. She knew the stories and hoped that at least Rolo and Klara would care and look out for each other.

"If everyone cared,
And nobody cried,
If everyone loved,
And nobody lied,
If everyone shared,
And swallowed their pride,
Then we'd see the day,
When nobody died,"


Heero stood behind her and wrapped his arms around the girl's shoulders. He said, "Relena, are you worried that I will die, you know that's my duty as someone tasked with protecting you, right?."

Relena shook her head. "No. As a Royal Guard, it is your duty to obey your Empress, and I as an Empress order you that your duty to me is not to die."

He smirked. "Wrong."

She held her head high. "Say what you will, but we both know that your wish is to be loved."

Heero shook his head in disapproval with his Empress's answer. "I don't know where on Earth you were given that idea, but I wish to die."

"No. You've been an orphan yes? Someone who never had a chance to experience the love of a father and mother."

"Yes. But, what does this have to do with me?." Heero answered, bewildered by her statement

Relena turned to face Heero, her eyes meeting his as she leaned forward to whisper something in his ear to which Heero gasped. He looked at her, only for his lips to meet hers.

She seemed about as shocked as he did, but she leaned into the kiss anyway. Relena's mind flashed back to the last times they had kissed. Once when Relena thought that she might drown on Baikal Island and a second time to restore. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck. His lean, muscular arms wrapped themselves around her waist and they stayed like that, the outside world completely vanishing from around them.

"If everyone cared,
And nobody cried,
If everyone loved,
And nobody lied,
If everyone shared,
And swallowed their pride,
Then we'd see the day,
When nobody died,
When nobody died,"


After what seemed like forever, but was really two minutes, they broke apart Heero stared at Relena, blue eyes wide.

"I love you…" Relena whispered.

Heero gasped, wondering if she was just saying that or not. He looked deeply into her eyes, seeing that her emotions were clearly true.

He gave Relena a small smile before telling her, "I know. I love you too…"

Relena smiled at him, holding her hands in his soft, yet firm, grip. She took her hands away from his and lay down on her back on the ground. He lay down next to her, only on his left side, so he was facing her.

They both stared up at the sky. Relena said, "Thinking about it, I actually lead a very small existence."

Heero chuckled. "The Diplomat Empress, who is on a quest to make Cassadia the regional hegemon, thinks her existence is small? How odd…"

"And as we lie,
Beneath the stars,
We realize,
How small we are,"


Heero turned onto his right side, facing her. He wrapped his arms around the back of her head and her waist. He pulled her to him, resting his forehead on the top of her head. Her face was buried in his chest. She cuddled up to him, finding comfort in his touch as she embraced him back.

"If they could love,
Like you and me,
Imagine what,
The world could be,"


They both lay like that for the longest time. "When did you start loving me?" Relena asked him.

Heero shrugged. "I'm not sure. I think…It was after I realized how empty my life had been when I did not have you in my life."

"When was that?"

"A couple of minutes ago."

She chuckled. "As smart as ever, my loving knight."

He smiled, burying his face in her hair, which smelled of roses. "As witty as ever, Your Highness."

"If everyone cared,
And nobody cried,
If everyone loved,
And nobody lied,
If everyone shared,
And swallowed their pride,
Then we'd see the day,
When nobody died,"


She hugged him, smiling, and said, "Of course. After all, who can refuse the advances of a beautiful Empress like me."

"If everyone cared,
And nobody cried,
If everyone loved,
And nobody lied,
If everyone shared,
And swallowed their pride,
Then we'd see the day,
When nobody died,"


Relena closed her eyes, clutching him to her tighter. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

"We'd see the day,
We'd see the day,
When nobody died,
We'd see the day,
We'd see the day,
When nobody died,
We'd see the day,
When nobody died…"
Last edited by Qassadia on Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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A Dream For Endymion

Postby Qassadia » Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:07 am

Image


She thinks there is nothing better than moonlight. It takes away too vivid scars and gives shadows instead, hidden places filled with secrets and a gentle covering of sweet silver to wash away the daytime. It dusts his hair with star sprinkles and makes his skin glow pale and smooth, cool beneath the touch of her slender fingers. It fills the valleys of their rumpled sheets and paints the crests with shine, bringing illusions of faraway landscapes. She can barely feel herself, sometimes, in the moonlight, as if she has become Selene dancing among moon craters whilst dreaming of a man dreaming of her.

She thinks there is nothing better than watching him sleep, his face turned towards her, dark hair falling over the bridge of his nose and obscuring his eyes. He is gentle in repose, one arm curved over her stomach like a wayward thought, the ends of his fingers tangled in a fall of muted sunshine. She wonders what he sees at night if he's himself or someone else. She knows, though, that the night is his most precious time, a moment in the stillness that he captures with her, to be put in a glass jar like a handful of fireflies. The day was for war and hate and soldiers, but the twilight lay in the circle of her arms, a respite for the heart.

She thinks that one day there will be no more comings and goings, breezing in and out of each other lives like whispers, flicking drops of hope, and determination towards each other as they pass. She wishes for a time when she won't have to stare at the sky and imagine him when he could stand with her and count the constellations and know he no longer had to fly among them. She wants to show him how the world could be, should be. She wants to fashion that world and paint it, spinning it on its axis like an ornament.

She thinks it's very difficult to be in love with Heero Yuri.

She supposes it's not much easier to be in love with her. He has not said the words but she can feel it in his touch, the way he comes to her of an evening, the smoldering depths of his cobalt eyes as he looks at her. There is a weary gentleness in his hands, in the same fingers that grip guns and end lives. She doesn't know how he does it but he sometimes gazes at her as if she were something new, bright, untarnished in a smudged galaxy. She would never tell him that she was not so innocent, not so shining. Inside her soul, she feels the weight of a broken kingdom and shattered ideals hides them so he won't cut himself on the edges of her heart. He has seen enough blood, most especially his own.

She thinks there is nothing better than dreaming. Dreams keep her afloat when everything else threatens to pull her under. She hopes she is his dream, holding his head above the water, keeping him from the depths. It's silly to crave that, but she does. She needs to be needed by him. Without it, there was only loneliness and empty nights and cracked ethics. He is her heartbeat.

She smiles in the dark at the irony. A bringer of death is her pull of life. A man raised to kill, to smite all enemies no matter who was the one man who could bring peace to her. Did he know it? She doesn't think so. He doesn't think of things in those terms. The arena of words belongs to her and so she makes of them what she wants, twirling them about whimsically until some hidden truth comes unraveled. She does it for all those who depend on her, who look to her, but most of all, she does it for him.

There is a smoky remembrance of hazy images when he opens his eyes, the only moment when she is sure that he is himself, the other-self, the one before all the training and ruined battlefields. Then, in an instant, the blue irises clear and he stills, sleep and dreams gone and only cold reality left. She smiles at him, the barest of expressions, and doesn't touch him. His mind is still waking and there are other things in his memory beside her.

"It's not morning yet," she tells him, knowing he already knows it but needing to remind him anyway. The sunrise brings absence and she wards it away with denial. He doesn't mind.

"You're not sleeping," he remarks, his voice so low it's more a sensation than a sound. Her bones tingle with the vibrations.

Finally, she touches him, stroking a line down his jaw. "You're here," she says in answer, widening her smile. There's so little time and she won't share him, even with dreams. "And I don't want to miss it," she continues, watching a flicker of a question dance its way across his face. No one else but her would have noticed.

"Miss what?"

"Anything."

And she kisses him, gently, tempting him from the paradise of oblivion to another heaven altogether. He follows her and the night turns from cool to hot, the stars spinning dizzily overhead as the moon goddess closes her eyes. For this moment, there is no dawn or dusk, just a brief interlude of passing comets giving into gravity.

When the world lies quietly again, she moves tumbled locks away from his face softly, her gaze on the ceiling, knowing he has already left her. He's somewhere in the blank dreamscape of the exhausted and she's happy about it. Nightmares do not come to those who have no energy to fear them. He will sleep soundly.

A hand tightens on hers and her eyes widen in surprise. "I thought you were asleep."

"I came back for you."

And this time it is she who follows, trusting him, fingers intertwined. He leads her through painted stories and temporary Edens and shows her the pathway through a clutter of useless thoughts. She leaves iridescent footprints on colorful imaginings and laughs because he can smile there.

Maybe one day they won't need their nighttimes. Maybe one day they'll have daytimes together and regret only the shortness of hours in the light.

Relena's beginning to think that dream is not so impossible after all.

Fin
Last edited by Qassadia on Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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Goodnight Relena

Postby Qassadia » Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:41 am

Image


The innocent eyes of Princess Relena flew open and she jumped up in bed. She looked around the large room and realized she was perfectly safe in her own bed, in her own room, in the palace where she lived.

"It was just a dream." She told herself as she saw a sudden flash of light and heard a loud boom of thunder follow it. Relena grabbed her fire phoenix plushie and was out of her bed, running down the hall to the room of her parents before she could even hear the sound of the rain beating against the roof and walls of the palace.

"Mama-Papa..?" Relena whimpered softly. The door was locked her parents were obviously asleep. Relena slumped down in front of the door, holding her fire phoenix close and hugged her knees. She started crying softly. When she heard footsteps approaching fast she looked up and wiped her eyes.

"Relena! There you are!" Cornelia cried out as she ran over next to her. The older sister kneeled down beside her so that they were at eye-level with each other. "When I heard the thunder I figured I should go check on you but you weren't in your room so I got worried."

"Corny!" She threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. "I had a bad dream and then I…I woke up and heard the thunder. So I-I ran here but Mama and Papa's door is locked."

Princess Cornelia, rebellious, but nevertheless the spitting image of her mother..their mother, Empress Marriane. Cornelia hugged her back and helped her stand up. "Let's get back to bed, Relena." Cornelia, Relena's older and oldest sister took her hand and began to lead her back to her room.

"What about Euphie?"

"Euphie's a heavy sleeper." Cornelia reminded her, smiling softly. "Besides, she's not afraid of thunder like you are. Now let's go."

Little Relena followed her silently, but every time the thunder rumbled she would jump and hold onto Cornelia's hand tighter. In return, Relena's older sister would tighten her grip lightly on her little sister's hand, reassuring her that everything was okay. They stopped at the door of her room.

"Here we are, Relena. And I'm just down the hall, remember?"

Princess Relena nodded slightly and the thunder clapped again. Suddenly Cornelia found herself holding the honey-haired princess in her arms again. Cornelia whispered softly to her, "Shh, it's alright.."

"Oh, Corny, please…stay with me..just for tonight. I'm too frightened to sleep alone."

Cornelia sighed. "Well…I guess if it's just tonight…"

Relena's eyes brightened and she smiled at her big sister. " Oh, thank you, Corny!"

She couldn't help but smile at her as she opened the door and for Relena to lead her inside the room.

A few hours later Marrianne woke up to the sound of thunder. She sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes sleepily. "A thunderstorm?" Then she suddenly remembered: Relena's afraid of thunder. She got out of bed and rushed to the room of her third daughter. When she got there she was surprised to see Cornelia holding the sleeping princess in her arms. She seemed just as surprised to see her as she was to see her.

"She just went back to sleep. Relena's been up almost all night," Cornelia told her mother. Marrianne didn't reply but just stood there staring at her. "She went to your room but your door was locked so I brought her here and she asked me to stay."

"I see…" Marrianne straightened her posture. "Thank you for finding her, Cornelia."

Marrianne smiled slightly at her and nodded while yawning. Cornelia smiled back and then smiled at her little sister. "Goodnight." She said and shut the door, going back to her own room.

Cornelia yawned again and looked at the sleeping little sister in front of her again. "Goodnight Relena." She said and kissed her on the cheek. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep herself
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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Posts: 99
Founded: Jun 13, 2020
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One Moment In Autumn

Postby Qassadia » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:20 pm

Image

A Country Estate Of The Royal Family
Somewhere in The Cassadian Countryside


The pale autumn sun gleamed sorrowfully through the brightly colored leaves not yet littering the lawn. A brisk breeze danced with the foliage, occasionally carrying off a leaf into a solitary waltz. A blond-haired woman walked slowly through her garden, occasionally marveling at the strength of a resilient flower. The familiar soft padding of following footsteps had returned to the house and for the first time in weeks, she was left unguarded.

She was somewhat bored. No one was around to torment by tripping and almost falling into a rose bush as they dove to protect her; no one to annoy with ceaseless prattle about nothing of importance; no one for her to subtly imply they were gaining weight. It was a game to see which Knight-Agent would quit first, and she was sure she was wearing a few down to bitter distaste for their job. She would do anything to spite (and in truth, to get the attention of) their boss, of whom she hadn't seen in two months, a week, three days, and a number of hours.

The carefree feeling of freedom was quickly overlaid by a surprising sensation of utter loneliness. She did not wish to dwell on her solitariness, and briskly left the secure confines of her private garden and continued onto the vast lawn of her estate. The wide patch of grass between the house and the trees was not only a lovely view, but also a nuisance to maintain and a primitive, yet effective, form of security. It was more difficult to sneak across a large vacant field without detection than it was a forest. Her lawn got the Heero grunt of approval.

Which was fine and dandy for her lawn, but when you got down to it, being jealous of some grass wasn't very healthy.

A chilling breeze created a wave effect through the grass, curling around her legs, and wafting her hair. Relena paused for a second to feel the brisk draft tingle on her fair skin, trying to numb her nose with a hint of frost. Her breath condensed into puffy little clouds, giving her the urge to shiver, but also giving her hope for the first snowfall.

The grass was crisp beneath her feet but still neatly manicured and raked with pride. Winter was coming and soon it would all be covered in a thick layer of snow. The forest beckoned her with its shady secrets and fallen foliage. She needed the dangerous fun of jumping and shuffling through leaves hiding threats of rocks and sharp branches. It was the closest thing to a hazard she'd find on her property, and such a childish amusement. She needed to prove that Relena Von Peacecraft, Empress of Cassadia, was still young in her heart.

It was too easy to slip into the forest. She hurried the first few feet, trying to lose herself amid the bare trees. The forest was thick enough to enable foliage cover after a dozen meters, and she stopped dead to listen to the sounds of the forest. Leaves rustled, a distant dog barked, and her controlled breathing was low and shallow. There was nary a whisper of sound in the peaceful woods.

She followed a natural path, created by branches and roots years before she had been born. Occasionally, she would go out of her way in order to shuffle through a mound of dampened, yet crisp, beautifully hued leaves. It was slightly warmer in the forest, the trees a barrier to the wind, but no longer stopping the sun from shining on the exposed woodland bed.

Relena swung around a supple tree, laughing in surprise when she almost tripped over a root. She came to a stop and stared when a scratching noise sounded on her right. A few feet away stood a patchy dog of a chocolate color. She felt her heart melt at its thinness and raggedy coat and she wondered if she could find someone to take care of a slightly-worn dog.

It growled nastily at her, drawing her attention to its mouth. The blissful atmosphere changed. Sickly white foam drooled from snarling lips, and her heart almost missed a beat. Rabies. The dog eyed her, remaining surprisingly calm and lulling her into a false sense of security. It barked sharply.

Relena screamed.

The dog attacked.

She automatically took a step backward, tripping over a root in her frantic haste. The dog was practically on her already. Quickly, she brought her arms up to protect her face. The dog pounced on her stomach, snarling and snapping at her. She could feel claws ripping at her thick sweater, and the teeth sank into the fabric of her sleeve, narrowly missing flesh. She had to use all willpower she possessed not to try to buck it off and aggravate it more. She couldn't remember what to do when faced with a rabid animal, but the thought that it didn't need to be provoked in order to attack kept taunting her as she waited for the pain of splitting flesh that would signify the passing of the virus.

The dog suddenly collapsed.

Blood sprayed in a violent art over the mossy ground and roughly barked trees. It splashed in her hair, marring gold with deep red. She could feel the warm liquid seep through her clothes, and she didn't know whether to feel horror or relief. The dog had been shot down expertly, but she still retained the utter fear that coursed through her veins due to the attack. She couldn't breathe, trapped, sprawled beneath the body as if she was the chalk delineation at the scene of a murder. She was suffocating to death on the smell of fresh blood, a surprisingly familiar stench.

As suddenly as the initial attack ensued, the warm body was roughly grabbed from her inert form and viciously tossed aside. She felt herself being gathered into gentle arms, cradled against the uncontrollable shivers wracking her frame from the inside out.

"You'll be fine after you take postexposure prophylaxis." A gruff, formal, and oh-so-familiar voice informed her.

"Oh, do you think so, Mr. Doesntcareabou…" She started bitterly, picking a fight to get rid of the bitter tang of fear empowering her senses.

He cut her off and pressed a kiss on her forehead. It was a motion so uncharacteristic of him she forgot about everything, if only for a moment. "Yeah, I do." He helped her to her feet, supporting most her weight as they twisted through the surprisingly deep forest of her estate. "You'll have a new project to keep you company."

"Making sure I don't turn into a werewolf on the next full moon?" She muttered sarcastically, trying to find out what he knew that she didn't. He just smirked and set to work getting the rabies antidote into her system.

It wasn't until much later, after he disappeared like a wisp of fog in the heat of the day, that she found the note he left her containing one insignificant name. She stared at it, realizing this was as much of an invitation as she'd ever get into his life, an invite to come to visit him.

She smiled, wanly touching her forehead, and went to sleep with an allowance to dream of the future.
Last edited by Qassadia on Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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Falling Into Love, Literally

Postby Qassadia » Wed Jul 01, 2020 5:35 am

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Royal Palace Of Ilopirt

Heero stood on the foot of the balcony ready to make his move. The night seemed to be calling him to this very spot. Gazing into the unlit room above his head, Heero made his move toward the vines that traveled upward to the balcony window. With his the two hands covered with cut-up gloves, Heero began making his way up the wall, pulling his weight and bringing his foot up he managed to get to the balcony's edge without little effort. The trick was to get in unnoticed and that was the one thing he wasn't sure he'd be capable of doing.

Heero picked his left leg up and pulled his weight up along with it bringing him sitting in a straddled position on the top part of the balcony's hand rest. Then with after silent ease of breath, he pulled the rest of his body over and landed quietly on the platform. Taking a good look at his surroundings Heero walked quietly along towards the window. Taking a look inside he saw nothing much but his own reflection staring back at him. In order to complete this personal mission he knew he had to get inside one way or another.

Pulling the window open was an easy task; he knew too well that ever-loving Empress was still naïve when it came to leaving things unlocked. Heero smirked at the thought of her lying there unaware of the solider coming towards her without the slightest clue. She was in La-la Land while he was in heaven seeing her beautiful face again. Heero couldn't wait much longer he entered without looking into the dark still room.

Heero made it without even looking where to put his footing he knew exactly where to place his feet and hands to get into the woman's room. He had a triumphant smirk on his face when he heard a grunt coming from behind him. Heero's heart stopped mid-point and just didn't want to pump any more blood to his body making him motionless.

He tensed knowing he was caught. Slowly he turned to see the blonde head of his affections or his objective whichever he looked at it standing up looking at him and tapping her foot. Relena looked at him squarely with a sharpness that could match the trademark Yuri's death glare that everyone talked about. Heero began thinking of a logical way to explain his midnight stealth trip to her room.

Of course, thinking of something and actually doing it are to different things and in this case, he did exactly the opposite of what he was thinking. Heero had begun to move around fully take in the full look of his princess when his foot caught hold of the carpet that which made him trip straight into the girl with the deer-headlights-look-coming- straight- at- her. Poor Relena laid sprawled about the floor with an unknown enormous wait upon her.

Opening her eyes she could clearly see Heero looking flushed too efficiently towards her. She figured he was showing his true colors of love or embarrassment, and then Relena thought about it or both. Heero wasn't himself at all he stuttered "wrong timing I guess" and got up of top of her. Then helping Relena up said plain and simple I love you then without permission or warning kissed Relena hard and long. But in the back of Relena's mind wasn't confusion, just the thought of 'about time.'

Fin
Last edited by Qassadia on Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
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“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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A Moment In Time And A Lover's Quarrel

Postby Qassadia » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:41 am

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A Long While Ago...

Swift footsteps echoed through the Preventor building as a young Cassadian man, lean both in body and muscle, swerved through the hallways at a rapid pace. His eyes were focused, steps firm, to stand in his way now would mean getting run over.

He moved through the corridors, a scowl hanging heavy on his face. In his hand, he held a scrunched up paper. Something that, in his opinion, had been completely misplaced. And he was now aimed to find out why.

He reached his destination, knocking on a door's entrance to a richly ornamented room, with expensive furniture and an interior adorned with marble, with only the smallest hint of his arrival. His great force sent the doors flying shut behind him, alerting the person seated behind the leather chair, a young girl, almost a woman, dressed in a long immaculate white shoulderless dress whose silky garment ran down a little below her nubile legs.

Heero's feet stopped right in front of the mahogany table, and his hands threw the spiky ball of paper onto the desk. The blonde Royal looked up at her bodyguard, eyes showing no change in emotion. But inside she was smiling sheepishly at his stern look.

"May you be so gracious and kind as to explain this, Your Highness."

His voice was dead serious, something he would usually speak within crucial times when something was wrong.

She picked up the all too familiar paper and unfolded the very creases she had made.

It didn't take her 2 minutes to read through the document. She put the paper back slowly on her table and raised her eyes to meet his.

"I'm sorry but no."

"Wrong answer."

He pulled out a pen and pounded it on the paper before her.

"Sign it."

"Heero, I said no."

"I'm sorry but you don't have a choice."

"I don't have a cho-?"

She clenched her fists tightly, trying to maintain her temper with the oh so stubborn Knight-Agent.

"Heero...the answer is no. Now leave."

"I'm not leaving until you sign this paper Your Highness."

"Well then take a seat, you are going to be here for a quite a while."

She waved annoyingly at the couch on the sidewall of her office. He watched her with a deathly glare as she reached to pick up her ringing phone.

His hand covered hers as she lifted the phone off its hook, bringing it back down to its previous location.

"Hey! That could have been an important call!"

"Not as important as this."

"Uhh! You're impossible. Listen, I am NOT signing this form."

"Your Highness, It's for your own good."

"And HOW is it for my own good?"

"It covers all security weak points that may ser-"

"HEERO WE'RE GOING TO A SPA THAT'S ONLY FIVE MINUTES DRIVE, AWAY FROM HERE! HOW MUCH OF A SECURITY HAZARD IS THAT?!"

He was slightly taken back by her outburst.

"Have you been getting enough sleep?"

"UKKKHHHH!" She groaned in frustration and got up from her seat. It was her lunch break, thank God! She headed for the door in a quick walk, but Heero swiftly placed himself before the exit, blocking her escape.

"We're not done yet, Your Highness."

"Oh no, I think we're plenty done."

She moved to pass beside him, but this time he grabbed her by the upper arms firmly, eliminating all her means of escape.

"Heero! Let go of me! Let go before I call security."

"I am the security."

"Heh. With your protection detail, there are bound to be a hundred Knights lined up outside. I'm sure one of them will be willing to help. Hey!"

He grabbed her and flung her over his shoulders, bringing her onto the soft couch. He sat beside her, still clasping her arms tightly. She stopped squirming when he brought his face right up to hers. His eyes softened slightly.

'Oh no, don't tell me he's going to do that. No no no! Must look away!'

"Your Hig...Relena look at me!''

She turned her head towards him hesitantly, knowing there was no other way out.

"I'm only doing this to protect you, you know that. You know how much you mean to this country...to me. What would your father or mother think when they find out you have sneaked out without proper security outside the estate."

He touched her forehead with his own, inching closer to her.

"Please, I know it's your day to relax but at least take one Knight-Agent with you."

She sighed, feeling slightly sorry that she was making him suffer like this. It was long since she had found out his true feelings for her, found out that he protected her out of love...

"Oh...alright. But only one! And it better be not Artesh, the last time he came he dove into the jacuzzi with us claiming that he thought he saw a mine down there."

He smiled. A true smile meant just for her that made every part of her body melt. Bringing his lips down to hers, he kissed her gently. A way of saying thanks, and a way of showing his love for her.

Relena could never have enough of him, and her heart sank as he pulled away. She looked at his handsome face. and giggled lightly.

"Your welcome." She said, giggling.

He grinned, pulling her into his arms. She snuggled into his embrace and wrapped her arms around his waist.

"So who do you want to accompany you on your visit." He asked as he stroked her hair.

"Hmm...well. I'll certainly need someone capable of handling me. An expert in his occupation, and willing to accompany me back to my humble manor afterward." She looked up at him and smiled. "Do you know anyone suitable for the job?"

He watched her lips as they formed a teasing smile.

"I think I have just the man for you. But I have to warn you, he may stay a little longer than necessary once dropping you off at your home."

"Hm...Did I mention my staff is off for the weekend?"

An evil smile spread across his face.

"Perfect." And with those final words, he captured her lips once more, engaging in a more passionate kiss that before.
Last edited by Qassadia on Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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Mission

Postby Qassadia » Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:00 pm

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1995
The Islamic Republic of Parnello,
At An Estate Near The Border Between The Dependency of New Carthage and Parnello.


The man died quietly, his last gasp of a life stifled by the gloved hand clamped firmly over his mouth. The Kalashnikov rifle clutched firmly in his hands, slipped from nerveless fingers as he was lowered to the ground. Before his body was even cold it was pulled off the road and into the brush, hidden by the dense foliage. The man had been guarding a narrow, winding mountain road against intrusion. Now, several Woodland-clothed men moved quickly, unimpeded past his guard post. The operative, better known as Rodger 3 among them.

Brasilistani nationals, claiming to be members of the Islamic Emirate of Brasilistan had grabbed a bus full of Cassadian students vacationing along the pristine coast of what was a former country, with its pristine white beaches, taking them hostage and issuing a list of demands. They had been holed up in a cinema building for the past four days with upwards of thirty hostages and an unknown number of gunmen. There had been sporadic communication between them and the Militsiya, with a devolving situation. Frustrated with a lack of progress, they had cut the finger off of one of the students and gave it to the police in an envelope to show that they meant business with threats to begin killing the hostages if their demands were not met. Even this, grisly as it was would not have warranted the attention of the elite GRB Spetsnaz, it was not their field of operation.

However, one of the students taken hostage was the only daughter of the widower Igor Sergeyev.

Now even the only child of a widower, while sad, would still not warrant the attention of the GRB branch. No, what warranted their attention was who the widower was. Igor Sergeyev was the second-highest-ranking military officer in the entire of the Holy Kingdom. He was a General of the Army and a favorite to become the next Marshal of the Armed Forces of Cassadia. He was also a family man, who still grieved the loss of his late wife, never having remarried and he doted on his daughter lavishly, treasuring her above all else. So, with her life so threatened the man had flexed his great power and set loose men who were only ever supposed to be used outside of the Holy Kingdom. Men sometimes called Cassadia's pit bulls. On Sergeyev's word, men died.

Rodger 3 moved quietly and quickly, dressed all in black and armed with a special shortened Kalashnikov, but he was just one of many such men, no more than liquid shadows moving up the side of the mountain. There was no moon tonight, and the sky was overcast settling the mountain in a heavy blanket of inky blackness. The kind that you stare into trying to make out familiar sights from the day time, but are unable to see a man more than ten feet from you standing upright.

The reason that they were here was simple. They knew the identity of the leader of the gang of kidnappers and this was his home. He was a prominent man in the Mujahideen world, with ties in old blood and new money. He and his men had taken hostages and shown that they meant business, so the GRB was going to do the same.

The villa was inspired off of old Ottoman design, most likely constructed still in the time of the Sultanate. It was a large two-story affair, with tall curving arches and a flat roof with several domes. Ivy vines grew up the sides of the building and a garden with chipped and faded statues decorated the front yard. Lights were still visible from inside, as were men walking long circumferential routes around the estate grounds. They disappeared though. Every time they went behind a tall bush, or left the sight of the main house or went behind an outbuilding, the never reemerged. Quick applications of steel and wire were all it took.

Rodger 3 stacked up with the rest of his team at a set of doors leading into the kitchens. The sounds of voices in casual conversation and the scrape of cutlery and clatter of plates filtered in dimly from within. The leader of the Rodger team, after confirming that the rest of the teams were in place gave the signal to breach. Rodger 3 drew back his booted foot and with a mighty heave, kicked in the door.

With a splinter of wood, the doors flew inwards and surprised cooks and busboys dropped plates in surprise, the porcelain shattering against the tile floor as the GRB Spetsnaz rushed in.

"DOWN! EVERYONE DOWN NOW!"

The chefs and busboys were shoved down roughly, thrown in some cases out of the way, and subdued violently. Rodger Lead and Rodger 3 were about to exit the kitchen into the main building when a flurry of automatic weapons fire punched through the doors like they were paper.

Rodger Lead took a full burst to the chest, shredding his combat chest-rig and pitching him to the floor. He was dead before he hit it. Sabre Rodger threw himself behind the door frame, Kalashnikov clutched close to his chest while the rest of Sabre Team took cover behind stoves, sinks, or whatever was most substantial. Many of the chefs and busboys were not so lucky, as most had been ushered up near the walls closest to the house interior and acted as human meat shields, soaking up the first outpouring of weapons fire. They fell bullet-riddled corpses to the floor, soon turning the tiled floor of the kitchen red. The blood gurgled as it made its way to the drain set into the floor, not that it could be heard over the constant chatter of weapons fire.

There were too many of them here and too well armed for it to be a coincidence. It was supposed to be a family gathering tonight, but it seemed that they had been expecting something like this. Or been tipped off.

Rodger Three was shaking, bullets punching through the wall all around him, chips of masonry stinging his cheeks even through his balaclava and dust clogging his nose. To someone watching he would have appeared to be terrified, but if they would have seen his face, stripped of its black covering, they would have seen a feral grin of almost unrestrained glee. A low, almost manic chuckle covered by the rattle of weapons fire.

The swinging doors to the kitchen opened and a Brasilistani with an older model AKM walked through, the barrel still wafting smoke. He died before he knew what he was facing, a burst of 5.56 cartridges removing a sizable portion of his skull, spattering the wall behind him.

The man behind him entered firing in the direction that Sabre three had fired from, but barely had time to register surprise as Rodger 3 came up from a crouch, batting his rifle to the side and driving his own hard into his stomach. As the Brasilistani doubled over, Rodger 3 wrapped the sling of his M4 rifle around him, controlling his movements and exited the kitchen using the man as a human shield.

There were several more waiting in the vicinity directly outside of the kitchen, but they hesitated when they saw that their comrade was standing between them and the Woodland-clothed Spetsnaz. Just as Rodger 3 knew that they would and they paid for their hesitance. The first died while still contemplating what to do and the second as he resolved to shoot regardless. The third died doing his forced role of human shield and Rodger 3 discarded him as the lifeless body fell to the ground, bullets passing by him close enough he could feel the air as they passed by, his M4 answering in kind, except that Rodger 3 didn't miss.

He rolled behind a decorative column and gained a moment's respite. Men were yelling loudly and there was weapons fire all over the villa as the other teams found similar welcoming parties.

The Brasilistanis got a few scant feet from Rodger three were yelling conflicting orders to each other but were cut short as the rest of the Rodger team emerged from the kitchen, taking down the now exposed Brasilistani with ease. They shot them once in the head as they passed each prone figure to ensure that they were dead and Rodger 3 joined them, flicking away his empty magazine as he loaded a new one.

They met resistance in every hallway and every room they went through. However, these were men with minimal training and experience that dealt mostly with shooting at the odd Militsiya officer or off-duty reservists. Not Spetsnaz. Though there were a lot of them.

Radio chatter was saying that their target was trying to flee out the west entrance to get to the garage and to converge in that direction to cut them off.

Rodger 3 rolled through a half-open doorway to avoid the fire from two more guards who had rather unexpectedly each sprung from either side of a T hallway after it had appeared that they had eliminated all of them. However, Rodger 3 might have been better off to have stayed where he was.

He had rolled right into the middle of three Brasilistani, all of whom were armed. Rodger 3 rose, holding down the trigger as he did so, stitching a bloody zipper-like trail up one of the man's body as he did so until the M4 clicked dry, then threw the empty rifle at the second Brasilistani, drawing his Hi-Power pistol as he did so. He shot the man twice in the head in a rapid double-tap and watched him fall. The third, however, proved to be a more difficult adversary.

He tacked Rodger 3 and they fell to the ground in a tangle of limbs, grunting and hitting each other, but with Rodger 3 unable to bring his pistol to bear. It discharged twice as the Brasilistani beat his hand against the floor until Rodger 3 let go of it. The man pinning him to the ground had a thick beard and was a good fifty pounds or heavier than Rodger 3 was. His breath stank of cheese and he was in the process of trying to use his superior weight to force the knife into Spetsnaz's flesh.

Rodger 3 put every ounce of hard-won strength into resisting the downward descent of the blade but found it inexorable, his own strength insufficient to stop it. So instead of pitting brute force against brute force, he tried a different tactic.

Shifting his weight and bringing his legs up around the Brasilistani's neck, Rodger 3 reversed their positions with a mighty heave but was unable to retrieve his sidearm. So instead he forced the Brasilistani's arm into a lock, breaking it before driving the knife down, sinking it to the hilt in the large man's chest. Then pulled it out and sheathed it in the man's neck for good measure. He took in a few more shallow breaths, but the river of crimson pulsing from his neck and his ruptured heart soon saw his gaping breaths end and he grew still. Before this though, Rodger 3 was already gone.

After the escapade in the kitchens, and encounters of servants with hidden guns, they shot everyone who wasn't their VIPs. Maids, servants, butlers, guests, guards. In turned into a slaughterhouse, hell's own resort that had reserved these people their very own suite. In time, the screams faded and the rattle of gunfire subsided, with only the quiet sobbing of a trio of small children and the Mujahideen leader's wife.

They bound and gagged them bundled them into a corner of the Villa where they took a picture of them from a color Sony camera. Several in fact, and even some of the villa and the dead distant relatives and their guards, all except one.

She was a small girl with dark hair and eyes, one of the twins and her identical sister being bundled off with the rest of her family, but she had been left in the care of Rodger 3. Now the GRU are not nice men, they're trained to follow out their orders no matter what and be utterly loyal to the Emperor and the Holy Kingdom. To call them soldiers, would be inaccurate in a specific way. They were professionals, problem-solvers without scruples that carry out the will of the Emperor, no matter their orders and their orders had been clear. The Jihadists had sent a clear message that he was serious, so they were going to send a message that they were just as serious.

The girl was odd. Despite all the gunfire and violence, she merely stared at Rodger 3, even when the young Spetsnaz pulled out his knife.

The next day a box was placed in front of the theatre with a manilla envelope on top. Upon assurances that the rebels inside would not be fired upon, the door was opened and the box was brought inside.

The box was nondescript, sturdy, yet made of cheap, but thick cardboard and taped shut. The manilla envelope the kind that you could get in any post office in the Holy Kingdom of Cassadia. The manilla envelope, much to the horror of the Mujahideen leader, contained photos of his wife and children save one, bound and gagged as well as photos of his home, bullet-riddled, and bloodstained. But beyond that, there were photos of family members of every man present in the envelope. Not bound and gagged, but taken as they were doing daily things. Going to school, working in the garden, hanging the laundry, even eating supper. There was also a note in the envelope.

"Know that if the hostages are not released immediately, a similar fate will happen to the rest. Look in the box." It was a short message, and ominous in its meaning.

With trembling hands, the man who had been waging a personal a Holy Jihad against Cassadia for the better part of his life, a rich man with the loyalty of hundreds of fighters peeled back the tape and opened the nondescript box. His wail of grief is said to have penetrated the walls of the theatre, making the police present believe that someone was being murdered inside. For when he opened the box, he found his daughter's head, wrapped, almost mockingly in how delicately it was done.

The hostages were released shortly thereafter and Lobov got his daughter back, the police their terrorists, and the students got to go home. Publicly, no one knew why the Brasilistani's had given up so quickly, but privately the GRB units involved were given praise and promotion by Sergeryev himself. Among them a young man of promising potential and remarkable skill. Feliks Volkin was promoted and became a team leader for his part in the raid despite his age, discarding the call sign Rodger 3 for Rodger Lead.
Last edited by Qassadia on Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:31 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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Honesty

Postby Qassadia » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:34 am

"Charles, what's this?"

The Emperor glanced languidly over at his wife, and his neutral expression rapidly soured.

"You know perfectly well what it is, woman. Go on, then. Toss it and lecture me, because that's just what I need after a day at court."

Marianne took a brief look at the cupcake in her hand, part of her aching to take a bite of it herself. But no. She had to be strong! In the garbage, it went.

"Charles, I'm not doing this to stress you out. I'm doing this because I want you to live to see our grandchildren, and so does your doctor." She approached the sofa where the Emperor was resting, in his white dress shirt and trousers, his jacket and cravat slung over the back of the couch. Moving them aside, she leaned in, placing her hands on either side of the edge of the sofa, peeking down at him. "And you know the only reason you're on my couch at my villa is that I'm your wife, and, the only woman in that Court of yours who isn't eagerly craving your death."

"My cholesterol is fine." Charles huffed, arms crossing as he stared out the window, unwilling to bring himself to look her in the eye.

"Your cholesterol and your blood sugar levels are right on the borderline and I showed you the charts myself. You're fifty pounds overweight." She bent lower.

"That's-"

"That's not muscle, stop lying to yourself. Do you think I can't tell, either?" Marianne draped herself against his back, nudging a cheek against his head. Charles maintained his gruff expression but permitted a hand to move atop hers.

"Oh, are you saying you're not attracted to me anymore?" He turned slightly, snaking his other hand behind her, only for it be nudged aside by a swish of Marianne's hip.

"I'm saying the last time you started this you were unable to follow through if you'll recall." She glowered down at him, seeming almost more offended than he was. "And if you keeled over while you were in bed with me, you know what kind of suspicion that would cast on me and the kids. But…" She paused a moment, leaning in to let her lips graze his, only to be replaced by her upward-pointed index finger as he began to lean in as well. "You're mine, and you know it. And I take good care of what's mine."

"I wasn't going to eat the whole thing, you know."

Marianne sighed, pushing her fingertip against his forehead. "How many times do we have to re-commit to the whole 'no more lies' thing, Charles? How do you expect me to believe in your cause if you can't even be honest with me about something as basic as this?"

"It's not a question of trust, it's a question of willpower…" Charles grunted, looking off to the side again. Ashamed. Vulnerable. A rare look, one that perhaps only Marianne ever glimpsed on this side of him.

Marianne began to rub at the Emperor's shoulders. "I know, I know. I'm sure you believe it, right up until you've taken that first bite, and then…"

He brushed his hair back, ensuring it stayed out of the way of her working fingers. "I'm too old for this, Marianne. Dieting just isn't for me. I should just focus on running the country and also trying not to get us into war with the WA - thus, questions of my mortality will become irrelevant."

"Nope. Not letting you get out of it that easy. You promised." Marianne was also the only wife who held him to his word. While it had once been a thorn in his side, it had become something he'd grown to respect about her. Even if he had to sometimes beg her to change her mind…

"Please, Marianne, just one small cake a week, you've got to be reasonable-"

"Lose thirty pounds and start going to the gym with me, then we'll talk about a cake day." She beamed a Cheshire grin down at him, giving his elegantly curled locks a ruffle, before smoothing them with her fingers. Ever since they'd met, she'd always enjoyed playing with that hair of his. It was part of the reason he bothered keeping it long anymore…

"I did go to the gym." It wasn't a lie, he told himself. Even if he had taken a few breaks… Told the trainer to lay off a few times…

"Not with me. If you think anyone else is going to push you, you're delusional, Your Majesty." He knew she was right.

"I can push myself." He knew he was wrong.

"Oh, you can? Great! Show me when we go together. We'll start with a run."

Charles groaned.

"… I hate running…I'm not in the Paras anymore, Marianne." Charles murmured, a sullen, sour little scowl on his face as he let his head droop backward, staring up into Marianne's eyes.

"I know you are not. But you're not gonna get in shape by doing what's easy. You're gonna get in shape by doing what's hard. That means staying away from the sweets, too." She began to scratch her fingernails through his scalp. Ugh, when she did that, it was impossible to say no to her…

"I have been cutting back on the sugar, you know…"

"I believe you. But cutting back isn't enough. It might have been ten years ago. Now it's too late. It's a choice between a little misery now and a whole lot of it later. And you can be damn sure I won't be in the mood to sleep with you after I've been changing your bedpans." A little scowl appeared on her face, too. She spoke from experience, that much was clear.

"What makes you think I'd want you doing that?" His eyes closed. He preferred not to think of such things… The indignity, and more to the point, of one's own decaying body… Someday they'd both have his children bear witness to him passing away. He wasn't sure what he was more afraid of. Letting Marianne see him like that, or his brother…

"What makes you think that matters to me? 'In sickness or health', remember? I made a vow, and I didn't just mean it on the altar." She bent down to kiss him. He didn't return it.

"If I recall, you made that vow to someone else, once…"

Marianne couldn't help but snort, giving him a brief punch on the shoulder.

"And your father did something comparable to his harem of almost a hundred mistresses. We both know we only meant it when we made it to each other."

"You seem awfully sure of yourself, Miss Lamperouge. The moment I'm gone, they'll tear you to pieces at court, you know that, don't you?" Charles huffed.

"Oh, I'm sure they'll try. I've already made arrangements for Cornelia, Euphie, and little Relena's safety in that event, though. They'll go to the Lukov Family, and I'll stay here, ready to take on all comers - said they'd be in my corner if it ever came to that, too. And if worst comes to worst… you know what I can do with this." She raised up her skirt, flashing the gleaming sigil a Glock, and Charles rolled his eyes.

"You can't just trust that to solve everything for you, Marianne. Power even one that is supposedly absolute has its limits, thinking it makes you invincible is going to end badly for you."

"Do you think I'm not well aware of the limits of my own power, Charles?"

"I'm just saying, I've had mine a lot longer than you've had yours. You need to be aware of the history-"

"And he has been alive a lot longer than yours has, you forget, Charles. He has studied history more than anyone else. Comparing his experience to her, they are spring chickens,really-"

"Yes, this Yuri, when are you going to bring her to the Institute, anyway? You keep saying that-"

"If it were only that easy, honey. In the meantime, we've got to keep up our act, and you've got to keep up your commitments - to Cassadia, and to me. And for our three beautiful gems, I believe you know how precious they are to me than any wealth or Crown." She gave him another kiss. He returned it, this time.

"Indeed my Goddess…" Charles let his fingers trail through her dangling ebony hair, giving her a rare, genuine smile. "I care nothing for this Cassadia, as you're all the world to me, Marianne."

"Then show me."

"I will."
Last edited by Qassadia on Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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A Proposition

Postby Qassadia » Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:57 pm

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Sometime In early-2011
Drainorv
Mitrokin Royal Estate

Relena had just gotten out of the shower when the car's headlights caught her attention. Momentarily surprised, she walked over to her window and looked outside. It was a warm early-summer night outside, but she could see Camilla as she stepped out of the car, was dressed in a neo-Victorian maid uniform, like she always was. She knew she'd gone out to fetch someone from the airport, but coyly declined to answer her inquiries. She didn't get so much as an alert when he finally stepped out of the mansion, passing her by in her study while she read Gone With The Wind.

Then, when she remembered where she was going, she immediately picked up her phone and told Camilla that she had a simple proposition for the person she was obviously going to pick up.

Watching her step to the side of the car, she saw her opening the rear driver-side door, and she didn't have to guess who it was. Her rich, flowing raven hair, which she hadn't seen in a while, familiar enough to make her smile upon sight. So that's where you went, she thought as though she had a telepathic connection with her maid-servant. Stepping to the side, she picked up her cell phone and texted to Camilla, "Keep him downstairs until I call for him."

She hadn't seen Heero Yuri in two months. She suspected he'd been on a Royal Guard assignment like he was from time to time, but she'd neglected to find out, for fear of possibly turning her fears materialize into reality by the Cosmic scale of fortune. But he was here now, and she knew what she wanted tonight. Having already decided in that split second the moment she recognized his hair. She obviously didn't know what he wanted, other than seeing her, or else he wouldn't have Camilla take him back to her manor. But first, she needed to be ready for him, so she got her mind out of the gutter so she could get dressed. "Heero…"

Heero himself was surprised to meet Camilla at the airport. Yes, he had told Camilla that he was coming back to Drainorv after two months, and he wanted Relena's help in debriefing his mission. But seeing the radiant, energetic walk up to him and all but grab his zipper hoodie without urgency caught him off guard. For a short time. Unquestioningly accepting the trustworthy maid's offer to take him to see Relena, if only to greet her, he was in the car and going to Relena's mansion in less than 10 minutes.

He did ask himself why he agreed to visit Relena first when his apartment hadn't been occupied in those two months. But his apartment was spartanly furnished at best, and one night at most was no reason to be concerned.

The only thing to be concerned about was what might happen once Relena and he were reunited. An idea did flash in his mind and he didn't like it. No matter how many times Votalyi teased him about this nonsense, "hooking up" with Princess Relena Von Peacecraft was the last thing on his mind. Nonsense, fornication with a member of the Royal Family carries with it only the sentence of death. In the 3 years since the Tengri Bay incident, Heero had been so busy with going about diligently with his job that was protecting the Royal Family and lay his life for them, that romance was the furthest thing from his mind. And he'd kept it that way for those 2 years. He wasn't about to change that right now. But he couldn't deny he and Relena had some kind of bond. He admired and respected her, and thinking about the Princess gave him strength...and a reason to live.

He sighed upon realizing that's probably what Camilla was meaning to do.

"Her Highness will be pleased to see you," the young woman's words broke the silence.

"I'm sure she will," he said. "Have you told her—"

"In fact, I have not told her where I am going," Camilla interrupted him. "I wanted it to be a little surprise."

"Are you sure—"

"I made sure she saw me depart," Camilla interrupted again. "You do not need to worry. We will be at the manor estate soon. She will have a simple proposition for you, I am sure if it."

Relena, he thought.

Camillas's assurances turned out to be correct in a sense, and they arrived at Relena's mansion a short time later. Letting him out, Camilla watched Heero walk inside with his bag over his shoulder, the only piece of luggage he had on him. She let Heero show himself in but kept him downstairs. Knowing how late it was, the only correct assumption was that Relena was simply not ready to receive him as Camilla led him into the parlor. That didn't stop him from glancing at Camilla inspecting his cell phone.

"She will be with you shortly," she said, which Heero already knew. "She will notify me when she wants you to come to her bedroom. In the meantime, please wait in the parlor. I will have some refreshments for you. Tea or coffee?"

"Coffee, black, no sugar," said Heero.

"Of course," The young maid said with a bow before turning to depart.

Heero had last been in Relena's parlor 3 months ago, but he wasn't alone; Mirella, Vitalyi, and Andropov were all there with him discussing Relena's security detail for a public function she was to attend in Belguard, about discussion pertaining laws surrounding Christianity that banned both private and public religious services as well as stripping those who subscribed to the faith from most government jobs and the military. So he wasn't surprised to see that little had changed. He sat on an old, Baroque couch with plain white cushions facing a couch with the exact same decorations. A coffee table sat in the middle of the arrangement. A grandfather clock sat in the corner, ticking the seconds away.

Paintings and photographs hung on the walls. He recognized Empress Marriane holding a very young Relena. They both looked happy. It hung next to a portrait of Emperor Charles and Empress Marianne in a half-embrace, their two older children beside them, proud and queenly Cornelia and the reserved, serious ivory-skinned Euphemia, looking very subtly happy to be together. Again, those intrusive thoughts tried to sneak in, and he shoved them out of his mind. He didn't want to do it… that.

But it would be nice, wouldn't it?

Relena was thinking along the same lines upstairs as she brushed her hair, now wearing an elegant pink nightgown. "No, Father, I don't need him," she told Charles's photo sitting next to her mirror. "But I think we would make a good couple. Yes, I will respect his decision if he is not interested."

Neither of them "needed" each other. They could both live without the other. And yet, maybe they both subconsciously desired their relationship to be something much more than friendship or whatever you might have called it before. Heero just needed a little more convincing, but she was going to wait and see how he reacted to her offer.

Heero was unaware of this downstairs. The coffee had already arrived and he'd started drinking it. Dressed in a dark zip-up hoodie and blue jeans, he contrasted to the parlor aside from the color. Even the rest of the staff, or whatever was left of it currently in the house at this time of night, could see this. A quick glare at a gossipy maid ended it.

Finally. Camilla walked up to him, bowed, and announced, "Her Highness is ready to see you now. If you do not mind, I can take your jacket." Heero gave him the hoodie without a second's thought, quickly walking past him to go to Relena's bedroom.

He remembered where the bedroom was, and finding it was easy. Now the unexpected hard part came. To his surprise, he froze outside her bedroom door before collecting himself and knocking on it.

"Who is it?" she called from the other end.

"It's..me, Knight-Agent Heero...may I come in," he said.

"Come in." So he opened the door to find her standing in the middle of the bedroom floor, wearing her nightgown and smiling at him.

"Greetings. o' my beloved Heero," she said.

He stood in her doorway, apprehensive about what he was going to do next. He looked back at her, seeing her inquisitive stare–which, as it did when they were younger, always bore through him during that ordination ceremony, as all before who swore to protect the Royal Family who was ordained by the Fire Phoenix, the Lord's Messanger to Nimrod, to have him and all future bloodline of his kin rule the lands and the people in it.

"Where have you been?" she asked, rather surprised to see him standing in her doorway. She was trying to sound upset but instead came across as a coy, gentle scolding.

"On a mission," he replied. "Was an investigation on an Abolitionist Army cell, had to go undercover these last 2 months."

"I see," she said, knowing her suspicions had been confirmed. Two months is not the longest time to go undercover: so two months sounded like a blip, not a sufficient timeframe to be undercover. She didn't move, although she wanted to hug him to ease his mind. But she feared that he'd have the mindset of a nervous cat if she so much as twitched in her direction, so she made herself stay in her spot in the middle of her bedroom. But even though he hadn't said anything yet, he wanted to reassure her fears. "What happened?" she finally asked.

"They found us out," Heero replied. "Someone tipped them off."

"Damn," she whispered. "Did you still catch him?"

"They almost escaped," he said. "But we caught him. Those not of use to us have or are on their way to stand before the Lord for their crimes."

"That's a relief," she said. With that out of the way, "I assume Camilla already told you, but there is a reason I wanted you to come to see me. I have a simple proposition for you."

"What kind of proposition?" he asked.

"I wanted to make our relationship more than friends," she said. "I want you to be beside me, and I by yours."

Heero's eyes subtly widened, visibly shocked, even though he shouldn't be. He stayed put while she extended her hand to him, smiling all the while. "Well, Heero?" she asked softly without moving. "Do you want to be with me?"

"I don't want to," he answered.

"I know you're scared, Heero," she said. He could hear her breathing. "And I don't blame you."

"Do you really?" he asked. It goes without saying that Heero had a hard time trusting people. Being the Perfect Soldier can do that to a person.

"No, I don't," she replied honestly. "To be honest… I am, too."

He turned around. Now he could see that although her stare was still piercing, there was fear in those eyes.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"I wouldn't be asking if I wasn't," she replied.

"Are you sure you're afraid?" he clarified.

"Yes," she replied with a wavering voice. She was human. Two years of portraying herself as some sort of angel for peace were all a lie. Of course, he knew this all along. "And so are you, Heero. You don't have to lie to me."

"I'm not afraid," he said.

"Liar." As if to try and prove it, she strode closer to him and grabbed his hand. "You're shaking."

He was instantly drawn to her, and when she opened her arms for him, he strode over to her and took her in that passionate embrace without hesitating. She was soft. Heero made that observation as he tightly held her in his arms in the most passionate embrace in his young life. Everything about her was soft; her hair, skin, lips, the nightgown, her demeanor, and her smile.

"Yes," he replied after a long while.

"I want you to know that want you to be happy," she said. "But…" he froze. Did he do something wrong? She held onto him tighter. Then, to ease his mind, she gently kissed him.

"That was unnecessary," he told her. His voice subtly shook. Her eyes opened and she glanced at him, but his message was loud and clear.

"Of course," she replied. "I apologize. But I wanted to help you."

"Thank you, then," said Heero.

They stayed in their embrace, so Heero could cherish her comforting softness. Relena knew about this, he told her often, but she also relished his firm touch. She loved him. And he loved her. It wasn't a grand, romantic realization that the movies still depicted to this day, but a quiet acknowledgment she'd come to with maturity. She also knew that he loved her, because he was a show, not tell, person. The way he embraced her tightly right now, after coming to her, was the best indication of that.

He smiled. Not a half-barely-attempted smile, but a genuine smile of happiness, and it was contagious. "I want you to be happy, Heero. Will you love me?"

The most important piece of advice in his life came to his mind. And acting on his emotions, he pulled her closer and kissed her passionately and lovingly. She sighed contently and kissed him back. She already had her answer.

it difficult to tell what he was thinking to someone who didn't know him. Relena knew otherwise. The subtle hints of a struggle in his eyes and lips told her everything she needed to know. Was he still afraid? Perhaps. But he was also visibly conflicted. He looked away from her. Now she knew. "I know what you're thinking," she said. "Go ahead and say it."

"I'm a monster," he admitted. "I don't deserve any love."

"Heero," she said firmly and gently, holding his head so that he could look at her. "You're not evil. You're not a monster. You are not a robot. You are not just a 'perfect soldier'. You are an amazing person. You are kind. You are worthy of having friends and you deserve friends who care about you. You are worthy of love. And you are loved. I love you." It wasn't an anguished declaration, but it was delivered conversationally. And maybe that was what told him that everything was alright.

He was the one who initiated the kiss this time. The only apprehension was how he gently kissed her. He was still nervous. She kissed back, not hungrily, but confidently. And even then, she was still nervous. So he held her tighter. A small smile against his lips told him she appreciated it. It wasn't their first kiss. But this one felt like the start of something instead of an impulsive good-bye. His next move was down with some more apprehension. With his left arm still around her waist, he lifted his right hand and slipped part of her nightgown off her shoulder.

She stopped and stared into his eyes. There wasn't apprehension this time, but subtle desire. So she gently pushed his jacket off and helped him removed his shirt. Not breaking their hold on each other, they moved to the bed—Relena's soft, comforting, welcoming bed—and proceeded to remove each other's remaining clothes. She smiled when her last piece of clothing was removed. He'd undoubtedly accepted her proposition.

Love-making was an experience unlike any other for Heero. Sadly, his inexperience was obvious, but so was Relena's. However, Relena was happy that he'd taken her to bed, and although she was not selfish, she couldn't imagine her first time being with anyone other than Heero. But she stopped to see if he wanted to. But Heero didn't want to stop. Relena's soft skin–everything about her was soft–and her scent was intoxicating to him. She asked him if he wanted to stop, but she answered by kissing her deeply, a gesture she eagerly returned.

In the end, they found each other's little quirks and the resulting experience was, in Relena's words, "heavenly". The skin-on-skin experience ended after what felt like an eternity.

They weren't too tired to fall asleep, but they were too tired to get out of bed (though it was already past midnight), so they lay in Relena's unsurprisingly-soft bed, quietly enjoying each other's company while Relena entwined her fingers with his.

"I apologize if it wasn't good," she said. "It was my first time."

Same here," he replied. He was being honest. "I never had time for sex or love. I was too busy."

"I see," she said, turning onto her side and exposing her bare shoulder, reached out and stroked his cheek. He allowed himself to take her hand and kiss her palm. "And no one else?"

"No one," he said. "Are you sure you want to do this with me?"

"Absolutely," she replied. "I can't imagine doing it with anyone else."

"Really?"

"We can make this work," she said. "And your honesty with me helps."

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"You were honest with me," she repeated. "And I want you to know that I'll always be honest with you. This WAS my first time. And I'm glad it was with you."

"… Thank you," he answered. She smiled and kissed him.

Heero ended it and let his lips lingered on hers for a moment, letting her savor it. He held her soft body against his, feeling her nude form on his while kissing her neck.

Knowing he was happy with her was enough for Relena. They'd been through so much both individually and together, that a relationship, while not the end-all-be-all, was enough to give them happiness, as they both went for another round of love-making.

The household staff didn't bother to interrupt them the next morning, opting to let them sleep in.
Last edited by Qassadia on Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:29 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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Postby Qassadia » Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:53 am

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Part 1: Broken Wings


It was a hot day the day that 1st lieutenant Antanov Yeghevich lost his wings in Albrazil. It was 1996, and a detachment of the 103rd Guards gunship squadron had been called upon to aid a detachment of surrounded Royal Paratroopers. The war had been escalating, and becoming increasingly dangerous for helicopter pilots, as the Mujaheddin had recently acquired ex-Soviet surface to air stinger missile launchers. The Paras request had come in 8 minutes before for close air support, and the conflict promised a target-rich environment with minimal risk to the helicopter crews.

The 3 Mi-24 Hind gunships, equipment that belonged in the inventory of a nation's armed forces that once existed in Krillin just seventeen years ago flew in a loose inverted ''V'' formation going low and fast over the desert, downwash from the rotors kicking up miniature sandstorms as they flew over. Antanov was to the right of the flight leader in Dunava flight. His job was to "officially" warn the flight of any incoming Igla missiles, but unofficially to flip right the fuck out when a missile was launched, and scream over the radio so everyone would know to take evasive maneuvers, and politely get out of the way. After all incoming fire has the right of way.

The Hinds were empty on this mission. Not meaning of course that they were unarmed. They had enough firepower combined to wage a small war, which in a way was what they were going to do, and God helps anyone who got in their way. By being empty it meant that they were not carrying any soldiers in the crew compartments of their helicopters, meaning that they could fly faster, stay in the area longer, and hover in their sleek crocodiles.

When completely loaded up with soldiers and weapons, the Hinds would have to make a rolling take off just like fixed-wing aircraft. That always pissed Antanov off. In his words, helicopters are supposed to go vertical when flying. Not get a running start on the runway, like a jet

Antanov had been in Albarazil now for six years and was now 36 years old. It had been fun in the beginning, flying in his Hind over the hot sands spearheading the Cassadian advance into rebellious spots of this little backwater country, and completely crushing any resistance along the way. These, ''Anti-Terrorist Operations'' always tended to be short-lived for the insurgent party, extremely bloody for the Brasilistani, and Antanov had wished that such battles could last for longer because he had never felt more alive than behind the controls of a gunship in battle.

He quickly began to regret his wish.

While officially the conventional war in Albarazil had been an outstanding success, Cassadia, its armed forces having performed one of the biggest, most complicated amphibious landing operation in international military history, with preparations, logistics and the sheer distance separating Cassadia and Albarazil and an ocean away, despite overwhelming odds and a wide array of factors that would have simply send much of the invading Cassadian amphibious fleet to either capsize or be send to the bottom of the ocean, was nevertheless as if by God's will alone, the Cassadian Navy came to successfully bring the necessary troops and equipment to shore, after a grueling, month-and-a-half bombing campaign by the Royal Air Force on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Albarazil, degrading much of their intricate air and anti-ship and coastal defenses the natives of this country had prepared in wait for the Cassadian's arrival, preceding by rendering much of the country's AFB and RADAR installation inoperable and destroying much of the socialist country's air force in the process, clearing the way for the Cassadian troop that was on a many Landing Craft, and ships to move in to storm the designated landing grounds along the entirety of the socialist country's coasts. Overpowering the defending conventional units of the Brasilistani's getting pushed to the border regions of the country, mainly around a redoubt at a border crossing with the Islamic Republic of Parnello, where the last remnants just melted away into the rocky mountains, where they would wage protracted war against the occupying Cassadian forces, their resistance inspiring the Brasilistani's to take up arms and organize.

Acts that often had borderline genocidal results for those in rebellion against the newly founded ''provincial authority'', with the country having been renamed to New Carthage by the Crown-Government. A clear sign of the colonialist intentions of the infidel Christian Absolute Monarchy that lorded with undisputed and unchallenged in their ability to rule with near totalitarian executive and legislative powers over the Holy Kingdom.

The war had been won, but the war that was this nationwide rebellion around Jihad was anything but over. Resistance began to escalate through the country, as bands of tribesmen especially in the border regions, with the neighboring country of Parnello and Ejorike, where the insurgency was at strongest, being somewhat of an open secret that, powerful individuals of great wealth, were generously supporting the Mujahideen with money weapons and former military instructors of their respective nations' armed forces. Cassadian Central Command had initially labeled of negligible importance; sure of themselves that goat herders, farmers, and shepherds were too illiterate and unqualified to wage protracted guerrilla warfare against a country that had what was believed, to be Krillin's most well-equipped and best-trained military in the region, began to rise into armed cohesive fighting battalions, assaulting Cassadian supply convoys, and attacking FOBs. Antanov had been ecstatic at the news. Although Yuri his gunner had just grumbled something about having to stay in Albarazil longer than was necessary was more apathetic than Antanov and had "grudgingly" taken one for the team, and accepted the night of Vodka shots that Antanov had insisted on paying for, and Yuri had graciously accepted.

Yuri had graduated from Carthage Gunnery School at the top of his class and was said that he could write his name in the ground as he passed, but Antanov hadn't believed him until he called him out on it and Yuri had in anger one day fired out a long burst in the middle of nowhere going on a hunter-killer mission. On the way back Yuri had told him to look down for a unique landmark reference, and written in the sand clear as day was the word, "Yuri". Although Antanov would never admit it he was a bit of a sore loser. So on a verification pass, he had "accidentally" flown too close to the writing, and the downwash from the rotors had completely by "mistake" erased the writing. Although Yuri was annoyed he wore a smile back to base. Antanov now owed him 1000 Levs.

They had made a name for themselves in hunting out the bands of jihadists and getting the highest kill count in the division. With Yuri's peerless gunnery and Antanov's superb flying, they had earned the nickname the White Sche'gori. Mostly because of the fact they were reckless in their fighting, flying just above rooftops, and diving down for a strafing run, and just barely pulling out in time to avoid making their Hind shaped impression in the desert sand.

The white part wasn't as dashing and heroic. Antanov and Yuri had both contracted dysentery one week and had gone on a mission without realizing it at first. Well, the symptoms had made themselves quite well known on the way back, and the rest of the flight were worried when their hind was suddenly flying at max power back towards base. Their hind had touched down in an uncharacteristically heavy landing, and then both of them had bolted from the hind without even waiting for it to fully power down. They had made a beeline for the latrines heedless of who or what was in their way, at one point almost repainting a landing F4G Phantom. Their faces were as white as sheets, the whole run to the latrines, so white was added in front of the Cossack.

The base commander had personally chewed them out for that one saying that next time they had better shit their pants, before endangering other pilots' lives and Air Force equipment like that ever again. Two days later 1 kilogram of camel shit inadvertently found it was into that man's dress uniform pants. Antanov strongly suspected Yuri, but he swore up and down on his mother's grave that he didn't do it. Antanov would have believed him if not for one tiny detail. Yuri's mother routinely sent him cookies. Which the bastard ALWAYS refused to share.

The first loss had been a shock to the Pilots of the 103rd. They had thought themselves invincible to the little backward Albarazil tribesmen, and their outdated SKS field carbines. Antanov had been flying with Sergei that day, on a routine mission spreading the so aptly nicknamed ''butterfly mines'' to deny the area to insurgents, when a puff of smoke bloomed into existence on a ridge, and a missile screamed out towards them. Antanov had tried to warn Sergei of the danger, but there simply wasn't enough time. The missile homed right in on the heat exhaust of his engine. The Igla hit the Hind's amidships, and with the butterfly mines aboard, made it explode spectacularly. The shock wave had shaken Antanov's Hind and caused him to lose over 1000 feet of altitude.

Another Igla went for Antanov, but dumping all the mines he pushed the hind to full military power and went into a near-vertical climb. Just before the Igla impacted he flipped the Hind over onto its belly and barrel rolled to the right causing the missile to go wide and miss. Antanov and Yuri then flew low to the ridge taking as much power as the Hind could give, and hitting pedal to the metal. The Hind pitched forward like a predator going in for a kill. They had seen the Mujaheddin members try to fumble a new rocket into the unfamiliar Soviet weapon. Upon seeing the fast approaching Hind the Mujaheddin members threw down the weapons they had murdered Sergei with and aimed it to try to kill Antanov and Yuri with. Yuri's fifty calibers swivel-mounted Machine-gun spat death at them, the falling brass glittering like gold rain, while Antanov unleashed a barrage of 82mm rockets. The so-called freedom fighter had tried to flee when they had made their attack run. They died running, tossed the air like some demented child's toys, or chased down and consumed in a stream of hot lead.

The Hind seemed to roar in in victory as it passed overhead, casting its shadow over the remains of the Mujaheddin as if daring them to have the audacity to continue living and offer a better fight to it.

They had stood a vigil over Sergei's crash site, after radioing in what had happened. They stayed until their fuel began to drop dangerously low causing them to have to leave their friend in the burning wreckage of his beloved hind. Antanov rocked the helicopter in a farewell before he left. The hind itself seemed sullen as it was forced to turn and fly away.

Sergei had been a good friend. A womanizer with a crush on a nurse whom he used any and every excuse he could use to get to see her. We had laughed at him, and his antics then congratulated him when he was able to gain access to her bed. Despite his fornicating ways, it was obvious he loved her. He stopped shamelessly flirting with anything with a skirt and had sold all of his illicit American Playboy magazines to some ground-pounders from the 82nd Rifle Division. When they went through his things they found an engagement ring. He was going to propose to the attractive nurse he had pestered and taken every opportunity to see. She wept when she heard the news.

Antanov had never gotten to know Sergei's gunner, but he remembered him being a kind man who drank very little and had a passion for good literature. Antanov had never heard a bad word about his gunner. Always willing to help, and never having a bad word in turn about anyone else. He had come from a poor family closer to the Laru mountains, a region that was mostly heavy-industry and mining country. They had found a tenderly wrapped framed certificate. His graduation certificate from Carthage Gunnery school. His most cherished possession. Antanov felt guilty for not getting to know him better.

They had held a quiet memorial for them that night on the tarmac in front of their hinds. A toast of Vodka and a moment of silence seemed too little to honor their friend. They didn't deserve to die that way, it just didn't seem real that they could die. Not members of their little family. Death was something that happened to other people in other units. It was on that solemn desert night that the true realities of war began to become clear to Antanov.

As more and more of their friends began to fall to foreigner-supplied Iglas, and former NATO equipment the 103rd became more vigilant. Flying faster, tighter, and always vigilant. What seemed like a heavier blow than it should have been was the fact that the Mujaheddin were using captured Cassadian equipment to shoot down more helicopters. It just wasn't right.

Flying became harder as the new faces had shown up. Fresh from flight school, each one of them thinking they were an ace or some kind of fucking cowboy. We didn't trust them, and they thought we were uptight scared war veterans who had lost their nerve and couldn't hack it anymore. The stupid ones died, and the smart ones followed our example, and eventually became accepted into our family. It was strange being 26 and being an old-timer of the Division.

We were sad when our friends were wounded and had to leave us, but also happy that they would be able to leave this land of sand and carnage alive. When Dmitri got shot down he and his gunner Ivan got discharged on medical grounds. Dmitri was the Division's clown, and Ivan his partner-in-crime. We threw them a farewell party complete with Vodka, Cigars, and a heavily bribed buxom clerk to act as the night's stripper. Dmitri and Ivan kept us laughing and in good spirits with their jokes and antics until the small hours of the morning. We bid them goodnight reluctantly, and the buxom clerk sat on each of their laps and gave each of them a good-bye kiss while wiggling enthusiastically. No one mentioned Dmitri's missing arm, or Ivans missing leg until they did themselves.

"Well friends", began Dmitri," "it looks like the cost of this war is so high it costs us an arm," as Dmitri held up his stump, "and a leg just to get in" finished Ivan as he held up his stump of a leg. One final joke for us to remember them by. " We laughed so hard we cried. It was easier that way. We could cry then in mirth or misery and none would be the wiser.

When Antanov's and Yuri's tour was done, by an unspoken consent they had both agreed to sign on for another. Neither wanted to leave their family alone and leave the newly-arrived recruits to fend for themselves. They had both swore up and down to each other that neither of them was signing on for another tour because the other was. If either had fears about dying by signing on for another tour neither voiced it. To talk about death was to invite it in.

Antanov and Yuri became a legend in the division for courage under fire, and even landing in the middle of a firefight to extract wounded soldiers who wouldn't have made it otherwise. Both became heavily decorated for bravery, and courage under fire. They admired the medals, especially the attention it brought from the female counterparts. Antanov liked to show them off, but they didn't do it for decoration. They did it because they wanted all of the Cassadian soldiers, most were young men, blooming of youth and fire, with life and all its responsibilities ahead of them, to make it home alive. They were getting very tired of watching their friends die.

As Dunava Flight made its way towards the entrapped V.D.V. It had an air of fierce determination about it. The formation looked loose, but they moved as one, and each watched the other's blind spots. The sun glinted menacingly off of their cockpits, and weapon mounts. They moved like the crocodiles they were so aptly nicknamed after, gracefully moving through the air hunting for their next meal. The air was their territory, and any Mujaheddin their prey.

Antanov decided to try and strike up a conversation with Yuri to pass the time.

"Hey, Yuri" began Antanov coyly.

"Yes," said Yuri with a tone of mistrust, he recognized that tone of voice.

"Do you know what Yuri means in Japan?"

Yuri could tell Antanov was smirking by the tone of his voice.

"I'm going to regret this but what?"

"It means when two women have sex with each other".

"..."

"You mean like dykes"?

"Exactly my good friend, exactly like dykes."

"Ha Haha, I didn't know my very name inspired women to compete to please me."

"I more interpreted it as women turning sapphic to avoid having to go anywhere near you"

"Fuck you Antanov".

"I don't do screw ugly girls Yuri."

"That didn't stop you with your mother did it Antanov?"

"That was just uncalled for Yuri."

"Yeah, she was quite dissatisfied with your performance."

"Really," said Antanov he pretended to ponder for a while. "But your mother seemed so satisfied with my performance."

"And you say you don't screw ugly girls."

"Your mom's ugly?"

"She's eighty kilos man."

"Ewww."

"Yeah so have as much fun with her as you want chubby chaser."

"As much as I enjoy intelligent conversation amongst my flight, keep that sort of thing to yourselves". Mikhail interrupted over the radio. "Or at the very least keep your conquests to yourselves." There was muffled laughter, and snickers over the radio.

Mikhail Zobratsky was a middle-aged man in his early forties, and he was routinely put in charge of Squadron fitness. He seemed like he would fit in better being a teacher than as a trained killer. He was always patient with ''rabbit'' recruits, and he was the Squadrons surrogate father. Never too harsh or too lenient, and his hair was just starting to turn grey. His black eyes showing nothing but endless patience, and care. The squadron had unofficially adopted as a surrogate father for his understanding ways, or as Dmitri and Ivan had called him Pappa Mikhail. Then they had asked for a horsey ride. Once, and Mikhail had obliged by shoving his boot up their asses, and dragging them by the ear to the discipline sergeant for punishment. It just reinforced his image as Pappa Mikhail.

Though no one was stupid enough to call him it to his face. Except for Dmitri and Ivan when they were still around. They were slow learners it seemed. He was called to different parts of the division from time to time to help iron out any problems with the recruits.

"He had only gotten mad once in Antanov's memory, and it had been because some hind crews had taken it upon themselves to beat a forward scout who had reported an area clear of hostiles, only for it to become a deathtrap when they had tried to move troops through. We had lost two hinds fully loaded with infantry. All dead. He had walked right into the middle of the throng of irate gunship crews and interposed himself between them and the bleeding scout. He had told them that they had lost enough people for the day and that turning on each other wasn't the answer. He said if they wanted vengeance, to take it out on the Mujaheddin. He had helped the scout to the infirmary and said he wanted everyone to report for disciplinary action at 5:30 the next morning. He didn't take names or look at the unit ID. He didn't need to. Everyone had shown up without exception.

"Also Antanov." continued Mikhail.

"Yes?" replied Antanov.

"Good Job I'm proud of you."

Antanov was a little confused but felt pride swell in his chest at the compliment from their adoptive father. "For what?" he asked curious to know what he was getting praise for.

"Well in my experience," he paused for effect, and Antanov was hanging on his every word.

"Big girls need love too, so good for you."

Antanov felt the stirrings of pride in his chest get crushed with the force of a pile driver.

"What?" he exclaimed incredulously.

"Yeah continued Mikhail, but that whole business with your mom is a little strange." You should stop that."

"I didn't sleep with my mom!"

"Of Course not interjected Yuri." For once though Antanov Yuri is backing me up on this. However, if he had been paying more attention he would have noticed the playful tone in Yuri's voice. "You were up all night with her." Yuri made the best hip thrust he could manage while still strapped into the Hind and accompanied it with feminine moans. Antanovs blue eyes blazed, and he quickly decelerated to almost stall speed, and then went to max power in the space of about 2 seconds. Giving Yuri a little bit of whiplash. Yuri just looked back through his little bubble back into Antanovs, locking his brown eyes with Antanovs blue. They stared at each other for a moment then burst out laughing. It was moments like this that kept them sane.

"Cut the chatter. Came Mikhail's voice over the radio'' 5 mikes to target." The laughter stopped immediately and was replaced with serious expressions worn by all members of the flight. The Forward machine gun swiveled like some ancient predator sniffing trying to catch the scent of its next meal. The Rocket pods swiveled up and down like it was flexing its muscles in preparation. Despite the danger, Antanov felt the familiar excitement build up in him. He was about to go into combat again behind the controls of his hind. The euphoric feeling was like a natural high. He felt his heart rate increase, and his senses become almost unnaturally sharp. He was almost jittery from the pre-combat rush. His hands were just itching to push down the firing studs that would mean death for any in his way.

Yuri's deep baritone voice brought him to his senses. "Calm down Antanov, we do this nice and easy, and we all go home." He was using the internal intercom system. His words were for Antanov's ears only. "We work as a flight, save some crazy people who jump out of perfectly good aircraft, and go home safe and sound."

Antanov felt his heart rate return to a more stable rhythm, and he became far less jittery. "Thanks, Yuri, almost got caught up in the moment." He forced a short laugh and focused on closing in the distance between the village and his Hind. "Don't mention it" said Yuri.

One thing that terrified Antanov to his core was that he enjoyed more than the fight and the rush of combat. That he enjoyed the killing, and that's why he signed on for another tour. Damn helping the new guys, they're just fodder so Antanov can keep killing people, as many people as he possibly can, and get a pat on the head, and a chest full of metal for it.

Antanov forced himself out of his reverie and became completely focused on the task at hand. Men who spent too much time thinking were dead men.

Black smoke drifted lazily out of the village ahead, curling its way into the pale blue sky above it. The village was built right next to an oasis and was probably a trading hub for miles around as it had water. The currency of the desert, and plenty of it. The land around the village was flat for miles around, and it was all desert.

Antanov saw explosions and the occasional tracer fire coming from the distance. The Royal Paratroopers had taken cover in what appeared to be a schoolhouse. It was a two-story structure and was flying the Cassadian flag, to mark their position. The flag was tattered and full of holes. He saw what appeared to be pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns on the back pouring fire into the school, with more Mujaheddin freedom fighters trying to storm the building by sheer weight of numbers.

"Dunava flight this is Dunava-lead, how copy over?"

''Dunava-lead this is Dunava-2, read you 5 by 5 over."

"Dunava-lead this is Dunava-3 read you five by five over." The responses were automatic, and Antanov gripped the control column just a little tighter. It was almost time.

"Friendlies are confirmed to be inside the schoolhouse." "We are to avoid, fire-missions near the schoolhouse at any cost anything beyond is fair game, how copy?" "Dunava-lead this is Dunava-2 copy on your last over." Dunava-lead this is Dunava-3 copy on your last over." Mikhail always spoke in his calm school teacher's voice before combat. Like he was discussing the weather or a particularly interesting story in the paper. Not telling us how to kill people.

Volga flight had gained altitude to make their attack run, and now it was time. "Dunava-flight follow my lead, the Royal Paratroopers knew to keep their heads down." Mikhail had given the last order he ever would. Antanov turned with the rest of Dunava flight into an attack run. Antanov felt the force of the G\s, and acceleration pushes him back into his seat. He felt the dizzying effect of rapidly losing altitude, and the ground sprinting by. They had the sun at their backs, and the Mujaheddin hadn't seen them until it was too late.

The effect was outstanding, they had descended in tight order in perfect formation. They had even begun firing at the same time. Rockets picked up the ragtag jihadist and thrown their pieces everywhere. The Hind gunners swept left to right over the kill zone finishing any who had survived the initial bombardment.

The flight of hinds passed over the village at the rooftop level causing an artificial sandstorm as they passed. It had been textbook perfect. Rockets demolished building causing them to collapse, while the .50 cal munitions chased down any stragglers in a spray of blood. Antanov was using his rockets like he had planned where to send each one before he came. He caught several trucks, as they tried to return fire turning them into fireballs, and tossing them up into the air like discarded toys. The Mujaheddin were running and now it was time to finish them off.

The Hinds flew past the end of the village at an excess of 240 km/ph with Mikhail going straight, then start a climbing turn while Antanov went into a wide right turn, and Dunava-3 went into a wide left. They had regained their altitude and just had to turn back into position for another attack run. Then all hell broke loose. Mikhail uttered his last words before being consumed in a barrage of guided missiles.

"IGLAS!" Mikhail screamed over the radio. Mikhail tried to evade going into a steep dive and deploying flares. In the end, there were just too many missiles. three were decoyed by the flares, and 1 was evaded by Mikhail's flying skills. However, as he pulled out of his dive into a savage right turn, another three struck the Hind in the tail, engine, and cockpit. Mikhail and his faithful gunner Zebreyich were dead.

Zebrafish was of the same league as Yuri, standing at six-foot-five was a full three inches taller than Yuri, and a full six and a half over Antanov. He was a man with a surly disposition and was always in for disciplinary hearings. He was also a man who loved animals, taking in and caring for any strays that wandered by the base. Mikhail had been the perfect pilot for him. His patience and kindness winning over the large Tengristan native, where no one else could. It didn't seem to matter anymore though, because they were dead

Dunava-3 also known as Sasha was more successful as was Antanov Sasha did a simple flare and bank, while Antanov flipped his hind over, and did a rapid series of turns, and rolls, and cleanly avoided all missiles. Mikhail had taken the hits, for no other reason, then he was closer. He had saved them with his death.

The flight combat order had been destroyed, and the flight was in disarray. It had been a trap. Why else would they launch such an attack so close to a major soviet airbase, able to dispatch gunships or fixed-wing aircraft at a moment's notice? Antanov's suspicions were confirmed when triple AAA began opening up, the tracers chasing, and shredding Sasha's tail. It was barely holding together when he and his gunner Sonny broke contact and fled.

The mujaheddin were now emerging from all over village hefting RPG's, assault rifles, and demolition charges. The Paras had served their purpose, and now they were going to be disposed of.

Antanov felt his blood boil. He wasn't going to run like Sasha, and there was no way in hell he was going to let them kill the Paras like they had murdered Mikhail and Zebreyich. Antanov looked to Yuri, who simply looked back. They didn't need to use the intercom they were both thinking the same thing. Years of fighting, and working together had made an almost supernatural connection between the two, being able to predict the actions of each other, and seemingly be able to read each other's minds. A nod was all it took.

With a deep breath, Antanov swung the hind into a screaming dive. The hind seemed angry and eager for blood, seemingly shrieking as the air went past challenging all those below.

The Mujaheddin were incredulous as a lone hind was making an attack run on them. They laughed and turned their considerable firepower to bear. A fusillade of missiles and streams of hot tracer rose to meet them. Seconds before the missiles impacted, and the tracers found their mark, which would turn Antanov and Yuri's Hind into nothing but a memory Antanov made his Hind "dance." He rolled the gunship on its side, over on its back, barrel rolling and weaving through the missiles, deploying flares out like shooting stars, and looping through the tracer fire. At times causing the missiles to miss completely, and at others by no more than a hairsbreadth. Dancing a deadly dance with the streams of tracers, seeming to kiss them before dancing away again. The seemingly bulky hind appeared to weigh no more than a feather in Antanov's hands as it weaved through the air with more grace than was thought humanly possible.

The missiles stopped flying up to meet them, and the tracers had no hope of catching them. The hind seemed to grin at the plight of its prey savoring the moment before it spat death at them.

A line of explosions tore holes in their ranks, as 82mm missiles carved their way through them, each point accentuated with an explosion of fire and shrapnel, tearing man and machine apart in its fiery death.

The stinger missile launcher operators were desperately trying to reload when Yuri found his mark. He began sweeping the roofs clean staining the white roofs red with the blood of the tribesmen. Just before Antanov was about to crash the Hind into the ground, he pulled hard, and led with the left side of the hind, only a few feet off the ground flying sideways they continued down the street firing all the while, mowing down countless Mujaheddin. They left a glittering trail of brass down the length of the street. In the end, Antanov pulled the Hind up in a vertical climb, doing a backward loop to avoid another missile, before going in for another run.

It was a deadly dance that they did. The Hind would rise and fall, and each time it would claim more than the last time, and it avoided the missiles being shot at it with seemingly contemptuous ease.

They caused the mujaheddin to run in terror from them and they began shooting their AK's wildly at them. The bullets sounded like steel hammers pounding on the outside of the hind, but was as effective as pissing on a forest fire.

After just pulling of a dive, and flying about eight feet off the ground Antanov saw a trio of stingers fly towards the cockpit. Antanov felt cold dread in his stomach. There was no evading this, they were going to die. Time seemed to slow as Antanov saw the missiles close in. Then a miracle happened. Yuri Showed the most amazing gunnery skills ever witnessed in the whole history of the soviet air force, and Antanov had never seen repeated. He began shooting them down.

The entire time they were closing Yuri was firing. Antanov was too transfixed to look away, the first exploded in a fireball, and then black smoke. The second was batted of course by the heavy .50 caliber rounds. The last missile and the hind raced down the center of the street towards each other, the hind spitting its shells, and the stinger missile Screaming down the street.

Closer and closer they raced, sixty feet. The Missile adjusted to a straight-on impact. forty feet, Yuri narrowed his eyes and gritted his teeth. twenty feet, Antanov shut his eyes and waited for the end. ten feet Yuri smiled as his gun clicked dry. At five feet, the missile exploded, and the hind tore through the smoke cloud it had left in its wake. Antanov opened his eyes and used the last of his rockets to obliterate the trio of dumbstruck Mujaheddin.

.

Antanov pulled up sharply, all the while he and Yuri were cheering loudly, unable to believe they had done it. The White Sche'gori had cheated death of his prize, and against all odds had won. They had just made Soviet military history, saved a full company of Royal Paratroopers, and had single-handedly taken on nearly a full battalion of Mujaheddin and scattered or annihilated them. They were alive, and they had been sure that they were going to die.

The Hind pitched violently and became sluggish to command. The last remaining triple AAA gun had struck the tail rotor, in a lucky hit. The twenty-millimeter shells unable to penetrate the fuselage began shredding the tail. The hind seemed to moan in pain. Unable to return fire or to now evade they were forced to endure the punishment. What Antanov saw next made his heart stop. There on the ground was a tribesman in rich clothes and a shouldered Igla. With a wash of backblast, the missile rose to meet them.

Antanov was dead and he knew it. With the tail shredded, he had no legs to run. He had used the last of his flares long ago, so he had no shield with which to defend himself. They had shot off the last of their armaments, so they had no sword to swing back with. Antanov swung the hind so the tail faced the incoming missile. It was the best that he could do, it was all he could do.

Antanov called out Yuri's name but it was unnecessary. He saw the missile too. They shared a knowing look. No words were needed to say the silent goodbye they had become the best of friends, comrades in arms. They had fought to keep each other alive for six long years, and now their time was up.

The sound of the impact was deafening inside the cockpit and it made Antanov temporarily deaf. The hind bucked wildly and was pitched forward as the missile impacted, and the tail rotor was completely disintegrated. The Hind spun in circles out of control, the G,s sucking Antanov and Yuri back hard into their seats as the world spun like some twisted merry go round. Antanov was deaf to the world, but could still hear his labored breathing as they fell from the sky like a broken bird. Antanov's blood thundered in his ears. It was then that Antanov for the first time of the war felt cold terror.

Antanov and Yuri were Going to join Sergei, and his quiet gunner, their surrogate father Mikhail, whom they hadn't even had time to grieve for yet, Zebrevich Mikhail's gunner who had a surly attitude, but a love for animals, and the rest of the friends that they had lost over the years. Too many to name but they knew them all. Time seemed to stop for a moment just above the ground.

The Hind impacted the ground, and the rotors went first. Taking two great gouges out of the ground before breaking free, and whistling away. The hind hit with a lot of forwarding momentum causing them to carve a trench out of the sandy road, and causing the sand to cascade over the canopy. Antanov's view was blocked by cascading sand and then turned black as his head pitched forwards, and crashed into the front of his little bubble.

Antanov came around slowly his vision bark, throat dry and sore, and he couldn't feel his left leg. He reached up to wipe the sweat off his face, and his glove came away sticky and dark. It was blood. His sandy blonde hair was adhering to his head from a mixture of blood, and sweat. His breath came hard, and he had trouble breathing. He looked to the front of the hind to the gunnery seat to find Yuri, and check on him but found the front compartment empty.

A groaning protest of metal on metal caused Antanov to look to his side. To his relief, he saw Yuri on the outside of the Hind trying to force the side door open. The cords were standing out clearly on Yuri's neck. Yuri said his uncle had been an Olympic boxer, and Yuri had trained under him, gaining much of the bulk, and muscle that he now had through hours of rigorous practice.

With a final groan of protest, the door gave way, and Antanov was assaulted by the smell of Cordite, smoke, the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh, and death. Yuri's brown hair was discolored and was wet from the blood of a gash on his head. He had discarded his flight helmet and had only his flight suit, and an AK-74u slung over his shoulder. Each Mi-24 hind gunship had an AK in the cockpit with the flight crew to give them a better chance if ever forced down.

Antanov felt immediately at ease, despite the numbing of his body. Yuri was going to look after him, he would be all right.

Yuri leaned in and started to undo the harnesses holding Antanov into the hind

"It's going to be alright Antanov I've got you now."

Antanov tried to say something, but it came out as a strangled croak.

"Don't worry we'll be fine I can carry you and the Paras are just around the corner, we are both going to make it out of here, you and me." He gave Antanov a reassuring smile and finished unstrapping him from the hind. Then his head exploded and showered Antanov with the remains.

It wasn't really though Antanov in dull horror. Yuri can't be dead. Yuri his steadfast and best friend. Yuri the man who teased Antanov relentlessly about anything and everything. Yuri who had defended him in bar fights, when he had too much to drink, and laughed about it with him in the stockade the next morning. Yuri the man who always remembered Antanov's birthday and got him a present while Antanov invariably forgot, and forgave him when he gave Yuri some half-assed present when it was his birthday. Yuri the man who had stayed up late and talked with Antanov about their ambitions, and dreams in the barracks.

Yuri's lifeless body hit the ground with a dull thump, and the sand began to turn red. There was a crunch of approaching footsteps coming over the hot sand.

It just couldn't have happened, it had to be a bad dream one that Antanov was going to wake up from at any moment. Yes that's it was all just a bad dream, none of this had happened. Antanov was going to wake up and he and Yuri would laugh about this together in the mess hall. Just a bad dream. All just a bad dream. With a final crunch, a figure stopped in front of the open cockpit and cast a shadow over Antanov. The bad dream became a nightmare.

Antanov looked up into the eyes of the man who had shot him down. The eyes of the man who had killed Yuri. He was a middle-aged Brasilistani man, hair just starting to get wisps of grey in it. He looked at Antanov with pitiless eyes. He had a full beard black as night, and his clothes were made of fine silk that had intricate patterns woven into them. Then he spoke.

"You kafir Cassadians think that you own Krillin." His Cassadian was fluent if a little accented, and he spoke calmly and without anger, just like he was stating well-known facts to a group of peers.

"You come with your tanks, and your planes, and your bombs, taking all you see before you with no care of who or what it belongs to." "What it is." He gestured around him. He paused for a moment binging up his AK-47 level with Antanovs head. Antanov felt no fear. If Yuri was dead how could he still be alive?

"You think you've won because your Emperor says we are weak and thus deserve to stomp on?" He practically spat the word. Anger becoming more apparent in his words. "All you bring us is pain and suffering." You put mines in our fields so we can't harvest crops and starve." "You gun down our children in the streets from your helicopters." His voice was beginning to rise. "You've killed many of my men today you Crusading Cassadian bastard." "Sent them to Allah before their time." "They have died a martyrs death, and will have all their rewards in Jannah." He paused, "but you." "I will send straight to hell." He aimed down the sights, and Antanov closed his eyes and waited. He would follow Yuri shortly. It didn't feel right to abandon him. The gunshot was a crack that resounded through the streets.

Antanov felt extremely light, and opened his eyes again, eager for his first glimpse at the next life. He was still in the cockpit of his hind, but standing in the doorway was an angel. Pale blonde hair framed a beautiful face, containing two sapphire eyes. They glittered with intelligence and seemed omnipotent. She spoke but Antanov Didn't hear her. The setting sun framed her in the doorway.

Then Antanov noticed something odd about his angel in the doorway. She had a Dragunov sniper rifle on her back. Angels don't have sniper rifles thought Antanov...do they? It gave a whole new meaning to the phrase having a guardian angel. No one would fuck with you if you had a pissed-off angel covering you with a high powered rifle.

"Can you hear me?" The voice brought Antanov out of his musings and focused on the owner of the Voice. She was a well-built woman, with a figure that the VDV fatigues couldn't hide, and her voice was full of confidence whether she realized it or not, and it commanded absolute respect.

Wait, are there are women in the Royal Paratroopers, thought Antanov. Maybe I really am dead.

"Can you hear me?" The voice brought Antanov out of his thoughts again. Blood loss was making his mind wander. "Yes," Antanov croaked out, and noticing her rank added "Kapitan."

"I am going to try and move you, are you ready?" Antanov nodded weakly and said "Yes Kapitan."

As she leaned over, she said, "Thank you for coming to our aid despite the danger, you were courageous." "You saved a lot of lives today." Then in a lower tone added, "I am sorry about your comrade."

"Yuri," said Antanov weakly. His name was "Yuri,". She looked down at Yuri's body and said "he fought bravely, you both did." Antanov said nothing.

She leaned forward and grabbed the front of his flight suit. "What is your name?" she asked. "Antanov", he began "Antanov YuAAaahhhhhhh. As he had been telling the Kapitan his name she had started pulling out of the wreck. His previously weak voice has found new strength in pain.

Antanovs previously numb leg exploded in pain, and other pains of lesser degrees wracked the rest of his body. He screamed in pain and blacked out for a moment. When he came to the Kapitan was starting to put him over her shoulders, to carry him. It hurt more than Antanov thought possible. Antanov saw two Mujaheddin come around the corner, AK's raised. No, he thought, not again, he didn't want anyone else to die trying to save him. Yuri had been enough. far too much.

Before Antanov had time to utter a warning, The female Kapitan yanked his Hi-Power 9mm out of his chest holster and shot each tribesman twice in the chest. Red blotches spreading over their chests as they were pitched back by the rounds. Antanov should have been relieved, or happy, or something, but found he had no more emotion left to use. He felt empty, hollow.

She put a round in each of their heads as she walked by carrying Antanov as if his 180-pound frame weighed no more than a sack of potatoes. Putting an end to any thought of survival or treatment. Antanov watched as his broken hind, and dead friend slowly retreated into the distance. He had lost two of the things that he cared most about today.

More Royal Paratroopers moved in to hunt down the Mujaheddin, running through the rubble-filled streets, and skirting around the craters left by the last ride of the White Sche'gori. The Mujaheddin wouldn't escape, the men in the blue berets would see to it. The Kapitan passed Antanov to two Paras with medical armbands and went to coordinate the cleanup operation of the town. The dead littered the streets, and those who were still living of the Mujaheddin didn't do so for long or melted away into the desert sands.

Antanov laid on a stretcher in the playground of the school. There were some rusted out play structures, and the building was riddled with bullet holes. With only depressing thing to look at on the ground, Antanov looked to the sky. He had always enjoyed looking at the sky, it was so peaceful to look up there and so exhilarating to fly in it. He was giddy and light-headed from the pain killers, and he was swathed in bandages. They had cut off most of the bottom half of his flight suit to get at his injuries. His leg had been broken in five different places.

Antanov heard a distant rumble like thunder, and he saw black shapes in the distance. The gunfire had died away long ago, and now he could hear everything going on. He recognized the shape and sound immediately. Hinds. It looked like the whole 103rd was coming over the horizon. Antanov finally felt at ease. The crocodiles would protect him. The 103rd looked after its own. He drifted off into a deep sleep, clutching Yuri's dog tags that the Kapitan had retrieved for him. He had heard her name from what her soldiers had called her.

Balalaika. Kapitan Balalaika.
Last edited by Qassadia on Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:51 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Qassadia
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Postby Qassadia » Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:41 am

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Chapter 2: Noone's Left Behind


Antanov was bored. He was beyond bored, he had been sitting in the M.A.S.H hospital for over a month, and his leg was still in a heavy-duty cast. He had suffered a total of a leg broken in five places, a concussion, six broken or fractured ribs, a sprained wrist, and an assortment of cuts and bruises.

The 103rd had been saddened by the losses suffered in the little shit hole of a village, whose name translated roughly as a place of peace. Yeah, fucking right, thought Antanov, the village was anything but peaceful.

The squadron flag was lowered to half-mast, and a vigil was held just like what had been done for Sergei, and his quiet gunner. Death was now an old friend to the 103rd. They just all prayed that he wouldn't come knocking on their door any time soon. He may have been an old friend, but he wasn't welcome.

Mikhail, also know as pappa Mikhail, and his gunner Zebrevich, had met their end in that village in one of the most violent ways possible. The morale loss had been palpable when it was confirmed that he was dead. Everyone trusted and confided in that man. He was the only man besides Yuri... Yuri. It still just didn't seem real. Antanov shook it off. Mikhail had been the only other man that Antanov had confided in about his fears about killing. About maybe enjoying it. He had told Antanov that he didn't know what to say. He had said that killing from a helicopter was much different than killing someone up close. He said that it was just either the adrenaline from the fight itself or that maybe he was a psychopathic killer. The second part made Antanov feel good about himself. The only way that he would know for sure, is if Antanov was ever forced to kill someone while looking them in the face. Close enough to see their fear, hate, anger, whatever. Although he had said if Antanov went to conduct a test to find out he would personally shoot him. Antanov swore he wouldn't.

He missed Mikhail, he was a man who never judged you and always heard you out. It was said more men went to him with their problems than the field chaplain at confession. Antanov believed it too. What hadn't been told to everyone for obvious reasons, was that the intense heat had fused them with the hind in the crash, turning man and machine into one. It had been like something you would expect to see at the devil's barbecue, and Antanov was glad that he hadn't had to see that. He could just remember them how they had been, and not the blackened husks they had been turned into. Antanov did not envy the poor bastard who had to make the identification on them. Antanov only knew because he heard some of the orderlies talking about it before a doctor told them to shut up.

As for Zebrevich's assortment of pets, and strays, they found new homes around the base, with people coming, and picking out the ones they wanted. Some of the mangier which no one wanted, and a rottweiler that Zebrevich had brought from home, had to be put down. The mangy ones, because they looked sick, and probably were, and the rottweiler, because it refused to leave the man's bunk, and growled at anyone who approached.

Most of the squadron had been by after the doctors had declared Antanov fit for visitors, to see what had happened, and see how Antanov was doing. Antanov had simply said to the gossip seekers, and some concerned friends only a single sentence. "I got Yuri killed, it's my fault, now please leave me alone, I am very tired." With that he had turned away from them and refused to speak to any of them, staying that way, until they all left the hospital.

The local commissioned officer had taken over the PT classes, after Mikhail's untimely death. He ran the courses like a labor camp death march. Determined to drain every last drop of sweat out of their bodies, and get the "lazy" pilots in prime shape to better serve the motherland. No one liked him. He kept 'losing' his hat, and finding it in a variety of exotic places, like the latrines. They assumed he got the message.

The hospital was right on base too, so Antanov could be reminded every day that he was laid up in a hospital bed, and had gotten his flight status revoked after the doctor had said that he would always walk with a pronounced limp at best once his cast was off, and his left leg would always be weaker than his right. The dumb fuck, though Antanov bitterly, all you needed your legs for was to push the rudder pedals which controlled the yaw of the aircraft, not climb a goddamned cliff. It was retardedly easy to use the pedals. Antanov could do it even with his cast still on. Flying a helicopter was all in the hands and arms anyways, it was in his blood.

They had sent a psychiatrist to see him and evaluate his mental state, after the loss of his gunner and best friend. He had left quickly in a huff using his briefcase as a shield, as Antanov had thrown everything in sight at the man, including charts, pillows, bandages, maybe a scalpel somewhere in there and, ahem... a full potty dish as the patients called it. He ran out covered in refuse, and a scalpel sticking upright in his briefcase.

The nurses had put some pretty powerful sedatives into him to make him calm down. The psychiatrist had had asked him how he had 'FELT' about Yuri's death. So Antanov had shown him how he 'felt' at that very moment. When Antanov had been under the influence of the drugs he had complained that a purple monkey had been staring at him. Then screamed when the monkey liquified and started to ooze over top of him. They had put different, more powerful sedatives to put him under after that. Antanov later learned that he had experienced something called a 'bad trip.'

A couple of his better friends Vladimir and Egor had come by to see how he was doing. It was awkward, to say the least. No one had known what to say. Antanov chose a particularly interesting spot on the wall to stare at, while Vladimir stared between his boots, and Egor had decided that the hospital was the most interesting place he had ever been in, looking at everyone, and everything. They had made small talk, about how everyone in the squadron was doing, who was doing what, who had scored the most kills in the last mission, and how the newly-arrived recruits that were straight out of training shaping up to be.

"So what did the doctors say about your leg?" asked Vladimir trying to take a more active role in the conversation.

"Great", said Antanov, he said I'll be learning to tango by the end of the week".

"Okay, said Vladimir I get it but how ba-"

"Also said I have a decent shot at the Olympic hundred-meter dash."

"Goddamn it Antanov, said Egor. What has got you so pissy?"

Antanov didn't answer, merely pointed to his dress uniform hanging on a rack beside the bed, and a low table with his medals in their cases. They studied the uniform, not understanding at first, and then looked away as realization dawned. Over the left breast pocket, where Antanov's wings would have been proudly worn, there was just a faint outline with a single piece of steel thread sticking out, and on the table a crinkled medical statement saying that Antanov should be discharged, or regulated to a non-combat role.

"Shit man that sucks", said Egor. He was never one for deep conversation or elegant speech, but he spoke what was on his mind, and didn't bullshit around. Antanov liked him for that, he was honest.

"Sorry about this", said Vladimir.

"What for, said Antanov you didn't shoot me down."

"You know what I mean Antanov retorted Vladimir angrily. Ever since Yuri-"

"Leave", Said Antanov

"What?" said Vladimir.

"I said get out, leave, your not welcome."

Vladimir's face got red, and Antanov thought that they were going to have a screaming match, right there in the hospital. Vladimir was legendary in the squadron for his temper, especially after he got some vodka in him, though he was usually sorry for it afterward. Usually.

Instead, he just glared at Antanov with furious brown eyes, and said in a tight voice, "come on Egor it looks like we've outstayed our welcome." Antanov glared daggers at Vladimir as he stormed out. Egor reluctantly followed and paused at the door, and turned back to Antanov whose anger still burned in his eyes.

"We all miss him Antanov, you aren't alone in this so stop acting like it's only you that this affects. Antanov was about to reply when Igor continued.

No one blames you for what happened. With that Egor turned on his heel, and left the room, but called over his shoulder, and stop being so goddamned pissy." Antanov felt the anger drain from him, and said quietly to himself, "I blame myself."

Antanov never got another chance to talk to Egor. He was shot down along with Vladimir doing a medical evac three days later. It wasn't until years later that Antanov learned the profound effect his words had achieved and had helped bring him out of his depression. Antanov wished there were more Egor's in this world. Too many people never told you the truth or gave you a straight answer. The One who brought him to full out of his depression was a distinguished member of the Royal Paratroopers. Kapitan Balalaika.

Antanov was dozing fitfully when a nurse woke him up. "Lieutenant, there is someone there to see you." "I'm tired today, tell them that I'm sleeping." "But", the nurse began.

"Too busy to see the person who saved your life?" "Or are you just ungrateful?"

Antanov looked up in surprise and saw the only female Paras captain or front line soldier he had ever seen for that matter standing in the doorway. The very same one who had saved his life.

He tried to snap off a salute but ended up instead of nearly knocking over an IV stand that the nurse who had been standing beside the bed had to scramble to catch. Balalaika chuckled, while the nurse just glared.

"Am I allowed in or are you still tired?" Asked Balalaika. "N-no Kapitan, I mean yes of course you can come in."

"My my," said Balalaika, "I've flustered the poor boy." Antanov blushed deeply at the words. Balalaika just laughed again.

"I'll leave you to your guest now," said the nurse. As she left she gave Antanov a glare that said if you break ANYTHING while I'm gone you won't WANT to live to see tomorrow. Antanov made a mental note to watch his elbows and arms.

Balalaika was in the full dress uniform of the Paras complete with powder blue beret, and with more medals than Antanov had thought possible for anyone less than a Field Marshall. He recognized a couple from first glance, including Hero of the Holy Kingdom, A medal of honor for exceptional military service 1st class, four medals for Bravery-Under-Fire awards, another two of the Medals for Military Merit, and many others that he didn't recognize, and some that were very, very hard to get.

He had been staring too long as Balalaika broke the silence with a surprising twist to bear, "admiring my chest?"

"Yes. No. I mean it's nice, but not in that way. Well, it is but, Ummm ahhh," Balalaika stopped him from digging a hole before he hit Ejorike by saying, "it's all right, it's a lot of metal I know. Damn things heavy too." As she pulled up on her tunic to a more comfortable position Antanov had to look away red-faced.

What the hell is with me? He thought. I'm acting like some horny teenager too nervous to make a move on a girl he likes. Antanov remembered that when he first saw her he thought she was an angel come to carry him off to the afterlife. She had been beautiful, then, and she was beautiful now. More so without the blood, dirt, and grime on her. Her uniform was freshly pressed and starched, and her hair was neatly combed, and her eyes were brighter as she was well-rested, and there were no longer bags under her eyes.

"So how have you been Antanov? "well I hope."

Antanov was tempted to lie, but to lie to Balalaika would have seemed wrong, and something just in her very presence demanded nothing but the truth and a maximum of respect. "Not so well I'm afraid, said Antanov, with Yuri... gone it's been hard." Antanov finished, the vigor he had previously displayed gone, and the boyish shyness had disappeared.

Balalaika's eyes wandered over to the low table and spied the medals sitting in the boxes. She walked over and reached for them. She stopped short, and said, "may I?"

"Go ahead," said Antanov, their not as impressive as yours though. Balalaika merely smirked as she opened them up. There were eight in total. Antanov and Yuri had been the most decorated crew in the whole 103rd. They had been infamous in a good way and had more medals combined than at least and four other crews in the squadron combined. Well except for Pavel. That man wore any medal he could get his hands on. Hell, he even wore the blood donors medal.

Balalaika started taking them out one by one and inspecting them.

"Hmmm". "Four honored military pilot medals of the Holy Kingdom. Must have had to do some fancy flying to get those huh?" Antanov stammered out a reply of something or other, and then Balalaika continued. "An Order of Glory 1st class." She smiled. Antanov thought it was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. "My sergeant Boris would kill for something like this." She put it back in its box. Antanov was feeling pride swell in him that the Royal Paras' Kapitan was praising him for his accomplishments. "Two medals for Courage?" She held up the two identical medals. One was slightly tarnished because Antanov had dropped in a puddle of oil while showing it off. He had to send away for a new ribbon for it, and it contrasted sharply with the slightly off-color metal. "I'm starting to get impressed." Antanov was smiling by now, not overly so, but a smile none the less.

"Let's see the last one now shall we?" She opened the last box and held it up. "A medal for distinction in military service second class." She paused with a thoughtful expression on her face. "Well, I think I can one-up you on this." She reached into her tunic pocket and pulled out two more medal boxes. 1st lieutenant Antanov Yeghevich it is with great pleasure that I award you with The medal for a distinction of Military service 1st class." Antanov took the case dumbstruck, as Balalaika continued, and Hero of The Holy Kingdom. Antanov held his new medals. Yuri deserved them instead.

Seeing the look on Antanov's face yet again, Balalaika took out a very richly crafted box, inlaid with gold filigree. Antanov looked at it in puzzlement. Balalaika opened it up and Showed Antanov the medal inside. It was the Emperor's Knight Order. Balalaika held it up and showed him the back of it. Inscribed on the was the rank, initial, and name, 3rd LT. Y. Myaskovskiy. Yuri, Myaskoviskiy his gunner. His best friend, the large man with a champion boxer for an uncle, and who would tease him relentlessly, but would always pull his ass out of the fire when he got in trouble.

''Your friend died a hero, and the Emperor has recognized him for his ultimate sacrifice. Medals will never replace a comrade, but they show that what was done, and it will not be forgotten." Balalaika finished solemnly.

Antanov was quiet for a long time, then finally spoke. "Thank you, said Antanov, truly thank you."

"Don't thank me, you earned this. We would have gotten these to you sooner, but we had some problems."

"What kind of problems?" asked Antanov.

Balalaika got a gleam in her eye that made Antanov feel uneasy. "The kind of problem named Sasha."

"The new guy? What of him?" Antanov had a feeling that it wasn't going to be good.

"Let's just say his version of events didn't match what happened."

Antanov felt anger build in him. "What. Did. He. Say?"

"It doesn't matter now,'' said Balalaika, I have taken care of it." All things considered, Antanov felt a twinge of sympathy for Sasha. He would not want Balalaika even displeased with him, much less angry.

Seeing an unused chessboard nearby she said, "do you play chess?" "Yeah, but no one ever beats me," said Antanov dismissively. "Well do you want to play?" Balalaika pressed.

"Not really", said Antanov.

"What if we make things interesting," Balalaika said coyly.

"Interesting?"

"If I win I get 100 Levs"

" And if I win?" Antanov was always interested when a prize was considered.

Balalaika leaned over Antanov, and said, "a kiss."

"Wh-what?" asked Antanov suddenly finding it hard to breathe.

"Well if you are not interested I suppose I can just leave." As Balalaika stood to leave, Antanov practically slammed the 100 Lev note down on the table. "Let's play." Balalaika smiled, grabbed the chessboard, and sat down.

*__*

"Checkmate." Antanov stared down at the board. There was no move he could make. How did he just lose? Balalaika just sat there looking immensely pleased with herself and was not forthcoming with any answers. It had taken 14 turns.

"I believe," began Balalaika, "that this is mine." She reached forward and cleanly pocketed the note off of the table.

Antanov put another down on the board. "Again."

"I thought you said that you didn't want to play."

"Well I changed my mind, let's go again," said Antanov hotly.

"I don't want to take all your money." Said Balalaika eyeing Antanov's filled wallet.

"You won't," said Antanov and I intend to win back what I lost."

"Well aren't we full of fire now?" Said Balalaika. Antanov was quickly resetting the pieces with almost fanatical devotion. "Very well," said Balalaika at length, "let's play."

After Antanov had lost ALL of his money to Balalaika, they had to call it quits. She said that she wouldn't except possession's, or his firstborn child as payment. She also said that she couldn't accept a hind as payment since 'technically' Antanov did not own said multi-million ruble gunship.

"Well I should be going now," said Balalaika now rising from her chair. "I Promised the men that I'd take them for a few rounds of vodka shots." "This was fun though, I might just come back and play again tomorrow."

"But, I don't have any more money," said Antanov meekly. Balalaika waved her hand dismissively, "the wager was just to get you to play."

"Oh, so I don't have to bet money next time?" asked Antanov hopeful.

"No. We'll just play for fun from now on. She grinned, can't take everything you make."

As she was leaving Antanov had to ask a question that had been bugging him. "How can you afford to pay for a round of drinks for over 100 men?" "It's simple, said Balalaika. I can't." Antanov was puzzled until she pulled out the wad of cash she had won from him. "Thanks for the help." With that, she left the hospital room.

"Damn. I got played." But thought Antanov I get to see her again tomorrow. Feeling self-satisfied he leaned back on his bed putting his arms behind his head. Unfortunately, an errant elbow knocked the glass ashtray Balalaika had used for her cigars on the floor, and the broken glass and ash spread across the floor. Antanov got a distinct feeling that something bad was about to happen. Antanov heard a clacking of heels in the hallway, and then the nurse from earlier was standing in the doorway. She first looked at the mess on the floor, and then at Antanov. "Uh oh." was all Antanov said.

As promised Balalaika returned the next day for their game of chess, and Antanov continued to lose every single game. He couldn't understand what he was doing wrong. He would always take more pieces. He would always clear a path to her king, and then all he had to do was strike. Then... he would lose. He would be in checkmate, with no other possible moves to make, he had to concede defeat. Whenever he asked how he lost, Balalaika would just say, "you were simply outplayed." She continued to come back, and win every single game, no matter what Antanov did.

As soon as Antanov was able to move around on his own, albeit with the help of crutches, he would challenge anyone and everyone to a game of chess that he could find. It got to the point where the hospital staff would try to hide the board, in hopes that Antanov wouldn't find it and leave them alone. They underestimated the determination of a man with nothing to do all day and a wounded ego. He always found it.

Antanov was able to beat everyone consistently with the exception, of a man in a full-body cast, and bandages who called out where he wanted his pieces moved, the nurse who had 'explained' to Antanov why we are careful in a hospital, and an elderly doctor, who would play in his spare time.

Antanov was sure he lost to the nurse, for the simple reason that he was terrified of her wrath. Antanov found out that she liked stuffed animals, and had bought her several to make peace with her. After he accidentally knocked over a glass of water and breaking it, she hadn't even gotten upset. Antanov had thought he was in the clear. The morning after, he woke with the severed head of one of the bears he had bought her in his lap. Right on top of his crotch. Antanov avoided anything breakable like it was instant death. He couldn't have been farther off. It would be very slow, though she wasn't bad to look at when he wasn't fearful she was going to murder him, and she had a nice name too. Catherine. She filled out her nurses uniform in all the right places.

The doctor won, because he played classical music which distracted Antanov, and he always offered him vodka when they played. Antanov thought that he drank more than was healthy, and encouraged Antanov to do the same. Antanov usually ended their games hammered, and left declaring that his bed was a Hind gunship. Until the nurse showed up, and ever so 'sweetly' asked him to stop making a ruckus before someone got 'hurt'. Antanov quickly sobered up, and apologized, both with words, and continually buying her more stuffed animals. Antanov feared the day that he wouldn't be able to buy more stuffed animals.

The body cast man won, because he had been both a voice actor, and ventriloquist before the war, and mind fucked Antanov whenever they played. At first, he thought he was becoming schizophrenic when he heard voices of savvy businessmen, small children, and voluptuous women telling him to move the pieces around from all corners of the room, and in the hallway. That and eat his soul, but I digress. It didn't help that he would also do it in his regular voice too, and deny hearing any other voices. Barring the soul-eating in his normal voice. When Antanov had found out, he had been furious, but also found it amusing in some ways. At least he wasn't crazy.

Yet no matter how much Antanov practiced he just couldn't beat Balalaika. He found out that Balalaika wasn't her name one day as she was leaving, after one of their daily chess games. They had stopped playing in the hospital room and had moved to the lounge as it afforded a better view, and was far more comfortable. Also, it didn't face the airport.

"And I believe that this is checkmate once again Mr. Yeghevich.'' said Balalaika leaning back in her chair arms behind her head in triumph. It took all of Antanov's willpower not to stare at her more noticeable 'assets' of her unbuttoned at the top, desert ''choco'' fatigues, as she did so. ''Antanov you said no one ever beat you, and yet I continue to win again, and again." Now she was just taunting him.

"You must be cheating,'' said Antanov. '' no way you could win every single time." Antanov sat back annoyed at having been beaten yet again. How does she do it? He pondered. She had to have a trick, extra pieces. Something.

"I can assure you I am not cheating Antanov, but I can tell you one thing," said Balalaika leaning forward. "What's that?" Antanov asked. Balalaika just paused sitting there, sitting still as a statue. She did so for so long, that Antanov was considering asking her if she was alright, then she spoke. "You are a sore loser." "I am not a sore loser!" Antanov stood up in outrage, but unfortunately, he put weight on his bad leg. With a whine of pain, he fell back heavily into his chair. "You didn't just prove my point at all Antanov. Not in the least." Antanov just grunted in annoyance.

"Just tell me how you keep winning, said Antanov in frustration. What is your secret?"

"It wouldn't be a secret if I told you now would it Antanov, and besides, tapping her watch she said, I have to go." In one smooth movement, she stood up and began walking to the door.

"Goodbye Kapitan Balalaika", Antanov called after her. Balalaika stopped dead in her tracks.

"What did you call me?" Balalaika didn't turn around when she asked the question.

Oh shit, thought Antanov, maybe I offended her. Maybe it's a word that some men in her company use to make fun of her or insult her.

"I um, Antanov swallowed nervously. I heard some of your men call you Balalaika when they were treating me, and I thought that was your name." Antanov got his crutches ready to make a run for it if Balalaika, or whatever her name was got angry at him. He saw her shoulders, and the body starts to shake. He was so going to die now. Instead, she burst out laughing and turned to face him.

"Do you even know what Balalaika means? She asked wiping tears from her eyes. It's slang for the M14 sniper rifle that I always use, so the men just started calling me it. Antanov now understood why the sergeant in charge of visitors had looked at him like he was retarded when he had asked where Kapitan Balalaika was when she hadn't shown up for a week. It turned out later that she had been in the field. Antanov, did you never once see my name tag?" Stenciled clear as day above her right breast was the name Pavlovena.

"No, I never did," replied Antanov. "So you telling me that in the two weeks that I've been coming every day to play with you, you never once saw my name?" "Yes," replied Antanov trying to salvage as much dignity as possible. "Unbelievable muttered Balalaika. Only my men call me my Balalaika, and only my men can call me Balalaika." "Oh, I'm sorry Kapitan Pavlovena, I won't make that mistake again," Antanov swore not to mess that up. "Balalaika." "Ma'am", asked Antanov unsure. "You can call me Balalaika," repeated the newly named Kapitan Pavlovena. "But I'm not from your unit, or under your command," protested Antanov. Balalaika fixed him with a gaze, that Antanov couldn't look away from. "You bled on the same ground we did, and you lost comrades, just like we did. In my eyes, you have earned the right to call me Balalaika." With that, she turned on her heel and left. Even if Antanov could have replied, he wouldn't know what to say.

Antanov just stared at the neatly wrapped box. Balalaika had left for another mission a few days ago and hadn't come back yet. She had given the box to him, saying that she had been waiting for the right time to give it to him. It was from Yuri. It had been for his birthday, which had been a few days ago, and a surprising number of people had shown up since Antanov had stopped being so 'pissy,' as Egor had put it. Antanov wished Egor and Vladimir could have been there. Vladimir was a funny drunk as long as you didn't make him angry, and Egor was fun to have around, even if he could be a prick at times. Antanov was beginning to feel old. Too many new faces, too many names he didn't know. With a dull realization, he realized that he didn't care that he didn't know their names. He was shipped back to to the Cassadian homeland within the week, and now could walk around with only the aid of a cane, although walking tired out his disused leg considerably, and it was still a bit stiff.

Antanov's only regret was that he wouldn't be able to spend more time with Balalaika. He had developed a crush on her over the weeks and had been going to tell her how he felt, especially when she had told him that she had volunteered to deliver the medals in person, to have a chance to visit him. He had thought that she had felt the same way. Then she had revealed that she did this kind of thing with all of her men who got hurt, and that was why she could never stay long. He had just been a name on the list. Balalaika had said that a commander's job didn't end off the field, that they had to care for their soldiers, since whether most commanders realized it or not, their men would fight to the death for them at a single order. No questions. No regrets. She said it was shameful for the commander to do any less for their soldiers. Every single man to a man under Balalaika would give his life to save her, and she would do the same for anyone of her soldiers. Despite everything that had happened Antanov felt the same way that they did. He would die for her on a word.

Antanov wondered what was in the little blue box with a white ribbon on it. Yuri always got him good gifts, whether they were possessions, or like the one time he had taken him to and paid for a night at one of the most expensive Bordello in the area. Antanov smiled wryly. That had been a good night. Another time he had got Antanov a Swiss pocket watch that he had bought on the black market. Antanov hardly ever wore it, and never in public for fear of being caught with contraband, and getting his flight status revoked, even temporarily. The point seemed moot now in reflection. Antanov had attempted to open it several times and had stopped each time. Unable, or unwilling to open it.

In the intervening time of his recuperation, he had become more friendly with the nurse Catherine. She had confided in him that she had just done most of the things, to bug him, and she thought it was funny when she would walk into the room, and Antanov would cower behind his sheets, and call her ma'am even though he outranked her by a few good levels. Apparently, she didn't have a lot of friends, and people seemed edgy around her, so she just played it up. Since she had lacked friends, she had collected the stuffed animals, and only cut up the one bear, because she had spilled coffee on its body, and ruined it. Not wanting to waste it, she had waited for the perfect opportunity to use it. He had been to her room a few times, and it was wall to wall with stuffies. Apparently, some of the standards sergeants had wanted her to clean it up, but then she had just put on her act, and the request mysteriously vanished.

It still made Antanov wonder about her mental state if she found him cowering funny, but the extracurricular activities they participated in made it seem less important. They both knew it wouldn't be permanent, but it didn't seem to matter. With so much death you learned to live in the moment, and not give a damn about tomorrow. Antanov still felt uneasy doing it in her room though and having sooo many stuffed animals watching him.

Most of the time, Antanov would just wander around the hospital, now that he just needed a cane to get around. Anywhere he went through, was preceded by the tap of his simple pine cane, as he walked around.

Antanov was wandering again today, and he knew that he should open the gift, tap, tap, tap. It was from Yuri, and now it was only gathering dust in his room.

Tap, Tap, Tap.

He had to stop putting it off, or else it was going to drive him insane, TAP, TAP, TAP. Antanov stopped in the hallway so suddenly, that a passing orderly almost ran into him. The orderly was going to protest, but after seeing the look on Antanov's face he quickly went on his way. Antanov turned sharply on his heel and headed back to his room. He was going to open the box and end the stupid indecision.

Even with the fire of his conviction, he still hesitated, with the simple blue box. Instead of tearing it open, like he resolved he would, he began to tenderly open it. Untying the ribbon, and setting it to the side. He gently opened pried open the top and took out a tissue paper wrapped object. He tore off the paper and looked at his gift.

It was a porcelain miniature, of a Sche'gor horse, and rider. It was on a circular base, with the horse and rider rearing up, and the rider brandishing his saber. It was finely detailed, and you could practically hear the battle cry, coming out of his porcelain lips. The horse was a dark chestnut mare, and the Sche'gor rider was complete with full uniform, and hat. The base was outlined in gold paint, and the rest was black. At the bottom of the box was a note. Antanov read it.

"Well Antanov another year has come and gone, and I guess your still alive, so I decided to get you something different this year. If I'm not there drinking with you, I guess I'm dead. Funny thing it must be reading a note from a dead man. I ordered this in advance because I had a premonition of sorts about this. I had a dream about a Sche'gor rider with a white horse charging across a smoky battlefield, and he was alone. He charged right into the other line and fought until he died. I've had this dream a few times now, and I might be a superstitious horse herder from Tengristan, but I think it meant either my death, yours, or both. If I'm still there with you give me a good smack, if not. Don't give up, Sche'gori never surrender, and they never give in. See you in the next life, my friend. P.S. If I'm not dead, don't you DARE forget my birthday again."

The realization hit Antanov like a hammer blow. Yuri was dead. He was dead, and there was nothing that he could do to change it. He had been in either denial or had put it completely out of his mind entirely, refusing to think about it.

Antanov had not wept for any of his fallen comrades, he had sworn he wouldn't. From the first to the last, he had stood strong. For them, and for the Motherland, he had refused to grieve for them. Now though, he wept long and hard. For Sergei, and his quiet gunner from the mountains of Laru. Mikhail, father to them all. Zebrevich the large man with an equally large heart for animals. For Egor, the blunt, but honest man. Vladimir, and his legendary temper, and good spirit, for Yuri. His best friend and closest confidant, and finally for all those others who had fallen, too numerous to name, and yet he knew every one of them.

After Antanov had finished, he asked himself a question that he never had before. Was all of the death and sacrifice worth it? He had always believed that they were doing the right thing, and still did, but was it worth the cost?

Antanov Decided that he needed some fresh air, so grabbing his cane, and porcelain figurine, he strode out into the bright Brasilistani day. Antanov wore simple Cassadian desert ''choco cookie'' fatigues, and he put on his reflective Aviators to combat the bright light, and hide his red eyes. Who cared if someone caught him with them, what else could they do to him? He walked for a long time, and whether, through fate or habit, his feet carried him to the helicopter staging area.

Antanov heard the deep thumping of rotors and looked up. A flight of six Chinook helicopters, escorted by two Hinds came in for a landing. They kicked up loose sand, and rocks as they landed. Antanov had to cover his mouth with his cane arm so he wouldn't breathe it in.

Antanov saw Royal Paratroopers start unloading from the helicopters. They smelled, were dirty, covered in both blood, and sweat. They walked like defeated men, dragging their feet, and barely holding onto their G3's. That was strange to Antanov, the Paras would be tired surely, but they always kept tight discipline, and held their head's high. They were the shock troops of the Cassadian spearhead and had extremely high esprit de corps. Something horrible had to have happened to make this happen to them.

Antanov noticed that their Kapitan wasn't with them, and he felt his pulse quicken. Maybe it's a different company, Antanov tried to reassure himself. There was a whole division of Paras on base, and it could be any company, any Kapitan. Antanov felt his stomach drop when he saw Balalaika's top sergeant Boris with the same defeated look as the rest of them. He had a fresh scar across his face that was still healing and pink. Antanov's cane dropped from nerveless fingers, hitting the tarmac with a wooden clatter. His hold on the porcelain figurine however never wavered. Balalaika he later learned had been captured by the Mujaheddin.

Later that night Antanov approached the VDV barracks, in his soviet fatigues, and his service Makarov in a holster. He had never gotten his old one back after Balalaika had used it to save him.

He hesitated at the door, the Royal Paras were notorious for shunning and booting out regular Cassadian serviceman who were not invited in specifically. Maybe he could just sneak in, and speak to Boris, and they wouldn't notice. With an effort of will, Antanov pushed the door open and strode in.

He couldn't have been more wrong. Everyone noticed him when he walked in. This was a night of grieving for them, and they had all been sitting sullenly in their bunks or around the room, except for a cluster of men around Boris at the far end of the barracks. They had been speaking in hushed tones before Antanov had walked in.

They were all staring at him, and the stare said, leave or we'll hurt you BAD. Taking a deep breath, Antanov began walking to the far end of the barracks, his cane making the only sound as it struck the wood floor, on his way across the room. His left leg was sore from walking so much today, but he ignored it. Some of the men had left their bunks and had moved to cover the door behind him. If I don't do this right, I'm going straight back to the hospital, and I doubt I'll be able to leave for a long time, thought Antanov.

Antanov began to sweat, the Paratroopers had their G3s in the barracks and were fingering them lightly. Forget the hospital, thought Antanov if I fuck this up I'm going straight to the morgue. He stopped in front of the table with Boris and his cluster of men. He was so nervous, he thought he might throw up. He gripped his cane with sure hands, they were steady. No matter how nervous Antanov got he never shook, but you could see it in his eyes. Yuri had once told him, that his mother had said that the eyes were the gateway to the soul, and you could tell a lot about a person from their eyes.

Antanov stopped a few feet short of Boris. He felt like he couldn't speak. He had met Boris before, and had talked briefly with him on several occasions, but always when Balalaika had been present. He imagined that Boris had also met him after he got shot down, but Antanov couldn't be sure. He had been high, and later morphine that day. Antanov was spared having to speak first because Boris did.

"What the hell are you doing here, this isn't your barracks, and you had damn well had a good excuse for coming in here." I c-came to try and h-help Balalaika." Antanov was stuttering, and he was spinning on the inside. He was fearful, and he knew if he screwed up he was dead. Boris was clearly angry, and while he and Antanov were of comparative heights even if Boris was a bit taller, Boris was a mountain of muscle compared to Antanov, and a trained killer. Antanov had been told that he had a pilots build one time over drinks in a bar, and he only had the hand to hand skills he had learned in basic. He was a decent shot with his pistol, but he would be beyond dead if he ever was forced to draw it. Everyone had thought Yuri was front line infantry, with his build and fighting prowess.

"What could you possibly do to help us? Would you fight for her, would you die for her? Everyone in this room would die for her, can you claim the same?" "Without hesitation, Antanov replied. He felt fierce determination in him as he said it. Balalaika had shown more patience for him than anyone other than Mikhail or Yuri would have shown. She had saved his life twice. One of the battlefield, and again from going down a dark road of no return. You need a pilot you can trust, and I owe Balalaika my life. I'm not leaving until you agree to let me help, or I'm carried out of this room in a body bag." He met Boris's eyes, his no longer holding fear, and Boris's were unreadable.

They had a small stare down, before, Boris gestured to an empty chair. "Sit we have much to discuss."

***

Antanov was sitting strapped into a Chinook helicopter, and he was sure they were going to get caught. He was wearing the previous owner of the helicopter's flight suit. The Paras had jumped them after they had refused to go along with the plan, and were tied up, and hidden in their barrack's. They were only taking Three helicopters. Two Chinooks, and one Hind. Antanov had managed to convince Dima, and his pothead of a gunner Oleg to come along. Oleg was a very proficient gunner but had a taste for locally grown cannabis. He only did it on leave though. Antanov figured it was how he coped. Dima was a short pudgy man, with a taste for fine foods, and he was offset by his tall and skinny gunner. Dima abhorred drugs of any kind and was constantly trying to get Oleg to quit. It had been a point of amusement among the squadron, and they fit so comically well together, and yet were the best of friends. Just like the modest and calm Yuri had offset Antanov's Hotheaded, and egotistical ways. Antanov felt a pang of loss but shook it off. He had a mission today.

Antanov had chosen Dima, and Oleg because they had been good friends to him and Yuri, and had been in Albarazil since 1990 just like he had. They were one of the last few of his original 'family' who he trusted without reservation. Antanov had thought it might be hard to get them to agree. He was asking them to risk their careers, and face a court-martial, and possibly a firing squad. They had agreed to come along, without any questions asked. It had moved him.

Antanov only knew the pilots of the other Chinook by name, he knew nothing about them. They were Danil and Kostya. They seemed competent being transport pilots, and they were fairly average to look at, you wouldn't be able to pick them out of a crowd unless you knew where to look.

Antanov didn't have a co-pilot on this mission, and he felt glad just to be able to fly again. They were using a ruse, that they were going on a reconnaissance in force mission, and they would be flying closer to the Pakistani border. Balalaika was being held in Ejorike after a botched secret mission, and they would cross the border, and bring her back. Boris had, had to handpick members of the company to go a rescue Balalaika. They simply couldn't take everyone. The ones who stayed behind would have to keep the alarm from being raised for as long as possible.

Antanov got a line of communication opens with Control Tower to ask permission to take off on their bogus mission.

"Control, this is Delta-2 over."

"Delta-2 this is Control, go ahead over."

"Requesting permission to take off on bearing 1-1-8, from Apron Echo over."

"Delta-2 this is Control, Acknowledged. Take off on Bearing 1-1-8 from Apron Echo, permission granted, you may proceed."

"Acknowledged, taking off on heading one, one, eight now," Antanov finished. So far so good. With that, he fed more power to the collective and smiled. He was flying again. This would be his final flight as a soviet bird.

They crossed the border, hugging the mountain ravines, and staying under the radar. Antanov didn't like the feel of the Chinook as much as the Hind. While the hind was sharp to respond to commands and felt like he was holding the leash of a snarling beast, the Chinook was more sluggish, and he felt like he was leading a calm milk cow through a pasture.

Antanov eyed the mountain ridges warily, looking for any sign of hostile forces, thumb hovering over the firing studs. Except he had no firing studs, and he had no weapons, no teeth. Antanov grunted in annoyance.

They continued moving carefully, but quickly over, and through the mountain ranges, with Oleg, and Dima on Overwatch. Flying above them like a mother shepherding her young. Antanov looked at his map. "Fives mikes to target, he called over the radio. I want eyes up, and weapons hot." The last part was only for Dima and Oleg. They were the only ones with weapons. Well besides the two full platoons of pissed off Paras in back of the Chinooks ready to rip out some Ejorikean throats. They were armed to the teeth and had a look of utmost determination to them. Boris issued a similar order to them, and a clicking and clacking of weapons being checked, and prepped was heard. They wanted blood.

Their small flight crested one final ridge, and they saw the compound below them. It had a few concrete buildings, but mostly just a city of tents, and a chain-link fence surrounding it. Dima drove his hind into a dive, quickly accelerating past them. He started firing, and his rockets and Oleg's guns quickly turned the compound into a raging hellfire, of explosions and screams. He was careful to avoid the two concrete buildings, as they didn't know which one Balalaika was in. Antanov forced his hind, no his Chinook into a harsh dive, trying to get to the ground as quickly as possible. The rush of acceleration wasn't as great, and the G's were less than what he felt in his hind. He felt let down.

Thirty meters off the ground he flared the helicopter as hard as he could, and it caught itself just before it redecorated the ground. Danil and Kostya were still descending. "Alright follow me, for Balalaika!" Roared Boris. He was audible over the roaring of the rotors. If he was audible, the rest of them was deafening. "UUURRRRRAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" They shouted their battle cry and ran through the minor sandstorm created by the Chinook, G3's out and blazing. They spared no one.

As Antanov was taking back to the sky, he took some light fire from the ground. It peppered the Chinook giving it far too many peepholes, and some narrowly missed him. He missed his hind now. Antanov climbed sharply, leaving the fight to those who could bite. Antanov circled at 4000 feet and watched the battle unfold. The Paras were merciless. No one could stand in their way and those who tried died. He felt nervous anticipation. What if Balalaika was already dead? What would happen to them when they got back? Would they be shot, and if so then all of this was moot. No thought Antanov. They were trying, and that was a fuck of a lot more than most people did. He owed Balalaika the effort and risk. They all did.

Then he got the call, and he was overjoyed. Balalaika was alive, and they needed extraction. He put his Chinook into a sharp dive, and Danil and Kotsya were following close behind. Antanov was peppered by small arms as he landed, but Dima an Oleg silenced them as their hind came snarling over. They were good friends. Then he saw her. She was half running, half being carried by Boris to the hind. The Paras had put a tight circle of protection around them, Boris practically leaped through the open door with Balalaika, and took her to the back, and began swathing her in field dressings. The Royal Paratroopers quickly climbed back into the helicopters while Dima and Oleg gave them Cover. When everyone was aboard, they hightailed it back. They had to deploy flares and drop below a ridgeline to avoid some stingers fired at extreme range. Once they were clear Antanov risked a glance back at Balalaika. Her fatigues were stained with blood, and an entire side of her face was swathed in bandages.

Oh in her eyes, all Antanov saw was complete, and utter hatred. They had done something to her. Something horrible.
Last edited by Qassadia on Sun Aug 30, 2020 3:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
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Founded: Jun 13, 2020
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Tourmaline

Postby Qassadia » Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:02 pm

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Soundtrack


A Time O' Not So Long Ago


"I thought I might find you here."

Heero Yuri’s voice carried in the wind as he stepped up behind Relena. Having her hear the rustling of his shirt in the wind as his feet tromped lightly through the sand. He sat down with his usual grace and turned his face to the woman he so fervently pledged his life to sacrifice himself for.

Relena sat, comfortably stuck in her little pit of sand she had dug with her bottom, legs curled up and her chin resting on them. Relena's arms were wrapped around her legs. She smiled out into the sea, where the waves were crashing laughingly against the shore in front of me.

"How did you know?" She asked, switching my vision up to the orange sky. The sun was setting and seagulls cawed overhead.

Heero's face turned to the water. "This is the beach where we first truly met."

She looked sharply over her shoulder at him, surprised. "You remembered."

The soft breeze blew the thick locks of dark hair around his small face as he nodded slightly. "I tried to tell you how important you are to me."

"Hn." Relena watched the water again, feeling the air blow through her hair, caressing the face. This place was so serene, she thought to herself could stay here forever.

"What are you doing here?" he asked me calmly. He wasn't trying to pump me for information although I knew he'd been sent here.

Relena put her chin back on her knees and shrugged nonchalantly. "Shootin' the breeze," The honey-blonde woman replied, aware that her sentence didn't make any real sense in the order of things.

It was his turn to respond with, "Hn." He wasn't much of a conversation usually anyway.

Relena thought she could change that. "Was it hard?" I asked, breaking the silence abruptly.

Heero looked over at Relena.

"Fighting in Albarazil, I mean?" The Empress raised an eyebrow, truly interested in what he was going to say.'' All the carnage, all the destruction, and people killed! Have you heard the rumors of what happened to Lukov, way back? He lost someone who meant the world for him. This ''Jane'' woman - I heard how he went berserk with rage and went on to slaughter most of the inhabitants of a nearby village, all by himself.''

He thought a minute, Relena could tell. Then he said, "You've just got to stay strong, keep ahold of your sanity."

Relena smiled sort of sheepishly at him; it sounded more like a gentle scold to me than the truth of battle. Relena just hadn't been able to help who she usually was supposed to be—Having to get away from those stuffy old briefing with the Cabinet, do public appearances at the grand opening of a new section of a super-highway, high-tech manufacturing industrial park, address the eternal rebellion that was always stirring up the fires in the Territorial Dependency of New Carthage. Relena's work was done, and here at the beach just looked so inviting…and Heero wanted Relena to be strong, something she always knew she would.

No relief for tired friends

But we share in the struggle of life at Tourmaline

Riding out on an endless wave

Need the strength of this love to get by at Tourmaline


Relena jumped to Heero's feet impulsively and grabbed his hand, pulling it to herself. Glad when she noticed that his feet were bare, as hers were, and so the Empress dragged Heero Yuri, her Knight, her love - to the water's edge, where the salty liquid proceeded to lap at their ankles. Relena held his hand and knew that she would always feel strong knowing that somewhere he was alive and well, finding ways to bring stability and a comfortable, pious, and sustainable life for the people of Cassadia.

Relena turned and looked at Heero, gazing deeply into his eyes, wanting nothing. The Empress wasn't asking any questions, he wasn't providing any answers, and we were both contents to just walk and feel the breeze blow through our clothes and hair.

As Relena looked out onto the foamy surf, my eyes traveled to the deeper part of the sea, where the water turned a rich dark blue. The same color as Heero's eyes.

Washing over the tide can rise

And carry me into the blue

The ocean is your eyes

And I'm drifting into you


Her mind started to wander, and unfortunately, Relena didn't realize it until her mouth had already begun spouting off words. "Remember the time when Mrs. Nadezhda died and that witch from Lightford sent you that letter ?"

Heero's head turned quickly towards Relena's, his eyes wider than usual. The Empress tried to find something in his facial features, but nothing was too apparent. He simply nodded.

"How did you get over that?" The young woman hoped on not pushing him too far but was just so curious as to how he dealt with critical mistakes like that.

He wasn't reluctant to reply, he just took his time and did it slowly. "I offered Sylvia the chance to take her revenge on me." His hand tightened unconsciously around the woman.

"You did?" Relena had a feeling she must have sounded like a little kid with all the questions but was nevertheless on a roll.

"Yeah. Kosmo and I had just left, after what happened at that theater, and I tried to excuse myself for what I had done."

"I guess she didn't do anything to you."

"No, I guess not."

They walked longer in the water in silence until Relena broke the silence and asked, "Where are the others from your section right now?"

"They're waiting for me," he answered vaguely. A seagull crowed in the distance as the sun went almost completely down.

Left behind cherished friends

What we feared we embraced and got by at Tourmaline

Feel my touch, feel this kiss

You are locked in my soul and my mind at Tourmaline


Relena pulled Heero away from the water then and we walked along in the sand. I sighed and said, "Well, then I guess you'd better get back to them, huh?"

He merely looked at me, those shining blue eyes so soft and warm looking.

The Empress dropped his hand and faced him, half-smiling. "I'll be okay. I just needed to play hooky for one day. I'll be having a summit with the King of Ejorike, see if he and I could repair the ties between our land after what the Millenium War caused, so don't you worry about me."

He stood, his hands sunk into his pockets, the wind tussling his hair even more. Relena could only stand and stare into his eyes, heart swelling with joy. Perhaps she would have stayed on the beach for eternity if Heero stayed with her and just allowed the Empress to gaze into his eyes with unimaginable longing.

Washing over the tide can rise

And carry me into the blue

The ocean is your eyes

And I'm drifting into you


Then, the young woman lightly placed her fingertips on either side of his jaw and leaned closer, burying her nose in his deep brown locks of hair that fell over his forehead. Breathing in the scent that was sweetly Heero, then pressed her lips to his skin gently. When Relena pulled away, his eyes were even bigger than before, but they were pleasant. The nubile woman reached down and tenderly squeezed his hand, smiling again, the wind blowing my hair up and around my face.

"Till our paths meet again, Knight-Agent Heero Yuri," I whispered.

And I've never been closer now to anyone in my life

I can feel what you feel

Under skies at Tourmaline


The sound of tires pulling up onto the pavement alerted me, and I recognized the noise right away. I knew Heero had sent it for me to go home, back to that upcoming summit, once he had found me. I knew people had been worried about her sudden take-off into the world and she grinned harder at his little slightly taken aback expression.

Relena turned then and walked towards the car, where she knew Camilla was waiting to drive her mistress home. She could tell that Heero was following her, probably making sure that their Monarch was going to actually get into the car and drive away. Otherwise, his mission wouldn't have been accomplished.

The Empress pulled the door handle up and climbed inside my Rolls-Royce, nestling into the soft velvety seats as I closed the door behind her. Camilla smiled at the Empress through the rearview mirror and began driving away. She didn't dare look through the back windshield at Heero, just staring into each other's eyes, the nubile woman observing Heero's, shining, and soulful eyes in Relena's mind. The Empress hoped the impression they made would stay forever bright in her memory as the car left Heero standing bare-footed on the gravel behind us.

Washing over the tide can rise

And carry me into the blue

The ocean is your eyes

And I'm drifting into you


"Farewell, and until we meet again..Your Majesty."

Drifting into you…
Last edited by Qassadia on Mon Sep 07, 2020 11:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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The Existential Crisis of Baron Punchev Lukov

Postby Qassadia » Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:21 pm

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Year 2000
Somewhere South Off The New Carthage-Ejorike Border



"A TOAST TO OUR COMMANDER; THE MAN WHO WON US THIS BATTLE: FIRST LIEUTENANT PUNCHEV LUKOV!"

The sudden roar from outside his broken window of a ruined tenement building, which woke the newly promoted Master Sergeant Punchev Lukov from his twentieth hour of nightmare plagued and methamphetamine withdrawal sleep.

Groaning as the stiffness in his joints returned to him, Lukov pulled himself up from his bed, yawning as he stretched out in place, he could feel all of his joints cracks. Marching almost one thousand captured men had been a tedious job, as had moved the captured Ejorikean equipment he decided to bring back for inspecting back in the Home Island. Finding a place to hold the prisoners was even more so for him and his men. Without a pen to hold them at, Lukov had to place them at the assembly points under shifts.

The search for accommodations for the prisoners was hampered by the gathering of posh Cassadian senior and other high-ranking officers who greeted the returning company. Of them, General Momchil Tukarevsky, who stood there, bright-eyed and clasping his hand, telling him how proud both he and the entire division were of his total victory. Next to him was Karadich Lazarov. As commander of the 1st Armored Division ''Golden Division'' stationed along a section of the frontline to the east along the Albarazil coastline, It was him who saw to his field promotion. The men cheered, Punchev smiled, and shook Lazarov's hand graciously.

He felt nothing for it.

It was not the last honor. He had been recommended and approved of the An Order of Glory 1st Class with Oak Leaves and Swords. He was to receive it from Marshal Igor Sergeyev when he arrived in a matter of days. It was an honor the Emperor usually bestowed, but with his focus on the east, it was left to the Marshal of His Majesty's Armed Forces in command of the front. He grinned to Momchil, and then to his men, who cheered even louder at learning of the honor bestowed on not just him but for them as well.

He felt nothing for that either.

He also received communication from people across the Holy Kingdom from all sections of society, including from the respective rulers of the ''Self Governing Territories''. Congratulations from Khan Simeon II of Bulgar and that fat pig Rashid, praise from his old Commander and mentor, Ivanov Auron, Praise from his father Colonel Maidanov Lukov for representing the generational strength and unflinching service to the Crown in this first battle against the Ejorikean deviant heretics (The cable was immediately set on fire when he finished reading it) and finally letters from all of the Peacekraft's children, From the hero adoration coming from the sweet and mellow Relena to Cornelia and Euphemia, both of them relatively overwhelmed with joy in celebration of the achievement. He smiled brightly, spoke happy words about the Peacekraft's, he wrote back to them jubilantly.

Still, he felt nothing.

There had been no word from Doctor Fr. Mathew James, to give the usual letters that briefed him on the state of his mother's spiritual, physical, and emotional mutilated condition. At the very least to read through the usual word of how Lili slipped back into a state of sanity, out of her primal, babbling degenerative psychological state.

Oh Lord did that hurt.

Sitting there on his Land Force-issued camp field bed, alone and in the dark, ignoring the partying coming from his men; Punchev broke down into tears. This was a first in many, many years.

This was the goal he had sought since he was but a small child? To lead men into combat, kill the enemy? It was one thing to be a soldier. It was quite another to be a leader.

He had killed ninety-one men, possibly more factoring in the wounded he allowed to be sent back to Radima. He was not a clog in the machinations of another man's mind. They were his machinations! How could he permit such madness to occur!

How could this have happened? This battle he had pursued as some twisted quest to win approval in the eyes of his father. It had hit him what he had done. Ninety-one men dead, God knows how many lives he altered for the wounded. Command on this sort of scale… it made him sick when he thought about it.

His hands shaking as he wiped his eyes clean, Punchev pressed his hands against his head. If people could see him now at this very moment, as weak-willed and mad as his mother had been in life. What an embarrassment. He promised himself when he left to become an officer like his father and grandfather before him. In that moment of great clarity, Baron Punchev Lukov, a family that was the bane of Jews and enemies of the Crown stretching back for four generations now; he made a vow to himself and the Heavens above that never would he allow anything to put himself in this sort of pathetic state.

"TO OUR FALLEN BROTHERS IN CHRIST," he heard Svetoslav roar out from outside. "TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT OF YOU WILL NOT COME HOME WITH US, BUT TAKE HEART KNOWING WE INFLICTED THREE THOUSAND DEAD ON THEIR SIDE! THOSE ASSHOLES NEVER KNEW WHAT HIT THEM!"

Exhaling as he heard the crowd roar back to life, Punchev pulled himself up from out of his bed and wandered over to get dressed once more. Rolling down the sleeves and pulling back on the gloves that hid the marks of long-healed slitted wrists and self-inflicted cuts. He pulled on his Land Force tunic and headed downstairs, his hands fumbling for a cigarette. He would make an appearance for his men. Put on his brave face and join the festivals outside. With any luck, it would take his mind off everything, from death to the lack of news regarding Lili.

Hitting the last stairs, he paused to light up a cigarette. That was when he heard it.

A moan…

…and then a grunt…

…and then the faint sound of two people giggling as though they were doing some sort of illicit activities.

Rolling his eyes as he exhaled through his nose, Punchev gave a loud, abrupt coughed violently, causing the moaning to stop and the frame of a naked man launch from off the couch. In a fraction of a second, a man was standing there, naked and standing in a state of attention for a superior commanding officer. Punchev groaned and averted his eyes from Kristian Borisov who stood there unashamed by his nudity.

"S-shit sir, I…" he began to sputter.

Borisov was joined by his partner. It was the Albarazil skeleton, Aishe. She had enough sense to cover whatever she had with her hands. Pulling on his peaked cap, Lukov turned back to the two of them at long last. Her thin lips allowed a slightly nervous laugh to come from her, earning Baron Lukov's to narrow his eyes at her for a brief moment before turning back to Kristyan. At least his tastes did not go the other way, like some of the self-entitled aristocratic snobs with whom he had to bear attending Officer School with, before the Emperor pushed the button on that head of the Oxenstierna noble family who had been inflaming the insurgency in Albarazil.

The one who bankrolled the plot of terrorists that flew those planes into the Carthage Palace, Krillin Trade Center, and Headquarters of the General Staff.....Killing almost two thousand; men, women, and children

The spark that had ignited this war, between Cassadia and the Kingdom of Ejorike - a conflict that was now approaching its first year. Having had them on the back foot for the first three months of the war, before the Top Brass rolled sleeves and shipped meaningful reinforcements to this overseas hellhole of a bloodbath.

"Save the excuse, Kris. I see your festival wasn't enough," Lukov grumbled at them, rearranging his belt holster. He looked at the two of them once again before adding. "You're under orders to impregnate her and kick her out. I don't want this sandn*gger whore on my front any longer."

The two of them shared a look.

"Ah… yes, Your Grace... I-I am sure we can arrange something…" was all Aishe could say.

Deciding he did not need to have this conversation any further, Lukov turned and left, leaving the two of them to continue their dalliances. It was something that apparently wasn't bothered by the interruption from the sound of flesh hitting flesh.

Taking another drag of his cigarette as he exited the improvised barracks, the soldiers, all of whom were deep in celebration, all turned in his direction. Their celebration ceased in under a second as someone screamed 'ATTENTION' in the presence of their commanding officer. Hoch turned his eyes to look at all of the men trying to stand at attention. Most of them were simply too plastered to remain still for very long.

Without words, he stepped over to join them. One of the men, a Corporal, no more than twenty was carrying a bottle of brandy. Hoch reached out and grabbed it from his hands. Pausing for a moment to smirk at the Corporal whose serious expression formed into a grin; he took a long careful drink before handing it back to the soldier. The action was not lost on the men. The gathering of the war band broke out into a wild eruption of cheers for him.

Lukov allowed them a slight smile before turning away to wander to a parked FV432, which was occupied by Svetoslav and his crew. Another, from an attached element to the unit, a tank Commander was grinning at him, gesturing him over, a cigarette in his mouth as he waved a bottle of Ejorikean Akvavit at him. Before he knew it, an arm belonging to Sarafim Kosta caught him off guard. The heavily intoxicated Mladshi Sergeant grinned at his Commander.

"Lukov, you lunatic… You f-fucking crazy man..." he slurred to the staring First Lieutenant, "I-I should have known you'd be this awe-inspiring when we were kids… Good God. Those Ejks... Ejorikeans never knew what hit them!"

Lukov gave Serafim a look of warning,

"Serafim… You're sloshed…" Lukov muttered in a form of a warning, his tone stern as he climbed into the back of the FV432.

Staggering in place, the Captain gave a short, nervous chuckle.

"Oh right…"

Serafim came to attention and flung his right arm high in the air.

"HAIL, HAIL THE BARON! HAIL! HAIL! HAIL!" Serafim started screaming at the top of his lungs, gesturing wildly to Punchev. "A TOAST TO MY FRIEND HERE, THE POSTER FUCKING BOY FOR THE GLORIOUS, INDOMITABLE HOLY KINGDOM; THANK OUR LORD ABOVE US FOR SUCH VALIANT KNIGHT OF THE EMPEROR!

The surrounding men stared at the event. Both curious and in some cases looking for insults offered by the drunk man. Sarcasm in the Holy Kingdom was heavily frowned upon. Before Lukov could respond in any waypoint out just how low he felt for his old cause, he was spared a debate as Svetoslav reached his Captain and dragged him away from Lukov, leaving the Baron alone with Svetoslav and his crew. Sighing, Punchev took a seat across from Svetoslav, who pressed a tin cup into his hand.

"I find it hard to believe you are friends with such an idiot," Svetoslav muttered as he poured the Lieutenant a generous helping of Ejorikean alcohol. "His old unit has been falling apart since the beginning of the war. They're talking about surrender now. I cannot believe they failed this terribly up north."

Punchev dropped his cigarette and stamped it out as he took a careful sip of the strong drink. Having to hear lie after lie from those bastard propagandists back in Carthage about the situation in Tusrar must have been painful to listen to.

"He has his uses. If I had my way I would send all these survivors of the 4th and 6th Land Force Border Regiments off to a leisure furlough for unwinding. They're good soldiers, but one misstep and they've lost it," Punchev said as the tank commander poured him a drink. "Good work out there, Sveltoslav-e, the rest of you. I'm putting you all up for promotion… Your command of the tank support detachment was spectacular."

Ignoring the sudden shouts of jubilation from the Babuska I crew, instead, the shouting in both Cassadian and nordic-esque Ejorikean forced his attention away from the good humor coming from Svetoslav and onto his men. He watched as the men parted, allowing a dozen armed sentries to push through. With them were six men, their uniforms tattered and unkempt. Leading them was Zukanov; his hand was wrapped around the back of a seventh Ejorikean's jacket.

The party mood subsided as they realized the enemy was amongst them.

Sipping his tin cup of Akavit, Lukov's frown became increasingly apparent as the soldier was brought ever closer. Unlike the others, who were in various states of battery; limping or with broken noses, bloody mouths, or smashed purpled faces; this soldier appeared to have not been touched. Punchev adverted his eyes as he downed the last of his drink and forced himself not to imagine the usual cruelties that could have been done to him.

"Grigori?" Lukov called out as he handed the cup back to Svetoslav for another refill.

With one hard shove, Grigori kicked the young baby-faced Ejorikean soldier hard against the back of the FV432. With a dull thump, he bounced off the vehicle and fell to the ground in front of Punchev and the other Ejorikeans behind him, who were forced down onto their knees as well. The soldier moaned, his gripping the bruising covering his left cheek.

Snorting in apparent disgust, Grigori looked up to Lukov once again.

"Sir, we were preparing the prisoner transfer, as you requested. We were performing a routine final check for contraband carried by the Ejorikeans," Grigori informed The Baron. Gesturing to the injured soldier, he added. "This one resisted, so the guard held him down while an inspection was performed. We discovered this."

Letting go of the bleeding soldier, Grigori stepped forward, his hands digging into his pocket for a moment, and produced a Silver Medal of Courage, the ribbon bloodied and frayed. Grigori placed it into the Baron's waiting hands and backed off; allowing the First Lieutenant time to inspect the badge of honor carefully like it was as delicate as glass.

Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he could feel his seething rage as to what Grigori had uncovered begun to simmer to a slow boil. To Lukov; there was a special place in hell for men who looted medals off the dead, especially off of his dead.

Punchev looked up, his eyes locked onto the terrified to high-hell prisoner like a bird of prey staring down a creature lower down the food chain.

"As per the Emperor's orders, the men have complied with the anti-summary execution orders," Grigori pressed on, forcing his attention back to the heaving Ejorikean. "They have insisted we bring him before you for your judgment instead. A few of the Border Korps members felt since you know a little Ejorikean; you could gauge the situation the best… and for the record, his condition was due to his cooperative behavior."

The men holding the Ejorikeans chuckled lowly at Peiper's statement.

"We brought his squad as well, at Major Slobodani's request, to act as witnesses," Added one of the junior officers, apparently wanting the praise of the Major and the First Lieutenant, or he wanted the point across to Lukov that he didn't want to be executed like Major Benkovski.

Looking to Major Slobodan, the veteran of the Border Korps, Joachim nodded to him gratefully as he pocketed the cross and pulled a mostly clean rag from off the APC's munitions supply. Both Grigori and Lukov appeared to be on the same wavelength with regard to prisoner handling.

Quietly, he poured himself another cup of Akavit. Instead of gulping it down, he brought it with him as he climbed out of the back of the tracked vehicle and joined Grigori who went back to holding the Ejorikean down in place, his pistol pressed against his neck.

"Let him go," the newly promoted officer ordered Grigori.

Although the promotion and the official acknowledgment that Lukov was the superior officer seemed to increase Grigori's respect for the younger soldier; He still hesitated for a good long moment. Finally, Grigori obliged, tucking his Hi-Power away. His expression became one of disgust as he kicked the kid hard in the back. Punchev shot him a look of warning before turn back to the soldier, sobbing with tears streaming down from the pain of the savage beating the man had dealt him.

Ignoring the feeling of guilt that this violence to a POW had occurred, stealing from the dead or not, Lukov stepped to the baby faced-soldier, quivering.

"What is your name?" The Baron switched to Ejorikean, kneeling before the boy, his hand reaching out to push his head back so the frightened soldier could look him in the eyes.

The soldier did not reply. He simply continued to moan, blood was draining heavily from his facial lacerations. Lukov exhaled and choose instead to not pursue the answer just yet. Silently, he wiped the injuries the young American sustained clean pausing to hold the rag tightly over a large gash against his head. The blood in the soldier's nose bubbled as he sniffed and took over clutching the rag. Behind him, he could feel the eyes of his men on him. Where had the lunatic who shot his own man and drove his men so hard that they annihilated a premiere armor division?

In truth, Lukov wondered the same. The rage that had been flowing through him simply could not surface. Not when he held this much control. Not when his men were looking for him to be some sort of moral standard. Perhaps the mess lying before him was too pitiful to make an example out of.

"Gu…. Gustaf… Hoch" he sputtered out, his eyes darting from Punchev to Grigori, whose hand was resting on his holster.

"Gustaf…or is it Hoch?" The Lieutenant repeated as he dabbed the rag into his whiskey and tended to the blood coming from the soldier's ear, making the young man jump in place. "What about your surname?"

"Torstensson… Gustaf Hoch, Private First Class, S-Serial Numbe-."

Lukov chuckled slightly; he shook his head back and forth only twice.

"I'm not looking for your secrets, Private Torstensson. Considering what I did to your division, I imagine a man of your rank would not have many secrets left to spill," Hoch spoke to the Private reassuringly. "Do you know why you and your squad have been dragged before me? Why my men treated you like this?"

The soldier turned his eyes away from the Lieutenant. He swallowed painfully as he looked up to Hoch once more. Hoch turned away briefly, standing up and pulling the bottle of Akavit from Svetoslav's hands.

"I had… I had a Medal of Courage …" Torstensson managed to get out. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, sir."

As the strange-sounding Ejorikean started to sob, Lukov could not help but grin at him. Had the Ejorikeans been recruiting straight from the orphanages and special needs schools? It would not surprise him one bit if that were indeed the case. Lukov's eyes flickered to the rest of his squad. All but one of them was staring ahead defiantly. The last one was staring right back at him, clearly the leader of this group.

Sighing, Lukov returned to the boy. Kneeling back in front of him, he took a drink of Akavit before offering it to the soldier. Torstensson shook his head, his head bowed as he drooled out a mouthful of blood.

"That is a very good answer, Gustaf Torstensson," The Baron found himself repeating his praise as though he was addressing a child. "I'm always relieved when I find someone willing to own up to a mistake. So many men weasel out of personal responsibility..."

Offering him one more chance for a drink and getting no one again. Lukov sighed and stood up, handing the bottle back to Svetoslav and tugging his Hi-Power from out of his holster. The moment made the squad behind Torstensson roar out in protests. Torstensson on the other hand went sheet white at the sight of the demon now holding a pistol at his side. Surrounding the Ejorikeans, Lukov barely registered the looks his men were giving each other. They were witnessing their executioner Commandant looking down on his victim.

"Private Torstensson, you must understand this. To many men of my Company, as well as the rest of the Land Force, getting caught possessing a Medal of Courage from a dead man is subject to possible summary execution," he attempted to explain the now sobbing Private. "There is no trial, no appeal. I take you somewhere quiet, give you a cigarette if I am generous, and then shoot you in the back of the skull… Right about here."

The Baron tapped the pistol barrel right where he was referencing. He could feel the vibrations of the Private shoot up through his sidearm.

"Oh Lord, please don't shoot, dad passed away, and I have to look after mama and my little baby si-" He started to sob.

"SHUT YOUR MOUTH... Consider yourself lucky I have issued standing orders against unreported executions," Lukov stated as he pulled back from the soldier. "That means I make the final call on the matter."

Finishing his inspection he paused back in front of the frightened man's line of sight. Once more he bent down onto his knees. He retrieved the Medal of Courage from his pant pocket and displayed it to the Private.

"Francis Alam, 1990..." spoke Lukov, reading the Medal of Courage inscription before pocketing it once more. He looked up, adding. "To you, he was just another Cassadian, a treacherous backward scum-of-the-earth, a man dehumanized by your propaganda machine. To you, a Medal of Courage is simply a war souvenir meant to be traded and exchanged, or handed to your mongrel children to ruin. In actuality, this medal personifies a man's bravery. To steal a medal such as this, you steal his dignity. This would ring true for your case should I steal your medals. You can take a dead man's wallet, you can take his rations… weapons, his gear… you can take his watch, his clothes but a medal..?"

Lukov shook his head and stood up. He turned his focus away from the kid and focused on the gathering of his men. The smiles on their faces vanished the moment they noticed their NCO scowling at each one of them.

"This extends to you all as well," he warned his soldiers back in his native tongue. His voice significantly harder compared to the tone used for Torstensson. "From what I understand, you have all heard about Major Benkovski and his actions, as well as my response to his actions. I will not deny I shot the Major dead for killing an entire family. For your sakes, if you have taken medals off the fallen or captured Ejorikeans, I ask you to return them to men you stole them from, or to the officers. If you do not, I will make sure you come to regret it."

He was immediately answered with 'SIR, YES SIR!' shouted by every man gathered around the display, their words both frightened and respectful. Nodding as they acknowledge his new directive, Lukov turned back to the young Private.

"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry..." the boy finally stammered out since he was informed of an impending death sentence. "Mama said I should bring home an enemy medal for her. If I knew that you were so strict about the medals…"

Lukov blinked, his mouth curled up as he absorbed the excuse. What was it with parents who told their war bound children to do stupid things?

"Your MOMMY!?" The Baron repeated incredulously. "A mother's who has never served in her life has no right to dictate the way the son should conduct his war. You're the one risking your life. Not her!"

Listening to Torstensson's incoherent mumble, Lukov stood up once more from his place next to the younger soldier, his pistol raised as his body moved behind the Private, pressing the barrel where he said he would place it.

"NO, He's just a goddamn kid!"

Lukov rounded his field of view back to face the source of the angry Ejorikean shot at him. It belonged to whom Hoch had assumed to be the leader of the squad. He was a roughed faced man; his face was cut up pretty badly, but they were old wounds from the battle. Silently, he lowered his sidearm and stepped over to the man who was interested in keeping one of his own alive.

"Who are you?" Punchev ordered, gesturing at him with his pistol.

"His squad leader, Sergeant Lillienstedt Ruuth," The Sergeant said, struggling to stand up. "He's young and stupid. My father served in several border skirmishes with your people, before the war. He got in shit when he tried to steal from a dead Cassadian by his CO. I should have issued a warning to my boys, to him. Don't punish the boy for this. Please, sir. If I were in your shoes, I would be just as cross, but he doesn't need to die over this!"

Lukov's mouth twitched. Although he served at a rank of Sergeant during the start of this war, it was still low enough to sympathize with the position, the Ejorikean must have been in. It was the personal responsibility of your underlings. He would say anything; do anything to make sure one of your own didn't have to die...

"I appreciate your understanding," Lukov said to the Sergeant, before turning to Harris, adding, "How old are you?"

"Fourteen…" was his immediate response, shooting out the words at record speed. He must have heard the sympathy in the Lieutenant's voice.

Punchev sighed.

The Baron harbored neither sympathy nor Christian mercy.

"Fourteen is old enough to know better."

Deliberately choosing not to register the cries of protests from the POWs around him, Lukov walked back over to the teenaged soldier, redrawing his pistol. Pulling back the pistol slide, Punchev pressed the Hi-Power hard against the head of the suddenly screaming Private and pulled the trigger as the Ejorikeans behind him let out roars in a state of rage.

*BANG*… *BANG BANG*

The boy fell to the ground in an instant like a rock, his life so young, cut short. Lukov maintained his gaze on the boy's corpse as though he wasn't certain if he was alive or dead, he proceeded to empty the pistol's remaining twelve rounds into the now cold dead body. His deed now done, Lukov turned back to look to his men. Around him, the Company murmured, some turning away as they realized their Lieutenant was serious in going with the execution.

"You should have taken that drink, Gustaf…" Lukov idly spoke.

Punchev took sight off the boy and turned Grigori, who nodded and went around to issuing orders to the sentries to collect the POW`s and return them to the makeshift camp where there were to be detained, to be sent to the rear lines to repair bridges and railway tracks, as well as keep the roads open as they still had to withstand daily bombardments by the Ejorikean Airforce and ballistic missiles, even after being driven back so close to where the border with Ejorike and Cassadia's overseas province of Albarazil was before the sudden pre-emptive swarm incursion that signaled the start of hostilities.

"Consider this your day of absolution, Torstensson," Lukov said as he watched Grigori drag the boy's bullet-riddled body away, leaving behind a trail of blood. "I have punished you for your sins in this life so that the Lord can receive you into His Kingdom in the next. It's more than most will ever receive these days."

Watching boy leak out a pool of blood, Grigori continued dragging the body away; Lukov turned away and climbed back into the armored personnel carrier. He needed another drink and a cigarette. He had already taken so many lives for a cause that had cost him his psyche and soul. He was not willing to take another.
Last edited by Qassadia on Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:37 pm, edited 14 times in total.
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Regional Map Of Krillin
Embassy Exchange Program Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
“All men are NOT created equal! Some are born smarter, or more beautiful, or with parents of greater status. Some, by contrast, are born of weak body or mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different! Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory. That’s why there are wars, violence, and unrest.” – Charles Von Peacecraft
Map Of The Holy Kingdom Of Cassadia
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